Month: December 2013

STRAIGHT UP TALK WITH MOONLADY76 12/05 by Moonlady76 | Spirituality Podcasts

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STRAIGHT UP TALK WITH MOONLADY76 12/05 by Moonlady76 | Spirituality Podcasts. This is an earlier broadcast of a different group of songs – including some of my favorites from when I was a kid. Way to go, Moon Lady!

Review of ‘Skin Deep Motives’

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Matt Grudge and Leslie Crow are friends and partners in a detective agency – Alternative Investigations: Matt Grudge and Leslie Crow. These two tatted, pierced and dressed-off-the-markdown-rack PIs are also known as the grunge operatives because of their distinct counter-culture, back-to-the-nineties style. They find themselves facing the case of their lives – in fact, the case that could end their lives – when Dee-Dee Magnolia, famous tattoo artist, and Leslie’s friend, is murdered.

In Skin Deep Motive, Aaron Hilton introduces us to Portland’s grunge culture and the deep, dark secrets that it hides. We get not just the sights and sounds, but the smells and thoughts of a social milieu that is alien to most of us, and thanks to Hilton’s masterful prose, we come away thinking we understand it.

Truly grungy dialogue and snappy narrative takes the reader on a roller coaster ride through the underbelly of human emotions and intrigue. You’d better be sure you have a good long block of free time, because when you pick this book up it’ll stick to you like tar on a sunbaked street sticks to the bottom of your shoes.

I received a free copy of this book to review. It’s like certain chemical substances, though – instantly addictive and causing you to lust for more.

Review of ‘5 Easy Steps to Financial Freedom’

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Lots of books are penned that purport to tell you the secret to financial independence or getting rich. Some are written by authors whose objective is to get rich themselves from the poor schmucks who buy their books looking for the keys to the kingdom of wealth, while others come from writers who actually provide a few helpful, practical hints that can be useful in your efforts to gain financial security and independence. Duane Harden’s 5 Easy Steps to Financial Freedom: Do What You Love & Get Rich Doing It, which I received a free copy of in return for an unbiased review, is fortunately one of the latter. It offers a few very helpful hints for anyone seeking to establish a financial status that enables him to do the things he wants to do.

Harden starts by enjoining the reader to rewrite his or her history and create a future. He outlines the five steps he took to gain his own financial independence, with helpful advice such as ‘be careful who you listen to,’ ‘avoid negative people,’ ‘don’t be afraid to take risks,’ and ‘spend less than you make.’ While this might seem like no-brainer advice, it’s amazing the number of people who ignore it.

I found the book helpful, to a degree, and quite easy to read, but I took issue with the author early on. He maintains, for instance, that it’s easier to say ‘yes’ than to say ‘no.’ My fifty years in the bureaucracy taught me the exact opposite – it’s easier to say ‘no,’ but the consequences are often more severe than if you say ‘yes.’  While I don’t disagree that passive income is a good wealth generator, I’m not of the belief that this is the only route as the author seems to be. Most troubling to me in this book, though, is the statement, both implied and explicit in more than one place that business ownership, real estate and investment are the best ways to become wealthy.

The author describes the steps that he took in these areas, and seems to imply that anyone who follows them will experience the same results. If you read the entire book, though, including the front matter, you will notice that the publisher includes a disclaimer,

 

“Limits of Liability & Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and author have made every attempt in preparing this book for educational purposes only, however, they make no representations or warranties with respect to its accuracy or the completeness of the contents of this book. The advice and strategies contained in this book may not be suitable for your situation and results may vary. Any statements about profits or income, expressed or implied, does not represent a guarantee. You accept full responsibility for your actions, profit or loss, and agree to hold the publisher and author and any authorized distributor harmless in any and all ways. The use of this book constitutes your acceptance.”

 

And, rightly so, because what works for one does not necessarily work for all, and not all of us are cut out to be business owners or real estate magnates. Even investment is different for different people.

Now, while I disagree with the author’s premise on ‘what’ fields to follow to ensure financial independence, I don’t disagree with most of the ‘methods’ he describes. Knowing where you come from, where you wish to go, and what you’re willing to do to get there, is valuable regardless of the path you take. There are nuggets of wisdom here, and if the author had been just a bit more forthcoming, this would rank in my top tier of books on ‘how to become independent.’ Unfortunately, it misses the four-star category, but the clear writing and practical manner gives it a three (two and a half actually, but there are no provisions for partial stars, so I’ll go ahead and give that other half).

