Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review for THE WOMANIZER by Warren Adler

Title:  The Womanizer
Author:  Warren Adler
Publisher: Stonehouse Press
Genre: Literary fiction
Kindle eBook: $2.99
Trade Paperback: $9.95
ISBN-10: 1590060210
ISBN-13: 978-1590060216
Author’s website:

Warren Adler is a master student of the human mind, its inner workings, and the interesting, bizarre pathways that occur in (particularly) disturbed or non-heroic figures. In THE WOMANIZER, Mr. Adler delves into the life of Allen Harris, a man who has had three intense love affairs while being married to his adoring, long-time wife, and in his usual, inimitable fashion, the author evokes unexpected empathy for this seriously flawed character.

I despise the behavior of infidelity, (I believe marriage is forever unless there are some very bad extenuating circumstances, and I really look down on adulterers!), but Mr. Adler actually made me sympathize with his Mr. Harris. Now that's true talent. I admire the writer who can take a despicable man or villain and elicit sympathy from his readers, in spite of the awful truths that cannot be denied. Mr. Adler is very good at shades of gray in the literary painting of his characters; he provides a great example for those of us who always seek to improve our own writing and characterization.

The journey from current day reflection ("I am up for a new prestigious job, will they find out about my affairs and disqualify me?") to the intense and really convoluted thoughts flashing back to past relationships ("I really love my wife and would never leave her, I don't know why I'm doing this, but I'm still a good husband...") to the obsession about how deeply our protagonist must have affected the women with whom he had these affairs ("Will they seek revenge? Will they ruin my chances?") to the deeper, darker thoughts that made me wonder if this guy would simply kill them all to shut them up...  it was quite a ride!

Here is a passage that depicts the inner workings of Mr. Harris's delusional brain, with apologies to Mr. Adler for removing a few of the more provocative words for the sake of making this review easily accessible to all:

"In a strange way, time had distorted the old fear. Once his primary anxiety had been exposure, blatant, in-your-face exposure, a full-blown confrontation, in the midst of, as they say, flagrante delicto in living color, imagined as a kind of movie in his mind. There he would be, caught in the act by someone, a photographer perhaps, disengaging in panic, revealed with moist dwindling tumescence, his skin flushed pink by aborted passion and embarrassment, while his partner of the moment was poised and ready. There they would be the three of them in a tableau of expectation, rage, shame, and humiliation.

Explanation would be impossible, although he had gone over the possibilities in his mind again and again. He would have had to compound the felony with meaningless protestations as if the female human he had held in thrall at that moment did not exist, was an illusion, a kind of ghost. It was nothing, he might whine, merely a roll in the hay, a passing moment of pure lust, “commanded by the one-eyed monster,” as McNaughton, his partner, a blatant philanderer, put it often. The truth lay elsewhere. He could, of course, find excuses and rationalizations like Sandborn’s contorted explanation, implying the ruthlessness of the male libido, which could attack self-discipline like a virus.*"

*Adler, Warren (2010-09-23). The Womanizer (Kindle Locations 1515-1520). Stonehouse Press. Kindle Edition.

There is a lovely surprise twist toward the end, and although it felt like the very end was a little abruptly ended (my humble opinion), it is worth the read, especially to those who marvel at the capacity of the human mind to delude itself.

Mr. Adler professes to write "genre-less" fiction. If pressed to assign a genre, I'd say this falls into literary fiction or psychological drama. Not that it matters, it's still a fascinating read.

Recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar,

Friday, June 08, 2012

Book Review: Trust Your Life by Noelle Sterne, review by Aaron Lazar

Author:  Noelle Sterne, Ph.D.
Publisher: Unity Books
Genre: Inspirational/Spiritual, 295 pages
ISBN-10: 0871593513
ISBN-13: 978-0871593511
ASIN: Print: 15.95; Kindle eBook: $9.99
Author’s website:

In Noelle Sterne’s new inspirational book, TRUST YOUR LIFE, she offers us a fresh opportunity to examine our lives and embrace our suppressed dreams. How many people do you know who lament about their unfound dreams, who wish they’d tried their hand at painting (for example), but “knew” they weren’t good enough? Do you know people who brood about the thought of opening their own bakery, or any other business, and don’t because they’re certain they just don’t have what it takes?

