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Published! Night Without Stars: Supergirls 2

Henrietta can choose when to remember and when to forget, when to feel, and when to let go. To survive, you must become.

 25460423After Jenn escapes the Pig’s house of horrors, she wanders the countryside with May, her dead sister’s ghost, until a rogue priest finds her and tucks her away in his uncle’s deserted cabin.

Jenn cares for Tina and Tony, children rescued from the sex trade. Together they find the peace she and May had always dreamed of. But her dark past catches up with her, and it has a helluva big knife.

She turns to the priest for help, but he has a dark past of his own, and even darker enemies. Together they have a decision to make. Fight or run?

“I’m just asking you to accept that there are some people who will go to extraordinary lengths to cover up the facts that they are abusing children.
What words are there to describe what happened to me, what was done to me? Some call it ritual abuse, others call it organised abuse. There are those that call it satanic. I’ve heard all the phrases, not just in relation to me, but also with regard to those I work with and try to help. Do you know what I think? It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, it doesn’t matter what label you put on it. It is abuse, pure and simple. It is adults abusing children. It is adults deciding – actually making a conscious decision, a conscious choices that what they want, what they convince themselves they need, is more important than anything else; certainly more important than the safety or feelings or sanity of a child.” – Laurie Matthew, Groomed: An Uncle Who Went Too Far, a Mother Who Didn’t Care, a Little Girl Who Waited for Justice


 

22742696October 31 of last year I reviewed Supergirls by Mav Skye. You can click the title to read the review.

At that time, I quoted the following:

Jason Michel, in Pulp Metal Magazine said of Mav Skye’s Supergirls: . . . (It) is grounded in the mundane reality of poverty, yet as it unfolds becomes an increasingly surreal and cinematic experience; as if Sam Peckinpah or Tarantino had directed the girls from Scooby Doo, who were all grown up and had taken some real bad life choices.

This second installment ramps up the surreal, cinematic experience to eleven, then breaks off the dial.

Can you handle the pain?  If you read and loved Supergirls, number two cranks up the story to 80’s GG Allin levels.
Prepare for the REAL, Baby!
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Review (And A Screaming Rant) For “From Scratch”

For me, I always wonder what’s worse: an emotional betrayal or a physical betrayal? That’s a really tough call. – Hilarie Burton

Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That’s really where failure comes. – Tom Cochrane

It’s particularly hard to take being stabbed in the back close to home. There’s always a feeling of betrayal when people of your own group oppose you. – Catharine MacKinnon

 

I have begun to notice a disturbing trend in romance novels lately. For example, let us examine the case of Lillie and Nick. Totally devoted to one another since Lillie was six. Friends, playmates, companions. Then high school lovers. Then totally devoted live-in fiancées. Then, thing turn bad.

Observe.

Every night, after her own day of university classes and working long hours on her feet in her family café, she waits for his return from his residency shift at Baylor Medical, only to be met with cold indifference.

“Maye that’s the danger in loving someone too much: you’re so blinded by it that you can’t see what’s already over until one side of the bed is empty and cold.”

Constant cold, sifting into her body, leaching away her soul. Her beloved friend, confidant, companion, lover, no longer cares for her. The man she knew no longer lives in this body. No longer talks with her.

Everything’s fine. Or, If I wanted to talk about it, I’d say so. Or his personal favorite, Leave it alone, Lillie.

And then one day, she learns something terrible. Something heartbreaking and devastating about her own family. He adores her father, Jackson, who took the place of the father he never had. Surely he will talk with her, be once again the friend and devoted companion she has known all those years. They can find a way to work through this, right? Right? But he doesn’t come home, not until the wee small hours, long after his shift is done. Where has he been? Out. The age-old response of the cheat, the drunk – or the person who doesn’t love you enough to want to come home any longer, and just doesn’t have the guts to tell you it’s over.

But still, she tries to reach out to him, to draw her back to him. But.

“I don’t have the energy to do this right now.” “Save it … You spend your days serving pie to people in a diner, so excuse me if I don’t see why this conversation can’t wait…”

He grabbed the plate off the coffee table and threw it against the wall.

Great. The introduction to physical violence, as well as emotional.

Devastated, scorned by the man she loves with her whole heart, by her own family and those she thought to be friends, she packs. Packs, and leaves for the airport. She takes the first plane out, Chicago, just because, “they are boarding now, you can make it if you hurry.” For five years, she has no one to lean on, no one to hold her when she cries, to help her through her pain or help her to find her laughter again. Finally, she is successful, on a partner track with her firm, and has found a kind, considerate, gentle lover. He isn’t Nick, but he is loving, open, kind – and he is safe. Safe from the pain, the upheaval, the not knowing what is in his heart and mind, what cruelty will pour from his mouth at any moment. No icy silences. No nights of returning long hours after his shift is done with no explanation, no words. She is content. Maybe not blissfully, passionately happy. But content. Something she hasn’t been in a very long time.

Then, her father, Jackson, sends a text message, and she finds herself back in Dallas, terrified for his health and safety. But, funny old thing that. The text was apparently a lie – a lie designed to bring her back to Dallas, to her old life, no matter her career, her coming promotion to partner in the most prestigious firm in Chicago, her life, her new relationship – no matter the agony of coming back to friends and acquaintances who blame her for leaving. Blame her for “giving up.” Well, of course. When one leaves, the other can act in any manner, say anything, and the one who left? Well.

Lillie comes back to disdain and blame. To cruelty and lies, betrayal and poisoned tongues couched in “Why Suuugar… we know what’s best for you, Bless Your Heart!, and a constant chorus of, “It’s your fault”What did you do to fix it?” “You gave up on him, he didn’t give up on you.” You weren’t patient enough. You weren’t giving enough. You weren’t understanding enough. You weren’t you weren’t you weren’t… And of course, “It’s about you, your life, the choices you’re making. Jackson (and everyone else, supposedly) only wants what’s best for you.”

Well, what everyone ELSE thinks is “best for you.”

Back to the land where women like Sullivan Grace Hasell reside – “better known as Ms. Bless Your Heart for her uncanny ability to insult the sin out of someone but mask it as a compliment swathed in a little southern flair.” And a whole lot of bullying. For your own good, of course. . .

It’s. All. Her. Fault. She left. She didn’t try hard enough. She wasn’t forgiving enough. She wasn’t patient enough. She wasn’t she wasn’t she wasn’t – SHE is to blame, it is all on her, all her fault, and poor little Nick suffered oh, so much after she so cruelly walked out on him without a backwards glance and made herself a new life, and sin of sins, learned to be happy!

Well, Bless Your Heart!

And thus, the crux. All. Her. Fault. Her very soul is being sucked from her body by a man who shows her every day, and in every way, he cares nothing about her, considers her a burden, a lesser being, a horrible mistake made by a child that a man suddenly realizes is just that – a mistake – one he doesn’t even care about enough to tell to run back home to her father as he doesn’t want her any more. Was she supposed to reside forever upon this black and endless plain of existence, devoid of love, of kindness, of warmth? Was she supposed to stay, until and after the thrown crockery became thrown punches?

Lillie is one of the bravest people I have read. She stood up, pulled up her big girl panties, and took her broken heart and shattered life and became someone completely new – someone who would not ever let herself be hurt like that again. But she still returns to find that SHE is the one to blame for “Poor Nick – your betrayal, your running away, your cowardice, broke the man, Bless Your Heart!” And the worst part? She starts to believe it. To believe that she is everything that the people who should love and support her say she is. And that is just Wrong.

Things changed while she was gone – but instead of open, honest interaction she is faced on every side by lies, both outright and by omission. While everyone claims to care for her, no one is willing to give her respect, to accept that there was not only one side to the story. That just possibly, Lillie had to save herself when she could no longer save them.

Give me a fucking break. In the words of mighty Hamlet, “therein lies the rub.” It is the woman’s fault – no matter the situation. No matter if she can no longer see the way across the night dark plains, the light has faded, and the beasts are upon her. It. Is. Her. Fault.

REALLY?!?!?!

Parts of From Scratch are funny, touching, and positive. But the overall feel of encouraging women to return to a 1950’s mindset where emotional and physical abuse are not only commonplace but normal, where women are expected to conform to a backward society’s mores, no matter the pain to herself, is terrifying.

I received this book in return for a realistic review. I wouldn’t normally be so brutal, but this book sends terrible, horrible, very not good messages about a woman’s place in society and in personal relationships – about how it is acceptable to blame women for wrongs brought on by their partners, their families, their friends. About how said family and friends are perfectly justified in blaming, lying, withholding life and death information. About punishing the victim. This could have been a funny, wise, thoughtful book – instead, it comes across as a call to returning women to the dark ages of a lack of social justice and emotional disregard. Something I am seeing a bit too much in today’s romance novels.

 

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.

Review: Shaman Rises – The Final Volume Of The Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy

shamanrises
I don’t really like the white shirt, it washes her out, but the book itself? AWESOME!!! PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 24, 2014!! PREORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

The stories that I want to tell, especially as a director, don’t necessarily have a perfect ending because, the older you get, the more you appreciate a good day versus a happy ending. You understand that life continues on the next day; the reality of things is what happens tomorrow. – Drew Barrymore

I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear… that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived. – Harold Kushner

I don’t know whether to smile at another great Joanne Walker book by C. E. Murphy, or to cry like a baby because this is the end. The last volume in this amazing series. And amazing it is. Ms. Murphy created in Joanne Walker, born Siobhan Walkingstick, one of the most interesting, strong and non-stupid heroines of all time.

Beginning back in 2005, we first met Joanne, a mechanic for the Seattle Police Department, whose life was suddenly turned on its head. Flying back from Ireland, where she has just buried her mother, Jo looks down from her window – to see a young woman fleeing across the parking lot of a church, and a man with a wicked looking knife. Jumping into a cab with a 70-odd year old cab driver, Gary, Joanne tracks the church, finds the woman – and suddenly finds that she has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers in order to save the world from Cernunnos and the Wild Hunt.

What followed was one of those series that I simply couldn’t put down – that I made a point of re-reading every single volume before the next came out. Well, re-listening, as Gabra Zackman (well, Christine Carroll did the first volume) literally nailed the character and voice of Joann, a smart but often fragile heroine, strong, hardheaded, and more than willing to do the hard things to protect her friends and her city. With her best friend Gary, a 70-odd year old taxi driver, and a diverse group of magical and non-magical friends, the series has held my heart for the last ten years.

In this, the final volume, all the stories of the previous books come together, the warp and weave of an immaculate tapestry, story lines resolved, lives saved and lost, with each character’s part reaching full resolution, whether in joy or in heartrending pain. Characters we have loved throughout the series are brought back to the story line in order to fulfill their destinies and do their part to save a world threatened by their oldest and most vicious enemy, The Master a monster of darkness, death and spite, intent on blackening all goodness in the world. And it is Joanne’s job, with the help of her friends, to stop the blackness descending upon the world.

As the book blurb states, and which means more than I can say:

Lives will be lost as the repercussions of all Joanne’s final transformation into her full Shamanic abilities come to her doorstep. Before the end, she’ll mourn, rejoice—and surrender everything for the hope of the world’s survival. She’ll be a warrior and a healer. Because she is finally a Shaman Rising.

I can’t stress enough how much I will miss Joanne Walker. She has brought me many hours of joy over the last several years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t go back over and again to read her tale. If you haven’t read the series before, start at the first, and work your way through. If you love stupendous, well-realized character development, meticulous world building, and stories which will make you laugh, cry, suffer, and generally run through the gamut of human emotions with the heroine and her friends, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Goodbye, Joanne. I will think of you often, and with great regard.

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Note: I received my copy of Shaman Rises from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I have “honestly” loved this series from its inception, and will miss the exploits of Joanne and her friends more than I can say.

 

A Thought Provoking Video To Remind Us Of The Sacrifice Our Military Makes For Us

This video is from The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF). I will warn you that it is heartrending, both horrifying and hopeful at the same time. At Easter time, we should give a thought to the sacrifice of our military men and women, and how much they suffer for us. And exactly why they are suffering. Is it truly for the safety and security of our people? Or are they simply cogs in the machine that cranks out money for corporations and governments? Are our attacks to protect us, or to assure our oil supplies? Whatever it may be, THANK YOU to The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF) for this amazing commercial.

 

And more videos about the healing of dogs for returning warriors with PTSD

 

 

 

And finally – the dogs give you drugs and prescriptions – but Service Dogs could do SO MUCH! Tell the VA that you support Service Dogs for Returning Veterans!!!!

 

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?

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

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.

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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.

 

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