Friday, January 19, 2018

Update from Returning Judge Lee Koven

I'm delighted to be a judge for the SFR Galaxy Awards again. I've been reading romance novels since I was a teenager, and science fiction novels for as long as I can remember. Several years ago, I won a drawing for free SFR books. They opened my eyes to a genre I'd always wanted to read but had never known existed. For each year’s Awards, I always try to highlight authors I haven't previously honored, because so many books deserve recognition.

I'm fascinated by how science and technology change society. No matter how we live or what capabilities we have, we remain social animals who seek connection to others. We come up with ingenious tools to do so, with results ranging from tragic to hilarious. I love to read books that explore these possibilities.

I live in the Boston area, where my husband and I moved last year from Seattle. It was a homecoming of sorts for us: I'd left five years ago, he eighteen. We were both lucky enough to keep our jobs as software developers and work as remote employees. We're delighted to be back in more urban surroundings. I've hopped around the East and West Coasts of the United States, living in twelve different residences in the last fifteen years. I'm hoping to stay in Boston a good long while, though!

I look forward to sharing my awards with you and discovering more books through the other judges' picks.

Friday, January 12, 2018

SFR Galaxy Awards Interview on WWMB Review Site

Riley Moreland, one of the judges of the 2017 SFR Galaxy Awards, hosts an interview today to discuss the origins and purpose of the SFR Galaxy Awards.

What well-known author inspired the awards?

How did they come to be?

You can learn more about the awards in the full interview here: Whiskey With My Book Reviews


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

More About Returning Judge Riley Moreland

You've already met our newest judge for the 2017 SFR Galaxy Awards on this earlier blog: Meet Chris Stock.

Now I have Riley Moreland, a book reviewer and returning judge for 2017, to tell you more about herself and some updates to her resume. You can also read her profile on our Judges Page.

Thanks so much, Riley, for returning as one of the SFR Galaxy Awards judges this year.




3 Things I Like to Tell People

by Riley Moreland

Each year, I look forward to the SFR Galaxy Awards for so many reasons. First, I love to talk about my favoriteS. That is favorite with an 'S' on the end. I find it impossible to choose a single favorite of just about anything. Except my favorite color (orange) or my favorite brother (I have just the one). But if I have to pick a favorite book...well...it is just impossible. With the SFR Galaxy Awards I can pick new favoriteS every year!

As a reader, I also get excited about seeing the favoriteS of the other judges and their creative awards. SFR Galaxy Award day is one of the best days of the year. It also happens to be my wedding anniversary day. What more could a happily married gal ask for?

To be honest though, the main reason I look forward to the SFR Galaxy Awards is because I am a judge. I like to tell people that.....“I am one of the judges for the SFR Galaxy Awards.”

Most people have no idea what I am talking about. I don't mind explaining it though. I'm not saying everyone I explain it to gets it. But some people do and that is what is important.

I got this gig because Laurie Green recommended me when the Awards needed a new judge. I made the assumption that she recommended me because she respects my ability to express my opinions when I review books. Talk about an ego boost. I was thrilled to be asked to be a judge! “I am one of the judges for the SFR Galaxy Awards.” I do like saying that!

My blogging/reviewing activity helped get me another gig. Our library board president was really impressed that I had this connection with authors and publishing. I don't know if that was the tipping point that helped me get my job, but 1 ½ years ago, it lead to another thing that I like to say.....“I am a Library Director.”

There are 730 public libraries in Iowa where I live. 461 of those libraries are in towns with a population of less than 5,000 people. Where am I going with this dazzling display of boring numbers?

If you have your MLS (Masters in Library Science), you probably prefer a job in a city library with full time hours and full time benefits. In my library, the Director works for less than $15/hour, 26 hours per week and not too many benefits. Many of those libraries in small towns are looking for someone like me. I wanted to be semi-retired, but have a job with some challenge.

But I still needed some more in-depth library management training. I am pretty much a self-motivated learner, but sometimes that formal classroom training helps fill in gaps I didn't even know needed filling. In November, I completed the State Library of Iowa's Public Library Management curriculum. That lead to actual Public Library Director Certification! I am going to get a fancy certificate printed on a fancy piece of paper, have it put in a fancy frame and hang on my office wall from a fancy nail.

