Chester Bennington ~ One Year Later

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One year ago today, loving husband, father, friend, and incredibly gifted singer and songwriter Chester Bennington, committed suicide two months after his friend, Soungarden singer Chris Cornell took his own life. His Linkin Park bandmates Mike Shinoda, Joe Hahn, Dave Farrell, Rob Bourdon, and Brad Delson shared this touching tribute earlier today on Instagram:

To our brother Chester. It has been a year since your passing—a surreal rotation of grief, heartbreak, refusal, and recognition. And yet it [still] feels like you are close by, surrounding us with your memory and your light. Your one-of-a-kind spirit has authored an indelible imprint on our hearts—our jokes, our joy, and our tenderness.

Eternally grateful for the love, life, and creative passion you shared with us and the world. We miss you more than words can express.

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And bassist Dave Farrell wrote this open letter:

In the past year, there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of you. I miss you, and it still hurts to not have you here.

I chose not to speak at your memorial because I couldn’t formulate the words to adequately express how I felt…I chose not to speak at the Celebration of Life Concert honoring you because I knew I’d struggle to try and eloquently express what you mean to your family, your friends, your fans…and to me.

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I was trying to decide which Linkin Park song to share today, when I found an acapella version of their song Numb, from their 2003 album Meteora. It’s powerful and haunting, and showcases Chester’s amazing vocals which you can hear at the 23 second mark.

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If you visit Linkin Park’s Instagram page at: https://www.instagram.com/linkinpark/ You can see a list of all the global events taking place today as well as pictures of Chester and the band. 

R.I.P. Chester.

If you or someone you know are struggling, please, please reach out for help. You don’t have to be alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (available 24 hours a day)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Lifeline Chat

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/

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Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2), by Scott Reintgen ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

400 Pages

Synopsis: Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marjorie Lu called, “a high octane thriller.”

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population. 

But Emmett and the others quickly realize that they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?

Nyxia Unleashed picks right up after Nyxia’s cliffhanger ending. In the previous book, sixteen-year-old Emmett Atwater, an African American from Detroit, spent the last year with nineteen other disadvantaged teens from all over the world on Genesis, the Babel Communications spaceship. Promised wealth beyond their imagination in exchange for traveling to Eden to mine nyxia, the teens are promised that after a year or so they can return home. But they quickly discovered that Babel care only for their own wealth and power. While they embark on the year long journey to Eden on the spaceship Genesis, the teens are forced into a deadly competition for a coveted spot on the final team that would land on Eden. While the sequel shifts away from the life and death competition that was prevalent in the first book, for me it was even more exciting, as the Genesis teen survivors are now caught between the sinister plans of Babel and those of this new Adamite, or as they call themselves, Imago population.

The teens, caught between the dueling interests of Babel Communications and the Imago, also have to learn to trust one another if they’re to survive on this alien planet. I loved Emmett, the main character and narrator in Nyxia and my feelings remain the same here. While he justifiably harbors hatred and vengeful thoughts toward Babel, he also strives to remain the good person his family raised him to be. Although I wasn’t thrilled with the insta-love between Emmett and Morning, they truly are a perfect match. She’s so powerful yet is kind and compassionate. I don’t usually ship couples, but I’m making an exception in this case. The secondary characters are diverse in terms of race, religion and sexuality. In Nyxia I thought the diversity faded into the background at times, but here it’s front and center. While this is a work of fiction, seeing these young people from different backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities gave me hope. They’re well-rounded and add quite a bit to the storyline. 

The planet Eden/Magnia and its inhabitants have some creative qualities to them, but I wish they were a little more alien. The Imago are very similar to humans as are their society and culture. Additionally, they’re also able to communicate with each other thanks to nyxia, and even breathe the same air and eat the same food. This is a very minor complaint though.

Underlying the fictional story are the realistic issues of colonization and oppression. It also explores social classes with some fortunate to be born into the right families and with what is seen as physical perfection, and others who are seen as unequal.

