Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Queen of Corona" by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona
by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona by Esterhazy

Queen of Corona by Esterhazy is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Roza Esterhazy is a mixed-up kid. Eighteen years old and on the threshold of adulthood, she feels powerless in the face of a world that hasn’t adequately prepared her for adult life. She is riddled with anxiety about the world’s problems, the problems of her classmates at an inner-city high school in Corona, Queens. As an American of multicultural heritage (Polish-Jewish on her mother’s side, Venezuelan on her father’s) she struggles to find her place in society where the odds are stacked against people like her.
At the outset, she is on an airplane heading to Warsaw – the city of her ancestors, a city she’d never been to before. The city her mother had fled from in the 1980s because of an article she’d written that had offended the authorities. Roza’s voyage is a kind of reverse immigration – she’s escaping from America back to Poland because of a student protest that ended in tragedy. She alludes to the protest and its bloody end throughout the novel, with flashbacks tormenting her traumatized mind to the very end. When she arrives in Warsaw, she struggles to come to terms with what happened and what part she played in the tragedy. She grapples with the concept of guilt and blame – were the students to blame for what happened or was it the fault of overzealous police? She weighs how fear quells courage in an oppressive society. She confronts the grey reality of post-war Warsaw and realizes that there’s very little of it that she can identify with. She retraces history’s steps through the Polish capital and the former ghetto of WW2.
Her longing for home is visceral, reflected in the flashbacks of school and relationships that are woven through her daily existence. Flashbacks that reflect the absurdity of the inner-city high school experience, where kids are meant to learn an inimical thread of history that has little to do with their own reality, that places many of them in the position of the conquered and exploited.
Queen of Corona is a look into the inner life of the inner city. A foray into the mind and heart of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, torn from her destiny because she dared to stand up and speak up for those who don't have a voice. A glimpse inside the hopeless hallways of New York City's failing public schools. It is a coming-of-age novel in a tumultuous time. It is a lesson on how fear is the most dangerous aspect of our Trumped-up existence.

There comes a day when you go looking for your roots and you realize they’re all gone.
You grope about in the dark and find nothing. Nothing but bits and pieces of a legacy gone astray like a dog that was never loved in the first place. No matter where you come from, the day you become an American is the day you lost it all. No matter if you were born here or made it over by plane, train, bus or banana boat. Just like that, thousands of years of memory vaporize like the plane that hit the Pentagon. You forfeit miles of spindly roots planted into the earth by your ancestors from way back when. Slowly, painfully, you squander your family recipes and all them heirlooms, memories, traditions go slipping through your fingers. You figure you’re living the dream, but something’s off. Something’s missing.
Something you didn’t even know you needed. You lose track. You lose your ground. The connection with the earth that made you. That dust that hardened into your bones and softened into your skin. You think you can go on making the tamales, the pierogis, the same old samosas your grannies made for generations but they’re not the same at all. The flour here is different. The water is different. The proportions are all out of wack. And you know it’s just a dumpling and dumplings don’t always come out right, but for some reason you’re bawling your eyes out. Because you know it’s not just a fluke. It doesn’t come out right no matter how many times you try. Because it just ain’t in you no more.
A sourness that tastes like shame comes up in your throat. Shame that flips on itself, turning on the past, turning on your parents because they’re the ones who made you and brought you here. Your loving parents are now the bullseye for your shame. Their accents and their crazy foods. It was their brilliant idea to ship you all the way across the ocean before you had anything to say about it. So now you do all you can to keep them at home, hidden behind closed doors. You never invite anyone over. You do what you can to become like everyone else. You want to look like the girls in the videos. The selfie-stick chicks on the gram. Then you start dressing like the guys in the videos so the dudes round the way no longer feel obliged to tell you that your ass is too big or your ass is too flat. You convince yourself that you’ve been here all along.
That there is no motherland. No Poland, Ukraine, Honduras, Philippines, Bangladesh. The past fades like the last wisp of smoke after a dumpster fire. But the stench of it lingers, you know. There’s nothing you can do to make it disappear for good. It’s a blemish that won’t go away. An ugly little blackhead of guilt. Because you denied your ancestors, denied your heritage. When you denied them, you denied yourself. You denied your very existence.
This is the tragedy of assimilation. The old folks give up trying to talk sense into you. They throw their hands up and let you be what you always thought you wanted to be. An apple-pie-eating, base-ball-bat swinging shiksa like all those other girls in the hood. You try telling them that shit ain’t really you at all. So they ask you, who is you then? And you try to tell them but it’s like snakes crawling up your throat. You can’t spit out a syllable. So, you figure maybe they’re right. You start grasping at straws, the frayed threads of history, shreds of a native realm.
There comes a day when you finally realize you have no idea who you is or even who you are, and where you came from. So maybe you get on a plane and try to take a good hard look at things from a distance. Try to take in the bigger picture and all. Back to the future. Though the truth is I’m not really doing it for the right reasons. My story ain’t all high and mighty like that. There’s more dirt I’ll have to dig up at some point, for sure. I’ll get to it when the time is right. No point in rushing things. We have all the time in the world.
[Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“I highly recommend this novel to anyone that like biography like novels that have anger, disappointment, romance illusions and every other even that teens face as growing up” ~ Steph Destiny
“I loved Roza as much as I wanted to scream at her. […] kudos to Esterhazy for writing such a believable and antagonizing protagonist. […] The ending made me so angry, I actually screamed at my Ol' Man when I was done. I can't say much without spoiling it, but I wanted to cry. It's possible that what upset me the most was how realistic it was. It hits ya right in the feels because you know it's real.” ~ Ms. J
“… it brings up a lot of critical issues that need to be discussed, that people need to stop sweeping under the rug, issues that privileged need to stop blaming the others for. It's not an easy read, but maybe that's what makes it so important. It doesn't glorify the ugly, it leaves it all there for you to see.” ~ Maxine

