First, overall impressions, and then book-specific reviews at the end.
I must mention, before I lapse into a state of forgetfulness, that I read to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, during our recent trip to Florida. First, I read Dave Freer's "The Road to Dundee," which I have reviewed on Amazon. She loved it, and wants it made into a movie. Then, I read "Hunted," by Amanda, under her pen-name of Ellie Ferguson. She liked that a LOT, and I may have to read to her the rest of the trilogy. Finally, I read two of Cedar's short stories to her, "Memories of the Abyss" and "Fairy Little Sister." And, as might be expected, she loved them, and wants them made into HALLMARK movies (this time, she was specific).
Before we were married, but after we were engaged, I gave her a copy of Starship Troopers, and told her that if she wished to understand the Patterson Boys, she needed to read this book. That's been more than four years now, and I KNOW she hasn't read it. I also had her watch The Princess Bride with me and then 6 year old Kenneth and 5 year old Alicia, and they loved it, but it didn't quite fit for her. However, when we watched The Big Lebowski together, she quickly began calling me Walter, and she also thinks I resemble the character John Malkovich played in RED. I cannot disagree with either of those decisions.
I wasn't sure, though, how she was going to react to Mad Genius Club writings. I have, at times, made her slightly suspicious when I have raved about something I've read, and she looked at me funny when I proposed going to Liberty Con because of the double weddings (Sarah & Dan Hoyt and Cedar Sanderson &Sanford Begley, for those who read this who aren't Dinerzins).
As it turned out, my fears were groundless. I had to do a bit of preliminary exposition with 'The Road to Dundee', since some of the terms would be unfamiliar to her, and also explain that the main character in 'Hunted' was a shape shifter, but that was only a matter of a few minutes.
I was a little surprised that she enjoyed "The Road to Dundee" so much. I thought the fact that the woman is a supernatural being might put her off, but I think the message of betrayal and redemption far outweighs anything eerie, and evidently, she felt the same.
I am an utter ignoramus about trashy novels, which I believe are also referred to as 'Romance' novels. I get it that they are a huge market, and that a minimum of bodice-ripping is demanded, but when I first tried to read 'Hunted,' I stopped with the first steamy scene. I have been assured that it's mild, but it wasn't anything I had experience with. Since Vanessa HAS some experience with what she refers to as her trashy novels, I thought she would be a proper audience. And she loved it. Therefore, I had to entirely revise the earlier review I did for Hunted. Only the new review is below, although I believe the original is INCLUDED still on Amazon.
Fairy Little Sister and Memories of the Abyss are both short works.
Here are the reviews:
ROAD TO DUNDEE
I received a copy of 'The Road the Dundee' from the author to review.
The story is a re-telling of the traditional Scottish song, "The Road and the Miles to Dundee," with a great deal explained that is missing in the song.
The biggest question that comes up when reading or hearing the lyrics is this: what in the WORLD is a young woman doing all alone in the wilderness? In Dave's story, he makes explicit the dangers she would face; in the turmoil after the defeat of the Scottish forces at Culloden, Scottish refugees are fleeing across the land, looking for asylum, while 'Butcher Cumberland' (the youngest son of King George II) pursues to capture or put to death. A young woman alone would likely be quickly robbed, raped, and murdered, either by fleeing rebels or by roving patrols of the Brits.
Donald, the protagonist, has set out with revenge as his only goal. He has heard that his true love, Mary, has not waited for him after all, but has married a Scottish officer in the service of King George, and he plans to kill her for her infidelity. Too late, he discovers that she has left with her new husband,depriving him of a focus for his wrath. Without an army, without a love, without a hiding place, and now without a target for his vengeance, Donald comes upon a beautiful young maiden in the wilderness....
...who is no maiden at all, but an ancient water spirit, herself seeking vengeance for a long-ago wrong done to her. All she needs, in order to draw Donald's life from him, is for him to attempt to seduce her. Then she can feed on his life, and begin her search for her next victim.
But honor has a part to play as well, and sometimes victory is won in silence.
Okay, BRAND NEW review. Read the old stuff if you want to, just ignore it.
Hunted is the first in a the Hunter's Moon trilogy. It tells the story of Meg Finley, or Finn, a jaguar shape-shifter who is on the run.
When we meet her, she is working as a courier in Dallas, and has just discovered she has been located by trackers working for Michael Jennings, leader of a shifter clan in Northern California. Just as they attack her in a parking garage, along comes Matt Kincade, head of the Dallas clan. He takes her to safety, and then it gets weird.
Yeah, in a shape-shifter story, how do you tell?
Well, it seems that as soon as Meg comes into contact with Matt, she resonates with him, not only as a woman, but as a shape-shifter as well. Matt returns the feeling, but before he will proceed with the relationship, he has to figure out why a female Alpha is on the run, and not affiliated with, or even leading, a clan. That happens to be a bit of new information for Meg; since she has been on the run since age 15, she had no idea her persona was Alpha Female.
And the plot thickens.
Yes, romance lovers, they do the deed. It's not oppressive, and if you don't want to read that sort of thing, it's pretty easy to skip over it. You will still get a great story, because the book is much, much more than just an excuse for hot bodies to hook up. There is a great mystery at the heart of the book: why she had to go on the run, and where she fits into the overall scheme of shifter life.
I read the book to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, on a recent road trip to Florida. She loved the story, and assured me the interaction is mild mannered for Romance.
FAIRY LITTLE SISTER
It's a cute little story, and the cover design is so sweet it will require diabetics to take an insulin shot.
I do NOT know why adults think kids are utterly ignorant about everything. Gregory absolutely gets that his mother is going to have a baby, but the way the adults try to hide things from him make him a bit afraid something bad is going to happen.
I was just a bit older when I got my own fairly little sister, so I share some of his sense of joy and wonder in the process. I didn't have the great preliminary introduction, but, as always, everybody has a different story to tell. This is a very sweet story, and it would be good to read to any older brother or sister on the occasion of a new baby.
I paid for access to this book through the Kindle Unlimited program.
MEMORIES OF THE ABYSS
I love stories of redemption, and this one falls into that category.
It's got a creepy setting, and a slow, slow reveal. That's NOT a tedious 'slow, slow,' though, just a 'hang on every word' slow.
Here's the dedication to the story:
"For all those who still exist in a prison of their mind. Freedom is possible."
Violet is an inmate in a mental hospital. She avoids communication with anyone, mostly by her inability to talk. She will, when necessary, write and share what she has written in a notebook, but mostly, she prefers to be by herself.
She has one fiend: an old, quiet soul named Walter. He sees the shyness in her, and compares her to a kitten he once rescued. He allows her to proceed with him at her own pace, never hurrying her.
That allows her to open up, a bit, to her own memories. They are terrible, and give us brief glimpses of her abuse at the hands of a brutal husband. We aren't sure whether she murdered him or not, because she is not sure.
She is slowly recovering, but has a long, long way to go; and then Walter is found dead. He was her one link to humanity, and now he's gone. It could be an occasion for her to revert to total isolation, but instead, she musters her resources, and sets about solving the mystery of his death. n the process, she finds some adversaries, and some allies, but she perseveres.
If I told you more, I'd get into spoiler territory, so I'll stop here.
I purchased access to this book through the Kindle Unlimited Lending Library.