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Motorbikers are Wolves in disguise?

Wild Nights with a Lone Wolf

By

Elisabeth Staab

 

Netgalley review

 

Wolves operate in packs and like to do things together. As do werewolves.

They can also be somewhat impulsive and aggressive within the pack and to those outside of the pack. They like to hunt – search, pursue and capture together.

They also need an alpha dog and his mate. This is part of the ‘top dog’ effect. Packs need a leader and the leader must demonstrate strength and ability to dominate.

This means that weres often get into trouble with the law. So much so that some werewolfpacks find that only illegal jobs or ways of earning a living are available to them.

So some packs become biker gangs trading in drugs and girls. Bikers because the thrill an adrenaline rush of riding a motorbike suits their personalities.

In this book we see a clash between members of a pack where some want to operate within the law and others – the majority – don’t.

A young FBI agent on holiday falls into the centre of this clash accidentally and it changes her life. She goes from prim and proper to enjoying an adrenaline fuelled relationship.

I am not sure that this books adds anything much to this genre. The storyline – good girl meets bad – but reformed guy – and falls for him before she finds out he is reformed, is very common. That said, it was a fairly enjoyable read and reasonably written stylistically.

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Can you read and write? I can.

Redemption Road

by Lisa Ballatyne

A NetGalley Review

A small baby – Margaret aka Molly – is adopted, and is loved and happy. But she has a real father who didn’t know what had happened to her – he was also in prison – but he knows her name is Peggy and has it tattooed on his chest.

George has not had a happy life and one major issue has been his illiteracy. The origins of this illiteracy began at school where the nuns who taught him believed that being left-handed was a sign of the devil –  the Devil is normally portrayed as being left-handed in pictures and other images –  and forced him to write with his right hand. This was a very common belief up until not very long ago – see below for other beliefs about being left-handed:

  • In the seventeenth century it was thought that the Devil baptised his followers with his left-hand and there are many references in superstitions to the “left-hand side” being associated with evil. As an example, in France it was held that witches greet Satan “avec le bras gauche” or with the left hand. It is also considered that we can only see ghosts if we look over our left shoulder and that the Devil watches us over the left shoulder. Evil spirits lurk over the left shoulder – throw salt over this shoulder to ward them off. In Roman times, salt was a very valuable commodity, giving rise to the word “salary” and was considered a form of money at the time. If salt was spilled, that was considered very bad luck, that could only be avoided by throwing some of the spilled salt over your left shoulder to placate the devil. Joan of Arc (burned at the stake in 1431 for being a heretic and a witch) was not necessarily left-handed, she may have been depicted in this way to make her seem evil.
  • Getting out of bed with the left foot first means that you will have a bad day and be bad tempered . i.e. getting out of bed the wrong side.
  • A ringing in the right ear means that someone is praising you. In the left ear it means that someone is cursing or maligning you.
  • An itchy right palm means that you will receive money. An itchy left palm means you will have to give money.
  • Wedding rings worn on the third finger of the left hand originated with the Greeks and Romans, who wore them to fend of evil associated with the left-hand The Romans originally considered the left to be the lucky side and used for augury. However, they later changed back to the Greek methods and favoured the right-hand side.
  • The right hand often symbolises ‘male’ while the left hand is ‘female’.
  • If you hear the sound of a cuckoo from the right it will be a lucky year. If the sound comes from the left it will be unlucky.
  • The Meru people of Kenya believed that the left-hand of their holy man has such evil power that he had to keep it hidden for the safety of others.
  • If your right eye twitches you will see a friend, if it’s your left eye that twitches you’ll see an enemy.
  • When dressmaking it’s believed to be bad luck to sew the left-hand sleeve onto a garment before the right sleeve.
  • When leaving to go on a journey, if your right foot itches you’re bound to have a good journey. If your left foot itches it will end in sorrow.
  • It is thought to be bad luck to pass a drink to another person with your left-hand or anti-clockwise around a table. -( See more at: http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/being-lh/lh-info/myths.html#sthash.aTTIzUJF.dpuf)

Additionally, most pens and other common utensils are intended for right-handed people and the type of writing that can be undertaken by left-handed people is not as neat. Western writing runs from left to right. A left-handed person has to ‘crab’ their hand in order to write without smudging the ink.

Left-handed children learning to write often write back to front (‘mirror’ writing). This is a natural inclination, not a sign of dyslexia, and will resolve given time, practice and encouragement. (http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Left-handedness?OpenDocument)

Yet many right-handed people don’t write neatly either – I remember having my knuckles rapped by a ruler because my writing wasn’t neat so imagine being left handed in these situations.

