Accelerating Universe and Apparent Brightness – two books by Nicola Claire – Review

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About Accelerating Universe

“This is how we’d traverse the stars; limping and crippled, the last survivors of a dying solar system.”

Fleeing from a past that almost killed her and a present that promises she’ll only burn, pay-for-passage passenger Ana Kereama boards the Sector Two lead vessel Pavo with only survival in mind.

What she finds is a reason to live, and it has nothing to do with New Earth.

Teaming up with the sexy and commanding Captain John Jameson to protect those on board their ship, Ana fights not only for her vessel’s survival but the intelligent being emerging within its gel coated walls.

Love and trust are born amongst the stars and plasma fire, but is it possible for a captain to be involved with a second lieutenant?

And can any of them hope to survive the treacherous voyage unscathed?

When humanity reaches for the stars in a race for survival, only the most daring amongst them will succeed.

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Review of Accelerating Universe

5 Stars

The Sector Fleet is a 4-book series about each of the 4 lead vessels that are taking the remnants of Earth’s population to their new home. When I read the blurb for Accelerating Universe about the Sector 2 lead vessel, I knew I would have to read it.

First, I always appreciate an interesting ship AI. Pavo (also the ship name), was hit by a solar flare just as it left Earth and seems to be malfunctioning. Or evolving. The AI latches onto passenger Ana Kareama as the human who might understand him (or it, but it seems like a him).

Ana’s past experience as a medic and soldier somehow brings her to Captain John Jameson’s attention. They will need to team up to figure out how to deal with Pavo, the conniving civilian government and the dangers of the unknown. They also get to team up romantically.

The title of each chapter is a line of dialogue that will be spoken (you get to guess at how that line will come up) and each chapter is also headed with the name of the characters who has the POV, a device I have always favored.

Accelerating Universe is a fast-paced with adventure, intrigue, romance and a little humor thrown in. If you enjoy scifi romance, you might want to check this one out.

About Apparent Brightness

“Please do not be alarmed. This is for your own protection.”

Working as the Chief Engineer onboard the ESAS Chariot out of Europe, Commander Camille Rey expected her position to be somewhat challenging on occasion.

She did not expect to be fighting for her and her fellow crewmen’s lives immediately after take-off.

Teaming up with the very proper, and very English Captain Noah Vaughan to combat a desperate saboteur onboard their vessel, Camille discovers that not all the malfunctions the Chariot is experiencing are human-related.

Secrets and desires are exposed amongst the stars and plasma fire, but can the captain and the chief overcome their cultural differences?

And can any of them hope to survive the treacherous voyage to New Earth unscathed?

When humanity reaches for the stars in a race for survival, only the most daring amongst them will succeed.

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Review of Apparent Brightness

4 stars

The Sector Fleet is a 4-book series about each of the 4 lead vessels that are taking the remnants of Earth’s population to their new home. After enjoying book 1, Accelerating Universe, I decided to give book 2 a try.

In Apparent Brightness, the first thing you find out is that the Sector 1 lead vessel, Pavo, was destroyed in a solar flare as the sector vessels left earth. Chariot, captained by Noah Vaughan, is now the lead vessel. Chariot’s Chief Engineer Camille Rey is the first to discover the odd message “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” that seems to appear out of nowhere. It is accompanied by system failures and Camille quickly becomes the detective that follows the clues left by the mysterious message sender.

Having read the first book, I was pretty sure there was an AI involved, and I don’t think it is much of a spoiler to confirm that. This AI seems very child-like and unpredictable. The captain and the engineer team up to figure out the AI and the system failures all the while fighting their attraction to each other. Okay, they don’t fight it that much.

The AI and characters from book 1 in also make an appearance in book 2, nicely tying the two books together. Like book 1, Apparent Brightness succeeds as both sci fi and romance. I found the two books similar enough that I don’t plan to read the any more in the series. That is just me though. I think many will look at this book and continue with the series. It does seem destined to tell a great story.

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Entreat Me and Lover of Thorns and Holy Gods – two books by Grace Drave – Review

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About Entreat Me

Afflicted by a centuries-old curse, a warlord slowly surrenders his humanity and descends toward madness. Ballard of Ketach Tor holds no hope of escaping his fate until his son returns home one day, accompanied by a woman of incomparable beauty. His family believes her arrival may herald Ballard’s salvation.

…until they confront her elder sister.

Determined to rescue her sibling from ruin, Louvaen Duenda pursues her to a decrepit castle and discovers a household imprisoned in time. Dark magic, threatening sorcerers, and a malevolent climbing rose with a thirst for blood won’t deter her, but a proud man disfigured by an undying hatred might. Louvaen must decide if loving him will ultimately save him or destroy him.

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Review of Entreat Me

Loved, loved, loved this story!!!

There are so many reasons. The scarred, cursed, really old hero Ballard. The not-so-old-yet-not-young, outspoken, widow heroine Louven. The devoted, contentious sorcerer Ambrose. The matter-of-fact cook/housekeeper Magda Even the nasty, morally bankrupt villain Jimenin. Every story needs a villain!

The setting is also such a great part of the story. Ballard’s castle, ensorceled to dissuade outsiders and allow time to pass more quickly outside the castle than within. There are roses that grow in winter and attach the cursed.

The castle had a strangeness about it— places where torchlight flickered one way while the shadows it cast scampered another; stairs ended in opposite directions without ever turning.   The walls echoed in tight places instead of cavernous ones, and she’d once clearly heard a tapestry in Cinnia’s bower whisper a poem she knew from childhood.

Like every Grace Draven book I have read, the book stayed with me for days after I had finished. The story is ages old, yet fresh. It is complex and direct. The romance is simple and challenging. But mostly, it is the characters that hold a place in my heart. Ballard and Louven are deep, thoughtful and honest characters that I would invite into my home anytime.

About Lover of Thorns and Holy Gods

A trilogy of short stories from the worlds of Master of Crows, Entreat Me, and Radiance.

STRONG BLOOD (3,504 words) – Ballard de Sauveterre from ENTREAT ME crosses time to share a drink with Silhara of Neith from MASTER OF CROWS and discovers a connection that spans generations.

CROW AWAKENED (2,975 words) – A short follow-up to THE BRUSH OF BLACK WINGS in which a terrified Silhara finally learns why his beloved wife Martise is fading before his eyes.

A MATTER OF TRUST (5,336 words) – A cultural divide is resolved in the most delightful way between Brishen and Ildiko Khaskem. Takes place after RADIANCE and before EIDOLON.

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Review of Lover of Thorns and Holy Gods

This will be a quick review about three very short stories by one of my favorite authors. This is for those of you that have read Entreat Me, Master of Crows, The Brush of Black Wings and Radiance. You will be familiar with the characters and, I trust, happy to get a glimpse of their lives after the epic goings on in the novels. I was especially pleased with Crow Awakened as it confirmed what I determined was going on at the very end of The Brush of Black Wings.  I loved these stories!

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Before Mars (Planetfall, #3) by Emma Newman – Review

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About Before Mars

Hugo Award winner Emma Newman returns to the captivating Planetfall universe with a dark tale of a woman stationed on Mars who starts to have doubts about everything around her.

After months of travel, Anna Kubrin finally arrives on Mars for her new job as a geologist and de facto artist in residence–and already she feels she is losing the connection with her husband and baby at home on Earth.

In her room on the base, Anna finds a mysterious note, painted in her own hand, warning her not to trust the colony psychiatrist. A note she can’t remember painting.

When she finds a footprint in a place that the colony AI claims has never been visited by humans, Anna begins to suspect that she is caught up in an elaborate corporate conspiracy. Or is she losing her grip on reality? Anna must find the truth, regardless of what horrors she might discover or what they might do to her mind.

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Review of Before Mars

I quickly got into this mystery when Anna Kubrin’s first day at the Mars colony leaves her with several questions. It seems her luggage has been messed with. She finds a warning note from herself. And one of the team members takes an immediate dislike to her.

What I did not know is was the cause of these questions. It could be that Anna is not quite right in the mind or it could be that things are just not as they should be.

In this future, everyone has an implant in their brain. The implant allows them to record anything and relive it later in an immersion session. Immersion psychosis is a possible outcome. The implant also interfaces with external systems, providing communication, news and even health information. It seems like so much could go wrong with such a system.

But Anna is the heroine of the story so I was convinced (well, I hoped) that she was sane and there was a real mystery to be solved.

The Mars base that is the location of this story is called Principia. That is also the name of the AI that runs the facility and interfaces with the implants that everyone has. It controls access within the base and outside of the base. Is it perfect? That is a great question.

No spoilers, here. Lets just say the mystery has many aspects: psychology, geology, conspiracy, art, family, discovery and, ultimately, the future of earth and human-kind.

Before Mars is book three of the series Planetfall, but stands alone. It is the first book in the series I have read, but I am interested enough to go back and read book 1, which is also called Planetfall.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, though NetGalley, so that I could bring you this honest review.

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