Tag Archives: alien encounter

Friday Faceoff – The Year of the Rat… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffratcovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week the theme for finding covers is RATS in honour of the Chinese New Year, which is the Year of the Rat. I’ve selected a book from a sci fi classic book series The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge – Book 4 of the the Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison.

 

This edition was produced by Ace Books in November 1986 and I just love that rat! Sadly, the rest sums up a lot of what I HATE in cover design. Someone went to the trouble of producing a really cool image. Then stuffed it in the bottom third of the cover, ensuring the rest of the cover is covered in a lot of chatter, interspersed with an uninspiringly pale blue title and author font.

 

Published in 1976 by Sphere Books, this edition is a far better effort. I love the horde of aliens sprinting towards us – an unusual tactic – but so very effective. The spaceships just add to the drama and incident, drawing my eye and keeping me riveted. And that isn’t the best thing about this one – it’s the wonderful bright colouring that sings out. The greenish hue around the alien warriors, looking threatening and the brighter orange shading around those ships – it’s so cleverly done. When looking down the list of covers, this one shouted at me. This is my favourite.

 

This edition, published by Bantam Books in July 1989, is another really striking effort. Again, I think the use of colour is both clever and effective in snagging readers’ attention. That bright yellow background is a fabulous contrast to the strong red title font. It’s interesting to note the ‘Bladerunner’ vibe in the styling of the cover design, particularly the figures.

 

This edition, produced by Berkley in February 1973, is frankly weird. Again the bright colouring pops, but what draws the eye here are those odd shapes. The man emerging from the mirrored metal female torso seems more disturbing, than anything else… I haven’t read this one, so I’m not sure what it is supposed to denote. Though many sci fi covers from that time made a point of featuring naked women, so perhaps this was as close as they could get…

 

This edition, published by Faber and Faber in 1971, is so nearly my favourite. I love the rat, looking suitably ferocious with a wind-up key in the side that adds an offbeat tone to the whole thing. And that funky font is clearly futuristic. This whole cover gives a sense of the genre with a strong humorous overtone – which as far as I can gather, is spot on as far as the book is concerned. What tipped the scales against it, is the rather dreary monochrome treatment – I would have appreciated more colour in this cover.

What strikes me is how remarkably different these covers all are, given they are for the same book! Which one is your favourite?

Friday Faceoff – Take Me to Your Leader… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffvintagescificovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring VINTAGE SCI FI covers. I’ve selected Have Space Suit – Will Travel by Robert Heinlein.

 

This edition was produced by Del Rey Books in May 1985 and is purposely recreating a cover used on a much earlier edition – this one was originally published in 1958. I really like this one. Yes… I know it has a dreadful, intrusive textbox, but at least there is the excuse that back in those days, they were still in vogue. I love detailed artwork – that expression of grumpy surprise on the poor alien beastie is hilarious.

 

Published in July 1987 by New English Library, this one is my favourite. I love the 1950s space suit and the way the light glimmers off it. In fact the artwork on this one is outstanding, with the small town tucked up for the night adding to the sense of place – and not a nasty, intrusive textbox to be seen!

 

This edition, published by Ace in June 1975, is rather weird and quirky. Those odd faces surrounding the worried-looking young man in the jaunty spacesuit look comedic. As far as I can gather, this one is a very early YA space opera adventure, though I’m unsure if it is supposed to be particularly funny.

 

This edition, produced by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1958, certainly packs a visual punch. That vivid yellow background really draws the eye and works very well with the brilliant red figure – and I’m impressed no one added anything else. I was surprised to learn this was one of the original covers – it feels far more modern with the funky colours and stripped-back design – again, no textbox to clutter and disfigure.

 

This edition, published by New English Library in June 1985, is another strong offering. I love that beautiful, multi-coloured backdrop, while that foreshortened figure is seen from below – a really unusual viewpoint. This attractive and original cover manages to be stylish and different, yet still keeps within the genre. This one is definitely a contender. Which is your favourite?

