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J.O.E.

J.O.E.: Just an Ordinary Earthling

Joe is your average college kid on spring break, just wanting to take a camping trip with his friend Homer.  They are camping out in the continental divide, Homer’s first experience with camping and Joe being the good buddy that he is teasing him to no end. Late at night Joe is off near the lake watching the stars when unexpectedly an alien ship crashes into the water. Frank and Fred soon have their first encounter with an Earthling. After accidentally getting stuck on Frank and Fred’s ship and launching into space, Joe finds himself in the middle of a jewel heist, and some intergalactic espionage, as well as at the center of a planets battle for freedom from two other worlds disturbance. It was a busy week for Joe and his most eventful spring break ever.

While the book starts out on Earth and then moves to the planet Ladascus, it is hard to remember sometimes you are not on Earth. Some of the characters are described, but aside from the different language they sometimes use, so much of the scenery and even the day to day activities are the same as any town on Earth. There is a very familiar and at home feeling to the setting and even the characters, that while the authors tell you they are not human, the definitely feel human in their personalities and mannerisms. The town most of the story takes place in is called Ngorongoro. It has a mix of low tech and high tech devices, including part of the population being androids that are made to emulate human minds and appearances. They can even have addiction problems, what are they addicted to? 9 Volt batteries from Earth of all things. The novel has quit a bit of humor such as this sprinkled through out, like the Ladascus Zoo, it has four humans on display. This creates an awkward moment for all parties involved. While the story doesn’t always feel like it’s from an alien world, I love that I can relate to experiences that are going on. The political maneuvering of the characters reminds me of the insanity revolving around our own politics right now. The authors write on a level that made me want to be there, to see it all unfolding and made me care about the characters, especially Joe.

The story line of the diamond heist introduces us to Ralph (not their real name) and how the miss scheduled job interferes with an intergalactic spy ring’s operations. This side story is quite fascinating, reading about the double life, bringing me back to the old spy movies, it was engaging. There are highly sophisticated and complicated spy nets and agents. One famous agent is Evinrude for the Quesonte. He is entertaining and very good at what he does. He is one of my favorite characters in the novel because of how well he outsmarts the others and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Edward A. Szynalski and Allen L. Petro give JOE Just and Ordinary Earthling a comical and unique twist to the alien abduction plot. The connection to the characters and relatability to them and their world with our own world is the reason for the five stars.  The aliens are so human like in their behavior it is relatable to the reader. The subplot of Homer being lost in the woods and thinking he is going to die is comical and provides a reminder that Joe is off in space with aliens. Overall it is a good novel that will keep the reader engaged and entertained by the antics of all the characters as well as the different plot lines to follow. I would love to see a sequel to this novel and read more about the world of Ladascus.

Pages: 218 | ASIN: B06XJWVKTN

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Creatures Venturing From Another Dimension

Lane Baker Author Interview

Lane Baker Author Interview

Slippery Things follows Larissa as she tries to navigate high school when she starts having nightmares of blood sucking aliens and can’t tell if they are real or not. How did the idea for this novel develop and how did it change as you were writing?

I love monsters, so of course I knew I had to write a book about them. Also, I’ve always found the concept of alien abduction beyond unsettling. And while I certainly don’t believe extra-terrestrials are visiting planet Earth, I wondered if the idea of creatures venturing from another dimension might make for a creepy tale.

The biggest change in the novel’s development was the point of view. Originally written in first person, I ultimately rewrote the entire book in third person. Two early readers of the the first draft suggested that if written in first person, the reader may not feel as urgent a sense of jeopardy for the main character.

Larissa is a typical teenage girl dealing with a cheating boyfriend and a self absorbed best friend. What were some characteristics that you tried to capture while writing all three of these characters?

For Larissa, it’s anger and disappointment. These emotions spring from a feeling of being trapped. Luckily, her sense of humor will help get her through the day. As for the others, I believe it’s typical for high schoolers to feel that the world revolves around them. Perhaps it’s difficult for young people to see just how deeply their behavior can affect others around them.

Slippery Things gives a unique twist to the science fiction genre. What was your approach to writing an alien abduction/invasion story while to keep it entertaining?

My personal interest in this story has always lived more with the main character than with the plot. That said, I was born with a dark sensibility. I thought about what I personally find creepy and tried to exploit that.

As far as entertainment goes, my favorite scene in genre films tends to be the point where “all hell breaks loose.” A goal of mine was to emulate this moment by building to a chaotic chase scene towards the end of the book.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next book doesn’t have a title yet, but you can expect another young adult sci-fi novel entering the universe down the road. There will be a couple of similar themes, but an entirely new setting and diverse cast of characters. And although creepiness will certainly be on the menu, I’m working towards an overall shift in tone.

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Slippery ThingsJaded high school Junior and detention hall regular Larissa Locke has a recurring dream in which creatures sneak into her bedroom at night to perform experiments and extract her blood. Tiny scars on her arm suggest that perhaps she isn’t just dreaming. But wait! If she’s really the victim of blood-sucking alien intruders, then why is her bedroom window still locked each morning?

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Slippery Things

Slippery Things4 Stars

Slippery Things by Lane Baker is a short novel about the things that go bump in the night, alien invasions, and a fight to save humanity. Larissa Locke is your typical teenager that has an attitude and objects to parents and other authority figures.  Her mom is in a mental hospital, her little brother is “Mr. Perfect” her boyfriend cheats on her, and her best friend is too wrapped up in her own love life to see what is going on anymore. While she comes across as a trouble maker she soon turns out to be the only one that understands what is lurking in their small town and she alone must figure out how to save everyone.

The novel starts out with Larissa explaining why she filled the head cheerleader’s locker with manure. While this is interesting and sets up some of the teen drama for the characters, it set’s the tone and pace for the rest of the novel which is fun and engaging. The story takes place in a small town where everyone knows everyone. The general feel is one of your small town high school where the kids form cliques and stereotypes are the norm. Overall a very relatable setting for any reader.

The first night Larissa she wakes up thinking she is dreaming that aliens are performing tests on her. You get the standard amber light filled room, fuzzy feelings and mysterious instruments. The night time encounters continue and they start talking to Larissa. There are four of them that she has named Dark Eyes, Scarface, Curly Locks, and Sunspots. These aliens claim to be harvesting her blood to cure a disease in their world. At first she is okay but realized they are taking more blood and more often and when she tried to avoid them they went after her brother Carter and father Gary. At this point Larissa’s only thoughts are to protect her family and start sending the aliens to other homes. After one victim ends up in the hospital Larissa decides she needs to stop them. This begins the battle.

Larissa makes a trip to the hospital to visit her mom. She finds out her mom is there because of these aliens and everyone thinking she is crazy. She also gives Larissa a tip to help fight them off. From here we get Larissa planning out her attack on the aliens and her capture by them. She is taken to their world where she must escape and save her own family and town.

Aside from teen banter with cheerleaders and the cheating boyfriend stories, the overall plot of this novel is entertaining. It takes the alien abduction story in a different direction and has a few surprises for the reader. This is a great quick read for anyone looking for a quirky young adult novel in the science fiction genre.

Pages: 156 | ASIN: B00WOXCYYQ

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An Equally Ferocious Misery

Clayton Graham Author Interview

Clayton Graham Author Interview

Milijun follows Laura and her son Jason as they witness aliens arriving on Earth which begins a strange trial involving the impregnation of human females with hybrid embryos and exploration of spiritual compatibility with the aliens. This is definitely one of the more original plots I’ve read all year. Where did this idea originate and how did it grow into a novel?

Milijun actually started as a short story. The birth of the alien RNasia occurred in the short story, and when they decided to wing their way to Earth I knew it could not end there. They seemed to want their universal journey to be worth something; they wanted their mission fulfilled. So I decided to oblige them. I trust the book is about more than an alien incursion into the Australian outback. The story challenges the reader to contemplate our place in the universe, or multiverses (as we are now led to believe may be a possibility). I wanted Milijun to explore how humanity would react when faced with an intelligence it cannot understand? It’s a good question, for it may happen someday. We are not currently prepared, of course, we are light years away from understanding how we should behave in such a circumstance. Milijun challenges our mindsets through the eyes of a mother and son, and as such is perhaps more powerful and meaningful than if that challenge was through the eyes of the United Nations or the President of the United States. The spirituality aspect is critical to the story. I have always been interested in the links between science, religion and the spirit and believe one day they will come together. Currently on our planet there appears to be a tremendous amount of high level investigative energy devoted to studies into the afterlife; how it relates to our known universe, what it is and where it can possibly be. In the end, Milijun probably asks more questions than it answers. But it does raise the questions. We cannot relax on Earth forever, ignorant of our cosmic surroundings, idling our time away, creating a mirage of prosperity, which appears to create an equally ferocious misery.

I felt that the relationship between Laura and Jason was deep. What was your inspiration for their mother-son relationship?

The novel certainly explores the relationship between a mother and son. How far can it be stretched before the links break? How far would a mother go to save her son? Would she be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, or undertake actions she would never have deemed possible prior to the alien incursion? I lost my own mother shortly after the Second World War. Thus, I grew into the teenage years under the guidance of my grandmother. Thinking back, they were more inspirational than they appeared to be at the time. Laura and Jason, I feel, have the connection which most mothers and sons would want – full of love, strong and unbreakable. If only all relationships, human and international, were like that!

Have you always been fascinated with alien invasion stories? When did your interest in it begin?

It’s our connection with the rest of the universe which fascinates me. Science Fiction has been with me since I was a teenager, escaping to new worlds in the back streets of Stockport, England, where I grew up as a child. Halcyon days, when education and school milk were free, and summers were real summers. We didn’t have much, but we had enough. I have always had an interest in Science Fiction and where it places humankind within the universe we know and love. I treasured the ‘old school’ science fiction written by authors such as HG Wells, Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov and John Wyndham – well before many were made into films.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

I am working on ‘Saving Paludis’ at the moment, which is set in the year 3898 AD, some one hundred and forty light years from Earth. It explores the links between an alien culture and mankind, interplanetary economics, military force and power. It also asks the question: what happens when a culture concentrates on a single purpose-driven technology over a period of hundreds of years? Paludis is a far-flung world on the edge of Earth’s universal exploration. When the bottom drops out of the bauxite market, desperation is seeded as the planet begins to suffer. However, the discovery of a new technology that can dramatically change the way humans explore the universe looks like it will save the day. The mother planet, however, does not see it that way, especially when several savage attacks on Earth appear to emanate from Paludis. Inevitable conflict results, and it is only the combined efforts of a group of renegade humans and their alien allies which can ensure the survival of Paludis. They have to battle Paludis cultists, who wish to use the new technology for their own bizarre ends, the Paludis establishment and the earth military using their own unique brand of wits, strengths and intellect. Only perseverance, faith and bravado will win the day amongst the verdant marshes and snowy mountains of Paludis. But can they overcome the military might of the mother planet? Availability should be in the first half of 2017.

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MilijunIt is Australia in 2179. On a moonlit Nullarbor night, Laura Sinclair and son, Jason, witness aliens descend to Earth. The extraterrestrials endeavour to form a symbiotic relationship with humankind, and Jason is chosen as a genetic link in a bizarre trial involving the impregnation of human females with hybrid embryos and exploration of spiritual compatibility. Laura crosses swords with Major General Sebastian Ord from the Australian Defence Force, Eucla and Uriel, the enigmatic head of Milijun, a reclusive research facility in the outback. Following a disastrous armed attempt to capture aliens at Cocklebiddy Cave and a fierce confrontation at Eucla, Jason is abducted by an alien swarm. What follows tests the resolve of Laura to the core. Caught in a relentless web of frightening new technologies and alien mystery, spurred by the undying love of her son, she gains a strength of character she never thought possible. All she has to do is save herself, Jason and several women and unborn children from the scheming plans of man and alien alike …

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Suddenly Dropped Into My Mind

Ken Hart Author Interview

Ken Hart Author Interview

Behind the Gem follows Raymond and his coworkers as they are taken from Earth and transported across the galaxy where Raymond becomes a surrogate for the aliens eggs. How did you come up with this intriguing and idea and develop it into a story?

The idea just suddenly dropped into my mind. It took off with a mind of it’s own, with me towed behind. It quickly became an obsession, and I was frequently awakened at night with ideas that had to be written down before I’d forget them. Many ideas were lost until I purchased a voice recorder that I keep with me constantly. I keep it on my bed table, and the next morning, I’m amused by the sleepy voices emanating from it while I write down ideas recorded from the night before. Like any novel in progress, the story line changes; it has to. The first completed write of Behind the Gem is 235,000 words long, The finished version of Behind the Gem is 81,00 words long.  Some of the first write will appear in a second story in progress, Behind the Gem: A New Direction.  Don’t groan, it won’t be as a flashback.

Raymond has to overcome many obstacles in his new life with the Drassens. What was the inspiration for the culture of the Drassens? Are they modeled after any particular society?

In contrast to the alien movies on the silver screen, I have always envisioned a gentle, benevolent society of aliens, showing us how to live in peace and harmony with them, and each other. I had to shuck the commonality of current thinking about aliens, and dig into my imagination for a story that I would enjoy.  Key words, ‘I would enjoy’.  I wrote Behind the Gem for my own entertainment, but encouragement from others suggested I should get it published, get a movie deal, make lots of money (what?). Reality supersedes such lofty goals, but we must have a dream to keep life interesting. This dream is mine.

I understand that you grew up in a military family. How do you think that affects your writing?

Not so much for Behind the Gem.  It does have a limited effect on my second novel, The Eyes Behold Tomorrow.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be published?

To be released in 2017, my third novel, It Was A Small Affair, chronicles an Army infantry squad delivering ammunition to a training exercise, gets caught in a time warp that lands them outside the Alamo, thirteen days before it fell. My own military experience is shown here with glaring efficacy.

