Tag Archives: science fiction

The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR by J. A. Merkel (Book Review)

Benji and Soren will do anything to save their family, but the Crown isn’t going to make it easy . . .

Ten years after his mother was thrown into her off-world prison, Benji finally has a chance to save her. All he has to do is win the Fall Gauntlet, a fight-to-the-death tournament on the planet of Calypso, designed to please the gods and goddesses and keep them at bay. Benji’s success will usher in a new era of science and innovation, and he’s come too far to lose now.

But the Crown is three steps ahead. They’ve orchestrated every move, pushing Benji to the victory that will serve their own agenda. Winning the deathmatch will grant his wish to save his mother, but the Crown has other plans and won’t let go of Benji so easily.

As Benji learns the truth about the Crown’s desires, he is forced to make impossible choices, especially when he learns that his final opponent—the hulking young man behind the bear mask—is his brother, Soren.

J.A. Merkel’s Bear is part of The Fall Gauntlet, a collection of short stories about Benji and Soren’s adventures on the planet of Calypso.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Ten years ago, the Crown imprisoned Soren and Benji’s mother for treason. Seven years ago, the Crown jailed their father and separated the two brothers. Now, the Crown is forcing Soren and Benji to fight in the Fall Gauntlet tournament, where only one will win, or so that was the Crown’s plan. 

Thanks to D, a guard, Benji was notified his opponent was none other than his brother, Soren the Bear. Benji could never take his brother’s life and had to devise a way to unveil his identity to Soren. Representing the lynx, Benji was a genius when it came to technology. Through his apprenticeship with Master Gherus, he furthered his understanding of the principles of physics and helped develop weaponry and tech for the Crown. He used his knowledge to find a way to break the technologically advanced mask he wore in battle and turn the tables on the Crown. 

For sci-fi or tech fans, you’ll love the author’s attention to detail when they describe what the arena sees when looking at the opponents: “two masked humans representing both a bear and a lynx, human-shaped with the ability to walk upright, but phospho-imaged to imitate those beasts, our masks morphing and sprouting hair, and our gauntlets growing retractable claws and fur.” The platform is impressive, as intimidating as the opponent standing before you: one hundred feet off the ground with spikes jutting into the air like giant shark teeth as deadly as a Megalodon’s. Fans of this genre will also love the fighter’s two prime weapons. Lynx carried a 6-foot-long gem staff while the Bear wielded a massive spiked club that could slaughter a whale. 

The Fall Gauntlet: BEAR is a non-stop thrill ride featuring exhilarating fight scenes and futuristic tech. It’s a novella I know gamers will want to see made into a game so they can play it for hours and hours. Brother versus brother. It’s a story that would captivate teens and adults on the big screen!

With the humorous final line of dialogue and cliffhanger ending, you’ll be ready to tackle the next book in the series (The Fall Gauntlet: Rat). 

J. A. Merkel is a master of imagery and a terrific storyteller. I recommend giving this new series a chance! 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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Meet the Author

J. A. Merkel writes speculative and science fiction filled with anti-heroes and tragic reversals. For Merkel, writing isn’t a chore. It’s a fantastical kingdom with thousands of doors where readers can stumble into their own special adventures, laughing, shouting, and journeying to find home.

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Look Out for the Little Guy by Scott Lang (Book Spotlight)

Look Out for the Little Guy is the in-movie memoir by Scott Lang, also known as Ant-Man, that he’s written and shared with the world, as seen onscreen in the new Marvel Studios film Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania. Hyperion Avenue is proud to bring this book to real life.

This is the incredible story of an ex-con turned world-saving Super Hero.

In Look Out for the Little Guy, Scott Lang shares with the world a bracingly honest account of his struggles and triumphs, from serving time to being a divorced dad to becoming Ant-Man and joining The Avengers. These are stories of epic battles won and lost, as this everyman turned Super Hero finally tells all—from the official account of what really happened between The Avengers and Thanos to how shrinking down to ant-size really feels to the challenges of balancing the roles of hero and dad.

