Single in Southeast Texas, by Gretchen Johnson

Just when you thought the dating scene could get any worse, along comes a little town called Beaumont: the cringe-worthy dating tales inside are bound to make someone feel a little better about their love life.

Paige was a delightful protagonist—one that had a firm grasp of not only herself, but what was important to her. And she wasn’t afraid to let her gentlemen callers know it, either. Each chapter was a standalone tale of one man dated (with the occasional interlude) and the outcome. They are both hilarious and realistic. The writing style is well-suited to the almost tongue-in-cheek narration of Paige’s love life. There’s a variety of situations to choose from; many of which I think would look familiar to many people, both men and women alike. A knack for excellent back-and-forth dialogue as character exploration let these encounters feel much less tedious than long, winding paragraphs and exposition. A whole story is told, with lots of character development, through each chapter, as disconnected as they might have felt.

My heart goes out to anyone that’s gone on a date like those mentioned in the novel. I cringed. I laughed. I sighed. I swore. It remained lighthearted, something that suited the tone well. This was a good read. A very good read.

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The Moaning of Loaf, by Ade Bozzay



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I adore weird, off-the-wall novels with dirty, dark, and cynical humor. They tend to stray in directions far from the comfort zone of mainstream narratives. Because of that, I feel that oftentimes they’re more creative and interesting. However, I will say that, unfortunately it takes a certain kind of reader to appreciate and understand it. Therefore, a niche audience is required. 
The Moaning of Loaf was just one such novel. To start with, Nobby is an unattractive, unlucky–or incredibly lucky, depending on how you want to look at it–lonely man. His life is essentially a joke, but he makes do. After a knock to the noggin, he woke up in an alien spacecraft. Think his luck gets any better? That’s open to interpretation. Nobby seemed to be the luckiest unlucky man just…ever. 
There were many reasons to like this novel. Nobby was an unconventional character in many ways. Throughout all his misfortune, he managed to maintain such an odd outlook on life. It fluctuated between pessimism and blatant disregard. As a character, Nobby just kind of is. He was nothing extraordinary or special–and he knew it. Yet he still managed to carry on. 
Tonality was a huge deal for narration. It set a light and humorous, yet decidedly dark and cynical way of reading. It balanced the actions of the story well. 
A wide array of characters were available, and they all had positive messages to teach; be it the reader or Nobby. My favorite one was that it was easy to admit when you were wrong and apologize for any misgivings your ignorant actions may have caused. Especially where cultural differences were concerned. There was a whole lot of respect floating around. It showed that people of all types can, in fact, set their differences aside and get along. However, it also demonstrated that prejudices do get in the way and aren’t the easiest thing to overcome. 
The plot was good. Thing did feel a bit rushed at the end, though. It made the climax sort of flat and unimpressive. I really want to give this novel a higher rating. I do. I can’t, though, because it was incredibly unpolished. Quite a bit of technical editing was needed to put this novel where it needed to be. 
I enjoyed this novel a lot. I won’t say it’s for all audiences, but those it is meant for will love it. I would love to see a fully edited and polished version. It had quite a bit of potential as either a standalone or a series. 
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The Horror Writer, by Jerry Jay Carroll

8_1_17 Horror Writer

 

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Full of nothing but satire and accurate demonstrations of what I believe goes through every horror writer’s head, The Horror Writer is equal parts hilarious and creepy.

 

 

After crash landing in the jungle, author Thom Hearn and his companion, Carrie Alexander, finally made it to their paradise retreat. Only, they came to find out that Thom wasn’t supposed to be there. It was a mistake. Except, those at Echchols don’t make mistakes. Ever. What was really going on was far more sinister and surprising.

 

 

The life of an author isn’t always glamorous. I think oftentimes it ends up romanticized into something it’s not. I really liked the way the author conveyed the darker, less attractive side of the writing world. At the same time, it also showed that inspiration could happen anywhere, at any time, for any reason. There were definitely some bright notes for aspiring, and current, authors.
Points of the plot were confusing at times. Thom tended to have some long-winded monologues—which, usually was okay because it worked with his personality—but occasionally it sidetracked me as a reader. I lost track of what was happening more than once. There were time jumps in funny places. Perspective switches weren’t always the smoothest.

 

 

The writing style was great for the narrative. There were weird allusions and metaphors. Odd, satirical descriptions. To be honest, the tone felt as though the author had personal dealings with some of the themes, and was looking for a good, comedic outlet. The characters really helped that along. They were snarky, sarcastic, and up to the challenge of the circumstances. However, it doesn’t feel like an overused character stereotype. Nor is it annoying. I have to say I didn’t feel like there were many commonly used tropes. It was very different—and sometimes bizarre—but in all the right ways. Creativity really shows in the way the novel was constructed.

 

 

As for the plot, it was done well. Keeping with the rest of the novel, the plot twist was fairly out there. It made sense, though, and it didn’t take it to an unbelievable extreme.

 

 

I love when novels aren’t afraid to go the extra mile to be weird. I think it makes them fun and entertaining, as well as differentiating them from everything else. The Horror Writer managed to do just that. I would recommend it for authors that need a good laugh at their own industry. A good read for anyone, however.

 

 

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The Book of Moon, by George Crowder

4_3_17 Book of Moon

Alright, so, The Book of Moon sounds very much like another book I’m sure many people have heard of: The Book of Job. Guess what? That’s not a coincidence.

The Book of Moon begins with the main character (named Moon Landing—I’m not sure if I want to applaud his parents for their sense of humor or…) summarizing the trials of Job for the audience. Right here is where we hear Moon’s voice, and determine what kind of novel this will be. Now, don’t get the wrong impression—this isn’t a novel about religion. It’s a novel about finding the self in the midst of crisis.

Told in first-person through Moon, The Book of Moon narrates how he and his brother, Moss, deal with their parents’ divorce and subsequent backlash. Both Moss and Moon are trying to take of each other and still try to find their place in the world. Of course, while most of the things the brothers are going through seem trivial to most adults, I think that the author represented the struggle of children well. There was nothing super-fantastical about it—no dragons to fight, no Chosen One—but Moon still managed to go on quite the adventure.

Another strength in this novel was that even though the parents were getting divorced, and the obvious conflict arising from that, never once was the father portrayed as the bad guy. He wasn’t abusive, neglectful, or dangerous. This was quite possibly my favorite part.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a huge dislike for first-person storytelling.  Most of the time the main character comes off as a conceited know-it-all with poor word choice and no individuality. The Book of Moon is one more novel that gives me hope for first-person. Moon told his story in a captivating way that only a young man can: with such satirical humor it’s easy to picture the tone and setting of everything going on. Readers of all ages will be able to identify with Moon and just say “same.” Not a word wasted, or a plot string left hanging, The Book of Moon is a very well-rounded book.

The whole time I’ve been writing, I’ve been trying to think of just one thing I had a problem with, or something that just didn’t sit quite right with me. I’m struggling, honestly. The author did a fantastic job creating three-dimensional characters and settings that really stick with you. I loved it.

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