Monday, December 30, 2013

RUBY HEART Virtual Book Tour

Good morning, Blog Buds!  Welcome to today's stop for the RUBY HEART virtual blog tour.  Please comment to be entered in the drawing for a signed paperback of Ruby Heart plus a signed copy of book 1, Russian Dolls. (US ONLY)

 
Blurb:
 
When elderly client Doris Hargrave informs private investigator Alexandra Neve that her beloved antique ruby heart necklace has gone missing for the second time in a period of over sixty years, Alexandra knows this is no ordinary jewellery theft. The ruby heart is a family heirloom and the only thing that connects an ailing Mrs Hargrave to her parents, who were murdered during the Holocaust.

To solve the case, Alexandra and her business partner, blind history professor Ashford Egan, must sift through obscure Holocaust documents to find out the truth. It’s that way that they learn of a secret World War II-era love affair which could hold the key to all the answers they are looking for. Meanwhile, Egan is under immense pressure from the university to quit his private investigating business, and Alexandra is afraid that a man she trusts will leave her. Again.

When Alexandra begins to receive anonymous threats and her flat is vandalised, this all becomes personal. Knowing that there is someone out there to hurt her, Alexandra vows to find that elusive ruby heart if it’s the last thing she ever does.

Here's an excerpt:


I close the lipstick, drop it in the door pocket, then look back at the rear-view mirror and check my blond wig one last time. ‘I wouldn’t want to be doing all this for nothing.’

 

Egan ignores my comment and asks, ‘What’s your plan?’

 

‘Well, Mrs Hayder said her husband has a type when it comes to women—’ I tug at the wig a little ‘—I’m doing my best to fit the description.’

 

‘Which is?’ he asks, and I don’t need to look at him to know he’s smiling.

 

‘Tall, blonde, sexy and exotic.’

 

‘Exotic?’ he asks.

 

I frown at my own reflexion. ‘I hope Italian will be exotic enough for him. I’m not sure I’m able to use any other accent convincingly.’

 

‘I’m looking forward to that part,’ Egan chuckles, tapping the little earpiece he’s wearing. ‘And you’re really certain he’ll want to have a drink with you?’

 

‘In this dress?’ I ask. ‘I assure you he most definitely will. I’m going to go all Monica Belluci on him — he won’t know what’s hit him.’

 

‘Monica Who?’ he asks.

 

‘She’s a well-known actress. She’s all curves and very popular with the male population… some of the females too.’

 

Egan chuckles as I open the door and step out.

 

‘Just don’t miss your cue,’ I say, closing the door behind me.

 

I walk the length of the car and cross the street. There’s a bar on the other side, snuggled in-between two large office buildings.

 

I wobble on my heels and have to force myself to take slow measured steps. Porca vacca, it’s easier to walk in a straight line after hitting your head against a wall, than when wearing ten-inch heels — trust me, I’ve tried it.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now, hop on over to the other stops and comment for more chances to win!
 
January 1: Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
January 2: Musings and Ramblings
January 3: Brooke Blogs
January 6: Shelley's Book Case
January 7: IndieWritersReview PROMO
January 8: Writers and Authors
January 9: It's Raining Books
January 10: Critters at the Keyboard . . . .
January 13: Hope Dreams. Life... Love
January 14: Once Upon A Book REVIEW
January 15: Book Reviews by Dee
January 16: The eBook Promotions PROMO
January 17: Welcome to My World of Dreams
 
Here's a direct link to Goddess Fish's page for this book tour-
 
 
AUTHOR
 
Cristelle Comby was born and raised in the French-speaking area of Switzerland, in Greater Geneva, where she still resides.
 
Thanks to her insatiable thirst for American and British action films and television dramas, her English is fluent.
 
She attributes to her origins her ever-peaceful nature and her undying love for chocolate. She has a passion for art, which also includes an interest in drawing and acting.
 
Ruby Heart is her second new-adult novel, and she’s hard at work on the next titles in the Neve & Egan series.
 
Website: http://cristelle-comby.com
 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cristelle.comby
 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Cristelle
 
BUY LINKS
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Cristelle%20Comby&search-alias=digital-text&sort=relevancerank
 
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CristelleComby
 
Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Ruby-Heart-Neve-cases-Volume/dp/1492813435/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1381412557&sr=8-2&keywords=cristelle+comby

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Changes for the New Year

I'm finally coming out of a severe bout of Chronic Pain and must, therefore, refine my commitments here.  I'm withdrawing from Goddess Fish Promotions, sadly, it was so much fun.  Also, I'm not accepting new ARCs or downloading anything new from NetGalley for the time being.  I'll be limiting myself to two reviews per week.  This means I'm much lower-traffic than other book review blogs, but authors and readers can know for certain that what I do review I truly love.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Still in enough pain to not be on the Internet.  Sorry!  Please check out my reviews for gift-giving ideas.  The eBooks you can give immediately.  No fighting the crowds.  Meanwhile, I'm going to try to take it easy.  Besides the physical pain, my daughter will be spending Christmas in the hospital.  I miss her terribly, so I'll leave you with this classic song by Elvis Presley, a duet through modern technology with Martina McBride-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KK6sMo8NBY
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Much Love.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Finally, Some Pain Relief

My maximum dose of pain medication wasn't working at all on this bout of severe chronic pain.  Finally, yesterday, my sister-in-law put together a natural remedy that did the trick.  I'll tell you 'cause I know I'm not alone!  She mixed *lavender leaves* with *unpopped popcorn* inside a cotton bag bound up with a rubber band.  A minute or two in the microwave made this a nice *moist heat.*  Applying it to my neck calmed the nerve endings and relaxed the muscles.  I hope to be back on track here Sunday.

Much Love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Braking for Pain

Must take a few days off to deal with severe chronic pain.  Merry Christmas!  (just in case)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Virtual Book Tour: DUST BOWL by J.P. Lantern

Good morning, Blog Buds!  You've just landed on the Virtual Book Tour for J.P. Lantern's novel, DUST BOWL. 

