Showing posts with label hawaiian lei of shrunken heads. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hawaiian lei of shrunken heads. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Book Review: Flings With Rings by Katerina Sestakova Novotna



Evelina is a Hawaiian beauty with a strange hobby: she collects engagement rings from successful men without intending to marry them. She is showing her collection to a pious friend while revealing her secret tricks and opinions on men. Evelina's motivation to share her life story seems as mysterious as the reason why her friend keeps listening and asking questions despite their strong disagreement. Will Evelina's behaviour ever catch up on her? 


Flings With Rings introduces us to Evelina, a woman on a quest to collect rings from men but not necessarily with a view to capture them as husbands, but to use and discard them as needed.

Told through a first person perspective, the friend of Evelina sees her acts through her eyes and hears them through her ears. She appears to be a more refined and decent woman, and is practically horrified at what she hears coming out of Evelina’s mouth.

However, it is hard to dismiss Evelina entirely. The half-Japanese half-Hawaiian beauty knows what she’s got and she is not shy to flaunt it.

She accurately depicts the well held view that men do want flings but not the commitment that a wedding ring would involve. As our first person point of view identifies, a ring should indeed symbolise love, but Evelina’s point is hard to dismiss entirely – she mentions how if a wedding ring was so special, it would be worn on more intimate parts of the body. That’s true, if not rather impractical.

"You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets."

Men would find it easy to dismiss Evelina as easily as she appears to dismiss them. Whether she is a likeable character or not is up to the reader to decide. For my own viewpoint, I found Evelina not the kind of woman I would want to know, but at the same time, she is not the kind of girl one would find easy to ignore. Moths to a flame, perhaps.

The twists in the story are many, but one that readers may enjoy and is not a spoiler to say so is that Evelina gets more joy out of collecting engagement rings than actually wedding rings.

Evelina does not ply her trade on every man though, she takes a perverse enjoyment in taunting one particular man. You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets.

As usual for the author, one can feel more enlightened and educated from reading her books. Flings With Rings is a short story, but not so short that you feel short changed. The story is packed with a really interesting character dynamic – we almost want Evelina to fail against somebody, but at the same time it is hard to deny that she has a logic to her actions that in her place, we would almost agree with.

The story is a clever and insightful study of marriage, it just utilises an interesting counterpoint about what men and women really want.

What I really like about this story is that it is brave enough to suggest that the best times are after an engagement but before a marriage. Not a lot of people say this kind of thing. Many would say that sex, at least in those initial months of marriage is the best, but this is not always the case, nor should it be, if we are honest with ourselves.

The story works not necessarily because we could relate to Evelina’s outrageous hobby, but perhaps because we cannot relate to it. She is a woman on a mission all of her own. Readers can condemn her, be fascinated by her, but one thing is for certain – she cannot be ignored.

Her looks are one thing – but maybe she has a dynamism about her that men cannot help being attracted to, and women might just appreciate her stance on men, sex and marriage to a larger extent than they may openly agree with.

Arguably Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s best written book to date, but in her growing library of works, there is some tough competition.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Book Review: Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist by Katerina Sestakova Novotna

Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist: Power of Kratom and Opiates by [Sestakova Novotna, Katerina]


Eric is a selfish man who likes to come back to his exes for sex and money, but he does not pursue them as hard as he pursues new girls. Miriam, a student of psychology, becomes an exception to his rules. Three years after their break-up, the woman he thought he knew all too well to be impressed with suddenly claims to be able to guide people into a magical 4D porn experience.

Eric is trying to earn his place in Miriam’s privileged circle, but the girl who purports to be a therapist like no other is remarkably unstable herself. Eric suspects that she may have a different agenda than to entertain him, but the promise of a new form of sexual bliss seems worth the risk. 

Does she want him back? Does she want to cure him? Does she want her revenge? It’s not clear what Miriam truly wants, but her wishes do not matter to Eric as long as he gets what he wants. But his own goals change, too, as the time goes on.

Miriam volunteers to be Eric’s guide in his psychedelic experience, but she also unintentionally becomes his teacher. He wants to learn to guide and fix others before he is fixed.


With wave after wave of social media sites, endless places to post photos and info about ourselves, I wonder if we aren’t all narcissists in some way. In Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s follow up to her 2014 debut novel, perhaps we are challenged to consider the possibility.

It is difficult to categorise Eric, our main narrator in Psychedelic Cure of a Narcissist, because he is not a hero in the traditional sense. He is not necessarily a victim either. But he is the narcissist of the title, whether he knows it or not.

