Book Spotlight: The Lightbound Saga Trilogy by S.G. Basu

13-year-old Maia is a land-dwelling Solianese living on the planet of Tansi. She has been raised by her doting grandfather. Her mother, Sophie, supposedly deceased, is accused to be a traitor who fought for the Xifarians who have subjugated Tansi. Loathing her family’s history, Maia has put herself into self-exile, vowing to steer clear of the temptations that led her mother astray. But when she is drafted into a peace summit by the Xifarians, she must walk into Xif, the planet she has always wanted to avoid. Here she meets loyal teammates Kusha, Dani, Nafi, and Ren, as well as Miir, their team mentor who is as accomplished as he is temperamental. As Maia and her teammates thwart a plot to harm the underwater settlements on Tansi, she also discovers Sophie was not a traitor but a hero. Sophie sacrificed herself to save Tansi by breaking the dark heart within Xif that would have destroyed the Tansian system.

Maia visits the Jjord nation in their underwater colonies on Tansi. More of Sophie’s secrets come to light while she is in the colonies as well as more of the Xifarians’ plots to rebuild the dark heart of Xif. As Maia’s link with Sophie becomes apparent, Maia soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the Xifarians who kill her family and send her running for shelter across the dead lands of the Solianese. Chased by the Xifarians, including her former mentor Miir, Maia barely manages to stay alive with the help of her teammates. 

While on the run across Tansi, Maia meets a mysterious man who not only unlocks a power within Maia but also turns out to be a seer of the R’armimon, an ancient and powerful enemy of the Xifarians. Maia is revealed to possess the light that formed the dark heart’s core. When her mighty Xifarian foes corner her, Maia unleashes the power of the light on them, overpowering everyone including Miir who she presumably kills during the fight.

Maia struggles with her newfound power. She pieces together information and realizes that Miir had been working behind the scenes to help her. The team is on the verge of fracturing when Maia reveals she killed him. The Xifarians grow desperate to resurrect the dark heart that would enable them to leave the Tansian system and escape the R’armimon’s massive fleet that is drawing near. The seer of the R’armimon offers help against the advancing fleet and asks Maia to find artifacts that could enable her to protect Tansi. Meanwhile, the Xifarians try to trap Maia and capture the light inside her. Maia narrowly escapes the trap with the help of the R’armimon seer and his troops but allying with the R’armimon takes a toll on her friendships. Maia is alone and hopeless until she discovers Miir is alive. To make amends for the wrongs committed by his nation, he vows to help Maia uncover Sophie’s past and help her complete her quest for the artifacts. 

Maia regains the trust of her teammates and tries to convince the Tansian leaders of the impending threat of the R’armimon fleet. With help from Miir, she continues to uncover more of Sophie’s past. They discover that along with Sophie, Miir’s mother was also part of the plot to break the dark heart of Xif. Together with her friends, Maia rushes to find the artifacts the seer demands as the massive Execution Fleet of the R’armimon appears next to Tansi.

Book Excerpt:

The large oblong lobby inside was brimming with anxious newcomers. From the far right end, a liberally sized glass staircase spiraled up to the floors above. The absolute lack of color struck Maia; the interior was stark with white walls, white floors, and white furniture.

“Kusha, Dani, Maia,” a voice, clear and sharp, rose from somewhere in the middle of the room. “Are you here yet?”

Maia shot a puzzled glance at Kusha and Dani, only to find them as surprised as she was. Hoping to detect the origin of the summons, they made their way across the crowd. The voice rang out again when they were nearer to the center of the hall; its clarity stood out among the muffled humdrum. The source turned out to be a wee little girl who stood with some papers in her right hand, and a red weapons case clutched firmly in her left. A cascade of auburn hair surrounded her head like a silken cloud, falling past her shoulders in curly waves. Her blazing green eyes narrowed when she saw the approaching trio, and she sighed loudly while brushing off the locks of hair from her forehead.

“About time you arrived . . . had nearly given up on you,” she announced. “I’m Nafi, from the Third Continent. Care to tell me about yourselves?” 

She stood with her head cocked, listening to their introductions. When they finished, Nafi pulled out the topmost sheet from the small sheaf she held in her hand and waved it. 

“Our team information—we’re Core 21 and all our stuff will be numbered per our core. Also got the week’s task list.”

“Thank you,” Dani said, smiling gratefully. “So nice of you to take care of all that.” 

Nafi did not smile back. She simply thrust the piece of paper into Dani’s hand. Maia peeked at the sheet, which listed their names in order.

CORE 21

Dani R. – V – 07656M

Kusha V. – V – 21356Q

Maia A. – V – 87243M

Nafi P. – V – 01938F

Ren L. – R – 110920D

Miir T. – R – 947430X

“These must be the numbers the Tokii assigned to us,” Maia exclaimed, noticing that the number on her lapel matched the one next to her name on the list.

“Yes. Those are unique random identifiers. Every person on this planet is allotted one. ‘V’ stands for Visitor, and ‘R’ implies a Resident,” Nafi explained.

“Ren seems to be a resident of Xif,” Dani said, shooting a questioning glance at Nafi. “Have you found him yet?”

“Oh yes, Ren . . . he’s a little busy showing off his swordsmanship in that corner.” Nafi rolled her eyes and pointed dismissively at the nook behind the staircase where a substantial crowd was gathered.

“Showing off?” Kusha raised a curious eyebrow.

“To say the least,” Nafi scoffed. “If he keeps at it, there’s no chance in the world for us to win this contest. I think—”

“All right, fine,” Dani interrupted, bringing Nafi’s tirade to an abrupt end. “So, we know who Ren is, but what about Miir?”

“He’s a mentor or team counselor. They assigned a senior from Circle Four to guide each core. Whether he’ll meet us here, I don’t know.” Nafi sounded a little disappointed. She tilted her head toward the staircase, clearly referring to Ren. “Was hoping that Mister Show-off there would be able to help us, seeing he is from Xif and all.”

“Let’s go talk to him then,” Maia suggested. 

They walked to the corner of the hall where the crowd now stood in hushed silence. Finding an unobstructed view through the solidly packed gathering was not an easy job, but Maia eventually managed to peek inside. A boy stood at the center in a steady stance, wielding a pole sword that was twice as tall as he was. The curved blade at the end of the long burnished handle of his sword glowed with open menace. Maia could not see his face clearly because of the dark red hood that covered his head and hung over his brow. 

“What is he trying to do?” Maia whispered to a girl who clearly did not appreciate the small talk at the crucial moment. She scowled at Maia before replying.

“He’ll split that liemeberri into four pieces . . . midair. Keep watching.” She pointed at another boy who stood with a small purple fruit in his hand, facing the boy with the pole sword.

The boy with the sword did not even flinch when his assistant tossed the liemeberri in the air. He did not look up, but simply sensed the trajectory of the fruit as it rose, reached the peak, and then started to fall. He moved when the target was a little above the level of his head. In a blur of action, the sword went up and down and then from left to right. The crowd stood in complete silence as the four pieces fell in a neat pile on the floor, forming the whole fruit like it had not been cut at all. The applause broke out immediately. 

Maia stared in awe, dumbstruck by the precise execution. The boy stuck his sword casually into a belt that hung across his shoulders and walked up to a group of rowdy-looking kids. When he started collecting what looked like Xifarian money, Maia blinked, taken aback by his brashness. He was audacious, no doubt about that, daring to put up a wager on his first day at the academy, right before the opening address. Slightly flustered, she started to weave her way through the crowd toward Kusha and Dani who had found a spot to watch from the opposite side. 

A frown was deeply etched on Maia’s face when she stepped on someone’s toes. Looking up, she stifled the gasp of surprise with the utmost difficulty. A boy carrying a long sword on his back and a red hood over his head stared back at her. His intense gaze was fixed on Maia—his dark pupils, bizarre with their spatter of white dots, widened as he studied Maia’s face. 

So . . . this is Ren, our fifth teammate. 

“My eyes won’t burst into flames if that’s what you are expecting,” the boy said in an odd raspy voice. He scrutinized her face one more time. “Oh wait, I get it. You’re not impressed with my little demonstration there.” 

He has noted my disapproving look. Maia wavered for a moment between lying and telling him the truth and decided to go with the latter. “I didn’t like your idea of . . . making money,” she said, trying to choose her words with care, “not that I don’t appreciate your skills.”

“A stranger dares to give me a sermon on my little financial venture. You have guts and . . . I like it,” he replied, a temperamental smile playing on his lips. 

“Well, that’s good, seeing that you two will be working together in a group for a while.” Nafi had strolled over to the pair. “I’m Nafi, and the gutsy one here is Maia. The other two of our core are way over there.” Nafi pointed to the other side of the crowd. “That boy with the red headband is Kusha, and the shining angel with him is Dani. And by the way, I, too, thoroughly despised that betting action you had going. Stunts like these could have us disqualified from the contest. Don’t know about you, but I’m here to win.”

“I’m Ren,” the boy said smugly, ignoring Nafi’s lecture. He pushed the hood off his head revealing a shock of spiky silver-and-black hair. Five silver rings adorned his left ear, matched by rings that decorated each of his fingers. Maia had to admit that the flamboyant persona of their teammate from Xif was meticulously matched by his flashy appearance.

“Already know your name.” Nafi waved the piece of paper listing their group. “Some people have to work when you choose to play.”

“You seem too little to be here, even to play,” Ren retorted.

“I’ll be twelve soon, thank you very much.” Nafi’s eyes flashed. “And since you think I’m too young, let’s hear how old and wise you are?”

“I’m already twelve,” Ren replied with a smirk. “And if you’re looking for wisdom, look no more, you’ve found me.” 

“We’ll see about that.” 

As the two stood measuring each other up, Maia could not help but question the prudence of the Board. She wondered what could have driven them into matching two such abrasive personalities. This did not bode well for her or the team. In the very next moment, she banished the smidgeon of worry from her mind. 

Why should I care if the team falls apart? It would be the greatest possible way to escape the contest and Xif, and if it happened soon enough, she might even be able to catch the caravan to ThulaSu.

Purchase from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Tb71xt 

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Although she’s an engineer by training, writing has been her passion since childhood. Her other loves include extra-hot lattes, fast cars and binge watching sci-fi movies.

Find out more about the futuristic worlds she creates at sgbasu.com. She can also be reached at sg@sgbasu.com.

Books by S.G. Basu:

The Lightbound Saga series (YA Dystopian Science Fiction)

Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy

Maia and the Secrets of Zagran

Maia and Regency Protocol

The Lightbound Saga 3 Book Bundle

The Firefly League-A Lightbound Saga novella

Elementals-The Serial Thriller (Paranormal Science Fiction)

Population Morpheus (Near Apocalyptic Science Fiction)

Jumpers (Paranormal Thriller)You can visit the author’s website at www.sgbasu.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

First Chapter Review: Seventh Dimension – The Door by Lorilyn Roberts 

Seventh Dimension – The Door by Lorilyn Roberts is a Christian young adult fantasy novel.

BLURB: The Door is the first book in the Seventh Dimension Series that combines contemporary, historical, and fantasy elements into a Christian “coming-of-age” story. A curse put on Shale Snyder, because of a secret, shrouds her with insecurity and fear. Following suspension from school, Shale’s best friend isn’t allowed to see her anymore and she feels abandoned by her family. When a stray dog befriends her, she follows it into the woods. There she discovers a door that leads to another world…

COVER: This is a beautiful cover. The colors, the artwork, and the font all work together nicely to create a cover that catches the eye and makes you want to read what the story is about.

FIRST CHAPTER: While hiding, Shale overhears Judd, Rachel, and Chumana talking about a horrible accident. Two years later, on the way home from school, Judd and Shale have a difference of opinion. That’s when Shale sees the white dog for the first time.

KEEP READING: If it weren’t for the cliffhanger of the white dog appearing at the end of the chapter that piqued my curiosity, I’m really not sure. Judd and Chumana are not likeable from the start. Rachel and Shale engage in a conversation that seems to be nothing more than an info dump on Shale’s life. I might keep reading a chapter or two to see how the story progresses. This book has won numerous awards, so maybe it is just starting off slow for me.

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B009R8Q1WC
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rear Guard Publishing, Inc.; 2nd edition (December 19, 2013)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 19, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 3384 KB
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 255 pages

I picked this up as a Kindle freebie in December 2012. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

First Chapter Review: A Nick of Time (The Adventures of Rupert Starbright) by Mike DiCerto

I received a digital copy of this middle grade fantasy novel from the author through Pump Up Your Book.

BLURB: It’s New Year’s Eve in Graysland, but when the final second fails to come Rupert Starbright finds his entire town frozen in time. Rupert and his school crush Rainn Evertree must travel to the Land of Annum to retrieve the stolen second from the nasty and evil Epoch. They will explore a wild, imaginative, and musical world where all the characters of the Zodiac join Rainn in helping Rupert in his most colorful and challenging adventure yet!

COVER: I love the cover art for this novel. It is so fun and colorful. I totally understand what genre I am reading by just looking at it, which always makes me happy because I want the cover to match the genre.

FIRST CHAPTER: Rupert is with his family and the entire town as they wait for the giant metal bellberry leaf to drop. Then everything stopped.

KEEP READING: I am definitely intrigued by this imaginative first chapter. From the very beginning, DiCerto constructs his characters’ world. Now, this is the fourth book in the series, so readers of previous novels will be familiar with Graysland, but for a first time reader, he used descriptions to paint a nice picture.

My only niggle is that I had no idea what the main character looked like or what he was. For all the descriptions, there was none of Rupert. Even though Rupert spoke of what Rainn looked like, I could only assume she was human, which doesn’t match the cover. This didn’t take much away from everything wonderful about the story, and I would definitely continue reading thanks to that neat cliffhanger ending to chapter 1, but I kept waiting to see if I would learn who or what Rupert is.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Zumaya Thresholds (August 16, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 306 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1612710999
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1612710990

Purchase your copy from Amazon!

This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated for in any way.

Visit the author’s website at www.ruperstarbright.com or connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.

Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

An enthralling, action-packed adventure through time awaits you in Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello.

Is seeing dead people a gift or a curse? Fifteen-year-old Rosa is certain it’s the latter. When the ghost of King Tut asks for her help in finding his lost queen, Hesena, Rosa finds herself traveling through different time periods in ancient Egypt pursued by Horemheb who, with the help of evil magic, is determined to stop her.

Wow! What a wild ride. From beginning to end, this is a story of love, adventure, and danger. Carpinello does a fine job in creating Rosa, whose gift interferes with normal life. Her connection to Tut and Hesena may go deeper than even she realizes. The author created a thrilling story where the danger kept building into a final showdown that leaves the reader breathless. Her attention to detail and historical knowledge draw the reader in just as much as the plot.

Sons of the Sphinx is a fabulous tale that lovers of ancient history, time travel stories, and the paranormal will enjoy.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 29, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 182 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1500554936
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1500554934
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00MVGC96Y
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Silver Quill Publishing (October 10, 2014)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 10, 2014

ORDER YOUR COPY

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MVGC96Y

Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1912513951

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sons-of-the-sphinx-1

Tolino: https://www.thalia.de/shop/home/artikeldetails/ID151524898.html

Vivlio: https://shop.vivlio.com/product/9781912513949_9781912513949_10020

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Sons-Sphinx-Cheryl-Carpinello/9781912513956

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1565754127

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sons-of-the-sphinx-cheryl-carpinello/1120481788?ean=2940161911747

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/505876516/Sons-of-the-Sphinx-Ancient-Tales-Legends-1

I received a digital copy from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Joy and Mary Save Christmas by Wayne Harris-Wyrick

Joy and her friend, Mary, are taken on a magical adventure to help Santa and the elves when stolen presents and electrical problems hit the North Pole in Joy and Mary Save Christmas by Wayne Harris-Wyrick.

While playing in Joy’s backyard and lamenting the lack of snow in Oklahoma City at Christmastime, the two girls find themselves transported to the North Pole, where an upset Santa Claus begs for their help. Thanks to Joy’s photographic memory and Mary’s eagerness to help, Christmas might just be saved.

What a fun, magical adventure. Harris-Wyrick has created a seasonal story filled with Christmas magic that will have everyone believing in Santa Claus. Inspired by a dream, this delightful story will charm tweens and teens with inventions only the North Pole might have.

Artist Carrie Salazar provided the cover art and interior illustrations for Joy and Mary Save Christmas. The snowy scenes and glimpses into Santa’s world are so sweet and relay such emotion the reader will feel like they are right there alongside Joy and Mary as they work to save Christmas.

If you enjoy seasonal stories filled with special magic, you need to pick up a copy of Joy and Mary Save Christmas.

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ 4RV Tweens & Teens (September 16, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 60 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1940310512
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1940310510
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 9 – 12 years

I purchased a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.