Never, Never and Never Again by K.M. Breakey

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Be prepared guys: this book was a very intense and emotionally charged book that made me get philosophical and political in my review. You’ve been warned…

A chilling story that blends fiction with history brings the horrors of South Africa to a brutal light in author K.M. Breakey’s novel Never, Never and Never Again. Here’s the synopsis:

Audrey is a starry-eyed Brit, Pieter a tenth-generation Afrikaner. At the height of Apartheid, they fall in love. A life of splendour awaits, but the country is shifting underfoot. The winds of change fan revolution, and Michael Manzulu’s rage boils. He is hungry, and will risk everything to destroy his oppressor. 

When white rule gives way, trepidation is tempered by precarious optimism. Mandela will make the miracle happen. Or not. Twenty-three years on, South Africa has suffered unprecedented decline. The country unravels and fear is pervasive. Fear of persecution, land seizure, slaughter. Pieter and Audrey march on. They navigate the perpetual threat. They pray the wrath will not strike their home. 

Recently, voices of protest cry out, none louder than the bombastic scholar, Kaspar Coetzer. World leaders cautiously take note, but will they take action? More importantly, can they? 

“Never, Never and Never Again” is a story of vengeance, greed and corruption. A story the world ignores, but a story that must be told…before it’s too late. 

I must admit to you guys this was a tough one to read. I don’t talk about it all the time, but I am very much a liberal. My moral viewpoints tend to line up with liberal democrats in the United States. I am not religious, I support the LGBTQ community, am a proud feminist and hope to see a world where everyone is equal in both mind and law. Yet reading this novel showed me that evil and violence can come in many forms, and the issues we face are so much more than black and white (no pun intended).

The story itself was very interesting. It explored a family’s struggles in South Africa over a few decades. It shows the racially charged environment and the hatred that brews between both the black and white communities of this nation.

One of the hardest things for me to write about are race relations. I myself am half Hispanic and half white. I do not and will not ever understand the hatred and discrimination faced by the black community not just in my own country but around the world. I fully support equality for all, and support causes like Black Lives Matter, which despite what some people claim is about telling the world that all lives matter including black lives, not just white ones. It’s about equality for all, not discrimination against one or the other.

This book delved into something that really spoke to me. While the book showed both the hatred and violence that brewed within the black community of South Africa for years thanks to the horrors of Apartheid, it also showcases the corruption and power hungry politicians who utilize each side’s fears and mistrusts with the other to further their own needs. Now I had very little knowledge personally going into this story about South Africa and it’s history both in the past and presently. After reading this book I did my research and was saddened to see that while the author did an excellent job of using fictitious characters and events to further the story, some of that fiction was based in reality.

Innocent men and women and children are being killed every day in South Africa. Many of them are white farmers who make up over 70% of the farming community in the country, and are subject to blackmail and assault from criminals. However I also read accounts from unnamed white farmers who say the black community is also subject to these violent crimes, not just white people. It shows that the issue isn’t about white vs black, but rather good vs evil. I saw this a lot through the side character of Mosegi, an employee of the Van Zyl family that spent his entire life with the family. He was the subject of violence from criminals who called themselves revolutionaries, being beaten nearly to death for being loyal to the family. However he was more than an employee but a part of the family. Despite the family’s flawed mentality at times, he still loved them and dedicated his life to them. He was a black man who found a path to be part of both communities and tried to find a way to have peace between the white family he worked for and the black community he was a part of.

The story was well written, and told in great detail. The author did a wonderful job of blending our current political climate with the horrors of the past, and focused on bringing to light the suffering of a nation that hardly get’s recognized by the international community. However I will say it was difficult for me to identify with the formerly powerful white characters who were now victims of a corrupt government and criminals. The horrors they endured were awful and I too condemn the real victims of these horrors. However the misguided notion that this is a result of the black community of South Africa as a whole taking over and the white community losing control of the country was not something I could support. Instead I saw between the lines of what the author wrote and saw instead a common thread between both sides: neither the white or black communities could learn from the past.

Instead of looking to a future where everyone was equal and they could tackle the issues of a low economy, poor housing and out of control corruption and criminals, instead the white community focused on all of the black community being unable to run the country while the black community members portrayed couldn’t move on from the past and instead harbored the same level of hatred and violence their ancestors endured from white people. Moving forward as a people is not about living in the past and having everyone in present day pay for the sins of their fathers (in a manner of speaking). Instead it’s about acknowledging the mistakes of our fathers and ourselves and finding a common ground to move forward. So long as everyone continues to hate one another and keep this “us vs them” mentality, violence and corruption will never end. I fully oppose the mentality and actions of people like current President Donald Trump and his administration, but I also condemn the violent actions of the criminals in South Africa. The answer is not to return to the days of Apartheid or to violently seize and assault farm owners land, but to find a way to stabilize and improve the nation and bring the harmony Nelson Mandela promised and hoped for all those years ago.

Overall this book was incredibly well written, powerful and gave a unique perspective from both sides of a long conflict on the African continent. I think that this is the kind of book that could help bring some perspective to the highly unrecognized conflicts that still plague both the black and white communities of the country, and show us all that there are still a lot of steps that need to be taken before we can live in peaceful coexistence. Thank you to author K.M Breakey for providing me such a thought provoking and realistic read. If you haven’t yet be sure to check out Never, Never and Never Again by K.M Breakey today!

Rating: 8/10

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078TLJW2R

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37836016-never-never-and-never-again

 

About K.M. Breakey

bio-picture-about-page

I was born in Toronto & educated at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. I received a degree in Mathematics & Computing Science in 1992, and commenced a 25-year career in Information Technology. In 2016, I turned full attention to writing with the success of my 3rd novel. Johnny and Jamaalfearlessly explores racial dysfunction in America, from perspectives you won’t hear in mainstream media.

My latest, Never, Never and Never Again, tackles South Africa’s complicated history, from Apartheid, through Transformation, and into the chaos currently laying waste to this once-prosperous nation. In an age of mass media distortion and rapid erosion of free speech, I see fiction as a powerful vehicle to disseminate truth and expose lies.

NNANA is my fourth novel and I’ve caught the bug. Currently dreaming up scenarios for my fifth, and always working hard to find new readers 🙂 When not writing, I enjoy business pursuits, political debate, hockey, tennis and skiing.

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Interview with Author Daniel Blake Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I was trained as an historian—was a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky for many years—so early on I was into the storytelling business.  Most of my earlier books, in fact, are works of history:  I’ve published books with major commercial presses (Henry Holt/MacMillan and St. Martin’s Press) on the founding of Virginia (THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN); The Trail of Tears (AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL:  CHEROKEE PATRIOTS AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS); and a family saga (OUR FAMILY DREAMS).

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was inspired to write MR. WONDERFUL out of autobiographical motivations.  I began the work as a memoir but soon found that I wanted (and the book needed) to have the freedom of fiction, so I quickly moved beyond my own story (yes, I am a college professor, like the protagonist, Brian Fenton; and yes, I have a son—but not ‘wayward and loopy’, like Danny in the story; and, yes, my father recently passed, a small town Texas doctor just as in the novel) to create something larger, deeper, and more meaningful that takes readers well beyond the confines of my particular experience.  But watching my father go through dementia as he came near the end did serve as the initial spark to write something in honor of him.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I guess I hope that readers come away feeling that they’ve met some real, relatable, flawed, but fascinating characters who struggle with issues—success, manhood, relationships, death, loss, and legacy—that we all must confront.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I love first-person narration in novels, especially with the story set in the ‘eternal present tense’ and so this story—narrated (not always reliably) by the father and son, Brian and Danny Fenton—offered the opportunity to show how much point of view matters in understanding how life and our emotional reactions to it unfold and acquire meaning.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would love to sit down with at least three characters and ask the following questions:  1) Danny, the wayward son:  ‘what gives you meaning and purpose when you get up every day?  Are you thinking of some goal, some future accomplishment or just living moment to moment?  2) Claire Fenton:  how in the world do you maintain such commitment, devotion, and positive feelings in the face of so much negativity, decline, and loss?  3) Robert (‘Doc’) Fenton:  how could you be both John Wayne and a feeling person who reached out to others?  Why and how did you hide this secret, inner self?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook and Twitter have probably helped me reach out the most to prospective readers—in part, because I built up a pretty significant following through my previous work as a filmmaker.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Aspiring writers need to read as much in the world of writing they intend to work in—novels for fiction writers; history and non-fiction for those wanting to tell ‘true’ stories.  And then you have to write.  Write some every day, just to feel yourself giving expression to images, thoughts, emotions.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or ‘publishable’ (it won’t be) at first.  As the great playwright, Tennessee Williams said (but it applies to all kinds of writing): “You don’t write plays; you REWRITE them.”

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Next up for me are a couple of film projects I’m trying to get off the ground—BLOOD BORN, a thriller about a down-on-his-luck 20 something young man whose world is turned upside down when he discovers that his blood can cure cancer; and I’ll be turning MR. WONDERFUL into a screenplay and hopefully an actual movie someday soon.  Book project:  I think I’ll do a sequel to MR. WONDERFUL, focusing on the antics and wild story of Danny and Dawn, the next generation, so to speak.

My website (has lots of photos, trailers, and other info about my work as book author and filmmaker):  danielblakesmith.com
Author bio:  DANIEL BLAKE SMITH is the author of several books including, THE SHIPWRECK THAT SAVED JAMESTOWN (Henry Holt); AN AMERICAN BETRAYAL (Henry Holt); and OUR FAMILY DREAMS (St. Martin’s Press).  He’s also a writer/producer whose most recent film, TEXAS HEART, starring John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER) and Lin Shaye (INSIDIOUS), is now available on Amazon Prime and on DVD.  Formerly a professor of American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a filmmaker and author.

Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All opinions are my own.

Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.

A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:

In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.

Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.

Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”

When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.

In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.

This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.

The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.

Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Editing and Cooking! 2014 Vlog Day 257 (September 14th, 2014)

Editing and Cooking! 2014 Vlog Day 257 (September 14th, 2014)