• Emancipation of B, The
    Jennifer Kavanagh
    As a child, B had two conflicting dreams; one to be a knight defending the vulnerable; the other to be a hermit living in complete solitude. Something of a social misfit, B manages to engineer a cell of sorts from which he retreats from urban life, discovering a kind of freedom he hadn’t anticipated. Cut off from demands of daily living, B desires to explore ‘a different dimension’. Using Buddhist practices, he discovers ‘an emptiness, a letting go.’
    The reader is drawn into B’s present, intrigued by the way he spends days unregulated by pressures of time and responsibility. Simultaneously, we discover B’s past as he himself comes to terms with it, particularly his home and family life, with all its tensions, hurts and rivalries. As the layers of his life are stripped back, B’s self perceptions change.
    This is a beautifully written novel with a haunting central character. As I became more absorbed by B, I became fearful for him; at the end, wanting to know what might happen next.
    On reflection, the story challenges us to reconsider more honestly our relationships with people and with the world around us, to turn away from the frenzy of contemporary living towards a simplicity of being.
    ~ , Magnet magazine

  • Beat the Rain
    Nigel Jay Cooper
    We chose Beat the Rain for our book club and loved it! As well as being an enjoyable read, there are so many good topics of discussion in this book. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns which keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. The Ancaster, Canada book club gives this one two thumbs up... 5 stars :) ~ Jessica Simons, Amazon Customer Review

  • Because I Had To
    David Bulitt
    Jess Porter spent her childhood bouncing from therapist to therapist and prescription to prescription. An outcast at school and a misfit at home, the only solace she ever found was in her relationship with her dad, Tom. Now he's dead. Feeling rejected by her adopted mom and her biological twin sister, Jess runs off to South Florida. But she can't outrun her old life. Watching the blood drip down her arm after her latest round of self-inflicted cutting, she decides her only choice is to find and face what frightens her most. Because I Had To takes the reader inside the worlds of adoption, teen therapy, family law, and the search for a biological family. With a cast of finely drawn, complicated characters, "Because I Had To" asks us to consider: can the present ever heal the past?

    A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "Because I Had To" is a deftly crafted, thoughtful and thought-provoking novel that is unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Because I Had To" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.15). ~ James A. Cox, Editor In Chief, Midwest Book Review

  • Beat the Rain
    Nigel Jay Cooper
    I was going to say I really enjoyed this book, but enjoyed is the wrong word but I was hooked early on especially after the first "interlude". It's not a comforting novel but that's why I liked it. It felt very real and the characters were too in a flawed, challenged way. ~ Joanna Jones, Goodreads Review

  • Beat the Rain
    Nigel Jay Cooper
    I read this in one sitting just couldn't put it down so well written with real characters i can't wait for the next book from this author highly recommend it. 5 stars. ~ Cassie Rivers, Amazon Customer Review

  • Because I Had To
    David Bulitt

    I'm not usually the type who reads short novels, but after the hype in local press about the book I couldn't help but I pick it up and give it a shot. And I'm sure glad I did!

    Because I Had To starts off extremely strong, the first few pages in particular drew me right into the story. The story begins without any fuzz, or long introductions and shows off the challenges both the character goes through. The author managed it make you feel the pain Jess goes through, but also allows the reader to see the ups and downs that JB, a successful lawyer with a loving family, goes through. Through the first section, about Jess's childhood, and problems with her family and especially her, I was pleasantly engaged. I couldn't wait to read on to see how how she and JB are connected and the story develops.

    The book, admittedly, takes some unexpected turns in the content department as it teeters between witty humor, anecdotal essays, psychological disorders and personal stories. I found the writing interesting and refreshing, as it tackled so many important topics like abortion, self-inflicted pain, family challenges, but also light hearted topics such as the friendship between JB and his office assistant and what comes in life after the kids moved out.

    Where David Bulitt's book drew me in was when Jess and her therapist had therapy sessions. Those session really brought her character alive and showed the development her character and approach took throughout the book. Also JB's anecdotes always made me laugh throughout the book (who doesn't talk to their dog all the time when home alone?) which made the character very relatable.

    So thank you David for giving us a slice of JB's live and for letting Jess be such an interesting character to follow throughout the book.

    Needless to say, I finished the book in one evening.

    Can't wait for the next one! ~ Barnes&Noble Reader,

  • Because I Had To
    David Bulitt
    As someone who grew up with a close friend who was adopted (and he ...

    As someone who grew up with a close friend who was adopted (and helped her search and find her biological mother), this book was on my must-read list. The book was written in such a realistic way, that I felt like I was following the life of another friend. I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly of all characters in the book, which made me feel connected and even feel attached to the main character Jess.

    The good: Jess who is searching for her biological mother with her friend Macy and her "Uncle Bro" has such an interesting and intriguing personality. Throughout the book I kept analyzing her character and personalities and kept reevaluating how I felt about her character, especially about what she's been through.

    I loved following her story, her friends through the book, and it was such an emotional moment when the book ended, but I still didn't now how she would decide. On the other hand I was also intrigued by the character JB, and his family dynamic. It was such a positive change, and kept the book from being too dark while adding a bit laughter to it.

    The bad: The ending definitely left me wanting more and hope that book number 3 will continue.

    Can't help but leave 5 stars here! ~ Barnes&Noble reader, Barnes&Noble

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    Anti-heroines are a fascination to me. It started with Carmela of the HBO series 'Sopranos' and has since grown to recent characters like Olivia Pope and Piper Chapman. But what of characters outside of television? That’s where Bullet Gal/Mitzi comes in. She’s part Lisbeth Salander of the 'Dragon Tattoo' book series, part Lara Croft, part Jessica Jones. She fierce, rough around the edges, yet undeniably cool. This is someone you fear yet would also love to get drunk with. Andrez Bergen’s ‘Bullet Gal’ is a dark film noir/dystopian story. Our female lead finds out her vigilante lifestyle has consequences: a mark on her head. The chapters of this novella are from different character’s viewpoints. This technique gives the reader contrasting perspectives which makes for an investigative experience. The reader must piece the puzzle together and try to make sense of Heropa, just as Bullet Gal/Mitzi is doing. Pop culture enthusiasts will love the references to comics and will see a conglomerate of influences in this work. Andrez Bergen captures the film noir essence while keeping a steady flow of humor and intrigue. I was immersed into the world of Heropa and quickly found myself yearning to hear more from my new favorite anti-heroine, Bullet Gal. ~ Bullet Gal, by Australian author Andrez Bergen, is fascinating to just fall into. Bullet Gal is a neo-noir science fiction dystopia, set in the fictio, PopCultHQ

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    Bullet Gal, by Australian author Andrez Bergen, is fascinating to just fall into. Bullet Gal is a neo-noir science fiction dystopia, set in the fictional city of Heropa. However, the series is meant to be much more than its plot: the really important parts are concerned with deeper questions about the creative process. Mitzi is a seventeen year-old new arrival to the city of Heropa, a new city founded just after WWII. With her father’s two pistols, she adopts the identity of Bullet Gal, and begins assassinating the city’s criminals. This attracts attention from the city’s heroes, including Lee, a man split into eight identical copies of himself, and the city’s villains, including French femme-fatale Brigit and her gangster boyfriend, Sol Brodsky. Yet there’s something else that’s not quite right about Heropa, and Bullet Gal is trying to figure out just what it is that seems off about the place. The series is almost like an anti-comic book, in the sense that it tackles and subverts many of the tropes in comics. One of the subverted ideas in this book is the role of influence on the creative process... We’ve all read books or seen movies with characters that are clearly clones of somebody else (I’m thinking of the sheer number of Joker-inspired bad guys following The Dark Knight). Bullet Gal seems to be mocking that. The self-awareness of the characters, both in terms of popular culture and the genre that they are a part of also comes off as a form of loving parody. Is the series critical of the possibilities for artistic interpretation? In some sense, but more to the point, it’s honest about what makes movies, comics, and books work. All creators are working with ideas borrowed from other sources, but this particular world is literally made up of art and styles from other places. Without spoiling the ending, the message is deeply critical of meddling in a created world. Purists and fans, as represented by the comic’s villains, want to preserve settings that they love just the way that they originally found them. In doing so, they end up stifling any possibility of creative growth, which you see reflected in some of the characters in this series. Beyond the meta-criticism of art and the creative process, Bullet Gal is fun to read if you’re in love with noir tropes (like I am). Bergen has a gift for recreating the dialogue of the great writers, like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and passing it on to a femme-fatale. There are some great inserted images from films from the ‘40s; my favorite in particular was a shot of Spencer Tracy. The science-fiction theme seemed to me to be the more important one, though. For all that Bullet Gal immerses itself in noir themes, dialogue, and imagery, the science-fiction elements of the story are what drive its message about creativity and art. The plot itself isn’t as coherent as the critique, but I don’t think that Bergen wrote Bullet Gal to be a straightforward read. Lots of Raymond Chandler stories fall apart if you look too closely at the details, but the details were never really the point to begin with. In Chandler’s case, he was interested in creating atmosphere and tone. Bergen wants to do that as well, but there are also statements about art here that are interesting. Spend some time with Bullet Gal and don’t try to rush through. This is a story that you need to move through slowly and deliberately, and don’t give up if it all isn’t immediately transparent. This is a smart book. Give it the deliberation it deserves. ~ Zeb Larson, Flickering Myth

