Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book Review: Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Welcome to the next stop in the Litfuse publicity tour for Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay!

About the book:

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others-namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story-by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.

Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.
But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself "Mr. Knightley") offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam's program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it's pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is --- once again --- made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay's debut novel follows one young woman's journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

As the years go by, do you find yourself becoming more emotionally available to people?  Or do you find life’s difficulties helping you to build a wall to shut others out? In Dear Mr. Knightley, we find journalism student Samantha Moore, who is of that latter persuasion.  She has been through many trials in her 23 years and as a defense mechanism, she keeps others at bay.  Physical contact is kept to a minimum. Interpersonal relationships are kept distant by her hiding her personality behind characters from classic works of fiction, such as Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre. In short, she is a bit of a neurotic, literary mess. Through a process of letter writing to an anonymous benefactor, unexpected new friendships and a considerable amount of soul-searching, Samantha tries to make sense of her past and works to have a better future, both personally and professionally.

Dear Mr. Knightly has some characteristics that I’ve found several times in other recently-published novels. The main character is a bit of an insecure, romantic “Austen Addict”, and references to Austen’s work are sprinkled throughout the narrative and dialogue. As a Janeite I do enjoy these literary cameos, but I hope that those who have never read Austen, Dickens or Dumas will still be able to enjoy the general story overall.  
This title is published by Thomas Nelson, a noted Christian imprint.  While God, Jesus and other spiritual ideas are presented, they are extremely light-handed, and for the most part emerge near the end of the story. The novel might end up in the “Inspirational Fiction” section of the local bookstore, but it could easily stand in general fiction as well.  It doesn’t have the innocent tone of many Christian novels, addressing some fairly difficult, gritty issues surrounding abused children and the foster care system.  Cursing is mentioned, but the most colorful word that I can recall was the repeated use of the exclamation, “crap”.  By today’s standards, that’s pretty tame. 

Romance is one of the main themes of Dear Mr. Knightley, but it doesn’t drip with gooey sentimentality or steamy sex scenes. The characters do feel passionately, but the text is kept very chaste, thankfully.  Other authors feel the need to insert sexual situations to spice up their writing, and I was grateful that Ms. Reay was confident enough in her talent to not go in that direction in her work.

Overall I would judge Dear Mr. Knightley as a pleasant book that addresses important social, interpersonal and spiritual issues while sharing a sweet, romantic tale.  Reay’s writing is smooth and enjoyable, and her love for literature is quite evident.  Unlike other Austenesque writers who quote from classic literature, she branches out to other authors’ works. The Count of Monte Cristo is mentioned frequently, and I was particularly delighted at the appearance of C.S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Sometimes I felt that her use of these literary cameos became a bit too frequent, but as a lover of these books, I couldn’t help but enjoy encountering them.

So while I would not term Dear Mr. Knightley as the best Austenesque fiction, it was a light, pleasant read. The narrative takes a few twists and turns that I did not expect, and I appreciated Reay’s choice to keep the content clean.  Her main characters were very appealing and multi-dimensional throughout the novel.  And while the book might be categorized as Christian Fiction, it could easily be read by secular audiences as well. Lovers of fiction and classic authors in particular will also have many moments of amusement with the literary cameos.  Katherine Reay has presented a pleasant debut novel, one that is certainly praiseworthy and hopefully just the beginning of this author’s fictional writing career.

Take a look at the other stops on the Litfuse tour!

Lena | A Christian Writer's World
Andi | Radiant Light
Carla | Working Mommy Journal
Joan | Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
Heather | The Sunset Won't
Revka | Our Family Porch
Kathleen | Jersey Girl Book Reviews
Melanie | The Ramblings of Two Readers
Nicole | Gidget Goes Home

Ruth | My Devotional Thoughts
Vida | Sunflower Faith
Carol | Books Music and Life
Celena | The Traveling Sisterhood
Brittanie | A Book Lover
Tressa | Tressa's Wishful Endings

Amanda | The Talbert Report
Amanda | Books by Amanda
Amber | snidbits
Jalynn | A Simple Life,really?!
Beckie | By The Book
Becky | Christian Chick's Thoughts
Beth | for the love of books

