Local Skies: Researching the Milky Way

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There have been some pretty awesome things happening as far as the final frontier that I feel a post is in order. Despite being an enormous Sci-Fi fan, absolutely nothing beats the real thing.

I’m sure most have heard about this by now but I still have to call it out…NASA discovered seven Earth sized planets orbiting a star only 40 light-years away.

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Three of these planets are in the habitable zone of this ultra-cool dwarf star. They might even have oceans. The fifth planet closest to the sun, known as TRAPPIST 1-f (seriously needs a new name) is the one they think most likely to support life. LIFE, you guys. The implications are huge, and while forty light-years is still a great distance, in terms of space, it’s right next door.

In our own neighborhood, Jupiter has been in the news. In 2011 NASA sent out a probe to Jupiter in hopes of studying the biggest planet in town. It arrived on July 5, 2016 and entered orbit in its pole. I’m trying to contemplate a piece of machinery hurtling through the vacuum of space for five years and arriving in working order. Now that’s some really good workmanship. I’ve got electronics in my house that didn’t last that long.

Now in its fifth orbit, Juno got a closeup look on July 5th of the Giant Red Spot on Jupiter’s surface, its best known feature and something scientists have observed and wondered about for hundreds of years. The thing is massive–1.3 times as wide as the Earth–and the storm itself is theorized to have been going for more than 350 years. And here I thought that week of rain took forever to blow past.

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If you want to see more pics from the Juno cam and learn about the mission, click here

It really is a wonder so many Sci-Fi stories and movies take place in distant galaxies with planets and moons that don’t, uh, actually exist. From a fiction standpoint, it’s a lot of fun but I do ponder why our own little corner of the universe isn’t shown more love. And there’s a lot to love–literally. The Milky Way is over 100,000 light-years across with a monstrous black hole at the center.

While working on my Sci-Fi series Insurrection I decided early on that I wanted to shop local, choosing plot locations from Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, to a pod-station orbiting Venus, to Vesta (a designated minor-planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter), and more. As I’ve done my research on the goodies in our galaxy, I’ve come across some pretty amazing things that make me wonder why Sci-Fi bothers heading out of town for its settings when there’s so much awesome right here.

For your Friday enjoyment, here are a few things I came across you might not have known existed in ye olde galactic homestead: (Excerpts taken online from Space.com and Astrobiology Magazine):

Particle Geysers

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“The center of the Milky Way is the location of an enormous amount of activity—stars are dying and bursting to life in a constant cycle. And recently, we’ve seen something else coming out of the galactic hub—a stream of high-energy particles that stretches over 15,000 parsecs across the galaxy. That’s more than half of the entire width of the Milky Way. They’re invisible to the naked eye, but with magnetic imagery, the particle geysers can be seen across almost two-third of our sky.

What’s causing the phenomenon? One hundred million years of star formation and decay, fueling a never-ending jet creeping towards the galaxy’s outer arms. The total energy in the geyser is over a million times that of a supernova and the particles are traveling at supersonic speeds. And it’s not random—based on the structure of the particle jets, astronomers are building a model of the magnetic field that governs the entire galaxy.”

Cannibal Galaxy

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“No matter how often a star is born, there’s no way for the Milky Way to grow if it doesn’t pull in new matter from another place. And the Milky Way is definitely growing. Though we previously weren’t sure exactly how that growth was happening, recent findings suggest that the Milky Way is a cannibal—it has consumed other galaxies in the past and will probably continue to do so, at least until a larger galaxy comes along and pulls us into it.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and information from about seven years of photos, researchers found stars along the outer rim of the Milky Way that were moving tangentially. Instead of moving either toward or away from the Milky Way’s core, like every other star, they just sort of drifted along sideways. The star cluster is believed to be a remnant of another galaxy that was absorbed by the Milky Way—crumbs left over from its last big meal.

That collision likely occurred billions of years ago, and it won’t be the last one to happen. At the rate we’re moving, we’ll likely eat the Andromeda galaxy in around 4.5 billion years. Too bad none of us will be around to see it.”

The 250 Million Year Orbit

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“On Earth, a year is determined by the length of time it takes the planet to orbit the Sun. Every 365 days, we’re right back where we started, generally speaking. It makes sense then that our entire solar system is similarly orbiting the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It just takes a little longer, to the tune of 250 million years for each rotation. In other words, we’ve made about a quarter of a single orbit since the dinosaurs died.

