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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Month

December 2013

New Reviews: The Bite Back Series by Mark Henwick – INCREDIBLE!!!!

There is always something special about a new book in a favorite series coming out. I get to read the previous editions before reading the newest. It draws me back into the story, reminding me of things I may have forgotten, and building the characters back up in my mind.

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Wild Card – Book Three – Bite Back Series

I just finished re-reading the first two books of The Amber Farrell Series, and then had the pure and distinct privilege of reading the newest Wild Card. Siiiiiggghhhhh…… OK, Mark, ready for the next!

Re-reading Slight of Hand and Hidden Trump was actually even more enjoyable this time than the first time(s) I read them. Maybe because I am always so unutterably thrilled every time one comes out that I literally inhale the books, cover to cover, without taking time to really slow down and enjoy. It feels much like being lost in the desert for days, and then being offered a cool, clean drink of water. The tendency is to gulp the water down, no matter how good it tastes.

This time, I did things differently. I drank slowly, in small sip, holding the cool inside my mouth, tasting and enjoying. And this time? The excellence of the vintage truly overwhelmed me. I’m not kidding. Not exaggerating. Mark really is that good. His stories are urban fantasy that is true. However, they are so much more than that. Mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, and a literary world of endless wonder. And that is just the stories. The technical excellence, the prose itself, is beautifully done, drawing you into a new and slightly different world than our own. A world where wonder and pain blend into a new and deeply touching reality.

Amber Farrell is unlike the ‘typical’ UF heroine. She was an Army grunt, specializing in the type of dirty ops that no one wants to do, but everyone needs done. And she is a patriot, doing her duty without complaint, following the rules, leading her team, morning the loss of any of her team who doesn’t make it. She is strong, vital, and in charge.

And then things go horribly, horribly wrong.

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Book One – Bite Back Series
Click to Order!

Betrayed by the government, by her team and her leaders, Amber is pushed out of the fold, spied upon and mistrusted for reasons beyond her control. For Amber is something different – a survivor of a hideous attack in the jungles of South America that left her team dead and her own throat torn out. Damage that healed within five days, and left Amber something more than human.

The Amber Farrell story is amazing. Broad in scope, fast paced, and as I said before, extremely well written. It doesn’t really matter what genre you prefer – as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t matter what you like, because you are really going to love these books. In Sleight of Hand we meet Amber as she is a private investigator in Denver, scraping along in her job and reporting occasionally to Colonel Laine, her old boss, to undergo blood tests – blood tests to decide if it is time for Amber to go back to be locked into a windowless cell, far below the earth, to be studied and dissected by secret government medical teams. The story starts out with a bang, and continues at a breathless pace, much like the works of James Rollins, where the actions pile up upon one another. However, unlike the uberfast pace of Rollins or Cussler, the story is the thing with Henwick. Ambers character starts out well and continues to develop through all three books. And she has a lot of development that she must handle. For she is even more than was once thought. She is becoming Athanate, the truth of the vampire tales, after her attack in South America. But there is more, a great deal more, for her to face. And to survive.

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Book Two – Bite Back Series
Click to Order!

Book Two, Hidden Trump picks up the story with a bang, as Amber slips away from a horrendous battle, filled with death and destruction, sliding away before the FBI, and other, more unknown and even more deadly agencies, manage to capture her. For things are getting more and more dangerous for Amber, as well as for her friends. Her life is changing, sometimes violently, into something she no longer understands. And there are those out there who would capture her and turn her to their own needs – no matter what it does to Amber or her friends and family. War is coming – War beyond anything the world has ever seen.

Now, we are blessed with Book Three, Wild Card. Things were rough for Amber in Book Two, as her physical and mental changes, her lifestyle and the mysterious powers and peoples around her threaten her mind, body, and soul. Who can she trust? Or can she truly trust anyone at all? Again, the action is fast and furious, but the character development and story continue to grow and expand in an exceptional manner.  You are drawn breathlessly and with deep excitement into a story that is one of the most well written and creative available today. Layers and layers of story, character development and world building makes this a must not miss tale. Pamper yourself – read the books. You will not be disappointed!!!!!!

