Book Review

Witches Abroad – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Stories exist independently of their players. If you know that, knowledge is power.

Certainly, understanding the power of a story, you have undeniable power. Terry Pratchett explores the mere power of the story through the adventure of Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg across the Discworld to Genua after Fairy Godmother Desirata passes away. But why would they go to stop a servant girl from marry a prince? Isn’t that every girl’s dream?

Not when the girl is merely a player entwined in her fake destiny.

My knowledge of Terry Pratchett comes initially from his collaboration with Neil Gaiman on Good Omens. A friend of mine recommended this book to me as a fun, lighthearted story to dive into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. And what a way to enter it!

A world where stories are brought to life by a rogue fairy godmother means chaos ensues: a frog prince, a sleezy cat-turned-man, and a fairy godmother with a knack for pumpkins, just to name a few. Plus with characters as endearing and witchy as Magrat, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg, you’ll want to go on this wacky adventure with them.

Pratchett’s writing can get a little cumbersome, and part of this may be due to the audio book performance, but I found myself zoning out in some parts…not that it was hard to find my way back into the story. Just like the stories they are trying to stop, the three witches are a product of their own tale…and ultimately, as tales are supposed to go, they reach Genua to stop the rogue fairy godmother. Perhaps, really, they were just pawns in the story Desiderata wanted to tell before her death.

So be wary of the stories around you. Because perhaps, you’re just a mere pawn in the game.

What’s it about?

Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unfortunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince.

But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who’ll stop at nothing to achieve a proper “happy ending”—even if it means destroying a kingdom.

feature friday

Feature Friday: Mari Hamill


Today I am featuring Mari Hamill, author of Werewolf Nights.

Mari Hamill is a comic book retailer, an avid reader, and a movie fan who loves being immersed in fantasy. Currently, Mari is working on her next novel. The first thing she plans to do once the lock down ends will be going to the movies.

Why did you choose indie publishing?

I was eager for my novel to find readers who would enjoy it. I spent a lot of time researching and writing my manuscript and couldn’t wait to put it out there.

What inspired you to write? And why did you begin writing in the first place?

Most of my academic career consisted of reading and writing. Once I graduated, I felt that I needed to continue that path. Writing soothes me. I feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing each chapter. Also, I like to document people and scenarios that don’t really belong in any history books. I like to write those details that don’t really matter but kind of make a difference.

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

J.K. Rowling! Her worlds are very complex and unique. I binge read her Harry Potter series and moved on to her detective series. She’s a truly remarkable talent.

What is your writing routine like?

I like writing when there’s no one around. It allows me to block distractions and dive into my fantasy world.

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

If you have something to say, go for it! Your story might bring joy or insight to a reader out there!


Follow Mari Hamill

Books

Threatened by financial ruin, widowed bakery owner Catherine Mercy leads a solitary life with more interest in reading about werewolf lore than in finding a man. Her one true love disappeared after high school and her now deceased husband kept her trapped in the house claiming that a werewolf might hunt her down one day, just as her grandmother repeatedly warned her. When Hollywood interrupts the town’s monotony by shooting a werewolf movie on location, Catherine’s best friend Anne pushes her to audition. Already in her thirties, Catherine feels ridiculous trying to become an actress, but lands the leading role.

Catherine’s daily routine turns into a hair-raising adventure as fame begins to surveil her wanderings and she falls for her sexy costar Greg Byron despite this actor’s neon warning sign that flashes conceited womanizer. He’s also smitten by her, but just when they are about to find happiness, a wolf bites him.

While Greg’s features turn lupine, Catherine discovers a resemblance between the movie script and her family’s history. Frightened, Catherine recruits werewolf expert Steve to figure out if the movie’s werewolf legend is real and if Wolfern, the werewolf her grandmother dreaded, has finally come for her. If so, Greg will turn into a werewolf. Only undoing Greg’s curse and destroying Wolfern before the next full moon can save their love and their lives.

Mari Hamill blends fantasy, intrigue, and passion to create a chilling, unique story.


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison

Book Review

Thorunn – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

I was honored to be a beta reader for Thorunn as well as receive an ARC copy of the book prior to publication. Neither of these experiences have impacted my review.