Descriptions of the solar system rarely mention that it’s spinning through space just like everything else. We’re actually traveling at about 792,000 km (483,000 mi) per hour relative to the center of the Milky Way. To put that into a more easily relatable example, that speed would take you around the Earth in just over three minutes. Each time the Sun makes it all the way around the Milky Way, it’s known as the galactic year, or cosmic year. It’s estimated that there have been only 18 galactic years in the history of the Sun.”

Not bad for a place whose name will always make me think of a delicious candy bar. FYI, NASA also got some brand new astronaut recruits this year who will most likely be the ones to go on the first mission to Mars. Discovery continues, friends, even in times like these.

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Escape Velocity (Syzygy Book 4)

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Title & Author: Escape Velocity (Syzygy Book 4), J. K. Ullrich

If you’re just learning about this series, I recommend starting with my review of book one: Transient Phenomenon

Genre & Publication Date: Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi, June 27, 2017

Book Description: “After surviving disaster and betrayal on Earth, Ash and Skye return to Luna with news they hope will unite their rival colonies. But not everyone welcomes the change their discovery promises to bring. Can they save their two communities, or will the conflict shatter their nascent partnership…and with it, the last chance for a nearly extinct human race?

“Escape Velocity”, the fourth volume in the “Syzygy” novella series, will thrill fans of contemporary science fiction classics like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake”. Don’t miss Part I, “Transient Phenomena”, Part II, “Opposition Effect”, and Part III, “Retrograde Motion”, also available for Amazon Kindle.”

First Line: *Censored for spoilers*

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

Another awesome installment in this series that is becoming one of my favorites. After an unexpected turn of events Ash and Skye are forced to drastically alter their plans. Things are turning more dangerous than when they faced a spore infested planet, and some truths they held close are challenged by betrayal. As they risk their lives to work toward a potential solution to mankind’s greatest catastrophe, they’re confronted by political posturing and power grabbing rhetoric masquerading as salvation. I really enjoyed the intrigue and the fact that there are still allies even among people who might seem like enemies at first (and vice versa as well). This made the lunar communities feel so real to me.

The personal journey of our main characters Ash and Skye continue. I love how they keep learning new things about themselves and each other as they face these dangers. Each installment has me getting to know them on a deeper level than the previous one. I also love how they proactively strategize. Yeah, things are looking bleak, but dammit, they’re still going to fight for their people. And if one plan fails and they manage to survive, well then, they’ll try again. Their mix of pragmatism and optimism is addicting and I’m dying to see what happens next.

The Magical: The scientific research set against the backdrop of ignorance and politicking was a great juxtaposition and an excellent example of how humanity ended up in this situation in the first place. It really had me growling with frustration–not that my tolerance at the moment for this kind of thing is stretched thin as a wafer cookie or anything. I mean, after all, if it weren’t for politics I might still think the world is round. (Apologies if the sarcasm dripping off that fell onto your device. I’ll pass out towelettes.)

The Mundane: Something really awful happened to one of the main characters (it was really cool too but, you know, in an awful way). It wasn’t contrived feeling at all and really altered the dynamic between the two protagonists in a believable way. So, the thing I noticed is really minor given everything else and maybe no one else would see it, but I wondered why later it didn’t seem like the experience troubled the character it happened to other than some lingering physical stuff. I expected this person to grapple with it mentally a bit more, kind of in the way someone who survived a near drowning would be nervous about going near the water again.

Or maybe I’m just a sickie and wanted to read more about a favorite character’s suffering. There’s always that possibility.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $0.99 on Amazon. If you haven’t caught on to the fact that this is an awesome series by all the four and five stars I keep giving it (and my dedicated gushing about it), then here’s an extra reminder: It’s amazing! And NEW. I feel like I run across so many recycled plot lines and genre formulas these days. This story line is one I’ve never read anything like before (and y’all know I read constantly). A poignant look at our potential future through the lens of an environmental crisis that isn’t all that fictional. This is yet another fantastic installment just as strong as the rest.

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Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to learn more about this author and her work? Explore her website here

In the Spotlight: The Blood Mage

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I’m excited to announce the release of The Blood Mage, book two in the Changing Tides series by author and fellow Indie cohort Aimee Davis. Book One, The Wheel Mages, is currently available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited if you want to catch up.

The review of The Wheel Mages is coming soon to Amid The Imaginary!

Monster. Murderer. Oathbreaker.

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Three years after the events leading to the deaths of her friend and lover, twenty-one-year-old Alena Kozlov is still trying to outrun her past. But the darkness within her is not something she can simply leave behind.

The nightmares plaguing her become reality when a familiar face seeks her out in her isolated desert home bearing news that awakens all she’s tried to keep locked inside. There’s a promise she made long ago she’s determined to keep, even if it means she will have to tear what remains of herself, and her world, apart.

To save her friends, she may have to become the monster once more. But fear is not for the damned.

Grab your copy on Amazon or add it to GoodReads today!

If you’d like to know more about the author and her work, explore her website here

 

 

Blood Currency

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Title & Author: Blood Currency (Feeding the Vampire & Hunting the Siren)

Genre & Publication Date: Paranormal/Erotic, December 19, 2016

Book Description: “Feeding the Vampire

Through good luck and healthy cowardice, Misty has survived the earthquakes that have torn the world apart, but has no skills to speak of. Or so she thinks. She does have blood, and someone must feed the vampire who has offered his protection and strength in exchange for sustenance. Feeding Ivan is a priority, and Misty finally serves a purpose. But when she awakens tied to his bed, an unwilling gift to Ivan from the townspeople, she discovers he has hungers other than blood. Hungers he expects her to satisfy in the most carnal manner. Under his seductive persuasion Misty discovers she has the power to sustain Ivan in all ways, while experiencing unspeakable pleasure herself.

Hunting the Siren

A vampire queen grown powerful with age, Imogen has protected her band of nightriders through the centuries. When refugee vampires from earthquake-shattered Europe seek shelter and sustenance, she’s honor-bound to feed them, by any means necessary. When her lieutenants dump the vengeful human man Kasar at her feet, Imogen succumbs to his masculine vitality and her overwhelming hunger for his blood—and his body. Kasar has survived the breaking of the world, only to discover the vampire queen has slaughtered his sister and her unborn child. With the last of his bloodline dead, only his desire for vengeance keeps Kasar alive. He imagines he can pretend to succumb to Imogen’s seduction—not that he has much of a choice, chained as he is to the foot of her bed—and bide his time until he has an opportunity to kill her. The passion he finds in her arms is unexpected, and impossible to resist. But this haven of desire and satiation could easily destroy them both.”

First Line: “I’ll do it,” I said.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world this book gives us a pair of yummy vampire short stories. With a natural disaster that left the earth shattered and civilization fallen, I could definitely buy into the idea that if there were vampires around, there’d be little need for them to hide anymore. This sets the stage for a couple of interesting scenarios the author brings to life.

Unlike other duology packs I’ve read in the past, these two stories are completely different from one another even though they share the same setting (albeit different continents). The first one was in first-person, the second in third-person. The voices were distinct from one another and the central focus of each conflict unique. And let’s not forget the sizzle. Wow, can Kennedy heat up a scene! I burned my fingers tapping through the pages. *fans self*

I wanted to add as well that everything remains consensual in this area because the synopsis might scare some off. This is a vampire book. It’s all about the seduction, folks. Characters resisting temptation because they think they should, not because they want to. As always, Kennedy strikes that perfect balance between conquest and affection. Trust me, you’re safe in her hands.

The Magical: Ahhhh, the vampires were SO well done! These were not angsty, human-like versions of this mythical being. These were creatures of the night, ancient, otherworldly and frightening, yet utterly magnetic.

The Mundane: Both stories ended where they should and without tying everything together into a bow (the world is still in ruins after all), but I wanted mooooooore! *undignified whine*

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $2.99 on Amazon, or free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription. I really enjoyed it. It delivers exactly what it promises with a pair of stories that will totally consume you. A reminder that this one has scorching romantic scenes in it. Five alarm chili, if you take my meaning, but oh, you will love the burn.

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Many thanks to author Jeffe Kennedy for providing a copy of the book to review!

