Character Interview: Azriel – Joseph R. Lallo

A little extra to add on for your ‘Book of Deacon’ experience.   Free to read online after you’ve read all the books because it has a few spoilers.

So that will make this the 16th book in ‘The Book of Deacon’ series.

Joseph’s Page

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The Stump and the Spire – Joseph R. Lallo

The 15th book in ‘The Book of Deacon’ series.

A little stand alone short thrown in at the end, set long after the events of Miranda and Myn’s battle in Kenvard.

It’s a nice little read included at the end of ‘The Book of Deacon Anthology’.

Joseph’s Page

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Jade – Joseph R. Lallo

This being currently the last book in the main story line of ‘The Book of Deacon’ series, and i really don’t know what to make of it.

Mostly it’s written in what feels like a children’s story style, But at the same time it is part of the main story line being set many years after the last events we read about in ‘The Crescents’.

In this book we are told that the Chosen have only left 3 surviving family lines, that of Trigorah, Celeste and Myn.   But the thing is, if you remember, Myn took Trigorah’s place as a Chosen, thus we should have had at least another 3 or 4 family lines, but there’s no mentioned as to what became of them: that of Ether, that of Ivy, that of Lain and possibly that of the original knight that Miranda found.

So we are left with the question, what happened to Ivy and Lain’s lines over in The Crescents?   Totally wiped out apparently.   Ether, totally wiped out???   The original knight’s family, totally wiped out.   But we are given no explanation of how, only that Epidime may have had something to do with it.

And that Halfax is the last surviving dragon — which he must be because he’s never had offspring of his own, which one would think he and the other dragons of Myn’s line would have if, as he claims, the dragons cared so much about protecting the Chosen family lines.   So what happened to all the dragons, why’s there only one left?

This book, which i thought would have been tying up the loose ends and living happily ever after, has taken us back to the very beginning of not having all the Chosen ready and the D’Karon beginning to gain a power base, but with no explanation of how we got back here.

So i’m a bit confused, to say the least.

But, i’ll be the eternal optimist and surmise that Joseph has a ton more books for this series planned to deal with everything that’s suddenly gone missing, answer all the questions now being asked, and then tie up the story nicely, destroy the D’Karon completely, and have everyone live happily ever after — just coz that’d be nice.

We shall see.

This book can also be found in ‘The Book of Deacon Anthology’.

Joseph’s Page

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The Crescents — Joseph R. Lallo

Ooooh, just look at that cover!!!   Along with beautiful women in steampunk outfits — our favourite — the Kindle Worm Quality Control team did a quick survey of all the staff at morning tea break and everyone at Kindle Worm HQ agrees that a good dragon picture on the cover is always a good indicator of a really good book — apart from one who doesn’t like dragons so she was promptly given her final written warning for contravening article 16:a:ii of her contract: ‘Though shalt not be a curmudgeon in the work place’.

But does the story come up to the standard set by the cover?   I certainly think so.   As fantasy goes, this one’s got most of it: Cheftains, Priestesses, Wizards, Kings, Elves, Fairies, Malthropes, Dwarves, Humans, Dragons, Golems and, in a class of her own, Ether.

The Chosen are asked by the Elven King of South Crescent to visit and sort out a few problems for him and in doing so get him some popularity back amongst his people.   In return he offers the Chosen a cure for the blight that the D’Karon spells left upon the land.   And so, offered the chance to heal the land, the Chosen jump aboard a ship, along with Garr and Gustrim, and sail off to The Crescents for a wonderful adventure.

It’s a great piece of story telling, and, i think, is definitely one of the better books in this series.

‘The Story of Sorrel’ is quite important to have read before starting this as it gives a ton of background to this story.

Anyway, a great read from a great series.

The 13th book in ‘The Book of Deacon’ series.

Joseph’s Page

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Waiting For Monsieur Bellivier – Britta Röstlund

Are you ‘Waiting for Monsieur Bellivier’?

Then i’ll begin.

In a Parisian summer heat wave we are given two protagonists, and taken on two separate stories, switching back and forth between each.

Both our protagonists are offered, and take on, some well paid extra work.

Mancebo, a Tunisian grocer who tends to sit on a stool on the pavement outside his shop most of the day, is simply asked to keep an eye on the man who lives in the flat opposite his shop and report all his findings to the man’s suspicious wife.   And why not?   He’s going to be sitting there all day anyway, and extra money is always a good thing.

But while Mancebo starts to take more notice of the flat opposite he also begins to take more notice of everything else going on in the street outside his shop, and also within his own home.   Things he had absolutely no idea about.   And so his life begins to take twists and turns that he never expected.

At the same time, Helena, a freelance writer, is asked to sit in an office and forward the very occasional emails that arrive on an old computer: all from the same email address and all forwarded to Monsieur Bellivier.   As she can continue doing her writing in between the emails instead of sitting in a cafe — and i presume the coffee’s also cheaper at the office — the extra pay offered is more than worth it, so she takes the job.

But along with the job, Helena is presented with a bunch of flowers by the receptionist in the lobby, every day, when she finishes work.   She presumes they’re from Monsieur Bellivier, but there’s no note, and she has no idea, other than the name, who her employer really is.   She doesn’t want the flowers, so she takes various steps to get rid of them on her way home, and in so doing her life starts to take twists and turns that she didn’t expect.

As well as the twists and turns, Britta brings both our protagonists very much to life in the Paris she writes about.   Britta made Mancebo and Helena a joy to read about.

As i got to the end of this book it reminded me of a passage from ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’

Habit is a vain and treacherous goddess.   She lets nothing disrupt her rule.   She smothers one desire after another: the desire to travel, the desire for a better job or a new love.   She stops us from living as we would like, because habit prevents us from asking ourselves whether we continue to enjoy doing what we do.

Yes, habit is a treacherous goddess, it can blind us to the life and world around us and keep us prisoner in our own ignorance.   It uses our own fears of the new and the unknown as the key to keep us locked in its clutches.   Opportunity is the only escape, but we have to jump through the fire of our fears in order to grasp those opportunities, and the best opportunites can sometimes be the most terrifying leaps to make in life.   Opportunities set us free and make life worth the living.

A wonderful book by a wonderful writer, and i feel i enjoyed it far more on this second reading, 17 months after the first.   And i’m sure i’ll be reading it again sometime in the future — it may just become a habit…   HELP ME!!!

Click here for previous comments on this book.

There’s some background as to how this book came to be on this page.

And Britta’s next book is supposed to be released sometime in 2019.   And i am so really looking forward to reading it.

Britta’s Page

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The Reason I Jump — Naoki Higashida

What a truly incredible book.

Noaki wrote this book when he was 13 years old.   A child diagnosed with autism at 5 who has struggled all his life with this incredibly difficult condition has finally learned a way to communicate through the written word.   This is a soul that has never been able to express itself before now able to tell the world what life is truly like living with autism.   The book takes the form of 58 common questions that are asked about autism and answers to each are given by Naoki.   These questions and answers are interspersed with Naoki’s prose and the book ends with a short story, also by Naoki.

It’s not a long book and it’s not a difficult read, it never goes off on tangents with pointless facts or science, it stays very much on target and is incredibly accessible.   And in so being, this makes this book a must read book for everyone, because we will all meet people with autism along our paths.   This book gives a lot of insight into just what is happening within that other human being, that there is a truly thoughtful and caring human being struggling within, and a little understanding of their abilities and disabilities would go a very long way to making their day a little better and not add any more to their struggles.

Just read it!!!

Naoki’s Page

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Storm Over Warlock – Andre Norton

An ok little sci-fi story.   Andre was the earliest of women sci-fi writers, even before Ursula K Le Guin, and this book certainly feels quite old school in that it has quite a few elements that you’re more likely to find in pure fantasy books these days.

Not really the kind of thing i would think the youth would be into these days, but for us old school types who enjoy going back in time and don’t care if people mix witches, warlocks and dream spells in with their lasers, spaceships and food pills it’s quite an enjoyable little read and a wonderful piece of sci-fi history.

Essentially, a scout team are on a new planet, named ‘Warlock’, setting things up when aliens arrive and destroy them all, except the youngest and newest member of the team and two wolverines.   Then it becomes a case of surviving on an alien planet while being hunted by the aliens.   And so the story begins as more things are discovered about the planet and its native flora and fauna along the way.

Available as a single book or in the collection, ‘Visions of Distant Shores’.

Andre’s Page

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The Lock In – Colby R. Rice

The third book of this enthralling series is just as good as the first two.

‘The Lock In’ continues where ‘The Taken’ left off.   Ezekiel has decided which side she needs to be on, but the problem with that idea is that she soon begins to realise that they might have different plans for her, ones that don’t include her being on their side.

So Ezekiel finds herself running on the streets again, but after the bombings everything has changed.   Faust makes an appearance with his minions the Ninkashi, who are all very hungry, and much mayhem, gore and death ensues as more of the story and characters are slowly revealed to us.   And that’s what makes these books so good: they are incredibly action packed, fast paced books, dark and not so pleasant, which contrasts so well with story and character backgrounds — that reveal more of the plot — getting drip fed slowly throughout that action.   So even after 3 books, i’m still not sure what’s really going on, but it really doesn’t matter, because to get here has been an awesome ride.   The destination is somewhere ahead, who cares where, the journey is more than good enough.

There simply isn’t any downtime in these books.   Find a comfy chair or bed and start reading, you may be there for a while.

Colby’s Page

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The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

Oh my, what an incredible book.   It is a roller coaster of emotion, from smiles, giggles and laughs all the way through to crying your eyes out and feeling heartbroken.   Although i’m sure there are people who can read this book and never feel a thing, which is entirely possible if you refuse to surrender yourself to the story and characters, but then what’s the point in reading a book if not to surrender to it completely?

Characters…   There isn’t one awful character, everyone in this book is nice, or funny in some way, even the grumpy lock keepers and their moustachioed wives with dogs that wee on Max’s hands bring a smile or giggle to you.   And that’s what makes this book so hard to take in places, you can fall in love with the characters and feel for them so completely.   Other books have those nasty characters, the evil ones to balance the good, and that holds you in balance and never lets you fly off into the good characters so much, this book doesn’t hold you back from that.

Places…   Nina is a genius when it comes to putting you into a place, a room, even a simple field.   The way she describes tastes, textures, sounds, sights, smells, makes it all feel like a dream you are in.   She never overdoes it, and always when the story needs it.

Emotions…   You feel them along with the characters as you are taken into their lives.   So many haven’t loved for 21 years (or there abouts).   21 seems like the magic number in this book.   You have to go 21 years without love to be a main character in this book.   But none of it ever seems unreal, just a coincidence.   This book is about losing, about finding, about tragedy, about love, about dying, about living, its got the most wonderful high moments and most heartbreaking lows.

Story…   The best bit.   And that’s the bit where i will use the last book i read to draw a few comparisons.

This was my second reading of this book, having last read it just over 2 years ago before i started writing reviews.

One thing i remember when reading it last time was that it reminded me of ‘Heart of Darkness’ and so the plan was to wait a couple of years and then come back to it having read ‘Heart of Darkness’ immediately before and then write a review of both books and see if there were any similarities.

These two books are so similar, yet so very different.   The template is definitely there, that of the river boat voyage, the bizarre encounters along the way and the deeply emotional journey of our boat captains.   We begin one sitting on the Thames in London while the other begins sitting on the Seine in Paris.   A description of companions ensues before we are taken on our voyages.   And there’s where they differ.

In HoD we are on a voyage up river into the centre of the land, into the darkness and ignorance of man’s soul and what he’s truly capable of at his worse.   While in TLPB we are on a voyage down river to the sea, into the light and opening up of a man’s soul from 21 years of darkness and ignorance, and we’re shown what people are truly capable of at their best.

Whereas in HoD we have Kurtz and his fiance, in TLPB we have Luc and Manan’s diary.

In HoD the final conversation with Kurtz is replaced with the final entry in Manan’s diary, while Luc replaces the crazy Russian.

The bizarre encounters along the banks are quite awful episodes in HoD as they expose Marlow to ever more wrong, and dim the light ever further, while in TLPB the bizarre encounters along the banks expose Jean to ever more right, and turn on the light ever brighter.

And instead of pilgrims on the boat they are replaced with a runaway writer, a cook, and another writer who has been waiting for the love of her life to turn up; while the cannibals are replaced with 2 cats.

And no, i have no idea if Nina has even read ‘Heart of Darkness’, maybe she has, maybe she hasn’t.   And even if she has, was that any influence on ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’?   I could write and ask, but i simply love the not knowing because it really doesn’t matter.   What mattered was that the first time i read TLPB i could barely remember reading HoD, it had been decades, and both were read while under the influence of alcohol, numbed, but this time i decided to read them one immediately after the other and i have been sober for 22 months.   This time i wasn’t numbed by alcohol and really felt both books, i really felt that i read them both, and i really felt that they complemented each other in so many ways.

