Rachel the Book Harlot

Book connoisseur. Genre hopper. Music lover. Rebel.


Copyright Clash Over Demon-Fighting Stories



Author Sherrilyn Kenyon, best known for her Dark-Hunter series, has filed suit against author Cassandra Clare, author of the popular Mortal Instruments series, for copyright and trademark infringement. According to Kenyon, the:  

"Shadowhunter series initially used Kenyon's trademark 'darkhunter.' After Kenyon demanded that Clare remove the word 'darkhunter' from her work, Clare used the term 'shadowhunter' for her protagonists instead, according to the lawsuit. The word 'hunter' was also removed from the book title.

 Clare's book, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was published in 2007. Since then, Clare has expanded her use of the term 'shadowhunter' despite assurances that she would not, according to Kenyon.

 Clare's 2007 book was made into a movie and released in 2013, the lawsuit states. In 2014, it was reportedly announced that Mortal Instruments: City of Bones would be adapted into a television series called Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments.

 Kenyon says ABC Family picked up Clare's TV pilot in March 2015. The first episode of the Shadowhunters TV show premiered on Jan. 12 of this year, according to IMDB.

 The Dark-Hunter author also claims Clare has used symbols and merchandise  that are confusingly similar to Kenyon's."

Kenyon also states there are many similarities between her story and Clare's story. However, she is not claiming plagiarism.


Author Courtney Milan took a look at the court documents and makes a great case for why Kenyon's suit may not have merit: https://twitter.com/courtneymilan


To read more about the suit go here.


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Brilliance (Brilliance Saga, #1), by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance - Marcus Sakey

"In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called "brilliants," and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in - and betray his own kind."


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"I hate it, all of it. But we are vastly outnumbered. Normal people are frightened, and frightened people are dangerous. The fact is, we, abnorms, brilliants, twists, we cannot survive a war. We will lose."


This was such a wild ride filled with action goodness. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey is a sci fi thriller that plays out like an action film. There were moments that actually made me say "holy crap!", and heart-pounding scenes that left me a little breathless. 


Nick Cooper, the main character, is great. He's the perfect action hero: the guy who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and do what needs to be done, but still human and vulnerable enough that his behavior is not over the top. He's very easy to root for and to empathize with. There were only one or two testosterone filled moments where Cooper's love of fast cars caused an eye roll because it didn't feel organic. It felt more like an added element solely there to further solidify Cooper's action-dude status. Thankfully, these moments were few and far between.


The story itself is very well done. Even though it's fast-paced, the author does a great job of slowing down enough to let the story unfold naturally, letting us get to know Cooper and his world. His world is essentially an alternate reality of our own, where situations like the attack on the World Trade Center never happened, and science is a bit more advanced. However, it still mirrors our reality with the age-old theme of humanity's tendency to "other" and fear what is different, as well the manifestations of that fear.


The action scenes are great. They are vivid and thrilling. There were only two scenes I had trouble with: one stretched the bounds of my suspension of disbelief, probably because the scene it depicted felt like it would play out better on screen than it did on paper, and the other felt contrived, 

Cooper is thrust into a situation where he thinks he's going to disarm 5 bombs all by himself. One bomb I can understand. But 5??? No way. Not gonna happen. Thankfully, Cooper is forced to come to his senses and the scene is saved.

(show spoiler)


As to whether or not Brilliance ends in a cliffhanger, check out the spoiler:

no, it does not end on a cliffhanger.

(show spoiler)


Brilliance by Marcus Sakey definitely did not disappoint. Highly recommended for fans of sci fi thrillers and action films. 



Final Rating: 5 stars 


Note: Brilliance is Book 1 of the Brilliance Saga trilogy. The trilogy is complete, and all three books have been released.



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A Better World - Marcus Sakey





When an opening scene of a book makes you say WOW out loud, you just know the rest of the story is going to be good. 


A Better World is Book 2 of Marcus Sakey's Brilliance trilogy, and I'm loving it so far. It's not as action packed as Book 1, at least not yet, but it's still very good. The one main difference from the first book is that this one features multiple POV's whereas Book 1, Brilliance, is told solely from Cooper's (the MC) POV. It took me a second to get used to this, since I am interested in Cooper's experiences more than anything else, but I get why the author chose to make the change, and it does work. There is one specific POV character that is as compelling as Cooper. 


