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Chilling Effect

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A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family. To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.


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A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. A hilarious, offbeat debut space opera that skewers everything from pop culture to video games and features an irresistible foul-mouthed captain and her motley crew, strange life forms, exciting twists, and a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom. But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family. To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.

30 review for Chilling Effect

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tucker

    Kidnappers Alien Emperors Psychic Cats And she's out of coffee Me: *SPITS OUT WATER* Also me: OKAY, OBVIOUSLY SOMEONE WAS DIGGING INSIDE MY HEAD. WHO WAS IT

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/09/30/... Chilling Effect turned out to be a bit of a fun surprise, considering my initial concerns over it being too silly and offbeat for my tastes. But in the end, I think author Valerie Valdes struck the perfect town, finding that perfect balance between adventure and humor in her debut space opera. Readers will be treated to a fun romp between the stars in this science fiction tale featuring exotic far-flung planets, fascinating aliens, shadowy crime syndi 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/09/30/... Chilling Effect turned out to be a bit of a fun surprise, considering my initial concerns over it being too silly and offbeat for my tastes. But in the end, I think author Valerie Valdes struck the perfect town, finding that perfect balance between adventure and humor in her debut space opera. Readers will be treated to a fun romp between the stars in this science fiction tale featuring exotic far-flung planets, fascinating aliens, shadowy crime syndicates, and oh, psychic cats. Captain Eva Innocente is the protagonist of this story, heading up the crew of the Sirena Negra, a small cargo ship used to run shipping jobs for clients. After being stiffed on her last gig, Eva doesn’t think her day can get any worse, but of course the universe has a way of proving her wrong. Receiving a mysterious call on her private com link, she finds out that an interstellar crime organization known as The Fridge has kidnapped her sister Mari, and they’re demanding an exorbitant ransom for her release. If Eva can’t pay, Mari will be cryogenically frozen and shipped off to a mining planet where she will live out the rest of her days in misery performing hard, brutal labor. But of course, our protagonist doesn’t have that of kind of money, so she’s forced to make a deal with The Fridge, providing her services to complete a series of missions in exchange for her sister’s release. However, if she tells anyone, all bets are off. Unfortunately, while trying to figure out how to keep the kidnapping a secret from her crew, Eva has a run-in with the lustful emperor of a fish-faced alien race who takes the spurning of his advances much too personally. Now he’ll do anything to have her, even if it means killing an entire space station, and that’s not the kind of attention Eva can afford to have while trying to make clandestine runs for Mari’s kidnappers. So all in all, I had a good time with this book, and felt that everything from the action to the comedy was on point. I felt it delivered everything a good space opera should, including a heavy dose of intrigue and adventure mixed in with plenty of space faring and exploration. I also loved that the narrative tone was on the lighter side, as this genre tends to get too bogged down by the minutiae of planetary politics, incomprehensible technobabble and too much trivial detail. Happily, none of these are problems in Chilling Effect, making it a good choice for anyone seeking a more accessible or beginner-friendly sci-fi novel to sink their teeth into. It also moves at a good pace and features a charming cast of characters, which helped increase the story’s appeal. But there’s a downside to having all these elements compete for your attention, especially in the first half of the book. Granted, I never lost interest in the plot, but it did sometimes feel a bit scattered, and more than once I stopped to wonder just when we’ll get to see progress on the main conflict. In that sense, the overall story did take its time to solidify, and at times a lot of the earlier events that took place felt too episodic which tried my patience. This book threw a ton of action in my face, which I appreciated, but it’s not always a good thing. After all, you’re still essentially spinning your wheels if none of it is contributing in a major way to the overall plot. In general, this novel was also a very shallow experience, but as it is intended to be light and fluffy fare, this wasn’t surprising. Still, I had hoped for a bit more oomph, if nothing else in the comedic side of things because this one was marketed as “hilarious” and “offbeat.” Ultimately, I can’t say I found much of it to be laugh-worthy, as we’re mostly dealing with countless pop culture references and a boatload of other throwaway gags. But while I am glad that the story wasn’t over-the-top in its silliness, a part of me still wishes it had been more memorable. You’re not going to get a whole lot of world-building, character development, or to be honest, any kind of explanation for what’s going on. Still, nothing wrong with this one being a pure escapism read, so long as you go in knowing what to expect. All told, I found Chilling Effect to be a decent and fun-filled space opera that doesn’t take itself too seriously. By the time the sequel comes out, if I still remember most of the story and the characters, I just might check it out for another feel-good pick-me-up read! Audiobook Comments: Almarie Guerra was a good choice for narrator, giving life to Eva’s multilayered personality. Whether our protagonist is being thoughtful and prudent, or snarky and impulsive, Guerra did a great job portraying Eva in all of her moods.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    I received a copy from HarperCollins Publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Captain Eva Innocente is living her best life working with a crew of friends that have become family on her spaceship as they pick up odd delivery jobs that take them all over space. Just when she thinks that a job requiring her to drop off a litter of psychic cats falls through is the worst part of her week, she finds out her sister has been abducted by a deep space criminal group that I received a copy from HarperCollins Publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Captain Eva Innocente is living her best life working with a crew of friends that have become family on her spaceship as they pick up odd delivery jobs that take them all over space. Just when she thinks that a job requiring her to drop off a litter of psychic cats falls through is the worst part of her week, she finds out her sister has been abducted by a deep space criminal group that manipulates people by threatening the lives of their abductees. Unable to tell a single soul that she’s now working for this criminal group, she takes her crew on a new dangerous ride so that she can save her sister. I wish I could say that I enjoyed this book, but then I’d be lying. While a hilarious space opera with strong family ties and psychic cats sounds fun, I spent a good portion of the book asking questions instead of enjoying the story. I think it would’ve been far more enjoyable if it had a good amount of world building early on. Instead, I was confused about the world Eva and company lived in and spent some time confusing the cast of characters for one another. It was hard to visualize this world when the scenery was constantly changing before there was enough time spent to explain where they even were. I wish that some basics were explained early on and that there was time spent on world building before the story kicked off. I also didn’t care for majority of the characters once I got a hold on them. Much of Eva’s crew was one dimensional and I wish that more time was spent on getting to know the core cast of characters. The only one we really get to know is Eva, who also narrates the story. Eva is extremely selfish, short tempered, and hypocritical. I didn’t really care for her, but I do love that she is willing to jump through hoops for her family even if they aren’t on talking terms. There are some good and funny moments, but sadly, this was a miss for me. While it’s fast paced, there isn’t enough world building to stabilize the story. I think there is some potential here, but it needs more world building, more character growth, and a slower pace.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Namera [The Literary Invertebrate]

    ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you! This is actually 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because I loved the premise and I REALLY loved the heroine. Captain Eva Innocente of the spaceship La Sirena Negra has fallen on hard times. She walked away from doing business with her father because she hated how shady it was, and she hated the person she was when she was with him. But that's had financial repercussions for her and her beloved crew. They transport cargo from place to place (their latest ARC received in exchange for an honest review - thank you! This is actually 3.5 stars, but I rounded up because I loved the premise and I REALLY loved the heroine. Captain Eva Innocente of the spaceship La Sirena Negra has fallen on hard times. She walked away from doing business with her father because she hated how shady it was, and she hated the person she was when she was with him. But that's had financial repercussions for her and her beloved crew. They transport cargo from place to place (their latest: a batch of twenty psychic cats) and basically live hand-to-mouth. Here's a rundown of everyone on board La Sirena Negra: ➽ Eva, who is BRILLIANT. She's a foulmouthed Latina who's streetwise, aggressive, and incredibly loyal. She also has a definite streak of 'grey morality.' While she doesn't actively try to hurt innocents - especially after some of the mistakes she's made in her past - she's definitely a pragmatic woman, not a naïve do-gooder. ➽ Pink (aka Dr Rebecca Jones) is the closest thing Eva has to a best friend. Snarky and clear-sighted, Pink is 100% loyal to her captain - but that doesn't translate to being blindly loyal. I appreciated that she called Eva out on her bullshit when she felt it was needed, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of her character, plus more of the backstory she has with Eva. ➽ Min is their pilot. Although she does also have a human body, she prefers to spend most of her time with her consciousness tethered to the ship. I'd have liked more of an explanation of how this works - like, does her human body still need sleep? - and she didn't say an awful lot, but I could feel how much Eva cared for her. ➽ Leroy handles their cargo. He used to be an expendable soldier in the corporate space wars, so he has bad PTSD which makes him avoid his two mums, out of a fear he'll hurt them. But he's also loyal, friendly, and dedicated to online gaming. ➽ Vakar is their engineer. He's a quennian, a type of alien described as having a face like a pangolin, facial palps, and emitting scents depending on which emotion he's experiencing. His personality was definitely sweet and slightly submissive. So this book is a space opera in the truest sense of the word: we hop with Eva from planet to planet as she carries out assignments for The Fridge, an intergalactic crime syndicate who are holding her sister Mari hostage. Unfortunately, Eva isn't great at completing the assignments properly. Time is running out - she needs to find a way to free Mari, get money to pay her crew, and somehow smash The Fridge while she's at it. To make matters worse, an emperor known as the Glorious Apotheosis has taken offence at her refusal to join his harem, and has placed a bounty (dead or alive) on her head. What I liked: ✔️ This was diverse AS F*CK. Eva is Hispanic, Pink is black, and obviously there are a ton of aliens like Vakar thrown into the mix. There are also loads of nonbinary characters (and not just aliens). ✔️ Zero sexism. Males, females, and nonbinary people were all captains or mercenaries or planet rulers or hunters. ✔️ Funny in unexpected places. It wasn't laugh-out-loud, but there was a gentle Douglas-Adams-style humour underlying the whole book. ✔️ It was well-written and engaging. The quick pace got me hooked straightaway. A Note on Classification It is EXTRAORDINARILY hard to classify this book, age-wise. I wouldn't call it YA: Eva is over thirty, and it doesn't have that vaguely coming-of-age sense YA novels tend to exude. But I'm also struggling to label it as 'adult' for one key reason: there is absolutely nothing sexual in this book. Even kisses are disposed of with brutal speed, and the love scenes are fade-to-black. I won't lie, I was disappointed . Not even out of prurience or anything, just because the book kept dropping intriguing hints about Vakar's anatomy. He seems to have genitals which are retracted inside his body? And near his abdomen? Plus he's covered in scales? Even a little bit more elaboration would have helped. I get that this book isn't focusing on the romance, and that's why there are no sex scenes, but if you're going to have alien-human sex at least tell us how it's physically going to happen! Which leads me on to: What I didn't like: ❌ Vakar was described very poorly. Beyond him having blue eyes and facial palps (which I'm struggling to picture) NOTHING WAS DESCRIBED. Like, does he have hair? What colour? What colour is his