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July 2014

Review: M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening”

“Sir, we lost contact.”
“With whom?”
“Everyone.”

 

I admit it. M. Night Shyamalan scares the beejezus out of me. I have watched, and actually own a few of his movies. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable  and Signs are all on my DVD movie shelf. I have The Last Airbender on my list to watch, as I really enjoyed the animated series. I will watch his others, I just don’t really watch television all that much right now.

The Happening is only a 90-minute flick, and it was a good way to wake up this evening when I crawled out of bed. Sometimes, when I have had trouble sleeping it takes me a while to get truly conscious, so tea and a muffin and a movie are sometimes the perfect way to wake up.

I didn’t even really recognize that this was a Shyamalan film until I actually opened it up in my movie rental list. Bless Dish’s little heart for offering a great list of free movies!

The Happening may not be one of Shyamalan’s best, but it certainly isn’t his worst. Not as bone-chilling as some of the others, what starts out as what is thought to be a terrorist attack becomes something much more, as humans begin slaughtering themselves in Central Park. The contagion spreads across the east coast, attacking smaller and smaller populations, until nearly the whole population is extinct.

Shyamalan has created a tight film, set within a short time period, which addresses the human depredation of the Earth – and the Earth’s capability to fight back. I got a huge kick out of it! I loved the idea of the Earth finally saying Enough! If you like Shyamalan’s odd, quirky style and a film which addresses our carelessness towards this beautiful blue planet we are blessed with, give this movie a try. It didn’t get really good reviews in a lot of places, but we can’t all like the same things, right? It isn’t Signs but it is a great little movie for what it is – one of the earlier works of a brilliant man.

mnight
Photo courtesy of IMDb

About M. Night Shyamalan

When you say fear of the unknown, that is the definition of fear; fear is the unknown, fear is what you do not know, and it’s genetically within us so that we feel safe. We feel scared of the woods because we’re not familiar with it, and that keeps you safe.

Born in India but raised in the posh suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, M. Night Shyamalan is the son of two doctors. His passion for filmmaking began when he was given a Super-8 camera at age eight, and even at that young age began to model his career on that of his idol, Steven Spielberg. His first film, Praying with Anger (1992), was based somewhat on his own trip back to visit the India of his birth. He raised all the funds for this project, in addition to directing, producing and starring in it. Wide Awake (1998), his second film, he wrote and directed, and shot it in the Philadelphia-area Catholic school he once attended–even though his family was of a different religion, they sent him to that school because of its strict discipline.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: < mwprods@mindspring.com>

 

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The Leopard Tree by Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman

The Leopard TreeThree orphans from Kenya stow away on an airplane to embark on a desperate quest to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York City and deliver a message they hope will help millions of homeless and hurting children in Africa. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz becomes their guidebook as they journey alone across the United States. The trio–one with HIV, one blind amputee, and one who hasn’t spoken for years after watching her family slaughtered–find themselves embroiled in a situation beyond their imaginations as they get close to meeting their goal.

The Leopard Tree won the Best Young Adult Fiction Award in 2008 with Writer’s Digest International Self-published Competition and a Third Place EVVY in the Fiction Division of Colorado Independent Publisher’s Awards in 2008. This book was written with the hope of raising awareness of the millions of people in Africa who suffer the effects of malnutrition,malaria, HIV/AIDS, and the unspeakable atrocities associated with armed conflicts.

About The Authors:

Lisa BrochuLisa Brochu and Tim Merriman have spent the last four decades helping people connect with our global natural and cultural heritage. This is their first work of adult fiction, but they have several other non-fiction books in print. Through their books and speaking engagements, they hope to help others to know more and do more about the daily challenges in meeting basic needs that face tens of millions of people in developing nations. When they are not traveling the globe, Tim and Lisa live in Fort Collins, Colorado, on a small farm where they raise much of their own food. They can be contacted by email at lbrochu57@gmail.com and timfmerriman@gmail.com.

 

Review: Cheating Justice by Misty Evans and Adrienne Giordano

cheating justicePolitics have no relation to morals. -Niccolo Machiavelli
There is a point at which the law becomes immoral and unethical. That point is reached when it becomes a cloak for the cowardice that dares not stand up against blatant violations of justice. -Kurt Huber

Title: Cheating Justice
Series: The Justice Team (#2)
Authors: Misty Evans and Adrienne Giordan0
Release Date: July 21, 2014
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Book Summary:

~ The second novel in the exciting and bestselling Justice Team romantic suspense series!! ~While investigating a government cover-up, former FBI agent Mitch Monroe is framed for murder. A wanted man, Mitch has no choice but to stay off the grid, and he needs Special Agent Caroline Foster—the FBI’s top sniper and a woman who wants nothing to do with him—to clear his name.After sharing a single night of simmering passion with Mitch a year ago, Caroline hasn’t been able to get him out of her head. Or her heart. He’s jeopardized her job once…helping him now could end her career. But a friend has been murdered, and no matter how Caroline feels about Mitch, he’s not the killer. She needs answers, and she needs Mitch Monroe out of her life once and for all.On the run and with no one to turn to, Mitch and Caroline can’t fight the reigniting passion between them. She’ll lose her career if she proves Mitch is innocent…he’ll lose his life if she doesn’t.

Review:

What do you do when everything you thought you knew about truth, about justice, about the very people tasked with protecting what is good and just in the world . . . is wrong. Deeply and irreparably wrong. When everything is falling apart, and good people are dying – all for the sake of hiding a horrendous political cluster fuck.

This is the second in the Justice Team series. In the first, Stealing Justice Justice “Grey” Greystone was fired from the FBI for insubordination. We learn a bit more about Grey in this second volume, but this one actually revolves around two different characters from that book, Mitch Monroe, former FBI golden boy now turned fugitive from the law, and Caroline Foster, FBI agent and FBI SWAT team sharpshooter

Monroe is trying desperately to find out who set up his best friend and fellow FBI agent, Tommy Nusco. Nusco, seconded to the ATF in New Mexico has ended up dead in the street, and upper management seems determined to brand Tommy as a traitor to his country, a rouge agent selling automatic weapons to drug dealers and Mexican gunrunners. When Monroe’s other best friend, Kemp Rodgers, winds up dead after a secret meeting with Monroe in Rock Creek Park, the situation becomes even more dire.

Along with Grey and Monroe’s former partner, Caroline, Monroe and his scruffy yet loyal band of misfits find themselves embroiled in political intrigue and a vast coverup which reaches to the very top levels of the government. Who to turn to, who to trust, is entirely unknown as the depth and breadth of the coverup leads to more murders and deeper levels of governmental malfeasance.

Evans and Giordano have crafted an exceptional political thriller. Yes, yes, I know they call it “Romantic Suspense” and there is some romance in there, as what appears to be a long time attraction between Mitch and Caroline comes to a head. but I was much more impressed by the political story that Monroe, Grey, Caroline and ex-ATF agent Brice Brennan are faced with. Suspenseful, thrilling, and with an exceptional degree of political knowledge <em>Cheating Justice </em>is very much a novel for our times, pointing out the corruption inherent in the modern political system.Highly recommended. i will be downloading the first in the series, and will be watching for a possible third.

Excerpt:

“I always said you had the best ass in the FBI.”

Her body froze. Eleven months, five days and—she did the math—twelve hours had passed since she’d heard that voice. The one she’d thought about time and again after his last brief visit to her apartment, and she still managed to be equal parts pissed off, concerned and flat-out heartbroken. That voice could only belong to one person. Thus the remark about her ass and—wow—she always knew he had a set of stones, but this was too much even for Mitch Monroe. The man she’d spent all these months trying to forget. Months of burying herself in cases, months of begging her boss for every available opportunity to keep her mind occupied, months of a busy life that didn’t allow for downtime.

Or thoughts of Mitch.

Without turning, she picked up her weapon. “Well, look what the cat dragged in. A girl puts her career on the line for you and you don’t call, you don’t write, nothing. To say the least, your technique needs work.”

And then he laughed. She’d waited months to hit him with that line and he laughed. Classic Mitch. She closed her eyes and—forget that he was a federal fugitive now wanted for murder—she’d kill him herself and be done with the whole affair.

Mitch, a murderer? She couldn’t believe it. No matter what the White House was spinning about Kemp Rodgers’ death, Mitch wouldn’t kill his friend.

Then, again, she’d been Mitch’s friend once…

Finally, she turned, bracing herself for whatever disguise might greet her, but found none. Brave.

As usual.

She took in his long brown hair pulled back in a low ponytail, his dark eyes and ripped jeans, and shook her head. “You’re insane for coming here.”

He shrugged. “It’s a private range. Not like I walked into Quantico.”

It wasn’t enough that he’d almost destroyed her career when he’d first started working The Lion case, now he wanted to have a second go at it. He was a fugitive wanted for murder and she was an FBI agent. She should arrest him.

Yet, she stood waiting for him to say something that would make a damned difference. I’m sorry? I didn’t do it? Anything that would erase the idea that he could have murdered his friend.

She set her rifle on the table behind her, slid the bolt open. Not loaded. She knew it wasn’t, but she checked anyway. Always.

Mitch shuffled behind her.

Too bad. He could wait like she’d waited for him all these months.

Her canvas carry case sat on the bench seat. Like many people, she preferred canvas over hard plastic because the softer material didn’t make the rifle sweat. She dug through the case for her lens covers, popped them on, set the rifle into the case—bolt upward—and zipped it.

She’d clean the rifle later. For her, keeping a weapon in top working order meant cleaning it after every use. Even if only one shot had been fired, her weapons got cleaned. Every time.

She sensed Mitch moving closer, stirring the air around her, upsetting the energy, letting her know he was near. He had that way about him. Sometimes good, sometimes not.

“I need your help.”

Of course he did. Should have known. Radio silence for eleven months and now he wanted her help. “I should shoot you and dump your body in the Reflecting Pool.”

“Yeah, you should.”

She spun and—crack!—smacked him, sending his head sideways and making her hand sting. She’d never physically attacked anyone before and she couldn’t say it felt right or just, but unleashing it felt good. To let him know he’d hurt her. “We were friends. I helped you and you disregarded me.”

Disregarded you?” Mitch slid a hand over his cheek. “I’ve stayed away and I’m sorry. But what, Caroline? You want to do lunch or hit the shooting range with me? A guy wanted for assaulting your boss and now a federal fugitive?” Gently, he knocked on her head. “Think about it. I was protecting you.”

She didn’t need his protection. “I’m mad at you.”

“Atta girl.”

God, he was annoying. “You had a good reason to take a swing at Donaldson when he threatened you during The Lion case, but honest to God, Mitch, I think he should have swung back and ended it right there instead of trying to throw you in jail. But you should have manned up and never run from the charges, so whatever this is, I can’t help you.”

“Tommy Nusco.”

“You murdered him, too?”

Surprisingly, he blanched. “I didn’t kill anyone. I need to know what went down with Tommy.”

Oh, please. He really had lost his mind if he thought she’d touch that subject. That involved ATF and the State of New Mexico and she wasn’t about to step into that snake pit. “You better worry about what went down with Kemp Rodgers and why the White House is after you. Turn yourself in, Mitch.”

“Kemp told me the White House is buzzing about Executive Privilege being invoked on Tommy’s case. A few hours later, he’s dead. Put two and two together, Caroline. There’s a cover-up in the works and what happened to Tommy is at the heart of it.”

She faced him, still hating that he stood a good six inches taller and managed to make her feel small. She folded her arms and stepped forward, got right into his space. “No.”

“Whatever they’re concocting about Tommy is bullshit.”

“I don’t know that.”

“Yeah, you do. When we all worked together, we hung out. You knew him.”

“Not that well.”

He rolled his eyes in that typical I’m-Mitch-Monroe-and-I’m-bored way of his. “He was not dirty. Whatever he was doing, the government is letting a dead agent take the heat. Why not? He’s dead anyway. Doesn’t matter that he was a decorated officer. The government obviouslyneeds to clean up a mess and—” he inched closer, tilted his head and stared right into her eyes “—I know all about how the government cleans up a mess.”

Back away. She should, but that would play into what he wanted. He wanted to control this conversation. His looming presence used to be enough that she’d give him that control.

Not this time.

She tilted her head the opposite direction, eased out a half-smile. “Mitch?”

“Yes?”

“Screw you.”

She turned her back to him and scooped up her rifle case. Right now, she needed to walk away and not let him talk her into something that would wreck her career.

Buy Links: 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Facebook Party

Misty and Adrienne will be hosting a week-long Facebook Party on the Justice Team Series page which will include several giveaways each day! Details will be announced on page as they are available.

Link to Justice Team Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeTeamSeries?ref_type=bookmark.

About the Authors:

Misty Evans:Misty Evans Photo

USA Today bestselling Author Misty Evans has published over twenty novels and writes romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. As a writing coach, she helps other authors bring their books – and their dreams of being published – to life.

The books in her Super Agent series have won a CataNetwork Reviewers’ Choice Award, CAPA nominations, the New England Reader’s Choice Bean Pot Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2010 and the ACRA Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Award for Best Romantic Suspense in 2011.

Her Witches Anonymous series was dubbed a Fallen Angel Reviews Recommended Read. The Super Agent Series, Witches Anonymous Series, and the Kali Sweet Series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle bestsellers lists. Her culinary romantic mystery, THE SECRET INGREDIENT, and the first book in her Deadly series, DEADLY PURSUIT, are both USA TODAY bestsellers.

Misty likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, movies, and hanging out with her husband, twin sons, and two spoiled puppies.

Connect with Misty: Website / NewsletterFacebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest

***

Adrienne Giordano:Adrienne Giordano Headshot

USA Today bestselling author Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and mystery.  She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her workaholic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaten Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog and Lady Jane’s Salon-Naperville, a reading series dedicated to romantic fiction.

Connect with Adrienne:  Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Street Team

Giveaway:

There will be a tour-wide giveaway of a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card and a Justice Team Series Swag Bag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour!

