Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: Alex Approximately

About the Book

Published by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017

GoodReads Description

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is a whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

My Thoughts

Alex, Approximately is another one of those student suggested books.  Again, by a tenth grader (I'm glad they're reading, but I wish my other classes would suggest books!)  This time, though, I told the girl she was nuts.  There was no way I would like this book.  Nevertheless, she persisted.

So, I took it home.  I cuddled up under the heaviest blankets I could find in my apartment and read the first two chapters.  I fell asleep before the second one was done.  The next day, I brought the book back to school and promptly handed it back to my student.  Again, I insisted that she was wrong and that this just wasn't the right type of book for me. Again, she persisted.  "No, Ms. J! Seriously!  You have to give it like six more chapters!  You have to try more.  It was so bad in the beginning for me too but it gets soooooooooooooo much better!"

How the heck do you say no to a high school student with bright eyes begging you to finish a book, no matter how much you hated the first two chapters.  Well, I couldn't.  Maybe there's just a better person for the job?

Anyway, the moral of this story is to listen to your students.  Apparently, mine know me better than I think they do.

Despite its slow beginning, Alex, Approximately was a rather delightful read.  Once the story really gets rolling, it's difficult to put it down for even a moment!  Bennett makes her audience want to read and read and read and read some more!

Bennett introduces her audience to a remarkably dull world in which a plethora of exciting things happen.  I love that she chooses to include a variety of museums in her writing!  Not only does this idea bring a new perspective to "dry" and "boring" museums, it introduces the kids to some other places that they may like to explore! I love that Bennett is able to confront kids with this new idea in such a fun book!

Bennett also has a remarkable talent for truly bringing her characters to life.  She is unafraid of showing both men and women at their best and worst.  She shows them when they're terrified, when they're in love, and when they are laughing and happy with friends.  My favorite character was definitely Porter.  He was such a gentleman and the way that he cares so much about Bailey really touched my heart.

However, the end of this novel was rather hastily wrapped up.  I believe that Bennett had the opportunity to do so much more with this book and she let it fall to the wayside. 

Overall, this was a very cute book.  I definitely recommend it to fans of Stephanie Meyer or Gayle Forman.

My Rating

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor: A Review

About the Book

Published September 1, 2017 by Shiloh Run Press

GoodReads Description

When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they've been striving for isn't what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

My Thoughts

Before I begin my review of this novel, I have a little story I'd like to share with you.  That story begins with an unusual friendship.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my friend.  She thinks I''m pretty neat too.  But we COULD NOT be more opposite when it comes to what we like to read.  Typically, I will go for the stranger, more fantastical books.  My friend, however, will always opt for the more comfortable, less frightening ones.  When she handed me a Christmas book to read and was certain that I would enjoy it, I thought she was out of her ever-loving mind.  But, I figured that my friends know me pretty well so at the very least I could give it a try.

I went into this novel expecting a slow-paced, pastoral description of the holiday.  I am so glad that I was wrong.

As soon as I began the novel, I fell instantly in love with Griep's writing style.  She is not afraid of following Dickens' entrancing style and she did not shy away from doing her research to ensure that she depicts the setting as accurately as possible.

Additionally, Griep wrote her characters masterfully. Not only do their names add to their personalities, they do not waver from who they are.  Each character has a very specific set of characteristics and Griep made certain that her characters followed these qualities.  Typically, I like to see change throughout a novel as the characters grow.  Griep did this in a unique way.  Instead of having their personalities completely change, they were simply modified by new information and that made all of the difference.  This is an especially effective technique near the end of the novel as the final surprises are revealed.

Benjamin Lane was most definitely my favorite character.  I adored his sense of chivalry and the way that he loved Clara despite all of their hardships.  To him, she wasn't just a prize to be won over.  She was the best thing that had ever happened to him.  She was the light in his eyes and his reason for enduring any pain or overcoming any obstacle that was put into his way.  It was a wonderful change of pace from today's society to see a man who truly loved with his heart and mind instead of man.

I absolutely loved this novel and am looking forward to reading it every Christmas.

My Rating

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: The One and Only Ivan

About the Book

Published January 17, 2012 by HarperCollins

GoodReads Description

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

My Thoughts

Most of the time, I spend my time as a teacher encouraging my students to read certain books.  Then, there are the other times that my students encourage me to pull one off of the shelf and get busy.  The One and Only Ivan was recommended to me by a sophomore boy who loves a good story.  I knew that if he was suggesting it, I was in for a good time.

Within the first ten pages, I was hooked.  I simply did not want to set it down for anything.  In fact, I woke up one morning with this book open and spread out over my face.  I swear, I was only up until midnight (which is late in the life of a teacher).

