Category Archives: #amreviewing

WatchdogWatchdog by Will McIntosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watchdog, by Will McIntosh – A fun, action-packed, read!

Will McIntosh’s Watchdog is set in the slums of Chicago, where hungry children scramble over heaps of rotting garbage for something to pawn. It serves up an ugly near-futuristic view from the perspective of orphaned thirteen-year-old Vick, saddled too young with the responsibility for his autistic twin sister. Interest in the disorder is at an all-time high, and his struggle to keep Tara safe while dealing with the complexities of her autism was both entertaining and thought-provoking. Vick’s fierce, unforgiving anger toward the bullies who scared his crying sister rang true, as did his grudging acceptance when he discovered some assumptions were wrong.

The author gives us two unlikely heroes, fraternal twins both physically weak but with unseen strengths. Tara is small and looks half her age but is a genius with electronics. Her twin brother suffers from severe asthma attacks, but Vick is a natural leader with his own genius for survival. McIntosh pits their very existence against the mindless violence of underground robotic watchdogs, horrific mechanical creations being designed as specific weaponry by a crime lord.

Described as a nightmarish version of robotic animals, the watchdogs are only mechanical…until Tara finds a stolen military microchip. She modifies her own small robot pet, Daisy, who springs to life, literally, as a fully realized soldier capable of collecting and analyzing data, constructing and modifying her own mechanical body, and updates strategies based upon new intel. So far, she hasn’t spoken but as a reader I feel hopeful that ability will be forthcoming.

I enjoyed the book very much, but I rather reluctantly agree with another reviewer who remarked that the villain resembled a Disney cartoon. Mrs. Alba, a rather-neatly realized black-marketeer who rules with the expected fear, lies, and intimidation, is utterly dependable, showing up at the right time with the right tricks to make her a clear villain with no redeeming qualities.

However, Vick, Tara, and the crew they gather seeking to escape the clutches of Mrs. Alba’s evil henchlings, each enjoys human quirks and failings and the charming stumbles of young adults seeking to define themselves. Vick and his friends share the undeniable determination to right wrongs, to protect the vulnerable, and adherence to a code of ethics so essential to young people in their early teens.

All in all, my disappointment in a somewhat two-dimensional villain is thoroughly outweighed by my delight that all violence is contained between mechanical watchdogs. The battle scenes are skillfully drawn, action packed and very exciting, without becoming mired in gore. And, I must say, Mr. McIntosh’s refreshingly frank portrayal of adults as uncaring and threatening reminded me of Roald Dahl’s most fascinating works, where unlikely children must defend themselves and rise above the dark designs of adults to shine through as their authentic selves.

I give the book five stars, feeling free to recommend it to anyone who enjoys character-driven YA literature. I hope there will be a sequel or series following Vick, Tara, and their gang into this new dystopian future.

Genta Sebastian – award-winning author of Riding the Rainbow

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Death and Love

Death and Love

Review:

Death and Love at the Old Summer House

Dolores Maggiore

Young Adult Mystery

It’s summer 1959 and sixteen-year-old Pina and her best friend, Katie, know something horrible happened when their parents were kids at a now forgotten and rotting old camp.

Pina has painful dreams which force her to relive whatever happened through the eyes of the participants. Terrified, she turns to Katie for understanding and support. As the girls grow closer, Pina realizes she’s fallen in love with her friend but is terrified to tell in case it ruins everything between them.

 When they discover Katie’s father had a homosexual encounter when he attended the old camp and might have been involved in an unreported murder, it brings everything into sharper focus. The two girls chase clues to not only the unraveling mystery but also their feelings for each other and the complexities of adult love.

Death and Love at the Old Summer Camp is a fun story for young adults and anyone who remembers the first time puppy love grew up.

5-stars

 

 

Book Review: Escapades by MJ Williamz

Do you like your romances hotter than sizzling, so ‘go there’ you’re right there with them? Then you better get your hands on Escapades by MJ Williamz.

This is the first book by Williamz I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I will admit, I haven’t been much of an erotica reader since my menopause had its 20th birthday, but I received a free copy of Escapades at the GCLS 2017 Chicago Conference and, tickled to have a ‘naughty book’ to read, started it as soon as I got home.

Wham bam! The first page had me blinking in total surprise and it was a sexy rollercoaster ride from beginning to end. To say the characters were well realized would be a serious understatement. I understood who Joey and her best friend Mel were almost immediately, even recognizing a bit of myself in them from those halcyon days of my youth.

Proudly single, constantly searching for love-’em-and-leave-’em pleasure with any number of sexual partners, Joey is taken up short when she finds herself undeniably attracted to a woman she could never treat that way. She wants to bed beautiful Samantha something fierce, but is caught up short by the recent widow’s surprise. For her part, Samantha wants desperately to give herself to the foxy playboi, but can’t shake the ghost on the pedestal she’s made of her wife’s memory.

One of the more delightful aspects of Williamz’ writing is her skill with dialogue. She stays true to each of the characters’ unique voices, deftly moving the story along. And happily for the reader, the author’s artistry makes it easy to keep track of which character is speaking without a constant need for identifiers. Whether it’s sexy, barely legal Tiffany, or surfer pal Mel calling Joey out, each character plays an important part in the story.

Now, about the sex. I’ll tell you, I knew Williamz wrote erotica, I’d heard talk which is why I wanted to read one of hers. And, I’m no novice in that area myself. I’ve been publishing erotic short stories since 2006, including one in an anthology that won a Lambda. But I confess, from literally page one I was totally bowled over by the sex scenes (of which there were plenty)! To my delight, the author used variety in each scene and words for body parts (the naughty pink bits) that were direct and not distracting (still thinking about which ‘bits’ are pink, aren’t you. See what I mean?)

I think Williamz may have created a new genre – cozy erotica. It was fun, entertaining, incredibly sexy and with enough tension in a wholly lesbian community to delight any lesfic erotica lover. A hot summer read, especially in bed, aloud and in the company of someone eager and willing to be adventurous.

 

 

Book Review: The French Way by Mary M. Wright

The French WayThe French Way by Mary M. Wright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review for The French Way by Mary M. Wright

Like a first French kiss, this book awakens you to a new way of looking at things.

On the surface, The French Way is a charming new adult lesbian romance. Set at the end of the hippie era, charming Sophie, an innocent abroad, is aflame with a desire for adventure. She and her traveling companion take somewhat risky chances while traveling through Europe during summer vacation. A year of study in France, alone and independent of her family, will be the separation she feels is necessary to become truly adult.

One night in Paris Sophie sees Genevieve, an entrancing older woman, at the same time fate throws her a serious curve ball. Weeks later, the two women reconnect and discover a real attraction between them. Sophie realizes she’s attracted to women, but will the love that Genevieve offers be enough to conquer her new trepidation and fear of being tied to anyone and any place? Would that really be The French Way?

*spoiler alert*

Although a rape occurs, it is not the salacious, almost tantalizing type overused by so many authors. Rather, the character must wrestle with the memories of not struggling too hard, or protesting too loudly, and not having obvious outer wounds. Was what happened to her really rape, or should she hold herself responsible because she didn’t fight enough? This situation occurs to many women. It was a welcome experience to live through this very real struggle through the eyes of Mary Wright’s characters.

I received a free ARC copy of The French Way from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews