Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: TRUE COLORS by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically "unfriend" her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it. This is the first book in the series.

My thoughts: How far would you go to fit in? Would you try out for a reality TV modeling competition show?

For someone as plain and tall as Landry, this definitely seemed like a waste of time, but friends pushed her into it. Now she had the grueling task of trying to look “exotic” and “gorgeous” rather than just “adorable.”

Reading this book made me feel like I was watching the floundering performances of American Idol contestants with tone-deaf voices and high-pitched shrieks. Oh, kill me now.

Witty at times but often frivolous, this story is a mild representation of peer pressure and discovery. With the insecurities of today’s youth, this book might help them find their niche. However, I got bored with all the talk of hair, make-up, heels, dresses, and the mall. How many times do kids go to the mall? I felt that Landry was just trying too hard and was overwhelmed with the incessant need to be popular. The best thing—the only thing—you can be is yourself, and it takes courage to do it. Perhaps that was the message in this story, and I certainly applaud it.  

My rating: 2 stars

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: THE DIVIDE by Nathan Doneen

How far would you go to answer a simple question?

After his final year at university, Nathan Doneen wasn't satisfied with the direction his life was heading. He had doubts … he had questions. In June of 2013, Nathan set out on his mountain bike to search for answers along the Great Divide, a 2700-mile route that traces the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico… and he set out alone.

Thrown into the world of erratic weather, cramped bivy sacks, and overwhelming solitude, Nathan was continually forced from his comfort zone, putting his personal growth on steroids.

With both his future and past in mind, Nathan's revealing and honest account illustrates the challenges of the route—and life—and how it's possible to find the strength and courage to move past them.

My thoughts: The story progressed slowly, highlighting the events of a lost young man that led to a series of thought-provoking questions that can’t be answered. Why am I not happy? Why do I do what I do? Why are we here?  And that’s what got him on a treacherous bike trail to nowhere.

From then on, it became a long journey of endless contemplation.  There was really no story (or not much of it anyways.)

My rating: 2 stars

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: THE CASE OF THE KILLER DIVORCE by Barbara Venkataraman

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It's business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie's client becomes the prime suspect. When she can't untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client's name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father.

My thoughts: Jamie Quinn is back in a whole new mystery!

Nothing is messier or more boring than a divorce, except, maybe…murder.

With the same quirky humor, the author brings us another quick read. Of course, it also had the same monotony where the mystery and the characters were concerned. The effort was there, but the excitement wasn’t. It seemed that the bulk of the story centered more on finding Jamie’s father with all the tedious research.

It was okay, but not the best.

My rating: 2.5 stars

Friday, November 14, 2014

Feature: NOISE by Brett Garcia Rose

Noise, by Brett Garcia Rose, is a thriller/mystery centering on a deaf character's search for his missing sister. It's short, violent, but ultimately it's about love. Noise was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery



The world is an ugly place, and I can tell you now, I fit in just fine.

Lily is the only person Leon ever loved. When she left a suicide note and disappeared into a murky lake ten years ago, she left him alone, drifting through a silent landscape.

Or did she?

A postcard in her handwriting pulls Leon to the winter-cold concrete heart of New York City. What he discovers unleashes a deadly rage that has no sound.

A grisly trail of clues leads to The Bear, the sadistic Russian crime lord who traffics in human flesh. The police—some corrupt, some merely compromised—are of little help. They don’t like Leon’s methods, or the mess he leaves in his wake.

Leon is deaf, but no sane person would ever call him disabled. He survived as a child on the merciless streets of Nigeria. He misses nothing. He feels no remorse. The only direction he’s ever known is forward.

He will not stop until he knows.

Where is Lily?


