Lenni Reviews: “Orbit” by Leigh Hellman

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Committed troublemaker Ciaan Gennet runs afoul of the law one too many times and ends up sentenced to probation at a spaceship port facility. He blonde hair makes her a target for bullies so she hopes to keep her head down and serve her time without incident. But when a captain with obviously suspicious cargo docks his ship, Ciaan gets caught up in a multiplanet conspiracy that puts her life in great danger.

Perhaps a little slow going until Ciaan ends up on the spacecraft but it’s still interesting. Great characters, awesome worldbuilding, and a great spin on some dystopian concepts. We have a smart woman of color as our main lead and I love reading about a motley crew of space rebels. Very cool book. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Escape from Altera” by Steven Gordon

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review

League pilot Idaho Took is captured by the Slurian Union. Thought to be a spy, he is sentenced to a death camp on the frozen planet of Altera. Barely surviving the deadly cold, sadistic guards, desperate prisoners and crippling starvation, Idaho battles for the hope of escaping the inescapable. The entire cast of misfits in this book work off one another really well, whether friend or foe and even the briefest of encounters is told with the same detail as longer attachments.

It’s easy to empathize with the cold, hunger, and brutality the prisoners must endure and it is horrifying and heartbreaking to see what people are willing to do to survive. Despite being set in a space opera setting, this is a harrowing and tense depiction of life in a forced labor camp. It’s merciless but a page turner as Idaho is a resourceful and interesting character to follow. The title implies further adventures with him and if they’re as good as this one, I’d like to read them.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Matter of Oaths” by Helen S. Wright

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers

In this reprint of a 1988 novel, Commander Rallya of the patrol ship Bhattya takes on a new officer; an oath breaker named Rafe. Not only is Rallya gambling by taking on an oath breaker, Rafe has also undergone a memory wipe as punishment. All Rafe wants is to do his job and perhaps earn the grudging respect of his new crewmembers but the deep secrets hidden in Rafe’s memories begin to flutter to the surface, secrets which may plunge the kingdoms into war.

This is an awesome space opera with odd politics that can get bogged down in its own details at times – both in the technical aspects and in the political. However, when the action is front and center; this book is a sharp, intelligent science fiction offering that is a nearly perfect book. It is truly a hidden gem that explores LGBT and people of color in science fiction and even has a retirement age captain! I’m sorry I didn’t come across this sooner. 4.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Escape Velocity” Jason M. Hough

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*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review is cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

After the destruction of their ships, Captains Skyler Luiken and Gloria Tsandi with their crews are stranded within enemy compounds, scattered and separated with no escape and surrounded by the Scipio; having survived a huge attack, and now must find a way to find their comrades, defeat an armada, and get out alive.

Despite the flurry of characters, this is an interesting space opera with some high handed concepts that feel bigger than they really are. Other than my personal curiosity about the previous books in this series, this one stands alone just fine. It’s enjoyable, the characters and writing kept me interested but not enough to get truly lost in it and I found myself easily distracted instead of engaged. It comes in, does its thing, then it leaves fulfilling its task. Not bad, though. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Thirteenth Man” by J.L. Doty

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*This review is cross-posted at Otakus and Geeks.

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Charlie Cass – the unacknowledged son of a duke – is freed from a POW camp, he returns to find a kingdom on the cusp of war. The dukes are plotting against one another and the king and now with the presumed dead Charlie back in the picture, they fear he will interfere with their plans. But Charlie refuses to go down without a fight.

I’m not usually a fan of military sci-fi but I honestly have to say this was the characters that kept me interested in this book. Charlie is a compelling, sensible character who is smart enough to surround himself with competent, loyal, and colorful people. Especially the prostitutes. They made me laugh. The techno jargon and political dancing were a little much but I just let it wash over me until the cool stuff started happening again. All that posturing and double meaning give me a headache. It’s why I could never be a politician…

As this book was filled with all these thrilling space battles and has a satisfying conclusion to the main conflict, I felt the epilogue deflated everything; especially after such a climactic ending. I honestly can’t think of another way to mend all those plot threads together without adding a few hundred pages to the book so I’ll let the exposition dump slide. For unexpectedly entertaining me despite being out of my usual tastes, I give this a 3.7 out of 5.

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