Tag Archives: Mars Needs Women

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Book Review: Alien Abduction for Beginners, by Skye MacKinnon

I had a couple hours worth of mindless, repetitive type tasks ahead of me. So, I sought out a short audiobook to get me through. Which is how I ended up borrowing Alien Abduction for Beginners, by Skye MacKinnon through Hoopla.
alien abduction for beginners

Not all aliens are good at abducting humans.

Havel, Matar and Xil have failed too many times to count. Luckily, there’s help available for failed kidnappers: a diploma offered by the Intergalactic University. To complete their course, these three sexy aliens need to abduct a human female – and they’re graded on it.

The problem is, the human female has no intentions of being abducted, not even to help them get the universe’s most recognised abduction qualification.

my review

I picked this up knowing it was going to be a silly, sexy space romp and I was cool with that idea. I wasn’t looking for anything more.

But it pretty much fails. It has too much plot to be erotica and, frankly, not enough sex. But there isn’t enough plot to be called a romance, even an erotic romance. The comedy aspect is almost entirely of the cultural misunderstanding sort and falls much closer to stupid than endearing. And while I liked the males, I couldn’t really tell them apart most of the time.

Plus, I disliked Jake Bordeaux’s narration. It was stiff and gave me a vague sense that he was making fun of the story even as he narrated it. Bridget Bordeaux did a better job with the female characters. But much less of the book is from a female perspective. All in all, it got me through my chores, but that’s about it.

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Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Beautiful Thing, Beautiful Lies, Beautiful Agony, by Ever Nightly

I am kind of enamored with the whole idea of blue aliens. I mean, why blue? I even wrote a whole blog post about it once. Plus, I truly enjoy cheesy sci-fi sometimes. No shade. So, I picked up the first book in this series Beautiful Thing (by Ever Nightly) as a freebie, just for the fun of it. Then I bought the Beautiful Lies and Beautiful Agony. I wrote each of the following reviews as I finished each book. You can kind of track my disillusionment.


beautiful thing cover

About the book:

Just out of college, I’m recruited for a top-secret linguistics job. Easy, right? Translate for a few foreign prisoners and I’m home free. But when I arrive at Area 51, I’m swept into a world of secrets and lies. And the prisoner? Yeah, he’s not even human. His name is Specimen-One and he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. But he’s an alien, so not exactly boyfriend material. I’m not sure he agrees, though. He wants something, and I have a sinking feeling that something is me…

My review:

You know, sometimes you dive into a book knowing it’s gonna be all sorts of bonkers. But you do it anyway because you want a little bit of silly fun. That was me and Beautiful thing. I knew the story wouldn’t be deep, the plot complex, or the events believable. But I figured it be a fun Sci-Fi romp. And I was right.

Ava enters what is supposed to be a high security military facility, but it’s run with a laissez faire I’d be surprised to find in the academic back halls of a community college. Which means ridiculous things are allowed to happen that no serious reader would believe. It’s also very clear what they want and why Ava is there, but she’s somehow oblivious to it. Which would be impossible to believe it I was meant to take it seriously. The romance is of the insta sort. But none of it takes itself too seriously. So, the reader isn’t expected to either. Which is why it’s fun.

beautiful thing photoThere were some formatting inconsistencies that pulled me out of the story on occasion. For example, sometimes Specimen One was referred to as S1 and sometimes as S-1. Sometimes telepathic communications were italicized, sometimes they’re weren’t. Which meant I had to stop and figure out from context what I was reading—that sort of thing. It could have easily been cleaned up. It is also a cliffie of the sort so common these days. It ends in the middle of dramatic scene. I know it’s not just this book or author. It’s basically the industry standard now. But I cannot emphasis how tired I am of books that don’t end, just stop. *sigh* But I have book two. So, I’ll continue.


beautiful lies coverAbout the Book:

I’ve been kidnapped, and I’m completely alone. Area 51 has been destroyed, and S1 is gone. I’m left to sift through the pieces of what happened, and figure out how I’m going to survive. But as I dig deeper into the government’s secrets, one thing becomes abundantly clear…

Nothing is what it seems.

My Review:

Meh, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as book one. It’s very much a middle book. Ava and S1 spend basically no time together. Ava just reacts to whatever is presented to her, with no particular agency of her own. It ends abruptly and, since this book is only 136 pages long and the next 156, there is literally no reason it’s broken in two, making this a trilogy instead of (at most) a duology. I don’t just mean beautiful lies photobecause the number of pages make it possible, but also because this book feels really incomplete. It feels like half a book.

I don’t mind paying for books, obviously. But I do resent having to go back and buy a second book when the previous one feels so lacking in substance and completion. Like, just make it one book and price it accordingly. Otherwise, I feel like I’m paying for two half books. And I resent the hell out of that, even if the cost is the same in the end. Just saying.


beautiful agony coverAbout the Book:

To say the entire universe is against us is an understatement.

The government is hunting us, and I’m learning things about myself that are truly terrifying. In the last few weeks, my whole world has been thrown into chaos, and I’m not sure of anything anymore. Danger stalks my every step, and I’m not sure whom I can trust. S1 has secrets of his own. Secrets that could threaten everything we’ve built together…

It’s ironic, isn’t it?
S1’s love saved me, but it might just destroy me in the end.

My review:

*Sigh.* So, while I enjoyed the silly-fun of book one, and accepted that book two might not have the same spark, being the second/middle book. I expected the series to redeem itself, here in its conclusion—book three. It did not. The series started fun because it didn’t take itself too seriously, so the reader was free to laugh with it. It loses that freedom here at the end. It takes itself seriously and asks the reader to do the same. But it’s still silly Sci-Fi romance. (That’s not a dig, I love silly Sci-Fi romance). It doesn’t have the depth of plot, development of characters, or basic cachet to truly be taken seriously. So, it feels like a kid playing dress up.

But where the book (and series) really fails is in S1. I accept that his character wouldn’t develop much in book one. But then he’s basically not in book two. And in book three—where the author really should have given his character some character—she just doesn’t. He and Ava have one brief conversation. The rest is just sex and running around. So, by the end of the THIRD BOOK I still know essentially nothing about him…neither does Ava. So, what is their great, intergalactic love supposed to be based on? I don’t know. I still don’t know THREE BOOK IN.

beautiful agony photoThere are also plotting inconsistencies. Ava kills a man, for example, and it’s said that she’s in shock because she’d never taken a life before. I just went (out loud, I might add), “You shot a man in the throat—dead—in book two!”

The result of all of this is that the series finished with a pathetic whimper. The series lost it’s ‘don’t take me too seriously’ fun, but didn’t replace it with anything of any substance. Doesn’t give the reader a romance they can sink their teeth in. Doesn’t unfurl a plot that keeps us invested. Doesn’t create characters you know well enough to love. It’s all just sort of meh.


Other Reviews:

Scary Mary the Hamster Lady – Book Review: Beautiful Thing, by Ever Nightly

 

 

 

Book Review of A Bride For The Alien King & The Alien Protector’s Mate, by Roxie Ray

I received Audible codes for copies of Roxie Ray‘s A Bride for the Alien King and The Alien Protector’s Mate, both narrated bu Megan Evans.

Description from Goodreads:

A fated mate is a rare gem … one I never thought I’d find.

With fifteen males born to a single female, women are my people’s most precious resource, one we’re in dire need of replenishing. And Earth is just the place to do it. Arranged matings are the only way we can survive, and as king I must set an example.

But I never thought I’d meet her.

One look at Rosa and I know she’s meant to be my queen. She’s nothing like I imagined, and more than I could ever dare wish for. But humans have only just learned that aliens exist, and I would surrender my kingdom before I forced her into a relationship she doesn’t want.

Time grows short as ancient enemies close in on my home planet, and if we don’t transport our volunteer mates quickly we will run out of time.

Review:

This was tolerable. It felt pretty formulaic though. Even worse, it very much felt like the heroine’s thought process went like this:

“This is horrible. This is taking advantage of the poor. This is human trafficking”
“I’m a king. You’d be queen.”
“Oh, sign me up.”

There was legitimately exactly that much interaction between her meeting the alien and changing her tune and flouncing off to an alien world. Much of the rest of the book was like that too. Ray hit the expected plot points but didn’t seem to put any real effort into letting it develop naturally. There was very little consistency in the technological level of the alien species. There was a distinct lack of other (non-servant) woman in the book. Even if they are born only 1-15, they should exist. And apparently, despite ostensibly being warriors and running a kingdom, the aliens have no concept of security. They let themselves be outplayed, tricked, beaten, and invaded far too many times to be believable. (See the statement above about needing to kit the expected plot point.)

All in all, not a winner for me. But the writing itself seems fine and the narrator did a fine job.

On a side note, what the hell is that cover? Beyond just being horrible in general, if you’re going to put characters on a cover, at least make an effort to make them look right. He is described as olive-toned, with scales and no horns. She’s a brunette.


Description from Goodreads:

My planet needs women, and I’m here to claim one.

Time is running out for my people, and we don’t have a moment to waste. Earthlings agreed to the bride program, but now they don’t want to follow through. It’s my job to make sure that they do.

I have no time to fall in love. After so long on my own, I wouldn’t even recognize the emotion. But the beautiful and wickedly smart human Vivian awakens something within me, a desire so strong I find myself at war with my duty. I know once she discovers the darkness within me she’ll run. I should push her away before we’re both broken.

And yet, I cannot let her go.

I owe my loyalty to my king, but if I’m forced to choose between my mate and my duty it may destroy us all.

Review:

After reading book one, I was wary about this second one. Turns out I liked it more than book one. I liked the characters and the story didn’t get quite as ridiculous. For the most part, the narrator did a fine job and the writing is pretty good. Though the dialogue gets hella formal, uncomfortable, and unnatural once they reach the alien homeworld.

But I find that almost all of my complaints about book one stand true for this one too. I’ll start with the simplest. Why does the publisher keep putting horns on the heroes on the cover? There is no mention of the Svantes having horns. This irritates me so much. It’s like the publishers are going out of their way to get it wrong. Those horns had to be added (though I realize this was probably a pre-made cover).

Next, one of the Svante’s most prominent characteristics is supposed to be that they are great warriors. But they show themselves to be incompetent again and again. It’s just not believable. Part of this might stem from the fact that Ray seems to refuse to populate the books with anyone except the few named characters. They seem to do everything and there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the background. So, the queen has two guards and no more. The same two Svantes that are on the ship with the main character are also the communication specialists on the planet. It’s like the whole castle has a population of maybe 10.

Similarly, there are far too few non-mate (or non-named) female characters, even on earth. Where we should at least see women (passing on the street, as a soldier, as a co-worker, etc) we just never do. I feel this so much. We’re erased from the universe. I think this partly has to do with what I said above about Ray not including extra people to populate the background of the book. All we’re left with are the characters who are given explicit purpose in the book—the named characters and a few ‘guards.’ It’s not that there are no actual women, it’s that there are no women that don’t serve a given and obvious purpose to the plot. It leaves the impression that the whole rest of the world is male except those few exceptions.

Lastly, a lot of this plot hinges on contrived angst and misunderstanding. But one of them can read minds. I don’t care how noble the idea of not intruding on her privacy is. As insecure and in need of reassurance as the hero was there isn’t a chance in hell he wouldn’t peak in her mind. It’s like the author just forgot this aspect of his character entirely for 95% of the book.

All in all, as I said, I liked it better than book one. But I’m unconvinced that I’d want to listen to the next one.