Meeting women is not a problem for Eric, as three of them- Miriam, Magda and Monica feature heavily through this story and throughout. It’s fair to say that Eric does not treat them well, as psychology student Miriam points out the tale of Narcissus to a bemused and disinterested Eric.

He dismisses her position as psychobabble, but the author takes an honest approach through a first person narrative. Eric does at least admit the possibility that he is a narcissist.

It’s easy for him to dismiss blonde-haired, blue eyed Miriam. To him, she just seems like a piece of ass to use, abuse and discard. She’s rather too good at analysing him though, which he appears to dislike intensely. Meeting half Japanese-half Tahitian Magda means he moves on, but is never quite out of Miriam’s shadow.

He hurt her, so she intends to hurt him by refusing to get back with him. Miriam only considers Eric now in her position as a therapist. He is being led on a dance, but doesn’t appear to mind it so long as he can get what he wants from it.

His interest is piqued above petty and unsatisfying masturbation when Miriam introduces him to the idea of psychedelic substances. He is initially appalled, but the idea of being able to have sex with many women at the same time or that he could orgasm from different parts of his body fascinated him. Even when Miriam would talk about Eric’s gay friend Peter in ways that horrified him, his narcissistic personality kept going back for more.

Some men can cope with just one woman in their lives. Others need many to validate their own machismo. Eric appears to be the latter. As he says in one scene, he does not want to put himself in the hands of one woman; whilst at the same time acknowledging Miriam has rejected him and will only now see him as one of her guinea pigs.

As interesting as the Miriam—Eric dynamic is, it is the Eric – Magda coupling that takes the book into literally another universe. With the introduction of herbal wonder tea Kratom into the mix, a substance that is basically just crushed leaves or powder, Eric begins to depend on it, just like he depends on being sexually available for Miriam and controlling aspects of Magda. But I think the author raises another important point here - just what is it that we are addicted to, and why are some things banned, while others are not? Too much coffee can affect people in pretty much the same way.

"This book challenges us on many levels."

No. We are allowed to poison our bodies with cigarettes and alcohol because the government makes huge money out of it through taxes. The double standards are astonishing. However, kratom is not addictive unless the user cannot handle the high as well as the low. Indeed it has less negative effects than alcohol, the abuse of which is well known.

This book challenges us on many levels. What is acceptable in a relationship, what happens when fantasy crosses into reality, what happens when a harmless substance becomes either addictive or a tool with which to control others?

And this barely scratches the surface of this superlative work.

Enthralling as it is disturbing, one has to read this book. It is for adults only – but for some development of body did not go hand in hand with development of mind (some people just never really joined the two together, did they?) maybe some of them should read this too.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Book Review: Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads by Katerina Sestakova Novotna


What a deliciously odd and strange collection of stories Hawaiian Lei of Shrunken Heads is. I looked at the book cover several times, searching for its meaning as I completed each short story in the book. Perhaps there is a meaning, perhaps not. But what is clear that this author knows how to pull you into a story. I mean - really pull you in. At times, with the author's sweeping narrative and multi-layered plot details(albeit more prevalent in some stories than others) I really felt like I was either one of the characters, or indeed that I was in some kind of dream state.

Every little detail Katerina Sestakova Novotna has added to her stories simply enhance, never take away. There is no information dump here.

But as to what the stories are about, this is less clear how to objectively review. You see, when I read a book, I am not sways by the reviews it already has. I like to make up my own mind before seeing what others have said about it. That said, I can't remember reading a book that is so hard to categorise. On one level, it is a collection of mysteries. On another, it is an incredible informative work about Hawaiiwan culture, and running parallel to this, how the author fitted into this culture herself.

This may seem a strange reference, but it works as a guide to the islands as well as the mini-cultures that are contained within.

All these elements are fun to note, but let's take it at face value. The author has created a series of creepy works that pull you in, and you actually feel like you are being one of the characters meeting a less than stellar end in the story. To say 'I never saw that coming' is an understatement, but the author is much more clever than that. It may be obvious that something is not quite right.

I found myself screaming at the book, saying 'can't you see? This is wrong? Why can't you see it the way I do?!' But that is all part of the dark and grisly fun.

Some reviews have called this work 'original', and with that I entirely concur.

It's original, clever and most pointedly, makes you pause, think and reflect on each tale. I think my favourite was 'The Girl Who was Afraid At night', but each tale is its own awesome gem.