pira

Reflected Voices

pira

November 21st, 2017

The passing of the great Christopher Lee

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When I told my husband, he said, "He can't die, he's Dracula."

I've known his work all my life. Long before others discovered him as Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings" I knew him as Dracula, and Scaramanda in the James Bond movies, and Sherlock Holmes. He had one of those voices that made me swoon, and I could recognize it anywhere.

Here is his obituary. I would love to see the movie on Pakistan in which he played Jinna.

He was 93, which is a good age, but I will still miss him. May you thrive and see old friends and make new movies in the Summerlands, Sir Christopher Lee.




The man with his knighthood.

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November 20th, 2017

Manga Review: Haikyu!! V 10 by Haruichi Furudate

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May Contain Spoilers

Realizing that their game isnt good enough to win at the Spring Tournament, Hinata wants to change how they run the freak quick attack. Instead of closing his eyes and trusting Kageyama to put the ball where he can hit it, he wants to keep his eyes open and be a more active participant in the play. Kageyama refuses to listen to him, and tells him he wont put the ball where he can hit it anymore. Its too close to the tournament to change their best play. The tension between the two teammates alters the flow of the entire game, and their first training camp is a disaster.

This volume was so good! With the pressure to improve, all of the players on the Karasuno club are feeling the heat. Hinata wants to be the best there is, but if Kageyama wont work with him, his personal growth will be stifled. To help keep the two from knocking heads, Coach Ukai takes Hinata on a special training mission  to see the first Coach Ukai! I loved the interaction between Keishin and his grandfather. The old guy knows his stuff, and while hes schooling Hinata, he also gives Keishin some hard lessons on running the team.

Kageyama realizes that Hinata might have a point, but hes not ready to release his hold over the ball. A humbling encounter with Oikawa makes him think long and hard about how he runs the game, and how he needs to improve. While he isnt ready to forgive Hinata for his rebellion, Kageyama is working through his own shortcomings on the court.

The weeklong training camp is a sobering experience for Karasuno. After owning up to their weaknesses, they all agree that their game play needs to improve drastically, or they will be eliminated quickly from the Spring Tournament. Getting everyone on board isnt happening, though. Tsukishima, despite his height and ability, isnt willing to put all of his effort into the game. It doesnt matter to him. After a heartbreaking reason for his indifference is revealed, I was willing to cut him a little bit of slack.

The team dynamitic was explored in this volume, and I loved all of the drama. All of those egos and all of that testosterone was getting out of control! Karasuno has a long way to go before they are ready to face the best teams in Tokyo.

Grade: 4.75 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Hinata boldly declares that he wont close his eyes for the freak quick anymore, but Kageyama isnt having any of it. The two of them fight, setting the entire team back in the practice game. Now, having come face-to-face with how much better all the Tokyo teams are than them, Karasuno will either step up their game and evolve into a new team or crumble under the pressure.

November 17th, 2017

Review: The Maverick’s Return by Marie Ferrarella

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May Contain Spoilers

I borrowed The Mavericks Return from the library because of the cowboy on the cover. I know. Im so transparent. I love me my cowboy books. While I wasnt too enamored with Daniel, this was a light, quick read.

Daniel Stockton has been away from home for 12 years. He hasnt spoken to any of his siblings in all that time, or the girl he left behind when he fled Montana. After seeing his brother on TV, he decides its time to head home and try to mend some bridges.

Anne Lattimore is the girl Daniel left behind. After his parents funeral, he disappeared, and she hasnt heard from him since. Pregnant with his child, she searched for him, desperate to find him. After all of these years, she hasnt been able to move on, and her love for Daniel has ruined her marriage.

When Daniel shows up on her doorstep, with no warning, after no contact for 12 years, I dont think Id have let into the house. Anne and her ex have agreed to tell Janie, Annes daughter, that Hank is her father. Daniel throws a wrench in that, because once hes back in the picture, Annes conscience forces her to tell him the truth.

Daniel irritated me. I didnt have any faith that he would stick around when the going go tough. I could understand why he felt so much guilt when he was teenager, and why he felt he was responsible for his parents tragic accident, but come on. Hes older and should have been wiser, but I dont feel that he ever matured. Even when he learns that he has a pre-teen daughter, the flight instinct was kicked into overdrive. It took until almost the end of the book for him to decide to stay in Rust Creek, to make the commitment to his family, and I thought that it took him too long.

This is a quick, sweet read, though, and despite Daniels quirks, I enjoyed it. I think this is the first book Ive read by the author; I wouldnt hesitate to read something by her again.

Grade: 3.75 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Congratulations&it’s a girl!

Rust Creek Ramblings

Talk about mending fenceshave you heard that rugged rancher Daniel Stockton is back in town? It’s been ten years since Dan left Rust Creek Falls with Anne Lattimore’s heart in tow. She soon married someone else and had a child, but their marriage didn’t last. We here at the Gazette think we know why. It has something to do with Anne’s beautiful daughter, Janie&

Now that Dan has returned, will Anne find the courage to forgive himand tell him that sweet Janie is really his? Will Dan find the courage to ask for a second chance? Stay tuned, you hopeful romantics, to see if love really can conquer all!

November 16th, 2017

Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

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Review by Poo Penny

May Contain Spoilers

As much as I liked this book, I was also disappointed in it. What was with the Spartacus retelling in there? I really enjoyed the first book, so imagine my surprise when it took me almost 2 weeks to read this. OK, that is partially my fault, I used to read 2 books a day, now Im lucky if I can get through 2 chapters a day. Working really takes a toll on my ability to just plow through a book.


Oh… I also couldn’t stand all the time jumps from present to past, or that all the past scenes were in italics. WHY!

Mia, Mister Kindly, and Eclipse go through a lot in this book. And I absolutely love the 2 shadows creatures bickering. It reminds me of Tyrion and Varys. And it seems she may have picked up another passenger, from what I gathered. Not sure yet. But, the build up to the gladiator house was amazing. Mia was lethal, and nothing was stopping her. I was confused, but I knew the payoff would be great. We also run into Ash again, remember her? She’s interesting.

And while it was, there was still that hint of disappointment because I felt like I had already been through this story. Granted, there were no chariot matches in what I remember from Spartacus, but it was still pretty similar. The only difference was that ending. And, GAH DAMN that was a good ending. I had to read it twice, because it was so good. It is hurting me not to tell you my favorite part about this ending. But, lets just say that Kristoff left a VERY good setup for the next installment.

Grade: 3 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think shes far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, shes no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When its announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness, Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

November 15th, 2017

Manga Review: Haikyu V 9 by Haruichi Furudate

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May Contain Spoilers

After coming to terms with their defeat at the hands of Aoba Johsai, the Karasuno volleyball club is working on preparing for the spring tournament. Takeda calls in some favors and gets the team invited to a training camp in Tokyo. Theres just one problem. Finals are coming up, and four players are dangerously close to failing! If they dont pass their tests, theyll be forced to miss training camp for make-up tests.

Bwahaha! I really enjoyed this volume. Not so much of it was focused on game play, but instead on the daily school lives of the team. Some of the guys dont take their studies very seriously. When its revealed that Hinata is in danger of not passing his finals, I wasnt surprised. Its when Kageyama is another player on notice that I couldnt believe it. He is so focused on volleyball that he doesnt give his school work much thought. How did these guys pass the Karasuno entrance exams in the first place?

In addition to the four players scrambling to make up for slacking off most of the year, and still showing up for brutal practices, Kiyoko convinces a first year to consider taking up the manager duties for her after she graduates.  Hitoka Yachi is a shy, reserved student, who is under pressure from her workaholic mom to succeed and tackle every endeavor with a fierce will to excel. When Hinata asks for her help studying, she cant turn him or Kageyama down. After a few study sessions, its no wonder these guys arent doing very well in school.

Even though the attention is turned away from the game, the snippets of life off the court were amusing and engaging. When the lens turned back to the game  oh, my! Some of the illustrations are stunning. Furudate is hitting his stride with both his story and his visuals.

Grade: 4.5 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Shoyo Hinata is out to prove that in volleyball you don’t need to be tall to fly!
Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! He decides to join the team at the high school the Little Giant went toand then surpass him. Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?
Motivated by their heartbreaking loss to Aoba Johsai, Karasuno now works towards a new goalthe Spring Tournament! The team gears up for a trip to Tokyo for a training camp with some of the top teams in Tokyo, including Nekoma, but theres something they need to do first&pass their finals! Hinata, Kageyama, Nishinoya and Tanaka are all at risk of not being allowed to go. What are they going to do?!

