Tag Archives: book reviews

#BookReview: “The Midnight Lake Band of Indians” by John Blackbird

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Published: January 29, 2016
Available: Amazon Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Native American
Source: Author

Synopsis: “As Indians in the 21st century we have reclaimed our own voices, and now portray ourselves and entertain on mainstream media venues for TV, Film Stage and Radio. As Indians playing Indians in a contemporary world, we are no longer confined to the pre-Reservation, buckskin clad brave and sighing maiden, but rather we have changed the narrative to a narrative that tells our story.

A Trilogy of The Midnight Lake Band of Indians is a collection of three stories from a Cree First Nations community recalling an unhappy event, unhappy relationship, unfaithful friendship and dealing with an emptiness. It’s a story of journey and sacred choices we make, whether we know it or not.”

Review: A presentation of a fictional native community and characters in stark detail and often vivid description, the three stories of the Midnight Lake Band of Indians have great depth of thought and storytelling that can teach and from which perceptive readers might learn. While it is fictional, one imagines it may partially be based on the author’s observations, experiences, even actual events, as many such works tend to be. Certainly it’s reflective of the struggles, internal and external complications, and hugely affective brutal colonization of natives and the latter-day results. All facets of indigenous culture, identity, beliefs and the peoples themselves have been assaulted, stereotyped and systematically oppressed for hundreds of years directly or indirectly. In any such situation, the traumatization is long-lasting, highly extensive, and present even now, as Blackbird simply shared in three “slice of life” tales but even in such situations, as demonstrated here, there is clearly evident resilience and beauty.

Writing, editing and publishing is a process, and should definitely be a learning experience as editing and formatting can improve with time and experience. Here the writing is abrupt, in present tense, almost screenplay in style and therefore challenging to understand continuity occasionally, but tone and characterization was always clear. At times I questioned the effectiveness of the method, but I respected  the author’s choice, and in the end it worked. It served the purpose of driving plots forward and building palpable tension that resulted in almost inevitable conclusions.

It is a tremendous accomplishment to finish and publish any work in my opinion, especially with themes or topics that may be difficult, but works like “A Trilogy of the Midnight Lake Indian Band” are absolutely necessary, even crucial to First Nations survival and progression in particular. Stories like these, despite some viewing them only as representative of stereotypes, can actually give hope because they are critical examples of natives actually presenting themselves. I didn’t see the characters or situations as stereotypical, but merely representative of the realities of too many natives experience and/or live with every day.

Reminiscent of New Zealand’s world-reknown Maori writer Alan Duff, who used “manner of speaking” in an unconventional way to set the mood and give his characters unique personalities and voice, John Blackbird also created a quite visual, unforgettable work because of this ability. One not all writers possess. An outstanding debut, powerful and poignant even when presenting ugly realities, utilizing a sparse style that heightened impact. I definitely hope to read more in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Blackbird is Plains Cree and a member of the Waterhen Lake Cree First Nations located in Northwestern Saskatchewan, Canada (where the prairie meets the pine). He is a descendant of the original Blackbird, who travelled north with Sitting Bull after Little Big Horn. He lives in Leipzig, Germany, where his book was penned. Says the author, “There is a great interest in the North American Indians (thanks to Karl May) and while he wrote about an imaginary Indian, I have written about my real Indianz.” Continue reading

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Native American

#BookReview: “The Story of Lucius Cane” by Vanya Ferreira #DarkFantasy

vfGenre: Dark fantasy
Length: Short Story
Available: Amazon, Feb. 9, 2016
Source: Author

Synopsis: “London, 1794. Lucius Cane, a peculiar vampire, comes upon an opponent the likes of which he has never seen before – a brute with remarkable abilities. But not all is as it seems as their encounter unfolds in a manner that neither of them expected.”

Review: “The Story of Lucius Cane” is a short that promises to be just the beginning in a series of work by Vanya Ferreira. It introduces the characters of Lucius Cane, a vampire, and Jack Estenborough, a.k.a. “The Hound” who became a “half-kind” werewolf after being targeted and marked by a mysterious wolf. Former farmer, turned pirate turned assassin and hunter, Jack is hired to eliminate the debonair yet deadly blood-drinker, but they’re both in for a surprise when the confrontation begins.

Authors newly launching their work into the evolving market of online publishing often learn quickly, sometimes by trial and error. Enthusiasm is great and very much needed, but also the attention to little details such as sentence structure, word choice and repetition, but those are things that can improve with time and experience. This new characters in the “dark” world of lycans and vampiris will doubtless be welcomed by the many lovers of the genre, and as I understand more ebooks will follow so their backgrounds and stories can expand.

