Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: Acid Jazz Singer by Nya Rawlyns.

 I'm delighted to revisit and review one of my favorite Authors...Meet Nya Rawlyns.


Writer, editor and hopeless optimist. I've lived on a sailboat on the Chesapeake Bay, ridden more than 1000 miles in trail competitions on horseback, and been owned by two Newfoundlands. I'm staff for a herd of cats and a herd of horses.

I've never met a potato chip I didn't like and I weight lift - which is probably fortuitous as I really like potato chips.

I don't write romance. I write emotion as a contact sport, rough and often raw. It need not be pleasant, heart-warming or forever after. What I seek is what lies beneath--a dance of extremes, the intersect of need and desire, and the compromises we make when pain and pleasure become indistinguishable.

My review of Acid Jazz Singer by Nya Rawlyns 5 star.


Finally a book that doesn't resort to cliché driven characterizations. Author Nya Rawlyns has taken the vamp genre and with superb plotting and a pen dipped in an adventurous readers soul she has crafted a tapestry as bloody as it is moody.

The narrator, Travis is utterly believable irrespective of the functions of his body ... Travis is a cold killer, a complex and totally enjoyable character to get to know. Trust me ... know him you will, his emotions are held in check, but never completely hidden. The author has given him a heart and soul, a pulse rate, needs, desires, and lusts that refuse to stay hidden.

Travis is a character that will stay in the mind of the reader, long after "The End" appears on the final page.

We care about this man...in all his forms. I will not spoil the ending for the readers . The book crosses so many genres...it is a Vamp story....yes indeed, yet one the likes of which I haven't had the pleasure of reading before. It is a love story..a love that is as real and complex as any you will encounter.

How does someone like Travis deal with loving a being that is both male and female? The psychological implications are so well thought out, that you the reader are captured by the passions and confusing eruption of lust, and brought to tears by the unrelenting tenderness of the love Travis has for Ray/Raylee.

The action sequences are superb, fast pacing, and relentlessly good descriptive sequences have you holding your breath in anticipation, and then sighing as you exhale...expect the unexpected, you won't be disappointed.

All in all a superb reading experience. I am looking forward eagerly to more of the books in this brand new series. Bravo, Nya Rawlyns! 

This fabulous book is currently on sale at just $0.99 on the link below.

Nya Rawlyns Blog below.

While you are there take a look at the other marvelous books in her extensive collection.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hearts & Other Dead things. Book review. All proceeds from this book go to Charity

Hearts & Other Dead things
(A Cake & Quill anthology)
Jeremy wants Maggie back. Rosa hates Simon. Adam can’t get laid. Graham hates cats. Maisie brings her new boyfriend home to meet Mom and Dad. Yuki wants revenge. Jake really should get over his dead girlfriend. Bradley gets offered a donkey. Doris should know better. And Peter calls a number, hoping for a good time.

A handpicked collection of sad, mad, bad stories and poems from the realms of romance, sardonic or macabre, infused with woe or mirth, to make you glad you’re single – or wish you were.

Writers are: Bradley Darewood, Cat Nicolaou, J. Cassidy, Charlotte Stirling, S.A. Shields, Adam Oster, Angelika Rust, Ken Alexopoulos, W.D. Frank, Tina Rath, Yvonne Marjot, T.M. Hogan, Chloe Hammond, Jay Robbins, A.E. Churchyard

Cover by Charlotte Stirling

All proceeds will go to HOME, a charity in Singapore which works for the rights of migrant and domestic workers, and against sex trafficking.

About the Charity
“A ragged, thin Myanmar girl gripped my hand through the fence and sobbed repeatedly, ‘chei-zu tin-bar-te’ (thank you). I had done nothing for her except to say hello and smile. This was my emotional introduction to the dark hypocrisy that seeps into every fibre of Singapore.

