User Profile

nlowell

nlowell@books.theunseen.city

Joined 1 year, 6 months ago

I read a lot.

Mostly SF/F.

My 2023 goals involve widening the net and finding a reading community to participate in.

I already have Mastodon and WriteFreely accounts. Figured I'd continue the trend here.

I'm pleased to be among you.

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nlowell's books

AJ Lancaster: The Lord of Stariel (Paperback, 2018, Camberion Press) 5 stars

The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is. …

Mysteries Within Mysteries

5 stars

I love a rich setting that integrates seamlessly with the characters. Hetta's reluctance. Jack's truculence. Wyn's ethereal mystery. Even Aunt Sibyl's waspish tongue. All mixed up with the uncertainty of the Valstar estate and who should lead when the old lord dies.

This is another of those books that just grabbed me by the nose and dragged me back to it - even when I should have been working on my own books. I loved it and will be working through the whole quartet.

A J Lancaster has dished up a feast of a first-in-the-series with this book.

Very highly recommended.

reviewed Doctor Galaxy by Jenny Schwartz (Pax Galactica Corps, #1)

Jenny Schwartz: Doctor Galaxy (EBook) 5 stars

New ER doctor Alexi Sur always intended to join an aid agency. She'd just expected …

Interstellar Awww

5 stars

I loves me some Jenny Schwartz. Her xeno-themed works always press all the right buttons. The Pax Galactica Corps series is off to a great start with Doctor Galaxy.

As always, it's the characters. Alexi, Elif, Soren, Dr. Tzutki, and Mani Dyo - all of them, really. Even the "bad guys." The story pulled me in and dragged me along, a willing follower to its eldritch song.

Yes, this is science fiction romance with all that entails complete with a HEA. Two of my favorite genres. A delicious morsel of a story that a bag of Reese's couldn't have made any better.

Highly Recommended.

reviewed Triplanetary by E. E. "Doc" Smith (The Lensman, #1)

E. E. "Doc" Smith: Triplanetary (EBook, 2010, Project Gutenberg) 3 stars

Originally serialized in Amazing Stories (1934), Fantasy Press published what would be come the first …

Space Opera's Roots

3 stars

Reading this, it's easy to see why space opera gained its reputation for being overly melodramatic.

With archetypal Good fighting Evil for nothing less than control of life in the universe, the story (eventually) centers on the monstrous fish people against humanity in a struggle to control the power of the iron atom - a common enough element on Earth (including human blood) but lacking elsewhere.

Personally, I try to meet a work where it is rather than trying to impose my own perceptions of what I want it to be. The huge stakes, melodramatic plot, the formulaic application of rising danger, and flat characters made it difficult for me. I couldn't rid myself of a tendency to think of the campy Batman TV series with its comic use of Pow! and Bam! or a Tom Swift and His Electric Xylophone Of Doom style novel.

From a historical perspective, it's …

reviewed The Queen's Chair by Chloe Garner (The Queen's Chair, #1)

Chloe Garner: The Queen's Chair (EBook, A Horse Called Alpha) 5 stars

A merchant's spare daughter disembarks to her new life in a city filled with pixies, …

Off the Wall

5 stars

It's the characters for me. Always the characters and a great setting never hurts. Garner's The Queen's Chair has both.

The city of Verida practically vibrates off the page with its unique neighborhoods and varying images. It's almost as much a character as Anastasia Fielding-Horne. When you add in the rest of the ensemble cast - Jasper, Collin, Babe, and of course, Queen Constance - the result is a rich stew of a story that needs little more than a good chunk of time to dig in and savor it.

I read widely and like a lot of books. I can highly recommend them without reservation, because they're that good. This one? I loved it, and I don't find that many books that make the extra grade.

Very Highly Recommended.

Jim Henderson: Inspector Giskard (EBook, Henderson Infinity Press) 5 stars

When a suburban mom is murdered in her home and her two teenage daughters kidnapped, …

Quirky Robot Action

5 stars

Joe Friday has nothing on Inspector Giskard. Dry as dust. Just the fax, ma'am. Networking takes on a whole new dimension as the MC takes on a murder/kidnapping case and sees it through to the absolute end. No shortcuts allowed. Humans need to be mollified but justice must be served.

Not gonna lie. I loved it. Very low key - like an old Dragnet episode - but without all the preachy goo.

Giskard (perhaps a nod to Asimov's R. Giskard Reventlov) spins out the tale deftly, keeping me interested in the details of robot-detective work as he interfaces with humans across a wide spectrum of the species.

Kudos to Jim Henderson for making his robots seem more interesting - and more human - than the actual humans.

Highly recommended.

Deb E. Howell: Healer's Touch (Paperback, 2022, Dragon's Kiss Books) 5 stars

The Young Riders meet The Vampire Diaries in this tale of brother versus brother and …

Complex and Convoluted

5 stars

Llew's gift/curse carries her from her comfortable surroundings in a dreary mining town called Cheer into the arms of a deadly enemy. While there are a few moments of joy, the story carries on relentlessly from one town to the next. Bedroll and campfires abound on good days.

A lot of people die. Yet, Deb Howell manages to spin an engaging tale of suffering and sacrifice into one of hope and redemption.

If you like your fiction with a harder, darker edge and a pounding pace, this is the book for you.

Highly recommended.

Jules Verne: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (EBook, Project Gutenberg) 3 stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (French: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a …

Encyclopedia Nautica

4 stars

A classic adventure tale cataloging every fish, seaweed, and coral in the various oceans. Some of them are real.

As adventure tales go, particularly from this classic era, it's pretty good. I read it as a young teen and remember it fondly, although perhaps my fondness comes from the Classics Illustrated comic as much as from the actual text.

In honesty, it doesn't bear up as well as I'd hoped. Nemo's unexplored misandry against the M. Arronax's relentless intellectualism left me with too little satisfaction to give the story more than four stars.

Recommended, if only for the picture of what early science fiction looked like post-Frankenstein and pre-War of the Worlds.

C J Archer: The Librarian of Crooked Lane (EBook, 2022) 5 stars

Book 'Em

5 stars

C. J. Archer has been on my short list of recommended fantasy authors for years. I followed the Glass and Steele series with great enthusiasm. This first book of the Glass Library sequel series promises to be just as good as the next generation picks up the story.

Sylvia Ashe picks up the narrative begun by India Steele in the precursor series as she struggles against the economic and misogynistic headwinds of post-WWI England. She's a lovely character who wrapped me around her little finger and pulled me into the twisted story of mis-used Arts and stolen art. Gabriel Glass, only son of Baron and Lady Rycroft, would seem to be out of her league yet circumstances continue to place them together as they try to solve the mystery of the stolen Delacroix.

I loved falling back into this marvelous world of magicians and their arts. The characters sparkle. The …

Veo Corva: Non-Player Character (EBook, 2021, Witch Key Fiction) 5 stars

32-year old Tar feels like a Non-Player Character in their own life. They’ve been utterly …

Magical Mystical Tour

5 stars

A lot of fun here. A lot of angst. A window into what it's like on the inside looking out.

The characters weren't exactly fun, but they felt real, even when they played new roles. I couldn't help but like them as they struggled to work together, to support each other, and to find a way through they each could live with.

When I started this story, I wasn't sure which world represented the NPC. Was it the one being held up as real life? Or the one in the game? Like is Tar's job at the museum the NPC role or is it their role in the game? Neither? Both?

The tension gets resolved nicely before the story ends but it really made me think about how that game space exists for me. Digitally or mentally. Digitally AND mentally.

Highly Recommended!

Skye Kilaen, Laya Rose: Get It Right (2020, LLC, Chaotic Neutral Press) 5 stars

A butch lesbian parolee. The pretty pansexual nurse who got away. Is this their second …

Second Chances

5 stars

This book is all about second chances. It even got a second chance from me. I'd sampled and passed on it a few weeks ago, but after reading Shake Things Up, I went back to give it another go. I'm so glad I did.

Vivi and Finn make such an adorable couple. The tension ratcheted up as I watched them both misinterpret what the other said. Should I? Shouldn't I? Will they? Won't she? Delicious and the steamy, breath taking moment when those questions get answered are only the beginning for these two lovely people.

Highly Recommended.

Jillianne Hamilton: The Spirited Mrs. Pringle (EBook, Tomfoolery Press) 5 stars

London, 1888.