Want to know more about this author and her work? Explore her website here

The Debt Collector: Season One

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Title & Author: The Debt Collector — Season One, Susan Kaye Quinn

Genre & Publication Date: Sci-Fi/Cyberpunk, December 31, 2013

Book Description: (From Season One): “In this sexy, gritty future-noir, debt collectors take your life energy and give it to someone more “worthy”… all while paying the price with black marks on their souls.

Lirium plays the part of the grim reaper well, with his dark trenchcoat and jackboots—he’s just in it for his cut, the ten percent of the life energy he collects before he transfers it on to the high potentials, the people who will make the world a better place with their brains, their work, and their lives. That hit of life energy, a bottle of vodka, and a visit from one of Madam Anastazja’s sex workers keep him alive, stable, and mostly sane… until he collects again. But when his recovery ritual is disrupted by a sex worker who isn’t what she seems, he has to choose between doing an illegal hit for a girl whose story has more holes than his soul or facing the bottle alone—a dark pit he’s not sure he’ll be able to climb out of again.

Originally written as a serial, SEASON ONE of Debt Collector contains the complete story of Lirium. There are five planned seasons, each from the perspective of a different debt collector.”

First Line: My jackboots are new, the latest ultra-light material out of Hong Kong’s synthetics district, and they make a strange squeaking sound against the hospital floor.

My Take: I feel like I don’t get to read enough cyberpunk. There’s Sci-Fi that comes close but doesn’t have enough grime and despair to really hit the spot. This hit the spot.

Season One features Lirium. He is what’s known as a debt collector in this dystopian world, a person able to draw the life force from another with a touch. All debt collectors work for a centralized government agency who determines which individuals should be “cashed out” and which ones are deserving of  “pay out” (extra life force). This determination is based on your cost to society versus your contribution to it. Got a medical condition you’re not going to recover from and debts that exceed your ability to pay? Well then, it’s likely you’ll see Lirium show up at your hospital door to take the days/months/years you had left. In this future, the government feels your life force is worth more to society in the hands of “high potentials” than with you. Who are these high potentials? You guessed it, people with money, power, and positions of influence who bring innovation to the world. Sounds like a scenario rife with corruption? Ah, that’s where our story begins.

Lirium does a job that eats away at his soul every time he takes life from the poor, the indigent, and the infirm only to pass it on to someone in perfect health who gets to have a boost because of their status. He fills in the emptiness with shallow pleasures to forget long enough to survive until his next assignment. Definitely a flawed dude what with the prostitutes and booze, but a tortured one whose remorse is slowly killing him. Then one day he meets a girl who isn’t what she seems and asks him to pay out to someone who really needs it. Things only get more interesting from there with government intrigue, an illegal black market trading in life force, the mob, and fellow debt collectors who may or may not be on Lirium’s side.

The Magical: As always, Quinn’s worldbuilding is top notch. So many layers from the bottom of society up, from the dingy alley dealings to the ivory tower exchanges. She makes it seem so real I start to get a little nervous given the health care crisis we have going on in the U.S. right now.

The Mundane: Didn’t feel like we needed two love stories for our hero. I still rooted for him all the way, and it’s not that he was a player, but this made it hard to believe he was actually giving his heart to someone in truth.

Summary of Thoughts: Immersive and fast-paced, this series has been optioned for virtual reality by Immersive. Characters are flawed but compelling, their motivations complex and believable. This one had such a unique premise and the gritty cyberpunk world just added to the awesome. There are two seasons out and I really hope the author keeps going with this story. Originally published in segments, the entire first season (all 400+ pages) is on sale for a limited time for only $0.99 (also on Kindle Unlimited). Less than a buck, people. Can’t do better than that for a great read!

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Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

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Originally I didn’t have any intention to see the new Wonder Woman movie in theaters even though she was one of my favorite super heroes as a girl. The preview looked promising but DC’s movies, eh…*sad head shaking*. They’ve lured me in with awesome trailers before only to find out later that the preview had a better plot line than the actual movie. But then the Wonder Woman released and everyone exploded about it and I thought, “Well, all right then. I guess I better see what it’s all about.”

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The result? It’s the best DC movie to date. Hold your applause, people, that’s not a high bar. The truth is, it’s a good movie. It’s not MOVIE OF THE YEAR, but it’s good. It has a coherent story line (apparently DC thought they’d give that a try), a character arc for the protags, and a satisfying conclusion (even though the end was a tad CGI wonky and included some too-stupid-to-live moves by the Big Bad).

So, why is everyone going bananas over this movie?

Well, even if the story isn’t the best ever made, it 100% portrayed the Wonder Woman we’ve always loved. The one who is strong but not vengeful. The one who seeks truth and cuts through the pretenses. The one who believes in the best of us even when we’re at our worst. A warrior who kicks some ass but is also capable of a smile. A woman who can love a man but owns her own destiny.

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Gal Gadot portrayed her perfectly. Aside from her obvious knock-you-over beauty, she exuded that hope, strength, and intelligence we associate with Wonder Woman. And Lord, she was TALL. I loved that they didn’t try to downsize her at all. I mean, you could see she was one towering woman. The movie itself started out centered on the Amazons on their hidden isle. In fact we didn’t even see a man show up for quite a while. It’s a bummer that this is something noticeable because it means we aren’t accustomed to movies revolving strictly around a woman’s story.

That’s the part of the film making waves, in my opinion. It felt authentically dedicated to a woman’s journey. It didn’t devolve into anything catty with other women. It wasn’t overburdened with a love story, though there was one. The man never rescued her from danger (excellent job on that score). It also wasn’t a role reversal where she had all the control over the men and they were subordinate to her. It was as though her presence uplifted the situation to one where respect was simply a normative state.

This isn’t to say there wasn’t sexism when Diana traveled to the world of men, but it wasn’t something that seemed to touch her, or at least it appeared to fall below her notice. It was there, we the audience saw it and detested it, but it didn’t have any effect on Diana herself. The comments slid off her like Teflon. Some have said they didn’t like that the character never addressed that issue, but I disagree. Considering the culture she came from, she did not understand she was seen as a “woman” in our world. She didn’t possess that concept as we understand it. She was herself, strong, noble, and heroic, unquestioning in her worth–a wonder in every sense of the word. I only wish we had loads of examples like this to show our girls.

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Will there be more Wonder Woman movies, independent of Batman, Superman, and the Justice League? I hope so, because it would be a shame if this fell into the “Okay, we did the Wonder Woman origin story so we’re done with that. Back to the shitty male-centered ones we were busy with before.” That would be a shame, if only because of how unsurprising it’d be.

Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you think?

The trailer (RAWR!!):

Free Book in Awesome Sci-Fi Series

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Hi everyone! Been out this week with some righteous strep throat which I’m finally recovering from *hugs bottle of Penicillin*. The hubby has had to do everything for the house and kids and me, besides the full-time job. We work as a team on these things so I know it had to be exhausting.

In his words: “I figured out that I can do it all on my own, I just really don’t want to.”

He also found time to do a huge batch of yummy homemade chicken noodle soup for me. He’s an amazing, incomparable guy. That internship I decided to take in Holland where we met keeps paying off. Thank you past-Anela, for your bold, nerdy self.

Anyway, I’ll be back next week with regular blogging but I wanted to do a shout out for a Free book that’s available this weekend only:

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This series was part of my Five-Star Roundup post you can check out here. Here’s my original review of book one. The blurb:

Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical materials with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined third planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.

Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.

Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could preserve a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.

Fans of contemporary science fiction classics like Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” and Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake” will enjoy “Transient Phenomena”, the first installment of the “Syzygy” novella series.

A fast-paced and intriguing Sci-Fi series that is just cracking along the entire way. The fourth installment is coming out on June 27th so now is a great time to get caught up. If you’d like to read an excerpt, there’s one up on the author’s page right now.

Or you can just go grab a FREE copy on Amazon (Do it!)

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!

Five Star Roundup

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In January I usually do an summary of my favorite books from the year before. This year I didn’t get around to it with my husband’s cancer diagnosis throwing life into a spin, but here it is now!

Scanning over the titles, it’s a pretty good mix of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and even some Paranormal and Steampunk. I didn’t run into any contemporary Dystopian or Post-Apocalyptic that hit my five-star rating (though I do covet that fifth star for the truly special books) but 2017 is only half over so we’ll see what shakes out in the last six months.

Without further ado (yes, people still use that word) here are my favorite books from 2016 (Click the titles to read the full reviews):

~ SCIENCE-FICTION ~

The Singularity Series

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(From Book One, “The Legacy Human”)

What would you give to live forever? 

