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Author Archives: Nthato Morakabi

Friday Fiction: The Best Gift

Prompt comes courtesy of my good friend and fellow author/blogger, Rachel Poli:

Write about a character who gets something special they’ve always wanted.

The Best Gift

Words: 596


The idea of a Secret Santa may as well be as old as the very concept of merry ol’ St. Nicholas. St. Dominic’s Primary School became the haven of such a tradition in its truest form since the school’s conception in 1895, when Sister Ignatius placed square, brown-paper packages within the 85 desks of her students prior the last day of school. The following day was followed by a chorus of joyous squeals as boys and girls ripped through paper and tape to find within the objects of their uttermost desire. The best gift.

As tradition wore on through the years, even when money seemed hard to come by, there happened to be one particular child with an almost unattainable desire. One that could not be wrapped save for in prayer. Furtive supplications cast to the Almighty in hopes of repairing broken families, sick fathers and mothers, dying brothers and sisters, and on more than enough occasion, for death’s repeal.

Where these gifts could not be attained, it was their next appealed desire wrapped and placed with the more modern school desks. The School Governing Body, with now over 300 students within the expanded bricked building, would question how such a tradition could be continued, and as with every Principal that had followed Sister Ignatius’ example would proclaim to those who questioned the gifts,

“The Lord provides.”

And truly, each year, He did.

As corporate and government and school slowly intertwined with the passing of time, and the education system turned into a business venture rather than a place of tutelage, the nuns of previous generations were replaced with CEOs and businessmen toting degrees and masters in Business Management. They did not, however, truly possess the spiritual depth and leadership of their predecessors. And yet, despite all of this, every year, the students of St. Dominic’s Primary School, received their annual gifts out of miraculous providence.

In the year 1995, on the last day of school following the newly elected Principal, as the muted excitement, and muffled bubbles of laughter echoed across the span of the school, there came a single ear-splitting scream. The school fell into utter silence. As though the wind itself had ceased to exist, the trees shaken to quiet, and the hum of traffic come to a standstill. Hairs on napes rose. Flowing blood seemingly turned to ice and coursed through each student and teacher alike as a virus through a body.

Young Francis had opened his package with frenzied anticipation, his particular gift sizable in comparison to his peers, and decidedly oddly shaped in almost rotund oblong contours. As the paper ripped between his fingers, he was struck by an odd smell. One that reminded him of his lunch tin when he had left it in the playground for a week and opened the lid to find the festering green and white mould growing within. Only this smell seemed different. There was also a sticky liquid trailing along the inside and staining his palms scarlet. By now the entire classroom had turned to see what he’d received. Curiousity emblazoned on rapt young eyes, lips parting in awe and wonder. At last Francis ripped the entire wrapping off, arms rising as expanded energy threw them upwards. For a moment he could only stare at the thing rolling out from the paper to stare up at him with glazed eye sockets and a gaping abyss marking misshapen ebony dentures. Only he couldn’t deny the jade green orbs gazing past and through him. For there sitting on his desk… was the head of his father.


Word to the wise: Don’t read The King in Yellow, and expect your mind to remain the same. See the true face of horror.

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Aaru – David Meredith #BookReview

Title:
Aaru

Author:
David Meredith

Genre:
Science Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review

Rating:

A promising 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

“…Death and the stillness of death are the only things certain and common to all in this future…”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure. A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model.

Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.
What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

First Thoughts

The last book I read written by David Meredith was a Snow White retelling, or rather post Snow White, written in beautiful, flowing tones reflecting the fantastical fairy tale world. This book moves across that genre slightly to a more modern, science based world. The difference in style caught me off guard when I started reading. I didn’t know what to expect for the remainder of the book. After a rather slow start it started to pick up towards the end and into a brilliant end.

Also, I liked the references to real life characters and places, altered for copyright reasons I’m sure. Jonas Perry – I see what you did there Mr Meredith.

The Story

The story focuses on two main characters. Rose is sick and dying. Her hope comes one day in the form of a virtual paradise called Aaru, built by Elysian Industries (side note: Elysian means relating to or characteristic of heaven or paradise). Koren is Rose’s younger sister who looks up to her older sister and hates seeing Rose on her deathbed. Once Rose is sent to Aaru, she becomes the spokesperson for Aaru as the grief stricken sister who can still be with her now virtually immortal sister.

