Divorced, broke, and living with her parents—forty-year-old Shannon Johnson is clearly winning at life.
She’s so awesome, she accidentally uses a tampon irradiated in Kazakhstan. Suddenly, this mush-mouthed loser becomes a superheroine who can shoot menstrual cramps from her fingers.
But her new mission of saving NYC’s abused women gets complex for Super 40. With her teleporting partner Dolly Poppin’, Super 40 runs afoul of domestic abusers, jerky news anchors, and an evil scientist with cats. Even worse, someone’s trying to kill the partners for reasons unknown, which is just plain rude. Is it the mysterious flying Antihero? The robo-kittens? Or one of the delightful internet trolls always eager to call Shannon fat and ugly?
No matter, for the amazing Super 40 will get her mojo back through butt-kicking, self-love, and some hot dates with the world’s yummiest superhero.
If you ever thought Bridget Jones needed a borked-out superpower, you won’t be able to put down the hilarious adventures of SUPER 40. She’s a heroine for every woman society deems unsuitable, which is basically all of us.
To heck with that!
From Lucy – My goal for this book is for every woman who reads it to feel like a superheroine herself–no matter her circumstance, abilities, or dress size.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book….was I expecting mystery? romance? humor? wacky characters? I don’t know for sure but that is what you get when you read this book.
The book starts off rather odd (IMHO) and Shannon is over the top in the first chapter. But as the book progresses she seems to level off and while she does not have a lot of her life together, becoming a super heroine seems to be a good thing for her. It gives her confidence which allows her to see beyond what has been projected on her by her family and ex-husband.
I haven’t even mentioned her super power yet – she can shoot menstrual cramps into anyone that gets in her way. And these aren’t “light ones” either. These are strong enough to take down a big hulking man! It is rather humorous as she tried to figure out what to call her power.
Shannon does find herself in some odd situations as a super heroine, but she muddles through along with another super heroine, Dolly Poppins (aka Kayla), because there really isn’t much of a handbook to give you guidance. She does have 3 men interested in her and while she each has their own merits, I think she has focused on one that really captures her spirit and possibly her heart.
I think Shannon learns a lot in this book and actually inspires others that seem to have a problem with turning 40. They realize that you do not have to act any certain way and that only you control your destiny.
If you can get past the first chapter (that was the hardest for me because I think I didn’t know what to expect with the book) I think you might enjoy it.
We give it 4 paws up!
About the Author
Lucy Woodhull’s writing began in the womb, where she composed haiku about being claustrophobic. Unfortunately, her mother interpreted this talent as “heartburn,” so Lucy’s gifts went unappreciated in the world at large for several years.
In addition to writing le steamy romantic comedy, Lucy pens parody and satire, for she dreams of being the literary Mel Brooks. (You should imagine air quotes around the word “literary.”)
Her motto is “Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you’ll short-circuit your Kindle.” That’s why she writes funny books, because goodness knows we all need to escape the real world once in a while.
Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.
Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop…one way or another. Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.
Someone ran into the room where Marshall had been sleeping. He’d been dreaming of being pursued by robed riders on skeletal horses. One person ran into the room, and then more people followed, their steps echoing everywhere. It got louder. He opened a tired eye, but he was alone in his apartment. The rumbling continued.
Then, the building was on log rollers, rumbling back and forth. Marshall was disoriented as he lay in bed. His body, always feeling a little oversized, seemed disconnected from up or down. Rudderless.
Marshall tried to remember if they were still on Earth. So many things had happened and it was di cult to keep track of everything. If he was still on earth then it was only an earthquake. Otherwise, it’d be a something else quake.
Same difference for what it meant, but the distinction seemed as important as anything else. It was at least as important as the fact it was happening, which itself wasn’t a big deal.
Marshall grabbed the side of the bed to pull himself out from under the blankets. He let his body roll onto the door and tried to stand. Nothing fell off the walls, but only because Marshall had never bothered putting anything up. He started toward his front door.
It was just the apocalypse. An earthquake apocalypse. The ground under people’s feet would betray them. Great cracks would open and swallow up men without thought, without intention. Buildings would crumble. People would die. Continents would shift. Life would change forever.
Marshall yawned. He rubbed sleep from his eyes. He ran a hand through his shaggy, black hair. Then he emerged from his apartment, sure his pale skin made him seem like a naked mole rat tentatively greeting the day.
In the hall, a flood of people screamed, and owed toward the stairs, pulling Marshall awkwardly along with them. He couldn’t be sure who was screaming. There were so many people everywhere. Nobody seemed to be yelling, but everybody seemed to be. It was disembodied screaming, and Marshall stopped thinking about it when he remembered he didn’t care about who it was.
The flow swept him down the cement stairs. No one took the elevators during an emergency. They were well trained. The flow surged Marshall downward. Some people tumbled, but only onto other people. No big problem. No one seemed to be getting crushed. There was that at least.
The mass broke outside, each out for themselves, running anywhere away from the buildings.
The instinct was to head for the open.
Marshall found himself in a nearby green space. It was like a park, but with nothing in it. Like a vacant lot, but mowed. It was probably important for something, but for the moment, Marshall thought it best for avoiding earthquake dangers.
There was a tearing sort of roar. Marshall looked up to see an apartment building separating into halves. Like a wishbone, though Marshall didn’t bother making a wish. Steel frames shrieked and twanged, snapped. Bricks crumbled to powder. The whole thing fell to the ground as if it was tired and needed to sit.
No people died though, apparently. It looked like everyone had gotten out. That was a nice thing.
Other buildings fell.
Then the shaking stopped. People looked around, Marshall along with them. Thousands of voices buzzed, probably trying to ask what was going on. Confusion. It all merged into a giant mass of noise-thought. Indistinguishable sound like listening to all the broadcast stations at once. No message remained in all the messages. Then the rumbling began again. Stronger.
A red-haired woman in a brown jumper grabbed Marshall. She pulled him down to her and jammed her tongue into his mouth, searching. Need.
Surprised, Marshall returned the rutting kiss.
The woman was short and curvy. The jumper stretched, emphasizing attractive bulges. Not that he’d had a chance to judge, but Marshall felt attracted. His instinct wasn’t to push her off.
She ground her hips into him, something to which Marshall was unaccustomed. It wasn’t like he’d never been with a girl before, only it was usually a lot more work. Meeting, expressing interest, pursuing, and mood setting. A choreographed and stylized dance. It was kind of refreshing to have one just show up.
Her hands groped at his belt. She moaned. “Come on. We don’t have much time. This could be it.”
Marshall froze, disgusted. His arousal drained. The redhead repulsed him. She smelled of saliva and sweat, though she’d smelled of sex a moment before. Her grinding now seemed like an attack, desperate. She clung like a maggot, a greasy, rotting maggot. The taste of bile rose in Marshall’s throat.
The redhead didn’t seem to notice, still humping Marshall’s leg. Maybe she didn’t care. She still pulled at his clothes, frantic. Drool leaked out one side of her mouth.
“Get me off. We’re going to die.”
Marshall broke away. Stunned, he didn’t go far. He had to get the redhead o him, get her out of his face. He couldn’t breathe.
The woman didn’t pursue. She almost didn’t pick up on his departure, instead grabbing a fat man nearby. She latched on and the fat man did the same.
“We’re going to die,” the woman shrieked as a crack tore through the green space, splitting earth, and knocking everyone o their feet. “Do it, now.”
The redhead and fat man pulled at their clothes, frenzied. As soon as a path was open, she thrust herself onto him. The fat man grunted, red-faced, and pumped furiously. They looked like pigs.
Marshall stared in horror, wishing he could look away. “Faster,” the woman screamed, “before it’s too late.”
The fat man’s flesh rolled. It jiggled and shook more than the world around them. The coarse hair on his hide was flecked with bits of white deodorant, and the scent of rotting milk wafted o of him. He groaned and squealed, frantically trying to finish. He barely seemed to notice the redhead.
About the Author
David S. Atkinson is the author of Apocalypse All the Time (forthcoming from Literary Wanderlust), Not Quite So Stories,Bones Buried in the Dirt (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® finalist, First Novel (under 80,000 words)) and The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (2015 National Indie Excellence® Awards finalist in humor). His writing has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Grey Sparrow Journal, Atticus Review and other literary magazines and journals.
Title: ON TOP OF THE WORLD (UNTIL THE BELL CHIMES) Author: David Lamb Publisher: Woolly Mammoth Books Pages: 240 Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Multicultural/Humor/Satire
2016 BEST FICTION-Pacific Book Awards. FROM THE FUNNY AND NATURALLY BRILLIANT DAVID LAMB, award-winning playwright of the New York Times celebrated play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, comes a modern spin on Dickens’ classic tale that perfectly combines humor and romance in a story re-imagined for our digital, consumerist age.
This version of Scrooge and Belle is familiar, yet unlike any you’ve come across before. Scrooge, or rather Scrooje, is music’s biggest superstar, with one hundred million albums sold, fifteen million devoted YouTube subscribers, two and a half million Facebook likes, and twenty-five million fanatical Twitter followers known as Scroojites.
Belle, is a legal shark who gulps down her opposition voraciously and whose beauty and stunning figure causes traffic accidents as she zips through the sidewalks of Manhattan stylishly adorned and taking no prisoners.
They never imagined being music’s most powerful couple, but that’s exactly what happened when Belle fell head over heels and gave the Coke-bottle glasses wearing, plaid and stripe attired, scrawny, biggest nerd on her college campus the ultimate makeover, turning him into a fashion impresario whose style sets trends from Milan to NY Fashion Week and who can be seen courtside at the NBA Finals sporting a perfectly-fitted cashmere suit. Then it happens. Belle realizes too late that she’s created a chart-topping monster as Scrooje’s ego explodes and he starts acting a fool.
Now, it’s been three years since they ve spoken. But tonight at Hollywood s biggest red carpet event, with the whole world watching, they’ll be given a second chance. Will Scrooje listen to the ghostly-advice of Marley, his best friend since the fourth grade, who at the time of his untimely drowning at his Brazilian poolside birthday bash was as big a star as Scrooje? Will Scrooje finally do right by his number one artist, Cratchit, a genius comedian, who Scrooje invariably rip offs every chance he gets? And with twenty-five million viewers tuned in will Scrooje finally shed his ego, jeopardize his image and declare his love for Belle, the one he betrayed and let slip away? Second chances don’t often come around. Will Belle even give him a chance?
Mixing heart, soul, bling and romance in a fresh, original satire about race, class and celebrity worship Lamb establishes himself as one of the most talented and amazing writers today. And leaves no doubt that the Pacific Book Awards chose wisely when they selected On Top Of The World as the year’s Best Fiction.
The devil doesn’t wear Prada, he wears Sean John and I was the idiot who taught him how to shop.
That was what I got for reading Frankenstein in college. I’d been turned into a mad scientist without even realizing it. Just my luck, I was a math major and the one literature course I took had tricked me into creating a monster.
When I first met Scrooʝe, he—like most humans with XY chromosomes—was a fashion emergency. Awkwardly walking around campus—lost, desperately in need of a haircut, and for some strange reason wearing glasses so big he looked like an owl hunting for prey. He was just plain pitiful.
But I have to confess, from the moment I saw him my heart sang a happy song and I couldn’t look away. Something between us was magnetic.
Hey, what can I say, I was always the kind of girl who liked rescue projects. When I was eight years old, I turned my family’s garage into a makeshift animal shelter, and damn near gave my father a heart attack when a hungry pack of strays rushed at him as he pulled into the driveway.
So naturally, one look into Scrooʝe’s sad puppy dog eyes and I felt right away—he was the one.
Before I knew it, we were college sweethearts and best friends. Of course, I had to clean him up, but after a few months under my tutelage everyone noticed his transformation. They saw that with his gorgeous toffee skin, deliciously full lips and sexy broad shoulders he was the cutest boy on campus. Pretty soon I had girls telling me I needed to start a makeover service.
That was how it all started. Who could have known that a simple makeover would unleash the devilish genius of the sweetest, shyest, most socially awkward boy I’d ever met, and transform him into music’s biggest superstar with an ego the size of Texas yet more fragile than an egg yolk? And a whole lot messier! Not me.
Without a doubt we’ve traveled a long crazy road together. Scrooʝe was the first boy I gave my heart to. Our relationship went from me rescuing him in college, to him rescuing me in law school, to our emergence as music’s power couple. He was the artist/entrepreneur, and I was the best lawyer love could buy.
And now, we’re strangers.
It’s been three years since we’ve seen or spoken to each other, and sometimes, against my better judgment, I find myself thinking about him and feel a smile creep across my face.
This morning was one of those times when my thoughts turned to Scrooʝe. Normally I’d tell myself off for not letting go, but today I gave myself a break. After all, it isn’t every day that you might not just run into your ex, but do it live on television at Hollywood’s biggest event.
“Everything’s gonna be fine, girl,” I told myself as I contemplated everything that could go wrong if we ran into each other at The Awards. I was especially dreading an untimely re-emergence of my long-standing “klutz curse”.
My whole life, I’d been jinxed with “inopportune clumsiness”. As the ring girl at my parents’ vow renewal, I stumbled, fell in the grass, and lost the rings. As a tiny ballerina, I was the best in my class, until the day of the recital when I went tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty.
Now with the whole world watching, I simply could not afford such an embarrassing spill.
As I sat in the back of a sleek limousine on my way to the ceremony, gazing up at the L.A. skyline, nervously checking my hair in the mirror for the dozenth time in half a dozen minutes, I tried to push down the queasiness threatening to erupt from the pit of my stomach. The last thing I needed was to step onto the red carpet covered in this afternoon’s lunch. The paparazzi would surely have a field day with that one.
Well, like I said it was exactly three years to the day that I stomped out of Scrooʝe’s life, but tonight we were both nominated for Awards. I knew God worked in mysterious ways, but now I was convinced she also had a sense of humor.
I never thought I’d be nominated for anything, but life had other plans. After we broke up, I quickly discovered that the best cure for PTRS—post-traumatic-relationship-stress—was writing. By the time I finished hammering those computer keys, I was author of an award-winning, best-selling, drama-filled, tragically comic novel that Hollywood just had to have. Now here I was nominated for an Award as one of the producers of the year’s biggest movie.
Once word got out that I was nominated, I was immediately blessed (or cursed depending on your view) with a merry-go-round of opinions. From my hair to my makeup to my shoes to my dress, from my eyebrows to my voice, to making sure I didn’t have ashy knees—everyone had an opinion. Normally I was unflappable, but with so many people giving so many conflicting opinions I was suddenly a nervous wreck. Finally, I stopped answering the phone because I couldn’t take any more unsolicited advice. If someone did manage to reach me on the phone, before they could even say a word I’d say, “No, I don’t know what I’m going to wear, and no, I don’t know how I’m doing my hair,” before abruptly clicking off. Unbelievable, Russell Simmons can show up without a tie and wearing sneakers, yet still be a style icon. But let a woman have one eyelash out of place and it’ll be the lead on the evening news.
Two nights before The Awards, I tried to veg out with an episode of Soccer Moms From Hell. But before I could lose myself in the drama, my cell phone buzzed with a text. “Oh, come on!” I yelled, throwing my hands up unnecessarily dramatically. Then I looked at it. It was from my father. He wrote simply—Be you.
At least there was one man in the world I could still count on.
Two days later, on my way to The Awards I tried to wrap my head around the idea that I’d soon be standing on the stage with millions watching. This was not part of the plan. I was a behind-the-scenes kind of gal, not at all attracted to the limelight. So, as I pulled up to The Awards, my nerves fluttered in my stomach like butterflies. But despite my anxiety, when I last checked the mirror I didn’t look too shabby. Thank God, Michelle Obama isn’t the only one who looks perfect in a Carolina Herrera gown.
As I climbed out of the limo and walked the red carpet, waving at the crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite artists, I thought about everything that had led up to this moment and even though I was anxious on the inside, on the outside I smiled as if I weren’t the least bit concerned all while praying for two things—please, don’t let me fall in front of all these people, and please, please, don’t let me run into Scrooʝe.
About the Author
David Lamb is a native New Yorker, born and raised, bitten with the writing bug since he was in elementary school and had handwriting nobody could decipher. Like Charles Dickens, David grew up a poor boy in the big city who found that the pen really is mightier than the sword. In middle school Lamb’s hero was David Lampel whose velvet voice could be heard reporting the news over David’s grandmother’s radio. Whenever he heard him on the radio, David would substitute Lamb for Lampel and pretend he was delivering the news. Sure that he was destined to be a famous reporter David was happy to go to a high school with a journalism program. Like most kids, by the time he finished high school he had a whole new career in mind. After high school he went to Hunter College and majored in Economics because he wanted to be cool like that college kid who came to speak at his last year of high school. He was an Economics major, he was dressed sharp and above-all the girls thought he was the man! So like any unreasonable high school boy fueled by overactive hormones David figured if he majored in Economics they’d think he was cool. After finishing college David went on to law school at NYU, but all the time writing was still his heart. While working as a lawyer by day, at night he transformed into a writer and eventually wrote and produced the award-winning hit off-Broadway romantic comedy Platanos Y Collard Greens. Being a writer and having the chance make people laugh out loud while challenging them to think about the world around them, and inspire each of us to believe in the power of love and our own ability to overcome life’s challenges is a great gift that David truly enjoys and thanks you for allowing him to share with you in On Top Of The World (Until The Bell Chimes).
