Novel Review: Tender Mercies by Kitty Thomas

Apparently, I lost track of time with this Memorial Weekend holiday and missed doing this review. My apologies to all one and a half of you who follow Ramblings of an Amateur writer religiously.

Not too long ago Kitty Thomas offered me a copy of Tender Mercies in exchange for a review. I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive after reading Guilty Pleasures (review here). Not a bad piece for those into no-games true BDSM, but it wasn’t quite the thing for this vanilla gal. On the other hand, I absolutely LOVED Comfort Food (review here). Before we go into whether Tender Mercies hit the spot or not, how about the blurb from Ms. Thomas’ website:

“Grace. That word that finally meant something again. Mercy. Favor. Good will.”

Fed up with play kink, Grace Warner moves to an island that embraces erotic slavery to be with a man she met online. Within hours of her arrival, everything is ripped from her, and she quickly learns play is preferable to the realities of actual enslavement.

Asher Collins has spent the past year mourning and blaming himself for the death of his slave, Darcy. When Grace catches his eye at a showing, obviously abused, he becomes obsessed with buying her and finding a way to atone for his own past sins.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction, and the author does not endorse or condone any behavior done to another human being without their consent. This work contains subject matter which is not appropriate for minors including depictions of abuse, slavery, dubious consent, and anal play.

Prologues seem to be going out of style these days. I mentioned a while back, quite a few folks skip prologues, like my daughter (to my surprise). Tender Mercies started off with a prologue, but unlike my daughter, I’m too afraid I’ll miss something to skip one. So into the prologue I delved into it. When I reached the end, my thoughts were, wow! that was good! It added wonderful insight into Asher’s personality and gave me an immediate connection. For those who skip prologues, I encourage you to give this one a shot. It left me quite satisfied.

So we get to the meat to the story. Riding along with Grace through the first few chapters was quite scary. Her desires to enter the BSDM world superseded rational thought. Yet in a way, I could relate to her desire to give up control but being too strong-willed and defiant do so in the normal world. Still, I couldn’t imagine taking the leap of faith she did. Don’t do it! I screamed at her. Of course she didn’t listen and paid the consequences for her choices. Such horrible consequences. I felt awful about the ordeals Grace faced… almost to the point I wanted to cry for her at times.

Then we have Asher. The introduction of Asher’s point of view is quite different from the prior works of Ms. Thomas. Whereas before, the males were secondary (though still important) characters in the story, this time around, we really get into the male mind. It was nice having an understanding of where he was coming from with the BDSM thing… a side I didn’t really get with the first two stories.

All in all, I truly enjoyed this work. I could totally see an island like the one in the story existing. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one did. It had the Anne Rice Exit to Eden kind of thing going. I didn’t fall in love with Tender Mercies like I did Comfort Food (keep in mind, only 3 works hit my all time favorites last year, Comfort Food being one of them), but Tender Mercies was well up there on the likeability scale. If you liked Comfort Food–the idea of a tortured woman finding herself–Tender Mercies might be right up your alley.

You can find Tender Mercies by Kitty Thomas at the following locations:

Smashwords

Barnes & Nobles

The Book Depository

Sunday Showcase #5

Okay… this week I got a little greedy at the NetGalley. I’m going to make good on them though. They’re all at the top of my reading list. I’m starting to get the hang of this NetGalley thing. I’ve learned not all copies are available for the Kindle, so I’ve been declining those that would require me to sit in front of the computer to read. Before my Kindle I would have read a galley copy with little complaint. With so many books available to read on my Kindle, constraining myself to a computer screen seems a bit pointless. Enough blab about convenience… on to my weekly grabs.

Life hasn’t been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she’s irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can’t stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma’s been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

Why I picked it up: The cover caught my attention because I think I might have seen this posted on someone’s blog. I read the blurb and thought… maybe. I figured I’d give it a try. This one I received from the NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

Why I picked it up: I’ve been seeing this cover for months and months now and love it. I’ve just got into the young adult genre last year and have developed a fondness for dystopia. It doesn’t hurt others have been raving about this one. Well, my copy finally came in this past week. It took me two days to read it. Let’s just say I enjoyed it. Though it’s early yet and the post won’t go live until June 6, 2011, here’s the review link for those who visit in the future.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.

Why I picked it up: I saw this advertised on Goodreads and clicked on the link for  more information. I’m a little up in the air about this one. Though the story sounds intriguing, I’m a bit skeptical about a novel spanning 40 years. How does one squeeze so much in a tiny little work? 🙂 Still, I’m going to give it a try. In fact, I’m starting it tonight. Who knows? I might be pleasantly surprised. I found this offered on the NetGalley and was approved for it. Thanks again NetGalley.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

“Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her.”

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she’s confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori’s body has not been found, and Alison can’t explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated—into nothing.

