Monthly Archives: August 2016
Book Review: The Dream Protocol by Adara Flynn Quick
Series: The Dream Protocol Book 1
Author: Adara Flynn Quick
Publication Date: May 18, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
The Dream Protocol Book 1
Adara Flynn Quick
Adara Quick, May 2016
From the author—
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T GET OLD.
In fiery young Deirdre Callaghan’s home of Skellig City, no one has dreamt their own dream in over a thousand years. Dreams are produced by the Dream Makers and sold by the Ministry, the tyrannical rulers of the city. In Skellig City, years of life are awarded equally and the ruined are cast away beneath the city on their 35th birthday.
Unbeknownst to the Ministry, Deirdre’s handsome friend Flynn Brennan is afflicted with a terrible disease – a disease that accelerates the aging process. Knowing his fate if the Ministry should ever discover his illness, Flynn has lived his whole life hiding from their watchful eyes. When Flynn’s secret is finally discovered, Deirdre is determined to free him from the Ministry’s grasp. But to save him, she will have to reveal herself to a shadowy enemy…one that none of them even knew existed.
I confess to being sort of betwixt and between when it comes to what I think of The Dream Protocol: Descent and most of my ambivalence arises out of gaps in worldbuilding, a couple in particular. First, was I correct in thinking early on that this takes place in Ireland, given the profusion of Irish names and idioms, not to mention an Otherworld of the gods? Also, since the surface is obviously safe, why are the great majority of people forced to live underground?
That second item does explain why Deidre questions so much about her life and it gives credibility to her resistance to the current state of affairs. Imagine an existence driven solely by dreams of all the wonderful things life could offer if only that life were in the open and free from all the restrictions imposed by a tyrannical government. Wouldn’t you at some point want to experience these things for real?
There have been books and movies—Logan’s Run comes to mind—before that focus on age as a reason to be executed and they almost always have a euphemistic term for it. In this case, it’s called the Ritual of Descent because the person whose time has come is forced to “descend” into the deepest part of the underground city, never to be seen again. The reason for this is simple: those past their 35th birthday must not be allowed to darken the existence of the young. I like what Ms. Quick has done with this concept and how she lets Deirdre’s discontent grow into something much more powerful. Add to that the simply wonderful Flynn who has deadly problems of his own and we have the beginnings of a terrific story which will be continued in the next volume, Selection.
About the Author
Irish-American author, Adara Flynn Quick, is the writer of The Dream Protocol series. Early in her career, Adara was fascinated by dreams, the unconscious, and the healing stories of many cultures. As a contemporary author, she writes young adult literature that brings ancient myths and legends into futuristic worlds. She is an accomplished visual artist and uses her background as a psychotherapist to inspire the finest and darkest moments of her characters.
Driven to distraction by her computer, Adara writes all of her stories longhand. Pen and paper are two of her favorite things. The author tortures her husband with a passion for downtempo electronica and too many pillows. She is a firm believer that there are never enough pillows.
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What Happens in Vagus
Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today with thoughts of finding joy in life, in the little things.
The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.
firstname.lastname@example.org // http://www.sunnyfrazier.com
No, I didn’t spell that wrong. While a lot can happen in Vegas, I want to talk about a nerve you never knew you had in your body. But first, I want to tell you how I got acquainted with mine.
I was at a friend’s house and just finished lunch. I went to use the bathroom. All of a sudden I got unbearably hot. Not menopause hot. I inexplicably started tearing off my clothes. I was sweating and anything against my body felt awful. After awhile, my friend came to check on me. I asked if she had a very loose garment I could wear. She gave me a duster. I managed to make it to the couch and just lay there until I had the strength to get up and get dressed.
Months later, on my birthday, I was at the same friend’s house having ice cream and cake. My sister was there and (important to the story) she happens to be a critical care nurse. Again, I left to use the restroom. All of a sudden I was throwing up. I felt weak. The pristine bathroom tiles looked inviting. I lowered myself to the floor and experienced bliss.
Eventually, I was missed and they came looking for me. I couldn’t open the door and I wouldn’t get off the floor. When I was able to sit up, I opened the door a bit. They tried luring me to the bed, which seemed far too high. No, I was very happy right where I was.
That’s when my sister told me about the Vagus Nerve. You see, she’d had a similar episode while at work in the hospital. She went from feeling okay to sliding down to the floor. And, like me, it was cool and inviting. She didn’t want to get up despite the worry of the other nurses.
The Vagus Nerve is one of the longest nerves in the body. It goes from the brain stem to the heart and stomach. It regulates your involuntary nervous system and controls things like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, sweating and gag reflexes. If you faint at the sight of blood, blame it on your Vagus Nerve.