Just as a side note, I'm not sure why the publisher decided to include the endorsement by Gillian Flynn so prominently on the cover. I mean, I get it: it's nice to get an endorsement from such a successful author as Flynn. But, goodness, the font is huge! If you take a quick glance it looks as though Flynn is sharing credit with Sakey. No, Thomas & Mercer. Just no. 


Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

I was listening to music today, as I do whenever I clean the house, and thought it would be fun to share one of the songs with you guys. 


"Un Beso" ("One Kiss").



"Un Beso" is a beautiful love song by the group Aventura. The song is about a man who has fallen in love after just one kiss.



The Genre.


Bachata (pronounced bäˈCHätä) originated in the Dominican Republic in the early-mid 1900's. Bachata started out as a mix of styles and rhythms: pan-Latin American bolero, African, and traditional Latin-Carribbean. Over time it has evolved, with artists like Aventura mixing in other elements, such as R&B and hip hop, creating what is known as the New York school of Bachata. 



The Dance.

  "Bachata music has four beats per measure. In Bachata dancing, the dancer takes three steps to four beats of music. As with Salsa, the step timing is three steps and then a one-beat pause. The knees are flexed on the steps. Given its humble origins, the steps are flat footed.

The chasse basic is three steps in one direction (side-close-side-tap or touch) and the same pattern in the other direction. Nightclub dancers add a lift or hip motion on the tap/touch step. The timing if called out sounds like "one, two, three, uh; one, two, three, uh."

The walking basic is similar, with the dancers walking forward and back rather than side to side."


Source: Heritage Institute



The Lyrics.


Translated from Spanish to English:


There is a woman that dominates

my senses with only one touch

and like me, it can happen to another man.

That only with a kiss,
he could fall in love

Without the need of words,

Only by touching lips,
Cupid's arrow will find us

That only with a kiss,

with her I am happy

Only with one small kiss,

takes me to infinity,
and we only just met.


A kiss represents friendship, sex, and love
in any part of the world

regardless of religion
With only one kiss from her,

I am transported to heaven and speak with god
I reach the stars of emotion

Her mouth is sensual
It captivates and excites me

I never get tired of kissing her
Her tongue makes me weak
She knows all the tricks,

Tell me if there's someone else

that with only one kiss,
could make a man fall in love.




Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

This is adorable. Dog pleads with dad for forgiveness. 


Someone on Youtube was kind enough to translate: 


"Mi stai chiedendo scusa?" (Are you apologising to me?). "Non capisco, non capisco proprio" (I don't understand, I really don't understand). "Cosa, cos'è che vuoi?" (What? What is it that you want?). "No, non funziona così" (No, that's not the way it works). "Stai sbagliando, stai sbagliando Ettore" (You are making a mistake, Ettore). "Hai capito cos'hai sbagliato?" (Have you understood what you did wrong?). "Non mi sembra che tu abbia capito" (I don't think you have understood). "Cosa? Cosa? Mi fai male" (What? What? You are hurting me). "Va bene, facciamo pace" (Alright. Let's make peace). "Pace, abbiamo fatto pace" (Peace. We have made peace).

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The Roundup



January was a superb reading month. Every book fell within the 4 and 5 star range, which is practically unheard of for me. Maybe I should have played the lottery?


Here's the roundup:


                   Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Leah Remini,Rebecca Paley ALL SMOKE RISES: MILK-BLOOD REDUX - Elderlemon Design,Julie Hutchings,Mark Matthews  Gray: Part III - Lou Cadle 



                  Crossing In Time - D. L. Orton,Micah McDonald  Flesh House - Stuart MacBride  Brilliance - Marcus Sakey   


1. Leah Remini's Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology: A candid memoir that provides an insider look at the world of Scientology. Rating: 4 stars.


2. Mark Matthews' All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux: A riveting and poignant sequel to Milk-Blood. Rating: 4 stars.    


3. Lou Cadle's Gray: Part III: A wonderful finale to a great post-apocalypse trilogy. 

Rating: 4 stars.


4. D.L. Orton's Crossing in Time (Between Two Evils, #1): A romantic time travel/sci fi story. Rating: 4 stars.


5. Stuart MacBride's Flesh House: MacBride knocks it out of the park with Flesh House, Book 4 of the Logan McRae series. Rating: 5 stars.


6. Marcus Sakey's Brilliance (Brilliance Saga #1): A sci fi thrill ride. Rating: 5 stars.


Here's hoping this reading streak carries over into February. Cheers!





Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com


My book cover fetish continues. Here are some of the cool covers that captured my attention:


1. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Artist: Cynthia Sheppard

Genre: Steampunk Fantasy/Western



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2. Skein and Bone by V.H. Leslie

Artist: Vince Haig

Genre: Horror


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3. Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire) by Michael J. Sullivan

Artist: Marc Simonetti

Genre: Fantasy


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4. Mr. Dark 5 (Tamed) by Lauren Landish

Artist: ?

Genre: Contemporary Romance


*Blogger's Note: Don't roll your eyes at me! I said I was covered in lust, didn't I? ;)


- ❖ -


5. Dead Roses: Five Dark Tales of Twisted Love by Evans Light, Edward Lorn, Adam Light, Jason Parent, Gregor Xane 

Artist: Mike Tenebrae

Genre: Horror, Anthology


**Blogger's Note: Better now? 





Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

"Puppy caught eating paper decides killing witness is the only way out..."


I saw this on Twitter and had to share because it's too adorable.


Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

Gray: Part III, by Lou Cadle

Gray: Part III - Lou Cadle

"Welcome to Idaho City.

The sign was metal, the words still visible through scorching that had happened during The Event's long fire.

The words spoke of the old days, seven months ago, when civilization was intact and the world robustly populated. The sign looked normal--or would have, had it not been for the pair of human feet attached over the first two words. The feet had been severed from their owner, and hex bolts were jammed between the metatarsals.


Coral and Benjamin are starving as they flee from this sight. When they encounter scavengers a few days later, have they found food and salvation? Or is it the deadliest trap of them all?

Gray Part III concludes the tale of post-apocalyptic survival. The series should be read in order."


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"How long before all this was gone? Twenty-five years? A hundred? How long before every building and the asphalt below them crumbled into dust? Would the buildings outlast people? Was there anything that anyone could do

to keep humanity alive that long?"



Gray: Part III is a wonderful end to a great trilogy. The end matched the tone and spirit of the story perfectly.


One of the most compelling aspects of this story, and what makes it truly shine, is its portrayal of human struggle and human nature. The character arcs of the leads were done so well – who they become over the course of the journey into the end of the world is very realistic. I also loved the look into how some people are followers while others are leaders. And is who we become during dire circumstances something already innate within us or do circumstances make us who we are? I walked away each time wondering who I would be faced with similar circumstances. I love thought-provoking reads like this.


My only criticism, or really wish, is that the trilogy had received the spit-shine polish of professional editing. The storytelling and character studies are so good that a treatment by a pro editor would have elevated the entire thing to a 5 star read. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t riddled with errors, but a good editor would have smoothed out some of the edges.


In any case, despite that minor criticism, I loved the Gray trilogy. I look forward to reading more by this author.


Final rating: 4 stars


Flesh House (Logan McRae, #4), by Stuart MacBride

Flesh House  - Stuart MacBride

"The case was closed. Until the killer walked free…


When an offshore container turns up at Aberdeen Harbour full of human meat, it kicks off the largest manhunt in the Granite City’s history.


Twenty years ago ‘The Flesher’ was butchering people all over the UK – turning victims into oven-ready joints – until Grampian’s finest put him away. But eleven years later he was out on appeal. Now he’s missing and people are dying again.


When members of the original investigation start to disappear, Detective Sergeant Logan McRae realizes the case might not be as clear cut as everyone thinks…


Twenty years of secrets and lies are being dragged into the light. And the only thing that’s certain is Aberdeen will never be the same again."


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"DI Steel yawned, stretched, then said, 'What's green and smells of pork?'


Logan didn't look up from the copy of yesterday's Evening Express he'd found on the back seat. 'No idea'.


She grinned at him. 'Kermit's willy!' Pause for laughter. Nothing. 'Miserable sods.'"


Logan and crew are back in Flesh House, the fourth installment of the Logan McRae series. This one was a lot darker and gorier than previous books (seriously, don’t eat while reading this), but it also contained a nice dose of humor, suspense, and moments that actually made me teary-eyed. The crime solving was also great, with the case keeping me guessing right until the end.  


This installment was a little different than previous books in that Logan was entirely focused on solving solely one case. Another difference is that for the first time in this series Logan didn’t miss some obvious clues, which he sometimes tends to do. 


Stuart MacBride really knocks it out of the park with Flesh House. It is now my official favorite of the series so far. Can't recommend it enough. 


