Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ghost in the Machine (Corwint Central Agent Files #1) by CE Kilgore #spaceopera #scifirom

Title: Ghost in the Machine (Corwint Central Agent Files #1)
Author: CE Kilgore
Genre: Scifi Romance
Publisher: Tracing the Stars
Available: Kobo, B&N, iBooks, Amazon (pages $)
Rating: 4.5*
Rater: Pippa

Ghost In The Machine is a mature space opera romance with strong language, some violence, a good heaping of romance, some steamy bits, a few crazy aliens, one very confused android, an empathic girl with emotional issues who tends to trip herself up, and a crew of space agents who seem to enjoy making their Central Director yank out her hair.

“Love is like a wormhole. You stumble on to it blindly, it sucks you in and takes you somewhere completely unexpected. You can’t fight it, because that would tear your ship apart. You can’t control it, either. All you can do is set your thrusters on glide and let it take you where it’s going to take you.”

Going against the rules of her Vesparian Sisterhood, which seeks to keep its entire existence a secret, Orynn is thrown into the open by a request for help that she could not refuse. Seeking to reconcile past mistakes and gain a forgiveness she feels she does not deserve, the control over her empathic abilities is put to the test when the darkness that lives within her spirit threatens to once again destroy any piece of happiness that she allows herself to find.

As a Mechatronic Automaton, Ethan defines his world through a set of logically defined values and understandings. Encountering Orynn throws his system out of balance as he tries to decide if he should trust the feelings he is developing, or if he should follow the logic telling him that she is trying to control him for some unknown purpose. Should he keep her at a distance despite his want to bring her near, or should he follow the heart he swears he does not have? As his understanding of her develops, he begins to question all of his preconceived notions about both himself and the universe around him.

I'll admit it - I was originally going to give this a 4* rating at the beginning, but I'd probably say 4.5* by the end. Why not quite 5? Because of the head-hopping, my personal bug bear. With several key characters being introduced quite quickly at the start, I found it particularly jarring and confusing. However, farther into the story I stopped noticing it so much. I was so in love with the characters, the in-depth and intriguing world-building, the snarky humour, and the two storylines full of romantic tension, I could almost forgive it.
I think I adore Ethan most, despite his frequent moments of being an asshole (I have a definite thing for human mecha). In fact, both male MCs needed a good slapping. Although Orynn's regular slips into self pity might irritate some, I found them understandable and acceptable. Hank irritated me extremely, but I can blame that on his youth. And Merik - ah, Merik! Such a bad boy (and not what I'd normally go for) but I have a soft spot for the warped little masochist.
The sex scenes are detailed but sweet and focus on the emotional and empathic connection as much as bodily descriptions. Some might find the use of expletives offensive, but they fit the settings and characters. The tension, both in the overall arc and the character relationships was good and generally the story zipped along (there were a couple of areas where it dragged a bit, mostly where back story was involved). Very, very few typos or grammatical errors that self published works are often notorious for.

A recommended read for fans of Firefly/Farscape, and those who've enjoyed Jaine Fenn's Hidden Empire series, and Linnea Sinclair's Sass and Kel-Paton stories. And a full length novel for free? Bargain!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Partials by Dan Wells

Title: Partials (Partials Sequence #1) 
Author: Dan Wells
Genre: YA Scifi/Dystopia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Available: $8.99 (paperback) at Amazon
Rating: 4.5 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher:

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

What I liked:

Although I didn’t connect that well with the main character, I admired her determination and drive, and a surprising maturity considering her youth. Her somewhat naive faith in her ability to cure a disease that no adult had managed turned out to be correct, and my inner teenage self cheered her success. After a slow start, the action didn’t stop and provided an interesting conflict, intriguing characters and a couple of twists – one not that surprising, the other very much so. I didn’t find this anywhere near as whiny and full of teenage angst as a lot of YA I’ve read – I felt the teens all had damn good reason to protest life was unfair!

