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H.A.L.F.

An insightful and well written review. I appreciate the insight here 🙂

LITERARY TITAN

The Deep Beneath (H.A.L.F., #1)

H.A.L.F by Natalie Wright tells the story of H.A.L.F 9, a Human-Alien Life Form that escapes from the military facility where he was created. During the course of his escape, H.A.L.F 9 meets teenagers, Erika, Jack and Ian, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Among other abilities, H.A.L.F 9 has extreme telekinetic and telepathic powers which make him a valuable asset to the government and one that they are not willing to lose. The government, claiming ownership of H.A.L.F 9’s life, sets out to retrieve him. Having no human technology that can match H.A.L.F 9’s power, they have to enlist a force stronger and more cunning than even H.A.L.F 9 is prepared to face.

Right from the start of the book the characters are likable and relatable. Even though the first couple of chapters were a bit confusing, each one was intriguing enough to make me want to keep…

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#JeanBookNerd tour for #HALFTheMakers book 2 in @NatalieWright #ya #scifi series with #review and #giveaway

Blog tour is almost over. Only one more day to enter the big giveaway!

Mama Reads Blog

h-a-l-f-the-makers-official-tour-banner
the-makers
Synopsis 

Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.

You’ve seen the aliens known as “the Greys” in movies and on T.V. But what if everything you think you know about them is wrong?

And what if the Greys are only the beginning?

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from the underground lab and promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay?

On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the…

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Manic Monday: Colorado Students School the School Board on Democracy and Fight Back Against ‘Big Brother’

1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell

One of my all-time favorite books is 1984 (Signet Classics) by George Orwell. You like dystopian? Now that’s dystopian! 1984 may not be a horror story per se, but to me it is may be the scariest story ever written.

Scary because it feels plausible. And scary because for a person such as myself who values the freedom of thought and speech above all else, there is nothing more frightening than losing both.

1984 was published in 1948 as the super powers entered the cold war. Orwell may have been reacting to the events in pre-war Germany and Italy or perhaps looking east toward Russia and China.

But a recent news article brought Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece to mind. Have you heard about the brave students, educators and parents in Jefferson County, Colorado that are fighting back against an all right-wing school board?

Via Associated Press
Via Associated Press

I found this story via the LA Times. Apparently the recently-elected school board decided that it did not like the AP History curriculum. Here is a quote from the board calling for instruction in which “theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights.”

Okay, we’ll stop it right there for a moment. Read the words of the school board closely. “Promote citizenship, patriotism …” Sound familiar? Does it not sound like the “Ministry of Truth” from 1984, the organization responsible for propaganda and historical revision? After all, Winston Smith’s job in 1984 was to rewrite past newspaper articles so that they always reflected the current party line. This is exactly what the Jefferson County school board is attempting to do.

The school board also said: “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard for the law.”

I suppose, then, that the board proposes that students not learn about the Civil Rights movement, Women’s Suffrage movement, and other events in which citizens used their rights of Free Speech (yes, you know that thing guaranteed by the First Amendment, i.e. the law) to attempt to change to system and obtain freedom for all people, not just the white male people.

In fact, the board’s plan to revise the history books was “drafted in response to a new set of history standards adopted by the College Board, which gives more attention to minorities, Native Americans and pre-Columbus early American history.” (Source, Portland Press Herald.) (As an aside, the Herald also reports that the school board blames the student protest on “dissident teachers”, a phrase which also sounds a lot like it came from a spin-doctor handbook. If someone points out the problems with your agenda or policy, then call them “dissident” or “crazy” to discredit them.)

There was a well-written opinion piece on the Huffington Post blog yesterday written by Joseph Palermo. Mr. Palermo, speaking about Gretchen Carlson and Ken Witt, said: “And I doubt if Carlson and Witt ever heard of George Orwell who wrote: ‘Who controls the past controls the future. And who controls the present controls the past.'”

What Ms. Carlson or Mr. Witt know (or think) is probably irrelevant. They are mere pawns belching out the party line. You can be very sure that the right wing politicos behind this move in Colorado, even if they have never heard of George Orwell, absolutely know how to gain power through control of history. And make no mistake that their agenda is to control propaganda so that they can increase their own power.

That’s what totalitarian regimes do. And that’s what we’re talking about here.

Totalitarian is a system of government with only one party (or leader) having complete control and power over the people.

And what is the antonym for totalitarian?

Democracy.

And what is the foundation of democracy?

Freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, the freedom of speech in our country mainly serves the purpose these days of delivering free porn to every smart phone, tablet and computer in America. As I write this, more people right now are viewing porn than are engaging in political debate. Many, many, many more people.

