Monday, October 16, 2017

"Remember the 6 million" and ... "You asked for it"

Greetings commies and SJWs,

Since everyone is taking initiative to break the silence regarding their past experiences with sexual harassment, I thought I'd put my two shekels in. It wouldn't be a Monday morning without an offensive post from Connecticut Commie. I just wanted to point out that sometimes aggressive behavior comes from people you wouldn't expect it from. Many years ago, in the early, early 2000s, I worked as a paralegal at a small real estate office. It was a husband and wife team, an elderly couple. On the surface, they were all about social justice. The husband kept talking about "the six million" and "institutionalized racism". His wife kept talking about "women's rights". So on the surface they were very progressive. They supported a number of progressive causes. Well, all their progressive ideas went out the window when one of their high profile clients took a liking to me and started to make chatty, suggestive calls straight to the office. When I shared my concerns with my boss, his reaction was a little surprising. I was told that I "encouraged him", "acted unprofessionally" and "embarrassed the firm".

Just to give you an idea of what I was wearing: I was covered from head to toe. Turtlenecks, long wool skirts and knee high boots. The office was so friggin' cold. My stingy boss would not even heat the section where I was sitting. To save money, he only heated the room where he normally saw his clients. 

Lesson learned? Just because someone claims to be pro-justice and pro-workers, it doesn't mean that they will have your back when it comes down to dollar signs. Needless to say, I didn't stay there much longer. I found a wonderful company with a healthy office environment and a robust HR system to support the rights of the employees.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Courty love under the red flag

Commies and wanna-commies,

Here is a selection of chaste, ideologically acceptable images of courtship under the hammer and sickle sign. Sporty, modestly dressed, able-bodied commie boys and girls holding hands, toiling towards Communism and sharing intimate visions for a bright future.  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Greetings, commies and guilty pleasure seekers! If you are looking for an escape from tragedy and drudgery, Tirgearr Publishing has a series of romantic novellas set in various cities all over the world. One Night in Venice by Eden Walker is just one installment in the series. 

Kate Pollock is an average art student who, by sheer fluke, ends up in Venice on a scholarship. On her first day, she spots sex-on-legs, the illustrious Martinez Di Ser Piero, in the corridor, and shocked to learn he’s her Practicals tutor. The last thing she expects is for him to be attracted to her, but after one kiss, she’s lost to this mysterious man and they can’t get enough of each other. But she’s a virgin. Could he be the one?

After a painting dry spell, Kate inspires Martinez to paint again. When the painting—of Kate—goes missing, she becomes the police’s main suspect. Things get more complicated when her ex turns up, asking her to come home. Kate thinks she’s falling in love with Martinez, but could his secret past break her heart?

My thoughts:
Eden Walker's "One Night in Venice" is a published as an installment in a City Nights series by Tirgearr Press. It is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek parody of the whole coming of age romance. As the cover suggests, the focus is not on high art. No, art is just a backdrop. Kate Pollock is "an average art student from London". Average is the key word. She is the first one to admit that it's a miracle that she got into that exclusive exchange program that will allow her to study art under some of the finest European masters. The fact that she is so self-aware and self-deprecating makes her endearing to the audience. Another miracle is catching the eye of the sexy and sultry Martinez Di Ser Piero, a tutor who could have any girl on campus. And of course, as most tall, dark and handsome Italians, he had a sob story from his past, a story that somehow categorizes him as a "damaged man", and therefore worthy of sympathy and exempt from commitment.

In some places I wondered if the author was lampooning the tradition of romance novels featuring naive (though they consider themselves worldly) American or British women in Italy or France. If you are a fan of "Eat, Pray, Love", this is a perfect novella for you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Bohemian Heart" by James Dalessandro - classic noir with an innovative touch

Greetings, commies!
A few months ago I posted my interview with the Renaissance man James Dalessandro, whose talents and scopes of expertise span fiction, film making and music. Today I wanted to share my review of his novel Bohemian Heart, a stylish and innovative thriller set in San Francisco. 

