Monday, 10 October 2016

Book Review: Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist by Katerina Sestakova Novotna

Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist: Power of Kratom and Opiates by [Sestakova Novotna, Katerina]


Eric is a selfish man who likes to come back to his exes for sex and money, but he does not pursue them as hard as he pursues new girls. Miriam, a student of psychology, becomes an exception to his rules. Three years after their break-up, the woman he thought he knew all too well to be impressed with suddenly claims to be able to guide people into a magical 4D porn experience.

Eric is trying to earn his place in Miriam’s privileged circle, but the girl who purports to be a therapist like no other is remarkably unstable herself. Eric suspects that she may have a different agenda than to entertain him, but the promise of a new form of sexual bliss seems worth the risk. 

Does she want him back? Does she want to cure him? Does she want her revenge? It’s not clear what Miriam truly wants, but her wishes do not matter to Eric as long as he gets what he wants. But his own goals change, too, as the time goes on.

Miriam volunteers to be Eric’s guide in his psychedelic experience, but she also unintentionally becomes his teacher. He wants to learn to guide and fix others before he is fixed.


With wave after wave of social media sites, endless places to post photos and info about ourselves, I wonder if we aren’t all narcissists in some way. In Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s follow up to her 2014 debut novel, perhaps we are challenged to consider the possibility.

It is difficult to categorise Eric, our main narrator in Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist, because he is not a hero in the traditional sense. He is not necessarily a victim either. But he is the narcissist of the title, whether he knows it or not.

Meeting women is not a problem for Eric, as three of them- Miriam, Magda and Monica feature heavily through this story and throughout. It’s fair to say that Eric does not treat them well, as psychology student Miriam points out the tale of Narcissus to a bemused and disinterested Eric.

He dismisses her position as psychobabble, but the author takes an honest approach through a first person narrative. Eric does at least admit the possibility that he is a narcissist.

It’s easy for him to dismiss blonde-haired, blue eyed Miriam. To him, she just seems like a piece of ass to use, abuse and discard. She’s rather too good at analysing him though, which he appears to dislike intensely. Meeting half Japanese-half Tahitian Magda means he moves on, but is never quite out of Miriam’s shadow.

He hurt her, so she intends to hurt him by refusing to get back with him. Miriam only considers Eric now in her position as a therapist. He is being led on a dance, but doesn’t appear to mind it so long as he can get what he wants from it.

His interest is piqued above petty and unsatisfying masturbation when Miriam introduces him to the idea of psychedelic substances. He is initially appalled, but the idea of being able to have sex with many women at the same time or that he could orgasm from different parts of his body fascinated him. Even when Miriam would talk about Eric’s gay friend Peter in ways that horrified him, his narcissistic personality kept going back for more.

Some men can cope with just one woman in their lives. Others need many to validate their own machismo. Eric appears to be the latter. As he says in one scene, he does not want to put himself in the hands of one woman; whilst at the same time acknowledging Miriam has rejected him and will only now see him as one of her guinea pigs.

As interesting as the Miriam—Eric dynamic is, it is the Eric – Magda coupling that takes the book into literally another universe. With the introduction of herbal wonder tea Kratom into the mix, a substance that is basically just crushed leaves or powder, Eric begins to depend on it, just like he depends on being sexually available for Miriam and controlling aspects of Magda. But I think the author raises another important point here - just what is it that we are addicted to, and why are some things banned, while others are not? Too much coffee can affect people in pretty much the same way.

"This book challenges us on many levels."

No. We are allowed to poison our bodies with cigarettes and alcohol because the government makes huge money out of it through taxes. The double standards are astonishing. However, kratom is not addictive unless the user cannot handle the high as well as the low. Indeed it has less negative effects than alcohol, the abuse of which is well known.

This book challenges us on many levels. What is acceptable in a relationship, what happens when fantasy crosses into reality, what happens when a harmless substance becomes either addictive or a tool with which to control others?

