Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Nightfire by Alyson Burdette

Nightfire by Alyson Burdette
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (157 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Olivia Townsend's love is eternal-and deadly.

When a murder shakes the small town of Peninsula, all eyes are on Olivia Townsend. She may look eighteen, but the townspeople can sense there’s something darker hiding behind her pretty eyes. Olivia knows the smart thing to do is to get out of town. Suspicious neighbors can only mean trouble for a vampire. But leaving becomes much more difficult when William, a mysterious man from her past, arrives. Finding out what brought him back is a temptation Olivia just can’t resist. William’s kindness and interest in Olivia only makes leaving harder. As she starts to fall for him, she’s forced to decide if sticking around is really worth the risk of being discovered. Of course, her mystery man has a secret of his own-and he’s not talking.

Olivia is a one hundred year old vampire, but looks nineteen, the age when she turned. Her world flips upside down when she meets and falls desperately in love with a vampire hunter.

Her lonely life finds meaning when she meets Jesse and his sister Jane. They are staying with Jane's boyfriend William who is looking after his uncle's house while the older man is away.

She senses something strange about both the men although Jane seems perfectly normal. Love distracts her, making her careless and vulnerable to other vampires.

Olivia appears to be reclusive with a mind set on keeping her nature secret and searching for her food outside her local area. The companionship she receives from the group of friends spreads warmth through her. When William and Jesse argue and Jesse leaves, Olivia's confusion knows no bounds.

The book starts smoothly and climbs rapidly into the world of paranormal. Olivia is a vampire with a difference, a vampire who drinks blood and eats flesh - human flesh. Ms Burdette provided a wonderful central character, not the evil or funny vampires of other paranormal books. This vampire is the same as anyone else, she gardens, she cleans. The only difference is her diet and her incredible speed and stamina.

William and Jesse are two masterful men, both attracted to Olivia. Unable to resist the different allure of each of them she tries to fathom why they seem so familiar to her. In other words this is a romance. Two guys, one girl who just happens to be a vampire. Poor Jane gets a very low profile, but I believe the author might be tempted to write a sequel and maybe Jane will get a bigger part in the second book.

I would be happy to read this vampire novel more than once. Paranormal at its best.

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State by Pat Murphy

A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State by Pat Murphy
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (17 pages)
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe

Traveling across the Martian polar cap, the second TransPolar Expedition is tracing the shape of the hidden lands beneath the ice and snow. Sita, the expedition’s cartographer, has a talent for interpreting the shades and squiggles that the computer produces from satellite photos and sonic recordings. She takes ambiguous data and makes a clear and precise map of lands no one has ever seen.

But Sita knows that maps are black-and-white portraits of a world that exists in shades of gray and, like cartographers before her, she knows that dragons lurk beyond the edges of every map. At night, in the darkness of her dreams, she believes in the yeti, the messengers from the secret lands, the dark-eyed dream beasts that haunt the crevasses and move as softly as the blowing snow.

The world is not all that it seems on the surface. Beneath the polar ice lies danger and discovery.

Sita knew the Martian TransPolar Expedition would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It isn’t every day one has the opportunity to explore places that no human being has ever visited before. What she couldn’t predict, though, was how dangerous it would become or how quickly she’d be pushed to her limits.

This is science fiction at its best. Peel away the technology, otherworldly setting and burgeoning mystery and the reader is left with a close-knit band of resourceful humans charting an unforgiving land. In order to achieve their goals and keep the group safe they’ll muster strength they never knew dwelt within them.

I was pleasantly surprised to see an all-female crew on this expedition. Hard science fiction in particular tends to be dominated by men. It was even nicer to quickly realize that the gender identities of these characters have nothing to do with their story arcs. Sita, Nan, Yukiko and Maria were simply the finest professionals in their respective fields available at the time.

One subplots wasn’t resolved in the manner I had assumed it would be when I first started reading. Ultimately it didn’t detract from the ending but if the author ever revisits these characters I would be interested in a sequel that revisits the difference between how the protagonist experiences these events and what actually took place.

A Cartographic Analysis of the Dream State kept me guessing until the final sentence. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered what adventures await the next person to fly up there.