When I was in college the first time, had I known then what I know now, I might have gone for the library science degree. But at my age, I am not going back to school. So my small town library and I are very happy with my Certified Library Director status.

I may boast (yes, I admit I'm boasting) about being a Library Director or a SFR Galaxy Awards judge. But you are a booklover. You get it, don't you? Who doesn't want to be around books and other booklovers, either physically or virtually? Which leads me to the 3rd thing I like to tell people.....“If you like, I can recommend a good book.”

Look for my recommendations on January 31 when the 6th annual SFR Galaxy Awards are announced. See you then!

If want to connect with me I hope you will check out my blog Whiskey With My Book ( https://whiskeywithmybook.wordpress.com ).


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Meet Chris Stock, New Judge for 2017

We're very pleased to welcome Chris Stock to our team of judges for the 2017 SFR Galaxy Awards. Chris is a great supporter of science fiction romance and has included references to SFR in her magazine articles. Here's a little more about her.
________________________________________ 

Christina Stock is an editor at the Roswell Daily Record and in charge of its monthly magazine “Vision” which covers events in Southeast New Mexico as well as art and book reviews.

Stock taught herself to read at age 5, bugging her mom how words in books are pronounced. Soon she started to read by herself and her love for books and stories never ended. Science Fiction Romance novels are her guilty pleasure since she read Anne McCaffrey's series about the dragons of the planet Pern.

Associated Press style English is the fifth English language that Stock studied. Her first was Oxford English in school in Germany, business English while she was an incentive-travel agent, American English when she moved — or rather was abducted by a handsome Marine — to the Land of Enchantment, Roswell, New Mexico. When her Marine went to guard the Pearly Gates, Stock remained in the town where she laid roots.

“Sometimes I think I lived already at least three lives,” Stock said. “I lived in France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and traveled throughout the world. Today, Roswell is my home and I am not planning to move again (unless a very, very handsome alien hunk comes to get me and does the heavy lifting). I love living in this quirky unusual town, it fits to me. “Having been asked to give awards to my favorite books is an honor and so difficult. There are so many new authors and new books out there, it was a challenge to pick only five,” Stock said.

Stock is working on a biography of the adventures of her family and herself. And yes, of course, if she ever finds the time, she is planning on writing a SFR.

You can find her magazines at www.rdrnews.com/vision-magazine.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

5th Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Six by Marlene Harris



Best Bread and Circuses (Intergalactic Edition)
Galactic Gladiators (Gladiator/Warrior/Hero) by Anna Hackett


There’s an old Star Trek episode titled Bread and Circuses, that takes a look at what happened on a world where the Roman Empire never fell. There’s an element of that to Anna Hackett’s Gladiators series. The trappings that surround the story all hearken back to the Roman Empire. The stories are, after all, set around a gladiatorial arena, and the heroes are all gladiators. The men who run the various gladiatorial houses are even titled “Imperator”. But make no mistake, this is science fiction. 

The arena is on the planet of Kor Magna, many, many light years from Earth, as the kidnapped crew from the Jupiter station discover. They were all shanghaied across the universe through an unstable wormhole, and now they are all stuck in Kor Magna, trying to rescue each other and find love and happiness in the shadows of the great arena. Or even on its very sands. As each Earth woman claims one gladiator for her own, she rescues the next “sister” she can find and puts down roots in the place she is forced to call home.

If you are looking to be swept away, this series can’t be beat.

Best Interstellar Menagerie
Pets in Space by S.E. Smith, Susan Grant, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Alexis Glynn Latner, Lea Kirk, Carysa Locke


If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have a dog, cat, dragon or whatever as your fellow traveler among the stars, this book is a treat from beginning to end. Complete with chew toy and catnip.

Pets in Space is a collection of novellas that blend a science fiction setting, a romance complete with HEA, and an animal or animal-like companion to share all the glory and all the cuddles. As they do.

