The cat has 9 lives

Homunculus and the Cat

by

Nathan Croft

A NetGalley Review

This author has been steeped in legends, myths and folklore and has used all their knowledge to astound the reader with the breadth of disciplines involved n this story.

I thought I was quite widely read about fantasy and folklore, myths etc and all the afterlifes and hells – after all I had researched Greek myths for one book review, and I had read the series of books about Hell. But the references here baffled me and thus I had to bookmark page after page of things to work out what they were – which of course meant that I couldn’t understand the story as these items were quite crucial to the story-line. And if I was baffled in lots of places, then without being too egotistic, I suspect a large numbers of readers, except those in a very closely knit community of fantasists would be also. This greatly limits the audience for this book and means that I would initially have given it 1 star.

The average reader would either have to continue reading only understanding a part of what was read; or stop and look things up, which greatly interrupts the story.

However, for those people familiar with all these myths, folklore, fantasy worlds, there may well be a 2 or even a 3 star ranking available. I just couldn’t tell. I was not the intended audience it seems. PS, there is a wonderful page on Wikipedia which lists legendary creatures or myth, folklore and fairytales by classification.

So here are the items that I didn’t know about but needed to – and what I found out about them. But don’t take my word that I got it all right as I looked these things up after reading the book, and thus they are not in context.

  1. Orichalcam: a metal mentioned in the story of Atlantis as per the Critias of Plato. It is magenta coloured. Interestingly, some was recovered in January 2015 in a ship that sank 2,600 years ago off Sicily. In the ship, the ingots were found to be an alloy of copper and zinc and small amounts of nickel andiron. The question arise then as to whether this really was oricahum?
  2. Chakram: a throwing disk originating in India. Can be boomerang in type.
  3. Hekatonkheire: a giant god of storms and hurricanes in the Geek myths. 100 hands. There were 3 of them according to this myth, brothers of the Elder Cyclops and Elder Titans and offspring of Gaia and Uranus.
  4. Ennedi: is a plateau in Chad, Africa, reputedly to have a living sabertooth tiger.
  5. Czerno bog: no such bog. However, Czerno is a village within Poland. It is very small with a population of around
  6. Rod: I have no idea here but it could refer to the Rod of Asclepius or staff, which is associated with medicine and healing.
  7. Sun Wukong: a warrior magician in the form of a monkey, hatched from a stone egg according to Chinese myths – not an afterlife place.
  8. Marduk: He was a late generation god from Mesopotamia and patron deity of Bablyon city. He was later considerd to be head of the Babylonian pantheon of gods
  9. Inanna: again old Babylonian. The Sumerian goddess of love, fertility and warfare.
  10. Turritella: medium sized sea snails with tightly coiled shells, looking like a cone.
  11. Atargatis: she was the chief goddess of northern Syria – fertility but also responsible for protection and well-being. Sometime described as a mermaid- goddess but this may be an incorrect / mis-identification of the shrine. But fish were sacred to her. As were doves, as fish were symbolic of the fertility and life of the sea.
  12. Shikome: see number 17 below.
  13. Annwyn: was the Otherworld in Welsh mythology. Ruld by Arawn or Gwyn ap Nudd – a world of delights and eternal youth and health and food.
  14. Fusang: Chinese entity or mythological mulberry tree of life or a mysterious land to the East
  15. Cynnamolgus or should it be Cynomolgus: a crab-eating macaque; or the mythical Aritotle’s cinnamon eating bird which were giant birds. Their eat or made their nests from cinnamon sticks.
  16. Hippogriff: front quarters of an eagle and the hindquarters of a horse.
  17. Yomotsu-shikome: aka ‘ugly woman of the underworld’ in Japanese, was a hag sent by Izanami to pursue her living husband for shaming her. There may be 8 such hags. Japanese mythology combines the Shinto pantheon with several kami or gods.
  18. Yomotsu-hisame: an alternative spelling for the hags of Yomi
  19. Yomi: being an underworld of Japanese mythology
  20. Izamagi: seems to be incorrectly spelled – should be Izanagi? A deity born of the 7 divine generations in Japanese mythology – ‘the male who invites’. The first male to be born and who create the world with his sister Izanami.
  21. Manticore: Persian myth aka ‘man-eater’. Also in Greek myths as a creature of multiple parts – lion, humans, scorpion tail.
  22. Stheno: a gorgon sister of Medusa and Euryale – see 23. Eldest of the sisters and parents being Phorcys and Ceto.
  23. Euryale: see 22.

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Can you Fix a Psychopath?

Fixed in Fear

By T.E. Woods

Review for

NetGalley and Alibi

Now this book set me wondering – psychopaths – are they born or are they made? Can PTSD cause a person to become a psychopath?

And then there is the whole issue of revenge killing. Do we really believe in an eye for an eye? And you kill one of mine and I’ll kill one of yours? If so, then we can expect far more of the scenes such as recently in Paris and the US and even in the London where the cry comes – ‘This is for what you have done in Syria’. With France declaring that they were at war with so-called ISIS as a result of the Paris bombings and shootings.

So I read with great relief and empathy the article by Caitlin Moran in The Times Magazine. She muses on what you tell your children about the terrorist attacks. How you explain what is happening and why. And why we should, here in London at any rate, and in most if not all of the Western World, not be afraid. And why? Because we have lived through worse.

She lived through the IRA bombings as did I in the UK. Where they bombed busy shopping centres, where they bombed Regent’s Street and where there were no waste bins in case they hid a bomb, and where your briefcase or sports bag or even shopping carrier, if left unattended in a train station, was blown up by a nifty robot. As was your car if left in a route of importance –  I remember watching out of our office window as the police did just that when we were expecting the Queen to pass by our block. Even now, we get plenty of warnings about not leaving our baggage unattended or telling staff of a ‘suspicious package’, and even when they regularly stopped trains as someone had done just that – usually a shopping bag someone had forgotten. I remember this on one train when the American tourists in our carriage were having kittens and we were very blasé as it happened so often to us.

This doesn’t change anything. You are far more likely to die on the loo than being killed by a bomb or a bullet even in a country where there are 88.8 guns per 100 people such as in the US. See the table on the most common cause of death.

causes of death

As Caitlin Moran says, there are certain things that cause psychopaths (back t that word) who want to kill: an unhappy combination of humiliation, bereavement, and fear. She believes that terrorists are psychopaths who simply want to kill and their purpose in life is to find a reason that they can use to justify that want.

Fear can be weaponised, she said, some people want us to be afraid and scared and angry and that can turn us into terrorists too.  And so the war continues.

SO I did my research and it seems that there is some conflict as to how you can become psychopath and just what is the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath. psychopathhttp://hubpages.com/education/The-Four-Basic-Pillars-of-A-SociopathPsychopath

diffs psycho

The four Pillars are:

1.People with Anti-social Personality disorder whether psychopath or sociopath have a great deal of pride. They demand respect and they will ensure that they get it, whatever it may take. They believe that they are better than anyone else, and others should treat them as such. Rules of society and norms are not for them to respect. They are above them.

  1. They are spiteful. They have low tolerance and this can lead to outbursts of aggression or violence. They find a little irritation a major nuisance.
  2. These are sex addicts with high levels of testosterone – which also increases aggression. They need the sexual experiences even if they receive little satisfaction from them and cannot have relationships without sexual intimacy.
  3. They are self-centred, self-absorbed, and very selfish. Everything they do has a benefit to them. They lack emotional sensitivity or empathy and always bored and seeking stimulation though risk or excitement. They don’t care about others or what others need.

For a Psychopath all these attributes are very high but pride and lust are the highest with insensitivity to others coming next and anger being the least prevalent in them.

So we come to the book. Is the Fixer either a psychopath or a sociopath?

I noted a number of interesting points in this book and the first the one about body memory. The concept that trauma is retained in muscle memory. The body of an abuse victim will remember to cower or protect itself when triggering circumstances occur. Interesting as I have just started watching Bone and flesh on Amazon and the girl, who is clearly a victim of familial sexual abuse immediately turns and hits a man with a bottle when he touches her without her seeing. An instinctive behaviour or a muscle memory? More likely the latter I should think.  According to http://www.survivormanual.com/ we do indeed have a ‘mind’ in our muscle that retains moves – in my own case I often move into Tai Chi poses because I learnt it for so many hears when undertaking a gym workout. My legs remember this shaping. And n addition we have the idea that instinct tells us to behave in certain ways under certain circumstances. The Police Chief says a running animal always turns right when trying to escape. This is muscle memory. However, it can also be conditioned in by past experience so here I am not sure of the accuracy of this statement. But it is an interesting thought. Turning left requires the instinct to be over-ridden and thus the brain has to come into action was her theory.

I also looked up the village/town that the murders took place – and yes, it is a real place in the States. Enumclaw is a city in King County, Washington, United States. The population was 10,669 at the 2010 census.

The Enumclaw Plateau, on which the city resides, was formed by a volcanic mudflow (lahar) from Mount Rainier approximately 5,700 years ago.

The name Enumclaw is derived from a Salish Native American term that translates as “place of evil spirits”, apparently referring to Enumclaw Mountain, located about 6 miles (9.7 km) to the north, and referring either to some evil incident that occurred there or to the frequent powerful windstorms that affect the region. Native American mythology tells the story of two Pacific Northwest Native American brothers – Enumclaw and Kapoonis – whose father turned them into thunder and lightning respectively. The City of Enumclaw says the name means “thundering noise” [Wikipedia]

I was also interested in the idea of each religion have a ritual for forgiveness and the Professor having drawn up a grid. This is just the sort of thing that I would do… as a Jew I like the idea that you only confess sins that have offended God, and that if you have offended a person you confess that to them. This makes society operate well I think. What is also interesting of course, is that the 3 Abrahamic religions have such similarities in their rituals about forgiveness and other religious practices. Which of course, brings us back to why are we fighting each other? Perhaps it is that very similarity that we fight in order to define ourselves as different?

So these are some of the very interesting points that I picked up from the book regardless of the story. The Fixer has come out of her ‘retirement’ and tries to over-ride her innate instinct to act as a psychopath and give an eye for an eye but her instinct to help in circumstance where something unjust has happened still operate.

Is this book as good as the previous ones in the series? I think by a hair margin not quite. It is getting difficult to find a scenario under which she will operate in her role as a Fixer. And so I needed to find interest in elements that were not perhaps as key to the story-line. I will still give it 4 stars though, as I do intend to read the series as it continues. I am not yet bored by her, and the story-telling is good stylistically and contains a lot of interesting ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

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Scarlet Women: An author explains

 

An interview with:

Scarlet Risque 

 author of:

Red Hour Glass

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

The Hourglass series is a sociopolitical discourse about capitalism and how top down decisions affects the lives of ordinary people. I am fascinated with financial centers and major property acquisition players. My approach is unique as I do not state the obvious but let the reader decide what is obvious to them.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? 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?

The Red Hourglass took four years to write and I was actively writing the book in five different countries. I research different topics that interest me on a daily basis through a combination of Wikipedia, news, YouTube, books and talking to people who are in similar positions or characteristics to those I write of.

I visited New York twice (2011 and 2013) and wrote the subway scenes by spending a long time observing homeless people begging for change. It was a novelty to me, and I was immediately drawn to that. I wrote the first scene of the White Queen finding Mary in the subway back in 2011 as I was inspired by the subway stations of New York City when I first visited.


  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

I believe that we write based on what we know over a period of many years and try to condense it in a novel form that is easy and enjoyable to read. Most of the research literature I read are academic and non fiction, they hold no interest to most people.

I wanted to write something I would love to read and still have something to think about. I prefer reading books that allows me to question and find out more answers for myself. In this sense, I try to do just that.

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

Interviews with famous actors on YouTube is my favourite resource as I can play back and study their word choices and way of thinking, to get into their “heads”.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

I would prefer to casually chat with anyone no matter what their position or authority as they give inspiration to different things. I don’t believe in stereotyping. A good way to approach someone is always to get a referral from a friend who knows that person, so that he would speak as naturally as possible instead of putting a professional front. I prefer the realness to my character development sketches. I don’t sketch my characters just based on one person but a few different people usually.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I went directly for self publishing.


  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

Above answer.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I haven’t reached this stage yet, it is something to consider to reach a different target market. It would really depend. From where I am at, most physical book stores and music shops had closed down as they are unable to meet the rent. I believe the trend is towards virtual publication and virtual outreach.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Definitely not. My previous income was much higher as I used to do consultancy. I felt dead inside. Despite the external achievements and materialistic acquistions, it gave me no sense of fulfillment. I gave up my shadow life to pursue writing. I had cut back on my expenses and traveling. Some rewards cannot be measured in monetary terms. I used to dread waking up, but since I turned full time as an artist, I wake up before my alarm and I feel energised to take on the world. I receieve fan mails daily and I feel that is the greatest reward that my work has impacted others.

  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I am on a YouTube “book tour” at the moment on my own channel. I am surrounded by my Knights and minions. What is funny is one of my Knights commented he was waiting for me to do a Sharon Stone Basic Instinct move by crossing my legs. But I didn’t. Haha!
Red Hourglass Available Now: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo International, Barnes and Noble
Weekly YouTube Episodes: The Scarlet Queen YouTube

Follow Scarlet Risque: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Amazon, Wattpad
Website: http://thescarletqueen.com

 Red-Hourglass-3D

Scarlet Risque Releases Her New Romantic Thriller: Red Hourglass

Singapore – A POWERFUL, MYSTERIOUS woman finds a homeless girl in a New York subway and adopts her. Janet swears loyalty to the White family and they train her at their Academy as a secret agent. Before long, her transformation into the Red Hourglass—an assassin—is complete. She is ready to start her missions in service of the White Queen.

In order to learn the whereabouts of her real mother from the White Queen, the Red Hourglass must stop the planned expansion of Wilmar Enterprises. She goes undercover to infiltrate Wilmar, and she is hired as the executive secretary to the Chief of Security, Conan Casey.

Janet works diligently to uncover all Wilmar’s secrets. She soon learns that Conan Casey, her target, is heir to the billion dollar Wilmar organization. She falls prey to his dark seductions and twisted secrets … and they leave her gasping for more.

About the book:
Red Hourglass by Scarlet Risque
ASIN: B0179EKC70
Publisher: ScarletCorp
Date of publish: October 2015
Pages: 249
S.R.P.: $0.99

About the author:
Scarlet Risqué stars in Scarlet Queen YouTube with over a million views. She is the author of the Hourglass (Romance/Thriller) Series. She holds a degree in business. She uses writing, dance, and theater to explore her dark and light desires. She’s a poetic soul where pain and pleasure meet and East collides with West. She is passionate about traveling, dancing and kink. She loves her cat and crystal collection.

Each book in the Hourglass Series has a female lead searching for her identity and truth in today’s world. Set against a backdrop of globalization, these stories of intrigue and espionage are full of undercover agents and themes of dominance and submission.

 

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Another 20 “Forgotten” Words That Should Be Brought Back

Oh what fun – I love this site, so many interesting words to know about!

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Just what are the best sins for each climate? Should we change our behaviour?

A Book Review for NetGalley

Practical Sins

By

Shelley Costa

Somewhere in the cold far north of Canada, there are some lakes that experience a brief summer. A summer full of rain, fog and mosquitoes. But a summer where birds hatch chicks on the lakes and if you are so inclined you can catch fish. You may even catch sight of the loons with their chicks riding on their backs [photo].

In these watery environs you boat or canoe to your destination. Your destination may well be an island and your nearest neighbour is on the next island but one, and it takes 30 mins by boat to go and shop for food, but your family has a cabin here and has been coming here every summer for 100 years or so, and you love the rustic atmosphere.

You sit on Adirondack chairs (which personally I find very uncomfortable). You cover sofas with hand- made afghans and your beds with hand-made quilts of all the summer dresses your forebears wore and cut up when they got too dilapidated.

Your window shutters are held open by hand-hewn logs and you use Native American craftwork for baskets and wall-coverings and rugs. Sometimes you still use the outhouse dug out at the back of the property too.

And when the brief summer ends, you g home to your urban life, sunburnt, covered in mosquito bites, but a little fitter and ready to watch Cable and Netflix and drink cappuccino with multi flavours and eat muffins on the way to work in your glass-sided office block. Warm and safe from wild life and full of noise and bustle.

But some people stay on back at the Northern wilderness. Some are hermits and have run away from the world, or have run to a life that is simpler and others are native to the area and their tribes have lived there for all their memory.

But these tranquil shores are ripe. Ripe to develop. More cottages and marinas and lake shore amenities.

There is the demand.

There is also a continuing demand for good wood from well grown trees – such as the forests that surround the lakes. And the easiest way to obtain this wood is to clear-cut the hills. To de-forest and not to replant.

Prior to the arrival of European-Americans in 1600, about one half of the United States land area was forest, about 4,000,000 square kilometres (990,000,000 acres). 95% of the original forests were logged during the past 200 years.

Clearcutting produces: Torrential floods wash away the rich topsoil and gouge deep ravines, exposing rocks, clay or sand. The bare earth is saturated with plant-killing chemicals, the land bulldozed, the remaining branches and fallen tree trunks soaked with gasoline and set on fire; every living thing above and below the ground is dead. The entire scene is crisscrossed with dirt roads leading to…nowhere. Only 20% of the US forests are protected.

Once a logging company deforests an area, the landowner now has several acres of clear land. Prompted by money, a landowner can sell these acres to developers for new housing complexes.

So your sins relate to the practicalities of living in this wilderness area. Adultery is always popular, but sometimes the only way out is murder.

Into this life comes Valjean looking for her hermit author.

I really liked this story and thought it was well written. However, there were times when I got somewhat confused about the characters and their relationships to each other.

Overall good story. Some interesting ideas and concepts and morality questions raised.

4 stars.

 

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