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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Month

August 2013

Review: ARC for “By Proxy” – Katy Regnery

byproxy
Click to go to GoodReads site for By Proxy!

There are some really strange laws in this country of ours. Did you know that, in the state of Montana, it is illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone?  And it is illegal for a man and a woman to have sex in any other position other than missionary style? I don’t know which of those laws disturbs me more.

Then there is the Montana “Marriage by Proxy” law. There are even companies whose sole purpose is to arrange these proxy marriages. Hum? A ‘proxy marriage’? Yep! If you and your sweetie are military personnel stationed overseas, one or both of you can have a ‘stand-in’ for your wedding.

In Katy’s new book, “By Proxy” this odd little law leads to a funny, touching and lovely little tale set in beautiful Montana, on the edge of Yellowstone National Park.  Kristian is posted in Afghanastan, while his fiancée Ingrid is posted in Germany. A weekend leave leaves Ingrid ‘in the family way’, a condition that has both families up in arms, and makes a quick wedding rather imperative.  Bring on Jenny, Ingrid’s best friend, and Sam, Kristian’s cousin, and let the fireworks begin!

I truly enjoyed this sweet little book. Jenny is a lovely young schoolteacher, a small town girl with three big brothers and a heart as big as the state she lives in. Sam however, is a hard drinking, hard partying city-boy. And when a storm, a plow and a missing judge bring on a weekend with Sam stuck in the tiny town of Gardiner, what happens is a truly funny and touching story.

This is a light, fun read that I truly enjoyed.

__________________
I was asked by the author to review this book. This in no way affects my review of this or any other book in the series. Opinions are my own.

Review: Discount Armageddon – Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon
Click cover to go to GoodReads!

Before I write this particular review, I have something to confess. It is something of a fluke that I read Discount Armageddon. If I had realized who wrote it, I wouldn’t have done it, but the description looked good, and C.E. Murphy liked it, so I picked it up and started reading. It wasn’t until I was well into the book, and thoroughly enjoying it that I realized this was the same author who wrote the October Day series. I have tried to read Rosemary and Rue multiple times and simply couldn’t enjoy it. The lead, October, just irritated me to no end. Whine whine whine. Get over it, put on your big-girl panties, and get a life! Authors who write weak and whiny characters just don’t do it for me.

So, imagine my surprise when I literally couldn’t put Discount Armageddon down. Verity Price is a cryptozoologist, a cryptozoologist with a jones for dancing and a strong backstory. The research and presentation into cryptids is exceptionally well done. There isn’t ‘magic’ in the development of the crypids, but rather evolutionary pressures which brought about the development of the ‘non pure human’ species. It is a new and creative presentation that immediately pulled me into the story. What kept me there is Verity herself. She is strong without being overdone, has a good head on her shoulders and a good heart. She isn’t ‘Wonder Woman’ but she is cool, collected and willing to do what needs to be done to get the job done.  She is willing to put herself out there for what she believes in, and doesn’t pull punches when necessary. Her life is balanced between ballroom dancing, waitressing in a ‘titty-bar’ called Fish and Strip and trying to maintain the delicate balance between humans and cryptids in New York.

There is a bit of romance, but another thing I really liked is that the balance of the relationship was even, and it isn’t ‘boy meets girl, boy saves girl’ – though he is in the group that fights in the end.  Dominic comes with his own problems, serious problems, and it will be interesting to follow his growth (or lack of said) should he continue as a character through the second book in the series, Midnight Blue-Light Special.

midnightblue-lightspecial
Click to go to Good Reads.

The back-story of her family and how they interact with the world is brilliant.  It takes a historical concept, the inability of humanity to accept anything they consider ‘different’, and their willingness to commit genocide due to their fear of that same difference and pulls it out into the sunshine. As anyone who reads my reviews knows, I am always willing to see deeper levels in author’s writings. Even if sometimes those different levels aren’t really there. I am able, in this novel, to see layers of prejudice, xenophobia, the incapability of humanity to grow and mature, and the strength required for a person, or a small group, to stand up and say ‘this is wrong.’

rosemaryandrue
Audible.com edition

Overall, this is a wonderful story. One of the things I like most about it is the authors ability to make me laugh. Some author’s take themselves so seriously that I can’t enjoy their books as much as I should. Exceptional books require a level of humour, of taking themselves more lightly at times, in order to give their works that balance that nudges them from mediocre to exceptional.  I think that is why I was so surprised with this book. McGuire didn’t show me that in Rosemary and Rue. I simply wanted to shoot October in the head to put her out of my misery. Verity, on the other hand, I would enjoy knowing.

I have some R4R’s to complete in my ‘have a minute to read’ times. But I am absolutely going to start Midnight Blue-Light Special. I actually picked it up from Audible.com, though I wish I hadn’t, as Emily Bauer is narrating and her voice reminds me of a sixth-grader, but we will see if I can get past that. I usually enjoy listening more than straight reading, it lets me have both of my hands available and the voices often pull me so deeply into a novel that I literally lose myself in the book. It will be interesting to see if I can get past Bauer’s voice in order to lose myself in the book, or if I will have to drop back to a Kindle edition in order to be able to enjoy the book.

The Jester Tea Cozy!

Cozy? Cosy? Ah, shucks. It’s done, and that is what matters, right? LOL!

Drumroll please! For all of you out there (including myself) who believe whole-heartedly that I NEVER finish a knitting project (oooooo…. shiny!) I present to you . . .

The Jester Tea Cozy!

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Yes, yes, the pictures are terrible, but as you can tell, it is late at night and the sun isn’t out. Better photos next time! My teapot is larger than normally sized for in instructions, so I had to ‘fiddle’ with it to get it to fit, but not bad, huh?

I am going to make more – this is Noro wool, the next one is being made from leftovers of other yarns. Don’t know which cozy I will make next, but show and tell is coming!

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Preview: Lace One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant

Lace One-Skein Wonders

101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace

laceoneskeinwonders

I was fortunate enough to get a review copy, and I am so happy I did!

Confession:  I love yarn. Love. It. All sorts and types and colours and sizes. All the yummy without the calories! So, when I see something I can’t resist, well, I have to have at least one skein, right? But then, what do I do with all these little yummys?

Just what I always wanted. My own little bunny rabbit. (skein of luscious yarn). I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him…  (Hugo the Abominable Snowman from Looney Toons)

Judith’s lovely book has 101 projects – 101!!!  Yippee skippee! Well, that will at least take up part of my single skein stash! LOL

I am going to make Kim Whelan’s Etta Hat first. A bit of a slouch (which I love) with just a bit of lace. Kim used 245 yards of Brown Sheep Company Nature Spun Worsted Weight. I am going to make it in Lotus Pink or Fuscia, yum!  Mitts and the Violeta Cowl, and I am ready for winter. Well, of course, got to add socks, too! I have to make the Travel Worthy Mitts, I have a beautiful ball of cashmere I have been petting for quite a while! Well, I actually have two, so the other may go into the Three Button Baby Sweater. I don’t know anyone with a baby, but it is just So. Darn. CUTE!

There are baby things and and scarves, cowls and scarves and stoles, accessories, and even sweet little things for the house.

You have to have this book when it comes out! I am already pulling skeins from my stash and matching them to the items I want to make. How cool is that? And the lace patterns are beautiful, too. I always want to try new lace and cable patterns. These little jewels are the perfect way to try things out without diving into a whole sweater.

It’s coming soon – the publication date is September 10!!!  Click the cover  photo to preorder!

Mountain of Dreams by C.L. Bevill Now Published!

mountainofdreams
Click here to purchase from SmashWords!

Book Two of The Dreams Series is out.

