Saturday, December 28, 2013

Conspiracy Theory: Part 3-Target's Security Nightmare Continues

Target security breach continues to escalate. Yes, right here on my little blog you read about it first. James Martin believed Target was violating his privacy because they zapped his driver's license when checking his age for a wine purchase and then bam! A few days later we all knew that Target compromised its customers' information. At least 40 million admitted customers are in jeopardy of getting scammed by hackers. They say the pin numbers for cash advances are encrypted which supposedly is a good thing. But can't pin numbers be decrypted? Why aren't they talking about the other credit cards that were used? What about all of the information they obtained from scanning other people's driver's licenses? They say the Federal government has stepped in to handle the mess-the Federal Trade Commission to be exact. Interesting choice... Target lured shoppers into signing up for their credit/debit cards by giving 5% discount. It's a small price to pay for everyone's information. Could this be an inside job? Could this be a trial run for quicker and easier ways to gain personal information? Store loyalty cards-credit cards might already be hooked up with the government. Didn't we learn anything about Verizon and Google? Could this story be more than meets the eye? Leave a comment.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Conspiracy Rant Part II: The Plot Thickens with Target...



No, James Martin and I are not psychic.  It was here at dinaraeswritestuff that you read it FIRST-check the posting below!  Target is OUT OF CONTROL!  I retold my friend's story about how they basically wanted his most personal information (zapped his driver's license) when he tried to pay cash for an ordinary bottle of wine.  Two days later Target got busted for a security breach that may lead to identity theft.
Target credit and debit cards were compromised throughout this Christmas season.  Besides the card, add in all of the driver's licenses that were zapped with the scanner and voila-a MAJOR PRIVACY VIOLATION!  A rough estimate counts 10 million customers fell victim to identity fraud.  This is not Target's first security breach.  In 2009 they paid 9.75 million dollar settlement.  Those of you who have shopped at Target and used credit cards or gotten your license zapped I urge you to check your statement and call the credit card company.  May your personal business stay private.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Conspiracy Rant: Big Box Stores Out of Control

A close friend of mine, James Martin, had an experience with Target that makes me want to scream!  To begin with, James is 52 years old, white, Christian, politically Independent, and likes to pay cash for his purchases.
Yesterday James went to the Super Target by his father's house in Streamwood, Illinois on Route 59 to buy a bottle of wine.  The cashier asked him for his I.D.  Although James thought the request was ridiculous, he obliged, figuring the cashier was just doing his job.  James whipped out his driver's license and handed it over.  The cashier took the scanner and zapped the barcode on the back of the license.  
For the record, James had NO intention of writing a check or charging the wine.  That kind of payment option would alter my entire rant.  James wanted to pay in cash.  Once his license was scanned, Target had his name, birthdate, social security, address, and license number stored inside of the cash register/computer. 
Target Sucks the Big Wazoo!

James was very upset and no longer wanted to buy the wine.  He demanded to have his information deleted from the system.  The cashier called over the manager.  Both failed to delete the information they ILLEGALLY (at least in my opinion) obtained.  Staying true to his right to privacy, James verbally fought to have his personal business erased.  He asked the people behind him if they would want their personal information in the Target computer if they were paying with cash.  To his surprise, they didn't seem concerned about compromising their security.  Has all of the people turned into sheeple?
Long story short-James pays with cash in order to maintain his privacy and prevent stores from profiling him. Apparently, his brand of common sense is dissolving in America.  
Did you ever notice that the website you were looking at all of a sudden appears on the side of your emails or Facebook feed?  Did you ever receive a coupon in the mail for a product that you recently charged at a chain retail store?  Why does every store have a store loyalty card that you have to sign up for and scan in order to receive a discount?  I'm sick to death of it.  My wallet is not big enough to carry all of the store cards that I was financially blackmailed into getting.    
Let the Profiling Begin!

Did you know your purchases can be used against you?  Not only can supermarkets sell your information, but can also use it as evidence in court.  Von's Supermarket in California pulled up a man's alcohol purchases to defend themselves against a slip and fall lawsuit.  The case never went to court, but...  Very slippery, dangerous slope we are heading down!
So who is interested in you and what you buy?  The Direct Marketing Association for one.  They are one of the biggest groups that profile your purchases.  They have somehow managed to get around privacy laws with consumer "opt-out" clauses that most consumers don't even know about.
And let's not be naive.  If Target, Direct Marketing, and others can profile you by what you buy, then so can the government.  Although there are laws to prevent this, the government can purchase information from the private sector.  Companies such as Experian and ChoicePoint have multi-million dollar contracts that sell your information to good ol' Uncle Sam.

Think real hard about this. With a couple of key strokes, one can find out your hobbies, your income, your health, your style, your family, your career, your religion, your...EVERYTHING!  Another step towards New World Order?  Love to hear what you think. 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hawk is Back! Blood and Gold Tour by Goddess Fis

Blood and Gold, Book 3 in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series
by Hawk MacKinney
$20 GC for One Lucky Random Comment!