Across his many adventures big and small, Scott has gathered the wisdom of countless amazing experiences into this, the first memoir from a real-life Avenger. Once you learn the unforgettable details of his epic journey, you won’t need to be reminded . . . to look out for the little guy.



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Meet the Author

Scott Lang is a scientist and inventor with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He has been an ice cream scooper, a corporate whistleblower, a consultant for The Pym Van Dyne Foundation, and an Avenger. He lives in San Francisco.


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The Ickles®. They’re Everywhere! They’re Everywhere!: An Adventure in an Overlapping Parallel Dimension! by A. J. Eccles (Book Review)

An Adventure in an Overlapping Parallel Dimension!

We are Ickles. A proud, and independent people.
We just didn’t know we were such tiny little beings.
To us we seemed normal size.
Until the day we came face to face with our greatest challenge.
How would you feel if your world was suddenly overrun by giants five times taller than you and your friends?
How would you react if you and your neighbors were driven out of your homes and had to watch your town being turned into a theme park for the giants?

This was the situation facing Mac, a ten-year-old boy, as a rift in the fabric of space and time brought together two worlds of very different sizes. The invading giants were not monsters, not aliens, but normal-looking people just like the Ickles themselves. Only much, much larger. For the briefest moment in time, the tiny world of the Ickles and the larger world of humans overlapped, in a small bubble of physical space. Our hero, Mac, has an amazing adventure in both worlds and manages to help his fellow Ickles return home after the humans are pushed back to their own parallel universe.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


The Ickles reside in a parallel dimension to our world. According to an Ickles historical book, our universes have only overlapped once, in the mid-1800s. The well-documented incident occurred in a farmer’s field in Ireland. The rift in the fabric of space and time closed up as quickly as it opened, shocking both sides. But now, for a reason unbeknownst to either side of the border, the two worlds can see one another again. This time around, their meet-up is significantly impacting both sides of the invisible wall.

The Ickles call “our world” the land of the giants, and I can’t fault them for their name choice. Our house pets are the same size as them. When a bull from our dimension entered theirs, its horns spanned the entire street and knocked down their power lines. Through their eyes, it looked monstrous and behaved accordingly! 

In the “giant” world, our dimension, we were shocked by a sudden miniature town appearing in thin air. Every morsel of food was real. Every aspect of the town was functional, including the vehicles that ran on the same fuel we use. With dollar signs in their eyes, the “giants” didn’t waste a moment capitalizing on the discovery. 

The “giants” had theories about who the “little people” were, and the Ickles had theories about the thin veil separating the parallel universes. Each was curious about the other, which led to scenes with action, humor, and danger. 

The Ickles®. They’re Everywhere! They’re Everywhere!: An Adventure in an Overlapping Parallel Dimension! by A. J. Eccles is a thrilling science fiction story; however, it lacks one component that readers would wish the author added: images. Young readers will want to see the little town surrounded by the train track (Earth realm), the bull smashing its way down the tiny streets, Mac facing off with the “giant” cat, and especially the surprising development in the final chapter. 

If your child loves science fiction stories, I recommend you purchase The Ickles®. They’re Everywhere! They’re Everywhere!: An Adventure in an Overlapping Parallel Dimension! It’s a fantastic read! 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

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Meet the Author

I first turned my hand to writing fictional stories after a career as a copywriter, video producer, and senior global marketing executive. I love writing for strong characters and developing unusual stories with unexpected plot twists. The stories range from comedy to adventure to sci-fi drama.

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Gladiator (The Arena Book 1) by Casey Lea (Book Review)

One Arena. One Love. ONE DAY.

Happy-ever-after is never guaranteed but that’s the gladiator’s mission. It wasn’t his plan to fight to the death, but plans change. When Harvesters steal his wife, he tracks them down. The hunt takes all of his money and most of his self-control, but she’s worth it. He joins her as a slave forced to fight for his life without hesitation.