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Raw Deal – The Prequel to The Bite Back Series
Click to Order, and read first!

Oh, and don’t forget – Raw Deal. This prequel to the Bite Back series introduces you to Amber, and tells the story of her first contact with The Athanate in Denver. Just as exciting as the rest of the series, I would recommend that you start with the prequel, though it was printed later than the first two. It is simply amazing, just as the rest of the books are!

 

 

Yummy Hot Pepper Sauces From Louisiana-And Beignets Too!

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Yummy! Louisiana style hot pepper sauce from my friend M. K. Clinton!

Yummy yummy! M. K. sent me Louisiana Red Dot Hot Sauce from Louisiana! These sauces are vinegar based, and incredibly tasty! I tried the Roasted Pepper last night on my turkey breast and potatoes and it was marvelous. Tonight, I made a casserole and used the Chipotle. It was even tastier!

Besides sending the sauces, she also sent me a mix of boxed meals like Jambalaya and Dirty Rice (she knows my cooking skills are next to nil!) and also…

Drum roll please….

Beignet mix from Cafe du Monde!!!!

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Yum!

OK, it isn’t quite like eating beignets right there in the Cafe du Monde, but beggars can’t be choosers, right? I can nearly taste that wonderful beignet flavour right now….. I just have to get my housemate to make them, or they would wind up burned…..  😦

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The real and authentic Cafe du Monde!

 

Curran’s POV’s Are All In One Place!

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All the Curran POV’s up to now in one easy to read place!

How is THIS for a beautiful cover???? Curran’s POV Collection includes all of the Point Of View stories written by Gordon to go along with the Kate Daniels series.

Don’t you always wonder what the other main character is thinking when the heroine is rushing around doing what she does? For me, the Curran stories are priceless, adding in Curran’s thoughts to what is happening as the Kate series goes along.

I receive Ilona and Gordon’s e-mails, so I have read all of the POV’s, but having them in a collection is great. And who can resist that AMAZING cover???

If you haven’t read the Kate Daniels series, well, DO SO! It is one of my favorite series of all times. Kate is strong, smart, and amazing. Highly, Highly Recommended!!!! And the Curran POV’s are that bit of lagniappe that makes the series even richer.

Melissa’s Bag!

I made my friend Melissa one of my bags for Christmas! She loves elephants, and of course, puppies, so I had to give her both. And Loving bright colours like I do, I thought I would indulge myself also by giving her bright, bright, bright! Thank goodness she loves brights too! It is big enough for her laptop, and has TONS of pockets. She can put her new Kindle in a pocket, and there is a pocket on the outside that is sized for her cellphone.

I make these for sale too – Hint Hint! LOL

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JINGLE BELLS, BABY!!!!!!! AMBER FARRELL IS BACK IN TOWN!!!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Let Amber Farrell be your Christmas Present to yourself and to ALL of your friends, family, neighbors – heck, even your dog! Amber Farrell is how I am spending my Christmas Eve!

Happy Christmas Eve, Amber!!!

I am sitting down right now to start reading Wild Card – Book Four of the Amber Farrell series by Mark Henwick. Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about Mark’s series and can’t say enough good about it.

Also, I have a confession, I have had the book a couple days, and by rights should have posted this notice before now…. Lay it down to being immediately dropped into rereading the first three in the series and totally losing all good sense when I owed Mark the courtesy of posting this on MONDAY…. I am SUCH a JERK! But I am doing it now, and as it is Christmas Eve, here you go, Mark – and I hope you can forgive me.

To everyone else out there in my reading public – – – it’s Christmas Eve, so buy this book for ALL your friends and family, and send it to their electronic stocking —- Oh, and don’t forget to get the first books for yourself and everyone else also:

sleight of hand
Book One! my review is HERE
hidden trump
Book Two! My Review is HERE
raw deal
A Novella, the Prequel to Bite Back – read it next! My review is HERE

And Happy Ho Ho Ho!!!!!

Review: Christmas Heroes – Anthology

christmasheroesThe first two stories in this five story were actually quite wonderful. Especially the first one.

