Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces
Author: John Kennedy Toole
Genre: Humor
Published: 1980
Pages: 417
Goodreads

Synopsis

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head. The green earflaps, full of large ears and uncut hair and the fine bristles that grew in the ears themselves, stuck out on either side like turn signals indicating two directions at once. Full, pursed lips protruded beneath the bushy black moustache and, at their corners, sank into little folds filled with disapproval and potato chip crumbs."

Meet Ignatius J. Reilly, the hero of John Kennedy Toole's tragicomic tale, A Confederacy of Dunces. This 30-year-old medievalist lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, pens his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relays to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. ("Speeding along in that bus was like hurtling into the abyss.") But Ignatius's quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso--who mistakes him for a vagrant--and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.

Over the next several hundred pages, our hero stumbles from one adventure to the next. His stint as a hotdog vendor is less than successful, and he soon turns his employers at the Levy Pants Company on their heads. Ignatius's path through the working world is populated by marvelous secondary characters: the stripper Darlene and her talented cockatoo; the septuagenarian secretary Miss Trixie, whose desperate attempts to retire are constantly, comically thwarted; gay blade Dorian Greene; sinister Miss Lee, proprietor of the Night of Joy nightclub; and Myrna Minkoff, the girl Ignatius loves to hate. The many subplots that weave through A Confederacy of Dunces are as complicated as anything you'll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. But it is Ignatius--selfish, domineering, and deluded, tragic and comic and larger than life--who carries the story. He is a modern-day Quixote beset by giants of the modern age. His fragility cracks the shell of comic bluster, revealing a deep streak of melancholy beneath the antic humor. John Kennedy Toole committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his novel. Ignatius Reilly is what he left behind, a fitting memorial to a talented and tormented life.

Review

I found a copy of this book in the pocket of a pair of Levi jeans that I bought used at a thrift store. How the heck the previous owner got the book into the pocket, I do not know, but that's where it was. I figured I might as well read it since I had it. 

This book was almost like a modern day Canterbury Tales, with only one character telling stories. The language was far easier to understand than Canterbury Tales as well, thank god, or I might never have been able to finish it. Honestly, you'd think Chaucer didn't even know how to speak English with the way he wrote, just a whole bunch of gibberish that he tried to pass of as English. How anyone could ever understand that I don't know. 

Back to Confederacy of Dunces though. The adventures of Ignatius often left me cringing. Some of the scrapes he got himself into were almost too painful to read about for me because they may or may not have mirrored my own life just a little too much at times. I may or may not have been mistaken for a vagrant a time or two in my younger days, and I can certainly relate to how hard slinging wienies can be. But the book was also like a train wreck, I just couldn't look away. I needed to know what kind of mess Ignatius would get himself into next. I just had to. 

Overall I give A Confederacy of Dunces two thumbs up. 

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About the Author

John Kennedy Toole was an American novelist from New Orleans, Louisiana, best known for his novel A Confederacy of Dunces.

Toole's novels remained unpublished during his lifetime. Some years after his death by suicide, Toole's mother brought the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces to the attention of the novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981 Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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How to Live with a Psychic by Crystal Hope Reed

Title: How to Live with a Psychic
Author: Crystal Hope Read
Genre: New-Age
Published: January 27, 2017
Pages: 169
Goodreads

Synopsis

So they're psychic. Now what? 

The emergence of psychic or healing abilities in one partner often causes anxiety, stress, or confusion for the other. How to Live with a Psychic teaches you not only how to survive this shift but how to thrive and strengthen your relationship when your life has detoured down this unfamiliar path. 

Crystal has already figured out what works and what doesn’t. Follow her practical advice, designed to help you take command of your situation and achieve the best possible results for your unique circumstances. 

