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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Introducing our newest family member

Back in February, we realized that our pups, Cookie was now 10 years old. And we had said that we were going to get another cockapoo when she turned 6. Missed it by "that" much. So, I was off and running, in search of a cockapoo puppy we could rescue. My travels took me to a city here in southern California called East Rancho Dominguez. I had seen a picture of this puppy, the rest of the litter and a picture of her mom, who looked just like my cockapoo. Except they were in a tiny dirty outside enclosure, soaking wet, filthy and  miserable. The owner claimed they were cockapoos. Not buying it, but they were cute lil things underneath the misery. I made my son go with me, to rein me in if my puppy savior complex became too problematic and I either tried to take them all, or they were obviously very ill and wouldn't be safe to bring home to my older dog.

We arrived in East Rancho Dominguez. My son pointed out that it wasn't a terribly nice neighborhood. Pit bulls chained in the front yard of every house, lots of people just standing around watching us closely. When the owner brought out the puppy to meet us, (past the chained up pit bull, who was NOT a fan of me...) she was dirty and a little mangy, but adorable. She appeared healthy, although she'd never seen a vet, and of course...I fell in love. I didn't think she was a cockapoo, but she was tiny and I figured if I didn't get her out of there soon, she'd become lunch for a huge, angry and well...hungry looking dog.

We arrived home, cute little 2# puppy in tow, stopped at the vet and started her shots, and YAY, received a good report on her health. That was back in February. And now she's almost a year. For grins and giggles, I did a doggie DNA test on her. The tests go all the way back to greatgrandparents. On one side, she is a purebred Yorkie, on the other, one great grandparent was as Bull Mastiff....I kid you not...who mated with a Toy Manchester terrier, and the other great grandparent was a Bernese Mountain dog, who mated with a Spanish Water dog/Pomeranian mix. Nope. No Cocker or Poodle anywhere.The Hubs says that's why she is so challenged....with those two giant dog brain cells floating around and taking up so much room, she doesn't have enough brain power for much else. I have no idea where she came from, but there is no way that the cockapoo I met in East Rancho Dominguez was her mom!  I wasn't surprised...she is adorable, but dumber than a box of rocks. Still not all the way house trained, and the cockapoo was trained in 2 weeks. But she's funny, sassy, playful and just down right wonderful.

Oh..and East Rancho Domiguez? Yeah....that used to be called East Compton. But they changed their name because...well..Compton...So....introducing, as my son calls her "Straight Outta Compton" puppy....weighing in at 6.41 pounds.......here's Bailey!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Plagued: The Ironville Zombie Quarantine Retraction Experiment (Plagued States of America Book Three)...could there be a longer title?

From the publisher:

"Book 3 of the Plagued States of America series.

When a helicopter carrying presidential hopeful Senator William Jefferson crashes in the Quarantine Zone, zombie half-breed Penelope Hope is enlisted into the most unorthodox rescue team ever assembled for a mission to save the very man leading the effort to wipe out her kind from the Plagued States of America...

With the recent destruction of Biter's Hill and Biter's Island, the last remaining sanctuary for uninfected humans inside the quarantine zone stands alone against the seemingly endless zombie horde. Tom and Penelope, survivors of the destruction at Biter's Hill, have taken up residence inside the Elevated Platform Station at Biter's Bend in the hopes of rehabilitating Penelope from her half-breed zombie past. Their plans of a normal life are put on hold, however, when Army Ranger Mason Jones arrives seeking asylum from the very man rallying against him, Tom's own father. When Tom's father's helicopter crashes deep inside the quarantine zone, Tom and Penelope enlist Mason Jones and other survivors of Biter's Island on a mission to rescue him."

My review:
 When I first saw this book on Net Galley, I didn't realize it was the third in a series. And, because it's how I roll....I can't just dive into a series, mid-stream, especially after reading the description. So I purchased and read Book One, Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment and, Book Two, Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment. The first two books do a decent job of setting up the series, but I'm still not very clear on the whole "half breed zombie" thing. Born to mothers who were bitten, just as they turned into zombies? The results of experiments gone bad? Were said experiments to make more zombies? Less zombies? An army of zombies? I might be confused on this particular plot line.

 And since I'm nitpickin' here....not a big fan of the author's pseudonym. It's like three random, but sort of related words just strung together, like a version of a facebook generated "What is your porn star name? The food you last ate and the street you grew up on...." Although I did do some checking and the author has a  reason for his pseudonym. He's a  "mainstream author" who fears that if he becomes known as a "zombie" writer, he won't be taken seriously in his literary fiction writing. So he has created a "label" as opposed to a pseudonym, which he wants to be reminiscent of the dime store pocket novels. Tomes of the Soul has an excellent interview with the author that you can find here.

Ok..on to Book 3, Plagued: The Ironville Zombie Quarantine Retraction Experiment.  The series is an interesting take on the zombie genre. The author has some original ideas, and they're executed pretty well. The characters are well drawn, and we can understand their motivations. And yet, for me at least, I finished the three books with a sense of ..."meh..that was ok. I guess." Will I await the next chapter in this series? Nah. Probably won't bother with it. And I won't recommend it to my equally zombie lit loving sister. That's mostly because she has this weird tic...(yeah, big sister, I called you weird in my blog,  *tee hee). She can't start a series and not read all of them. This woman actually read ALL of the Battlefield Earth books. ALL OF THEM. There's 10 of them! 10! And I think the author died after the first one, so most of them were ghost written. The first one was good, I'll give you that, but the next was soooo bad, I didn't finish it. And she read them ALL.  (wow....exit stage left on this review...) Wait....I guess I have a weird tic too, with the "need to read them from the beginning...." But at least I'll stop!

But I digress....lets finish this up,

Review copy provided by the publisher, Storyteller Press, via Net Galley. The opinions provided by yours truly.

My rating:
Author had some great ideas, but I couldn't get enthused.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nirvana by J.R. Stewart: Bliss or Bust?

Nirvana  is the first book of a new series by J.R. Stewart. It tells the tale of a very annoying "animal activist/punk rocker" named Larissa Kenders. Larissa goes by the name of Kenders, because she has some negative weirdness about her first name and well, she's just too much the badass activist /rocker to have an ordinary name. Her brilliant scientist significant other; Andrew,  has discovered something dreadful about this dystopian world in which they live, and has disappeared. Everyone thinks that Andrew is dead, but Kenders can communicate with him in a virtual world call Nirvana.

Aaaand....that's all I want to say about the plot. In many ways the novel is a typical dystopian novel, which I  frequently enjoy. Unfortunately, I  have to actually like somebody in the book to get behind it. And I've gotta say...this book is filled with very unlikable characters. Kenders is just irritating. All the animal activism....without thought for the outcome. "Hey...lets release all the minks from the mink farm! Aren't we brave and intrepid souls? Aren't we the only noble ones in the world who are saving these animals from death? Aren't we just WONDERFUL!" Ok...yeah. They saved the minks from becoming coats. I get that. And no, I don't wear fur, because its not my thing. But I'm betting that all those minks suddenly released into the wild after being fed their whole lives either starved to death or were eaten by predators. And the employees of the farm are now unemployed and can't feed their families. But yeah...you're a brave and intrepid activist, with a poetic soul that society just doesn't get. Blech...

 And don't yell at me. Of course I don't support mink farms, or testing lipstick on animals. But I'm not an idiot and I know you can't just release a captive animal into the wild and they will magically know how to survive.  And since I'm sure I'm the beneficiary of animal drug testing..*see previous cancer posts*, I have to come down on the side of testing for drugs. I like being alive and I may be a mean old woman, but if some critters made that possible, I'm grateful to them and appreciate their sacrifice. And don't get me started on the "misunderstood punk rocker with the soul of a poet that the world (and my mother) doesn't understand". Double Blech.

I was actually going to give up on this book at my 50 page rule, but it was an ebook with locations, not pages. I looked up the page count and was doing the math to determine the equivalent page to location, so I would know how far I had to go. My son walked by and inquired what I was up to. I explained...he said, "Don't be a pussy...it's 135 pages....read all of it...". Sigh...so I read the whole thing. The WHOLE THING. Damned kids. Okay, so I skimmed a bunch of it.  Read parts of it very quickly. Very. Quickly. But I finished it. So there.

Nirvana will be available on November 10th at your favorite bookstore. But...meh....not my thing....

(Review copy provided by the publisher, Blue Moon Publishers, via Net Galley. The opinions provided by yours truly.)

My rating: 
I’m sure lots of other people liked it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My second "cancerversary" and its during "Pinktober"....Good Gawd, y'all..

And you guessed it, I'm gonna rant a bit. I don't wish to be unkind to my sisters and occasional brother who have suffered through breast cancer. And God Bless Susan Komen's family who have changed the face of breast cancer and awareness of the disease. But....good Gawd y'all.....I'M AWARE ALREADY, how much more aware do I have to be? Since when did cancer become a marketing opportunity?

And in the meantime....guess which cancer kills the most people every year? Lung cancer....it affects over 700,000 people A YEAR, and it kills almost 175,000 each year!! Now I know, we all tend to look at lung cancer patients with a bit of a "well...were they smokers?" eye, but it seems to me, that if we had this gigantic "everything is pink" push for lung cancer, maybe we might make some headway into getting people not to smoke.

