Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn + Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth

Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: novella+novel
Series: Anki Legacies: Rob Rogers Hollow Earth Urban Myth Series

I received Advance Reader copies from my writing pal. I took the highly unusual decision to review both books simultaneously because, as far as I can tell, the one is a parallel universe telling of one part of the main story.

In brief:

Cover for Rob Rogers Fights A unicorn by S Shane ThomasRob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a fun, short romp of a very pulpy nature. To me, it seemed like an X-Files episode (one of those strange, humorous episodes, with a bit of cryptozoology) mashed up with a less likely early episode of Grimm. We have the travelling salesman, the alien overlord (maybe, maybe not), the super-secret terrifying conspiracy group, and a Scully twin (I think). While not everyone’s cup of tea, it will tickle many funny-bones.

Cover for Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth by S Shane ThomasRob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth expands the fun, and tells the whole story of Rob’s gourmet runs: the reason for them, who exactly Shen is, who Agent Fuchs is, and how Pokemon Go can totally set you up for a tumble and hike through Hollow Earth. However, I found the beginning a little confusing at first, as the story did not pick up from the end of Book 0 (Fights A Unicorn), but overlaps some aspects of that memorable night in Book 0. Still, once my parallel universe reasoning came into play, I found it a very enjoyable story.

The Whole story:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn is a great introduction to the Rob Rogers series, and a way to get to know Rob’s backstory if you’ve already read A Paleolithic Fable, as I have done. It covers the first meeting of Shen and Rob, and introduces us to Agent Fuchs and her modus operandi. It also tells an unlikely equine love story.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth endeared me to Rob. He’s such a good family man, and opinionated, but in a nice, guy-next door way. It was interesting to see Thomas’ take on how such a normal (non-superhero) guy deals with some very strange and dangerous situations. It beautifully illustrates the old saying: ‘Be careful what you wish for.’
For the most part, I enjoyed the humour, and the interaction between the characters. I also loved the callbacks to
A Paleolithic Fable with a Yuwa and his tribe.
I must also confess that while I was slow in reading the first few chapters, the further I got into it, the more and more engrossed I got. Considering I was reading chapters between long-haul flights, and then spent precious catching-up-to-writing time reading this story is a testament to my interest in seeing if the evil guys were going to get their just profiteroles, and how Rob would survive his first UFO flight.

What I loved about this story:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: I loved the whole warped X-Files episode feel to it, and I must admit, I didn’t see the equine twist coming. The modern, mundane setting is familiar and the supernatural elements fit in seamlessly. I confess to having a soft spot for Shen and his snarkiness too.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: The food and regional delicacies! I also enjoyed Thomas’ characterization, in particular Rob’s internal conflict. I also enjoyed Shen’s greater depth, and surprising ‘dudeness’. The action was well written and believable, too. Rob is often out of his depth, and there’s no sudden unbelievable spin to make up for his human limitations, which makes him very easy to relate to.

What I thought could be better:

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: At times, it can read like a guys-own story, which I thought distracted from the main action going on, but it fits in the old-timey pulpy-feel very well, I thought. I also thought the beginning was a little too long and would have preferred the action to arrive sooner.

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Again, I thought the action took too long to begin. Also, if you’ve read Fights A Unicorn first, the overlap in the first few chapters seems contrary and confusing, and it took me a while to adjust.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Rob Rogers Fights A Unicorn: Unicorns, and tartan shirts, are not to be messed with. Too much alcohol leads to wild chases through forests (okay, maybe sometimes).

Rob Rogers Finds Hollow Earth: Where to find those regional delicacies, of course! And, as a non-Pokemon player, Pokemon speak.

Rating: 4/5

I Recommend to: Old-timey Pulp Fiction magazine aficionados, DC/Marvel lovers seeking a new universe, foodies with a taste for the fantastic, X-Files and the lighter side of Grimm fans.

Posted in book review

Book Review: Monkeyboy by S Shane Thomas

Title: Monkeyboy
Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: novel
Series: LARC1 Anki Legacies

I received a free Advanced Reader Copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed.

In brief:

Monkeyboy is the first in the LARC1 series which is written for tweens and young adults. Despite not reading much YA at present, I found this adventure a fun read. With the usual adult characters relegated to the background, it was interesting to see the kids explore Nibiru and deal with the Anki technology with rather more insight than expected. As usual, Thomas’ universe and humour drew me in. Read my review on Thomas’ Distant Origins here.