My favorite story in the collection is "A Mate for Matrix". Matrix is this terrifically advanced cybernetic warrior. But he’s still very much a dog. He gets both himself and his human companion into a whole lot of trouble, and a whole lot of happy, when they come to Earth and Matrix, like all dogs everywhere, can’t resist chasing a squirrel. All those enhancements, all that intelligence, and he still gets beaten by a squirrel. And if you’ve ever thought that your own kittens were explosive charges, this story will have you rolling on the floor with laughter.

Best Spoiler Alert Title
Star Cruise: Outbreak by Veronica Scott


The title completely gives the plot away, but there’s a whole lot more to this story.

This star cruise line is run by a whole lot of ex-military, and its a damn good thing, because this crew runs into the sort of trouble that would leave the usual cast of a Love Boat drifting in space in a dead hulk.

The story in Star Cruise: Outbreak is not surprisingly an outbreak of a particularly deadly mutation of that old standby, the Norovirus. Viruses, like cockroaches, seem to live forever. Trapped on a plague ship, with no possibility of outside help or outside resources, it’s up to veteran military doctor Emily Shane to find both the cause and the cure with the limited resources and limited time she has left before they are forced to fly into a sun. And with the help of the very hot and extremely interested Security Office Jake Dilon, find the terrorist who started this mess before they all end up dead.

If Robin Cook set one of his medical thrillers in space, it wouldn’t be half as exciting as Star Cruise: Outbreak.

Most Unusual Job for a Heroine
One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews


There aren’t many books featuring innkeepers, whether in science fiction or elsewhere. After pouring through Ilona Andrews entire Innkeeper Chronicles in about two days, I am left to wonder why. Because this series is fantastic, as is its heroine, the innkeeeper Dina Demille.

The Innkeepers Chronicles exist right at that border that Arthur C. Clarke described so well so long ago. Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. And that’s the case here. When Dina is in her inn, her power is supreme. She is symbiotically connected to the inn, and they nurture and protect each other.

In this universe, Earth is just one planet among many, and a rather backwards and under-powered one. The network of inns on Earth make our little backwater a neutral place where anyone can come for sanctuary, as long as they obey the rules: do not harm a fellow guest, and do not compromise the secrecy and security of the inn.

But a bunch of intergalactic religious fanatics are willing to take any risk to kill some of Dina’s guests that they consider anathema. And Dina is forced to give everything she has to protect those guests, even her life.

It’s only the love of her werewolf that brings her back from the brink. And it’s utterly awesome.


Most Awesomely Prolific and Prolifically Awesome
Anna Hackett


Anna Hackett is the author of three fantastic SFR series, Hell Squad, The Phoenix Adventures, and Galactic Gladiators. She also writes the action-adventure romance series, Treasure Hunter Security, which is not SFR. Or at least not yet.


The series are all different. Hell Squad takes place on an apocalyptic post-invasion Earth. The Phoenix Adventures features two sets of cousins who are intergalactic treasure hunters. (I expect Treasure Hunter Security to tie into this at some point, but it hasn’t. YET). And the Galactic Gladiators, featured in their own award, are an awesome blend of sun and sandals with interstellar slave trading and intergalactic politics.

I love them all. Anna is my go-to author whenever I need to lose myself in a great story.


She is also incredibly prolific, especially for an author who always hits the mark. In 2016 alone she published the first three books in the Galactic Gladiators series (Gladiator, Warrior and Hero), FIVE books in the Hell Squad series (Shaw, Holmes, Niko, Finn, Devlin), two books of the Phoenix Adventures (Lost in Barbarian Space and Through Uncharted Space) as well as the first three books of Treasure Hunter Security (Undiscovered, Uncharted, and Unexplored).

It’s not just that that’s a lot of stories, but that it is a lot of absolutely awesome SFR and action-adventure romance stories. For lovers of SFR it's a very lucky 13. If you are an SFR lover and you haven’t been introduced to Anna Hackett’s kickass crew, you are in for one hell of a magic rocket ride.

5th Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Five by Heather Massey



Most Satisfying Conclusion to a Great Trilogy
Vortex of Crimson (On Deception's Edge #3) by Lise MacTague


Vortex of Crimson follows the ongoing adventures of heroines Jak Stowell and Tori Ivanov. The first two books are Depths of Blue and Heights of Green. The third book raises the stakes to new heights with its mix of danger, suspense, and lots of action.