Review of INDIE Ebook Valkyrie Burning – Book 3 of the Hayden War Cycle by Evan Currie #Brainfluffbookreview #ValkyrieBurningbookreview

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I have read and enjoyed the two previous books in this series, particularly the first one, On Silver Wings – see my review here. So I was pleased to see that Himself had also picked this one up…

BLURB: The war that began on Hayden’s World years ago has blossomed into a brawl across the stars, and yet that single and otherwise largely unimportant colony continues to be a central point in the conflagration. Human forces have pushed outward, now taking enemy worlds in response to the attacks on their own, but they don’t have the numbers or the power to hold what they take. Now the alien Alliance shows a sliver of it’s true power, and the war for domination of the skies over Hayden burns brightly once more…

I have cut short the rather chatty blurb, but you do get the gist – this is a continuation of the military space opera adventure featuring Sorilla Aida as a super soldier who ends up back down on the planet Hayden, once again. Inevitably as this adventure has worn on, we get a wider number of characters pulled into the story as there are also sections from the viewpoint of the aliens who are attacking Hayden. They seem rather too similar in outlook and culture to the human commanders embroiled in this war, however this is not a dealbreaker.

Currie has a fluid writing style that whips the story along with plenty of pace and action. What I did miss from this slice of the adventure was enough of Sorilla who I fell in love with during On Silver Wings and I would have liked to have seen more of her – especially after that amazing stunt she pulls with the space tether. The outstanding aspect of this book are the space battles, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Currie has set out the rules by which his technology works and gives his reader a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the ships embroiled in his battles, which works really well. There was a shocking outcome which reminded me all over again that Currie is not afraid to kill off characters that I’ve grown to enjoy.

I found this an entertaining and readable adventure and look forward to more Hayden goodness in the future. Recommended for fans of military space opera.
8/10

Review of KINDLE Ebook Navigating the Stars – Book 1 of the Sentinels of the Galaxy series by Maria V. Snyder #Brainfluffbookreview #NavigatingtheStarsbookreview

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I have enjoyed Snyder’s writing for a while – see my reviews of Poison Study, Scent of Magic and Taste of Darkness. This one somehow by-passed me completely, but when I saw the buzz about the second book in this YA science fiction series, I got hold of this one when it was one special offer…

BLURB: Seventeen-year-old Lyra Daniels can’t truly blame Einstein or her parents for their impending move across the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s all due to the invention of the Q-net, which made traveling the vast distances in space possible—with one big caveat: the time dilation. But that never stopped Lyra’s ancestors from exploring the Milky Way, searching for resources and exoplanets to colonize. What they didn’t expect to find is life-sized terracotta Warriors buried on twenty-one different exoplanets.
… Make that twenty-two. As the Galaxy’s leading experts on the Warriors, Lyra’s parents are thrilled by the new discovery, sending them—and her—fifty years into the future.

I shortened the rather chatty blurb, but you get a sense of the tone of the story at the beginning of this thoroughly entertaining, bouncy science fiction adventure. Lyra is an incredibly resilient character, whose initial grief at losing her friends when moving away with her parents, doesn’t stop her for long. Ultra-bright and with a low boredom threshold, she soon gets herself into some bother by illegally hacking (Snyder calls it worming) into the powerful information system, the Q-net. This has consequences… I will not go into further detail because I don’t want to spoil the plot.

I was thoroughly held by the eventful story that whipped along with plenty of pace and action, while providing interesting characterisation along the way. I love it when an author manages to achieve a cracking good tale peopled by solidly rounded characters. The romance is well handled with some sweet moments, yet doesn’t hijack the story with too much angst. And thank goodness there is no love triangle.

Any niggles? I do think that Lyra is verging on being a Mary Sue. It’s her Q-net skills that trigger some major investigations and she also is the only one that is able to see a hidden, lethal risk to those living on the planet. But while I registered this issue, it wasn’t a dealbreaker and I relaxed into Snyder’s pacey storytelling, thoroughly enjoying the ride. And I will be looking around for the next book in the series, given that while the initial story was satisfactorily, concluded those dangling plotpoints leave me wanting more.

