Tag Archives: Heart of Earth

The Top 10 Cheap Reads of 2016

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          Happy New Year’s everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the last day of 2016! In case you need some help getting started on your 2017 reading list, here are the top ten books I had the pleasure of reviewing this year. Since the books cover such a broad range of genres and styles, I figured it would be better to list them alphabetically by the authors’ last name. If a title catches your eye, be sure to click on it to read the full review. Let’s check them out!

1. Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

rarity           An android crashes outside a rural Appalachian town and offers to cure young Lacey Dawn’s family. In exchange, Lacy Dawn must save the universe.

          Between the zany characters, outlandish scenarios, and heart-breaking believable tragedy, “Rarity” stands out as one of the most memorable and unique books I’ve ever read. I’ve been informed that Mr. Eggleton has revised certain aspects of the book, so the version you read might be a bit different than the one I reviewed, but I promise it’s still well worth your time. Please note the content warning on the review.

 

2. Twiceborn by Marina Finlayson

51IKBSPYMHL          Kate O’Connor does her best to continue living after the death of her only son, but when she winds up in a battle for the dragon crown, her efforts to live a normal life gets put on the back burner.

          “Twiceborn” blends the action, magic, and adventure of YA fantasy and the personal struggle of more adult-centered fiction. The resulting story is an exciting journey that you won’t be quick to forget or put down. I personally enjoyed the wide array of folkloric creatures that prowl the pages. It’s rare that an author includes so many diverse beings without the book feeling crowded, by Finlayson does a great job.

 

3. Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

51xlqnu7xml         Cameron never imagined that time travel was possible, until a college professor shows him that it is, giving Cameron the opportunity to save the love of his life.

          John A. Heldt is such a treasure. I’m not usually a fan of romance, but he’s easily one of the best authors I’ve discovered this year. “Indiana Belle” really showcases his strengths, making it my favorite novel of his that I’ve read so far. He brings the past to life with pinpoint accuracy and vibrate scenery, his characters are charming and memorable, and the stories are impossible to pull away from. If you love romance and/or history, “Indiana Belle” is a must read.

 

4. This Crazy Infection by Kaylim

51dudwx5ydl-_sy346_        Interstellar playgirl Myrha is just looking to get away a while. A cooky host, weird campers, a hot android, and flesh-eating zombies weren’t part of her promised vacation package, but that’s what she got.

          I love this novella so much. When ever I’m feeling down, I always come back to it. The writing is great, the story is hilarious, and the characters are a lot of fun. It also includes a great gay protagonist, which I feel is rare when looking for cheap self-published works. So, if you’re a fan of works like “Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy,” or are looking for more LGBT+ representation I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

5. Heart of Earth by Mark Laporta

511litsn4ml          After selling top-secret information to intergalactic warlords, Ixdahan Daherek is exiled to Earth and doomed to live as a human teenager. Just as he’s getting used to humanity’s strange customs and walking on two legs, his mistakes come back to bite him.

          This is another one that I absolutely love. Between watching Daherek adjust to Earth and his efforts to save the world, this book is a lot of fun. Laporta knows how to craft a story that’s equal parts hilarity, adventure, and heart. I can’t wait to see more of Daherek in the coming years with the continuation of his series.

 

6. Let There be Linda by Rich Leder

LetThereBeLinda      Life gets hard for brothers Mike and Dan when their mother dies suddenly. A girl claiming to breathe the dead back to life seems like the answer to their problem, but dealing with the colorful cast of characters that come with her, including a comedian cop, a coked-up dentist, and a reanimated poodle, just might be too high of a price.

       Rich Leder is easily on of the best authors I discovered this year. His books are zany, hilarious, creative and human in surprisingly equal measure. “Let There be Linda” showcases that all perfectly and I can’t wait to have the time to read it again. If you like darker humor or are looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, Leder is definitely your guy, whether you decide to go with “Let There be Linda” or one of his many other works.

 

7. Moonchild by Kate L. Mary

519zBDCvYyL          All Scarlett wants to do is survive, but when her best friend is kidnapped, she has to put her own safety and that of her friends aside. When she enlists a band of airship pirates for help, including the dashing Asher Kimura, her years of solitude and single-minded survival begin to fall away.

          I don’t even know where to start with this book since there’s so much to like. The story is captivating, the world building incredible, and the characters are a lot of fun, especially Asher. I also love that it has enough action and adventure for any YA fantasy fan, but it’s mature enough to capture New Adult readers as well. It’s a unique and enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to fans of either genre.

 

8. Twice Upon a Time edited by Joshua Allen Mercier

61wy8hnhlzl          Fairy tales often have dark roots and fables can sometimes end in tragedy. These roads and many more, most which are as dark as they captivating, are explored at great length in this collection of short stories by writers both experienced and new.

          I love folklore and fairy tales. The hold so much possibility depending on who decides to reinterpret them and which angles they decide to explore. “Twice Upon a Time” does a brilliant job collecting stories that breath life into timeless tales and new ones that could one day be timeless. It’s a great read for those who love darker fantasy and/or shorter fiction.

