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review 2018-07-09 22:06
Ocean Light
Ocean Light - Nalini Singh

If I believed in such a thing, the Psy-Changeling series would be a "guilty pleasure." While I don't believe in guilt-reading -- that's ridiculous -- there are aspects of the series that make me me feel kinda embarrassed. Any romance involving one of the changelings -- and they are always predatory changelings -- is so hopelessly mired in kinky Victorian notions of biological determinism and dominance and submission. I mean, that's usually what you find in animal shifter narratives, so Singh isn't outside the norm, but I know I'm going to have to grit my teeth through that stuff to get to the extremely cool mythology she's been spinning for almost 20 novels now. (I don't have the same problem with the Psy, who are Vulcan-like psychics, because their romances tend to center around recovery from severe abuse and personal sexual awakening, which I find much more interesting than YOU MAH WOMAN GRARR.)

 

Technically, Psy-Changeling wrapped up with Allegiance of Honor, which was a sort of clip show, where we checked back in with literally everyone who had ever been mentioned in the previous 14 books. I get why it was written that way, but romance epilogues make my teeth ache, and this was more than a dozen of them all piled up. It was also a letdown because the previous three novels, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, and Shards of Hope, are hands down the best novels in the series. Singh brings all of her complicated mythology to full flower in those novels, and in ways that make the romance plot absolutely integral to the narrative. Heart of Obsidian especially. That they're a dozen novels deep in a series makes them even more impressive; Singh had the opposite of burnout. 

 

Silver Silence, the novel directly previous to Ocean Light, was the first of the novels in Psy-Changeling Trinity, which details life after the fall of Silence (a form of widespread social conditioning practiced by the Psy designed to repress all emotion.) Like Ocean Light, it follows a character seen on the periphery for most of the series: Silver Mercant, personal assistant to all-around badass Kaleb Krychek. She falls in with a bear pack outside of Moscow, which was interesting because we've never seen bear changelings in action before. Bear changelings end up being annoying, but then they're not as drearily serious as either the cats or the wolves, so on the balance more fun to read about.

 

Like Silver Silence, Ocean Light centers on a peripheral group, one that has heretofore been shrouded in mystery: the BlackSea pack, the changeling clan that encompasses the entirety of the earth's oceans. Even the land-bound changelings think of them as out there. While we've encountered some of the BlackSea characters in Psy-Changeling novels, specifically Miane, the alpha, and her security guy, the pack itself has been secretive. BlackSea takes in Bowen Knight, head of the Human Alliance, in order for BlackSea scientists to remove a degrading chip in Knight's head. We've met Bowen many times before. As the head of the Human Alliance, he's tangled with both the Psy and changelings (both of whom tend to treat humans like butt monkeys).

 

The romance largely consists of Bowen and the BlackSea chef, Kaia, making eyes at one another while agonizing about how Bowen might die from a medical procedure. It's not particularly compelling. The non-romance plot has to do with ongoing kidnappings of BlackSea members, kidnappings that seem to be perpetrated by the Human Alliance. Knight and Miane's security guy work towards figuring out who the traitors in their organizations must be, but mostly through phone calls and data searches, so that plot-line isn't particularly compelling either. There is some movement at the very end, but reading about a grueling transatlantic flight isn't exactly action either. 

 

BlackSea itself, though, was interesting to read about. There’s still a fair amount we don’t know about the pack – pack members tend to be especially secretive about what their animal is – but the underwater city was beautifully rendered. While shifter narratives almost never address bestiality – and I am not suggesting they should – there was an ongoing tentacle-sex gag going on here that surprised a laugh out of me. All considered, Ocean Light was fine, but I felt like more could have been done with both BlackSea and Bowen Knight, alas.  

 

 

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text 2018-07-06 00:20
Summer of Spies - Tracking Post
Smiley's People - John le Carré
The Cutout - Francine Mathews
Collection: The Tailor of Panama / Our Game / The Night Manager - John le Carré
Black Roses - Jane Thynne,Julie Teal
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene,Jeremy Northam
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 - Stella Rimington
Who is Vera Kelly? - Rosalie Knecht,Elisabeth Rodgers
Berlin Game - Len Deighton,James Lailey
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes

Memorial Day Weekend -- Labor Day 2018

 

Finished, to Date:

Emmuska Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio, narrated by Stephen Crossly) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: N or M? (revisited on audio, narrated by Samantha Bond) ***

Ian Fleming: Quantum of Solace (short story only; new / audio, narrated by David Rintoul) *1/2

Kate Westbrook: Guardian Angel (new / audio, narrated by Eleanor Bron) ***1/2

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset (new / audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor) ****

Stella Rimington: Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 (new / print edition) ****

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new / audio, narrated by Trini Alvarado) **1/2

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new / audio, narrated by Julie Teal) ****

John le Carré: The Tailor of Panama (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) ****1/2

Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (audio, narrated by Jeremy Northam) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: They Came to Baghdad (new / audio, narrated by Emilia Fox) ***1/2

Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new / audio, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers) ***1/2

Len Deighton: Berlin Game (new / audio, narrated by James Lailey) ****

 

John Le Carré: George Smiley Cycle

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) *****

The Looking Glass War (new / audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) ***1/2

Smiley's People (revisited on audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) *****


 

Currently Reading:

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion
 

 

 

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review 2018-07-02 09:31
Detailed story about refugees escaping from civil war in Sri Lanka.
The Boat People - Sharon Bala

The Boat People, Sharon Bala, author

The author states that this novel was inspired by true events. Boats carrying large numbers of Tamil asylum seeking refugees, from Sri Lanka, arrived in British Columbia in 2009 and 2010.  I did look up the event and found that the refugees said they were fleeing the terror and violence of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Although the author does not discuss this aspect of the mass departure, except possibly in a cursory fashion, these events threatened to overwhelm the Canadian resources and forced the politicians to begin to rethink their open door policy which was making them a target for asylum seekers. The author, instead, stresses the aftermath of their arrival in which all of the refugees were detained, arrested, questioned and imprisoned for lengthy periods of time to await the adjudication of their cases, often with untrained and inexperienced judges. Would they be allowed to stay or would they be deported which most refugees believed was a death sentence? Still, I kept thinking, at least these boats weren’t turned back like the St. Louis was forced to do, during WWII. It was sent back to Europe where the Nazis possibly awaited them. At least the Sri Lankans still had hope. The Jews had despair.

In the novel, the Canadian government feared that there were human smugglers among the refugees, and that there might even be escaping terrorists hidden within the group that truly was in need of asylum. This situation is eerily similar to the current problems facing the United States today, with illegal immigrants attempting to gain asylum by sneaking into the country rather than by going in through the front door to be legally processed. Admittedly, that process is lengthy, but law-abiding citizens are penalized by those who cut the line strictly for financial advantage. The politicians play to the emotional side of their supporters, using the illegal immigration issue as a pawn, either for or against absorbing them. Those for open borders want to ignore the financial cost and security concerns. Those against illegal immigration want to stress the danger of the stranger, which can be real. All arguments have an element of truth. Unfortunately, often, emotions rather than common sense rule the day. The squeaky wheel gets the oil and attention, often unwarranted and with dangerous implications. Social media fans the flames of unrest.

The novel stresses the reasons that people seek asylum. The Sri Lankan refugees were not seeking financial benefit, although it could become a byproduct of asylum; they were seeking security from the horrors taking place in their own country, a country they once loved and would prefer to have remained in, if they were not systematically being kidnapped or attacked and murdered. The novel illuminates the lengths to which people will go to save themselves and/or their families. Often, they broke the law, cheated each other and lied when they never would have done so before.

The cast of characters the author describes is very diverse and presents many sides of the immigration issue, even the internment of the Japanese and other Sri Lankan conflicts are front and center. Oddly, though, in the context of WWII, she does not even mention the plight of the Jews. Arguably, she designed her characters to include certain backgrounds, subjects and not others. They were all developed well, illustrating just how they formed their opinions about immigration and its possible solutions. Bias was a major theme.

Grace, of Japanese descent, whose family was interned during WWII, was politically appointed by Fred, a photo op loving politician who seemed to believe he could influence her decisions. She was a judge who adjudicated some of the refugee cases. She was more disposed against the immigrants, at first, as she was influenced by his opinions. Priya, whose family was from Sri Lanka, was an intern, preparing for a job in corporate America when she was sidelined into working for Gigovaz, the lawyer who was unconditionally advocating for the refugees. She was not happy about the assignment as it took her off her career path, and she did not identify with the Tamil culture, nor did she speak the language. Charlita was a journalist who spoke the language of the Tamils and was eager to absorb them all, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Singh, who represented the Canada Border Service Agency, basically started with the assumption that they were all guilty of something. The investigatory process was long and tedious, with decisions often made according to the bias of the decision maker. The people in the system were all overworked, easily frustrated and exhausted.

