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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