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I Am Not A Serial Killer – Recommendation

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’ debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.


Dan Wells is a thriller and science fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, Isolation, Fragments, and Ruins), the John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want To Kill You), and a few others (The Hollow City, A Night of Blacker Darkness, etc). He was a Campbell nomine for best new writer, and has won a Hugo award for his work on the podcast Writing Excuses; the podcast is also a multiple winner of the Parsec Award.

 

Battle Royale – Recommendation

Koushun Takami’s notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing.

Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan – where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller – Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.

Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language.


Koushun Takami (高見 広春 Takami Kōshun) is the author of the novel Battle Royale, originally published in Japanese, and later translated into English by Yuji Oniki and published by Viz Media and, later, in an expanded edition by Haika Soru, a division of Viz Media.

Takami was born in Amagasaki, Hyōgo Prefecture near Osaka and grew up in the Kagawa Prefecture of Shikoku. After graduating from Osaka University with a degree in literature, he dropped out of Nihon University’s liberal arts correspondence course program. From 1991 to 1996, he worked for the news company Shikoku Shimbun, reporting on various fields including politics, police reports, and economics.

The novel Battle Royale was completed after Takami left the news company. It was rejected in the final round of the literary competition for which it was intended, owing to its controversial content. It went on to become a bestseller when finally released in 1999 and, a year later, was made into a manga and a feature film.

He is currently working on a second novel.


Vicky (booksandstrips) or I think it was Jen (fictionalJenn) recommended this movie and then said it was actually based on a book, which I found and want to read. The movie was fascinating!

Any movies which were initially books are you interested in watching? Have you read the books?

Rhyming Rings by David Gemmell

David Gemmell was the UK’s number one fantasy and historical novelist until his death in 2006. A regular Sunday Times bestseller, and international sensation, his legacy lives on through his novels, his influence on the genre, and through the David Gemmell Legend awards.

Rhyming Rings is a never-before-seen Gemmell novel, discovered in his papers by his widow, Stella Gemmell. Merging autobiographical details of Gemmell’s life as a journalist in South London with a serial killer and a tinge of the supernatural, this is perfect for fans of David’s work, as well as readers of gritty crime novels. Set against the backdrop of a London simmering with poverty, change and racial tension, this taut thriller is a fitting legacy for the great writer.

This book includes a brand new introduction from massive Gemmell fan Conn Iggulden, and an afterword by Gemmell’s friend Stan Nicholls.

An ambidextrous killer is murdering women, leaving virtually no evidence behind, and struggling journalist Jeremy Miller wishes he was covering the case. Instead, he’s stuck with heart-warming local stories about paraplegic teenagers and elderly psychic ladies.

So when his stories and the murder case start to converge no one is more surprised than Jeremy.

Or, it turns out, more at risk.


Drew from The Tattooed Book Geek picked this up in his book haul and I was immediately intrigued! Looking to pick this up too!

David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell’s works display violence, yet also explores themes in honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.

 

Wednesday Book Review: Thr3e

ted-dekker-three

Title: Thr3e

Author: Ted Dekker

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Book procurement: Bought at a little secondhand book store in Melville.

Release Date: December 10, 2006.

Synopsis:

Enter a world where nothing is what it seems. Where your closest friend could be your greatest enemy.

Kevin Parson is alone in his car when his cell phone rings. A man calling himself Slater offers a deadly ultimatum: You have exactly three minutes to confess your sin to the world. Refuse, and the car you’re driving will blow sky high. Then the phone goes dead.

Kevin panics. Who would make such a demand? What sin? Yet not sure what else to do, Kevin swerves into a parking lot and runs from his car. Just in case.

Precisely three minutes later, a massive explosion sets his world on a collision course with madness. And that’s only the first move in this deadly game

Review:

A friend of mine introduced me to Ted Dekker ages ago where I procured The Circle, which didn’t appeal to me much. So I tried Heavens Wager and that was a great book. Thr3e was in the backseat of my car for some weird reason, probably didn’t take it out since I bought it 6 months ago, and I decided I might as well read it. I’m so glad I did.

It begins with quite a philosophical question regarding the nature of man/humans/people. Is man good or evil? Does our capacity to do evil make us inherently evil? How do we deal with our inner duality of good and evil? In the bible sin is sin (sin is overstepping the boundaries set by God), which leads to asking if someone who gossips is as bad as someone who murders since both have overstepped the boundary – committed a sin.

Kevin Parson is a seminary student who poses this question to his professor. Almost as though to immediately lead him towards the answer, he receives a call from a man called Slater.  Solve this riddle and confess your sin, or you die. What follows is an explosive action packed adventure with Kevin Parson revisiting his childhood, solving riddles posed and trying to figure out who Slater is.

The writing is fluid. It moves along at a fantastic pace almost as though I’m watching a movie and everything is unraveling splendidly. So refreshing to enjoy a book that keeps me turning the pages and shouting out in agony as I try to figure out who Slater is. As much as Ted Dekker falls into Christian thrillers, it’s not a book trying to convert you into Christianity. There’s hardly any reference to it and when there is, it’s linked to Kevin, Slater and the ongoing battle between them. Expertly handled from beginning to end.

Let’s not forget that amazingly mind-blowing hair-tearing-from-suspense conclusion that had me talking to myself in traffic and uttering profound praise to Ted Dekker for messing with my mind!! Whoa. Loved it.

Rating: A MINDBLOWING 5 out of 5. (edited)


ted-dekker

Ted Dekker is known for novels that combine adrenaline-laced stories with unexpected plot twists, unforgettable characters, and incredible confrontations between good and evil. Ted lives in Austin with his wife LeeAnn and their four children.


If you didn’t know, now you know, I’ve started a bookstagram!

@ascribe_bookstagram

ascribe_bookstagram_thr3e

Wednesday Book Review: Moxyland

Moxyland

Title: Moxyland

Author: Lauren Beukes

Genre: Dystopian

Book procurement: Bought on Takealot.com.

Synopsis:

A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.

Review:

Well that was embarrassing (Thanks Rache!)

Ahem so… Moxyland was a fascinating book by Lauren Beukes, the second novel I have read by a talented local (South African) author and her debut novel which won the Authur C. Clarke award and I can see why.

Set in a future South African context where everyone needs a pass to access almost everything and cellphones are more than just a device for making phone calls, messaging people and checking social media platforms, four characters intermingle in the biggest conspiracy ever! Told from each of their perspectives, we sink into a world of corporate espionage, underground activists, immersive gaming and an alarming prospect of technological advancement.

It took a while to get into the book, only because I was reading The Time Traveler before this, and the change in tone, narrative and culture was a bit of a shock. My favourite character was Toby, who took his blogging to a whole new level, which was exacerbated by his cockiness and  satirical nonchalance to the world around him.

The interweaving stories around the four characters and how they were connected in some way was imaginative and fun. The world-building was exceptional; it took the historical and cultural aspects of our third world country and intermingled them with Umbrella Corporation style institutions, for an ominous “nothing-is-as-it-seems” macrocosm.

The cliff-hanger ending gives me a semblance of hope that Lauren Beukes will perhaps dabble with a Moxyland sequel (please!).

Rating: A twisted 4 out of 5

Wednesday Book Review: Strong Medicine

Strong Medicine

Title: Strong Medicine

Author: Angela Meadon

Genre: Thriller

Book procurement: Author gave me a copy for an honest review

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Erin du Toit’s 9-year old daughter has been kidnapped by Johannesburg’s most powerful witchdoctor. Can Erin save her child before she’s chopped up for muthi?

Erin’s first instinct is to go to the police, but the South African Police Force is paralyzed by corruption and overwhelmed by hundreds of open cases. Cases just like Erin’s.

