Tag Archives: sci-fi romance

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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.
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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).

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Other Reviews:

Review: The First Starfighter – Grace Goodwin

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Book Review: Eclipsed Heart, by K. Margaret & Dagmar Avery

There is a new Indie Book Store/cafe, called Spine, not too far from my house that I’m super excited about. I stopped in, had a cortado, and bought some books recently. Eclipsed Heart, by K. Margaret and Dagmar Avery is the first of two books I bought.
eclipsed Heart cover
The Apocalypse is coming. The Brotherhood has watched and protected this world from the oncoming darkness for as long as time has existed. Each age brings a new threat, a new way for the darkness to eclipse the light forever. It has been over five hundred years since the last major trials, and the world is due.

Isaac Tsagakis dreams of the end, and the woman he must find. Beautiful and perfect, she is the first of four that is needed to ensure the world does not end, and humanity isn’t thrust into the depths of an unimaginable hell. But finding her in a city as large as Savannah, Georgia is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack. He needs to find her, bond with her and keep her for always. And he is ready.

Magnolia Morgan has no idea just how special she is. A librarian obsessed with the ancient world, she stumbles onto her wildest dreams just talking to Isaac one night. A man she would never consider talking to her, she is enraptured and excited that for once, her normal dull existence is going to be shaken up by the sexy bar owner who kisses like the devil. But other forces are at work against the Brotherhood, forces that have been working in the shadows, watching, planning…and they want Maggie as well. Isaac is going to have to rely on all his strength and experience to ensure she becomes his for all time because the fate of the world is in her hands.

my review

In a lot of ways this book is fine. The writing is fine. The sexy times are fine. The world and the plot are shallow, but fine. The editing is a little dodge, but mostly fine. The book is mostly fine. I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy it.

The problem is that it is like someone said to me, “Hey, go ahead and make a list of ALL your most hated cliches and tropes and we’ll just put them ALL in a single book for you.” Man, this story and the characterizations in it hit just about all of my least favorite things to find in a book, especially a romance.

But what really clinched it for me was two things. One, Isaac goes about bonding Maggie (and all the men knew he was doing so), but at no time is Maggie made aware of this. Which I considered problematic. Consent is a thing, ya’ll! And, two, all the men—the MC and the side characters who will be the MCs of future books—were complete douche bags, especially in the way they thought and talked about women. It’s kinda hard to invest yourself in a romance with men you literally find yourself wrinkling your nose and sneering at. And that’s before we even get into all of the gross gay, “lady boy,” and sexist jokes. Take the worst locker room, dude-bro banter and multiply it a few times.  No, I did not appreciate these MCs at all. And I have no desire to spend any more time with them.

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Other reviews:

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Book Review: Winter’s Orbit, by Everina Maxwell

I borrowed an audio copy of Everina Maxwell‘s Winter’s Orbit through my local library. It was narrated by Raphael Corkhill.

Winter's Orbit Everina maxwell

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

my review

I borrowed an audio copy of this book in order to have something to listen to as I folded laundry and such. Then, I spent about a day and a half finding other chores to do, so that I could keep listening. This is both the curse and the blessing of a good audiobook.

I very much enjoyed this—the story, writing, and the narration. The story kept me engaged, the romance was worth rooting for, the writing was crisp and easy to follow (with some pointed humor in it), and the narrator did a good job. Though he (the narrator, Raphael Corkhill) did start audibly swallowing about half way through and that irritated me a little.

I thought both Kiem and Jainan were marvelous character and the difficulty of both of their situations came across well. I did think their continued misunderstanding of one another went on too long and it became notably artificial. But it did make the resolution feel like a payoff for putting up with it. I liked the side characters and the world in general. So, all in all, I’d call this a winner and I’ll be back for more of Maxwell’s writing in the future.

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Other Reviews:

Winter’s Orbit – LGBT Book Review