Although it’s unclear what triggered my episodes, I had all the symptoms: clammy skin, excessive sweating, pallor, nausea, drop in blood pressure and the urge to get flat on the floor. Oh, did I mention I asked for and ate toothpaste? I wanted something cool, minty and creamy in my mouth and that seemed like the perfect treat. Fortunately, my friend had an unopened tube and didn’t think I was a complete idiot.
Apparently, being prone on the floor was the right move. Blood leaves the brain and fainting often occurs. I went down before I reached that stage. That gave my body a chance to get the blood flowing again and push the heart rate up.
What if this had happened in public? Often mistaken for a heart attack, that’s how paramedics would treat it. At a conference, I saw this happen to an author and I spent all night in the hospital emergency ward with her. People thought it was stage fright as she was supposed to sing in the talent show. She proved them wrong by belting out the song at the closing ceremony.
Last week it happened to one of the techs at my dialysis clinic. It was diagnosed as an anxiety attack. I’m betting it was the Vagus Nerve.
So, now you know. Spread the word. What happens in Vagus shouldn’t stay in Vagus.
Book Review: The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
The Girls in the Garden
Atria Books, June 2016
From the publisher—
Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?
On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?
What an interesting book this is! I was initially drawn to it by the idea of a community garden and how it could be seen almost as a locked room situation when one of the children is attacked. What really came about, though, is less the kind of mystery I might have expected and more a study of the people living in the community.
The tale is told from three points of view—Pip, sister of Grace; Adele, who’s lived in the community for 20 years; and Clare, mother of Pip and Grace. There are quite a few other characters but it’s these three whose stories are most important. Each has a distinctive presence and drawings done by Pip in letters to her absent father add a sort of charm while they also convey a good deal of pathos. That pathos is real once the reader understands the reason for his absence but Pip’s is not the only emotional upheaval. Certainly Clare has much to deal with and Adele adds a sense of normality and warmth to her observations of others who share the garden while she’s also a textbook enabler.
When I first started reading, I was put off by the use of third person present tense which for me is like nails on a chalkboard. Unfortunately, the depth and appeal of a storyline can’t overcome the way I’m constantly aware of the writing style, and I do mean constantly but, happily, the author switched to third person past tense after the first few pages. The tale takes a somewhat leisurely pace but is filled with the essence of this small community. The resolution of who attacked Grace is sort of anti-climactic but that’s okay because this is really a look at how people affect each other and cope with the vagaries of life.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.
About the Author
Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of twelve novels, including The House We Grew Up In and The Third Wife.
Connect with Lisa
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Renovations Week 4—Done and Almost Finished!
The guys have made lots of progress in the past
seven or eight days. The bathroom started out like this:
And now we have tile with accent and the new gray floor 😉
Meanwhile, the new laundry room has progressed from this:
To this (but no hookups yet):
And Annie has her new floor, same as in the laundry room.
Meanwhile, furry critter nerves are getting
kind of frayed from so much togetherness but…
Trixie spends much of her time in the cat tower…
…when she’s not playing mindgames with Giselle and Holly
who are hiding under the chair from the bully.
But Giselle and Holly have their own time in the tower…
…and snuggling with one or both of us on the sofa.
While Rosie pretends she’s a cat and steals a cuddle with Giselle.
Best of all, the end is in sight!
Book Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais
Chicken House, August 2014
When we think of arranged marriages, what usually comes to mind are child brides in foreign countries or royalty in olden days. For Sphinx and Cadence, things were different, very much so, in fact. Their connection began when their mothers, Sarah and Leigh, met when they were seven. Leigh was the leader, Sarah the follower. As their friendship blossomed, Leigh began scripting everything that would happen to them, beginning with what they’d have as careers, that Sarah would have a girl, while she would have a boy and the two would bond, eventually marrying and provide another connected generation.
Leigh’s plan worked until it didn’t. Both married and got pregnant two months apart. Leigh had a boy, Sarah a girl and they were raised together. Like their moms, one took the lead, the other became a follower. Cadence thought up the best games and Spinx was happy to follow. Happy until the day Cadence took out a knife and sliced her face open.
Sarah’s father was furious, more at not heeding his suspicions about Cadence, raised when at age five, the boy crushed a butterfly and showed neither emotion or remorse. Leigh was devastated and hauled her son off to her house in England where her marriage soon fell apart.
Fast forward to when the kids are sixteen. Spinx has a modest social life, but has never had a boyfriend. She’s mostly content playing soccer and spending time with her girlfriends. Every morning, however, she sees the thin scar on her cheek before applying concealer and it reminds her of Cadence and her still conflicted feelings about him and what he said the day it happened.
