In the first book of the series, Star Nomad, Captain Alisa Marchenko and her crew never even made it to their destination, but they finally do in this book. The Empire may have lost the war, but the planet of Perun is still a stronghold for Empire supporters, so the Star Nomad isn't exactly welcome. Luckily for Marchenko, one of her passengers, Alejandro, is able to use his influence to clear the way for an authorized landing. Alisa is here to be reunited with her daughter, who she hasn't seen in years, and Alejandro is here to do some research on his mysterious artifact to further his unknown quest. Marchenko isn't sure exactly what happens after she is reunited with her daughter, but she is still dreaming of a life as a freighter pilot and plans to take her daughter with her. However, it doesn't take long for her to learn that something dreadful has happened and all her plans are for naught. While she was off fighting in the war, the Starseers came and took her daughter away, so it's time for a new plan. Track down the all powerful Starseers and get her daughter back, no matter what the cost....
Book 6 of the Innkeeper Chronicles pushes its mix of fantasy and sci-fi humor to the edge of the ridiculous with this galactic version of "The Bachelor". The Spouse candidates are a fantastically diverse group of aliens and according to rumor at least one of them wants to assassinate the Sovereign of the Dominion instead of marrying him. But behind the "show" there is a surprising amount of substance. The metaphorical spotlights are on several minor characters from previous books and at long last we learn Caldenia's backstory.
The war is over and the Empire has surrendered, but that doesn't mean things are going well for everyone, especially on the mining planet of Duster. Fighter pilot Alisa Marchenko has finally recovered from injuries sustained in a crash during the final battle of the war only to discover that she has been left behind on this mostly lawless planet. She has no money and no way to return home to Perun where her daughter is, so she hatches a plan to fix up the dilapidated freighter that she grew up on, which has been rotting in a local scrapyard for the last 6 years. She enlists the help of Mica, the pessimistic engineer from her old ship, who also wants to get off of Duster and they set out to fix up the Nomad. Of course things don't go according to plan and they wind up with a few other interesting individuals they have to deal with in order to leave, including the enemy cyborg who happens to have taken up residence in the freighter now.
If The Princess Bride were written by Hoid, also known as Wit, it would be something like Tress and the Emerald Sea. The tale begins as many YA fairytales do with Tress setting off to rescue the boy she loves from an evil sorceress. However, since Hoid is our narrator, it loses the feel of a YA book with the first detailed description of the gruesome way people die if they happen to breathe in a spore from the Verdant Sea. Since the Sea is made up of spores instead of water, it's a fairly common fate for those travelling across it. At least the Verdant is the least dangerous of the seas that she must cross to find her love while escaping smugglers, surviving on a pirate ship, and negotiating with a dragon. It's a good thing she makes some friends along the way because all of that is easy compared to facing down an immortal sorceress.
The invading forces have finally arrived on the shores of the kingdom of Belleger, and yet the nature of this enemy remains mostly unknown. Two books of build up leave us knowing only one thing about this army, and that is their ultimate destination: the Last Repository. The enemy plans to destroy the final storehouse of all books and knowledge and unfortunately for King Bifalt, Belleger is on the way. This means he must fight a war that shouldn't really involve him. He hates sorcery and having to expend the lives of his people to protect the sorcerers of the Repository galls him. To make matters even worse, Queen Estie has travelled to the Repository in order to unlock her own gift for sorcery, which means that she too is lost to him. At least now that the invaders are here, Bifalt will finally be able to see who they are and what he is up against. To his surprise, what he learns is that the enemy is not who he thought it would be and many of them have actually been embedded in Belleger all along...
Zombie apocalypse books are a dime a dozen, but this series was able to carve out a unique identity due to the main character being an alcoholic with an entertaining sense of humor. In a constant state of inebriation, Gus was prone to having insightful conversations with his trusty bottle of Captain Morgan, and those two were able to team up to overcome many a dreadful situation. That is why when book 3 focused solely on a different main character and not Gus, it just wasn't the same. I am happy to report that Gus is back for this book, which takes place a full 4 years after the start of the zombie apocalypse. Humans now have the upper hand and the zombies have been prone to deterioration over time, resulting in many not even being able to walk any more. Gus lives on a farm with a few other survivors and they try to rebuild a bit of what has been lost. All that sounds good but there is a troubling development that puts the entire rest of series.at risk. Gus has stopped drinking.
Murderbot (MB) is back in its first full length novel of the series. MB returns to its role as a planetary expedition security bot but now it's actually getting paid. Things went alright; it only had to interrupt watching shows long enough to kill a few pirates, but of course the whole thing would have taken less time if the humans would have just listened. Not its favorite humans, they know better. However, on the way back to Preservation is when things get completely derailed because they are attacked by.....ART?? Murderbot doesn't really believe in the concept of "friendship" but ART's attack still seems out of character. Murderbot thought humans were the biggest inconvenience in its life, but it turns out aliens hijacking its not-friend is far worse.
Originally started all the way back in 1983, the Vlad Taltos series follows a human assassin of the same name living on the planet Dragaera. The Dragaerans are a race of beings that were created when humans were cross-bred with a few of the local animals. The characteristics of these animals therefore became a genetic component of the members of each Great House, influencing their physical features and personality traits. The lone exception being the lowest of the Houses, the House of Jhereg, which is more of an organization formed by outcasts of the other Houses. House Jhereg is looked down upon by almost everyone and its very existence is controversial. Despite having no actual genetic basis for it, it too is named for a local creature, the Jhereg - which is a tiny, dragon-like animal. The House of Jhereg is quite a bit shadier than the other Houses and allows many frowned upon practices, including selling titles within the House for a price. That's why Vlad's father was able to buy his way in as a human, thus making Vlad a rare Easterner in a Great House. This puts Vlad in quite a unique position that he uses to his advantage in his role as an assassin for hire.
The Commune series has been a pretty good one so far. It has focused on a group of characters struggling to survive in the mountains of Wyoming after a Coronal Mass Ejection destroyed society as we know it. The series has been a gritty apocalyptic tale, and sometimes it's been quite brutal, but it has always been centered in realism. I appreciate the straight up story telling that doesn't rely on zombies or alien invasions to challenge the main characters. Speaking of those characters, I've been rooting for them to make it for 4 books now, so I eagerly picked up book 5 to see what was in store for them now. To my surprise, those characters are nowhere to be found. This book is centered in Washington, D.C. so it feels more like the start of a new series than a continuation of an old one. Does it hold up or is this just a money grab that takes advantage of the series name?
The extraordinarily wealthy Tesla Crane and her husband are incognito on their honeymoon cruise. Not only did she inherit the company responsible for Earth's telecommunications, but she was a brilliant robotic engineer whose career ended in tragedy, leaving her broken in both mind and body. A few days after the ship begins its journey from the Moon to Mars the newlyweds interrupt a murder outside their cabin. Being a famous detective, her husband chases the fleeing murderer while Tesla waits for medical help with the victim. Unfortunately, the security chief arrests Tesla's husband as the easiest suspect ,so it's up to Tesla to make them see reason. When reason fails she sets out to find the murderer herself. The really strange thing? Another body has turned up in the waste recycling system but everyone aboard is accounted for. Have there been two murders? And who is this spare man?