Praise for Noise:


“A staggering, compelling work of fiction…mind-blowingly perfect. It has everything. Exquisite details, world-weary voice, and people worth knowing. It is truly amazing!” – MaryAnne Kolton, Author and Editor of This Literary Magazine


“Strong, compelling, raw and human in the best sense. Beautifully written.” – Susan Tepper, Author of Deer and Other Stories


“Perfect, compact and explosive, closing with the gentlest word.” – James Lloyd Davis, Author of Knitting the Unraveled Sleeves


“Wow. Beautiful and wonderful and sad and real.” – Sally Houtman, Author of To Grandma’s House, We . . . Stay


“Frighteningly good.” – Meg Pokrass, Author of Bird Envy


“Superbly explosive. The rage escalates and careens out of control. Amazing.” – Ajay Nair, Author of Desi Rap


About the Author:


Brett Garcia Rose is a writer, software entrepreneur, and former animal rights soldier and stutterer. He is the author of two books, Noise and Losing Found Things, and his work has been published in Sunday Newsday Magazine, The Barcelona Review, Opium, Rose and Thorn, The Battered Suitcase, Fiction Attic, Paraphilia and other literary magazines and anthologies. His short stories have won the Fiction Attic’s Short Memoir Award (Second Place), Opium’s Bookmark Competition, The Lascaux Prize for Short Fiction, and have been nominated for the Million Writer’s Award, Best of the Net and The Pushcart Prize. Rose travels extensively, but calls New York City home. To learn more, go to, or connect with Brett on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.



Review: NOISE by Brett Garcia Rose

My thoughts: “We have the same view of safari as kids in Harlem have of Disneyland. We know it exists, we know it’s for other people, we know we’ll never see it, and if we did see it, we know we would hate the world that created it and excluded us.” (80)

Deaf Leon is looking for Lily, searching in the dark underbelly of the Big Apple. Lily suffered, but is she still alive? Like the back cover says: Where is Lily? I wanted to know.

I admired Leon’s bold tenacity. At times, his fierce search resembled scenes right out of Mission: Impossible, but without all the fancy tech equipment since we are talking about a poor boy from Nigeria. Leon was a courageous vigilante that vowed revenge on those who hurt his sweet Lily.

Exciting, well-written and descriptive. A few parts were confusing, especially concerning all the mafia stuff, but, overall, it was a neat, well-done, action-packed novel.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Excerpt from NOISE



The sounds I cannot hear: The whistle of the hammer as it arcs through the air. The wailing of pain and the begging of The Bear. The dripping of blood from thawing meat onto the wet concrete floor. The beautifully crude threats.

My own hideous voice.

I drag The Bear into a walk-in freezer by the hook sunk through his shoulder and toss him into a corner on the floor. When I reenter the freezer, dragging the oak table behind me, The Bear is hard at work on the hook, trying to muscle it out, but it’s sunk deep, through the tendons. Hope is adrenaline, fear masks pain, begging helps no one.

I yank him up by the hook and then hold his hands outstretched, one at a time, as I nail his wrists to the table with railroad spikes. I put all of my 240 pounds behind the hammer, but even so, it takes several swings. His body shakes, the nails sink further into the wood, his face is pain. He screams, but I cannot hear.

The building above burns a deep blue hue with my smuggled-in accelerants.

The sound of the hammer into The Bear. The pain in his eyes. I have never seen so much hatred. It is beautiful to me, to reach this center, this uncomplicated base, to disassemble the past and honor a new history. It is another film, also homemade and rough, an overlay, an epilogue. The Bear is broken but I have spared his face, and to see those eyes, that is what I needed; to see his hatred flow into me, my own eyes sucking down the scum like bathtub drains. His life whirls into me and I taste the fear, the hope, the sharp sting of adrenaline pumping and the reeking muck of despair. His pain soothes me, a slow, thick poison. We will all die.

I know it now; I am a broken man. I always was. I imagine Lily watching me, Lily keeping score, making lists, balancing all. As a child from far away, she was the queen, even more so than her mother. But she didn’t survive. The world was not as we had imagined, not even close. The world is a cruel, bastard place, Lily cold and lost somewhere, me hot and bleeding and swinging my hammer. Life as it is, not as we wish it to be.