Billy | Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer
Amanda | The Best Books Ever
Lenora | Crazed Mind
Ramona | Create with Joy
Jessica | Crossroad reviews
Dawn | A Passion for Pages
Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Tiffany | Single Mommy Warrior
Katherine | Story Matters

Diane | That's What I'm Here For....
Evangeline | Audacious Reader
Tina | GivingNSharing
Faith | Found a Christian by His Grace
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Brooke | i blog 4 books
Kari | From the TBR Pile
Jennifer | Adventures in Unsell Land
Corinne | Everyday Gyaan

Jill | I am believing God
Heather | Mrs. Southern Bride
JoyAnne | Deco My Heart
JoJo | JoJo's Corner
Kari | Slow it down
Charity | Giveaway Lady
Kristie | Moments
Jamie | Christian Teen Fiction Devourer
Kim | Window To My World

Lisa | A Casual Reader's Blog
Kathleen | Lane Hill House
Laura | Harvest Lane Cottage
Bethany | The Literary Maidens
Melanie | Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Victoria | Decked Out in Ruffles
Kelli | The Zen of Motherhood
Melissa | Mel's World with Melissa Mashburn
Deborah | Book Reviews by Deb
Maria | Middle Places
Michelle | I hope you dance
Lois | The Minister's Wife Stamps and Saves

Mary | Mary's Cup of Tea
Heidi | Buzz4Mommies
Julie | More Of Him
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Sara | Sara Ella
Crystal | Serving Joyfully
Jillian | Covers and Ink

Veronica | Veronica's 'Views
Gina | The Hedonistic Minimalist
Nathania | Sophie and Momma
Marjorie | Manifest Blog
Crystal | Tidbits of Experience
Katie | Too Read or Not Too Read

Ashley | Wandering the Pages
Kristin | Whole Lotta Mama
Brianna | abookandalattee
Nicole | bless their hearts mom
Elise | Organizing for Everyone
Wanda | A Book Lover's Retreat
Leila | All Meant To Shine
Elle | Organic Shoes
Dianna | Savings in Seconds

Jen | Happy Little Homemaker
Jamie | Books and Beverages
A | Kerrffic
Laura | Lighthouse Academy
Laura | Crafty Booksheeps
Sharon | Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews
Tiffany | The Crafty Home
Rosie | Writings of Rosie
Amy | the ramblings of miss aimymichelle

Lisa | Seeking with all yur heart
Dana | Little Lovely Books
Margaret | The World As I See It
Megan | When life gets you a book
Abbi | Christian Novels
Alison | NOVA Frugal Family
Laura | The Calico Critic

Erin | ReviewsByErin
Jenny | Book Reviews By Jenny
Kellie | Nothing Less
Lori | Morning Glories and Moonflowers
Monica | For the Love of Books
Nancy | sunny island breezes

Natalia | Elan
Pamela | Daysong Reflections
Pamela | Lavish Bookshelf
Patricia | Live and Dream a little dream
Shea | Novel Reviews
Suzanne | Clicking Her Heels
Tammi | Our Homeschooling Pilgrimage
Taylor | Taylor Reid Reads and Breathes
Krista | Welcome to Married Life

Meet the author: 

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and The Upper Room. Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. Dear Mr. Knightley is her first novel. Learn more about Katherine at:

A review copy of Dear Mr. Knightley was provided for critiquing purposes only.

Enter Today | 11/14 - 12/3!
Dear Mr. Knightley Katherine Reay

Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie Review: Disney's Frozen

After some delicious Thanksgiving noshing, I thought I'd take my eight year-old son Colson to see the new Disney movie, Frozen.  I did my usual vetting via the review on, a great resource for parents in all things media.  They gave it an overall positive review, and I saw a few other positive critiques elsewhere as well.  So after lunch today, we headed out for our post-Thanksgiving treat.

