Tuesday, October 13, 2015

REVIEW: General Houston's Little Spy by Cara Skinner

General Houston's Little Spy
by Cara Skinner

Publisher: Tate Publishing
Page Count: 178
Release Date: 2015
Format: Paperback

How got: free copy from author

First attention getter: little known state history


From back of the book:

Young Samantha Russell wants only to marry her fiancée, Danny Autry, and move to Texas, the vast Mexican territory newly opened to American settlers. Texas, with its seemingly unlimited natural resources and land, proves irresistible to this young couple seeking a place to begin a new life. But once there, they soon find themselves caught up in the Texan settler's struggle against the Mexican dictator, Santa Anna, and his tyrannical rule.

After tragedy strikes at the fall of the Alamo, Samantha vows to seek revenge. General Houston's Little Spy follows Samantha as she embarks on a dangerous mission to assist General Sam Houston and his small fledgling army in their fight against Santa Anna's superior military force. Little does Samantha know that the outcome of this fight will not only decide the fate of Texas, but will ultimately alter the futures of two powerful nations.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 2.5

The book started out with promise, exploring a part of American history I wasn’t all that familiar with. The author does a good job in setting her scene and her research. However, other areas of this book need work. I think I’m in the minority with this one as most others have awarded five stars. I just don’t feel myself being able to do so, though.

I liked exploring the build up to the Alamo, the massacre itself, and some of the events that followed it up. The author evidently knows her stuff as she presents many of the personalities that were involved and lesser known events with deft skill. She also does a good job in creating vivid scenes. She spends time in making her readers experience the scenes, not just read them.

Yet, that strength also contributes to one of the weaknesses of this novel. The author falls into the trap of many first time authors (at least some of the ones I’ve come across) in telling her audience too much rather than revealing through action or dialogue. The entire book isn’t like this, but it happens more often than not.

The book’s other main flaw is the main character. I swear to all that’s holy, I wanted to shoot Samantha more than I wanted to cheer her on. She started out OK; I especially liked her during the Alamo action itself. She doesn’t let herself be shuffled off with the other women. Nope, she sticks her ground and fights alongside her family for her freedom and survival. She also has the courage to go into a new land with her new husband to start a different life, far from home and support. I liked that spunk and courage.

There are a few times in this beginning part of the book where she comes off as childish and foolish. The drunken confrontation scene at the Alamo comes to mind. Yet, it’s when she gets it into her head to start spying, that she really starts to lose brain cells and gets even more stupid. She goes off halfcocked after the Mexican army with hardly any planning at all, winging it as she goes. I’m amazed she survived. Either the Mexican army is very unobservant and stupid or Samantha has got enough luck to win the lottery every year. Either way, the more I read this latter half of the book, the more I hated her character.

It’s when other characters praised her as being so intelligent and amazing in her spying that I threw my hands up in frustration. These were the same people who were questioning her spying before. Then suddenly they’re all in awe of her?!?! I’ll admit the last few pages I skimmed more than I actually read. I had just reached my boil point and couldn’t read every word.

So the book started out good with great scene setting, research, and a main character I liked overall. However, that character turned into Ms. Stupid, and I lost all sympathy or respect for her. The whole spy thing, which is what I was interested in in the first place, turned into a SNAFU of pure blind luck and shoddy planning/action combinations. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this book to anyone; I can safely say I won’t be hunting it out to read again. I’m sorry I can’t agree with the multitude of 5 star ratings this title has received; it’s only a 2.5 for me.

Note: Book received for free from author via GoodReads FirstReads program in exchange for an honest review.


  1. -- "I’m amazed she survived."

    I had to laugh at this. Nothing like a hero/heroine you can't connect with to make (or break in this case) a story.

    1. Oh I know. If you can't connect with the person telling the story, the person we have the most exposure to as readers, than the book is done for. It explored some interesting areas of history I wasn't familiar with, but still not a book I'd recommend on. :)