Saturday, October 25, 2014

Eden M51 by G. R. Paskoff


This review was written by: B
Received: GoodReads Giveaway
Publication Date of Book: April 2012
Pages: 438
Stars: (4.5/5)

"Nothing is without limits, and all things require effort, Nathaniel Oliver, even those which seem effortless."

Humanity is on the brink of destruction.  Natural resources are depleted, oceans are almost void of all sea life, and the capacity for housing on Earth's surface is practically nonexistent.  For this reason, people have now inhabited the moon and even live underwater. However, these places are obviously not ideal for normal people to live comfortably in.  For this reason, a search for a planet with the same qualities as Earth has begun.  Of course, this is not an easy task, and there have been false alarms, but when one finally has been found, promising data creates a stir around the world.  Every country wants to be one of the first to reach the planet and explore it, striking a stronghold for their nation to be front and center for colonization.  However, it was mutually decided that every country would work together to assemble a research team to collect further data to ensure this promised land is really worth moving to.  The scientists and flight crew members range from Americans all the way to the Chinese, but things will definitely not go as planned despite the purposeful action of assembling mixed individuals on the mission for the chance of equality when it comes to saving the whole world.

Nathaniel Hawke has been placed as the pilot during this mission, given the very important task of getting everyone to the planet's coordinates and back to Earth safely.  The M51 mission will be tougher than anticipated, though.  Despite all of the preparations and careful planning, dangerous things have been going on aboard the space craft.  A traitor is in their midst and a murderer lurks in the shadows.  How can humanity's salvation take place if no one is willing to cooperate?  No one knows who to trust.  Hawke is trying to keep things under control but when lives are on the line, dread and anticipation both take over all at once.  With Eden so close that the crew can almost touch it, people's dreams seem to becoming true, but will it all come crashing down around them?  Will the planet be all that they hoped for?  What will they find there?  Can everyone's salvation be acquired by the M51 mission, and what happens when a life form  similar to us is found on Eden?  Read Eden M51 to find out!

"You're chasing shadows, if you ask me." -Hawke
"A big part of my job is to chase shadows, you know.  Chase them long enough and you might just catch something of substance." -Bishop

Warning: Slight spoilers may be brought forth when I express my thoughts on the book.

Recently, I feel as though I'm finding really great books, and I've honestly been really surprised by a lot of what I'm reading.  Sometimes you found gems when you're not even looking.  Recently I've read 97 by V. L. Holt and just started reading The Silent Deal by Levi Stack, two extraordinary novels, and Eden M51 is yet another amazing story to rival today's modern literature.  It was equally part suspenseful, part mysterious, and part thought provoking.  Everything anyone could love about science fiction was put into this story, and one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much was because of the strong characters.  They showed the reader all of the aspects of what it means to be human.  The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, it was all there.  It perfectly portrayed that in the end, while we may be flawed, some of us will fight for what's right and not back down.  Out of all of the characters, Hawke was obviously my favorite.  His troubled past yet strong perseverance at the end showed just how much his character must have grown through his life.  Plus, his character developments and story were definitely well done.  Then on the other hand, we have Max Snelling.  This character was an antagonist who you just had to despise.  I always say that when an author makes you feel something besides indifference or total annoyance towards their story and especially their characters, then they did a job well done.  As a reader, I want to feel something towards a character because of how they are written or for what they stand for, and Paskoff did a wonderful job with this, especially with Hawke and Snelling. All of his characters were expertly portrayed through their thorough emotions, actions, and thoughts.

Eden M51 may be considered a larger book, but it never drags along at an agonizing pace.  It basically encompasses a broad range of time that include the period before Hawke goes into space with his crew, the time he is in space, the landing on the planet, and their stay, followed by the inevitable repercussions of human beings and their visit.  If I had to choose a favorite part, I would hands down say the moments when they were in space heading towards the promised planet.  The reasoning behind this decision is because of the frequent action and deception that takes place during this time.  Once they reach the planet, these aspects in the story slow down a tad bit.  However, the details and beautiful descriptions of the planet that is so similar to Earth is breathtaking and easily replaces what is left out.

The aspect of God, or in this case the people on this planet call him Ah'n-Ben, was a profound part of Paskoff's writing. He put a twist on the common religious views of God, making him a creator that left Earth long ago.  I was definitely intrigued when Hawke got to have his conversations with him because they spread over quite a large range of topics.  I definitely found it sad to hear how the Creator left our home planet in this book to create a better one and an even better one after that until he decided he liked this one, but it was such an enriching element to the story.