skin? What colour are his scales? ❌ The nonstop action got a bit exhausting after a while. It's a long book, and in the first half I appreciated the rapid pace, because it eliminated any drag or boredom. But it felt like there wasn't a single moment where we could take a breath and pause. Partially that's Eva's character: she's totally non-introspective, which is alright, but that also meant we didn't really see any character growth in her. All her character growth seems to have happened in the backstory. ❌ Beyond a few ominous hints, this backstory is never explained. There's no time to: like I said, the constant fighting wasn't conducive to long chats. But I wanted to know stuff like how Eva met Pink and the others. Hopefully that'll be explained in the sequel... ❌ For a science fiction book, there was astoundingly little science. No technology is explained; we just accept that it's there, and that humans and aliens have somehow learned how to use it. I needed to know more history. Is this a world in which humans have always known that aliens existed? When did humans discover them, if not? Infodumps are obviously bad things, but the issue here was the opposite - an info-lack, if you will. Overall It was a good debut and I liked many of its elements, but I'm hopeful that the sequel (which I will be keeping an eye out for) will expand on some of the issues I mentioned. [Blog] - [Bookstagram]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is a case where I really wanted to like the book, really should have liked the book, but, unfortunately, could not. The worldbuilding is great. It's zany and a bit campy and fun all around, from psychic cats to mind-controlling parasites. Also, can you say alien romance? I loved that!! But the execution of the novel left something to be desired. The premise is okay but the pacing is not. I was either being whipped around at breakneck pace or making my way through entire chapters wonde This is a case where I really wanted to like the book, really should have liked the book, but, unfortunately, could not. The worldbuilding is great. It's zany and a bit campy and fun all around, from psychic cats to mind-controlling parasites. Also, can you say alien romance? I loved that!! But the execution of the novel left something to be desired. The premise is okay but the pacing is not. I was either being whipped around at breakneck pace or making my way through entire chapters wondering what the point was. By the halfway point, I was constantly feeling like the climax should be right around the corner only. It made for a pretty jarring read. I did love the main character and all her flaws. But most of the side characters were hard to get a grasp of. I'm not sure I remember much at all of Pink and Min, and I cannot picture what Vakar looks like at all. It made certain scenes hard to envision. I think this book will work for a lot of people. There was a lot I appreciated about it, such as the complete lack of sexism, the great humor, and the inclusion of Spanish phrases and chapter titles. I really liked Eva as a main character and the world was great! The story and pacing just didn't cut it for me. Thank you to NetGalley & HarperCollins for the eArc to review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received an advanced copy through NetGalley. Chilling Effect is a quirky space opera adventure reminiscent of Firefly, with an eclectic space crew captained by Eva. When Eva finds out her sister has been kidnapped by a nasty crime syndicate, she takes on a series of terrible jobs--all while keeping the truth secret from her crew. Of course, everything goes wrong, but does so in surprising ways. That's part of the fun of this book. It's a total screwball romp. You have no idea what's going to happen/>Chilling I received an advanced copy through NetGalley. Chilling Effect is a quirky space opera adventure reminiscent of Firefly, with an eclectic space crew captained by Eva. When Eva finds out her sister has been kidnapped by a nasty crime syndicate, she takes on a series of terrible jobs--all while keeping the truth secret from her crew. Of course, everything goes wrong, but does so in surprising ways. That's part of the fun of this book. It's a total screwball romp. You have no idea what's going to happen next. There are many little video game tributes throughout that made me grin, too. Eva's a fun heroine. Well-meaning, edgy, and competent at her job. Her voice, with Spanish sprinkled throughout, is wonderfully authentic. I've only seen this done by one other scifi book, Amber Royer's Free Chocolate, and here's hoping more such books are on the way. I'm betting the cover of this book alone will sell a bunch of books. It gets across the fun vibe quite well. I think about my only complaint is that I wanted more of the cats!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    Is space opera its own mini-genre now? Because I feel like I've been seeing the term a lot more lately.

