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review 2019-11-13 08:12
History and Historical Romance
It Started with a Scandal: Pennyroyal Green Series - Julie Anne Long

I tend to get all breathless and twitterpated when I discover a new historical romance writer I enjoy, sending out profligate hold requests at the library. That was the case with Julie Anne Long, whose Lady Derring Takes a Lover was so beautifully choleric on the ingrained sexism of the time, and features a found family plot and exquisitely rendered female relationships. I maybe don't need to say this, but I will anyway: as much I enjoy a historical, the baked in acceptance of social norms which are, to put mildly, antique, and to put more specifically, fucked beyond the telling of it, makes me often quite itchy while I read.


This is figleafed in ur average historical romance: industrialists are all, to a man, fair minded and generous, having acquired their fortunes without being the rapacious monsters they all, to a man, were. The aristocrats -- the dukes and earls and the like -- may have daddy issues, struggling under the injurious regard of their Old Testament fathers, but these paternal and paternalistic dinosaurs are emblematic of a outdated mode of lording over great swaths of land and hundreds, maybe thousands of people. These new sons are embodiments of a New Aristocracy, one that views its marriages as meritocracies, the perfect embodiment of noblesse oblige. 


I was just reading one recently where the industrialist romantic lead mentioned offhand his ownership of cotton mills, and my mind leapt right to tour of Lowell, MA I took some years ago. Lowell is a locus of both early American industrialization, and the inevitable labor movements that follow once people grow weary of being ground down by engines, spitted by the spearpoint of progress. (It is also the hometown of Jack Kerouac.) That's the problem with historicals: they are inescapably based on history, which features a boot on a throat in one permutation or another for as far back as one can manage.  


So, the endgame of this little diatribe was some dissatisfaction with It Started With a Scandal. On every objective metric, this is a fine novel, with excellent characterization, smooth pacing, and well drawn sexual tension. Long is a smart, interesting writer, and I will continue to read the shit out of her back catalog. However, I was never quite able to get over the fact that our romantic lead was a prince of Burgundy or Bourbon or somesuch, a French aristocrat who fled France during the Revolution. He's very put out by the fact that his ancestral lands are not in his family's possession anymore, and spends much time glowering and throwing vases in fits of pique. The leading lady, his housekeeper, vouchsafes to feel bad for him quite enormously. She is herself just weeks from penury -- she and her child -- so she knows what it is to lose things. 


To which I say: bah. The French aristocracy deserved to have their heads separated from their necks. They were indolent, greedy, dissolute shits whose venality resulted in the abject poverty and misery of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people. So boo fucking hoo about getting run out of the country where our hero was born into incredible wealth and privilege. (I may have my back up after seeing some billionaire -- there are only 600 or so in America, a listable group of people -- literally crying on television because someone might tax him commensurate with his wealth. Meanwhile millions of Americans go bankrupt or just fucking die due to a medical insurance system designed to maximize profits at a brutal human cost. Fuck, and I can't stress this enough, every single billionaire.) 


I am aware of, and engage in quite happily, the sort of historical blindness required to enjoy a historical romance. I am not going to nitpick inconsistencies unless they are egregious and/or not in service of the final resolution. But sometimes I'm in my own place in history, where I cannot unsee the parallels to current, ongoing, often fatal injustices in the world. I am not going to waste time feeling bad for people who have had everything and then some given to them by accident or birth who, just occasionally, feel thwarted in their every impulse. Our heroine's soft-heartedness looks soft-headed. 


I've said this before, but I'm going to repeat it: every romance has the echoes of a less satisfactory conclusion embedded within it. Without the invisible authorial hand, our housekeeper's life would end in brutal poverty, discarded by a "polite" society predicated on systematic exploitation. Mostly I'm satisfied with these romantic revisions -- that is the point of a historical romance novel, n'est-ce pas? I can and do acknowledge this freakout is largely on me -- I do not want to enbussen Long, who seems a very fine writer, because of a personal convergence of things. But sometimes I just can't. The romantic conclusion ends up seeming such a petty, priapic thing, the tumescence of love blotting out all impediments to our lovers, even the important, necessary, and structural ones. 


Probably I should just back way from historical romance for the time being, library holds notwithstanding, until some improbable time when our brutal history is less brutal. I'll be busy holding my breath. 

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text 2019-11-13 02:55
Topical antioxidants can be effective in protecting against

For example by looking for vitamin C you may find it in active form and substantial quantities in Rosehip seed extract or oil. They might not be appropriate for your skin type and they can trigger skin damage. Antioxidants found naturally in their milieu, such as herbal extracts or oils are most likely more active than the same isolated antioxidants. The richer environment in antioxidants, the greater protection against free radicals (ROS) is expected. Researches have been shown that topical vitamin C and E, as well as the mineral selenium can protect against sunburn, suntan and skin cancer.


Usually, it is recommended to use creams, lotions and mineral make-up with sunscreen capabilities to protect your skin against UVB radiation. It was also shown that topical application is several times more effective than oral administration of these antioxidants. UVB radiation easily penetrates the epidermis and stimulates melanocytes, one of the cells types on the epidermis to produce a brownish pigment called melanin. Further Sea Buckthorn oil is Vitamin Series extremely rich in carotenoids, vitamin E and selenium. For example, vitamin C must be non-esterified and has to be acidic, vitamin E must be non-esterified and has to be the isomer, D-alpha tocopherol.


There is no wonder that the Russian cosmonauts have been using Sea Buckthorn base creams to protect themselves against cosmic radiation. The collagenous constituents of dermis, responsible for the skin's strength, show marked alterations in their composition. The reactive oxygen resulted from a dissociation of molecular oxygen in atomic oxygen has high affinity for different organic molecules, increasing their potential for oxidation, which can affect proteins structure, causes local inflammation and initiates several unfavorable skin cell reactions.


However, sun UVB blockers constituents, such as the derivatives of cinnamon (cinnamic aldehyde, cinnamic oil, octyl methoxycinnamate), PABA ( para- aminobezoic acids) and esters or salicylates (octyl salicylates , triethanolamine salicylate) can cause allergic reactions, irritation and might photosensitizes your skin. Sunscreen agents with SPF of 15 or greater are considered sun blocks because they may absorb more than 92% of UVB radiation. UVB rays are shorter and are responsible for the sunburns we feel when our skin is unprotected. It has been already shown the important role of carotenoids in prevention and treatment of different cancer types due to their antioxidant capabilities. This radiation is responsible for the acceleration of the skin aging process by breaking down the collagen and elastin tissues. The experts compare the therapeutic qualities of grape seed extract with those of Pycnogenol, a very powerful and expensive antioxidant used as an alternative treatment for heart and cancer disease. In conclusion, be careful when select your sun blocker creams, lotions and make-up. For highly UV protection, I recommend the usage of skin care products based on complex combination of antioxidants. UVA rays cause skin tanning, age spots, and wrinkling of the skin, as well as contribute to the development of skin cancer.Solar UV radiation (UVA and UVB) produces reactive oxygen species (ROS), within both dermal and epidermal cells. UVA goes deeper into the skin and cause major changes in the dermis.


Topical antioxidants can be effective in protecting against and reversing photodamage of the skin. Currently, there is no standard method to assess sunscreen agents for UVA protection. However, the researches have been shown that microscopic particles of titanium dioxide, also called nano-particles, may increase the formation of free-radicals (reactive oxygen species) onto the skin. Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide reflect radiation and reduce the chance of an allergic skin reaction. Selenium is active only when applied topically as L-selenomethionine. The most valuable flavonoids in grape seed extract are proanthocyanidins, commonly called PCOs. Not all antioxidants act in the same way to protect your skin. Only certain forms of these antioxidants are stable and active after absorption onto the skin. Melanin protects the skin by absorbing and scattering ultraviolet rays. Grape seed extract is rich in flavonoids and phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties, which some consider are even greater than vitamin C and vitamin E. Both layers of the skin, epidermis (the upper layer) and dermis (the lower layer) are affected by UV rays

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review 2019-11-12 11:25
"Bird Box" by Josh Malerman - highly recommended
Bird Box - Josh Malerman

Josh Malerman knows where our fear lives. 


It's not in the gushing splatter of arterial blood or in staring into the eyes of a predator ready to pounce or in fighting for your life with something monstrous. These spike our adrenalin, call on us to fight or flee and then they are gone.


Real fear, the kind that eats at you with the slow relentlessness of rust, comes from living with a threat you cannot fight or run away from. Real fear, the kind that hunkers down in your mind and stays there, comes from being vulnerable and helpless for long periods of time, from knowing the threat is there but not when it will strike, from understanding that surviving the last hour doesn't lessen the threat of the next.


In "Bird Box" Josh Mallerman has created the perfect situation for extended exposure to deep, corrosive fear. He creates a world were seeing something, no one knows what, will make you kill others and then yourself. Where sight, the sense we all depend on most, becomes a threat, not a defence. Where anyone, including you, can become an enemy in an instant. Then he locks a group of people house that at first seems like a haven but slowly becomes a cage, and lets the fear fester and the tension build until threat is a constant unwelcome companion.


