Book Review – Open, Shut by Nonnie Jules #RRBC

The sun is shining, the birds are singing and I have hurt my back! So what else is there to do but get out the sun lounger and relax.. and of course, read!

I started this afternoon’s reading with the short story Open, Shut by Nonnie Jules

OpenshutBlurb: Darcy Lynn has a few problems: her sister, Lola, killed by a drunk driver, leaves her with an eerie message right before her death; her parents are atheists; her father drinks a little too much, and her brother, Bud, is just annoying. But, her most pressing issue is that things are mysteriously opening and closing around her and she hasn’t a clue as to why…or how.

In this short “sad but uplifting story with a wonderful message,” as one reader tags it, Author, Nonnie Jules flexes her writing chops once again, by introducing her readers to a normal, everyday family, whose lives are altered, not once, but twice by unexpected and unusual circumstances.

If you came into this story only believing in things seen with your own two eyes, and things heard with your own two ears, you walk away with a new and refreshing added sense…the ability and the courage to change, based on where your heart leads you.

Rating: 4 / 5

My thoughts: For a short story this certainly covers a long time period, despite that it seems to still flow well and the time jumps don’t feel jarring at all. After the loss of the eldest daughter of the family lives are changed forever.  Despite this being a story of a family finding their faith, not being a religious person myself, I also saw it as a family finding each other again after such a traumatic loss. Lola had done what she could to ensure that happened. A quick, easy read, with an uplifting message.

Book Review – Memoir of a Mad Woman #RRBC

It’s time once again for a review of my latest read – this time it is the short novelette Memoir of a Mad Woman by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

MemoirBlurb:  A novelette from the award-winning author of The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Who can explain how madness begins?

This is the story of Emma. Reared by a religious fanatic, orphaned at a young age and sent to a mental institution and an orphanage. Molested and betrayed by the people who should be watching over her…

Who can say that madness has no logic?

During a fight, Emma’s best friend punched her in the abdomen. Since then, Emma has believed there’s something damaged inside of her.

Every month… she bleeds.
She tries to fight it all her life, but the pain and the blood return twenty-eight days later… and the cycle begins again.

But Emma, even in her madness, knows how to take care of herself.
She knows how to make things right…

You may not agree…
But, who can reason with insanity?

Read this tragic but fascinating tale and traverse the labyrinthine passages of madness.

Rating:  5/5

My Thoughts:  This is a well written, but often painful, portrayal of the tormented life of a young woman. With a life consisting mainly of abuse and neglect Emma is driven to the fight for survival with horrific consequences.

While this tale contains many difficult moments I was left with the overwhelming feeling that things could have turned out so differently had she been shown some basic human compassion.

Not an easy read but a well crafted story that is certainly worth reading.

Book Review – Vanished by Mark Bierman #RRBC

Well what do you know! It’s only time for another book review… so here it is.

My latest read was Vanished by Mark Bierman

vanishedBlurb:  Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.
Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

 

Rating:  5/5

My thoughts:  After a shared loss Tyler and John decide to get away for a while and go to Haiti to help the construction of an orphanage. What they didn’t expect while they were there was for a small child to be abducted, they certainly didn’t expect for no one, not even the authorities, to have any intention of doing anything about it.

Unable to accept the situation Tyler and John decide to do all they can to track the girl down and bring her home. They had no idea what they were getting into as they came face to face with violence, danger and threats of death.

This is a great read with plenty of twists as we discover the world of human trafficking, from the view of Tyler and John, those who have been taken, and also a glimpse into the darkness of the mind of the traffickers.

A well written and enjoyable read, I would recommend it.

 

Journey to the Rainbow’s End – Book Review #RRBC

Where does all the time go? It doesn’t feel like we should be nearing the end of January already – and yet here we are. And here I am with my latest book review.

Today I am sharing with you my thoughts on Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey by Forrest Stepnowski

 

rainbowBlurb:  Forrest Robert Stepnowski captures the essence of “coming out” and coming of age as a gay male today, and over the past three decades. “Journey to the Rainbow’s End” captures the joys of love, the pain of heartbreak, surviving the darkness of suicide, and the self-discovery of finding one’s voice and place in society. Forrest Robert Stepnowski is a community advocate, a writer, a social worker, and a female impersonator, known as Victoria Eyesli, in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for many years, and focuses on empowering others who have dealt with similar pathways of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing, in the hopes they can find they are not alone, that they are not deviants, nor are they against “human nature.” We all have voices, and the world should hear them all.

