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The Genocide Gene

The Genocide Gene (The Onryo Saga Book 3)5 Stars

The Genocide Gene is the third book in the thrilling Onryo Saga and continues the adventures of the teenage superheroes in their fight to save humanity. Chikara, Renka and Gen are the superhero trio with mystical powers that they inherited from a ring with a mysterious black rock. The trio is on a crime fighting spree when Chikara receives a message from her late mother that takes the superheroes on an adventure to Sierra Leone. Meanwhile, a team of brothers are planning to eradicate tribes in a deadly attack and soon enough the teenagers are caught up in a whirlwind of African supremacists, terrorists and evil politicians. Friendships and alliances will be put to the test as they battle their way through a storm of evil extremists. Will their friendships survive this heroic escapade or will it finally be the end of the Japanese crime fighters?

The Genocide Gene, written by Rocco Ryg, is the third edition of the Onryo Saga and as always he delivers an exceptional story line packed with action and charm. The story begins back in 1985, with a cover-up involving a mysterious black stone which gives people ungodly powers. This powerful stone forges the path to a catastrophe that will echo its effects in years to come.

It then flashes forward to the year 2012 where everyone’s favourite Japanese super heroes have banded together with their mystical powers to clean up the streets of drug crimes, child trafficking and murdering of innocent souls.

Like a voice beyond the grave, Chikara is contacted with a message left by her late mother where she requests that Chikara, Renka and Gen venture to the deep throes of Africa. Friendships will be tested and lines crossed as you delve deeper into the twisted underground world of Sierra Leone, forcing the reader to confront terrorists, gangsters and teenagers with magical abilities. You will reminisce with old friends and be left with a bitter taste as they dance with old enemies and form unlikely alliances in a bid to do what they do best- saving lives.

Prepare to be on the edge of your seat as you follow extremists on the hunt for those who can heal, and feel the terror as enemies are enveloped with an evil presence. My favourite part of Rocco Ryg’s novels is that he is able to intricately weave multiple story lines together in such a way that the reader will be engrossed from start to finish. I love seeing how the characters grow and how they challenge themselves in situations using their individual powers. The Genocide Gene also explores a rich diversity of cultural differences and gives you a taste of gangster life across different nations.

Staying true to the themes of action crossed with a dash of politics and mystical powers, The Genocide Gene will be sure to satisfy your need for a superhero tale. I would recommend this for all who are in need of an adventure. Will they be successful in Chikaras mission from the grave or have the superheroes finally met their match?

Pages: 268 | ASIN: B01M0KF137

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Cyborg Kitten

Stewart Hoffman Author Interview

Stewart Hoffman Author Interview

In The Bug Boys Alex and Ian accidentally ingest tiny nanobots created by an alien race called the Secti. This lets them transform their bodies into human-insect hybrids with superpowers. This seems to be my exact dream as a kid. How did this idea come to you and develop into a novel?

I originally thought I’d go the ‘exposure to radiation’ route to superpowers. It was going to be a radioactive peanut butter sandwich, and only one hero. But, as I started organising the novel, I hated that I wasn’t pushing for something more interesting, so I decided to switch from nuclear to coal, and from radiation to atom sized robots! This opened up new opportunities and ultimately enabled me to create something fresh and new.

I felt that the characters were intriguing and well developed. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the character’s development?

I think it’s important to let characters grow in a story. Alex and Ian learn not to judge a book by its cover, and that having superpowers isn’t all comic book heroics and fame.

I thought the alien Secti race was well crafted. What themes did you want to incorporate into this race?

I asked myself. What if insects were left alone to evolve on a planet of their own? The result was the Secti. A perfect society, and perfectly boring! So they tweak their social order to shake things up a bit, and employ special Secti called Instigation Officers to travel the planet and cause trouble.

Please tell me that you’re writing a second book?

Book 2 is nearly done! Title: The Bug Boys vs Professor Blake Blackhart

This will probably be available sometime August, 2017. The story catches up with The Bug Boys one month after the events in the first book. In the sequel, they have to tackle an evil professor and his cyborg kitten called, Willoughby!

AuthorLinks: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Bug Boys“Who would have thought that eating a peanut butter sandwich and an apple would change your life? Let alone get you mixed up with an old alien research project, and transform you into the superheroes your village never needed.

