Brain candy

The Lodestar of Ys (The Stories of Ys #1)The Lodestar of Ys by Amy Rae Durreson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marriage-of-convenience, m-m romance, in a fantasy setting where magic makes ships sail between islands that float in the air.

The threat of a neighboring, evil empire more or less forces our heroes to get married against their will, to help protect the good guys against magic-destroying hounds, ogres and invading hordes.

I went into this expecting brain candy in a light fantasy setting, predictable, shallow and touching on all of the usual cliches. Nice guy has to marry tall, dark and grumpy with lots of muscles. They hate each other’s guts, then grudgingly become friends and eventually lovers, with the required HEA. Or at least a HFN.

I got all that, but on top of that there was actually a plot. Well, at least until the romance smoop and sillyness took over. And some pretty decent world building.

So, if you are looking for some pretty well written romance smoop, that has a decent plot, is not cringe-worthy, with a little porn thrown in and some suspense, this works well.

Free on Amazon, including two additional short stories, Homecoming and Hounded. Those are mostly fluff and porn and don’t add to the story.

View all my reviews

Crash landing

Binary SystemBinary System by Eric Brown
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

THE PRIDE OF Amsterdam was transiting the Lunar wormhole when the explosion ripped through the starship’s fusion core. One second the Amsterdam was a billion-tonne, city-sized exploration-and-terraforming vessel embarking on a routine mission to 61 Cygni A; the next, a broken-backed wreck torn apart by an expanding fireball of superheated plasma.

Nice plot idea, creat cover, looked like a great SciFi adventure when I picked it up. 10% into the book I felt mostly irritated, was rolling my eyes a lot and contemplated not to finish it.

Delia is a scientist on board of the Amsterdam. With the help of her Imp, an AI implanted in her brain, she manages to survive the explosion and to crash land on a nearby planet.

She is found and taken away by aliens. Here is where my issues with this book started. No communication attempts are made by them or her, she is unclear about her situation, so she let’s her Imp sedate her to pass the traveling time. Several times. What?

Imp is a cool idea and a handy thing to have, but felt like a lazy plot device to me, so Delia can get out of tricky situations and overcome every obstacle just by asking. How convenient.

The original inhabitants of the planet do not have any apparent technology, but can recognize a depiction of their planet from space and read maps. They measure distances in kilometers. How likely is that? And how likely is it that they conceptually understand everything Delia tells them? Shouldn’t they be more alien? Other planet, other developmental level, not mammals… (maybe the blue one, can’t tell…)

There is no decent attempt to explore the alien cultures, the world building is very spotty. A hint here and there, a small info dump somewhere. Some fun ideas, too, but mostly this wasn’t very well done.

Then there is the repetitiveness of some unusual vocabulary. What was that about? ‘Favourite word of the month, let’s use it a bunch of times in my current novel?’

So, bottom line, not a bad story. But the execution of it was poor. Shallow SciFi adventure with an irritating lack of world building or decent scientific backup. What a lot of wasted potential.

View all my reviews

Hear me roar…

The Pride of Chanur (Chanur #1)The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint. It was pale, naked, starved-looking in what fleeting glimpse anyone on The Pride of Chanurhad had of it.”

I might have read this 30 years ago or so, but I remembered nothing. Just a vague feeling that I liked it.

I did like it, although it took a while to warm up to Pyanfar, Tully and the crew of the Pride of Chanur. I did love most of the other characters though, their descriptions, oddities and quirks. That is really where Cherryh seems to shine–world building, a great way of creating a “feel” for other societies and how they tick. Even in Foreigner, which I found boring for very long stretches, her society and world building stuck with me the most. I will definitely read more of Pyanfar’s adventures.

P.S: Is it weird that in my head the Kif sound like Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug?

3-4 stars, not quite decided yet.

View all my reviews

Proper space opera…

Shards of Honor (Vorkosigan Saga, #1)Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio version again. Really not a fan of Grover Gardner. His voice makes it sound so dated. Well, it is, but it would be nice, if the narration was a bit more… I don’t know. Lively? It sounds as if he’s reading it sitting on a park bench, whilst feeding some squirrels or knitting socks… Maybe I need to switch to the ebook for the next book in this chronological buddy read.

The two main characters are likeable enough. I couldn’t relate to either of them very well at first, but Cordelia grew on me in the second half of the book. Vorkosigan and the supporting characters stayed a little one-dimensional.

There is a very strange rape-attempt scene in the middle. My issue is perhaps more with Bujold’s writing than with how the character reacts. I am told what the character thinks, but I don’t actually experience the situation with her. It might also have to do with the audiobook narration, i.e. the narrator giving her a voice that I do not like much. I am not really sure, though. Which enforces my idea to actually read the next book, not listen to it.

World building is good, I really liked the animal life on the planet they were stranded on in the beginning. I wish the adventure part of the early chapters, trecking together through a potentially hostile landscape to safety, would have been a stronger and more exciting narrative. Instead my favourite part of the book was the fallout of Cordelia’s adventures, when she returned back to Beta Colony.

Bottom line, a little better than ok, not great.

View all my reviews