Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet by Tommy Balaam is an imaginative and educational children’s adventure story of a spaceship captain and his dog Winston. When Winston is hungry and they find that there’s no food in their fridge, Captain Fantastic gets an idea. They travel to a Chocolate Planet full of sweets and treats for them to devour. They roam around, eating nearly everything in sight. When they return to their ship they’re so stuffed that they can’t fit through the door and don’t feel well. How will they ever get home?
Tommy Balaam’s has fun story full of vivid imagery, and it’s use of onomatopoeia and rhymes just makes the book much more engaging an interesting. The art in the book reminds me of a comic book style, with bright colors, clear pictures with some depth to them along with floating text boxes. The detailed artwork is visually appealing and will easily capture any child’s attention. This book does a fantastic job of delivering a message on health, eating, and exercise. It is certainly one of the more creative ways that I’ve seen to educate children on these topics.
I am giving Captain Fantastic and the Chocolate Planet, by Tommy Balaam 5 out of 5 stars. Filled with incredible artwork, a sweet story, and fantastic characters, this a perfect gift for young readers.
Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08PJPWJ18
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Change by NG Nelson is the first book in a riveting science fiction saga. This fast-paced story takes place over many worlds. The novel follows Major Patricea Markis and her journey to protect the young prince, Kal Jerran. This is a captivating story of warring dynasties, there are themes of myths, legends, loyalty and deception. Allegiances are tested and questioned, and betrayal is frequent. Change is rife with action to keep the reader hooked, including violence, seduction and assassination. The continuous action ensures Change is an energetic read.
Change has numerous characters that narrate each chapter but overall the story follows the path of Major Patriciea Markis who is charged with the difficult task of protecting the young prince Kal Jerran and evading the forces of the New Imperium. However, there are also many other important characters, such as Paul and Bernadette from Earth, Hellia, a journalist, Vel Toyan, Ral Dannan and Martial Varian. Nelson’s clever use of vocabulary and dialogue help to distinguish between the many characters and their worlds. The characters are further defined by the outfits and descriptions of body language and physical characteristics, ensuring each character is fully developed and easily distinguishable. The rich descriptions of the setting throughout the story appeal to the reader’s sense of sound and sight. The worlds are like characters in their own right. This is an epic space opera with a universe that feels large and intriguing, reminiscent of the Frank Herbert’s Dune series.
Like any good science fiction tale, the story is filled science fiction trappings: teleportation, inter galactic travel, and holograms. Coupled with this and interwoven into the story are the trappings of royal life; servants, military protection and ladies in waiting. These are further juxtaposed with the description and narration of Paul and Bernadette and their everyday life on Earth. These stark contrasts between lives add to the multifaceted story being told.
Change is an enthralling space adventure novel that will appeal to fantasy and science fiction fans alike. Thoughtful world building, intriguing characters, and high stakes ensure readers are consistently entertained.
Pages: 232 | ASIN: B08PTFP27D
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The Guardian War Chronicles Vol I follows a brash truck stop intendant as she is unwillingly thrust into a game of cat and mouse with the fate of the universe in the balance. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting story?
I’ve always enjoyed the written word. It had been a dream of mine to write a book and tell a story my way, with my own voice. To be honest, and not intentionally confusing, “Vol II” had always been the first book in the series. Vol II (for now we’ll call it RISE) was edited, the artwork was in process, ready to publish, but something didn’t feel right. I was pleased with RISE and was told it was a fun read (staying in the vein of science fiction/action adventure) by my editors and beta readers, and I was ready to commit, but something was out of place.
That was… back in 2016.
The Surrender Game (the new Vol I) then became the backstory (an epic prologue), to what would become the rest of the series, continuing with RISE as Vol II. And the series title “The Guardian War Chronicles” came into existence.
I had a “what if” idea, and one day after work, I sat down at the computer and started putting the pieces together.
I come to the hard realization after RISE was completed, certain “items” needed more context and definition. The contents of the black backpack needed some explanation. Specific characters (even the “villains” perhaps) needed to be fleshed out a bit more. The Surrender Game became my outlet to unify all those things I believed were missing/lacking in the bigger story.