  8. 4 out of 5

    laurel [suspected bibliophile]

    DNF at 4% Eh, just not feeling it. I don't know what it is, but it's not holding my attention. Maybe because in 4% I've already read three or four descriptions of Eva's tangled black hair? I dunno. I feel snarky tonight, and I'm just not feeling it. Maybe later, maybe never. Probably never. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    keikii Eats Books

    To read more reviews from this author and others, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 67 points, 3 stars Quote: {{You are very cynical.}} Eat a turd, she thought. {{You are also very rude.}} "And you're a parasite attached to my skull who can't seem to understand the meaning of the phrase 'Jódete, coño!'" Review: Chilling Effect is a weird book for me. In the beginning I was determined to love it, and then the honeymoon period wore off fast. By the midway point, I was certain To read more reviews from this author and others, check out my blog at keikii Eats Books! 67 points, 3 ½ stars Quote: {{You are very cynical.}} Eat a turd, she thought. {{You are also very rude.}} "And you're a parasite attached to my skull who can't seem to understand the meaning of the phrase 'Jódete, coño!'" Review: Chilling Effect is a weird book for me. In the beginning I was determined to love it, and then the honeymoon period wore off fast. By the midway point, I was certain I hated the book.  In the end, I loved the ending. And as much as I loved that ending and that it made me want to continue on with the series, I just don't know if I will yet. I also had to spend an unreal amount of time on Google Translate, and Urban Dictionary, and just plain googling around to figure out what, exactly, people were saying. There is so much Spanish sprinkled in throughout the book, at times I didn't even understand what was going on without looking things up. Hell, half the chapter titles are in Spanish! And it wasn't just words. No, it was phrases like "live by the sword, die by the sword." It was actually pretty frustrating because I had to stick to my computer to read this. (I'm still completely and totally lost at "Me Sube la Bilirrubina"...) Once Chilling Effect started it didn't really stop. It opens with a bunch of psychic kitties causing the main character, Captain Eva Innocente, and her crew a lot of trouble. Then drops into a kidnapping exploitation plot before swinging wildly into an attempted sexual slavery that is somehow not being vilified by everyone. The entire book, the characters are swinging from one task that goes wrong to the next task that goes wrong. Not exactly my favourite type of story. Then, within all those tasks that go wrong, there are a bunch of plotlines that are just there to make the readers go "hey I recognise that!". A LOT of pop culture, and some not, as well. There is an entire chapter of Pride and Prejudice in here, in the chapter titled "El Orgullo y el Prejuicio" (guess what that translates as?). Chilling Effect just liked to pull from popular things for inspiration and then recreate them in space for fun. I'm sure there were more in here that I missed than I got. Captain Eva Innocente, our main character, gets into a lot of trouble. She isn't the most competent person. She seems to be chronically incapable of controlling herself, her emotions, and most spectacularly her anger. Which gets her into more trouble than any other outside force. She also isn't really able to control her crew, either, which is a bad trait in a Captain, in my opinion. Eva is also in a really weird romance that I actually found really cute. And the romance was kind of the saving grace of the book in the end. As I already complained, I really didn't like the start of the book. It just wasn't for me. Once Chilling Effect got down to the point, in about the last 20% of the book, I actually really, really enjoyed it. And that is the worst thing about it. Because it was really good when it stopped playing around. I loved it in the end. And now I want to read the next book in the series, even though I wasn't going to bother before I got to the end. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Valerie Valdes, Harper Voyager, and Netgalley for providing the opportunity to review this copy!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janatee (Jaclyn B)

    Did Not Finish. I really wanted to like this book, with its whacky style, pop-culture references, and diverse cast of characters. However, it reads, to me, like a first draft that was written to fill pages that didn't get properly edited into what could have been a good book. The tone shifts, the descriptions are sparce, and there are several unexplored ideas and characters that never reached their full potential.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I was promised Firefly meets Mass Effect, and that's exactly what I got. Valerie Valdes wears her influences pretty obviously, but those inspirations offer more complex casts of characters that interact realistically and never feel like simply complimentary pieces for the protagonist to use. That may be a bit too harsh, but Eva's crewmates were not really given moments to express themselves outside of Eva's needs or wants which boxes them into essential roles only to compliment her actions. The I was promised Firefly meets Mass Effect, and that's exactly what I got. Valerie Valdes wears her influences pretty obviously, but those inspirations offer more complex casts of characters that interact realistically and never feel like simply complimentary pieces for the protagonist to use. That may be a bit too harsh, but Eva's crewmates were not really given moments to express themselves outside of Eva's needs or wants which boxes them into essential roles only to compliment her actions. The book sets up a cast of complex, realistic figures who each have intriguing personalities and backgrounds, but the reader never gets to really become acquainted with them or their pasts. Hopefully, sequels can pull the author's foot off the gas and let the characters actually relate to one another and develop rather than rush to some anti-climatic final conflict with an unsatisfying resolution. Aside from those mild complaints, this book is a fun space adventure with plenty of ridiculous moments and great action that kept me entertained. It's Firefly meets Mass Effect. What's not to like?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Pierson

    Cute and fun, found family sci-fi with lots of action. There are psychic cats! Although I kept waiting for them to become a plot point (wouldn't it be amazing to hypnotize your enemies with your cat?!) and sadly it never happened. Captain Eva is on a mission to save her sister, who has been kidnapped by a crime syndicate, and she has to do it without alerting her (very perceptive) crewmates. That’s easier said than done, as Eva has to make up crazy excuses for visiting far-flung parts of the gal Cute and fun, found family sci-fi with lots of action. There are psychic cats! Although I kept waiting for them to become a plot point (wouldn't it be amazing to hypnotize your enemies with your cat?!) and sadly it never happened. Captain Eva is on a mission to save her sister, who has been kidnapped by a crime syndicate, and she has to do it without alerting her (very perceptive) crewmates. That’s easier said than done, as Eva has to make up crazy excuses for visiting far-flung parts of the galaxy, all while still taking care of their day job as a transport ship. Eventually the growing snowball of lies is going to roll all the way down the hill and crush her (or some other tortured metaphor). I loved the solid friendships between the captain and her loyal crew, and the sweet inter-species romance. I also learned lots of new ways to curse in Spanish. This might come close to filling a Becky Chambers-shaped hole in your heart, if by chance you have one of those.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book™

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ovvkCgR...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    I really loved this novel! I'm a big Mass Effect fan and I appreciated all the references. Also, I love space adventures and this is the first one I've read that is unapologetically Latinx. I love how much Spanish was in it. This book is fun and has psychic cats and space dinosaurs! Love it! Full review: https://gabimorataya.wordpress.com/20...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rike @ RikeRandom