Please comment to be entered into the drawing for a digital download of a backlist book, plus an entry for the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift certificate. 

Follow this tour and comment often for more chances to win.



BLURB:  

With the world ending around him, Ward flounders for purpose and survival. Resources are gone, disease is rampant, and governments have all but dissolved. The only way off the broken planet is with the Order. Obsessed with technology, the Order is a cult that has developed the means for faster-than-light travel. They claim they can populate the galaxy and save humanity.

Ward joins the Order, inspired by sudden and irrational love for a mysterious beauty named Kansas who saves his life. But quickly, he finds out Kansas and the Order want him to kill adults and kidnap children from across the country. With impressionable youth filling their starships, the Order hopes for their tenets to be spread to all future generations of humanity.

The Order is Ward’s only chance for survival in the wreck the earth has become. Worse than that, those in the Order come to accept him and value his skills for their nightmarish quest across the dystopian landscape of America. But, somewhere inside of him, still, is the strength to strike out on his own and protect whatever good he can find left in the world.

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Being a history buff, I was curious how this story compared with the real Dust Bowl.  Here's what the author had to say:


So I have written a book, Dust Bowl. It is pretty good and I feel like you should go out of your way to buy it—but of course, I am biased because of how all my opinions are completely correct one hundred percent of the time, no questions asked.

 

There was also a very real event/area/historical-type-thing that happened called the Dust Bowl. And any time that you write a book named after an enormous historical thingamajig, there are bound to be correlations made. I think that this is a reasonable thing to do; my task here is going to be to elucidate for you the sort of conceptions I had in mind for correlation as I wrote the novel.

 

The actual Dust Bowl, for those of you who don’t know, was (or is) this enormous patch of land covering the Northern part of Texas, much of Oklahoma, and substantial parts of Nebraska and Kansas. All of this land was made completely non-arable due to poor farming techniques, overuse, and (to my limited recollection from research I did five or six years ago) in large part because of the volume of cattle traveling via cattle drives from Texas to Kansas. This all came to a head during the Great Depression (another horror created by overconsumption and poor business techniques), and as a result enormous portions of rural workers were left without work. Giant dust storms filled the middle of the United States, sometimes shifting over into unaffected areas.

 

There—that’s roughly twenty years of history in five sentences! My history teachers would be proud. Maybe. They were always sort of ornery.

 

The problem today, in our very real life, is that the Dust Bowl is still basically there. We use better techniques on the land, and irrigate it a whole hell of a lot better, but that top soil never fully recovered. So, my novel, among other conceptualizations of our future, imagines what it might be like if that same Dust Bowl extended out—to approximately twice the size it once was.

 

Anytime a person is writing a dystopian novel—which Dust Bowl most certainly is—there are going to be a lot of responses to the societal current of the times. So, I wasn’t just examining the historical Dust Bowl and applying it to a dystopia, but also making comparisons to the historical Dust Bowl, the state of the world now, and then finally all of that to what I conceived as a possible route for the future.

 

So, the historical Dust Bowl gave rise to a lot of desperate people doing desperate things to survive. Government intervention was difficult because with the land being non-arable, it was hard to justify trying to fix the problems that were there. I think both of these things arrive in various forms today (desperate people acting desperately and the difficulty of governmental intervention—for whatever reason—for various problems) and they certainly are present in my novel.

 

Currently, huge portions of the world are in the middle of a drought (there are portions of the Southwest that have been at drought-levels for something like twenty years), and we keep being told that the Great Recession is receding even though full-time jobs are just as hard to find as they have been since the beginning of the crash.  Both of those things were going on during the Depression. We’ve already looked at the former, but for the latter, Hoover would constantly come on the radio and talk to people about how bad the Depression “was.”

 

So, the “Dust Bowl” referred to the title of my book is both physical and metaphysical. It’s very physical in the sense that most of the book takes place in where the historical Dust Bowl was located—in the Northern tips of Texas, through Oklahoma and bits of Kansas. In all of these places, the Dust Bowl has come back with a vengeance, producing horrendous dust storms and making the land non-arable. People survive by the skin of their teeth—outside of cities with special wind-shields and enclosed neighborhoods and the like, life is extremely hard and largely goes without assistance from anyone, including any kind of government (which all have sort of withdrawn like some ignoble tortoise within their shells).

 

It’s also used in a sort of metaphysical way. Ward, the main character, is an addict and so leads a kind of barren emotional life most of the time. But, his emotions are all still there, they’re just not attached to anything very well, so they swirl about his consciousness, and occasionally come down in these huge storms of love or violence or attachment that are most destructive. So the Dust Bowl is a nice sort of metaphor for that.

 

I can also view it in the sense of how we have all these underpinnings of society that help us work together and bring us closer together, and when a society isn’t working toward common goals or looking after each other, all you’re left with is wreckage that isn’t really useful for anything. That’s not a particular focus of the book, but it’s always there in the background, like the dust.

 

I sincerely doubt that what I write about will ever come to pass in the form that I write about it—I am not so very lucky (or possibly cursed) to be a prophet. But I do think that there are portions of history that are rather cyclical, and so as I formed this novel I tried to pay attention to history to make sure that I wrote with an aura of verisimilitude. But even with all this attention to history as a backdrop—ultimately this is a story all about characters and how they try to make their lives work in an increasingly tough world. I think that’s something anybody can relate to. Those characters and their decisions—often self-destructive and (I hope) exciting and engaging—that’s the main event for this tale.

Excerpt
“Would you be willing to kill a thousand parents so that there might be a thousand million more in the future? Would you orphan a thousand children just so they could foster thousands of their own? That is not a name put to courage. That is not something you don’t understand. That is something very simple to understand, you just don’t have the will to do it yourself. That is a name put to strength. To resolve. That’s what a set is.”