Before the main feature, the usual short Disney film is shown.  "Get a Horse" begins with what looks to be a very old Disney cartoon, featuring Mickey Mouse in the days before he wore his signature white gloves, a la "Steamboat Willie". My son was concerned at first, as he wasn't interested in watching such an "old fashioned" cartoon.  I had a feeling that some Disney magic was afoot, and I was right.  Just tell your kids to hold on-- the piece leaps forward into the 21st century before you know it.  Those of you who see it in 3D will probably enjoy it even more than I did in our 2D screening.

Frozen is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen.  Although I read the derivative, weak novel Winter's Child a few years ago,  I'm not overly familiar with the mythology of Andersen's fairy tale. So if the connection between Disney's script and Andersen's work is tenuous at best, I wasn't aware of it.  The story definitely received the "Disney treatment", but in this case I think that was a good thing.

While the two main characters are royal females, I wouldn't characterize this as a typical "princess movie".  Yes, there are pretty dresses, magic, a handsome prince and anthropomorphic characters, but there's much more than that.  The story of Frozen is very enjoyable, adventurous and wondrous.  Even with all the skirts running about, my normally girl-adverse son really enjoyed himself.  Of course he covered his eyes during any of the very low-key romantic parts, but that was not the main focus of the story. A fellow third grade friend of his joined us in our row, and both boys really had a great time with it.

Disney and/or Pixar is famous for humorous sidekicks, and there are a couple in this feature.  Olaf is a magical snowman who oddly dreams of experiencing summer.  I enjoyed his comic relief, unlike some other sidekicks in recent years, some of which I found to be quite distasteful. The Princess and the Frog, Brave and Treasure Planet come to mind.  Another buddy character is Sven the reindeer, cohort to Kristoff, a local ice peddler.  He acts more like a canine than a reindeer at times, and there were moments when he reminded me of Maximus the horse in the 2010 movie Tangled.  Like Maximus, he didn't have the magical gift of speech, but his body language and facial expressions more than took care of that.  I didn't enjoy him as much as I did Maximus two years ago, but he was fun.

As far as the PG nature of the film-- I suppose it received that rating because of some tense, exciting moments in the movie.  There's one chase scene involving glowing-eyed wolves, but it's very short and far less foreboding than the evil bear scenes in last year's Brave. Exciting, climactic moments happen more than once along the way, but they aren't overdone in my opinion.  Lives are certainly in jeopardy, but it's handled in a very family-friendly manner.

The romantic elements of the story are very chaste.  My son didn't care for those moments, much like the grandson in The Princess Bride.  I'm sure he was thinking, "Can we skip this part?!?"  But truly, romance is not the main theme of the movie. For the most part the language was pretty clean.  There are a few "What the...?!?" moments, and Olaf references his "butt" more times than I'd prefer.  My son got several laughs out of the butt references, though. And I could have done without one particular nose-picking joke,
but it was quick and we moved on.

There are several musical sequences, most of which were well done and in the usual Broadway-like style.  However, they really could have skipped the number involving the rock trolls.  It seemed unnecessary, and I found it annoying. But overall I enjoyed the soundtrack and performances. "The First Time in Forever" was particularly nice.

While this isn't my favorite animated film of all time, I certainly can give it my endorsement.  Even though it garnered a PG rating, I'd feel comfortable taking grade-school children to see this.  It was an enjoyable way to spend part of my Thanksgiving weekend.  It had a fine script, compelling music and incredible animation.  In recent years I never thought I'd say it, but I think Disney Studios may be catching up to its partner/competitor Pixar.  This one certainly trumps the last four films that Pixar has produced.  They were able to create an animated feature that I actually enjoyed, as opposed to the mere toleration I've felt with Pixar lately.

So if you head out to the movies on this holiday weekend, consider Frozen for you and your family. And let me know what you thought-- was it a rollicking good time, or did the experience just leave you cold?  That certainly was not the case for me.  The only ice to be found was on the screen, and certainly not on my row of the theater.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley Preview and Kindle Giveaway Announcement

I'll be posting my review of Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay very soon.  In the meantime, here's a preview of what's to come:

Dear Mr. Knightley is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen.

Samantha Moore survived years of darkness in the foster care system by hiding behind her favorite characters in literature, even adopting their very words. Her fictional friends give her an identity, albeit a borrowed one. But most importantly, they protect her from revealing her true self and encountering more pain.

After college, Samantha receives an extraordinary opportunity. The anonymous “Mr. Knightley” offers her a full scholarship to earn her graduate degree at the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. The sole condition is that Sam write to Mr. Knightley regularly to keep him apprised of her progress.

As Sam’s true identity begins to reveal itself through her letters, her heart begins to soften to those around her—a damaged teenager and fellow inhabitant of Grace House, her classmates at Medill, and, most powerfully, successful novelist Alex Powell. But just as Sam finally begins to trust, she learns that Alex has secrets of his own—secrets that, for better or for worse, make it impossible for Sam to hide behind either her characters or her letters. 

I also wanted to make Calico Critic readers aware of a contest that is already in progress!  Here's the information from the blog tour host, LitFuse:

 Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Favorite Austen Moments KINDLE HDX Giveaway,
Pinterest Contest and Facebook Party!

Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.


  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)


Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST. Hope to see you on the 3rd!



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jane Odiwe of Project Darcy

I am pleased to welcome back to The Calico Critic one of my favorite authors, Jane Odiwe.  In September of last year, Jane offered a lovely guest post with a generous giveaway, and she has returned once again to offer us the same.   Last February I enjoyed her novel Searching for Captain Wentworth, and I'm eagerly looking forward to her next work, Project Darcy. This latest title is another "time slip" story, a genre I find very enjoyable.  Last year's volume had many winks to Jane Austen's Persuasion, and it seems with Project Darcy, we will find more of an emphasis on the beloved Pride and Prejudice.  Here is a taste of what we can expect from Jane's latest.  Then her thoughts and giveaway offer follow:

It is high summer when Ellie Bentley joins an archaeological dig at Jane Austen’s childhood home. She’s always had a talent for ‘seeing’ into the past and is not easily disturbed by her encounters with ‘Mr Darcy’s ghost’ at the house where she’s staying.

When Ellie travels into the past she discovers exactly what happened whilst Jane danced her way through the snowy winter of 1796 with her dashing Irish friend. As Steventon Rectory and all its characters come to life, Ellie discovers the true love story lost in
Pride and Prejudice – a tale which has its own consequences for her future destiny, changing her life beyond imagination.

*          *          *

Thank you so much, Laura, for hosting me on your blog today! I’m so thrilled to be here to tell you about my new book, Project Darcy. I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time - I love weaving several stories together, and in this book there is one set in modern day with my heroine Ellie and her four friends, and another in the past with Jane Austen falling in love and writing the book that was to become Pride and Prejudice.

Years ago, I painted a little picture of how I imagined Jane and her father would look when she was about five years old. I thought about this painting when I was writing a little scene when Ellie goes back into the past and becomes Jane Austen, and tied it in with what seem to be Jane’s own recollections that she wrote about in Northanger Abbey. Although she is writing about Catherine Morland when she says her heroine was ‘noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so well in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house’, I have a feeling she was referring to a memory of doing that herself. If you’ve ever been to Steventon to see the site where the rectory stood, the back of the garden has a pronounced slope! Here’s how I imagine Jane and her beloved brother Henry playing at the back of the rectory. I hope you enjoy this little excerpt from Project Darcy.

*          *          *

The moment she stepped through the hedges and trees that screened the fields, Ellie knew something was different – her world was changed in more ways than she could ever have imagined. Like the little girl in Alice in Wonderland, she’d grown smaller and everything around her had doubled in size. Trees were so tall she could not see the top of them and the grass that tickled her bare legs nearly came up to her knees. Ellie looked back towards the way she had come but she knew it was fruitless. There was only one way to go, and that was to follow the sound that beckoned her. It was as if she saw everything through mist, layers of white vapour that rose to reveal a reality that became sharper with every passing minute. She was no longer Ellie Bentley; that she knew. She was a child, perhaps no more than five years old, and her thoughts intruded until Ellie had none left of her own. Her world was larger, more defined, sounds and smells were fresher, brighter and vivid. More than that, she felt different. Ellie saw life through the eyes of someone else, and when she heard the boy’s voice calling her name she knew him to be her brother.

‘Come on, Jane, let us go again!’

Henry pulled me up the slope to the top of the field where the elm trees stood like sentinels and whispered over our heads in their hushing, leaf language. The day was hot like the one I’d left behind, and my legs struggled to keep up with him in the heat. He sensed that my small legs were tiring and he turned to wait, looking at me with a grin. Light flickered in his hazel eyes, those that I knew grown-ups said were so like mine, but his were almost golden on this day, like Baltic amber. The grass up at the top of the terrace was so long; it prickled the back of my legs. Beads of dew, like fairy necklaces strung along green blades, felt cold under my feet. When we reached the top, he showed me how to lie down in line with the trees, my toes pointing one way and my arms stretched over my head.

‘Jane, wait until I count to three,’ I heard him say.

Lying in the sweetly fragrant meadow, I felt so excited I started to giggle, and my body fidgeted in response. And before he’d managed to shout out the number three, I’d started going, rolling down the hill, and gathering momentum until the world was spinning. There was a blur of blue sky; then green fields, and then over I went again like a flyer on Nanny Littleworth’s spinning wheel. I could see Henry overtake me, going faster than ever. He got to the bottom before me but I came to a standstill at last, my heart beating with pure pleasure as I lay in the grass chuckling and laughing. There were grass stains on my dress and daisies in my hair, which Henry picked out, one by one.

Sitting up, I could see a house that I knew was my home and I had a sudden longing to see my father.

‘Are you not coming up again, little Jenny?’ Henry asked, calling me by the pet name my family used when they wanted to appeal to my better nature. He had his hands in the pockets of his breeches. His shirt was crumpled and stained like my gown. Brown curls flopped over his eyes, which looked into mine so tenderly that I almost changed my mind. I ran to hug him, stood on my tiptoes and planted a kiss on his cheek. Henry was my protector, and my beloved playmate. I longed to be just like him but my mother scolded me when I behaved too much like a tomboy. I knew I should not run or jump or shout, as my brothers did, but nothing she said would deter me, so when Henry begged me to play with him I did not usually need to be asked twice. But, as much as I wanted to be with him, home was calling.

I shook my head and muttered, ‘I’m going to see Papa.’

*          *          *

I have vivid memories of rolling down the slope in the park at the back of my childhood home with my brother and sister, which was a thing we all loved to do. We were recovering from German Measles, and the grass made our rashes flare up again, all very prickly and itchy - but we were all so glad to be outside again. Most of my childhood seemed to be spent outdoors playing, or indoors drawing and writing, which were my favourite hobbies - I’d love to know what pastimes you enjoyed as a child!

Connect with Jane Odiwe

Jane Odiwe - Austen Effusions:

Jane Odiwe is the author of five Austen-inspired novels, Project Darcy,Searching for Captain Wentworth,Mr Darcy's Secret,Willoughby's Return, and Lydia Bennet's Story , and is a contributor to Laurel Ann Nattress’s anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, with a short story, Waiting. Jane is a member of the Jane Austen Society; she holds an arts degree, and initially started her working life teaching Art and History. When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting and trying to capture the spirit of Jane Austen’s world. Her illustrations have been published in a picture book, Effusions Of Fancy, and are featured in a biographical film of Jane Austen’s life in Sony’s DVD edition of The Jane Austen Book Club.


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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Book Review: The Blooding of Jack Absolute by C.C. Humphreys

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of reading C.C. Humphries novel, Jack Absolute. In this first volume of a trilogy, the titular character is introduced as a roguish, nearly fearless warrior who could charm the ladies and outfox his opponents in battle as well. I fancied him an 18th century James Bond, although his personality is a bit more mischievous than Ian Fleming’s modern spy. Jack Absolute was great fun, and I eagerly welcomed the arrival of The Blooding of Jack Absolute.  This review will make the assumption that the reader is familiar with volume one, and I will discuss particular plot points from volume two.  To avoid spoiler material, you may want to skip down to the portion below the dividing asterisks.

The second volume is a prequel, going back to years well before Jack became a soldier. Even as a child, he is precocious and must endure hardship within his familial relationships. Seeing how he was treated as a boy, it’s no wonder that he grew into the young man that he did.  The bulk of the first half of the novel covers his early adulthood, around the ages of 18-20.  Even at such a young age, Jack shows much maturity and ingenuity in his life.  He also displays the recklessness of youth, getting in over his head with adversaries and seducing more than one woman at a time.  As was seen in Jack Absolute, he often finds himself in perilous situations, some of which are of his own making, circumstances from which he must escape with ingenious and sometimes treacherous tactics.

The first half of the novel centers on the formative years before his military service, characterizing who he is as a person, and introducing us to a truly despicable villain, his cousin Caster Absolute. The contentious relationship between Caster and Jack builds, and at the same time another enemy of Jack’s is made in an influential Lord.  By the conclusion of the eleventh chapter, Jack is very motivated to skip town, and he finds his passage out of the country by joining the military.

The second half focuses on Jack’s first tour in North America, specifically in Canada.  Once again C.C. Humpries presents historically accurate battle scenes, although in The Blooding of Jack Absolute, there seemed to be fewer chapters devoted to this venue, which I appreciated.  I enjoy plot development off the battlefield, although I can appreciate the importance of these warring moments within this particular story.  Jack must make his first kill, or “blooding” as a young soldier, and this moment is critical in his life and is referenced more than once later in the novel.  The kills on the battlefield are not taken lightly, and Jack never forgets that first, difficult time when he must take the life of another human being.

In addition to becoming an initiated soldier, Jack is forced to learn the ways of the Iroquois Indian, as he becomes a captive with the Iroquois man we come to know as Até.  This amazing warrior is presented as Jack’s right hand in the first novel, and I loved seeing how these two future partners met and became friends.  Até is a serious, strong individual, prone to unintentional humorous lines.  On more than one occasion, I found myself laughing aloud to some of his statements.  The development of this relationship between Jack and Até was probably the most enjoyable portion of Blooding. I have purposefully kept my eyes away from plot points of the third novel, Absolute Honour, and I truly hope that we see more of Até spending time with his blood-brother Jack.

Once again, C.C. Humphries has done his homework with historical details, and some of the more enjoyable facts that were shared had more to do with the wilderness survival techniques that Até used while stranded in the woods throughout an entire winter.  I learned so much about how the native North Americans utilized the resources around them, giving themselves nourishment, shelter and personal protection. Até not only mentored Jack in the ways of the Iroquois, but he taught me as well.  If found it entertaining as well as educational.

*          *          *

As much as I enjoyed Jack Absolute, I think I may have enjoyed its prequel even more.  There seems to be fewer battle scenes and more character development.  Jack works his way out of all manner of predicaments, using his knowledge, cunning and sometimes sheer luck to survive.  He is a loveable scoundrel, and I thoroughly enjoyed the prologue to what came later in his life. His relationship with Até is compelling and full of excitement.

I highly recommend The Blooding of Jack Absolute, but I must inform my conservative readers that the content of the novel is decidedly PG-13. Jack enjoys a robust love life, so there is a bit of adult material as he pursues his women.  The men have understandably salty language, as we are spending significant portions of the story on the battlefield. Author C.C. Humphries easily could have made things more colorful and retained a sense of realism, so I appreciate the relative low level of coarse language throughout the book.  As there are many conflicts and battles, including those with the native Indians, there are moments that detail exactly what is happening to these men. However, I found this amount of material to be less than the first book, and Humphries could have gone much farther with his detail without being gratuitous.

The Blooding of Jack Absolute was a wonderful follow-up (or preview, as the case may be) to Jack Absolute. The entire cast of characters are colorful and interesting, from Jack to the miscreants we encounter along the way.  The heroes are strong and admirable, and the villains are corrupt to the core.  This makes for highly enjoyable storytelling. I was so pleased to learn of Jack’s history, and I thoroughly look forward to the concluding novel of the trilogy, Absolute Honour.



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