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Review: Windwalker By Natasha Mostert

Through me you pass into the city of woe:
Through me you pass into eternal pain:
Through me among the people lost for aye.
Justice the founder of my fabric moved:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.
Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I shall endure.
All hope abandon, ye who enter here.
-Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.
William Blake – The Everlasting Gospel

 

 windwalkerHaunting and elegant. I have head Ms. Mostert’s works described this way before, by other reviewers. This, and so very much more, is the work of Natasha Mostert. For she has a voice that is deeply evocative, an exceptional, mystical writing style. Natasha’s turn of prose is both otherworldly and sensual, a voice that sends chills down my spine and reaches into my soul, making a home for itself in the sweet, dark recesses of my existence. Her writing comes to mind over and over, in the dark of night or the bright light of day, a paean to her brilliant style, as her ability to paint rich, intriguing portraits with words which steal into my awareness in the most common of moments. Words which bring me to my knees, to weep and sigh, to long deeply and without respite.

Kepler’s Bay. A remote and forbidding town in a remote and forbidding land, bitter and forlorn. Perched on the razor edge between the Namib and the sea, Kepler’s Bay clings to the edge of the world with barely restrained ferocity, much as do the creatures of the great desert upon which it backs. Kepler’s Bay. The melancholy call of the soo-oop-wa, the never-ending wind, maddens, takes piecemeal grains of the soul, eventually leaving behind naught but a dry, desiccated husk – a body walking with no spark within.

The Namib, oldest desert in the world, ‘The land God made in anger,’ say the San people. But he had always thought that only a god in pain could have imagined a place like this. And from this land of soaring dunes and brutal winds one day appears a wild man, filled with pain, with fever and madness. Madness and passion. Violence and death. Samuel Becket said: “All men are born mad. Some remain so.” And is madness not pain, turned in upon oneself?

Across the desert, in the lush green of the English countryside, a woman arrives. Lost and maddened in her own right, she arrive upon the doorstep of a sad and haunted estate. As she sinks into the stories of this place of madness, fratricide and pain, broken shadows and haunted rooms, one soon cannot truly discern where the house leaves off and the woman begins. Quiet desperation. Ghosts and haunting images through a camera’s lens.

They are so close, and yet so far apart. So very, very far apart. Has it been this way, lives upon lives, sinking into the past? And what of unintended consequences, the vagaries of fate and karma?

Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College

Through our lives, do our souls search? Do they seek desperately, yearning for that which was, which could have been, or which shall never be? And is evil merely the absence of good, demons playing bones with our lives?

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. – Khalil Gibran

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Balen All rights reserved.

How many paths must we walk, how many lives to be lived? How long must we suffer before paths may cross, before we might know peace? Do our souls wander alone, searching beyond ourselves for knowledge, deep in the rending silence of the night? A photography of insanity may be a shard of light. Questions and blood and dreams of deaths long past, pain and ancient desire. All are spread before us between these pages. Allow her words to reel you in, to touch and tease, sooth and savage by turns. To think. To dream. To sorrow.

To hope.

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. It touched me more deeply than any of her works yet have – and those have been absolutely brilliant. I hate reviews that begin with “If you like the works of” to be honest, but if the interspersed quotes touch your soul, I strongly, very strongly, encourage you to read Windwalker. And then her other works as well. I don’t believe, once you have read this one, that you will be able to resist.

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Review: Lost In New Falls: Lost In Love #1 By Cherie Marks

newfakksSometimes, one needs a happily-ever-after, and from the beginning of Lost in New Falls you know you are going to get one. But the path to the end in this particular book is funny, charming and also deeply sad, but with a thread of hope and caring through it all.

Kate Delaney is the character many of us can identify with great ease from our own childhood experiences. The ‘friendly fat girl’ all through school in New Falls, Tennessee she and her brother Reese find themselves in the care of their beloved grandfather when their parents are killed in an accident. Tagging along after Reese and his best friend, Quentin Taylor, Kate spends her childhood and teen years being just one of the boys. When her growing attraction to Quentin leads to heartbreak, her path takes her to Hollywood, where she ghostwrites, writes for the occasional television show, and is now climbing her way to success. With a famous producer now wanting her newest script, this should be the happiest time of her life. However, her beloved grandfather is close to death, and she must return to Tennessee to be with him in his final days. Of course, with email, she can still finish her script in the cabin her grandfather once called home. Oops.

Returning to the cabin after a visit to her grandfather in the hospital, Kate discovers that her cabin has been robbed, her laptop, flash drive backup gone, and even her underwear drawer cleaned out. What happens next is funny in a mildly slapstick way as Kate attempts to ship off the rough paper copy of her work to her agent, only to wind up in a game of pass-the-football with her treasured screenplay. Everyone in town seems to be reading her work, but whether it gets to her agent is another question.

Cherie Marks characters are funny and charming, thought the whole “Hillbilly Red Neck” situation comes into play, but not in a grating way. The chase for the burglar is well done, and quite realistic overall, and the thief was a shocker – funny as all get out in the end, though the acts weren’t themselves funny at all.

This is a great summer read. I accepted the book as I admire Cherie Marks, a breast cancer survivor like myself. Now, I am glad I did simply because I enjoyed the book and want to read more of her work.

I receive this book in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Get The Book:

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About The Author:

It all started with an old fashioned typewriter. When my family brought it home, all those stories and characters rolling around in my head could finally get out. The press and click of the keys satisfied in their own right, but when I pulled out a finished page, I knew this was for me. Since then, I’ve graduated to a laptop, but the stories still find a way out.
I’m a breast cancer survivor, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and from the very beginning—a storyteller. Always a hint humorous and honest to a fault, I love to make people laugh and smile. My goal in life is to achieve tact and stop procrastinating. The battle wages on.

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Yippee! Beta Reading Book Three – The Pierced Series by J. C. Mells

Perfect Cover 2
The cover for “Perfect” – Book three of the J. C. Mells “Pierced” series!

Just finished the Beta and, OMFG!!! J. C. does it again – another brilliant story full of pain and hate, love and understanding and a tremendous cast of characters. Watch here – I will let you know as soon as I know when it is coming out – and you have to read this book! Of course, if you haven’t read the first ones, you have to read those too- – – these are too good to miss!

Thanks, J. C. Mells!!!

 

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”

Never have these words seemed more true to Pierce as she deals with the aftermath of Salt Lake City. She and Lucas can’t seem to stay apart from each other for very long without the night panics happening again – but being together is almost as torturous. Will her past ever allow her to be intimate with him? Can she afford to let her guard down and allow herself to be happy? She’s still suffering from the post-traumatic stress of what happened to her the last time she did that.

But on the plus side, their little town of Nowhere is coming along in leaps and bounds. So much so, that it has appeared on the radar of the wolf community. Or at least Pierce’s presence has.

Suddenly it seems like Nowhere is THE place to be these days..

pierce
Who is Pierce?

______________________________

Keep your eyes open – I will post when the book is published!

Top 5 Regrets People Have on their Deathbed

This article is taken from Care2.com and was written by . As anyone who knows me, or has read my blog knows, I am a breast cancer survivor who barely made it through my treatments. Between the ACT Chemotherapy, the high dose radiation, losing sixty pounds, and basically wanting very much to die, it wasn’t a fun trip. During the times I was awake and able to think, I thought a lot about what I had lost during my life, simply because I had believed what others said about me and my life. When I came across this article today in my regular Care2 email, I felt it touch me deeply. Hopefully, it will make my readers think about their own pain and loss, and what they can put onto their bucket lists to make their lives better, and more fulfilled

Thank you to Care2, and to Erica Sofrina, for this reminder of what there is to live for, and to lose, in this life. I have a funny photo of me as I was coming out of chemo, all puffed up from steroids, around here somewhere, but I can’t find it – ah well, I would be totally embarrassed anyway if I showed it to you – so just know that I look like something the dogs drug up the cats wouldn’t have! LOL 

By Erica Sofrina, Courtesy of Care2.com:

I have always felt that if people could somehow be reminded of their death every day, they might live their lives quite differently. I don’t mean this in a morose way, but death is inevitable and yet some thing we often don’t think about.

I have always had a strange fear of having regret at the end of my life — regret from things I did as well as didn’t do. That is why I was fascinated to find this book by Bonnie Ware entitled the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying. Bonnie Ware worked in palliative care as a hospice nurse — which generally entails working with patients who have gone home to die. She spends the last three to twelve weeks with people at this most vulnerable time.

When she questioned them about any regrets they might have had or anything they would do differently, she found common themes which I found quite fascinating.

The most common of all was:

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the one others expected of them. Most had not honored even half of their dreams. She found that they went to their death realizing that this was a choice they had made, and they deeply regretted having never really lived their dreams, or even part of them. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “most people go their graves with their music still in them.”

2. I wish that I hadn’t worked so hard. This came from many male patients she had nursed. They regretted missing their children growing up and the companionship of their spouse or partner. She primarily worked with elderly men because this generation didn’t have as many women who were breadwinners. All of the men deeply regretted spending so much time “on the treadmill” of work and giving in to the drive to get ahead. As I suspected, no one ever said on their death bed, “I only wish I had worked harder.”

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings. Many had repressed their own feelings to keep the peace, either with a spouse or family members. As a result, they settled for a mediocre life and didn’t realize their own potential. She said many had developed illnesses related to carrying the resentment and bitterness for so many years.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. They would realize, too late, the importance of close friendships and in the last stages of life didn’t have the time to track them down to tell them how sorry they were. They were caught up in their own lives and let important friendships slip and realized too late how deeply they regretted this. She observed that love and relationships was ultimately the only thing that mattered to all of her patients in the end.

5. I wish I had let myself be happier. She said this was surprisingly common and that many did not realize that happiness is a choice they could have made all along. Because of their fear of change, they pretended to themselves and others that they were content. Deep inside they longed to really belly laugh and be silly and not care what others thought. On their deathbed, what others thought was not important.

Wisdom is taking what others have learned from the trenches and integrating it into our own lives. I think the most powerful lesson I gleaned from this is that we have a choice. We may want to believe we are victims, but in the end we are only fooling ourselves. We can consciously choose happiness, to be a better friend, to spend more time with loved ones and to work less. Choosing these things is not easy. It might mean forgoing a raise or a promotion at work, but in the end, I don’t believe she reported anyone saying I just wish that I worked more and spent less time with loved ones.

We may not be able to choose the circumstances that lead to our physical death, but the choices we make during the course of our lives will inform the degree of psychological peace we experience at this final juncture.

Bonnie Ware has released a full-length book, which is a memoir of her own life and how she was transformed when she worked as a hospice nurse. The book is available from her website and major online bookstores and is called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.

Erica Sofrina is a motivational speaker, teacher and author and Life Coach. Find out more at www.ericasofrina.com

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/top-5-regrets-people-have-on-their-deathbed.html#ixzz2qVBvk5KR

Review: SEALed with a Kiss

sealed
Meh. Would have been better if it was just Pickett and Tyler.
2.5 stars. Kinda.

First off, I wanted to like this book more than I wound up doing. The idea of the story was good. SEALS are different than regular humans, almost supermen in a way. However, they are also very self centered, focused, and self-involved. For very good and understandable reasons, of course. I always love a story where they are put forward in a good light, with understanding of who and what they are and how important it is that they aren’t people to be ‘changed’ but rather to be accepted. Not that they are prefect, by a long shot, but certainly necessary to the world as it is today.

I will admit that part of me completely understood Jax. He came from a background of wealth, but also of neglect, and lost his only friend young, a friend whose family had been there for him when no one else was. However, for most of the book, I would have been just as happy to hit him over the head with a brick. And still would be happy to do so in a way.

Jax went into a marriage for the most shallow of reasons – a leggy, shallow female who appealed to his sex drive but whom he had absolutely no sense of connection to other than what happened in the bedroom. And, as with lust, that faded even more quickly than any sort of connection. Within a year the wife has had a child and left him, only to pass away within four years, leaving their son with his grandmother. In some cases, being with a grandmother is the perfect solution, and as Jax really doesn’t care to be a parent anyway, well, heck, that works, right? Only his Commander’s insistence sends Jax to North Carolina to spend time with a boy he apparently doesn’t want or need in his life. His only point to spending time with his son is to get there, get the kid out of his life, and get on with being a SEAL.

