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When Death = Love

The Last Act of Love Book Cover The Last Act of Love
Cathy Rentzenbrink
Adjustment (Psychology)
Pan Macmillan
July 1, 2015
256

In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death. This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It's a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family's survival and the price we pay for love.

 

A book to read and weep, weep and read. And to think – what is the definition of death? An argumentative point of course.

Medical Definition of death. : The irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity (Merriam Webster)

Or

Definition of brain death

Final cessation of activity in the central nervous system especially as indicated by a flat electroencephalogram for a predetermined length of time

Two categories of legal death are death determined by irreversible cessation of heartbeat and breathing (cardiopulmonary death), and death determined by irreversible cessation of functions of the brain (brain death).

The official signs of death include the following:

  • no pupil reaction to light
  • no response of the eyes to caloric (warm or cold) stimulation
  • no jaw reflex (the jaw will react like the knee if hit with a reflex hammer)
  • no gag reflex (touching the back of the throat induces vomiting)
  • no response to pain
  • no breathing
  • a body temperature above 86 °F (30 °C), which eliminates the possibility of

resuscitation following cold-waterdrowning

  • no other cause for the above, such as a head injury
  • no drugs present in the body that could cause apparent death
  • all of the above for 12 hours
  • all of the above for six hours and a flat-line electroencephalogram (brain wave study)
  • no blood circulating to the brain (medical dictionary)

persistent vegetative state (PVS) is a disorder of consciousness in which patients with severe brain damage are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness. After four weeks in a vegetative state (VS), the patient is classified as in a persistent vegetative state. This diagnosis is classified as a permanent vegetative state some months (3 in the US and 6 in the UK) after a non-traumatic brain injury or one year after a traumatic injury. For some patients with this condition it is possible to reverse some of the effects and some people can, it has been demonstrated become aware and thus control either some muscle functions of some brain functions.

It is not recognised as death in most legal systems unless brain death can be also diagnosed. However, if medical intervention is required to keep the person alive, are they really still alive? And by removing the medical intervention are you killing them? An ethical question not just for this condition but for all relatives and medical personnel when a person is being kept alive by extreme medical interventions. At what point do you stop the medical intervention?

This story tells the real-life experience of a family when the son is put into a persistent vegetative state by an accident when he was a teenager. An accident witnessed by his sister who was very close to him and who is the person telling her story and the profound impact her accident and medical condition had on her life.

I suspect that most people, myself included, would not want to be kept alive in this condition despite all the potentialities. Which are just that. Potential and not always or even often, occurring.

For each person the amount of disability that they can cope with varies. There is a difference between bodily disabilities and mental disabilities.

Personally, if I am no longer aware and my brain is not function, even if my body could be kept alive by medical means, I would not want to live on I that condition, hence the fact that I have signed a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ letter and a ‘Living Will’.

But if it was my child, or my husband, at what point would I be willing to let them die? And if they haven’t stated anything and medical miracles are happening regularly it seems, at what point am I ready to let them go?

So this book shows very clearly the impact on the family life. It is not just about the definition of death. Cathy pulls no punches in telling how self-destructive her life became until she finally found a way through with her love of books and eventually writing her story.

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Time and Time again: Sands and Church

Christine Church author of Sands of Time answers.

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? 
I wasn’t born loving vampires. Quite the contrary. I hated them. I feared them. When I was around 8 years old, I saw an old black and white Dracula movie (I honestly today can’t tell you which one it was). Oh, all that black and white blood! I had nightmares for years! Every time I heard the word vampire I cringed and ran away. I couldn’t watch any horror movie with my eyes open, and even then, forget it. The music alone gave me nightmares. At around 10 years old, I went with my childhood best friend and our parents to see a new horror movie, Race with the Devil (later on in life, one of the actresses from that movie, Loretta Switt, would call me and help me with my first novel, but that’s a whole other tale). 
I always had a thing for the gothic (to the point I wore black make up, nail polish, etc. in school, which did not help keep me from being bullied. It was not in yet). I loved old spooky mansions, Victorian gothic architecture, etc. That love grew as I got older. I found a deep love for movies particularly  set during 18th century Britain. The clothes, the hair (particularly long hair on men), the architecture. It sung to me.
Since I was born with a severe mental disability (that was not diagnosed until 2004), I couldn’t work a “regular” job, though I tried and tried—and failed. And so, I decided since I couldn’t buy my gorgeous Victorian mansion, I would build one. Well, a dollhouse one anyway. One day, after I had the entire frame built and was working on the interior walls, through one of the mansion’s many windows I caught a glimpse on TV of a hot guy in 18th century garb. I was smitten. Not only with the men, the hair, but the gothic style, the clothes, the sex appeal! This was a movie I HAD to see! There was only one major problem. It was about vampires! 
The first time I saw “Interview with the Vampire,” was with a friend. I was so enthralled, I walked out of the theatre in a daze. From there, I became obsessed. I made my own capes and 18th century sexy gowns. I saw that movie 11 times in the theatre. And that was the start of my vampire obsession. (I went to New Orleans in 1995, to Anne Rice’s Memnock Ball). 
I was already writing long before this. As a matter of fact, I started writing fiction at the age of 9.  There were always stories in my head. I decided to try my hand at writing my own vampire novel. It was called “Love’s Timeless Melody” and I actually based it around the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. 
How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it?
Most topics come to me through songs. I am very musical. Music speaks to me. Writing sings to me.
Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time? 
I have to admit I am not very organized. I do have all my old novels, which I am revising, put in leather bound zip books with all the notes. Most of my books were written in the ‘90’s originally (or the ideas came to me then). That was my “creative decade.” But, I admit, it took me many years,  attending writer’s conferences (several a year), listening to agents and editors and what works and what doesn’t, asking questions of true professionals, reading a LOT of books (good and bad) and really thinking about why this worked or that didn’t. It has been a very long and sometimes tedious process, but I feel my skill as a fiction writer is finally good enough to be out there.
 How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
Like I mentioned, this book has been in the works for over 20 years! I decided to take “In Darkness Deceived” and start from the beginning, giving people a chance to really get to know all the unique characters and their stories and how they came to be where they are in  “In Darkness Deceived” (which will take a very long time to get to now). (As a reviewer stated recently, she loved the secondary characters just as much as the main characters. The reason is because ALL of them are a huge part of the series and most of them will all have their own books).
freaky paranormalfangtastic