1) Career military attorney, Captain Tracy Keener is low on the JAG totem pole, which is hard enough. But to be fingered to actually DEFEND the man who caused the death of his entire team? It is career suicide, one that will destroy all of the hard-won traction she has gained in her career since the deaths of her husband and baby daughter – a daughter she didn’t even get to see when the car wreck caused by her drunk husband killed her daughter before she was even born. Captain Adam Burke, a Special Operations officer, has to be guilty – everyone knows it. Or, is he?

Filled with mystery, suspense, and a high level of military knowledge, DUPLICITY By Vicki Hinze has guaranteed that I will add her to my read list. Her writing was tight, story line exceptional for what it is, a military suspense/romantic thriller, and the editing was good. Worth the price of the book in and of itselhappyf, even  at the original $6.99 price.

5 stars

2) SAFE WITH HIM by Rita Herron is another suspenseful mystery/suspense novel with a frightening premise. Kaylie and her daughter CeCe are awoken in the night by her husband, Joe. There is a man in the house . . . a man with a gun, and a determination to slaughter Kaylie and CeCe while Joe watches. When Joe gives his life to save his family, Kaylie and CeCe are pushed into the witness protection program, running, changing homes often, and never knowing what will happen next.

On the run, her last WitSec protector dead, Kaylie seeks desperately for a place where they will be safe, where CeCe can enjoy a short period of rest, and a quiet Christmas day. As expected, things are not what they seem, and there is no way to know where they can be safe . . . and who they can trust. IMAGE happy_face_team

A well written story, though not as good as the previous story it was still exciting and kept my interest. The little daughter was a sweetheart.

4.25 stars for the forced ending

3) And now, they blow the whole freaking collection. The third story . .. Can someone please put a ZERO STARS rating in these reviews?

TvomitAMING MAGGIE by Peggy Webb, was, in a word, VOMIT worthy. The “heroine” goes from being a strong, determined, honorable woman, an animal rights activist with a good heart and a wonderful soul, to being a weak willed, whiny, oversexed second grade teacher with no backbone, no will, and a mind wrapped around falling into bed with a totally useless spoiled rotten rich boy. A rich boy who is not only determined to put Maggie in her place, to “tame” her (what, is she some kind of illiterate savage to be ‘tamed’?), but is also a hunter. A man who rants about how “noble” hunting is, how “manly” while hiding in blinds, sneaking around downwind, and then shooting defenseless animals from far away with high powered rifles. Oh, yea. Manly” and “powerful” and “noble”….. wow. Sort of like holding down children and beating them to death is! Yea! If hunting is so “manly” why doesn’t her little rich boy get himself a knife and go stalk his prey and take it down with knife and his teeth? Now THAT would be manly. What this guy and all his little buddies do is cowardly – and she laps it up like a dog licking his privates.

So. No matter how well she was raised by her widowed father to be a strong, independent, loving woman with principles, we get her panting after the guy like a mindless bitch in heat – even though he stands for everything she hates and is determined to fight against. She might as well have laid on the ground and let him wipe his feet on her. Actually, that is exactly what she does in this disaster of a book.

It was actually disappointing in that I really thought, at first, that she was going to be a character I could like – until she rolled over and showed her belly. Ugh. There were multiple opportunities for her to state her case in a reasonable, logical manner. Instead, the author makes her ‘heroine’ basically illiterate. Instead of standing up on the check writing table in the little rich boys bank and stating her case after he humiliates her in the paper, she blathers and goes all weak in the knees over “Oh, he’s so hot!” God. 12 much? Oh, I am sure there was an HEA at the end, but I couldn’t make it even a third of the way through before wishing it was in paper so I could rip the book up and use it to line the cat box. Come on – – – how, in anyone’s universe, did this particular piece of trash end up in a collection about “Christmas Heroes”????

Ruined the whole collection for me. 0 stars, and can someone hand me a trash can so I can toss my Christmas Cookies??

4) Sorry. I was so pissed about the previous bucket of garbage I couldn’t force myself to read any farther.

5) Ditto.

