Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review # 75: The Gaia Wars & Battle for Cascadia by Kenneth G. Bennett

     13 year-old Warren Wilkes has messed up - big time, and now he's running through the Cascade mountains dodging the roar of oncoming dogs and ATVs. Until, that is, he sees the long-lost skeleton of a Native American poking out of the eroded soil, and his child-like curiosity gets the best of him. Here he finds an ancient spear point as well as a mysterious gold medallion which holds a circle of obsidian. Unfortunately, his pursuers are unrelenting, so he grabs the medallion and continues his escapist trek. Little does he know, that the strange artifact he's discovered is about to awaken, not only a hidden side of himself, but an ancient and unearthly evil that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.

     Wow! I definitely didn't expect this book to be so amazing! I have always been a fan of young adult and teen fiction, especially those books that transport the reader into another plain of imagination, and boy, is this one of them; Hello Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lord Of The Rings, meet The Gaia Wars, the next epic teen adventure.Where do I begin? Well, the title, The Gaia Wars, which I thought was catchy, and made me want to jump into some serious science fiction. But it wasn't just science fiction, and it wasn't on some otherworldly planet, but here - on planet Earth; and what a spectacular Earth Kenneth G. Bennett describes. Besides the story, the imagery and detail were one of my favorite aspects of the book. I could see the vastness of the Cascades, the people who once called them home, and the incredible power and fury of our planet - the one that does exist. The fact that there were extraterrestrial beings didn't take anything away from the beautiful reality I absorbed from each page. Those are some landscapes I'd love to see, even though they are now well-toured in my mind. The characters were well-developed and very realistic. Even though Warren was a teenage boy, I found myself relating to him, and I didn't feel like I was reading a book designed just for young adults, but for every age group. From page one I was hooked, like Todd was to the pier. The chapters were the perfect length, the dialogue and the story-line flowed easily, and the pace was quick and full of action and surprise. Without a doubt, this book is going on my top ten list for 2011, and may just be one of my new favorite teen reads. Can't wait for the sequel, Battle for Cascadia, and I am kind of hoping that a possible film version may be in the not-to-distant Earth future!

Rating: Clean Getaway (5/5)

 *** I received this eBook from Novel Publicity and the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

     Continuing from where The Gaia Wars left off, Battle for Cascadia chronicles the lengths Warren and his allies must go to in order to stop the ancient, evil Uhlgoth and his horde from capturing and enslaving the spirit of planet Earth.

     As if the first book wasn't awesome enough, the second book in The Gaia Wars series, Battle for Cascadia, came along and assaulted my imagination with a whole new level of discovery. In line with the first book, the characters were just as dynamic, if not more so; Warren has definitely grown, and with that comes a whole new dimension of his character. Another character that I enjoyed reading about was Thaddeus, but I was really held captive by Kenneth G. Bennett's depiction of Uhlgoth and his otherworldly army. I wasn't expecting to be that unsettled by a set of characters, but I definitely felt their imposing effects. Also, just like in the first book, the descriptions of the Cascade region were breathtaking, and the details were artfully captured on each page. Even as I was reading about the battle, I was marveling at the pictures being painted in my mind. The story-line was even more intricate than the first book, but it was in no way difficult to understand or enjoy, although, I was shocked by some of the plot twists. Battle for Cascadia is a fast-paced page turner that took my emotions and imagination on one heck of a ride. As for the ending, I will eagerly be awaiting the last book in the trilogy because I hate not knowing what's going to happen next, especially since... (sorry, no spoilers)! Still waiting for word on a film version...

Rating: Clean Getaway (5/5)

*** I received these eBooks from Novel Publicity and the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Read the Chapter 3 excerpt BELOW!

Sneak Peak of The Gaia Wars Chapter 3!!!

