48 Guilty Read 001

First Love by Tiya Rayne – 4/22/2018

Zora Henderson and Luke Trent were high school sweethearts, star-crossed in all the ways that make young lovers forsake all for each other.   They live in Richland South Carolina, a racially polarized town that is personally offended that the two 17-year-olds want to be together.     Zora and Luke put-a-cracker-on1 their relationship by getting pregnant.    She is the youngest daughter of a prestigious Southern Black Family and he is the son of a White drunk factory worker.   Who would be opposed to something like that?  Zora’s whole damn family of course.  Zora feels she would be imposing on Luke’s future livelihood, he was offered an athletic scholarship. She dumps him, by telling him she wasn’t having his baby.  She adds to it by claiming he isn’t shit and won’t be shit, Ever!  Then she fakes an abortion and runs away to the City of Chicago with her gay cousin Sean.

Eight years later, Zora returned to Richland, after hearing her father was in the hospital. She had cut herself off from her family, to raise her child.  Zora reveals that now she has a 7-year old daughter Peyton.   The family accepts the child with open arms more than they accept Zora.

Luke return to Richland to hide from the media and to check up on his sister and two sons.  The only relatives he likes.  Zora and Luke meet each other at some random spot in the town.  Zora decides to keep Peyton a secret. She believes it is better for the everyone since Luke is engaged.  However, they are attracted to each other like addicts. Their good intentions to be “just friends” goes to hell with gasoline draws.  Zora’s secret is thwarted by fate, father and daughter meet each other and develop an instant rapport.

The past is dredged up for Luke and Zora, in several WTF ways proving if you plan to go home again, walk with a stick.    Luke’s reputation is sullied and of course, Zora’s is dragged through the mud and crapped on.  Peace is made with the families Luke’s, as well as Zora’s and all the secret things, are made known.  Can you guess the biggest reveal?

After going through media windmill Zora and Luke settle down for their HEA, with Peyton of course and new babies on the way.

Why did I write this synopsis?  I have been trying to tell myself that I didn’t care about this book.  But it is one of the few books I have taken time to read from page 1 to the end.   Why is it important?  It has been a while since I read a book and this book was read on my Kindle unlimited for “free”.   Many of my reviews are listened to and read along with.  First love is significant because I don’t know if it audio or not.    The Romance genre, in general, is not viewed well despite the sales and blockbuster money it makes.   I never planned to review a romance novel on the Jo-Ex.  However, I decided a while ago to review everything I like this will include any book of any genre that I take an interest in, film, music, TV, animations, and anime (it may not seem like a difference but there is).   This brings me back to First love.  Did I like this book?  Honestly, I come up blank when thinking about it.   I don’t exactly have a grading system.    So, I went to the pros vs. contras route.  The cons outweigh the pros and that might be why I like this book?   It is quite the epiphany to realize that I like this book because it is bad.
Cover-my-face-in- shame emoji here2.

Reader if you are the type that doesn’t think too deeply about your romance novels, and your reading skills developed in the height of the “Young Adult” book craze.  Then this book is exactly what you want, and it will be fine.   If you are like a writer like me, the fifth flashback will have you through the book across the room.   This book was saved as an ebook on the Kindle app of my precious cellphone.   The book had me reading just to see how this writer chose to weave this story to a plausible end.   It was Harlequin worthy.

I am going to briefly discuss two pros and three cons because I did say the contras outweighed the pros.     Pro – It was a BWWM book, however, I prefer calling the subgenre IR; BWWM is just too specific a label that I don’t like it.  I am an equal opportunity romance reader at least I try to be.  Con- First-person Point of View times 2.  This is a personal peeve of mine.  POV’s Zora and Luke’s.  Which made it even-steven on the romance scale.   But seemed to slow down the story in many ways.

Pro – Reunion romance.  It is a fave sub-genre for me since I saw Persuasion by Jane Austen on Masterpiece Theater.  I am a sucker for broken sweethearts becoming lovers again.

Con-  the unofficial prologue, followed by the many flashbacks.   The story would have worked with one or the other.  They didn’t need both.  Think about the structure of this story, two people explaining how they became lovers again.  They constantly stop to remember the first time they had sex and possibly the time they got pregnant.   It was already established in the unofficial prologue.  This author perpetuated the most heinous crime for a writer redundancy.

Con- This story included racism, bullying, attempted rape, assault, verbal and emotional abuse.  I don’t think these issues were dealt with effectively.  The main female character was isolated, abused and her family was oblivious to it all.   She was her daddy’s favorite and she couldn’t tell him that she was assaulted by someone they knew.  In fact, she told no one in her family and no one of them suspected either.

I stated earlier that if a reader is a fan of young adult novels, you may not find the pace or believability of the story to be off.   Tiya Rayne is a pen name for the author who writes YA under her real name.   This adult romance reads like a YA book.  Not sure if that was the author’s intention.  My recommendation is to read this book if you can get it from the library or on your Kindle Unlimited.



  1. Put-a-cracker-on it means if you think this situation is bad, a cracker can’t make it worse.
  2. There is the picture for this emoji.
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#47 Anime Review



By Kore Yamazaki; Aya Takaha
Directed by Norihiro Naganume
Studio Wit Studio.
Music by Junichi Matsumoto

Another Beauty and the Beast

Chise Hatori is a 15-year-old orphan girl haunted by creatures that no one else around her can see.  This ability has always been with her and it has been a problem her whole life.   Since her mother died, she has been passed around by reluctant family. Ostracized and vilified for the things she sees and her reactions to it. Abandoned and emotionally abused, she willingly sells herself on the supernatural black market, to whatever end (actual words from anime).

It is a strange luck for Chise to be bought by the Thorn Mage, Elias Ainsworth.  He is a unique creature, a man’s body but an animal’s skull with horns for a head.   He looks as dangerous as he appears.  However, his manners are impeccable.  He announces to all in the auction house that Chise will be his new Apprentice.

It is an event since Elias has lived in seclusion for many years.  It seems that Chise’s rare and highly prized ability has brought him out of isolation.    Elias takes Chise into his home, in England.   He does her the honor of telling her exactly what she is.  It is called a Sleigh beggy.  She attracts faery creatures to her.   People like Chise are rare and don’t live long.  The analogy is that she is like a Queen Bee to faery creatures; they like to be near her and they will do her bidding.  It is a blessing and a curse.  For Chise it has been all curse.   This all changes with the help of Elias and other interesting characters.  At the end of the first episode, Elias also informs Chise that he wishes to marry her.  Hence the title.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride a.k.a. Maho Tsuki No Yume has a movie and an anime series.  It is based on a manga of the same name.  I don’t know any animes that are called different.   Its creator is Kore Yamazaki. I have never read the manga, I can only talk about what I have seen in the anime. I watched it through vrv.co/crunchyroll.com, subtitled but the English version is now available on vrv.co and Funimation.com.  I don’t have a dub or sub bias.  I’m sure the manga has more interesting facts about all the characters.  The ones introduced in the 13-episode anime besides Elias and Chise are Silver- the fae landlady, housekeeper, Ruth-Chise’s black dog familiar, Angelica Varley, her daughter Althea, Hugo – Angelica’s familiar, Lidenbaum (Lindel)- Elias’s master and dragon keeper, the priest-Simon Kalm, an alchemist-Michael Renfred and Alice his apprentice.  There is also a vicious sad creature named Cartaphilius but prefers to be called Joseph and all the creatures of faery, most prominent Queen Titania, King Oberon, Spriggan and the Leanansidhe.

