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Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet BarbariansWhy I read it:  Mistress M and Michele Mills told me I had to urged me to read this one.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women – including me – on an ice planet.

And the only native inhabitant I’ve met? He’s big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Some of my friends have really enjoyed the barbarian/alien SFF erotic romances by Ruby Dixon. Originally released as serials, those of us who need instant gratification can now buy them complete.

Florida girl, Georgie, 22, has been abducted by little green men. There are some other kind of aliens on board who serve as prison guards and they are particularly  not nice (trigger warning: rape).  Georgie is one of 11 other girls (6 of whom are in stasis) “collected” by the green aliens for sale.  The girls have little information but they are not looking forward to whatever will happen next.  When the spaceship they are on suffers a malfunction, the green aliens dump the pod where the girls are held on an ice planet (which they nickname “Not-Hoth”. Heh) and that is where Georgie meets her big blue horned alien, Vektal.

Kaetrin’s favourites of 2014 (part the second)

I read some other wonderful books this year but which were published before (in some cases, well before) 2014 and some which were published on audio for the first time in 2014.  I felt they deserved a mention.  In no particular order:

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly.  I read this one because my friend Merrian sent it to me and because I was on a plane and needed a non-ebook to read during take-off and landing.  I’ve been in a bit of a historical romance slump but this was a delightful surprise.  I was inspired to then buy a whole pile of other Carla Kelly books (all of which currently languish on my TBR – the vast majority of books I buy do that.  Don’t worry Carla Kelly books, you have some awesome company in there.)

MrsDrew

Kaetrin’s Favourites for 2014 (part the first)

I tweeted out my top 10 (or 12 depending on how you count them) books for the year on 17 December so those who follow me on Twitter will not be surprised by this list.  Here’s the version with pretty pictures.  It’s a list of books I liked. That’s it.

These are my favourite new releases for 2014.  It’s not a best of because I’m sure there are many wonderful books on my TBR of Doom or which haven’t made it that far even.  Besides, personal taste being what it is, what does “best” really mean anyway?

I’m not really ranking the top 10.  They were all wonderful and memorable and enjoyable and I loved them.  That said, perhaps the biggest surprise to me is that when I do a “favourite book of 2014. Go!” gut check, the 1st answer which pops into my head isn’t even a romance.  (Do I need to turn in my romance card?) So, I guess, *if pushed* I’d say the number one read was:

themartian

The Martian by Andy Weir.  It’s a cracker of a book.  If a reader has any interest in sci-fi or space travel books at all, I highly recommend it. The science is sound and the writing is engaging and funny and the tension is dialled right up there all the way to the end of the book.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist (heh) to read or understand it (trust me on this) and did I mention that it’s funny?

Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

EthanofAthosWhy I read it:  I’m continuing my Vorkosigan series listen and this one was next.  Or I’d skipped it.  The reading order is somewhat fraught I must say.  In any event, it’s kind of a tangent from the rest of the series so it fit where I was up to well enough.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Dr. Ethan Urquhart, an obstetrician on a planet forbidden to women, is Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Center and one of the busiest men on the planet Athos. Then a mysterious genetic crisis threatens Athos with extinction. Drafted to brave the wider universe for his cloistered fellows in quest of new ovarian tissue cultures, Ethan braces himself for his first encounter with those most alien of aliens–females of his own species.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As is usually the case with books from the Vorkosiverse, I didn’t bother to read the blurb before diving in.  So I had no expectations at all except that very likely Miles would not appear in this one given the title. (I was correct.)

Ethan is a doctor at the Reproduction Centre in the Severin District on Athos.  It quickly becomes apparent that Athos is a very unusual place – there are no females on it. At all.  The babies are all created from sperm donations from the male inhabitants who have earned sufficient “social credits” to be a father and ovarian tissue which is cultured to create egg cells.  Once fertilised via an IVF-like procedure, the fetuses are gestated in uterine-replicators (just like the one in which Miles spent the latter part of his gestation).

The Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Grover Gardner

BordersofinfinityWhy I read it:  This is another from my personal stash.  I was in the mood for a little more Miles Vorkosigan and it was the next one in the series (which I am trying to listen to in order).

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  [A Miles Vorkosigan Story] Miles infiltrates a prison camp at Dagoola IV, where he plots from within to free the prisoners.  [Publisher’s Note: The Borders of Infinity was originally published as a stand-alone novella in the anthology Free Lancers in September 1987. It was then included in the novel Borders of Infinity (October 1989). For the novel, Ms. Bujold added a short “framing story” that tied the three novellas together by setting up each as a flashback that Miles experiences while recovering from bone-replacement surgery. Fictionwise is publishing these novellas separately, but we decided to leave in Ms. Bujold’s short framing story for those who may also wish to read the other two novellas (The Mountains of Mourning and Labyrinth).]

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  In this full length audiobook, the author has created a “framing story” to join the three novellas together.  Miles is recovering from bone replacement surgery and Ilyan, the spymaster, asks him about certain expenses he has incurred in some of his missions.  A rival faction is using a bean counter who is dedicated to counting beans to stir up trouble for Count Aral Vorkosigan and unseat him from the Prime Ministership – Ilyan wants to learn everything about these missions so that he can nip trouble in the bud – even if Miles is resentful of the unsaid accusation of misappropriation.

The Mountains of Mourning

This novella takes place when Miles is only 20 and is on leave shortly after graduating from the Academy.  A woman begs for justice for her murdered baby daughter and Count Aral Vorkosigan sends Miles in his stead to investigate the crime and mete out said justice.  The baby was born with a hare lip and a cleft palate but was managing to feed well enough. Simple plastic surgery could have fixed the defect (should Hara have been able to access the treatment of course) but on Barrayar, birth defects are not tolerated well.  It is particularly so in the remote villages where there is no good communication with the cities and where the people cling to old traditions.  Miles is, of course, a “mutant” himself and his own life was threatened on the basis of his defect before he was even born (see Barrayar).  Things are slowly changing on Barrayar but Aral wants Miles to sent a message that the killing of infants on the basis of a birth defect is NOT OKAY and will no longer be tolerated.  Miles has to use his ingenuity (as always) to sort out the truth and in the process he has to win over people (as always) who judge him on the basis of his physical imperfections.

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