Once the world was normal. The day after the change, there were new creatures galore and nearly every human had vanished. The survivors gathered together to make a new society and Sophie, a seventeen-year-old from Oregon, does her best to fit in. Desperate to find a reason for living, she travels east to Washington, D.C. to meet with the new President of the U.S.A. and finds that existing and living are two very different things. The old world hasn’t really been left behind and human treachery continues to threaten their existence.

The first book, Sea of Dreams is currently FREE!!! Click on the cover to order it from Smashwords!

seaofdreams

In a single night, everyone has vanished. Only Sophie remains, a typical seventeen year old girl from Oregon. While hiking with her father, she goes to sleep one night and wakes up to find that a sea of dreams has washed over the world, irrevocably changing everything. Electricity no longer works. Technology has ground to a halt. Towns have disappeared. New animals, unicorns, gryphons, and giant beasts for which Sophie has no name, have appeared. In her determined quest to understand and to endure, Sophie finds other survivors. Zach, young, handsome and full of his own secrets is one. There is Gideon, a fifteen year old leader of a group of other survivors in the California Redwoods. There is also the Burned Man, an individual who wants Sophie dead for both thwarting him and escaping his sinister intentions. All have special psychic abilities in common, which leads Sophie to believe that is the reason they survived. Sophie’s premonitions, Zach’s eerie dreams of Sophie before the change, and Gideon’s supernatural powers of perception all link them together in a very dissimilar world. Sophie’s recently developed empathy to one of the new creatures, something that resembles both a firefly and a pixie, will guide her in her burgeoning role as both protector and protagonist in a startling newborn period. Magic is real. Technology is gone. The new and the old must learn to coexist or be vanquished forever. Sophie struggles to understand her responsibilities and to stay alive and one step ahead of the Burned Man.

As you may know from my previous posts, C.L. Bevill is a wonderful author. I can hardly wait to read these two books!

Review: Secrets of a Mayan Moon – Paty Jager

secrets of a mayan moon
Click cover to go to Good Reads page.

I love books that utilize archeology as the basis for their story line. The history, the intelligence, the people. It is all captivating. Even more so when a book, though it may be fiction, is based upon good, solid scientific knowledge.

Paty Jager has put in the study, with Secrets of a Mayan Moon, that is required to make a spectacular modern archeological novel. Set in the jungles of Guatemala, Jager weaves Mayan history with the modern problems of drug runners and the looting of historical sites for profit.

Isabella Mumphrey is a genius. She has worked harder than anyone else in her field, battered by others jealous of her brilliance and dedication to her studies of Mayan history. Desperate for funding for her studies, due to be cut from her university, she jumps at the chance to take her first field trip out of the country, and save her work. Lured to Guatemala by her mentor and old family friend, she travels far into the jungle with a guide, supposedly sent by her mentor. Little does she know, things are not as they seem. Not only is the jungle dark and deep, but also the truth of her ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ is darker than she could have ever imagined.

There is a realistic tone to the book, with just a bit of mysticism and a thread of romance. Neither the mysticism nor the romance was overdone, which I appreciated.  Too many novels seem to lean heavily on the romance bits to cover for a lack of writing skills. With this first Isabella Mumphrey book, I am happy to say that this was not the case. The point was the story, and a grand adventure it was. There are multiple layers to Secrets of a Mayan Moon. The archeology, of course, as well as the drugs, the looting, and the mystery of why Isabella is truly there. But there is also the truth of who Isabella, herself, really is. IS she who she has always thought? And why have her parents never loved her? All in all, a very well developed and enjoyable book. I had never read any of Paty Jager’s work before, so this book was quite an enjoyable surprise. You may see her other works at GoodReads. Ms. Jager writes a great deal of “Petticoat Western” style romance books, so if that is your thing, I would recommend those to you also. That genre isn’t to my taste, and makes me wonder why Ms. Jager decided to write these books on archeological adventure – but I am certainly glad that she did!

secrets of an aztec temple
Click cover to go to Good Reads page.

I received this book for review, but have already bought the next book, Secrets of an Aztec Temple. I greatly look forward to reading it.

Highly recommended!

Republican plan to raise number of starving American Children to over 4 MILLION

I have been spending the last couple of days flat on my back, fighting off a virus that made breathing an Olympic sport. Chemo saved my life, but it left me susceptible to every germ that blows in the breeze. Ugh. I am sitting up now, catching up on mail on my laptop (Shh, don’t tell my house mate. She said I was to stay down another 24, but I have stuff to do!)

I read the Huffington Post and nearly fell out of bed. I don’t know why. I know what the Republican Party considers good politics – the politics of the RICH. However, the sheer spite and viciousness of their newest plan had me rushing to put my head in the toilet.

Food Stamp Cuts Would Deny Benefits To At Least 4 Million: CBPP

“House Republican leaders haven’t formally released the language of their plan, but the information they have made available makes clear that the proposal will be very harsh, denying SNAP to at least four million to six million low-income people, including some of the nation’s poorest adults, as well as many low-income children, seniors, and families that work for low wages,” the CBPP’s Dottie Rosenbaum, Stacy Dean, and Robert Greenstein said in a report published Monday.”

There are already approximately ONE MILLION CHILDREN GOING HUNGRY in this country.

Let me say that again.

There are already approximately ONE MILLION CHILDREN GOING HUNGRY in this country. Republicans want to raise that number to between FOUR AND SIX MILLION. The report of the 2013 World Hunger Organization Report is here:

Hunger in America: 2013 United States Hunger and Poverty Facts

And this report doesn’t take into account the new Republican plan to throw even more Americans into even deeper poverty.

The Republican Party would throw all of these Americans into even more desperate poverty, all while rolling around in their piles and piles of ill-gotten gains. (Check out Silver Justice by Russell Blake if you aren’t into statistical analysis of the most recent Wall Street Crash. He writes beautifully and covers the theft of America exceptionally well. Now I have to go write the review I notice I never wrote. Nah, more sleep and fluids first.)

So, I am hoping all of you will stand with me to make our rage at the tactics of the Republican Party obvious. Two-thirds of the wealthiest people in the U.S. added to their fortunes this year, boosting their average net worth by $400 million to a record $4.2 billion. And yet, MILLIONS OF EVERYDAY AMERICANS are living below poverty level, due to jobs being sent overseas and to the shenanigans on Wall Street. While the top 500 wealthy people in the US hold America’s future in their pockets, too many starve.

Are we simply going to sit and watch? Write your Congressperson, your Senator, you local Republican running for office. Write the Huffington Post and your local paper.Let’s do our best to help stop hunger in America. Heck. While we are at it, let’s write our favorite companies and ask why all of our call-center jobs are now outsourced. It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford fancy clothes if you work in a call center. And you can feed your family!

TWO Happy Dances!!

wicked
Click the cover to purchase!

The amazing Jillian Klein Der Lowe just shot me an e-mail letting me know that her book, Wicked, just hit the #3 spot in her genre on Amazon!!

applause
Icon courtesy of
http://unf.edu
Thank you!

Click the cover to grab the book from Amazon FOR FREE!!!! Then, of course, after you have read it, I am sure Jillian would love a review. (Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge!)  My review is here in case you want to refresh or haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet.

Congratulations, Jillian!!

Now, for even MORE good news, we turn to another wonderful author, J. C. Mells, author of the Pierced series.

J. C. is happy to announce that her next book in the series, Pinked is nearing the end of editing, and will be out soon! Pinked continues the adventures of Pierce and Mia, a fascinating pair, with a story that is one of the most interesting I have read in recent memory.  Watch for the review here, and for publication at Amazon soon. Until then, you really MUST pick up your own copy of Pierced! Click on the book cover to order. My review is hereIt is only 99c right now, and J. C. is sure to be a wonderful addition to your ‘must-buy-as-soon-as-published’  author list!

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of Escaped, volume 1.5 of the Pierced series! It is also only 99c for a short time at Amazon.

