If someone name calls or labels, ask a few questions

soireadthisbooktoday:

Governing by stupidity and blindness needs to be stopped. I hope we can all consider these words by my friend “The Old Fart” and listen beneath the words.

Originally posted on musingsofanoldfart:

Since our electorate in the US is largely uninformed about issues of import, politicians and pundits can get away with the use of derogatory names or labels to diminish the veracity of the others’ argument. For example, the Affordable Care Act has been called akin to Nazism, Apartheid and slavery by current Presidential candidates. This imperfect law is not only working pretty well, but is saving lives, something that none of these names could be accused of.

So, when you hear someone calling an opposing argument or someone’s idea with a negative name or label, do yourself and country a favor and pause. Then, ask that person or yourself, why would he or she say that? Why is the Affordable Care Act akin to slavery? Or, do you really believe that to be true or are you saying that to influence an uninformed public? To be frank, I find name…

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Review: Wolf With Benefits (Pride #8) Shelly Laurenston

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“My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either.” – Christopher Hitchens

“I accept chaos, I’m not sure whether it accepts me.” – Bob Dylan

Wolf with Benefits (Pride, #8)Antonella ‘Toni’ Jean-Louis Parker’s life is, well, let’s just say “unusual”. As the oldest child of eleven children, you would expect that a lot of the load for child care would fall to her. But when all your brothers and sisters are prodigies, totally absorbed in themselves, well, it is sort of like herding cats. Really spoiled, really demanding, really obnoxious cats. And everyone dumps their complete and total care (and really difficult scheduling) on Toni. ‘Toni I Want’, ‘Toni Do This, Toni Do That’ – nothing like being personal slave to ten little monsters . . . And sweet, gentle Toni simply takes it on herself to do it all, with no complaints. But she is getting pretty tired of it – especially when her mother tosses their lives into chaos once again, throwing all the careful plans and schedules out the window in order to keep the family in New York to stalk the wolf teenager across the street who lives with the Wild Dog Pack. Well, she really does want to mentor him! Being a music prodigy herself, mum is a little odd. Ok, let’s call a spade a spade. The whole freakin’ family is nuts – except for ‘normal’ Toni and their ‘normal’ father.

This is Shelly Laurenston, so I always know when I pick up one of hers I am going to enjoy it. Especially her Pride series. These books are hugely fun. I skipped around more than a bit, reading and reviewing the first in the series, The Mane Event, then the ninth, Bite Me and I got tremendous pleasure out of both of those, (though I admit to enjoying Bite Me more than The Mane Event – the female character was more likeable to me in that one, and I feel like she hadn’t really hit her stride in the first book. And Wolf With Benefits keeps the humor going – I literally laughed uproariously the whole time I was working on stripping down and cleaning every inch of my kitchen all day. What made it even better is that I listened this time instead of reading, and Charlotte Kane made it all just that much better. As I said in a previous review, “I read the first two of Shelly Laurenston’s “Pride” series quite some time ago and remember liking them, and finding them rather funny. “Bite Me” is sooo much more! I laughed so hard all through the book I had tears running down my face. The story is great, but the characters make the book. From Tennessee hillbillies (and proud of it) to savants in everything from art to music to science, Shelly takes what could be cliché characters and make them so much more. There is tremendous humor here, but also depth – the love of family and friends, the sacrifices friends are willing to make, and a lot about love and duty, greed and egotism – and the best way to break into an unbreakable vault, of course. No breaking into unbreakable vaults this time, but when one of the children is taken, family and friends will move heaven and earth to get him back.

If you are in the mood for laughter, if you are feeling blue and need a lift, and want a story populated with quirky characters, you can’t go wrong with the Pride series. The first two were more of the typical ‘paranormal romance’ with some humor thrown in – lots of sex and not as much story. Bite Me and Wolf With Benefits? LOTS of story, lots of laughs, and a tiny bit of very well-done sex – lagniappe rather than main course! Ricky Lee Reed is one of the infamous Smith Pack – hillbilly redneck wolves with good hearts, hard heads, lots of fight and really, really scary family members. But Ricky Lee is a bit different from his brothers – in a very good way I found quite appealing. He is perfect for this story as Toni’s bodyguard when she travels to Siberia to meet with the Russians Bears – who happen to loath canines. And of course, a Jackal and a Wolf are not going to get the friendliest of welcomes . . .