113 Ways to Characterize Your Protagonist

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WordDreams...

writingThere are a lot of words that describe you and I at different times during the day. Our job as writers is to notice what those moods and attitudes are and put a word to them so readers will feel them. ‘Sad’ doesn’t have enough depth, but ‘bitter’, ‘stricken’, ‘grieved’, and heartsick’ all tell us more about the way the character is handling ‘sad’. They are much more compelling to the reader, likely to draw us in and make us like the character (which keeps us reading).

Here are more words with color you might like:

  1. absent-minded
  2. active
  3. affable
  4. ambitious
  5. amiable
  6. animated
  7. annoyed
  8. argumentative
  9. arrogant
  10. attentive
  11. bossy
  12. candid
  13. capable
  14. care-free
  15. careful
  16. caustic
  17. cautious
  18. charismatic
  19. charming
  20. clever
  21. cold-hearted
  22. compassionate
  23. complacent
  24. conceited
  25. concerned confused
  26. confident
  27. considerate
  28. cooperative
  29. crafty
  30. cruel
  31. cultured
  32. curious
  33. finicky

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Senate “Nuclear” Fallout Snares State Department Nominees

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This is so much like kids squabbling on a playground.

Diplopundit

— Domani Spero

CNN reports that the partisan battle over presidential nominations is heating up again and threatens to dominate the remaining days before the winter recess.  The Senate Republicans, reportedly are still angry over filibuster changes Democrats made last month, and have blocked “a series of largely non-controversial nominations Democrats tried to clear.”

On December 9, 2013, Senator Harry Reid asked for unanimous consent to confirm all Executive and Judicial nominations on the Executive Calendar. Senator Lamar Alexander objected to the request.

We can’t say how long long or how intense this battle is going to be. What we know is it has already snared dozens of State Department nominees.  Senator Reid filed cloture on 10 executive nominations.  Under the rule, the first cloture vote will occur one hour after the Senate convenes on Wednesday, December 11th. Among the 10 nominees are Heather Anne Higginbottom, of the District of…

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Review of ‘Amari’

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I’ve been a science fiction fan since reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series way back in the dark ages of the 1950s. I particularly like the swashbuckling space epics with the good guys battling evil a la Han Solo from the bridge of his Millennium Falcon. So, I approached Steven Atwood’s Amari with some pretty high expectations.

Amari is the story of space pirate Amari Prokop, who does battle against the International Security Space Force (ISSF), the dreaded secret police of the UN. With her crew of pirates, including her XO, Borris, with whom she has a somewhat strange relationship, Amari dashes off to dispense justice and get some payback for past ISSF misdeeds when she is tasked with snatching a prisoner from an ISSF prisoner transport vessel.

This is a competently written story – albeit with a few grammatical glitches that threw me a bit off stride, but not irrevocably so, and one or two minor internal inconsistencies – but, despite the potential, it doesn’t quite rise to the level I believe Atwood is capable of.  Dialogue and descriptions are at time a bit wordy and cliché. That said, Amari is still a fun story to read  I can see the four-star potential in Atwood’s writing, but alas, I can only give him three stars this time.

Review of ‘Escape From the Forbidden Planet’

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Escape From the Forbidden Planet by Julie Ann Grasso is an absolutely rib-tickling science fiction story that I assure you will give you a couple of hours of pleasure. I just finished a free review copy provided me for an unbiased review – unfortunately, my review is a bit biased, because I fell in love with it within the first ten pages.

Caramel Cinnamon is a tiny girl – elf actually – who resides on the planet of Cardamom. Her rather idyllic existence is disrupted with the arrival of Alexander222 from the planet Ishqwartz, known as IQ by its inhabitants, and under the management of the IQ Corporation. Alexander is a clone from a long line of Alexanders, but with a difference – his planet is losing its source of power, a crystal substance, and he is determined to find a substitute.

Alexander222 finds the desired substitute in the sugars of Cardamom, and in order to gain control over it, he kidnaps Caramel’s grandparents, and subsequently her and her parents and transports them to Earth, the forbidden planet.

You’ll find yourself laughing until your teeth hurt as you read Grasso’s hilarious account of how Caramel and a band of Earth children turn the tables against Alexander222’s machinations and get him brought up before the Intergalactic Council.

Grasso is a master of comic timing and a beautiful melding of humor, human emotions (in aliens at that), and technology. I can hardly wait for the sequel to Escape to see what further mischief Caramel gets up to. Though written primarily for younger readers, it will thrill everyone who is young at heart.

