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Brexit: Good, Bad or Indifferent, It’s A Done Deal

Brexit has been dominating international headlines for the past few ...
“I’ve come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation.” – Jeff Weiner

 “Let us not be defeated by the tyranny of the world financial markets that threaten peace and democracy everywhere.” – Stephane Hessel

Yes, I have been researching Brexit, totally because a couple of people I truly admire are so against it because of the economic difficulties they foresee, and the thought that the withdrawal is marching backwards instead of forwards on the world stage. Keith and Hugh make exceptionally good points, but while I understand the economic difficulties it caused worldwide when the measure first passed, I can’t help but agree with many of the articles I have read from sources inside and outside of the EU, which point out just how “broken” the EU leadership truly is. That is historically the problem when you get ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ (from nine original members to 28, all with their own agendas). You wind up with a spoiled meal, or in this case, a massive bureaucracy so enamored with their own power they constantly do, to put it bluntly, stupid stuff. I haven’t been following the EU regulatory process, (too busy working to get my editing business off the ground) but one article I just read from a British newspaper pointed out that one of the EU rules, in the vein of “the straw that broke the camel’s back” had to do with regulations on the “correct” size and shape of cucumbers and carrots!* So, if such common foods are not shaped correctly, were they thrown out? When food prices are so high, and so many people go hungry? And besides that – with all the problems this world has to face in these troubling times of war, poverty, and terrorism, the fact that carrot shape is what the EU is interested in is offensive to a breathtaking degree. Now, if they were worried about whether the carrot was filled with poisonous chemicals, that I could see. But whether it is bumpy or not is what you worry about? Deeply, Deeply offensive!

I read a lot of good comments on many different articles posted online, (and some that didn’t make a lot of sense), but we all have our opinions. After reading articles from a wide-ranging group of countries, I focused on several articles, especially one from the New Zealand National Business Review entitled Three Reasons Brexit Won”. The points that make the most sense to me deal mostly with the immigration issues inherent in the EU structure.

1) As a poster commented, you can’t plan if you don’t know how many people to plan for. Health care, housing, jobs, policing, even food supplies – there is a whole list of issues dealing with immigration that must be planned for, both in the long and short term. You can’t set the table if you don’t know how many people are coming to dinner. As pointed out by one correspondent, “Under EU rules, citizens of any member state are allowed to live and work anywhere in the bloc, regardless of their education, salary or skills.” It reminds me of Castro dumping all of his prisoners and mental hospital patients into the exodus of “boat people” from his shores in 1994, shipping them off to Florida so he didn’t have to pay for their upkeep, the second time he had done the same thing (see “The Mariel Crisis” April – October, 1980). A brilliant strategy on his part, but a disaster for the state of Florida where the boats landed.

2) On another immigration issue, I agree that the number of people flooding Britain leaves them dangerously open to terrorists coming across the border and creating devastating damage. When you have organized policing, and the funding for police services for 33.5 million people, having the migration numbers skyrocket from 44,000 in 1991 to 333,000 in 2015, there is no way any country can assure the safety of their citizens.

3)  While many posters at different sites are making a big point of the fact that the “youth are getting screwed” by Brexit, I have difficulty with that stance, again from an immigration standpoint. When you have people emigrating from poor countries, they are willing to work for extremely low salaries. They are willing to work harder, put in longer hours, and rarely “rock the boat”.  As such, companies are much more likely to hire these immigrants, some highly educated as in the case of Asian and Indian workers, who are willing to work harder for less money. We see this every day here in the States, with immigrant workers being such a huge workforce. We also suffer greatly from companies outsourcing jobs to India, Pakistan, and other countries where wages are a 10th of the cost and there are lower standards for worker safety, no health care, and no retirement. A “disposable” workforce. Of course, they made workers here “disposable” as well, leaving people who had good jobs either on unemployment, welfare, or slinging burgers at two or three part time jobs with no benefits and no retirement. While the “reeducation” concept is a good idea, too often workers find that, once they are retrained, the job they trained for was also outsourced, or went to a younger, cheaper applicant.  A rather short-sighted view, as the older applicant has more experience, knowledge, and is accustomed to being loyal to the company she/he works for. Turnover is expensive.

This also highlights the problem of educational resources. Overcrowding in schools, teacher shortages, lack of books and supplies, and the violence inherent in putting together massive numbers of testosterone and estrogen factories in small, overcrowded spaces where “normal” levels of high school angst are amplified by extreme racial and cultural tensions without appropriate counseling and teaching services is short-sighted at best, deadly at worst. An article in The Mail by Sue Reed (30 May 2014) The New Face of Racial Tension discusses warnings from ex-Home Secretary David Blunkett regarding the swift rise of violence in the area of Sheffield between British locals and the expanding population of Roma in the area.

Regardless of who is to blame for the rising tension, it is a sorry story that encapsulates what is happening in so many urban areas across the country, as people are forced to adapt to a sudden influx of immigrants who often speak no English, can’t get work, live in dreadful conditions and put immense strain on already hard-pressed schools and NHS services.

