RSS Feed

Tag Archives: review

Grey Magic by JT Lawrence – Review

Title: Grey Magic

Author: J.T. Lawrence

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from the author for an honest review. Currently available on Amazon.

Synopsis:

No one appreciates the irony of her situation more than Raven Kane: she’s a burnt-out witch. Raven is a hip, hexing-and-texting sorceress – or at least, she used to be.

Now her ancient timber house is falling down around her, and the bank wants to repossess it. Nothing would make her cantankerous neighbour happier than seeing Raven and her messy menagerie out on the street. To add to her stress, the reckless Wicked Witches are causing mischief and it’s her job to reign them in. Worst of all is that her magic seems to be fading.

Just as everything seems to be too much to handle, there’s a knock on the (splintering) door. A not-unattractive man appears in her life: not to save her, as a fairytale would have you believe, but to arrest her for the murder of one of her clients. It wouldn’t be that bad for Raven, except that she knows she’s guilty.

Review:

First Thoughts

First and foremost, I thought this was a great book. It’s a fresh take on the whole “magic” and “witches” perspective. Grounds it in a natural and almost believable setting of earthly charms. Very apt for a South African novel considering the African cultural perspective on magic.

The entire story kept its center around the idea of “Grey Magic”, this idea that intention has nothing to do with consequence. Where something with the best of intentions can spiral towards a dark consequence.

There were a few inconsistencies or perhaps better to call them irregularities in the story, but they weren’t so major as to derail the story. They did break my sense of suspended disbelief though and it took a while to reign myself back in.

Writing

The writing flows well from beginning to end. It’s clear there was a good deal of research invested into the novel. Not only in execution of  the magic and spells, but the descriptions that captured places and events not rooted in our current age.

The clever use of technology and social media was also well written. If one can communicate with someone from across the world through Twitter, why not tweet spells and magical advice too. Perhaps we need more tech savvy-witches.

Raven, the main character, remains true to herself throughout the novel. Even as the story starts with Raven displaying sarcasm and wit, it’s all just building towards her self-discovery. The rest of the characters were also well captured. From detective Kruger, to Father Stephen Bishop, and the coven of witches with well-meaning agendas. I’d love to break each character down but then… I’d spoil the book for you. Some clever twists there.

I did feel as though their roles were to set Raven up as the main character. Thankfully their individual personalities made up for that.

Final Thoughts

Overall the novel is great. I really enjoyed the interconnected symbols appearing through the course of the novel. Ravens, fire, Fenrir and more. It was a beautiful amalgamation of fate, destiny and karma swirling about.

I was a bit disconcerted by the modern pitchfork wielding mob and the whole mob mentality, especially considering our time frame. Also the types of people who had shown up don’t seem like mob-mentality people, unless that’s just my ignorance speaking.

The criticism of the Christian ethos made me roll my eyes, as though every Christian is an ignorant fundamentalist with no concept of the bible (or God) they read. Picking and choosing context for their purposes. It’s not something I’ll get into now but it did annoy a bit.

Nonetheless it culminated perfectly, aligning all of the obstacles that had plagued Raven in the beginning to a perfect conclusion of karma, and the Grey Magic that spilled through lifetimes.

Rating: An enjoyable 3 out of 5


JT Lawrence

JT Lawrence is an author, playwright and bookdealer based in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. She is the mother of two small boys and lives in a house with a red front door.

She has written various plays for SAFM including ‘The Shelter’, ‘Unspilling the Milk’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, and serials, the most recent being the crime drama ‘Jigsaw’. Her short story collection ‘Sticky Fingers’ was broadcast in the last quarter of 2015, and will be available as a paperback and ebook in 2016.

Her first novel, ‘The Memory of Water’ (2011), is about a writer who would do anything for a story. Her 2015 offering, ‘Why You Were Taken’is a pre-dystopian sci-fi thriller starring a synaesthete, and takes place is a futuristic Jo’burg burdened by infertility and a water crisis. It was optioned by the national broadcaster, SABC, for a radio adaption.

She is currently working on her new novel, ‘Grey Magic’, slated for December 2016, about an eccentric modern-day witch, accused of murder, who must explore her past lives in order to keep her freedom — and find her way back to magic.