For two young South Yorkshire lads, Alex Adams and Ian Harris, it was a geeky comic book dream come true, but it wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be in the real world. They discover there are many layers between good and evil, and with great power, comes an embarrassing amount of gas!”

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The Creep Evil Ones

D.P. Joynes Author Interview

D.P. Joynes Author Interview

Goo of the Gods centers around the life of teen prodigy Jonah and his traumatic past involving suspicious accidents and missing people. This is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a science fiction, horror, and fantasy as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

A little of both. I’m a nurse whose also worked in the manufacturing and customer service industries while I was in college, so science, horror, and fantasy will continue to blend in my writing. Missing people, accidents, these are things that I’ve witnessed, so I knew what elements I had to have in the book. I began with a timeline, but, like life, the timeline continually grew as my characters took on lives of their own. Although, I should mention that not everything came from my own personal experiences. Changes to the timeline and character encounters were drastic when I chose to use my teenagers living at home as a resource.

Jonahs friends in science club form a group called Sci-6. I felt the supporting characters were well developed and intriguing. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I love all of my characters, including the creepy evil ones. I chose a male protagonist over a female one because I love writing about villainous women. Turning them into demons and putting them up against a wiz kid was a bonus, but, ultimately, that wiz kid has my heart. Jonah has a horrible past because, in truth, he has horrible parents whom he just can’t avoid even when they are missing from his life. His identity is important to him, but he’s still trying to figure out who he is. As he’s growing up, he has to learn to find confidence in the presence of self doubt and what’s expected of him. Most teens, I believe would relate to the struggle of figuring out what you want versus what others want of you.

Sci-6 embark on a mission to conduct risky experiments in order to uncover the truth and defeat demons. This sets up the novel to deliver some very entertaining scenes. What was the funnest thing about writing this novel?

I think you said it! Some of the scenes are definitely “risky.” There is some genuine physical and medical science I used to formulate speculative fiction. The most fun was throwing the teenagers into these crazy experiments and seeing how they’d manage to get through it. I love the bickering and arguing when you have no clue what to do-that’s the most fun.

This book is part of the Rising Saints High series. When will the next book be available and where will that take the characters?

Blade of the Crones is the second installment of the RSH series and will be available at the end of 2017. Raz, Jonah’s ex-girlfriend mentioned briefly in Book 1, will make an appearance causing more teen drama. But Sci-6 has a job to do. One of their own needs rescuing, so they’re going to have to put their heads together and formulate a rescue plan. I also have a companion novella coming out next month in March, entitled Hella. Same school with a separate cast of characters in a plot involving time travel and a few friendly visitors from Book 1.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Goo of the Gods (Rising Saints High, #1)“Visions haunt him…

Memories of madness torment him…

And a voice, trapped in sixteen-year-old Jonah’s head, will reveal something not of this world…

Teen science prodigy, Jonah, doesn’t know if he’s seeing ghosts or if he’s inherited a mental illness. Either way, he wants the voice out. He wants to free the speaker from his mind and put her into flesh of her own. But he’s going to need more than his father’s old laboratory to do it. He’s going to need the help of his ingenious new friends.

CRASH! BOOM! KAPOW! There’s a new breed of superheroes at Rising Saints High and they’re not your typical teenagers. They’re nerds, but dark creatures are lurking among them—waiting to exploit the innovative young team for their collective intelligence.

In this action adventure, geeks will battle gods to piece together mysteries of science. But beware—Jonah and his friends will soon discover that science cannot always explain everything and that somethings are better left unknown.”

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Super-Powered Fights

Rocco Ryg Author Interview

Rocco Ryg Author Interview

This God, I, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. Where did the inspiration for the thrilling action come from and how did it develop as you were writing?

I’ve always been a fan of comic books, anime and the action genre, so I’ve had ideas brewing in my head on how to construct a story full of car chases, paranormal battles and science fiction. For the scenes with domestic terrorists, I read about the history of nationalist extremism in the United States, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and tried to emulate what I learned. For super-powered fights, I had to come up with creative ways the heroes and villains could use their surroundings.

Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists which sets the tone for this action packed adventure. What were some ideals you hoped would drive the narrative of the story?

Every character needs a believable motivation, and a political agenda can provide just that. Our cultural backgrounds and political views are a reflection of who we are as people, and I sought to create characters that would embody their various ideals and principles. While the extreme villains use their powers to force their ideas onto the world, the heroes have to be open-minded, consider all sides and work together to come to a reasonable conclusion. It was important for the heroes to put their values above the need to win at all costs, lest they end up just as bad as the people they’re fighting.

