Book Review: Bone Tiki – David Hair

Bone Tiki – Wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have ordered the next book in the series.

The first few pages for me were a little slow, and I was not encouraged, but persisted. 

Using a mixture of culture, heritage, mythology, legends, and historical knowledge, David Hair was able to bring life to those well known mythological/ancient creatures and Maori legends in a way that captivated my imagination and soul, and with a balance of backstory weaved amongst the story to keep it moving forward. 


The aspects I liked were:
1) That David Hair was able to use legends and myths within Maori culture that are established. Based in Taupo, and having spent much time in the Hawkes Bay and Hastings regions as well as further north. Using the taniwha of Lake Taupo/Waikato River coming up over the bridge in Taupo was so real, I could envision it clearly. The legend of HatuPatu, is a place that I always honk at on my way north, but never really knew significance. There were so many. But the author really brought them to life in a whole other way, by not only paying tribute to these Maori legends/mythical creatures/people but ellaborating as to their story and significance to the region and Maori people. The Opepe battle scene is real along the Napier-Taupo Highway, and so that leads me into my second point.

2) I liked the attention to detail with not only the significant locations, and legends, but also the scenery. It was so vivid, the walking along the rivers and through the bush.

3) Whether the ellaborations on existing legends and myths that are brought to life in this book are entirely true or not, is not a hundred percent clear to me. But there was definitely an aspect of realism to this book. It has been cleverly done. I loved the part about riding the Taniwha up the Waikato river and all other (smaller) taniwhas rose their heads.

4) The character of Wiri was captivating, as too was that of the dog. Wiri reminded me of a friend of mine from high school that actually died in a river along the Napier-Taupo Highway. But his presence and character was so familiar, it drew me in. Also, to note, his entrance into the book was powerful. I was like ‘wow – who is this?’ 

5) I liked the character development of all the characters – Mat, Kelly, Wiri, Tama, etc. They kept growing and gaining more depth.

This is definitely a book I would read again, and recommend. Great selection guys.

Two things I picked up on was a catastrophic spelling mistake – only one. And that this book is categorized as a YA.

Advertisement

Book Review: Halfway to the Grave

Frost, J. (2007). Halfway to the grave. New York, USA: Harper Collins Publishers.

Author:

Jeaniene Frost is an American author who has penned New York Times and USA Today bestselling fantasy – The Night Huntress series. Halfway to the Grave is the first book in the series.

Summary: 

The product of a non-consensual tryst, Cat Crawfield is different but not in the way most humans consider. She is born half-vampire, half-human. Filled with a vengeance towards the very undead that ruined her mother’s life, she crosses paths with Bones. Forced into a partnership, Cat trains under Bones, to hone her deadly skills and lure vampires to their death with her beating heat. Then pursued by a ring of human enslaving vampires, Cat and Bones must choose a side.

Analysis:

From the first paragraph, I was hooked. The first three chapters were all action, with backstory interwoven in small increments, so the flow of the story isn’t interrupted.

With all the action sequences, there is a building romance between Cat and Bones. It is fierce and primal. In the early stages, Cat is disgusted at the very thought of him, and plans to kill him the first chance she gets. What struck me most about this romance, was hate turned to love. In the end, she chose to run away, to protect him. The last line of the book, she hopes that Bones will come find her.

The complexity of their bond and the distaste between Bones and Cat at the beginning, reminds me of Jay and Stone. The moment Stone is attacked, Jay still hides his feelings for her from Velkan. From the relationship of Cat and Bones, I am going to rewrite the scenes following the attack, to insert Jay’s inability to hide his feelings anymore. Velkan will become aware of them, Stone will not. It will add conflict between the two men.

The language used, for the intimate scenes wasn’t explicit. I find it hard to write intimate scenes, but reading one is catapulting for me. Frost was able to enact scenes and movements, in a way that wasn’t crass. I will put the intimate scenes between Velkan and Stone, under the microscope. Tightening their touches, and intimate interactions, but keeping within my own voice. Forcing an intimate scene, is not what I feel comfortable with. It will bring the characters of Stone and Velkan closer together, and readers get a better sense of Velkan’s character.

