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Renee Swindle’s “Shake Down The Stars” – A Review

shake

Not so recently, I was the lucky winner of the latest novel of Renee Swindle, A Pinch of Ooh La La. I was happily surprised by this win as I had tried for it on a whim and had just finished Ms. Swindle’s second novel, Shake Down The Stars. For years and years I waited for another Renee Swindle book as I loved  her first, Please Please Please so very much.

Now, before I begin this review I must tell you that I’m forgetful. Let’s just…put that out there. I say and do things on the fly. I hoard notebooks. I write myself notes on an app on my phone. It’s how I live. I’m saying all that to say that I immediately wrote a review for Shake Down The Stars which I fully intended to post here and upload to Amazon. Who knows how that went awry, but in one of my cleaning frenzies yesterday, I uncovered the abandoned review, and well, better late than never…right?

In this ultimate comeback novel, the main character Piper won me over from page one. You see, hooking and reeling me in the beginning is important as I have the attention span of a… wait… what was I saying?

Oh, right. Piper. What a mess! But quite frankly, I need for my characters to be a bit of a mess, so I know they’re real. Fortunately, Renee Swindle shared my sentiment in this brilliantly crafted and tightly written novel where she presents readers with a character who immediately resonates. Be it Piper’s alcoholism, (whether she acknowledges it or not), family turmoil or unimaginable loss, there is a little part of this character we can all relate to.

It is all these parts of Piper that made me ask the question over and over: Who will love you at your worst?

Though Piper isn’t overtly in search or love, or any one thing in particular, it’s a question she seems to want the answer to herself. While dealing with the unthinkable in the only way she knows how, drinking until she can no longer think nor feel, engaging in reckless and promiscuous behavior and clinging to an unhealthy back and forth relationship with her ex husband, Piper often looks for answers in the stars. Star gazing is a passion of hers, and after hitting rock bottom, the stars, it seems, are all she can hold on to.

It takes the chance meeting of a perfect stranger to bring Piper’s starry gaze into focus and force her to confront her demons and, once and for all, decide who she really is, and if the real Piper is worth loving at all.

Since her breakout novel Please Please Please, I’ve found Renee Swindle to be synonymous with creating shockingly real and relatable characters and terribly realistic stories. Her much anticipated follow up proves consistent in presenting readers with a complex and flawed character that we have all at one point either known, seen or been. 

Filled with detailed descriptions, familiar settings and sharp, snappy dialogue, Shake Down The Stars is an engaging and compelling read that I highly recommend.

Now…on to A Pinch of Ooh La La!
 

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Boundaries

lafyette

 

This is going to get personal, like, really personal. But that’s what we do here. Chat lightly, things get heavy, we promote a little.

I would categorize this one as a vent, except I’m not angry, and quite frankly, that worries me.

I may or may not have spoken here about boundaries. Specifically boundaries in a relationship. And sure, everyone has their own, whether expressed or unspoken.

Mine, however, have been blatantly expressed in the past, but now I find myself dealing with the same issue.

Specifically, I’m talking boundaries when it comes to being in contact with people other than your spouse/partner.

Where do you draw the line? At texting? At calling? At hanging out?

And to catch you up. The spouse is mine, the contact is via text (as far as I know) and he sort of told me as an afterthought.

The texter is a coworker. Remember those simultaneous dreams he and I had where I dreamed he was having an affair with a coworker and he dreamed I was having an affair with the neighbor? Weird, right? Well, the neighbor moved.

And his coworker, not someone he works closely with or even physically comes in contact with on a daily basis, texted him yesterday to “check on him.”

He’s on vacation. He’s not sick.

He’s simply not at work. And if he’s not at work, then guess what? He’s at home or somewhere with his wife, who would be doing the checking on if need be.

I didn’t say anything at first.

Because I try to be a cool, modern wife, you know. But the thing is, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and at some point, I started to boil over.

He thinks it’s jealousy. I think it’s boundaries, plain and simple. If I’ve not met, formed any type of friendship with this woman, she does not get to have a part in our marriage that’s exclusive to only him, especially when I was here first.

But, maybe that’s just me.

In the end I gave my opinion and honestly, he seemed sort of sad, like I had taken away a favorite toy or something. He even told me to find a guy to text after I asked how he’d feel if he were in my shoes. WTF, right?

