Jay and Oh- Episode 09- To Scheme 

Galen didn’t know a single guy who didn’t cheat. She certainly didn’t think much of the act. It was… to be expected.


‘Hello, girl. 

Galen smiled up at her friend.
‘Step in babe’.
Galen removed her hands from the bowl of beads, smartly pushing the bracelet to the opposite end of the mattress, while equally smoothly rising up to embrace her friend in greeting.
Jane hugged her friend more fiercely than usual.
‘Are you alright, Jane? You’re cracking ribs up there like a polar bear! Hey!’
‘I’m, so…. sorry.’ Her friend’s voice sounded shaken.
Both girls settled on the large mattress on the floor. Galen’s apartment was appropriate, once you considered her friends’ opinions of her. There was a TV on the wall opposite the door of the one-room apartment. She didn’t listen to a lot of music. She had a deep disdain for noise, of any sort, and only the need to socialise had brought her this far with her few friends.
The TV was probably there to ‘light up the room’, as Galen would say.
Jane’s expression lit up almost magically as her hands settled on the velvety surface.
‘How come I didn’t notice when I stepped in?’ she said, her eyes shining as she closely observed the fine carpet beneath her hands. She’d taken off her heels before coming inside.
‘Well, I obviously just got it… ‘
‘The texture is just right! My feet feel like… Mmmmmmm

…’ She trailed off, seemingly trying to run the ends of all four of her limbs at the same time across the carpet.
Earlier signs of disconcertion had all disappeared, noted Galen to herself.
‘Are you alright, Jane? You didn’t answer my question.’
Slowly, Jane came up, coming around to sit upright once more.
‘I suppose I’m as well enough as can be…’
‘Come on babe, what’s wrong? I care about you, you know that.’
‘I’m fine, really! Can we talk about something else? I came to use your Wi-Fi hotspot. I have a download to complete….’
Other than charity, Galen threw away much of her considerable monthly allowances on Internet, spending absurd amounts of naira on the most modern system devices and of course, insane amounts of data to go with it. Her friends were always quick to take advantage of this, though she didn’t mind. She didn’t like to hoard stuff.
Slowly, Galen moved towards the pile of gadgets at another corner of the room. After a few moments, she turned facing Jane.
‘Pass is Venezuela’.
‘Thank you,’ Jane chirped.
Galen moved over and watched the screen of Jane’s device for a few minutes.
‘You’re downloading Black Panther’
‘Do you sincerely believe I’ll pay #3000 to go watch it in a cinema?’ She huffed. ‘I’ll visit Wakanda too. By mobile!
‘You won’t get all the sound effects….’ Galen started saying
‘My phone is a smartphone. I’ll get better than sound effects. I’ll get smart-effects! How’s that for a movie?
‘But….’. She was quickly cut off.
‘Ultra-modern, I’d wager! Super-sonic-smartphone! Yes, thank you.
The download was almost finished, 75%.
Both girls changed position, lying face up, each one lost in their own thoughts.
Galen thought back to Jane’s earlier turn of discomfiture. It was remarkable how quickly her mood changed for the positive. She sensed a deep sadness in Jane. The dark-skinned girl’s voice was steady, but her hands shook slightly from holding up her phone. Although lighting in the room was dim, she could bet that red-rimmed eyes lay hidden beneath her dark features.
‘I’m making a gift for a friend,’ she said after a few thoughtful seconds. ‘Should I make you one too?’
‘How would you like a beaded phone pouch?’
Jane turned her head. She was smiling.
‘That would be awesome’.
‘Can I have your phone for a minute?’
‘Sure’. Jane passed her phone to Galen.
It was a sleek Sony Android. Certainly with a lot of RAM and processing power. Galen remembered taking pictures with her girlfriends with this particular phone. She was sure if she visited the Gallery, she’d view some of her favourite pictures, relive some fond memories.
The movie download was about 2GB. Galen grimaced slightly. She knew her friends were aware of the extraordinary Internet subscription.
The slight vibration of the device was the only outward sign of the incoming text. Her eyes shot up ever slightly as she stared at the bright screen.
Galen’s suspicions had been confirmed. She had a hunch that Jane’s condition was intrinsically linked to her own designs on him. He was the point of it all. Without him, the entire scheme would not be necessary. He was the end in itself. All other matters were trivial, at best means to achieve the set goal. He was hers. He would be hers. Even if she hurt friends while at it.
‘I need to go get something outside. Gimme a minute or two?’
Galen stepped outside of her small apartment. She’d purposely chosen to live in more… modest quarters. She got teased by her friends about what she had sitting in her bank account, got teased so many times that it had become downright embarrassing.
She shook her head. Wealth did not necessarily mean comfort, she mused.
Looking down at the Android, she began scanning the messages.
It was finally in place. The one ingredient she’d been waiting all along for. She marveled at the timeliness of it all. She was the top of this particular food chain. While her friends were probably more beautiful and far more social than she was, she was the King Bee. The unknown hand making invisible moves across this chessboard. She chuckled to herself, amused at her own take on the chain of events she was about to trigger.
It certainly must’ve been convenient for him to make his move, Galen thought. She knew him better than anyone.
He most likely would’ve have been able to resist the full lips, Galen thought darkly. He was a man like that. Jane would’ve been caught up in a whirlwind of emotions. Galen didn’t know a single guy who didn’t cheat. She certainly didn’t think much of the act. It was… to be expected.
She would have him nonetheless.
It was time to involve the Knight. She smiled to herself, once again disported at her creative mind.
She picked up her phone to call Nadeen for only the second time that month.
Galen seemed to be taking her time, Jane thought distantly. She fingered through the stunning pile of advanced ware. Galen did have it all, Jane mulled.
She dimly remembered she was promised a present and made a mental note to remind Galen when she came in.
Still, thinking of presents….
She spotted the work lying at the very edge of the thick mattress. Her eyes immediately went wide. She took it carefully in her left palm, her eyes taking in the intricate design.
Three fine beads stood out from the bracelet. Spherical with seeming multi-facets, the letters etched on them spelled OYE.
Jane stared.

