Against All Odds – Craig Challen and Richard Harris

Welcome back everyone, this is my last review for the year! OMG! And I’m leaving you with a review that (I hope) will having you running for the bookstore!

Like most people in the world I was following the rescue of 13 Thais from a flooded gave in June/July of 2018. Unfortunately, I’m not very good at following the news and got side-tracked by a whole lot of stuff happening in the Banking Royal Commission in Australia at the time. Other than knowing they got them out I didn’t know what ended up happening.

When I heard Dr Harry (Aussie’s, not to be confused with Dr Harry from Harry’s Practice) talking about his book on The Project it sounded fascinating. Hearing him talk about a couple of his experiences had me going “I have to read that!” The next day when I realised that’d be a great book to use as my final review for the year, the slot I had reserved for a male Aussie author, I just went ahead and bought it.

I’m gonna say it. Best decision ever!

From the moment I started reading the book I could feel both Harry’s and Craig’s personalities in every word I was reading. I could imagine the looks and the tones of voices being used. All of these came together to make me feel like I was right there in the cave with them.

A few times (ok, maybe more than a few times) I forgot that they all made it out alive, so when Harry was describing the issues they were facing (especially when diving them out) I honestly started worrying that they wouldn’t make it. Then I had that realisation that I’d had a blonde moment since this happened in real life and they actually did all make it out alive.

I take that as a testament to the writing and editing skills of all involved that in moments, I was so completely lost in what was happening I forgot the final outcome.

I also found myself pissing myself laughing at some of their antics and Harry’s thoughts. His sense of humour totally aligns with mine and I loved it. Then I’d have this moment where I go “I’m laughing while reading a book about an event that could have ended tragically, have some respect for what they all went through.” Then I’d remember what I’d just read and laugh again.

Some other points that I think really made this book was the way Harry and Craig gave us the truth compared to the media stories. How Elon Musk was brought up and scoffed at. And the inclusions of little facts about every boy, and Ekk, as they were getting them out made them real to me as I was reading about them getting out.

I’m not a crier, yet I found myself tearing up in happiness, sadness and in empathy of what they all went through so much. Whenever this happened, I had to take a moment and remind myself that it was a happy ending and it was ok.

Before finishing this book, I’d recommended it to two people and had been telling my partner what was happening as I went. One of the people I told bought it straight away and the other one said they’d buy it coz them and their husband would probably love it.

SO GO AND BUY IT, AND READ IT NOW!!!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be doing my December Wrap Up, but I might do a Christmas post as well… Undecided at the moment. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, whatever greeting is appropriate for you I’m sending that your way!

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Miao-Shan: The Awakening – Gary Morris

Welcome back everyone, this weeks book is another author request. This time from an author who only has one other published book, so you might not have heard of him.

But if you haven’t, you should give him a go because this is a book unlike any I’ve ever read before. It’s based in Hong Kong and includes a fair bit about the Chinese culture and history which is fairly new to me.

Story overview

The story begins at the end of the 19th Century in Hong Kong with a small and happy family. Only to have the parents murdered in the first chapter and a rampant display of racism between the local Chinese people and the “Gweilo”, or English, people.

Typically both races believe the other to be savages purely because they do things differently. Of course, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the main theme of the book. However, it’s not the key theme so I’m going to leave that there.

Lei’s need for revenge against the Triads as the long survivor of her family is what we learn to be, the key theme of the story. As such, she learn’s Kung Fu to become calmer and to learn empathy.

However, her thirst to hurt “bad people” means she never quite reaches that goal. Instead, she ends up accepting her fate and became an almost merciless killer in her quest for vengeance.


My thoughts

Throughout the story Lei chooses to fight back against those that want to oppress others. And this, I believe, is something many people don’t have the courage, and or, the skills to do. So good on her for standing up for what she believes in!

However, the examples we see of Lei’s excessive force does scare me a little. But only because that lack of compassion or regard for human life is what typically forms the basis for a sociopath’s personality.

And typically speaking sociopaths can’t change who they are or how they react to things. They can learn to mimic emotions, but they can’t feel them the same way most people can. So how can Lei truly learn and display compassion if she’s unable to truly feel it?

Surprisingly enough, she does find the ability to be compassionate. And the time she finds this ability is what truly surprises me. It’s at this moment that we really get to explore the difference between revenge, and justice. Can she live with the knowledge that she caused destruction and the loss of hundreds of lives.

That’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone someone who’s only about 18-20 years old. I can’t imagine the guilt gnawing at her conscious and how difficult it would be to get to sleep each night knowing that she cut those lives short.

So knowing that she had to live with that for eternity I can sympathise with her need to leave China and be somewhere else. Somewhere different where she can come to terms with everything she’s done.

Gary has told me since reading Miao-Shan that there is a second book for me to look forward to. And I will, because I want to know what she does next!


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. On Friday I will be reviewing Second Chance at the Ranch by Maxine Morrey.

Yes you read that right! This Friday! I look forward to seeing you again then. But don’t forget to read a little bit about this week’s author Gary Morris below.

Author info

Gary Morris

For most of my working life, I was in the collectables field. First dealing in stamps and then in antiques. I have always had a love for Asian art and history. Particularly Chinese and Japanese. I have also directed and produced a computer game.

I started writing fiction professionally in 2010, during which time I wrote two complete novels, of which Miao-Shan is the second one. At the end of 2010, I returned to the property industry, without having acquired an agent. For the next six years, I wrote part-time.

I currently have two other books completed (one an unusual spy thriller, and the other a time-travelling paranormal fantasy), but neither is ready for publication yet.

          

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