Heir of Doom (The Roxanne Fosch Files #2) By Jina S. Bazzar Review!

 

Heir of Doom (2019) by Jina S. Bazzar is the second book in the Roxanne Fosch Files series.

 

This series definitely needs to be read in order so that the reader knows what is happening. There is a lot of main character Roxanne’s backstory and history in book one of the series and the prequel. This would help readers know what is happening in a lot of book two.

In this book, Roxanne meets with a young child who is ten called Mwara. Mwara is the daughter of Elizabeth, the woman who Roxanne thought was her mother. Mwara has come for help as she is scared that she is not Elizabeth’s daughter and feela like the PSS is out to hurt her. Soon after the child goes missing. Roxanne begins to search for Mwara and along the way learns more about her past and her family. At one point, Roxanne is even accused of kidnapping Mwara.

I absolutely love Roxanne. She is a very real character who has a lot of emotion and compassion for people. She is brave and tries to help them. She has a heart of gold really. Her instructor Diggy on the other hand I didn’t take to. I will give him that some of the things he taught her came in useful but he was cruel and cold. I was very fond of Zantry though and I like the way the author wrote that everyone’s opinions of Zantry were negative but he ended up being alright. I also love that Roxanne is a woman with her own mind who pays their opinions no heed and makes up her own mind about him.

There was a conversation in this book between Roxanne and her friend Vicky about whether Frizz, Roxanne’s familiar is male or female and if I’m reading the conversation correctly, I think the idea was that how your body is shaped in terms of your genitals and chest area doesn’t have any bearing on your gender. I loved that. I thought that was cool. Frizz is male but the idea was that it wasn’t based on how his body parts were shaped so that was great.

The book has great backstory combined with much action. The settings all really work and each character adds something to the plot. The tension is great. This book has a mystery element to it which is really cool. The ending is also great. I loved that the author didn’t go for an obvious ending.

Logan appears a bit in this outing but not too much. His and Roxanne’s relationship doesn’t really go any further in this book. In fact it takes a step backwards. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens with them in the final book of this trilogy. We also get to know Roxanne’s friend from childhood Vicky in it. She is dying for Roxanne to get a man. In other news, she is worried Roxanne is not enjoying herself enough. They have a close bond and they look out for each other. Her familiar Frizz is a dote too.

This book is a long read but it’s a brilliant read. I’m looking forward to the final book in the series to see how everything works out for Roxanne and the gang.

 

To purchase Heir of Doom (The Roxanne Fosch Files #2) By Jina S. Bazzar go to:

 

To read my review of the Prequel go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2018/05/27/the-curse-by-jina-s-bazzar-review/

To read my review of book 1 Heir of Ashes go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/heir-of-ashes-by-jina-s-bazzar-review/

And for more information about Jina S. Bazzar and her work go to:

https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com/

 

Brideshead Revisited By Evelyn Waugh Review!

 

brideshead

 

Brideshead Revisited (1945) by Evelyn Waugh is a fantastic read.

The plot is told from the POV of officer Charles Ryder. Charles is stationed in Brideshead with his battalion and he begins to think back and recount his experiences from long ago.

The book is about a love triangle between Charles who finds himself romantically interested in siblings Sebastian and Julia Marchmain. He meets Sebastian first at Oxford where he is a history student and Julia when he goes to visit the family in their mansion in Wiltshire. Charles who is middle-class and an Atheist finds that these two parts of his identity often cause a divide between him and the family who are upper-class and Catholic. A lot of this book centres around class and religion. Both the barriers and the coming together despite these barriers are presented but ultimately these barriers are too much to overcome.

My favourite character is Sebastian. I adore him. He is a flawed character. He has a certain amount of selfish, spoilt rich brat to him but unlike like a lot of selfish, spoilt rich brats he does have a lovely heart and I have got to say the strength he showed in the face of his boyfriend deciding to cheat on him with his sister is strength not a lot of people would show. He never kicked off which he would have been within his rights to do and he forgave them both.

Sebastian is an alcoholic. His drinking I feel is brought on quite a lot by his family. Because he comes from a deeply Catholic and conservative family, I think he has always felt pressure and guilt about being gay because of the family he comes from. The way Charles treats him adds to his alcoholism. He eventually finds peace and tranquility at a Catholic monastery in Tunisia.