A phone call from Leigh, who has remained friends with Sarah, starts in motion a strange journey for Spinx, one that’s both physical and emotional. Cadence has an aggressive form of leukemia and wants her to come see him before he dies. Despite her fear, she realizes that something inside is telling her she has to do this, so she and Sarah agree to come to England for one week.
Despite Cadence’s abruptness and rudeness, Spinx comes to believe that coming was the right thing to do and when it’s time to go, she convinces her mother to let her stay until Cadence dies.
What transpires as she waits for his passing, particularly in terms of her growing insight and understanding make for a compelling read. I expected this to be more of a horror story, but it’s sad and Spinx’s growing awareness of how intertwined the two of them really are is quite insightful, particularly in terms of portraying Cadence and what’s really wrong with him.
Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2016.
No Fleas On Reacher
Jeanne Matthews is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press. Like her amateur sleuth, Jeanne was born with a serious wanderlust. Originally from Georgia, she enjoys traveling the world and learning about other cultures and customs, which she incorporates into her novels. She currently lives in Renton, Washington with her husband who is a law professor. Where the Bones Are Buried, the fifth book in the series, is in bookstores now . You can learn more about Jeanne’s books at http://www.jeannematthews.com
I haven’t gotten as much writing done this summer as I’d hoped and my dearth of accomplishment started me thinking about Colette. Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was the avant-garde French novelist whose works explored the problems encountered by women in their struggle for independence in a male-dominated society. In addition to her writing, she was a journalist and a stage actress, while leading what can only be described as a lively, not to say strenuous, love life. I couldn’t help but wonder what accounted for her productivity.
Like most writers, Colette had a few kinky rituals. The ritual I’ve been contemplating is the one about fleas. She couldn’t sit down and write the first word until she’d spent several hours plucking fleas off her beloved French bulldogs, Toby Chien and Souci. Her cat, Kiki-la-Doucette, offered an equal plentitude of fleas and Colette certainly didn’t neglect Kiki’s grooming. But it was Toby Chien whom the author regarded as her muse, and presumably it was the time she spent scouting for fleas beneath his short, sleek fur that whetted her imagination. Her third husband said that when she finished her daily flea-picking, she leapt up and bounded to her typewriter as if seized by sudden inspiration.
I’ve not read any scientific opinions on the benefits of flea-picking, but it occurs to me that Colette may have attributed her itch to write to the wrong muse. Fleas are remarkable jumpers, able to leap over a hundred times their height, and they’re not finicky about which species they prefer. It occurs to me that Colette may have leapt off the divan and dashed to her typewriter because she’d been bitten by une puce. Not that le chien didn’t contribute some good ideas. I so want to believe in the inspirational potential of les chiens.
A few months ago, I acquired a Norwich terrier named Jack Reacher, after Lee Child’s fictional knight-errant. Through the modern miracle of Frontline and NexGard, Reacher has no fleas. He’s all flealess energy and enthusiasm and curiosity. He is approximately fifty-five inches shorter than Child’s Reacher, but he has amazing – well, reach. Nothing left on the chairs or a low shelf is safe. I’m more likely to leap off the divan to rescue a chewable thesaurus or my husband’s iPod than I am to race to the computer and begin writing. In fact, Reacher Chien is something of an anti-muse.
Like all terriers, he loves games. Remember the movie, “After the Thin Man”? In one scene, someone has thrown a rock through Nick and Nora’s window. The rock has a piece of paper wrapped around it, but before they can get to it, their fox terrier Asta snatches it and gleefully darts away. When Nick and Nora finally chase Asta down and retrieve the message, most of it is missing. “Bad dog,” says Nora. “You ate the clue.” Metaphorically speaking, Reacher is eating my clues before I can write them.
Whenever I feel an idea coming on and head for the computer, Reacher comes roaring through the house with a ball in his mouth, looking irresistibly adorable. Then diabolically, he rolls the ball under the furniture and barks incessantly until I go down on my hands and knees and retrieve it for him. I spend a lot of the day trying to locate and retrieve stolen items – socks, pens, books, eyeglasses. Often they aren’t discovered in their original, pristine condition. My eyeglasses have only one earpiece and Shakespeare’s Bawdy could not be glued back together. He demands at least two walks each day and, in between walks, he wants to sit in my lap – displacing the laptop.
It’s evil, I know, but I’ve considered skipping the Nexgard for a month. If hand-plucking Reacher’s fleas meant that I could finally finish my novel, I might do it. Then again, maybe I’m just suffering from a case of the summer blahs. I’ll look into the customs and rituals of other prolific writers. I read somewhere that Sir Walter Scott wrote while riding his horse. There’s a thought. Reacher could never keep up with a horse.