Review: Finders Keepers, by Linnea Sinclair

I thought this one was going to be space opera, and it was… sort of:

I picked this one up some time back, and looking at the cover (the one on the left), I expected it to be space opera with perhaps a hint of military SF. You know, athletic gal, big gun, things will go boom. And yes, things did go boom.

But it was also something of a romance, which makes more sense when you look at the cover on the right. The prominent figures are attractive, pressed close in a tense but lovey-dovey pose. We still have the ships and explosions below to tell us that it’s a romance in space, but it definitely sends the romance signal.

So anyway, I’d picked it up, tried reading it, but flamed out in the first few pages. I couldn’t put a finger on it, but it had failed to grab me. Then my wife read it and recommended it to me, so I figured I should give it another shot.

I made it through the first couple of chapters, and by then it had hooked my interest, though I confess it was a struggle. Again, I can’t put a finger on it, but the opening didn’t grab me. It certainly began with some action, but I may have simply become spoiled by the kind of openings that Jim Butcher pulls off.

As it went on, the space opera threads built fairly strongly, but the romance was picking up as well, and it kind of annoyed me. It’s not that I’m against romance. I’m something of a romantic myself – geek romance, admittedly, but still full of all that gooey stuff. However, I think what annoyed me here was the strong emotional/physical combo. They were like two hormonal teenagers who had never felt sexual arousal before and didn’t know what to do with it. Maybe at my age I’m too jaded to remember that with compassion, but mostly it just annoyed me.

So, leaving the romance aside, it was an okay space opera but not great. I also feel that the ending pretty much fizzled. There was this great secret they were trying to track down, and I don’t feel they ever quite got it, and when finally facing off the bad guys at the end, we got a bit of an info dump on their internal factions that seemed tacked on and had not been integral to the plot.

So anyway, if romantic space opera is your thing, give it a try because I suppose the romance part of it was good as far as romance stories go. But if you’re just after some good space opera, I’d say look elsewhere.

Review: Alleluia Files, by Sharon Shinn

I recently read this one in paperback, and it was a delight. It is book three of what I think is now a five-book series, but I don’t know if it’s complete at five or heading towards six or more.

This series is an odd mix of SF and Fantasy. The land of Samaria is ruled by mortal angels, who invoke the power of the god Jovah through song. But lest you think he’s just a figment of the collective imagination, Jovah regularly demonstrates his power through the weather, grain and medicine falling from the sky, and even the occasional wrathful thunderbolt to strike down the wicked. He’s as real as the angels that fly from their mountain-top holds.

But is He really quite what He seems?

That’s the mystery that’s been slowly unraveling over the first three books of the series, but it’s not just philosophers sitting down over coffee to debate the nature of God. There’s action, intrigue, conspiracy, and romance. Actually, quite a bit of romance.

Mind you, I wouldn’t be caught dead reading a Harlequin, but I’ve been known to get a little squishy in the realm of the romantic, and these romances are pretty good. However, I will say that one of them here tripped over one of my cliché alarms, but it didn’t hit it hard. I’d say which cliché, but that would be a spoiler.

All in all, I enjoyed it, but I confess I did not like it as much as the first two. It wasn’t as gripping as I found the first two, and frankly the stakes didn’t seem as high. Also, there was something of a big reveal late in the book that seemed pretty obvious to me from the get-go, so I spent a certain amount of the book waiting with decreasing patience for the characters to put it together.

So, I’d definitely recommend the series, but I’m hoping the next two pick it up a bit.