Final rating: 5 stars


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All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux, by Mark Matthews

ALL SMOKE RISES: MILK-BLOOD REDUX - Elderlemon Design, Julie Hutchings, Mark Matthews

WARNING: Contains spoilers for Part 1, Milk-Blood.


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"Ten year old Lilly is the victim of a terrible house fire and a wretched family. Her father is an addict with mental illness, her mother was murdered and then buried across the street, and her uncle got her addicted to heroin.


Lilly’s tragic story has been told in the book ALL SMOKE RISES, and it may be true, for the author has broken into your house, and placed Lilly's body on your kitchen counter. He demands you read the manuscript, before cutting his own wrists and bleeding out on your floor.

Now you have decisions to make, for Lilly's body may not be dead, and her family is coming for her."





 "She closed the door and he was gone, but his soul, his life, his whole world was now trapped inside. They had him now. Wherever he went, a long, unseen

chain was attached to draw him back. All because of the tiny pinhole

in his arm." 



In this sequel to Milk-Blood, author Mark Matthews offers readers a riveting and poignant conclusion to Lilly's story. Told from multiple points of view, we are once again immersed in both supernatural horrors, and the very real human horrors of the characters’ own making. Here, decisions come back to haunt you, both figuratively and literally.


It’s a powerful story that contains everything I loved about Part I: characters that are flawed and compelling, great writing, and a sensitive yet realistic approach to the darker sides of life. This realistic picture is particularly exemplified in the character of Crystal, whose POV sections I found especially fascinating. Seeing life through her eyes, and hearing the rationalizations for her actions was interesting.


If you are a fan of Milk-Blood, then I highly recommend you pick up the sequel, All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux.


Final rating: 4 stars


**ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**






Image source: www.right-turn.org

Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

Now that 2015 has come and gone, it's time to look ahead at what's new and exciting in 2016. Here is what I'm looking forward to in the year ahead: 


1. The Return of John Cleaver


Over Your Dead Body (John Cleaver) - Dan Wells 

My beloved John Wayne Cleaver is back in Over Your Dead Body, Book 5 of the John Cleaver series by Dan Wells. I'm looking forward to getting back into John's sociopathic head and seeing where life takes him. The release date is May 3, 2016.


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2. The Start of a New Series



I get a Dan Wells twofer in 2016. In addition to releasing a new John Cleaver book, he's also debuting a new series, Mirador. The series is being billed as a cyber-thriller. Book 1, Bluescreen, is scheduled to be released February 16, 2016. 


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3. The End of a Trilogy


Gray: Part I - Lou Cadle 

The Gray trilogy by Lou Cadle took me by surprise last year. An advertisement for Book 1, Gray Part I, happened across my Twitter feed, caught my interest, I checked out the book, and the rest is history. I can't wait to see how it all ends. No firm date yet for the final book, Gray Part III, but it's scheduled for release sometime within the next few months.


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4. A New Spin-off

MACK (The King Trilogy Book 4) - Mimi Jean Pamfiloff  

I really enjoyed Mimi Jean Pamfiloff's King trilogy, which I have to write a review for at some point in my life, so I was excited to see that a spin-off for one of the characters was in the works. I'm curious to see where Mack's story takes us. Mack is scheduled for release February 15, 2016. 

❖ ❖ ❖ 


In addition to the bevy of books I'm looking forward to, 2016 also brings with it the return of two of my beloved TV shows:


1. The Walking Dead



Yeah, Baby! The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead left us in the midst of a nail-biting cliffhanger....because the writers are cruel and sadistic bast****ds. Just kidding -- I love you, Writers (don't kill Daryl!). The second half of Season 6 premieres Sunday, February 14, 2016. 


2. Game of Thrones



In the words of Jay-Z, ♫ can I get a woop woop ♫ ♪. The show has finally caught up with the books, and I feel hot all over. I can't wait to see some of the book plots finally move forward. As I mentioned in a previous post, fans of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series will have to look for the TV show to give them some closure. Season 6 premieres Sunday, April 24, 2016. 


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So cheers to 2016. New beginnings, new adventures, and new releases.






Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, by Leah Remini

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology - Rebecca Paley, Leah Remini

"The outspoken actress, talk show host, and reality television star offers up a no-holds-barred memoir, including an eye-opening insider account of her tumultuous and heart-wrenching thirty-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices..."