    Okay, there were a bunch of things I absolutely loved about this and some I really think could have been done better. But overall I very much enjoyed Chilling Effect. So, good things first: + The characters are great! They are super diverse and quite a few of them, including the protagonist, are in their late thirties + There is a lot of action but also so much humour in this! + While there is a central romance, it's not the focus of the story + A lot of the stuff going Okay, there were a bunch of things I absolutely loved about this and some I really think could have been done better. But overall I very much enjoyed Chilling Effect. So, good things first: + The characters are great! They are super diverse and quite a few of them, including the protagonist, are in their late thirties + There is a lot of action but also so much humour in this! + While there is a central romance, it's not the focus of the story + A lot of the stuff going on here plays with what's right or wrong and the grey zones in between + The wirting was really good! There is a lot of cursing in Spanish though … And the bad things, which is really more like one big bad thing: - The lack of world building and detailed descriptions! I would have wished for a lot more background to almost every aspect of this story and I had a hard time picturing many of the aliens (especially the love interest)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    "Valerie Valdes is taking aim at lovers of space adventure with the crew of La Sirena Negra, and I absolutely got sucked into the action (and humor) that makes this one of the most fun debuts we have in 2019. Did I mention there are space cats?" – comment from Executive Editor David Pomerico "In space, no one can hear you cagando en la mierda. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for smaller profits. When her sister "Valerie Valdes is taking aim at lovers of space adventure with the crew of La Sirena Negra, and I absolutely got sucked into the action (and humor) that makes this one of the most fun debuts we have in 2019. Did I mention there are space cats?" – comment from Executive Editor David Pomerico "In space, no one can hear you cagando en la mierda. Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy agency that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva struggles through one unpleasant, dangerous mission after another to pay the ransom debt. To make things worse, she’s stuck with a hold full of psychic cats, a fish-faced emperor wants her dead for rejecting his advances, and her ship’s sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. Qué jodienda. Chilling Effect, humorous science fiction that parodies pop culture and video games, is complete at 115,000 words but has series potential. My fiction is published in Nightmare Magazine and She Walks in Shadows, and I am a graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop." -- the author's query letter. It worked. http://candleinsunshine.com/musings/m...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality First of all, any story that begins with genius, psychic cats on a spaceship has me from jump. And that’s exactly the way that Chilling Effect starts, with Captain Eva Innocente running around La Sirena Negra trying to chase down her cargo; 20 genetically engineered, hyper-intelligent and hypnotic felines. And just when she thinks she’s finally corralled the last one – everything goes pear-shaped. Which turns out to be a metaphor for this entir Originally published at Reading Reality First of all, any story that begins with genius, psychic cats on a spaceship has me from jump. And that’s exactly the way that Chilling Effect starts, with Captain Eva Innocente running around La Sirena Negra trying to chase down her cargo; 20 genetically engineered, hyper-intelligent and hypnotic felines. And just when she thinks she’s finally corralled the last one – everything goes pear-shaped. Which turns out to be a metaphor for this entire space-romp of a story, as Eva and her crew find themselves running a game both with and against the biggest criminal organization in the galaxy, trying to save Eva’s sister, their own hides, and one of the big secrets of their universe. It’s an edge of your seat ride through every jumpgate in the known universe to see if Eva can get her ship, her crew, her family and her soul through this adventure relatively unscathed. And that’s adventure in the sense of something terrible and/or frightening happening to someone else, either long ago, far away, or preferably both. Eva only wishes it were happening to someone else – frequently and often, while cursing in Spanish, English and possibly a few other languages along the way. But it’s happening to her, whether she wants it or not. And while she certainly doesn’t want that adventure, she does want to save her sister and the rest of her family. No matter who, or what, gets in her way. Escape Rating A+: There have been plenty of comparisons already between Firefly and Chilling Effect. I think the best one that I read said something about if Firefly and Mass Effect had a baby midwifed by Guillermo del Toro, that Chilling Effect would be the resulting book baby. I think there were more parents and grandparents involved, but I’ll still grant the idea of del Toro as the midwife because it’s just plain cool. The resemblance between La Sirena Negra and Serenity, the Firefly-class ship in the series, along with its motley, barely-on-the-edge-of-legality crew, is out and proud and adds to the long list of stories inspired by that series. Firefly casts a long shadow for such a short-lived show. There are also plenty of points where Eva reads a lot like the female Commander Shepherd in Mass Effect – just with an even looser relationship with the law and the truth. But it feels to me as if Chilling Effect also has at least two SFnal “fairy godmothers”, Kylara Vatta from the Vatta’s War series and Tess Bailey from Nightchaser. In both of those female-centric space operas, you get the same kind of leader who is on the run from deep, dark secrets that are buried, not at all deeply in the family tree, that the heroine must confront in order to be free. In addition to the terrific characterizations of Eva and her crew, part of what makes this story so good are its exploration – and eventual complete skewering, of a trope that normally makes readers cringe. I’m talking about the overused and now hated convention of putting female characters in literal or figurative refrigerators, in other words, freezing them out of the narrative, so that they become an object to motivate a hero into action to either rescue or avenge them. In Chilling Effect, Eva’s sister is put into cryo-sleep by a criminal organization known as “The Fridge”, moving Eva and her crew to great lengths in order to free her and ultimately discovering the secrets behind The Fridge and the ancient race who seeded the galaxy with jumpgates (and linking back to Mass Effect yet again.) But instead of motivating a man and leaving the female character offstage for the rest of the story, we have a woman moving the galaxy to rescue another woman, with a mixed-species and gender crew. The whole thing works as both impetus and send-up in one glorious smash! It’s pretty clear that I loved Chilling Effect from that opening scene, and that I can’t wait for the next book in the author’s Untitled Space Opera series. (That’s literally what the series is called, but the next book does have a title, and that’s Prime Deception.) But there’s one more thing I want to get into before I let you go off to read Chilling Effect. It’s an important part of Eva Innocente’s story that she and her family, and even the colony they came from, are, like the author, of Cuban descent. This isn’t just window-dressing, that origin story both underpins Eva’s actions and peppers her language with phrases from that heritage. I had to look up a lot of the idioms, and I highly recommend that you do. They are often hilarious, always informative, and add to the flavor and texture of the book and the characters in ways that just feel right. As someone who grew up in a household where another language was frequently sprinkled into the conversation, there are concepts that just don’t translate from one language to the next, in spite of the English language’s often-quoted propensity to not merely “borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.” The way that Eva mixes the Cuban phrases that she learned as a child add to the depth and verisimilitude of her character – and I feel that adds to the story whether I initially understand what she’s saying or not. (After all, that’s what Google Translate is for.) And I want that representation for her because I also want to see it in other stories – and am – for myself. So I may have gotten into this story for those psychic cats, but I stayed for Captain Eva.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jersy

