Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: Gemini Effect by Chuck Grossart

The Gemini Effect won the Amazon Breakthrough contest and resides on the top ten science fiction bestseller lists.  The story is very simple.  

A chemical weapon was invented during the Cold War.  Secret military operatives believe that they quashed the threat and then years later the chemical resurfaces through rats.  The rat infects other rats, who in turn, infect other rats, creating an army of rats and then later on birds and even humans who kill cities at night and then burrow into the ground, duplicating themselves through some kind of independent fast-track cloning method.  The rats and others are almost impossible to kill.  The president gets involved and is forced to consider nuclear weapons as a solution to stopping the spread.  Members of his cabinet give him terrible advice.  Without spoiling the entire book, the world solves the problem.
My Review: The story sounds almost too simple, but it's not.  Mr. Grossart is a master at getting the reader to turn the page.  Action, action, action from page one to the end.  His writing is very clear, which can be difficult when describing technical action scenes with advanced weapons.  But I understood almost every word and finished the book in a few days.  The characters would probably be considered flat by your typical NY Times reviewer, but that didn't matter to me.  It was all about the story and the story was addicting.  I also LOVED the ending-not the predictable "and they all lived happily ever after" type of ending that I despise.  In fact, I'm not even sure if it was happy, but it worked and I thought it was brilliant.  If I had to criticize, I would mention some of the bomber/aircraft information was a bit much for me, but that was easy enough for me to skim over.  Overall, this is an excellent, quick read.  I hope Mr. Grossart keeps pumping out these high-octane sci-fi thrillers.  Well done!  5/5 Stars.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Home Improvement Project: Laundry Room Transformation


Laundry Room/Entrance Makeover!

My husband and I bought a new home one year ago.  Great house, but like most new homes, it lacks character.  He and I are having fun putting in blood and sweat equity.  Our laundry room is really not a laundry room, but a hallway that connects the garage and house.  It's kind of a tight area, but big enough to give it a mudroom custom look called board and batten paneling.  We got the idea from This Old House magazine.
1) Bought 1/4" sheet of wood and cut it into strips
We kept the baseboard on the bottom of the wall, but if you don't have the baseboard, then you would add a strip to frame it out.  The example in the magazine had a boxed area for shoes and boots that also worked as a bench.  Our hallway was too narrow to add that.

Steps 2 and 3: Paint wall, shelf, brackets, and boards bright white.  Add shelf and brackets on top of highest board.

Last steps are painting laundry room and adding decorative hardware!  
Cost of project:
Paint-white paint we had, gray paint $30.
Knobs and Hooks (Hobby Lobby) $20
Sheet of wood $25
Shelf 1X4 $10
4 shelf brackets $25
Decorative baskets and laundry sign $35
Grand Total: $145





Thursday, May 14, 2015

Goddess Fish Presents: THE BLEIKOVAT EVENT




The Bleikovat Event - The Cairns of Sainctuarie
by Hawk MacKinney
$25 Amazon GC Raffle!  Enter to win!

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BLURB:

Among the close-kin clans of western rural Malfesian Murians, farming and gelf ranches are long held traditions.  Times are good…full barns, fat gelf calves and large families thrive among the sprawling grain fields and hamlets and the river from which they derive their name—the Feldon.  Word comes with the trade caravans that times are not so good in the regions far to the east of the Feldon River:  tumultuous changes stir among the remote province of Bleikovia.  Old timer Feldovats shrug it off as one more squabble between clans over boundaries or water rights…too distant to affect the Feldovats.

The western clans learn too late, however, it is no local squabble.  Outnumbered and unprepared, Feldovats resist a hoard bent on plunder and conquest.  Days of battle along the Feldon River stain the riverbanks in green Murian blood.  In the finals days of exhausted fighting, Judikar Klarvko Celo, leader of the Clan Klarvkon and the Feldovats, is fatally stabbed with the slow-acting sevon poison.  The Judikar’s consort, Etikaa Klarvkaa, becomes Regentkaa, and with Celovat Field Commander Korvo Celo serving as her advisor, she leads the demoralized Feldovat survivors on a gruesome ill-prepared winter trek through high mountain passes of ice and blizzard snow in an attempt to elude the Green Dragon forces of the Bleikovats.

Etkaa’s only son, Klarvko Celo II, helps spirit Feldovat young across a remote mountain exodus to the west toward Eedov Province. The battered, starving Feldovats reach the Malfesian coast at Eedov City only to be confronted with their implacable enemy determined to destroy the remaining Klarvkon rabble.  Taking passage on crowded lumbering Maalonovion freighters, Feldovats and Malfesian refugees set sail.  On arrival in Maalon City they are welcomed among their Maalon hosts, and settle into a new life.

But famine and a pandemic pestilence stir old hates and nurse former ambitions.  The enraged Overseers of Bleikovia move against the Klarvkons, this time bringing bloodshed to Maalonovia.  The exiles from the Feldon must fight once again, but starvation and plague across the Planete Myr make it a different war from the battles along the Feldon…a na’ä blikovat…the Bleikovvat Phenomenon…an event with unexpected consequences and outcomes none could have foreseen.

Before the vendetta killing is exhausted, the Regentkaa Klarvkaa and her son are swept onto the Maalon throne, setting the Klarvkon Dynasty and the Murians toward an intergalactic golden age, and a star-flung destiny the once-agrarian Feldovats could never have envisaged.

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EXCERPT


The catafalque of the old Dowager Queen rested on the high rostrum of the Temple of the Goddess Myraa. There was little ceremony to the cremation of dead. Yet, all that had passed made this requiem for the Dowager Queen Klarvkaa Etkaa Bremanova Celovaa Bremanova a symbol of the changes which had swept so many lives. Long annuals before the ascendancy of The Klarvkon Dynasty, the massive wood and granite Temple to the Goddess Myraa had been destroyed in the firestorm which laid waste Eedov City. After the close of the Malfesian War the temple was rebuilt, but not the city. On the ashes of the old temple, immense columns rose above the sanctuary and vaults. Iridescent alabaster and polished marble greeted pilgrim supplicants who had come to the shoreline plains washed by the Green Sea.

Dowager Etkaa Klarvkaa—wife, myäat, founding matriarch of the Klarvkon Dynasty—gave hope from a time without hope. As was her wish, she would be cremated on the soil of her birth, her ashes to mingle with those of her consort, Klarvko Celo. Their son, His Imperial Majesty Klarvko Celo the Second, decreed it would be done. At the enormous base of the great temple in a spectacular vision never seen before and seldom since came an undulating ocean of banners. Some of them clans which no longer existed, even the once-hated Green Dragon of Bleikovia. Murians had taken her to their hearts and never relinquished her. Even in death, her shadow would reach across the centuries, and measure all who followed.


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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. 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.  Walking the Pet is Hawk’s latest release in the Ingram series. The first book in another mystery-thriller series is scheduled for release in 2015. The Bleikovat Event, the first volume in The Cairns of Sainctuarie science fiction series, was released in 2012. Its sequel, The Missing Planets, has just been released.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Goddess Fish Presents: Iris Dorbian's Love, Loss, and Longing in the Age of Reagan-Diary of a Mad Club Girl

LOVE, LOSS, AND LONGING IN THE AGE OF REAGAN: DIARY OF A MAD CLUB GIRL
by Iris Dorbian

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Iris is giving away $20 GC!


BLURB:

It's the early 1980s, MTV is in its infancy, the Internet does not exist, Ronald Reagan is president and yuppies are ruling Wall Street. Edie is a naïve NYU student desperate to lose her virginity and to experience adventure that will finally make her worldly, setting her further apart from her bland suburban roots. But in her quest to mold herself into an ideal of urban sophistication, the New Jersey-born co-ed gets more than she bargained for, triggering a chain of events that will have lasting repercussions.


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Excerpt:

It was an era before cell phones, the Internet did not exist, disco was dying, about to be swallowed whole by New Wave and AIDS, which hadn’t yet broken into the mainstream, would soon become a death sentence ending a person’s life within two years of infection. Carter had only one year left of his failed, one-term presidency. Reaganomics—and yuppies—were looming.
           
Though still heavily ravaged by the urban blight that had nearly decimated it earlier in the decade, New York City was starting to undergo a period of renewal and rebirth thanks to its new feisty mayor Ed Koch.
           
Into this fray I entered as an NYU student, naïve, curious, not knowing what the future would bring. But then I didn’t care, choosing to live in the present. Willful obliviousness suited me just fine.

Peter, my first real boyfriend (translated into the vernacular: the first guy I slept with), used to always tell me I was an existentialist. But that confused me especially because I knew that underneath this veneer that classmates used to say was so deep and cerebral lurked a fluttery airhead, more influenced by appearances and artifice than she let on.

I had briefly studied existentialism when I was a high school senior taking advanced humanities with Mrs. Stein at Fair Lawn High School, an unusually good public school made possible by the enormous taxes levied against its local citizenry.

Mrs. Stein was very eclectic with the syllabus. We read Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,”  (a book about wronged innocence that resonated strongly with my callow self), Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage” and Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” the latter considered both a literary classic and a benchmark of the existential movement.

“The Stranger” was about an emotionally impassive Frenchman, Mersault, who experiences all sorts of tragedies—he even murders someone and goes on trial for it—while remaining curiously detached throughout. Was he a sociopath? Did he feel any kind of remorse for his actions? Why didn’t he cry when his mother died?

When Mrs. Stein would describe the protagonist as someone who embodied the existential doctrine of self-determination and assuming responsibilities for one’s choices, all I could think of was a sleek and tall Frenchman, fashionably attired in black from head to toe, wearing a beret and sitting in a Parisian café, sipping lattes and eating croissants while having animated philosophical discourses with friends and borderline foes. It was an image of sophistication I was desperate to emulate ever since my parents took me two years earlier to Café Feenjon on MacDougal Street to hear Israeli musicians play cheesy Middle-Eastern music.


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AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Iris Dorbian is a former actress turned business journalist/blogger. Her articles have appeared in a wide number of outlets that include the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Venture Capital Journal, DMNews, Playbill, Backstage, Theatermania, Live Design, Media Industry Newsletter and PR News. From 1999 to 2007, Iris was the editor-in-chief of Stage Directions. She is the author of “Great Producers: Visionaries of the American Theater," which was published by Allworth Press in August 2008. Her personal essays have been published in Blue Lyra Review, B O D Y, Embodied Effigies, Jewish Literary Journal, Skirt! Diverse Voices Quarterly and Gothesque Magazine.

https://twitter.com/irisdorbian
https://www.facebook.com/iris.dorbian

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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE


Iris Dorbian will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: Collision of Dreams by George Dalton



Collision of Dreams is a western set in the 1800s.  The book's hero, Sam, begins the story by saving a woman from being manhandled in town by a member of ruthless killers.  Sam falls instantly in love.  He finds out her name Mattie Ann Carville and gets offered a job to work for her dad on his ranch.  Sam eventually ventures out, acquiring his own land with plans of building a cattle ranch and marrying Mattie Ann.  He meets many friends and some enemies who try to kill him.  His bravery and common sense always find a way out.  
Throughout the book, many adventures happen to Sam, his true love, and the other characters he encounters.  I won't spoil the ending, but it's a happy one.

My Review: I never read a western before and decided to give it a try.  I met George in a book store while he was doing a book signing.  He looked like someone who knew a thing or two of the wild west.  I, on the other hand, pretty much knew nothing.  After reading the book, I learned a little bit about Indians, warpaths, breaking horses, and raising and branding cattle.  I enjoyed his dialect for different characters and loved the western style of talking (he kilt a man, is a fixin, etc.).  The story moved along at a nice pace and it was clear and easy to read.  George knew when to insert history into the story.  I recommend it to anyone who likes westerns or is willing to give them a try.  Great book! 5/5 Stars.

Xpresso Presents: Tamara Grantham's Deathbringer

Deathbringer Tamara Grantham (Fairy World M.D., Olive Kennedy) Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing Publication date: April 25th 201...