And this barely scratches the surface of this superlative work.

Enthralling as it is disturbing, one has to read this book. It is for adults only – but for some development of body did not go hand in hand with development of mind (some people just never really joined the two together, did they?) maybe some of them should read this too.

Book Review: Defective (The Institute, #3) by Kayla Howarth



Eighteen months has passed since the Institute was liberated. For Allira Daniels, she’s still trying to live with the consequences of her actions. The Defective are free, but are their lives truly any better? Attacks on Defectives are on the rise, and Allira has to wonder if she’s directly responsible.

Keeping busy to escape her guilt, Allira is trying to move on, but how can she when her past is always haunting her?


Defective hit the ground running where Resistance ended. The author's evolution as a writer since book one in this series is rather remarkable. With Allira ended up in a new world far away but also intricately related to the first two books. Allira is more grown up and I like this rounded development of her far better than the first two books. Maybe it does take a while to get things going, but boy does author Kayla Howarth throw in twist after twist, not to deliberately annoy the reader, but to enthrall right up until the end.

It was hard to predict the ending but suffice to say, this closing chapter on Allira's story appears to have wrapped things up beautifully.

"In recent times I have become a bit bored of kick-ass heroines. But Defective and The Institute series as a whole is so multi-faceted, we don't mind."

Drew and Jace remain cool, but I as a male reader was drawn to Nuka. The girl rocks and the story is all the better for her inclusion.

In recent times I have become a bit bored of kick-ass heroines. But Defective and The Institute series as a whole is so multi-faceted, we don't mind.

In summary, a terrific YA to MG level story. I'm a fan of the author's writing. And it is more like Hunger Games and Dawn of Rebellion than Divergent and I am thanking the stars for that.

Book Review: Zeeka's Ghost (Zeeka #4) by Brenda Mohammed



Swift. Silent, Ghostly
Zeeka’s ghost appears to Steven and he feels the ghost has evil intentions.
Coupled with that, Steven discovers that he and Mandy are the targets of unknown enemies and their lives are at stake.
Stephen must find a way to hunt down and apprehend these ruthless maniacs and save his beloved wife.
Is Zeeka’s ghost here to harm or help?
Zeeka’s Ghost is the fourth story in the series Revenge of Zeeka.


Zeeka's back. As if you could keep a good zombie down But he's more than the mad scientist/zombie fascinated persona of the earlier books, and in this fourth installment, the ghost of a demon haunts our eponymous hero Steven into near madness.

The thought that he hadn't quite seen off Zeeka haunts him, until the ghost of the title becomes more than just pangs of regret in his mind. The story centres more around Steven so returns to the original concept bore out in book one. This rounding of the story arc is interesting and a good way to handle it.

The other characters are there too, but they play a secondary role in Zeeka's Ghost.

"This rounding of the story arc is interesting and a good way to handle it."

Probably the best of the Zeeka stories to date, author Brenda Mohammed is to be congratulated on another take of zombies and now ghosts!

I think anyone could read this as the horror elements are PG-13 / Cert 12 rated. But more mature readers will pick up on regrets we have as we age and experience life.

A final word must go to the cover - it's excellent and captures the essence of the book brilliantly.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Book Review: Gates of Heaven by Pamita Rao


An empire ruled by evil and fear; a king obsessed with greed for greater power and desire to conquer other realms.
Alaira has just stood up against the tyranny and committed the most serious crime in the kingdom. If captured, she will face brutal punishment. With the King’s men on her back and his dark magic against her fate, she is on the run in a race against time.
With no place left to hide, her only hope is to escape through the Gates of Heaven, a mythical portal to other realms. But there is a problem. To reach the Gates of Heaven one must cross the enchanted forest and no one has ever survived it before.
Will Alaira find the Gates of Heaven? Will she be able to escape Creed or will she meet the dreaded fate of every criminal in Myrth?


It is so difficult for any writer of fantasy to come up with something new. I have read and am in the process of writing two reviews of debut novels by fantasy authors, and I needed the break inbetween to read other genres so as to review and critique them fairly.

New author Pamita Rao brings a freshness to a jaded genre with a detailed, interesting world of Myrth, which has its own qualms and quirks. In an early scene, a man is forced to drink the liquor he has brought for the king, and in doing proves - or otherwise - that it is not poisoned. It's done well as a scene, and there are numerous scenes like this throughout the book. It is extremely well written, with great characters in this detailed, magical world.

"It's such a pleasure to read a new author voice." 

I must give a special mention to the cover art, which is outstanding and really pulls you in.

Gates of Heaven is ultimately about young buck heroine Alaira coming of age. The evil Creed threatens the security and safety of the world, and it seems our young girl has her work cut out to defeat him. On her introduction, I wasn't sure if she was up for the task (the ultimate task, as it happens at the Gates of Heaven in the book's closing chapter).

The story works because you really are swept along at great speed. The story starts brightly and keeps up the pace throughout. It's such a pleasure to read a new author voice. And I look forward to reading more from this new and exciting author.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Book Review: Your Time is Now by Brenda Mohammed



In this Memoir, Your Time is Now - A Time to be born and a Time to Die, the author uses quotations and references that connect to events in her life and the lives of others.
It is written, based on powerful words spoken by King Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes about times and seasons. "There is a time to be born and a time to die, and a time for every purpose under the Heaven."
The book is intended to help people understand their own lives and to realize that we are all here on earth for a purpose.
Poems and a section on A Brother's Wisdom are included.


Whilst Your Time is Now is a memoir with biblical undertones, I would like to split this review in two parts.

The story is about seizing the day, much like how Robin William's teacher wanted his class to do in Dead Poet's Society. I think we are all guilty to some extent about not seizing the day, seizing the moment. Then we reflect on such things and wonder why we weren't just a little bit braver. What would have been the worst thing that could have happened as a result of our actions? Whilst one book cannot hope to provide a satisfactory answer to such a question, it satisfies many of the author's search for meaning in her life. I am splitting my review not out of disrespect to the author's beliefs, it's just that my views are a little different and so I should be clear about that from the outset.

This is not the first memoir I have read by the author but it's probably the most interesting one - even though the others were extremely readable books in their own right. However, whilst there is some overlap, it still feels like a new read.

I especially enjoyed the part where Canadian missionaries approached the author's parents, seeking to adopt her. Canada is cold, more cold than the author's native Trinidad and Tobago, and it's clear she was happy not to be taken away. Her family is a large one and it is uplifting to read how much she loves her family.

Later elements talk about reaping what we sow. This is very true. As I have aged I think I have mellowed a lot - it's more likely I will say something nice and supportive rather than be snidey or cruel. There may be times to do that, but overall the message is 'look, life is short - be nice to each other'.

I don't know what would have been made of me if I had been there to experience the sermon on the mount. We all have complexities to ourselves, but without them, we would not be who we are. One hopes that if I do face that final judgement, I won't be considered a bad person, even though I am not fully into the beliefs referenced in this book. 

"The story is about seizing the day."

It's refreshing that one of the author's Directors commented on her being 'a Real Christian'. In England we are supposed to live in a Christian country, yet the display of crosses around our necks is considered controversial and possibly offensive. This is nonsensical to me. So long as no-one wishes to hurt me, I have no issue with them.

Perhaps my favourite line in the entire book is 'A highly evolved person is free from worry and depression and radiates calmness'. So true - and if only we could all live like that, impressing positive thoughts on those we interact with and yes, profess to love (even via blood or relationship status) the world would be a better place.

So forget the nonsense of a busy, noisy world. Most of the stuff we worry about is a waste of our time. We are better than that and should act accordingly.

Read this book and feel uplifted.

Book Review: Seven Days to Me (A One Week Romance, #1) by Tracey Pedersen



Two People. Two Stories. So Many Secrets...

Golding Mining is going from strength to strength under the dedicated management of Stephanie Golding. Too bad she dreams of returning to a life that has long since slipped through her fingers.

Brad Peters is living a life he's not quite sure he wants. He's doing it to make his dad proud. When he's roped in to seduce Stephanie he can suddenly see exactly what he wants...and it's right in front of him...

Can two people struggling to be true to themselves find a common ground just by spending a week together? Just how many secrets are too many for a relationship to survive?


I wish more contemporary romances were like this, then I might enjoy the genre a lot more than I do. I realise I am not the main target audience for this kind of story, so I will just give my honest opinion.

When Stephanie and Brad are pitched together, a man and a woman in a work environment suddenly find that sparks fly. Literally. It's not all plain sailing of course, and I loved the elements of drama and mystery that the author worked into the story. It is elevated by its well paced story, excellent narrative, and punchy dialogue. 

"This is a superior novel in a crowded genre."

Perhaps I wanted more from the dialogue. It was functional and worked well between the characters. I accept it was a seven day whirlwind, and so, in this context, deeper narrative is okay to omit as the feelings between the two speak volumes, which is how it should be between lovers.

'The planet had tilted on its axis.' Isn't this a beautiful and rather apt way to describe how we feel in matters of love - especially when this person can drive you crazy in more ways than one?

Add secondary characters such as Myrtle and Meredith who add so much to the story, you have the perfect pot boiler of a romance. Meredith may be an ice queen, but the author clearly had a lot of fun in her creation, and there is one such woman in every work environment. that makes the book engaging to read but also a realistic romance. I liked this a lot.

This is a superior novel in a crowded genre. Seek it out today.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Book Review: The Dramatic Dead by Bryan Nowak



The heart of the city is being gutted by a ritualistic serial killer and the police have hit a wall. Dirk, a private detective, is thrust into the maniac’s world by a mother’s desperate plea. A tragic mistake leads the killer toward his next victim: a girl with ties to the investigation. Now Dirk and his quirky team of problem solvers must race against the clock to find the killer before the next victim is claimed. 

A private investigator, his friend, a cop, and a specter named Victor are all that stand in the way of a madman and his next victim. 


The Dramatic Dead is as entertaining as author Bryan Nowak's debut novel (No Name) however I was initially disappointed that the book wasn't as scary as I hoped. At least, this was my initial view as I read the early chapters. The character of Victor and how he is drawn was the most controversial aspect for me. I wasn't sure I liked the take on it, but like most things you have to read the whole story in order to place the individual elements in an appropriate and fair context. If I didn't do that, I would not be being fair as a reviewer, and it is reviews that people will be reading, so I have to respect that.

"The Dramatic Dead works on a number of levels."

The whole private investigator trope isn't new of course, but the author writes central character Dirk with a swagger and verve that keeps you reading. Indeed, from the male perspective I understood his feelings for a certain character (I won't include her name because of spoilers) but guys, we have all done this...practised saying 'I love you....' and find it easy to say when she wasn't there, but we'd freeze when she was! as the author quotes "She's the most spectacular creature on the planet, and I'd die for her."

Yes we would. We know we would.

Another thing is that the humour of the story shouldn't really work, but it does. Lines such as 'the living are so annoying!' Well who can argue with that?

Overall The Dramatic Dead works on a number of levels - as a thriller, as a detective piece, a horror comedy fused with occasional dark horror that somehow, through the quality of the writing, manages to work. Another element takes us on the road to the afterlife. Now because we know practically nothing about that, we have to take the author's position on it. This is just his view, however, and again, it works because the story is so well constructed. It's a long read, but it never really feels like that. Bryan Nowak is a new author and one that I believe will make his mark very quickly. Snap both books up now!