    There were a lot of great ideas and moments, but the story wasn't strong enough. This was compared to The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet - and I can see why - but it reminded me a lot more of Guardians of the Galaxy or Futurama, even though those are much stronger on humor, but they are similar in tone (mostly light and humorous, but not shying away from more serious moments when appropriate) and kind of in type of content. There were a lot of interesting little worldbuilding concept There were a lot of great ideas and moments, but the story wasn't strong enough. This was compared to The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet - and I can see why - but it reminded me a lot more of Guardians of the Galaxy or Futurama, even though those are much stronger on humor, but they are similar in tone (mostly light and humorous, but not shying away from more serious moments when appropriate) and kind of in type of content. There were a lot of interesting little worldbuilding concepts, not really creating enough of a broader picture, though, still I really enjoyed it. The characters were easy to get behind, we get much more about Eva than about the others, but I think she is handled well, being really flawed but easy to relate to, even if she's making rushed decessions. Her feelings and fears come across effectively, too. There were really nice and probably memorable scenes / chapters throughout, but for me they didn't come together to a good story. The main goal changed multiple times, which makes a some of the plot feel pointless in retrospect, and the book feels fragmented, with some pieces working better than others. I ended up not caring at all during the big ending scene because the weight of it wasn't established successfully. There is a lot about this book I enjoyed and I see potential in the author, making me want to give future books another try. The interesting aliens, the likable characters and the stronger moments and adventures of this book were great, but the story needs some more work to be more compelling.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mya Alexice

    3.5 stars. Humorous sci-fi isn't really my jam, but others might really like it! If that's your thing, check it out.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Queen

    Found-family, ragtag space crew! Slow to start but I especially enjoyed the latter part of the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Oh, this book! First off, I have to praise Harper Voyager for pushing #ownvoices books out in the world. Captain Eva Innocente was hilarious, snarky, and the kind of woman I’d gladly follow into battle. The fact that she just so happened to cuss in Spanish whenever she was extremely angry made me crack up laughing. As a person with a family who does the same I couldn’t help but love Eva, prickles and all. Starting with the good, I can definitely say that there’s not a boring character Oh, this book! First off, I have to praise Harper Voyager for pushing #ownvoices books out in the world. Captain Eva Innocente was hilarious, snarky, and the kind of woman I’d gladly follow into battle. The fact that she just so happened to cuss in Spanish whenever she was extremely angry made me crack up laughing. As a person with a family who does the same I couldn’t help but love Eva, prickles and all. Starting with the good, I can definitely say that there’s not a boring character in this book. Eva’s whole crew is just a bit mad, and full of personality. Although I suppose they would have to be, to follow Eva Innocente. I loved their family dynamic, and how much each of them was willing to sacrifice for any of the rest of them. The ship felt like a place that I’d want to visit. Provided I wasn’t visiting on a day when Eva decided to get into a fight, that is. In terms of the plot, the overall story line was pretty solid. I liked that they brought Eva’s actual family into the picture, and that Eva did do some growing up throughout the story. Let’s be honest, we all make bad decisions. Eva just makes a lot of them all at the same time, for a fair amount of this book. What pushed this book down in ratings for me as mainly the pacing, to be honest. It drags at points, and runs at a mad pace during others. I needed a little more of an even keel, to keep me reading on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in the for the long haul on this series. I liked Eva and her misfit crew enough that I’ll be back for the next book. I only hope that now that we’ve established the dynamic between these characters, things will even out a bit. I’d love to dive deeper into the places that La Sirena Negra travels, follow along on more battles, and giggle madly at the banter between these friends. So, count me in. I’ll be waiting.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dea

    I expected a story about a ragtag group of lovable and adorable misfits, led by a fearless but flawed leader, having adventures together, with some psychic cats causing mayhem. That sounds like so much fun! However, what I got was a boring group of bland and forgettable random aliens, led by a fearless (obnoxiously so) and flawed (in all the worst possible ways) leader, but the leader just goes and does stuff by herself, and in which some psychic cats don’t matter at all. Let’s break it down!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

