The Seichi Journals: Hitting a Wall

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:26 am
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Posted by Deborah J. Ross

Seichi at the dog park

Sometimes we embark upon a new adventure with all the good will and skill in the world, and it just doesn’t work out. The time may be wrong, or the clash of personalities may be overwhelming, or unforeseen, insurmountable problems may arise. This is as true for adopting a pet as for marriage, employment, or any of a host of other life changes.

When last I wrote, we had adopted Seichi, a 4 year old German Shepherd Dog, likely purebred, from a local shelter. She was young and bouncy, but intelligent and eager to please. She’d just been spayed, too. For the first few days, Seichi was subdued. Then both the delightful and exasperating aspects of her personality began to emerge. Playfulness, yes. Smarts by the bushel. House manners… not so much.

Very shortly, we realized she wasn’t potty trained. Three accidents (all on carpets that now must be professionally cleaned) later, we embarked upon a puppy protocol. Seichi, to her credit, got with the program very fast and had no more accidents. Meanwhile, it was bare floors and gates all around.

The real deal-breaker came when we had to admit she was not only not cat-safe, she wasn’t cat-workable (the difference is whether the dog can learn to leave indoor cats alone). We set up our usual procedures for introducing her to the house and the cats (initially behind closed doors, then her in crate/cats loose, then baby gate barricades so they could gradually smell and see one another, then supervised cat-on-tree approaches. At first, all seemed to be going well. The various species sniffed where the other had been and regarded each other curiously from a distance. We put Shakir up on the cat tree, out of reach, and let Seichi approach. A little hissing ensued. Seichi’s response — to continue to stare, which is threatening in both cat-speak and dog-speak — clued us that she had not had previous experience living with cats. We kept an eye on them to see if they’d work it out. Several things emerged: one was that Seichi continued predatory behavior even when Shakir was giving very clear “back-off” signals (growling, yowling, hissing, pupils dilated, ears flattened). If he swiped at her with claws extended, she’d jump away, but then come right back. Worse yet was that any movement on his part would engage her prey drive. 

Most German Shepherd dogs have high prey drive. It’s been bred into them. Something moves, especially something small and fast, and the need to chase it hijacks their brains. It’s also one of the things that makes throwing a ball for them or many dog sports so much fun. But it also makes living with cats problematic. We’d been lucky in having a series of cat-workable GSDs. Okay had high prey drive but he’d grown up with cats. Strange cats encountered outdoors were at risk, as were squirrels and the like. (He once caught a skunk, but that’s another story.) Tajji, on the other hand, had been bred to have a low prey drive; you don’t want a seeing eye dog taking off after a squirrel. She had also likely been exposed to cats as part of her puppy fosterage, and she sailed through our cat introduction so successfully it wasn’t long before she and Shakir were cuddling.

In the case of Seichi, however, it soon became clear that unless we wanted to keep the cats behind closed doors all the time, we were risking a mauled or dead cat. Deal-breaker.

Seichi also had worrisome attention-seeking behaviors. We noticed her tendency to nip at clothing. This escalated into mouthing hands, arms, even attempting to chew on a thigh. When given gentle correction or being pushed gently away, she’d become frantic and escalate the behavior alarmingly. Sometimes simply turning our back on her would be enough, but not always. She also needed to be watched every minute or she’d engage in destructive behavior (like pulling the meditation cushions off the sofa and trying to remove their stuffing — this only took a couple of minutes’ inattention).

Our experience with her was a parade of might-have-beens. If we had been younger and had more time to devote to socializing her (she was really a puppy in a 4 year old’s body). It there had not been the serious risk to the cats, we might have been more willing to work on the other issues. And a big one for me was realizing that I have recovered from my PTSD as well as I have by structuring my daily schedule and environment to support my stability. For example, it’s important that I exercise every morning and meditate every night, both of which were interrupted by the need to supervise Seichi (or crate her multiple times a day plus all night).

So, as lovely and loving as she was, we came to the conclusion she wasn’t the right dog for us. Or we, as older adults, weren’t the right people for her. The local GSD rescue organization couldn’t take her due to overload, but we talked to the folks at the (no-kill) shelter and decided it was best to return her there with a report on her personality and our observations of her problems and wonderful aspects.

Our cats are slowly coming back into their own after being shut away (or terrorized on the cat tree), remarkably affectionate. I’m letting myself settle and really take the time before contemplating whether I can handle another dog. I hope so, but I’m wary of pressuring myself to agree to something without being sure it is the right thing for me. This was the second dog that disrupted my self-care to the point I felt destabilized and concerned about my mental health, so I need to pay attention to how I got there. And that will take time.

Life is full of experiments, some of which work out beyond our wildest hopes. And others don’t.

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Jun. 27th, 2017 05:14 am
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These robots crawl or grasp based on humidity rather than a conventional power source. 

Tuesday DE: Grooming

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:03 pm
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[personal profile] galen_erso posting in [community profile] ways_back_room
 What do your charries regularly do about their hair / beard / clothes / shoes / general neatness of appearance?

I have recently found that this is the main visual distinction between my two Mads!faces, Hannibal and Galen.

Munich Film Festival II

Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28 am
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[personal profile] selenak
The Infiltrator was part of the Bryan Cranston retrospective and basically came across as a well-made routine thriller without anything being either bad or having anything innovative going for it. I.e. if you've watched thrillers about undercover cops working to bring a drug cartel down, you can predict all of the story beats. (Other than one spoilerly bit ).) It's entertaining and does what it sets out to do, and needless to say Cranston is reliably good in the part, but I wouldn't say it's a must.

City of Ghosts, otoh, was a fantastic documentary, directed by Matthew Heineman, about the citizen journalist group Raqqa is being slaughtered silently (RBBS). Before I watched it, I was unfamiliar with the phrase "citizen journalist" , but it's really a perfect description, because before the IS came to Raqqa, only one of them was a journalist, the rest had professions like high school math teacher or engineer. Nonetheless, they took incredible risks getting out photos and film evidence of the atrocities the so called Islamic State visited - and still visits upon their city. The surviving founders of the group had to flee but they still have some members in Raqqa, trying their best to continue getting material out. I'm always hesitant to use the phrase "real life heroes", but these people are truly heroic, and one thing that galls me especially is that when they've made it alive to Germany and safety, they promptly run into one anti-refugees march by the godawful AFD in Berlin.

The documentary starts during the "Arab Spring" in 2012, for which the Assad Regime going after Raqqa school children was one of the local triggers, and ends last year. We follow the core group of RBBS; Heineman is an invisible presence, he lets them narrate their stories, and when there's background information/exposition, such the way the IS uses the media for recruitment changed radically from the very early static speech videos to the Hollywood style big production videos that came into use after the fall of Raqqa, the activists are doing the explaining (subtitled, for the most part, everyone talks in Arabic) while the audience sees excerpts of the videos in question. BTW, I'd never seen an IS recruitment video before, and I have to say, the exact copying of action movie gimmicks and aesthetics (complete with following-the-bullet shots, soundtrack, etc.) is nearly as unsettling as the content. It's not much of a comfort that RBBS was able to puncture the IS self image enough by getting videos and photos showing the true state of Raqqa out to counteract the IS claims about it that the IS forbade any satelites in Raqqa and ordered the inhabitants to publically destroy theirs, so they regain control of the imagery. But it's something.

If the excerpts from the IS videos go for action movie gloss on violence, the mobile phone camera made videos of the RBBS are shaky, abruptly cut off, full of (inevitably) strange angles - and shocking in quite a different way. For example, the first time we see executions, the abrupt deaths and the already dead bodies lying around are bad enough, but without either the camera or any narrator pointing this out, what is as gruesome is what you see in the background. Yes, these are heads on pikes on what used to be the town square, not cheap movie props in the latest zombie splatter, but real human heads.

