22 August 2013

A-Z Book Survey

I stumbled on this questionnaire on Twitter from The Perpetual Pageturner and thought it looked like a fun way to kill a lunch hour, so here it goes!

Author youve read the most books from:
Terry Pratchett, since I've read all he has written.

Best Sequel ever:
Difficult one, but I'll give it to King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. It blew my socks off.

Currently Reading:
The Long War by Pratchett and Baxter.

Drink of choice while reading:
A good glass of South African red wine goes down well.

E-reader of physical book?
E-reader for published books that hasn't arrived in RSA yet or books I'm not sure I'm going to like, physical books for collections.

Fictional character you'd have dated in high school:
Sabetha from The Republic of Thieves. Brilliant, witty and all round awesome.

Glad you gave this book a chance.
Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. I picked it up on a whim and it's astoundingly good.

Hidden gem book:
Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd, it deserves a lot more attention.

Important moment in your reading life:
When I read Dune by Frank Herbert while in high school. Opened my mind in loads of different ways.

Just Finished:
Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Review on it's way!

Kinds of books you won't read:
Paranormal romance. Or most romance actually.

Longest book you've read:
Lord of the Rings? Malazan book of the Fallen? Wheel of Time? If they count as single books that is.

Major book hangover:
Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. I was a bit depressed when the trilogy ended.

Number of bookcases you own:
One damn big one. Covers a whole wall.

One book you've read multiple times:
Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman. And Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And Night Watch by Pratchett.

Preferred place to read:
My old Lazy-boy I got from my father-in-law.

Quote that inspires you:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” 
― Frank HerbertDune

Reading regret:
Time wasted on books I didn't like but where I've still pushed through to finish them.

Series you've started and need to finish where all the books are published.
None, since the current series' i'm reading is still being written. The Dresden files for example.

Three of your all-time favourite books:
The Blade Itself by Abercrombie, Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd and Lies of Locke Lamora by Lynch.

Unapolagetic fanboy for:
John Scalzi. Love his work.

Very exited for this release:
Moon's Artifice by Tom Lloyd.

Worst bookish habit. 
Reading until the early hours in bed and being a zombie the next day.

X marks the spot: 27th book from top left on shelf:
Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Your latest book purchase
The Long War by Pratchett and Baxter

ZZZ-Snatcher - Book that kept you up way too late.
Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch.

19 August 2013

Apocalypse Now Now - Charlie Human


Baxter Zevcenko's life is pretty sweet. As the 16-year-old kingpin of the Spider, his smut-peddling schoolyard syndicate, he's making a name for himself as an up-and-coming entrepreneur. Profits are on the rise, the other gangs are staying out of his business, and he's going out with Esme, the girl of his dreams.

But when Esme gets kidnapped, and all the clues point towards strange forces at work, things start to get seriously weird. The only man drunk enough to help is a bearded, booze-soaked, supernatural bounty hunter that goes by the name of Jackson 'Jackie' Ronin.

Plunged into the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town's supernatural underworld, Baxter and Ronin team up to save Esme. On a journey that takes them through the realms of impossibility, they must face every conceivable nightmare to get her back, including the odd brush with the Apocalypse.

The covers are stupendously pretty. I've included both the RSA -right- and UK -left- covers for the first time, since this is one of the few books where I like both. On most books the UK cover is miles better than the US cover, but Joey Hi-Fi did his usual thing and knocked it out of the park. I love the RSA one on the right a little bit more, but that's just me. I was under the impression that the left one was for the USA, sorry about that.

This is Mr. Human's d├ębut novel and it was well worth the wait. It's one the few books based mostly in South Africa I've read, which is a damn shame since I enjoyed knowing the lay of the land so to speak. Baxter's South Africa definitely isn't the normal South Africa. Cape Town, the mountain and some of the history is present and seems quite similar. Then Mr. Human's insane brain rips the carpet that you think you know from underneath you, rolls you up in it and transports you into a strange, twisted world.

Baxter is a 16 year old high school student. No, this novel isn't YA, promise. His school has competing gangs who peddle drugs and guns, which is a bit weird. Baxter has assembled his own crew, The Spider, who carved out a niche for themselves supplying the youth of suburban Cape Town with porn in all it's forms. Baxter plays the bigger gangs off each other to keep the peace, or at least he tries to. A little slice of a big cake is a lot better for everybody than no cake at all. Baxter has his booming business, his girl and things are looking rosy for the little crime lord. At least for a little while.

Baxter is one screwed up kid. This is apparent quite quickly in the novel, since he is the main POV throughout. A scheming little bastard that uses everybody around him to further his own goals. When his girlfriend, Esme, is kidnapped, he's faced with something strange. It seemed there is a possibility he really loves her and he wants to rescue her. 

So is this book a straight up urban fantasy where the hero is faced with the dilemma of having to rescue someone he loves? No, not even close. Baxter is too strange for that to be the main issue.

The world Mr. Human has created is insane. In every way. He's taken San Bushman and African gods, parallel dimensions , pop culture, some standard fantasy creatures and Afrikaner mythology, blended them together in who knows what and used the resulting mixture as paint to construct a scary, dark absolutely addicting world for his characters to play in. 

The story goes along at a breakneck pace, especially when the wheels start to come off for Baxter and he's exposed to the real world he never even imagined existed. It's stupendous. One of my favourite parts in the middle of the novel is a stutter step in the pacing, done so damn well I still smile thinking of it. 
The supporting cast is written well, with the important players given enough back story and hints of motives to flesh them out.

Honestly, read this book. As Mr. Human's first, it's written beautifully. I can't wait to read his next.