Review: The Puppet Record ~ M.L. Candelario

The Puppet Record
In the distant future, humans have spread to multiple planets and have discovered a conscious alien race. Yawmkind and humankind exist peacefully under a joint government called the Bastion, but this unity is tested when groups of human children simultaneously vanish on every human settlement. Stowed away on the ship sent out to investigate the disappearances, Joey Omaha must battle his addictions or risk ruining the mission.

5 Thumbs-UpOnce in a while there comes a debut piece of fictional writing that has me wanting to tell anyone who will listen how good it is; this is one of those times.  From the very first page, I was sucked into this highly believable and well thought-out futuristic world and this made this a novella that was very hard to put down.

Despite it being only 199 pages in length, this Author manages to produce a well-rounded piece of writing that leaves the reader wanting more.  This is a book that is not to be taken at face value, with an intricate and intriguing plot line, including plenty of twists and turns that would keep even the most diehard of adventure readers hooked to the end.

The main protagonist is the character that really made me think.  At first I couldn’t bring myself to even remotely like him, but as the book progressed the Author developed him in such a way that he wormed his way into my affections.  He is a young man who is battling demons in the form of an addiction, whilst trying to do the right and moral thing concerning those he works with.  I have never suffered from an addiction, apart from reading, but the Author has apparently done a great deal of research into this area, and this shines through when they write about the trials and tribulations the main character goes through to hopefully triumph.  Using a mix of human and alien characters in this book, the Author is also able to convey through their writing, in a non-preaching way, that everyone is connected and similar in some way, whether it is through a way of thinking or a gesture.  This made one of the alien characters particularly likeable, and very much a person I would like to have as a family member, but as to which one that would be, you would just have to read the book.  Although I did not agree with some of the points of view put across by the characters, this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book; it just gave me food for thought and great enjoyment when pondering over the possibilities.

The world building in this novella is superbly executed, not just through the sheer imagination of the Author but also by the way in which they allow the technology and history of this world to be narrated to the reader by the books characters.  This adds a definite ‘human’ touch to the book which made me feel like the characters, and the Author, would perhaps like me to visit and stay awhile in their world.  Not content to stick to one particular world, the Author spreads the tale out across this unknown universe and, in doing so, is able to make the reader wonder if there could possibly be such a place outside of the scope of current space exploration.  Full of philosophical ideas and some religious perspectives, this little book will, if nothing else, make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about life and maybe even step outside your comfort zone to examine new ideas.

Not your usual run of the mill sci-fi book, the fast paced and riveting plot will keep you turning pages to the very end.  I would very highly recommend this novella to all who love a good sci-fi book, and also to those who enjoys adventure tales.  I will definitely be reading more from this Author.

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Review: Photographs: A Journey Through Space, Time, and More ~ Peter Lean

PhotographsWhat is the connection between an old photograph, a planet with three moons, four friends travelling back home from Cornwall, and the number eleven?

And what ties together a battle on the lunar surface two thousand years from now, a Russian time traveler, and Napoleon?

Photographs is a journey through space and time by which the reader has the opportunity to remember that real life and fiction are truly not that far apart.

5 Thumbs-UpThis novella is a compilation of short stories… or is it?  The answer to this question lies in the hands of the reader as they progress through the stories that cover topics as diverse as dreams, choices, existence and time travel.  This book covers all these topics and more, and the Author skilfully tackles any questions that they cause by challenging the reader to stretch their mind and look at them from an angle they may not have considered before.

As with all short stories that only cover 20-30 pages, there isn’t enough time in any of them to develop any of the characters to a great degree but this isn’t an issue in these stories, as the Author manages to breathe so much life in the few pages allocated to each that the reader is drawn to the characters and, in some cases is even made to feel something for them, in the short time they share with them.  This shows great writing skill and an ability to engage the reader on the part of the Author.

I know it is clichéd to say that to write a review on this book would be hard without giving away spoilers or including excerpts, but that is truly the case here; this collection of cleverly interlaced stories will have the reader questioning their perception of what is reality and what is fiction.  The Author deftly ties everything together in a way that makes the reader think.  This is definitely a unique book filled with unique stories, despite the confusion that the settings can sometimes cause as the reader is taken from one unfamiliar place to another.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi, time travel, and parallel universe read that is not too bogged down with minutiae.

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Review: No Heaven (Imagine Trilogy #1) ~ Lex Allen

No HeavenThe first time He walked our Earth; He came to teach people the Way to inner peace and everlasting life without fear of death or oppression by those with religious or political power.

He failed.

As Jesus returns to save the world from darkness lurking just beyond the public eye, His presence challenges modern Christianity and the core beliefs of a religion founded in His name.  The ensuing struggle to save humanity is on – in a good versus evil battle of epic proportions.

4 Thumbs-UpThis book is the first in the ‘Imagine’ Trilogy and when I first opened the cover I thought it was going to be a quick read.  I was wrong.  I found myself wanting to savour each part of this interesting book, which as it progressed turned into the likes of something I don’t think I have ever read before.  I found myself waiting until I was done for the day before picking it up, and only reading one or two chapters before laying it down to digest what I had read.

In one sense the reader may feel that there is a main protagonist in this book and, if they can pinpoint which of the many characters this is, they will find that they are just as thoughtfully well written as any of the others that appear throughout its pages. All the characters are given different backgrounds and, with their varying belief systems this adds dimension to each encounter they have as the book progresses; it adds layers to an already intriguing and well thought out novel.  The Author chose wisely when including so many ‘religions’ for his characters, as it provides the reader with someone they can personally identify with, whether they be Christian or not.  The flaws and traits of all characters in the book make them believable and possibly, make you feel you have met someone like them in your everyday life.

The locations for this novel are sweeping, ranging from Germany to the high desert and all points near and not so near.  It is apparent from the detail that the Author included in his descriptions that he either has an in-depth personal knowledge of these areas or has done extensive research into them to ensure they are as authentic as possible.  However, as with a piece of work that chooses this topic as its subject matter, there is a great deal of artistic license taken in the writing and, in this case, this really works; the inclusion of conspiracy theories, paranormal occurrences and historical accounts mesh nicely together to make this a complete and unbiased viewpoint of what is a highly flammable issue.

There are so many different strata, points of view, opinions and hypotheses to this novel that it would be hard to place it only in the sci-fi genre, it is not just a good sci-fi novel it is more.  Although at times it can read like a personal attack on the Church by the Author, I felt that this was not so much a denouncement of organized religion but another way of looking at something that is so prevalent and influential in a lot of people’s lives today, and as well as promoting good it also serves as a catalyst for war.  Good editing and proof reading add to the consistent and easy to follow flow of the book, helping the reader who may be having trouble getting to grips with the ideas included in its pages have the time to digest and think about what they have read.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading the remaining two instalments of this trilogy.

I would highly recommend this book to any reader with an inquiring mind that is open to new interpretations of an old theme; also those who enjoy the sci-fi genre would mostly likely find this book an interesting read.

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