Memories of Ice (The Malazan Book of the Fallen #3) by Steven Erikson 

​…a chilling tale of sacrifice, betrayal and redemption. 

…a chilling tale of sacrifice, betrayal and redemption. 
The happenings in Memories of Ice is set parallel in timeline to those of Deadhouse Gates. The story, while as complex as ever, continues to unravel mysteries and secrets, opening up the historical background to the world even more. 
It’s much the same characters from Gardens of the Moon, with a very fine line between protagonists and antagonists. There’s an awful lot happening at the same time, so it’s easy to get carried away and be confused. However, the author helps readers (unlike the preceeding two books in the series) but providing a lot of background info on the races, particularly the T’lan Imass. 
Memories of Ice is now officially the single grimmest, bloodiest book I’ve ever read. The siege of Capustan was as macabre as it was thrilling to read. Such gore, such creative ways to kill and dismember! Such horror! Such terrible fighting odds! I felt truly sorry for the defendants. 
A lot of people hail A Song of Ice and Fire for its grimness, for the willingness of the author to kill of main characters from time to time. I think this series goes one better by not only killing off characters en masse, but also creating such memorable characters en masse as well. All of the characters are unforgettable. Even the minor ones. There’s a way the author presents his characters that makes them so endearing. I mentally shed a few tears after the wholesale slaughter at the end of the book (for someone like me, that’s a lot of emotion for a book). 
The world building as always, is excellent. I took a sneak peek at the next book in the series and saw that there’s a whole new set of characters. That the author is a able to write a single story employing every aspect of the vast world along with hundreds of seemingly unrelated characters, all the while making the entire thing so gripping and intense is a testament to his unique ability. Simply put, there’s not series quite like this one. The scattergun approach is not even supposed to work, but yet it has. And beautifully so. Just brilliant!
The plot is so convoluted, it’s hard to keep up. There are so many mysteries, so many threads all seemingly jumbled up in a thick knotted mass of strange worlds and even stranger characters. I keep thinking there’s something I missed. 
This series is not one to read in a haste. You’ll miss the juicy parts that way. Rather, it should be read bit by bit. I’m enjoying it that way, anyways. 
On to the next one! Bring on the House of Chains. See you soon, black-hearted Kallor. Your Armageddon is near!