Congratulations, J. C.!

Shrieking and Jumping up and down! J. C. just sent along the cover for PINKED!!!

Drool worthy, huh?  Click on the cover to see the video trailer!PINKED BC3

J. C. just sent me the cover!
Click on it for the YouTube Video
for the upcoming book!
Squeeee!!!!
pierced
For now, Pierced is only 99c at Amazon.
Click cover to order!
escaped
Click to purchase from Amazon!
Only 99c for a short time.
You KNOW you won’t be able to live without it
after reading Pierced!

Review: Gator Moon – Max Ray

thumbsdownWhen I pick up a book, whether it has been presented to me for review, or simply because it caught my eye for a well-written blurb, concept, or sometimes just the cover, it is always my intention to go into the read with an open mind and a positive attitude. Someone has sweated and yearned, poured their hearts and minds upon the page. They are opening their soul for your perusal. That sort of endeavour takes guts, without a doubt. It is a part of the author  – but it is also a group effort. The writer writes. But then, there must also be those ‘outside eyes’. The eyes of those who see the work as what it is, without the blinders of soul-straining obsession. Editors, proofreaders, publishers, even caring and literate friends, who take the rough work and hone it to a literary knife’s edge.

Ray has much to say in his preface to the book. One of the things he says, that I truly agree with, “. . . fiction writing is an art form of the stature of the artist stoking oils on canvas.” OK, the sentiment works, but the wording? Well, not so much. That should have told me something about what to expect. I absolutely agree with this concept. Fiction writing is, indeed, an art form. However, even artists must hone their craft, accept the help and counsel of teachers and connoisseurs who are versed in the field and know what true ‘art’ is.

Through his own admission, Ray took all of the knowledge and suggestions given to him by erudite and experienced persons, and used it to line the cat box. Apparently, because his own ego refused to accept that his grand capability as a “syntactician’ (his term, not mine) was in any way imperfect.

From his description of his work, I expected a beloved child of Faulkner, Hemingway and James Lee Burke. Eagerly, I dove into the book, expecting the work to draw me into the poetry and the heat, the mystery and the scents of the ‘Grand South’. What I got instead was the bastard offspring of a sixth-grade English composition class for the learning disabled. Southern dialectics can include poor grammar, and with proper writing this simply pulls you into the story allowing you to become part of the scene. I try not to be a ‘Grammar Nazi’ without good cause. However, this book presented a simple case of truly bad writing, with no redeeming qualities. The writing is by turns stiff and pompous, robotic and preening. Even the punctuation was pretentious, which is, admittedly, quite a feat in and of itself.

It is such a shame when authors feel that they are so ‘special’ they don’t have to take advice from willing sources. The idea was interesting. CIA undercover operations, unauthorized transplants, mystery, suspense, thrills and chills and all that jazz. How disappointing that everything fell so short of that goal. I am a huge fan of original Cussler, James Rollins, Russell Blake, Brad Thor, Lee Child, John Sanford, Robert Crais and Steve Berry. The list of great thriller writers is long and distinguished. It is being added to all the time, with upcoming Indie writers such as the amazing Michael Hurley, Gordon Gumpertz, and Eric Martin. That list, also, is long and becoming more distinguished, as their works become better known. So, imagine my distress when this author stands up on his metaphorical soapbox and states that his book is only for “15-55 year old males”. So, wait. If I am a 56-year old male this book isn’t for me? What about the fact that I am a (mumble mumble)-year old female with a huge collection of books in his particular genre? Am I not supposed to read this book either?

My final word to this author, and to others like him would be to actually listen to those whose job it is to take your work and help you to mold it into an object of beauty. Apparently, many people tried to help Ray, and all offers of assistance were shunned. My suggestion to hopeful writers everywhere? Be careful. If your ego is too large to fit in the same house with you, consider allowing yourself to accept the use of a straight pin to pop the darn thing before it sucks all the oxygen out of the universe.

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