July 21, 2014

Becky on Books…and Quilts

So Many Reads

Ramblings From This Chick

A Closet Full of Books

TBQ’s Book Palace

 

July 22, 2014

Cricket’s Chirps

Musings From An Addicted Reader

So I Read This Book Today

Blogging by Liza

Omnimystery Reviews

July 23, 2014

According to Squenn

Foxylutely Book Reviews

Insightful Minds Reviews

Read Your Writes Book

Just The Write Stuff

July 24, 2014

Em & M Books

What I’m Reading

Reading On The Rocks

Romance Reviews Today

Doing Some Reading

July 25, 2014

Amy Manemann’s Blog

Romance Junkies

Long and Short Reviews

July 26, 2014

Just Romantic Suspense

The Book Nympho

Brooke Blogs

Book Passion For Life

The Reading Cafe

Renee Entress’ Blog

 

The Stop Gardner Campaign

 Yet another clueless Penis getting involved in women’s health – without a CLUE as to the amount of damage he is doing. If you are a “Pro-lifer” I advise you to wake up, get a clue and research the damage you are doing to humanity as a whole. Where is your “Moral Stand” when women are being beaten and raped, tortured and murdered? Where your moralistic outrage when unwanted children are beaten, tortured, and murdered? Where is your kindness, your outrage, when the victims of incest are forced to carry to term the twisted get of their terror? Gardner, and his ilk, are twisted, misogynistic monsters who should NEVER be allowed access to any ability to make things even worse for victims. This sort of hatred and viciousness, this power to destroy the lives of victims, should NOT be allowed to stand! If you have any compassion in your soul, I hope you can be counted on to help fight this honorific person and his evil hatred of the victims of crimes. Believe me – I was an unwanted child – and the torture and viciousness I went through was nothing compared to the brutalized bodies, the broken souls, that I dealt with as a police officer and then as a victim counselor. What these sorts of people are doing isn’t kind or good, ethical or moral by any means. It is the work of cruel, vicious people who use a twisted “moral” play to exercise their power and cruelty to punish victims and contribute the the number of tortured souls littering this country. It is an outrage, and a blight on the face of humanity. These are the sorts of people that are so common in the Middle East – people who find it perfectly acceptable to murder the women in their families because they were raped by vicious attackers through no fault of their own. The same type of twisted morality that will blame the woman victim, while applauding the “manliness” of the attacker.  Moral, emotional and physical sadism in what we purport to be the “Greatest Free Country In The World.” Really? I suppose if you sport a penis you might say so . . .

CHECK THE RESEARCH:

GARDNER: ABORTION SHOULD BE ILLEGAL IN ALL INSTANCES

Gardner Opposed Abortion In All Instances. “Markey, the Democratic incumbent from Fort Collins, supports a woman’s right to make decisions on abortion; Gardner says abortion should be illegal in all instances. ‘I’ve been very up-front on it; I am pro-life,’ Gardner, a state representative from Yuma, said in an interview with the Coloradoan. When asked if he would allow exceptions for victims of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger, Gardner said, ‘I’m pro-life, and I believe abortion is wrong.’” [Fort Collins Coloradoan, 9/26/10]

Gardner Said He Was Willing To Sponsor Legislation To Ban Abortion: “Yes, And I Have The Legislative Background To Back It Up.” “Four Republican candidates seeking the Republican congressional nomination shared a stage for the first time at a Nov. 13, 2009, forum organized by Northern Colorado tea party and 9-12 groups. They were asked, ‘Do you believe that abortion is the killing of an unborn child, and if yes, are you willing to carry legislation to end the practice?’ All four candidates – Gardner, Diggs Brown, Dean Madere and Tom Lucero – answered yes, with Gardner giving the most succinct answer. ‘Yes, and I have the legislative background to back it up,’ he said to applause.” [Fort Collins Coloradoan, 10/3/10]

GARDNER CO-SPONSORED BILL TO BAN ABORTION IN CASES OF RAPE AND INCEST

2007: Gardner Co-Sponsored Senate Bill 143 Which Would “Make Abortion A Felony Even In Cases Or Rape Or Incest.” “At the heart of the ad is Gardner’s sponsorship of a 2007 proposal to make abortion a felony even in cases of rape or incest. When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.” [KDVR, 4/22/14]

Gardner Cosponsored Bill To Make Abortion A Class 3 Felony. In 2007, Gardner sponsored SB 07-143 in the Colorado General Assembly which was an anti-abortion bill that would outlaw all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.” Per the legislative text, the bill would make it “a class 3 felony to perform an abortion.” [Colorado General Assembly, SB 07-143; Fort Collins Coloradoan, 10/3/10]