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BLURB:

Blood and Gold, the third book in The Craige Ingram Mystery Series, once again tests the instincts and skills of retired Navy SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram. Lust, greed, body parts and unrestrained wild sex parties are what await Craige Ingram when he leaves the comforts of his South Carolina home to visit his former SEAL buddy, Detective Spinner Krespinak. Set in the Colorado underbelly of a sordid sable and faux glitz ski mecca, Detective Spinner Krespinak suspects drugs have made their way to the snowy playground that is Aspen. An Olympic ski hopeful is brutally murdered, Spinner vanishes, and Craige Ingram is shot as events spin out of control with a Catch-22 no one anticipates.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~




Excerpt
The drive up the narrow mountain rutted road was a risky, hands-on-the-wheel icy slid-and-skid.  With a grim set to his jaws, Spinner didn’t say a word the whole way.  They parked among the jumble of squad cars.  Craige avoided the taped-off areas while Spinner huddled with Loopy.  Silently they paced-off and studied the layout of each room of the mansion…each room except the one where death waited to greet Spinner.  No one except Craige and Loopy knew how Spinner wasn't as detached as he appeared.  Spinner traced and retraced his steps.  Seeing beyond Spinner’s detached veneer of the professional, Craige could read the surly stir of emotions Spinner was struggling to control.
           
Finally…there was nothing left except to face the grizzly business of felony homicide and the dead.  Spinner went back to where Loopy was busy.  As though wanting to avoid seeing what waited in that room, he said, “Any ideas about the time of death?”
           
Loopy said, “Only a rough approximation at this point.  I'd approximate somewhere between eight in the morning and two or three in the afternoon.  We haven’t moved the bodies yet, but from what indications of livor mortis I could see, I’m leaning toward it being earlier.  Central heat was off…fireplace ashes are still warm.  Once we determine algor mortis changes in the body temps, I’ll be able to narrow that some.  We've already picked up thirty to forty different sets of prints.  Could easily be twice that before we finish.  Most so smudged they're no good.  The rancher who lives at the valley turnoff said cars were going back and forth all night.  How it wasn't the first time they had all-night mountaintop blowouts up there.  We bagged used condoms from all over this place—bedrooms, baths, all over the house.  We’ll compare DNA with that of the victims.  See if we get any matches that narrow down any persons of interest.  Looks to be marijuana and freebase by the fireplace and in the breakfast room.  And what is likely Mexican black heroin on the carpet in the den.  Lord only knows what else we'll turn up.  I’ll be surprised if we don’t find Silk or S-K.  There's at least a case of empty aerosol cans, probably for heavy-duty huffing.  We'll see what the lab tells us…hopefully that’ll fill in more details.”
           
Spinner said, “Before Frannie left for Denver last night, Ski came by and borrowed my wheels to get here.  Brought them back about noon.  Christy and the two men had to be alive at the time Ski left.  Depending on road conditions, it takes about an hour to get from here back into town.  The low last night was below zero, but there was no heavy weather—no wind.”  His eyes flashed hurt and anger, a silent reckoning stirring somewhere deep and hidden.  “Ski would party 'till the last minute.”  Spinner hesitated.  “Least, I’d like to think it was that.  I wouldn’t like thinking he'd use me as an alibi.”  The thought of the possibility was a heart-pain that sliced deep into his soul.  “Give me a few minutes before you zip them up.”
           
Loopy nodded. “No hurry.  Take what time you need.”
           
A very still Spinner turned a masque-face back to the bed…emotions churning his features.  A lump knotted his throat.  Looking down at Christy’s lifeless body, the bullet hole a vulgar insult to a death mask of frozen beauty…it seemed somehow otherworldly.  “…never could trust your flighty-canary way of life.”  The niche occupied by carefree fun-loving Christy seemed stark and empty.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

Barbara Casey, President
Barbara Casey Literary Agency



Links:

www.hawkmackinney.net


http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-n-gold-hawk-mackinney/1107229202?ean=9781933300054

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Goddess Fish Presents: Dangerous Waters with CM Michaels

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dangerous Waters
by C M Michaels

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


BLURB:

For Emily Waters, a nature-loving, small-town girl with an overprotective father, heading off to Boston University to study conservation biology is a dream come true—until a chance encounter catapults her into a mythical world she’d do anything to escape.

The latest victim in a rash of abductions near campus, Emily is brutally attacked before being rescued by a powerful new friend. She survives the ordeal, only to find herself held captive and presented with an impossible choice. While preparing for the unimaginable life she must now embrace clues soon emerge that Emily may not be entirely human, and her physical transformation awakens goddess-like powers that her new family cannot begin to explain. Dealing with her human first love, the not-so-platonic relationship with her coven “sister,” and her new vampire sort-of-boyfriend further complicates matters, not to mention being secretly hunted by the psychopaths who attacked her. And as the only known offspring of a once all-powerful race, the climactic battle is only the beginning of her journey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

.
Excerpt:


Fight or flight excerpt

“Would you stop already?” Teresa grumbled, glaring at her ever-pacing brother. “No one’s following us. Relax.”