You'll learn how to:  Differentiate between psychic and psychotic Support yourself so things feel under control Turn relationship challenges into bonding opportunities Help the new psychic bring balance back to their life Talk to other people about what’s happening—whether or not they’re experiencing the same paranormal or supernatural phenomena Be a key player in your partner’s psychic development Also included:  How psychics perceive the world differently than the rest of us Explanations of the tools and techniques that psychics, mediums, healers, and empaths use in their work and for protection and grounding Comprehensive details about the various types of psychic ability  and much more! Crystal Hope Reed has a master's in counseling psychology and has been successfully living with a psychic for over 15 years. Though she is now also a professional animal communicator, the majority of her career life has been spent counseling individuals, families, and children in the Los Angeles area.

Review

I was at the county fair with my family when one of those crazy fortune tellers stopped me to give me this book. She told me I would need it to maintain harmony in my household. I was sure she was just trying to con me out of some money, but when I turned to answer a question my daughter had asked, the fortune teller just disappeared. About a week later, the problems started. 

You see, I've always had a bit of a latent psychic ability. It first manifested when I was just a small child and my mother was giving me a bath. I believe hitting my head by falling off the top bunk of our bunk bed was the start of my psychic abilities. The bump on the noggin clearly knocked something loose. Anyway, as my mother tells it, she was giving me a bath that evening and thinking to herself, "You're supposed to stop yourself before you fall off the bed," to which I said "But how can I stop if I'm sleeping?" She hadn't spoken aloud, and yet I knew what she was thinking. 

There have been other times when my psychic abilities have surfaced as well. I have a tendency to know how many jelly beans are in those jars people are always asking you to guess how many jelly beans they hold. And once I even frightened an author by telling her I could see her, and then describing her outfit to her. My abilities are not always 100% accurate. For instance, I had Ben Carson making it to the final four in the Republican primaries, and he dropped out just shy of achieving it (leaving the Republicans with four men to choose from with his exit from the race.) 

It never occurred to me to care how my husband would handle my psychic abilities, or even that I should tell him about them. I mean, if I'm going to be able to read his mind and know when he's lying to me, I don't want him to have warning of that so that he can clear his thoughts and shit. My abilities would be useless then. This book doesn't really address my situation however, because as I said, my psychic abilities manifested in my childhood. I've had them for way longer than my husband, so there isn't as much for him to deal with. I think I'll keep it around in case they start to grow in the future however, since that may be cause for concern. 

I'm thinking of a rating between 1 and 5. If you too are psychic, you'll know what it is. 

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About the Author

Crystal Hope Reed has a master's degree in counseling psychology and has spent most of her professional life in the fields of counseling, mental health, and education. She's worked with clients as diverse as gifted students, domestic violence victims, the homeless, people with severe mental illnesses, and individuals and families navigating the psychic awakening process. Since 2001, Crystal has been living her own advice about "How to Live with a Psychic." When the full extent of Brett’s psychic abilities exploded, practically overnight, she wasn't satisfied to just cope with the chaos. Instead, she tapped into her therapeutic background and intuition to figure out how people can turn this challenge into an opportunity for an even stronger relationship and an improved quality of life. Her interest in all things metaphysical continues to grow and she will certainly be writing more books on related topics. She has also developed her own ability as a pet psychic, which she now uses to resolve issues and give animals a voice. Crystal, Brett, and their three dogs make their home in Santa Monica, California.

*I was unable to find any blog reviews for this book. If you are interested in reading some legitimate reviews however, there are several available on Amazon. 

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

Title: Green Rider
Author: Kristen Britain
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 1998
Pages: 471
Goodreads

Synopsis

On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G'ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak. But her thoughts are interrupted by the clattering of hooves as a galloping horse bursts from the woods, the rider slumped over his mount's neck, impaled by two black-shafted arrows. As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan that he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of the king, and that he bears a "life and death" message for King Zachary. He begs Karigan to carry his message, warning her not to read it, and when she reluctantly agrees, he makes her swear on his sword to complete his mission "for love of country." As he bestows upon her the golden winged-horse brooch which is the symbol of his office, he whispers on his dying breath, "Beware the shadow man..." 

Karigan's promise changes her life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent specter of the original messenger, she herself becomes a legendary Green Rider. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the message, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.