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Filed under Dark Fiction, Fantasy, Reviews

Sanctuary by Kris Kramer

Sanctuary-Cover-Final-380x507

Review: One of the first things I noticed about Sanctuary, as compared to a lot of indie books in addition to ones traditionally published, was the length. Sanctuary is well-constructed and balanced, and approximately 260 pages, which especially for its genre, I’ve found to be rather rare.  Some readers want longer books in order to get their supposed “money’s worth”, but if there is too much information, which hinders the story the itself, I’ll take a shorter work that flows well over a longer book that too long lags in places, any day of the week. This one, for the most part, had a flowing pattern though in the way of descriptive passages, showing instead of simply telling and smoother connectives would have improved that for me.

I have a distinct clause in my review request guidelines these days, which was updated not because I do not privately read works that may have religious or spiritual themes of some kind, but for review purposes, authors whose works I have read in those genres and may disagree with some of those aspects have ironically and solely been those abusive in their response to the review. Life’s too short for that nonsense. So, this work was on the edge of the religious themed fiction, as the main character is a priest which influences much of the storyline and dialogue. For the time period, however, even if I found it tiresome at times, this was understandable and in character for Daniel. The location itself, ancient Wales, was of particular interest as due to personal curiosity and a familial attachment, I began studying about Cymru over two decades ago.

Daniel, the protagonist is believable and distinct, but for my personal tastes the Christian overtones and theme as a whole, would limited my return to this world and life. Santuary is a solid read, which lovers of ancient history may very well enjoy, and is descriptive, gripping, and filled with action and emotionally engaging characters and situations. Sanctuary is just one of the publications of The 4th Realm, a collective group of writers specializing in indie fiction and non-fiction.

Description: In 9th century Britain, chaos rules as kingdoms splinter, Vikings invade from all corners, and lives and fortunes are lost to those with the biggest sword and the smallest shreds of morality. When a young priest, Daniel, witnesses a lone warrior save his village from savage raiders, he believes he’s seen a miracle, and he follows the reclusive warrior on his mysterious trek across the island, hoping to find his own path in this brutal and unforgiving world.

Daniel’s journey takes him to places he’d long since left, forcing him to face his past, along with dour dwarves, canny druids, and an army of Viking warriors. When he meets a captive woman with strange abilities amongst the ruins of humanity’s savage and unforgiving past, Daniel will face his true enemy, a powerful demon, who waits for his dominion over man to be complete.

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Reviews, Writers and Writing

Chainsaw Corpse Cop by Wol-vriey

ccc-50Review: Chainsaw Cop Corpse is definitely and firmly in the bizarro genre, and in many ways hardcore in its details, yet it’s quirky, straight-forward and cleanly told. Needing to suspense belief and not ask questions such as “Why is this happening or why is this person doing this or that?” it is still enjoyable because it’s different.

Just from reading its description, I would have passed on this work as I do have the clause in my guidelines: “…whether its sexual explicitness or violence: they need to be relevant to the story itself in some ways. Not just description for description’s sake.”  I rarely do it, but I wrote the author and pointed out my clause, but was assured it was relevant to the story itself…and it was.

I like the unusual and weird, even if graphic in content, but honestly, though a story may contain graphic everything, I don’t care for descriptions that might be read by anyone, which contain curse words and slang. That’s for the reader to be experienced by choice once purchased, etc. in my opinion. The other thing that was an issue for me was the format of the story: each sentence or paragraph, usually with no more than one or two sentences, were separated with line spaces. Especially with e-readers, this can be tiring to the eyes and takes up more space than necessary.

Certainly, it’s not to everyone taste,  but if you want a different kind of read, a work that is amusing in its way, shocking at times, but deeply and imaginatively graphic, give Chainsaw Corpse Cop a try.”

Description: “Simon is having a bad fucking week. When you’re a D.C. Detective, every week is a bad week, but this week has been a BAD freaking week.

For starters, some psychopath has been murdering people, stealing their body parts and smearing their corpses with peanut butter.

To make matters worse, the contract killer “Boots” has recently resurfaced, and his girlfriend’s chainsaw arm destroyed his bed when he made her climax.

To top it all off, Simon’s been pissing random body parts for days. Ears, fingers, toes… And if that weren’t bad enough, now he has to drop a deuce!”

  • Published: November 2012
  • Publisher: Bizarro Press
  • ISBN: 0615731287
  • ISBN13: 9780615731285
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

Wol-vriey is Nigerian and quite tall.

He currently resides in a state of uneasy stalemate with his threatening-to-thin-beyond-redemption hair, and believes there actually are things that go bump in the night.
Wol-vriey recycles the ridiculous into reasonable reality for the reader.

His WEIRRRD philosophy? WEIRRRD = Warp/Write Everything into Realistic Ridiculous Readable Distorted Dream Dimension Descriptions.

He is the author of Alice’s Adventures in Steamland, The Bizarro Story of I, Chainsaw Cop Corpse, and Vegan Zombie Apocalypse.

As well as appearing on Bizarro Central and in online e-zines, his WEIRRRD fiction is featured in numerous print compilations, including the Bizarro anthologies The Big Book of Bizarro and Tall Tales with Short Cocks.

Wol-vriey is also the warped mind behind the band ‘Rocksurface’ (www.myspace.com/rock.ng), and the experimental electronic ensemble ‘Earxygen’ (http://soundcloud.com/earxygen)

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Filed under Bizarro, Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Hard Core, Horror, Reviews

Human Population Academy: Laws of Human Nature by Kate Bazilevsky

2940015771367_p0_v1_s260x420Review:  Whether its a theory, belief system, or science: there are many schools of thought, which may have similarities or basic premises that are common enough to be believable, reasonable and/or acceptable in some way. I can completely agree that humans need to live in harmony with Nature, and also that there are similarities between some people/populations based on a variety of factors, though there are no hard or fast rules regarding that.

“We people have mysteries. Things we cannot explain. Things we don’t know how they came to be or how they stay alive but it’s all part of life. For some things we have legends and tales passed down from our ancestors, and they’re enough though now we have science and all kinds of stuff which explain how things work inside. Or they try to anyway. There are still mysteries and will always be. There are some things you don’t need answers to in order to have a happy life or just get by even.

Every body should just be how they are and be allowed to. I can be happy with very little because their definition does not apply to me. They might be unhappy with what I had. I think that’s why they are so unhappy and so far from the earth. They’re always looking at someone else and trying to change them when they don’t really know themselves in the first place.” M.G., Lakota Elder, from a speech   I recorded during an Indian Education gathering. This is my perspective.

Living in Germany as I do, and using its modern society as an example, there are so many people who are searching for some meaning to life and they look to this or this or that belief system, philosophy, ancient teachings or people, trying to find explanations on the “whys” of life and living, their failures in relationships, career, and so forth. They can fasten onto some particular belief or explanation that more suits their needs or what they know of themselves, things gleaned from their experiences and observations, and say, “Aha!” That belief system or philosophy can then explain everything to them they need, and they begin to work their lives around it and advocate it to others. That is what I felt this work delivered, but for me, I simply believe there can be too much overthinking, too much overstatement and all inclusiveness in terms.

All in all, it is somehow more of a distraction from simply coming to know yourself through yourself, whatever that takes, though some people clearly would feel Catalogs, manipulation modes, things advocated by this system, are tools to help an individual do so. I think the philosophy based on Shan Hai Jing manuscript is something you have to personally accept and believe in, and its a model among thousands or millions of others, and simply one interpretation of what the “human psyche” is, encompasses and needs. It was certainly a readable, well put together work that an individual should try for themselves, and see what it means to them.

Description: “Have you ever considered that the root or cause of many problems and misunderstandings are fundamental differences between people? The solution to problems is in knowing these differences and living in harmony with Nature, because laws of Nature apply to everything and everyone!

Power gained through the knowledge about Nature and programs implanted by Nature guarantees the survival of the fittest, and enables anyone to organize things around them to their own benefit. Education increases one’s cultural level and, as a result, one’s survival rate in the environment.

The results of this research include detailed recipes on how to develop, solve any problems, improve sex life, and more. Now any human being can achieve their goals and dreams, become stronger, healthier, wiser, sexier, more powerful, and get to such heights, of which many do not even know. The journey is worth it! By learning how to live in harmony with Nature itself, together we can advance this civilization as a whole. Begin your journey right now!”

  • Genre: Non-fiction, Philosophy, Self-Help
  • Publisher: HPA Press
  • Publication date:  Nov. 18, 2012
  • Available at Amazon
  • ASIN B00A7E1D78
  • Source: Author

Author Profile:

Kate Bazilevsky was born in Moscow, Russia and grew up in Boston, MA, USA. She holds a degree in MIS and Psychology. In 2008, she began her studies in the field of Non-traditional Psychoanalysis, based on research by Andrey Davydov and Olga Skorbatyuk.

In 2011, Kate founded the Human Population Academy, and opened a publishing company called HPA Press in 2012. HPA Press publishes works that further Human Population Academy’s mission: to educate people around the world about the laws of human Nature, the Catalog of Human Population (Catalog of Human Souls) and scientific research of its source Shan Hai Jing based on discoveries by A. Davydov and O. Skorbatyuk.

Website http://www.humanpopulationacademy.org/

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Filed under Books, Lifestyles & Health, Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Psychology, Reviews