Saturday, December 23, 2017

Alternative Christmas Presents + "A Very UnCONventional Christmas"

If you just want the condensed Amazon review, you can get it here.

Originally, my plan was to re-post the review of the Christmas book, along with another review of a more recent Osborn book, but that didn't work out. So, this is the format we have.

In other places, I have discussed my aversion to Christmas, and the possible agents for change in the way I think about the holiday.

I was going to expand on that a bit now, but I changed my mind. I will mention that this morning, I read Old NFO's blog post, "One to think about," which is a very sweet Christmas story, with all the appropriate classic elements. I hope you will click on the link and read it, particularly if you want, or need, a bit of Christmas cheer.

In recent years, I have requested that anyone who wishes to provide me with a Christmas present should make a donation to those with real needs.Here are my suggestions for this year; I posted them fairly recently, but here they are again.

1. Walter Strickland & Vids for Kids. Walter Strickland is a former professional wrestler, now doing other things. For a great big guy, he has a very tender heart for kids. This year,  assisted by the people at Retro Rewind Collectibles and Games, he collected and donated video games for Christmas presents to kids who might not get anything else. The games have already been shipped, but the cost of shipping and handling required Walter to dip onto his household fund. If you can send him a few bucks via PayPal, even $3, it would help. Help a big guy bless some little people!

2. Andi Keenan Therapy Fund. Young wife and mother Andrea (Andi) Keenan suffered a stroke in August. Being a young and healthy person, she was not correctly diagnosed for two weeks, and treatment was delayed. They are paying for her physical therapy out of their own pockets, since they fall into that category of working folks who cannot afford insurance. Any donation will be helpful; as of the end of November, over $18,000 had been raised, with a goal of $25,000. The IRS taxes GoFundMe as income, so they are trying to raise enough to pay for the treatment and cover the taxes on the donations.

3. City of Refuge Programs.  Atlanta area outreach. No matter WHAT touches your heart, they have a ministry you can get behind. Job training. Housing for families in crisis. Providing educational support to inner city kids. Medical care. Just click on the link, pick ONE of the several ministry opportunities, and send them a few bucks. Or a LOT of bucks.

Now, here is the review of the book:

 The Division One Alpha Line is approaching Christmas, and there are some unusual circumstances.

One of the NON-unusual circumstances is the well-executed and witty cover, a comment I am inserting at this particular point because if i don't I'll forget it, and this whole word processing thing is just a fad. Why copy and paste to a better location, when it interrupts the flow of ideas? Or something. At any rate, the cover design is by one Darrell Osborn; I believe he and the author are known to take personal liberties with each other as a medium of exchange.

I hope you see what I did there, because that IS one of the unusual circumstances. Partly because Agents Echo and Omega are the top dogs in a pack of alphas, and perhaps for other reasons, there are nasty rumors floating around about the nature of their relationship. Since they both have history which prevents clear perception of relationship possibilities, they have not hurled themselves into each other's arms, and the filthy-minded simply refuse to believe that things are as they appear. She's gorgeous, they think, so he MUST be sleeping with her. And since he is sleeping with her, that MUST be the only reason she has the job.

Well, sorry to tell you nasty, nasty little creeps, but their relationship is held in check by the author.

So there.

In addition to the lies, rumors, and innuendo, Echo and Omega discover there has been a major security breach. Their first clue? Getting ambushed by children. Seems that the hottest toy this Christmas is a thinly-veiled Division One replica, with look-alike agent action figures, blasters, and so forth. And a movie is in production.

Oh, my! Who could be behind such a dastardly plan to expose the most secret of all secret agencies?

Yeah, well, the answer IS "bad guys," but I'm afraid I just can't get more specific than that.

Spoilers, ya know.

Nicely Tuckerized in the story are several figures who are Known Associates, and no damage is done to the reputation of any. Although: there is one scene in which the determination of one character to do a thorough job causes him to get repeatedly brain-bleached.

For the record, it takes place at a science fiction convention, which is the 'CON' hidden in the title. I've never attended one of those, but I have been to a large number of professional cons, and being brain-bleached is NOT, by far, the worst thing a behind-the-scenes person may expect.

Peace be on your household.

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