Monday, May 18, 2020

The green house by Dan Lawton

No.of pages : 194
Publisher : Black rose writing
Expected publishing date : July 30, 2020
Genre : Suspense thriller
Book links : Goodreads Amazon
Author links : Goodreads Twitter Facebook Website

My review

This may be an easy or difficult question, the answer tends to differ from person to person.Has any of us started living yet? When do we say we have lived? Whatever the answer , we must keep in mind, not lie to ourselves. I quote a line from the book which is quite insightful, 'People are flawed and can be duped .But God cannot be duped'.

The green house written by Dan Lawton was meloncholic in nature,it was complex to even describe the effect it had on me. I had an overwhelming feeling throughout this suspenseful read. My emotions couldn't be explained and the reading journey was not easy. My experience cannot be jotted down to mere words as it can only be felt.You need to feel what I underwent. I had a larger sense of watching a silent movie full of pain ,hurt , distress, guilt, regret all over it until the happy climax after the tenseful situations .

Girard,a 67 year old man is the main protagonist. He was lazy and carefree that a horrific accident happened 37 years ago,the person responsible for the same undoubtedly was him. Lucky for him, he had a soulmate who never was judgemental or say she forgave him for his irrevocable mistake. In the present day, his wife disappears. Now begins the story of a couple who we learn are made for each other and the bond is strengthened by God blessing these two with their undeniable presence and sufficient grace.

I loved the author's poryrayal of Girard's wife, Miriam.A spiritually rich, simple , gentle soul who had a knack of understanding him and shared his baggage despite his shortcomings. Her husband is imperfect. In fact, he had done her unforgivable injustices but she generously accepted him without holding grudges with her big heart.Only good people can do that. Life after the first accident was unhappy and sorrowful. From what I understood they lived like a corpse but their love didn't fade away rather grew stronger. They were one soul in two bodies.

The memories of the past haunted them in unexpected ways. Psychologically both were affected and were under professional help. They withdrew from the external world and turned unemotional.His wife cut her ties from her friends  and accepted God to be her best friend.Girard and Miriam resorted to lean on each other. They became private people who rarely communicated with people unless there was an emergent need to socialize.

The thoughts and feelings of Girard floods constantly in the novel.The optimistic ones will find the author's  pessimistic approach for the most part of the book distasteful. Life isn't fun and entertainment after all.There are many people spread all over the world who experience one or other hellish affliction in their lives,no-one can question,why it chose them .Victim or self-pitying mentality is soothing than sailing through the struggles and coming out victorious.These days people are weak mentally,emotionally and physically. It's kinda strange but people change into someone they aren't after they encounter certain accidents paramount disabling  them to handle it and their hearts bear the brunt of burden.A minor setback when we are pessimistic will seem monumental.

A bad life experience pushes people to the ground while a good life experience cheering them is short lived.Sometimes, people recall only their worst memories of their lives. I would say, fulfilled life is an illusion.Nobody I know has led such lives. The ones who profess it are most probably no truth sayers. People go through traumatic experience  at least once in their life time and it leaves them broke, the turmoil remain in their conscious or subconscious mind until death kisses these poor spirits.

Even though I didn't weep in emotionally and psychologically challenging scenes,I could feel the intensity of the situation.When Girard hires a funeral service, the proprietor's unsympathetic and slightly disrespectful nature towards  his loss of love slaps him right in the face just it did previously with a coroner.The appalling truth, people care only about their well being and their dear ones is painstaking to swallow.Doctor Brown was an absolute exemption.

Girard has mental illness and he is under antidepressants.Anxiety, anger outbursts,vertigo, paranoia and panic attacks gives him the headache and scattered brain. He loses focus on matters that requires his undistracted attention. His unsatisfactory life kindles sympathy from readers especially me.For a moment,I thought he was a cold-hearted man due to past errors.

I agreed Girard was a monster if you know what I mean.I empathized  Stacey more than Girard as the latter deserved the punishment for the danger he put people in and he must accept the responsibility for his daughter who is a spitting image of him character vise. He is distant with her and socially challenged. The green house is his escape strategy where his negativities dissipatates from the harsh realities of his life. Miriam is a good soul who doesn't need a man like him.She could have married a man without any bad habits,is spiritual and god-fearing like herself.She is out of his league.