The first absolutely stunning aspect of this novel was Applegate's ability to get into the mind of a gorilla.  After looking at a variety of photos, it is obvious to me that Applegate is, after all, human.  Getting into the mind of a different person is difficult enough, let alone getting into the mind of a different species altogether!  And she did the right amount of research necessary to be able to bring some of the more instinctual and intellectual aspects of a gorilla to life.  I would not be surprised if Applegate's gorilla persona accurately portrayed what the real Ivan was thinking!  Once I was stunned by this portrayal, she stuck her mind into two elephants and a dog!  Nicely done, Ms. Applegate!

I will warn you, however, that an entire box of tissues is required for reading this novel.  Not only is there one especially unexpected sad part (Boo!) there is a very happy part that had me in tears as well.  Applegate knows how to play with her readers' emotions and does so unabashedly.

My Rating

Thursday, December 7, 2017

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas
Day 7: Pretender to the Crown by Melissa McShane

Pretender to the Crown
(The Saga of Willow North #1)
by Melissa McShane
New Adult Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 328 pages
October 30th 2017 by Night Harbor Publishing

Willow North is a thief, and despite her secret magical talent for sensing worked metal, she has never wanted to be anything else. But when her former fiancé appears on her doorstep with the eight-year-old King of Tremontane in tow, she is drawn into the political conflict surrounding the boy King's ascension. His uncle, a powerful Ascendant with the magic of manipulating the elements, murdered the old King and intends to kill young King Felix.

Willow intends only to take the boy to safety, but as the days pass, she finds herself increasingly attached to Felix and unwilling to leave him once he's safe. But the pretender to the Crown has a long reach, and as his men close in on the fugitives, it seems nowhere may be safe.

Guest Post: The Making of Willow North

Willow North, the main character of Pretender to the Crown, was never meant to be anything but a throwaway line. Background: my series The Crown of Tremontane was written out of order, with the third book, Agent of the Crown, written first. In that book, the main character, a princess and a spy, mentions Willow in passing, saying she always felt sorry for her because it was such a frivolous name. That was it—Willow was just a bud on the North family tree, a passing joke to give my spy princess depth.

I don’t remember when Willow became a real character. Certainly by the time I wrote Rider of the Crown (second book in the series, third written) because I had to go back to Servant of the Crown (first book, second written) to insert Willow and her history. At that point, she was an important figure in Tremontanan history, but I knew no more about her than that. But she had captured my imagination.

I love stories about rogues, and making Willow a thief satisfied that interest. But Willow had to be more than that; she had to be someone who could lead others. Willow starts the book a loner, focused on her work and disconnected from almost everyone around her. Throughout the course of the trilogy, she discovers she cares deeply, not only about her friends but about her country as well.

Willow also has magic in a time when the country of Tremontane is ruled by magic-wielding tyrants called Ascendants. Her relationship with magic is complicated: no one can learn she has magic, or she’ll be forced to become an Ascendant, but she depends on her magic, the ability to sense worked metal, for her living. Willow’s talent was my husband’s idea, and it’s the perfect ability for a thief to have.

It’s taken years for Willow to go from being a throwaway line to being the main character of a trilogy. I hope readers will find her as fascinating as I do.

About the Author

Melissa McShane is the author of several fantasy novels, including the Crown of Tremontane series, beginning with SERVANT OF THE CROWN, The Extraordinaries series, beginning with BURNING BRIGHT, and the trilogy Convergence. After a childhood spent roaming the United States, she settled in Utah with her husband, four children and a niece, two very needy cats, and a library that continues to grow out of control. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, which is much more fun than anyone ought to be allowed to have.

Tour Schedule

November 30th: Launch
December 1st: Sarra Cannon
December 2nd: W.R. Gingell
December 3rd: Nikki Jefford
December 4th: K. D. Jones
December 5th: M. L. LeGette
December 6th: Belle Malory
December 7th: Melissa McShane
December 8th: Sara C. Roethle
December 9th: R.K. Ryals
December 10th: Jennifer Silverwood
December 11th: Melissa Wright
December 12th: Morgan Wylie
December 13th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

1 winner will win a FIRE HD 8 TABLET from Amazon along with the following ebooks:
- TRITON'S CURSE by Sarra Cannon
- MASQUE by W.R. Gingell
- A WHITE SO RED by K.D. Jones
- THE TWELFTH KEEPER by Belle Malory
- SERVANT OF THE CROWN by Melissa McShane
- TEMPEST by R.K. Ryals
- CRAVING BEAUTY be Jennifer Silverwood
- REAWAKENED by Morgan Wylie

Open to US residents or those who are eligible for the Fire Tablet in their area (those who are not, can receive cash value through PayPal)

Ends December 17th

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Review: (Un)Graceful Cat by B.A. Gabrielle

About the Book

(Un)Graceful Cat by B.A. Gabrielle
Published December 10, 2016 by B. A. Gabrielle Books

GoodReads Description

Fifteen year old Amelia Fafnir was born into a high-class family, but she has had zero confidence ever since her mother cancelled her piano lessons and told her she had no talent. However, a shocking truth suddenly rattles her daily life. The home economics room is the base of operations for the Spirits (humans who have died with regrets and remain in the world until their regrets are erased). However, their sworn enemies are the Dark Fairies (evil beings who take advantage of human weaknesses) and their target is Amelia. Who should she trust? Which side is "good" and which is "evil"?

My Thoughts

When B.A. Gabrielle brought her novel to my attention, I was immediately pulled in by her synopsis.  This book sounded so exciting!  I could tell that she was inspired by the manga/anime that she loves and I was excited to see how that played out.  Unfortunately, there was a lot that she did really well, but more that I despised.

Gabrielle had a terrific idea for this novel.  She does a wonderful job introducing this idea and presenting it.  However, she has so many separate thoughts that it seems she doesn't know how to tie all of them together.  As a result, her story suffers and pulls away the readers' attention.

She also had a cast of wonderful characters!  They each have wonderful personalities and hidden secrets.  I loved learning about Lindow and Esther!  Mr. Shapiro was terrific!  But, again, Gabrielle has so many ideas for these characters, and so many characters, that she is unable to spend the time to completely develop them.  There is very little growth in any of the characters and, when growth is present, it feels very sudden and unrealistic.

While Gabrielle does present her audience with a terrific world and a wonderful war between good and evil, I truly believe that this book would be much more enjoyable and more suspenseful if Gabrielle took the time to better develop each aspect of her work.

My Rating

Friday, November 17, 2017

Promo Post: Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Get a whopping 20% off the regular price of Silent Meridian, a thrilling fantasy novel by Elizabeth Crowens. Check it out now.
Silent Meridian Tour Graphic
Elizabeth Crowens
Silent Meridian
Series: The Time Traveler Professor Book 1
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Gaslight Fantasy, Alternative History
Publisher: MX Publishing
Publication Date: May 15, 2016
A 19th century "X" Files meets H.G. Wells's "Time Machine" featuring Arthur Conan Doyle and partner
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert musician and paranormal investigator. Although in his humble opinion, Scott considers himself more of an ethereal archeologist and a time traveler professor.
Together they explore lost worlds and excavate realms beyond the knowledge of historians when they go back in time to find it. But everything backfires, and their friendship is tested to the limits. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future.
SILENT MERIDIAN reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other luminaries in the secret diaries of a new kind of Doctor Watson, John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. Stay tuned for A Pocketful of Lodestones; book two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.


Get 20% off your purchase of Silent Meridian! Promo valid till Christmas.
Promo Price: $13.56 (Original: $16.95)
Use coupon code: silent

Book Excerpt

Take an inside look at Silent Meridian with this thrilling excerpt!
Edinburgh, 1898
Scotland was just barely crawling its way out of the nineteenth century. I was a naïve, but ambitious student studying music at the University of Edinburgh hurrying over to meet Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who would change my life forever.
“John Patrick Scott, sir,” I said as I approached Mr. Doyle, who was already seated at a back corner table where he hoped he wouldn’t be recognized. He had picked the Deacon Brodie, the pub that inspired the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
I extended my hand to greet him and removed my rain-soaked hat, while my overcoat slipped out of my hands and fell on the floor by accident. It was still hard to believe that good fortune had finally brought us together, but we were both nervous.
“The pleasure is all mine.” Doyle responded like a father to his son.
“Mr. Conan Doyle, or should I call you Doctor Doyle?” I said unsure how to address him.
Doyle scrutinized me from top to bottom as he signaled the waiter. “John, call me Arthur,” he said casually, ignoring the tension I couldn’t control.
“Sir, I’m so honored that you agreed to discuss this matter. Perhaps you can enlighten me in a way that I’ve failed to comprehend.”
I wanted to ask him about my unusual turn of events straight away but he caught me off guard and was dead set on pulling me into the swift current of an unexpected conversation.
“Can I assume you believe in the transmigration of souls?” he asked.
“Until now, I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” I said, unsure as to which direction he was leading.
“Did you ever read those books about that Swiss doctor who felt his body and soul had been taken over by a Benedictine monk? That presented a curious case. He claims that he was approached by the spirit of an elderly monk before he died, and that the monk needed to rent his body to continue his spiritual mission.”
“Rent?” I choked in disbelief.
“We truly don’t take anything with us when we pass on, do we? This monk knew that he was dying, and therefore had to replace his physical body with something more youthful and vital.”
“That’s incredible. It debunks the theory that you have to die and be reborn as an infant to carry on your spirit,” I said.
Mr. Doyle had the tinge of excitement in his voice.
“John, here’s another instance. I’ve had my suspicions about a famous musician who had an obsession about a notorious and controversial mystic. You’d surmise by his overwhelming attraction to that person that he might’ve been him in a previous lifetime, but facts were clear that he was born three years before the mystic died. My understanding is that the mystic knew he didn’t have long in his present incarnation. Therefore he made plans for some sort of partial soul transference while he was still alive to imprint his essence upon the child. That would’ve allowed him to carry on and accomplish unfinished business that couldn’t have been executed otherwise. Essentially he had the ability of being two places at once.”
“Sounds more like Spiritualism,” I replied.
“Honestly, John, I don’t think there are any steadfast rules when it comes to this matter. That’s what makes it so intriguing.”
I sensed he had a secret agenda.
Doyle reloaded his churchwarden pipe with fresh tobacco and continued, “This is not at all like anything you’ve ever read from H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. We’re poking holes in every treatise written on the subject— the idea of being able to reincarnate a part of yourself while you are still alive into another soul.”
Our conversation was quickly becoming like a speeding train ready to jump the tracks. Realizing this, Doyle slowed down the pace and took a deep breath. He carefully composed his next statement.
“Fiction it may seem to be but it’s not hocus pocus. Don’t you also find it strange that you somehow found yourself initiated into a mystical order on a commuter train bound from London to Edinburgh when the instigators kept on mistaking you for me? There are no accidents.”

