Book Review: Straight Dope: A 360 Degree Look Into American Drug Culture By LeRon L. Barton

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

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I enjoyed this 8 chapter book; it was a fast read. The author interviewed several people in hopes of finding out the answer to: “Why are drugs so entrenched in American way of life?” Most of the interviewees were from San Diego, California. When their real life experiences were revealed, it was written in first person as though they were talking directly to readers.

My favorite lines: 1) Be careful with your life, it’s short. 2) When people talk about drugs, two things come to mind: exaggeration and misinformation. 3) I am not going to rely on a supernatural entity to take responsibility for my life. It’s like saying Santa Claus is going to keep me clean.

I’m one of those easygoing readers who don’t mind typos or grammatical errors as long as the story is very interesting; however, the errors in this book got distracting after a while–it seemed like there were typos on every other page.

There were eight sections to the book: discussing drug dealers, users, people who died from their addiction, if marijuana should be legalized, criminals behind bars, teachers dealing with abused students (the most intriguing section for me), people in rehab who recovered from their addiction, and family members dealing with an addict.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Story Of Rachel By K.D. McLean

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Rachel Collins is praying. And not for world peace. Thirty six years old and single, her prayer is self-centered. “Kill me now, Lord,” she pleads during her latest attempt to meet Mr. Right via the internet.

She’s not hoping for a billionaire or even a millionaire, just a guy who can strike a spark to her tinder! Is she asking too much? She’s a great gal! Just ask her parents! She might be a bit naive about some things, but capable enough- she’s a correspondent for a major magazine, after all. So there!

On assignment she meets Michael, 42 years old, also a writer. The attraction is immediate and intense. Rachel, who sees vanilla as only a baking ingredient, enchants him. Michael can whip up some pretty hot delights himself, outside of the kitchen. He introduces a curious Rachel to powerful experiences of sensuality. Her Ladylike sense of propriety engages in a running battle with her now sparked Tinderbox desires.

Michael is an excellent cook and knows how to turn up the heat. Sampling the flavors offered, Rachel experiences humorous hiccups. On a date, Michael ramps up the risqué, resulting in a memorable skirt swirling salsa dance. Rachel’s “What the hell, I ain’t getting any younger” attitude spurs Michael to take her to the exclusive, adults only club Pandora’s. Here, Rachel witnesses even more variations of earthly delights, and begins a lifelong friendship with another guest.

Michael is a realist, convinced that within 90 days, his affair with Rachel will be but another painful memory of loss. He is neither willing nor able to yell ‘Geronimo’ and fall for her. He can’t, and that’s that.

Maybe he should just get a damn dog.

This modern, urban, grown up love story is a recipe –three cups romance and one cup of slapdash humor. Blend in spices of eroticism, and beat until smooth.

17255718I liked this 22 chapter book even though what I expected and what I read were totally different. I was expecting erotica, but Rachel and Michael didn’t hook up until Chapter 6 and there weren’t many sex scenes. I’ve read more sensual details in romance novels.

  • However, I liked the story for what it was. It had a good sense of humor. Rachel was on Plenty of Fish and kept getting duds for dates. As a reporter, she had an assignment to go to an erotic art exhibit where she met Michael (a freelance writer). I enjoyed their back and forth; the sexual tension was pretty hot. My favorite scene OPEN THE DAMN DOOR had me rolling.

My favorite lines: 1) She liked the word ‘craved’; it almost sounded dirty. 2) His face grew dark. In an instant, joy was replaced by stone. 3) “I really don’t get this at all. I think you’re just making it harder on both of us, for no good reason.”

I loved the conflict throughout the story. They finally made love (instead of D/s), then he acted like a jerk, avoiding her at all costs. Rachel was not amused. I especially enjoyed the scenes where Michael met her friend at the bar–he was pretty rude, and when Michael visited Rachel’s parents.

There was excessive headhopping, so there was no chance to feel what the characters experienced. Or to get a chance to really care for them. Plus, it eliminated all the suspense of when they’d get together since readers knew every single angle of the situation all at once.

This was the author’s debut novel. It was pretty charming, causing me to smile a lot. I liked the main characters as well as the supporting ones.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: These Unquiet Bones By Dean Harrison

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Dean Harrison’s “These Unquiet Bones” takes the reader on a unique and well-crafted roller coaster ride of horror and suspense. You won’t be able to put this one down until you’ve finished it. His characters are as creepy as any I have read in a long time. Keep your eye on this writer; this book is unforgettable.–T.M. Wright

Trying to get behind the truth of her mother’s death, Amy Snow unleashes the skeletons lurking in the dark of her father’s closet, and learns a terrible, twisted truth about her family tree. Meanwhile, a man named Adam is on a mission to restore Paradise to its former glory. To accomplish this, he must find “The Lost One”, a girl he calls Eve, and sacrifice her to the god she betrayed the day a talking serpent slithered into the Garden of Eden.

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I loved this 97 chapter book. It was raw and edgy, touching taboo subjects such as incest, religious cults, psychological disorders, and rape of young girls. I remember once reading in Stephen King’s “On Writing” book that an author shouldn’t write in fear. Dean Harrison definitely didn’t write in fear, which made me cringe whenever the villains appeared. That’s a sign of good storytelling–when you can get an intense reaction from your readers.

My favorite lines: 1) Who brought a gun to a knife fight? 2) Sometimes even the best kept secrets came out of the dark–sometimes with a vengeance.

I loved the mystery aspect of it all. Amy couldn’t remember the guy who killed her mom, like it was a repressed memory. She was on an anti-depressant ever since the tragedy. I had about three suspects, and I’m proud to say that I guessed right the first time. Her father thought he knew who the serial killer was, but the cops were hesitant to believe him since he was a suspect himself. Should they follow their instinct? You’ll have to read to find out.

  • Adam (of course, not his real name–he’s going by Adam because apparently Eve was evil) was the killer, thinking God was telling him to commit the brutal crimes.

Chills ran down my spine a lot while I read this story. Ghosts, who tried to warn Amy, were also featured. After reading about Amy’s childhood and her family dynamics, it boggled my mind how insane people can be. Spooky and absolutely creepy.

My favorite scenes: 1) when Amy confronted her dad about his past 2) when Layne had a crush on Amy, but showed his true colors 3) when the killer kidnapped Amy and her best friend in front of the school 4) when Layne woke up after confronting a jerk who harassed Amy at a party

The only thing I wish: a lot of filter verbs (hear, saw, felt, etc.) were used. I could have gotten really lost in the story if those words were eliminated.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Rejection happens. Shannon A. Thompson’s blog has an encouraging post on how to deal with it. Like she states, “When our art is rejected, many feel completely defeated, and they never get out there again. This saddens me. This is how art dies.”

Shannon A Thompson

Quick Update: My author page is now on Facebook. Please support me by clicking here. You’ll get the latest updates, and my current status has a surprise that isn’t on my website yet! I’m REALLY excited, so check it out, and you’ll get an advantage on other readers when I offer an upcoming competition ;]

Rejection is everywhere: we break up, we get fired, we lose friends—and we survive them all—yet, when our art is rejected, many feel completely defeated, and they never get out there again. This saddens me. This is how art dies.

Rejection happens to everyone, and, if it hasn’t already, it will happen to you—but you cannot let criticism get you down.

In terms of the writing industry, many writers, professional or not, already know about the long-hated query letter. My favorite metaphor for writing one is the ballerina having to explain why she can…

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Was In Awe At the Martinsburg Library Today

Lately, I’ve been interested in connecting with other local authors/writers. My writing group hasn’t been shy about asking coffee shops, bookstores, libraries if writing groups meet there. So far no dice, but the owners always end up offering for us to start something there.

Today, I sat at a table, writing (being productive before my work shift started). There were about 4 women and 2 men (late 50’s, early 60’s) who used the table beside mine. They greeted each other and engaged in small talk, so I hardly paid attention. Until…I overheard one of the women boasting about publishing a best seller back in the day. She had wondered if it was still on library shelves or offered as a backlist to order in bookstores.

Then their group meeting started. Apparently, all of them were published (most were fiction writers, one of the men was a nationally acclaimed poet). I was in awe–I hope they didn’t notice me staring and smiling LOL. I was amazed that they still get together to discuss their writing careers and bring stories/poems for each of them to critique.

I wanted to introduce myself–not necessarily to ask for tips nor to let them know I’m a fiction writer. It was more because I wanted to hear more about their back-stories (they had sounded so interesting), especially to get some names. I would love to check out their books. Unfortunately, I chickened out because I didn’t want to disrupt their meeting, and I had to leave within 5 minutes to walk to my office building on time.

It’s so cool to hear about all these authors from the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. It lets me know that I’m capable of success if I work hard at it. They really inspired me today. Hopefully, 30 years from now, I can meet up with Melissa, Pam, and Marc where we reminisce about our successes and failures at our writing careers.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Fanged Princess By Elisabeth Wheatley

I will not let my brother suffer the same loss…

Hadassah’s father, the Vampire King, punished her harshly for her choice to love a human. Now her brother, the only person in the world who still matters to her, has fallen for a human girl. Determined to keep the girl safe, the three of them flee from their home in New England and find themselves cornered with their father’s minions closing in. If they want to escape, their only hope may be to join forces with the mortal enemies of their kind…

Be ensnared in this dark tale of enduring love, revenge, and suspense from teenage author, Elisabeth Wheatley.

16095765I liked this 9 chapter book. It was told through Haddie’s first person point-of-view. She had lost the love of her life, Fletcher, because her dad and uncle killed him. Now, her brother, Damian, is in love with Madelyn, so their dad and uncle is on the hunt to end her life as well.

My favorite lines: 1) The Huntsmen have jobs. That’s strange for some reason. 2) I’m going to die. For a moment, that one thought seems to consume all of me so that I can hardly feel the sharp pain in my face.

The author was good with dialogue. I could picture the tone of voices as the characters interacted with one another. I wish it hadn’t been repeated that Haddie lost Fletcher and the motives for running away since that was established at the beginning. It would’ve helped the story flow better. And it would have been cool to have a build-up to the suspense parts; that way I could’ve been worried about the characters’ lives. It was more like telling instead of showing, but nothing distracted me from this book. In fact, I loved Haddie’s sass.

My favorite part was when they swallowed their pride and asked the Huntsmen family, the Falkners, for help. No one trusted each other, but they needed each other. I enjoyed the conflict and struggle, especially the back and forth between Haddie, James, and Chase.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Paranoid Contracts By Gordon Kenz

The detective agency set up by Cerys encompassed her perception of amoral and legal enquiries taken up on behalf of her clients. However those persons investigated found themselves in situations which involved rather more of a deception than a perception. How moral was the work? How could it be justified to smash personal relationships, to break apart marriages, to destroy careers or to feed the greed of managers at the expense of their colleagues? To what lengths would such investigations go and where would the work of the agency finally end up? When staff started to break the rules of engagement, the whole of the agency began its inevitable collapse. Cerys was no longer in control and methods used were clearly not as she had started. Individual and poorly planned investigations brought an end to her careful planning and outcomes rested on poorer levels of work. This in turn led to a financial downturn in the profitablility of her agency. Where would it all end?

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I enjoyed this 20 chapter book divided into 5 different parts. My favorite lines: 1) Your imagination is often a long way from the truth. 2) Maybe it simply was that Paranoid Contracts were the perfect crimes undertaken. Perfect, of course, because they were not crimes.

The story used a non-linear approach of telling the story–not in chronological order. It was told through magazine clippings, the Paranoid Contracts play-by-play handbook, and through the victims and clients sharing their experiences. It seemed like omniscience point-of-view was used to recount what happened instead of relying on emotions.

  • However, I enjoyed this type of narration because it seemed like I was getting the full picture. I got to see things from the clients, victims, and co-workers’ perspectives. Plus, characters I was interested in had a follow-up instead of things left open-ended.
  • It was cool seeing the way Cerys and her team operated in setting people up (not all of the victims were celebrities). Some ideas came from her husband Jock. He loved to play pranks on people. After a while, Cerys’s conscience started to kick in–they were ruining peoples’ lives after all. An old victim decided to give her a publishing contract, so she could write a tell-all book. Juicy!

