Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction

Pinning the King?


 A very interesting book to me as:
a: I have been to Medellin where the story is partially set in Colombia;
b: I have been watching the Netflix docudrama Narcos as result of a and knowing a number of really nice Colombians;
c: Thinking about the issues around the whole story of drug taking and money laundering (so many people talk about this house or that retail or food outlet being a drug laundering home in London, and they also talked about the new flats being built along the seaside as being money laundering to us in Colombia). When the traditional style in Cartagena looked much more Spanish.

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There is still a culture of tremendous violence amongst drug cartels as we see almost daily in Mexico and this was commonplace in Colombia too, although it much safer and less crime ridden than it used to be.
It is also a beautiful country – great coffee too
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Corcoran Valley

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Cloud Forest


 – with marvellous orchids and butterflies and other flowers
butterfly 9


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finca garden orchid2

Finca garden orchid

finca garden 10

Finca garden

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Traditional Finca

I was then fascinated by the ‘heroine’ who is also an anti-heroine in many ways. After all, she came from a family of drug sellers and had already started money laundering for her father so it wasn’t such an extension for her to take on this role for the bigger guys.
But then I started wondering about Stockholm syndrome as she fell in love with her ‘captor’.
She seemed to thrive on a quite violent erotic love life.  They claim to love each other but violence always seems to simmer under the surface and makes you wonder if this was part of their socialisation as a child or their characters or something in the psychological make-up of their relationship as master and ‘slave’.
Stockholm syndrome or capture-bonding, according to Wikipedia, is a psychological phenomenon described in 1973 in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors. Joseph Carver writes about the mystery of loving your abuser, and this is certainly part of what we see here.
This psychological bond with the abuser is a survival mechanism, and 4 situations assist in the bond being formed.
  • The presence of a perceived threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat.
  • The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
  • Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
  • The perceived inability to escape the situation
All of these 4 are present in the situation of Mariana and also included the threat to her family if she didn’t conform would have initiated the relationship.
 My final thoughts on the book.
It was very well written and compulsive reading. I just had to keep on reading, and found myself empathising with characters who really were not very nice but yet had serious personal issues that made you feel for their situations.
The situation was well described and Mariana’s feelings well expressed. It was a book that needs to be read.
(ps it stands alone – Bk1 is not require to understand the storyline)

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Books/book review/Romance

What to do when your heart breaks

An honest review for NetGalley
And here we have another dog at the heart of the tale: Jake – who is clearly a prime candidate for a PAT dog in a hospital ward. And yet for whom does he provide reassurance? The patient? Or the therapist? Sometimes it is clearly both or neither.
And of course, PAT dogs are not owned by the person using them – just loaned, and this is the case here too.
Jake is a Great Pyrenean Mountain Dog. Which are very large and very furry. Great_Pyrenees_Tavish They are Strong Willed, Gentle, Confident, Fearless, Patient, Affectionate, Calm, Composed, and Serious.
As an adult, they are quiet indoors and content with longish daily walks and regular opportunities to stretch out. They resemble a majestic white bear. And as they like people they can easily mope when left alone for long periods. Hence the dog coming along to the therapy sessions in this story.
So this is a story with a therapist at the heart of it, who is certainly in need of the ‘therapist heal thyself’ sessions. Now in the UK a clinical psychologist for sure would need to have regular supervision to unload their concerns and to ensure that they do heal themselves, but here, of course, the therapist is dealing with dating disasters, break-ups,  and people who can’t move on from a bad relationship. So a very specialised area, that, according to the book, is almost unique in its approach.
It is interesting how many people seem to use social media – especially Facebook to stalk their ex’s.  I am not in that circle of people but do they really put down every date they have every time they have one? And update their status?  So I checked this out and found it to be true. An article in the Mail online stated ‘this so-called Facebook 'stalking' can leave lasting damage by prolonging the distress, and it can even affect our future relationships.
In particular, the behaviour creates a cycle in which the site is used for reassurance, but ultimately makes us feel worse about the situation which makes us seek out further reassurance. ‘
Seeing an ex-partner flirting with other people, or changing their relationship status, triggers negative feelings, which leads them to seek a coping mechanism and the cycle is repeated.
Such behaviour can also make it harder for the 'stalker' to recover from the breakup, which may lead to more problems in future relationships.
 Now our heroine comes from a family where the mother was quote controlling and almost OCD in her ‘everything has a place’.  Although  I have to say, if you really want to find your keys again, a bowl where you always put them is incredible useful – except when they aren’t there, as one of our car keys isn’t at the moment – and of course, coat hooks are essential items.

I hadn’t realised that lanais were used anywhere except in Hawaii, but it seems in this part of the Floridian countryside, they were – where homes were built alongside the canals – (and presumably the mosquitoes and no-see-ums too!) 

