Review of ‘Nero’ by Valden Bush

I love sci-fi, so getting the chance to read a new voice in the genre thrilled me. And I was not disappointed. Valden Bush has imagined a fascinating universe of worlds and peoples, with a brilliant twist, in her debut novel, ‘Nero’. Stele Hosun is an outcast on account of her black eyes. In her culture on Nero those with this characteristic are banished, as are those women who love other women. Stele is angry and volatile, but who can blame her? When Colonel Kian Ray offers her an outlet where her skills may be useful, she has to decide whether to let go of her anger and take a chance. She also has to find a way to live without her love, Ariane. But when pirates invade Nero, Stele has to use everything she’s got to find a way to save the woman she loves and the society than shunned her.

‘Nero’ is a beautifully written story, with exquisite world-building, an intriguing mystery and a passionate love story. The connection between Stele and Ariane was powerful, enduring and intense. The mystery of the coloured shards in Neroan culture made for an engrossing tale, captivating my attention until the very last page. I loved this book and hope there will be more of these characters and their stories in the future. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ by Fletcher DeLancey

I have read the entire Chronicles of Alsea series and I am astounded at the talent of Fletcher DeLancey. Her writing is superb and the imagination that went into the plotting of the series is beyond belief. The final book is a fitting end to the series. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ was a truly satisfying and emotionally overwhelming book. So many threads were brought together and woven into a perfect tapestry. Each and every character played a part and they were given well deserved closure. It was about being with the people and in the place you are meant to be. About fulfilling a destiny.  It was an utter joy to read and I fervently hope that the author is not finished with this universe. I must also make a special mention of the wonderful cover art for this book and the rest of the series. It is stunning and looks amazing on my bookshelves. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star was a beautiful end to a masterpiece of a series. 

Review of ‘Alsea Rising: Gathering Storm’ by Fletcher Delancey

This book begins a new phase for our favourite characters and starts to bring some threads together. But there is so much more to this story and Fletcher Delancey has ensured that no reader will be able to resist immediately buying the finale. 

Ekatya’s life has never been easy since she first entered Alsean space. Some in the Protectorate do not regard her in the high esteem she deserves. And one particular Admiral is determined to make her life difficult. But not every aspect of her life causes stress. For all of the main protagonists, changes begin and realisations become clear. As the much needed space elevator nears completion, fears of a Voloth attack weigh on the minds of those responsible for the safety of Alsea. There’s a feeling of something important coming, of the culmination of destiny. For all of them. High drama and the most delicious cliffhanger will have you screaming for more. Be warned- you will want to have the next book ready to go. Completely and utterly wonderful. 

Review of ‘Uprising’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Uprising’ is book 8 in The Chronicles of Alsea series and another masterpiece. This time the overall theme is of different people learning about each other and realising we are all the same. It’s also about hate that could rip everything apart.They were brought together in war and mayhem. Now the repercussions start to play out as different groups live together on Alsea – Alseans, Gaians and Voloth. It’s about taking a stand and demanding change. There’s a sense of empowerment, of coming together. It was inspiring.

Review of ‘Resilience’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Resilience’ is the 7th book in the Chronicles of Alsea series. And it’s another marvel. Fletcher DeLancey takes us further into and her universe and the wonders within. Rahel is onboard the Phoenix and has to find a way to coexist with the Gaians serving there. It’s not easy. This story focused on relationships of various kinds, and the importance of communication. I loved getting to know Dr Wells especially. There was something so appealing about her – the gruff and the caring sides of her nature made her a wonderful character. I hope we get to see more of her in future books too. As for some other new characters, they made a deep impression on me. But to say any more would wander into the area of spoilers. An excellent story, with exquisite writing and imagination. 

Review of ‘Outcaste’ by Fletcher DeLancey

Rahel Sayana wants to forge her own path, but in a society where choosing your own caste is not easy, her wishes are disregarded. Seeing no other way out, she runs away to Whitesun and a life on the edges of society. A life fraught with danger. Struggles become part of who she is and lead her into battles not of her own making. 

This has been the most challenging, but the most satisfying of the Chronicles of Alsea books for me so far. I must admit some of the subject matter was difficult. But it had to be done. Fletcher Delancey’s masterful storytelling took me to the depths and then turned it all around. Rachel’s story was multi-layered, with fascinating connections woven throughout. Seeing the story of Alsea from a different perspective, a different point of view added a richness I could not have anticipated.New characters so unlike any in the previous books opened up my mind. There were a few surprises that made me sit back and wonder at the imagination and skill of Fletcher DeLancey.  Utterly outstanding. There’s no other way to describe it. 