That’s okay with the Koch brothers and their ilk. Because if you are sidetracked by porn and cat videos and such, then you’re not paying attention to what they’re doing to consolidate their power. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Kudos to the students, teachers and parents in Jefferson County who saw the move by their school board for what it is: an attempt to white wash history in furtherance of their own political agenda. Kudos for exercising their First Amendment rights. It takes courage to speak out against the actions of institutions and people in power. But now, perhaps more than ever, we all must be vigilant about our freedom and muster the courage we may not believe that we have to preserve our freedom. This is our right – and responsibility – in a free society. I for one feel a surge of hope today as I witness young people pushing back against what is most assuredly a threat to their freedom of thought.

Writer Wednesday with Karen Myers: Getting Friendly with My Characters

Some people think of a novel and a movie version as at least roughly equivalent, at least from the perspective of the story.  Yes, a novel allows internal perceptions from the characters in a way difficult for a movie, and movies concentrate on visual tools more than language, but nonetheless, the stories and characters are at least recognizably related.


Others have a different view, one which I agree with.  They maintain that the more appropriate match is to a season of a quality television show, in that newish long form that cable television has been cultivating for the last few years.  In other words, a season of Game of Thrones is more similar to a book in that series than any movie could be.
I think this is true for several reasons.  Most obviously, the time it takes to watch, say, 13 episodes is more closely equivalent to the time spent to read a long novel, and thus characters and plots can develop to a similar depth of complexity.


But there’s another feature which isn’t much discussed.  For a reader, reading the novel and watching the entire season of a show in a marathon are a good match.  For a writer, however, a better match to the novel is the full season viewed over time.  The 3+ months of the episodes, one per week, is much closer to the time it takes to write the book.  Here I am not speaking specifically of George R. R. Martin who is notoriously taking a very long time between his sequels, but of myself.
Why do I think the time factor matters?  When I watch a season of shows as they occur, I have a week between episodes to chew on the characters, to speculate about how they will grow over time, what they will do, what complications might ensue.  I learn about my own characters in a similar way over time as I write about them, as I rub them around trying to understand how they fit together, how the intended plot is altered by their personalities in ways I cannot entirely control.  I don’t do this while I’m actually writing so much, but in all the other hours of the day, as if I were speculating about a popular show that only I can see.


By thinking so long and hard about my own characters I give them a sort of mental life.  They’re something like friends.  I feel for their distresses as I sympathize with their joys.  I obsess over certain scenes that seem primal to me, as I might reread a special moment in a favorite book when I’m in a particular mood.  Until I write those scenes down, anything could happen.  After I’ve made it concrete to myself, I can’t change it radically, as if the event had reality outside of my imagination and now was an immutable part of the character’s history.


It’s very odd.  No wonder writers walk around mumbling about their characters and the independent lives they lead.  I can’t imagine having two wildly unrelated works going simultaneously, where the characters inhabit different moral universes.  It would be like trying to live with two sets of incompatible in-laws at the same time, always trying 
to reconcile them.

*     *     *

Thank you Karen for a great post. I love the cover of her book! I’m going to check it out. If you’d like to learn more about Karen or her book, visit these links:

Karen Myers writes, photographs, and fiddles in the picturesque foxhunting country of the Virginia Piedmont.
A graduate of Yale University from Kansas City, Karen has lived with her husband, David Zincavage, in Connecticut, New York, Chicago, California, and for the past several years in Virginia, where they both follow the activities of the Blue Ridge Hunt, the Old Dominion Hounds, the Ashland Bassets, and the Wolver Beagles.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 5 Tips for Celebrating Spring as the Ancients Might Have


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Fantasy Comments & Graphics

The bacchanalian holiday celebrating all things green and Irish is just around the corner. But did you know that St. Patrick’s Day traces its origins to an ancient rite of spring known as Ostara? Long before there was green beer, Leprechauns with pots of gold and crockpots full of corned beef, ancient peoples paused in mid-March to celebrate the coming spring.

St Patrick's Day Comments
Because the ancient Celts passed on their traditions, histories and stories orally, little is known of the ways that the Celts honored the passing of the seasons. But the coming of spring is a reason to celebrate and our penchant to party this time of year may well be a rite of spring going back thousands of years.

