Sunday, 28 April 2013

Letters From Rifkka, Karen Hesse - The Review, by Ryeleigh                          9.6

An account of a young Jewish girl's experiences when she has to
flee Russia with her family, during the first world war.

Letters from Rifka was an extremely intriguing book, that I couldn't put down.
The book was about a young woman (Rifka) who at a young age of twelve had
to flee her house with her family, being a Russian Jew.

She looked very different from her family. Being blonde and blue eyed, she could
pull off not being a Jew, in the midst of their escape Rifka is seperated from her
family, and is in for an adventure, to get to America.

This book was absolutley heartbreaking at times, and left me crying. Letters to Rifka
is absolutely captivating from page one until the end. One of the books where when
your away from it all you do is think about it, and when you finish it you can't stop
thinking about it.

This book was very impressive, and I didnt want the story to end, truly astounding.
Brilliantly plotted, and perfectly paced...engrossing.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Twelve Reasons To Die, GhostFace Killah & Adrian Younge - The Review

The DeLucas pressed Tony's remains, into twelve vinyl records,
One for each member of the  family, but little did they know ...,
He will return.


A vicious and angry Tony Starks returns  from the dead as Ghostface Killah to 
take revenge on all his enemies - the DeLucas and Carmella Logan.

The Concept
Do a mafia style remake of the famous Julius Caesar play, incorporating into it 
the story of the comic book superhero, Ironman.

Have it written entirely in rhyme and verse, cast a number of skilled late nineties
hip-hop emcees (largely drawn from the Wutang family), and have them deliver 
a performance to die for.

The Cast, Crew And Their Craft
Ghostface Killah gives off a near flawless performance as the main character, 
Tony Starks and his 'ghost', making us feel his rage, his ambition, his conflict in 
having to choose the love of his life over the warning's of his crew, his fear, his fall, 
his return and his gleeful joy in his bloody revenge.

Adrian Younge directs the play, bringing the set to life with his hard, heavy, slow, 
fast, or thumping beats as the scene demands. Our narrator Rza fills the empty holes 
in the story with his haunting, inflectionless voice.

Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, Killa Sin, Cappadonna, U-Don, and William 
Hart all deliver incredible beat riding performances laced with fluid-like flow. 
Special mention to Killa Sin for a memorable in jail spitting on Revenge is sweet.

The Story
The curtain rises to reveal an angry Ghostface Killah, warning us to beware of 
his stare, lest he turns us into stone. He proceeds to give us a preview of the play,
invoking our curiosity through mentions of Medusa, DeLucas, Tony Starks and 
generally promises us of blood and gore.

In the next few tracks, we get introduced to the story of Tony Starks, an ambitious 
young man born into the life of crime, well spotted by the DeLuca mafia family and 
put with the family to grow. He is however despised despite the quick rise of his power, 
for what seems to him to be his dark skin and not given the opportunity to be a made 
man. Resenful, he leaves the family to set up his own crew which quickly gains influence 
with connections in Rome, Sicily and Colombia. The rise of the black suits or the Black 
Gambino, naturally brings him into conflict with the DeLucas and it isn't long before
he has to declare war on the DeLucas familia.

In the throes of the war, some of his crew raise questions about the loyalties of the 
love of his life, and he dismisses these accusations and begins to wonder who his real
enemies really are. As it turns out Logan was indeed a set-up, and she leads him 
straight into the arms of the DeLucas, who kill? him and press his remains into twelve 
vinyls, one for each member of the family. 

Whether he discovers powers in the vinyls, i.e, his music, or if it is just his strong desire for 
revenge that empowers his ghost is unclear, but what is certain is that Tony Starks returns 
as an invincible superhero, a la, Ironman, going by the name of Ghostface Killah to take 
his sweet revenge.

The Stand-Outs
Even though U-God delivers a less than stellar verse, the stand out track sees GFK and 
Inspectah Deck ride the beat superbly on Blood On The Cobblestones.

Killah Sin delivers the standout verse on Revenge Is Sweet.

The Resolution
It is a little unusual for a stand out album in a woman disparaging genre like hip hop to 
reserve the last show for the main female character. 

The Verdict
Recommended for all true hip hop heads, particularly fans of nineties hip hop, or 
storytelling hip hop.

