Christmas Carol by Ruth Gogoll

Michaela Wittling is as cold-hearted a bitch as you can ever have the misfortune to meet. She is so close-fisted that she does not even allow more than the most essential light to be used by her employees, two of which are Ramona Benckhoff and Evelyn Majakowski, accountant and secretary, respectively.

However, the night before Christmas, she is visited by three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas yet to Be.

Ms. Gogoll gives us a modern day version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with Michaela “Scrooge” and Ramona/Evelyn “Cratchit”. She does not follow Dickens’ somewhat formal structure (the five staves), and she abbreviates the first four staves, expanding on the fifth.

It is a joy to behold how many little details from the original tale get seamlessly interwoven into the story as it unfolds. Even the prank of pretending that Martha Cratchit will not attend this year’s family gathering can be found.

It is not giving too much away to say that a redeemed Michaela makes amends for her cold-heartedness, most notably with regards to Ramona. This “Stave 5 — The End of It”, in which Dickens rather briefly sums up the changes in Scrooge’s soul, takes up about half of Ms. Gogoll’s novel. It turns into a beautiful lesbian romance and comes to its conclusion on Christmas the following year. No spoilers will be given about this part, though.

It’s been said, “Forget Dickens!”, but that seems a bit too much. Both stories were written in different times and for different audiences. However, Ms. Gogoll’s rendering of the plot is a very welcome addition, well worth the time spent reading it. Don’t miss out on it!

Published by édition el!es (www.elles-books.com)

The Old Woman by Q. Kelly

If you are 25 years of age (or imagine being that), could you fall in love with someone being 75 years old? I’m not going to ask the complementary question — if you’re old enough, you won’t have to imagine, if you’re not, you cannot yet envision the clock running down on you. Well, my guess.


Ada has certainly made plans for her life, and out of her list of 109 things to experience, she has accomplished 106.

Rach, on the other hand, has no such list. In fact, she’s not over her girlfriend leaving her, and it’s only at her friend Jessica’s insistence to get involved with the next woman coming down the aisle of the supermarket, that she gets to know Ada, bent with age, but also with a mind much more wide open than Rach’s.

We get to see Rach change, perhaps mature, if that does not sound too condescending. And naturally, this is not a “happily ever after” kind of story — it is a happy story none-the-less, one that explores love beyond being in a bliss, or between the sheets (although there’s that, too).

It’s a rather short story — the time invested reading it is well worth your time.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/q/qkelly_theoldwoman.html

Guardian Angel by D

Nice sized short story, I thought, when the download finished quickly. But I had overlooked the “1” in the URL, and together with parts 2-9 you get a novel almost half the size of the bible.Luckily for me, the story starts with an angel describing her job and the glitches that occur, and how these are handled. Thus I was hooked before I realised that it’s about falling in love with a best friend and walking away from it. Otherwise, I’d probably have put it down with a sigh and looked for something else to read — and would have been wrong for the second time. It’s much more than that.

Charisma Tagherty has her goal in life defined: she wants to be the first female president of the United States. In college, she gets to room with Brianna Walker. The two become best friends, and after  graduation they take some months time out to travel Europe together. Bri falls for Chari, but, knowing
that a lesbian affair would kill Chari’s political career, walks out on the relationship.

Why this is regarded as important enough for the heavenly forces to not only send an angel to intervene, but an entire team of them, remains unclear until close to the finish, but in fact there is more to it than D. lets on for a while. Twenty (earth) years later, Guardian Esmeralda and her soul mate Saphira, along with another number of angels, get assigned with setting things right.

Bri accepts to temporarily fill the chair of a senator fallen ill, and so meets Senator Tagherty for the first time after their separation, and both of them are, shall we say, less than thrilled. Which leaves their guardians with enough work to despair.

That should do for pointers. You get a set of well rounded protagonists with very believable support characters, some refreshingly irreverent language (caveat to those who cannot take religion with a pinch of humour), and a high level of drama — I admit to having used up a stack of tissues. However, “The Storyteller’s Cardinal Rule is in effect.” You also get a thoroughly well crafted storyline with quite a few hints discoverable only in retrospect.

Well worth the reading time (and the tissues, as well)!

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/d/d_guardianangel1.html

Falling from Grace by Ann McMan

If you don’t believe in coincidence, or cannot at least make believe, this story may well not be for you.Grace Wagner is far from over from being dumped (for a younger woman!) by her partner, Denise. And she is so not looking forward to attending her best friend Rizzo’s birthday party on Halloween — in full costume. Besides, the flight to San Francisco costs a fortune.

Said flight turns out to be somewhat rewarding, when Grace meets Abby Williams. The two women “click”, and (surprise, surprise!) meet again at Rizzo’s party. They spend the night after together (but if you’re looking for steam, look elsewhere).

Well then, are we being treated with a happy ending? No, we aren’t. But… After having lost contact with one another, they meet again. And it’s at this point that Ann asks her readers if they want to read more about this (not yet) couple. She wanted to only write a short story, but the plot somehow got out of hand. Of course, I voted YES!!!

Ann is currently busy with a sequel to “Jericho”, so it might be a while.

Well worth reading, driven by fast, intelligent dialogue (which I’m beginning to think of as the authoress’s special talent).

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/a/annmcman_fallingfromgrace.html

The Pocket Watch by Cheyne Curry

I’ve always said that I don’t review stories I don’t like. I’ll make an exception, this time. It’s not the story that’s at fault, rather my ability to deal with angst and an ending which is not so happy.

When Jenna looks out of her window at the working place of her partner in the 95th storey of the World Trade Centre, everything seems to be OK. Five Minutes later… yes, we’re talking about 9/11. Jenna is a fire fighter, and of course she heads out to see if she can help in the face of catastrophy, all the while worrying about the fate of her partner, Brynne.

The story puts the reader right in the middle of the chaos: confusion, dread. sheer physical exhaustion, narrated from Jenna’s point of view. It takes some nerve to read, and I cannot help but wonder how Cheyne felt writing it.

There is a shift in perspective at the end, something I don’t usually appreciate. It is necessary in this case, though.

I am of two minds whether to suggest reading The Pocket Watch, or warn against it. But then, the people involved did not have the choice, but had to live or die right there.

Brilliant, but depressing.

http://web.me.com/cheynecurry/Site/Hot_Off_The_Computer!_files/The%20Pocket%20Watch.pdf

Betrayal by t.e.brehm

A very short story that I almost didn’t read to the end — if you are a grammar nazi like me, you’ll also flinch at incoherent use of tenses. But I would have missed an interesting ending.

Devlyn is Sylvia’s best friend, and is there for her, when Sylvia finds her partner of ten years in bed with another woman. Devlyn has also been secretly in love with Sylvia for a long time. Oh no, not that plot again? Well, give it one more try!

For one thing, it’s rather unusual that the author manages to tell the story without having Dev speak a single word. For another, there’s a twist at the end that came quite unexpected for me.

A nice return on a few minutes’ investment of your reading time.

http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/t/tebrehm_betrayal.html