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REVIEW: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Dear Ms. Aguirre:

044101599901mzzzzzzz.jpgI’m not sure why I respond so well to urban fantasy stories. I think it has to do, in part, with the escapism factor. These books are often gritty but because of the otherworldly nature, it is easy to take. Easy to lose oneself in an entire other world. While Grimspace is not an urban fantasy story (i.e., no retelling of myths and legends) but rather a space odyssey, it still works for all the same reasons.

Sirantha Jax has the J-gene, a sensory gene that allows her to be a jumper. Jumper’s are vital for interstellar travel and therefore minor gods. Only Jax made a mistake or someone made a mistake and her last jump ended with the death of her pilot and lover. Pilot and jumpers are often lovers. Its nearly impossible not to be because the pilot and the jumper become one for that infitesmal moment that the ship and its occupants are “about to slingshot through our target beacon and back out to straight space.” Some pilots can’t even get it up without being “jumped in”.

The world opens up to me, an orchid unfurling at accelerated speed. I think of it as the primeval soup from whence all life originally came, a maelstrom of chaos and energy, sights the human mind isn’t supposed to be able to parse, let alone convert into coherent images that can be used to navigate.

Because of the J-gene I can sense the beacons, feel them pulsing like sentient life, and perhaps they are, for all I know. Perhaps if we could find their frequency, we could converse with them, and discover we’ve long been diving down the gullets of cosmic dragons and shooting out their cloacae to somewhere else, and guess what, they aren’t exactly happy about it. On second thought, some mysteries simply shouldn’t be delved.

I loved that phrase “an orchid unfurling”. I could really envision the stars and the pulse of light that I imagine the ship would give off as it released into the galaxy.

Sore in heart and body, Jax is in the Corp lockup awaiting judgment for the mess she just survived. She knows that the future for her isn’t pretty. Most jumpers only have a set number of jumps inside them before they flame out. Some go crazy and some choose to retire but many know when their last jump is their last jump and refuse to go quietly into the night. That’s Jax or that’s how Jax wanted to be.

March is a man with a savior’s complex. Jumpers are virtually limited to the Corp which means the Corp has the stranglehold on interstellar travel. The Corp is the one making new discoveries, new treaties, conquering new lands. Everyone else is left in the dust. March wants to change that by finding people in remote places that might have the j-gene and turn those people into jumpers but he needs a jumper to do that and when Jax is incarcerated, he sees his opportunity.

This book is probably going to be shelved in the fantasy/science fiction aisle, but it could easily fall into the romance section because it is a romance, just not a traditional one with traditional folks playing traditional roles. Sirantha Jax is not a loveable being. She’s not even particularly honorable. She is, though, a survivor, one whose thirst for life draws you in like a beacon.

He shoves me toward the boarding ramp of a cutter that’s seen better days. From his manner and the way he’s dressed, I expected a big hauler or a sporty little cruiser, something with a high price tag and a lot of amenities. Not this junk bucket that looks like it should’ve been decommed before the Axis Wars. The gray squad closes on us with military precision; using cover and working the perimeter in a metric circle. Soon they’ll be on us, boarding the ship. A laser blast sears the metal at my feet and I fall back, further up the ramp.

Talk about ass choices. I’ve got this shit bucket and a nutcase or a bunch of Gray Men coming for me.
He reads my look and shrugs. "However she looks, this ship is sound. Can you jump, Ms. Jax? Our lives depend on it."

Jump? But I don’t have a pilot.

My look or my mind? Because he adds, "Yes, you do."

My throat tightens, and I feel a fist curling around my intestines. It’s a cramp, rising nausea. It’s being told you have to remarry before your husband’s cold in the grave. Before I can say a word, he boards. No more conversation. It’s up to me now. Stay or go. Reluctantly I admire the fact that he doesn’t bullshit, doesn’t explain, doesn’t persuade. Maybe he knows I can’t resist a mystery or a challenge or both. Or maybe he just knows I’m not looking to die today, because the Gray Men are almost on me.

I follow.

March and Jax want each other but Jax’s loss is too fresh to allow herself to feel anything but lust. With her strong ties to the Corp being severed, Jax is at a loss. She doesn’t know quite who she is and what she wants to be.

The drawbacks in this story is that it is a bit plotless and episodic in nature. I know that bothers some people but I felt that the emotional development of Jax and Jax and March as a couple were enough to smooth out those issues.

While the book is set in some intergalatic future, the core of the story is about Jax’s character development and how she falls in love, again, with March. The writing is evocative and as someone who really isn’t a fan of a) space travel books and b) first person present tense, this book worked for me on nearly every level. I’m very excited about the future of space travel presented by Ann Aguirre. A-

Best regards



This book will go onsale on February 26, 2008.

I was chatting via email with our new reviewer, Jia, about whether she was enjoying the reviewing gig. Sure, she is getting free books, but not every book she gets is going to be one she is interested in reading. She replied in one of our various exchanges that it is the book that you receive that you wouldn’t have read but that you really enjoy that make it all worthwhile. Ann Aguirre’s book is one of those. I wouldn’t have read her if I saw it in the store because science fiction is just not my thing.

So I am glad that she opened my eyes to the fact that a good story is a good story no matter the setting. I hope I can do that for some of you. I am privileged to be able to give away 20 ARCs of Grimspace. The catch is that you must post about the book at some public place, whether it is a message board, forum or blog and you must send me the link. We’ll choose one review to repost at Dear Author on the day of the release of the book.

Ms Aguirre has a contest on her blog as well which you can check out here.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:06:10

    Lucky dog! I’ve been waiting for this one.

    Don’t put me in the contest, but I’m jealous. Majorly jealous.

  2. Jia
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:23:22

    I don’t think it ever hurts to read far and wide. Sure, we all have our own preferred reading genres but something outside of your comfort zone every now and again can do no harm. You never know, you might find a new author you love!

    (Psst, the link to Ann Aguirre’s blog contest leads to a 404.)

  3. bam
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:32:41


    *slapping hat against knee*

    Hot damn. I loved this book. I kept picturing Nathan Fillion as March. That made it soooooooooooo much more awesome. It’s awesome on at least 10 levels.

    Good on ye, Ann! Great review, Jane.

  4. Sara Dennis
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:37:48

    I’m so looking forward to this book. And have been for a while. I would dearly, dearly love to be entered into the contest just so I can wriggle with glee over getting to read it early.

  5. Phyl
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:38:39

    I’d like very much to be one of the 20 lucky winners. Keeping my fingers crossed…

  6. Keishon
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:39:16

    I know I’m bad and not worthy but I’d agree to do this. This book sounds good.

  7. azteclady
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:48:25

    Don’t enter me in the contest, please (I’m waiting impatiently for my very own ARC *happy dance*) Boy am I excited about this book! I’ll come back here and post my thoughts once I have read it.

  8. Angela James
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:51:31

    Dammit, I want this book. I’m in the reading slump of the century. la la la…have to promise to do a review? hmm. Okay, enter me into the contest. (and now everyone has seen the mental diarrhea of an editor on the edge)

    I’ve had this book in my cart at Amazon for weeks and I keep waiting to see if it goes on sale early. Hope springs eternal.

  9. Maria
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:52:04

    After reading this review, I can honestly say I am excited about this book. And I am usually utterly uninterested in urban fantasy. So throw me in the contest, I am ready!!!!

  10. Lorelie
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:58:03

    I’m dancing with azteclady, waiting on my arc. . . and lemme tell ya, this review makes me even more impatient to get it. My tastes generally line up with yours Jane, though I must be softer because I’d usually grade about a letter higher. Which means if you give an A, I fall in love. ;)

    (Naturally don’t sign me up for the drawing.)

  11. Jaime
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 12:58:10

    This book sounds amazing. I’ve been having trouble finding books that excite me so far this year, but this sounds right up my alley. I’d love to be entered into the ARC contest, if possible!

  12. Mandy M. Roth
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:00:23

    I do my best to avoid begging… oh, hell… who am I kidding?

    *falls on knees and honors the keeper of the arcs*

  13. Sara
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:03:01

    I’d be super excited to read this novel. I just wish there was more sci-fi romance out there in the bookverse; fantasy/paranormal has more than its fair share, so when will sci-fi get some love?