The green house is definitely one of the exceptionally great stories I have read.It is slow paced but worth reading.Not even a teensy weensy doubt, the author is very  brilliant in constructing stories.A good story weaver and his narrative skill is not subpar. The characters were well-sketched out especially Girard,Miriam and his once estranged daughter, Stacey.

I highly recommend 'The green house'to readers who yearn to learn about an old man's perceptives on love, career, spirituality, philosophy based on his life lessons. Don't worry about the pacing of the novel.This is a story which is meaningful and educating about the downright truths of life.I end my review with two quotes from this one of a kind love story, 'Love is earned,not given' and  'False hope can bring emotional destruction'. A must read book.

Rating 4.5/5

Disclaimer An eARC was received from author in exchange for an honest review.

Zodiac signs by Smilena Kirilova

Kindle edition: 110 pages

Published on : December 27, 2019
Book links : Goodreads Amazon
Author links : Goodreads Website

My review

Astrology is not yet proved as science. Still, if utilized well can create remarkable wonders in the world.Nobody knows how it originated clearly and principally who was responsible for a breakthrough in this stimulating field. Howbeit,  modern astrology has paved way for the path to uncover things that were earlier hidden from the public eye. The doors previously locked are now wide open. What we didn't know instinctively about ourselves is known through it today. We have become an open book and the best of all, the world is going in the right direction towards a brighter, exhilarating future.

Astrologers are ahead of the game in this 21st century and most of us  depend on these highly sought people for our personal and professional success.What seemed rational once is often reinterpreted to make sound judgement and to become decisive in our life choices as time goes on. When we ignore astrology and dismiss it as void, there is a good chance we will make awkward , careless mistakes along with giant embarrassing ones. For a sophisticated living, a person must understand the importance of astrology.

Our respective zodiac personalities brings both pleasure and pain.Advantages and disadvantages involuntarily exist in it. We simply can't force us and make a futile attempt to become someone who we  are not supposed to be when we don't like our zodiac sign as it is set in stone during our birth. None can change their destiny even with wishful thinking.Also, this is beyond  astrologers power.What is going to happen will happen. Even so certain ill fate can be manipulated to an extent by foreseeing it through our horoscope.

To make a success out of life, what works and what doesn't should be figured out first.With the wisdom that we have right now we can live a comfortable, compatible and harmonious life with people who makes us feel cherished and/or a career which gives maximum source of joy. All humans are special adorned with unique personalities.

'Zodiac signs' by smilena kirilova is
 a genuine gift for those who are seeking valuable insights on their personality,  that of their loved ones and those they want to know about or come in  contact with or having to consider social etiquettes. In-depth analysis of all the Zodiac constellations are laid out for one to become knowledgeable, thorough and well-equipped to understand themselves and the nature and motivations of others they encounter on a daily basis.

Which zodiac sign is good for a person, like for instance which sign calms them down, which sign helps them to become affluent, which sign is good leading to a joyful family life, which sign makes a person social butterfly are listed in tabular format. The secret wish and what they hate having been born in a specific sign is notorious. Erroneous zones are written along with other existing facts.

Each of the signs have distinct features.What I particularly liked reading about in the book are the positive and negative traits of Zodiac signs.How they act in love, career and relationship is also detailed. Air,fire and earth signs compatibility is given so that the signs are cautious and don't enter into wrong partnerships,if they do,they will have to pay a hefty price later is understood by me.

Some zodiac signs place value on emotional compatibility rather than intellectual need. In such cases, it is good to ignore signs where the latter plays the key role .Vedic sign is titbit  unfamiliar to me. I am thankful to her for the enlightenment her book brought to my world .

Although, I don't doubt the crucial role of zodiac signs (Sun,moon, rising, vedic, western, planets) in one's life. I am inquisitive about the significance of gem stones.Can anything bad really be warded off with the help of it? Seems like a toy one must possess to establish a good life of happiness,love and peace of mind.

The story about passion, affection and love is amazing so does the story about who will value us for what we really are without discrimination, selfishness, underestimation, humiliation and such abominable qualities. The King's parable also made it to my heart's space. Human foibles are part of our zodiac personalities. Born in a particular sign, a person needs to be self aware and tread waters before they jump into relationships to save themselves from hurts , trauma and basically,all energy draining union.

'Zodisc signs' is a book I will recommend one should have in their library and a part of me wishes the author could have explored moon sign ,rising sign, planets in each sign, magic spells ,tarot cards,etc. Nevertheless the book's quality is unmatchable. Sun signs, Vedic signs and gem stones are three major chapters,the book discusses elaborately.The stories in the final chapters and a sincere advice to each zodiac sign is icing on the cake. Well done, author.

Rating 4/5

Disclaimer I received the book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Author Interview : Melissa Oatman

Author Melissa Oatman is a great person to get to know and speak to. She is free-spirited, friendly and approachable. Her memoir is a solution to all the broken women in every nook and corner of this world. Being optimistic in the torrent of adversity is difficult no matter how strong we are. Raising to the challenges may seem uneasy but it is the best step forward to become a complete, mature individual. Her memoir is honest, her pains and sufferings she takes it with a grain of salt. She has written the book humorously with subtlety to make the readers understand her message and also nudged when it is needed. She is one strong woman I am privileged to have gotten the opportunity to learn about. Today I have her in my blog and I am glad she answered the questions patiently. You can read my review of her book here.


Hi. author Melissa Oatman. Readers may already know about you from your bio. Can you instead tell us, where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? We are curious.

I grew up in Collinsville, Illinois.  My mom was a single working mom.  I have an older brother and a twin sister.  My childhood was good, but we often struggled a little financially.

It's true every child is not blessed with good parents but all separated ones from their life partners are not monsters thinking the worst for their children. I hope you can share the good parts about your parents. What inspiration you got from them?

My mom was always there for us.  We would visit my dad every other weekend, and when we were with him, he always tried to do fun things with us.  He was a very good cook and made sure we always sat down to dinner together.  They both tried to be the best parents they could. We knew we were loved.  

Have you ever been bullied in your school/college or both? If so, please share one or two incident. 

I was never bullied, but my twin sister was.  She was born with hearing loss, so she had to wear hearing aids.  Kids were very cruel to her, and she cried a lot.  I remember sitting with her often and comforting her.  

Can you list your interests or hobbies other than writing?

I love to travel.  I take students to Europe every two years.  I love amusement parks.  Disneyworld and Disneyland are my favorite.  I like watching tv shows from the 80’s.  I love reading self improvement books.  

What drove you to write a non-fiction?

I felt that I had a story that I needed to share.  I knew that other women were experiencing the same or similar experiences as me.  I wanted to help them get through it and know that it is possible to live a happy life after divorce. 

Beautifully broken is a book that helps single moms to heal their wounds and be their best. What marriage advice would you give to your children or youths for a lasting relationship? I ask this only because you have tasted a very bad relationship and know what is a good relationship as a matter of fact according to you.

I would say that it’s important that you are your own individuals.  Healthy relationships are ones where the couple has common interests but can also have lives outside of their couple hood.  In other words, they have friends they can do things with.  Also, communication is so important.  Another key component is having healthy boundaries.  You need to be able to stand up for yourself and express your needs.  It should be a 50/50 give and take.  

Are you a strict, indulgent parent or give your children the freedom to make big decisions such as higher studies, marriage, career, etc ? 

I give my children some liberties in deciding what they want to become.  They have to live with that decision, so it should be one that they enjoy.  

Do you think these days majority of youngsters marry for lust rather than for a person's character?

I believe this happens a lot.  I think if people really got to know a person emotionally instead of physically, they might see that the only chemistry is lust.  

Your take on domestic violence .

It makes me so sad.  It still happens all too often.  I don’t feel that we have enough support for women who are abused.  It leaves more than just a physical scar.  It leaves emotional scars that need to be healed with professional counseling.  We need to have better structures in place to help women fleeing from abuse.  I also think we need more awareness.  Emotional abuse happens a lot more than just physical abuse, and the signs can be hard to see.  

Are you writing any book or planning to write one at the moment? 

I’m not currently working on a book.  I’m currently creating a program of socio emotional learning for kids.  

What advice would you give to people who wish to publish a memoir? 

I would say do it.  Everyone has a story.  I never knew how many people my story could help until I sat down and wrote it.  I have so many people who thank me for sharing what I went through because they are going through the same thing.  When others see our struggles, they realize that they are not alone.  I believe it helps so many.  I always say that if I helped just one person, it was worth it.  

It's saddening bullying in school is still a reality these days where innocents like the author's twin sister are succumbed to torments because of their disability, color, etc. I am also a victim of bullying in schools and colleges, hence can empathise.Where are truly sensible and educated ones in this Universe? Many parents take no efforts to give the society, a good and moral citizen. I, sincerely thank author Melissa Oatman for replying to my questions politely and sharing her thoughts. May the real God shower abundant blessings upon her and her loved ones. As a mixed, opinionated believer in God , I hope He or She doesn't forsake good people. May God bless you too readers.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Demon's blood by Shari Sakurai

No. of pages : 302
Publisher : Farnhurst Publishing
Published on : January 232014
Genre : Paranormal, LGBTQ
Audience : Age 18+
Book links : Goodreads  Amazon
Author links : Goodreads Twitter Website

My review 

I am glad to have come across this surprisingly bone-chilling novel about vampires. When a golden opportunity to express my opinion fell on my lap, would I hesitate by declining the offer?. No, I won't. What separates this novel apart from other vampire stories I have had the pleasure of devouring is that this is an emotional love story between queers. Isn't it a news for me? It piqued my curiosity to the peak.

Demon's blood by Shari Sakurai is the first book in a series.Most of the story happens in Japan and United Kingdom. The prologue gives a peek into what we can expect. Written in third person, it follows the story of two vampires, Kokawa Taku alias Hikaru Shimada, a Japanese and Thane Bremen alias Tobias Morgan, an English. The former is the older one who has crossed over 200 years but he looks immensely like a person who is actually in his early twenties which indicates he transformed into a vampire at a young age.

Thane looks like a teenager. He is a trouble maker , with his thoughtless and careless nature he sets trap not only for himself but for his lover too at times. Taku is the owner of Zephyr , a business solely run by him, has influential contacts that's the reason behind them escape getting into a puddle of mess every time an accident occurs. The older one is cautious, impulsive, self- assured and invincible man who doesn't leave traces of his victims. Living by his own set of rules, he is intractable and temperamental sort. He is the alpha male, the practical in the relationship while his partner,  more on the submissive side, a nervous, worrywart.

Taku 's weakness is Thane. He is overprotective and would do almost anything for him at the expense of his own life. Despite the danger their lives are in, Taku rejects the idea of keeping a lower profile. He is a materialistic proprietor who frowns at the thought of less than a luxurious life. He believes money can buy anything and anyone. Thane, favors a simple life yet the money his partner earns keeps him quiet on many occasions as he is also the beneficiary and the money comes in handy untangling themselves from embarrassing situations.

Nightmares haunt Thane leaving him miserably depressed. Vampire hunters in Japan half succeeded in killing them both. This particular dreadful experience plagues his mind with the inability to forget. Although he is a strong vampire taller than Taku , he is younger , he hasn't let go of his sensitive, humane character. He suffers from morality issues. He is inclined to befriend Akito , a vampire from different bloodline which was surprising to him for the reason, he was told to be sceptical of them by Taku. The latter tells him , he can help his hunger for blood gnaw away. Thane keeps his new friendship a secret from his life partner as he might oppose.

Detective sergeant  Lansdowne investigates the case of a suspiously murdered homeless man and his good instincts point to the two vampires. He is stubbornly unwilling to let them go despite his boss pressuring him hard to close the case. More murder cases confirms a serial killer. Harsh truths about the history of vampires is revealed to Taku and Thane. Now their future is at stake. Will they find a solution to the hell of a life they must subdue?

The novel expounded the past,  the present and the future of the vampires and their sires.The past has a firm grip over their present and their future is threatened by a malevolent creature. Equivalently, the yesterday (past) and today (future) of the main characters are told so the readers know what caused the every bad situation or curse in the book, the main characters had to face head on, there's no other option.