But that’s impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind—like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood—until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison’s case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her—and that she’s capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

Why I picked it up: Okay, this is just weird. I really don’t know what to expect from this one. Curiosity about what’s going on with Alison and her abilities has me intrigued. I don’t think this is available yet, but you can preorder it. Another NetGalley copy.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

By all accounts, Jake Daniels should have died when his SUV collided head-on with a moving truck. Now the vision of the mysterious woman who saved his life is consuming his every thought. A formerly nonreligious person, Jake becomes obsessed with learning more about angels, near-death experiences and spirituality. He leaves his fiancée and art career on hold to travel the country searching for the mystery woman, who he believes is an angel. As he’s drawn into a series of earth-shattering angel and demon experiences, Jake discovers he’s being prepared for an imperative task-to step into world affairs to prevent the clash of civilizations and reverse the violence and hatred of the post-9/11 world. As his search for answers leads him around the world and across faith traditions, Jake questions: Why him? Why now? And is it too late?

A riveting novel about the urgent spiritual and political questions we face in the 21st century, Messengers will leave you reconsidering your outlook on life and death-and why we are here.

Why I picked it up: I don’t pick up too many spiritual books these days. I would like to get back into Christian reading again. I came across the Messengers and it looked intense. I’m so hoping it is. Anyway, another NetGalley copy. I told you I went overboard.

Available at: Barnes & Nobles and The Book Depository

A free woman of color in the 1830s, Margaret Morgan lived a life full of promise. One frigid night in Pennsylvania, that changed forever. They tore her family apart. They put her in chains. They never expected her to fight back. In 1837, Margaret Morgan was kidnapped from her home in Pennsylvania and sold into slavery. The state of Pennsylvania charged her kidnapper with the crime, but the conviction was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the first time a major branch of the federal government had made a pro-slavery stand, and the ruling in Prigg v. Pennsylvania sewed the bitter seeds of the states’ rights battle that eventually would lead to the Civil War. Yet, the heart of this story is not a historic Supreme Court ruling. It is the remarkable, unforgettable Margaret Morgan. Her life would never be the same. Her family had been torn apart. Uncaring forces abused her body and her heart. But she refused to give up, refused to stop fighting, refused to allow her soul to be enslaved.

Why I picked it up: I believe I also saw this advertised on Goodreads, and it appealed to me as a fictional history lesson. I only hope the writing isn’t as redundant as the blurb. 🙂 I also found this on NetGalley and was approved for a copy.

Available at: The Book Depository, Barnes & Nobles

Novella Review: Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

A few weeks ago, Lindsay Buroker shared an excerpt of her novella, Flash Gold (read it here). I loved it and picked it up immediately. And that’s all I have to say about that. The blurb from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Kali McAlister enters her steam-powered “dogless sled” in a race, intending to win the thousand-dollar prize and escape remote Moose Hollow forever. The problem? Fortune seekers and airship pirates are after her for the secret to flash gold, her late father’s alchemical masterpiece.

With her modified rifle and a pocketful of home-made smoke bombs, Kali wouldn’t normally hide from a confrontation, but taking on a whole airship single-handedly is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the other racers won’t assist her–they’re too busy scheming ways to sabotage her unorthodox sled.

When a sword-slinging stranger shows up, wanting to hire on as her protector, she’s sure he has ulterior motives, but he’s the only one interested in helping her. The question is…why?

I know this book was about Kali, but I dug into Flash Gold and found myself quiet attracted to Cedar. He was decisive and didn’t shirk away from duty. I can’t say I trusted the big guy though. The entire time, I kept wondering what his deal was. Exactly why was he there? His role added a bit of mystery to the story.

Then there was Kali, the heroine of the story. A very important person, I might add. 🙂 Ms. Buroker often twitters about geekiness… well, Kali was the one. Geek was her middle name. Now being a geek wasn’t cool when I was growing up, but the thing about Kali, she made science fun. I loved her self-sufficient attitude while still willing to accept help when needed.

Cedar and Kali–two great characters with wonderful dynamics.

As for the storyline: Kali faced many obstacles along the way which interfered with her goal to win the Yukon race. Her entire future rested on her ability to take home the prize money. Overall, I found the story well-written with the trials in all the right places to keep me interested.

Thinking back, I only have two gripes. 1) I never really felt the urgency of the race. It might be because I’m unfamiliar with Alaskan sled races, but it seemed the participants maintained an even pace amongst one another. I would have liked to see someone break away from the mass with Kali working hard to keep up or gain the lead. 2) The ending was wrapped in a nice little package. I think those who seek happily ever afters might truly enjoy the ending though. 🙂 After all, Flash Gold does have a bit of a romantic flare to it. Here’s the thing about the ending–if Ms, Buroker ever writes a sequel, I think I’d enjoy the wrap-up of Flash Gold more. It has a bit of “the end of the beginning” kind of feel to it and left me wanting a bit more. I can see the headlines now: The Adventures of Kali and Cedar.