 

9. Pilgrimage by Carl Purcell

51xzcodflgl          Roland and Griffith are probably the most unlikely companions in Australia. One is a young optimistic man claiming to be a sorcerer and the other is a washed up loner who wants to drink his days away in peace. When they start making magical enemies, however, they’ll have to worth together to survive their road trip to Salem.

        Between it’s complex characters, simple yet fun plot, and exciting blend of magic and adventure, “Pilgrimage” is definitely one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year. It blends elements of fantasy with believable real-world dilemmas to create a unique read for any adult who grew up reading magical adventures.

 

10. Mutation by Nerys Wheatley

Mutaion          Just as the world is recovering from the horrors of the zombie virus, a new strand threatens to bring humanity back to a halt. It’s up to Alex, a virus survivor, to put an end to it before it spreads beyond his city.

          You might be burnt out on zombies by now, but trust me, “Mutation” is worth shaking off the zombie-frenzy fatigue and checking out.  The writing is superb, the story is exciting, and the characters are thoroughly enjoyable. Even the ones off their rockers. Even if you’re not a fan of zombies, “Mutation” is such a fun ride even if you’re a fantasy/sci-fi fan in the least.

 

  So, there they are, folks. I hope you found a title or two to take with you into the New Year. I know I already have a few.

  Thank you everyone who found this little blog and gave it a chance. I’ve learned a lot since April and can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store, both in terms of books and this blog itself. Happy New Year!

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Heart of Earth—Mark Laporta

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Plot:4/5     Characters: 5/5     Writing: 5/5     Entertainment: 5/5     World Building: 4/5

“Heart of Earth” is a funny, charming, and down-right dorky tale that blends sci-fi and YA together seamlessly. It’s the kind of book I ate up like candy through middle and high school, before the days of brooding paranormal romances, and it reminded me how much fun YA could be.

Seventeen-year-old Ixdahan Daherek is exiled for selling top-secret information back on his Homeworld, because what’s worse punishment than going through high school on Earth? As if walking on two feet and understand human teenagers isn’t hard enough, Daherek becomes Earth’s first line of defense when the information he sold threatens the planet he now inhibits. Can Daherek adapt to Earth in time to save it with the help of his human friends, or will his crime destroy everything he’s beginning to care about? Since the characters are charming and the writing is exquisite, I highly recommend you read and find out.

Deherek is brilliantly written. He’s bizarre enough to be a convincing extra-terrestrial, but his struggle to become human makes him likeable. He starts out as an octopus-like creature whose culture and technology is millions of years more advanced than ours, so his struggle to adapt to Earth is genuine and provides great character development since he has to humble himself immensely. It’s also hilarious to watch this once proud, hyper-intelligent being trip over himself as he learns how to do everything from walk, to understand colloquialisms, to ask his friends over for lunch.

His human friend, Lena, is also a joy to read. In a world of cookie-cutter post-apocalyptic heroines and girls that “aren’t like other girls” it was nice to encounter a teenaged girl that was just a teenaged girl. On top of the craziness that Deherek brings into her life, she deals with the grief of losing her mother, her dad remarrying, figuring out where to go to college, and her growing crush on Deherek along-side her less-than-stellar self-esteem. Lena deals with her every-day problems with a very realistic sense of frustration as well as admirable strength and courage. Very often it feels like female sci-fi characters are written either as trope-inspired props or static butt-kicking machines trying to prove how “strong” they are, so Lena’s believability and genuine nature was refreshing.

I have to comment on the chemistry between these two, because it’s something so small, but makes a huge impact on the book for the better. The focus of their relationship is friendship rather than romance, which is really refreshing for a YA novel. Their bond develops at a natural pace and what little romance does develops is downplayed for the more important plot points, like saving the world for example. All of it is done in some of the best third person narration I’ve seen in quite some time.

All you writers out there, indie or not, please, please, PLEASE, take a look at this book. Even if you don’t like YA or sci-fi, the use of third-person narration in this book makes it worth it. Laporta knows exactly when to allow the narration to go cold (back up and simply tell the story) and when to make it scalding hot (get into the characters head and explore their thoughts and feelings). Not only that, but the hot narration changes depending on the character. It’s easy to tell Deherek’s thoughts apart from Lena’s and other characters. That’s something I don’t see often, but I wish I did. It was really refreshing to get into multiple character’s heads while still pivoting to different settings depending on what I, as the reader, needed to know. We need more storytellers like Laporta out there, even if his resolutions are a little too goofy.

While I love this book’s light-hearted nature and humor, I felt like those two things were too strong in the book’s resolution. The way the conflict resolved felt like it was written for an audience younger than YA. It reminded me more of “Goosbumps” or a Disney Channel Original Movie rather than something written for teenagers. It didn’t necessarily have to be gritty or dark, but it would have been nice to see something as big as saving the Earth handled with a bit more maturity.

However, given that the resolution is only one part in otherwise expertly written novel with great characters, I would still say that “The Heart of Earth” is worth a read and a few laughs.