Review of ‘Without A Front: The Warrior’s Challenge’ by Fletcher DeLancey

After an unexpected attack Lancer Tal and Salomen find out just what their relationship really means. Their bond brings a strength neither could have imagined, but they face decisions that are bound to change their lives forever. Is Salomen ready to take a leap into the unknown? As Andira fights forces plotting against her, will she be able to save her political career and ensure her own happiness? The future of Alsea depends on it.

I loved seeing the development of Andira and Salomen’s relationship. It was never going to be easy forming a bond in the glare of publicity, but the couple were wading through the repercussions of the attack, with all of its implications. The importance of their bond became more evident as the story progressed – and what a story! This exciting and fast-paced adventure expanded on what we knew about Alsea, and into the inter-caste machinations and politicking of those in government. I am in awe of the world-building skills of Fletcher DeLancey. The more I find out about Alsea, the more I want to know. Each book in the series adds to the mythology and convinces me that someone has to pick up The Chronicles of Alsea and film it. And yes, I’ve already bought book 4! 

Review of ‘ Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge’ by Fletcher DeLancey

After discovering the Chronicles of Alsea Series by Fletcher DeLancey in ‘The Caphenon’ I started on Book 2 right away. It is in ‘Without A Front: The Producer’s Challenge’ that we get to see more of Alsean society and especially the life of Lancer Tal. In the aftermath of the battle with the Voloth, Alsea must heal, and it is up to Andira Tal to see that happens. But their society can never be the same again, and they must learn to live with the changes. When The Caphenon landed on Alsea it brought the realisation that life existed beyond Alsea. It also brought new technology, and it is this new tech that is causing ruptures within the castes. When a vocal young woman from the Producer caste challenges Lancer Tal to try out her way of life for a month, as a way of understanding the concerns, Andira rises to the challenge. Will her new experiences change her views? She ends up finding more than she bargained for, and life will never be quite the same again.

This story was a change of pace and more about the life of the Lancer. Many hard decisions had to be made and moral dilemmas faced. We find out more about the different castes and the love lives of the Alseans. It made for a powerfully emotional read. It was a warm story of family and love and responsibility. I enjoyed seeing a different side to Andira. Salomen was the perfect woman to challenge her and her views. Their interactions were thought-provoking. I loved it and as I turned the last page I felt compelled to go straight to Amazon and buy book 3 for my Kindle. Immediately. I couldn’t wait a single second to read the next part of this amazing series. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘A Pinch of Salt: A Towers of the Earth Novella’ by Nita Round

‘A Pinch of Salt: A Towers of the Earth Novella’ is a prequel to a new series by Nita Round. I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book, as this novella laid a great foundation and has me intrigued. Magda is a soldier and diplomat, but has felt the need to disguise herself as a man in order to participate in these roles in her society. Ascara, a soldier in training, is a determined and able woman who has had to fight against the prejudices of those around her. When the pair end up together in hospital, they begin a friendship that leads them in a quest to bring wrongdoers to justice. In a mission to find pirates and the gifted who attacked their friend, they find themselves discovering secrets and lies. Will they succeed? And who are these pirates and gifted individuals? It was quite an adventure finding out.

I must admit to loving a story where tech, unusual powers and a society built on the imagination of a great writer co-exist. This book has all of that. The world envisaged by Nita Round has a steampunk vibe, fantastic characters and the promise of a series that is going to have me completely hooked. This novella whetted my appetite for what is to come. I really enjoyed it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Penny on Parade’ by Penny Taylor and Gill McKnight

‘Penny On Parade’ is a biographical story of life in the British Army in the 1970. And it is excellent. Penny Taylor needs to get away from her home town of Darlington and a heartache that just won’t go away. Joining the army seems like the perfect way out and a way to start a new life. I really liked Penny. She was funny, a bit of a rebel and seeing the armed forces through her eyes was fascinating. Being a lesbian was a risky business and would lead to instant dismal if found out. Penny’s need to discover her true self led to situations that were dangerous for herself and those she was with. But the authors managed to balance the worry about discovery with a great deal of humour and insight. The stories of army life had me enthralled and I would love to find out what happened next to Penny. There’s another book or two in this tale.

I was given this ARC for review