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The Desert Spear #BookReview

Title:
The Desert Spear – Demon Cycle #2

Author:
Peter V. Brett

Genre:
Fantasy

Book procurement:
Bought a copy from Exclusive Books – Greenstone

Rating:

Tedious 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power.

Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not.

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim.

But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure.

Once, the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

I had high expectation for this second book in the Demon Cycle series. Especially since the fifth book “The Core” was announced this year. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The first book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. I looked forward to seeing Arlen embrace his destiny.

The Story

The story is broken up into two parts, with the third becoming a clash of the first two. We are introduced to Ahmann Jardir as both a young boy torn from his family,  and as the Shar’Dama Ka (The Deliverer) who looks to conquer the world to fight the demons. We see how he becomes the Shar’Dama Ka, and understand why he raids the lands conquering.

The second half of the story brings back Arlen as the Warded Man, and to the people in North, the Deliverer. He himself hates this name. Nonetheless he does what he has to, to arm the people so they may fend of the demons by themselves. We also meet the previous cast as they have grown into their roles. Leesha has taken over for Bruna and runs Deliverer’s Hollow as their Herb Gatherer. Gared Cutter has become a formidable demon hunter. Rojer continues his role as Jongeleur and remains at Leesha’s side while Arlen travels. And many others come together.

The story also revolves around this idea of the Deliverer, the chosen one who will unite mankind in their battle against the demons, yet as you may have gathered, there can only be one Deliverer. Is it Jadir or is it Arlen?

Then we have the Demon Princes who have risen from the core, and take in the proceedings from the outskirts. Waiting. Watching. Learning.

Writing

The writing is slow and tedious in most parts, where we focus on the individual lives of the main cast, mainly Jadir, Leesha and Arlen (also views at others – like Abban – who will play a role later in their lives including a cast from Tibbets Brooke and various duchy). Not that this is a bad thing, but compared to the first book it feels like reading side arcs that have some relevance to the bigger story but not the most important.

The writing also tends to be repetitive, where we watch a scene twice but from different people’s perspectives but with nothing new but the new character’s thoughts during the scene.

The fighting was epic, even though some fights seemed to be taken for granted because, well, you can’t go into in-depth action with every fight scene.

The characters were well written and remain consistent throughout this new book. Demon magic and its use has been expanded to show how the people have started to move from helpless demon-fearing fodder to a formidable force. Character growth.

Final Thoughts

It wasn’t my favourite book, and I am unsure whether or not I will complete the series. The whole book felt drawn out and I was reading just to finish rather than to enjoy. It wasn’t bad either so I can’t say I hated it, even though there were times I was sure I did. If I do read the next book (which I own) I hope it will be better.


The Desert Spear was published April 13th, 2010. (How long have I had these books o_o)

Did you know: Peter V. Brett also wrote the Red Sonja: Unchained graphic novel for Dynamite Comics.


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

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Brother’s Ruin – Book Review

Title:
Brother’s Ruin

Author:
Emma Newman

Genre:
Historical/ Fantasy

Book procurement:
Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Rating:

Fascinating 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.

Book Review:

First Thoughts

Well to be honest the novella had me at Gaslamp. I mean, I’m a big steampunk fan (next to horror) and when I think gaslamp and fantasy, I get excited. Especially with the interesting synopsis from the book. I was actually looking forward to it. Only it’s not really about the fantasy or the gaslamp or the mages in the end. It’s not even, really, about the brother either. Not completely.

The Story

We follow Charlotte Gunn, a multi-talented woman who must live her life as a “woman must be seen not heard” kind of world. She witnesses how mages are recruited by the Royal Society, at the same time understanding how many see being recruited as a privilege. When Benjamin, her brother, is deemed to be a mage, Charlotte does what she can to prove them right, hiding her own abilities. Only everything spirals out of control as secrets are spilled and it puts Charlotte, her family, and her city into jeopardy.

It’s a story of sacrifice. Of political intrigue. It’s drama as Charlotte tries to balance the conflicting forces in her life, especially when it comes to her family and the secrets that come to the fore. The story ends on a cliffhanger, which sets up the Industrial Magic series well.

 

 

Writing

 

The writing was great. Elegantly put down in a way that reflects Charlotte Gunn’s personality (and the fact that she’s a woman). The magic is fascinating, and the fantasy inspired Great Britain makes for a dark, twisted world.

We are introduced to Charlotte Gunn first. Immediately we get a sense that there is more to her than meets the eye. She’s a strong, independent woman effectively born in the wrong era. Or at least that’s what I get from the book. She has to live in false pretense because the world she lives in does not see women as very important. Makes sense considering the Victorian Era theme of the book.

Benjamin wants to do what is best for his family, wanting to protect his sister too. Only he has failing health which makes working difficult. So when the Royal Society wants to recruit him, he does what any guilt riddled brother would do. Accept.

The remaining characters in the story are also fascinating. Such as Doctor Ledbetter, Magus Hopkins and other well written characters in the book.

Final Thoughts

From a storytelling perspective, Brother’s Ruin is a great delve into the struggles of a powerful woman who is made less powerful by her situation. Where she hopes to overcome through sacrifice and determination.

The worldbuilding is great, and I was transported into that dark Victorian era where no one can be trusted.

The characters are all distinct and have been well written to reflect both the times and their situations. From the parents who just want the best and will do what they can, to the representatives of the  Royal Society.

No doubt I enjoyed it, and would definitely read the rest of the series.


Brother’s Ruin was published March 14th, 2017.

Did you know: Emma Newman is a professional audiobook narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast ‘Tea and Jeopardy’


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

The Five Daughters of the Moon

Title: The Five Daughters of the Moon

Author: Leena Likitalo

Genre: Historical Science Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy for Gamecca Magazine from Tor.com.

Synopsis:

Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fueled by evil magic.

The Crescent Empire teeters on the edge of a revolution, and the Five Daughters of the Moon are the ones to determine its future.

Alina, six, fears Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. The gagargi claims that the machine can predict the future, but at a cost that no one seems to want to know.

Merile, eleven, cares only for her dogs, but she smells that something is afoul with the gagargi. By chance, she learns that the machine devours human souls for fuel, and yet no one believes her claim.

Sibilia, fifteen, has fallen in love for the first time in her life. She couldn’t care less about the unrests spreading through the countryside. Or the rumors about the gagargi and his machine.

Elise, sixteen, follows the captain of her heart to orphanages and workhouses. But soon she realizes that the unhappiness amongst her people runs much deeper that anyone could have ever predicted.

And Celestia, twenty-two, who will be the empress one day. Lately, she’s been drawn to the gagargi. But which one of them was the first to mention the idea of a coup?

Inspired by the 1917 Russian revolution and the last months of the Romanov sisters, The Five Daughters of the Moon is a beautifully crafted historical fantasy with elements of technology fuelled by evil magic.

Review:

First Thoughts

Writing book reviews for Gamecca has been an interesting journey. I’ve been introduced to some amazing books and authors, and some really drab books. I don’t really have a choice, just a list of books to read (which I am very grateful for, I mean free books!) so not all of them are “up my alley.”

The Five Daughters of the Moon didn’t start off as “up my alley” although I was definitely intrigued. By the end of it I was drawn right into the world, characters, and story. Sometimes you just got to give a book a chance.

The Story

The book is based on the Romanov sisters. As the book “The Romanov Sisters” says about them,

“The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.”

In that regard, Leena Likitalo did an amazing job of showing this prestige. Even keeping the fact that the sisters used to sew gems into their garments, among many other historical facts. While the novel is based on the sisters, Leena did take a lot of creative freedom. There were originally only four sisters and their youngest brother Alexei, in the novel it’s five sisters. She also changed their names and a little bit of their stories. However reading this novel and the history of the sisters, you can see a lot of correlation. Also, the setting of this story takes place in a science-fantasy world.

We follow each of the sisters lives and experiences, seeing varying situations from each sister’s perspective. The focus is mainly around Gagargi Prataslav, a Sorcerer-Scientist, who has built a contraption known as the Great Thinking Machine. Only this machine is more than what it seems, and each of the sisters begin to slowly realise what the machine will mean to the Crescent Empire.

It is a story of intrigue, drama, betrayal and family. Of a broken society and how each sister tries to live with their life, especially when everything comes crashing down.

That is the role of the younger daughters. To be ignored and forgotten.

~ Merile, Five Daughters of the Moon.

Writing

 

Each chapter is from the perspective of the different sisters, usually starting with the youngest and ending with the oldest. This provides interesting insights into each of the sisters, building up a sense of foreshadowing which is then explained in the next sister’s view. This was done really well, where each sister had a particular way that they provided their view. Sibilia wrote in a diary and that’s how she “spoke”, while Merile focused on her pets, and so on.

Each sister was also unique in personality and there was no doubt who was who (even with the name at the beginning of the chapter). We see how the youngest look up at their older sisters and the persuasions of a young child in a royal family. The oldest sisters were all about finding love and being responsible. The contrasting personalities made for a good read.

The writing style was also flowery. From the world building, to character descriptions and how scenes played out. I liked this style and I felt like I was in the particular room being described. Like I could see each of the sisters, their mother, the Gagargi, etc.

Gagargi Prataslav strides toward us. The heels of his boots clack loudly against the floor. His black robes billow behind him as if he were riding the wind. His dark eyes gleam with pure malice.

~Alina, Five Daughters of the Moon.

Final Thoughts

I realised I couldn’t write female characters as well as Leena because I’m a guy. There are intuitive observations that a female writer has that I have yet to see in many male authors. It was a refreshing take. Also, the little details taken from the actual historical account that were included in the novel added ingenuity to the novel. Great work.

“I have looked into the past and present. But neither of them hold the solution for the problem we face.”

~ Gagargi Prataslav, Five Daughters of the Moon.

Rating: An interesting 4 out of 5


The Sisters of the Crescent Empress (The Waning Moon #2) will be published on the 7th of November 2017.

Did you know:

The Romanov family were executed in Yekaterinburg on the night of 16th-17th, July 1918. – Romanov Family Execution. Don’t worry, the novel doesn’t end with an execution.


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

Mr Mercedes – Review

Title: Mr. Mercedes (#1 Bill Hodges Trilogy)

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Thriller

Book procurement: Bought a copy from Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall.

Synopsis:

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

 

Review:

First Thoughts

So, I started this trilogy wrong. I read Finder’s Keepers which is the second novel in the Bill Hodges Trilogy. While you don’t have to read the first novel to delve into the second, it would be good to know what happened to Bill in the first book to understand him better in the second.

Also, I was better prepare to read a thriller rather than a horror. This trilogy is about a retired detective after all, so my expectations to be freaked out weren’t shattered. I got to enjoy the book from the get go.

The Story

Mr. Mercedes is the story of a man who plows a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of job-seekers, and the retired detective who decides he’s still useful enough to try figure out the who, and hopefully the why. Simple right? No. It is Stephen King after all so one can expect a lot of drama and many more thrills. Especially since the prologue is an entire chapter of getting to know the very crowd that ends up… dead. No it’s not a spoiler so don’t get all riled up.

The story is told from the perspective of both Bill Hodges and Mr. Mercedes himself, Brady Hartsfield. This gives insight into their minds and as the reader, I felt the unmistakable tension between the two minds. Of the cop on the brink of a breakdown who is thrown into an unsightly situation. Of the clearly crazy killer who is just too intelligent for his own good. That tension between them grows right through the novel until a very climatic (and stress inducing) end. Man I actually put the book down because I didn’t want to see that conclusion. Now that’s proper suspended disbelief.

“as if the cops expected the big gray sedan to start up by itself, like that old Plymouth in the horror movie,”
― Bill Hodges, Mr. Mercedes (Cheeky reference to Christine)

Writing

While Stephen King is no doubt a master of horror, he is just as brilliant at thrillers. The reason is simple, and I speak about it often when I review books by King: his characters are written to be real.

Bill Hodges is a retired detective. He’s old. He’s getting chubby. These little things attribute to his character and King writes him in such a believable way that it is easy to imagine him. To think as he does. To experience his life as though it were our own.

Brady is a unique character with his own issues including an alcoholic mother and a rather taboo relationship between them. He is also intelligent and knows how to fit into society. King captures him in such a way that I was getting paranoid. We don’t know who could be a ‘Brady’ in our daily lives… and that’s freaky.

Brady has seen them often when he’s driving the Mr Tastey truck. He waves to them and they wave back.

Everybody likes the ice cream man.