I recommend Flash Gold to folks looking to get in touch with their geeky side.

BONUS: Are you enjoying works by Lindsay Buroker? Well you’re in luck. She posted an article today about how to help your favorite authors. Head over, check it out now, and show your support! 🙂 How to Help Your Favorite Authors

Get your copy of Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker at:

Smashwords

Amazon

Barnes & Nobles

Working Wednesday #6

I totally almost forgot this post. The sad thing about it, I was sitting here thinking I sure don’t want to work tonight. Maybe I’ll skip editing/writing tonight. Yeah, I know. I’m bad, and I’ll likely still brush off working tonight. Let’s see what I’ve accomplished this week and see if a break is warranted.

  • Edit Chasing Shadows
    • Three scene a week
      • Last update 8/57 scenes
      • This week’s progress 8/57 scenes Major FAIL this week. As soon as I modified this goal from a scene a day to three a week, I knew I was setting myself up for failure. What made me think I could add a scene a day for I Loved You First plus three scenes here when I was struggling before? Time to be a bit more reasonable. How about ONE scene a week while editing I Loved You First. I think I can manage that.
  • Edit I Loved You First
    • One scene a day
      • Last update 8/29 One scene a day. At this rate, I’ll be done editing with in a month. Let’s cross our fingers here, folks!
      • Currently at 10/29 scenes. Again… what was I thinking? The 3 above plus 7 here makes 10, if my basic math skills are right. Again, what was I thinking? So I managed 2 scenes this week. Really I don’t feel to bad about them, because the 2 scenes were chapters. When I signed myself up for this, I was thinking short scenes. I’ve actually had to break up some of my chapters because the multiple scenes in them seemed a bit much. Here’s what I’m thinking, cause I’m collapsing under the idiotic goals I’ve placed on myself. How about 4 scenes a week. That’ll give me two days to do as I please.
  • Maintaining 100+ words a day over at Word Count Union
    • This will be accomplished either by working on Trinity’s Awakening
      • Last week’s word count: 24,101
      • Current word count: 24,386 Another fail. I only wrote 4 days this week.
  • Clean up blog and update links
    • At last! A place where I did succeed. 🙂 You’ll both sidebars are on the left now. I also removed some widgets, updated some links, and added a widget or two. I’m rather liking the changes. Still not done, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  • 2011 Reading Challenge ~ I’m currently two books ahead of schedule. I imagine I’ll fall back to one this week, considering my current read–Crown of Crystal Flame by C.L. Wilson. Don’t get me wrong; the book is interesting. It’s just long… and wordy. My eyes are begging for white space.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge
Reena has read 18 books toward her goal of 60 books.
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In other news!!!!

Control Freak continues to climb the charts in the Erotica genre. Last update, it was #8. Today we’ve hit #5. Overall, it’s fluctuating in the 140s/150s. Feel free to pick it up… boost it a little higher to the top.

Today, I brushed up on the cover art of I Loved You First. Now that I know the requirements for CreateSpace, I can work on just one cover art for all my works. Even though I Loved You First isn’t fully edited, I did all the preliminary setup, so when the interior file is ready, I can just upload it and get approved. I took my work one step further and uploaded the cover to Goodreads with an expected release date and all. August 2011. Here’s my thinking. If I set a date, it’ll give me something real to work toward. As it is, no date makes me think I can work as fast or slow as I want.  I Loved You First is a step away from erotica. It’s more what I’d call a love story. I want to share the first chapter, but I want to get a bit further into the editing first… like finish the self-editing. 🙂 Here’s what I’m thinking. A giveaway would be great. My plan is to setup a Goodreads giveaway once I send it to an editor and get an estimate on when I’ll receive it back. I’m hoping to do a better job at marking it than I did with Shadow Cat. Until then, Voila!

My best friend was more than just a best friend to me. Three words summed it up: I heart him. I’d never tell him though. I wasn’t stupid. Besides, what he’d told no one but me was a little something I wished I could forget… or ignore. He was gay. I guess gay wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t so in love with him. Now it was just cruel.

Stereotypes run amok in this college love story: Parties, alcohol, hookups, and breakups. Alexandria Carmichael may find it a bit much as she deals with the unreturned love from the boy who completes her. When all is revealed, not only does she risk losing her best friend forever, but also herself. Without her childhood companion for support, Alexandria takes a journey of self-discovery but fears what she’ll find at the end.

If it’s for you, feel free to add it to your Goodreads list. 🙂 Go ahead. I don’t mind.

Amazon is still doing the 1/2 price thing on Shadow Cat. I don’t know why since I can’t find it listed anywhere for $1.99. All I can say is, why pay full price when you don’t have to?.