Day: January 19, 2013

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Review: “Marked for Vengeance” by S. J. Pierce

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I found Marked for Vengeance: The Alyx Rayer Chronicles difficult to read. Not, mind you, that it’s not an interesting story; I’d go so far as to call it an intriguing story; it’s just that there are certain things about it that makes it very difficult to hang in for the long slog.

The preface, which explains the author’s motivation for writing this novel, would have been better as an author’s endnote. Placed where it is, at the very beginning, it seems to foreshadow everything that will follow. And, of course, the following prologue seems to be of a piece; we’re allowed to witness the ‘birth’ of some strange creatures, or perhaps actually the ‘rebirth;’ “Waiting to be brought to life, their bodies felt more like prisons to their souls that shuddered in response to the darkness around them. Her mind reeled with images, distant, agonizing memories of the last two times she had endured this torture, and her frozen muscles itched for movement so she could flee.” Are we witnessing the appearance of some alien being, angels, perhaps? The author carefully, and sneakily, does not say.

In chapter one, we’re introduced to Alyx Rayer, and only because of the book’s subtitle and that pesky preface are we able to believe that she just might be one of the ‘strange’ beings, until it is revealed to us near the end of the chapter.

I think you’re getting the picture; this is a story of the ‘aliens among us,’ but one with a few twists over the standard ‘encounter’ tales. An interesting concept, that I mostly enjoyed reading, but for a few faults. First; the formatting of the e-Book was extremely distracting, with sudden spacings separating sentences, causing the eye to stumble while reading, and initially wondering if this was intentional or just an oversight. Then, there were the sudden shifts in point of view, from one character to another, from third person omniscient to third person limited. This is great in experimental fiction, but when you want readers to get to know and care about your characters, it’s a bit off-putting. Finally, the dialogue tends in many places to be a bit too wooden, as if the character was reading from a note pad rather than actually speaking, and there are too many unnecessary tags, such as ‘her hands balled angrily into fists,’ that don’t really add to the flow of the story in any significant way – rather, they detract from it.

Like I said, even though it was hard to read, I did enjoy Mark of Vengeance, even though I didn’t totally understand it. It shows signs of developing into a fascinating trilogy, or maybe even a series if the author takes note of the aforementioned weaknesses, and, either corrects them, or makes sure readers know they’re part of the story.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Fulfill the Dream by Honoring the Dreamer

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In death, as in life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood heads and shoulder above those around him.
In death, as in life, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood heads and shoulder above those around him.

In three days, on January 21, the nation prepares for the inauguration of Barack Obama, America’s first African-American President, for his second term. At the same time, we will pause throughout the country to honor a man whose efforts were instrumental in many ways in this historic inauguration. January 21 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a holiday marked every year on the third Monday in January since 1986, and since 2000, recognized in all 50 states.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a Baptist preacher. He followed his father’s profession, becoming a pastor in a church in the south, ministering to the needs of a then-segregated black community. The Montgomery bus boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white male passenger, King became the leader of the national civil rights movement, and in 1957 helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his achievements in moving the cause of civil rights forward in the United States, and honored around the world, he is best remembered for his historic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963, before an audience of 250,000 civil rights supporters at the close of the March on Washington. After the 1963 event, King turned his attention to a focus on poverty and the war in Vietnam, which he vehemently opposed.

In Memphis, Tennessee to support that city’s garbage workers in their strike for better wages and working conditions, King was slain by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968. His death touched off riots around the country in some of the worst racial violence the country has ever seen.

King’s words in Washington in 1963 are as appropriate today as they were then, given the economic and social problems plaguing the nation over 150 years after the end of the Civil War. We are still a nation of haves and have-nots, with millions going to bed at night with empty stomachs, without shelter, and deprived of the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The promissory note written by the Founding Fathers when they drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is still due for many. As King said, “In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir to.” We should take careful note of what he said after that, though. “In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds . . . let us not wallow in the valley of despair.”

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

His dream, the American dream, remains largely a dream. To honor his legacy, it is up to us, each of us, to continue to work to make that dream a reality. Even though we might have to face the ‘difficulties of today and tomorrow,’ we should still cling to that dream, a dream that is ‘deeply rooted in the American dream.’

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