Monthly Archives: August 2012

Snow White And Rose Red (The Curse Of The Huntsman) By Lilly Fang

“Snow, what’s troubling you?” she asked, patting my hair, her eyes alarmed.

I glanced back at the wagon. “The fortunteller pricked my finger,” I began. “She was talking of trouble and someone who would be after me.”

My mother narowed her eyes. “Stay away from those who work in blood. It’s dangerous and evil to do blood magic. Never let someone have a drop of your blood again, do you hear me? It’s very important.”

This novella was a great read and I got it for free at Amazon. Based largely on the Snow White fairy tale of when we were kids, there were elements of the tale in this story, yet it was also very different. No, there weren’t any dwarfs named Happy, Dopey and Doc, but there was a mirror, an evil woman and a Huntsman.

Rose Red is named for the Rose Festival where, for two weeks out of the year, the town gathers to pick the roses. The roses are used for various things, for example, the petals are boiled down to make dyes. Not only that, but the more the townspeople pick, the more food they receive for the long winter ahead. Snow White, Rose Red and their mother do what they can to make sure that they have picked as many of the beautiful red roses as it is just the three of them.

Each year on the first day of the Festival of Roses, young men would leave a rose for the girl they thought the prettiest. Rose Red knew that she would never get any roses…she never did. Snow White got them all. Well, that is until the morning of her fourteenth birthday. That morning, Rose Red received her first rose from an anonymous suitor. A boy that would fight for her.

Something else happens to Rose Red that she never knew about until the morning of her birthday–she has a magical power. So does Snow White and her mother. Snow White is able to control water, her mother is able to make the roses bloom, and Rose Red discovers that she can control fire.

Rose Red doesn’t know it yet, but there are other magical creatures amongst them. Strangers come into the town, one of them being the Huntsman. Snow White is immediately drawn to him. He’s flawed, scarred, but she can’t help but want to be near him. She longs for his voice to call her name. Rose Red doesn’t like the looks of him, and their friend William always seems to warn Snow White against being near the Huntsman. Even the Huntsman can’t understand why Snow White would want to be near him since she is so beautiful and he isn’t.

There is a forest nearby that is not safe for the villagers to go into. However, several young girls have gone missing, a monster taking them. Several of the young girls think that Rose Red has something to do with the disappearance of the girls since these particular girls were always taunting Rose Red and Snow White. She doesn’t like the girls that tease them, so does Rose Red have something to do with the girls going missing? What is this monster, and if it’s the reason the girls are going missing, then why? And, what do these strangers to the village have to do with Rose Red and Snow White? Are they in danger from these strangers, or are there other things to fear in this village?

Both girls are brave, fighting and helping others when they need to, but most of all, caring for each other. Rose Red’s character is the emotional driver in this story, moving the pace forward quickly with each step she took.

Set in multilple first person POV, with Rose Red and Snow White each being the narrators of the their story, I loved how the story unfolded since this is my own preferred writing style. I enjoyed the story, wishing only that it could have been longer.

I give this story 5 stars.

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Cake Icing, Butt Budder & Tea Lids By Renee Andrews

Taking a deep breath, I worked on convincing myself that this wouldn’t be so bad. I was a Thibodeaux, wasn’t I? I could handle having my wedding cake on display for the general public for the next fourteen years. No problem. Or, as Aunt Edna says, no biggee. They’d root me on as I tried to find my groom. It’d be fun.

Right?

“Okay,” I repeated. I leaned back from Mama, grinned. “Piece of cake,” I said then laughed at the pun. “Guess we should go help build my groom.”

This is a story about love, family and life–and about following your heart. This is a laugh out loud story that will make you fall in love with all the characters. They’re all crazy, but it’s a good crazy. Even the title is crazy. By the first few pages, you’ll wish that you were a Thibodeaux too.

The book starts out with Delilah Thibodeaux having just given birth to Jezebel. Delilah and Edna are both single who help to raise this blessed child. The father is unaware of the birth of the baby or even that the baby is even his. Delilah had a good reason for keeping the baby a secret from the daddy.

As the child grows up, working alongside her wonderfully attentive Mama and Aunt, we learn more about the title of the book. Delilah and Edna own a Cakery, where they make fine cakes and pastries. At the Cakery, Jezze starts learning about cakes…and life.

