J159, by Renee Logan

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*one of these days I’ll remember that Patreon isn’t cooperating on mobile and I’ll upload from home instead*

The pure juror system is designed to keep any kind of bias or if the ‘trial by peers’ mentality. If selected, you’re moved to a facility and isolated for years, on the premise that you’ll be released when your allotted time is up. Corruption runs deep, however. And jurors don’t always get what they want.

J159 was written entirely from Eddie’s point of view. With that, the author challenges themselves to get the entire story across using, essentially, one person and one setting. Kind of like the first Saw movie. There’s significantly less action and suspense, but it still tells a good story. And that’s what this novel focuses more on: the story. It moves a bit slow in the beginning, but after the halfway mark, things pick up a bit with tension and suspense.

The entire thing is at least well-written, and populated with just enough foreshadowing to hold your attention through the slow times. I enjoyed the way the entire thing was orchestrated. The reader really got to know Eddie as a character. The reader gets a really interesting and—might I add—isolated, unbiased view of the overall setting and state of the world. Showing, not telling was expertly used throughout the novel, and so the reader is able to use their own imagination to piece together the outside, instead of handing it to them on a platter.

A novel set this way is going to have inevitable lulls and boring exposition. It happens. There are very clear attempts by the author to make these as painless as possible. I really liked the ending. It felt very fitting to the rest of the narrative, and contains allusions to current events. Definitely worth a read.

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PsychKick, by Mark Marks

*Patreon is still not cooperating with mobile, and I completely forgot to upload from my laptop. That will be up later tonight after I get home*

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What would you do if there was a controversial operation that could save you kids life, but the consequences are unknown? You’d take it, right?

Well, that’s what Dr. Hill does for his friends, the Fullers, after an accident leaves little Ben with little to no chance of survival. Then the side-effects start, and the doctor disappears…now what?

PsychKick is definitely paced differently from the author’s other novels. There’s a bit more effort dedicated to characters and making them meaningful to the reader. There’s quite a bit of buildup to the main story, no matter how repetitious it was. There’s was a dramatic increase in the amount of detail that went into showing the story. After that, things smoothed out and kind of took off.

However, this novel does hit some of the pitfalls the other novels succumb to. Things feel rushed. Everything is still direct and to the point.

There’s a lot of perspective switching, but no clear indication or breaks with the current format. The reader will be engross in the Fullers’ lives, and suddenly they’re with the good doctor and his assistant. It’s jarring and breaks the immersion.

Once again. There’s a lot of good ideas. But this one so far is the best to convey these ideas in a way that connects with the reader. There’s more depth to t. Still very rough around the edges, but there is noticeable progression from the author. The ending was a little weird and unclear, and I want to get behind it because I like the connotations that could possibly be behind it, but it felt out of place. Perhaps give a little extra information as to what happened, and possibly a better hint as to the meaning.

There’s definite change and improvement in the author’s writing style. There’s still improvements to be made, but this feels like the polished of the four I’ve read from this author.

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The Artifactor, by Mark Marks 



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*currently, Patreon isn’t letting me upload photos from mobile. The review for this will be posted there later on*

One thing that’s huge to me in novels is diversity. That goes for characters, settings, conflicts—literally everything. A modern-day treasure hunting story is set in Israel during a time of conflict was a good setup. So far, for all the novels I’ve read from this author, their settings vary quite a bit, as do their conflicts and people. 

After becoming celebrities when a treasure quest goes wrong, Solomon and David go on a series of adventures to bring glorious things back to Israel. 

While there’s plenty of conflict and action to go around, I really felt like things were too easy for the main characters. They never really failed at anything. They were embroiled deep in the conflict, but they felt only mildly inconvenienced by it. The ease at which things happened made things boring at times. 

Again, the author has a fast-paced narrative. This didn’t leave much time to get to know the characters as people. Even more so, the time jumps didn’t allow much for developing relationships, and so they felt cobbled together and just sort of thrown in there. There’s little impact on the story. 

Story continuity was pretty good, and the author has a unique talent for uplifting, powerful messages aimed at a younger audience. Things still felt very rough around the edges. There’s some technical editing needed as well. This is a consistent author. 

Needs some work overall, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve read. I think with some solid revisions this could pop. 

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In Mortality, by Mark Marks



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On a mission in the jungle, Thomas Rex and two compatriots, stumble upon a discovery that could change the entire world. They risk life and limb—sometimes literally—to bring it back and study it. 

