Book Review: Foiled by Carey Fessler

New book review alert! We have delved into the world of middle-grade books this time. Presented here is a book called Foiled by Carey Fessler.

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Synopsis: It’s 1947 on a U.S. Army base near Roswell, New Mexico, and eleven-year-old Kate’s friend and neighbor, Billy, shows her a secret. A CIA agent arrives at Billy’s house, to recover the Top Secret items, and threatens the family, warning them to never talk about the incident—ever. Special Agent Falco informs them of their sudden reassignment to Germany. Billy, not wanting to move to Germany or return his treasures, begs Kate for help. Feisty and fiercely loyal, she agrees to hide him.

Thus begins a most unusual road trip in which the two friends use their wits, their knowledge of the terrain and geography around the base, and sheer determination to evade capture. Kate must also reach her grandfather, more than two hundred miles away, and warn him how the secret poses a dangerous threat … to anyone involved.

Their race has begun, and there’s no turning back.

This was an average middle-grade book. It had likable characters, despicable villains and quite an adventure through different parts of New Mexico. I was kept entertained all the way through it with Billy and Kate’s antics. They bantered back and forth just like two young kids would and it was fun to experience this kind of honesty and childlike innocence.

It was set in the 1940s and had all these references to things that are a part of our history (especially baseball and comic books). I identified with Billy as a child because, like him, I would read comic books and want to be just like the superheroes/protagonists of the adventure.

There were some parts of the book where I would think that they should be a little more descriptive of the scene but this could have been because of the nature of it being a middle-grade book. The author was just making it easier for kids to understand and in turn, this would keep them from losing interest in the novel.

Overall, I think it is a genuine adventure book that would be fun for kids to read when they are experiencing books for the first time and just starting to explore the world of literature. It just gets better and better the more you open your world to reading!

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads or the Author’s Website.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Provider​ Prime

More fantastic reviews from our external reviewer Chris Connors! This one was called Provider Prime: Alien Legacy by John Vassar.

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Synopsis: Earth has endured world wars, global famine and the near-collapse of civilization. It has always survived. But it has never seen anything like this…

After a century of peace, world security is under attack from an entity with incredible power and intelligence. Something that has remained hidden within the Populus for decades. Something malevolent.

Facing impossible odds, one man is caught in a race against time to find and eliminate the threat. Earth’s all-powerful AIs, the SenANNs, offer hope but have their own agenda for the future of mankind. As an alien starship appears on the outskirts of the solar system, the loyalty of the most advanced machine minds the world has ever known will be tested.

In the final reckoning, with the future of humanity at stake, the SenANNs themselves will hold the balance of power.

Will they stand with the human race or assist in its subjugation?

An expletive might be appropriate here, but I’ll settle for, “oh boy, this book was good!” I admire anyone who has taken the time to write a book, even if it isn’t all that good, because, by gum, they sat down and wrote a friggin’ book! How awesome is that?! Then you get an author who not only has written a book but has done it so well you wouldn’t know that there was no professional publishing house behind him.

For the most part, this book was difficult to put down at bedtime. It wasn’t just good in terms of the storyline, but good in terms of writing, both creative and technical. If there were any spelling errors or major grammar mistakes I missed them. I thought I spotted an incorrect comma placement right near the beginning, but that’s probably po-ta-toe vs po-taw-toe scenario; and I was so involved in the story right from page one I didn’t even slow down to check. The attention to detail needed for this level of technical writing is something you expect from a professional editor—my reviews have more grammatical errors in them than this entire book (I’m pretty good at spotting errors in my own work but only after they’ve gone online or been sent out to a client).

Set about 2 centuries in the future, Earth’s scientific knowledge has leaped forward since the time of the Great Famine when several billion people died and humanity was in danger of extinction. Space flight, orbital living quarters, AI, Moon and Mars colonies are thriving, and crime rates are at a manageable level. People are beginning to exhibit signs of telepathy or empathic connections, something that is viewed with a bit of suspicion, but doesn’t stray into us vs them X-men territory; instead, it plays a background part that adds to the storyline rather than be the storyline.

Part of the story blurb from Amazon states, “After a century of peace, world security is under attack from an entity with incredible power and intelligence. Something that has remained hidden within the Populus for decades. Something malevolent.

Facing impossible odds, ex-FedStat agent Lee Mitchell is caught in a race against time to find and eliminate the threat. Earth’s all-powerful AIs, the SenANNs, offer hope but have their own agenda for the future of mankind. They also have plans for Mitchell which will make him question what it is to be human.”

It won’t come as a spoiler, given the sub-title of the book, that aliens are involved, but at first, you don’t know why they’re here—to aid or to subjugate?

One thing, of many, that I liked is the author doesn’t explain all the terms— he doesn’t spoon-feed you like some authors (you know who you are) who seem to have a low opinion of their readers’ intelligence.

In real life we don’t explain all our acronyms or terms or how things work to people we talk to, but use them with the understanding that they also know these shortcut terms or how things work: MTO, OPP, coppers, 9-1-1, tweakers, NFL, change the spark plugs, electoral processes, and on it goes. Vassar’s technique feels much more “realistic” than having characters explain things for the sake of the reading audience that should be obvious to the other characters in the book.

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Did your pilot just explain pilot acronyms to another pilot?

With Vassar, the reading audience can pick up what is meant within a few pages of seeing the terms used in context. His well-done technique kept me turning pages; I wasn’t pulled out of the story, which happens when some character explains what should be obvious to those around him. I feel this type of writing technique is under-appreciated by many readers because the story flows so smoothly they don’t recognize why it flows that way.

He also manages not to veer into William Gibson territory who has taken “aggravatingly obtuse” to a whole new level; Gibson is brilliant, but avoid going on Gibson reading binge if you want to maintain your love of reading.

The pacing of the Vassar’s story also kept me turning pages. Things did slow down a bit near the end, strangely enough, when the alien spaceship finally shows up—it was still interesting though. As well, there were a couple of items that didn’t seem to fit into the story—it wasn’t fully explained why an agent’s communication node failure was integral to the story nor why it had to malfunction; far as I could tell it wasn’t necessary as that storyline could have been fulfilled using devices that are already in place.

There is also a couple of near Deus ex Machina used to extricate characters out of tight situations near the end (one technological, one convenient telepathic intervention); it felt like cheating to me. If you don’t know what Deus ex Machina is, don’t look it up—it’ll ruin Star Trek for you forever.

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“Don’t look, you’ll be ok, this will be the last Deus ex Machina device for this week, ahhh.. I mean season”.

And, I thought the love interest wasn’t developed well at all—Mitchell just meets this person yet they’re deeply in love. Yes, they both are latent telepaths, but the story didn’t explore how this brought them towards deep love. The love interest felt tacked on to give Mitchell more motivation for continuing on against some good-sized odds.

But those are minor quibbles. The line “We are the same. But we are different” (see front piece picture) is a recurring theme in the book, which ties things together. It is especially put to good use at the end of the story where the words “We are the same” take on new meaning, which gave me a happy chill. The universe Vassar has created felt realistic, creatively done, and was clever, which is fitting considering his writing was the same way.

The ending does leave room for further books in this universe. It also could end right there, as it was fairly satisfying and leaves it to the reader to imagine what might happen next. If Vassar does continue with this universe I’ll buy those books. Personally, I want to know how Mitchell’s life continues as all he knows now will completely change how he sees life. Vassar has demonstrated that his writing is comparable with some well-known authors, and I thought it was better writing than some big names (you still listening, Dean?).

For just the technical prowess alone I’d give 6/5 stars if there were such a thing. For storyline, creative writing, imagination, well-developed universe, definitely a 5/5 star book, and then some!

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy the book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Star City by Edwin Peng

Another book  has been read and reviewed! This one is called Star City by Edwin Peng.

This book was pretty good. The main characters were Emma (the youthful student ambassador) and Sepporinen (the chosen Alien delegate). They work together to cure diseases with the use of the alien technology. But a lot of the world doesn’t agree with working with aliens and choose to start anti-Bar’en groups (Bar’en is the alien race that Sepporinen is a part of).

There was some teen love but I found that most of it wasn’t exactly believable. It just seemed like a very elementary school kind of relationship.

Most of the events that happened in the book were pretty predictable. I kept waiting for that moment when you think you know whats going to happen and there is a twist that just makes for a great ending but it never came.

There was a lot of progress towards accepting different cultures. This I did like about the book because it promoted accepting everyone and taking away the fuel of hatred towards others based on skin color or religion.

It was interesting enough to keep me going and I liked the book cover too. I think the sequels will be promising and I hope for some more adventure with the main characters.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Oh and finally I will reveal the Giveaway Winner!!! And the winner is…….drumroll please……….KYLEE BAKOWSKI! I will get in touch and get the book to you. Thank you to everyone who liked and shared the post and participated in the contest.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author and publishers to read and give my honest review. I also did a book highlight and giveaway for this book.

Book Highlight – Star City by Edwin Peng

So I have been sent a book call Star City by Edwin Peng for free to review. I am doing a book highlight first before I finish the book to give everyone a little taste of this science fiction adventure and to give you a little insight into the author by sharing an author interview!

It isn’t every day you read a debut novel that you know will be just the beginning of a successful career, but with Edwin Peng’s Star City (Evolved Publishing, December 4, 2017), it’s clear from page one that this book is something special. Star City is more than just a world-shaking sci-fi adventure for YA readers, with a dash of romance and a super cool alien race who happens to love blueberries. From Peng’s unique take on human/alien first contact, to his diverse cast of characters, and a protagonist with strong ties to her STEM roots, the book feels lively and well thought out on every level.

Synopsis: Eighteen year old Emma Smith is exactly where she wants to be: she’s headed to the University of Nebraska with a full scholarship to, and on top of that she’s been selected by the U.S government to participate in an exclusive medical research project. The project, as it turns out, isn’t an average college internship. Emma has been selected as a student ambassador to liaise with the Ba’ren, an alien race that has recently made contact with Earth in order to share medical technology. The project will kick start Emma’s biomedical engineering career, as well as give her a chance to interact with this mysterious alien race she – and all of humanity – are very curious about.

Unfortunately for Emma, her Ba’ren counterpart, Sepporinen, has very little interest in her humanity as a whole. He is most excited about the opportunity to explore and mine the asteroids of Earth’s solar system, but is compelled by his government to take part in the research project. As the two work together, they begin to draw closer, and form a friendship – and perhaps more. In the meantime, they discover far more is at stake with their project than what their respective governments have let on. Political and cultural clashes between the humans and the Ba’ren intensify, and Emma and Sepporinen must risk everything to help maintain the fragile peace between their two species.

Star City is the best kind of YA – it encourages readers to enjoy the story, and yet to think beyond its pages. Fans of Rick Yancey, Melissa Landers, and Claudia Grey Alexandra Bracken will gravitate towards this series, and will be so glad that they discovered Edwin Peng, a debut author we’ll certainly be hearing more from.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

What inspired you to write Star City?

Edwin Peng: I have always loved YA, so that’s the genre that I always knew I would write. I really hope that my fandom shines through, but at the same time that my novel is  different than what’s currently out there. The other thing that inspired this novel was my experience in the highly competitive Early Entrance Program at California State University, Los Angeles. I was 13 when I went to college, which is a little bit out of the ordinary (to say the least!). Some of the very smart, very driven, and very geeky characters in my novel are loosely based on that experience.

Why did you choose to set the book in Nebraska?

Peng: I moved to Lincoln, NE five years ago. I are to love this state and its people. One of my favourite books is Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. There are enough books – not to mention movies and TV shows – set in New York City or Los Angeles. I believe there should be more novels set in “unpopular” places such as Nebraska.

What do you hope readers will take away from this novel?

Peng:  My hope is that Star City provides pertinent social commentary and challenges the average YA reader’s preconceptions while still delivering a funny and exciting story. The most obvious theme of the Ibook is the need for peaceful relations with other cultures. In our increasingly connected world, we must be much more understanding and tolerant of others.

Why was it important for you to feature a diverse set of characters in the series?

Peng: Traditional publishing, especially within the young adult genre, has a long history of excluding marginalized groups, both in their fiction and for real life readers and authors. In the rare instance that a young adult novel features minority/lower class/LGBT+ characters, they are often stereotyped and/or whitewashed on the cover or movie adaptation. The Star City series fights for diversity with many, non-stereotypical characters, who readers from marginalized groups can identify with.

When you’re not writing, what do you do?

Peng: I am a postdoc doing materials engineering research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Some of the alien technologies in Star City actually are inspired by the research I’m doing!

Connect with Edwin Peng at www.edwinpeng.com, on Twitter @edwinPeng88, Facebook, and Instagram @edwinpeng88.

Star City can be purchased on Amazon:

Disclaimer: All copy was provided by Smith Publicity and they own the rights to the materials provided.

I hope to talk to you bookworms soon about this one when I am finished it.