Friday 30 March 2018

Books Received in March, 2018

Many thanks to the publishers who sent me books for review this month. I've managed to read several of them already and have plans to read others soon.

The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum - I really enjoyed this book and have reviewed it already. It's got a similar premise to the movie The Adjustment Bureau (which is loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story) but takes it in different directions. If you liked that film, you'll love this.

In this genre-bending novel, there is no such thing as chance and every action is carefully executed by highly trained agents. You'll never look at coincidences the same way again.
What if the drink you just spilled, the train you just missed, or the lottery ticket you just found was not just a random occurrence? What if it's all part of a bigger plan? What if there's no such thing as a chance encounter? What if there are people we don't know determining our destiny? And what if they are even planning the fate of the world?
Enter the Coincidence Makers-Guy, Emily, and Eric-three seemingly ordinary people who work for a secret organization devoted to creating and carrying out coincidences. What the rest of the world sees as random occurrences, are, in fact, carefully orchestrated events designed to spark significant changes in the lives of their targets-scientists on the brink of breakthroughs, struggling artists starved for inspiration, loves to be, or just plain people like you and me.
When an assignment of the highest level is slipped under Guy's door one night, he knows it will be the most difficult and dangerous coincidence he's ever had to fulfill. But not even a coincidence maker can see how this assignment is about to change all their lives and teach them the true nature of fate, free will, and the real meaning of love.

Archangel by Margaret Fortune - As this is book 2 of the series, and its synopsis contains spoilery information, I'm using the synopsis for book 1, Nova, here. I've reviewed Nova already and my review of Archangel will be up next week. Archangel has a more military SF feel than Nova, which felt more young adult. But they're both great books and I'm really looking forward to the next one.

The clock activates so suddenly in my mind, my head involuntarily jerks a bit to the side. The fog vanishes, dissipated in an instant as though it never was. Memories come slotting into place, their edges sharp enough to leave furrows, and suddenly I know. I know exactly who I am.

My name is Lia Johansen, and I was named for a prisoner of war. She lived in the Tiersten Internment Colony for two years, and when they negotiated the return of the prisoners, I was given her memories and sent back in her place.

And I am a genetically engineered human bomb.

Lia Johansen was created for only one purpose: to slip onto the strategically placed New Sol Space Station and explode.

But her mission goes to hell when her clock malfunctions, freezing her countdown with just two minutes to go. With no Plan B, no memories of her past, and no identity besides a name stolen from a dead POW, Lia has no idea what to do next. Her life gets even more complicated when she meets Michael Sorenson, the real Lia’s childhood best friend.

Drawn to Michael and his family against her better judgment, Lia starts learning what it means to live and love, and to be human. It is only when her countdown clock begins sporadically losing time that she realizes even duds can still blow up.

If she wants any chance at a future, she must find a way to unlock the secrets of her past and stop her clock. But as Lia digs into her origins, she begins to suspect there’s far more to her mission and to this war, than meets the eye. With the fate of not just a space station but an entire empire hanging in the balance, Lia races to find the truth before her time—literally—runs out.

Denver Moon #1: Murder on Mars and Denver Moon #2: Rafe's Revenge by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola - These are the first 2 issues of a 3 issue prequel graphic novel for the novella The Minds of Mars. I've reviewed the first issue already.

A murderer stalks the botsie parlors of Mars, viciously dismembering prostitutes and salvaging their body parts. Denver Moon, P.I., is hired to solve the homicides, but when the victims are robots, can it really be called murder?

Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola - This is a novella that sounds like a great SF noir. It's out in June.

Once considered humanity’s future home, Mars hasn’t worked out like anybody hoped. Plagued by crime and a terraforming project that's centuries from completion, Mars is a red hell.
Denver Moon, P.I., works the dark underbelly of Mars City. While investigating a series of violent crimes linked to red fever—a Martian disorder that turns its victims into bloodthirsty killers—Denver discovers a cryptic message left by Tatsuo Moon, Mars City co-founder and Denver's grandfather. The same grandfather who died two decades ago.
Twenty-year-old revelations force Denver on a quest for truth, but Tatsuo's former friend, Cole Hennessy, leader of the Church of Mars, has other plans and will stop at nothing to keep Denver from disclosing Tatsuo's secrets to the world.
Hell-bent on reclaiming her grandfather's legacy, Denver—along with her AI implant, Smith, companion android, Nigel, and shuttle pilot, Navya—set out on a quest to find the answers they hope will shed light on the church's true agenda, the origin of red fever, and the mysteries surrounding Tatsuo's tragic death.

One Way by S. J. Morden - I finished this yesterday and it's quite a ride. The last few chapters were especially tense. The book - and my review - will be out on April 10.

