Off Base – Annabeth Albert

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Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Out of Uniform #1
Pages: 304

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After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

I’ve been a long time without reading a romance book. I had the feeling this book was going to be perfect to put me back on track. I wasn’t wrong. This is the kind of story I love to read when love is the theme!

The main characters of the book are Zack and Pike. The former is a soon-to-be SEAL who is currently in training. The later is a mathematician expert in videogames. Zack is tight closeted and doesn’t speak about his true sexuality with anyone, always with a excuse ready when someone asks him about his love life. Pike is the opposite, very open about his true interests and no shame at all. The military is not very fond of Pike because of that. Zack is just too worried to slip when the other one is around…

Due to an homophobic team mate (the only person that knows Zack’s secret), Zack decides to live off base. At the same time, Pike is in desperate need of a place to live in the same area due to a new job as a teacher. As you can imagine, they start living together and, little by little, the relationship develops.

The author does a neat work describing Zack’s agony. He doesn’t want to come up to the world, because he is afraid that could endanger the realtionship with the rest of his team. Besides, his family is very conservative and he doesn’t want to disappoint them. But he really likes Pike and the way he makes him feel. Fortunately for him, Pike is a very patient person and tries to understand Zack’s situation. Even though he hates to hide his feelings in public, the teacher makes an effort in order no to lose Zack.

That is the recipe for some tough truths that brought some tears to my eyes a couple of times or more. I couldn’t help linking emotionally with the couple during the good and the bad moments. If anything else, this book shows a lot of heart. I’m going to miss these two so much… I hope they make a cameo in the next ones.

Someone could say that the ending is rushed, but in my opinion is the perfect climax for the emotional build-up. It is what it has to be. No surprise, no weird twist… It is what both of them deserved. If I sound very fond of them, it’s because I am!!

What has surprised me is the way Annabeth describes the characters… like almost nothing. In romance is pretty common to find lengthy descriptions of the male characters. The less clothes, the longer… The writer of this book prefers to leave most of the visual image to the reader’s imagination. The sex scenes are also scarce and short, so don’t be intimidated!!

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Next: The Infernal City by Greg Keyes

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Blood Trinity – Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianna Love
Series: Belador #1
Pages: 519

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All her life, Evalle has been straddling the line between human and demon. Curious about her origins, but content to live in the shadows, she finds that anonymity threatened by escalating conflicts between species. Accused of a savage murder, she’s forced center stage in what seems like the beginning of an Atlanta apocalypse. Before long though, her personal problems will submerge as she learns startling facts about a hoard of supernatural terrorists.

This book has been in one of my shelfs for several years, but finally I have picked it. One more series I start… I’m a series starter. Not so much a finisher. But I’m still young, so…

Urban Fantasy is by far my favourite genre, even though I read romance more. That’s because in Spain, the former is not very popular. I always have to explain what Urban Fantasy is to my friends and family. As you can imagine, few books of that genre are found in bookshops over here. Urban Fantasy by Sherrilyn Kenyon is a plus. She is one of my favourite writers, no matter what she writes.

The fist book of the Belador saga is just a huge display of the fictional world both authors have imagined. There are character introductions in every chapter and, by the end of the book, the cast size is quite impressive. It’s the kind of character display I’m used to finding in Paranormal Romance, where authors present the characters that will star in the upcoming books. But in the Belador series it seems we are not changing the main character any time soon. So, yeah, the character treatment is unexpected for the Urban Fanatasy genre. The description of the male ones is SO typical of Romance books. Something I can totally understand taking into account both authors are also romance writers.

Enough rambling! Did I like the book? No doubt about that. The main character is Evalle, a Belador (some kind of celtic warrior) that keeps demon at bay. But she is a special branch of Belador called Alterant. They are very rare. The main difference is that they can shift into very dangerous beasts. If an Alterant becomes a monster, it’s captured and locked forever. That’s why Evalle works harder than most and keeps most of her work mates far away. She has huge trusting issues for several reasons: her Alterant condition, tough childhood… She only has two Belador friends: Tzader and Quinn (a couple of über sexy hunks, of course).

This books opens a lot of plot lines and barely close any: the search of the Ngak Stone before it claims a new host, the impending trial before the Tribunal to decide her fate, the mysterious Isak’s inquisition, the getting to know Storm, the blind woman and the Kujoo… And I bet I’m forgetting something. It’s a bit too much and many of those end in a “To be continued” that, for some reason, has been more hurtful than other cliffhangers I have encountered so far. On the other hand, so much in the plate has made this book very fast paced, which is always a nice plus for Urban Fantasy. It’s a genre where you expect a lot of ass-kicking. This one delivers.