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
At the beginning of the book, Roza is on a plane to Warsaw to escape the fallout from an incident at her high school graduation ceremony, which spirals out of control. We are left to piece her story together through her stream of consciousness ramblings, often lacking in punctuation. Her current situation is interspersed with reminiscences of her life in Corona, Queens, where she makes some wrong choices and ends up in an impossible situation. In Poland, Roza struggles to make sense of life and loses herself along the way. However, after receiving news from home she determines to turn her life around.
The author channels her teenage narrator perfectly, giving her an authentic voice and personality. However, some of the other characters come across as more intellectual than you would expect from their circumstances. Through Roza, the author provides keen observations on several topics, including friendship, family, religion, society, race, prejudice, discrimination, politics, history, education, poverty, single parenthood, abortion, love, war, and slut shaming. The narrative is given even more authenticity by including references to real-life victims of the system.
Be warned, this is not an easy read and includes some confronting issues.
Warnings: coarse language, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, sexual references, sex scenes.

About the Author
Esterhazy is a journalist, writer, and translator. A native New Yorker, she holds degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University and American Studies from the University of Warsaw. Queen of Corona is her debut novel.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Queen of Corona by Esterhazy (US/Canada only).


Thursday, March 8, 2018

"UnCommon Evil" by P. K. Tyler

UnCommon Evil:
A Collection of Nightmares, Demonic Creatures, and UnImaginable Horrors
(UnCommon Anthologies Book 6)
edited by P. K. Tyler

UnCommon Evil:  A Collection of Nightmares, Demonic Creatures, and UnImaginable Horrors (UnCommon Anthologies Book 6) edited by P. K. Tyler

UnCommon Evil, the sixth book in the UnCommon Anthologies, has just been released. Keep reading for an excerpt and my review of some of the stories in this collection. Also available: UnCommon Bodies (read my blog post), UnCommon Origins (read my blog post), UnCommon Minds (read my blog post), UnCommonly Good, and UnCommonLands (read my blog post).

More books and stories by P. K. Tyler: White Chalk (read my blog post), Dead Girl (read my blog post), Heaven's Vault (read my blog post), Alt. History 101 (read my blog post), Mosaics Volume 2 (read my blog post), CLONES: The Anthology (read my blog post), Book of Lilith (read my blog post), Avendui 5ive (read my blog post), Twin Helix (read blog post), The Jakkattu Vector (read my blog post), Dominion Rising (read my blog post), and OCEANS: The Anthology (read my blog post).

