Posts Tagged ‘kardashians’

Once in awhile, though seemingly quite often for me, a book cover or synopsis catches your eye and that’s all it takes to send you hurtling down that literary rabbit hole. December is a month of wishes. Wishes for things under your Christmas tree/mistletoe like Gillian Anderson, and before the day is done there will be wishes for the New Year. And we could really, really use some good stuff for the new year, since 2016 has been a wee bit surreal (and that’s just saying it nicely). So when I came across Dead Souls on the “New Arrivals” rack I was intrigued and like a heroin addict that’s been working overtime at a heroin factory… I had to get my fix. What was all that bollocks about “wishes” about, you might ask? Stick around, mate.

Fiona Dunn is having a tough time in her relationship with some bloke named Justin and on one rainy night in Oakland (California) she sees him getting in a car with a strange blonde woman on his way to a “business trip” to Seattle. It is also important to mention that lady was standing in the rain, bare feet, in pajamas, and locked out of her own apartment. So what’s a bare-footed, rain-soaked, woman to do when she’s locked herself outside of her apartment? Seek solace in the nearest drinking hole. There she meets a strange, enigmatic fellow named Scratch who chats her up, buys her drinks and makes an offer for her soul with the obligation of special favour that will be demanded of her at anytime. Yes, you didn’t read the last part incorrectly. Being the avowed atheist, she is, she thinks it nothing more than small talk and goes along with it. And then the shit gets real … and strange. First, Fiona discovers that she sort of project herself, invisibly, into places and spy on people. Apparently, she’s always wished that she was invisible. And if that didn’t make her stop and pass rabbits, then there is Scratch’s strange ability to be able to contact her at any place at any time. And then … when things couldn’t get any more weird, Justin shows up … with that strange blonde who is actually his (yes) sister and it turns out that Justin is down with something terminal. As Fiona drives around California trying to assess the how much crazy pills she’s been taking, she comes across another strange fellow, taking photos in a cemetary, named Alejandro and he seems to fancy her. Turns out that Fiona and Alejandro has a lot in common: Scratch. He introduces her to a sort of support group called the Dead Souls (hence the name of the book), sort of a support group for folks that may have unwittingly sold their souls to the Devil. And quite the motley crew they are: Renata (a professor of queer studies that wished to be straight and pretty crapped on her career and former gay relationship), Gary (a tech startup founder who wished that his company traded well), Jasmine (a woman that wished for the gift of clairvoyance), and of course, Alejandro (who wished that his photos will make successful). Sounds like a cute version of Daniel Webster meets an intervention. Not quite. The book gets really dark faster than the Northeast in early fall and people and things aren’t all that they seem. And as people wait for that dreaded favour to come in, many try to solve their way out of their contract with Scratch only to find that they are all part of some sick Macheveillian game.

To call Fenn’s tale creepy would be like calling the Mona Lisa a drawing. It’s dark like night in the swamps and as vicious as the serpents that slither through it as every page turn keeps you biting your nails as you brace for revelations within revelations. Don’t expect any happy endings in this one … just maybe a few silver linings and that’s it. In some strange way it might explain some of the unspeakable things that happen in this world: active shootings, terrorism, strange politics, Kanye West, the Kardashians. But what do you expect … when you make a deal with the Devil. Sure he delivers … but when it’s time to pay those dues… that’s the killer. So just be careful when you’re at the pub and some hip bloke “playfully” offers to buy your soul, you might want to walk away from that one … regardless what you believe. Just saying, mates.

