Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost

In the 25th Century, the British Space Empire is facing the Ghast Empire – evil ant soldiers bent on domination and extermination of all humanoid life.

Captain Isambard Smith is the dashing, courageous, and somewhat idiotic commander of the light freighter John Pym; destined to take on the Ghast because no one else is available. Together with his bold crew—a skull-collecting alien lunatic, an android pilot who is actually a fugitive sex toy, and a hamster called Gerald—he must collect new-age herbalist Rhianna Mitchell from the laid back New Francisco orbiter and bring her back to safety in the Empire. It seems simple enough, except the Ghasts want her too.

If he is to get back to Blighty alive, Smith must defeat void sharks, a universe-weary android assassin, and John Gilead, psychopathic naval officer from the fanatically religious Republic of New Eden before facing his greatest enemy: a ruthless alien warlord with a very large behind.

I will admit right now that I loved Space Captain Smith. I have been a fan of the sci-fi genre for a very long time. Having read and watched numerous movies and series, Space Captain Smith joins a hallowed crew in my heart.

At times glorious at others campy, it is like Frost took all the best of the most beloved sci-fi series and threw them in a blender. As I read I noticed nods to Star Trek, Blade Runner, the Matrix, Predator, and even I think a bit of Firefly.

This was a fun read, enjoyable to see the worlds we know so well turned on their ear. Fans of Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett will likely enjoy this book. Fans of science fiction and comedy in general will adore this book. I know I certainly did.

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Thieves’Quarry (Thieftaker Chronicles #2) by D.B. Jackson

In 1768, just outside of Boston in Boston Harbor, a small flotilla of British naval ships have arrived. They carry over a thousand of His Majesty’s soldiers and are set to occupy the city, ending a summer of rioting and political unrest.

Before the occupation can occur, Ethan Kaille is awoken by an incredibly powerful spell. When he tries to find the source he is approached by agents of the Crown and he soon learns what woke him. Every man on the HMS Graystone has died but no one knows why; there is no sign of illness or violence, it is as if the men lay down where they were and died.

Ethan soon discovers that not every one died on that ship; there is one person missing. Could they be the killer? Or could there be another conjurer in the city? One with the power to kill a ship full of men with one spell?

Thieves’ Quarry is the second book in the Thieftaker Chronicles series. It is an interesting novel in that it combines fact and fiction in an almost seamless manner. The occupation of Boston in 1768 by British troops did actually happen, the HMS Graystone and it’s ill fated crew however are mere figments. That doesn’t make what happens to them any less tragic nor does it make us, the reader, not care.

As we are brought once again in to Ethan Kaille’s world, we do care. We follow him as he tries to learn what happened to the ship’s crew and its missing sailor. We feel his frustration as he is thwarted at many a turn, we feel his panic in the prison cell. Just as in the first book of the series, we are with him every step of the way.

I enjoyed Thieves’ Quarry a good deal, just as much as I enjoyed the first book Thieftaker. Jackson does an excellent job of weaving fact and fantasy creating a most believable story. Those who enjoy a good mystery as well as those who enjoy a good historical fiction will do well to read this series. I enjoyed it greatly and look forward to getting the next book.

 

Stray Souls (Magicals Anonymous #1) by Kate Griffin

The city of London’s soul has gone missing. Has it been lost? Kidnapped? Murdered, perhaps? No one knows for sure but with the soul of the city missing, the Gate between the real and the unreal is open. And with the Gate open and no one to guard it there are creatures out hunting.

Sharon Li has accidentally discovered she is a shaman, and her oneness with the city means she is called upon to find the city’s missing soul. The only problem is while everyone expects Sharon to know what to do, in truth she had no idea where to start. The monsters however won’t be waiting for Sharon to catch up; they’re hungry and the city awaits.

I really enjoyed reading Stray Souls. It’s an urban fantasy kind of book and while reading it I was reminded of another favorite book of mine – Good Omens. The style of writing and pacing of the story was very reminiscent and made it a fun read.

I think one of the things I enjoyed best was how strong of an individual Sharon was. All too often a female main character eventually falls in to the ‘helpless heroine’ trope. Sharon doesn’t do that; though she has a lot to deal with throughout the story, she handles it with aplomb. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t ask for assistance when it is required, she just kicks a good deal of ass all on her own.

The vast array of characters also adds to the fun of the book. Readers familiar with Griffin’s other works will recognize Matthew Swift as he makes an appearance. Griffin has added a menagerie of other memorable characters such as a banshee with a love of modern art and a vampire with severe OCD.

Slated as the first in a series, Stray Souls can also be considered a stand alone novel. The book is full of well written scenes, interesting characters, and a satisfying end. Those who enjoy Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman might do well to give this author a try. I, personally, will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

Trailer Park Fae by Lillith Saintcrow

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be.

Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae—by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

It always pains me, dear readers, when I come across a book I do not enjoy. And unfortunately that has happened with Trailer Park Fae. While I have read some of Ms. Saintcrow’s other works and enjoyed them, I cannot say the same for this.

One of the problems I had was how heavily the book relied on fae folklore. Those, like myself, who are not well versed in the stories might soon find themselves very confused and at times thrown out of the story. When words or titles were used with little to no explanation it was a bit jarring.

Another issue I had was with the style of writing itself. It could be overly flowery, often leaning towards purple prose. I found myself actually rolling my eyes a few times over the descriptions.

Lastly, the characters. For me there just wasn’t enough given about them for me to actually care about them. Why did Gallow leave the land of Summer? Why did Robin? There wasn’t nearly enough background on any of them and the “big secret” I saw coming a mile away.

I was sadly disappointed with Trailer Park Fae. I was hoping for something a little darker and grittier and unfortunately I didn’t get it. This is supposedly the start of a series, but I won’t be seeking out the subsequent books.