My favorite scenes were the ones that the characters finally realized they were duped but it was too late. Those moments seemed more personal to me as a reader. The two cases that stood out for me the most: 1) after Edward got duped, he decided to investigate things for himself. It ended up with someone committing suicide 2) One client was stubborn, never listening to Cerys’s directions, so he left a voicemail message. The guy it was meant to hurt kept repeating the recording and decided it was a fake, so he and his girlfriend (intended victim) got revenge on all parties involved.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Sons Of Suicide By Dan Andrews

An insightful, viscerally emotional memoir, Sons of Suicide relates the story of a young man’s life after losing his Mother to suicide—and succeeding, in spite of experiencing one of the most devastating tragedies known to man.

At eleven, Dan Andrews was abandoned by his Mother. Fatefully, she made the timeless drive down Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago, parked her car alongside Buckingham Fountain, and, after sitting and smoking a few last cigarettes, drowned herself in Lake Michigan.

His Mother’s grave decision has given Andrews the ability to perceive and contemplate loss in a way not written about in recent history. Shared with brutal vulnerability and skill, sprinkled with humor and sexuality, Sons of Suicide masterfully entertains and enlightens the reader— serving as a catharsis to the feeling of loss, a feeling to which all humans relate.

The author, Dan Andrews, has also pledged for every copy of Sons of Suicide that is sold, one dollar out of his personal royalty will be donated to the Will To Live Foundation, visit their website for more information about this wonderful organization that is spreading awareness and helping with the teen suicide epidemic. Purchase today to help put an end to suicide.

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I enjoyed this 16 chapter memoir. My favorite lines: 1) Life isn’t short, it can just end fast. 2) The bills don’t matter, the girls don’t matter, grades don’t matter. Life matters. I’m alive. 3) That day I attended two funerals. One was Mom’s, and the other was mine. The old Dan Andrews was buried with her. 4) Luck is a fantasy conjured by many people to rationalize their shortcomings and other’s successes.

Because Dr. Easton was negligent, he ordered his patient to take prescriptions that didn’t go well together. As a result, Dan’s mom became suicidal, drowning herself in Lake Michigan. Dan shares what he went through afterwards in elementary, middle, and high school. Even some college years.

He talks about his friends who helped him along the way. I think it was really brave of him to share such a personal, tragic experience. If anyone has ever lost someone close to them, I believe you’d enjoy the book. It was insightful to get inside of his head because there’s a stereotype of guys not showing emotion, not showing weakness. I thought the author was strong and brave for writing this book.

My favorite section was during his high school years when he bonded with his teachers and realized it’s not the end of the world that he had to split up from his close friends (they went to different schools because of living in different districts). I shed a tear when it revealed the letters Dan’s mom wrote to her husband, her two boys, and her mother. The note to her husband blew my mind.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Last Stonestepper By Elliott Logan

In an instant, a mysterious phenomenon plunges people everywhere into crazed hysteria. Amidst the anarchy, a lone survivor fights for his life while searching for the woman he loves. But for him, the battle may already be lost.

Aboard Flight 75 to Los Angeles, Matthew Hayes’s plans for a lucrative screenwriting career are disrupted when a widespread brawl breaks out mid-flight, the passengers and crew lashing out with a ferocious rage. Hayes and other unaffected passengers manage to land the plane, only to discover the disease has spread over the ground and they are now being hunted by a mob of unhinged people hell-bent on murder and violence. Frantic to find his fiancée-to-be, Hayes treks home across hostile countryside. But there is a catch: he never should have survived the phenomenon. In fact, the disease is alive inside of him, slowly taking control. It is a race against the clock as Hayes struggles to get home, fighting the devil within as the insanity begins to pull him under.

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I loved this 30 chapter book. It was suspenseful and full of action. Chills ran down my spine when Matthew (a.k.a. Hayes) and other passengers were on the plane. Everything was cool at first, in fact, I thought it was pretty cool that he was making friends with people in his row. Hayes went into the bathroom. He saw a flash, then had a headache. All hell broke loose after that! I also loved the mystery aspect of “The Event.” Why did some people stay normal while others turned into violent crazies and others turned into peaceful crazies stuck in la la land? You’ll have to read to find out.