In terms of the love triangle I always felt that Sebastian was in love with Charles, that Julia really liked Charles and that Charles liked the two of them slightly but was more in love with the idea of their wealth than either of them. He seems obsessed with the house, the money, the lifestyle. This is kind of understandable but I always felt he was using these two people to be a part of this lifestyle he desired.

I like Charles and Julia too but I don’t like the way they treated Sebastian. I’m very fond of Aloysius the teddy bear too. The bear doesn’t do anything much but are adorable. I like Anthony Blanche too. I quite like Sebastian and Anthony because they are kind of fun and kind of have spunk to them. I think a lot of the characters are alright and all but they are so proper and came across to me as thinking they are real superior and mature and that kind of annoyed me. You know, you can be fun and mature at the same time. Though I liked a lot of the characters in this book, the fun element was seriously lacking in a lot of them.

The writing is splendid. Waugh had a gorgeous way with words. I think his writing is great. It has a part modern vibe to it and a part older vibe and it works very well. The storytelling and the pictures painted are very well done and he keeps Charles’ character very consistent throughout.

A wonderful book.

To purchase Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh go to:

 

And for more information about Evelyn Waugh and his work go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11315.Evelyn_Waugh

Friday Fictioneers: The Joy of Imagination

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

The Joy of Imagination

 

Watching the trains week after week became a huge moment in his childhood. The sweep of trains along the tracks, the sound of gears changing. At Christmas he would ask Santa for the latest train set in fashion, play with it for days on end, creating new routes for the trains to travel.

When he became an adult, he found his living making trains and tracks for them to travel bringing this joy to children worldwide. Allowing children to experience faraway lands like him that their parents and guardians couldn’t afford to take them to.

 

My book Black Coat based on a previous Friday Fictioneers prompt is available at:

 

For Friday Fictioneers Writing Prompt. Check out the website at:

https://rochellewisoff.com/

 

Why Love Matters By Jay Northcote Review!


Why Love Matters (2016) by Jay Northcote is a gorgeous and romantic short read.

The story follows Alastair who has intimacy issues where he doesn’t like being hugged or touched. This does not extend to his sex life however as he’s happy enough to do the business but not cuddle after. However, when his father decides to send him on a business trip to meet very touchy-feely Italians, he is forced to confront his fears. Thankfully he has his assistant Martin on hand to help with matters (and you kind of see where this is going, don’t you?). Martin suggests they go to a hippy commune in Wales to help with Alastair’s fears where his mother runs cuddle puddle workshops. Yes, you read that right-cuddle puddle workshops. I even felt Alastair’s fears in this venture and I’m a hippy!

This book is light, very fun journey. The relationship is super sweet between Alastair and Martin and I was dying for them to get together. It also gets a little sexy in parts (obviously cuddle puddle workshops work, who am I to judge? :-))

The story is full of romance and humour. It is very fluffy and enjoyable. I loved it. The characters of Alastair and Martin and their relationship is adorable. The secondary characters are also painted very well. The whole thing is just so cute and even in the short amount of pages, I connected so much with them all and my heart was warmed so much by Alastair’s and Martin’s romance.

I love the fact that the author originally wrote the book as a Merlin fanfiction. I don’t know a lot about Merlin but I used to write fanfiction so I think that is really cool. We live in a world where fanfiction is often put down as ‘not real writing’ done by people who ‘aren’t real writers’ and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many great writers, including Northcote, have written fanfiction and I think by him admitting that his story was originally a fanfic it inspires a lot of fanfic writers who read this book that they can one day write a book too if they haven’t already done so.

This book was published in aid of two LGBTQ+ organisations: The Human Rights Campaign in the USA and Stonewall in the UK. When I actually got this book on Amazon it was free by that stage but I wanted to mention that. Both are fantastic organisations that do so much incredible work and kudos to the author for using his work for such great organisations and for trying to help through his work.

Gorgeously done!

To get your free copy of Why Love Matters by Jay Northcote go to:

And for more about Jay Northcote and his work go to:
https://jaynorthcote.com/

For more information about The Human Rights Campaign (USA) go to:

https://www.hrc.org/

And for more information about Stonewall (UK) go to:
https://www.stonewall.org.uk/

Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony By Kent Wayne Review!

Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony (2017) by Kent Wayne is the third book in the Echo series.

