Amanda McNeil


Amanda is a married, queer lady living with migraines and food allergy. She seeks to bring a queer sensibility and disability awareness to her writing, while keeping the focus on the joy of the story.

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Smashwords book reviews by Amanda McNeil

  • Timeless Trilogy, Book One: Fate on July 04, 2012

    Kris is a successful video editor in Charleston, South Carolina with two best friends she's made her own family with. She has a beautiful beach house and a loving fluffy cat named Pegasus. She also just so happens to be precognitive. Her visions have never been about herself until she starts sensing that she is being watched, receiving late night phone calls, and finding flowers left at her house and on her car. Increasingly, she realizes she is in danger, and right then her old college flame moves in next door. Kris is a relatable heroine without going over the top. She's no quivering violet, but also no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Similarly, her love interest is kind and handsome without being sparkly and perfect. The plot is entertaining and modern. It keeps the reader guessing without forcing any characters to act stupid. All of that said, Grace shows promise as a writer, but she still needs to work on her craft. Her plot structure is excellent, but she frequently shows instead of tells. Similarly, she struggles a bit when first introducing a character, often falling back on the beginner writer's method of explaining hair and eye color before anything else. Similarly, the book needs more editing for simple grammar, spelling, and typos. Overall, this is an interesting mix of suspense, romance, and paranormal that keeps the reader guessing and interested and shows promise in the writer.
  • Gargoyles on July 04, 2012

    This book is best summed up as the scientific Rosemary’s Baby, which also means it kicks serious ass. Even people who find pregnancy to be a miracle (people who I completely do not understand) are creeped out by a pregnancy gone awry. This basic storyline then is ideal for a modern update aka switch out the demons and Satanism for science. Unfortunately the climax doesn't quite live up to the excellent idea, but the cliffhanger ending leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the next entry in the series. Overall this horror suspense is a great addition to the genre of evil pregnancies. I recommend it and am looking forward to the next entry in the series.
  • The Preying Mantis on Oct. 27, 2012

    I picked this up during the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale for two reasons. The plot sounded intriguing, and honestly the cover amused me. What I found inside was a plot that was mostly strong (although it fell apart at the end) that was unfortunately supported by some truly bad writing. Let’s start with the good. The plot is genuinely creepy. Although the Preying Mantis (as he calls himself) is fairly typical for a serial killer thriller, he’s got enough unique qualities that the reader is left intrigued and guessing. The murder scenes are brutal and frightening. I was engaged enough that I kept reading in spite of the bad writing quality, purely because I wanted to know what happened at the end. Unfortunately, the plot at the end takes a bit of a nonsensical nose-dive, but, alas, that happens sometimes. As for the writing itself, there are three separate issues at hand. First up, we have an omniscient third person narrator telling a story that takes place almost entirely in New York City with American characters, and yet the narrator repeatedly speaks British English. This is bizarre, confusing, and jolts the reader out of the story. I actually had to check a couple of times and make sure the story was indeed happening in NYC. The British English also drifts into the American characters’ dialogue, and, if it’s a problem for the narrator to speak British English, it’s an even larger one for the American characters to do so. Speaking of dialogue (see what I did there), let’s get to that. The main problem with the dialogue is that it doesn’t sound realistic. At all. Also every single character sounds exactly the same. The Latino-American cop sounds exactly like the white American FBI Agent who sounds exactly like the serial killer who sounds exactly like the head of the FBI’s investigation. And none of them sound realistic. Rather than try to explain it, let me show you. "I shall go mad if I don’t have anything to do for the next two weeks." (location 310) "Would you like to order out? I am quite hungry and can do with some sustenance." (location 1213) "After about fifteen minutes he emerged form his office and said, 'Let us go.' " (location 2868) "How come you being here all by yourself in the middle of nowhere, dear?" (location 3617) The only way dialogue like this would work would be if, say, one character was OCD about never saying a contraction or had Asperger’s Syndrome or something. But none of the characters are like that and also they all speak exactly the same way. It’s a real problem for dialogue to sound so incredibly unrealistic. It drags the reader out of the story, plus it’s bad characterization. Each character should have an individual sound. Finally, there are the general grammar/spelling issues. The most annoying being the author’s tendency to switch back and forth between present and past tense, frequently within the same sentence. Overall, the book has a relatively unique plot that is overshadowed by a first draft quality level of writing. I encourage Louw to get either a co-author or an editor for future endeavors, as well as a wider variety of beta readers. Sound editing and checks by beta readers could have cleared up many of these issues.