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ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire ~ Gabriel Constans

How do you handle Satire?   This is a very tongue in cheek lesson reference the arrival of Buddhism to China and one needs a keen wit and a good twinkle in the eye for these lessons, koans, and questions!  What a Zen Master to discover!

ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA is Amazon Editor’s pick for Book of the Month and if you like satire you will not be disappointed by making this choice.

What the editors said on Amazon’s site:

“This fictional short-story collection challenges perceptions and illusions about religious masters, spiritual teachers, gurus, charlatans and holy men and women of all persuasions, while simultaneously tickling our funny bone and exercising the muscles our faces rely on for laughter. Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba takes liberty with questionable material from the living sea, near Egypt; tofu paper, in Okinawa; a tomb, in Italy; a shaman, in Ethiopia; and a half-sister, in India. The words, quotes, koans and stories, of this soon to be classical work, include the timeless insights of Let the Worm’s Go, Dead Food, Reality Bites, Stealing the Buddha, Drip After Drip, Sound of One Eye, Catching Wind, Looking Good, My Cat’s Enlightened, Chocolate Box, and Sex, Drugs and Sushi Rolls.

“Enlightenment or laughs? With Gabriel Constans’ book you don’t have to choose. Zen masters usually have a sense of humor, or need one. Gabriel’s got it, and he gives us a world of illusions to laugh about.” Bob Fenster, author of Duh: The Stupid History of the Human Race “

Truly I am having difficulty writing this review, because I start to say something and then dive back into a story and get lost in laughing or crying over a concept explanation or questionable answer.  My Kindle says the book is about 2 hours of reading, but I dare you to read it cover to cover.   Why I just had to deal with my health insurance company and ended the call by picking up this book and learning about Wandering and Meditation by relentless napping.  I just think you should get this book and then do not drink anything while reading the chapters randomly.

Gabriel Constans biography on Amazon:

“Gabriel’s latest works of fiction are THE LAST CONCEPTION and ZEN MASTER TOVA TARANTINO TOSHIBA: THE ILLUSTRIOUS AND DELUSIONAL ABBESS OF SATIRE. Previous fiction includes BUDDHA’S WIFE, SAINT CATHERINE’S BABY, THE SKIN OF LIONS, and JUST A HEARTBEAT AWAY.

He has written for numerous magazines, newspapers and journals throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia; has 13 books published in the U.S. and continues to discover great stories, provide editing and consultation services and write fiction and non-fiction. His latest work of non-fiction is DON’T JUST SIT THERE, DO SOMETHING: GRIEF’S WAKE UP CALL.

Dr. Constans has worked as a trauma counselor in a variety of situations and environments, most notably with local and international non-profit organizations such as hospice, the coroner’s office, hospitals, state prisons, the ROP Center for Street Children and the Ihangane Project (both in Rwanda).

His classes and books on grief, loss, hope and transformation, can be found at The Figley Institute and Quantum Continuing Education Online.

Gabriel’s favorite writers include Deena Metzger, Isabel Allende, Wallace Stegner, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Dave Eggers, Ann Petry, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alice Walker, Barbara Kingslover, Joan Tewkesbury and James Bladwin.

Oh yes!  Constans sent me a copy of his book for review – Lucky me!

I highly recommend this book, I enjoyed this book, I will return to re-read this book often, I so enjoy this kind of humor and I know you know someone who needs a great laugh and twinkly insight.

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DUKE CITY HIT: A Thriller ~Max Austin

“For fans of Breaking Bad and the bestselling fiction of Don Winslow and George Pelecanos, Max Austin takes readers back to Albuquerque for another action-packed thrill ride in Duke City Hit, as an elite assassin takes aim at—well, everyone.”  (amazon’s page)

DUKE CITY HIT will be released on December 16th, 2014.  I received an uncorrected, un-proofed copy from TLC Online Booktours and have read it cover to cover.   My copy did not include information about the author or any extras or connectors.   I wanted to read the book because I had read DUKE CITY SPLIT  and I know lots of my readers enjoy this kind of story and the fast pace.   It is very – fasted paced and includes the wonderful vintage cars flying around Albuquerque, making for good drama.  It is very entertaining and it certainly takes the reader into entertainment escape mode.

I wanted to learn more about Vic this amazing hit man and maybe he will be in the third book of the trilogy along with the bank robbers in volume I?  Smooth and tense writing style that moved the 150 pages right along.

DUKE CITY HIT was not my favorite read or even mystery.   I do not like to think that contract assassins are assisting the world by “taking out” the horrible people in the area.  I know it takes skill and I am sure there are some everywhere there are evil people, but it makes me unhappy to read about all the murders.  I guess I need more decoration, like Marti Wingate’s Garden Shed Mystery Series, where the reader learns about gardens and the UK and there is some real romance.  Or T.E. Wood’s FIXER series which was revealing child abuse and sexual violence; the more interesting relationship information was in Max Austin’s first book DUKE CITY SPLIT.  Protecting family was part of the story, but it seemed more militaristic and did not touch me in the same way; there was an absence of the plotting and planning parts of the chase.

