A Different Kind of Book Review: Fascination #bookreview #guerillapublishing

Hello, friends, I am overdue for a book review and I’m a poet, doncha know it 🙂  Silliness aside, I’m reviewing Kevin Brennan’s latest novel, Fascination.  If you’ve been a follower of my blog for any length of time, then you know I’m a yuge fan of Kevin’s writing (and I kind of like the guy too).  Fascination is also special because Kevin is selling his novel by himself, no middle man for this man.  He calls it #guerillapublishing.  I hope you enjoy the review and do, please do, buy the novel!

***

Mary looked jealously at the colorful display on her cousin Maggie’s laptop, her feelings deepening as Maggie scrolled through the novel, showing her the pictures included with the novel they were to discuss that night.  Even the stark landscape of Colorado was appealing with its white clouds, soft blue sky and camel-colored earth.  She smiled tightly, not wanting to let Maggie to even have a hint of her feelings, but still, she did enjoy her Kindle Paperwhite.  And, now that she thought about it, the black and white version of the photos gave the novel a darker undercurrent, one she could still feel under her skin.

“The thing about Brennan’s novels is that he always creates characters and stories that get under my skin.”

Mary looked up, startled to hear Randy echo her own thoughts.  It was as if he knew her better than she knew herself, much like Clive knew Sally better than she knew herself.  These two characters in Fascination, this latest novel by Kevin Brennan, were two people she wasn’t likely to ever forget.

Randy took a sip of his coffee and then resumed as Mary and her two cousins, Maggie and Melissa, gave him their attention.

“On the surface of this novel, it’s a crazy kind of a road trip for a crazy kind of reason.  There’s a lot of humor in Fascination, with everything and everyone being fair game for a pun.  But there’s a sadness too, especially with Sally.  She is so naive and your heart just aches for her to understand what’s she’s doing to herself and the people around her.”

Melissa nodded her head a bit aggressively, as if to be sure that she would be the next to share her two cents.  But first they all had to wait for her to swallow a bit of iced lemon scone.

“I’m not sure if she was really naive about Mason, her dead-but-not-really-dead husband.  I mean, at first, she thinks they have a good marriage and he doesn’t really do anything to give her a clue that he’s wanting to leave her.  Then when she realizes that his suicide was faked, she won’t let it go.  She has to find him, even though doing so might mean that she won’t get the $500,000 insurance money.”

“And all because he wanted a kid, someone to carry on his name — Speck.”  Maggie snorted.  She had to admit to herself that she didn’t have much empathy for Mason.  Her late husband Bobby had been A-OK when she told him, before they married, that she wasn’t interested in having children.  She had never felt the urge and tended to look at babies as if they were miniature aliens.

“Yes, it does seem extreme for someone to fake a suicide just so they can plant the seed, or speck, with someone else.  But that’s part of the appeal of Fascination, don’t you think?”  As usual, Mary was asking a rhetorical question.  “The characters are quirky, in ways that make you feel fond of them, but they’re also flawed.  And desperate.  Everyone is just trying to find their place in the world–”

“And with each other,” Maggie interrupted.  “Even Stan and Jack, the guys at the Fascination parlor that Sally frequents, there’s some kind of history there.  They have influence.  As she visits other parlors on her road trip with Clive, their names secure her safety as well as help her earn some cash.”

“Which not everybody really likes because she has a preternatural gift with that game.”  Randy smiled as he reached for a chocolate chip scone.  What he would give for a gift like that.

“And don’t forget Warren Peeth and all those puns that Clive was so fond of making, almost like he couldn’t help himself.”  Maggie laughed out loud.  “I even found myself laughing out loud, or groaning depending on the pun.  Warren Peeth — that definitely got a groan.”

Melissa made a half-hearted attempt at stifling her own laughter.  “What about Berries Manilow?”

Randy snorted and then grabbed a napkin as coffee dripped from his nose.

“What about the Secret Society of the Mauve Maidenhead or those crazy, bald people at Homewood Place?  Poor Clive.  With his mutton-chop sideburns and pork pie hat, he was really out of place.”  Mary paused to sip her coffee.  “And yet, it was at Homewood Place where Sally and Clive had their confrontation.”  She looked down at her hands.  That confrontation had hit Mary hard.  “You know, sometimes … Brennan just catches me off-guard.”

Maggie and Melissa looked at Mary, their heads tilted toward her, as if beckoning her to continue.  Randy, sitting directly across from her, reached his hands forward slightly, as if making them available in case she needed to hold on.

“What I mean is, I’m reading this novel and going merrily along with these funny characters, this not-really-funny-but-actually-kind-of-funny fake suicide, this road trip of discovery and deception and potholes full of puns … and then suddenly it’s not funny.  I find myself trying to not cry.  I find myself arguing, in my head with myself, that maybe this relationship is just not meant to be.”

“Like with Occasional Soulmates.”  Maggie spoke softly, recalling the surprise but ultimately satisfying ending to that Brennan novel.

“Yes.  So, like that.  But I had to keep reading.  The story was just so compelling.  But what a experience and as the story unfolded, I don’t believe it could have happened any other way. And I was relieved it happened as it did!”

“Oh, truly!”  Melissa broke in.  “Just like with his other novels, you get a bit scared, thinking “uh, oh, things aren’t going the way I want them to.”  But things go the way they should go, the only way they can once you understand the characters and their history.  Brennan draws his characters slowly, with a lot of subtlety.  And just like with his other novels, I felt good about the ending.  It really fit.”

“Exactly, and that’s what I really enjoyed about Fascination.  He takes the reader on a road trip, giving you experiences that you may never have in real life, introducing you to characters you wish you could meet in real life, and leaves you with an ending that is as much of your own making as his.”  Randy stood up and started to clear the dishes.  He felt like he was finally getting the hang of these book club discussions.

***

Well, dear friend, I hope this review has whet your appetite for a fascinating novel.  You can get a copy for your favorite ebook device from the author himself, Kevin Brennan, at this link: https://kevinbrennanbooks.wordpress.com/buy-fascination/

It’s easy peasy and you can pay as little as $3.99 or as much as you like.  Consider the cost of some of those bestselling lesser novels on Amazon and you’ll realize what a deal this truly is!

Yesterday Road is now just 99 cents

One of my very favorite authors, Kevin Brennan, is putting TWO of his novels on sale, in the buildup to his release of Town Father in Kindle format. Take advantage of this sale NOW! I’ve read ALL of Kevin’s novels and LOVED each one of them. Am I making myself clear?

WHAT THE HELL

yesterday road small-cover

You heard me right. To build up uncontainable excitement for the December 8th release of Town Father in Kindle format, I’ll be running sales on my other two indie titles. From now till the release, you can nab Yesterday Road for 99 cents.

Occasional Soulmates will go on sale for 99 cents on December 3rd.

Meanwhile, you can pre-order Town Father for a neatly affordable $2.99. (Be among the proud, and the few!)

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Ten Things Not to Do at Graduation Time

Ah, it’s that time of year when someone you know, maybe even someone you love, is graduating. If you’re a parent, a graduation attendee or organizer, read on for some useful warnings about what not to do during graduation. Courtesy of John Howell.

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The inspiration for this list is the fact that it is graduation season. When you think of all the graduations that are being held in the US alone, you realize the potential exists that these ten things occur with similar results. I hope you enjoy the list and can manage to avoid them.

a graduation

Ten Things Not to Do at Graduation Time

10 If you are a graduate, do not put something dumb on your mortar. If you do, at best even if your family sees you they will not want to admit you belong to them. At worst the picture taken of your message will go viral and will show up every time someone searches your name on Google including prospective employers.

9 If you are a parent of a graduate, do not blow any type of horn when your child receives their diploma. If you do, at best you…

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Top Ten Things Not to do While Visiting a Bar

This top ten list courtesy of John Howell will make you glad you don’t go to bars anymore. But if you still go to bars … review this list before you go and beware of the pickled eggs 🙂

Fiction Favorites

This list was inspired by listening to stories related by our house guests who had made the bar scene during the Memorial Day Weekend. All of these are hearsay and not a matter of personal experiences. I hope you enjoy.

Ten Things Not to do While Visiting a Bar

10 If you are visiting a bar, do not stand too close to someone expecting them to talk to you. If you do, at best they will move away. At worst, you might be surprised to find yourself an unwilling volunteer for a jujitsu demonstration with you as the victim.

9 If you are visiting a bar, do not order a flaming drink for any reason. If you do, at best you will confirm your narcissistic tendencies. At worst your concoction will catch the back bar on fire, and the four-alarm fire department cost will put your credit card into default.

8…

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Ten Things Not to do on Memorial Day Feat. Marie Ann Bailey

Memorial Day, for those of us in the United States, is just around the corner. To get you into the spirit, my good friend John Howell has the following list of things not to do on Memorial Day, a list that he and I collaborated on last year. Enjoy!

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Last Year Marie Ann Bailey and I did a simu-publish of what not to do on Memorial Day. I was constructing a new one for this year, and it occurred to me that last years was pretty suitable. So here is last year’s and I must say the advice seems pretty relevant. Thanks, Marie for helping with this one.

a memorial day

Top Ten Things Not To Do On Memorial Day

10 On Memorial Day, do not accept an invitation to your boss’ house for a picnic even if you think it will be good for your career. If you do, at best, you might just have an awful time. At worst, you might be pressed into service as one of the wait staff.