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Story of Kisses and more Kisses

 

StoryOfAKissTourBanner

This is a review of 3 of the books in the Story of a Kiss anthology.
These are all short stories so you can't expect them to develop a strong story line or detailed characters. That given they read very well.
I have read, so far, the first three short stories.
No Regrets by Taylor Sullivan.
Maybe Now by Kelly Lincoln
Fighting Faith by Brandy Ayers
and enjoyed all three.
Given the limitations of a short story and a specific story event, I thought these all showed promise of being concepts for longer novels and I would happily read more books by these authors. This anthology has a lot to offer with so many authors and genres united in this theme. Well worth a read.
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Book details:

Story of a Kiss Anthology
Publication date: February 1st 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

 Synopsis:
There will be a thousand kisses in a lifetime but only a handful trapped forever in your heart. This Valentine’s day, join The Story of a Kiss anthology as we take you into the lives of thirteen couples. From a very first kiss of a high-school prom queen, to a kiss that travels the width of time. Kisses of redemption, heartache, discovery, and so much more.
Thirteen authors.
 Thirteen kisses you’ll never forget.
Taylor Sullivan- Never Regret
 At twenty-four, Margaret Andrews is still a virgin and sick of it. After a year on the top dating site in America, and a late night episode of HUNG on HBO, she’s decided to take matters into her own hands and hires a professional.
Kelly Lincoln- Maybe now
 Maybe now I should kiss her.
 The thought haunts fourteen-year-old Hunter whenever he is with his best friend, Ava. The second he makes his move, their moment is destroyed and Ava leaves town. Ten years later, she’s back, and so is the maybe now that Hunter thought was buried.
Kathryn L. James- Crazy Beautiful Kiss
 Two years after Calista DeLuca and Colin Williams shared a sizzling kiss…the one she couldn’t forget and the one he didn’t remember, their paths cross again. Secrets unfold. Tears fall. Hearts open. He’s the only one who can fade her pain into non-existence, but is it enough?
Sha Renée- Forbidden Kisses
 Layla is enlisted in the Navy. Ethan is an officer. According to rules, personal relationships between officers and enlisted personnel are prohibited, but their desire is so strong, they can’t stand to be apart. Can military regulations separate lovers who are destined to be together?
Leslie Kung- At Long Last
 Janny and Tom grew up together, but right before their friendship could turn into a budding romance, life and gravity pulled them apart. When the friends reconnected, their chemistry was undeniable–but tragedy put distance between them again. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to finally fall in love.
Emma Marie Leigh- Wrong time
 Jo Stevens is an archaeology graduate student on the opportunity of a lifetime- an excavation in Pompeii. When her group discovers a basement, everything Jo knows is rocked. Rules are broken. Lines are crossed. Jo unearths everything she’s ever wanted. She’s just in the wrong time.
Louisa Blackwood-  Can’t Let Go
 Josephine “Joe” Burke has been running from the past since the night her mother died, choosing solitude over dreams. She’s suddenly forced to return to her Tennessee hometown and to her old flame, Colton James. Joe can feel her defenses crumbling under his irritating charm, but with the past still haunting her future, can she open her heart to happiness again?
Polly J. Brown- Ever Be
 Evangeline’s life revolved around the water until she nearly drowned. Now, she’s returned to the beach to confront her fears, and Gregory Owen, the super-bro who saved her life. Greg wants to help, but can she trust his intentions? Or worse, her own?
Jaye Cox- Love in Photographs
 When her heart remembers but her head doesn’t, will one photograph change everything? Claire didn’t need her memories when everything within her knew she loved him.
Brandy Ayers- Fighting Faith
 At nineteen, Faith spent one perfect, passion-filled summer in San Sebastian. But just when she thought she might have her happy ending, Jasper, the love of her life, shattered her heart. Now, ten years later, they’re forced together once more. Can she hold onto the last few remaining pieces of her heart?
Kate DeHart- Missed Kisses
 Struggling with the recent death of her mother, Jess finds solace in her best friend Ben. Everything about them says they shouldn’t click. He’s the trendy guy with the damaged family; she’s the bookish introvert with a lonely heart. Years of sweet memories cause their feelings to grow, until he does the one thing that could tear them apart.
Jody Pardo- Left Swipe Chronicles
 Roommates Liz and Michelle venture into the world of online dating. After a series of bad first dates, how many swipes will it take to find her Man of Steel?
Cherry Shephard- Precious
 18 year old Precious Montgomery is a nobody, she’s never even had her first kiss . . .  but that’s about to change. When her best friend nominates her for prom queen, Precious has just one week to make over her image and beat the queen bee – Amber Delancey. Amber has everything Precious doesn’t: Confidence, sophistication and popularity. But a chance meeting with Amber’s boyfriend changes everything.
 Now, Precious has to decide what’s more important; what she’s always wanted . . . or what she’s always had.
 Can a crown . . . or a kiss, really dictate your self-worth?
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27778719-story-of-a-kiss-anthology?ac=1&from_search=1
Purchase:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692601007/ref=x_gr_w_visstd_sin_t1_control_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_visstd_sin_t1_control_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641
Teaser slide show code: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/exqDXcNRJow?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Book trailer code: <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lsba_R_erRo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Winter is icumen in