Travis finished scanning Beacon Street and ducked back into the alleyway. “God damn it! Do you ever listen? I told you we had to cool it for a while. What the hell were you thinking?”

“The bitch spilled her drink on me.”

He sighed and tiredly rubbed his eyes. Arguing with her was like trying to reason with a bratty three-year-old grabbing candy in a grocery checkout line. “So we’re homeless because someone accidentally got diet coke on your shirt?”

“Quit being such a queen,” Teresa said with a huff. “You know Stefan thinks of us as his kids, which is totally weird by the way. All he’ll do is make us listen to his rules again. If you wouldn’t have talked me into running, we’d probably be watching TV by now.”

“If Stefan and Alexander just wanted to talk, they would’ve waited until we got back, not raided our feeding room like a two-man S.W.A.T. team. This is serious, Terr. If they find us, they’re going to kill us.”

For the first time in as long as he could remember, his snarky, narcissistic sister looked vulnerable. She crossed her arms to conceal her jittery hands and looked into his eyes. “So what do we do? I’m not living on the street again, or in the skuzzy-ass hotels we used to stay in.”

Travis placed a comforting hand on his baby sister’s shoulder. “Things aren’t like they used to be, sis. Even you have to admit that Stefan taught us a hell of a lot. Once we get out of town, we can trance a bank manager and get all the money we need. I thought we’d head south—you always wanted to see Orlando.”

Acting as if he hadn’t even spoken, Teresa shrugged off his hand and headed further down the dimly lit alley, veering around overflowing dumpsters and piles of loose garbage before slumping back against the brick wall behind her. “And what about the skank who started all this? We just leave her to her fairy-tale life, sipping wine in her mansion?”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


C.M Michaels grew up in a small town in northern Michigan as the youngest child of a close-knit family of seven. He met his wife, Teresa, while attending Saginaw Valley State University. Together they’ve provided a loving home for several four-legged “kids”, including Sophie, their eternally young at heart, hopelessly spoiled Spaniel.

He has always enjoyed writing, and still has fond memories of reading his first book, a children’s novella, to local grade schools when he was 14. Dangerous Waters, the first book in the Sisters in Blood series, is being published by Freya’s Bower on September 5th, 2013. C.M. is currently working on the second book in the Sisters in Blood series along with a Fantasy romance.

When he’s not writing, C.M. can be found curled up with a good book, watching movies or hitting the hiking trails with his wife. An avid reader since discovering Jim Kjelgaard novels in early childhood, his favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine, Cassandra Claire, J.R. Ward, Laini Taylor and Tessa Dawn.

C.M. currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.

Social Media links:

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/UFAuthorCMMichaels

Twitter - https://twitter.com/UFAuthor

Blog - http://cmmichaels.blogspot.com/

Website - http://cmmichaels.com/

YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/authorcmmichaels

Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7Q7m0MrwlQ

Buy links:

Buy links:







Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dangerous-waters-14


Friday, December 6, 2013

Goddess Fish Presents: The Girl from Long Guyland

The Girl from Long Guyland
by Lara Reznik
One Lucky Comment Will Win $50 Amazon GC!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
THE GIRL FROM LONG GUYLAND IS ON SALE AT AMAZON FOR 99 CENTS ON DECEMBER 7. 

BLURB:

Laila Levin enjoys a successful marriage and a thriving career as an I.T. executive in Austin, Texas, but she can't quite shake her lifelong sense of not truly belonging anywhere.

When her company announces a major layoff, Laila finds herself caught between an unscrupulous CEO and her promiscuous boss. Then news of her college roommate's suicide stirs up a dark secret involving three devious friends from her past. One has betrayed a vow, another wants to rekindle their romance, and the third is out for revenge.

Suddenly for Laila, it's 1969 again. She's only seventeen, and she's left her sheltered home in Long Island for college in Connecticut. Amid protests of the Vietnam War, she's tempted by the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll that rule her generation. Laila gets swept up in a deceptive love triangle with two older locals and initiated into their unethical hippie family. Too late she realizes her search to belong has led to tragedy.

Laila must now juggle the demands of her perplexed husband and her baby boomer past forcing her to make choices that endanger her survival and challenge her conscience.

She learns that the lines between right and wrong are often blurred, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Lost in Texas

Austin, Texas, 2012

A couple dozen stars and the eye of a yellow moon pierce light through a sky filled with smoke. I look out the broken window to the ground below. Crumpled in the weeds is a lifeless body with red-flecked eyes, a bushy mustache, and sweet smile.
       
