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review 2017-07-17 23:30
Visual novel review - This, My Soul

 

This, My Soul is a free sci-fi visual novel. The first time I saw it, it was listed as “in development.” I was cautiously excited - it looked slick and the android main character interested me, but there was no guarantee it’d ever be completed. I prefer to play finished products rather than demos.

Thankfully, this is now out of “in development” limbo. I’ve played it through three or four times since downloading it, and my final verdict is...meh. It has some really nice and ambitious aspects, but it doesn’t entirely follow through with all of them, and the android-human romance could have been better.

Backing up a bit, the story: You play as a woman who is the sole survivor of a spaceship accident of some sort. The game allows you to choose the woman’s name - if I remember right, the default is “Kyndle.” Kyndle was rescued by a laborer-class android named Silas, who put her in cryogenic sleep. Because the cryogenic pod is old, Kyndle can’t stay asleep for the entire trip back to civilization, but she also can’t stay awake for the full trip. The plan is for her to be awake at the beginning and then go back to sleep near the end.

In the meantime, Silas helps Kyndle get her strength and full range of movement back, and makes sure she regains some of the weight she lost. At times, Kyndle can’t even move without Silas’s help.

Players have several ways they can approach the game: they can be suspicious of Silas and resistant to the idea of being attracted to an android; they can be friendly towards Silas and more than a little attracted; they can be openly flirtatious; or they can be some combination of all three. There are three possible endings, which the developer/author called the Normal end, Friendship end, and Romance end. However, those aren’t really the best way to describe them.

The “normal” end is the one where Kyndle doesn’t really give a crap about Silas and his fate. The “friendship” end is bittersweet - I’d like to think that everything works out for the best, but it isn’t guaranteed. There can be a strong thread of romance leading up to this ending, depending on the options you choose, so it’s not strictly a “friendship” end. The “romance” end definitely ends with Silas and Kyndle together and is probably the best ending for Silas overall, but I still had some issues with it. It doesn’t require that you hit all of the story’s “romantic” scenes, and it presents readers with a happy ending but doesn’t bother to explain how Kyndle and Silas are supposed to achieve that happy ending in the long term.

There were some things I really liked about this visual novel. First, it made an effort at adjusting to reader choices. Early on in the story, readers could decide which job Kyndle had, out of five possible choices. Later conversation options then adjusted to these choices. If Kyndle was a medical officer, then she knew a bit more about cryogenic sleep. If she was a mechanical engineer, she understood a bit more about the ship’s functions. This was kind of nice, but it wasn’t carried out as thoroughly as it could have been. For example, I got really annoyed when medical officer Kyndle became outraged at Silas feeding her high calorie meals in order to increase her weight. I forget her exact words, but it amounted to “women don’t like to gain weight, why didn’t you ask me first.” But as a medical officer she should have understood that her time in cryogenic sleep had left her underweight and that she’d have to gain that weight back before going back to sleep.

This is technically a fairly short visual novel, but its numerous decision points and choices made it feel longer. The sheer number of decisions overwhelmed me at first, but I came to like them more during subsequent playthroughs. The “skip” button definitely helped - as in many visual novels, you could set it to skip text you’d seen before.

That said, I haven’t played through all the possible story choices yet, and I doubt I ever will. I tried, I really did, but some of them really didn’t appeal to me. Like I said earlier on in this review, you could opt to play this game several ways. I preferred being neither hostile/suspicious nor very flirty. The flirty options sometimes made me uncomfortable because Silas seemed so taken aback. In one instance, he even went as far as to remind Kyndle that he was a laborer-class android and not built for anything sexual. To me, his response came across as discomfort, and I really wanted Kyndle to just back off. I had similar problems forcing myself to choose the hostile/suspicious options all the way through.

It was weird how the game was so adaptable in some ways (different wording at certain points depending on the job Kyndle had) and yet so rigid in other ways. For example, during one of my playthroughs I tried to made Kyndle as suspicious as possible. I found myself unable to carry this through all the way to the end, so she became friendlier later in the game. Considering how she had behaved towards Silas up to that point, I’d have expected him to respond coldly or neutrally to almost anything she said, but that wasn’t the case.

