Friday, January 31, 2014

Junkie Love / Joe Clifford


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Biography

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive. He is the author of three books. 

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

Junkie Love portrays the author’s existence as a drug addict.

Appraisal:

This is one hell of a book. It reminds me of another I reviewed, Just Like That by Les Edgerton. The subject matter is entirely different, the parallel lies in the incredible honesty that both authors apply in their work. In Junkie Love the author charts his decline from light drug user to utterly messed up waste of space and then recovery. I truly struggle to understand how Clifford actually survived.

The writing style is interesting and unusual, a mix of past tense flashback chapters in the past tense interspersed with others in present tense. It’s unfair to say the narrative is confusing, the thread does move about, but it conveys the mental state of a junkie. We’re not talking lucid here, memories are jumbled for the straightest of people, never mind those who spend most of their times either high or hunting down their next fix.

The author is incredibly blunt about the life he led, the places (dumps really) he lived (like Hepatitis Heights) and the things he did to survive. I doubt 99% of the population would never experience anything like the events in Junkie Love. Here’s an example:

I didn’t last long. Like every other job I’ve ever had, I was fired from this one, too. As the summer nights grew shorter, my heroin problem grew worse, and a quarter gram of speed just wasn’t enough to drag me from the other side of town fast enough, especially if I was chasing down smack. Heroin first, speed second, cocaine third and then the other stuff like food and shelter. That was my hierarchy of needs.

Then there are the supporting characters. Minor ones with nicknames (e.g. Gluehead) come and go but there are a handful of constants – the author’s wife, Catherine, who has serious mental health issues and is dealt with in the past tense chapters, Amy a junkie girlfriend in the present tense and his family who are in both. Ultimately almost all these relationships fade, only the author’s family is there at the end (remarkable given what he put them through).

Here’s an example of the writing, and one of the characters:

Oksana was boiling cat heads in a big pot on the stove when I got back to the apartment. Oksana collected road kill, cooking off the fur and using the bleached bits of skull as jewelry. A homeless, teenaged speed dealer, she’d race the midnight streets of San Francisco on her skateboard, a demon pixie draped in shiny beads and necklaces delivering product, two giant guard dogs snapping at her side like the Hounds of Hell.

Brilliant, but shocking stuff.

FYI:

Swearing. Copious references to drug use.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.


Rating: ***** Five Stars

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Every Inch of the Way; My Bike Ride Around the World / Tom Bruce


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel Narrative

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
Illustrated Version
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
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Author:

A native of England, Bruce traveled around the world on his bike. Besides the obvious (adventure, challenge, etc) he was also raising money for a charity, the SOS Children’s Villages, which is the largest organization of its kind in the world, providing homes for more than 78,000 orphaned and abandoned children in more than 124 countries.

You can find out more about Tom and find a link to the site for his charity on his website.

Description:

Tom Bruce set off on his bicycle from his home in March of 2011 with a goal to cycle around the world. This is the story of his adventure.

Appraisal:

The title, Every Inch of the Way, comes from Tom Bruce’s self imposed rule for his trip. He had to ride every inch of land from sea to sea across each land mass. (Obviously oceans and seas required assistance.) There are several things I hope to get from a book of this type; the sense of adventure, a feel for the logistics of such a trip, and both the highs and lows, for a start. What the different places and the people who live there were like (both the similarities and differences from the author’s previous experience and personal norms) are also on my list.

Much of what I was looking for was there, to a point. But sometimes it fell short. Midway through I made a note that every new place couldn’t possibly be “the most beautiful” he’d ever seen. It felt like he was using this in an attempt to get across that a place was incredibly beautiful. Different words to say so might have accomplished that better. The same thing goes for describing his condition after a long, hard day. The word of choice was shattered, which was a different usage of that word for me, although easy enough to understand and certainly correct. However, throwing in an exhausted, burnt-out, stonkered, half dead, or any other reasonable word meaning about the same thing some of the time would have been good.

