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by StephB
Rated: GC · Book · Personal · #1051691
It's about adventure! Life, Scouting, Family, writing what else is there?
WELCOME TO:

GEMINI RISING

Banner for my blog, "Gemini Rising"


*Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1*

UPDATED INTRO 4 JULY 2019:
Just a little about me. I've been married for 27 years and currently live in Southern California, but I grew up in New Hampshire.

I've got 2 kids, a 17 yrs old and a 12 yr old. Both are boys. Nuff said.

I work as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. I enjoy my job a lot.

I love to write, but since I've been so involved with the Boy Scouts program since 2015 (now Scouts BSA since girls were invited to come on board) I haven't written much. I hope to get back to more writing soon, as I'm scaling back my BSA commitment.

I like to get out in nature, take walks around Castaic Lake, drink coffee and watch football.

Here's a little bi about my zodiac.

GEMINI: Gemini, the sign of the Twins, is dual-natured, elusive, complex and contradictory. On the one hand it produces the virtue of versatility, and on the other the vices of two-facedness and flightiness. The sign is linked with Mercury, the planet of childhood and youth, and its subjects tend to have the graces and faults of the young. When they are good, they are very attractive; when they are bad they are more the worse for being the charmers they are. Like children they are lively, and happy, if circumstances are right for them, or egocentric, imaginative and restless.

Their good qualities are attractive and come easily to them. They are affectionate, courteous, kind, generous, and thoughtful towards the poor and suffering - provided none of the activities resulting from expressing these traits interferes too greatly with their own lives and comforts.

Geminians can be successful in many walks of life though their general characteristics tend to make them unreliable. They are often skilled manipulators of language, in speech and writing, and may be: debaters, diplomats (though in politics they are more interested in theory than practice), orators, preachers (brilliant rather than profound), teachers, authors, poets, journalists, or lawyers.

*Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1* *Flower1*


This is me. I am a Gemini. Pure, Raw, passionate.

The NEW focus of this blog is to share my adventures, scouting adventures, book reviews, thoughts, opinions, and writing adventures from actual writing, writing/editing tips, marketing, research. I'll get there.

Another Signature

Find me at:

WEBSITE:
http://www.stephanieburkhart.com

TWITTER:
http://twitter.com/StephBurkhart

FACEBOOK:
https://www.facebook.com/StephanieBurkhartAuthor

GOOD READS:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4031660.Stephanie_Burkhart

YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
http://www.youtube.com/user/botrina?feature=mhee

Previous GRATITIOUS Warning, that I decided to keep in case I post about something that might offend.

*Exclaim* WARNING *Exclaim*

I intend to be open, honest, and forthright. No topic is off limits from religion to you name it, I'm going there. If you think you might be offended...back up now - this blog isn't for you. For those who "dare" *Wink* check out the "Gemini Rising..."

Previous ... 13 14 15 16 -17- 18 19 20 21 22 ... Next
April 8, 2009 at 10:46am
April 8, 2009 at 10:46am
#644351
So I was trolling the web looking for the latest info about the publishing world because I'm getting ready to put togethre my official newsletter and I found something interesting.

Harlequin's book sales were up the last quarter of 2008. In fact, Romance books have been selling really well. Why? They have a happy ending and most of us need something with a happy ending. Not only that, the books are relativitly inexpensive and affordable.

*Bigsmile*
Steph
March 21, 2009 at 7:41pm
March 21, 2009 at 7:41pm
#641564
My 2 yr old son, Joe, has SI Dysfunction. How can I say? Because he does. I've always been a forthright, honest person and so admiting that Joe has SI Dysfunction is not a hard thing for me to do. I do want to share some of my experiences and my growing knowledge with SI Dysfunction, in the hopes of helping other parents who might have a youngster with SI Dysfunction.

What is it? It's a neuological condition. My son's brain receives sensory input from 7 senses (yes, 7, if you can believe it!) correctly, but it incorrectly interprets it. Because it doesn't perceive sensory input correctly, SI Dysfunction can affect different people differently. In Joe, because he had SI Dysfuction, it interfered with his speech and cognitive development. Thankfully, with got him involved in early childhood services, and Joe is quickly closing the developmental gaps.

