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The Beat of Gaia's Heart

The Andre Norton Award Blog Tour

The Norton Award, which recognizes outstanding young adult science fiction or fantasy, offers an opportunity for readers to discover some great reading. Many of the other bloggers on this tour will tell you about the latest and greatest they know of in YA fiction, but I'm going to do something a little different.

As today’s blogger on the Norton Blog Tour, I’m talking not just about some books that impressed me and set me on the path of a writer (we're talking decades ago, here, folks), but also about the inspiration that Andre was to me personally—in both indirect and direct ways. It’s important, you see, never to underestimate the influence and power of a storyteller, and Andre herself excelled not just in her desire to help new writers but also in her ability to craft stories that not only touched her readers, but stirred their cores in ways that would stay with them for years. Read More 

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War Horse: A Review

War Horse, an incredible film

Having been crazy about horses since I was tiny, I was eager to see War Horse as soon as it came out, but circumstances over the holidays prevented my going to see it immediately. Yesterday, however, I remedied that, and was very glad that I did. In this review I will try to give you a sense of what the movie evokes without too many spoilers, and I will warn readers who have not seen the movie when a spoiler is on the way.

If you have a chance and are at all considering it, you should view War Horse on the big screen first—this from someone who very seldom gets to movies in the theater and usually waits till they hit DVDs. But trust me—the impact of this movie is orders of magnitude greater when stretching out before you on a theater screen and heard over the theater sound system: the beautiful panoramas of English countryside, the pastoral French fields outside the range of battle … the drama and horror of the battlefields themselves, the thunder of hoofs and guns … even—particularly—the sounds of horses breathing. Particularly compelling are the cavalry charge early on and the grim desolation of the muddy hills up which the horses must pull the heavy German guns—and, of course, the utter horror of No Man’s Land between the British and German lines. Read More 

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Book Review: Mind Over Mind

Review of Mind Over Mind

Deryl was committed to an exclusive sanitarium years ago by his family when he became irrational and suicidal. He’s still there, and what his family doesn’t know is that his symptoms are caused by his psychic and telepathic abilities: he not only can read the thoughts of others, but he feels their emotions – a problem that, of course, has become even more difficult now that he is surrounded by the mentally unstable and even the elderly Holocaust survivor down the hall, stricken with Alzheimer’s, whose memories about his terrible ordeal are a misery that Deryl has finally learned to manage. Somewhat.

Oh, and then there’s the Miscria, the mysterious being that summons him from time to time to demand that he learn about all sorts of arcane subjects, from medieval weaponcraft to triage to military strategy to space reconnaissance. Then he must report to the Miscria on all he knows. To the Miscria, he is known as Ydrel – the Oracle – for the knowledge he imparts.

And there’s also the Master, who appears in his dreams and teaches him to fight. But the bruises are there when he wakes up.

Because it’s real.  Read More 
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Guest Blogger: Karina Fabian and Mind Over Mind

Please welcome today's guest blogger, Karina Fabian. Karina has written a fascinating book about what the realities in the life of a telepath might bring -- mental illness, loss of control, even commitment to a mental facility -- rather than the facile picture we often have of what a telepath might endure. And that's all in addition to the troubles that result when Deryl, the telepath, is sought out by an alien race trying to survive.

But make no mistake: Mind Over Mind, the first volume in the Mind Over Mind trilogy, will draw you in on the first page -- review will follow later this week. In the meantime, please enjoy Karina's guest post, and leave a comment -- or ask a question!

I stand in the middle of huge, boisterous crowd, the din pressing down on me. I can hear every voiced thought--no matter if it’s a whisper or a scream. Desire and disappointment, logic and emotion, fear and exultation--they crowd in on me, demanding my attention. His debt; her depression. She hates her parents; he looks at his newborn with so much hope. I wish the noise would beat me numb, but just as I think the cacophony might reach white noise, something new and piercing catches me by surprise. There are no pills to ease the pain; no meditation to drown out the noise, and no way to get everyone to shut up. Read More 

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Guest Blogger: Chris Redding and her latest mystery, A View to a Kilt

Please welcome today’s guest blogger, Chris Redding. If you’ve been wondering what her latest mystery novel is about, here’s a little teaser, as well as a short excerpt to give you a taste. Check it out, and leave a comment or ask a question!