As for the “Doomsday” outcome of the world economy after Brexit? As Oliver Pursche, correspondent for TheStreet.com put it, “Slow down, stop speculating and focus on the facts.” And the facts are, as pointed out by numerous banking and finance specialists, after the 2007 crash major banking and worldwide stock market systems created “stress tests” and methodologies for handling just this sort of economic/political upheaval. There are contingency plans in place. That doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and down, but articles over the last week are calling for much less upheaval than was felt in the first few days after Brexit’s passing as financial markets imploded from the number of ostensibly intelligent people running around screaming “Doom! Doom!” and trying to make as much money as quickly as possible off of the uncertainty inherent in any large-scale change.

Correspondingly pointed out in a blog post on the Brookings Institute website by former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, “The biggest risks to financial stability at this point appear to be political — specifically the risks of further defections or breakdown in the European Union — rather than economic.”  As he went on to comment, “Markets are already beginning to calculate and adjust for the risk that other countries will press for greater autonomy from Brussels.”

I am not saying here that there won’t be economic damage to Britain from Brexit. Another quote from Bernanke points out:

In the longer run, the uncertainty will dissipate, but the economic costs to the U.K. still will exceed the benefits. Financial services and other globally oriented industries, which depend on unfettered access to European markets and exchanges, will come under pressure. At the same time, the purported gains from freeing the U.K. from the heavy regulatory hand of Brussels will be limited, because Britain will likely have to accept most of those rules (without ability to influence them) as part of restructured trade agreements. Immigration is unpopular in the U.K., and slowing it was a motivation for some “leave” voters, but a more slowly growing labor force likely would also reduce overall economic growth.

My thoughts on the whole “The Sky Is Falling! The Sky is Falling!” attitude of the markets? Markets react much like a flock of birds in a field. One gunshot and the whole flock bursts into panic and takes to the skies, defecating and shedding feathers in terror.  Or, as Mark Twain said, “A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.”  In my own words? “Grow up, you market idiots and act like intelligent people instead of three-year-olds on a serious sugar rush!” I can’t help but feel that the reason many ‘market crises’ occur at all is best indicated by CNN  Money’s “Fear and Greed Index.”  I.e., “Investors are driven by two emotions: fear and greed. Too much fear can sink stocks well below where they should be. When investors get greedy, they can bid up stock prices way too far.” The 2007 economic collapse was based on greed, as a small group of people purposely destroyed whole economic systems in a grab for obnoxious degrees of wealth and power. If we can keep the politicians and financial manipulators from destroying us all, I have hope that the “regular population” will be able to see past the sturm und drang, greed based manipulations and power plays of the rich and powerful and keep their panic to a minimum. The damage is done. Now it is time to clear up the fallout and work on correcting the very issues that have placed the EU in such an unstable position.

That’s my take on the situation. Good, bad, or indifferent, it will be interesting to see how it all pans out . . .

*”According to European Commission Regulation No. 1277/88, if a cucumber bends more than 10 millimeters per 10 centimeters (0.4 inches per 4 inches) in length, it cannot be categorized as “class one” and may therefore only be sold as a second-rate cucumber. But who wants to buy one of those? Most second-rate cucumbers — at least according to conventional wisdom — never make it to market.”

My thanks to my friends Keith from MusingsofanOldFart.com and Hugh Curtler for waking me up and getting me interested (again!) in an important world event. If it weren’t for you two, I wouldn’t know it if the sky really  was falling!

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Review: Nine Line by Zachary J. Kitchen – A Brilliant MUST Read

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“Have no fear of robbers or murderers. They are external dangers, petty dangers. We should fear ourselves. The great dangers are within us. What threatens our souls? It is forbidden to kill. Therefore, all murderers are punished. Unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets.” – The manifestation of Thomas Neill Cream, from River, British television series, based on a quote from Voltaire

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on Life’s parade shall meet
The brave and fallen few.
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.
– Theodore O’Hara, American poet and soldier

 

 There is a quote from “Nine Line” that defines the book so very well.

“No, sir. It says here that you are deceased. As of two months ago.”

The ponderous, ‘file it in triplicate, we will get back to you in a couple of years’ mentality of a war machine weighted down by politicians and paper, upper echelons more interested in raising their profiles, and climbing their ladders, than protecting those under their care. “What a fucked up way to run a war.”

Nine Line is a paean to the stupidity of war – and the great and noble sacrifices of those who fight. And a scathing, horrific acknowledgement of the horrors these young men and woman suffer in a medieval land of savagery beyond all moral comprehension. Unconscionable waste – of resources, of potential.

Of life itself.