There were times when it felt like the romance aspects were being laid on too thick. The worst was probably the massage scene (which I later figured out was skippable without any noticeable effect on the ending). How did a laborer-class android even learn to give a proper massage? I’d have expected medical officer Kyndle to have some questions about that, but nope. I did like the scene in the control room (navigation room?), though.

Art-wise, this was a mixed bag. The sprites looked great, but the CG art was nowhere near as slick and pretty. I wish the person who had done the sprite art had also done the CG art. Also, the music, while appropriate to the setting, wasn’t very memorable.

All in all, this wasn’t bad, but it didn’t work for me nearly as well as I’d hoped it would. Too many points in Kyndle and Silas’s romance made me uncomfortable, and even the happiest of the three endings left me feeling worried that society and/or the corporation that created Silas would tear them apart.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-07-07 05:34
DANGEROUSLY HERS by A.M. Griffin
Dangerously Hers: A Sci-Fi Alien Mated Romance (Loving Dangerously Book 3) - A.M. Griffin
 
 
 
DANGEROUSLY HERS
Loving Dangerously, book 3
by A.M. Griffin
<!--more-->
 

Genre: Sci-Fi Romance

 

Jess hates aliens. After the invasion that destroyed Earth, the extraterrestrial bastards sold her to a brothel as a sex slave. She may have escaped but the old memories and fears still linger in the dark corners of her mind. Supposedly Sonis is just the place for her—somewhere safe, where she can heal and start fresh. She’s almost hopeful…until she meets Rasha, her new boss.
 
Rasha, Captain of the Sonis Royal Guard, is a warrior through and through. He’s huge, sinfully sexy and could have any woman on Sonis—but the woman he wants is Jess. He’s very much an alien and Jess knows she should hate him or at least be wary, but whenever he’s around, she loses control. She tells herself it’s only sex—amazing, mind-blowing sex like nothing else she’s ever experienced—but there’s something about Rasha that shakes her soul. The feel of his skin against hers, the look in his eyes as he touches her—they make her want to believe it’s possible to find love and begin again.

 
 

The guards turned their way and pointed. There was no mistaking it this time. The guards were coming for them and didn't appear too happy about it either. Jess tensed, locked her jaw and balled her fists. JB moved to her side, partially blocking her view.
 
The group of three overly large males stopped in front of them. "JB and Jess?" The bass tones of the speaker's voice resonated in her chest.
 
JB hooked his thumbs in his pants. "Depends on who's asking."
 
The guards exchanged surprised glances and the speaker widened his stance. "Rasha, Captain of the Sonis Royal Guard." He folded his thick arms across his chest and stared down at JB.
 
The way he stood, his movements, his speech, all spoke of leadership. He was big, bigger than the others. His muscles bulged and glistened. All the hours he must have spent perfecting that body... 
 
A moan escaped her lips.
 
Shit. Did I just moan out loud? Her heart skipped a beat as eyes of pure amber locked on hers.
 
"It is you."
 
A nerve ticked in her jaw. She squinted. I don't remember him from the brothel. "Asshole," she said under her breath. He was probably one of them just the same.
 
"Do you have something to say?" the giant asked.
 
Of course she had something to say. She cocked her head to the side. "Lay off the free weights, Gigantor." JB nudged her but she couldn't stop there. "Or stop the prison-themed workouts."
 
Why couldn't she stop? Insults spilled from her mouth at will, especially when she felt threatened, which was now.
 
Before the giant could respond, JB interjected. "Please excuse my ward. What can we do for you?"
 
Jess snorted at JB's use of the word "ward". As if he actually had some control over her actions. Hell, she couldn't even control them.
 
The giant continued to watch her as he said, "I was sent to retrieve you both from the transport bay."
 
"Oh." JB ran a hand through his hair. "Sorry about that. Eva didn't meet us there so we tried to make our own way."
 
The giant broke eye contact with her and studied JB. "I am sure Eva gave you clear instructions to wait."
 
As if we're in the habit of following directions.
 
Jess rolled her eyes. "Pft."
 
The giant glared at her again. "Female, if I want to hear you talk I will ask you a question."
 
She straightened her back. Well now, this might get interesting.
 
JB grabbed her arm, tightening his grip. "Jess, cool it before you get us jumped," he warned.
 