Winter is icumen in,
  Lhude sing Goddamm,
  Raineth drop and staineth slop,
  And how the wind doth ram
And Winter is the Winter Sisters, Victory, Payton and Willow. Each with their own special gift and ability and each falling in love with a different soldier in the elite squad of Army, Navy and Airforce. Author Joanne Jaytanie.
This is a review for NetGalley.
The series I am reviewing contains 3 novels, the latest published being Willow’s Discovery, published this October, which I read first through NetGalley.
This series is far from finished as far as I am concerned, as although each sister now has a mate – there is so much more that can happen to other characters and in the story-line.
So yes, I started with Willow’s Discovery and was only a quarter of the way through when I realised I wanted to read the first 2 books as well. I could read the 3rd book first but it would have been better to read them in the correct order.
Now the story line of all 3 concerns DNA being manipulated to give us extra fierce soldiers –this isn’t a new idea. The concept of the formidable soldier is common in fantasy but for me what was new was that the characters were splicing wolf genes into the soldiers to make them bigger, stronger, and fiercer.howlinggood
And two of the alpha males – yes they are all alpha males in this story as they are members of the elite squad mentioned above - have been experimented on with these wolf genes with very different results. But many of the males and females in this series have extra abilities and they haven’t had wolf genes added, and the question never answered (but it was raised) in the books is - was there some gene manipulation going on in uteroalpha
Interestingly, I am now reading another series of books where again canine DNA is inserted into soldiers to make them fiercer – the fantasy series of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter and Fairest.
Having come across this idea by two authors I thought I would look into what was happening with canine DNA and why this idea had come to these authors. And to my surprise found that canine DNA was being used for disease studies in humans [see the articles from the dmm.biologists organisation; National Geographic; Genome Research].
It appears that dogs get similar diseases to humans with the same genetic and environmental factors involved. These genes relate to diet and digestion, and neurological processes and disease which have evolved parallel in both species due to living in the same shared environment. These shared diseases include obesity, OCD, epilepsy, and cancers especially breast cancer (cancer is twice as common in dogs as in humans), and retinal diseases including cataracts.
Dogs only share 84% of our DNA  as compared to chimpanzees – 98.8%, monkeys – 93% and mice 90%, but we share some 360 genetic disorders with them, even though some of these only occur in 40% of dog breeds such as the Doberman Pinchers with inherited narcolepsy which has enable scientists to understand the molecular mechanisms of regulating sleep. And the last item explains something about why these stories include Dobermans as they were clearly being used in the genetic research of the organisation.
And I also looked into Tollers as they were a new breed of dog to me. Not that that’s saying a lot as there are so many new breeds appearing at the moment...nova-scotia-duck-tolling-retriever
So the basic stories were about criminal behaviour, kidnapping, torture and unusual experiments and general mayhem and brave deeds by the alpha males with feisty females assisting using their special powers. A good mix of fantasy and war stories, with some organised fraud and crime thrown in for good measure.thrillerROMANCEPAGETURNERCRIME
I really enjoyed all 3 of these books and am inclined to give them all 5 stars.wellwritten

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Enter the Queendom of the Red Academy

The Rise of the Red Queen

By

Bourne Morris

An interesting title for this novel, as reading  it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.

The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.

She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.

However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element  amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.

Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.

And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.

A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).

Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.

It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.

Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.

And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).

The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.

http://www.nea.org/home/33067.htm

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