Metal Bones is an enthralling science fiction story that connects two separate story lines. The first one is about Leo and Gaeth, brothers who are on a mission to cure Gaeth’s contagious “steel elbow.” After their neighbors have unfairly shunned them, they set off on a space faring journey to Oblurn, where all those affected by this mysterious condition reside. They encounter a series of interesting and unique characters which sets off a bunch of misadventures along the way. The second story line follows one of the most interesting sci-fi characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year: Tank, a man on a mission. His father has been missing for a long time and Tank almost loses his own life in search of his long lost father. A mysterious woman saves him and gives him an arm cannon (yes! a cannon for an arm) under one condition: he must protect a Myca, a child, at all costs. Tank agrees but soon discovers that everything is not as straightforward as it seems.
Metal Bones is an action packed novel with a quick pace interrupted only by necessary exposition that drives a far flung plot that’s held together by intriguing characters. Although the premise and situations of the characters are somewhat difficult to believe (a steel elbow? How would that work?), Kathleen Contine makes it work and the suspension of disbelief is pulled of quite easily. Everything is serious without being grave, and the light touches of humor really add to the whole experience.
Some of the comments and behaviour made towards his “disease” spoke multitudes about the way humans themselves deal with those with disabilities or conditions. I’m not sure whether the author intended to make a comment or draw attention to this situation, but it was a topic that was subtly and sensitively explored; I greatly appreciated that.
The characters and their motivations were also portrayed with great depth. Leo was not simply the selfless, sacrificial brother to Gaeth. And neither was Gaeth a helpless, grateful, steel elbow victim. All the characters were complex and human- that’s what made them so compelling.
Metal Bones a fun and interesting book that sets up an intriguing universe and places some engaging characters within it. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a science fiction novel with a bit of humor that’s rife with action.
Pages: 299 | ASIN: B084H9BMDF
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XHOSETI: AD 2492 is the second novel in your Xhoseti series where the Guardians must prepare humans for the coming war against the Xhoseti. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this novel?
The idea for the books started when I was in South Africa over a few beers with my father who was convinced that the human race had come from another galaxy and that there were 7 tribes who had been sent to Earth to see if we can co-exist with each other. This is an ongoing experiment as there is a galactic eternal war happening between many different species and they are at a stalemate. Project Earth is what I am writing about, and as such will terminate in the end of the experiment – eventually…
You give a new perspective to human history in a way that leads to one goal; preparing humanity for the coming war. Where did this idea come from and how did that develop while writing?
In the story, the human race has colonised a planet approximately 12000 light years from Earth namely, Termite, and they have discovered a future prediction machine which the Freemasons on that planet use to prepare for a war with the Xhoseti. They know they will lose the war and need to come up with a plan ‘B’ if mankind is to survive, so they head of to Earth. Which they have already tried to colonise one in the past and failed, another story in the wings.
Was this book a natural extension of book one Xhoseti Moon or did come after you finished the first book?
I have unfortunately sent the books to Literary titan in the wrong order. The first novel is the start of the story and is Xhoseti First Contact, which I might add is still to be reviewed. So the Xhoseti Moon story is a follow-on from Xhoseti AD2492 which in turn is a sequel to Xhoseti First Contact.
Will you write a third book in this series? If so, where will the story pick up?
The third or first book I will send through to you for review as soon as I get my a into g. I work as a full time piping stress analysis engineer and move around from country to country quite a bit, my apologies.
All that remains is to stop the wars and unite mankind against the Xhoseti when they arrive.
Will the Grand Master succeed with Plan “B” and finally create a united front against the insectoid invaders?
War advances man’s technology. As man advances, the Xhoseti become more empowered with every human they absorb.
Will man unite to defend the Earth against the Xhoseti or will their infighting be mankind’s downfall?
United man will survive…divided man will fall.
The eternal war between the two species wages on,one trying to survive the other trying to enslave… in the 2nd book in the Xhoseti series.
Aeon Rises follows Justin, an average teen, as he stumbles upon otherworldly beings that are trying to kill him. How did you come across this idea and how did it change as you were writing?
I wanted to write a story that would be fun for middle school or high school student to read. A scifi story with characters they could relate to and who they could identify with. Even though I was a secondary teacher for over thirty years, it had been a few years since I retired and I was sure some of the slang and habits of teens had changed some over that time. I enlisted the aid of a class of eighth graders to read portions of the story and give me specific feedback about the teens characters. Their feedback was incredible and guided my writing of those individuals in the story. The changes they suggested made the Justin, Kevin and Myah much more true to today’s teens.
Justin isn’t exactly an average teen, he has an aversion to most electronics. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to Justin’s character development?
Due to his inability to play video games or watch the same shows most others his age took for granted, Justin faced a fair amount of ridicule and bullying from his classmates, except for Kevin. I drew on my own experiences growing up being the brunt of several bullies, but I wanted Justin to rise above it and, though it still hurt, not give in to the abusers. He relied heavily on Kevin to get beyond it all, and then he learned about his abilities and his importance. That made everything else pale in comparison, even though he could not rub it in his tormentor’s faces. Aliens are a secret after all.
The Skutarans see Justin as a threat and want to destroy him. What were some sources of inspiration for you when creating their race?
I watch a lot of scifi movies and read a ton of scifi books as well. I simply took characteristics of evil aliens I have read or seen over the years and blended them into traits of the Skutarans: Arrogance, Hyper Ego, superiority complex, all combined with advanced alien technology. What more could you want in an evil overlord alien?
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be published?
I have recently been recovering from a major surgery, which has affected my ability to focus on anything for long. It is only in the past few weeks I have been able to start thinking about a new novel. To get back into practice, I am working on a short story about ice miners on Europa, a moon around Jupiter. From there, I have an idea about fusing scifi and fantasy in a story about aliens digitized into a LOTR style movie who are discovered by a fan of the movie and their collaboration to rescue the aliens from the orcs, wizards, etc. and return them home again.
Justin Madrid always considered himself an average nerdy freshman in high school, and an outcast because intense migraines prevent him from playing video games or watching television. Even looking at a phone screen hurts. But when the aliens, disguised as local librarians, started trying to kill him, everything changed. And now it is up to Justin and his cool new power to save the earth from invasion.
Posted in Interviews
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Space Rogues is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, action, and adventure as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
Organically, I’m more pantster than plotter so the stories just sort of form as they go. In hindsight it makes sense, since as a reader, I’m drawn to similar stories.
Wil was an interesting and well developed character. What was the inspiration for his character and backstory?
Wil is a mix of TV scifi characters. Some John Crichton (Farscape), some John Jaqobis (Killjoys), and a healthy dose of Mal Reynolds (Firefly). I like the idea of the out of his depth character, just getting by. He’s smart, but in a completely foreign environment and even the smallest things is a huge learning curve.
I’m assuming you’re a fan of the space opera genre. What are some books in that genre that you felt most inspired this story?
One of my favorite genres to read for sure 🙂 Omega Force by Joshua Dalzelle, Ryk Brown’s Frontiers saga, Randolph LaLonde’s Spinward Fringe, and Jamie McFarlane’s Privateer Tales are kind of my top four, I devour every new book that’s released in these series.
This is the first book in your scifi series. Where will book two take readers?
I view each book as a sort of episode or movie, so I like to sprinkle in a little bit of “Stuff happens before the story starts; a weird mission the crew is talking about, etc. Book two finds the crew in another “Save the galaxy, even though no one asks them to” kind of scenario. I like using the crew to explore big ideas I have, and letting the story play out from their perspective.
Wil just wanted a crew for his ship.
He got a galactic conspiracy.
Wil Calder is a human, the only one to leave our solar system.
But that was years ago.
Now, he’s a lonely smuggler, looking for a crew, because space is lonely and boring.
Just a few folks to boss around once in a while, is that so much?
What he definitely isn’t looking for, a galactic conspiracy.
But that’s what he and his new crew find. They’ve just met each other and now they have to save the commonwealth from war, no big deal.
Does this untested crew and their entirely out of his depth human captain have what it takes?