Here are a few elements that make this book (and the trilogy as a whole) stand out:

The majority of the story's ensemble cast is kickass women with a huge range of skills and abilities. I loved that the more virtual pages I flipped, more new female characters appeared. Given the abysmal representation of female characters in various visual mediums, knowing I can turn to a book like Vortex of Crimson for my grrrl power craving is highly satisfying.

Like the first two books, Vortex of Crimson tackles a number of social and political issues. For example, the issue of the patriarchy and its negative impact on women. This is a no-holds-barred take on the toxic beliefs and institutions that are intent on denying women equal rights. This is especially relevant to Jak's character since she's a woman caught between two worlds.

Along with the first two books, Vortex of Crimson has military details that, to this layperson, feel really well-researched and authentic. It's one of the best examples of sci-fi romance with military elements that I've read.

The romance between Jak and Tori is adorable! It offers plenty of angst and at times it seemed like Fate was conspiring to keep them apart forever. The trilogy follows both their courtship as well as their efforts to negotiate a new, permanent relationship. All of the above and more left me sighing in happiness after finishing this amazing book.

Best Sci-Fi Romance Webcomic
Flesh Machine by Michael Avolio


Michael Avolio's Flesh Machine's is still in progress as of this writing, and at this point there's no guarantee of an HEA between the hero and heroine, but I still love it and am glad I discovered it.

The story takes place on far-future, non-Earth worlds and features an interracial couple: Lucy Olmos, a mechanic-turned-fighter pilot, and Seiji Dequier, a brigadier in the Interplanetary Watch. They team up to battle guerillas who are making life dangerous for innocent civilians.

Lucy and Seiji’s courtship is so sweet and tender it'll melt in your mouth. A certain plot twist throws their burgeoning relationship into forbidden romance territory. The love scenes are artfully depicted and include lots of sensuous detail. My favorite parts are the times Lucy and Seiji look at each other with love and affection.

Flesh Machine updates Tuesdays and is free to read. Interested readers can help support Michael Avolio's work by donating to his Mutineer Studio.

Most Dapper Heroes
The Clockwork Menagerie by Elliot Cooper


There's only one thing better than a dapper gentleman in a steampunk romance story, and that's two dapper gentlemen who fall in love!

Clement Dyer makes amazing clockwork animals and fears his former lover and current rival, Duke Goodwin, will destroy his business. No matter what's happening or what they're doing, Clement and Duke are dapper! This short story packs a lot of sweetness and angst in their enemies-to-lovers/reunited lovers romance. Also recommended for readers who love clockwork cats!

Most Uplifting Sci-Fi Romances
Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time by Cherie Dimaline, Gwen Benaway, David Robertson, Richard Van Camp, Mari Kurisato, Nathan Adler, Daniel Heath Justice, Darcie Little Badger, Cleo Keahna; introduction by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair "Manitowapow," foreword by Grace Dillon "Walking the Clouds"; edited by Hope Nicholson


First, a description of this anthology:

Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman undergoing an experimental transition process to young lovers separated through decades and meeting in their own far future. These are stories of machines and magic, love and self-love.”

Three of the stories have a distinct SFR feel and the others hold appeal for SFR readers as well. The stories entranced me and taught me a few things along the way. After reading this anthology, I felt good and, well, uplifted! Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is an example of diversity, authentic representation, and inclusion done right.

SFR with the Most Relevant Social Commentary Regarding a Current Affair
Gambit (Felig Chronicles #5) by P.J. Dean


Shortly before reading P.J. Dean's Gambit, the latest installment in the author's alien invasion series, I had read The Verge's "Criminal Charges," an article about the "predatory monopoly" of prison phones. Lo and behold, I discovered that part of Gambit addresses issues related to the private corrections industry in the United States.

Mind. Immediately. Blown.

The issue of privatized prisons is a hot topic in the news these days, in no small part because of 13th, director Ava DuVernay's powerful film about mass incarceration, its origins, and its impact. Gambit delivers the kind of social commentary I crave in sci-fi romance and does so in an entertaining way. The series' message about how the power of love can drive out hate applies not only to hostile alien invaders, but also to us Earthlings.