There's a lot of survivors guilt among the activists; one of them had to watch his father being executed in punishment, all of them are directly threatened by the IS who calls for their deaths, one lost his brother who was among the refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean, and when he talks about his dead brother, he says he still sends him messages per Facebook (as the account hasn't been taken down). "I am broken, my brother. Broken." And yet, and yet, they still continue to risk their lives. There's also a lot of comraderie we see, being physically comfortable with each other, and the rare moment of pure joy, such as everyone having a snowball fight in Berlin. You feel for them, and admire them - and hope the movie will be seen by as many people as possible. Maybe it will remind them that 95% of the victims of IS terrorism are Muslims - and said victims won't, shan't be silenced, are doing their best to fight back.

L'Intrusa, directed by Leonardo di Costanzo, is, like The Infiltrator, "based on a true story", with organized crime in the background, but the contrast couldn't be greater. While delivering a tight narration, there's nothing routine or slick about this movie, which is set in Naples and manages to avoid every single cliché. The fact you don't see the Vesuvio or the bay anywhere is just one of them; L'Intrusa is set in one of the poor quarters. The central characteris Giovanna, who has organized a miixture of daycare centre and social centre for kids and teenagers to offer them a life off the streets. When the film starts, the centre is well established and has been running for years, has been embraced by the neighborhood - but then something happens that puts Giovanna in an unsolvable dilemma. One of the small to mid level gangster's wives - Maria - and her two children have come to the centre, claiming refuge. Giovanna, Maria's daughter Rita and Maria are the three main characters; the supporting cast is also individualized, from Giovanna's right hand woman Sabina to the widow of a man Maria's husband has shot to the little daughter whose father was beaten to a pulp by Maria's husband right in front of her.

L'Intrusa never shows on screen violence. It doesn't show the Camorra doing what the Camorra does, but the after effects are present everywhere. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who in the Q & A said that if you depict Mafiosi "from the front", i.e. put them in the centre of the narration, even if you position them as villains, you end up making them in some ways sympathetic or even glorify them. "So, in my films, I only come at them sideways" - i.e. they're not there on screen, but there's no mistaking the terribile effect they have. Now, the centre is a film full of life and joy, with a community acting together, and it's rare and very attractive to see that. But it's not utopia, and in fact the need for it directly grows out of the unseen horrors around it. Not surprisingly, more and more parents object to Maria's presence. Giovanna gets accused of prioritizing the perpretators over their victims. The aunt of the little girl who has seen her father beaten into a pulp demands to know how she should justify to her sister letting her niece interact, let alone play with Rita, what that would do to her niece. Things come to a head when Rita and some of the kids argue, a normal kids' argument, with the parents drawn into, but Maria isn't just any parent, and so when she says "if you touch my daughter again etc.", the awareness that this is the wife of someone who casually kills people, even if he's currently arrested and hopefully won't get out of prison any time soon, makes this a direct threat to the other kids.

Otoh, Giovanna's argument is: if you ever want to break the cycle of violence, you need to make sure that the Marias of the world don't raise their children to follow their fathers' footsteps. That these children learn other values, learn something different. If she turns these children away from the centre, this will not happen.

As I said: it's an unsolvable dilemma, and the movie doesn't simplify it. It even adds to the stakes because Maria at first comes across as arrogant and rude (it's not until well into the film when you see her alone that you realise she's shattered and scared as well). Not to mention that she starts out by deceiving Giovanna, and there's early on not much to justify Giovanna's hope that Maria actually wants a change for herself and her children - nothing but the fact Maria is here instead of being with her rich sister-in-law, who in the movie shows up twice in a big car to retrieve Maria, in vain, and evidently lives the well funded Mafia spouse life. Basically: you understand where everyone is coming from.

Something else I learned in the Q & A was that most of the actors were lay actors, actual Neapolitans whose main job is in social service (though no one played themselves), with Giovanna being played by a woman who is a dancer and dance choreographer. "Because Giovanna doesn't say much, she's so stoic, she expresses herself through her body language," said the director, "I wanted someone who could do that, that's why I picked Raffaela Giordano." Who indeed is able to express much by the way she looks at people, by her movements, and who looks like she's closer to 50 than to 40. Everyone looks "normal", i.e. like people you could meet on the streets, not like well styled actors with a daily workout. But none act amateurishly in the sense that you're taken outside the story or feel they're talking stiltedly; given Rita and the other children are a big part of the story, that's especially amazing.