There was a light in the office behind the booth, flickering every so often and casting strange, tentacled shadows into the room. Joe looked at Ward and his face was sagging with fear. Maybe understanding had not quite dawned in the liquored canals of his mind but it showed in his eyes, and Ward felt satisfied for the first time all day.

Joe shook his head. “Why you telling me this?”

“I thought you should know what’s going to happen here.”

“Just what exactly is that gonna be,” asked Joe.  “Or have you told me already?

Ward looked at him for a moment and took his gun out of its holster. He laid it on to the table with his hand resting on it, just in case he needed it. In his imaginings, usually people tried to run.

“Every adult here is going to die. One by one, mostly. Some of this will be done by me.”

The eyes of Joe stayed fixated on the gun on the table.

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

 
J.P. Lantern lives in the Midwestern US, though his heart and probably some essential parts of his liver and pancreas and whatnot live metaphorically in Texas. He writes speculative science fiction short stories, novellas, and novels which he has deemed "rugged," though he would also be fine with "roughhewn" because that is a terrific and wonderfully apt word.
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.

Links:

www.jplantern.com

www.facebook.com/jplanternbooks

Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/J.P.-Lantern/e/B00E46H16C


***
Now, please follow this tour and comment often!

12/16/2013 SECOND STOP MichaelSciFan
12/17/2013 Andi's Book Reviews
12/18/2013 Long and Short Reviews
12/19/2013 Bunny's Review
12/20/2013 It's Raining Books
12/30/2013 The Cerebral Writer
12/31/2013 Musings and Ramblings
1/1/2014 Straight from the Library
1/2/2014 Unabridged Andra
1/3/2014 Kit 'N Kabookle

Tour's page with direct links-   http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/11/virtual-book-tour-dustbowl-by-jp-lantern.html?zx=134d94cedcba6432

Thursday, December 12, 2013

HAVE YOURSELF A CURVY LITTLE CHRISTMAS by Sugar Jamison

Yo, Blog Buds!  I'll give it to you straight.  This one doesn't have a terribly original plot.  In fact, you could throw a large hairy elf around at an RWA convention and hit at least three with the same plot.
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But...
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When you're a reviewer and/or writer, you quickly learn a certain fact.
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There are no original stories.  Only original ways of telling them.
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Bearing that in mind, Sugar Jamison does a knock-out job bringing the characters to life and telling this story in a really-you're-there First Person way.
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Yeah, okay, so Dina was a real, you know, bitch and hooked up with a playboy named Virgil who promptly dumped her when she got pregnant.  Going on a couple of years later and Christmas is coming and she's proven to herself that she can turn her life around and be a great mom to their son, Dash.  Now, she's decided to hunt down Virgil and get him to cowboy up, so their son doesn't grow up on welfare.  So, she hops a bus in L.A. and rides it all the way to New York in the dead of winter.
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Upon arriving at Virgil's house, she learns to disturbing things, Virgil is dead and his big brother would've made a lot better dad.
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The thing about Christmas is it's a time to celebrate love and the thing about love is it sees beyond caustic personalities to the hurting hearts who need it the most.
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Dina plans to turn right around and go back to L.A. as soon as she gets the paperwork she needs to file for Dash's social security survivor benefits.  She's no gold-digger, turns out.  But, Ben, the super-responsible one has other plans, as great Dads are known to have, and he's biologically only an uncle.  He also thinks her motherly curves are totally groovy.  Talk about a fairytale.
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Like I said, not a terribly original plot, but definitely worth the read because of the way this author brings it all to life.  She makes it believable, breathable, and with all those warm, glowing fuzzies you want from a romantic Christmas story.
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Much love.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WINDSHIFT by Joyce Faulkner


Good morning, Blog Buds. 
I assume you all know about the WASPs during World War II, right?  Okay, just in case some of you don’t know, before World War II women were strongly discouraged if not outright denied the option of becoming a pilot.  Amelia Earhardt is probably the most famous of the women who rejected that and won.  The United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941 and all of a sudden the nation’s men were shipping off, leaving  few behind to work in the factories and other civilian jobs.  Women filled those spots.  Soon, the military couldn’t spare pilots to do the more mundane work of testing and ferrying new airplanes from factories to airfields.  Women pilot pioneers saw their chance and put together the Women’s Air Service Pilots, the WASPs.

Windshift is the name of the inn were a group of these WASPs stayed while working at an airfield in Ohio after completing their training.  Myrtle is the fortysomething widow who runs the inn.  And this is their story.

Shirley is a Daddy's Girl who can’t seem to understand why she doesn’t have many friends, but it becomes obvious by how she’s driven to remake her bed after Myrtle already made it and how critical she is of another new girl, Emmie, who dumps her stuff and flops on her own bed. 

Women are women the galaxy over, as Captain Kirk once noted, if I remember correctly.  And when they get together, it doesn’t matter if it’s 1943 or 2013.  The slang and the fashion changes and sometimes the social attitudes a little, but a group of females together is going to be entertaining at least.

That nitpick, Shirley, starts the story and she turns out to be a good one to describe the setting.  I totally loved Myrtle’s kitchen.  And not all the boys are off to war, one adorable, semi-deaf one drives the bus which takes them back and forth to work everyday.

Finally, Delores arrives and Shirley has someone to be jealous of.  Delores blows in dressed in blue silk and with two hot GIs carrying her stuff.  And Emmie hugs her because they’re already friends.

So, we got our three core heroines.

These girls come alive on the page.  You take a look at her grandma or great-grandma and try to imagine them at about age twenty.  Even if they show you pictures, I bet it’s hard to imagine them being and doing all the girly things you did or will do at that age.  But, they did.  And on top of all that normal girl stuff, these WASP girls also helped save the world.

Emmie’s backstory is sweet and sad.  She’s an orphan who falls in love and marries young and then her man is killed while testing out a new plane for her.  Gotta love Emmie.

