Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Anxiety of Plus Size Clothes Shopping

I have to say that I'm a little perturbed with some of my shopping experiences lately. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a plus size gal and have been for most of my adult life. Why do sizes range so drastically when it comes to plus size clothing? My favorite place to get clothing is Torrid but when it came time to shop for active wear, I wasn't going there. SORRY! Love you guys, but I'm not paying that much for active wear. 


Anywhoo...I got an email from Old Navy that their active wear was 40% off. I was kind of excited so I shopped for the items online. With the warmer weather coming I wanted clothes that didn't make me feel like I was baking in a sauna. I immediately went to their sizing chart to make sure I was buying the correct sizes. This is where I got frustrated. I live for their tank tops and always get a size large in regular sizes, not the plus. They fit perfectly so when it came time to order the active tanks, I didn't know what size to get. I went with the 1xl because the measurements were close to mine. According to their size charts, the 1xl is supposed to fit a chest of 45½-47. I fall in between at 46 and my waist is 38. I have a large chest and shirts are always off on me. They came in the mail and lets just say bending over would be challenging. People would get a free show for crying out loud! It was unbelievably large and too short. If I were to lift my arms my stomach would show. Those went back into the bag to return. 

Now onto the shorts. I bought 3 pair, two of which were the same style but different patterns. Again, with my measurements I should have ordered a 1x, but instead ordered the 2x that is sized for the hips at 50½-5. My hips are 48 inches. One pair fit perfectly, the other two not so much. They were so tight on the hips and stomach and had stitching straight across the middle (see picture below) Mind you this stitching wasn't stretchy so it caused this weird double stomach look YUCK! But I find it weird that the one pair that did fit had the same thing and it didn't do it.

Threw those in the return bag too. The only reason I didn't return them by mail is because I need them by next week. I called the local store and asked if I can exchange them there and they told me yes and they would honor the price that I paid for them. I get to the local store and they have NO PLUS SIZE clothing at all! I don't know about you, but I like to try on my clothes before buying and this means I can't. I figured I would try on the regular xxl, not the plus size. Guess what, they fit. Seriously?! So I go to the register and they would not honor the price! They just said "oh we can't honor it because the ones you returned are plus size and these are regular size." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! They have the same barcode on them and they are the same exact pair of shorts! That's just terrible customer service. Hence why I called that morning to see if I can exchange them.

I left Old Navy feeling defeated so I figured I would stop at Target in the same plaza. Target has NO PLUS SIZE clothing either. Their xxl barely fit over my butt! This got me thinking....I can't get plus size clothing at any department or chain store around here. Absolutely none. I'm always stuck shopping online and having to pay for return shipping if it doesn't fit. I'm not huge by any means. My dress size ranges from 14-18, sometimes even a 20 depending on the store. Don't even get me started on dress shopping. 

My point is, why can I not find active wear anywhere but online? Plus size women work out too! It's stressful enough trying to find the time to be more active without the added stress of finding clothing to do it. You can't tell me that there isn't a market for plus size clothing because I see hundreds of people a day and most wouldn't fit in the clothing that I see at stores. Needless to say, I spent two hours having a damn near anxiety attack. I finally had luck at Kohls, but not much. They have a huge section for regular sized active wear and only one measly rack for plus size active wear. Mind you the only sizes they had were 1x, 2x, and 3x. Guess if you're larger than a size 20 you're SOL. They seem to have issues with women who have large feet too LOL. Since 6th grade I wore a size 10. It wasn't until pregnancy that my feet grew a whole inch to a size 11. How is that even possible?! I was looking for a pair of walking/hiking sandals...you know, those Moses looking ones LOL. No such luck. I even ordered a pair online and they were so uncomfortable. 

Another issue I have is with the prices of plus size clothing, especially places like Old Navy. It's not like you're using a crazy amount of fabric/materials for the clothes that are only a few inches larger than regular sizing. Oh you're plus size? Let me tack on $20 more dollars for the same item! You should be ashamed of yourselves! Oh, all of you're clothes are on sale for 50% off? Not for plus sizes. We're lucky to even get 25% off. Talk about deceptive practices. 

