Archive | June, 2008

Voodoo Bones by Melanie Atkins

29 Jun

 

Detective Matthieu Bergeron has seen his share of violence. After having captured the Bayou Ripper, he is called to a crime scene where his worst fears are brought to life: a dead body is found with the exact same MO as the Bayou Ripper. Did he capture the right man or is the killer a copycat?

The crime scene is in a small apartment above Vous Deux, a small voodoo shop owned by Noel Galliano. Having just moved out on her own to open her own Voodoo shop, Noel is understandably shaken up by the murder.

However, she is more shaken up by Detective Mattheiu Bergeron. Instantly attracted to him, she tries to put her feelings aside. The killer must be caught before there can even be the thought of a relationship.

Matthieu, for his part, tries to focus on the investigation but can’t get Noel out of his head. It has been a long time since he’s been so attracted to a woman and Noel fascinates him. His feelings for her are put into overdrive when the killer returns to the apartment above Vous Deux and leaves a few presents for Noel.

One of the presents is a Voodoo Doll with a picture of her face tacked on the front. Matthieu vows to protect Noel from the killer who has now made her a target. But while protecting her, can he protect his heart?

Or will they both give into the passion that surrounds them?

Voodoo Bones is one hell of a read. From the first page, you’re pulled into Melanie Atkins wonderful story. It’s filled with delightful twists and turns and has a surprise ending that you won’t see coming.

Atkins’ has written a strong police procedural that is both riveting and fast paced. This is something hard to do. Most procedurals come off dry and boring, but Atkins has added a touch of Voodoo to spice things up.

She’s also given us characters to care about. Matthieu is flawed but focused, Noel beautiful yet down to earth. From the moment you meet them, you care about her characters, you feel for these people and you want them to get together.

I loved the character of Ayana. A Voodoo practitioner, she came across as eccentric, wonderful and simply fantastic. I loved her to pieces. She was a lovely dash of Southern charm and a treat to meet within the pages of Voodoo Bones. The one thing that I loved most about her was that, even though the practices Voodoo, the character is never over the top. Atkins makes her more real because of that.

I finished off Voodoo bones in less than a day and I was sorry to see the end of it. The characters are wonderful, the danger very real and the romance hot and sensual. If you’re looking for a great book to read for Summer, make sure that Voodoo Bones is at the top of your to be read pile.

It’s one hell of a book that leaves you wanting more.

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The Road to Cana by Anne Rice

20 Jun

 

People fear what they do not understand. But what if you feared yourself?

Jesus, or Yeshua Bar Joseph as he is known to his family, is just past thirty years of age. He is well aware that there are those around him who still whisper about his birth: the Magi, the gifts, the Angel coming to prophecy his coming. But he wants nothing more than to live a normal life amongst his family.

He longs to be a normal man but those around him watch. They wait. The winter has been cruel, dry and no rain has graced the land around them. And so they hope that Jesus will bring great change. It is only a matter of time.

While those around him wait for his greatness to reveal itself, Jesus struggles with his lot in life. In love with a kinswoman, Avigail, Jesus knows that he cannot marry her. He does not know everything that is planned for him, but he knows she is not for him.

Torn inside, Jesus wonders what his lot in life truly is. He wonders how long he will have to wait before his true purpose is made clear to him. When brigands attack Nazareth, Avigail is harmed, shamed. To save her virtue, Jesus prays to God to bring rain.

And he does. When the townspeople come to Jesus to ask him to stop the rain, He again asks God for help; and the rain stops. The whispering around Jesus reaches a fever pitch when news reaches them: Jesus’ cousin, John, has emerged from the woods speaking of a prophet, a Messiah. John knows that this Messiah is Jesus.

Now Jesus must come to terms with who he is and his destiny; or succumb to temptation by the Devil…

Having read Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, I was more than eager to get my hands on Anne Rice’s new novel Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana. It continues the story of the life of Christ as he heads towards his destiny.

Frankly, I was a little worried. I was worried that the second book wouldn’t be as good as the first one. I loved Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt so much. I’ve read it countless times and it’s become one of my all time favourite books. Would The Road to Cana be as breath taking, as incredible, as beautiful?

I needn’t have worried. Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana is just as meticulously researched as Out of Egypt was and just as beautiful if not more so. In Out of Egypt we saw Christ as a boy. Now we come to know him far more intimately as he struggles with the man he has to become.