Title: NOT QUITE SO STORIES Author: David S. Atkinson Publisher: Literary Wanderlus LLC Pages: 166 Genre: Absurdist Literary Fiction
The center of Not Quite So Stories is the idea that life is inherently absurd and all people can do is figure out how they will live in the face of that fact. The traditional explanation for the function of myth (including such works as the relatively modern Rudyard Kiping’s Just So Stories) is as an attempt by humans to explain and demystify the world. However, that’s hollow. We may be able to come to terms with small pieces, but existence as a whole is beyond our grasp. Life simply is absurd, ultimately beyond our comprehension, and the best we can do is to just proceed on with our lives. The stories in this collection proceed from this conception, each focusing on a character encountering an absurdity and focusing on how they manage to live with it.
This is a collection of shorter stories and I have to admit they are a bit bizarre, well some of them anyway! However they are interesting too. There are a few stories where they just end and in a way I felt let down, that there might have been more to the story that I guess we just have to make up on our own!
I like that some of the stories are short and some are longer. None of them take long to read and it is easy to put down if you need to stop for some reason.
I think one of my favorites was The Onion She Carried. The last line definitely made me smile in this story.
We give this 4 paws up.
Margaret’s heels clicked repetitiously on the polished marble floors of Finklebean’s Mortuary. The sharp sound echoed down aisles of metal-faced vaults in the chilled, solemn hallways. Her steps were quick but purposeful, her stride constrained by the tight skirt of her starched navy business dress. An invoice was clutched tightly in her talon-like hand. Someone owed her an explanation…and that debt would be paid.
Catching sight of the plain brown wooden door hidden off in a back hallway bearing a faded Caretaker’s Office sign, Margaret halted, causing her heels to clack loudly on the stone. She pursed her lips as she scrutinized the sign. As if using the white metal sign with flaking black letters as a mirror, she adjusted the smartly coiled chestnut bun of her hair. Then she shoved open the weathered door and marched inside.
“Excuse me,” she called out sternly before looking what the room happened to contain, or even whether it was occupied.
A portly man in old blue coveralls sitting at a rough wooden worktable looked up at her calmly. Long stringy gray hair framed his face around a set of coke bottle eyeglasses perched on the end of his reddened bulbous nose. A metal cart, half full of plastic funeral flower arrangements, was positioned next to the worktable. Individual plastic flowers littered the table surface.
Unlike the somber and silent polished gray marble trimmed in shining brass of the hallway outside, the caretaker’s room felt more like a basement or garage. The walls were cinderblock, unpainted, and the floor was bare concrete. Obviously, the room was not used for professional services.
“My bill is incorrect,” Margaret said, thrusting the invoice out at the frumpy little man between a thumb and forefinger, both with nails bearing a French manicure. “You maintain my grandfather’s plot, but this month’s bill is way over the usual twenty-five sixty-three…nine hundred dollars more to be precise. You may not be the person in charge of this, but you’re who I found.”
The older man quietly looked at her still presenting the invoice even though he had made no move to take it. “Name?”
“Margaret Lane,” Margaret said curtly.
“No,” the caretaker shook his mess of oily old hair. “I won’t remember you. I meant your granddad’s.”
Margaret pursed her lips again. “Winston Lane.”
“Ah, yes.” The heavyset man leaned back in his chair, putting his hands behind his head and cocking out his elbows. His belly pushed on the table slightly, causing loose plastic flowers to roll around on the tabletop. The flowers were separated into piles according to color: red, white, yellow, purple, and orange. “Winston Lane. His is over on hillside four, I believe.”
“I’m sure.” Margaret crossed her arms, still clutching the invoice. “So why do I have a bill for over nine hundred dollars?”
The caretaker hunched forward, setting his chin on a pudgy arm and wrapping a flabby hand around his mouth. “Let’s see…Winston Lane…bigger than normal bill…oh, that’s right!” His face brightened with recollection.
Margaret smugly waited for the expected rationalization to begin, the extras and add-ons designed to take advantage of the gullible grieving. She wouldn’t be so easily manipulated.
“He got an apartment.”
Margaret’s expression cracked.
“That’s what the extra money is,” he pleasantly explained. “It’s to cover the rent.”
Margaret stared, blinking occasionally. A thin purple vein throbbed angrily at the side of her neck.
The man smiled. Then he pushed his round glasses further back up his nose and grabbed one of the plastic funeral arrangements from the cart. It had a block of dense green foam set in a fake bronze vase and various colors of plastic flowers stuck in the foam. The man pulled all the flowers out in a single movement and set each in the respective colored pile on the worktable. Then he placed the vase in a pile of similar vases on the floor.
“You…rented my grandfather an apartment?” Margaret finally asked. “Why?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” the older man snorted, dismembering another arrangement. “He rented the apartment, not us.”
Margaret sneered, having recovered her self-possession and indignation. “Sir, my grandfather is deceased.”
“Yep,” the caretaker agreed. He started quickly taking vases from the cart, ripping them apart, and then tossing the materials in the respective sort piles. “Guess he didn’t like the plot he picked out. Maybe it wasn’t roomy enough, I don’t know. Some things like that you just can’t be sure of till you get in a place and stay there a while. Anyway, he must not have liked something about it because he went and got himself that apartment. He wouldn’t have done that if he’d been happy where he was at.”
Margaret stood rigid. The toe of one foot tapped irritably. “How could my grandfather possibly rent an apartment? He’s dead!”
“How couldn’t he?” The caretaker snorted again. “It’s a great apartment. Plenty of light. Nice carpets. Good amount of space. It’s got a nice pool, too. Not that pools make much of a difference to a guy like him, being dead and all. Anyway, take a look; happen to have a photo of the place right here. Can’t rightly remember why.”
The man handed Margaret a bent-up photograph he pulled from a coverall pocket. It depicted a pleasantly-lit living room with vaulted ceilings. Tasteful black leather and chrome furniture was arranged around a delicate glass coffee table. On top of the coffee table sat her grandfather’s mahogany coffin, looking just as stately as it had at her grandfather’s funeral service.
Margaret glowered, unsure what to make of the photograph, noticing after a moment that she was chewing her lip as she ground her teeth. Her brain couldn’t keep up, it was all just too ludicrous for her to grasp.
The man sorted more funeral arrangements. “So…you’re telling me that my deceased grandfather rented an apartment. Him, not you.”
