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Monday, December 22, 2014

I Truly Lament

https://fireandicebooktours.wordpress.com/2014/11/07/holocaust-fiction-book-tour-giveaway-i-truly-lament-by-mathias-b-freese-12314-123114/


Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/3/14 – 12/31/14
Genres: Literary Fiction, Holocaust Fiction, Short Stories










Blurb:
“…Freese’s haunting lament might best be explained (at least to me) by something Nathaniel Hawthorn wrote about Herman Melville’s endless search for answers to questions that perplexed him all his adult life. Melville was incessantly obsessed with what one might call the why of it all — life, death, metaphysical mysteries. Similar to Freese, Melville was repeatedly afflicted with a dark and depressive state of mind.” –Duff Brenna, Professor Emeritus, CSU, San Marcos

Praise for I Truly Lament:
I have read many books about the Holocaust as I find the subject very interesting from a psychological standpoint. I have to say though, that Mr. Freese has placed an entirely new twist on the subject. I will admit to being perplexed at first, having expected something a bit different. As the collection unfolded, I was drawn into the raw emotion. I particularly enjoyed the story, “Cantor Matyas Balogh.” Matyas found love so late in life, only to have it ripped from him. Freese does not just tell a tale, he creates a basis for reflection. I believe that he is completely correct when he states that someone can never truly understand the Holocaust. We can write about it, but the lasting impact on the people that survived can never be put into words. I Truly Lament is a remarkable collection that will leave the reader speechless. – Heather Osborne for Readers’ Favorite


Excerpt:
At a social distance from me now, as exact and
regulatory as a geometric theorem, I see the Jew as a
thing rather than entity. He is foreign to me.

The Disenchanted Golem

IN MY LATEST INCARNATION I was a golem for a few months in
Poland. Invoked by the mumbo-jumbo Kabalistic rites of a Hasidic
tzaddik, I was raised from nothing. Of course, Jews have no idea where
I come from or how I exist when not on call. They know nothing
of the fabric of my being. They believe, or at least this Hasid did,
that prayer—and demands—bring me forth. Rubbish! My directive
comes from a different source and one that’s not accountable to me.
I cannot explain my existence. I’m in the dark much like the rabbi.
And when I wake to a call and go about my tasks, which are often to
tear out legs and arms of Poles, in this instance, I find it a necessary
evil of which I’m a significant part. I’d rather rest in soil from which
I come, or at least that is the matter that forms my lumpish shape.
Going way back to 1492, Señor Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor
who was of Jewish descent, cursed me for dismembering a fellow
priest whom I’d beaten with a candelabrum until he curled up in a ball
and died. Spry Torquemada fled from my presence and I lumbered
after him, finally grabbing the wily old bastard by his caftan. I can’t
speak, which is problematic, for I’ve seen or experienced so much
about death and dying that I’ve a lot to say. Sometimes I would like
interrogate the victim to see how he responds not only to his imminent
death but to my physical presence: which is more terrifying?
Anyway, I scared the shit out of the Grand Inquisitor but let him
live. I really don’t know why. Before I left his home I peed in his
private chapel, the piss laced with mud and twigs, an earthy aroma
to it, like asparagus, essentially all the parts of my makeup. Basically
I am mud.
I like to do a good job. Different golems act differently. We’re all
of the same construction. Quite simply, as a golem I need no compass
for finding a malicious Gentile. I just know his whereabouts and I
intuitively seek him out—unnerving, if you’re a Gentile. Jews mistakenly
think I act for them; well, yes and no, basically more no than yes.
I’m an independent slayer, like the angel of death. I definitely don’t
act out of religious reasons or because Jews need me at this time or
another. It’s all so complicated as to my origins and purposes.

Buy Links:
Amazon Kindle
Amazon Paperback
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About the Author:
MATHIAS B. FREESE is a writer, teacher, and psychotherapist. His recent collection of essays, This Mobius Strip of Ifs, was the winner of the National Indie Excellence Award of 2012 in general non-fiction and a 2012 Global Ebook Award finalist. His I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust was one of three finalists chosen in the 2012 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest out of 424 submissions.

Connect With The Author:
Website
Linkedin

Giveaway:
Win a print copy of I Truly Lament by Mathias B. Freese on the tour and giveaway! This giveaway will run – 1/1/15. Open to residents of Canada, Australia, Great Britain, and the USA. Enter at Goodreads
REVIEW

I Truly LamentI Truly Lament by Mathias B. Freese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for this review.

I recommend this book for readers 18 and older.

Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish. Even I think the Holocaust is an unthinkable moment. Millions of people killed just because they were Jews, or infirm, or just because they disagreed with the Third Reich. Why would someone do this? That's a question we've been asking ourselves for the last 70 years. Numerous books have been written about this, too many to list here. I read Anne Frank's diary back in the late 1970s, about the same time that NBC aired a miniseries called "Holocaust." I also remember watching Schindler's List, which added scenes and details that NBC couldn't. It's hard to understand the full extent of the Holocaust unless you went through it yourself. I visited Dachau a few years ago, and I could feel the atmosphere of death and despair that pervades the camp, even after 70 years. The sad part is, this is going away. Survivors are dying of old age, so they won't be around to tell their story.\

That's what the author of this book tries to do--tell the story. He does this as a series of short stories. He imagines a golem who cracks a man in half. He has an "interview" with a doctor at the camps, and an "interview" with Eva Braun about Hitler's sex life. (That was particularly disturbing.) I found the fiction a bit off-putting at first, but then I realized that was the best way to tell the story. The danger here is that there are those who write off the entire Holocaust as fiction, so this could be dangerous. As I said, though, there is no way to capture the true horror unless you experienced it yourself. Given what's been happening with the Islamic State and the Taliban, are we on our way back there? All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Henry V Act III Scene IV, translated by Google Translate

HENRY V ACT III SCENE IV. The FRENCH KING's palace.


Enter KATHARINE and ALICE
KATHARINE
Alice, you've been in England, you speak the language well.
ALICE
A little, ma'am.
KATHARINE
I pray, teach me, I must learn to 
speak. What do you call the hand in the English?
ALICE
Hand? it is called handball.
KATHARINE
Handball. And fingers?
ALICE
Fingers? my faith, I forget the fingers; but I 
remember. Fingers? I think they are 
called by fingres; so, fingres.
KATHARINE
Hand in hand; fingers of fingres. I think 
I am the good schoolboy; I won two words 
of the English vitement. What do you call the nails?
ALICE
Nails? we call them nails.
KATHARINE
Of nails. Listen; tell me if I speak well: from 
hand of fingres and nails.
ALICE
Well said, Madame; it is very good Englishman.
KATHARINE
Tell me the Englishman on the arm.
ALICE
Of arm, madame.
KATHARINE
And elbow?
ALICE
From elbow.
KATHARINE
From elbow. I worry repetition of all the 
words you taught me a present.
ALICE
It is too difficult, madame, as I think.
KATHARINE
Excuse me, Alice; Listen: handball from fingres, 
of nails, arma of Bilbow.
ALICE
From elbow, ma'am.
KATHARINE
O Lord God, I forgot! of elbow. How 
do you call the cervix?
ALICE
From neck, ma'am.
KATHARINE
Nick. And chin?
ALICE
Chin.
KATHARINE
Sin. The neck, nick; chin, sin.
ALICE
Yes. Unless your honor, in truth, you pronounce 
the words as straight as the natives of England.
KATHARINE
I have no doubt learned, by the grace of God, 
and in a short time.
ALICE
Have not you ever forget what I teach you?
KATHARINE
No, I recite to you promptly: handball from 
fingres of mails--
ALICE
Of nails, ma'am.
KATHARINE
Of nails of arm of ilbow.
ALICE
Unless your honor, elbow.
KATHARINE
So I say; of elbow, nick, and sin. How 
do you call the foot and the dress?
ALICE
Football, madame; and coun.
KATHARINE
Football and coun! O Lord God! these are the words 
of the evil, corruptible, fat, and shameless, and 
not for the bridesmaids to use: I would 
say those words before the lords of France 
for everyone. Foh! ! football and coun 
Nevertheless, I recite my lesson again 
together: handball from fingres of nails, to arm from 
elbow, nick, sin, soccer, of coun.
ALICE
Excellent, madame!
KATHARINE
It is enough for once: are we to dinner.
Exeunt

Monday, December 8, 2014

Giveaway for signed set of Pushing the Limits series.

Giveaway for signed set of Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry (no relation). US/Canada only.


http://is.gd/msuONE

Monday, December 1, 2014

Operation Mermaid is done!

I finished Operation Mermaid: The Project Kraken Incident today.

Actually, I just finished the first draft. There's a lot of editing and polishing that needs to be done. Now, though, I have something I can work with, instead of a lot of unformed ideas. It feels good.

For more information, check out this link:

https://www.facebook.com/operationmermaidprojectkraken?ref=aymt_homepage_panel


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Unlocking Potential

Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and OrganizationsUnlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations by Michael Simpson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from 12 Books Group in exchange for this revies.

This book is about coaching. When most people think of coaching, they think of sports. This can be a useful analogy to what business coaching does. In sports, the coach draws up the plays, analyzes strengths and weaknesses of the other teams, and calls the plays from the sideline or bench. The coach also supervises workout drills, and helps players improve their strengths and fix their weaknesses. The coach can't actually do the workout, or run the plays; the coach has to rely on the players to do that.

The business coach does many of the same things. The coach can provide guidance, analyze strengths and weaknesses, and draw up a general plan for improvement. The business coach can't actually do what's on the plan, that's up to the individual or business being coached. The author says that the current generation of workers doesn't want to be micromanaged; I know I don't. They want to be given a project, given a deadline, and left alone to finish the job. This is similar to their experience in college. The professor gives the assignment, or schedules the exam, and leaves it to the student to figure out how to get it done. They can either plan it out over several weeks, or cram and finish it the night before. As long as the work is done on time, the professor doesn't care.

The author provides what he sees as the 4 principles of coaching: Trust, Potential, Commitment, and Execution. His 7 Coaching Skills, as mentioned in the subtitle, are these: Build Trust, Challenge Paradigms, Seek Strategic Clarity, Execute Flawlessly, Give Effective Feedback, Tap Into Talent, and Move the Middle. He goes into detail about what questions to ask, and uses examples from his own experience to illustrate them.

I've read other books like this, and they tend to devolve into what I call "corporatespeak", with all kinds of buzzwords that don't mean anything. Sometimes they're accompanied by diagrams, many of which don't make any sense. They also give a lot of ideals that are supposed to turn things around, but the procedures are almost impossible to implement. The author avoids this for the most part. He keeps the diagrams to a minimum, and explains things in real world terms. He makes it clear that it's up to the employees to make the change.

The one thing I would have appreciated is a website. He gives examples of various forms in the book. Many of these books have a website to download the forms for use in the organization. I didn't see that here.

All in all, a good book on coaching. In sports, if the team doesn't perform well, the coach is fired. The same can happen in business coaching.

View all my reviews

Braving Fate

Braving Fate (The Mythean Arcana, #1)Braving Fate by Linsey Hall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

Note: This book is recommended only for readers 18 and older.

This is the first book by author Linsey Hall. She writes of a world where supernatural beings, called Mytheans, keep the peace between this world and the supernatural. As the book opens, Cadan, one of the guardians, is informed that the spirit of Boudica is being reincarnated. Boudica was a 1st-century Celtic warrior. She led an army that fought the Roman invasion, and nearly won. In the book, Cadan was her husband back in the 1st century. In the US, Diana is a professor of history. She is attacked by a demon, and easily defeats it, much easier than she should have been able to. She then sees a tattoo on her arm of Edinburgh, in Scotland. When she gets there, she meets Cadan, who has been assigned to be her guardian, and who also knows that Diana is the reincarnation of Boudica. Cadan takes her to Immortal University, where guardians work to keep the peace. Diana has to train to fight the mission that brought her back, even though it could lead to her death. I won't say any more, because I don't want to give

This was an entertaining book. Immortal University is based on Hogwarts from Harry Potter. There are even a few references to this in the novel. The relationship between Cadan and Diana is described in very graphic detail. (that's why I put the 18 and older recommendation at the top of the review.) The novel didn't say anything, but the choice of Diana for the reincarnation of Boudica was very appropriate. Diana was the Roman goddess of the hunt, which the book's Diana had to do to complete the mission. Diana was also the name of Wonder Woman, and the book's Diana had to do a lot of physical stunts, although she didn't have a magic lasso or bulletproof bracelets. The action kept me involved. The plot twists were good, and kept me guessing about most things right up to the very end. Like most romantic novels, though, I could figure out the relationship between Cadan and Diana early on. All in all, a good book. She has 3 more in the series coming out. I look forward to reading them.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Fishy" Business; My Life as a Mermaid

"Fishy" Business: My Life as a Mermaid by Raina Mermaid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Raina's second book. This one focuses on her personal story since the publication of her first book. She starts with a party she she was working. Things were going somewhat well, when she noticed some kids hanging on her sister, Mermaid Ama. No parents were watching. It threatened to be a bad situation. Fortunately, there were no major injuries, but she did get the idea for a booking agreement, to prevent this from happening again. She is quite candid about her struggles, both business and personal. She started the year with a mountain of debt from college, and some severe physical problems. She has previously stated that she was born prematurely, which may have contributed to her health issues. She also says that being in the water is one thing that consistently helps her pain. She discusses all of the friends she made (although she uses initials instead of names for some of them, I assume for privacy reasons). She also discusses her presentation at NCMerfest in January 2014. She's quite candid about everything. She talks about her decision to quit her day job and be a full-time mermaid. It was a very risky decision. She also talks about getting serious with her business.

This book shows that the business is not always smooth sailing. There will be challenges, and times when things go wrong. It's not just slipping on a mermaid tail and showing up. It also, though, shows that anyone can be a professional mermaid. If someone like Raina can make it, so can you. All in all, a good book.

Update since publication: Since this book was published, Raina has had some changes in her life. In the book, she talks about adopting a cat, Chicklet. She now has a second cat, Charlie. She is now an After School Age Educator at Needham Rec Centre in Halifax.

Purchase link for the book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/raina-mermai...

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WINNER!




WINNER!


I just finished 50,000 words of my novel today! I still have to polish it before it's ready for publication, but this is just a great accomplishment.


For more information, like this page on Facebook:


https://www.facebook.com/operationmermaidprojectkraken?ref=aymt_homepage_panel


Photo: Mockup cover. Not final yet. I'm open to suggestions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Color of the Season

Thank you for joining us for The Color of the Season Review Tour, with Julianne MacLean and Wordsmith Publicity! Visit the tour homepage to follow all the participating blogs.

Title: The Color of the Season (Color of Heaven #7) Author: Julianne MacLean Age: Adult Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/115679-the-color-of-heaven-series

From USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean comes the next installment in her popular Color of Heaven series - a gripping, emotional tale about real life magic that touches us all during the holiday season… Boston cop, Josh Wallace, is having the worst day of his life. First, he’s dumped by the woman he was about to propose to, then everything goes downhill from there when he is shot in the line of duty. While recovering in the hospital, he can’t seem to forget the woman he wanted to marry, nor can he make sense of the vivid images that flashed before his eyes when he was wounded on the job. Soon, everything he once believed about his life begins to shift when he meets Leah James, an enigmatic resident doctor who somehow holds the key to both his past and his future…
 ** This is book 7 in the Color of Heaven series, but can be read as a stand alone. ** 

 Purchase The Color of the Season

 iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-color-of-the-season/id892098204?mt=11
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Color-Season-Heaven-Book-ebook/dp/B00LADZ6GE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403811926&sr=1-1&keywords=the+color+of+the+season
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-color-of-the-season-julianne-maclean/1119878791?ean=9781927675229&itm=1&usri=9781927675229
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Julianne_MacLean_The_Color_of_The_Season?id=Z-XeAwAAQBAJ
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-color-of-the-season

Giveaway 

25 winners will receive a print copy of The Color of the Season. Open Intl.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review


The Color of the Season (The Color of Heaven Series Book 7)The Color of the Season by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is part of The Color of Heaven series. They are more of the heartwarming romance novels than steamy bodice-rippers.

In this book, we meet Josh, a Boston police officer who has just had his girlfriend break up with him. She found someone else. While on patrol that night, he gets into a shootout with a drug dealer who carjacked a van. Josh nearly dies. He is rushed to the operating table, and begins to experience himself floating out of his body, watching his surgery. He flashes back to his childhood friends Riley and his sister Leah. He is also there when Riley's sister Holly is born. Then he comes back to reality--or is it?

I don't want to give too much else away, because of spoilers. The scenes in the operating room where Josh is floating above his body reminded me of Heaven Is For Real. I'm not familiar with near death experiences, but this sounds very real to me. The narration goes from Josh to Holly in the middle of the book, which at first I found disorienting, but then I got used to it. When it switched back to Josh at the end, I was somewhat prepared for it. It does raise the question, are near-death experiences real? If they are, why do we come back. Parts of this also reminded me of The Sixth Sense ("I see dead people.") She's writing a sequel to this book called The Color of Joy, to be published in February 2015. I look forward to it.

View all my reviews


About Julianne MacLean 


Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America, and her novels have also been translated into many foreign languages, including Spanish, German, Portugese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, and Dutch. She has written twenty historical romance novels, including the bestselling Highlander Trilogy with St. Martin's Press and her popular Pembroke Palace Series with Avon/Harper Collins. She also writes contemporary mainstream fiction, and THE COLOR OF HEAVEN was a USA Today bestseller. She is a three-time RITA finalist and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of King’s College in Halifax, and a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.
Website: http://www.juliannemaclean.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulianneMacLeanRomanceAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JulianneMacLean

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My paper--Book Talk on paper.li

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stage Fright on a Summer Night

Stage Fright on a Summer Night (Magic Tree House, #25)Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

This is a kids' book, so it's not my usual reading material. I can only guess the ages this book is intended for by the ages of the main characters. Jack is 8 and his sister Annie is 7. This is part of the Magic Tree House series, book 25. Jack and Annie find a magical treehouse full of books. All they have to do is point to the book, and they go there. In this book, they go back to Elizabethan England, where they meet William Shakespeare himself. They have to help him with his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by taking the parts of 2 fairies. They also try to save a bear from having to fight for sport. Jack has to battle stage fright, and they also meet Queen Elizabeth I. Everything works out in the end, and Jack and Annie go back home, with no time passing.

Obviously, I'm not a 7 or 8 year old kid, so I don't know exactly how they'd react. I can only give you my reaction. The author does a good job of recreating Elizabethan England, simplified for kids. She doesn't shy away from the negative aspects, including the smell of that time, and the bear fighting. She includes some facts at the end to anchor the story in real life. The plot was simplified, but it carried well. All in all, a good book.

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Food of Love--Concert by the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble and Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN

CAE-web-food-of-love

Rating: 5 of 5 stars

"If music be the food of love, play on."--William Shakespeare, 12th Night, Act I, Scene 1.

This quote from Shakespeare's 12th Night was the theme of the concert this afternoon, a collaboration between the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble in Rochester, MN,  and the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN. The concert was at Central Lutheran Church in Winona. In the 400 years since Shakespeare wrote his plays, many composers have set his words to music. Some of those may have been for Shakespeare's performances. Today's concert was a performance of some of this music, combined with dramatic readings from the Shakespeare plays the lyrics came from. i don't know if it's been done elsewhere, but it was the first time here.

The concert started out with two of Shakespeare's sonnets, then into As You Like It. There were two settings of Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind, which was especially appropriate today. (There is a winter storm watch for this part of Minnesota through Tuesday. It won't be long before Minnesota looks like Disney's Frozen. I keep expecting Olaf the snowman to come out and ask, "Do you need a hug?" But I digress.) The next selections were Under the Greenwood Tree and A Lover and His Lass, also from As You Like It. The next selections were from the Tempest, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. (By the way, I wonder about that superstition about Macbeth being bad luck. The performance tonight was from the play, and the song Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, and nothing happened. The theater didn't collapse or catch fire, and no one got seriously hurt. Maybe that superstition is nothing.) The performance concluded with a selection from Much Ado About Nothing, which will be performed by the Festival in 2015.

I sing in choral groups myself, and have for many years. It was actually nice to sit and watch a concert from the audience. I know the work they put in, because I've done it myself. The choir was excellent. One of the hardest things to do is to stay in tune on a capella songs. They did well, although on some of the 20th century songs, I couldn't tell what in tune was. They were intentionally dissonant, with some of the songs dividing into 11 parts. They have obviously put a lot of work into this, and it showed. At the end of Double Double, Toil and Trouble, the song called for them to shut their folders together. They were actually able to do it. I know I'd have problems with that. One of the songs was John Rutter's Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind. When I heard this, I remembered performing it at a high school choral festival. It still had the same wintry feeling that it did back then, and the chorus did a great job of bringing that to life.

Special shoutouts to Doug Scholz-Carlson and Tarah Flanagan from the Festival, who performed the Shakespeare readings. One great thing about Shakespeare is the you don't need a lot of staging to perform it. The words themselves carry the action. They did an excellent job bringing life to Shakespeare's words. Even though they were in formal wear, you could picture them in the forest in As You Like It, or contemplating Duncan's murder in Macbeth. (Special note to Doug Scholz-Carlson for his singing solo on one arrangement of Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind. It's an arrangement that written for him by Dan Kallman, and was first performed when the Festival performed As You Like It.)

All in all, a great concert. On one of the chorus's CDs. there was a song called If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On. This would be a great song for next year. (Hint, hint.)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Road to Reinvention

The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate TransformationThe Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation by Josh Linkner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from 12 Books in exchange for this review.

Reinvention. It sounds like one of those business buzzwords, like reengineering, downsizing, rightsizing, and so many others. What is reinvention? According to the author, it's the process of re-doing everything, in some cases starting over, and building something new. It's either this or die.

A lot of what he says has been said elsewhere. The 8 principles he lists are these:

1. Let go of the past.
2. Encourage courage.
3. Embrace failure.
4. Do the opposite.
5. Imagine the possibilities.
6. Put yourself out of business.
7. Reject limits.
8. Aim beyond.

He uses the standard technique of showing companies that have done this, and have gone on to great success. He focuses on small companies, since they don't have a lot of the issues that larger companies do. He also focuses on Detroit, where he's based. Detroit has had a lot of problems over the last several decades, from white flight, to the 1967 riots, to the decline of the auto industry, to ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who treated the city treasury like his own personal piggy bank, to eventually filing for bankruptcy in 2013. He believes Detroit is coming back. We shall see.

One flaw in the book is that he doesn't address some negative issues on reinvention. He mentions the controversy with Lululemon and the see-through yoga pants. He uses this as an example of how a crisis can be uniquely averted. What he doesn't address is that the fallout from this caused their Chief Product Officer, Sherree Watson, and their CEO, Christine Day, to leave the company. He also doesn't mention a TV interview in which Chip Wilson, the founder of the company, blamed the customers for the problem. He later apologized for these remarks, but left the company less than a month later.

He also praises Wayne Huizenga, founder of Blockbuster, as an innovator, but fails to mention that Blockbuster no longer exists, mainly because of lack of reinvention. At one time, Blockbuster was the #1 video retailer in the US. They bought most of their movies for $80-90 per tape, and had a 3-6 month exclusive before the price dropped to $20 for sale. Then they got blindsided. First, it was the introduction of DVDs in the mid-1990s, which upset the price structure. DVDs came out priced to sell at $20 right away, which ended Blockbuster's exclusive window. In an interview in a video magazine, Wayne Huizenga said that he wanted the old pricing structure back. Then, Blockbuster got blindsided by Netflix. Netflix offered videos by mail, with no late fees (which made for very unhappy customers). Blockbuster tried its own mail service, but felt like a "me-too" approach, instead of innovation. They also revised their late-fee policy, but had to revise their advertising after complaints from the New Jersey Attorney General's office. Finally, Dish Network bought Blockbuster, but couldn't turn it around, so it folded. I believe streaming video from Netflix drove the last nail into the coffin. I bring Lululemon and Blockbuster up because this information should have been in the book. Reinvention needs to be an ongoing process, not "one-and-done". It also helps if you don't blame your customers for your problems.

Aside from this, the author does lay out a compelling case for reinvention. It's something companies can follow to be successful, but it won't be perfect. For every company mentioned in the book that became successful, there are many others who took these steps and didn't make it. With those cautions, it's a good book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Will A Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business?

