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So, I Read This Book Today

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Month

September 2013

Review: Wormholes: A Novel by Dennis Meredith

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Click to order the book.

Sometimes, a book is defined completely by the knowledge and experiences of it’s author. Oh, some can write books about subjects about which they have no real knowledge. It isn’t like any of us actually live in an Urban Fantasy world, right?

Wormholes is a book of another colour, however. It’s author, Dennis Meredith, is an expert in his field, and it shows in his work. Mr. Meredith’s has been a science communicator at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the University of Wisconsin. He has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career.

The funny thing about Wormholes is how well written and believable it is – while also being, as the writer puts it, “The work of a liar and a thief.” But that is OK!

According to Mr. Meredith, his original question was, “What if holes were to suddenly open up into other universes?” The development of Wormholes is based on this question, and explained beautifully in his article about the book. As Mr. Meredith puts it, the book isn’t ‘real’ science, but was written to encourage interest in science by those who may never have been interested in science before.

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Click to read the article

In my case, I absolutely found his work fascinating. My Kindle copy is brightly coloured, with all sorts of highlighting, meant to encourage the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” (OK, not really, but you get the point). Mr. Meredith not only knows his physics, he knows how to communicate. Even though the physics may not be based on ‘fact’, as per his article about why he wrote the book, his story is based on so much actual knowledge that even though there is a lot of unreal physics, it feels so fully real it holds your attention without fail, encouraging the reader to be not only fascinated with the story, but encouraging you to want to learn more about what truly is real science.

The story takes the idea of wormholes and alternate universes, both scientific facts, and puts a spin on the concepts, writing a brilliantly creative book that stretches known boundaries, reaching beyond known scientific thought into a world of science fiction that kept me up until three in the morning, “just one more page, just one more page . . .”

If you are interested in science, or science fiction, this is a must read. And if you are into unusual thrillers? Well, you may find this book just as fascinating as a science geek like me. Either way? Read it. You won’t be sorry!

Highly recommended.

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The Heaven’s Rise: Due out October 15

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The Heaven’s Rise is out October 15.
If you love horror, suspense, Louisiana, you will LOVE this book.

It isn’t the big things that frighten me the most. Oh, they are frightening: the storms, the fires and floods and hurricanes like Katrina. Their devastation is horrific, tremendous, outside the realm of reality in their own way.

But those things can be shared, in all their pain and anger. What frightens me are the small things, the unseen things. The man who touches his three-year-old daughter, behind walls and in secret. The woman down the street, whose empty eyes have long given up hope for rescue from her abusive husband. The eyes of a starved and beaten animal, long past any understanding of why their loving nature has been so abused.

The Heaven’s Rise pushes those buttons, edges those boundaries, between madness and despair. Where evil is a scent or a sound, a chill running up the back of the neck. The sense of a shadow, just out of the reach of mind and eye. A memory, dropped deep within the well of the psyche, rising, groaning, into the subconscious at three in the morning.

In The Heaven’s Rise, all the evils, small and large, play a prominent role. The uncaring heartlessness of the political machine of New Orleans, the greed that played a role in the losses caused by Katrina and the tragedies that occurred before, during and after the storm. Greedy oil companies and exploding gas pipelines. The cruelty and hatred, the corruption of a body politic out of control.

But those are the large, the expected things. What shivers over my skin while reading this book are the small terrors, the 3AM night-sweats, the shadows in the corners of the room, moving and flowing, rising up. Superstition and hatred and death, and the spooky world of the Louisiana bayou jacked-up on the aftereffects of terror.

Sometimes, the nightmares that the rich can cause are worse than any dark creature, risen from the swamps. Especially given the powers of those shadows, those denizens of the darkest nights, and the fog shadowed edges of reality. It is the psychopath in his plain little house, living his plain little life, sharpening his blades in his plain little kitchen, before he walks out the door. The sociopath, passing through the crowd, innocuous and calm, quietly planning the collapse of the markets, or the deaths of thousands upon his whim.  Pol Pot. Ted Bundy. The quiet, unobtrusive fellow next door. The one you would never suspect.

The same. The same. They are all the same. The blankness in their eyes, the lack of a soul. Or a soul so blackened, so twisted, that the very act of having a soul is a torment, an automaton of evil, with lifeless, unblinking eyes. The primitive eyes of alligators, of lizards. Of blasted humans, drinking in the misery of others like a fine wine.