When the small crew of ex cons working on Mars start getting murdered, everyone is a suspect in this terrifying science fiction thriller from bona fide rocket scientist and award winning-author S. J. Morden.

It's the dawn of a new era - and we're ready to colonize Mars. But the company that's been contracted to construct a new Mars base, has made promises they can't fulfill and is desperate enough to cut corners. The first thing to go is the automation . . . the next thing they'll have to deal with is the eight astronauts they'll send to Mars, when there aren't supposed to be any at all.

Frank - father, architect, murderer - is recruited for the mission to Mars with the promise of a better life, along with seven of his most notorious fellow inmates. But as his crew sets to work on the red wasteland of Mars, the accidents mount up, and Frank begins to suspect they might not be accidents at all. As the list of suspect grows shorter, it's up to Frank to uncover the terrible truth before it's too late.

Dr. S. J. Morden trained as a rocket scientist before becoming the author of razor-sharp, award-winning science fiction. Perfect for fans of Andy Weir's The Martian and Richard Morgan, One Way takes off like a rocket, pulling us along on a terrifying, epic ride with only one way out.

Dayfall by Michael David Ares - This book sounds very interesting. I'm hoping to get to it in April or May.

In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall.
The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss.
That's when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour
nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as.. DAYFALL.

Good Guys by Steven Brust - This superhero novel sounds absolutely brilliant and very topical. Ah, so many great books and so little time. How many weeks does April have?

Donovan was shot by a cop. For jaywalking, supposedly. Actually, for arguing with a cop while black. Four of the nine shots were lethal-or would have been, if their target had been anybody else. The Foundation picked him up, brought him back, and trained him further. "Lethal" turns out to be a relative term when magic is involved.
When Marci was fifteen, she levitated a paperweight and threw it at a guy she didn't like. The Foundation scooped her up for training too.
"Hippie chick" Susan got well into her Foundation training before they told her about the magic, but she's as powerful as Donovan and Marci now.
They can teleport themselves thousands of miles, conjure shields that will stop bullets, and read information from the remnants of spells cast by others days before.
They all work for the secretive Foundation.for minimum wage.
Which is okay, because the Foundation are the good guys. Aren't they?

Thursday 29 March 2018

Shout-Out: Flotsam by R. J. Theodore

A fantastical steampunk first contact novel that ties together high magic, high technology, and bold characters to create a story you won’t soon forget.
Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.
Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.
Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

Video: Glam & Gore make-up tutorial

This isn't the sort of video I usually post here, but this make-up tutorial for a creature that wears another creature's skin is phenomenal. The make-up artist is Mykie (Glam & Gore channel) and she's recreating a drawing by Alex Pardee.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Book Review: Nova by Margaret Fortune

Pros: good pacing, interesting characters, interesting mystery, light romance
Cons: felt like Lia should have understood a few things faster

For three years the Celestial Expanse and the Tellurian Alliance have fought over rights to New Earth. Now, there’s a cease-fire accompanied by the good-will release of 500 prisoners of war from the Tellurian prisoner of war camp at Tiersten Colony. Among those being released onto New Sol station is sixteen year old Lia Johansen. But she’s actually a living bomb, set to go off in thirty-six hours.

This is the first book in the Spectre War series, and it’s a doozie. Given the age of the protagonist and her search for meaning after things go wrong, it kind of felt like a YA novel. There’s a touch of romance, coming of age, befriending an enemy… But throughout there’s an undercurrent of something else - the same mystery that Lia’s trying to remember.

I thought the pacing was great, with the book teasing out bits and pieces of the mystery. There was one aspect in particular that I was surprised she didn’t grasp earlier. Yes, she is sixteen and it wouldn’t be easy to work around false memories, but it did frustrate me a bit.

The romance elements were great and gave the ending quite a punch. I liked that Lia developed friendships with several women of various ages. Often books ignore the importance of female friendships to female protagonists, so I really appreciated seeing this.

While the story is self-contained, it opens a lot of future possibilities, and leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

Friday 23 March 2018

3D Metal Model: Kinkakuji

Last weekend I built another 3D metal model, this time of Kinkakuji, the Japanese golden pavilion in Kyoto.

This one contained 3 golden metal sheets for building the model (usually you get 1 or 2 sheets). As far as building went, this was one of the easier models I've done. I did mess up and thought I'd put the phoenix on the room facing the wrong direction so I 'fixed' it. I thought the outbuilding was the front, and once I'd bent and unbent the flaps once I didn't want to mess with them again for fear of breaking them off.

