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We stand in the sun and look back in our tracks
An image of self in grays and in blacks
Laughter and joy hold us in their sweet thrall
But even in wonderland shadows must fall

Book Review: “Storm” by Danielle Ellison

September 16, 2014 | Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Paranormal Romance

Storm (Salt #2)Storm by Danielle Ellison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While reading “Storm” I found myself on few occasions thinking that it might be nice if the author had provided a bit more of the backstory for certain events or references made in the book. Not that the story was significantly lacking in any way, but just that it might enhance the story a bit further. But the references to these events and people were sufficient enough that I had no problem following what was happening and enjoyed the book nonetheless.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that “Storm” is actually the second of a two-part series written by Danielle Ellison. I consider it a testimony to her skill that at no point did I suspect that I was reading a sequel. The story stands up that well on its own, and I had no trouble quickly getting oriented in the world that she presents, knowing (and liking) the characters that she has created and becoming invested enough in what was happening thatI found the book hard to put down.



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Book Review: “Imitation” by Heather Hildenbrand

September 15, 2014 | Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Imitation” was a very fast-reading book for me – I finished it in under 24-hours, so, obviously, the book is.enjoyable and held my attention. That doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws, however. The basic premise is that wealthy clients can have a clone made of themselves, which is known as an Imitation. The original person is called the Authentic. An Authentic can use their Imitation for virtually any purpose they have in mind – from having them step in and attend an event the Authentic doesn’t want or is unable to attend, to using them as a source for harvesting organs should the Authentic need a transplant, or – as in this case – to step into the Authentic’s life and serve as a decoy when threats are made to the Authentic’s health and safety.

As the story opens, we meet Ven – the Imitation of Raven Rogan, the daughter of one of the world wealthiest man – who also just happens to be the man who created the Imitations. Attempts have been made to attack Raven, so her father sends her into hiding – though it’s never really explained exactly where she is – and Ven has been sent in to take her place. This is one place in which the story sort of falls down.

Ven has been specifically created to be able to stand in for Raven on a moment’s notice. She goes to extensive training, watching videos of Raven interacting with her friends, going shopping, and other such mundane activities. Ven is expected to have watched countless hours of these videos and be able to perfectly imitate Raven. At no point, though, is then given any real training in how Raven thinks, what her general beliefs are, her morals or ethics, or even if she has a boyfriend – much less what level of intimacy they might share. It’s one thing for Ven to know how Raven might say something – her vocal tone, the kind of attitudes she projects, etc., but it’s problematic if she doesn’t know *what* Raven would actually say in that situation. Meanwhile, Ravens father constantly chides Ven for not being enough like Raven, but seems unwilling to offer any insight or practical advice as to how she could do that better.

The romance at the center of the book is sweet, and to a great extent feels believable – except that when they meet, the man has been working as one of Raven’s bodyguards for some time, but he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the fact that she’s not acting like her normal self – someone he obviously has very little respect for.

What really saves the book, is Ven, herself. She is an interesting, well developed character and feels like someone you might want to have as a friend. The story maintains a nice dramatic pace – there’s enough action to keep things interesting, while still allowing our characters room to breathe. Foreshadowing is nicely done, without beating us over the head with a too-obvious clues, and the dialogue doesn’t come across as stilted or overblown. It also touches on some of the ethical issues related to cloning, what rights – if any – clones have, and if there is any degree to which they are actually human, and not just a man-made creation.

While I can’t say that “Imitation” is one of my favorite books, it’s enjoyable enough that I’m looking forward to being able to check out part two.

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Book Review: “Liesmith” by Alis Franklin

September 2, 2014 | Posted in Book Reviews, Fiction, mythology-Based, Urban Fantasy

Liesmith: Book 1 of The WyrdLiesmith: Book 1 of The Wyrd by Alis Franklin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this as an Advanced Review Copy.

This is one of the more unique books I’ve read in quite some time. The narration combines first-person and 3rd person omniscient viewpoints, as well as a kind of stream-of-conscienceness that, in a way, lays over the whole thing. And even though that sounds confusing, it really isn’t.

The characters are well written and thankfully don’t spend too much time freaking out when they find themselves in odd situations. While it may sometimes feel like they’re a bit TOO accepting of the strange going-ons, once their ability to readily adapt to new experiences is established it’s welcomingly refreshing to just have the story move forward without all the usual folderol.

One other nice thing – even though this is listed as the first book in a series, the story ends with things open enough for more stories to be told in this universe, but solidly enough to make it a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.

The main weakness I found with the book is that it might be a bit hard for someone who isn’t at least modestly familiar with Norse Lore and Gamer culture to keep up, as there are a number of side references that might not be readily understood otherwise.

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed “Liesmith,” and am hoping it won’t be too long for the next book In the series to arrive.



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Deadly Middle East respiratory virus strikes in US

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Deadly Middle East respiratory virus strikes in US (via AFP)

The first case of MERS, a dangerous respiratory virus that originated in the Middle East and has a high death rate, has been confirmed in the United States, officials said Friday. The person infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus…



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Could a ‘Fat Gene’ Be to Blame For That Extra Weight?

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Could a ‘Fat Gene’ Be to Blame For That Extra Weight? (via Fitbie)

Diet and Fitness News May 2, 2014 | Leave a Comment We blame our busy schedule. We blame the office birthday cake. We blame happy hour! But new research confirms what we’ve suspected all along: That good — or bad — genes might actually be at the…



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Bogus GOP Report On Insurance Premiums Paid Shows How Conservative Misinformation Is Spread

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Bogus GOP Report On Insurance Premiums Paid Shows How Conservative Misinformation Is Spread (via The Moderate Voice)

On Wednesday the Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a bogus report which claimed that only 67 percent of those who purchased health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act have paid their first month’s premium. This…



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Worse than AIDS: Antibiotic resistance the next world health crisis, experts say

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Worse than AIDS: Antibiotic resistance the next world health crisis, experts say (via Raw Story )

The World Health Organization issued another warning on Friday about the dangers posed by antibiotic resistant bacteria. U.K. newspaper The Daily Telegraph said that without new drugs to fight them, common infections will surge as a leading cause of…



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Let’s put a stop to parents opting out of vaccinations for their kids

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Let’s put a stop to parents opting out of vaccinations for their kids (via NewsWorks)

This commentary was submitted by Kristen Feemster, a pediatric infectious diseases physician and researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. It’s time to eliminate personal belief exemptions…



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Watch Stephen Colbert Smack DOWN ‘Anti-Science’ Anti-Vaxxers (Video)

May 3, 2014 | Posted in Selected Reposts

Watch Stephen Colbert Smack DOWN ‘Anti-Science’ Anti-Vaxxers (Video) (via Americans Against The Tea Party)

Stephen Colbert doesn’t care how many sponsors it costs him. He has come out publicly against infectious disease! Colbert said that he experienced “severe inflammation” of his “rage gland” when he heard that a number of preventable diseases…



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Rescuers pull 13th body from the snow after Everest’s most deadly avalanche

April 20, 2014 | Posted in Random Shadows, Selected Reposts

Rescuers pull 13th body from the snow after Everest’s most deadly avalanche (via GlobalPost)

Rescuers on Mount Everest Saturday found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world’s highest peak. Three sherpas remain missing from…



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