Chapter 3

The ground climbed steadily and Warren slowed but didn’t stop. He knew how to pace himself, and ran lightly over the soft earth, weaving between the pines.
A plan formed in Warren’s mind. He would make for Pipestone Canyon, roughly two miles distant. He and his uncle had hiked, skied and snowshoed there dozens of times, and he knew it well. Perhaps he could hide among the canyon’s crags, cliffs and massive boulders. Perhaps.
Warren topped a low ridge, entered a clearing, and heard the sudden rush of brawling Nine Mile Creek, two hundred yards ahead. Born in the snowy Cascades, the sparkling stream clattered across the meadow. It was roughly fifteen feet wide here, but shallow, gravel-bottomed and easy to cross.
Now that he was out of the trees, Warren heard other sounds, too: the unmistakable baying of dogs, surprisingly close, and the low, steady whine of ATVs. The Finleys were after him, all right, and they were getting closer.
For the first time, Warren felt truly afraid. He remembered the rage on Mr. Finley’s face. Who could guess what the big brute might do? Or maybe Finley Sr. would simply turn a blind eye as Finley Jr. pulverized him. Junior was a good thirty pounds heavier than Warren, after all.
Wild thoughts flooded Warren’s mind. Maybe the Finleys would tie him up and drag him behind their ATVs, or let their dogs tear him to pieces. He couldn’t guess, and he didn’t want to find out.
Warren had an idea. Instead of running straight across the creek, he would run in it for a while. His shoes and socks would get soaked, but perhaps the ploy would confuse the dogs—at least temporarily. It was a trick he’d read about in numerous adventure stories. Maybe it would help.
He leapt into the clear, frigid water. It was only about a foot deep here, where it crossed the flat, open meadow, but shockingly cold. He sprinted upstream.
Though June meant summer in other parts of the country, it was still early spring here in the higher elevations of the Clement Valley. It had snowed heavily all winter, and the meadows only recently had become snow-free. It had just rained, too, so everything had a fresh, new quality and the air was crisp and clean. Wildflowers carpeted the creek banks.
Warren splashed on—the gravel stream bottom giving a bit under each sloshing footfall. He saw now that the snowmelt and recent rain had caused the clay soil of the stream’s banks to fracture. Here and there great slabs of creek edge had fallen into the water. In some spots, sections of bank teetered, like new islands breaking apart from the mainland after a catastrophic quake. Ahead, the creek jogged sharply to the right.
Warren scanned the meadow. In another hundred feet or so, he’d climb out of the water and run uphill, toward Pipestone Canyon. He sprinted, following the sharp bend in the stream.
That’s when he saw the skeleton.
It was a human skeleton, no doubt about that, lying face up on the soft earth. Warren could see at once what had happened: the skeleton had been buried in the reddish-brown clay of the bank, but a section of creek edge had fractured and fallen away, freeing the skeleton from its tomb. It lay there in broad daylight, as neatly and cleanly as if it had just rolled out of a crypt. Warren stepped forward cautiously and gazed at the remains in silent wonder.
He would have forgotten about the Finleys, his prank and everything else—only now that he’d stopped moving he heard the dogs and whining ATVs once more. Even over the joyful clatter of the creek, the sounds were unmistakable. The Finleys were coming through the forest, within a minute or two of the meadow.
Warren stared at the skeleton. He’d been to enough museums and read enough books to know that it was very old. The bones were light brown and smooth, like aged ivory. It occurred to Warren they might even be fossilized.
The skull, arm and leg bones were large, and the hips narrow, so he guessed he was looking at the remains of a man. The lower jawbone was missing, as were the bones of the right foot. Otherwise, the skeleton appeared intact. Warren leaned closer to the skull, but the empty eye sockets gazing skyward gave him a queer feeling.
He took one last look and …
There was something protruding from the dirt, near the skeleton’s right hip. Warren peered closely.
The “something,” whatever it was, was encrusted with soft clay. It blended with the surrounding soil, and was nearly invisible.
Warren gently traced the object with his fingers, pried some of the clay away, and understood. It was a pouch: leather, bound at the top with a fragment of cord.
Warren teased more soil from the object, marveling that the leather was still supple and intact. Even the design on the face of the pouch—a fine red spiral—had somehow been preserved inside the clay tomb of the creek bank.
Carefully, painstakingly, Warren lifted the pouch free from the soil, loosened the cord, and spilled the contents out.
The first artifact to tumble onto the creek bank—into the sunlight—was a stone spear point. It was about five inches long, brownish-yellow and lovingly crafted. It was still razor sharp, by the look of it.
The spear point made Warren gasp. But the object that thudded onto the bank after it stopped his heart.
It was a heavy, flat medallion of gleaming, hammered gold, inset with sparkling blue gems.
Dazzlingly beautiful, the medallion (medallion was the first word that came to Warren’s mind) could easily have been the centerpiece of a great king’s crown, or of a royal necklace. The object had seven equal sides.
A heptagon, Warren thought. It was a term he’d learned in last semester’s math.
Warren’s hand shook as he traced the perimeter of the heptagon with one finger. The object was about four inches across, and twice as thick as the old silver dollars in his uncle’s coin collection.
In the center of the heptagon was set a perfect circle of highly polished obsidian. The dazzling blue gems—there were seven of them, as well—were embedded in the gold and placed evenly about the obsidian circle. Warren turned the medallion over and saw that the back consisted of gleaming, hammered gold only.
He lifted the object slowly, reverently. It fit neatly in the palm of his hand and was so bright that it flashed in the warm morning light. It was beautiful. It was mesmerizing. It was …
Warren heard sudden, frenzied barking from the forest below and jumped to his feet. How had they scaled the hill so fast? How long had he been kneeling beside the skeleton? With a leap up the bank, he was off once more, bounding across the meadow and toward the sheltering forest beyond.
Warren had run perhaps fifteen feet when he realized he’d left the spear point with the skeleton. No time to retrieve it now. By the sound of it, the Finleys’ dogs would burst into the clearing at any moment. He had to make it to the trees—had to disappear into the forest—if he was to have any hope of escaping.


  1. Awesome review, Allizabeth. I laughed out loud when I read this part: "From page one I was hooked, like Todd was to the pier." You have a real talent for summing up what makes books exciting. Maybe you can spearhead the Gaia Wars film project :-D

  2. Allizabeth, thank you for giving my books a home on your cool blog and for the fabulous, beautifully-written reviews. I'm honored that The Gaia Wars made your Top 10 list for 2011! Thanks also for posting on Amazon and Goodreads! So appreciate that. Very best wishes,

  3. I would love to read The Gaia Wars. The fact that it made your top 10 of the year list- is quite a recommendation. I think this is a book I would enjoy. I put it on my TBR list- along with the sequel. Awesome review!