The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on Amazon.com. I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at rohlarik@gmail.com. I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

CRENSHAW

This is a guest review and comments from review contributor Pat Koelmel:

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were a child? I, for one, did not even though there were times in my childhood when I probably could have used one. Maybe even two. In any event, I’d like to think that, if I had dreamed up an imaginary friend way back when, I would have gone big like ten-year-old Jackson in the 2015 middle-grade novel by Katherine Applegate. His is a seven-foot tall black and white cat by the name of Crenshaw.

Crenshaw first appeared in Jackson’s life when he was seven. His dad had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and could no longer work in the construction field. At the same, his mother had also lost her job, thus, forcing their family of five (besides Jackson and his parents, there’s little sister Robin and their dog Aretha) to leave their home and live in their minivan. For fourteen weeks, they spent their days at the library or park or wherever and nights sleeping inside their car. They dined on handouts like day-old pumpernickel bagels, and sometimes Jackson’s dad, a former musician, played songs on his guitar and literally sang for their supper on busy street corners.

Of this time, Jackson says this about Crenshaw: “Crenshaw and I didn’t chat much during those weeks on the road. There was always someone around to interrupt us. But that was okay. I knew he was there and that was enough. Sometimes that’s all you really need from a friend.” Completely told from Jackson’s point of view, this story really gets to the heart of what it’s like to be a child and homeless. On being hungry, Jackson offers this advice: “If you run out of cereal and your stomach’s still growling, you can always try chewing a piece of gum to distract yourself.” (By the way, Ms. Applegate did her research. In her acknowledgments, she thanks the students of the Monarch School in San Diego, California, a campus for those affected by homelessness, for sharing their stories.)

Okay, back to the story. Fast forward to three years later. The good news is Jackson (now ten) and his family are still living in the same apartment they had moved into after their three-month-plus stint in their minivan. The bad news is they’re falling on hard times yet again. They can’t afford enough food or make the rent. They might even end up living in their minivan again. But that’s not all. Crenshaw’s back! Only this time around, Jackson’s not so happy about it. Not only does Jackson feel he’s way too old to have an imaginary friend, he’s grown into a boy who deals in facts and logic. And there’s absolutely nothing logical about an imaginary, seven-foot tall cat who drops in when Jackson least expects it.

As you might think, with a character like Crenshaw, this story can at times make you chuckle. For instance: After overhearing his parents argue, Jackson finds Crenshaw in the bathroom taking a bubble bath. He tells the cat that he doesn’t exist. Crenshaw dryly replies: “I beg to differ.” The banter between the two can also be tender and heartfelt. When Jackson orders Crenshaw to leave, Crenshaw replies: “We [imaginary friends] stay as long as we’re needed. And then, and only then, do we leave.”

In addition to the repartee, Ms. Applegate does a fabulous job helping the reader to picture Crenshaw’s rather substantial physique. Crenshaw’s paws are described to be as “big as a lion’s, with fingers the size of baby carrots.” What’s that? Cats don’t have fingers? Well, Crenshaw does. If you recall, he is no “ordinary” cat.

So what have I got to say about this novel? I have two words: precious and rare. Not since I read Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie fifteen years prior, have I felt this way about a book. By the way, my imaginary friend concurs. (Hey, just because I missed out on having an imaginary friend when I was a child, that doesn’t mean I can’t have one now.) 
  
RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: After reading Crenshaw, I couldn’t help but be reminded of two other imaginary characters. First, there’s Harvey, the six-foot, three-and-a-half inch tall rabbit from the 1950 movie of the same name starring James Stewart. Then there’s Puff, the Magic Dragon, the 1963 Peter, Paul, and Mary song. To this day, whenever I hear it play, I can’t help but choke up. By the way, if you’ve never heard the song before, google it and take a listen. If you’re a softie like me, have a tissue at the ready.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

IMMUREMENT

The author sent me a copy of her novel to review:

Norma Hinkens writes a curious story that is seemly but written with rudimentary prose in a somewhat non-descriptive manner... yet somehow the story works. So does that indicate that the author is talented or charmed? I think that the jury is still out and we will have to wait and see if the author improves as she continues her story in the ensuing novels. But her imagination capacity is four by four (if you weren’t in the military, you probably will not know what I mean). So do I have mixed feelings about this novel? Yes. Was it interesting? Reasonably. Was it just another twist of a dystopian novel? You could say that, but it wasn’t totally run-of-the-mill. It took some vision and planning to conjure up what would happen if the earth’s core overheated. And the author has a propensity for cliffhanger chapter endings (a good thing). However, I felt very little compassion for any of the characters (a bad thing), mainly because too much happened in a very short period of time. There was too much action jammed into 250 pages to allow the author to develop the characters and create reader empathy (another hundred pages would have cured that problem). I do see lots of raw talent in her book, but it’s still in the nucleus stage. Maybe it blossoms in Embattlement (book two in her Undergrounders Series).  Anyway, what’s the story about?   

