Category: Sunday Meme

Short Story Sunday: The Marriage Test by Suzanne Redfearn

The Marriage Test
Suzanne Redfearn

Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Published: November 23, 2021

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: November 23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

From the bestselling author of In an Instant comes a heartfelt short story about one couple’s journey to discover if there really is a secret ingredient to happily ever after before their upcoming holiday wedding.

When Ava Barnes’s boyfriend, Justin, proposes after a whirlwind romance, the young couple embarks on a quest that will test their love. For generations, engaged couples in Ava’s family have traveled into the Everglades to retrieve the egg of the magnificent frigate bird in order to bake it into a marriage cake. Those who succeed live happily ever after, while those who fail are destined for heartbreak. With Ava’s beloved grandmother gravely ill, never has the marriage tradition meant so much. Ava’s dream is to pass the test so her grandmother can attend Ava’s holiday wedding to the man she loves.

So Ava, Justin, and their best friend Walton as a witness set off on a remarkable adventure that will challenge the true depth of their character and devotion. An emotional, heartrending journey of self-discovery, The Marriage Test turns out to be far more than any of them imagined.

Is there any test more challenging than a test of love?

Jessica’s Review:

The Marriage Test is a novella that takes place in December, but that is all in regards to a ‘holiday’ story. Justin proposes to Ava after a short romance.  Eva’s family has a long-standing tradition where engaged couples must go on a ‘quest’ of sorts to the Florida Everglades to retrieve a frigate bird’s egg and then they make their marriage cake (not their wedding cake). For generations, the couples who have succeeded have had long happy marriage while the couples who do not complete the quest or fail to attempt the quest at all fail at their marriage, which includes Ava’s parents. And Ava is determined to complete this quest. 

Ava and Justin prepare for their quest along with their friend Walton (who does not agree with the relationship) as a witness to the events.  We get to go into the Everglades with the trio and have a bit of an adventure.  For me, I was expecting more of the quest than what we got, so it was a little bit of a let down for me, but there is a reason to this.  The shortness of the quest and other signs point to you knowing how this story should go. 

This short story is a complete story and optimistic at the end. I really enjoyed the idea of couples going on a quest to prove their upcoming marriage along with the baking of the marriage cake. This short story shows how everything that is supposed to happen does.

Karissa Vacker narrates the audiobook. She is a narrator I enjoy, so her narrating the story was a pleasant surprise for me.  If you enjoy short stories that have a little bit of an adventure and romance, The Marriage Test will be one for you to read!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Sunday Series Review: Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Trilogy

Today Kim brings you a Sunday Series Review of Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Trilogy by William Shatner.

Books in the Series:

Dark Victory

Published: April 1, 1999
384 Pages

Retired and happily married, Kirk believes his adventuring days are over. But as he returns to Earth for the first time since his apparent death upon the Enterprise-B, events elsewhere in the galaxy set in motion a mystery that may provide Kirk with his greatest challenge yet.

Dark Victory
Published: April 1, 2000
303 Pages

James T. Kirk returns to the mirror universe that was first seen in the original televised Star Trek, to engage in a battle with the cleverest and most dangerous foe he has ever encountered, his mirror universe duplicate.

Published: April 1, 2001
420 Pages

In the Mirror Universe the tyrannical Emperor Tiberius, once captain of the ISS Enterprise, had great success turning captured alien weaponry to his advantage. Until, that is, his failure to seize the tantalising advances of the ancient First Federation. Now, in the more peaceful universe of the United Federation of Planets, Tiberius sees his second chance. And a new ally will help him take it – his alter ego for whom he has nothing but contempt – Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk. Honorable, idealistic and decent, James T. Kirk is many things Tiberius is not. But he is also a man deeply in love with his wife – and Teilani is dying. To save her life, Kirk is prepared to compromise his ideals and enter into his most dangerous alliance yet.

Battling Captain Jean-Luc Picard and a new generation of Starfleet heroes, Kirk must guide Tiberius to a long-abandoned First Federation base which conceals a power so great it will enable Tiberius to conquer the mirror universe – and his own. But on that journey Kirk uncovers long-hidden secrets that raise the stakes far beyond the mere survival of family and friends. At the heart of their quest, something else is waiting: an object from a civilisation whose technology is far more advanced than any Kirk or Tiberius could hope to acquire, placed there for Kirk’s eyes only by mysterious aliens who appear to have influenced life within the galaxy over eons of time – a message from the Preservers…

Kim’s Rating of the Series: 3.5 stars

Kim’s Thoughts on the The Mirror Universe Trilogy:

I did write a separate review for Book 1, Spectre. This review is for the series as a whole. I won’t rehash what I’ve already said, I love Spectre so much. I was so excited to continue on with the series. My review for Spectre is here.

Unfortunately, Books 2 and 3 do not live up to the awesomeness of Book 1. I felt like we switched from Shatner to his ghost writers. Book 2, Dark Victory, felt like nothing more than a placeholder. It existed just to give details so we would get what was happening in Book 3. Teilani turned into a completely different person and Kirk went from maverick to unhinged. I was also completely out of my league with the science. Normally, I can keep up in Star Trek. I get the basics and pick up things as I go. I know that a cloaked vessel emits tachyon particles and that’s the best way to detect it … but I can’t really tell you why it does or what tachyon particles are. Dark Victory went to a more advanced level that I knew I’d never be able to reach. It felt like a struggle just to understand what was going on half the time.

Book 3, Preserver, got better, but I was still disappointed. The story line that was developing in Spectre was what I wanted to read. But by the end of Preserver, we were in a completely different quadrant and I’m still not sure how we got there. Preserver dealt more with history than with science so I felt a little better on my own turf, but I really didn’t like how it made me question literally everything I had seen and learned from Star Trek up to that point. And the ending just felt incomplete, like Kirk lost who he was along the way.

Overall, I was just dissatisfied. I wanted to enjoy it, and I did enjoy parts, but Shatner let me down and I mourn what this series could have been!!


Sunday Series Review: The Bill Hodges Trilogy

Today Kim brings you a Sunday Series Review of the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King!

Books in the Series:
Mr. Mercedes

Finders Keepers
End of Watch

Mr. Mercedes
Published: June 3, 2014
437 Pages

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with two new, unusual allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Finders Keepers
Published: June 2, 2015
434 Pages

The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

End of Watch
Published: June 7, 2016
432 Pages

The spectacular finale to the New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with Mr. Mercedes (winner of the Edgar Award) and Finders Keepers—In End of Watch, the diabolical “Mercedes Killer” drives his enemies to suicide, and if Bill Hodges and Holly Gibney don’t figure out a way to stop him, they’ll be victims themselves.

In Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, something has awakened. Something evil. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney—the woman who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the heart-pounding, supernatural suspense that has been his bestselling trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and chilling suspense. No one does it better than King.

Kim’s Ratings of the Series: 4 Stars

Kim’s Thoughts on The Bill Hodges Trilogy:

Such a great series! I’m all about some criminal psychology and then King threw in some amazing characters and now I’m almost perfectly happy! I watched the TV show, Mr. Mercedes, first, and got to know Bill and Brady and Jerome and Holly before ever reading them on the page. They drew me in and having faces to go with the story was an added bonus. Obviously there was some rather uncomfortable ideas flying around in Brady’s head, hence he’s the villain and such a good one.

I read Mr. Mercedes quickly and loved it. King doesn’t shy away from making tough decisions for his characters and while I may not have liked them all, his story reflected harsh reality pretty accurately. Finders Keepers was an interesting stepping stone for Bill, Jerome, and Holly. I’m not gonna lie, I feel like King should have nixed it from the trilogy and made it a standalone but I liked learning more about the core characters so I can’t complain too much. The Finders Keepers plot line was actually my 2nd favorite of the series so King definitely delivered. My inner booknerd was thrilled and appalled at the same time.

Then he concluded with End of Watch. And what a conclusion it was! Y’all know I hate loose ends and if a series ends, then it needs to end. End of Watch ended it and it was bittersweet. Saying goodbye to characters you love and even to ones you hate can be hard, but I felt complete and content. To me, End of Watch felt more classic King than the other books did. A lot of improbabilities, but still believable and even plausible. It gave me some anxiety and I loved every second of it!

Overall, this is a great series for pretty much everybody. It was far more true crime than horror. I absolutely recommend it!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK