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Billionaires of the USA

Last in this series about 3 friends who are all billionaires. Lucky them! Each male has had a romance written about them and in this final one we have the biggest playboy – who never spends more than 2 nights with any girlfriend – just in case they think he might get serious. Too wary of his money and influence? So his friends bet him that he can have 5 dates with the same girl just as he was meeting his baseball club’s physiotherapist for the first time. And she is chosen.

Again the story follows the trope with the slight addition of a child to make things difficult for them. A delightful girl who loves ponies. I thought that was a theme that could have been followed up as the billionaire tells her he has ponies. Instead the baseball theme is followed up and she starts learning softball.

This is competent but again not exciting. The characters don’t have a great deal of life on the page. They perform as expected but without a great deal of humour or snark.

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Medieval Forensics?

This is a 10 book series – and yes, I did read them all in one great reading splurge…

Important characters:

Dayna – the forensics expert; Grimshaw – a griffin; Liam a type of deer but not; Abbess Thea – an owl; Perrin , Holly and Destiny,

 Not to mention Fitzwilliam, Shelley and Esteban – Dayna’s boyfriend in the police.

A large cast of characters, all of whom manage to speak English, though they may have their own languages as well and also magical or ancient languages. After all, we are not on Earth are we?

Dayna is (accidentally) called into this fantasy land by a gold coin she finds in a cavity in the body she is examining at a crime scene. The coin could have been picked up by anyone, but was aimed at someone with forensics knowledge as the world she was called into was still operating as a Medieval society.  So no mechanical items, no science, but poisons and other mysterious happenings including murder that was difficult for them to find out who-dunnit.

Rather reminiscent of the Cadfael TV series (and Ellis Peters books,) with Derek Jacobi – as the monk who solved murders with medieval herbs and elementary forensics, I immediately saw the TV episodes in my mind, once I started reading these books! I liked both…

If you are going to live in a medieval palace/tower with only a fire to keep you warm and are going to spend a lot of the time riding around in cold weather, she clearly needed to think more practically.

I thought Dayna was being less than practical. Once she discovered that she could take a knapsack to and fro, I would have packed the following for her:

Caffetiere

Metal kettle for a fire

Coffee grounds

Aspirin and ibuprofen

Arnica gel and tablets

Plasters and needles and thread

Other over the counter medicines as suitable including anti-diarrhoea meds,

Other instant / dried drinks eg milk, chocolate etc

Chocolate bars

Protein bars

Apples – fresh plus assorted dried fruit

Packets of soup – instant (and other instant foods)

Lemons and limes

Fleeces

Long Johns and silk underwear

Padded riding knickers and saddle pads (fleece lined and waterproof jodhpurs)

Fleece lined wooly hat.

Thermal socks.

Neck gaiter

Waterproofs and hiking trousers that were fleece lined

Ski wear

and look at these lined riding boots – who wouldn’t want to wear them?

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I enjoyed these books and binge read all 10.

5 stars for something new in the fantasy genre.

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Breeding a champion

Cat owns a horse breeding farm. Now I knew very little about this aspect of horses so I researched it. I found an article in the Horse magazine which was informative of how a large breeding facility operates.

What they are attempting to do is to provide a controlled environment for the breeding. Artificial insemination is not used, so they use live stallions for the breeding. It is a high cost business. As well as the controller- to keep track of ins and outs, there is the agronomist whose job it is to produce pastures that are both balanced in their nutrients and palatable to the horses. There are the vet and their technician, who take bloods, ultrasounds and check on the health and ovulation of the mares. Including palpating/ultrasounding mares for breeding soundness and estrous cycle timing; using that information to plan breedings; checking for pregnancies and problems; administering treatments; and monitoring stallion fertility. They also handle preventative care such as plasma administration for foals; deworming; vaccinations; and caring for sick animals; confirming ejaculation occurred; evaluating sperm motility via dismount semen samples after every breeding; and evaluating sperm morphology (physical shape).  Mares will undergo uterine bacterial culturing prior to the breeding season. This allows time to treat any infection present and avoids “wasted” breedings. Mares are also cultured if they don’t get pregnant on the first cycle; the samples are evaluated at the farm, as are foals’ immunoglobulin levels. Amazingly technical and complicated work to ensure a successful pregnancy that will produce a foal that can win races and then – if male – earn lots of dosh at stud.

