Teaser Tuesdays: Crossfire by Jessie Kwak

I received Crossfire by Jessie Kwak and eagerly picked it up to read as I had enjoyed the first novel in her Bulari Saga. Yesterday found me sitting on the sofa reading the story until it was done – I could not help it, I had to now what would happen!

“Pitch darkness is strange. It’s claustrophobic, shrinking down the entire world to the amount that fits into your awareness, a palm-sized space where your breath leaves your body, your organs thrum in your chest cavity, you feel the tiny, disconnected sensations where parts of your body press against unknown objects. But it’s also expansive, your potential environment no longer confined by the physical walls that once hemmed you in. Pitch darkness is what your imagination makes it.” (p298)

(2019, Independent Author)

In Crossfire, I have learned more about Kwak’s characters – and I am getting to love them. I also enjoy the writing – it is precise and the imagery is on point.

Do you enjoy reading independent authors? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)


Sand and Stars

One of the genres I enjoy reading is science fiction. When I look back on my teen years, I remember reading the Dune saga by Frank Herbert with enthusiasm. I loved the otherworldly places he described, as well as many of the characters he created. The Star Wars films were also a favourite and hearing the theme song would make me think of the futuristic planes and personalities.

Moving location to the other side of the world meant I had to leave my books and films behind. Seeing the novel House Atreides at a library book sale reminded me of my enjoyment of Herbert’s writing. It may be time to re-read the saga.

Have you read the Dune saga?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

Teaser Tuesdays: Double Edged by Jessie Kwak

It had been a while since I had read a good science fiction read and was thrilled when I picked up Double Edged by Jessie Kwak to discover that the good writing kept me interested and on the edge of my seat.

“Level C hits Manu like a physical thing: the scents, the din, the crush of people. Manu pauses in the entry, taking it all in. The air is heavy with fry grease and engine oil and voices echo off the high ceiling, jumbled so it’s hard to pick out anything individual. Warring news and music programs blare from the lunch stands, callers hawk wares as they wander the crowds, and the buskers and street performers only spike the chaos” (p36)

(2019, Independent Author)

The novel is gritty and realistic. And I loved it. A reader can almost forget that it is set in a futuristic environment.

Do you enjoy Science Fiction? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Book Review: Double Edged by Jessie Kwak

Jessie Kwak contacted me through the blog and offered me her latest book, Double Edged, in exchange for an honest review. After reading the blurb, I jumped at the chance as I enjoy reading Science Fiction. The bonus is that she is an independent author.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction


Thala Coeur—Blackheart—is dead.

Willem Jaantzen has been waiting to hear those words for almost twenty years. But he was also hoping they’d hold more satisfaction. Because it turns out his arch enemy has died as she lived—sowing chaos and destruction—and when a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, he realizes she’s sent him one last puzzle from beyond the grave. 

As Jaantzen and his crew are plunged back into a game he thought they’d left far behind, one thing becomes painfully clear: Solving Coeur’s puzzle could be key to preventing the city from crumbling back into another civil war—or it could be the thing that destroys them all. 

Because this secret isn’t just worth killing for. It’s worth coming back from the dead for.

The Bulari Saga series is part of Jessie Kwak’s Durga System universe, a fast-paced series of gangster sci-fi stories set in a far-future world where humans may have left their home planet to populate the stars, but they haven’t managed to leave behind their vices. And that’s very good for business.

My thoughts:

I love the cover art of this novel, don’t you? And while I was reading the story, I realised that the art suited the tale perfectly. The cover art and the words inside give a sense of another world – another world which is just as gritty as ours can be and which also contains people that are greedy and power seekers.

Double Edged is a story that is fast-paced – but not so fast-paced that we are not given the time to get to know the characters. We are shown an insight into the Bulari world with dialogue that is not superfluous, and with writing that cuts to the chase. Kwak has delivered the imagery of a world that reminds me so much of the science-fiction literature and film that I have enjoyed in the past. While reading her words, I could see in my mind’s eye people using technology that hasn’t been invented yet set in worlds that have yet to be discovered.

I enjoyed meeting Kwak’s characters. They have a humanity to them that breathes from the pages. They are imperfect, yet loyal. They are confident, yet uncertain. I will read the second novel in the saga when it becomes available. And in the meantime? I will consider dipping into the novellas.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 47th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Remade by Danielle Novotny

I entered a giveaway for Remade by Danielle Novotny on Twitter as the synopsis of the novel intrigued me. I was happy to learn that I had won and looked forward to reading this beautiful looking novel when I received it.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Science Fiction


For her whole life, Aliya Rathburn thought life only existed on Earth. But after nearly dying in a car crash, Aliya wakes up on Callais – a planet that she never knew existed. In order to save her life, Doctor Gydyon Givray had to reconstruct Aliya with materials that were strange and advanced to her, and Aliya finds out that she now has strength and speed beyond her wildest imagination. Determined to hide her new abilities, Aliya tries to fly under the radar when she’s sent to the Protective Forces, the galaxy’s military. As Aliya struggles to accept herself after these incredible yet unwanted changes, a sinister force emerges to threaten the galaxy’s peace. When lives are on the line, will Aliya face her inner demons or will the rising darkness win?

My thoughts:

The synopsis to this novel promised an interesting story but, unfortunately, I was disappointed. The story I read was predictable with no surprises and, as I read the novel, I kept hoping for something new and original. The story read, instead, like an episode of Star Trek which, although I enjoyed as a teen, as an adult I find unoriginal and predictable.

The story of Remade was okay and so was the writing. Many times I wished Novotny would show me the story was instead of telling me what the character was feeling. I wanted to decipher for myself what Aliya’s emotions were, instead of being told; I wanted to get the sense of what she was thinking and not read an entire paragraph on her thought processes. Novotny is a debut author and I am sure that, with time, her writing style may evolve. But for now, the words within the pages did not grab my attention and keep it for long periods of time.

I give this novel ⭐️ ⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 24th in my book pledge for 2019)


Photo Prompt © C.E. Ayr

Area E48 had been cordoned off, preventing curious bystanders from discovering the truth. The middle-aged woman had been taken quickly and effortlessy. All that remained of her presence was an unmatched shoe and her hysterical daughter.

“Aliens took her! Their long arms pulled her into their ship!”

“Yes, ma’am. I am sure that is what you saw.”

Those at the top of the city’s bureacracy knew there was truth in the woman’s hysterical ramblings. The alien presence on earth was a long kept secret which they intended to keep. The daughter would be dealt with quickly.

What do you think will happen to the daughter?

friday-fictioneers-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)


Test Subjects

PHOTO PROMPT - © Claire Fuller
Photo Prompt – © Claire Fuller

The nurse walked down the corrider, passing the sealed doors that housed the test subjects, the detritus of human life who offered nothing to society. They had been given the opportunity to contribute something meaningful to mankind’s future as the experiments being conducted on them would result in the knowledge needed to protect humanity against the invaders. Humans needed to adapt and evolve – the outcasts would help with the knowing of how.  The nurse entered a cell, needle ready. The girl inside turned, magnificent in her added height and strength. She no longer needed the treatment.

What do you think happens next?

friday-fictioneers-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)



PHOTO PROMPT - © Douglas M. MacIlroy
PHOTO PROMPT -© Douglas M. MacIlroy

I watched the snow storm approaching. I was tired of this godforsaken place and longed for what I had seen in old videos: a time when the sun shone, when green filled the environment, when people walked outside in thin layers of clothing. I longed to breathe in air filled with sunshine and promise. Yet I knew my desire would not be fulfilled in my lifetime. Our forefathers had created this cold, desolate world with their avarice and wanton misuse of our planet. It was up to us to repair the damage.

friday-fictioneers-badgeWhat do you think caused this desolate environment?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)


Going Underground

free write friday kellie elmoreThis week’s Free Write Friday prompt:

Let’s leap into the future with a time & place scenario. 

The year: 2063

The place: An underground bunker

She pulled me with the last bit of strength she had into the bunker. We stumbled and fell onto the floor. I was breathing heavily, my chest hurting as I greedily inhaled the oxygen. The door slid closed behind us, trapping an arm that was trying to prevent its closure. The sound of the wailing sirens were cut off, as were the cries of those who had not made it. I looked at Marla, distress in my eyes as I thought of those who were left outside.