― Brady Hartfield, Mr. Mercedes

 

When King writes, even the environments come to life. Everything works together to build either the characters, the story or the tension. No word seems extraneous.

Also, one of the ways that King builds tension, which I also mention often, is his knack for foreshadowing. You know what’s coming up without it being a spoiler – and that adds tension to the building suspense.

 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to thrilling read, Mr. Mercedes rates itself up there with some of my favourites like Three by Ted Dekker and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Now I’m looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy. Because Stephen is King.

Without a head to stretch it, the red-lipped smile had become a sneer.

“Creepy as hell. You ever see that TV movie about the clown in the sewer?”

― Pete Huntley , Mr. Mercedes (Cheeky reference to IT)

Rating: A thrilling 4 out of 5


Did you notice that Bill Hodges and Brady Hartfield have the same initials? Just sayin’…

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

Joyland – Review

Title: Joyland

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Horror

Book procurement: Bought a copy from Exclusive Books – Clearwater Mall.

Synopsis:

College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truths about life—and what comes after—that would change his world forever.

A riveting story about love and loss, about growing up and growing old—and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time—Joyland is Stephen King at the peak of his storytelling powers. With all of the emotional impact of King masterpieces such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank RedemptionJoyland is at once a mystery, a horror story, and a bittersweet coming-of-age novel, one that will leave even the most hard-boiled reader profoundly moved.

 

Review:

First Thoughts

I read the synopsis on Goodreads and expected quite a horror from the King himself. The story itself was great but it didn’t give me nightmares, let alone tickle my horror bone. It’s much more of a mystery and coming-of-age novel than it is a horror. Which I guess is something I should be expecting and yet still fail to anticipate with each King novel I pick up.

Writing

It’s Stephen King so the writing is apt to be great and it is. Each word feels like it is necessary to the story and nothing was added for the sake of word count or flourish. The story starts off right off the bat with some insight to the main character Devin Jones. We are laid with the “coming-of-age” foundation and the oblivion of youth. As the story progresses this theme is revisited. The novel revolves around this a lot.

“When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”
~Devin Jones – Stephen King, Joyland

Is it horror? Well no. There a elements of horror in the novel. Specifically the legend of a murder in the “Horror House”. Devin is drawn to it as we would expect him to be. Madame Fortuna, the resident fortune teller, is not always right about her predictions but Devin are accurate. And no this is not a spoiler. Stephen King is known for his unambiguous foreshadowing and he dives right into it very early on.

Lastly, King writes to immerse you into the world he’s created and I was most assuredly immersed. I knew Devin, Tom, Erin, Lane, Fortuna and the Joyland amusement park as though I were there, or perhaps watched a film. Descriptions are clear, vivid and inviting. The characters come to life in their actions, moods, and emotions which King captures oh so well.

The Story

The overall story is much more a “thriller with horror elements” than it is a “horror with thriller elements.” Devin Jones narrates the story as a much older man, who is looking back at his Summer of 1973 working at Joyland, an amusement park in North Carolina. We are introduced to his friends Erin and Tom and the energy of an amusement park that we know will one day fade into nothing but for now is alive enough to have “charisma” to it.

“Climb aboard, Jonesy. I’m going to send you up where the air is rare and the view is much more than fair.”
~ Lane Hardy – Stephen King, Joyland

Devin Jones hears a rumour that there is a ghost in the horror house of Joyland. It becomes a mystery that he wants to solve. On top of that Madam Fortuna tells him a very peculiar future which Devin brushes off as just a sham. But part of him thinks there may be something to it.

Throughout the novel we re-live Jones’ summer. We experience his love and loss, his fears and anger, his sadness and hope. These elements reinforce the “coming-of-age” aspect and intertwine really well with the overall story.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to fault Stephen King. Some tend to find his character and world-building descriptions to be overbearing. I think they are his unique style and what makes his novels work.

I was watching Bag of Bones on Netflix and when Mike Noonan (played by Pierce Brosnan) drives through TR90 at Dark Score Lake, Maine, and he looks at the familiar places, it missed the Stephen King charm. Where every familiar house he passes gets its own “history” which you know will play a part later on in the book.

That “charm” is what makes Joyland a great book rather than an okay book. It’s what separates King from other novels and why I’ll keep reading his books even when they don’t become what I expect.