Nick Patterson grew up the son of a wrench monkey at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. A good, hardworking man, he raised a good man in Nick. A man who wants to help. To do what he can to make the world a better place. He wants to be a doctor, but a working man’s son can’t afford a good school without a bit of help. So, the Navy it is. “The Navy had covered everything: tuition, books, fees, room, and even a little bit of beer money besides.” An ER residency at SUNY, then it’s off to the wars – literally.

Life in the sandbox, a festering malignancy on the ass of the world. A land once rich with life and history, now brutally destroyed, driven to the lowest possible depths of human depravity by madness and hatred and greed. Vicious heat, sand and wind. Bombs and bullets and blood. Oh, so very, very much blood. Rivers of blood, bits and pieces of humanity, once vibrant, now simply meat. The reality of the barbarism of life in a land where savages hold no humanity, are the worst they can possibly be. Where the Dark Ages never grew into the light. Where life has no worth other than as cannon fodder. Unless, of course, you are a woman or child. Then? You are a possession. No rights. No love. No hope. Where all the goodness and love and light has been stripped away, until only hatred remains. Thousands of years of violence and death, justified by warped interpretations of religious beliefs, racial tensions, and warlords bent on controlling the few resources available by creating mountains of dead and dying. Medieval people existing in a medieval world. A medieval world filled with bombs and guns, IEDs . . .  and So. Much. Blood.

Have you noticed how we ignore it these days? We, with our smart phones and takeaway, golf games and video games, wrapped up in sheer self-interest. It’s all about us – about who gets kicked off the island, who has the newest electronics, what stupid stunt the celebrity of the moment just pulled. Petty, self-centered, and oh, so unrepentantly ‘entitled’.

“People like us don’t go off to war. That is for those people too poor to find a way out or too dumb to know any better. Uniforms are for the lower classes.”

While so many suffer – suffer and die, alone in the sand, those with the power to create change ignore the reality of lives snuffed out, lives destroyed.

Mr. Kitchen is that rarest of novelists – a man who writes from his heart about his own experiences and those of his closest companions, those who fought and died at his side. Marine. Pilot. A Navy scholarship to the Michigan School of Medicine. Then, Iraq with a Forward Resuscitative Surgical System team. This book made me laugh and cry. It made my heart pound and hurt and, at times, it lifted me up to see the utter goodness in the hearts and minds of young women and men in the worst of circumstances. It is an absolutely wonderful book, full of truth, pain, and the ultimate sacrifices made by those men and women, so young, so full of hope and life and plans, so violently snuffed out.

“There must be some kind of way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.

Business men – they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.” –
Bob Dylan & The Band, All Along the Watchtower

 Read this book. You really, truly should. There is hope, even in the pain. But we must never forget. Must never take for granted the sacrifices made, the lives lost, and the political machine which keeps it all running.

“These were guys who would never laugh or get drunk or screw again. Young, healthy, and with a lot more life left, they were cut down. For what? So one asshole can take land and power from another asshole?”

 

 

 

Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?

I have had to laugh lately at the rising prices of “Name Publishers” books. With the plethora of truly well written books out there by Indie Authors I no longer even consider buying the “Big Name” authors. That is what libraries are for. Their books are just too expensive for my budget. Besides, why spend a small fortune on their books when authors like Mark Henwick, Michael Angel, Susan Bliler, Celia Kyle, and many many others put out exceptional books at reasonable prices? Besides that, what possible reason, other than price gouging, can one use to justify this sort of thing? Observe:

Stephen King’s

Mr. Mercedes

Kindle $12.99  Paperback $10.40

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy, #1)

Yep. $2.59 MORE for the Kindle edition than the Print Edition. The print edition requires paper, ink, cover materials, shipping and handling. And yet, you pay MORE for the Kindle edition that has none of these inherent costs.

So, anyway…

I was reading my mail this morning, and came across a email from Bookgorilla.com. If you haven’t found the site before, I highly recommend it.

The email led me to an article entitled, “Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?” The article includes a link to a spreadsheet of the Price Breakdown of the Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers as of today, October 7.

What I found was surprising – but then again, not. One thing that tickled my fancy is the severe drop in “Name Published” books on the Top 100 List.

“In our (Bookgorilla.com) January 2013 analysis, 58% of the Top 50 bestsellers were published by the big traditional publishers, and that figure has since declined to 38%. Conversely, 42% of the Top 50 bestsellers were published by indie authors or by Amazon’s own publishing imprints in January 2013, compared with 62% this past weekend.”

In other words, what the big publishers have won in their latest round of contract “victories” over Amazon is the right to price themselves right off the bestseller list.” – Bookgorilla.com, Kindle Store eBook Prices Are Rising … Or Are They?, October 5, 2015 by Steve Windwalker

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Screen shot by Bookgorilla.com All rights reserved.