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Behind The GemRipped from heart and home by galactic farmers, Ray and his co-workers are taken hundreds of light years across the galaxy and left to fend for themselves. When he begins hearing a voice in his head and is unjustly blamed for the deaths of his friends, he is separated from them and is led to a gentle race of aliens called the Draasen. He experiences a new way of life with responsibilities and challenges he never could have imagined. He is accepted into their society, but at a high cost to his dignity when he is led into protecting and birthing their eggs. When the galactic farmers arrive to take the Draasen population as fodder, the Draasen’s fate becomes entwined with that of the nearly extinct human race and their mutual struggle to survive.

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The Scalian Legacy

4 StarsThe Scalian Legacy is science fiction tale that follows a man named Jack Felder who thinks he is going on a leisurely trip in the Amazon, when he finds out his brother, Robbie, has been taken and Jack needs to save him. At the same time, a hundred light years away, another planet is brutally attacked. Jack’s rescue mission turns into an adventure outside this galaxy and into a battle to save not only Jack’s brother, but the fate of several other worlds. This alien invasion based story will take readers on a wild ride where they never know what to expect. It takes them beyond the world they know and introduces them to something new and unique.

Norman Monfort provides a tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats waiting for more. And it seems this novel is ripe for a series of novels. The prologue treats readers to a vivid description of a planet named Helos 4 being attacked. I was immediately drawn in and the rest of the story just takes off from there. There is never a dull moment, nor does it ever feel like it is going too slow. Don’t try to predict what will happen in this novel because you won’t be able too, there are so many twists and turns, you’d think you’re riding a roller coaster. You never know what to expect with this novel and that makes for a fantastically thrilling story. The writing is not highly complex with words most people don’t use every day; it is written plainly and right to the point without a lot of filler material.

There are points in the story where the characters talk about how belief systems effect how you handle tragedy, this is a part that is highly interesting and you don’t find in many books. What Jack has to say about what he believes is interesting and causes the readers to almost stop reading and think about how their own belief system affects the way they handle tragic times. Monfort writes in a way that makes the reader feel as if they are sitting and listening to the story being told rather than reading the story, which heightens the enjoyment of this story. Readers will find themselves engrossed in the story, unable to tear themselves away from the pages.

This book will thrill science fiction fans and military fiction fans. It has a little something for everyone in this novel. I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a new author to fall in love with. The Scalian Legacy is a book that would make a great addition to any bookshelf and will find itself being lent out to others to read.  It is easy to see why fans will be eagerly waiting more books from Norman Monfort.

Pages: 318 | ISBN: 1534645209

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Tarbabies: The Shadow Man of Ichabod Lane

Tarbabies Book 1: The Shadow Man of Ichabod Lane (Tarbabies, #1)4 StarsTarbabies follows the protagonist, Josh, as he and his wife experience a catastrophic event that changes the world as we know it. Through news reports, Josh watches as New York City falls victim to what he calls “tarbabies”, monsters made of a soft, gooey substance. These tarbabies have the ability to change any living thing they touch into one of them, and they are immune to physical attack. It’s not long before the simple yet dangerous monsters show up in his neighborhood, and despite their slow, plodding movements, they manage to increase their numbers daily. Josh and his neighbors try to learn as much as they can, but their knowledge might not be of any use, as they are slowly running out of allies. What they do learn, though, is just as mysterious. There is something attractive about these monsters. People attacked by them feel no pain, and instead seem to experience some kind of euphoria before being taken over completely. Josh and his wife leave their quiet neighborhood, determined to reach the safety of her parents’ home across the state. Will they make their journey safely? What are these monsters, and are they getting smarter?

Josh and his wife have loving, fun interactions. Brady did very well crafting these two, and I spent almost every page of the story hoping that both of them make it through. The author also excelled at creating each of the characters on Ichabod Lane, especially the young boy Logan, who treats the dangerous, slow-moving monsters as a fun activity.

The novel also has a nice balance of settings. There are scenes taking place in big cities, small communities, woodlands, and more. The characters travel well and the descriptions of their travels are very entertaining. Particularly, it was fun to read about Josh and his wife and their hiking adventure through the Catskills.

This novel is written very well. If I have any complaints, I would say that the pacing is a little rough, due mostly to the slow pace of the monsters, themselves. The main thought for the first half of the book is that if the main character does get captured by any of these creatures, it would be a silly mistake that would only immensely frustrate the reader. The events also take a long time to unfold once the initial shock from the discovery of the monsters takes place. There are several characters that are well written, but their interactions are difficult to care about as the action is a bit dull.

Overall, this novel provides plenty of tension and suspense through the monsters that have invaded New York. While the reader may want to experience more suspense and action, the author seems to be in this story for the long game, taking his time to develop the characters and to develop the rapidly evolving monsters. This series will be more entertaining the longer one reads, so don’t quit if the first hundred pages aren’t enough.

Pages: 272 | ASIN: B017PSKB58

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