Book Review: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A Chakraborty 

…City of Brass is the Arabian answer to Rick Riordan’s world of halfbloods and Greek gods. 

City of Brass is a fascinating read that stirs up just every emotion imaginable…. A truly gripping story. 
It’s official. December is now my best month for reads!

City of Brass is the best book I’ve read this year that isn’t anything from Brandon Sanderson, Steven Eriksen or Robert Jordan, and going by how I worship Wheel of Time, Malazan and Stormlight, that’s saying an awful  lot. The author does a more than brilliant job of combining mythology, history, fantasy and fiction to astounding effect. Hats off, Shannon!
For a book that is not completely fantasy, the world building is extremely well done. City of Brass is the Arabian answer to Rick Riordan’s world of halfbloods and Greek gods. The author presents the Arabian world and all of its alluring mythology in an attractive manner, all the while adding more than a dose of her own formidable epic-weaving skills. It’s the perfect recipe for a bestseller, a read that will come to be loved and treasured by all in months and years to come. 
I like to call this type of genre Mytho-Fantasy. It’s got all the elements of a well known mythology and all the wonder, charm and dark grimness of epics. 
The characters are excellently done, well fleshed out. The plot is even better. There’s a lot of mystery, a great deal of intrigue and more than enough twists to give you multiple heartaches. 
It’s a cliffhanger ending and with the sheer amount of unresolved conflict left, the next book promises to be even better than the first! 

A Christmas Horror Story 

…the ground was a collage of intestines and brain matter set in the crimson canvas that was blood.