What I didn't like:

The beginning was slow and dragged, to the point I almost wanted to quit. There was too much repetition -- I felt the whole Partials war, plague, and the details of the RM virus had been engraved into my memory the number of times they were mentioned, something that an editor should have picked up on. It all seemed to go round in circles, and even though it spelled the end of humanity, I didn’t really feel the impact emotionally. I was close to not caring if they all died out.

In conclusion:

So why, despite being things I didn't like, did this still rate 4.5 stars? Because I really enjoyed the story. I'll forgive certain flaws in a book if the overall story is compelling enough, and from the fact that I'm keen to read the sequel. The twists at the end definitely hooked me to read the next. YA without a lot of the irritating angst, and dystopian without being 'we're all going to die'. Recommended.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Girls from Alcyone: Merchantman by Cary Caffrey

Title: The Girls from Alcyone: Merchantman
Author: Cary Caffrey
Genre: Scifi/Space Opera (short story)
Alcyone Studio (July 13, 2013) 
Available: $0.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher:

Sigrid Novak embarks on an all or nothing mission to secure vital supplies for the girls' homeworld of New Alcyone. But with a price on her head the size of a planet, and pursued across the galaxy by the Council for Trade and Finance, finding a willing trading partner proves a more complicated problem than Sigrid thought.

Fortunately, there are always the Merchantmen

What I liked:

I loved The Girls from Alcyone so this was an immediate buy for me, and I wasn't disappointed. Another exciting adventure with the lovely, kick-ass Sigrid, a space station, betrayal, and technology from the super-advanced to the seriously dodgy. It fulfilled all my main wishlist items for scifi/space opera.

What I didn't like:

I can't really say there was anything I didn't like, aside from it was over too quickly. The only reason I couldn't rate this five stars like TGfA is that it just didn't have the same emotional punch as the novel, and I felt I had to reflect that in my rating.

In conclusion:

As an addition to Caffrey's universe, this is a quick, enjoyable read, and long enough to give you a decent taster of his work. I would personally, however, recommend reading The Girls from Alcyone first because of the complexity of the world building, and references made to events in the novel during Merchantman. Give me more!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reckless Rescue by Rinelle Grey

Title: Reckless Rescue (A Barren Planet Romance #1)
Author: Rinelle Grey
Genre: Scifi Romance/Space Opera
Publisher: Self (27th February 2013)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 3 stars
Rater: Pippa


From the publisher: 

Marlee's people are dying—the valuable anysogen gas that covers their planet is making the entire population infertile. When the council tells her she must leave her partner and choose another to improve her chances of having a baby, she’s devastated. She swears she’ll never love again—it hurts too much.

Tyris thinks he has everything he wants, despite his world suffering from overpopulation—until his wife leaves him because he is forbidden to have children.

In an attempt to convince his world, and his wife, that he’s worthwhile, Tyris goes hunting for a lost planet said to contain untold riches in the form of anysogen gas.

When he crashes on her world, Marlee and Tyris agree to pretend to live together while they try to repair his ship and escape from the planet. But as they battle the harsh winter on the planet together, keeping their distance becomes even more challenging than the snow, the council and the risks of a real relationship...

What I liked:

I loved the premise about the essential FTL fuel becoming scarce, a similar situation to present day with fossil fuels running out, but combined with the horrible side effects of nuclear power when it goes wrong. Marlee and her people are in a terrible, emotionally desperate situation on their planet, with a real moral conundrum that promised much conflict. I liked the idea of Tyris's quest, and the concept of the contraceptive chip being forced on anyone with a criminal record. The romance was sweet and the bedroom scenes tastefully done. Forbidden love (and in a way, this is a play on that trope with partners being chosen, but then forced to break up) is one of my favourite themes, and this story does it with a twist.

What I didn't like:

Emotionally, the story fell flat for me. Considering how many options there were for serious conflict,  the tension was lacking, particularly in the romance. It didn't go deep enough. Plus it had a slightly weak plot line toward the end regarding the lack of enthusiasm to escape amongst some of the colony members that wasn't adequately explained. The opening scene also made me dislike the two characters intensely, leaving me with little sympathy for the hero at the start. This was mitigated somewhat throughout the story with Tyris supporting Marlee, but I couldn't empathize with him totally.

