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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Month

March 2016

Is it feasible to build a wall between the US and Mexico as Donald Trump claims he would do?

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dennis Copeland, a Systems Engineer for various Federal Agencies, shared a brilliant post on Quora.com, and it is well worth a read.

“A structural engineer did an analysis of what it would take to build Trump’s wall.”

  An Engineer Explains Why Trump’s Wall Is So Implausible in The National Memo (Wednesday, March 16, 2016) wrote the article, and Copeland explains his findings in understandable language just what it would take to build Trump’s “Great Wall.”

Ya know, Trump, in the words of the brilliant comedian Lewis Black, “They’re so broke that they’ve actually cut essential services. In many places, they’ve cut policemen, because, who the fuck needs them? Or firemen, son of a bitch, it’s much more fun watching something burn down.”
Lewis Black

Every American should read both articles – they are brilliant!

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Back to Nocturne Falls with “The Werewolf Meets His Match”

The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls, #2)I first visited Nocturne Falls with the first book in the series, The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride. I didn’t know what to expect, but I found it in one of my email ‘freebie’ newsletters, and it sounded like fun, so what the heck?

It was, in a word, a Blast. I loved the town of Nocturne Falls, where Halloween is 365-days-a-year. What better way for witches, weres, vamps and all the other supernaturals to live their lives without fear of notice by the norms?

The books are $4.99 a piece, and with my tiny book budget and the plethora of less expensive books out there I hadn’t picked up another. But I finally broke down and bought The Werewolf Meets His Match and it was just as much fun as VMOB.

Hank Merrow, sheriff of Nocturne Falls and alpha’s heir, has always known that he would probably have to enter into an arranged marriage. Just part and parcel of being in his position. Sigh. But when he is notified that, not only is he going to have to have an arranged marriage, but it is to one of the bloody Kincaid Women (HORROR!) the temptation to back out of the whole deal is strong. But Hank is a good man, an honorable one, and his people don’t need another war. So, Suck it up, Buttercup, and marry the heathen already. Only, things may not be just exactly what they seem . . .

Ivy Kincaid’s first intro to Hank is from the other side of jailhouse bars. Well Hank isn’t really surprised by that. She is a Kincaid after all. But Ivy is just full of surprises. And the more Hank learns, the more he begins to think that things just may not be as bad as he expected. And when Hank learns Ivy’s secrets, he will soon discover that, lawman or not, some things are worth killing for.

I adored Ivy, her charming secret, and goofy, lovable Hank and his family. If you haven’t tried this series, check out the first one, it is only .99 on Amazon. Bet you get hooked as well! This one gets five stars. I adore Ivy, and her story made me want to stand right beside her and fight. Someone give me a map to Nocturne Falls – I want to live there!

Review: Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears #5) by T.S. Joyce

Lowlander Silverback (Gray Back Bears Book 5)The Gray Backs are back – well, sorta. While the first four in the series introduced us to the Bears of the Gray Back crew, this one is a whole different bit of monkeyshines…. as in, the story of Kong.

Kong. Silverback Gorilla Shifter and next Breeding Alpha of his clan of silverbacks. But Kong doesn’t want a harem. He lived with silverback society all his life, watching as the children, like him, were ignored and unloved. Kong wants something different. He wants a single mate, a chance to raise his children with love and respect. But when you have bodyguards who are instructed to make sure you stay away from temptation, well, getting his hands on the woman he wants is difficult, to say the least.

The Gray Back stories have been rather uneven, and this one moves from the five-stars of Easton’s story to a solid three, like Creed’s story. The story was uneven, the characters not as well-developed, and the interactions between the heroes felt forced and ‘instantaneous’ to a level that didn’t feel realistic within the world Joyce has designed. It’s a shame, as both characters had potential.

On to the next!