The use of non-explicit language to lift the tension between Stone and Jay, when they fall on the couch together, by describing what Stone is feeling using touch sensory, the context could become electric. 

It would change the entire dynamic between Jay and Stone; Stone and Velkan; Jay and Velkan; attributing to a building tension.

Book Review: The Awakening by L.J. Smith

The Awakening is the first book in The Vampire Dairies series. The main plot follows main character, Elena Gilbert, who is a doppelganger for a centuries old vampire who caused romantic havoc between a pair of brothers, Stefan and Damon; whilst she tries to readjust to normal life after losing both parents in an accident.

The subplot follows Elena and her encounters with a black crow, unaware it’s Stefan’s brother Damon. The crow appears at the most harrowing times, causing unease. The subplot is crucial to moving the story forward because it lays the foundation for Damon’s entrance, his fascination with Elena, and shows us that his character is darker and more dangerous than Stefan’s.

I applied an interwoven subplot to my story by the lingering strangers following Danielle, i.e. “standing at the edge of a darkened alleyway, was a man. His eyes were locked on me, even as the sea of people crossed his path continuously. I stared back at his eyes for what felt like a minute, he did not look away or falter…and as I looked back to the man, he was gone.” This intertwines with the main plot by letting the reader know everything is not as it seems, it adds to the external conflict when all is revealed to Danielle.

Smith, L.J. (2007). The vampire diaries: the awakening and the struggle (1st ed.). New York City: HarperCollins Publishers

Deadly Bedfellow (A Short Fiction written from the POV of a snake)

As the earth starts to cool, and darkness falls across the veld, I make my way out from my
hidey-hole. The heat to hot and the cold too cold. It is in the shadows of summer night’s that is my place of delight. Along the dry, blades of grass, I go at fair pace. A great mountain ahead, with holes plenty. Vibrations felt across the earth, I follow with eager.

From memory before my slumber, a number of prey were at my pickings. Caged, unable to escape, just room for me to enter and eat.

Into the mountain I go. Beneath the bristles, a gap just my size. Undetected in the
pitch black. On my stomach I slide along the smooth, cool surface. From side to side I cast
my eyes. Not a single rodent does scurry; no fluffy big one, nor a predator in sight. Without a sound, silent, and deadly in the night, I slide on.

Weaving around and beneath strange rocks, a sudden vibration stops me in my tracks. My eyes dart from side to side, and under on large mound I hide. A large predatory creature walks past. Not a hiss I did sound, but as my tongue flickered out and retracted just as fast my mind registers the molecules of a scent. Picked up by my tines, it is sweet, familiar, delicious. I flick my tongue back out to confirm and in less than a second, I am sure. It is not in the direction of the animal that just past. I wait curled in defence hoping to remain undetected. It has been months of torpor, and now that I’ve rested, it was time to rise.

Sidewinding, flicking my tongue, eyes honed, I follow the aroma. Rounding the
corner, I twist and bend and with a twinge of glee, my hunger may come to an end. In sight,
some small animal, but bigger than me. Confused for a moment, I paused, for this smells like those prey that were once cooped around here. Such delicacy, my tummy grumbles. My mind does not wish to reason as to why this one looks different. Smells like food, must be food. Focused with eyes opened wide, raising my head, stealthily I wriggle closer.

Round and round I turn; up and up I go. My salivary glands tap into the alveoli, where my stored reserves are kept. So potent is that first strike, after such rested inactivity, it will only take one bite. Head weaving from side to side, trying to decide where I shall strike. Inch by inch, sneaking closer, now a mere metre. It twitches as it sleeps so unaware.

Near it heads the scent is stronger. Perhaps this end is tastier. My stomach growls at me to hurry up already, such predatory impatience. There is no rush, this animal will not run or fight.

Rising. Head upright, back arched straight, no need for my beautiful hood. Such a shame I won’t get to flan it. With clear concise, my eyes narrowed. I lunge forward, striking hard, my fangs sink in with a ripping sound. I retract and pull back as the animal jumps, but not to their feet. I strike again and again, my weapon released. The animal’s makes a loud noise, the vibrations are strong, and jumps over top of me. Before I can strike again, they run out of sight.

