Book Review: Intraterrestrial

Our external reviewer Sara sent over another review she is very excited about. She recently read Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley and had great things to say about it.

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Synopsis: Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

This novel is a little like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but for young adult readers. It’s a little intense, and if you dissected it enough you could finds all sorts of hidden meaning and perhaps even Biblical allusions to analyze.

This novel follows the journey of a young boy named Adam Helios (even his name warrants analysis!) who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. While in the coma, he is taken by aliens (or is he?) to help them defeat The Nothing Spot which is attacking their ship, The Consciousness. The only catch is, the entire experience is built by his imagination – the aliens only have bodies because that’s how he imagines them, he travels around the ship, which is actually the solar system, because that’s what his imagination creates, and so on. This book also follows the journey of Adam’s parents, who are waiting for him back on Earth, hoping he will recover, and are going through their own journey of discovery.

This book is very strange, no doubt about it. There are times when you have no idea what’s happening, or why, and it frequently gets gross and a bit scary. This book is also beautiful, as it is (perhaps) a metaphor for Adam trying to find himself as a person, through all the self-doubt and uncertainty that he feels as he is becoming an unpopular teenager. He must rescue several different aliens from The Nothing Spot, which endlessly tells him that he is meaningless, and no one cares about him, in order to heal The Consciousness – all while his body is attempting to heal from a traumatic brain injury.

There’s really a lot more to this book than you might think, especially as you consider how everything might tie together for Adam and his family and friends. This is a book about self-discovery, but it’s also a book about aliens, the solar system, and a bit of science.

Overall, I think this book is a win. I would recommend this to any young adult friend who likes things a little bit stranger than the typical coming of age theme prevalent in so many young adult novels.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this 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: Foe by Iain Reid

Wow. Just wow. This book was awesome! Hey bookworms, I have another review to share with you. This one is called Foe by Iain Red. and was sent to me by NetGalley for review.

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Synopsis: In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

It would be classified as a sci-fi psychological thriller? It’s Iain Reid. His books for lack of a better word f**k with your head but in a good way that keeps you drawn into the story and wanting more.

I figured out the twist pretty quickly but read the entire story to get the satisfaction that I was right. It was like unpeeling an onion layer by layer and unveiling each new part to the story that gave you just a little bit more.

The character development was wonderful. The main characters become so engrossed in their lives together yet are so far apart from each other at the same time. They get set in routine but don’t actually realize what the other is feeling.

If you don’t want to know any more, go buy this book! But below I will reveal a spoiler so don’t read it if you don’t want to know the end.

SPOILER BEGINNING

SPOILER HERE - READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

So I knew right from the beginning that Junior wasn’t human due to the fact that when he spoke, there were no parentheses around his words. None the less, I was still engrossed in his character development and loved learning about the Installation and where the real Junior has been all along.

I also love that Henrietta actually left the real Junior at the end to make a life for herself that was her own and where she wasn’t expected to be at Junior’s beck and call. The fact that Junior couldn’t tell the difference between real Hen and a fake shows a lot about his personality and his connection or lack thereof with the real Hen.

SPOILER END

This book is a must-read recommendation from me! I want to talk about it with others and hear their opinions. If you have read the book, leave a comment below about what you thought.

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format from NetGalley 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: The Cosmic​ Hello – Lessons in Co-Dependency

Bookworms!! Guess what?! I have another review for you. But before I jump into that, I have some news to share with you. I have been reaching out to different Canadian Publishers to see if they wanted to do some collaborations and a couple have responded and wish to do so! You will be seeing some fantastic work from these publishers when I get to working on our collaborations but for right now, I am just super excited that they want to work with me 🙂

For the review, this one is called The Cosmic Hello: Lessons in Co-Dependency by C. Alexander.

