Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Short and A Main Feature by Cindy (C.S.) McDonald! Enjoy!

When I was thinking about combining the reviews for two books I had from Cindy McDonald, I thought about how, when we used to go to the movies, we get a short, usually a cartoon, before the main feature! For whatever reason, McDonald writes her Fiona Quinn mystery series under C. S. McDonald. Personally, I find it leads to not being able to find all the books of one author, when they do that...but I digress...
Crystal Clear Confusion, just out, provides a fun short story about Fiona Quinn, the series main character. Actually, if you are interested in interpreting dreams, like I am, and become fairly good at it, you won't need to seek help, like Fiona did... You see, she was having scary dreams about being at work, alone, and discovering some horrible monster after her. Each time, it varied a little, but there was always something about which Fiona was afraid...

So when her neighbor offered to help her, using her new crystal ball that had arrived in the mail, Fiona, thought, why not?

Fiona Quinn’s hurried footfalls echoed through the empty hallway of Westwood Elementary School. The lights were off. Only the shadows of dusk fell through the large windows that lined the corridor. Where is everyone? She thought.  
She peered into the library—it was pitch dark and still. Had the librarian, Julia Bell, gone home for the day? Picking up her pace, she made her way toward the main office to look through the window—it was dim and quiet. Kim Stone, the school secretary, was not sitting at her desk tapping on her computer or fielding phone calls. Principal Britton’s office door hung open, as it always did when he was absent. 
The door to the empty office next to his was open as well—that door had always been closed. Everything appeared to be locked up tight for the night. Only, it wasn’t night—or at least she didn’t think it was so late. If it were night, where were the janitors? Why weren’t they dumping trashcans or mopping the hallways? Why wasn’t the school’s intercom system playing pop music as it always was while the janitors went through their evening tasks? Had she fallen asleep at her desk after she’d put her kindergartners on their buses for home? 
She must’ve slept for hours. She’d never done such a thing—sure, she’d been feeling a bit tired lately, but not weary enough to fall asleep at her desk while doing a little after school paperwork. Wow, she’d better get to bed early this night. 
She heard a noise. She stilled to listen again—it sounded like a growl. She didn’t move, and again, a grumbling growl echoed down the hallway. Trepidation ripped through her. She turned only to see a lion at the other end of the corridor! What? What would a lion be doing in the school? 
No time to wait for the answer—he let out a roar that rumbled the windows, then he leapt into action galloping straight at her! 
Letting out a shriek, Fiona darted down the hallway as fast as she could possibly move! Could she outrun a lion? Somehow, she doubted it! Sliding on the smooth linoleum, she made a quick right down the hall that led to her classroom, only the hallway stretched making her destination farther away. Her heavy breaths boomed inside her head as she dashed toward her room. She could hear the lion’s paws pounding on the floor—he was getting closer, and yet her room was farther and farther away! 
Totally out of breath, she finally arrived at the door of her classroom. She slid inside and slammed the door closed, twisting the lock. 
The lion snarled and roared and clawed at the door, pressing his face against the elongated glass window along the margin of the door. His dark eyes outlined with a thick band of black that extended toward his temples, such as Cleopatra’s. 
Trapped and terrified, Fiona screamed!

Sometimes people don't understand why they are sad, scared, edgy--they think everything is normal and that they can handle just about anything that comes along. But sometimes, that is not the case... You and I, and, as Fiona, discovered, get irritated, upset, and even talk about things that bother us during the day. But we don't admit that these things bother as much as they really do. And that's, sometimes, why we have nightmares...

Actually, the attempt to discover what is wrong via a crystal ball is fun but is unsuccessful. And, sometimes, you just have to finally face those fears, and realize that things were not so bad after all.. But wouldn't it be better to be able to think through issues as they are affecting you? McDonald, gives tweens, teens, and adults a chance to consider whether they can stop and explore what if anything is really bothering you. And, if you have a nightmare, think about what could have caused it...or talk to somebody about it, so that you may be able to better prepare for what comes to you each day...

A fun book, but it's also a teaching one--if you consider all that was going on and how Fiona's nightmares were visions in her mind of what she feared most during her days...  It would be interesting to see if your children understand what is actually being shared in the book... Check it out...I still suffer from flashback dreams once in awhile... When that happens, I always make a point of trying to figure out what caused me to dream those thoughts... If your children have scary dreams, this book can be a great way to talk about how what is happening in your life, affects what happens in your dreams at night!


The windows were wide open to let the fresh air into the cabin or let the layers of dust escape from all the sweeping Peyton had been doing that morning. He’d been forced outside several times coughing and hacking. He strung rope from several trees to form a clothes line to dry the bedding he’d washed. He was beginning to think it would be far easier to go into Lost Pine and buy new sheets. 
All in all the cabin was starting to look presentable, but the sheets—not so much. As he stood back trying to decide, he noticed the bushes moving. He stilled, slowing his breathing, listening, while watching the tall thicket along the wood line. And there it was again—the wolf, slowly making his way along the trees. Interesting. Wolves are known to be nocturnal creatures. They sleep during the heat of the day, preferring to hunt at dusk. It was only one o’clock—what was the wolf doing out and about? 
Peyton inched his way amongst the sheets hanging on the line, hoping to get a better look from a concealed position. The wolf caught the movement and made haste across the field, disappearing into the trees on the other side. Peyton scrubbed his fingers across the stubble on his chin. This was his second sighting of the wolf—if it was the same wolf, and it looked to be. 
He didn’t have a chance to ask Clancy about the wolf yesterday when he’d arrived in Lost Pine. The main focus was Ben Lorde and his electro-sensitive followers who had taken up residence several miles away. Clancy was convinced that Lorde and his followers were responsible for his brother, Jed’s, death. Jed had gone on a lone fishing trip last year and never returned. His body was never found, and neither was any of his gear. Clancy felt he’d had some kind of altercation with the group and they’d killed him. He had no proof—only a strong gut feeling and the strange goings on among the community. Peyton had a ton of respect for his father’s old friend, Clancy, but he wasn’t sure his suspicions were justified. Anything can happen to a man alone in the Rockies—anything at all. 
Still, if he had an opportunity to check up on the community, he would. Right now, he wanted to check up on the wolf. Taking another look at the sheets and blankets, he decided it was time for new—he would take a drive into town to make the purchases and take the opportunity to ask Clancy about the wolf. Besides, it would give the dust a chance to settle inside the cabin. After washing up a bit, Peyton jumped into his Jeep, buckled up, and set off for town. 
The warm summer air whipped through the open cab blowing his T-shirt against his chiseled chest. He wasn’t more than a mile or so down the road when he came upon a two-seater blue Razor along the side of the road, stuck in a ditch. A tiny slender woman was standing near the vehicle looking rather agitated. She was dressed in a pair of jeans, a pair of sunglasses, and a long lab coat—not the usual attire one would see a person driving a Razor wearing. Razors are all-terrain vehicles that more resemble a pimped-out golf cart than an ATV. Some have two seats, and some have four, while many have short cargo areas behind the seats. 
Peyton’s visit to Lost Pine was becoming more interesting by the day, he couldn’t help thinking as he slowed the Jeep to a stop next to the woman. “What happened?” Peyton asked. 
“Some lunatic in a pickup truck ran me off the road!” the woman said. Her face was flushed with anger. The top button of her blue blouse had come undone revealing droplets of sweat glistening above her cleavage. “I was on my way into town to pick up some packages. He came at me like a bat out of hell. I had to swerve to get out of his way. What’s wrong with people?” 
Peyton jumped out of the Jeep to take a look at the Razor. “It doesn’t appear to be damaged, just stuck. I don’t have a chain with me and I’m not sure I’ve got one at my cabin. I was going into town myself. I’ll give you a ride. I’ll pick up a chain and I can pull you out of the ditch after we finish our business in town. If that’s good with you.” 
Rubbing the nape of her neck, she noticed her open blouse. Letting out a gasp, she quickly buttoned up. “That…that would be very kind of you…mister—” Peyton held out his hand. “I’m Peyton. And you are?” 
She took off her sunglasses to expose her fairy green eyes, then shook his hand. Obviously trying to shrug off the irritation of being forced into a ditch, she smiled brightly. “Naomi…Dr. Naomi Jenkins.”
“Nice to meet you, Dr. Naomi Jenkins, you must live around here if you’re a doctor and you’re driving around a Razor.” 
“I live in the electro-sensitive community. I’m the physician for the community. I have medical supplies waiting for me in town.” 
“Well, we’d best get going.” She hurried to the Razor and grabbed a medical bag sitting on the seat. “I can’t leave this behind. It’s got medication in it.” 
Peyton helped her into the passenger seat and then slid into the driver seat. 
“So you suffer from electro-magnetic-sensitivity?” 
“No, my son does. While we in the medical field don’t recognize EHS, what my son was going through was very real—constant headaches, vomiting, digestive irritation, that was just for starters. At first, I thought he didn’t want to go to school or perhaps his study load was too stressful, but no matter what we tried, his symptoms kept escalating. I didn’t figure it out until I took him on a camping trip with no devices—his symptoms disappeared almost immediately. At that point, I couldn’t deny what his prognosis was—EHS, Electromagnetic hypersensitivity. I’m surprised you know what it is—not many people do...”