Waking up next to a dead guy can ruin your whole day. When a wise-cracking interior decorator wants to put her past behind her, the dead body of the mayor’s son makes her realize that won’t happen too easily. A conservative former computer geek for the FBI is holding on too tightly to his past. His wife died under suspicious circumstances and he believes the decorator has the information to solve the case. Unfortunately for him, she isn’t speaking until a series of events convinces her she needs protection, especially when her biggest secret threatens to destroy both of their lives.

From A View to a Kilt

Waking up next to a dead guy can ruin your whole day.

At least interior decorator Miriam Stokes thought so.

The Philadelphia police detective whose name she couldn’t remember talked soothingly to her, making her feel, not better, but at least calmer.

As calm as anyone could feel after finding a dead body. How did she get herself into these things? Read More 

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Guest Blogger: Pamela K. Kinney and her new book on ghosts

Please welcome my guest blogger today, Pamela K. Kinney. Her new book is on the haunted regions of Virginia, and she has graciously written a blog post today about ghosts -- a topic that has fascinated mankind for millennia. She has also provided us with a glimpse into the past with an excerpt from her book.

Take it away, Pamela! Readers, read on....

Things That Go Bump in the Night, or the Ghosts That Haunt Us

“History has a way of causing hauntings.”
Pamela K. Kinney (Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations)

Today, people are interested in the paranormal. Thanks to TV shows like X-Files, Ghost hunters, and many other paranormal reality shows and shows on true ghost stories, many are trooping out to form paranormal investigating groups to learn more about the specters that haunt our world. Even those who are not participating in “ghost hunting” for real are interested in “life after death.” In the mortal world, with so many worries of economy and day-to-day troubles, maybe some proof, no mater how small, shows us the next world after death will not be so bad. I know for me, it’s a sort of comfort food as for many others. Whoever thought something Halloween scary and goes bump in the night would be something that gives comfort to those alive?

Ghost comes from the Old English gást, which in turn, came from Common Germanic term, gaistaz. The pre-Germanic form was ghoisdo-s, denoting "fury, anger" reflected in Old Norse geisa "to rage." In Germanic paganism, "Germanic Mercury," and the later Odin, was at the same time the conductor of the dead and the "lord of fury" leading the Wild Hunt. The Old English word is used as a synonym of Latin spiritus meaning "breath, blast" from the earliest attestations (9th century). It could also denote any good or evil spirit, like angels and demons. The Anglo-Saxon gospel refers to the demonic possession of Matthew 12:43 as se unclæna gast.  Read More 

An End and a Beginning: The Harry Potter Alliance

Today was another milestone. I went to see the final Harry Potter movie.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is so good I really wanted to buy a ticket for the next show and see it again right away, but I did have work to do. Sigh.

If you haven’t seen it yet, run, do not walk, to the nearest theater. But  Read More 
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Going Solar

I took a HUGE step today. I signed on the dotted line to go solar.

I already drive a Prius, and have wanted to put solar panels on my home for years but couldn’t quite make it happen; something always seemed to be out of sync. When rebates were available, I was in the throes of planning a relocation for my job. When the relocation and the job fell through, the rebates were exhausted and money became a much more serious issue. Solar became a dim dream, something that I still hoped to do some day but no longer considered an immediate possibility. Read More 
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Let’s Hear It for Stupidity

Today I would like to call everyone’s attention to something I’ve been steaming about for days: stupid rules towns and housing developments make about who can do what, and when, and how. Honestly, some of these people should qualify for the Darwin Awards for sheer idiocy.

What am I talking about? Well, in case you haven’t heard about the latest case that made the headlines a few days ago, we have a whole city worried about rogue [GASP!] vegetables marauding through front yards in residential areas and causing a public nuisance with their disorderly conduct.  Read More 

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The Two Faces of Humanity

I’ve written before about people who abandon their pets when their homes are foreclosed. They just walk away, often locking the pets in the house, knowing on some level that they’re sentencing them to a slow and painful death but not caring enough to do anything about it, even to make a quick trip to a shelter.

But a clearer example of the difference between humans so ignorant of their pets’ lives that they would leave them to die without a thought, and those who fight not just to save them but to give them better lives, would be hard to find than the story of Naki’o. Read More 

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