Overall? I will check out more of Hinze’s stuff, and possibly Herron’s work,  but someone hand me a blowtorch – I have an appointment with Barnes and Nobel to find the Web listings and light a little Christmas bonfire. . .

Review: Merry Christmas, Henry

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This is a WONDERFUL WONDERFUL Christmas Story! It is only 40 pages, so can be read quickly, and will put you in the Christmas spirit, no matter how “Bah Humbug” you might be!

Sigh…. I just finished Merry Christmas, Henry and am still wiping tears from my cheeks. And not in a bad way.

Henry is a lonely man. Treated badly as a child, his only retreat was into his paintings. “Henry the Trifling” he thinks of himself as being – insignificant, shy, and totally unassuming. A night museum guard, he spends his days painting beautiful paintings of the people he sees on his daily walks to the museum, setting them in beautiful, exotic settings. And his breaks for dinner in the museum? He spends with a painting of a beautiful, and yet melancholy woman on a windswept sea cliff. So goes Henry’s life for more than twenty years.

What happens next in Henry’s life is a beautiful Christmas tale that broke open my heart and filled it with joy.

I never, ever would have thought that this was Ms. Wynne’s first short story to be published. Her writing is crisp, well formed sentences drawing you into the story and leading you on a breathless journey through melancholy out out the other side to the light of pure Christmas magic.

Grab this short story and curl up in your favorite chair, a cup of cocoa in your hand, Christmas music playing softly, a quilt across your lap. You won’t be sorry. This will be one of your best Christmas presents to yourself ever.

A Beautiful Story For The Holidays

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Photo provided by Jackie Turner.

It’s the holidays – the time of love, friends, and family. Everyone gathering around their traditional holiday items, whether they be trees or Menorahs or whatever beautiful, historical items exist in their culture, sharing gifts and food and happiness. (Well, and also stressing out and fighting the mall crowds, but we won’t go there!)

But that happiness isn’t always there. For some people, the holidays cause deep and abiding despair, heartache, and a loneliness such as some will never understand. Some people never had families, or if they did, they were horrific and not to be remembered with fondness. December is not a favored month for me – too much pain, too many bad memories, and heartaches. But my pain is nothing compared to the pain of others.

As a huge CBS News Sunday Morning fan, I sat down this AM to watch. If you haven’t watched the show before, record it if you don’t get up early on Sunday mornings. I do – that way I can watch it when I get up, complete with tea and fuzzy slippers. And this morning I saw something that both tore at my heart and filled it with warmth.

Turner, a California college student who was sexually, emotionally, and physically abused by her biological parents before escaping into the streets, lived a life riddled with gang violence and poverty, eventually serving a one-year prison sentence.

“I was in gang life, on the streets, fighting, doing drugs, just making a mess of my life,” says Turner.

Upon her release in 2010, Turner worked to turn her life around, attending Christian Encounter Ministries, a camp for troubled youth, before moving on to William Jessup University in Rocklin, California where she holds a 4.0 GPA.

Though Turner knows her life appears great on the outside, things aren’t always what they seem:

“There’s still something deep inside of me. There’s this void, my biological parents aren’t here, and it’s kept this hole inside of me.”

Which is why she tried to rent a mother and father for Christmas, offering $8 an hour for the gig:

“Just to sit, just to listen,” Turner said. “Just to cry with me, no strings beyond that. I’ve never felt the touch of my Mom hugging me and holding me. I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred.”

What she got instead might not have been what she expected, but it was exactly what she needed.

Families not only offered to take her in for free, other people who had been abused, abandoned and neglected spoke out as well.

“When you speak up, people start learning that they’re not by themselves. Often we lock things inside of ourselves, like a lock box of our secrets. But then you let one out and realize, ‘I’m not by myself after all, am I?’”

Instead of joining a family for Christmas, Turner plans on getting all those who share her void together for the holidays.

The video below is from the CBS News Sunday Morning website. It is well worth watching, and remembering – there may be a lot of bad people in this world . . .

But sometimes, you can be surprised in the most beautiful of ways.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/rent-a-family-for-the-holidays

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