Bullying and a Must Free Read

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Good morning all.  On this lovely Friday here in Maryland, I am going to bring up a not so lovely topic – that of Bullying.  Bullying is a subject seemingly on everyone’s minds.  From blogs to books, from newspapers to TV commentators and even the movies, we see the victims, we listen to their stories and we wonder what can be done to stop it.  Some say bullying has always been around and that  the child/person should just “buck up” and deal.  While the first part is true, bullying has always been around, the second is sickeningly false.

More and more it seems that the one who is bullied now sees suicide as their only solution in ending their torment.  Look at all the suicides we have heard of and think of  all those children whose attempts we don’t know about.  I would suspect they are legion.  And what do we hear after learning of the death?  Someone invariably says “If only I knew….”  And then it comes out that someone did know and didn’t do anything.  Or they didn’t know what to do.  So much sadness and pain.  Such an unnecessary loss.

National Prevention Week is coming up.  It’s May 20 -26th.  So I will be writing more on this topic later.  But right now, the story Bully by Carter Wolf is available for a free download for Amazon’s Prime customers and for $2.99 for regular accounts.  It is worth every penny.  My review of Bully will be going up on Saturday but don’t wait until then.  Get it or buy it now.  You can find it here at Amazon.

And don’t forget to take the Prevention Pledge!  Here are some sites on Bullying.

Bullying Statistics

Child Bullying School Bullying Bullycide

The Trevor Project

 

Thoughts on Dust Jackets, E readers, and Women Reading Erotica

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about books (all right, all right, I am always thinking of books, jeesh). And I mean almost every aspect of books. Book covers, book formats, hardbacks, paperbacks, eReaders and of course, dust jackets.  My thoughts may be scattered but they are revolving around books!

My muse got rolling with Michael Dirda of The Washington Post.  He reviewed Book-Jackets: Their History, Forms, and Use by G. Thomas Tanselle (2/5/12).  Talk about a fascinating book and a must read for all book lovers.  Prior to this book, I will confess that I had not given much thought to book jackets, other than what an annoyance they were at times, and what an inadequate book marker they made.

I came to these conclusions from past experience.  I have always been tough on my books, whether it was Make Way For Ducklings or Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  As soon as I could toddle, I always had a book in hand, or under my arm, or stuffed in a bag.  Books were and still are a constant companion.  And books that had dust jackets?  Well, let’s just say the dust jackets did not hold up under such cavalier treatment.  They were always torn, edges curled under and even folded.  I used them to mark my place when my real book markers had fallen out (another blog) or I had already dog eared too many other pages in that book.  This application didn’t work too well because  I would end up dropping the book I was reading, then the dust jacket would fall off and I would lose my place once again.  Sigh.  I was a librarians nightmare!

Later on in high school and early college years, I stopped buying hardback books with their dust jackets for the most part.  To feed my addiction for fantasy and science fiction, I started buying paperbacks because I could afford those in mass quantity (think Star Trek series) and book jackets became a thing of the past for me.  Oh, there were still certain books where I bought the “expensive” version but during this time paperbacks reigned supreme.

I still have almost every book I ever bought,  except those my daughter has absconded with (and they are many)! Everything from mysteries to fantasy to science fiction to romance.  All with marvelous covers and no book jackets.  And all the worse for wear because nothing had protected them from my abuse.  OK, that’s not completely true because I just came across a lovely handmade book cover a friend had sewn for me about 15 years ago.

Enter women reading erotica.  Some of the books my friends and I were reading had covers we were too embarrassed to be seen with.  Lurid covers or lurid subject matter. For some, it was those fabulous bodice rippers that featured Fabio or others like myself, it was The Story of O ,  Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus or others of that genre.  Whatever.  So a friend sewed these wonderful book slipcovers made of leftover fabric scraps she had around the house. Voila!  Freedom to carry the books we wanted to read where ever we went.  Freedom to read whatever we wanted outside the house.  We loved it and always asked her for more as gifts and for our own use.  Later, I saw them in a local bookstore.  Others obviously had the same idea and the same need.  Much later I used these same slipcovers when I started reading m/m fiction and didn’t want to have to explain the covers.  Then came eReaders and my Kindle.

I started with eReaders because as my eyesight worsened, I needed to be able to adjust the font size. Also, if I wanted to read my m/m fiction I needed to acquire eBooks as not all were available in print.  I started reading eBooks on my computer but as it is a desktop, reading in bed just isn’t the same or even possible.  So I finger skipped my way over to Amazon, bought my Kindle, and started a love affair that continues to this day. We have our ups (oodles of m/m books) and downs (the removal of some GLBT books from their inventory, since restored) but love it I do. Thanks, Yoda.

Soooooooooo imagine my surprise when recently I was watching my local Channel 4 (WRC) news and they did a segment on publishers of romance/erotica and the affect eReaders have on their sales.  The big news?  That more women are buying and reading erotica because of their eReaders.  That the sales of erotica have skyrocketed due to eBooks and eReaders.  Why?  The same reason I once had covers for my paperbacks. Freedom.  Freedom from embarrassment, freedom from questions, and freedom from others disapproval. This includes the freedom from comments such as “I think it’s disgusting that women are reading porn.”  That reaction came from a man stopped on the streets as a part of the segment.  Yikes.  But I will bet my favorite Adam Levine picture that same man has a Playboy or porn somewhere at his house. *shakes head*

Are eReaders the new cover jackets?  In a way.  The older dust jackets protected the covers and bindings of the books, kept them from growing faded or soiled.  The front cover of the dust jacket also helped advertise the story within, promoted the author and advertised the publisher. A printed book without its dust jacket loses its value, not so the eBook.

A eReader stores books electronically.  A eBook won’t fade, it’s bindings won’t break, and its pages will never tear. A eReader also functions in just the same manner as plain dust jacket or my later cloth versions did, it helps hide the book from sight and the judgement or derision of others.  Ereaders, whether it be Kindle, Nook or other device are here to stay and so are eBooks to the chagrin of some and absolute joy of others, including myself.

Have I given up my books in print?  No and I never will.  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I love a afternoon or day spent in a used book store trolling for treasures.  I love my bookshelves filled with old friends and adventures.  I love the way books smell.  Books are a true cornucopia for the soul, overflowing with feelings, textures, memories, and emotions.  My eReader doesn’t replace that, it just adds to it.  I no longer need my book jackets, fabric covers, or the anonymity that the eREaders offer.  But others do, if only to save them from derision and judgements like the guy quoted on the news.

So here’s to eBooks, eReaders, and all the authors (published or self published), and publishers.    For all the wonderful stories, all the great adventures, all the memorable characters in every genre under the sun and beyond. My thanks and a tip of the old wine glass to you.  I wouldn’t make it through the day without you. (And yes, I am thinking fondly of those book jackets.  I may have to go and dust a few off).

Book available from Oak Knoll Press http://www.oakknoll.com/bookimag/107173.jpg

Review of Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

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Rating: 5 Stars

At 26, Austin Glass appears to have it all. He’s a trust fund baby with a loving fiance. He drives fancy cars, wears tailored suits and is a decorated cop with his eye on advancement to the FBI.   His future is bright, shiny and planned out, including his rapidly approaching wedding.  Or is it.  Appearances are often deceiving, so the saying goes. And Austin’s glossy exterior hides a painful past,  bitterness and a self imposed isolation from all around him.

In a heartbeat, everything in Austin’s life changes the minute he spies a young man clearing tables in a dinner.  He’s supposed to be waiting for an informant but all he can concentrate on are the freckles sprinkled across the young man’s nose, red hair, and the tattered bunny slippers adorning his feet.

Peter “Rabbit” Dyachenko, wearer of said bunny slippers, is far older than his twenty years.  His life has been incredibly tough and traumatic.  Peter has done what he had to in order to survive, and its left its footprint on his back.  He’s no one’s fool and everyone is his target.  A case of murder and illegal aliens brings the two men together in a clash that forever changes each others lives.

Where do I start? Well, this story is just jaw droppingly good.  No,  it’s better than that.  It’s amazing. Its a stunning debut novel from Dani Alexander that blows you away from the very first sentence that introduces you to the world of Austin Glass.  Austin Glass is such a vivid, unique creation that he is on my list of all-time favorites characters.  The story is told from his POV, with dialog so amazingly genuine and realistic that I alternated laughing out loud with wanting to hit him on the head with a nerf bat depending upon his predicament, much like everyone who comes in contact with him.  Austin is sarcastic, whining, bitter, funny and good at interrogating criminals while antagonizing his fellow cops.  And his father, and his friends. His inner running commentary on his life and events is telling, the unhappiness seeping through as well as his recognition that all is not well in the state of Austin Glass.

Peter has him confused and off kilter from the beginning.  And you get it! You get it all, as Austin tries to cope with the demands of his job, his fiance, his perfectly laid out future with his increasingly obsessive need to see, to be with Peter no matter the cost.  And there is no doubt that it is going to cost him everything. There isn’t one false note here, nothing!  As Austin starts to unravel, you are right there with him on his emotional rollercoaster right to the shattering end.  And while it’s Austin’s voice in your head, all the other people circling  around his mental drainhole are just as authentic as he is. His fiance could be a one-dimentional obstacle in the way of love and happiness.  But Angelica is heartbreakingly real, and you feel for her as her future with Austin crumbles around her. I could not put this book down, often reading until 3am.  Then I had to go back over chapters the next day because I was too afraid I had missed something by being so tired.

This story has everything, laughter, angst, great characters, mystery, lots of bad guys, cartels, FBI, and hot m/m sex.  Oh, and did I mention a HEA?  It has that too.  But it’s the journey to get there that stays in my head.  I have been meaning to write this review for 2 days but I knew I was going to have trouble with it.  How was I going to keep from gushing? I don’t like to gush.  OK, I’m gushing.  And I always have a quibble or two…where are my quibbles?  Nada, zip, nothing.  And I can’t even say it’s too short, because it’s not.  It clocks in at around 450 pages on my Kindle.  Sooooooo……what to say, what to say?

How about brilliant, absolutely wonderful.  I always mention the publisher when writing a review so imagine my surprise when I learned it was self published.  Why are the publishers not beating this woman’s door down?  Shattered Glass and Dani Alexander deserve a much larger audience, as large as they can get.  So here is another drum banging out a call to all readers who love a great story.  Here it is!  Come meet Austin Glass and Peter Rabbit.  You won’t forget them and neither will I.

And my thanks go out to Chris over at StumblingOverChaos.  It is due to her that I have my copy of Shattered Glass and a new found obsession.  Way to go, Chris, and a thousand catnip toys to Chaos for this one.

Go to Goodreads for more quotes from Shattered Glass but here is a sample:

Shattered Glass Quotes:

“Do you know what I did to the last guy that called me Tinkerbelle?”

“Slept with him?”

Darryl was silent for a second. “After that.”
― Dani Alexander, Shattered Glass

“You’re rich, spoiled and used to getting your own way.”

“Not true. If I had my own way you would have kissed me and ridden me like a cowboy while screaming ‘yeehaw’.”
― Dani Alexander, Shattered Glass

Cover:  Dark and simple.  It’s good, fits in with the story but that is not Austin Glass, the suit is too ill fitting.  He wouldn’t be caught dead in a suit like that.  Available at Amazon, Smashwords, and Goodreads.