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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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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Dawn of the Dreamer, by L. J. Higgins 


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It’s rare to see the first novel in a series wrap everything up nice and neat without giving a teaser as to what’s going to happen next. Sure, the reader has a good idea of who’s going to be involved, but literally left guessing as to the capacity. 
Amelia is Dreamer, and I don’t mean her head’s in the clouds. She’s one of few that maintains uncontrolled dreams, as compared to the rest of the population. With the creation of Wristcuffs, people are supposed to enjoy a better life. It allows the wearers dreams to be controlled, feeding them subliminal messages like in that episode of Futurama. Because that doesn’t work on Amelia, she’s an outcast. There’s something wrong with her. And, as with any technology, I’m sure you can already see the downside and how it’s used in the conflict. 
Pretty standard when it comes to futurism. Predictable route of one corporation with a monopoly on controlling the populace. While straightforward with its formula, I did like the Dreamer/Non-Dreamer dynamic. It added a nice extra layer of depth to the conflict. 
There were a lot of characters I really liked. Most of them, in a few different ways, served the plot well. What made me kind of sad, however, is that this novel ran into a problem that many seem to with a woman as the main character. While she’s interesting and well-written, it feels like her purpose is only to further the plot of other characters. She’s always being saved. She’s dependent on other people. Now, I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing in moderation. Amelia, as the main character, felt like a bystander in her own story. Just a catalyst. There’s good development there, and great potential, it just didn’t feel maximized for this novel. 
There were a few other inconsistencies littered throughout. Some of them felt like good, natural progression, but the time jump left information out. Especially towards the middle/end of the novel. They’re noticeable, but not deal-breaking. The rest of the story flowed well, and I really liked the fact that things were wrapped up completely at the end, but the reader knows that it’s not really the end. They know something more is coming, just not how it’s going to play out. I think that was very well done. 
All in all, not bad. The narrative itself was well-written. It’s piqued my interest enough that I’m genuinely interested in reading the next one and seeing where things go. 

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Floating Upstream, by Jo Vraca


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Coming of age genre really felt defined in this novel. Julia’s life is already defined for her: arranged marriage, a family at eighteen, and absolutely no say whatsoever as to what she gets to do. With an abusive father, a compliant mother, and the draw of freedom with a boy she loves, her life just got a lot more difficult. I think it’s the kind of trapped feeling that many people can identify with, and it plays a huge role in the narrative. 
All in all, this was a really sweet tale. Lots of positivity to go with the bad. It felt raw and real; a reflection of real life. A fictional memoir, almost. Julia’s life genuinely sucks, but she remains a dreamer. She has a small support group with her brother and some gypsies, and they help keep her grounded and focused. Friendship and love were huge themes, and they are brought to light in a wonderful,whimsical way. 
Narrator tone maintains that whimsical feeling. The reader experiences Julia’s longing, heartache, and indecision in a way that will make their heart clench. Emotions were evoked in a purposeful and in-your-face manner. Nothing was sugar coated. That really enhanced the reader experience, I think. Words and sentence structure were really crafted with a singular goal in mind. One that was accomplished very well. 
And let me tell you about how well characters were made to go along with that. It’s obvious how much care and attention the author paid to them. All of them were integral to the plot and each other. There was so much development to go around, even with the secondary characters. Not one of them finished in the same place they started. They were the kinds of people that readers would easily be able to identify with. In a way, they were all romantic-type characters that fit in well with the floaty narrative. 
No matter how much life got her down, Julia kept trudging along. She suffered so many setbacks, like so many people do, but she never gave up. She turned it into fuel to get her through life. I think that’s a huge, important takeaway for readers. Inspirational, almost, because life sucks and never goes the way we want it to. 
I really liked this narrative. Everything from the plot, to the characters, and the description. The climax and the ending were absolutely perfect, in my opinion. Definitely a must-read for audiences of all ages. Exceptionally well done. 
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Tears of Glass, by David Lake

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Tears of Glass feels like a narrative constructed for a screen rather than a novel. There were quite a few moments where visual cues would have significantly helped the reader get a better idea of what was happening.

 

Morgan is an ex-football player that seems to be holding a bit of nostalgia for those days. He has the classic ‘bad boy’ feel to him, without embracing the excess hostility or emotional distress. Which, I suppose is a good thing considering people around him are dying left and right. All because of a mysterious tape. From there, things blow up on a huge scale.

 

An air of mystery surrounds the first few chapters. There a lot of information purposefully withheld to leave the readers in the dark about certain things. Things are left rather vague. Now, normally, that would be an excellent device to draw readers in and keep them guessing. Unfortunately, this one worked a little too well. It took a few chapters to get the story, plot, and characters organized and discerned into their proper places.

 

Once things got organized, the story was interesting enough. I liked how things started small, but once they got going, the repercussions were massive. I think the ending was pretty fitting for the sequence of events. A little on the cliché side, and definitely with a romantic hero vibe.

 

The language of the narrative was lighthearted and wordy. It seemed to add to the relaxed tone of the novel itself. There’s quite a bit of action, but the way it’s told and the way the characters react make things seem more mellow than they’re supposed to be.

 

Characters weren’t bad. Making an effort to make the female lead a feminist was nice. However, she was stereotyped as a “man hater” and illustrated some of the misconceptions of feminists. Sara was still a very likeable character, though. Morgan’s character wasn’t bad either. I enjoyed the fact that he was a music nut. Beyond that, his character didn’t feel too original. He felt very two-dimensional. Sort of like he had a cardboard cutout standing in for him while everything else was going on.

 

Feeling lost at the beginning of a novel isn’t always a good thing. I think there are areas that could be polished a little better and made to fit the platform. It had its ups and downs, like any novel. All in all, though, it wasn’t a bad book.

 

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Trouble at Riverside Academy, by Liam Moiser


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Rachel’s pretty happy at Riverside Academy. Her and her boyfriend, Benjamin, are prefects, they’re about to graduate…life couldn’t be better. That all changed when one man walked onto campus with sinister intent.

Very well-rounded for a short story. Plot felt full and complete, with a good cast of characters. I loved the relationship between Rachel and Ben. It was a healthy, normal relationship. They had their differences, but they were solved in a mature way. A good idea to convey for readers of all ages. It managed to send powerful messages about lying and bad behavior, which made me think that this is geared for a younger audience.

The only thing I really had a problem with was the antagonists abrupt personality changes. I understand why it was done, but the execution and explanation felt a little flimsy. Almost as an afterthought.

Life’s not always easy, even when things are going your way. This book served as a good reminder for that, as well as reminding readers that they’re not alone. An easy, quick read that’s still satisfying.
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Audio Review is Live!

 

We are pleased to bring you our very first audio review! Constructed a little differently than written reviews, they go a little more in-depth.
This one is for Moristoun, by Kevin McAllion. Huge shoutout to Kevin and his patience, as well as his continued support of us and our endeavors. Head on over to Amazon and check it out! Follow him on Twitter as well.
We’re hoping this won’t be the last. For now, however, it is the only one. Considering becoming a Patron, or donating on Book Reviews Anonymous for more content like this in the future!

Reviewers Wanted!

Fred Call
TBH, Cromartie High School is just who I am this week

 

Caleb Broderick, author of The Junkyard Kids, is looking for people interested in reviewing said novel! Serial killers, homeless orphans, and POC that aren’t stereotypes. Check out Caleb’s Amazon page for more information! No purchase necessary.

 

Comment with your e-mail address below if you’re interested!

Live to Tell, by Livian Grey 

People think writing is easy. That being an author is simple. But Stephen’s life is far from such. While trying to reconcile things with his wife and daughter, he ends up in the kind of situation he couldn’t imagine writing about. He becomes the star of his own gritty crime-filled drama.

I liked the way the conflict was set up for a few different reasons. Reason one: Stephen and his family are going through a tough time, emotionally. However, there was never a feeling of absolute hatred or even animosity within the family. They were taking care of their problems like adults–something that I don’t see often.

Reason two: the circumstances felt like a redemption arc, and not just for Stephen and his family. While they were certainly tied in, yes, just desserts were also served for the remainder of the conflict.

Writing style and tone were suited to the narrative. The story progressed in a well-timed way. Dialogue served as the majority storyteller. That was great and well done, but I felt like description lacked just a bit. I liked the diversity that was included with character personalities, and the extra attention paid to the women.

This was kind of a quick, heartbreaking read. What makes things worse is that there are parallels to real-life events.

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