Monday, November 13, 2017

The Chronicles of the Afflicted



Yes, this review is going to be one of those "I devoured the book and let me tell you ALL about it" book reviews. Because I did devour the book. And I want to tell you all about it. I purchased this book yesterday and just finished it twenty minutes ago. Whenever I get a book that I truly like, I literally devour it. Afflicted: Book One of the RTX Chronicles by authors Michael B. Hinton and Sherry R. Melancon is one of those books in which you can't put it down and when you do, you'll want to pick it up again to pick up where you left off. The story is thus:

Welcome to America, land of the free and home of the brave. Now, take Revelations from the Bible and make it happen. Welcome to the Event - when the world as we know it ends and begins at the same time. However, with the Event comes a most interesting after effect - people suddenly obtain abilities such as telekinesis, shapeshifting in every format possible, the ability to shoot fire from your fingers, the ability to cloak and become invisible, and so on. Such people are known as Afflicted. These people are hunted down and killed, or hunted down and . . . studied by the government. Yet, all is not lost as those who are Afflicted soon find each other and create towns and cities as refuge from "normal" people.

This novel has three flawed "heroes": Reginald Sebastian Unglesby IV or "Ruddy", Ezekiel Daniels or "Xeke", and Teri. Although they are Afflicted with powers and abilities to wipe out entire cities, they are also human and that makes them even more dangerous to others. They also live with their own inner demons carried from childhood that seem to neither be a blessing nor a curse. Yet, as the trio escapes from White Supremacists, government officials who are Afflicted, normals who think of their kind to be in league with Satan, and the not so simple act of having crushes and falling in love, they find that the truth is NEVER the truth. Lies are more acceptable and quicker to forgive. Oh yes, and a pink blanket. You must have that.

This book is a big pot of adrenaline rush, X-Men without the cool costumes and the protective academy, lessons of trauma and mental illness, and the always enjoyable theme of post apocalyptic "dear god, what now?!" I will warn you that there are many "triggers" in this book - specifically regarding child abuse in its many ugly forms as well as mental illness. If you are not able to read stories that contain such subjects, then unfortunately you may not want to read this book. However, I will give Sherry and Michael credit that they handled those scenes rather well without going overboard. As I read this book last night while waiting on having dinner with My Kid, I messaged several of my bibliophile friends, telling them that they needed to read this book. Like now. In speaking with one of the authors (who is also my World of Warcraft buddy - Glory to the Sin'Dorei!), I learned that they are currently working on the second book. That's the only problem when you find an awesome book to read  - sometimes, you have to wait for the sequel. Yet, I know that the wait will be worth it. I do feel a little sad that I've left Teri, Xeke, and Ruddy, but hopefully I'll see them again soon.

Sherry and Michael - that cliffhanger ending - it was like watching the show Dallas! Well done!

EX LIBRIS!


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Vampires, Rednecks, and Morlocks?!




Let me just start this off with this - if you have NOT read the Black Knight Chronicles, here is the link to order the books as well as a bio of author John G. Hartness: CLICK HERE NOW.

Okay, done with that. If you did click on the link to order the books, you are in for a treat!

In the Still of the Knight is Book Five of the Chronicles - our beloved geek vampires Jimmy and Greg must deal with new vampires, a creature that drains humans of their life force, and pissed off rednecks as they discover that the city of Charlotte survives/manipulated on rules older than Time. The rules are never fair and lead to spilled blood and stepped on egos. Yet, with new threats and buried emotions dragged to the surface kicking and screaming, can our Undead Duo survive it? And if they do, will it change them for the better or worse? As much as I love this series, this book grabbed me by the neck and wouldn't let go. And I'm glad it didn't. This book made me laugh out loud, brush away tears, and get just as angry as the characters did when confronted by unwanted choices thrust upon them. The scene between Jimmy, a corpse, and God was intense. Book Five is very much John Hartness and yet much more - at the end of the book, I saw Jimmy in a new light. It seemed as though he "leveled up" and I remembered thinking "it's about damn time". 

I refrained from immediately diving into the sixth book, as I needed to allow my brain to settle down after Book Five's constant adrenaline rush. However, I know that time period won't be long, as Book Five left me on an "oh damn, NOW what?!" feeling.

Kudos to John for being an amazing Renaissance man and one hell of an author. Hope to see you soon, dude!

EX LIBRIS!


Monday, October 30, 2017

Tea Befitting Neptune - New Tea Review



Once again, I'm reviewing a tea that I purchased while attending the Midwest Tea Festival!

This time, I'm going to take you with me as we visit Nepal - the Himalayas and TEA! While at the Midwest Tea Festival, I took a class about the history of tea from Nepal, followed by sampling two teas processed by the company Nepal Tea LLC. The small group chose a white tea and a gold (black) tea, although I really wanted to try a green tea called Ganesha Green. Thankfully,  the tea company sold a sampler bag of their blends, one of which being Ganesha Green! From the first time our presenter told us about the blend, I knew I had to try it. Now, after enjoying many cups of it, it's one of my favourite loose leaf green teas of all time.


Ganesha Green is a lovely green tea with an oceanic feel to it - kelp and seaweed make for a delicious addition to the tea. The scent of the tea leaves is refreshing and clean, while the scent of the tea itself is vegetal and slightly ocean salty but not disgusting at all. When I tried it the first time, I remembered that I smiled as images of strolling on the beach during a cool Spring day came to mind. The tea is refreshing to the senses - no need to add any kind of sweeteners. I think that adding a sweetener to the tea would change the flavour in a not so good way. Enjoy this tea by itself and allow yourself to be drifted away. Neptune would certainly enjoy this tea.


One habit that I've gotten into is to study the leaves after they've steeped. I love to smell and look at the leaves after their contact with the hot water - beauty can be found anywhere. In any case, I can't recommend this tea enough to you. I know I'll be purchasing a larger container of Ganesha Green very soon!

Join the Leaf!

(the sampler bags from Nepal Tea LLC - so much tea!)

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Soundtrack of the Necropolis

(I'm currently playing this CD while writing out this review, of course!)




Valentine Wolfe is a breath of fresh air within the Gothic/Dark Victorian subculture. Combining dreamlike lyrics with dark music to soothe your soul, this band does more than just play music - they experience it. And they make sure that you do as well. When I learned that they were coming out with a new album through Kickstarter, I knew I had to contribute money. Of course, when I learned that the album was a love song to Death, I knew I wanted it even more.



From the first track of Sin Eater to the final song of Last Kiss, The Elegiac Repose is a damn near perfect album. Sarah Black's voice pierces through the Veil with grace and respect of the Dead, while Braxton Ballew's upright bass fuels the darkness in a proper way. Each song is its own creature, beautiful and deadly, yet you will want to turn it up wherever you are playing the album. Although the entire album is quite lovely, my favourite songs are Porcelain Creature and Melancholy is the Devil's Bath - these two songs really stand out to me. I also enjoyed the cards that came with the album - each song is represented with a beautiful photo and the lyrics on the back.


The Elegiac Repose is to remember those who have passed, those who are currently dealing with the loss of a loved one, those who enjoy excellent Gothic music, or those who are of the Death Positive persuasion. For those of you who don't know, the Death Positive movement is all about respecting Death and the mystery that surrounds it. In learning about Death do we learn to live. Two of the more well known organizations are the Order of the Good Death and Death and the Maiden. If you are interested in these organizations and what they are all about, I highly recommend checking them out.


I can't recommend The Elegiac Repose enough - please, purchase this album. You won't be sorry.

I am sure the inhabitants of the Necropolis in my stories would enjoy this album very much.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tea Review - Kagoshima Japanese Green Tea





Once again, I'm reviewing a tea I purchased from the Midwest Tea Festival and this one makes me giddy. Kagoshima Japanese Green Tea was the first tea I tried when I entered the festival. Harney and Sons is one of my favourite tea companies - I give them much love whenever I visit a Barnes and Noble. I had the pleasure of meeting Emeric Harney at the festival as he told me of their teas to sample and enjoy. The Kagoshima quickly won me over as I drank my sample then moved on to other tea vendors.


The tea smelled of grassy green and green bell pepper - light and fresh with a hint of a "twang". As you can see in the above photo, this tea is vibrant in colour - just makes you feel happy and content. Once prepared, the tea liquor, pale green in colour, smelled very much like steamed green bell peppers. I know that sounds strange but it's true - it even says so on the box! Although the tea is also supposed to have hints of lemons and roasted walnuts, I could not detect those flavours yet the tea is by no means less than delicious.  The taste of the tea is light and refreshing to the palate, with the green bell pepper taste to enjoy. The mouth feel and finish is soothing and "wet". A calming influence with just enough to sharpen your focus. Drinking the tea reminds me of walking through a farmers market on a cool Saturday - fresh vegetables, clean air, and a feeling of good will.

Yes, I did get all that while sipping the tea.


I can't recommend this tea enough to those who enjoy good Japanese green tea. Do yourself a favour and order a box of this tea!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tea Blend Review - Tangerine Sage Green Tea



I'm still enjoying the teas I purchased from the Midwest Tea Festival. Each tea so far has been a wonderful adventure and I still have so many more to go. Queen's Pantry Teas, located in Leavenworth, Kansas, had quite a display area at the festival, complete with many blends to try and even more to purchase and take home to enjoy in your home. Tangerine Sage, one of the green tea blends, is a pleasant blend to savour at all times of the day. I prefer to drink this tea blend after dinner as a nice dessert dish.



The tea blend colour is vibrant, with leaves that look as through they've just been processed. The scent of the blend is very much tangerine with a faint hint of sage. The scent of the green tea is barely there, as overpowered by the tangerine. If are NOT a fan of anything citrus, then I do not recommend this blend for you. However, if you do enjoy anything citrus, then read on! The tea liquor aroma is vegetal and citrus with sage hiding right at the very end, while the taste is all tangerine. As it cools, the taste of the tea gets smoother and more mellow. The mouth feel and finish are refreshing and reminiscent of a summer day with popsicles and walking along a beach. In fact, I'll dare to say that drinking this tea refreshes your breath better than chewing gum! (as I'm typing out this review, I'm drinking the tea and enjoying how fresh my breath smells!) If you are looking to expand your taste buds within the green tea realm, you can't go wrong with Queen's Pantry Teas Tangerine Sage Green Tea.

JOIN THE LEAF!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bright, Precious Days of the Shallow





The first book I read by Jay McInerney was Bright Lights, Big City - a young man who succumbs to drugs and the fast life in New York City. I knew that McInerney was part of a literary group known as the Brat Pack (Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz are members of the group). The books written by these authors delved into the world of wealthy young professionals or artists who lived life on the edge with much drinking, drugs, and other "afterschool activities". It had been years since reading Bright Lights, Big City, yet when I learned that McInerney would be at Square Books, I knew I had to meet him. He read his passage from his new book, Bright, Precious Days, with a tone that had done and seen much and had the scars to prove it. The book signing was a memorable experience.


Let me start by saying this - I truly disliked almost every character in this novel. And yet, my eyes were glued to the pages, wanting to know more about these people and their lives. McInerney wrote this book as though they were friends of his and that the scenes were just times when they all hung out and "lived life". He wrote them with such familiarity that I almost want to email him and ask if these characters were based on real people. Bright, Precious Days is the third novel involving Russell and Corrine Calloway, the darling couple in New York and the center of their friends' circle. Russell works in the publishing industry while Corrine works in the world of non profits. They have two children and they are very typical in acting their ages. I confess that I have not read the previous two novels, yet with this one, it's pretty easy to learn about their history. The Calloways had a friend, their third wheel named Jeff - a genius who died much too soon. Russell and Corrine were, and in some case still are, the living embodiment of the 1980s. Drugs were looser then, people had sex with no shame or regrets, and life was meant to be lived by the fucking seat of your pants. It was a time to show the world what you were made of and damn them if they didn't understand you. Now that the Calloways and their friends are older, they face new challenges with a spark that is no less bright yet different.

I found myself wondering just how these people could keep up with their lives. People cheating on their spouses, alcohol that never seems to stop flowing, backstabbing each other with smiles, and ways to keep yourself looking emaciated because how else will you EVER fit into that Chanel dress you purchase for the latest benefit for some cause you couldn't care less about? Like I said earlier, I only liked one character - Russell - and the like I have for him was more out of pity than anything else. He sticks to his values and morals when it comes to publishing, and yet that blows up in his face. He loves his wife yet has no idea that an old flame re-enters her life. He sees his friends wandering off on their self destructive paths with a mixture of pity and sad familiarity. Yet, in the end, the Calloways remain the epicenter of the world they have created, if not for their friends' sake then definitely for themselves.

I absolutely loved this book - call it a guilty pleasure of mine. I love reading about characters who continue to spiral downwards all in the name of their values or the values held high by their friends. And when they seek some sort of redemption, you cheer them on and hope like hell that they make it "this time". When I finished it, I was sad to see this version of New York leave. Reading this book was anything but a bright, precious day.