But for the father no such encouragement was given at school. He remains unable to read and write and believes he has a learning difficulty and is not very bright. This has led him to life of crime as he couldn’t get employment otherwise.

It is still very poorly understood why some 10% of the population is left-handed but it does seem to run in families and thus is could be inherited. It is more common in males than females.

So in this book, the father comes out of prison and wants to meet his child and to learn about her and perhaps be involved in her life. But this is where everything goes wrong.

As she grows up Margaret doesn’t remember her real father and her meeting with him, and the events that followed. She suffered from traumatic amnesia (psychogenic or dissasociative) and bad nightmares. The event clearly affected her badly – but why?

The father finds Molly – as he knows her – and attempts to talk to her but ends up taking her on a journey.

This is a significant journey for both of them but for a small child traumatic and it is very slowly that Margaret remembers about being Molly and integrates her life experiences.

I thought this was an interesting story and enjoyed reading it. 4 stars.

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Bibury is trouts and tourists

Elsker Saga: the Prophesy of Ragnarok by ST Bende

Well ST Bende may well have lived in Norway but I’m not at all sure she actually visited England – especially Bibury and London.

Now I can speak from real life experience as I have visited and stayed in Bibury, the Cotswolds and surrounds many times, and live in London, so here goes with the errors in the book – which irritated.

Bibury is in the Cotswolds near Cirencester. It isn’t a town, not even a village. Just a few weavers’ cottages from the 17th century, some pubs and one being particularly nice we have stopped at a time or two, and a mill which is also a tea room and shop. It is basically a tourist stop.

There is no pond but the River Colne runs through it and alongside the road which has a nice pavement and sitting areas where you sit to watch the brown trout swimming in amazingly clear water. There is also a trout farm by the way. But the river is clear and you can see the gravel bottom. You then walk around the river across the bridges and through a water meadow path. You can also visit the weavers’ cottages if one is open. The cottages were built with a very large loft space for weaving in good light. Wool of course as this was the source of the wealth originally of this area – now it is tourists! These cottages are made of cobblestone, but cobblestone is not a common building material in England, look rather to brick and flint. There is no pond. 23 Bibury, UK Arlington_Row_Bibury

Oh and a cobblestone patio would be very uneven to sit on and rather uncomfortable – tables would rock – we do still have cobbles in many places, even London alleys and small streets.

Yew – well I have never heard of a yew hedge being called a dale – a dale is a valley as in Swaledale, but a hundred years for a yew hedge is young. They can live for 4-600 hundred years on average but some are dated to the 10th Century and the Fortingall Yew – which again I have visited – in Perthshire, is thought to be approximately 2000(!) years old. They are frequently clipped into fantastical shapes – or used to delineate gardens within gardens. They don’t like to be waterlogged, so Bibury would not be a good place for one.Yew Loggia a

And then there is London. She has clearly been watching old films. New York is grey and grimy, London is clean! It may not be white  – I doubt if Cardiff is white either – but it has been cleaned up since the Victorian era and no, we don’t have smog anymore – that was caused by coal fires and we don’t have them anymore either in London.City_of_London_skyline

Then we come to discussions about Cardiff University. Here I am not sure whether she used US terminology to help her readers or just was unfamiliar with the UK university system. So here goes with reality – from a university lecturer…

There are 3 years to a UK UG degree. Not 4. It would be only in the second semester of year one or during year two that an exchange student could attend from abroad. There is no such thing as a sophomore, underclass/upperclassman, senior. Just year 1, 2 or 3 students. Nor do they take term papers. They may well have to take an end of semester exam or to write an end of semester essay. 2 semesters per year unless you are in Oxford or Cambridge.

And does moss smell? Well some moss smells of cannabis! Yes that’s true, but mainly it just smells earthy and not much at that unless you have a whole lawn of it…

So having got my irritation out of the way, what about the book? Well I did look up Nehalem also as it was such a strange name and it is a real place. on the river Nehalem in Tillamook County, Oregan by Nehalem Bay. Established in 1889 it now has (2013) a population of 267 people…nehalem

In this book we have a fairly traditional base story – see Barbara Cartland where the mousy heroine scoops the hottie who was never before seen to be interested in any girl. the naive 18/19 who is from the backwoods interests a person who is several hundreds of years old. hmmm.

But the heroine has a secret. And we find that despite her naivety and her age she will play a crucial part – that she has been born to do – in the future of our worlds.

Despite this it was not high drama or the best style of writing but fairly much the traditional Mills and Boon style. With so many mistakes in it about the UK it was also aiming at a US audience who wouldn’t know better. Hint to US authors – use the internet better if you are going to use real place names. There were just too many pre or mis-conceptions of how the world works in the UK.

It would also take around 2 hours plus to drive to Bibury from Cardiff – through terrible traffic on the M4 – a notorious traffic jam of a road especially in this part of the world. Everyone goes to the Cotswolds if the weather is good… And as for the Slaughters… yes there are really villages with these names and pretty they are too wit a stream running through the middle where kids paddle.

Oh – I forgot – 2.5 stars for this book.

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Kill? Who me?

Fixed in Blood by TE Woods

A Netgalley Review

This is part of the Justice Series. The 4th book.

Justice is being dispensed by an assassin. In the manner of a vigilante. Unofficially she is a law enforcer that dispenses death for a perceived injustice that the ‘real’ legal system is unable to deal with. The sentence never changes. And to carry out these sentences she is skilled in disguise, deception and dealing out death in unusual manners – all without incriminating herself.

However, the assassin has a day job. She is also a Psychologist and as such she realises that perhaps her manner of behaviour is perhaps not quite what it should be. She is also trying to develop a long term relationship without her partner knowing about her little sideline.

A long-service policeman has discovered her secret but he has also helped her in her work or has asked for her help in his work and thus they are joined together. He cannot turn her in now as if he did, he would also lose his job. Yet his son doesn’t know his secret and writes about the assassin through the stories in the newspapers.

What you start to question is your own morality.

When is it Justice and when is it murder?

Are vigilantes above the law?

Is it right to be the accountant for a crime family even if you can’t get another job?

Should you keep secrets from your partner? Even if it could send you to prison to tell?

And if you are a lawman, should you overlook criminal acts committed by a person that sometimes helps you solve other crimes or manages to punish those you can’t?

An interesting article (set of photos) in the Washington Times details the top ten vigilantes in US history – some fictional: http://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/collection/top-10-vigilantes/

Listverse says:  “in real life, the issue of vigilantism is a lot more complex. While some vigilantes are sympathetic figures, others go too far in their desire for revenge. In some cases, completely innocent people wind up losing their lives.” http://listverse.com/2014/01/30/10-controversial-cases-of-vigilantism/

For instance in a number of U.S. cities, individuals have created real-life superhero personas, donning masks and costumes to patrol their neighborhoods, sometimes maintaining an uneasy relationship with local police departments who believe what they are doing could be dangerous to the costumed crusaders caped crusadersthemselves, or could devolve into vigilantism.

Look on the web and you will find many such stories as these. When, is ever, is it right to put yourself above the law is a decision we can only make for ourselves and perhaps also, it depends on the situation?

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I have a new baby – can you help?

Can Anybody Help Me?

By Sinead Crowley

A NetGalley Review

Pregnancy, new babies, police and murder. A Dark Angel nurse ‘helping’ – what a potent combination!

This is a fairly straight forward police procedural set in Ireland with a female detective – who is pregnant.

An interesting take here on the phenomenon that is ‘NetMums’ and how people trust the advice given on the Internet – by people they have never met – people that they feel are good friends despite the only contact being virtual and the reality being that they do not know who is at the other end of the computer line.

little child baby smiling lying under thr towel

little child baby smiling under their towel

The forums such as ‘NetMums’ are all based on trust. Mums trust the forum and those who post. The more you post the more you are trusted. The more people say you are to be trusted and that your advice is sound, the more you are trusted. A virtuous circle. Just in the same way that we use the reviews on books posted on Amazon. If you post more reviews then your name becomes known and then people start to vote that your review was good, and then Amazon will trust you to review books before they are published. In fact NetGalley itself works on a similar process. If you return enough reviews and publishers think they are good, then you will be offered more books to review and so it goes. The more we are validated, the more we are trusted.

The origin of the word ‘trust’ is ‘trustig’. It is old Norse for a contract. I give you something and in return you give me something. Between us we agree on what is exchanged.

In the virtual world what is exchanged is data – made into information by its particular context. That information is what is used to trust. But what if the data is a lie? What if what is offered is not truthful but biased or intended to harm? What if the validation of the data is done deliberately to cause distress and confusion? – sites such as TripAdvisor try to catch the hotels that post their own reviews – but few sites can do this – does Wahanda (I use this to find beauty treatments) check who validates and reviews their salons I wonder – having just booked a facial…

This book uses the trust principle and the virtual world to show how harm can be done by those who trust and those who provide false data. We should all look at the moral of the story and take care.

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