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An otherworldly adventure awaits readers in the pages of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby. The third book in a series starts off with a bang as readers are introduced, or reintroduced, to our protagonists Sydney and William. Theirs is a story for the ages as they defy distance and fate to be together. This epic saga will take readers on a journey through the stars and intertwine between lives and destinies. Come along as we watch our protagonists face their fears, develop who they are and take on what could be seen as an impossible undertaking. They aren’t alone and their friends will be there to help and support them every step of the way.
For those who are new to the series, the first few chapters might seem a little overwhelming. It’s clear that some major world-building was established in previous installments in the saga. There are some circumstances and terminology that readers will feel goes over their heads when they first bite into it. Not only does the story take place in outer space for a large portion, there are legends and transformations at hand that require a solid understanding about what has happened, in order to understand what will occur. The story is engaging and invites young readers to see themselves in the characters. We all go through some sort of metamorphosis as we develop into our adult selves. The transformation that Sydney undergoes could be likened to that. It’s just a bit confusing for new readers to understand the impact of previous events without reading about them.
If there has to be something to nitpick then perhaps the grammatical and stylistic errors that pop up ever so briefly would be the culprits. They aren’t startling enough to detract from the story, but a few rereads might be needed to make sense of what the sentence is supposed to say.
Cosby knows his craft and he knows his audience. It’s clear that he wrote this book for young adults as the language is easy and comfortable to read. The teens speak like real teenagers and ask the questions while speaking the frustrations that most teenagers might be too afraid to voice. It’s comforting to be able to read a book targeted to your age group and actually be able to identify with it. The fact that Cosby can share a point of view from the perspective of a young woman with just as much ease as sharing one form the view of a young man shows that he is dedicated to telling the best story that he can.
The space-odyssey of Solstice by Braxton A. Cosby is not a book to miss. It’s engaging and well written that readers of all ages will enjoy it. Young adults will get the most out of this book as they identify with the trials and tribulations our protagonists find themselves going through. While it might be confusing for new readers who have picked up this third book in the Star-Crossed Saga to understand what’s happening in the beginning, if you’re patient and devote your energy to this book, you will not be disappointed.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B01LZ4OMHI
Posted in Book Reviews
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Return of the Sagan follows a bookish young man as he wrangles his crew on a mission to save Earth and humanity. What served as your inspiration while writing this story?
As a prehistoric archaeologist, I have long dreamed of exploration of the cosmos and the past. My fieldwork centered on digging into the deep past for which no written records have surfaced. I can’t begin to explain how overpowering it is to uncover mysteries through digging and analyzing artifacts. It is a job that takes considerable time and patience as if you dig to deep, you can easily destroy valuable information. We only get one shot, so we have to be careful. For those interested in archaeology, I encourage them to see if local museums or colleges are operating excavations and having volunteer days – that way you can experience archaeology and avoid damaging/losing critical information. As for studying the cosmos, my wife already told me I can’t go to Mars 😞
As for the timing of the novel, my beloved Uncle Paul Leary was battling cancer so I wrote the story with him as a main character. He was able to read some of the story before he passed. My writing could never do justice to the lovely man that Uncle Paul had always been. We all miss him terribly.
Francis is a book worm that loves to quote his favorite authors. Is this an extension of yourself or did you have to research these quotes?
Totally me. Francis is named after my brother, Francis Aloysius O’Donnell. He was my parents’ first child who died at birth. I have often wondered what he would be like. Given my brother Ned and I (along with my sisters Moe and Sandi) can quote fantasy and scifi books all day long, it just seemed to fit that Francis would also be a bookworm like the rest of us. Mom and Dad were veracious readers and constantly encouraged us to read whenever we had the chance. Probably my favorite quote all-time is from Tolkien: “not all who wander are lost.”
The re-population of some of the world’s endangered animals was beautiful to visualize. What scenes did you have the most fun writing?
The mastodons and dire wolfs. I am a prehistoric archaeologist, and my specialty is in the woodlands of North Eastern North America. The people I studied lived side by side with Mastodons and the only reasonable prehistoric predator to suit the story, prehistory and climate was the dire wolf. After the book was published was when I saw Game of Thrones, a show I adore. I got the first season as a gift and then proceeded to watch the first three seasons over the course of two weeks. I then read the books after. I wish I would have encountered GOT before I wrote my novel as I would not have included dire wolves. I have referenced other extinct species from North America in my books before, particularly giant sloth, but for a predator in SAGAN, I would just conjure up something other than wolves because of GOT, though wolves are prehistorically accurate for the area and dire wolves would really be the only predator to fit the circumstances in the story. I did very much enjoy Francis’ stand on the bridge – total throwback to the Bridge of Khazad-dum. When I was a kid, my older brother Ned was devastated when Gandalf fell in the Fellowship of the Ring. Thankfully he read the next book quickly and was ecstatic to say the least. Gandalf’s stand was just so moving. When I got to the bridge standoff in SAGAN, I couldn’t help but make that connection.
Do you think you will write more stories about the crew of the USS Carl Sagan, or continue Francis’s story in some way?
I already have plans to write the story of the initial crew of the Sagan that left Earth centuries earlier. As for Francis, I have contemplated his leading the building of a ship and a subsequent sea voyage, but I have many other projects that need to be finished first.
300 years ago, USS Carl Sagan blasted off from overpopulated Earth in search of survival. Returning to Earth, the USS Carl Sagan finds humanity now extinct and Earth populated by deadly, once extinct pre-historic predators.
What disaster eradicated mankind? Was it man-made or of natural origin? One thing for certain: survival for the USS Carl Sagan and its crew will difficult at best, as while humans are no longer inhabit the Earth , they left behind deadly machines to guard the airspace against space invaders. The commander and the crew of the returning Earth ship will have to overcome those unexpected fool-proof sentries. And the machines are not the only obstacles for the travel-weary men and women of USS Carl Sagan to overcome. If they want to re-inhabit Earth.
Posted in Interviews
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Beyond Yesterday, written by Greg Spry, is an intergalactic space adventure that sees Commander Maya Davis rise through the ranks to earn herself a spot driving her own space-time vessel. But the excitement is short lived as she discovers she is to be sent on a deadly mission due to a 200,000-year-old piece of tech that has unexplainable connections to her past. With her superiors informing her that she may never be able to return to the present, Maya must make decisions that could have terrible consequences for herself and the entirety of mankind. Will her choices erase the human race forever?
From the first page of Beyond Yesterday, I was instantly transported to space, to a world where vibrant colors glow atop of the islands, bots and AI’s make the majority of decisions and exotic algae and mold thrive. In the midst of space travel, there are humanistic problems such as allergies and drug issues which provide an almost humorous side to the in-the-future styled plot line.
At times the language was a little confusing as the entire world created in the novel was completely unique. However, once you got your bearings, it was easy to be lost in the new world and I quickly began to understand the locations, and labels for objects, plants, and people. One of my favorite futuristic parts of the storyline was how your health/body was instantly analyzed if you were injured and then you would automatically be injected with numbing agents or medications. With these advances, it’s no wonder their average lifespan is now 200 years. Imagine if we had this in the real world!
The battles against the Grey’s are fast and furious and they hit hard and heavy. There were aspects that reminded me a little of Star Wars and Stargate as they battled with androids and AI’s, commanders and advanced technology. Greg Spry’s ability to describe the mechanics and functions of technology in the future was impressive and I felt as though I was in the cockpit beside the characters as they battled in space.
It was refreshing to have two females leading the plot line in bravery and ambition, compared to the usual male domination presented in these styles of stories. Brooke is a sixty-year-old woman, a determined, head-strong admiral and accomplished fighter pilot. Her strength and focus is admirable as well as her ability to keep calm in situations of crisis, making her one of my favorite characters. Commander Maya Davis (Brooke’s niece) is clever, crafty and capable of strong leadership and guidance. She’s made incredible sacrifices to be in her position of power and continues to put the safety of others before her own- even if it comes at an irreversible cost.
I would recommend this for all lovers of space adventures and futuristic styled novels. It’s hard not to get lost in the book as you leave Earth to explore the world beyond.
Pages: 336 | ASIN: B073DY3QSZ
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