“The last good time always comes, and when you see the darkness creeping toward you, you hold on to what was bright and good. You hold on for dear life.”
~Devin Jones – Stephen King, Joyland

Rating: An engaging 4 out of 5

Eleanor and Park – Review

Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Young Adult Romance

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

Synopsis:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

Review:

First Thoughts

Oh man, this book makes me want to fall in love and experience all the gushy, mushy feelings of finding that one person who just gets you on a whole different level.

Every time I listen to Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – this book and its characters come to mind and my chest just fills up with incredible warmth. That’s how much I loved this book.

Writing

It is written with so much passion and realism and heartfelt emotion, I could imagine Eleanor and Park and Tina and Beeby and DeNice and Steven as real people. Tangible. As though I could go to that location and meet them in person.

Not only that, but to be able to experience the emotions of the characters without it feeling forced or cliche or anything of the sort – well that’s real talent. That’s what books are supposed to do. Suspended disbelief literally had my heart aflutter for a while.

It’s more than just a story about a girl in a difficult life and world experiencing the joy’s of meeting someone who takes her breath away. It’s more than just a story about a guy who meets a girl who just completes a hole he didn’t know he had. It’s not just another typical boy meets girl/girl meets boy kind of story. It’s richer. It’s stronger. It’s real.

Final Thoughts

It’s just an amazing book and I can’t fault it. I went through the ups and downs. I wanted to slap a few characters. I wanted to hug a few characters. I was completely enthralled by Rainbow Rowell’s writing style.

As a fan of horror and sci-fi, this romance was a breath of fresh air. With the right hint of humour, geeky knowledge trivia and music I actually listen to. Fantastic book. Fantastic read.

Rating: An amazing 5 out of 5

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


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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?

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Rules of the Game – Review

Title: Rules of the Game (Engame #3)

Author: James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

Genre: YA/Action

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

Synopsis:

The revolutionary Endgame trilogy concludes in this explosive finale to the series. One key remains—can the Players find it before the end of the world?

The strongest are left.
One final key remains.
The fate of the world is in their hands.

The world of Endgame is populated by twelve ancient bloodlines. In each line, a Player trains for a catastrophic event that has not yet happened—until the Calling. Once they were called, the Players set off on a journey in search of three ancient keys that will save not just their line, but the world. Two keys have now been found, and the remaining Players must find the final key—before Endgame brings about the ultimate destruction.

Review:

First Thoughts

 

You know there was a point where I literally put the book down, put my head between my knees and shouted obscenities at James Frey and Nils Johnson. Honestly. I was angry because they just… ugh. Anyway.

The story continues where where Sky Key left off, and the approach of Abbadon – the beginning of the end of the world. Once the final player gets all three keys, that’s it. Game over. And Keplar 22b will do anything to ensure that a winner is crowned. Heading into this novel, I was worried about where the story would go. Who would survive. Who would kill who. A lot of drama, flared tempers, one crazy player who is losing their mind, and the entirety of Earth at stake. Still brilliantly written.

Writing

 

The writing flows right through from the first book to the final book. You can’t tell it is written by two authors. We still switch between all the respective players, experiencing their side of the story. It’s so fascinating to know all sides of the story and wanting to yell at the characters in the book who don’t know that they should turn around!! Riveting writing.

The characters were all real to me. Their personalities shone through with each chapter, their motivations clear and relatable. There was still a lot of action. Sometimes I wondered just how intense these teens’ training was that they can so easily fly planes, steal a car in under 5 seconds, pull off headshots from miles away, and still be teens.

Final Thoughts

The ending felt slightly anti-climatic but fair. Well fair in how it ends but not who survives Endgame – okay not fair to me. I’m still upset as you can clearly see haha. I would still recommend this series to everyone who enjoys a good action-adventure, thriller, sci-fi story about ruthless killer teens hoping to win an ancient game set up by Makers who traveled to the Earth ages ago. An interesting blend of religious context and alien conspiracy theories amalgamated into a fantastic series.

Rating: A satisfying 5 out of 5


Have you read the Endgame series? What series have you read and enjoyed and wanted to punch the author for their secret reveals and unexpected deaths? What would you recommend I read next?

 

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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


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