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Price of Vengeance



The first installment of author Kurt D. Springs’ Dreamscape Warriors series opens with sundry publisher information, such as the basis of their creed upon Psalm 68:11, although the story itself doesn’t have much religious overtone. A map of the primary setting, New Olympia, the novel also provides, alongside the dedication to the memory of the writer’s high school teacher, Stanley M. Gorski. The prologue that follows focuses on a married couple, Lidia and Marcus, who have a seven-year-old son named Randolf, and come to adopt the two-and-a-half-year-old Liam when his parents Seámus and Deidre wind up dead, the initial chapter ending with the philosophical creed that democracies fall when one man forces others to do what he thinks right.

The main chapters occur a score after the prologue, where Liam is grown-up and he and other soldiers prepare for transport to outposts, which his adopted brother Randolf says are quiet. A special Festival is forthcoming, with the backstory revealed that Liam is scion of farmstead folk, and reference to William Shakespeare’s play Henry V, which is basically the sole reference to other literature within the story. Constituting a significant portion of the story is when characters “dreakwalk,” which the novel denotes with indentation of text, a feature common among the book’s telepathic characters.

The main antagonist is a man named Licinious, and Liam himself finds the companionship of a “bear-lizard” named Swift Hunter, who communicates with his human friend telepathically. Also fulfilling an antagonistic role is a creeping evil known as “chitin,” which never really reveals concrete description as far as this reviewer saw within the text, with quite a few parts that drove him to go back and reread portions, and things such as hyperlinks between Irish Gaelic terms that occur primarily towards the end and their English equivalents would have been welcome. Even so, this is a good first entry of the author’s franchise, and is recommended reading.

Exile



Author Sally Ann Melia dedicates the third and thus far most recent installment of her Guy Erma and the Son of Empire series, with an illustration opening the main text depicting the franchise’s titular protagonist Guy Erma, dark-haired and clothed. The story itself commences with the ironically-named Interlude (which would have been a fitting name in the longer version of the series’ combined three books) focusing on Ambassador Nikato Valvanchi II and his father, Ex-Ambassador Nikato Valvahnchi I, who discuss the recent reelection of Chart Segat as a result of the Dome Debate, and the implementation of “Phase 2,” which causes some controversy between the patriarch and scion.

Exile continues chapter numbering from its predecessor akin to how the Lord of the Rings trilogy continues with “book” numbering among its three entries, and in this case, Chapter 26 is the main opening chapter, where cyborg bodies litter the Dome, with Prince Teodor’s fate unknown, although Karl Valvanchi investigates, the Dome Elite failing to find him, as well, and Karl himself sending out a telepathic message for want of communication. The Prince and Guy Erma ultimately rendezvous, vowing to escape the dome together while evading the authorities, with the Sas Darona Liberation Army (SDLA) further stealing poison pills and threatening to use them as an act of terrorism.

Other illustrations within the text include the white-haired and eyed, dark-skinned and clothed Nikato Valvanchi, a few pictures depicting Guy Erma and Teodor, where it’s somewhat difficult to tell the two apart due to similar appearance and attired, the ironically-gray feline goran Blue Barbarina (the epilogue dedicated to her origins), the turquoise-haired Nell Valvanchi, and the Dome Medallion. The appendix at the end is helpful as well, and doesn’t require gross readjustment of the Kindle app’s text size to view properly, an issue in the third entry’s predecessor .mobi files. Ultimately, the thus far final Guy Erma and the Son of Empire novel is an enjoyable conclusion, with only a few shortcomings such as the lack of a helpful clarification in the appearances of the Prince and Guy Erma.

Answer for question 4418.

If you were exiled, what country would you choose as your new home?
Probably New Zealand since odds are I wouldn't need to learn another language, English being my native one, and it's ranked more politically and economically free than the U.S.

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What They See



This self-help guide promises that first impressions count in the workforce, and yearns to give advice on how to leave a positive impression in the workplace. Author Jennifer Swanson reflects upon her skills in the fields of communication and human relations, her intended target audience including students, graduates, job seekers, and anyone that seeks to fulfill professional ambitions. Fellow self-help author Sandy Chernoff lauds the book, noting its ease to follow, while Dr. Jennifer Newman notes the book is light-hearted and easy-to-follow, promising advice on things such as how to recover from mistakes.

Within the book’s introductory pages is a disclaiming indicating that readers who follow the guide agree that the author and publisher won’t be held responsible for possible negative effects the book may have in the workplace. Swanson dedicates the book to Katie and Ben for bringing joy into the author’s life, Scott for his endless support, Emma and Sarah for their enthusiasm, Bruce for his humor, her mother for being a cheerleader, and to Little Bandit, likely a pet, for keeping her feet warm while writing the book.

Before the main text as well is an acknowledgements section where Swanson notes that numerous people inspired the production of the book, such as regular readers and podcast participants for their interest in better communications relationships. She thanks gurus whom she follows regularly, the Podcast Mastermind Alumni for technical help and guidance, a women’s club for friendship and learning opportunities, Sandy Chernoff’s mentorship, various teaching and ministry colleagues, her proofreaders, and various friends and family.

In the introduction, Swanson supposes that her hypothetical readers come from various categories, such as those that graduated and are ready to enter the workforce, the writer noting herself a jenny of all trades, one of her occupations being a healthcare class professor at a community college. She assumes things such as the reader seeking quick tips they can put into place immediately, and assures her audience the definition of professionalism and how to be a professional promptly when entering a new occupation.

Chapter One focuses on what to do upon receiving employment, bringing up the expression that job seekers have only seven seconds to make a good impression, the author reducing this to a tenth of one, and that there are things beyond and within an employee’s control. She suggests new jobholders to ask questions during their probationary period of employment, and that in most occupations employees can be professional, highlighting an example of working in a sandwich shop. The writer notes eleven professional attributes such as a positive attitude, nine skills an employer wants such as organization, and things workers receive in professionalism.

Chapter Two highlights attitude, with a simple suggestion to remain positive in the workplace and various consequences of positive and negative emotions. Swanson gives a checklist for pessimists with relation to their jobs, one of the questions being whether they like their current occupation or not. She emphasizes humility as well, suggesting that workers not think that they’re better than everyone else, and gives characteristics of humbleness. Gratitude proves important as well, with little things such as thanking employers and fellow employees going a long way. Mentions of how to be gratuitous, generosity, and a willingness to learn conclude the second chapter.

Chapter Three focuses on clothing, Swanson noting that many jobseekers will ask what they’re supposed to wear and what their attire says about them. She suggests a step-by-step experiment where readers go out without doing things such as wearing makeup or aftershave, note their consequential treatment, and frequent the same places again while dressing formally and indicating the difference in their reception. The author states that jobseekers should note their working environment, the dress code of their workplaces, and their target audiences, highlighting various parts of dress codes such as hats, sometimes a necessity depending upon an occupation, and that personal hygiene is a must.

Chapter Four focuses on what Swanson terms paralanguage, which is defined as everything around words themselves, including one’s voice and speech speed. She provides another experiment where readers say a phrase with various emotions, suggesting occasional “non-stock” responses to wake the listener out of the mundane. The author provides a poem she wrote back in 2010, after which comes a discussion on spatial conversation, giving a list on how to tell if an employee is making a fellow worker feel uncomfortable. Then comes a talk about nonverbal communication, which some suggest can account for three-fourths of communication, and concludes with other topics such as social media sites, cellphones, and chewing gum.

Chapter Five provides a detailed discussion on verbal communication, with a list of advice such as using “I” language that emphasizes an employee’s thoughts about a situation without using terms such as “they.” She further advises practicing active listening, acknowledging its potential difficulty, and provides pointers on how to improve skills in this area. Then comes a discussion on closed and open questions, the former seeking quick response and the latter more detailed replies. Concluding the section is a discussion on voice and tips on how to improve one’s skills in the area.

Chapter Six discusses the importance of wise word choice, suggesting an aversion to slang since odds are some listeners might not understand the speaker. Swanson further presents a list of common clichés such as “better late than never,” and discussions things such as colloquialisms more commonly spoken than written, jargon specific to a particular field,, and filler words, providing a list of these. Concluding the chapter is an advisement for employees not to pad their speech, and to say what they wish in as few words as possible.

Chapter Seven touches upon work ethic, providing readers a list of questions to ask themselves, and follows with tips on time management. Swanson emphasizes the importance of punctuality and prioritization, and urges employees to be mindful of their break time and not abuse it, providing a list of what workers should do when they respect break time. She follows with a discussion on cliques more present in larger businesses, giving a brief list of what to watch for, and again emphasizes the need to choose words carefully given the potential for gossip to arise within the workplace.

Chapter Eight emphasizes accountability, Swanson suggesting that it can be more important than accuracy and that it’s a professional quality, and noting a mistake she made in a healthcare job. She gives a list of what to do if one messes up at work, and notes the importance of learning from mistakes, following with an analogy of the common aspects of Silly Putty, the Slinky, chocolate chip cookies, and Scotchgard. After this is advice on how to fail gracefully and learn from mistakes, and gives steps for things such as consequences of not achieving goals and what an employee will do now if he or she doesn’t get ahead as planned. Concluding the chapter are the good, bad, and ugly aspects of giving and receiving feedback.

Chapter Nine deals with stress management, opening with a checklist of indicators, which mention that stress can ultimately lead to chronic ailments. She discusses how to manage stress with things such as speaking little and listening more. Chapter Ten moves on to management and reduction of conflict in the workplace, discussing the various styles such as avoiding and competing. Swanson highlights a situation where an employee might refuse a request, and that producing various stories for the fellow employee’s response might produce conflict later. She gives various steps on how to avoid conflict while simultaneously being assertive without coming across as rude.

Swanson concludes her self-help guide with a story of a hotdog salesman, and follows with a bonus chapter involving the potential benefits of taking particular risks such as not doing the same things repeatedly; she ends with a bibliography and personal biography. Ultimately, this is an excellent resource for those seeking to be shining examples of employees, and this reviewer, as one who has had both positive and negative experience in the workplace, would have definitely appreciated its advice were he still in the market for a job, and highly recommends this helpful, detailed guide.

Nature's Confession



This J.L. Morin novel promises an epic yarn about a pair of teenagers that struggle to save their world from global warming, opening with praise from critics that appreciated its environmental themes, the book dubbed climate fiction, or “cli-fi.” Morin, unsurprisingly, dedicates the novel to “unconquerable” Mother Nature, and gives statistics about how governments hand out nearly two trillion dollars towards polluting industries. The author further gives thanks to a scientist, Dr. Thomas Mowbray, for his research into antipatterns, although they seem to play a minimal role at best within the story.

Morin names but doesn’t number the chapters in Nature’s Confession, with each beginning with an illustration somewhat related to the title and a quote either fictional or nonfictional, the quotation aspect present in other science fiction stories such as the Dune series. Among the mentioned fictional quotes are those from the Legend of MakSym, a boy born in year two “After Corporatism.” The protagonist’s name is Boy, who dreams of saving a girl from a giant spider and is likened to the fictitious hero Tyree, whom the Emperor of Earth and Sea seeks, with Tyree being a “hacker hero,” and the reasoning behind Boy’s identity being that parents in the dystopian future don’t feel safe naming their scion.

The author occasionally injects her ideology into the novel, noting that deaths from handguns vastly outnumber those from terrorism, with the Emperor, for instance, suggesting allowing private citizens to keep firearms as a form of population control. An incident eventually drives Boy and his parents from their home on the lam into space, with occasional twists towards the end and first-person chapters narrated by an animal. Overall, this is an enjoyable science fiction novel that’s not overly-preachy about its themes, although there are some headscratchers, and this reviewer found himself unable to answer the discussion questions following the main text without going back and really giving the book another once-over.

Drawn



Author Chris Ledbetter dedicates this book to his “little Smunchkin,” who, like protagonist and narrator Cameron, is an aspiring artist. He further acknowledges his family for supporting him in rounds of writing that took him up past midnight, not to mention critique partners including Heather Petty, beta readers such as Kim Harnes, publisher Evernight Teen, and cover designer Jay Aheer. The main text itself opens with quotes from Leonardo da Vinci and Fernando Pessoa, with the chapters, akin to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld franchise, not being marked or numbered, although fortunately, there are natural breaks within the text proper ensuring that readers won’t have to go through long periods without breaks.

Cameron’s mentions in the beginning that his mother is dead and can’t admire his art, the narrator acknowledging time on Earth is limited, alongside his eighty-year-old Italian friend Marco Cassisi, who owns an art supply store named Bellissima. The protagonist is in some ways a jack of all trades, being an avid gamer with people across the country and writer for his school’s newspaper in addition to his aspirations to become a professional artist one day. The setting is ultimately revealed to be the Carolinas, specifically, while never explicitly stated within the text as far as this reviewer could see, North Carolina, the narrator himself being sixteen and still in high school according to the book’s blurbs.

The main character ultimately experiences a reversal that leads him to bequeath a sketchbook that apparently has some kind of magical power, as images he draws within it magically disappear and/or change, and he eventually discovers a world within the book known as Terra Sempre. He develops a love interest as well in Farrah Spangling, whose life becomes at stake, the key to her survival being in the book’s world. The novel somewhat seems to derive from movies such as Inception and the A-ha music video of “Take on Me,” although it’s still an enjoyable romp, with occasional popular culture references and a satisfying conclusion.

Answer for question 4400.

Have you ever had a recurring dream? If so, what happened in it? Do you still have that dream now, or were you able to finally shake it?
I largely dream that I'm back in high school despite being out of college for years, which typically occurs naturally in my slumber.