7 Senses? Really?

Yes, really. Of course we know five: hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, but there are two other VERY important senses that everyone needs to proccess information: the vestibular and proprocieption. What are they? Vestibular has to do with your sense of balance which you get mainly from the inner ear. It help you position yourself and know where you're positioned. Proprocieption is a "joint" sense. It deals with how joints compact/expand when doing activities. For us to learn effectively, all of these senses come into balance in our brain and our brain correctly interupts their signals, weeding out what we need to know. For example, say you're ironing and listening to music as you do. You're multi-tasking right? Your brain signals it's more important to focus on the ironing. The music is background ground noise. For a person with SI Dysfunction, it might a challenge to do that, especially if they are "hearing" sensitive and the music in the background, while being played at a "normal" level, sounds like they are sitting in the front row of a symphony.

How do you get SI Dysfunction? Is it on the Austistic Spectrum?

No, SI Dysfucntion is not Austistism nor is it on the austistic spectrum, but it can PRESENT with austisim. In my son's case, SI Dysfucntion is presenting by itself coupled with cognitive and speech delays. Since SID is neurologically based, there are several causes. In my son's case, I believe he suffered head trama while being born. I was in labor for two hours and I couldn't push him out. Toward the end of the hours he started showing signs of diress so the doctor decided to perform an emergency c-section. However, there has been strong evidence linking SI Dysfucntion to genetic causes (there's no history of SID in my family or my husband's).

I have some other stuff to do, but I'll post more about SI Dysfunction in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
March 18, 2009 at 9:53pm
March 18, 2009 at 9:53pm
#641134
Well, I picked up two books: another Jillian Hunter, "The Seduction of an English Scoundrel" and Alison Weir's "The Children of Henry VIII." I'm on a 9 day stretch at work and it's day 2. Another 7 to go! I did it to myself. My sister is coming to visit for a week on 25 Mar and I wanted the time off. Anyhoo...I just finished this book review and I thought I'd share with you:

Book Review for “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”
Written by: Alison Weir
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0-345-38072
642 pages
$12.50
5 Stars

Weir weaves a suspenseful tale of lies, mistrust and greed as she examines how Henry VIII treated his wives. Each woman had their own distinct style – Katherine of Aragon was elegant, Anne Boleyn was haughty, Jane Seymour was humble, Anne of Cleaves appeasing, Katherine Howard dared to cuckold the king, and Katherine Parr was nurturing. Weir takes the reader on a delicious romp through English history, telling each lady’s story and their impact on the Tudor legacy. History comes alive, breathing new life into Henry’s story due to Weir’s masterful storytelling.

Weir begins with Katherine of Aragon, outlining her regal background and how she came to be married to Henry after having married Henry’s brother, Arthur. Arthur died only months into the marriage and left Katherine a widow for seven years before Henry married her. Sadly, Katherine was only able to give Henry a daughter, Mary. Henry is determined to leave the Tudor dynasty a male heir and almost heartlessly discard Katherine in middle age to marry Anne Boleyn. Katherine died a lonely death in 1536.

Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn, she’s not able to give Henry a male heir. After having a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Anne has a series of miscarriages. Henry has his court trump up charges of witchcraft and adultery against Anne and she’s beheaded. Almost immediately, Henry married Jane Seymour.

Jane presents herself as humble and agreeable to Henry. Sadly, she dies giving birth to Henry’s only living son. Henry gets married again to try and have children, but Anne of Cleaves doesn’t appeal to him. Smartly, Anne takes his offer of divorce after six months of marriage.

Henry’s infidelities tormented Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but he discovered that his young wife and queen, Katherine Howard had cheated on him, she goes to axe. Old and almost feeble now, Katherine Howard wounded his male pride in a manner that Henry never recovered from.

Katherine Parr walked a thin line with the king. She had a tendency to be outspoken which she had to learn to curb so as not to incite Henry’s anger.

