Tag Archives: sci-fi

Review of The Kinsmen Universe, by Ilona Andrews

I borrowed a copy of Ilona AndrewsThe Kinsman Universe through Hoopla. I didn’t realize immediately that it was short stories/novellas. Or rather, I think I did in the past and that’s why I hadn’t read it. But I didn’t when I borrowed it the other day. I just thought, “Oh, an Ilona Andrews I haven’t read yet!” For a woman who keeps saying I don’t particularly enjoy short stories, I somehow have read three collections in a row. This one was only three stories though. So, I’ve only written a brief review to cover it.

Description from Goodreads:

Family is everything. Talent is power. And revenge is sweet.

In a distant, future world Kinsmen-small powerful groups of genetically and technologically advanced families-control vast financial empires. They are their own country, their own rulers, and their only limits are other Kinsmen. The struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport: in business, on the battlefield…and sometimes in the bedroom.


These were ok, but not up to the standard of many of Andrews’ other (longer) works. Silent Blade made me angry. I’m not particularly forgiving of heroes that substantively harm the heroine, even by accident. I thought Silver Shark the best—most developed—but A Mere Formality, as silly and ridiculous as it is was my favorite.

Review of Far From home, by Madeleine Urban

I borrowed a copy of Madeleine Urban‘s Far from Home through Hoopla, and I am so proud of myself for it. Here it is, Sept. 24th, and I’ve already read a book for every letter of the alphabet except X. My Author Alphabet Challenge is coming along so well this year! I usually find myself in the last week of December scrambling to find a book by an author starting with I, X and U. But not this year. It’s URBAN to the rescue.

Description from Goodreads:

A collection of three m/m sci-fi novellas by Madeleine Urban: Enhanced, Close Encounter, and Following the Sun.


Not bad, but not overwhelmingly wonderful either. While having a theme is nice, I did think the three stories were all a little too similar. Each involved two men in some life-threatening position meeting two other men and forming two perfect couples. I thought Close Encounter the weakest, enjoying Enhanced and Following the Sun better. But all of them were a little on the thin side, everything moving a little too fast and lacking in enough detail. (Part of why I don’t usually read short stories.) But I did enjoy the sci-fi settings and the writing is quite readable. So, again, not bad.

Review of Fierce Girls, by Mike Adams

Author, Mike Adams, sent me a copy of Fierce Girls.

Description from Goodreads:

“I love being a Marine but there are days…We may have a lot of the same problems in 2122 we did a hundred years ago but back then the Gul brothers weren’t paying lots to see my head on a spike! Not that I was born yet but that’s not the point! So I’m a pretty good shot and Rick is even better. Did I ask daddy Gul and his boys to go on a rampage? No, I didn’t! But now we have to leave the planet and go to the New Hope colony where the locals like to eat people!” –Staff Sergeant Susan ‘Molly’ Bennett, USMC

The story of the alien Rift invasion of the New Hope Colony begins on Earth in 2122 when all too familiar problems and events cause a chain reaction that will have repercussions on two worlds. Fleeing for their lives and to protect his family Navy, Lieutenant Paul “Rick” O’Brien and Marine Staff Sergeant Susan Mollison “Molly” Bennett will have to board a starship for the long voyage to Earth’s first extrasolar colony under new identities. There they will join the Colonial Rangers, the international military force designed to protect the colonists from the planet’s ferocious predators, not to deter an alien invasion.

The female-loving Logistics officer O’Brien and superb marksman and the courageous Marine recon squad leader form an unbreakable bond forged under fire that will serve them well as events unfold around them. The circumstances that send them to the New Hope Colony will also have a profound effect on the other members of the O’Brien/Cassidy family and especially Rick’s daughter Ciara as well as on the colony where they find refuge.


This was not a winner for me. The book is titled Fierce Girls, and there are a number of fierce girls in it. But if you asked me who the main character is, I’d tell you it is Rick O’Brien (the only male). He is the primary idea man, it’s his family the book centers on, and he’s the primary instigator of action. He‘s the main character of a book called Fierce Girls

And it’s not surprising. Because honestly, you can feel that this book is written by a man, despite the title. It’s in the aforementioned focus on the male. The way he’s affectionately referred to as a womanizer. The subtle gun worship (or at least shooter worship). The white knight syndrome as Rick saves all the women. The way he’s described as super respectful of women, but still laughs at sexist jokes. The way every mention of Molly (an accomplished Marine) includes how attractive she is, calling her “pretty Bennett” and usually includes mention of her clothing (or lack thereof). The way the book couldn’t get to the end without putting that pretty, self-sufficient woman in a position to possibly be raped. And the whole weird kumbayah, love fest all the women seem to engage in whenever they were all together. As a woman who has a mother, aunt, sister, female friends, nieces, and daughters (one of each Ciara’a age) very little of that felt realistic. It read like some uber stereotyped version of idealized womanhood.

But being written by a man wouldn’t be an indictment if the book didn’t simultaneously feel so much like author wish-fulfillment—Rick, after all, is the most handsome, smartest, bravest, most talented, most skilled, most sought after man in the universe—and have an incredibly unlikeable main character. Rick, after all, is the most handsome, smartest, bravest, most talented, most skilled, most sought after man in the universe and it makes him painfully smug and arrogant.

Then there is the actual writing. It’s mostly ok, but there were some irritants. Everyone talks with exclamation points, there are a ton of info dumps (usually in the form of dialogue that reads like a lecture), there’s too much telling as large chunks of time and events are glossed over, there’s some weird bolding and italicizing going on, it’s repetitive, and names/titles are used too frequently.

But worst of all, the plot is a very loose weave. For over half the book, I didn’t even think there was one. Eventually one kind of coalesced, but the book would have been significantly improved if the first half was a lot tighter and the last half had a point beyond “look how awesome Rick is.” Readers are introduced to a million characters, many of whom we don’t need to know, and some of whom go by as many as three names (before also changing their names in the latter half of the book). It confusing and, I hate to say it, boring.

I understand that this is the first in a long series (22 books to date). So, some leeway can be given for setting the ground for the rest of the series. But for me, I didn’t particularly enjoy this first one, so I’m not interested in 21 more.