Michael’s Wings by Tiffany Reisz

 

michael wings

Michael’s Wings by Tiffany Reisz is a collection of short stories and novellas surrounding the relationship between Michael and Griffin of the Original Sinners series. Griffin has just proposed marriage and Michael doesn’t know how to respond. Living as homosexual lovers is one thing and then as Domme and submissive is another. But to be married?

Michael leaves Griffin and rushes back to New Orleans and into the whips and arms of his Mistress Nora. Can she help him find the truth in his heart and his love for Griffin?

Tiffany Reisz and her Original Sinners series is one of the best erotic series to be found in this modern era and I am not exaggerating. Mistress Nora and Master and Lover, the Priest Soren are the center of a cast of characters whose lives are as interesting outside of the bedroom as they are within.

Michael has always been protected by Nora and his relationship with Griffin allowed him to explore not only his sexuality but his emotional feelings as well. With Griffin, he allowed himself to feel loved for once in his life and accepted without the sense of being wrong. Griffin also came into the relationship with his on set of issues and with Michael he has find the love he didn’t even realize he was looking for.

This is what Reisz has done so well with her Original Sinners books. She has created a humanity within them that goes so far beyond their sexuality. She also proves once again, that her stories do not need Nora to make people care and want to read them.

If you are offended or made uneasy by male to male sex, then this is not for you. Because Reisz is not afraid to write honestly and emotionally for all her characters. While highly sexually charged, her novels are not solely created for titillation. Instead they are true emotional romances written in a world we may not understand. But the emotions that are shared are ones that we all hope to feel and hold dearly.

A beautiful addition to the series.

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Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

woman
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki is a book that I actually enjoyed even though I can’t really tell you why. There were no characters that I could relate to and in fact, most of them I found annoyingly offensive on every level. One reviewer made the comment that it addresses the “complexity of motherhood”….are you fucking kidding me? Woman No. 17 is touted as a sinister, sexy, noir about art, motherhood and female relationships set in the hills of Los Angeles. It is not sinister. It is not sexy. Art plays a part and if this is what passes for motherhood in this generation than I am really concerned for the children of this generation. It is set in the hills of Los Angeles, California.

Lady Daniels, want to be writer, has decided to separate from her husband and her life. She wants to write a book about raising her son, a young teenage boy who has decided to never speak. He is not deaf and not medically mute.But he simply won’t speak. This is something Lady has decided to write about. The intimate details of raising her voluntary mute child. Lady realizes that she cannot watch her teenage son and her younger child without help. She searches for a nanny and finds an eclectic young artist who goes by the name of S.

S is a young failed artist who is doted upon by her father and scorned by her mother. She decides for her next art project she will live it. She becomes the woman who has influences and damaged her the most throughout her life. She pretends to be her own mother and taking those traits on, becomes the nanny to an affluent indulged woman and her two children. Only one of them is not a child and soon, the relationship between S and Lady’s oldest child grows into something far more intimate.

Woman No. 17 is a good novel. It has good prose and pace and has you turning pages as quick as you can to see what else is coming. What it is not is everything that it is being touted as being. This is not about motherhood, unless your mother is a Kardasian. It is not about female friendship unless female friends are as shallow and fake as some kind of spy thriller out of the cold war. It is not about art but it is about the shallowness and the self indulgence of an artist. This is not about family unless it is about how you can use the intimacy of family to move herself ahead in your chosen field no matter the pain you cause to your family.

It is, in short, well located in the hills of Los Angeles, California.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big little lies
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is absolutely a gem of a book that surpasses its flaws with characters you will love and love to hate. This is soap opera on steroids. Big Little Lies is the story of three women who are faced with their lives changing and a world that is changing even faster around them. They are also faced with the burden of their own pasts that threaten to hold them down.

Madeline is a powerful, forceful and opinionated woman who is slowly losing her grip on her family and her life. She’s funny, sexy and sarcastic, but as of late she is beginning to feel the drag of her age. Her ex-husband and his organic yoga obsessed young wife have moved into her small beachside community. When her first husband left her and their daughter, Madeline had to raise their child on her own. But now, re-married with a two more children, she finds her oldest child choosing her ex’s family over hers. Choosing the new wife over her own mother and her dead beat ex-husband over the man who helped to raise her.