Crusader Kischan Atriya is back and is on an action-packed and soul-searching journey. His mentor Chrysalis Verus is also back and while they spend most of this book apart, they do come together briefly as the book nears its conclusion. Actually that scene where they do pulls deeply at the heartstrings and is beautifully written. The book is great in terms of imagery and you really do get a sense of all the places in Echo that both Atriya and Verus find themselves in. Very vivid. The whole world of Echo is very creative but still often reflects our world in the present in so many ways. There is much action but this book does centre more on the emotional side of things than books 1 and 2. Atriya in particular is doing a lot of thinking about his life and his feelings on how he sees things. If you are a bit of an overthinker like me, you will find yourself relating a bit to his journey in this book and probably for that reason I took to this book more than the first even though I enjoyed them too. There is so much psychological thinking in this book and the inner thoughts of Atriya about the phoniness often present in Echo and whether or not he can conform to the society of Echo and what is found acceptable or not.

I think the entire series has been great so far but I think readers who like action will prefer books 1 & 2 while readers who are into questioning things to come to a conclusion will probably prefer book 3. In saying that, there is a bit of both in the three books and I actually love these two things being combined in the books because for some unknown reason many authors don’t often combine these two things in books. Each of these books are standalone books but even better as a collection.

I was delighted to see Verus back. I think she is fantastic. Very strong, very loyal, very gutsy and her humour is quite good too when she gets going. Both Atriya and Verus can at times be quite flawed characters. They can get a bit violent at times but I think it’s all done with the feeling of needing to survive. Self-defence really so I don’t hold it against them. If your back is against the wall, what are you going to do? And they have been trained to survive in this way. I also like that they both fight other people without gender discrimination. Atriya fights both men and women and how many times have we seen in books men saying they wouldn’t fight a woman and pass it off as chivalry when really it’s just condescending? In saying that, I wouldn’t like to get into a physical fight with either of them!

Atriya’s speech near the end without giving too much away is fantastic. I loved that. What a dude! I also loved the idea of sunglasses being primitive which presents to readers that in years to come items we use will have went out of fashion. I also love Atriya’s and Verus’ relationship. It is so lovely and often heartbreaking to read and you definitely find yourself rooting for them.

I’m looking forward to book 4 in the series Echo Volume 4: The Last Edge of Darkness. The book is the final book in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all pans out.

To purchase Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony by Kent Wayne go to:

To read my review on Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter and get details on where to purchase it go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/echo-volume-1-approaching-shatter-by-kent-wayne-review/

To read my review on Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes and get details on where to purchase it go to:

https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/echo-volume-2-the-taste-of-ashes-by-kent-wayne-review/

And for more information on Kent Wayne and his work go to:

https://dirtyscifibuddha.com/

The Color Purple By Alice Walker Review!

purple

 

The Color Purple (1982) by Alice Walker is an absolutely fantastic read.

In this book, we follow the story of protagonist Celie who lives in the south of America. Already in her life Celie has faced a lot. Being black, she has faced prejudice and segregation, lack of money is also a constant stumbling block to overcome, she has been raped many times by the man she thinks is her father, her two birth children have been took away from her and she has lost contact with her sister Nettie. As the novel progresses she gets back in contact with her sister and finds both love and heartbreak in her relationship with her girlfriend Shug. The book is told through a mixture of pieces which Celie writes to God, letters from Nettie to Celie from Africa where she is working and vice versa. The book spans decades of her life beginning when she is 14.

Walker is an incredible writer. She has pieced together a book here which is honest, sweeps nothing under the carpet and is extremely well-written too. So, so many important topics are dealt with in this book: child abuse, physical and mental abuse in romantic relationships, racism (both from white people towards people of color and from people of color towards each other), prejudice towards women, prejudice against people from the working-class, the torturous pain of heartbreak and being kept away from your family. The book is written brilliantly right down the detail in the way the characters write and the distinctness of their personality. It is such a powerful read which isn’t always an easy read. But it has a bit of everything. There is a lot of hard moments but also the mundane of life, the search to make sense of the world and occasionally some humour too. The relationships in this book feel very real and pull at your heartstrings. Celie’s relationships with Shug and Nettie in particular are examples of this. You really feel the characters’ emotions and their situations and want it to work out for them.

This book has so many strong women in it. So many women wanting a better life than the one they are doled out. So many strong black women who are fighting in their own ways for the life they deserve despite society been the old pain in the neck society often is towards women of color. Add into that so many strong women of color who are not rich. There is a powerfully honest portrayal in this book of intersectionality and how each aspect combining makes things that much harder. These women are facing three forms of oppression at once and taking it on with excellent strength and spunk. So many of the women in this book are so unbelievably strong and take no crap and I love it.

This is an exceptional read.

 

To get your free copy of The Color Purple by Alice Walker go to:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/scschoolfiles/112/the-color-purple-alice-walker.pdf

And for more about Alice Walker and her work go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7380.Alice_Walker

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers: Evening Break

 

 

 

Evening Break

Eric always loved that statue or art display or whatever it was. After a hard day at work, he liked to get a hot dog. Bit of mild mustard, onion and ketchup. He’d wait by the railing before going over to the statue and sitting on the object’s seating area. He’d take out from his back pocket whatever book he was reading at the time and eat while he read and drink water because safety first like.

He’d watch the people, the cars and the occasional dog passing through the night. Then go home to the isolation of his flat.

 

My book Black Coat based on a previous Friday Fictioneers prompt is available at:

For Friday Fictioneers Writing Prompt. Check out the website at:

https://rochellewisoff.com/

Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Review!

Heart of Darkness (1899) by Joseph Conrad is a wonderful read.

The plot follows protagonist Charlie Marlow whose POV the novel is told from through an unknown narrator. The story follows Marlow who is on an anchored ship in search of saving Kurtz who is employed by the government and who is controlling the natives in Africa. Though the natives seem to love Kurtz, Marlow is suspicious of his motives. Marlow is on the Nellie in the River Thames and we get to know a bit about his life when he was the captain of an ivory trading company and we realise he has always been interested in discovering new land and places.

As the story progresses, he goes onboard a French steamer and goes to Africa. The journey is a very long one and the writing is very poetic but the constant racism of Marlow is hard to read. The descriptions of the natives are racist, disrespectful and completely inaccurate. They are depicted pretty much as stupid savages and I found that very uncomfortable to read so it goes without saying that I didn’t like Marlow. He is one of these prejudiced jerks with a superiority complex and therefore not a very nice person at all. The only redeeming moment he had was when he felt for the helmsman that died on the mission but even in that there was a condescending vibe. He also always thought the man was a fool so there wasn’t a lot of redeeming quality in it but it was a moment of emotion that was somewhat good to see in a person who didn’t seem to have much emotion if I’m being honest. I also didn’t like Marlow for his work in the ivory trading business.

What I think is important to remember is that this book is told from the POV of a character so in my reading of it, I took it that Conrad was portraying how a lot of people thought in that era (and sadly still too many today) and showing up the racism that was occurring in society. I don’t know enough about Conrad as a person to know what his views were in terms of race issues but I would like to think he wasn’t putting his own opinions into Marlow. Just based on this book being written from the POV of a character I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that and say that maybe he was trying to write an honest portrayal of racism in society to bring it to the forefront and not sweep under the carpet the prejudiced opinions in society.

It’s a short enough read. Written very well. I would be lying if I said that some of it didn’t go a bit over my head. The writing isn’t the most accessible. It has a sort of high brow vibe to it which is fine but some of it I didn’t get what was going on. There is countless metaphors and some of them aren’t the most accessible metaphors. But I will say I found the flow of it very easy to read. The lyrical, poetic flow did flow with ease and I personally did find myself reading more pages than I meant to in each sitting.

It’s an adventure story which highlights and undermines racism whether that was the intention or not. I despise the depictions and stereotyping of the native people and Africa but I think it says a lot more about Marlow and his heart of darkness than anyone else whether that was the intent meant or not.

 

A great short read.

 

To get your free copy of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad go to:

https://www.planetebook.com/free-ebooks/heart-of-darkness.pdf

And for more about Joseph Conrad and his work go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3345.Joseph_Conrad

The Call of the Wild By Jack London Review!

The Call of the Wild (1903) by Jack London is a wonderfully crafted and thought-provoking short read.

The story is told from the POV of the protagonist Buck who is a St. Bernard and a German Shepard cross. He lives in Santa Clara Valley on a ranch. Near the beginning of the story he is kidnapped from the wealthy family he resides with and ends up as a sledge dog alongside a number of other dogs in Alaska. A lot of the story takes place in Yukon, Canada in the era of the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s. As time progress the dogs find themselves passed from human owner/s to human owner/s and most of these owners out there are ignorant and unfeeling which results in the deaths of many dogs. Buck must conquer the harshness and neglect to survive. But he is a brave dog with great survival instincts and that shows through very clearly in the book. But he does find that he likes one human John Thornton, a gold hunter, whose life he saves. He grows to like John very much and this brings an inner conflict into Buck as on one hand he wishes to be John’s pet dog but on the other hand he has a calling to return to the wild and to his freedom and independence.