Nowadays, it’s difficult to imagine the prejudice these three girls run into when people find out they’re pilots, but it bonds them together.  Back then, girls were supposed to stay home under their fathers’ control until they married, after which they were under their husband’s control.  They were supposed to make babies and wash dishes and that was it.  And some people couldn’t wrap their brain cells around the idea that they could or should help save the world besides. 

Then, Mags comes into the story.  She’s gonna be their mentor.  She’s older and she doesn’t give a damn about prejudice or any of that crap.  She’s built her own life and lives it on her own term.  And the girls love her for it.

Even when she takes them on a wild ride in a Plymouth, or maybe because of it.

It’s the first of many great and wonderful adventures with Mags.  I especially liked the one where she distracts a male officer so one of the girls can snitch his candy.  Sugar was rationed during World War II, so candy was a rare treat!
Mags was in Europe before this gig and she got to fly a Spitfire, my personal favorite aircraft of all time.  Speaking of Europe, Delores has family there being tormented by the Nazis there too.

This is the best kind of historical.  You get all the historical stuff delivered to you, but it doesn’t feel like it because the characters are so alive and real and easy to relate to, as well as believable in their era.  The secondary characters are fully fleshed out and you can sink right into the ‘world’ and forget it’s 2013.  That’s very hard to pull off, as a writer.
I hope Joyce Faulkner keeps writing Historicals and I hope her publisher keeps sending them to me to review!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday News

Fab Week!  It was set to be very busy and then we got LICE!  Yes, lice.  Don't worry, I nailed every last one of those little buggers.  So, that was a drag, but then my husband got an awesome new job!  And we're positively giddy over that one.  Getting ready for Christmas and visiting family.  That's it on the Homefront.
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Head Lice at Kidshealth
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In blogging news, I've decided to just have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday as Reviews Days, but with no assigned genre.  I'll try to keep mixing it up between Adult, Young Adult, and Non-Fiction, but sometime I really want to read another one of each kind in the same week and it can bum me out if I feel like I can't.
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Below this post, you'll noticed I've created a new Page for writers' resources.  You know, I've been through Queryland for Traditional Publication and I've been an ePublished author.  So, I have those experiences to look back on and think what I really want to take on.  Do I really want to finish the Ophelia Dawson series?  Or, do I really want to plow ahead with The Grizzly Bear's Child?  Is either better suited to Traditional or ePublication?  It's a lot to think about.  FYI, I'm going to keep adding to the Page and I'll be checking out ePubs next.
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Also, check out my new 'Cabin of the Week' on the righthand sidebar.
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Much love.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Page

Useful Industry Sites for Writers

Habitat for Humanity

Homelessness.  Forget the stereotype in America.  A good many homeless people are families.  Some are veterans who put their lives on the line for us.  How do you keep your children safe on the streets?  How do you look for work if you can't bring your children with you to interviews?  What if you do have benefits, but they run out? 
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What if you rent?  My husband was unemployed for over a year and we found out the hard way you're out on the streets a lot faster when you rent instead of own your house.  Thankfully, we had family with an extra trailer on the ol' homestead.  A lot of families don't.
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Families become homeless for many reasons, most of them are not their fault.  In some places, the housing market is so expensive their children would be grown and gone before they could afford a warm, safe place of their own.  Learned that the hard way too.
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Enter:   Habitat for Humanity
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They're the good folks who come in when a family needs and is ready to move into their own home, but can't quite make it for a variety of reasons.  You can volunteer to help build or renovate a home for them, or donate, or buy donated building products from their stores.
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They help out after disasters, like Hurricane Katrina too.
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Children who grow up in warm, safe homes and see love and generosity turn out to be some pretty outstanding adults. 
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Check out Habitat for Humanity.

Friday, December 6, 2013

TIN STAR by Cecil Castellucci

Our hero starts this story having a really bad day.  She's getting the crap beat out of her and ditched onto the wrong vehicle headin' to the crappy side of town.
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Uh, spaceship headin' to the frackky side of the galaxy.  Anyway...
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Tula Bane's a human colonist and her world is the cosmos.  Being good at languages, she was supposed to be helping to colonize a world under the direction of Brother Blue.  Now, she finds herself at the end of Blue's boot.  Literally.  She was Brother Blue's golden girl, brought along to help hold on to human culture, isolated from contamination by...
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Isolated?
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Red Flag.  Sounds like the start of a cult to me.
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Brother Blue had made her feel special and her mother believed Brother Blue could do no wrong.
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Oh, yeah, sounds like a cultmeister to me.
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Well, Tula's got sincere plans and goals in life, so when she saw some precious cargo not getting loaded on their ship she took the initiative.
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Apparently, she hadn't gotten the memo about not thinking for yourself if you're in a cult.
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Next thing she knows Brother Blue's taken her aside and is beating the crap out of her.  Brother Blue doesn't want anyone on board who doesn't obey him without questioning, even when his orders make no sense.  Yep, total cultmeister.
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With a lie to her family, Brother Blue leaves Tula for dead.  And so The Prairie Rose flies away into space without her.
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Okay, so now Tula is alone and she quickly finds out that Brother Blue has to it that she is a nobody, which probably means her family thinks she's dead.  And then she's told they're dead, but is that true when so little else was?  She's gotta survive somehow and that's how she falls in with an insectoid alien named Heckleck.  And in the process of going to work for him as a messenger to survive, she starts to learn some valuable things, including what she's made of.
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She also learns to eat maggots.
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But, if she's an insignificant nobody, the galaxy is still moving on.  Politics and the ongoing struggle ends up bringing the new powers-that-be, the Imperium to Tula's God-forsaken space station just when she's wondering if the dead planet below is truly dead.
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The Imperium is full of fresh ideas and have grand plans for which they need lots of workers.  Finally, Tula has a ticket off that space station, but her new friend is less than thrilled and full of foreboding.  Nevertheless, Tula wants to find her family and she wants revenge.
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Tula doesn't go far.  Humans just aren't considered good workers. 
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Luckily, Tula sees the unknown as full of possibilities rather than as something to fear, perhaps because of Heckleck who quickly takes her back under his wing.  Er, appendage. 
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Soon after, humans come back into Tula's life and she's amazed by how alien they seem to her.  Along with them comes more intergalactic politics and dirty politics at that.  Seems Brother Blue's been attracting more attention. 

Tragedy strikes and along with it comes a chance.  Tula has learned her lessons well and a cute human boy has new information about Brother Blue and life back on planet Earth. 
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Good book.  I didn't feel the depth of emotions I expected to from a young teenage girl stranded out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of strangers she barely understands.  Nevertheless, it was like resettling an infamous cult out there among the stars and having an average young person take it on.
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Much love.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A WILDER ROSE by Susan Wittig Albert

I call this one Historical Fiction, although Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, didn't win any wars or cure any diseases.  This is a novel based on facts from their lives, but told like a novel.  They may not be up there with Alexander the Great and Abraham Lincoln, but what they did they did well. 
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They lived.
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And they wrote about it.
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In this book, their story is retold in a new way. 
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I often lament how most people are clueless about history, that it just doesn't feel real to them, most likely because it was poorly taught in a politically correct social studies class when they were kids.  Booooorrrring.  That's why I love Historical Fiction, as well as historical reality shows like Frontier House   History is brought to life in a very personal way and you can see and feel that these were real people, just like us, and they lived and loved, just like us.
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In any case, this novel starts with Rose in her golden years.  She'd given birth to one baby who died and that was it for biological motherhood.  But, that didn't stop her from mothering many others.  The story opens with Rose preparing for a visit from Norma Lee and her husband, honorary family whom she'd mentored and mentions many others in passing.  She even paid for at least one's postsecondary education.  She's also working against a deadline, editing her now-famous mother's book, By the Shores of Silver Lake     Rose and Norma Lee have a discussion about Rose's involvement with the creation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's now-famous books.  Norma Lee thinks Rose does too much and doesn't get enough credit. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder may have lived a simple life, despite being a gifted storyteller.  But, her was a worldwide traveler who got out there and made a career for herself with only self-education beyond high school.  It's an interesting progression to watch the apple fall from the tree and grow up a gifted storyteller, like her mother, and then so much more too.  Not to say one was better than the other.  Laura preferred the simple life.  Rose did not.
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Nevertheless, according to this book, Rose's friends claim she was at her mother's beck and call.  Personally, I find this interpretation 21st Century.  A hundred years ago, adult children were socially at their parents' beck and call anyway.  Add to that the fact that Rose was Laura's only child.  But, the author has clearly done a lot more research than I have.  It was way ahead of her time for Rose to get a divorce and just because the marriage wasn't working out too.
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The book starts out in 1939, but then goes back to Albania 1928.  Rose is there with a friend and learns that her parents are sick.  Of course, she must go back to take care of them.  Back then, adult children rarely thought of doing anything else with sick, elderly parents.  It was a family thing.  Like daycares, nursing homes were a long way off still. 
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As Rose prepares and proceeds home to Missouri, she remembers her life from learning telegraphy after high school through her adventures to Albania and such.  She also goes all the way back to when she was three and blames herself for setting their house on fire, which led to homelessness and financial hardship.  In other words, she's on a guilt trip too. 
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During a time when family farms were dependent on large broods of male offspring, Rose had been born a girl.  Her only sibling, a brother, had died.  And her father was disabled by illness.  She grew up poor and moving around a lot.  And she blamed herself a lot.
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It's not unusual for children to blame themselves for family hardships.
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In the following chapters, she talks about her career in relation to her mother writing down her now-famous stories.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/on-the-banks-of-plum-creek-laura-ingalls-wilder/1100538559?ean=9780064400046
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This is a good and entertaining narrative for anyone who already loves the Little House stories and intrigued by mother/daughter tales.  It's a typical dilemma for all historical writers, write exactly the way things are or write so that a 21st century reader can understand and enjoy it.  For example, do you write about a fabulous love affair between two Vikings with all the hair, sweat, dirt, sheep poo, and puss-filled injuries?  How romantic is nookie with someone who hasn't bathed since falling into the river as a kid?
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Obviously, this author did her homework, but it is told through the lens of 21st century.  For example, Rose is stunned to read her mother's mention of a baby brother dying.  Well, a hundred years ago the infant mortality rate was so high that it was pretty typical for children who died in infancy never to be mentioned again.  In some places, parents were only expected to mourn children if they died over the age of six.  It's a sad commentary on the era which we have so little comprehension of now, because of modern medicine.  It was a way of protecting their hearts from the pain of so much death.
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Anyway, good book and a great Christmas present for a fan of such things.
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Much love.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

THE GREAT INFLUENZA The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry

Good morning, Blog Buds!
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I know there's a lot of controversy over the Flu Shot these days.  I totally get what the opponents say against it, BUT as a history buff I can't help but think of the alternative.
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World War I is frequently overlooked in history class.  And when we do study it, this war which was called 'The War to End All Wars' overshadows another extreme event of the time.
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The 1918 Flu Pandemic.
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Personally, I believe it is burned into our collective subconscious, however, and that is why Zombie
movies are so popular.
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The year was 1918 and medicine was progressing as rapidly as other sciences of the time.  Doctors had  finally learned to wash their hands, thank God, and most accepted that diseases were caused by germs. 