Fall Leaves I 2017 AF's Pics

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2017-10-30 Mt. Fuji from Narukawa Museum (ݎS() at Hakone

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2017-10-30 Mountain Leaves @ Tsutsujiso Ryokan, Hakone

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2017-11-11 Fall Cherry Trees @ Atomi University, Niiza Campus

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November 13th, 2017

Review: Pony Express Special Delivery by Rhonda Gibson

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May Contain Spoilers

This is the third Saddles & Spurs book that Ive read, and I have really enjoyed them all. I didnt even read the synopsis when I saw this pop up  at the library. I just clicked the borrow button with an eager smile and saved it for some weekend reading.

Pony Express Special Delivery is about studious Clayton Young. He has longed to be a doctor since he was a young boy, and hes been saving every penny of his Pony Express earnings so he can study and make his dreams come true after hes finished with the mail service. Agreeing to manage the station at the Fillmore ranch in Wyoming, his life quickly takes an unexpected turn. He arrives just in time to save Maggie Fillmores newborn baby, and untangles a mystery at the same time.

Clayton is dismayed that the young widow was left alone when she was so close to her delivery date, and after confronting the ranch foreman, he doesnt feel any better about the situation hes just walked into. The cousin of Maggies late husband, Gus thinks that the ranch should be his, and hell do just about anything to get his hands on the land and the cattle. With his protective nature in overdrive, Clayton decides that hell do whatever he must to keep the ranch in Maggie and baby James possession, even give up his dreams to be a doctor.

This series excels in the feel good department. Clayton is such a good guy, taking Maggie, her young sister, and the baby under his wing and doing everything in his power to protect them. Hes still stinging from the betrayal of his ex, and he doesnt want to ever fall in love, but the kids have him wearing his heart on his sleeve. Maggie is also reeling from loss  first, her father walked out on them, and then her husband up and died, leaving her alone, again. She doesnt trust Clayton to keep his word and stick around, and this conflict keeps them at arms length for most of the book.

The ending is a little too convenient, but overall, Pony Express Special Delivery is an engaging read with a convincing HEA. I wonder what the author will cook up next?

Grade: 4.5 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Conveniently Wed

Pony Express manager Clayton Young arrives for his new assignment at a Wyoming ranch just in time to save Maggie Fillmore’s ailing baby. The lovely young widow is struggling to care for a ranch, her sister and a newborn, and Clayton plans to pursue medicinenot marriage. Yet Maggie’s dire situation spurs him to offer a match of convenience&

Maggie hoped never to rely on any man again, even one as kind as Clayton. But with her late husband’s greedy cousin trying to take away her farm, she has little choice. And though Maggie worries her union with Clayton might not be enough to save her farm, she soon sees it could be just what her heart needs.

November 10th, 2017

Review: The Cowboy and the Cop by Christine Wenger

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May Contain Spoilers

I just looked at the cover and decided I wanted to read The Cowboy and the Cop. I havent read the author previously, and while this didnt work completely for me, it was entertaining enough that I would read her again. Things kind of fell off the rails during the investigation into the cattle rustling, when there was just too much going on, making the plot hard to swallow.

Lukes family has owned a large ranch for generations. After his mother is killed in an accident, his father goes off the deep end, giving away livestock and letting the ranch fall to ruin. To get away from the man he no longer recognizes, Luke and his brothers hit the rodeo trail. They are all fairly successful, earning big payouts, which are going to come in handy after Sergeant Amber Chapman tracks down Luke. Instead of a pleasant social call, she warns him that the ranch is about to be sold at auction for back taxes, his father is in rehab after being arrested for drunk and disorderly, and Luke had best come home now and put things right. In the two years hes been gone, the small town of Beaumont has fallen on hard times, now that the areas largest employer and tourist attraction is in shambles.

And wow! What an intro! Rodeo cowboy has to ride to the rescue of his hometown. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. Luke is dismayed to see the ruin of his family home, and though he originally had his doubts, he is determined to rebuild. His mother would be heartbroken to see the property in its current condition, so Luke rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.

The conflict between Amber and Luke felt a bit forced. Ambers dad and brothers have always skated on just this side of the law, and rumors abound that they sell moonshine and run a chop shop out of their junk yard. Amber has made her dad promise to keep his nose clean, at least until she gets a job with the state police. She knows that her background will be thoroughly researched, and shes terrified her familys shady business will rob her of the job she so desperately craves. When Lukes stock starts disappearing, the first suspects he thinks of are Ambers family, so the tension between them is not always pleasant. And since Amber has arrested his father three times, Luke is a little miffed about that. I just didnt find this conflict to be very believable.

Both Amber and Luke occasionally suffered from tunnel vision, which made for a rocky road for them. This was a very quick read, and despite my quibbles, it did keep my entertained on a Sunday afternoon.

Grade: 2.75 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

THE BULL RIDER HEADS HOME 

Sergeant Amber Chapman didn’t come all the way to Oklahoma City for Luke Beaumont’s autograph. His family ranch, a major tourist attraction, is on the auction block. She’d drag the star bull rider back in handcuffs if it meant saving her hometown! But the biggest attraction is Luke himself&even if he’s always been out of reach for the girl from the wrong side of town.

Luke can’t help himselfhe’s drawn to the quick-witted and sassy sheriff, even as they track down the cattle rustlers targeting his ranch. Unless he can make Amber see they’re perfect for each other, Luke might lose her. If he has his way, they’ll be together foreverthis cowboy’s betting the ranch on it!

November 9th, 2017

HOLIDAY SALE COMING!!!

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On Thursday November 23rd we will be implementing our InsaneJournal Holiday sale that will take place from 9am Eastern Standard Time (GMT -0500) until November 28th at 9am Eastern Standard Time (GMT -0500). These will be some of our best prices ever and we WILL be offering our Insane Userpics option.

Prices will be announced at the start of the sale.

Then, for the rest of November and the entire Month of December we will be selling Permanently Insane accounts for a discounted price of $40 (regular price $50)

November 8th, 2017

Manga Review: Haikyu!! V 8 by Haruichi Furudate

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Contains Spoilers

Wow! This volume was certainly a nail biter! Almost the entire volume is taken up by the match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai. Who will move on to the next match of the Inter High Tournament?

The Karasuno team is giving the game their all. Coach Ukai is wracking his brain to find any advantage for his players. As the set grinds on, both teams are pulling out all the stops. Sheer determination is powering Karasuno through many heart stopping moments, but Blue Castles prior experience is so hard to beat. Nerves and fatigue are setting in, and it appears to be anybodys game.

I thought that the Karasuno players found some much needed unity during this match. Everyone found a way to grow personally, even some of the bench warmers. Yamaguchi, who hadnt taken the game or his practice seriously until he got to high school, feels left out. He sees Kageyama and Hinata dominating the team, working together, taking risks, and having the time of their lives, and suddenly he wants a taste of that too. He has been practicing the jump floater serve, and when Ukai puts him the game to pinch serve, hes going to find out whether hes ready for prime time.

After the Inter High Tournament, the team turns their focus to the Spring Tournament, but theres a fly in the ointment. The tournament has been moved to August so 3rd years can still participate, but not everyone is thrilled that they are devoting so much time to practice and not to their upcoming college entrance exams. Some of my favorite characters are 3rd years, and I am really worried that they may be forced to leave the team. Waahhh!!

It was really hard to put this volume down. The action is super intense, the plays are gravity defying, and the pressure just never let up. Im not sure how the next volume, which gets back to the nitty-gritty of daily practice, is going to compare.

Grade: 4.5 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Shoyo Hinata is out to prove that in volleyball you don’t need to be tall to fly!
Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! He decides to join the team at the high school the Little Giant went toand then surpass him. Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?
The Inter-High match between Karasuno and Aoba Johsai continues. Karasuno has dragged the game into a third set and is struggling to keep up their momentum. In a desperate move, Coach Ukai decides to bring out Tadashi Yamaguchi as a pinch server! Could this be the push Karasuno needs to keep the teams hopes alive and beat Aoba Johsai?

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