The mythology Dianna and Sherrilyn have created is very rich, as I always expect in a Kenyon book. It can feel a bit cramped for the untrained reader, but it’s always good to know that the following books will have a crazy Universe to plant their roots. The crazier the Universe, the better an Urban Fantasy book will be. That’s my opinion, at least.

There is also a bit of romance involved. Evalle hasn’t got a couple in her whole life, but suddenly she finds two candidates: Storm and Isak. Both tall, handsome and ripped (one more trait taken from Romance books). Isak is a human mercenary that hates supernatural beings, especially Alterants (go figure…) and Storm is a cursed werepanther. Which one I think is a better suitor for her? That’s a tough one. Isak looks like he is going to be a lot of trouble once he finds out what Evalle is; but he is still a mystery. So far, Isak has been pretty nice. Storm is actually the worst of the book, in my opinion. He is just the classic shifter from Paranormal Romance books. You know, the ones whose animal part is the one that fells in love due to a weird mystical mating… I can’t barely believe love stories when they start that way. So yeah, Storm is currently better positioned to win Evalle’s heart, but my candidate to support is going to be Isak. At least for the moment.

The main course of the book is the Ngak Stone and the Kujoo warriors. The last ones are the Belador nemesis. They want to use a very powerful artifact (the Ngak Stone) to get rid of every Belador there is. As you can imagine, there are several clashes between both factions that make the story fluid easily. There is also a nice story among a reformed Kujoo warrior and the new host for the Ngak Stone. That part is actually my favourite. Very sweet.

If you don’t mind your Urban Fantasy with a side of romance (very light romance, I swear!!), this book is very enjoyable. It doesn’t let the reader to take a breath, which conceals some of the flaws of the narration (the timeline is a mess!).

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Next: Off Base by Annabeth Albert

Claro de Tierra – Arthur C. Clarke

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Original Title: Earthlight
Author:
Arthur C. Clarke
Pages: 320

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Two hundred years after humans first touched down on the surface of the Moon, there are permanent settlements there—as well as on Venus and Mars. The inhabitants of these colonies have formed their own political alliance: the Federation.

On the Moon, a government agent from Earth is hunting a suspected spy at a prominent observatory. He is caught up in the larger political struggle between Earth’s government and that of the Federation, and ultimately must struggle for his life—in the beautiful and barren landscape of the Moon under Earth’s light.

This book is about a government agent from Earth who has to travel to the Moon to find a spy. A spy who is sending information to the planets of the Federation about the mineral resources of the Moon.

Why is that important? Only the Earth in our Solar System is rich with the minerals that humanity needs to advance. So, our dear planet has a very tight control over those resources and doesn’t give them easily to the Federation. Obviously, the other planets are not very fond of that behaviour. Earth scientists discovered a way to exploit the mineral resources of the Moon, but the government decided to stay quiet, in order to avoid the Federation requests for more minerals.

Somehow, the Federation is informed about what is happening on the Moon; which makes the Earth government realizes that there must be a spy. That spy must be from the Observatory, a complex full of astronomers. They decided to send there an agent disguised as an accountant to investigate and catch the spy.

It sounds pretty interesting, isn’t it? Sadly, that’s hardly the main course of this book. The most enjoyable part is when the author describes how is the life on the Moon and all the politics that are necessary for the plot (and teaches the reader a bit of astronomy, too). I was expecting a “duel” between agent and spy, but nothing farther from reality. I even dare to say that the main character, Sadlter the agent, is utterly disposable. He doesn’t weigh on the story at all. He is just the couple of eyes Arthutr uses to show us how the world is in that distant future. That’s pretty sad, becasue if we remove the pages where Sadler is, the book would have like 50 pages at most. In all the important parts, the agent from Earth is nowhere to be found.

Does that mean is a bad book? Not at all. It just means that the book doesn’t give the reader what the blurb suggests. It would have been exactly the same without the agent or the spy. But Arthur is a master at drawing the future, so it makes up for the lack of the promised mystery.

There is also a detail I can’t forget: where are the women in that future? All the characters are male ones: scientists, soldiers, journalists… I know the first edition was in 1955, but it’s still curious that they don’t have any role at all.

It’s a good book, easy to read and enjoyable. But it’s not what I expected…

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Next: Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love