The Whole story:

Han was born a regular Liberty monkey on Nibiru. Swallowing an Anki stone has turned him into a boy with some amazing powers and a keen interest in the martial arts. But there’s much he doesn’t remember about his life before becoming the adoptive son of Pringar, the Anki mayor of the LARC1 colony. When his strange origins catch up with him, it’s up to Han and his equally gifted best friends Wisp, Cray and Sita to save Nibiru and the solar system from a tyranny.

What I loved about this story:

In Monkeyboy, the kids are kids with universal attitudes and behavior, though very mature at times. Their reactions are familiar if you’ve been around earthlings of the same age. The plot themes are relevant to both young and adult readers. Thomas manages to capture the enthusiasm, energy and creativity of adolescents who are beginning to grapple with the larger implications and consequences of actions from and around them. I think most kids would love to be a part of this gang of four. I know I would have at that age!

What I thought could be better:

There are times when things get a little too heavy for me during the fight scenes and some of the themes are a little on the dark side. So, for the younger sensitive readers (and parents) you might want to discuss some scenes with them, especially those with the Rakshasa.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Yep, I’m definitely a fan of Thomas’ Anki Legacies! I got to learn a little bit more about martial arts too. And was reminded once again that some of our greatest philosophies can come out of the mouths of children.

Rating: 5/5

I Recommend to: Kids and adults tiring of the DC world and seeking something new, Kung-Fu Panda fans and Naruto fans.

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI

Book Review: Distant Origins — LARC1: Not so distant Archeology, Mythology and Colonization

Book Review: Distant Origins
Author: S Shane Thomas
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: novel

I received a review copy.

In brief:

S Shane Thomas introduces us to the main themes, technologies and characters of his LARC universe in this action-packed and, at times, too fast-paced story. Distant Origins, the first book of the LARC1 series, begins with a human colony and ends with multi-species co-existing and planning for the future. For the most part, I was once again left in awe at Thomas’ imagination, plot twists and his weaving of ancient history, deities, and historic figures into a whirlwind of action.

 

The Whole story:

xdistantoriginscover-jpg-pagespeed-ic-qxvu0qam45LARC1 is the first human colony to leave Earth in the near future, utilising technology gained from the spaceship Atlantis. Two suitable planets are discovered for colonisation: Haran, home to the Pneuma feudal civilisation, and Nibiru which is apparently free of sentient life. The colony settles on Niburu after an abortive contact attempt with the king of Haran, taking two Pneuma children with them.

On Nibiru, the colonists soon discover remains of advanced technology proving the gifted descendants of Pneuma, and that the Anki had built the Atlantis and influenced human history significantly. As the colony settles in, other species abducted by the Anki are found, and technological breakthroughs advance the colonies resources at an astonishing rate. At the same time, the relics of the Anki’s security system are activated, so threatening the existence of humans in that solar system.

Our heroes and heroines find themselved fighting not just for civilization and higher values, but for their lives and loves too.

What I loved about this story:

I was never bored with this action-packed story. The main characters’ open-mindedness and acceptance of all species and cultures (along with their teamwork) was a mental and emotional balm after going through my social media feeds. The technology (especially the LARC1 colony ship with its design and the way it was adapted to serve the colony even on landfall) really intrigued me.

Having read A Palaeolithic Fable first, it was great to get to know more about Bobby, Nabu and the origins of the shugarra. Having Pringar, a non-human narrator, also worked well for me.

What I thought could be better:

While Distant Origins is a fun read, there was much that I thought could be better. I was disappointed that some plot threads were dealt with so quickly and contained the odd inconsistency. I wanted the story to slow down at times so I could digest all the new developments and characters. I honestly wanted this book to be longer, or a series, so I could enjoy the developing plot points and characters more.

And on a technical note, I’d prefer having Pringar’s POV differentiated from others, at least visually.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

I learned that I’m seriously into the LARC universe and Thomas’ stories now. I was reminded of some mythology I’d forgotten. And that I might actually enjoy reading epic sci-fi again.

Rating: 4/5

I Recommend to: lovers of ‘80s/90’s Saturday morning sci-fi and manga, quest-addicted gamers, classic sci-fi and fantasy readers