Review: Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears #4) by T.S. Joyce

Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears #4)The Trailer Park Bears are here again, with the fourth in the Gray Back Bears Series.
The Gray Backs, and all the others of the Trailer Park Bears group of multiple series, truly do live in trailer parks. Broken-down singlewides, parked in the middle of the forest, where Dragon Shifter Damon Daye has brought them in to clear trees devastated by bug infestations. The TPB’s series is actually more than one series. The first tells the story of the Saw Back Bears, this second series is all about the Gray Backs. While the Ashe crew, the stars of the Saw Bears series, is the “A Team” of lumberjacks, well, the Gray Back crew is, as Alpha Creed puts it, “The C Team”. Rowdy, constantly battling, and constantly covered in blood, the Gray Backs are a misfit band of dominant bears. Broken dominant bears. Creed the alpha, Matt the man-ho, Clinton and Jason the goofballs. And then there is Easton, a bear so broken he can’t stand to live close to the others – and can’t seem to stop fighting, even when it might mean his death. A broken clan with a brutal and savage history, they are the clan that nobody wants to mess with.

Book one was Matt’s story. Book two took us deeper into Creed’s story. Gray Back #3, Gray Back Ghost Bear, was Jason and Georgia. Now, we finally get to Easton’s story, the one I have been waiting for. Easton’s life was a horror show of infinite proportions, and it has left him fighting every second for some form of sanity. The Gray Back crew is his last chance. If Creed can’t keep him under control, he will have to be put down. And that knife’s edge is cutting closer.

Then, a ghost from his past reappears, and the thin line of his sanity, which has left him with the name ‘Beaston’ among the crew, wobbles dangerously. For there is a Raven in their midst – a Raven Beaston is certain he only dreamed. Aviana – the raven who once visited him in the darkness and terror of his childhood. Can they renew that bond and save both their souls?

Book four is the one I was waiting for, and it didn’t disappoint. A wonderful story, full of hope and forgiveness.

 

Review: Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears #3) by T.S. Joyce

Gray Back Ghost Bear (Gray Back Bears, #3)Who would have ever thought I would find Trailer Park Bears fascinating? Well, the way T.S. Joyce writes them, you simply can’t put the books down!

The Trailer Park Bears truly do live in trailer parks. Broken-down singlewides, parked in the middle of the forest, where Dragon Shifter Damon Daye has brought them in to clear trees devastated by bug infestations. The TPB’s series is actually more than one series. The first tells the story of the Saw Back Bears, this second series is all about the Gray Backs. While the Ashe crew, the stars of the Saw Bears series, is the “A Team” of lumberjacks, well, the Gray Back crew is, as Alpha Creed puts it, “The C Team”. Rowdy, constantly battling, and constantly covered in blood, the Gray Backs are a misfit band of dominant bears. Broken dominant bears. Creed the alpha, Matt the man-ho, Clinton and Jason the goofballs. And then there is Easton, a bear so broken he can’t stand to live close to the others – and can’t seem to stop fighting, even when it might mean his death. A broken clan with a brutal and savage history, they are the clan that nobody wants to mess with.

Book one was Matt’s story. Book two took us deeper into Creed’s story. Gray Back #3, Gray Back Ghost Bear introduces us to Georgia Ames, a KickAss park ranger hired by Damon Daye to protect his forests, and his crews, from interlopers. Georgia knows alll about brown bears, from her stint in Alaska – where she learned to be terrified of them. Now, she is to protect them? Sigh.

Then, she meets Jason, a bear shifter who is apparently mad as a Hatter, and a group of broken bears in a broken down trailer park. Suddenly, there is a great big target on her back, and spending time with Jason may just spell her death.

This one steps up from the slightly disappointing second in the series. I loved Willa from the first book, and Georgia is another favorite. She may be terrified of bears after Alaska, but she never backs down from doing what she needs to do to protect her charges. She is a great character. Oh, and Jason is pretty OK too…. 😉 The next book is Gray Back Broken Bear (Gray Back Bears #4).