Looking at my Library on my Kindle, I find that the Top 100 books in my library (most recent purchases – yes, I have literally hundreds of books on my tablet, rather they be Kindle, B&N, PDF, or other) none of the books cost me more than $5.99. What does that mean for the authors I buy books from? Well, the way I look at it, none of us “Normal People” have a huge supply of cash available for “Entertainment Purchases.” Therefore, pennies are pinched where we can. And having books priced $5.99 and under means that I can buy a lot more Indie books, and review a lot more Indie books, than I ever could buying the books of people like Stephen King, whose books are way outside that $5.99 personal spending limit. And I only have a few of those. The books by my favorite “Big Publishing” authors, such as Ilona Andrews? Ilona and Gordon are with Penguin, hence the $12.99 Kindle tag. Well, that is what Libraries are for! I may have to wait for my turn, but I don’t have to shell out that $13.00 price tag I can’t afford.

Where does my limit lie on the Top 100 Kindle Books List? Well, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences” by Camille Pagán holds the number one spot right now, and lists at $5.99. However, if you are  a member of Kindle First? $1.99. The Mentor by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is $5.99 as well, $1.99 on Kindle First. “Life” is published by the Lake Union Publishing small press, while “Mentor” is Amazon Crossing. A couple of the “Names” pop up in the top ten, “Twilight” (Of course. Sigh.) at $12.99 and “The Survivor” by Vince Flynn at $14.99. Well, there are still going to be those who will save their pennies for the higher dollar authors. Rick Riordan comes in at #14 and Lee Child at #16, but John Sanford languishes at #97.

Of course, then there are the Top 100 Free Books! What’s not to like about FREE?! Of course, those are Indie Published – and a great way to catch attention. I can think of several authors I have found through a free book and have continued to read (and pay for) so the whole “Freebie” thing worked out, as far as I am concerned! Now, it is time to go scan the free list and see if I come up with something new!

What are your thoughts? Wanna share?

 

Review: Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff #Childtrafficking

Cold Moon (Huntress/FBI Thrillers, #3)“Josephine Butler (1828-1907) writes in her journals, pamphlets and diaries of the second half of the nineteenth century about seeing thousands (yes, thousands) of little girls, some as young as four or five, in the illegal brothels of London, Paris, Brussels, and Geneva. …The children had a life expectancy of two years, yet the brothel owners, frequently women, seemed to have an unlimited supply…. ‘Clean’ children, who were free from venereal disease, commanded a high price.” ― Jennifer Worth

“. . . outright abduction of children and teens was more and more common, ever since gangs had caught on to the fact that selling kids was more lucrative than selling drugs and carried lighter criminal penalties.” – Rachel Elliott, Cold Moon

Cara Lindstrom is a legend. Victim of a horrific, borderline mythic crime of unimaginable violence. Five years old, her throat slashed, her family dead, her mind shattered. Five years old when IT came to call. The monster. The Beast. IT. Twenty-five men, women and children slaughtered. Only Cara lived.

Jailed at twelve, payback for fighting off the counselor in the group home she had been shuttled into most recently. The counselor who meant to rape her while the thirteen-year-old facility bully held her down. And now, Cara is locked up in Los Angeles County Women’s #8. Locked up, where male sexual predators dressed as guards are free to rape and torture those in their care. “Other countries prohibited the overseeing of female prisoners by male guards, but US laws put its incarcerated women in constant physical jeopardy in the name of equal opportunity employment.” Cara is jailed for the murder of a pimp who ran underage girls in the sewers of Los Angeles. Jailed, with no possibility of bail, after rescuing twenty-two young girls from a life of sexual slavery in the good old US of A. After rescuing the head FBI agent on her case from death at the hands of The Reaper, the same sadistic monster who attacked Cara and killed her family, and so many others.

Thirty-two-billion dollars a year. Two and a half million children and young girls, some as young as five, sold into sexual slavery, locked up twenty-four hours a day, servicing an average of twenty men a day. Their jailers walking free, their rapists walking free. While Cara sits in a cell.

To the girls and young women she saves, Cara is “the Eighth Archangel”, “The Santa Muerte of the Seven Powers”, “The Lady of the Shadows”. Lady Death. Patron saint of the incarcerated and the poor, those who suffer on the fringes of society, the downtrodden and hopeless, the ill and the dying. Lady Death came to Marisol, the tinyLa Santa Muerte by angelero girl locked in the belly of a cement mixer and carried with twenty-one other girls across the border, two dying en-route from abuse, hunger, dehydration. The Lady came, snatching Marisol from under the body of the trafficker who meant to rape the baby girl. . . Santa Muerte, the savior of young girls destined for brutal lives, and more brutal deaths. Their Savior – their Savior, who actually sees the monster inside the men that IT takes for Its own.

“. . . years of looking into the depths. Of a beat that hides behind the masks of ordinary faces: fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, random men on the street . . . and the mothers and grandmother who turned a blind eye to the abuse.”

Why is Cara in jail? Because she doesn’t carry a badge.

It isn’t ‘politically correct’ to call them prostitutes any more. “Commercially sexually exploited youth.” Let’s call a spade a spade. Child victims of men with no souls, no hearts, brutal monsters who take what they want, pay their fee, and go back to their wives and children, their pretty little houses and pretty little lives. Cara means to save as many of the as she can. And Santa Muerte? Her followers gather. . .