I thought that the author presented all sides and all aspects of the immigration problem, including housing, well-being, feeding and education. Children were provided with safe spaces. Adults were interviewed. Papers, where they existed, were checked. The decisions were affected by politics, emotion and public opinion, all of which should, logically, be excluded from the process. The issue really concerns need and legality. Judgment should, ideally, be unbiased, but often it is not. More often, politics and social media seek to unfairly and unjustly affect the outcome, and those with an agenda proceed based on their raw emotion and mob mentality which is fanned by politicians who exploit those very sentiments.

So, the two parallel stories will tear at the reader’s heartstrings. One story takes place in Sri Lanka and is about a father, Mahindan, and his 5 year old son as they flee from a nightmare existence in their homeland which has already robbed them of their relatives and home. The other is about a father and son, in Canada, now separated by a bureaucracy and a system which has buried him in the morass of paper and opinion associated with his need for asylum. Mahindan, therefore, is still a captive, albeit in a far different and far better situation than he was in Sri Lanka. He is fed, clothed, educated and even entertained, for most of his confinement. There are no bombs falling. His son is in a wonderful, rather ideal foster home, becoming a Canadian, but they miss each other. He realizes that the gap between them widens while they are apart, but their love for each other is never diminished. Observers will want the father and son reunited quickly; they will want to rush to judgment. They will smart at the slowness of the process which is truly incapable of discerning fact from fiction. Are their papers genuine? What if someone has no papers and no history? The system is truly incapable of moving more quickly with such great numbers of immigrants and so many unknowns.

Of course, also, Mahindan is portrayed as a very worthy addition to Canadian society. He has a skill; he was raised in moderate comfort. He is educated and well-mannered. He is trying to assimilate into the Canadian culture and learn the language. He is the idealized immigrant, simply a victim of circumstances beyond his control who deserves asylum. In this book, the characters, admirably, really do a lot of introspection to understand the plight of the immigrant and themselves They attempt to thresh out the problems in order to solve them. The advocates are willing to put their own skin in the game and take a sincere, personal interest in their clients.

The subject is current; the problems are real; the system is flawed. Desperate situations make people do desperate things. Sometimes, under duress, our judgment is flawed. In the end, however, most people try to do what is best for their country and the immigrant, impartially and compassionately

Immigration has become a convenient flashpoint to create unrest and anger and to shine a spotlight on a problem with no easy solution in order to score political points. I see one major byproduct of the immigration issue that bothers me most. Often, those that flee their own country because of injustice then seek to recreate it with its warts and foibles in their new homeland, as we in America are witnessing with the growth of gangs like MS13 and efforts to eliminate our borders and install socialism in place of capitalism. 

I enjoyed the book, I learned a lot from the insights of the author, but I believe she painted a far too idealistic image of the immigrant, perhaps to advance her own political agenda. I am sure she did, now that I checked her web page. She accused America of kidnapping children and posted a picture that is a dishonest representation of a crying child separated from her mother at the border. The child and her mother are together and were never separated, according to the child’s father. The picture was cherry picked and posted by a journalist before it was vetted, obviously to promote an anti-Trump agenda.

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text 2018-06-29 08:05
Excerpt Reveal - The Protector

 

Today we have the excerpt blitz for The Protector by HelenKay Dimon! Check it out and preorder your copy today!

 

 

 

Title: The Protector

Author: HelenKay Dimon

Genre Romantic Suspense

Release Date: July 31st!

 

 

About The Protector:

 

Salvation, Pennsylvania. The commune located in the small town was advertised as a modern Utopia: a place to live, share, and learn with other like-minded young people. Cate Pendleton’s sister was one of them. Now she’s dead—and Cate won’t rest until she finds out who killed her. Stonewalled at every turn, she approaches a DC Fixer for help and ends up with Damon Knox, a mysterious man with a secretive past. But Cate soon discovers that she not only needs Damon, she wants him, which isn’t good—for the attraction brewing between them will only lead to complications that can turn into danger . . .  

 

Damon has tried to erase the hellish memories and the evil that happened in Salvation ever since he left a long time ago. Still, he can’t turn his back on Cate. As Damon works with Cate to uncover her sister’s killer, he finds himself drawn to her more and more. But how will she feel about him when she learns about his connection to the place?  

 

Joining forces to uncover the truth, they must stay one step ahead of a cunning killer who’s bent on not being exposed.    

 

Preorder Your Copy Now:

 

 

The Protector:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Avon Digital

 

Exclusive Excerpt:

 

He appreciated every inch of her, including that big brain that she didn’t hesitate to use to best him whenever possible. That was some pretty sexy shit right there.

