Tag Archives: Romance

A Review of A Creak in the Night

Book cover for A Creak In The Night by by BL Maxwell. image on the cover shows a ghostly white mist floating through the dusty hall of an old house. The floors are made of pretty little tiles and there is a skylight in the ceiling. The mist looks like it is beginning to coagulate into a ghostly-shape, but it is still pretty formless and ethereal at the moment. Title: A Creak in the Night (Valley Ghosts Series)

Author: B.L. Maxwell

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: April 29, 2024

Genres: Paranormal, LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary

Length: 41 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Dean surprises Jimbo with a weekend way to the exotic location of—Virginia. Since the two of them got married Dean has become more curious about the paranormal, while Jimbo prefers to distance himself from it. As soon as they arrive at the hotel Jimbo knows something isn’t quite right, and one ride in the elevator confirms it. What was supposed to be a romantic vacation soon turns into a ghost hunting mission, but this time Jimbo and Dean are on their own without the rest of the Running Scared Paranormal Research guys. Dean is thrilled, but Jimbo knows, it’s never as simple as a creaky elevator.

Review:

Content Warning: Characters getting stuck in an elevator.

It’s hard to find time for romance when ghosts are getting into mischief.

One of the interesting things about this short story was that I was never quite sure where it fit into the rest of this series. It gave me the impression that it was written a decent amount of time after the first book as it discussed some characters and events without going into them in great detail. On the other hand, this also felt a little too lighthearted to have taken place in the most serious phases of a series when tensions are running high. I enjoyed my attempt to figure out where this should be placed and didn’t mind one bit that it was never made clear. To the best of my knowledge, this was written to be an easy introduction to these characters and the exciting sorts of adventures they have while trying to clear disruptive spirits from all sorts of different buildings. There is definitely something to be said for releasing such a tale!

The communication between Dean and Jimbo was inconsistent. In some scenes, they wordlessly anticipated what each other needed before being asked, but there was also a moment when Dean purposefully withheld an important piece of information about this romantic trip from Jimbo. Obviously, there are times in just about any relationship when one might not communicate as clearly as they should for a wide variety of reasons, but I was still surprised by this oversight and didn’t think it fit in very well with what I’d learned about Dean’s meticulous and safety-conscious personality thus far.

I thought the paranormal storyline was handled nicely, especially given how short this piece was. Not every haunting needs a drawn-out  conclusion, so keeping things moving was a good choice for both the plot and the characters. It whetted my appetite for more and reminded me that, just like in life, it’s best not to assume in advance how easy or difficult something will be. Worrying doesn’t do any good, and just because one haunting was a tough case doesn’t mean that the next spirit will behave the same way.

A Creak in the Night was intriguing and made me curious to check out the rest of the Valley Ghosts adventures.

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A Review of The Fall Of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War Of The Worlds

Book cover for The Fall Of Denver - A Tribute Story to the Original War Of The Worlds By H.G. Wells’ by Richard Paolinelli. Image on cover shows a drawing of one of the many-legged alien ships from War of the Worlds crouching over a farmhouse. It is trying to suck up the people living there into its bulbous head. The farmhouse is in a western setting. There are a few tumbleweeds and hardy desert plants growing, but no grass, trees, or animals to be seen. The scene is dusty, dark yellow, and looks ominous, even the otherwise soft and gentle mountains in the far distance. Title: The Fall of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Author: Richard Paolinelli

Publisher: Tuscany Bay Books

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Historical

Length: 44 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

The Fall of Denver takes place simultaneously with the events unfolding in England during Wells’, War of the Worlds. Doubtless, even as England was being invaded, so were all the other countries around the globe.In this story we will find out how the invasion of the United States plays out in general, and how it affects the men, and their families, stationed at a U.S. Army Fort near Denver, Colorado. For Major Daniel Wayne, an arrow in his knee has ended his career in the U.S. Army. Shortly after he arrives at Fort Logan outside of Denver, Colorado to hand in his retirement papers, word is received of an extra-worldly invasion of England. Before he and the Fort’s commander can begin to process this information, the first Martian cylinder lands to the east of Denver. Wayne is entrusted with the safety of the civilians at the Fort and in the surrounding area, taking them to the safety of the nearby Front Range even as the battle to defend Denver rages behind them. Wayne must keep the trust of his fellow officers to keep their familes safe, and confronts the ghosts of his own past, even as he longs to join the battle.

Review:

Content Warning: Death, disability, and a partial recovery from a painful knee injury. I will be discussing the last two in this post.

Women, children, and people with disabilities must stick together if they’re going to survive this war with aliens.

Some of the most interesting scenes in my opinion were the ones that explored Major Daniel Wayne’s career-threatening knee injury and how he dealt with the relentless pain and mobility issues that resulted from it. Living with any disability isn’t easy, especially at this point in history when there was less social support for people with disabilities and few if any accommodations for someone who found walking to be a struggle, much less anything more vigorous than that.  Regardless of whether you have personal experience with this topic or not, there’s something interesting to mull on here for everyone.

I would have preferred to see more attention paid to the romantic subplot of this tale. Because it happened quickly and under such intense circumstances,  I needed additional details about why the characters involved in it decided to pursue such things with each other while everything around them was falling apart. In no way was I opposed to these two individuals ending up together. They seemed like a great match, in fact. There was simply a lot of space here to expand the scenes that showed their blossoming romance.

With that being said, this was still a wonderful addition to this universe that I was thrilled to read. Learning about the alien attack from a different point of view showed me just how slowly information spread back then and how much folks had to rely on their own common sense and various life skills in order to survive when the military was being overrun and the federal goverment so far away that it could provide no realistic support for ordinary citizens at this time.

If you’re not already familiar with War of the Worlds, I’d recommend reading it before diving into this expansion of that universe.

The Fall of Denver – A Tribute Story to the Original War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells made me smile.

 

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A Review of Neuro Noir

Book cover for Neuro Noir by Al Hess. Image on cover shows a drawing of about a dozen different eyes that all have black irises and sclera. the one in the centre is red instead!

Title: Neuro Noir

Author: Al Hess

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 1, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery, Romance, LGBTQ+

Length: 42 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Prominent council member. Omniscient custodian of City Entry. Mystery book aficionado. As the oldest A.I. Steward existing within the network of Salt Lake City, Lysander has seen most everything.

When a death in the overcrowded and chaotic subway leaves fellow Steward Beatrice distraught and imploring Lysander to find a way to lessen the odds of it happening again, he’s happy to do what he does best: advise, console, and achieve solutions. But doing so means working with the human council member he absolutely, most assuredly does not have feelings for – no matter how perceptive and charming said council member is. And something about the issue in the subway is giving Lysander the itchy sort of dread he gets when reading his mysteries.

But Lysander’s life isn’t an impartial story plucked from his “to read” pile. As he closes in on the source of Beatrice’s problems, he realizes the situation is far more personal than he’s prepared for. If he isn’t careful, even the wisest and most experienced of Salt Lake’s Stewards will miss the clues, putting himself – and those he cares for – in danger.

This is a 10k word prequel novelette to the queer and cozy wasteland road trip romance, World Running Down.

Review:

Content Warning: mild profanity, threats of violence, and death

Customer service is the most important part of the job…even if you’re not exactly human.

To be perfectly honest, it took me a little while to figure Lysander out because of how different some of his thought processes were from the humans he protected on public transit and at certain entrances and exits every day. This was an excellent thing, though, because of course artificial intelligence wouldn’t react to certain stimuli like we would! Once I figured out why he was more bothered by stuff that many humans would ignore, his thoughts about his role as a Steward became much clearer to me. The process of sorting out his ideas was a rewarding one, and it endeared me to him. On a more personal note, I also enjoyed his reactions to the customer service elements of his position, especially when dealing with people who were not always necessarily kind or rational when dealing with him.

The romance was handled beautifully, and that’s something I’m saying as someone who doesn’t spend much time in that genre. I loved the way this storyline was slowly allowed to build up before it began playing a larger role in the plot. It suited the characters involved in it nicely and gave me plenty of time to understand why they were interested in each other and why they might make a good match.

