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  • M. Ottati "Rosario's Reading Journal (http://... - Best I've read so far this yearThis was an incredibly wonderful book. I'd already heard some buzz going about it, and some people mentioned enjoying it, but I hadn't really expected it to be so great.

    So, how great is it? Let me just tell you: I spent this past weekend at a spa, and I actually stayed in my room for an extra hour after lunch in order to finish the book. So it was great enough to make me give up an extra hour of being pampered in the spa in order to finish it. That good! I give it 5 stars.

    STS is set in an alternate universe, in which Earth is populated by three different species of men and women. There's the humans, there's the changelings (shape-shifters who can change into a certain animal) and there's the Psy. I'm not 100% sure of how exactly the Psy differed from humans and changelings originally (maybe because of their psychic abilities?), but their difference as the book starts is very clear. They don't feel. At all. I'll let the author explain it herself. From her website:

    "In an effort to reduce the overwhelming incidence of insanity and serial killing in the Psy population, the Psy Council decided, in the year 1969, to instigate a rigorous program called Silence. The aim of Silence was to condition young Psy from birth. The aim of the conditioning was to teach them not to feel rage.

    However, the Council soon discovered that it was impossible to isolate that one emotion. In 1979, after a ten year debate over the millions of minds in the PsyNet, it was decided to change the aim of Silence. Its new mission was to condition young Psy to feel nothing. Not rage, not jealousy, not envy, not happiness and certainly not love."

    As the book starts, it's 100 years after Silence started aiming to suppress all emotion, and the different species coexist pretty peacefully. But that's in danger of changing, because there has been a spate of killings of changeling women that the other changelings have discovered were committed by a Psy.

    The last woman taken was from the DarkRiver leopard pack, and its alpha, Lucas Hunter, has barely managed to stop an outright war between Psy and changelings from erupting. He's managed to keep the other packs in control by promising he'd discover the culprit and then they could punish him. In order to do this, Lucas needs an opening into the very closed Psy society, and to do that, he has initiated a business deal with the Duncans, a very influential family among the Psy.

    Sascha Duncan, who's assigned by her powerful, Psy Council-member mother to oversee the deal, is a woman with a huge secret. Unlike the rest of the Psy, she feels. She always has, and she's spent all her life hiding it and building defenses so the other Psy won't notice. Lately, though, she's been feeling more and more out of control. She suspects it's a matter of time before someone realizes what's wrong with her, and she fears she'll be sentenced to a fate she considers worse than death: rehabilitation, a kind of mind-wipe.

    When Sascha meets Lucas, things become even worse. She is so powerfully attracted to him, that she feels herself going out of control even faster. As for Lucas, his attraction for Sascha is just as strong, and he's just as conflicted about it as she is. How can he be feeling such warm feelings for one of those cold Psy, someone who might even know the identity of the murderer and be covering up for him? Surely that feeling that there might be quite a lot behind the icy façade might be just that, a feeling, even if his leopard insists its instincts are right about that...

    That's all I'm going to say about the plot. Suffice it to say Sascha and Lucas' initial adversarial relationship soon becomes one of the most convincing and beautiful romances I've read lately. It's got it all, both sexual tension so thick and hot it will curl your toes (and the pay-off! Those love scenes, oh, my!), and a lot of feeling behind it.

    You know how, in books where the hero and heroine start out as antagonists, often you don't really understand how they get from that point to falling in love? Well, that's very definitely not the case here. The change in the relationship between Lucas and Sascha is very gradual and natural, especially the change in Lucas' attitude. There was always a certain tenderness and protectiveness in his feelings about Sascha, but at first it was tempered by mistrust. That mistrust slowly lifts in a way that feels perfectly believable, and only the good feelings are left.

    And Sascha! It was a beautiful thing to watch her slowly become more and more comfortable with all the different and powerful things she's feeling, and to gradually open to Lucas and the rest of the Pack. I just loved the development of her relationship with the other changelings, those scenes were just as affecting as the scenes with Lucas.