“Yep. That’s the long and short of it.” The man jammed the photograph back into his pocket.
“My dead grandfather.”
“Yes’m.” He took the last arrangement off the cart and disposed of it as he had the others. He paused to dust off his hands. Then he grabbed a vase from the floor, jammed a plastic flower inside from each stack, and set the newly arranged arrangement on the cart.
“How could anyone rent my grandfather an apartment!?” Margaret threw up her arms. “He’s dead! The landlord couldn’t do that!”
“Sure they can,” the caretaker countered, paying more attention to the funeral arrangements than Margaret. “The building is zoned for mixed use.”
“Mixed use?! He’s dead!” She wiped her hand down her face slowly, stretching her skin as it went.
“So? He’s residing there. That’s a residential use. Certainly isn’t commercial.” The caretaker accidentally shoved two red plastic flowers in the same vase. Laughing at himself, he ripped them out again and started over.
Margaret stepped back, perhaps wondering if the caretaker was insane as opposed to just conning her. That would explain the photograph.
She crossed her arms loosely and tilted her chin upwards just a little, trying to mentally get a handle on the situation. Her brain felt like an overheated car with no oil in the engine. “I’m sorry, but that’s very distracting,” Margaret commented, pointing at the plastic flower piles on the worktable. “Is there any way that you could stop a moment?”
“Sorry.” The older man shook a thick calloused finger at an old clock on the wall, stopped as far as Margaret could tell. “I got to get this done.”
“But…what exactly are you doing? You’re just taking them apart and putting them back together.”
The rumpled man gestured at the flowers. “Well, people pay us to put these on graves, don’t they?”
“They come from a factory, don’t they? Someone paying someone else to bring something a machine made? I don’t think much of that. My way, there’s at least some thought in it.”
Margaret did not respond. Instead, she watched the man fill up the cart again. The arrangements looked exactly the same as before.
“Anyway,” the caretaker went on, “don’t you owe your granddad?”
“Pardon me?” Margaret puffed out her chest.
“Sure,” the man said, peering up at her through the finger-smudged lenses of his glasses. “He said when he bought the plot that you were going to take care of it and he was going to leave you money to keep going to school. He thought you should start working, but helped you out since you were going to mind his spot.”
Margaret swallowed, ruining her attempt to look indignant. A few beads of sweat gathered at her temples.
“You figure you’ve done enough?” The man had his head held low, hiding the tiny smirk on his face.
Margaret’s eyes widened. Her arms hung limply at her sides and her shoulders slumped. “But…”
“Hey, that’s between you two. I just take care of things like I’m paid to. If he wants his plot, I do that. If he wants a two-bedroom palace, I do that instead.”
Margaret absentmindedly twisted an old, ornate gold ring on her finger. Suddenly, her eyes narrowed as if the light in the dim room had gotten brighter. The meticulously squared corners of her mind twisted and stretched deliciously. “That’s right…it was a deal.”
“I agreed to have his plot cared for.”
“Well…” Her lips slipped into a pointed grin. “I pay you a fixed monthly amount to care for that plot. Apparently this apartment is his plot now, so the rent should be part of your monthly care. I expect you to take care of it accordingly. After all, caring for his plot is caring for his plot.”
“Now see here–”
“Regardless, I can’t help but think,” she went on, “that it reflects poorly on your services if grandfather isn’t happy with his plot, not mine.”
The caretaker gawked at Margaret, his mouth hanging loose. “Is that what you think now?” The older man finally growled.
“It is,” she responded with a saccharine tone, “and I expect that all future bills will be for the correct amount.”
“Hmph,” he huffed, settling back into his chair. “Wonder what your granddad would say about that.”
Margaret smirked. “You’re welcome to go and ask him, if you think it will get you anywhere.”
About the Author
David S. Atkinson is the author of “Not Quite so Stories” (“Literary Wanderlust” 2016), “The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes” (2015 National Indie Excellence Awards finalist in humor), and “Bones Buried in the Dirt” (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist, First Novel <80K). His writing appears in “Bartleby Snopes,” “Grey Sparrow Journal,” “Atticus Review,” and others. He spends his non-literary time working as a patent attorney in Denver.
Release Date: December 11, 2015 Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Small Town, Humorous/Romantic Comedy
Sweet Contemporary, 184 pages, 45015 words
Britt may be Hershey’s choice, but can the boisterous Labrador convince his owner?
Engineer Ryan Jerome has a knack for designing the future but can’t create one for himself. When Ryan lets his dog, Hershey, take the lead, going to the park is never the same. Unintentional meetings, a soiled coat, and a meddling mother are a few of the obstacles in his way of convincing Britt he’s not a stalker. Will he accept his dog’s direction and open his heart to the beautiful woman with a side of crazy?
Ruined weddings, divorced parents, and disastrous relationships have left event planner Britt Wells a non-believer in happy-ever-after. She’s readying for a future in interior design with one last wedding to oversee. Complications arise when she learns a suspected stalker and owner of an unruly dog is related to her client. Falling for Ryan and Hershey were not part of the plan. Can she put aside her doubts in relationships and take a chance on love?
A thunderous pounding trampled the ground behind her. She turned to glance over her shoulder, but the bench suddenly jolted forward to hover on its front legs before landing roughly on all fours. “Ohh.” She would have toppled face forward if her heels hadn’t been firmly dug into the grass. Britt straightened then froze in mid-motion. Warm panting breaths caressed the base of her neck. Her own breath suspended in her throat. Without moving her head, she shifted her stare to the right.
Two very large brown paws gripped the back of the bench.
“Bear!” Britt jumped to her feet. Her coat and cold coffee flew into the air in a tangled dance. With a racing pulse, she spun to see the vicious beast before her impending death. The image of a man doubled-over at the waist turned her panic quickly to anger. Beside the laughing man sat the dog she had mistaken for a bear.
“You arrogant jerk! How dare you laugh when your beast of a dog scared the life out of me.”
This is a light and clean romance but humor peppered throughout and a little tension between a few characters….basically a really good story!
