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Ashes goodbye!

FIVE: Out of the Ashes
Holli Anderson
(Five, #3)
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: November 30th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Their last battle ended with death and despair, but they have no time to mourn. One of their own has been taken and the Quinae Praesidia set out to find and rescue her. In this third and last installment of the FIVE series, the FIVE discover new powers, make a desperate run through the Netherworld, land on an island paradise . . . and find that Brone, always a step ahead of them, is becoming more powerful than ever.

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Author Bio:

Holli Anderson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing–which has nothing to do with writing, except maybe by adding some pretty descriptive injury and vomit scenes to her books. She discovered her joy of writing during a very trying period in her life when escaping into make-believe saved her. She enjoys reading any book she gets her hands on, but has a particular love for anything fantasy.

Along with her husband, Steve, and their four sons, she lives in Grantsville, Utah–the same small town in which she grew up.

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Cutting you off

The Water knife

By

Paolo Bacigalupi

A NetGalley Review

 

The Southern USA has lost its battle with water profligacy and has become the desert it once was.

The Colorado River is even more embattled than it currently is and water is in such short supply that control over it is maintained by armies of private mercenaries who cut supply to towns as legal battles are waged.colorado 300px-ColoradoTexas_Watershed

This story is an extension of the current situation in the Southern States where already the Colorado River shows signs of running dry as is documented by Peter McBride and the National Smithsonian Magazine.

They say:

The Colorado River is the seventh largest river in the U.S., … It is also one of the most diverted, silted, and heavily litigated rivers in the world. The farmers and residents of the rapidly growing western states rely on the river for irrigation, drinking water, and electricity. This demand has permanently altered the river’s ecology. http://www.petemcbride.com/coloradoriver/

Beginning in the 1920s, Western states began divvying up the Colorado’s water, building dams and diverting the flow hundreds of miles, to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and other fast-growing cities. The river now serves 30 million people in seven U.S. states and Mexico, with 70 percent or more of its water siphoned off to irrigate 3.5 million acres of cropland.

Climate change will likely decrease the river’s flow by 5 to 20 percent in the next 40 years, says geoscientist Brad Udall, director of the University of Colorado Western Water Assessment. Less precipitation in the Rocky Mountains will yield less water to begin with. Droughts will last longer. Higher overall air temperatures will mean more water lost to evaporation.

The Colorado no longer regularly reaches the sea.

Invasive plants, such as salt cedar and cattails, now dominate the delta, a landscape of seemingly endless mud flats where forests used to stand. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-colorado-river-runs-dry-

When we visited California ourselves we saw the dry and arid dust bowls that were created by the diversions – areas that were once farms in a desert. We also saw Californians watering lawns daily or twice daily in temperatures of over 30 degrees and planting water thirsty plants rather than aloes and agaves and cacti which would survive better as this is their native habitat.  So the outcome proposed in this book is, in many ways, not such an extension of what we can expect to be reality in not so many years in the future.

The self-contained blocks described in the book were an interesting application of modern technology which permits water recycling and conservation – we ourselves could have a grey water system installed from our rainwater conservation but at the present we don’t need to.

And we already see buildings like  the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design with six stories, 50,000 square feet, that won’t use a single watt of electricity from the grid, nor a drop of water from downtown Seattle – using ground pumps for heating and rainwater.

There is also a set of regulations in existence that govern a living building design but with water being provided by rainwater rather than river water

So the book started well but then got repetitive as we needed to move from what is a very real tomorrow possibility further into the future. I got bored around 50-60% through so I have downgraded this from 4 stars to 3.

 

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Twin Personalities or Different Lives?

The Other Me

by

Saskia Sarginson

A NetGalley Review

Have you ever so hated your family and background that you have created a whole new persona? Right down to name, home, family? And maintained it for 2 whole years without a slip?

Well Klaudia Meyer did in this book.