UnCommon Evil brings you 20 of the most horrifying stories our deviant authors' minds can conceive. From the monster under your bed, to the very real reason for that oily sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, our UnCommon Authors bring you a whole new way of looking at the true nature of evil.

“The Nature of Evil” by P. K. Tyler: A foreword from the uncommon mind behind Fighting Monkey Press.

“Sip the Dregs” by Rhoads Brazos: Maribelle returns to her deceased grandmother Dulcine’s home near the bayou. Dulcine went missing and everyone assumes that she drowned in the waters. The story moves from a character study, to the paranormal, and then to much worse.

“Knobby Bones” by Jeremy Megargee: A man finds the lowest kind of human darkness hidden in the South Sudan.

“Dark Cloud over Ladysmith” by Robert Allen Lupton: During the second Boer War, thousands of civilians and British soldiers fought to survive during the siege of Ladysmith. A small group of brave women are forced to defend the beleaguered city from an ancient evil.

“A Handsome Man” by Joriah Wood: A chance meeting with an uncommonly handsome man at a party gives Brandy hope of escape from the criminals she's fallen in with, but the night has more in store for any of them than they realize.

“June’s Perfection” by Anne Skinner: Laura came to Las Cuevas for a fresh start, but her new job brought her so much more than she bargained for.

Mosaic” by Annetta Ribken: A trip to a local psychiatric museum to inspire a blocked artist releases more than inspiration.

“Let the Bodies” by J. Edward Neill: In the old-world city of Ellerae, one person goes missing every day. Poor little Mia doesn't stand a chance. Or does she?

“An Old Family Recipe” by Caroline A. Gill: With their crops failing and two sons killed by accident, Archie and Charlotte Stilton have to decide what they are willing to do to keep their family together.

“Windikouk” by Tausha Johnson: Ten-year-old Megan Jameson lives with her mother and younger sister in an isolated house in the mountains. Winters are never easy in the wilderness and when a blizzard threatens, Megan expects they’ll be snowed in—again. During a night of snow and cold, someone or something tries to break inside the house. Could it be her unstable father? A wild animal? Whatever it is has the scent of something uncommonly evil.

“Master of My Fate” by Bill Hargenrader: Hans is a normal boy growing up in the suburbs of Munich when he is diagnosed with a chronic disease, and soon after loses his mother in a horrible motor vehicle accident. His father, grief stricken and delirious with rage, blames Hans and pushes him to his limits and beyond.

“The Midnight Visitor” by Rose Strickman: Jenna and Gompers live a shadowy existence, awake only at night and dealing in mystery and magic. But something disturbs their equanimity, a disembodied monster that visits the house by night, stealing food and--eventually--feeding upon the living. Jenna must make the decision to use her most powerful spell to defeat it. The only problem is, this spell requires a human life...

“A Day with Uncle Addie” by Joshua Ingle: Peter’s parents take him on an exciting weekend trip to his Uncle Addie’s estate in the mountains. Addie is one of Peter’s favorite people in the whole world... but something isn’t quite right about him.

“Under the Bed” by Harlow C. Fallon: Monsters are real. They live wherever your mind’s eye sees them moving and breathing--in the darkness behind your closet door. In your basement. Under your bed. You don’t believe in monsters? You should. It might save you from becoming their next meal, like the boy in this story.

“The Well” by John Haas: Louis and his sister, Kate are on the run from local bullies when they come across an abandoned well in the woods. The well, as it turns out, is not unoccupied, and whatever is down there wants something.

“Eye of the Beholder” by R.A. Goli: An obese woman, desperate to lose weight, agrees to an unholy deal to make her dreams a reality. An uncommon visitor arrives to give her exactly what she wished for.

“What a Tiny World” by Jeremy Rodden: When Bill found himself relegated to duty in Section Six, the sub-section of the sheriff's office responsible for policing Dingo World, he never expected to find himself getting shot at in the underground labyrinths under the theme park. What he discovers beyond that is even worse.