Reading the book was like watching the life of vampires amongst the superior mortals ,us, humans. What they do for a living, how they behave in a social scene, who they fear for life, which place they favor safe , when they prey on a human and so on were narrated by the author diligently. Gays with dark secrets is amusing to read. They lead an adventurous life and their story is dangerously fascinating. It does serve enough to put a spell on readers like me and keep my eyes glued to the book to find the next intriguing scene. I did find one thing intolerable. Feeding on powerless , helpless humans is a joke to the vampires. They are monsters justifying their actions as ethically right. Would love some detailed explanations on this. In one way, today humans have inherited this aversive quality, they turn against each other to prove who has the upper hand and who hasn't. People have turned blind. Kindness, integrity , etc have become virtues of our ancestors.

Initially, I came to a conclusion of my own 'Demon's blood' is a cat and mouse story as  Vampire hunters alone pose enormous threat to the vampires. I  was wrong. There's much more. As the story kept progressing, it became very interesting. The story is gripping, however I prefer to read books that cut to the chase. The author has dragged out many chapters. A tighter editing  would have done the trick to keep me glued to the book completely. In the middle of the first few chapters I had a feeling I was in the wrong side of the road.  The novel sounded tedious but when I kept reading incessantly, it was unputdownable. Ends in a cliffhanger. A one time enjoyable read. Paranormal/mythological story lovers will find this book enchanting. I recommend it to adult readers alone.

Rating 3.5/5

Disclaimer The book was received in exchange for my honest review 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

The benefits of breathing by Christopher Meeks (Review and giveaway)

No.of pages : 386
Publisher : White Whisker books
Expected release date : May 23, 2020
Book links : Goodreads Amazon
Author links : Goodreads Twitter Website Facebook

About the author 

Award winning author, Christopher Meeks has five novels and two collections of short fiction published. The Benefits of Breathing’ is his third collection of short stories.

He has had stories published in several literary journals, and they have been included in the collections "Months and Seasons" and "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea." Mr. Meeks has had three full-length plays mounted in Los Angeles, and one, "Who Lives?" had been nominated for five Ovation Awards, Los Angeles’ top theatre prize.

Mr. Meeks teaches English and fiction writing at Santa Monica College, and Children’s Literature at the Art Center College of Design. He lives in Pasadena, CA.

My review

The benefits of breathing written by author Christopher Meeks has 11 extraordinary short stories that are unique with overwhelmingly impressive plots. These are skilfully woven tales, portraying intricate emotions of human nature at its best and at its worst. 

Each short stories centres around relationship issues. People mess up in life  barely could they manage to cut themselves some slack. All is not fair in this challenging saga where there is no blueprint for success and everlasting happiness, joy and peace of mind. Black and white aptly suits human life.

We all are aware that none of the life stories we have heard, read or seen is flawless. Figuratively, our story is nowhere close to ideal. Stresses exist in life, in all relationships. Life , after all is a tough nut to crack. Unforeseen scenarios distracts us from savouring the blessings prevailing. The benefits of breathing may evoke nostalgia in some of you. 

Unequivocably intense, I am finding it laborious to express my thoughts clearly and concisely. Majority of his short stories are of people whose life is complex and love unrequited. 

A short summary of the stories 

Joni Parades- This is a story of a 38 year old introverted woman who petrifies at the thought of commitment with a wrong guy. She meets a practical, down-to-earth extroverted man at her young daughter's wedding. Is he the one for her? Be prepared for an unpredicted disappointment.

Nestor by the number-In this story, Nestor , a recently separated man from his wife, finally embraces the truth by his counsellor that he needs to start seeing women who could light up his world. He is cautious of fake women. Did he find his soul mate? May be.

You wreck me, baby- Javier O'Hara is going through a difficult phase in his life. His partner moved out and bad luck, his health deteriorates. He has things to fuss about. Would his life ever become normal?

Moxie- Martin is in unfamiliar territory. Samantha, his sweetheart calls it quits after their years of togetherness. How could seeing a marriage counsellor help when the love of his life doesn't have the intention to reunite? His world shatters hearing the mystifying truth, his wife who he cared all these years hid in her heart to protect herself and her daughter. Is selfishness part of the package to love? What happened to the old fashioned love with no strings attached?

A dog story- Dan and Chelsea are soon going to be exes. They have a teenage daughter, 'Hope' and a dog, 'Scrappy'. How will their legal separation affect these two who are part of their universe? Dan's shocking revelation about his new found lover has the effect of turning Chelsea's life upside down. Chelsea's rough on the exterior and her good heart can handle any storm that may come her way. 

I'd rather die than go to North Dakota- Ayako is a Japanese lady with a six year old daughter. She is a waitress by profession living with her American partner at the moment. Due to the high cost of living, he wants to move to North Dakota with her and his step daughter, Kelly. Ayako' s I'd rather die than go to North Dakota refuses to budge to his wishes. Finally, what strikes her?

The benefits of breathing- Ray is a 90 year old man living happy and healthy. His children , grand children and great grandchildren spice up his mundane life. What does a man counting his days actually feel?

Incident on South Cecilia- This story had me thinking deeply. Trevor and Carrie had hit the five year mark in their marriage. They are seeing a counsellor to make their relationship survive. On a fateful day, he sees a young lady terribly beaten up by a cruel man. Trevor, being a true gentleman fuming with rage gives the assaulter, a taste of his own blood. It though backfires.Trevor learns a tough lesson. What is it?

A Warm Front Appears to be Moving from California and Deep into Minnesota- Summer hails from a strong musical family. Sexually abused as a child by her mom's so called friends, she is desperate to settle down with her boyfriend, Reed and hopes of enjoying a secure relationship. Does he really want her or is it just a fling?Alas! Her eyes open to the reality after a sweet encounter with a stranger, her father's age.

Jerry with a twist- Jerry has a stable job that pays him enough. Since his acting skills are good, he aspires to become a successful actor. Cheryl, his understanding girlfriend who is pregnant with his child, motivates him and supports his quest for fame. Would his dream become reality? What is life anyway?

7 truths about love- Melissa and her estranged husband Roy , doesn't want much from each other. He cheated on her with her boss. Ever since that her 2 year old daughter is the only drug which pushes her forward in life. Will Melissa take revenge on her husband for betraying her trust and ridiculing her devotion? Will cupid's arrow hit her heart again? Will she realize all men are not same and change her perspective? 7 truths about love is a poignant story that felt real but I don't agree with author's version of what is love. Everyone is entitled to their own truths about love. 

I found the 11 stories realistic. Honestly, what's hidden in it is a hidden gem. Constantly changing planet earth has surprises in store for us every nook and corner we turn. Without it, our life would be dull and monotonous. Rising to the challenges of every day life sharpens us and makes our life worthwhile. No man or woman can be called wholesome if they shy away from hurdles and refuse to take part. Swimming in the ocean of dare is wise but one mustn't sink due to sloppiness or cowardry.

Overall, I admire the author's writing style. The flow of the words are naturally good and the narrative is ultra clean.  Though perfectionism may not be the right word to describe the author's work, what is best about the book is the complete realism with the lack of exaggeration in it. His gift of the gab is majestic. I tell this only after reading his collection of short stories which he has written like a pro consisting of no major glitch. I recommend his book to lovers of cotemporary fiction. On a sidenote, whoever designed the book cover, I give a thumps up because undeniably I found it vouching for a meaningful read. 

Rating 4.5/5

Excerpt from 7 TRUTHS ABOUT LOVE

Physicists know about potential energy. A rock balancing on the edge of a roof has much potential energy. So does a person rejected in love.

Melissa heard a rustling in the bushes just after Roy, her estranged husband, left the doorstep of her rented West Covina, California, house on Christmas morning. He had stopped by to give a gift, a stuffed bear, to their little girl. 

Melissa waited until she heard his car drive off before going to investigate. 

“Where Mama going?” said two-year-old Steph. “Where Daddy?”

“Daddy’s gone. I’m just getting the mail, honey. Stay here.”

Melissa spotted the Christmas wrapping in the bushes first, then the forty-ounce bag of Starbucks coffee she’d given him as a nice gesture. So much for that. The more she thought of it, though, it pissed her off. He was the one to have an affair with her boss, the young Mrs. Tananger. Despite his denials—oh, there was much evidence, such as his trip to Catalina Island and the empty condom wrapper in his pocket—Melissa moved herself, her daughter, and most of the furniture out one day. They moved into the house she had rented while he was at work. He had yelled into his cellphone at her when he came home, demanding they come back, which only confirmed she’d made the right decision.

Roy taught English at Mt. San Antonio College in the nearby town of Walnut. Melissa worked in the college’s IT department, which is how she’d met Roy, fixing his desktop computer. At their wedding, Roy met her boss, Brooke Tananger, and Brooke’s husband.
A year after Roy and Melissa married, Melissa gave birth to Stephanie. While Melissa was nursing, he was off with his new friend, Brooke Tananger, hiking on one of their many excursions. “It’s just hiking,” he would say. “You don’t like to do it.” 
That’s when the affair began, Melissa had guessed. She complained to Human Resources that her boss was bonking her husband. The director did nothing. However, everyone in IT knew about Brooke and Roy. The days rolled by. When H.R. did nothing about Brooke and Roy, Melissa quit her job and moved. She found a better job keeping the PCs running at Cal State L.A. Brooke, that bitch, divorced and moved in with Roy. Roy divorced Melissa. Melissa’s gift to Roy, coffee, was her trying to accept everything.

Now she was really mad. Her heart beat rapidly and her hands shook. How could she get him back for ruining her life? She’d thought of how he had complained about her cats, that she had been a crazy cat lady, and he had insisted her cats become outdoor ones. One by one, they were eaten by coyotes. When he was angry with her, he would clean his rifle in the easy chair facing her in front of the bed. She wished he could feel just as helpless and intimidated as she had. 

Then it struck her. She’d heard of something on the radio called swatting—very illegal. It was calling the police falsely to say someone had a gun and was pointing it at someone. The SWAT team then might bash in the door and show up, guns drawn. Just the thought of Roy being startled and holding up his arms to a team of police pointing guns at him made her smile. 

Love is like a great Hollandaise sauce. Cooking it right is in the details.

Melissa had to be careful and not get caught, especially since Roy would claim she must have done the swatting. She reconsidered. She could lose custody of Stephanie doing something like this. 

Her brain offered, “How about I use a payphone?” That could work. But where were payphones anymore? The Shell station on Palmetto Avenue had one, she remembered, not far from his house that he now shared with the newly divorced Brooke Tananger. Melissa had to do this. She knew Roy thought of her as weak. She would be weak no more.

At her next gas-up, she used the Shell station, and she casually looked around. She spotted a camera focused on the pumps. The payphone would be in the deep background—a risky thing. Better not do it.

Two days later, a Saturday, Melissa took Stephanie to a Goodwill store to buy her bigger clothes. Steph was growing so fast, and Roy wasn’t giving her any money for her care. In fact, in the coming week, they had to go to court to battle over that issue, and he wanted joint custody. At Goodwill, she spotted a dark red hoodie with USC emblazoned on the chest. A hoodie…
That night, with Stephanie in her child seat in the center of the back seat, Melissa parked her car in the back of the Shell station and said, “Mama will be right back.” She walked toward the front, drawing up the hood of her USC hoodie. There on the side of the station, before she got in range of the camera, she took a few deep breaths and ran in place as fast as she could so she’d be short of breath. Then she ran quickly to the phone, as if she’d been running for blocks on adrenaline. The sign next to it said an emergency call to 911 was free. She dialed 911.

“Nine one one,” said a female operator. 

“What is your emergency?”

She spit out in a higher voice than usual, “My husband tried to shoot me! I ran out, but he has a gun! My mother and daughter are there! Please help!”

“What kind of gun?”

“What kind of gun? Really? It’s long. With bullets.”

“What is the address, ma’am?”

Melissa gave Roy’s address. The operator said to please hold, but Melissa said no, she’s going back. She hung up and ran back to her car.

“Where did you go, Mama?” said Stephanie, content in her seat.

“I just needed change.”

“What’s change?”

“Money. We needed different money,” Melissa said, and started the car. 

Disclaimer I received an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest review 

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According to FTC guidelines, I disclose that all books reviewed in this blog are either received from authors/publishers/book promoters/bloggers or read online or picked from the local library. For books received in exchange for an honest review, I didn't receive any monetary compensation.