Sky Full of Stars Series


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Title & Author: The Rogue Prince (book 1), Angel of Truth (book 2), Stolen Legacy (book 3), Lindsay Buroker

Genre & Publication Date: YA Sci-Fi, April 16, 2017 (book 1)

Book Description: (from book 1: The Rogue Prince) “Starseer, pilot, and animal lover Jelena Marchenko wants to prove to her parents that she’s ready to captain her own freighter and help run the family business. When she finally talks them into getting a second ship and letting her fly it, it doesn’t faze her that the craft is decades old and looks like a turtle. This is the chance she’s craved for years.

But it’s not long before the opportunity to rescue mistreated lab animals lures her from her parentally approved cargo run and embroils her in a battle between warring corporations. To further complicate matters, her childhood friend Thorian, prince of the now defunct Sarellian Empire, is in trouble with Alliance law and needs her help.

Torn between her duty to her family and doing what she believes is honorable, Jelena is about to learn that right and wrong are never as simple as they appear and that following your heart can get you killed.”

First Line: A bleep came from the sensor panel, and Jalena Marchenko slid her sparkly, purple stallion mug to the side.

My Take: So, this series is a spin-off of the “Fallen Empire” series I read and reviewed a while back. I liked the original series but didn’t love it (you can read the full review here). Why did I decide to give this one a try if I was medium about the last one?…Well, I just can’t resist YA Sci-Fi, what can I tell you? “Sky Full of Stars” (does anyone else hear Coldplay’s song “A Sky Full of Stars” when they saw that title? It was in my head every time I read this) is based on the original heroine’s daughter, Jelena, and takes place ten years after the events in “Fallen Empire”. I am happy to report that I had a blast reading it!

At eighteen, Jalena is finally allowed to join her parents’ business and run freight in a starship, something she’s been dreaming of doing because, like her mother, she loves piloting. Her first ship? Your typical first car situation, an outdated clunker that you adore with all your heart. Also like her mother, Jalena’s inaugural run veers into all manner of ill-conceived side-missions full of action and adventure, and of course, hilarious banter. This is peppered throughout the series with plenty of coming-of-age stuff, like learning how independence comes with responsibilities, that choices have consequences, and when following your heart, it’s worth the time and effort to plan ahead somewhat too.

I really liked Jalena for her idealism and compassion, as well as her ability to grow as a person while still holding on to who she is. I also really enjoyed the fact that she loves sparkly, colorful stuff. You see so many YA heroine’s with their black boots and their monochrome outfits and their disdain for all things “girly” that it becomes its own kind of cliche. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with this per se (hell, I only have one pink shirt to my name and you will NOT find me in colorful sparkles), but it’s nice to see a heroine with plenty of agency who isn’t portrayed as diminished because she likes shiny rainbow colored shoes. This is offset nicely by Thor, the son of the former galactic emperor who was murdered during the coup. Broody and mysterious, he fulfills the black wardrobe requirement–something Jalena teases him about, often threatening to put kitty stickers on his armor if he doesn’t lighten up. Yeah, I laughed my way through much of these books.

The Magical: Side characters are interesting and three-dimensional with their own fears and quirks and pasts. Even though the story is told from Jalena’s point of view (third person limited), you get a full picture of their personalities: there’s the guy she grew up with who is like an older brother (no love triangle, thank God), and the hardened woman cyborg who joins the crew and who we’re not entirely sure should be trusted.

The Mundane: The series so far has three books, all of them a ton of fun, but the story is nowhere near complete. This is a big universe, so I’m sure it’s that the story is just larger than three books but I do miss the days when I could count on the things finishing within a trilogy or (dare I say it?) in a single novel.

Summary of Thoughts: Super enjoyable YA Sci-Fi adventures with Jalena that I’m happy to recommend. The first book, “The Rogue Prince”, is only $0.99! There’s plenty of action, a little romance, compelling characters, and even Starseer magic. Everything you need for a great read:)


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

Want to know about the author and her work? Explore her website (and the first chapters of “The Rogue Prince”) here


In the Spotlight: Red Shift (Syzygy: Book 5)


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If you haven’t read this awesome Sci-Fi series, get started today with book one “Transient Phenomena”. Available for FREE on Amazon! Check out my review of it here

Red Shift (Syzygy: Book 5)

By J. K. Ullrich

red shift

In the fifth installment of the “Syzygy” hexalogy, the long-divided clans of lunar survivors reconnect at last, but a century of distrust isn’t easily overcome. Determined to forge an alliance between their fractious communities, Ash and Skye undertake a second Earth mission. Old enemies and new revelations await them. As dark truths about the past threaten humanity’s fragile chances for the future, only Ash and Skye’s evolving partnership can unite the survivors…if it can withstand their own shattered hopes and unthinkable loss.

