Ebook review: Freed Aliens: The 2nd Galactic Pool Novel by M. Sid Kelly

Publication Date: March 19, 2014

From the dust cover: “Freed Aliens is the 2nd Galactic Pool satirical sci-fi comedy novel. It offers you the old-fashioned, high-quality naughty behavior you’ve come to expect. And it’s all in a 100% new story.
Their failed invasion of Earth wasn’t for nothing. The aliens came away with Jimmy Fresneaux’s TV fishing show and a lot of other great ideas for expanding the Galactic Broadcasting Company. Now the Galactic Pool establishment faces a rebellion triggered by a swarm of empowered filmmakers and other so-called pest species.
One particularly nasty politician has a plan to zap the rebels. But a diverse cast of heroic aliens and abducted Earthlings is on the job – whether they realize it or not.
The local Higher Power is still paying attention too. And he’s getting more and more confused all the time…
*Maintains the first book’s low 10,000-to-1 ratio of regular words to F-words.
*The sex scenes are beyond telepathic this time, but may require some imagination.”

About the author: “M. Sid Kelly grew up in a globe-crawling military family with his English mum and California hillbilly dad who engineered Air Force base TV stations. So young Sid grew up surrounded by TVs – with British comedies, U.S. fishing shows, and 1970’s Tagalog-language kung fu movies competing for the best naughty bits. He graduated with a four-year degree in marine biology eight years after enrolling at Humboldt State University. Having completed two years in Africa with the Peace Corps, he got a job as federal fisheries bureaucrat – until too many dead fish had piled up. Now he consults on fish protection measures for bridge construction projects in order to pay the bills, and he wrote Used Aliens in order to become a zillionaire one day. His conclusion after having run around all over the place looking at stuff: Space aliens are going to think we are the strange ones.”

My Ebook review: if I have managed to persuade anyone to read this blog on even a slightly regular basis then it would come as no surprise that I am a fan of this author and have even gone so far as to interview his characters in a previous entry: http://littleebookreviews.com/2013/10/23/200th-blog-post-and-used-aliens-character-interview/. So when I heard that the sequel to Used Aliens was out I simply had to get my hands on it. Luckily the weekend was preposterously filled with enough spare time to allow me to engorge “Freed Aliens” in a manner that would have made even some of his characters blush.

A heck of a lot is expected of sequels and I was not holding back my expectations as I read this one. The most endearing features of the first book, namely the intelligent writing and the slapstick comedy resurface as we catch up with old friends and new friends, old enemies and other beings of indeterminate pleasantness. It picks up where “Used Aliens” left off with our heroes spread wide across the galaxy almost blissfully unaware that they are about to be thrust once again into a vast adventure.

In “Freed Aliens” Kelly allows his education fired imagination to unfold across the pages and unabashedly portrays a delightful range of alien forms and I really enjoyed the range of non-humanoid forms acting appropriately according to their tentacular, proboscistised, wingéd or slimy natures. All this is written carefully, intelligently and in a way that adds to the story rather than distract from the plot. The plot is an epic adventure, or even several intertwined adventures that weave an exciting path towards (well you need to read it for that part). Basically, the plot is splendid and the breadth of the story is spectacular and so clearly absurd that it certainly must be true.

What makes this book both interesting and funny is the satirising of our own world and humanity combined with the occasional scene of side splittingly funny slapstick / burlesque that had me in fits. Beyond that though, “Freed Aliens” does not try to make the aliens either superior beings, monsters or cartoon characters, they are believable entities that have their own drives, selfish stupidity, lust along with diverse character flaws that create a melting pot from which a masterpiece is forged.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: You bet your sloth I did, in fact I think that I will go back and read it a second time straight away. I am hoping to find that there will be room for another “Galactic Pool” instalment to extend this powerhouse franchaise!


Ebook review: Stand and Deliver by Adrian Marshall

Publication Date: February 10, 2014

From the dust cover: “Picture the scene; in my early fifties I was made redundant from the world of IT, and judging that there was more chance of me seeing Lord Lucan riding Shergar to victory in the next St. Leger, than continuing in my chosen trade, I bade a fond farewell to the computer business and took the next logical and blatantly obvious career move. I would be a Chinese Takeaway Delivery Driver.

These are some of my experiences, in no particular order, as an ‘Oriental Comestible Transportation Executive,’ with liberal scatterings of general observations on life, the universe and everything. Most of the stories contain a certain percentage of poetic license, plus necessary name, location and setting changes, but there is more than a grain of truth in them all.”