Okay, my rant is over for now. Just had to get that off my chest.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Bound by Spells (Bound #2) by Stormy Smith

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*** 5/5 Stars ***


Rolling right into the action from book one, Ms. Smith continues with a great fantasy series! Amelia is captive with the enemies and playing a game of love with their price while Aiden gets in touch with the beast inside and outside. Amelia's BFF pops up causing more cheerful destruction. Amelia soon learns her family's secrets and gets a close touch with a personal journal from her mother's past that reveals more than she can ever know! Facing down the traitor and evil queen, Amelia must come face to face with her gifted (cursed) powers and get them under control before she destroys those she hates and loves. Aiden comes into his own destiny and is on his own path to free Amelia, along with the Animages. Discovering the awful fates of those the queen has deemed not worthy of human treatment, it leads to an ultimate showdown or powers and discovering love.

Very action oriented and character driven, I was drawn into the story. Found it hard to swipe my finger quick enough across the Kindle to turn a page the last 20%. Romance, lots of nail-biting adventure, and self discovery kept the story fluid. Of course, it ends on a cliff hanger.. Gah!

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StormyStormy Smith calls Iowa's capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her. She knew quickly that stories of fantasy were her favorite, and even as an adult gravitates toward paranormal stories in any form.


Writing a book had never been an aspiration, but suddenly the story was there and couldn't be stopped. When she isn't working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy's favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband or girlfriends.


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Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: Children of the Mark by Michael W. Garza

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


25182001Title: Children of the Mark
Published:  March 5, 2015
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 196
Format: eBook
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AJ Scott is a typical teenager. The only thing he wants to do is survive high school. Clair Anderson and Dougie Edwards have been his friends since the third grade. The teens stumble across a bizarre ritual and their night of adventure quickly turns to panic as they witness the culmination of the Cult of the Elder’s attempt to pull a monstrous deity from the netherworld into our world. A hasty escape leaves the teens terrified and AJ marred from the event. His newfound malady proves to be much more than a simple mark and the trio are pulled into a world of deceit, monsters, and old fashioned horror.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: Romeow and Juliet (Whales and Tails Mystery #1) by Kathi Daley

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Huzzah! A new cozy mystery series by Kathi Daley to delve into! More kitties... more bodies... more mysteries! Caitlin is a twenty something that lives off a quaint and tourist island of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. She runs a kitty sanctuary and lives on her own, sharing land with a feisty aunt who has fallen ill recently while running for a local political spot. Caitlin ends up juggling a new tomcat who is serenading a local grumpy neighbor's show cat, a dead body, and an old lover.

Caitlin is a very sweet, caring, and humorous gal. Loved this story and how the town and its residents are quickly and lovingly built into this new series. Adored the side stories with her elderly neighbors and the not so silent town feuds. The great who-dun-it question and sudden, possible love triangle Caitlin finds herself just added to the charm of the story.

Delve into this new series with gusto! A much meowy romance.

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619u+tTgj+L._UX250_Author of the Zoe Donovan cozy Mystery Series, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series, Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery Series, and Cutter's Cove Teen Cozy Mystery Series.

Come for the murder, stay for the romance.

Kathi lives in the beautiful alpine community of Lake Tahoe with her husband Ken and dog Echo. When she's not writing she enjoys hanging out on the beach with her children and grandchildren. During the summer she enjoys hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and sunset cruises on the lake. During the winter she enjoys cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and curling up by a fire with a good book.

Kathi uses her mountain home as inspiration for her books, all which include appearances by the wildlife she shares her life with.

Visit Kathi Daley:

Facebook at Kathi Daley Books, www.facebook.com/kathidaleybooks

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Webpage - www.kathidaley.com

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For weekly updates and contests sign up for her newsletter The Daley Weekly at (http://eepurl.com/NRPDf)or by accessing the link on her Facebook page or website.

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Leave a comment below with your contact email for a chance to win an ebook copy of Romeow and Juliet (Whales and Tails Mystery #1) by Kathi Daley. Ends 4/30/2015.

Book Review & Giveaway: Alaskan Alliance (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 12) by Kathi Daley

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As with all the Zoe mystery books, I enjoyed this easy read. Zoe is delivering a search and rescue dog to an Alaskan town with her fiance Zak. Meeting members of the rescue team, they find new friends at the quaint and quirky local tavern. Each member has their own story, some their own mystery. Zoe and Zak end up boarding in the local bed and breakfast. Per Zoe's lot in life, she finds a dead body. More pop up, or are dug up, literally. Who exactly was Mr. Dead Guy and what the heck was he doing in that same town? Suddenly in a rush to find a lost child, figure out a past romance, and in a fight for her life, Zoe is in for a rather chilly visit to Alaska.

