MandaBerry's Books

One person's thoughts on a whole lot of books

Tag Archives: sci-fi

On Basilisk Station by David Weber (Honor Harrington #1)


Honor Harrington in trouble: Having made him look the fool, she’s been exiled to Basilisk Station in disgrace and set up for ruin by a superior who hates her. Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament isn’t sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling, the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called “Republic” of Haven is Up to Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn’t work to police the entire star system. But the people out to get her have made one mistake. They’ve made her mad.

 My Rating: 3 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes, for now

How I got it:

Honestly? I was quite a bit disappointed with this. I didn’t click with the character at all. Maybe my expectations were a bit too high. I really wanted to love this book since if I did, I’d have to consume the rest of the series in rapid succession. The vast number of books in this series would have kept me occupied for months. I still have the book, and I think I may give it another go, but it’s at the bottom of the TBR mountain, so it may be a while. That may turn out to be a good thing, since it’ll allow me to get all fuzzy on why I didn’t like it. I did pick up the second one just in case, so I’m not counting it out entirely. Now, why didn’t I care for it the first time around? It was Honor herself. I didn’t connect with her at all, and I’m not sure why. I tend to gravitate toward strong female characters that kick butt, and at the time that’s what kind of bender I was on. I had read an installment in the Heris series, I had read one in the Confederation series by Tanya Huff, and I was all ready for feeding the Girl Power mood I was in when this brought me up short. I just don’t know what it was about Honor that just didn’t do it for me. Maybe when I reread it, I’ll either figure it out or change my mind. Here’s to changing my mind ūüėČ


Armored edited by John Joseph Adams


Armor up for a metal-pounding feast of action, adventure and amazing speculation by topnotch writers (including Nebula-award winner Jack McDevitt,¬†Sean Williams, Dan Abnet, Simon Green, and Jack Campbell) on a future warrior that might very well be just around the corner.¬† Science fiction readers and gamers have long been fascinated by the idea of going to battle in suits of powered combat armor or at the interior controls of giant mechs. First, when the armor starts to take over, even the generals may be at its mercy‚Äďand under its control. Then solve the problem of armored rescue when irradiated vacuum stands between the frail flesh of the living and safety.¬† And what happens when the marriage of soldier and armor becomes a bit¬†too¬†intimate‚ÄĒand that marriage goes sour!

It’s an armor-plated clip of hard-hitting tales featuring exoskeleton adventure with fascinating takes on possible future armors ranging from the style of personal power suits seen in Starship Troopers and Halo to the servo-controlled bipedal beast-mech style encountered inMechwarrior and Battletech. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

Anthologies, for me, have always been a mixed bag. Most of the time they just don’t do it for me. Granted there’s usually one or two stories that I enjoy, but a majority just don’t cut it. Not so with this anthology. In Armored, there were only one or two stories that I didn’t quite care for, but the rest I enjoyed reading immensely. I think John Joseph Adams may be my new favorite anthology editor. Considering I have two or three more anthologies sitting on my shelves that he put together, that makes me really excited to read them. Eventually. I’m not going to do any kind of full review of each story, but just a bare bones line or two piece of my mind, if even that.

The Johnson Maneuver by Ian Douglas -> 4 out of 5

Hel’s Half-Acre by Jack Campbell -> 5 out of 5

Jungle Walkers by David Klecha and Tobias S. Buckell -> 3 out of 5

The Last Run of the Coppelia by Genevieve Valentine -> 5 out of 5

Death Reported of Last Surviving Veteran of Great War by Dan Abnett -> 3 out of 5

The Cat’s Pajamas by Jack McDevitt -> 5 out of 5

Find Heaven and Hell in the Smallest Things by Simon R. Green -> 3 out of 5

Power Armore: A Love Story by David Barr Kirtley -> 4 out of 5

The Last Days of the Kelly Gang by David D. Levine -> 3 out of 5

Field Test by Michael A. Stackpole -> 4 out of 5

Trauma Pod by Alastair Reynolds -> 4 out of 5

Contained Vacuum by David Sherman -> 3 out of 5

You Do What You Do by Tanya Huff -> 5 out of 5

Nomad by Karin Lowachee -> 5 out of 5

Human Error by John Jackson Miller -> 4 out of 5

Transfer of Ownership by Christie Yant -> 3 out of 5

Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine by Ethan Skarstedt and Brandon Sanderson -> 3 out of 5

Don Quixote by Carrie Vaughn -> 3 out of 5

The Poacher by Wendy N. Wagner and Jak Wagner -> 3 out of 5

The Green by Lauren Beukes -> 3 out of 5

Sticks and Stones by Robert Buettner -> 3 out of 5

Helmet by Daniel H. Wilson -> 3 out of 5

The N-Body Solution by Sean Williams -> 2 out of 5

I was happy to see two of my favorite authors in the mix – Tanya Huff and Karin Lowachee. There were a couple stories I was just “blah” about, and one that I just didn’t understand how it ended. Despite that, I would definitely recommend this to any fan of sci-fi and fans of Starship Troopers, Armor, and Halo.¬†Not all of these stories feature armor being used in a military situation, and I thought it was great that there was a nice mix of situations where armor was involved.