And now we're to the second deadliest cancer. Nope..still not the pink one, its good old colorectal cancer. As you know, I have some personal experience with this one, and it's weird to have the anniversary of the day I was diagnosed land smack dab in the middle of Pinktober. It sort of makes one feel like that really uncool and unpopular kid who always sat in the back of the classroom, just hoping to get noticed someday.

And finally, we hit the pink wall....the third deadliest cancer. Again, not to take away from breast cancer survivors, my grandma, aunt, and sister all fit that category. But please, stop already. Pink on all the NFL uniforms, pink on the top of the First Interstate building in L.A., benefit walks, shirts, coffee cups, bracelets...you name it...it's got a pink ribbon on it.

I shouldn't grump. I know. I do the whole breast cancer screening thing like I'm supposed to. But I also do the whole colonoscopy screening. I was late with my second colonoscopy...but only a year late. It had only been 4 years between "you had a non cancerous polyp that we removed", to "we found something and it doesn't look good". Four years for a cancer that is supposed to take 7-10 years to grow. And mine had grown so quickly that it was all the way through the wall of the large intestine and embedded into my abdominal wall. And, more importantly, I had absolutely no sypmtoms. I felt completely fine, I was completely normal. No stomach problems at all. (Until I lost 10% of my colon and subjected the remainder to 32 days of radiation and 8 rounds of chemo...now I have issues aplenty!) I figure at the speed that tumor was growing, if I'd been just a couple more months late for my colonoscopy, I probably wouldn't be here being the cantankerous "get off my lawn you whippersnappers" old lady today.

So I'd like to take this time...during breast cancer awareness month..to beg you all to have a colonoscopy when you're supposed to. Take care of your breast health. But please, please, please, don't ignore your colon health. I know how 'icky' the prep is. I get it. And I know it's just creepy to think about where that scope is going. But hey...they got good drugs! (Heck...I'd probably beat up and old man in an alley for these drugs...)  So do it. Your gut is as important as your boobs.

And all the breast cancer awareness walkers? Thank you, you did a wonderful thing. Now, how about next year, you find the closest Undy Run too, because well,... pooper cancer survivors have learned to laugh at themselves in the most embarrassing of situations, so you'd probably have a really great time raising money for another great cause.

And not to nag:

(Hey...it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to.....rant if I want .....rant if I want to....you would rant to if it....) Well...hell. Now THAT's gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the day......(And all you young whippersnappers...it's a song....It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to..  Lesley Gore sang it waaaaaaay back when....)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft: A Bullet Train of Suspense!

From the publisher:

Twenty years running from your past. Today it catches up.

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

Leah Mills lives a life of a fugitive – kept on the run by one terrible day from her past. It is a lonely life, without a social life or friends until – longing for a connection – she meets Julian. For the first time she dares to believe she can live a normal life.

Then, on the twentieth anniversary of that day, she receives a card. Someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed the life Leah has created.

But is Leah all she seems? Or does she deserve everything she gets?

Everyone has secrets. But some are deadly.

My review:

The Girl With No Past by Kathryn Croft is a bullet train that gains momentum as it screams into the station in a thrilling conclusion.     (Nope...there's no emphasis on  trains in the book...I'm just metaphorin' here....)

Meticulously crafted, the author shows us the teen years of the protagonist, Leah, as well as chapters in the present tense. (insert Groucho eyebrows...and boy...are they tense!!) Throughout the years, I've read a LOT of  suspense/ thriller novels, and I've become pretty good at predicting the ending, who the villain is, and usually can see twists in the plot before they appear. Or at least, get a good idea as to where this is all headed. Oh. My. Goodness. The Girl With No Past was inscrutable to me. I kept pinning the villain role on different people. And the actual villain was one I just considered in passing and discarded quickly. The motivation of the novel, was, well...pretty novel. I didn't see that coming either. And although, thanks to the prologue, I knew where the book would end up, I had absolutely no idea why or how.  I actually went back after I finished the book and reread the prologue to see if I had missed any foreshadowing. Ms. Croft makes excellent use of the alternating chapters, every other chapter is a flashback, and the suspense builds throughout. Not only do we have a feeling of dread while we see where the young Leah is probably headed, but we have the same feelings with regards to the present day Leah. We know bad stuff is coming, we just aren't sure what, or who, or why. The Girl With No Past really is, as advertised on the cover....a gripping psychological thriller!

The book is available on October 15th. My advice? Head to your favorite bookstore, either cyber or brick and pick up or order a copy!!

(Review copy provided by the publisher, Bookouture via Net Galley. The opinions provided by yours truly!)

My Rating:  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Undying by Ethan Reid, a unique entry into post-apocayptic fiction!

In The Undying by Ethan Reid, an unknown calamity has befallen the planet. leaving nothing but death, destruction and oh yes...there be monsters. (Because the earth can't just drop dead...it's going to drop dead with panache!)