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    If you love classic noir, you’ll love Bullet Gal by Andrez Bergen - only this isn’t classic noir. It’s a new millennium pastiche of every noir motif there is but done as a stylized, digitized, mind-bending rhapsody that’ll leave you feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face by a French femme fatale. The protagonist of Bullet Gal is seventeen year-old Mitzi (no last name) with a murkily tragic past who arrives in Heropa with little more than the clothing a Beat poet would carry in her valise and her 9mm Model B pistols with pearl handles. She hates injustice and has seen her share of it so she has no qualms about using those pistols to wreak havoc on the bad guys. Who are the bad guys? Gangsters and composites of every gangster you‘ve ever heard of or someday will. They’ve heard of Mitzi and even though she’s easy on the eyes, they know they have reason to watch their backs. Lee, a Cape (i.e. member of the Crime Crusaders Crew) is Mitzi’s mentor in this twisted and confusing universe that’s part Gotham/ Metropolis, part futuristic Melbourne, and part Chicago in the 1940’s. Lee gives her advice and vital information, but there are eight versions of him, in varying shades of seriousness, honesty and sincerity, so Mitzi has to rely on her own sharp instincts, smarts and toughness to survive. And man, is she tough. Her worst enemy is one she barely even knows, but who knows her: Brigit, French girlfriend of Sol. He’s a bad-ass gangster but even he defers to the supreme villainy of Mademoiselle (don’t call her ma’am or madam, please!) Brigit. Like Mitzi, tragedy has followed her as well, only she’s the one who deliberately left it in her wake, often using sharp objects. To say that one reads Bullet Gal is somewhat inaccurate; it’s really more of an experience. There’s sharp dialogue and clever narrative, especially if you like hard-boiled noir, whether set in the past, future, or in a digitized sci-fi world that might get re-set at any time. Like I indicated at the beginning, this is noir run through a blender and spiked with a little something illicit and exotic that’ll send you reeling. At first I felt like I might be missing something, tried to go back and see if there was more explanation that would help it all make sense sooner but then I realized that partaking of Bullet Gal is like looking at an expressionist painting, reading a modernist novel or watching The Big Sleep; if you look too closely it doesn’t make sense. You have to take a step back and get lost in it; feel it. After all, confusion, liquor, cigarette smoke, and too much coffee late at night are all integral to the mood of noir, along with a vague sense of paranoia, longing, and wicked humor. Mitzi’s world is awash in all these things but she is a creature of it and navigates the dark stairways, lonely hospital hallways and deadly streets with self-assurance and confidence — and those two polished nickel 9mm Star Model B pearl-handled pistols. Mademoiselle Brigit, beware. ~ Nevada McPherson, Flickering Myth

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    As I started to read the story I thought Bergen was telling an autobiographical story of how the setting was created in his mind. Even after I finished reading it I still think there is some of the real Bergen in the story. I think that kind of honesty and internal connection is necessary for a work to feel real. As always the writing style that Bergen uses is simple dialog. He speaks directly to you, drawing you into his world. His characters aren’t overly developed leaving the reader with plenty of mystery, but still enough to connect with them and actually care what happens to them. It’s dark and gritty and sometimes even confusing, but in a way that makes you want more. If you love Bergen’s stories about Heropa as much as I do then more is exactly what you want. ~ John Kowalski, Word of the Nerd

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    There seems to be no stopping Tokyo-based Australian pulp writer Andrez Bergen, the creator of such literary-graphical delicacies as Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. His latest ongoing project is Bullet Gal, a comic series featuring a hard-as-nails heroine, and an assortment of strange cohorts such as one-eyed cop Bob Kahn and his partner Irv Forbush. They’re the latest to take the stage in a land Bergen calls Heropa – a hardboiled cityscape filled with souls of noir. ~ , Crime Fiction Lover

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    Mitzi is a girl with a grudge. Armed with nothing more than her dad’s old pistols, she’s started cutting a swath through the underworld of Heropa. As the criminals of the city start hunting the mysterious young lady who works as a vigilante in a city full of heroes, Mitzi’s rampage also garners the attention of someone on the side of the angels. Enter Lee – a mysterious man with an offer Mitzi can’t refuse. A chance to help good people and not have to worry about the rules regarding licensed heroes needing to have a super-power? It sounds too good to be true and it probably is. But Mitzi is content to play by Lee’s rules… for now. Based in the same world as writer Andrez Bergen’s novel Who Is Killing The Great Capes Of Heropa?, Bullet Gal is an homage to the classic heroines of pulp fiction as well as the noir aesthetic. Comparable to Sin City and Velvet, Bullet Gal promises to be a must-read for all fans of Golden-Age adventure-style comics! ~ Matt Morrison, Kaboooom!

  • Bullet Gal
    Andrez Bergen
    It's the era of World War II, 17-year-old Mitzi lands in the dysfunctional, dystopian city, Heropa - a crime-ridden, high-octane city relying on teams of superheroes to save the day. Mitzi (aka Bullet Gal) doesn't have super powers but sees herself as the queen of justice armed with 9mm pistols, surviving using her own wit. She soon meets Lee who happens to have his own kind of super power, but is unsure if she can trust him. Surrounded by drama and tragedy, Mitzi is creating enemies in this bizarre universe. She suffers love and loss but still manages to pull out brilliant quips thanks to writer Andrez Bergen whose snappy dialogue keeps the ball rolling. Bergen has captured the imagination of many with his latest instalment of neo-noir influenced by sci-fi, pulp fiction and hard-boiled crime stories. This is crime-caping with bags of attitude. Bergen took Bullet Gal from his previous novel Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? He obviously had a lot of love for the character as she also appears in anthology comic Tales to Admonish with her own story “All Fur Coat, No Knickers”. As Bullet Girl is a prequel to these stories it isn't necessary to read these first, although it will be interesting to see what adventures she gets up to next. It's been deservingly compared to Frank Miller's Sin City and Ed Brubaker’s Velvet, having successfully turned the femme fatale tropes around and created a kick-ass female character. ~ Samantha Ward, Starburst Magazine

  • Stop Press Murder
    Peter Bartram
    This was an entertaining and fun novel...I will definitely be looking for other books in this series. ~ Mary Boucher, Rabbit's Rambling Reviews

  • Exteriors and Interiors
    C. McGee
    "Extremely dark humor that's very well done." ~ S. Loewen, Book Hookers

  • Because I Had To
    David Bulitt
    Because I Wanted To ...keep turning the pages!
    March 22, 2017

    "I thoroughly enjoyed Because I Had To. Though completely unfamiliar with the adoption, abortion, twin, sibling rivalry, mental illness themes, David Bulitt made these themes come alive. Bulitt made you care for, hate, empathize, envy, and lust after his characters. The opening chapter will grab your attention and keep you turning the pages.
    Because I Had To has something for all types of readers, men women, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, 20-somethings just starting out and even jaded, middle-aged lawyers. The plot follows a year in the life of a troubled, twenty-something, adopted, twin girl-young woman, following the sudden death of her loving father. We meet her aloof mother, her perfect twin sister, her therapists, and our narrator: her dad's lifelong friend "JB" - "Uncle Bro" a middle-aged divorce attorney questioning his "WHY."
    Though Bulitt could have relied on time-worn cliche's in creating his characters, he does not go there, instead giving us just enough insight to allow us to stop and think about who these people are, why they are making the choices they do. Bulitt does not preach to us when we might think those are the wrong choices. His characters play the hands they were dealt. Personally, I loved the asides about JB's divorcing clients, the judges before whom he appears and their "quirky" persona's and situations, even if those vignettes do little, if anything, to advance the story or Jess' character.
    I read David Bulitt's first novel: The Card Game first and glad that I did, as it introduced and gave depth to Jess & JB that one might not get from merely reading Because I had To, or reading them in the reverse order. Both volumes are well worth reading. I look forward to his next work!" ~ Harvey Jacobs, Amazon

  • Beat the Rain
    Nigel Jay Cooper
    Interesting view into a marriage between two troubled people, both difficult to root for. Despite this, their story is compelling and heartbreaking. Insight into desire, needs, relationships within a family, and the choices we make and how they define us. ~ Book Girl, Goodreads Review

  • October Song
    David W. Berner
    I am not a rock-n-roll person, but if there is one thing that Mr. Berner's memoir succeeds in is compelling the reader to realize their dreams and in a simple way, he takes us on the journey of how he took that first step.

    A brief look at the plot: You have David W. Berner, who is 57 years old, but in his early days (what he calls the vinyl era) he played rock n roll in a neighborhood garage band. He enters a national songwriting contest and quite unexpectedly is named a finalist.
    But that's not the half of it, David is called on to perform the song live at a storied venue for Americana music. Grabbing his old guitar and the love of his life, David hits the road, hoping to live out a musical fantasy he thought had been buried long ago.

    I loved: the road trip and the trip down memory lane.
    I related to: his account of his first love, Michelle, who simply left him a note in his locker saying they couldn't be and she moved, well...if Michelle's reading this simple heart felt review, 'Woman! Please text or email, or tweet David and say hi :-)' You can go the extra mile and buy a copy of his book and look for him to autograph it!

    If you are not into music, this book would demand quite some attention of you, and I reckon that's the down side, but I'm not saying you stop at that, read on because of how easy it is to connect to David's humor, fears and most of all the way he gets excited when he's got the chance to do something he always wanted.

    Memoirs as reflections of lives lived, decisions made and lessons learned are not so easy to rate, but for the fact that this book is about never giving up on dreams and taking the chance to realize a dream you've always had, it gets four stars!
    It has also persuaded me to listen to Bob Dylan, I don't know what I'll experience listening to his songs, but it's definitely worth a try. ~ Dora Archie Okeyo, NetGalley/GoodReads

  • Malaren
    N.E. David
    MALAREN - A SWEDISH AFFAIR is the third full length character-based novel by N. E. David. Focussing on the story of Alan Harrison, an actuary who finds himself stranded in the midst of grief after the death of his wife Susan, MALAREN features strong characters, emotive side themes and demonstrates how extreme situations can bring out actions most incongruous with our character.

    Up until the start of the novel, Alan had led a very safe, traditionalist lifestyle. Unable to cook beyond boiling an egg, his widowhood leaves him struggling with more than just sorrow until the clichéd mother-in-law arrives (or should that be monster-in-law?). However, after receiving an invitation to spend some time on the shores of Lake Mälaren, Sweden, Alan slowly finds himself discovering how a change of scenery and physical activity can bring mental healing. Sadly Alan’s newfound way of life is set not to last as his peace is disturbed by unwanted guests. Events that ensue reveal strength in times of crisis, the fragility of human emotion and the lengths to which we will go to afford our own protection.

    Beyond the main plot, there are a number of themes that are touched upon including desire, lust, manipulation and the role of women in relationships. Alan comes from a conventional background in which male and female roles are sharply divided and his narrative is certainly told from a male perspective. His talk of 'blue' and 'pink' household duties and his attitude towards the women he interacts with reinforce this. Although Katerina is Swedish, her predictable address to Don and Alan of ‘boys’ speaks of more than just a lack of command of the English language.

    The characters are simple, stereotypical and sometimes shallow in nature. However, it is the interaction between them that produces the fireworks. With lessons in keeping your friends close but your enemies closer, and how not to act when a guest at someone else’s house, MALAREN keeps you entertained with the bizarre ways humans protect their true selves. No more so than at the very end, of the novel where Alan’s behaviour could be construed as securing his own interests.

    Methodically written, MALAREN is an enjoyable read. It is published by Roundfire to the same high quality as THE BURDEN, with a front cover image that sets the scene for the action beautifully.
    ~ L Blythe, Amazon

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