Imagine being whisked away from Earth, relocated to a foreign planet where you’re expected to start anew. Of course, in most cases this would be uneventful, but this is not the case of Laine Riven whose parents whisked him away against his will to the planet of Thorunn. Yet, he manages to make the best of his new life…until the Outpost Terrorist attacks. And that’s when everything begins to change.

Esther T. Jones introduces us to the “shocking” world of Thorunn – literally. The unique landscape is known for its electric storms, as well as creatures reminiscent of dinosaurs, as well as cat-like shifter people known as klia’ans (or lokians). In an action packed adventure, Laine, as well as Kenton and Bo, uncover secrets about their families, the government, and in a series of correlated events, unintentionally come together to bring peace to Thorunn.

Yet, the journey to Thorunn is not without its hiccoughs. The start of the book is notably slow. It takes about 150 pages (or 25%) for the book to really pick up. This is not uncommon it fantasy or sci-fi adventures, where the author is trying to establish the world. Some dialogue is clunky, and Jones’s notably wordiness does get in the way of the story.

On the second read through, the world building was much stronger, but I am struggling to tell if it was because it’s my second read-through or because Jones took criticism. I believe some of it is due to changes she made between the beta draft and the final draft.But, I’ll let first time readers make that judgment themselves.

But, if you can get through those first 150 pages, the story really takes off. Wrapped in action, friendship, unique aliens, and unwinding twists and mysteries. Reminiscent of James Cameron’s Avatar, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation, and dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, as well as elements from Star Trek, Star Wars, and Firefly. While some parts of the story are predictable, that doesn’t make it bad! In fact, it means that Jones did a fantastic job weaving in the hints, and in the end, I picked up on them!

So, if you want a fun sci-fi adventure, go check it out! You’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time, holding your breath as Laine, Kenton, and Bo escape, attack, and save the day on countless occasion! So definitely check out this new book.

I’ve also expressed some of my additional thoughts in the video below.

What’s it about?

Nine years ago, Skytown soldiers brutally murdered Kenton’s family. Now those same men aim to return and destroy Kenton’s hard-won, idyllic life amongst the peaceful shifter people of the Hinnom Forest.

Meanwhile, Laine Riven–dragged from Earth to Thorunn against his will–is stuck navigating an unfamiliar school, his jerk of an uncle, and the rising threat posed by the Outpost Terrorist.

When their paths clash amidst tragedy and betrayal, Kenton realises he and his best friend Bo may have rushed headlong into a situation too impossible to fix.

Time is running out as frix season closes in, and their only shot at victory hinges on outrunning the seasoned bounty hunters, savage creatures, and unpredictably violent weather trying to kill them every step of the way. . . 

Book Review

Howl’s Moving Castle – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Most people know Howl’s Moving Castle from the 2004 Miyazaki Film. While I was certainly aware of the movie, and had it on my “to-watch” list for many years, I actually had not watched it prior to reading this book. In retrospect, I am glad that I hadn’t, because it only made the book so much better – and much fresher.

Some people might disagree with me on this of course, but personally I liked the book way more than the movie, which is true with many stories, but I wanted to state that right away.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie is wonderful on its own. One recommendation I heard was to think of the book as Sophie’s point-of-view and the movie as Howl’s point-of-view, and that serves as a great analysis between the two.

The book, especially when narrated by Jenny Sterlin, shows a story of a whiny wizard who gets whipped into line by a young-turned-old woman who has little confidence in herself. Imagine a young man throwing fits over ever possible scenario, not the smooth “sexy” fellow represented by the movie (I mean, Christian Bale as Howl…come on!): this is the true Howl, and the Howl that Sophie sees.

A whimsical world follows Sophie through her adventures with Howl, Calcifer, Michael (whom Mikhal replaced in the movie), her sisters, a scary scarecrow, and a dog-man. The witch of the waste and her demon are sinister villains who haunt the landscape. It leaves much of the world to the reader’s imagination though: doors connecting to our world, steampunk elements flowing through the landscape, and bustling cities. No wonder Miyazaki took some creative liberty with airships and other technology, because there’s no reason those pieces of equipment couldn’t exist.

Dianna Wynne Jones creates a wonderful story that I didn’t want to put down (or, stop listening to) leaving hints along the way. In the end, all the pieces of the puzzle come together seamlessly, leaving no stone overturned in Sophie’s adventure to find herself.

I think what makes the book so much better than the movie is Sophie’s autonomy. Her jealousy of Howl with other girls is slowly building in the background, while she focuses on forcing herself into the life of the castle. While these elements of Sophie survive in the movie, many of her motivations are around protecting Howl…not others. Sophie is selfless and relentless, and the book is a jewel at showing thos.

So, if you look at the tale between these two lenses, you’ll enjoy both the book and the movie. For while the book is about Sophie, the movie is about Howl…and how he would ultimately see himself: a hero.

Although, that notion would just cause Sophie to laugh!

What’s it about?

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

feature friday

Feature Friday: Author Esther T. Jones


Today I am honored to feature Esther T. Jones, Author of Tedenbarr of Have Lath and Thorunn. You can read my review of Tedenbarr of Have Lath here, and be on the look out of my comprehensive ARC review of Thorunn prior to its release date of May 20th!

Esther been creating stories since she was a kid, and really started writing them down when she was about 10. In her teen years she got serious about learning the craft, and hasn’t stopped since, going on to publish her debut novel Tedenbarr of Have Lath as well as her newest novel, Thorunn, coming out on 20th. Outside of writing, Esther loves gardening, cosplay, and music (as she is a flutist and pianist).

Why did you choose indie publishing?

Creative control! It’s fantastic working with editors and beta readers, but ultimately (unlike traditional publishing), it’s up to me to decide what I want to include or cut from the final product, and I love that.

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

I still really love the Redwall series, because of the rich descriptions, the nuanced characters, and the ability Brian Jacques’ works have to take you to a completely different world. Recently though, I’ve been loving everything by Jeff Wheeler, and I’m currently enjoying his “Harbinger” series.

What is your writing routine like?

I don’t really have one right now, haha. I’ve just started working on a new WIP (a portal fantasy about a lost princess), and I’m just aiming to get in around 1000-2000 words a week. When I’ve got the first draft down I’ve probably be a little more methodical about it, but since I’m a pantser, I need to have ample time to think about my story between writing sessions so that the words can flow when I sit down to type.

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

Please, please read books, of all genres and types! It’s the most important part of being able to write well.

Do you want to give a shout out to anyone in particular?

I want to say thanks so much to my amazing cover artist Don Jones, who was awesome during the whole process. The cover for Thorunn turned out beautifully!

Can you give us an out-of-context spoiler to get us excited for Thorunn?

At one point, Kenton’s best friend Bo finds himself hurtling off a mountain on a makeshift hang-glider, trying to escape from the murderous, pterodactyl-like Chsaa-Rhee before they can stab his eyes out.

Thorunn is available for pre-order now! Check it out!


Follow Esther T. Jones

Books

Adventure! Treachery! Danger on the High Seas! After months of forced servitude aboard a cargo ship en route from the Kingdom of the West, all Tedenbarr wants is to return to his beloved home. But when a brutal pirate attack leaves Tedenbarr stranded on the far shores of the Eastern Kingdom, Tedenbarr must embark on an arduous and harrowing journey from East to West with only his wit, and will to survive against the many trials that beset him along the way. Faced with danger from land and sea, foreigner and country-kin, Tedenbarr’s travels promise to take him through perilous, lonely mountains, across vast, thirsty deserts, and into the very heart of a city poised on the brink of civil war. Only time will tell if Tedenbarr can succeed in his quest to return to Have Lath, and finally reunite with his friends, family and the woman he left behind. 

Thorunn

Nine years ago, Skytown soldiers brutally murdered Kenton’s family. Now those same men aim to return and destroy Kenton’s hard-won, idyllic life amongst the peaceful shifter people of the Hinnom Forest.

Meanwhile, Laine Riven–dragged from Earth to Thorunn against his will–is stuck navigating an unfamiliar school, his jerk of an uncle, and the rising threat posed by the Outpost Terrorist.

When their paths clash amidst tragedy and betrayal, Kenton realises he and his best friend Bo may have rushed headlong into a situation too impossible to fix.

Time is running out as frix season closes in, and their only shot at victory hinges on outrunning the seasoned bounty hunters, savage creatures, and unpredictably violent weather trying to kill them every step of the way.


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison

feature friday

Feature Friday: Author Naomi Kelly


Today I am featuring Naomi Kelly, author of Trial by Obsidian and Meraki: A Syren Story.