In conclusion:

If you like dystopian scifi with romance and aren't looking for the 'everybody dies' scenario, this could be for you. Some interesting world building and differing concepts of society, but not visceral enough for me. I really, really wanted to love this story but can only say it scored a 'like' - I would probably read the sequel to see how the overall story arc develops, although it wouldn't be high on my TBR priorities at the moment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Made for Her by Jessica E Subject

Title: Made for Her
Author: Jessica E Subject
Genre: Military/Futuristic Erotica/Romance
Decadent Publishing Company, LLC (January 12, 2013) Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher: 

After terrorists murder the love of her life, Major Mikayla Jones trains squadron after squadron of the clones her husband helped develop to take to the skies. When she discovers a young clone of her husband in her newest class, her world spins out of control. How can she command the look-a-like when she can’t help but yearn for him to fill the ache in her heart?

Dare was created to be the best. As the first Daniel clone to leave Onatria Labs, he needs to prove he is more than just a DNA copy. To do that, he must rely on the wife of the man who donated his genes. But when she refuses to train him, Dare faces discharge and a return to the labs. Can he convince Major Jones to finish his training—and find a way into her bed? Or will long-kept secrets unhinge the entire clone project?

What I did like:

I'm a huge fan of the idea of cloning, and of Jessica's previous works in general. Being faced with a clone of your lost love sets up great potential for emotional and ethical conflict. There's also a brilliant plot twist that was a tear-jerker, and had me physically reeling - I really hadn't expected it. The ending will leave you reaching for a hanky and hoping for a sequel.

What I didn't like:

For me, this focused a little too much on the sex rather than the emotions behind it and the inner conflict of the main characters. For all his claim of wanting to be the best, Dare seemed more set on getting into Jones's panties, and for all her 'I shouldn't', she didn't put up as much resistance as I would expect. I felt it could have been deeper and been explored more. It wasn't as heart wrenching as some of her previous works, and I would have liked to know much more about this near future world, and the cloning process.

In conclusion:

Fans of military-based scifi romances and erotica will enjoy this. For me it lacked some emotional depth, and I prefer my scifi more offworld, although I loved the cloning aspect and the big twist. While this particular story may have missed the mark for me a touch, I'm still a huge fan of J Subject's writing and will be back for more.

DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that this blog does NOT accept submissions of erotica. Any erotica reviews posted on this site are of books bought or personally gifted to the reviewer (Pippa) and not through general submission to Critique de Book.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Starheart by Greta van der Rol

Title: Starheart (Ptorix Empire #4)
Author: Greta van der Rol
Genre: Scifi Romance/Space Opera
Publisher: Self (latest edition April 2013)
Available: $3.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher:

Freighter Captain Jess Sondijk thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death during an official boarding wasn't accidental?

Hudson has his own questions. Who in the Confederacy is trading with the Ptorix? And what price is high enough to pay for starhearts, the prized jewels the aliens call the windows of the soul?

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one as they follow a shadowy trail of deceit and corruption in search of the truth. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed.

What I liked:
This was a fun book, in the true spirit of classic space opera akin to Star Trek and it's ilk, with good tension and interesting plot twists. A spunky heroine does it for me every time, and we get that in Jess. She's had it tough and skirted the grey area between legal transport and smuggling. She's smart, confident, and yet caring - no coming over as a hard-nosed bitch determined to be the match of any man, and yet being totally up to the challenge. Personally I enjoyed the secondary story line with her first officer Santh, and would have liked more on him. In that respect, the story felt slightly unbalanced.

What I didn't like:

So why didn't this rate a five? In a word, Hudson. I cannot stand smug men. In spite of his charms, his attitude just made me want to slap, and despite the situation they were in, I begrudged Jess surrendering. Also, one major stunning revelation at the end gave me a very 'huh?' moment. Not because I object to the content. I just couldn't see the overall point to the story, except to cause some additional conflict. But forgiveness came far too quickly to make it a significant conflict, so I felt a little 'why do it?', unless it has more relevance in another book in the series.