About Elizabeth Crowens

Elizabeth Crowens
Elizabeth Crowens is the pen name author of SILENT MERIDIAN, an alternate history/ 19th century “X Files” alternate history novel published by MX Publishing in London. Recently she won First Prize in Chanticleer Review's Goethe Award for Turn-of-the-Century Historical Fiction, is on the short list of finalists for Chanticleer’s 2016 Cygnus Awards for Speculative Fiction, Paranormal and the Ozma Award for Fantasy Fiction and received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s fiction short story contest for Emerging Writers. She has also published a variety of non-fiction articles and is currently writing a column called The Poison Apple in the World Fantasy and Alfie Award-winning publication,
Recently, she participated on panels at The World Fantasy Convention, MidAmericon II/Worldcon, Lunacon, Heliosphere, the Writer's Digest Conference, Queens Book Festival, Philcon and was also interviewed for the radio show, Hour of the Wolf. A Pocketful of Lodestones, the sequel to Silent Meridian is awaiting a publication date. Current work-in-progress is Dear Mr. Hitchcock, a psychological/domestic suspense novel/series.
A 15-year veteran of the film industry in Hollywood, she’s also an alumnus of Algonkian workshops and the Gotham Writer’s Workshop and a member of the Horror Writers Association, Historical Writers of America and Mystery Writers of America. An active Sherlockian, she’s lectured on Arthur Conan Doyle, belongs to several Sherlockian scions, and is an independent scholar on Eastern and Western mysticism and Jungian psychology. A blackbelt in martial arts, she’s lived in Japan. Currently, she lives in New York City.
Connect with Elizabeth Crowens on social media:

In partnership with
Book Unleashed Logo

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Cover Reveal! The Spitting Post by Jason R. Barden

The Spitting Post
Jason R. Barden
Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: December 8, 2017
Vincent must find the Spitting Post, but only the purple swan knows the way.
Vincent Carpenter’s life is a wreck. He has given up his dreams. He has lost his job after an economic disaster. His ten-year marriage is crumbling. Then he awakens in a maniacal land of frighteningly vivid realism with skull trees, glowing forests, ravenous beasts, and other psychologically haunting adversity.
While traveling through this demented unearthly world, he has a chance encounter with a beautiful maiden dressed in green; before he can start a conversation, she disappears into the unknown. Vincent must try to find her at a fantastical place known as the Spitting Post. But first he must overcome many macabre misfortunes and face nightmares that question his sanity. Will he reach her? What will the Spitting Post reveal? Will he suffer more disappointment and tragedy? Or will he find peace at last?

Pre-Order Links

The Spitting Post Teaser

About Jason R. Barden

Jason R. Barden
Jason R. Barden began writing poetry around the age of thirteen. At age thirty three he decided to transition into fiction writing with his first novel The Spitting Post. In addition to writing he enjoys hiking and photography. Jason lives in Fort Worth, Texas where he is currently working on a collection of his poems.
Follow Jason on Facebook at Facebook.
The Spitting Post Tour Graphic
For more information, visit The Spitting Post Book Page at Book Unleashed.

About The Wild Rose Press

The Wild Rose Press
The Wild Rose Press has been publishing electronic and print titles of fiction for more than nine years. Our titles span the sub-genre spectrum from sweet to sensually erotic romance in all lengths to mainstream and womens fiction. To check out the latest and upcoming releases and more, visit
Social media: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

In partnership with
Book Unleashed Logo

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Review: Santa Muerte by Lucina Stone

About the Book

Published January 14, 2016

This book discusses sex, suicide, rape, and abusive relationships.  It may not be suitable for some audiences.

GoodReads Description

THE YEAR IS 2030. IN A DRAMATIC, final attempt to free her inner demons, twenty-year-old Daniela Delgado tempts fate and winds up on a strange farm in 1923. With an olive complexion due to her Mexican/Italian heritage and a fresh pixie cut, she is mistaken for a "boy of color." Her only shot at survival now is to play it cool, pose as "Danny," and figure out how to get back home to her two, loving moms. And then she meets Daphne-an abused, motherless farm girl in desperate need of freedom and a friend. Having escaped Daphne's father, the two of them are now roaming the streets of New York City disguised as a young aristocrat and her male servant. They're running out of money, and ideas. And Daniela thought living in 2030 was tough. But her solar powered smart phone works. And there's someone within range. She pings them. A selfie of an attractive male comes in with the text: I'm Lain. Who the f--- are you? Even in that moment, Daniela knows this can't be safe, but what are her choices? They meet Lain at a speakeasy on the Lower East Side. When Daniela reveals her last name, Lain says the only Delgado he knows is Anaya-the head of the Santa Muerte Coven of witches in Merida, Mexico. And then he hints that Daniela is a liar, even though she rocks a man's three-piece suit like no woman he's ever met. And as for her tattoos? Don't get Lain started.... Despite the intrigue, Daniela adds Lain to the list of folks Daphne and she must outrun to stay alive. But as they plan their trip to Mexico, they soon discover that list is much longer than they thought. And they uncover a few other things, too, about Daniela's true identity....

My Thoughts

Before we talk about the contents of this book, can we just stare at that beautiful cover for a few more moments?  That duality is so gorgeous and so meaningful to the plot! OH!  I liked it before I read the book, but now that I see the significance, I'm drooling for it.  It's one of the most perfectly fitting covers I've seen in a long time.

Stone drew me in with a captivating prologue.  She didn't spare a single one of my emotions throughout this section.  Emma was beautifully created as a rebellious and intelligent individual.  I loved it.

Chapter 1, however, was where Stone began to let me down.  I know that she was trying to show Daniela's level of depression and hopelessness, but I think this was done pretty weakly.  I would have liked to see Daniela as a little colder and more hardened as she began to go through her plan. Luckily, Stone made a wonderful comeback and worked diligently to develop Lain, Daphne, and Daniela as better characters throughout the remainder of the novel.  These characters began as little weaklings and grew into strong, matured characters by the end of the novel.

The violence in this piece was written beautifully!  I loved the imagery that Stone obviously put a good amount of time and effort into!  Lain getting the S*** beat out of him was LEGENDARY!  His fear was so realistic it seemed to rise above the page.  

The most confusing aspect of this book is the coven itself.  I have no idea what was going on there.  I understand that they're witches.  I get that they use magic and are immortal.  I have no idea how it's escaped both Emma and Daniela for so long that they have these powers.  I feel like those would be a nuisance to both ladies before they knew what was going on.  And, if it's a nuisance to Emma, shouldn't it have also been a nuisance to Emma's wife?  

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I'm looking forward to the second book in the series because I want to see how my many remaining questions are answered.

My Rating

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Guest Post: Euphrates Moss

Welcome to Today's Guest Post!

I am excited to share a guest post by Euphrates Moss.  In case you missed it, I reviewed his book Telos and Other Psychographs several months ago.  If you are interested in what I thought, you can find that review here.

Today, Moss joins us to tell about his adventure as a writer.  I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on his essay, "From Nobody to Writer," in the comments below.

Just Who is this Euphrates Moss Character?

Euphrates Moss attended Bellevue College, Portland State University, and Seattle University. He currently holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Seattle U. Don't hold it against him. He currently hosts a podcast that has absolutely nothing to do with his poetry under a different name.

