Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Review: Dark Tide Rising By Anne Perry (William Monk #24)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

View all my reviews

William Monk has changed his profession several times since I began reading the series many, many years ago. Police detective, private detective, investigator for attorneys, etc. His position with the River Police, though, seems to have become his permanent berth. He's settled into the role, assumed the mantle of authority, and formed ties to his men, a change from the alienation he experienced in the early books. Those ties will be challenged in this novel.

Oliver Rathbone contacts Monk on behalf of Harry Exeter. His wife, Kate, has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Exeter is willing to pay the ransom, but it requires that he go to a very dangerous area along the river and he wants protection against robbery (en route) and double-crossing during the transfer. Monk accompanies Exeter personally and stations his men in nearby locations to try catching the kidnappers after the safe return of Kate. Instead, the double-cross does happen, and the police are ambushed in their locations.

Kate Exeter is dead, and clearly the kidnappers knew where Monk’s men were going to be. Someone has provided the information to the bad guys, and it could only be someone involved in the exchange. Monk must investigate his own men to clear or condemn them. They all have secrets, and they all have weaknesses… did one knuckle under to blackmail? Worse…bribery?

One of Monk’s men, John Hooper, often takes center stage during this novel. Like Monk, he is agonizing over the idea that they were all betrayed… and, as the secrets of his fellow officers are revealed, it becomes clear that he has one of his own, and it could cost him everything.

As Monk pursues his leads, the trail of crime enters Superintendent Runcorn’s patch. Runcorn, Monk’s old boss and former enemy, develops his own opinions on the case, which don’t always agree with Monk’s. Runcorn charges the husband with murder, and Monk, with Rathbone, work to prove Harry Exeter innocent.

The case ends with a twist I didn’t expect the author to make. It keeps the story from entirely sinking into the tawdry background of Monk’s many cases (since this is the twenty-fourth Monk novel).
I was pleased to see Monk’s men fleshed out further, even under the unpleasant circumstances, and I enjoyed Runcorn’s bold entry into the investigation. Monk’s wife, Hester, does appear in this book, though not frequently enough for my tastes. Scuff, their adopted son, is maturing nicely and has developed ambitions for his future. Beata, Oliver’s new wife, also makes a brief appearance.

Perry often ends the book shortly after revealing the killer; this is one of those occasions. I like a little more denoument, personally, but it wasn't too abrupt. It did remind me a little of a Perry Mason ending, where all is revealed on the stand.

I accessed this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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Saturday, September 01, 2018

Speaking of Dystopias...


A remarkable amount of fundraising is going on, and much of it is for services we normally associate with the government, or at least public money. Meanwhile, the fields that used to produce income and ad buys, like journalism and fiction writing, has been reduced to begging for sponsors.

Meanwhile, the pizza people are paving roads, because it's not getting done.

Every day is Backwards Day, it seems.

In the last year or two, I've donated to help a child get necessary surgery, to help a friend who lost her home due to a fire, to help another friend in danger of losing the family's home due to outsourcing + crappy job market, and to bury a friend whose family couldn't afford a funeral. In all these cases, I had some form of personal connection to someone involved with the need. Think of all the unpopular people out there - and the names and faces change regularly - who aren't getting help because they are introverted or belong to whichever marginalized group is in bad odor.

This is why we need public funds for assistance: because shit happens. Businesses kept the money from the recent tax cuts for buybacks of stock and consolidating power, not creating jobs so fewer Americans would need to beg. Just because it's on social media doesn't mean it's not a form of begging. Charles Dickens would understand our society very well.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Stephen Zimmer: Why Did I Use Dystopia in Dream of the Navigator?


It's always lovely to have Mr. Zimmer grace my page. He's a dynamo at fan conventions and his word processor. He's back with his newest book, Dream of the Navigator, and invited me to ask him the question of my choice. I've been a fan of dystopian stories since my days as a strange little girl who read science fiction, and have never quite understood why they appealed to me. It seemed perfect, then, to ask why he chose to set this novel in a dystopian world. Below is his reply.

Why Dystopia?

The sciences of today focus almost entirely on the question of whether we can create and start using a given technology rather than whether we should create and use a given technology. New technologies are integrated, and new policies are enacted all the time in our world without a lot of thought for the potential consequences of those decisions.

In my view, dystopian literature is a genre that is well-suited for exploring consequences. Obviously, dystopian settings are already well-immersed within the consequences of earlier decisions, some made ages before the time in which a story takes place.