Yeah, she would cool it all right. It wasn't her fault Gigantor hadn't met them sooner.
 
The giant nodded in her direction. "I advise you to keep your female in her place," he said, addressing JB.
 
Really. "Keep me in place?" Jess side stepped around JB. "What makes you think he can?" She thumbed toward JB. "Or that I'm even his to keep in place?"
 
"I swear your mouth is going to get us killed one day." JB moved in front of her and pressed his back against her chest. "Jess, I can maybe survive a fight with one, but not three," he whispered over his shoulder.
 
She should have been afraid. If she were a rational woman she would have cowered behind JB.
 
But she wasn't.
 
 
 
 
 
 

After aliens invade and conquer Earth, Eva is transported to a distant slave-trading planet. Freedom and escape are her only priorities, but none of her martial arts training could have prepared her for enslavement to the warrior King Taio. Eva finds herself drawn to this sexy alien male who ignites her heart and body.
 
Taio is disgusted with the idea of owning a slave—until now. From the moment he sees her, he knows Eva is his for the taking. Torn between lust and duty, Taio discovers nothing will stop him from protecting his little warrior.

 
 

Kane Epps divides his life into two distinct parts—before the alien invasion and after. Before the invasion, he had a pregnant wife and a high-powered job. After the invasion, he’s left with only himself and his hatred for all things alien. He channels his bitterness by captaining a vessel of renegade humans—space pirates who don’t think twice about taking what they need.
 
Princess Sa’Mya is on the run. She and a few trusted advisers fled her home planet only to be captured by the sexy, dangerous Captain Epps. He claims to hate aliens but can’t seem to resist touching her or kissing her…everywhere. As Kane introduces Sa’Mya to ever-increasing, unimaginable realms of pleasure, the princess becomes determined to earn his trust. She’s used to getting what she wants. And this time, what she wants is Kane Epps.


A. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

 
 

 

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review 2017-05-18 03:40
The Course of Honour by Avoliot
The Course of Honour - Avoliot

[The Course of Honour is original m/m sci-fi romance posted on Archive of Our Own. Warning: one of the main characters was in an abusive relationship prior to the beginning of the book - mostly emotionally abusive, but a little physical.]

The Course of Honour stars Prince Kiem of the planet Iskat and Count Jainan of the planet Thea. Five years ago, the Theans sent Jainan to marry Iskat’s Prince Taam in order to secure an alliance. A month before the start of the book, Taam was killed in a flybug (personal aircraft) accident. Kiem learns to his horror that, according to the terms of the treaty, Jainan must remarry and he’s been chosen to be Jainan’s next partner. Jainan’s certainly attractive, but Kiem has never even spoken to him before. Plus, Kiem figures he’s probably still grieving. Not that he and Jainan have any say in the matter - the marriage is scheduled to happen tomorrow.

Right from the start, their marriage is complicated by assumptions and secrets. Jainan and Taam’s marriage wasn’t nearly as solid as they’d led everyone to believe, and Jainan is sure he’s in for more of the same from Kiem. Kiem, meanwhile, just wants to make things as easy as possible for Jainan.

I found out about this via a recommendation that said something to the effect of “it’s m/m sci-fi romance, good, and free.” Considering how many unread e-books I have, I probably shouldn’t have clicked through, but I’m glad I did. I sped through the whole thing in a couple days and would have downloaded more of the author’s works if any had been available.

Part of me feels like I shouldn’t have enjoyed this as much as I did. As I was reading, it felt like there was some kind of background checklist going. If Character A says this, then of course Character B will eventually respond like so. If Characters A and B are in X situation, then of course Y will happen. For example, the instant Kiem and Jainan were stranded in the snowy wilderness, I knew that one of them would end up having to keep the other warm with his body heat and that it would probably lead to sex. (I was right, but I was pleasantly surprised that the sex wasn’t explicit and didn't lead to a sudden sharp increase in sex scenes.)

The world-building was extremely light, even in terms of Iskat vs. Thean culture. And some details and events were a little difficult to believe and probably would have irked me more if I’d stopped and thought more about them. For instance, it took Kiem far longer than I thought it should have to figure out that Taam had been abusing Jainan. I would have thought that a prince, even one as good-natured as Kiem, would have learned at some point not to take everything everyone said and did at face value.

Jainan, too, took longer than I expected to realize that Kiem was nothing like Taam, although I gave him more leeway. His big argument with Kiem felt a bit forced, though, like it only blew up that badly because the story needed him and Kiem to be separated for a bit. And the entire “let’s save Jainan” part felt like it’d fall apart if I examined it too closely. Even a prince with a mother who was a general should have had to do more than smile and show off a video clip of someone’s kid to get that far into a building like that without trouble.

Considering all of that, why did I love this book? The best answer I’ve got is the characters. Kiem was almost aggressively cheerful and charismatic. He remembered everyone, liked almost everyone, and could be shoved into a roomful of strangers and end up making at least half a dozen friends by the time he'd made his way out again. I was worried, at first, that he’d be a useless drunken rogue, but he turned out to not be like that at all. He spent a lot of his time networking and drumming up support for various charities, but he tended to have so much fun that it didn’t always look like he was working.

Jainan was the opposite, completely locked down and tightly controlled. While his and Kiem’s tendency to misread each other was frustrating, it was also a lot of fun - I was really looking forward to seeing them finally get onto something like the same wavelength. In the meantime, it was nice seeing Jainan gradually come out of his shell a bit and rediscover the things he’d enjoyed doing before Taam had boxed him in.

Oh, and I should probably bring up Bel, Kiem’s aide. First, I was happy that this wasn’t one of those m/m romances devoid of female characters with speaking roles. Second, Bel was just a lot of fun. Kiem and Bel made me think of P.G. Wodehouse’s Wooster and Jeeves, a little, although Kiem wasn’t nearly as silly as Bertie Wooster. I’d love to read a story about Bel’s early days as Kiem’s aide. I only had a couple issues with Bel in this book, which mainly had to do with how easily she kept getting pushed to the sidelines so that Kiem and Jainan could get bogged down by their problems without her. I imagine that her general competence and sharp eyes were a problem for the author.

All in all, I enjoyed this immensely. It had its problems, but the characters and sweet romance made up for them.

Additional Comments:

There were a handful of typos, as well as a couple distracting author’s notes that probably should have been removed before the work was marked “completed.” The one that bugged me the most was at the beginning of Chapter 25. It said something about Chapter 26 being late. For a few horrifying moments I thought I’d downloaded a work that hadn’t been finished yet, and I was going to have to wait to get more of the story.

 

Rating Note:

 

Part of me feels like I should score this lower because of the various issues I mentioned, but...nah. I can't guarantee I'd rate it the same if I reread it a year from now, and I doubt I'd have rated it this high if I had paid for it, but this is the rating I think fits it best right now.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-04-27 22:49
Dewey Readathon Reading List - Spring 2017
The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart
A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3) - Margaret Brownley
Deep Deception - Cathy Pegau
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins

My TBR for the read-a-thon is very eclectic.

 

1. The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart (Pop Sugar challenge - book with eccentric character) (Library Love challenge)

           A story about a nosy elderly lady who investigates her new neighbor and tries to uncover the neighbor's secrets. Literary fiction that I really hope doesn't suck due to having a mystery plotline.

 

2. Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (Booklikes-opoly)

           F/F romance set in space. New-to-me author, although I follow her on Twitter because she makes life in Alaska look like fun.

 

3. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverly Jenkins (Booklikes-opoly)

          New-to-me author, and I wanted to tackle one of her latest books to see if I like her writing style before diving into her backlist.

 

4. A Vision of Lucy (Rocky Creek #3) by Margaret Brownley

        Not in a hurry to read this book. The beginning of the book was silly, with too much damsel in distress action that made me roll my eyes. A good laundry day type of book.

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review 2017-03-29 17:10
ARC Review: His Virgin Mate (Interstellar Brides: The Virgins #1) by Grace Goodwin
His Virgin Mate (Interstellar Brides: The Virgins Book 1) - Grace Goodwin
Review originally featured on Angel's Guilty Pleasures
 
His Virgin Mate 

 Interstellar Brides: The Virgins #1  
 Grace Goodwin  
 Science Fiction Romance - Adult 18+  
 Amazon Digital Services LLC  
 March 13, 2017  
 eBook  
 152  
 ARC Review Copy  
 

 

One look, one touch, and there is no denying the heat…

 

Twenty-one and single, Alexis Lopez hopes her lackluster response to men is a problem she’s eager to solve by volunteering for the Interstellar Brides Program. One look at the large, dominant alien who claims she belongs to him sets her body on fire. When he tells her, in explicit detail, how he’ll claim her in every way, she is eager to give her mate everything, body and soul.