You see, life is like a cake. Each layer a different aspect of your life. Sometimes life is like sweet buttercream and can be enjoyed. Other times, life throws in coconut, the hard times in your life. Jezze learns that it should be expected. Still, if it were up to her, she’d like her life cake to be filled completely with buttercream.

Each Christmas in Lousianna, the town would have a bonfire contest to see who could make the biggest, best structure to burn. The sisters get it in their heads that they’d like to build a bonfire this year, their first year. Delilah comes up with the “blue prints” for a structure…Jezze’s Man. The structure sports a bride at the top of the wooden cake, with Jezze’s Man standing fourteen feet away from the cake…each year they make the cake, Jezze’s Man would move another foot closer to the top. Jezze is ten when they start this…that leaves her fourteen years to find her “right” man.

I told you about the part of the title called “Cake Icing”, but what has “Butt Budder” got to do with it? And, what the heck is butt budder anyway? And “Tea Lids?” Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out.

I laughed out loud repeatedly throughout the book. If you have any sense of humour at all, you won’t be able to stop yourself. In one section, I felt my heart wrench as tears rolled down my cheeks during a hard time. I felt my insides go all gooey when Jezze described how she felt when she meets her “right” man. Jezze’s Man. I wanted to be Jezze.

This is a crazy story that will leave you wondering why it had to end. You’ll be wanting more from these characters. Too bad there isn’t a second book.

This book is only .99 cents, but should be priced higher…don’t miss it. A great humour book that will maybe teach you a thing or two about life, love, family and having it all. It’s never to late to love or to find your “right” man.

I give this book 5 stars!

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Kidnapped Writer By Eve Gaal & Short Story Press

Once on the turnpike, Viola could play her favorite music and watch the city recede in her rearview mirror. Life is a game, she thought to herself and the trick is to out maneuver the lions or maybe to somehow morph yourself into becoming a lion. Visualizing herself as a lion made her laugh, especially when she noticed some white little animals grazing by the side of the road. They were either sheep or goats, but the speed of her car made it hard to recognize the docile little creatures nibbling on the grass. They were safe. There are no lions here and the farther she drove from the city, the more she realized that the lions were behind her, locked in tall skyscrapers and holding poisoned pens.

This short story is the second one from this author about this same character. If you look back through my list of reviews, I reviewed her short story that was part of an Noir anthology called Thirteen Stories. Now Viola is back and she continues to not have one of her best days.

The story starts out with Viola finding out that she has been down-sized…she no longer works at The Examiner as a journalist, but now in advertising. No matter that she’s worked hard on the stories that she has produced. It doesn’t seem to make much difference. She’s being cast down into advertising hell. She leaves visibly upset, leaving behind the lions to rip each other apart. She’s already in pieces.

As she drives out of the city, she doesn’t realize that there has been a car following her. When one of her car’s tires goes flat, the car behind her stops. She thinks they’ve come to help her. Next thing you know, she’s being forced into the back of their car.

She gets taken to a small diner and is seated next to a very sweet looking but crotchety old lady who is not afraid to speak her mind. She speaks of the diversity of this country, how her and her late husband came from across the ocean…she from Italy and he from Germany. She speaks about their children, how each one of them found someone to love that was not part of their same culture. A “melting pot” of love.

So, why was Viola kidnapped? What was the purpose of scaring the crap out of her to tell her about the love of this family? You’ll have to read it to find out. You’ll realize that love comes in all forms, shapes and colours. As a Canadian, we refer to that as a “mosaic”.

5 stars.

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Absorbed By Penelope Crowe

The sun was setting and shining unusual red lines of colour through my porch. A glint in the corner of the room caught my eye, and I remembered my gift. The box was a bit dented and the ribbon was slightly askew, but otherwise it looked intact. I opened the filigree envelope and read the card. The same dark script that wrote my name spelled the words “Her lady’s piece.” No signature, nothing else. One thing was for sure, it was not from Mick. But this was thrilling. I had chills and felt part of a mystery, or like a character in a book.

This short story is one that surprised me. I thought it was going to be a little bit of a prince-meets-ordinary-girl-falls-in-love type of story, but I was totally mistaken. This story took a totally different turn, a dark turn.