"Peekaboo" Frankie Fagen is a long-haired, leather-jacketed private detective, best known for his unconventional methods and the Norton Commando he rides through his beloved San Francisco. When summoned to a box at the opera, he meets the beautiful Colleen Farragut, due to go on trial the next day for the murder of her husband, the city's richest and most powerful real estate developer and a lifelong Fagen nemesis. A million-dollar bonus is Frankie's if he finds the burglars Colleen claims were the actual killers - but the real prize would be a century's worth of Farragut diaries that document a family tradition of criminal activity and corruption. With evidence and public sentiment stacked against his client, Frankie, motivated by both love and revenge, races against the clock to find the killer and save Colleen.

My thoughts:
Classic noir archetypes get a facelift and a new lease on life in this mystery thriller. What sets this novel apart from the plethora of the genre is the unconventional protagonist/speaker. Frankie Fagen is a compelling hybrid of James Bond and Holden Caufield from "Catcher in the Rye". He is a man of contrasts, combining callousness with aesthetic sensitivity, cynicism with a weakness for beautiful women. Shrewd and sarcastic, he alternates self-deprecation with self-exaltation. As a private detective, he has to engage his logical side, but his heart - and groin - are still open to juvenile infatuation. Despite many grueling cases and countless sexual encounters that should have left him jaded, he still allows himself to get distracted by the beautiful Colleen Farragut, who is accused of murdering her real estate magnate husband. Leggy, green-eyed and drop-dead elegant, Colleen is best described as femme fatale in distress. Thankfully, the author does not confine her to a stock character. She is neither a sniffling ingenue, nor a cold-blooded murderess alone the lines of Milady in "The Three Musketeers", nor a conventional whore with a heart of gold trapped in a loveless marriage. Colleen is her own entity. She is the ultimate mystery Frankie Fagen is trying to crack. Now, you can expect some traditional crowd-pleasing genre-specific twists. You can expect the murdered magnate to have specific sexual tastes such as S&M. Seriously, what would a corrupt rich man from a dysfunctional family be without his weekly sessions with a dominatrix? And of course, the said dominatrix must have silicone breasts and a scar on her face. Last but not least, be prepared for a succession of intense courtroom scenes. "Bohemian Heart" is delightful mixture of classic twists and surprises.

Friday, September 29, 2017

More Stately Mansions - a philosophical sci-fi tour de force

Greetings, commies and interstellar colonists! If you have 30-45 minutes while your kid is in martial arts class, consider picking up this thrilling and thought-provoking novella by John Rosenman More Stately Mansions.
Captain Temple leads a mission to K22 and finds a beautiful planet with magnificent shining cities. It appears to be a lucrative new market for the Merchants Guild.

There’s just one problem: the cities are mysteriously empty. He can’t find even one survivor, which means the planet is off-limits to commercial exploitation and cannot be used to achieve financial profits in any way.

Soon Temple discovers an even greater problem, one that is strange and ominous and threatens his crew’s very survival.
Not only that, it is an incredible cosmic mind-stretcher that strains sanity to the breaking point, not just the characters' sanity but the readers' as well.

My thoughts:
This novella took me about 30 minutes to read. It is a concise, poignant tour de force of philosophical sci-fi in the vein of Rod Sterling and the Strugatsky brothers. It takes the whole concept of colonization to a new level. A crew of ambitious explorers - all male with one nonchalant and stunning young female - land on an unnamed and seemingly welcoming planet. But if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. There is a spoonful of venom inside that barrel of honey, and the crew members discover it a little too late. As a mysterious cancer-like disease starts claiming them, who will be the last man standing?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Frozen Sea by Rosanne Dingli - for the fans of Dan Brown

Greetings, commies and fans of Dan Brown! Today's guest is a prolific and erudite author from down-under Rosanne Dingli.  She has a series of thrilling and eloquent literary mysteries. Connecticut Commie congratulates her on the release of her latest novel The Frozen Sea.

The Frozen Sea is a literary adventure, and an exploration of what it means to be alone. Its characters leap from the pages of literary history to haunt and disturb the present. Rosanne Dingli adds to the Bryn Awbrey series with an evocative exploration of words and perceptions, which stays with the reader long after the last page is turned.