Celeste is the most beautiful woman in the town. She has two young boys that she cannot control but no one dares to do more than stare. With her successful husband she seems to have the perfect life. She has beauty, money and a family. But behind her facade is a marriage built on control and violence. From both sides. A relationship that is poisoning her own children.

Jane, the single mom who just moved into town doesn’t fit in at all. Her child, Ziggy, doesn’t seem like any of the other children. Like his mother, he is odd for this little beachside community but it is that difference that will upend this small affluent town. Jane will find that her worst secrets have roots here and when they are released will bring scandal and ruin to some.

For Madeline, Jane is that lost and deserted puppy that she has to save and while she feels she is losing her own child, quickly moves to replace her with Jane. As Jane is getting attacked by the other parents, Maddy and Celeste circle the wagons around their new friend and soon the parents in this small town find themselves at each other’s throats. But when the secrets of the past come to bear, the truth of the past is too much and the result is death.

Okay, first of all, I have not seen the television series and after reading this book I am very eager to do so. Second, this is by far, not my type of book and the premise and story in of itself, has such gaping holes that I would normally toss it aside out of feeling incredulous. But then, this is at its core, something out of a Mexican novella. No what not only saves this book and in fact raises it so high above its genre are the characters. Flat out, theses are characters that you will not only care about, you will become pissed off, ecstatic and then scream at as they do things that are at once outrageous and egregious but oh baby please don’t stop!!

Yeah, its kind of like that. Maddy is a character that you will read through others just to get to the parts she is not only in, but dominating. Because, seriously what else can she do but dominate. Celeste is the porcelain doll, her beauty overshadowing everything else about her but that is fool’s gold because there is steel under that porcelain and she is definitely something to be reckoned with. Then there is the main character, Jane, and well Jane, well she needs a good session of therapy or bitch slapping. Its as if someone wanted to create the epitome of victim in the dictionary and lo and behold here is its complete definition. Thankfully Maddy and Celeste are here to take care of her and keep the pages turning. Because that is absolutely what they do. They turn pages. They keep you reading and they keep you so interested that you will not only read this book but you will watch the show as well, which though I haven’t seen it, I know it doesn’t come close to this book.

Big Little Lies is about the people you love and the people you hate because anyone who has ever had their child in school, has met these parents.

A hell of a good read.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

breakdown
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris is a psychological thriller about the descent into madness or the fear of it. Told through the eyes and mind of Cass, a woman whose mother suffered from dementia at a young age and who is paranoid that she is going to fall prey to the same disease.

“…I rack my brains, trying to remember, trying to guess what we might have decided to buy. It could be anything-perfume, jewelry, a book-but nothing rings a bell. Had I forgotten? Memories of Mum, uncomfortable ones, flood my mind and I push them away quickly. It isn’t the same, I tell myself fiercely, I am not the same. By tomorrow, I’ll have remembered…”

Driving home on a rainy night from a party, Cass takes a dark rural road through the woods against her husband’s advice. Along the way she spots a car pulled over but she knows that she cannot stop. Who knows why the car is stopped. It could be a trap on this secluded road. As she passes she thinks she sees a woman in the drivers seat. But she does not want to take the chance, she has heard of gangs setting traps on dark roads for people who stop to help broken down vehicles. But what she learns the next morning horrifies her.

“…In the bathroom, I lock the door and turn on the shower, wanting to drown out the voice in my head telling me that the woman who’s been found dead is the one that I passed in my car last night. Feeling horribly shaky, I sit down on the edge of the bath and bring up the Internet, looking for news. It’s Breaking News on the BBC but there are no details. All it says is that a woman has been found dead in her car near Browbury in Sussex…”

Cass can’t stop thinking what might have been had she stopped. Could she have saved the woman or is it possible that she might have become another victim of the killer. Now she is wondering if she is safe. Could she have been spotted late that night on that road. Does the killer know it was her? This goes through her mind as well as the possibility that it is all in her mind. That she is creating a reality around the murder of the woman. That she is now showing signs of the illness that destroyed her mother.

