Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted, by Angelina Kerner

5_31_17 Challenge Accepted

4 stars

This is one of the cuter romances I’ve read.

 

Chanel, a senator’s daughter, got a bodyguard for a gift after an altercation with reporters. I think we all know where this is going. And boy, I’m a sucker for that trope.

 

It was nice to see a novel that featured someone with a disability. Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted made use of the most common trope, but strayed enough to stay interesting. There’s not a whole lot I can critique about it, not having the disability myself. I will go so far as to say I thought Chanel was a well-written character.

 

Character interactions were my second favorite part. Dialogue was clunky and awkward in some places. The meaning got through easy enough, however. Character relationships changed and morphed at a nice pace with the plot. We didn’t learn about them all at once. Instead, we put them together piece by piece as the story unfolded.

 

Best of all, I didn’t mind how the relationship progressed. It didn’t feel like it moved too fast or too slow. It felt like a healthy relationship. That goes right back to how the characters interacted with each other.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this novel. I’m always overly-critical of romance, but this one surprised me enough that I really enjoyed it. I was only left with a few questions when everything was said and done, but I liked the way the ending played out. It really suited the narrative.

 

Buy it here!

 

Related: Deity’s Soulmate

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Audio Critique FAQ

What is an audio critique?

It’s a more in-depth version of the written review. I’ll talk more specifically about plot, characters, what I liked, what I didn’t like. It will also contain spoilers, which I will warn of beforehand.

They will differ from my written reviews by being more informal. I’ll crack jokes, make ungoldly comparisons, and generally exaggerate my natural sarcasm.

What books will qualify for an audio critique?

Books with four or five stars.

Why would I want to agree to this?

Agreeing to be considered for an audio critique could potentially increase the speed at which your review gets done. While the audio review will currently be released once a month, I post at least one written review almost every single day. This will also allow you the opportunity to opt-out of having the audio review done, after reading the written review. All you have to do is shoot me a reply e-mail.

They also have the potential to reach a broader audience.

Why am I doing these?

The reasoning behind this is two-fold.

To provide a more detailed analysis of the novel. The freedom to cram more information into a review. A review that’s more on the fun side.

As a Patreon reward.

Who gets to see these?

Everyone. That’s the reason for the four/five star rating requirement. Four and five stars are generally more positive reviews, thusly reducing the chance that an unwanted review is made public.

They will serve as an early access reward for the Patreon tiers. YouTube will have them a few days later, with links to all social media.

 

 

Monoland: Into the Gray Horizon, by E. A. Minin

5_30_17 Monoland

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An interesting take on death and the afterlife, Monoland offers a variety of contemplative subjects. When the reader first meets Owen, as he later calls himself, he’s dying. Once he crosses over, he offers up his thoughts on what death is. That’s a theme that continues on throughout the narrative. Owen’s otherworldly guide, a Reaper, adds her expertise to the mix. That makes life after death a bit more entertaining.
 
I liked the gray scale imagery. It aided the philosophical tone of the book. Characters that occupied Monoland helped the reader feel small in terms of the subject matter. Death is no laughing matter, but those that have already crossed over are coping.
 
There quite a bit of editing needed. Opting for hyphens instead of quotation marks for dialogue made the reading somewhat difficult. I get what style the author was going for, and it was an interesting idea to play with. However, without the right formatting it ended up being a hindrance. There was an awful lot of telling in the writing style.
 
Overall, Monoland wasn’t bad. There’s some more work needed on it. Life after death is always an interesting subject to read about. I enjoy it when novels challenge my current views on things.
Buy it here!

A Saving Stone, by Mark Marks

5_29_17 Saving Stone

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A child’s ability to see the future used for good. A court of lovely, friendly people. A bit of political intrigue. A Saving Stone has the elements of a good story.
 
This one’s a bit of a diamond in the rough. On the one hand, I liked the plot. On the other, the writing style was not suited for the narrative.
 
I adored the characters. Both their personalities and their interactions. Since the narrative focuses on royalty, I expected things to be dry and stuffy between people. They were all so lovely. Don’t get me wrong–there were conflicts. All the characters didn’t get along 24/7. What they did was recognize mistakes, and learned from them. From there the reader sees their character development. While some might find it boring, I enjoyed it beyond belief. There were plenty of other plot elements to keep the story interesting. Not all the characters had to be conspiring anti-heroes. It was nice to see something different.
 
