Category Archives: Space

I’ll Rescue You by M.T. Thomas

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I’ll Rescue You by M.T. Thomas, e-book novel, 189 pages, published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform in 2017.

Forty years previously a race of aliens tried and failed to conquer Earth. Since then humans have been studying the aliens’ technology, weaponry and anatomy in preparation for any further attacks. Belle is the product of one of the human’s experiments; she is half alien and half human. She is able to communicate with the aliens and listen in to their telepathic conversations. Apollo is one of the enemy aliens, come to earth as an assassin. After failing to terminate Bell’s life on his first attempt, he hatches a plan to draw her to him. However, he must work quickly before his alien colleagues drop in for a bloody confrontation.

Science fiction, romance and adventure collide in this somewhat off-beat novel. I’ll Rescue You was a quick and enjoyable read; it was funny and unique, with quirky and original characters. The plot was solid, the writing well structured and the characters detailed. I enjoyed the jaunt about the world, especially to the Paris Catacombs, and the burgeoning relationship between Belle and Apollo, though this was perhaps a little predictable.

I quite liked Apollo, despite his original mission, and his brethren. It was lovely reading his journey to self-enlightenment and empathy. For the first time in his long life, he was able to get to know himself, experience emotion and care for others, something quite apart from his previous alien life, which was cold and emotionless. I didn’t like Belle as much, though she was resourceful and kind. Belle’s human sister and bodyguard also featured a lot throughout the story. I liked seeing how events unfolded from both sides of the chase.

Although none of the characters are children or teenagers, this book is still suitable for upper primary and high school kids to read.

 

*I received this book as a digital edition from the author in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

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The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady G. Stefani

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alienationThe Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady G. Stefani, e-book, 282 pages, published by SparkPress in 2016.

At fifteen, Courtney Hoffman has had to deal with a lot more than most. Her parents are divorced, and her Mum is dating a creepy doctor, her Grandpa tried to drown her when she was seven… and she is being visited by aliens. Could they be real, or is she just losing her mind?

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman was a thrilling and fast paced young adult read. It was quite different to other sci-fi books I have read, blending conspiracy theory and secret societies with alien visitation and apocalyptic action. It captured my interest very quickly, and I found it incredibly hard to put down.

The plot was complex, well written and riveting. I really enjoyed the conspiracy elements, and the mystery surrounding Courtney’s grandfather. The alien legacy was intriguing, though I’m sure it would have been much better for all the young blood-liners had someone told them of their potential for uniqueness prior to the alien visitations!

Courtney did cry more than most heroes, but that just made her seem more believable as a character. I liked her quite a bit, including her quirky fashion sense. I can hardly imagine living with her witch of a mother though; she was truly awful. I spent a lot of time thinking about her mother, and how she just wouldn’t listen to Courtney, and would rather commit her than believe her. And Dr. Anderson was just ick! I was suspicious of him from the start, he was just too weaselly. I was also wary of Haley, who just kept popping up all over the place, and seemed to know more than was good for her. My favourite character though, was Agatha. She was cool. Maybe slightly eccentric, but certainly cool. And if it wasn’t for her, Courtney could never have faced her reality and her future, which wouldn’t have made for much of a story.

Suitable for high school students and up, I highly recommend The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman to any and all fans of sci-fi. Even if you aren’t a huge sci-fi fan, give this book a try, it might surprise you!

 

*I received this book from the author (via @BookTasters) as a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers

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catchastarcoverHow to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers, hardback picture book, published by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks in 2004, this edition published in 2014.

After admiring the stars, a boy would like a star of his own. He tries different ways of catching a star right from the night sky.

We have enjoyed reading How to Catch a Star many times. It is an adorable picture book that will win the heart of any child. It always leaves me with a nice, warm feeling.

The story tells us that anything is possible, you might just have to think creatively to reach your goal. It is a literal reminder to “aim for the stars!” and do your best.

The boy has a number of clever ideas on how to catch his star, but my favourite is his idea of using a life belt to lasso the star. My kids think the rocket would be best. We also like the distinctive illustrations, especially the trees.

How to Catch a Star is suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children.

Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe by Rob H Hunt

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kylecoverKyle Evans and the Key to the Universe by Rob H Hunt, paperback, 162 pages, published by MES Inc. in 2016.

Kyle Evans is living a reasonably boring and safe life until a few weeks before his tenth birthday when a temporal vortex appears in his bedroom. Then his life becomes very interesting indeed. Spaceships, vortex travel, robots, interesting and dangerous lifeforms, metallic attack ants,and a talking cat, who is really an alien, called Bootles. Kyle is in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Action and adventure right from the first few pages set the tone for this fast-paced and engaging science fiction novel. Excellent description accompanies good character development, allowing me to feel like I could step right into the story. The chapters are short; each leading neatly into the next, keeping the story flowing along swiftly. The cover threw me a bit, as I couldn’t work out how a panther fit in with the story, until I realised that Bootles was actually a black cat!