In conclusion:
This is classic space opera that Star Trek fans would probably enjoy. It had my heart going and had me rooting for the good guys and gals, and I would definitely read more by this author. It also stands alone well despite being labelled book four, so even someone totally new to the series would be able to enjoy this without reading the others (as I did).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Name Is A'yen (A'yen's Legacy #1) by Rachel Leigh Smith #futuristic #romance

Title: My Name is A'yen
Author: Rachel Leigh Smith
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Publisher: Rachel Leigh Smith
Available: Kobo, B&N, Amazon (351 pages $0.00)
Rating: 5*
Rater: Pippa

They've taken everything from him. Except his name.

The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A'yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master's murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant.

Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A'yen's trust. But she's a breeder's daughter and can't be trusted.

Hidden rooms, information caches and messages from a long-dead king change A'yen's mind about her importance. When she's threatened he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeder's Association's radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.

What I liked:
I adore tortured heroes, and A'yen is probably the most tortured soul I've ever encountered. Just when you feel thing can't get any worse and you see a glimmer of hope, Rachel Leigh Smith has A'yen's plight tear out your heart again. Beautifully descriptive writing and a real emotional rollercoaster. Good romantic tension, and plenty of action, mystery and intrigue. The word building was multi-layered and interesting.

What I didn't like:
For me, the action/tension toward the end dropped off a bit. Considering how hard A'yen had to fight throughout the story to be seen as an individual rather than a thing and how his inability to control his life as a slave was abused, I felt some of the conflict/danger aspect from at least one individual could have been stronger.

In conclusion:
This was an excellent debut and a promising start to a hero-centric, potentially epic scifi romance series. Looking forward to the rest of the books!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires

Title: Her Cyborg Awakes (formerly titled Cybot Awakens)
Author: Melisse Aires
Genre: Sensual Scifi Romance
Publisher: Grand Street Publishing (first published February 1st 2009)
Available: $0.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher:
Sabralia lives a lonely but luxurious life in Emperor Sirn’s Harem, her only companion is her obedient servant, Qy, a cyborg. Her life has largely been controlled by others, but when Sirn demands his Harem pleasure his Commanding Officers at a victory celebration, Sabralia makes a daring plan to hide to avoid rape by Sirn's men.

The Palace is ambushed and her cyborg gets her off world. The impossible has happened−Qy the gentle cyborg becomes the man he once was, the warrior Kaistril. Pursued for valuable information, Sabralia is thrust into dangerous, unfamiliar situations where she must stand up to the challenges, or lose the man she loves. Sensual Sci-fi Romance Novella

Please note - I read the earlier release of this novella, and it's since been republished, so errors in the formatting and editing may since have been fixed.

What I liked:
The heroine was a 'plump little queen' rather than some kick-ass female warrior or skinny sidekick, but this fact didn't make her weak or unbelievable as a character. Despite her privileged background and lack of experience, she made up for it in inner strength, loyalty, and compassion, and her willingness to learn and take responsibility. It made a refreshing change to have a plus sized heroine, and one willing to take chances despite her natural fears. Her personal growth throughout this story was a massive highlight for me.

What I didn't like:
I'm not a huge fan of Alpha males, and despite Qy's submissive introduction, he's pure Alpha once he regains himself. But released from his cyborg slavery, he still holds himself back from claiming Sabralia as he could so I warmed to him. There were also more spelling and formatting errors than I'd normally forgive, including a couple of sentences missing so many words that I couldn't make sense of them - enough to pull me out of the story. There were also a few repetitions. However, as noted above, this novella has recently been rereleased, so I'm hoping those have now been fixed.

In conclusion:
For those tired of stereotypical heroines but who still like their males all Alpha (with a sensitive edge), this is for you. Enjoyable, sweet but with full on, passionate bedroom scenes, plus interesting touches of tech for the scifi fans.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Keep No Secrets by Julie Compton

Title: Keep No Secrets
Author: Julie Compton
Genre: Drama/Romance (?!)
Publisher: Fresh Fork Publishing (March 10, 2013)
Available: $5.99 at Amazon
Rating: 3 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
After the ultimate betrayal, which is more important: trust or forgiveness?