Review of ‘Project Mimic’

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The year is 2077, and in the post-nuclear holocaust world, only two forces are left – the United Protection Force (UPF), or what remains of the old U.S.A., and the New Nations Alliance (NNA), comprised of the Asian countries who survived the war. Europe and the Middle East have descended into barbarism.

Old hatreds, greed, and the lust for power, however, are still alive and well as the UPF and NNA struggle for dominance over what’s left of the world. Now, though, the winning edge will depend not on nuclear weapons but mastery of science and technology. UPF has placed its fate in the hands of disgraced scientist Timothy McDowell and his Project Mimic, a technique for reanimating the dead augmented with advanced technology.

An NNA attack on the Project Mimic facility, however, puts a crimp in the UPF plans, and now both sides must contend with a unit of the reanimated soldiers, led by former UPF soldier Rick Kemp.

John Black’s Project Mimic is science fiction at its near best. Fully fleshed out (though previously dead) characters, zippy dialogue, and credibly described technology and sociology make this a fascinating tale of the dangers of the unbridled pursuit of power.

My only complaint is that the free review copy I read was in a sans serif type, which is not as easy on the eyes as traditional type, and since I couldn’t put the darn thing down, I was pretty bleary-eyed by the time I finished reading. Icky typeface or not, though, I’d do it again.

Review of ‘The Last Seminarian’

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Rico, a 90-year-old, lives with his divorced daughter, Veronica, who also happens to be his doctor. His biggest challenge in life is keeping his stash of erectile dysfunction pills hidden from Veronica, until his old friend Bill visits – virtually – and informs Rico that he’s dead and living in the computer. Worse, in Rico’s view, Bill invites him to join him to help with an impending crisis. In the meantime, Veronica is trying to deal with the crisis precipitated by the resurrection of a lethal virus that threatens everyone on earth.

The Last Seminarian by R.M. Damato is a hard novel to categorize. Part dystopian future novel, part science fiction, Seminarian takes the reader on a chaotic ride with Rico as his consciousness is transferred to a computer where he rejoins the friends from his youth in a seminary. This story is told against the brief backdrop of an alien visitation with a twist that the reader really won’t see coming – and, if that doesn’t whet your appetite for reading this book, you’re a jaded person.

I received a free review copy of Seminarian, but Damato is an author I will be adding to my book-buy list. His slightly off-beat, tongue-in-cheek manner of writing appeals to me. This was a good read – and, but for a few grammatical gaffes and typos would be an easy four-star effort. Never mind, though; it was one of the better three-star books I’ve read lately.

Review of ‘Santa Murders’

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Mystery author/private investigator Jim Richards is asked by one of the detectives in the agency he owns to look into death threats being received by a local mall Santa and eccentric preacher Harold Renford. He’s reluctant, but finally convinced to do it. What looked like a relatively routine surveillance operation turns ugly and complicated when a Vegas mobster is gunned down in a local hotel by a man dressed in a Santa costume, and the finger of suspicion is pointed at Renford.

In Santa Murders, the 31st Jim Richards’ family of mysteries by Bob Moats, you’re taken on a roller coaster ride of thrills and suspense as Richards finds himself caught up in mob machinations, greedy business deals, and marital infidelities. I’m tempted to say that Moats writes like Robert B. Parker, but that’s not fair to either, as both have singularly unique styles. No, Bob Moats writes like, well, Bob Moats – which is to say, extremely well.

I received a free review copy of Moat’s latest Richards family mystery offering, and I dearly hope that he’ll decide to end the series on an even number, rather than stop at 31.

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Review of ‘Where Secrets Lie’

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Kara Everitt is a police detective, driven to uphold the law and conflicted by the need to protect her adopted sister, Alyssa who is hanging out with a bad crowd. Just how bad she discovers when she learns that Alyssa has associated herself with a band of vampires, and become the servant of Logan. Things become even more complicated when Kara meets Michael, Logan’s childhood friend, and chief of a vampire clan.

The action becomes fast-paced and chilling as Kara finds herself strangely drawn to the enigmatic Michael, and caught up in vampire politics. Torn between a desire to save her sister and her growing attachment to Michael, she is soon immersed in affairs that she can barely comprehend, except to know that not only Alyssa’s life, but her own, hangs by a thread.

Where Secret’s Lie, a first novel by Ebony Kent, is a new and intriguing take on vampire tales, presenting vampires in a different light than the usual stories – as almost sympathetic figures, driven by the same emotions, desires, and fears as mortals.