The sounds I cannot hear: The laughter of the watchers. The groan of my sister as The Bear cums inside of her, pulling her hair until the roots bleed. The Bear screams and shits himself inside the dark freezer. Lily’s wailing and cursing and crying. I scream at The Bear with all my mighty, damaged voice, swinging the hammer at his ruined hands, hands that will never again touch anyone. Lily at the end, beaten and pissed on and begging to die.

Lily is dead. I am dead. It will never be enough.

I remove the stack of photos from my wallet that I’d printed at the Internet café a lifetime ago and place them face down on the table in front of The Bear. I draw an X on the back of the first photo and turn it over, laying it close to the pulp of his ruined hands.

The Bear offers me anything I want. An animal can feel pain but cannot describe or transmit it adequately. The Bear both is and is not an animal. I lack hearing, so the Bear cannot transmit his experience to me unless I choose to see it. His pain is not my pain, but mine is very much his. I swing the hammer into his unhooked shoulder, and then I draw another X and flip another photo.

His lips move, and I understand what he wants to know. Five photos.

In my notepad, I write: you are a rapist fucking pig. I put the paper into the gristle of his hands and swing the hammer against the metal hook again. It’s a sound I can feel.

Anything, The Bear mouths. He is sweating in the cold air of the freezer. Crying. Bleeding.

In my pad, I write: I want my sister back. I swing the hammer claw-side first into his mouth and leave it there. His body shakes and twitches.

I turn over his photo and write one last note, tearing it off slowly and holding it in front of his face, the handle of the hammer protruding from his jaw like a tusk. You are number four. There are a few seconds of space as the information stirs into him and I watch as he deflates, the skin on his face sagging like a used condom. He knows what I know.

I turn over the last photo for him. I turn it slowly and carefully, sliding it toward him. Victor, his one good son, his outside accomplishment, his college boy, the one who tried to fuck him and they fucked my sister instead.

I remove another mason jar from my bag, unscrewing the metal top and letting the thick fluid flow onto his lap. I wipe my hands carefully and light a kitchen match, holding it in front of his face for a few seconds as it catches fully. He doesn’t try to blow it out. He doesn’t beg me to stop. He just stares at the match as the flame catches, and I drop it onto his lap.

The Bear shakes so hard from the pain that one of his arms rips from the table, leaving a skewer of meat and tendon on the metal spike. I lean into his ear, taking in his sweet reek and the rot of his bowels and, in my own hideous voice, I say:

“Wait for me.”


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: SUICIDE NOTE by Don Cox

College student Lily Wilson left Los Angeles for New York to forget her dark and horrifying past. But when she starts feeling at home in Brooklyn, she learns that she carried her ugly past within her.

As her monster-past starts spilling over the pot, her best-friend and neighbor, Isabella Davis, goes missing without a trace. Dan Davis, Isabella’s husband, only gets an encrypted suicide note and a deadline to redeem his eight months pregnant wife.

Police label Dan as the prime suspect, so he has to evade jail to find Isabella. But he is forced to get help from an enemy.

Also, his secrets and craving for the gorgeous Lily keeps getting in his way. And his desire to get his wife alive becomes questionable.

The clock is ticking… Will he find her alive?

My thoughts: It all starts off with Dan and how much he loves his wife, Isa, and how he can never do enough for her. Oookay. Never been too fond of all that lovey-dovey stuff. When does the wife kill herself?

Eventually, we learn that the characters—Dan, Isa, the sexy neighbor Lily, the colleague at work, even the cute, little daughter, Chloe—have skeletons in their dark closets. Just because you think you know someone, doesn’t mean you do.

The plot was slow and uneventful, even though it seemed to read rather quickly, like a checklist or directions to an address. Overall, it was humdrum.  The writing was okay, but the characters lacked originality. I don’t know, the whole thing just felt a little forced to me.

I honestly felt like I was just waiting for someone to die. Someone had to die for there to be a suicide note, right?

This story was nothing but drama over love, marriage, and infidelity—nothing special.

My rating: 2.5 stars