My stomach rumbles in defeat, no meal for me, but a small satisfaction as my work
cannot be undone. I scorn myself with grim dismay, one shot, blown. The animal’s blood
lingers in my mouth, my tines detecting its mistake. This was not like the prey I once fed on here, no, it was different, not so sweet. How could I have been so wrong? But there was no
time to wallow in defeat. Vibrations thudded across the land.

Down I slid, not bothering to wind or zigzag. Along the cool, smooth floor I go, and through the gap of bristles that scratch. A large predator vibrating near my back. I hurry into the shadows, not slowing, not one bit. No trepidation felt, just a will to live and eat.

Any lingering warmth from the day’s warmth long gone, I slide between the blades. I raise my head to check my eyes are not wrong. Another mountain, full of holes. I do not dare
enter this one. I am not designed to strike every probable food that crosses my path. One meal is all I need for now. Large prey is not ideal. If attacked that is different, my predatory instincts take over and rather than end up dead, it is a fight to the death and with my toxin, it wouldn’t be mine. That was the one resolve I found comfort in. It had seen me right in all my years, even as a young, smaller, version of myself, my fight had be wicked and my bite fatal. Sure I had scars, but then who didn’t. Even the best fighter at the top of the predatory chain had to have some.

It’s on to the next house where the same fate awaits, but this time, let’s hope the animal does not wake.

Short Story Review: Arrangement in Black and White by Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker is an American short-story writer and poet and became one of the greatest humourists of her generation. Arrangement in Black and White was published in 1927.

This short story follows the story of the main character – a woman, and her dialogue with the host of the party, and an African-American musician. The dialogue between the characters is how the author helps reveal the woman’s character as she socialises at a predominately white party. It raises the issue of racial discrimination that African-American people suffered in the first half of the twentieth century in America.

I think this short story is brilliant, and its use of dialogue to show the undertones of the self-appointed racial superiority is brilliant. It is what is meant by her twisted words that is more revealing than her waffling on contradicting herself every few sentences. I like how the author lets the woman talk way too much, and through conversation her gossipy and white judgemental side is apparent, allowing for the realism of racism between whites and coloured people to shine through. It is a clever use of words and tone that helps sets this story.

What I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was the main character. I just wanted to tell her to shut up, so it was humorous to me that she sabotaged herself.

This was one of my favourites to review because I learnt that allowing a character to unapologetically be themselves, and not holding their tongue, it makes for a rather wicked way of telling a story and shows the readers her true nature and story by her actions and dialogue. Parker, D. (1927). Arrangement in black and white. New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1927/10/08/arrangement-in-black-and-white

Flash Fiction Exercise: Wildest Dream Phone Call

Outside, grey blankets overhead act as a net, but one without holes, preventing the rain from falling any longer. A tree that stands crooked outside the window, groans. A glistening cobweb, decorated with caught raindrops, and the busy red-striped, black spider, with legs spindlier than knitting needles, plucks at the reforming of broken strings. Trees shadowing the window mirror upside down in the puddles. The residual drip drops of lingering catchment hit the puddles, causing them to ripple in circular waves. My old ticker clocks into rapid action at the erupting noise from my phone on the coffee table beside my old, tangerine armchair. Walking as urgent as I can with a bad hip, I answer the incoming call. “Hello.”
“Hello, is this Mr. Forrester?” a male voice asks.
“Yes. Who is this?”
“This is Doctor Nobi up at Taupo Hospital.”
“Ah, right. Is everything alright with Daisy?” I ask.
“Yes, yes, your wife’s episode was only minor. In fact, you can pick her up this afternoon, around three.”
I drop to my knees. My heart explodes as a wave of relief and happiness fills me. Tears roll down my cheek.
My wife, my Daisy is coming home.

Writing Exercises: Three Sentences Rewrite

Sentence 1: Marie hurried down the steps.

As she stepped out her front door, the icy cold wind slapped her in the face, her breathe smoked like she was having a cigarette, and her eyes became glassy in the bitterness of the weather. How could she have forgotten the Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Marie thought to herself with her cheeks flushed red in embarrassment as she hurried down the rattling four flights of steps to her newly purchased red hatchback car. She only had twenty minutes to fight the Thanksgiving crowds and traffic to get to Coles before it closed. She prayed as she drove, hoping there would still be a Turkey left.

Sentence 2: I went up the tree-lined driveway.

So many thoughts scrambling through my head right now. All my fears, hopes, dreams, and heartache of this moment were now going to become a reality. I had wanted and waited for this moment to happen for so long. Walking up the tree-lined driveway, each step closer getting heavier, I had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The silence walking between and under the towering trees that shadowed me was unsettling, a little eerie, like the silence before a storm, making me even more nervous and apprehensive. The excitement of this long awaited moment was overrun with the fear of being unloved, she was my biological mother after all, surely she felt some love towards me.

Sentence 3: Kevin and Angela fought.

Standing in line waiting for their turn, Angela and Kevin fought between themselves laughing as to who was going to go first down the water slide. They became so engrossed in who was going to go first, they had forgotten the platform they were standing on was wet and slippery. Angela poked out her tongue and pushed Kevin. He grabbed her forearm to stop himself from falling over, but they both slipped over and landed on their bottoms with a gigantic thud. Embarrassed with flushed red cheeks, they couldn’t do anything but laugh.

Book Review: Safari by Tony Park

Based in Zimbabwe for the most part Safari follows Canadian researcher Michelle Parker, her interactions withFletcher Reynolds, a lodge owner in the safari business. She jumps at an opportunity to visit the mountain gorillas, but the head of Reynold’s anti-poaching unit makes her start to rethink her decision.

I liked Park’s first-hand knowledge of places and wildlife, making the descriptions vivid, and using sound to compliment visual imagery. I applied this idea of combining senses in a sentence to my own writing, to bring vivid imagery to mind: “The odd cat knocking over trash cans, vagabonds sleeping along the walls wrapped with cardboard.”

Park balanced the pace of the fast-paced novel by using short sentences to break up the long descriptive sentences. It felt balanced, it kept the flow moving. Following long sentences, I placed shorter sentences before or after, to keep the story moving forward, i.e. short, short, long – “Spine tingling, heart pounding, I broke into a run. It wasn’t far to my building, only about one hundred metres. My black-laced boots pounded the pavement as I raced past a few late shoppers, listening keenly for the sound of someone trying to catch up to me”

Flash Fiction Exercise: Stuck on an Island – Day 52 Diary Entry

Day 52
The flames from the fire have begun to dwindle for yet another night. It’s a romantic notion. Penning my deepest thoughts by candlelight of sorts. The gentle caress of the ocean lapping at the shore, like a lullaby gentling me to slumber.
The stars dazzle like twinkling diamonds. I can’t help but stare. Only a quarter moon tonight.
The sand beneath me is cool. It’s the only place to sit where the large green ants won’t attack and bite me. Little buggers.
There is no breeze. No rustling in the tree canopy. No haunting whistles of wind whipping through the forest. Every footfall of wild animals draws my attention. I never know if one will become curious enough to approach me.
I heard them again today. The voices. Carried along the with wind as whispers. The island
isn’t inhabited but I still won’t step foot in the caves at the base of the waterfall.
I must head inland tomorrow to retrieve fresh water again. It’s a tedious trek, back and
forth, carrying small amounts in my makeshift bucket.
Oh, and my lips cracked again today and bled. The residual salt from the ocean spray made
them sting

Book Review: The Young King by Doug Wilson

The third and final installment of this trilogy, and it didn’t disappoint. The final battle between good and evil. I loved that the characters had now matured into young adults (teenagers), and had developed their abilities. Peter and Siobhan explore the depths of their friendship in a lighthearted manner and that was awesome. Siobhan is a fierce character and a natural fighter.
In this book we see the ancient societies, such as the Roman legions and commanders – which is such a neat inclusion.
I personally liked the dynamics of one of the villains, Wulfric.
This book is a great ending and closure for the trilogy. I recommend this book to all aged eleven and older.