Consider the Capital in The Hunger Games series. Its authoritarian rule was an end result that likely a great many did not foresee when it was in its formative phases. Likewise, it is pretty reasonable to say that not everyone in earlier times could foresee the imposition of Big Brother and the totalitarian atmosphere in place that is portrayed in the novel 1984.

These worlds did not come into being overnight. They were the result of a progression over a long period time, step by step, leading to the nightmarish dystopias that we read about in the pages of those books.

The environment where the main characters in Dream of the Navigator live is most certainly an authoritarian/totalitarian one. The system is solidly in place, but readers will get a sense of the path that led to it by the time they are finished with the book.

The control of the populace involves the use of both dystopian and utopian ones, in terms of negative and positive reinforcement.

On the dystopian side of things, the pervasive surveillance system exacts immediate penalties for various infractions committed by citizens. It also sweeps up any who are expressing dissent to others or speaking out against the system, taking transgressors to indoctrination centers or even prisons, depending on the level of the dissent displayed.

As far as utopian elements used to maintain control, the system’s primary tool is escapism. Virtual Reality is the most popular form of escapism, but other forms of entertainment are prominent, such as spectator sports and live music (though it should be noted that many “attend” sporting events and live music through the VR technology rather than physically being present).

Even though surveillance is everywhere, an underground of substance abuse is still present in society, which serves as a clue that it is something tacitly allowed by the system.

While being addicted to virtual worlds, entertainment, or substances are not good for any individual, they are all pleasurable things, and as such fall into a more utopian classification when it comes to elements.

The combination of pleasurable, utopian elements with heavy-handed dystopian ones is a powerful one when it comes to subduing a society and keeping it under control. Yet the iron fist that the system wields is always present, which is why the entirety of the technate-based system in Dream of the Navigator lands it comfortably within the realm of dystopian literature.

Dream of the Navigator is an exploration of choices and the consequences that these choices have many years later, even decades later. The dystopian genre gives me fertile ground as a writer to illustrate in a vivid way the dangers of some choices, to the extent that a story like this can serve as a kind of warning of what can happen if we are not careful.

This is why I found dystopia the best atmosphere for the telling of the story contained within the pages of the Faraway Saga.

Thank you, Mr. Zimmer! - Sarah

Dream of the Navigator Blog Tour

August 15-22, 2018


"1984 and Brave New World meets Narnia" in this exciting new young adult release from award-wining author Stephen Zimmer. Four main characters begin their journeys in the Faraway Saga, a tale that invites readers to explore infinite horizons! We are celebrating this new release with a full blog tour featuring reviews, interviews, video contents, guest posts and top ten lists! About the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie novels and novellas(Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), the Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), the Ragnar Stormbringer Tales (Sword and Sorcery), and the forthcoming Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre). Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the forthcoming Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot. Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family.

Book Synopsis for Dream of the Navigator: "1984 and Brave New World meets Narnia" Cities have been replaced by technates. It is a world of soaring apartments, hundreds of stories high, where technology measures, monitors and rations to meet the needs of the greater populace. It is a world of drones, in the air and on the ground, and advanced robotic beings who carry out much of the harder labor, security, and even pleasure assignments. Those discontent, or who resist, are taken to Rehabilitation Centers, established after the embrace of the Greater Good Doctrine. For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence. A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore. What was once reality, now seems like an illusion in a deepening experience. Begin the journey to Faraway, in Dream of the Navigator, the first book of the Faraway Saga!

Author Links: Website: https://www.stephenzimmer.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephenzimmer7
Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Tour Schedule and Activities
8/15 Sheila's Guests and Reviews https://Sheiladeeth.blogspot.com Guest Post
8/15 Jorie Loves A Story https://jorielovesastory.com Review
8/16  MyLifeMyBooksMyEcape https://mylifemybooksmyescape.wordpress.com Author Interview
8/17 Ravenous for Reads https://www.ravenousforreads.com Author Interview
8/17 Will Read For Booze https://www.willreadforbooze.com
8/17 The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn https://saraheglenn.blogspot.com/ Guest Post 
8/18 The Book Lover's Boudoir https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/ Review
8/19 Jazzy Book Reviews http://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com VLog
8/19 Robin's Book Spot https://robinsbookspot.blogspot.com Review
8/20 Soul Meets Books https://soulmeetsbooks.wordpress.com Review
8/21 Sapphyria's Books https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/ Guest Post
8/22 Literature Approved http://literatureapproved.com Review
8/22 Jorie Loves A Story https://jorielovesastory.com Video Interview 