 

Von of Everis is a ruthless and high ranking Hunter who’s spent years fighting in the Hive wars. But his bed, and his life, are empty until Alexis arrives. One look at his innocent little bride and he knows she belongs to him.

 

Simple, right? Nope. The match is challenged by one of the most feared warriors on the planet and stolen kisses and mind-numbing pleasure won’t save Von from a deadly duel. But Von is a Hunter, a warrior, a protector, and someone is trying to take what belongs to him. Only him. He will do whatever it takes to protect, save and claim his virgin mate.

 

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

iBooks

GooglePlay

 

 

This is my first Grace Goodwin book. I felt like I was missing something at the beginning and when I took a look at a few other reviews they pointed out that this is a spin-off series from her Interstellar Brides: The Colony.

 

In this series the mates are virgins. For me I have a hard time with virgin heroines and so I had trouble connecting to Alexis. She’s 21, but at times I felt like she was 16-19; a teenager just from the mannerisms and things she says.

 

The opening starts us off in the Interstellar Brides Program testing center. The way this book starts had me lost, the author treats us to a sexual dream of a man Alexis has not meet yet. I was also a little lost on how the Bride’s program works until I got a little further along and a few things got explained. The Brides Program maybe is explained more in the first series. I just don’t know.

 

Something that bothered me was the chairs the women sit in for the testing. I felt it was odd that the facility straps the women down into chairs. Why do they strap them in? It felt to much like experimentation or a torture chair (yep, that’s what popped into my head) until it we got a little and I mean a little explanation on it.

 

Another thing that bothered me was once Alexis gets a match she didn’t ask many, if any questions. I would want to know about the alien planet, world, and get more information before I accept. Information is power.

 

I loved Von our sexy alien. Von of Everis is a Hunter which is a very prominent position on his plant. Hunters are protectors of the weak and keepers of peace and justice on their planet. Von is very alpha and dominate especially in the bedroom though he does make sure his mate is well satisfied. I enjoyed all the Hunter men that we meet even the one vying for Von’s mate. This rival brings a little conflict to the story.

 

As for the relationship I didn’t feel the lust move to love. They have only know each other for three days and on each day they do a different sexual act. Yes, the mate marks are their to instantly connect the couple, but I didn’t feel the change in the relationship. Maybe this has to do with me not connecting to Alexis.

 

I did enjoy the way they claim their mates. It’s new and interesting. The mating ritual consists of three things. What surprised me was anal came before pussy, which is very different from what you would think, especially with her and all the women being virgins. The sex scenes were well written, descriptive, and very steamy.

 

The secondary characters we meet where intriguing and I’m curious to find out, especially with the little teasers we got, what happens with their matches.

 

This is an enjoyable quick read introducing new cultures, planets, and brides.

 

Rated: 3 Stars

 

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy provided by Grace Goodwin via RockStar PR with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): New To Me (Author/Series) New Release (2017)

 


 

 

 

 

Once upon a time, a young girl was born into an average, working class family. The wee little girl, convinced she was not an average child but was, in fact, a fairy princess, longed to leave the mundane world behind and live her dreams. She grew up, went to school, and when shed grown too big to wear tutus and tiaras in public without drawing unwanted attention, turned to writing down her fantasies instead. Now a bit older, her fantasies have grown to include sexually dominant men who know how to ensure a woman’s pleasure. Grace believes all women should be treated like princesses, in the bedroom and out of it, and writes love stories where men know how to make their women feel pampered, protected, and very well taken care of. She currently lives in Oregon where she spends her days writing, and her nights in the arms of her very own Prince. 

 

Website – Mailing List – Goodreads – Amazon – Facebook – Twitter

 

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/03/arc-review-his-virgin-mate-interstellar-brides-the-virgins-1-by-grace-goodwin
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