Of course, in true ‘romance novel’ style, he comes to learn that he really does want the boy in his life, but NOT if it interferes with his SEAL life. So, he fully intends to send the boy back to his grandmother, and, this is where he really ticks me off – even though he knows full well that the grandmother is a drunk who is cruel to the boy at every opportunity. That doesn’t matter as much to him as getting back to his “real” life. Bzzz! Can we all say ‘self-centred jerk”?

Yes, it all works out in the end, and if it weren’t for Tyler, the son, and the fact that I really liked Pickett as much as I did, well. Let’s just say the book would be rolling around in the 1-star galaxy. Pickett, the female lead, is soft and warmhearted, but also strong and in control of her own life, even though she has allowed her family to convince her she is not up to the ‘quality’ of their particularly stylish family. I got her, and liked and admired her. Tyler came to the story withdrawn and in incredible pain, with a dead mother, a vituperate grandmother, and a father who looks at him as just another soldier, expected to snap to and behave as any other soldier under his command while they were together. And of course, as he only planned to spend the required 30-days with his son, he couldn’t wait to get it over with so he could get back to SEAL life and forget his responsibilities as a parent. It was deeply painful to watch their interactions during the first half of the book, even when Pickett, the child and family counselor, was doing her level best to show him what a complete and total screw up he was as a parent… gently, of course.

There were a lot of other things that bothered me about the book, technical issues that I doubt anyone would notice but me. “Tyler’s old DOD 1332.30” . . . hum…. The 1332.30 is for the administrative separation of commissioned officers of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corps for substandard performance of duty, an act or acts of misconduct, moral or professional dereliction, in the interest of national security, and for the discharge of regular commissioned officers with less than 5 years active commissioned service in certain circumstances.” Hummmm again. So, his Commander had his “old 1332.30” on his desk? A 1332.30 was already previously filed, but Jax is now command personnel, even thought he was previously kicked out of the military for dereliction of some sort? Well, he was certainly derelict in his duties as a father, but that is neither here nor there. It drives me round the bend when authors try to be all knowledgeable about what they are writing about – and even though they quote their “sources” they screw up so badly.

Additionally, I am always disappointed when authors don’t take advantage of beta readers and editors in order to ascertain that their books are error free. Though not as bad as some of the books I have recently read (or, should I say, tried to read) the book needs a good cleaning up of missing and misused words and spelling. Disappointing.

Overall, the Jax character was a bit too much on the selfish side, even for a SEAL, to not irritate me beyond any ability to come to like him in the end. Actually, I would have liked the book better without the Jax character in it. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a romance per-se so would lose a large part of it’s audience, but if the author had made it a story of Pickett taking in a parentless child and the development of the two of them as a family, I think this could have easily been at least four, if not five, stars.

Review: The Christmas Wish By Katy Regnery

A sex symbol becomes a thing…. I just hate to be a thing. – Marilyn Monroe, Ms. magazine, p. 40 (August 1972).

The kind see kindness; the wise see wisdom. – Anonymous

Cover_ChristmasWish
Click for Katy’s Goodreads site.

The Christmas Wish is a short story, only 15K words, but the impact of those 15K words is tremendous. Books seldom make me cry cleansing tears, but this little story did.

Lucas Flynn is an ex-con, just out of prison and trying to rebuild his life. Tess Branson is a waitress at the cafe where Lucas works. Tess is sweet and compassionate, with a heart as big as Montana, though people in Gardiner treat her like trash. Lucas is carrying a burden that no man should ever carry, a burden of pain and loss and loneliness.

With Christmas only days away, is it possible that a simple wish upon a star could change both their lives?

Highly recommended!

I received a copy of this story from the author. This fact does not influence my review.

Review: Pinked – J. C. Mells

PINKED BC3Take a pinch of Othello, throw in a heaping handful of Mildred Pierce and a big splash of Jack Kerouack. Serve with a blast of What It’s Like by Everlast. Stir well and serve with a side of desperate hope. Just read it.  – Me.

These were my final words in my review of Pierced the first volume in J. C. Mells Pierced series. I raved and carried on about Pierced – it’s depth, storyline, amazing characters and creative twists. I loved it, and I hope you got a chance to love it too.

The second volume of the series, Pinked is out now, and it does not disappoint.  J. C. reaches deep in Pinked, expanding upon an already fascinating character, reaching deeper into her psyche, and twisting her life beyond anything she ever imagined it could be.  Pinked shows yet again that, though she may have lived through horrifying perversions, she still has an ability to not only survive, but to thrive in circumstances that would warp a weaker person’s soul.

Things are moving fast for Pierce, in ways she never would have expected. Life, family, tragedy, its all here with a vengeance.  As if life wasn’t hard enough for Pierce, even her DNA has changed, as Lucas has been forced to change her in order to save her life. Now, Lucas looks back at what led up to Pierce’s change, and what it means not only for Pierce, but for himself and the rest of his extended family. Can Lucas learn to get past his self-hatred, his fear of his wolf and the need of those around him for him to step up and accept his place as Alpha?

The story cranks up fast, and blasts into a race against time. Action, adventure, mystery, fantasy, suspense, it is all here. Just as Pierced was, Pinked is wonderful and complete, with a raw brutality that sucks in the reader, keeping you on the edge of your seat and drawing you into a world so very like our own, and yet so very strange.  Once again, you are in for a book of depth and character I haven’t seen since, well, since Pierced!

Highly recommended with a bullet!

Read for Review: Casting Shadows Everywhere – L.T. Vargus

casting shadows
Click book cover to order book.

Casting Shadows Everywhere

L.T. Vargus
5 STAR Review

My best friend in college was a Dead Head. You know, Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, tie-dye, cool music, and dope. Lots and lots of dope.

My friend was way into acid. Not me, I couldn’t give up control like that, and besides, someone had to drive, right? And grass just made me sick at my stomach, so no pain. However, my friend told me about her “trips.” It was “trippy” listening to her, to say the least.

“Why,” you ask, “are getting into this? Is this a book about the Grateful Dead and acid trips?”

Well, no. But this powerful, horrifying book took me to a place in my mind that must be very like those acid trips. Weird, lost, surreal . . . and deeply, deeply moved by the experience.

Through the journal of a 15-year-old, we take a weird journey through what it means to be 15, powerless and alone. How easy it is to be swayed, to be taught by a 24-year-old sociopath who happens to be your cousin, that “There ain’t no magic power that makes right and wrong have real meanin’ is all.” It is so easy, when you are a beta, to fall sway to the alpha, especially when the school bullies become involved. To stare down that dark path, the one that leads to “Isn’t that the natural urge here? To find a way to grind the sadistic kid’s head into the ground so he can see what it feels like?”

This book moved me, pained me, in so many ways. It brought up memories best forgotten, pain, heartbreak. But mostly, it opened me up with the wisdom and compassion shown by the author. Many issues were touched on. The aforementioned bullying, of course. But also expectations, loss, grief, and how easy is is to turn an inherently good person to the dark.

Looking back on my review, it seems that I didn’t like the book. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This book touched me, inspired me, and drew me in like nothing else I have read in a very long time. I highly recommend it for what it represented to me. A walk into the dark. And a view of the light at the end of the forest.

_____________________

This book was provided to me by the author in return for a realistic review. All opinions are my own and are not predicated on receipt of the book by the author.

 

A Breathtaking View

beauty caveBreathtaking.
I see myself, standing on that rock,
breathing the ancient air,
while the gentle lap of water call out to me,
sharp with the tang of mineral and darkness.

I breath,
and close my eyes,
listening to the voices of the ancient,
whispering on the wind.

My soul clears.

————-

I am most certainly not a poet, so please don’t laugh too hard. To tell you the truth, I feel rather odd posting this, but I simply have to. I came upon this photo from National Geographic and it called out to me. It is so amazingly beautiful. When I close my eyes, I can almost smell the water, the cold cave walls, the greenery. I want to be there, to touch the stone, to drink the water and to simply lie back and feel the breath of the Earth under my back.

Though I have no idea where this is, I want to be there. The need is almost visceral – a sharp pain that takes away my breath. Have I been there before, in another life, sitting still in the darkness, as twilight descends and the night creatures wake from their sleep?

So much beauty in the world. And we, ant-like humans, scurrying about our days, foraging for food, for shelter, for sex. We are blind. Blind to the beauty all around us, consuming and consuming until naught else is left.

I want to know this place. To walk its dark corners, to breath its air and feel its rocky bones. To walk that ancient spot, to move into that silence. To become what I never was. To throw off the pain, the sorrow. To simply be.

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