Unable to eat diarrhea?

Yesterday I had a friend tag me on the following picture on Facebook, saying that as a writer I would enjoy it:

I made one my usually snarky comments, that she only thought of me when she thought of diarrhea. This morning I woke up to find that she had deleted the whole post, no comment, no message, just vanished into thin air, never to be seen again. It struck me as funny because I thought the post was funny, and I would have thought she would be able to grasp my sarcastic sense of humor. 

This just goes to prove that I don’t understand women, but that really isn’t all that surprising. I bet I don’t hear from her again until late summer, early fall. Regardless, enjoy this funny photo and remember to use your commas. Diarrhea is no laughing matter.

Book Review: Lucky Sevens

November is here, and with it comes the beginning of the holiday season. Today also kicks-off National Novel Writing Month, and of course, an all-new book review for you to enjoy. Today’s selection is by Cynthia Vespia. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as her business page Original Cyn Advertising.

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Lucky Sevens © 2013 Cynthia Vespia

What city better epitomizes the struggle between good and evil, sinners and saints, than Las Vegas? Sin City is the American capital of indulgences, of gambling, sex, drugs and alcohol. Vegas is a hedonist’s oasis, where the wealthy congregate, where power resides, where lives and dreams are made and broken. It’s where fortunes are won and lost, and where ultimate price is sometimes paid.

Luck Sevens by Cynthia Vespia follows a motley crew of characters, each with their own journey, their lives intertwined by Saints and Sinners, a casino and main setting for our story.

When casino owner, Charles Vega, is found dead, after appearing to have jumped from his suite at Lucky Sevens casino, the place is sold, rebranded as Saints and Sinners, and life goes on. It’s just another day in the city of sin.

Luca “Lucky” Luchazi, head of security for Lucky Sevens, survives the transition and remains at his position. Lucky’s mentor, friend, and father figure, Vega, built Lucky Sevens from the ground up, and after Vega’s death. Though his job consumes much of his time, he bemoans the changes brought about by the new owners.

The driving force behind the story is the power play between Eddie Zeder and his main headliner, magician Chris King. Zeder, forced to drop out of law school by his father in order to manage the property, is at once out of his league, but has the desire to manage Saints and Sinners to finance his personal addictions to cocaine and later meth.

King, who’s own draw is beginning to wane, had been attempting to hijack control of the casino from the previous owner, only failing due to Vega’s untimely death. After the set back, King attempts to take the reins from Zeder, and a battle of wills ensues, one where not only egos are at stake, but lives are seen simply as collateral damage.

Lucky is caught up in the in-fighting, struggling to maintain order. He is at odds with his boss, who he sees as a petty egotist, and King. As the death count begins to rise, his own life is at risk, as he tries to get to the bottom of the situation. Once Brooklyn, Lucky’s ex, becomes involved, a woman who he still cares for and deeply loves, he knows that he must do what he can to protect her, while trying to protect his tenuous hold on his job.

There’s a lot of elements at play in this book. Like I’ve already mentioned, there’s the war for control between Zeder and King, and their disregard for anyone who stands in their way to power. There’s Lucky’s struggle with accepting his mentor’s death and seeing old Vegas make way for the new. There’s the heartbreak of a failed relationship, and the lingering feelings between the two. Add to it an element of black magic, and you have a recipe for a great book, or the potential for a mess.

Happily, Cynthia delivers, offering a action-packed, sordid tale of sex, drugs, and the pursuit for power. In lesser hands, this would have been a belabored collection of stories that would have clashed, but Cynthia expertly manages to bring to this story to life.

There were, I felt a few missed opportunities. I would have liked to have seen the black magic angle play out a little more, especially during the climax of the story. I felt as though there was no denouement. The action fell away, leaving me wanting more.

Still, this was a very enjoyable read. The best stories invite you in, as if you are experiencing the action yourself. I felt very much as if I were looking at the events unfold through Lucky’s eyes. The few negatives I found were minor, and are outweighed by the positives.