Each episode Chise learns something about the magical world and the something about herself.  She falls in love with Elias despite his monstrous appearance.  I believe Elias is also in love with her but has never had the experience so is very inept, despite his vast knowledge and age.   I am not keen on this May 3000 BC/ December relationship trope,    common in many manga/animes and any young adult paranormal books.   Chise in the beginning of the anime is a totally defeated character.  She doesn’t know what love, kindness or care is.  Elias from the beginning give her kindness and care, it wins her loyalty.  I admire that in this anime since many have the male lead playfully or psychotically abusing the female lead.  Elias may be brutally honest, but he is also very vulnerable because of Chise.    Most of it is shown in his voice since a skull has no facial expression.

The manga/anime is under the shonen demographic due to the action.  It is also a romance with high stakes I believe.   Chise and Elias need each other or they both won’t survive.   Chise needs Elias’ help to live. He is showing her how to take back her life and giving her a much-needed home.  I have a suspicion that Elias needs Chise to keep him human-like.  In the words of the movie Jerry McGuire, they complete each other.

Although the stories are vastly completely different, I can’t help comparing the Ancient Magus’ Bride to Appleseed.  It is the only other story I know where the male lead does not have a face, and there was a subplot not really developed that felt like beauty and the beast.

This essay began when only 12 episodes were watched.  I was not sure the anime would continue, because of my fringe status I was not aware of how popular the Ancient Magus’ Bride is.   It felt like the series had reached an arc, Chise decided to return to Elias despite learning some disturbing truths about his past.  There were other cliffhangers that which I hoped will be resolved.  Fortunately, there is more to see and at the end of the season, I may have to write a follow-up post.   My overall thoughts on the anime are that it an interesting world to look at; the story is compelling, and I recommend it to anyone who wants experience unique feelings along with their action-filled anime.

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#46 Review


A new Ancient Egypt Mythology

By Paul Louise Julie
Published by Midas Monkee 2015

Brothers Khenti and Nekhat are two of Nubian assassins for the Pharaoh of the Northern Lotus Kingdom, known as the Shadows. They are very efficient agents, and their pivotal mission combines the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Egypt. The Shadows are given all they could desire except their freedom.  A longing for home compelled the brothers to cross a line no one expected.  They become fugitives on the run from the whole Egyptian Army.  Khenti encounters a wolf.  It bites him and nearly kills him.  He shares this burden with his brother who delights at the new abilities.   The brothers form a band of outlaws.  It consists mostly of men and only one woman is turned with intent.  She is Egyptian woman, a former slave different from the Nubian brothers.  They found her dear dead in the desert and one of the brothers, Khenti felt a need to save her.

Meanwhile, in the court of the Pharaoh, Akhenaton, has been given the crown, crook, and flail.  He is as vicious as his father.  However, he not only wants the lower and upper kingdom, He seeks the undermining of the ruling Egyptian gods.  The only people opposing him are Queen Nefertiri and the temple of Anubis. It all seems like a coincidence I think not.

Issue 1 is misleading, the description has me presuming the brother were already wolves.  Instead, this is the origin story.  We are introduced to the brothers.  We see that they have opposing but complementary personalities. The circumstances could be envied, and they don’t want it.  The Pharaoh is an arrogant cruel entitled person obviously plotting.


Issue 2 – the brothers still on the run, are united.  Khenti shares his gift with his brother.    The well trained Egyptian army is not prepared.  The pharaoh is well aware of the shapeshifters but purposely denies this to the detriment of loyal servants.  He calls up a different band of assassins different and deadlier than the shadows.    It is also made clear that he is corrupt, a follower of Sobek and knows something that is not common to the people.  Along with his brother, Khenti makes two other shifters, the woman found near dead in the desert and a young man the wolf left for dead.

Issue 3 –  the brothers set up in a city, establish a band of outlaws, become crime lords.    The Sobe-ka still hunt them and kills the people who knew them.

The Pharaoh Akhenaton seeks to force the High Priest of the Egyptian gods to convert to the following of Sobek.  All capitulate except the High Priest of Anubis.

The band of Outlaws takes on a job that is too much for them to handle.  Only the four survive- Khenti, Nekhet Nephti, and Mizra, barely.