Sometime in the future, the Earth’s core overheats (the survivors now call it the meltdown). “Molten rock pushed miles of asphalt skyhigh forming blacktop mache mountains. Strip malls explode like pinatas, buildings shot hundreds of feet into the air like gigantic stomp rockets.” Wow, nice way to start a novel. “All hell broke loose after a ring of volcanos (I know that it is volcanoes, but I’m quoting the author as she wrote it) around the globe erupted and the sovereign leader issued a thermal radiation warning. That was the last we heard from him.” What’s happening world-wide is not revealed, but our story revolves around the people living in the Sawtooth Mountains (I’m assuming Idaho, but it’s not mentioned in the novel). The novel embraces three groups: The Preppers or Undergrounders, who live in underground bunkers (our protagonists), The Rogues, who are escaped subversives from a maximum security center, and The Sweepers, who are a group of DNA scientist trying to repopulate the earth (really?). These are the essential ingredients that make up this dystopian novel. Once the novel starts, it races down the track at a furious pace (thus my reason for no character empathy...the one exception is the dog,Tucker).

The story starts with Derry(16 years old) and her brother Owen(18 years old) talking outside their group’s bunker. Derry tells Owen how she saw a sweeper suck up Sam (from a different group) into a bullet shaped hovercraft via a telescopic tube. Later, Frank, the bunker chief from Sam’s camp, visits Owen’s group. “Frank thinks one of us had a hand in it.” “The collective hiss of breath around the room sends a shiver down my spine (Derry). For months now, there have been rumors of Sweeper snitches in the camps. It’s ludicrous of course. Why would anyone help the Sweepers?” But Derry thinks...what about the new guy, Mason, who recently joined their group. He said he is a former Marine. Why is he built like the Titan, Atlas? Mason punches Frank in the face for accusing their bunker of colluding with the Sweepers. Frank, bloodied, leaves in a huff. Prat, Derry, Mason and Big Ed head to Frank’s bunker to assure them that they had nothing to do with Sam being snatched. Owen tells Derry that he has to go to a secret Council meeting because…”We’re planning an attack on the Sweeper.”

Derry’s group arrives at Frank’s bunker and find him lying outside...murdered. Most of Frank’s people are gone and the few people left think that Derry’s group murdered Frank. Prat thinks that the Rogues might have been in the area and killed Frank and took Owen prisoner. Do you see how fast this novel moves? Mason confesses that he is a clone and was a prisoner of the Sweepers until he escaped. He says that a Dr. Lyong and a group of scientist have been experimenting in a government cloning project for decades. And when the earth overheated, the Doctor vaccinated everyone in the laboratory because the radiation alarms went off during the meltdown. Unfortunately, the vaccine was contaminated. That’s why the Sweepers are capturing people...they need fresh DNA. Can the Undergrounders convince the lawless Rogues to unite with them and destroy the Sweepers once and for all? Or do the three groups grapple with each other? And what are the Sweepers really doing in their laboratory? And finally, who killed Cock Robin? Just kidding! Anyway, the way Norma Hinkens wrote this novel makes the reader dizzy from time to time. Even though I found fault with this novel (I usually do), I generally liked it. I’m going to recommend this novel on the fact that she tells a good story and will improve her prose and wordage enough for the reader to feel empathy for her characters.

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: I have to admit that I’m getting zoned out with dystopian novels. Yet... authors keep sending them to me for review. I think that it’s a genre that will be with us for a few more years and then germinate into a totally new genre. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that there are too many novels with similar juxtapositions. I have the same feelings about Zombie novels. Enough is enough. However, I do have a few five star favorites:

Wool by Hugh Howey (see my review of 1/21/2016). It’s a story about people living in a 144 floor underground silo after a unknown post-apocalyptic happening. It’s a terrific novel.

1984 by George Orwell (1950). Goodreads says, “A startling original and haunting novel that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words.” By the way his Animal Farm (1946) was also outstanding.

