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Smashwords book reviews by Helen Ginger
- Mambo Panties & Other Stories
on Nov. 15, 2011
I had no idea what to expect of a book with the title of Mambo Panties.
Even after reading Mambo Panties, I’m not sure what genre label to give it. It’s like going to your local History Center and reading snippets from a time long ago. It’s fiction yet the news pieces and tales feel like they were written by real people and then collected in a book to share with today’s generation. Both the stories and the news clippings are personal, relevant even today, and so close I felt as though I knew these people and the wind carried their whispers.
As an example, I’ll talk about one piece called “Housekeeping Kit.” Agnes, now living in a place called Golden Oaks, remembers back to her wedding day and the start of her life with Houston. This story, only seven and a half pages long, takes you through their wedding and the first few days of their life together as they furnish the house Monroe Felps “made them as a wedding present of one year’s rent with the customary terms for farming on shares the next year” and which Agnes and her sisters had cleaned up, including killing four rattlesnakes. By the end of just those few pages, I wanted to know more about their lives and what the future held for them.
So many of these stories would make wonderful full length character stories. But they don’t have to be. As they are, they’re snippets of lives long ago that are still relevant today. Some of the stories are longer than the one I talked about here. Some, especially the newspaper clippings, are quite short, maybe only a paragraph or two. Together, the stories and news clippings give this fiction book a feeling of non-fiction.
Mambo Panties is quiet, yet compelling … old, yet relevant … and intriguing to read, time and time again.
I give Mambo Panties a rating of Hel-of-a-Read.
- Game Face
on Jan. 01, 2012
I downloaded and read Game Face by Mark Troy. Game Face is a collection of 8 short stories featuring Val Lyon, plus a sample chapter from Pilikia Is My Business, the novel Troy wrote which stars her. (If you want to know how to pronounce “pilikia,” just read the preface in Game Face.)
One great thing about Game Face is that through this book, we get to know more about Val Lyon. The thread tying all the stories together, other than that they each star Val, is that they all focus on some type of sport. Some people may think female PIs aren’t believable because … how tough can a woman be? Read Game Face and Val will show you.
Game Face will allow you to see deeper into Val Lyon. Even if you don’t plan to get Pilikia Is My Business, each story in Game Face stands alone and each one shows Val in a different sport, from skydiving to open-ocean canoe racing to beach volleyball to professional basketball to golf to rodeo to surfing. As a bonus, they’re all set in Hawaii! Plus, in one of the stories, you get to meet Moon Ito. Troy refers to Moon as Val Lyon’s “sidekick.” Since reading Pilikia Is My Business and the short story Teed Off in this book, I think of him as a brick wall – one I would not want to run into. ‘Course, I would not want to get crosswise with Val either. I would, however, like to read another book about her.
- Raven (The Carriena Oracles, Book One)
on Feb. 03, 2012
Raven by Laura Eno is a sci-fi book. (I’m reading more and more science fiction lately – and liking it.) Raven is the captain of her own spaceship. She even has an implant that hooks her up to the ship’s navigational system. Other than her co-pilot, Ben, she’s pretty much a loner. That’s about to change though. She’s picking up a client, Mikael, for transport. She thinks it’ll be an easy job. But Mikael comes with a bit of baggage, and I don’t mean suitcases. ‘Course, Raven has her own past – at 19 she was sold at auction to be a breeder.
The three of them join forces to find the Oracles. They’re not the only ones looking, though.
Eno keeps the action going with enough pauses to let you catch your breath and for Raven and Mikael to develop their relationship.
All three of these main characters are interesting. I liked Raven because she’s something of a loner who realizes she needs to connect with someone. And she’s a strong person. Mikael is the person through whose eyes you get to see the ship and the empty space they travel through. Ben is interesting because he’s not human and may be the key to finding the Oracles.
The story moves quickly with action and questions. Raven and Mikael are attracted to each other, so there’s a bit of a love story included.
This is not the first book I’ve read by Laura Eno – and she hasn’t let me down yet.
I give Raven a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.