As such, I would recommend this book if you like a compelling story. This is very much a book with adult themes. Sex features prominently a several key scenes. They are written in a tantalizing manner, without becoming obscene. Drugs and alcoholism are on display as well, but again, serve as a function of the story.

The book is now on sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Colon Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai in honor of Cynthia’s mother and father.

List of Book Reviews
Next Review – Marsh Island
Previous Review – Golf Made Easy

Book Review: My Not-So-Ordinary Life

Christine Rice

Christine Rice

Happy October everyone! Hope you are enjoying the cooler weather. I know I am. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Christine Rice. She has several books published, and I’m featuring her memoir, My Not-So-Ordinary Life. Check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Not-So-Oridinary Life Ebook

My Not-So-Oridinary Life © 2012 Christine Rice

My Not-So-Ordinary Life chronicles the author’s life from her preschool years to present day. There are neither big reveals nor dark confessions, just a tale of a life lived. While she labels her life to be unordinary, there seems to be a pervasive familiarity to it as well. We all have known people who have traveled down similar paths.

So, what is this memoir really about? It’s about her life experiences. We all have our stories to tell, Christine chose to let us in to hers. We see her as she witnesses the dissolution of her parent’s marriage, growing up between two households, and reaching a point where she rebels against the authority represented by her parents.

Believing herself to be sufficiently grown up, she moves out of her father’s home, and into an apartment with her then boyfriend. Soon she ends up dropping out of school, beginning a series of (mis)adventures, and the meat of her story.

To what end?

This is what has been puzzling me. What is the motive behind the her book? Is this a tell-all book? No. Is it a learn-from-my-mistake narrative? Not quiet? There is no sense of remorse, no shame, no moment of “What have a done?!”

And maybe that’s the point. It’s a glimpse of “how I got here,” and not “I made a boo-boo.” She’s not whining, nor is she asking for sympathy. It’s a matter-of-fact take on her travel through her not quite thirty years of life. Any lessons to be gleamed from the manuscript is solely at the readers discretion and not the motive of the author.

What her memoir is about is the fact that we all have our own life to live, and we all have to learn our own lessons. Some lessons come easily, and others are more difficult to acquire.Here are a things I picked, in no particular order:

  1. Life is hard, and sometimes we make it harder, but we can also make it better.
  2. We are all ultimately responsible for our own successes and failures.
  3. A wrong choice is no reason to quit. It’s a learning exercise.

Again, this is my take. You may interpret it differently, and that’s okay.

I will admit that I had no idea how to critique this book, that is until I realized that I had been looking at this the wrong way. This is less of a novelization than an essay. While it may use storytelling techniques, it’s point is not to tell a story but to describe a journey of hardships and what I hope to be self-growth.

Is there more to the story? Probably, but I believe she chose these key events to highlight the impetuousness of youth and the consequences therein. At no point do you have a sense that she’s given up, even when she seems to be wandering aimlessly. A new goal quickly emerges.

A few times, I wished I could reached back through time and space and shake her furiously and ask her “What the hell are you thinking?” I had to temper my own judgmental tendencies and look into myself and my own life’s choices. Sometimes I fared better than she, but I made my own choices, and some were not all that great. You can check out the rest of my blog if you don’t believe me.

How would I rate this book? I have to say that it is well-written, upbeat, and has a positive overall tone. If you’re like me, you may want to ask her why she did what she did, but at the end I hope you will be mollified that she is heading in the right direction.

While she may not be a celebrity with a tell-all book, or a politician with a soul-cleansing mea culpa attempt, this is still worth reading. Maybe it’s not an attempt at a public confession, but she does open herself up to criticism. Whether it’s merited or not, who am I to say, but she’s not a quitter. For that, she has my admiration and my respect.

You can find her book at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.

List of Book Reviews
November’s Review – Golf Made Easy
September’s Review – Fall of Venus

Book Review: Fall of Venus

Happy September everyone! This month I will be reviewing Fall of Venus by Daelynn Quinn. I found Daelynn and her book on Goodreads, and I’m glad I did. You can find her on her website, Daelynnquinn.com, or on Facebook. Follow her and give her your support!

fallofvenusWhat would you do if you woke up, and everything you knew had changed? The people you loved, gone. Your memory altered. You wake up in a strange place, not knowing how you came to be there. You immediately find yourself fighting for your life, and your best chance for survival comes in the form of a stranger, one who is in the same predicament.

Fall of Venus by Daelynn Quinn, follows the events of Pollen McRae, a twenty-year old woman who finds herself facing the unknown. The story seems to be set in an undetermined future, as the world is facing the consequences of a global catastrophe, specifically global warming at an unprecedented rate.

Survival has meant the forced relocation of the population into underground bunkers every summer, to escape the scorching temperatures. There is a war with a southern country, one in which Pollen has lost an older brother. She has also lost an infant child in the recent past.

When she awakes at the start of the novel, Pollen does not know where she is, or why her clothes are in tatters. She is sore, scratched and bruised, and she discovers a tattoo on an insect on her face. Soon our heroine finds herself in mortal danger. As she tries to flee from her unknown assailants, she befriends a guy by the name of Marcus, who sports the very same tattoo. Like Pollen, he has no memory of how he came to be there. Their immediate thought is to survive.

The world appears devoid of life, including animal and even insects. The only life they encounter is the band of outlaws determined to kill them. As they try to piece together what had happened, they find that most of the world’s population is dead. Her only family is Evie, a niece who is in the prison camp Pollen escaped.

Pollen’s only goal is to save her niece, while dodging those who want to kill or capture her. Why were they prisoners? What happened to the populace? Could this be the first cataclysm which signals the end of the world? Is survival even possible?

Daelynn does an outstanding job of bringing the reader into her story. You see a horrific landscape, scarred beyond recognition, beyond man’s ability to heal. There is love, but also sorrow of an unimaginable scale. There is selflessness, but also an incomprehensible level of greed, love of power and money, and possibly the desire for control, one with a reckless disregard for the sanctity of life

There’s an immediacy in this book, as the problems that culminate in the story are horrifyingly familiar. Wars and the fears of a pandemic, environmental and climatological disasters are ever-present on our collective minds. We live with the pervasive greed of those in power. Could we be looking at our own future?

I started the book not knowing what to expect, but I finished the book excited, impatient for the next one to come out. I have never read the final paragraph of a story and been more sorry to have it end. With a few words at the close of the book, Daelynn brought the whole of her novel to an exciting resolution, one that is poised to launch what promises to be an epic saga. I could never have guessed at the ending, but I gasped with recognition, marveling at the tale she created.

Fall of Venus is the first book in a trilogy. The second book, Crimson Return is set to publish on the 8th of this month. On the 8th and 9th, Venus will be available for free download via Amazon. I cannot recommend this book enough!

List of Book Reviews
October’s Review – My Not-So-Ordinary Life
August’s Review – Minutes Before Sunset

Book Review: Winter Howl

This is the third monthly installment of Book Reviews. This month I’ll be reviewing a novel by my friend, Aurelia T. Evans. Being that she is someone I know, I risked not being able to be completely impartial, so from here on out, I will not do a review for a book from an author I know. As for Aurelia, you can find her on WordPress or on Facebook.

© 2012 Posh Gosh

© 2012 Posh Gosh

For this month’s book review, I have selected an erotic novel, Winter Howl by Aurelia T. Evans. Let me be totally honest and say that erotic fiction is not a genre I’m all too familiar with, but be that as it may, I jumped right in, and quickly took a quick cold shower. Who knew erotica meant sex? Okay, I did, but still…wow!

The story follows Renee Chambers, proprietor of a no-kill dog sanctuary nestled on the borders of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin. The sanctuary, founded by her parents, is a shelter where all dogs, except those of a violent disposition, are accepted, and cared for. They also created an adoption program to help find loving homes for their charges.

What they didn’t expect was to find themselves playing host to guests of a different nature. Renee stumbled onto another world when she found a puppy who shifted from a wolf-like dog into a young girl, around the same age as Renee. The family took her in, not knowing what to do about the fact that they had canine shape-shifters in their midst. Ultimately, they came to an agreement; that they could stay, as long as they helped out with the care of the sanctuary.

Many years, later, after the deaths of her parents, Renee is now in charge, helped out by an unlikely group of shape-shifters, all who live on the ground unanimously. Her best friend, Britt, who happens to be the young pup that introduced the family to the shape-shifting world, lives in the house, along with her boyfriend and a few others that provide help in return for a place to live.

However, it is Renee that is the focal point of the narrative. Renee is an agoraphobe, – from the Greek αγορά meaning gathering place or market; and φόβος/φοβία, -phobia or fear – and has trouble going out in public, relying on Britt, who assumes a role as a service dog.

Her social anxiety has manifested in such a way that she rarely interacts with people off her property, and it has led to a de facto celibate lifestyle. The shape-shifters, Britt included, live with a different set of moral and ethical behaviors, including sexually, and Britt helps Renee develop healthy bonds with people, including slowly introducing her into the joys of sex.

This is all disturbed by the appearance of Grant, who turns out to be a werewolf. Werewolves and shape-shifters are natural enemies, and the enmity is evident as soon as Grant arrives. Renee, as owner and executive of the sanctuary, has the ultimate say as to whether Grant stays or leaves. Opting to give him a chance, it is through him that Renee experiences her first, true taste of sexuality, raw, over-powering, uninhibited. Through him, she relinquishes control, much to the dismay of Britt and the rest of the shape-shifters in her care.

At first glace, I thought this book was primary a sex novel, tawdry, cheap, but still highly arousing. What I missed, but soon realized to my satisfaction, is that the story is actually a look into the group dynamics of an insular group. It also illuminates the struggles of a person suffering from an anxiety disorder. (Geek side note: Sometimes it’s diagnosed as a feature of a Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia (300.21 DSM-IV), but can also be diagnosed as Agoraphobia Without History of Panic Disorder (300.22 DSM-IV-TR). Note: There is a fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-V 2013, but I’m unable at the moment to locate a copy.)

It’s fascinating because you can gauge the internal struggle our heroine faces as she tries to live her daily life, and as she takes the first tentative steps into sexually intimate relationship, first with Britt, and then with Grant. There’s also the dynamic between the core group of and the outsider.

It begs the question, why would a woman like Renee, who is quiet and reserved and is not one to take undue risk, go for a man like Grant? Why would she abandon control, giving it over to someone who is obviously dangerous, and quite possibly homicidal? Then there’s the helplessness and betrayal that is felt by the core pack on the sanctuary, especially Britt, who looks to Renee as both a friend and a lover.

It’s easy to dismiss the book as solely a sex novel, but it’s so much more. The book is about the dynamics of a woman and the company she keeps. It’s about how a person suffering from anxiety tries to cope, wanting to gain more from life as she yearns to break free from the prison of her safe little world within, and discover the world without, in spite of the costs and the risks.

Looking at it from that perspective, the use of sex is not gratuitous but a deliberate vehicle to push the bounds of our character. The loss of innocence/virginity is seen as a rite of passage in our society, and in exploring that side of her womanhood, she discovers a little more about herself, and those around her. 

Aurelia does such an amazing job weaving her story that it’s easy to overlook what really is at stake. What are we willing to sacrifice in order to live our lives? What are we willing to lose in the pursuit of interpersonal contact, including and especially that of an intimate nature? Why does it seem that we are willing to risk our safety to be with someone who is an obvious threat when there is someone closer to home, one who is infinitely more wholesome and a better fit?

My verdict? I recommend this book, as long as you are not puritanical in nature. It is well written, well thought out, and leaves you anxious as to what will happen next. And the straight and lesbian sex is nice as well. It’s definitely a good read. Check it out on Amazon!

List of Book Reviews
August’s Review – Minutes Before Sunset
June’s Review – The Last Death of Tev Chrisini
Winter Howl © 2012 Aurelia T. Evans
© 2013 Joe Hinojosa