“They had to close the doors. If they didn’t, none of us would have a chance of survival.”

As my breathing became easier, I became aware of the sounds that now surrounded me. Ragged breathing. Soft, mewling cries. People calling out names to see if their loved ones had made it. The lighting was dim but I could see that many were unsure of what the next steps were. There were people sitting on the floor with expressions of shock on their faces. Others were holding tight onto the children they had managed to bring into safety. We had theoretically practised this drill so many times: at school, at the workplace, on the day set aside each year for such an eventuality. We had seen images flicker on TV while occupied with the routine of our day. But nothing had prepared us for this. None of the laughter and gaiety was present that our drills brought on. This was no holiday. Instead the reality was slowly sinking in that we had been attacked, and that our lives would never be the same.

We had not believed that someone would fire the missiles that would destroy our city, our lives, and the habitation that we depended on for survival. We had trusted that those ruling our nation would ensure that war would be avoided. We had trusted that those in power would think of more than their own egos and their own desire to be proven right.

But now we had to believe. Someone had pressed that button. And we were here in this dim-lit bunker with those who had managed to reach the place that had been assigned to them. Marla and I got up slowly. We began to walk among these people we would be living with until the all clear to go outside again was given. Many ignored us; some looked at us with fear in their eyes. I was looking in particular for the one who was supposed to tell us what to do; the one who would guide us through the weeks of underground life we had to survive. I was looking for the answers to the questions that were beginning to come to my mind.

I was drawn to the big screen on the wall showing the flickering images of what was happening outside. Men and women were standing in front of it, watching with glazed eyes, the destruction happening in front of their eyes. Our enemies had not sent missiles to burn the buildings. Instead the weapons they had sent were insidious. I saw people gasping for air, sores forming all over their bodies. I saw the lawns and the flowers wilting and turning brown. I saw people screaming and clawing at their own bodies. Tears ran silently down my cheeks. Outside life was being squeezed out of the living and I mourned its loss.

I turned away from the screen, bringing Marla with me. We had to move on and get to the business of living. We had to move away from the habit that had been encouraged in our society: we had to move away from the screen that deadened our desire to move, to act, to live. We had to find out who was running this bunker. Where were we supposed to stay? Where was the water and food? Where were the animals that were supposed to be here already? Where was the soil and the seeds for planting? What jobs would we be assigned to?  Who was in charge?

We moved towards the entrance of another room and walked through the doorway. In here we saw some others who were also looking for some guidance. They had also left the crying and shell-shocked people in the greater room. Suddenly we heard the door close behind us, enclosing us in the small room. A hologram appeared before us, startling us with the following words:

“You have been chosen to lead those in this bunker. By entering this room, you have shown the desire to search for solutions. You have set yourself apart from the herd. It is up to you to ensure that this group survives life underground until it is safe to go outside again. By our calculations you will be here for a lifetime. You are the ones who need to ensure that humanity and all life survive.”

What do you think will happen after the hologram’s statement?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

A New Beginning

This week’s prompt for Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday

Katya stepped out onto the balcony. The sun had risen and had not yet dispersed the mists coming from the lake. The world was still silent save for the sounds of the forest. Taking a deep oxygen-filled breath, she knew she had made the right decision to come and populate this world.

“We are like the colonialists of the Old World who ventured out to the Africa of Earth: stepping out into the unknown; willing to explore and face new dangers; being the first to settle in a new land and tame it.”

Admiring the beauty of the trees, the colour and agility of the tiger-like creature in the distance, Katya did not wonder whether colonialism may have been the start of a journey that had led to Earth’s current status: an Earth that had been ripped apart by man’s desire for more minerals; an environment that had suffered devastation in humanity’s desire, not only to tame, but also to exploit what Nature gave freely; a world in which children had never experienced the fresh, running water of a stream, or the rustling of trees in a flower-laden meadow.

A new world and a new beginning awaited. Would the colonists ravage the land as their ancestors had done to Earth? Or would they learn from history and choose a different path?

Which path do you think the settlers on this life-giving land will take?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

(Join Kellie Elmore every Friday to free write a response to a quote, poem, image or thought that she has posted. Free write means you pay no attention to editing, your imagination runs free, and you stop only when you are trying too hard to complete a thought.)