    The universe in which the story is set is fascinating and complex, but Singh makes it easy to understand and to follow. She gives us exactly the right amount of information, neither so much that it bogs down the story, nor so little that the world-building feels half-baked. It's just enough, even though it includes some tantalizing hints about stuff I would have loved to know much more about. I think the reason it worked so well is in that you got the feeling that the author had thought about all this stuff, that if we're not being told about something, it's because it'll either be more developed in the future or because they're not relevant and would only clutter the story.

    The next book is set in the same universe, and I really have to commend the author because at no time did any scene feel like sequel baiting. She did introduce quite a few interesting and well-drawn secondary charactes, any of which I would be very interested in reading about in a future book, but none of them were parading around, waving placards reading "future hero here". Authors, take note. That's the way it should be done!

    The only negative I could find in STS is that the ending felt a bit anticlimactic. After the big final scene there's a longish bit that, though really needed to close certain things and give us a HEA, felt a bit too slow.

    But this is just a very tiny niggle. On the whole, STS was pretty much perfect!
  • Catfish Mammy - Foamy DiarrheaThese darn pills be da work of da Debil! They done give me da runs! Good Lawd it be like foam flyin outta my bottom!
  • silver cuspidor - Bomb Proof. Very happy with our choiceWe bought this car seat for our newborn daughter. As first time parents we were worried about every consumer choice, and did a lot of reading on safety records and reviews of infant car seats. The Peg came out as the clear leader...with a hefty we opted for the last-years-model to save money and keep peace of mind regarding safety.

    - This car seat is bomb proof. We don't mind the weight. As one other reviewer mentioned, it is heavy for a reason.
    - Side impact protection is still not standard on other car seats, making the Peg Perego with the 'SIP' an industry leader.
    - I love the neutral green and other colors offered.
    - All of the fabric is easy to remove and reattach for laundering - as we have had to do several times due to voluminous spit up.
    - The seat has an incline meter to show you if you have installed the seat at the correct angle.
    - Our daughter is comfortable in the carseat, even when cinched in quite tightly.
    - It rocks! No...I mean, literally it has a rocking base for easy foot rocking while at a restaurant or elsewhere.

    - For safety, the carseat is a bit more upright than some of the other models, meaning that the baby is in less of a sleeping posture in the car. Sometimes her head flops forward because of this. She doesn't mind, but it looks awkward.
    - You need to use both hands simultaneously to push the side buttons to move the handle. It would be LOVELY if this could be a one hand operation.
    - We recently did a plane trip and had to use the carseat in taxis and friends' cars without the base. It is awkward to use the carseat alone with a seatbelt and is difficult to adjust correctly.
  • Music Lover - Soul SurferA review of Soul Surfer

    This story is about Bethany Hamilton, a teenager who lives in Kauai, Hawaii and loves to surf. She was attacked by a shark on Halloween morning while trying to catch a wave.

    One morning, Bethany decided to surf with her best friend Alana Blanchard. The water was crystal clear until she saw a flash of gray, a split second later, her left arm was bitten off by a shark.

    Then all Bethany saw was that the water around her turned bright red. She had so much blood coming from where her left arm once was. She didn't cry and she stayed calm and paddle back to the beach. Then she got rushed to the emergency room

    They caught the shark a few days later. After the guy caught the shark they killed it. She thought her surfing life was over. But later she worked on getting back into the water and she went outside and surfed. Bethany did exercise like she would lay on her board and act like she was swimming but with one arm, she would run on the treadmill, and she would move her stump around in circles.

    I wanted to read this book because it seemed interesting. Also I wanted to read the book before I watched the movie. I would recommend this book to ages ten and up because I think they would like it, because they might like reading about sharks and surfing.

    I liked it because it was a good story to read and somewhat sad. It was a good story because she got attacked by a shark and didn't cry then managed to get back into the water and now she has finished finals and finished in the nation championship final.