She became Eliza Benet and didn’t reveal who she really was until circumstances forced her into it. Her best friend didn’t know her. Her lover didn’t know her. And she avoided her family in all that time.

This book had sat in my to read pile for several months and for some reason kept slipping off my list and I grasped the new sweetie instead. Which was a shame as although I initially found the book slow and somewhat difficult to follow why I was moving from one character to another and different timelines, it all became clear later why and who these characters were and what their connection to each other was.

I thought that Ernst’s story was perhaps the most compelling as he described in great detail how life was in Germany during the 1920s and 30s on a farm near a small town, for 2 children who had no parents.

The children were placed as foundlings with a farm family and were treated as unpaid servants with sleeping accommodation over the stable unless it really got too cold, and fed after the rest of the family had eaten very sparingly.

The times were hard and difficult on a farm and it was no surprise that the children were drawn to the Hitler youth programmes as a way of establishing an identity. The story makes it quite clear how this movement began to take hold and the how the country began to follow Hitler.

I was interested in the description of the races that they were taught in the school (by nuns no less, who clearly were enthusiastic supporters of all that the Regime wanted). The Eugenics researchers were, at the time, very influential with the Nazis and Hitler as well as Mussolini and felt that the rule of the world was the birthright of those with the best physical and mental stature – the Nordic (sometime referred to as the Aryan) race.

The races were listed as -in order of best to worst – and I really hadn’t heard of most of them so, of course, looked them up.

Wikipedia explains that:

Nazi policy stressed the superiority of the Nordic race, a sub-race of the white European population defined by the measurement of the size and proportions of the human body and each race was given a different amount of food, rights, housing and so on. each race was strictly separated from each other – ghettoed in effect. This was part of some early anthropological and eugenics research that claimed by measuring certain physical characteristics people could be defined. They could then be determined as to what they could undertake in the way of jobs etc. Nordic characteristics being prized for breeding purposes of course in order to improve the general population.

The Nordic, or superior race, was a person with light-coloured hair, light-coloured eyes, fair skin, long and narrow skulls and tall stature.  They were supposed to be universally  truthful, equitable, competitive, naïve, reserved and individualistic.

Dinaric was a mixed type consisting of Nordic race and Armenoid race who have a slightly darker pigmentation.

Falic or Phalic race as described by Hans Friedrich Karl Günther as being inferior to Nordic and Dinaric and consisting of a defined height and stature,being robust and heavily built, with a rosy skin, blond hair, light eyes (blue, grey or green), big mouth and thin lips.

Ostic race is often refierred as the Alpine race and is defined as:

A typical Alpine skull is therefore regarded as broad-headed As well as being broad in the crania, this thickness appears generally elsewhere, as Hans Günther describes:

…the Alpine race is thick-set and broad. The average height of the Alpine man is about 1.63 metres. This small height is brought about by the relatively short, squat legs. This broadness and shortness is repeated in all the details: in the broadness of the hand and its short fingers, in the short, broad feet, in the thick, short calves.

Ost-Baltic has a medium to low stature, fair skin, strong build, brachycephallic (broad) skull, light hair and eyes.

Slavs were unternmenshcen or sub-human and thus ripe for slavery and exploitation. They were of a racially mixed “Asiatic” type. Barbarians and read for ethnic cleansing.

Not mentioned in the book was the Mediterranean race with low stature, brown skin, physical constitution varying from gracile to slender, straight nose, regular features, dolicocephallic, dark hair and eyes. Doliocephalic means that the head is longer than would be expected, relative to its width as with the skulls of Neanderthals.

There are various other racial ‘types’that the Eugenicists also described and the late 19th century the science was much admired in many parts of the world.

So, what do I finally think of this book? I was conflicted. Was it a 4 star or was it a 5 star? So 4.5 is the compromise.

 

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Enter New York

Meet Me in Manhattan

by

Claudia Carroll

A NetGalley Review

A gentle and thoughtful romance story of a somewhat broken young woman and her dating disasters. P1030456

One of the best points about this book was the discussion of the catfishing. A term I had not heard of before. So in my usual researcher fashion I set out to explore the perils of online dating and just what catfishing was all about.