In KEEP NO SECRETS, the controversial follow-up to Compton's debut legal thriller TELL NO LIES, a district attorney struggles to redeem himself after a one-night stand damaged his marriage and professional reputation.

After surviving the private and public fallout from a one-night stand four years before, St. Louis DA Jack Hilliard wants nothing more than to be trusted again by his wife, Claire, and to earn back the respect of the community he serves. Since the day Claire accepted him back into the family, he's vowed to be true to these goals, and so far he's succeeded.

But all of Jack's efforts begin to crumble when the woman involved in his earlier downfall, Jenny Dodson, returns to town claiming threats on her life and asking for his help, and resurrecting for Jack long-buried emotions and questions of her guilt for the murder of a client. Just when he thinks the pressure can't get any worse, his son's girlfriend, Celeste, accuses him of sexual assault, and he suddenly finds himself on the wrong end of a criminal case, battling for his freedom.

Can Jack trust his freedom to the legal system on which he built his career? Or will the ghost of his one-night stand four years before come back to haunt him, causing him to be convicted on the mistakes of his past? 

What I liked: The author is skilled, and has woven a complex story. I believed it, and reading this story stirred a lot of emotions.

What I didn’t like: These characters are horrible, horrible people, most especially including the protagonist. Before I was halfway through the book, I hated him, and I ended up hating him even more before the story ended. I hated him and his horrible girlfriend. Neither have any redeeming qualities, and in fact, their selfishness and irresponsibility and sociopathology destroyed their families’ lives. This story made me angry; I have met and heard about more than enough bad men, and bad women. I sure don’t want to read about them.

In sum: If you secretly root for the bad guys, this one’s for you.

Beyond Forever by M.W. Davis

Title: Beyond Forever
Author: M.W. Davis
Genre: Romance/Short Story
Publisher: Champagne Books (April 1, 2013)
Available: $.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Hanna’s organized life has been fractured by one mistake, one incredible night with a stranger, and now her world has descended into unbearable solitude. Days burning sunlight in a mind numbing haze, nights staring into the black void enveloping her empty bed, until a peculiar man lost within his own shadows, offers a path to resolution. To purge the memories that hound her thoughts and block her return to a normal existence, she must circle back to where it all began.

What I liked: Sweet, well written, and satisfying are the three words I’d use to describe this short story. The plot flows, you’re pulled along, and you don’t want it to end. Not terribly trite either, which was refreshing.

What I didn’t like: Can’t think of a thing!

In sum: Here’s a good one for us romance junkies. Pick it up.

Arabelle's Shadows by Fleur Gaskin

Title: Arabelle’s Shadows
Author: Fleur Gaskin
Genre: Women’s Literature/Inspirational
Publisher: Self/Amazon (November 19, 2012)
Available: $3.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

Everything in Arabelle's life is coming together. She has confidence, great friends, she's even dating Naak, a wealthy Thai socialite. But there are too many models in Bangkok. Arabelle’s broke, she can’t find an agent in New York, and Naak isn’t as wonderful as he first appears.

Slowly the Shadows creep back into Arabelle’s mind, bringing with them thoughts of hopelessness and despair. The vile Shadows know something Arabelle’s refusing to remember and, if she’s not careful, they’ll use it to destroy her.

Based on a true story, Arabelle’s Shadows takes us on a journey through the struggles of growing up, not quite making it as an international model, and attempting to overcome a crushing depression.

What I liked: This was a moving, emotional, and often heartbreaking story. The descriptions painted here make depression and despair as real as the walls caging Arabelle. Especially satisfying is the strength Arabelle digs up to get through her horrors. In all, what a very sad, and well-written story.

What I didn’t like: The depth and realism of the emotional traumas are not for the fainthearted. Keep that in mind when you pick this up.

In sum: You should read this, but not during a sad time.