I would have expected the kind of things mentioned in the last paragraph to have been eradicated as part of the editing and proofing process. I also found a lot of typos and other errors that should have been fixed later on in that process. Another issue was inconsistency in describing things that are measured numerically, specifically money, distances, and weights. The rule here, at least in my opinion, should be to pick one as the standard and stick with it. Telling us the price of something in the local currency is okay, as long as we’re also told the rough equivalent in whatever the standard measurement is. Instead we’ve got pounds and pence in one place, dollars in another. Kilos and pounds for weight. Kilometers and miles swapping back and forth. The worst instance of this is illustrated by this example, where we get both:

Due to this, I was struggling to reach my 100 kilometre daily target. My old 85 mile target was now a bit ambitious so I’d lowered it to the minimum distance that would get me to Trabzon on time.

If he used either consistently the reader would adapt, regardless of what measurement they use day to day. But randomly switching back and forth is a problem. Here, no matter which distance measurement a reader normally uses, getting a sense of how much less his revised goal is than his old one is going to throw them out of the story. (If you’re wondering, 100 KM is about 62 miles, or 85 miles is around 137 KM.)

In the end, I’m torn. This is one of my favorite kinds of books to read and Bruce’s trip was unique, traveling through places and having experiences that were different from what I’ve read before. But unless you’re looking for a steady diet of this type of travel-adventure book or have a high tolerance for less than stellar editing, you might want to look elsewhere.

FYI:

UK spelling conventions, word usage, and slang.

Format/Typo Issues:

A large number of proofing and copy editing issues.


Rating: *** Three stars

#Free for your #Kindle, 1/30/2014

The author of each of these books has indicated their intent to schedule these books for a free day for the Kindle versions today on Amazon. Sometimes plans change or mistakes happen, so be sure to verify the price before hitting that "buy me" button.


Fade Route by David Chill





Scattered Memories #1: "a Childhood Scorned" by G.2b.G



Author's interested in having their free book featured either here on a Thursday or a sister site on a Monday, visit this page for details.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hetman: Hard Kill / Alex Shaw


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Action-Adventure/Short Story

Approximate word count: 9-10,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Alex Shaw was a drama teacher in an international school based in Kyiv until he left to set up his own consultancy business. 
Hetman, the author’s first novel, took 12 years to write, subsequently followed up by Cold Black. Both were Kindle bestsellers.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

1994, SAS trooper Aidan Snow is seconded to a covert intelligence and security unit serving in Northern Ireland. Their task is to stop a breakaway IRA cell before it can halt the peace process in its tracks.

The operation they undertake is initially a success, Fox and Snow confirm the cell is armed and possesses explosives, but before the terrorists can be arrested they disappear and an informer, part of the cell, is found dead…

Appraisal:

This novella is an introduction to the protagonist Aidan Snow who appears in the author’s  novels, Hetman and Cold Black. If you’re a fan of army based thrillers then this story will appeal to you. There’s plenty of military references and acronyms, procedures and processes. Thankfully, not too many to slow the story down. There’s also an experience of life in the army, some humour and some hurt. It brings quite a personal side to the tale.

The action starts from the opening line with Snow and his colleague, Paddy Fox, entering the field on a mission. Although the peace process is underway, the troubles aren’t over and that fact filters into the story throughout. There’s a constant underlying feeling of risk and danger. The reader follows Snow as he undertakes his dangerous tasks, fighting for survival when captured and making his first ‘kill’ in order to escape.

It’s a short, snappy read that gives a strong taste for the novels. It’s pacy, well written with good dialogue. There’s a strong sense of time and place, set nearly twenty years ago in a problematic period that’s still a strong memory for many.

Well worth picking up if this is a genre you enjoy. I’ll be looking out for other work by the author.

Format/Typo Issues:

A small number not worth mentioning.


Rating: **** Four Stars

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What it is Like to Be a Woman in I.T.?, a guest post from Fiona Pearse, author of Orla's Code


There are few industries that have not yet been infiltrated by women, making hand-cream appear on desks and shoes come out of drawers. But while the numbers of women grow in business, the sciences and the armed forces, the number of women in I.T. has not only remained small over my 15 years of working in the industry but is actually dropping.

Recently I was asked what it is like to work in a male-dominated field. I realised it is a difficult question to answer because having moved country and industry a few times I have worked in a mixture of technical environments: from highly competitive firms like CouperDaye in my novel, Orla’s Code, to non-profit organisations.

My first job was working for a high-pressure multinational where my ambition was attributed to the fact that I was a woman. It was a bit like being a guinea-pig in an experiment, generating a bit of excitement. I used to work late nights to impress my managers – I could feel the weight of representing my sex on my shoulders! I kept up with my male counterparts down the pub as well. I'm not sure that was wise but I had a lot of fun.

Years later I worked in a slow-moving research department but was the only female in the whole building. One of the toilets was supposedly allocated for women - well, me - but this allocation was ignored and eventually I had to put a sign up on the door saying 'Women Only' because some people were not leaving the toilet the way they found it. The sign was taken with good humour mostly but the state of the Ladies toilet deteriorated - someone wanted me to know I wasn't welcome.

I have noticed along the way that being the odd one out means that people always associate your particular qualities with the way in which you are different. For example, people say I am conscientious about meeting project deliverables because I am a woman. I think the logic here is that women have smaller egos and so are therefore more obedient and less likely to be maverick. In fact, I am more outspoken than my male counterparts when it comes to challenging something that I think is wrong. I have even refused to go along with certain things because I thought they were impractical. But people reinforce their existing perceptions, so I deliver targets on time because I am an obedient female!

And then the pendulum swings the other way: weaknesses get attributed to that unusual thing about you as well. I have not taken Tipex to the computer screen yet, but I am aware that some people still believe a woman’s brain cannot be as analytical as a man’s, and I have sometimes found the benefit of the doubt hard to find. More than once a manager has changed my code assuming it was wrong when in fact their change has caused a bug! I don't think they would have interfered with another man's code as easily.

I enjoyed playing with this idea in Orla's Code. Orla starts off as 'The Golden Girl', put on a pedestal by her manager but in practice, she is never taken as seriously as her male colleagues, and when she makes mistakes she becomes an easy scapegoat.

I think the reason why there are so few women in I.T. is because they are put off by the nerd image. And since we don't teach programming in schools, boys get into it through their peers, so the perception that it is a 'boy thing' starts early. It's great to see campaigns entering schools, showing girls that coding isn't just about combat games. I think school kids should learn how to write their own phone app - how much fun would that be? In recent years girls have grown as Tech consumers through the gaming and smartphone industry. We also have our young superstars like Jenny Lamere who are changing perceptions. So the numbers of women in I.T. will naturally increase, I think.


I do the job because I like the work. Like Orla, I have always enjoyed problem solving and creating something. Also I have made great friends over the years because most of the people I have worked with, like myself, recognise the value of diversity in the workplace and want to work in a challenging, changing environment where people are taken for what they are – individuals.



For more from Fiona, visit her website.

Get your copy of Fiona's book, Orla's Code, from Amazon US (ebook or paper), Amazon UK, (ebook or paper), Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Princess of Fae / Bob Craton


Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Genre: Comedic Fiction/ Fantasy/ Parody

Approximate word count: Words: 25-30,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: NO
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Author:

“When he was a child, Bob Craton's teachers often remarked (not always favorably) about his day-dreaming. He spent much of his time lost in his own imagination, often creating elaborate elementary school tall-tales, and the habit never went away as he grew up.

At age fifty-seven, he retired early (a euphemism for 'got laid off') and had time to put his tales on 'paper' (an ancient product now replaced by digital electronics)... Many people think he is bonkers for believing that fictional characters talk to him, but he calls it creativity and remains unrepentant.”

Description:

In this novella a bitchy faery Princess recruits a motley crew to assist her on a journey back home to Faƫoria. A famous warrior-hero Aretino Searle, who is now a drunk; an unlucky wizard, they call Pinkie; and a clever thief named Mausi (not pronounced mousy) who is on the lam. This small troupe is joined by a stable boy, who turns out to be an educated goblin named George, and a cowardly ogre named Loudt (not pronounced Lout).

Along the way they tame a dragon, steal a Magic Sword, evade Imperial soldiers, fight demons, fire their author and banish a pompous narrator. Being a bitchy little brat, she doesn't tell them what . . .uh oh, she's looking at me. Did I mention that her icy blue eyes can freeze a man's bloo . . . ”

Appraisal:

This is a unique fun story. When the narrator and the author started bickering at each other and arguing with the characters I had to laugh. Of course then the editor had to get his two cents in.. The characters don't mind telling any of them to get off their backs and let them get on with their scripts. Until they reached the point where they threw the scripts out and proceeded the way they thought best.

Each of these off-beat characters are well developed and had their own endearing qualities. Well except for the Princess, there wasn't much about her that was endearing but she was entertaining. My two favorites were George, he was a bit of a nerd (who doesn't love nerds?) and Loudt, the kind-hearted ogre. They had a true friendship that will last forever and I enjoyed their dialogue. I also think Mr. Craton did a great job handling the other character's banter, they all played off each other well.

The plot was creative and had a good pace. There was action, adventure, and drama galore as this small band of misfits traveled the countryside and mountain terrain. My only complaint is there was not a climatic ending, perhaps if Queen Mab and the Princess had matched wits at the end I would have felt more satisfied. Coming back home is never as easy as this homecoming was. Someone should have had to eat crow, don't you think? Then perhaps the others could have headed back home feeling like the Princess got her just desserts. Or am I just being mean and showing my true colors?

Bob Craton makes many references to other epic fantasies, fairy tales, pop-culture, and famous works of literature throughout the story. There were few stones left unturned and I found it very entertaining. I have read very few satirical parodies and I found this one a nice change of pace.

FYI:

The author warns at the beginning that “this text contains Naughty Words not suitable for children, puppies, and other gentle beings.”  While there was a lot of swearing there were no F-bombs dropped at all.

Format/Typo Issues:

I only found a small number of proofing errors. Most were minor, except near the end Loudt was mistakenly called George.


Rating: **** Four stars

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Bitch / Les Edgerton


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime Fiction / Noir

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Les Edgerton is the author of fifteen books. He is an ex-con and served two years for a single charge of burglary, reduced from 182, two strong-arm robberies, an armed robbery, and a count of possession with intent to deal. Today, he's completely reformed. Prior to this Les served in the U.S. Navy as a cryptographer during the Cuban Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam War.

After making parole Les obtained a B.A. from Indiana University and then received his MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Vermont College. He teaches workshops nationwide on writing. Born in Texas, Les now lives in Indiana with his family.

You can learn more about the author at his blog.

Description:

Jake Bishop is on the straight and narrow. His prison sentence is a long way behind him. Life is good. He’s married and is about to start his own business. But then an old cell mate, Walker Joy, arrives on the scene. He once saved Jake’s life and is demanding repayment in the shape of a burglary he needs help pulling. The problem for Jake is The Bitch – the three strikes and you’re out rule. He can’t say yes, but he daren’t say no…

Appraisal:

This is the third Les Edgerton book I’ve read and reviewed. All have been different in style. The others, The Rapist and Just Like That both started with a bang. However The Bitch is more of a slow burn.
Jake initially meets Walker out of a sense of duty and friendship (a theme that runs throughout the novel) but soon discovers he’s been betrayed. In prison Jake told Walker about a couple of crimes he hadn’t been caught for and Walker (a less than reputable and trustworthy individual) spilled them to a jeweler friend, Spencer. It’s Spencer who wants the robbery to go ahead and he uses every means to rope Jake in – including falsely accusing Jake’s brother of a crime.

What’s particularly smart about The Bitch is the steady ramp up of tension and pressure with every chapter as Jake gets drawn deeper and deeper in. As he spills from one event to another nothing goes quite right, so the implications steadily increase – from robbery, to kidnap and eventually to murder. Jake is trying to find a way of getting his old life back and keeping his misdeeds from his wife. But he can’t.

As previously mentioned relationships are absolutely key to The Bitch. Good and bad. Towards the end Edgerton reveals why Jake couldn’t simply stroll away from Walker, he owes him a lot. Edgerton also takes Jake’s options away one by one to the point that there’s a sad inevitability about the ending, like a car crash you can see coming, but can’t and don’t want to avoid.

This is a really enjoyable story. Very well written and highly compelling. The characters are strong, the dialogue rough and tough. Well worth picking up.

FYI:

Some swearing.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.


Rating: ***** Five Stars

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me / Will Viharo


Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: NO  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
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Author:

For 13 years Will Viharo presented and produced the live cult movie cabaret Thrillville. An author of multiple novels Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me is the first starring PI Vic Valentine, originally published in 1995 until it went out of print and was recently reissued. Will currently lives in San Francisco with his wife and cats.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

Pro-baseball player Tommy Dodge has a problem, his wife, Rose, has disappeared. He hires PI Vic Valentine to find her. And that’s when the trouble starts, because Vic thinks he knows her.

Appraisal:

Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me is a breezy, fun read. It is narrated in the first person by the protagonist, PI Vic Valentine – Vic being sometimes short for Victor, sometimes Victim, as he says. At the outset Vic spends most of his time in a bar watching old movies and talking to the landlord, Doc. Vic’s life is uncomplicated until in walks washed up pro-baseball player Tommy Dodge. The case seems straightforward at first, find Dodge’s missing wife, Rose, but literally nothing is as it seems. Vic gets himself deeper and deeper in trouble as he tries to find out the truth about Rose.

I’d like to say more about the story here but I’m unwilling to drop out any spoilers. Most of the joy of this book is the regular curves the author throws at the reader. Just when you think you’ve learnt everything about ‘Rose’, Viharo tosses in another banana, another problem for Vic to overcome.

The characterisation is perhaps the strongest element, Vic himself is excellent and a unique voice. He’s a complex guy and has a tendency to obsess over women, it seems to be a weakness (if that’s the right word) of his. In fact this behaviour underlines almost all of Vic’s actions. He knows damn well what he’s about to do will lead to trouble, but he goes ahead anyway. Vic simply can’t help himself, it’s like watching a slow motion car crash – inevitable, but no less painful for it.

The support characters are also very good too, easy to relate to and understand. The dialogue is sharp and witty, in fact these two words summarise the prose. To say this is a light book underestimates it, but it does clip along and is fun to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Love Stories... and I’d certainly look out for the sequels. Vic is a fun guy to be with.

FYI:

Nothing of note.

Format/Typo Issues:

None.


Rating: **** Four Stars

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bullets, Teeth and Fists / Jason Beech



Reviewed by: Keith Nixon

Genre: Crime/ Short Story Collection

Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words

Availability
Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Jason Beech is a Sheffield born author who now resides in New Jersey with his wife and daughter. When not writing Jason coaches soccer. He has previously published a novel, Over The Shoulder.

You can learn more about the author at his website.

Description:

In the author’s words, a collection of fourteen crime ridden and pulpy short stories.

Appraisal:

This is a decent set of tales, relatively well constructed and entertaining enough. Each has a little twist at the end that means the conclusion is unexpected although they tend to be on the short side. With the exception of a historical fiction story all are crime based.

The first is about a hitman who’s got to complete several jobs before getting to his daughter’s show. The second is dialogue driven, a couple have a disastrous date, but he’s a lot worse than he seems.

Bring It On Down is a neat coming of age story where Anthony, a schoolboy gradually develops from withdrawn and lonely to gang leader and bully. It’s longer than average (for this book) which I think helps. The author allows more time to develop the characters and situation.

The Thing That Looked At Me is also well done. Andy is having an affair with the bosses girlfriend. Trouble is he gets too close to her and she doesn’t like it. Interspersed with Andy lying in his own blood there is an ongoing flashback to what brought him here.

All in all a worthy read, relatively fast to get through.

FYI:

Nothing of note.

Format/Typo Issues:

Nothing of note.


Rating: *** Three Stars

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shoes of a Servant / Diane Benscoter


Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Author:

Diane Benscoter is a former member of The Unification Church (frequently called The Moonies) who became a deprogrammer after leaving the organization.

Description:

“Diane Benscoter grew up in the heartland of America in a small Nebraska town with a loving family. At 17, motivated by her idealism and inspired by the lyrics of her favorite songs, she left home in search of a way to end war. She found easy answers to Life’s hard questions in the form of a religious cult commonly known as the Moonies.

In Shoes of a Servant Benscoter weaves a gripping story of her servitude in the cult, the deprogramming staged by her desperate family, and her subsequent involvement in the underground world of deprogramming– culminating in her arrest for kidnapping. Often humorous and always heartbreaking , Benscoter’s story carries the reader on a journey into the world of mental manipulation, providing compelling insight on how human vulnerabilities open the door for extremism."

Appraisal:

I found this book informative and enlightening on two fronts.  The first and most obvious was understanding how someone gets involved in an organization like The Moonies as well as the process of deprogramming. How can a cult take people who are just like us and change them so much?

The not so obvious thing I got out of this book was how many parallels I saw between Benscoter’s experience as a Moonie with experiences I’ve had and observations I’ve made in the way other organizations work. For example, my experience with a religion considered mainstream (although more cult-like than most) was more alike than different. I also saw parallels to many political organizations, especially those with more extreme stances from either end of the spectrum.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues


Rating: **** Four stars

#Free for your #Kindle, 1/23/2014

The author of each of these books has indicated their intent to schedule these books for a free day for the Kindle versions today on Amazon. Sometimes plans change or mistakes happen, so be sure to verify the price before hitting that "buy me" button.


Even Poetry Gets the Blues by Jessica Brooke




For the Love of the Horse by Ann Jamieson



Author's interested in having their free book featured either here on a Thursday or a sister site on a Monday, visit this page for details.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The 11:15 Bench / Paul Kijinski


Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: General Fiction

Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words

Availability    
Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: NO  Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store

Paul Kijinski is the author of the novel Camp Limestone, a winner of the 2007 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers, and other works of middle grade fiction. The 11:15 Bench is his first novel for adult readers.

Kijinski was born in Garfield Heights, Ohio, and earned degrees from Oberlin College, The Ohio State University, and John Carroll University. He began writing seriously while serving as a missile officer in the U.S. Air Force. The solitude of underground launch control centers provided a uniquely rich environment for putting pen to paper. His final assignment in the military was teaching English at the Air Force Academy.

Kijinski is currently an elementary school teacher in South Euclid, Ohio. He and his wife, Eileen, have two adult sons.

Follow him on Facebook.

Description:

Roger, a forty-five-year-old school teacher, reminisces about his past, and in particular a four-year-long teenage romance with Regina Tucci--the love of his life.

Appraisal:

A lovely story, tenderly told. The author weaves his tale against the backdrop of a small mid-western university town with such care and attention to detail that the location really came alive for me. Regina hails from an Italian community, and Roger’s parentage is Polish. The cultural observations, particularly amongst the older generation are fascinating and fun.
Our narrator shares anecdotes from his past, and his joy and regret over his romance with Regina as though he were a friend reminiscing with us over a cup of coffee at the local diner.

I suspect some of this story is based in fact—after all the author lives and teaches in the Mid-West where the novel is set, went to the same university as the main character, and also happens to be a school teacher. So I hope Mr. Kijinski won’t be offended when I say at times I wanted to shake Roger and tell him to wake up, to be more assertive, to ‘go for it.’ But part of the character’s charm is that he’s so real, and he shows human frailties and makes mistakes as we all do.

The writing flows: wave-like, smooth, and thoroughly engaging. I’m glad I read The 11:15 Bench. I suspect you will be too.

Format/Typo Issues:

None—and I mean none! Kudos, Mr. Kijinski.


Rating: ***** Five stars