Month: November 2014
Seasons of the Fool by fantasy author Lynne Cantwell is a bit different from her other novels. Cantwell introduces us to Julia Morton Michaud, about to be divorced from her husband Lance Michaud, who is about to be convicted of fraud. Julia decides to move back to the cottage in Michiana on the shores of Lake Michigan where she grew up. Back home, she begins to confront memories from her past as she navigates toward an uncertain future.
Julia’s situation is complicated when she encounters a love from her past, Dave Turner, who is himself ensnared in a loveless marriage; Ron Gorski, a handyman with a shady past; and two elderly neighbors, Elsie and Thea, who have unknown to her played a key role in her life for years.
Cantwell plunges the reader deep into Julia’s life with her deft phrasing and in-depth descriptions of the characters and setting. True to her fantasy background, there’s a touch of magic in the story, only hinted at, though, which makes it all the more compelling.
You’ll be on the edge of your seat as Julia faces one challenge after another, moving inexorably toward the destiny that has been foreordained for her.
I received an advance review copy of Seasons of the Fool, and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I can guarantee you, it’ll affect you the same way. I’ve read Cantwell’s Pipe Woman Chronicles books, and they were good – but, this one is even better. Five stars.
When four rich Jewish residents of Nassau County, New York are gunned down at a birthday party, law enforcement agencies immediately fear terrorist activity. But, when other rich people, of all genders, religions, and ethnicities, start becoming victims of the mysterious sniper, they realize they have something far more dangerous on their hands – a motivated loner with a mission.
The killer, only identified near the end of the book, is shown to us through his first person thoughts and actions, and is the book’s main character. NYPD officer Owen Cullen, who happens to live in Nassau County where the first killings occur, is a co-main protagonist – a sort of plain Joe who is torn between his sense of duty and obligations to his family.
Action is non-stop and nail-biting as the NYPD and FBI race to stop the killer, the 00.1% worry about who’ll be next, and the media (some of it) turns the events into a circus.
I received a free copy of I Kill Rich People by Mike Bogin for review. With the exception of a few grammatical gaffes, typos, and formatting glitches, it is a well-written thriller that addresses profound issues. The author does a good job of keeping the reader guessing, and the characters – even the killer who is not identified until very late in the book – are full dimensioned people with whom many of us can readily identify. Although I didn’t think it necessary, the author includes some discussion questions at the end of the book that are, I believe, intended to make readers think more deeply about the issues raised in the story.
Issues aside, a good read that I highly recommend for thriller fans. Despite the grammar problems, I’m giving it four stars.
I can’t quit, though, without sharing a photo for the final assignment – Triumph. This dog gone bird, after chasing all the other birds away, shows triumph and bravado in every feather.
I’ve not been able to do all the assignments, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I did do. Been sitting here on Black Friday catching up on book reviews and outlining my new novel, but as i go into the weekend, when I’ll be totally focused on these two tasks, I’d like to share some photos I took on Thanksgiving Day near my daughter’s home in Woodbine, Maryland in neighboring Howard County – a mainly rural county.
Again, I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. This is for Photography 101: Double.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I’m taking a stab at the Photography 101 theme Edge here. I’ll let the photo speak for itself:
Coined in the 1960s to mark the start to the Christmas shopping season, ‘Black Friday,’ or the Friday after Thanksgiving, is one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States. It is the period when most businesses move from ‘red’ to ‘black’ profit-wise.
While it’s not an official holiday, coming as it does after Thanksgiving Thursday, many workers (except those working in retail stores) get it off. While Black Friday might be a happy day for owners of stores that finally start to show a profit, it has to be Bleak Friday for many of their employees who often give up Thanksgiving with their families for the sales that sometimes start on Thursday. Retail giants like Walmart and J.C. Penny, for example, begin their Black Friday sales the afternoon or evening before, meaning that their workers have to give up a significant portion of their holiday. While I’m sure they get holiday pay (at least, I would hope they do), it hardly seems to compensate for the missed time with family.