This book gives you a very thorough study on the doctors and the medical science which raced and struggled to contain this deadly pandemic while people literally died in the streets around them, just like in the movies.  A train would leave a station with seemingly healthy people and arrive with mostly dead people.  Another book tells the story of a remote ranch where the folks looked out the window to see sick people staggering towards them, desperate for food, water, and medicine. 
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The Flu Pandemic of 1918 killed about 675,000 Americans.  To put that into perspective, the United States has about tripled in population since 1910.  So...three times 675,000 is...what?  About 2 million.  Typically, right now in the United States, about 36,000 people die from seasonal flu.  Now, imagine that number suddenly shooting up to about 2 million.  That's like every man, woman, and child in Houston, Texas dead.
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The city of Philadelphia lost nearly 5000 people in one week in October.  They ran out of coffins and couldn't bury the dead fast enough.  That's Philadelphia, folks, right here in the United States of America.
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Here's another nasty secret from the 1918 flu - it killed mostly young adults. 
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Normally, seasonal flu strikes down the very old and the very young.
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So, we have millions of young men dying in the trenches of World War I and millions of young men and women dying of the flu at home.  And the number was in the millions worldwide, estimates 50 to 100 million people dead worldwide from just the flu.  Not the war.
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And, remember, we've tripled in size since then.  So, worst case scenario for today, 300 million worldwide.
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One poignant story was of a young man who managed to survive brutal combat to finally come home to his wife and children, only to die a week later from the flu.  Along with his wife and all but one child, I think it was.
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Still afraid to get the Flu Shot?
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Anyway, the book ends with how the 1918 Flu mutated into a less lethal strain, which means, of course, that people never actually defeated this monster.  It kinda just moved on to other things.  Also, scientists have been digging up the remains of 1918 Flu victims from the Arctic permafrost to try to find a specimen for study, so they can create a vaccine.  Just in case the monster ever comes back.
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Of course, we know there have been lots of other pandemics, like the Black Plague which killed about a third of Europe's population in the Middle Ages.  But, by shear numbers, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed more people than any other and it touched every corner of the globe.
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A few places did manage to keep the death numbers down by strict quarantine, like Japan.  And I think there was an island which managed to escape it altogether the same way.
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Sometimes, I wonder how we would handle a pandemic like this right now.  Sure, we have advanced medical technology.  The CDC and the WHO keeps vigilant watch and each state in the union has a pandemic plan in place. 
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But, human nature never changes.
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Sure, it can be tempered with intelligence and good morals.
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Nevertheless, I have to ask why didn't other nations put themselves under strict quarantine, like Japan?
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Greed.
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They didn't want to stop buying and selling across international or state lines.
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Do we still have greedy people today?  Yes, we do.
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As the book painfully outlines, there was also a great deal of Denial.  People just couldn't wrap their minds around the threat, because their hearts wouldn't let them.  And Fear.  In Alaska, whole villages full of people all died because they couldn't trust the white people who told them to quarantine themselves and to not gather together in groups.  Well, Alaska Natives live very communally by tradition and white people had lied to and brutalized them for hundreds of years.  Why would they do what the white people said?
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Do we still have Fear and Denial today?  Yes, we do.
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So, I'm not gonna tell ya to take the Flu Shot.  It's your choice, of course.  There's positives and negatives either way.
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I will tell ya to go get this book though!  Cause every choice we make in life has consequences and so every choice ought to be extremely well-informed, methinks.
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There are several books about the 1918 Flu Pandemic, but this one is the most thorough one for the average reader to get through.  And even then it will be hard, because the medical technobabble gets a little challenging at times.  Hang in there, though, because it's worth it.
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Much love, Buds.
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic

Monday, December 2, 2013

Newsies

Good morning, Blog Buds!  If I do get on Mondays or Tuesdays, I believe I should share news and things like cover reveals.  That way, I'm not bumping down book reviews for it on the other days.  I'm still tweaking and polishing this new blog, but I think I'm about done.  I need to work on the right sidebar.  In other news, there's a holiday hop going on for YA at Entangled in which you can win cool prizes.  So, hop on over! 
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 And one of my favorite authors from way back has the first book in her new series coming out this month.
 
Lisa Shearin   wrote the Magic Lost, Trouble Found series that first grabbed me a few years ago.  I keep checking NetGalley for her new book, but I might have to personally pester her for it.
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Speaking of polishing and tweaking this new blog, I visit other book review blogs and see how awesome and busy they are and realize I just can't keep up.  What I've got going on right now is my best for now, three reviews a week and one book promotion group, two Virtual Blog Tours a month.  That's about it for now and that's okay.  I'm just glad to be back.  I missed this.
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Much Love.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Day of Advent Calendar

Our family celebrates this to honor our German ancestry, by the way- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent_calendar

HANUKKAH IN AMERICA by Dianne Ashton

Good morning, Blog Buds, and Happy Hanukkah!
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I picked this one out at NetGalley when I remembered Hanukkah was on the way.  This is more than just a book about a holiday.  It's a book about the Jewish people and faith in the United States.  Freedom of Religion here has enabled the Jews here to develop in a way unique, but still connected to their ancient roots in Israel.  At the same time, they've had to work at keeping it together midst cultural distraction.
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As I began reading this one, I was reminded of the Amish.  They've also managed to keep a distinct faith and culture over a couple of hundred years in the American Melting Pot.  Besides that, Jews don't go out and actively preach at people, trying to get them to convert.  Like the Amish, they share their faith by *example.*  I so respect that.  I'm content in my own faith, but I grew up around a lot of Bible-banging loudmouths who preached love and then treated people like crap.  That's why I call Sundays here 'Living It.'  There is authentic faith to be found, but you gotta look for it with a pure heart.  Anyway...
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The two most difficult things for me to understand about Hanukkah is how to spell it (I have to look it up every single time!) and when the exact dates are.  This year, it started on November 27th and will end on December 5th.
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This book explains how Hanukkah began.  Sometimes it's called the Festival of Lights and it celebrates the rededication of the Temple at the time of the Maccabean revolt during the second century, B.C.
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The Hanukkah menorah is a candlebra with eight branches, plus a ninth one, the tall one in the middle.  The ninth one is for practical light, because the others can't be used for anything other than the ceremony.  The story goes that the holy temple had been desecrated by a foreign invader who set up an idol and sacrificed pigs.  (Pigs are unclean under Jewish law.)  After the temple was liberated, it needed to be cleansed and rededicated.  During this time, there was only enough oil for one light, but the oil lasted eight days.  And so the temple was cleansed and rededicated.
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This book explains how American Jews have looked at this ancient story of faith and interpreted it and celebrated it from their point of view as Americans, like the part of liberating the temple.  Freedom from oppressors is a very big deal here, you know.
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This is probably why the story of Moses is so big to us that we've made several movies based on it, Moses leading the Children of Israel out of slavery and into freedom in the Promised Land.  We totally get that.  After all, that's why the Pilgrims came there, to escape oppression and live in freedom in a land of promise.  The sad thing about that is they didn't always offer the same freedom to others and Jews have been periodically persecuted throughout our history too.
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Nevertheless, the Jewish faith had the freedom to flourish here and also they had the issue of being so free that there were few boundaries between them and regular American culture.  How do you hold on to your own culture?  Well, you split off into a bunch of denominations as  you try to adapt.  This can be distressing, as it has been for Protestant Christians off and on.  And there is a nice, long history of the Jewish faith enduring and adapting here.  One way was to make Hanukkah more festive for the children, for the children are the future.
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This is a wonderful book, a personal history of Hanukkah every American should own.  Any one of us on a spiritual journey can relate and learn from this story, which can only enrich our souls.
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Much love.
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Oh, wait.
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I mean...
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Shalom.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