The hourly abuse and modern day slavery that exist all over the city-state is almost incomprehensible. Most people ignore it. Over time, the pampered living seems to blinker our eyes to the huge divide between helper and employer. Perfectly nice Western families forget their maid’s birthday, or exclaim that their helper hasn’t seen their children for 2 years. But don’t offer to pay them to return home.

The dehumanization of certain people, usually women that I witnessed made me feel that I was living during Apartheid or the Holocaust and I couldn’t understand why nobody else seemed bothered. Could they not see it? Seriously?

Whether making a maid walk three paces behind carrying all the shopping, or denying these vulnerable women any days off for months, or smacking them, or humiliating them, or rationing their food. I helped where I could. Vitamin tablets, hugs, phone calls home, extra food smuggled through the fence, and more hugs. But I had no political voice there at all and protests are illegal, so I decided to write a book. Writing is what I do. It’s my talent. And I thought, just do it. Write it. Get it out there. Tell their stories. Give them some acknowledgement. Something. Anything.

HOME is an extraordinary charity that actively helps these women to take legal action, to escape abusive employers and re-locate if necessary. They advise on contracts and employment. But most of all, they give hope when there is very little left. This is why we have chosen them as the recipient of the proceeds for this book and are proud to do so.”

– Charlotte Stirling, January 2016

My Review of "Hearts and other Dead Things."

When an eclectic group of writers, give of their valuable time, and their clearly remarkable talents, to work together to write a book, specifically intended to cover difficult topics;  then, donate all proceeds from the sale of that book to a Charity Set up to help victims of horrendous violence; together with those other helpless souls caught up in the sex-trafficking that is becoming all too familiar on the headlines of papers everywhere, then the very least I can do as a reader is review it.

Romantic's anonymous. A story by Bradley Darewood/ Cat Nicolaou

So, what happens when you meet up with your ex in a therapy Group Called 'Romantics Anonymous?  Initially I thought, oh- okay, interesting concept and frankly expected something comedic. Don't get me wrong, some of the dialogue and self-analysis is laugh out loud, and nod in agreement, funny! But this author has cleverly combined the humor with some in depth insights into the needs that drive the individuals concerned, and in consequence, their reactions to what they would normally consider aberrant behavior. I love a story that causes me to reflect, and when you throw in damned funny dialogue...well for me that's one hell of a good way to start an Anthology. Look forward to reading more by authors Bradley Darewood. And Cat Nicolau.

A very clever poem by J Cassidy

This also comes under this heading. It is short, and delightfully bittersweet.

Hambre De Las Calaveras. (The Hungry Skulls) A story by Charlotte Stirling

 As I have long considered my visits to Singapore utterly memorable, and have in fact stayed at Raffles both before and after 1990, the setting for this had me riveted from the start.

It touched on some of the Expatriate's behavior and expectations, with a clever hand. Revealing much in but a few apt and marvelous descriptions.

The cruelty which is handed down to the maid Dumadora ...is devastatingly, and blindingly accurate in its brutality. The vengeance when it comes is both unexpected and very welcome. Bravo! I look forward again, to reading more.

A Poem. By S.A Sheilds

This book has layers within it. They peel back like a Spanish onion. The poetry is stunning. This one 'untitled' by S.A Sheilds, is both gutsy and revealing. It hit me hard. The pain expressed is I believe universal for anyone insecure enough to stay in a dreadful relationship because it's all that they know.

Girl of my Dreams – A Saga of Failure by Adam Oster

Boarding school can be hell, insecurity can be worse. First love (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) whilst in Boarding school, and being insecure...phew! The stuff of nightmares for folks caught up in that particular feeding frenzy. Again, I find myself drawn to the characters depicted in this one. At times, in fact they are all too painfully real.

Sure I laughed, and the measure of author Adam Oster's talent is that I wanted to cry for his misplaced in time hero as well. It is irrelevant what the reader's own experience of First Love...or lust maybe, therein lay the beauty of this story. For it hits that wonderful empathy button that many, but not all, humans possess. Still smiling.

 Rain. A story by Angelika Rust.

One of my favorite all time singer/songwriters is Melissa Etheridge. One of her songs has the lyric "I had rust on my dreams, and rust on my love." This very brief and sadly compelling moment reminds me of that. It touches that chord. It pulls me back to that pain. This anthology has some seriously gifted writers. Author Angelika Rust, is yet another to add to my growing list.

i think i need a shower. A Poem by Bradley Darewood

I wish I didn't get the punch line. I do. Still grinning at the very possible outcome.

Down The Drain a story by Ken Alexopoulos

This one pulls no punches whatsoever. It's both difficult to read because of its blistering honesty, and impossible not to, for exactly the same reason. Did I enjoy it? Hmm ... enjoy may not be the correct word. Did I appreciate it? Oh, yes. It caused me discomfort. Any story and Author, that can hit that button with me, is worthy of me remembering.

For The Love of Cats and Dogs a story by S A Sheilds.

Wow! This one snuck up and bit me on the ass. No pun intended. I began reading this lulled into thinking I was reading a simple expose of a 'Crazy Cat Lady'...wrong! Oh, so wrong. This has far more. Layers upon layers, thought provoking, and complex. I loved it.

Your World and Its Weather. A Poem by W.D. Frank.

I read and re-read this poem, several times in fact, wondering just how I felt about it. I'm still not certain. The pain within the words is very evident. The feelings it expresses for me ... helplessness, acceptance, and something more, it's the something more that troubles me, because I'm unable to define it. Isn't that what poetry is intended to do? I asked myself that question. I came up with "Yes." I'm going to read it again ... and again.

Buried Doll. A Poem by Tina Rath.

Another poem that challenges me. I like being challenged. Hatred and vengeance? Perhaps. Again, the layers of meaning. Damn! These writers are good.

Johnny on the Spot. A story by Yvonne Marjot.

The pacing and the dialogue are marvelous in this story. It takes you on a rather unexpected journey, and, it's a journey with a road that no man or woman wants to travel. The sad fact is, that some people do ... thought provoking, clearly defined, and immensely readable. Ticks all my boxes.

Number 6. A story by Charlotte Stirling.

This is one of the shortest of all the stories, but it is one of my favorites. Author Charlotte Stirling has that wonderful gift of being able to set a visual so clearly in my head with her writing it becomes cinematic. The debauched and depraved are arrogant. The things that they do are sickening. The payback ... is a bitch. Tightly woven with wonderfully fast pacing. Memorable.

Deleting Jessy. A story by Angelika Rust

Another fabulous read. This one dealing with possessiveness to a deadly degree. Grief, moving on ... and retribution gone mad. This author has marvelous insights into the processes that drive us as humans, to do inhuman things.

Burn. A story By Ken Alexopolous.

"Burn," caught me utterly unprepared. It made me cry. The complexity of loving so deeply, yet being afraid of the promise of a future without it. Withholding the words that may enslave your soul. Beautifully written. Sadly powerful.

Valentine's Day. A story by T. M. Hogan.

I'm from Australia, and the story is set here. The humor and pathos of this piece resonated with me. The ending ... I refuse to spoil it for you. Suffice it say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sex in Santa Domingo by Bradley Darewood.

This one I viewed differently as Author Bradley Darewood has shared with the readers a true situation (The names have been changed) from his memoirs currently being written. This is a powerful piece, and the author has allowed us to glimpse his life for a brief time along his journey. The author has clearly reconstructed a learning curve into his self-awareness. Honest, and well written. I'd be more than interested to read his complete memoir when it's available.

Waiting. A Poem by Chloe Hammond.

Short, Succinct and Painful. Yes. I liked it.

Miss Angelika March. A story by Charlotte Stirling

Let me quote from the story ..."Then my heart turned hard and steel flooded those tight, little veins that feed the eye, and my mouth tasted the betrayal like an overnight locust storm."

