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Lost Hunger (Once Bitten, Forever Alive) by Angelina M. Robinson

(2004 Authorhouse)  Read more about the author & book here.

      Angelina M. Robinson's debut novel is a heartfelt endeavor infused with the sort of epically romantic side of vampirism whose rise in the ranks of pop culture is held largely responsible by the likes of Anne Rice's works.  The characters and their situations are told in first person and with a very cultured, aristocratic flavor reminiscent of that sort of sub-genre, and this particular work made me want to envision it more as a Victorian period piece and I had to repeatedly remind myself that it was set in a time as contemporary as Burger King.

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(All reviews copyright © 2004, 2005 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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    Additionally, Lost Hunger gave me the feeling of reading a diary, and the impression that the author was struggling between a written exhibition of raw longing and emotion, and maintaining a proper and lady-like presentation.  It works well that way at times, because the read-between-the-lines conflict of the author finding her voice as a writer runs down the same rapids as Daenara Tereus (Robinson's main character) and her passionate longing to become a vampire, longing to know the face behind the unknown shadow forever watching her from behind every corner.  The real point I'm trying to make goes even further, for after reading the book I find it evident that there's plenty of natural talent in Robinson's blood to make her one hell of a writer in the same way Daenara is revealed to have vampire blood in her, all along.  The similarities are apparent, and I'm sure Angel as well as her accumulating number of fans wouldn't disagree.

     It's a great work for a first novel in that some of its flaws are responsible for some of its magic and appeal in what could otherwise have been a redundant clichι of just another novel about vampires dwelling in human society.  What we've got here, on one hand, is the work of a young writer who takes her career more seriously than a lot of seasoned writers I know, and on the other hand we've got a work shining not as a whole but with examples here and there of how well Robinson paints a picture, or how she develops a character, how she takes her time with Daenara's thoughts.  Robinson's writing often shares some of the same characteristics found in the beauty, charm and grace of a classic silver screen love story just because of its simplicity.   I recommend that Angel take more risks with her writing approach, see to it that her editors don't overlook so many grammatical and punctuation-related errors, and go wild with the written word, the storyflow, the drama, and the gritty instinct to strip down and tell it like it is in her head.....raw and uninhibited. 

     In the story, Daenara is haunted by personal horrors and mysteries past and present:  the death of her father, the enigma of her childhood, an endearing guardian, a vampire who wants her as much as she wants to be like him, watching her nightly from within the shadows.  She begins a journey into an eternity of darkness where a vampire lord wants her dead and she wants to live......undead.

     Not bad at all for a first attempt, and with sequels to follow, I believe just merely keeping an eye on Angelina Robinson would ultimately be to sell yourself short when looking for something fresh in a genre where freshness is hard to find.........don't just keep an eye on her, read her work and watch it blossom.   The Hunger Series promises to be more than merely a romantic vampire epic, but a series of progressive endeavors from a writer learning to exercise  her remarkable vision into something even darker, even more expressive, and all the more wonderful.

Shapelessness by Angie Hulme

(2005  Read more about the author & book here.


     Unaccustomed to reviewing book-length collections of poetry, I'd forced myself to make an exception from my preferable genre fiction with Angie Hulme's Shapelessness.  Angie is accomplished in the literary world with a most respectable body of work including the novels Disbelief, Virtually Real and her swansong After the Fairytale.

     In Shapelessness, Hulme explores

love and loss of love, anguish and profound emotion invoked by daily living, indepth thought and personal philosophy.  Entries such as "Grey," "I Want To Abolish Equality," and "Read the Turner Diaries" illustrate the poet's frustration with the current world and social climate, probably exhibited more preeminently in "Inevitable Darkness," where it's "easiest just to let go."  She personifies this despair and angst in "I'm Waiting.....," where the writer herself is the embodiment of all fear.

     Full of eloquent and timeless prose, Hulme weeps words well and exhibits true talent as effortlessly as downing a few drinks and taking the alone time required to do so.

     A moving exploration of human insight and feeling, passion and brilliant articulation, Angie Hulme's Shapelessness is an exceptional collective work.  

Pseudo-City by D. Harlan Wilson

(2005 Raw Dog Screaming Press)  Read more about the author & book here.


     "Mama didn't love me," the stick figure proclaimed as he stepped out of the manhole and established himself as the icon of Stick Figure Inc., a promotional entity of one D. Harlan Wilson, the author here and who, in the opinion of  this reviewer, holds particularly peculiar obsessions and/or phobias regarding obsessions and phobias.  I'm certain only Mr. Wilson would understand that.

     Pseudofollicilitis City is a

metaphorical metropolis of surrealistic, ideological, irrealist proportions, where an ingrown facial hair condition is a predominant social status in a world of Burroughs-esque interzones and city streetscapes.  Commuters fill its skyline harnessed into rocket back packs for as far as the eye can see, and handlebar moustaches are commonplace.  Facial hair has even been known to be sold on the street as pets with their very own leashes.  For that matter, a widow's peak may steal its owner's best suit and fly out the window to make a life of its own.  Famous fictional characters wage war to become real among the populace while not far away a dime store sells nothing but dimes.  In one of its innumerable town squares, dueling Air Guitarists (by licensed profession) gather the attentions of city-dwellers, some of which are teachers authorized to kill their students any way they'd please for any reason.  Down the street, there's a lonely human thumb protruding out of a sidewalk while overhead a naked man hangs by his toes from a lamppost as punishment for holding a business meeting in a public place.  Deep somewhere underground, a mantis-like behemoth produces the hats worn by every male in the city by coughing them up and placing them for sale upon a shelf.

      Wilson's writing is difficult to entirely convey in a review without presenting such examples of what to expect to find upon reading his work.  But you get the point, and I adore this sort of writing.  Wilson's style and flights of literary fancy are expressed in matter-of-fact narrative prose, taking himself seriously, and therein lies the humor and magic and allegorical majesty that is Pseudo-city.   

Wilson has primed himself in his craft for such an affair as this work's creation.  Its predecessors include the highly acclaimed The Kafka Effect and Stranger on the Loose; Wilson's published over a hundred stories to media around the world and he teaches college writing and literature.  He's been around the block,  his mental tapestry, body of work, and literary skill makes him a visionary, and readers who enjoy a good fix of great entertainment beyond conventional storytelling are in for a treat that doesn't bombard your head with laundered story formulations and the same old same old.  D. Harlan Wilson, you've won yet another fan!