“The Collins Case” by Julie C. Gilbert

"The Collins Case" by Julie C. Gilbert — Kimia Wood — Christian Despite having a “Mystery/Thriller” cover and blurb, this book is actually a “Christian/Inspirational” story. If I had known better what to expect, and if the pacing had moved faster, I might have enjoyed this much more.

Slow Start

The story is ham-strung from the very beginning, where for the first chapter and a half, the only conflict is that Rachel Collins is unequally yoked – married to an unbeliever.

The scenes of the “happy little family” living their lives and unaware of the calamity awaiting them is a classic writer move to get readers to connect to the characters. Unfortunately, I had recently read the blurb and knew they got kidnapped – and I was aware of the author-ly tricks at work – and so was very un-invested.

If I was advising the author, I would suggest beginning with Mr. Collins coming home and discovering melted groceries on the counter, his wife’s car in the garage, her phone on the counter, and his family nowhere to be found. (This scene already exists, but is sapped of tension since we’ve already witnessed his family be snatched.) This kind of scenario is visceral enough to connect with readers without the lead-up…a lead-up that lost me before the plot even began. Continue reading

“Twisted Dreams” by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

"Twisted Dreams" by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke — Kimia Wood This short story opens with about as classic a “Sleeping Beauty: Chapter 1” as you could wish, with the interesting trait of being written from the viewpoint of the infant princess being christened (Liesel).

Chapter 2 rips us from the fairy-tale world “played straight” and shoves us into a sci-fi world, in the head of an imprisoned girl who shares the name but none of the memories (apparently) of the Sleeping Beauty princess. Very disorienting, and a little irritating.

While heavy on the romance, this story blends fairy tale, amnesia, high-tech, aliens with super-powers, and faith into an interesting little tale that pulled me in. Continue reading

“A Sidekick’s Tale” by Elisabeth Grace Foley

"A Sidekick's Tale" by Elisabeth Grace Foley — Kimia Wood — sidekick I wasn’t sure how to describe this book without spoiling it. So, I decided I could do worse than the author’s own book description:

Meredith Fayett needed to marry someone before the week was out or she would lose her ranch. It sounded simple, so ranch hand Chance Stevens agreed to take on the job, in spite of his friend Marty’s warnings that it could only lead to trouble. But even Marty, a loyal though opinionated sidekick, couldn’t have predicted the mayhem that ensues when his own eccentric relatives appear on the scene, dragging Chance, Marty, and Meredith into the latest skirmish in a long-running family feud. What follows is a hilarious tangle involving an emerald ring, a fearsome aunt, a scheming suitor, and a team of runaway mules—by the end of which Chance finds that even a marriage just on paper has its complications, and that it never hurts to have a good sidekick.

This story is made by the narrator. Humorous and deft with an apt turn of phrase, the first-person recitation makes this short story a breeze and a delight to go through.

Part of the fun is not knowing what could come next. In this regard, the Amazon description almost gives too much away. But as the narrator himself says, “It’s the little things.”

It’s the little social commentary on his family that Marty gives us while tied to a tree…or the grave advice he dishes out to everyone who doesn’t want it…it’s his descriptions of the fat, bald Justice of the Peace careening down a hill on horseback…it’s Marty’s voice that makes this book.

After all, as Marty observes, the story of a pretty young girl about to lose her ranch is as old as the hills. It’s the “sidekick” – and his rendition of events – that complicates this “marriage of convenience” story. And makes it more memorable in the process.

If you like laughing – if you like smart sidekicks, crazy families, and marriage arrangement complications…then this might be the perfect way to spend an afternoon or two.


DISCLAIMER: I received a free e-copy of this book by participating in the Indie Christian Authors Black Friday Sale. I was not required to write of review of any kind.

A Sidekick’s Tale can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or the Book Depository (free worldwide shipping).

Find out more about the author on her Amazon and Smashwords pages.

“Kate’s Innocence” by Sarah Holman

"Kate's Innocence" by Sarah Holman — Kimia Wood — innocence Can Kate prove she didn’t bomb her college campus? Can FBI agent Patrick trust God to reveal the truth as he tries to clear Kate?

For this indie Christian book, I’m going to front-load all my complaints, and then focus on what I liked.

That way, it’s like struggling to remove the sticky wax-paper wrapper on a chocolate toffee, then getting to eat the toffee! (I’m sure lots of people compare my reviews to chocolate toffee…) Continue reading

“Bells of Paradise” by Suzannah Rowntree

"Bells of Paradise" by Suzannah Rowntree — Kimia Wood — fairytales The fairytales of modern times tend to be, well, modern. They are full of princesses in fluffy tulle dresses, and fairies with wimpy wings that wouldn’t lift a butterfly — and fairies that grant wishes to all and sundry without making any demands.

You would have to go to Andrew Lang or the Grimm brothers for the strange fairytale punishments of being rolled in a barrel of nails until dead – or to meet fay-people (cp. to “in a fay mood”) as grotesque and magical as a gothic cathedral – or to see the fairy food that can only be eaten at the forfeit of your soul.

And where could you find a hero as noble as he is faithful, who is drawn into the quest through no fault of his own – a romantic hero with a remarkably steady head on his shoulders – who ends the tale triumphant, unsullied, and glorified? No fairytale of modern craft would portray that, surely…heroes must be “flawed” to be “realistic”.

Ms. Rowntree has changed that. Continue reading

“Poison Kiss” by Kendra E. Ardnek

Poison Kiss by Kendra Ardnek — Kimia Wood — fairytale You must pick up a fairytale with open eyes. The well-worn road to fairyland is practically paved with princesses, curses, and talking cats. Yet for those not too “grown-up” to venture into the land of fairies, ogres, and millers’ sons, Poison Kiss offers a quick, entertaining read that delivers exactly to genre.

Everyone’s heard of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, so when the king hears that his daughter is to fill the role in the next cycle of the tale, he deliberately snubs the evil fairy and prepares to ban all spinning wheels.

When the fairy responsible for the curse brings originality to the course of events and switches the cure for the curse, the horrified kingdom is left to fear “love’s first kiss” – and wonder how a spinning wheel will help reverse the whole thing. Continue reading

“She But Sleepeth” by Rachel Heffington

Peles Castle, Romania — courtesy of Gabi Jguma/Wikipedia

Sleeping Beauty is a set designer working for Hollywood. A Romanian gypsy casts spells of time-travel and death. An estranged royal couple mourn the loss of their only child. And the hunky love interest exhibits self-sacrificial love.

Yet, for whatever confluence of cosmic misdemeanors, all the raging richness of this story potential totally fizzled when it hit the dour surface of my consciousness. Continue reading

“Death Be Not Proud” by Suzannah Rowntree

 Ruby Black is a cabaret singer with a lifestyle of cigarettes, hard applejack, and jazz, who pinches pennies from her day job as maid while dreaming of the big time in the opera.

When she’s confronted with a two-year old murder mystery in the person of the victim’s determined fiancé, she gets involved in the dark tale against her better judgement.

This fairytale retelling is perfect for mystery lovers, as chilling suspense combines with a rich writing style. Continue reading

“Superheroes Aliens Robots Zombies” by Mark Boss

Junk Food for Zombie Lovers

SARZ-51kVl+YZFoL This book is like mind candy for the science fiction apocalypse lover. Zombies – quick, coordinated, and flesh-eating – mixed with aliens – small, big-eyed and green – and robots for a wild, active romp thru cliché and disaster-tales.

If only the violence weren’t so medically accurate…and if only the author had learned that “series” is not code for “serial”. Continue reading