A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After

Nowadays, online dating is the norm. When apps like Tinder, Bumble and Ok-cupid hold promises of long perfect romances or steamy one night stands, who wouldn’t want to give love a shot? At the palm of her hands – YouTuber Brittani Taylor, had it all. So why not give love a go? Brittani clicked and swiped “her little heart out.” Entangled in the messy sometimes weird wonders of online dating; until a seemingly perfect individual popped up on her screen. This European heart throb swept her right off her feet. Little did Brittani know, it wasn’t love that kept her floating, but an undeniable fear she herself couldn’t comprehend. A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After, isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not a love story. But one of a courageous women, doing whatever it takes to protect herself and her son.

“I didn’t make it to the door before Milos had his arms around me. Overwhelming me with his strength. “Help me!” “Help me!” “Help me!” I wailed. My voice was raw, the sheer strain overwhelming my vocal cords. Two feet. All I had to make it was two feet and I would have been outside.”

Like many people, I’ve watched Brittani Taylor for as long as I could remember. Her positive energy and heartwarming smile were one of the many reasons online strangers repeatedly clicked on her videos. So, when Brittani announced she was engaged and pregnant, it was absolutely shocking. I witnessed many of her followers search and question what changed and how she was able to hide it for so long. However, as her videos indulged further into her personal life – at least I began to understand. I mean she seemed happy. And to many people that was the most important part. But that’s one of the many mishaps with abusive relationships. Things seem to be a lot of different things, to a lot of different people, even to the people in them.

“For him it was “love at first sight,” but for me, it was “anxiety on every date.” Something was telling me to run— but for two years, the only running I did was straight into his arms.”

– Brittani Louise Taylor

This book is both intense and heart wrenching. As Brittani Taylor recounts her experiences with love, you can feel the fear and heartbreak in her writing, “that was the worst part about love, discovering that what you had had was no more. One too many fights, or crossed wires, and feelings had disappeared. Now that I had made a decision, the emotional stress was also causing me physical stress. I was having a hard time eating, suffering from indigestion and acne.” Every detail of her survival is outlined – the angst in her words within every page, was immensely felt, and you can’t help but to shiver as you read it. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting this book to be as daunting as it was (even though I knew what the outcome would be). The manipulation she went though is intense and often hard to read. I was expecting this story to end like most domestic violence story’s do; the abuser is capture, prosecuted, and finally the survivor can breathe. However, it was nothing like that. In reality, we know happy endings aren’t always happy. You can hope, but sometimes endings are just endings.

What Brittani went though was horrific and I think its easy to point out what you would and wouldn’t do in a situation, until you’re the one in a similar situation. Therefore, I’m glad she wrote this book. If not for herself then for others. The reality of dating is scary. Especially if you’re meeting someone online. Its easy to lie about yourself and make people see what you want them to see. I believe it takes a powerful person to realize that the person they’re in love with doesn’t love them in the same safe ways that they do – and it takes a stronger person to leave.

Sometimes you look for love in hopes for a fairy tale ending, but end up in a very real nightmare. Narcissistic, manipulative people will beat you down until you can’t say no to them. Or until you become unrecognizable even to yourself. This isn’t a made up story. Its real life survival that Brittani went through. That someday her son will read. And one she chose to speak up about, even though she was scared. I want to thank Brittani for telling her story. It takes courage and power to do so. I also want to caution everyone to be careful when searching for love. To watch out for red flags and listen to your body and mind when it urges you to run. Or in Brittani Taylor’s words, “Don’t be afraid of love. Just do a background check first.”


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Reviewed by

Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn about everything she can, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 8 months with an online publishing company and one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Behind Closed Doors

Grace and Jack seem to have it all. Fabulous exotic vacations, a beautiful expensive home, and undying love. From the outside Grace and Jack are the perfect couple. Their friends pick and pry but, Grace and Jack never wither. They are simply the depiction of perfection. They’re charming, beautiful, and everything your relationship is not; but behind closed doors, sometimes perfect can get a little messy and chaotic. Some might wonder are Grace and Jack happy when the doors are closed or is there more to Grace and Jack that we’re not seeing.