I was unsuprised that this story hit me at gut-level; the above description only gives you a small taste of the pain this Author can create with her words. It is Charlotte Stirling again. The empathy she creates is stunning.

To Hell and Back. A story by Jay Robbins.

Be prepared for this one, if you can. The title is so accurate, and the journey the characters are on will lead each of them into their own versions of Hell. This talented writer will take you by the throat and force you to take that journey with them. You may not enjoy the trip, but you will not be able to forget the journey undertaken to reach the results. An absolutely riveting piece of writing. This is a stand out.

Eternal Love. A poem by Bradley Darewood.

Being addicted to anything carries with it a mandatory life sentence. Being addicted to another human being can send you straight to death row. Another blindingly aware poem by this author.

Miss Smith's Upgrade. A story by A.E.Churchyard.
This story holds out a small crumb of remaining hope for us as a species. The author takes us on a step into the future of mankind. A.E Churchyard permits us a glimpse into the manner in which we have been technologically prepared for lengthy survival in a world so predictable and safe it's frightening in itself. As the title says, Miss Smith has gone for an upgrade ... to, her implants. Not physical attributes ostensibly, they are options to alter a facet of life that may not be as satisfyingly comfortable as the receiver would wish. New Boyfriend? Sure ... there is an implant for that, and just about anything else that remains of human desires, and in consequence, their actions.
The beauty within this story is that glimmer, that faintly shining, seemingly unquenchable shadow we know as hope. Author A.E Churchyard encapsulates it beautifully, and gives us as readers caught up within these pages, a gift. A beacon leading to hope that seems to continue to burn on within us all. A marvelous and satisfying read.
 I Dream Of Rigor: A Heartwarming Tale Of Murder, Sex, And Snuggling A story...by W. D. Frank.
Wow, this story is beautifully dark. The gallows humor very appealing. The pacing is furiously fast and the visual images created by author W.D Frank are wonderful. Another author for me to find out more about.
Poem: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Skunk Cabbage. A Poem by Tina Rath.
Pointed and perfect. Vengeance and love gone wrong are beautifully encapsulated within these 16 lines of verse.
Man in a Can a story by Chloe Hammond.
I love a short story that leaves me smiling and nodding in silent agreement. This one is priceless. An absolute must read for any woman who has ever had or wanted a date to die for, and found only men without that added something that sets the sparks flying. It is funny, quirky and darkly cutting in its honesty. I would love to read a continuing story with these wonderful characters.
Metamorphosis a story by Angelika Rust
A short, sad and quirky piece that defines friendship in few cleverly chosen words. An honest interpretation. I liked this one a great deal.
Agnés and Albertine a story by Charlotte Stirling.
What a fabulously crafted short story, exposing so much of the frailty of human nature, and the endless pursuit of survival at all costs. This one covers the bases of need and the essence of belonging. It is tortured, twisted and unbearably human. Simply stunning.
The Number a story by Bradley Darewood.
My sense of humor is decidedly dark, so this story really hit a nerve and sadly I found myself smiling and nodding in understanding and agreement with the all  the sentiments, anger and punishment dished out. I don't recommend the path taken by the characters, but it is not at all difficult to see what motivated their actions. Another thoroughly enjoyable read from the pen of author Bradley Darewood.
The Chest a story by Tina Rath
Dark and macabre, with wonderful pacing and characterizations all imparted with a clever understanding of the fine line between sanity and madness that beckons us all at times. It made me shudder, which is difficult to do. I loved this one.
I am exhausted after the reading, floundering around for words to express the experience as clearly, as concisely as I can. Each of those that read it will find differing levels of emotional response to what nestles between these pages. That's as is should be.
For me. It will linger in my memory. I will seek out other works by these authors. I am not only quite in awe of, but, intensely grateful for their talent.