I like how the author lulled the reader into a false sense of security midway through the book. There’s a definitive pace change between the build-up and the climax. After some of the things Arden had to endure, I expected a different ending. Not that I’m complaining about that; books that break stereotypes always get me. Like how the women were treated with respect. Their male counterparts weren’t looking to usurp or belittle them. Things were fun and flirty, but never disrespectful or creepy.
 
There were quite a few things I liked about this book. That being said, however…
 
The writing needs some help. The style fluctuates between adult-sounding and childlike. Sometimes it’s in the wrong spot. Interaction dialogue gets awkward. Narration jumps forward in odd spots, sometimes without warning. It does a whole lot more telling than showing. The entire narrative is almost exclusively written that way. It builds up to some great moments and then sort of falls flat because of the way it’s written.
 
I like the way the plot got executed. The writing for it needs some help. Despite that, characterization continues to keep hold of the reader. There are, of course, ways in which that could expanded as well, but it was a highlight of the novel. I was a big fan of the ending, and I didn’t really have many questions left. I would love to re-read a polished version of this novel.
Buy it here!

The Quantum Ghost, by Jonathan Ballagh

5_28_17 Quantum Ghost

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Writing sequels and series is tough. Often, they start strong, lose steam about halfway through, and then maybe the ending saves it. Seeing something that could be potentially consistent throughout the series is exciting.

 

Quantum Ghost is the second novel in the series, and it’s as good as the first one. It picks up not long after Quantum Door, with a different main character. A young lady by the name of Remi. While her story is new, Nova’s and AJ’s continue from where they left off. It feels a bit like when the Doctor switches companions. They’re still on a quest, they just get a new teammate. There are some things that won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the first one. I would almost recommend going back and reading Quantum Door first. Even if you don’t, it this will be an excellent read.

 

Writing style still suits the genre. It reads like a young adult book. The kids feel like kids. They have a different voice than the adults. It also reads a little different than the first novel. It stops the voice of the narrator from sounding like the previous characters. It was nice. The pace of this novel was faster than the last one. Lots of action, but plenty of time to lay out the exposition. Getting to know the characters was a pleasure. They stood out from one another, they were three-dimensional. Everything they did drove the story forward. Interactions were flawless. Dialogue never felt clunky or awkward.

 

The portrayal of women continues to be a wonderful talent of this author. They have their own identities separate from any romantic subplot. Personalities mesh and they get along; there’s no competition between them. Again, the narrative shows that men and women can be friends without the need for something more. Nova and Remi could do things on their own. Sure, they needed help from time to time, but their characters weren’t compromised by it.

 

Once more the imagery was fabulous. It wasn’t flowery and flowing, nor was it jargon-heavy, like some descriptors in sci-fi. It reflected the natural progression of the story, aiding in tone and voice. The landscape was consistent with the first one. Hopping right back into the story was easy.

 

I’m really enjoying this series. Quantum Ghost particularly. Still young adult, but the narration feels older than Quantum Door. This is a talented author. The young adult genre needs more authors like this.

 

Buy it here!

Adam, by Shari Sakurai

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4 stars

Set in the future where the rich can buy the traits they want for their kids, Adam is one such person. He’s a rebellious kid, and because of that, he’s always in trouble. Right when he thinks he’s got his life back on track, it keeps knocking him down. Maintaining relationships doesn’t seem to be Adam’s strong suit.

 

The opening had me convinced that Adam was going to be another “bad boy loner” type character. I expected quite a few common tropes to make their way into the writing. That didn’t happen. At least, not in the ways I expected. The author set things up to where situations explain quite a bit of Adam’s personality. The difference is that the author didn’t go overboard with it. He was dark and brooding, that’s for sure. Except Adam was never portrayed as an abusive person. Adam was far from flawless. He wasn’t riddled with flaws, either. The author managed to set up a nice balance with his character.

 

Many of the minor characters had plenty of detail with them. Their character development is as obvious as Adam’s, which was nice. There were some spots where dialogue and exposition were a little clunky. Otherwise, things flowed well. A bit of editing needed here and there, but it won’t knock you out of the story. The writing style suited the narrative. Things paced well, and because of that the story unfolded in a smooth, logical way. The narrative itself had a distinct young adult tone to it, and I’m not sure why.

 

It’s a companion novel to larger series. However, the author takes meticulous care to make sure that the novel can stand alone. As a reader that hasn’t experienced the other series, I never felt lost. The world, people, and situations get summed up in quick ways. The author did their best to make sure they sprinkled all of that throughout the narrative.

 

There were a few areas where tropes that plague LGBT fiction became apparent. While utilized, the author does so in a way that’s enjoyable. Things that happen do, in fact, directly affect the plot. They served a purpose–not added in because ‘why not?’ I liked that.

 

Adam was a nice read. Enjoyable characters that managed to bend stereotypes and an interesting narrative. A companion novel that doesn’t require the reader to know the rest of the series first. I would almost go as far to say it feels like a prequel. It will definitely serve to pique the readers’ interest in the rest of the series!

 

Buy it here!

The Shadow Above the Flames, by Daniel Swenson

5_26_17 Shadow Above the Flames

4 stars

Released on June 6th, 2017!

A dragon and a modern setting walked into a bar. Now Henry, ex-military and his brothers’ shadow, has to extract Rick from said bar. And by bar, I mean Ireland. That’s almost the same thing, right?

 

In some ways, Shadow Above the Flames felt like a retelling of the Hobbit. Except there was a small military group instead of dwarves. A data core instead of the Arkenstone. No kingly madness, but the brothers overcame differences that had them distanced.

 

I liked the fact that the author got creative with the modern setting. Mutated squirrels, lizards, and other animals caused problems for the intrepid heroes. Besides the dragon, that is. It managed to separate the novel from common fantasy stereotypes. They were still there, just presented in a way that they didn’t feel overused. The setting also served to offer some great solutions to the conflicts. Plot devices were well thought out. They allowed for unique situations. I liked how the story itself progressed. Things occurred in a logical manner, and at the right time. Not too fast or too slow. There was quite a bit of action, which served to make the story feel fast-paced. Everything served a distinct purpose to further the plot.

 

Dialogue and narration were a little awkward and clunky in some areas. That, in turn, made character interactions a bit forced and unnatural sometimes. Narration and dialogue also had the same tone on occasion. While it was universal, changing the tone could have enhanced reader experience. Description favored telling rather than showing. It doesn’t have the whimsical voice that a lot of fantasy novels have. Which, given the setting, worked out in its favor for the most part. The reader still gets a very good vision of what’s going on.

 

Henry and Rick, as characters, felt fleshed out. They’re noticeably different at the end than at the beginning. It felt like a little less attention got paid to the minor characters. That didn’t do a whole lot to detract from the story itself, though. As a whole, they were all good.

 

I did have one or two questions left at the end. There was a pretty awesome epilogue, so if we’re lucky, there might be future installments? It sets things up to get a whole lot more dangerous. I’d love to see where it manages to go, and what kind of world the author is creating.

No Review Today

So, while I’ve been trying to keep to the “post a review a day” mantra, today I’m going to forgo it.

Why?

I’m building myself up to take the necessary leaps forward. I’m terrified of failure. I’m equally as terrified of never having the opportunity to fail. Now, I’m gathering the resources needed to start expanding. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I want to do what I can to get things right.

Today I’m drafting my first newsletter. Working on the details associated with distributing it. Also trying to plan ahead content. I want to make this process as streamlined as possible.

That being said, would anyone like to volunteer to be my first author interview? Comment with your e-mail address below and we’ll talk about it!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to begin this kind of journey. I can only hope I don’t disappoint along the way.

The Long Road to Missouri, by Bowdoin

5_24_17 A Long Road.jpg

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Indeed, it’s a Long Road to Missouri. Especially when you’re involved with another murder. Even after you’ve retired.

 

A fast-paced mystery that takes an assassin out of retirement. Not in a typical fashion, either. Embroiled in a mysterious race against time, Missouri Rhodes’ life gets more complicated.

 

I liked how this played out. There was such a short amount of time to get to know the characters. Because of that, there’s an onslaught of information. The narrative paces things well enough that it’s not overwhelming. I liked how the characters progressed through the story. Time jumped around a bit, but in a way that was clear. There was a mystery, and it was an unpredictable one. Things built up so fast that there wasn’t much time to try and guess the outcome. Character motivations and predispositions remain hidden enough that characters themselves remain a mystery.

 

The story was a rather unique one. There was plenty of action, and the writing was excellent. The writing style was concise, but still with plenty of description. Things were pretty clear in the readers’ eye. There was quite the cliffhanger left at the end. Is this the hint of a sequel? Or a full-length book? I want to know more–either would be fabulous.

 

 

Buy it here!

 

Question for Authors

Books Reviews Anonymous

There’s a local convention coming up at the end of July. They do a sci-if/fantasy book exchange. I was thinking that if authors were interested in donating a physical copy of their novel, I would enter it in said book exchange. Signed copy, possibly?

There’s a limit of three, however. The decision would be made by random drawing of those that signed up?

Of course I’d leave a note with both mine and the authors information asking the reader to provide their thoughts via review and/or social media.

Anyone interested in contributing?

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