Review: Gray Back Alpha Bear (Gray Back Bears #2) by T.S. Joyce

Gray Back Alpha Bear (Gray Back Bears, #2)Who would have ever thought I would find Trailer Park Bears fascinating? Well, the way T.S. Joyce writes them, you simply can’t put the books down!

The Trailer Park Bears truly do live in trailer parks. Broken-down singlewides, parked in the middle of the forest, where Dragon Shifter Damon Daye has brought them in to clear trees devastated by bug infestations. The TPB’s series is actually more than one series. The first tells the story of the Saw Back Bears, this second series is all about the Gray Backs. While the Ashe crew, the stars of the Saw Bears series, is the “A Team” of lumberjacks, well, the Gray Back crew is, as Alpha Creed puts it, “The C Team”. Rowdy, constantly battling, and constantly covered in blood, the Gray Backs are a misfit band of dominant bears. Broken dominant bears. Creed the alpha, Matt the man-ho, Clinton and Jason the goofballs. And then there is Easton, a bear so broken he can’t stand to live close to the others – and can’t seem to stop fighting, even when it might mean his death. A broken clan with a brutal and savage history, they are the clan that nobody wants to mess with.

Book one was Matt’s story. Now, book two takes us deeper into Creed’s story. Determined that there will be NO, absolutely, positively NO! females in his park, he was set back on his heel when Willa, Matt’s mate, blew into the park. Now, Gia is here, and Creed is wholly determined that she won’t change how he lives his life.

Honestly, this one sort of let me down. There were too many missing parts, too many unlikely ‘surprises’. Don’t get me wrong – I love Ms. Joyce’s Trailer Park Bears. But I hope the next is more pulled together than this one. It felt too rushed. Maybe a publishing deadline? However that may be, watch for my review of Gray Back #3, Gray Back Ghost Bear.

Getting Ready To Place My Heirloom Seed Order… BUT!

SO!!! Much. Fun, flipping through Organic and Heirloom Seed web catalogs and postings, getting ready to order unusual heirloom seeds for this years garden. With the windfall from my IJustRead.It win, I decided to use part of the money to purchase a grow light setup for my basement for my veggie and herb seeds, and then to use part to purchase heirloom seeds from small growers selling seeds on Amazon.

Oops.

I had no Idea what a confusing bunch of nonsense I was going to be embroiling myself in! See, here’s the thing . . . There are lots of people advertising “Organic/Open Source/Heirloom” seeds on Amazon. Available in small packs, there are some really interesting varieties they claim are all, or some, of the above. Take, for instance, the Hillbilly Tomato. From Wikipedia: Hillbilly Hillbilly Tomatoes - Seeds from Terra Edibles - Late. A huge bi-colour (bright yellow with red marbling) potato-leaf tomato, good slicer. Rich sweet flavour. Said to originate from West Virginia.: Tomato, also known as the “hillbilly potato leaf tomato”, scientific name Solanum lycopersicum, is an heirloom cultivar originating from West Virginia in the 1800s. This fruit is considered a beefsteak tomato weighing 1-2 pounds. It is round, heavily ribbed and its skin and flesh is orange- yellow with red streaks. The flavor is described “sweet and fruity” and is low in acid.[1] [2] [3]

It is on my “Seriously considering planting” list. So, as I am looking through Amazon seed listings, I saw this one and added it to my wish list, where I am gathering all the different things I like – then whittling the list down to what I can actually fit in my garden (big sigh).

But there, Horatio, is the rub. For you see, that particular vendor imports the seeds from China.

WTF?!?!

So, I started doing some digging…. and digging…..  and digging……………………

And learned quite a few things. There are Chinese laws about “organic.” There are American laws about “organic.” And never, ever, shall the twain meet. . .

The Chinese are now requiring that the Americans meet their particular organic regulations on imports, as we have required them to meet our regulations on organics . . . but they don’t come close to matching (and of course American exporters are all up in arms that they have to meet “expensive” export regulations. Big sigh.)

