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The first half of June was a big case of quality over quantity. I read very few books for me but I adored all of them. Sadly, the second half of June ended up being the opposite. I did read some that I really loved, but the overall rating was so low.

And I even ended the month with four 2-star books in a row! Age of Myth , by Michael J. I am always saying that I am not a fan of epic fantasy. Fantasy as a genre? But more traditional, sword-and-sorcery, men-and-elves type fantasy is not usually my jam.

Though so far this year my reading might be changing my opinion on that: This is very much the first book in a series: Information is doled out in casual conversation so it never feels like a textbook.

And even though I feel like I understand the basics of the world there are still a lot of questions left unanswered and obviously so much more to learn in the coming books. I think, for the first half or so, I was plodding along and enjoying the story kind of passively.

There are a lot of small clues and things mentioned in passing that are integral to the ending. While the world and magic system s? I loved so many of them: Gifford and Roan, who I ship so hard. While there are obviously a lot of things that I enjoyed about Age of Myth , I was especially impressed by how it set up an overarching plot that I assume will run through all 5 books while also giving us a solid 1-book arc that neatly wrapped up.

The mood of this book is really hard to pin down. Is this LOTR-style fantasy where everyone gets a happy ending? Are all my favorites going to die horrible deaths? I cannot adequately describe what I loved about The Devourers. I can tell you that the language is lush, evocative, and brilliant. I can tell you that it is a beautiful and brutal story. I can tell you about the amazing characters, the meaningful discussions of gender and society. The rich shifter mythology this is not a book about werewolves: I can mention how everything is important: But none of that scratches the surface of my feelings about The Devourers.

I was absolutely hypnotized by this novel. But there is something else here. In the story, shifters have the ability to mesmerize humans while telling a story and literally transport them into whatever world they are talking about.

In a sense, the book achieves that how meta! I just… I felt like I was living every second. I felt hurt and scared and excited and brave as our characters did. I felt shocked and elated at revelations. I felt drawn into the web of mythology as it was slowly unraveled. For a short while, it was a life I lived. I actually dropped something I was in the middle of reading the day this came out. There are very few authors I will do that for but AHFoG just made that much of an impression on me and I should probably up my rating of it to 5 stars.

Tons of pop-culture references, both overt and sneaky. Creepy things going on with kids. The involvement of the media.

Sure, it lulls you into a false sense of security. I thought I knew where this was going, or at least where I wanted it to go. And I was really, really wrong. And to be honest, disappointed. I think it has a great twisty plot and a lot of people will love it. It was just so much lighter on the horror than what I expected. More New Weird less twisty mysteries, please!

The premise seems right up my alley: Like The Collector on steroids, right? I have no words for how much I hated this but I did write a quiz so you can see just how unlike humans the characters all act.

Everyone in this book, including the Gardener and his family and the cops are so incredibly stupid. They lack the logic to realize super simple solutions to their problems. The girls in particular are so problematic: And this book was written by a woman! Which in itself is a disturbing fact. How can you make a horror novel so dull? Truly, a mystery for the ages. Penpal , by Dathan Auerbach.

This book, which originally appeared as a story series on nosleep, was my compromise. I think this really works better as a set of posts than it does as a book. The atmosphere is just as spooky as what I remember when I originally read these, but the flaws just seem so much more obvious. This has the potential for greatness but it really needs a lot of editing.

Lamb , by Bonnie Nadzam. And this is definitely a book that hurts to read: It focuses on a man who is grooming a child, and justifying it to himself in a million unsettling ways. The writing here is amazing. There is a hallucinatory quality to the prose: Something as simple as buying an year-old girl a coat becomes a moment of extreme terror for the reader. Is he going to hurt her? Why would he do this? Just questions running constantly through your head. I really wanted this to be a 5-star read, and it was so close.

The Linnie his girlfriend sub-plot. I really wish it had been totally dropped. It did lead to one scene that will be forever burned into my memory but I feel like there was an easier way to do that than the very extended scenes of her. Still an amazing book, just a flawed one. This is the kind of book I almost feel guilty for liking and giving such a high rating. The main reason I liked this book was because it was about annoying rich people. The difference here is that Catherine West, our main girl, is a pseudo-villain that you adore to hate.

I loved being in her vapid, bitchy head. I loved watching her fuck up. But by the end, I was almost rooting for her. However, this is not a psychological thriller. I do think the charm and intensity tapers of a bit towards the end.

Once the mystery element is unveiled it felt almost… anticlimactic? But when I ended the book I still felt really satisfied. Does it deserve 4 stars? The writing is hilarious but not particularly beautiful.

The plot is minimal. But it was just SO fun, the definition of a guilty pleasure read. He just does dark, destructive, passionate, twisted relationships like no one else. You can feel in your bones how toxic Ellis and Vada are together but you want them to be happy so bad.

Makes me want to read Unteachable immediately. This book has two main storylines, and I only really cared about one of them. I found the love story of Ella and John to be downright boring. I prefer books sans-romance, though I do have a few literary couples I am SO attached to.

American Italian: Dictionary | American Italian

When she came up for Christmas, I signed over the house to Sylvia. She needed it so she could get a loan for her school. They want to sell the house so they can get the money out of it. You can go out and get a job and get your own apartment. I pulled the straw out of the glass, put it to my lips and tilted it back. Mom would have only gotten a few sips of this, just enough to slowly increase her dementia and her frailty, but I sucked down the last thick, disgusting drops, welcoming sweet oblivion.

Snuz, this is starking real, it hurts me to read it. You have never written anything with more truth then this article. Why do I say this? Because I have been there. So I have no regrets how my life is turning out. I could have written a closing chapter to your story. Your ultimate kindness speaks volumes here, Kerry. Clearly you chose to grow from adversity, and that choice does you proud. None of the characters in the story I wrote here have kindness for each other, and that is the tragedy.

This was cold, and deceptive — like that shake. I love the way the horror grew slowly. The story started out with the MC seeming like a good daughter and a nice person, but then the gradual reveal of who she really was was chilling. Masterfully done, as always. I was immediately suspicious of the white powder, but then calling the white powder vitamins temporarily allayed my fears.