The morning sun filtered in through the windows of the master bedroom of number 16, Adeniyi Coker Street, lighting up the entire room, as well as prompting an uncomfortable groan from Ade. It was the 25th of December, 2017. The previous night had been filled with the type of over-the-top drinking and merriment that characterised the worship of the Greek god Dionysus. 
Slowly, Ade sat up, groaning to himself. His head was swimming in a sea of alcohol. While he definitely did have the liver for alcohol, he kept forgetting that there was a limit to these kinds of things. He nearly always overdrank, Ade did. At least he didn’t mess himself up this time. He smiled to himself at the thought. 
Ade was a 30-year old man who had achieved financial success in life rather early. At an age where most of his friends were still finding their feet, Ade owned his own house in a posh part of Lagos. With the rising cost of land, as well as the sheer amount of bills he paid annually as tax to the Lagos State government, it was no surprise most of his friends viewed him as a ‘rich man’. In addition to the house he owned, Ade had a Ferrari, owned a small hotel in Mainland Lagos and three plots of undeveloped land in Ogun State. By modern standards, however, he was only well-to-do, and not necessarily wealthy as most of his friends viewed him. In his opinion, the wealthy ones were the thieving politicians who owned property in absurdly costly places such as Banana Island. 
The fact of Ade’s ‘boxedupness’ was not lost on the host of girls who tailed his movements. Ade didn’t blame them. Everyone wanted a piece of the large cake. Friends, family, even enemies. All came around and Ade, being a generous man gave in bulk, regularly too. 
Ade lived alone and preferred it that way. Occasionally ,he had a girl or two over to keep his bones warm. But he was alone in the house more often than not. 
Ade rose from his bed and soon fell into the practised rhythm of his daily activities. He washed, ate, surfed the Internet and checked his social media updates. 
At about 5pm, he received a call from his friend Segun. An acquaintance of Segun’s was having a Christmas party at Lekki and was inviting everyone he knew. Segun figured Ade might be interested and decided to inform him. Despite the warning bells going off in his head, Ade said yes, he’d be there soon. He memorised the given address and in no time, he was ready to move. 
The venue was at a beautiful house in Lekki. As he drove in, Ade couldn’t help but marvel at the stunning architecture. A two-storied thing, the house was as large as it was beautiful. Inside of the compound were different sculptures of people in different poses. There were finely people everywhere: skimpily dressed ladies, macho men wearing skin-tight shirts, lean, tall-dark-handsome men, Caucasians in business suits, as well as a host of other foreign looking people. It was quite the cast, Ade thought to himself. 
The party turned out to be even better than Ade thought. The music was good, the drinks even better. Ade lost count of the number of beautiful women he spoke with. Eventually, he was able to hold on to one long enough to convince her that making out wouldn’t be such a bad idea. 
Moving with the grace of a zombie, the both of them, stuffed with as much wine as they could hold in, staggered out of the main parlour where the party was holding, in search of privacy for their own ‘after-party’.
Ade and the lady, whose name he had forgotten had a very fun ‘after-party’ away from prying eyes in the safety of one of the many toilets in the house. The lady happened to be extremely proficient with the use of her mouth, and Ade found himself struggling to keep standing after the first few minutes. Moving quickly on to the next phase, the two of them were thoroughly spent after about 20 minutes of rapid thrust-pull action. 
Lost in their carnal activity, they failed to realize that the party going on downstairs was much less noisy than it had been 30 minutes prior. When they were done, they did their best to dress as well as they had before the ‘after-party’ began. It was only then that Ade realised the entire building had gone deathly quiet. Moving slowly out of the toilet, Ade and the lady made for the main parlour on the ground floor. There were sounds coming from downstairs. Sounds of pleading, Ade realised. Somewhere in the foggy depths of his alcohol swamped brain, he realised that the splotches of red on the floor downstairs looked suspiciously like blood. Swiftly, he pulled the lady back and clamped his hand on her mouth to keep her from shouting. Gesticulating wildly with his free hand, he pointed out the splotches and signaled for her to listen quietly to the sounds coming from downstairs. The both of them were at the top of a stairwell with a good view of the carnage that was being done downstairs. 
The guests were mostly dead, lying in pools of blood. One man lay disemboweled, desperately trying to keep in the mass of intestines and other digestive organs spilling out of his midriff. Another lady had her limbs splayed out, her sightless eyes staring upwards in a horrifyingly blank expression. Her throat had been slit. The white man lying dead next to her had obviously been strangled. His eyes bulged, and his arms lay limp beside him. 
Ade counted five men moving around with long sharp knives in hand efficiency bringing death to the remaining pleading guests. 
‘Please….’ whined a light-skinned lady. Her voice came out as a pitiful whimper, a deperate plea to her would-be killers. Her pleading was cut short by a quick slice across the jugular by one of the knife wielding assassins. The lady’s hands clawing at her neck proved incapable of stemming the endless spray of dark red blood that suddenly blossomed from her once pretty throat. She went down. 

Another guest was stabbed. Brutally. In multiple places. In no time at all, his immaculate white blazer had become crimson. One man tried to run, making for the entrance. He made it a few metres before he was roughly tackled and brought to ground by one of the assassins. His physical struggling with the assassin earned him a quick slice across the wrist. Blood sprayed everywhere. The next sweep of the long knife took out an eye. Pain lending him strength, the victim managed to throw off his assailant. His uninjured arm instinctively went for his now empty eye socket. He opened his mouth to wail in horror but was brutally cut short as the same knife pierced his throat, going through the back of his head and pinning him to the ground. 
One by one, the assassins dealt death to the few guests remaining alive. Ade spotted his friend Segun lying on the ground. Blood and something whitish that looked suspiciously like brain matter pooled around his head. In some places the blood was already congealing. The entire place stank of death, of blood. Of piss and shit. 
Lost in a haze, different thoughts came to Ade as he watched the gruesome slaughter. Humans were not so different from animals after all. The breath of life was what set humans apart. Along with the fancy dresses and the facade of superiority. Take all of that away and all that’s left is mere flesh, blood, piss and shit. 
All of these thoughts and more flashed through his mind as he watched soft flesh give way to sharp knives, as pools of blood answered the call of the small but mighty weapons of destruction. Some of the guests had pissed and shat themselves right before death had taken them. The ground was a collage of intestines and brain matter set in the crimson canvas that was blood. 
Lost in thought, as well as paralysed by the horrifying scene playing out in front of his eyes, Ade failed to notice that one of the assassins had spotted them and was now making swiftly up the stairwell. The lady behind him screamed and started to run back the way they had come. The world seemed to slow down as the assassin reached into the folds of his jacked and produced a fine, black gun. Smoothly, the assassin drew the gun, took aim and fired. Ade watched for the fall of the lady. It didn’t come. Confusion crept upon his features. Surely, the shot was meant for the lady. He was wrong. A sharp pain drew his attention to the blood slowly spreading across his finely laundered shirt. 
He’d been shot. Ade’s last thought as he fell into endless blackness was that it was the 25th of December. Christmas Day.

Book Review: Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown 

…a wonderful story that packs plenty of surprises between pages. 

It’s a great story. A few pages in, and I was reminded of Hunger Games and Divergent. Instead of Districts and Factions, there’s Colours, almost like Lightbringer. It’s a dystopian/post-apocalptic world just like the aforementioned two books. But that’s where the similarities end. It’s a better storyline than Hunger Games. It’s got better characters than Divergent. The setting is even better, being sci-fi in nature. The badass fighting is reminiscent of war video games. 

The writing is sweet. It’s suspense all through. Action packed. It’s a wonderful story that packs plenty of surprises between pages. 

The only problem I have with the book is the cover. Books that aren’t half as good have far better covers! I suppose it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t read this book for so long. Authors need to start realising the importance of a great book cover. For readers like me, it goes a long way in determining whether we’ll read the book or not. 

Highly recommended.

Book Review: Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu

Think Hunger Games and Divergent mixed in one and you begin to get the larger picture of the book that is Warcross. 
In a tech empire that spans not just the entire world but the very lives of individuals as well, a young girl is caught up in a storm of life changing events that will require anwsers to questions she could never have imagined… 
The tech system is quite good. For a person who does not read a lot of sci-fi, it’s easy to understand and follow through. The idea of a virtual game that goes beyond mere gaming pleasure, extending into the very lives and thoughts of people is quite astounding. 
Writing is one area where the author has really excelled: it’s an easy read, one you can flow along with, easily taking in all or most of the detail. 
The story is quite intriguing, with a lot of extensive world building by way of the tech system/virtual gaming universe. I’d like to see more action though. The game reminds me of Quidditch, with the Architects, Thieves and all. 
The main story revolves around themes of romance, family, will, trust, and loyalty, all linked together in a web of stunning world building. 
Despite not exactly ending on as spectacular a cliffhanger as one would have hoped, the mystery that shrouds much of the finale ensures that the next book will be eagerly anticipated. 

Book Review: Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans #2)

Where Loyalties Lie is swashbuckling fantasy in the style of Sebastien De Castell featuring scum-hero pirates, uncouth women and men and plenty of whores, rum and bad ale. 
The writing style is the most striking thing about the book. It is written in a smooth, flowing, even carefree manner that allows for a lot of irregularities and freestyling. While it a fun style of writing, the best part is the concision. There are no dull moments of lengthy descriptions of places and dressing; those are replaced with witty, sarcastic, humorous and altogether more exciting bits. 
The story is one of mixed loyalties. When a lone, influential pirate embark on the nigh impossible mission of uniting all of the other bloodthirsty pirates in the Seven Isles against a bigger threat, the matter becomes less a question of survival and more a question of loyalty. When you put up naturally disloyal humans up against a threat they cannot ignore, the result will be to unite against all odds or die. But whether this unity is true unity remains yet to be seen, as mistrust, bad blood and former sins rise up from the ashes of the past to threaten the burgeoning alliance…
The plot is not complex. Instead, the volatile nature of the characters makes it very hard to predict. It makes for a suspense filled read. 
A fine new read from a brave author.