  • Senate Bill 143 Would Have Banned Abortion In Cases Of Rape And Incest, Doctors “Would Face A Class 3 Felony” And A Prison Term Of Up To 12 Years. “Senate Bill 143 proposed to ban all abortions in Colorado, except when the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. This would include banning abortions to women who have been victims of rape and/or incest. Any doctors who performed abortions outside of these lines would face a third degree felony that could carry a prison term up to 12 years.” [CU Independent, 2/14/07]
  • Life News: Senate Bill 143 “Would Have Banned Most Abortions, Except In Very Rare Cases To Save The Life Of The Mother.” According to Life News, an anti-choice news outlet, “Colorado legislators voted on Monday to kill a bill that would have offered legal protection to unborn children who are victims of abortion. The measure, modeled after the abortion ban the South Dakota state legislature approved last year, would have banned most abortions, except in very rare cases to save the life of the mother.” [Life News, 2/12/07]
  • Headline & Subheadline: “Senate Bill Seeks To Ban Abortion In Colorado. Senate Bill 143 Heads To Committee” [The Denver Channel, 2/11/07]
  • “Senate Bill 143 Seeks To Ban All Abortions In Colorado With The Exception Of Situations When The Life Of The Mother Is In Jeopardy.” “An abortion bill that has created fierce debate among lawmakers and citizens will be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Senate bill 143 seeks to ban all abortions in Colorado with the exception of situations when the life of the mother is in jeopardy.” [7News Denver, 2/11/07]

9News Truth Test: “True” That Gardner Sponsored A Bill To Make Abortion A Felony. “CLAIM: ‘Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony.’ VERDICT: True. In 2007, as a member of the state House of Representatives, Gardner was listed as a sponsor of SB-147. The bill would have made it ‘a class 3 felony to perform an abortion,’ so the felony charge would have applied to abortion providers, not women who underwent abortions.” [Truth Test, 9News, 4/23/14]

9News Truth Test: “True” Gardner Supported A Bill Making Abortion A Felony In Cases Of Rape And Incest. “CLAIM: The bill Gardner supported would make abortion a felony in ‘cases of rape and incest.’ VERDICT: True. SB-147 did contain an exception to save the life of the mother. Aside from that, the bill would have outlawed abortion with no other exceptions.” [Truth Test, 9News, 4/23/14]

GARDNER SUPPORTED FEDERAL AND COLORADO STATE PERSONHOOD MEASURES WHICH WOULD EFFECTIVELY OUTLAW ALL ABORTIONS – EVEN IN CASES OF RAPE AND INCEST

Gardner Supported 2010 Personhood Amendment In Colorado. “Gardner announced at a 2010 congressional debate that he had collected signatures to put a personhood amendment on the ballot. Amendment 62 failed 71 percent to 29 percent, with 1.28 million voters opposed and nearly 475,000 in support of it.” [Denver Post, 3/24/14]

July 2013: Gardner Cosponsored The Life At Conception Act. [HR 1091, co-sponsored 7/23/13]

  • “Gardner Co-Sponsored A Bill In Congress As Recently As Last Year To Give Personhood Status To Fertilized Eggs.” [Associated Press, 3/25/14]

March 2012: Gardner Cosponsored Life At Conception Act. [HR 374, co-sponsored3/20/12]

Gardner Continued Supporting Personhood As A Cosponsor Of National Personhood, Even After Saying He Flipped On Personhood In Colorado. “The second-term Congressman, who represents Colorado’s rural and conservative Fourth District, famously reversed his longtime support for the anti-abortion personhood movement in March, a month after announcing he was running for Senate. Gardner was criticized as a flip-flopper. But he hadn’t performed even a full flip. He shuffle-stepped before he left the ground and tried to have it both ways. He said he didn’t support personhood… in Colorado. He made it known to his pro-life supporters that he was still an anti-abortion lawmaker. And he continues to support as a cosponsor a national personhood bill, the so-called Life at Conception Act.” [Colorado Independent, 7/2/14]

Personhood Measures “Would Effectively Outlaw Abortions” And “Many Forms Of Contraception.” “The personhood measures would effectively outlaw abortions and, critics say, many forms of contraception. They have been overwhelmingly rejected at the polls in Colorado — the last one failed 70-30 — and have been used by Democrats to paint Republicans as extremists on social issues.” [Associated Press, 3/25/14]

Huffington Post: The Personhood Amendment Banned All Abortions, Even For Rape. According to the Huffington Post, “The personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, forces a discussion about when life begins and why–which can lead to religion–as we saw in the video of Rep. Cory Gardner saying he circulated personhood petitions in his church.” [Huffington Post, 3/10/14; Cory Gardner Shows Love For Personhood, Accessed 3/14/14]

2010 Colorado Personhood Amendment Would Ban Abortion In All Cases, Including Rape And Incest, In Addition To Potentially Criminalizing Doctors Who Terminated Ectopic Pregnancies And Banning Multiple Forms Of The Birth Control Pill. From a US News And World Report blog post by Democratic strategist Laura Chapin: “Like Buck, Gardner has been an enthusiastic supporter of the ballot measures that would give full legal rights to fertilized eggs in the Colorado Constitution, also known as ‘Personhood.’ This proposal would ban abortion in all cases, even for victims of rape and incest, potentially criminalize doctors who terminate life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, and ban many forms of birth control, including the IUD and some types of the Pill. There’s another Personhood measure on the ballot this year, even though the last one lost 70-30 in 2010.” [US News And World Report, Laura Chapin blog, 2/27/14]

Legislation That Defines A Fertilized Egg As A Human Being Would Ban All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape And Incest, And Would Bar Common Forms Of Birth Control, Like The Moring After Pill. “A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder. […]The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. […] A similar measure has been defeated twice, by large margins, in Colorado.” [New York Times, 10/25/11]

GARDNER CO-SPONSORED LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE REDEFINED RAPE AS “FORCIBLE RAPE”

2011: Gardner Was An Original Co-Sponsor Of A Bill To Prohibit Federal Funding For Abortion, Except In Cases Of “Forcible Rape,” Incest, Or Life Of The Mother. In January 2011, Gardner was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 3. According to the New York Times, “One bill, the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services. The bill, sponsored by Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, has drawn fire over language that undercuts a longstanding exemption on the ban on using federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest; the measure narrows the definition of rape to ‘forcible rape,’ a term that his office has never defined. Democratic lawmakers and others repeatedly hammered on the term, saying it suggested that victims of statutory rape and other crimes could not get abortions paid for with federal money. While Mr. Smith’s staff said last week that the term ‘forcible rape’ would be removed from the bill, the staff of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said that language remained intact as of Tuesday.” [H.R. 3, co-sponsored 1/20/11; New York Times, 2/8/11]

  • Gardner Joined Todd Akin As The Bill’s Original Co-Sponsor. According to an opinion piece by Democratic operative Laura Chapin, published in the Denver Post, “Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — along with Akin, Gardner, Lamborn and Coffman — co-sponsored the original version of HR 3. They apparently had no objection to the ‘forcible rape’ language.” [Laura Chapin, Denver Post, 8/21/12]
  • The “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act” Attempted To Narrow The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape.” “Ryan also cosponsored the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ with Akin in 2011. The GOP tried to narrow the definition of rape as it related to abortions with the measure. Only in instances of ‘forcible rape,’ the bill specified, would a woman be eligible to have her abortion covered under insurance. The sentiment behind the notorious attempt to redefine rape was echoed in Akin’s comment on Sunday.” [Huffington Post, 8/19/12]
  • The Term “Forcible Rape” Was Used In The Original Bill And Eventually Dropped From The Measure. According to the Washington Post, “Responding to Democratic charges that he sought to narrow the definition of rape when he co-sponsored a House measure last year that used the term ‘forcible rape,’ presumptive GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said Monday that the phrase was ‘stock language’ and that he agreed with its eventual removal from the bill. […] The GOP-led House has passed several abortion funding-related measures this Congress, but the one that employed the term ‘forcible rape’ – H.R. 3, also known as the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’ – has drawn renewed scrutiny in the wake of Missouri GOP Senate nominee Todd Akin’s remark that ‘legitimate rape’ rarely results in pregnancy. Both Akin and Ryan were co-sponsors of H.R. 3. A spokesman for Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the bill’s main sponsor, told The Post last February that the term ‘forcible rape’ was eventually dropped from the measure because it had been ‘misconstrued’ by critics.” [Washington Post, 8/27/12]

FORCIBLE RAPE WOULD NOT INCLUDE STATUTORY RAPE OR RAPE OCCURRING BECAUSE VICTIM WAS DRUGGED

Changing Rape To “Forcible Rape” Could “Distinguish It From Other Kinds Of Sexual Assault That Are Typically Recognized As Rape, Including Statutory Rape And Attacks That Occur Because Of Drugs Or Verbal Threats.” “A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women’s groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered ‘forcible.’ The bill, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, would make permanent several provisions that have been law for years but require annual renewal by Congress. It is a top priority of Republican leaders who took control of the House after the November elections. The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened. Under the proposed language, however, rape becomes ‘forcible rape.’ Critics say the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats.” [Washington Post, 2/1/11]

  • National Women’s Law Center Government Relations Director: “It Speaks To A Distinction Between Rape Where There Must Be Some Element Of Force In Order To Rise To The Standard, And Rape Where There Is Not.” From an article on H.R. 3: “A Republican bill seeking to permanently cut off federal funding for abortions has angered women’s groups that say it alters the definition of rape, permitting coverage for the procedure only in cases in which the rape is considered ‘forcible.’ […] ‘It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not,’ said Steph Sterling, director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center. ‘The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.’” [Washington Post, 2/1/11]