Favourite detail: one of the projects the kids in the centre work on, and the one Rita falls in love with and participates with, is building a robot they name "Mr. Jones" out of old bicycle parts. You can bet that in most other movies, Rita and her baby brother would have changed placed in age and it would have been a little boy fascinated with the robot.

In conclusion: probably my favourite movie so far, and highly reccomended

Nota bene: Sutliff fest opportunity!

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:25 pm
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Sign-ups for [community profile] rarepairfest are open through tomorrow, June 28. Assignments (1000 words minimum for stories) will be due on August 19 and pinch-hits on August 25. But Treats (stories/art created for someone that you are not assigned) are welcome and encouraged, and you don't have to sign up to create treats. Treats may be any length/medium.

If you are hesitant about signing up, Rare Pair Fest's treats are a great Sutcliff creative opportunity! :) And signing up enables us to request any of the following confirmed nominated categories:

- Frontier Wolf: Alexios Flavius Aquila/Connla, Alexios Flavius Aquila/Cunorix, Alexios Flavius Aquila/Hilarion, Cunorix/Connla (Frontier Wolf), Cunorix/Shula (Frontier Wolf), Hilarion/Lucius (Frontier Wolf)

- Outcast: Beric/Justinius (Outcast), Beric/Jason (Outcast)

- Sword at Sunset: Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset), Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Artos (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Bedwyr (Sword at Sunset)/Guenhumara (Sword at Sunset), Gault (Sword at Sunset)/Levin (Sword at Sunset)

Carpe diem!

QotD

Jun. 27th, 2017 05:24 am
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[personal profile] dglenn

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2015-05-05:

"He who lives to see two or three generations is like a man who sits some time in the conjurer's booth at a fair, and witnesses the performance twice or thrice in succession. The tricks were meant to be seen only once, and when they are no longer a novelty and cease to deceive, their effect is gone." -- Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher.

(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)

(no subject)

Jun. 27th, 2017 09:45 am
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[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coalescent!

Oh, God will save her, fear you not

Jun. 27th, 2017 04:42 am
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[personal profile] sovay
I enjoyed this review of a new biography of A.E. Housman, but I got to the last paragraph and disagreed so violently that I spent my shower fuming about it:

But that sweetness, verging on sentimentality, is also Housman's limitation: the lads and lasses slumbering under the grass, never growing old or sick or worrying about how to find a job. Sadness in Housman is a one-size-fits-all emotion, not one rooted in particulars. It puddles up automatically. And reading "A Shropshire Lad" you can find yourself becoming narcotized against feelings that are deeper and more complicated. That may be the real secret of the book's enduring popularity, the way it substitutes for a feeling of genuine loss the almost pleasant pain of nostalgia.

The reviewer claims earlier that "one reason 'A Shropshire Lad' has been so successful is that readers find there what they want to find," so perhaps I am merely following this well-worn tack, but I don't see how you can read Housman and miss the irony, the wryness, the sometimes bitterness and often ambiguity that never prevents the pleasure of a line that turns perfectly on itself. Some of his best poems seem to take themselves apart as they go. Some of them are hair-raising. Some of them are really funny. (It is impossible for me to take "When I was one-and-twenty" as a serious lament. In the same vein, it wasn't until tonight in the shower that I finally noticed that "Is my team ploughing" owes a cynical debt to "The Twa Corbies.") That is much more complicated than a haze of romantic angst and the vague sweet pain of lost content, especially seeing how much of Housman's language is vividly, specifically physical for all its doomed youth and fleeting time, not dreamy at all. Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale. I am not sure why the reviewer knocks Housman's Shropshire for not being "particular," either. Of course it's not actual Shropshire, where the poet himself acknowledged he never even spent much time. It's Housman's Arcadia, et ego and all. I finished the review and found myself thinking of Catullus—again, I had to have my hair full of soap before I realized why. I don't understand why anyone looks for the undiluted Housman in A Shropshire Lad any more than the Lesbia poems should be assumed to contain the authentic Catullus. Pieces of both of them, sure. But my grandmother didn't need the identity of the addressee of "Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over" pinned down in order to copy out the poem and save it after a college relationship broke up badly. (I thought it was hers for years.) Who cares if its second person was Moses Jackson or fictional? It spoke to a real loss. I don't think there is anything anesthetizing in that. I doubt Housman would have wanted the particulars known, anyway. I have to figure out a way to stop fuming and start being asleep.
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If you could stand on the surface of the newly discovered Earth-sized exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, what would you see? If you could stand on the surface of the newly discovered Earth-sized exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f, what would you see?