Recommended for fans of YA science fiction adventure with plenty of incident and excitement.
8/10

Sunday Post – 1st December, 2019 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

It’s been a busy week. On Wednesday, Tim had his exam. I drove him and his mother to college and we waited for him in the canteen, praying and thinking positive thoughts at him. It would be marvellous if he could pass this one. On Wednesday evening, owing to a complete brainfade moment, I realised I had a major glitch with the publication of Mantivore Prey owing to the fact that I’d – somehow – managed to forget to upload the manuscript! So I was wrestling with that problem into the wee small hours… I have to say, Amazon were unfailingly nice and helpful about the whole thing – and it was a huge relief to have Mantivore Prey available by the original publication day!

On Thursday, Sally came over and we spent the afternoon editing her book, which is going well. And on Friday, which thankfully was a lovely sunny day, I finally made it up to my daughter’s to spend time with her and watch my eighteen-month-old granddaughter having a swimming lesson. Yesterday, my sister had all her furniture moved to her new home, which now looks wonderful with her own things in it. I spent some of the time with her, mostly providing moral support as her removal men were fantastic. And today I am back to Brighton to celebrate Frankie’s fifteenth birthday – where does the time go??

Himself is finally back to work, though still on the painkillers and far from fully recovered. He needs to keep moving – sitting still for any length of time is a problem – and keep doing the exercises.

As well as the publication of Mantivore Prey I’ve had a complete blast throughout November, taking part if Sci Fi Month, which was great fun. Thanks go to Imyril of There’s Always Room for One More and Lisa of Dear Geek Place for their hard work in making this blogging event such a success.

Last week I read:

Valkyrie Burning – Book 3 of the Hayden War Cycle by Evan Currie
The war that began on Hayden’s World years ago has blossomed into a brawl across the stars, and yet that single and otherwise largely unimportant colony continues to be a central point in the conflagration. Human forces have pushed outward, now taking enemy worlds in response to the attacks on their own, but they don’t have the numbers or the power to hold what they take.
This third book nicely expands this initial flashpoint between the humans and the aliens in the military space opera adventure. And I was also pleased to see that the wonderful super-soldier Sorilla Aida has a key role in the story. Review to follow.

 

Navigating the Stars – Book 1 of the Sentinels of the Galaxy by Maria V. Snyder
Terra Cotta Warriors have been discovered on other planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. And Lyra Daniels’ parents are the archaeological Experts (yes with a capital E) on the Warriors and have dragged her to the various planets to study them despite the time dilation causing havoc with her social life.
When one of the many Warrior planets goes silent, and looters attack her research base, Lyra becomes involved in discovering why the Warriors were placed on these planets. And, more importantly, by who.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one – the ongoing puzzle of exactly what is going on, along with the issue of time dilation combined with Faster Than Light travel, makes for an engrossing read with some original aspects. Review to follow.

My posts last week:

Mantivore Prey – Book 2 of The Arcadian Chronicles is now available!

Reblog – Parley with an author, S.J. Higbee by The Cap from Captain’s Quarters blog

Friday Faceoff featuring Chocky by John Wyndham

Reblog – Review of Breathing Space – Book 3 of The Sunblinded Trilogy by The Cap from Captain’s Quarters blog

Review of Sparrow Falling – Book 2 of The Gears of Empire series by Gaie Sebold

Reblog – Review of Dying for Space – Book 2 of The Sunblinded Trilogy by The Cap from Captain’s Quarters

Review of Shadow Captain – Book 2 of the Revenger series by Alastair Reynolds

Reblog – Review of Running out of Space – Book 1 of The Sunblinded Trilogy by The Cap from Captain’s Quarters

Teaser Tuesday featuring Navigating the Stars – Book 1 of the Sentinels of the Galaxy by Maria V. Synder

Review of Pirate Bound – prequel to the Telepathic Space Pirate series by Carysa Locke

Sunday Post 24th November 2019

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last few weeks, in no particular order:

Frozen Wavelets presents: Standard Deviant by Holly Shofield https://earthianhivemind.net/2019/11/30/frozen-wavelets-presents-standard-deviant-by-holly-shofield/ This short story is a gem – I certainly didn’t see that ending coming!