Weir’s story is the brilliant tale of six dynamic women who dared to marry Henry. Her writing is crisp. It’s easy to understand all the complex dynamics in play. Weir’s book is full of juicy details that can’t be found in classroom history book; indeed her book is an excellent compliment to traditional classroom books. “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” is a delicious, sinful read that’s hard to put down.
March 9, 2009 at 5:07pm
March 9, 2009 at 5:07pm
#639603
I'm very busy hanging out in the PR Forum today at the Angel Army and trying to catch up on some of my writing. Here's a recent book review I'd like to share. Any other Jillian Hunter fans out there? Can to share? What was your latest Jillian Hunter book you read? Love to hear your thoughts. I really enjoyed this book and I'd love to read more.

Smiles,
Steph

***************

Book Review for: “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman”
Written by: Jillian Hunter
Ivy Books/Random House
ISBN: 0-345-48760-5
371 pages
$6.99
5 Stars



Hunter plunges the reader into the Regency period of England in this deliciously sinful romance, “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman.” This novel is a continuation of her Boscastle series. Drake Boscastle is a scoundrel who has everything – money, good looks, and charm. However, he believes he’s incapable of love until he meets a woman who challenges him in ways he never thought possible. Hunter’s pacing never lets up. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is a gem of a romance that’s hard to put down.

The novel starts with Drake planning to meet famed courtesan, Maribella St. Ives. Before he does, he attends a party and immediately becomes involved in a scandal when he’s unwittingly drawn into a duel against his cousin, Gabriel. As Drake stalls for time, he meets Eloise Goodwin, a ladies’ companion who has temporarily lost her charge, Thalia Thornton. Drake coaxes Eloise into a dance and they share a spontaneous kiss. Drake then leaves to meet Maribella, but his mind lingers on Eloise. His evening with Maribella is spoiled when Gabriel shows up with Eloise. Eloise asks Drake for his help in finding Thalia. He agrees to help, leaving Maribella.

The next morning, Eloise discovers her employer, Lord Thornton, has left, due to his gambling debts. She’s got her hands full trying to manage the house, keep the creditors at bay, and finding Thalia.

Drake, to his chagrin, finds himself irrevocably drawn to Eloise. She’s beautiful and clever, two traits he can’t resist. To win points with Eloise, Drake finds Thalia and brings her home, ignoring Maribella. Eloise thanks him appropriately, but Drake steals not only a kiss, but intimate caresses as well – caresses which Eloise simply can’t resist.

Soon Drake finds himself spending more and more time with Eloise. Maribella creates a bit of a stir when she leaves Drake, but its Drake’s family that threatens his growing romance with Eloise. After an old boyfriend comes into Eloise’s life and attempts to blackmail her, she agrees to let Drake be her protector. Their physical consummation is all consuming. Drake wants to make Eloise his wife, but is apprehensive about his family will react.

Hunter writes in a third person omniscient point of view, changing perspectives with no clear line breaks or divisions. This is known as a “Lonesome Dove,” perspective and most professional editors discourage it, but the romance genre is very forgiving of it. The story moves fluidly. Drake, Eloise, and the supporting cast are likable and interesting. Hunter’s dialogue is crisp and sharp. Her descriptions put the reader in the moment, and her love scenes are vividly passionate. The story’s ending gives the reader rich satisfaction. “The Wicked Games of a Gentleman” is one romance that can’t be put aside easily.


A pic of me taken 2 years ago.
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Angel Product Reviews  (ASR)
Learn all about doing product reviews for WDC and earn merit badges for your effort! Fun!
#1209679 by iKïyå§ama


The Wolf's Torment   (Rated: 18+)
ASIN: 0595417337
ID #109870
Product Type: Book
Reviewer: Stephanie Grace
Review Rated: 18+
  Setting:
  Story Plot:
  Length of :
  Overall Quality:
Amazon's Price: $ 20.95



March 5, 2009 at 6:59pm
March 5, 2009 at 6:59pm
#639004
I hate to say it, Sweeties, but I've been a little behind the weather as of late. I've been suffering from a sore throat and I simply haven't had much to say as far as blogging goes. I've been busy judging contests, working on my own writing, and going to the gym.

