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Into a Dystopian Universe

Gary Szendzielarz
Gary Szendzielarz Author Interview

Fallen Gods follows a young man that suddenly discovers he has powers and sets out on journey that reveals much more about himself and the world then he had imagined. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I began writing this story, albeit it very differently at the time, as a teenager in school. I actually had a tough time in school, was bullied quite badly, but at the same time I didn’t want to just give up. Instead I focused on my fantasies, essentially what if? Over the years, my ideas developed but I didn’t really have the drive I needed to write the book properly. Then I told the story to my wife and she pushed me to get it done.

The idea of the witches was inspired by a group of girls I knew at school. They were essentially “IT” girls, not bullies of other girls, but they were the ones who every girl wanted to be. Completely by chance, my older brother was friends with the brother of one of the girls, and for some reason, that meant that I became a friend to the girls. It felt special to me and really put me in a different place; but then the more I got to know them personally, the more I felt that they were not the nicest people to be around.

Adam is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?

That comes from my experiences growing up on the Isle of Man, and then being forced to move to Lincolnshire, which was hell on Earth for me. I was always an emotional person but after my set of misfortunes over the years, I grew a thick-skin, which led into the position I am in today at work, done all through determination and fight. I wanted Adam to go through the same thing, just much faster, obviously. I wanted to character to actually be a beacon for all those who struggle to recognise their own potential, to be able to understand that we are all capable of more, to beat our demons; we just need time and support. But it’s okay to be emotional. It’s okay to cry and get scared.

The psychology of the main characters is extremely important for me, because this is essentially the introductory book to a string of follow-ups. It will lead into a dystopian universe which will twist a little bit. I know one of my concerns were on the character development at the beginning, that I did not develop the connection to the characters until later in the book, and for some that maybe a problem, but it’s important to understand that none of the characters have fully developed into what they will become, and we still do not know if what happened throughout the book was the correct thing for the world.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but for me religion has always played a negative element in my life. It never had good experiences with religion and it has left a bitter taste in my mouth. As an atheist, I wanted to provide an alternative angle to religion, to allow us to question why Abrahamic religions play so heavily on the idea of masculinity, and why women were second class in the bible etc. What if all of this was a cover for something much deeper and darker?

I also wanted to address the idea of gender and sexuality. If we were to look at the world as the witches did, then there is a fluidity to their sexuality, but their own take on religion takes away the idea of multiple genders. In some ways, we could suggest that the fight against the witches could be mistakenly viewed as misogyny, right up until you realise that the witches care less about women and men but really their own selfish gains.

Finally, there are hints in the book of Adam’s sexuality too, but given how confused he is by his own situation, I did not want to address it too deeply. Really, I wanted to leave it to the reader for them to make their own judgment of who or what Adam really is.

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

I’m actually working on the next books for the Fallen Gods series. One will be the direct sequel, taking place a decade and a half after the events in Fallen Gods, and will be a decidedly darker and longer novel than the first. Then the other is a shorter novella that I will be giving away online free, and will be about a different character not in the first book, and will be a join between book 1 and 2, but can also be read as a standalone novella; in other words, the idea is that you can read the novella and then go and read the first or second book and still know what is going on.

I also have a couple of other ideas in the works, but they are in the skeleton phase right now. One is about a part-time government assassin who accidentally kicks off a revolution. Another is a dark thriller about husband who discovers a dark secret about his Czech wife and her childhood at time when she escaped from communist Czechoslovakia.

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Adam Slater always felt something was off about his life; that he was not supposed to be a bullied, wimpy little kid.

In 1984, eight year old Adam and his friends discover an abandoned car near a large creepy work shed. Kids being kids, they decide to search, only to find the car belongs to a missing MI5 agent named Hendley. In the car, Adam finds an old leather-bound book written in a language, the likes of which he had never seen before; whilst Adam’s friend Ian enters the shed, only to suddenly vanish, never to be seen again.

All of this kicks off events which will change Adam’s life forever. On his eighteenth birthday, everything changes in an instant. Suddenly, he is strong, powerful, and can do things which should have been impossible.

Determined to understand who, or what he is, Adam begins to investigate, discovering an alien race of women, trapped on Earth for millennia, known as Witches, who shaped modern-day religion. He also discovers that the MI5 agent’s wife, Carol, is not who she appears.

Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, surrounded by his best friends, Adam travels across Europe, visiting historical sites and investigating Greek mythology, to find out why he has powers. Joining them are four beautiful girls; girls the boys never dreamed of talking to before. But these are no ordinary girls; rather they are witches who may not have Adam’s best interests at heart. Adam soon discovers that not all is as it seems, and their journey will not be a fun-filled relaxing adventure, but rather a trail of death and destruction, leading to the revelation that the world is in grave danger and Adam may be the only person capable of saving humanity.

Standing in the way will be the witches and the threat of a bounty hunter goddess named Venus. What begins as an epic adventure amongst friends, descends into a battle of epic proportions, and a race against time to stop an evil goddess from restoring her powers and destroying the Earth once and for all.

Adam has to grow from weak wimpy kid, to confident, strong adult; and fast. In order to do that, he needs to discover who he is and why, and he may not like the answer. The truth could ruin him. Getting the answer may kill him, and everyone he holds close. One thing is for certain, the world will never be the same again.

Fallen Gods

Fallen Gods by [Gary Szendzielarz]

The story of Fallen Gods revolves around Adam Slater, who on his eighteenth birthday suddenly comes into the possession of superpowers, without having any knowledge of where they came from. He decides to travel along with his friends to explore the cause behind this unexpected power, and the abrupt change in his demeanor, from a bullied child to a confident and strong adult. As he travels through Europe, he takes a deep interest in Greek mythology and folklore and attempts to find out why he has been bestowed with special powers. 

During this adventurous journey of self-exploration, he encounters four aliens called witches, who might be after him. These women are unimaginably beautiful, but they might have malicious intent. Soon enough, Adam learns about the deep danger that the planet is facing, and also comes to terms with the fact that perhaps he is the only one who can save earth from destruction. 

Seeking the truth might lead to more danger, and nobody knows what the future has in store. Will Adam discover the true source of his powers? What does it have to do with the abandoned MI5 agent’s car he found as a kid? These inevitable questions are answered, but with ample suspense and a dexterous grip over the storyline.

This thrilling story follows the classic fantasy superhero plot where the hero suddenly realizes his supernatural powers, an origin story of sorts, but in this unique setup our hero also faces an army of extraterrestrial beings conspiring behind his back. While the tension is high the novel still makes a bold attempt at focusing more on character development. The novel is filled with intriguing characters, and the author has given each one of them a fair share of attention. The story is more character-centric in nature, making it all the more engaging for the reader. 

The story is fast-paced and filled with action. The novel at certain points contains explicit language, violent imagery, and excessive action, which may not be suitable for young readers, but will be enthralling for mature readers looking for an intense read. The story demands your full attention if the reader wishes to remember the nifty details that have been incorporated in every section of the novel.

Fallen Gods has an intriguing plot, well-explored characters, and a high level of intrigue that ensures this novel is consistently entertaining. Author Gary Szendzielarz gives readers a thrilling fantasy story that knows how to build up compelling characters and test them in some riveting ways.

Pages: 303 | ASIN: B08ZL67J2Q

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The Mystery of the Murder

Braxton Cosby Author Interview

Braxton Cosby Author Interview

The Cape: Overdrive sees The Capes coming together to protect the world from a destructive asteroid. What was the inspiration for the setup to this installment in your Dark Spore series?

The Cape Overdrive was written on a whim of sorts. The Dark Spores Series is a compilation of 6 books (currently) from three different authors and is part of the Cosby Media Productions Dedicated Superhero Universe. It was envisioned to be along the same lines as as say a Marvel or DC universe in which all the superheroes have separate tales which have some overlap in story lines and then all the heroes come together for a similar cause, obstacle or enemy. I had already completed The Cape (book 1) and was looking for a new story arc that moved the overall scope of the Dark Spores forward, while providing fans and readers with a new wrinkle to keep them interested.

To that end, I was having a conversation with another author and thought, man, it would be cool to have The Capes fight encounter something other than a villain in this book. My wife had read an article about the value of a “Quintillion” which is the number one with 16 zeros after it. I thought, hmm, what if an asteroid was made up of precious stones and carried a value of a Quintillion dollars was hurtling towards Earth. What would happen if all the super power countries of the world wanted to obtain it? How would that play out in my Cape Universe? The outline began right there.

There are so many fascinating characters in this book with their own unique powers. What was your favorite character to write for?

I love The Blurr. She is actually my most powerful character and she is actually modeled after my wife. But more than that, The Cape represents superheroes that were once regular people; complete with flaws and all. They just happened to gain powers in book 1 after being caught in a storm. The city of Chicago then became an experimental pitri dish for producing special people separating Normals from Super-Normals.

Blurr’s character arc from a call girl to the evil Super-Normal Cheetah-Girl in book 1, who lacks confidence and self esteem, and then eventually converts to The Blurr at the end, joining Paladin and his team, was both challenging and rewarding to write. I think she reflects the best attributes of the human spirit and is and can inspire all of us to fight through those low moments of our lives and ultimately walk in a bright future.

If you read closely you’ll also see a larger character arc looming in the future that will play a major part in the CMPDSU going forward when all the Phase 1 heroes get together in INFINITY 7 (the collaborative effort of all three authors: Chayil Champion, Keshawn Dodds and myself). Phase 2 has other authors and heroes coming as well that can be read about on our website.

Thief and Blurr are a dynamic duo. What were some obstacles you felt were important in developing their characters?

Their past relationship for one. Sebastian (Paladin) knew Karla (Blurr) a long time ago and always had a crush on her but was too afraid to express it; fearful that it would kill their friendship if it didn’t work out. When Paladin seeks to solve the mystery of the murder in book 1, he discovers who Cheetah-Girl really is and desires to convert her over to the good side, without letting her know his true identity.

The other obstacle is Karla’s past catching up with her. She has a dark history that has held her down for years and kept her in a place where she feels undeserving of a good man like Sebastian and now she must face and overcome those demons in order to walk in the light and receive what he has to offer – love without judgment. This allows their relationship to blossom and they become a modern day Cyclops and Jean Grey. Paladin sort of becomes her redeemer and that character trait creates this “Perfect Guy” persona for her which I think makes him very likable as a character. Amongst the triad of Paladin, Blurr and Thief, he is definitely the shining star and symbol of honestly and is the glue that keeps the squad grounded.

Lastly, the larger looming obstacles with be the baddies: Dark Phase in book 1 and the new villains, along with the entire world vying for a piece of the asteroid.

The challenge, I think, with superhero novels is making the danger feel real, which I think you accomplished. How did you balance the danger and their powers to make things feel legitimately life threatening?

The answer was simple: man versus the unknown. In that sense, I used war as the catalyst. As I said earlier, all the powerful nations of the world would be converging on the crash site to secure the asteroid and only The Capes would be able to stop them. Imagine if you gave a quintillion dollars to say Russia, Germany or North Korea. What would they do with such resources? It would definitely tip the scales of power to some degree and it’s unimaginable what the impact would be. Would we be looking at World War 3 or the end of the world itself?

Then there’s the basic theme of good versus evil. Not to give the story away any further, but I added some powerful, new Super-Normal villains in the sequel that really challenge The Capes; along with a nice twist to keep it fresh. Seat of your pants action never hurts a story and I think I have a lot of that mixed in.

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Super Heroes Wage War Once Again When the world is thrown into a panic from the imminent threat of a gigantic asteroid worth a Quintilian dollars, The Capes are asked to protect the planet from certain doom. But it’s not just the destructive force of the impact that everyone fears; it’s greed. Multiple nations gather to collect on the bounty for the precious meteorite while evil Super-Normals threaten to salvage the precious stone for their own deeds. Even the position of military power hangs in the balance as the most poorest of countries will catapult to the top of the totem pole with just an ounce of the spoil. Once again Paladin, Thief and Blurr must stand together and utilize every bit of their super powers – shifting into Overdrive – as the fate of the entire galaxy will ultimately hinge on the emergence of a new enemy from deep space.

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Beyond the Physical Realm

J. Elizaga Author Interview

J. Elizaga Author Interview

Penchant Revealed follows Miles as he discovers his superhuman anomaly after he protects his wife from a paranormal attack. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I originally outlined a simple possession/horror story but it did not feel exciting or unique. Plus, I did not want yet another story showcasing an evil subject getting away with things. By chance, I watched a rerun of Ancient Aliens which speculated that alien DNA had been incorporated into human DNA. Suddenly, the idea that if nature finds a way, and alien DNA had been suppressed in human DNA, that it would manifest eventually– that is why there are seers who can see beyond the physical realm, or ghost whisperers who could speak with spirits–came to me, my Eureka moment I suppose.