Kathi's book are always fun and easy to delve into. The characters are nice to be reacquainted with each month. I typically devour the new Zoe novels, but this one was a bit harder for me to get into. Wonderful story, but it was a bit slow in some parts. But the action eventually catches up with the plot and off it went!

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619u+tTgj+L._UX250_Author of the Zoe Donovan cozy Mystery Series, Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series, Whales and Tails Cozy Mystery Series, and Cutter's Cove Teen Cozy Mystery Series.

Come for the murder, stay for the romance.

Kathi lives in the beautiful alpine community of Lake Tahoe with her husband Ken and dog Echo. When she's not writing she enjoys hanging out on the beach with her children and grandchildren. During the summer she enjoys hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and sunset cruises on the lake. During the winter she enjoys cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and curling up by a fire with a good book.

Kathi uses her mountain home as inspiration for her books, all which include appearances by the wildlife she shares her life with.

Visit Kathi Daley:

Facebook at Kathi Daley Books, www.facebook.com/kathidaleybooks

Kathi Daley Teen - www.facebook.com/kathidaleyteen

Kathi Daley Books Group Page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/569578823146850/

Kathi Daley Books Birthday Club- get a book on your birthday - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1040638412628912/

Kathi Daley Recipe Exchange - https://www.facebook.com/groups/752806778126428/

Webpage - www.kathidaley.com

E-mail - [email protected]

Recipe Submission E-mail - [email protected]

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7278377.Kathi_Daley

Twitter at Kathi [email protected] - https://twitter.com/kathidaley

Tumblr - http://kathidaleybooks.tumblr.com/

Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com/kathidaley/

For weekly updates and contests sign up for her newsletter The Daley Weekly at (http://eepurl.com/NRPDf)or by accessing the link on her Facebook page or website.

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Leave a comment below with where you'd love to travel and your contact information for a chance to win an ebook copy of Alaskan Alliance (Zoe Donovan Mystery Book 12) by Kathi Daley. Ends April 30, 2015.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Audiobook Review & Spotlight: Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

 

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Title: Chasing the Star Garden
Author: Melanie Karsak
Series: The Airship Racing Chronicles (1)
Genre: Steampunk
Publisher: Clockpunk Press
Release Date: Audio Book Sept 2014
Edition/Format Available In: Audio/eBook/Print
Blurb/Synopsis:
An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.
Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.
It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.
Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

**Due to steamy scenes and depictions of drug use, this novel is intended for mature readers.**

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*** 5/5 Stars ***


This book was amazingly tough and uncompromising in in its realistic details. This dark steampunk fantasy a slew of interesting characters, their backgrounds, and how it all twists together. Lily, the lead gal, is a swearing, drowning her sorrows in opium smoking, liberal, hard cut, and vulnerable. She has a few long lovers, one who pays for her to pursue a wild expedition to find out what a recently received missive means (handed in death, by the way). What follows is a dark, epic adventure in politics, balloon racing, goddess worshipers, and possibly love. Readers also get a look into the veiled and flawed past of Lily; how this builds her into her current character and where all her pluck arises from.


The characters were awesome! Love, love, love this book. Definitely some very dark elements, but the author does not leave that untouched and explains Lily's past with much realistic compassion. Loved the details and the book never lacked in action, adventure, and heart pounding emotions.


The audiobook version was nicely done in a well read voice and depiction of characters.