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It is February, the month of romance. The coldest and shortest month of the year. The most dreaded month (by many singles) in the year. A chance for many corporations to make a killing as they pedal romance in the form of card and chocolates and jewelry to the chagrin of long-suffering single folks out there. But nothing says “in your face corporate romance” like being single, and chowing down chocolate nougats as you watch The Crow with Brandon Lee (or so I’ve been told) on Valentine’s Day. Dear, oh dear. It seems that I’ve detoured a wee bit … and I haven’t even started the blooming review as yet. Very well, on with it. Shall we?
So as we welcome Cupid and his bleedy misguided arrows, the Evil Parrot decided to do the unthinkable. Yes, it was something I claimed I would never ever, ever attempt … to read erotica. Gasp. Yes, the Evil Parrot decided to take one for the team, well for some decent reasons: a way to finally use the erotica category on my blog; it was written by Anne Rice, need I say more; and had to satisfy my curiosity as to why it appeals so much to the ladies (naughty, naughty, naughty … very naughty …tsk, tsk). I guess next I’ll be singing It’s Raining Men at our next after-work karaoke meet. Like bloody hell on that one.
Back in the early 80s, a time when there was no Web, Twitter, Facebook, Kardashians, and music that were eclectic though very listenable and delightful, Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure) had written a trilogy based on the Sleeping Beauty … with a slight BDSM twist. Let’s just say it made 50 Shades seemed like Sunday school required reading (though I would worry about such a “Sunday” school). Needless to say, I’ve read bits and pieces of this trilogy, and at the time I had yet the courage to completely read much less borrow such a book from the library. What can I say, I was a teen during the 80s, might have been a bit randy … and faced the possibility of embarrassing myself by standing/walking and looking like Robert Plant as he did “Piece of my love” back in the days, after daring to read those books from cover to cover. And yes, my wonderful memory has a tendency to loop things, many times at inappropriate moments. Not much has changed. Too much information? Aye, I think so too, probably destroyed more potential dates.
Beauty’s Kingdom continues from where the trilogy left off. Enter the kingdom of Bellavalten. A kingdom that thrives on what is called pleasure servitude. And yes, feel free to read as much as possible into that phrase, and you’ll probably be right. Imagine a world where carriages are drawn “ponies”: naked, toned human males or females bound with reins, bits and yes, saddles. Gardens filled with “slaves” willfully submitting to all desires. Where punishment is pleasure, and sometimes pleasure can be its own punishment. When the current queen, Queen Eleanor, is lost at sea, there is worry about what will happen with the kingdom of Bellavalten and its …ahem …way of life. Queen Beauty is sought, along with her king, Laurent, and brought to Bellavalten. Upon hearing about the arrival of Beauty to Bellavalten, many lords and ladies arrive from other lands to willingly enter into the wonderful world of pleasure servitude and most of the book is devoted to this titillating, tantalizing process that is written ever so sensually yet yielding the potential of literary weapons-grade Viagra. Along the way there is mention of the mysterious Prince Lexius, whom upon appearance near the end of the book basically turned the erotic world upside down (and might force a few blokes to question their sexuality … be warned, chaps). Anne Rice’s writing of all things sensual and erotic is very natural and doesn’t seem forced. Like many of writings about preternatural beings there is a subtle sensuality and an erotic undercurrent that does not go unnoticed. Her descriptions of feasts, and celebrations, are so vibrant that you long to be in this strange world taking part of the festivities, spankings and all (um .. or so some might think). In her writing of Beauty, the leash (pun possibly intended) is off where there is no subtlety and undercurrents and like all her books, aside from the whips, paddles, slap, tickles, and what’s not, the characters pull you in and for some reason you keep reading. Despite the fact you get weird stares by folks that read over your shoulder on the public transit. Or your sexuality questioned at some points. And the occasional winks from certain scary women. Note to self: if I must read erotica … again …(which may be never … again) … go e-reader.

