Book Review: Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey

Freedoms Landing by Anne McCaffrey.jpgTitle: Freedom’s Landing
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Series: Catteni, Book 1
Publisher: Ace
Hardcover: 342 pages
Source: Chicago Public Library
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

The alien Catteni have attacked earth, emptying cities for slave labor. And other things.

Kris Bjornsen has been taken captive and finds herself dumped with many others on an empty planet–but one of the Catteni masters missed his ride back. Now Kris takes on a leadership role and has to help figure out how to protect these people and also what to do with the Catteni trapped on this plane with them.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

It has been way too long since I’ve read Anne McCaffrey, and how I have missed her. This series has been on my to-read list for years and years, so when the ReadThemAll challenge came up, hosted by Read At Midnight, I knew that I needed to use this as my Boulder Badge entry.

This book was slow going for me for most of the beginning. The very beginning was super interesting, where we meet Kris and learn about how she’s been kidnapped from Earth and is basically a slave to the Catteni, but when she gets dumped on the empty planet with Zainal, a rogue Catteni who landed himself in some trouble with his own people, I struggled a lot. Once everything got explained and set up, it was fine, but the first 80 pages or so were a slog for me.

With that said, I’ve really missed McCaffrey’s science fiction — this is the science fiction I grew up with and I have missed it so, so much. In terms of pure story, it’s wonderful, with the survival/colonization/new planet discovery aspect, with the characters discovering new technology and constantly finding themselves in danger they didn’t realize was around. It’s super realistic in terms of the characters needing to figure out what they need to have a balanced diet, how they’re going to handle hygiene and sickness, etc.

In terms of larger themes, McCaffrey has insightful and incisive commentary on race relations based on how other aliens are treated by humans, even though they’re also Catteni slaves and put in the same situation as humans — sometimes even with fewer tools and privileges for survival, like needing special nutrients for their diet that just aren’t really easy to get on the planet they’re trapped on.

One of the things I most appreciated about this novel was the way romances very slowly and organically came about. There was no, “Oh my god s/he is so hot and I need to have her right now, even though we’re all struggling to even just eat on this new planet,” which is sadly too common in some novels. Whenever romance popped up, it made sense in the context, and there was no sex for the sake of sex during times that didn’t really make any sense. Perfectly done and I wish I read more stories that were able to handle it so realistically.

Overall, this is a solid start to a science fiction series that I’m looking forward to continuing, and for those who like survivalist stories with a science fiction edge, or even just McCaffrey fans, you should give it a read!

Book Review: The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn

Title: The Alleluia Files
Author: Sharon Shinn
Publisher: Ace
Paperback: 448 pages
Series: Samaria Book 3 (Published Order) or Book 5 (Chronological Order)
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Legend has it that the Alleluia Files contain the truth about the god of Samaria. Now, a child raised in captivity among the angels will journey the length and breadth of her world to seek the documents that will alter the face of Samaria forever.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Sharon Shinn wrote the Samaria books before angels were even a popular subject. I’m a big fan of Shinn, and after reading the first book in this series, Archangel, I fell in love with the world she has created. This is very much a science fiction series, with the inhabitants of Samaria being descendants of people from Earth who left to escape the destruction of the planet by technology. In The Alleluia Files, the people of Samaria have become much more technologically advanced — some think this is a good thing, others think they are traveling the path that their descendants had tried to escape from.

The book starts off with Tamar, a woman who has grown up with the Jacobites, a group of people who believe that the “god” the angels sing to for help is in fact a spaceship designed to respond to aural cues (music). I loved Tamar. Strong female heroines always win me over, and this girl has some fire in her! Despite being persecuted, hunted down, and beaten down by people from all over, she refuses to give up. She doesn’t even complain about her lot in life; she just accepts it and does what she can to survive. If there’s anything I hate, it’s a whiny character, so I fell in love with Tamar rather quickly.

As all the Samaria books, The Alleluia Files has multiple viewpoints, so we don’t just get Tamar’s version of events, though I consider her to be the main character. We also get Lucinda, an angel who grew up on an isolated island, and Jared, a high-ranking angel who goes against the norm. They are all wonderful characters, but I think that Tamar was my favorite, followed by Lucinda.

While it was very good, I don’t think this one was as good as the first two books of the series. For some reason, the romance didn’t seem quite as satisfying. Also, the plot was fairly predictable. Although, I have to admit, once the climax hit, I couldn’t stop reading, even though I was pretty sure of what was going to happen. This book is exciting, humorous, suspenseful, and heartwarming. Shinn’s greatest talent is getting the reader involved in her characters’ lives and their stories — by the end, I felt like I had just gone through what they had gone through, and found myself sharing their emotions. For me, that is the sign of good writing.

The Samaria books are all connected; however, they are written in a way so as to make them stand-alone. On the one hand, I hate how we don’t get to see characters from previous books, but on the other hand, I really like seeing how the world changes and progresses throughout the centuries. Obviously, reading the previous books will help your understanding of the finer points of the world and its history, but it’s not necessary.

I recommend this series for any science fiction or romance lover. Keep in mind that there aren’t hot and heavy scenes — it’s a sweet romance — but the characters’ interactions will make your heart flutter and put a smile on your face.

Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, Book 10
Publisher: Ace
Hardcover: 311 pages
Buy from the Book Depository
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

After enduring torture and the loss of loved ones during the brief but deadly Faery War, Sookie Stackhouse is hurt and she’s angry. Just about the only bright spot in her life is the love she thinks she feels for vampire Eric Northman. But he’s under scrutiny by the new Vampire King because of their relationship. And as the political implications of the Shifters coming out are beginning to be felt, Sookie’s connection to the Shreveport pack draws her into the debate. Worst of all, though the door to Faery has been closed, there are still some Fae on the human side-and one of them is angry at Sookie. Very, very angry..

My Review:

Dead in the Family starts off a bit darker than the other novels in the series, but considering what happened in the previous novel, I would have been upset if it didn’t. Sookie has lost a lot of her innocence and naivete, and I think this is a good change from the beginning books of the series. After hanging around the vampires and the weres, something had to happen to make her less soft.

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Book Review: Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

*WARNING: Spoilers for those who haven’t read books 1-4*
Author: Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Ace
Series: Kate Daniels, Book 5
Pages: 308
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
For Challenge: 100 Books in a Year

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . .

Overall rating: 5/5

I always worry when a series goes longer than four books. In my experience, very few can go past that point and still keep the magic that made the first books so incredible. Characters lose their edge, relationships lose their spark, and the plot runs around in circles.

This series definitely doesn’t have any of those problems and can handle at least two more books, if not many, many more. Kate is as hilarious and kick-ass as ever. Curran is as possessive, adorable, and of course kick-ass as ever, and their relationship is certainly not losing any sparks. The plot is progressing nicely and I am SO excited for Book 6.

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