From Nobody To Writer

I’m a die-hard English stylist. Well, to put it this way, if William Shakespeare and James Joyce are where the bar is set for stylists then I am absolutely going that direction. For those of you don’t know me, hi, I’m Euphrates Moss and I wrote and self-published a book called Telos and Other Psychographs. This is the story behind the making of the book.
            At age 21 I took a class on American literature in community college that changed the direction of my life. Like most kids up until that point I was shamefully unexposed and unaware of poetry. Sure, I’d read Shakespeare in high school, but it was gobbledegook to me at that point, but poetry was simply NOT part of the curriculum (which I find to be a shame). The American literature class did cover poetry from three American poets, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and T.S. Eliot. When I read what these folks had to say I was instantly smitten.
            What was this bravery I saw in Whitman? This economy of words with Dickinson? These multifarious references from Eliot? I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Never did I experience anything like that before.
            I had been writing for quite some time until that point, but I could neither copy the easy-going humor of Mark Twain nor copy the complex plotting of Charles Dickens. And it was copying I would’ve been doing if I were successful, but I wasn’t. I had a novel I was working on called A True Love– kinda like that sort of thing just doesn’t exist, and I was going for that classic. I thought if I’m dry enough but the English is good I can be Dickensian, maybe.
            The poetry threw all that garbage right out the window. I completely re-oriented myself and went through an epiphany of the Romantic sort. My instructors (there were two for this class, it was slightly idiosyncratic) told me that having a Romantic epiphany was not the same as an epiphany in the religious sense. A Romantic epiphany was any time the universe had made its mysterious workings apparent. At least that’s what I got from it. An epiphany could be you playing a real good game of basketball, making all the shots. An epiphany could be you trying some really delicious ice cream. An epiphany was really just a state of heightened realization. Suddenly I was a poet rather than a novelist.
            Since this was a different person than I’d ever met before I needed to be re-christened. I went through a few names before finally landing on Euphrates Moss. I had a nervous breakdown which is chronicled in the poem “Telos”, although I threw out any sort of chronological order in lieu of an emotional order. The chronology is actually perfect in the poem in terms of the feelings each division is meant to evoke. The final division for example is the absolute loss of hope in giving in to paranoia, anxiety, and near-limitless suggestability, that came before I hit the hospital.
            At the hospital I felt better thanks to the relative stasis of everything and the release of pressure to work (or what I was really doing, trying to find work that had meaning to me). I got released after 16 days during which I found the next step I needed to take on my poetic journey. I needed to put out a book, or at least print a book. I had been writing in my notebook consistently so I had no problem with material. $150 and months later, I received 50 copies of my first chapbook in the mail. “Success.”
            It was only a series of 24 four-line poems, not much at all. But it served what it needed. I was in. A couple of years later I hired an artist and went to Kinko’s Copies and printed my own little chapbooks, this time more legitimate and in a run of 100. The poems weren’t just 4-liners, they were poems and they looked a little bit more like something T.S. Eliot would write. And instead of 24 there were just 13 of them. I named it Pomes Fivedoloursadozen in reference to the price and as an homage to the more accomplished (and then recently discovered by me) James Joyce collection, Pomes Penyeach.
            All this time I had been working on a big poem. I was always very ambitious, but this was beyond anything I had ever tried before. At first it was just going to be another “Song Of Myself” like the famous poem by Walt Whitman. But it was getting out of control. I knew it would go absolutely nowhere if I just copied Walt Whitman so I took some elements from the novels I read both in and out of school and hit frappe. Soon it was called “The End”, like I would have a whole collection that was just this poem or even start a collection with this ironically. I always loved doing stuff like that.
            In 2012 or around there I secured a deal with a small publisher to put out a collection with them. It was just a verbal deal, but I’d send the MSS and they’d take care of the rest. Great! All this time “The End” was growing and growing, cannibalizing more and more of my other work. Eventually it transformed into “Telos.” I was taking too long on this project, though, and it was just too precarious at this point. I asked my publisher to put something out that would sort of warm the audience up for “Telos.”
            With her permission I wrapped up what I felt was the best of my first book, 24 Poems, and Pomes Fivedoloursadozen, and added a further section of excess poems. And that’s what went out. In retrospect it was NOT brilliant. I had wanted to make this thing that people might discover after the thing that hit it big and read it as a worthy prequel, or an artist finding his legs. In the end, I feel only 2 or 3 poems in it (out of 20 odd or so) are worth preserving even though it had been an attempt at preserving for posterity its own poems.
            After a spat involving bad behavior[1] that publisher and I went and parted ways. Don’t look for that book, either. She pulled it. I think my bad reputation would’ve hurt her brand… so she would say.
            So that was that. I was on my own, a ronin. I didn’t waste a second, though. I immediately sent MSS out to other publishers, but none bit. I kept working until one day I realized what had then become Telos and Other Psychographs was essentially complete and that further editing would only serve as window sheen. I turned out wrong about this, by the way!
            Nevertheless, I bought the book on publishing. I bought all the necessary books, and I read them, I started my own business, and I secured the finances needed. I was doing it! And about a year after I first sent in my application for business my books had arrived. Here it was: my first true expression with my own fully developed artistic voice.