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Co-author(s): Kevin Maurer

In No Easy Day, Mark Owen took us through the famous raid that led to the finally removal of the nutter known as Osama Bin Laden, and all that led up to that point which included his training. In No Hero, Mr. Owen returns to talk about excerpts of other missions he was a part of during his stint in SEAL Team 6, and even some life lessons that he learned during his time with the SEALs. Mr. Owen takes us from his humble upbringings in Alaska to his first meeting of an actual Navy SEAL onwards toward his early years of Navy SEAL training. His vivid descriptions of his training at times can be as nerve wracking as some of his missions. Through it all, however, Mr. Owen’s voice is ever humble as writes about his extraordinary life in the SEALs. There is something delightful about his post-deployment of ritual of stopping in at Taco Bell for a taco … something that many of us take for granted. No Hero is not only a constrained chronicle of the life of a noble and valiant man, it also offers some very interesting life lessons. One such moment (for me) was Owen’s encounter with a mountain climber in Las Vegas and the concept of working within “your three feet world”. Brilliant piece of advice for occassionally overwhelmed, multi-taskers such as my self. Quite the eye opener, that one. Earlier in the book, Mr. Owen writes about the meaning of his title for the book. Though it is humbling that Mr. Owen sees himself as anything but a hero, I have to respectfully say that I strongly disagree with him on that. In a world where some narcissistic tart and her family are celebrated simply because they have some shitty reality show and offer the world nothing more than need for more attention (yes, Kardashians I am talking about you) to paraphrase Bonnie Tyler: “we really need some real heroes”. Any person that puts up with the most grueling, training regimen in the world and then goes off to some spot of hell on this earth, for the sake of country and fellow man, is, in my book, a hero. And in my books, Mr. Owen you are … in the truest sense. God Bless you and yours and the rest of your days under the sun. And thanks for the “three feet world”.

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It is October. The month in which we all tend to indulge in things that give us the hibbie-jibbies. Or possibly soil our undies. Dark things. Disturbing things. Scary things. Things more scarier than Kanye West’s ego, the Kardashian’s fame or the wanks in Washington. Aye, it is the month where Syfy, AMC and tons of other networks on the telly go into overdrive with their horror marathon. And so I shall take a cue. Pleasantries out of the way … and .. here .. we … GO.

Victoria McQueen (aka the Brat) is a precocious young woman with a crappy upbringing and a really cool Raleigh BMX bike which she loves to ride. This, however, is not just some ordinary bike and Victoria McQueen is not your ordinary tomboy. Some days, the BMX bike acts like a knife that cuts the fabric of reality allowing Victoria to cross over into another world by a portal in the form of a covered bridge (aka the Shorter Way Bridge). In this world, Victoria can find whatever she’s looking for from a lost mother’s bracelet to … trouble. Which brings me to Charlie Manx. Like Victoria, Mr. Manx is also very special but to a terrifying degree. Adding to the creepy factor is the fact that he drives around, with the aid of some Igor types (in this case, Bing Partridge … sexually depraved manchild and tosser), in his 1930s Cadillac Wraith that only plays Christmas songs. Aye, it could be worse … think Ke$ha, Mylie Cyrus, or Rihanna. Like the BMX, the Wraith is Manx’s reality fabric cutter that takes him and unwitting children to Christmasland where everything is anything but jolly. On a fateful crossing of the Shorter Way Bridge, Victoria is hurtled in the future, encounters Manx and … survives. The good news is that this is just the beginning of things to come. It is also safe to say that is also the bad news. Hill takes us on what could be easily summed up as a terrifying (literary) joyride … at night … with a psycho … who’s driving with one hand on the wheel … and other holding a semi-loaded gun, playing a game of Russian roulette … pointed at you in the passenger seat. Bloody hell … you say? You’ve got that right.
Charlie Manx is the sort of bloke that would make even your local boogeyman piss himself senseless before he hands in his retirement papers. And yes, would most likely have most of us checking out the closets and basements before turning out the lights and entering a nightmare-marinated sleep. Hill’s NOS4A2 is like a careening, bloody car chase down a dark highway and every page just prods you into turning the next (sleep and bodily functions be damned) page. Most definitely not to be read on a full moon night (trust me on this, you’ll see what I’m talking about), or if you live next to creepy neighbours that wear WWII gas masks. A warning to ALL readers: try not to get too attached to some characters. There … and that’s all I’m going to say about that. As a good, blood-curdling, bump-in-the-night, blood-splattering read, NOS4A2 does not disappoint. Yes, quite the understatement. And Mr. Hill has found a coveted spot in my mental “library”.

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