EX LIBRIS! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Adventures of a Tea Merchant - Persia







Tea is very much a universal language that can be obtained in most of the world. Being a Tea Merchant allows me to travel the world without leaving my home city. By chance, I decided to enjoy lunch in a small Persian restaurant on a nice Saturday afternoon. When the waiter asked what I wanted to drink, I asked about their teas. He quickly mentioned a Persian blend, to which I readily accepted. Several minutes later, the waiter brought out my tea and I knew I was in for a treat. Although he brought several kinds of sweeteners, the tea did not need it after one quick sip. As the music played in the restaurant, I felt myself swept away to a bazaar laden with exotic items and finding a cafe hidden away that served good food and refreshing tea. I finished my tea within several sips and knew that I had to purchase a box of the tea. However, the waiter informed me that the blend was the owner's special recipe and that it was not for sale. It keeps the customers coming back for more, he said. Although I was a little upset that I couldn't take the tea home, I was still happy to have found it.

Persia, by way of Memphis.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Fantastic Arrival





Ever locate a book in a bookstore that you KNOW has to come home with you? That's how I felt about The Arrival by Shaun Tan. I had heard of the book before yet never purchased it until I located a copy in a used bookstore. After viewing several of the pages, the book quickly stuck to my hand and refused to leave.

The Arrival is a fantastic story about a man who leaves his wife and daughter to make a home for them in a new city. Sounds lovely, right? However, this new city is no ordinary city. This city is straight from the imagination, of fantasy and nightmares combined. Even the "spoken language" is unlike anything you've ever seen before. Creatures that defy logic. Food that looks more like works of art. People with clothing that would be deemed insane. And yet, this is the city in which the man begins his new chapter in Life.

There are no words in this book. The entire story is told in images that appear to be faded and obscure, yet no less fanciful. We travel with the man from his home in the old city, then aboard the ship, and finally to his new home. We struggle with him as he tries to get around, all the while getting used to the sights that now surround him. I found myself smiling as I viewed each image.

The Arrival will appeal to those who love the work of Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, and Audrey Niffenegger.

I'm so glad this book finally arrived in my life.

EX LIBRIS!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Having Tea with a Mistress - NEW TEA BLEND!




I never would have guessed that I would make a tea inspired by a graphic novel character, yet it HAD to be done. Sean Taylor is one of those authors (and personalities!) who you just can't help but love to be around. He's always making people laugh, and his stories will grab you from the first word to the very end - check out his story in the ProSe Productions anthology The New Adventures of Armless O'Neil! Aside from that, Sean is a good friend and a good man.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the NEW tea blend from Viridian Tea Company - Mistress Angelique's Tea Blend!

The tea, inspired by the writing of Sean Taylor, consists of assam tea, goji berries, rose hips, and anise. The aroma of the tea blend is a flourish of licorice, malt, and faint flowers. When prepared, the tea liquor smells of malt, licorice, and roses - spicy, sensual, and irresistible, just like Angelique! I prepared the blend over two months ago, so the ingredients have had a chance to "get to know one another"!

The blend will be for sale at the Cooper Young Farmers Market tomorrow, as well as my Etsy store - Viridian Tea Company.

Also, stop by the booth for samples of Elmwood tea blend as well as NEW VTC STICKERS!

Join the Leaf and thank you, Sean!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tea Review - L'Oriental Tea Blend





The Midwest Tea Festival in Kansas City, Missouri was more than just a day of sampling teas. It was very much a chance to meet tea lovers from all over the world and to learn more about the Tea Industry. Such was the case with Emilie of Emilie's French Teas - French tea is more than just sipping tea from a cup. French Tea is ART! Thankfully, Emilie's French Teas had several tea blends to sample at the Festival. As soon as I tried L'Oriental tea, I knew a bag of it was coming home with me! Emilie and I even had a small conversation in French while I continued to try her teas.



When you open a bag of L'Oriental tea, you are immediately jettisoned away to a field filled with lavender, roses, and other flowers, each one giving off their scent that leads to a dizzying high. The tea is a delightful blend of sencha tea leaves with rich colour, passion fruit, flower petals, with peach and strawberry flavours. The tea, light golden in colour, tastes of sitting in a cafe after visiting an art museum - exquisite, delicate, creative, and delicious! The tea liquor has a faint scent of green tea and flowers without being overpowering to your palette. A great tea to enjoy on a lazy Sunday with a good book or while watching a foreign film.

Highly recommended!

Merci beaucoup, Emilie!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Tea Review - Mad Hatter's Concoction





I had the pleasure of meeting the guys behind The Dragon's Treasure at the Midwest Tea Festival several weeks ago. The trio were funny and full of energy - perfect as Tea Merchants! Their concept is to create a haven for people who love tea and anime . . . . and it works! They had many blends to choose from in the way of sampling, yet with me being a fan of anything Alice in Wonderland, I had to purchase a bag of the Mad Hatter's Concoction!


The tea is a blend of green tea, orange peels, sunflower petals, and citrus flavours. When I opened the bag, the smell was intoxicating - reminded me of a Spring day in a valley filled with lemon and orange trees while a breeze gently blew through. Yes, all of that in one bag of tea! The leaves appeared to be full and vibrant, not just pieces of the leaves. Getting a closeup look at your loose leaf tea is a good indicator as to whether or not you will have a decent cup.


The appearance of the tea once made still reminded me of a Spring day - golden and rich. The smell was of fresh and grassy with just a hint of citrus. My first sip was pleasing to my mouth and light - all of the ingredients blended rather well without one overpowering the others.  Mad Hatter's Concoction is a good tea to begin your day or end it, preferably with a book or with friends.

Much thanks to the people at The Dragon's Treasure!




Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Circus of Dreams and Nightmares







A friend told me about a strange book titled The Night Circus by author Erin Morgenstern and I knew that I had to read it. Thankfully, I located a copy several weeks later at Prospero's Books in Kansas City and started reading it the next day. Yeah, this was one of those books that I completely devoured within days. If you are looking for books that are a healthy dose of magick realism mixed with alternate history, The Night Circus is for you!

Two men who are more than mere magicians have been a part of a game than has lasted longer than both men will admit. In order to play the game, they must "train" someone who will "fight" for their side, all in the name of magick. One of them named Prospero the Enchanter chooses his daughter, Celia, while the other named Alexander or "the man in the grey suit" chooses an orphan named Marco. For years, these two children undergo strenuous training with regards to learning true magick, reading many books, and keeping a low profile from the rest of the world. Moving forward several years, a wealthy eccentric named Chandresh Christophe Lefevre decides to create a new kind of circus, one that is beyond clowns and balloons. Le Cirque des Reves (the circus of dreams), created by Lefevre and a small group of his closest friends, is the circus for those who seek something different in the ways of entertainment. The circus is draped in black and white, opening at night and closing at dawn and they appear in cities by the blink of an eye. By random chance, Celia and Marco, now older and wiser in the ways of magick and illusions, become a part of the circus and soon, the circus becomes something more. Something darker and stranger. Since the book is written in present tense, the reader feels as though the book is happening right before their eyes.

Like I said before, I devoured this book within several days. This was an excellent read that gave me just enough to make me wonder and hope for a circus like this to suddenly appear. In fact, once I finished the book, I emailed my friend and suggested that we both wear red scarves (when you read the book, you'll know why). Kudos to Morgenstern for writing such a delightful book. I can't recommend The Night Circus enough.

EX LIBRIS!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Soul of Publishing a Poet





I have been a part of the publishing world for several years and I still feel as though I have no idea what I'm doing. Yet, the indie and smaller presses seem to make it a bit easier for authors as well as the publishers themselves when it comes to the daily grind of what to expect after hearing the words, "We'd like to publish you." However, there are those who still dream of getting published by New York - years ago, if you weren't published by a company in New York, well. . . . .

Sometimes, it's hard to explain to an "outsider" just what goes on in a publishing house. Muse, the debut novel by Jonathan Galassi, gives the reader an inside look into the New York giants. Galassi is an established poet as well as the President of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, one of the major New York publishing houses still around. Muse delves into the world of New York publishing as well as the fate and future of poets. The book begins with a history of America's greatest poet, Ida Perkins. Truth be told, once I was drawn into this novel, I found myself searching for her work . . . only to find that she is fictional. Yet, once you begin reading Muse, you'll wish she was real.

The book tells the story of Paul Dukach, a misunderstood young man from a small town. While his family enjoys all things sports, he enjoys the delight and comfort of books. He especially enjoys the work of Ida Perkins, a poet whose works ignite his soul as well as many others. Soon, Paul finds himself working for the publishing house Purcell & Stern, learning the ins and outs of the company as well as the trade secrets (and gossip). However, as Fate would have it, he gets a chance to meet the source of his soul - Ida Perkins, now much older yet no less feisty. Through this once in a lifetime meeting, Paul discovers a secret that could turn the publishing world on its feet yet point it in a new direction few would ever venture to guess.

Galassi's words drew me in from the beginning and I never looked up until the very end. He writes like an earlier Woody Allen film - filled with black wit, charm, sophistication, and dirty, dirty secrets held lovingly by eccentrics and society's darlings. Muse was a delight to read and savour, as well as a fresh addition to the literary world. I will read anything if the story grabs me and Muse did just that. Thankfully, I found a copy of the book at a used bookstore. I wondered about the person who had it before me - did they love it? Did they feel a sense of connection with Paul as he dug further and further into his world of books? Or, did they read it, say "that's nice", and then quickly dispose of it? As much as I loved this book, I will be passing it on to people in whom I know will be able to appreciate its charm. I hope this book will continue to make its rounds to people who read it and take something away from it. Muse is about finding a place in the world when you think there is none for you, and of how words still have the power to seduce, enrage, and soothe.

Thank you, Mr. Galassi and EX LIBRIS!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Shadow of the Greyfriar






I first met Clay and Susan Griffith at DragonCon several years ago. They were, and still are, some of the nicest people I've ever met. I picked up a copy of Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar, published through PYR Books, and later devoured it that night, only to return to their table the next day to purchase the second book in the trilogy. I devoured that one as well yet waited several years to purchase the third book. When I finally made that purchase, I decided to return to their Vampire world and found myself loving the story all over again.

It is the year 2020 and vampires rule most of the major cities in the northern part of the world, while the majority of humans are either bred as food for the vampires, or they live in the Southern cities as vampires don't truly care for warmer climates. Princess Adele, heir to the Empire Equatoria, is also quite a wielder with weapons against vampires. However, when her airship is caught unawares by a vampire attack, she is soon rescued by the enigmatic and dashing Greyfriar, the hero of Humankind and the scourge of vampires! As the Greyfriar continues to protect Adele from the vampires, her Intended, a brash and uncouth man, promises to tear Heaven and Hell apart to find her . . . . and start a war with the vampires to further his glory and fame. However, Adele has another "friend" - Prince Gareth, a kindhearted vampire who rules in Scotland and the elder son of King Dimitri in England. Unlike the other vampires and his younger and bloodthirsty brother Cesare, Gareth wishes to understand humans in a better way. He sees Adele as a way to understand them better while Adele sees him as something else.

This book is an excellent mixture of alternative history, vampires, romance, and action! I'm glad that I'm reading it again, because it feels even better the second time around. Adele is not your typical "woman who swoons at everything" - she holds her own, can kick many a vampire's ass, yet knows how to be reasonable and even forgiving when it comes to Gareth. Although Gareth is a "kind" vampire to his human subjects, he is still a VAMPIRE. He will kill and drink blood because that is his nature. Yet, when he attempted to learn how to write like a human . . . . yeah, my heart just melted. BIG crush on Gareth - I had forgotten how much I truly liked him.

I know that there is a new book involving Adele and Gareth - it will soon be purchased by me because I love their relationship. They learn from each other and yet are clearly their own person/vampire. The love they have for each other will never die.

Thank you, Clay and Susan - I hope I will see you two soon!

EX LIBRIS!

The Lifestyle of Tea!





Several years ago, I attended a Japanese tea ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the ceremony lasted only fifteen minutes, something inside of me changed. I wanted to learn more about tea, known as the Elixir of Life. I experimented with different kinds of green tea, followed by white tea, and black tea, until soon I opened my own tea blend company as well as began studying towards my certification as a Tea Professional. Thanks to the World Tea Academy, I began to see tea in a different and more complex way. Through my journey in tea, I collected books regarding tea and its history. However, I had no idea that I had a copy of the book Tea Here Now by Donna Fellman and Lhasha Tizer - Donna Fellman is currently my sensei at the World Tea Academy!

Tea Here Now is a great introduction into incorporating tea into your life. Beginning with an introduction by Tea Master James Norwood Pratt, this book was a delightful read. From learning about the history of tea, to understanding the Way of Tea or Chado, to creating your own tea ceremony to share with friends and loved ones, Tea Here Now is an amazing book that you will enjoy repeatedly. When I began reading this book, I knew that I wanted to pause and reflect - I decided to read a chapter every day and to quietly reflect on it with a cup of tea. Each chapter was a trip to a secluded place, hidden among a grove of trees and a pot of oolong tea waiting for me. Fellman and Tizer tell of their experiences with tea and how it has changed their lives. Soon, you will want to change your life as well with tea.

Next week, I'll be traveling to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the Midwest Tea Festival! If you're going to attend, be sure to find me and maybe we can have a cup!

Within three weeks, I'll be hosting my first tea education workshop - a full hour of meditation, reflection, and learning more about tea as well as Chado. I hope to make my sensei proud.

Brew up a cup of Taiwanese oolong (one of my favourite teas), get a copy of Tea Here Now, and relax and rejuvenate with a Tea Lifestyle!




Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Chosen One of the Toshigawa!





As I stated recently, I love delving into new comic book worlds. Although I am BIG fan of Moon Knight, I also love anything that has good illustration, well written story, and characters that I care about. Thanks to Martheus Wade and MAW Productions, Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa has been added to my Comic Book List.

The story is thus: Shianndrea Toshigawa is the Chosen One, the only one able to stop the evil plans of the KNAVE as they try to take over the world. As the Toshigawa clan has ruled Japan for many years, one of it's members turned evil and became the leader of the KNAVE. He plans to destroy the Toshigawa clan as well as his daughter, Shianndrea! Yet, she is more than an able fighter and proves that she has powers and skills far beyond that of any mortal person.

In Crucible, we get to see Shianndrea in the time before she truly takes the title of the Chosen One, as she does battle with Taki Soto, the most feared female warrior in Japan and her former trainer. Does Shianndrea have what it takes to become the Chosen One? Read Crucible and find out!

As much as people enjoy the comics from DC and Marvel, there are plenty of other comics out there that are just as good - Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa is one of them. Filled with blazing action, this comic is an excellent step into the Toshigawa world. I look forward to reading more of Jetta!

HAI!


Athens for the Intellectual





When I read a recent interview of author Rachel Cusk in The New Yorker, I grinned. It had been quite some time since I last read her works and now, thanks to the article, I would return to her world of words. Outline, the first book of a trilogy, was a nice refresher. The story is thus: a female writer travels to Athens, Greece to teach a writing class. Along the way, she engages in conversations with elderly bachelors, other writers, lesbians who dreams strange dreams, and others. We join the writer on her adventures through the ancient city as we are also exposed to her life and background as well.

We begin the story with the narrator on a flight to Athens as she begins her travels through conversations with an elderly man. After their initial getting to know each other, the man continues to be a part of the narrator's life as she lives and works in Athens. From there, it seems that the narrator doesn't really live but rather floats from one conversation to another during the extremely hot summer. Each person she speaks with adds a little more to her life as well as breathing more life into the city. Even her students taking her course have stories to tell, even when one thinks of her as being a poor teacher.

Cusk is, in my opinion, reminds me of Ian McEwan or A. S. Byatt - British authors who seemingly write for those who enjoy their intellect to be stimulated. I adore Cusk's writing in that it is sparse yet lyrical. She makes you feel what the others are feeling with little intent or without overly flowery phrases. I will admit, however, that although the book is only a little over 200 pages, this book must be read slowly. You can't treat Cusk's books like a "quick read at the beach". You must sample her words carefully, like enjoying a five course meal with wine. Yet, in that slow style of reading, the book is worth it. I look forward to reading Transit very soon but in the meantime, I finally have a copy of her work Saving Agnes.

EX LIBRIS!


Friday, August 18, 2017

It's . . . . HELVIS!





I first met filmmaker and too cool dude Mike McCarthy while purchasing a copy of his film, Cigarette Girl (awesome dystopian film - must see!) but we really didn't converse until a while later. Mike McCarthy is very much a staple of Memphis - his house is a lovely shrine to the city, Elvis, and anything that was cool before "cool" was cool. When I learned that he would host a signing for HELVIS, his latest work, I knew I had to have it. HELVIS is a wild ride through the Underground with our "hero" Helvis as he meets comic censors of the past, comic book guru William M. Gaines, Grim Reapers who really DIGG it, almost dead demonic lovers, and . . . the Green Bay Packers?! Combined with crazy illustrations and satirical writing that pokes fun at those within and on the outside of fringe, HELVIS is for those who get their kicks outside of the norm!

The only question I have for McCarthy is this - when will the next installment come out? I read the book twice and am ready for more! Much thanks to 901 Comics for hosting the signing (go check them out - cool selection and one of the owners does an excellent cosplay of Moon Knight!) and thanks again to McCarthy in continuing to be an artist who does his own thing, Memphis style!

Before I forget - great usage of the Zippin Pippin! For those of you who don't know, the Zippin Pippin was a wooden roller coaster from our now gone amusement park, Libertyland. The Pippin was a simple roller coaster yet it provided much entertainment for the citizens of Memphis and beyond. Elvis used to open the park late at night or shut it down so that he could enjoy the ride without dealing with the crowds and screaming fans.

Yep, what a cool ride . . . . in the UNDERGROUND!


EX LIBRIS!




Friday, August 11, 2017

Flash Story - Easy Chinese





Monica decided that the fast food-esque Chinese place would suffice for her sudden craving of crab wontons and noodles. An Asian man turned hipster stood before her in line as he complained to the young person behind the order booth that he had been charged for rice. As the young employee explained the additional charge in a rapid tone, the customer said in the air fitting for the Haves, "I eat here everyday, so I know about the rice." Monica wanted to asked him if his life as home was that dreary that he had to come here to eat every day, only to stop herself from creating even more embarrassment. She soon placed her order then found herself seated at one of the tables by the windows. She pulled out her latest read written by a female British author who seemed to be out of touch with the world and dove in, only to stop when her food arrived. Monica dug in as her hunger took over and had to admit to herself that the food truly wasn't that bad. She tore into her crab wontons while Coldplay played through the speaker system, calming everyone down just enough so they could enjoy their lettuce wraps that much better. Her Asian salad met with the same fate as her wontons while her book lay near her arm, momentarily forgotten. Several minutes and two empty plates later, Monica resumed her reading as her quite tasty and hip Chinese food settled in her stomach, dissolving her latest panic attack that led her to the restaurant in the first place.


Monday, July 24, 2017

Blackface with a Banjo







I never thought that I would enjoy a book regarding blackface in America, yet I did. Author Tom Piazza has done it again with his latest novel, A Free State. Just when I thought that City of Refuge  and Why New Orleans Matters clearly showed Piazza's talents as an author, A Free State proves it even more in a grander way. 