Outlaw Trigger



Author Lee Stephen dedicates the first Epic sequel “to humanity” in contrast to the first book he dedicated to God, although ironically, the novel features more religious overtones, even if not overly prominent, than its predecessor. Unlike its predecessor, the second installment almost entirely takes place in Russia, specifically Novosibirsk, which is said to have been built over Fort Zhukov, an acropolis dating back far in the Old Era, with the Gregorian equivalents of years still not given like in the first book. In contrast to the prior entry, there’s only one map that depicts Noboat, alongside two tables listing members and ranks of the Fourteenth of Novosibirsk and EDEN High Command.

Akin to the first entry, though, chapters begin at zero, with antagonists known as the Nightmen playing a subtle role throughout the sequel. There isn’t a whole lot of action in the second Epic novel, alongside occasional confusion about the identity of a character nicknamed the Golden Lion. Scott Remington is still engaged to Nicole, with this relationship also playing a significant role in his religious views. Present is a scourge known as the Silent Fever, supposedly the work of the Nightmen. One of the few mentions of action outside Russia is the desire by Australia of an EDEN base, predicted to be complete during the year following the sequel’s events.

As in its predecessor, there’s plenty of political and military banter, and in spite of the confusion in the text at times, the first sequel of the franchise is an enjoyable one, the author giving his due to God, his spouse, his family, and his friends in the acknowledgements section. There’s also a blurb about the author himself, a native of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville, and a worker in the fields other than writing of education, entertainment, and emergency preparedness. His Christian testimony is linked in the bio as well, with his views having played some role in the story and accounting for a satisfying sequel.

Dawn of Destiny



Author Lee Stephen dedicates this first entry of a science fiction series to God, although there aren’t many religious overtones that certainly won’t drive away those sensitive about theological issues. Unique in this novel is that the writer refers to the prologue as “Chapter Zero,” which opens in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, where Colonel Brent Lilan, commander of the Falcon Platoon, is dispatched to repel an attack by aliens known as the Bakma. Lilan is supposedly quintessential in his occupation and works for the Earth Defense Network (EDEN). The time is undoubtedly the future, with the year being the eleventh of the New Era (NE), although how many years anno domini is never explicitly stated in the text, the years before referred to as the Old Era, with little reference to events before then.

The first official part and section of the novel begin in Richmond, Virginia, where Scott Remington is stationed, missing his fiancée Nicole and being a man of faith (though his religion plays minimal role in the story). The text ultimately reveals that three enemy alien species appeared almost simultaneously to attack Earth: the grotesque Bakma, the reptilian Ceratopians, and the gray Ithini, who began the conflict present in the story known as the Alien War, these races having their own beasts of burden. Much of the novel involves martial banter among various commanding officers and soldiers, with an imminent World Peace Celebration (WPC), marking mankind’s transition from the Old to New Era, though the aliens aren’t interested in peaceful resolution.

Occasionally the book features maps of cities and facilities where its various battles occur, always a welcome addition, although this reader couldn’t quite put the names of various soldiers to faces and occasionally missed critical portions that resulted in occasional confusion. After the main text is a preview of the Epic franchise’s first sequel, Outlaw Trigger, which introduces the characters Alexander Nijinsky and Yuri Dostoevsky in more military banter. Despite its flaws, this is an enjoyable science fiction novel enthusiasts of the genre will likely enjoy, and this reviewer very much looks forward to reading its successor.

Answer for question 4384.

Which United States political party do you think is most responsible for the government shutdowns or near-shutdowns that have occurred over the past few years, and why?
Both I think are equally responsible, particularly if opposing parties control Congress and the presidency. I think if neither side can agree on a budget, it should remain exactly the same as the previous fiscal year.

Upper West Side Story



This novel promises a yarn about two former student radicals, Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband Stephen, an environmental policymaker in the New York City Mayor’s office, as they deal with various racial and political issues compounded by the fall of a black student down a flight of stairs. In the brief preface, Bettina, the primary narrator for the story, warns not to take the gift of children for granted, and discovers a diary kept by her son Max when he was thirteen, the novel’s action beginning on October 7 at 8:45 pm. In the first main chapter, Bettina mentions that she is a morning person, her son Max is in eighth grade and about to take a class trip to Washington, D.C., and that she’s daughter to Holocaust survivors.

The main inciting incident of the novel is the plight by a black student named Cyrus Nightingale down a flight of stairs and consequential coma, believed by the police to be the result of students horsing around. The third chapter is the first time Max narrates the story himself, likely through his diary, when on Monday October 11, 10:20 pm, he’s freaked out by his friend Cyrus, whom he states was named by Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great. The coma victim is taken to the derelict Harlem-Manhattan hospital, and Max ultimately receives blame for his friend’s coma as he was nearby when it occurred. At first, life seems to continue normally for Max and his family, who are nonreligious in spite of Jewish roots.

However, thanks to the pressure of an activist named Marcus Hake, Max is eventually sent to a juvenile detention center faced with the charges of causing his friend’s coma, the issue of Max being white and Cyrus being black playing a significant role in the incarceration. Family and friends suspect a conspiracy, with the woven tale for the most part being enjoyable, a nice break from other racial injustice stories where members of minorities are typically the discrimination victims, this issue very much challenging the leftist leanings of the Grosjeans and their friends from college and beyond. There are some minor parts that this reviewer missed and which drove him to go back and reread sessions, although he would highly recommend this tale.

Hunter



The author of this novel split from the longer Guy Erma and the Son of Empire was born in England, but spent time in school in France and Monaco, ultimately turning an old manuscript into the full-length novel, and ultimately made the decision like the Aoléon series to split it into multiple volumes, with the chapter numbering continuing from its predecessor akin to Brent LeVasseur’s series. The author herself dedicates the novella to her parents, David, and “the girls.” Since the action of the second entry continues from its predecessor, reading the first book is highly recommended, and things can be somewhat confusing to those that haven’t read the first entry recently.

The novella’s action takes place in a single day, which is the second of the trilogy, beginning in the morning, moving to midday, and ending in the evening. The story begins with Karl Valvanchi having a dream of flying, near the crashed shuttle Mezzatorra, with the Dome Elite of Freyne attacking the ship. Prince Teodor is at the time in captivity, during which the races known as the Magnolia Stakes occur, with Guy Erma setting up a stall near the racecourse. An election known as the Dome Debate occurs, too, with incumbent Chart Segat squaring off against Regent Sayginn in a discussion of who will control the Dome, the former promising the Prince’s freedom. Towards the end the Prince faces off in a series of Blades matches with Guy Erma, with some occasional plot twists as well.

A few illustrations are also present, the first of which depicts a Dome Medallion from various perspectives, the second of which appears to be a charcoal drawing of Guy Erma, the third of which depicts a feline goran, the fourth of which clearly depicts Chart Segat, and the final of which shows a clearer portrait of Guy Erma, an untinted version of the cover art essentially, with these images definitely giving readers a look as to what characters and things in the novella’s universe look like. The appendix at the end is very much helpful to those unfamiliar with the franchise’s mythos, and in the end, this reviewer would very much recommend the second novel to those who enjoyed the first, whose reading is definitely recommended before readers dive into its sequel.