 

“Are you not a meat eater? Because that’s something I should know up front.” The kind of thing Wren should put in her file. Damon didn’t think that was too much to ask.

 

As predicted she frowned at him. Shot him one of those you’re-wasting-time looks that she’d been using on him nonstop since they met. “Are you serious right now?”

 

“Because I eat a lot of burgers and if that’s going to offend you, I can eat something else. I won’t like it, but I will.” Her fidgeting must be rubbing off on him because he picked up his fork then set it down again.

 

She leaned across the table. “How many burgers?”

 

Now this was a topic he could handle. Especially since she asked the question in a soft voice, as if they were sharing a secret. “Every day.”

 

She sat back hard in her seat again. “You do not eat a hamburger every day.”

 

He ignored the horror in her voice. “True. Some days I mix it up and order a cheeseburger. If I’m feeling particularly frisky I’ll have a steak sandwich.”

 

“That seems like an invitation to heart disease.” And she was back to shifting around. She crossed and uncrossed her arms before she grabbed for her napkin again.

 

He could not stop watching her. Energy buzzed off her. He found the mix of tough talk and nervous fidgeting unexpectedly hot. “You’d think, but no.”

 

“I’m going to pretend you’re kidding.”

 

“I’m not.”

 

She cleared her throat. “Shauna.”

 

They could circle back to food because she had his attention now. He refused to joke about this topic. “Your sister.”

 

“She’s three years older.”

 

He noticed she didn’t use the past tense. Shauna died ten years ago and Cate still saw her as an “is.” For Damon, that meant treading carefully. “And you are . . . ?”

 

“Twenty-nine.”

 

He knew that answer before she said but thought keeping her to facts might help her emotionally wade through the next part. He’d helped Wren with other cases and this piece—dealing with the grief—never got easier. Damon had a load of grief and guilt of his own piled on top of hers, so he got it.

 

He nodded to her. “Go ahead.”

 

“The questions you ask don’t seem that pertinent.”

 

“I’m going to be honest with you.” He started to lean forward when the waiter came by and dropped off their food. The smell of grilled hamburger filled his senses as he reached for his folded napkin and threw it across his lap.

 

She didn’t move. “That would be a good way to start.”

 

“Wren already gave me a file he had on you. The man is an expert at collecting information and then making Garrett put it together in a nice big, easy-to-understand breakdown of what happened and when.”

 

For a few seconds she sat there, quiet, as her gaze moved over his face, studying him. “Then why are we here doing the get-to-know-you thing?”

 

He popped a french fry in his mouth. “I’m hungry. That happens a lot. The need-to-eat thing. So, you’ll need to get used to it.”

 

 

Catch Up On the Series!

 

 

The Fixer:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Avon Digital

 

The Enforcer:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Avon Digital

 

The Negotiator:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Avon Digital

 

The Pretender:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Avon Digital

       

About HelenKay Dimon:

 

HelenKay Dimon spent the years before becoming a romance author as a...divorce attorney. Not the usual transition, she knows. Good news is she now writes full time and is much happier. She has sold over forty novels and novellas to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Kensington, Harlequin, Penguin Random House, Riptide and Carina Press. Her nationally bestselling and award-winning books have been showcased in numerous venues and her books have twice been named "Red-Hot Reads" and excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. She is on the Board of Directors of the Romance Writers of America and teaches fiction writing at UC San Diego and MiraCosta College. You can learn more at her website: www.HelenKaydimon.com

 

Connect with HelenKay:

 

Twitter | FB page | Tumblr | Instagram | Pinterest

       

 

 

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review 2018-06-20 17:43
Selling Dead People’s Things by Duane Scott Cerny
Selling Dead People’s Things - Duane Scott Cerny

Ok I picked this book by its cover. Not a good move this time. The cover picture had nothing to do really with the text inside of the cover. The book was ok for what it is about. But at time is was disjointed and it seemed like Duane Cerny rambled on. Chapter 3 really made little since to me other then the fact that he would of loved there to have been a yard sale after the deaths of the sister but there was not, so why have a whole chapter on it. 

 

The book  is about Duane Scott Cerny's love of vintage, antiques, and thift stores. I love all 3 things as well. He is a collector and seller of as the book is named Dead People's Things.  His love for vintage started as a child, on his front porch buying, selling, and trading his friends old cast off toys. The book follows him from Childhood to adulthood and his life long hobby and career in the 2nd hand business. 

 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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