Book Synopsis: “Couples therapy sessions slowly morphed into solitary therapy sessions. My therapist kept coming back to the question of my passions, and where I was headed. I knew it was writing. So I wrote. I wrote my pain of loss. I wrote my confusion about the existential questions that plagued me as someone who grew up in the bible belt, but had a hard time swallowing the bigotry I saw. I wrote my struggle through heartbreak and single life. I wrote my triumphs in self-confidence, and ultimately I wrote a new love story, with a new person. Ultimately, it’s not about meeting the right person; instead, it is about finding out that you are quite capable of loving yourself, and anyone else loving you is just a wonderful sprinkle on top.”

Ok, so this book was too short. I want more! It is another poetry collection but I loved the intensity with which this author talked about his past love life. It is simply beautiful and poetic and real. Oh so real.

“It’s in our nature to destroy in order to create.”

They connect with their reader in a way that sticks with you. The hopeless romantic in me is loving the progression of vulgar, bitter-sweet poems to remembrances of love and hope for a future with it in it. I resonate with the author’s feeling of never fully being ok after a breakup. Feeling like a part of yourself is broken and can’t be fixed. This comes with the territory of serious committed relationships. But eventually, we get to a point where the scars that the last person left are washed away like names written in sand and you can feel love and be loved again.

I will not settle for less than shared sunsets unaccountable, but always to few.

I want to type out one of the poems from the back of the book because I found it so enlightening and I couldn’t help but share it.

The Things We Make With Our Hands

I want to grow a tree out of my chest
gnarled roots as veins, ventricles.
I want to brew my coffee with soil,
French Press, not those drip machines.
I want to bear fruit
that children suck between their teeth
when they take a 5-minute break
from playing hide and see.


I want you to build a home in me
With leaves and twigs and broken things
I want you to feel secure
on clear starry nights
or when the storms threaten to topple me over,
“Case baby I won’t break,
Won’t be destroyed by happenstance”.


And when this is done,
you can chop me down,
count the rings and stories I made for
myself and for you.
Pour the sap in syrup bottles
so you have something sweet with your breakfast.


Build foundations with me
and let every knot that splinters your
front porch, every imperfection,
be understood in the way only you can.
You can knock on me to ward off bad luck
and I’ll always be your cool shade in summer.

Isn’t that just beautiful? I strongly recommend this book to poetry fans who like the brutal honesty of relationships and how to survive when one comes to an end.

Book Rating: 4.5/5 (Lost .5 because it was too short :P)

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.

There is also another book on the block that you should check out if you haven’t heard of it yet. It is called Addicted To Hate by Lucia Mann and it is a great one! You can find it on Amazon or on her website: www.luciamann.com!

Addicted to Hate - Front Cover


Black Friday - up to 50% off (ends Nov 25)

In a galaxy far far away……

*Begin Star Wars Theme Song*

If you like Star Wars and accessories for your laptop, notebooks, or whatever you like to stick things to, then you will love this giveaway. I have a pack of 4 unique Star Wars stickers up for grabs!

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All you have to do is like this post and follow BreakEven Books. That’s it! If you want extra entries, you could share the post. I will be drawing a winner on March 31st.

As for an update, I should have a new review soon for a genre of book I have never read before. It is a collection of erotic novellas so definitely something different from my usual favorite sci-fi books! Keep your eyes peeled for that review closer to the end of the week.

Talk to you later bookworms!

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

What book changed your opinion about something?

Alright this is going to sound kind off silly but the book that changed my opinion about something would be The Martian by Andy Weir. It changed my opinion because I used to think Mars would be so cool to visit but after reading about Mark’s time trying to survive on Mars, I think I am good just staying on Earth 😛

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Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads): Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

This book was so intense! I loved that it was scientific but that it dumbed it down a bit for you to understand. The way Mark survived for so long all by himself with very limited supplies was amazing. You find yourself constantly wondering how this guy is still alive (I know if I was in these circumstances, I would not last long :P). This is one of those rare cases where the movie followed the book almost exactly and was just as intense. Andy Weir is a great writer and I would strongly recommend checking him out if you ever get the chance. I know he recently just came out with another book which I will have to pick up soon.

Let me know which book changed your opinion on something in the comments!