            Now developing the artistic voice was something different altogether. When first writing the intimidation that comes from the wide open page may seem strangling, and it can be worse if you expect to produce good stuff immediately. But fear not, if you write and write and write and write and write you’ll figure out what it is you really want to write and then coming up with material will be a heck of a lot easier. Go ahead and explore the wide open space at first. You’ll eventually start cutting and the path will become clear.
            That’s really the only solid gold advice I can give to writers everywhere of every stripe: move that pen. Everything else is either really really amazingly difficult to articulate OR is just nuts and bolts. In terms of nuts and bolts, it’s nothing you wouldn’t think to do on your own. Make writing as easy as possible and make anything that distracts that writing as hard as possible. There really isn’t much more to it.
            I’d probably recommend being good with the English language, but if E.L. James is proof of anything it’s “English Not Required.” You can make it with your Yu-Gi-Oh!-meets-Good Charlotte fan-fic! By the way, confession time, I made my own Harry Potter fan-fic in 7th grade or so about him meeting a boy who could fly like Icarus- only I didn’t know the legend of Icarus at that point. I told my sister about it and she gave me this one-word review: lame.
            In terms of constructing the book, a lot of influences came into play. A lot! From F. Scott Fitzgerald’s approach to making This Side Of Paradise, to Frederich Nietzsche’s bounty of ideas in The Birth Of Tragedy, there is a lot of ground to cover. I wanted to do a number of different dialects of English the way Mark Twain did them, but I have been around nowhere near as many different kinds of people (I’m an introvert), so I had to make a very good number of them up. I let a great number of parodies and pastiches flow through my voice, too, in order to capture a wider range of expression. Non-sense like the famed poem “Jabberwocky” plus earlier non-lexical English made for fluidity with spelling and puns that made for more possibilities and interpretations.
            As you can probably tell at this point this wasn’t going to be Ernest Hemingway’s writing in the least. It would perhaps even annoy and irritate, especially those who hated English, as pops up in pockets of the United States and Ireland alike. The not-for-everybodyness of the book was starting to stand stark to me, but I had to continue. I grabbed every reference that I could possibly think of and teased new meaning out of it to fit the context in each case. Suddenly details about Orestes’ journey were now details about mine. I was reading The Mabinogion to try to put some of my ethnic Welshness into the mixture to no avail. I may be a quarter Welsh but nothing about Wales or Welshness speaks to me in any real way, though the lyrically musical accents are charming.
            Really, in composing the book (and calling it composing is deliberate) I was fashioning my tools. These, as many as they are, will probably be used for the rest of my writing life. And each move I do with them will be with purpose whether I refashion them, fiddle with them, use them in a different way, or even lay them down. Focusing in to so much as the specific word is of utmost importance since all poetry is is good words. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the words by themselves will be innately good, but that the words used around them accurately to dialect or accurately to grammar will lift into a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. I made the overture in “Telos” a dictionary exercise for this reason as well as an introduction to the characters as melodies that would appear in the piece.
            I cross-pollinated poetry with philosophy since philosophy often contains within it a tinge of the poetic at the very least and at most is straight poetry such as when you read Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra or the ancient Greek pre-Socratic philosophers. I even put a preface in the book, which I worked way too hard on, that espoused a new form of modernism known as inconsistentism. I thought I’d pretend to be coy in interviews after my making it and say, “Gee, it was not my purpose to create a movement.” Like, “Who, me? No!” You may call me pretentious at this point. I don’t know. That’s what they called Walt Whitman in the wake of Longfellow and when we look back on it Longfellow was way more pretentious, so….
            By now, it’s probably obvious who some of my influences are. I like to think of these as people who told me what to do and I actually listened. A few more include Geoffrey Chaucer, who wrote a better woman than Shakespeare ever did with his Wife of Bath (I still have trouble writing good women), Charles Bukowski, who had a better sense of his character and who he was presenting to the world than anybody else, ever (making for a higher hit rate with his poems than most), W.B. Yeats, who created meaningful poetry under two different eras (the Romantic and the Modern)– I wish Dylan Thomas was W.B. Yeats because he’s of my known people, but alas, he felt he had to be universal rather than provincial and that’s what got him, Homer, who was a master of time with The Odyssey and wrote the manliest poem ever with The Iliad, a true Greek, Robert Frost, who was inspired throughout his life, and most of all Herman Melville, for Moby Dick of course, but also for Billy Budd, Melville is the first and best contender for The Great American Novel; his voice may not always have been consistent but nobody else could wrap their influences around a focused meditation on obsession and monomania (perhaps the most profound of human feelings) than he could.
            Anyways, enough of my blather. If you haven’t read any of Telos and Other Psychographs you may be wondering what it looks like. I can give you here five poems that are the annex to a second and corrected edition of the book that I made since catching a number of mistakes and poor versification in the first edition. The second edition is not out yet, but with some luck, some sales, and some funding, it may become a reality. I’d love to keep producing and making books throughout my life even though I frankly hate the business. So here, without further ado, is the annex to the second edition of my little book of poems.

