Dog Days of Summer and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Canis Major Dog StarHere it is mid – August and the Dog Days of  Summer are almost over.  I know many of you have heard the term but do you really know where it came from?  I know that some of you are looking at your four pawed companions panting away the summer heat beside you, whether on shared walks or just sitting together in the backyard. One look at how the heat is affecting them, and I am sure you think “ah, dog days indeed.” But to understand where the term Dog Days of Summer, you must look to the sky.  The night sky that is and the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star above (no, we are not talking about the Sun right now).

Osiris

The Egyptians called Sirius the dog star after their god Osirus, whose head in pictograms resembled that of a dog.  In Egypt, and in ancient Rome, Sirius was in conjunction with the Sun in the summer (ie. it was up in the sky at the same time as the Sun) and ancient Egyptians and Romans argued that it was responsible for the summer heat by adding its heat to the heat from the Sun. Those in ancient times called the period of time from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction “the dog days of summer” because it coincidentally fell at the time of year when it was very hot.

The Dog Days of Summer start around July 7th ( I have also seen July 3rd at the start date as well) and runs until August 18th, normally the time in the Northern Hemisphere when it is the hottest.  It is the time we head for the beach, the air-conditioning, anywhere but the office.  It is also a great time to catch up on your reading and make headway on your “to be read” pile. Here are some books and one great series (Wicked’s Way by Haven Fellows) that you will want to add to the list.

Monday, Augusts 12, 2013:                   Nischal by Bailey Bradford

Tuesday, August 13, 2013:                     Wicked Incarceration by Haven Fellows

Wed., August 14, 2013:                           Wicked Guidance by Haven Fellows

Thursday, August 15, 2013                   Guest Blog by Haven Fellows

Friday, August 16, 2013                          Fall For Me by Ann Lister

Saturday, August 17, 2013:                   Home Sweet Home by TA Chase

Sirius

I will leave you all with two quotes about the dog days of summer.  Both perfection in tone and ability to paint a portrait of this time of year.

“Sophia and Grandmother sat down by the shore to discuss the matter further. It was a pretty day, and the sea was running a long, windless swell. It was on days just like this–dog days–that boats went sailing off all by themselves. Large, alien objects made their way in from sea, certain things sank and others rose, milk soured, and dragonflies danced in desperation. Lizards were not afraid. When the moon came up, red spiders mated on uninhabited skerries, where the rock became an unbroken carpet of tiny, ecstatic spiders.”
― Tove Jansson, The Summer Book

“The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.”
― Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

A Touch of Fall and The Week In Reviews

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So you know that certain color of blue that only appears in the fall skies?  That is the color of the sky outside this morning.  The air has a certain crispness about it, so foreign usually in August here in Maryland.  The light is shining at a different angle, portending the coming fall and the promise of colder weather.  I even heard a flock of Canada Geese this morning, honking as they flew overhead in the largest formation I have seen this year.  What does it all mean?  Probably nothing.  But as I love autumn, I am sure that my step is a little lighter this morning and the dogs a little bouncier on this day that seems so full of anticipation.

So I will be gathering up knitting, Kindle, dogs and my coffee and heading outside to bask in the light of a fall to come.  I cannot tarry inside for I know how fleeting such days are.  Here is the week ahead in reviews and a mini rant on story resolutions.

Monday, Aug. 5, 2013:                    Dance Only For Me by Megan Derr

Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013:                    Wicked Solutions #1 by Haven Fellows

Wed., Aug. 7, 2013:                           Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbons

Thurs., Aug. 8, 2013:                         Wicked Bindings #2 by Haven Fellows

Friday, Aug. 9, 2013:                        The Beast Without by Christian Baines

Saturday, Aug 10, 2013:                 Wait? That Was The Ending? A Story Writing Mini Rant

Review of Synchronous Seductions Trilogy by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 4.25 points for each book and the series overall

Synchronous Seductions is a trilogy of stories about three men,their group of friends and co workers.  In the first story, Harlan’s Ryde, one man wants desperately to regain the lover he cast away years ago. The second, Emery’s Ritches,  one man finds his love staring back from a photograph on a co workers mantel, and finally in Geoff’s Teddy, just when the one man has given up his dream of finding the perfect bear to love,it  he finds him, supposedly straight and working for his boss’s boyfriend.