This book presents many important issues. Issues like how humans use animals for a variety of reasons and show a cruelty and a superiority over animals because they wish to be powerful and above other creatures. There is many scenes of animal cruelty in this book which are very distressing. Although I do understand why the author would include these scenes. He wanted to show to people exactly what was been done, give an honest portrayal and not sweep under the carpet what was been done. It’s horrible to read but it’s powerful because it stirs up your own passions against this sort of thing and places a magnifying glass on the cruelty these dogs face by these sick and strange humans. But the dogs are not going to let them away with it and thus they begin to fight back against this regime. There is also underlying social issues in this book. This is a subtle secondary important issue dealt with in this book. The idea of someone being trapped into what many deem social norms and being harassed and destroyed when they don’t conform to these so-called social norms. The idea that the dogs are revolting against this and searching for a faraway freedom with every piece of their being also ties into this whole metaphor.

The descriptive writing of the dogs’, especially Buck’s, inner emotions is excellently written and shows their intelligence and feelings beautifully. The descriptions of the landscape and nature is very well done too and gives you a vivid image as you read. The book is quite a hard read for anyone with a heart, especially people who love animals. It leaves you with the overwhelming and passionate feeling to cherish all the wonderful dogs of this world, to treat them with the love, kindness, dignity and respect they deserve and to value their contributions to this world and them in general.

A very well-crafted book.

To get your free copy of The Call of the Wild by Jack London go to:

https://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/London/Call%20of%20Wild.pdf

And for more about Jack London and his work go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1240.Jack_London

Lady Susan By Jane Austen Review!

lady susan ja

 

Lady Susan (1871) by Jane Austen is a short read where the story is told through letters.

 

I found the structure great firstly. It’s done a good bit but it’s not a structure you see overly regularly so it was refreshing to read a book in this style. I don’t think I’ve ever read a full book in this structure before. The writer in me said this is a challenge Austen took on because it’s difficult to get all the information you need to put across in just letter form. But it works well. I didn’t feel like the reader was left out of the picture about anything going on and you get a great sense of all the personalities of the characters and the politics and dynamics at play between them all.

Lady Susan is an interesting character. She is looking to marry for a second time but hasn’t much care for her daughter Frederica’s happiness as she is trying to send her into an unhappy and unsuited marriage. I don’t like Lady Susan but I think for the book, she carries much of it and without the drama she creates there wouldn’t be much of a story. That isn’t to say that the story isn’t good. It’s great because Austen created this character who everything revolves around and who has everyone in a tizzy. Even though you may not like Lady Susan, you probably will still like the book. Just maybe don’t expect to go on a journey of rooting for her like with many of Austen’s heroines.

Lady Susan is ruthless, selfish and all for herself. On the redeeming side however she is funny, smart and she goes against the grain. But she is a terrible mother and I feel so sorry for Frederica who seems a nice girl and just needs encouragement and support which she won’t find from her mother.

I always find the way they go on with each other in these books very funny. The false politeness, the OTT appreciations of each other and the equally OTT apologies which never seem sincere. Apart from when someone’s life is been ruined, I actually find these things very funny and they give me a good laugh. And that’s a good thing when you’re reading. It’s an accurate portrait I’d imagine even though I didn’t live back then but I can’t help it. It’s kind of like a guilty pleasure to laugh at the phoniness and the ludicrous and over dramatic feel of it all. And Austen doesn’t disappoint here on that score. Her subtle satire is fantastic as always.

I love Jane Austen’s writing in general. I love the way she crafts novels about emotional entanglements between people so well and shows all these perspectives that make for great drama and true reflections of how the different opinions and sides influence any conversations or relationships in her novels. It’s often thought as trivial writing about matters like this but it is one of the most difficult. To do this, you have to really go inside different types of peoples’ minds to the best of your ability and write it accurately and authentically. She is a genius at this and I admire that very much in her writing.

As always, there is great humour in this book. Austen sprinkles dry wit throughout especially through Lady Susan. The letters are perfectly positioned and tell the story very well. Each letter by a different person feels like it was told from a different perspective and it’s just gorgeously written. This may not be one of Austen’s most famous books but it’s a hidden gem and well worth a read.

Excellent write.

 

To get your free copy of Lady Susan by Jane Austen go to:

http://www.freeclassicebooks.com/Jane%20Austen/Lady%20Susan.pdf

And for more about Jane Austen and her work go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1265.Jane_Austen