Incidentally, the Sparrow killed Cock Robin with his bow and arrow. I don’t believe the author of this 1770 poem is known. (HaHa).

Friday, March 18, 2016

SATURN RUN

Permit me to praise John Sandford and Ctein (who provided the technical angle for the novel) for writing this thought-provoking sci-fi gem. This wasn’t a semi-boring novel like the potato farming novel, The Martian (see my review of 4/15/2014). Can you imagine how exciting this novel will be as a movie if Hollywood can duplicate what it did for The Martian? Wow! This novel was 486 pages of reading fulfillment. It had all the ingredients: an organized plot, excitement, drama and a sound conclusion. Surprisingly, this novel somewhat reminded me of Clifford D. Simak’s classic sci-fi novel, Way Station, where Enoch Wallace manned a way station for a galactic federation’s transit network. If you read that novel, you know that this is high praise. The combination of writer and technical support is critical in any sci-fi novel. I am familiar with John Sandford (bestselling author of 25 Prey novels), but was foreign to the Santa Claus look-alike with the strange name...Ctein. Well let me tell you that this man provided amazing technical jargon without confounding me. Great job...man with a strange name. If I found some weaknesses in this novel, they were banal at best. The novel started strong with the USA’s spotting of a starship entering Saturn’s atmosphere, then stalled for over a hundred pages or so (the banal part), but rekindled when America and China finished building their starships and headed to Saturn in a race to see who would be first to meet the aliens.    
Twenty-eight year old Sandy Darlington (one of several protagonist in this novel), who will inherit tons of money in two years, was given a job at Caltech Astrophysics because his father is a big benefactor of the school. Sandy was basically drifting after serving with high honors in the military. He is assigned to the “Chuck’s Eye” computer on the ground at Caltech. Chuck’s Eye is a camera pointed to the heavens on the USA’s Sky Survey Observatory (SSO) in Earth’s orbit, commanded by Captain Naomi Fang-Castro (I liked this character). “He (Sandy) had been assigned to nursemaid Chuck’s Eye.The work was not hard. Or, maybe it was, but the computers did it. Sandy was the human eye that double-checked the results, to make sure the computers hadn’t missed anything unusual enough that it fell outside their analysis parameters. And the computers would tell him if that happened, so he could alert a Real Scientist.” As he sat there playing his guitar, “the computer pinged and produced a line of type: Critical Anomaly.” First of all, the reader must know that the camera is pointing towards Saturn. Sandy punched the button that said “Describe.” The computer answered: Object Decelerating. Wow, everybody knows that if a foreign object (such as an asteroid) was entering Saturn’s atmosphere it not be decelerating! Sandy thinks to himself, “Celestial objects do not decelerate.” Sandy touched another menu that said, “Report.” The computer said among other things: The Object is Real-99%, and The Object is Emitting Hydrogen Gas at Unknown Volume. Sandy realizes that it is time to get a real scientist. Is this a starship? If you think that I’m giving the story away...I’m only on page sixteen.

The president of the USA, Amanda Santeros, is worried that the many chinese people working at Caltech will tell China what we found. The USA needs at least two years to convert the SSO into a starship capable of getting to Saturn. China was currently building a ship to explore Mars. Whoever meets the aliens first will likely gain information to be a hundred years ahead of their foe in technology. This is the banal part that I was telling you about as the USA builds it’s starship and tries to hide the information from China. The reader meets Crow, President Santeros’ security guru. Sandy is asked to join the trip to Saturn as a video expert. Dr. Rebecca (Becca) Johanson joins the team as the high-density power engineer. So far you have met four of the major characters. Then, John Clover, an alien civilization expert and his cat, join the team. Finally the last main character is Cassandra Fiorella, the chief science editor for the L.A.Times. With all that goes on in this novel, I think it’s amazing that the authors kept it to six main characters.The USA names their starship the Richard M. Nixon. Why? The Chinese find out about the Saturn incident. They are pissed but launch their starship (Celestial Odyssey) first. They will have at least a nine month lead heading into outer space before Becca fixes the the reactor problems of the USA ship. Once the problems are fixed, the USA thinks that by choosing a route around the sun, they can beat China to Saturn. Also Becca is convinced that her engine differences will get them to Saturn first.