Is this a case of an unreliable narrator who uses euphemisms to fool even herself, or was it just the author trying to throw the reader off the trail? Either way, it worked. But I confess to the misdirection. This is terrifying and I love how it does go from good daughter, to greedy woman, to bad daughter, to oh my god! Sad thing is that there is so much greed in my family, the vultures waiting for grandma to die, that I felt really heartsick reading this. And I was glad no one would go that far.

Then I wondered if some of them might if they thought they could get away with it. Just dark and terrifying snuzcook. You know the rhyme: I started out sympathetic to the daughter, but by the end my sense of comeuppance was fully engaged.

This story is chilling. Gotta hand it to you, Snuz. Well-written of course, but the most fun part from me was when you yanked the carpet out from under the likability of your MC in the last 10 lines or so.

The oxygen pump hissed in pneumatic agreement. She was right, of course. Except now she was dying, which was wrong.

I stubbed out my cigarette in in my empty coffee cup and waited for the smoke between us to clear. I could have explained the meaning of the shark, how it must constantly move or suffocate, but it would have been lost on Mom. Maybe too good, in a way that always seemed to leave me gasping for breath. I loved my mom, yet rejected every gift she gave me. Something was wrong inside me, and the harder Mom tried the more wrong I felt.

I was a bad daughter. The box and the key were right where Mom said they would be. Inside, dozens of newspaper clippings from , the year I was born, chronicled the story of a baby girl who had gone missing somewhere in the Maine woods.

I shook my head. That there was somewhere eIse I needed to be. And now I knew why. Mom never woke again. I never got to ask her why, and how, and how could she? What explanation could possibly make this right? As her breathing grew ragged and her face ashen, I wept for them both — the mother who raised me, and the one who lost me. I wondered how either of them had managed to live with this. And then Mom was gone, and the restless beast swam mad, insistent circles around my brain.

I needed a cigarette. I needed a drink. This story is so lovely and sad. He has no negative comments for this story. I especially love this line: Hey, where did the rest of my response go? JM, one of your very best. I loved the plot, the tragedy, the unknown reason and of course, you left the entire story open as to the whereabouts of her real mother. Had she given up after all those years or was her heart still holding the promise of hope.

Your ending was perfect like a diamond in the darkness. Yes, I left an awful lot open. I was determined to keep it under this time, and I think the discipline did me some good, but I ended up with more questions than answers. Glad you liked it. Great story and said a lot in not a lot of words. Great use of imagery with the shark tattoo and her personality. As I said to Kerry, I really wanted to try and stay under this time. It was definitely a worthwhile exercise. Agree with Kerry that this is one of your best.

Particularly enjoy your referencing to the shark both in the beginning and end. Most everything I wanted to say has been said. The nature versus nurture here is wonderfully done. With the nurture defining the personality and the nature, and the loss of an unknown connection swimming around her heart. The symbolism, as mentioned is spot on. The story is amazing and your voice is awe inspiring. A couple of lines have been mentioned. The two that really pulled me in and were just so gorgeous on their own that I have to mention are… waited on the smoke between us to clear.

It is not only a wonderful line but has so much depth, hints at something more and has a beautiful foreshadowing quality. I was once told by an Irish gentleman that you can never own what you stole. Those two lines resonated, became one, and meant the same thing to me in this moment. So much power in those simple words. I just loved this. The smoke line was my favorite too. Thanks for getting that. The daughter knew this on some level and that is why she felt compelled to reject everything that was offered to her.

I took on the challenge of staying under this time I rarely do , and it turned out to be an interesting exercise in distilling things down to their essence, and alluding to things without stating them. If this were a longer work I could see gradually revealing this information.

I had fun with this one, and actually learned something. The shark reference threw me a bit, but as the story progressed it made more sense. Fascinating, and masterfully handled, JM. Very literate, very readable, and rich in imagery and emotion which is augmented by the deceptive simplicity of the piece. I broke my own rule today.

I read a few of these before I posted. After having done so, I feel a little bad about this hack job. You guys are on fire this week. I glanced over the laptop that sat before me to see mom beginning to stir.

I spent all of my time with mom these days. I yearned for the words to just spill out of me. I needed something to validate my existence, but so far, zilch. Moms eyes fluttered open and I knew the questions would soon follow. What year is it? I powered down the laptop and set it aside.

She sat up slowly and focused her eyes on me. What day is it? I wanted to laugh and cry and scream all at the same time, but instead, I knelt down and gently lifted her to her feet. As I slowly walked her across the room and sat her down in her rocking chair by the window, I shuddered at the brittle husk of a woman she had become. Felix always said we just needed more practice.

We just never could seem to make a baby. This all seemed a little bizarre by my estimation because here I sat as plain as day, living proof that my father and mother were, at some point as fertile as the fruited plain. At least it seemed to have pulled a thread of lucidity to the surface. Two days later he came through the door carrying a little baby girl.

This here is our daughter, Lilly, nobody needs to know any different. By the time she finished, a flood of silent tears etched a shiny trail down my cheeks. Could this be true? Was it even possible? As I sat there, stunned and dismayed, watching her admire the songbirds that flocked around the bird feeder, a million thoughts bounced around on the inside of my brain.

I continued to clutch her hand, the hand that had fed me, bathed me, nurtured and cared for me in every way. As her eyes again seemed to grow heavy with the burden of sleep, I knew that regardless of who had given birth to me, this was my mother.

I swear I did not read yours before I wrote mine. I even named my MC Margaret spelled differently — and get this — before she was Margaret she was Lily. I kid you not. So I will take it as a personal offense if you continue to say you feel bad about this piece!

Seriously, this was a scarily accurate depiction of dementia. You must have been through this with a grandparent or someone. And your reveal was devastating in the simplicity with which Margret told the terrible truth, and how unprepared her daughter was to hear it. I went through some heart breaking dementia with some family members and this chilled me because of that.

So well done and beautiful. Mom was mom, in part because she was innocent of anything but love and trust. However, when your MC gets around to thinking about what it means, how is she going to feel about her father, and what wild theories will she have about how he came by a baby?

Sometimes I get a little confused by people apologizing for such great stories. This is one of those times. You got everything right, rle; you captured the situation and the emotion wonderfully. Great story, and fairly delicately handled.

Being British, most people think we like tea. Truth be told, I despise it. Always that awful green color. Black coffee is much better. A moment later, we both are sipping bloody hot mugs of black coffee and sitting across from each other. I nod, starting to get concerned. I am thirty four and I still act like a child. Six children of my own and my bloody husband John. Though he is such a dear.

Held my hand the whole time Timmy was coming. She takes a breath. She mutters something under her breath about moons and blood. A cold shiver runs through me. She flashes a toothy grin at me, sharp pointy whites smiling back at me.

A cold sweat starts on my neck. No, no, no, no! I always hated garlic, despised photos, and liked night more than day. I paused my thinking. No wonder I always had dreams about blood! So, those dreams where you ate animals and broke into blood drives, and all of those things?

Those were real things that you did at night when you would normally be asleep. His parents told him on his thirteenth birthday. I frowned and sat up. I looked at myself in the mirror.

A pair of fangs smiled at me. There was a small child no older than eight outside the door. He looked really good right about now. I nodded, my glance not leaving the boy. I walked towards the door, in a trance like state. I grabbed him and bit his neck, sucking all of the blood out of him. My brain went crazy, registering this new event. I plucked the last drop of blood off his neck and pushed him away. Opening my eyes, I gasp.

A tear slips out of my eye. Then they all do. So, I took a little morbid twist on this one; not what I normally do. I hope you all enjoy it! Honest feedback would be greatly appreciated. What would be a good name for this? The Portal Fights are a series of fights that twenty young men are placed in. They get luxury during their training, but then they are each placed in a different biome of the earth, and have to find a way to survive against whatever challenges they face using their magical powers.

Also, this was NOT meant to be derogatory in any way towards out friends with tea. Well that was … disturbing amazing story, to be sure, but twisted. Like the rest of us. This was so entertaining and even funny… right up until the last line, which really changed the tone of the piece. The dialogue flowed well, and overall this was an engaging read.

You have a very readable, enjoyable style. I loved the werewolf line. That was just too funny. I liked the repetition of bloody but there were a few other close repeats that could use some cleaning up. Mostly because they make the bloody seem excessive but if they were removed it would be a very amusing repetition.

I was groaning, thinking this was an overly humanized monster story, but then the end chilled me. It was perfect, dark, wonderful. This is amazing, Happy. I truly love the surreality of it: I hope the boy she drained is not one of her own kids — it strikes me that drinking blood from another vampire would be like eating three-day old leftovers. Overall, the accents, the interaction and dialogue, the concept of the story was great, including the tragic ending, but…. Word count ———————- Momma ———————- Sometimes I miss her.

Missy looks just like her namesake. A hero, she was. I knew that even before she told me about her past. Her past… Just thinking about her story instantly transported me back to my childhood. My mother had always kept her past vague. Sometimes the past needs to be buried and left underground, she always told us. But one day, shortly after my sixteenth birthday, she called me into her room while Penny was away.

And I need you to not tell Penny, okay? Can you do that for me, honey? Can you keep a secret? Where do I start? Once upon a time, in a land not so very far away, there was a little girl. She grew up imagining far off places and fantastic journeys, with princes and dragons and magic. She heard about America, the great land of adventure. So she got on a ship and sailed across the ocean. When she got to America, it was amazing. But only for a little while.

The now-grown -up little girl started living in the streets. Sometimes she would sing in exchange for food. Until she met a man. My mother had been born in America — right? She agreed, because she was still innocent and merely thought he meant cleaning his fancy house or something silly like that.

So, anyways, eventually the girl got tired of being what the man wanted. By now the little girl was all grown up and getting older. So the girl ran away. Far, far away, to somewhere no one knew her. Do you know who that little girl was, Jackie? There was no way that was my momma that had done all these things. My momma was American. My momma had had a husband that died. He married me, moved across the country with me. It was a shipwreck. She looked so sad.

And when he found out I was having Penny, he was so excited. That was the day he left for good. I was afraid without him. You had a good past, for the most part.

My grandparents and papa all died in an accident together. You never worked for a sugar daddy. You were born here in America, lie me and Penny. Do you want to think about all of this? I want to know why you waited so long to tell me. Why do I feel angry? She died so long ago, why am I still angry? I need to finish the memories. I can remember all of it. But I was so upset. I left as soon as I could. That was not the past I wanted.

She understood, I know she did. I got the call a few years ago that she died. I went to the funeral, and I cried a little. I have some regrets, I think about that day a lot.

And sometimes, I still miss my momma. And after growing up, Jackie could see and appreciate this. Whether this was true for you or someone you know or not, brilliant work.

This story left me unsettled. I kept wanting to know why the mother would tell her sixteen year old daughter this devastating information, especially when she had a always taken care to keep it to herself. She must have had a reason why she thought the daughter needed to know now. I guess it just needs more backstory. I think you conveyed why she was a hero, at least to me. The one thing that threw me was the voice actually seemed a bit younger than a teen. Though as the story went on I placed it somewhere in the early nineteen hundreds when something like that would have been a bit more devastating to find out and then the more innocent voice fell into place.

Very very nice, Tea. This is the type of story that America is built on. The great tragedy is that so many dreams have to be shattered before brave souls can build new ones. This is a great story, Tea, with a lot of feeling in it.

Even though it ran long-for-a-prompt, I think your idea of taking it longer is good: Nice work on this! She never kept a job for more than a year, so she knows bits of everything, and that includes how doctors view their patients. She lied about her age for that, too. I glance at the wrinkles that are etched into her skin. Last week you told me you had a business trip scheduled for this afternoon.

I was laid off. She sees my face and squeezes my hand. Who needs to be a legal assistant? Now you can become a music producer, or an architect, or a researcher! This is not what I want to hear. She is the person who I admire most in this world.

I was always devastated. How could I be so dreadful at the jobs? A collection of failures. Year after year, I thought she was winning at life because she was carrying out each of her new dreams. But she was losing, losing more with every new job. I realized that I was blessed with being unable to keep a job so that I could explore all different aspects of the world. A job loss is a nightmare. Forty job losses is a catastrophe.

I get fired because I start to lose interest in my work. And I embrace it because it gives me the opportunity to switch to something that I have a fresh interest in. All I want is stability. Of course I do. She pats my knee. An old lady like me needs her rest.

You can stay with me, if you like… But when I wake up, you better be painting. A good control of dialogue, makes it a believable tale. She was equal parts endearing, impressive and frustrating. I can see writing a whole book about her and her relationship with her staid, risk-averse daughter.

