Monthly Archives: April 2019

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : Grave Peril

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
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Amy Caudill‘s review

Misdirection, a ghost with the power to cause and control nightmares, and attacks from multiple factions in the supernatural world makes this third installment of The Dresden Files the most exciting adventure yet.

Something has stirred up the ghostly denizens of Chicago, leading to frenzied attacks on unsuspecting living residents.  Harry Dresden, modern day wizard, with the help of Michael, one of God’s Knights of the Sword, is working overtime to put out supernatural fires and save innocent lives from assaults the average citizen can’t even see.

When a mysterious entity, dubbed “The Nightmare,” is able to enter homes uninvited and undetected, against all rules of the paranormal, Harry has more suspects than answers.  Something is attacking Harry’s friends, and Harry himself, and the clues lead to a sorcerer named Kravos whom Harry and Co.  defeated months ago.  Only Kravos is locked up by the Chicago PD, or is he?

While all this is happening, Harry is also on the radar of a major player in the vampire court, Bianca, and in trouble with his faerie godmother, Lea, over a bargain he made in a life-or-death situation.  Plus, when the Nightmare attacked him, it stole a large chunk of his magical power and gained the ability to impersonate him.   Harry may be in more trouble than he can handle this time.

I’ve read several of Jim Butcher’s novels and collections in the past, but this is the first time I have read through the series in order.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how the relationships between different characters, especially that of Harry and Susan, have developed, and already am aware of a major upheaval coming for them in future books.  I’m also looking forward to seeing how Harry’s relationships with other characters, friends and enemies, continues to change, as many of the major baddies/allies/rival powers survived to come after Harry again.

Overall, this book is the best of the series to-date, and a good choice for any reader who wants their paranormal detective story with a side of mayhem and romance.  I give Grave Peril five stars and recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

 

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Happy Earth Day!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  I spent my weekend catching up with family, relaxing, and eating far too much food!

Today is worldwide Earth Day.  While this is not a holiday from school or work it has a very important function; Earth Day is a day set aside each year to raise awareness about our most important resource-the planet we all call home.  This year, The Earth Day Network is focusing on the preservation of endangered species.

Deforestation, pollution, climate change, and unsustainable agriculture are all contributing to the destruction of native plant and wildlife populations.  For more information on what species are in danger see the link here:Fact Sheet: Global Species Decline

What can we do to help?  Simple things, such as recycling, planting trees, and supporting the efforts of global organizations such as The Earth Day Network can truly make a difference, and help to save our world.

For more information about this organization and what its goals mean for each of us, visit their website here: Earth Day 2019

Let’s all do what we can to make a difference!

She Has A Name (Guest Post)

Hello, everyone.  Today I am introducing my daughter, Heather, who would like to share with you some information about a service organization she volunteers with that helps victims of human trafficking.  Take it away Heather!

Hello everyone!  My name is Heather, and I volunteer with a local anti-human trafficking organization in central Ohio called She Has A Name (SHAN).  I’m here today to give you an quick introduction about the major social justice issue of human trafficking.

A definition of human trafficking according to SHAN:

“This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will.  In general, human trafficking is a form of slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.”

As mentioned above, this is a form of modern-day slavery, and is also one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world.  There are 2 main reasons people are trafficked: sex and labor.  People are forced to do these things against their will, all for someone to gain a profit.

And the truth is anyone from anyone demographic in any country can be affected.  There are tens of millions of people being exploited worldwide, usually having their vulnerabilities used against them.  No one is perfectly safe from being a victim, although some people at more at risk than others, but there can be ways to lower the risk as well.

This organization does its job to spread awareness and conducts quarterly anti-human trafficking trainings (for general information) and trauma responsive care trainings (for how to interact with survivors), but there are a plethora of organizations helping to spread awareness and take care of survivors at every stage of their journey.

Heather at SHAN
Heather and one of her fellow volunteers taking a break at a function for SHAN.

Ways you can combat labor trafficking:

Consume consciously and shop ethically, sustainably, and organically.  Research companies and products before you support them.  One of my favorite things to do is go thrift shopping; you can find some amazing finds for a great deal by recycling clothes.  Also, you can help by advocating and raising awareness about this issue.

Ways you can combat sex trafficking:

Educate yourself.  Sex trafficking can commonly be seen in the form of pornography or prostitution.  If you see something, report it.  You could save a life or help end the suffering of another human being.