Vapor seeps into the room. I can barely breathe. Ben wraps his arms around me as I weep. Denise lies in a catatonic state perched on the bed. Why is she only wearing her bra and panties?
        
Chris stumbles inside the room. His eyes glow like diamonds. He cranes his head out the window. “We gotta do something, man.”
       
“I’ll call for an ambulance,” I say.
       
Ben gulps, “That’s not a good idea.”
  
“We have to,” I insist. “For Godsakes.”

He’s dead, Laila,” Chris says.
       
Tears sting my eyes.

WITH A JOLT, I awake whimpering. The nightmare has infested my dreams for years. It may be time to see a shrink.
        
The anxiety subsides when my husband Eduardo arrives with a cappuccino and the morning paper. “Are you okay? It sounded like you were crying.”
      
I clear my throat. “No, no, I’m fine. Just a dream, I guess.” I’ve never discussed these recurring nightmares with him. Eduardo’s got his own problems. He was recently laid off in a corporate downsize and refuses to talk about it. There’s lots of tension in our home right now. Maybe we should both see a shrink.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Lara Reznik grew up on Long Island but escaped to New Mexico in 1970 in a Karmann Ghia that she and her boyfriend jump-started cross-country. As an English major at the University of New Mexico, Lara studied under esteemed authors Rudolfo Anaya and the late Tony Hillerman. She also attended a summer program at the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop.
           
Ambidextrous from birth, Lara preferred her right-brained creative side, but discovered she could make a better living with her left-brain skills, so entered the I.T. field in 1985.
          
Lara published her first novel, The Girl From Long Guyland in November 2012. The novel ranked #1 during its recent Amazon Kindle promotion and has over 115,000 Kindle downloads. In addition to her novels, Lara has written and optioned three screenplays that have garnered semifinalist and finalist wins in the Austin Heart of Film, Southwest Writers, TV Writer, Chesterfield and Writer's Digest contests. Currently, Lara is working on a new novel based on her screenplay, The M&M Boys.

LINKS

AMAZON LINK:

http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Long-Guyland-ebook/dp/B00A45OYD0/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1369930673&sr=8-1&keywords=THE+GIRL+FROM+LONG+GUYLAND

FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/LARAREZNIK23?ref=hl&bookmark_t=page

WEBSITE

https://www.larareznik.COM



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Goddess Fish Presents The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III

THE UNHOLY
By
Paul DeBlassie III

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Paul is giving away a $50 GC to one lucky commentator!  Leave a comment and enter to win!


BLURB: 

A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.


Excerpt 

Lightning streaked across a midnight dark sky, making the neck hairs of a five-year-old girl crouched beneath a cluster of twenty-foot pines in the Turquoise Mountains of Aztlan stand on end. The long wavy strands of her auburn mane floated outward with the static charge. It felt as though the world was about to end.

Seconds later, lightning struck a lone tree nearby and a crash of thunder shook the ground. Her body rocked back and forth, trembling with terror. She lost her footing, sandstone crumbling beneath her feet, and then regained it; still, she did not feel safe. There appeared to be reddish eyes watching from behind scrub oaks and mountain pines, scanning her every movement and watching her quick breaths. Then everything became silent.

The girl leaned against the trunk of the nearest tree. The night air wrapped its frigid arms tightly around her, and she wondered if she would freeze to death or, even worse, stay there through the night and by morning be nothing but the blood and bones left by hungry animals. Her breaths became quicker and were so shallow that no air seemed to reach her lungs. The dusty earth gave up quick bursts of sand from gusts of northerly winds that blew so fiercely into her nostrils that she coughed but tried to stifle the sounds because she didn’t want to be noticed.

    

AUTHOR INFORMATION:


Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., is a psychologist and writer living in Albuquerque who has treated survivors of the dark side of religion for more than 30 years. His professional consultation practice — SoulCare — is devoted to the tending of the soul. Dr. DeBlassie writes fiction with a healing emphasis. He has been deeply influenced by the mestizo myth of Aztlan, its surreal beauty and natural magic.  He is a member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. 



LINKS
Author Links

Buy Links



Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: Delivery Man

Delivery Man is about a man (David/Vince Vaughn) who finds out he fathered over 500 children through sperm donations during the 1990's.  When over one hundred of the brood become young adults, they petition the sperm bank to waive confidentiality results in order to meet their biological father.  


Before any of the legal stuff gets going, David gets his hands on his children's profiles.  One by one he seeks them out and attempts to help them in some kind of way.  He wants a connection.  One of his kids is a professional ball player, another one a drug-addict, and another one is in a home and confined to a wheel chair.  And so it goes, kid-by-kid he tries to make a difference despite being broke and average in every way.  Meanwhile, David owes some not-very-nice people $80,000 and has knocked-up his girlfriend.
As the lawsuit gets going, the children organize as brothers and sisters, forming Facebook pages and family reunion parties.  David legally wins to maintain his anonymity along with a huge amount of money from his counter suit.  He gives it all up because he wants his children to know him.
 