The pack for me ended on a cliffhanger.  Midas Monkee promises three new issues of the series but they are not available through Comixology.   It looked like they would have to be acquired from the source, Midas Monkee.com but they are not yet available there either.  The covers look interesting though.     The characters were left in dire straights how they get out of it and find their true purpose will be so entertaining and interesting.  Is it obvious, I like this series? It has me thinking up fanfiction scenarios.  I am partly envious and awed by Paul Louise Julie.  One of these days my graphic novel will be out there.

In conclusion, anything by Midas Monkee should be looked at. They have wonderful covers, with intriguing titles.  It would be nice if they also add an excerpt or description.  I will be appeasing myself with the other title, they have been promoting for 2017.  Not sure when something will be written about it.


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45 Resolutions

Happy New Year!

The  Sorry-for-not-being consistent paragraph will be skipped.  It takes up time and this is a new year.  Nothing can be perfect, the work and acquiring the dream is all about getting it done.

The writing resolution is to find ways to maintain achievable goals.   Not going to enter the debate about the benefit or lack of resolutions.  I like making them.  Completing is a benefit.  I believe making the resolution is about having hope.

What is instore for the Jo Experiment Review Blog?   The stack is high, and I will do everything in within my skill as a writer to keep the promises I made.  I will also be adding reviews on other forms of media.  I have already reviewed graphic novels, expect more of them.  I did mention that I am a big anime and K-drama fan, to break up the monotony.   I will like to discuss those shows and well.  There may also be a classic review post or new classic review.  Not sure if I will add movies from the theaters, since the last movie I saw in the theaters had me wishing I could get the person who paid for it money back.  It would require me becoming a matinee queen.  It something to think about.  I doubt I will ever be cutting edge and up to date, but they will be interesting.

As always feel free to leave a comment.



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44 Up to Date

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.

Keri Russell


Over the last four months since the last blog entry, the creative wells to write reviews dried up.  Did this mean I stopped listening or reading books?  Hell Nah!  I live vicariously through fiction.   There is always something lined up.  I have also been watching anime and K dramas.   It has been a journey going through the many episodes of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.  I am not even done with that yet.  A couple of scheduled books that were of interest to me were finally released.  There is also my own fiction and the several projects that are in development.


In my last entry, I spoke about Daniel Jose Older’s Bone Street Rumba series.  In the past, I have written about Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives series.  These two series have one thing in common, I’m a fan of the worlds these writers created and I’m jealous I didn’t come up with it myself.  These worlds are completely opposite, one being an alternate world fantasy and the other being an urban fantasy.  However, they have similar issues, racism, corrupted systems of government, love, broken hearts, revolution.   The tales are told in an entertaining inspirational way.  However, since I am setting a standard for my reviews, I was never satisfied with what I wrote about the volumes of the story I have.   The Bone Street Rumba series is complete and Mr. Older has moved on to his Shadow Shaper series and Star Wars book I think.   Kate Elliott’s third book in the Court of Fives Series was just released last month.  There was no reminder set.   Since I know the term never say die, I will persevere and eventually, a review for the Court of Fives series and the Bone Street Rumba will be posted.  Until then be whelmed by other stories that have interested me and inspired me to share my thoughts with you all.


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43 Best Intentions for Reviews

If there is no struggle, there is no progress -Fredrick Douglass

It has been a long time since a review has been posted on the Jo Experiment Blog.  It has been a struggle to maintain creativity.  There are several reviews in development but none are complete and it had become frustrating.   The raison d’etre for this website/blog was in question. Why was I  working on it and what was being written?    These are the answers; the Jo Experiment Blog are about reviews that should inform and entertain.  They are written for two reasons, to share thoughts about various works of fiction and media and an exercise to expand the skill of the writer.  The focus would be on speculative fiction but would include other genres and literary works.  It would also include audiobooks as well as music and visual media, new and old because why the hell not.


Those are the goals for the JoEx in 140 words or less.   The word count for a proper entry is 500 or more words.  This is the personal challenge for the writer and allegedly the standard word count for blog entries.  It is only going to be mentioned until it is no longer needed.   The tactic is used to keep the mind in the game and has worked in previous challenges.