lanai2By the way, in case you haven’t come across no-see-ums they are the worst little biter ever and can get through most normal mosquito screens. They are tiny flies which are barely visible, but they have large dagger-like mouthparts with which they gash small holes in the skin through which they suck blood. Like mosquitoes, no-see-ums have an anticoagulant agent in their saliva and some people have a severe reaction to this foreign material being injected through the skin, myself included. Major red welts may form, some with tiny blisters in the middle. This is kind of reaction is not that uncommon and people getting welts may continue to have the symptoms for nearly two weeks. Two weeks – try months…
The technical name for the insect family of these tiny flies is Ceratopogonidae, and they are given various names worldwide - no-see-ums, punkies, biting midges, and sand flies. The adults are no more than 2 mm long, but their bite certainly feels like something larger. They are generally found in swarms (!) along seashores, and around lakes or rivers. They will bite any exposed skin, but they seem to prefer the arms, legs and back of the neck.
In my own experience they are difficult to avoid and we are back to the taste of your bacteria I guess here, as my son and I once got bitten so heavily by them, that we lost count at over 100 bites! Needless to say, I am refusing to go back to Florida as that is where they attacked me.
I was interested to see that the character Ben – the architect –was interested in green architecture and liked the High Line. We walked it recently and were very impressed by what had been done [photos] and there are a couple of projects in London that are trying to replicate the concept.
We also have the side story of someone who is pregnant and finding it very hard to come to terms with the concept of becoming a mother – and in fact thinks of the baby as a suckerfish draining the life out of her.  
I sort of know what this feels like from my own pregnancies – where the baby’s health is paramount and all the things you used to do are now not feasible for all sorts of reasons that mainly come back to being pregnant... [and in my case being constantly sick – I swore I had picked up the worst tummy bug ever initially as I lay on the couch moaning and being sick and dizzy when I stood up – even fainting at one stage – but yes, it was just our son making his initial presence known...]
So a story about love and getting over it – or not – and how therapy can be used to help and the therapist who needs her own sessions!

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Books/Random and interesting items/writing/authors/crime fiction

With Answers from Russia!

Sergey Mavrodi tells us all - from Russia with Answers!
  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?
  1. Lucifer’s Son, (The Temptation Chronicles, Book 1) was conceived when I was incarcerated in a Russian prison. Having seen firsthand the depths to which people would go to achieve instant gratification led me to the concept of how we are tempted to do bad things to achieve what we want. My approach is quite different in that I don’t pull punches nor omit evil deeds to be politically correct.
  2. 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?
  1. Avid reader of Steven King, Dean Koontz and Bram Stoker, I had long wanted to try my hand at writing, and while a prisoner of the Russian government, I had the time.
  2. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?
  1. Much of my adult life was spent studying other people, including the authorities who wrongfully destroyed my multi-level marketing company because they were afraid of what I was accomplishing.
  2. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?
My resources are the people themselves. In fact, much of my writing could be non-fiction except the truth is stranger. I didn’t spice it up, in fact I toned it down.
  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 guess you could say that the authorities were helpful in as much as they demonstrated the worst in humans, yet they did give me time to develop my writing skills while in captivity.
  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?
I was rejected more than one hundred times before I reached W & B Publishers, who decided to take a chance. I had written the book in Russian and it was quite popular in my country, but a little strong for other publishers.
  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?
In Russia, I paid the publisher to issue the book. I did an eBook self-publish on a different work before Lucifer’s Son was accepted by an American publisher.
  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?
With so many self-publishing books on the market place, it is virtually impossible to be a successful author unless you have a publisher. And a publicist. Getting a book published is one thing. Making a success is something quite different. A final thought. Most publishers do not accept self-publishing authors, so it is best to work through an agent.
  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?
Book sales could provide sufficient income, however, I am fortunate in that I don’t need to depend on that source of income.
  1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?
As a resident and citizen of Russia, I don’t do book tours in the American manner. Rather, I send copies out to various bookstores along with marketing materials. And I do autographed copies in mail order. About the funniest thing that occurred was the first result of the translation from Russian into English. It was a blast.

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Books/book review/crime fiction

The Madness of Astrology?

 An honest NetGalley Review The Madness of Mercury
Connie di Marco
As it is written by an astrologer I have to assume all the bits and pieces in it about astrology is correct but it totally lost me with the various planet positions and so on.

I expected a cozy from the cover but I did choose because I liked the cover rather than the content.

On the whole, for me, many cozies are written in a too simplistic style. But here it was the astrology that foxed me and I couldn't be bothered to find out what it all meant.
I was also very surprised that it was so easy to become an astrologer – which I’m afraid has led me to believe in astrology even less. You can learn it over the internet within a few months? Really?
That said, I am an Aries through and through and our son is a Taurus too in characteristics, but that is as far as I will go with it. Although I do read mine in the magazines for luck.
As to anyone believing in them and using these charts to make life changing decisions, well....
On the whole I give this 2 stars.

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Cupcakes and Motorbikes – hmm – what a combination!

 An Honest Review for NetGalley
Now a motorcycle club is usually synonymous with seriously bad guys. Drug running. Gun running. People smuggling and brothels.
So can there be good clubs? Well if they are for recreation, but the one n this story doesn’t seem to be.
This story doesn’t make it clear just what this club does and yur imagination is left to ponder and wonder – they don’t want drugs on their turf but do they do other bad things? And do they smuggle drugs on other clubs’ turfs?
This left me confused and conflicted about the story.
I always love a woman who can fend for herself and who can take on unsavoury (but not exactly illegal) work because it pays the bills. But here the job was ok but I wasn’t at all sure about the boyfriend. Yes an alpha male on a motorbike is seriously hot but?
And a member of a club with a nice wooden cabin and dog?
Just who was this guy and what was this business about the club and him being an enforcer for it?
Now the Chavez brothers – Hector and Carlos I can quite believe in. But please note: Hector Chavez was a very famous person – a Mexican politician and Carlos is a classical musician, so better names could have been chosen.
I know quite a bit about the Colombian drug wars as 
1. I have visited Colombia and Medellin where most of the violence happened; (but are now in much safer condition and very lovely, see photos below; and 
2. I am watching Narcos  and getting a dramatised history. 

I know some Colombians quite well and the country is lovely – away from the jungle. There is a wonderful National Park across the Andes which looks like Switzerland and Medellin is known as being in a state of permanent Spring due to the temperature and lack of seasons. Very pleasant town now.
butterfly 9

Butterfly in Finca Garden

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Finca veranda

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The Cloud Forest outside Bogota

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Cloud Forest and National Park

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Traditional building from Spanish invasion


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