The story is thus: James Douglass, a white man living in Philadelphia in 1855, makes his living by performing as part of a minstrel troupe known as the Virginia Harmonists. He with three other white men blacken their faces and "pretend" to be happy go lucky Negroes who sing songs and perform about the "good ol' days" of living in the South. One day, he has the chance to listen to a young light skinned black man named Henry perform with only his voice and a banjo and soon, James is swept away with the music. While he and his fellow musicians perform under a guise of being black, Henry performs as a true black man with a soul that is both beautiful and broken. James invites him to be a part of the group, an unheard of thing as black people were not allowed to perform on stage. Yet, Henry has a plan that will help James as well as cover his murky past, as he is pursued by a ruthless and sadistic slave hunter named Tull.

Although I flew through this book, I still felt anger at such a point of history in this country. There was nothing "happy" about being a slave in the South, yet the minstrels showed quite the opposite: big smiles, loud mismatched clothes, and music to soothe or ignite under a guise of blackened faces. Piazza, in his dazzling style of writing, gives us a raw look at this form of "entertainment" without holding back. He makes us aware of what was accepted in those days and how, even now, skin colour still plays a heavy role in today's society. 

The scene in which Tull "speaks" with Henry's mother was terrifying to me. I knew that something dreadful would happen to her, yet I couldn't look away from the words. When Henry left the plantation, he made a promise to return for his family and get them safely away. Tull, as hired by the plantation master and Henry's father, Stephens, stops at nothing to locate the "property", even going so far as to mutilate or cause great harm to those who cross his path. Although Henry seems to stay several steps ahead of Tull, Tull is like a dog with its favourite chew toy. I did have some sympathy for James: although he blackens his face for a living, he appeared to be more than that. He sees Henry almost as a friend and understands, too late I think, the true ramifications of his actions.

Piazza wanted to know my thoughts on this book - beautiful in a chilling and disturbing way. 

I honestly hope Henry made it to Canada. 

EX LIBRIS!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Monster of the Mansion





Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is one of my favourite novels and classic films. Boris Karloff played the part of the Monster rather well. His face is the one that sticks in my mind whenever I think of the Monster. I also enjoyed the Monster in Penny Dreadful, for he showed intelligence, cognitive skills, and the ability to live among men without raising too much suspicion. At the end of the novel, the Monster tells Walton that he will kill himself then drifts out to the arctic sea on an ice raft. Yet, what if the Monster decided not to kill himself but rather live? Thanks to the digest novel Monster in the Mansions by Lou Mougin and published through ProSe Productions, the answer to the question is given.

The Monster does not die but rather decides to live. He leaves the arctic land in search of a new life, one that (he thinks) may get him away from his bloody past. Mougin provides a story that is filled with seafaring action, treachery, growing sympathy for the Monster, and even one of the most unique death scenes I've read in a long time - it involves peeing. Adam Frank/Frank Cain is a terror to behold on the seas, yet he maintains his Beast and uses it only when necessary. Through much bloodshed and ships plundered, he finally reaches his destination of South America. Will South America prove to be the Monster's place of final peace, or the continuation of his Hell on Earth? Read the book and find out! This was my first time reading Mougin and I found myself flying through the digest novel with great pleasure. Although the ending felt like a cliffhanger to me, it was nonetheless satisfying. Highly recommended for those who enjoyed Frankenstein as well as for those who love well written stories regarding the sea and naval fiction.

EX LIBRIS!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Flash Story - For the Love of Satie



She walked into the room, the one that smelled of lavender. He played in that room only yesterday, yet the final notes still lingered in the room. When he played the piano, she was on his mind. He caressed the keys as though it was her neck or delicate arms that he loved to kiss after drinking wine. Each note played was a declaration of his love for her. She walked up to the piano and touched the keys that were still warm from his last performance. Just then, she felt his hand touch the back of her neck, his slender fingers barely brushing through her hair. She leaned into him and sighed as his lavender scented shirt enfolded her in a double lover's embrace. The faint sounds of Erik Satie now moved through the room, replacing his ghostlike fragments of music.

(model - Jean Marie, copyright 2014)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

City of Refuge, City of Hope




I was first introduced to New Orleans when I was very young. My mother used to take me down there for Mardi Gras and then later, Jazz Fest. While we were in the Crescent City, we would spend time in the French Quarter, soaking in all of the history, food, culture, decadence that the city had to offer. Although I no longer go to Mardi Gras with my parents, I still visit the city while I'm attending conventions as an author guest, or just visiting friends for the hell of it. There is no other city like New Orleans and that is the solid truth.

Author Tom Piazza's book, City of Refuge, shows the city in all its glory as we are introduced to Craig Donaldson, a white man from the Midwest who lives in NOLA with his family and SJ, a black man born and raised in NOLA who lives in the Ninth Ward. Both men love the city in their own way and what She has to offer. Everyone who lives in NOLA understands that they live in a "soup bowl" well below sea level. Hurricanes are, unfortunately, a part of their lives - get news of the hurricane, pack up and board up the house, leave for a while, then return and slowly return to a normal life. However, when Hurricane Katrina (or as I've heard NOLA people call her The Bitch) arrives, the two men must make desperate decisions to ensure the safety of their friends and loved ones, not mention themselves. Lives are lost, houses destroyed, and true darkness settles into the city as well as those who left and those who stayed. While Craig and his family escape to Chicago, SJ fights to help those who remained behind while getting his family to safety. When the water finally recedes, choices are made with tears and rage as NOLA struggles to regain Her life.

(Oak Street)

I'll be blunt - I couldn't put this damn book down. Piazza blew me away with his writing, although it was no surprise to me. I first read his book, Why New Orleans Matters, several years ago and fell in love with not only his words but with NOLA all over again. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Jazz Fest and he was quite a delight. City of Refuge needs to be read by those who have never lived in NOLA and wondered about what really happened during the time of Katrina. The book is also for those who are already in love with NOLA. I will admit that this book brought tears to my eyes many times while reading, mainly because my mind thought about my NOLA friends who dealt with Katrina and what they had to do to evacuate. Even my ex told me his story of how he, his wife at the time, and their child stayed in the Convention Center and the conditions they endured while there. My dad went down there when he worked for State Farm and he told us stories of what he saw. My mom soon joined him and told me of the water lines on the houses and how she only saw two people wandering around as she explored what she could at the time. During one of my recent trips down there, I drove through neighbourhoods that still had the spray paint markers on the houses while the water lines were faint yet still there.