Dreams like this abound on every street corner, in every office, in every home, and probably in every heart. Yet many people resign themselves to an unfulfilled life, feeling incapable of change.

TRUST YOUR LIFE is an outgrowth of Ms. Sterne’s twenty-eight-year consulting and editorial practice, in which she serves clients pursuing graduate degrees and in other spheres of academia, as well as business and creative projects. With a Ph. D from Columbia University, Ms. Sterne offers a wealth of knowledge and experience not only from an academic perspective but from a spiritual aspect as well.

With her insightful, motivational examples, Ms. Sterne lovingly guides us in easy-to-read, step-by-step methods to help us believe and achieve our lifelong dreams.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 10, “Take the Leap: Believe in Your Dream and Deserve It”:

Many years ago, during my typing years, in a session with a psychic (the only time I ever went), I sobbed, “All I ever do is type. How can I ever get out of this and start writing in earnest?”
Jean’s answer has stuck with me for decades and makes ultimate sense:
“Accept where you are now. However hard it is, impossible, love it. Love it 100% and more. The more you love it, the sooner you’ll shoot out from it.”
At her words, the image burst into my mind of a large, strong bird fluttering its wings and emerging from a leaf-covered nest. It spread its wings and soared into the sky.
Can you love where you are? This is part of your lesson and discipline. Focus only on loving it, despite all the gripes, impossible duties, demands, people, schedules. The sooner you start loving where you are, the sooner you’ll no longer need it and the faster you’ll soar from it.

Well-researched and chock full of delicious quotes from Thoreau to Jesus, this spiritual and grounded guide will connect with the hearts of people who toil in unhappy circumstances, or feel they are victims of God’s frivolous will. Ms. Sterne addresses these misconceptions with head-on confrontation and plenty of self-bolstering techniques.

As an author, professional, and family man, I feel motivated by uplifting words such as these, and I believe readers of this book will as well.  Ms. Sterne’s personal stories, her own and those of many others, are easy to relate to and present wonderful testimonies that set examples for all of us.

I’m confident that TRUST YOUR LIFE will birth or bring along a host of talented artists and dancers, farmers and singers, potters, bakers, and horsemen. This book will help them—and all of us—take hold of the dreams we yearn for, follow them, and fill our new lives with moments of delirious joy. It will show us that our dreams are, indeed, infinitely achievable.

Recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar, mystery author and columnist,

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Book Review: Listen to the Shadows by Joan Hall Hovey, review by Aaron Lazar

Author:  Joan Hall Hovey
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Suspense, 298 pages
Price: Kindle eBook: $3.99
Author’s personal website:

I must say right up front that I have been a fan of Joan Hall Hovey since I read CHILL WATERS a few years ago. After that, I sought each release with the same excitement I do for new books by bestselling authors like Dean Koontz. I’ve read all of Ms. Hovey’s books, and simply loved them.

That’s why it was so fascinating to read Ms. Hovey’s very first novel, LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS, which is now available as an eBook.

Completely aside from the entertaining plot, from a writer’s point of view I enjoyed glimpsing the emerging elements of this grand lady’s talent in her early work: the wonderful scene-setting, the bone-chilling fear she instills, the creepy villain(s), and the underlying romantic tension. Although not as developed as her current day works, the story was most enjoyable, and I found myself flying through the pages to discover what would happen to her likeable protagonist.