See You in the Morning

Good morning, Blog Buds! I pre-scheduled my Thanksgiving Day posts, but I just can't pull it together for post-Thanksgiving, even though I don't go shopping until Christmas Eve.  Will post my review of the Hanukkah book tomorrow.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Of course, I can't just say that without recommending a good book. 

Cranberry Thanksgiving   is the one I read to my children when they were all little.
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For you bigger folks, I suggest you get Colonial House   on DVD from your local library or buy online.

The founding mothers and fathers of this country were made of some tough stuff!  Thank God for that!

A STUDY IN ASHES by Emma Jane Holloway


Everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes even if you’ve never read any of the stories.  There have been t.v. series and movies made based on the original tales of this iconic private investigator.  Personally, my experience goes back to a couple of original stories read a few decades ago.

Plus Star Trek The Next Generation.   http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes

Oh, yes, Trekkies are very well read and the Next Gen especially interwove a lot of classic literature.  Commander Data, the android, was especially fond of Sherlock Holmes. 

But, this isn’t a review of Next Gen.

A Study in Ashes is the third book in a series, the first two of which I have not read.  This is good though, because it gives me and you, a potential reader, a fresh look and a hint at how easily it is to pick up a story that’s already going on.

Evalina, the heroine, starts the story a student at a prestigious English college, frustrated with the limits put on her because she is female.  That’s the cover story.  The real story is that, plus the fact that she is imprisoned on the school campus by magic.  In frustration, she breaks into the men’s laboratory because they have much better equipment.  She wants to learn how magic and science are related.

The Professor who discovers her there is not at all amused.  I suspect she could have talked herself out of this trouble, but that doesn’t appear to be her style.  Instead, she outright resists and, in her fury, accidently sets the whole dang place on fire.

Normally, Evalina would have been expelled.  Instead, she’s shuffled away in what I can best describe as “You naughty, naughty little girl, now you go to your room and just think about what you’ve done!”

Anyway…then we have a Point of View switch, but it starts a new chapter and it’s male so it’s not hard to keep up.  Tobias remembers the last battle of the last book, catching you up on important details.  This is an excellent way to reintroduce the story for those who haven’t already been in on it.  He’s watching over his magically comatose sister, Imogene, who, in turn, is being pined for by her fiancĂ©, Bucky.  She’s been a sleeping beauty for a year and the two blokes are not hopeful.

Remember, this is set in the late 1800’s England, so you gotta recall the social restrictions and styles of the time, plus it’s Steampunk, so you’ve got cool airships and such going on.  The appeal of Steampunk, for me, is similar to Time Travel.  It combines history with techno-geekiness, love that.

This book is not written in First Person Point of View.  I should clear that up.  It’s Third Person Limited.  But, it’s done so well that I felt like I was right inside the characters, the same feeling you get from First Person POV.

Okay, so enough wallowing, dudes, a large group of troublemakers arrive on the scene and start howling.  Huh?  Do we got werewolves here?

And romance?  Well, apparently, Evaline’s boyfriend, Nick, died in the last book, because she’s in mourning at first.

Then, the professors assign someone to escort her back to the ladies’ college and he’s very intriguing, but his last name is also Moriarity.  Now, if you know anything about Sherlock Holmes, you know Professor Moriarity was his archenemy.

Further on, the Point of View switches again, to Poppy who is Imogene’s younger sister.  She’s fifteen years old and expertly portrayed as such, fierce in her friendships (she adores Imogene), impatient with her family.  Seems like every fifteen year old thinks her family is dysfunctional, barely tolerable, the mother’s a wicked queen, the father doesn’t give a dang about his children, the brother is totally screwed up, and she’s bored out of her mind.  All normal fifteen year old girl stuff, but in this case the fifteen year old is right, as is occasionally true in real life too. 

Bigger problems that bored teenagers have arisen though.  At some point, somebody crashed an airship into Big Ben.  Oh, yes, and Queen Victoria’s children have been dying off and now the Crown Prince is mysteriously ill.  Getting swept up into this mess will certainly dispel Poppy’s boredom.

With another POV shift into Imogen’s head, you’ll wonder how the author is going to bring this ensemble cast together.  Clearly, loose ends are being expertly tied up.

Verdict:  Good book, get it.  Even if you haven’t read the first two.  You won’t get lost.  Trust me.

;)

Much love, Buds.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eeek! Almost Missed the First Day of Hanukkah!



Will get to work on my review I set aside for this holiday.  Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish Friends!

DUST OF EDEN by Mariko Nagai

Good morning, Blog Buds!

I had no idea Japanese Americans were interned in camps during World War II until I was in high school and I picked up a book about it on my own time.  It wasn't taught in school back then, but I hope it is now.  Farewell to Manzanar

You see, folks, this is why it's good to nurture the love of learning and stories your children are born with.  That way they can educate themselves if there are any gaps in their schooling.
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DUST OF EDEN is written poetically and in first person.  The author recounts first learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  Within seconds, she starts hearing people say 'Jap' and looking at her in disgust.
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Ever wonder why German Americans weren't hauled away in massive numbers to internment camps?  Well, because they look like most of the rest of us, that's why.  It's a knee-jerk reaction to go after the different.
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So, the author's mother teaches her to keep her back straight anyway and her best friend says it doesn't matter.  She goes to Sunday School and celebrates Christmas. 
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The men from the government come and take her daddy away for questioning, upsetting the normalcy of even her homelife.
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There's a saying and it's true.  "Children are not born hating."  But, they can and frequently are taught rather quickly.  As this story tells, children learn to hate themselves at the same time.
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The time comes to be taken away to the internment camp.  They're told it's for their own good and safety, but that's a lie and they know it.  But, what other choice do they have.  Grandpas is old and father's in prison.  Big brother gets into fights everyday over the injustice of it all, accomplishing nothing, of course.
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Besides their home, the pet cat must stay behind.  They can only take two suitcases each.  It's hard to imagine this happening in the good ol' US of A.  Isn't it?  But, there is still goodness and rational minds.  Jamie, her best friend, promises to care for the cat and to write letters.  Not all the people are taunting them, some are upset and weeping as the Japanese Americans are herded away like cattle.
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When they get to the euphemistically named Camp Harmony, they have to gather hay to make into mattresses for sleeping on.  Not exactly glamorous.  They're obliged to submit to intrusive medical exams and their belongings are rifled through.  It's all very humiliating. 
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Rumor of a man being shot for trying to leave and another move to yet another camp continues the misery.  Barbed wire, armed guards, lines to the common bathrooms, and being at the mercy of the really lousy food because there is nothing else.
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There's a saying you'll discover when you read about the Jewish Holocaust, "Never again."  Wise words.  But, I wonder if anything like the internment of Japanese Americans could happen again, possibly to another group of undesirables, politically opponents or something. 
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God, I hope not.
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Get this book.  It's one all Americans need to read.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shuffling the Week's Reviews

Oops!  I just discovered A WILDER ROSE is not Non-Fiction.  It's actually a novel!.  So, I'm pushing it off to next week.

Instead, I'll be reviewing DUST OF EDEN on Wednesday.  This one's about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, a national shame we all need to know about.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vader's Fist 501st Legion

This started out as a group of fans who liked to get together and create really authentic Star Wars costumes, but then they made it into something much more.  They dress up and bring awareness to charities.  They never charge a fee, but ask that people donate to charities in their name.  They're from all over the world and have the blessing of George Lucas.  Instead of selfishly enjoying a common interest, they've taken what they love and found a way to use it to help others.  Way to go, 501st!  Let that be a lesson to us all.   http://www.501st.com/charity.php

Saturday, November 23, 2013

INTO THE FIRE by Lindsay Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Good morning, Blog Buds!

I just reviewed the first book in the series day before yesterday, so scroll down and read that one first.  'Kay?  And yesterday I hosted a Super Book Blast for this book because it was released yesterday. 
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INTO THE FIRE picks up where AFTER THE ENDING leaves off, so I don't want to give away too much of the ending of the AFTER THE ENDING.  Does that make a lick of sense?  Anyway...
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So, the grid's down and they're in the boonies, Dani's got a hot boyfriend (Zoe's brother, Jason) and a cool new Ability, which is kinda like telepathy.  This groovy new life is interrupted when Dani is kidnapped.  Zoe's freaked out to have her bestest friend taken away from her.  Again.  Meanwhile, Dani is taken to the Colony where she's told she was rescued from Crazies (zombie-like survivors.)  But, she quickly learns that the Crazies are least of her worries.
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The Colony is ran by a General who calls himself the president of the New United States.  If you've read the first book, you know that the military survivors remember lockdown at their base so brutal you'd get shot if you tried to leave.  So, you know something screwy's going on here.  Turns out, the General likes Dani really a lot for two reasons, one she's got a great Ability and two she's reproductively fit.  Humanity's got to be saved, you know.  But, is it being saved or *remade?*
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But, Zoe's got some insight too, perhaps strengthened by her friendship with Dani.  She's seeing things and one thing she sees is a girl named Becca, a girl they thought was dead.  She was a member of their group, a sister.  She died, no pulse, but now Zoe sees her alive.  And she's in the Colony and failing to meet with the General's brutal expectations.  To save Dani, Jason and Zoe cook up a plan to catch Becca who has no memory of them or being who she was before.
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Meanwhile, back at the Colony, Dani's forgetful and a lot more compliant all of a sudden too.  She's been given a big house, along with the implication that she will be fruitful and multiply therein.  Can someone say 'playing God?' 
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But, Dani's mind isn't quite ready to roll over and play dead.
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But, but, her friends' half-baked plan is coming apart as the ties that bind get stretched...
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There's some tension there.  Is Dani turning into a helpless, spineless breeding machine?  Will Jason and Zoe fall into a trap?  Does the General know Zoe's got some Ability too?

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The writing skills of these two have improved a lot since AFTER THE ENDING and everything is much more fluid, although I actually enjoyed the first story the most.  Hey, skills ain't everything, you know!  With the grid down, you need to pay more attention when the Point of View switches between Dani and Zoe, because they can't Text or eMail anymore.  They do the mind-thing though and each switch starts with the character's name, so I think you can keep up. 
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Like I said before, scroll down and read my review of the first book in this series, AFTER THE ENDING, and also check out the Book Blast.  You can find both books at Barnes & Noble   and/or you can pop over to the authors' website to learn how to get it elsewhere and also read about other cool stuff.   http://www.theendingseries.com/