If any of you have kept up with my 'Anna of Alaska' blog, or my Facebook profile, you know we're running out of fuel, and without fuel, there will be no internet, or even much writing, unfortunately. Ultimately, I may have to resort to paper and pencil. Gee, I wonder if I remember how to write with a pencil (without grammar and spell-check).
At any rate, in an effort to stretch what we have for as long as possible, the generator has been off for a serious chunk of the day, and though I have a fabulous battery on my computer, it doesn't quite bridge the gap. That 'dark' time does, however, leave room for my second, and much neglected, passion - reading.
Last winter I won four books. It was really quite amazing - I've never really won anything before (nothing worth mentioning anyway). I started one of them right away, but what with the crush of work, it took me a LONG time to finish it.
AND THE DEVIL LAUGHED by Carole Sutton
Since I'm a fiction/science fiction fan, I'm afraid my review will be a little biased. However I did like the story. Hanna Ford is a woman, a police officer, and in this story, she is working undercover. She is also recovering from having been raped - a serious blow not only to her body, but also to her self confidence as a police officer.
Her undercover job was supposed to be fairly simple. Look into a drug smuggling operation in a small town and try to figure out how it was being done. Being an investigative story, clues and problems were dripped in, keeping me delightfully strung along as Hanna met people and asked questions. Threaded through the story is a second mystery, one that hit much closer to home in more ways than one. A popular local barmaid had been raped and murdered brutally, and the woman happened to be a cousin. Well, I won't give the whole story away. Suffice it to say, Hanna did her best to investigate both crimes, which, thanks to the so small town that housed both affairs, were closely intertwined.
As I said before, I liked the story and I would recommend it. There was one thing that bothered me about it. I'm going to blame it on the genre though. The ending climax seemed hurried. Yes, the events were intense, and there was a rush to save lives and capture the bad guys before they got away, but I felt it was all tumbled together in a rush. What with all the methodical care with details that the rest of the book was filled with, the ending felt jerky. Aw well, that's the writer in me talking.
The second book I read is a collection of three shorter stories. In BENEATH A CHRISTMAS MOON the stories all took place on Christmas eve. These stories tip toward romance, another one of my not-so-favorite genre. That said, once again I liked all three of these stories. They weren't too terribly cheesy like some I've read.
The first story, LANDER'S MOON by Eden Robins should not have been the first story in this book. Though the story was sweet, the writer made so many of the beginner writer's mistakes, it nearly spoiled the plot all together. The point of view drifted. The two main characters were nearly carbon copies of each other in their actions and reactions to each other. And repeats abounded. If this story was edited, the editor should be fired. Though I didn't see any typos, such mistakes should have long since been weeded out.
The second story, PARADISE DESIGNS by Ariana Dupre was much better. It was a really cool twist on mythology brought to reality. But still, there were actions that were physically impossible and certain details noticed that certainly shouldn't have been. Who looks for compassion in the eyes of a lion when the lion is only inches away. There were minor discrepancies in background details that might be missed by the casual reader. In a house that had a staff, only one such person was ever seen. Maybe that's the way it was, but that's not what we were led to believe. And never before have I read an example of a character being treated like a simpleton. The house keeper gives the guest a map of the house and points out points of interest on it, and stipulates that the third floor is off limits, then she leaves the guest to her own devices. Fine by me - sounds reasonable. But then she hand carries the woman to her room and covers it all again as if she'd never given out the map in the first place. There were other flaws in the details that really bothered me. This story really needs a serious rewrite. However, I'd still recommend it. Get past all the writerly flaws and it's a very nice gentle romance.
The third story, was by far the best of the three and should have led the collection. VAMPIRE'S CHRISTMAS CAROL by Karen McCullough was a heart wrenching, touching story about a man determined to die rather than take a human life to feed his vampire hunger. When Carol Prescott knocks on his door, his plan might not be so successful. Stranded in a blizzard, Carol didn't have much choice. It was either freeze to death out in her car or weather the company of a vampire starving to death. The only flaw I could find in this story is that it was over far too soon, and yet it should not have been longer. And yes it had a happy ending, but I'm not going to tell you what it is. You'll simply have to read it for yourself.
The third book I read, WHISPERS by Erin Grady, brings together a disparate collection of people in an effort to solve a very very old mystery. The only thing that bothered me about this story was, in putting the pieces of the puzzle together, one piece was left out. By the end of the story all the characters were connected and the connections explained - all but one. It seemed to me that in the effort to tie all the characters together, if this one was not suddenly left out, the romantic thread, so strong throughout the story, would have been thwarted and perverted, so the author decided to cast his piece of the puzzle outside of the box. I think another solution could have been found. For me, that small detail was it's own sorrow, though the romance was now possible. But that's just me. I do like things to be logical, even if twisted and unexpected.
In reading this story, I was sucked in. Every few chapters, a few chapters taking place in 1896 were inserted and they too were enthralling. I really don't care for this format but that's just my opinion. It was successful in bringing all the pieces together at a single point and thus answering all the questions along the way. The only mistake I found was a single reference to ball-bearings. I really don't think there were such a thing as ball-bearings in 1896, not in the wilderness of Colorado anyway. If the horseless carriage had made it to Colorado then, it wasn't mentioned in this book, and I'm not that tight a history buff. I would recommend this book to anyone with a fancy toward hauntings and mysteries. The characters were well developed with complicated histories and their own reasons for coming along on this journey. Read it and join the journey with them.
I'm working on the fourth book now. SENSITIVITY 101 FOR THE HETEROSEXUAL MALE by Philip Nork. I've only just cracked it. First impressions - though tender, I might have trouble getting through it, but only because reading short stories is very frustrating for me. I'll tell you all about it when I've finished, and I will finish it.