JOSEPH
Well, last week we met with all of Joe's therapists and I think we're pretty much all agreed - he has SI Dysfunction. The diagnose is not official because only a doctor can really do that, but we know it's not Autism and something has/was been interfering with his development. Now that we know what it is, we can tailor our interaction to facilitate his learning. The good news is that he's closed severe gaps down to mild ones. He's talking now and expanding his vocubulary every day. We've got him on a sensory diet to help with his sensory imput.

What is SI Dysfuction? Well, it can present in Autism, but in Joe, it is presenting by itself with speech/cognitive delays, delays that were once severe but are now mild. It is a dysfuction, not a disease, so it can't be cured, but it can be managed. SI Dysfuction is where the body receives sensory imput normally, but misinterupts it. In Joe's case, he's always "hyper" - always seeking imput. It's more vesitbular and prioprioceptive, and there are some taste issues as well. I got a great book called, "Raising a Sensory Smart Child," and I'll be blogging more about Joe's condition as time permits.

WRITING

Well, I've been judging a bunch of contests, and I had to prepare two newsletters and that took up a bunch of my time. I am working on two WIP's - if you get a chance, pop in and check out the latest chapters. I really appreciate feedback and if you read them, I'll give out merit badges for reading. *Smile*

The Hungarian  (13+)
This is the novel inspired by my short story, "The Wolf's Kiss."
#1312489 by StephB


 Twilight Over Moldavia  (18+)
Prince Stefan has been cursed to become a werewolf!
#1306191 by StephB


I also wanted to share this Product Review on my novel, "The Wolf's Torment." I was tickled pink to receive it!!

The Wolf's Torment   (Rated: 18+)
ASIN: 0595417337
ID #109870
Product Type: Book
Reviewer: Stephanie Grace
Review Rated: 18+
  Setting:
  Story Plot:
  Length of :
  Overall Quality:
Amazon's Price: $ 20.95


READING

I'm still reading THE OTHER BOLYEN GIRL and I'm on page 413 out of 600+. I'm really enjoying the book. It's about Henry VIII and his relationship with Anne Boleyn and it's told in the first person by Anne's sister, Mary in the first person. If you enjoy historical fiction, you'll really enjoy this book. There was a movie based on the book last year, but the book is MUCH BETTER than the movie.

I also just finished reading "THE WICKED GAMES OF A GENTLEMAN" by Jillian Hunter. The book takes place in Regency England and it was a quick nice, romantic read. I give it a good recommendation.

DVD
During my sickness, I was able to watch a couple of DVD's: Wanted, Nights in Rodanthe, XFiles 2 and Religulious. My favorite was Nights in Rodanthe. I thought it was a great book - a really smart romance.

I'm off to work on my OFFICIAL newsletter. If you get a chance, I'd love to see you sign up. It has features on Genre writing, News from the Publishing World, and writing tips - this month is the importance of Research. If you get a chance, pop on over to my website and scroll down to the bottom. File out the form and send it in.

Also, I'm hosting a NEW Monthly official contest where I give out Gift Certificates to Amazon. Check out THE FICTION CAFE on my official website to enter.

Here's a link: http://sgcardin.tripod.com

Hope to see you around.

PS... I'm also a raffle here on WDC to support some of my WDC Contests, BEST OF THE REST and SHOW OFF YOUR BEST. Pop into the raffle and check it out. There are great prizes and you're gps are helping to support two long standing contests in the WDC Community.

 Best of the Rest Raffle  (ASR)
A raffle to support the Best of the Rest Contest. CLOSED
#1474097 by StephB


*Bigsmile*
Steph



February 16, 2009 at 11:38pm
February 16, 2009 at 11:38pm
#636246
I know it's been a while as usual, but last week was crazy. I didn't have Monday off as I usually do, so that threw me off. Then I had to stay up on Tuesday while we paid a visit to the taxman. I wasn't too happy with our tax returns but a little something is better than nothing. We're supposed to get 400 back from California. *Laugh* Cold Day in Hell, I suppose. The state is tetering on bankrupcy. Well, let it go. Every poltician in this state is corupt - but that's a post for another time.