Review

This book was given to me by a youngish man on his deathbed, and by deathbed I mean the driver's seat of his car after a horrific accident on the autobahn. I tried to do what I could to help him, but the jaws of life just didn't arrive in time. But before he died, he gave me this book and made me promise to deliver it to Angela Merkel without reading it first. (Clearly I failed in that endeavor, and now we have Trump for president. But the two probably aren't related.) 

See, I know the plot to Green Lantern when I see it, and even though Ryan Reynolds is hot, that movie kind of sucked. Taking the plot and adding horses and "shadow men" is just not enough to redeem that garbage. Karigan can't even do anything cool with her newfound responsibility. She just has to ride the horse to wherever it's taking her and not die along the way. Boring. 

Oh, and not read the letter. The Green Rider makes it sound like something horrible will happen if she reads the letter, but it's totally just a love letter from his mistress (who happens to be married to the shadow man obviously.) Of course homeboy's pissed. His wife is stepping out on him and he can't exactly go after her lover because he's the freakin' king! I can see how keeping the message from being delivered can seem like the next best option there. (Then again, as the person who may be single-handedly responsible for Donald Trump being president, I'm probably not the best person to be giving advice on these matters.) 

I expected more of this book and it really just ended up being a great big snooze-fest-y pile of garbage. Would not recommend. 1 out of 5 stars. 

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About the Author

Kristen Britain is the New York Times bestselling author of the Green Rider Series. She lives in an adobe house in the high desert of the American Southwest beneath the big sky, and among lizards and hummingbirds and tumbleweeds. 

www.kristenbritain.com

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Death of the Mad Hatter by Sarah Pepper

Title: Death of the Mad Hatter
Author: Sarah Pepper
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: October 28, 2013
Pages: 333
Goodreads

Synopsis

Never in my wildest dreams did I consider the possibility that I could fall for the boy with the girl's name. Why couldn't Ryley have bacne, chronic case of nose bleeds, genetic baldness, or uncontrollable gingivitis? Oh no, he had to be perfect in every way. And, that body... Nuff said. It was all I could do to convince my knees not to weaken at the sight of him. Forming coherent words when he spoke my name was dang near impossible. 

Perhaps if his frontal lobe was a teensy weensy smaller, I might have been able to convince myself that he wasn't so intellectually stimulating. But, he was stimulating,in more ways than one; there was no denying that; no matter how badly I tried to hate him, I couldn't. That made what I was about to do so delightfully horrible that even the wicked Queen of Hearts would be impressed--Alice Mae.

Review

I found a copy of this book in the most curious place. You see, it was sitting atop a table next to a delicious looking cake that read "Eat me" and, well, I can never resist cake, so I did. And do you know what happened? I instantly gained five pounds (damn slow metabolism.) But the cake was so worth it. It had the most rich, moist buttercream frosting I had ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. 

I was really intrigued by the cover of this book though. It was pretty clearly an Alice in Wonderland retelling, and I'm always a big fan of those, so I hurried to put the book inside my coat pocket, just in case the cake made me shrink or something. I'm pretty weak under normal circumstances and knew I would never be able to carry a book that was ten times my size. But alas, there was no shrinking, only a slight increase in the size of my already substantial derriere. I wish I could say that I loved the book, but it had gotten my hopes up so high for an incredibly shrinking act and then failed to deliver on that count, that everything after that was quite disappointing. This book would have been far better if it had resulted in a reduction in my size. I didn't even see a significant improvement in my stamina from carrying it around in my pocket for a week before remembering it was in there. Sad. 

But my complaints aren't all the author's fault. I mean, she's probably not responsible for the non-shrinking cake, although she might be, so I'm not ruling her out from my list of suspects quite yet. And if I'm being completely honest, the story was mildly intriguing, I guess. I mean, killing a mad hatter is always a little bit interesting right? But all the miles I had to walk just to work off that cake was the real murder here. 

2 out of 5 stars plus ten stars for the cake because it was magically delicious. 