“What colour was Millie’s room, Grace?”
– B.A Paris

Through the entirety of Behind Closed Doors I felt challenged, nervousness, panic, and uneasiness. I know that these aren’t typical emotions an author wants to provoke in their readers, but Behind Closed Doors is a different book. You feel certain emotions as situations shift and you’re forced to shift with them; as you put yourself in characters shoes, and as it is becomes absurdly clear that what you were originally picturing would never compare to what this book is really uncovering.”“Fear,’ he whispered. ‘There is nothing quite like it. I love how it looks, I love how it feels, I love how it smells. And I especially love the sound of it.’ I felt his tongue on my cheek. ‘I even love the taste of it.”” It’s difficult for me to discuss this novel without spilling all of the juicy, mostly horrifying details, but I’ll try to devalue my feelings without giving too much away.

“But the truth is, we never really know what goes on, on the other side of the fence, behind those closed doors. Instead of looking over the fence, we should really be keeping our eyes fixed firmly on our side and cherishing the grass that we have—bald patches and all—just a little bit more.”

– B.A. Paris

This reverting psychological thriller will keep you on your toes and make you question every seemingly perfect, inseparable couple you come across. Often main character Grace drifts from her past – so readers understand what lead to her present circumstances, “had it all been a facade, had he covered his true self with a cloak of geniality and good humour to impress me?” As the plot and motives of the characters escalated (as did my anxiety), I seem to be aware of everything but nothing at same time. I questioned events before they happened or as they were unfolding, and at times, I couldn’t tell if I wanted to close this book or keep reading with one eye open. Like I said, I’ve never felt so uncomfortable, nervous, and constantly on the edge while reading a book. I don’t think I took a real breath of fresh air until I finished reading it. I’m unsure if author, B.A. Paris wanted her readers to feel that way, but she absolutely accomplished those feelings with me.

“I look around at everybody laughing and joking together and struggle to understand my life has become a living hell that nobody present could even begin to imagine”

– B.A. Paris

The concept of Behind Closed Doors is fantasizing. It’s one of those books you promise you’re going to put down, but keep reading anyway. B.A. Paris has a crafty way of portraying some characters in a certain way to sway your judgement of them. That skills pushed me into sort of liking Angel and seeing the appeal that Grace had with him. Within the first few chapters you could obviously tell something was off, but I assumed Grace was the problem. I wasn’t expecting the plot of the book to prove me wrong in so many ways.

I haven’t read a book that kept me guessing and question the motives of the characters and the people around, in a very like time. Behind closed doors is refreshing. It differs from many psychological thrillers, but that what draws people to it.

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Reviewed by:
 Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Fishnets In The Far East: A Dancer’s Diary In Korea

Fishnets In The Far East, is a true story of a young dancer who follows her aspiration into South Korea. Along with two friends, this young dancer experiences a shady, unappealing, version of the entertainment industry no one could prepare her for. As her dream of becoming a dancer turns into a nightmare, Michele struggles with maintaining her strength, voice, and power in male dominated surroundings.

“I had arrived barely muttering a word to anyone, but over the past six months, I had had to learned to stand up for myself. I realized that the only way to survive in this male orientated world, was to be confrontational. If not, the female sex would be constantly taken advantage of again and again; walked on; belittled and ignored.” – Michele E. Northwood

Reading real-life experiences can be greatly overwhelming. As a reader, it feels invasive and personal. As a writer, you fight the urge to continuously critique and criticize. When reading Fishnets in the Far East, all I could focus on and feel was fear. I didn’t have it in me to critique the way I normally would. I lost myself completely in Michele’s story. Often I confused her feelings with my own. Her fear became my fear. Even when she maintained strength, I grew scared for her. 

I’ll admit, I had some trouble getting to this book at first. I don’t enjoy reading personal stories. I like getting lost in fantasy worlds to escape my own life. I’m finding out that I can do that with non-fiction. I pushed through, the feelings of invasiveness I felt seemed to disappear as did my unwillingness to read something new. It was replaced with fear, wonder, and astonishment. I finished the book in a day.

”We quickly positioned the chair and moved away from the door in case of gun shots. Then, we waited. Finally, after an endless twenty minutes, the shouting and banging on the door abruptly stopped and the duo left. However, it became impossible for us to sleep. Over the next few hours, the miffed Mafia boss constantly phoned our room in fifteen minute intervals.”

Michele E. Northwood

It repeatedly dawned on me – within every odd, scary, or frustrating encounter Michele had – that I was reading a diary. I couldn’t diminish the anguish I felt while reading Fishnets in the Far East. This was someone’s life story. The amount of anxiety, tribulation, and helpless I felt caused me to value Michele Northwood’s journey because at some pint she felt all those things – maybe more. I began to try and imagine myself in any of these girl’s shoes – I couldn’t. I’m sure I would’ve packed up and given up after the first odd encounter, but Michele never did. 

I didn’t admire her just because she had the guts to go after her dream. Although that’s powerful, I admired her for chasing it into unknown places. At times being scared but never shutting down or packing up, I admired her for growing, taking charge, and remaining strong even when she no longer felt strong. To me that’s powerful. Michele is powerful. her story is honest, open, and intriguing. I could read her development, her determination, and her power in every world. Each new chapter was like being introduced to a new, less vulnerable, stronger Michele.

“My time in Korea had opened my eyes to a shady side of the entertainment world which I had never been a part of before and did not really know existed. It had introduced me to a different culture, tradition and attitude and, despite everything, I was grateful for the opportunity to have been able to live there.”

Michele Northwood

I loved everything about this book. I loved that Michele held herself accountable. I loved that she addressed her mistakes and the mistakes of those around her; but I adored the note she presented for readers, once they reach the final chapter;

“I now look back on some of my diary entries with acute embarrassment. Some of the ways in which I spoke to the Koreans with whom I spent my time, or how I treated them were totally uncalled for. My only excuse is that I was too young and foolish to really embrace the culture, language and customs of that amazing country.”

Michele E. Northwood

Michele was thrust into a male dominated world, but never let her surroundings take from her. I have yet to see authors write like Michele. With every word and chapter she reminders readers how strong she is. She also reminds us that shes still learning, growing, and more than willing to accept her faults, and use them to strengthen herself. Even when she was (rightfully) frustrated with the male dominated world around her, she never judged the people around her; but refused to allow anyone to change or take from her. Most would fear traveling again, but Michele left her heart and mind open. It is astonishing to read Michele’s story, but its one everyone should pick up at least once.

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Reviewed by:
 Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Supermarket Diaries

Supermarket Diaries reveals the life of Nina Belén Robins, a supermarket cashier. As she scans, bags, and is frequented by many complicated, different personalities, Nina finds herself disassociating and losing her compassion for the needy customers that stand before her. In hopes of regaining pieces of compassion back, Nina details her experiences with the sometimes sweet and often frustrating customers. Nina’s crafty poems reveal parts of customers existence, retail works often neglect in noticing.

“And when I clock out,/ I overhear two high school seniors in the parking lot,/ We’ll love each other forever, right?/ really believing that its true.” – Joan And John
– Nina Belén Robins

We’ve all been there. Working endless hours at consuming jobs were the illusion of “happiness” never ends. The place where you’ve first begun to dissociate parts of yourself; your smile, your laugh and maybe even your voice. It’s frequently offered up to the judge-y consumers and co-workers you’re forced to pretend too. So much and so often that it no longer feels like you. You no longer feel like you. If you ever felt like that or if you’ve ever worked a retail job, Supermarket Diaries by Nina Belén Robins is for you.

Nina writes of her experiences with the daunting, pull of retail life. In various creative, beautify written poems, Nina tells it all. She details her interactions with customers in retail, as well as, what she’s witnessed within frequent customers, “Bottle slips printed in turn for hundreds of empty beverages./ Often I have to return papers to crestfallen/ Fingers because the twelve-dollar limit has been reached” (Bottle slips). Nina has a way with words. She’s enabled me to see everyday strangers as strangers with beautiful stories I know want to capture. I look at people I normally wouldn’t pay any attention to, a teacher, co-worker, or those unfamiliar to me, and now wonder what their stories are.

“It’s so easy to yell at someone who is not allowed to respond.” – Open Letter to the pope.

– Nina Belén Robins

I’ve noticed Nina’s interactions with customers, although insightful and beautifully written, is something most wouldn’t notice. Being a former cashier myself, I noticed co-workers usually look through people not in them and customers happily returning the favor. When you work in retail, sometimes the only way to get through the day is if everyone mergers together. Speaking from personal experiences, I’ve only noticed the ones I tolerated and the ones I loathed. Unlike me, Nina noticed everyone. More importantly she’s able to acknowledge their stories with in such a small fraction of time, through little to no verbal contact. She pulls stories from people they might’ve not realized they were hiding or they assumed were hiding well, “Always messages/ passed through her smile”(Louise), and adds a creative somber taste to their experiences from her outsider perspective.

“I will watch customers in silence and not warn them./ People refuse to admit that they are being fooled./ But I am on to you.” – Open Letter To Nabisco

– Nina Belén Robins

One of the wonderful talents many poets possess is their ability to grasp (their own) or another persons struggles and turn in into art. Nina grasps (maybe) simple or meaningless interactions at the supermarket and transforms them into mind-blowing pieces of art, “Now he can only love the snooze button,/ no attraction to the sunrise” (Louise).

What I loved the most about Nina Robins writing is her ability to capture emotions. It’s something I’ve learned to value as a reader and a writer. Those small seemingly, insignificant lines that you can’t tear your eyes from. Nina’s book is full of them. Small words making up bigger meanings, “Theresa’s clean hands tremble/ when I force the change into her fingers./ She’s contaminated/ Violated./ Infected and repulsed” (Theresa). Her honesty forces me to remember some of the times I’ve felt the way she has, or pushed me to feel that way even if it’s foreign. As most of the people that read my blog post know, emotional pull is important to me. It helps me connect with authors, which indulges me to better understating and appreciating the book. Nina’s book is definitely one that has connected and will resonate in me.

“The lady thanked God for the reduced rack… I did not tell her about the people so broke/ we call the cops because they try to sneak bread home,/ about the homeless people/ who dig through garbage to make $1.00 on soda cans,/ about the bums who live on bakeshop samples-/ or the single mothers making 8.50 an hour/ with their union 16 hours a week.” – God

– Nina Belén Robins

I’m very excited to read and review more of Nina’s work. Supermarket Dairies is raw, well written, and beautiful. It’s a book I can see myself reading over and over again and never feeling disappointed.

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Reviewed by:
 Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Two Paths: You Only Die Once

“Everything in my head felt so heavy and enmeshed that I was never any good at talking or at being in touch with myself to be able to let it all out. There was like a fear inside me that if I opened up just a crack, I would completely crumble, fall apart to such an extent that I wouldn’t be able to get back up again.”
– Georgie Massiot

When I finished and first began reading Two Paths: You Only Die Once, what struck was how author, Georgie Massiot bluntly states that they aren’t a writer. It’s one of less drastic part of the book and maybe one that you’ll gloss over or see as meaningless, but it’s one that pushed me to think. I think it’s important Georgie Massiot or anyone to know, that if you maintain the power to tell your story and publish it for the world to judge, you’re a writer.

That being said, I’ve realized how difficult it is to review books about real life experiences that people go though. Especially when the experiences are mostly adverse. I’ve witness countless reviewers, unable to truly justify whether reading someones life story is inspirational or interesting to them, so they judge the writing in place of the topic. While the written aspect of a novel is important, I think that confronting the topic is more so when you’re reading someone life story. Not to judge but rather to reflect on. It’s easy to judge whether something is well written or not, but acknowledging what words made you feel, in place of how they’re presented, has a greater affect in my eyes.

“Questions were running through my own mind. I didn’t feel happy inside, in fact, I couldn’t feel anything anymore. My life was feeling numb and disengaged. I guess the panic feeling I’d had was also because I had felt some embarrassment that I was still not much further forward with this big fencing dream that everyone, except me, had made so big and public.”

– Georgie Massiot

Two Paths: You Only Die Once, discusses excruciating topics. Georgie Massiot, passionately revels the traumatic abusive underlining of their childhood and offers readers previews of different points in their life. Georgie’s life story wasn’t one sided or just directed at one thing. It confronted many different things, people and outlined mistakes and hardships that have allowed Georgie to grow despite their deprivation; and allowed me to reflect on as a reader. Personally, I found Georgie’s writing heartfelt, strong, and emotional. Georgie really has a way with words. While some may feel like a dagger in your heart, “Sometimes, most of the time, I just felt like I was suffocating in a vortex of just stuff, hurtful, painful, abusive stuff, desperately trying to hold on to this new life that had been given to me like a gift.” Others will make you laugh and smile, “”I’m a little bit stuck,” I said, hanging almost upside down, head first into the direction of a toilet. The old fashioned window was small and its latch had latched onto my jeans. My friends through their tears of laughter managed to unhook my butt and I disappeared completely.”

“Everything in my head felt so heavy and enmeshed that I was never any good at talking or at being in touch with myself to be able to let it all out. There was like a fear inside me that if I opened up just a crack, I would completely crumble, fall apart to such an extent that I wouldn’t be able to get back up again.”

– Georgie Massiot

Georgie’s ability to move me without lingering on a subject for too long, is another reason they’re powerful. What I really enjoyed was getting to know Georgie through their words. I understand that this wasn’t intentionally done, however, it’s important that I acknowledge it. Even in times when Georgie might have felt defeated due to their own actions, they took responsibility for them and tried. I think trying is important. When you’re stuck in abusive, spastic surroundings, you stop trying and lose parts of yourself. While that did happen to Georgie, I also witnessed development, power, and a refusal to surcome to the surroundings around them.

It was hard for me to put this book down. It was also hard for me to read what Georgie went through. No one should be subjected to the amounts of pain and trauma that Georgie went through. I’m happy Georgie had the courage to go through these traumatic experiences, even though at times it didn’t seem possible, and then write it down. I hope those whom have hurt Georgie read their words and realize while they’ve hurt them they didn’t brake them. They’ve allowed them to grow and given them the chance to encounter wonderful people that will read these words and love them in ways that they should’ve never had a chance too.

“Someone once described grief as an ocean of emotion in which you learn to swim and become a stronger swimmer, as the varying sized waves come in and take your knees out from behind you.”

– Georgie Massiot

When I review books like Two Paths: You Only Die Once, I like to point out parts of the book that meant something to me, as well as parts of the book that allowed me to get to know the author. It helps to understand what I’m reading better and understand the author in my in way. It is my hope that reading parts of Two Paths: You Only Die Once, that were meaningful to me, will encourage you to find parts that are mean something for you as well.

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 Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Orson

David Pearson’s, Orson presents a futuristic take on Earth. In this world, Earth’s natural resources are deplete, experiencing old age is rare and greatly desired, and pollution is so vast, you can’t breathe without the assistants of air purifiers.

Lured with the promise of paradise hidden on the Jupiter Eclipse, Orson Blake believes he has won the lottery. In exchange for work, Orson blindly follows the rules enlisted by the Lunar Mining corporation.

As dark secretes, corruption, and manipulation come to surface, Orson discovers the Lunar Mining corporation isn’t what it’s made out to be. Slowly he realizes that the promises of relocation and better circumstances are not as close or as easily attainable as he once believed.

With the help of three other confidants, Orson uncovers that the escape from Earth he one desired holds more dark secrets that’ll leave him and everyone around him repeatedly fighting for their lives.

“Orson grabbed one of the pen the Doctor had left next to Hugo’s bed. Clocking the nib out he spun and lashed out with a primal rage he didn’t know he possessed. Plugging it into the man’s side, they both stumbled where they stood. His eyes met Orson’s face for a split second before he removed ur and buried the pen again into the man, punching a bloody pattern the length of his torso.”
– David Pearson 

Judging from the book title and cover art, I knew Orson was going to be something different. Different isn’t bad for me. I enjoy spicing my life up by impulsively eluding in new things every now and then, but when it comes to my books “different” or rending from topics that wouldn’t normally engage me didn’t intrigue me. However, author of Orson, David Pearson has an effective way of illuminating subjects with hidden beautiful sentences, which made “different” seem not as intimidating but interesting.