I’ve always been a huge fan of high energy, fast moving, quick pace, rapid-fire, snappy dialogue, action packed content, and never letting up for a second. I’m a child of the 80’s, a teen of the nineties, raised with Star Wars, Star Trek, adventure flicks, cop/buddy movies, and science fiction novels and comic books of the time, and in those make-believe places, I found my escapes. Those faraway locations in my imagination were what guided me to want to tell my own stories, generate my own characters and “bad guys” from the ground up, build places and make things, and create my own universe from scratch. Staying inside that lane I’m comfortable and familiar with. Always being myself.
I wrote these books initially for my own personal enjoyment. Writing has always been a hobby and a coping mechanism for me. I had never thought of publishing, until I was instructed by a trusted friend in the author community that I should publish my work.
I longed to write something in which the reader “wants” to turn the page, read every line, and itch to read the line after, and be curious to what happens next. I wanted to write a story “I” could read and get lost in. I wanted to create something that doesn’t let up, has the appropriate cliffhanger moments, and has that same high energy I enjoy. Even those areas where the story slows down momentarily, are not slow for very long. I desired a certain uniqueness with different characters, a level of fun, mysteriousness, excitement, on edge, gritty, with a mystical/mythological/fantasy quality. Sticking with what I know.
Liberty Bell is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I’ve always been of the belief that we are all products of our environment, and life experiences. Who we are, what we’ve become, is an amalgamation of everything we have been through, and experienced personally throughout our lifetime, good or bad, up to this exact moment in time. When High Intendant Liberty Bell was in early stages of character creation, (believe-it-or-not), she was the anthesis, mirror opposite, to the character you’re familiar with, today.
She was in her late twenties, sweet, loving, caring, yet stern with her subordinates when necessary, but kind to all she interacts with… giving, selfless. Prim and proper. Dressed to the nines. Immaculate quarters. Decorative/pretty surroundings. Always willing to do the right thing. Stepping on no one to get ahead in life.
One night while working on her back story development I had a moment where I said to myself, “Nope. The High Intendant of Truckstop One, Liberty Bell, is not the sweet, “southern belle,” bed-and-breakfast owner, accommodating rig pilots and local truckers with a gracious attitude; always smiling and pleasant to be around.
It had to be the opposite. Her life experiences, environment, early teenage trauma, those “Markena” encounters, the routine and reality of her lifestyle, the dangerous unpredictable setting within the walls of her Truckstop, mixed with the isolation and permanency of being a fueling station owner/operator, her shady “friends” and colleagues of the industry, the stress, would eventually mold her into something a bit more hard, forthright, no-nonsense, brash, and perhaps a bit self-centered. Tyreel would say to her, “we’ll create an empire in Truckstop One, Liberty. Trust me. But to create an empire, one needs to think like an emperor.”
Tyreel had a large role to play in her development as well. She was forced to rely on his expertise and advice in the early years. She had to trust him and believe what he said was true. With Tyreel’s daily influence, the ongoing training, being that little voice always whispering in her ear, helping Liberty find that respect and level of success she so desperately wanted; Tyreel played a large part in her growth over the span of thirty (backstory) years. She became a product of her environment. She became “honest”.
What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?
I do believe the “good versus evil” dynamic is an obvious prevalent theme throughout the novel, however, I wanted to wiggle free from the stereotypical hero(s) versus villain(s) concept and play around with the idea of, “what if those lines of good and evil are not clearly defined? What if the villain is right? What if ‘doing the right thing’ is vague, and doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons could be a foggy area, difficult to navigate? I wanted to explore that area of thought and the repercussions of those choices made.
Which then led into some of the other themes I enjoyed exploring: Love, friendship, sacrifice. How would we react and respond to certain situations, and how far are we willing to go? Is there truly a gray area regarding ethics? Are my characters willing to cross that line, and if so, what is the outcome or potential outcome? What is the villain capable of? Is there really such a thing as a no-win scenario? What could happen if the rules of the game are always in flux and open to interpretation? Is there really an “at all costs” mentality? I’m hoping I pulled that off with the Surrender Game. I’d like to believe Liberty navigated those paradoxes and self-discoveries in the only way she knows how.
This is volume one in The Guardian War series. What can readers expect in volume II?
I included the first chapter of Vol II, at the end of the Surrender Game, to allow a glimpse into what could happen next or where the story potential could possibly lead in the future. Allowing some room for reader imagination (while waiting for its release, stay tuned) and hoping the reader desires to remain in my universe to find out what happens next. The overall story, over the span of the series, is quite large and all ends need a beginning. Vol II splays out the foundation to how the story will be told moving forward. Vol II is the true beginning to the grand tale. Keeping with the same pace and action as the Surrender Game.