This could be a winner! The exploration of optimism and pessimism between the two is amazing. That you told the story of how the mother became an optimist without going into too much detail was wonderful. The mother is really a great definition of that. Then you get the fears of every artist perfectly but she has a parent to support her when she is in doubt, which is so opposite of what normally happens. This is a fascinating take with a really great message, Paint.

I love the way the mother takes what others would see as failure and turns it into an opportunity. The one thing that causes a disconnect is the age difference. The daughter seems to be in her twenties, or maybe thirties; the mother is in her nineties. I guess Sarah lives Bible reference. Love this story, PoP- what with your screen name here, it sounds as if you tossed at least just a tiny bit of autobiography or perhaps wish fulfillment?

Hope to be back at it robustly this week! Reading between the lines and all that jazz to keep the word count down. Therefore, you, fellow writers, are my guinea pigs. She was no more than a skeleton covered by a thin, pale, and damp cheesecloth. Her eyes had nearly receded to the back of her skull, and her lips had pulled back to reveal her greying gums as death took its sweet time.

However, she was still a vision of beauty if I ever saw one. No other family members joined us that night she died. My father left when I was a toddler, so he and anyone on that side of the family were dead to us. They called once, if I remember correctly, but it was a misdial. So, for the longest time it was just me and my mother. I thought for sure it would end that way, too, but it turns out my father made a special appearance that night.

I moved from the chair and sat on the bed so I could be closer to her. In her final moments, she was blind, nearly deaf, and her voice nothing more than a dry whisper peppered with grits of sand.

I laid my head on the pillow next to hers, and listened to her softly wheeze. She turned toward me, and I felt her surprisingly warm breath tickle my ear. I closed my eyes to fight the pain, but a tear managed to escape down my cheek. When she mentioned him, I felt the bile of hate creeping at the back of my throat. I wanted to scream and cry and rage with violence and cuddle with my mother all at the same time.

The door opened and a tall man stepped into the room. He had his hands in the pockets of his black jeans and his plum collared shirt loosely buttoned at the top. He smiled at me, and remained by the door while my mother whispered into my ear. I needed to keep my anger for the man from ruining what I felt was the last moment I had with my mother, and I found it incredibly difficult.

He waved to apologize silently for interrupting. He grabbed the chart on the wall, wrote something on the top sheet, put it back, and quietly left the room. When my mother spoke again, she softly grasped my hand. There was a subtle tremble in her whisper. The thought that I would finally learn something about my father put me into overdrive. Goosebumps pinched my skin, and as I processed what she told me, I felt light-headed. Jay, if I read this correctly, the mother who lay dying was actually her own Father.

I love puzzles, all kinds. I liked your descriptions in the first half. Thought the doctor was her father at first but eventually put the pieces together. A small group of regulatory genes in the giraffe appear to be responsible for the animal's stature and associated circulatory adaptations. The IUCN currently recognises only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies.

This includes adjacent populations of Rothschild's, reticulated, and Masai giraffes. The Masai giraffe was also suggested to consist of possibly two species separated by the Rift Valley. Reticulated and Masai giraffes have the highest mtDNA diversity, which is consistent with giraffes originating in eastern Africa. Populations further north are more closely related to the former, while those to the south are more related to the latter.

Giraffes appear to select mates of the same coat type, which are imprinted on them as calves. Some of these populations number only a few hundred individuals and need immediate protection. A study using detailed analyses of the morphology of giraffes, and application of the phylogenetic species concept , described eight species of living giraffes.

A study also concluded that living giraffes consist of multiple species. Those four species are the northern giraffe G. In there were an estimated 90, individuals of Giraffa in the wild. The Rothschild's giraffe G. Its range includes parts of Uganda and Kenya. The dark spots may also have paler radiating lines or streaks within them. Spotting does not often reach below the hocks and almost never to the hooves.

This ecotype may also develop five "horns". Fully grown giraffes stand 4. The tongue, and inside of the mouth are covered in papillae. The coat has dark blotches or patches which can be orange, chestnut , brown, or nearly black in colour [19] separated by light hair usually white or cream in colour [19].

Male giraffes become darker as they age. The skin of a giraffe is mostly gray. At least 11 main aromatic chemicals are in the fur, although indole and 3-methylindole are responsible for most of the smell.

Because the males have a stronger odour than the females, the odour may also have sexual function. Both sexes have prominent horn-like structures called ossicones , which are formed from ossified cartilage, covered in skin and fused to the skull at the parietal bones.

The front and back legs of a giraffe are about the same length. The radius and ulna of the front legs are articulated by the carpus , which, while structurally equivalent to the human wrist, functions as a knee. The giraffe's pelvis, though relatively short, has an ilium that is outspread at the upper ends. A giraffe has only two gaits: Walking is done by moving the legs on one side of the body at the same time, then doing the same on the other side. A giraffe rests by lying with its body on top of its folded legs.

To get back up, it first gets on its knees and spreads its hind legs to raise its hindquarters. It then straightens its front legs. With each step, the animal swings its head. Intermittent short "deep sleep" phases while lying are characterised by the giraffe bending its neck backwards and resting its head on the hip or thigh, a position believed to indicate paradoxical sleep.

The giraffe has an extremely elongated neck, which can be up to 2—2. The giraffe's neck vertebrae have ball and socket joints. There are several hypotheses regarding the evolutionary origin and maintenance of elongation in giraffe necks. It suggests that competitive pressure from smaller browsers, such as kudu , steenbok and impala , encouraged the elongation of the neck, as it enabled giraffes to reach food that competitors could not.

This advantage is real, as giraffes can and do feed up to 4. This study suggests that maintaining a longer neck requires more nutrients, which puts longer-necked giraffes at risk during a food shortage. Another theory, the sexual selection hypothesis, proposes that the long necks evolved as a secondary sexual characteristic , giving males an advantage in "necking" contests see below to establish dominance and obtain access to sexually receptive females. Its long neck gives it a large amount of dead space , in spite of its narrow windpipe.

These factors increase the resistance to airflow. Nevertheless, the animal can still supply enough oxygen to its tissues and it can increase its respiratory rate and oxygen diffusion when running. The circulatory system of the giraffe has several adaptations for its great height. As such, the wall of the heart can be as thick as 7.

When it raises again, the blood vessels constrict and direct blood into the brain so the animal does not faint. To solve this problem, the skin of the lower legs is thick and tight; preventing too much blood from pouring into them. Giraffes have oesophageal muscles that are unusually strong to allow regurgitation of food from the stomach up the neck and into the mouth for rumination.

Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and open woodlands. They prefer Acacieae , Commiphora , Combretum and open Terminalia woodlands over denser environments like Brachystegia woodlands. Although herbivorous , the giraffe has been known to visit carcasses and lick dried meat off bones. During the wet season, food is abundant and giraffes are more spread out, while during the dry season, they gather around the remaining evergreen trees and bushes.

Giraffes have a great effect on the trees that they feed on, delaying the growth of young trees for some years and giving "waistlines" to trees that are too tall. Between these hours, giraffes mostly stand and ruminate. Rumination is the dominant activity during the night, when it is mostly done lying down. Giraffes are usually found in groups.

Traditionally, the composition of these groups has been described as open and ever-changing. These groups may regularly associate with one another in larger communities or sub-communities within a fission—fusion society. Giraffe groups tend to be sex-segregated [89] although mixed-sex groups made of adult females and young males are known to occur.

Particularly stable giraffe groups are those made of mothers and their young, [86] which can last weeks or months. However, as they get older males become more solitary but may also associate in pairs or with female groups. Although generally quiet and non-vocal, giraffes have been heard to communicate using various sounds. During courtship, males emit loud coughs. Calves will emit snorts, bleats, mooing and mewing sounds.

Giraffes also snore, hiss, moan, grunt and make flute-like sounds, [45] [91] and possibly communicate over long distances using infrasound [92] —though this is disputed. Reproduction in giraffes is broadly polygamous: Male giraffes assess female fertility by tasting the female's urine to detect oestrus , in a multi-step process known as the flehmen response.

When courting, dominant males will keep subordinate ones at bay. During copulation, the male stands on his hind legs with his head held up and his front legs resting on the female's sides.

Giraffe gestation lasts — days, after which a single calf is normally born, although twins occur on rare occasions. The calf emerges head and front legs first, having broken through the fetal membranes , and falls to the ground, severing the umbilical cord.

However, for the first 1—3 weeks, it spends most of its time hiding; [94] its coat pattern providing camouflage. The ossicones, which have lain flat while it was in the womb, become erect within a few days. Mothers with calves will gather in nursery herds, moving or browsing together.

Mothers in such a group may sometimes leave their calves with one female while they forage and drink elsewhere. This is known as a " calving pool ". The length time in which offspring stay with their mother varies, though it can last until the female's next calving. Spermatogenesis in male giraffes begins at three to four years of age. Male giraffes use their necks as weapons in combat, a behaviour known as "necking".

Necking is used to establish dominance and males that win necking bouts have greater reproductive success. In low intensity necking, the combatants rub and lean against each other.

The male that can hold itself more erect wins the bout. In high intensity necking, the combatants will spread their front legs and swing their necks at each other, attempting to land blows with their ossicones. The contestants will try to dodge each other's blows and then get ready to counter. The power of a blow depends on the weight of the skull and the arc of the swing. After a duel, it is common for two male giraffes to caress and court each other. Such interactions between males have been found to be more frequent than heterosexual coupling.

The proportion of same-sex activities varied from 30—75 percent. Only one percent of same-sex mounting incidents occurred between females. Giraffes have high adult survival probability, [98] and an unusually long lifespan compared to other ruminants, [99] up to 25 years in the wild. Some parasites feed on giraffes. They are often hosts for ticks , especially in the area around the genitals, which has thinner skin than other areas. Giraffes may rely on red-billed and yellow-billed oxpeckers to clean them of ticks and alert them to danger.

Giraffes host numerous species of internal parasite and are susceptible to various diseases. They were victims of the now eradicated viral illness rinderpest. In Tanzania, it appears to be caused by a nematode , and may be further affected by secondary infections. Humans have interacted with giraffes for millennia. The San people of southern Africa have medicine dances named after some animals; the giraffe dance is performed to treat head ailments.

The giraffe was also known to the Greeks and Romans , who believed that it was an unnatural hybrid of a camel and a leopard and called it camelopardalis. Individual captive giraffes were given celebrity status throughout history. In , a giraffe was shipped from Malindi to Bengal.

I shook my head. I walk those tracks every day after practice to keep my footwork nimble. I know every loose board and rock on the tracks inside town, and the rules say every item can be found within city limits.

The only loose railroad spike inside town is on the bridge that crosses the river. All the rest get checked and replaced often. But, what are we supposed to do? Risk our lives to get the spike?

I have an idea, but we have to get there before anyone else. Otherwise, one of these brainiacks from the football team is going to get killed. Because it takes about twenty minutes for amateurs to cross the tracks, and a train comes every twenty five minutes. Getting the spike loose from the track would take anyone more than five minutes, even me. But I have a plan. I think I can do it without getting smashed by a hundred and fifty tons of rolling steel. We need to stop at my uncles on the way.

A blueprint for the task was forming in my mind. I would refine it when I knew what equipment Uncle Tim had available. We found harness, ropes, and rock hammers in the garage. My uncle had taught me how to use his equipment — in case he ever needed rescuing, he told me.

But I always knew real rescuers would reach him first if he ever got in a tight spot. It was just his excuse to spend time with me. That was okay with me. I loved hearing stories of his climbing adventures. Joey peppered me with questions on our way to the bridge, but I told him to shut up while I focused on how to set up the ropes and pulleys.

I wanted my plan ready when we got there. As we approached the bridge, I worked out where to place my pulleys, and when we arrived at the bridge, I started strapping on the harness and tools.

I had Joey check my knots and pull hard on anything that might come loose at the wrong moment. I wanted no surprises once I got up there.

There were three spans of trusses on the bridge. Trusses are those parts that rise above the bridge bed, iron girders that strengthen the span. Most railroad bridges have two or three trusses, or more for longer spans. I needed to get to the middle span before I started climbing. Once I was all strapped up, and the pulleys and carabiners were easy to reach on my harness, we waited for the next train to pass. While we waited I had a talk with Joey.