I couldn't even find time to make my gym appointments for my trainer last week. I did make it to Weight Watchers were I droped 1.2 pounds. This week has been a challenge for me. We visited our favorite French restaurant on Friday in early celebration of Valentine's Day. I had my usual, the filet mignon which was delicious as usual. (Actually, it was a little red in the middle. I asked for medium and well, it was rare,) but I ate anyway. It was a nice dinner, but I'm still recovering from that. If I lose .2 this week I'll be thrilled.

The weekend wasn't too busy, but it rained and it's torture for two boys under 6 to be in the house due to the rain. Joe's doing good w/his therapies. His child development therapist has evalutated him at 23 months which is fantastic from his first eval. (He's now at 30 months) There's still work to be done, but thrilled at the progress.

That said, I thought I'd share the thought of the day with you: EBOOKS.

So, how many have ebooks? How many ebooks do you have? How do your read them? On your computer or on a Kindle or a similiar ebook reader? Why do you like ebooks. What's the appeal to you?

I ask because I don't have an ebook. Well, I have two ebook short stories, but that's about it. They're on my computer. Personally, ebooks don't appeal to me (right now) because I love getting my hands on a paper book, but that's not to say I'm not totally turned off by ebooks.

So what's happening with ebooks? Amazon is releasing Kindle 2 on 24 and it's going to have a new "controversal" feature - text to speech. What's text to speech? It's where the Kindle will read the text of the book outloud in a computerized voice.

The Author's Guild calls this a violation of copyright law since only an audio book has rights to read a book out loud. BUT DO THEY? That's what they claim. Amazon says this is different. This is a computer reading the book, not actors giving voice to a story. Amazon and a lot of the experts in the field think they have the law on their side, but if they go ahead with Kindle 2 then their might be a lawsuit from the Author's Guild.

So why buck the trend? Is ebooks the next BEST Thing?

Well, heck, there was unhappiness with CDs and and the Internet when they first started out, too. A lot of the Author's Guild complaints stem from the fact that they don't want to open the gates to an area they can't control. Even the publishing houses are afraid of change.

Think of it this way - if you self publish and offer a book through your website - you take 100% (or most of) the profit without having to go through the publishing gatekeepers.

Is that cool? Well - self publishing doesn't have a good rep. Sadly, most of what is self published is not up to par, suffering from editiorial and proofreading mistakes. Self published books like "The Shack" are few and far between. Until self publishing gets a better rep, ebooks (at least the self published ones) won't take off. The crux: Most ebooks are self-published. Traditional publishers are afraid to go there - yet. That said, if they could jump on the techno bandwagon, they might see their profits increase at a time when the traditional market is suffering right now. Heck, Harper and Collins just recently laid of 25% of it's workforce. Not Cool.

If the publishing industry wants to be innovative in this publishing downturn my advice would be to explore ebooks. But that's just me. Anyone else have any thoughts on ebooks?

Smiles,
Steph
February 7, 2009 at 1:22am
February 7, 2009 at 1:22am
#634400
Just thought I'd log in and catch up with you all.

Well, I've been on Weight Watchers for a month now and I've lost 3 pounds. It hasn't been easy, but it is a life style change and I have to remember that. I also have to remember my 40 year old body just don't have the same pep as it used to.

I don't mind being on AM watch at work. (10 pm to 6 am) My hardest struggle is to stay awake a 3 am. The work load is easy though. I have a trainee at work, so I'm not getting much writing done. Hope to work on stuff tomorrow while my rug rats run wild around the house! haha.

Writing: I'm working on a short genre story for the 77th Annual WD Contest. I've got two projects pretty much done, a script/play called "War and Wine" which takes place in France in WWII and a horror one called "The Cat." As far as my WIP, "The Hungarian," I've got some more work to do, but I've pretty much got the plot shored up and I just have to find the time to write.

Reading: Immediately: The Other Boleyn Girl. Next up: New Moon.

Music: I'm hooked on Coldplay. I hope they do well at the Grammys. I recently got Sirius Sat. Radio and I love it. I love the selections. I'm hooked on the "1st Wave" channel which focuses on the 1st Wave of alternative music. Anyone remember Echo & The Bunnymen, OMD and Souxie Soux and the Banshees? Consider me a fan.