  14. Melani Blazer
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:03:57

    I’m with you, Jane, this isn’t a book I’d have likely picked up by myself, but with this tidbit, I’ll have to check it out. It appeals to the direction my reading habit has been headed. An arc would be grand, of course. Then I could actually say I read something before Angela James did. Bwahaha!

  15. Karen
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:30:35

    Wow! I would love to have an arc of Grimspace. I’ve had this on my Amazon wishlist for a while now. The book sounds awesome and I can’t wait to dive into the story myself.

  16. Chicklet
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:33:16

    Hot damn, this sounds like a great read. I’d love to be entered into the contest, assuming my LiveJournal is a public-enough forum for the review….

  17.»Blog Archive » Weekly Roundup
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:36:30

    […] –Dear Author reviews GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre I’ve had this book on my wish list for a while, but it’s another month before its release. The premise sort of reminds me of a favorite of mine, Kay Kenyon’s SEEDS OF TIME. […]

  18. janicu
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:37:59

    Wow, please put my name in the hat. I’ve been on a sci-fi, space opera kick lately and this sounds good. I’d be happy to post about it on my reading journal too.

  19. Michele Lee
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:38:10

    It’s up at my Book Review/ promo site

  20. Jane
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:41:00

    Yes, reading journals are perfectly acceptable (i love them myself and consider DA to be one, just with a few more readers ;) ).

  21. Charity
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:46:20

    I would love an ARC of this. To be honest, I really like reading first person/present tense and this looks like it reads extremely well.

  22. Jill Myles
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:46:58

    I am terribly excited about this one – I fell in love with the cover and I can’t wait to read it!

    And Bam’s comment about Nathan Fillion as the hero nearly made me weep with delight. That sounds so awesome.

  23. Dawn
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:52:50

    Ooh, I’m in this drawing. I’m a sucker for a good space book.

  24. Jody W.
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 13:59:16

    Love spec romance! I’ll read this whether I win it or not :).

  25. sandy l
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:21:15

    This looks really good. I hope it is released early.

  26. Patrick
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:26:16

    It sounds like an interesting premise; as a sci-fi fan of many, many, many, many years, I’m looking forward to reading this even if I don’t win a free copy.

  27. Stephanie H.
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:29:43

    This book sounds really good! Please add my name to the contest :)

  28. janegodzilla
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:43:13

    Oooh, please add my name to the contest as well! This sounds right up my alley.

  29. Ann
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:43:56

    Ooh, ARCs. Please add my name. It sounds great. :)

  30. kardis
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:49:04

    Oh, I would love to review an arc of this, I’d love to be considered for an arc if there are any more available!

  31. Jean
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 14:57:33

    Please add me to the drawing – I’d love to try this one.

  32. Barbara B.
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:10:41

    Please add me to the drawing.

    Will this be available as an ebook?

  33. Ann Aguirre
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:11:38

    Thanks for reviewing Grimspace, Jane. You totally got the book, from start to finish.

    “…it could easily fall into the romance section because it is a romance, just not a traditional one with traditional folks playing traditional roles. Sirantha Jax is not a loveable being. She's not even particularly honorable. She is, though, a survivor, one who's thirst for life draws you in like a beacon.”

    I had a very emphatic “Yes, yes, yes!” sort of reaction when I read that. I appreciate Dear Author hosting the ARC giveaway as well.

    Sara, I hope we’re about to see a revitalization of SF. The genre can be imbued with the same feminine magic and mystique that made urban fantasy such a hot property, but it will take the excitement of readers to power the movement.

    So I truly hope all of you enjoy Grimspace, should you be so kind as to read it.

  34. Meriam
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:14:22

    I’d love one. I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about Grimspace. Plus, I’ve never had an arc.

    But I’m in the UK! Does that rule me out?