Anybody else with a love for rhyme and reason and without a serious aversion to 
crime, blood and gore might find it an interesting listen.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Adulthood Rites (Xenogenesis #2) (Lilith's Brood #2), Octavia E. Butler - The Review

“You and Nikanj,” he said to Akin. “Nikanj tells the Humans we are symbionts, and you believe we are predators. What have you consumed, Eka? .....

...........“They are consumed,” he said quietly. “And it was wrong and unnecessary.”
“They live, Eka. In you.”
“Let them live in themselves!”

The second book in the Xenogenesis series is the negative of the first one. It
sees Akin, the first born male construct (part human, part alien) first born male
to Lilith (and any human for that matter) get abducted by humans who intend
to raise him as one of their own, in the hope that he'll be the saviour of humanity.

The Concept
Aliens are aliens, of course they'll abduct human beings and do weird shit to
their bodies, but what if they're right? What if they set humans up for extinction,
let them loose on earth and say, the only way you're going to have kids is if you
have weird alien sex with three of us and another human, and by the way your
kids are going to be as alien as they are human. And, and what if they're right!?
What should humans do?

Have your readers watch a talking, seemingly human, super intelligent seventeen
month old half alien, half human baby investigate the theory while in human captivity,
and manage to surprise them (the readers, who are  as well the captors) with his
conclusions and recommendations.

The Writing
It is written in the same easy, flowing, make-you-read-too-fast writing style of the
first book. Except it is told from the alien's (even if Akin is as much human as he is
Oankali) point of view.

We briefly get to see things from the points of view of a human and an Oankali
male, suggesting that the book might be more a male's than an alien's take on
things, but we are human and we know what we know.

The Story
We meet Akin while he's still inside his human mother, Lilith's womb, and proceed
to take an exhilarating journey with him, from his birth and introduction to his family
and his own senses, through his kidnapping, sale and attempted integration into human
society by humans who save for locomotion, he - a seventeen month old baby - is
better adjusted for survival than, through his adolescent exploration of what it means
to be Oankali, and to the conclusions he arrives at with regards to the rights and wrongs
of how his world works, what he plans to do about it and how he goes about doing it.

The story is so well constructed, and executed with such efficiency and consistency
that it at times feels formulaic, like the author took characters she knew from life, or
fiction, or myths and fit their stories into a self designed (or template) structure of
how you tell a story, and then proceeded to write it down knowing even before she
started, everything that happens to every character.

The Resolution
The end is like the rest of the book. It is happy and it is sad, it is just as likely to
endorse your view of human society as it is to leave you conflicted. It  is a throw of
the dice whether you end up dismissing the 'human contradiction' as a fictitious,  too
narrow, too simple-minded view of the problems of human society or accepting that
human self-destruction is hard wired into our genes and thus, inevitable.

The Verdict
Even as a stand-alone, it is a great book. As part of the series it may be a few
percentage points beneath Dawn, but after Dawn you must not be able to not read
this and after this you should not be able to not read the next one in the series.


Indicud, Kid Cudi - The Review

Hard times, they mould ya,
Into something way more colder, 
Let the world see how you win, 
No matter how you seem to them, 
Fuck 'em!                               7.8

Cudi's discovery and acceptance of his cold, high self on his journey 
to hell, or to the the sun, or to the moon or wherever he's going.

The Concept
Yo, this is my life. I'm high all the time, been battling depression - even 
had cause to slit my wrist in the past, I left G.O.O.D Music because I 
got impatient of waiting for them to realize I've got mad flow and not just 
good for hooks.

Okay yeah I still get high, but I've got it under control, I still get depressed, 
but I'm too focused on getting mine to let it be a real problem, and I've got
mad flow, mad production skills, mad hooks, just listen.

This is who I am, and I've made my peace with the man in the mirror. Deal!

The Craft
Mr. Cudi sets it off on a spazzed out rock tip, trying to show all of us that 
he's got powers by feeding us crazy beats with weird synths running back 
and forth; a thing I'm in no position to critique except to say I liked it.

