Sunday, October 17, 2010


Mark Mattison will be signing books on Monday at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Books, 333 E. Grand River, East Lansing.

Scott D. Southard will be signing books on Thursday from 6-8 p.m. at Everybody Reads, Books and Stuff at 2019 East Michigan Ave., Lansing.

Two Michigan authors have released highly entertaining, unusual trade paperbacks that that are aimed at an often-neglected audience.

Each book has strong elements of science fiction and features rousing action that should appeal to young adult male readers as well as grown-ups.

“Commander Chris and the Mystical Orb” by Grand Rapids author Mark Mattison (Gollehon, $9.95) is a nifty debut novel. It introduces young Chris Morinas, a nerdy, unpopular student who’s absorbed in skateboarding and video games.

When a lab experiment goes terribly wrong, he’s transformed and is warped to a distant galaxy and a fleeing spaceship.

If you think this sounds like something straight out of “Star Wars” you’d be right – there’s enough pulse-pounding action to please almost any reader.

He’s got highly interesting crewmembers, including space pirate Ava, who’s stolen the prototype of an alien spaceship. There’s also Pi, the ship’s offbeat android, Zach, a large alien, talking insect and Majubar, another strange alien with a powerful, mystical orb staff.

Fortunately (and happily!) there are no vampires, just lots of fast-paced action that ranks among the best of contemporary space opera. Commander Chris puts his video game skills to use, barely escaping nasty aliens as he faces numerous exciting challenges.

This is a remarkable, enjoyable first novel that may entice readers to discover what wonderful further adventures await in the realm of science fiction.

“My Problem With Doors” by Lansing writer Scott D. Southard (I Publish Press, $15.95), is the latest novel by the author of “3 Days in Rome” and “Megan”.

 It’s an unusual time-travel tale that showcases a young man simply named Jacob, who doesn’t really know what to expect when he opens doors.

It all begins when he stumbles through a door as a toddler, transported to South Africa in the 1870’s. From there, Jacob experiences many fascinating adventures, learning from a patient Master, joining a pirate ship, and bouncing around through time like a ping pong ball.

While he can control his destiny somewhat, he really doesn’t know what to expect when he opens his next door.

His experiences vary greatly from fighting in an early Roman coliseum to having dinner with Jack the Ripper.
He spends time with Lord Byron as well as Percy and Mary Shelley and discovers a fateful true love on an ocean liner.

Southard’s latest novel is a bit disjointed in the beginning but slowly changes into an absorbing, thought- provoking tale.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on October 17, 2010.

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