9 On Memorial Day, do not accept an invitation to your friend’s parents’ house on the lake. If you do, at best, you might be subjected to uncomfortable questions…

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Top Ten Things Not to do IF You Think You Are Going to Win a Contest or the Lotto

A cautionary list of what not to do if you’re one of those folks who like to play … the Lotto 🙂 Courtesy of John Howell!

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This list was inspired by reading a story about a person who had a dream that they were a Lotto winner and went out and bought new cars before the drawing.

a lotto

Ten Things Not to do if You Think You Are Going to Win a Contest of the Lotto

10 If you think you are going to win a contest or the Lotto, do not quit your day job until the drawing is over. If you do, at best your boss won’t take you seriously when you give a reason for resigning. At worst the Publisher Clearing House Award Team will knock on your door only to discover they have made a mistake, and your neighbor with the barking dog is the actual winner.

9 If you think you are going to win a contest or the Lotto, do not brag to your in-laws before the drawing. If you, at…

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Occasional Soulmates free through Sunday!

Here’s your chance for a great FREE read: Occasional Soulmates by Kevin Brennan is FREE to download this weekend only! Get yourself a copy for a guilty pleasure or gift it to friends. It has all the ingredients of a page-turner: love, sex, humor, San Francisco, grief, mystery, secrets, San Francisco … okay, I love San Francisco and I loved this book. Now go get yourself a copy!

WHAT THE HELL

Small Soulmates Cover

Right on schedule, the Amazon freebie has kicked in, and you can now download Occasional Soulmates for free. The deal runs through Sunday evening.

If you have a spare mo or two, let your readerly friends know about it via Twitter, Facebook, email, sky writing, semaphore, Morse code, secret languages, or even telephone. They need to read this book! Your mom needs to read this book.

If you never thought a dude could write chick lit, Occasional Soulmates will prove you wrong.

Just sayin’.

Grab your copy today, and help move some virtual paper by spreadin’ the word for me.

As always, much obliged!

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Top Ten Writing Things Not to Discuss with Anyone Who’s Not a Writer #MondayBlogs

Here’s a funny but all-too-true Top Ten list from John Howell that should resonate with every writer out there, published or not. Enjoy!

Fiction Favorites

This list has as inspiration personal experience in trying to discuss writing with non-writers. Hope you enjoy

a writer

Top Ten Writing Things Not to Discuss with Anyone Who’s Not a Writer

10 If you are a writer, do not discuss how hard it is to write. If you do, at best you get an eye roll. At worst, you be talking to someone who has to disarm bombs for a living and will laugh out loud in your face.

9 If you are a writer, do not discuss your characters as if they are real. If you do, at best you will find people avoiding you. At worst, you will be talking to someone who has an imaginary friend that they believe would be a perfect protagonist for your next book.

8 If you are a writer, do not discuss your latest plot breakthrough. If you do, at best you will…

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Ten Things Not to do When Changing TV, Phone, and Internet Providers

Thinking about changing internet providers? Read this list of what not to do, courtesy of John Howell. Heed his warnings and you might avoid accidentally going off the grid.

Fiction Favorites

This list has as inspiration recently changing phone, internet, and TV providers. I wanted to get higher speed internet, and the local phone company had nothing faster, so I had to go to a new supplier. I bought a bundle including phone, internet, and TV.

a cable install

Ten Things Not to Do When Changing Entertainment Providers

10 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not expect anything to work that day. If you do, at best you will be frustrated. At worst, you will need someone to apply some electroshock to bring you back from the heart attack.

9 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not let them touch anything until verifying the price. If you do, at best the price will be the same as agreed. At worst, some clod in the sales department quoted you a price on just half the equipment, and now the COD charge is twice…

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Top Ten things Not to Do at Whole Foods

John Howell continues to turn his wry humor to the delights of shopping: in this case, shopping at Whole Foods. Each of the ten items just “sprouted” from his imagination, organically, no doubt. In real life, shopping at Whole Foods is a natural, unadulterated pleasure.

Fiction Favorites

The inspiration for this list came during several visits to Whole Foods. None of these circumstances were as a result of personal interaction while shopping there.

a whole food store

Top Ten Things Not to do at Whole Foods

10 If you are at Whole Foods, do not think you are at a discount outlet. If you do, at best your heart rate will hit a never before achieved rate at checkout. At worst, you will have to do the wait of shame while the checker calls the stock person to return everything you were forced to give up at the checkout.

9 If you are at Whole Foods, do not think the salad bar is a taste first then buy spot. If you do, at best store security will remind you loudly that you are not to eat anything prior to checking out. At worst, you might be asked to weigh in for…

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