The Surrender Game ends, in what some have described as a bit “uncomfortable”, “a gasper” and that was the intention. Vol II provides some breathing room after the uncomfortable gasper and takes the reader elsewhere for a time, but never deviating from the storyline.
Readers can expect more action, more unique characters, science fiction content, twists and turns, and maybe some of those mystical, mythological fantasy type facets of the story, will begin to take shape.
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Space Taxis by A&H Frosh is a thrilling adventure through time and space, following the life of one Mike Redolfo. Redolfo is a cab driver in the 1970s who is abducted by aliens from the planet Vost and finds himself unable to return. A parallel storyline is set in the 1940s, where a couple is trying to escape the horrors of the Nazi regime. The stories of both these timelines intertwine in interesting and unexpected ways- with references to both history and science.
The worlds built in both timelines are imaginative and compelling. Even though Vost is obviously (or at least I hope) a fictional planet, the intricacies of its social and political world were laid out in great detail. In many ways, it felt similar to how things unfold here on Earth. Even the rituals and beliefs of the alien leaders had some parallels with history.
Redolfo is a mysterious character with a haunted past- but he is also very intriguing. He faces a dire situation with a dark and charming humor that makes him instantly likable. Similarly, Marianne and Dominik were also really easy to root for. The author clearly has a knack for writing endearing yet flawed characters. Even Tannis, the antagonist, had a realism that made him all the more vile and insidious.
While I enjoyed this vivid science fiction story, I felt that the plotlines were a little complicated and chock-full of characters from various dimensions and timelines. Helpfully, the author has provided a descriptive list of characters at the end that I often turned to for context. It can be a little hard to keep track of what’s happening where and when, but I trudged on and it all made sense at the end. I think even a second read could be worth it just to see how everything was put into place. I wouldn’t think that historical fiction and a science-fiction would mesh well, but they definitely do. There’s something so interesting about being propelled back and forth between the past and future, and between reality and fiction, that makes it a much more unique read.
Space Taxis is a quick-paced and adventurous novel that I found to be deeply intriguing and consistently entertaining. I loved its uniqueness and would recommend it to anyone interested in science-fiction or mystery/thriller books.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08H19CCWR
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The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel follows a savvy woman who must protect her DIY time travel device from some dangerous people. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun story?
First off, thank you for your review and kind words about my novel! It’s always a thrilling and humbling moment when I hear that someone actually enjoyed it!
The list of things that inspired The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel would take up about 514 pages, but here’s the very condensed version. Time travel stories like Back to the Future, the delightfully comedic works of authors like Christopher Moore, Alexander C. Kane, and Jenny Lawson, the current socio-political climate, my own experiences as a Mexican-American, and, of course, my love of strong, female leads.
I wanted a story about a very exceptional but downtrodden character who, despite all her gifts and skills, just wants a normal, simple life. But because of those gifts and skills, normalcy just isn’t in the cards for her. With supervillains, evil corporations, and guardian demons and angels alike coming after her, the story really is about Quality having to decide whether she’s going to rise to the challenge and reluctantly embrace her role as badass heroine.
I wanted a funny fish-out-of-water adventure where this character has every reason in the world to be a jerk…yet somehow remains positive and committed to protecting this pesky little thing called the space-time continuum.
Quality Jones is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
I wanted her to be, at heart, a good, moral character despite a lifetime of never fitting in, never being accepted, and forever living under the fear of persecution and even death. It was important for me that she remain true to her core despite all the temptations to just give in and make lots of money off of her time travel technology. More importantly, I wanted her to be real. She’s not perfect by any means. She’s kind of selfish, a little bit immature despite her age, a little bit ditzy despite being very clever, and not the wisest person despite being a technical genius.
But I wanted her to endure lots of suffering, including the loss of her great love, but still be able to bounce back and fight through. Even though she prefers to live an anonymous, normal life, things outside of her control push her into extraordinary circumstances, and how she chooses to respond is at the heart of this planned trilogy.