Then there is the barn manager who looks after the mares and foals general care; and marketing – of the stallions and facilities available; plus someone for all the following roles: assistant controller; stallion administrator; certified public accountant; farm manager; seeding of pastures; projects coordinator; landscape architect; director of bloodstock services; insurance; sales coordinator; and transport.

So compared to all these staff we can see that Cat’s farm is very small ‘fry’.

This story is a romance with horses, mystery and suspense, and some murder thrown in for good luck. We are not privy to the police side of things, but we do have a horse whisperer from Ireland, who also has second sight, who needs to get his colt to race and win well so that he can be used for stud – at exorbitant charges.

 Quite an insight into also just how many staff there are at a race course to look after the horses all of whom have a separate job – grooming; stall work; walking a ‘hot’ horse after racing; riding a horse to train him and so on. No wonder it costs so much to race horses! And to buy a Thoroughbred horse.

All the English classics are for three-year-olds, and are designed to establish which horses are the best of that generation, so they can then be bred from. As breeding has become more commercialised, with powerful studs such as Darley and the mighty Coolmore in Ireland, so racing has in some respects become secondary, a means to the end of producing commercial stallions. According to the Guardian newspaper, 2009 :

A really good stud could impregnate least 100 mares a year; the owner of each mare is likely to pay around £75,000 for the privilege; he thus stands to make at least £7.5m a year. He could cover 400 mares if the owners wanted to work him really hard.  And this happens for around 20 years!

Sea and Sand earned  $250,000 per mare! – or pregnancy in 2009. This is Uncle Mo- in 2017: The champion American juvenile of 2010, he has established himself as the dominant stallion of his generation.

His first two-year-olds earned $3,675,294 in 2015, a record figure for a North American first-crop sire that eclipsed the previous benchmark of $2.8 million set by Tapit in 2009. 

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The most expensive stud – Galileo – in 2008 was reputed to earn over $600,000 per pregnancy!

So 4 stars for learning about thoroughbreds..

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Senatorial?

This book starts with something I didn’t realize ever existed, let alone still did, which is the Rape and Marriage laws.

Not that long ago a child (!) of 11 was married in Florida to her rapist, because – get this, she had had a child as a result of the rape. This resultant child  meant that the minimum age for marriage could be ignored!

It appears that even still, the Federal Govt can provide an exception to the minimum age for marriage in the case of a rape.

It is still the case in  a large number of countries, that after a rape, the woman is forced into marriage with the rapist – as rape is not rape within a marriage!

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There were also some good points made about campaigns for racial and social equality and what would happen if the senators etc found out they were black and that Renee and her daughter were ‘passing’. But this was not enough to redeem the somewhat sludgy writing.

I confess, I did not finsih this book. I got just over half-way through, but the the 2 weird sects and the ‘happenings’ and… I just could not be bothered.

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Social media and Connections

Whilst they say this is her debut novel, I have read her previous book – which was semi(?) autobiographical. I really like her style of writing.

The concept of ‘ghosting’ – that is going silent after several dates is interesting and also nasty. When you’ve been meeting up and regularly talking to people and then they go completely silent on you, yu always wonder why they did it, was it your fault, what could have happened, how could they do this to you and so on. Whether it is a male date or a female friend – at least you thought they were a friend until.. it takes a lok of self awareness to realize it is not you but them that is at fault. You did not cause this – they did and it is their own emotions and lack of empathy that has done this.

I liked the idea of her cookery books, and as a student, could really have done with the one about cooking on a 2 burner hob – though that was my first introduction as it happens, to cooking for myself when I had a small room in a house. I learned very simple 1 pot meals – my favourite being hot dogs and rice and peas all cooked together with a good dollop of tomato sauce!

Taking on the difficulties of living with someone who has Alzheimer’s was good. It is a scourge that is affecting so many older men – more than women in our friends – I knew only one woman with it, but several men with either that or a form of dementia which was equivalent.

It can be very difficult to adjust to. The forgetfulness, the emotional highs and lows, the wandering and getting lost and sometimes the physical rage and hitting out from frustration.  Even more difficult when the woman is many years younger than the man and was looking forward to more years of companionship than this illness gave them .

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