Meanwhile, does Captain Castro think the aliens will be hostile? On page 139, Captain Castro ask Clover, “So, do we need a weapons system to deal with the aliens?” Clover said, “ Basically, no. I’ve talked to Crow about this, and there are only a few ways to fight in space. Some of them are suicidal, so we rule those out. I haven’t been able to think of a situation in which we’d destroy our own ship as a method of attacking the aliens.” Clover concludes, “I’d deduce that they don’t want to destroy us. Simply because they could have, anytime, and didn’t. So we ignore the movie scenarios.” Captain Castro and Crow think that there is a Chinese spy aboard because major problems and accidents keep happening with the engines. Is the spy trying to slow down the Richard M. Nixon so the Chinese starship could get to Saturn first? You bet your sweet bippy! (Supposedly,” bippy” really meant “butt” on the Rowan & Martin TV show. It’s got nothing to do with this review, but I thought that I’d bring it up anyway.) I’m not going to tell you what happens over the next 347 pages, but I will tell you that it is awesome...all the way to the finish. And guess what? The novel actually finishes and you don’t have to read volume two and three to find out what happens. How refreshing is that? I give a lot of credit to John Sandford for his storytelling ability and to Ctein for making the science easy to understand. Do I recommend this novel? Refer to the “bippy” sentence.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: I’m trying to remember the last time I enjoyed a sci-fi novel as much as this one. I can think of many past novels, but currently...I can’t think of any (and I’ve reviewed quite a few). But I did review a couple of classics that were fabulous. The first one that comes to my mind is Larry Niven’s Ringworld (see my review of 2/24/2013). The second novel is Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (see my review of 2/21/2015). If you are a sci-fi fan you must read these two superior novels.

I mentioned Clifford D. Simak (8/3/1904-4/25/1988) in the first paragraph. He is a must read, earning three Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award during his writing career. I’ve read two of his novels: the above mentioned Way Station (1963) and City (1952), but I really want to grab a copy of his story about the 600 hundred year old robot in All the Traps of Earth (1962). Was this the model for the Robin Williams robot movie? This writer is legendary to say the least. I absolutely love a good sci-fi novel.

Saturn:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Girl With All The Gifts

This is a guest review from artist Pat Koelmel:

I never miss an episode of The Walking Dead, the AMC TV series, and I absolutely loved, loved, loved the box office hit World War Z. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Max Brooks (see Rick O’s review dated February 18, 2011), I honestly couldn’t resist seeing Brad Pitt pitted against zombies.
Surprisingly, though, as much as I enjoy zombies on the big … or little screen, I’m not so keen on reading about them. As far as I’m concerned, even the best that literature can offer can’t top the living breathing characters and stark visuals of The Walking Dead. So where is this leading? Had I known that The Girl with all the Gifts (a 2014 novel by M.R. Carey) was about a zombie apocalypse, I would never have given it a second look. 

So how did I get hoodwinked into picking it up? The book jacket summary was deceiving to say the least: “Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.
After reading that, I was instantly intrigued. Who was Melanie and what were her gifts? And why was everyone so terrified of her? I couldn’t help but shudder. For me, there’s nothing more chilling than a scary old person … or a scary child.

So naturally, I was disappointed when I discovered it was about zombies. Yet, I forced myself to read on. After all, I still wanted to know about the girl with all the gifts. And, lo and behold, before I knew what hit me, I got sucked in by this book a second time. That’s right, sucked in by a book about zombies. And, by book’s end, I was even ready to eat my words. With that said, how’s about a taste of the plot? 

The story opens on a military base in England twenty years after the Breakdown. The Breakdown refers to the onset of the infection which caused most of the population to turn into hungries (a name the author has given to the zombies). The base is protected from the hungries by a fence and armed guards led by Sergeant Parks.

Besides ten-year-old Melanie (the girl mentioned in the book jacket tease), there are about twenty other children just like her who pretty much live out most of their days alone in their respective cells, which is why Melanie enjoys school so much. Melanie also has a crush on one of her teachers, Miss Justineau. Unlike her other teachers, Miss Justineau is kind and reads the class stories like Winne-the-Pooh. (Hmmm, I bet you’re curious to know more about Melanie and her classmates just like I was. Sorry, mum’s the word. If you want to know more, you know what you have to do.) 

Meanwhile, on the same base, Dr. Caldwell, is busy in her lab. Her job is to find a cure. Much to Miss Justineau’s dismay, Dr. Caldwell uses the children for her research.    

And then there are the junkers, humans who preferred (since the Breakdown) to take their chances on the outside. Junkers, by the way, are as much a threat to what’s left of civilization as the hungries. So, when the base topples, and Miss Justineau, Dr. Caldwell, Sergeant Parks, and Melanie are left stranded with limited resources in a cold, cruel world ruled by junkers and hungries, it goes without saying that they are in for a bumpy ride.  