During an unseasonal cold snap in Venice, Loretta Groombridge seeks employment. Her uncle’s legacy is running out, and she is lonely. Eccentric Welsh professor Bryn Awbrey and his secretive house guest plunge her deep into a literary mystery, which becomes riskier the more she discovers. Her degree is not enough to arm her for the dilemma, and neither is her ability to deal with disappointment and fear. A frightening attack robs her of dignity and peace of mind, and signals more insecurity. When she takes a break, a fire in the night summons her back, and almost robs her of all she has found to love in Venice. The risk-filled history of the ancient city seems transported to the present time.

My thoughts
I received a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. Apparently, this novel is one in the Bryn Awbrey series, and I'm thinking of reading more. This is definitely a cross-genre novel that doesn't quite fit your typical time-travel or duel era genre, even though the narrative does jump from one era to another. As her endowment depletes, Loretta Goombridge finds herself at a crossroad and growing increasingly anxious about her future. Professor Bryn Awbrey entices her into a literary mystery. A good chunk of the novel is set in Venice - a popular destination for soul-searching loners.

The author's academic background is apparent. Her erudition shines through. And she crafts every sentence lovingly, with elegance and sophistication. But you have to be trained for that style of narrative that skips from genuine documents, to present day, to various locations in Europe in 1930s and 1950s. If you are not used to that type of pace, you will catch yourself doing what I did - going back and rereading certain passages to ensure your grasp of continuity. The fans of Dan Brown who love the signature Brown-esque literary techniques will be delighted.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Blood of the Stone Prince - a Medieval "hipster" novel

Greetings, all saints!
Exciting news for those who have been following the series of blogs on 15th century bishops, ecclesiastic composers and architects. Blood of the Stone Prince is here, courtesy of Crossroad Press (thank you for continuing to believe in my work). This novel - 23 years in the making, no less - is the fictionalized product of the themes I touched upon in my posts earlier this summer. No, this isn't a typo. It took me 23 years to complete this novel. I started developing my characters as a high-school sophomore, but I didn't quite know what to make of them. It took me over two decades to pull the loose threads into something coherent. I half-jokingly call it my Medieval "hipster" novel. My goal was to create a cast of characters that are recognizable to modern audiences. Please, don't faint. It's not about "selling out" or "dumbing down" the characters, or making them act in some anachronistic way. Quite the opposite. It's about drawing the parallels between the past and the present. Think of it as a form of reverse time-travel. Some archetypes are timeless. You will recognize the sickly goth girl, the self-absorbed child prodigy, the drama club geek, the burned out jock, the cynical CEO of a pharmaceutical company. Each chapter is narrated in the first person by a separate character. In the past I have been crucified for my usage of the infamous third person omniscient narrator. This time I took a drastically different approach and allowed the characters to speak for themselves.

From the alchemy labs of fifteenth-century France comes a tale of one beauty and three beasts on a macabre journey through the Parisian underworld. After sixteen years of priesthood, Monseigneur Desmoulins secretly wishes for excommunication. Fed up with sacristy intrigues and tedious inquisition proceedings, he keeps himself amused by dissecting rats, playing with explosives and stalking foreign women. Some of his dirty work he delegates to his nineteen-year-old protégé Daniel Dufort nicknamed Stone Prince, who plays the organ at the cathedral. The gaunt, copper-haired youth looks may look like an angel, but his music is believed to be demonic, pushing the faithful towards crime and suicide.

To keep themselves safe amidst urban violence, the master and his ward take fencing lessons from Lucius Castelmaure, an alcoholic officer facing a court martial. Their alliance is tested when a Wallachian traveler implores them to entertain his terminally-ill daughter Agniese, whose dying whim to is be buried inside the Montfaucon cellar alongside felons and traitors. The three men jump at the chance to indulge the eccentric virgin in the final months of her life.

Raised in the spirit of polyamory, Agniese has no qualms about taking all three men as lovers. In a city of where street festivals turn into massacres, it's only a matter of time before the romantic quadrangle tumbles into a pit of hellfire. Filled with witch-hanging, bone-cracking, gargoyle-hugging humor, Blood of the Stone Prince is a blasphemous thriller for the heretic in each one of us.