Tag Archives: romantic sci-fi

the first starfighter banner

Book Review: The First Starfighter, by Grace Goodwin

I borrowed an audio copy of Grace Goodwin‘s The First Starfighter though Hoopla. It was narrated by Tor Thom and Avery Reid.
audio the first star fighter

Starfighter Training Academy. It was just a game. The newest, hottest video game release of the year. Choose a role. Build the perfect hero who joins you on missions to save the Vega star system from the evil Queen Raya and her merciless Dark Fleet.

Play for hours? Check.
Obsess over the in-game romance between your avatar and the sexiest alien you’ve ever seen? Check.
Win? Beat the heck out of the game? Check and check.

Open your door at 3:00 in the morning to find that smoking hot alien you thought you made up in your head standing there? Um… okay.

Wake up on the other side of the galaxy with that same alien insisting you’re his… and that you haven’t been playing a video game, but completed the training program to become the first Starfighter from Earth?

Holy sh*t.

my review
I needed to do some tedious and fairly mindless tasks over on my Sadie’s Spotlight blog—cut/paste and checking links are live sort of stuff that I could easily do while listening to an audiobook. So, I decided to listen to a book that had been featured on the blog. That’s how I ended up listening to The First Starfighter.

Now, you have to understand that I sometime really like to lean into cheesy sci-fi romances (or romantic sci-fi, since the romance is more the point than the sci-fi). I enjoy the cheese. That’s part of why I read books like The First Starfighter. I’d never pretend to be surprised that sci-fi romances are sometimes cheesy. But there is a fairly thin line between laugh-with-the author cheese and cringe cheese and this book crosses that line about half the time. Which makes it about a half success for me.

The mechanical writing seemed fine, as far as I could tell in an audio version, and I liked the characters well enough. But Goodwin just rushed things a bit too much—the plot is very, very thin, even by romantic sci-fi standards—and tried to take the ridiculous plot too seriously, which took it from laugh-with-the-author to cringe-worthy.

But a half-success is better than no success at all and I think I’d be willing to give another of her books a try (which is good because I own several of them).

the first starfighter photo


Other Reviews:

Review: The First Starfighter – Grace Goodwin

the moreva of Astoreth banner

Book Review: The Moreva of Astoreth, by Roxanne Bland

I first came across The Moreva of Astoreth (The Peris Archives Book 1), by Roxanne Bland, because it featured on Sadie’s Spotlight. When I later saw it available on Netgalley, I decided to give it a read and requested a copy.

In the service of the Goddess…

Moreva Tehi, gifted scientist and the spoiled, stubborn and headstrong granddaughter of Astoreth, the Devi Goddess of Love, deliberately misses Ohra-Namtar, the compulsory and holiest rite of the Great Pantheon of Gods.

For her sin, Astoreth banishes her for a year from her beloved urban desert home to tend Her spaceship landing beacon in the northern reaches of the Syren territory, a cold, dark, and wild place whose inhabitants are as untamed as the territory in which they live.

As the spiritual leader and commander of the military garrison stationed there, Tehi must stay one step ahead of the cunning machinations of her second in command. But there is one who poses an even greater threat to her future—one who will lead her into the dangerous realm of forbidden love, setting them both on a course that can only lead to damnation and death.

I really wanted to like this book. If anyone has been paying attention to the sci-fi romance genre over the last few years, there are an awful lot of hulking, male, blue aliens. (I even wrote a whole blog post about it once.) It was notable to see the blue alien as the female for a change. Plus, I could see that the author was trying hard to subvert some literary tropes and social norms that I love seeing subverted. Unfortunately, I don’t think she was wholly successful. Here’s an example.

The main character is a priestess and her vestments are what many today would consider the clothing of prostitutes (tight, short dresses, corsets, garters, high heels and a riding crop). One of the regular religious ceremonies is an orgy. This could have been written to empower women in both their clothing choice and their sexuality. I think it maybe was even supposed to. Unfortunately, Bland then created a main character who hated the rite, showing her to panic and try and fight her way out of her obligated orgies. Thereby undermining any empowerment she may have created and reducing the character again to a woman performing unwanted sexual acts, i.e. The Whore.

As a side note: no reason is given for this particular choice of religious uniform (other than that the goddess liked it) and, since there are both male and female Moreva, I couldn’t help but wonder if the male Moreva also wore corsets, short/tight dresses, garters, and high heals and were the epicenter of 20+ person orgies. It’s never discussed, but I rather hope so.

My main complaint however is that there is barely a story here. We’re told the main character is horribly bigoted. The plot is supposed to hinge on it.  But we never see it. In fact, she befriends one of the people she’s supposedly so bigoted against almost immediately and treats him as an equal, submitting herself to his instruction and offering her assistance from almost the moment they meet. I never felt her bigotry, but I was told about it regularly. Similarly, the reader is subjected to several context-less dream sequences in which she symbolically fights said bigotry, but we never see her making real world changes to her behavior (as it never appeared bigoted to start with). And lastly, the romance comes out of no where. The reader is told about it, but I didn’t feel it develop even a little bit. There’s a predictable twist at the end and then it all wraps up almost miraculously.

All in all, I felt that despite good intentions and even an interesting idea for a world, the whole thing just never developed into anything I enjoyed spending time with. I was honestly bored most of the times. The writing is perfectly readable though, and I had no issue with the editing (even though I read an ARC). I think I’d be willing to give a Bland book another chance. She can obviously write, but this particular book wasn’t a winner for me.

the moreva of astroreth

 

alien captive banner

Book Review of Alien Captive, by Lee Savino & Golden Angel

I picked up a copy of Lee Savino and Golden Angel’s Alien Captive from Amazon, I think on a free day.

Who knew reading sexy alien abduction stories could get a girl into trouble?

Or that an e-reader could also be the gateway to another galaxy? I definitely didn’t… but here I am anyway, mated to the Tsenturion High Commander just like the unwilling human heroines in my favorite sci-fi romances.

The Commander demands obedience. He intends to claim me, train me, and turn me into his perfect little pleasure trophy.

He doesn’t believe in love. I don’t believe in giving in without a fight.

There’s no amount of discipline or ecstasy that could break me to his will… I hope.

Alien Captive is a hot alien abduction romance, starring one feisty human and the Tsenturion Warrior strong enough to master her.

Utterly ridiculous, but not taking itself too seriously either. Meta enough to make it interesting, as Dawn is well aware that her predicament is predicated on her favorite fictional erotic books (which are just like this one), but that fantasies aren’t necessarily what one wants in reality.

Unfortunately, the book lacks in connection. Several of the important conversations that need to be had either aren’t had or are had with the wrong person. Essentially, Dawn and Gavrill may speak to others, but when together they’re entirely inside their own heads. They don’t have conversations, they just fuck. I couldn’t feel their love grow in the slightest. Further, all that sex got boring. It’s not just that there’s so much of it (I would expect that in an erotic novel). It’s that it’s all basically the same and eventually it felt redundant. Lastly, Dawn’s ‘misunderstanding’ felt forced and artificial. It’s been done better a thousand times before.

The writing is pretty sound though. And I feel like the authors tried to grapple with the fact that the ‘brides’ will be enslaved, even if that word isn’t ever used The reader is supposed to understand they love their situations. I never could quite make the leap, personally. I also thought some of the BDSM tropes felt shoehorned into the plot, honestly.

All in all, not great. But not a horrible version of what it is either.