If you’re tired of green beer and cabbage, here are five tips to help you connect with the ancient roots of Ostara and celebrate the coming Spring the way our ancestors might have:

 1. Sweep and Rake: Get out your broom and sweep away the leaves and dust blown in by the winter winds. Rake up the old leaves mushed onto the grass by the snow. Clear away the dead things left from fall and winter to make room for the new growth of spring.
 2. Tend Your Garden: Roll up your sleeves, grab your spade, and get your hands dirty. Even if your garden is a high-rise patio, tend to the plants in your part of the world. Snip the dead blooms, prune, feed, water and show the green things in your world some love.
 3. Take a Hike: Preferably with your sweetie. Enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood park or hike into the forest or desert near you. Take in the signs of the change from cold, dead and dreary to warm, blooming and colorful. Who knows, maybe the time together in the great outdoors will kindle the fires of romance.
 4. Create a Feast of the Season: Make an outing to a local farmer’s market or, if there isn’t such a market near you, check out the produce at your neighborhood grocery. What’s in season? What’s fresh? Collect your bounty of the season and cook a Spring Feast.
 5. Party! Share that feast that you lovingly prepared with your friends and family. If it’s warm enough, take the feast outside and party in your garden. End your evening with a fire to warm the hearts of your guests. It doesn’t have to be a bonfire. Build your fire in a fire pit, chiminea or fireplace. Or if none of those options are available to you, light some candles. The warm glow of the fire’s embers call to mind the warmth of the coming season.


Fairy Comments & Graphics

~Magickal Graphics~

Emily’s House, Book 1 of the Akasha Chronicles, with its setting in both modern and ancient Ireland, is the perfect read for the St. Patrick’s Day season.

Emily’s House, Book 1 of the Akasha Chronicles, by Natalie Wright


Teaser Tuesday: Preparation for the Killing Time



This teaser Tuesday is brought to you by Emily’s House, Book 1 of the Akasha Chronicles. This is from Chapter 33, entitled “The Sword of the Order”. Check it:

. . .

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“That sword
have no owner but was used by last High Priestess of the Order of Brighid.”
“Saorla.”
“Yes,
and many priestesses before her. Like the torc on your arm, it was crafted by
the Fair Sidhe for the Order of Brighid.”
I
practiced swinging, thrusting and flying with the beautiful sword in my hand.
It felt like an extension of my arm, like it was a part of me.
“Miss
Emily ready for next combat lesson?”
“Yes,”
I said as I continued to practice my moves.
“For a
true warrior, life is sacred. A warrior with honor never kills unless she must.
But when she must kill, a warrior is prepared to take the life of another – or
to die – if honor requires it. Are you prepared to take the life of another?
Could you kill Dughall if necessary?”
I
hadn’t thought of that. Up to that point my mission had been a bit abstract. Kill someone? The thought hadn’t crossed
my mind.
It’s
not like I’m against a person killing another to save their own life or the
life of someone they love, but I never thought I’d be the one doing the
killing. Doubt crept through my blood like a cold, dark shadow.
“I
don’t know Madame Wong. Honestly, I’m not sure I can kill someone – even
someone as bad as Dughall.”
“Even
if it were necessary to save the ones you love?”
A
scream pierced the air, breaking the icy silence that defined the Netherworld.
A high-pitched scream that was familiar but also seemed like it was from a
long-forgotten dream.
Fanny.


. . .


If you thought that was fun and would like to read more, you can download samples  of Emily’s House at the following stores:
E-Book:
Smashwords*: http://bit.ly/UJuq9M
            *At Smashwords you can download the version of your choice – for Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Sony, PDF, etc. AND, here is a coupon code for 50% off Emily’s Trial at Smashwords: PC28P
Amazon for Kindle: http://amzn.to/R58yyW
Apple iBookstore: http://bit.ly/UWeGeg

       

Teaser Tuesday: A Priestess, An Apocalypse and a Crush

This Teaser Tuesday is brought to you by Emily’s Trial, Book 2 of the Akasha Chronicles. Check it out:

Chapter 1:

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The
Apocalypse didn’t start with four horsemen, harbingers of the horror to come.
It didn’t start with a plague, or pestilence, or even zombies rising from the
dead.
It came
slowly, and without warning. It crept up on people in the shadows, no more than
a vague darkness that spread like an unseen cancer.
And it
wasn’t set into action by a divine hand. A teenage girl was the catalyst for
the End Times.
I should
know. I’m the one that started it.
I didn’t
plan to. I didn’t want to start the End Times, and I’m not evil.
Madame Wong
taught me to tell the truth, and so here it is. I’m the one responsible for the
Apocalypse. And this is the story of how I unwittingly unlocked the door to the
darkness; of how a Priestess of the Order of Brighid, entrusted with powerful
magic that was supposed to be used for the benefit of all humankind, unleashed
a force that would destroy it instead.
And it all
began with desire.
.     .     .
I know, it’s a short excerpt, but that’s why they call it a teaser!

If you thought that was fun and would like to read more, you can download samples at the following stores:
E-Book:
Smashwords*: http://bit.ly/UJuq9M
            *At
Smashwords you can download the version of your choice – for Kindle, Nook,
iTunes, Kobo, Sony, PDF, etc. AND, here is a coupon code for 50% off Emily’s Trial at Smashwords: PC28P
Amazon for Kindle: http://amzn.to/R58yyW
Apple iBookstore: http://bit.ly/UWeGeg