My favorite lines: 1) Killing was all they cared about, even if it meant injury or death. 2) Ten minutes ago, the screenplay was the most stressful thing in his life. Now he didn’t know if he would live to see California. What a difference. 3) They made the cut to survive the Event, but that didn’t spare them from youthful inexperience. 4) “Everyone dies, Matthew. How one lives is what’s important.” 5) Every writer’s dream was to have their work reach the four corners of the world.

Hayes met Patrick (a.k.a. Barnes) and Andrea (a.k.a. Medina) on the plane–they were the only normal ones left on the flight. When they dispatched to other airlines, figuring something peculiar happened to other planes as well, it was crazy. I had goosebumps whenever other planes crashed to the ground. I feared they wouldn’t make it; thankfully, Barnes held himself under pressure.

After landing the plane, they ran into Officer Odez and Charles (a.k.a. Hinckley). Trouble followed soon after. Once the first victim died, I knew no one was safe. I knew that the characters needed to keep their guard up no matter what. They found shelter in an abandoned home, coming across Cameron (a.k.a. Levine), a 17 year old girl. Let’s just say, there were 6 total in the group–only half made it.

The rest were saved by the military, who brought all civilians to a base. The thrills kept coming. Not only did they have to worry about the violent crazies, now they had to worry about the egotistical Sergeant in charge. He wanted to set up his own civilization, didn’t matter the costs. These survivors weren’t met with compassion. They were met with the message that he’d use them by any means necessary (for example, women would be used to pop out babies with no choice in the matter).

Another intriguing mystery element: the man in a pinstripe suit. Hayes kept seeing him. At first, I thought he was a ghost, but he could’ve been a hallucination or his mind playing tricks on him.

The author was great with plot. It was a real page turner for me because the situation was so WTF. I had to read the ending fast to get the answers. There were no boring sections, and the author paced the story out really well. By the end, I really cared for Barnes, Medina, Hayes, and Kristin (Hayes’s girlfriend). The ending was stellar–I didn’t see that coming!

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Night of the Necromancer By Kyle West and Jelani Sims

You were a student just trying to survive college. Now, as zombies break down your front door, you must ask if you will survive the night.

You will need weapons. A vehicle. A group. A plan.

You must make all the right decisions to avoid a zombie’s sharp teeth shredding you to bloody bits.

Will you receive your overbearing ex-girlfriend, who broke up with you hours before the zombies arrived?

Will you trust the survivors you meet along the way?

Will you retreat to the country’s little used roads and creepy forests? Or fight your way through the city’s streets, buildings, and subways?

Can you end the Necromancer’s zombie reign of terror, or watch helplessly as the world disintegrates into his vision of madness and death?

If you are quick on your feet, you just might live to see another day. One wrong decision, you will end up as zombie food, or worse…a member of the undead.

10176692I loved this choose-your-own-adventure zombie tale. Since it was written in the present tense, it felt like the situations were really happening. You meet new people along the way and have conversations with them. The different scenarios definitely play with your flight or fight syndrome. After so much decision making, I started getting in the groove, getting lost in the story. It was pretty intense and it felt like a life or death situation. I couldn’t let people down LOL. The writers had short sentences, intensifying the action and suspense. My heart raced to see if I made the right decisions; I love challenges.

To show an example of how it’s a choose-your-own-adventure, I’ll share my zombie night experience. The story started off with you’re studying in the library with your girlfriend. College exams are near. You research about grave-robbers in a town nearby.

  • I ended up driving home, taking a classmate to the hospital, rescuing my girlfriend, going to the Mega-Mart to gather supplies/guns (where I meet other survivors), going to the city to see if we can reach the military, trying to take down the Necromancer directly.
  • Let’s just say, throughout the night I died 10 times. The good thing about the book is that after you pick a scenario where you end up dying, you can return back to the original link to pick a different option (helping you live longer). Finally, I received my ending where I survived the night by saving the world. Yea!!! Another cool feature about the book is at the very end, you can look at different checkpoints throughout this zombie adventure–airport, countryside, losing some members, etc.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the authors or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby