Featured Slider

SKGfun E-Magazine || FAMILY

Happy Weekend, all!
How was your week?  Is it nearly Spring where you are??

A little bit ago, I believe I mentioned that I write for an e-magazine produced by two sweet sisters:

South Kakalaki Girl
A Magazine for Girls by Girls.

The magazine is released bimonthly, so the featured theme for March & April is FAMILY.

My article in there is titled, "Respecting Parents: Not Easy, Very Right."  Click the link here or the image below to view the magazine and all of the amazing articles it features!

You'll find articles ranging from family-friendly movie nights to myths regarding the middle child to the importance of simply listening.

It's so nice to read these innocent articles from girls just like you and I.  
So, do pop over, if you can!  :]

On a different note, is anyone taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this Spring?  If so, I could desperately use any and all tips you can share with me!  I've decided rather last minute to join up, and I've got practically NOTHING prepared, with the exception of knowing I'd like to continue working on my Beauty & the Beast retelling. . . *cue HUGE sigh* BUT. I am determined!

Gotta go.  But thanks for stopping by!  I hope next week I will be far more active than this past one. . .  I dunno what happened---the days are getting away from me!

BTW. . .
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

What's in a Name?

It's a new week, y'all! 
And I've got some new names for you.  :]

M | English (rare)

From an Irish surname, an Anglicized form of Ó Cainall, meaning "descendant of Conell."

F | French

French diminutive of Oda (feminine form of Odo or Otto, meaning "wealth, fortune") or Odilia, meaning either "fatherland" or "wealth, fortune."  This is the given name of the princess who is cursed as a swan in Tchaikovsky's ballet, "Swan Lake." 

HER-ee, HAR-ee

Medieval English form of Henry, meaning "home ruler."  In more modern times, it is used as a diminutive for both Henry and Harold, meaning something like "powerful army" or "army leader."  A famous bearer is Harry S. Truman, the American president (1884-1972).  You may also recognize this as the given name of J.K. Rowling's boy wizard (first released in 1997).
| French, English, Dutch
MEE-SHELL (French), mi-SHELL (English)

French feminine form of Michel, which is also the French form and the German diminutive of Michael, from a Hebrew name meaning "who is like God?".

Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

Book Review | Operation Hail Storm

Whaddya know? Two book reviews in two days?? AND on Friday and Saturday of all things?
Normally, my review deadlines do not fall on or around the same week, but these two just happened to do so.  (Actually, this particular review was supposed to be posted yesterday. . . but due to the release of Our Dark Stars just this past Tuesday, I opted to post it first.)

Operation Hail Storm
Hail #1
Brett Arquette

Lulu.com | November 15, 2016
Thrillers, Military Fiction

Marshall Hail was a husband, a father, a Physics Nobel prize winner and industrial billionaire. But when Hail's family was killed in a terrorist attack, he became a predator and redirected his vast industrial assets toward one goal, removing every person on the FBI's Top 10 Terrorist list. With the help of his MIT colleagues, Hail designed and built a devastating arsenal of attack drones of all shapes and sizes that are flown by the nation's best young gamers. The world will come to realize that Marshall Hail possesses the capability of getting to anyone, anywhere, at any time, unleashing an operation so disturbing that the CIA has named it Operation Hail Storm.

> > > > > > > > > > < < < < < < < < < <
WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I was provided a copy of this novel by the author in exchange for my honest review.

[The Basics]
To begin, I must say the attention to details in this book, as well as the story and plot, were rather impressive.  I've read several military fiction novels, and in so doing have learned much of the weapons, equipment, and aircraft from them.  But this one takes it up a level.  One can certainly tell Mr Arquette did some serious research on this.  

For instance, the story follows Marshall Hail for the most part.  And to some him up in two words, I would say: genius billionaire.  In the near future, he has found a way to provide safe, nuclear power to the entire world using the gazillion tons of toxic waste that sat corroding for years because you couldn't do a thing with it.  The United States sold said waste to him and, from the ground up, he built his company and power plants to recycle and reuse the waste, providing enough power to the world for the next 100,000 years.  In the process, he became a billionaire.  But now, he has a new purpose: ridding the world of the terrorists---any and all---responsible for the deaths of his wife and daughters two years prior.

It is so very clear Marshall loved his wife and twin daughters dearly.  We see him at the memorial known as the Five, where five monuments represent five separate flights shot down by terrorist missiles.  It's the first time in nearly two years that he's found the strength to visit the site he himself funded and mourn his family.

On board the Hail Nucleus, much more than the cargo ship it would seem upon first impression, Hail's crew of young geniuses ranging from ages 16 to 40s, operate as a family.  Most everyone on the ship lost loved ones in The Five, the majority of them underage minors.  We learn Marshall acts as their legal guardian, providing them with a home, food, clothing, and schooling while on board.

Since the death of his family, Marshall practically let himself go, burying everything into his company and focusing on bettering the world's fuel sources.  With that accomplished, he finds a new purpose in hunting terrorists.  While this may be a noble cause of sorts, Marshall is fueled by what he calls "retribution," but we all know it is good ol' revenge---and it definitely shows.  Because of this, he isn't exactly the best role model for his young crew.  And while his friend Gage Renner (with whom he went to college and is now his second-in-command) attempts to give him good advice, all too often, he ignores it.

We learn Marshall's father, one of the highest ranking officers in the military, was a harsh man.  Many of Marshall's memories of him are not that of a loving man caring for his son, but "teaching" him hard lessons and expecting far too much of a young boy.

A woman serves as president of the United States of America.

Politicians being politicians.

[Spiritual Content]
None.  These people are the kind who like to take matters into their own hands, and are unwilling to acknowledge there is a Higher power in control.

Multiple uses of God's name in vain.  Jesus' name is misused at least once.

This is military fiction.  And while Marshall himself is not a decorated officer in any way, he uses remote-operated drones of his company's design to carry out his vigilante actions.  Lots of explosions.  A giant rail gun, which I imagined to be a kind of charge-powered laser gun, blows up a pirates' ship that foolishly threatens to attack the Hail Nucleus.  None of the pirates are killed as far as I know, but they sure are scared to death as they jump ship just before it goes BOOM.  

Marshall's drones are intricately designed to the tiniest, finite detail, and can perform some rather daring feats, which include: delivering poison to a terrorist's glass of orange juice, to simple surveillance, to carrying a modified M4 firearm and shooting anything (or anyone) when necessary, to serving as hosts in delivering bombs, and so on.  

A man, as mentioned above, is poisoned by cyanide to his orange juice.  He dies a ghastly and violent death, caused mainly because of his thrashing about and destroying his glass breakfast table in his death throes. . .  Another man is shot in the hand by a drone.  Drones self-destruct in order so no enemy hands get a hold on the technology.  A warehouse containing missile parts is blown sky-high, killing some soldiers. 

{EDIT:  I will say this, in regards to the ship, Hail Nucleus, it was literally AMAZING.  Like a dream ship for anyone interested in this kind of work.  Basically, it was a resort complete with pool, gym, two-story shopping mall, at least four different cultural restaurants, and staterooms resembling those of a nice hotel.  Not to mention, it also had a mission control room, analyst stations, and a security headquarters.  If I was stuck on a ship for months on end, or years for that matter, I think I would certainly lean on getting hired on one of those in Hail's fancy/yet competent fleet. :] }

[Language//Alcohol & Drugs]
Multiple uses of "h---," "d---," and "a--."  Several uses of "b----," as well as "p---" and "p---ed."

Wine is served in the ship's restaurant.  No one drinks so much as to get drunk though. . . Though Marshall may have a history of drowning his grief in alcohol, I can't recall.

[Lovey Content]
Kara Ramey, an agent for the CIA, is known (and was apparently hired) for her beauty, not just her skills as a linguist.  It is said many times what her job consists of in, to put it bluntly: seducing men into giving her or providing her with information.  We first meet her on an assignment with a baddie, where they end up in bed later. . .  To her credit, she seems to be disgusted with such "work," but does so with a need to avenge her parents in some way.  They too were killed in The Five, but her sense of revenge is more logical (if possible), compared to Marshall's open "need" for vengeance.

At one point, Kara, on board the Nucleus, is asked to fetch Marshall from his quarters (why she is, I don't understand, it could just as easily have been one of the crew, IMO).  He, believing it to be his friend Renner, doesn't bother grabbing a robe, but answers the door in naught but his undies.  Kara, familiar as she is with men, jokes about his tighty-whities.  He allows her in his stateroom while he goes to change, and she comments about his having a nice backside (except she uses a different word).

There's some slight attraction between Kara and Marshall, but nothing so much as kissing or hugging happens.  

To conclude, this novel was an interesting read with an intriguing plot involving advanced technology that made total sense, and wasn't so far out of the blue as to seem Sci-Fi.  However, there were numerous, wordy descriptions that I found myself skipping over at times, and thinking, "Do I really need to know THIS much info?"  A lot of it involved the mechanics of the drones, weapons, ships, measurements, velocity, power, etc. of how things worked.  And other descriptions included entire paragraphs on minor characters we were introduced to that may or may not play a big part in the plot.  In the last few chapters, we read a scene where it's this one giant monologue of Marshall and Kara sharing backgrounds and stories of what we already know of both of them (having learned throughout the book), when it could have simply said something like, "Before they knew it, five hours had passed in which they found themselves opening up to one another and sharing their histories.  Perhaps he could learn to trust this woman.  And maybe she, him."

Also, every now and then, the perspective of the characters in the chapters would switch randomly.  We would be reading from Marshall's POV, but then it would suddenly go to Kara's perspective in the same chapter.  I found this to be a little irritating, but I think I was making it a bigger deal than necessary. . .

Because of this, I found myself growing bored---especially towards the end.  Other than that and the language and crude jokes, I enjoyed this novel.  It is an action thriller with an amazing idea of cheap power supply provided to all the world, all while using up toxic/chemical waste.  And the process of the drones, while scary to think about actually happening, made sense.  Again, I was incredibly impressed with the amount of research Mr Arquette obviously put into this.  But alas, I couldn't enjoy it to the fullest with all the distracting content.  

> > > > > > > > > > < < < < < < < < < <

Thanks again for reading, y'all!
BTW, I promise I LOVE books, and not every single book I read gets a three-star review.  Heheh. . . that was simply a coincidence with these two novels, unfortunately.
Happy Saturday!

Book Review | Our Dark Stars

As you can see, today's post is not my usually writerly/inspirational, er, post.  (This is where one would quote in Snape's voice, "Obviously.")  Actually, this entire week has been an off-week for my blogging... And, as I'm still working on the managing-my-time thing, I did not prepare anything ahead of time... *twiddles thumbs*  But, instead, I have a rather intriguing book review for you.  As it was released only a mere three days ago, I was in a rush to finish reading and now to post the review. 

// Be aware, this review is LONG. \\

I must add also that I had high hopes for this novel.  However, due to some content regarding language, inappropriate gestures, crude "jokes," and a teensy bit of immorality, I can only give it a mid-level rating (as you'll see below), when in all actuality and under other circumstances---again, regarding content---I would have given this a rocking five-star review.

Please read on, regardless!
My reviews are always rather thorough and list the good, the bad, and the ugly for the benefit of other readers and their own moral consciences.  They are, however, my own opinions and I would wish those who pick up this novel and others I've reviewed will come to their own conclusions.  On to the review!

Our Dark Stars
Audrey Grey, Krystal Wade

Blaze Publishing, LLC | March 6, 2018
Sci-Fi, Space Thriller, Dystopian/Futuristic

While she sleeps, the whole universe changes.

Princess Talia Starchaser has it all. Wealth. Status. Adoring citizens. But on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, she’s forced to publicly betray her best friend, a companion mock she’s had since birth, setting events into motion that lead to the destruction of the humans, and the princess floating through space, a remnant of a time when humans ruled over droids.

One hundred years later, half-mock captain Will Perrault and his ragtag crew discover a device floating in space. When a very human Talia emerges from its depths, Will suspects she’s the key to buying his way back into the regiment he once commanded against the last remaining rebel humans—and the ruling mock queen’s good graces.

Both Talia and Will would rather get space-tossed than trust one another, but with the queen’s forces chasing them across the galaxy and the fate of both worlds hanging in the balance, they’ll forge the unlikeliest of alliances to survive.

> > > > > > > > > > < < < < < < < < < <
WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I received an ARC copy from the authors in exchange for my honest review.

{The Basics}
This is a Sci-Fi/Space Thriller/Galactic Romance/Almost Faerietale.  I was hooked from the first!  This novel has an amazing storyline and plot, the characters are each their own, and it's set in 3731 AD. . . in SPACE---so, yeah, I wanted to devour ALL the pages.  

I mentioned among the list of genres that this is an "Almost Faerietale," and I say that because it kinda reminded me of a Sleeping Beauty retelling, with the obvious exception this princess must save the worlds (yes, plural) in basically the entire galactic universe.  Many details lead up to her one-hundred-year sleep, but she does, and eventually has a rather rude awakening.  It's not until later she learns just how much time had passed, and the whole time I was reacting like, "AHH! She needs to KNOW!! NOOOOOOWWWW"  It happens, of course, and there is great sorrow for those she lost, but she has much bigger problems to face.  Her world has literally FLIPPED.

In the reign of the Starchasers, humans ruled over their synthetic counterparts---android-like robots called mocks.  Mocks served humankind until a virus corrupted their programs, causing a rebellion and an evolution of the mocks into creations with minds of their own.  One hundred years later, humans are now enslaved by the very mocks they created, and the world pretty much needs saving.

While Talia may not like or agree with her grandmother's cruel, harsh ways, her father's aloofness and all-too-busy schedule as the ruling Sovereign, her mother's coldness, or her little brother's irritating personality, it is quite obvious she loves them dearly.

Will, demoted captain of the Odysseus with a dark/painful past, tolerates his grumbling crew's arguments and criminal leanings, it is clear he cares for them clearly. 

A male mock kisses another male mock right smack on the lips (supposedly in greeting, but it could be implied they have "history". . .).  *GAGS*  This was a HUGE loss of rating for me.  Even something that seems so small, is just so wrong---but I will not go into that can o' worms today.

An escort is a fancy name for prostitutes---both mock and human.  At one point, we enter the scene of a strip club. . . No details, turns out to be a meeting place.

A character makes an inappropriate gesture with the middle finger---at least TWICE.  Some characters like to gamble.

More negatives in the Language//Drugs section.

{Spiritual Content}
This is a secular novel.  There is no mention of a Higher Being or Creator.  A phrase is used, "thank the gods" at least once.  Jesus' name is misused also once.  God's name is used in vain multiple times.

Space battles are a given in this book.  Needless to say, there's a rather high body count.  Ships spew bullets at others, attempt daring maneuvers to evade blowing up themselves, and one in particular is used as a giant battering ram (causing much death and explosions).  A man kicks another in the groin, claiming he's a coward and that he "never used 'those' anyway."  A mock woman is out-maneuvered in a battle and crashes to her death.  A giant cruisership is ambushed.  People are killed by either blasters or lack of oxygen as the ship's engines and utilities fail.  We see many bodies, blood, and destruction.

A marriage is arranged to secure an alliance between two worlds due to the need for resources.  The prince shows himself to be openly cruel and abusive.

A man is goaded into showing his loyalty to the mocks by hitting a human bartender.  He is reluctant at first, but ends up taking his pent-up anger out on the poor man, literally beating him to a pulp and splattering the man's blood everywhere.

A girl is attacked by Hunters, giant androids built to instill---and carry out---fear.  They're sidekicks are these weird spider-dogs and flying spotter-drones.  The spider-dogs sniff out their prey and attempt to decapitate it.  The Hunters and their "dogs" bring down a small spacecraft into a lake, nearly drowning the girl.  (SPOILER: she lives!)  

A character loses part of a limb in a big battle.  He's a mock, but evidently even mocks can bleed out.  Their blood is black, and they are comprised of metal and wires.  He's tortured, and nearly executed by "corruption"---where something like a virus would've been uploaded into his system that literally fry his circuits (a slow, painful death).

{Language//Drugs & Alcohol}
MULTIPLE uses of "s---," "a--" and "a-holes," "h---," "p---" and "p---ed," "d---ed," "bastard," and "b----."  Phrases like "to h--- with it" and "what the h---" and so on are present.  Extremely crude language and inappropriate jokes.

Bar scenes are frequented.  Whiskey, champagne, liquor, alcohol, etc. etc. is pretty constant.  Characters get drunk.  

{Lovey Content}
Crewman Leo is known for his "love" of women.  He's described as an unbelievably beautiful man, er, mock.  (I imagined him with the look of a chisel-faced, blond surfer dude.)  

After two characters nearly drown, girl and guy, they attempt to warm their literally freezing bodies by the engine of their ship.  But obviously, they just have to take off their wet clothes (down to basically nothing, save for goose-bump flesh and unmentionables that cling to particular---um---places) in front of each other.  Nothing happens, but both notice a personal attraction for the other.  Much later in the story, they embrace (or rather she jumps into his arms and wraps her legs around him) and share a tender kiss.

Overall, I would say I most certainly enjoyed this story and would love to recommend it to all my peeps.  BUT, I cannot do so in good conscience.  I love a good, thrilling tale as much as the next person, but does the addition of a wide range of language and inappropriate and crude behavior (in detail) really add anything to a story?  

I did not give away much regarding the plot and twists in the novel itself, but I feel I did mention what was necessary and what I would want to be aware of should I pick up a book I'm interested in and unfamiliar with.  All's I can say is, read it for yourself!  But only if you can look past the unnecessaries and enjoy the tale.  To me, language and immorality and inappropriate behavior in a novel that I have high hopes in just leaves me with a bad taste.  

> > > > > > > > > > < < < < < < < < < <
NOTE:  Regarding the content, this would have been a mere two-star review because I was so shocked by the content in what I would have considered a YA novel.  But, because I liked the story so much, I give it a modest 3.5.

If you made it this far, thanks.  I very much dislike giving such promising books a harsh review, but in my mind it was necessary.  I just hope you don't get me wrong and quote me as saying "she hated that book!"  That is outrageously untrue!  It would've made the top five of my favorite 2018 reads had it not been for the content.

Happy weekend, y'all!
Got any Sci-Fi novels you could recommend me??