Okay, for some of you out there (especially the zombie aficionados), this storyline may seem like nothing new, but don’t be fooled. Trust me, there is an interesting twist. (Yes, it has to do with the children.) And for this reason alone, I would recommend this book. However, there’s more. Despite my earlier misgivings, The Girl with all the Gifts gives The Walking Dead a run for its money. It is indisputably well written, well thought out, and clever. Carey provides vivid descriptions and worthy scientific explanations with regards to the infection. As for the surprise ending -- yes, there is a surprise ending -- if you listen real carefully, you might still be able to hear my applause.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: I also have read many Zombie novels and wonder when these authors will run out of fresh ideas. But Pat's review kinda makes me want to read another, or should I read another Dracula novel? Maybe another Frankenstein novel? Or maybe another Jaws novel? I am getting confused. The fact is that horror will live for ever, just like the above mentioned novels. Have you seen the latest Halloween movie?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra

The author sent an autographed copy of his novel to my twelve year old grandson, Kai O to review:

James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra reminded me a lot of the Harry Potter books. Colm McElwain is an inventive author who can put an interesting spin on a classic story about a orphan destined for more. This book is a page turner, and I was glued to the book.

James Clyde is sprinting as fast as he can with a handful of stolen clothes. James needs these clothes for the winter time, although James doesn’t know that he will not need these extra garments for very long. Soon after, James and his friends, Ben and Mary, visit James Clyde’s grandfather, Wilmore Clyde. A mysterious man named Gilbert attacks the house and injures Wilmore. James (next to his dying grandfather) is given a magical Diamond of Orchestra that has the power to grant one wish. Using his wish, James gains the ability to fly, and he escapes through a secret transporter room with his friends into another world named Orchestra. This is where the story starts to pick up the pace, so you will have to read your own copy of this book from here on.

This book actually made you feel connected to all the characters. Whenever something bad happened or a bad choice was made, you truly wished that you could talk to the characters and help them. In conclusion, Colm McElwain’s James Clyde and the Diamonds of Orchestra was a fantastic book. I would recommend this book to YA readers from the fifth to eighth grade. I think Colm McElwain is a very talented author who wrote an amazing book.


RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: Another excellent review from my grandson, Kai O. I think that it is important for a YA novel ( like the one Colm wrote) to be reviewed by someone who is actually a young adult. This is Kai’s first requested review!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

TIME'S ADVERSARY

The author sent me a copy of his novel to review:

How can J.G. McGovern write a sci-fi novel so complex and yet be so easy to understand? Maybe because he avoided the scientific jargon (which I hate) and just told a story. Is he another one of those self-published authors that’s a storyteller? I think so. He is one of several Indie writers that I have reviewed recently that has impressed me. Oh sure, their prose can be improved upon, but is that so important? Or is the story the paramount goal of a writer? I say yes to the latter. At first, I thought that he had too many characters, but as the novel progressed, most of them became byproduct beings. I liked the author’s style, touching on various innuendos of the past without saying enough to take your eyes off the present, which is the year 2118. Can this sci-fi story challenge the best out there? No, I don’t think so, but it was a hell of a effort. Okay, what’s this novel about?

Andrew Vaughan (he was the third wealthiest man on Earth) wakes up about 90 years after he passed away. Wow, what a opening. Tella Urquhart (a principal shareholder of Eyelight Industries) tells Andrew that his memories were transferred to a cybernetic brain and placed into a android body. Why? Tella tells him that his name is now Anders Vorg, and he has been brought back to life to serve as CEO of Eyelight Industries. He is to defeat the Church of Sagacity, Eyelight’s nemesis, and if he does...he will live forever. Eyelight considers the Church of Sagacity a doomsday cult. The religion that Eyelight favors is the Church of the Adherents of Tetra. The author spends almost no time telling the reader about this church, which I think was one of the novel’s flaws. Anyway, Vorg takes the job and tries to find out how the church is taking Eyelight consumers away via Apotheosis (what is this?). He secures an employee, Oscar Mathieson (who wants to divorce his boss/wife but can’t afford it) to become a spy for the church. Since Oscar is in love with his assistant Cornelia (who is already a church member), it’s easy to infiltrate the church.