I dug deep on marketing laws, organic specifications between the two countries, etc. ad nauseum. I was looking, hard for rules about whether you could market seeds as organic, open source, etc. if they are imported from other countries. I found laws regarding endangered plant species, phytosterility, and all sorts of other little goodies dealing with small batch seed imports. But the more I read, the more ‘confusticated’ I got about my original question – should sellers be required to tell buyers that their supposedly organic seeds are imported from other countries? Are these seeds even close to being what they are marketed as? This particular seller had multiple reviews indicating the seeds, 1) Didn’t arrive because US Customs seized them, 2) Didn’t sprout, or 3) If they did sprout, they weren’t what the customer had ordered but some other tomato entirely. OK. Not good. I had wanted to buy from small, independent growers, and my Amazon credit – – – but if this is what I can look forward to, forget it. It looks like Territorial Seed Company is getting my business again this year!

I finally sent a letter to US Customs and Border Protection (since they are the ones who stopped the other customer’s seeds from coming through customs) as follows:

 

I recently nearly ordered vegetable seeds that were advertised as “Organic” from a company on Amazon.com, but reading reviews I noted that the seeds were imported from China and orders had been held by US Customs. There were other issues with that particular seller as well (which I addressed with Amazon) but my questions are:

1. Are companies who are selling Chinese imports required by law to notify American Consumers that they are doing so?

2. Are there strict laws in place that require Chinese seed sources to prove via chemical testing that they truly Are organic and non GMO?

I have read the phytosanitary regulations and USDA APHIS, but I can’t find clear and unassailable information. I find differing information on the internet, and I don’t trust any of it. I want to be absolutely certain that any seeds I buy are organic, open sourced, and (in my case) heirloom varieties – but I have found that more than one supplier out there is actually selling Chinese imports that, until you receive them from a Singapore address, or receive a letter from US Customs saying the product was destroyed, you have no way of knowing for sure are imported.

Your clarification would be greatly appreciated – and will be happily spread to my organic gardening groups!
I wonder if they will answer? They do say it can take three weeks or so for a response from a customer service agent. And if they do, what the response will be?  Have you thought about these questions? Do you plant heirlooms, organics, open source and/or non GMO seeds? Inquiring minds want to know!

(Veggie photos  courtesy of Pintrest.com)

Resurrection River: Men of Mercy – Lindsay Cross – Romantic Suspense

Resurrection River (Men of Mercy #2)“How many women get to watch their husband murdered on live television?”

Amy did. She watched as the bloodsucking monsters, better known as “The National News,” splashed the video of her husband, on his knees at the feet of Afghan terrorists, a black bag over his head, take a bullet to the back of his head. Thanks, Army, for not even letting her know her husband was captured.

No body to bury. Nothing but pain, and emptiness, and horrific loneliness, as everyone around her makes sympathetic noises. But nobody is going to pay her bills. So, to keep her farm, and to raise the child her husband never even knew he had, she goes back to crop dusting. An ancient plane, an illegal immigrant farmhand and his son, and her daughter are the only things Amy has left. Well, and the completely vicious, psychotic mother-in-law from hell who is determined to make sure that Amy and her daughter suffer because her ‘oh-so-special’ son never came back from the war. Oh, and a whole flock of circling scavengers, better known as “the press,” camping on her lawn, determined to feed off her pain and grief.

Determined to give her child a good life, eight months later she is doing her best, keeping her ancient plane in the air on a wish and a prayer, bubble gum and baling wire. Her life is OK. But all that changes in a single day when the past rears up to punch her in the face. One of her husband’s old Army buddies is back in town. And that isn’t all – oh, no. For there is a Mexican Cartel boss sniffing around Amy, her farmhand, and his son. Suddenly, Amy and her tiny family are surrounded by danger. She needs help, but does she dare trust Ranger James and his team to protect them? Or is there no safe place to hide from the monsters in the dark?

