Book Review: Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak

I was excited to read the third novel in the Bulari Saga by Jessie Kwak. As I admired the cover of Pressure Point, I itched to crack open the pages and begin reading.

Genre: Science Fiction

Blurb:

Peace demands its price in blood.

Jaantzen may have brought stability to the city of Bulari, but not everyone’s grateful. Allegiances are shifting sand, and he’s made a miscalculation that earned him a deadly new enemy — one who plays a viciously different game than the one Jaantzen is used to winning.

Jaantzen and his crew fight to gain the upper hand, but secrets buried in shallow graves are coming back to haunt them. And as Starla and Toshiyo edge closer to understanding the growing mystery that’s been dropped in their laps, their search is awakening darker things than any of them can imagine.

Peace comes at a price, and this Pax Bulari could cost Jaantzen everyone he loves.

My thoughts:

The pressure in Kwak’s story is definitely building in the third installment in Bulari Saga. The consequences of the action taken in the second novel are realised and the reader sees how the characters are figuring out how to deal with these consequences. What I enjoy is that the people in the story stay true to their character – each behaves as I would expect them too. I still have my favourites and I continue cheering them on as I read.

A little romance is developing in the story and it adds another dimension to the storyline. The romance shows that the characters are human and, as such, have feelings for one another. I am certainly curious to see where the romantic relationship leads; and whether it will change the decisions that will be made.

As with the previous two episodes in the story, Kwak’s pace is pitched perfectly. I could not help but turn the pages and found it difficult to put the novel down. And the end of the novel left me wanting more – I definitely cannot wait to read the next installment in the series!

In order to enjoy Pressure Point, it is important to have read the previous two novels in the series. But it is never to late to start reading from book 1! If enjoy reading science fiction and gangster-type stories, Kwak’s saga is one you need to pick up. You would enjoy the fast-paced tale with smatterings of humour and a touch of romance.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 93rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Crier’s War by Nina Varela

At the Frenzy Presents event at the end of August, I was lucky enough to receive one of the books that interested me: Crier’s War by Nina Varela.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBT

Blurb:

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.

Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.

My thoughts:

Goodreads describes Crier’s War by Nina Varela as a Fantasy novel. While reading it, however, it had more of a science-fiction feel to me as it describes a world that is overtaken by human-made creations. The novel describes a possibility in a far distant era on Earth, and not on a mythical land.

The story describes a contrast between the Human and the Automae: two creatures that are at odds with one another and who both want their freedom – the Humans from enslavement of the creatures they created; and the Automae from their dependence on the humans. The politics of the Automae reflects the ideology followed by many humans in today’s world; a worldview that centres on keeping one’s culture and race separate from others.

Crier’s War is not just a story set in a possible future. It is a story that deals with separatism, as well as with being different. It is a story that reflects a realisation – and then acknowledgement – of difference within one’s self. It is a story that hints at the possibility of living in harmony (a possibility that I guess will be explored more in the second novel of the series). And it is a story that explores humanity and what it is to be human.

The two main characters in the story – Ayla and Crier – experience a growth throughout the novel. I enjoyed seeing their own self-realisation unfold as I turned the pages. The more I read about them, the more I grew to understand them and to like them as characters. It is a beautiful thing to see a young person come into their own and Varela describes their unfurling subtly and gently.

I enjoyed the world created by Varela as well as the characters that people her world. The novel ended on a cliffhanger and at that perfect moment. Now I need to wait for the release of the next in the series – and I am hoping that it is not a long wait. I need to know what happens next!

If you enjoy fantasy and science fiction stories, you will enjoy this one. In addition, it is a queer story with beautiful character development of young people. This is a series that I have every intention of completing.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 88th in my book pledge for 2019)

Grateful for Unexpected Mail

On Tuesday when I arrived home, I saw that a parcel had arrived for me: the brown box sat on the table beckoning me to open it. I did not recognise the sender and lifted the flap with curiosity. A pleasant surprise was revealed and I gave an inner squeal of delight when I saw what was inside.

Inside the box was the latest book in the Bulari Saga – a science fiction series written by independent author Jessie Kwak. I love her writing which is fast-paced and intense. And the characters she has created are well-rounded. I have placed the book on top of my TBR pile and look forward to enjoying it once I have completed my current read.

This week I am grateful to have received a copy of Pressure Point by Jessie Kwak to read and review.

What are you grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection. You are welcome to join in and share your post in the comments.)

Book Review: Crossfire by Jessie Kwak

When Crossfire by Jessie Kwak arrived in the mail, I was so excited to read it that I placed it on the top of my TBR pile next to my bed.

Genre: Science Fiction

Blurb:

Trouble is dead. Long live trouble.

Killing the leader of a violent cult was supposed to make the city a safer place, but instead it created a power imbalance that’s left a deadly war raging in the streets of Bulari. 

When Willem Jaantzen is approached for help by local casino magnate Phaera D, he has the sinking feeling the only way to end this war is to betray the people he loves the most. And he’s starting to suspect that Phaera wants more from him than just his help. 

Whatever decision he makes feels like the wrong one. And as his goddaughter chips away at the mystery surrounding their latest discovery, bringing peace back to the Bulari underground is quickly becoming the least of his worries. 

My thoughts:

I could not wait to open Crossfire and continue reading more of the characters in the Bulari Saga. I was not disappointed and quickly became engrossed in the story.

In the second volume of the saga, readers get to know a little more about the characters that Kwak has introduced us to. My two favourite characters are definitely Manu and Starla. In Crossfire, I learn a little more about them and – to be honest – I want to know more! Both of them are shown as people who have experienced some difficult times. They are loyal and strong – and, like all people, have things on their mind and problems in their personal lives. Readers also get to know a little more about Toshiyo – the nerd in the story. I look forward with hope to learning more about her in the next installment of the saga.

Kwak has shared with us a story that is fast-paced and filled with action. I chose to read this novel during a time in which I could put aside all other obligations – a wise choice as I did not want to put the book down! The story picks up from where it left off in the first volume, Double Edged. Kwak adroitly moves the reader through the story with concise writing that creates images in the reader’s mind.

Crossfire is a story about the need to sacrifice personal desires for the good of the community. Jaantzen and Manu need to forsake their desire for revenge Of a sworn enemy in order to ensure that peace can be attained in their city. The reader does wonder, and hope, that their sacrifice is worth it and that Jaantzen’s plan to work with an enemy is fruitful.

As I read the last page of this novel, I wished I could read more. I will be waiting impatiently for the next volume. This fast-paced science-fiction story has me hooked!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 62nd in my book pledge for 2019)

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

Blurb:

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

Blurb:

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)

Abduction

PHOTO PROMPT © C.E. Ayr
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.)