“…And while I wait, he asks me gentle questions, wanting to know what triggered my meltdown. I listen as Matthew explains about me barricading myself into the sitting room while he was at work and, when Dr. Deakin asks if there’s been any other worrying behavior on my part. Matthew mentions that the week before I’d become hysterical because I thought I saw a huge knife lying on the side in the kitchen when in reality it was only a small kitchen knife. I sense them exchanging glances and they begin speaking about me as if I’m not there. I hear the word ‘breakdown’ but I don’t care because the pills have already begun to work their magic…”

This is the essence of The Breakdown. Is it a murder mystery of a woman on a secluded road in the woods or is it the loss of Cass’s mind and memory as she slips into madness? It is also its greatest weakness of this novel. If fluctuates between the two and never really develops one or the other. Paris’s first novel, Behind Closed Doors, is much more intense and driven. The Breakdown is a step backward in plot and storytelling.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

emma
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker is a suspense thriller about two sisters, their mother and the cruel sickness that drove them. Three years ago the Tanner girls disappeared, but now, only one of them returns home. This is the story she tells.

“…When my sister and I disappeared three years ago, there was nothing but blindness.
They found Emma’s car at the beach. They found her purse inside, on the driver’s seat. They found the keys in the purse. They found her shoes in the surf. Some people believed she had gone there to find a party or meet a friend who never showed. They believed that she’d gone for a swim. They believed that she’d drowned. Maybe by accident. Maybe a suicide.
Everyone believed Emma was dead.
As for me, well-it was not as simple as that…”

Fifteen year old Cass and seventeen year old Emma Tanner disappeared in the dark of night and the police, the FBI and their own family could find no trace of them. But for forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Abby Winters, there was always far more to the story than the girls running away. The Martins, the girls’ mother having re-married after divorcing their father, were rich and the girls got the best of everything; clothes, schools, friends. There was no obvious reason for them to run away. But Abby could sense that there were secrets behind this perfect family. Secrets that revolved mostly around the girls’ mother, Judy Martin.

Now, three years after the girls disappeared, Cass Tanner is back. Abby knows this may be her last chance to learn the secrets behind what had happened. But the story Cass tells is outlandish. About an abduction, an island, and the deranged couple who kept Emma and Cass captive. And about the baby girl Emma had. The baby that she fled her home and hid from the family. The baby that Cass is determined to return to the island to get back.

Only will anyone believe her and is she to be believed. Or has she somehow slipped into a delusional state. What Abby will have to do now is sift the truth from the fantasy and in doing so expose the secrets of the Tanner girls and their mother, Judy Martin. But can she do it in time to save Emma?

“…We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe. Maybe there’s no difference between wanting and needing. I don’t know. What I know is that the truth can evade us, hiding behind our blind spots, our preconceptions, our hungry hearts that long for quiet…”

Emma in the Night is one of those books that I am glad I listened to the audio version of rather than pick up the actual book. Because I don’t know if I could have made it through otherwise. it starts slow and slowly builds. It does build, but it does so slowly and there is a good chance it may lose some readers along the way and that is too bad. Because once this builds up speed it really takes off and you will not see the climax coming. It is not what is expected and one of the better twists I have read in a long time.

The basis of this tale is the mental illness of narcissism and more so, when the narcissist is a mother. How does her need for attention and adoration effect the children she gives birth to and to what length will she go to keep it. The book spends a lot of time explaining the condition and as such slows down during these times and Abby’s devotion to laying this at the root of the girls and their disappearance sidetracks the mystery at times. Which at its true root is what happened to Emma. But once the author has laid this foundation she returns to the mystery at hand hits the turbo button. We know that all of Cass’s story cannot be true, but which parts are and which parts aren’t. Even more, exactly what went on between Emma and her mother behind the closed doors of the Martin home. To which, how much was Cass a willing participant or simply an observer.

The kick to Emma in the Night is that none of the characters are the least bit likable or relatable. You may even come out of this one feeling that Emma got exactly what she deserved. Her mother and step-father and step-brother all will make your skin crawl. Her father is the poster child for a cuckold, even years after being dumped for a richer and stronger man. Dr. Abby Winters herself is in serious need of therapy and then there is Cass.

What is so cool about Cass is that you can never really figure her out. You cannot feel for her because you just don’t trust her. She wants for find her sister. But does she want to hurt her mother more?

A good book with an even better mystery when it gets to it.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

the well
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco is a blend of Japanese folklore and the Asian horror films that inspired subpar American teenage horror films. This is not a soft tale meant to take its inspiration from the films that have flooded the teen scream genre, like the Ring and the Grudge, but instead takes us deeper into the very folklore that gave birth to these tales. To the ghost stories that live underneath.