Will a Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business?Will a Rival's Better Quality UI Suddenly Destroy Your Business? by Doug Lescoe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

User Interfaces (UI) can be frustrating, or they can be helpful. I still remember the days of DOS commands, trying to remember what to type in. Then Apple came out with Macintosh, and later, Microsoft with Windows, and things got easier. UIs also encompass more than computers. How many of you have called customer support, only to get this message: "Thank you for calling [company name]. For [this department], press 1. For [next department], press 2." When you finally push a button, you hear, "All of our representatives are currently assisting other callers. Please wait for the next available customer service representative." [Cue elevator music.] Then, about 20 minutes later, when someone answers, you get put on hold again, with more elevator music. "This call may monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes." Really? Then why hasn't the process improved any? This is an example of bad UI.

In this very short book, the author lays out reasons why UI is so bad, and why people accept it. UI is traditionally programmed by computer programmers, who don't usually worry about customers. (I learned that in the early days of computers, especially with DOS commands.) Customers put up with it because they believe that's the way it is. It doesn't have to be that way. Personally, I understand poor UI if it's a beta test, and they're trying to get customer input on how to improvement. For too many companies, however, the beta test doesn't end. This can be a problem. If no improvements are made, customers may eventually leave for a competitor. One of the biggest suggestions the author makes is to get programmers and marketers together to work on the problem. The one area that can be a problem is government. Unlike private companies, you can't just go elsewhere if you're dissatisfied.
All in all, a good little book. I wish more companies would listen. I'm still waiting for the phone interface to get better. [Cue elevator music.]

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Learning to Swim When You're Scared

Learning to Swim When You're Scared: How to Overcome a Fear of WaterLearning to Swim When You're Scared: How to Overcome a Fear of Water by Katie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for this review.

I took swimming lessons when I was in grade school. It wasn't always fun. I learned some basics, like how to swim, and how to float, but I knew I would never be the next Mark Spitz (or, for readers who don't remember that long ago, Michael Phelps. I'm glad I do know how to swim, though. It may come in handy some day.

That was my thought reading this book. It's a very short book, but it contains a lot of information. It's designed for adults who, unlike me, have never been swimming, or are afraid of the water. There are some basic exercises on how to get used to submerging your head, and how to float. It also goes over some basic reasons for being afraid of the water, and how to start to overcome them. The author does recommend professional help if the basics don't work.

The book doesn't have a lot of story information, but it wasn't designed for that. It takes a very no-nonsense approach to swimming, and reinforces the fact that anyone can do it. She also says many times during the book, don't worry about how you look, or how other people perceive you. If they have a problem, it's their problem not yours. I like that. She also has a section on what to look for in a swim instructor. All in all, a good book. So, to quote Dory from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming."

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Siren's Treasure

Siren's TreasureSiren's Treasure by Debbie Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

Book 2 of the siren series from Debbie Herbert. In Siren's Secret, book 1 of the series, we met Shelly, Jet, and Lily, mermaids who live in Alabama. The focus of book 1 was Shelly, and her relationship with Tillman, the local sheriff. Book 2 focuses on Jet. Jet never really fit in. As the book starts, she wins the Undines' Challenge, a mermaid competition. No one really pays her any attention, instead focusing on her sister Lily who has the siren's voice. As part of her win, she receives a trident that will give her one wish, which she will use to ask her mother why she is shunned by the mermaid community. When she gets back to Alabama, she has to meet with an IRS agent, Landry Fields. Supposedly, this is routine tax matter regarding her salvage company. She soon falls for him. (I'm not giving away anything that's not in the first part of the book.) Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend, Perry, just got out of jail, and is looking for her to help with an excavation financed by a South American drug dealer named Sebastian Vargas. I won't say any more, but there are a lot of plot twists and turns.

I read book 1 of the series, so I knew part of the story going in. I also knew Debbie Herbert's writing style. As usual, it was excellent. You knew Landry and Jet would fall for each other (this is a Harlequin novel, after all), but the way they do it kept me intrigued. Also, the other plotlines helped move the story along. We learn a lot about Jet's family, and why they shun her. That actually happens in the middle of the book. A lot of authors would have put it as an epilogue. I like the action (non-sexual) part of the book. These mermaids can fight. In the end, there is a setup for book 3, which the author has indicated will be focused on Lily. I look forward to it.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Way of the Seal

The Way of SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Succeed and Lead in LifeThe Way of SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Succeed and Lead in Life by Mark Divine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the 12 Books Group in exchange for this review.

The way of the SEAL. The Navy SEALs have been an elite force for the Navy for some time now. Their most famous mission was SEAL Team 6 killing Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Author Mark Divine is a retired Navy SEAL, who runs SEALFIT, NavySEALS.com, and started US Crossfit. In this book, he summarizes what he's learned as a SEAL, and how it can be adapted to everyday life.

He establishes 8 principles: Establish Your Set Point, Develop Front-Sight Focus, Bulletproof Your Mission, Do Today What Others Won't, Forge Mental Toughness, Break Things, Build Your Intuition, Think Offense All the Time. He emphasizes 5 areas: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Intuition, and Spirit. (Physical is a book by itself.) He includes exercises to help reinforce these principles. I haven't done the exercises yet. I wanted to read the book through once to see what it is.

Many of the principles in this book have been written about elsewhere. Go into B&N and look at the self-help or management sections, and you'll see all kinds of books on these topics. I recognized some of this book from a section of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. The question on this is how to make the material effective for your life. It helps that he walked the walk, as they say. This isn't just platitudes from someone who pretends to know what to do. I believe these can be effective, if done properly. The challenge with books like this isn't knowing what to do, it's actually doing it. Some books like this are thinly veiled commercials to sell other programs. To his credit, the author doesn't promote these too hard. Doing the exercises in the book will help. The author recommends getting help from local coaches or programs that could help.

The one issue I do have with the book is the same I have with a lot of other books like this. It doesn't recognize limitations, and there are some. For example, I'm 50 years old, have foot problems, and had heart bypass surgery 3 years ago. I will not play in the NFL, regardless of hotw well I improve myself. I also there are other things I will not be able to do. It would be better if it recognized this. All in all, though, a good book.