There is mystery and death and long hidden, deeply primitive secrets to this story, set both before and after the depredations of Katrina. Secrets and lies, and blasted human souls draw you into the book and keep you there, holding your breath while you skim the pages, drawn into the depths of greed, hatred, and pathology which would make Stephen King and M Night Shyamalan green with envy. For the horrors here are horrors of minds lost to the shadows, puppets with cut strings, dancing across the stage, deranged events in the midst of chaos. Monsters live in our minds. Our psyches. Only, sometimes? They get out.

And yet, at times, a small flame burns in the distance. The faint, small light of hope.

Review Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2-Kate Danley

Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2

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Click to get your copy. You will want to, because her new one is now out!

First, if you are looking for “serious” UF, before you pick up either of these volumes, let me warn you. Ilona Andrews or Mark Henwick, this is not. What this series is, though, is lighthearted fun with an interesting twist that keeps you reading. Sometimes, that is all you really need from a book, and Kate Danley delivers in spades.

One of the best things about this book is why Danley wrote it. Proceeds from the write-a-thon where this book was mostly written benefited the Young Writers Program, which funds free creative writing programs in hundred of schools and communities around the world. With the state of public education and the lack of support for the arts, I give Ms. Danley full kudos for her work.

The story itself picks up after the action in Maggie for Hire (Maggie MacKay – Magical Tracker). Maggie has her dad back and he and her mom have gone off for a nice weekend away to celebrate his return from two years stuck in limbo. Now, a new client walks in her door, with what seems a ridiculously simple job. To retrieve a simple ladies hair comb, ‘dropped in the desert’ outside of Calico Ghost Town on the far outskirts of Las Vegas. What happens next is a rather slap-stick (read ‘vintage Danley’) chase through deserts and down mine shafts to an old fashioned “Standoff At The OK Corral” ghost and monster style, in the streets of a real “Ghost Town” on the Other Side. As always, the good guys win, but only by a ‘ghost’ of a chance and with enough snark and ‘F’ bombs to float the Marie Celeste. (I will admit that I would appreciate some different and more creative expletives – the bomb is getting rather old . . .)

All in all, this series is funny and charming and is quite a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon. It doesn’t put a strain on the brain, the characters are to my mind quite likeable and you learn a bit more about Maggie’s mom in this one. I like her more even than I did before. I am really looking forward to the next one. I haven’t read The Woodcutter yet, that is on my list of must reads. Thanks, Ms. Danley, for a fun read and I look forward to more soon.

Funny throughout, good world building, likeable characters, lots of “F”bombs if you are offended by that sort of thing. Kate still needs a good editor, a few too many errors are creeping through that could set off the “Grammar Nazis”. Nothing five stars, but still well worth the $3.99.

The newest, Maggie on the Bounty (Maggie MacKay, Magical Tracker #3) was published July 15, 2013 and flew in right under my radar. I will be checking it out soon.

From the GoodReads blurb:

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The newest Maggie!

New business partners, Maggie and Killian, are looking forward to their latest gig: finding out why all the ghosts are disappearing from the Empress Adelaide, a turn of the century ocean liner who once shuttled Hollywood’s finest across the Atlantic. But Maggie and Killian find themselves trapped in the past, caught in a time rift with only a ghost of a chance of escaping. This ain’t no pleasure cruise.

Review: Maggie for Hire: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 1 by Kate Danley

Maggie For Hire Book One of the Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Series

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Come on, get the series. If you have a great sense of humour, this is a great series!

First, let’s get out of the way what Maggie isn’t – this isn’t a “romance” paranormal or not. It isn’t a “serious” urban fantasy work in the vein of Kate Daniels or Mercy Thompson. It is, instead, a pure and total snarky laugh riot. It is total enjoyment, a few hours of pure relaxation, where the weight of the world goes away and you can immerse yourself in another world.

“I suddenly felt like I was about to learn that I had walked into a great big game show of The Multiverse’s Next Top Stooge, Riiight.”

The world that you are immersing yourself in is really two worlds – the “normal” everyday world, and another, sitting side-by-side with this world, where all of our dreams and fears exist. If you have ever read Heinlein’s “The Number of the Beast” you are familiar with multiple world theory (well, if you are familiar with modern science, you are also familiar, lol) The Other Side, in Maggie’s case, is a world that fairy tale creatures and monsters of all types populate. As a Tracker, Maggie finds, and brings back to the Other Side, those who ‘slip’ across the barrier between worlds. What happens in this edition is exciting and entertaining, and full of a kind of snarky attitude that had me laughing out loud all through the book.