Some claimed the storm to be the work of God trying to flush out the evil in NOLA. Others couldn't feel anything at all except to get through the water. Piazza's novel threw me right in the middle of the water that flooded the streets. I saw the floating bodies, the cars that ended up in people's backyards. I wanted to hug Lucy as she and SJ stayed upstairs while the water continued to rise. I was even with Craig as he sat in the coffee shop in the suburbs of Chicago, looking around at all of the white people in their comfort zones, while he felt anger towards them because they had no idea.

I can't recommend this book enough to people. Please, read City of Refuge.

Tom, I hope we can have a cup of tea sometime. By the way, thanks for mentioning some of my favourite places like Igor's and Rue de la Course on Oak Street - I always go to the coffee shop first then Blue Cypress Books afterwards. It's a ritual of mine.

(upstairs at Rue de la Course)

EX LIBRIS!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Flash Story - Creative Starvation



Emma watched the play with interest; it had been quite some time since she last went to the theatre. She used to treat herself to the theatre, followed by either dinner out somewhere followed by a nice cup of tea. Unfortunately, she stopped going after she started dating Paul, a nice guy who had no interest in anything that would stimulate his mind. Before long, several months passed and soon, she dumped Paul and returned to herself, gathering up the lost pieces she so carelessly threw aside when she was “in love”. Now that she was happily single again, she resumed her theatre nights. As she watched the actors perform the drama with great earnest, Emma recognized one of the actresses. There was Matilda, an older woman who used to work with her at her corporate job until she decided to quit to pursue her career as an actress. Emma had dreams of becoming a full time novelist yet decided to remain at her current job until she was able to make enough through sales of her first novel before leaving. She knew that both Matilda and her husband were actors and, although they did not make much, they both had passion for what they did.


Creative people, like Matilda and Emma, were driven by their passions no matter where they lay, but Emma knew that she had to eat and do more than just survive. Those thoughts drove her as she worked nightly on her second novel. When Emma saw her friend on the stage doing her best (which was always damn near perfect) she felt glad for her friend and wished her nothing but luck. Once the play finished, Emma went home to change clothes and then left out again to find a coffee shop to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey tea while reading. Emma put in one of her jazz CDs as she drove and hummed along with the bebop melody while her eyes scanned the streets. Suddenly, Emma saw an older woman dressed in shabby clothes clutching a bright red bag on her shoulder as she trudged along the sidewalk. It was Matilda. She passed Matilda by, wondering why she didn’t have a car to get herself home. Emma thought about slowing down so she could give Matilda a ride to her home yet hesitated in her actions. Something inside of her did not want to carry out the action. Emma listened to that part of her mind and drove off as the silhouetted figure of Matilda struggled with her belongings. Emma was an artist who did not want to live a starving life like her comrades. Ten minutes later, she had forgotten her dilemma as she  walked into the coffee shop with thoughts of Earl Grey and the plot of her novel in progress.  

(model - Jean Marie Sheridan - copyright 2014)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Love and Games in Buenos Aires







Happy Independence Day!


I was surprised to read negative reviews on The Foreigners by Maxine Swann. Someone wrote that they wanted to read about Buenos Aires and that this book did not talk about the city at all. Yet, I thought the complete opposite. The book IS about Buenos Aires, as seen through the eyes of three extremely different women - Daisy, a divorced American who travels to the city to get away from her past; Isolde, a lonely Austrian woman who finds comfort in the arts; and Leonarda, an Argentine woman whose moods and looks change from moment to moment. These three women present the city in all its beautiful and seedy glory as they attempt to make a life for themselves. Swann's writing reminds me of my friend's work, author Elise Blackwell - dreamlike, engaging, and well told.

Daisy, after arriving in the city, sets up in a less than desirable apartment while attempting to work on a grant project. She meets Leonarda through an ad for people who want to learn English, only to find out that Leonarda speaks perfect English. Together, the two embrace danger while telling lie on top of lie, all the while giving into what they desire. Leonarda even asks Daisy for help in a Master Plan - an attempt to seduce a well known Argentine man, yet Daisy suspects that even darker forces are at work. Isolde comes into the picture through Daisy and is shown to be a woman who wants something yet is not really sure what it is. She is herself when it comes to cocktail parties and art openings but without it, she is like a canvas with no paint. The three women go in search of what they think will make them happy and as it turns out, it's not what they expected.

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book, yet once I began reading Daisy's words, I found that I couldn't put it down. I turned each page, wondering what they were going to do next. Would they accept that invitation to that party? How far would Daisy allow herself to fall with Leonarda leading her? Would Isolde ever be happy by being alone? Is Leonarda really who she says she is? I found this to be a quick and most enjoyable read and, like so many other authors I've recently read, I look forward to reading more of Swann's work.

EX LIBRIS!


Monday, July 3, 2017

The OTHER Side of California






When I first watched the film Deliverance, I had no idea that it would be THAT intense. Although I've seen it twice (yeah, I didn't learn my lesson after watching it the FIRST time!), the film is forever burned in my mind. Stories like that are hard to forget - big city folks wanting to spend time in peaceful Nature, only to have their world flipped upside down. The book Lost Canyon by author, teacher, and activist Nina Revoyr feels the same way.

I do want to say that this is by far the most multicultural book I've ever read. The story is thus: four people from Los Angeles - a half Japanese half white fitness instructor with a taste for reckless adventure, a young black woman who gives hope to those who have none, a Hispanic man involved in the real estate business, and a white man who lives the life of the upper crust - seek something more in Life. Tracy (the fitness instructor) decides to get her clients together for a camping weekend in the Sierra Nevada. Backpacking, hiking, roughing it in Nature, and being able to "get away" from it all. Each comes to the event with trepidation, excitement, and fear yet they all decide to go anyway. And that is when the shit hits the fan. Soon, they realize that the Sierra Nevada is truly untamed and wild but not in a good way. And it will take every ounce of their willpower and strength to overcome it.

This book had me riveted from page one to the satisfying end even though I had questions that I don't think have any answers. Each of the characters is real and not the "token" of their race. They are all Americans, all used to the comforts of home in LA. They are used to the occasional bouts of racism and they shrug their shoulders at it. It's all a part of living in the 21st century - we may be advanced in technology but skin colour is still a problem. Yet, these characters come out of this story transformed in a better way. The colour lines fall down and all we have left are Americans, people, human beings who can love and look out for each other. It gave me hope.

Revoyr also describes the Sierra Nevada right down to the rocks and flowers. I was right there with the four as they endured their long hikes through the "too beautiful to be real" areas. Her descriptions were just enough to give me a mental picture as I read. I almost expected to smell the clean mountain air wafting from the pages. Even when they faced multiple dangers (won't tell you what they are!), the area provided a beautiful backdrop. Death lived among untouched beauty.