Now, mama didn’t raise no fool. I didn’t come out and say “stop this or else” because if he wanted to stop he would and if I told him to stop and he didn’t want to, guess what? He’d continue, only behind my back which would make it definitely look like something even if it’s nothing.

So what did I do? What any sane woman would do, of course. I friended her on Facebook. I’ve got the bitch on my radar and I’m watching the situation closely. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

Instinct

tummy

This was a telling tweet. But I sent it out as I send most tweets, light heartedly, once it’s gone, it’s forgotten. Yes, it had started with a tummy ache, which with kids, is just another day at the office for a parent. I rubbed it, hugged him to make it all better and watched him sleep.

Then he couldn’t make it through the day in school the next day, and began to lose his appetite. And when the low grade fever appeared I figured was a stomach big than would just have to run his course.

But my boy who normally runs everywhere he goes couldn’t stand up straight. He walked hunched over and moaned in pain. He lay in my bed while I put up groceries, and then he let out a scream I will never forget. I dropped everything and drove him to the first hospital I could find, his twin sister in tow.

After six hours of labs, scans and tests, he was diagnosed with the one thing that I had pushed to the back oft mind as one of my outrageous hypochondriacal fears. It was his appendix, and it was ruptured.

It was the first time I felt the weight of being away from family and friends. The first time that I realized that my mom was now more than three hours away as opposed to just around the corner.

But mostly I realized that for two days I had dismissed my son’s pain as something far less serious than it was.

Not that I or anyone could have predicted or prevented it, but still, there’s that old mommy guilt. There’s the what ifs and the woulda, coulda, shouldas.

So today here we are, an emergency surgery later, on day six at the Children’s Hospital. He’s much better than he was before, but not well enough to go home.

I’m trying to make the best of it. Caring for him and reading and writing and keeping my fingers crossed that I can take him home soon.

And I guess that’s it. All I can say and all I can do. I appreciate the well wishes.

“Oh No She Didn’t!” A Guest Post by Giselle Renarde

adamshereesfamilybusinessare

Oh no I didn’t? Oh yes I did! I wrote Adam and Sheree’s Family Vacation: a book so vile, so filthy, so taboo that it was banned by Amazon and many other retailers.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson. Amazon is the world’s biggest seller of ebooks, right? If they won’t carry it, isn’t that like throwing months of hard work down the drain? Wouldn’t you think a clever, business-conscious writer would pack it in and write something a little tamer?

Well, I guess I’m an idiot because… I wrote another one.

The sequel to Adam and Sheree’s Family Vacation is called Adam and Sheree’s Family Business, and it’s every bit as sordid as the first. No, it’s more sordid. Not only does the sequel feature shockingly explicit sex between a brother and sister, it includes all the dirty details of how Sheree drags her brother Adam (and all three of his college housemates!) into her fledgling porn business.

So why on earth would I write a book that’s 100% guaranteed to get banned by Amazon? Their rules are clear: they don’t allow erotic content that includes sex between blood relatives. Same goes for ebook retailers like All Romance and BookStrand. Even if I am lucky enough to work with a publisher that welcomes taboo content, am I stupid or what? I’ve now written two novellas readers’ go-to online bookshop refuses to carry.

Yeah, I’d say I’m pretty stupid.

But there’s something about censorship that gets my goat. Maybe I didn’t rebel enough as a teenager, I don’t know, but when I hear there’s something the Amazonian Amazon WILL NOT ALLOW… well, I can’t help but wonder why. Why can’t I write an erotic story about a sexual relationship between two consenting adults?

Well, there’s an easy answer: because they’re siblings. And that’s just not permissible.

Remember when Flowers in the Attic came out and everyone in your class at school read it before the parental units found out why the kids always had their faces shoved in a book? Is Amazon now the scolding parent we writers are looking out for over our shoulders while we work?

And, speaking of Flowers in the Attic, why is Amazon totally cool about carrying a popular incest book by a bestselling author, but they won’t carry books by low-grossing writers like me (and maybe you, if you’re an author too)? Who gets to dictate what constitutes literary merit? Why does explicit fiction get so brutally castigated? Can’t a book be smutty and thought-provoking?

These are the questions I ask myself while cutting coupons and praying my rent cheque doesn’t bounce.

Sibling incest is an uncomfortable topic, but that’s why so many readers find it titillating. The more Big Daddy Amazon says YOU CAN’T READ THAT, the more we want to. Same goes for writers. Tell us we can’t explore a topic, and going to write the holy hell out of it.

Adam and Sheree’s Family Vacation, as well as its brand new sequel Adam and Sheree’s Family Business, may not be available from Amazon, but you CAN purchase them at eXcessica’s EDEN website and Barnes & Noble.

Read the Blurb/Excerpt or Purchase Adam and Sheree’s Family Vacation from EDEN:
http://excessica.com/eden/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=15&products_id=173
Read the Blurb/Excerpt or Purchase Adam and Sheree’s Family Vacation from Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/adam-and-sherees-family-vacation-giselle-renarde/1115524496?ean=2940016708492

Read the Blurb/Excerpt or Purchase Adam and Sheree’s Family Business from EDEN:
http://excessica.com/eden/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=30&products_id=179
Read the Blurb/Excerpt or Purchase Adam and Sheree’s Family Business from Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/adam-and-sheree-x2019-s-family-business-giselle-renarde/1116893547?ean=2940148682998

Giselle Renarde is a queer Canadian, avid volunteer, and contributor to more than 100 short story anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bondage Erotica, and Best Lesbian Romance. Ms Renarde has written dozens of juicy books, including Anonymous, Ondine, and Nanny State. Her book The Red Satin Collection won Best Transgender Romance in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. Giselle lives across from a park with two bilingual cats who sleep on her head.

Giselle Renarde
Canada just got hotter!

Visit me online
http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com
http://www.wix.com/gisellerenarde/erotica
http://twitter.com/GiselleRenarde

Why?

why

I seldom feel the need to explain myself, and I never intended to start now. But since the news of my family’s move to Atlanta has been met with the general inquisition of “why,” I’ve been feeling the need to explain myself, to tick off reasons why we’ve decided to leave this grand old place, and basically, sell the idea of Atlanta to people who are not only not coming with us, but probably won’t even visit.

Our “why” basically is this, though.

We live in a rural area, and though my husband works for the federal government, his particular placement has little room for advancement right now. Atlanta has that. We do have family here, because we were born and raised here. However, that has been a blessing and a curse. Family is there for help and support, but only when they can and want to, and family tends to overstep their bounds. Hell, I’ll say it, my mother especially.

When you have the comfort and convenience of family, it’s hard to motivate yourself to go it on your own. For instance, I almost never have issues with babysitting. On the other hand, my mother often treats me like a teen mom and coaches me (without solicitation) through whatever thing I’m dealing with concerning the children.

We have special needs children, I’ve said that before. The school district has been accommodating, but all the while letting us know that they only have so many resources available and there is only so much they can do. We are relocating to a place where there will be many more resources for the children.

And also, despite their challenges, my children are gifted, but there are no resources here to help nurture their talents besides basic school activities. If my daughter wants to dance, she has to do it in her bedroom.

Finally, we will be in a place where, at last, I can give the proper time and attention to my own career. And not law enforcement. I’ll get to really give freelancing a shot, and I’ll be in a prime place to promote my book next year.

So, there you have it. Those are just a couple of reasons why other than, damn it, it’s our party and we’ll move if we want to.

Knowing When

I can be relentless to a fault. I can repeat the same thing over and over again in different ways just trying to get my point across or simply be heard. I was once too proud to do this, too afraid of showing weakness or vulnerability.

With age and well, Valium, that all sort of went out the window. I began feeling more like I didn’t have anything to lose and I voiced my opinion and about any and everything, everywhere I could. And, I received mostly the same results.

Now, I’m thinking I need to go back to being that silent and numb person I once was. It was better that way, and safer, and I wasn’t feeling as on edge or as much like I would stroke out at any moment. You can’t control everything. You can’t control most things, and that can be frustrating.

But you have to know when to back away and just let it be, because it’s going to be, whether you like it or not.

I’m back to writing in the meantime, and I hope that’s something that never changes about me, never is muted or tainted. I hope that’s something that never, ever goes away.

Whatever It Takes

I’ve already harped on Twitter about my 1k+ word count accomplishment today. To my fellow, more dedicated writer friends, this probably sounds like nothing, but for me who has been creatively mute for the past month or so, this is wonderful.

Of course, the burst of creative energy came from a huge bout of stress I’m dealing with, but fortunately, this is an awesome outlet for me. I subbed a story last week; I have another near completion, and I’m having tons of fun working on yet another (with sex injuries, yay!).

I’ve also added two-mile walks to the mix which also help.

Hell, anything is better than punching a wall (or a face), I guess.