I know where my Audible credits are going to be going for a bit – grabbing up the rest of the series in audio instead of simply reading them. Charlotte makes the stories come alive!

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Mindo Cloud Forest -Rio Cinto Botanicals

soireadthisbooktoday:

Such beauty in the world . . .

Originally posted on Zeebra Designs & Destinations:

Rio Cinto Ecuador

End of Day End of day  – view from my friends’ front porch…

Subtle moods wash over the cloud forest from hour to hour.  She can be sunny and bright one minute, and mysterious and moody another.  Here is a token sample of specimen and native plants that decorate the landcape and gardens of my friends’ property in Mindo. Getting stronger every day, I’m hopeful to be visiting this lovely area in a few weeks and doing a few nature studies. Which ones do you think might inspire me?
0 julie yellow orchid

P1840117 mindo azalea pink

Tree Fern / Near Mindo Ecuador Tree fern

P1870443 kings torch ginger Ginger – Delicate to see,  hardy with the right weather conditions, and these beauties thrive here!

Dawn - Dec. 26, 2013 - Mindo Ecuador Ahhhh, for sure I will paint these night-blooming angels trumpets, if they are blooming.

For more flowers and foliage, keep scrolling!

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Review: Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft Book 2) Lori Handeland

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Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft, #2)“People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us… It’s people who claim that they’re good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” ― Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?” ― Mark Twain

What truly constitutes evil? Is it those who do things for the sake of evil? Or the ones who do it in the name of “good”? Whether one or the other, Roland McHugh is pure evil. Evil which would put the worst of the demons of any religions hell to shame. Roland McHugh – the personal witch hunter of King James – pouring his evil over the Scottish countryside, his rage, hatred and serial murders in the name of James and the Church focusing, finally, upon the family of Henry and Prudence Taggart and their three infant daughters. McHugh ignored his own wife’s pleas for the midwife, Prudence, until it was too late to save either her or the child. But far be it from the monstrous McHugh to take the blame upon himself.

Ignorance. Illiteracy. Hubris and insecurity, mad obsession. Once upon a time, long ago, in the bad, ignorant, evil times of King James and his Danish queen, there was a great storm. James, an ignorant, religious fool, thought to himself, “Such a storm can only have been caused by witchcraft!” And in his ignorance and fear, he called to himself Roland McHugh, witch hunter, who he placed in charge of a secret society, known as Venatores Mali – Hunters of Evil. And from those savage beginnings there began an age of slaughter, of blood and death of innocents such as hearkened to war. And Roland McHugh spread his evil across Europe, spraying blood and hatred in his path. . . Roland McHugh – who, according to his Wikipedia entry, “had burned more witches than anyone in history.” (My words, not the author’s)

To save their daughters from slaughter at the hands of McHugh Henry and Pru willing gave their lives in the flames of the pyre in order to send their daughters forward in time – to a time when no one believes in witches. But the thing is, now time is rolling back around again – and the evil of those who call themselves “hunters of evil” yet are truly the most evil of all, are working to bring McHugh back into the world, spreading slaughter and fire in their wake.

The girls were sent 400 years into the future, to today, when magic has been overrun by technology. But Wiccans still exist – Wiccans, whose one immutable law is “Harm None”. So cruel that those who harm none are considered evil by those who commit the most evil of deeds in the name of so-called ‘good’. Such twisted minds, that ritual slaughter of innocents is considered godly.

In the Air Tonightintroduced us to Raye, Air Witch, speaker with ghosts, the very In the Air Tonight (Sisters of the Craft, #1)definition of a foundling. She was found tossed on the side of a highway, no clothing, no blanket – simply a tiny infant, left beside the road, apparently to die. Adopted by the Larsen’s, a good New Bergin, Wisconsin family, Raye never knew who left her by the side of the road. Now, in “Heat of the Moment”, we meet Becca Carstairs, Veterinarian, speaker with animals, and second daughter of Henry and Pru. Lovely, sweet Becca, who has no idea that she is anything but her parent’s daughter. And no idea why someone is trying to murder her. With Henry and Pru to guide her, Raye finds her way to Becca. But will she be too late to save her sister from a madman?

I am absolutely loving this series by Lori Handeland. The narrative is tightly woven, the characters well written, and the historical background beautifully, heartrendingly designed. The Christian religious connotations are sharply and bone-chillingly drawn, showcasing the hatreds and obsessions of a barbaric time brought forward into the beliefs of modern times. The reality upon which the story is based is deeply, deeply disturbing – especially in light of the religious hatreds still extant today. This is a wonderful series I hope you will enjoy.

The next book, “Smoke on the Water” will tell Willow Black’s story. Willow’s story begins on the banks of a Northern Wisconsin creek, beneath a willow tree. Willow’s story is next on my list – and I am greatly looking forward to it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review.

Note to the Publisher:
Guys, Really! I never would have picked up these books on my own, based upon the cover art and titles. They come off as Young Adult novels if you simply look at the cover, but these are adult-centric books. The titles have only a passing reflection of the book contents. “In the Air Tonight” sounds like a Harlequin Romance, and “Heat of the Moment” does as well.  The books are much better than that, and deserve better titles and covers. I get it, Raye is an Air Elemental, Becca Fire, but still.

I Have Editing Time Available!

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I have editing time available in July and August. Everyone I have been working with is writing, traveling, or simply taking the summer off, so July and August are available. Please contact me for samples of my work, or see listings for the works of Susan Bliler, M.K. Clinton, Michael AngelMarigold Deidre Dicer, J.K. Walker and Erich Penhoff for a few of the books I have worked on. I have also been police and forensics research assistant and proofreader for Mark Henwick on his Bite Back Series; police and forensics research assistant on a British play yet to be published; police, forensics, language and location consultant for Nicole Loughan on her Saint series; English language translator on an Eastern European novel yet to be published; translator and editor for Armenian author Ella Adamian, and have beta read for several authors, including Meghan Ciana Doidge on her amazing Dowser Series.

Why look like this?

When you can look like this?

 

 

 

 

 

And your readers can look like this:

Instead of this?

don't tell meHere’s Something To Think About

Don’t worry – it’s not just Indie Writers who have problems with editorial issues! I just read a three book series by a “Known” author, WITH a publisher, and found over eighty-five spelling, word usage, continuity, and formatting issues!!! It became an obsession after a bit – how many could I underline while just doing a bit of reading, not actually editing?! Those were just the ones I notated – there were a lot more – but I got bored.

Why spend your time agonizing over editing when you can be putting your heart and soul into writing your next book? The competition for writers since the advent of self-publishing is fierce. Putting out your very best product is one way to catch your readers attention and keep it. And maybe even catch yourself a publishing house?

Some say your first eight words must catch your reader’s attention, or to keep their attention, some purport a specific number of seconds, from seven to thirty. Whichever you believe, you must believe that your work is not only important to you, it is important to your readers. Your work is their escape, a world where they can pursue their interests, no matter the genre. They can leave this world behind for one that engages their mind and heart. So many things make up a truly good book. Clear writing, character development, world building. And good editing!

Why don’t you let me help you with that?

Review: Summer on the Mountain by Rosemarie Naramore

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Summer on the MountainSummer on the Mountain was the perfect book for me to pick up today. After going out in the predawn light to plant raspberries, I came in hot, tired, and sore (and covered in mosquito bites – this humidity has caused a huge influx of the nasty little buggers!) After a long hot shower, it was time to relax. And this was just the ticket.

Summer Windham loves her job working in an art gallery for her good friend and boss Gwendolyn Lawton. The only thing missing in her life is her painting. Her muse abandoned her when difficult clients put her through the wringer, trashing her self-esteem and self-confidence. Now, a year later, Gwendolyn is determined to bring back Summers Muse. And though Gwendolyn considers the Great Outdoors to be an anathema:

“When I took my vows, I promised to love and honor. I never said anything about roughing it in the wilderness.”

She sees an opportunity to get Summer painting again, and to get back into her husband’s good graces for running out on his sixty-fifth birthday (that whole “wilderness” thing), by sending Summer up to their family cabin to paint the cabin and lands that her hubby, Leonard, loves beyond measure. Summer loves landscapes – surely getting out into nature will help her find her center again?

Summer is excited at the idea of visiting the cabin, though she worries that her muse will never return. And the fact that her first day there is, to put it mildly, an unmitigated disaster, doesn’t bode well for her summer in the mountains. The local game warden, Gwendolyn’s youngest son, Jarrod, manages to cause her to fall into the freezing lake, accuses her of being a burglar, threats her with arrest, and generally leaves her standing around freezing in her sopping wet clothes while waiting around for the sheriff to come take her to jail for a litany of offenses he thinks she has committed. Well, how was she to know you aren’t supposed to fish without a license?! And if the big jerk would just call his mom and check, he would know that she wasn’t a burglar! Sheesh.

Devastating poaching, break-ins and robberies are bad enough, but being covered in poison ivy, suffering a nasty cold from having to stand around in freezing weather after a freezing dunk in the lake, and being chased by an angry mamma bear is bad enough, but the jerky warden next door is nearly as big a pain in the backside as all that combined. But when her cold passes to him, Karma is a beeotch. And my wicked grin made several appearances from that point on.

This is the first book by Rosemarie Naramore I have read. I may not get around to reading any more of her books any time soon – so many books, so little time – but I did enjoy this lighthearted romance with an undercurrent of the terrible things that humans do to animals all in the name of profit. Jarrod comes off from the first as a smug, self-absorbed jerk of the first water (He jumps to the conclusion right away that, since she isn’t a burglar, his mother must have sent her as her latest attempt at matchmaking. HA! “Honey, you’re a good looking man, and as your mother, I love you to pieces, but sweetie, you are an arrogant. . .”). Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth! But his love for the creatures and the land is vividly drawn and believable – and besides, he may be an idiot, but he is a gentle idiot – and maybe not such an idiot at all (if he can just get his head out of up there where it is dark!)

A relaxing book with suspense, mystery, some action, and a gentle, believable romance.

Review: Targeted by Katie Reus

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“And I’ve fallen.

So hard.

I’ve hit the ground. Gone right through it. Never in my life have I felt this. Nothing like this. I’ve felt shame and cowardice, weakness and strength. I’ve known terror and indifference, self-hate and general disgust. I’ve seen things that cannot be unseen.

And yet I’ve known nothing like this terrible, horrible, paralyzing feeling. I feel crippled. Desperate and out of control. And it keeps getting worse. Every day I feel sick. Empty and somehow aching.

Love is a heartless bastard.”  – ― Tahereh Mafi, Destroy Me

Targeted: Deadly Ops, Book 1 | Katie ReusA bad start to a book can stop my read in its tracks, and this one started out, well, bad. Not because the writing is bad, it isn’t, but because I thought it was going to be just another series of bedroom calisthenics with no real story to back it up. Thankfully, the premise sounded promising, so I gave it a couple of chapters to see if it would be worth reading.

I am glad I did. Targeted surprised me – in a good way. The story, once you get past the immediate problem, is tightly written, well-paced, and surprisingly free of excessive nookie at the cost of story. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a ‘romantic suspense’ – but it does mean that it is much more suspense than romance, which is just what I like.

The premise is interesting – not ‘Oh, I have never seen that before’ interesting, but though I have seen it done before, I have never seen it done this well before. Sophie Moreno had a hard life growing up. A very hard life, until she met Sam. Placed in the same foster home, Sophie and Sam form an unbreakable bond. But when placed separately for their last months in the system, and Sophie is brutally raped by her new foster father while her new foster mother stands by, Sophie is broken, unable to bear the agony and shame she feels. And the pain of Sam not being there to protect her from the monster. Contrary to what the sickos into BDSM think – Rape Is NOT Sexy. And Sophie is certain that no one will ever love her again. Not like Sam did, before she was brutalized. Turning her back on him, she sends him away, determined to protect herself from his disgust at what has happened to her.

Now, thirteen years later, Sam is no longer Sam but Jack Stone, an undercover agent for an undercover agency hidden within the NSA. Back from a grueling undercover operation in the bowels of a human trafficking ring, Jack just wants to rest, relax, and decompress. But his boss, Wesley Burkhart, Deputy Director of the NSA, has something different in mind. Something that will bring Jack right back to Sophie. For Sophie has seen something she shouldn’t – and a vicious cartel boss will do whatever it takes to track Sophie down and kill her. Now Jack is determined to protect her, while keeping his identity a secret. But their old bond is still there, and keeping his secret may destroy them both.

This book, the first in the Deadly Ops series by Katie Reus, shows promise. The action is well written, the characters intriguing, and the storyline kept me riveted. There were some continuity issues that had me scratching my head, but not enough to make me turn off my listen. I am hoping that the same issues don’t show up in the next book, Bound to Danger. These are the only two on Audible, but there are more in the series at Deadly Ops.

Sophie Eastlake does a beautiful job of narration. She has quite a catalog with Audible, including the Elder Races, Nikki Glass, and the Chicagoland Vampires series. I would have enjoyed listening to the book just for her narration.