Finally, I really wanted Quality to serve as a lens through which to view our own reality. She is, after all, an outsider that grew up in a parallel timeline where there never was a United States. Now, she’s in a world where corporations can invasively enforce brand loyalty, where corrupt police can do whatever they want to whomever they want, and where it’s illegal for someone like her (i.e., half Mexican) to hold a good job. Quality’s earnest observation of things is, in my opinion, the perfect vehicle for some much-needed satire for this day and age.
This novel delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?
Without giving too much away, there are some characters that serve as perfect foils to Quality, and it was a blast to just put them in the same room and see what happened. When you have a character as relatively straight-laced as her, and when she has to deal with some genuinely absurd people (I’m looking at you, Sevastian), the results were often unpredictable. I’d have plot ideas, yes, but the most fun part of writing this was just letting loose and letting the characters’ respective foibles play off one another.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m torn between doing the sequel to my second novel, The Perfect Teresa (which you also reviewed, by the way!), and the sequel to this one. The good news is that the sequel to The Modern Aztec’s Guide to Dating and Time Travel is already kind of written. I began this story much farther along before realizing that the backstory was just too much (and too funny) to leave as backstory. So that’s how this particular book came about, and why I’m technically far along into writing the sequel.
And while I’d love to say, “Oh, the sequel is coming out in 2021,” every time I put a date on things, I tend to jinx myself. So let’s just say, it’s coming out in the near future!
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Echoes For Celia follows a young woman who’s life changes forever when she learns about her destiny. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
As a person with a background in Astronomy and my keen interest in cosmology? Not believing Aliens yet believing we are not Alone I twisted theories of Ancient Aliens, and Ideas of Pyramids, Atlantis, coming up with the idea that maybe even first humans are not even us, so I in fact throw out the theory of Panspermia that our DNA came from another system in fact we are not even the first race inhabiting the Earth
Celia is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how to start than I thought to take a massive chance and go over the head over scientific society, and I’m sure if someday if this series of the book becomes best seller? I will have loads of questions from the scientific community! I decided to give her godlike power and without spoiling any read? Introduce Ancient beings that Mayans or Egyptian may have worshipped Eons ago around total Ice age of snowball Earth making them Type 6 civilization. Beings with far more abilities to Superman or even Q of Star trek to remind literary readers that if we get our acts together? We certainly can reach the same states. (I managed to talk with the Author (DAVID HATCHER CHILDRESS ON -CAMEO- ) Author of Ancient Mysteries and one of the researchers on Ancient Aliens was kind enough to give his opinion on sisters& Aliens. I uploaded on my YouTube.
What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?
Indirectly I referred to Earth & world were Ancient used to live long ago but they were far advance than any Atlantic civilization hance mentioning the Ice age. Without giving too much away. Plus I said the reason why there is two race of humans, what happened, i-e maybe build-up of pyramids. Those brightest should notice I did not write any historical romance and quickly find out the sister’s father sounds like which famous person in the world without referring. During my publication, I noticed that race and equality became an issue, and I strongly decided on the couple’s look and beauty in the book.
This is book one in your Rise of the Omega Empress series. What can readers expect in book two?
I’m happy to say that the second book already going through editorial soon. (The Rise of the Omega Empress) something entirely different, it may have romantic touch about it yes but more of techno-friendly and more diverse with all cultures, backgrounds, and those abilities or inability. This book you can expect to watch as a movie but leaving you sisters trying to protect the secret of life so no one can steal even with all their power, who is there amongst them friend or foe? Yet you got really on your powerful lion to save the godlike sister that can detect the spy? Oh, her name is NOVA.
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HAWK: Hellfire follows a galactic mercenary who is searching for justice on a remote colony world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Many years ago I knew a returned soldier from Vietnam who often remarked on the regrets he had from his experiences. He had realized that the people who suffered the most from war were the innocents, the ones who neither wanted nor asked for it. When he came home he found it hard to put behind him, and found very little help to do so, and I always thought that would be a good basis for a story. My writing leans to Science Fiction and I found it easy to use that character in the Sci-Fi scenario. When I started writing Science Fiction I never intended to do Military Sci-Fi, but I seem to have lent that way. No other sub genre lends itself to exploring the moral dilemmas of a character as well.
Hawk is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Hawks journey is basically one to find his own moral foundation. From a wild childhood to the courts and then the military, he learns to become a supreme killer, at a time of life when he is ill prepared to deal with the moral and ethical consequences. There is war, and he simply does as he is commanded.
