Michaeldgriffiths's Blog
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Jan
09

There are two types of people in this world, those who walk toward the UFO and those who run away.

Which are you?

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I bet you can guess the type I am.

Okay, okay, let me back up a little bit. If you read my last post, you know I spoke on how I was going to focus on serious facts and issues and get away from personal adventures and philosophies…. ahhh, well maybe next time, this roll of the dice involved a random roadtrip driving my daughter, her two cats, everything she owns, and Greg the camera man, opps I mean wrap master seven, to her new home in Ukiah California.

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As I jack in at the Iron Door, which is California’s oldest tavern, I look back on how we reached this isolated mountain town hours off the beaten path and decades away from the manic highways and flashing lights which promise convenience and luxuries which would have been unimaginable when the builders of this tavern laid down their first stone in 1852.

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Grey owned the skies as we left Tucson for points north, well one point really. Vegas baby. Joshua Trees and lead colored clouds fought for our attentions as Phoenix led to Kingman. With the new road bypassing the Hoover Dam. we arrived two hours earlier than I’d told my Gangrel buddy, John, I’d be showing up, so we decided to hit a small tavern/restaurant/casino.  I figured it’s a little rude to show up someplace, half starved.

After the bartender, Jewels, laughed at Greg for thinking he needed to smoke outside, “Were you people from?” she asked, as we sat at the bar, ordered a few apps, and put 20$ into the machines, and got our free drink. Thirty later, we had the former, but had finished the latters. Feeling the need for one more chance, and another IPA, I give the machine another try. I kept staying alive with trips. “Trips for the trip, but I gotta get quads.” My compatriots looked on over slices of cheese pizza, while both my mug and my twenty were drained down to their dregs.

The bartender, looked over and she took a little pity on me and said, “You’re still playing hun, you stayed alive just long enough for a final ale.” As she set it before my, by credit read zero. A pair kept me alive. Another trip and then… 4 fucking ACES. 200$ later we left the T/R/C/ and met my Stalwart ally and his family and bounced a bit through Vegas dodging salesmen and junkies. Quote of the night.

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Trender salesmen: “You like cologne, right?”

John: “Not at all. My wife’s lucky of she can get me to wear fucking deodorant.”

But then we had a problem. In her quest for proper planning, Kat had reserved a hotel on the fair side of the Sierra Nevadas. This would have been 100, if the roads over the range which trapped the Donner party hadn’t been snowed out. She knew the cats would be the first to go, if we got stuck, so she offered to cancel the room, but the hotel said, no.

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John said, “15 to the 5 and you’re done.”

“And drive through Bakersfield,” I replied, “No way!”

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Instead we tour through Death Valley and yellow cliffs mixed with storms dumping more snow onto the mountains in the far distance. Looming over the jagged desert planes, the white capped mountain ranges divided half the state and blocked us from our multiple goals. But to the south, one pass was rumored to be open. We heading toward it burning through the desert miles. Desert became forest, which was later edged with snow, as I drove onward through hundreds of miles of endless turns, twists, and cliffs. After a titanic effort, we made it to a place with two lanes, but as the sun set, we had to once again press into the mountains to make it to our hotel. Hell, if we were going to toss away over a hundred bucks just to pay another hundred bucks to spend a night in Fresno.

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Which brings me back to the Iron Union, but we aren’t done yet.

Now we are, but arriving in Ukiah is only half the quest. Employed, but with two cats and no where to stay, we need to set my girl up with a place to keep her out of the driving rains. Damn, I hope Greg can sell some of his necklaces so we can go back to the brewery…

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Jan
04

Well yeahhhhh, I have not picked up the mantel of WildernessPunk for a half a year. I feel somewhat remiss over this, but also justified, for I’d rather shut something down than risk becoming a hypocrite or just blurt out theories or lifestyles changes I’m not willing to engage in myself.

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The original mission statement of WildernessPunk was the fun idea of traveling through and living in the wilds of the USA (Wilderness) while creating the funds to do so by writing and other e-commerce (Punk). Although this proved an interesting Idea which gave me the motivation and time to comment on our current lifestyles, while gaining the perspective to do so by taking several steps out of it.

Yet, for all its strengths, it remained just the tale of one person and in a small regard, the discussion of what I was able to do, which most people reading would not be able to follow or at least not easily.

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Instead, I’d like to open WildernessPunk to be less an exploration of one man’s journey through modern nonsense, which causes destructive lifestyles, and more of a ‘I’m living in a home like you, surrounded by others, but what can I do to make the world a better place.’ Wildernesspunk will also mean stepping outside of norms (Punk) and offering more extreme solutions than you’ll see the mainstream present. These will be explored with the end goal of protecting the environment in mind (Wilderness).

Please though, let’s keep in mind, when I say make the world a better place, I’ll be more focused on the world itself, and less concerned with the human needs of the people living through this stage of history. I know people are important and we have a hard time making changes without us feeling we’re getting a payoff, so I’ll be sure to keep this in mind. In general, however, I’m more interested in saving the lands, plants, and animals for future generations than insuring the people flowing through this eyeblink of history get coddled.

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But we must also come to terms with the reality of the situations we live within. Humans are the ones killing this planet and are also the only being who can save it. Thus, since it is up to humans to do the saving, we must jump into human systems (politics/popular opinion) and help steer all of us toward a philosophy with physical technics which will insure this planet’s continued survival. In this sense, as much as I hate to do it, at times, the human experience must be reviewed, evaluated, and graded.

This will not be done in a news anchor style, pushing us two degrees in one direction or the other. This is WildernessPunk after all. Extreme times call for extreme discussion and changes. This can be done. We possess the intelligence and funds to solve all the world’s ills, we just need to have the willpower and passion to do so.

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People talk about climate change, what we need is a climate change within us. This is what we require to evolve into the next stage of humanity. People like Trump are a horror, but they don’t elect themselves. Trump doesn’t scare me as much as the millions of people out there who still support him. Millions of people who would do anything to make another dollar and care little for anything outside of their own limited experiences.

There is no need to preach to the converted. Instead let’s help wake up the people who’s lives are built on lies and educate even the best of us how we can each push ourselves to build a world where our great grandchildren will still have the opportunities to walk through the wild areas of the planet, breath clean air, and live with the satisfaction they aren’t part of a species which destroyed their own planet.

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In order to do this, I intend to focus more on the practical methods of keeping the Earth alive as opposed to the philosophical. I imagine I’ll let go with a few rants, cuz well, it’s me, but getting worked up over the dinner table isn’t going to be enough. So please look forward to learning how average folks, like ourselves, can step up and make a difference and join the process for making our world a better place, because in the end, isn’t this what we’re all about.

Thanks for listening.

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Dec
21
Image result for The Third Thaw by Karl J. Hanson

 

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  E.L. Marker

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating:  2.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

 

The Third Thaw by Karl J. Hanson came out this year and is a Science Fiction novel set in the not so distance future. In this tale, Earth is going to be hit by an asteroid, so the USA and Germany send human embryos to a far flung star to insure the continuation of the human species.

Advanced robots help birth and then raise the children. The USA team is set to have four ‘Thaws.’ Each thaw is a group of less than a twenty individuals who are spaced out five years from each other. The third thaw is set to head to the German camp once they turn twenty-one as were the previous two Thaws.

 

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After years of preparation and training, the Third Thaw heads through lands filled with sail back dinosaurs and dangerous man eating fish. They eventually reach the German camp and find them a friendly group, with only one unfinished mission and this is to find a missing team who went after a super computer which landed five hundred miles away. Luckily in this primitive world, they have bi-planes and with three Americas set off to find the missing team.

This novel is more of an exploration into how colonization of a new planet could work than the story of the people who do so. The Point of View sort of jumps from omnipotent to person to person as the author sees fit. The people oscillate between living primitively to building planes and four wheel drive trucks. Character development is set aside to focus on the micro details of engineering. In many ways this seems more like an author picking everything he is good at and writing a novel to illustrate all he knows, instead of telling a story. There are good parts, but the characters are flat and no action takes place until the reader has passed through a third of the book. Even then, there are only a few doses of action within the novel, which mostly concerns a lot of happy people, who all get along, and build this new world in fast forward.

If a reader would enjoy exploring the nuts and bolts techniques which would be used to construct humanity on a new planet, this might be the book for you. If action or strong characters are you passion, I would steer clear of this one.

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Dec
19

As we reach the close of 2018, the legal walls appear to be about to close in on Trump as the Democratic Congress gears up to spank him harder than Stormy Daniels. 68% of votes in this country believe Trump is a lair and 38% think he’s worse than Voldemort.  But what about all the positive things he’s done? What are these, you might ask, besides giving a lot of FBI agents loads of overtime money so they can buy extra presents for these kids? Well gentle reader, sit back, pour some eggnog and enjoy the…

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Top Ten Positive Trump did in 2018

1. He proved 90% of Punk Rock songs correct.

2. Let us know what percentage of Americas are either morons or evil. (About 1 in 3)

3. Put a face on evil, which we can now use to help teach children what to avoid

4. Almost made George W. look good

5. Trump gave heroes a monster to oppose

6. He’ll give comedians material for decades to come

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7. Kids needed a new Bogey Man

8. Hey, at least one part of the bible is true, we did get an Anti-Christ

9. Destroyed any attempt for Republicans to delude others by claiming to have honor

10. Allowed me to soak in the knowledge so many of my unorthodox theories have now been proven correct

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Dec
15

General Reader Note: This is a summary of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign which started in February of 1999.

A Quick Imdomitables Summary

In February 1999, in one of the first RPG Winter Games, a group known as the Imdomitables was born. They started in the small village of Louden. Through the years they lost many of their fellows until currently only Viagra, Ben, and Linguisa are all who are left. However, over the years other heroes have joined the group and grown mighty over time, such as, Fugulos, Poncheto, I-Fling, Clego, Nictus, Hose, Craven, and of course Woe Tinglebrow.

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Over time they grew in strength and importance. They gained power until they landed in the capital and became the “to go to” team for King Oledan. They helped defend the capital against the Invincible Overlord’s army of Orks which was nearly 300,000 strong. After gaining the Sword of Chaos and acquiring aid from strange heroes from another world, the fight, which would later be known as the Battle of the Drawl, Dragon, and Queen, they beat the Invincible Overlord and drove his army back into the mysterious plans of Odull to the northeast. With Lawful Evil weakened, the Chaotic Evil Displacer Cult, who appeared to be followers of the Demon Lord Pazzuzues, grew in power and in both the Capital and elsewhere clashed with the Indomitables in dozens of battles. In more recent times, King Oledan had the Imdomitables exploring the mysterious new lands which appeared to the north. They discovered Chaotic Evil controlled the Northwest, while Lawful Evil maintained their control of the Northeast, with Pure Evil claiming the territory due North.

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The Hex War 2018

Upon returning from their exploration into the regions of Pure Evil to the North, the Indomitables discovered a bizarre contest originally called the Quad War. This contest , between Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, Pure Evil, and Chaotic Neutral would have four stages.  The stages are Mist, Wind, Ash, and Dust. During these stages the city is divided into different sections where each alignment seeks rule and their colors cover the city in Mist, Wind, or Ash. During the final stage, Dust, the winner of this contest would be crowned the new king of Oledan.

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During each stage, every side of the conflict would send a representative.

Stage 1: Mist – Scouts (These were 6th level)  

Stage 2: Wind – Lords (These were/are 9th level)

Stage 3: Ash – Avatars (These were/are 13th level)

Stage 4: Dust – King (Unknown)

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During Mist 2 Scouts would have to die to progress to Wind. During Wind 4 players had to die to progress to Ash. During Ash 6 players would have to die to progress to the final stage… Dust.

At the outbreak of the Quad War, Dalsala Den and Mackel, two powerful Displacer Mages Magickally sent the floating castle of the Imdomitables into the Odull desert over the Overlord’s army. This left only a few less experienced adventures to investigate and influence the Quad War. They did, however, kill the Pure Evil Scout. Chaotic Evil then ‘cheated’ by forcing a 6th level neutral thief to join the war, and then promptly killed him, which sent the contest into Wind.

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Hearing of this cheating, the Indomitable, Viagra spearheaded a sixth team, Lawful Neutral? Thus the contest is now known as the Hex War! After being again Displaced to the Pure Evil city Sarnath, the Indomitables finally arrived in the Capital. Viagra quickly led an assault and crippled the Lawful Evil team, by killing both their Scout and Lord. The team attacked Chaotic Evil, but during the attack, the Chaotic Neutral Scout Spiral was killed. The dug in and well prepared Chaotic Evil, killed their own scout to hurry the game into stage 3 ASH.

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Six Hex War deaths was all which separated the final contest for the crown of their ally King Oledan, so the Indomintables took on the strongest team, Chaotic Evil. Instead of controlled buildings, they found a dungeon dug under the city. During the fierce battles which took place, five Indomitables died, Including the Neutral Lord Phobeus. They killed their old enemy Count Evalan, who was the Chaotic Evil Lord and an assassin Avatar of Chaotic Evil, Blank Slate, but not before he killed Phobeus.

During this conflict, a vengeance filled Avatar Mage of Lawful Evil, killed the Viagra’s Allies, the Scout and Avatar of Lawful Neutral. This leaves all the scouts dead, only 3 Lords living, and 4 Avatars still drawing breath. However only one more Hex War player needs to fall before THE FINAL STAGE, DUST, Will Begin!!

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Notes:

The Indomitables have learned:

  1. The teams can not have the same class in more than one stage. So for instance, since Chaotic Evil has had a Mage, Cleric, and Assassin, they know the Chaotic Evil ‘King’ can not be any of these classes.
  2. There is also a rumor that each group must field at least one female team member. If this is true, both Lawful Evil, Neutral, and Chaotic Evil should have a female still showing up.
  3. No one is sure about how someone will become King, but it is assumed they must eliminate each other and then the final winner will kill Oledan.
  4. Gambling on the games has reached new heights and fortunes are being won and lost with every move the teams make.

 

The Climax of the HEX WAR will begin February 15th!!!

So please consider being part of this games 20th Anniversary

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Dec
10

Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin

Genre:  Fantasy

Publisher:  Image Comics

Published: 2016

Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin came out on my birthday last year and is an exciting new exploration into one of the oldest recorded tales in Europe. Beowulf has enjoyed multiple artistic, literary, and movie interpretations. This new version is a more creative and artistically loose. They let their imaginations expand the horror as well as the triumphs of the great Viking Beowulf.

If you are somehow not familiar with this classic myth, it revolves around the Nordic hero Beowulf. The king of the Danes is under an assault from the horrid monster Grendel. No blades can pierce this beast, and nothing can stop it. It can kill a dozen men a night and race away with anything it chooses.

Beowulf and his spearmen arrive to slay the beast. Weapons do little to stop him, so Beowulf tears off the unholy thing’s arm. It flees back to his mother who is an even more powerful creature. Beowulf then enters her domain and fight a larger creature on its own tuff. Beowulf later insures his entrance to Valhalla by purging the world of a fearsome dragon.

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This graphic novel takes you through these battles in an epic manner. Often small imaging within large boxes paint the tale on multiple levels simultaneously. The monsters are intense and fantastic. The action is fierce. Perhaps best of all, it follows the myth well and the authors do not feel the need to try to ‘improve’ a story that has survived many millennia.

This is an impressive work and if you enjoy graphic novels, I do not think this would let you down. In parts the action is a bit muddled. Beowulf is also a bit nasty looking and appears more ruffian than hero. Maybe I just always expect to see Vikings with beards.

If fantasy action and graphic novels are things you enjoy, you should give this a chance.

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Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin i

Nov
30

Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant

 

 

Genre:  Science Fiction

Publisher:  Sky Forest Press

Published: 2018

Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant is a science fiction novel set in the not too distant future. Limited nuclear attacks and other wars have placed the earth in grave danger to the point where something must be done if the life on this planet is going to survive. Sarah is forced to be part of this solution which will involve gladiators replacing soldiers. These competitions will decide disagreements between countries instead of destroying the environments and costing thousands of lives.

 

Sarah and her teammates from the United States had no choice and were forced into being members of the team. Sarah is a thrill seeker, but no soldier. Quite the contrary, she is insecure and shows the primary sign of schizophrenia, which is hearing voices. These voices constantly put her down and tear her apart. These feeling of uncertainty only increase when she discovers she is to be the team leader of USA.

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Despite being a disorganized gathering of individuals, under Sarah’s leadership, the team gets serious, begins training, and maps out the giant multi-level arena. They win their first match which gives them greater confidence and resources. The first match was just with paintballs, but when Sarah is then informed, she will be required to be in battles where she is forced to fight to the death, the mood changes and everyone realizes these are not just games, but a life and death situation they have found themselves within.

Sarah must juggle missing her husband with the tensions of needing support while surrounded by men she is attracted to. She also develops allies amongst the other teams and moves into a position where team USA has the strength to not only take this competition seriously, but to excel not only for themselves but their country. But mixed with this is her personal conflicts, including her mental illness, and her continued self-doubt not just in herself but her ability to keep the teammates she leads alive.

This is a strong novel and would have gotten a higher grade from me if it were not for a few, at least in my opinion, flaws. The first glaring one is the voices. As I stated, this is one of the primary signs of schizophrenia and this illness is not some piecemeal thing which just pops up and can compartmentalized. When you have this mental illness, it destroys your life. I understand this is just a literacy device, to map out Sarah’s uncertainties, but I think a little more research should be conducted before using this as a writing tool. Also, Sarah goes from being an untrained insecure young woman to an unstoppable fighter with little flaws. I like normal people becoming heroes, but to go from uncertain to perfect seemed a bit of an extreme change. Lastly, simply put, the idea of gladiators fighting instead of armies is more than a bit cliché. Sometimes I wonder how much genre reading new authors partake in before they start writing their novels.

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These flaws aside, this was a strong novel. I think Casavant took a promise which could lead to nationalist or racist situations and handled them well. I was glad to see none of this in the novel. She also did a great job developing Sarah and many of the other characters. I read this novel quickly which is always a good sign. I wanted to find out how this would work out for team USA and their allies. There were even a few tear-jerking moments which are also hard to pull off.

Wolf Smoke is an entertaining novel and a good absorbing read. I would recommend it to younger readers who like the Hunger Games and such novels. I also think most lover of action-packed science fiction would enjoy this one, I know I did.

 

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Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant i

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Wolf Smoke by Poe Casavant ii

 

Nov
29

By December 2018, a greater number of people are looking at this outdated pagan festival, turned into a greed vortex, and doing a double take. Sure, most of us love our families and friends and don’t mind tossing them some presents. Great meals and gathering under decorations and lights are fun, but why do we have to do it in the name of some sixth generation watered down bronze aged myth from Iraq? Why, when 1 out of 3 individuals in the USA aren’t Christian and less than half actively participate this outdated myth, is this still a thing? For many, this part of the year is one long scratch of fingernails on the chalkboard and here are some of the reasons why…

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Top Ten Reasons Christmas is a Drag

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  1. Because it’s based on imaginary bullshit
  2. Ah… Christmas carols
  3. Jesus keeps trying to butt into Santa’s gig

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  1. When is an obligatory greed considered a good thing?
  2. It predisposes children to believe in ridiculous flights of imagination like Santa and a divine Jesus
  3. It distracts us from the Winter Solstice, you know the holiday Christmas stole
  4. Hey, I got a great idea, let’s think of a reason for about 50% of the world’s population to all travel somewhere else at the same time
  5. People with epilepsy are screwed
  6. Because it’s so flipping Christian
  7. And it happens every year

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Nov
26

dracula Cha Cha Cha

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Genre:  Vampire Horror

Publisher:  Grinning Skull Press

Published: 2012

Reviewer Rating:  4.5 Stars

Reviewer:  Michael D. Griffiths

 

 

Dracula Cha Cha Cha by Kim Newman is a horror book, but really should be considered a vampire adventure novel. Although it does have several scary moments, it is more of a Dark Fantasy action tale. I must tell you I really enjoyed Newman’s continuing exploration into a world where vampires are the heroes as well as the protagonists.

The story follows several vampires, with one breather in the mix, as they prepare for the undead wedding of the century where Dracula is to marry a princess outside of Rome. If this wasn’t enough, a mysterious slayer of vampire elders is stalking the streets of Rome and seems to be trying its best to take out every elder who arrives before they have a chance to make it to the lustrous wedding.

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With the help of others, Kate, a vampire reporter, is trying to track down who is killing the elders before the killer can strike again. As she moves through the danger and mystery which is building toward the climax of the wedding, she discovers the killer might be something far older and more powerful than the elders flocking to Dracula’s nuptials.

This book is inventive and fast placed. The author mixes character development with action quite well and leaves us hoping the better vampires make it through the dangers lurking for the unwary and wary alike in the ancient streets of Rome. I also liked how historical figures and events were liberally sprinkled through the novel.

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If you enjoy vampire fiction, this should be something you should track down right away. Not too much to poke with a stick here. How the tool of the killer became so powerful is a little unclear. One might think elder vampires would be a bit harder to put to dust. Still, making elder vampires as easy to kill as a common person gives them the higher layer of humanity, which mortality gives us all.

Again, if vampire fiction and adventure is something you enjoy, these books by Newton should be a must. Step aside Anne Rice, Newton’s intense characters mixed with intrigue and action could leave readers saying, Lestat who?

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Nov
19

By November 2018, a greater number of people are freeing themselves from the plagiarized bronze aged myths of the middle east than ever before. While turkey can be cooked in more different ways than you might imagine. Have you tried deep fried, damn, it’s fantastic? So, would you rather wrestle through a dozen stores while listening to endless carols and empty out your credit card online or sit with the people you love and enjoy a Bacchanalian repast? I’ll let you muddle over your own thoughts while I outline the…

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Top Ten Reasons Thanksgiving is Better than Christmas

 

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  1. It’s cheaper.
  2. There are no Thanksgiving carols.
  3. Giving thanks for the joys in life is a universal concept opposed to the sixth attempted to rewrite old Persian myths.
  4. You don’t have to wrap anything.
  5. For the US, it is our own holiday instead of the goat herders guide to the universe from 10,000 miles away.
  6. Jesus is so needy.
  7. Instead of exasperation and worry over presents, give people a slice of pie and they’re happy.
  8. There’s less to cleanup.
  9. Thanksgiving doesn’t need a mascot to be awesome.
  10. Turkey is better than bullshit.

 

 

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