The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds and have a varied mix of super powers. How did you balance the characters powers to keep them interesting yet believable?

Every superpower has been thought of before, so it was important that my characters would utilize them in different ways, such as turning a roller coaster into a giant robot or controlling a crowd’s emotions to ignite a protest. It was also essential for every ability to serve a purpose, either to move the plot forward, reveal more information and create an action-packed spectacle.

This God, I is book 2 in the series. Where will book 3 take the characters?

In “The Genocide Gene,” Chikara and her friends travel to Africa to stop two demented brothers from starting a civil war and committing genocide. Along the way, they have to save hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls and take on merciless rebel groups.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter

This God, I (The Onryo Saga Book 2) by [Ryg, Rocco]“Japanese superhero Chikara Kaminari has accepted her destiny: to save mankind from powerful political extremists. Joined by her friends, the empathic Renka and the shadow-controlling Gen, Chikara journeys to America to rescue her friend Michiko from the Ayn Rand- obsessed billionaire, Chillingworth.

As they search for their adversaries, Chikara and her friends encounter a murderous cell of homegrown terrorists called RAMPAGE (Revolutionary American Militant Patriots Against Government Enslavement). This militia of neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-government extremists will stop at nothing to bring down the public sector, and only the three heroes can stop them before their war on the state claims innocent lives.

The future hangs in the balance as Chillingworth lures the world’s most powerful leaders to the United Nations. Using Michiko’s mind-controlling voice, he seeks to lead the Earth into a new era of selfishness and Anarchy. The heroes have to stop him, but the conservative Chikara and the socialist Gen have different definitions of the term “save the world.” While one wants to stop the plot, the other wants to control the politicians his own way. The three must put aside their disagreements and work together before America’s most extreme ideologues tear the world apart.”

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A Tangled Web

A Tangled Web4 Stars

Set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, A Tangled Web by ML Sparrow tells a tale of teenage angst and romance. A girl abandoned by her parents and twin brothers wrapped up in their emotions weave this tale of romance, betrayal and heartache. Hayashi Taiyo has lived with her grandmother since the death of her mother. She has grown up with twins Kita Ryuu and Kairi in the quiet little town they live in. Things start off soft and slow as we learn about their everyday lives. As with most teenagers, growing emotions and endless confusion seek to disrupt the delicate balance between the three. Two brothers who are as opposite as fire and ice and the girl caught between them. However a tsunami is coming and it will upend their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.

This novella is just the right length. The relationships between the three who are caught up in the love triangle are delicately portrayed. There is just enough backstory to understand the past of the characters and their mindsets without feeling as though something is missing. The risk a lot of novella’s run is that there is not enough explanation. Sparrow crafts the tale in such a way that the small page count doesn’t detract from the story itself.

By using the romaji forms of several Japanese words in the story the reader can feel much more like they are experiencing every day life in Japan. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book but the sentences they are used in and the way Sparrow writes makes it easy to understand what the words are meant to mean. This saves the reader from having to flip to the end of the novella while reading.

The tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 was devastating. A force of nature that could not be stopped devoured lives and homes without regard. Sparrow indicates at the beginning of the novella which books they read to better understand what happened. By listing them out it allows the reader to continue investigating the event on their own time. This novella is a work of fiction and whether or not Taiyo and her twin friends Ryuu and Kairi actually exist is unknown. What is true is that there are people who lived through the tsunami just like our three protagonists did.

A Tangled Web because is a story about three young people who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a delicate journey and the severity of the tsunami serves to illuminate the fact that life will go on. The tsunami is like the tumultuous relationship between the three. It attempts to tear them apart, to drown them, and it will change them forever. It’s a lovely read for those who are interested in a coming of age story with a touch of reality.

Pages: 89 | ASIN: B01MRU67AN

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The Jealous Flock

The Jealous Flock: A Literary Epic in Miniature, 2017 by [Borodin, Ashley]3 Stars

The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin is a realistic fiction story that centers around the slightly strained relationship of a married couple and their lives as individuals in partnership and their young adult son. The narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters featured and lets you explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas. Heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, The Jealous Flock is a story that is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and think outside of the box.

What seems to be an ordinary, white picket fence family in England takes the spotlight in a vivid narrative from each character’s point of view. Hints of tension between Doris and Martin, a married couple both caught up in their jobs, play their part on their son John who is beginning to phase into his adult life from that of a teenager. As Martin travels to Afghanistan to help stop a potential blood bath with jihadists, Doris is left at home to struggle through the differences in her personal opinions and morals as they pertain to her career in the law as a PR agent. Meanwhile, left behind in his parents own crisis, John quits his respectable job and flees overseas where he hopes to find himself and pursue his passion for photography. In Australia, he follows the steps of his father in participating in protests that aren’t always peaceful to defend Muslims battling hate and discrimination. Here he meets Randall, an unhappy widower pursuing an unusual relationship with a transgender prostitute who is stuck in her own shell of self-hatred.

The relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism as strong elements in the plot. Dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor.

Ashley Borodin makes a strong call to arms to fight against society’s expectation of us in any walk of life. In a way, the author has created a coming-of-age story not just for young adults but for those in later years as well. This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance. The graphic, bold way that the author takes depression and insecurities relatable to everyone is a refreshing breath of life and gives you the chance to realize that you are more than what a shallow skin can provide for you. Though a bit wordy and emotionally daunting, Borodin transcribes a striking narrative that has the ability to strike the hearts of those who yearn for something more than mundane life.

Pages: 66 | ASIN: B01NAPZWB8

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This God, I

This God, I (The Onryo Saga Book 2) by [Ryg, Rocco]5 Stars

This God, I, written by Rocco Ryg, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. The group of ordinary teenagers have their lives upturned when they gain superpowers from a ring adorned with a black rock from Sierra Leone that was passed down to Chikara from her mother. Together, three of the teenagers, Chikara, Gen and Ren band together and travel to America to help rescue their friend Michiko from the evil Damian Chillingworth. However, they soon discover there’s another evil at work, RAMPAGE; a vicious group of white supremacists and anti-government terrorists. The teenagers must learn to work together in harmony if they are to stop the world from being destroyed.

Rocco Ryg has an extraordinary talent of being able to engross the audience deeply with his powerful and exciting story line- right from the first page. This God, I, begins in 1993 where you meet Mika Kaminari, a successful woman who can foresee future events and then soon flashes forward to the year 2012. It’s in 2012 where you meet Mika’s daughter, Chikara and her friends, Gen and Ren. A ring, superpowers and a crazed up white supremacist group of militia combine together for a story of epic proportions.

Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists set the tone for this action packed adventure. There is a super power for everybody- from an empath who can manipulate the emotions around her to others who can sift through memories to extract the deadliest ones that they need. Personally, my favourite power was being able to heal someone- imagine what we could do with this in the real world!

The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds, such as the Chillingworth family who exude power through their billionaire, lavish lifestyle. The son Damian, sometimes violent psychopath, sometimes brilliant crusader is a complicated character that the reader will quickly form a love/hate relationship with. His rich boy demeanour and sleazy lack of compassion seem to be a cover to an inner child who wishes to be seen as a superhero.

This book has political undertones and I found some of the themes to mirror some of the political issues we are facing today. The story clearly outlines the different political parties which will help explain any terms you may not be familiar with. However, the main theme of the story revolves around the mystical powers given by the ring and the ability to use them for harm or good. This can provide a breath of fresh air when the political plot begins to thicken.

Epic battles crossed with an intense torturous drive to gather intel means the reader will be unable to tear themselves away from the book until the very last page. The reader will question the values of the character as each one faces the ultimate battle of deciding to cross a line between good and evil. It questions the integrity of the human race and raises the question- what would you do if you were given a super power? I would recommend this for anybody who enjoys action crossed with a touch of politics and mystical powers.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B008HL4XM0

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It’s Okay, I’m Watching

It's Okay, I'm Watching (Dear Grief Series Book 1)5 Stars

It’s Okay, I’m Watching, written by Chenee Gilbert, is a novel based around LaTrell Wiggins- a caring young girl who lives with her younger brother Daryl and her parents, Luis and Paulini. Tragedy strikes the family as Paulini’s life is taken by cancer. Grief-stricken, the family begins to process death in their own ways and learns that grief can appear in all shapes and forms. Meanwhile, LaTrell is beginning middle school which comes with the inevitable stage of life- puberty. During this confusing time, Luis, Daryl and LaTrell must come to terms with life without Paulini and the changing dynamics of their family environment.

It’s Okay, I’m Watching opens the door to conversation with those experiencing all forms of grief. LaTrell Wiggins, the main character, loses her mother to cancer whilst entering a vulnerable stage of her life- middle school and puberty. An easily relatable character, LaTrell’s journey shows how families can show strength in the face of terrible adversity.

It’s Okay I’m Watching discusses how our lives are enriched in traditions and questions the reader’s thoughts on what traditions they would pass on to others. It reminds the reader that time waits for no-one and unfortunately, circumstances are out of our control. Personally, it reminded me of the importance of holidays and the unique nuances that make my family my own and what traditions would be present in a memorial for my loved ones.

If you are looking for a companion after experiencing loss, look no further. It’s Okay, I’m Watching will help begin the healing processes and start the pathway to acceptance. This is done through discussion questions at the end of each chapter which helps the reader to reflect on their own circumstances.  It explores how grief is a reaction and a release of an array of emotions. Tragedy can strike anywhere at any time and you will be able to empathize with the characters and their journey.

One of my favorite characters is Shajuan Martinez, LaTrell’s friend. Sassy and confident; she tolerates very little. LaTrell discusses with her friends her grief counselling sessions and they begin to identify whether it is something they could benefit from. LaTrell’s other friend, Chandler, begins to acknowledge his own grief that he had been trying to mask. Her two friends shine a humorous side to LaTrell’s darkest days.

Teenagers experience loss and grief through death, break-ups and even loss of pets. Exposure to novels such as this will help them begin to understand the grieving process in an already confusing time of their life. It allowed me to normalize my own grieving processes and the impact these times had during my youth.

What I loved most about this novel is that it opens up the idea that grief isn’t restricted to those experiencing death and instead can be felt by those who are feeling alone, sad or missing someone. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to understand their own journey in regards to grief and loss.

Pages: 110 | ASIN: B01MXKCY8R

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My Own Personal Power

Brittany Quagan Author Interview

Brittany Quagan Author Interview

REN: Awakened follows Ren as she is learning to control a power she never knew she had while being hunted by evil. What was the inspiration for you to start writing this novel and the journey that Ren goes on?

Ren’s story is actually a spin on my own, personal life story. As a kid and young adult, I struggled with anxiety and depression, only to come into my own personal power, just as Ren does. Her story is a play on both my life and the world we live in presently where humans fight good and evil everyday; those “evils” can ultimately destroy the world as we know it. I always believed energy affects every one of us, and if it can affect us as humans, why can’t it affect the earth adversely or positively? I think as a society, many of us struggle with anxiety and depression, as well, and as someone who healed from anxiety and depression through understanding the same things Ren learns, why not help others who can relate to her heal the same way? These two ideas fused together and shaped Ren’s journey. Fun fact – the road trip Ren, Kiki, and Gage take from CT to WY is based on the road trip I took with my friend (the real-life version of Kiki), where I literally wrote the shell of REN.

Ren is a fantastic character. How did you set about creating a character with such depth?

Thank you so much! Ren is definitely a complex character. One of the reasons I love her so much is because she’s so realistic; not just as a teen, but for any person who struggles with who they are. But if you remember being a teen, you know the battle that can go down between the thoughts in your mind. Ren faces loss, feelings of displacement, never truly finding “home,” and a lifetime of being told she’s basically insane. When you’ve been told one thing your entire life, you grow to accept it. Then wham!, here’s an entirely new idea for you to accept that says you’re not crazy, but in fact extraordinarily gifted and the worlds survival rests on your shoulders. It should be a relief, to know you’ve got these abilities and aren’t crazy, but it’s quite a load to bear. Ren doesn’t just flip the switch to “oh ok, I’m a hero now!” Readers get to grow with Ren as she steps into this new reality and fights the old thoughts of being “nothing.” In all honesty, creating Ren was easy because I’ve lived through it. I’ve battled the thoughts, I’ve worked hard to recreate my life and move from the “I’m worthless” thoughts to empowering ones. Much of Ren’s experiences were very much my own.

Ren is an Implement, which are beings from a different plane of existence that have ties to Earth’s time line. How did this idea develop as you were writing and were you able to cover everything you wanted?

It’s fun to look back at all of my notes and see how the story started out and what ended up unfolding. It was like watching a movie that played in my head and I just wrote it as it played, so much of the surprise twists and turns were a surprise to me; including the Implements. The Implements started out based on the idea of “Indigo Kids,” a spiritual notion that a group of humans exist today with heightened intuition and gifts meant to change the world. As I wrote, their gifts were tweaked and I wanted them to have more defined characteristics (i.e. Implements of Conception being able to manipulate energy in different ways), rather than just “heightened gifts in a group of people.” That seemed too broad for me. I don’t think, as a writer, you ever cover everything you want to. Ideas forever come to you after your manuscript is complete, so in a way, it’s never complete. But I’m a firm believer in everything happens as it’s supposed to, so the book went out the way it needed to. Much is expanded upon in the following books, though, so readers will learn a great deal more about the Implements and the individual characters lives.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?

REN: Reposed, the second in the series, is still undergoing some final touches. I’m also working on the third in the series. REN: Reposed is set to come out in Spring 2017. I’m so excited for that to be released, it’s my favorite!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Book Cover Reveal

Check out the new book cover!

Ren Awakened

Seventeen-year-old Ren Nagel knows that the strange things she’s seen are real–even if no one else believes her. But, when she’s locked up in a psychiatric hospital; she loses hope that anyone will ever truly be on her side.

Then everything changes. With the help of a new friend, Ren breaks out. It’s when she’s on the run that she learns who she really is.

Hunted by evil, Ren must learn to control a power she never knew she had, organize a coalition of people she never knew existed, and remind humanity why fighting the darkness is a big part of being human.

Sometimes, feeling different is much more than just a feeling. For Ren, it means the fate of the world.

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Seb Cage Begins His Adventures

Seb Cage Begins His Adventures (The Dreadnought Collective Book 1)5 Stars

Book 1 of the Dreadnought Collective series begins in Spain, where Sebastian Cage and his younger brother Bart arrive to spend the summer with their grandparents. Terry and Sandra Tumbler have plenty for them to do, with sporting activities and swimming to keep the boys active and burn off their boundless energy. Despite this, the rivalry between the brothers starts to fray their grandparents’ nerves, so Terry devises a plan. He enlists thirteen-year-old Sebastian as his research assistant for a secret project. Terry has noticed a larger-than-average number of little people in his town and is convinced they are aliens.

Seb’s intelligence and tenacity are put to good use. Seb and Terry’s set out to observe and follow people under five feet tall as they move about town. The pair’s activities are noticed, and a man named Skip approaches Seb and Terry and confirms their suspicions. Skip and his organization – the Sombrella Syndicate – aren’t hostile at all. He invites Seb to join their summer campus to learn special skills and advanced technology. Terry is skeptical, but he can further his research than getting the information straight from the source, even if he has to get the data by tricking his grandson.

Seb Cage is intended for middle-grade readers and offers a fantastic, “what I did on my summer vacation” adventure story. Seb must cope with discovering and controlling abilities he never knew he had, making friends with his fellow students and focusing on his education. He must also work in tandem with his partner Maisie, and develops a crush on her.

His uncertainty and awkwardness over Maisie, coupled with constant teasing from his younger brother, makes it easy to sympathize with Seb. He faces some issues that tween and teen readers will be familiar with. He’s essentially joining a new school and is soon surrounded by a group of young people his own age who come from all over Europe. He must learn to deal with embarrassment, mistakes, and successes, as well as bond with his classmates and learn from mentors who are very different from any teacher he’s had before.

The humor in the book is delightful, with a distinctly British feel. Some of it is word-play, with funny scenes (mostly involving Seb’s grandfather, Terry) that range from misunderstandings and mishaps to literal bathroom humor. Since the students and mentors are telepathically linked, the occasional stray thought slips through to hilarious effect. This kind of comedy plays through the whole story, keeping the mood light and the story moving.

The students visit real historical sites, and the descriptions of these monuments, battlefields, and triumphs of ancient engineering are wonderful. The author provides an appendix of links to some of these fantastic places that inspired the story.

Seb Cage Begins His Adventure is well-suited to readers from 9-14. It’s full of adventure, science fiction, and fantasy and will also appeal to youth who enjoy sports and exploration. The novel features strong themes of friendship, discovery, and learning to care for others and the planet Earth as well.

Pages: 382 | ASIN: B00VVCVNYI

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