My Opinion:  If you are looking for laughs, this is not the movie for you.  Yes, it's got some funny parts, but also some emotional and uncomfortable parts.  What I loved about this movie is the emphasis on the important role that fathers play.  We live in a society that almost suggests that fathers are a nice extra in a child's upbringing, like frosting on a cake.  Fathers are not an upgrade, they are a need. This movie brings up the emptiness a child feels without having a father.  
Another theme bravely opens the door to the downside of science playing God.  This is something that could really happen.  Half-sisters and half-brothers could meet unaware of their DNA relation and procreate, committing incest without even knowing.  Overall, Vince Vaughn is growing as an actor-his 2D comedy one-liners are taking a seat to some real acting.  I really enjoyed the movie as did my kids.  Just about any man can father a child, but it takes a real man to be one.  Great stuff and very inspirational!  4.5/5 Stars

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Movie Review: Catching Fire (Hunger Games 2)



Catching Fire begins precisely where the Hunger Games leaves off-with Catniss and Peta returning to District 12 as victors.  She continues to hunt with Gale, but has obviously been affected from the games.  She hallucinates about killing a person while aiming for wild turkeys.  A touch of PTSD?  Not in the book, but I like the added touch.  
The audience is led to believe that Peta is out and Gale is in as they share a romantic kiss.  Her glory days are immediately cut short when returning home.  President Snow awaits and then threatens her because of her defiance of almost committing suicide (poisoned berries) during the last Hunger Game. He explains that this very act has become a symbol in an ongoing rebellion.  Catniss agrees to act like a promoter for the Capitol rather than a dissident, immediately offering to continue her staged romance with Peta.  
 

While on the Victory Tour, Catniss is greeted by crowds with an odd but unified hand salute.  SPOILER ALERT:  Fans, the movie people decide to end the foreshadowing while Suzanne Collins infuses more clues of how the districts plan for an overthrow.
President Snow, with the advice of Plutarch, issues a special Hunger Games that comprises of all of the victors who are still alive over the last 75 years.  Like all of the games, this one can only have one winner.
During training, Catniss and Peta find their allies-Nuts and Bolts, a couple of winners who won from intelligence and out-of-the-box thinking, Finnick, a champion who Hamish's picked for them, and lastly Mags, an old woman who won decades before but is a mother figure to Finnick and he won't leave her.  Joanna, another champion who is very outspoken against the Capitol, joins them later.
The special Hunger Game takes place on an island filled with deadly obstacles such as wild monkeys, lightning, poisonous fog, and tidal waves.  Through team work, they stay alive.  Nuts and Bolts help Catniss figure out the pattern of the natural disasters-a clock layout.  They devise a plan with electricity to ruin the game but fail.  In anger and desperation, Catniss tries something else.  Without spoiling the ending too much-and the ending is almost identical to the book, Catniss prevails.  But at what cost?  You'll have to read the third book and wait for the third movie.

My Opinion:  The special effects were outstanding.  Some movies have a video game look to them-not this one.  Like the book, themes of government oppression ran rampant.  I especially loved when Catniss was shot up with a "tracking vaccine"-think twice about getting unnecessary vaccinations!!!!!  The acting was superb. Jennifer Lawrence is quickly becoming one of my favorite movie stars.  She is so beautiful, but in a non-classical way.  At times she looks quite ordinary but then transforms into something extraordinary.  And she also has a body to die for!  The costumes in the movie surpassed the description in the book.  I loved the wedding gown/mocking jay dress and the fire outfits that Catniss and Peta wore to the games.  The book told the story through Catniss's eyes, but the director occasionally took the camera back to what the Capitol is doing, adding another perspective to the story.  This is my favorite book out of the three and my favorite movie for 2013-a 5 star no-brainer!  Oscar worthy?  Tell me what you think and leave a comment!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review of Divergent by Juliet Tosto

Divergent opens with five factions or tribes that make up most of Chicago.  Each faction consists of people with the same character trait-bravery, selfless, honest, kind, and intelligent.  Beatrice, the main character, turns sixteen years old and has to choose which faction to join.  
She was born and raised by the Selfless faction.  When she takes stimulation test on which faction she would best fit into, the results aren't conclusive.  She does not excel in one character trait, but three-selfless, brave, and intelligent.  Having multi-character traits makes one divergent.