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"But that was the policy of the church. You were either all in or all out. It is an extremist religion. There is no middle ground. And there within its structure lies the danger." - Leah Remini



In Troublemaker, Leah Remini takes the reader on a candid tour of her life, from her childhood in Brooklyn, New York through her days as a well-known actor in Hollywood. What ties all of her experiences together was her time as a member of the Church of Scientology. Indoctrinated at the age of 10, Remini remained a devout member for more than thirty years.


One of the things I loved most about her book, aside from the in-depth look we get into the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, is Remini’s honesty. She talks honestly about herself, in all her flawed glory. Of course, some of that honesty comes from Remini trying to pre-empt the Church from exposing certain aspects of her past to the public. The Church has been known to intimidate and try to discredit former members who expose their disturbing practices.


The other part is her bravery in coming forward. It’s not easy to confront such a seemingly powerful cult as the CoS, as well as someone as powerful within the hierarchy of the Church, and entertainment industry, as Tom Cruise. But she did it, and I admire her for that.


I also admire her honesty in acknowledging how hard turning away from the Church was for her. As she explains:


“After thinking a certain way, and being told what to think based on strict policy for more than thirty years, learning to think for myself and make my own choices did not come easily, nor did it happen overnight. Now, more than two years after cutting ties with the church, I’m still trying to figure things out.”


She speaks about going to therapy, which is frowned upon in the church, in order to deal with the guilt and other the emotional aspects related to the split and having to face a new way of life.


Written in a conversational style, Troublemaker makes for a fast-paced read that is never boring. If you’re interested in learning more about the Church of Scientology, then I highly recommend Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.


Final Rating: 4 stars


Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com


Found this in my twitter feed, in case any blogger here has been recently contacted by a penguin "employee". This is a new sleazy tactic.

Reblogged from Spare Ammo

Game of Thrones Author Misses Last TV Deadline For New Book


In a surprise twist to almost no one, author George RR Martin announced that he missed the deadline which would have had The Winds of Winter, Book 6 of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, published before the airing of HBO's sixth season of the TV series Game of Thrones. 


Martin took to his blog to make the announcement. He wrote: 

“I blew the Halloween deadline, and I’ve now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, The Winds of Winter will not be published before the sixth season of Game of Thrones premieres in April.


I won’t make excuses. There are no excuses. No one else is to blame. Not my editors and publishers, not HBO. It’s on me. I tried, and I am still trying.” 

This should come as no surprise to book fans, many of whom have been waiting for a completion to this series since 1996. At this time, there is no true end in sight. Book fans will have to look for the TV show to give them an ending. Back in March 2015, show executive producer David Benioff confirmed that the show would spoil the ending of the book series: 

"We know where things are heading," said GoT executive producer David Benioff. "We will eventually meet up at pretty much the same place that George is going. There might be some deviations along the route, but we're heading toward the same destination."


For more info, read more here and here.

Source: http://rachelbookharlot.booklikes.com

In the News: 2015

The year 2015 was filled with news stories that shocked me, captivated me, horrified me, or made me smile. As we enter this new year, I thought I'd take a look back at some of the news stories that captured my attention. Here are my top 7 picks of 2015 (my apologies as many of these stories are US-centric):


1. Paris Terror Attacks


 Source: IB Times


For me, the most compelling story of 2015 were the Paris terror attacks, which took place on the evening of November 13, 2015. In a coordinated attack, a group of terrorists targeted several locations within the city of Paris: suicide bombers struck the Stade de France sports stadium and the Comptoir Voltaire café, while several gunmen attacked three restaurants and the Bataclan concert venue. By the end of the night, 130 people would be killed and approximately 360 people would be injured. 


A senseless tragedy at the hands of people who would stop at nothing to further their insane and extreme ideology. 


I feel guilty saying these attacks were the most compelling because there were so many people lost to terror attacks throughout the world in 2015. Their deaths were no less compelling and tragic. However, for some reason what happened in Paris, in particular the massacre at the Bataclan theater, really struck a personal chord with me. Perhaps it's because I myself am a concert hound. I'm a huge music lover and have attended many concerts in my time. I guess I put myself in the shoes of those people who were at that venue simply to spend an evening listening to great music and have a joyous time with friends. It was such a happy and benign way to spend an evening.  


2. Same-Sex Marriage Legalized in the United States


 Source: AP


On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court voted to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. As Justice Kennedy wrote in his opinion:  

"the nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage.


Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness,  excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." 

Before the ruling, same-sex marriages were recognized in only 37 out of 50 States.


As is to be expected, this landmark and controversial decision was met with both cheers and celebration, and jeers and disapproval. 


Personally, I'm in the cheers and celebration camp.


3. Death of Aylan Kurdi


 Source: Defend International 


For many, the haunting image of the little body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying on a beach in Turkey (which I will not post here for obvious reasons) punctuated the European refugee crisis. Aylan, his brother, and mother drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Turkey. The family had been trying to reach the Greek island of Kos after fleeing war-torn Syria.


The image went viral and sparked controversy over the European response to the refugee crisis. As reported by CNN, Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, called it the "[b]iggest indictment of collective failure." 


As BBC reports, "more than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggle to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people."


4. Death of Freddie Gray


Source: The Washington Post 


On April 12, 2015, 25-year-old Freddie Gray was arrested in the US city of Baltimore, Maryland for carrying an illegal switchblade (the legality of the knife is now being disputed). Gray was then grievously injured while in police custody. He died 7 days later from his injuries. 


According to the medical examiner, who ruled his death a homicide, Gray died from "a single 'high-energy injury' to his neck and spine — most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated." Many speculated that this injury was a result of a "rough ride": an illegal tactic used by police officers in which a suspect is handcuffed or shackled, placed in a car or van, and then made to suffer an intentionally rough or bumpy ride where they cannot protect themselves from injury.    

His death sparked numerous protests calling for justice and an end to police brutality. In May 2015, criminal charges were filed against six of the arresting officers. The charges included involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicle, and depraved-indifference murder. 


This case once again brought to the forefront in the US the issue of institutional racism, and the use of excessive and lethal force by law enforcement officers against black men. According to a study done by the Guardian, black men in the US were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015. The study found that "African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15% of all deaths logged this year by an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police."


5. Charleston, South Carolina Church Shooting



 Source: AP


On June 17, 2015, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylan Roof entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, sat quietly with a bible study group for several minutes, then stood up and opened fire with a Glock 41 .45-caliber handgun. Within minutes, 9 of the 13 bible study members would be dead. 


The shooting sparked nationwide outrage, and further ignited ongoing debates within the US related to both the issues of racism, and gun ownership rights.


Sadly, the Charleston shooting was only one of 372 mass shootings in the United States in 2015. As reported by PBS News Hour, "according to the Tracker’s data, which defines a mass shooting as an incident in which at least four people are killed, there were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870."


6. The Escape of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán


Source: US Drug Enforcement Agency 


On July 11, 2015, the notorious leader of the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, escaped from a federal maximum-security Mexican prison. What made this escape incredible was that Guzmán fled through a mile-long underground tunnel leading from the shower stall of his prison cell to a partially constructed house located on an open field. It was something out of a movie. The tunnel contained air ducts for ventilation, electricity, and a customized motorcycle fitted onto rail-like tracks.  


Source: CNN


It is estimated that construction of the the tunnel took up to one year, and cost somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million. 


Many believe that prison guards were paid by "El Chapo" to either aid or turn a blind eye to his escape. Some also believe that members of the Mexican government were involved. 


To date, Guzmán has managed to evade law enforcement authorities. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency is currently offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture and conviction.


On a personal note, not sure who would be crazy enough to collect on this reward as "El Chapo" is one of the most powerful and deadliest drug lords in the world. These people would kill your entire family, your dog, and your neighbors. It is reported that Guzmán has claimed to have killed up to 3000 people. The exact number is not officially known. 


7. New Horizons Pluto Flyby 


 Source: NASA


On July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons probe performed the very first flyby of Pluto. A historic achievement. The probe captured amazing images, giving us our first-ever clear look at the dwarf planet. The probe traveled for 9 1/2 years, and a total of 3 billion miles. The flyby itself took approximately 3 minutes. 


Fun Fact: the probe carries the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. 


The flyby will help scientists understand the icy bodies located at the edges of our solar system. As explained by NASA, "these objects are believed to be representative of the material which condensed to form the other planets. Their growth into full sized planets was arrested early in the history of the solar system. Hence they hold clues about the distant past of the solar system and the chemical endowment of all the planets including our Earth."


New Horizons is now on its way deeper into the Kuiper Belt, located at the edge of our solar system:


Source: Amazing Space
























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