Miles Penchant is an intriguing character that, I felt, continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to the development of his character?

I wanted to introduce a superhero/superhuman who does not rely on any machines or lab-introduced enhancements, who was not aware of his power, and who has a biological weakness. You see his character change as the story unfolds.

This book is filled with some fantastic paranormal and ancient alien sci-fi. What balance did you want to strike between realism and the supernatural?

On the setting, I picked a tropical and sunny location on the planet (near the equator) to show that evil exists everywhere, not just in dark and dreary locations. The characters have regular jobs and the usual differences. On the character of Lucifer, he was initially the standard evil being who possesses people on Earth. But religious texts mention that Lucifer was defeated in a battle and imprisoned for a million years. So how can he possess people on Earth if he’s imprisoned somewhere? In developing his character, I had to answer questions on where he came from and what turned him into the ultimate evil against humans.

Also, I incorporated real science elements in the story. For example, there is a chapter that alludes or pays homage to nuclear fission. 🙂

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

I am in the midst of finishing a new short story inspired by the story of Joseph Merrick, known as the Elephant Man, hopefully ready by winter. After that, I return to Miles Penchant and the continuation of his story. Now with the knowledge that he has superhuman abilities, what does he do with that power?

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Penchant Revealed by [Elizaga, J.]Miles Penchant keeps a secret from his wife. But even he isn’t sure what his secret is, until he defends his wife from a paranormal attacker and a band of otherworldly beings discover who he really is. This short story reveals the beginning of Miles Penchant’s fate, entwined with ancient aliens and archangels.

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A Proper Super Villain Character

Stewart Hoffman Author Interview

Stewart Hoffman Author Interview

The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake Blackhart follows Alex and Ian who still have nanobots inside them and retain the ability to take on the different aspects of bugs they swallow. What direction did you want to take this book that was different from the first story?

Well the first book was the origin story. How the kids got their powers, and a lot of get-to-know-you stuff, where they live, etc. In the second book, I didn’t have to go over all that again, at least not as much, so I focused on upping the ante with bigger bugs, robots, action, and a proper super villain character. I also wanted to explore what being a hero was all about.

The writing in your novel is very artful and creative. Was it a conscious effort to create a story in this fashion or is this style of writing reflective of your writing style in general?

This is my writing style. I like to keep things moving along at a brisk pace, and I always jump on an opportunity to see the funny side.

I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?

Thank you! As a kid I was always a story teller. More recently I set up my own movie review blog, and after a couple of years doing that I decided I was ready to construct a full novel. Since I’ve watched and analysed so many films (and books, I read a lot too) I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s needed in a story. It also doesn’t hurt to review one’s work with critique groups either!

Will there be a book three in The Bug Boys series? If so, where will it take readers?

There will, eventually! Tentatively titled, The Bug Boys and The Bullet Ant Queen. This one will spend a lot more time exploring the alien’s planet (The Bug Boys are going to visit!), while I explore the subjects of change, and the environment. This one will likely take a bit longer to put together as I also have another novel I’m working on. Something for adult readers, a little afterlife dramedy!

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website | Tumblr

The Bug Boys vs. Professor Blake BlackhartThe fantastic superhero adventure that began with The Bug Boys continues! Alex Adams and Ian Harris take on Blake Blackhart, a disgraced Oxford professor. He discovers the boys’ source of power and plots to use the Secti’s alien technology to wreak havoc across the galaxy. 

With a proper real-life supervillain in the village, the boys must step up their superhero game if they are to put a stop to the professor’s nefarious schemes. Along the way, they make new friends, and they encounter new bugs and superpowers. With the fate of the galaxy in the balance, the boys dig deep within themselves to truly understand what it means to be a hero!

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A Journey That Can Take A Lifetime

Deborah Dolan Hunt Author Interview

Deborah Dolan Hunt Author Interview

Same Inside, Different Outside is a wonderful children’s book that teaches biology and promotes diversity. Why do you think this is an important message to teach children?

I’m a nursing professor and one of the courses I teach is on Culture and Cultural Concepts which has certainly changed my worldview. I thought I had a good understanding of the various cultures and their beliefs and practices, however, one of the big lessons I learned was that becoming culturally competent is a journey that can take a lifetime. This made me realize that we need to teach children at a very young age to celebrate their uniqueness yet understand how in many ways we are all very similar. As a nurse, I also believe that children need to learn about the inside and outside of their bodies and although some of the concepts may be difficult for a younger child it is never too early to start introducing concepts that can be built upon as they complete their educational journeys.

I loved the pictures in this book. What was the art direction like?

Thanks, I loved the pictures, too. I worked very closely with my illustrator. Initially, I placed notations throughout the manuscript detailing my ideas for the illustrations and where they should be placed. Xavier, of course, used his creative and artistic abilities to bring the illustrations to life. It was fun to collaborate with him on this project and we really worked well together. Final edits were completed based on the input of the Waldorf Publishing team which certainly strengthened the book.

What do you hope young readers take away from your story?

First, and foremost I hope the readers enjoy the story and want to read it over and over again. Secondly, I hope they begin to understand that although we are unique and look different on the outside we are also very similar, especially on the inside. Lastly, I hope they begin to understand how some of the major parts of their bodies work. And that skeletons are really not scary and are somewhat like superheroes because they protect all of our insides.

Will you be writing more kids books that tackle other social issues?

Yes, although I’m currently working on the second pug book I’m also in the early developmental stages of inviting the readers back to Emma’s kindergarten class where I will address other social issues that help children to understand that although in some ways we are very similar it’s okay to be different.

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Same Inside, Different OutsideToday is a very exciting day for Emma’s kindergarten class. Emma, Robert, and the rest of the student’s don t understand how they can all look so different on the outside, but look very similar on the inside. So Dr. Shaw is coming to visit, and she’s bringing Mr. Bones, who is a real life-size skeleton. Mr. Bones is going to help Dr. Shaw teach her lesson about the human body. Dr. Shaw has also brought a cool body screening machine with her so the children can see what their insides look like.

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A Few Wild Ideas

Pamela Hartley Author Interview

Pamela Hartley Author Interview

The Seasons of a Giant is a fun story following young Izzy as she tries to discover what is stealing her family’s cows. I find the setup of the novel entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?

I know it’s such a cliche, but I actually did dream of a feisty farm girl and her adventures in a land filled with giants. Izzy’s story continued to grow on my long walks. I would return every day and quickly jot down all of the new twists and turns and crazy characters that popped into my head along the way. I’d also carry a notebook and scribble ideas as they came to me. Boone and Izzy were and still are always in my thoughts. I think they’ll live there forever.

The relationship between Izzy and the giant was thoughtful and well developed. What was your approach to writing the interactions between the characters?

Boone and Izzy had a rocky start due to the misconceptions she’d been taught. Izzy was forced to see Boone through the eyes of her family and her Groundling people in the beginning. Once she began to form her own opinions, she realized how truly special he was. I loved giving Izzy a snarky edge, and Boone provided a sweet balance with his calm comebacks. They truly are the perfect pair!

What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?

I’ve always loved to write. I wasn’t sure why until I discovered the most wonderful story written by my father years after he’d passed. I must have inherited a writing trait, if there is one! I have stories that refuse to be ignored; they won’t let me rest until they’ve fought their way onto the page. Writing is a real challenge, but very rewarding. Escaping into exciting worlds is the ultimate joy for me, and if I can take my readers along for the ride, all the better!

Will this novel be the start of a series or are you working on a different story?

If I had lots of readers that would enjoy another book with Izzy and Boone, I’d be thrilled to continue their adventure. The last page of The Seasons of a Giant hints that I already have a few wild ideas swirling around in my head! Until then, I’m currently writing a YA horror series.

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The Seasons of a GiantIsabel “Izzy” LaDuke has never killed anything scarier than a spider, but suddenly her botched pursuit has thrust her into a fight with an honest-to-goodness cattle-stealing monster.

Izzy is just trying to find out who is stealing her family’s cows. She has no magic powers or special skills, and she’s a rotten shot with a bow and arrow, but she’s braver than anyone, and that, in her opinion, makes her the best girl for the job. When Izzy finally finds her monster, she is transported from her family’s farm to the home of the Behemorphs, shape-shifting Giants who live in the SkyWorld above the clouds. To find her way home, she will have to team up with the very monster (he calls himself Boone) she has been hunting.

As the two confront terrifying creatures and deadly enemies, Izzy will learn a lot about Boone–and she’ll discover her own incredible potential.

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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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