Storm Warning and Have a Little Faith by Kadi Dillon: Two for Tuesday Reviews

Thank you for bearing with me as I dealt with illness this last week.  I am feeling a little better now and decided to try to get up at least one series of reviews. (I have two more series of reviews to write, but they’ll have to wait. Nap is indicated now.)  

Storm Warning by Kadi DillonStorm Warning by Kadi Dillon is a short, but enjoyable story.

Tory Fairchild is terrified of storms, most especially tornado’s due to losing both her mother and father to one as a child. Now as an adult, Tory chases these storms.

Gabe Wills is a well-known photographer who pays to be with Tory and her group of chasers. Just the fact that Gabe has the money to do for the storm chasers what Tory cannot is enough to set up a dislike right from the start in Toni’s mind.

This book moves quickly and is quite believable to me.  I found the heated dislike which masked other feelings from Tory to be something that in my opinion made sense.  Then again, I’m unconventional to begin with.  I have to say, I loved the part where Tory’s about to be ex-boyfriend shows up and gets physical with her.  Tory doesn’t hesitate to bring him down by drop kicking his family jewels.  The ex comes back later, and the results could be deadly

I do recommend this book to anyone wanting a short, quick read with some good romance along the way. I give this a solid ****.  I will say, there were editing problems, but that is expected when reading an Advanced Readers Copy, (ARC) and the editing problems have now been resolved.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of Storm Warning to give an honest review of.

 

Have a Little Faith by Kadi Dillon is another short and enjoyable read.Have a Little Faith by Kadi Dillon

Alexandra Morgan will do anything necessary to save the ranch she calls home. Lane Tanner will take what he wants, including Alexandra Morgan. When to stubborn and willful personalities collide, the sparks of passion fly. Is it passion for what they each want, or passion of love? Only time will tell.

Alex’s father died and left a staggering debt. Her mother, wheelchair bound since the accident that claimed her body and Alex’s three-month old daughter is selling the ranch to Lane to turn into a Dude Ranch. Alex can’t allow that to happen. Faith is all she has…and she won’t lose her a second time, not even to a man used to taking everything he wants.

Lane has a lot to prove, to himself and to his father. He has even more to prove to Alexandra Morgan if he wants to claim her as his own.  When reason doesn’t work on her, he turns to Alex’s mother with a proposition. The land and Alex’s hand in marriage for a staggering amount of money that will take care of the debt Alex’s father left when he died.

Can Lane convenience Alex that it’s more than business? Can Alex ever explain how much Faith means to her and why she can’t leave the ranch? Read Have a Little Faith to discover the answer.

This book receives a **** from me, along with a laugh out loud at the ending paragraph.  You did well, Ms. Dillon…well indeed.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for giving an Honest review.

Another series of books I love: Monday Mania

Two thing always catch my attention when I’m reading fiction: world building and characters. It’s why I like the Harry Dresden books I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Today I’m going to write about another series of books I enjoyed. One with a strange lineage.

The ancient progenitor of the books is an old animé series entitled Macross. Like so many such series it consisted of a lot of battles between giant robotic weapons known as mecha.

Than a game company, Games Design Workshop, appropriated these machines and retitled them BattleMechs. They turned out a game they called BattleTech. This game was played on a hex board with standing counters representing the Mechs. These machines could be outfitted with weapons from machine guns to 200 mm cannon to multiple missile launchers. I had a copy a couple of decades ago and it was fun to play. Eventually there was a bad cartoon series made from it, and some very successful computer games published under the title of MechWarrior.

But it’s the books set in the universe of the game that I want to talk about.

The people working on these books created a long and complex history for the universe starting from humans leaving Earth for the stars. They went mostly in national/racial groups that founded nations of stars. Eventually a Star League was formed, sort of a cross between the Holy Roman Empire and the UN. It was organized along roughly feudal lines as central control was almost impossible. That fell when a usurper killed the royal family. This started a civil war which the usurper lost. The nations that made up the Star League started fighting amongst themselves over who got to rule. The leader of the Star League’s army got teed about this and took off for parts unknown with most of the people under his command. The Successor States battled one another for another two hundred years, nearly blowing themselves back to the Industrial Age. It’s at this points where the books start.

