April 5th, 2016

Dead Dog Cat

#37, 38

A book here, a book there. Closing in on 50 books so far for the year.

Anyway, first I finished Osprey Men-At-Arms #5: The Austro-Hungarian Army of the Napoleonic Wars; as it is pretty old for this series, the plates aren't up to the more modern standards though the text is fairly good. It gives an overview of this nation's forces during the difficult times of being on the same continent with Napoleon, the aggressive military genius. Austria generally came out second best in most of those contests.

The second "book" was a download of a short story by John Scalzi called After the Coup. It's set in the Old Man's War Universe and deals with a diplomatic mission to a race very alien to humans. Amusing.
adversity, positive mind, best-sellers, books, self-help

Become The Mental Boxer

Boxers have and still follow 12 carefully guarded strategies and philosophies that build success and championship wins but boxing and prizefighting is more mental than physical and like strengthening your body before a fight; you must mentally prepare as well. Many boxers spend weeks and sometimes months in seclusion leading up to a fight and if you are not a fan of the combat sports; you should still know that LIFE is your FIGHT!!! To win in life, you must transform your mind including the way you feel; the way you feel about yourself; you’re perception of life and your overall outlook. This is mental re-conditioning and if you are down and out, depressed, or despondent, you cannot win in life.
Take time out for yourself-spend time away if you have to and begin to know yourself-find out who you really are. Before you can do anything in life, you must define your strengths, weaknesses, and attributes. Learn to live with yourself first before you can live with others. The key to success begins with Round 1 of The Mental Boxer- before you begin mastering skills in whatever you doing; before you begin mastering techniques or even peak performance levels with your body; you must first have strong mind and there are many components to building a strong mind. Mental readiness involves mastering the art of Sacrifice, Detachment, and a desire to change-to transform your mind into a powerful & winning weapon. This is Round 1 of 12 Rounds to Life:Become The Mental Boxer available in paperback & ebook versions on Amazon. Visit us at thementalboxer.com. Check out our promo video-the mental boxer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdPiwV5iGAY and listen to the mental boxer podcast with host Jill Tinsford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIECr2rbl3g
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Midnight Beast

Book #16: The X-Files: The Truth is Out There, Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Number of pages: 350

Compliation of short stories, based on the TV show, The X-Files, with a mixture of serious dramas and more humourous stories; I noticed also that the stories took place in different parts of the timeline, with some set in modern times, others set in the early 1990s, parallel with the older seasons of the show.

The stories are as follows:

Dead Ringer, by Kelly Armstrong: Seems at first like a simple alien abduction story, but soon becomes something more sinister; really creepy stuff.

Drive Time, by Jon McGoran: A hard-core sci-fi story involving time travel that felt mainly tongue in cheek, and where I tried not to look to hard into the logic behind the story's denouement. It felt a bit like the plot from an episode of Rick and Morty or Futurama, but it was fun anyway.

Black Hole Son, by Kami Garcia: Effectively, a story about how Mulder's sister was abducted, from Mulder's point of view; I found this one to be quite compelling, and moving.

We Should Listen to Some Shostakovich, by Hank Phillipi Ryan: Set in 2017, this one felt like a typical shipper fanfic that could be found on several internet sites. At the start, Mulder and Scully are said to be married, and the story was not overtly paranormal, but there was a lot of numerology stuff that I was fascinated by. This was a decent enough story, but it's something that's unlikely to happen on the show soon, if it gets renewed for an eleventh season and beyond, and the show's tenth season has somewhat rendered it non-canon by the appearance of a recurring character that got killed off.

Mummiya, by Greg Cox: A story involving mummification, which took some unexpected twists.

Phase Shift, by Bev Vincent: A family are trapped in a house that has been somehow temporally displaced using some sort of forcefield. The science was bizarre, and the ending contained some unexpected (and pitch-black) humour.

Heart, by Kendare Blake: This one opens with a man getting a heart transplant, and then starting to behave strangely - it didn't seem that original, and I wasn't surprised at where it ended up going, but the different storytellng style, told from the point of view of a character other than Mulder and Scully, was refreshing.

Male Privelage, by Hank Schwaeble: Another one that felt like it was straight off the internet, this one felt unusually wacky as it veered into hardcore fantasy territory, involving curses and dragons. This was the only one I was nonplussed by, as the introduction of some sort of ancient ritual involving local boys and a dragon just felt too silly, and it didn't feel like an X-Files plot at all, but something off another show, like Doctor Who.

Pilot, by David Liss: A quirky, and mostly humourous story that reminded me of one of the stranger fanfictions I wrote when I was younger. This eventually involves Mulder and Scully discovering that in a parallel universe they are fictional characters on a TV show. It was a little strange, but I enjoyed the whole concept of Mulder and Scully watching episodes of their life being played out and warned not to "watch ahead". I wondered what I would do if that ever happened to me.

Rosetta, by David Sakmyster: A claustrophic story involving an isolated location, and lots of apparent mind games. It was a bit hard to explain what this one was really about, particularly with all the technical language, but the atmosphere was satisfyingly creepy. It seemed to be based on the same canon as Joe Harris' comic strips, as it featured characters that so far, only these have resurrected after their deaths in the show's ninth season.

Snowman, by Sarah Stegall: A story that possibly some of the fanboys and fangirls will not like, as it pairs Mulder with John Doggett from the show's eighth and ninth seasons while they search for the sasquatch. It had a similar feel to HP Lovecraft's "Into the Mountains of Madness", but had a couple of neat twists towards the end.

Voice of Experience, by Rachel Caine: An old flame of Mulder's apparently commits suicide; it doesn't feel supernatural at first, but leads to an X-Files case nothing like any on the show. I was interested that it featured Mulder and Scully meeting Assistant Director Skinner, although it was dated prior to his first appearance on the show.

XXX, by Glenn Greenberg: An oddly flippant take on "Scanners" that opens with a porn actor's head exploding, to which his co-stars remark, "Not again". It was slightly predictable, but did provide some good red herrings involving alien viruses.

Foundling, by Tim Waggoner: Opens with a harrowing scene involving a mother shooting her baby, the story then involves Mulder and Scully finding a baby abandoned in a mysterious, seemingly deserted, town, and having to look after it. My guess was that the writer wanted to imagine Mulder and Scully as parents.

When the Cows Come Home, by David Farland: Short story involving a rancher being attacked by cattle and crop circles. It seemed to take place during the time when Mulder was on an alien spaceship himself, but involves him and Scully anyway. A decent final story, and went in a direction I did not expect.

Overall then, with one exception, a good selection of stories that I'd recommend trying to any fan of The X-Files.

Next book: One Forever (Rory Shiner)
book collector

Book 32

Chasing Sunrise (The Darkmore Saga, #1)Chasing Sunrise by Lex Chase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy in return for an honest review (which in no way influenced my review). Let me get this out of the way first: this is a dark story. If darkness isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll probably want to find a different story. However, if you’re like me and like your stories as dark as straight coffee then you’re in for a treat. The Darkmore series is well named. This story contains a very abusive and long-term relationship (I’d say that one of the main subplots is the protagonist escaping the mental cage he has lived his life inside) and it definitely has scenes of torture, not to mention humans are kept as ‘livestock’ and are eaten.

So yes, definitely not everyone’s cuppa, but the story is also very good and compelling. We’re dropped into Sevon and Jack’s lives when they are just children. Prince Sevon is only three (and Jack slightly older) when a hurricane levels his kingdom and changes his life forever. Jack ends up back in his home realm, with the shifters, locked out Sevon’s world (Think of it this way, the Aisa, Sevon’s vampire-like race, the shifters and the humans live in intersecting but separate realms). Sevon falls under Dominic’s control then and there.

The story fast forwards two decades and Sevon is king, a puppet king and people call him that to his pretty face. Everyone knows Dominic is the ruler and he does so with an iron hand. Dominic is a well-drawn villain you’ll love to hate. The best thing that can be said about him is that he does hold true to his convictions: the shifters are monsters deserving of death and humans are only fit to be eaten. Dominic has spent literally all of Sevon’s life controlling him mostly with sex and beatings until Sevon believes that he deserves the terrible things that happen to him.

Sevon is aware things aren’t well in his kingdom. He knows Dominic’s iron fist and the casual killing is wrong. He knows almost nothing has been repaired since the hurricane twenty years ago and Dominic has him convinced that invading the monstrous shifter lands is the key. To that end, they’ve made scouting incursions and this is how Jack comes back into Sevon’s life.

It’s hard to review certain stories without giving away too much plot and I definitely don’t want to do that. Let’s just say Jack knows who Sevon is (but not vice versa) though is a bit surprised by both the state of the kingdom and the fact that Sevon finds release for some of his anxiety in dressing as a woman (he’s not transgendered but he does like wearing dresses). Dominic knows exactly who Jack is and makes sure that Sevon has to be involved in torturing him for ‘information.’ Things do not go well with Jack or the newly returned Armigers, the female protectors of the king lead by Bianca (so yay for a group of strong women!) especially when they keep bringing up Sevon’s father, not realizing that Dominic has led Sevon to believe Louis betrayed the kingdom and ran off when there is a far darker fate for the former king.

Jack quickly becomes Sevon’s lifeline, especially where Sevon’s verkolai abilities are concerned (they’re special powers even among the Aisa) because Dominic is pushing Sevon too hard and might burn him out. Sevon is slow to trust however because of how Dominic has his head twisted around.

I’ll admit it, sometimes Sevon makes you want to slap some sense into him but I suppose getting slapped around is part of his problem. You have to sit back and remember that this is what abuse looks like. Sevon has been highly isolated, told his entire life Dominic and only Dominic loves him and has his best interests in mind. The beatings and time in the dungeon, the rough humiliating sex, all of it was to ‘train’ Sevon to be the best king he can be.

Sevon needs someone as patient, kind and understanding as Jack to save him and at its base that’s really what this novel is about. Can Sevon be saved? Is it too late for him to be a good king? Can he trust someone who might actually love him?

I really enjoyed the story and I’m looking forward to see what comes next. Sevon and his world are interesting and Jack is just wonderful (and I have to love Bianca and her women warriors, too).