Naomi Kelly is a young Irish Indie author who released her debut novel, Trial by Obsidian, last year. She has recently released their second novel, Meraki: A Syren Story on May 1st. She writes YA Fantasy with romance subplots, inspired by all the fantastic books she has read over the years. Her writing style is very character-centric, which leads to writing in the first person. She loves diving deep into the feelings and thoughts of her characters and really put herself in their shoes to figure out what they would be going through.

What inspired you to write?

Sometimes when I would read a really good book that I couldn’t stop thinking about, I would start thinking about where I would imagine the characters going next. This gradually developed to me drafting my own plot lines and characters which eventually lead to me writing my first book, Trial by Obsdian.

What are some of your current projects?

I have a few ideas in the pipeline, I think all Indie authors are prone to having multiple “works in progress” at once. I’m hoping to grow my first book with a sequel, and I’d love to write a collection of short stories that revolve around the side characters from my books. For now, I’m just enjoying Meraki‘s release.

Why did you start writing?

I actually started writing in my early teen years as a part of my counselling sessions. I found it really hard to explain how I was feeling, and I was advised to write a couple of pages a day. Sometimes I showed my work, other times I just ripped up the pages, but just getting the words out of my head and into the real world helped me immensely.

Who do you hope to inspire with your writing?

I’d hope to inspire the young adult readers with my writing because they are in the age group my main characters usually tend to be in. In the first book of the trilogy, Kanna is 14 to 15 years old. If you strip away the fantasy and adventure aspects, she goes through the same things that a 14- to 15-year-old teenager goes through in the real world. She’s insecure, unsure of herself, has trust issues, is self-conscious, and a whole lot more. Long story short, she’s not perfect. It’s okay to have flaws and be vulnerable, because realistically there is not a person out there who doesn’t have them, and I think it’s an important thing to see.

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

Sarah J Maas and Amanda Bouchet would be two of my favourite authors for the same reason. They both manage to create these large fantasy worlds that are navigated by relatable female characters. (And they both have a brilliant ability to write steamy romance which never hurt anybody!)

If you could apologize to one of your characters, what would you say?

Dear Wren of Meraki; A Syren Story.

I’m sorry that you had to go through a lot of heartache and pain, but I ensure you there was a point to it all. By going through it you finally learnt how strong and capable you are, and I think you would agree that you came out a better person than you started. (Also I gave you a lot of good things too so I’m not so big baddie!) Love always, Your creator and friend, Naomi.

How do you normally begin a writing session?

I normally begin a writing session with a mug of tea, and I’ll read over what I did the previous day. Apparently, it’s a writing sin to edit as you go, but I find recapping my work really helps me get back into the scene and if I can catch a few typos along the way- even better! When working on a project, I try to do it every day. There will always be days you are too busy, but I do believe you can make time no matter what. Often, I’ll write a quick sentence or idea as a text to myself whilst out and about. Writing isn’t always just typing, and if you need a work break, then editing, reading, drawing out characters, maps, title ideas are all useful ways to keep the momentum going.

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

Not everyone is going to love your work. No matter how perfect you think your plot is, or how amazing your characters are, someone, somewhere will dislike it. So don’t worry about trying to impress that one person, because you’ll never be able to, but that’s okay. Write what you want to read.

Follow Naomi Kelly

Books

Trial by Obsidian

The poverty-stricken southern lands of Deshure have kept Juniper Obsidian hidden all her life. Her concealed identity kept her safe. Until now. The northern lands of Sinlara are home to the Chambers. Here rules are enforced and wars are waged, but since the end of the War fifteen years ago things have been quiet. That is until they get their hands on Juniper. [Read More]

Meraki: A Syren Story

Her song is a gift bestowed by the gods; so why does it feel like a curse?

Seventeen-year-old Wren thinks she has just swum away from the greatest threat in the sea. That’s until she finds herself being hauled upon a warlord’s boat. With her life at the mercy of a young, temperamental King, Wren must decide who is her ultimate enemy. [Read More]


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison

News

Cover of the Month Contest

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you loved the cover of my book, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest below!

This is a huge deal for both me and my wonderful cover artist! We put months of work into making this cover what it is…and it would mean the world if you could take a moment out of your busy schedule to vote and spread the news! ⁠

Thank you so much in advance! It means the world to me.⁠

feature friday

Feature Friday: Author Kaitlyn Legaspi


For my first ever Feature Friday, I have the opportunity to feature a student at my Alma Mater, Kaitlyn Legaspi, a student at the University of Florida. Today she is launching the final book in her Dark Irregular Trilogy, so why don’t you find out more about her and her path to publication below!

