5 Interesting Links for 07-21-2017

Appropriation (Society)

I’ve been in the position of trying to explain cultural appropriation before, and it’s easy for me to get muddled, especially when the other person isn’t really listening. So, I give you a clear, articulate explanation not just of what it is, but also what it isn’t, and why the two are different.
http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/cultural-appropriation-wrong/

Tips (Publishing)

Twelve tips from a successful indie author about publishing. Continue reading

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Cask Strength by Layla Reyne

Cask Strength by Layla ReyneThis is the middle book in a gay male romance series that is one continuous story, so I can forgive the serious cliffhanger ending, especially since the main story of the book is resolved. Aidan and Jamie advance their relationship as well, though they are far from a permanent happily ever after as their situation is much too complex for a simple resolution. Each discovery seems to open up a bigger gulf between Aidan and Jamie. I’m still not keen on the explicit gay male sex scenes, but they are no more detailed than the straight sex scenes in contemporary romances, and the relationship struggles are very strong, as is the overarching story that carries through the whole series. It’s this that pulled me back into the series, and kept me reading through to the end.

The main story for this book brings up some complicated situations for both of them, though a bit more for Jamie as his past comes back to haunt him in ways he hadn’t really expected. The FBI arranges his cover as a coach back with the team he’d left, claiming career-ending injury rather than having his sexual orientation revealed. This decision led him to the FBI and work he loves, not to mention the only way he’d have met Aidan, but he didn’t realize how much he missed being in the thick of things in college basketball, something pickup games with his coworkers can’t provide.

There are unresolved issues with his first love as well, which tie nicely into both the romantic and professional tangles. It’s this more than anything else that brings Aidan’s situation to a head. Aidan is terrified of letting Jamie in only to lose him the way Aidan’s married died with his husband. He’s pretending their connection is casual sex when both of them know that’s not true, but Aidan refuses to admit it. Meeting the man who held Jamie’s heart before points to the risks he’s taking in pushing away the one man who makes Aidan whole again.

The story dovetails with the overall series plot in several ways, but none more pressing than Jamie’s decision to withhold damaging information from Aidan until he’s uncovered all the facts. It’s a matter of timing, and timing is rarely with the two of them.

Like the first book, there’s tension on both professional and personal sides. I found this one more balanced as far as the random hooking up because it didn’t seem like everyone, male or female, was on the make. Most people were going about their business, legally or illegally, and while the emotional connections were critical, they were more realistic, showing an improvement over the first book.

Ultimately, this is how I found myself reading a gay male romance series. The story is strong, the relationship crises feel real and are never simple, and it both points to the dangers homophobia creates while demonstrating how a relationship is a relationship regardless of the gender mix involved. That, plus well-written characters and a strong family connection made me not want to see the end of this story just yet, despite having decided to pass on the later books. Had I held to that decision I would have missed some solid storytelling.

P.S. I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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5 Interesting Links for 07-14-2017

Production (Coins)

This is a fun look at the minting of Canadian coins, with an interesting tidbit of countries outsourcing their coin production, something I’d never heard of.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-150/how-the-canadian-mint-is-giving-foreign-producers-a-run-for-theirmoney/article34997174/

STEM (Education)

A chemistry professor speaks to how a pure focus on STEM will diminish the creativity and innovation in scientific fields while producing students who lack the skills to communicate their results. It’s important for students to have a firm grounding in humanities to excel in the sciences. Continue reading

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Structophis by Joseph R. Lallo

Structophis by Joseph R. LalloI grew up on the Scooby Doo cartoons, and sure, they weren’t great literature, but there were a million reasons I kept watching. I’ve never read a narrative that invoked the same response until now, but Structophis definitely has it. Sure, the novel has a bit of an over-the-top mad scramble narrative with the evil, immoral villain who “our heroes” must outwit to save the day, but it’s so much more than that.

Markus is a post-college drifter still trying to find his purpose in life. Gale is an enthusiastic overachiever who is struggling to meet the requirements for a doctorate in the veterinary study of the aptly named pizza dragon, or the Structophis gastrignae. This means she brings a concrete element to Blogette in exploring and correcting the current understanding of pizza dragon physiology and behavior. She also helps guide Markus through the steps required after imprinting. Continue reading

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Things That Make Me Smile No.125: Digital Coloring

The eagle I used for Pondering Patriotism came from a coloring app I discovered for my phone. The Mandala below is another one.

I love coloring, and find it meditative, but doing a complex picture on paper, and making sure the pencils are sharp enough to get the tiny spots, is annoying. This app offers the satisfaction and fun of coloring complex designs while minimizing the frustrations between the ability to zoom and being in my pocket whenever I feel like adding a little more.

It’s not perfect. The process of selecting the primary colors you want to use is disconnected from the color pallet, making finding the specific colors a bit of a pain, and though it has an undo button, I couldn’t find one for erase, but its virtues definitely outweigh its faults, so I thought I’d share it as a smile. Enjoy another of my coloring designs:

Colorful Mandala

If you, like me, love coloring but lack the patience required for the pencil and paper method, you might want to check out the Mandala coloring app. Who knows? It could inspire you to branch out into full-on digital art. Or it may inspire you in different directions. I remember watching one of my kids using a similar program years ago that inspired a short story because of how he filled in every space with black until the image vanished altogether.

If you do try it and post your coloring online, drop a link into the comments here if you’d like so we can admire your results. http://appstore.coloringkidsclub.com/?app=com.color.mandala

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