I was also thrilled with the world building. Obviously, a short story isn’t going to have as much time for this as a full-length novel would, but the author did an excellent job making use of all forty-two pages to show what a city protected, maintained, and even run  to a certain extent by artificial intelligence might look like behind the scenes. It made me curious to see what World Running Down might be like, so the author did a great job of giving this reader a taste of his world here.

Neuro Noir was a wild ride that made me wish it wouldn’t end.

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Graveyard Romance: A Review of The Ghost and the Real Girl

Book cover for The Ghost and the Real Girl by Avery Carter. Image on cover shows a black and white drawing of the profile of a woman’s face. Her hair has been piled on top of her head in a Victorian-style puffy bun, and she has a scarf with a few sprigs of flowers tired around her neck. There is also an oval border around this drawing that has roses, vines, and leaves sprouting around it. Title: The Ghost and the Real Girl

Author: Avery Carter

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: October 31, 2022

Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+, Romance, Historical

Length: 124 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

“There was never a good night to rob a grave, but the night of a full moon was certainly the worst…”

When Sera is hired to rob a 200 year old grave, the last thing she expects is the ghost of Lady Clementine de Quill rising up to scold her for it. Though her world is full of magical echoes from a not-so-distant past, a ghost is completely unheard of. What’s more, no one else can see or hear Clem. Sera tries everything to get rid of her– selling the items she took from her grave, bathing in saltwater, even putting herself through a religious smoke cleansing from the Church of the Wheel. Nothing works, and Sera finally resigns herself to having a ghost follow her around for the rest of her life.

Despite their differences, a partnership begins to bloom between the streetwise gravedigger and the cultured noblewoman. Just as they realize that maybe they aren’t so different after all, Clem starts to fade, flickering in and out for longer and longer stretches of time. Sera begins to realize that with each time Clem vanishes, there’s a chance that she won’t come back. There’s only one problem: she can’t imagine life without her anymore.

Review:

Who says cemeteries have to be scary places?

The romantic storyline was handled perfectly. This is something I’m saying as someone who usually steers clear of that genre, so don’t let that label dissuade you from reading this if you’re the same way. The author did an excellent job of creating two unique, realistically flawed characters and giving them a ton of time to pursue other goals in life before the slightest hint of romance filled the air. Having all of those things established ahead of time made it much easier for me to understand why these characters ended up becoming romantically interested in each other.  I loved this portion of the plot just as much as the rest of it.

There were a few spots where the pacing sagged a little due to how much character development and  world-building the author needed to do. While I appreciated it later on, I did find myself feeling a little restless in that moment when the storyline slowed down and I wasn’t sure why. Keep the slow moments in mind as you read.  I wish certain scenes had been sped up a little, but there is a payoff coming if you persevere!

I was impressed with the world building, though. It’s hard to create a complex society in a shorter work like a novella, but I was immersed in Sera and Clementine’s world by the end of the first scene. More details were released over time, of course, and I relished the opportunity to expand my understanding of where they came from and how their society had evolved in the few hundred years between Clementine’s death and Sera deciding to dig up Clementine’s grave.

The Ghost and the Real Girl made me yearn for more.

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Romantic Horror: A Review of Samfah

Book cover for Samfah by JR Martin. Image on cover shows a two-story stone wall of a decaying building that has dozens of stone pillars holding up the second floor. It looks vaguely Greek, has been flooded with water, and there is seaweed growing on the building and columns. Lots of sunlight is streaming into the scene from the sky above. Title: Samfah

Author: JR Martin

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 16, 2023

Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical, and dash of Psychological Horror

Length: 10 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Looking for an enchanting, action-packed adventure that will leave you breathless? Look no further than “Samfah” – the must-read fantasy short story of the year! Follow the journey of a young girl who mysteriously vanishes into the depths of the sea, leaving her loved ones devastated and searching for answers. As her family struggles to come to terms with her disappearance, she discovers the incredible secrets hidden beneath the waves – a mystical, underwater world full of magic and wonder.

Review:

Content Warning: Kidnapping and a death from natural(ish?) causes. I will be discussing the kidnapping in this review.

If you like weird fiction, keep reading.

Anyone who reads my reviews regularly knows that I like stories that keep the reader on their toes and mix genres together in new and different ways. This is one of those tales. It resisted any attempt to classify it into a single genre, and it defied my expectations of what horror, fantasy, and romance should be every time I thought the plot was veering off a little more into one of those directions, In short, it was creative and it had something for readers who like any of those genres even if you might not generally be into all three of them. I encourage you all to take a risk on this. It’s (probably) not what you think it will be.

I wish the author had dove more deeply into the character development. For example, Samfah’s relationship with her future husband, Arkan, fascinated me, and yet little time was spent exploring what he was like as an individual or why he withheld certain facts from her when he lured her deep into the ocean and promised her a life of luxury if she stayed forever. Was he simply being romantic or was there some other motive for his decisions? I could come up with arguments for several different logical interpretations of his actions, some of which were much darker than others. If I’d had more material to work with, I would have happily bumped my star rating up to at least a four.

The eerie first scene did an excellent job of grabbing my attention. Samfah did not seem to be in full control of her mind and body when she slowly wandered into the ocean despite not knowing how to swim. I shuddered as she soon entered waters that were over her head and needed to figure out what to do next. What an intense way to introduce a character and setting to an audience! I commend the author for taking this risk and trusting readers to figure out certain things on our own before later confirming whether or not our guesses were correct.

Samfah kept me on my toes.

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Things I Like and Dislike About the Romance Genre

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A black and white photo of a heart drawn into sand on a rocky beach. There is an arrow drawn through the heart and several white rocks that are about the size of a human infant sitting in the sand behind the drawing. It will be interesting to see how devoted fans of this genre answer this question.

I will read or watch the occasional romance, but my visits to that genre are short and sporadic.

What I Like About The Romance Genre

 

Everyone Lives Happily Ever After. Most of them end with the main characters living happily ever after together. That is not something that regularly happens in, say, the horror genre, so I appreciate bonding with characters I know will almost certainly have a cheerful ending. It’s a nice change from the scary stuff I more often read.

There Is Hope. Some romantic plots begin with characters who are in pretty bad shape. Maybe they’ve recently gone bankrupt, lost a loved one, been diagnosed with a serious illness, or been laid off from their dream job. Those first few scenes are usually the often the saddest ones in the entire story, so I enjoy seeing characters slowly (or quickly) find solutions to their problems and hold onto their hope for the future.

It’s Becoming More Inclusive. I’m seeing more romances being released about people who are senior citizens, LGBTQ+, non-white, disabled, or members of other under-represented groups. Yes, there’s still plenty of work to do to make this genre more inclusive, but that’s true of every other genre as well. In the meantime, I love seeing characters from all sorts of backgrounds getting to live happily ever after.

 

What I Dislike About The Romance Genre

 

Overemphasis on Romantic Love. I’m saying this as someone who has been married for years and loves her spouse, but there are so many other types of love out there that are just as important. You can have a perfectly wonderful life without ever getting married or falling in love, and I’d hope that everyone cultivates strong relationships with family members and friends no matter what your marital status is. There’s no such thing as one person fulfilling all of your emotional and social needs. That’s too much pressure to put on any relationship.

Too Repetitive. As much as I like seeing characters live happily ever after, I can only do so many stories in a row that are all but guaranteed to end the same way. This is also a feeling I have if I spend too much time in the horror, mystery, or speculative fiction genres, so it’s definitely not limited to one form of storytelling. Although, in my admittedly limited experience, romances seem a little less likely to take risks than some of the other types of storytelling do. (If you know of romances that broke major rules of their genre and surprised you with their plot twists, please give me suggestions! I would love to explore the most  creative examples of what a romance novel can be like).

It’s Shoehorned Into Other Genres Too Often. I’m slowly seeing more romantic subplots being included in speculative fiction stories that do not need romance in them. I understand the desire to appeal to multiple audiences and agree that some stories flow better if characters X and Y fall in love with each other, but I’m also wearied by how often I pick up what sounds like will be a dramatic space adventure or a clever new twist on  zombie lore (or what have you) only for the protagonist to get distracted by a sexy stranger and disrupt a storyline that was working just fine on its own.

I do occassionally enjoy romantic speculative fiction, but I don’t like to be blindsided by it. Just like there’s a paranormal romance tag, we should have clearly-labeled tags for all other types of speculative fiction so that readers can easily find or avoid them as desired.

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A Review of Ambrose & Ed

Book cover for Ambrose & Ed by Eugene Roy. Image on cover shows two wrinkled white hands of elderly people. They are holding hands. One of them is wearing a dark brown jacket and the other one is wearing a light brown jacket. Title: Ambrose & Ed

Author: Eugene Roy

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: December 9, 2022

Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Contemporary

Length: 16 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

Edna can be a bit scatterbrained. Ambrose can sometimes be careless. But together they have a loving oath that transcends realm and time.

Review:

Content Warning: Death from natural causes.

Nothing can stand in the way of true love.

Ambrose and Ed were so gentle and sweet. I loved hearing about the many happy years they’d had together, and I hoped they would somehow realize how their quiet, wholesome choices had improved the lives of everyone who knew them. These are the sorts of characters I love to read about, and I could have followed them through an entire novel and still wanted more.

The only thing preventing me from giving this short story a full five-star rating was how confusing I found the characters. Ambrose and Ed’s many children and grandchildren were mentioned, but none of them actually showed up in the storyline. I struggled to keep track of all of their names and wished that this portion had either been slimmed down or expanded so that I could get to know their extended family as well as I did the two protagonists. Either option would have worked well in my opinion. It was simply confusing for me as a reader to be introduced to so many characters and then never go any further with that information.

The ending made me smile. While I don’t share spoilers in my reviews, this is one of those tales that isn’t meant to surprise anyone. You may very well be like me and know how it’s going to end as soon as you finished the first sentence, but there’s so much more to good storytelling than writing twists. Mr. Roy pulled me into this world so kindly that I didn’t want to leave it. That, to me, is every bit as valuable as being thrilled by an exciting battle scene or shocked by how the clues in a mystery fit together.

Ambrose & Ed was a heartwarming fusion of the romance and paranormal genres that I’d recommend to fans of either one even if you’re generally not into both of them.

 

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Second Chances: A Review of Building Beauty

Book cover for Building Beauty by Rachel Eliason. Image on cover shows a close-up shot of the eye, eyebrow, and skin beneath the eye of a wooden robot that’s been designed to look human. The eye has a purple-blue iris that is quite unique. Title: Building Beauty

Author: Rachel Eliason

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 29, 2012

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ, Historical

Length: 33 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

In the waning days of World War One, Alejandro Faidosky is sent to serve the Tsar in a distant corner of the Russian Empire. In the industrial center of Chelyabinsk, deep in southern Siberia Alejandro discovers a factory producing “automatons”, clockwork robots. His job is to sculpt a robotic prostitute for the common soldier. “Of all the men in Mother Russia I must be the most ill equipped for this assignment” Alejandro moans to himself, but he must not let Major Dmitri know, and he must somehow build beauty.

Review:

Content Warning: Grief and prostitution.

Assumptions make the world go around.

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that explored the difference between what certain characters thought the world should be like and how it actually was. Yes, I know I’m being vague there, but this is one of those themes that is best left for new readers to fully explore for themselves. There’s nothing like reaching the ending of a paragraph or scene and suddenly realizing what the protagonist was hinting at earlier or what the author might have been gently nudging the readers to think about with some well-placed comments about the world we live in. I enjoyed those moments and hope other readers will as well.

Alejandro was such an intelligent, cautious, and thoughtful person that I struggled to understand why he chose the unusual design he did for the robotic prostitute he was building. That decision did not fit in well with everything else I’d learned about him. It would have been understandable for him to privately dream about a robot that he found appealing, but openly revealing such information was an entirely different story for that era. I wish this had been explored in greater depth so that I could better understand why he took this risk and what he hoped to gain from it. There was so much more the author could have done with Alejandro in this regard.

This is something I’m saying as a reader who usually has a strong preference non-romantic speculative fiction, but the author blended together the fantasy and romance genres together in this tale perfectly.  The storyline genuinely needed both of them, and I loved seeing how they strengthened each other and kept the characters moving along briskly to their destinies. It was my first time reading Ms. Eliason’s work, and her creative approach to how she mixed these genres together makes me want to read more from her as soon as possible.

Building Beauty was a romantic and inventive read.

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Creating Consciousness: A Review of MARiiMO

Book cover for MARiiMO by Tyrel Pinnegar. Image on cover shows a drawing of a grey robot with blobby arms and legs and a white head. The bottom portion of the head is filled with a blue liquid, an the rest of the head is white and blank. TitleMARiiMO

Author: Tyrel Pinnegar

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 17, 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ+

Length: 124 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

This is the journal of Tammy Maheswaran, a reclusive roboticist living with undiagnosed autism. It documents the creation of Mariimo, a developmental robotics platform through which Tammy subconsciously externalizes her issues with isolation, anxiety, and touch. Upon the machine’s activation, Tammy gradually begins to realize that in the act of constructing Mariimo, she’s been unknowingly deconstructing herself.

Review:

Content Warning: Detailed descriptions of what it feels like to have anxiety, phantom pain from a limb amputation, and brief flashbacks to a car accident during which the main character was seriously injured.

Not everything can be planned out in advance.

I enjoyed Tammy’s character development. She told the audience almost nothing about herself when we first met her, so it was refreshing to see her slowly evolve into sharing more details about her personality and interests as the storyline progressed. I liked the process of exploring parts of her life she’d been completely silent about before. My opinion of her was fairly neutral in the beginning, but it swung over to something warm and positive  once I had a stronger understanding of how her mind worked and why she made the choices she did.

The pacing was very slow, especially during the first third of the book. While I understand that this was done on purpose due to the fact that Tammy had undiagnosed autism and was meticulous about how she created MARiiMO, I did have some trouble remaining interested as the narrator gave me so many chapters on the many different materials she used (or, in some cases, decided not to use) to make her robot come to life. I was glad I stuck through with it to the end, but the pacing was enough of a deterrent for me as a reader that it did have a negative affect on my rating. 

Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that compared the differences between how a human and a robot may react to the same unexpected event. Even Tammy’s thorough planning phase in this experiment couldn’t predict everything MARiiMO did after she was created. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I thought this subplot was one of the most realistic and well-developed ones of them all. The author pushed everything to its logical conclusion and wasn’t afraid to extrapolate even more plots twists from the tiniest wisp of earlier ideas. 

MARiiMO was a thoughtful read.

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First Contact: A Review of Fractals

Book cover for Fractals by G.S. Jennsen. Image on cover shows a pink swirl of stars in the night sky. They all appear to be emanating from the same spot and are slowly spinning out into space in a wide loop. Title: Fractals

Author: G.S. Jennsen

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: February 20, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure, and just a pinch of romance.

Length: 22 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

A mysterious signal coming from deep space attracts the attention of humanity’s scientists and the soldiers who protect them—the kind of attention the originators of the signal will do anything to avoid. When the two converge, first contact doesn’t go the way either side planned.
*
FRACTALS is set in an alternative universe from the Aurora Rhapsody novels and short stories, but it features several of the same characters.

Review:

Content Warning: A space battle (but no injuries or deaths were described during it). I will not discuss it in my review.

Following protocol doesn’t always work well in situations that humanity has never experienced before.

Alexis and her coworkers struck me as people who had memorized all of the rules but didn’t always know why those rules had been put into place or when they could be reasonably bent. Their disagreements about how to react to what could possibly be first contact with an intelligent alien species were as humorous as they were true to all of these characters’ personalities. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected anything other than a few professional but sometimes terse arguments along the way as they figured out what they wanted to do next.

This would have benefitted from another round of editing in my opinion. The narrator switched between verb tenses so often that I became confused. There were also some characters who were introduced with very little explanation of who they were or how they were connected to anyone else. While I certainly didn’t expect to have everything spoon fed to me during my first introduction to this world, this would have been easier to understand if the narrator had been a little more assertive about filling the readers in on the basics of what we needed to know due to the author’s comments on Amazon about this being a series that didn’t need to be read in any particular order.

The ending made me chuckle. No, I won’t spoil anything about it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the way Ms. Jennsen veered off into a totally new direction with it. What a creative take on the idea of how first contact with an alien species is supposed to go. Not only did she clear up some of my questions about what was going on, she made me wonder what other surprises might be hidden in this universe.

Fractals was a wild ride.

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