His wife is a deadly warrior, so it’s too bad she doesn’t know him. Memory stripped and struggling to survive she has no interest in the fool claiming to be her husband. He’s just another target standing between her and freedom, but not for long. She’ll take down anything and anyone in her way.

Can the gladiator live long enough to win his wife’s love? Unlikely. It’s the end of the season and the final day of fighting. They’re about to enter the Carnival of Death which leaves only a single survivor.

One of them must die.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 


Imagine waking up and not knowing who you are, what species you are, where you are, or how you got there. That’s how Gladiator (The Arena Book 1) by Casey Lea begins. Haze’s com (nicknamed Connie) informs him that he is on the slave-trading planet Vertigo. It claims he’s seeking work in the arena as a gladiator. Haze is confused. Nothing makes sense. 

Slowly, snippets of who he is resurface and, with it, a name. Silk is his wife, and he’s on a mission to find her. The path takes him to the Carnival of Death, a battle where many walk in, but only one will leave…alive. 

Haze will do anything, sacrifice anything to ensure Silk makes it to the center of the area (the maze) and claim the prize, the knife. However, there are several obstacles in Haze’s way. For one: the other contestants vary in size and species from an enormous dragon to a scrawny guy. Two, he has to face non-contestants who love to snack on the fighters: eels and wolves. Thirdly, there’s Umpyre, the guard of law, who is a stickler for following the rules he made up. And finally, the most challenging obstacle of all, Haze’s wife, Silk, doesn’t remember her hubby. 

The cards are stacked against Haze, but he is a tenacious S.O.B. He will battle creatures, contestants, and even his wife’s stubbornness. I won’t disclose what Haze is, but he’s not your typical lawyer. He puts fear in many, and you’ll understand why once you see him lose control. 

Many shall enter. Only one is supposed to win. The road to victory was hard. The fights were intense, bloody, and brilliantly written. 

There were several shocking developments as the day came to a close. I did not see the twists coming. I was left stunned, like the characters in the book. 

Who survives 24 hours of hell, aka the maze cut out of stone? That question will only be answered by reading the book. So read it! 

The story did end with a set-up for a sequel. I can’t wait to read it as well!


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

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Meet the Authors

Casey Lea is the pen name for a mother and daughter creative duo, dedicated to sharing their passion for all things sci-fi and fantastical.

A doting grandmother with too much time on her hands took the opportunity to put pen to paper.  Her older daughter kindly placed the resulting scribblings in one of those new-fangled so-called “computing machines” and a writing partnership was born.

The Lea (pronounced Lee) half of Casey Lea now spends her days wrestling with words and her memory while reading aloud to any cat careless enough to settle nearby. Daughter Casey edits the results while wrangling her adorable offspring.

After a decade on the rollercoaster ride of indie publishing their shared passion for epic love and grand adventure, spiced with advanced tech and ancient magic, remains undimmed.


You can find us at:

Sci-fi Fantasy Authors / Caseyleabooks.com
Casey Lea | Facebook
 Casey Lea (@CaseyLeaBooks) / Twitter




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Find Me In Time: Meeting Columbus by L.T. Caton (Book Review)

A group of young friends travel back in time to key periods in history in this new chapter book adventure series, making learning fun!

A normal day of hide-and-seek turns into a discovery of a lifetime when five young friends are transported back in time after finding a secret clubhouse at the top of a sycamore tree. Dubbing themselves the Tree House Club, Ashley, Emma, Keith, Aaron, and Harry learn that events of the past didn’t necessarily unfold the way they learned in school.

The treehouse has magical abilities that take Ashley and her friends to Guanahani in 1492, a time the kids requested to witness Christopher Columbus’s first arrival on his voyage to the New World. There, the friends—dubbed the Tree House Club—meet the kind and generous Taino Lukku-Cairo tribespeople who welcome their new visitors with food and gifts.

