Day: December 9, 2013

Review of ‘Escape From the Forbidden Planet’

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Escape From the Forbidden Planet by Julie Ann Grasso is an absolutely rib-tickling science fiction story that I assure you will give you a couple of hours of pleasure. I just finished a free review copy provided me for an unbiased review – unfortunately, my review is a bit biased, because I fell in love with it within the first ten pages.

Caramel Cinnamon is a tiny girl – elf actually – who resides on the planet of Cardamom. Her rather idyllic existence is disrupted with the arrival of Alexander222 from the planet Ishqwartz, known as IQ by its inhabitants, and under the management of the IQ Corporation. Alexander is a clone from a long line of Alexanders, but with a difference – his planet is losing its source of power, a crystal substance, and he is determined to find a substitute.

Alexander222 finds the desired substitute in the sugars of Cardamom, and in order to gain control over it, he kidnaps Caramel’s grandparents, and subsequently her and her parents and transports them to Earth, the forbidden planet.

You’ll find yourself laughing until your teeth hurt as you read Grasso’s hilarious account of how Caramel and a band of Earth children turn the tables against Alexander222’s machinations and get him brought up before the Intergalactic Council.

Grasso is a master of comic timing and a beautiful melding of humor, human emotions (in aliens at that), and technology. I can hardly wait for the sequel to Escape to see what further mischief Caramel gets up to. Though written primarily for younger readers, it will thrill everyone who is young at heart.

Review of ‘Project Mimic’

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The year is 2077, and in the post-nuclear holocaust world, only two forces are left – the United Protection Force (UPF), or what remains of the old U.S.A., and the New Nations Alliance (NNA), comprised of the Asian countries who survived the war. Europe and the Middle East have descended into barbarism.

Old hatreds, greed, and the lust for power, however, are still alive and well as the UPF and NNA struggle for dominance over what’s left of the world. Now, though, the winning edge will depend not on nuclear weapons but mastery of science and technology. UPF has placed its fate in the hands of disgraced scientist Timothy McDowell and his Project Mimic, a technique for reanimating the dead augmented with advanced technology.

An NNA attack on the Project Mimic facility, however, puts a crimp in the UPF plans, and now both sides must contend with a unit of the reanimated soldiers, led by former UPF soldier Rick Kemp.

John Black’s Project Mimic is science fiction at its near best. Fully fleshed out (though previously dead) characters, zippy dialogue, and credibly described technology and sociology make this a fascinating tale of the dangers of the unbridled pursuit of power.

My only complaint is that the free review copy I read was in a sans serif type, which is not as easy on the eyes as traditional type, and since I couldn’t put the darn thing down, I was pretty bleary-eyed by the time I finished reading. Icky typeface or not, though, I’d do it again.

Review of ‘The Last Seminarian’

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Rico, a 90-year-old, lives with his divorced daughter, Veronica, who also happens to be his doctor. His biggest challenge in life is keeping his stash of erectile dysfunction pills hidden from Veronica, until his old friend Bill visits – virtually – and informs Rico that he’s dead and living in the computer. Worse, in Rico’s view, Bill invites him to join him to help with an impending crisis. In the meantime, Veronica is trying to deal with the crisis precipitated by the resurrection of a lethal virus that threatens everyone on earth.

The Last Seminarian by R.M. Damato is a hard novel to categorize. Part dystopian future novel, part science fiction, Seminarian takes the reader on a chaotic ride with Rico as his consciousness is transferred to a computer where he rejoins the friends from his youth in a seminary. This story is told against the brief backdrop of an alien visitation with a twist that the reader really won’t see coming – and, if that doesn’t whet your appetite for reading this book, you’re a jaded person.

I received a free review copy of Seminarian, but Damato is an author I will be adding to my book-buy list. His slightly off-beat, tongue-in-cheek manner of writing appeals to me. This was a good read – and, but for a few grammatical gaffes and typos would be an easy four-star effort. Never mind, though; it was one of the better three-star books I’ve read lately.

Review of ‘Santa Murders’

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Mystery author/private investigator Jim Richards is asked by one of the detectives in the agency he owns to look into death threats being received by a local mall Santa and eccentric preacher Harold Renford. He’s reluctant, but finally convinced to do it. What looked like a relatively routine surveillance operation turns ugly and complicated when a Vegas mobster is gunned down in a local hotel by a man dressed in a Santa costume, and the finger of suspicion is pointed at Renford.

In Santa Murders, the 31st Jim Richards’ family of mysteries by Bob Moats, you’re taken on a roller coaster ride of thrills and suspense as Richards finds himself caught up in mob machinations, greedy business deals, and marital infidelities. I’m tempted to say that Moats writes like Robert B. Parker, but that’s not fair to either, as both have singularly unique styles. No, Bob Moats writes like, well, Bob Moats – which is to say, extremely well.

I received a free review copy of Moat’s latest Richards family mystery offering, and I dearly hope that he’ll decide to end the series on an even number, rather than stop at 31.