On the surface Resurrection River is a romantic suspense novel on a level with all the other “Big strong military dude comes along to save the little woman and they all live happily ever after” novels on the market today. Let’s face it – soldiers are sexy, right? But there is a lot more here as well. Lindsay Cross’s work (this is the second in the “Men of Mercy” series) touches on troubles we are all much too familiar with. Drug cartels, warlords, women and children being sold into sex slavery, terrorism and the horrors of PTSD. It is a mad, bad, ugly world out there, and Cross weaves all these themes through her book.

We all need a light read sometimes, and ‘sexy soldier’ is a common trope, yes. But this is more than that, and I am glad it is. We get the ‘fun’ stuff. But along with it, you get a big dose of the serious as well, and that was a treat.

What killed it for me, and dropped it two whole stars, is how BADLY this book needs an Editor! The authors gives kudos to her ‘”Beta Readers” but they did a Horrible job. The book is filled with so many problems, at times I found it hard to translate what the writer was trying to say, and the whole mess was truly disappointing from that angle.

Kill It With Magic (Lillim Callina Book One) by J. A. Cipriano – Young Adult

Kill it with Magic by J.A. CiprianoHere’s the thing. I don’t normally like “YA” books. Hey, been there, done that, didn’t even want the flipping “I lived through being a teenager” T-shirt. But I was looking for a Whispersync book, I had downloaded this book from a “freebie” email, and though there was no description on the “About this book” on my Kindle, the first couple of paragraphs grabbed my attention and made me laugh.

“What kind of a tip do you give someone you’ve just blown up? That’s the thought that ran through my mind as I frantically rummaged through my pockets for something, anything to give the delivery boy I’d just blasted into the brick wall outside my tiny apartment.

It wasn’t my fault, I swear. It’s not like my day planner reads: brush teeth, shower, get dressed, blow up delivery boys.” – Lillim Callina

You have to admit, that is pretty darn humorous, right? So, I paid my $1.99 for Whispersync, popped on my headphones, and wandered into my studio to work on my art. Let’s face it – that is a LOT less money than paying for a full Audible Edition! And you can simply stop listening and start reading any time you want.

Score.

Come to find out, Lillim Callina is actually sixteen – but you wouldn’t know it from reading her. Well, actually, actually she is something like six years old. Yeah, weird, huh? You see, Lillim is a reincarnation of one ass-kicking, name-taking female with a nasty streak and some deep, dark secrets. Throw in a ton of magic, a spectacularly sped-up growth rate, a mother who thinks that the perfect way to ‘teach’ her toddler “Vampires Bad!” is to tie her to a tree outside a cave full of blood-suckers right at sundown (OK, I just thought my egg donor was a raving lunatic!) a dragon turf war, and a truly pissed-off werewolf king (Well, OK. She did accidentally get his son kidnapped as a pawn in the aforementioned dragon turf war. Sigh.) Add to that various and sundry other weird, hideous and downright loco monsters, and this was a riot wrapped in a Dresden-esque ass-kicking on steroids. Lillim appears to be sixteen, but her thought process are wildly skewed by the memories from her eight former lives – especially the previous one – making her a clever mix of teenager and burned-out middle aged woman.

This is non-stop action, with plenty of blood and blades to go around. Lillim is quite interesting, though I had a bit of a problem with just how often, and just how severely, she got herself beaten to a pulp and still walked away. The author goes to great pains to write her as a mortal creature in a world filled with immortal monsters – but it stretches belief when every time she turns around she is being slammed into brick walls by dragons, set on fire, and basically subjected to brutality that should have killed her. Over, and over, and over again. Still, the book was amusing, the story itself is unusual – not as formulaic as is so common these days – and Lilllim is an interesting character with a striking backstory.

Overall, I don’t regret the time I spent with the book. If you are a fan of YA, I recommend it. If you aren’t a fan, you still might enjoy it – I did.

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