Monday, October 30, 2017

Status: the Game - a cyber thriller exploring your thirst for popularity

Commies, this book really hits home. If you have kids in high school, or if you are trying to make sense of your own teenage years, please check out this thrilling cyber mystery, Status: the Game by Vincent Robert Annunziato.

Bob Brooks is down on his luck. He ekes out a living as a substitute teacher and grabs odd jobs to make ends meet. It's never enough though and desperation sets in. Partly his fault, Bob is an overgrown kid at heart, dreaming of the day he can dedicate his life to full time gaming. It's selfish, but games are a calling.... And teaching? Just a bridge to something else. Life goes from bad to worse until Bob reads about a new internet game called Status. The internet sensation promises money, prizes and popularity to players who succeed. Bob marvels at the prospects and perfects a plan. Teach students about the internet while playing Status and have students build up his points in the game. With a never-ending supply of incoming, naïve teenagers, it's perfect. Madison High is perfect too. Affluent, hi tech and filled with students who have money and time. Even better? The Principal thinks he's cute and loves his proposal on Status. Once Bob debuts at Madison, though, he finds out that great plans aren't always so great. Especially once he learns his students are already playing Status and they are better at it than him.

Everyone is suspect in this thrilling adventure of social battles that pits brains versus brawn and haves versus have nots. Find out who wins! Oh and by the way, obtaining enough status might just make you the next big star of the internet. With fame and fortune just a rumor away, who wouldn't want to play... "Status?"

My thoughts:
There is a good reason why teachers and school administrators are sternly advised against having presence on social media, let alone friending their students, let alone playing online games with them. In Vincent Annunziato's novel "Status: the Game", a mousy, inconspicuous, insecure twenty-eight year old Bob Brooks gets a second chance at boosting his self-esteem and reliving his teen years when he becomes a teacher at an elite public high-school and gets hooked on an interactive game "Status" that brings out the most competitive and vindictive aspects of the human nature.

There are so many things to love, to ponder and to identify with in this novel. If you are a teen, parent a teen or remember being a teen, this novel will certainly reopen a few wounds - but in a most therapeutic way. It's that wholesome eye-opening pain that leads to healing. Kudos to the author for creating an intricate and convincing virtual universe that mirrors the real world even though it promises a chance for redemption and prestige to those who are underdogs in real life. The more the players try to reinvent themselves in an alternative reality, the more like themselves they become - the ugliest, most vicious and grotesque versions of themselves. 

"Stay strong, stay loyal!" That running slogan is loaded with irony and hypocrisy. So many relationships in the book are based on exploiting other people's weaknesses and cajoling them into alliances that result in angst and violence. Remember, convoluted alliances is what had led to WWI.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Forgotten - a Vietnam war novel by Marc Liebman

Greetings, commies!
Today's featured author is Marc Liebman. His unapologetic yet humble narrative style captivated me a few years ago. I wanted to share my thoughts about one of his recent novels titled very bluntly Forgotten.

The novel is a story about treason, drug trade, greed, sex as well as dogged determination to survive.
Treason because an American POWs became a collaborator and only one of the Forgotten witnesses the crime.  The drug lord holding the Americans allowed his unit to be captured in return for a commission in the North Vietnamese Army.
The Americans are forced to turn raw opium into heroin while the drug lord masquerading as a North Vietnamese Army officer waits for when the time is right to ransom the Americans for two million apiece.
To spice up the action, the wife of one of the POWs is an anti-war activist and over the course of time, Janet Pulaski becomes what one reviewer called a "badass, lesbian, nymphomaniac assassin."  To her employers, Janet Pulaski is known as "The RedStar of Death."
For nine long years, the Forgotten endure captivity and after they are rescued,two Americans, one the head of the CIA's POW/MIA desk and the other a former POWwant them dead.  The CIA officer is afraid an investigation will expose his relationship with the Cubans and send him to jailor worse.  The former POW knows if Randy Pulaski tells what he knows, he could wind up at the end of a hangman's rope.

My thoughts
"Forgotten" is one of Marc Liebman's longest novels, close to 600 pages, but you don't feel burdened or bored, thanks to the snappy, sometime jerky pace that fits the content so well. If you are familiar with Liebman's work, he is a real man's man, and his fiction is hypermasculine - in the best sense possible. Think a more eloquent, more elaborate version of Hemingway. The Vietnam war will continue being a controversial subject. Having been through a few more controversial military campaigns in the past few decades, American can step back and re-evaluate our experience in Vietnam. It's so important for us a American citizens, readers, critical thinkers, to step back and refrain from judgment, and try to see the situation from each character's point of view. As with most of Liebman's novels, it helps to understand the military jargon. For instance, if you've never seen an A-7B Corsair, you should google it. What is second nature to an author who has firsthand experience with the military may not be so to an average lay reader. So being able to visualize various aircraft models referenced in the novel will be useful. You can expect graphic, highly technical, cinematic battle scenes as well as crude, unceremonious sex scenes. So if you are a man who is into military history, or a woman in touch with her masculine side (like myself), this novel is a perfect treat for you. 

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.