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excerpt

Chapter 1
I was going to lose-again. I gripped the brass handles on the wheel and turned the airship sharply port. The tiller vibrated in protest making the wheel shake and my wrist bones ache. Bracing my knees against the spokes, I tore off my brown leather gloves to get a better feel. The metal handgrips were smooth and cold. My fingers tingled from the chill.
“Easy,” I whispered to the Stargazer. I looked up from my position at the wheelstand, past the ropes, burner basket, and balloon, toward the clouds. They were drifting slowly left in a periwinkle blue sky. There’d be an updraft as we passed over the green-brown waters of the canal near Buckingham House. I locked the wheel and jumped from the wheelstand onto the deck of the gondola and looked over the rail. The canal waters were a hundred feet away. I ran back to the wheel and steadied the ship. If I caught the updraft, it would propel me up and forward and give me an edge.
“Cutter caught it, Lily,” Jessup yelled down from the burner basket below the balloon opening. “Up he goes,” he added, looking out through his spyglass. The gold polish on the spyglass reflected the fire from the burner.
“Dammit!” I snapped down my binocular lense. I saw Hank Cutter’s red-and-white striped balloon rise upward. At the top, he pitched forward with great momentum, catching a horizontal wind. I could just make out Cutter at the wheel. His blond hair blew wildly around him. He turned and waved to me. Wanker.
I was not as lucky. Just as the bow of the Stargazer reached the water, a stray wind came in and blew us leeward. The balloon jiggled violently in the turbulent air. I missed the air pocket altogether.
“No! No, no, no!” I cursed and steadied the ship. I had chased Cutter from Edinburgh across the Scottish and English countryside. He had been off his game all day. I’d had him by half a mile the entire race. With the bottom feeders lingering somewhere in the distance behind us, I’d thought the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix would be mine. That was until St. Albans, where Cutter caught a random breeze that pushed him slightly in front of me. Cutter had a knack for catching favorable winds; it was not a talent I shared.
“We’re coming up on Westminster,” Jessup yelled down from the basket. “Lily, drop altitude. Cutter is too high. Come in low and fast, and you might overtake him.”
The airship towers sat at the pier near the Palace of Westminster along the Thames. A carnival atmosphere had overtaken the city as it always does on race day. Colorful tents were set up everywhere. Vendors hawked their wares to excited Londoners and international visitors. I could hear the merchants barking from their tents even from this far above. I fancied I could smell roasted peanuts in the wind.
I jumped down from the wheelstand, ran across the deck, and pulled the valve cord, opening the flap at the top of the balloon. Hot air released with a hiss. I kept one eye on the balloon and another eye on Tinkers’ Tower. At this time of day, the heat coming off of the Palace of Westminster and Tinkers’ Tower would give us a bump. I looked up. Cutter had started preparing his descent. It would be close.
I ran back to the wheel.
“Angus, I need more speed,” I yelled down to the gear galley, rapping on the wooden hatch that led to the rods, belts, and propeller parts below.
Angus slapped open the hatch and stuck out his bald head. His face was covered in grease, and his blue-lense monocle glimmered in the sunlight. He looked up at the clouds and back at me.
“Let’s giddyup,” I called to him.
“You trying the Tower sling?” he yelled back.
“You got it.”
He laughed wildly. “That’s my lassie,” he yelled and dropped back down, pulling the wood hatch closed with a clap. I heard the gears grind, and the propeller, which had been turning nice and steady, began to hum loudly. The ship pitched forward. Within moments, we were coming up on Tinkers’ Tower. The airship towers were just a stone’s throw away.
I aimed the ship directly toward Tinkers’ Tower. Just as the bowsprit neared the clock, I yanked the wheel. The warm air caught us.
“Whoa!” Jessup yelled as the balloon moved within arm’s length of the tower.
The sound of “Ohhs!” echoed from the crowd below.
A mix of warm air and propulsion gave us some go, and seconds later we were slingshotting around Tinkers’ Tower toward the airship platforms. Gliding in on warm air and momentum, we flew fast and low.
Cutter had kept it high, but now he was dropping like a stone toward his own tower. Damned American. I didn’t blame him; I would have used the same move. His balloon was releasing so much air that I wondered if he would be able to slow down in time, not that I would have minded seeing him smash to the ground in a million pieces.
“It’s going to be close,” Jessup yelled as he adjusted the heat pan.
I guided the helm. The Stargazer was temperamental, but we understood one another. A shake of the wheel warned me I was pushing too hard. “Almost there,” I whispered to the ship.
The Grand Prix Marshalls were standing on the platform. Cutter and I had the end towers. I was going to make it.
“Cut propulsion,” I yelled toward the gear galley. On the floor near the wheelstand, a rope led to a bell in the galley. I rang it twice. The propeller switched off.
A soft, sweet wind blew in from the port side. It ruffled my hair around my shoulders. I closed my eyes and turned the wheel slightly starboard, guiding the ship in. Moments later, I heard a jubilant cheer erupt from the American side and an explosion from the firework cannon signaling the winner had been declared. My eyes popped open. I tore off my goggles and looked starboard. Cutter’s balloon was docked. I threw the goggles onto the deck and set my forehead against the wheel.
The Stargazer settled into her dock. Jessup set the balloon on hover and, grabbing a rope, swung down to the deck. He then threw the lead lines and anchors onto the platform. The beautifully dressed crowd, gentlemen in suits and top hats and fancy ladies in a rainbow of satin gowns carrying parasols, rushed toward the American end of the platform to congratulate the winner.
I was, once again, a national disgrace. Lily the loser. Lily second place. Perhaps I would never be anything more than a ferrywoman, a cheap air jockey.
“Good job, Lily. Second place!” Jessup said joining me. He patted me on the shoulder.
I sighed deeply and unbuttoned my vest. The tension had me sweating; I could feel it dripping down from my neck, between my breasts, into my corset.
“You did great,” I told Jessup. “Sorry I let you down.”
“Ah, Lily,” he sighed.
Angus emerged from below wiping sweat from his head with a greasy rag. He pulled off his monocle. He frowned toward the American side. “Well, we beat the French,” he said with a shrug and kissed me on the cheek, smearing grease on me.
“Good job, Angus. Thank you,” I said, taking him by the chin and giving him a little shake as I wrinkled my nose and smiled at him.
Angus laughed and dropped his arm around Jessup’s shoulders. They grinned happily at one another.
“You stink, brother,” Jessup told him.
“It’s a wee bit toasty down there. Besides, I pedaled this ship across the entire fucking country while you were up here looking at the birds. That, my friend, is the smell of success.”
I laughed.
“You pedaled the ship?” Jessup asked mockingly. “Like Lil and I were just up here playing cards? If I didn’t keep the balloon aloft, your ass would be kissing the ground.”
“Now wait a minute. Are you saying your job is more important that mine?” Angus retorted.
I could see where this was going. “Gents.”
“More important? Now why would I say that? Just because I’m the one . . .” Jessup started and then his mouth ran.
“Gents.”
“ . . . and another thing . . .” Jessup went on.
“Gentlemen! Our audience awaits,” I said cutting them both off, motioning to the well-shod crowd who waited for us on the loading platform outside the Stargazer.
I grinned at my crew. “Come on. Let’s go.”
I patted the rail of the Stargazer. “Thanks,” I whispered to her, and we exited onto the platform.
A reporter from the London Times and several race officials stood waiting for me.
“Well done, Lily! Well done!” the British race official congratulated me with a pat on the back. “Second place! King George will be so proud. One of these days you’ll have it, by God.”
I was pretty sure that the last thing I needed was the attention of George IV, the extravagant, unpopular lush. But I bit my tongue and smiled politely.
“Lily, how did Cutter beat you? You led the entire race,” the reporter asked. She was a round woman wearing a very thick black lace collar that looked like it was choking her. Her heavy purple walking dress looked hot under the late afternoon summer sun, and the brim of her black satin cap barely shaded her nose. I noticed, however, that she had a small clockwork fan pin attached to her chest. The fan wagged cool air toward her face.
I pulled off my cap, mopped my forehead, and thought about the question. “Luck,” I replied.
“Lily, that was some move around Tinkers’ Tower. How did you learn to do that?” another reporter asked.
“My father,” I lied.
“Make way, make way,” one of the race officials called, ushering a Marshall forward.
The Marshall looked like someone who lingered an hour too long at supper. The gold buttons on his satin, marigold colored vest would take an eye out if they popped. His overly tall top hat was adorned with a ring of flowers that matched his striking orange colored dress coat.
“Miss Stargazer, congratulations,” he said, shaking my hand. “The Spanish airship is coming in now. Will you please join Mr. Cutter at the winners’ podium?” he asked politely as he guided me forward by the hand.
From below there was a commotion. A man dressed in an unusual costume rushed up the stairs. The London constables, a full squadron of the Bow Street Runners, chased him. When he got to the loading platform, the man pushed through a crowd of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen, many of whom were gentry. It was then I could see he was dressed as a harlequin. He wore the traditional red and black checked outfit and a black mask. He scanned the towers until he caught sight of me. He jumped, landing on the tower railing, and ran toward me. A woman in the crowd screamed. Moments later the constables appeared on the platform. The race Marshalls pointed toward the harlequin who was making a beeline for me.
I let go of the Marshall’s hand and stepped back toward the ship.
“Lily,” Jessup warned, moving protectively toward me.
Angus reached over the deck of the Stargazer and grabbed a very large wrench.
Was it an assassin? Christ, would someone murder me for winning second place? I turned and ran toward the Stargazer. A moment later, the harlequin flipped from the rail, grabbed one of the Stargazer’s ropes, and swinging over the others, landed on the platform directly in front of me. Any second now, I would be dead.
He panted and muttered “Lily?” from behind the mask.
“Stop that man! Stop him!” a constable yelled.
“Get out of my way!” Angus roared at the crowd that had thronged in between us.
The masked man grabbed me, tugged on the front of my trousers, and leaned into my ear. The long nose of the mask tickled the side of my face. “Go to Venice,” he whispered as he stuffed something down the front of my pants.
“We got you now,” a constable said, grabbing him, raising his club.
The man shook him off, took two steps backward, and with a jump, leapt off the tower.
Several people in the crowd screamed.
I rushed to the side of the tower to see the harlequin lying at its base. His body was twisted, and his arms and legs bent oddly, contorted into three distinct points. Blood began pooling around him.
“Miss Stargazer, are you all right?” a constable asked.
“A man just killed himself in front of me. No, I am not all right.”
“I mean, are you harmed? Did he hurt you?”
I shook my head and looked down at the mangled body which lay in the shape of a three-sided triskelion. It was the same symbol that was painted on the balloon of the Stargazer.

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Melanie Karsak Author Pic by Orange Moon StudiosMelanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling steampunk series The Airship Racing Chronicles, the award-winning horror/dark fantasy The Harvesting Series, and The Saga of Lady Macbeth. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master's degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, Shakespeare nerd, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book Review, Interview & Giveaway: Die Again: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen

review

Holy moley cannoli! This book was freaking amazing! Capitol A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I could hardly put it down and mostly grunted when someone asked a question while I was reading it. First book by Tess Gerritsen I have ever read; I've never seen the TNT show "Rizzoli & Isles" based on the series either. I'm not sure what kept me so long...

The story focuses in Boston and Africa on differing timelines. Millie and her snobby author boyfriend are on a safari with other folks. It goes from bad to worse. People start to disappear and their entrails reappear after supposed animal attacks. Suspecting their vigilant guide, the remaining members go mad and the body count goes even higher. The only survivor is found weeks later stumbling out of the bush. The gruesome tale is told throughout the current events unfolding with Detective Rizzoli and medical examiner Isles. And yep, you guessed it, they tie together. It's madness!

The plot just gets wilder, weirder, and hair raising. Local taxidermist is the first (so they think, dum dum dum) murder. A suspected home invasion is the second. Previously unsolved murders, where the victims are strung up, gutted, and marked with three claw marks in two distinct places pop up. Tying all the bodies, murders, a possible cult tie in, lions, tigers, missing snow leopard pelt, and missing persons is quite a task. It's quite a zoo of a case (pun intended!). The lone survivor of the African safari is brought in to lure out the least expected murderer.

The book starts and ends on a climax. I was fairly catatonic and afraid to turn the last few pages to find out what the crap was going down in this twisted road of a mystery thriller. Perfect ending, perfect piecing together of the puzzle... ahh, was very satisfying. Loved the main characters and the awesomely detailed and methodically descriptions completed by the author.

Pick up this book. Get lost and freaked out in it. It will do a mystery lover very, very good. Ms. Gerritsen has a new die hard fan.

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interview

Tell us a bit about yourself


I'm the author of 26 novels, including a crime series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and ME Maura Isles, on which the TV show "Rizzoli & Isles" is based. Over the course of my 30-year career I've written medical thrillers, historical suspense, crime novels, and romantic suspense. I'm also a medical doctor, although I haven't practiced medicine in decades.


When did you begin writing?


At age seven. That's when I knew I wanted to be a writer.


Have you ever been discouraged in regard to your writing ability and if so, how did you get past it and move forward?


I'm constantly discouraged. With every book, I find myself questioning my ability to tell a story. I think it's part of writing the best book you can -- you never settle for less than your best effort, and it may involve multiple drafts. I've sometimes gone through six or seven revisions before I feel ready to send the manuscript to my editor.


I also go through plot block with almost every manuscript, where I don't know what happens next, or I don't know how to tie the disparate plot elements together. The best cure for that is a long drive, or a day or two lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, until the "A ha!" moment happens.


 


What's your favorite thing about writing?


I love the very beginning of a project, when the ideas come flying at me, and I'm trying to see how they all relate to each other. It's before the hard work of writing actually begins.


I also love doing the research -- finding out enticing new facts, and delving into a topic I know nothing about.


 


What is your writing style? Do you like to outline or just write as you go?


I don't do a formal outline, more like a few jotted sentences of how the story begins. Generally, I don't know much more than about a third of the plot, and I make up the rest as I go along. I've tried to outline in the past, but always ended up veering away from it, because I get better ideas as I move into the story. It leads to a chaotic first draft, and I often get stuck midway through, trying to come up with ways to make the mystery fit together. But if I'm surprised by the story, I think my readers are as well.


 


Do you have a favorite spot where you like to write?


I have an office over my garage where I write. It has a view of the sea, lots of light, and a huge desk where I can spread out all my papers. It's the only place where I compose my first drafts.


 


What is something you've written that will never see the light of day?


I have bits and pieces of earlier manuscripts that never got completed, but I keep them around. You never know when a scene can be recycled into another book.


 


What is your writer food?


Whatever's left over in the refrigerator from last night's dinner.


 


What's the hardest thing about writing for you?


Getting to the end of the first draft. I'm never sure what the story's about until I finish that draft. Another difficult point is the first revision, when I look at that first draft, see all the flaws, and wonder if I'll ever be able to fix it.


 


What inspires you to write?


I find ideas everywhere -- the news, my interests, travel. I never know when something strikes me as a great idea for a story. I'm very clued in to emotional impacts. If I learn something that scares me or upsets me, that's usually a great topic for a book.


 


How many books have you written and which is your favorite?


I've just finished writing my 26th book. My favorite is probably GRAVITY, about a disaster aboard the International Space Station. Because of the highly technical details, requiring months of research, that book was a challenge to write, and I was terrified I wouldn't be able to pull it off. But I did.


 


What are some of your favorite books?


My reading tastes are eclectic. I love historicals, non-fiction, fantasy. Looking back at the books that have stayed with me through the years, I would count JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy as my absolute favorite.


 


What authors do you like to read?


I'm a big fan of Philippa Gregory, who makes history come alive.


 


What inspired you to write Die Again?


A few years ago, my husband and I went on safari in South Africa. One day in the bush, we had a surprise encounter with a leopard, and our bush guide essentially saved our lives. It brought home how dangerous the bush is, and how much you have to trust your guide. Then I thought: what if you trust the wrong man? What if the most dangerous creature in the bush walks on two legs? What if the guide who meets your plane at the remote landing strip isn't the man he says he is? That inspired the initial premise: seven tourists fly into Botswana, drive off into the wilderness, and are never seen again.


 


If you could choose a dream cast for DIE AGAIN, who would you pick?


I think the best cast for my poor seven tourists would all be unknowns!


 


Would you say you relate to any of your characters? If so, which one and why?


 I'm definitely like Maura Isles. We're both medically trained, we're both introverts, and we both want to believe there's a logical explanation for everything.


This or that.


Sweet or Salty?


Salty.


Naughty or nice?


Nice.


Cats or dogs?


Cats AND dogs.


Vanilla or chocolate?


Chocolate.


 


If you were deserted on an island, which author would you want to be stranded with?


Lee Child. I think he would keep me well entertained.


 

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[caption id="attachment_7804" align="alignright" width="300"]Tess Gerritsen, © Leonardo Cendamo / Blackarchives Tess Gerritsen, © Leonardo Cendamo / Blackarchives[/caption]
Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift", which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), and Last To Die (August 2012.) Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as "Pulse-pounding fun" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "Scary and brilliant" (Toronto Globe and Mail), and "Polished, riveting prose" (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the "medical suspense queen".

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series "Rizzoli & Isles" starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

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