Book Reviews

Golden Skies – Juan Zapata

Golden Skies
Published: June 2018
As a boy, Malik watched an army of religious zealots swarm his home town, slaughtering his people and running his beloved grandfather through with a black sword. Nine years later, Malik still believes there's peace...somewhere. At least that's what he tells himself as his body is ripped apart by whips at a conversion camp. That's what his best friend whispers as he frantically creates new force technology and jetpacks to rescue Malik. Yet when war…

Welcome to another Digital Reads Blog Tour!

Thanks so much to Shalini @ Digital Reads for allowing me to be a part of another fantastic tour!

This Blog Tour features Golden Skies by Juan Zapata

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I had initially planned only to do a promo post for this book.  However when the information came through I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and read something that isn't from my usual genre.

Golden Skies is part sci-fi, part war, part comedy and part brilliant.  Set in the middle of a religious war it is based on the story of Malik and his father Majadin.  Majadin has been converted to the religion of Safad and is waging war on all those who fail to worship Safad as their God.  Following the murder of his grandfather (by Malik's Father no less) Malik has sworn to never follow the man-God Safad.  When Malik refuses to go to the town square to worship he is taken by his fathers soldiers and whipped to within an inch of his life.  Transported away from his family to be converted Malik begins his journey to avenge his Grandfather and bring peace to his town once again.

The relationships in this book are fantastic.  Not only do you have the very sweet relationship between Malik and his sister, we also have the bromance between Malik and his long time best friend Kafed.  Their interactions are hysterical and ensured that the sometimes heavy subject matter didn't get too much.  There is some pretty graphic violence in this novel - think skewers under finger nails and that's not the worst - along with some pretty close to the bone language, it's certainly not for kids to be reading!

The story isn't all blood, gore and swearing though.  There's also jet-packs!  Yes!  Everyone in the story can FLY!  Zapata has somehow managed to make what could have been a run of the mill war story into a sci-fi hybrid and it works so, so well.  There's flying and force fields and all sorts going on!

Overall, I did enjoy this book and I'll certainly be looking out for the next installment of the trilogy.  It's the classic story of good vs evil and as it's not a very long book - under 300 pages - it's a fab little afternoon read.

A splendid 3.5 stars!

An Excerpt from Golden Skies

“Let her go!” I shrieked, attempting to leap forward. I doubled over in pain as the guards holding me struck me in the gut. Tears of anguish brimmed at my eyes. “I…won’t serve anyone!” I spat on the ground, screaming. “Safad isn’t a god! He’s nothing!”

The guards holding me suddenly let go, taken aback. Silence rang forth from the crowd and rapidly descended upon the entire square.

Mujadin looked at me, speechless.

“Safad isn’t holy! He’s a man who pisses and shits like everyone else. His laws are hogwash. You kill for nothing! You are nothing! You’re a liar, scum, a deceiver. All your life fighting for some sick charlatan!” I yelled, feeling blood rush to my face, popping out the veins on my throat and forehead.

I didn’t truly know if I believed what I was saying, but Kafed had echoed my own thoughts on the subject countless times; he believed that Safad wasn’t divine—that he’d tricked others with his ‘miracles’ to gain power and keep it. Everything that was happening was because of that narcissistic, deceiving man-god my father worshipped.

No one in the crowd moved or spoke. The soldiers around me leveled their weapons at my head. The penalty for denying Safad’s divinity was death. I tightened my fists. If this was to end in a hail of bullets, at least I’d diverted attention from those about to be executed, my sister, and Kafed.

Mujadin put up a trembling hand, ordering the men to hold their fire. A deadly whisper. “No. No. He will suffer.”

A short, quiet pause rang forth, then suddenly, I lost control of my body and fell to the concrete ground, pain exploding from every nerve. I’d been struck by stun weapons.

My vision blurred, light entering my pupils in bursts. For one second I saw my father’s stony face, the next the feet of guards, the crowd staring at me, the sea-green sky, my sister weeping on the ground, Kafed flanked by guards.

Soldiers grabbed each of my arms and hoisted me to my knees. Time seemed to slow as I got my bearings, blinking at the crowd, then the air was sliced in two, the sound of a whip whistling before it hit its mark.

Tongues of fire lit up my back, pulling a heinous scream from my throat. My muscles tightened like knots, fresh air eating away at my raw flesh. Red engulfed my vision, and the air thundered and rippled. Wapash! My forearms tensed, and I cried out, trembling. The flames returned again and again, one lash after the other, ceaseless. The sky darkened, and the blistering heat disappeared. My flesh shredded apart in lines, pulled off my muscles in crisscrossing patterns, my blood flowing out, dripping onto the stone. The leather gouged deep into me with each lick. I could hardly breathe.

My tear-filled eyes stared blankly to those below the platform and rested upon a man below me, just one of the many among thousands. White skin. Blond hair. A Northeasterner? My eyes widened at the woman beside him—fiery red locks flared out behind a scarlet mask. Piercing blue eyes drank me in. I expected hostility from them but found shock instead. Sympathy. Conflict within these foreigners. And then they were gone, replaced by black. A last shuddering breath, another crack, and darkness took me.

About the Author

Juan Zapata is a senior at Alabama A&M, expected to graduate December 2018. He majors in Criminal Justice and is a member of the AAMU Honors Program. Born in Mexico, Juan came to the United States at four years old. When he is not writing, Juan likes to play For Honor and pretend he's a knight, laughing with happiness at his victories and nearly having aneurisms when defeated.

Author Contact Details:

Twitter: @Zapatathe1

Instagram: @Zapatathe1


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