Changes

Over the course of the next few days, there’s going to be a few changes. 
Instead of posting a review a day, I’m going to scale down to one every other day. Work, unfortunately, has started eating more of my time. Author interviews, audio critiques, and things like that are currently on hold (except for the one already promised) until I can find the extra time to devote to them like I want. 

That being said, I’ve redone the Patreon a little bit. Basically what it is now is my stepping stone towards my other goals. I want to keep my reviews free for all authors, and Patreon is the way I intend to do that. My reviews will also be cross-posted there. If you like what I do, consider supporting me through Patreon, or promoting it to your friends! 
Reviews will resume on Monday!

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Silent Screams: An Autobiography, by Susan Aguilar

Writing about ones tragic experiences can be rough. There’s a certain level of emotionality to be presented that sometimes gets difficult. Silent Screams is one such auto-biography.

 
The beauty of putting it out there is not only therapeutic at times, but it’s also a beacon of hope. “You’re not alone,” it says. “You’re not alone,” is also a sad statement. Things that shouldn’t happen to people are happening to more than statistically reported. Silent Screams, much like the title alludes, feels like exactly that. The tone is that of the author putting words to paper hurriedly, like they’re trying to get the images out of their head. Or trying to tell the story before they’re discovered. It helps to enhance the reader’s emotional experience. Things are kept fairly short–background information given where needed, characters come and go as needed. Even the writing style remains shortened.

 
Some editing and polishing would be beneficial to the message of the narrative. And there’s a powerful one.

 
Buy it here!

Discussion Topic: Patreon

Books Reviews Anonymous

So, I’ve been thinking about creating a Patreon so I can devote more time to shaping this blog and website the way I want. Working 50+ hours a week doesn’t leave a whole lot of free time, and there’s so much I want to offer without having to charge authors.

A few ideas I have are: offering audio critques that go a bit more in depth than my actual review. I’ve been toying with the idea of a vlog series where there’s a round table discussion/reactions to an audio reading of a novel. Book exchanges, giveaways, a newsletter, and other discussion prompts are also all on the table. Eventually, I’d like to offer editing services. However, I don’t have nearly the amount of time to do that currently.

What rewards would I offer? Access to the vlogs/critiques (with author permission)? Drawings into book giveaways? Interviews? Social media promotions? I’m thinking…

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Pnaramakhia, by Flavio Verna Santonocito

5_22_17 Pnaramakhia

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Fusion of steampunk and fantasy is neat. Not only does it cater to unique landscapes, but new story devices, as well. Use of magic takes on so many new possibilities. Pnaramakhia utilizes all the above.

 

The author went down to the nitty-gritty and created a whole new landscape from the ground up. Because of that, there’s a lot of information the reader needs. Instead of spelling it all out at once, it’s peppered all throughout the novel. It’ll take a second to adjust to the linguistics of a new culture. It’s like getting dropped into a country you only know some of the language for. The beginning felt a little clunky because of that. After that, it was pretty smooth sailing. There’s still a lot to learn, but it gets much easier.

 

Two siblings are on a mission to kill an ancient beast. There are some…complications along the way. They’re separated, and that’s when the novel branches into the many different storylines.

 

Now, the best part: the entire novel. The story blew me away in ways I can’t even describe. From what I’ve heard about Game of Thrones, this is so much better. There’s so many overlapping story-arcs that all blend seamlessly with one another. Political subterfuge, mystery, the undead…each served to bulk up the main narrative. It’s long, but the way everything is set up, it’s perfect. The author manages to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes for the majority of the novel. The answers to things are never so simple. The sequence of succeeding events wound up crafted in such an exquisite way.

 

The characters were great. Every interaction is a performance to marvel at. The writing style complimented it in all the right ways. It didn’t have the long, drawn-out, fantastical tone of traditional fantasy novels. Still, there was plenty of wonderment to go around, as description doesn’t lack. The environment came to life right along with the characters. A great amount of detail and thought went into constructing this new society, and it shows. The same goes for the characters. Dialogue flows right. It changes tone between characters. Perspective changes are smooth and easy. The list of things I could compare this to for references keeps growing.

 

This was one of the most satisfying novels I’ve read in a while. It was my first foray into steampunk fantasy and it set the bar awful high.

 

This is a must-read.

 

Buy it here!

 

The Wolfe Experiment, by R. W. Adams

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If you’re looking for an adventure that doesn’t stop, then the Wolfe Experiment is for you.

 

Siblings Tilly and Ethan know they’re different. They’ve got powers no one else has. They made a pact not to tell anyone. Except people know. And that doesn’t bode well for the two youngsters. Given their ages, things do go a bit better than expected. But not by much.

 

The opening is well done. It immediately engages the reader and plants pleasant images in their head. Then it’s all downhill from there. The kids can’t catch a break. Their struggle is an emotional one, but also a mysterious one. Nothing is as it seems as they try to survive and cure themselves. Readers find their hearts breaking the longer things go on.

 

Characterization was fantastic. The kids felt like kids. They acted like kids and reacted like kids should. Both felt very different, and they had their own branching storylines. Minor characters were alive and well, all important to advancing the plot. And oh, boy. The plot was a tightly knit one. It made sense. It progressed well and in a logical manner. My only complaint was that Ethan’s situations got a little repetitive. So, for a while there, things got a little predictable. The situations themselves weren’t, but the actions and resolutions were. In spite of that, I see how they served to further the plot and pull the curtains back on the mystery.

