The Great Daylight Savings Time Controversy, by Chris Pearce

Be prepared for a textbook-like read on everything you ever wanted to know about daylight savings times.

Origin, evolution, controversy, history—all packed into one neat package. The author managed to organize things in a way that made sense, and allowed the reader a gradual understanding of the subject. What’s interesting about this book is the fact that the author chose to cover the entire world, not just major countries. Getting different global opinions on the subject I think made the information inside a little more valuable. Again, it was organized in such a way that the reader didn’t have to read the entire thing to get their country’s perspective or history.

Textbook-like, dense, and very informative. If this is a subject of interest to you as a reader, I would definitely recommend it.

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The Dream Recorder, by C. M. Haynes

Life after death is certainly more exciting than Abby could have hoped for. Being a Dream Recorder means that she watches and records dreams. At least, until something goes awry and suddenly they’re inside the Dreamscape, affecting billions of people worldwide.

The novella is a rather delightful one, featuring a wonderful cast of characters and a well-executed plot. Everything felt smooth from start to finish. The world was planned well and the writing style suited it excellently. There were so many creative, nuanced things that helped enhance the narrative and keep the reader incredibly interested. I had a hard time putting it down.

I will say there are some minor edits needed, mostly involving tense change from past to present. However the rest of the novella is pure quality so those factors can be overlooked.

Definitely a good read. I enjoyed it very much.

The Die-Fi Experiment, by M. R. Tapia

If I had to summarize this in one word it would be: brutal. The extent to which social media has taken over our lives is demonstrated with a live-streamed game show of Saw proportions.

A back and forth of happier times as the main character reminisced and tried to distance himself from the horror he was witnessing and participating in, giving the reader background without overload. The description was on par with horror novels as the contestants are worn down in graphic detail. The writing style is done in such a way that social media was integrated very well into the actual narrative. Brilliant use of hashtags and mentions not only drive the point home, but also serve as a wonderful literary device.

This is a graphic one. Beautifully suited to the theme of the novel and executed very well.

Gold Leafing, by Hannah A’enene

Poetry is a popular form of expression. Let me tell you, this is the most expressive collection of poetry I’ve come across yet.

Everything from observations of people milling about, to sex, to relationships—the author is blatant and straightforward with what they mean. Yet it’s done in a rhythmic way with lots of imagery. This collection starts with a bang and continues on from there.

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.

The Science of Success, by Paula Caproni

What does it mean to be successful? Why are some more successful than others? What can we change about our lives in order to achieve the same level of success as, say, someone born with opportunity?

I can’t really call this a self-help book, but it kinda is. It’s more like a textbook on success, with some self-reflection at the end. It’s an easy read, well-organized, and full of useful information. The author has pulled many studies on the subject to support their words, and all works are cited. Multiple angles of success are used in examples, as well as more than one way of achieving it.

I think this is a good read for anyone in management, anyone who works with people on a regular basis, or just anyone who needs a little extra encouragement that hope for success isn’t lost.

My Shorts, by Arthur Doweyko

Fans of science fiction—more specifically, time travel—will enjoy this collection of short stories. They’re the kind of short stories that always end abruptly, but leave enough information for the reader to piece together what happens. They vary from “holy crap” to “nuh-uh!” endings. While the stories hold similar themes, they do differ greatly between them; different theories and methods of time travel and different consequences. The author at least knows their stuff and it shows.

The one drawback is that these are short stories, so whatever world and characters the author creates are short-lived and not very fleshed out. Most of them are interesting enough that I would love to read a full-length novel.

James Fisher and the Bird Witch, by Simon Corn

Every little town has its own story of a reclusive older person that legend says is some kind of mystical being. Well, for James, there’s no exception. After fleeing from some bullies, he ends up on the doorstep of none other than the Bird Witch.

An endearing tale, Bird Witch teaches many life lesson: love, loss, hope, and a bit of redemption. As a kid, James endured a lot. He was resilient, though. A little too resilient and positive sometimes. I liked his character, and his development. He was an ordinary kid living an ordinary life, even though circumstances didn’t always seem so ordinary for someone his age.

Mental illness was handled in a relatively good way. It wound up being a bigger theme in he latter half of the book, and I think it was done respectfully, by someone who cares enough about accuracy. There were a lot of emotions to deal with. They came out well in both the characters and readers. It also highlighted the importance of something very easy to forget: how much a support system can help. We see the dynamic there in James versus Daisy (even Shaz) and how the circumstances of their lives changed because of who they have to talk to and the people there for them.

It was long, and there were plenty of ups and downs. James is an interesting and well-written character to follow. The interactions and friendships found along the way made for good learning experiences. It was easy for the reader to put themselves in James’ shoes, no matter how old.

Megan’s Munchkins, by Pamela Foland

This was an incredibly cute tale of a young girl learning responsibility, as well as the fact that every action has consequences, no matter how good the intent.

Megan really wants a pet. Her parents don’t think she’s responsible enough yet. Megan finds some abandoned kittens, so what does she do? Takes them home, of course! Now the race is on to prove that she can be responsible before her parents find out.

There were many, many good messages to young adults contained within the book. The writing style was age-appropriate for the target audience. It seemed like a good book to read with parents, too. In fact, I think there were lessons that even parents could learn from it regarding how to handle situations such as that. I really liked the communication between parents and Megan. Things felt realistic.

The story was complete and the resolution was one that left readers satisfied all the way around.

Sleep Savannah Sleep, by Alistair Cross

It’s very rare for the ending of a mystery novel to surprise me. I’m pleased to announce that this one did.

After the death of his wife, Jason moves to Shadow Springs with his two kids. No foreshadowing in the name, right? Small towns hold such ominous secrets, and Jason’s about to find out just how devastating they can be.

This was a pretty nice blend of both horror, suspense, and mystery. Time and effort were put into creating a compelling and well-paced mystery. The clues were all there, but they were expertly placed and not very obvious. I liked that a lot. It made the twist at the end even more shocking.

Jason, now a single father, was a very dynamic character. I liked how the author addressed the struggles of becoming the “mom” figure and dealing with a hurting family. Things were done tastefully and realistically. Family dynamics were done much the same way, too. Things were very believable, and it was easy to see a bit of familiarity in the way they interacted.

The overall plot was done well. I felt as though things progressed in a logical manner, even if things felt a little slow. The slowness came from getting to know important characters to make them stand out rather than just be bland and boring.

Development was an essential part of each character. It helped them come alive. Even the minor characters were treated with the same priority.

I did wind up having one or two questions at the end, but they were relatively minor in relation to the overall story. I felt like, for the most part, they didn’t affect anything and most readers would be very satisfied by the way things wrap up.