Robots, robots, everywhere! Search droids, battle droids, Kranken. These last look like robotic ants, but they come in a big nest and can morph together to change their appearance and abilities. I really like this concept even though it made them terrifying! The scenes at Kyle’s school were exciting.

I do love cats in literature! Bootles is my favourite character, he is witty, brave, loveable and resilient. He is also affectionate and he made me laugh. Kyle and Sofia displayed courage and curiosity and I liked them too. I think Bootles was lucky to have them by his side. While Bootles was really an alien hiding in the skin of a cat, he acted quite a lot like a cat; rubbing himself against Kyle’s legs, purring and hissing.  He had plenty of crazy ‘plans’ to help them escape danger too, some of them were ingenious, while others were overthought. I love their escape from the zoo and Sofia’s ability to fly the spaceship was truly amazing.

The Commander reminded me of the villain Dr. Claw from the Inspector Gadget cartoons, except his sidekick is a grey cloud instead of a fat cat. We were only treated to glimpses of The Commander, yet it was enough to know he is evil, scary and powerful. I really hope Bootles can stay out of his grasp!

Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe is suitable for middle and upper primary school students. This is the first book in the Kyle Evans series. I am excited to follow Kyle in his next adventure, along with Bootles and Sofia, as they explore the universe, and hopefully always stay one step ahead of The Commander.

 

*I received this book from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Apophis by Caron Rider

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apophiscoverApophis by Caron Rider, e-book, expected publication by Smashwords on 6th May 2016.

A huge asteroid is heading towards Earth where it is expected to cause a global catastrophic event. To preserve the human race, scientists develop two groups of genetically modified children. One group is to be placed into stasis until the effects of the asteroid strike have dissipated and life on earth is possible once more. The other group are sent to Mars to live, with the hope that their descendants will at some point return to Earth to live. Almost two thousand years later the group in stasis is awoken to find the Martians terrorising the clans of human survivors.

It’s taken me a couple of days to write this review because I wanted to tell you how great Apophis was, but I was hugely disappointed by the ending. It left me with mixed feelings, but for most of the book, I love it.

At first I had intended to just glance through the first few pages to get a feel for the story, next thing I find I’m half way through the book! The plot was reasonably fast and easy to follow. I read this entertaining book quickly. I was intrigued! The science was interesting, and the possibility of such advancements in technology is mind boggling. It felt like that could really happen in our futures. I liked that the science fiction still had a realistic feel to it.

The characters felt real too. I had a hard time remembering that Alec was actually a computer program rather than a person. I liked the way he interacted with Cynthia, always watching out for her and doing his best to protect the whole stasis project. Cynthia had a lot of responsibility, but she bore it well, and she was quite personable. However, I liked Tedo the best. Even with his physical limitations, he strove to do his best, and he was a really good person, despite the way others treated him.

However, the story ended far too abruptly and left me feeling very unsatisfied. The ending was rather lame, and after enjoying the rest of the book so much, I was very disappointed. I actually flipped through the following pages to see if there was more, but there were only previews for other books… I’m not sure how I wanted it to end, but it definitely needed more fight between the martians and the humans. The end let the whole book down.

Apophis is suitable for young adults and adults alike. It is quite tame in respect to levels of violence and romance, and there is no foul language to speak of, so younger readers could also enjoy it.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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illuminae coverIlluminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, paperback novel, 599 pages, published by Allen & Unwin in 2015.

It’s the year 2575 on an icy planet in the far reaches of the ‘verse where a large corporation has set up an illegal mining operation. Here, teenagers Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have just undergone a messy breakup. That doesn’t seem quite as important when their settlement is attacked by the mega warships of a rival corporation. A few ships manage to evacuate some of the population, Kady and Ezra among them. Unfortunately the ships are damaged in the battle, leaving them unable to leap through space, and the next way-point is six months away. The pursuing battleship may not be the worst to come though, with a serious viral outbreak, a command covering up important information and an artificial intelligence unit that may just be a little crazy.

Uniquely told through a compilation of interviews, emails, instant messaging logs, security camera transcripts, memorandums, and the artificial intelligence unit’s records, Illuminae is extremely creative. The contents are made to look as if they could be part of a file about the destruction of Kerenza and the pursuit if its three ships, the Alexander, Hypatia and Copernicus. This is supported by interesting graphics and different formats and text for different styles of documents. It is cleverly done and really suits the tone of the book.

