The nominations in the category of Contemporary Literature are:
The Still Sad Music by Shawn Merritt:
The Still Sad Music, by Shawn Merritt is a sometime melancholic, but always interesting journey through the coming of age of a troubled, young man. Jeffrey is an awkward adolescent, just coming to terms with his feelings and emotions, when both his parents are killed in a car crash. With only his big brother left to guide him in the ways of the world and his best friend, Jimmy, Jeffrey embarks on a self-destructive journey of drugs, alcohol and sex as he tries to cope with life and with his place in this world. Along with his addictions, Jeffrey must face and deal with his own mental illness and understand what it is that makes him tick. Lurching from one crisis to another, he manages to stay a part of the world, without actually being able to figure out his own place in it.
The Still Sad Music, is a hauntingly, poignant reminder, that; “there, but for the grace of God, go I”. Shawn Merritt drags the reader into Jeffrey’s twisted and misunderstood world and ask some of the very big questions: Who am I? What am I doing here? and, what’s the point of it all? Despite the subject matter, which is, at times, depressing and sad, Merritt manages to infuse enough subtle humour and genuinely funny observations about people, to stop the reader from clutching his/her head in their hands in despair. The story is tight, well-written and exceptionally moving at times. It is impossible to read this book and not feel a deep compassion and sorrow for the young character, whilst at the same time having this intense desire to kick his ass and tell him to pull himself together. All-in-all, an excellent read and a real credit to this author. This is a coming-of-age novel with none of the nasty bits shaved off or dampened down.
Lie To Me: An Expose on Sex for Money by Linda Filler:
One of the best parts of my job as a professional book reviewer is discovering new indie talent, but even more importantly watching that writing talent grow and mature over the years and the books. This is very much the case with this author, Lynda Filler. I had read some of her earlier books and although I enjoyed them and I had a feeling there was something special about her writing and her stories, it is only now, with her latest book, Lie To Me, that I can see that talent literally explode onto the page and excite me, as a reader.
Lie to Me, is a hard-hitting, powerful story about male prostitution in Mexico, as told through the eyes of Layla, an American writer who lives in Puerto Vallarta and writes, freelance for a magazine in the US, and also through the individual male prostitute's perspectives. Layla is fascinated by both the older men and women who come to Mexico looking for sex and the young, Mexican men who provide it for them, for a fee. What motivates them and how do they cope with the emotional attachments that so often invariably form? Layla also has her own personal demons and is convinced that love, especially with a young Mexican man, is not only silly, but counterproductive to her work. she loves the sex, but shuns the attachments, or at least tries desperately hard to do so.
Lie to Me is incredibly well written, tight, taut, descriptive, and everything I'd expect from a long-time, well-established, professional author. It thrills me to see the depth of the writing and the emotions Filler is now able to extract from her work. This is a wonderful story of an alternative lifestyle that may well be eye-opening for some, but fascinating nonetheless. For me, it gave me an insight into a world I knew existed, but like Filler, I guess I wondered how it all worked for the participants. I wonder no more and that is totally due to Filler's excellent work.
I would definitely recommend this read to anyone who has secretly yearned to escape the rat-race, if even for a short time and indulge in the pleasures and the exotic mystery of another race and culture. With Lies to Me, you can do that, without any attendant risk. A fantastic read and all credit to the author, Lynda Filler. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
The War Blog by Glen Sobey:
Crystal Rose and her brother JD’s names pretty much sum up their parent’s attention to them. Crystal Rose Rock, named after a drug and JD, named after a popular brand of whiskey. Both children suffered from foetal alcohol syndrome, with Crystal being very underdeveloped and JD afflicted with learning and behavioural disabilities. Their mother was an addict and an alcoholic, while their father was a convicted felon. Fortunately the two children had been abandoned by their mother with their maternal grandparents and had been brought up in a small, Alaskan town, surrounded by love, but also some measure of deceit and lies about the past. Seventeen-year-old Crystal is appalled by the behaviour of her fellow male high-school pupils toward girls in general. They are just there to provide eye candy and easy sex for the boys. The girls, sadly, also seem to play along to the only game in town and Crystal becomes determined to make a difference and change the attitudes toward girls and women. A talented musician and singer, Crystal starts a blog and writes songs about sexism, chauvinism and abuse of women. The boys of the town and even some of the girls hate what she is doing, but she is a fighter. So begins the adventure in The War Blog by Glen Sobey.
As a reviewer, every so often a book crosses my Kindle, especially from a debut author, that makes me sit up and take notice. The War Blog by Glen Sobey is definitely one of those books. Sobey has taken an incredibly powerful and (in today’s environment) a very topical subject and forcefully made us, as readers, address the issues faced by Crystal and all young women today. The author tackles the hard questions head on, through the eyes of this young warrior, Crystal Rose. Although the book covers such angst ridden topics as sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction and the objectification of woman, by viewing these topics through the eyes of a beautiful spirit, such as Crystal, the ugliness of them is softened by the love and warmth of the characters as well as the beautiful poetry of the songs written. I have no idea whether the author is male or female, but either way, I felt Sobey could not have done a better job of highlighting the often meaningless feelings of the younger generation at this time and more importantly, the idea of being trapped by the cultural norms and being judged by how they look and whether or not they “put out”, felt by young women everywhere. This is a powerful novel that all Adult (Young and otherwise) should read. I will be looking for more from this very talented author, in the future.
drum roll please
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME