Tuesday, 15 July 2014

'Irradiance: The Dream Guild Chronicles' Book One by David Bruns Book Review

Let’s say the Earth was dying. The Earth was dying and you had the option to either just die or to identify and move to another planet, which would you do? It doesn't matter which because even if Earth was dying, we don’t have the option of inter-planetary migration. It’s 2014. You’d think we would. This preamble gains relevance the further you read. I swear.



I read ‘Irradiance’ lately; the first book in the ‘Dream Guild Chronicles’ by David Bruns and it was great.
It’s another day as usual on the planet Sindra, where weather patterns and radiation from the sun have been steadily getting out of control. Maribel, an astrophysicist on the planet discovers that these weather patterns mean their sun is dying and that their only hope for survival as a race is inter-planetary colonisation. Unlike for us on Earth, this is actually an option for them so this is a fine idea, except there are certain forces intent on their carefully crafted and maintained society being kept together, even if the only way to do that is through grave endangerment.

The book is the first in a series and reads as such. There seemed a lot of plot set up for further development. Which is great because the plot is a damn good one. The Sindran society presented in the book and the planet Sindra itself seem so familiar yet distant in relation to Earth. Their society appears prosperous and peaceful and the people seem driven and focused but despite this, something sinister lurks. The entire society is homogenous but they didn’t get that way through natural selection. Maribel works as an astrophysicist but not because she necessarily wants to. It’s so perfect but the perfection only floats like scum on a base of fucked-upness.

I felt sort of cold reading this. Yes, it is ‘winter’ where I live right now but not cold like that. Sort of prickly, the way I would feel when I watched the ‘X-Files’. This book has a darkness to it which really appealed to me. It was really exciting and fast-paced as well, it just kept hitting, and then hitting some more. My one thing is that is ends on a cliff-hanger, really unexpectedly and I was very upset about that.

It was great though. A really sort of easy and engaging sci-fi read Four stars out of five. AND THE NEXT IN THE SERIES IS AVAILABLE. USE THE LINKS BELOW.


Website:                http://davidbruns.com/
Email:                     david@davidbruns.com
Facebook:             https://www.facebook.com/davidbrunswriter
Twitter:                  https://twitter.com/brunsdavid


-S

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

'South' By Lance Charnes Book Review

The last time I read a novel by Lance Charnes, I was VERY UPSET by the ending, trying to reconcile my hurt feelings with what was a really good book. Obviously I wanted to experience severe dissonance again; enter ‘SOUTH’ his second published novel.



So it is the year 2032 and everything sucks. I hate the term ‘dystopian’ but the book is set in dystopian future California, the USA, 2030s. And EVERYTHING SUCKS.

Society has imploded and EVERYTHING SUCKS. Shit you guys. I was reading this cringing because everything has gone wrong. Nora is an American Muslim lady and she works for the FBI. An event in 2019 involving a terror attack and misinformation of epic proportions turns everything to shit and she uncovers a very huge secret surrounding it. She and her family, harbouring this secret are in danger and have to get out of the United States. They need to go South. Enter Luis Ojeda, the man who is going to take them there.

Now, I am not an American person, neither am I a Mexican person, but I do know that there is some contention over immigration from one of those countries to the other, and you know from which country to which. I felt that with the struggle that Luis, Nora and her family had trying to go the other way over, leave alone the political and legal stuff Nora has going on, there was sort of a side-eye glance at the current day struggles of immigration between those two places.

The story is very fast. There are many things happening at once with many characters. I got the impression that I walked into an already very established landscape and I had to jog along to keep up.

This novel has some very heavy themes. Heavy like terrorism,patriotism, Islamophobia; they aren't in any way shoved down your throat but they are present and horribly jarring. The book is fiction, and set in the somewhat, sort of distant future but looking at the state of things now, you can see the situation in the book becoming our reality with enough social and political missteps.

I really liked this book. I got to the end and felt, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m back’; back in my room, in Nairobi, and getting late for class. It was very immersive you guys. THIS ENDING WAS VERY UPSETTING AS WELL, no spoilers but what can you do. Sensitive readers should beware of violence and colourful language.

Four stars out of Five.

Visit the author, Lance Charnes at his website: http://www.wombatgroup.com/
And read his tweets right here: https://twitter.com/lcharnes


-S

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

'Never Let Me Go' By Kazuo Ishiguro Book Review

I was overjoyed that I was taking a Literature course last semester. Overjoyed. I could read fiction for class. That is exactly the dream and completely the passion. While I was reading for class however, I could read very little outside of it, which means I have been putting off reading this novel since I got it as a gift on my last birthday.


‘Never Let Me Go’ is Kathy, a thirty-one year old remembering her childhood at the Hailsham school and the times she had there with her friends Ruth and Tommy, and the way she will go about her life now. Though things were seemingly idyllic, shit gets real, real fucking quick. YES CHILDREN I WILL BE POSTING SPOILERS.
You guys. This book was a downer like I have never read before. I mean, it’s great. It really is. It actually feels like Kathy is narrating things from memory which have probably been slightly misremembered and chunks of it forgotten a little bit and the narration is straightforward and fluid.
Maybe it is my morbid way of thinking but I totally clocked what the  Hailsham school was and who the students were before the reveal. Kathy and the rest of the students at the Hailsham school are clones of existing people, being brought up for the sole purpose of becoming organ donors until they die. It sneaks up on you a little bit. They go to a school which is like a boarding school, but they never leave. They all have last name initials but none of the students have full surnames. It is pretty horrible, and though that was the case, what is a horrible reality being explained in the book is done so in a manner that is somewhat delicate and not too off putting. More than waxing on the abstract ethical problems that obviously exist, the book looks at the people, the almost-people, the donors whose reality will never be the one that they want it to be and whose humanity is completely disregarded.
It brought to mind the realization in adulthood the more sinister truth of things, after living a childhood of ignorance. Loss and also stolen potential pervade the story and if you are in any way happy, read this book and that will change. It’s like nothing, being nothing and having nothing and being painfully aware of both of those things. It’s pretty short and I would recommend it to everyone. I didn’t cry but was hopelessly bummed after. It’s like 280 pages of having your face dragged in a sadness bog.
3 stars out of 5.
-S

Sunday, 2 February 2014

'The Wolf Of Wall Street' By Jordan Belfort Book Review

If anyone was wondering what it would be like to be my movie buddy, the answer is, it would suck. Why? Not because I have shit taste in movies, no, my movie taste eats yours and feeds the bones to your mother. It would be terrible because I am one of those assholes who must, MUST read the book of a movie before I can see it.
Does this mean I am going to review the 2013 movie of this book, yes, once I find a way to circumvent the fact that its been banned here in Kenya, I'll be all over it.
The book though. This is the second non-fiction book I have read this year already and fuck if it wasn't great.

Meet Jordan Belfort. Young man with a beautiful wife, a new family and a job in brokerage that makes him millions. Head of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, Jordan makes millions, and is not above circumventing the law to make a few more on top of the abundant that he already makes. His life is hookers, drugs and white collar crime and basically whether or not he will spiral out of control is a matter of when rather than if. Spoiler alert, he does, fantastically.

One thing I loved, and there were many, was the tone of the book. It had what I felt was a funny, dark sort of tone, the only tone really in which you can recount the shameless debauchery that takes place over the almost decade it follows. This worked for me because I appreciate the dark humour. It was funny, not in the ha-ha funny way, but in the 'I can't believe this shit, oh my gods' way. Some of the scenarios are utterly outrageous and the entire time it feels like, this is not real. The tone is shameless, almost daring you to believe everything that it is describing although it seems outrageous. He calls himself the 'Wolf' and says that the 'Wolf' is a persona, separate from himself, that he was performing as the Wolf which brought about a 'can I trust you' thing for me while reading.

Though this is a retelling of an actual period in this man's life, it was written in a way that is probably as close to fiction as it can get without a complete crossover. From the way he describes the characters, to the way he describes settings and events it is surprisingly well written, not just bare bones exposition.

The majority of it seemed a report of the wild ride he was having but the tone of the book drops like a rock when recounting the depths of his drug addiction near the end. It stopped being so amusing and became really fucking dark for a while. I literally felt guilty for having been so thoroughly entertained by his foibles up to that point. I felt there were moments of sincerity and vulnerability but they were few compared to the complete vulgarity that ran throughout the story. His ego is big, this one and that is probably what keeps him to a great degree unlikable. But then again, you have no business really liking a creep like him.

I found it hard to do things that were not reading this book. I was reading another book, I was thinking about this book. I was in school without this book, I was thinking about this book. I really liked it you guys and would not recommend it as readily as I would recommend anything else but probably would do so for the fact that it is a cautionary tale; what happens when you play with fire.... Martin Scorsese makes a movie about your life you get burned. This book is pure excess, wears you the fuck out. Obviously, if you are young or sensitive to drug abuse, sex and coarse language, read this book, you're gonna hate it.  5 stars out of 5.

-S

Sunday, 12 January 2014

'Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet' By Matt Kadish Book Review

After a week or so of total immersion in science fiction and fantasy, one's grasp on reality loosens. It loosens ideally to the point where if the pretty girl from class who you always thought was from West Virginia tells you she is really an alien and Earth is about 15 minutes from total detonation, you  believe her.



'Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet' is about just that, for at least the first of its three parts. The story then follows the literally and figuratively 'out-of-this-world' adventure that Jack and the friends he makes along the way have.

The hero of our story is terribly average, in fact, slightly below average teenager Jack Finnegan. Jack has had an absolutely shit day. He was late for school, had a fight with a bully and got detention. Surely, having to worry about a fleet of genocidal aliens coming after your planet is too much, all things considered am I right?

The tone of the book is casual, and in a way, I would say unhinged. It had a youthful imagination and absurdity about it, as well as giving plenty of insight into what teenage boys think about, which, as a person who has never been a teenage boy, I thought was hilarious. It tells a story of what is actual Armageddon in a really fun, sort of light manner. Though there are some serious parts, Jack hits us with a cheesy one-liner and then we can laugh as the smoke from that planet over there that just exploded dissipates.

Speaking of smoke dissipating, the story is surprisingly action packed, for the somewhat sedate beginning it had. One minute we are in Physics class and Jack is sassing his Professor, the next someone is being tortured to death-no spoilers-the next we are meeting aliens and frequently almost dying. Blame this on the last few weeks being total sci-fi/fantasy immersion for me but I couldn't help imagining this book as a fantastic graphic novel or 3-D film. Co-directed by J.J Abrams, Michael Bay and Peter Jackson...shit, I'd see it.

The book constantly brought to mind superheroes and video games for me, in a sort of nostalgic manner that made the reading experience really, colourful, and loud. I really like it you guys. And in the boring, adult way that I see things sometimes, there is a really interesting treatment of things like 'freedom', 'will' and 'choice' in the book. It ends on a bitch of a cliffhanger but that is because this is only the first in what is intended to be a series of seven books. Give this to your kids, your boyfriend, your pal who loves old school arcade games, your mother, everyone.

Just by the way, a peek at Mr. Matthew Kadish's (the author) social media and website was very, very much worth the clicks it took to get there.

FACEBOOK Fan Page
WEBSITE

-S

Friday, 9 August 2013

'Doha 12' By Lance Charnes Book Review

There was a time I thoroughly enjoyed thrillers. I still do, but there was a time I would read them almost exclusively. I went through a phase of reading whatever the fuck I wanted for a while and then picked up the Millennium trilogy. That is a thriller trilogy and Goddammit I hated it. Coming off of that clusterfuck of a series I read this novel.

I really enjoyed it.


This book does this thing that I feel all thriller books should do, and that is be engaging within the first 20 pages. And I mean thoroughly engaging. Very early in the book I had a million questions and was already swept up in the story.

What is the story? Well, between the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in Tel Aviv and terrorist sect Hezbollah in Lebanon, Miriam Schaffer, Philadelphia secretary and Jake Eldar, Brooklyn bookshop owner become unwittingly wrapped up in an international terror scandal. Along with 10 other civilians, their names were used by Mossad in an extermination mission of a high ranking Hezbollah commander in Doha, Qatar hence the Doha 12. A Hezbollah hit team is now knocking off the civilians one by one.

There is so much to the book. Such a rich backdrop to what is unfolding. The characters have their own backstories which are great and the scale of what is going on is amazing. Besides following Miriam and Jake, the author fleshes out the secondary characters like the Mossad agents and the members of the hit team. Alongside Miriam and Jake's story, there are several subplots which  are really great and do well to build the story, it being an INTERNATIONAL thriller, it has a lot to it. literally. These characters are humanized, and the weight of what they do is shown to weigh on them, more than in the physical manner.

I felt for a lot of the book that it was a few steps ahead of me. The action was very fast, and many things in many places happened at once. This kept it exciting and gave an urgency to everything. The book only spans a matter of months, but things become so drastically different in the individual characters' lives. There were a few parts that were so ridiculously sad, and others where I felt, 'Isn't it too much? Haven't they had enough?' The treatment of life and death in the literal, figurative and spiritual sense is remarkable, as well as living in fear and allowing circumstances to leave you shortchanged. The ending was satisfying but so much had been lost since the beginning, there is truly something ferocious and manic which allows us to exceed what we think ourselves capable of.

This book made me sweat. It was great. There are some visceral emotional and violent portions in case anyone avoids those but what a great read regardless. Stars out of five... four.

Purchase on Amazon HERE.
Stalk the author AT HIS SITE.
Follow him on Twitter HERE.

-S


Friday, 26 July 2013

'The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest' by Stieg Larsson Book Review

Who's managed to read through all the books in the Millennium Trilogy?

Well, I would suppose lots of people, who I now join. It's finally happened.



It is the last book in the trilogy and the tail end of Lisbeth Salander's misadventure. The book resumes where the last left off; with Lisbeth critically injured, an international gangster momentarily subdued and Blomkvist ready and willing to carry the entire mess to court for Lisbeth's well deserved justice.

The book is mainly about Lisbeth's journey in police custody from nearly dead to court to be tried for various crimes she both did and did not commit. She however, in custody has to rely on an outside team headed by the one and only, head meddler in her affairs, Blomkvist to uncover the truth about the people trying to get her and to win her case.

There is a load, LOAD of new characters entering the picture during this novel. Last book in the trilogy and must be like this? A lot of them were absolutely necessary but I could have lived without a lot of the character development they were afforded and how much of the book was dedicated to them. I know, when is character development ever a bad thing? When the character about whom the book is written starts to look like part of the support. I KNOW it is probably towards the end of illustrating the sheer scale of what is going on but shit, we don't care about these bitches, and hundreds of pages without apparent plot development is really disheartening.

The book's denouement, I won't say what it is because spoilers and epilogue pretty sweet. There was a section, AS USUAL after the climax where a load of nothing happens for about fifty pages but after that, the book wraps up nicely. In fact, among the maddening subplots, a resolution to Lisbeth's dramas was a wrapping up neatly.

The plot is draggy as all hell and there are these subplots, dear Lord. There was a little less action than there was in the last two books but that considered, the book did not have to include as much as it did. I sensed padding. A load of it. The book has these vaguely exciting events whose excitement is like is just flat because the plot drags itself along so much. Then again, perhaps at this point I was just a little jaded.

Like the previous books it is a bit NSFW and potentially scandalous for sensitive readers. I thought getting to the end would get me on #TeamSalander but nope, still can't stand the girl. It is a challenge feeling anything for her because despite being served a terrible fate, she does a lot of the damage all on her own. I feel that she makes no real effort herself to really respect people and be civilly responsible. I have to say though that she does grow as a character somewhat from the first novel. The way a 5cm tall bean stalk can grow into a 7.5cm beanstalk.

Verdict on the trilogy though? Does not stand up to rereading, as far as I am concerned but all the reviews I have heard about this book trilogy have been good. IDK whether we read the same thing but perhaps it just was not to my personal taste. It is an intricate and developed story-line  shocking at times, suspenseful at times, actually very good at times but maybe just not for me. A lot of people really appreciated it so I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving it a bash.

-S