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 ‘Zeru’ by Philip Vargas

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Abasi lives in the Rustlands, an area of Takataka Dumps, one of the largest landfills in Tanzania. He lives alone in a part of the dump avoided by others who inhabit The Filth, that area of the dump with newer trash, but more danger. Abasi lives alone, partly by choice, and partly because he is zeru, or albino. His lack of pigmentation makes him a target of ridicule, abuse and fear from others who do not understand his condition, or the target of death and mutilation from those who think the zeru is a source of some magical power.

When a marauding witch doctor and his gang, looking for slave laborers, invade the dump and spot Abasi, his life, already miserable since his family was slaughtered by drunken fellow villagers, takes a decided turn for the worse. His only hope is the troop of baboons who occupy Baboon Hill, on the border of the Rustlands.

In Zeru by Philip Vargas, we see a world that few people are even aware of; a world of intense poverty, and the violence it breeds; a world of superstition; and as world of survival and hope. Though a fictional account, Vargas’s tale is an authentic rendering of life in Africa for those who are different, especially people suffering from albinism, who are brutalized in even some of the more developed countries of the continent.

Zeru is not a book for the faint hearted. It has vividly painted scenes of violence and bloodshed that will sicken many. But, in this case, Vargas has merely done what a good writer must, he has held up a mirror to life as it is, and in so doing, hopefully, made us more aware of what needs to be fixed.

This is an easy five star book, which I received a free review copy of, and I look forward to the promised sequel.


Review of “Scotland’s Guardian” by Katherina Gerlach

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Bassenthwaite and Scotland from the top of Dodd
Bassenthwaite and Scotland from the top of Dodd (Photo credit: Ed.ward)

Fourteen-year-old Bryanna McConnaichie, while riding a bus home, receives a cryptic warning from a strange woman with webbed hands, “Your father’s time is running out.” She doesn’t understand why her father, cryptozoologist Angus McConnaichie, should be in danger until he’s kidnapped by another strange woman right before her eyes. In her quest to rescue him, Bryanna finds herself moving between Scotland and Alba, and encountering strange creatures that, until that time, she had thought to be mere figments of her active imagination. During her search, she learns that her father is the Guardian protecting Scotland and the ‘other’ worlds from all manner of evil, and that she’s a half-blood with magical powers. She encounters Kaylee, another half-blood, who might be a friend – but, who also might be a deadly enemy.

In Scotland’s Guardian, by German writer Katherina Gerlach, you’ll find non-stop action from page one, written in an engaging and entertaining manner that will keep you on the edge of our chair. Gerlach brings creatures from Scotland’s rich history of mythology to life in a way that makes you believe in them. Her characters are believable, and, even the bad guys elicit sympathy.

A crisp tale, told in Gerlach’s unique style, this is a definite must-read for anyone interested in fantasy and myth. In fact, it just might be the book to interest those who’ve never read a fantasy novel before.

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