Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Review: EATING ROBOTS by Stephen Oram

The future is bright…or is it?
Step into a high-tech vision of the future with the author of Quantum Confessions and Fluence, Stephen Oram.
Featuring health-monitoring mirrors, tele-empathic romances and limb-repossessing bailiffs, Eating Robots explores the collision of utopian dreams and twisted realities in a world where humanity and technology are becoming ever more intertwined.
Sometimes funny, often unsettling, and always with a word of warning, these thirty sci-fi shorts will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

A universal booklinker link that detects which country you're in and links to Eating Robots myBook.to/EatingRobots


Linzé's Review
Each and every story surprised me, some in a good way, some not so good. These surprises are purely based on my personal preferences and reactions to reading them. While I liked some stories more than others, each story was well executed. The author manages in every single instance to draw the reader deep into the story line. The characters are formed quickly in the mind of the reader, and it isn't difficult to empathise with them, irrespective of the details of the plot or the outcome of the story.
Some of the stories have a gruesome subplot and yet the innocence with which the characters are portrayed makes it easy to be drawn into their world where they 'live' their realities and beliefs. As the reader, my reactions were purely based on my own world view, and yet the author did an amazing job of tempering any subjective reactions that someone from our time would have towards the activities that the characters engage in. Science fiction lends itself to a wide base of technological developments in various fields, some of which are more palatable to us than others. By exploring these technologies in the stories portrayed here, our eyes are opened to the practicalities of what these technologies may develop into.
Overall the stories have been written in an exceptional style. Science fiction sometimes makes 'showing, not telling' a difficult thing to accomplish in creative writing, but the author has done so with a high level of skill.
Despite my personal reactions (I grew nauseous while reading Real Meat and Eating Robots, and had to stop reading for a few minutes) the compilation is an excellent example of a collection of stories in the genre.
  
Linzé's rating: 💜💜💜💜

Book Feature: The N Days by John Murray McKay

Synopsis:
Charlotte Corday, an eighteen-year-old junkie, trying to survive on the crime-ridden streets of 1980s New York has a chance encounter with a group of five thugs beating a man to death behind a deli in Brooklyn. Through ways unknown to her yet, she manages to subdue the gang members using unheralded skills in combat and weaponry, killing three in the process. The man whose life she saved turns out to be a low-level enforcer for the New York Mafia. Impressed with her skills, Vince takes care of the injured Charlotte and slowly starts dragging her into a life of crime. He recognizes her potential as an assassin for the mob, digging his claws ever deeper into her. To keep her safe, Vince sends her to live with her two cross-dressing uncles in The Village (who also happens to run a clandestine gun-running operation above their salon.) She tries to live a normal life but her demons would not let her go, the blood on her hands a constant reminder of what she really is: a weapon.
Charlotte eventually goes looking into her past and discovers that she was part of a secret government-sponsored enhanced soldier program called Venom. She is imbued with the powers of legendary female warriors of history, giving her enhanced strength, recovery time and the fighting prowess of generations of deadly women. Unfortunately, this warps her mind and sends her life spiralling out of control in her quest for vengeance.


Determined to find the creators of Venom, Charlotte goes on a blood-soaked journey to find her origins, tearing New York City apart in the process. With the FBI and NYPD closing in on her after drug-fuelled massacre of thirty innocents, Vince offers Charlotte a tantalising proposition: A rooftop meeting between the creator of Venom and the head of the New York Mafia. With her finger on the sniper trigger, Charlotte has to make a decision: end the life of the man that ruined her entire existence or put a bullet through the most powerful Mafioso on the East Coast. She makes her choice but accidentally kills the mafia boss as he runs in front of her bullet. With Vince swearing a blood oath of vengeance on her, Charlotte goes on the run. Book one ends where her uncles smuggle Charlotte out of the country in a shipping container. Destination: Northern Ireland in the middle of the sectarian wars. With the knowledge that she can never go home, Charlotte Corday must forge a new path, one that runs straight through the blood-soaked streets of Belfast.


Story behind the story: 

I originally started a normal road trip novel across America from New York to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it neversaw the light of day but a little spark was born that eventually became The N Days. I took the concept of a road trip across the USA and married it with the genre of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The final inspiration was remembering a scene from the TV series' Once upon a time'. I originally planned for only a single volume but when I looked again, a 5 book beast was written. The rest is history.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1520228759 


Author Bio: 
I am a Pretoria, South Africa based writer of historical fiction and science fiction. I am currently a teacher in a local primary school. My previous publishing credits include “The N Days” through Night Chaser Ink Publishing in Australia. My second series 'The Venom Protocols' is a Summer Indie awards winner in 2016.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - Z is for...

Zero is not just a number...

Have you ever wished for a few minutes of silence? Or an hour or two of solitude? Few people actually want these things and the reasons vary from one person to the next. But why would you never want to be alone?

When zero is not the hero

Many people feel happy, in fact, they are at their happiest, when they are surrounded by people. People are noisy, to I guess the silence and the solitude go together in most cases. Is it even possible to be with other people 24/7? In our modern era of social media, it is. Different time zones, different times of the day. It doesn't matter where you are, the internet never sleeps. Then again...

Solitude will be inevitable at some point

What do you do when the power is down and with it all means to be online? Everything connected to our way of life is driven by technology and technology requires electricity. No power, no social media. It is a bad time to visit other people, now what? Do you freak out? Panic? Or do you shrug and go finish that painting you started last week? Or grab that book you have been threatening to read? Or search for a candle and catch up on your meditation or mindfulness practice?
The problem comes in when you are alone, even if the power is not the problem. Many people face that situation after a divorce, or children leaving home, or relocation to a new home. We can never completely avoid it.

Zero can be the hero

woman writing in a notebook
The best way to learn to deal with being alone is to control your time, your activities and your mind when you are. You can learn how to do that by choosing to be alone even for a short time. Find something to keep you occupied. An activity that you like, that could make you happy even though there is no one else around.
If you don't know what that is, take the time to find it. Explore new things. Take a moment to remember what you liked as a child, and translate that to the adult version.
Remember to record your journey and experiences in your journal. It is your time to be alone, isn't it?
--- * -- * -- * ---
This is the last post of this series of Finding your Happiness through Journal Writing in the A to Z Challenge. This is, however, not the last word on this subject and I encourage you to read more books and explore online articles on the subjects of journal writing and personal happiness. You will be doing it for yourself after all.
Until next time!
Linzé

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - Y is for...

You in all your glory
Today we are doing a little art once more, and it couldn't be easier. You did this a lot when you were a child. Now we are just going to do the grown up version with a twist.
Who are you?
We as individuals have many roles in our daily lives. Some because we have to, and some because we choose to. So today we are going to use a very simple drawing to say who we are.
The steps are as follows:
pencil drawing, left hand, handmade paper
  1. Use your journal directly, or a piece of art paper suitable for watercolour paint or watercolour pencils. Make sure it is trimmed so it will fit the page of your journal (if necessary).
  2. Use a pencil to draw the outline of your non-dominant hand - just as you did when you were young. I kept my fingers slightly bent to make sure they fit on my paper.
  3. Use a permanent marker or pen, to redraw the pencil lines, and add a few details if you like. I added the wrinkles over my knuckles and the half-moons in my nails where I have them. Lastly, I added my wedding ring, since I was wearing it when I did the outline.
    watercolour paint, paint brush, pencil drawing of hand on white paper
  4. Activate the paint by spraying it with a little water. Then using a soft flat brush, paint in any random way, with random colours all over your sketch. If the colours flow together, that is perfect too.
    watercolour painted hand, multicolour drawing, two pens
  5. Let it dry otherwise, it will stain the pages of your journal.
  6. I used a silver gel marker to redraw my ring, but the details were then obscured. The ink of this pen is not conducive to drawing over it again, so I left it as is.
  7. Use a permanent pen and write down all your roles as you see them. You can make a list like I did, or you can write them all over, at angles, upside-down, whatever way you feel like.
  8. Sign and date your drawing, and glue it into your journal when you're done.
    watercolour painted drawing of a hand, handwritten text over image

Our roles change with time and also as we grow older. You can easily do this again at any time you feel like it. I do this hand drawing once a year, and it is always interesting to see what has changed, and what has remained the same.
  

This is our last art entry for the A to Z Challenge in 2017. I hope you enjoyed doing something a little different for your journal entries this month.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Live in Balance: A to Z Challenge - X is for...

Crossing out...high five!
small tick mark and cross in purple square
Do you ever go back to the todo lists you make to cross out the items that you have completed? (check out www.bulletjournal.com if you need a system to help manage those pesky to-do lists)
I am guilty too for not doing that. Sure the job is done, so why bother? We should bother. Internal validation of achievement is just as important as external recognition. Of course, no one is going to give you an award for completing the ironing today (well, in my book you deserve a medal!) but tasks completed give us some a sense of happiness too. Even the mundane tasks like ironing.
Checking back; moving forward
Todo lists in our journals are seldom simple tasks or goals that we set for ourselves. Often we beat ourselves up, because it is taking longer, or it is more difficult than what we expected. But if you look back to six months or just two months' entries ago, you will see progress to now. And so what if it is taking longer? You are growing. You are moving forward. The journey you are on is not an overnight kind of success journey. It is a life long journey with yourself.
Cross out?
In journal writing, we don't delete what was written in the past. Nor so we cross out the words of history. Compare yourself today with the person you have been, and see the changes. Rejoice in the happiness that you have achieved.
Note the path that you have travelled, and keep moving forward.
Only read entries that are weeks or months old to see the changes in yourself. Long lasting changes are subtle and take more time, but they are there and you will see that in you.
If you started your journal on 1 April 2017, then delay this entry for a while. Make a note of it, and come back to it at the end of June. Keep writing and work on finding your happiness, it is a journey after all.