It's a little hard to categorize this novel. Apocalyptic--check. Post apocalyptic--check. Zombie--yup. Or are they Vampires? Certainly the monsters in this novel are different than your garden variety zombie/vampire/werewolf lit!

Jeanie, a complex young woman,  and her best bud Ben, have just arrived in Paris for a New Year's blowout bash. When they wake up, hung over and feeling crummy on New Year's Day, they find the world has gone to Hell. Now they must survive Paris if they have a hope of returning to the U.S. and their families.

We never discover the certain source of the worlds end in this novel. Comet strikes, nuclear missiles, aliens, it's all just speculation. And the source of the monsters, again, completely unknown. The monsters even change and evolve throughout the book, and all this uncertainty builds suspense.

My thoughts on The Undying were equally uncertain. At one point, I almost stopped reading, but I couldn't develop a clear reason why I didn't want to finish the book. It wasn't slow or lagging, the protagonist was a great character, and her conflicts were often unique and quite interesting. Honestly, the only thing I could come up with....Ugly American that I am, was the frequent use of the French language. I know....I KNOW! The book is set in France, what the hell else would they speak??? Totally unreasonable of me. Totally. And that was weird. I wasn't bothered in the least when Japanese was spoken frequently in Shogun. The use of Spanish in novels isn't worrisome either. I usually like trying to figure out what they're all saying. So I really don't know what the hell my problem was with French. Maybe it was that many of the French characters were so quick to dismiss Jeanie derisively as "et Americain". I did wonder if these French characters were pandering to our American stereotype of the French. Heck, maybe I'm the epitome of an American stereotype to the French. Then I wondered if stereotypes exist for a reason....hmmm....circular thinking makes my brain hurt...

The book ends in a kind of "non ending " fashion, not  completely satisfying, but leading me to wonder if the author has plans for sequels. And many sequels could come from this. I would be interested to know what was happening in the United States during all this, especially to Jeanie's mother, and Ben's family. The book refers to events in Brazil, which would make a good book as well. And of course, I'd love to see how/if/when the world rebuilds from this disaster. Or what the genesis of the disaster is for that matter!

I'm glad I stuck with the book, it was a solid and satisfying read. And I really do hope that this is the beginning of a series. I do love a good series, and I think The Undying is begging for a sequel. If you're a fan of post-apocalyptic novels, with strong female leads, this one should go on your "To Be Read" pile!

(Review copy provided by Simon & Shuster, via Net Galley. Opinions provided by yours truly!)

My rating: 


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Brother by Ania Ahlborn? Creepy, gory and scary!

I'm not a fan AT ALL, of gory, creepy, "hang people on a meathook" slasher flicks. And yet, I don't mind the genre at all book wise. Brother by Ania Ahlborn is just that type of book. ( Which probably indicates that I am seriously twisted in many ways....)

In Ania Ahlborn's "Brother",  we meet Michael Morrow,  and his completely batshit crazy Deliverance meets Psycho meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre family. Michael was kidnapped as a very young boy by the Morrow family, and brought into this horrifying household. His older brother, "Reb" is just a sick and twisted as "Momma Morrow", and gleefully joins into the family business of kidnapping and murder. His passive/aggressive/enabling father, Wade, is a terrifying, yet almost a wee little touch sympathetic. (Or is that pathetic??) There are also two Morrow sisters, Michael and Reb's sisters, who both add some small amount of humanity to the family. The brothers participate in the *ahem, "family business", which involves stalking, kidnapping, torturing, murdering and dismembering victims for Momma's pleasure. (I'm not exactly sure what they do for actual jobs that keep the electricity flowing...and yes, practical weirdo that I am...I did wonder....)

It's interesting how the family dynamic is developed. Although individually, pretty much every member of the family is warped beyond our understanding, we still manage to find shreds of humanity in each one. (Ok...Momma and Reb might just be completely inhuman and thoroughly terrifying creatures....) The author manages to weave a narrative that explains this family, but manages to never  excuse them. There are a few surprising twists, one of which I sort of speculated about prior to actually getting to that point in the book.. (see above...seriously twisted reader...). I suppose the fact that I was thinking about the book when washing the dishes probably indicates my interest level! Brother is creepy, gory and hideously disturbed and disturbing in very many ways. But it was different, and it kept my interest. And even though I wish it had ended differently, I really can't think of a different ending that would have worked for this story.

If you have a low tolerance for mayhem, murder and gore, you might want to avoid this one. If you aren't too creeped out  by loads of violence when it's central to the plot, then you'll want to pick this one up. It's a disturbing, but interesting read.

(Review copy provided by Gallery Books via Net Galley. The opinions provided by yours truly!)

My rating: