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Poison Ivy by Travis Vp Fox (2006 Q-Boro Books.)  Read more about the author and the novel  here.

     My first reaction to receiving C.E. Dorsett’s Legends of the Jade Moon, Book I: Liquid Sky was that, though I haven’t been inclined to read straight-out science fiction since I’d read my last Heinlein book several years ago, was that I’d been expecting it and was pleased to see a copy in my mailbox. My second reaction was oh god, it’s got a glossary in the back…..

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(All reviews copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Nicholas Grabowsky and Diverse Media, all rights reserved.   All book cover images are owned by their respective owners and used by permission.)

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…..any book that has a glossary, as far as I’m concerned, raises flags as to question just how much I have to concentrate while reading it do I go before I can even comprehend it. ¿Comprendé?

     What we have here is indeed science fiction ala Dune, though less detailed but just as vividly portrayed. Dorsett deserves praise for the execution of a story less intimidating for one more inclined to read other genres which require far less brain power to understand, breaks through those barriers and develops a narrative which renders a glossary needless and pretty much explains itself as is without asserting its vast mythology in explanatory rhetoric.

     I enjoyed the damn thing. I think C.E. Dorsett is one powerhouse of imagination, inspired obviously by the greats of his craft. Liquid Sky is full of mysticism and spirituality, of themes centered on the search for one’s inner self and the meaning of the universe around him, where a youthful monk with adopted parents finds himself catapulted into an interstellar journey fueled by the death of the one he called Father and driven at odds by the results of saving him, by mysterious truth-sayers who aren’t what they seem and personal intuition telling him he’s destined to amount to something greater than himself and the savior of worlds. Ianus’ adventures and intrigue are entertaining and don’t smother us in the sort of over-explanation I’d read in other novels like this one. Liquid Sky is an extremely intelligent, very readable and delightful piece of work, and I’m glad to recommend it. Eric Dorsett also is the creator of some way cool electronic music and art, and I expect more like-kind literary works from him in the near future.
 

   

 

 

I Will Rise  by Michael Louis Calvillo (2007 Lachesis Publishing.  Read more about the author and the book  here.)

Liquid Sky (Legends of the Jade Moon Book 1) by C.E. Dorsett (2005 iUniverse.  Read more about the author & book  here.)

Coming Soon!

 

Coming Soon!

 

I made Travis’ acquaintance on Myspace and was very interested in his Poison Ivy book and him as a person, and, one thing leading to another, I’ve ended up with his book in my hands and a review to do.  So here goes:

The “Black Poe,” rap he’s given to promote himself placed a question mark in my mind which

eventually led me to expect him to write something I’m more inclined to reading, such as a work of supernatural horror/fantasy, or something related to that genre.  Poison Ivy, on the surface, is nothing like that……it first looks like an average piece of pulp fiction spoken straight out from an African American-in-the ghetto perspective that may fall way short of something meaningful and end up in the slush pile of thousands of manuscripts of like-kind. 

After having read it, I’m telling you all now, this is not your momma’s bedtime story.  It may be more familiar to that reality among us which countless holier-than-thou’s refuse to consider, how in America there exists a way of life that characters such as Ivy Davidson live every day, where sex exploitation is a way of life regardless of how old you are and turning tricks for the pricks that own your ass is as much a part of life as breathing.  Here in this tale we have Ivy, who at a very young age turns to prostitution as a result of the fates of her mother and father, through no choice of her own but of the choices of the adults in the world around her, where men aren’t men but gun-toting johns and women and girls regardless of age are sexual playthings, a world where even the law partakes off the record from behind closed doors, drugs are passed like trick-or-treat candy and the difference between each day is that you’ve lived through the others and probably want to die from living that long.

But the reality of Ivy herself as a character shifts, to the point where she’s convinced her father is one person and then another, nobody is who they at first seem to be, including, astonishingly enough, herself.  The expertise Travis Fox presents in the way he writes this work is raw and gritty, with twists and turns evident in the work of an accomplished writer.  I can tell he knows the world of which he writes intimately, at least to a degree enough that he’s familiar with it…..I mean, you write what you know……but with this work he shines in a learned sort of literacy, for which he should be doing lectures to young underprivileged aspiring writers (hint hint, Travis), because Travis Vp Fox’s literary talent and passion is an inspiration to not only all of Black America, but to America as a whole regardless of where one comes from or the color of one’s skin.  

And as far as proclaiming himself a Black Poe……well, I tell you, I’ve yet to see the kind of supernatural blood-and-guts genre-type stories from him, but reading this work presents material just as shocking, because it’s based on realism, which can often be worse than something whimsical one can whip up from nothing.  Not to mention, the style in which Travis writes matched with the very ambition of the man makes him a literary voice that shines, of which I applaud, and I look forward to many future works courtesy of the Black Poe……

 

     A high school English teacher wrote this, no kidding.  In all of my educational years growing up, from grades pre-thru-all-the-way-up-to-junior-college, I never knew a single teacher regardless of vocational discipline to write a novel like this

His students must really dig him…..

And here again we have a first novel, this time fallen right smack dab into our favorite genre and the one I should be constantly dealing with in the first place, outright in-your-face kind of horror with plot devices and characters and situations that grab you by the balls or region thereof if you have not balls. 

     Bottom line:  Charles, our main character who from first person narrates the tale, is one dude with wrenches thrown into the mechanics of his social life to the point he’s disciplined his private thoughts against even the temptation of masturbation.  He’s just a joe with a shitass job and a clinically malfunctioned jittery hand until a confrontation with a police officer and his hound and the ghostly vision of a girl he encountered at a library suddenly play a part in that hand coming to life, its palm a black hole of fathomless vacuous suction with anyone it touches and, like a vacuum cleaner set on nightmare, it sucks the life right from you.  A frickin’ dog gets swallowed up in it.  And yet, all he has to do is touch you, and you’re dead in a couple days, and those who touch you are dead in just as much time.  The girl from the library, as it turns out, is really a chubby blind girl in Arizona who appears to Charles in visions while she dreams, and in that vision she’s sexy and actually sees.  She tells him a dreamer actually dreamt this world, and the dreamer is awakening and everyone must die to be saved…..or something like that…..and Charles is to purge this world relentlessly by killing everyone in it.  But then there are the many people that dreamt of him doing so, and who fervently attempt to stop him.  Not to mention, throughout his exploits to kill mankind, his face is all over the news.  Ultimately, a popular televised psychic may be behind it all, but the only way Charles can find out the truth behind the possibly greater role he has to play is to continue down his path of global destruction and see what happens next.

     Calvillo has this, his first novel, as well as an extremely impressive promotional campaign to launch him down a path to certain literary success, if he keeps this up.  I love hot girls that drive me to kill and In 24 hours everyone you know will be dead! are splashed across business cards and related marketing material are good catch phrases, but do they measure up to all the hype?

     You betcha.  But I'm a redemption addict, and there are elements of the story and the character of Charles which render me unsympathetic to him; the focal point of firepower Calvillo directs towards us in first person with him should, I feel, lead him into a more palpable resolution.  But all that shouldn't dissuade you from reading it, is just banter from me to the author.  I think the reading public who digs horror will lap this stuff up. 

     Truly, its nonconformity, as Calvillo boasts as part of the sort of writing discipline he's utilized to describe how he writes  in author bio blurbs, is indeed just that, and that's part of what makes this work special. 

     That, and, for an English teacher with a dark side, I Will Rise makes for a perfect addition to any library.