To be taken right into the depth’s of Charles Marlow’s darkness in HoD and be left hanging there at the end only to go immediately to the depths of Jean Perdu’s darkness in Paris and be then taken back into the light was quite the literary journey, and definitely one i would very much recommend for anyone looking for a true roller-coaster experience.

But however, and whatever, you want to read, just make sure ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ is on your ‘To Read’ pile, everyone should read this book.

I have also read ‘The Little Breton Bistro’ but wasn’t writing reviews at that time either.   But i assure you, it’s also a wonderful book.   And Nina’s latest book, ‘The Book of Dreams’ is now out, which i’ll most certainly get around to as soon as i’ve re-read ‘The Little Breton Bistro’.

Nina’s Page

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Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

The book that inspired the film, ‘Apocalypse Now’.

I read this book many, many years ago and i especially wanted to read it again before re-reading ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’.   From my long ago memory of Heart of Darkness it struck me that there was something similar going on in the two books so i wanted to re-read both.   More on the similarities in the next review, for this review i’m just sticking with ‘Heart of Darkness’.

So what did i think?   It has the usual politically incorrect Victorian wording and attitude to non-Europeans, which tends towards appalling, even more so than usual as this book is mostly telling a story of the Belgian Congo when the Belgians were exploiting it and its peoples.

There’s a lot been said about this book, both good and bad, and you can read more on the wiki page if you want to know more.

For me, i’d like to see the glass half full with this one.   Yes i understand the other side of the debate, and i most certainly do not condone any colonialism, i absolutely condemn it all, but…

This book was written in the Victorian age and i do feel that if you are going to read Victorian literature then you have to lay aside your modern prejudices, morals, ethics, etc., and understand that the people writing it were victims and hostages of their own age as we are of ours.   It’s not so much politically incorrect as it’s far more politically ignorant.   And for me that is what a lot of this book is about: the political ignorance of the age.

Yes, Conrad uses words that are considered repugnant now, but they were not considered so when he wrote this.   And its the words, i feel, that create the problem for a lot of people, allowing those to cloud their judgement of Conrad’s attitude and opinion.   If you can take that step back and accept the words to be used as they were used in his age by white Europeans, only then can you see what Conrad was really saying ‘when’ he wrote this book.   You really cannot read this book as though it were written by someone in the 21st century for people in the 21st century.   It’s a piece of history written a long time ago, read it as such.

So considering that, from my perspective, Conrad is very clearly appalled with the worse of white Europeans descending upon the peoples of Africa appearing almost deity like — and exploiting that appearance to the maximum — simply due to their modern technology, their equipment, their immaculate white clothes in a hostile environment of sweat and mud.   What chance would any person who has lived a natural life in a completely natural world have of remaining unaffected by the power and influence over the natural world that white Europeans had at their disposal?

Conrad makes clear that he alone, amongst the white Europeans on the boat, can see the humanity in the people’s of the Congo, while others would just consider them wild animals.   How the sounds of the Congalese connected to a part of him, as only a human could connect to another human.

The only white person in the whole of Africa that Conrad wishes to speak to is Kurtz, the rest he seems to dismiss as arrogant fools and idiots who should never have been there.

One also has to remember that Conrad actually did go on this journey on a steam boat up the Congo to one of the inner stations, he witnessed what the Belgians were actually doing there, and he knew very well what Europe was being told about the people that lived there.   The most telling part of this book is simply Kurtz’s last four words… ‘The horror, the horror!’

When Marlow, the protagonist, finally arrives home and meets Kurtz’s fiancé and she asks him what his final words were he cannot bring himself to tell her the truth because he feels it would crush her to know what he did in her name, as Kurtz only went there to win his fortune in order to be considered worthy to be her husband.   One can quite clearly see the metaphor here, that Conrad himself, when he came back from the Congo, didn’t have anyone to speak to of the horror that he had witnessed being done in the name of the progress of European nations at the expense of those they dehumanise.   There seems to me that if we place Conrad in Marlow’s place, we get to realise that when Conrad was in the Congo, he had no one to understand his feelings of horror, that he only wished to find one person amongst it all that he could talk to.   And when he came home to Europe how was he to explain to the people of Europe the horror that was being done in their name by the worse of them that they would send to Africa on their behalf — and would they even want to listen?

So for me, this is what this book is, Conrad’s description of what he’d experienced in Africa that he felt no one would, or could, listen to; that he felt no one he knew would understand.

If only he could have found just one person at the end of his own journey to talk to who understood.

Joseph’s Page

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