The Best Poems About Islands https://interestingliterature.com/2019/11/30/the-best-poems-about-islands/ Living on a large island, this article caught my eye. Some of these I know and love – and some I need to check out…

#SPFBO Semi Finalists and Finalist Announcement https://lynns-books.com/2019/11/27/spfbo-semi-finalists-and-finalist-announcement/ I’m in awe of how my blogging buddy, Lynn, tackles the task of judging this competition that features some of the best indie fantasy reads – and this is the book that she has selected from an entry of 30 books…

Writing NETTED – What I’d Planned and How It Worked Out by S.J. Higbee https://www.sarah-ash.com/fantasy-and-science-fiction/2343/writing-netted-what-id-planned-and-how-it-worked-out-by-s-j-higbee/ I was honoured when Sarah Ash, talented fantasy author and manga expert, asked me to write a guest blog about my writing process – and this is the result…

99 Problems and #Fibromyalgia Is All of Them https://yadadarcyyada.com/2019/11/22/99-problems-and-fibromyalgia-is-all-of-them/ Donna uses edged humour to highlight just how difficult it is to live with a chronic condition with a slew of miserable symptoms. I found this both poignant and funny – and came away with a huge respect for her courage…

Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog – I hope you have a wonderful week.

Friday Faceoff – The 60s isn’t over until the fat lady gets high… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffscifi60scovers #SciFiMonth2019

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring SCI FI 60s COVERS. I’ve selected Chocky by John Wyndham. I’m linking this post with Sci Fi Month 2019.

 

This Turkish edition was produced by Delidolu Yayınları in April 2018 – I love this one. The quirky 60s vibe with the restrained colour palette and the funky font is delightful and really eye-catching. This one is my favourite.

 

Published in August 2015 by NYRB Classics, this is another cover that goes back to the 60s sci fi psychedelic vibe for its influence. I love the vibrant orange colouring – also a 60s favourite and the patterns. Unfortunately that dreadful textbox is also a 60s feature, slapped across that lovely artwork and complete with a boringly forgettable font that disappears in thumbnail. Otherwise this cover would certainly have been a contender.

 

This Bulgarian edition, published by Георги Бакалов in 1979, is far more about the 1970s than the 60s. That is definitely a 70s haircut, and while I understand what they are trying to achieve, I think this effect manages to make poor Matthew look more like an alien. Frankly, I hate this one.

 

This edition, produced by Penguin Classics in March 2010, has really grown on me. I love the outline drawings and trying to make out exactly what is going on. The clean, uncluttered effect is complemented by that iconic 60s font, which really pops. This is clever and original – and runs a very close second to that first cover as my favourite.

 

This edition, published in 1987 by Penguin is the successful version of what that Bulgarian edition is attempting. The red colouring really pops against that fabulous title font, while that fractured stare of the young boy is both eye-catching and creepy. My trouble with this offering is that the genre it projects isn’t quirky sci fi featuring a young schoolboy and a curious alien who became his pretend friend – it looks more like a horror tale… Which is your favourite?

Book review of LIBRARY book Castaway Planet – Book 4 of the Boundary series by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor #Brainfluffbookreview #CastawayPlanetbookreview #SciFiMonth2019

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I saw the familiar brightly coloured, retro Baen cover on the shelves and swooped upon this one – I generally enjoy science fiction adventures produced by this publisher – would I like this one? I have linked this review to Sci Fi Month 2019.

BLURB: Lost in the dark, half a year into their journey to the colony world of Tantalus, Sakura Kimei, her family, and her best friend, the alien “Bemmie” nicknamed Whips, are torn from the safety of their colony ship. In a crippled lifeboat, they had one chance to find a habitable world. But even then, they would find that their apparent salvation was a world of a thousand secrets.