Violet is a young woman that seems to attract the wrong kind of men. Men who like to abuse her physically and mentally. Mick being one of those men. He treats her like crap, but for some reason, she keeps taking him back.

Then she finds a neat little package on her front step. A regal looking package. An intriguing package. Possibly from a secret admirer? And what is inside the package is just as regal; a beautiful ruby necklace.

She knows it couldn’t be from Mick, so who’s it from? She can’t figure it out, but at the moment, she doesn’t care. She just wants to wear the necklace.

But something happens when she puts on the necklace. Something that starts concerning Violet, and yet, makes Violet feel that she should take back some of the abuse that has been bestowed upon her.

This is a very dark short story. It won’t take you long to read, but it leaves you thinking that you’d want to get that necklace off as soon as possible. Will she take off the necklace? Can she take off the necklace? And, what about Mick? Will he fear her as she had feared him? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

5 stars!

 

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Wishbone By Brooklyn Hudson

There were chickens everywhere; some sitting on nesting boxes, others were gathering around his feet, still others scattering at the sight of him. He turned around. Another flash of movement caught his eye. He was sure he saw something outside the coops’ wire walls dart swiftly behind the side of the barn.

All we need is the two of us losing our minds.

He thought perhaps his eyes were deceiving him again, then shrugged it off and focused on the coop. No doubt the previous owners would be back for the birds or had made other arrangements for them. Chickens were messy and loud, and not anything he was interested in keeping. He wanted their lives to be simple now. The chickens would have to go.

***

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from Sarah!

Wow!

Really…what more is there to say but, wow!! This book grabs you right from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the final word…this book had me so enthralled, that I was sneaking peaks at it at work. I only do that with the books I really like. And I like this one.

It has been mentioned before that she is considered the female Stephen King. I’m not a King fan, so I’m going to propose that she is the female Dean Koontz. I like his writing better and find that this story is something he might write…although, I have to admit, this story is more like Misery…but, that’s beside the point.

The point is, is that this story will have you turning the page even when you shouldn’t be…you know, like when you have things to do at home but you’re neglecting them because you have to know what happens next.

As much as it’s like Misery, it’s also a little like The Box and Nightmare On Elm St. Being able to get something while someone else suffers…and then there are the real nightmares! (Ok, so I never saw the movie The Box, but I know the premise can’t be good.)

This book will have you rethinking making a wish the next time someone wants you to pull on one end of a wishbone. If you do make a wish, make sure it’s a good one…someone might have it in for you.

Julien Grenier was abused as a child living in France, feeling unloved by his abusive father, his mother having been killed during childbirth. His grandparents looked after him, but his father, Jerome, was still around to hurt him, even with his grandparents being there.

To this day, Julien continues to dream this same dream, reliving the moment when his grandfather dies, and Julien is hit once again. He never speaks about it to his wife, Rachael. He also tells her that he doesn’t want to have any children, but won’t tell her why. She keeps pressing him with the same result.

On their 9th wedding anniversary, Rachael comes home to their apartment to find an intruder in there. The intruder brutally rapes her, beating her. He leaves Rachael for dead, bleeding and unconscious.

What Rachael didn’t get a chance to tell Julien, was that she was pregnant. When she gets home from the hospital, she is in such a deep depression over having been attacked and losing her baby, that nothing Julien does, will or can help her. She withdraws even more, and it’s driving a wedge between them.

Julien and Rachael decide to get a brand new start in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. What they find is a large Victorian home that has a barn and land…and chickens. Along with the farm comes a mute girl named Sarah.

Julien has his office in the barn loft. While climbing the ladder to the loft, the brand new ladder rungs give way, causing him to fall and break his leg in several places, and requiring him to go see a specialist. When they get home, there is a cleaned chicken on the counter, ready to be cooked. When they eat it, they devour every bit of it, telling each other that it was the best chicken they had ever had.

Before they knew it, the chicken was gone, the carcass being the only thing left. Rachael finds the wishbone and tries to get Julien to play the childhood game. When he decides to play to placate her, Julien wishes for his leg to be healed. When he wakes up the next day expecting to have to go to the hospital for the surgery, he finds that his leg is completely better.