Wherewolves by John Vamvas and Olga Montes

Title: Wherewolves
Author: John Vamvas and Olga Montes
Genre: YA/Horror/Social Commentary
Publisher: Self/Amazon (February 17, 2013)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:

The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets.

In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour.

When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them?

Amid the blood-curdling growls and the gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in us.

What is out there? Can it really be werewolves?

What I liked: This is a well written story, with crisp characters and a detailed, satisfying plot. The story moves, and keeps you entertained. It’s both horror and social commentary, and suggests a lot of bigger ideas that are worth contemplating.

What I didn’t like: Way, way too gory for me, and I would never let my teen read it.

In sum: If you like horror and YA, this will satisfy, but don't give it to your kids.

Paranormal Properties by Tracy Lane

Title: Paranormal Properties
Author: Tracy Lane
Genre: YA
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press (February 27, 2013)
Available: $2.99 at Amazon
Rating: 4 stars
Raters: Dihanna and Lauri

From the publisher:

The Weir family has just arrived in Dusk, North Carolina, one of the most haunted cities in America, to scope out some of the town’s 127 reported “paranormal properties,” which just happens to be the name of their own ghost hunting show: Paranormal Properties. What Jake Weir doesn’t know, and what his parents could never imagine, is that Jake can see ghosts! And hear them. And talk back to them! This talent comes in handy when he runs into Dusk’s oldest, most famous ghost: Frank Barrone, a one-time lounge singer made famous by his booze-soaked ballad, “Barroom Eyes.”

Frank was gunned down by a local mobster in 1951 and has been searching for his killer ever since. When he learns that Jake can see and hear him, Frank makes young Jake a deal: if Jake will help Frank find his killer, Frank will help his parents find a ghost to film for their upcoming Halloween Special on Public Access TV. Jake enlists the only friend he’s made in Dusk, an overweight tomboy nicknamed “Tank,” to help him track down Frank’s killer. As clues emerge and old leads heat up, Frank and Jake learn they make quite a team. But will Jake find Frank’s killer? And will Frank find a real haunted house in time for the Halloween special?

What I liked: I thought the book was so wonderfully cute, and that I just loved all the characters in it. Frank, the ghost, is looking for his body and finds a friend in the only person who can see him - Jake. I love the compassion Frank shows for Jake, and how he helps his ghosthunter parents. Gotta say I dearly love Tank (though see my caveat below) and was glad Jake and his family took her in. Lots of good messages here. With the one exception noted below, I found the book well written and a joy to read.

What I didn’t like: I don’t like the “overweight” word, and I am especially unhappy at its employment in literature to stigmatize a person, especially – especially! – in children’s books. I strongly recommend that the author read up on how damaging stigmatizing fat people, especially children, is and how that stance damages, sometimes permanently, the self esteem of children, which causes problems ranging from eating-disordered behavior to suicide. (Besides, we should not be equating "fat" with "unhealth," and teaching that critical thinking begins in childhood.) I recommend the wealth of information at NAAFA and HAES to the author, and anyone who wonders at this topic.

In sum: A fun book for kids, but watch for the pitfalls listed above -- and talk to your kids about these issues in this and every book.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Unknown Futures by Jessica E Subject

Title: Unknown Futures
Author: Jessica E Subject
Genre: Scifi Erotic Romance Short Story (F/F)
Publisher: Decadent Publishing (1NS series)
Available: Decadent Publishing (multiple ebook formats), All Romance Ebooks,,,
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher: Attacked as a young adult, Jewel is left scarred and alone. She applies to the 1 Night Stand service, believing no one can see past her appearance to love her. But she doesn’t expect to be sent to a space station where her date could be any number of unusual alien species.
Flavia left everything behind to be one of five humans working for the Space Service space station. Extremely homesick, she is excited to learn she will be a guide to a woman from Earth visiting the station for a couple days. She is immediately drawn to the petite woman, seeing past her scars to her true inner beauty, stirring unforeseen desires.
Unfortunately, Jewel is there for a date which Flavia hasn’t been told about. Can she contain her lust and simply show her a good time? Or will she let her desire lead them into an unknown future?