Now, I have to begin by confessing that I have never done a Black Friday sale. When I do Christmas shopping, it’s either done in September and October, or the week before Christmas. I don’t really celebrate, but I do buy gifts for my children (when they were small) and now for my grandchildren.
Being aware of how Black Friday impacts many retail workers, I’m glad I’ve never been tempted. Added to this, there’s the fact that we have this period celebrating conspicuous consumption at a time when nearly 7 million households in the U.S. don’t have enough food to eat, and nearly 4 million are unable to provide sufficient, nutritious food for their children. We have more than 40 million people living in poverty, and some 20 million live in extreme poverty (making less than $10,000 per year for a family of four).
While many politicians seem to delight in blaming the poor themselves for their poverty, the U.S. political and economic systems are primarily to blame. In our free enterprise economy, companies are not creating enough jobs for everyone, and the top echelons of business tend to allocate the lion’s share of profit to themselves. Our political system, which one would think would focus on the needs of the people, tends to have other concerns. Military and security expenditures, for instance, make up half of U.S. federal discretionary expenditures; corporations and the rich have greater lobbying power, and as a consequence tax breaks and subsidies tend to benefit them more; and, the Democratic Party; once the party of the working man, focuses on the middle class, often to the detriment of the poor.
As a consequence of this, we have a culture of inequality, with people segregated by income and sometimes race or ethnicity. With jobs scarce and wages low, the lack of income leads many low income people to dysfunctional behavior, creating a vicious cycle – in other words, poverty often leads to more poverty.
Okay, this is my last one – promise. London’s architecture is unique, a combination of old and new that is somehow still uniquely English.
Grabbing that quick shot that tells a story is often difficult. Light is poor, and subjects are moving, and you get strange reflections. Then again, that in itself can make an interesting composition.
During the past week in London, one of the areas that caught a lot of my attention was Buckingham Palace. Partly because I was staying at the Royal Air Force Club, just across Green Park from the palace, making it easy to get to, but also because of the history of the place. The guards are not as colorfully dressed during the dreary fall and winter, but still impressive.
I started with a shot of the palace from Green Park.
This was shot around 4:00 pm, when the sky was already starting to darken, and lights come on inside the building. This helps to establish the size of the structure. I was also impressed by the statue and fountain in front of the gates, which attract less attention than the palace itself, but are in many ways even more impressive. Take the water gushing from the mouths of the figures, for instance. You cannot help but be drawn to that.
One’s attention is drawn to the ornate gates and the crowds gathered around them; then the building itself:
Finally, we have the Buckingham Palace guards and these two photos I got just before it got too dark to get good exposures:
I was in London for the past week, and while I took a lot of photos, I wasn’t in a place where I could do a photo blog and post it, so I’m playing catch-up this weekend, starting with the subject Landscape.
It’s not necessary to manipulate light or take photos of an unrecognizable object to convey a sense of mystery. What, for instance, is on the other side of this passageway? A photo that implies something hidden or unseen is just as mysterious as an unidentifiable object or unusual color and lighting – don’t you agree?
Awesome Allshorts have just published its latest short story anthology subtitled Last Days, Lost Ways. This collection of 26 stories were handpicked from both emerging and established writers from Europe, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Amy Spahn, Bill Kirton, Bruce Louis Dodson, Charles Ray, Colleen Grimes, C. Jay, Dixiane Hallaj, G.J. Berger, Joan Kerr, Jonathan Gould, Kate Policani, Kathleen Jones, M T. McGuire, Marsha Cornelius, Mary Maddox, Richard Bunning, Shauna Bickley, Simon J. Townley, Tahlia Newland, and Thaddeus Howze present a peek into the spectacular moments everyday life holds, but with a twist.
The collection opens with a bang with a story by Tahlia Newland. Intriguing to the last paragraph, I was surprised to find it was an excerpt from her newest project. It sits perfectly as a short story and a wonderful teaser into what looks to be an exciting premise.
Each story has an incredible depth and…
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