Early in the book, there's a scene with one of the men from the house fetching water from the well. He's blindfold but he's done this many times before. He's has a rope around his waist, held by a housemate. There are sticks to mark his path. He tells himself that if he follows the routine, he'll be safe. Then he thinks he hears... what? who? how close?


Malerman turns that walk to the well into a scene more heart-thumping than a face-to-face confrontation with the nightmare creature of your choice.


This goes straight for where our fears live. 


I won't reveal the plot but I will say that I stayed up late to finish "Bird Box" because I couldn't go to sleep without knowing how the book ended.


If you haven't read it already, I recommend it to you. It's as close to perfect as a horror book can get. The tension is almost unbearable. The fear is visceral. The people are real. The events, well they're a perfect mix of heartbreak and hope.

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review 2019-11-11 17:58
Jaw Dropping Debut – The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen @slipperywhisper
The Vanishing Season: A Mystery - Joanna Schaffhausen

Every so often I will follow an email link from NetGalley and check out what’s happening. I try to limit how many books I grab at one time…you know how that is. I found some books by Joanna Schaffhousen and grabbed a couple. I would like to thank NetGalley, Minotaur Books and Joanna Schaffhausen for the opportunity to read and share them.

The cover definitely fits the story.


The Vanishing Season (Ellery Hathaway, #1)

Amazon / Audiobook / Goodreads




The Vanishing Season is Joanna Schaffhausen’s debut novel, released in 2017…and, boy oh boy, is it a good one. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it gave me so much more.


Three people have gone missing and Ellery Hathaway knows they are dead and another will be taken very soon. Sam dismisses her warnings, but she won’t stop there. Sam is not only her boss, the chief of police, but also her lover, her married lover. I sure don’t approve of that, but as I read on, I could see how it happened. She uses sex as a weapon. That will have it’s own repercussions.


Woodbury, Massachusetts is a small town, a blink and you will miss it, with only eight police officers. I love to read of small towns, the gossip mill, and secrets that won’t stay secret. Ellery has a big one, but…


Ellery calls in the big guns, Reed Markham, an FBI profiler that had saved her from the serial killer that had taken her fourteen years ago, leaving her scarred and broken. He too has his own story. His marriage is on the rocks, but he had made a promise to her, so when she called, he came.


I love her basset hound, Speed Bump. LOL Critters always add some grins for me, and with a subject like serial killers, I need some chuckles.


The dog leapt from the vehicle with all the grace of a hippo performing a belly flop.

I have plenty of suspects, but two in particular have my attention. Even if I’m wrong, I don’t like them. LOL I do like to try and figure it out for myself as we follow clues, question witnesses, and try look for what others have missed.


There is no romance, though I know there are more books coming, so I wonder. I mean, just think about it, her body is scarred and so is her mind. She doesn’t want anyone in her house. Doesn’t want anyone touching her. And doesn’t want to share her secret. After what she’s been through, I can see why she protects herself, so who could possible get through the walls she has built up but the one person she trusts?


I am at 38% and my tension level is high, the pace is picking up, making me feel like the end is near, nut, there’s so much of the story left. I can only imagine what Joanna Schaffhausen has in store for her characters. I am lovin’ it.


I am filled with horror at the terrible things one person can do another, as the bits and pieces of Ellery’s captivity leaks out, each detail worse than the last.


Well…I didn’t see him coming. It takes a lot for an author to fool me so completely, especially near the end, but she had me eying the wrong guy until a page or two before he attacked. He was well camouflaged, but I will be on my toes with the next case, expanding my suspect list and reading between the lines.


Man oh man, I am so glad I took a chance on Joanna Schaffhausen. I had never heard of her. She kept me riveted from beginning to end and I can hardly wait for Book II, No Mercy. BRING IT ON!


I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos5 Stars




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Source: www.fundinmental.com/vanishing-season-joanna-schaffhausen
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review 2019-11-11 12:07
#Fate - Cambria Hebert

This is book #6, in the GearShark series.  This book should not be read as a standalone novel.  It contains spoilers, and for complete understanding of this series, these should be read in the order intended.


Drew experiences a tragedy and the whole family comes together to help him and Trent.  Little does he know what is being done and said while he is not there to witness.  Good thing this family is built solid.


Trent faces his own fears as well as an old enemy who tries to come between his happiness.  With his family around him, can he stay strong?  When it all comes down to it love will always find a way.


I found this story very emotional.  I am very grateful the author wrote it and put it out there for us to read.  These characters are very real to me and I was so grateful to have the chance to check in on where they are now.  The old faves are there too and it is just a fabulous read.  I found the story deep and dark and compelling.  The characters made my heart ease and despite the tears, I am glad to have been there.  I give this a 5/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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