Dawn, by Weston Westmoreland 



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When I read a book for review, I don’t always read the summary. I do that to see how well the author conveys their idea of the story throughout the narrative. Sometimes that fails, and by the time I reach the end of the book, I look to the blurb on the back cover for clarity. 

Contained within the blurb for Dawn were important details pertaining to the world-building. That’s not to say there’s no world-building inside, however. The reader gets thrown into the world of Arweg with not enough detail for a full, clear picture of the conflict, some of which doesn’t come until later in the story. Almost like it was the 2nd or 3rd novel in a series, and the reader had already been introduced. 

So, Mara and Brod discover a capsule while digging that triggers an invasion. That invasion triggers a rebellion of their caste society. In the most Conan or Rambo sort of way.

The writing style worked well for the tone of the novel. Character interactions were done well. Dialogue was awkward in some places.  

The plot did manage to make a couple surprising moves. Some were hinted at with foreshadowing, some happened out of nowhere. Some made sense and fit with the plot. 

Characters, while treated well, felt flat. Readers were told their emotional state rather than shown. This led to a disconnect between reader and character. It felt like just the basics of their personalities shone through. When critical moments came around that were designed to hurt the hearts of readers, it didn’t happen that way. I just wasn’t invested enough to have them make that much of an impact. 

As far as sci-fi went, this stuck right to the formula. The plot wasn’t very original, but it was an interesting execution on the government/revolutionary society. Maybe with a little tweaking in the way the story unfolds, there would be overall improvement. A sound story lurks within, along with a pretty good writing style. 

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That Book I Wrote About Me, by Sarah Buchanan

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In a lot of ways, this novel read just like a memoir. When I think of memoirs, even fictional ones, there’s really only one tone that comes to mind. It’s a fanciful one. One that makes me think of southern belles and longing. Everything’s always so formal.

 

Imagine my surprise, then, when I dove into this novel and was greeted with a lighthearted, informal tone. It was like a close friend sat next to me and was telling me the story their way. I really liked it.

 

Fiona is a successful author that’s hit a major roadblock in her life. While she’s trying to get back on track, family and friends manage to throw a wrench into her life that could potentially make or break her.

 

Fiona’s life was far from normal. The novel does a nice job of showing the struggles and pitfalls of being an author. Characters were placed and made well. They served a purpose along Fiona’s journey and aided in her development. I loved the support they all provided each other. They had their problems, sure, but who doesn’t? At the end of the day, however, they were all adults about their unique situations.

 

I really liked this writing style. I would love to see it applied to other genres as well. This is certainly an entertaining read.

 

 

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Getting Gay, by Bryce Hunter



Things aren’t always as they seem, and this novel really takes that to heart. From beginning to end it was full of surprises, taking directions I didn’t see coming. 
Hearing tales of the Mormon church in Utah, I had to check this out. The stunning accuracy of Mormon family life made this feel like a memoir. Noah’s growing up, and his strict upbringing is clashing with his growth and development as a child. This novel really leans into the “prejudices are taught” line of thinking and I liked how it was demonstrated. 
There was plenty of conflict to go around, both internal and external. Noah’s pressures to fit in at school, church, and home lead him down an almost self-destructive path. Regardless of anything else however, I was happy to see that he was shown with an okay support group. Something many people lack because of said prejudices, but this demonstrates that those can be set aside to help someone out. 
I was a little confused as to why, in one household, a certain lifestyle was perfectly normal and acceptable, when this character continually bashed on another lifestyle. That’s the only part in the novel that didn’t really make sense, though I’m glad the differing lifestyles were included. 
As I said before, this novel is full of surprises and the ending was the biggest. I was a big fan. Noah’s character development from kid to adult was stellar, and I enjoyed the finale conflict resolutions. There was almost a spiritual feel to it. 
Overall an excellent, and different, read. Wonderful characters and development, beautiful storytelling, and it’s able to surprise the reader. Well done. 
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Tainted Blood, by Nina Hobson

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Horror stories are often bizarre creatures. Given their subject matter, they’d have to be, right? Tainted Blood started bizarre, slowly started making sense, and then got bizarre again.

 

Angie and her best friend Ron get into an off-limits room while her parents are away. What they stir up puts them right in the middle of a creature’s plan for the greatest sacrifices. Outsmarting it becomes their only option.

 

What’s interesting to note is the younger age of the kids. Most horror novels revolve around adults, with children usually as the terror. This one flips a classic formula upside down. I liked that.

 

Things were a little hard to follow in the beginning. Once it got going, things smoothed out. I was a fan of the ending. Very clever, very well done. That being said, things up until that point weren’t very scary. Creepy, yes. A heart-pounding thriller…not so much. There’s some editing needed. A bit more focus needed to be put on the language and sentence structure to heighten the readers’ anticipation.

 

It’s not the best horror novella, but it’s also not the worst. There were creative elements in there that I was a big fan of. With a little extra work, I think this could really be a good series.

 

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A Perfect World, by Shari Sakurai

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4 stars

 

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I was introduced to this series by reading Adam first. It was only a companion piece, but it was an excellent introduction to the world, the conflict, and the characters. However, I will warn readers that reading Adam first will spoil this novel.

 

 

Eric’s got it all. Literally. As the genetically engineered poster boy for the L. S. A, he faces off against the notorious terrorist Adam Larimore. Things aren’t always as they seem, and Eric’s unwavering loyalty will really be put to the test.

 

 

I liked the layer and depth to the two factions. Adam and the L. S. A. were constantly trying to outdo and stay ahead of each other. Things that seemed insignificant at the time became the catalyst for something much bigger. However, the reader doesn’t realize it until much later. Character motivations were always in question. The lines between morality were heavily drawn. It was a nice dynamic that kept the reader from getting too comfortable.

 

 

As far as romances went, this one showed rather than told character emotions towards one another. It was subtle the whole way, something I really enjoyed. Things felt more natural. It progressed at a reasonable rate, though still a little on the fast side. There were a lot of nuances that went into character interactions. It made them more tense, more dramatized so the reader stayed interested. There were dynamics all over the place. It was great.

 

 

When talking about sci-fi, this certainly took a very dystopian view. The world was in shambles, and a corrupt government is maintaining those shambles. The two genres overlap nicely, in a very young adult way.

 

 

Dialogue was awkward at some points. Receiving character emotions was difficult. An impassioned scene would arise in which a character was supposed to make the reader sympathize and reciprocate said feelings. Some of those scenes fell flat.

 

 

The cliffhanger at the end was really good. It ended on such a note that I want to find out what happens next. There’s a few routes this series could take, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

 

 

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