    While this was a delightful adventure, encompassing all sorts of tried and true tropes and sci-fi worlds, in the end it just felt overly long and sloggish to me. I don’t what exactly it was about this book that just made it feel like that. Perhaps I just didn’t realize how long it was (it comes in at about 450 pages, and I was somehow thinking it would have been half that), but I think it had something to do with the way it was paced a well as the lack of switching POVs. While this wa While this was a delightful adventure, encompassing all sorts of tried and true tropes and sci-fi worlds, in the end it just felt overly long and sloggish to me. I don’t what exactly it was about this book that just made it feel like that. Perhaps I just didn’t realize how long it was (it comes in at about 450 pages, and I was somehow thinking it would have been half that), but I think it had something to do with the way it was paced a well as the lack of switching POVs. While this wasn’t in first person, it was third person limited POV, which I find to be TOO limiting for an expansive world like this. Even if there were only a few chapters, or even portions of chapters, that switched to someone else’s mind for a while, it would round out the other characters more and give more background behind their motivations. It also struck me how all the chapters (okay, maybe not the last one, that was short) strove to be the same length. I don’t know if things will be edited out in the final version, but to me, having chapters all be the same length is the same as all sentences in a paragraph having the same length–things are needlessly drawn out or shortened to fit the average word count. Eva and her crew are a great (if tropey) bunch and while the chapter pacing isn’t great, the ups and downs of action vs reflection time is quite good. And honestly, aside from the pacing and POV issues that made it sloggy, I have nothing bad to say about this book in general! Which is always a sign of a book that is a good one–it just needs a bit more editing I think, and it would be a perfect slightly fluffy space opera read. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review! (Cross posted on my blog.)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes is a perfect read for those looking for an entertaining and humorous Sci-Fi read. It's not a deep book, but it just fun from start to finish. Eva was great as the protagonist. She reminded me of other pilots who love what they do, always expect the glory, but always has things go sideways before they get there. The story is filled with deceptions, chases, and botched jobs. You can't forget the hyp I received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest review. Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes is a perfect read for those looking for an entertaining and humorous Sci-Fi read. It's not a deep book, but it just fun from start to finish. Eva was great as the protagonist. She reminded me of other pilots who love what they do, always expect the glory, but always has things go sideways before they get there. The story is filled with deceptions, chases, and botched jobs. You can't forget the hypnotic cats either! I spent most of this book laughing consistently. The conversations between Eva and other characters are always well paced, and feel natural in the way she nails her quips and jokes. Hitting that perfect conversational pacing is tough, and Valdes does it super well. There are some small issues with the book that keep it from the perfect rating. One is the fact that descriptions of some characters, specifically alien races, just aren't enough to paint a good mental image of what I should be seeing as a reader. The other will be an issue for readers who don't know Spanish. There are a lot of phrases and slang in Spanish in this book. I grew up hearing and understanding much of the slang due to visiting my dad's family at times, but for those who may be in the dark, I hope the final book includes a section at the end explaining some of these phrases to the readers. I recommend this book for anyone looking for a humorous, and fun Sci-Fi read. It's a book with a protagonist over 30 years old, that felt like I was reading a YA novel. I'm not complaining as a YA fan, and by the end of the book, I definitely want to read more adventures of Captain Eva in the future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    A gem of a book that will make any Mass Effect or scifi fan happy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Queen Cronut

    Kidnappers. Alien emperors. Psychic cats. And she's out of coffee. A fun space-opera adventure featuring a quirky crew of misfits, questionably evil kittens, and slug mercenaries. While I wasn't a fan of the plot, I really liked the characters. Eva Innocente, the wisecracking leader of the Sirena Negra, was such a complex character and I liked that she was morally grey. There was a lot of Spanish here so Google translate became my bestie when reading Eva's di Kidnappers. Alien emperors. Psychic cats. And she's out of coffee. A fun space-opera adventure featuring a quirky crew of misfits, questionably evil kittens, and slug mercenaries. While I wasn't a fan of the plot, I really liked the characters. Eva Innocente, the wisecracking leader of the Sirena Negra, was such a complex character and I liked that she was morally grey. There was a lot of Spanish here so Google translate became my bestie when reading Eva's dialogue. Pink was a fun addition- I loved her sarcasm and unsolicited opinions. Vakar, I could honestly care less for though... so bland and kind of awkward smut scenes tbh. The plot felt rather disjointed. While it was certainly a rollercoaster adventure, I didn't like that the actions felt as if they happened at random. It seems as if the characters bounced from one place to another leaving very little room for a solid plotline. I also didn't like the conflict and thought it was underdeveloped- there seemed to be very little substance/rationale behind the villain's motive and wished it to be a bit more fleshed out as well as the vague worldbuilding. Not a bad debut- I'd certainly be open to reading the sequel. *Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins publishers for providing a free ARC

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joey De La Torre

    I don't think a book is the best medium for this story. It's definitely entertaining, unique, funny at times, and is certainly not bad by any means, but Chilling Effect seems to rely too much on situational comedy, where the characters find themselves in unusual situations and settings (which there's nothing wrong with). But books inherently take longer to setup and describe these situations and settings, often causing them to lose there impact. While this is a great form of comedy, I I don't think a book is the best medium for this story. It's definitely entertaining, unique, funny at times, and is certainly not bad by any means, but Chilling Effect seems to rely too much on situational comedy, where the characters find themselves in unusual situations and settings (which there's nothing wrong with). But books inherently take longer to setup and describe these situations and settings, often causing them to lose there impact. While this is a great form of comedy, I don’t think it works well in books. Witty banter and slapstick comedy is usually better for writing, but what little there was here seemed pretty stale. Also not really of fan of it being, yet another, Firefly copycat. Many have tried to replicate the successful motley crew formula, and Chilling Effect is the latest in a long line of letdowns. This was most likely better than I interpreted it as, but I'm just burnt out on sci-fi comedies lately, and this one's brand of comedy just wasn't up to par.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helen Wawrejko