The Hip Hop arrives on the back end to document the Real in his story. And
while he is no master lyrical wordsmith the realness of what spits is enough to 
pull the listener in for further, closer inspection. He does show he's got 'mad 
flow' with his efforts on Burn Baby Burn, and Cold Blooded, plus he's got Kendrick 
Lamar, Rza, King Chip and Too $hort to supplement technique, flow, hardness 
and street cred.

Never is anything on this album below par, but it's also hard to find a lot on
this album that is absolutely top notch.

The Story
It starts of with Mr. Cudi high on one thing or another, feeling Unfuckwittable, 
giving in to his urge to smoke on something, fantasizing from afar about his 
dream girl who would never know about his feelings, doing some more drugs
and then getting confirmation of his long held, deeply felt knowledge that he's 
invincible, immortal.

As the high wears off, he replaces it with his music, to hell with everybody else, 
he's going to do it all by himself he vows. And now things seem to be going well,
all these beautiful girls from everywhere are proof of that. Some more alcohol, 
some more drugs. But his demons - depression, loneliness, insanity - always 
return to haunt him and he has to spend long nights battling them. Hmmm. 

He finally decides ridding himself of these demons aren't worth the time and 
effort of the fight, accepts them as part of himself. Our flawed hero, at this 
point feels ready to deal with the harshness of his neighbourhood, goes outside, 
teams up with his real boys to get his just deserts off the streets. Feeling like 
he's survived his demons, he finds himself ready, cold blooded enough,  to lead 
the legions of people who find themselves in a situation similar to his, to victory.

He'll have a party at his house to test this theory, sure enough everybody comes, 
and with their friends too. Mission accomplished. Score at the end of the night 
probably with that girl he was fantasizing about, get on his space ship and fly away 
to the moon.

The Resolution
It takes too much energy to kill his demons, so he's going to concentrate on 
moderating the things his demons feed on, so that he can focus the rest of his 
energies on making his worklife a huge success. 

Sacrificing a lot of his personal life, for a successful professional life.

The Verdict.
A lot of good music, but nothing great.

You'll probably never tire of listening to it, but even if you do you'll never tire 
of having it playing in the background.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Dawn (Xenogenesis#1) (Lilith's Brood #1), Octavia E. Butler - The Review

Home? she thought bitterly. When had she last had a true home? When could she hope to have one. “Let me stay here,” she said. It would refuse. She knew it would. “This is as close to Earth as it seems you’ll let me come.”
Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
A thoughtfully crafted and beautifully told tale of post nuclear war humans,
rescued from a destroyed earth by revoltingly ugly, but benevolent aliens
who insist on improving humans by mainly genotypic, but also phenotypic
alterations before sending them back to recolonize a restored earth.

The Concept
Have two of man's worst fears come to pass,  destruction of the earth by
nuclear war and rescue/abduction of survivors by stronger smarter aliens.
Have the aliens restore the earth and the survivors, organize a big brother
type competition for some of the survivors, to prove they're ready to return home.
Have an incredibly talented writer paint as clear a picture as you can paint
with words, of how these survivors relate with themselves, the aliens, and
their reluctantly alien-fortified, human leader.

The Writing
The writing is rich - crafted to titillate the mind and its eye, it is full - enough to
ensure nothing important is left out, and it is precise -  pruned to make sure not
one unnecessary word encumbers the telling of the tale.

The language and vocabulary is simple enough, but short detours into  the
biology and logic underpinning the book may confuse and/or bore some.

The Story
The story is told from the perspective of Lilith Iyapo, a human female,
carefully selected by the aliens, fortified with some superhuman abilities and
tasked with Awakening other humans out of over two hundred year 'sleeps',
introducing them to the facts of their current circumstance and helping them
prepare to be re-introduced to something like a stone age earth.

It chronicles her thoughts, feelings and actions from when she is first awakened,
until the end of Big Brother Earth. We have opportunity to applaud or censure
her choices, admire or judge her strength and presence of mind, approve or be
repulsed by her adaptability, accept or question her relationship with the aliens
and other humans, but mostly just sympathize with her plight as she tries to navigate
her way out of what may be an impossible position.

The Resolution
The end is beautiful, unexpected, heart-wrenching , and a relief.

