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Drunk Talk

The mind of the average human is a powerful thing, able to invent and create, to study, and to progress. But it also has the capability to fill us with dread, panic, and fear. Above all, though, it gives us the ability to question. Is there a God? What is out in the far reaches of space? Did I return that book to the library? Since the dawn of time, humankind has been gifted and cursed with curiosity, and as life advances, its people and their problems advance with it.

Drunk Talk is a book brought to us by Mike Davis and TL Banks. It is not so much a story in its traditional sense, but more a study of humans told through stories. Its premise is that of a drunk sitting at a bar and listening to the various topics being discussed around him.

I enjoyed this book. It was nice to read something different from other fiction, and I liked the style of writing. It’s humorous, sharp, and authentic. This made it more engaging and a breeze to read. The topics and themes of the book were immensely enjoyable. The questions posed here were all very real, from the mysterious to the mundane. We have all experienced these same things and asked the same questions, but here, we get another perspective on them, which is remarkably refreshing.

Drunk Talk is a work of satire fiction stemming from the truth. Readers will find something in these forty-eight short stories that they can relate to. In my opinion, Davis and Banks have delivered a hit with this book. It’s thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable. I would be extremely interested in reading any other material they have. A highly satisfying book that I would highly recommend.

Pages: 119 | ASIN : B08F42246S

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Phoebe and Fred

Harmony is your typical village; secluded, close-knit, peaceful, and quiet. That was why the city-living Watsons found it to be the perfect spot to grow their little family. They added to their little family Phoebe and Fred, the brilliant Basset hounds, as well as a truckload of gossip and weary villagers. But, in a world where talking dogs are as impossible as flying pigs, will a loving family be enough to reassure the bassets that they will not again be thrown out and abandoned?

Phoebe and Fred by Nathaniel S. Johnson tells the story of two lovely not so ordinary basset hounds that found their way into a charming family. When Watson lost their dog, Billy Beau the Black Lab, Henry Watson was thrown into despair and almost swallowed by loneliness. His wife and kids thought a new addition to the family to replace their previous dog was the only way to save him, and it turned out the bassets were the best thing that happened to their whole family. Things, however, took a turn for the worse when one morning, the bassets did something that no ordinary dog could do.

Phoebe and Fred is a lighthearted story. I found the book straightforward and a solid read. There were not lengthy conversations, but they were sure long enough to warm my heart. The Bassets were particularly intriguing, and I was somewhat confused why the villagers were so weary of them. My blood boiled at some point, and I was dismayed by how petty Reverend Treadwell was and so delighted that Kyle, the sheriff, had some faith in the hounds.

Phoebe and Fred is a humorous story about two amazing Basset Hounds and the family that falls in love with them. The writing was immaculate, the characters were on point, and it was a delight to picture life in the small town in my head just from the description. Children will find this book an absolute delight, and fur parents might as well too.

Pages: 88 | ASIN : B0BMLPJSLH

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The Dead Superstar Bar

The story takes place in a neighborhood bar in Sarasota, The Dead Superstar Bar, a bar like no other. The place definitely lives up to its name, with dead superstars like George Harrison coming to perform nightly. Founded and established by Harvey Dowd with the help of his friend Conor, it’s a one-of-a-kind bar that features only music produced in the 1960s by dead musicians. What begins as a fantastic tale with a hint of nostalgia slowly becomes a mystery when none of the characters know how the bar came to be in the first place. This book shares so much trivia, and details about each musical band introduced to the audience during the daily night performances that it reads nothing short of an encyclopedia on music history.

The Dead Superstar Bar is an entertaining story packed with information and tidbits of music history in the form of a paranormal mystery novel. Although the author has undoubtedly done a respectable amount of research to compile such an enormous quantity of trivia and facts about each band or musician before introducing them to the stage in the bar, it can feel a bit like a music history lesson. However, for those who love reading about the strange facets of the life of a superstar, it is bound to be fantastic entertainment. 

What is interesting to note is the odd anecdote behind the protagonist’s name, Harvey, as being given after the name of the six feet three-inch pooka that features in the 1950 movie of the same name. In terms of nostalgia for a time that has passed us by and for the once famous celebrities we have almost forgotten now, this story seems to bring them to our memory and help us reminisce about them, almost like the peculiar silent character of Elwood in the film. Overall, it invites us to take a pleasant journey into the 60s world of music.

The Dead Superstar Bar is a captivating contemporary fantasy novel with metaphysical characters that give the story its unique draw and mystery. Like the music of the 60s, this novel will remain with readers, make them smile, and make them wonder just what could happen next.

Pages: 262 | ASIN : B0BHJFQXVM

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Second Chance -The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina

Dr. Gianni Pisano, a once up-and-coming medical doctor, finds himself in South France years later, succumbing to his vices. Embracing a life full of drugs and alcohol, he is adamant in making sure that his troubles are always out of his mind, particularly his wife’s tragic death a few years past. During his isolation, he meets Pepina Soler, a Catalonian woman that may just be his saving grace. As the two bond over what the south of France has to offer — food, nature, and art — they also learn a thing or two about life, love, and the second chances they offer.

Second Chance – The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina, by Giuseppe Scarpine, is a captivating story that will leave you longing for a summer getaway in rural France, all while contemplating universal questions we have asked ourselves for a long time. Combined with humorous lines and scenes here and there, this book keeps the feeling of its readers light as they look forward to the two characters’ next adventures in the coming pages.

For a person living in the city, a book set in an entirely different place was something I eagerly welcomed, and the author’s detailed explanation of the surroundings helped build my imagination. In a way, South France’s comfort to its citizens and tourists extended to its audience. Furthermore, the large number of characters was given an equal place in the story, for each contributed in one way or another. While some scenes are more memorable than others, the flow of the story made sense in such a way that despite the beauty and comedy of the book, its thought-provoking aspects will surely leave a reader’s mind creating questions and answers simultaneously. By the end of the story, not everything was answered, opening the events up for another book, but it still felt as if the events had a full-circle moment, leaving me with a smile on my face as I finally turned the last page.

This is highly recommended for anyone interested in reading about soul searching, travel, and lifestyle. The comedic approach will also serve as a great pull to potential readers since reading books about the said categories can sometimes be too focused on giving tips and advice. Second Chance – The Adventures of Gianni & Pepina can also be read by those in their 50s or older, for the characters will resonate with them and might give these readers inspiration to take on new adventures without the hindrance of age.

Pages: 264 | ASIN : B09952D5FJ

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Giant Banana Over Texas

Giant Banana Over Texas by Mark Nutter is a collection of short stories that will make you stop in your track and reread it. With straightforward and short stories, the author has tried to capture the absurdity of human life in weird circumstances. All these instances that are mentioned in the book are plausible situations. They have the full potential to be true, but this is something that is generally not heard of. It might sound confusing, but this is exactly what the stories are: confusing and chaotic.

The author’s writing style is the common thread that binds these 31 stories together in this book. All of them are weirdly thought-provoking and will leave you with a deep sense of discomfort. Of course, I knew that stories are simply stories, but there is something in those stories that make them very near to reality despite being in the vein of impossibility.

The stories have sensible beginnings, a possible flow of action, but an unsettling end. These endings are connected to the problems at the beginning. The weird endings suddenly turn the flow of the stories and take them away from the realistic relatability that we feel with the stories. It is weird, but curiosity makes it interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed being stumped by this Giant Banana over Texas.

The author uses absurdity to bring out the problems of the contemporary world. Even though the endings are not what lies in the wake of realistic action, it brings out discomfort in the readers. The readers feel relatable yet away from the characters. The discomfort of the stories seeps within the reader’s conscience and itches at the mind.

Giant Banana Over Texas is a collection of short dark-humor stories. The language used is very easy to read and understand. Anyone will enjoy the Absurd twists and turns that the stories take while the characters are left hanging on the edge of uncertainty.

Pages: 237 | ASIN : B09S6T5FM4

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What’s Not True

In midst of a divorce from Mike, Kassie O’Callaghan reunites with her ex-lover Chris as they run away to Paris. But unfortunately, their plans are derailed repeatedly. First from her marketing career at Calibri marketing group, when she is offered a new position at her company’s Paris office. Second a sudden heart attack that drags her back home to Boston. While in Boston, Kassie has to deal with Mike’s fiancee, Karen, as she attempts to steal the rights to the business Kassie and Mike forged together. Things get more complicated during the legal battle between Kassie and Karen when DNA tests reveal shocking news that could change everything. What’s Not True; A Novel is a sequel to Valerie Taylor’s What’s Not Said.

When reading the novel, a reader might be caught off guard as the story picks up directly after What’s Not Said. However, after the first couple of chapters, the characters and their story become more apparent. Although not a required read, What’s Not Said offers much insight into the characters’ dynamics.

The reader is quickly sucked into a complicated love web. Author Valerie Taylor does a fantastic job with her character building. Each of her characters is endearing in their own way, despite their flaws. For example, although Mike’s character is questionable, the reader is still found rooting for him and his desires. Kassie struggles with finding her footing as a professional and in her romantic life. The situations Kassie ends up in are great catalysts for her character’s growth.

The book has a satisfying ending where many family secrets finally come to light, giving many characters clarity on their past. Readers will not feel like they are left hanging with questions and will actually find peace on many subjects that come in in the course of this entertaining novel.

What’s Not True is a heartwarming story that would make a great beach read, filled with plot twists and interesting characters. This captivating and romantic story that is anything but predictable.