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

2094

20942094 by John Lauricella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for this review.

This book imagines life in 2094, 80 years from now. To give some perspective, go back 80 years from now, to 1934. In the US in 1934, phones were hardwired to the wall, radio and movies were the main form of entertainment, TV was still in the experimental stage, airlines were in their infancy, the main form of cross-country transportation was by rail, most cars didn't have radios, and about 99% of what is shown on cable now would have been declared obscene. Also, Jim Crow was still in effect, and the n-word was used in polite conversation. If you had written a book back then predicting a phone you could carry with you that connected to a large computer network, regular airline service and a superhighway system that would outpace trains as a means of cross-country travel, TVs that were over 10 feet wide that showed over 1000 channels, cars with TV screens in the back, and any other technology we have now, your work would at best be dismissed as science fiction, or at worst the work of a lunatic.

That was my thought while I was reading this book. Would it be possible to live in this world? It becomes clear, however, that all is not perfect in this world. In the combined North America and Europe, life is a paradise. Anatomically correct androids that can change appearance to anyone you want, TV is on a giant wall operated by a chip in your brain, and anything else you want. However, in Mexico, separated by earthquake from the US, toxic waste is routinely dumped, and anyone not taken for service elsewhere is reduced to subsistence living. Guantanamo Bay prison is still open, with descendants of the original prisoners. On Mars, scientists run an Earthstation, and see Earth only as a source of labor and raw materials.

There are shades of Orwell's 1984 in the book. There is a bit of irony here, because J Melmoth thinks that his world would write 1984 off as improbable fiction. The same chips that give you control of the TV can also be used to control you. The androids are malfunctioning, and J Melmoth is questioning what he's been told recently. Prisoners refuse to work, and Mexicans are swept up to Mars for manual labor.

This book bounces around between plots. It was hard at first to see how they connected to each other. Even at the end, you could see some connection, but not total connection. It continues a trend in current literature, which is present tense. It's a look at a dystopian future. I hope in 80 years not all of this comes true.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September $229 Kindle Fire giveaway

September $229 Giveaway

229 giveaway   It’s time for September’s $229 Kindle Giveaway Hosted by I Am A Reader. We are giving away 2 great prizes both valued at $229. Winner’s choice of a Kindle Fire HDX or $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 Paypal Cash!   The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to those share this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter.  

Win a Kindle Fire HDX 7", Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
Each of these bloggers/authors paid to help sponsor this giveaway.   Sponsor List I Am A Reader Feed Your Reader A & E Kirk, Author Inspired Kathy Lori's Reading Corner Talia Jager, Author Mother Daughter Book Reviews Krysten Lindsay Hager Every Free Chance Books Romance Under Fire I Love to Read and Review Books :) Christine's Blog Elizabeth Isaacs Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton Pauline Creeden, Author Author - Cindy A Christiansen Mama Monkey Craftology MoreThanaReview My Devotional Thoughts Author Suzy Turner Jenn @ Bookreviewsandgiveaways Too-Clever Danielle @ Coffee and Characters Author D.E. Haggerty C Family of 6 Bella Street Weird Romance Bonnie Blythe's Pure Romance Sid Frost YA Author Fabio Bueno Read for your future Jennifer Laurens Author Laurie Here - Contemporary Fiction and MORE Reviews from a Bookworm Helen Smith (author) Author Deb Atwood Author Claudia Burgoa Start Publishing Elizabeth Isaacs True North Publishing Whiskey Creek Press Deanna Lynn Sletten, Author Luthando Coeur Bette Lee Crosby Against Idleness & Mischief (BOOKTUBE) BookBunnyPR Victoria Allred
Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here: http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). Ends 9/30/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Raina Mermaid's new book.

Raina Mermaid's new book, coming out in late September/early October. Here is the mockup cover.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Athena's Ashes Review

Athena's Ashes (Star Thief Chronicles, #2)Athena's Ashes by Jamie Grey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for this review.

Renna wakes up in a medical facility. She has had an implant placed in her brain. She is trying to destroy Pallas, the traitor within MYTH that she believes has done this to her. The implant gives her special mental abilities, such as the ability to see maps, and to communicate with other electronic systems. Renna is worried that she is turning into a cyborg. (Think Summer Glau in the Terminator TV series from a few years ago.) Dr Samil tries to give her injections to control the integration of the implant, while Pallas is Meanwhile, Renna misses the captain of the ship, Finn, that she was on before being brought to the hospital. She may be faling in love with him.

That's just from the beginning of the book. I won't give away too much because of spoilers, but I didn't want to put the book down. The plot moves fast, with a lot of twists and turns that are unexpected. The focus is on Renna, and her increasing abilities with the implant. I found shades of Terminator, Star Wars, and 2001: A Space Odyssey in this book. Pallas is also trying to construct a cyborg army based on the implant.

This is book 2 of the series. I didn't read book 1, but the first few chapters brought me up to speed on the important things. It can be easy to get lost in the details, but I was able, after a few pages, to catch up.

I liked how the author showed Renna's increasing power from the implants, and how she is able to use that power to get what she needs. Again, I won't say too much because of spoilers, but the integration isn't always smooth, and its use isn't always perfect. If it were, it would have ruined the plot.

This was an ARC, so there were some spelling errors, which I wrote off as typos. I assume they will be fixed in the final copy. When I review ARCs, I make allowances for this, and just review the content.

The ending is a little ambiguous. It ends, but it leaves open the possibility for a 3rd book in the series. I'm not sure if that's going to happen, but I think I would enjoy it if it did. All in all, a good book.



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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Athena's Ashes Giveaway




Publisher: Clever Crow Press
Release Date: August 26th 2014
Rate: *4 of 5 stars*

Synopsis:

It’s Renna’s biggest job yet – convincing MYTH leadership that she’s put away her lock picks and is ready to save the galaxy, despite the dangerous implant in her brain. But with the Athena on the run, she’s working solo and facing her most ruthless enemy, the traitor Pallas, who’ll go to any lengths to destroy the MYTH organization. Including framing Renna for a devastating assault on MYTH HQ that leaves their defenses crippled and hundreds dead. 

Now that MYTH believes she’s a dangerous double-agent, Renna escapes their firing squad before they put more holes in her than a pair of fishnet stockings. But the ticking time-bomb in her head is the one thing Pallas needs to complete his master plan and he’s not about to let her get away. Even worse, he’s discovered the only thing that will bring Renna to her knees – threatening Captain Nick Finn.

Out of time and options, Renna’s got one shot to take down the traitor before he annihilates everything she loves, even though winning this battle may cost her everything.


**SEE SEPARATE POST FOR REVIEW**










CHAPTER ONE
For someone who was supposed to be the best thief in the galaxy, Renna had been spending entirely too much time locked up lately. Not that a high-security hospital room in a secret MYTH base was much of a prison for her, but the IV line snaking from her arm might as well have been a pair of Saltani iron handcuffs. She swung her feet over the edge of the lumpy bed and watched the holoscreen on the far wall. Stats scrolled past, red text on the black background. Her vitals were stable; blood pressure was fine. Looking at her chart, she was the picture of health. Except for the cybernetic implant taking over her mind. Renna rubbed the back of her neck where the original incision site had started to throb. It had been doing that a lot lately, thanks to Navang’s depraved experiments and the drugs he’d injected her with. Drugs he’d used to create a whole army of human-robot hybrids. Thana Samil, the MYTH doctor in charge of her case, said it was nothing to worry about, but Renna knew better. In the five days she’d been locked up here in the MYTH facility, the pain in her head had only gotten worse. And then there were the weird side effects. She hadn’t stepped foot outside her room, but she knew a bank of super-servers sat in the northeast corner of the facility, as if she’d drawn the blueprints herself. Communications relays resided on each corner of the roof. She’d even felt the throb of the automated defense cannons guarding the facility. If the doctor and her team didn’t figure out how to slow down the integration between the implant and her nervous system, Renna would be a walking machine before she had the chance to stop the person behind all this. Pallas. If Renna’s hunch was right, the traitor was close enough to touch. Maybe even inside this facility. But she’d never find him if she was trapped here for the rest of her short life. She slid off the bed to pace the stark room, careful not to disturb the needles in her arm. Six steps to the door. Turn around. Six steps back to the bed. She’d done this to herself. She’d volunteered to be locked away and dissected, just to keep Myka Aldani safe. To keep Finn safe. Her pacing slowed as a pang of longing shot through her. Captain Nick Finn. Former gang member turned MYTH soldier and her first childhood crush. Now, she suspected that she’d fallen in love with him, which worried her. Renna had spent most of her life making sure that didn’t happen. Yet somehow his bright blue eyes, square jaw, and straight-laced moral code had slipped through her defenses. And oh, the way his fingers had tantalizingly stroked her most sensitive places… Renna felt herself go warm as she remembered the last time she’d been with him. She’d escaped from Navang, but not before he’d started the process of taking over her implant. Finn had spent the night in her room, waiting for her to regain consciousness, and she’d practically begged him to make love to her. She could still feel the heat of his skin. She inhaled, half-expecting to smell his scent—sandalwood, gun grease, and something that was inexplicably him. She needed to know what was going on between them, and if that meant more bunk-side exploration, she’d totally take one for the team. But until she knew how to stop Pallas and put an end to these experiments, she wasn’t going anywhere, despite the urge she had to run back to Finn. She’d stay in this facility and let them poke and prod her, just to protect him and Myka. Even if it made her crazy. The lock on her door beeped, and high-heeled shoes clacked across the threshold. Speak of the devil. Renna turned as Dr. Samil entered the room. The young doctor wore a pleasant smile despite the slightly frazzled appearance of her long blonde hair escaping the messy bun she always wore. Renna leaned back against the edge of her bed. “Do you always have to look so happy at the prospect of stabbing me with those instruments of torture?” Dr. Samil’s blue eyes sparkled. “For someone who’s done her share of killing, I can’t believe you have a needle phobia.” “We all have our weaknesses,” Renna said with a shrug. “Pointy, shiny, metal bloodsuckers just happen to be mine.” Samil set her holopad down on the counter and pressed her thumb to the scanner to unlock the drawer. She pulled out a tray of tools. “I guess it’s time for the torture to begin.” The doctor brushed her bangs back off her forehead, and Renna gritted her teeth as she slid back onto the bed, preparing to be poked. “How’d the last test go? Is the implant fusing normally?” Renna stared pointedly at the far wall as Samil fumbled with the glinting needles on the tray. “Or whatever normal is in this fucked-up situation.” The doctor shook her head, flicking a finger against one of the syringes before pushing the plunger. Pink-tinged liquid squirted from the needle. “I wish I knew. I haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s fascinating.” Her voice was full of that breathless excitement Renna had come to hate. “Whatever Dr. Navang did prompted your ordinarily harmless implant to start fusing directly with your nervous system. If my hunch is right, any other cybernetic implants installed during this time would also fuse to your body. You could even start picking up other electronic signals.” Renna flinched. Not only because of the quick jab of pain as the doctor deftly slid the needle into her arm, but because she was already picking up those electronic signals. Things were progressing faster than the doctor knew. “Relax. I promise this won’t hurt.” “That’s what Navang said.” Renna tilted her head and fixed Samil with a frown. “And look how that turned out.” The doctor finished injecting Renna with whatever drug cocktail she was trying today, then smiled. “There. Wasn’t so bad, was it? I promise I don’t like torturing you any more than you like being tortured. Unfortunately, I need one more sample to check your antibody levels.” “Of course you do.” Renna grudgingly let the woman extract a vial of blood and then crossed her arms as Samil slipped the vial into her pocket. “So what did you mean about the other implants?” Dr. Samil nodded as she tapped some information into her tablet. “Navang wanted to create an army of hybrids he could control, right? Well, the first step was to keep their bodies from rejecting the modified implants he installed. But it didn’t work. His technique destroyed some of their own tissue and risked the constant rejection of the implants. Hence the need for a steady infusion of the anti-rejection medications. “The new formula he tested on you was a different attempt at the same thing. If he could find a way to make your body fuse with the implant, make it think it was part of itself, eventually technology could overtake biology. Even better, when the process was complete, depending on the type of implant, he could have different types of soldiers. He’d be able to control them all using his neural network. They’d be nothing but mindless robots until he gave them orders.” Samil’s voice rose as she spoke, her gestures growing even more animated, but a dull ache had started in Renna’s stomach. She remembered the expressionless eyes of the minions at Navang’s lab as she’d slaughtered them to ensure Finn and Myka’s escape. Her heart squeezed as she recalled Viktis’s assurance that she would make it. Her skin crawled at the realization that she was nothing more than an experiment to the doctor, a shiny new toy to be studied until the novelty waned. But this was Renna’s life. She wasn’t going to sit here helpless while other people tried to save her. “How long do I have?” she interrupted before Samil could get even more excited. The woman positively hummed. Samil paused, blinking at Renna. “Of course. Right. My assistant has had some success in creating a new drug to slow the fusion. It’s not exact, but I’m hopeful it will work.” Wispy, flyaway hairs floated around her face like a halo as she shook her head. “I’m confident we’ll have a breakthrough soon. I promise we’ll figure this out.” “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Doctor. The headaches are getting worse every day.” Renna rubbed at her sore temples, closing her eyes as a wave of pain started to build. She shored up the walls surrounding her heart and refused to even think about losing the connection she’d made with Finn. “On the plus side, if your drugs don’t work and the implant takes over my brain, I hear metal body suits are all the rage this year.” Samil crossed her arms and leaned back against the table, a frown marring her pretty features. “You’re awfully calm about this whole situation.” Renna shrugged. She was ten years younger than the doctor, but she suddenly felt like she was a hundred years older. “I’ve learned to deal with the unexpected in my line of work, doc. If you can’t change something, you figure out how to work around it. It’s the only way to survive.” “That’s a cynical view of life for someone who’s only twenty-three.” “You saw my file. I grew up in the Izan tenements on Earth, with a prostitute for a mother and a background in stealing. I’ve worked hard to move on, but growing up like that leaves a scar. Or two.” Renna forced herself not to touch the physical scar on her neck, the daily reminder of that life and everything she’d worked so hard to forget. Thinking about her mother’s attempt to kill her in a drug-induced rage still made Renna flush with shame and hatred. Still made her wary of trusting anyone. Even Finn. Samil’s expression softened. “I know. And for someone with your past, you’ve come a long way. You’re now part of an intergalactic organization, doing your part to save the universe. You’ve become something bigger than just a thief. I admire you for that.” “If I had a choice, I would’ve been long gone by now. I’m no hero, and I certainly am not a team player. I don’t need to depend on a galactic organization. I just need myself.” Renna settled back against the pillows and crossed her arms. “MYTH can keep its good deeds. I’m just in this for the dental plan.” And just maybe to make sure she got a shot at happily ever after. Samil chuckled, and Renna felt a responding smile twist her lips. Despite the needles and the fact that the doctor viewed Renna as a science experiment, she liked the woman. Samil was whip-smart, and if anyone could solve this puzzle, it would be her. “What am I going to do with you, dove?” the doctor asked with a shake of her head. “Save me, I hope.” But the doctor could stop using that stupid nickname any time now. Thinking of Renna as a meek little dove was laughable. “I’m doing my best. I do wish Navang’s facility hadn’t been destroyed. If I had access to his drugs and research, it would make all of this so much easier. Or even Myka Aldani. At one time, he was the key to all of this.” Renna’s pulse jumped, and she dropped her gaze to the stark white tiles on the floor. This was exactly why she’d sent Finn on the run with Myka. Destroying the facility had been the only way to stop the human-robot hybrid army Navang and Pallas were building, but it had also signed Renna’s death warrant and put the kid in even more danger. Had she made the right choice? Could she have stopped Navang another way? “Do you know why Captain Finn destroyed the place?” Samil asked. “It doesn’t make sense. The captain doesn’t disobey orders.” “You know Finn?” She clenched her hands in her lap at the unexpected pang of jealousy. The past seven years had changed Finn into a different person, and those years were wrapped in a protective cloak that seemed to surround his heart. He was different, but that Finn from her childhood still remained. She’d thought they’d have plenty of time to get to know him again, to figure out if there was, in fact, a relationship developing under her nose, but life never worked out the way she planned. Samil nodded. “I was ship doctor for a year on the Athena. He’s a good man. It must have been something big for him to turn his back on MYTH.” Her blue eyes searched Renna’s. “Are you sure he didn’t tell you anything?” A lump formed in her throat, and she had to swallow around it before answering. “Finn and I didn’t exactly get along when I came on board.” Sticking to half-truths was the safest bet for now, until she figured out who she could trust. “Right. I’d heard he was angry that Major Dallas wanted him to work with a thief on the last mission. You, I presume?” “Guilty as charged. He wasn’t likely to confide in me either way.” “Probably not. I know how he felt about people like you.” Samil’s eyes widened. “I mean, people who don’t follow the law.” She shook her head with an apologetic frown. “I’m sorry, this isn’t coming out right. I just mean Finn’s a good man. For him to go on the run from MYTH means something is seriously wrong.” Renna nodded. “I get it. I’m a thief. Untrustworthy. But I was hired to do a job and that’s what I did.” “I didn’t mean anything by it, Renna. I’m sorry.” The doctor glanced at the door. “Now that I’ve put my foot in it, I’m going to go make sure my assistant has your newest sample. Stay positive, Renna, it’s going to be fine.” “I hope you’re right because it feels like my brain is about to ooze out my ears.” Samil unlocked another drawer with her thumbprint and rummaged inside. She pulled out a small, flesh-colored disk. “Here, put this medipatch on. It should help with the pain.” Renna slapped it on her arm. “Thanks, doc. I’ll see you later. Hopefully much, much later.” Samil smiled as she left. The door swished shut behind her, and the sound of the lock re-engaging echoed through the room.





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Jamie Grey spent most of her childhood writing stories about princesses who saved the day and pretending to be a daring explorer. It wasn’t until much later that she realized she should combine the two. Now, as a tech-obsessed gamer geek, her novels mix amazing scientific developments, future worlds, and the remarkable characters that live in them.

Jamie lives in Michigan with her boyfriend and their pets, who luckily tolerate her overspending on tea, books, and video games. You can learn more about her at www.jamiegreybooks.com, or follow her on twitter via @jamie_grey.


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