I strongly encouraging every single one of you to take a step towards eliminating human trafficking.  If everyone contributes, we can slowly but surely make a huge impact.  And don’t worry about doing this perfectly all at once; it takes small, committed steps to make lifestyle changes to help make the world a better place.  So go ahead, research organizations, companies, and products and see how you can make a change today.

If you suspect trafficking or see anything out of place, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or text BEFREE to 233733.

*factual information obtained from She Has A Name

For more information or resources, go to: https://shehasaname.org/

A Taste of Spring

Warmer temperatures and the arrival of early blooms leave me eager for the first trip of the season to our nearby Farmer’s Market, where the freshest produce, locally grown, is sold by the crate and pound, and with a little extra effort can be prepped to provide my family with delicious dishes all year round.

I’m planning to pull out the last of last season’s blueberries later today that I washed, froze and placed in freezer bags in two cup amounts, to add to a spring/summer dish that has become one of my family’s favorites.  I’ll want the space in my freezer for my next trip to the market, but really any day of the week and any reason is a good excuse to make this delicious dessert.

Why don’t you try it for yourself, with whatever fruit you have available, or can pick up at the grocery store if you don’t have a farmer’s market at hand?

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Hot and bubbly, fresh from the oven; an afternoon well spent in the making!

Berry Crisp

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

5 cups of fresh or frozen berries, any combination of blueberries, blackberries, and/or raspberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 ¼ cups packed brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup cold butter or margarine

Vanilla ice cream, for serving

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit). Grease a 8-inch square or 2 quart glass dish with baking spray
  • In a 3-quart sauce pan, mix granulated sugar and cornstarch. Add berries and lemon juice; toss until evenly coated.  Heat to boiling over medium-low heat.  Boil 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Spoon berry mixture into baking dish.
  • In large bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over berries.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Mixture will thicken if allowed to cool slightly.  Tastes best served warm, with ice cream as desired.

 

I hope you all enjoy this little recipe, and have a great week!

Amy

Amy Caudill’s Reviews : The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, #1) by

Theodora Goss (Goodreads Author)
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Amy Caudill‘s review :

Mary Jekyll, soon after the death of her mother, receives from the latter’s lawyer a number of papers belonging to her father, who died under mysterious circumstances when she was a child, as well as details of a bank account making payments on behalf of someone named Hyde.  Mary recognizes the name as one of her father’s former employees, who was accused of murder and disappeared around the time of her father’s death.

Suddenly left destitute, she takes the information to Sherlock Holmes hoping to claim a reward for the capture of the elusive Hyde. What she finds instead is a previously unknown half-sister, along with more questions about her late father’s involvement with a group called the Société des Alchimistes, or the Alchemist’s Society, that conducted sinister experiments in the name of science.

As she investigates, both on her own and with Holmes, she begins to gather a most unlikely group of acquaintances; young women who, like herself, are the daughters, and sometimes test subjects, of this group of mad scientists.  In addition to Diana Hyde, the fourteen year old wild child; there is Beatrice Rappaccinni, whose breath is literally poisonous; Catherine Moreau, a young woman who began life as a puma; and Justine Frankenstein, the incredibly strong but gentle giant of a woman.   Together these young women will face dangers that would have most men quaking in fear, and ultimately form an alliance of their own, The Athena Club.

The author of this book used a most interesting device, of having the “characters” chime in from time to time, helping with the narration and arguing how best to tell the story.  I found it rather humorous, having various characters argue with Catherine, the supposed writer, but these interruptions assisted in further developing the relationships between the various cast, and bringing to light the story that was being told as if it happened in their not-too-distant past.

This book did contain quite a bit of world-building, as this is the first book in a series, but what a world!  Each character, a “self-proclaimed” monster, tells her own story of her father’s experiments which led to her own creation.  The setup of all these backstories, however, prove to be integral to the plot of both the book and the series, as much information is uncovered that leads to the circumstances of the “current” murders, taking place in White Chapel, a.k.a. Jack the Ripper.  The resolution of the Ripper cases are somewhat secondary to the plot, though, as the ladies and Sherlock agree, the “stranger than fiction” crimes cannot be shared with the public, for the danger it would present to the group.

Though there are elements of the paranormal in this novel, and despite the players, this is not a horror story, but rather chronicles the beginning of a most unusual “club,” the victims and survivors, even if they themselves and others might call them monsters.  I award this book four stars, and would recommend it to any readers who love strong female characters, especially those from the Victorian era, as well as fans of Sherlock Holmes-style mysteries, paranormal stories, and urban fantasy.