Tortured, convoluted. Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress series has been both horribly painful and deeply rewarding. Huntress Moon introduced us to Cara and to her opposite number, Matt Roarke – FBI Special Agent and hunter of monsters of the human kind. Brilliantly crafted, with an almost dreamlike feel, well-written and well-researched, the first book captured me and led me straight into Blood Moon.

“You can never kill them all,” she whispered. “They keep coming back.”

Roarke still tracks Cara Lindstrom – the woman who, as a child, drew him to FBI Profiling– the woman who changed his life with the very fact of her own.

“Twenty-five girls to a block, locked in the rooms and drugged to the gills, servicing twenty-five to forty men a day, twelve hours a day, seven days a week.”

Free them.

Free them.

Roarke seeks “Justice” – but is it justice, truly, to capture Santa Muerte?

This third installment is just as painful, just as mind-blowing, just as fulfilling, as each of the previous books. If you haven’t read the first two – DO. Your life will never be the same. Then? Go out and do something about it.

“There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of Hell.” ― Edgar Allan Poe

I received Cold Moon from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. This series is, in a word, amazing.

If you enjoyed my review, I would appreciate a “Like” for my Amazon review. It helps draw attention to my reviews, which helps the authors whom I review. Thank you!

About The Author

Alexandra SokoloffAlexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, and THE SPACE BETWEEN, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”

As a screenwriter she has sold original horror and thriller scripts and adapted novels for numerous Hollywood studios. She has also written two non-fiction workbooks: SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS and WRITING LOVE, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, west and the Board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Learn more at http://alexandrasokoloff.com

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Review: Montana Cherries – Kim Law — READ This Book!!!!!

Montana Cherries“Triangulation: a tactic used by narcissistic parents to change the balance of power in a family system. For example, rather than allowing two siblings to work together, the Narcissistic Parent insists that he or she be the go-between. This controls the way the information flows, the way it is interpreted, and adds nuances to the conversation.”Band Back Together, adult children of narcissistic parents resources

“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” — Walter Anderson

What do we naturally forget, and what do we force from our minds, wipe the slate clean, when it comes to our childhood? Where in our minds is the blackness and pain packed away, hidden? Behind locked doors? Or in solid chests, pushed to the back of the mind, covered in dust and ashes, only to crack open, leaking out poisons that eat away at body, mind and soul, tiny currents, lapping away at the foundations of life until it is simply not worth living any longer. Crippled lives, crippled relationships. And the pain. The pain, constant and unyielding, thrumming in the background, dark drums in the night, throbbing … throbbing … throbbing …

But the guilt? The guilt is, in a way, can be even more debilitating. You are never enough. Never good enough, never sane enough, never pretty enough or smart enough or or or. . .

The thing is, Dani Wilde doesn’t even know she is damaged. You see, she doesn’t remember. She thinks things are fine. Her life is finally opening up. The four younger brothers she raised are taken care of, all grown up, have good positions, and even the youngest is graduating from college. Finally, finally she can reach for her own dreams. She can take her skills at marketing and accept the position at a New York firm that has been following her through her career as a freelance marketing specialist in Montana. Dani is responsible for keeping the cherry farm her family owns financially stable. She cooks and cleans for a family of six, runs a store featuring local products, runs an online business selling the stores wares, and has a separate business as a marketing specialist for local businesses. She never stops working, never stops caring for others. Just. Never. Stops. But now? Now she can have the life she gave up when her mother died in a car accident, a death that brought Dani back from her full ride at Columbia to take over the household on their cherry farm and raise the four brothers that her mother left behind. These are good time, wonderful times. Dani can finally have a life which doesn’t include having to be everything to everyone else.

But.

Something is happening inside her. Flashes of memory, scenes in her mind that can’t possibly be real.

Can they?

The door is opening, the chest creaking as the top rises. The dust is blowing away. And what crawls out of the darkness, pale and ephemeral, could very well destroy Dani. And the larger that shadowy presence grows in her mind, the wider the opening, the darker the memories . . . Memories that will literally rip her life to shreds, destroying everything she ever thought about herself, her family, her very life.

The pain . .   .

I am not ashamed to say that I cried like a baby over this book. It took me a couple of days to even write this review. Looking back, this almost sounds like a horror story, doesn’t it? And in a way, it is. But it is also a story of incredible inner strength, a story of just how devastating the actions of one member of a family can be upon the lives of all around them. Especially the lives of their own children. This book hurt on a level that is hard for me to even explain.

But that isn’t a bad thing. You see, it is nearly impossible for anyone who hasn’t been there to understand just how Narcissistic Personality Disorder in a parent can shatter the very soul of a child. And that is what this family has suffered, though Dani doesn’t even remember it. And when she does, when her memories finally return, here it becomes not just Dani’s story, but the story of a family so deeply damaged that they may never be completely healed. But it is also a story of a family finding their way towards that healing, towards understanding and relearning how to love one another.