When the war is over, an older and wiser Hawk has time to look back at his life, and realizes the pain and suffering he and his kind have caused. He determines to change, but finds he cannot not escape his old self. The story follows his journey as he gradually begins to realize, identify with and respect the position of the unseen victims of war, and then divert his efforts to helping them improve their lot in the only way he knows how.
My driving force behind creating the character was very simple. Individuals like Hawk exist everywhere in the world today, and as long as wars persist and innocents die, they always will.
What were some themes that you wanted to explore in this book?
I wanted to explore the reality that war and drugs and the like affect innocent bystanders more than anyone else, and that the people behind those events, be they politicians or drug lords, don’t care.
I also have always had a problem with the way many veterans are treated when they return from war. In Australia (My home) soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were literally brought in the back door and never given the appreciation or help they deserved. They were trained to be killers (often against their will due to conscription) and were never ‘untrained’. Many of them found it hard to deal with life after war.
The human universe I created for Hawk to inhabit also gave me the chance to explore what I think the future will look like. I do not believe that our future will be a squeaky clean Galactic empire as in Asimov’s Foundation series. I expect that once we get out there, people will seek to take their own paths based on culture, religion, ethnicity and so on. The future human society will be just as fractured as it is now, sadly. However, this does give me the opportunity to create different societies on different worlds, and that is something I enjoy doing immensely.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently writing a sequel to my Book ‘Falcon’s Call’, which has won several awards. Falcon’s Call was originally intended to be a stand alone, one of, first contact story, but I have had so many requests for a sequel that I decided to bite the bullet and continue the story. The second book will be called ‘Falcon’s Ghost’ and is based on the main character, Joe Falcon, discovering that everything he thought he knew in the first book, is false, and the reality is far stranger and much more dangerous. I hope to follow this one up with a third book, ‘Falcon’s Bane’, to complete the trilogy. Falcon’s Ghost should be out by April this year, and hopefully, ‘Bane’ by Christmas next.
In the Orbit of Sirens follows the remnants of the human race who are facing extinction and a deadly enemy. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
This story had been cooking for a long time for me. When I was in third grade, I drew a comic book called Space Explorers that featured my friends and I going on various missions across the galaxy. It was fun and filled with lovely grammatical errors and copyright infringements that come with a child’s writings. I got a little older, and I tried my hand at making a new comic book in high school. I called it Star Siren, which featured a more cohesive story, but ultimately never got finished. After 10 years of working in the film industry on VFX heavy action scenes, I decided it was time to try again. I had a more extensive knowledge base and a matured outlook of the world, I was finally ready to tell a story of my own. So the short answer? I wrote this book to make that 3rd-grade version of myself happy.
Eliana and Denton are intriguing and well-developed characters. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
Eliana and Denton are very dear to me. I wanted to show a contrast between two world outlooks. We have Eliana, a brilliant researcher, and doctor, who had options based on her skills and connections but is driven to help humanity any way she can. She fixes People. Then there’s Denton, a guy who had almost no options in life who grew up under domes doing whatever his ancestors before him had done because that’s all that’s available. He fixes Machines. The two ultimately come together after being stripped down to their core fundamentals. When humanity has its back to the wall, it will take them both to keep the human race from going extinct.
Denton is also based on me in some ways, but not all. I don’t know a thing about fixing machines (besides what I researched to write the book), but I know what it’s like to leave your home behind to go somewhere new and strange. I grew up in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles when I was twenty-three to pursue my career in the film industry. Denton moves from Ganymede to Kamaria and deals with some similar feelings that I had once. Write what you know, they say.
What were some themes you wanted to focus on in this book?
One of the main themes I focused on in this novel is “What comes after loss.” If you look back, everyone loses something and copes with it in different ways. To keep it spoiler-free—Eliana loses her family. Denton loses his path. Roelin loses his soul, and Nhymn loses her purpose. There’s a journey in a loss that defines who we really are.
What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?
I am currently in the beta reading stages of the sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens (title currently unannounced) and finishing the outline to the end of the Song of Kamaria trilogy. I hope to release Book 2 sometime early to mid next year, with the trilogy completing sometime after depending on the writing process. Dare I say the end of next year or early 2022? When it is ready, I will have more concrete answers.
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