Like the other models I've done this one looks incredible finished. The real Kinkakuji is even more beautiful:

Thursday 22 March 2018

Shout-Out: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Lira, a famous siren, must prove herself by stealing the heart of the man, a prince, threatening their race in this dark and action-packed debut.
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most--a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian's heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby--it's his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she's more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good--But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind's greatest enemy?
Alexandra Christo's debut is a dark and richly imagined take on The Little Mermaid that will leave readers breathless.

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Video: Clarissa and the King's Cookbook

This is a video about the time of King Richard II of England and the cookbook he commissioned, The Forme of Cury. It features Clarissa Dickson Wright (one of the Two Fat Ladies). If you're interested in the history of food or medieval food and food preparation, it's quite interesting. I love the reconstructed kitchen scenes, where the chef sits on a raised chair and manages what goes on in the kitchen. I didn't know that's how a large kitchen was run, so it was cool to see. Meanwhile, a scribe sits in a vestibule copying out what the chef says, as the head chef himself was likely illiterate. They make a few recipes - using medieval techniques - and then have several historians/food critics try it and comment about it.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

Pros: fascinating world, interesting characters, tight ending, thought-provoking


Guy, Emily, and Eric are coincidence makers. They receive a white envelope with their mission parameters, and then arrange for those conditions to be met, resulting in a love affair, a new career, a dream attained, whatever is required for the humans around them. Then Guy gets a strange new assignment, one that will change his life.

I first heard of this book not long after seeing the film The Adjustment Bureau. I loved the film (note, it has little resemblance to the Philip K. Dick short story it was based on), but more than that, I loved the idea that there’s a bureaucracy in charge of planning fate for certain people. So I was curious what Blum would would do with his idea regarding those who plan coincidences. Make no mistake, while the ideas are similar, the execution is very different - and excellent in both cases.  

In the first half of the book you learn a lot about who the coincidence makers are and how they’re trained as you witness the three of them working on different cases. This part is heavily character driven, which I didn’t mind as there was so much to learn about the world and people that I didn’t really notice the plot was light. The second half of the book becomes more plot heavy as the various threads introduced earlier start to pull together into a cohesive - and immensely satisfying - ending.

I loved that their world includes things like imaginary friends and that there’s a history to coincidence making where theories change and develop over time. 

The characters are all quirky, with different foibles. Eric creates coincidences so he can go on dates. Guy plans his coincidences on one wall of his apartment so he can visualize what has to happen when. The side characters were a lot of fun too, especially the General.

The book makes you think about why people act certain ways when it comes to making decisions. It encourages looking at the larger picture. It is at times heartbreaking and at others sublime.

This is a fun, quirky book, that didn’t go where I thought it would, but looking back there’s no other way it could have gone. Definitely worth the read.

Friday 16 March 2018

Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau

Directed by George Nolfi, 2011

Pros: great acting, interesting story, impactful


A chance meeting between a young senate hopeful and a dancer inspires both of them. But when they meet again their attraction runs the risk of disrupting THE PLAN. So agents of the adjustment bureau are sent to keep them apart.

I loved this movie. It’s very, VERY loosely based on a Philip K. Dick short story, which I read after seeing the film. While I found the story kind of meh, the movie is sweet and sad and makes you want to cheer.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have so much chemistry, and his plight - knowing what their being together will cost both of them - is heart-wrenching to watch. I also loved Anthony Mackie as Harry Mitchell, the angel / agent who shows mercy to the pair.

I liked that the film left things up to the viewer to interpret. This is the kind of feel good movie that poses some interesting questions whose answers you don’t care about so long as things turn out well. 

[Like most trailers nowadays this one gives away quite a lot of the film, so you may not watch to watch the whole thing if you're interested in seeing the film.]

Thursday 15 March 2018

Shout-Out: The Future’s Dark Past by John Yarrow

When futuristic soldiers jump back in time to save mankind from a nuclear winter, a modern day FBI agent is reluctantly drawn into their time dimensional battles. His AI technology may be the most effective weapon to avoid The Purge War that destroys civilization in 2098...or it may be the perfect trigger.

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Video: Cat Mind Control

Today's video is a quirky cat film, showing the dangers of mind control.  ;P  It's by Aaron's Animals.

Tuesday 13 March 2018

Book Review: Dominion by Shane Arbuthnott

Pros: fun protagonist, interesting world

Cons: lack of nuance

Molly Stout has lived most of her fourteen years in the sky, engineer on her father’s airship, harvesting the spirits that control the machines that power the new world. When she helps capture a powerful spirit that talks to her, a skill spirits aren’t supposed to have, she begins to learn that her world is built on lies. 