This is, on the surface, a ‘sweet, home town romance.’ And yes, there is romance here. But what makes it SO much better than a ‘boy meets girl’ romance is the cast of characters. Armed with a sharp and unrelenting pen, Kim Law draws a picture of family life that is far from perfect. And it isn’t just Dani’s family that is far from Norman Rockwellesque. Ben was Dani’s first love, first lover, and best friend ten years ago. But one single night separated them. Now Ben, who had his own issues with the coldness and disregard of his famous actress mother finds himself the single father of a four-year-old little girl who is dropped off on his doorstep one day like a load of laundry by a mother who never looks back. Bringing her back to Montana where he spent as much time as possible at one time with the Wilde family, he is looking for some way to connect with the child.

Yes, all of these people are heartbreaking. And all of them – all of them – even the ones I wanted to hit over the head with a very large rock, are worth spending time with. Worth coming to know, coming to understand – if for no other reason than to understand your own heart, your own pain. And some of them? Some of them are worth loving so very much simply for their ability to continue to survive, continue to love, to even know how to love under the crushing weight of betrayals beyond comprehension. This is what makes this book so very heartbreaking – and so very, very worth reading.

This is a six tissue read, and I have to say, when I finished it? I felt, well, cleaner. Like one of the many wounds in my soul had been lanced and bled, and can now heal. Not all, but you know what? As Ms. Law says in her postscript, “You’re not alone. You’re a survivor. You got dealt a rotten hand in life. But you can move on.” Watching her characters do just that? Well, that is the very definition of cathartic.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. Here is the skinny. If you are looking for a ‘simple’ romance story, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a well written book with a strong story, wonderful characters, a realistic look at the damage a serious but under acknowledged disorder can cause, well, you are in for a true treat. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Click the link above or pick up a copy of “Will I Ever Be Good Enough” by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. for further on NPD.

If you like my review, I would really appreciate it if you would click “Like” for my review on Amazon when this book comes out on July 28th. It helps draw attention to my reviews, which helps the authors I review garner more readers. Thank you!

About Kim Law

6473776 As a child, award-winning author Kim Law cultivated a love for chocolate, anything purple, and creative writing. She penned her debut work, “The Gigantic Talking Raisin,” in the sixth grade and got hooked on the delights of creating stories. Before settling into the writing life, however, she earned a college degree in mathematics and worked for years as a computer programmer. Now she’s living out her lifelong dream of writing romance novels. She’s won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, been a finalist for the prestigious RWA RITA Award, and served in varied positions for her local RWA chapter. A native of Kentucky, Kim lives with her husband and an assortment of animals in Middle Tennessee.

Visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kimlawauthor or find her on twitter @kim_law.

Review: One Second After by William R. Forstchen

One Second After“Unfortunately, the cyber threat to ‘the grid’ is only one means of eviscerating the soft underbelly of American society. Another which has been getting increasing attention could be delivered via the kind of nuclear-armed ballistic missile that Iran and North Korea have been developing: a strategic electro-magnetic pulse attack.” –Frank Gaffney

It starts out as a normal day.

Then, a high-altitude nuclear bomb of uncertain origin explodes over the United States. And suddenly, there will never again be a ‘normal day’.

Retired army colonel John Matherson teaches college, raises two daughters, and grieves the loss of his wife to cancer. Now, John must do everything he can to save his family as society begins to fail around them. John rushes to the drug store immediately. After all, his type-one diabetic 12-year-old will desperately need her insulin – and with the highways jammed with vehicles that no longer run, pharmaceutical companies that can no longer produce drugs, getting the insulin will be imperative. But there is only so much available – and after that?

Deaths start with heart attacks and eventually escalate alarmingly. Food becomes scarce, and societal breakdown proceeds with inevitable violence; towns burn, people are murdered for supplies, and roving gangs begin terrorizing towns where people have come together to help one another survive.

One Second After may not really be the “best book I have ever read” for its literary merit. Yes, it is well written, well scripted, and realistic in tone and writing style. What makes it the “best” is how REAL it is. America is, as is readily admitted by our government and military, NOT ready for an EMP. And should the blast actually occur, I can absolutely see exactly the outcome as envisioned by Forstchen. A total breakdown of everything that we, today, take as being the human condition. Forstchen does not paint a totally black picture – people do come together to help one another survive, moving back to the agrarian society of old, relying on one another to survive, bartering and helping. But there is also the black and bitter side of humanity.

This book should be REQUIRED reading for every single person in this country. Once it happens —

It’s too late.

(Updated) I’m Not The Only Ticked Off WordPress Customer

I visited WordPress today to complain about the issues I have been having with the “New and Improved” editor form.

Imagine my surprise (Not!) when I ran across this forum post:

Posting style HATE new form.