What I love most about this book is that, though Jesus is divine, Rice has done an amazing job of portraying him as human. She has really given us the ultimate study in human nature as Jesus struggles and then accepts what he is, what he must do. She shows us a man who knows what he must do and the sacrifices he makes to do it.

Now, I’m not a Christian. I normally don’t read what I would call Christian fiction. Most Christian fiction actually makes me a little uncomfortable. But that doesn’t matter. Rice has written a novel that goes beyond the religious aspect of Christianity and embraces the spiritual. This is not a book about religion but a story of love, family, forgiveness and redemption.

You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy this book. I know that there are plenty of people out there who probably don’t want to give it a chance based solely off of its subject matter. I’ve had people scoff at me when I told them how incredible Rice’s Christ the Lord books are.

I know that some of you, reading this review, are still scoffing. But they’re amazing books, people. And Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana is the best book that Rice has ever written. It transcends genres and religion and is seriously good storytelling and amazing historical fiction. Its prose is like poetry and I was moved beyond words as I read it.

I know that I will be reading Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana again as I eagerly await the next instalment in the life of Jesus.

 

Confessions of a Chatroom Freak by Mr. Biffo

20 Jun

I must confess that I am a late comer to the idea of chatrooms. When I first stumbled onto the Internet, the idea of chatting to people I didn’t know held little to no appeal for me. I didn’t understand the thrill that some people got from chatting in Internet chatrooms.

What I didn’t know is that most people go into chatrooms to have cybersex or meet up for sex; thus the excitement. It seems I was chatting in all the wrong places. I wasn’t surprised at the huge amount of sex chatrooms. After all, the Internet itself has three uses: Porn, Information and Porn. Everything else is just fodder.

I never had the guts to go into sex chatrooms though so I have never really been able to experience what those kind of chats are like. Thankfully, Mr. Biffo has all the guts I don’t have and more and has written one of the funniest books of the decade: Confessions of a Chatroom Freak.

Posing as LoopyLisa21f, Biffo entered singles and sex chatrooms and talked to men about the most hilarious, hysterical things, least of all sex. How wonderful is that? And thankfully, Mr. Biffo has preserved all these chats for us! Confessions of a Chatroom Freak contains transcripts of genuine conversations between LoopyLisa21f and many, many men.

That may sound like a very simple premise, but Mr. Biffo takes it to the next level. Not only does LoopyLisa21f talk about sex, she talks about all manner of things including farting, cats, flooding apartments, disciplining children, forehead models, car engines, snogging in cages and more!

If this sounds too good to be true, it isn’t! Confessions of a Chatroom Freak is utter glorious madness and I for one couldn’t be happier! It shows you what really goes on in Internet chatrooms if you haven’t been brave enough to do it yourself and reveals an underside of men that is usually hidden.

It’ll also make you laugh until your sides hurt and tears are running down your face. I have never laughed so hard, ever, while reading a book. I can’t describe how incredibly laugh out loud funny this book is, I don’t even have the words.

To give you an idea, here’s a brief exchange between LoopyLisa21f and one of her would be suitors:

Swanvester1975: are you really Loopy?

LoopyLisa21f: I don’t know about that, but I’m certainly quite itchy! My cat has fleas, you see.

Swanvester1975: ok not fun

LoopyLisa21f: I’ve scratched a hole in my t-shirt already, and I’m practically through to the bone on my ankles. That ins’t even a lie!

LoopyLosea21f: What’s good for lea-bites-other than rubbing your shines against a flea-ridden cat, that is? Ha. Ha. Ha.

Swanvester1975: vinegar

LoopyLisa21f: Urrrgh! I’m not drinking that!

LoopyLisa21f: I could mix it with some orange squash, I suppose.

Swanvester1975: are you mad!?

LoopyLisa21f: You’re the one who told me to drink vinegar. It isn’t my idea.

LoopyLisa21f: It might taste better if it has ice cubes in. Hang on.

LoopyLisa21f: I’m going to find out. One moment please.

LoopyLisa21f: …..

Swanvester1975: hello??

LoopyLisa21f: OK! Back now.

LoopyLisa21f: I have to say – That is the most DISGUSTING drink I’ve ever had.

LoopyLisa21f: I took two big mouthfuls, but most of it came out again – through my nose and bottom.

Swanvester1975: jesus

LoopyLisa21f: That is the most revolting thing I have EVER tastd. Worse even than the time Craig made me eat a bit of mud he’d picked.

LoopyLisa21f: I can really taste the vinegar through the squash and the ice. I thought it would be disguised more than that, but it isn’t at all.

Swanvester1975: u off ur trolly. Took your mind off the bites though

LoopyLisa21f: Yes but now I’m thinking about doing some vomiting.

LoopyLisa21f: Do you want some advice?

Swanvester1975: yes

LoopyLisa21f: Don’t ever dilute orange squash with vinegar and try to drink it. It’s horrible. You see – it will make you want to vomit.

Confessions of a Chatroom Freak is pure, unadulterated lunacy and bedlam and I loved every word. Mr. Biffo has written an excellent case study of the Internet, men and sex and has rolled it all into one hilarious book.

If you need a cure for the Winter Blues, there’s no better cure than Confessions of a Chatroom Freak. It’ll make you laugh, giggle and snort. But be warned: If laughing like a lunatic in public places is your thing, than read Confessions of a Chatroom Freak.

People will wonder why you’re laughing so hard, they’ll need to get their own copy! This is seriously great fun and an absolutely amazing book! Get your copy and start laughing today!

 

 

 

My Boyfriend is a Twat by Zoe McCarthy

20 Jun

I have dated a lot of men in my life. And most of them have been tw*ts. After each break up, I always promised myself that I would not date that kind of man again, that I would not fall under the spell of the Tw*t.

The only problem was that I didn’t know how to recognize one. I had no idea that Tw*ts come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes, that there is no real way of preparing yourself, of arming yourself against a Tw*t.

That is, until now.

Zoe McCarthy, author of the award winning blog My Boyfriend is a Tw*t, has compiled a book of the same name which is subtitled: A Guide to Recognising, Dealing, and Living with an Utter Tw*t.

Finally! A book for all of us who have dated Tw*ts, loved Tw*ts, are living with Tw*ts! Something to help all the Tw*t lovers unite and discover their secrets of annoyance! I opened the book with glee, expecting a very funny, tongue in cheek book about Tw*tdom.

It includes chapters on The Tw*t (or how to recognize one), the Tw*t at Home, The Tw*t at Play, the Tw*t at Work so that you can recognize a Tw*t wherever you go. It even includes a quiz so that you can find out whether or not your current squeeze is a Tw*t or not; probably one of the most important quizzes you will ever take!

Never did I expect that, as well as being incredibly funny, the book would also be moving, insightful, reflective and deeply personal. Part guide, part memoir, My Boyfriend is a Tw*t is a very personal and revealing look at what living with a Tw*t is like and how Zoe handles herself.

I knew from reading her blog that the book would be funny, but I had no idea that the book would be so personal. As I read, I was awed by Zoe’s humour, her perseverance and the strength of her character and spirit.

The book isn’t just about living with Tw*ts. It’s about recognizing that, though the Tw*t may be stupid sometimes (or all the time) and does an incredibly bizarre thing, that’s okay. Because love is where you find it, or where it finds you.

What I love most about this book is that, even though Zoe is using her life as an example, she still has enough courage to laugh about everything. Through most of this book, I was laughing so hard that tears slid down my cheeks.

It’s a lot harder to write in a humorous way than most people think and I applaud Zoe for writing such a work. It’s one of the funniest, most heart felt, beautiful books I’ve read in a long time and I know I’ll be reading it again.

My Boyfriend is a Tw*t is really a study of human nature, of what makes Tw*ts tick. It’s an intimate look into one woman’s life and I applaud her courage for writing it down for us all to enjoy.

If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Read it now, buy three copies! One for yourself and two for your friends who are dating Tw*ts! You’ll be doing them a favour, trust me!

 

 

Nothing to Write Home About by Michelle Abadie and Susan Beale

20 Jun

 

I have always loved postcards.

I have collected postcards for years. Every time someone is travelling somewhere, I always ask them to bring me back a postcard. They’re cheap, light, take up no room whatsoever and give me a glimpse of somewhere far away.

To me they represent places that I long to see, that I long to visit. More than that, they’re really pieces of time caught on cardstock, thin little time capsules that can hold all manner of things: music, laughter, conversation.

Postcards manage to capture the imagination with a picture and then retain something of the moment they were bought; perhaps a holiday or a business trip or a wedding. The postcard becomes marked with secrets when it is bought and when it is written upon.

In reality, postcards are markers of time. They are an instant in our past and present, a second of time or the few minutes one has spent scribbling away on the back. Postcards are magic; they let us see into the lives of others, just for a second, and see things we may not have seen.

In Nothing to Write Home About, Michelle Abadie and Susan Beale have compiled a collection of John Hinde postcards. From the sixties to the eighties, John Hinde postcards flourished in popularity, their dream like images transporting you to somewhere different, somewhere magical.

The pictures on the front of the cards are many and varied and Abadie and Beale have collected what must be every John Hinde card known to mankind. The images are colourful, bright, and incredible. The pictures sing to you and you want to breathe in the fresh air, the blue sky.

What’s more, they showcase the talents of a photographer who is widely unknown because he chose to focus on postcards. This collection of postcards is an amazing tribute to an incredible photographer and an amazing artist.

But, really, what Abadie and Beale have collected are pieces of time. They have created the ultimate time capsule, the ultimate look at other lives, other moments. Along with each full colour reproduction, they’ve also included the message that has been written of each of the post cards.

How can we not read? How can we not peek at words written by someone else? I loved the images but was utterly fascinated at the words, the emotions on the backs of these postcards.

I have a lots of favourites, but there were a few that stuck with me :

23 May 1967, sent to Porthcawl, Glamorgan

Dear E., Just a P.C. of a place you may remember. Had 2 letters from your solicitors, will let you know my requirements. Hope you are O.K. Walter

12 Sept 1974, sent to Wifeliscombe, Somerset

Dear Mr. Greedy, just a note to say that I shall be in London in time to discuss a letter I had from a Mar. Capon from Budapest. See you soon. Ben.

1 July 1966, sent to Malvern, Worcestershire

Tried to call you. It was a last minute decision…best wishes Gordon

1988, sent to St. Martins Infant School, Bedfordshire

Tell Jesus You Love him.

29 Jan 1971, sent to Cockermouth, Cumberland

This is a very nice hospital and everybody is kind but I’ll be glad to see the back of it soon. Love mother.

The more I read, the more I was struck silent. What must have been happening during the lives of these people? What mysterious thing were they writing about? Who did they send their postcard to?

My brain was filled with gorgeous images but hundreds of questions. The more I read, the more I wanted to know about each person that wrote each of the postcards. All the cryptic writing reminded me of spies or perhaps star crossed lovers communicating? Or maybe a separated husband and wife going through a divorce?

My questions will never be answered. That, I think is the beauty behind Nothing to Write Home About. Each page is a piece of time, a snapshot of a moment. A glimpse into a second that has passed us by. But Abadie and Beale have gathered them up for us and compiled them into minutes, hours, days and weeks. They have given us a magic book and I was spellbound with every page.

There is one last postcard I would like to share with you if I may and here it is:

Date unknown, sent to Bolton-by-Bowland, Yorkshire

Snowing like man, skiing not bad altho’ I think I’m taking it too seriously – must laugh when all over. Nothing to write home about. Love Kate and Keith

Indeed, it is something to write home about.

Michelle Abadie and Susan Beale have shown us that, while we may think our words worthless, our memories unimportant, what they really are is magic.

One postcard at a time.

 

 

Gents by Warwick Collins

20 Jun

Meet Ezekiel Murphy.

Needing work, he takes a job working as a toilet attendant at a men’s washroom in the London Underground. Working with two other men, Reynolds and Jason, he figures this will be just one more run of the mill job.

He is mistaken.

One day while cleaning the bathroom, he watches as two men leave a cubicle together. Another time, he watches as someone kneels on the ground while the other man stays standing.

Appalled, he asks Reynolds and Jason what is going on. “It’s the reptiles.” Jason says. Apparently the bathroom in which they work in is a popular spot for “cottaging” or gay sex. Many men cruise the washroom looking to get off.

What shocks Ez the most is that these are seemingly normal men. He observes one gentleman he saw in a cubicle with another meet up with his family. “Took your time,” the wife observes. He wonders if he should say anything; wonders if it’s his place.

The three men are dealt a further blow when they are given an ultimatum: cut down on the amount of gay cursing in the washroom or the London council will shut it down. Suddenly, the three men find themselves in between a rock and a hard place having to confront an enemy they know nothing about.

They decide to take matters into their own hands. They start to observe the “reptiles” and their habits; they start to fight back. But what are they fighting most?

Their own prejudices or the rights of others?

Gents may be a small novel but it packs a mean wallop. Clocking in at only 172 pages, many would under estimate the power of this slim volume. They would be unwise to do so. Gents take an in your face look at many issues that other writers would cheerfully avoid: homosexuality, washroom sex, cruising, races, culture, prejudice and racism.

Gents has so much power because it looks at all these issues and more in such brutal, unashamed honesty. You never feel for an instant that you are reading something that should be shocking or scandalous; though, looked at separately, many of the books subjects do indeed cause scandal.

Collins has also created some of the most likeable, wonderful characters I’ve ever encountered in literature today: Ezekiel, a West Indian immigrant worried about providing for his wife and son. Jason, the Rastafarian who has two wives. Reynolds, their supervisor, who tries to remain distant from their situation but can’t help getting drawn in.

These people breathe. I don’t think I can say it clearer than that; they are people I know, people I talk to every day. They are real and honest and true people. It takes a talented writer to create characters with such finesse; characters that I feel I’ve known for years. It takes not only a writer but a magician to create with such simplicity.

Gents is written in simple, precise words. You won’t find any purple prose here; because of the writing style, the issue is right there, out in the open, waiting for you to acknowledge it. Though the language is simple, the words have power. The book doesn’t take a political or social stance. It sets everything on the table for you to read and makes no judgments.

Though many would argue that this is a book about homosexuality, it isn’t. This is a book about people who are forced to confront something within themselves and make a decision that affects others. It’s not about gay cruising. It’s about the power of the human heart when you are asked to confront something you don’t understand.

Gents is a treat, a joy and a pleasure. I am reading it again for the second time. I was moved, swayed and held by the power of Collins words and Gents is a novel that will haunt me for some time to come.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern

20 Jun

After a horrible accident, Joyce Conway is trying to put her life back together.

 

Her life and her marriage are in pieces, but Joyce tries to get back to living a normal life, despite advice from others. But something is stopping her. 

 

She keeps having dreams of a beautiful blond haired girl, of places she has never been. She knows things that she shouldn’t about art, about architecture. She sees a beautiful woman in her dreams.

 

Joyce sees and knows things she should not know. And it all started after her accident. Wanting to get to the bottom of things, to discover the reason for her newfound knowledge, Joyce tracks down her blood donor…

 

Justin Hitchcock is a lonely man.

 

He hasn’t dated since his marriage broke up. Instead, he contends himself with touring universities, talking about art, about the only thing he has passion for in life. He knows he’s lonely, knows that he needs to heal.

 

What he doesn’t know is that his life is about to change.

 

When a beautiful woman convinces Justin to give blood for the universities blood drive, Justin has no idea that giving away a few drops of his blood will change his life forever. He has no idea that by giving something from his heart, he may receive the very things he needs to heal it…

 

I have been a long time fan of Cecelia Ahern since her novel P.S. I Love You. I also never miss an episode of her hit show, Samantha Who. Even so, I wondered how good her new novel would be; no one can be so consistently funny, it just doesn’t happened.

 

Well, with Thanks for the Memories, the impossible has indeed happened! This is a heartwarming, laugh out loud romantic comedy that has everything you could want: laughs, strong characters, excellent writing, wonderful plot twists and a happy ending.

 

Though the novel requires you to suspend your disbelief for a moment or two, that’s okay because the characters make this story worth it. Joyce’s father, Justin and Justin’s friends are stand out secondary characters made all the more enjoyable because of Justin and Joyce themselves.

 

They’re such wonderful characters; you’re rooting for them to get together from the very beginning of the novel. It’s rate that I read a novel with such a wonderful cast of characters, but Ahern has created wonderful people that I actually cared about by the time the book was over.

 

Thanks for the memories is a magical, incredible read that will hook you from the first page and not let go. It’s summer reading at it’s best and an absolute delight. If you read one good book this summer, make sure it’s this one.

 

You’ll remember it for a long time to come.