It isn’t long before the Taino chief, Tiburon, and the Tree House Club friends see three sailing ships approaching. With history on their side, the kids realize it is the famed explorer, Christopher Columbus, who quickly makes his claim for the Taino’s native land for the Queen of Spain. The kids soon learn that what their history books did not teach them was some of the lesser-known facts about Columbus, his greedy intentions in Guanahani—or San Salvador, as he named it—and his poor treatment of the humble Taino people. But the children’s friendships with the Taino put their own lives in danger from the European colonists. Will the treehouse save them in time?

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Imagine, if you will, casually playing hide-and-seek with your best chums when the unexplainable, the imaginable, occur. One moment, you’re seeking a prime hiding spot; the next, a ladder appears out of nowhere, leading to an extraordinary treehouse. Five best friends entered the treehouse and noticed that the interior didn’t measure up to its exterior. Looks were truly deceiving. While that alone would boggle anyone’s mind, what happened next shook them— literally. As if the treehouse comprehended Harry’s question of who built this home, it answered him by transporting all five friends into the past. Floor shaking. Lights flashing. The experience was disorienting, but it didn’t negate they were, in fact, in the past. They were observers of the events unfolding, frozen and scared about what they witnessed. Their first trip to the past was short-lived, but they did manage to time travel again and again.

The group chose many points in history to visit. Their brief time at the Alamo in 1936 was frightening. War is never a pleasant experience for any age. But, a bright spot came out of the adventure; they met Davy Crockett. Since their second trip was quite jarring, they decided to do more research before they haphazardly asked the treehouse to work its magic. Great idea. Their next trip had them setting sail to the time of the infamous Christopher Columbus. Young readers will learn interesting information about the explorer as the group discloses what they learned during their research. 

Readers will enjoy how this journey differed from the other voyages. This time, the five friends were active participants in the past. They looked like they belonged. They walked around the village. They could smell the flowers and food. They had the fortunate opportunity to touch hand-crafted objects displayed in modern-day museums behind touchless glass. They also spoke to the Native Americans and bore witness to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. 

Many revere Christopher Columbus, but they shouldn’t. Find Me In Time: Meeting Columbus shows the truth about the explorer. He did not respect the natives or their land. He devastated their land, destroyed the natives’ way of life, and was a brute. When the children revisited the Taino tribe, they were stunned by what Christopher Columbus and the colonists did to the tribespeople and their home. The children can’t fathom why we still celebrate this man, and I don’t either.

While the truth of Christoper Columbus and his mark on his history isn’t pleasant, children must know the truth about him and his actions. 

The story concludes with possible more journeys ahead, even to outer space. I can’t wait to read that one! 

I concur with Amazon’s recommended reading age of 6-11 years. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link



Meet the Author

Children’s book author L.T. Caton knew early in her teaching career that she wanted to be a writer. When she was a young student, history was her least favorite subject. She found it boring and often questioned why the delivery of historical facts presented in school only provided one perspective.

As a teacher and writer, her goal is to provide students with an entertaining opportunity to learn about people in history who are often not mentioned in textbooks, and to explore the many conflicting versions of history that exist. She hopes to achieve this goal through her new chapter book series, Find Me in Time, a collection of chapter books covering significant events or periods in history.

L.T. thinks a great book has relatable characters, an engaging plot, and a lesson learned that can be applied to real life long after the book is closed. She hopes her books inspire a love of reading, and in particular, inspires children of color and young girls to learn about people in history who look like them.

Hailing from New York, when she’s not writing fascinating historical fiction stories for young readers, L.T. enjoys being near the ocean—fishing, walking on the beach, sailing, and cycling. She also enjoys baking, cooking, traveling, community service, and being with family and friends. Her family has been supportive in her professional journey, including her parents, sister, and late grandmother.

Find Me in Time’s debut title is Meeting Columbus, about the famed explorer’s first landing in the New World.





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