I was in the mood for something light and this fit the bill perfectly. Britt is a frustrated event planner who has taken a week off to coordinate her best friend’s wedding. Ryan is unlucky in love, mostly due to his chocolate lab Hershey that doesn’t seem to like the women he dates. Dogs are smart and Hershey isn’t going to let Ryan date the wrong woman. And when Hershey senses Britt from across the park, he knows that she is the one for Ryan. Of course Britt isn’t too sure about all of this but who could blame her for falling in love with Hershey…and Ryan.
There are a few twists such as who Ryan is related to in the story (can’t divulge too much because it is quite interesting how things come about). There are some ups and downs in their relationship, but it all works out as it should (and if the book didn’t end this way it wouldn’t be a romance!)
If you like dogs and romance, check this book out. We give it 4 1/2 paws up
About the Author
Darlene resides on the East Coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, and Yellow Lab. When not working on her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loves to develop the many stories swimming in her head. She writes heartwarming contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners.
The Daddy Diaries is a humorous and poignant novel about a relationship between a stay at home dad and his two preteen kids. When his wife goes to work full time in a beach town in Florida, Jay must acclimate to life in the south. With a rich but stupid older brother, a lunatic townie friend and a teen son who’s ready to know what a “threesome” is, Jay’s world is thrown about as far as California to Florida.
Some Truths About My Writing
I would say I’m inspired to write from my observations of humans. I aim to tap into the familiar motions of people. There is so much we don’t say when communicating. A narrator can draw out all those unsaid things and hopefully find meaning in their description. I find myself in the depths of these human cracks, where people long for things they can’t quite reach. I love writing about these places we all face but don’t always know how to discuss. It’s easiest in a novel-sized manuscript to utilize both truth and fiction in my plot. Plot is also a bit of a funny word as it connects to my books, as I associate plot with more genre-driven fiction. I see my books as character driven, and then something Booklist described as domestic fiction. The fiction side is only part of the equation. The truth side is a major ingredient in my novels. The job is to pull from life. For The Daddy Diaries I took a framework from my existence at the time. My family moved to Florida from Oakland when my wife took a job in St. Petersburg, near Tampa. She’d go off to work, I’d take the kids to school and find a Starbucks to write bits of prose about being a dad. Maybe I’d write funny things my daughter said or just ponder my son’s huge feet. Bake sales, toilet overflow, lizard in the mailbox. The truth is parenting cannot be completely predicted. It’s an organism unto its own and needs to be lived, seen and smelled in the NOW to be realized wholly. I wrote and wrote and wrote, wanting to capture this truth. As the months past these entries would form into well-oiled chapters. I then stacked the chapters like a tower and restacked them until the best story immersed. Day in, day out, the characters grow in dimension and I make them speak to each other. I use less of an outline and more of a trust that the setting I’ve chosen and the people I’ve built will evoke meaning, texture, familial recognition, maybe even existentialism. I also draw from things my friends and acquaintances have told me about their children and their experiences in child rearing. Where it might be easy to believe that the son in The Daddy Diaries is my son, there are many things about “Alex” that are very unlike my boy. For example my son is 6ft. tall and loves to perform in plays. Like my younger brother, Zach Braff, my son has been bit by the acting bug.
I was a stay-at-home dad in 2000. At the time I was positive I was the only Dad in history to ever stay in his pajamas with a baby on his lap after his wife went to work. My son would nap and I’d run laundry, sponge the highchair down and flip the TV on to see women in commercials doing laundry and sponging off the highchair. I was the only man at the playground. The only guy at Jamba Gym Jambori. It would take ten years before I started to see Dads in Tide ads and on TV shows wearing Baby Bjorns. These days being a househusband is strangely ubiquitous and the country appears filled with young Dads in this nurturing role. I remember thinking it would be timely to write a book about the kind of father I was so fortunate to become. I met my wife in the 7th grade so it’s hard to say I married a woman for her ability to bring home the bacon. We fell into our roles as we discovered who we were as people and I feel so lucky that my path involved the inclusion of my children and their early growth in life. I come from a generation that still defines marital roles the way it was written in the 50’s. You, Dad, go to the office, and you, Mom, stay home to vacuum. But just in time for me to observe my children becoming independent humans, the country seems hyped by the prospect of adults raised by loving male parents. I really love the book, and also talking to people about parenting. Somehow it’s a topic that cannot be called a lost art, because it’s never been deemed worthy of study. It’s just something people take on, when they’re of age, or maybe not of age. I venture to suggest it be taught in school. I’ve been married 20 years and fall into a small percentage of people that got it right the first time out. I congratulate my 22 year old self for committing so fervently to love. But I won’t lie. We got lucky. The bottom line of what’s working for us is the connection that our history awards us. In this soup is nostalgia, shared memories from childhood, heaps and heaps of muscle memory that’s centered in our physical and mental union. A union that has gelled as a team that nurtures growing children, pays bills, buys food and aims to bring calm and true love to every single evening we share. There are lessons that can be taught about this setup. I say high school is not a bad place to start. A week in the life of health class. Today we will discuss marriage as a science or art form, and not through religion. Today and only today, let’s look at marriage as a portal to raising children into adults that are capable of passing on our most unique quality as a species; out ability to teach how to love.
About the Author
Joshua Braff is the author of three novels, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, Peep Show, and The Daddy Diaries, published May 5, 2015. The Daddy Diaries is a memorable take on contemporary fatherhood and a clear-sighted look at how the upending of traditional marital roles can affect the delicate balance of familial love. Braff’s work can also be found in The Huffington Post and in multiple anthologies. He has an MFA from St. Mary’s College and lives in Northern California with his wife and two children. Visit his website for more information.
Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:
The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.
All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.
Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.
In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads.
Jason’s smile dropped away, replaced with a silent, open-mouthed slug of resignation, that whatever was happening was authentic, and unfolding in real time.
In a shared-brain moment Jason and Theo slowly panned in Jamie’s direction until finally she felt their accusatorial eyes lock on her. And though neither of them spoke, the imputation of blame came through with perfect enunciation: What did you do? What’s coming?
But what could she say? Which cluster of words could encapsulate both the scope and nuance of their predicament? Jamie could offer a pretty good guess as to why their immediate surroundings morphed before their very eyes—it had to be Brigsby-related, didn’t it?—but when it came to the what, she was equally mystified.
So all she could do was stand there. She blinked a few times. Then a few times more. The night went bracingly still, as if every fractal of sound had been drained from the Universe. The three of them held in place, petrified, as if the incredible forces converging upon them were seemingly just to be unleashed. Which, of course, they were.
About the Author
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.
As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.
Today is Mother’s Day, so first off, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there whether you have the 2 or 4 legged kind of kids. Secondly, I’m sure most of you will be able to relate to these time honored traditions of them wanting to spoil you. But never fear, Pauline has some great tricks to help you get the most of your day!
8 Hacks for Mother’s Day (For When You Really Wish They Wouldn’t)
By Pauline Daley-Parril
Breakfast in Bed
It’s five minutes past dawn and you hear your kids banging cupboard doors down in the kitchen. Soon there will be syrup and pancake batter dripping from the walls, floors, countertops and overhead fixtures. Worse yet, you are about to be compelled to consume a plateful of cold pancakes that are burnt black on the outside while still remaining uncooked on the inside, all swimming in a bathtub’s worth of syrup.
The Hack: Quick. Hide the syrup. Give them a bag of chocolate chips and a package of paper muffin cups. Ask them to count all the chips into the cups. Tell them you would like a banana and twenty-thirteen chocolate chips for your breakfast. Ask Daddy to supervise. Hurry back to bed.
Did your kids spend all of 47 seconds last week pouring school glue and dropping pieces of macaroni onto a piece of heart-shaped construction paper? Now you have to store that adorable handmade creation at the back of your closet for the rest of eternity with the rest of the collection of Penne necklaces and pasta shell pencil holders, right? That proves you love them right?
The Hack: Feeding them proves you love them too. Boil up a large pot of salted water, drop in the collected works, put your feet up and wait till all the noodles are al dente. Drain, toss in a handful of shredded cheese and voila! An easy mother’s day dinner is served. Don’t forget the paper plates.
The Husband With a Poor Sense of Timing
The minute you launch the kids on their way with the bag of chocolate chips, guess who slides back into bed beside you with less-than-minty morning breath and rough unshaven chin? Did he just scrape/nuzzle the back of your neck and offer you a “steamy” Mom’s Day present in the shower?
The Hack. You do want your pillow back right? If you want to unpoke his tongue from your ear fast, tell him he is a sweet boy and then remind him to call his Mom today to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. Point out that an early call might be bad timing as maybe his Dad is also giving his Mom a steamy morning kiss right about now too. Use descriptive adjectives to make sure he gets the picture. Then punch him playfully in the arm and cackle, “Aren’t you just a chip off the old cock?” As he begins to gag a little, mention that you just downed a handful of chocolate chips. Mistake! Aren’t they just ripping right through you! Yell “outta my way,” jump out of bed and hop towards the bathroom with your hands pressed against your backside.
The Spa Day: Did you get a gift certificate for a day at the spa? Nope, neither did I. Don’t let that stop you.
The Hack: Of course the answer is to book your worthy self in for the salt scrub flotation cabin, lotus glow massage and mani-pedi with truffles as soon as possible.
Every mother loves getting a gift of cut flowers right? Trouble is now you have to clip the stems properly on a 45 ° angle with a sharp florist’s knife, creatively arrange the blooms in a vase like the Pinterest people are watching, and change the slimy water everyday. As if you didn’t have enough to do. The baby is teething and the toddler is trying to flush the cat down the toilet and now you are in charge of freshening up those candy-pink Carnations.
The Hack: Fill a carafe with red wine and let it aerate for five minutes. If the baby is crying very loudly, feel free to skip the breathing step. Carefully arrange the blooms in the empty wine bottle. If you have too many stems, you may open a second bottle.
There is no known hack for your Mother–in-Law. Deal with it.
In all the bustle and fun of enjoying your special day, did you forget to call your own mother to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day? I know. I forgot too. Kill me now.
The Hack: Google images to the rescue. Spice up your apology message with some links. Recommended search terms: “shirtless hot dudes.” “Old Spice Guy + snake. For a few blessed moments, she will probably forget that she ever had you. Of course you still owe her chocolate.
The Hugs and Kisses
Who needs to hack a Mother’s Day kiss and hug? It’s totally the best part. Take all the sweet squeezes and smacks that you can get—even if the chubby fingers are smeared with chocolate chips and the bearer of the lips still needs a shave.
About the Author
Collette Yvonne has written more than 150 articles published in Ontario’s Dailies. Her short story, Snapshots for Henry, was made into a short film directed by Teresa Hannigan and received a 2007 Genie nomination for Best Live Action Short Drama. More of Yvonne’s short stories, including From the Cottage Porch and Wild Words 2010 appear in published anthologies. She is a graduate of Toronto’s York University with a BA degree in Creative Writing, creating both fiction and non-fiction works. Her latest novel, The Perils of Pauline was published by Astor + Blue Editions in January 2015.
Title: Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story Author: Janine A. Southard Publisher: Cantina Publishing Pages: 265 Genre: Contemporary Lit/Humor Format: Paperback/Kindle
What can your phone do for you?
This is the story of a girl and her iPhone. No, that’s not quite right. This is the story of a middle-aged statistician and her best friend. Though she didn’t consider herself middle-aged. And the best friend was more of a roommate-with-whom-she’d-developed-a-friendship. And this description completely ignores the 6,000-year-old elf with whom the woman and her best friend enjoyed story gaming.
So let’s try this again.
This is the story of a woman who wished to find love, but who would rather play story games than actively look for it. Especially in the wake of a horrid break-up six months before from a man who had never sent her a single gift.
Until this Valentine’s Day, when she received a brand new iPhone in a box with his name on it.
Between story gaming and succumbing to the phone’s insidious sleekness, she learns that friendship trumps romance.
In Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story, award-winning author Janine A. Southard (a Seattle denizen) shows you how the geeks of Seattle live, provides a running and often-hilarious social commentary on today’s world, and reminds you that, so long as you have friends, you are never alone.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
This is the story of a girl and her iPhone. No, that’s not quite right. This is the story of a middle-aged statistician and her best friend. Though she didn’t consider herself middle-aged. And the best friend was more of a roommate-with-whom-she’d-developed-a-friendship.
And this description completely ignores the 6,000-year-old elf with whom the woman and her best friend enjoyed story gaming.
So let’s try this again.
This is the story of a woman who wished to find love, but who would rather play story games than actively look for it. Especially in the wake of a horrid break-up six months before from a man had who never sent her a single gift.
That man, who is otherwise unimportant to this narrative, had no sense of timing.
He had, foolishly perhaps, expected something different from their three-year relationship. He’d been after crazy spontaneity and over-sexualized Carnivale stereotypes from his Brazilian-American girlfriend, whereas she’d merely expected companionship and a proposal.
So when the breakup arrived instead of a ring box, it came as quite a shock to Morena (for that was the woman’s name). And on this day, when she saw a package on her kitchen table sporting his return address (likely carried inside the night before by her staggeringly drunk roommate), she almost took it down, unopened, to the recycling bin in her apartment building’s garage.
But she didn’t.
In a fit of whimsy disguised as righteous fury, she wielded a utility knife and tore into the obviously reused box with Amazon.com emblazoned on the side. She slashed at the cardboard and threw packing peanuts all over her matted beige carpet, which had witnessed many a discarded packing peanut before.
The carpet didn’t mind, but it would have worried about usually sensible Morena’s mental state if it had the kind of mind that knew how to worry. But it was a carpet, so it didn’t.
If this book were a movie, the non-trash-bound contents of the box would now be surrounded in a soft yellow glow. There would be swelling music whose pulsing undertone would let the viewer know that this, THIS, was a significant moment. But since this is a book (and, for Morena, this was real life), these things did not happen. Instead, she got a paper cut from the crumpled newsprint that cushioned a very ordinary-looking iPhone.
This is a rather bizarre book. It is told from a narrator’s point of view, which was quite humorous at times with some of the comments. The story hits on some really good points – that we are too tied to technology (Morena’s obsession with the iPhone – even if it was magical), you don’t have to have a boyfriend/girlfriend to be happy and that sometimes friends are all you need.
I did like Magic Guy – an elf that has lived for centuries and was the only person that could see the damage the iPhone was doing. Suzyn was a fun character and despite her problems, was a very talented artist. With this bunch of quirky characters it is no surprise that they became friends.
The overall story was good but it did take me a bit to get into it…not sure if it was my mood or something else.
We give this 3 paws up – if you are in the mood for quirky this might fit the bill!
About the Author
Janine A. Southard is the IPPY award-winning author of the Hive Queen Saga, as well as other science fiction and young adult novels and novellas.
The Hive Queen Saga books blend cultural experimentation with epic as they follow a formalized Hive of teenagers on a voyage to new lands and new cultures where their own ways seem very strange. The first novel in the saga, Queen & Commander, has been described as “like Joss Whedon’s Firefly but for teenagers” by the YA’s Nightstand. The second book, Hive & Heist, is a classic heist tale set on a space station.
Queen & Commander received an IPPY (Independent Book Publishers) Award for science fiction ebooks in 2013. Outside the Hive Queen Saga, the science fiction novella These Convergent Stars was selected as the short ebook recommendation of the week at Tungsten Hippo on 29 January 2014.
All Southard’s books so far have been possible because of crowdsourced funds via Kickstarter. She owes great thanks to her many patrons of the arts who love a good science fiction adventure and believe in her ability to make that happen.
Who hasn’t suffered in the workplace with a strangle-worthy boss? With humor and charm, “Animal Cracker” offers up a bunch of smart women who plot to get the goods on their boss at Boston’s venerable Animal Protection Organization.
Animal Cracker’s a comedy and a mystery! Diane Salvi has found the job of her dreams in a pet rescue operation. Her gorgeous boss should be on her side, but instead obstructs her efforts to promote more animal adoptions. Is he merely annoying, or guilty of something much, much worse? Diane, her reporter roommate, and some savvy women in the office join forces to find out.
Readers rave! “Hilarious plot is cleverly crafted around believable characters… couldn’t put it down, found myself laughing out loud through the plot’s twists and turns, and would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys great dialogue and three dimensional characters.”
More from readers: “Worth missing a night’s sleep.” And “I laughed and cried, but mostly laughed.”
Animal Cracker is the perfect read for anyone seeking sharp writing, clever women, and a great page-turner. You don’t need to be an animal lover to love Animal Cracker, but if you are a champion of animal rights, you can’t miss this one.
Hal is definitely a character you will hate. I suspected what was uncovered near the end (hate to write cryptic reviews but don’t want to spoil anything) and thought that Hal got what he deserved.
Diane is in a job she loves but just has to work for Hal, but at least she has a support network because no one else there likes Hal either.
The characters bring in a myriad of personalities and motivations to round out the story and make it interesting. I enjoyed the story although parts were not very realistic with what we see in today’s world….but this is fiction so the author can take some liberties IMHO!
There were a handful of F* bombs in the book, but thankfully not very many. I appreciate when the author is able to write a book and not use this word repeatedly.
We give this book 3 1/2 paws
About the Author
Andi Brown has enjoyed a successful career as a professional fundraiser for several nonprofit organizations. She is proud of her track record in securing resources that have enabled worthy organizations to fulfill their missions.
Andi is a graduate of Colgate University, and has studied creative writing at the University of Iowa and Boston’s Grub Street. She enjoys few things more than speaking French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese with the locals she meets during her travels.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Andi has two young adult children and lives in the Boston area. Her experiences as a lifelong “dog person” inspired her to write Animal Cracker. When not working or writing, she can usually be found, knitting needles in hand, eating chocolate.