Saturday, February 14, 2015

Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows.  Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world.  Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

He ventures out into a world ransacked by mass confusion and desperation, where he meets others struggling against the tide of sleeplessness.  Chase and his buddy Jordan are devising a scheme to live off their drug-store lootings; Lila is a high school student wandering the streets in an owl mask, no longer safe with her insomniac parents; Felicia abandons the sanctuary of a sleep research center to try to protect her family and perhaps reunite with Chase, an ex-boyfriend.  All around, sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it. However, Biggs persists in his quest for Carolyn, finding a resolve and inner strength that he never knew he had. 

Kenneth Calhoun has written a brilliantly realized and utterly riveting depiction of a world gripped by madness, one that is vivid, strange, and profoundly moving.

Review:  I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I selected it from Blogging for Books.  The plot seemed unique and a nice departure from the norm.  And boy was it anything but normal.  I admire the change in scenery from this book.  I never stopped to wonder what society would be like if people weren't all.  This book does a great job of exploring that question.  People aren't able to sleep, they start to slowly unravel, become highly agitated until they explode into these violent, homicidal maniacs.  Their words don't make any sense; they are basically losing their minds and dying in the process.  

Biggs seems to be one of the main characters.  The book starts out with him searching through a pharmacy, looking for sleeping pills for his wife Carolyn who can't seem to sleep. Then the book progresses into other stories featuring Chase, Lila, and Felicia.  Personally, I felt that Biggs' story was the dullest in the book, I was much more interested in what was going on with the others.  Chase's adventures are memorable, especially his driving episode with dozens of sheep riding along in the back.  Lila's character tears at your heartstrings, a teenager who has lost her entire family and is left wandering around wearing an owl mask as a sort of shield against the world around her.  Then there is Felicia, who is Chase's ex-girlfriend who leaves her secure surroundings at a sleep clinic in Malibu to meet up with Chase when she realizes that she still cares for him despite their earlier issues.

Overall, a smooth, witty, unnerving read, with dashes of great simile and metaphor thrown in by the author.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dystopian, surreal, and thrillers.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for an honest review.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Three Poems Posted at Dead Snakes

~ Great news this morning from editor Stephen Jarrell Williams of Dead Snakes poetry journal.  He accepted three of my poems, Cold and Damp, Free Fall into Forget, and Flutter House.  The poems are now live at Dead Snakes, a journal that accepts work showcasing both the bitter and the sweet, according to the guidelines.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Immortal by Dean Crawford


When the body of a gunshot victim rolls into the Santa Fe morgue, it should be a day like any other for medical investigator Lillian Cruz. Yet upon examination, the corpse appears to be over a hundred years old with smallpox scars, and an odd wound protrudes from the victim#8217's leg. Lodged in the femur, under decrepit scar tissue, is a bullet shaped like a musket ball. The bullet looks like it was fired during the Civil War and had remained in the victim#8217's leg ever since. 

Rattled by the discovery, Cruz instructs her assistant to take specimens to the state authorities immediately and not to tell a soul about it. Minutes after the assistant leaves, the lights go dark in the morgue and Cruz is kidnapped. 

The Defense Intelligence Agency calls in former war correspondent Ethan Warner and his partner, Nicola Lopez, to discreetly investigate the disappearance. And very quickly, a relatively simple case turns into something much more sinister. With each new lead they uncover, Warner and Lopez are inadvertently bringing a warped and dangerous individual closer to achieving a catastrophic goal: immortality. In the spine-chilling tradition of Michael Crichton and James Rollins, Immortal is an action-packed blockbuster that combines science, suspense, and ingenious speculation.

Review:  I bought this book from Book Outlet because the summary seemed intriguing.  I forgot to check the page count on this book, it's quite a hefty read (399 pages) and it actually took me a little over 2 weeks to finish.  I wasn't reading everyday but the book just seemed to drag on and on.  I like that the chapters were short, but the book overall seemed long-winded at times.  Also, there was so much going on that you really had to pay attention, not only to the story but also the various characters.  Sometimes I would start reading a day or two later and ask myself who this guy was because I couldn't remember.

Overall, the plot was thought out well and the characters seemed very real.  The two main characters, Ethan and Nicola's banter back and forth reminded me of the typical CSI or detective shows you see on tv except they were both bail bondsmen or something to that effect.  

The antagonist, an elderly millionaire named Jeb Oppenheimer, was out to capture one of the "immortal" men so that he could study him and possibly create a tonic that would enable him to basically be immortal and live forever.  However, he also had an evil plan to accompany that which entailed culling a majority of the earth's population to save the earth's natural resources for an elite few who he deemed as being superior and above the rest of the population.  

The story held my interest as I read about the 7 "immortals", what caused them to live for so long, and how they were suddenly starting to die after living for over 140 years.  The ending had a nice surprise at the end, finding out that there was an 8th immortal and how this person escaped without being detected.  A good read with a nice blend of suspense, sci-fi, and action.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Lilac City Published

~ My mini-chapbook, The Lilac City, was just published by Origami Poems Project.  I'm so thrilled they published this chapbook and editor Jan Keough was so kind and gracious.  I discovered Origami's website a few years ago but never seemed to have anything appropriate to send to them until recently.  The Lilac City is about discovery of the pacific northwest and fond memories from living in Spokane, WA for over 15 years.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Relic" Posted at The Artistic Muse: Pohemians

~ What a great way to kick off the new year!  My poem Relic was accepted and appears in the latest issue of The Artistic Muse: Pohemians.  I'm so happy that one of my poems made it into this intriguing journal.  I hope to send them more poems in the future, it's a bookmarked site for sure.

* I thought this was interesting and copied it from the site's poetry page:  Poehemiana poet or artist who does not adhere to the norm; a bohemian of poetry or art; a poet or artist who is quite possibly (subconsciously or consciously) inspired by the great  Edgar Allan Poe.

Monday, December 29, 2014

15 Fascinating Facts About Rose Fragrances

This article originally appears via by Lynn Coulter......

For all their eye-catching beauty, roses hide a few secrets in their lush blooms. Their fragrance can be mysterious, evocative, romantic and even surprising. No two rose-lovers experience their scent in quite the same way, a difference that’s due not only to our individual noses, but also to the genetic make-up and growing conditions of the roses themselves. Luckily, learning their secrets doesn’t detract from their allure in any way; it only makes them even more special.
  • Once a rose is fully open, the fragrance is different from the rose in bud. The chemicals that create the scent change as the buds unfold. 
  • Warm, humid weather intensifies fragrance.
  • Rose perfume is at its most intense early in the morning. It’s thought that the scent dissipates as the blooms age.
  • Even roses of the same variety don’t smell exactly alike; scent isn’t always predictable. Rose breeder David Austin says, “We never quite know what we are going to get,” even though his company has been working with roses for 50 years.
  • Perfumer Robert Calkin, who retired from Yardley after a distinguished 40-year career in the industry, has worked with David Austin Roses for a long time, helping describe and evaluate the scents in new varieties. Calkin visits the rose trial fields to analyze plants that may one day be released for sale. 
  • Everyone’s nose is different—or rather, everyone’s perception of scent is different. Some people have very little sense of smell—so it’s fine if you simply enjoy roses for their color and form.
  • Roses are traditional symbols of love and romance. Rose essential oil, also known as attar, is made from the Damask Rose (Rosa damascene) or the Cabbage Rose (Rosa centifolia).  Because the oil is so concentrated, it’s diluted before it’s used commercially.
  • A rose’s petals contain its perfume, although some stamens smell of musk or cloves.
  • The smell of roses is thought to be relaxing and restorative because it encourages us to breath deeply and slowly.
  • It takes at least 8 years for each David Austin English Rose seedling to win approval for its scent, so it can be offered for sale as a new variety.
  • Rose oil is among the most expensive of all oils. It’s made up of 300 active ingredients. Not all of them have been identified yet.
  • Rose oil, like fine wines, can be affected by many factors such as the soil the plants are grown in, the amount of rainfall they receive, and the altitude where they are raised.
  • It takes from 50 to 60,000 rose blooms—all of which are picked by hand—to make one ounce of the finest rose attar.
  • A rose’s perfume becomes stronger before a storm moves in.
  • You can learn about the scent of roses by comparing them to each other. Sniff one blossom and describe the fragrance; is it fruity, sweet, spicy or musky? Don’t experiment too long, or your nose will get fatigued. Try again later, or do as perfumers do, and take deep breaths through a piece of wool, or eat some dry bread, to refresh your olfactory sense.
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