Hunting Party by Elizabeth Moon (Familias #1)


Heris Serrano–formerly a commander in the Regular Space Service–must take whatever job she can get after her resignation under a cloud. What she can get is the captaincy of a rich old lady’s space yacht…a rich old horsewoman, who has little liking for the military, and whose spoiled nephew Ronnie (and his equally spoiled friends) have been foisted on her after his folly embarrassed the family. Lady Cecelia’s only apparent interest is horses–she intends to go fox hunting on the private pleasure planet of a friend of hers, Lord Thornbuckle. But events conspire to make it far more than a fox hunt.


My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it:

I enjoyed this one. Strong female characters? Yep. Mystery and intrigue? Yep. It’s not an “in your face” military sci-fi book, but it definitely has some strong military undertones, since Heris is still reacting to her resignation and reflects quite a bit on events then versus events now. Lady Cecelia is a feisty old lady, and I enjoyed seeing the nature of the interactions between Heris and Cecelia evolve as the book went on. I wasn’t too keen on all the information about horses and fox hunting, but I let it slide as being pertinent to the story and didn’t focus too much on it. Other than that, I flew threw this one and wound up going through the entire series within a few months. It’s not heavy, thought provoking reading. It’s fun action/adventure in space, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite series and characters tend to be strong female characters, but hey, what can I say. I guess I have a type.

If you enjoy a strong female cast, action, adventure, and mystery, you should definitely check this out. This is the first in a set of 7. Hunting Party is the first in a trilogy that focuses mainly on Heris and Lady Cecelia. This is followed by a trilogy featuring Esmay Suiza, who is introduced in the last of the Heris books. The last book of the series is Against the Odds which is the final culmination of all the political unrest, and shenanigans, and the militaristic implications of the different plots. This one doesn’t solely focus on one set of characters, but alternates around to the different storylines that have been introduced throughout all the previous books.

Replay by Ken Grimwood


Jeff Winston, forty-three, didn’t know he was a replayer until he died and woke up twenty-five years younger in his college dorm room; he lived another life. And died again. And lived again and died again ‚ÄĒ in a continuous twenty-five-year cycle ‚ÄĒ each time starting from scratch at the age of eighteen to reclaim lost loves, remedy past mistakes, or make a fortune in the stock market. A novel of gripping adventure, romance, and fascinating speculation on the nature of time,¬†Replay¬†asks the question: “What if you could live your life over again?”

My Rating: 2 out of 5

Bookshelf: No

How I got it:

This wasn’t my favorite. The concept was interesting, and I do enjoy me some time travel stories, but this just didn’t click with me. It’s not that it was poorly written, or that there was anything wrong with it. I didn’t feel connected or concerned about the character, and that, to me, is an important factor. Why should I spend my time reading about a character that I don’t really care about? There are just too many other amazing books out there with characters I could feel something for. I don’t necessarily mean I want to love every character that crosses my path, but even dislike and distaste are welcome rather than not feeling anything. At least then you care if they get their comeuppance.

I also couldn’t help myself by constantly having the movie Groundhog Day pop in my head. It’s the same type of very basic story. Instead of just the one day, this man gets to relive his last 25 years over and over again. It’s interesting to see the different choices he makes each time, but I still couldn’t get that comparison out of my head.

Now, just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you either. If you’re interested in time travel, or a different take on the whole Groundhog Day scenario, give this a shot. It wasn’t a complete waste of time for me because it made me consider a few different “what if” scenarios about what I’d do in that situation, and that was entertaining enough for me.


Wess’har Wars Series by Karen Traviss

The Wess’har Wars series feature Shan Franklin as the main protagonist, but there are quite a number of secondary supporting characters that have significant roles in the series. There are 6 books in the series, and the first is The City of Pearl. Shan Frankling, an Environmental Hazard Enforcement officer is sent on a mission with Marines and scientists to a distant planet. They arrive in the midst of the beginnings of a conflict between 3 different alien cultures who all have claims for the planet they arrived on. For a further synopsis read the back flap blurb in the review of The City of Pearl.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this series. It became one of my favorite places to visit, and I was sad to see it come to an end. For my review on the first in the series (City of Pearl), just click on the picture and voila! If you like your sci-fi with a heavy dose of alien culture and world building, this is definitely something to check out. It may also be of interest to readers that enjoy sci-fi with strong female characters, a strong military presence/mindset, ¬†or are interested in possible environmental policy driven plots and subplots. If you’d like to read more, just click on the link under the pictures, and I promise I won’t get too spoilery. If you’re concerned that I may let something slip, just know that this was something different from the sci-fi I had read before, and I really enjoyed it. Check it out.

My Rating (series as a whole): 5 out of 5

For my more specific thoughts on the individual books, click here

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #1)


Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Traded at a local used book store

Full review when you click me

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

from the back of the book

Everything is different.

