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: Deep Sleepers (A Tom Blake thriller) by Adrian Wills

Publication Date: January 18, 2014

From the dust cover: “Deep Sleepers is an action adventure thriller featuring former special forces psychologist, Tom Blake.

He should be the perfect spy. After all Ben Proctor has no idea of his true identity. He’s been planted deep undercover with a radical right-wing political party steadily increasing in popularity as the country’s anti-Muslim fervour grows. But when Proctor is recruited by a secretive neo-Nazi terrorist splinter group calling themselves the Phineas Priests, his mission begins to unravel at terrifying speed. He’s abducted, branded with a mysterious symbol and initiated in an eerie moonlit ceremony. The Priests have spotted Proctor’s potential and want him to lead a deadly terrorist bomb plot that is destined to kill hundreds of innocent people.

As the perfect spy threatens to become the perfect terrorist, one man’s tasked with stopping him – the man who’s already inside his head. Tom Blake is a former Special Forces military psychologist who now works for British MI5. He’s supposed to be controlling Proctor using an experimental hypnotic technique developed with a black ops SAS unit. The only problem is that Proctor has gone missing – and the countdown to the bombing has already begun.

And so starts a frantic hunt for the missing spy before it’s too late. With his MI5 masters demanding action, Blake needs all his military experience to track down his man and avert tragedy. Meanwhile, in the heart of London’s Canary Wharf, a Texan oil billionaire makes a rendezvous with his super yacht for a secret meeting that could be about to change history. How much does he know about the Phineas Priests and could he hold the key to stopping the bombing?

And an investigative reporter finds himself hot on the heels of the biggest story he’s ever chased – with the help of a mysterious blonde trying to find her brother who she fears has been murdered in Brazil.”
About the author: “Adrian has been writing for as long as he can remember but Deep Sleepers is his debut novel. He’s been a journalist for all his working life, forging a career in local newspapers and in regional television news. He is married to fellow indie-author, Amanda Wills. They live in Faversham in Kent with their two sons, Oliver and Thomas.”

My Ebook review: what is there not to love about an action adventure thriller with a blurb like that of “Deep Sleepers”? Whenever MI5 enters the plot there is the feeling that anything can happen, nothing is impossible and the plot can only possibly get more complicated as the story unfolds. When the bad guys have a cause and money then the game really is on.

Wills builds the story rapidly and confidently without too much fanfare and excellent scene setting rolled out in an uncomplicated and interesting flow. Once the story is going it is a race to find out what is going to happen next and quite how all of the apparently unrelated pieces of information tie together into splendid finale. Blake is an excellent character who we get to know on a relatively superficial level but this is perfectly in keeping with his covert status but no doubt we will get to know him better in subsequent additions to this series. The bad guys are delightfully menacing, wonderfully clandestine and all too plausible. The innocent bystanders get dragged into a situation that is far too big for them to comprehend but add a human side to the equation of the plot as well as a level of complexity that helps to raise this book to an excellent level.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Oh yes, “Deep Sleepers” is an action adventure thriller that kept me turning the pages from the start to the finish.

Ebook review: The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul

Publication Date: February 20, 2014

From the dust cover: “In a dark Manhattan alley, a young woman suddenly collapses from a brain hemorrhage. The statistics say it’s rare to have happened to someone so young and healthy, yet all signs point to natural causes. But when Kyle Vine, the man she was supposed to meet that night, learns she wasn’t the only victim, he knows there’s something more going on and soon discovers a mysterious link to the sudden success of a journeyman pitcher for the New York Yankees.

As the lethal brain bleeds continue to strike, Kyle and the woman’s eccentric uncle work together to unravel a mystery unlike any the world has ever seen in order to stop a ruthless killer from striking again.

Stephen Paul’s debut supernatural suspense thriller, The Perfect Game, is a fast-paced gripping ride that will continue to keep readers on the edge of their seats while trying to figure out who’s behind the deadly episodes, how they’re doing it and, perhaps most shocking of all, why.”

About the author: “Stephen was raised in the suburbs of Long Island and now lives with his wife and son in New York City. When not crusading on behalf of the design professional community, he enjoys writing thrillers with a supernatural touch.”

My Ebook review: “…thrillers with a supernatural touch.” is a pretty good hook and sums up very well an exciting debut novel. Like all the very best stories that involve the supernatural, there is an almost plausible rationale, a tangible feeling that the well chosen touch of fantasy could just about happen. Certainly, the characters are all recognisable and their motivations seem clear on the surface. It is the consequences of the actions of Kyle’s not entirely appropriate motivations that throw our unlikely hero into a complex situation that he can neither predict nor control.

The pace of the book is good and the scene setting is excellent and a tension is built and maintained through the book as it navigates the twists and turns of a well executed plot.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Yes, “The Perfect Game” was an excellent thriller with just enough supernatural behaviour to be interesting but not absurd, it added to the plot rather than take over the plot.

Ebook review: Half Wise: Wizard with a Gold Tooth by Joshua Bayard

Publication Date: January 29, 2014

From the dust cover: “Sixty woodcutters have vanished. Hamet was there when it happened, but he can’t stop singing. Evil sorcery has come to the town of Gullywine. When the Mayor summons a wizard to help for the first time in generations, the stranger who arrives has a checkered past and troubles of his own. And, the lost woodcutters are running out of time.

WIZARD WITH A GOLD TOOTH is the first HALF WISE story. This e-book is a 14,527 word novella. It’s recommended for people who like offbeat fairy tales and unpredictable adventures.”

About the author: “When Joshua Bayard isn’t writing weird fairy tales, he’s trying to teach himself the ukulele, daydreaming, or eating breakfast. He lives in Denver with his lovely fiancée.”

My Ebook review: I read this novella a couple of weeks ago and for some reason am only now getting to writing my review which is perhaps a strange way to start but on reflection helps me make the point that it is still strong in my memory. Bayard did a very good job of giving us a glimpse into this universe, letting us know that we do not know all of the rules and let a story unfold in a reasonable way. The efficient use of language packed a great deal of story into an exciting novella that hopefully promises a lot more from the ‘Half Wise’ series.

Did I enjoy it?: Yes, although clearly a quick read it captures the imagination and is a breath of fresh air which makes me hope for more.

Ebook review: SAR: RAF Helicopter Search and Rescue – A Pilot’s Account by Jake Watson

Publication Date: January 21, 2014

From the dust cover: “Jake Watson is an accomplished military pilot, flying Sea King Search and Rescue helicopters for the Royal Air Force. In the course of his flying career he flew over three hundred rescue missions, day and night, in all weather conditions and in all environments. Jake left the Service in 2007 as a Squadron Leader, active front-line pilot, and the Commanding Officer of one of the six RAF Search and Rescue bases in the UK. This is Jake’s story.

Alone, in the dark, in a life threatening situation, injured, or just lost, is not a nice place to be. A bright yellow Sea King coming over the horizon might just be the thing to make your day a whole lot better.
The UK’s moors, mountains, coastlines and sea routes are patrolled and protected, day and night, in all weathers by the crews of the Royal Air Force’s Search and Rescue helicopters. On rescue sorties, the crew of four are given very short notice to use anything at their disposal, usually just themselves and the helicopter, to save life. The task could be a stranded yachtsman, miles out in the North Atlantic, an injured climber, crag-fast in a blizzard, a fisherman suffering a heart attack on the North Sea’s Dogger Bank, or a missing child in the Peak District. The possibilities are endless and the challenges often uniquely complex. It is a job that requires great skill, nerve and courage to face the unknown and the unpredictable. This book is an emotive, personal account of the missions flown by Jake and his crews. The highs and the lows, the heartbreak and the elation are all evident alongside the tenacious and professional approach in the story told behind each rescue mission. Take an enigmatic journey with Jake through the range of search and rescue sorties eloquently described in ‘SAR’.”

My Ebook review: I will start this review off by saying that I like flying in helicopters and have had a few opportunities to do so including being taken through a few minor ‘stunts’ on one trip. These flights all had one thing in common: they were in the summer on nice days. It is also true that I am a big fan of career ‘voyeurism’, I like to read about the experiences of people whose day to day is very different to my own, because I can almost, for a few moments at least, live vicariously through the author’s prose. So ‘SAR’ was a clear opportunity not to be missed.
We are served a behind the scenes look at what it takes to keep a SAR operation ready for action 24/7/365, what the crews are asked to do and how a safety net exists to help the unfortunate when they need it most. Importantly, from my perspective, we are introduced to the routine, the rules and to some extent the technical challenges; this gives depth and insight for the reader.
The author also helps us to see the human side of the work between life saving sorties, the cups of tea, occasional boredom and humour that are also a part of the work.
Watson has the sort of highly efficient writing style that one would anticipate from years of having to communicate precisely, quickly and efficiently sometimes highly complex information. This makes for a very pleasurable reading experience because the descriptions are so crisp and clear that I was transported to the mountains, I could almost feel the wind as sorties were described. What was palpable was the sense of teamwork, the training, the skill and the bravery of the crew as they push the limits to save lives.
If you want to read one book this year that makes you feel a huge range of emotions whilst opening your eyes to a world that few of us will encounter then ‘SAR’ would be my recommendation.
Did I enjoy it?: Clearly yes, fascinating, fabulously written, and sometimes deeply moving.