Seems I am not the only unhappy camper out there. . .

There is a poll on the net which asks:

Poll – Would you be satisfied to replace the WordPress Classic editor with the new default editor?

I ran over and took the poll, and reference it in the post I made to the forum.

Just want to say, I and all of my fellow bloggers who I have spoken with HATE HATE HATE HATE the “new and improved” (HA!) form. It is clunky, limited, and nasty to work with. I can’t work within my photos to add links or resize, the tags and categories don’t work, and even the amount of space I have to type in is smaller.

If this is the degree of disrespect you show for your users, I won’t be surprised when someone comes up with bigger, better and badder software to push you out of the business. Especially as this “new” layout seems to be dedicated to forcing your customers to move to wordpress.org.

I took the poll – and I find it humorous that WordPress finds the poll:

“The so-called poll is not conducted by wordpress.com and it is biased and irrelevant.” If it WAS posted by WordPress, then I would Expect it to be biased and irrelevant.

The question is:

“Poll – Would you be satisfied to replace the WordPress Classic editor with the new default editor?”

No. I hate the new editor. It’s defective. It should be scrapped. (77.1% agree – 2480 responses)

Never. I love the Classic editor and it works for my professional website. (16.3% – 523 responses)

No. I want to be able to choose and keep both editors active. (6% agree – 195 responses)

Yes. I like the new editor. (9 votes – statistical absence of relevance)

I don’t care. Whatever. (9 votes – statistical absence of relevance)

I only found the poll when I came here to complain about the new editor, but this a clear question, with clear responses.

Is there a possibility you will listen to your customers, or will you continue to force them over to wordpress.org?

So – here is the question. If enough people take the poll, do you think it will do any good?

Update:

Their answer?

@soireadthisbooktoday
We have known since March 18th, 2015 that the link to the classic editor will not be provided in the new Beep Beep Boop editor.

You do not have to use the new Beep Beep Boop editor.

If you are solution orientated you can use the classic editor right now to create and edit posts and pages. And, you can still use the old stats pages too. See here for how to do that Navigating the Classic WordPress.COM interface

Well, it isn’t like I expected anything different, right? Customers just have to go through multiple steps to post, rather than being able to click “New Post” like we used to be able to. SURPRISE!

Review: Marked by Sarah Fine – My New Auto Purchase Author!

21805566Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat convey’d,
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old, and she a shade.
– Walter Savage Landor – Pericles and Aspasia (l. 5–8)

If we do not change our negative habits toward climate change, we can count on worldwide disruptions in food production, resulting in mass migration, refugee crises and increased conflict over scarce natural resources like water and farm land. This is a recipe for major security problems. – Michael Franti

We cannot permit the extreme in the environmental movement to shut down the United States. We cannot shut down the lives of many Americans by going to the extreme on the environment. – George Bush (b. 1924), U.S. Republican politician, president. Speech, May 30, 1992, at campaign rally, California on the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

Yeah. How’s that workin’ out for everybody but you? – Me

 

Lachesis measures out the thread, while Clotho weaves upon the loom, but Moros walks amongst us still, personification of impending doom, drives mortals to their lethal fate, while deadly Atropos cuts the thread. . . OK. I wrote that part, but Sarah Fine’s Marked made me feel poetic. I literally got lost in her words, in her story of Cacy Ferry and her family. The Ferry’s have a secret – their father, Patrick, is the physical manifestation of Charon, the ferryman of the dead. And Cacy and her siblings all carry the weight of the souls they guide to the afterlife. One gold coin for a lifetime of lost happiness. The fee paid to the Ferrymen, and women, to carry out their duties.

Ah, but the fee must be shared – shared with the Kere, scions of Moros, bringer of death through violence and disease. Is it that simple, that these gold coins are the cause in the disruption of the warp and weave measured and spun out by the Moirai? For something is badly wrong in the world, and Cacy and her family are right in the center of the widening gyre.

But they stand not alone. For when Cacy meets Eli and Galena Margolis, what she understood as right takes a sudden turn into shocking – and her life, and her jobs, will never be the same. Nor, possibly, will the existence of the very Fates.

Jobs? Well, yes. For while Cacy could hold a white glove position in her family company, Psychopomps Incorporated, she chooses instead to become an EMT in Boston. Which doesn’t sound all that bad – except for the fact that The Great Flood of 2049 has placed Boston mostly underwater now, massive canals and dams the only thing between the populace and total inundation. Being underwater is bad. Really bad, as disease organisms make the water deadly, and canal pirates make life for most a living hell. Poor to no police or fire protection, minimal power, and the aforementioned pirates make Boston a dangerous place to be. But the fact that it is actually one of the safest cities still extant proves just how bad the rest of the world must be. Running water? He’d never actually seen such a thing. Clean water was like gold in Pittsburgh, and carefully rationed. Eli and Galena are from “The West” – better known as Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh – desert lands. Is Pittsburgh truly the farthest reaches of the US? Is it all a barren desert past Pittsburgh? Or is the country past that desert wasteland, a land of cactus and sand, simply gone – subsumed by rising waters?