If you go out on the bridge, you could get killed by a train, or fall off. Both of our mothers refused to let us have them because of rumors of bullying, and all the bad press surrounding social media.

Pay phones on high school grounds had been disabled since the advent of cell phones. Joey would have to run back into town to the closest phone, nearly a mile away. They were both burly guys. Stewart was on the wrestling team, and Gill was an all-around bad dude who listened to no one. Joey is kind of small for his age. So I handed him one of the two hammers I had brought, the one with a rubber head.

Not hard, and not on the head. Better a broken leg than dead. Before he answered, a train came growling around the bend. As the train passed, I hitched two sets of ropes around my shoulders, let them hang beneath my arms, and then sprinted up the sloped scree.

I chased the train down the track, timing my steps to land on the railroad ties. Since I walked the tracks daily for football training, it was not hard. Most people have a hard time with the awkward span and end up stepping between the ties, but my legs knew from experience how far to place each step, even when I skipped a tie. I flew down those tracks. When I reached the middle truss, I stopped, assessed the climb, and started up.

I wanted to be up off the railroad as fast as possible. When I reached a horizontal beam, I scooted out toward the middle, climbing around each vertical beam, until I saw the loose spike sticking up out of one of the ties below. At the closest juncture of horizontal and vertical beams, I tied a prusik knot on each side of the horizontal beam and attached the small pulley. Then I ran a length of light line through the pulley to my belt. I would let the line play out as I climbed up.

I also set up a carabiner and rope as an arrester line in case I fell while climbing. It was not easy. The metal beams were rusted, and bits of rust flaked off turning my hands red. I felt sharp iron bits biting into the skin of my hands and arms as I climbed, but there was nothing I could do about it. I wished I had remembered gloves. Also, my arms and legs were strong, but I was used to climbing rope, not thick, flat metal.

When I passed a horizontal beam, I climbed up on inside. If I had climbed outside, the lower pulley line I rigged would be useless. My hands were full of metal splinters already. I reached higher, and screamed bloody agony when a rusty metal needle stuck deep into my palm.

I lost my grip. The beam angled at sixty degrees, so I jammed my sneaker into the inside of the I-beam as I started to slide down its length. It twisted my foot sideways, but it stopped me.

I hung onto the beam and let my heart rate drop, then continued climbing. I would worry about a sprain later. I was almost to the top, just reaching for a horizontal span when the bridge started to shake. Damn, I forgot about the trains. I grabbed the horizontal beam above, jammed both feet inside the vertical I-beam, and held on. The whole bridge shook like an earthquake in San Francisco. It felt like it would shake itself to pieces.

The metal clattered and rang like a dull bell. I thought I would lose my grip for sure, but eventually the shaking stopped. It seemed like hours, but it was only a minute; any longer would have been too long. When quiet returned, I scrambled up to the top span. I stopped, took several deep breaths, and dug the rusty iron needle out of the fleshy pad below my thumb. It bled until I applied pressure. I scooted out a bit, not quite to the middle, and tied another prusik knot, to which I suspended the nine-to-one pulley.

The mechanical advantage MA provided by the pulley should be enough to pull me up and out of the way of a train quickly. It would be much faster and more efficient than trying to pull myself up with sheer muscle power. And the smaller pulley attached to the side of the bridge would allow me to pull myself sideways out of the path of a train if necessary. I hoped it would not be needed. I had to work fast. The far truss span blocked my view of where he should be keeping watch.

I would have a few choice cuss words for him when I got down. One safety malfunction was too much. Hypervigilance was needed now. I double checked the security of my lines, and triple checked the pulley line while waiting for another train to go by. Even though one had just passed, I was unwilling to drop down until I had a maximum amount of time to work on loosening the spike. It had looked pretty solid when I saw it last, even though it stuck up from the tie.

I leaned over and peeked through the trusses to find out if I could see Joey by the bridge. What I saw blew me away. At the end of the bridge stood a crowd of about forty kids, all high-schoolers. Most of them had small rectangles pointed in my direction. Cell phones — they were filming. Then I wondered why there were so many, and how they found out, and why they were gathered at the end of the bridge. Were they waiting to see if I got hit by a train? My stomach turned at the thought.

I puzzled over this anomaly for nearly twenty minutes while picking at the splinters in my hands and wishing I had a cell phone so I could call them. Then I said, fuck it. I checked everything one more time as another train rushed beneath me, blasting me with hot air and noise.

As soon as it passed, I let myself down to the tracks with the rope and pulley. I grabbed the hammer from my belt, pulled at the spike, and, finding it embedded solidly in the tie, I proceeded to whack at it with the hammer over and over again.

After a while it started to budge sideways. I hammered first from one direction, then another, rocking it, opening the hole in the tie. I must have been working for the full twenty five minutes when I heard the crowd start screaming. They waved at me and pointed back down the tracks, as they shouted. I grabbed the rope above and started hauling myself up. I had forgotten that, at nine-to-one, the MA goes up, but the distance drops. I was only a foot or so up when I knew it would not be enough.

I grabbed the smaller cord from my belt and hauled on it as hard and fast as I could… and swung out of the way of the train barreling down on me, horn blasting like a demon from hell… just in time. As I grabbed the I-beam of the truss, I thought I felt the train brush the back of my shirt. It might have been just my imagination, but, damn that was close. After the train was gone I looked for the spike. The train had knocked it loose.

It was lying on the steel girder beside the tie. I dropped down, grabbed the spike, let myself loose from the harness, and sprinted across the tracks to where the crowd stood cheering. When I got there, I collapsed — off the tracks. While I sat there, and people cheered and shouted, Joey pushed his way into the crowd.

Thank God you made it. A lot of good explanation and a great reminder that a story can be about simple actions in a normal place and still be exciting. I liked the writing and the story here. I almost blew it with the mechanical advantage.

Going uphill in a higher gear takes less muscle power, but you advance a shorter distance with each stroke than with lower gears. I was going to rag you for the length but you were right, the story deserves it. This is a gripping tale well told, with plenty of the small details that make it not only plausible and entertaining but believable.

There were too many variables that could get called out. I still felt bad about the length, though. Cat had a raspy voice that made plague doctor uncomfortable. Skeleton walked up to the door, leaving the other three behind. Cat and plague doctor turned to see what skeleton was doing and even Guy Fawkes let his eyes stray from the gun, dropping his arm to his side. Skeleton approached the door and looked in through the glass door and moved from side to side in order to see the entire inside.

Then, he put his hand into his sleeve, balled it into a fist and swung it full-power at the glass, shattering it quickly. Skeleton turned back to see him and called cat and Guy Fawkes back. I think we oughta take our masks off, introduce each other and move from there. They looked from one to another. Skeleton took this silence as a yes to his idea. More of the brown hair became slowly visible along with a pale forehead.

Plague doctor immediately thought he had entered the Twilight Zone and would soon discover he was surrounded by pig-looking people. Plague doctor turned to see that cat had seen Guy Fawkes too. The smile of the mask made it even more ominous, the ringing, the smile, the way his hand remained pointed up. As Plague doctor regained his balance he saw a tear streaming down the mask.

Cat walked over to Guy Fawkes and plague doctor. Cat had thought of skeleton as the leader, what would happen to this team with just the silent plague doctor and the obviously crazy Guy Fawkes? Plague doctor stayed behind for a minute, to look back at skeleton. But the mask was lying perfectly on his face so still only the brown hair was showing. With that, Plague doctor walked away. Not sure if the killer is the orchestrator or if this is a study in human nature where the note becomes true because of the fear it instills in the participants.

Nice job keeping the tension up and the questions going. Very Twilight Zone, Colonel. And I mean the good one, not the new one. This, along with part one, comes together as a lovely story about the influence of human fear. My style advisor notes that paragraphs 5 and 6 each contain an awkward phrase. As the night had gone on, it became increasingly clear to Mr.

Carlisle and his guests that his party was beginning to die down. The excitement that had happened previously in the night, involving drinking and dancing and gossiping, had done a complete turnaround. Where there once had been drinking, there was flat-tasting beer and wine that had been drank so much it had lost flavor. Where there had once been dancing, there was Mr. Carlisle and his five party guests, who were all friends, who were all couples, who were all sitting in a semi-circle on his sofa and living room chairs and piano bench.

Where there was gossip, there was awkward silence. Carlisle took this all in, he realized that his guests were becoming bored. Astor took a long drag of her cigarette in its long holder, blowing the smoke out into a ring in the center of their semi-circle.

Brighton sighed and finished the little wine he had. Carlisle looked to his beloved wife for help, for anything of use, but she was too busy staring at the rest of the guests. An idea to entertain ourselves, I mean. No disrespect to Mr. Carlisle heard his wife chuckle lightly to the left of him, just outside of his peripheral vision. We have lives now, and responsibilities. What has really changed? When our parents would go off on business trips out of the country together and we would be holed up our mansions all of the time?

We had to think of something else to do. Those hunts were our lives when the yacht club closed. Astor said, grinning widely, sweeping his feathery brown hair with a recent streak of grey, Mr. Carlisle noticed, no doubt from the most recent stock market crash back behind his ear.

Should we play with the same rules? The gentlemen versus the women? An hour allotted to obtain each item? You remembered the rules after all of these years? Brighton asked, clearly impressed. Astor sniped back with a smile.

A second gentle smattering of polite laughter followed, which Mrs. Brighton, again as always, took part in herself. It was the third hour of the hunt, with only the Carlisles left to complete their task, obtaining a beef tongue. Astor had found the right ear, scoring a point for the gentlemen. It had all came down to Mr. Carlisle versus his wife.

Carlisle had departed for their item with a kiss to each other, as was custom for the game. It was a symbol of good fortune and sportsmanship on their part, and was something that made Mr. Carlisle proud to be among such noble and good friends.

The barn the Carlisles had chosen for their task was off the main road about ten minutes out. It was too moody and unpredictable. Carlisle had repented and there he was, in the heat of the moment, ready to get his prize. He had begun, as he always had, sneaking around the barn stealthily, so as to not wake any of the filthy animals inside.

He approached the barn door cautiously. He moved it just a bit, to test it for any creaking. Carlisle loved it when he was this lucky on the hunts.

The door swung open easily, and he crept inside. He could already smell the poor hygiene on the animals in the barn. Astor had been here, he knew she would have gagged quite a bit, and maybe even thrown up. But he would press on. He walked further into the one-room barn, which was lightly furnished.

He quickly searched for the cow. It had to be the right cow and the right tongue to win the hunt for his fellow gentlemen. It had to be just right. Finally, in one corner of the room lying on the floor on damp newspapers, Mr. She was slightly darker than the rest of the animals, but not significantly so. She was not a hideously overweight animal, but just enough to where Mr. Carlisle could tell that she was an overeater. The eyes of Mr.

The socialites sat again in their semi-circle, each with a drink in hand, reminiscing about their most recent scavenger hunt. Carlisle had won it for the gentlemen, and they were all toasting to their success in good fun. Brighton replied, brandy in one hand and a cigar in the other. Louis Farrell, age forty-five. He had been living with his mother, and refused to work picking the crops in favor of sleeping.

He was like a pig in his lazy ways. Selena Gutierrez, age twenty-two. Barbara threatened her with a pocketknife for money, and she obliged, and threatened my poor wife. She was like a cock in a cock fight, so violent for nothing. Carlisle let his wife relate the story of their item, the beef tongue. Her tendencies for overeating and gluttonous ways of not feeding her starving children lead to her ultimate choosing.

The group of wealthy socialites continued their light discussion, while a severed human ear, amputated foot and grey, slimy tongue sat in individual buckets of ice on the Carlisle coffee table.

Astor said, shuddering slightly and nearly spilling her red wine. The poor really are a nuisance to this country. To let us reaffirm ourselves of our good choices in life over their poor ones when we feel low. There was a gentle smattering of polite laughter, and Mr. Carlisle joined in for the first time in years.

After their friends had left for the evening, the Carlisles destroyed the items and got ready for bed. Carlisle felt very good that evening, he felt young and fresh and alive. He was pleased with the latest scavenger hunt, and wanted to do something else to recapture the days of his youth. He got his idea once he and his wife had settled into bed. Hold another dinner, you know. This was so dark and well-written. Such an awful group of people. I worry about what they consider a fox hunt.