Okiku is a vengeful spirit. Haunting since the days of samurais. She wanders the world in search of human evil. Child rapists and killers who believe that the world will never find and punish them. But Okiku is not of this world and her punishment is worse than any hell they could imagine. But it is not just bringing this evil to justice, it is setting free the dead that are entrapped by their deaths. Chained to these evil men by their demise at their hands. Yet this does not fulfill her and Okiku wanders the world in search of her own peace.

Tarquin is a young boy whose own past is one of despair and violence. His own mother having gone mad, Tarquin lives a solitary life, hiding the secrets of his own pain from the world. But those secrets are as hard to hide as the tattoos that decorate his bodies. Tattoos that fill his skin and at times, seem to have a life of their own.

Okiku recognizes Tark at once. Not only him but the malevolent hiding within his body. A spirit held in check by the tattoos that cover his skin. A spirit growing stronger by day and by her hosts growing older. As Tark grows the tattoos that cover him weaken as his skin stretches them. Okiku knows that she must kill the spirit inside of Tark, but in doing so, will she kill the young boy as well?

This book is not a retelling of the Ring. The tragic girl that becomes the vengeful spirit is much different here. Okiku is a fully developed character that goes far beyond its cinematic counterpart. She is not some lumbering waterlogged girl whose bones creak and crack at every movement. She is powerful and insightful and yet, held to a code she alone must adhere to. To kill only those whose actions cause the torture and death of young women and children. Now, how can she come to her own reckoning, of killing or allowing the death of a young boy, to kill the demon inside of him.

The boy Tark is a character whose own demons are not only those that live within him but the memory of his own mad mother. A woman who used her own child to trap the evil she warred against and then went mad trying to at first protect him and then kill the child. Tark struggles with the truth that his mother’s madness may have come out of her own love for him and in doing so, resigned her own fate to save him.

The Girl from the Well suffers from the stigma of being a young adult novel and was therefore written as such. Had Chupeco written this book for an adult audience and given into the sheer horror of the tale, well the potential of what could have been lingers in every word. As it is, the Girl from the Well is a very good novel but can be lost in the glut of teen serial horror romance tales. Even though there is no romance in this one and the blood and gore is something that is far more that what any glittering vampire could do.

But still, there is the what if. What if Chupeco had written this novel a hundred pages longer and given it even a darker and more sinister turn. Well then, that is a book I would love to have read.

As it is, this is a very good read.

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

game of ghosts
A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly is book #15 of the Charlie Parker series. Book 15 and it still is moving at a pace that shows no end. The John Connolly series, which began with Every Dead Thing and if you have not read that book yet…well hell, why are you even taking up my oxygen? A Game of Ghosts is in itself a departure for the series, one of the few books that does not have Parker running center stage and yet, it still is one of the more intriguing novels in the series.

Charlie Parker, private investigator and hunter of serial killers, human and paranormal alike has taken on a new employer. It would have not been his first choice but it has come out of necessity. He now works for the FBI and they have a case for him. A missing persons case that they cannot touch. It seems one of their other retainers has gone missing and they want Charlie to find him. Not only him, but the details of the case he was working.

Jaycob Eklund is a private investigator but he has a distinct specialty. Eklund tracks murders and missing persons that coincide with supernatural hauntings. Eklund’s handler wants him found and more importantly, the information he has gathered brought to the bureau. So Charlie Parker is called in because when the blood and gore go beyond the human touch, that is Parker’s territory.

With his friends, Louis and Angel, Parker goes on the hunt. While at home, a frightened and confused ex-wife seeks to keep Parker from his daughter Sam. But what Sam’s mother doesn’t understand is that Sam is not like any other little girl and the shadow that can sometimes be seen around Sam is more than a shadow. It is Parker’s murdered daughter, Sam’s sister come back from the dead.

The search for Eklund leads Parker into a world of killers and cultists and the blood murdered innocents. Into a defunct world of mobsters whose power, once strong is slipping from their hands. Into the world of Mother whose crumbling criminal empire is running on fumes and the dreams of what could have been. Into cultists whose desire to raise a great evil power is only rivaled by the ghosts of their victims. A war that Parker finds himself sliding into the middle of.

Connolly is a masterful writer. Who else would dare to take his major characters in a series turn them into bit players. This is a wonderful addition to the Charlie Parker universe and very much fleshes out the worlds that Parker must travel to wage the war he fights. The membrane in Connolly’s series that separates good and evil is shown at its weakest point in A Game of Ghosts and Connolly treads that ground carefully and with utmost skill.

Another really good read.