INTRODUCTION

The fifth and final Aoléon novel involves the franchise’s titular female alien and her friends, among them the Nebraskan Gilbert, traveling to Cydonia to rescue Aoléon’s parents, uncovering what has been behind recent occurrences on Mars and attempting to stop an invasion of Earth. The cover depicts Aoléon and her companions, including Gilbert in a spacesuit, walking towards the viewer through a silvery hall. Like its predecessors, the author makes the rare literary decision to continue chapter numbering from prior installments, with the fifth book’s initial chapter, for instance, the twentieth in the whole novella series.

THE GREAT PYRAMID OF CYDONIA

The concluding entry opens with Aoléon and company wandering the Martian surface, when they encounter a giant pyramid honoring the Orion constellation, a nice illustration showing a sunrise or sunset with a view of the structure, after which the party ventures underground in order to enter the grand building. Several more illustrations depict the battle with their enemies from different perspectives, with two breaks from the fighting to explain what the American President and his entourage are up to on Earth, mainly their dealing with enemy Martians trying to steal the planet’s cows while attacking its dairy facilities, Aoléon and her friends ultimately going back there.

SPHAIRA

The penultimate chapter of the franchise features an opening scene with the Martian Luminon wanting to speak with Earth’s leaders in want of their milk cows, with Gilbert and his Martian comrades invading the mothership, more battles breaking out, with a few more illustrations from sundry perspectives, which ultimately culminate in a final confrontation with the Luminon in his various incarnations that art depicts.

TERRA FIRMA

Gilbert ultimately returns to his homeworld and parts from Aoléon and her Martian friends, with a final illustration depicting a humorous event that rounds out the literary pantheon nicely.

CONCLUSION

In the end, the fifth Aoléon novel is a solid conclusion to the five-part series, with the illustrations really impacting the story positively and depicting well its various occurrences that most readers will be able do understand even if they read quickly while glimpsing at the art. Some reminders in illustration captions on which characters were which would have been welcome, which is pretty much the sole strike against the book and by extent its predecessors if a reader breaks between reading them. A glossary after the main text clarifies some of the various jargon present in the novella, book five alongside its predecessors being highly-recommended reading for older and younger audiences alike interested in a solid science fiction franchise.

Bianca's Vineyard



This novel promises a yarn about Bianca Corrotti inheriting a vineyard in Tuscany, Italy, which holds many secrets about her Uncle Egisto and his wife, the primary setting being Mussolini’s Italy during the first half of the twentieth century. Author Teresa Neumann dedicates it to her mother-in-law Babe, “a true Bertozzi,” and opens with a biblical quote involving Job’s daughters. The family tree that also introduces the story is, however, somewhat confusing, the plot itself commencing in 2001 with 88-year-old Bianca, a widow whose husband Danilo died years ago, and her Uncle Egisto did so as well in 1974.

Part I of the novel introduces Egisto in Ripa, Toscano, Italia in 1913, who makes sculptures for the deceased, the anarchist political ideology being prevalent at the time on the eve of the First World War, with Egisto loving a woman named Marietta, although Egisto himself isn’t particularly religious and yearns for a marriage outside the Catholic Church, their relationship consequentially seen as forbidden. Egisto does eventually marry another woman named Armida, with whom he had spent a drunken evening, although he forgets not his prior relationship with his initial love. Part II sees Egisto and Armida immigrating to America, settling in St. Paul, Minnesota, the action in the second section occurring from 1923 to 1930.

Armida eventually discovers letters written by her husband involving Marietta, for whom he still has feelings, and proves one of the many things that drives her to insanity and confinement into a mental institution for a few months. Part III involves Armida’s eventual return to Italy, at which time Benito Mussolini is taking power. Part IV occurs during the Second World War, Part V in its last two years, and Part VI in 1946. The author notes the novel was based on a true story with fictional elements, and was the product of years of research, which definitely helped this engaging story, with only a few parts that caused this reviewer to go back and reread to understand things, and some clarification on the family tree would have been welcome.

Kidnap



This science fiction novel is the first in a trilogy consisting of three parts of the longer story Guy Erma and the Son of Empire, akin to what author Brent LeVasseur did with his five-part Aoléon the Martian Girl series of five entries. In the first part, teenagers Teodor, a prince, and Guy Erma, and orphan, come from different walks of life, although their paths ultimately cross. The prologue introduces Captain Karl Valvanchi, a thirty-one-year-old warrior tasked with defense above Sas Darona, lying on a disputed border between the Zaracan Democratic Union and the expanding Freyne Empire, with the latter finding a rare metal, although cybernetic insects, or cy-sects, prove lethal to their attempted excavation of the mineral.

New to this first part of the trilogy are various illustrations that depict various characters and beings, the first showing Teodor riding a feline creature known as a goran, the second showing him saluting, the third showing the green-hair-striped but mostly white-haired Nell Valvanchi, the next depicting the dark-haired Guy Erma, the following one depicting the white-haired Karl Valvanchi, the one afterward showing a Battle Borg, and the last showing a map of the Dome that plays part in most of the book. These images are a welcome addition to the latest iteration of the first part of the divided series and help readers get a clear view of what a few of the characters and beings look like.

The main story itself opens with Prince Teodor having a nightmare of his father’s murder, with his granduncle Frederon being Emperor, and a goran race being imminent as part of the Magnolia Weekend in the Dome, which will hold an election called the Dome Debate to decide whether Chart Segat will remain the dome’s administrator. Teodor ultimately finds himself a captive, with his mother, Regent Sayginn, vowing to rescue him. Although this author has read the full three-part Guy Erma and the Son of Empire, he found this first part with the illustrations to be a welcome version, and would very much recommend it.


INTRODUCTION

In the fourth entry of Brent LeVasseur's science fiction saga, Aoléon, Gilbert, and their companions flee the Martian Megalopolis, with the Luminon and Royal Paladin Guard in pursuit as they hope to stop the Martian resistance movement. The cover art features many cows on the ground and in the air, the latter in a flying saucer's trajectory, with the foremost bovine having its mouth open in shock, though it's lower jaw looks somewhat skeletal, loose, and misrepresentative of anima interiors, typically red.

HELIOS

Akin to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the saga's fourth entry continues section numbering from its predecessors, with this being the thirteenth chapter of the series, beginning at a secret Martian base, where Phobos is in captivity and interacts with another inmate. The action moves to the Martian Space Academy, where Aoléon and Gilbert rendezvous with Bizwat, and the Luminon speaks about the potential threat posed by Earth's inhabitants. The scene changes to the Lower Feeb District, where Bizwat visits a scrap yard, where he offers a fellow Martian his velocipod in exchange for a soldierbot victorious in a competition.

CERBERUS

The following chapter opens with an illustration depicting the Luminon interacting with a Martian in a four-legged robot, others in the background with forcefields, another entity that appears skeletal hovering above. The action returns to the secret Martian base, where obese scientist Cerberus assembles a Martian invasion fleet consistent of soldierbots. The chapter's second illustration depicts another view of the first artwork, with the Luminon among the shielded robots. The art immediately appearing afterward shoes a close-up of the scene, albeit with a Martian youngling instead. The Luminon arrives to inspect the forces, with Cerberus promising that they will be read in time for the forthcoming invasion. The next image shows the Luminon close-up with a menacing expression, the forces behind him, and Cerberus proceeds to test the drones, the subsequent art showing the diminutive workers caught among the chaos.

ILLEGAL ALIENS

This chapter takes the story back to Nebraska on Earth, which Luminon's spies are inspecting as a potential focal point for their forthcoming assault. Meanwhile, a pair of alien spies masquerading as Quakers hitchhike to New York City and attempt to steal milk from a convenience store. The illustration indicating the transition of scenery to the White House depicts many top officials in the situation room, one looking like a bald Richard Nixon having a newspaper in hand. Backstory on alien research follows, with some humorous banter among the officials.

WATCHERS

The following chapter takes readers back to Mars at the Luminon's palace, where he receives news of a character thought deceased being alive. The action moves to the Lower Feeb District, where Bizwat receives summons to a debriefing involving missing characters. The section ultimately returns to Earth at the Capitol building, where Congress debates a bill to deal with illegal extraterrestrials, the lisping Speaker of the House heading the discussion.

INVASION EARTH

Chapter Seventeen opens with the very artwork that graces the book's cover, the action beginning in an alien mothership above Earth, their invasion ready to commence. The section moves to Gilbert's family's farmhouse, as they become among the first witnesses to the assault. The. The action shifts to the Johnson clan's home, an illustration depicting Farmer Johnson, clad in snorkeling gear, attempting to deal with a groundhog with an alien robot behind. The following art depicts him captured by the robot as he unintentionally sprays a farmfield with fire from his flamethrower.

DESERT KÝRIOS

This chapter opens at an intergalactic spaceport in the Martian Megalopolis, where the protagonists encounter resistance, and they flee the city, the section's first art showing Aoléon and Gilbert in space suits floating above the Martian landscape. The next piece shoes the two in a Martian desert, where they domesticate Martian dinosaurs, one of which Aoléon rides in the next art, the piece afterward showing Gilbert alongside her riding his own. The following illustration shows another view of them riding, night eventually coming. The action then takes readers to the Simud Vallis on Mars, through which the heroes continue and ultimately make their way to the Ares Vallis, the subsection's initial illustration showing them wandering.

The next art depicts the chief characters encountering a probe sent from Earth, which Gilbert uses to communicate a message referencing the classic video game Zero Wing. Towards the section's end is a smaller piece depicting the purple stalk-eyed Zoot. The events shift to the ancient Lyraen city ruins, the opening illustration showing a Martian chasm, the next depicting the heroes at its bottom, where they seek Kýrios. After a long dialogue comes a subsequent piece showing a spherical map indicating the path the main characters took until that point in the story. The action ultimately moves to Kýrios' home, where the characters discuss where to find the secret based referenced earlier, and where they home their psionic abilities, the chapter finally ending.

PHOBOS INTERROGATED

The nineteenth chapter opens at the secret Martian base, with a bit of expository backstory concerning the rituals of the Draconian warrior clans, following which is the titular interrogation of Aoléon's father as to his daughter and Gilbert's whereabouts. The action then returns to Aoléon and her companions, who experience a Martian sandstorm, the chapter's first illustration showing their attempts to outrun it. Following this is interesting backstory on how the Martian oceans disappeared, and an encounter with the Luminon's forces, two illustrations close together depicting how the heroes deal with the skirmish, concluding with a third piece showing a dusty mushroom cloud, the story ultimately ending.

CONCLUSION

A glossary after the main text makes sense of the book's diverse terminology that may be lost to younger readers, who wouldn't find it to be easy to jump back and fourth between the dictionary and the main text, although the fourth novella in Aoléon's saga is very enjoyable, with the illustrations adding well to the story in their depiction of its various events. The rare if mildly obscure popular culture reference is also sure to appeal to older readers, who will find just as much to celebrate in this entry as the younger audiences for whom the author intended the story.

Guy Erma and the Son of Empire



In this science fiction novel, Guy Erma yearns to join the planetary protection force known as the Dome Elite, while the Prince of Freyne, Teodor, finds himself the hostage of militant borgs, needing to plead his case to a politician if he wants to survive, the two protagonists’ paths ultimately crossing. The prologue introduces the thirty-one-year-old albino shapeshifting Zaracan warrior, Captain Karl Valvanchi, whose vessel, the Mezzatorra, protected by a literal firewall, faces an attack by the Sas Darona Liberation Army (SDLA), the planet of Sas Darona being a disputed planet by two entities, the Zaracan Democratic Union and the Freyne Empire, and which yields a resource known as monazite, critical in the creation of space magnets. Cyberkinetic insects, or cy-sects, threaten the native tribes of the planet with a plague that is said to keep them primitive.

The main story begins with Prince Teodor “Teo” of Freyne feeling threatened, with is father the King recently deceased. Teo meets with one of Captain Valvanchi’s relatives, Princess Simonelle Valvanchi, the great-granddaughter of a famous intergalactic explorer, proving to be a prospective mate to the Prince, who is the last living heir to the throne of the planet Freyne 2 and the Empire of Freyne as a whole, with his uncle being the current Emperor. An event known as the Magnolia Weekend is forthcoming, with one of its features being the Magnolia Stakes, a race among the feline creatures known as gorans, with Teo and his uncle having their own separate members of the species competing in the race.

Guy Erma receives his introduction next, seeing good luck in a special medallion, and participates in a sport known as blades under the tutelage of senior blades instructor and Commander of the Dome Elite Tilson. Guy has recently applied to become a member of the Dome Elite, and doesn’t know what became of his parents. Guy is scheduled to fight Prince Teo, although Teo has an injury supposedly preventing him from participating. Guy lives on Old Mill Lane in the House Jewel townhouse among forty-three others he considers siblings, even if they aren’t blood relations, with these folk primarily participating in the trade of tailoring clothes. Guy is ultimately offered to a fast track towards in the Dome Elite by a politician, Chart Segat.

Evidently Teo’s living mother, the Regent Sayginn cancelled his scheduled blades fight with Guy so that the Prince could participate in singing in a cathedral choir, with an attack on the church kidnapping him. The novel has two interludes, one occurring early and the other occurring towards the book’s end, known as diplomatic exchanges among, members of the Valvanchi family relating to the plague on Sas Darona. A Dome Debate, basically an election, is forthcoming, with the Emperor mulling marriage to Sayginn in hopes of having a son so that his nephew Teodor doesn’t inherit the throne, the Prince hoping he can escape his captivity.

The events of the novel take place over the course of three days, with the author doing for the most part a masterful job with the parallel plots of Guy Erma and Prince Teodor, the writer further doing an excellent job of world-building, given the many terms native to the book, which a glossary after the main text clarifies, with this reader only needing to see a definition of the acronym SDLA, not defined in the main text. There are some minor areas where the story could have been better, for instance the title of a royal heir “Son of Empire” would have sounded better as “Son of the Empire,” but otherwise, this science fiction novel is highly recommended, with this reader consequentially interested in the author’s other works and possible sequels.