    Pros Great premise, lots of action, likeable characters. Cons The use of Spanish in dialog, chapter headings etc. No explanation what was said for us non spanish speaking people. I HATED it. Took me right out of the story. I like to be able to know what I'm reading. The horrible t-rex part of the story. I almost stopped right there, seriously, so so bad. The cats. Not really integral to the story. 18 cats and after a year on the ship, there would have been a couple hundred mor Pros Great premise, lots of action, likeable characters. Cons The use of Spanish in dialog, chapter headings etc. No explanation what was said for us non spanish speaking people. I HATED it. Took me right out of the story. I like to be able to know what I'm reading. The horrible t-rex part of the story. I almost stopped right there, seriously, so so bad. The cats. Not really integral to the story. 18 cats and after a year on the ship, there would have been a couple hundred more after a year. Not much scientific for a space novel. Wishy washy ending. Her father just caves. What happened to her finding her other crew? This was not the book described in the synopsis. Not at all fun and adventurous, video games, pop culture references. Vague at best, just like the fun cats. Not recommended. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book for Netgalley.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

    Trigger warnings: PTSD, emotionally abusive family, mass death, toxic masculinity ***I received a copy of this book through TLC Book Tours from the publisher. All thoughts are uninfluenced*** Chilling Effect follows former galactic criminal Eva Innocente who, with her eclectic crew of La Sirena Negra, has abandoned her crime-ridden family to go straight. Unfortunately, when her sister is kidnapped by the largest space mafia in the galaxy, Eva must push her boundaries to get Trigger warnings: PTSD, emotionally abusive family, mass death, toxic masculinity ***I received a copy of this book through TLC Book Tours from the publisher. All thoughts are uninfluenced*** Chilling Effect follows former galactic criminal Eva Innocente who, with her eclectic crew of La Sirena Negra, has abandoned her crime-ridden family to go straight. Unfortunately, when her sister is kidnapped by the largest space mafia in the galaxy, Eva must push her boundaries to get her back. But the deeper she goes, the more it looks like she’ll never come out. I’m gonna say this straight up, y’all: this is what I wanted out of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. If you, like myself, were not a fan of the character-driven aspect of that book, this is the one to pick up. It has the fun, multi-species, land of misfit toys-esque found family, but with actual plot and action. The biggest enjoyment for me in this book was the main character. Eva is just so much fun. She’s stubborn and impulsive but not in the way that makes you want to smack her. Plus, since the book is #ownvoices for the Cuban representation, there is plenty of of Spanish interlaced with the text. As a Spanish-speaking person myself, I loved seeing that (it’s mostly cursing, tbh lol), and am so happy that is becoming more normal in the publishing world. This is also a super diverse book. We have: Latinx (Cuban), queer (no definitive labels but definitely several SSA characters), nonbinary/GNC, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I can’t get super into the plot because it gets real complicated at times, but all I can say is I read like 75% of this book in one sitting. It was addictive, and I cannot get enough of Valdes’ writing. Her character relationships didn’t suffer due to the strong plot, either. I really feel like I know each of the team, and even the minor characters and villains. While the characters and plot are super vivid, there were a few things that I was just not a fan of. And these can even be called personal issues, honestly. There’s a large time jump at one point, which seemed like it was only used to extend the book a hundred more pages. It kind of threw off the pacing and honestly, we could’ve done without it. Also, after that time jump, we kind of just brush off one of the characters. Like, homeboy was a crucial part of the crew and we’re not even going to really discuss his absence? C’mon, man. I can only hope he comes back in the sequel, because the casual brushing off of him (especially because he was a great character in showing the effects of post-combat PTSD) was kind of annoying. But honestly, overall, this book is officially on my list of favorite sci-fi books. If you are a lover of space opera, sassy characters, found family, and/or action packed plots, you’re going to adore this. I highly recommend this and cannot FREAKING WAIT until the sequel (CAN 2020 COME ANY SOONER OMG)!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ric

    Everything about this book was okay to me, which makes it a solid 3 star book for me. I liked it enough and it was a fairly entertaining story for the most part. Nothing amazing, but not too bad either. The characters were all decent for the most part. Eva was the one we saw most and we knew most about her. She was strong willed and a fighter, which I really liked about her. But I felt that a lot of the other characters like Pink, Min, and Leroy were so underdeveloped and one dimensional. I did Everything about this book was okay to me, which makes it a solid 3 star book for me. I liked it enough and it was a fairly entertaining story for the most part. Nothing amazing, but not too bad either. The characters were all decent for the most part. Eva was the one we saw most and we knew most about her. She was strong willed and a fighter, which I really liked about her. But I felt that a lot of the other characters like Pink, Min, and Leroy were so underdeveloped and one dimensional. I did like Vakar though, he was probably my favorite character in the book. The plot was a little weirdly paced for me. There was a ton of action, but there were some stretches were the story went off in weird directions that didn’t feel natural. I was interested in the plot though, and I was entertained for the most part. I do wish we got some more backstory on the characters though, there were certain events that were constantly brought up but never explained. This was a solid debut novel; one that I enjoyed reading. I’ll probably wind up reading the next one as well, because even though this ending was tied up pretty well I liked the world enough to read another story in universe.

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