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About the Author

Award Winning Author, Sarah J. Pepper, specializes in fantasy and paranormal romance. She unveils the beauty of love in her new adult/young adult novels. Her works envelope dark, paranormal romance - think "happy ever after" but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn't only filled with hugs, kisses, bunnies, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It's in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of - both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn't always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn't mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit? Get a glimpse inside her head at www.sarahjpepper.com

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lore Master by Robbie Cox

Title: Lore Master
Author: Robbie Cox
Genre: Fantasy
Published: August 31, 2016
Pages: 300
Goodreads

Synopsis

After the implosion of Harvest Fellowship, Rhychard is feeling lost without Renny. Luckily for him, the faerie world has calmed down some and he's been able to get back to a normal routine. That is, until Lore Master Taryen's apprentice shows up at his moving truck wanting to write down the history of his life. Calm is thrown out the window as Rhychard starts suffering from visions of fire that leave real burns on his body, gets visited by a dark elf that says he wants to help him stay alive, and now Rhychard is seeing…ghosts? So much for his normal routine.


Review

I was at the local Renaissance festival this past fall when a rather skinny man with pointy ears shoved a copy of this book into my hands. I tried to pay for it, but he ran off without a word. I'm sure he was just one of the actors though, in costume for the faire and all that. I didn't really have any intention of actually reading the book, because my TBR list is eleventy million miles long, but it kept calling to me, and I finally stopped resisting when it said "Ye slatternly whore, ye cain't resist me forever." It was a pretty powerful argument. 

Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. I literally could not put the book down. It was attached to my hands as if by glue or something, which made going to the bathroom and feeding myself quite the trick. Thankfully the pages turned themselves so I didn't have to worry about that. But that gave me the incentive to get through the book quickly in the hopes that once I reached the end I'd be able to put it down. (I was, otherwise I would not be able to type this right now.) 

I wish I could say that I was really drawn into the story, because it would have made reading it that much faster, but sadly that was not the case. See, that elf guy who gave me the book made a mistake in giving me the second book in a series, so I was completely lost for large portions of this book. There were so many things that I feel like I should have already been familiar with or known, that I just didn't. Honestly, what kind of idiot gives someone a book from a series and makes it not the first one? 

Overall I give Lore Master 2.5 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to like the book, but I just couldn't. 

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About the Author

Robbie can be found on his back porch enjoying a cigar, a scotch, and a good story. He derives pleasure from his large family and his crazy group of friends that provide the inspiration for his blog The Mess that Is Robbie Cox. He writes fantasy, erotica, mystery, and memoirs and when he is not writing, he is out Messing through adventures with those he cares about.

He is the author of the urban fantasy Warrior of the Way series as well as the erotic romance, Losing Faith, the first in the Rutherford Series.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Ghosts of King Henry's Past by Matt "Grumpybritches" Schiariti

Title: Ghosts of King Henry's Past
Author: Matt "Graumpbritches" Schiariti
Genre: Horror/Paranormal
Published: February 31, 2016

Synopsis

Seth Gabriel thought life would get easier for him after dealing with his little demon issue a few years ago. Although his life wasn't exactly what he had thought it would be by this age, it was pretty good.
That is, until Jamie brought home the weirdest looking cat he'd seen in his life. (The thing had like 5 extra toes or something!) But that wasn't even the worst of it. The cat was King Henry, and not just in name. The thing was possessed by the ghost(s, he wasn't exactly sure) of at least one of the dead monarchs.

When cats start showing up in his backyard headless, Seth knows he needs to exorcise the ghosts from his new pet, or face the wrath of the neighborhood. But will King Henry be the same without his ghostly guests?

Review

I hacked into the author's computer to obtain a copy of this book (don't ask me to send it to you because THAT would be unethical.) There were just so many hints and whispers about it's existence that I just had to know what all the hype was about. And boy am I glad I did.

This book had it all! Ghosts, cats, attempted exorcism. It was almost like a full on Chuck Tingle experience without all the gay sex. What more could a girl ask for (aside from a million dollars, a mansion, and enough diamonds to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but I don't see any of those things happening for me any time soon.)

