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Book Review – The Festival on Lyris 5

The Festival on Lyris 5 – Great Sci Fi at a Great Price!

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Nick Daws
Format: Kindle

Dishonorably discharged from the Ten Stars Space Fleet, Captain Richard Barrett spends his day drinking and womanizing.  It’s an okay life but not entirely fulfilling until a telepath – Julie Halloran – enters his life or rather saves it.  Grateful for feeding him information during a poker game where his life had been at stake, Richard listens to Julie’s proposition for him pilot a craft.  The issue and the opportunity is that the ship will be filled with illegal drugs bound for the Festival on Lyris 5.  The festival runs for three weeks and is held once every ten years.  Given the lawless nature of Lyris 5, it offers the perfect opportunity for enterprising drug runners to make big money.  Seeing the opportunity and looking to shake things up a bit, Richard agrees to take the job.  What he doesn’t know is that the very balance of power in the Ten Star System is in his hands.

Nick Daws’ “The Festival on Lyris 5” is a fun and entertaining short story reminiscent in style to Joss Wheadon’s Firefly with a touch of Asimov’s classic Foundation’s Edge thrown in.  Daws tells the story in first person which is perfect as the reader feels the same thing that troubles Barrett throughout – that something more may be going on than he is being told.  This fun and sometimes quirky short story is paced perfectly and introduces us to what feels like a prologue to something much greater at the same time the main story arc is satisfactorily closed in climactic fashion.  I especially enjoyed the story elements involving the issues of prejudice suffered by the telepaths and how they are “tracked” using mind sweepers.

I hope this is the beginning of future chapters in the Ten Star System.  At $0.99 on Kindle, this is a great read!

Book Review – Doodling

Doodling – A Modern Day Parable

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Jonathan Gould
Format: Kindle

Struggling to keep up with the ever increasing pace of the world, Neville Lansdowne eventually gives in, lets go, and the world literally leaves him behind to fend for himself.  At first, Neville doesn’t know what to do; Earth is all he has ever known though lately it was hard to enjoy as it moved so fast around him.  But Neville soon realizes his not the only one to have been thrown off.  Others have left before him and they populate the universe on various asteroids and planets trying to make the best of life after the world has left them.  As Earth continues increasing its pace, it threatens to destroy itself and all who have left.  Can Neville and the others save their old world and themselves?

Jonathan Gould’s Doodling is a modern day parable exploring what happens when one lives to work instead of works to live.  In tongue and cheek fashion, Gould exposes Lansdowne to the outrageous characters in the universe that if he is not too careful, he could quickly become.  There are the “toaster” people who illustrate how crazy our lives can be when consumption of “things” become religion.  Then there is the aimless asteroid where it is impossible to know where one is going because there is no destination.  Finally, there is an intriguing look at what happens when responsibility and self sacrifice can become self destructive.

Doodling is an entertaining, light, yet deep novel.  After first reading, it seems like just a quick fun romp through Gould’s imagination, but upon reflection layers of messages reveal themselves.  I can’t pigeon hole Doodling into one genre but to me it felt like an adult version of the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  Currently, $0.99 on Kindle it is well worth a read.

Book Review – The Starfish People

The Starfish People – A Bittersweet Exceptional Debut Novel

Rating: 5 of 5 – TMBOA recommended book!!

Author: Leann Marshall
Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

After years of being haunted by a recurring nightmare where she is drowning, Sera Muir’s life is an empty shell.The nightmare is unrelenting and repeated therapy has proven to be unsuccessful.Sera moves through life without meaning, unable to hold anything more than a menial job.Her one promising relationship for love and happiness is doomed due to her water phobia caused by her all consuming dream.

Sera is convinced by Dr. Moore, her therapist, that perhaps her dream is not a dream but rather a memory- a memory of a drowning in a previous life.In the year 2202, science has advanced such that one has the ability to trace their life energy signature back in time.Dr. Moore identifies Sera’s past life signature in a woman named Melissa James.Through research, they discover that Melissa dies in a drowning accident which is the likely cause of Sera’s nightmare.An experimental procedure, Kinetic Regression Travel, may allow Sera to return back in time to witness what happens to Melissa so that she can finally break free of the hold this nightmare has on her.

However, for her journey to be successful, Sera must be extremely careful to only observe events of the past and not interfere with them or the result may be catastrophic.Desperate for finding meaning and searching for a way forward, Sera agrees.Ironically, after traveling back to 1973, for perhaps the first time in her life, Sera is anything but an observer.In fact, in a period of only a couple of days, Sera connects so deeply with those she meets, she begins to finally live life.The ultimate choice she makes and its impact transforms herself and those around her.

The Starfish People by Leann Marshall is a beautifully written novel.The characters are marvelously developed and lovingly conveyed to the reader as if paying tribute to their tragic lives.I was moved by each of them and haunted by the bittersweet ending.Marshall’s insights into the human condition are thoughtfully written.One of my favorite quotes comes from Willie:

“Maybe you understand why somebody is the way they is, and maybe you don’t understand them at all.But folks all got their own ways about them – good and bad.And that’s all there is to it in this life, you know.We all just trying to find our way.”

It is only through her past, that Sera finds her way.

Not only did I enjoy reading this novel, but I found myself frequently thinking about it’s characters, themes, and what might have been, making it clear to me why this novel was awarded a 2008 IPPY Silver Medal.This is an extremely good debut novel and Marshall proves she is a very capable author.

I suppose my one complaint would be that I longed for more.The novel is a brief 138 pages and I know that I could have spent even more time in Marshall’s world.If you like novels from Oprah’s book club, put this one on your shelf.You will grow and care about the characters more than those in The House of Sand and Fog and the outcome will be more satisfying than Drowning Ruth.I anxiously await the release of Leann Marshall’s next offering.