I was skeptical of the subject matter: a home-invasion gone wrong. I've seen a few bad movies and read some short stories with this premise that just fell flat mostly. In this case, I was very pleasantly surprised by Russo's story. It shot write (right) off the page from the moment the story opens. I needed two pages before I was fully committed just because at first I was not sure what was happening, but once the smoke cleared and I understood what was going on, the narrative held tight like cinching a plastic bag over a criminal's head. The story weaved and bobbed beautifully, taking us on both a captivating interior journey of a psychopath's thought process and the people around him who are trying to deal with his extremely unpredictable behavior that in the end always has one goal: to cause mayhem and get what he wants by any means necessary. No real caring existed in Skooley's mind, but you are curious where his manic psychosis will take you next and for that reason, it's a roller-coaster ride with many unexpected turns. Highly recommended for those who like crime novels and don't mind some graphic violence.
About an alcoholic named Jacaranda Leven who goes gets involved with the rich and beautiful people of “The Barge” in Hollywood, then moves to Santa Monica to surf and discovers she has a talent for writing. Her love for a lithe, gay man named Max belies her existence. Once she starts writing, the “dear friends” of the barge no longer wish to associate with her out of both fear and contempt. She spent much time blacked out and awakens with bruises, suggesting she was at least molested and probably repeatedly raped or participated in Caligula-like orgies. In NYC, she gets clean and discovers she and Max and Etienne have little in common except being lost children of the world.
This book is very well written. Unique phrases and poetic license add to the aura of mystique around the world Jacaranda inhabits. It also creates a sense of being lost among imagery and the daily blackouts she experiences. She is different, not a typical character. Her thoughts are more disjointed, presumably from doing a lot of drugs but also because she has a different mind. As for story-telling, the book is confusing and disjointed. You must accept this and explore the poetic aspects of this story rather than get caught up in knowing what's happening at all times otherwise you will get frustrated. I believe it's worth reading and is very different, but not for mainstream consumption.
Gene finished 2nd in the annual competition with a 1,000 pound prize. Gene’s piece told the story of his family’s trip to Peru in 2017. The full story can be seen here: The Spiritual Land of Peru.
Special thanks to the.travel.awards judges and a nod to my fellow writers who finished in the top 3: Chris Watts (winner) and Sara Moore (3rd).
Thanks to Partners In Crime Tours and all the great blogs that agreed to host Dark Paradise starting with Bound2Escape on Jan. 1, 2019. What a way to start the year. Please help me show how much we appreciate their support by commenting and visiting their blog.
Later this month I have guest blogs and interviews scheduled as well, so check them out, the whole tour is listed if you follow the link below. As always, thank you for the support.
"Our West Indian Neighbors; The Islands of the Caribbean Sea, America's Mediterranean: Their Picturesque Features, Fascinating History, and Attractions for the Traveler, Nature-Lover, Settler and Pleasure-Seeker"
This book was interesting in its historical context, especially about the volcanic disaster in St. Vincent in 1902 (2 years before this "travel book" was written). 50,000 people died when that volcano erupted, one of the greatest natural disasters in the western hemisphere. Some interesting facts and feelings about the islands and their different strengths and weaknesses. Hearing about them before Castro or the US purchase of the Virgin Islands is also very different.
Blog Tour for Dark Paradise coming Sept. 10-16. Look for giveaways and fun posts on guest blogs all over the net.
Post your photo with your e-book or hard copy of Dark Paradise on social media and share on Gene’s Facebook Instagram or Twitter page over the next two weeks (Sept. 10-23) and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card to be awarded on Monday, September 24th.
The blog tour is running Sept. 10-16th. Please check out the schedule below. I have guest blog posts on these blogs! Go on to hear my latest ramblings!
So the first chapter peaked my interest. The scenario amazingly curious, but then the novel devolves into too much interior life of Claire and her trauma over her father's disappearance, mother's attack, and nanny's murder when she was 4 years old (I think). Then around page 93 the book kicks back into gear and sweeps you along as Claire attempts to unravel the mystery of her father's disappearance and the murders he's accused of. She is an amateur sleuth who has struggled with this for so long that she only has a few disjointed relationships with friends and her brother. Everyone worries about her all the time and because it's more or less all she can think about, for the most part any relationship ultimately needs to carry her closer to the truth or comfort her in some manner. A story about isolation and need, this book delivers but you have to be patient. I especially loved her description of what it's like to be alone in someone else's home when they are away. She crafts sentences very well and as an American she has an amazing ability to capture the British way of speaking. I have not read Under the Harrow but that is on my short list. I look forward to more from Ms. Berry.
As you can see my reviews are not timely. I read what comes to me then write about it. Ian Fleming came up because a reviewer of Dark Paradise mentioned Fleming as someone I compared to favorably, a wonderful compliment, then I decided to tackle a James Bond novel to remind myself after many years of not reading a Fleming book, how it would come across. Well, pretty favorably. On Goodreads and Amazon, I have this sucker 4-stars. Here's the gist:
Bond and a policewoman team up to uncover a plot under the British government’s nose by a terrorist named Hugo Drax, who is in fact an SS officer who survived, but because he grew up in England, convinced the Brits he was another man, then got them to finance him to build a “test” atomic rocket called “The Moonraker” that’s to be tested in the north sea, but under the noses of the Brits he got a real warhead from the Russians and has aimed the missile at London. Bond and Gala Brand of Scotland Yard, who has worked undercover on the project race against time. Issue: makes it look like Gala is an idiot and Bond figures it all out in 4 days…also seems kind of obvious when reading that Drax is a bad dude, but they don’t see it. Also, how did the Brits let a group of Germans have total control only 10 years after the war. Well written but a bit far fetched.
Wow, what a fun, literary yarn straight from the world of Holmes and Doyle, but better with a female protagonist named Harrison "Harry" Fearing Pell, the nineteen-year-old younger sister of a legendary detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, who remains mysterious throughout as we only learn about her from the viewpoint of Harry. I loved the skepticism Harry shows throughout about what's happening. Her best friend, John Weston (Dr. Weston), is convinced it's supernatural as the victim, Becky, performed a seance to bring forth a demon, then was murdered. The Bradys show up and hire Harry on the assumption she is Myrtle, an assumption Harry does not dispel. Harry is smart and eager to prove she has worth beyond simply being the younger sister of Myrtle. Using her wits, charm, and good-looks, she makes her way through the slums, high society, and supernatural worlds to pursue a serial killer terrorizing NYC only months before the more infamous Jack the Ripper began his spree in London. A fascinating story of whodunnit that thrusts the reader into danger at every turn, I loved this story. The characters had unique voices and the writing made me feel claustrophobic when called for (I had to stop reading because the feeling overwhelmed me) and giddy with anticipation. I thought a lot about the book and I appreciated that I could play along with Harry in using the clues to make an attempt to solve the murders. Ross' metaphors were descriptive without overburdening the prose. The nods to other stories like Arthur Conan Doyle's and J.K. Rowling's also made it delightful for someone who enjoys literary references.