Kaitlyn Legaspi is the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy Dark Irregular. Writing passionately on a daily basis, she is publishing the third book in the series…today, May 1st! She plans to add more to her repertoire in the near future. Kaitlyn is entering her junior year as a business undergraduate student at the University of Florida, in addition to writing. Kaitlyn enjoys singing, studying in the nearby boba tea shop, and reading whatever has catches her interest.

Why did you choose to Indie Publish?

I chose to indie publish because compared to when I had traditionally published with a small publishing company, I have a lot more freedom when it comes to how much I can spend on certain services such as editing and getting a book cover, and I can keep track of everything and how much time and money is spent on certain things. I like the control I have over it. It’s a lot of work, but I definitely believe it’s worth it.

What are some of your current projects?

Currently, I am working with a really close friend of mine, editing the first book of a new series I’m hoping to put out within a year. In addition to that, I am also writing my first YA romance novel featuring two different first-person perspectives. It’s not something I have done before, and it is difficult to do, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

Why did you start writing?

At first, I started writing because I thought it was a super fun thing to do, and it really is. When I was in middle school, I was in an online writing community where we’d post a chapter on our own threads as often as we wanted. We’d read each other’s stuff and comment how much we liked it, and it was such a supportive community.

Who do you hope to inspire with your writing?

I’d hope to inspire the young adult readers with my writing because they are in the age group my main characters usually tend to be in. In the first book of the trilogy, Kanna is 14 to 15 years old. If you strip away the fantasy and adventure aspects, she goes through the same things that a 14- to 15-year-old teenager goes through in the real world. She’s insecure, unsure of herself, has trust issues, is self-conscious, and a whole lot more. Long story short, she’s not perfect. It’s okay to have flaws and be vulnerable, because realistically there is not a person out there who doesn’t have them, and I think it’s an important thing to see.

Who is your favorite author and/or book?

My favorite author is Eoin Colfer, and the Artemis Fowl series is my favorite. I love his writing because he’s able to insert humor into his books seamlessly, even in the most serious of situations. He has the humor I wish I had, because I can’t make a good joke to save my life.

If you could apologize to one of your characters, what would you say?

Hey, Kanna, my beloved first main character, I want to apologize to you for a lot of mean things I’ve done. I’ve nearly killed you maybe ten times, probably more, throughout the entire trilogy. You basically lose your memories twice, and I almost have you lose them a third time. You were bullied a lot as a child, which led you to have plenty of trust issues that most likely played a part in preventing some good friendships before you met Kenneth and Neel. I’m sorry for all of that, and I hope the ending of Gray Heart is enough to make it up to you.

If you could give one piece of advise to your past-self about writing, what would it be?

Always be open to criticism. It’s what helps the stories we want to put out to the world become better. It’s what makes our work ready to be published. There’s a reason why people go through multiple edits before they even think about publishing their book. Now, with that being said, there is a difference between constructive criticism and an attack. If someone has read your book in the early stages and their negative comments aren’t the least bit objective and have no solid base for why they’re being made, ignore them. That’s not necessarily going to help you. That’s going to hurt you.

Kaitlyn also wanted to give the following shout out…

Shout out to @primo_paints for his amazing character art and helping me out with the last two book covers of the trilogy! I love your work, and it’s been a joy working with you!

Follow Kaitlyn Legaspi

Books

A world consists of two planes of existence. There is the world of the living, where humans, elves, and every whole-spirited creature breathe. Then there is the Void, where demons and beings made of pure darkness, shadows, live.

Almost fifteen years ago, these shadows brought the deaths of the Kingdom of Sylenia’s beloved king and queen and the disappearance of their newborn baby. In the present day, the kingdom remains in the capable hands of a young queen, her major generals, and their knights but is constantly threatened by the growing number of shadows that enter the living world.

A secluded young orphan named Kanna is one of the new apprentices that have been chosen to be trained for the purpose of defeating these shadows. Suddenly called upon to become a knight’s understudy, she is escorted to the palace by two older apprentices. Along the way, she is attacked by the shadows, much to the apprentices’, knights’, and even the major generals’ confusion.

