Review: Carniepunk

Reviewed by Jen

I’m a little late getting around to reading this 2013 collection of carnival themed short stories, but I learned it included a prequel to a series I am reading now and I wanted to check it out. I found the stories to be very uneven, both in tone and in how much I enjoyed them. But there were enough engaging entries, I found it worth the read.

Painted Love – This is the first thing I have ever read by Rob Thurman and I have to say, it was a bit odd. It follows the observations of Doodle, an enigmatic traveler who attaches himself to a man named Bart, a sociopath working at a carnival. The story is told entirely through Doodle’s eyes, though he does not participate much in the action. To be honest, I thought he was a dog until his true form was revealed at the end. Didn’t get much out of this one.

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Review: Balustrade by Mark Henry

balustradeReviewed by Shelly

Although this is a good story, it’s not one that I would ever willingly read due to the dark subject matter. When the request to review this story was presented, this is the blurb I read.

A couple on the verge of divorce begrudgingly agree to attend a remote and oddly voyeuristic couples retreat where they find their most intimate relations under discomfiting scrutiny. The therapy is ritualistic, sensual, wearing away their inhibitions to lush, orgiastic ends. But when time begins to disintegrate in dream-like fugues, sexual awakening takes a turn for the sinister.

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AAD: My author crushes

I’m bacccckk. OK, maybe it seemed like I never went away, thanks to the scientific wonder of pre-scheduled blog posts. But I have just returned from five fun-filled days in the Crescent City for the Authors After Dark convention.  I am exhausted and I have no voice left, but I have some really great memories that I am taking away from the event.

On the way home (after I finished reading the epically awesome Stars & Stripes,) I tried to catalogue in my head how I could possibly blog about the experience in any meaningful way. I thought about doing a post about each day of my visit. Then I thought about what my post for Tuesday would be like and it was something like: I drank with Marcela at Pat O’Briens. I ate dinner with bloggers. I walked. I drank again. The end.  So instead of a blow by blow, I’m going to post about the things that stick out as the most memorable parts of the trip.  The first thing that comes to mind: the authors I met and fell in love with.

I left AAD with giant, embarrassing crushes on at least four authors.  Two are women. One is gay. The other is married.  But let’s not get caught up in the details.  These folks had Personality with a capital P. And I may or may not have tailored parts of my schedule to stalk gain valuable insights from them throughout the con.

Mark Henry. You had me at The Pussy Eater.  Seriously.

The best panel that I attended was called Guess the Author by the Sex Scene (or something like that.)  Mark and Nicole Peeler completely stole the show.  I can’t remember what Nicole read, but it involved a clit that burned a lot while the heroine gave the longest blow-job in history.

Meanwhile, Mark read The Pussy Eater with the enthusiasm of a 14 year-old girl at a One Direction concert.  I laughed so hard that I cried.  I am sad to say that I didn’t get to spend any more time with Nicole, but I “accidentally” ended up at Mark’s table for dinner Friday night.  And at his zombie panel. And the panel on dark humor.

And speaking of dark humor.. Dakota Cassidy was also on that panel (as well as many others I attended.)  It would have been a great segue to say that was where she stole my heart. But the truth is, I fell in love with her during the Bookie awards, when in her acceptance speech, she said, “Where is Jeaniene Frost? –Ooh, I beat you, girl.”

She has this great, fabulous, big hair and awesome eye make-up and she utterly dominated every single panel she sat on. She’s just got this presence that is impossible to quantify.  Her voice has this deep, dusky timbre and she is larger than life and completely hilarious.  Loved. Her.

Finally, Damon Suede.  Damon, who walked around in a kilt and flashed his ass at anyone who asked what was underneath.  I got to stand at the table with Mandi, Tori and Pamela while they talked to him at the Open Bar Friday night.  I think he had pants on by then, but he was totally charming anyway. I just kind of stood there with a goofy smile and listened to him talk. He also seriously rocked it out on the dance floor after dinner.

So that’s the list.   It’s just the tip of the iceberg on the AAD experience. I’ve got more stories to tell about the great authors and my amazing fellow bloggers in the days ahead.  In the meantime, I’m ready to start unloading some of the mountain of goodies that I took away from the event.

Enter below to win a copy of Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep and an ARC of Hollywood High by Ni-Ni Simone and Amir Abrams. A big thank you to the folks at Kensington for the books.

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