Erin delves into the dark underbelly of Johannesburg to find the man who took her daughter. When she realizes that the police are protecting him, she must decide between disobeying a violent police force and giving up on her daughter.

Review: 

I received a copy of Strong Medicine from the author for an honest review. As a local author (fellow South African) I think it’s easy to either be biased towards them, or shoot them down. I will be impartial and offer a review unbiased.

Firstly, this is a story about Africa, about my home country South Africa and about the type of people I could very well meet on the streets of our diverse country. It’s close to home, which obviously tends to pull at the heart strings one way or the other.

The first thing that I noticed was the setting of the story and the characters. As a South African, I always flinch at any novel, film or TV series that focuses on the poor, on crime, and on all the negative aspects of our country. We aren’t that bad but when every novel or movie we watch focuses on it all the time, it puts me off. Then we had a scene that involved the police and once again I cringed at it’s authenticity.

The story itself is great. It follows Erin du Toit as she loses her daughter, and the battle for sanity and restoration that follows. How far would a mother go to rescue her child? What trauma and anguish does she experience during the whole ordeal. This story is about bravery and courage, of a mother who goes out of her way to rescue her most prized possession; her child.

Intermingled with the story are fictional transcript police interviews and eyewitness accounts that are too shocking to believe could be real. Witchdoctors. Sangomas. Traditional healers. They are as much a part of our country as the people. As a cultural heritage and belief of many African’s, this novel steers towards the darker side of this cultural aspect. I think many can attest to the reality of muthi killings, but just as many will oppose it. It’s a very fine line.

An interesting group of characters carry the story out, each affected by the kidnapping in various ways. Erin is the mother willing to do almost anything to get her daughter back. Family members, the police force and a couple of witchdoctors come into play to either hinder or help Erin find her daughter. The villain is truly villainous in his actions and I shuddered at his existence – I could see such a person existing and that’s a truly horrific experience.

The world is very much South Africa, sadly it’s the run-down, scary, crime-infested side of South Africa; and the people in the novel reflect this broken country. From the township of Alexandra to the sleazy parts of Johannesburg CBD, this novel reminds me that not all of South Africa is green grass and proper housing. Poverty is ubiquitous, and with poverty a myriad of evils can follow. It’s a sad reality.

In overall this novel is a dark reminder of the evils that exist, hidden behind corporate, civil, and culture. I enjoyed the story as much as I disliked what it reminded me of. Perhaps I am too naive or have yet to realize I’m wearing rose coloured glasses as I live day-to-day in this country. Now I question the reality of life in South Africa.

 Rating: A shaky 4 out of 5

Wednesday Book Review: Blacklands

Blacklands

Title: Blacklands

Author: Belinda Bauer

Genre: Thriller

Book procurement: Bought at Books Galore Greenstone

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Eighteen years ago, Billy Peters disappeared. Everyone in town believes Billy was murdered–after all, serial killer Arnold Avery later admitted killing six other children and burying them on the same desolate moor that surrounds their small English village. Only Billy’s mother is convinced he is alive. She still stands lonely guard at the front window of her home, waiting for her son to return, while her remaining family fragments around her. But her twelve-year-old grandson Steven is determined to heal the cracks that gape between his nan, his mother, his brother, and himself. Steven desperately wants to bring his family closure, and if that means personally finding his uncle’s corpse, he’ll do it.

Spending his spare time digging holes all over the moor in the hope of turning up a body is a long shot, but at least it gives his life purpose.

Then at school, when the lesson turns to letter writing, Steven has a flash of inspiration … Careful to hide his identity, he secretly pens a letter to Avery in jail asking for help in finding the body of “W.P.”–William “Billy” Peters.

So begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.

Just as Steven tries to use Avery to pinpoint the gravesite, so Avery misdirects and teases his mysterious correspondent in order to relive his heinous crimes. And when Avery finally realizes that the letters he’s receiving are from a twelve-year-old boy, suddenly his life has purpose too.

Although his is far more dangerous …

Blacklands “is a taut and chillingly brilliant debut that signals the arrival of a bright new voice in psychological suspense.”

Review:

I picked up Blacklands at a sale, the premise of a killer communicating with a boy in search of a victim’s body was far more intriguing than anything else on sale. It was portrayed as a “dangerous cat-and-mouse game” between the two, which in my opinion fell flat on its face. It was a short book (245 pages) with pictures of the correspondence happening between the two which worked fairly well. But it was short. The “cat-and-mouse” game could have had so much more intrigue and drama.

The book itself was enjoyable, and a few times I (especially a third in) I had to stop and think about why in the world would this boy do such a thing. Ok, he’s twelve so I’ll forgive his childish mistakes but when you are corresponding with a child killer, and you’re a child… you don’t do or say certain things. Gah! So, on that note, Blacklands threw me right into the quiet English village and it’s slow lifestyle. I was drawn into Steven’s world and his woes as a child in a broken family. It was really well written.

If only it was longer, and the back and forth between the two had more action in it, would have pushed the rating to four.

Rating: A settled 3 out of 5

Wednesday Book Review: Whisper in the Dark

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Title: Whisper in the Dark

Author: Robert Gregory Browne

Genre: Thriller

Book Procurement: Random lady selling books – never saw her again

Synopsis: (Back of book)

When a violent and incoherent naked Jane Doe is found cowering in the street near the scene of a brutal murder, a pair of bloody scissors in hand, Detective Frank Blackburn is faced with a tough question: is she a victim or the killer herself? Determined to get some answer, Blackburn takes the young woman to the Baycliff Hospital detention unit, to renowned psychiatrist Michael Tolan, in the hope that he will work his magic and get her to open up.

But Tolan has problems of his own. One year ago today his beloved wife Abby was brutally slain by a savage serial killer named Van Gogh. And just this morning Vincent himself called Tolan, claiming his innocence, claiming he didn’t kill Abby at all. He’s convinced, however, that the young doctor did and promises to make him pay.

Could Van Gogh  be right? Could Tolan have killed his own wife? Soon Blackburn suspects that the murder he’s investigating, the mysterious witness and the death of Abby Tolan are all somehow connected. And, above all, Jane Doe is desperately trying to communicate with the world to expose the real killer’s identity – a killer who is equally desperate… and about to kill again.

Review:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I was taking a friend for a haircut in this one random mall I have never been in, and when we took a detour to the grocery store, we found a table filled with a number of books. Being a bookaholic and all, I rushed to the table and began to peruse the paperbacks. The price she gave was ridiculously low and I left the little book sale with some books and an empty wallet.

The first line of the book literally starts with “It was a pretty uneventful night until the naked lady tried to kill him.” and with an opening like that, one can only wonder where it would all lead to. The next chapter has a very similar opening, a fantastic hook right into the beginning of a long wild tale of mystery, intrigue, horror and amazing characters that are too real to be fictional. Each chapter ends on a high, like an episode of a really well done TV series and you can’t wait for the next episode…and the next… and the next. I flew through this book so quickly, it was a pleasant surprise. One minute I was reading the first page and when I looked up, I was fifty pages in; that is how much I enjoyed this book.

Although the events happen in a single day (24 anyone?) the story is well paced, the characters given value, meaning and depth that it felt like you knew them in just that one day. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding the doctor, the witness, the detective and the quiet “rhythm” that reverberates throughout the book. For the first time in a long while, I did not see the ending coming. It caught me completely off guard, redirected my attention from the obvious so well that when it was revealed, I wondered how I missed it all.

I am definitely keen on finding more books by Robert Gregory Browne, as I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He might very well become my new Stephen King.

Rating: A solid 5 out of 5

Nthato Morakabi

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