Amazon Links for Dream of the Navigator

Print Version https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Navigator-Stephen-Zimmer/dp/1948042533/ Kindle Version https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Navigator-Faraway-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B07CZTW4V6/
Barnes and Noble Link for Dream of the Navigator https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dream-of-the-navigator-stephen-zimmer/1128993419?ean=9781948042536

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Business-Friendly

From Bullsugar.
Action must be taken to stop the poisonous discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. The red tide that kills fish and causes lung problems for people near the ocean has become an overwhelming summer problem in Florida. Elected state officials, including our governor, assign blame to the federal government. Elected officials in the federal government assign blame to Florida’s elected officials; the floodwaters from Lake O must go somewhere, or endanger the area around the lake. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

For years, there’s been a proposed Agricultural Area Reservoir to assist the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, which would direct more water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay, and rid the water of pollutants as well. The plans for this reservoir have been batted back and forth for at least a decade, but the Florida legislature has dragged its heels on actually building the thing. Acres keep getting removed from the plan and nothing’s being done.

Well, that’s not 100% correct. Florida has a ‘business-friendly’ government—the sort that has reduced the lunch ‘hour’ to 30 minutes and has made temp work a way of life. It also posts warnings to individual citizens about not using fertilizer, while allowing agribusiness to dump ‘nutrients’ (i.e. runoff) into Lake O. One rule for citizens, another rule for donors. The wildlife in the ocean doesn’t matter to some business owners nearly as much as the bottom line, and the same goes for the rivers and the people who live next to it. It’s a shame, but campaigns cost money.


https://www.floridaphoenix.com/2018/08/07/floridas-summer-of-slime-stuart-and-lake-okeechobee/
From the Florida Phoenix.
Then, there’s our ‘business-friendly’ federal government, which has spent the last couple of decades gutting the Clean Water Act. No teeth at the federal level, permissiveness at the local level. We know that the fish don’t matter. The manatees don’t matter. And a few lawsuits from wheezing citizens aren’t going to hurt the bottom line of political donors by much. So, the ‘nutrients’ pour into the lake, making it toxic. And when the rainy season comes, that water needs to go into the ocean. It’s deep and will eventually break up the pollutants, right?

But how business-friendly is it when dead fish litter the shore and the algae blooms are so toxic that it creates lung problems for the citizens – and, more importantly to our state officials, the tourists and retirees who buy those million-dollar condos? Hotels are losing customers, and real estate deals are falling through. Who wants to live near a stinky shore that makes you cough?

We’re coming up on election time, though. Our Esteemed Governor, running for the U.S. Senate, declares now that he has asked the government to ‘expedite’ the development of the reservoir. Lip service is being paid to the sad situation on both coasts by the Florida Legislature. These are often the same officials taking donations from Big Sugar and the same people that didn’t want to use the money from 2014’s Amendment 1 for its earmarked purpose – conservation.

It’s far past time to buy the land and clean the lake. It’s far past time to identify and support lawmakers that want to resolve this crisis (of all parties), and replace the ones that helped create it (Rick Scott is not a friend to the ocean). That’s what’s business-friendly.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Depression

Before we go any further, let me tell you that yes, I’ve seen someone for it. So put your mind at ease on that front. Some people suffer in silence, but I’m not one of them. If you don’t need to hear grumbling and whining, go elsewhere. I’ll understand; this is a depressing time in history.

Since the upending of my life in 2012 and the death of my father, I’ve been in a darker place. An emotional place where fewer people have my back, and a physical place where the living is uneasy. Shortly after the funeral, I became a liability and expense, leading to anger and behavior which I think less of myself for exhibiting. Moving saved my sanity, but I may have to return because, again, I am needed. Sadly, the trust is gone.

In the working world here, experience and age are liabilities. I was advised to leave jobs off my resume by temp agencies to conceal my age. A prospective employer told me that they could hire a temp to do a job that I knew, from working in a similar office in Kentucky, required specialized training and pulled down $40K as a starting salary. Businesses hire temps at low wages in Florida instead of ‘regular’ workers, and the cost of living where the jobs are located is very high. My wife and I both have long commutes and are frequently tired, plus I live in constant fear that my position will be offshored.

Then, there's just plain old depression. Based on my family history, I think I come by it honestly. Depression is an open wound, always bleeding, giving you surprise flashes of pain like the 'jump' shocks of a horror film. Even when I've been the happiest, I can't say I've ever experienced unalloyed joy.

So, I’ve been chugging along, doing my day job and paying my bills, but that’s all I have energy for most days. There have been bright points, like publishing anthologies and releasing the first novel of a series co-written with my wife, but the number of “What’s the use?” thoughts to overcome has been ridiculous.

Besides the “seeing someone” business I mentioned above, I’ve also used affirmations, visualizing my goals, etc. to improve my mood. I’ve discovered that it’s very hard for me to even picture success any more, or to believe that I’m still capable – or worthy – of attaining it. Once you’ve seen an ugly person in the mirror, it’s hard to forget or forgive. 

I must keep trying to climb out of the hole, though, even if I have so much more to regret at 50+ than I did at thirty. If you're depressed, you must keep trying, too.



Friday, June 29, 2018

The Price of Fine Living

Not my mobile palace.
I mentioned some time back that we moved into a gated community with an HOA. Overall, it's a nice place, so I will not name it here. Unfortunately, it has appearance 'standards' we must maintain. This is a bit challenging, since we have enough trouble finding energy and time at home to maintain the interior (think dishes, laundry, etc.).

Anyway, we got one of the letters from the HOA. We need to clean the outside of our mobile palace. I suppose it's to be expected, since the people around us are very anal-retentive about their own properties, but I think it should be illegal to demand this sort of outside labor in Florida in late June.

So far, we have learned the following about cleaning the exterior of a mobile home:

  1. Use a pressure washer. It's faster and more effective. Way more effective. I would use it to remove my freckles, but I think it would take the rest of the skin off, too.
  2. Use something with bleach. Fuck the vegetation. If it worries you, remind yourself that it's going to get diluted fast when you turn the pressure washer on it.
  3. Wear glasses or safety goggles. Also, be careful when edging a pathway with a pressure washer. There's blowback. Never mind how I know this.
  4. Dawn works better at removing grime than laundry detergent does.
  5. Your neighbors, the ones you thought were anal-retentive, will come and ask if you got a letter from the HOA, too.

The aftercare for this endeavor involves cortisone, Benadryl, and Advil. Lots of Advil. But at least we can see the original color of our awnings again.




Saturday, December 16, 2017

Women! How to Spot a Bogus Facebook ID


Update! I just got a friend request from someone with pics that advertised the 2010 Census. They also showed him with bumper stickers implying that he was running for office. I researched the name and discovered that the real guy was sentenced to prison earlier this year. Yes, the pictures match. Either he's looking for a prison pen pal, or someone's spoofing him.

This guide is primarily for women, although gay guys might get some of these invites, too. Men, if you have your own list, feel free to comment.

The past year has brought a flood of friend invites from Facebook IDs of unknown provenance and questionable intentions. Many are from phishers, catfishes, and scam artists. They can also come from exes and the stalkerish set, but no one seems interested in stalking a fat middle-aged lesbian of modest income.

Some of the 'tells' of a fake Facebook ID:

  • Timeline has a few posts, period, and there are no friends or interests listed. Person is at least an 8 and you are a 5 or lower.
  • Profile photo is of Hugh Jackman, and profile name is Hugh Jackman. Yes, I got this.
  • Profile and name are of someone you are already friends with. Every once in a while, someone needs to create a new ID, but try contacting your friend first to be sure.
  • USA military and widowed. Logic would suggest that the soldiers have a more dangerous lifestyle than their wives, but not with this bunch. Bonus points if the uniform displays a different name than the Facebook name, or is of foreign origin.
  • Name is Western but consists of two first names, or surname used as first name. I've seen it happen in real life, but it's not common. Reveals a poor grasp of western naming conventions.
  • Picture is of lily white guy "from Texas" (a favorite state-don't ask me why), but celebrity and sports favorites are Nigerian or Ghanaian. I understand Macedonia is also popular.
  • Divorced or widowed guy was born in Texas, educated in Europe, and now works "in oil" in the UAE. Listed here because I've seen this several times. I guess this is to reel in gold-diggers. Hmm.
  • Divorced or widowed guy was born in London, educated in Europe, lives in Texas, claims to be a physician but writes posts like "I lov music,i like siging.All my frid has gon to de stidio,but i dose not,just becaze of money money". Student debt is a killer, I guess.
  • Picture is of gorgeous African-American man holding a rose, all posts contain romantic lines or praise The Lord. All his friends are women. Real or fake, he's going to break your heart.

If you do friend someone and aren't sure after the fact, use some of the standard cautions for the Internet: don't click on any links they send you, give them your personal information, and Google anything that sounds like a scam for money. Also: take another look at their profile to see if any new red flags appear. Real people usually have a lengthy timeline with less-than-relevant content, and tend to like at least one thing you don't. If the cupboard is bare, tread carefully.

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