  35. Jessica
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:22:51

    Ooo, definitely enter me into the contest. :)

  36. Tumperkin
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:24:02

    Count me in if UK residents are allowed in the draw. this sounds amazing and the passages you’ve quoted are lovely

  37. vanessa jaye
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:44:51

    “On sale Feb 26”

    I guess I should read more carefully, I was went to the bookstore on my break looking for this. Don’t bother entering me. I *will* buy it.

  38. Julie
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 15:53:32

    I have had this book on my wishlist forever it seems so yeah I would love to be in the drawing for the ARC’s!

  39. Ann Aguirre
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 16:13:26

    Popping back in to answer a couple of questions:

    I’m fine with international winners, and yes, it’ll come out as an ebook — at least in Kindle and Mobi formats. You can apparently pre-order the Mobipocket ebook here.

  40. clara bow
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 16:21:06

    Thanks for the review, Jane, and of course Ann for writing the book! Just popping in to say I’m looking forward to this one. Susan Grant’s upcoming MOONSTRUCK looks promising, as well, so I think it’s a great time for science fiction romance.

  41. DearAuthor Holds Book Contests |
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 16:57:06

    […] author, Ann Aguirre has a new futuristic romance coming out in Feburary, titled Grimspace.  DearAuthor is holding a contest for readers to win a free copy of the book with the agreement of reading it […]

  42. cathy M
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 16:57:49

    What a great review, I would love to read this book.

  43. Keilexandra
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 17:31:08

    Ooooh, I’d love to get an ARC of this. I hadn’t heard of it before, but SF romances are definitely my thing. Website link is to my booklog/LJ blog.

  44. Alyssa
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 17:50:20

    Sounds intriguing. I’d love to get a copy and review it.

  45. ames
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 18:10:59

    Sci-fi romance is always fun to read, so this sounds great. Plus I’d love to win an arc. :P

  46. Denise
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 18:49:00

    What a cool deal! Please enter me in the contest. I love reviewing really good books.

  47. Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace Contest!!! « Great Scotts! Blatherings of Marissa and Kate
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 19:35:37

    […] one on Dear Author. They’re giving away 20 advanced reader copies of Grimspace which comes out on February 26th. […]

  48. Jaynie
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 19:52:37

    Like my February wish list wasn’t big enough anyway. I have got to stop reading the A and B reviews.

  49. Ann Aguirre
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 20:32:00

    Here’s a question for those who might not pick this up because it’s classed as SF (although I might make a case that it’s a true cross-genre book; they just had to shelve it somewhere). What if you saw it displayed with a couple of urban fantasy novels? Would you take a look then?

    As it happens, Grimspace will be featured at B&N with Madhouse by Rob Thurman and Dead to Me by Anton Strout. I hope that’ll make people wonder if this book is something different, if it possess some of the traits that make UF work so well.

    (As Jane notes in her review, it does.)

  50. Jane
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 20:39:05

    Usually, I only buy the crossover books on word of mouth. I can’t really tell by the back cover copy whether it will fit my tastes.

  51. Jan
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 20:40:28

    I’ve been looking forward to this book, too. Reading an ARC would be fun, but one way or another I’ll be getting this book and reading it!

  52. Grimspace Contest « reading, etc.
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 21:00:33

    […] Author blog is having a contest giving away 20 copies of Grimspace by Ann Aguirre. They also have a review for the book and gave it an A-. It sounds like the kind of book I really enjoy and I’m […]

  53. Karen W.
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 21:24:01

    I have really been looking forward to GRIMSPACE since I love sci-fi and urban fantasy! It sounds great. I’m a bookseller, and if our store doesn’t get an ARC, I’d love to win one. :-)

  54. katiebabs
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 21:32:17

    I’ve been hearing great things about this book. It would be awesome if I could win a copy *hint hint*

  55. anime_babble
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 22:05:04

    Could I please be entered into the contest too? This book sounds very interesting.

  56. Cathy in AK
    Jan 29, 2008 @ 23:28:15

    Another sucker for good sf/sf romance here! This one sounds right up my alley, especially with a heroine who isn’t exactly heroine material at first glance. Sign me up, please! (Says the gal who is nervous about the review condition but is willing to set aside her fears for a good story.)

  57. danette
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 00:11:10

    I’d love to be entered in the contest.