Nyxia Unleashed is even more fast-paced as its predecessor and ends with an exciting cliffhanger, which has me anxiously anticipating the final book, Nyxia Uprising, which sadly doesn’t come out until April 19, 2019. In my opinion these books are for ages 16 and up due to its complex and dark themes. In addition to the previously mentioned ones, there’s also: PTSD, torture, genocide, animal death, loss of friends and loved ones. There’s also plenty of blood and gore. But balancing the darkness are themes of support, trust, loyalty, and love. Fans of Nyxia will not be disappointed by this phenomenal sequel, and if you haven’t read these books but you’re a fan of science fiction with wonderfully written, diverse characters and nonstop action, then I HIGHLY recommend you give these a try!

 

Mr. Trump ~ The Revisionist-in-Chief.

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I know. I know. You’re probably thinking “Not another Trump post!” I apologize, but if I don’t get this out, I think I might literally explode! 

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In a recorded statement given to reporters a short while ago, Mr. Trump reluctantly said he believes the conclusion reached by the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Here’s a short piece of it.

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First, did you notice how the lights went out while he was spouting this nonsensical garbage? Yeah. That was a message from the powers-that-be! Second, he sullenly says he believes the conclusions reached by intelligence agencies, but then makes sure to add that it “…could be other people out there.” Oh, and his greatest hit, “There was no collusion.” And finally, he “misspoke “ yesterday? Seriously?

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If the Republicans have any true loyalty to this country and not just to the “stable genius”, who’s in charge, they will join with the Democrats in demanding to know what exactly was said in that closed door meeting. And now I need to go take something for my head.

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Kill the Farm Boy (The Tales of Pell #1), by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne ~ 2.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now

384 Pages

Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born…and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there isa faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First, there’s the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy’s untimely death…and also very fine cheese. Then there’s a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar “happily ever after” that ever once-upon-a-timed.

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Kill the Farm Boy has been one of my most anticipated novels of 2018. How could it not be with that gorgeous cover and fun premise? Plus, one of the co-authors, Kevin Hearne, is on my top five list of favorite fantasy writers list. I was expecting a fairy tale parody with some Terry Pratchett, Monty Python and Princess Bride thrown in. Instead, much to my dismay, I got raunchy, juvenile humor and double entendres that might appeal to a teenage boy, but for me grew stale very quickly. Despite it being a fairy tale set in the past the story is filled with anachronisms which add to the awkwardness. 

The characters are interesting riffs on familiar ones:  the Chosen One, the Dark Lord, a seven foot tall Amazon-esque female warrior who’s an aspiring horticulturist, an untalented bard who’s been cursed to be a half-rabbit, and a clumsy rogue assassin with a fear of chickens. While they’re diverse and somewhat appealing, they aren’t enough to overcome the non-stop cringeworthy humor. 

There are many 4-5 star reviews on Goodreads, but unfortunately Kill the Farm Boy wasn’t my cup of tea. There are just too many poop and penis jokes and not enough substance. It took me over a week to get through it because I kept putting it down, reading other books, before reluctantly picking it up again. In my opinion not even Miracle Max could breathe life into this.

 

 

#TreasonSummit

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If you were watching the press conference with Trump and Putin earlier and thought your hearing went, yes Trump just threw our intelligence community and our country under the bus. Here’s what he said after being asked if he believes our U.S. intelligence or Putin.

Let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months. And I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have, uh, I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails? So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today, and what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer. OK? Thank you.

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Kind of gives you a sinking (nauseous) feeling in the pit of your stomach as you wonder what Trump and Putin discussed in 2 hour closed door meeting. You know it’s bad when journalists from Fox News slam his performance. Brit Hume tweeted:

Trump, when finally asked whom he believes on Russia interference, gives a vague and rambling non-answer, with renewed complaints about Hillary’s server. Says he trusts US intel but made clear he takes Putin’s denials seriously. Lame response to say the least.

And Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto had this to say in response to his guest saying that now was the time to warn Putin against interfering in another US election.

But he didn’t. And that’s what made it disgusting, that’s what made his performance disgusting. I’m sorry, it’s the only way I feel. It’s not a right or left thing to me, it’s just wrong.

Fellow Fox News Business anchor, Trish Regan tweeted:

Horrible performance from our President today. Pretty ugly when u give a pass to a nation that is undermining our democracy.

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And finally, here’s a statement from Republican Senator John McCain just released on Twitter.

Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naïveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout—as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violations of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct toward our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.

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Well, I know I’ve used this gif before but right now it’s the only thing making me feel better.

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The Future Will Be BS Free, by Will McIntosh ~ 3.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s  for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Release Date: July 24th, 2018

352 Pages

Synopsis: In this terrifyingly timely tale for fans of The Eye of Minds, a teen and his group of friends find themselves on the run after using a genius lie-detector contraption to expose their corrupt government.

In a Putin-esque near-future America, the gifted and talented high school has just been eliminated, and Sam and his friends have been using their unexpected free time to work on a tiny, undetectable, utterly reliable lie detector. They’re all in it for the money—except Theo, their visionary. For Theo, it’s about crafting a better world. A BS-free world, where no one can lie, and the honest will thrive.

Just when they finish the prototype and turn down an offer to sell their brainchild to a huge corporation, Theo is found dead. Greedy companies, corrupt privatized police, and even the president herself will stop at nothing to steal the Truth App. Sam sets his sights on exposing all the lies and holding everyone accountable. 

But he and his friends quickly realize the costs of a  S-free world: the lives of loved ones, and political and economic stability. They now face a difficult question: Is the world capable of operating without lies, or are lies what hold it together?

I enjoyed Will McIntosh’s Burning Midnight, so I knew I had to request  The Future Will Be BS Free as soon as I spied it on NetGalley, especially after reading that intriguing premise. While I didn’t like it as much as the previous book, there is much to recommend about it.

First, before contemplating reading this, please bear in mind that Sam, the main character, is a sexually frustrated seventeen-year-old. He comes from a poor background, his mother is disabled, and the girl he’s in love with, (who happens to also be his best friend), doesn’t return his feelings. He does some horrible things, but given his background his actions are somewhat understandable. Throughout the book he demonstrably grows and matures and by the end of the book I actually liked him.

The story itself is credible, as are the diverse characters, both teens and adults. And, I was kept on my toes regarding how it was going to end which is always a good thing. 

Overall, The Future Will Be BS Free, is a fast-paced, and thought-provoking YA novel that successfully combines dystopian fiction with a coming-of-age story. It also scarily echoes much of what is happening in our world today. While there are some cringeworthy moments in the romantic subplot that I didn’t think was necessary, I think this would be a great choice for high school book discussion groups.

 

 

Baby Teeth, by Zoje Stage ~ 4.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: July 17th, 2018

320 Pages

Synopsis: Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of, ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

 Let me say from the onset that Baby Teeth will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s dark and disturbing, and when I finished it last night I found myself unable to sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. 

The 3rd person narrative alternates between Hanna and her mother. Hanna is a seven-year-old precocious child, who presents two completely different sides to her parents, Suzette and Alex. With her father, she’s a sweet little angel, but with her mother, she increasingly demonstrates how much she resents and hates her. While seeing Hanna’s perspective adds to the intensity of the story, there are some inconsistencies with her thinking and actions. As each of her chapters begins, she sounds and acts like the seven-year-old she is, albeit a disturbingly creepy one. But then her mental thoughts turn into sophisticated ones that come across as way too adult, even for an exceptionally bright child. This aside, the author crafts her into at times a sympathetic figure, but more often than not, a menacing one who scared the heck out of me.

While Suzette isn’t perfect by any means, I felt a lot of empathy for her. She suffers from a particularly nasty case of Crohn’s disease, and this coupled with her surviving a childhood filled with neglect, had me forming an instant connection with her, even when I didn’t agree with her responses to Hanna. She loves her daughter yet is increasingly afraid of her. When you add in anger and resentment, you have a mother who’s not only at war with her daughter, but also herself.

I didn’t care for Alex in the beginning as he’s written as your stereotypical father who’s clueless and in denial about his daughter, but about halfway in, he starts to realize that Suzanne may be right about Hanna. Watching him come to grips with the truth, trying to protect his wife while still loving his daughter, adds another layer to this twisted yet  captivating tale.

The ending wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was one of several that I had envisioned and I found it believable. Overall, I enjoyed(?) Baby Teeth and I’m impressed with Zoje Stage’s debut. It’s an unflinching look at at childhood mental illness and a couple’s difficulty of finding help and coping with it. It’s a riveting domestic thriller with horror added in which should appeal to fans of books such as Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Mr. Trump ~ “I think they like me a lot in the UK.”

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While Mr. Trump was busy insulting the Prime Minister and then lying about it, rudely stepping in front of the Queen as they inspected the Coldstream Guards, and preparing to “ask” Vladimir Putin on Monday if he interfered in the 2016 election even after being briefed by the Justice Department earlier this week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be indicting 12 Russian Intelligence officers. Here’s some scenes of erm, celebrations of his visit.

While there’s not a firm number yet assigned to how many protesters turned out to express how they feel about Mr. Trump, with 70 different protests, it was obviously in the hundreds of thousands. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be bragging about these crowd sizes.

Night Fall (Secret Histories #12), by Simon R. Green ~ 5 ++++++++++ Stars!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Ace for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: Available Now 

464 Pages

Synopsis: From the New York bestselling author of Moonbreaker comes the epic final Secret Histories adventure, where the Droods will take on the most unexpected of enemies: the inhabitants of the Nightside.

The Droods are all about control, making people do what they’re told for the greater good. The Nightside is all about choice: good and bad and everything in between. The Droods want to make the world behave. The Nightside wants to party. They were never going to get along. 

For centuries, ancient Pacts have kept the Droods out of the Nightside, but now the Droods see the Nightside as a threat to the whole world. They march into the long night, in their armour, to put it under their control. All too soon, the two sides are at war. It’s Eddie Drood and Molly Metcalf against John Taylor and Shotgun Suzie. The Drood Sarjeant-at-Arms and their Armourer against Dead Boy and Razor Eddie. More groups join in: the London Knights, the Ghost Finders, the Spawn of Frankenstein, Shadows Fall, and the Soulhunters. Science and magic are running wild, there’s blood running in the gutters, and the bodies are piling up.

Is anyone going to get out of this alive?

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I have such mixed feelings about Night Fall. On the one hand (as you can probably tell by my rating), I absolutely LOVED it! On the other hand, this concludes not only the Secret Histories series, but also Simon Green’s Nightside and Ghost Finders series. So if you’re a fan of the author as I am, this is like the literary equivalent of Armageddon!

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*Sniff.* Okay. I shall endeavor to pull myself together. As with the other Secret Histories books I’ve reviewed I need to warn interested parties that you need to read these books in order. If you don’t you’ll wind up helplessly confused. Eddie Drood is like a science fiction/fantasy/comic book version of James Bond. His alias is actually “Shaman Bond” and the previous titles are all clever plays on Ian Fleming’s books, ie:  The Man With the Golden Torc; Daemons Are Forever; The Spy Who Haunted Me… Well, you get the idea. While Eddie physically appears so ordinary as to melt into a crowd, you do not want to get on his bad side, especially when he’s accompanied by his former archenemy, now lover, the wild witch Molly Metcalf. Together they make a most formidable team which is a good thing as in this epic finale they face off against their Nightside counterparts, John Taylor (former private investigator, now the “Overseer” of the Nightside known as Walker) and his frightening wife, Shotgun Suzie (also known as Suzie Shooter and “Oh Christ, it’s her! Run!”) 

Without revealing any spoilers, let me just say that this is a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. Well known characters from all three series make welcome appearances and enjoyable new ones are introduced as well. The battles between the Droods and the citizens of the Nightside are bloody and epic, and leave many fan favorites dead. Underlying the story is the theme of how war can so quickly spiral out of control and leave a multitude of casualties of good people on both sides in its wake. By the end of the book loose ends from all three series are neatly tied up, which will leave fans shell-shocked but satisfied.

While I’m upset that two of my favorite series have come to an end, Night Fall is a spectacular finale. In my humble opinion, Simon Green is one of the most brilliant science fiction/fantasy authors out there, and if you’re a fan of these genres but haven’t tried any of his books you’re missing out. I don’t know what’s next for this gifted writer, but I do know I’ll be one of the first in line waiting for it. For now, please excuse me while I grieve.

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