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender–a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid–after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

Anela says: Amazing, amazing series and I’m dying for the next installment! The story examines the nature of existence and the definition of self (and so much else, but for that click on the review link above). The tech and the science woven through was like dark chocolate for my Sci-Fi soul. Book one is only 99 cents!! Available on Amazon

The Syzygy Series

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Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical materials with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined third planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.

Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.

Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could preserve a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.

Anela says: The review link to book one is above and the reviews of the books that follow show up beneath it. Overall this has been one of my favorite Sci-Fi series, totally unique with a climate fiction and post-apocalyptic bent. I love the characters and the unexpected twists are jaw dropping. Installment one is also only 99 cents. Go get it! Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited

 

~ FANTASY ~

Sorcerous Moons Series

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(From Book One: Lonen’s War)

An Unquiet Heart

Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…

A Fight Without Hope

When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.

A Savage Bargain

Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

Anela says: An intricate system of magic that examines the expectations of gender–and challenges them while weaving a really beautiful love story. More books to come on this series and I can’t wait to see where the story leads. Book one is currently $2.99 on Amazon. Worth it!

The Sunbolt Chronicles

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(From Book One: Sunbolt)

The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.

Anela says: I believe this one is fully in the Noblebright categorization of the Fantasy genre (Click here for a definition of Noblebright. I like to call it: Fantasy that won’t make you want to kill yourself afterward *cough*Martin*cough*). Another fascinating system of magic I haven’t seen before that takes place in a non-Western Fantasy world with a heroine I absolutely adore. The sequel Memories of Ash also got five stars from me, as did a separate short-story, The Bone Knife (FREE everywhere!). At this point you can probably tell I love anything Intisar Khanani writes. Trust me, she’s amazing. Book one is available on Amazon for $2.99.

 

~ PARANORMAL ~

The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One

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Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

Anela says: A beautiful take on the Nephilim/angels mythos. The setting in Turkey was awesome and the scope of the ancient conflict and history of the nephilim (known as Irin in the book) pulls you in. This one really stole my heart. Currently it’s FREE on Amazon, so seriously, get a copy if you want to be swept away by a story.

 

~ STEAMPUNK ~

The Flash Gold Chronicles

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(From Book One: Flash Gold)

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

Anela says: Great action and adventure, quirky characters and a smart-mouthed heroine, what else can you ask for? I had so much fun reading this series. Book one is FREE on Amazon right now so grab a copy and give it a try.

Shattered Past (Dragon Blood)

SPast

An elite forces officer with a dreadful reputation.
A bookish paleontologist with a love for mysteries.
An ancient stronghold full of secrets that will take both of them to unearth.

Professor Lilah Zirkander (yes, she’s related to the famous pilot, and no, she can’t get him to autograph your undergarments) is looking forward to a summer in the paleontology lab, researching and cataloging new fossils. But that summer takes an unexpected turn when the king sends her into the Ice Blades to a secret mine where ancient dragon bones have been discovered. Rumor has it that they’re cursed and dangerous, but Lilah is more concerned about dealing with the outpost commander, a fierce officer with the temperament of a crabby badger.

As punishment for irking the king, Colonel Vann Therrik is overseeing the hardened criminals working in the remote Magroth Crystal Mines. He would like a chance to redeem himself—and escape the loathsome duty station—but nothing is going his way. Cursed fossils have delayed production, miners are trying to escape, and now a scientist has shown up, making demands on his time. Worse, she’s the cousin of his nemesis General Zirkander. As if one Zirkander in his world wasn’t bad enough.

Investigating the fossils leads Lilah and Vann into the depths of Magroth Mountain where centuries-old secrets lurk, and a long-forgotten threat stalks the passages. To have any chance at survival, they’ll have to work together and perhaps learn that neither is what the other expected.

Anela says: Is anyone surprised that Buroker won both five-star reviews for this genre? Granted, this book has some Fantasy elements as well but since there are airships too it feels like it falls into this category. Great characters, hilarious banter, and a cool mystery to unravel. Buroker’s imagination is always fun to spend some time in. Currently it’s $3.99 on Amazon. This one works as a standalone but if you’d like an intro into this world the first book–Balanced on the Blade’s Edge–is FREE on Amazon.

So, there you have it! All these awesome books are either free or under five bucks. The Indie world is good to its bookworms. Happy reading!

The SnowFang Bride (SnowFang Book #1)

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Title & Author: The SnowFang Bride (SnowFang Book #1), Merry Ravenell

Genre & Publication Date: Paranormal, Oct. 11, 2016

Book Description: “Centuries of political games killed most of the female werewolves. Now only a few survive, and the Elders work to change the old ways of thinking.

Winter, the only daughter of the SilverPaw Alpha, finally meets the soul Gaia has chosen for her: Sterling, the cold, demanding, and entirely-too-human Alpha of the tiny SnowFang pack.

Thrust into a world of human wealth for which she was never prepared, Winter must become Sterling’s flawless wife and Luna from the moment she arrives. The city is full of threats, both werewolf and human, and Sterling’s past is full of secrets best left undisturbed.

When they are betrayed by those closest to them, Winter and Sterling embark on a dangerous game of brinkmanship that will change their lives, and the future of the werewolves, forever.”

First Line: The werewolves lacked females.

My Take: It occurs to me that the book’s first line is going to give folks the wrong impression of this novel. It’s not one of those “alpha male werewolf kidnaps human female to force her into marriage and then they end up falling in love” things (I can’t stand those, by the way. Taking someone against their will does not lead to warm, fuzzy feelings. Full stop.). Rather, this first line is a reference to a population concern going on in the werewolf world of this story.

This book has to be the most intricate and detailed depiction of werewolf culture I’ve ever read. History, customs, political intrigue, rules of the pack, how they greet each other when they want to show respect (or not), the cultural differences between rural and city wolves–Everything seemed so friggin’ REAL you could swear this secret world truly existed alongside our own.

An example from a situation with a prominent pack:

“Do we have to bring a gift? Might be better if we don’t.”

“We don’t have to. But it would be in our favor if we did.” I had seen many gifts given to my father and the SilverPaw over the years. There was a very delicate etiquette surrounding gift giving. It could not be trivial, and offer insult. It could not be too grandiose and be seen as a bribe or ostentatious or above the perceived station of the giving pack. It ideally would be something that represented the strength or character of the gifting pack, and something that the recipient’s entire pack could enjoy and benefit from.

The main character, Winter, is from a more powerful rural pack and is very familiar with all the rules and customs of the werewolf world. When she finds her fated mate in Sterling of the SnowFang pack he relies on her to help him understand how to navigate the customs due to his more human upbringing. He knows a lot about the human world, something Winter knows less of, so they’re matched in that way. I love a romance based on equals, y’all:)

TONS of intrigue, starting with the search for Winter’s mate, finding Sterling and her father’s weird behavior afterward, the Wanderers (lone wolves forming miscreant packs and causing harm) in the city streets of her new home, and much more. There’s not a ton of shape-shifting, FYI, and I didn’t mind this at all. It’s a more cerebral werewolf tale told through the smart voice of a very likable heroine.

The Magical: I really believed in Winter and Sterling’s relationship. They might be soul fated but they still didn’t know each other when they were thrown together. That partnership grew over the course of the book which made it feel as real as the werewolf culture the author created.

The Mundane: There are a lot of mysteries going on throughout the book but the ending didn’t answer any of them. I mean, ANY of them. That left me feeling a little adrift, especially when more mysterious things happened. It seemed at least some things could have been answered without spoiling what’s coming in the sequel. It didn’t cliffhanger but the pay off felt a little deflated as a result. Still a great ride, though.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently, this book is $2.99 for the Kindle. Not your typical werewolf story which was awesome because werewolf stories tend to be all about the bulging biceps of an Alpha male and the resistant (called stubborn) way of his mate who *wink*wink* is secretly dying for him to take her. Ugh. Here is something much more interesting: a fully fleshed out culture (not just a smattering of habits), and two people trying to lead a tiny pack in their complex world. Intrigue abounds and I loved it. Recommended and dying for the sequel!

four-star-review

Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Writing Beneath a Glass Ceiling

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Today I’m visiting author Intisar Khanani’s blog and talking about women who write Science-Fiction and the gender challenges they face in this genre.

Stop on by and check it out:

Writing Beneath a Glass Ceiling

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In other news, heads up on a FREE Sci-Fi anthology available on Amazon right now with stories by multiple writers, including Lindsay Buroker. Don’t know how long it’ll be free so grab your copy ASAP!

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