Movies: I haven't seen any recently. I re-watched Underworld 2 the other night. I found "Tristian and Isodole" and I'll watch that one next. Hehe. I love James Franco.

Here's my book review on "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. Thanks for hanging out with me.
*****




Book Review for “Twilight”.



Written by: Stephenie Meyer



Hachette Book Group.



ISBN: 0-316-03838-5.



498 pages.



$10.99



4 Stars.





At “Twilight” those paranormal forces beyond our control come out, and Isabella Swan (Bella) must suspend all reasonable belief to accept those forces exist – and to fall in love. Meyer’s writing is brisk, easy to read, and readers will discover they’ve turned over more pages then they’ve realized..



.. ..



The story actually starts a bit slowly as seventeen-year-old Bella moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her father. As she establishes her routines, she notices a strange family of teenagers, the Cullens. They are all beautiful with pale skin and chameleon-like eyes. They also tend to stick to themselves. Bella is surprised by Edward’s initial cold treatment of her. She doesn’t know what to make of it – or him. It’s only when he saves her life with his lightening quick reflexes and unexpected strength does she begin to think there might be something unusual with him. When her Indian friend, Jacob, tells her about the “cold ones,” his story inspires her to do some research. With all the evidence in front of her, Bella concludes Edward is a vampire.



.. ..



When Bella confronts him, he admits it. He’s fallen in love with her and tried to push her away, but he can’t fight the attraction anymore. Edward gives into his love for her and Bella gives into her love for him as well. There’s no physical consummation of their love, it’s a love cultivated through feelings and emotions which provides an intense high for both.



.. ..



Edward discusses some myths and truths about the vampire world with Bella. He tells her how Carlisle created him during the Flu outbreak in 1917. Carlisle, Edward, and the vampires who live with them have learned to curb their blood lust for human blood, but some vampire covens and families haven’t. To that end, Edward’s family meets three vampire strangers while playing a game of baseball and one, James, decides to track Bella. Edward and his family try their best to protect her, but James tracks Bella to Phoenix, Arizona. James does bite Bella, but Edward draws the venom out of her. The book ends with Edward taking Bella to the prom. Bella asks for the bite of immortality from Edward who refuses to give it.






The book is written in the first person from Bella’s perspective. Meyer does a great job staying in perspective, but there are times when Bella’s determination crosses the line to irritating whininess, and it’s hard to understand how Edward finds this trait of hers attractive.



Edward is “tempted” over and over again to taste Bella’s blood and he does an admirable job holding his temptation in check. In that regard, that aspect of his character wrestling with temptation seemed a non-issue since temptation really wasn’t an issue.






The book is geared for a young adult audience. The plot comes together well. It’s easy to read and a page-turner. While there are some suspenseful elements, especially with James on the hunt for Bella, toward the end they are overshadowed by the melodrama teen angst that emotes throughout. Meyer does create an original world and gives her vampires twists and nuances of their own. “Twilight” is an interesting read just to devour Meyer’s creative spin on the vampire world.

January 27, 2009 at 10:12pm
January 27, 2009 at 10:12pm
#632423
Book Review for “Dreams From My Father”
Written by: Barack Obama
3 Rivers Press
ISBN: 978-1-4000-8277-3
442 pages
$14.95
4.5 Stars

“Dreams From My Father,” is a moving story about President Obama’s early years. It focuses on race and its inheritance. It’s the journey of a young man searching to discover himself in his roots. Along the way there are friends and challenges to stimulate him. “Dreams From My Father” is an elegant and compelling read.

Composed in 1996, Barak Obama reveals his roots, their discoveries, and the impressions left on him. The book starts with Obama as a young boy living in Hawaii with his mother and her parents. He has no memories of his father, only stories that his mother and grandparents tell. Obama comes from a mixed heritage – a white mother and a black father who lives in Kenya. His mother is open minded, idealistic, naïve in one sense, world-wise another. His grandparents love him unconditionally. As a young boy, his mother marries a man from Indonesia and they go to live there. Obama speaks fondly of his step-father, and learns several life lessons from him, but unfortunately his mother’s relationship with his step-father doesn’t last. His mother send s him back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents so he can attend a prestigious Hawaiian school. Soon, his mother and sister go back to Hawaii, but he stays with his grandparents which give him a sense of consistency. He learns his grandfather’s strengths and weaknesses, but never really comes to see him as the father figure he’s seeking.

Obama has one encounter with his father when he’s ten in Hawaii. Obama is a little in awe, a little overwhelmed. His father’s visit isn’t long and leaves Obama with more questions than answers.

The book then moves on to cover Obama’s life in Chicago as a community organizer. It’s challenging work that is rarely rewarding, but Obama gives it his all. Then a relative from Kenya calls to tell him his father has died, but Obama’s not quite sure how to feel about that or how to react. Several weeks later, his Kenyan half-sister, Auma, makes contact with him. Auma gives him a peek into his father’s life in Kenya. Obama is intrigued by the life Auma leads and wants to learn more about their father. Before he leaves community organizing to go to Harvard Law School, he makes arrangements to visit Auma in Kenya.

In Kenya, Obama discovers a family he didn’t even know. His father had at least four wives, and Obama has a slew of brothers and sisters who are living in their father’s shadow. Obama and Auma visit with one their grandfather’s wives, “Granny.” She tells Obama’s father and grandfather stories to him. It’s a riveting tale of two people and it helps to define those aspect of Obama’s self and his heritage he was seeking.

“Dreams From My Father,” is an engrossing read. Verbose at times, Obama’s personal stories are heartwarming and easily connect with readers. The book defines the “mettle” behind a man – and a president.

January 26, 2009 at 12:53pm
January 26, 2009 at 12:53pm
#632087
Here's something that I thought was Cool - I was at work the other day and one of my co-workers had a Kindle by Amazon. A Kindle is basically an electronic book reader. It always one to read e-books and e-stories. He was gracious enough to say he paid about $300 for it. I was very impressed with it but I almost gagged on the price. He also said Amazon was backed up on orders until March and the backup was getting longer. I got the impression that the Kindle was in high demand.

On my Writing Workshop group, I learned that there are other ebook readers that range from between $230-300. Ereaders therefore, aren't cheep, but at my work, I can see why my co-worker liked it. I have a feeling ebook readers are going to get more popular. Many on my writing group felt the price would come down as well. Let's face it, I liked the Kindle but I couldn't afford it. Still - I liked the concept of reading ebooks like that.

Does anyone else have a Kindle? Thoughts on it?
Smile
Steph
January 24, 2009 at 8:13pm
January 24, 2009 at 8:13pm
#631780
I love the Underworld series. Sadly, I didn’t discover the series until UW2: Evolution. (Thank God for DVDs!) I didn’t realize UW3 was coming out though until I saw the billboard ads driving into work a week ago and I was excited. That said, I thought I’d share a couple of thoughts about the series and the new movie.

Back in 2005/2006, I was working on my own werewolf series, (The Sigmaringen Saga) when a good friend of mine, Starr, started gushing about UW2. She said Kate Beckinsale kicked ass (as usual) and there was a really hot love scene with Beckinsale and Speedman’s characters. She also suggested I watch for research purposes since she knew I was writing a werewolf novel. I’m game to any and all of Starr’s suggestions because I know her writing instincts are great, so I became open to seeing the movie. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it in the theatres because it’s hell trying to find a babysitter. I had to wait until DVD. In hindsight, I wish I’d found that babysitter.

I really should have gone to see UW2 in the theatre – just for the awesome action/fight scenes. Seeing those scenes in a theater is infinitely more desirable then watching them on a DVD. The DVD looses a bit of the fight/action powerful “punches.”

When I finally saw the movie on DVD, I loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Beckinsale rocked as the confident, yet slightly vulnerable “Selene,” and “Marcus” made an excellent vampire elder. There was just the right balance of action and story. The love scene between “Selene” and “Michael” was one of the hottest I’ve seen in a movie and totally convincing. What I liked about UW2: Beckinsale. She owned the part. She gave depth and dimension to “Selene.” The casting! I loved how the director paid attention to the casting. Every actor made their role feel authentic and believable. Notable casting: “Marcus,” “Tannus,” and “Alexander.” For me, the end didn’t leave much room for a sequel, so I was surprised to see the billboards for UW3.

Anyway, after watching UW2, I watched UW1 with Starr. Watching #1 was just as exciting as watching #2. Again, Beckinsale was fantastic as “Selene.” Bill Nighy rocked as “Viktor.” In fact, his “Viktor,” inspired my own character “Viktor Bacau,” in the Sigmaringen series. “Lucien” was an excellent Lycan and his story generated sympathy with me. I liked how the movie ended with blood dripping down into Marcus’s tomb. I loved how the Lycans were looking into science and genetics and not mysticism to explain their condition. What bothered me about the movie? “Kraven.” This character was pivotal to the story, but this was probably the one casting choice in the series I didn’t agree with. “Kraven” didn’t have the edge I thought he should have, and that’s given that he was supposed to be “soft,” to an extent. UW1 actually hints at the back story which is told in UW3.

Knowing that UW3 was coming out, I asked my husband to watch the kids so I could go see it in the theatre. He agreed. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I saw “Selene,” and “Viktor” on the billboards and I knew “Viktor” had died in the first one. Was this about how “Viktor” made “Selene?” I was curious. After looking up movie times online, I did a little research on the movie. It was about “Viktor” and “Sonia’s” relationship (his daughter) and the start of the Lycan/Death Dealer war. Kate Beckinsale wasn’t going to be in this installment. Immediately, I was a little disappointed. After all, what was “Underworld” without “Selene?” Then I thought about it – the series itself is more than just Beckinsale’s “Selene.” There was a whole history about the elders (Viktor/Amelia/Marcus) and the back story was just as compelling as “Selene.” With most of my favorite actors back, I went to see UW3.

I was delighted to see UW3 in the theatre – just for the action/fight scenes alone. They were totally mesmerizing. “Viktor” is ruling with “Marcus” and “Amelia” in hibernation. His daughter, “Sonia,” is an ass-kicking death dealer on the council and well respected. The setting is many centuries ago in medieval Europe. In flashbacks, I saw “Lucien” as a baby and “Sonia” as a little girl and I couldn’t help but wonder – how did these characters age into their mid-twenties and then stop? That was never explained to me.

“Lucien,” the first of the Lycans to control their transformation is spared by “Viktor.” The movie starts with “Lucien” and “Sonia” carrying on a secret, yet pulse-pounding hot affair. The actress playing “Sonia” invokes Beckinsale’s “Selene,” and in that regard, the producers got the story plot effect they wanted since its “Viktor’s” killing of his daughter which influences his decision to turn “Selene.” Also, while the actress doesn’t annoy me as much as the “Kraven” casting, she did have trouble showing that vulnerability needed to convince me that her character was totally in love with “Lucien.” I was convinced of “Lucien’s” love for her. The actor playing him was very convincing.

As “Sonia” faces the sunlight, her penalty death for loving “Lucien,” “Lucien’s” newfound hate spurns forward a war that lasts for centuries between Lycans and Death Dealers. In all, it’s a rich prequel, however it did leave me with a second question.

In UW2, “Lucien’s” necklace is revealed to be one half of the key to “William’s” (the first werewolf) eternal imprisonment. “Selene,” in flashbacks, held the key as a little girl, yet here in this movie, it is a gift “Viktor” has given to “Sonia.” When she dies, “Lucien,” claims it for his own, a keepsake of his love for “Sonia.” If this necklace is truly the key to “William’s” coffin, then “Viktor” must have already made “Selene,” and yet that isn’t possible because “Sonia” has to die first. I really wish this would have been explained better in the movie. This nagging plot point is a glaring inconsistency in a movie whose consistency I admired.

The movie ends with a voice over by “Kraven” taunting “Selene” as she prepares to jump off a modern day building – UW1’s opening shot. It brings the series full circle and it left me feeling good just seeing Beckinsale as “Selene” again.

Did I enjoy the series? You bet! It challenged me as a viewer to think about what was going to happen next. For me, it’s a series I’ll enjoy for a long time to come. I’d love to see an UW4 – but only if it “fits” and is not done in a gratuitous sequel fashion.

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