The Nexus Mirror

We have here a story about a hidden race on Earth, known as the Enlai, and a human who sets out to stop a war between the different factions of this race. Then we have a woman of the Reader Enlai group being manipulated by the villain after her sister is kidnapped. Finally, later in the book, we are introduced to the ruler of the Shadow Enlai, who ultimately became one of my favorite characters. 

This book took me by surprise. What I mean by that is that after several chapters of slowly being introduced to the characters and the world that Michael Noah created, I found that I wasn’t that interested. First, because I am a Mortal Kombat player, the name Raiden immediately had me thinking of the game. As I read further and became introduced to the different races in the book, I felt more and more like I was reading a fanfiction story. The Shadow Clan, the Readers, the Shifters, the Burners, it all sounded like the clans in the game. There was even a dream sequence where Raiden found himself caught between two characters who reminded me strongly of Scorpion and Sub-Zero battling it out.

But then, several chapters in (I want to say around the 40% mark on the Kindle), the depth of the characters really started to shine, and the action had purpose. I started to get sucked into the story. Raiden’s motivations became more sincere. Alia, the Reader, began to show more feeling and discovered some real challenges.

Maybe somewhere deep down, this story was inspired by Mortal Kombat, but if so, it took the story so much further than the hokey storyline of the aforementioned video game, and brought the characters to life. I commend Michael Noah for the depth of his characters, turning this action-packed book into more than just a cheesy action flick and into something with interesting hooks and lures.

I can’t wait to see what the author creates in this interesting new world.

Storm Cloud Haze – Five Stars
Storm Cloud Haze: A memoir in poetry, prose and polaroidsStorm Cloud Haze: A memoir in poetry, prose and polaroids by Alessandra Wike
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! How do you rate this? How do you rate someone’s life, their pain, their suffering, their fear? I didn’t really want to, but I know how important it is for an author.

If this were a work of fiction, my rating would be so different, or if I were to rate it on the writing alone. I disliked the poetry. Even the prose was written poetically, and I care little for that style of writing. However, I’m going to ignore that part of my brain for this review. It’s trivial to the story being told in Storm Cloud Haze.

Storm Cloud Haze is a story of pain. It’s a story of trauma. It’s a story of acceptance. It’s Alessandra’s story. To say I found the story frightening is an understatement.

When I took Kenpo Noh Shin Do, it was to learn to defend ourselves, to end a fight quickly, and by whatever means necessary. But how? How do you win a fight when your opponent is your own body? The concept is terrifying, and Alessandra’s experiences are chilling.

I can only commend Alessandra for her bravery, for seeking hope in a situation that seemed devoid of it.

I won this book in a contest. I could tell right off that it’s not my typical read, but as a literature student, I learned not to turn down a book just because it’s not in the genre that resonates with me.

This book contains a beautiful, haunting story of survival. I highly recommend it to anyone really. It’s short and gives you something to think about.

Because of what this book is, because of what this book stands for, I can only leave it five stars. But again, how do you rate this?

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five stars
Einstein's Beach House

Einstein’s Beach House by Jacob M. Appel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

  A couple adopt a depressed hedgehog; a mother is seduced by the father of her daughter’s imaginary friend; a man kidnap’s his ex-wife’s pet turtle. In eight tragi-comic stories, Einstein’s Beach House: Stories features ordinary men and women rising to life’s extraordinary challenges.

These are the kind of stories I can jive with. A collection of strange tales that border believably. Nothing too out there, nothing that couldn’t happen, but most certainly quirky. Appel has a sense of humor that resonates with me. As my wife so aptly put it, “I could be friends with this guy.”

The book had eight short stories, including one called Einstein’s Beach House, the namesake. Some of the stories were frightening in subtle ways, others were hilarious, and some made you think. I tend to like dark and gritty themes, and although not all the stories fit this description, I still loved them. However, The Rod of Asclepius certainly aligned with my tastes. It was like sipping that first bit of coffee in the morning. That sensation of, “Ah, so good.” If coffee isn’t your thing (you should get your head checked), think of it as getting your back massaged. That satisfying, relaxing feeling you . . . you get the point. I really like this story.

Go for it, take a plunge. The water’s fine!



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In Honor of Toni Morrison

To celebrate the life of the esteemed author Toni Morrison, I’m reposting my review of Beloved. This book ranks as one of my all-time favorite reads.

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I enrolled into my contemporary literature class, I couldn’t fathom what kinds of novels my instructor planed to toss at us. I remember staring at the reading list with more than a little trepidation, and when my eyes glanced over Toni Morrison’s Beloved, I groaned. The red background with the flowing gold script screamed romance to me. When it came time to read the book, I settled in with an open mind, but still trembled from the thought of sappy narration. Within the first few lines I discovered my fears were unfounded. Never judge a book by its cover!

Beloved tells us a hauntingly beautiful ghost story, brought forth by the desperate actions of an escaped slave woman, Sethe. Some may wonder whether Sethe’s actions are perhaps the wisest; regardless, her actions come back to haunt her, literally. Readers may find Toni’s writing style difficult. She packs the pages full of dreams, flashbacks, and memories that take the reader back and forth through time (think Faulkner or Virginia Woolf), and I found myself confused, having to reread the text sometimes to decipher the meaning behind the words. Regardless the excellent story makes up for this confusion. I highly suggest reading it.

On a side note: The movie failed to encompass the grittiness and emotion of which the book so brilliantly displayed.

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Beloved
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison
My rating (on Goodreads): 4 out of 5 stars

They say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and that definitely applies to Beloved! When I first saw the book, I thought, “Oh crap! A romance novel.” I was way off. In spite of its ambiguous cover, Beloved is actually a ghost story, resulting from the desperate actions of Sethe, an escaped female slave.

Readers may debate whether Sethe makes good decisions; however, regardless of right or wrong, her actions come back to haunt her, literally. I don’t want to give away the story to prospective readers, but I will say that this book isn’t for everyone. Filled with dream sequences, flashbacks, and memories Beloved flip flops through time in a manner reminiscent of William Faulkner or Virginia Woolf. Love it or hate it, don’t skip reading it.

On a side note: the movie is horrible. No Hollywood flick could ever encompass the grittiness and raw emotion captured by the book. But don’t take my word for it: Read it, watch it, rate it! Let me know what you think.

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~ Michael C. Sahd