The wishes continue. They wish for things that they might not normally be able to have. An inground swimming pool for her, a motorcycle for him. But, the wishes get more devious, more threatening, more cutthroat.

Trust me when I say that you won’t be able to put this book down. I read it in a matter of a few days because it was that good. There were a few spelling mistakes that I noted, as well as missing punctuation marks in a few places…but a good reviewer can get past that to see the story behind it. This book is by far one of the best horror books I’ve read, and I only read Dean Koontz horror books. That is saying a lot.

For an added bonus, check out bit.ly/Blogspot-BonusChapter for a WISHBONE bonus chapter. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed about that either. The fun…er…magic…um…well, read the book for yourself…and the bonus chapter. You’ll get what I mean.

Oh, and 5 stars for this book!

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Worth Lying For By Lisa Cheney & Lisa Craig

The Shelby was parked way too close, but as long as I eased my door open there was enough room to get out. As satisfying as it would have been to bang my car door into his, I had to rise about such pettiness for the sake of the Shelby. A work of art is a work of art, no matter how big of an idiot the owner is. I lightly ran my fingertips over it’s smooth paint. Torturing myself further, I peeked inside the open passenger window at the red leather interior. Perfect. Damn it.

On the pristine leather of the passenger seat, next to an empty fifth of Jack Daniels and a couple baggies filled with suspicious-looking herbs, I saw a black duffle bag. Inside the unzipped bag I could see money: stacks and stacks of money. Not Monopoly money. Real, U.S. legal tender. Stupid drug dealing bottom-feeder, how do you end up with a Ford Shelby and a bag of cash while I’m looking for change under the floor mats of a Ford Escort?

This book is a humorous look at life over forty for almost every woman. Sadly, I can relate. Ok, maybe not the stealing of money, but the attributes associated with growing older.

Mary Minke is a 40+ mom of two grown daughters and a wife to a cop husband. Nick loves Mary which is evident in their banter back-and-forth with each other. However, Mary has other issues to deal with. Big, big issues. Like, about 60, 000 issues.

Mary is late for work as usual, her work shirt wrinkled and hanging out the window of her car to dry. Her laundry facilities at home are a little worse for wear as the washer konked out before the load was finished.

She’s scrounging around in her car, looking under the seats and under the floor mats for spare change so she can get a cup of coffee from the vending machine. But, that’s when she sees the car beside her, and the big, ole bag-o-cash. She takes the money and puts it in the trunk of her car, sight unseen. The perfect crime.

Mary races home to hide her money before her husband (the cop) comes home. She knew the guy that owned the car and knows him to be a drug addict/dealer so she doesn’t feel so bad about stealing the money. And since she didn’t get caught, she figures that all’s good. She buys a new washer and dryer (well, she needed them) and she buys a very expensive pair of shoes (well, she needed wanted them), justifying everything to her husband by telling him that she got them on sale and that the washer and dryer were needed.

But, money isn’t her only problem. Her oldest daughter, Allison, has always been the levelheaded one…but now she’s running off to be with her boyfriend who’s in a band instead of going to school. Now Allison won’t talk to her because she feels Mary is meddling where her nose doesn’t belong.

And, not just that, but now a close friend of hers is going to be moving away, and then the impending mid-life crisis of being 40+…it’s just not a good time for Mary. Well, that is until her and her other friend, Caryn, go away for a girls weekend to New York where shopping sprees are a must. Designer shoes, designer clothes…fancy foods, fancy hotels and expensive champagnes abound.

She spends money left, right and center. Will she get caught? What will happen if Nick finds out? How will she explain it to him? To her daughters? And, what about the “owner” of the money? Uh oh…that could be bad if he ever found out.

This book might not be for everyone. As I said, women over forty are going to relate to the emotions that Mary goes through, especially with her daughters. Being over forty, you will be able to relate to the way she feels about her body and work and the way she feels about “rewarding” herself for time served. Younger people might not understand that since they think everything is all-about-me.

This book will make you snicker (and maybe snort) and chuckle as you find yourself relating to Mary.

One thing I have to mention is in chapter 28, there is one whole paragraph that is repeated near the beginning of the chapter. Just wanted to point that out.

I rate this book with 4 stars!

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