The Urban Dictionary told me that catfishing was:

The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).

Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom

The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.

Wikipedia has a slightly different definition:

Catfishing is a type of deceptive activity involving a person creating a sock puppet social networking network for nefarious purposes.

A ‘sock puppet’?!  A sock puppet being a false identity.

Now I have heard about people who scam lonely women into giving up cash but hadn’t realised that it went further than that but I can quite see how it could. It is very easy to have multiple identities online – I have several usernames for instance, depending on whether I want the site viewers to link my comments to my own identity. Although I doubt that it fools those really into the internet and if you wanted you could investigate my life online and find out a lot about me and my family. As even though I have cautious about putting my personal life online my children have pages and their details are there and I am sure you could link them easily if you wanted to.

Back to the phenomenon of catfishing though.

A Huffington Post article from last year agrees that we all (?) tend to add some inches (men) to our height and lose some weight (Women) on our profiles but that apart from posting some really flattering photos, possibly from a few years back, most of us are reasonably accurate I our descriptions of ourselves.

The Daily Titan warned people earlier this year to be cautious about online dating. They suggest that Skyping etc would be a good tactic and trawling through people’s social history would be useful (check them up on Facebook for instance?). But in the book, they had many phone calls which could have alerted our heroine but seemed so reassuring and genuine.

However, nearly all the articles are warning about the money scam aspect rather than the emotional fallout from being duped by someone for their ‘fun’. And in this book we see that the emotional fallout can be much greater. People become very cautious about interacting with others and lose their trust.

So is this a good book – yes but very much chick lit and thus a quick read and with a nice uplifting ending but I won’t say what…

 

 

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Congregate if you dare

A NetGalley review of

The Congregation

by

Desiree Bombenon.

A congregation of the abused, strong in their determination to channel their emotional hurt into something positive –  for them – but in reality a destructive act of great consequences.

A story of just what lengths people will go when they have been hurt by those they trusted. From the child battered by a parent; to a child abused by a person in a position of trust suh as a priest or social worker; to a wife beaten on a regular absis by her abusive controlling husband; all will go to extreme lengths to demonstrate just how damaged they are by what has happened to them.

The legacy of such tragedy goes on echoing down the generations and the Roman Catholic Church still has not fully answered for its sins – or so those in the Congregation would attest.

In Chicago, there were a number of allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the RC church carried out by priets of varying ranks. So much so that  Andrew Greeley wrote The Priestly Sins (2004), a novel about a young priest from the Plains States who is exiled to an insane asylum and then to an academic life because he reports abuse that he has witnessed.

Fall from Grace is a 1993 novel by Father Greeley. It is a story of sin and corruption in leading Irish Catholic families in Chicago and the cover up of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. [Wikipedia]

It is clear from records now released that the RC church including Jesuits and schools in Chicago hid the behaviour of priests such as  Donald McGuire and Daniel McCormack who are now convicted. So the setting was very important for this novel.

The other issue that drives tis story is the church’s stance on homosexuality. Apparently, it is OK to have such thoughts, but not to act on them.  Between 20 and 60 percent of all Catholic priests are gay, according to one estimate cited by Donald Cozzens in his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood. This is a higher percentage than in the general population and there has been much speculation that a gay lobby exists within the Vatican power brokers. Nevertheless, being known to be gay in the priesthood, is a recipe for blackmail and so we see in this story also.

These are both very important issues and either would have made for a great thriller by other authors, but this story lacks tension and insufficient complications and mis-directions to provide for a really satisfactory read. Thi is sad as the auhor has picked a great possibility but has not followed through. We found out the perpetrators too early and the hero/heroine had too little to do to unravel the plot.

So this is a light version of a conspiracy novel that would work for those not familiar for the genre and wanting an introduction but for me lacked depth.

 

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