This paragraph is going to be about the struggle of the several reviews.  Three or Four reviews were started in 2016.  One book was a standalone, the other two were part of a two different young adult or new adult series.  The desire for the reviews to be more objective and less subjective has been a real issue.  It stopped being fun and the authenticity was in question.  Various books on how to write were consulted.  But nothing brought back the muse.  That was the time when any writing reference book or expert will suggest to work through the creative doldrum.  It was also the time when the personal life took precedence.  The end of 2016 was dark and had absolutely nothing to do with politics.  In one of these website/blogs, there should be a full disclosure entry.  But this is not the place for that.  Fortunately, this is the time to fight though. It has been under consideration to cut my ties of stagnant reviews and begin something new.  The consumption of new media didn’t stop.   There is a lot of books and tv/internet shows on the list and new things premiering every month.    However, the only thing this writer wants to quit is quitting.  She will endeavor to be the writer she tweets about on twitter and make it fun.

In conclusion, the Jo Experiment Blog Review is quietly re-re-relaunching itself for 2017.  It will finish what it started, the Court of Fives by Kate Elliott and Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson.  These two books, especially Court of Fives, because it was mention on twitter.  Sister Mine because the novel was fun and the narrator deserves some props.  It will also include recent reviews; the Bone Street Rumba series was completed and there are a few guilty pleasure books that should get a review.  In fact, there are several guilty pleasure series that are like chicken soup for this writer and should get mentioned. Wrinkled but not forgotten this writer will continue to put forth something of interest.

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#42 Update

Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.-Buddha

gold-light-heart-bedroompcIt has been some time since I have posted on this site. It is the same for the other website/blogs.   2016 has been a really effed up year for me and it has nothing to do with the election.   Real life made serious issues and I got into a productivity slump.  It took nearly the whole year to get out of the slump especially since it wasn’t recognized for the trap that it was.  It was almost too late for me.    2016 began with so much potential.  I was becoming the writer, I called myself.  Promises were made that later became chains as time moved on. Personal deadlines were either pushed back or missed completely.  Apologies were made where they could be and the whole situation was agonized over.  Writing never completely stopped, there are several drafts of blog essays that will never be seen.  I did stop posting which is bad for the website/blogs, this brand is built on content.  I was feeling horrible and I didn’t know what to call it, frustration, ennui, listlessness, tired.  I went through all those words and I was getting angry about it.  Then sometime in the summer I started the morning pages again.  It is my 4th morning page book.  This time I kept to the rules of 3 pages, I didn’t keep to the time constraints because I am not a morning person.  In fact, I have a slight dislike for morning people.  The exercise reminded me why I need to be a writer.  Why I like fiction?  Why I like stories, that are sometimes books, which become movies and in some cases TV shows.  Everything gets connected.

This post was started in September the plan was to post it and use the remaining three months to bring the website/blogs out of the red.   Then as started earlier real life kicked me in the knees in October.  The month of my new beginnings.  There was no plan B and the wobbly beginnings were dusted.   Now it is December and 2017 are few weeks away.   It is the ultimate new beginning.  Adjusting to a new kind of life is difficult and isn’t quite mastered yet.  I like the poorly named thejoexperimentblog.com and I will continue to work on it.  I don’t know if my three cents about tv shows are worth it or not. But I will start adding them.  I will also admit to anyone reading, I am not the reader I used to be.  I’m an audio book listener and when I’m reviewing a book in that form I will disclose it.  I have passed the 300+ word count challenge it is time to up the stakes to 500+.  While I typed that I cringed believing I am setting myself up for failure again.  It has happened before.   Enough with that tangent, done with self-fulfilling prophecy.

It is the beginning of December and there is no law that stated, I can’t start my new beginnings now and take them into the new year.    At the end of this month with all my best wishes I will post some reviews of the books I have been reading or listening to. I am not professing perfection, this is only attempting to keep my word.


Peach Lotus


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