Buy it today on Amazon!

The full review coming soon to the blog (Preview: It’s amazing!!)

Fair, Bright, and Terrible (Welsh Blades Book 2)


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Title & Author: Fair, Bright, and Terrible (Welsh Blades, Book 2), Elizabeth Kingston

Genre & Publication Date: Historical Romance, January 25th, 2017

Book Description: Minor Spoilers in this description. Read at own risk: “Wales is conquered, and Eluned has lost everything: her country, her husband, her hope. All that remains is vengeance, and she will stop at nothing to have it. Certain there is no trace within her of the idealistic girl who loved Robert de Lascaux a lifetime ago, she agrees to marry him to advance the fortunes of her son, to avoid the nunnery, and most importantly – as an easy way to gain access to the man upon whom she will avenge Wales.

When Robert is asked to marry the woman he has loved for eighteen years, he never hesitates. But the lady who greets him at the altar has so little in common with the girl he adored that he begins to doubt that there is anything left of her bold and passionate younger self. Marriage to her might gain him the fortune and status his family has always wanted, but no wealth has ever mattered to him as much as Eluned has. And she, it seems, does not want him at all.

Trapped in a web of intrigue, revenge, and desire, they cannot forget their past – but can they share a future? The fascinating world of medieval Wales is continued in this riveting companion novel to The King’s Man.”

First Line: It all ended in cold flesh.

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

This novel is the sequel to “The King’s Man” which I’ve reviewed and loved (Read it!!). Book Two follows Eluned, the mother of book one’s heroine. When we met her in “The King’s Man” she was frighteningly ambitious, wickedly clever, and painfully jaded. “Fair, Bright, and Terrible” picks up this thread without missing a beat. I don’t want to give too much away as far as plot because this is a sequel, but I really enjoyed it. Twists and turns in the political landscape with a relationship at its center, it had everything you’re looking for in a historical romance.

Robert is a new character whom we didn’t meet in book one, but I liked him a lot. Open-hearted and hopeful, he was Eluned’s opposite. When they were young they’d had a passionate affair, one that ended because of circumstance rather than sentiment. Robert went on to idolize their time together, never realizing how much the years would change Eluned from the loving and quick witted girl she’d once been. When they’re reunited, he’s happy to find her intelligence as keen as ever (something he’d always admired, bless him) but she’d lost all of her former softness. Poor guy gets hit with disappointment over and over on this score as Eluned tries to hang on to her hard outer shell. Sometimes she made me crazy with this, even though I understood it.

Here’s the thing I found incredibly beautiful in this novel–it’s about how love with the right person can change us for the better. There are so many stories of how a relationship can ruin a life or shatter someone’s ability to trust. These happen, in real life and in fiction, but love isn’t all sorrow. It also isn’t a panacea, I know. It takes effort, a willingness to see yourself and your own faults, and the courage to change. Because vulnerability is courage, not weakness. It’s the path back to joy and to each other.

The Magical: Something awesome about this author: She doesn’t just coast to the end when we get to the 85/90% mark. More happens, one last exciting crescendo. Man, I love that and it’s something that makes this author’s work an auto-buy for me.

The Mundane: I think I mentioned this but Eluned’s constantly closing herself off no matter what got to me at times. I understood she did it instinctively since she’d had to do it all her life just to survive, but since this is what kept her and Robert apart I wanted to yell at her sometimes.

Summary of Thoughts: An absolute gem of a book for the genre, I highly recommend this one! Currently it’s $4.99 on Amazon. I do advise reading “The King’s Man” first for context as there are cameos from book one which you’ll love all the more if you’ve met them before. Political machinations, a heart melting romance, and plenty of action and intrigue all the way through. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!

Many thanks to author Elizabeth Kingston for providing a copy of the book to 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


Book Reminders & An Update


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First, the reminders:

If you love Sci-Fi and Time-Travel, check out W. R. Gingell’s A Time Traveler’s Best Friend which is currently only $0.99. The sequel, Memento Mori, just released September 26 and is priced at $2.99 for a limited time (will go up to $3.99 after release promotion, so grab your copy!!).

W. R. Gingell was recently a guest on the blog. Check out her article Voyager, Stargate, and Patchwork Storytelling

Here’s the synopsis of book one:


Meet Marx. Meet Kez.

Marx is a small, angry man with a time machine and a chip on his shoulder. Kez is a homicidal little girl with a price on her head and a penchant for kicking people where it hurts the most.

After a narrow escape from the owners of the stolen craft he pilots, the last thing Marx wants is another gun pointed at him. What he wants and what he gets, however, are two very different things.

On the run from killers, shadowy corporations, and one very specific Someone, the last thing Kez wants when she points a gun at yet another apparent killer is a self-appointed protector.

What she wants and what she needs, however, are two very different things…




Google Play 



If you need more Sci-Fi Time-Travel goodness, I have a short-story you can pick up on Amazon for FREE:


Indra knows adjusting to life in a new town can take time but after a month she still hasn’t settled in. The gaps in her memory and her husband’s tendency to run mysterious errands at night don’t help matters. When she believes he is being unfaithful she follows him, never expecting to find an unimaginable confrontation and a stranger who knows her better than she knows herself.

Free on Amazon

In other news, I’ll be getting back to reviews and other speculative fiction snark very soon. Early September an opportunity came up to get a YA Sci-Fi novel I plan to publish next year edited by someone who’d been closed for submissions. A last minute cancellation got me into her schedule (woo hoo!) however it also required me to send her the revised manuscript by the end of September. At that point, I had the weedy first draft done–the version I don’t allow into the light of day let alone in front of the eyes of an editor.

Did I finish revisions in time? Bet your ass, I did. Just don’t ask me to compare this month’s units of caffeine to hours of sleep because one vastly outnumbers the other *rubs at twitching eye*

What’s the novel I slaved over all about? It’s a cyberpunk standalone about a girl with epilepsy, the fall of human civilization, and an unlikely partnership with someone who is more than he seems. I’ll post other details and the official synopsis in the coming weeks but that, in a nutshell, is what I’ve been up to.

Hope you are all enjoying Fall and haven’t overdosed too much on the pumpkin spice!


Guest Post: Voyager, Stargate, and Patchwork Storytelling


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gingellVisiting the blog today is author W. R. Gingell, writer of speculative fiction, here to talk about Sci-Fi and the stories that led her to not just loving the genre, but creating universes of her own. Take it away!


I’ve never been a huge Sci-Fi reader. As I grew up, I read quite a lot of Sci-Fi—the difference between reading Sci-Fi and being a Sci-Fi reader being the fact that I didn’t seek out Sci-Fi particularly. It was usually by accident, when I found a story or characters that fascinated me. If the story and characters were good, I read it regardless of genre. I ended up reading a lot of Nicholas Fisk, C.S. Lewis’ Cosmic trilogy, and a fair bit of John Christopher, along with a smattering of random scifi titles.

It was probably for this reason that I was so late to the game when it came to scifi T.V. shows like Startrek, Stargate, and Starwars. My mum loved fantasy, my dad didn’t really watch fictional T.V. at all, and scifi T.V. was just never on in the house. In fact, I discovered Voyager after I got married, some time in my early 20s.

And I LOVED it.

I loved the episodic nature of it, while at the same time appreciating the over-arching story of trying-to-get-home (and seriously, is there anyone who didn’t love Q? Oh. I’m the only one who loved him? Okay.). I loved Captain Janeway, a character who was so busy being herself and doing awesome stuff that it never occurred to her to try and be a Strong Female Character. Because she was a person. A captain. And I loved the odd episode where you weren’t quite sure what was happening and what was up, but you followed it because you knew the character and you were interested in seeing where the writers took it.

So when I got the idea for extending my short story, A Time Traveller’s Best Friend, into a series, the idea of writing it like a T.V. series instead of a traditional scifi series was the only way it occurred to me to do the thing.  Originally, A Time Traveller’s Best Friend started as a short story written for my local writing group; a single story from a single idea that sprouted from a series of writing prompt challenge words. But I loved Kez and Marx so much that I didn’t want to stop writing about them, and I knew lengthening the short story wasn’t an option for me. I liked it in its compact, cellular form. The logical option was to turn it into a T.V. series. In a book.