Thank you, Nina. I'll be reading more of your work very soon.

EX LIBRIS!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Witch and The Mute




The Cove by author and professor Ron Rash reads like a dark dream. We don't want to make up from it, yet its dangerous beauty will long linger in our minds. I had always been told that North Carolina was "different" with regards to the people, the "feeling", even the attitude. The Cove is proof of that Otherworldy strangeness in that state. The story is thus: it's the height of World War I and the world is gripped by fear. Even small town Mars Hill, North Carolina feels the shock waves of the war. However, they are also concerned about Laurel Shelton, the lonely and beautiful woman who lives in the Cove, a place that few visit. The townspeople fear her because they think her to be a witch, yet she is a harmless woman with a rather large birthmark and an affinity for herbal folk cures. Her brother, Hank, has returned from the war minus one hand, yet it does not slow him down as he assists in repairing their house and farmlands. However, one day, Laurel hears strange music by the river and discovers a young man with a silver flute. He plays with a gift that is beyond normal and Laurel is drawn to it and soon later, the man himself. Soon, the man who can not speak becomes a fixture at the house, giving Laurel moments of happiness, yet it comes with a price. The townsfolk are searching for Germans or "Huns" and their supporters, considering them to be the enemy of the United States of America. And soon, they will find their way to the Cove to sate their lust for blood and revenge. 

I absolutely loved this tragic novel and the characters who were resigned to their fate. Rash guides you by the hand back in time and delivers a story that is both powerful and mesmerizing. As I neared the end, I didn't want to leave the young "witch" and her mute friend to the limited mindset of Mars Hill. Both were more than the town yet circumstances prevented such obvious conclusions and gives the reader instead what could only be their fate. Laurel reminded me of my friends who are very much in tune with Nature and it's a beautiful thing. They live according to the "rules" of Nature and do more than just exist. Although very few people would even speak with Laurel, she lived her life in her own way and would play up the "evil witch" part if someone thought they could get the upper hand on her. Yet, when she meets Walter the mute, she realizes that even she can experience love and true kindness. 

I will admit that I loved reading about the food that Laurel cooked - from pumpkin pie to blackberry pie, to cornbread with blackberry jam, to snap beans. She claimed the kitchen as her own and spread her magick to even there. I would have enjoyed eating her warm cornbread with blackberry jam, plus a cup of homemade muscadine wine as we sit on the steps, while listening to a mute man play his silver flute. 

Welcome to the magick of North Carolina.

EX LIBRIS!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Aliens, Sex, and GORE!





Nineteen pages into Night Creeps by Michael D'Ambrosio and I was already gagging. So much gore, so much alien sex . . . I LOVED IT! From the first page all the way to the (literally) bloody end, I was gripped by the story and the characters of good, evil, and even more evil. So much torn flesh . . .

The story is thus: small town Parmissing Valley soon "welcomes" three new visitors - aliens from another world who are bent on destruction, control of the "stupid" human masses, and eating human flesh. The aliens Grimwold, Shurek, and Kroll have the uncanny ability to turn humans into either flesh eating ravaging mutants or half alien half human beings that are linked through the mind. The three descend upon the town without a second thought and eat their way through with glee. They soon get the "brilliant" idea to turn three women - Jane, Suzie, and Pam - into their "companions". However, all goes to hell in an entrails covered hand basket as the body count increases, betrayals are made with fanged glee, and long wiggling tongues are used in the most unique way. Oh and did I mention strange pulsing lumps of DNA? Or eggs with tentacles? Or jellyfish looking creatures with a higher intelligence than the entire planet????

Like I said earlier, this book had me gagging all the way through and yet I couldn't put it down. Although the majority of the book was gore and really, really kinky alien sex scenes, the book held enough humour, action, and twists to make for a damn good read. This book reminded me of the film Tremors and in a good way (if you've never seen that film, I highly recommend watching it!) There are only four authors that have ever made me gag and want to vomit repeatedly - Alexander S. Brown, Jason Fedora, Clive Barker, and Michael D'Ambrosio. Yet, all four of these authors can tell a story rather well, showing off their creativity. Three of them I call good friends. Even if you take the gore out of their stories, they still are worthwhile reads. I highly recommend these four if you are into horror, splatterpunk, dark fantasy, and just good books.

While doing the social media research for this review, I noticed that there is a Night Creeps II on the AZ Publishing website. . . . . . I'm really not sure if I want to read it . . . . . yeah, I probably will!

EX LIBRIS!







Thursday, June 22, 2017

Speak the Word ASHMITA Again





ASHMITA!

When you hear that word, be warned and look up in the sky to see a bolt of blue flying through the heavens! It's Bombay Sapphire, the superhero and servant of Agni, the Indian god of storms! Episode II - The Deccan Dholes, written by Tyree Campbell, head of Alban Lake Publishing, picks up the story a year after the first book, with more action, more of the fight between good and evil, and even . . . . romance?

Nakushi, a young Indian woman whose name means Unwanted, still fights the good fight for her beloved India of the 1960s as Bombay Sapphire, all the while assisting soldiers as they face a new enemy - China. She is also still in pursuit of locating her sister who ran away as well as taking down the Deccan Dholes' crime boss. However, Ganesh Bose, leader of the Dholes, has been searching for her as well, requiring the assistance of an immortal giant named Kazeem. And, to top it all off, she must fight the greatest enemy of all - LOVE. Bombay Sapphire may be the kick ass servant of Agni, but does she have what it takes to take down an immortal, not to mention a civil engineer who may be falling for her? Read Episode II and find out!

I knew that Episode II would be just as good as the first book, yet I will admit that this book was a bit darker with regards to the sick pleasures of Bose and Kazeem. However, the action and cast of characters against the backdrop of India is more than enough to make you want to fly through the book. One MAJOR kudos that I give to Campbell is that he can write women characters rather well. All of his women are intelligent, "real", have emotions yet they don't faint at the drop of a hat, and are independent. Bombay Sapphire is an amazing superhero for anyone to enjoy, but I hope that more women and young girls will pick up the two books and read them with joy. Bombay Sapphire is a hero for the downtrodden and those who feel that they have no fight in them. She will fly from her clouds, give you a smile, and let you know that you do have someone in your corner. Someone who will fight for what is right.

You can purchase Episode II through Amazon or at the ProSe Productions table at conventions, or at the Alban Lake Publishing table at conventions. I've been told that the third book is coming out soon and I look forward to devouring it! (UPDATE: the third book is OUT on Kindle so far - go check Amazon!)

ASHMITA!

EX LIBRIS!