Finding a book from which I learn something new is what I consider an added bonus. I learned all about Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity in one of the books I had missed from The First Force Series. Had you heard of it? Well, I've added a couple of the shorter videos to share, but there are many more that reveals that this is Fact...not Fiction. In sharing this information, as a teaching and warning for many of us, McDonald has done a great service since most of the victims of this syndrome are not aware of what is wrong with them...and many doctors also might not know...

In telling about this issue, McDonald brings together two lovers. One in First Force and one in private security. Peyton Mattock was home from Russia, where he works for Hawke International Security Firm.  He's planning to meet up with Casey Rhodes, a First Force Operative, to spend some quality time at his cabin. Peyton has gone in advance, to clean the cabin a little, gather supplies, and ensure everything is perfect for Casey's arrival.

Only to find some really strange things happening in the little town with the only supply store around. One of the first things he noticed was a telephone booth in front of the story. Ok, that probably means that cell phones would be a problem in some areas...

Actually, it meant that there was no longer any electronic equipment in the entire area! No cell phones, television, music, computers, wifi and more--a wave-free existence! Clancy McCade would know what was going on--he'd been there in town since long before they had their cabin and Clancy took care of checking things out in Peyton's absence.  What he learned was far more than expected... Especially, that Clancy's brother was dead and he was blaming his death on a new settlement that had been created, where no type of electronics were permitted--by government approval... A very rich individual had developed a community where individuals with the syndrome, including himself, could live without problems, at least until a cure was found...

But this particular rich man was, unfortunately, not totally interested in saving many lives--just his own! And that's when outside help from First Force was called in (figuratively!). This is not the usual thriller, however, since most of the community were there to ensure a family member was able to live regularly, along with family members who cared enough to enter into this wave-free environment. Did the occupants need help, or were they part of a conspiracy underlying all that was really happening there, without any way to reach out beyond the community? Because of the unusual storyline...I'll let you discover more in the book itself!

The entire First Force is a great group of characters that, in each book, has a spotlight case handled by one or more members. In this book, we also have a personal touchstone as one of the members is about to have a child... While, by the ending, the need for a new member is gratefully welcomed. I'm hoping this series continues. The direction of First Force is uniquely flexible to respond to those needing help or in danger. They are prepared, yes, but there is always a personal element to team members that includes a touch of love moving it into a delightful pairing of romance and suspense.

I loved the side story of a gray wolf that entered the story as a scavenger looking for food near Peyton's cabin...and how...and who...was able to befriend him!

This was my first introduction to Casey Rhodes--a very cool lady who I would like to see more of in the future! Hint to the author... The First Force Series are always recommended... I'm now caught up and looking for a new addition! In the meantime, the entire series is highly recommended.


For 26 years Cindy's life whirled around a song and a dance--she was a professional choreographer. She taught ballet, jazz, and tap. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. Most recently, she has retired to write her novels. She resides with her husband and Cocker Spaniel, Allister, on their Thoroughbred farm known as Fly By Night Stables near Pittsburgh. To learn more about all of Ms. McDonald's book series and to read excerpts from her upcoming books, please visit her website: 
You can also find out about her cozy mystery series, Fiona Quinn Mysteries, and her children's books under her pen name, C.S. McDonald. Here's that website: Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so very much for these wonderful reviews. I truly appreciate you taking time to read my stories!