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Visiting the Sins



This debut novel by Melanie Denman analyzes sacrificial motherhood, promising to be darkly humorous and focusing on generational feuds. The book begins with one of the novel’s many narrators, Curtis Jean Caskey, explaining the nature of sin in the prologue, with Curtis Jean in fact being the most prominent narrator of the story, her first main chapter involving a visit to the grave of a character nicknamed “Pokey” on Mother’s Day, with a few of her sections narrating the events leading to the character’s ultimate demise, while also mentioning her love of Vacation Bible School and describing a few family members such as her Uncle Hotshot, her politician father, and her second cousin Alice Ann.

Another narrator is Patricia, who owns a beauty parlor named Pat’s Palace and describes the town of Calcote, Texas as deeply religious to the point where a sign outside the city mentions its nature. The late Pokey gets two chapters of her own, with her parts being liberal in use of the N-word and describing her family members. Alice Ann gets her first and only chapter around the book’s two-fifth mark, mentioning her mother’s retribution for falling in love with a miscreant and suggesting her County is in the dark ages in terms of civil rights. Almost halfway through the book is another one-chapter-wonder narrator, Irene.

The final narrator introduced is Rebanelle, who gets her first chapter around two-thirds into the novel, with the late portion of the book describing a note found in Pokey’s cedar chest that describes a violent family feud through newspaper articles and the geography of Thorny Bog. The author follows the main text with a note that all the characters are fictional but suggests that Pokey was based on one of her grandmothers, gives acknowledgements to those that helped her during the writing process, and even provides some book club discussion questions, following which is the author’s bio. Ultimately, this debut novel is enjoyable and humorous, even if darkly so, though the racism of a few characters might alienate certain audiences.

Donkey's Kite



In the second entry of author and illustrator Liana-Melissa Allen’s Horse Valley Adventure series, Donkey’s Kite, the horses brothers Jack, Max, and Lax, along with their friend Donkey, decide to make kites, although Donkey struggles in getting his to function properly, ultimately receiving help from a goose named Gusty. The first sequel uses an illustrative style similar to its predecessor, The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey, evidenced by its cover art, which depicts Donkey flying his kite as the equine siblings look on, the goose appearing to aid him by flapping her wings to create an artificial wind gust, the unidentified bluebird from the first book looking on too.

The first illustration in the book, appearing after the copyright information, depicts Max, the light brown and blue-vested horse, reading a book out loud while his brothers and Donkey look on, their television in a wastebasket. The story itself commences on a cool day in March in Horse Valley, setting of the first book, when equines from the area plan to attend Meadow Park with homemade kites. The initial illustration within the narrative text shows Max, without his hat, looking out of his home through the top half of its entrance door, the abode itself near the woods, with small rabbits and birds in the image as well.

The horses and Donkey proceed to assemble their kites, the next image showing them doing so, with Jack painting his, Lax eying his light blue kite, Max cutting string, and their asinine friend seeming to have trouble with his kite’s wooden crossbar. Whereas the horses gloat about their kites, Donkey laments his creation, their feelings evidenced by the subsequent artwork as they hold their kites. Then they head to Horse Meadow Park, the following piece showing them en route, Donkey’s nose tickled by the tail of Lax’s kite, Max looking hungry while holding their food-filled basket, and Jack looking confident with his pretty kite.

The following illustration shows the horse brothers and Donkey, while Max seeks to satisfy his hunger, testing their kites, with Jack and Lax succeeding but Donkey’s crumpled yellow kite struggling, failing to get it to fly despite his strongest attempts. The next image shows Donkey’s continued lack of success while a rabbit runs away and the unidentified bluebird looks on from the air. As depicted in the following piece, Donkey tries to get his kite to fly from the height of a tree, again failing while the rabbit looks out from behind the tree and the bluebird looks on from the ground.

Kicking the kite fails to get it to fly, as well, the subsequent illustration showing Donkey in the middle of his kick while the rabbit looks on from behind a nearby rock and the bluebird refusing to see his continued failure. He therefore seeks help from the horse siblings, but they’re too busy to assist him, indicated by the following artwork that shows Jack and Lax standing with their kites in hand, the former touching up his with paint and the latter bragging about his to another unnamed equine and a pink-ribboned mare, Max continuing to stuff himself while not at the moment flying his own kite.

The next illustration shows Donkey sadly walking away from his equine friends while the bluebird follows, and ultimately encounters a charging goose in the next picture that seems irate to encounter him, a sign in the background indicating no trespassing and that the area is for geese only, the rabbit looking on from behind a nearby bush and the bluebird hovering above Donkey. The goose mocks Donkey, making him reflect upon his tenure as a bully in the previous book, the next picture showing the goose holding sticks upon his head in mock imitation of asinine ears, while other geese in the lake laugh as well, Donkey looking sad and the nameless bluebird seeming angry.

Another goose interrupts her brethren’s mockery, indicated by the next illustration depicting her surfing above the lake water with the others fleeing the scene, the story introducing the new arrival as Gusty, who admonishes her fellow geese for mocking Donkey, a charge they deny. The following image depicts Donkey alongside the first unnamed monochrome goose, with Gusty politely conversing from the lake’s edge. Donkey explains his situation, with Gusty mentioning that she’s naturally adept at flying, the subsequent picture showing a still-sad Donkey conversing with Gusty while the unidentified monochrome goose angrily evacuates the scene.

The goose notes that Donkey’s kite can fly with the right changes, an illustration showing Gusty examining it while Donkey and the bluebird look on, after which they proceed to reconstruct the kite, the process somewhat depicted in the next image where Gusty adjusts the wooden crossbar, Donkey holds a newspaper under his arm, and the bluebird reads another copy. Donkey rightly suggests that strong wind is necessary for his kite to fly, he and Gusty, who holds the rectified kite, seeming confident in its redesign, a sentiment the unidentified bluebird seems to share given its own happy appearance.

Thus, as initially depicted by the cover art, Gusty flaps her wings to get Donkey’s kite to keep in the air, a plan that succeeds, the following piece showing the jubilant goose watching as her asinine friend gets his kite to fly for a change. However, a natural gust of wind comes, noted by the next art with Gusty, Donkey, and the bluebird looking fearful, Donkey losing control of his kite, its string having broken in the subsequent illustration, he and the bluebird pursuing it. Donkey does retrieve his kite, although he continues to lose control of it, crashing into Max in the next piece, which depicts Donkey crashing into his equine friend and losing his grip on the string while the horse spits a partly-eaten apple from his mouth.

Consequentially, the crash breaks Max’s own kite, noted by the next piece where he’s piled atop Donkey, with Gusty arriving to analyze the scene, other horses arriving in the following art in which Max laments the ruination of his kite. The horses eventually acknowledge their ignorance of Donkey’s initial kite-flying plight, and Max accepts his apology, the subsequent illustration showing most of the main characters, named and unnamed appearing sad. They ultimately come up with the idea of creating a joint kite, the next piece depicting the horse siblings, Donkey, and Gusty constructing it, the nameless bluebird again reading the local newspaper.