The first few books basically covered the conflict between two of the Successor States; The Federated Suns which was mostly English/American in nature, and The Capellan Confederation which was mostly Chinese. There’s intrigue, battles, betrayal, politics and marriage involved. The characters are interesting ranging from royalty like Hanse Davion, known as The Fox and leader of the Federated Suns, to Justin Allard, a gladiator on the world of Solaris. This covers three books and they were an okay read.

Then, in my opinion, the books really took off.

The Inner Sphere was invaded by an outside enemy know as The Clans. The Clans possessed superior warriors and their Mechs were superior as well. They started to go through the Inner Sphere like grass through a goose. Although they were human beings no one knew where they had come from which frightened people even more.

Again the books cover multiple points of view. Many of these are the children of characters in the first series. There’s Victor Steiner-Davion, son of The Fox. Kai Allard-Liao is the son of Justin Allard, and there’s Phelan Kell, son of Morgan Kell, commander of one of the leading mercenary units in the Inner Sphere. There are also several Clan characters as well which gives a lot of insight onto Clan society.

Again there are battles, politics, betrayal and intrigue, plus a few marriages. We slowly learn about The Clans, what sort of people they are, where they came from and their intrigue, battles, betrayal and politics. No marriages though. Clanners don’t marry.

I just loved The Clans. The people behind the series posited a society very different from ours. Clanners are a caste society; warriors, technicians, scientists, merchants and laborers, in approximate order of power. The warriors are the ones the books deal with the most.

Clan Warriors are all conceived in vitro and then brought to term in an ‘iron womb’, a machine in which the fetus develops. Sperm and eggs (Clanners, in fact everyone in this future are remarkably free from misogyny) are taken from warriors when accepted into the caste. If they distinguish themselves their genetic material is used to create a new batch of children.

Those children are place in a sibko, which is short for ‘sibling company.’ They are trained to be warriors from the time they can walk. Of a sibko of forty usually only four or five will become warriors. The rest fail and get moved to other castes, or die. The Clans don’t hold back in training.

When the time comes the potential warriors mount up in a Mech and battle a group of Clan warriors. The more they defeat the higher their rank will be in the caste. Not winning any means failure and they don’t get second chances.

There are only 800 last names in the Clans’ warrior caste and only twenty five can have a last name. When a ‘Bloodnamed’ dies that particular name is fought over for the right to hold it. This is known as a ‘Trial of Bloodright.’

Although each Clan is ruled by a council of the Bloodnamed, who vote on policy, often policy is fought over. A losing side in a vote can call for a ‘Trial of Refusal.’ Then the two sides select people to fight over the vote, with a little twist. The side that lost the vote cannot use more force than the amount they lost by. So if they lost by 100 to 60 votes, they couldn’t bring more than 60% of what the winning side brings to a fight. So Trials of Refusal aren’t common.

It’s never that simple with the Clans, because leaders bid on their battles. Two commanders are chosen for each operation. They roll dice, essentially, to see who can bid first. The second takes the force that the first commander selects and removes units from it, declaring that is what he or she will fight with. This goes on until one is no longer willing to bid. This ensures that warriors and units are not used carelessly and guarantees that commanders have to be sharp.

In fact just about everything in Clan warrior society is fought over. There are Trials of Position where warriors fight over a rank. There are Trials of Possession for goods that can range from planets to genetic material. Once there was a Trial of Annihilation.

A Clan used an atomic weapon on one of another Clan’s genetic repositories. The other Clans destroyed them. They didn’t even take prisoners, which they often do. In many cases Clans will adopt captured warriors from other Clans if the warrior is good. They didn’t in this case.

As you can tell by the way I’ve been going on, I loved the BattleTech books. I’ll especially recommend those written by Michael A. Stackpole.

If you ever need a series of books that will keep you engaged for a long time, that have interesting characters and wonderful world building, buy these books. You’ll have to get them second hand though. I believe they’ve been out of print for quite a while.

In case you’re interested, there’s a wiki for the BattleTech universe. Be careful reading though. Like all wikis there are a lot of spoilers.

David Bridger: Friday Friends

Can you believe it, I have a male friend to add this week! You can flick my head now though, because Yes, I met him through Romance Diva’s.  What can I say, it’s a great place to find fellow authors and good friends.

David BridgerDavid Bridger is one of the handful of male writers I have encountered in the last three years. He’s also proven himself a very apt writer. I will be reading one of his books, The WeaverField’s Heir in the near future, and my husband will be reading another, Quarter Square.

David is living in England at this time with his family, after working twenty years doing things based on the ocean and its tides. He hasa been a lifeguard, sailor, intelligence gatherer and an investigator.  He now writes science fiction and fantasy.

I understand when he says the sea calls him…it has called me for years, but I’ve been forced nearly always to close the door upon it…David says that the stories he feels called to write call him more than the sea. I for one am glad he has listened to the call of the books at this time.

David is dealing with some medical issues and has been forced to take a reprieve of a sort. He is offline through the rest of August and perhaps into September in an effort to get some of his medical situations straightened out in a hurry.

On Diva’s, I have learned that David has what many would classify as the “Typical British” sense of humor. It’s a bit dry, a bit caustic and a wee bit sarcastic at times…but it is never hurtful or demeaning.  It’s a humor I identify with strongly, as it’s my style of humor.

David has some fantastic posts you will want to take a look at, particularly if you are an author: What Are Your Obstacles to Productivity? Be sure to look for the other parts to the short workshop. You may help identify some of the things stopping or slowing you down in reaching your goals.

I hope to have David join us here at Heaven’s Garden soon.  If  you’d like to learn more about David Bridger, please feel free to leave a comment on this post and let us know what your questions are. Who knows, maybe you the reader are just what is needed to lure, erm, entice, ermm get David to join us.

Pinterest: Workshop Wednesday

Welcomed back to another addition of Workshop Wednesday here at Heaven’s Garden. Today’s topic is about what I consider to be the second most under-used social network, and, the most visual one:

Pinterest

Just the past week or so, Pinterest has dropped the need for an invitation to be able to join.  This helps to simplify sign up a bit, and takes away the guesswork of when you will be allowed in.

Pinterest has been somewhat controversial since it’s start but, in my opinion, much of it has been unwarranted though not all. The Terms of Service (TOS) was, and to some point still is, a bit unclear whether one can link or upload ONLY their own original photos or not.

This week, I’m going to give you a short intro into what to do once  you have signed up for Pinterest.

You should have at least one board already, but we’re going to teach you how to add your own board, and what it entails. To access your boards, you can click on your “username” or on the “boards” from the drop down menu.

To create a new board, you will wish to click on “Add+” button at the top right of your computer screen, and then click on “Create a Board.” Type your board name in the area provided and then click the Create Board button.  There are 32 categories to choose from, and you’ll want to consider carefully where your board best fits.This will  help you to stay organized and will help people to find you and your pins easier.

You can set it up to allow others to be authorized to also pin on your board, but unless you are part of a large company, are working on a project, are organizing a wedding or trip, it is best under most circumstances to set the pin authorization to only yourself.

Before  you can allow another person to contribute to your boards, you must follow at least one  on their boards. Group boards seem to be popular, and it could help increase  your follower base. I recommend that you be very judicious in how and whom you allow to contribute. You don’t want someone pinning pornography or illegal information on your account, do you?

You can rename and rearrange your boards at a later time; for now, we just want to get you started so you will know what you are doing. In order to arrange your boards, you must be on your profile page and you will click the little square located in the middle of the page. I consider it to be essential that your most important boards be at the top of your page. For my account, that would be the boards which deal with Heaven’s Garden Productions, angel Art Studio, Twisted Rose Publishing, Heaven-Wide Communications and about 3-5 others.  For most of my boards, I attempt to group them together, such as the recipe boards, which are then sorted alphabetically.  I try to make it as easy as possible for those coming to my boards to find what they are looking for with a minimum of trouble.

You are also able to set a board cover on each board. This is done by mouse-over of any board, clicking on the “edit board cover” and then choosing the pin cover you want and positioning it as you like.There are tools which will allow you to “slice” the image cover such as vitamincr/pinterest. This can help add a little more interest to your boards.  I’ll admit, I have not tried it yet, but when I return to the States and back to my Windows PC, I’ll be looking into giving it a try.

If you are like me, you want to know how to edit a board.  You can do this by clicking on the “edit” button which is located under the board you want to edit. You can change the board tittle, add a description, change categories, set contributors and delete the board. Something I recommend, and try to always remember to do, is to use the # in my board description and in the board name itself. For instance, let’s say I create a new board for WordPress Tutorials. My new board name would look as follows: #WordPress Tutorials. I do this, as it is supposed to help help people in being able to search more directly for the boards or pins they wish to find.  It works in much the same way as the hash-tag # for Twitter works.

There are  places that can teach you how to do pins, but I feel the best one is from Pinterest itself. Therefore, I will not be taking time to explain this to you and will move forward in teaching you a few other tricks and tips.

Let’s talk a bit more about the hashtag # and it’s use in Pinterest. With Pinterest, you can add this to the picture description, and it can not be used more than three times to describe one pin. As mentioned above, it helps to make an easily searchable keyword.

Another familiar sign is the at mention sign @ This allows you to recommend the pin to a specific user, or to notify a particular user about your pin. You must be following the user already. If you wanted to at mention me, for instance, it would look like this;  @angelGraham

Commenting on pins is one of the best and easiest ways to interact with other users, aside from pinning or liking their pins.  It allows you to become more personal with them, and again, this is something which has the potential to help increase your own follower base.

A tip/trick I discovered by accident is the one where you can addd the $ sign to your description and it will allow you to add a price to your pin. I’ve read recently that the £ can also be used in the same way.

Videos may also be shared on Pinterest. It’s done in the same way as pinning images, so no extra explanation is necessary.

So, what’s next? Time to follow and be followed.  I was fortunate when I joined Pinterest, that  a number of people I knew were already there, and was able to follow them right away…and they followed me back.  This may be the case for you also.  After you’ve used up your list of people you know, it’s time to begin searching for people to follow who may be inclined to follow you back.  This is where the #search can be invaluable. Start by searching for other users in the areas you will frequent the most. For me, this is the Recipes and DIY, for my friends, it may be books and sports.  Go with your interest, find people who share your interest, and begin following them.  To get followers, you’ll need to do a bit more work.

One thing, probably the most important thing, is to find a way to garner their attention. Put a Pin Me button on your blog/website page, use links in your digital books, add a Follow Me On Pinterest button to your blog/site, and link it to your profile.

Second, add a “follow us on Pinterest” to your email signature (Wisestamp is a great tool for accomplishing this, more on WiseStamp at another time.)

Third, consider making a “How I Use Pinterest” video on YouTube with a link to your profile and pin your video from YouTube to your Pinterest board. I have not done this yet, but it’s on my list of “Things to attempt.”

Fourth, as I touched on earlier, comment on others pins and blogs. It helps you to gain visibility. I’ve tried to do this, but while in Canada, I’m taking it easy, and will go back to doing this more actively when I return to the States.

There are many other things you can do with Pinterest, much more to learn. Go to Facebook and do a search for some of the Pinterest on Facebook Pages, and you can find a wealth of information, plus it is another avenue to use for finding followers.

Don’t forget to be sure to attribute the original person on the pin in your description.  I like to use the URL from their site not only to pin the image, but also in the description itself. If you know their username, use the @username method to further alert them to your pin. You may end up with a new follower or two.

So, readers, what’s your favorite pin you have found on Pinterest?  Authors, are you using Pinterest, and if you are, how are  you using it? Please come comment and let us know what’s going on with your boards and pins.

Now, go forth and Pin.