About the author: “I am a retired male living in the UK. That is enough about me; let’s get on with the more interesting subject of BOGOF the Supermarket Cat. Please visit BOGOF’s web site at http://bogofthesupermarketcat.co.uk for FREE Wallpaper/Background, to contact me, Hilda, or BOGOF, and find out about BOGOF’s next exciting adventure.”

My Ebook review: whilst I have not read the BOGOF series my attention was grabbed by the author’s page. “Stand and Deliver” is a short, funny and also interesting ebook that sees our delivery driver get into and out of all sorts of fixes. Whether or not it is based on real life was not really the point for me, the anecdotes have the flavour of the absurd nonsense of everyday life.
My only gripe was that it was all over too soon.

Did I enjoy it?: Yes, there are a number of very funny anecdotes, some excellent observations and I never knew that the prawn crackers were made that way! A happy, jolly and quick read.

Ebook Review: Margin of Eros by Clare Hawthorne

About the author: “Clare Hawthorne grew up in Tasmania, Australia. She accidentally completed a degree in economics at the Australian National University before moving to Melbourne to study screenwriting. She has written over ten feature film screenplays, which have won or placed in Australian and US-based screenwriting competitions. She moved to Los Angeles in 2007 where she came up with the idea for ‘Margin of Eros’.”

From the dust cover: “Violet is the most beautiful woman in the world. However, as she lives in Los Angeles and is not an actress/model/waitress, this fact has largely gone unnoticed. Unnoticed by humans, that is. Unbeknownst to her, Violet’s life has been manipulated by lustful gods and vengeful goddesses to such an extent that she has been disbarred as a psychologist and now works as an assistant at Olympic Studios, where the studio bosses don’t merely think they’re gods…they actually are gods.”

My Ebook review: I am a huge fan of fiction that involves the gods of Olympus. The original myths, or at least the versions that were thrust in my direction, translated into English, were endlessly fascinating. The capriciousness of the gods and the insignificance of the mortals, their play pieces, teaches a lot of important life lessons alongside just being entertainment.
Clare Hawthorne has chosen to use the backdrop of the gods of Olympus as they yet again squabble amongst themselves and interfere in the lives of mortals. The result is a complex tissue of plots, subterfuge and intrigue as well as a love story or two.
What we end up with is a satire and a drama that elegantly and eloquently wafts along over several hundred pages. It is a pleasant experience to read this book because of the interesting and diverse characters. It is a raunchy experience from time to time in ways both amusing and bizarre. The only negative I could consider was the nagging question of where is it all going? It does move along nicely and there is certainly a well developed main plot, it just plays second fiddle to the meanders and seeming tangents of the excellent prose.
An excellent read and very entertaining.

Ebook review: Remember Big: A Novel by Kelly Wittmann

Golf is a game that puts people in two camps of lovers and haters, it seems. Mark Twain apparently said “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Many years ago back in the old country golf was a game that I played from time to time and to be honest I enjoyed it tremendously. In my youth I bought individual clubs from second hand shops and ended up with a splendid mixed bag of irons and a couple of woods which I only reluctantly upgraded to a proper set in adulthood. It is amazing that I say I enjoyed it with all the frustrations that come along with it. Another splendid quote from Churchill “Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” Somehow, the great man captures it perfectly. Those weapons impel that little ball in almost every conceivable direction than the one requested; hook, slice, top and repeat. How many hours have I spent searching for that small device in the ‘rough’. The rough is of course that almost unnavigable jungle like growth that exists for the pleasure of golfers everywhere who do not quite manage to find the whisper thin band of fairway. I got to play a round the other day for the first time in ages and really enjoyed the frustration and the exhilaration of that crazy game. So, when I saw a satirical fiction with golf as an essential back plot I had to roll with it; let us get into the swing of today’s par 5:

From the dust cover: “Thirty-three-year-old Charlie Matthias was born on the same day as Phil Mickelson, but his career in professional golf sure didn’t turn out the same way. Throw in some substance abuse and divorce issues, and he’s a wreck who’s pretty much given up on ever having a happy life.

A chance meeting with an old friend from high school, Erica Denner, lights a spark of hope in his heart, but he claims their very different family backgrounds and personalities are stumbling blocks. Only when he admits to the real stumbling blocks—his own pain and bitterness—will there be a chance for Charlie and Erica to find a lasting love together.”