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma – so she’s been told – and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions.

What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she, really?

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

I really enjoyed this. It’s so hard to find really excellent YA sci-fi, and this is definitely a good example. I’m so tired of the main story in YA sci-fi focusing on the relationship angle. I understand it’s geared towards teens, and for a lot of them, relationships are a big deal, but you have to give them some credit. Some of them want more from their books, surely? I see Twilight still flying off the shelves, so maybe not…..anyway. I loved this. Really. The plot kept me guessing, and I wasn’t able to figure things out in advance of the pacing, which is always a good thing. I haven’t really read much sci-fi that focuses on medical advancements and the human body, and this definitely was a good introduction to those types of books. I guess I could more accurately describe this book as dystopian sci-fi that focuses on medicine, technology, and the parent/child relationship. If you enjoyed Unwind by Neal Shusterman, or maybe even the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, you may enjoy this.

Review: Keeping it Real by Justina Robson (Quantum Gravity #1)

 Keeping It Real by Justina Robson  (Quantum Gravity #1)

From the back of the book

The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. ¬†The fabric that kept the universe’s different dimensions apart was torn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, among others, the elven, elemental, and demonic realms. ¬†Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology. ¬†Elves are exotic, erotic, dangerous, and really bored with the constant Lord of the Rings references. ¬†Elementals are a law unto themselves, and demons are best left well to themselves. ¬†Special agent Lila black used to be pretty, but now she’s not so sure. ¬†Her body is now more than half restless carbon and metal alloy machinery – a machine she’s barely in control of. ¬†It goes into combat mode, enough weapons for a small army springing from within itself, at the merest provocation. ¬†As for her heart…well ever since being drawn into a Game by the elven rock star she’s been assigned to protect, she’s not even sure she can trust that anymore either.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I Got It: Bought

Awesome! Elves, cyborgs, magic, action, fairies, and tons of other stuff. Seems like it would be too packed with supernatural beings, but it makes sense in the story. I enjoyed the multitude of action scenes, and the snappy banter between the characters (including the Lord of the Rings references!). There was more sex than I usually like in my books, but not enough to feel like I was reading smut. This ties into the whole “why I don’t like romance in my novels” discussion. ¬†The sex scenes didn’t take away from the story, but were very much part of the plot (well, except for one, but I’ll overlook it). ¬†I haven’t read any books before that featured a cyborg as the main character and I really enjoyed it. ¬†It tackled some cyborg-related issues, such as “how much machine does it take to no longer be considered a human” and the “where do I fit in now?” issue. ¬†This was a very fun read and I can’t wait to read the others in the series.

Review: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (Sirantha Jax #1)

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre  (Sirantha Jax #1)

From the back of the book

By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…as the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace – a talent that cuts into her life expectancy but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. ¬†But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. ¬†It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: She has no memory of the crash. ¬†Imprisoned and subjected to a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. ¬†Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom – for a price. ¬†March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel – and establish a new breed of jumper. ¬†Jax is only good at one thing – grimspace – and it will eventually kill her. ¬†So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

My Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: No

How I Got It: Bought

The back of the book sounded interesting and I’m a big fan of space opera but this one didn’t work for me. ¬†It wasn’t that it was horribly written, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. ¬†The main problem I had was that the ratio of action to romance was about 30:70. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional romantic subplot, but not when it feels like the romantic plot overrides the story. ¬†It also may have something to do with the misleading blurb on the back of the book. ¬†A little warning would have been nice. ¬† It reminded me of Urban Fantasy since alot of the books in that genre have a very strong romantic element (not all of them, which is why I enjoy the Rachel Morgan series by Kim Harrison, but that’s for another post.) ¬†If you enjoy Urban Fantasy and you want to take the leap to more space oriented sci-fi, then I would definitely recommend this for you. ¬†If you like your space opera to have more action than anything, then this may not be for you. ¬†There were instances where the character kicked butt, but they were rare occasions. ¬†I can see why other people may enjoy this, but I didn’t enjoy it enough to want to read the rest of the series.

Review: Cagebird by Karin Lowachee (Warchild Universe #3)

 Cagebird by Karin Lowachee (Warchild series #3)

From the back of the book

At age four, Yuri Kirov watched his home colony destroyed by the alien enemy. ¬†By six, he was a wounded soul, fending for himself in a desolate refugee camp, and still a child when the pirates found him. ¬†Now twenty-two, Yuri is a killer, a spy, an arms dealer, and a pirate captain himself – doing life in prison. ¬†That is until EarthHub Black Ops agents decide to make Yuri their secret weapon in a covert interstellar power grab. ¬†Released from jail, but put on a leash by the government, Yuri is more trapped than ever. ¬†Controlled by men even more ruthless than the brigands he’s ordered to betray, Yuri is back again in deep space where his survival depends on a dangerous act: trusting a stranger’s offer to help…

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

Bookshelf: Yes

How I got it: Bought

I Really Don’t Recommend Reading This Unless You’ve Read The Previous Books In The Series