This story really sucked me in. The idea that the name you can choose for your pets can influence their behavior, and possibly invite in unwanted "guests" was unique and intriguing. It kind of makes me regret naming my cat Attila the Hun. But it also made a certain amount of sense, and the way it was woven into the story was masterful. Matt Schiariti is truly a word magician.

And then the ending, y'all, it broke my freakin' stone cold heart. I don't want to say too much because spoilers, but there was definitely a river of tears that the dams of a hundred beavers couldn't even stop. Just buy stock in Kleenex and have your tissues handy.

Overall Ghosts of King Henry's Past gets one million stars because it was just that good.

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To purchase a copy of this book, you will have to go post on Matt Schiariti's Facebook page letting him know that you want this book. Make sure you let him know that King Henry sent you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ghosts of Demons Past by Matt "Grumpybritches" Schiariti

Author: "Matt Graumpbritches" Schiariti
Genre: Horror
Published: June 10, 2013
Pages: 351

Synopsis

“Well, Mr. Gabriel. What do you know about…demons?”

For most people, that’s a question that never comes up. Medium Seth Gabriel isn’t most people and for him, it’s another normal day in an abnormal life.

It’s bad enough that his love life has seen better days but his personal problems are only the half of it. Seth’s ghost hunting business, SG Cleaning Services hasn’t seen a client in weeks and he’s desperate for a paycheck. Things look up when two potential clients seek him out.

Courtney Reeves hires Seth to investigate a paranormal disturbance in her home. On the surface it’s a run of the mill cleaning job but when you deal with the dead for a living, there’s no such thing as routine. The close of the case is the start of even bigger problems and Seth will find that, while there’s nothing to fear from the dead, the living are another story.

When the nervous and persistent Evan Gallagher enters his life, Seth sees the promise of a big payday. There’s only one catch. The wealthy lawyer thinks his wife is possessed by a demon. Seth doesn’t believe in demons…not anymore, but the money is too good to turn down. Is Evan crazy or is he one hundred percent sane? As Seth digs deeper, he’ll ask the same question of himself.

For a guy who’s coasted through life on not much more than Greek takeout, tequila, and attitude, Seth’s going to have to dig deep to survive what will turn out to be a very bad week.

Review

A copy of this book mysteriously appeared in my house a couple weeks ago. I ignored it at first, but I swear that damn thing was following me around the house. It just kept popping up wherever I was, like freakin' magic or something. Then one day, I was sitting on the toilet dropping a deuce, and there the book was. I figured since I had some time on my hands, I may as well start reading it. I didn't get off the pot for thirty minutes, but that had nothing to do with getting caught up reading the book. 

As I read further into the book, I realized that Seth and I had a lot in common (I wasn't on the pot for thirty minutes for nothing. Greek takeout and tequila just don't agree with me like they used to.) And I'm willing to do just about anything for money. Well, within reason. (I may or may not have been paid to write this review.) It's also quite possible that I'm insane. I don't know for sure though, I've never been formally tested. 

I did have a few issues with the book though. There was a serious lack of cats and platypires included in the storyline, two things which vastly improve pretty much any story in which they're included. They should definitely be more heavily featured in the sequel that I have it on good authority Matt will be writing very shortly. 

In the end, I'm glad I started reading this book, because the trip was ultimately enjoyable, I suppose. I give it 3.14159 stars. 

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About the Author

Matt Schiariti is an Engineer by profession, guitar legend in his own mind, and would-be author, time permitting. When he’s not writing, he’s reading. When he’s not reading, he’s enjoying a beer sporting a fancy name on the label. When he’s not enjoying a fancy-named beer, he’s most likely reading some more. Sometimes he does all three at once, to disastrous effect. Matt lives in southern New Jersey, with his wife, two children, insane dog, curious guinea pig, and three reclusive hermit crabs. He is currently working on another novel as well as several short stories. Ghosts of Demons Past is his first full-length book, but not his last. You have been warned. Here are some links should you want to find out more about what he’s up to or just say hi. 
Official blog, ‘Overly Verbose’ : http://mattschiariti.blogspot.com/ 

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