My feelings are very open right now with all the violence again people and thinking about the School shootings, children gunned down and politicians lack of response  against the powers of un-reason and greed.  I want to think of the sweet hope of a baby and not the violence of crucifixions in the darkness of winter.   Do these thrillers relieve people of stress and tension, excite readers, or just provide a great escape?

“Max Austin is a pseudonym for Steve Brewer, who has written 2 dozen books about crooks. LONELY STREET was made into a comedy movie in 2009.  A former journalist and humor columnist, Brewer teaches in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico.  He’s a frequent speaker at mystery conventions and was toastmaster at Left Coast Crime in 2011.  He is married and the father of 2 adult sons, Brewer lives in Albuquerque.” – See more at: DUKE CITY SPLIT 

Steve Brewer on Facebook

Once again fun writing and I know many of my readers will enjoy this book. Please share!  Thank you

Related:
The Fixer Series 
The Red Book of Primrose Lane 
Duke City Split 
The Forever Man

IN DOUBT: A Legal Thriller ~ Drusilla Campbell

“She had participated in making herself a victim.  That was what shamed and silenced her.” (Page 138)

The writing craft of the author is what kept me in tune with this good piece of fiction, also the fact that I was driving right through the area of the story on the Redwood Highway (101) while reading the book made it fun.  I figured out the ugly truth of the story early on, but the plotting and movement of the themes made the story grab hold.

Campbell kept working on the theme of family relationships, how psychological factors play into an ugly situation, how far back the pain can originate; the human relationships and situations were vital to the story line and comprehension.  How do childhood events shape lives and change the trajectory?  What happens when the community decides the verdict and there is a mob response and vicious threats included?   How mean can people be in our current environment and how does that play out in a community?

From the cover:

“Defense Attorney Sophie Giraudo is about to open a new practice in her California hometown when the beloved governor is shot during a celebration in the town park.  The only thing more shocking than the crime itself is the identity of the would-be assassin: a seemingly gentle teenager named Donny.”

I recommend IN DOUBT for all those who enjoy a good suspenseful thriller because it is defined by a solid premise, finely crafted writing, interesting, and I think many people will enjoy the story because of the family dynamics and psychological reveals.  I think the lawyer had to be a woman for this story to find the drive and produce understanding for the reader; it made it hard to leave the story and do other activities.  I recommend this story to those who do not normally read legal thrillers because the story is not overwhelmingly violent, there is so much more depth.

“Drusilla Campbell is the author of the critically acclaimed novels When She Came Home, Little Girl Gone, The Good Sister, Blood Orange, The Edge of the Sky, Wildwood, and Bone Lake.  She had crossed the Pacific Ocean three times before she started school, and in her twenties lived in Europe and Central American.  Today she is happy to stay home in San Diego with her husband, attorney and poet Art Campbell, and their two rescued dogs and three horses.”

DrusillaCampbell.com 
Drusilla Campbell died of cancer October 2014
She won the San Diego Book Award for her last novel.

Larissa sent me a copy of this book.  It contained the study guide for book groups
Larissa Ackerman|Claire McKinneyPR, LLC
41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930
larissa@clairemckinneypr.com / 908-955-7579
Thank you for the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.

I work at being concise in my reviews because I just hate reading lengthy reviews and those wordy plot destruction spoilers.  I just want to tease your reading appetite while giving the reader a nudge.

Please Share this review – the buttons are here!  Thank you

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FOG ISLAND MOUNTAINS: a Novel ~Michelle Bailat-Jones

“…and it is amazing how easily, how quickly really, a person can be turned inside –out and rewritten completely.” (Page 59)

In my life a daughter, wife, mother, social worker, friend died today after a prolonged battle with breast cancer. I am sharing this story about death with her family after the service; it is a profoundly, deeply touching love story integrated with a Japanese folktale – I cried and found release.

From the Advanced Uncorrected Proof copy cover:

“What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone’s greatest mistake?

A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese KITSUNE folk tale tradition, FOG ISLAND MOUNTAIN is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.

Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi’s oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own.

Inhabitants of a small town, Komachi, are waiting for the biggest of the summer’s typhoons, when the cancer diagnosis is received.  South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years, he considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements.  His wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm afraid to hear the diagnosis and avoids the truth.”

FOG ISLAND MOUNTAIN is the winner of the Christopher Doheny Award, which recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness (either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend).  The judges for the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award included acclaimed writers Dani Shapiro, Meghan O’Rourke, and Ann Hood.

Michelle-Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator.  Her novel FOG ISLAND MOUNTAINS won the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction in New York City.  She translated Charles Ferdinand Ramuz’s 1927 Swiss classic BEAUTY ON EARTH (2013). She is the reviews editor at the webjournal/Necessary Fiction, and her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including the Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, and The Atticus Review.  Michelle lives in Switzerland.

Michelle Bailat-Jones Twitter

Thank you Lisa at TLC Book Tours – I needed this one; perfect timing. Stunning writing.  Very Highly Recommend

Related:
The Long Goodbye
All Gone
So Far Away
WILD