I received a free review copy of Where Secret’s Lie, and found it a compelling read. A potentially fine novel, it is impaired, however, by a few structural defects that keep it from rising to the level of outstanding. Grammar glitches, such as the use of lie instead of lay, to instead of too and weighed down rather than weighted down, to name a few; detract from what is potentially a four-star book. One or two logical inconsistencies, such as Michael’s vampire hearing enabling him to ‘hear’ a conversation Kara is having in the next room, but unable to overhear his lover Kate’s muttering in the same room, need fixing. Despite these faults, I give it three stars for originality and creativity, and feel sure that the sequel, due for release in 2014 will rise to the level of writing that Kent is clearly capable of.

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Review of ‘The Memory Lights’

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Mary – Mad Molly – is afraid of the street lights, but she can’t remember why. Working as part of Colin Raynor’s gang of cut purses and pickpockets, she wanders London’s streets. She walks in a perpetual daze – trying to remember. When Colin is hired to break another felon, Matthew Magnuson, out of jail, events are set in motion that penetrate deeply into Mary’s fogged consciousness, dredging up vague memories that could be dangerous – dangerous to her and those around her.

In The Memory Lights, K.M. Weiland takes us on a scenic tour through a tortured mind. A gripping story that is hard to classify, Lights has elements of mystery, thriller, horror, and psycho-drama all effectively intertwined into a fast-moving narrative that was fun to read. A short book, it really qualifies as a novelette – although some people dislike the use of this diminutive word – or even a bound short story. Whatever, it’s just about the right length for the story being told.

I received a free review copy of this work, but it’s worth the investment of a purchase. Even though I reviewed an electronic copy, it’s the type I believe more effectively read in paper copy, so that the crinkling of pages being turned can add to the overall tingling effect of the story.

I gave it three stars because of some typos very early that, while they don’t take away from the effectiveness of the story necessarily, are distracting because of their obviousness.

Spellbound Winter Book Tour: Cover Reveal

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Here it is, fresh from Amazon, the cover to Sherry Soule’s Spellbound: Volume 1.

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Places you can cyberstalk Sherry Soule:

Official Website: http://sherrysoule.com

Official Blog: http://www.sherrysoule.blogspot.com

Official Spellbound Series Universe: http://thespellboundseries.blogspot.com

Twitter @WriterSherry: http://twitter.com/writersherry

goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4925996.Sherry_Soule

Daily Prompt: Textures

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Today’s prompt is Textures, which I’m showing photographically:

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

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This week’s photo challenge is Grand. You will never get any two people to agree on just what ‘grand’ means, because it means different things to different people. A thing can be grand because of size, importance, or just the feeling it arouses in you. Here’s my take.

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Review of ‘The Millionaire Map’

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“Who wants to be a millionaire?” The answer to that question could well be another question, “who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?” This has been the case since the adoption of currency, but in today’s age of declining economies, escalating personal debt, and looming financial insecurity, it is a more compelling desire than ever. There is no shortage of books on the market that purport to tell you ‘how to become a millionaire,’ but upon reading them, most of us are left as clueless as we started.

Not so with The Millionaire Map by best-selling author Jim Stovall. A blind ex-athlete who had to have a reader to help him get through college (a reader, by the way, whom he later married), Stovall went from the depths of poverty to multi-millionaire status, and he shares that journey with the reader in a practical, no tricks style that is all that a map should be – easy to understand, and, with the right measure of desire, dedication, and determination, not all that difficult to follow. Not too difficult, that is, if you know a few basic things: where you’re starting from, where you’re going, and why you want to go there.

A truly self-made multimillionaire, Stovall share his wisdom and experience as he went from the bottom to very near the top of the financial ladder. One of the most important things he imparts in this exemplary book is the definition of wealth – it’s not about the total amount of money you have, or even your appearance of wealth – it’s all about being financially able to live your life on your own terms. Stovall warns against being ‘all hat, and no cows,’ like the many people who through the use of easily available credit spend more than they make to create the appearance of wealth, but who are, in fact, spending more than they make. And, that is one of the best sign posts on his ‘millionaire map,’ – wealth is accumulated through spending less than you earn.

It’s simple, as Stovall writes, but not easy, because it takes being honest with yourself. I can honestly say that this book, which I received free as a review copy, is not just one of the best books on gaining financial independence I’ve read, but the best – bar none.

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