Yes, yes – I know. Book 4… and I haven’t read any others in this series. But my foolish ways once more paid off – this is clearly a new entry point into this series, because due to the nature of this adventure, previous characters and actions simply didn’t matter. Think Swiss Family Robinson in space – this book has the same upbeat energy and painstaking attention to detail regarding their survival adventures I recall from that classic I read a lifetime ago. The planet they have landed on has some intriguing differences regarding the way the land and sea interact, which impacts on all the creatures they discover. While the climate and landmass is a lot more temperate and suited to humans and bemmies than it might have been, the eco-system throws up all sorts of hazards.

I loved this one. It took me back to the likes of Robinson Crusoe and one I enjoyed even more – Coral Island. The family dynamic worked well – though it was an improbably cosy and peaceable family where there were hardly any quarrels and the parents were invariably united and supportive of each other. But that’s okay – given it was the situation that powered the narrative, I was quite happy to accept the characters’ slightly unrealistic positivity for the sake of the storyline, which was brought to an entirely satisfactory conclusion. Highly recommended for fans of space colony adventures.
8/10

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Starship Alchemon by Christopher Hinz #Brainfluffbookreview #StarshipAlchemonbookreview #SciFiMonth2019

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It was the cover of this one that caught my eye – and the interesting premise which seemed to promise a new twist to the classic trope of a nasty alien thing brought aboard and causing havoc… I’m also linking this review to @SciFiMonth2019.

BLURB: Far from Earth, the AI-guided vessel Alchemon discovers a bizarre creature whose malignant powers are amplified by the presence of LeaMarsa de Host, a gifted but troubled Psionic. The ship is soon caught in a maelstrom of psychic turbulence that drives one crewmember insane and frees the creature from its secure containment. Now Captain Ericho Solorzano and the survivors must fight for their lives against a shrewd enemy that not only can attack them physically, emotionally and intellectually, but which seeks control of their sentient ship as a prelude to a murderous assault on the human species.

Indeed, if this type of adventure lights your fuses, then this offering comes highly recommended. The story is as cosily familiar as a cup of evening cocoa – a highly talented, but disruptive member of the crew that either clashes or attracts that fascinating-but-lethal thingy which has been brought aboard for further research, despite the foreboding of senior crew members.

The story was a bit slow to get going, as Hinz writes on the harder side of the sci fi spectrum, so there is a fair bit of tech stuff to get through. It seemed enjoyably plausible, though I did find, in common with many books within this sub-genre, that the characterisation suffered. So no one is written in much depth and as a consequence, I didn’t really care all that much for anyone. However, as the stakes went on rising, that became beside the point, anyhow as there were deaths amongst the crew that took me by surprise.

The pace certainly picked up as the story wore on and by the final quarter, it became difficult to put down as I was keen to discover how this one was going to end. I really couldn’t predict exactly which way this one was going. Hinz’s experience showed in his deft handling of the denouement – the snag with raising the stakes, is that the payoff needs to be sufficiently satisfying so that the conclusion doesn’t fall flat. It didn’t.

All in all, this was a classic sci fi alien encounter with plenty going on, and if lacked something in originality and character depth, it made up for it in the steadily rising tension and successful ending. Recommended for those who enjoy their sci fi from the golden era. The ebook arc copy of Starship Alchemon was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
7/10

Teaser Tuesday – 12th November, 2019 #Brainfluffbookblog #TeaserTuesday

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This is my choice of the day:

Mantivore Prey – Book 2 of The Arcadian Chronicles
Ch 2: For once it wasn’t raining, but a chilly wind sliced through my nightgown as if it wasn’t there. Freezing cold and rigid with fear, I tried shifting sideways along the sill towards the open window. But it was too far and I was too afraid.
A square of light blazed around me, blinding my dark-adapted sight.
“Vrox?” Relief poured through me that he’d sprinted to my rescue, or alerted the guards, after all.
“Kyrillia? Where are you?”
A stab of disappointment that it wasn’t Vrox pierced my thankful joy at being discovered. Because that means… “Seth! I’m outside the window. On the sill. And-and I can’t get back.”