The plot is intriguing: artist Kate Summers is stalked by an unknown assailant; a definite nutcase who tortures her in a very disturbing fashion, setting up straw figures in her car and home to horrify her at the most unexpected moments, lurking in the background, in those decidedly frightening shadows. And to balance that creepiness, there’s a dark and troubled yet quite intriguing psychiatrist to whom Kate Summers is drawn, a nice counterpoint to the villainous happenings. I also particularly enjoyed the well-drawn and engaging character of Kate’s friend, Jason Belding.

 My favorite scenes were those by Black Lake in the house Kate inherited from her dear departed aunt. I smelled the fragrance of the water and pines, and felt the old floorboards creaking when I walked over them with Kate. When the protagonist felt chilled in the unheated cottage, I reached for a blanket.

These are some of the skills at which Ms. Hovey excels.

Another setting I enjoyed was the damp, dark cellar of the old house. Wow, great action, tension, and suspense happened down there in that very creepy locale. Well done, Ms. Hovey.

Most authors learn as they progress, and I’m not different. I am prouder of my later books than my first or second or third, and I can see the progression quite clearly in all of Ms. Hovey’s works. They just keep getting better and better, but this early book is most enjoyable. I gave it five stars because I’ve read all the others and they are definitely five plus, plus stars. It’s hard to judge when you’re comparing against an author’s more advanced works, isn’t it?

I’m looking forward with great anticipation to Ms. Joan Hall Hovey’s next release, and hoping it comes soon.

Recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar, author of three award-winning mystery series at

Friday, June 01, 2012

Writer's Rant (My name is not Paul!)

 (an older pic of me from 1987 - look at that dark beard and hair! LOL)

When I published the first edition of DOUBLE FORTÉ back in 2004, I had to decide how I'd brand myself as an author. That started, of course, with my "author's name." At first I chose a pen name - "Jack Beauregarde". I was pretty happy with it - after all, there are many beloved "Jack's" in our country's history! But soon I was chastised by a colleague who convinced me to just be me, and to use my own name on the cover.

So I thought about authorly sounding presentations. Aaron Lazar seemed boring. Aaron P Lazar seemed weird. Aaron Paul Lazar (my real, full name) sounded a little pretentious, but it also reminded me of other author's who have used their middle names to distinguish themselves from other folks with their name.

When I tried to start up my website, I soon learned that there was indeed another Aaron Lazar (an actor from NYC) who already had, and it was at that point I realized it might be a good idea to include the middle name. Here's how it looks on my book covers:

So, I made my decision and stuck with it all these years. It's worked for the most part, but now I deal with this WEIRD situation all the time.

People keep calling me PAUL.

Why is that???? It drives me kind of nuts. I'm telling you, it happens all the time - either at book signings or on Twitter or on Facebook.

I could see if I used my first initial, like A. Paul Lazar. Then of course people assume you don't want to use your first name and you go by your middle name.


So what's up with this?

Guess I'll never know.

While we're on the subject, let me rant a little more. The other day I was on a longgggg and exhausting call with our medical supply company. This call could warrant another whole rant, but let me just say that the third person I talked to asked me my name (again). I told him, and he said, "E-R-I-N?" I tried not to flip out, because over the years this frustration has been building in me. The poor guy probably didn't know why I answered in such a loud voice. "NO. That's the GIRL's name!" I felt bad afterwards, and apologized, but we got past that. Anyway...

Why don't people understand the difference between AARON and ERIN? Aaron is the guy's name, Erin is the girl's name. And unless you live in Rochester, NY (where they pronounce them both like AERON with a nasal twist), they don't even SOUND alike.

The "a's" in AARON are pronounced like the "a" in APPLE. Doesn't everyone say "apple" the same way?

The "e" in ERIN is pronounded like the "e" in "EGG."

How simple is that? If you remember your phonics from grade school, that's a "short a" and a "short e." Least it was in my school.

I guess it's pretty silly to get upset about such mundane things. But once in a while you have to get things off your chest, don't you?

Do you have any stories like that about your name? Share below in the comments section.

Remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar (Please don't call me Paul!)