H.R. 3 Would Alter The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape” Which “Would Rule Out Federal Assistance For Abortions In Many Rape Cases, Including Instances Of Statutory Rape, Many Of Which Are Non-Forcible.” “For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,’ a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases. With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to ‘forcible rape.’ This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible.” [Mother Jones, 1/28/11]

H.R. 3 Would Alter The Definition Of Rape To “Forcible Rape” Which Would Not Include “Rapes In Which The Woman Was Drugged Or Given Excessive Amounts Of Alcohol, Rapes Of Women With Limited Mental Capacity, And Many Date Rapes.” “With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to ‘forcible rape.’ […] Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. ‘There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included,’ Levenson says.” [Mother Jones, 1/28/11]

Critics Of H.R. 3 Said “Forcible Rape” Legislation “Would Exclude Victims Of Statutory Rape Or Rapes Involving Drugs.” “The legislation — known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — was first introduced on July 29, 2010 by New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.). […] After the GOP took control of the House, Smith re-introduced the bill on Jan. 20, 2011. Again, at the time of introduction, Ryan and Akin became co-sponsors, and the legislation still contained the phrase ‘forcible rape.’ […] Yet that term ignited an outcry among various critics, who said the phrase would exclude victims of statutory rape or rapes involving drugs.” [Politifact, 8/22/12]

Review: Hard Spell: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 1

hardspell“My name’s Markowski, a Detective Sergeant on the Scranton PD’s Supernatural Crimes Investigation Unit. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.”  – Markowski, Hard Spell

Death is when the monsters get you. – Stephen King

Scranton, Pennsylvania fifty years after WWII is a different place than one might expect.  When millions of Americans poured into Europe to fight in the war, they picked up a little something extra to bring back home besides war wives and interesting STD’s. Quaint little things like cases of werewolves and vampires and zombies (oh, my!) Needless to say, it changed the way life is lived in the good ol’ US of A. Instead of McCarthy going after ‘Commies’ he gets to do real, honest-to-goodness witch hunts – for real witches. . .

There is a lot to like about Hard Spell. There is humor and a great deal of creativity that I got a kick out of. Gustainis writes an engaging tale with a strong noir flavour which reminds me quite a bit of the feeling I get from the Nightside stories by Simon R. Green – one of my favorite series of all time. There is a feeling of reality in the very unreal situations of the book, which was pleasing. However, the role of women characters in the book was, well, I hesitate to say “demeaning” but it comes very close to the razor edge of treating women as lesser beings – something that I found less than enjoyable. Even the female SWAT team member was portrayed in a less than admirable manner – something that irritated me to no end. I wanted to shake the author and remind him that “noir” doesn’t equate with “testosterone poisoning.”

I listened to the book – the Audible edition. As much as I enjoyed Gustainis’ work, I cannot say the same for the narrator. He was, in a word, completely irritating. What narrator worth his salt cannot be bothered to check pronunciations?!?! The guy STINKS at pronunciation! Come on – you don’t know how to pronounce “were” as in “werewolf??” Weer (like a Bostonian we’re)  is not even close to correct, Peter. It is rather insulting to the author that you can’t be bothered to take a moment to learn pronunciations.  Especially for such common terms.

Overall, I knocked a full star off for poor narration. Another half star for some problems with trite characterizations (especially the handling of Markowski’s first partner) and with his tendency to treat his characters with something less than respect. Overall, however, this was a completely bad introduction to the series. I hope to find a more well rounded volume with the next in the series, Evil Dark: Occult Crimes Unit Investigations, Book 2 – though I won’t be buying the Audible edition. Five more minutes of Peter Brooke and I may have been forced to throw my reader across the room. . .

 

Review: Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews

gunmetalHumankind seems to have an enormous capacity for savagery, for brutality, for lack of empathy, for lack of compassion. – Annie Lennox

From her birth, Andrea Nash has had a brutal, horrific life. A Beastkin, the child of a hyena who turned into a human and a hyena were, Andrea was tortured, beaten, and brutalized beyond comprehension. Once she escaped from the horrors of her beginnings, Andrea focused – on building a life, creating the person she wished to be. In order to reach her goals, she became the best Order Agent she could possibly be. And the Order of Merciful Aid would never, ever allow a Beastkin amongst their ranks. So, Andrea hid in plain sight, wearing a medallion under her skin to hide her genetics.

When the world fell apart during the war Kate’s millennia old “lovely” auntie Erra started, Andrea made a decision which destroyed her life. She decided to stand with the Order, a group that would just as soon see her dead as a member. Thrown from the Order, and having turned her back on the Pack, and her Bouda prince lover, her life soon falls apart in every way possible.