Molly’s a great character navigating a difficult world. She deals with some terrible consequences, both for the actions she takes and the actions of those around her. As she discovers that spirits aren’t the monsters she’s been taught they are, she’s forced to realize the extent of the slavery and murder perpetrated on them by humans - herself included. 

I was impressed that the book pointed out both the ills of slavery and how difficult it is to dismantle an institution so much depends on. 

This may not bother other readers but I found Molly’s designation of engineer suspect. To me an engineer should know the ins and outs of the machines they’re working with. Molly doesn’t know what all the interior wires and gears do, she simply does exterior maintenance to keep the engine working.

While you don’t learn everything about the spirits, the author does a great job of showing both their powers and limitations in the Earthly realm. I liked that there are more than one kind of spirit, though not much is said about the terrics.

The family dynamics were interesting. The mother dead in childbirth seems to happen a lot in stories, as does the mixture of anger and sadness surrounding the child whose birth caused it. So I found Molly’s relationship with Rory refreshing. I’d assumed he’d be the teasing brother who drove her nuts or screamed abuse at her, and instead he helps her with a later goal in the book. I would have liked to see more interaction (or even flashbacks) with Brigid, and more nuanced interactions with her father, but I liked that the family loves each other but is also disfunctional in some ways. Molly’s emotions regarding her father at the end of the book were realistic given everything that happened.

There’s a lot of adventure - even if Molly manages to get away with more than is likely (I’d still like to know how she left the shipyard considering her route of entry wasn’t an option). But it’s no different from other books for this age group.

One aspect of the ending left me feeling troubled. I’ll deal with it in the spoiler section below.

All in all it’s a fun, quick read, that asks some hard questions and requires some contemplation.


It greatly disturbed me that the spirit who ran their ship comes back to help them after it’s freed, because Molly was nice to it. I found the idea that a creature that was tortured for so long would return, ridiculous. Regardless of Molly’s treatment, Legendermain should have felt nothing but anger towards her family for the years it lost and the lives of its kind they captured and sold. From an outsider’s point of view it’s possible to feel sympathy for the masters - especially children who don’t realize why slavery is wrong - but I cannot believe the slaves themselves feel any such sympathy. As a book for young adults, it’s dealing with themes that apply to the real world, which help teach real world kids how to react to things. And I believe the book dropped the ball here. I understand that the author wanted the family to have a flight capable ship for the next book. But maybe that book could have dealt with the family creating a new friendship and mutually beneficial relationship with the spirits instead, which would achieve the same goal while showing that abusing people doesn’t make them friends, but actual change and hard work can dismantle dysfunctional systems and create systems that work for everyone. Beyond Molly’s dubious friendship (she only freed it when the ship was taken away), what does Legendermain get out of this new arrangement?

Sunday 11 March 2018

Shout-Out: Patently Absurd by Bradley Schenck

Six stories; forty-four illustrations; 250 pages; one Patent Investigator; one slightly maladjusted robot secretary; and more Mad Science than you can shake a centrifuge at, all from the author/illustrator of Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom.
In the city of Retropolis - which is where the future went, when we got something else - all science is Mad. So scientific laboratories are confined to the city's Experimental Research District. It’s laid out in the zoning laws, but what it really is, is self-defense.
There’s always the danger that something really awful might happen in the District, though: something so awful that it will escape to the city outside. That’s why the Retropolis Registry of Patents keeps an eye on what the inventors of the District are doing from day to day.
At the Registry you might meet Ben Bowman, a patent investigator who’s smart in at least one or two of the ways that are important, and his friend Violet, the robot secretary. Violet is convinced that she ought to be an investigator herself.

Between you and me, she’s not wrong. But she’s had a terrible time convincing one Patent Registrar after another that they ought to promote her; and, strangely, the Registrars never seem to last very long once they disagree.

Out March 13

Friday 9 March 2018

Celebrating Women's Writing in SFF

I missed International Women's Day yesterday (as I miss most of these things). This morning I saw someone tweet their desk filled with books by female authors, and I thought, I can do something like that.

So here are books I own (physically and digitally), written by women, that I can recommend. It also highlighted a few gaps in my ownership (no Hunger Games or Parable of the Sower??). I've mostly separated them into SF and fantasy, though the fantasy image has a few historical fiction books on the bottom left. Note, I own a lot more fantasy novels in general, as it was my preferred subgenre until more recently, hence the disparity between the SF and fantasy piles.

I hope you find something new here, or something you realize it's time to reread!

Thursday 8 March 2018

Shout-Out: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This book is VERY high on my wish list. Unless I get outrageously busy, I intend to work it into my reading schedule sometime in the next month or two.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie's Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers-and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Novella Trailer: Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars

This is a trailer for the novella that follows the 3 issue comic series I reviewed the first issue of yesterday. It comes out June 5th. To learn more about the series, check out their website.

And here's the full synopsis:

Once considered humanity’s future home, Mars hasn’t worked out like anybody hoped. Plagued by crime and a terraforming project that's centuries from completion, Mars is a red hell.
Denver Moon, P.I., works the dark underbelly of Mars City. While investigating a series of violent crimes linked to red fever—a Martian disorder that turns its victims into bloodthirsty killers—Denver discovers a cryptic message left by Tatsuo Moon, Mars City co-founder and Denver's grandfather. The same grandfather who died two decades ago.
Twenty-year-old revelations force Denver on a quest for truth, but Tatsuo's former friend, Cole Hennessy, leader of the Church of Mars, has other plans and will stop at nothing to keep Denver from disclosing Tatsuo's secrets to the world.
Hell-bent on reclaiming her grandfather's legacy, Denver—along with her AI implant, Smith, companion android, Nigel, and shuttle pilot, Navya—set out on a quest to find the answers they hope will shed light on the church's true agenda, the origin of red fever, and the mysteries surrounding Tatsuo's tragic death.

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Comic Book Review: Denver Moon #1: Murder on Mars

Written by Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola, Illustrated by Aaron Lovett

Denver Moon is a private eye investigating a series of prostitute murders on Mars. But is it really murder if the victims are bots?

This is the first of 3 comic books, which will be bound into a graphic novel entitled Metamorphosis later this year. Issue one is currently on comiXology and will be available in print on June 5th. The comic is based on a short story of the same name, which is a prequel to a novella also out on June 5th called Denver Moon: The Minds of Mars.

This issue is purely set-up. You’re introduced to Moon and the case and a bit of the background regarding the state of affairs on Mars. I liked the artwork which has soft edges and an almost painted look. Scenes outside have a definite Blade Runner Asian/neon vibe. 

As extras, there’s some concept art for the main characters and the first section of the short story, which retells the same things as the comic, only with some added details. I actually found the comparison fascinating: what physical details needed to be included in the written rather than visual account as well as which details were cut for the comic to save room without compromising story.

This is a great start with an interesting protagonist and setting, and I’m curious to see where it goes. 


Friday 2 March 2018

Books Received in February 2018

Many thanks, as always, to the publishers who sent me books this past month.

Rice Boy by Evan Dahm - I'm not really interested in fantasy quest stories anymore (I've simply read too many of them), though this one does seem to subvert a few of the tropes. It's an indy title and you can check it out for yourself here.
Rice Boy is the "hero" of a charming YA fantasy adventure. He is anything but your typical protagonist of these types of things. He's not especially skilled, no swordplay or sorcery in his family, and no legacy.

He's just a little guy eking out a little rural life, but he's called to start the hero's journey anyway. The action that follows in Evan's sprawling, spacious, 400-plus-page graphic novel is weird, funny, exciting, and stunningly original. While you're furiously turning pages to find out what happens next to Rice Boy, his exhausted mentor known as "The One Electronic," and the endangered kingdom itself, you'll meet some wildly imaginative new creatures along the way like the affable Gerund, the mysterious Tree Keeper, and Bor the Very Large (he's large). RICE BOY is Tolkien-esque in its heft, Saga-like in its driving plot, and wholly unlike anything you've read before.

Semiosis by Sue Burke - An interesting first contact story between human colonists and the sentient plant life of their new home. I've reviewed it here.

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they'll have to survive on the one they found. They don't realize another life form watches...and waits...
Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Shout-Out: Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Donovan is a world of remarkable wealth, a habitable paradise of a planet. It sounds like a dream come true. But Donovan's wealth comes at a price.
When the ship Turalon arrives in orbit, Supervisor Kalico Aguila discovers a failing colony, its government overthrown and the few remaining colonists now gone wild. Donovan offers the chance of a lifetime, one that could leave her the most powerful woman in the solar system. Or dead.
Planetside, Talina Perez is one of three rulers of the Port Authority colony—the only law left in the one remaining town on Donovan. With the Corporate ship demanding answers about the things she's done in the name of survival, Perez could lose everything, including her life.
For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he can't wait to set foot on Port Authority. He will make one desperate play to grab a piece of the action—no matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy.
Captain Max Taggart has been The Corporation's "go-to" guy when it comes to brutal enforcement. As the situation in Port Authority deteriorates, he'll be faced with tough choices to control the wild Donovanians. Only Talina Perez stands in his way.
Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander, appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that deters any ship from attempting a return journey. And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. The secrets of which are hidden in Talina Perez's very blood.