This was a fast-paced adventure geared towards a younger audience. However, I feel like the style and word choice didn’t really coincide with the target audience. There’s a significant lack of description and almost all telling without showing. That was consistent in a style that’s for younger audiences. I feel like word choice was a bit more sophisticated than it should have been. 

Being so fast-paced and shallow, there wasn’t a whole lot to the characters. It was difficult to sympathize and care about their struggles because the narrative focused on getting everything out. I was really disappointed with his two of the scientist were left as strictly comic relief in the most embarrassing manner. I felt like they contributed very little to the store except as convenient and silly plot devices. That aided, I think, in the disconnect between reader and characters. 

That being said, the premise of the story itself was good. The author had a lot of good ideas; execution was lacking. I liked how things were meant for the betterment of humanity. There’s a very positive tone to the storytelling, which gives a faux sense of hope that maybe one day things won’t be so bad. 

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Loading: Life, by E. N. Chaffin

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The premise of a preternatural, video game-esque narrative is one that isn’t always done too well. However, in Loading Life, real world and video games mesh together excellently. 

Hero, the downtrodden, troublemaking main character without a special ability, is paired with Annie Mei, top student, for a project that will allow him to pass a class in school. From there his life gets weirder and more malicious, while he himself grows as a person. 

Now, usually when the main character is a delinquent, or made out to be something of an uncontrollable statistic, they’re inherently abusive in one way or another. In Loading Life, the author takes a different approach. Sure, Hero is a butthead, but he doesn’t abuse his friends or Annie, especially. Not using her as a sounding board was a huge deal for me. Therefore, when Hero’s character development came, he learned he didn’t need to be scared and run away. He learned he could ask for help. He wasn’t given up on and tossed aside like so many wanted to do. He was still a butthead, but it turned into friendly banter. Character development was huge in this novel for almost every character, even the minor ones, like the guys in the gang. The reader also go to know the characters well without a clogging info dump. 

The writing style was well-suited as well. It was light and serious where it needed to be. Gritty in places without being over the top. As for the world building: HUDs, mana bars, health bars, and things of the Life were as well-integrated as magic would be in a fantasy setting. 

All-in-all, a rounded novel. It’s easy to get sucked in. While the storyline isn’t necessarily original, the storytelling is refreshing and everything wraps up nice and neat at the end. 

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Invinciman, by R. T. Leone



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Welcome to the exciting world of Robox, where robots beating the snot out of each other in cage matches are used to settle disputes on a scale you won’t be ready for. 

Ray Martin gets involved with Daniel Darque’s brainchild–a sentient robot named Darquer–and man does his life go wrong. Between a revolution, a botched assassination, and a genius’ downward spiral, poor Ray doesn’t have much time to breathe. 

I really enjoyed how well-organized the narrative was. It bounced a lot back and forth between past or present quite a bit, but only a handful of times did it feel awkward. They back and forth usually mirrored each others’ causes and effects. Backstory was given without an information dump using that method. Ample time was provided to get to know the characters and get a feel for their depth. 

I liked how friendship and loyalty were tested. Just how far can one be pushed in order to show continued support for their best friend? Ray found that out whether he wanted to or not. There’s many levels of dynamic storytelling involved with the narrative: corporate takeovers, political satire, and brilliantly engineered plots all weaved together. 

A tightly woven narrative with characters pretty well-developed and an ending sure to make even the most stoic of readers feel something. 

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Fractured, by Elizabeth Antonucci


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Talking about life-altering injuries is never easy. It seems, more often than not, that said injuries negatively impact a persons personality, mental health, and overall quality of life. It’s a pretty safe assumption of how things go down, at least.

The authors’ tale in Fractured certainly has a more upbeat tone than others. She faced her own obstacles, both inside and out, but she also seemed to have a support system in place that helped her through; something a lot of folks don’t have.

It also offers excellent glimpses into how to be a good pillar of support for someone going through a traumatic experience; something I definitely wished was more talked about.

It did jump around quite a bit, and it was a very mellow story, but an interesting one nonetheless.

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I Made a Mother Out of May, by Hala Alzaghal



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A memoir in a poetic state. Personifications and epic imagery try and bring themes like grief and depression to life. A baring of the soul, if you will. 

The writing style takes some getting used to. Getting a feel for the actions and pacing of the story is a little rough, especially if you’re not aware of what it’s about. It feels like an expressive poetry journal. Though there are only two poems within, the writing style makes it seem as though the whole novel is. 

It’s definitely a different sort of read. A very personal read. 
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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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