The only thing that was a little hard to follow in this book was this time period's lingo.  However, there was a glossary in the back for all of the abbreviations if you wanted to go back and find out what they meant again.  Also, there was this one scene in the book that I won't go into very much detail out of fear of giving too much away, but I just want to point out that it was written so expertly.  Just when you thought the newly found planet was perfect, you're proven dead wrong.  I was stopped dead in my tracks when reading about the individuals who deviated from society's norms.  The impact of those scenes pertaining to this moment were just shocking and ultimately hard hitting when it came to the story line.  My heart couldn't take the injustice that I felt.  It just took my breath away.  Hats off to G. R. Paskoff!

Overall, I was deeply impressed with Eden M51 and loved it more than I thought I ever would.  The ending left things wide open for further developments.  After finishing the book, I went onto G. R. Paskoff's website ( and was absolutely excited to find out that there's going to be a sequel!  Now I am eagerly awaiting a synopsis on it.  Also I totally believe that Morgan Freeman would be an excellent actor choice if this book was ever made into a movie.  :)  You'll just have to read the book to find out what I mean!

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Santa Claus vs The Aliens by James Cardona

This review was written by: B
Received: Free e-book from the author
Publication Date of Book: June 2013 (paperback version)
Pages: 120 (paperback version)
Stars: (5/5)

"A person can only play the hand that they are dealt and my cards...they weren't so good you see."

One day, Fundy witnesses a strange object falling out of the sky.  It gets stuck in the nearby mud, and a strange man comes out of it.  Fundy first believes the object to be something like an asteroid and hopes to sell it for money, but when he realizes a person is in it, he helps the man pull his strange vehicle out of the brown goo that it's embedded in with his own horse, Paulo.  To thank Fundy and to repay him for his generous services, the peculiar stranger bestows upon him a ring and tells Fundy that he can call upon him anytime he needs help for he will surely show up to assist him.

Fast forwarding to present day, Edwin, Fundy's adolescent son, is now in possession of the ring.  After his encounter with the strange man, Fundy and his wife moved to the United States hoping to find happiness, but instead they eventually get divorced, placing Edwin in a children's home when neither of them could take care of their own son, but before Edwin was sent to a home, Fundy gave his son the ring.  The father had tried to call upon the man he met long ago many times before, but he never came in all of that time.  Now several years after his divorce, Fundy has remarried, had a little girl, acquired a decent job, and wishes for Edwin to come back home.  Alas, the boy cannot bring himself to do this.  He feels as though his home is no longer his own if a strange woman is living there.  Edwin knows that he will no longer see his father and actual mother together ever again.  It's just not right to him.

Out of frustration, Edwin throws away the ring in a park during a winter's day.  However, he soon finds himself feeling guilty and returns to search for it on Christmas Eve, and, just after finding the ring, he encounters two extremely odd individuals who seem less than human.  It's obvious to him that their anatomy and speech pattern are completely off.  Edwin flees from the scene once he has the ring back in his possession, only to find himself later followed by these creepy creatures.  No matter how many turns he makes, routes he takes, or back alleys he hides in, they always find him.  With them hot on his trail, Edwin goes into a Macy's store, rushing to find safety.  He has no idea what they want from him.  Once he finally arrives in an area where children are lining up to talk to the Santa stationed in the store, Edwin is given special attention by the man who is supposed to deliver toys all around the world to children everywhere on Christmas Eve.  Santa gives him a knowing look and tells him that he will never stop being followed.  What in the world is going on?  Who are those people that are chasing him?  What's with this Santa, why does he seem so authentic, and most importantly, how does he know about Edwin being tracked down if he never mentioned it?!  Read Santa Clause vs The Aliens for the answers to these pressing questions!

I have to start off by saying that this book was so enjoyable!  Despite the fact that it's actually geared towards a younger audience than myself, I found it to be a really fun and great read for a person who's older than the targeted age range.  I can definitely see a younger person reading it just as much as a whole family with people of varying ages sitting and reading it aloud together during the Christmas season.  It has many great qualities in it including a Christmas message that is more subtle than boisterous and overbearing.  I highly recommend it!

My favorite aspect of this book was how it took place during the twentieth century.  While we all think we know the story of Santa Clause, Cardona put an unexpected yet fascinating twist on the origin of this cherished yet timeless figure.  I just really got into the Christmas mood while reading this story despite the fact that's is only October.  Alas, I still have a couple more months to go.

There is simply something about the character Edwin that I really fell in love with and latched on to.  Perhaps it was his family situation and the decision that he had to make when deciding whether to live with his reconstructed family or stay at a children's home that naturally drew me to him.  Also, the slight peek into Fundy's past was a rich addition to the novel.  Then there were the aliens!  What child doesn't like either Santa Claus or aliens?  After you put the two together you get one smash adventure for the whole family to enjoy!

Overall, I have to say Santa Claus vs The Aliens was an imaginative, entertaining, and original story placed in a fast paced and thoroughly genuine tale of love, family, and Christmas.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Princeless #1 By Jeremy Whitley

This review was written by: B
Received: Library 
Publication Date of Book: April 2014
Pages: 128
Stars: (4.5/5)

Adrienne Ashe is a far cry from your typical princess.  For one, she doesn't want to be a princess or even carry out a princess's duties for that matter.  She has a strong mind and will of her own that is not easy to break.  For this reason, when her parents tell her that she is going to be locked in her very own tower at the age of sixteen because it is the princess tradition, she quickly tells them that this is never going to happen.  They reluctantly agree with her, saying that she can follow her own path, but this is all a lie.  Adrienne is drugged and then placed in the very same tower she desperately wanted to avoid and is now under the watch of a dragon, and here waits the princess for the dashing knight to slay her dragon, set her free, and whisk her away.  Obviously, this is just not going to work for her.  

Bored out of her mind, she decides that she doesn't need a prince to rescue her, she has a mind of her own after all.  Adrienne wants to be her own hero.  This is made easier for her when she finds a sword mysteriously hidden under her bed.  Taking the dragon as her companion, Adrienne sets off to rescue her older sisters who are still stuck in their own towers and her little sister who has yet to be placed in one.  As the story progresses, we find out that this is not going to be as easy as she expected.  Her overbearing, violent, and "macho" father has a plan of his own.  

To start off, I would like to point out that this book had lots of great humor.  For an example, the following is an excerpt of when a knight comes to rescue Adrienne from her tower but miserably fails.  As you can see from the cover, Adrienne, is of darker color.  

"I seek a fair maiden Adrienne!"(The Knight yells up to her tower.)
"Oh, brother."-Adrienne
"Fair Maiden!  Be YOU Adrienne?"-the Knight
"Be you a MORON?"-Adrienne
"Um...what sayest thou?"-Knight
"I sayest...'Be you a MORON?'  Be you of LOWER than normal princely intelligence?  Do you UNDERSTAND the words coming out of your own mouth?  Do you know what FAIR means?"-Adrienne
"Um...beautiful?," says the knight a little shaky and confused.
"WRONG-O, Prince Chuckles.  It means WHITE.  As in, FAIR SKINNED, as FAIR as the new fallen SNOW.  As FAIR as the MOON, or as FAIR as a LILY.  I ASK you then...does this look FAIR to YOU?"-Adrienne 

Whitley addresses countless princess stereotypes that we have seen over the years in a new and innovative way, full of humor and independence.  I loved princesses when I was younger and all of their fairy tales.  That being said, I don't want to say that this graphic novel bashes them, but shows a different story of what we see in today's independent girls.  It's a fairy tale that proudly stands on its own while demonstrating the strength, intellect, drive, and  courage that females have.  It also bravely depicts that girls don't need a Prince Charming to make them happy or to save them from despair.  They can also be their own person and find their own way.  

There are so many great elements in this story.  There is one female character that is a blacksmith but is too afraid to tell people because then the men won't buy her items.  She also feminizes her armor for girls so that they show what guys want to see.  However, she discovers that girls don't have to wear that stuff and can actually wear armor that will properly protect them for their own sake. 

What's the greatest part of Whitley's book is that this story is not just for girls, but it's also for guys.  Adrienne's brother is the only son in the family, meaning that he is to take over the thrown when he is older.  However, his father says that he is not manly enough, strong enough, or the "kingly" type.  He likes to read poetry and be intellectual, which is what the father views as what a king should not be.  They need to be able to fight.  So, not only do we get to see how it's okay for girls to be independent, but we also get to witness how boys don't have to be macho men to make it in this world.  The main point is, you can be who you are as long as you are yourself and shine your true colors.  Break away from the stereotypes of society and make yourself happy and stand up for what you believe in.  I would have loved to have had my parents read this to me before bed every night and would have definitely eaten it up.  Princeless is a great book for all ages and genders, and for this reason, it is definitely getting a high rating from me!

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