    I’ll read and tell evryone I know.

    Thanks for the sweet contest.

    Hugs, Danette

  58. Rosario
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 02:18:46

    I’d love to be entered in the contest, too. The book really does sound amazing. My only qualm would be the present-tense narration, but since Jane mentions she’s not usually a fan of that…

  59. Marg
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 02:59:16

    This is something that I definitely wouldn’t normally read, but I am willing to give anything a go really! Count me in!

  60. Diane V
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 09:33:47

    Please enter me into the contest.

    I can’t wait to read the book.

  61. Bernita
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 09:57:04

    I would dearly love to read and review this book.
    Clearly it has all the elements I especially like in a story.

  62. Ann Aguirre
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 10:21:02

    Regarding the use of present-tense…

    I chose it because I thought it made the action seem more uncertain. Events unfold as the reader rides along with Jax, and nothing is set in stone. When an author writes in past-tense, the reader has the unconscious security of knowing that everything must’ve worked out in the end, or the narrator wouldn’t be able to relate his story.

    At least, that’s how I feel when reading.

  63. ellie
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 12:08:37

    The review is extremely appealing. I know that this book would be captivating and I would love the chance to read it. Thanks.

  64. bettie
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 16:36:45

    Great review! I can’t wait to read Grimspace. Don’t enter me in the contest. My copy is on its way. :D

  65. links for 2008-01-30 « Book (Cubed)
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 17:22:46

    […] Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre (dear author) (tags: (author:ann.aguirre) [title:grimspace] romance science.fiction space! […]

  66. Caitie
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 18:12:40

    Sounds really interesting, I’d love to be entered in the contest :) Thanks!

  67. Sweet
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 18:42:56

    Great review. I was already hyped about the book, now I really can’t wait to read it.

  68. Sheila L.
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 20:44:30

    This book sounds interesting. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks!

  69. Bum
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 21:32:23

    Someone upthread mentioned they’d read this book and imagined Nathan Fillion as the lead :) I’d love to do the same so please enter me in the contest. Thanks!

  70. Samantha
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 21:39:28

    I am also not a sci-fi reader, but I could hope to be convinced! Please enter me :)

  71. Ana
    Jan 30, 2008 @ 23:32:17

    Not a sci-fi reader but I have been wanting to try one…and Ann Aguirre is an author I’ve been following for some time. Please, pretty please, pick me!

  72. loonigrrl
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 00:37:55

    I’ve had this one on my Amazon wish list for awhile, can’t wait to read it.

  73. Jules Jones
    Jan 31, 2008 @ 03:08:14

    [waves] I’d already seen this one mentioned in the sf blogosphere, and thought it looked interesting. If you’re up for posting a copy to the UK, I’d like one.

  74. Sharp Words » Blog Archive » Gettin’ My Read On…
    Feb 06, 2008 @ 01:05:26

    […] Publicity Juggernaut has somehow missed you, Grimspace is an exciting new sci-fi novel which Jane of Dear Author recently reviewed very favorably and of which Sharon Shinn said the following: An irresistable blend of action and attitude. […]

  75. Flight into Fantasy » Review: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
    Feb 20, 2008 @ 23:53:18

    […] I’ve been reading and lurking on Ann’s blog for some time now, and after Dear Author reviewed Grimspace last month, I knew this was a book I was going to have to […]

  76. GUEST REVIEW: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Feb 27, 2008 @ 15:00:58

    […] you for inviting me to write this review of Ann Aguirre's Grimspace. After reading your review last month I was eager to read this and even more delighted to win one of the 20 ARCs you gave […]

  77. Writer Unboxed » Blog Archive » Interview: Ann Aguirre, Part 2
    Feb 29, 2008 @ 08:06:56

    […] bookstores. However, I’m making it my personal mission to reach out to romance readers. I got an “A” review on Dear Author, which is focused primarily on romance novels with the occasional romantic fantasy or SF title […]

  78. Shameless Reading Romance Blog
    Mar 07, 2008 @ 19:21:32

    Grimspace by Ann Aguire…

    Ace, Feb. 2008, 320 pages, ISBN:0441015999
    As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leavi…

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