Meanwhile on Mars, Governor Miriam Heath, is experiencing a weird program in her Eyelight visor...a virtual reality program called Elysian Fields. She is able to go to places that delight her. She considers letting the people in her hovel share the program. She does...and it’s blissful. Where did this program come from? Did Eyelight give it to the Mars population to break the boredom of mining on a bleak planet? Or is there a unknown entity controlling what they see? If you have read my previous reviews, you know that I ask a lot of questions (even though I read the book and know the answers). I’m trying to tempt you to buy this novel and help an emerging talented author.

Before I continue, let me state what the other flaws are in this novel (all minor, but worth mentioning). I think the author should have written another 100 pages or so (that would bring the total to 336, no big deal for a novel) to answer some questions that I have, such as how does a person gain their social position? I know that there were Brains A, B, C, D and E, but how did someone attain that ranking? Why did some of the people wear Greek or Roman armor? What exactly is the drug, InTox? Again these are minor flaws, but I wanted to know...maybe they will be explained in the ensuing novels (don’t new writers always write at least a trilogy?)

So Oscar goes to the Church of Sagacity with Cornelia for a sermon. The speaker at the sermon calls Eyelight...Satan. A bomb goes off, and the speaker and the front two rows at the church are vaporized. On his way home, Oscar starts seeing a burning man that has his face. Only he can see this image (it will get worse as the novel continues). Oscar asks Cornelia what apotheosis is. On page 57 (I’m early into this story), Cornelia says, “It’s quite simple. As soon as God decides that one of his worshippers has reached a holy enough state, he sticks his hands down from the heavens, plucks up the worshipper, and carries him all the way to the New World. After that, we never see the person again. That is, not until we’ve reached apotheosis ourselves.” Do you think that she is telling the truth? Who bombed the church? I love questions, I should have been a lawyer.

In the meantime, Vorg has Eyelight make a new robotic body so his brain can temporarily go into it and then he can appear as the prophet Jaddar at the 5th annual Church of Sagacity meeting. He appears at the meeting as the prophet Jaddar and on page 74, says to the Sagacity believers, “I have been sent by God (after making a miraculous appearance from the clouds), I am Jaddar. And I have come to tell you that God has a name: He is Tetra! (the other religion)” Then he says, ”Does any man question that I have been sent by Almighty God?” Nobody questions him. Although he convinces many of the parishioners, the majority still believe in Sagacity. The church believes that Jaddar is a false prophet and challenges him to meet their prophet on November 20th for a showdown of truth. On the day of the showdown, Jaddar is resting in his chamber before the match, and a grey shape appears in his room and says, “I’m the prophetess, my name is Saturnina.” Wow, who will win this faceoff before a sold-out stadium?

This is where I stop my review and you buy a copy of this sci-fi thriller. I have many more questions, such as: Who is Saturnina? Is the burning man that Oscar sees real? What’s really happening on Mars? What truly is Elysian Fields? And when a Church of Sagacity member reaches apotheosis, does he actually go to heaven? I undoubtedly enjoyed this maiden novel by J.G. McGovern. There were some minor flaws that I mentioned, but this is a highly recommended novel.  

RATING: 4 out of 5 stars

Comment: On 8/15/2012, Forbes published a story about Indie writers (the self-published independent writers). Apparently the published writers don’t like the Indies. The article asks, “Why do mainstream authors dislike Indie publishing to the point where some even disagree with the coined term ‘Indie’? It comes down to worldview. Bestselling authors who are talented and hard working are inclined to believe that publishing is a meritocracy where the best work by the most diligent writers get represented, acquired, published, and sold.”  That might be, but I’ve read some really good Indie novels over the past five years.

Thirty-two time bestselling author, Sue Grafton (A is for Alibi ) says, “To me, it seems disrespectful...that a ‘wannabe’ assumes it’s all so easy she/he can put out a ‘published novel’ without bothering to read, study, or do research...Self publishing is a short cut and I don’t believe in short cuts when it comes to the arts. I compare self-publishing to a student managing to conquer Five Easy Pieces on the piano and then wondering if she/he's ready to be booked into Carnegie Hall. Sue brings up a good point, however many great novels would be unpublished if there wasn’t the Indie industry.

I can bring up many Indie books that were monster bestsellers and then later picked up by a major publisher, but I’ll only mention two. The first novel is Wool by Hugh Howey (see my review of 1/21/2016). This major bestseller was originally an Indie and turned into a major trilogy. Simon & Schuster now publishes Hugh Howey’s novels. The second novel is the award winning psychological thriller The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello. I believe that she still self-publishes. Good for you girl!