The story concludes with the new kite’s success, the final illustration in the main text depicting its paper surface to have the detail of Gusty, the horse brothers, and Donkey, with other horses flying their own kites while acknowledging the new one, Donkey having received the honor of testing it, the story ending satisfactorily on this high note. In the end, the first Horse Valley sequel is a good one sure to garner adoration from younger audiences, although the cover art somewhat reveals the plot detail of Donkey ultimately getting his kite to fly successfully despite the plot introduction mentioning his failure in doing so.


In the first entry of Liana-Melissa Allen’s Horse Valley Adventures children’s book series, three equine protagonists lose their home to a fire and must depend upon themselves while wandering a forest and defending against an antagonistic donkey that wanders around wrecking other animals’ homes, the story based on “The Three Little Pigs.” The cover art depicts the three eponymous horses wandering along a path with their supply-laden wagons while the titular donkey bully secretly gazes at them from behind a bush on one side of the illustration, with the visual style being general cartoony and liberal with typical animal anatomy.

The story itself opens with the three chief horses, named Lax, Max, and Jack, who inhabit the “magical” land of Horse Valley, living in a home near a dark forest, which they and other animals avoid due to its inhabitance by an asinine bully. The equine trio is returning home from the market when they smell smoke from a fire that engulfs their residence, likely caused from lightning from a storm that occurred in the morning. The first illustration within the book depicts the horses looking upon the flames fearfully, accompanied by a nameless bluebird also seeming fearful due to the fire.

The equines attempt to salvage items from their incinerating home, although they err in doing so, the following illustration depicting them and the aforementioned avian evading the flames, although they manage to save some of their possessions as the fire worsens, the next piece of art showing them inside their burning house, where Lax looks the most fearful of his equivalently-stressed companions. Fortunately, they get out of their former home before its complete disintegration, with Lax sustaining some scrapes from crashing through one of its walls, the next artwork depicting the three horses in the middle of a rainstorm, Jack and Lax sprawled out on the grass while Max looks on, the bluebird, seeming somewhat sore, appearing as well.

Max then suggests that he and his equine brethren move into the woods and erect separate abodes, although Jack recalls the antagonistic donkey and insists they remain together, the subsequent illustration depicting the horses in an argument while their house burns in the background, the bird continuing to appear. The storm appears to be over in the next artwork, the horses bedraggled and having agreed to separate. Lax is first to construct his new residence, although he yearns to watch television instead; he believes he can build a home out of nearby bushes, not wishing to do much work.

The next piece of art depicts Lax’s resultant residence, appearing a little like a green human head with two window “eyes,” the bully donkey peeking out from the woods near an unnamed rabbit, the unidentified bluebird and another red-and-yellow avian appearing as well. Then, as he wishes, he watches TV in his new home, with a humorous reference to the “Horse-Pirates of the Caribbean.” The asinine adversary taunts Lax from outside his bush home, kicking it asunder with a single blow, the horse injured by the thorns from the shrubberies, as shown by the next art showing the wrecked residence and the triumphant bully in the middle of a kick, the nameless rabbit looking on helplessly. The following piece shows a crying Lax stuck in the remnants of his bush abode while the bully laughs haughtily, the rabbit expressing his anger.

In the meantime, Max seeks materials for his own fortress of solitude, the story indicating his interest in playing videogames while eating, finding old branches and sticks to serve as components for his own residence. The following illustration shows his resultant spiky-looking residence, upon which he looks happily while the bully donkey spies on him from behind a nearby tree. Once Max enters his new home to play videogames and eat, the asinine adversary demands entry, which the horse refuses, the next art showing a nervous Max working on both a lollipop and a videogame while the donkey taunts him from outside, another unidentified animal, in this case a squirrel, looking on.

Consequentially, the bully kicks Max’s residence asunder, the following artwork depicting him doing so, the horse caught in the mix and falling into the sticks that once formed his house, the next illustration depicting his legs sticking out of the mess, while two unidentified birds look on and the donkey laughs, having stolen the equine’s lollipop. While this occurs, the oldest of the horses, Jack, too seeks materials for his intended abode, in his instance stones that he decides to mix with honey, mud, and water for a sturdier home, the next piece of art showing him happily looking at a pile of rocks in the woods, the unnamed bluebird from before seeming content too.

The bees in the following art don’t seem very happy as Jack purloins their honey, the bluebird chased by a pair as their brethren eye the horse, appearing scared. Mercifully, the equine is successful in his endeavor and mixes the gathered materials to form his home’s walls, using an old log to produce a sturdy door, the text indicating he received some stings from the bees. The next illustration depicts Jack erecting his residence while bees appear miffed from stealing their honey, the bluebird appearing to aid him while another unidentified avian looks on.

Jack ultimately enters his new residence to fulfill his reading hobby, and unsurprisingly, the donkey arrives to taunt him, although his hooves fail to rend the sturdy door, and demands ingress that the horse naturally denies. The subsequent piece of art depicts Jack inside his residence reading, along with the nameless bluebird, while the bully appears miffed from the injury inflicted by his failure to knock down the door, a bee and a rabbit looking on. Thus, the donkey attempts to destroy the abode, failing in his endeavor, the next artwork showing him exhausted by his attempts while the mentioned rabbit points and laughs.

The unsuccessful bully attempts to enter Jack’s residence via defenestration, but gets stuck halfway and implores the horse for mercy that he quickly receives, promising that he’ll cease his bullying, receiving several beestings during his struggle, the following illustration showing the insects’ assaults while Jack and the bluebird triumphantly look on at the stuck donkey. Then the horse kicks the bully out of the window, the next art showing him about to do so, and the piece afterward showing Jack and his avian companion looking at the slumped and injured donkey, whom he recruits to aid in his search for his brothers.

Lax is the first one he finds, the accompanying illustration showing him nursing his wounds from the thorns of his former home. Max is next, the following piece depicting Jack and the bully tugging him out of the sticks of his own failed abode, Lax looking on nervously. Afterward, Jack invites his brothers and the donkey under the condition that the former help around the house and not fulfill their television-watching and videogaming hobbies too frequently, to which they agree, the next artwork depicting the equines and their new friend the donkey all happy.

The story concludes with the donkey and the two younger horses helping Jack clean his house and prepare dinner, the final illustration of the main text depicting Max playing a guitar, Jack holding a book, the donkey playing a piano, and Lax dancing. A smaller illustration appears after the mention of the author’s other works and shows an orange and gray horse reading. In the end, the tale is a nice twist on that of the three little pigs, given its successful substitute of other animalian species, with plenty of humorous illustrations and the rare popular culture reference, being highly recommended for younger audiences.