So. Two tales here, in this wonderful, wonderful book. On the one hand, a tale as old as life, and death, itself – Eli, Galena, Cacy and her family will find their lives woven together, in a race against time and murder – and possibly to save the tapestry upon the loom – the divine machine that churned out the endless fabric of life. The Fates themselves cannot hold the centre – the warp and weave is failing. Are Eli and Galena the answer? Or will Atropos rule over all?

The second story is just as poignant in its own way – and more terrifying. It is simple to see the story, wrapped within the story, as flooding and desertification take over the world, climate change wiping a brutal hand over what humans have built. Voltaire had it right when he said, “Men argue. Nature acts”. We laugh at the dragon, as Tolkien pointed out. While he was talking of real dragons, we laugh at the dragon of the changes we have wrought upon the world, and in our blindness, we determine our own fate.

This MARVELOUS book is the first in the Servants of Fate series. Book two, Claimed, is waiting for me on my reader and I can hardly wait to get started. I received Marked from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review, but no matter what, I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Life, death, betrayal, horror, romance – it’s all here, and all marvelously written. I highly recommend the series. I also intend to pick up Ms. Fine’s previous series, Guards of the Shadowlands. Sarah is already on my auto purchase list.

If you like my reviews, please mark “yes” at Amazon under “is this review helpful?” It helps my Authors garner more attention!

They Are Watching What You Read . . .

Borrowed from: Security Wars: Inside the Military’s Big, Messy Fight With Palantir, the Company They Pay to Spy on You Online

Warning: Rant Alert! 😉

Maria at Bear Mountain Books posted an article that caught my attention, and I think it is information that, if you haven’t read it already, you really should.

Keeping Tabs on Best-Seller Books and Reading Habits

The article points out something that I didn’t know – and which honestly gives me the “Creeping Willies” – you are being tracked, just like a terrorist or a criminal wearing an ankle bracelet.

e-book retailers are now able to tell which books we’ve finished or not finished, how fast we have read them, and precisely where we snapped shut the cover of our e-books and moved on to something else. – New York Review of Books –They’re Watching You Read by Francine Prose.

Photo courtesy of howtogeek.com

I did find it funny that many of the “It” books (Gone Girl is used as an example) may be purchased, but whether they are finished or not – well, let’s say ‘not’ is the most usual answer. And tracking only e-books means that they really don’t know how many people who purchase paper versions actually read the book. With Gone Girl, the third most purchased book at Kobo, only 46 percent of the readers who purchased the book made it to the end. Fifty Shades of Gray? Only 48 percent could stomach it all the way through. The most popular French book, in terms of sales, shows “Le Suicide Français,” may have been a runaway hit in terms of sales, but just 7 percent of Kobo’s French readers made it through the book’s conclusion.

Now, maybe people are putting the books down and coming back later – but it is statistically unlikely that these large numbers will follow that pattern. More likely? People are buying the books because they are “trendy” – then dropping them when they find them unpalatable, or simply boring. Or, in the case of FSoG, gross, poorly written, and juvenile. Anyway! Off the point.

Found on blippitt.com

 

There are several things that bother me. As a reader – keep your big ol’ nose out of my reading habits!!! I bought the bloody book, you shouldn’t be able to track when, where, and how I read it – or if I finish it. That is my business!!! It’s not like I am reading “Bomb Making For Dummies” or “How To Take Over The World In Three Easy Steps”. And people like Amazon and Kobo, etc., have no business knowing that I occasionally go on Paranormal Romance binges! (Uh, did I just admit that?) If I want you to know I read all the Eve Langlais Freakin’ Shifter and Kodiak Point books, one after the other, in order, over a 48-hour period, that’s my business. Hey, I was depressed, whadda ya’ want?! I just read three hard-hitting thrillers as well, with several more on my list, so get over it.

For those of you who are authors? As Prose points out in her article:

(She) imagined a not-too-distant future in which “writers (and their editors) could soon be facing meetings in which the marketing department informs them that 82 percent of readers lost interest in their memoir on page 272. And if they want to be published in the future, whatever happens on that page should never be repeated.”

So. That sounds suspiciously like what you will be allowed to write will be forced to conform to statistical marketing patterns rather than what you want to write. And as Deborah Jay said in a comment on my review of Tibetan Cross by Mike Bond:

I guess he writes what he enjoys over what might appeal to the widest market.

Agreed. However, there is a deeper meaning here. If Mike Bond wants to write for himself, to market to a particular audience, even if that audience is limited – who should have the right to tell him no, he can’t do that??? What right does big business have to tell you what you can and cannot write? I may not have been happy with aspects of his books, and yes, I skim quite a bit, but I read the parts that interest me, that entertain me – and isn’t that MY right?

Hey, I own the book, leave me the hell alone!

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