Tori, the test-giver, deletes the results to protect Beatrice and warns about the dangers of being divergent.  On "Choosing Day", the 16 year-olds have to make an oath by cutting their palms with a knife and allowing the blood to drop into the faction they want to be a part of-kind of like creating an allegiance.  Beatrice chooses the Brave faction (called Dauntless) and leaves her family.  
Her initiation involves three steps.  The first is the fighting round. She lands in the middle of the group in terms of talent, but in the second round called the stimulation round she places first.  The stimulation is a hallucinogen that tests what one would do in certain situations.  Because Beatrice is divergent, she can control the stimulation and escape them quicker than everyone else.  
The boy who administers the stimulation tests deletes her results, again warning her of the dangers of divergence.  SPOILER ALERT: They fall in love and he is also divergent.  Like Beatrice, he is from the Selfless faction.  His dad is also a leader in the faction.  They share a common history in almost everything.
The third round is the fear stimulation.  This round forces you to face your fears.  Most people have fifteen fears.  Beatrice only has seven and her boyfriend only has four which dubs him the nickname Four.  This round is the most important of three.  She is ranked first of all the initiatives.  
After initiation all of the "Dauntless" or Brave faction are forced to have a stimulation shot.  Later on, she wakes up to find all of the other initiatives sleep walking.  She figures out that the shot was for mind control.  She is unaffected because she is divergent and plays along so no one knows her secret.  
The Intelligent faction is using the shot to start a war against the Selfless faction.  By the way, the Selfless faction comprises the government of all of the factions.  The Brave are therefore brainwashed to be used as soldiers.  Because Beatrice and Four are divergent, they are well aware of what is really happening.  Can they stop the war in time?
 


My Opinion: The book reminded me of Hunger Games which is probably why I loved it.  There is an obvious theme of mind control with a side story of romance.  The writer has a page-turning quality that got me to read this book in two days.  I thought is was ironic that the government was called "Selfless".  Obviously, the book is fantasy.  Nevertheless, I can't wait for the movie and have already downloaded the next book in the series.  I am a teenage girl and recommend this book for anyone who loves sci-fi thrillers and the Hunger Games.  4.5 Stars out of 5

Monday, November 18, 2013

Nymrod Resurrection: Goddess Fish Presents Hawk McKinney

NYMROD RESURRECTION
By
Hawk McKinney
 
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BLURB:  
Investigating an unlikely murder, Ex-SEAL and part time PI Craige Ingram discovers an officially sanctioned assassination.  His investigation quickly stirs beyond the dirty backrooms of the nation’s capital with more killings across Europe and the Middle East.  The dead woman is somehow connected to stolen artifacts from a time before Babylon.  As he probes apparently unconnected clues, he locks horns with an enigmatic enticing secret agent with her own agenda and her own way of doing things.  Craige faces train wrecks and deadly assassins doing business with a rich mercenary selling biotoxins, rare stamps, deadly nerve gases, and smuggled nuclear material to the highest bidder. As Craige peels away at the shadowy Operation Nymrod, he finds an elusive power-hungry dead-set mind – a driven obsession with a frightful arsenal of bioweapons ready to fulfill ancient prophecies with a very personal Armageddon that makes the monstrous last day of the twin towers of the World Trade Center pale in possibilities.



EXCERPT:  

            On the second-floor landing I spotted familiar faces from the department's forensic team.  The smell was worse inside.  With that first look I didn't need to be told that the pulpy lump with swollen pumpkin dimples where eyes should have been was one very bloated dead body.  The corpse was well into being recycled.  It no longer looked human.  The body had been cooking in the sweltering oven of a Dixie mid-August scorching summer in this dreary one-flight walkup of apartments with no AC and painted-shut windows.  Near the peeling paint archway and a worse kitchenette beyond I spotted Gray huddled with just over five feet plus, roly-poly Coroner-Medical Examiner Fred Dinkins.

            "What you got?" I asked.

            Gray indolently heaved a getting-paunchier fried chicken and beer belly and idly mumbled, "We’re not quite sure...." threw me that MacGerald we-got-trouble look.  "Right now all I know for sure is, it's no run-of-the-mill homicide."

            There was more in his look than his words.  It was all over his face that things weren't going the way he liked.  I’d known that from the moment I disconnected from his call.  He wouldn't have made the call for a squabble between drifters over street drugs or a grocery cart of scrounged throwaway clothes.  When a corpse is concealed, long term or otherwise and left to rot, decomposition can alter forensic evidence until it tells other stories—but not usually ones you want to hear.  Dinkins had his work cut out for him and his crew.  It’s one way perps buy themselves time, and concealment usually means there’s considerable more that went down.  In my wildest night-stalks I could never’ve imagined how right-on-the-money that would prove to be.  Ignorance is bliss…our SEAL team learned real quick. It can also get you killed.

            Without looking up Dinkins said, "One more pitiable devil that died alone.” Piercing blue eyes peered over his ever-present black wire-rim glasses perched unsteadily on the end of his nose.  In low-key measured words, "Prelim exam leads me to believe the corpse is female, but we'll wait till we get the body to the morgue, see what the autopsy and lab tests tell us.  I don’t want any second guessing the evidence. Besides, we’re about finished up here."

            The dreary apartment was busier than it’d seen in decades with double shifts of the forensic techs bustling-sorting the whens and hows of death.  The cracker box kitchen adjoined a corner next-to-nothing squalid dinette area furnished with a dirty Masonite wobbly table barely big enough for two.  In the front room the melon-round, no-neck head squatted square on the bloated chest of the oozing corpse.  The whole misshapen inhuman mess had sagged into the soggy sofa.





AUTHOR INFORMATION:

With postgraduate degrees and faculty appointments in several medical universities, Hawk MacKinney has taught graduate courses in both the United States and Jerusalem. In addition to professional articles and texts on chordate neuroembryology, Hawk has authored several works of fiction.

Hawk began writing mysteries for his school newspaper. His works of fiction, historical love stories, science fiction and mystery-thrillers are not genre-centered, but plot-character driven, and reflect his southwest upbringing in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award, details the family bloodlines of his serial protagonist in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series… murder and mayhem with a touch of romance. Vault of Secrets, the first book in the Ingram series, was followed by Nymrod Resurrection, Blood and Gold, and The Lady of Corpsewood Manor. All have received national attention.  Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series is due out this fall with another mystery-thriller work out in 2014. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012.

"Without question, Hawk is one of the most gifted and imaginative writers I have had the pleasure to represent. His reading fans have something special to look forward to in the Craige Ingram Mystery Series. Intrigue, murder, deception and conspiracy--these are the things that take Hawk's main character, Navy ex-SEAL/part-time private investigator Craige Ingram, from his South Carolina ancestral home of Moccasin Hollow to the dirty backrooms of the nation's capital and across Europe and the Middle East."

Barbara Casey, President
Barbara Casey Literary Agency




Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween: Do You Know Your Zombie Terminology?




With the so-called zombie apocalypse approaching, one must be educated about the different kinds of zombies before prepping for defense. First, there is the most common and believable-the human that turns into a zombie because of mental collapse, disease, infection, and/or radiation. They stagger around dazed and confused and cause panic to others. Then there is the man-made monster kind or the kind Hollywood and horror authors like me tend to capitalize on.
Zombie interest continues to fascinate the world. Jeffrey Dahmer drilled holes then poured acid down his victim’s heads in hopes of creating his own zombie. His madness didn’t work. Can man make his own zombie? Are these monsters real?
According to Wade Davis, author of The Serpent of the Rainbow, zombies are real. They are a product of the Voodoo religion. He was originally hired by a pharmaceutical company to find out about the drugs Voduists used in their death rituals. He believed that datura also known as zombie’s cucumber was a plant that could medically make one who ingested it appear to be dead for a certain length of time. Sounds like the stuff Juliet used to fake her death. Could Shakespeare known about the magical zombie-making plant?
Datura or sometimes Cimora, a close relative of Datura’s, eventually wears off but leaves the victim in a state of confusion, highly susceptible to the art of persuasion. Presto! A zombie slave is at the captor’s disposal. Mr. Davis didn’t just find his datura flower, but witnessed zombie phenomena as he immersed himself within the Haitian culture.



Bad Juju is a unique blend of horror, romance, and fantasy. Besides The Serpent and the Rainbow, I read volumes of other Voodoo material and watched hours of TV specials. Some of the terms I learned can be found below:
Bokor: A wizard who practices black magic, a zombie maker.
Loa: deity/spirit
Ghede Family: A family of loas known as the spirits of the dead. Three barons rule the family. Baron Samedi is the loa of resurrection. Baron Kriminel is the most feared loa associated with cannibalism and souls. He’s honored on The Day of the Dead. Baron LaCroix is the loa of the dead and sexuality.
Poppet: Voodoo doll
Ti-bon-ange: “little good angel” The part of the soul that represents a person’s individuality.
Gros-bon-ange: “great good angel” Part of the soul that is collected into a reservoir of the Cosmos or spirit world.
Baka: Voodoo spirits in animal form.
Loup Garou: werewolf
Djab: a devil
Dessounin: Death ritual that separates the gros-bon-ange from the body.
Bizango Society: Secret society of Vodouists. They have Freemason-like qualities such as aprons, secret handshakes, oaths, hierarchy, and symbols. Legend states they change into animals at will. They are known for stealing black cats and boiling them to death for Voodoo services. They drink each other’s blood from a human skull chalice.

Bad Juju is available on Amazon for 1.99

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wild Times on Skidaway Island Goddess Fish Tour: Karen Dove Barr Stops By

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Eagle Update
    Two eagles side by side in the top of a pine tree halfway down Palmetto 14 fairway captured Larry White’s attention. The diversion was intentional. The wily eagles were distracting golfers from their new nest just to the right of the tee box, 100 yards back. Likely a married pair, eagles mate for life.     Larry got a great cell phone shot of the white-headed duo. Since he was in the middle of the Working Men’s blitz, Larry wasn’t a threat to eagle eggs, even if he could climb the towering pine that supported the nest, but the eagles weren’t taking any chances.
     Ben Franklin objected to the eagle as our national symbol. Eagles steal fish and have superior attitudes. Knowing they are apex avarian predators gives the bird a disrespectful approach toward humans and a dangerous one for fellow raptors. With a seven foot wingspread and the strength to haul its nine to fourteen pound body high in the sky and descend at one hundred miles per hour to attack, the eagle is a formidable animal.
     Larry cites a golfing day when he and partner Al Hudgins watched a red-tailed hawk enter territory appropriated by an eagle. The eagle seized the formerly dominant hawk and promptly killed it, right in front of the foursome. Larry doesn’t know what led to the death penalty. Had the hawk breakfasted on baby eagle or merely flown too close to the wrong pine tree?
     Since our lagoons don’t freeze, Skidaway Island eagles are year around residents. Nest-building begins in early February and mom eagle lays eggs by the end of the month. The eggs hatch in late April and early May.  Eagles lay up to three eggs, but the first born may steal food from later hatchlings or peck them to death, an extreme example of sibling rivalry.
     Male and females look alike, but the female is twenty-five per cent larger. Mom and Dad both build the nest, incubate the eggs, feed the babies, and teach them to fly and fish. Landbridge Lane residents can expect eaglets to begin circling nearby lagoons by late June or early July. Eagles take up to five years to attain adult status and sexual maturity. Until then their feathers are brown.
     Almost every year since 1983, when no nesting pairs were found in Georgia, eagles have increased. In 2010 one hundred thirty-nine active nests were counted; 2011 there were one hundred forty-two. Last year researchers counted one hundred fifty-eight nests in Georgia, seventeen in Chatham County. The nest on Palmetto is new.
     When eagles become common as great blue herons on Skidaway Island, what adjustments must we make?  Will eagles object to high-rise golf balls?  Will our squirrel population decline?  Will ospreys be forced into servitude, fishing for the eagle’s dinner?
     I tiptoed out on the 14th fairway at the crack of dawn, over-sized lens protruding from my camera.  Dad eagle took exception to my pointing it at the nest and swooped back and forth over my head until he frightened me away.
     I wonder what he will do, come spring, when I venture back to get a shot of the babies?
By:  Karen Dove Barr
Contact karendovebarr@hotmail.com

Wild Times on Skidaway Island
by Karen Dove Barr

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt:

Wallowing in mud and wading in tidal puddles while scarfing down a seafood buffet is hog heaven to sus scrofu, the feral pig. America’s original travel agent, Christopher Columbus, brought the first pigs to the West Indies during his second voyage in 1498, where they adapted so well Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto off-loaded breeding pairs up and down the islands of the Georgia coast in the 1540s so prospective settlers would have plenty to eat.
           
Unfortunately none of Georgia’s Golden Isles has nearly enough Spanish settlers to keep the pigs under control.
           
Hernando DeSoto can’t be blamed for all feral hogs in the southern states. Escapees from pig farms, particularly a large “hog-bust” in North Carolina in the 1920s, and later introduction of wild Eurasian hogs for hunting throughout the South have contributed to the mix.
           
Skidaway Islanders with acorn-bearing live oaks, living on the western edge of the island, are most likely to meet their wild hog neighbors. A large boar can be aggressive if disturbed while digging up a yard, as can mama sow with piglets. 
           
On the flip side Skidaway pigs, if cooked thoroughly, are perfectly edible by Landings residents and it’s always hog-hunting season on private property in Georgia.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Karen Dove Barr, Attorney, was recently recognized by the Georgia State Bar for providing legal assistance to military families and service members.  She has practiced in the field of family law in Savannah for 34 years.


http://www.karendovebarr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/karendovebarr

http://amazon.com/Wild-Times-Skidaway-Island-Karen/dp/1939521041

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-times-on-skidaway-island-karen-dove-barr/1115227605?ean=9781939521040


http://strategicmediabooks.com/store/books/wild-times-in-skidaway-island/

Wild Times on Skidaway Island, Georgia's Historic Rain Forest, details life in a unique Audubon-designated, ecologically friendly refuge. There, golfers pitch balls around endangered great blue herons, mama raccoons march their babies across backyard decks where once Guale Indians trapped ancestors of the same raccoons, and residents dodge alligators and rescue snakes. 

Even the vegetation is wild. Three hundred-year-old oaks dripping Spanish moss and poison ivy surmount an under-story of wax myrtle and holly. Carolina jasmine, Cherokee roses, and endangered orchids grow wild in the rain forest. The book examines choices residents make when stared down by a bald eagle, when a red-tailed hawk mistakes a golf ball for bird food, when wakened at midnight by deer munching hibiscus. Wild Times on Skidaway Island educates about the species that residents must adapt to on this historic island. 




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