 

The writing style fit the narrative. It was fast-paced, almost constant action. During the brief interludes, exposition and background information wound up presented. The story eased us into getting to know the characters. There was a lot of information to take in, but it never felt overwhelming. Things came full circle by the end. And boy did it end with the biggest, most perfect cliffhanger. It leaves the readers feeling hungry for more. It’s so frustrating, but in a good way. There’s questions that need answers, but it doesn’t leave the story incomplete. In fact, it sets thing up in a beautiful way for a sequel.

 

This was an awesome story from beginning to end. Well-crafted, thought out, and executed. The characters drove the story forward at all times. Not once did things feel convoluted or out of place. It was emotional. While predictable in some areas, it still managed to surprise and entertain. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. There’s got to be a sequel…right?

 

Buy it here!

A Light Within, by Ann Heinz

5_10_17 A Light Within

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Not only do I get the privilege of being the first to review this book on Amazon, but I get to give it five stars!

 

A period piece about breaking traditional gender roles is how I describe A Light Within. A young woman named Cora laments about her inability to attend medical school. Because she’s a woman. Alright, pretty standard for the time. The events that follow are anything but standard.
Set during a time of abolitionists and women becoming self-aware, A Light Within takes on a heavy task. There was much going on in the pre-Civil War era that was important, and the author managed to encompass quite a bit.
Something that stood out besides the excellent writing, was the attention to detail. A heavy bit of research seems to have gone into everything from locations, to speech and dress. The novel never feels like it “breaks character” and has modernism creep in. Though it does mimic certain current events, or are we repeating history because we can’t seem to learn from it?
While traditional in some ways, we see more and more of the opposite as the story unfolds. And the story’s woven tighter than Gordian’s Knot. Later on, it morphs to takes on a more To Kill A Mockingbird feel. The issues of morality, good and evil, and racism are now at the forefront.
Now, anyone who reads my reviews knows my thoughts on how romance gets portrayed. It usually follows the same formula over and over again. The woman’s thought process of “I and independent and don’t want a family” changes when she meets a man. What’s different about Cora is the fact that she does want that. Eventually. She has things to do first, and she remains true to that. The love story that blossoms with her is well done. It’s subtle, and progressive, and it doesn’t try to take away from the story. In other words: it remains a tertiary theme.
Characterization represented and interesting dichotomy, especially within Cora’s family. Remember how I said traditional gender roles get broken? Look at the character development. There are significant points that the reader can see it happen. The author isn’t subtle about it at all. Nor are they apologetic.
There was a lot I liked about this novel. Writing language from a different time is a difficult task, but the author was up for the challenge. A Light Within is very immersive and so well-written. A great deal of thought and effort went into this novel and the result is stunning. A must-read.
Buy it here!

Names of Power (The Angel), by Travis Galvan

5_7_17 Names of Power

4 stars

Names of Power reads very much like a young adult book. It feels jovial, goofy, lighthearted–much like Maximum Ride, by James Patterson. Except narrated in third person, rather than first.

 

We follow siblings Bo and Ren on a very supernatural journey. With some help, they uncover a series of mysteries that will change their lives forever.

 

The authors’ hook is pretty intense without context. It sets a very promising narrative.

 

The very first thing that jumped out at me for this novel was the family dynamic. Ren and Bo come from a very loving home. With a single father, no less. Both of which are so nice to see in YA. Their father is so supportive and loving–sometimes a little too much. Brother and sister have arguments within normal parameters. They all love each other. The author sets up that this novel won’t follow all stereotypes.

 

For the most part, it doesn’t. Ren is a girl that’s not always thinking about boys. She’s smart, capable, and doesn’t need rescuing. She’s not “the chosen one destined to save the world” (yet). Her character development isn’t focused on love and finding “the one.” She gets a storyline that’s about her, and not a plot device that allows someone else to take the spotlight. I thought her character development went in a clear, logical direction.

 

It’s fast paced, so all the action feels nonstop. These kids never rest. Sometimes things felt too easy–like their father being too accepting, but it works. Everything flows from one scene to the next, without any weird breaks or jumps. The tone and style are very lighthearted. Very positive. Even when conflict happens, it doesn’t feel like it gets anyone down.

 

The story is well put together. Everything gets tied up, and makes sense from beginning to end. Even the mystery is well done. It takes unexpected twists and turns and unravels at the right pace. Characters feel like contributors to the resolution. All the information presented to the reader feels necessary, and never feels overwhelming. I can say without shame that it kept me guessing.

 

There’s a little editing needed, but nothing deal-breaking.

 

Given the title and the ending, Names of Power (The Angel), sets itself up as only a fraction of the actual story. It introduces a complete mystery, with a larger one lurking behind. This sets the stage for a story arc of epic proportions.

 

Buy it here!

Murder Red Ink, by Mord McGhee

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Mord McGhee has done it again!

In this stunning and positively horrific prequel to his masterpiece “Ghosts of San Fransisco,” Mord has taken the readers to where it all began.

And Jack the Ripper has never been more terrifying.

Ghosts come to life in an era of technology close enough to smell. Joseph is haunted by dreams so real, it’s almost as if he’s there. Allena is on the run for her life, caught up in something much bigger than she realizes. It’s so much bigger than any of us realize. By the time things come to a head, it’s almost too late.

The characters were excellent. Each one had their own voice, their own individuality. Never once did I feel as though they were cardboard cutouts simply going through the motions of their narrative. A heavy change in tone takes place when the settings switch and it will send shivers down your spine. The reactions his word choice evokes is so strong you begin to wonder if you yourself aren’t there, watching, almost…participating.

There were a few errors throughout the book, but not enough to detract from the overall experience. The ending was a fast-paced thriller that sets things up perfectly for the follow-up.

A stunning penchant for murder, lust, and the most brilliant conspiracy theories, Murder Red Ink is like the grisly crime scene you can’t stop staring at.

Buy it here!