While Kanna is figuring out why the shadows are targeting her, something else occupies her mind. Every time she is knocked unconscious by a shadow, she has familiar visions about a little boy she vaguely recognizes. Kanna eventually finds the boy that keeps appearing in her dreams. However, she meets him as a price due to the presence of a darker, more powerful entity: the Dark Irregular.


Currently, I am not accepting any more applications for Feature Friday. Follow me for updates regarding when I will be reopening the application. Until then, signing off.

E.S. Barrison

News

Feature Friday – Indie Authors Wanted! CLOSED

UPDATE: RESPONSES ARE CLOSED AS OF APRIL 27TH, 2020

Hey Indie Authors!

Do you want the opportunity to be interviewed and featured on my website? Well I am currently taking applications for interested parties!

What do you have to do? EASY! Fill out the form below! If I’m interested in interviewing you, I’ll shoot you an email with further details.

This is a new venture I’m taking part in, so I have no clue if it will work…but here we go.

Book Review

Fuzzy Nation – Book Review

Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Total Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

John Scalzi is the type of author who can repurpose any storyline and make it, well, hilarious and relevant to the times. Fuzzy Nation retells the story of Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper (which I have not read, unfortunately) and puts a more modern twist on it. This is outside of just the technology, but also the treatment of women (and there are multiple powerful women throughout the story) as well as environmentalism.

In true Scalzi fashion, the story is easy to read (or in this case, listen to) and will keep you begging for more with each chapter. He constructs a narrative surrounding arrogant ex-lawyer Jack Holloway, and Jack’s own unreliability will keep the reader wondering what his next move with be. Will he save the small little animals on the planet, which he endearingly called the Fuzzies? Is he only out for himself? What DOES he really believe?

While the story itself is a predictable tale of colonialism gone awry and deterred by the native species, Fuzzy Nation takes an intricate look at law, witnesses, and the uniqueness of a potential new life form to tell its tale. Jack Holloway is a smart character, and while equally fooling the reader, he does the same to his fellow acquaintances. Although, he never manages to fool his bomb-exploding dog Jack.

I would like to applaud Scalzi in a few aspects, primarily with Isabel. It would have been so easy for Isabel to leave Mark Sullivan and prance over to Jack Holloway after he saved the fuzzies. But that’s not realistic, is it? No, Scalzi kept Isabel true to her character and did make Jack Holloway the knight in shining armor. Their friendship stayed just as that: friends. As soon as she appeared, I had a knot in my throat that her presence would add an unnecessary romance element to the plot. But it didn’t. So kudos to Mr. Scalzi on keeping a friendship that is also professional.

Finally, Wil Wheaton’s performance on the audio book is spectacular. He gives each character it’s own voice, which is sometimes necessary with the way Scalzi write dialogue. Men, women, lawyers, security officers, etc. each speak differently, including the titular character of the novel.

If you want a fun novel, I would recommend picking up or listening to Fuzzy Nation because you will be waiting for the surprises Jack Holloway has in store with each page. Plus, who want to hear about smart fuzzy creatures…as well as a dog who detonates bombs?

What’s it about?

Jack Holloway works alone, for reasons he doesn’t care to talk about. Hundreds of miles from ZaraCorp’s headquarters on planet, 178 light-years from the corporation’s headquarters on Earth, Jack is content as an independent contractor, prospecting and surveying at his own pace. As for his past, that’s not up for discussion.

Then, in the wake of an accidental cliff collapse, Jack discovers a seam of unimaginably valuable jewels, to which he manages to lay legal claim just as ZaraCorp is cancelling their contract with him for his part in causing the collapse. Briefly in the catbird seat, legally speaking, Jack pressures ZaraCorp into recognizing his claim, and cuts them in as partners to help extract the wealth.

But there’s another wrinkle to ZaraCorp’s relationship with the planet Zarathustra. Their entire legal right to exploit the verdant Earth-like planet, the basis of the wealth they derive from extracting its resources, is based on being able to certify to the authorities on Earth that Zarathustra is home to no sentient species.

Then a small furry biped—trusting, appealing, and ridiculously cute—shows up at Jack’s outback home. Followed by its family. As it dawns on Jack that despite their stature, these are people, he begins to suspect that ZaraCorp’s claim to a planet’s worth of wealth is very flimsy indeed…and that ZaraCorp may stop at nothing to eliminate the “fuzzys” before their existence becomes more widely known.