What begins as a beautiful after life for both sisters, they soon learn to come to grips with the various aspects of their new lives. Rose in the virtual world questions what it all is. Koren realises that being a celebrity is not all its made to be.

Lastly, there comes an intense danger to both sisters that completely rocks the very foundation of their new lives. I want to say more but it will become a spoiler so…

Writing

Initially the book was a bit slow. In a sense boring, and as much as I understand it was Mr. Meredith’s way of getting us to know the characters, some of it felt a little to drawn out. In my opinion we spent too much time with Rose in hospital, though I guess it helped to ground me in the idea that she was practically hopeless. Which makes the introduction of Aaru all the more compelling both to me as a reader, and to Rose as the recipient.

While I appreciated the slight references to real world characters (Jonas Perry, Ronaldo Casillas etc), it also ruined the illusion that this particular story is taking place on “this” Earth or “this” reality. It’s nothing major but it did distract me because in my head I kept changing in-book characters with their actual real-life counterparts.

 

The real story here in Aaru, despite the whole thing with Koren and Rose, is this idea of life after death. There were some religious crazies making appearances, questioning the whole idea of God, and how Elysian Industries is in a sense playing God. Elysian then states they are not playing God, but rather providing a platform where those who are about to die can continue to live on in their virtual world. In Aaru. But… are they really living though?

Unfortunately with these kinds of books, Christians are never depicted as anything other than ignorant idiots believing some old tome with religious zealousness that has no actual understanding of God. Using the bible as a means to justify their unjustified beliefs. Its an unfair portrayal and one held by too many people. Sadly, sometimes its true. (End Rant)

From the Christian perspective of not just reading the bible but learning of God’s character and our role (humans) as His creation, the soul cannot be downloaded into a computer. The mind? Sure. It is data after all.  The question all these Sci-fi kinds of stories ask is: Is the mind extracted into data, living as a remnant of the actual person, the person themselves? Or are they merely mind-data acting as data is expected to, in light of the tons of memories stored in hard drives, defining who they, as the “mind-data”, are supposed to be? I think of Transcendence with Johnny Depp.

 

Final Thoughts

Once I got through to halfway in the book, the whole story dynamic changed. It changed in the sense that there was finally some action. It’s all good and well to read about a soccer match straight out of Inazuma Eleven or Shaolin Soccer or reading about people flying and creating mansions (oh the biblical references in this book), and the romance building up, but all of this is the fluff around the real story. The story which is the idea of life after death, as explained above, but also the privacy and safety of being a celebrity.

The second half turned into a brilliant thriller and I loved every part after that. If the book had started out this way, I might have enjoyed it better. There were some uncomfortable scenes, necessary for the story, and this second half just didn’t hold back at all. To that, I give Mr. Meredith great credit.

All in all, if the second book (which is part of the first book in the Aaru Cycle) continues where this book ends off, I’ll be very happy.


Aaru was published July 9th, 2017.

Did you know: David Meredith teaches English in the Nashville area. This is his second published book.

About Author

David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City, Tennessee. He received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Author Page: DavidMeredithWriting


Are you an author who wants your book reviewed? Contact me on my site: NthatoMorakabi.com

Me

Daily I struggle through the emotions that seem to define me. As though who I am right now is who I was yesterday and who I will be tomorrow.

Mortom by Erik Therme #Recommendation #MTW2018

Andy Crowl barely knew his recently deceased cousin, Craig Moore, so he’s especially surprised to be named as the sole beneficiary in Craig’s will. Not that there’s much to inherit: just an empty bank account and a run-down house.

Once Andy arrives in the town of Mortom, however, he’s drawn into his puzzle-obsessed cousin’s true legacy: a twisted and ominous treasure hunt. Beckoned by macabre clues of dead rats and cemetery keys, Andy jumps into the game, hoping to discover untold wealth. But unsavory secrets—and unanswered questions about Craig’s untimely demise—arise at every turn, leading Andy to wonder if he’s playing the game…or if the game is playing him.

Something’s rotten in Mortom. And this dead man’s game might not be all that Andy is doomed to lose.


It’s around that time of the year again for Mystery Thriller Week #MTW2018. Every year the MTW blog creates a buzz for Thriller/Mystery books and lets readers and authors congregate to celebrate the genre. I had the pleasure of reviewing Michael Smorenburg’s LifeGames Corporation the last time. This time I will be reviewing Mortom, which I have received from Erike Therme author of the book.

Find out more about Mystery Thriller Week.

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Join Erik’s mailing list to be notified of new releases and author giveaways: http://eepurl.com/cD1F8L

Words I Could Never Say – Ole’s Truth #Poetry

Today’s poem comes courtesy of my good friend Olerato from Ole’s Truth. Enjoy.


Every day I’m plagued by the words I could never say. I constantly feel them clawing at the inside of my throat, scratching and buzzing like locusts fighting to see the light.

My belly which once quivered and quaked with the mirth of childish laughter and life now sits stagnant, infected by the stillness of the dead. The waters of youthful love turned bloody and filled with the carcasses of longings that lay repressed; feelings never expressed; issues never addressed.

From the crimson waters of my belly rush vengeful curses like starving frogs to feed on the frightful buzzing of my insecurities that swarm like gnats; inky black gnats trapped between my ribs and caged behind my teeth. The ones that survive live to swarm another day before their bodies fall like poisoned rain and kill the grass that lines the spirit. The spirit sustaining hope which is the livestock to my soul.

I lay awake at night blocking out the many voices in my head that scream like mothers mourning first born sons among the dead; clutching lifeless heads to heaving chests. My aching soul covered in festering boils caused by the branding irons of the words I never said.

 

Tell out my soul ye servants of the Lord in whom I doubt; the shapeshifting menace that breathed air into my nostrils and sucked the breath that fans the flames of my convictions from my lips.

Perhaps I was molded to know the cold kiss of cowardice, raised from clay to value thoughts of others and fear of what the world may say.

A capitalist nigger pieced together from my burning childhood boldness to be a perfect soldier, lips sealed together by a materialistic world’s coldness.

I meditate within myself the reasons behind my mouth that moves like the swinging door of an abandoned windswept house.

I look in the mirror and find the only reason that makes sense is the one my pride grind my bones to dust to hide…I’m a coward.

 

I’m a coward who’d rather have his tongue cling to the roof of his mouth than say I love you, even though I choke on the fumes of my burning desire for you and drown in endless expressions of adoration of you. My skin tightens and breath catches counting the seconds to the next reprieve that is your touch.

I hide away my feelings for fear of looking weak all though the fear of looking weak is the new weakness of the week, cause my fears are a mirage; the barren wasteland that is my life’s joke shifting shape, weight and distance, difficult to see but their presence always felt.

So I write the words. Fight these verbs. Wrench open these scars till they become eyes brave enough to cry my tears or mouths bold enough to curse my fears.

I grapple the spirits that roam the deep of my mind as they watch me sleep. I break the shackles of being with verse and put these fears inside a hearse to leave space inside my heart to fill with joy till fit to burst.

I’ll cry, ‘freedom, this is my pain’ and never fear these feelings again as my spirit sings in the rain, ‘I am the cosmic song of hope, creation hums my refrain’.


Remember, we’re opening a poetry platform for other aspiring poets too, so if you’re feeling moved by the writing spirit to submit one, either comment or use the contact me form.

River of Teeth Series by Sarah Gailey #Recommendation

 

In 2017 Sarah Gailey made her debut with River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow, two action-packed novellas that introduced readers to an alternate America in which hippos rule the colossal swamp that was once the Mississippi River. Now readers have the chance to own both novellas in American Hippo, a single, beautiful volume.
Years ago, in an America that never was, the United States government introduced herds of hippos to the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This plan failed to take into account some key facts about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

By the 1890s, the vast bayou that was once America’s greatest waterway belongs to feral hippos, and Winslow Houndstooth has been contracted to take it back. To do so, he will gather a crew of the damnedest cons, outlaws, and assassins to ever ride a hippo. American Hippo is the story of their fortunes, their failures, and his revenge.


I read through this series thanks to Gamecca Magazine and Tor.com and must say they were a truly unique read with the main focus on hippos and Southern American lifestyle. Definitely recommend these.

Hugo and Campbell award finalist Sarah Gailey is an internationally-published writer of fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction has been published by Mashable and the Boston Globe, and she is a regular contributor for Tor.com and Barnes & Noble. Her most recent fiction credits include Mothership Zeta, Fireside Fiction, and the Speculative Bookshop Anthology. Her debut novella duology, River of Teeth, was published in 2017 via Tor.com. She has a novel forthcoming from Tor Books in Spring 2019.

Gailey lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon with her two scrappy dogs. You can find links to her work at www.sarahgailey.com; find her on social media @gaileyfrey.

Rose Coloured Bubble – #Poetry

Radiating from eyes rimmed-red was all the disdain and pain pouring down like rain to water our feet in a puddle.

Underwhelmed by the overwhelming restrain and the wax and wane of a heart-in-a-hurricane constricting like a python’s cuddle.

Ball and chain, pour out that celebratory champagne, the blood stain left on hands and hearts and minds turned to rubble.

Yes let’s burn through the methane, put kindle to propane and cut through the vein in vain while we remain scattered across this universal terrain that binds us in a rose-coloured bubble.


Tuesday poetry is coming back and I will be collaborating with Olerato of Ole’s Truth to bring you weekly poetry. We’re opening this platform for other aspiring poets too, so if you’re feeling moved by the writing spirit to submit one, either comment or use the contact me form.

The Armored Saint #Recommendation

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.


I’ll be reviewing this book for Gamecca Magazine. Shout out to TOR.com for bringing out such amazing books and keeping us reading.

PS: I was at Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall and I almost decided that money didn’t matter, only every book that existed on those shelves. Such beautiful books. Most of which have showed up on this blog as To Read or a recommendation. Someone want to buy me an Exclusive Books? I promise I’ll transform it into an amazing library where we can have cookies and coffee/tea while indulging in the beauty and joy of reading.

Anyone?

#NaNoWriMo Progress: Week 2

We all struggle when it comes to writing, right? I think we hear and cry out more “Woe is me” during NaNo than any other time. As though the words that seek to escape the prison of our mind have suddenly realised it’s better inside their familiar cell.

SO imagine my surprise when 22,309 words later I’m still working through the first arc of my NaNo novel and there’s still more coming. As though my Word document has become an anthill and the little critters are coming home to roost. (Do ants roost?)

The Actual Struggle

I think I’ve said this before in my previous NaNo progress post that my struggle is not with the words themselves but the story. At first it was how to start, then for a while it was where it was all going. Now its pulling back from bearing the emotions my characters experience as they guide me through their journey. Becoming a conduit for their tales of woe.

It’s one of the greatest feelings as a writer (and reader) when these fictional people created for the sake of entertainment become more than just characters in a book. They manifest into living souls tugging at the heart and mind and making you scream, “Don’t go in there! It’s a trap.” then watching them fall into the trap to leave you hoping with all your might that they escape.

However as the author I not only set up the trap, but drive circumstances forcing my characters towards that trap, make them fall in and then deciding whether or not the escape. Sometimes these characters take the reigns and tug them away from me long enough to make their own choices before I can regain control. As though they were alive.

It also scares me how much control they have once I’m digging into the writing and the real world disappears around me. As though I’ve plugged into a virtual reality headset that brings my story to life and I live through it, watching it unfold while also guiding where, how, who, and why everything is happening.

Summon the Great Editor

I would but I’m not allowed to during NaNoWriMo. You know that right? Also, I have an aversion to editing but as I’ve been writing, I discovered so many things about the style I want to use. I think the first part of my novel is all first person, then I switched to normal third person, and now, as my good friend Ole would say (shout out to you dude) about my current writing style, “That’s some wedding floral arrangement level of floweriness”.

So now I want to go back and rewrite everything with that same style but… perhaps in December. Anyway, I have to get back to writing now.

Onward to 50K and more.

The Secret History #Recommendation

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.


I saw this on Chitra’s blog and thought it sounded like a great premise and probably would make a fascinating film too.

The girl and death

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a different kind of evolution

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Author & Blogger

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Read, Sav, Read.

| M.F.A. Student | B.A. in English | Writer | Lover of books | 2017 Book Count: 88 | 2018 Book Count: 4 |

Liam Birkner: Whiskey and Words

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PROMPTUARIUM

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