Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Funniest Short Story I’ve Ever Read~Shapeshifters Anonymous By J.A. Konrath

Robert Weston Smith walked across the snow-covered parking lot carrying a small plastic container of his poop.

Weston considered himself a healthy guy. At thirty-three years old he still had a six-pack, the result of working out three times a week. He followed a strict macrobiotic diet. He practiced yoga and tai chi. The last time he ate processed sugar was during the Reagan administration.

Weston kept his head down and beelined for the nurse. The poop container was blue plastic, semi-opaque, but it might as well have been a police siren, blinking and howling. Everyone in the room much have known what it was. And, if they didn’t at first, they sure knew after the nurse said in a loud voice, “Is that your stool sample?”

Shapeshifters Anonymous is by far, the funniest book I think I have ever read. It’s a short story by J. A. Konrath that everyone should read. It’ll only take you an hour or so, but it is so worth the 99 cents. You’ll never look at Santa Claus the same way again!

What?

What’s this about Santa Claus? Oh, nevermind. That’s for later.

So, Weston visits his doctor. He shows the doctor the poop sample he brought in. He assures the doctor that he only eats the best foods. However, Weston sometimes finds little stones and scraps of material in his poop. The doctor is skeptical, and of course, does the obligatory explore of his anal cavity. The doctor finds a button, a zipper and 63 cents in change.

“You think I’m lying to you.”

“These things didn’t just materialize inside you from another dimension, Mr. Smith. And you probably don’t have a branch of the US Treasury inside you, minting coins.”

At least someone seemed to be enjoying this. Weston wondered when he’d ask him to break a dollar.

Ok, so what’s this all got to do with Santa? I’m getting to that.

So, Weston goes home and does a little internet search, coming up with endless jokes, diet problems like anorexia and cannibalism, and fairy tales. He can’t find anything that is even remotely helpful, until he comes across a 1-800 number for real therianthropes. On a whim, and not expecting much, he calls the number.

In case you don’t know, a therianthrope is an animal that changes into something else. For example, a weresquirrel. That’s what Zela, the lady who took his call, turns into.

Weston hung up, ending what was easily the most surreal conversation he ever had in his life. An hour ago, he’d been a normal guy with some odd bowel movements. Now, he was 99% sure he was some sort of therianthrope.

But what kind?

On the way to the SA meeting, he comes across an unruly, nasty Santa standing out front of a store with his kettle pot of loose change. Weston just figures he’s a drunk Santa, loaded up on cough medicine that has forgotten to take his real meds. Weston thinks that there should be some sort of screening process for hiring Santa volunteers.

Weston finds out that there is a SA meeting that day at noon at one of the churches. He joins in and then the action starts. Yup, Santa arrives.

Santa isn’t who you thought he was, and quite frankly, I can understand why some kids might be frightened of him.

“And, this is for real?”

Scott reached up and pulled down his collar, exposing a terrible scar along his neck. 

“Kringle gave this to me when I was seven years old, right after murdering my parents.”

“I thought he gave orphans toys.”

“He also gave me a train set.”

You won’t have any trouble enjoying this short story. It’ll make you laugh about his bowel movements, his troubles at the SA meeting and with Santa Claus,  and you’ll cheer on every therianthrope (and the one that isn’t) until they  have defeated the enemy.

Do yourself a favour today and buy this book. You won’t regret the 99 cents! I give this book 5 stars.

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Review: Out Of Time: A Paranormal Romance By Monique Martin

The nightmares had come again. Simon Cross pushed himself off the bed and away from the cold, sweat-soaked sheets. His heart racing, his breath quick and rough, he forced his eyes to adjust to the dark room as the last vestiges of sleep faded.

Unconsciously, he clenched and unclenched his free hand. No concrete images remained, just an unwavering sense of horr, of an inevitable evil.

Elizabeth West was going to die.

This book wasn’t anything like I had expected.

Elizabeth West is a teacher’s assistant to the occult professor at the college, Simon Cross. He is aloof, cold, and difficult to talk to. He’s not one for idle conversation.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, is more social, loving life and living it to the fullest. Still, she wishes that Simon would notice her. Simon wishes that he didn’t notice her.

When Elizabeth comes over to his house to drop off some of the students papers, she becomes interested in some of the boxes that are seemingly laying around Simon’s house. She’s inquisitive, wondering what everything is, and what some of the objects do. She is mesmerized with the antiquity of the objects, one of which is an ornate box that Simon’s grandfather had always said was forbidden for him to touch as a child. Inside the box they find a scarab ring and an old pocketwatch.

Simon opens the watch, and both he and Elizabeth are transported to another time…1929 New York to be exact. They pawn the ring for money, but believe that the watch is their only way back to the present. When Simon tries to adjust the dials back to the present, they won’t budge. The only thing that Simon and Elizabeth can think of, is that there was a lunar eclipse going on when they were looking at the watch. In 1929, they realize that they will have to stay in that time period for 6 weeks…that’s when the next lunar eclipse will happen.

They still need money. They find jobs easily at a local speakeasy. Elizabeth waits tables and Simon plays the piano after the piano player had his fingers broken by a gangster.

Oh, so, if time travel weren’t weird enough, there’s something “off” about the gangster. His name is King Kashian, and he’s one you don’t want to cross. When he threatens the lives of Charlie (the bar owner) and Simon, Elizabeth knows what she has to do. She has to go to dinner with King. Against his better judgement, Simon lets her go.

Simon tells Elizabeth that he’s been having dreams about her….not so nice dreams, dreams about her death. No matter what happens in the dreams, he is never able to save her. He tells her this, begging her not to go to dinner with King, but she goes anyway, to save Simon.

I can’t give away what King is, but he isn’t nice. But, then again, what gangster is?

I enjoyed this book immensely. There was a lot of sexual tension between Simon and Elizabeth, especially after Elizabeth was able to break down some of the walls that Simon had built up around himself over the years. Their love is grand, and he figures out that he can’t live without her, that he doesn’t want to live without her.

What happens to Elizabeth at the dinner with King? Will Simon be able to save her? And, of course, will they make it back to the present, or be stuck in 1929? This you will have to find out by getting your copy of this book. I give this book 5 stars.

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Review: Pretty Flamingo By Perry Martin

Phil smiled despite himself, and Julie grinned briefly, then immediately winced in pain. A sudden thought occured to her, and she said, “I hate to say this, but…I don’t think the fact that you might have been hypnotized into forgetting all about this girl is a good thing, David.”

David nodded. “I know. I’ve been thinking about that, too. And trying not to think about it at the same time!”

Julie regarded David sympathetically. “You could just leave well enough alone. You’ve discovered a wonderful part of your life, David. For some reason, something you thought you’d lost has been almost magically returned to you. You’ve recovered this beautiful, almost fairy-tale teenage love affair. Why not just leave it at that?”

These are the kind of reviews that I hate to write. On one hand, I loved the story. It was a love story filled with young love, love lost, one-of-a-kind memories, a bit of the paranormal and reincarnation. It was a “coming of age” story.

But, on the other hand, there were some problems that really distracted from the story. I’ll get to that part later.

There’s a song from the 60’s from Manfred Mann, called “Pretty Flamingo”, which this book is based around. The characters dance and sing the song whenever they can. I listened to it; it’s not bad.

In this romance novel, David is a muscian/producer of music, originally from Australia, but now living in California. Non-committal David seems to have been unlucky in love most of his life. He’s just never been able to find that “perfect” girl yet.

Now, in his 50’s, he’s been having flashbacks of a sort; flashbacks to a time when he did have the perfect girl. She was captivating to him, capturing his heart the moment they saw each other. All they wanted to do was be together….together forever.

David is an emotional sort of guy, crying or tearing up quite often in the book. Women like sensitive men, but this guy goes a little over the top. Anyway, David (as an adult) begins to have severe headaches, seeing flashes of light and hearing a beautiful voice telling him not to forget. These happenings literally knock him over, sending him into these vivid memories from 1969 when he was just 16 years old.

These aren’t just ordinary dreams either. He is literally transported to that time (from 2004 California to 1969 Australia). In a matter of a few hours, he relives days/weeks/months.

On one trip, he meets Lisa, his “Pretty Flamingo”. She is 14 and when they look at each other, it’s like they knew they were meant for each other. Their love, they affectionately call it, is a “love beyond love”.

Periodically David will be transported back to the present day. But because he’s rather enjoying ‘re-living’ these memories that he seems to have forgotten (but doesn’t know why he’s forgotten), he keeps willing himself back to 1969.

On one occasion, a heinous crime is committed against Lisa. David finds Lisa in a pool of her own blood, after having been brutally attacked by her ex-step-father. Lisa had been sexually abused by this man before, but this time he does something so horrific to her, that reading it made me feel ill. Even after the girl is found, and the story progresses, I continued to imagine what had happened to her. Although the attack itself was not written, the evidence the attack left behind was. It was bad.

David sort of loses it, ending up in the psychiatric unit of the hospital. No matter what answers he gives the psychiatrist, his answers are never correct, landing him into an experimental treatment that he didn’t want, which helps him to forget everything, including Lisa.

Lisa always told David not to forget their love, and that he must try to find her, because she might forget. She was speaking about reincarnation. They both firmly believed in coming back in another’s body, but they often wondered how they would find each other again.

Ok, I did like this book. I did. But……it was far too wordy. This book would be great if the author split this book in half, taking out all the extra stuff that I don’t need to know about, and keeping the story.

For example, this is just some text from the book: He stumbled into the bathroom and turned the light on. Opening one of the drawers, he found the toothbrush, took it out of it’s wrapping, and squirted toothpaste on it. He ran cold water, swiped the brush under it, and then began brushing his teeth.

This sort of thing is a little distracting, especially when this sort of wordiness is throughout the whole novel. The only reason I plugged my way through the book was because I liked the premise of the book. If you can get past the wordiness, it’s a great story. There’s also a lot of repetition, phrases that are said over and over again, but the wordiness is more distracting. I felt it took away from the story. I’m giving this story 3 stars.

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