I feel like I am watching the formation of some sub-political party for some reason. I liked this, it had a classic feel to it. The writing is good though I would suggest looking at the hads and turning those sentences more active. Other than a little cleaning up I think you have a strong story that could become a masterpiece of commentary on the current problems with the divides both between wealth classes and types of people that are only strengthened by a lack of fellowship and understanding.

The attitude of bored indifference works very well with the simply-stated cruelty to produce a truly chilling tale. Just start from the beginning. Rachel was obviously still traumatized by the events of Halloween night, even though it had been two weeks since the incident.

Rachel sighed, shaking like a leaf. She looked into the gentle, friendly eyes of the officer and began her tale of terror.

What are we, 6? Ruth had always been the most mature of her circle of friends, whereas Taylor was the most childish. She was always up for a little adventure to shake up her otherwise mundane life.

Eric and Luke nodded in agreement. Rachel and Taylor were looking at the scavenger hunt list while Ruth held onto the bag containing the objects they had collected.

We just have one last thing to find. As soon as she heard the last object on the list, she knew exactly where they could find one. Taylor and Ruth gasped in shock at the mention of Raven Rhinethorn. Raven was a former classmate of theirs, but the girls never talked to her.

Due to her Gothic appearance and fascination with demons and the supernatural, she was a loner and had no friends. Raven was expelled from school and since then, nobody had heard from her. It was as if she had vanished off the face of the Earth. Rachel had always been uncomfortable about the way her friends and the rest of her classmates treated Raven. Whenever she saw people laugh at her or gossip about her, she felt deep sympathy for the isolated girl.

After a few moments of thought, Taylor finally gave in. The house was very dilapidated and was in desperate need of a paint job. The windows were all darkened and no sound was coming from within the old house.

Taylor glared silently at Rachel, furious that her friend had dragged them out into the middle of nowhere for nothing. As soon as her fist made contact with the door, it flew open.

Rachel stuck her head inside and saw the house was immersed in darkness. They caught up to Rachel just as she was going upstairs. What she saw rocked her to the core. Lying on the black-carpeted floor were the lifeless bodies of Ryan, Eric, and Luke. They were lined up side by side, stripped of their shirts.

What was even more disturbing were the symbols engraved into their skin. Small, elaborate hieroglyphics were carved into their stomachs and chests. Rachel backed up into the corner and began to cry. Ruth stood in the doorway, her mouth open in horror. The booming voice took the horrified girls by surprise. They looked around the tiny bedroom, but it was empty except for them. Rachel could hear the sickening crack of bones as Taylor hit the wall.

Taylor fell to the carpet in a heap, the back of her head smashed in. All of a sudden, the booming voice returned. Rachel screamed as Ruth fell to the floor, blood spurting onto the carpet. Desperate to escape this house of horrors, Rachel scrambled to her feet and made a run for the stairs. As she did, she heard the evil voice shout one last thing at her:. As Rachel ran out of the house, she stumbled on the porch steps and hit her head on a rock. Having just remembered the worst night of her life, Rachel felt like she had went through the ordeal all over again.

Then, she whispered something to Rachel. Instead of comforting Rachel, it sent chills down her spine. This reads like it could be the script to a horror movie. Nicely done and some intense and creepy but not overly graphic imagery. That line as the girl is running is off, you paint an arrogant demonic presence, then give it defeatist leanings only to come back.

I like this one. My style advisor notes that the last two paragraphs would be stronger if abridged something like this:. The room was small, brick.

The man with a skeleton mask and a red sweatshirt woke up first, pushing himself up off of the ground to find the crumpled piece of notebook paper. Soon, the other three woke up too and skeleton passed the paper around. He read it over and passed it to the last of them, wearing a cat mask.

The skeleton picked the paper back up and began pacing. He read the instructions out loud. You much find all of these items with the help of your team.

There is another team one boy and one girl with the same list and instructions. The first team to find these three items will win. The losing team will be killed. You have all been given masks to conceal your identity. Any participant who tries to take the mask off or tell the others about themselves will be killed.

Now, you best get started! As far as you know, the other team could already be started! When he looked up he saw Guy Fawkes messing with a small gun. Plague mask and cat mask stepped back too.

Plague doctor felt around in his pants and felt one, finally speaking up. I have one too. Plague doctor wished he could see their eyes. The masks dehumanized them.

Made him feel like anyone could point their gun at him and shoot at any time. Or he could point his at them. A bit Saw like. Blood pounding, through her ears and eyes. Sweat, sweat running, as she tries not to die. Feet, feet racing, as she hopes to understand. The last, the last item, unique in all the land. List flapping, nearly everything crossed off. Men, men chasing, with all of whom she is now wroth Guns, guns popping, bits of metal have flown by Head, head turning, as she flees beneath the sky.

Stolen, in passion, the secret codes would be. Then beneath the nuclear fire, America would see. Oh, no I think we avoided that. There was a lot of power here though I would suggest changing the format. The repeated words are a bit strange when they are in the same line but work well when you have one word then repeated it in a line after a carriage return.

However, formatting was the only thing I would suggest looking at. The flow and the poetry to it were wonderful and the story well done. I like the poetic touch, Manwe. It draws me in to the world and does a great job of creating suspense without directly describing the action. But these are just my thoughts. It had a certain musical symmetry to it. I liked how you started each stanza with a single repeated words, but then kept the subsequent repeated words in line with their mates.

qq音乐是腾讯公司推出的一款网络音乐服务产品,海量音乐在线试听、新歌热歌在线首发、歌词翻译、手机铃声下载、高品质无损音乐试听、海量无损曲库、正版音乐下载、空间背景音乐设置、mv观看等,是互联网音乐播放和下载的优选。. Usually done to characterize the Corrupt Corporate Executive, the Mr. Vice Guy, the Mega-Corp, and members of the Fiction Compare Appeal to Wealth, I Thought It Was Forbidden, Conspicuous Consumption, Undisclosed Funds, Idle Rich, Bribing Your Way to Victory.. Contrast Miser Advisor, who doesn't have the money, but "screws the rules" in order to get it. Editor’s Note: The following article has been contributed by well known relocation and survival retreat expert Joel Skousen and the Strategic Relocation week Mr. Skousen focused on retreat locations for those living in high population centers located in the southwestern part of the United States like Los Angeles and Phoenix. This week, we switch coasts and head to the Southeastern U.S.