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Book Review: Annihilation Aria, by Michael R. Underwood

I borrowed a copy of Annihilation Aria (by Michael R. Underwood) from the local library.

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An exuberant space opera that dares us to lose ourselves in battle songs and nonstop action!

A woman who can wield a weapon like a song and her voice like a weapon. A man who can out-think any problem. A pilot who can outmaneuver the best of them. Lahra, Max, and Wheel live and work aboard the Kettle, salvaging artifacts from dangerous galactic ruins to keep scraping by.

But those artifacts can unlock an ancient power which threatens the iron-fisted rule of the galaxy’s imperialist overlords, the Vsenk. To protect their dominion, the Vsenk have humbled entire civilizations. They eat ships like the Kettle and her found family for breakfast.

Lahra, Max, and Wheel are each just trying to get home to the lives they lost, but they’ll have to evade space fascists, kick-start a rebellion, and save the galaxy first to do it.

Board the Kettle for a space opera like none you’ve ever read before; an adventure of galactic subterfuge, ancient alien lore, a secret resistance force, lost civilizations, and giant space turtles.

This is a little rambly, but I have scattered thoughts.

I enjoyed this a lot. I did think the pacing a little inconsistent—it dragged in the middle—and it felt a little like a second book sometimes, because of how much history was referenced between the characters. But overall, I loved spending time with the characters, enjoyed that the two main characters were married and seriously in love (no need to be a romance if the relationship is already established), appreciated the diversity in the alien species, thought there was a ton of witty humor, and several moral quandaries that invited deeper thought.

I also got a personal little amusement after I spent the whole book thinking, “Wow, this has a real Stargate feel to it” (along with anything and everything like Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider,—we had a lara/Lahra after all—Farscape, Star Wars, Firefly, etc, but mostly Stargate)—with the archeologist stepping through a gate and getting lost in space—and then realizing Max was referred to as ‘son of Danielle.’ Close enough to Daniel for me to call it a tribute, right? I’m running with it. It made me happy.

Lastly, as an aside, I recently read several books that I found recommended in a Fantasy Readers’ Forum in which the OP asked for books in which martial women protect nerdier guys. (Totally my jam too, BTW.) Well, this may be Sci-Fi, but it fits the OP’s request better than just about any of the books I saw recommended. (Except maybe His Secret Illuminations). So, if that’s your thing too, pick this book up.

All in all, I don’t know if a second book is planned, but I’d be happy to read it (or more of Underwood’s work) if one is.

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Garik16: Review Annihilation Aria

Review: Annihilation Aria by Michael R. Underwood

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Book Review: A Terrible Fall of Angels, by Laurell K. Hamilton

I borrowed a copy of Laurell K. Hamilton‘s A Terrible Fall of Angels from the local library.

a terrible fall of angels

Meet Detective Zaniel Havelock, a man with the special ability to communicate directly with angels. A former trained Angel speaker, he devoted his life to serving both the celestial beings and his fellow humans with his gift, but a terrible betrayal compelled him to leave that life behind. Now he’s a cop who is still working on the side of angels. But where there are angels, there are also demons. There’s no question that there’s evil at work when he’s called in to examine the murder scene of a college student—but is it just the evil that one human being can do to another, or is it something more? When demonic possession is a possibility, even angelic protection can only go so far. The race is on to stop a killer before he finds his next victim, as Zaniel is forced to confront his own very personal demons, and the past he never truly left behind.

my review

I am one of the many readers who adored the Anita Blake series until I didn’t. As a result, I avoided Laurell K. Hamilton books for quite a while. But I saw this one at the library and the synopsis intrigued me. Since borrowing a book from the library requires very little actual commitment, I gave it a go.

Long story short, I really liked this. I did think it dragged in the middle (really more like 2/3 through), with quite a few info drops. But I also realize it’s a first book in a series that needs to do some extra work in world-building. I adored Zaniel and appreciated that the ‘romance’ (if you want to call it that) was him trying to fix a broken marriage. Pretty much all the cops made me laugh and I’m interested in learning more about the College of Angels and the people Zaniel left behind.

I also liked that Hamilton legitimized basically all religions. There were gods, angels, spirit guides, spirit animals, messengers, and more. True, Angels were give prominence in the story, but I didn’t feel that was Hamilton prioritizing one religion over another. If the story (or any future one) was from different characters’ POVs different deities could be the prominent ones. Plus, the cast was as diverse as the pantheons.

All in all, a win for me. I’ll be looking for book two.

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Review: A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton

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Book Review: One Poison Pie, by Lynn Cahoon

I borrowed a copy of Lynn Cahoon‘s One Poison Pie from the local library.

one poison pie lynn cahoon

What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high. Even when her ex’s little sister, Christina, arrives looking for a place to stay, Mia takes it in stride.

But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. Mia’s shocked to learn that she’s a suspect—and even more so when she realizes she’s next on a killer’s list. With Christina, along with Mia’s meddling grandma, in the mix, she’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end. . .

my review

I think this has a really fun cover and the story is really sweet. But I was super disappointed by how little magic is actually in it (practically none), the romance is basically instant relationship (so no satisfying getting to know one another or romantic tension AT ALL), and turns out you really need to have read the prequel that I didn’t even know existed when I picked the book up at the library. Ok, you don’t need to. I was able to follow the plot, but there was a lot I felt I was missing, having not read it, and that always effects my enjoyment of a book. (I strongly feel book one of a series is where you should be able to pick up a series, without feeling like you’re missing anything. If you can’t the numbering needs to be changed, IMO.) But the writing is clear and editing clean. I’d read another Cahoon book.

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