Upon the death of her husband, self-involved social climber Cora Pringle assumes her …

Jolly Good

5 stars

Two stories that wouldn't survive without the other. Jillianne Hamilton does a great job of spinning out the parallel yarns without every tangling the threads.

Cora Pringle - lively and a bit naive - wanders through Victorian era London not quite understanding her privilege until it's stripped away from her one gown, one trunk, one hope at a time. The woman left standing at the end bears only a passing resemblance to the woman who began the story.

Likewise, Amelia Baxter - surrounded by misogyny and hungry for journalistic recognition - not quite so blind to her own privilege but frustrated by her peers' unwillingness to confront it soon finds herself at odds with her editor and struggling.

I liked the by play between these two story lines. Everett Rigby and Simon Baxtor as their two partners provide just the right foils to keep the characters and their stories sharp. …

Mel Todd: Hired Luck (Twisted Luck) (2020, Bad Ash Publishing) 5 stars

New city, new job, new threat?

With my best friend going to college to learn …

Irresistable

5 stars

I burned through this book in a single day, not because it's short (it's not) but because it was so good I couldn't stop.

This year I've been squelching my tendency to burn through a whole series if I like book one. I want to read more authors, not just more books, in 2023. Mel Todd's Twisted Luck series got it's grip on me and I couldn't get away before I found myself deep into the next volume after finishing My Luck.

Cori Catastrophe is back, the weird keeps on happening until she discovers the truth about herself and has to face a future that was not the one she wanted.

Highly Recommended.

reviewed My Luck by Mel Todd

Mel Todd: My Luck (Paperback, 2020, Bad Ash Publishing) 5 stars

They call me Cori Catastrophe

My name is Cori Munroe, and ever since my twin …

Feeling Lucky?

5 stars

Mel Todd's rich world building and engaging characters drew me and wouldn't let me go. I burned through my normal reading time and stayed up late reading more. I was able to put it down but I couldn't leave it down for very long.

Cori Monroe and her circle of friends and found family strike just the right chords to create a spellbinding tale of magic and mayhem. The subtle clues telegraph what's happening just below the surface in a way that made the story stronger. That fantastic "wait a minute" feeling when the disparate pieces come together to form a picture.

I loved it.

Highly recommended.

Skye Kilaen, Laya Rose: Shake Things Up (2022, LLC, Chaotic Neutral Press) 5 stars

Three people, one road trip, and so many queer feelings. A polyamorous romance about changing …

Decisions, Decisions

5 stars

It's always the characters with me. Noelle, Allie, and Matt - along with the ensemble casts - dragged me into this story and let me steep in the warm bath.

This niche lays so far outside of my normal realm, it might as well be written in another language. Parts of it might well be but I understood the meanings well enough to know this is a terrific story of love and lust, of decisions and doubt, of friends and lovers ... or friends who might become lovers ... or lovers who have friends.

Yes, there's some sex talk in here. There's also some pretty frank examples of consent, autonomy, and just play big-hearted warmth.

I loved it. Steamy bits and all.

Highly recommended.

reviewed Star-Crossed Witch by Deanna Chase (Miss Matched Midlife Dating Agency, #1)

Deanna Chase: Star-Crossed Witch (EBook, 2022, Bayou Moon Publishing) 5 stars

A Paranormal Women’s Fiction Novel.

Welcome to Miss Matched Midlife Dating Agency, where Marion Matched …

Curses, Foiled Again

5 stars

My usual habit is to sample everything before I commit to reading. Deanna Chase is one of my very few "just buy it" authors. I've read almost everything she's published and haven't found a clinker in the lot. This book was no exception.

Set in Premonition Pointe, a magical community in a mythical California, Star-Crossed brings back some familiar names and faces to those who've read the Premonition Pointe series. I sank into the story like a warm bath.

The story unfolds nicely as Miss Marion Matched launches her midlife dating service - one that depends on her own magical talents to find the perfect matches. Her plans tumble around her in a cascade of magically induced catastrophes driven by the usual suspects - self-doubt and shadowy actors.

As always, for me at least, it's the characters that pulled me in. From Marion Matched to her found and genetic family …