A couple of favorite quotes:

“Lacy interrupted herself to shout at the zombie porter, “Cut it out! He’s a vampire! he doesn’t have a brain!”

“Locking eyes with a vampire: “Way To Get Yourself Killed Right Quick #84″ in the Idiots Guide to not Getting Dead By A Monster.”

See? Pure fun, with a bit of action, a lot of crazy uncle and grins galore.

Now, “I shall run a load of laundry before we kick the bad guys’ asses.”

Read. Relax. Enjoy. And don’t go in with any expectations other than the fact that it is supposed to be fun and you will be very glad you did.

Review: Play Him Again: A Matt Hudson Roaring 20’s Crime Novel

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Click to look inside.

Note: I was originally asked by the writer to review this book when it first came out March 17, 2012, and received a copy for free. Before I was halfway through, I went back to Smashwords and purchased the book. This great a read deserves a payment to the author!

The Essex Super Six Coupe rolled over the redwood planking, shattered the wooden railing at the end of the Sunset Pier, and plunged into the Pacific Ocean.

 

I am not normally a student of American History. While the great histories of Egypt and the Mesopotamian regions are well within my purview, possibly my Native American history makes the history of the US after the arrival of the white man more painful than I care to think about. However, the period of this book, the 1920’s, the age of the Volstead Act and some of the bloodiest of the country, other than the Civil War, is admittedly fascinating. And Jeffrey Stone does an incredible job of making you feel like you are there, in the period, and know these people he is writing about.

The thing I totally admire about the book is Mr. Stone’s grasp of the period. His research was flawless. The main characters of the book are `rumrunners,’ those brave (and, of course, criminal) purveyors of `distilled spirits’, which were made illegal by the Volstead Act, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. This act of hubris, brought on by the efforts of `temperance societies’ in the US, created an atmosphere of violence and greed across the country unseen at any other period. Billions of dollars in tax revenues were lost (could the Great Depression have been foreshortened by the taxes from legal liquor sales?) while gangsters turned the country into a shooting gallery, and thousands died from imbibing bootleg liquors laced with wood alcohol and other chemicals. Embalming fluid, anyone?

Stone’s little band of `heroes,’ led by Hud, a rum runner and all around nice guy (yes, he is a criminal, but in those days, you took your `criminal’ by degrees) are devastated as the book opens by the murder of their friend Danny, a `big con roper’. As I got deeper and deeper into the book, the reality and the spirit of the period drew me in, and refused to let me go. Hud is a rumrunner, but he is also very involved in another story so integral to the period – the advent of `talkies’ – motion pictures that featured sound.

In this day and age of Blu-ray, surround sound and 3D, it is hard to remember that, in the first two decades of the 20th century, movies were filmed with no sound at all, and were viewed strictly in theaters. Stone’s research into the period provides fascinating background. While 1927’s “The Jazz Singer”, the first movie produced and distributed with actual spoken dialog, was hailed by audiences of the time, Warner Brothers Studios head, and others, considered `talkies’ a passing fad, and were reluctant to invest in the technology. Stone’s Hud, fascinated by the process and seeing the possibilities in the field, spends time during the book planning his own talkie production, thereby giving us deep insight into what I consider to the hysterically funny limitations of thought of the studio heads of the time. (Yes, you CAN buy a three-disk special edition of “The Jazz Singer” at Amazon. Personally, I am waiting for the 3D version – ROFL)

Overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read set in the period. I am a huge fan of Dashiell Hammett and his ilk from that period, but this is a different animal. Steeped in the actual history of the period, Stone’s Hud and his friends are a more accessible group, with a minimum of the angst present in Hammett’s work. With even the slightest interest in the period, the development of the movie industry, or human nature as a whole, this is definitely the book for you. I mean, who can’t love an author who starts out his story in the front seat of an Essex Super Six Coupe? I do love me some antique cars!

This book is free at Amazon! Get your copy today!

Raised in Ohio, Jeffrey M. Stone moved to Santa Monica, California, in his early twenties. He now lives in Sonoma, in the Northern California wine country. Santa Monica beach was two blocks away but now it’s forty miles to the coast, the water is cold, and the rocky shoreline not conducive to body surfing. These days his favorite pastimes are playing tennis and riding his bike. As a reader, Jeffrey’s preferred genres have always been mystery/crime and historical fiction. As a writer, he aspires to write well researched, entertaining crime stories that transport readers into a different era.