In my Time Traveller’s Best Friend series, I’ve combined all my favourite things about Sci-Fi into bookform, making a patchwork of Sci-Fi and time travel that is about as battered as The Upsydaisy, Marx and Kez’s stolen er, secondhand craft. Each volume of the series is a set of interlinking, but distinct, adventures—something like a season would be on T.V.—each with its own story arc that feeds into the main arc of the whole series. And because of the nature of time travel, I left myself free to play with the structure as far as chronology goes. I mean, if your characters are travelling in time and space, some things are going to happen in a different order to what an outside watcher perceives…

Since the 2nd book is now up for preorder (September 26th), I’m running a 99c special on A Time Traveller’s Best Friend, which means you can check it out for a steal (Kez would certainly approve). The first volume of the series is on the shorter side, but Memento Mori more than makes up for that, weighing in at over twice the length of A Time Traveller’s Best Friend. Come aboard the Upsydaisy for adventures in time and space, but beware—Here be monsters…

Thanks for stopping by!

Check out Gingell’s time-travel series and its upcoming sequel! The first book (below) is only $0.99!


Meet Marx. Meet Kez.

Marx is a small, angry man with a time machine and a chip on his shoulder. Kez is a homicidal little girl with a price on her head and a penchant for kicking people where it hurts the most.

After a narrow escape from the owners of the stolen craft he pilots, the last thing Marx wants is another gun pointed at him. What he wants and what he gets, however, are two very different things.

On the run from killers, shadowy corporations, and one very specific Someone, the last thing Kez wants when she points a gun at yet another apparent killer is a self-appointed protector.

What she wants and what she needs, however, are two very different things…




Google Play 



The sequel is available for pre-order now!


Even time travellers can run out of time.

Marx and Kez have been skipping through the known Twelve Worlds, keeping one step ahead of certain capture by the seat of their trousers, and the vastness of time and space is feeling a tad too small.

Kez has always been a bit crazy, but now it’s Marx who is getting mad. Someone is trying to kill them, and that’s the sort of thing he takes personally.

To add to their difficulties, there are Fixed Points in time that are beginning to look a little less…fixed.

Between Time Corp, WAOF, Uncle Cheng, and the Lolly Men, it’s beginning to look like there’s nowhere safe in the known Twelve Worlds for Kez and Marx.

Release Date: September 26th!




Google Play



About the Author

W.R. Gingell is a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. She loves to rewrite fairytales with a twist or two–and a murder or three–and original fantasy where dragons, enchantresses, and other magical creatures abound. Occasionally she will also dip her toes into the waters of SciFi.

W.R. spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees.

Connect with her via:






Guest Post: Realms of Culture


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jeffeSuper excited to have award-winning author Jeffe Kennedy as a guest on the blog today! As a huge fan of her work (Read my review of her new release, The Shift of the Tide), I am always so impressed by the cultures in her novels. Seriously, I have found myself talking about some of the intricate and fascinating aspects only to realize the level of detail I went into made it sound like an actual culture that existed somewhere. So, I asked if Jeffe might tell us a bit about her writing approach regarding the different cultures in her Fantasy worlds and what she does to make them seem so real.

I often get asked about how I construct the cultures in my fantasy worlds. Well, more broadly, readers and other writers ask about my worldbuilding process. Anela here specifically asked about the cultures. She mentioned the Nahanaun culture from The Pages of the Mind (Anela says: This one just won a RITA award, woooo!!), in particular, and the Faerie society in my Covenant of Thorns trilogy. She also asked about the cultures as they’re experienced by my characters as outsiders to them.

That last question is actually quite pertinent. It’s a common trope in fantasy to have a character who is what we call “a fish out of water.” This acts on a couple of levels. The character who is plunged into an unfamiliar world with a new set of rules has to find new abilities in themselves, to learn to overcome the challenges of those circumstances. If a person remains in familiar surroundings, there’s no impetus for them to change. Taken out of their pond, they have to learn to breathe air in order to survive. Also, a fish out of water character serves as an avatar for the reader—they allow the reader to learn the world along with them.

As for the rest, I often reply that I learn the world as the characters do, by riding around in their heads as the story unfolds. That’s true, but it’s also an oversimplification. I might observe the world through their perceptions—which includes their own ideas and cultural preconceptions—but I try to base aspects of the world on real life principles.

  1. Physical Laws.

It’s important to determine if the world follows the same physical laws as ours. Some aspects, like gravity and molecular cohesion are hard to get away from and still have a comprehensible story. In the world of The Twelve Kingdoms and The Uncharted Realms (the world of The Pages of the Mind), most of the standard physical laws apply, with the addition of magic. In the Faerie of Covenant of Thorns, I twisted up some of those laws. The presence of magic changes how the natural world works, particularly the rate of mutation and evolution.

  1. Ecology

I’m a biologist by training, so I’ve studied a lot about how ecology—climate, temperature, geological features like oceans or mountains—influences the flora, fauna and human civilizations there. For example, in our world, animals tend to be larger the farther north they live. So Wyoming bobcats are much bigger than New Mexico bobcats. When I built the world of Nahanau, I knew the islands would be formed from volcanic activity and be in a tropical climate. The types of plant life and animals there would be informed by all of that. Because volcanic islands have barrier reefs (a consequence of how they’re formed), I knew there would be sea life associated with barrier reefs, and so forth.

  1. People and politics

The humans who live in a particular environment are as much a product of it as the plants and animals. The Nahanauns live in a consistently warm environment, so their dress and building construction reflects that. On top of that, because of the openness of their society, I figured they’d have more flexible ideas about personal property. In Faerie, humans have no magic and thus no power. They’re lower class citizens and their towns reflect that. In that society, the types of fae who have the most magic—and are most willing to wield it—rise to the highest levels. But that kind of society leads to near-constant battling, as well.

  1. Language

Deciding on a culture’s language can be a twisty proposition. Because a book is an exercise of language to begin with, the language the story is written in dictates a great deal. I usually make the “home” language of the main characters be pretty close to modern American English, for simplicity’s sake. Some readers don’t like this because they feel the language of epic and high fantasy should be like in Tolkien. But Tolkein wrote in the early 1900s—the language he used was different than modern American English. I don’t think it’s any more “accurate” to use British English of the early 1900s for fantasy that American English of the early 2000s.

When I go to create a language foreign to the main characters, I usually base it off another language in our world, so there’s a sense of familiarity that also evokes place. For Nahanau, I used Hawaiian words and put a slightly different spin on them. I did this for names, as well. For Faerie, I used Gaelic as a base.

Finally, because I wanted Nahanaun to be a perplexing language for the heroine, Dafne, I complicated their verb tenses. I added words to indicate past and future, like oriental languages such as Chinese do. I also had those tenses colored with good or bad fortune, partly to illustrate the culture, and to make things more interesting.

  1. Mythology

Finally, I always try to be sure to include the spiritual outlook of the human culture. How people view the intangible world is as important as the effects of the tangible one.

Many thanks for being a guest on the blog, Jeffe!

Check out her newest release in The Uncharted Realms series, The Shift of the Tide

shift_ebook-200x300Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…

Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.

A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…

 About Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.

She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.

In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.

Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Sarah Younger of Nancy Yost Literary Agency.



The Shift of the Tide (The Uncharted Realms)


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Title & Author: The Shift of the Tide (The Uncharted Realms), Jeffe Kennedy

Genre & Publication Date: Fantasy Romance, August 29, 2017

Book Description: “Free from the hand of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. New allies appear–and enemies encroach–from all sides. To survive, they must adapt to this new reality without a moment of doubt…

Growing up in a country where magic was common as dust, Zynda never had to worry about her enchantments upsetting the balance of nature. But the land beyond the borders of the thirteenth kingdom calls to her. It may be foreign and ugly, but the strangeness is laced with an excitement she has never known. Outside her homeland, Zynda’s shapeshifting and sorcery are a potent advantage to nations grasping for dominance–and the thrill of power lures her even as she recognizes the threat she poses to these magic-buffeted realms.

A ruthless enemy stalks them, promising destruction if she does not fight with all her strength–but if she upsets the equilibrium of the land, all will pay, the common people most of all. And a man of this outside world fascinates her, a mossback with no scrap of magic in him. He knows nothing of the fears and temptations pulling at her. But in his steady embrace she learns she must choose well–for the consequences may reach farther than she ever imagined…”

First Line: Water streamed over my skin in a rush, responsive as it enveloped me, like music following my dance.

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

The Shift of the Tide is the third installment of The Uncharted Realms series, an award winning spin-off from the original Twelve Kingdoms books (Which everyone should read! Start with “The Mark of the Tala” and let me know when you come up for air.)