Rating: 5/5

My thoughts:  This book feels, from the outset, incredibly personal. We are given a glimpse into so many, often devastating, painful moments in the life of a young gay man. Split between a collection of poems and a short story you really share in the anguish of finding yourself in a world that seems to be telling you that you’re somehow wrong. The thing I especially loved about this book is the lasting feeling of hope. Yes, the journey was long and painful but ultimately, as the saying goes, “it gets better”.

This is one of those books that lingers with you long after you turn the final page and I found myself thinking over what I had read for some time. I can imagine any young gay men (or women) finding comfort and hope in this writing. Well done 🙂

Book Review – Tequila Rose Virginity Blues by Wendy Jane (#RRBC)

And as I said in my last post I had two reviews to share with you – here is the second
Tequila Rose Virginity Blues: Contemporary Romance Short Story by Wendy Jane

TequilaRoseBlurb: 1st Place Runner Up in Rave Reviews Book Club’s Alpha-Omega Short Story Writing Contest 2018.
Tequila Rose may have met the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, she wakes up suffering from alcoholic amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about the night before. Tall, dark, and Jack may be the cure her jaded heart desperately needs, but Tequila’s wary as friends warn her that Jack hangs out with the local drug dealer. Thrust together at a Speed Dating event, their chemistry sizzles, but is Jack after a different kind of fix?

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts: A great short story which opens with the most agonising hangover imaginable – anyone who has ever over indulged will not be able to help but sympathise. And, as with all good hangovers, Tequila Rose not only has a bad head and churning stomach – she also has a total lack of recall when it comes to the evenings events.
This is a great little tale of love, alcohol and zany relatives. The character of Tequila Rose is very real and relatable – and the people in her life round her out completely. Enough twists in the tale to keep a reader interested to the last page. Some adorable illustrations dotted through the story and what a gorgeous book cover!

Review – Two Shorts and a Snort by Jan Sikes (#RRBC)

It feels like a while since I posted a review (where does the time go to?) but I have a couple to share now – and the first is…

Two Shorts and a Snort by Jan Sikes

ShortSnortBlurb: This book consists of two short stories and one poem from award-winning author, Jan Sikes, in response to a writing challenge from the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.
Obsessed:
How far will one man go to satisfy an obsession? The price could cost him his life.
Maggie:
Is it possible to pray up a baby? Frank and Mary Pyburn are convinced that is what they’ve done.
Friends Instead of Lovers:
Sometimes it’s better to remain friends, instead of giving in to desires and crossing a line.

My Rating: 4/5

My Thoughts: A quick and enjoyable read made up of two short stories and a poem.
Obsessed – this story had a real feel of the location/people/era – the dialogue and descriptions perfectly illustrate a mans obsession with the woman he wants to marry, and the incredible lengths to which obsession can drive a person.
Maggie – this is a cute, gentle tale of a found baby and the couple who take her in. A good blend of happy and sad round this tale out perfectly.
Friends Instead of Lovers – this short poem sums up the potential peril of turning a friendship into something more, and losing the thing that made the friendship so special in the first place.

All in all this is well worth a read – short and satisfying.

Book Review – World Circus

Another sunny weekend means only one thing – time to relax and read. Which now means time to share with you all my thoughts on the book I have just finished.

World Circus by Charles W Jones

This is the third, and final, instalment of the Circus World Trilogy and I have reviewed the first two parts: Book one Circus Tarot and Book Two Page of Buckets

WorldCircBlurb: For the final installment of the Circus Tarot Trilogy as well a tie in with Hydrangeas on the Lanai (Charles W. Jones), inspired by Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, Charles brings World Circus. Bizarre events won’t allow Susie to return to World Circus, and she discovers at the same time, she is no longer Page of Buckets, leaving her with the question of “who am I?” Each time she closes her eyes to sleep, she learns more and more of how the strange world and its inhabitants were created. An unsettling vision of a massacre leaves her shaken, leading her to the woman who created the Circus Tarot.

 

Rating:  4/5

My thoughts:  So at last the trilogy draws to a close and piece by piece we learn the origins of this strange world.

Time has passed and Susie learns that her role in the circus is about to change, she just doesn’t know who she is to become and the truth is revealed slowly through a series of strange, and often disturbing dreams.

I must admit that I didn’t quite enjoy this book as much the previous two but that said it was still a well crafted tale and it was satisfying to discover where this strange world originated. The flipping between the different times took a little getting used to but that became easier the more you read.

All in all a pleasing ending to a strange and imaginative series that might make you look at clowns a little differently – unless, that is, you are already afraid of them 🙂

Book Review – Mannethorn’s Key

There is something about a nice sunny Sunday afternoon that just demands sitting out and enjoying a good book. The last few lovely weekends have been spent reading and enjoying Mannethorn’s Key by Simon Lindley

ManneBlurb: Slumped over the toilet bowl in his slum apartment, Bart’s high-rolling lifestyle isn’t exactly coming up roses. Alcohol, affairs, and a skill exploited for short-term gain have rewarded him with divorce, bankruptcy, and unemployment.

A world away, a wizard-apprentice confronts a foe as threatening as the once-dominant age of Dragon’s Rule. But to triumph, he will need Bart – a washed-up derivatives broker – plucked from a last-ditch job interview and thrust into a testing ground, where a knight with a penchant for lopping off heads will either groom him for the world beyond or murder him in the process.

Exiled dragon-lords, grass-eating giants, impetuous warriors, troll assassins, ribald dwarfs, evil men, and vengeful women seek to save themselves from a flawed world of failing magic. With hungover Bart at its epicenter, what can possibly go wrong?

Trailerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykKjOoLmqOE

Rating:  6/5 (I know that’s not really allowed but some books just deserve the extra point!)

My thoughts: Bart’s life is a mess, unemployed and living in a run down apartment the only relationship he has is with the bottle – not exactly what a hero is made of. A hero is exactly what he needs to become if he’s going to help battle the evil growing in another world.

It took me a couple of chapters to properly settle into this book. I think with fantasy novels set in other worlds you need a bit of time to get to grips with who (or what) the characters are but as I read further I became completely immersed in this fantastical world. There are several story lines running, all of which slowly begin to entwine each one adding to the others.

The characters are a varied bunch, human like and not, good and evil or often a little bit of both, and Bart is our touchstone. The “normal” man trying to understand exactly what is going on while hoping he can find his way back home.

If you’re a fan of fantasy then you will love this book. If you’re not a fan of fantasy just try it anyway, you might well become a fan!

The only thing about this book that was disappointing was getting to the end and realising the next instalment is not yet out!

*Sits waiting patiently for part two*

Book Review – Kai by Michelle Abbott

It is once again time for me to share with you a review of my latest read – and this time it’s “Kai” by Michelle Abbott

KaiBlurbMy name is Kai Okamoto. I deal drugs. Trade escapism for cold, hard cash.
Born to a British mother and a Japanese father, I grew up poor, hungry, and alone. Hiding from the monsters at our door. The debt collectors.

I’ve worked hard to escape my past. I’m not that frightened little boy anymore. I’m wealthy, secure, and sure of myself. At least I was, until I met Lily.

Lily is a good girl. The kind of girl I should stay away from. I should, but I can’t.

I hate lying to her, but if she finds out who I am, what I do. I won’t see her for dust.

A standalone, bad boy romance, set in England.

Rating:  4/5

My thoughts:  Lily is a nice “ordinary” girl. When she gets her bag snatched, taking the last of her money, she thinks life has hit rock bottom. Then she meets Kai, the handsome, mysterious stranger who returns her bag and quickly charms her. Instead of a stolen handbag Lily quickly becomes the victim of a stolen heart.

Kai seems to be the perfect man, handsome, charming, kind and generous. Unfortunately he has a secret that could tear their relationship apart.

I enjoyed how this story unfolded, the narrative alternating between the two characters view points so we had a full picture, even if they didn’t.  It was well written and an easy read which kept me turning the pages to see how things would unfold with realistic relatable characters.  Well worth a read!

 

Book Review – Deception by Bill Ward

Here I am again with the latest of my book reviews and today I have the third book in a series by Bill Ward – this time the book is Deception (Powell Book 3)

Blurb:  POWELL IS BACK IN A HEART POUNDING STORY THAT WILL LEAVE YOU BREATHLESS.
DeceptionThe Americans aren’t happy with the changing political climate in Britain. Elements of the CIA and MI6 enter into a conspiracy to help shape the thinking of the British public.
Meanwhile ISIS has a plan to bring terror to the streets of Britain.
Powell is caught in the middle when he offers help to a former lover, whose life is in danger. Soon it becomes evident, someone will stop at nothing to see them both silenced.
Unsure who can be trusted, Powell must act to save the lives of his friends and right a terrible wrong.

Rating:  5/5

My thoughts: After having read the first two of the Powell books I had no hesitation in reading this third instalment, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The writing is as strong as ever and the story holds your attention from the very first page. Powell’s life is thrown into chaos when an old lover comes to him for help, little does he realise just how dangerous things are going to become.

The threat of terrorism is growing steadily but the culprits might not always be as obvious as suspected.

This is a brilliant read and I am already looking forward to what dangers Powell finds himself in next.