If you are looking for a romantic suspense where the suspense is the star, you might give it a try. I wasn’t disappointed. Not a five star read, due to a couple of odd content issues, but a good listen nonetheless.

Review: Wild Card by Lisa Shearin

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Wild Card (Raine Benares, #0.5)Not long ago I found Lisa Shearin through her SPI Files series books, The Grendel Affair and The Dragon Conspiracy. I enjoyed those books greatly, so nosed around to see if I thought I would like any of her other books as well. It made sense – if you like one series, you will in all likelihood enjoy the author’s other work as well. Looking at Lisa’s page on Goodreads, I noted that the first novella of the Raine Benares series, Wild Card (Raine Benares .05) was available, and was the perfect way to begin, especially as the audio is only $5.95. Besides, I like Eileen Stevens, the narrator, so I downloaded it from Audible to give the series a try.

I wasn’t disappointed. I like Raine. She is strong, though not overpoweringly so. While she is a magical elf, her magic isn’t of the “Blow them all up” type. Rather, she is a Seeker – she finds missing items, missing people, that sort of thing. Now, she has been asked to find the stolen jewels belonging to Lady Kaharit (listening on Audible means you can’t always know how things are spelled!) a high standing Goblin lady. Of course, who she is to steal them from is scary in its own right – and it leads to even scarier things very quickly.

Magic Lost, Trouble Found (Raine Benares 1) is playing on my tablet now! Oh, and the third in the SPI Series, The Brimstone Deception, is due out January 26, 2016 (Soooo Long!! :-() but I already have it on my “must have” list.

Help! Attacked By Horrible Book!!!

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It starts with a P, ends with a Y, and has a USS in the middle. Yep. Ross is one of those, Lucy and Sabina’s mom is an overbearing bulldozer, the Church Ladies of Last Chance are determined that because the local whacko, Miriam Randal has said that Sabina can’t “find her man” until after Lucy is settled, Lucy and Ross have to get married RIGHT. NOW. Lucy is a spoiled rotten brat with an attitude and an obsessive need to control everyone and everything – especially the man she supposedly loves – and he lets her (see first sentence). Oy. I really. Really. Don’t like these people!!!

Well, except for Sabina. I like Sabina well enough in a way, but darn it, she lets everyone run rough shod over her while she wallows in guilt about something that happened when Lucy was thirteen – and it wasn’t even Sabina’s fault. Oy.

There is a secondary story here, about a possible eco terrorist group but, sadly, I only made it 35% of the way through the book before I rolled my eyes so hard I pulled a muscle and had to go lay down. Well, not really, but I couldn’t bear to read another word without bouncing my reader off the wall. And seeing as how my reader is brand new, that wasn’t going to happen. The characters are in their mid-thirties and still living in high school!

I hate to stamp a DNF on a book, but this one did me in. Immature doesn’t begin to describe it. Oh Well. At least the cover is pretty.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I absolutely hated what I read of it.

Review: Measure of Danger by Jay Klages

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“Hope dMeasure of Dangeroes not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil or the government.” – Chris Hedges

Jay Klages knows his stuff when it comes to the military, espionage, rouge military technology and the new and terrifying dangers our world faces today. I wanted to get that out there first, because I think Mr. Klages has a bright writing future. As far as this first book goes, I found a lot to like about it. But I just couldn’t quite ‘lock onto’ the story. It has a lot of the things I like about this sort of thriller. Action at warp speed, a quirky main character. But there were things I believe a good content editor could have really helped with. There were plot angles that simply didn’t work for me – they were too “coincidental”, too unbelievable, for a work with so much promise. I kept getting jerked out of the story with “Huh?” moments. The bland ‘cud munching’ attitude of the security around AgriteX bothered me, as did the oddball FBI reactions to Kade’s experiences and information he passed out to them. It just didn’t feel right.

I look forward to following Mr. Klages work. As a first book, the promise shines through, and I believe that with experience and a bit better management by Thomas & Mercer, his next work can receive a much better review.

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

About Jay Klages

Jay Klages Jay Klages is a former military intelligence officer and West Point graduate who lives in Gilbert, Arizona. He attended the MBA program at Arizona State University, where he successfully deprogrammed himself for service in corporate America. He enjoys desert trail running and is particularly good at falling down.

Jay would love to hear from readers at jayklages@ymail.com, facebook.com/jayklages, or Twitter @JKlages. His author website is at jklages.com.

MEASURE OF DANGER is his debut novel.

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