This story centers around Zynda, a woman from the lands of magic, Anfwyn, who is the strongest shifter of her generation. If you’ve been following this series then you know how we’ve all been dying to find out more about this insular people and culture who rarely, if ever, share their secrets with the outside world (the one without magic). In this book, at last, we get to find out so much about their culture and their ways through the lens of Zynda’s perspective, as well as the epidemic the Tala are facing. Zynda’s self-appointed mission to save her people is one she plays close to the chest, not even telling her friends and allies, knowing the sacrifice it will require is one they wouldn’t let her pay willingly. But this is something she’s worked toward for a long time. There’s nothing else she desires for herself than this–until a near-death experience reveals the devotion of a man she never really noticed before.

Fiercely independent, I really liked Zynda. So closed off in at certain points, I sometimes felt bad for poor Marskal and the way she kept holding him at arm’s length, yet I understood she did this because of her plans, wanting to spare them both from hoping for something that couldn’t be. Lots of tension and agony with these two, but also a mutual admiration and deepening loyalty through their adventures together. You can’t help but hold on to that hope with both hands.

The Magical: Draaaaagons, y’all! Fire, scales, and wings! Loved it! I also seriously enjoyed the way Kennedy wrote the experience of shifting into an animal form, the struggle to hold on to one’s human side while physically inhabiting another skin. Excellently done.

The Mundane: There’s a big enemy the kingdoms are contending with that is using magic to raise dead things–human and animal alike. I know there’s more coming on this front but I wished there’d have been some additional battle/action. I’m betting that’s coming in the next installment but I did feel its absence in this one.

Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $6.99 on Amazon. An awesome story, full of self-sacrifice and self-realization. Zynda’s voice carried the book well and her relationship with Marskal took time and felt all the sweeter because of it. I loved Marskal, a warrior without the annoying, flip-her-over-his-shoulder, overbearing trope that makes me want to kill something. Not a push-over either and able to take a few things on the chin. This book is a wonderful addition to the ongoing series and I definitely recommend it!


Many thanks to author Jeffe Kennedy for the chance to review your work!

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

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


A Single Candle

Things have been pretty ghoulish around the country of late. It’s a surreal thing to see all those torch wielders in Virginia spewing hate, waving the Nazi flag, and making the “Sieg Heil” when probably all of their grandfathers fought against the Nazis in WWII. In some ways I’m glad the old timers aren’t around to see their descendants invoke the name of the world’s once greatest enemy in their protests. (Somebody point them to a copy of “The Man in the High Castle” if they want to see of version of what might have been). I’m positive my own grandpa is pretty pissed off right about now. My husband, who most of you know is from Holland and whose country was occupied by the Germans for five years in WWII, said Americans have no conception of how truly evil the Nazis were.

I’ve been thinking about the nature of hate, the kind that makes someone drive a car into a group of people and call it patriotism. You might wonder what’s the use in trying to understand something that is incomprehensible, but this is what my thoughts came back with:

Hate is another form of despair. It’s the externalization of powerlessness, of unfulfilled need. The trouble is that it has an almost addictive quality. It feels empowering. It gives this sense of vindication, of purpose, when in fact it only takes power away. It makes one more susceptible to another’s control, to be radicalized towards another’s agenda. So I find myself angry all over again that there is such deep despair in this country that it outs itself in the form of hatred and blame and bloodshed. Yet, as much as I strive to understand, I believe with absolute conviction the God-awful things they cried out and the symbols they bandied about during their protests cannot be tolerated and should not (and as a writer, I don’t say this lightly) be protected under the right of free speech. Here’s why:

“Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”

Karl Popper, Jewish philosopher who fled Prussia from Nazis in the 1930s

But it’s not enough to condemn what was said. We have to speak up in return. We have to ask ourselves what can we do.

Recently I came across a message to bloggers from @aartichapati:



Taking a look through my reviews so far this year, I feel I’m falling way short of the mark when it comes to reading diversely. I plan to do better because she’s right. Learning new perspectives and approaches has always served to elevate my life and my view of the world, usually in ways I never anticipated beforehand.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading and reviewing the authors I love or skip over a story that grabs my interest if it’s written by a white person or has white characters. This is about addition, not subtraction. This is about responding to an ideology that wants to silence and oppress, and fighting against it every way I can. We need more voices, not fewer. I won’t say to love your neighbor no matter what–hell, my neighbors’ kids like to ring my friggin’ doorbell every night and run away (and here I thought that prank had died out)–but wish him no harm and search for ways to understand each other.

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness,” Anne Frank said. For myself, and this small space on the internet, I plan to do just that by seeking out new authors and stories. I hope you’ll join me.


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.


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.


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 and Astrobiology Magazine):

Particle Geysers


“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


“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


“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.




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.


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