My Ebook review: coming to terms with a life that is less than personally fulfilling, even though the rest of the world would chew off a leg to live such a life, the hero of this book makes an excellent study. There are many works written about how empty life can be even in the face of wealth, health and success but “Remember Big: A Novel” we examine how self destructive this emptiness can be. Charlie is a guy with everything except a proper backbone. He has been pushed about by his family for years and never really stood up for himself. He hated his career as a pro-golfer even though it gave him a tremendous living and a wife and the almost admiration of his narcissistic family, gave it up and we catch up with him on the way down. The danger in many such stories is that the character is so lacking in maturity that he (usually it is a he) is virtually impossible to empathize with and this is a tight boundary that Wittmann navigates pretty well. Charlie is not a likeable character in many ways and his destiny reflects well the character as written and his bitterness and insecurity combine with a strangely tight bond to an unhelpful family situation mean there will always be trouble one way or the other.
The backstory of the book, the career as a pro-golfer and references to that life are useful and interesting. Regardless that being a golfer sounds like it should be a magnificent life (from the outside) living out of hotels and endless playing of a game that one hates is bound to build up a stress on the system. On the other hand, having a job, any job, eventually involves a degree of dissatisfaction for the vast majority of people but we still need to do it. So Charlie is not a guy who is going to get sympathy but he does get a chance to reboot his life.
You will need to read it to find out of course but this is a well written book that moves a story along nicely with a good selection of well thought out characters and situations. For me, Wittmann executes this story well and the sense of realism was maintained throughout.

Ebook review: Wanda Exposed by Alex Munkacsy

From the dust cover: After over five years of role-playing as Wanda LaQuanda on the Internet, I’m coming clean with the truth: the writer behind the black Queen of Twitter is a 32 year old white man. This book is the story of how (and why) I invented Wanda, what I learned along the way and why I decided to come out of the closet as her creator. This is Wanda Exposed.
My Ebook review: Wanda’s story is an exciting one. The author has surfed a wave on the Internet, having worked hard and used effort and timing to create success.

This is an inspirational story for anyone interested in trying to leverage the opportunities of the Internet; it is a telling history of the last decade and a satire on attitudes so deeply held that it could well cross the line of offensiveness. ‘Wanda’ is a neatly written and fast moving exposé which is well worth a read. You will also learn some good insights on Twitter specifically.
Of course the whole basis of the book is that the internet allows anyone to create a second personality ‘out there’ and that there is very little way to verify what is real and what is fiction. That is entertainment, which is satire. There have been any number of artists who have created characters that the unwitting have taken at face value only to be ridiculed. Wanda is such an act and this book is another platform for the show. All the internet is a stage and we are but bits upon it.

Sinkronisity by Stephen Faulds

About the author: Stephen Faulds is a fantasy author based in Perth, Australia, and describes his approach: “My writing explores the search for truth and self-actualisation in a variety of genres and styles”
Another instructive quotation taken from Faulds Facebook page: “When a character says or does something you don’t approve then it is safe to assume you have given your creation a life of its own and it will now have an interesting story. A character is not a mouthpiece of the writer; it represents itself.”
From the dust cover: “A satirical science fiction fantasy about time travel and destiny. Old Rang lives in a cave on the edge of a time warp. His visitors include the Nottle villagers who believe he makes the sun rise every morning and a time traveller called Vince Yaga who is the least superstitious man in the universe. Vince Yaga discovers Ruce Lemming, a character from an unfinished epic fantasy novel by Seferin Fane. Ruce is being stalked by a mutant lawnmower named Victor. After a variety of erroneous misadventures which involve an array of characters including Buggeroni, an inventor from Florence; his wife Florrida; Belinda Nort, an out of work actress; an old Fakir and Rod Singlet, a Nostralian Itinerant, Seferin is helped to finish his novel so that Ruce and everyone in the immediate vicinity, including the lawnmower can fulfil their respective destinies.”
My Ebook review: this is a book that does what is says: it is a satire on many recognizable themes and holds each of them up to the razor blade of humor. There are many characters striving to keep their place in the limelight in this book which makes for a lot of scene jumps. This is clearly part of the charm and it is remarkable that the plot stays together under the strain. The clue is in the book title of course.
There are a number of important questions asked in the book: namely, what happens to heroes whose stories are not finished and what will happen when robot lawn mowers become self-aware? Beware the Lawnminator!
“Sinkronisity” is a fun book with multiple interesting levels and a good read.