A Trio Of Book Reviews

I’d read these concurrently, so I thought I’d review the two concurrently, and tell you why I couldn’t get through the one.

Book Review: Miss Kwa Kwa
Author: Stephen Simm
Genre: Adult humor/satire
Format: novel

1845321 Kwa Kwa Goodreads

In brief:

When reading certain books, there are times when you must either throw down the offending book in revulsion and disgust; or laugh and read on with an open-mind. Miss Kwa Kwa is one of these books. Laughing and reading on brings more laughter and a glitter-filled silver-lining for all bar one. And quite rightly so.

The Whole story:

This was my second reading of Miss Kwa Kwa. The first was years ago when it first came out. It still surprised me on my second reading. I had forgotten that it is filled with offensive words to systematically tick off anyone who regularly attends tea-parties, social parties, or any parties (even political).

The Story:
Little Miss Kwa Kwa knows dynamite comes in small packages, especially with her brain. She is set on blowing her way out of rural Kwa Kwa and exploding onto the Joburg scene to become a celebrity. But the road to TV Land is uneven and paved by a murderous farmer, annoying little children and a knitting-addicted Producer. Miss Kwa Kwa is irrepressible, inventive and absolutely determined that her star will shine brighter than any other little town pageant queen. This is the story of how she uses her own unique brand of spit and polish to achieve her dream.
Note: There might be a gun or two (this is set in Joburg) but there are at no point any actual explosions.

What could have been better:

There are times, towards the end of the book, where the plot seems too contrived to bring all the players into the scene. It does not detract too much from the fun of reading, but it would have been nice if it weren’t so noticeable.

Fun fact:

Miss Kwa Kwa’s Superstardom Lessons are priceless! I love: “Superstardom Lesson 11: There will always be another hurdle to jump. Some are much higher, and the best way to overcome these is to creep under them when no one’s looking.” pg31

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Mix black and white and you get grey? I don’t know. I don’t care. It was just a fun, guilty reading.

Rating: 4.5/5
Recommended to: Lovers of the absurd with tough skins and less refined sensibilities, maybe

 Book Review: Seeker
 Author: Jack McDevitt
 Genre: Science Fiction
 Format: novel

19606517Seeker Goodreads

In brief:

I was unable to complete this book. It started off quite well then just fell further and further to the wayside. I don’t often quit a book half-way through, but I don’t see how it’s going to hold my attention any longer, especially when there were two other books competing, with more to them.

The Whole story:

The premise is great–an ancient artifact surfaces, hinting that a lost space colony might be found. What could be more fun that a book seeming to be about Indiana Jones in space with Miss Marple and Trillion along for the ride? Except, there’s no Indy and there’s no Trillion and Miss Marple is a mite more intelligent than anybody else around.
The first third of the book delivered to my expectations. There’s a deep mystery, lots of setting of the time and locations, the plot moves along well and I ignored the little niggles that some of the history timelines and details don’t always add up.

What could have been better:

After an action scene around pg 126, I started to notice that characters are stagnant and that the only reason I know Chase is a woman is because I’m told so. None of the other characters are very engaging, and the most intelligent problem solving, so far, has come from the home security AI. I decided to stop reading when Chase behaves even more idiotically on her trip to an alien museum. I can only take so much of a convoluted plot dictating inane behavior to characters.

I was really disappointed that such a promising beginning should falter into the boring.
I really believe that if this book was edited down into a short-story, it would be much, much better.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Don’t believe all the reviews you read, especially when they are reviews of the author instead of the book itself.

Rating: NA
Recommended to: Die-hard sci-fi mystery fans stuck in transit.

 Book Review: Deep Secret
 Author: Diana Wynne Jones
 Genre: Fantasy
 Format: novel

1017838 Deep Secret

In brief:

I hadn’t read a Diana Wynne Jones in years. I had found some of her newer ones a little less mature for my liking. And then I found Deep Secret last week. I couldn’t put it down. I even read it through a bad migraine. It has all the elements of my most beloved Diana Wynne Jones stories, plus some new ones to boot.

The Whole story:

Magids secretly guide worlds towards magic, regulate magic and help worlds sort out magical problems. Rupert is a fairly new Magid with two massive problems. One is to sort out the problems of a vast Empire when it starts to crumble. The other, and more worrying one, is to find a new Magid from Earth to mentor now that his old mentor, Stan, has stopped breathing. Rupert’s problem is getting all five candidates together to best evaluate who should join the ranks of Magids. He also has to try to figure out why someone wants him dead, and why the most aggravating candidate of all, Maree, keeps aggravating him! It might be the Witchy Dance or her cousin Nick, then again, it might not.

I didn’t know what to expect going into this story. I wasn’t expecting Bristol (a place I’ve never been) to defy motorists again, but it did. I wasn’t expecting to like the characters as much as I did, but I did. And I wasn’t expecting to get so involved in the plot again, but (you guessed it) I did.
I’ve always admire the way Diana Wynne Jones incorporates rhymes and poetry into her story-lines, presenting them as bits of magic lore.

What could have been better:

It ended way to soon!

Fun facts:

I loved the Witchy Dance and wished I’d thought of it myself. I’ll have to try it someday.
Bristol appeared not to have changed much since Polly Whittaker was last there.
Although technology has come a long way since this book was written, geek speak has not, IT-wise.
As a writer, it’s interesting to see how Jones managed the changing viewpoints. It’s the first time I’ve encountered them in her novels.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

I learnt that there is more to Diana Wynne Jones after Howl’s Moving Castle. I learnt that I should play more computer games if I want to learn some real magic. And that some viruses are nastier on computers.

Rating: 5/5
Recommended to: as a follow up to Fire and Hemlock and Archer’s Goon; to new readers of Dianna Wynne Jones, anyone whose been to, or has ever wanted to go to, a Fantasy Con.

Leenna is currently prepping her novel Situation No Win for re-release.


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