This books is placed in the future, where people follow dead promises, live in improvised broken communities and wear air purifiers to escape the poverty present day circumstances pushed onto the future. In this world people normally don’t live past their 30’s. Seeing graying hair and wrinkles has become a desire that present day can’t fathom admiring. For me, David Pearson’s take on the upcoming future was truly terrifying. I couldn’t help compare a lot of what was happening in the book to situations occurring now. For intense people’s mindset in following anything without fully understanding what they’re following. I found the ways in which David conveys this astonishing. It’s one of the many things that makes this book a true page turner.

“A mountain stood before Orson Blake, built of trauma and grief. Breathless and weary, he felt it to be insurmountable.”

– David Pearson

I have to say though, the plot wasn’t what I enjoyed the most about Orson. It was David’s ability to sprinkle beautiful heartfelt sentences through his novel, “The crowds full attention the flashing lights of the squad cars and the glimmer of hope that they might see something interesting.” This ability is both rare and surprising. Personally I didn’t expect to read so many thought provoking sentences in this novel and I’m glad I was wrong.

“Orson took a deep breath. Earth’s air was becoming toxic. Generations of pollution had brought the mother land of the human race to her knees.”

David Pearson

I had to fully invest myself in this book. Like I said, I am now exploring new genres and wanted to make sure I fully understood what David Pearson wanted to convey. Main character Orson’s future began bleak. He played a small, insignificant piece in a world that has bigger plans for anything and everything around him. I wasn’t expecting to dive into this book as much as I did. I wasn’t excepting to thirst for more or be disappointed that it ended.

I also loved how the females were pretested as strong. While Orson was scared and at times weak. I was comforted by this. In novels i’m used to reading female characters as weak, helpless, and unable to care of anyone or fight.

I believe Orson is a diffident novel. One that forces you remain open when you read it. I think anyone that is used to reading certain genres should start branching out with Orson. It will have you hooked. The charters are likable and it doesn’t follow the same egotistic gender norms that most novels do. Its quietly powerful, astonishingly beautiful, and I can not wait to read and review more form this author.

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Reviewed by:

Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

The Neighbor

Lured with the affirmation of growing friendships, a family filled neighborhood, and a successful brewery; Clay Daniels uproots his wife, Leah Daniels, and twins, Zack and Zadie to Maine. Unfortunately for the Daniels, Maine is everything but what they’ve hoped for.
Stuck in an undeveloped neighborhood, Clay searches for happiness outside of his life and confines all his energy and love into his brewery. While Leah, haunted by the idea of playmates for her kids, friends for herself, and ignored by her husband, lets loneliness get the best of her. She begins to grow a strange obsession with her neighbor, Clarissa Gaines. However, the more she uncovers about Clarissa, the more she reveals about herself, her husband, and the rest of the secrets buried all around her that no one is ready to face again.

“I move to the window and see Clarissa’s car parked in the driveway. I can’t believe she’s come home so early, the one day I chose to snoop around. In all the time I’ve been watching her, she’s never returned at this hour. What am I going to do.”
– Joseph Souza

I’m not a harsh writer – especially when it comes to another author’s literary accomplishments. However, I can’t help but question the state of mind of this author as I read The Neighbor by Joseph Souza. This book is a psychological thriller told from the perspectives of Clay and Leah Daniels. It’s centered around the disappearance of Mycah, a college student activist and Leah’s strange obsession with her neighbor Clarissa. While this plot was promising in the first few chapters, it ended up being the opposite of a book I’d normally have high hopes for. It started off great. It was something I was drawn into and I was excited to uncover the same mystery that intrigued and entangled the main characters. However, the more I got to know the characters the harder it became to like the book and follow along with the plot. The Neighbor carried so much subplot, that ultimately the main plot got lost in all of the drama. Which made the book uninteresting and hard to read. The characters were very unlikable and the events in the book continuously snow balled into a mess of backstabbing, affairs, and murder.