What I liked: This story had me in tears, but for all the right reasons. Jewel's been dealt a bad hand from the start, and anyone who reads this without hoping for her to get a HEA has no heart at all! The whole will-they, won't-they tension throughout kept me on the edge of my seat.

What I didn’t like: There was a little too much telling at the start, and I felt snatched away from the two main characters far too quickly, and really hope we might get to hear more from Jewel and Flavia.

In sum: Another sweet and sexy story, which despite its erotic romance label isn't as heavily explicit as I'd expect for the listing. 

Please note: Critique de Book does not accept review requests for erotica. This is a book bought by the reviewer for their own enjoyment, not one from the submission queue.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ozette's Destiny by Judy Pierce

Title: Ozette's Destiny
Author: Judy Pierce
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press (February 27, 2013)
Available: $7.99 at Amazon
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Dihanna

From the publisher:
Ozette, a rare and beautiful white squirrel, must flee Earth World when she is wrongly blamed for the destruction of their sacred forest simply because she is different. Clutching only a golden acorn, which was gifted to her by her beloved grandmother, Ozette escapes to Farlandia, a magical kingdom where her grandmother has said the young squirrel will find her destiny. With innate innocence and sweetness, Ozette quickly forms close friendships with the residents of Farlandia including zany elves, fairies and animals, and soon finds herself tapped to be the caretaker of this old-growth forest. Forging strong alliances through the challenges of life, Ozette and her magical friends will have you laughing and crying as you follow them through adventures that will warm your heart with gentle lessons of kindness, loyalty and self acceptance. And, as a charming goodbye gift at the end of the book to delight all ages, the author sends off her readers with real recipes for many of the fantastical treats that the Farlandia residents enjoy.

What I liked: If I still had little ones at home, I would take this and read it every night as a bedtime story for my kidlets. But you don't need kids to adore this story.  I simply loved Ozzete and thought she made a wonderful queen. I loved that this book showed the importance of the golden rule was necessary, along with many other things like being kind, honest, noble and courageous, and that in doing that you find the best path in life for not only for yourself but others. It's well done, with fleshed out characters, and a smooth story. Recommended for all ages.

What I didn’t like:  Nothing.

In sum: I’m currently reading it again.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tin Cat by Misa Buckley

Title: Tin Cat
Author: Misa Buckley
Genre: Scifi Romance
Publisher: BURST (Champagne Books, 4th March 2013)
Available: Champagne Books, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, AllRomance
Rating: 5 stars
Rater: Pippa

From the publisher: A year after the accident that put her in a wheelchair, Amber Gerald has more or less gotten used to living with her impairment. It doesn’t make a difference to running a comic book store anyway, and the customers have been the best support group she could have wished for.
When she rescues an abandoned cat, Amber has no idea that she’s interfering in the mad scheme of a time travelling bank robber. Or that the man that walks into her store dressed like Blade is about to become her bodyguard.
Between being an unwitting owner of an android cat and falling for a cybernetic bounty hunter, Amber finds her life a whole new level of weird as science fiction becomes a very real factual threat.

What I liked:  This story is a real tear jerker that will tug on your heartstrings. A fun premise with great characterisations, a quirky scifi storyline that plays on geekdom, and one that deals well with the social stigma of disability. I've never read anything like it before. The bedroom scenes are hot and yet sweet, underlying the genuine spark between the two MCs. The tension, both romantically and plotwise is good, particularly at the end where you can't imagine there can possibly be a HEA. And the ending might not be quite what you expect.

What I didn’t like: I hate it when people complain that a story is too short when it clearly states short or novella. However, I do slightly begrudge not being able to spend more time with Amber and Gray, simply because I loved them (although once or twice I wanted to slap them both). I do think the story is complete as a novella, and attempting to make it longer would merely have been unecessary padding.

In sum: Tin Cat is a sweet and sexy love story with a geek twist that deals well with the physical disability of the female MC. A story guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy.