Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman – Review

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About Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate. Thora was once a member of the interplanetary elite, but since her prophetic delusions helped mobilize a revolt on Orem, she’s been banished to the farthest reaches of space, because of the risk that her very presence could revive unrest.

Upon arrival, the team finds an extraordinary crystalline planet, laden with dark matter. Then a crew member is murdered and Thora mysteriously disappears. Thought to be uninhabited, the planet is in fact home to a blind, sentient species whose members navigate their world with a bizarre vocabulary and extrasensory perceptions.

Lost in the deep crevasses of the planet among these people, Thora must battle her demons and learn to comprehend the native inhabitants in order to find her crewmates and warn them of an impending danger. But her most difficult task may lie in persuading the crew that some powers lie beyond the boundaries of science.

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Review of Dark Orbit

If you look at the current state of popular science fiction in movies and TV, dystopia (an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic), is a very hot trend.  To me, dystopian scifi tends to be depressing, so I don’t read it very often.  I really like a lighter mood!  I read an article called Five Books That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.  The article, by author Kameron Hurley, concentrates on the theory that Humans Can Be Good.  From that article, I picked Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman.  I listened to the audiobook nicely narrated Melanie Ewbank.

This most usual book had my imagination going overtime. Adventurous people who ‘transport’ to far off places in the seeming blink of an eye, but who actually bypass many years during the trip. A planet where the physics just don’t agree with what is understood. A group of people who are not blind, but cannot see. And wisdom from unexpected sources.

This is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone that prefers a happy ending.  This futuristic story of exploration, cooperation and all the surprises that come with humanity, Dark Orbit is sure to both intrigue and uplift the reader.

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Breakeven (Verdant String, #2) by Michelle Diener – Review

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About Breakeven by Michelle Diener

Dee had been fighting one war, only to find herself caught up in another . . .

When circumstances leave Dee stranded on the Breakaway planet of Lassa, she has to choose–take the easy way out, or stand and fight an enemy much like the one she left behind on her home world of Garmen.

For Sebastian, leading the Lassian resistance has come at a heavy price. Forced to gamble the last of his resources on a risky ploy to get some leverage over the Core Companies that run Lassa, he stares defeat in the face when it fails. There’s no backup plan left. Nothing more to work with. And all around him, people are starving, and it looks as if the Cores have entered a deal with a hostile alien force, to enrich themselves even more.

But Dee inspires him. Even though it’s his fault she’s on Lassa to begin with, her courage and steady calm are the assets he needs, and unbeknownst to both of them, she has with her the key to bringing the Cores to their knees.

Now they just have to turn the lock in time.

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Review of Breakeven

The Verdant String was supposed to be home to planets where everyone flourished. Why would anyone want to break away from that idyllic stetting? It’s a power/money thing.

Lassa is one of the two worlds that decided to break away from the Verdant String. The resulting power structure leaves everything of value in the hands of the elite with nothing left for the rest. Starving and destitute the losers in this world have nothing left but to gamble everything for a chance to change the world. The setup for the story means there will be plenty of people with desperation, heart and courage. As one might imagine, there is also plenty of opportunity for subterfuge, conflict and betrayal. These are many of the best elements of a great story.

In Breakeven, I especially like Dee. She is really a very strong woman, both physically and mentally, thanks to her training and experience on Garmen, the other breakaway world. She quickly insinuates herself into the rebel cause because she believes in it. At first I wondered why she didn’t just concentrate on getting home. But someone that had experienced life on Garmen like she did might find it very difficult to walk away from the same problems on Lassa.

Some of the natives don’t like her, don’t trust her and would really like to send her on her way. Some do like her, most particularly Sebastian. Sebastian is a man desperate for a win. He often seemed beaten down and very tired – a realistic rebel leader. Luckily, he did not give up. Maybe, having Dee on his side gave him a second wind. These two are drawn to each other, but they have a lot more important things to deal with before they can get too close.

Breakeven also has a sweet little pet. A talu. Dee happened upon the little critter when she was hiding out in a pleasure cruiser. She had know idea what Fluffy was, only that they bonded. Fluffy proves to have a pivotal role in this adventure which I thought was cool. Although when I found out why a talu was so important, the cuteness factor kind of decreased a bit – for me.

In addition to a charming pet, several secondary characters give depth and add intrigue to the Breakeven story.  Every intrigue needs its sympathizers and its betrayers.  They key is knowing who is who.

In Breakeven, Dee and Sebastion never stop running from something or to something. The action is non-stop in a plot that is thick. The romance provides brief respites from the constant commotion, but is perfectly placed and paced in this book. Scifi Romance readers, Breakeven is a great addition to your library especially if you are a Michelle Diener fan.

The author provided a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.

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A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews – Review

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About A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews

A Courtship of Convenience

Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He’s grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she’s ready to put an end to things.

A Last Chance for Love

But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn’t as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there’s Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What’s a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there’ll be no false formality. This time they’ll get to know each other for who they really are.

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Review of A Holiday by Gaslight

This fun tale begins with the heroine and hero deciding to break off their courtship. Apparently they just don’t suit. The unusual beginning to the story had me from the first page. When Sophie Appersett, in a very unlady-like action, talks Edward Sharpe into a second go round, the real romance begins. I was delighted by the earnest efforts of the unconventional Sophie as she made an effort to get to know Edward. I smiled at Edward’s surprised reactions to Sophie. As they became friends, and then more, against the background of the family drama the entertainment factor just kept going up.

Fa la la la la!

If you want to brighten your holiday season, deck your bookshelf with this charming Christmas romance by Mimi Matthews. This little novella will warm your heart and bring a smile to even the Scroogiest of humbuggers.

Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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