I examined myself sitting there. I’d held back for so long. I’d been good for so long. I’d always did as expected. I followed the rules and regulations. Look where it got me. Being good hurt.

Now, Kate and Andrea have opened Cutting Edge Investigations, their own little “Order.” And when the murders of several shifters lands on Andrea’s desk, it isn’t only the job that is the problem. Oh, it couldn’t be that easy, now could it? Oh, no. Aunt B is determined to bring Andrea into the fold of the Bouda clan, whether she wants to be folded or not, and the murder victims are all employees of Rafael – yes, that Rafael. Sigh. And of course, when Rafael brings his new flame with him to Andrea’s office, all ‘seven feet of dumb’ girlfriend, well, Andrea blows a gasket. And what comes next will throw Andrea’s life into yet another turmoil which will change her life once again.

Andrea being Andrea, there is a lot of pain – but there is also a lot of humour woven through the story. As with all of the Andrew’s work the story is tightly woven, perfectly plotted and continues the storyline beautifully. I am thrilled with Andrea’s story! I waited a long time for Andrea’s story, and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

Highly recommended!

 

Review: Magic Gifts A Kate Daniels Novella

magicgiftsKate Daniels has always been on my very short list of the best Urban Fantasy heroines today. Strong, caring, heroic. She is all the things that a strong heroine should be, and I love her for it.

In the Kate Daniels Novella, Magic Gifts, we see Kate at her best as she, Curran and Doolittle struggle to save the life of a child. A child who has been cruelly endangered by his sociopathic mother. With only a short time to save the child, our intrepid trio must do what it takes to rescue the child, even if it endangers their own lives. Pure, classic Kate.

This novella was a holiday gift from the team of Ilona Andrews to all their loyal readers, and it is a lovely gift indeed! Taking place during the action of Gunmetal Magic, Andrea’s story, it blends the happenings of Gunmetal with Magic and as usual blends seamlessly into the overall story line. And with all the action and pain, there is also the Andrews undercurrent of humour from the very first, when Andrea and Kate are trying to wrestle the body of a seventy pound flying jellyfish dripping pale pink slime through the door of Cutting Edge Investigations.

If you are a fan, don’t miss this novella. And if you haven’t been blessed with knowledge of this series, well, pick it up. It is like Cookies and Crème Ice Cream – you can’t stop with just one bite!

Review: Try Me On For Size By Stephanie Haefner

Classy & Sassy! Both the name of our lingerie shop, and the very much kickin’ Classy & Sassy ladies who run it. Well, Mia is the Classy, and Bryn is the Sassy, but you get the point!trymeon

The problem, however, is that the lingerie shop that Mia and Bryn have poured their hearts and souls into isn’t doing so well. And to save it, they have to move “outside the bras and panties” – in a rather big way. And “big” being the operative terminology, when they decide to start a new “personal massager” line – with the model being the ‘spokes penis’ – making personal appearances as well as the model for the perfectly molded product.

Of course, finding the perfect model requires a “test drive” – and of the five potential models Mia and Bryn choose, as Bryn is still recovering from the death of her soldier husband, Classy Mia draws the short straw – taking on the test drives of the potential spokes penises. What happens next is at times hysterical, certainly awkward, and, oh, did I mention funny? Especially when Mia hits it off right away with the first model – who isn’t actually the model she thought he was at all!

There is a lot to love in the humour of the book, but there is some really harsh reality as well. The terror of the small business owner on the edge of losing her business and snobbish and vicious family who will go to any lengths to ascertain that family who doesn’t fall into the family line doesn’t succeed.

While this is a light, romantic book it also shows a rather brilliant bit of social and familial reality which I found gave it a depth not often found in these sorts of ‘light romances.’ If this sounds good to you, don’t hesitate to buy the book.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Giveaway! Kelsey Brown: Personal Assets (Texas Nights #1)

Problems In Paradise Cover - FinalGIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights #3)
by Kelsey Browning
Author of Texas Nights Series
Co-author of The Granny Series
Release: July 14, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Format: ebook

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Book Summary:

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Giveaway!
Kelsey is giving an ecopy of Personal Assets, book one in the series, to one commenter on this blog!  personalassets
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Praise for Texas Nights Series:

Problems in Paradise:

“Starring a sexy lawman and a woman with a scandalous secret, a deliciously fun read.” – Shannon Stacey, New York Times bestselling author

Personal Assets:

“A hot man, a headstrong woman, and sizzling chemistry set against a homey Texas backdrop—Browning’s contemporary debut has all the assets that count!”  -Ruthie Knox, USA Today bestselling author of Flirting with Disaster

 “Sinfully hot, sassy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious—everything a southern romance should be!” -Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series

 Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

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