Pages: 336 | ASIN : B08QZ8KR4Y

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SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop

SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop by author David R. Low is a collection of four short stories that start in Japan and quickly move to Russia. These intriguing stories are very different in structure and style but share themes of obsession, disorder, and finding the so-called ‘Russian Soul’ through dark satire that isn’t afraid to descend into the bizarre. Low’s Russia is a chaotic society where culture has been consumed by a never-ending stream of filthy, overcrowded bars and a juvenile obsession with violence, drinking, and sex.

Whether it’s the ridiculous “Waiting for Deacon,” in which two Americans pointlessly pretend to be Australian, or the disturbing world that’s ruled by “Russia Cop” and an army of apes, the threat of violence is never far from the surface in these stories.

“English Teacher” starts as a traditional short story but soon transforms into a surreal drama in which everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. Unfortunately, the ending here leaves you with more questions than answers.

The best story of the collection is “Tsoi Lives,” in which a group of acquaintances travels to Russia in search of a one-time rock star. Exploring infatuation and identity, this is an emotionally gripping tale offering profound commentary on culture and obsession.

I found the metaphors commenting on Russia’s hatred of the U.S. to be transparent. That aside, the satire is dark and haunting. The characters are well-drawn and complex, giving readers a variety of personalities to follow. Low’s ability to create realistic dialogue even when the subjects are not is noteworthy.

SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop is a collection of dark and satirical short stories. These inventive stories are incredibly well-written and memorable, and fans of the absurd will find them funny. If you know Russia from the inside, this collection is a must-read.

Pages: 262 | ASIN : B09VGB2TZN

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Non-human Species Deserve To Live Their Lives Free of Exploit

Chuck Augello Author Interview

A Better Heart follows a filmmaker that reconnects with his father in an unusual way and causes him to question what matters in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I’ve had an interest in animal rights for most of my adult life and wanted to write about it in an engaging way that would entertain readers, but also inform them and perhaps challenge them to explore their own beliefs.  After my first novel, The Revolving Heart, was published, I started writing the opening chapters of a new novel, with an animal rights theme, that was nothing at all like A Better Heart.  After three chapters that novel stalled, and I put it aside for several months.  I then began hearing the first-person voice of Kevin, the novel’s narrator, and a character took shape.  I didn’t know that Henry, the capuchin monkey, and Kevin’s estranged father Brian would be critical characters until they literally walked into the opening scene.  Once that happened, the story fell into place, and I wrote the first draft in ten months, which for me is quite fast.   

Kevin thought his life was going great till he encounters Henry and reconnects with his father, causing him to rethink his personal values. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?  

Kevin feels responsible for the death of his mother and that guilt drives him toward a feeling of responsibility for Henry.  He’s someone who has always been self-focused.  As a filmmaker, he’s constantly drawing in his friends to help him with his projects.  He’s never really thought about the world beyond movies and his own ambitions, but as he learns about Henry’s experiences, he knows that he has a choice to help Henry reach freedom or to let him return to what can only be described as a primate prison.  

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Primarily, the idea that non-human species deserve to live their lives free of exploitation and pain. The way that most animals are treated is unforgivable, and a stain on the human character.   Another theme is one of forgiveness.  Kevin struggles to forgive his father for what he perceives as abandonment, and he struggles to forgive himself for his unintended role in his mother’s death.   

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently under contract for a book about the author Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s a mix of essays and interviews that I’ve done over the years with scholars and artists about their Vonnegut-themed works.  That should be available in 2023.  I’m also working on a novel set in the Bicentennial year of 1976.  The main characters are a college student and her uncle, who has returned home after living in Canada for ten years to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.   

Author Links: Twitter | Website

For aspiring indie filmmaker Kevin Stacey, it’s another day on the set of his first film, but when his estranged father, a failed Hollywood actor, arrives unexpectedly with a bundle of cash, a gun, and a stolen capuchin monkey, he’s propelled toward the journey that will change his life.
The monkey, Henry, has been liberated from a research lab by animal rights activists. Inspired by his friend Veronica to reevaluate his relationship with other species, Kevin learns about the pain and suffering inflicted on lab animals as he forges a bond with the capuchin. When father and son embark on a road trip with Henry, Kevin is caught between the egocentric father who abandoned him and the temperamental monkey whose fate is in his hands. With both the FBI and his mother’s ghost watching, will Kevin risk his career and his father’s freedom to bring the stolen monkey to safety? Meanwhile, Veronica’s encounter with an eccentric Catholic priest triggers her own journey toward change.
A heartbreaking yet comic family drama, A Better Heart examines the human-animal bond and the bonds between fathers and sons, challenging readers to explore their beliefs about the treatment of non-human species.
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