Archetype by M.D. Waters (Feb 2014)

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I loved this book. It’s futuristic, dystopian, scifi that should attract even those who, like me, don’t normally get into that genre.  I’m dying to read the sequel, Prototype, coming out next summer.  What I really like about this book is that you’re never really sure exactly who’s the good guy, and who’s the bad.  And with the bad guys, you’re not sure exactly how bad, or if the bad bits are actually kind of good.  There’s also romance, which is a plus on my checklist.  But again, you’re not sure whether the love is well-placed.  I’m reading another book, Parasite by Mira Grant, that reminds me a little of Waters’ Archetype, in that both deal with medical advances, and what they could mean for our future.  Corporate medicine, pharmaceutical giants, loom large — and don’t they loom large in our own lives lived off the printed page?  This real-world connection makes it easy to relate to and get absorbed in these fast-paced novels.  Hooray for M.D. Waters!  It’s too bad you’ll have to wait until February when it comes out — but put it on your list today!  Advance Reader’s Copy provided by Penguin.

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Language of the Sea by James MacManus (2011)

 

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As a young adult who woke to years of dark, quiet mornings for training as a competitive swimmer, I often felt more comfortable in water than on land.  So when my cousin Lynette introduced me to selkies – the half-human half-seal beings of Scottish mythology – by giving me her VHS tape of the film “The Secret of Roan Inish”, I absorbed the waking fantasy of silently and without remorse abandoning land to slip beneath the waves and join my seal kin.  And now, decades later as an adult who occasionally uses said fantasy to escape the demands of daily life, I have read a novel that brings that very escape to life.  Language of the Sea by James MacManus is the stuff of Celtic lore and fantasy – and yet it reads like realistic fiction.  What happens in the novel is not far from the plausible.  At core, it is a novel about science – specifically the marine sciences – and not fantasy at all.  The main character is a marine biologist on Cape Cod, working as an academic at a research center, focusing on seal communication.  The book is one whose images are now a part of me; I suspect further decades (if I’m lucky) of living on land will not erode them.  But I have (or rather, had) one criticism.  I thought at several junctures in my reading that the science parts of the novel, where what is known about the oceans and sea mammals was explicated, were not strong enough.  Not detailed enough.  I kept thinking, there is lot being left out here, and the author is just scratching the surface.  But alas, by the end of the novel, the reader sees the point in that withholding.  What is most important is not what we know, but what we do not know, and our degree of humility in admitting that.  Our current scientific knowledge base is large, and we can explain a lot, especially in comparison to what we knew just 30 years ago, when I was still that young adult diving into pools while half asleep.  But we have only just scratched the surface, especially when it comes to our oceans, which cover 70% of our planet, but of which we’ve explored only five percent. And so my one criticism of this novel is washed away.  I will be reading MacManus’ new release, Black Venus, in the near future.  Next Spring, we may visit a remote research outpost in Baja California – one of several vacation spots I had looked into before reading Language of the Sea – where sea lions frolic.  If one dark morning I am said to have walked straight into the sea, slipped beneath a wave, and never returned, you will know with whom I am keeping company.

Shadow’s Edge (A Night Prowler Novel #1) by J.T. Geissinger (June 2012)

The Ikati — a legendary species of half panther, half human creatures who, in their most powerful incarnations, can shift from one to the other, and to vapor — are the alluring players in this paranormal romance.  The world creation is good, it draws you in.  I really couldn’t put the book down, the first half.  The second half, I started realizing that the characters needed more complexity to really invest in them, and the language was getting too intentionally swooning.  I read the galley I picked up at BEA, so perhaps the finished book edited some of that out.  I enjoyed the story and the fantasy world, nevertheless, and will be buying the 2nd in the series, coming out in October, for the library.

Undercover Alliance by Lilly Cain (June 2012)

I was given the galley by Carina Press on NetGalley, and did not immediately begin reading it. I thought, a romance between a human and an alien is intriguing, but, well, kind of weird. Maybe not my cup of tea. But I was very pleasantly surprised. Lilly Cain is a good writer, and the book never sinks into romance genre slush of “feelings” verbiage. Romance, and sex, are the point, but there is a decent plot. At only one point did I think there was a string left dangling, and if you pulled it the plot might unravel. No one’s perfect. But the sex was pretty close. And not overdone. It’s not like the characters spent all their time in bed, exhausting not only themselves but readers’ credulity as well. It was believable. Even though it was alien. An accomplishment indeed. I will be buying the other two books in the Confederacy Treaty series. I received Undercover Alliance for free, but I’m more than willing to pay for the other two downloads, now that I’m acquainted with Cain’s writing. And I’ll be buying the one paperback of hers that seems to be available — Dark Harmony — for my public library.

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