The Verdict
In an honest world, this book should need no publicity, just put it on a stand,
mark it with a sticker labelled;


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Insurgent (Divergent #2), Veronica Roth - The Review

“You stupid girl,” she says. “You think this is about you, and your abnormal brain? This is not about you. It is not about me. It is about keeping this city safe from the people who intend to plunge it into hell!”

The second book in the Divergent Series, brings us more
Erudite 'evilness', full body contact with the factionless, an
unraveling of the faction system, a seeming civil war, more
breathless fast paced action and some super sensitive information
about what is 'beyond the fence'.

The Concept
While maintaining a consistent flow of twists and turns, dangle
an impossibly juicy, so-sensitive-it-is-unexpressable-and-must-only-be-seen,
information in front of the reader and ride that bait till the reader
lies squirming in your fish bucket.

The Writing
The whole book is written from Tris' first person singular present
tense (I don't know if what I mean is what I am saying but I am
sure you know the meaning of what I want to say), point of view.

The book is action packed, full of twists, and runs along at so
breathtaking a pace, that it feels like the reader is sitting in the body
of a formula one race car driver while said driver, (maybe Michael
Schumacher of old) tries to beat a field of 15 other race cars to the
finish line of a very complicated formula one race course.

Except for a period between two-thirds and three-quarters of the
race, when it seems Mrs Roth slightly loses her way and forces
crashes just because she can, without any regard for the laws of
physics (i.e,  logic, if the analogy has gotten too tiresome for you to

The Story
The story picks up from exactly where Divergent left off.
In a post-Attack simulation city, half of dauntless have inexplicably
(I mean who wakes up to the realization that he's been brainwashed
into killing his neighbours and still goes ahead to align himself with his
puppet-master?) taken the side of Erudite while the other half, having
left their dauntless home are temporarily residing in Candor.

It follows Tris as she journeys from Amity, through Candor, Dauntless,
Erudite, Abnegation and back to Erudite in an attempt to simultaneously
thwart Jeanine's world domination desires, discover and reveal some
super secret information that could change Everything, as well as do
what she can to prevent a civil war from breaking out.

The Resolution
The end, just like Divergent's seems designed as a set up for the
next book, but unlike Divergent, Insurgent gives the reader an end
with enough key questions answered for the reader to be reasonably
satisfied that the storyteller is justified to take a break where she does.

The Verdict
Insurgent is perfect for a quick, intense, get-lost-in-a-thrilling-book,
read. You should read it, and get somebody else to read it too.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Infernal Devices (Clockwork Angel), Cassandra Clare - The Review.

"Tessa rolled over, burying her face in the pillow. For so many years she had wondered what her first kiss would be like--if he would be handsome, if he would love her, if he would be kind. She had never imagined that the kiss would be so brief and desperate and wild. Or that it would taste of holy water. Holy water and blood."

A super girly take on super natural fantasy.

The Concept
Young girl travels to London,  looking to re-unite with her only
family left in the world, discovers she's got supernatural abilities
and that she's been tricked by the magister (the leader of  a secret
underworld club) who intends to claim her as wife. Say what, say
what, anything can happen from here on in.

The Writing
She manages to retain order in what seems for large parts, an
out of control, scatter-brained effort. I suppose this kind of
work is what some describe as 'painting pictures with words'
or 'colourful drawing of characters and settings' but it just
felt like needless over description that made the book harder
to read than it should have been.

The Story
It is a chronicle of the adventures of a sixteen year old reluctant
shapeshifter, Tessa, who aligns with Shadowhunters (descendants
of angels who keep the order in the supernatural underworld of 
London) to take on the leader of a shady underworld club who
is intent on destroying the natural order of things.

This would hint at a fast paced, action filled escape into fantasyland.
Far from it. The story seems aimless until a burst of activity in the
last quarter of the book, fueled by a big (somewhat inconsistent) twist
attempts to but ultimately fails to bring the story back to the reader's

The Resolution
Nothing is resolved really. Unless you consider the deflection of a tired
straight jab of a boxer, by his opponent as the high point in a boxing match.
Ultimately this book, despite having its own epilogue is just a prologue
to its sequels.

The Verdict
I did not like this book at all and would recommend it to nobody, but
my dislike is not necessarily a true assessment of its quality as it may
just be the classic case of a boy not particularly enjoying a doll as a toy.