Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

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This month has been a sorrowful one for my family. On my birthday (12/12) we lost my grandma. We are gathered together today to celebrate the family we still have and to remember those who came before to teach us the importance of cherishing every moment. Not many can say they got to spend 40 years of their life with a grandparent, and for that I feel extremely blessed. My grandmother was a woman always ready to share a humorous story, with an open heart who loved being  ‘mom’ and ‘grandma’ to anyone willing to let her bring them into her life.

Though it is with a slightly heavier heart this year, I want to wish all the friends I’ve made here a very Merry, Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year! I hope the holidays bring you lots of love, family fun, laughter and warm memories with those who mean the most to you.

And here’s a virtual toast to 2018 being much kinder to all of us!

❤ A.C. Melody

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Penny Dreadful

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In Victorian London, the term “penny dreadful” was used as derogatory slang for all the horror stories that were published as weekly serials and cost…yep, 1 penny. People love the Victorian era, we even have an entire Steampunk culture dedicated to it. But romanticism aside, coal pollution, consumption and corsets weren’t the only things suffocating the masses during those times. Excessive personality oppression was the norm; emotionally, behaviorally and especially sexually, and the people needed some kind of outlet for all the things they weren’t allowed to mention in proper society – lest they wanted a lobotomy for being “hysterical.”

Disease and poverty grew as rapidly as the new inventions or scientific and medical ‘breakthroughs’ which gave the creative types more than ample fodder for their caged imaginations. And the literary world benefited greatly from it! Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll & Hyde…all of our favorite horror classics (which tend to have strong, sensual undertones) were penned during the Victorian era and Penny Dreadful covers almost all of them.

Not the serials – the TV Show I just totally binge watched on Netflix and now have a massive hangover from! Have you seen it? Well, I don’t usually rush out to encourage others to watch TV shows, especially one with only 3 seasons, but DO IT! Do it now!!! It wasn’t “cancelled” as many shows are. It doesn’t leave you hanging, it’s a story and therefore has an end, but each episode is an hour long, so it covers quite a bit.

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Characters L-R: The Creature (Frankenstein’s Monster), Ethan Chandler, Brona (aka Lily Frankenstein), Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray, Sembene. Back: Victor Frankenstein and Dorian Gray.

For those who’ve never seen it or heard of it, Penny Dreadful is what would happen if The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had wild, fetishist sex with Sherlock Holmes and The Exorcist, then gave birth to the slightly less evil twin of Game of Thrones. If you love everything paranormal, classic horror literature or Victorian, you can’t miss out on this little gem, even if it’s short and often disturbing (or because it’s disturbing! LOL) fans of this twisted genre will undoubtedly love it.

If you do decide to watch it, just keep in mind that it’s called Penny Dreadful for a reason – actually, for every possible reason you could think of. This show is extremely graphic and covers a lot of taboo topics and practices. It’s not a romance…or is it? Just like those classic horror stories, that will be up to the individual to decide in the end.

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And can I rave about the cast? Joshua “Delicious” Hartnett (Nuff said), Eva Green (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper (Rose from Doctor Who!), Patti LuPone, Wes Studi (Dances with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans) and a whole list of other actors and actresses that I’m less familiar with, but were no less brilliant!

Now, to whet your appetite…

This was the official trailer for the premier of Penny Dreadful. It is 100% graphic and not for sensitive eyes! Watch at your own risk:

I do not own any rights to this video or its content. All rights remain with the producers, studios, actors, networks and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

Does anyone have any similar shows they would recommend, I’m currently devoid of binge-worthy options! O_o

#ThrowbackThursday

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WISTFUL

 Stars aloft

Stars alight

I wish all day

I dream all night

To kill that bastard

Oh, delight!

To kill him dead, just for spite.

⚔️ ~

Originally posted February 14, 2014

Was that my ode to Valentines day? Your guess is as good as mine, I can barely recall my motives from five minutes ago, let alone 3 years. LOL However, anyone who’s ever attempted to play Alice: Madness Returns can surely feel my homicidal pain. I still haven’t beaten that game!

To The Strongest Woman I Know

Mom,

Have I ever told you what a remarkable person you are? I should have said it long before now. You should know how unique and outstanding you truly are. I want you to set aside everything that brings you doubt, and listen to what I have to say. I love you and though you may not see it, you have played a major role in the person I am today. All the parts of me you’re so proud of and endlessly support, you don’t think you had much of a hand in, because we’re so different. But I’m here to tell you that is was YOUR example that paved the way for the adult I turned out to be.

I see you giving me that skeptical look. Just keep reading…


First – and this is for all readers – my tribute of gratitude was inspired by This Amazing Post Right Here – a touching article about tolerance and the fight for equality for ALL humankind. Please take a moment to read it, like it, share it, draw your own inspiration from it, whatever it takes to keep it moving and growing.


Now, you’re wondering how I got from there to here? I’ll explain.

Author Jean M. Cogdell shared a memory with us in her post about the moment her remarkable mother planted the seeds of tolerance within her and I was immediately touched, drawn in by my own upbringing. So, I began to leave a comment and that comment, instead, turned into this post–because I realized that the person I should be saying all of those things to, was the very woman responsible for them: My mom.

Let me tell you about my mom. She’s a force to be reckoned with, wrapped in a genuine hug. A second generation American born to Irish immigrants. She grew up in Chicago during the Civil Rights Movement and Race Riots that tore that city, and too many others, apart. She was verbally and physically attacked for having friends from the ‘wrong’ side of the segregation lines and for refusing to leave their sides. She didn’t care what anyone said, she knew that everything happening around her was WRONG!

There has never been a time my mother has backed down when she’s seen someone being mistreated, and she can’t be cowed into thinking or believing anything less than what she knows in her heart and soul to be right. She has literally taken a fist to her face to protect others – not just once or twice – not just in Chicago – this has been a lifelong stance for her. She will not stand by and watch someone else being abused when she knows she can do something to try to stop it. That is the core of my mother. Her biggest strength is her integrity, her unyielding sense of right and wrong, and the enormous heart she offers to everyone, without prejudice.

My mom never had to use her words (though, let me tell ya, she did!) to teach me about tolerance, to instill her moral compass within me – she led by example. She showed me that every last person on this earth deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, compassion and dignity. That our opinion should be based solely on an individual’s actions, nothing else. Not race, background, beliefs, nothing.

Mom, I know you feel like you’re not doing anything special, nothing someone else wouldn’t do – but you really are, and you always have. It takes courage to stand up for others–for strangers–to never stop being who you are or fighting for what you know is right. You’re the bravest, most true-to-self and strongest person I know. I’m proud to be your daughter. I admire and look up to you, and I thank you for laying down the examples you did for me, that I was able to pass them on to my children. I know they will pass these examples on to their own kids (way, waaaay in the future), and with each new generation, your influence will help tolerance and compassion for the HUMAN race gain more ground – something this world still desperately needs to see happen.

Thank you, Mom.

 Love, your ever-grateful daughter.

Readers, if you comment, I greatly appreciate it! But even if you don’t, I still hope you find some inspiration here or in Jean Cogdell’s post. We’re not helpless or hopeless, and every new generation reveals a larger capacity for tolerance and compassion. Like our parents before us, we have to empower the up and coming, to keep change in progress rather than the massive, violent regression we witnessed this past week. With enough nurturing, we might one day see hate crimes and bigotry become subjects of history, rather than headlines in the news.

inFAMOUS Second Son ★ A Review

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Why yes, that is the Space Needle you see in the background, thank you for noticing. Do you know how awesome it is to play a game set in your home territory? Awesome! And long overdue, since Sucker Punch Productions is based in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. It was also a huge surprise, considering inFAMOUS was set in the fictional Empire City (based on New York), and inFAMOUS 2 was set in the equally fictitious city of New Marais (fashioned after New Orleans). However, the Seattle in Second Son is not the real Seattle, but I won’t spend all post pointing out the differences. Though I was sad not to see the famous red Pike Place Market sign in the game’s skyline, it was still a total blast to play…twice.

Who, What, When, Where and Why?

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inFAMOUS 2’s Cole MacGrath vs. inFAMOUS Second Son’s Delsin Rowe’s Karma

Just like its predecessors, Second Son is a Karma based game (this is why we play it twice). There is the Infamous (evil) game play and the Hero (good) game play, only Sucker Punch one-upped their own style and added a few more ways your choices affect cut scenes and the way your interactions go with friends and family. That was a nice touch.

The title Second Son seems to apply not only to the fact that we’re now playing a whole new character, but a whole new kind of conduit. It’s also a nod toward the original inFAMOUS, which dealt with the secret society, the First Sons, though this is never referenced or mentioned throughout the entire 3rd installment.

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Delsin’s first weapon of destruction

Who: Delsin Rowe, a much younger and more carefree protagonist than Cole MacGrath, who was always broody and, albeit hot for a game character, needed to stress less. Delsin is pretty much a juvenile delinquent that likes to tag, has funny comebacks and is a member of the Akomish. Washington has 29 federally recognized Native American Tribes, we’re a state overflowing with tribal culture, traditions, art, namesakes (why no one can pronounce our cities or towns) and not a single one of them is the Akomish. This is a made up name – but, with real tribes like the Snohomish, Suquamish, Samish and Skokomish, I suppose Sucker Punch found it a plausible – if not more phonetically appealing – name, without risking possible legal issues.

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What: Brooke Augustine (referred to only as Augustine) and her government-sanctioned D.U.P. (Department of Unified Protection) idiots.
When: 7 years after Cole’s final chapter in New Marais.
Where: Salmon Bay and Seattle, Washington

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Why: Conduits are now labeled as Bio-Terrorists and treated as such by the government and populace with equal prejudice and fear. In short, an escaped convict tries to use Delsin as a human shield, but Delsin ends up leeching his powers just by touching him, thus revealing himself as a conduit…er, bio-terrorist. When Delsin can’t answer any of Augustine’s questions, she reveals herself as an evil conduit and uses her ability to render most of his tribe incurably injured. This happens, regardless if you choose to turn yourself in (good) or sacrifice the tribe (evil). Despite NO conduit ever having the ability to wield more than one power on their own, Delsin has the brilliant idea that he can leech Augustine’s powers, too and save his people. In other words, it was in the script, so we’re off to Seattle…

Highlights

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A lot of the inFAMOUS features we love (just me?) are carried over into Second Son. Again, you’re given the choices between good or evil reactions/actions at just about every turn. A plethora of side missions (colored red for evil, blue for good or yellow for neutral/D.U.P. related) make your trek through an enormous city far less daunting – especially, given there are no grind-wires between rooftops like Cole always got to use. You spend a lot of time chasing down ‘blast shards’ which are now inside of little drone helicopters all over the city, so you can improve your powers and take in the scenery.

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The graphics were amazing, and I was so happy this game was available on the PS4 despite originally coming out for the PS3.

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One of my favorite features (psychiatrists will have a field day with this) was the ability to completely destroy most of the D.U.P.’s structures, barricades and walls all over the city. Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a fan of the color yellow? No, you don’t get extra cool points, it’s just fun! Another add-on not featured before was the ability to ‘unlock’ different jackets for Delsin to wear. Whattaya think? I might have to get this one below in my size.

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The absolute #1, best feature of this 3rd inFAMOUS installment, was the fact that Delsin was right – he is special – and has the ability to leech multiple conduit’s abilities. inFAMOUS 2 kind of introduced this with the “Power Transfer Device” which Cole uses to gain the powers of either Nix or Kuo, depending on if you’re playing evil or good. SP kicked this WAY up a notch, introducing a total of 4 powers Delsin gets to have and switch between by the end of the game. Of course, Delsin’s smoke is going to be the main ability used the longest and upgraded the most. Even after playing the game all the way through twice, I never found any other ability as effective against defeating enemies faster, with less chance of dying, than when using Smoke. But, here’s a look at all 4:

Smoke, is the 1st ability Delsin gets thanks to the escaped bio-terrorist convict, Hank. Hank will play a larger role in the storyline later on, as well.

Neon, is the 2nd ability Delsin gets and the one you’ll use the most outside of smoke, if for nothing more than the ability to run faster than the speed of light through the city. Did I say grind wires between rooftops? Boooorrrriiiinnng! Del gets his neon ability from another escaped bio-terrorist who calls herself Fetch, though her real name is Abigail. First you have to catch and then defeat Fetch, before you can use her powers.

Video, is the 3rd ability Delsin gets and suddenly all of those satellite dishes atop every rooftop makes perfect sense! While it’s a little badass having digital angels and demons come to your rescue and the ability to fly, or feed yourself through the airwaves – it just wasn’t that effective of a power against enemies. Like with Fetch, Delsin has to first find, then defeat Eugene in order to gain his powers.

Concrete, is the final power Delsin gets and it is also at the very end of the game – so, if you finished all of the side missions prior to this, there’s really no reason to keep playing other than to see just how far you can upgrade your new abilities. While I liked the concrete better than the video, it still never became my go-to power when up against a swarm of D.U.P. soldiers and their merciless machine guns.

Downsides

The annoying as hell sidekick: In InFamous, we had the insufferable chatterbox, Zeke, who was like a man-child unable to let go of his glory days, while simultaneously suffering from cock-envy. In InFamous 2, Zeke was far less annoying, but then we got sidled with Nix and Kuo, who were like the angel and devil on Cole’s shoulders – the living embodiments of his good and evil choices – but at least they were passionate and believable in their personalities.

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In Second Son, your A.A.H.S. is Delsin’s older brother, Reggie – the sheriff for the Akomish – and about the most prejudiced character I’ve ever had to listen to for that many hours. All of the characters in S.S. were rather flat and didn’t evoke any emotion from me. Delsin at least had witty comebacks and when he goes evil, he doesn’t go halfway. The lack of characterization in this game was further amplified by the pathetic dialogue. There was no depth or even likeability – especially, for Reggie. That was just a bad character all around. I got more emotion out of the conversations we had to find the right signal to eavesdrop on from the faceless, nameless D.U.P. soldiers. Yes, that was another downside. I wish I could’ve made Delsin throw that damn walkie-talkie off the roof a thousand times.

Final Conclusion

Aside from the horrible dialogue and flat sub-characters, inFAMOUS Second Son was still a kick ass game that introduced many more conduit abilities and harder to beat enemies. Hell, even just defeating Fetch and Eugene – who end up becoming your friends – was extremely tough! I loved that the amount of side missions were both plentiful and different than inFAMOUS 1&2. The only one I didn’t care for that much was the tagging. It was just kind of a blahzay thing you had to do to clear the areas.

What did I miss? Believe it or not – I missed the public throwing rocks! LOL In inFAMOUS 1&2, if you were evil, you had to dodge bad guys AND mobs of pedestrians who would throw rocks at you, even as you were scaling buildings. In Second Son, they cheer and crowd around you when you’re good (so irritating when you’re trying to move fast) but they scream and run from you when you’re evil? C’mon, Sucker Punch! Where’s the passion?

With all that said, I’m not sure I would play another inFAMOUS installment, unless the character depth could be reintroduced into the storyline. Second Son was fun. inFAMOUS 1 & 2 were epic. Something got lost in between…

Currently Playing: Rise of a Tomb Raider slowly, but surely. So far, I’m on the fence…it’s bound to be an interesting review when I’m all done. 😉

All images were found on the internet and I do not own any rights to them, the story, game or characters mentioned in this post. No copyright infringement intended.

 

We’re in a Magazine!

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Yep, that’s Avarice up there in the top right hand corner! 🙂

In all honesty, I completely forgot that I had even submitted for this months ago, so it’s not really a surprise to me, but it’s still exciting to see the results at last!

Indie Authors Monthly is a brand new e-magazine and best of all it’s Free & chock full of Indie resources, helpful articles, author spotlights and yes… even AWESOME ads (like Avarice!) 😀

I was given this opportunity through the Goodreads support group: Navigating IndieWorld Discussing All Things Indie. This is truly an amazing and supportive group for Indies and they’re really open to collaborative blog events, self-promoting and their discussions are endlessly insightful! Plus, the atmosphere there is very friendly and welcoming. Best Selling Children’s Author, Carole Roman is one of the group mods and she is frequently offering amazing, can’t-find-anywhere-else promotional opportunities – Like stuffing your printed books into the swag bags at Hollywood Awards Shows and running ads on Podcast sites.

My books don’t qualify, even if they were in print, no S-E-X allowed in the grab bags!

If you’re not already a member, I highly recommend the NIW group and they have a new website where they advertise Indies with their own author pages, and love getting guest blog articles!

#AuthorsSupportingAuthors

♫ ♪ “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…” ♪♫