“Mad Skinner” by Jonathan Cromak: In an older section of a certain English town, underneath black and white timber-framed buildings and cobbled streets, lies a catacomb of interconnecting cellars and tunnels. Once, they bustled with activity—servants dashing around like ants retrieving food or wine for their masters above; or after hour's meetings, dealings of a darker nature in the shadows and corners, out of sight. Nowadays, what remains are merely dark, fusty passages, the only disturbance being the muffled drone of traffic from somewhere above. These antiquated spaces of little value now lie forgotten and ignored. But not by everyone.

“The Donner Kid” by W. Jesse Gulbrandsen: In order to escape his troubled past, former gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok seeks refuge in sleepy town of Perdition. Unfortunately, trouble has a tendency of seeking him out.

“Window Dressing” by Stephen Lomer: A village butcher is thrilled to have an unexpected windfall when his cousin finds a sow on his property. It is a sow. Right?

“The Silent Treatment” by Tom O’Brien: A confused wife and mother isn’t quite sure what’s happening to her. She’s losing words and confidence. She might be going crazy.

Click below to read an excerpt from this collection, including two complete stories.

Praise for the Book
“I am extremely pleased with this collection of dark stories!! The authors do a fantastic job of drawing you in and keep you wanting more when the story is over.” ~ Devin Mojecki
“This book is full of amazing and wondrously evil stories that have you torn between wanting to read them and hide under your blanket.” ~ Fleur W
“If you are looking for scary and creepy horror, then get this anthology. I don’t read much horror, but I am a horror movie aficionado, and some of these stories even scare me! Therefore, this book is not meant for kids. There is a good variety in the 20 stories by various authors. Some are paranormal and some not.” ~ Diana in SC
“The tales in this book will most absolutely keep you awake at night. […] If you are a fan of horror, and all things that go bump in the night ... you MUST get this book!!” ~ Dowie
“Some good morbid tales in here. Certainly worth the price.” ~ William D. Wallace

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
An introduction by editor P. K. Tyler on the nature of evil is followed by 20 stories with the common theme of unspeakable horror. I’m about half-way through this collection and, as a fan of the horror genre, I’m loving it!
In “Sip the Dregs” by Rhoads Brazos, Maribelle clears out her grandmother’s home after her disappearance. No one knows what happened to her, but their suspicions are nowhere near as frightening as the truth. I’m not sure I understood this one, but it certainly had a lot of atmosphere.
In “Knobby Bones” by Jeremy Megargee, an aid worker in South Sudan attempts to uncover the truth behind the legend of Knobby Bones. What he finds is worse than anything he could have imagined. Truly disturbing.
In “Dark Cloud over Ladysmith” by Robert Allen Lupton, Martha and her friends struggle to defeat evil during a siege in the second Boer War. An interesting story, but the sentences are short and choppy.
In “A Handsome Man” by Joriah Wood, Brandy meets a handsome stranger at a party, and things take a very strange turn. Delightfully creepy.
In “June’s Perfection” by Anne Skinner, Laura escapes one unhealthy relationship only to enter another.
In “Mosaic” by Annetta Ribken, a  visit to a psychiatric museum unleashes an artist’s muse with disturbing results. Short and well-crafted.
In “Let the Bodies” by J. Edward Neill, a person goes missing from her town every day. But what does Mia’s grandfather have to do with it?
In “An Old Family Recipe” by Caroline A. Gill, Charlotte seeks justice for her family when two of her sons are killed in an accident. A beautifully written, heartbreaking story.
In “Windikouk” by Tausha Johnson, Megan loves telling her little sister scary stories. But, in reality, the truth is stranger than any of her fictions. Suspenseful.
I look forward to reading the rest of the stories in this collection. It seems to include something that will appeal to every horror buff’s tastes.

About the Editor
P. K. Tyler
P. K. Tyler is the author of Speculative Fiction and other Genre Bending novels. She's also published works as Pavarti K. Tyler and had projects appear on the USA Today Bestseller's List.
Pav attended Smith College and graduated with a degree in Theatre. She lived in New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off-Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry for several international law firms.
Now located in Baltimore, Maryland, she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not penning science fiction books and other speculative fiction novels, she twists her mind by writing horror and erotica.