Introduction

The cover art of the third installment features Gilbert riding upon a hoverboard with the backdrop of the beautiful Martian city to which Aoléon brought him far away from a Nebraska farm. The previous book in this series ended after a psi-ball match, with Aoléon, Gilbert, and others celebrating the match at a pizza place. Chapter Nine of the franchise, book number three continuing its chapter numbering from prior books instead of standardly resetting it like most written sequels, opens at Luminon’s Palace in the Martian Megalopolis, itself located in Olympus Mons, the massive Martian volcano.

Luminon

The ninth chapter of the Aoléon pantheon opens with a bit of backstory about how the Martian city’s ruling leaders came to power, with Aoléon and Gilbert paying it a little visit, alongside which comes more description on the city’s structure. Both sneak into the palace, with the first illustration within the book depicting Aoléon front and center in a spacesuit, with Gilbert behind, also in a spacesuit, the two within a tunnel lined by greenish patterns. Within the passageway, both encounter the palace’s self-defense system, the following artwork showing Gilbert trapped within a plasmic aura, although Aoléon seems to be continuing her ascent.

Gilbert eventually is free from the shocking device, the two continuing through the tunnel into the palace ventilation system, eventually getting a glimpse while in hiding of the Luminon, an especially-tall alien that the book’s third illustration nicely depicts against the backdrop of the city. After the Luminon interrogates an insurgent, the book describes a half-alien half-machine being that the following piece of art illustrates, along with another unusually-tall Martian yet another artwork displays, with shining skin and armor, Sisyphus being his name. He, the Luminon, and the machine/alien hybrid, named Cerberus, proceed to discuss how to take care of the forthcoming rebellion, another piece of art depicting the three characters conversing with a beautiful view of the Martian cityscape.

Part of the Luminon and his cronies’ plan involves taking control of Terra, better known as Earth’s, milk supply, the next illustration depicting a close-up of the Martian leader’s angry face and the top part of his armor. The chapter ends with Aoléon and Gilbert phase-jumping away from the palace.

Galactworks

The tenth chapter of the series opens with Aoléon and Gilbert visiting the Galactworks facility that produces Mars’ galactmilk supply, produced by bovars, the Martian equivalent of Earth’s cows, although the section’s first illustration depicts the two on a plaza with Saturn-shaped structures in the air not to mention a hexagon-patterned wall and other aliens in the background. Aoléon and Gilbert task themselves to defend the facility from sabotage, the next piece of art showing a maintenance bot hovering above the bovars, white animals with turquoise patterns across their bodies, the beasts grazing upon grass-laden platforms, a greenish light coming from the mentioned mechanism.

Aoléon and Gilbert pursue a saboteur through the facility with the help of an alien named Zoot, the next artwork depicting the being holding onto one of the legs of the vandal. The two get further help from other nameless aliens, the next illustration depicting them queued within the gorgeous galact plant. Aoléon’s father Deimos, working in the factory, rushes to help the two, the following art depicting Aoléon and Gilbert running from the maintenance bot that in the picture is expelling a greenish light. The chapter ends with Aoléon and Gilbert going to Martian school the next day, the former yearning to take her pilot’s exam.

Hollow Moon

Chapter Eleven opens at the Martian Space Academy, with the time coming for Aoléon’s pilot examination, part of which the section’s first illustration depicts of a view of the test vessel in Martian orbit with the sun and several smaller vessels in the backdrop. Complications, however, arise during the test, with Draconian warriors taking Aoléon and Gilbert to Martian moon of Phobos, the second artwork depicting a hangar within the moon containing several floating cylindrical vessels with smaller ships across them. Following this is a description of the Draconians, along with an illustration of some of them accompanying Aoléon and Gilbert, the two then within bluish stasis fields.

The second subsection of the chapter occurs immediately after the first within the Phobos Moon, the Draconians transporting the two prisoners to a coliseum where they face off against a giant monster depicted in the subsection’s first illustration, the beast having many arms, hands, and eyes. After their encounter with the creature, known as the Sukr’ath, Draconian guards take them to an interrogation by the head dragon, Caput Draconis, of the lunar facility, an illustration depicting his horned head and body and purplish skin, this being also known as the Ciakar wondering why Aoléon and Gilbert were in the facility’s vicinity.

During his interrogation, the Ciakar clutches Gilbert by his next, another illustration depicting this while Aoléon helplessly looks on, with some backstory revealed afterward about the Draco and the human race. The following artwork depicts Gilbert and Aoléon’s eventual savior, clad in dark armor with laser claws, the art a paragraph later revealing who is beneath the suit alongside the text, and the action moving in a third subsection to the rescuer’s saucer, the chapter ending with a return to Aoléon’s home.

Gilbert Skyboards

Chapter Twelve opens at Luminon’s palace, where he discusses with his cronies a forthcoming invasion of Earth. The primary subsection terminates with an illustration depicting Aoléon and Gilbert atop a hoverboard with the shining Martian city as a backdrop, the action in the second subsection taking readers to the Martian Space Academy, whence they go to the city’s commercial district. Afterward is the subsection’s first art depicting the primary protagonists atop a yellow, blue-striped hoverboard with a crowd distantly below them, the two meeting the pioneer of hoverboards on Mars, Mu-Eri.

Gilbert ultimately receives a hoverboard of his own, depicted as red with blue oval stripes in the next piece of art, and he proves to be a natural according to the text. The illustration immediately afterward shows the two flying closer to one of the city’s plazas, the civilians seeming not to care about their presence. The two ultimately find themselves in pursuit by the paladins, the next illustration depicting one of them firing upon the two with a pair of plasma beams high in the city. A paragraph later comes the next art where Aoléon has a plasmic sphere conjured within her right hand while still on her hoverboard.

The visual scene that follows depicts one of the paladins forced off his vehicle by Aoléon’s conjured energy sphere, the graphic afterward showing Gilbert making a getaway as those paladins still aboard their vehicle attempt to fire upon him. The third entry ends with Aoléon returning home with Gilbert and receiving a bit of a shock, after which they vanish en route to their next mission.

Conclusion

After the main text is a glossary describing the various terms used throughout the novella, perfect for younger readers that don’t quite grasp some of the more advanced vernacular. Then comes the author’s special thanks to many individuals and groups. Ultimately, the third book is very enjoyable like its predecessors, with the artwork in particular definitely enhancing the reader’s experience regardless of their age group, alongside good descriptive text and dialogue, the indicators before each chapter’s section of the action’s current location very much helping the book, which doesn’t really leave much room for improvement, and is highly recommended.

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Answer for question 4212.

Do you work well in groups or do you prefer to complete projects by yourself? Why? What was your worst group project experience?
Definitely by myself, since usually when I'm in a group, I try to take most of the control of a project by myself since I tended to be the most intelligent in my group. My worst group experience was my last semester of college in my Software Engineering class, where the teacher admonished us about falling behind schedule and I pretty much did the actual programming solo.

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Answer for question 4208.

When you’re sick, do you usually push through it or do you take the day off to get better? Do you have any tricks to help get better more quickly?
Before I began to value my education I had no qualms in taking the day off, but when I did, I played through the pain.

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