I found the story both intriguing and compelling, reading through it in just a couple of days. There was a lot going on within the book. First, Kady and Ezra have parted on less than amicable terms, but with everything different after the attack, they may have a chance to at least be friends again. Then there are the conditions on the ships, cramped quarters, jobs to do, and the command keeping secrets from the general population. Kady becomes increasingly interested in what it really happening, and begins hacking various parts of the ships’ records and communication channels. She’s searching for the truth, but what she finds isn’t good. The effects of the viral infection is quite disturbing. Within such a confined space, it was inevitable for such an infection to spread rapidly, but the way it distorts its victims is horrifying. And the way the artificial intelligence unit, AIDAN, reacts is even more horrifying! It makes some decisions that are difficult to comprehend, all for “the good of the fleet”. AIDAN has so much control over the ship Alexander, giving it power without any of the compassion and compromise that humans use to make decisions and draw conclusions. There is a lesson in there about dependency on artificial intelligence… might it ever be able to adapt to leave the restraints of its human creators behind? And what consequences would that bring about?

There were a lot of characters too, but Kady is the lead. She is unconventional, intelligent, courageous and loyal. I felt like I was riding the roller-coaster alongside her, feeling her triumphs and her defeats. A complex and well developed character whose story I enjoyed immensely. Ezra was also well developed, though I didn’t feel like I got to know him quite as well. The other main character was really AIDAN, despite it being man-made code and programming, AIDAN was very much alive during this book. At first I disliked it very much, and wondered how humans could get to the point of putting their lives so squarely in the hands of such a program. As the story progressed and I got to know AIDAN better, it became increasingly clear that this was a human creation beginning to form something akin to humanity within its programming. It was scheming, cunning and deceitful, but the way it came to care for and protect Kady made it seem so human, I couldn’t help but feel for it.

Illuminae is suitable for upper high school students and up. There is plenty of violence, some of it rather graphic, and adult themes. Any foul language has been blacked out, but I easily filled that in as I read.  The story had an air of space zombie apocalypse, with a dose of futuristic crazy for good measure. These are some of my favourite genres, and to have them all mashed together was awesome, it just worked in a way I couldn’t have forseen. An amazing, engaging, and sometimes scary or sad book told in a unique way that will be hard to forget, Illuminae is a must read for young adults and fans of science fiction.

 

 

Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer by Christopher Peter

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DCFS kindle cover 29apr15 copyDanny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer by Christopher Peter, ebook, 124 pages, published by Albury Books in 2015.

Danny lives in the tiny village of Brampton, where not much happens. One night after a storm, Danny thinks that he hears a low humming and sees a light out of his window, but he might just have imagined that. Then his strange Uncle Colin appears asking about noises and lights, along with a rather odd army captain who is snooping around and appears to be speaking to trees on the common. This is maybe the weirdest thing that has ever happened in Brampton, and Danny and his new friend, Nat, want to uncover the mystery. When they discover something shimmering in a patch of nettles in the clearing at the bottom of Danny’s yard, things really start to get exciting!

The plot of Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer was simple, logical, and entertaining. Danny and Nat have an amazing experience with BOB – Brain On Board, the artificial mind inside the flying saucer, while thwarting the efforts of evil Captain Frost, also known as Frosty-Knickers, and avoiding detection from Danny’s parents and uncle. The story flowed nicely, and I finished reading it quickly.

The characters in this story were well developed. It was easy to imagine the petite Nat speeding along the street, or Danny trying to trick Uncle Colin. They made a good team, especially when working together against the school bullies or Captain Frost. I liked the characters of Nat and Danny, but BOB really made the story for me. BOB was full of spunky character that made me laugh. I’ve never come across a computer that speaks with a “cockney twang” before, nor one that spends so much time boasting of its magnificent abilities! Of course, if I had abilities like BOB, I’d probably want to share them with anyone who would listen too. I liked that BOB was as keen to inconvenience and impede Captain Frost as Danny and Nat. Captain Frost was the perfect adversary, and I disliked her immediately. As soon as she entered the story, I wanted her to fail in whatever her plans might be!

Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer got the tick of approval from my third grader! She thought it was amusing, and exciting. The subject and delivery of the story was just right for her, and she said she would read it again along with any future Danny Chaucer books. There were a couple of references to things I doubt my third grader or her friends would know about, such as Russell Brand, and the TV show Downton Abbey. However, these references weren’t particularly important to the flow of the story, and my eight year old just skipped over them and kept reading.

This out of this world adventure is suitable for middle and upper primary school students. I believe Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer is the first in a new series of funny adventures with Danny, Nat and BOB. I am looking forward to the next installment.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions and that of my daughter.