BLURB: Newly installed as the ruler of the colony planet Arcadia, Kyrillia is acutely aware she’s walking a tightrope. If the truth comes out about who’s really in charge, neither she nor Seth will survive. And the consequences for Vrox will be even worse.

Living in a palace and being waited on hand and foot sounds like a dream come true, but to Kyrillia it’s a nightmare. Patronised and side-lined by the Gloriosans; neglected by Seth; constantly cold and ailing, she finds Vrox’s terrifying fits of rage increasingly difficult to contend with. Day by day, her dreams of improving the lives of the poverty-stricken folks she grew up with are fading away.

And then devastating news from home changes everything…

This is the second book in my Arcadian Chronicles series, charting the adventures of Kyrillia and the ancient telepathic alien, Vrox, who is MindLinked to her. Mantivore Prey is available for pre-order on Amazon, and due to be released on 30th November. There are also arc copies available at Booksprout, if anyone would like a review copy.

Review of INDIE Ebook Bright Shards – Book 2 of the Vardeshi Saga by Meg Pechenick #Brainfluffbookreview #BrightShardsbookreview #Sci Fi Month 2019

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I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, Ascending – see my review, so was delighted when I heard that the next book was now available. Would it continue the quality of the first instalment? I will be adding this review to the Sci Fi Month 2019 Challenge.

BLURB: Linguist Avery Alcott has spent three months proving herself to her Vardeshi companions and earning their respect. She arrives at Arkhati, the space station halfway between Earth and Vardesh Prime, eager to continue her adventure. But the next stage of her mission brings its own challenges. In the months to come, new alliances and old friendships will be tested. Avery will question her purpose and her place among the Vardeshi, and she will discover that the most memorable journeys are the ones we can’t predict.

I read this one on a train journey and was fully engrossed to the extent that it was a relief that I wasn’t getting off before the train terminated – because I would have been at risk of missing my station. Avery isn’t a brilliant fighter and she is often far too self-effacing. She is stubbornly loyal, to the point where she is blind to the wider picture and given that she is part of an extended first-contact exchange visit, this isn’t just a quirky cuteness – it’s a major failing. And yet… I absolutely love her. She is also courageous and while she might not possess much in the way of kickass ninja fighting skills, she is physically tough and reasonably resilient.

The supporting characters are also well done. I particularly liked Avery’s interaction with Fletcher Simon, the language genius, who has eclipsed her own ability in picking up the Vardeshi dialects and we also get to meet up again with the likes of Zey and Hathan, the aliens serving on the disgraced ship, who are desperate to clear their reputations after the events that occurred during the first book.

I enjoyed the way that Pechenick isn’t focusing on big space battles or nasty invasions, but the ongoing wear and tear of being immersed in a culture in which you don’t belong and where you don’t instinctively understand the people around you – because they are aliens. The fact that in many ways they look very much like us only adds to the disconnect. All in all, this is a fascinating continuation of a really interesting series. I am now eagerly awaiting the third book.

Once again, Pechenick manages to keep this intriguing first contact adventure grittily realistic in attention to the details of food preparation, though it is a lot easier now as the scientific teams in the background have now cleared more of the alien foodstuffs as safe for human consumption. I love how there are many similarities – but it’s the jarring differences that can catch her out. Pechenick is also very good at serving up sudden twists and surprises in the storyline that ramps up the stakes and the narrative tension – I really didn’t want to put this one down.

There is a developing romantic sub-plot which is well handled and I enjoyed, though Himself was a bit grumpy about it, as he preferred the story without the mushy stuff. The thing that I liked about it – is there is no mushy stuff. It felt a very grown-up relationship and while there were no cliffhangers, I honestly don’t know whether this is a relationship that will be able to continue. Highly recommended for space opera fans who enjoy intelligent, character-led stories.
9/10