Colorado Flood Relief

If you can help at all, the people of Colorado would appreciate it. Donations made through any of these links go to Colorado Flood Relief, and you will know you donation will go to an honest charity.

The phone number for donations is 1-877-677-6727.

Tens of thousands of Coloradans never had need for flood insurance before – and now, their lives are devastated, their homes are lost, and they have lost loved ones. Help for the victims would be appreciated.

You can get further information from 7News or 9News.

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News7 Flood Relief Information

 

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News9 Flood Relief Information
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Donations to the American Red Cross are also welcome.

Review: Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-Shares

 

Click to get a copy. This book is SO worth reading!
Click to get a copy. This book is SO worth reading!

I only have one problem with this book. It wasn’t published soon enough. I have, you see, gone through Breast Cancer myself. Not like Margaret’s – hers was Stage IA, a very mild form of Breast Cancer, while mine was Stage IIIB, the last stage before becoming metastatic (spreading to other parts of the body, such as the liver, lungs, etc.).

This is not to say that I in any way am belittling Margaret’s mild cancer. Rather, I applaud her for her strength. Other than a very few friends, I had no family. She, on the other hand, has a loving husband and, at the time of her first bout with cancer, a two-year old son. She had a lot more to lose than I. And that is what matters in all cases, isn’t it? Our loss as it affects our families.

 It felt as if I were walking to the gas chamber or gallows.

 In December of 1999, when her son was two, Margaret had her first bout with breast cancer. The terror must have been horrific, even if she bore it well and doesn’t make a big deal of it in her book. She had a lumpectomy and radiation, and then lived a normal life, enjoying her husband and child and life itself, until 2012, when a ‘possible’ lump showed up again in the same breast that had given her trouble before. Now, things were different. Now, some serious issues would have to be addressed, and things would be different. It was time for the breasts to vacate the premises. And so begins her story of her diagnosis, treatment, and reconstruction.

Sometimes the only way to deal with horrific things in life is through a dark sense of humor. – Margaret Cho

The thing I truly admire about Margaret’s story is how she lays it out in a humourous manner. Oh, believe me, this story is not a funny one. The fear, pain and nausea, the surgeries and drains and pain, (oh, and did I mention pain?) is terrifying. At times, it is horrifying, and at others simply humiliating. I am right there with her on the nurse who looks at you like you are a bug to be squished on the floor for asking for a bedpan when you are too drugged and too agonized to make it to the bathroom. I was fortunate – I had the services of some of the best doctors and nurses in the world, at Littleton Adventist Hospital in Littleton Colorado, for my chemo treatments and multiple hospital visits (nothing like internal bleeding and constant vomiting and fainting to land you into a bed with multiple wires and tubes sticking out). I never had a single nurse or doctor treat me with anything less than compassion and respect (well, except for one doctor, and I think he was just a jerk, no matter what. Well, he was the one sticking the tubes up my bum and down my throat to find the bleeds. I suppose if I worked with people’s bums all day, I would be bad tempered too…)

Sometimes I say the medication is even tougher than the illness. – Sanya Richards-Ross

While some parts of cancer treatments can be different, interesting and ‘cocktail party worthy’ (take baldness, now I found that funny in and of itself, and never wore a wig. Hey, might as well laugh at yourself, right?) what isn’t funny or fun or anything even remotely pleasant is the chemotherapy. Sitting in a lounger for hours at a time while poison was being pumped into my veins was sure to send me into a full-blown panic attack, even at my weakest. Bring out the knock-out drugs! I told you, I had the Best. Chemo. Nurse. EVER.) Chemo is not fun. It leaves you weak, sick, tired, unable to eat or drink without having it come right back up again. Margaret covers the issue with her usual kindness and panache, pointing out the problems, but refusing to let it drive her down into the dark lands of her psyche. I admire that. I mostly just slept. For days and days. . .And that whole “you are going to go into menopause at the speed of the Shinkansen (the Japanese High-Speed Train System)” complete with hot flashes and weight fluctuations? So not fun. Margaret didn’t say how much weight she lost – I lost 60 lbs. Now, if I could have kept off about 30 of those! LOL

One of her nipples was lying on the bathroom tile.

 The part that Margaret went through, that I didn’t, was the reconstruction. I was 53 at the time, and hadn’t had a lover for over 20 years – why did I care? (We could get all up in the childhood and later sexual abuse, etc. but that doesn’t fit here.) The point is, I have to admit – the double mastectomy, in my case, was much easier than her reconstruction! I still had the pain, and the drains, but she went five months getting doses of saline injected to ‘stretch out’ her tissue, building new breasts. Nah, I will take my ‘barely there’ scar, the occasional odd look, and some ongoing tenderness across the chest. Hey, I can at least sleep on my stomach these days! When I was a D-cup, that was so not happening….. Her story of the reconstruction was sort of creepily fascinating to me, as I didn’t have it done. And of course, hearing the story of her friend who had reconstruction, and then one of her nipples fell off when she was toweling after a shower? (You have to read the book just for that part of the story.)

Overall, if you have the slightest interest in what your friend, family member, coworker, etc. is going through, you have to read this book. If you have the possibility of Breast Cancer yourself, are going through treatment, or have had cancer previously, you have to read this book. It is by turns scary and funny, but always compassionate.

Highly recommended.

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/staging  To learn about the stages of Breast Cancer

http://www.breastcancer.org The main site, this is the be-all and know-all site for Breast Cancer information

http://www.cancer.gov/  The home site for the National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health. There is Breast Cancer information here, but also research and information regarding a large number of different types of cancer.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/druginfo/breastcancer  Another segment of the NCI website, you can find information about different chemotherapy medications. Margaret was on Tamoxifen. I, on the other hand, had ATC therapy.  A combination of Doxorubicin (Adriamycin), Taxol (paclitaxel) and Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). You can find additional information on any of these drugs at:

https://www.navigatingcancer.com A great site for more info on cancer and cancer treatments

 

 

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design
Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Amanda Brown

Storey Publishing

Pub Date: Oct 2 2013

I have a confession. I am a serial crafter. Ooohhh!!! Shiny! Wanna try THAT!  Hence my workroom full of quilt fabrics, stained glass and tools, wood and woodworking tools, boxes of yarns, rolls of upholstery fabrics.  . . Oh. Did I say upholstery fabrics? Oh, yea!

You see, I found this beautiful wingback chair. The fabric was in bad shape, but the form was so gorgeous, I had to have it. And then, I found out it was going to cost several hundred dollars to have it recovered. Well, no way was that happening! So, I checked out the library, checked out a couple of upholstery books, and went to work. The body of the chair is gorgeous . . . but the seat? Well, let’s just say, the chair is sitting there, beside the upholstery tools and the rolls of fabrics. Couldn’t figure out how to make it so that it looked smooth and professional.

Well, with Spruce I am going to be making a trip to the upholstery supplies store, because I know how to do it now! Amanda’s book is beautiful. Not just her work, the overall design and layout of the book. The photos are clear and beautifully done, and she even shows layouts of why she made the fabric choices she made for her style and room size and shape. From design plans and yardage estimations, tying coil springs and choosing the right padding to sewing knife edge pillows, Amanda covers it all, in a clear and precise manner, with lots of those beautiful photos. Of course, Chapter 19, Constructing a T-Cushion is going to be my first job I am going to take away from this lovely little book. After that? My recliner took a beating during my cancer treatments and the aftermath, and to say the seat is sad is quite an understatement…. I was only comfortable sitting against the left arm of the chair, so now the poor thing sags in that spot, leaving me sitting sideways when I sit in it. I am going to be thrilled to fix that and be able to use my recliner again!

Overall? If you have the faintest interest in upholstery, this is definitely a wonderful go-to book. Even if you want to start out just making some beautiful pillows, I highly, highly recommend that you add this book to your shelf. It is beautiful, helpful, and so well written that it is a true pleasure to read.

A highly recommended craft book!

Storm Chasing During Boulder’s 100-Year Flood

More photos and information on the 100-Year Flood from Susie Lindau,

Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

Jessica Farris -Creekside 3Photo by Jessica Farris

Drenched by torrential rain over a period of four days, creeks swelled into forceful rivers, dams burst and walls of water cascaded from the foothills all along the Front Range in Colorado. 18.44 inches of rain fell in South Boulder alone, but surrounding areas recorded 14 to 16 inches. Thousands have been evacuated to shelters. 3 died in Boulder County. Nearly 200 are unaccounted for, but many are still being rescued and don’t have access to phones. Yesterday, National Guard helicopters rescued over 550 people and the thwapping of blades could be heard overhead early this morning. Many towns are still completely cut off. Our average rainfall for the month of September is 1.63 inches. This is insane!

Living in a semi-arid state, most expect the occasional forest fire and we’ve had our share. Much of Boulder is located in a one hundred-year flood plain

View original post 1,383 more words

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