Website: Pulpbooks

Amazon: J.T. Lawrence

Twitter: @pulpbooks

Facebook: facebook.com/JanitaTLawrence

Instagram: pulp_junkie


Have you read anything interesting lately?

Remember to sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com.

The Warren by Brian Evenson – Review

Title: The Warren

Author: Brian Evenson

Genre: Science Fiction

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 88.

Synopsis:

X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one—or many—but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X.

He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be.

But when he discovers the existence of another—above ground, outside the protection of the Warren—X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

Review:

First Thoughts

X, if that is his name, is a but a single person. Within him lies the imprinted personalities of others before him, salvaged minds seeking to keep knowledge within the last remaining human. However, X begins to question his humanity when he discovers another on the surface of what he calls, the Warren. Things begin to spin out of control as the two wrestle with an existential question: what makes one human.

I won’t say this was an easy read. Sometimes confusing. Sometimes annoying. Most importantly, it really did what it’s supposed to do: make us question the concept of what makes us human.

Writing

The Warren is a fascinating science fiction thriller, a dive into the mind of a man with multiple-personas within him. Only they aren’t just personas, bu the minds of people who came before X. Imprinting what remained of their minds into the remaining living being. The really creepy part was when X described the opening of eyes within his mind, as the individuals grew coherent of the fact that they too are fragmented minds living within another conscious mind. *shivers

Unable to comprehend the individuals within, X begins to seek out questions regarding his existence in the Warren. The personalities don’t share much and his only other source of knowledge is Monitor, a computer of some sort. It carries some of the information from before, but not enough to make a lot of sense to the questions that X asks. Questions that plague his existence. The most pertinent question, especially when X finds another human on the surface of the Warren, is: what makes someone human.

In light of this, you can imagine the conversations that occur. Also, the surface above the Warren is poisonous to all who stand in its air, and no one who has left has come back. Only there’s no way to know why it’s so bad, and why this person on the surface even exists. The only way to survive is to look for resources and continue your existence yet even resources have become scarce.

Not only that but imagine being the only living person with just a computer as your companion, trying to figure out who or what you are, and who the other person could possibly be. Would you risk the possibility of death to find out? Or continue in the routine of solitude and scouring where you can for resources.

Final Thoughts

Brian Evenson captures the isolation and alienation really well. One can almost imagine the paranoia and anxiety of solitude and confusion. Of having multiple minds just sitting in the darkness of your mind. More importantly, of trying to understand the world around you when there’s nothing to truly help. Except for the one thing you know you shouldn’t… exploring the surface.

Rating: A borderline 3 out of 5


What are you currently reading?

Remember to sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com.

 

 

Greedy Pigs by Matt Wallace – Review

Title: Greedy Pigs (Sin du Jour #5)

Author: Matt Wallace

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 94.

Synopsis:

The Sin du Jour crew caters to the Shadow Government in Greedy Pigs, Matt Wallace’s fifth Sin du Jour Affair

I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.

Politics is a dirty game. When the team at Sin du Jour accidentally caters a meal for the President of the United States and his entourage, they discover a conspiracy that has been in place since before living memory. Meanwhile, the Shadow Government that oversees the co-existence of the natural and supernatural worlds is under threat from the most unlikely of sources.

It s up to one member of the Sin du Jour staff to prevent war on an unimaginable scale.

Between courses, naturally.

Review:

First Thoughts

 

First I just want to say I love the very concept of chefs and cooks who cater to both humans and supernatural entities. A clandestine operation in the most unexpected setting.

Sin Du Jour is definitely one of my favourite series, it just unfortunate how each novella is so short, and yet it is that very fact that makes the stories work.

This fifth book in the Sin Du Jour series is yet another great piece of writing from the talented Matt Wallace. He keeps the drama and intrigue going with just enough wit to lighten the load while getting the point across. Character growth. Excellent setting. Perfect cliff hanger ending. Looking forward to the next book.

 

Writing

The writing is as crisp and humourous as usual, with a weighty, earnest realism to it. Events from Idle Ingredients continue to escalate when politics came in to play and a massive war creeps to the fore. The staff members are still reeling from the last demonic entity that entrapped them, and the consequences of their actions haunt them.

What I enjoyed most about the writing, is how well the characters are captured. There was growth to the main female character Lena, and a foreshadowing of what is to come. Nikki brings a different perspective to the second female character the novel follows. Both are strong and as similar as they are different. I like both.

The roster of characters balances out well and adds a dynamic experience to reading the novel. We don’t see the whole team this time around, but Bronc the main chef and Darren are suffering more after the last encounter. How all of this will proceed opens up a ton of speculation. And let’s not talk about the big baddie who remains in shadow yet oozes an ominous presence throughout the books.

A couple of recognizable celebrities make cameos, and Matt Wallace doesn’t need to use names to capture their essence. You’ll know immediately when you read them. It’s clever. It’s sneaky. It’s great!

Final Thoughts

Perhaps I was a bit biased when I read the book, considering how well I enjoyed it. I can’t say if I did found anything wrong with the pace, the writing or the characters. I don’t know when the next book will be available, but I hope I get a chance to read that too.

Rating: A gratifying 4 out of 5


What book have you read with a unique setting and character roster? Is there a series out there you enjoyed immensely? What are you currently reading?

Remember to sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com.

Blood Moon by John David Bethel – Review

Title: Blood Moon

Author: John David Bethel

Genre: Psychological Crime Thriller

Book procurement: I was contacted by the author for an honest review.

Synopsis:

On a hot, steamy afternoon in Miami, Cuban-American businessman Recidio Suarez is brutally beaten and abducted. Handcuffed, shackled and blindfolded, he has no idea why he has been targeted. What he discovers is heart-stopping. What he endures during almost a month of captivity compares only to the most horrendous stories of prisoners of war. He is tortured, and under the threat of death, and worse – the rape of his wife and torture of his children – Suarez is forced to hand over his multi-million dollar holdings to his captors.

Suarez survives and then spends the next few months staying one step ahead of the murderous pack. During this time, he and his lawyer, Nolan Stevens – a former Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office of the FBI – are having difficulties convincing the Miami-Dade Police Department that a crime has been committed. Their efforts are complicated by Steven’s difficult history with the head of the MDPD Special Investigations Division, who is not interested in pursuing the case.

Review:

First Thoughts

It’s quite difficult to write a review on such a tragic story. To filter past the horrendous events the story tells, to focus on seemingly petty things such as writing style, emotion and general narrative devices used. However all of these combined make for compelling story telling which Blood Moon was not.

Nonetheless, the story begins right into the action. We get a glimpse of the man that is Recidio Suarez. We experience his kidnapping, and his confusion. As the story unfolds, and characters come to light, there was a sense of sickness at the inhumanity his kidnappers were willing to display.

Writing

From a writing perspective, Blood Moon was not thrilling. Not suspenseful. This is due to how close the novel was to the truth. Sitting through the thirty days of a man’s torture is not supposed to be fun or easy or thrilling, and on that merit, Blood Moon is spot on. At the same time, without all the context of “based on a true story”, there isn’t anything gripping about the story. Disturbing, yes, but not engaging.

I did not relate to, or felt moved by Recidio’s perilous situation. The writing was more of a journal than a delve into the frayed mind of a man who is on the brink of losing everything. No internal monologues. No thoughts about “what ifs” or “could haves” or anything that would give us an emotional tie-in during the horror of his experience. Just the gritty day to day of surviving. Not to undermine what he went through, but a little humanity would have made it more digestible.

Humour was thrown in here and there to show how Recidio was working to cope with the fact that he’d been kidnapped and would most likely end up dead. The unlikely friendship forming also broke the monotony. The violence was gruesome, descriptions visceral, and it all made me wonder just how depraved humans can be.

Final Thoughts

While this wasn’t my favourite book to read, it was respectable. I applaud John Bethel for the amount of research and effort he must have put in to write this novel true enough to the actual tragedy. The foreword and afterword put a real perspective on the whole thing. That it’s not just a fictional tale, but a reminder of a tragedy re-written in fictional form.

Rating: A fair 3 out of 5


J. David Bethel is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. He has been published in popular consumer magazines and respected political journals. He is the author of Evil Town, a novel of political intrigue that is receiving praise from a number of Washington opinion leaders

Facebook: Facebook.com/Inspiredbytruecrime

Amazon: John David Bethel


Have you read any books based on real events? How did that affect you during and after reading? Would you recommend any?

You can sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com

Wednesday Book Review: Mapping the Interior

Title: Mapping the Interior

Author: Stephen Graham Jones

Genre: Horror

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 94.

Synopsis:

Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees another person stepping through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew.

The house is the kind of wrong place where you can lose yourself and find things you’d rather not have. Over the course of a few nights, the boy tries to map out his house in an effort that puts his little brother in the worst danger, and puts him in the position to save them . . . at terrible cost.

Review:

First Thoughts

I came away from this book feeling deeply troubled in a way that only good horror stories can manage. It’s not just about the innocence of young Junior during the whole narration, but his naivety that only makes things worse. As a Native American, moving into an obscure neighbourhood, there are a number of challenges they already have to face.  Let alone a mother hoping to raise two boys after their father dies mysteriously at the reservation. And Juniors little brother already has his own learning problems.

And that ending though, gee I was not expecting that. Troubled indeed.

Writing

The writing is fast paced. Moving between the scenes with clarity and a touch of mystery. Told from the perspective of an older Junior, we see just how traumatic his childhood was, following the dark silhouette of his dead father disappearing through a doorway. The desperation of a child hoping to reconnect with his father, regardless of the monster he may have become. It is melancholic woe pushing this story forward.

 

At the same time, there are a number of horrific episodes that occur. I loved it! I mean… you know… its horror. How Junior is driven by hope through all of these numerous episodes is in itself naive and just sad. Yet brings a realism that I could relate to.

There are a number of characters who appear alongside Junior. His brother has a learning disability that makes him the target of bullies. Junior’s mother is struggling to rebuild her life, as her kids always come first. Junior himself sees his role as both big brother and man of the house. It’s a story of broken people in a broken world.

Final Thoughts

While I may classify this book as a horror, it reminds me of the Stephen King sort of horror. Where the story is not about the evil entity roused from an Indian burial ground (Classic King ain’t it?) but a story about the people who have to deal with it. It’s a story about Junior, and his brother, his mother, and the community. And it’s a great read.

Rating: A melancholic 4 out of 5


If you would like to support my novel writing efforts, with really cool exclusive content, you can check out my Patreon here: Patreon/NthatoMorakabi.

You can sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com

Wednesday Book Review: Endgame – Sky Key

Title: Sky Key – An Endgame Novel #2

Author: James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Genre: YA / Action

Book procurement: Bought from my new favourite bookstore Estoril Books.

Synopsis:

Endgame is here. Earth Key has been found. Two keys—and nine Players—remain. The keys must be found, and only one Player can win.

Queens, New York. Aisling Kopp believes the unthinkable: that Endgame can be stopped. But before she can get home to regroup, she is approached by the CIA. They know about Endgame. And they have their own ideas about how it should be Played. Ideas that could change everything.

Kingdom of Aksum, Ethiopia. Hilal ibn Isa al-Salt narrowly survived an attack that leaves him horribly disfigured. He now knows something the other Players do not. But the Aksumites have a secret that is unique to their line. A secret that can help redeem humanity—and maybe even be used to help defeat the beings behind Endgame.

London, England. Sarah Alopay has found the first key. She is with Jago—and they are winning.But getting Earth Key has come at a great cost to Sarah. The only thing that keeps the demons at bay is Playing. Playing to win.

Sky Key—wherever it is, whatever it is—is next. And the nine remaining Players will stop at nothing to get it.

Review:

First Thoughts

Well what can I say, I loved the first book. It was riveting and action packed and those players were ruthless. Some were human to a good degree. Others were monsters. This second book continues the ongoing saga to save humanity from Endgame… but the rules are changing. It’s amazing to see how at one point everyone was moving in one direction and then suddenly they are moving in a different direction. It’s brilliant.

Writing

Nothing has changed from the initial book in terms of writing. We switch between the remaining Players as they seek out Sky Key, the second of three keys that are supposed to save their line from Endgame – a world ending cataclsymic event.

Every character is unique. They have their own quirks that make them not only the best Players, but the best of who they each are as Players. Assassins. Snipers. Fighters. They are not only resourceful, but they are mentally amazing. I could never think, react or even manage to survive like they do. And the writing switching between the characters allows you to see from their own perspectives. There were times when I was freaking out because Player A knew Player B was approaching and Player B didn’t know! I was reading as fast as I could to get to the encounters! I almost cried at one point.

It’s interesting to see how some of the Players have changed during the course of the game. Moving from determined killer to compassionate killer. Other’s spiraling head first into pure psychotic behaviour. It’s brilliant.

Final Thoughts

Although I feel the ending is somewhat anti-climatic, it was a fair ending. A good ending. A proper ending. The first few hundred pages of the book I’m just trying to see where everyone is going. We as the readers know where Sky Key is and just waiting to see when everyone else will catch up. Then it’s a whole new game and I’m just trying to root for one of the Players but I have no idea who. I don’t even know whether I want them to find Sky Key after all or not. It was emotional in every sense.

Rating: An emotional 5 out of 5


You can find my review of the first book here: Endgame: The Calling.

If you have read the books, let me know what you thought. If you’re looking to get the books, ask me about them. No spoilers I promise.

Lastly, you can sign up to my SPAM-free Newsletter here: Nthato Morakabi.com

Wednesday Book Review: Tales of Wonder

Title: Tales of Wonder

Author: E.M. Swift-Hook, Jessica Holmes, Leo McBride, Matthew Harvey, Rob Edwards, Brent A. Harris, Terri Pray, Jeff Provine, Ricardo Victoria.

Genre: Science Fantasy

Book procurement: Received from Inklings Press for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Science Fantasy is the collision of science fiction and fantasy – where the impossible and the improbable come together. This is a universe of spaceships and sorcery, of mechanics and magic, where zeppelins soar through the ether and conjurers stalk dark tunnels with a ball of light in their fist. So cut loose, let slip the mooring ropes on your imagination, and join these nine authors as they set course for the horizon – and beyond.

Nine tales of science. Nine tales of fantasy. Nine tales to make you wonder.

Review:

First Thoughts

Ah Inklings Press. Quite literally my favourite publishers right now. The talent they have “harvested” to compile their anthologies is just brilliant and once again I find myself treated to amazing stories.

From the first story The Lair of the Thunderlord, right through, I fell more and more in love with this Science Fantasy genre. This intermingling of science fiction and fantasy, where magic and science coalesce with fascinating characters to enrich the stories told. Just brilliant.

Stories and Writing

 

A total of nine stories make up Tales of Wonder. I usually don’t dig through each short in anthologies for a review, but I think this anthology deserves proper in-depth reviewing:

The Lair of the Thunderlord by Rob Edwards

The crew of the Acumen are suddenly pulled from the dark recess of space, and onto a planet they shouldn’t be on. They are a “scout” ship afterall. The crash leaves them unprotected, and the magic they carry doesn’t work quite right. Martins is the ship’s Documenter, and for the first time gets to experience life on another planet. But things don’t go as planned and… well you’ll have to read the rest to know.

Really solid character work, and… chickens. Yep you heard that right. It’s brilliantly told, and it all culminates shockingly as the in the end.

Changeling Child by E.M. Swift-Hook

It begins with a nursery rhyme. If you know anything about nursery rhymes then you can guess that they are not as playful and innocent as they seem. And neither is Changeling Child.

What I loved most is the innocence of young Tani, who finds herself in quite a predicament and remembers the nursery rhyme as her guide. That link between the unfolding story, the rhyme, and Tani is pieced together really well.

Kaana by Ricardo Victoria

When one thinks of terraforming, they think of massive alien ships hovering over the skyline drilling through the Earth’s core, changing it for suitable environments. One might also think of gargantuan parasitic lifeforms tethered from space onto Earth and rearranging the atmosphere to suit the new hosts. One does not think of a humanoid creature uttering incomprehensible words (spells? wink wink nudge nudge) to coax life out of barren patches of land. I was already sold.

And then, of course, things begin to unravel that shed more light on this multi-racial planet and it’s custodian mages in the form of… giant robots? Adding that dash of science fiction to the fantastical world was a great touch. The magic is so unique. I hope Ricardo turns this into a proper novel. It definitely has that potential after that ending.

An Honest Trader by Jessica Holmes

This was an interesting one. Captain Prikos sails the skies on a ship that also sails the seas. It’s clever. Of course it doesn’t end there, and this rather short, short story has rich world building, fascinating technology, and an ending that begs for more.

Sedna’s Hair by Jeff Provine

One always wonders just how true myths and folklore are. Whether a superstitious belief has some semblance of truth or if it’s all just hogwash. Sedna’s Hair finds ship Inuit crew members on a routine swing around a blackhole. Their artificially intelligent captain urges the crew member to explain a long held tradition for the new crew member; the story of Sedna, a rather gruesome tale I might add. I can’t say much without ruining the story… you’ll have to read it to enjoy what happens next.

A Twist in Time by Brent A Harris

Okay so you don’t have to read far to see the correlation between Oliver Twist and this short story. But things aren’t about an orphan reduced to being a thief. No. Oliver steals a pocketwatch from a mystrious man only to find it is no ordinary watch. The man is no ordinary man. The adventure he is dragged in to… is no ordinary adventure.

There might be a nod at “the Doctor” in this story but as Brent A Harris so cryptically said to me, “I can neither confirm nor deny. Afterall, it’s all timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly stuff.” Well played sir. Well played.

A Very Improper Adventure by Matthew Harvey

I’m writing a Steampunk novel at the moment, so when I started reading this short story… well you can imagine I may have swooned a little. Lady Madeleine Bierce is an upstanding woman in her community. Sharp of tongue. No nonsense type. Her daughter Lady Lillian Bierce – not so much. An engineer at heart, with an adventurous soul, hopes to explain why her dress is in disarray. Her explanation sparks quite an adventure atop an airship.

There’s just so much to applaud here. The writing style. The dictation. The pacing. The world building. The action. Or maybe I’m just biased haha.

Grace by Terri Pray

He is a code monkey. A programmer. The greatest of his time. His life is his work and his work is his life. Until the “delicate woman with an elegance that matched her name, Grace,” walked into his life. The story takes place on a distant planet, where the genius programmer lives in solitude to focus on his work, save for the servant-cum-guard who watches over him. Only none are like Grace. None at all.

You know it’s good writing when you begin to feel what the character feels. When you are moved by them. With them. Grace is an enchanting tale that is more than just Science Fantasy.

The Last Sorceror by Leo Mcbride

Oi what riveting good stuff here of magic vs technology; either one cannot exist around the other. All set in London where technology has slowly prevailed over magic to the point where magic is almost out of existence. Eli and Maggie are on the run from Techquisitors – enforcers who are hell bent on eradicating all sorcerors.

It feels much like The Sorceror’s Apprentice but set in a future where magic is banned. Eli has appointed Maggie as his own apprentice but Eli has never used magic in fourteen years. His vow. And his burden to guard Maggie. Fast paced. Witty. Intense. Leo Mcbride writes a story right out of the top drawer, and ends the anthology on a high note.

Final Thoughts

The one thing I dislike about anthologies, is the fact that you only get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Of the full story. Of the potentially immersive world. However, there is no doubt that this collection of short stories is worth a read. I implore you to get yourself a copy and let your imagination loose for just a smidge, and enjoy some Tales of Wonder.

Rating: A wonderful 5 out of 5


Also, a shout out to my dear friend and Folklore/Myhthology guru Carin Marais and her interview today on The Folklore Podcast. You can listen on iTunes or on their website: thefolklorepodcast.com

Wednesday Book Review: Environmentally Friendly + The Praying Nun

I’ll be reviewing two short books for today. Support indie authors!


environmentally-friendly

Title: Environmentally Friendly

Author: Elias Zanbaka

Genre: Thriller

Book procurement: Author contacted me for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Out of seven billion people, one man has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees.

Out of all the criminals in Los Angeles, he’s the number one target being hunted by the LAPD tonight.

And out of the entire LAPD, one officer is hell-bent on helping him complete his mission.

Review:

Story

Schaefer is an officer with intention. While a mad man wreaks havoc upon mother nature, Schaefer hopes to control the chaotic situation regardless of the hazard it is to himself. While the flamethrower-handling, chainsaw doting maniac rages against the world, Schaefer puts in motion an act of redemption.

Writing

A really short but brilliantly written piece. You really get a sense of the mood and setting, slowly unraveled to reveal a rather clever ploy in the end. The characters are realistic and believable, while the action keeps the story moving forward swiftly. Albeit short, Elias Zanbaka does a brilliant job nonetheless and I can only hope for more from this self-published author.

Rating: A decent 4 out of 5

 


the-praying-nun

Title: The Praying Nuns

Author: Michael Smorenburg

Genre: Thriller

Book procurement: Author contacted me for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Based on Facts – “The Praying Nun” is a 2-part novella that details the first attempts to identify an unidentified shipwreck from cannonball, cannons & artifacts found just behind the waves of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

In 2015 the Smithsonian institute identified that wreck as the only slave shipwreck ever found. She went down in 1794 – half of the 400 slaves chained in her holds were drowned – and the other half who were ‘saved’ were sold 2 days later on the block.

Review:

Story

The novella is broken into two sections. The first is a memoir of sorts where Michael and Jacques (not his real name) dive along the coasts of Cape Town, South Africa, specifically at Camps Bay and the surrounding beaches. They find a wreckage that may have been carrying bullion, a possible sunken ship carrying treasure that has been dismissed as a coal barge. However Michael has his own little treasure he hopes to uncover, buried deep in the reef.

The second part of the novella is a fictionalized telling of the floundering of the São José de Afrika on the reef of 2nd Beach in Clifton. It follows the slave Chikunda and his wife. They are newly wed, and experience the harsh life of being slaves on the ship. As a wedding gift, Chikunda had whittled ivory into the shape of his wife as a Nun, a praying nun. When the ship crashes, they hope to escape from their owners and Chikunda’s wife hopes to salvage her ivory gift but knows she cannot and drop it into the waters.

Writing

This is one of my favourite works by Michael. The first part anyway. It’s written with in-depth details that speak of a true first-hand experience. His account as the second person to ever dive the São José, is a rich comprehensive unfolding of his real life discovery of a Praying Nun statuette. A similar one to the rock feature located on the beach of Maidens Cove. The description put me right there in the water with Mike and Jacques, allowing me to experience the frustrations of the changing tides, and to feel the apprehension of making a major discovery. Really fantastic writing.

A riveting read I swept through in one sitting.

Rating: A compelling 4 out of 5


Have you read an indie authors lately?

Wednesday Book Review: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures

the-mammoth-book-of-steampunk-adventures

Title: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures

Author: Multiple authors – Edited by Sean Wallace

Genre: Steampunk

Book procurement: Bought the book at the now defunct Exclusive Books The Glen.

Synopsis:

Looking to the future through the lens of the past, here is a second fantastic collection of over 30 typically anarchic mash-ups that push the boundaries of steampunk from the same editor of the bestselling Mammoth Book of Steampunk.

Review:

First Thoughts

I picked this up while I was writing my first Steampunk novel, hoping to get a glimpse into his mysterious world of amazing steam and clockwork powered inventions, and alternate universes where electricity was obsolete. I was hoping for grandiose descriptions, compelling characters, incredible machines, fantastical worlds, and grungy, sooty Victorian-Era stories. What I got was a little bit of that, but mostly it was other genres set in a steampunk world where you don’t see much of the steam. It wasn’t the greatest anthology but it was just enough. Just.

Story

There were 30 stories in this anthology, and not all of them were great, which is why I’ve been reading this book for over a year now. Haha *looks away guiltily* Some of the stories I ate up like a good double bacon and egg burger, and other’s I chewed over like overcooked steak. Here were a few that stood out:

Tanglefoot – Cheri Priest

Harry and Marlowe and the Talisman of the Cult of Egil

Edison’s Frankenstein – Chris Robertson

Green Eyed Monsters in the Valley of Sky, An Opera

The Clockworks of Hanyang – Gord Sellar

I Stole the DC’s Eyeglass – Sofia Samatar

The Collier’s Venus – Caitlin R. Kiernan

Final Thoughts

Eh I wasn’t severely impressed. A few stories were tantalizing only to end abruptly, while other’s dragged on forever and they weren’t the most compelling. I got a sense of the Steampunk genre but not enough to fall in love with it as I had expected. I think I’ll have to read a proper novel next.

Rating: A meh 3 out of 5

Wednesday Book Review: Proof of Concept

proof-of-concept

Title: Proof of Concept

Author: Gwyneth Jones

Genre: Sci-fi

Book procurement: Received a copy from Tor.com for Gamecca Magazine Vol 8 Issue 92.

Synopsis:

On a desperately overcrowded future Earth, crippled by climate change, the most unlikely hope is better than none. Governments turn to Big Science to provide them with the dreams that will keep the masses compliant. The Needle is one such dream, an installation where the most abstruse theoretical science is being tested: science that might make human travel to a habitable exoplanet distantly feasible.

When the Needle’s director offers her underground compound as a training base, Kir is thrilled to be invited to join the team, even though she knows it’s only because her brain is host to a quantum artificial intelligence called Altair.

But Altair knows something he can’t tell.

Kir, like all humans, is programmed to ignore future dangers. Between the artificial blocks in his mind, and the blocks evolution has built into his host, how is he going to convince her the sky is falling?

Review:

Got permission from my editor to post the Gamecca book reviews here. The reviews in the magazine have a max 200 word count so I’m expanding.

First Thoughts

This novella was really difficult to get in to. You’re thrust suddenly into this sci-fi world, speculating half of what you read hoping it will be cleared later on, with a lot of technical jargon I was swimming through. Although a well written book, it’s definitely not top of my list.

Story

The story is supposed to be about this interaction between Kir and the Artificial Intelligence lodged in her brain given the name Altair, and this back and forth conversation where Altair is warning her of some impending doom and Kir is a stubborn human who ignores it. It’s not. Instead its about why Big Science was used to build a theoretical “ship” called The Needle, which was humanity’s last hope for survivial. It’s about life on The Needle and Kir’s experiences while on it. Here and there Altair makes an appearance but the synopsis is misleading.

Writing

The writing is okay. No doubt Gwyneth Jones has some good sci-fi knowledge to make the story the right kind of science to the fiction. An interesting cast of characters overall but I think they existed solely to add some spice to Kir’s life. I was hoping to see more of Altair and get a sense of who/what he was but it’s all hinted. Then the end just started rolling together quickly and then boom it’s over. Like huh?

Final Thoughts

It’s not a bad book, perhaps if it had been expanded more and the relationship between Kir and Altair more solid, perhaps adding a much stronger sense of mystery, Proof of Concept may have been a worthwhile book.

Rating: A meh 2 out of 5

Nthato Morakabi

Author | Blogger | Artist | Geek

This Is My Truth Now

Fiction, Books, TV, Trips & Reviews... and introducing the 365 Daily Challenge!

rbwatkinson

Author of the fantasy trilogy The Wefan Weaves

Sean P Carlin

Writer of things that go bump in the night

Orchid's Lantern

Shedding light on how we live, what we think, and why we care.

Ricardo Victoria

Writer. Toy photographer. Random Musings

RedheadedBooklover

Just a redheaded woman who is obsessed with books

Fictive Dream

Short stories online

Heather Reviews

Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Book Hauls, Giveaways

Little Fears

Flash fiction tales of humor, horror and whimsy

thousandscarsblog

gaming/writing

Civilian Reader

(Books, Music, Movies)

A Steampunk Opera (The Dolls Of New Albion)

The writing, composing and production of a steampunk opera and all periphery topics that come along in the process

Airship Ambassador

Information for the Steampunk Community - www.AirshipAmbassador.com

Mystery Thriller Week

Celebrate the Annual Event

Miketendo64! The Place To Go For Anything Nintendo

Anything Nintendo! Covering News, Reviews, Interviews, Wii U, 3DS, Switch & Amiibo.

Henchman-4-Hire

Geeky News, Reviews and Rants from a Working Class Super-Villain