Ebook review: Interesting Times by Jack Vander Beek

Publication Date: December 27, 2013
From the dust cover: “Tom Verwarring is a timid and deeply flawed man who’s barely making it through life. He’s afraid of shopping and public restrooms and people; he’s afraid of the world.
Tom’s life is coming apart, meanwhile he struggles with a childhood full of loss, tragedy and secrets. But throughout everything, he tries to stay positive.
He needs help.
Then one day he starts seeing things and his life begins to change, and not necessarily in a good way.
But there’s good news; he’s not alone anymore.”
About the author: “Jack Vander Beek was born in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1952 and now lives in Olympia, Washington. He is retired after working 40 years in operating rooms, 35 of those as an RN. In addition, he’s had a long love/hate relationship with computers, reaching back to the early days of CPM and his first computer, a KayPro-2, which he still has.
He maintains a website with technical information for anesthesiologists and has also written a medical professional book on one anesthetic technique.
He’s constantly on the lookout for great writing and some of the authors in his pantheon are Kurt Vonnegut, P.G. Wodehouse, Samuel Clemens, Thomas Harris and Stephen King. Check out his blog at jackvanderbeek.com
Now that he’s retired he’s doing more of what he wants, namely, writing novels and spending time with his family and dogs, cat and chickens, and NOT going to work in the middle of the night.”
My Ebook review: let us get straight to the point, this was a fascinating and fantastic reading experience. The author chose to tell this story through the eyes of Tom, in a delightful first person narrative. That is not to say that everything that is said is delightful, but the scene is already half set by the writing style of the socially challenged Tom.
Tom tells his story in sometimes graphic detail. This takes us on a journey through the psyche and quite regrettably the toiletry hurdles of Tom. The journey is an eventful one and it is a long one but somehow never feels like it. Tom tells his story in simple prose that at times feels juvenile and naïve which fits beautifully with the character.
One of my favourite films of recent years is “American Psycho” based upon Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. “Interesting Times” comes with the same intensity and unexpected decline into the recesses of the mind where all bets are off and it is anyone’s guess where the journey will end.
Did I enjoy it?: Splendidly so! I was dragged into Tom’s story and almost thought I had it totally figured out, but actually not. The surprises kept up until the very end. A great reading experience.

Ebook review: 2b Not To Be by Robert Hartman

Publication date 18th Jan 2014
About the author: “I’m a UK born, Canadian writer, poet and mobile game designer. I love the creative process, generating ideas in all different formats and letting my mind run wild to see where it takes me.”
From the dust cover: “2B Not to Be is a story of lost love, revenge and missed opportunities set in the magical world of a writer’s desk.”

My Ebook review: simply put this is a charming short story filled with inventive silliness told in a delightful way. There are probably many sub conscious messages of the hidden turmoil of the writer and the continuous struggle to gain the upper hand over creativity in the face of an ever changing world, but for me it was an entertaining look at what might happen when the author stops paying attention to their desk.

Did I enjoy it: yes, a quick and entertaining read.

Ebook review: Madness of the Turtle by S.R.Wilsher

Publication Date: December 11, 2013
From the dust cover: “On their way to join the revolution in Cuba – ten years after it ended – a gang of brutal jungle bandits see television for the first time. Their leader, Father Gerard Limerick falls in love with the beautiful soap actress Magdalena. Recovering after being almost fatally wounded, he becomes convinced he’s been resurrected in order to save her from the soap’s evil Senor Gonzales, and becomes determined to make her his wife.
The bandits travel to a film camp deep in the jungle, holding the cast and crew hostage while they wait for the arrival of the actor playing Senor Gonzales.
Meanwhile, Limerick’s disenchanted son Rico yearns for another life. Unable to be with a prostitute he loved, or to save a farmer’s wife from the men, Rico becomes desperate to save Magdalena from his crazy father and his psychotic family of bandits; even if it means crossing the most frightening man in the world.”

My Ebook review: this is a quixotic story and a journey told from the point of view of Rico. The journey is both physical and metaphorical as a young boy becomes a man as a man determines what is real from what is delusion.
We follow our characters on their journey through a meandering series of episodes, learning as we go more about the character of the group than of many of the individuals. The group is rough and tough, undereducated and with little regard for law or life. The major characters become well developed and we get a good feeling about how they see themselves and in particular we delve into Rico’s thoughts and his relationship with his father becomes a central theme of the book. As the journey continues, the cracks appear and tensions grow. We get to witness the disintegration of world views and the inevitable conflicts that this brings to people who are used to solving problems with guns or a knife to the gut. Regret and introspection are unfamiliar friends to the characters.
This ebook is engaging and well written, makes good use of the flawed leader and his belief in his own importance and the self serving interpretation of Robin Hood’s tales and the meandering story has the opportunity to both shock and surprise until the end.
Did I enjoy it?: Yes, well written , slightly crazy but engaging.

Ebook review: Politics by Other Means by Adam Fitchett (A Short Story)

Published 19th December 2013
About the author: “Adam Fitchett is studying Biochemistry at the University of Sussex, but for some reason he also claims to be a writer. His hobbies include reading, watching movies, and writing about himself in the third person.
He writes comedy because he believes that the most psychologically self destructive thing a person can do is to take everything seriously. He thinks that, in order to endure the base, the stupid and the absurd, the best thing one can do is simply point and laugh at it. His stories are sometimes political, sometimes philosophical, often dark, and always very, very silly. His major influences include Douglas Adams, Oscar Wilde, P.G. Wodehouse, Ayn Rand, Peter Sellers, Terry Pratchett, and the better parts of Friedrich Nietzsche.”
From the dust cover: “”Peace and politics are pantomime”
Those are the immortal words of General Alfred Thackworth, son of Lord Thackworth, and a man who is willing to wage war over a stolen packet of biscuits; and if that were not sufficiently problematic, his target, the totally functional and honestly not at all despotic nation of Gritania, is in the grips of a terrific power struggle, the likes of which have not been seen since last Wednesday.
This irreverent, silly and deeply cynical comedy will entertain all those who have the strength to rise above the quagmire of political subterfuge, and see it for the pathetic burlesque it really is.
Evil is small, and it has no fashion sense.”

My Ebook review: reading Fitchett’s biography it is not too surprising to find that this ebook is a delightfully funny short story that reminded me of Dr Strangelove. It is its own ebook but if you like one then you will probably enjoy the other.
There is a cast of ludicrous characters usefully employed like a cascade of co-chaperones they work because of each other. Their individual small mindedness and lack of imagination synergise to create this jovial and sometimes downright hilarious short work.
It will be interesting to read a full novel from Fitchett.
Did I enjoy it?: Certainly, very funny, just over too soon.

Ebook review: Rachel’s Folly by Monica Bruno

From the dust cover: “She has it all: a successful career, a beautiful house, a loving husband, and a son she adores. To top it off, her best friend is getting married. But who is this mysterious man who calls himself Jack and, more importantly, who is Rachel when she’s with him? After a night of drinking gone awry, Rachel is forced to face a dark part of herself she didn’t know existed. She must find a way to cope—with what she’s done, with the kind of person she might be—or lose her life in the process.

Told from three unique perspectives and set against the backdrop of an Austin, Texas both strange and familiar, Rachel’s Folly is an exploration of profound loss, morality, and the lengths to which we will go to save our loved ones and ourselves . . . from ourselves.”

From the author: “A few words of caution: it is by no means erotica, but it does include two sex scenes (non-explicit). It also has occasional profanity (used judiciously). And, one of the main characters just happens to be gay.”

My Ebook review: this is a very well executed thriller, the characters are interesting, well developed and used effectively to create a book that does keep the reader guessing until the end.

I personally hate spoilers which means that I often need to write very short reviews on some books. For me I thought suspiciously about one character for quite a while and happily was proved to be wrong, so the story kept its intensity for a good long time.

There are a number of layers to the plot which are kept neatly under control and used in a way to develop the plot rather than confuse the reader.

Did I enjoy it?: definitely an enjoyable reading experience and I could certainly imagine reading the next Bruno novel.