Babel, Corrected

Sometimes you can see much better-
When observing things obscure,
To look upon them indirectly...
Than to watch them all the more.

Hanging Garden Flower
Ah! he is not a common man
Who turns to a flowerless tree.

Many leaves reside within her garden
Many leaves, indeed; many
Across the breeze the gray river
Golden Bridge, and lady’s laughing faces
Many leaves, many slender: many
All possessed of a smothered envy

Sweet but for the flower…
With its boisterous oranges, yellows, and indigos
The blossom standing neatly in the sun
Who would blame the keeper for a peak while on the run
A cricket lands gently upon his fishing line
Now, the blue moon watches soundly

Snow white-capped mountains shift restlessly behind
A glimpse will catch, most assuredly
The willows sing what the wind ordains
While the pond’s low notes support in harmony
Her fringes sway askance within the wind
A late afternoon nap tucked between the folds

The blue plums taste so good this evening
The color of your eyes tantalize- I am mesmerized!
What if the moon saw your face?
Knowing distance wide your beautiful name
The swirling eddies only enhance the aura at once
And once again once I saw you again once
Apricot boughs and ferns seem as nothing

The now-cloudy skies are ever wanting
I could sit here and think and want the more
I that was once so dandy and sprightly
An American prince out of monarchy
Lie jealous of the folds and forays
Of my lady’s Hanging Garden Flower


Wild Mantra Evening

I make verbal acrobatics concrete as schematics
Clutch your semi-automatic tonight
Snort horse with the Doors and Jim Morrison’s corpse
Is a portis you’ll be riding in flight

Your throat is smote every stroke till it’s grote
Every note is a dissonant theme
Then nymphs in charge with pupils so large
Barge in with cookies and cream

The pulchritudinous ever multitudinous
Now you’re being rude with us, please
Speak straight don’t placate aggravate
Crazy eight it with a bottomless tease

Make cheer this year with a queer kinda sneer
Get your beer you’re gonna need it now
Some huck butt fucked the car with a “shucks”
And got mucked with stuff from a cow

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up

Some girlish churlish front-end with a furnished
Dervish curlicue on the attack
Like some methodone cyclone with a bone
To pick back home with a knack

Bamboozled by a floozy in damask that’s a doozy
You’re a boozie cousey rolling for mates
You’re drunk and debunked by a slowhand with a stump
Take the lumps that are now on your pate

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up

Some harlequin harlot turned her face out real scarlot
Said, “Varlot, I’ve got swing and sass.”
I stepped into the spotlight not sure if I’m cockright
And spun my wheels with the gas
Where little Bopeep got it on with a creep
“What’s wrong, soldier, ain’t you doing fine?”
So I turned her loose like she’s tied to a fuse
Said, “Sorry, I ain’t your kind!”

Somnambulatory with a different kind of story
In the laboratory glory of me
Steel trap where that moose cap brain fapped
Gets slapped, is where I’d rather get free

Some shooter outside with a scooter on a slide
In the mood for suicide under glares
Has packed his junk in the left upper bunk
When he’s feeling sorta sunk he just stares

The jack of all trades backed an ace on my spade
With a lady he laid so I caved
His head spooled dead with a tool from the shed
Made his bed and then I said, “Close shave.”

That hit off the snowcone frost bit in the blowzone
Made me sit and then slow groan in bliss
That ship that has left slipstream real bereft
By a meaningful theft, it took the piss

She was scalded by the pan
Sent back by attacks in from the deuce among the men
Scalded by the pan
She went down but she never came up


A Response To The Imagists

Open condemnation   or     praise :
New-blown— fluff       off  a    Dandelion

Crisis Of Existence
Featuring a verse form shortened and simplified from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene

There are times I wish I could disappear
Completely when trouble with existence
Butts against for maximum resistance–
That is, trouble owning, operating
Chance relates myself to world t’would appear
Quite real-ly has me in its grasp for killing

The mitochondria within my cells
Has not sufficient power for my health
Nor my particles bear magnetic wealth
To keep together my own substance pure
Disintigration from within a shell
It seems such more than any could endure

From such a state I never could come back
Or so I worry, so I don’t let go
I keep to what I am and what I know.
To think I’m trapped within this mortal coil
It makes one feel a dread akin attack
Like some old Jew would snuff your burning oil

But here I lie awake within my bed
Or else submerged in water in a tub
Not to be determined by bitter rub
Of e’en so much as my foremost desire:
I dearly want to vacate any stead
In every pan I feel the flicking fire

I swear a storm, I shit a liquid spray
I feel my anxiety around folks,
Them bending out of shape all my wheel’s spokes
I’ve overdosed and soon I may yet die
I don’t know when to shut up when I may
Should now…? Right now? I…

[1] People who aren’t artists don’t understand the need for bad behavior in artists, but only non-artists exhibit this bewilderment at our behavior. Us artists can’t explain it to the rest of the populace. We would if we could.
a Rafflecopter giveaway