Harlan’s Ryde Synchronous Seductions #1) found in Word Play anthology:  Seven years ago, Ryder Holloway walked away from Harlan Mychals, making the most momentus mistake of his life.  He told Harlan he didn’t love him, that he cheated on him and with that threw away the only man he would ever love, threw away college, dumped his life in the garbage and left town.  Now he is back, pulled his life together, and wants Harlan back too. Harlan has never recovered from his devastating break with Ryder and doesn’t trust that Ryder has changed.

Ryder does everything he can to get Harlan to see him, listen to him, including breaking into his house to leave messages. When Harlan accidentally puts Ryder into the hospital, can Ryder’s convalesce  and his nursing skills give them both their chance at true love.

This short story has it all.  Lovers reunited after a long time apart, intense characters and marvelous dialog.  In the beginning I wanted to swat Ryder with a noodle but as the layers to his character start to peel away, you see the insecurities, and poor self image that set him on a destructive path to begin with and you start to root for him instead.  I loved these characters and wanted them to find their HEA as they so readily deserved it.  So I was thrilled to find that I would see both of them again as the series continued with the great secondary characters introduced here.

Emery’s Ritchies (Synchronous Seductions #2): Ritchie Lymings has just finished dropping off his best friend and secret love interest, Harlan Mychals at Ryder Halloway’s house. Harlan and Ryder have reunited after 7 years of misunderstandings and pride kept them separated.  Ritchie also tried to keep Harlan from letting Ryder back into his life but love with a capital L brought them back together and now Ritchie is wallowing in a world of self pity, made worse by the fact that he never liked Ryder to begin with.

As he mopes into his coffee at a nearby shop, a stranger barges into his pity party and asks to sit at his table offering to make him smile. Ritchie is unaware that the stranger is in fact Emery Hawkins, Ryder’s boss and friend.  Emery has listened to Ryder talk about Harlan and his best friend Ritchie for five years, so much so that Emery has become intrigued by the man Ryder refers to as “the infuriating twit”. Then Emery saw a photograph of Harland and his best friend on Harland’s mantel and he couldn’t stop thinking about the man in the picture. Now  coincidence has  brought Ritchie to him and Emery has never been one to let an opportunity go by to get what he wants.

Again Havan Fellows gives us a wonderful story with a heart of snark!  That would be Ritchie Lymings, snappy dresser, sarcastic manner and a loyal friend. Fellows’ characters are a simpatico bunch, fully realized and totally human.  We first met Ritchie as Harlan’s best friend who saw him through the worst time of his life and we agreed for a while with his viewpoint of Ryder as human pest.  But now we see that Ritchie also loved Harlan and did what was best for his friendship.  All Ritchie’s redeeming features are hidden under a caustic veneer but upon meeting Emery, Ritchie has more than met his match.  For every wall put up by Ritchie and sneering comment he makes, Emery comes back with a plan to break down the wall and has the last word in their arguments until Ritchie finds himself succumbing to Emery’s seductions.  It is such fun to watch the  courting of Ritchie as Emery finds he too must make some adjustments in order for their relationship to succeed.

A real relationship is a juggling act between two people and their baggage.  In this case, the men are constantly reminded of their past because of their close circle of friends, includes some of that “baggage”.  Havan Fellows understands relationship issues and the sometimes painful journey you must take in order to have a successful one.  We watch Ritchie and Emery  do the relationship dance.  Two steps forward and one step back.  Throw in some hot sex, a little frustration, wonderful dialog, and great characters and you will find yourself nodding and thinking “yep, that’s about right,” and then start laughing.

A lighthearted, fun romp that also introduces us to Geoff, Ryder’s smart, small assistant with an attitude much larger than his stature. Geoff is looking for love and finds it in the final book of the trilogy, Geoff’s Teddy.

Geoff’s Teddy (Synchronous Seductions #3): When Geoff’s boss,Ritchie, makes up a false dinner meeting to get out of a date with Emery, Ritchies makes Geoff come out with him for appearances sake.  But Emery has Ritchies number, and Geoff’s too when he “accidentally” stops in at the same restaurant, his employee in tow.   Emery has brought along Teddy “Fuzzy” Beough,  pronouced “boo”, to take Geoff home when Emery wisks Ritchie away for the night. But that is fine with Geoff because  Teddy is everything Geoff has always wanted.  Teddy is hairy, huge, in fact he is a downright gorgeous bear whose nickname just happens to be Fuzzy Wuzzy to Geoff’s unholy delight. He has a sense of humor about himself and they ended up talking for hours. Too bad Teddy says he’s straight.

The lightest, guffaw inducing story of the trio, you can tell Havan Fellows was laughing the entire time it was being written.  From the twists and turns of Teddy’s name (I will not spoil the entire beauty that is his full name for you), to his introduction to gay sex and Geoff’s meeting with Fuzzy’s parents, it’s one laugh after another.  Don’t look for angst here, there is a brief whiff and its gone.  Fuzzy thinks he is gay because he chose the path of least resistance, at least for him.  Girls were ok, he just can’t sustain a sexual, romantic relationship with one.   And then he happens upon cable at Geoff’s apartment and much, much more to complete his epiphany.  I don’t think that makes Teddy/Fuzzy gay for you, perhaps bisexual at least.  Teddy is simply Teddy, a very accepting, non judgmental person open to all possibilities, including the fact that he might be gay. Geoff is more than happy to demonstrate the ABC’s of Gay Sex or as he calls it Gay Sex for Dummies.  Everyone should have such a teacher.

Whatever you wish to name it, it is happy, it is fun and it leads to much more.  This story is just a delight.  Wonderful, fully layered characters having a great time in a fun romp on their way to true love. In fact, the entire series is like this.  Don’t miss it.  Everyone needs a good, heartwarming laugh.  Here are three.

Cover Artist: Victoria Miller

While it is helpful to read these stories in the order they were written, it is not necessary in order to understand and enjoy the books.

The Series Order is:

Harlan’s Ryde  (Synchronous Seductions Series #1) – found in the Story Orgy anthology Word Play

Emery’s Riches (Synchronous Seductions Series #2)

Geoff’s Teddy (Synchronous Seductions Series #3) available July 20, 2012 from Breathless Press.

Olympic Games, the Week Ahead in Reviews and The Michelada Cocktail

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So many things going on to talk about today.  First let’s get right to the Olympics.  Closing ceremony is tonight, bringing to an end one of the best Olympics I can remember.  I have been glued to the television watching this incredible spectacle unfold from the beginning, from the high drama of the swimming pools and gymnastic mats to the cross country course of the Equestrian events to the river and glistening rowers then to track and field, and all the sports in between.  So many athletes, so many stories, so many tears of sorrow to match the tears of joy.  How not to feel a part of something bigger, to feel connected to other nations and nationalities when you see people cheering the athletes on regardless of the colors they wear or the countries they represent.  Oscar Pistorius? Who wasn’t cheering that man on?  Some of my favorites? Katie Ledecky, Misty  and Terri, Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis, Michael Phelps, Gabby and the rest of the US gymnastic womens team,  Misty Franklin….so, so many.

And what will the closing ceremony look like?  Who knows?  After the dancing nurses and their twirling hospital beds, massive shrubbery moving, the Tor, and best torch ever, I am waiting in anticipation to be confounded, baffled, and touched beyond measure.  I know we will all be watching it together.

I am also going into this week with a working generator (dances for joy) so once more I am able to enjoy the rumble of thunder, the darkening skies, the sound of pounding rain for their beauty and music, secure in the knowledge that a storm no longer equals loss of power, food and appliances!  Take that, Pepco.  Now only if I could send you the bill.

Finally, Monday brings my review of Stars & Stripes, the latest in the Cut & Run series from Abigail Roux featuring Ty and Zane.  So many people were trying to download their pre-ordered copies at midnight on the 11th that they crashed the servers over at Riptide Publishing.  Wow.  So was the wait worth it?  Read my review on Monday.  So here is what the week is looking like in books:

Monday:                                Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run #6) by Abigail Roux

Tuesday:                                Synchronous Seductions Trilogy by Haven Fellows

Wednesday:                         Inertia (Impulse #1) by Amelia C. Gormley

Thursday:                             Brook Street: Thief by Ava March (rescheduled from last week)

Friday:                                   Mending the Rift Series by Valentina Heart

Saturday:                               Word Play Anthology by the Story Orgy authors

And finally our summer cocktail of the week. The Michelada, perfect for grilled foods and watching Olympic closing ceremonies!

The Michelada

Ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon piquin pepper
1/4 teaspoon salsa picante
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) can Mexican lager, chilled

Garnish: lime wedge

Directions:

In tall beer glass, stir together pepper sauce, salsa, lime juice, salt, and lager. Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

Happy viewing and have a great week!