Daily Happiness

Jun. 27th, 2017 12:54 am
torachan: ryu from kimi ni todoke eating ramen (ramen)
[personal profile] torachan
1. I had a nice, relaxing birthday. I really didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, so I didn't!

2. It was pretty hot and muggy today, but if the forecast is to be believed (and I would like to believe it), today was the worst and it should be getting cooler for the next ten days or so. (It's definitely cooled off a lot tonight.)

3. We ordered Indian food for dinner and it was super tasty. The place we got from was new to us, but I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future. Among other things, we got mango chicken masala, which was amazing. Also cheese naan.

4. I happened to see a really cute Darth Maul Funko Pop the other day and ordered it from Amazon as a birthday present for myself and it actually came right on my birthday. :D

5. Chloe is such a pretty kitty!

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Meanwhile...

Jun. 26th, 2017 11:44 pm
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[personal profile] owlmoose
This past weekend was super and fabulous. I was fortunate enough to be able to snag four tickets to Hamilton for this past Friday, and I invited [personal profile] justira and [twitter.com profile] kaytaylorrea to join me. They both came into town, [personal profile] justira with their partner in tow, and the four of us had a great time not just at the show, but hanging out in SF.

Friday's show was a matinee, so we grabbed a quick lunch beforehand, then an early dinner after. The show was just as wonderful the second time, and in some ways I feel like it was better -- when I went in April, this particular troupe had been together for less than a month. Now that they've had two more months to work together, the ensemble gelled more, and I saw more nuances in some of the performances. I also saw a couple of different actors, in particular a different Angelica, and although her voice wasn't quite as powerful, I loved the acting choices she brought to the role. Another thing I noticed overall is just how funny this performance was -- this particular cast plays up the humorous moments in the songs and the choreography in a way I found really effective.

All three of my co-attendees loved the show as well, despite bringing very different levels of familiarity with it (one who has listened to the album a million times, one who'd never heard the music but read all the lyrics in advance, and one coming in almost completely cold), and it was fun to talk about how their various expectations colored their watching experience.

On Saturday, [personal profile] justira and I met up with [personal profile] forestofglory to wander the Ferry Building and Farmers Market. We noshed our way through, one of my favorite ways to eat breakfast in the city, including some breakfast ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (taking advantage of the lack of line). After that I met Kay for a Giants game; our boys lost (not unsurprisingly; the team is TERRIBLE this year), but we still had fun. Then we all (minus [personal profile] forestofglory, who had a prior engagement) gathered at my place for more chatting and hanging out until far too late, chattering about fandom and everything else under the sun, driving poor T to distraction I'm sure. I was particularly happy to see how well everyone clicked, considering that my two guests didn't really know each other before the weekend. There's nothing better than introducing two friends and watching them develop a quick rapport. :)

As Kay said a couple of times over the weekend, our parents were wrong: always make friends with strangers on the Internet. Sure, there's a risk, as people are always a risk, but the rewards are one thousand percent worth it.
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Posted by News Editor

No Perfect Magic by Patricia RiceNo Perfect Magic
Unexpected Magic Book 6
by Patricia Rice

Will Ives, the bastard son of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing.

The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately, afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants nothing more than to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture?

When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one.

With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak–or a love against all reason.

The Unexpected Magic series:

Magic in the Stars
Whisper of Magic
Theory of Magic
Aura of Magic
Chemistry of Magic
No Perfect Magic

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