She needs intensive therapy if she’s to put her sisters death in the rear view mirror. But will that be enough to save our marriage?”

– Joseph Souza

I was also disgusted reading the many “sexual” overly fetishized portions riddled in this novel, “I laugh, the wine making me bold and adventurous. I suddenly want to fulfill my marital duties to this wonderful man. “Would you like to make love to me Clay? Would you like me to pretend I’m your slave? A young girl that you trapped behind the barn one night and had your way with?” I giggle girlishly.” It wasn’t because the author was a white man and I’m a black woman – although maybe it was a small part of it – It was because of the many implications that these “sexual” segments meant. What they meant to me. The idea that any black woman would find these acts enjoyable or beg a white man to see her in such a notion was appalling. “She carried a whip in one hand, which she handed to me, I was at loss for words when she told me how she wanted me to do her. She leaned over the bed, exposing the caramel skin on her back. Then she ordered me to whip her… “You need to, governor. Treat me like the mouth slave you’ve always wanted to possess.”

“Here’s the sad irony. Mycah appeared to enjoy the rough sex. She couldn’t get enough of it. Name the sexual act and we did it. She encouraged -no ordered- me to smack her around.”

– Joseph Souza

If we ignored the sexual component to the book (which is pretty hard to considering how disturbing it is), there are many other things off with this novel. The plot for intense, was everywhere, hard to follow, and often at times unpredictable, and unrealistic. It left me with more questions than answers (and not in a good way). There were so many things going on in this book at the same time. Leah and Clay’s marriage down fall, both Leah and Clay’s alcoholism, Clay and Leah ignoring the existence of their children, both of their children’s state of mind and development, Leah’s obsession with Clarissa, Clarissa and her husband’s existence in the novel in general, affairs, all the killings, Leah’s lost story line, oh and let’s not forget the point of the book, Mycah.

Although there were some strong points to this book, it all centered around the mystery of Mycah. However, her story line was one that went nowhere. The ending, just like the entirety of this book, was disappointing. Leah, indulges in her self destructive ways, while everyone around her indulged in their own versions as well. The plot is mingled and many of the mystery’s that could’ve lead to an amazing book, resulted in a horrid one. I haven’t read a book in awhile that made me question the mind state of a writer. I also haven’t read Joseph Souza other books, but if there’re anything like this one – I’m starring clear of them.


29511359_186315198646750_4804008243360882691_nReviewed by:

Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 9 months with an online publishing company and works part time as a freelance writer. Josie one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Queer Me!: Halfway Between Flying and Crying

Queer Me!: Halfway Between Flying and Crying, is a coming of age novel, about a closeted young man during the sixties. Written a diary – it transpires in Britain. Where the author and main character, Tim Trent give readers an exclusive look within his experiences with desire, family life, denial, and sexuality.

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“I don’t mind a phase. It stops it all mattering. It means I don’t need to worry and don’t feel dirty and stuff.” – Tim Trent

Tim’s story begins on his thirteenth birthday and follows him until he’s eighteen. It depicts the struggles of a growing, closeted teenager, as he comes to terms with things around him and things occurring in him. During the progression of Queer Me!: Halfway Between Flying and Crying, I noticed Tim, downplay critical events in his life with humor or write about them briefly but never fully talk about, “odd things, families.” However, as Tim begins to try and decipher things in his life, he then became more comfortable describing hardships to his diary, “Instead of the mechanical stuff I saw his face, and the bruise on his bum, and his sore back. I never see pictures when I’m doing it, but I did last night. I only realised when I’d, ahem, finished. That was just odd.” I also noticed that as Tim grew so did his writing. “I realised this morning that I don’t have him, so it doesn’t matter if I deserve him or not. It’s all in my fucking head, I know it is. Except when it seems like it isn’t.” We’re reading these entries how his mind worked and his experiences at the ages of thirteen through eighteen.

I must admit, I wasn’t used to reading from a rather anxious and un-revealing character. However, it interested me because it felt like Tim was testing the waters. Seeing if he could trust us or maybe the things he was writing. Once it wasn’t as cold, he’d go in further and further – telling us more and more, until he didn’t realize he was all the way in. I couldn’t help but think of Tim as rather brave. Given the time period, the inconceivable nature of his parents, and Tim’s increasing feelings – not only did he trust strangers with his most private thoughts, but he wrote it down, published them; knowing it wasn’t approved of and understanding the backlash.

To write such a prolific piece knowing the backlash is both brave and inspiring. Tim Trent’s ability to capture inner conflict, loneliness, and teenage angst is truly inspiring. This isn’t just a book about a teenager interrupting constantly changing things around him; but rather a book about a boy coming to terms with embedded feelings, changes, and events constantly occurring in him. I believe that all conflicted, confused young adults, like Tim, should dive into his novel.


29511359_186315198646750_4804008243360882691_nReviewed by

Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn about everything she can, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 8 months with an online publishing company and one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.

Rubber Neck

Life is already challenging for Patrick Fort, a young medical student with Asperger’s syndrome. However, it proves more so, when Patrick gets an unanticipated glimpse of death and develops an undying hunger for the truth. This hunger grows when Patrick, along with 4 other medical students, meet cadaver 19. Unable to understand death or unwilling too – Patrick finds himself amid cadaver 19’s possible murder. Harboring different goals and different opinions than his anatomy peers and professors, his desire for the truth leads him to uncover a series of different truths and in the forefront of danger.

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“Death was an inverse Big Bang; an impossible magic trick where everything had become nothing in the very same instant, where one state had been replaced so completely by another that no evidence of the first could be detected, and where the catalyst had been vaporized by the sheer shock of the new.” – Belinda Bauer

Belinda Bauer’s crime novel, Rubberneck emits the essences of ‘on the edge of my seat’ literature. It’s told from the perspective of many conflicting characters through different variations of time. However, begins with the viewpoint of Samuel Galan. A car crash victim stuck in his own comatose body. From the beginning of the novel to the end you’re thrown into an influx of death, sadness, and a whirlwind of shocking ever-changing events. Belinda’s unafraid of hovering away from the sometimes-disturbing thoughts of her characters, “I could have killed you while you slept, he said, not unpleasantly” – but rather builds on them until her readers are unable to put the book down. From the everlasting downward spiral of Patrick’s mother, “his mother didn’t go to work in the card shop, and Patrick didn’t go to school. His mother slept and slept and slept” – to Tracy’s fidget, timid nature, “she thought that if her (hypothetical) boyfriend were in a coma for more than a few weeks, she’d probably just cut her losses and move on, not stick around to watch him shit in his pants for the next fifty years.” Bauer’s ability to make readers wonder and grimace simultaneously is truly remarkable.

However, in my opinion, what’s truly a page turner is Bauer’s unwillingness to romanticize Patrick’s Asperger’s syndrome. She riddles the novel with variations of Patrick’s “quirks” and his lasting obsession with death. Patrick elaborates on his speculations and readers discover how his unwillingness to let go of crucial events from his past and seemingly future, affect other characters. Readers indulge in Patrick’s disabilities, through Patrick and recurring characters, “Everybody else possessed the key to popularity and happiness, and his clumsy attempts to find his own key always ended with other children looking at him funny or calling him names.” Seemingly odd actions, normal to Patrick, give readers a realistic view of Asperger’s syndrome and allows us to empathize with him – even if we couldn’t imagine performing many of his actions ourselves. “You’re different, you know.” “Only different from you,” he said. “Not different from me.”

The growth, digression, and discovery of her compelling, complex, circulating characters are remarkable. As a reader – you must appreciate her ability to capture it all without leaving any story line unsolved or any questions unanswered. For that, I give Belinda
Bauer’s Rubberneck 5/5 stars.


Reviewed by29511359_186315198646750_4804008243360882691_n

Josie M. Hulen

Josie Monet Hulen is a writer with a Bachelors degree in literature. She’s passionate about the written word and often spends her time with her nose in a book or in the middle of writing one. Her hunger for knowledge and determination to learn about everything she can, landed her a job as an office manager. She has also been an intern for 8 months with an online publishing company and one day hopes to be an inspiring writer.