Update

An actual picture of me trying to balance my life recently Source: http://www.nereusprogram.org

Since I’ve been getting a few emails recently asking for a status update, I figured I’d go ahead and post this to reach as many as possible. 

I’m slowly slogging my way through things. 

When I first set this site up, I had enough spare time that allowed me to read and review a book a day. Unfortunately for me (and everyone else!), that is no longer an option. I’m lucky to get one done per week now. 

I haven’t forgotten, nor have I lost anything. 

I think over the course of the next week or so, I’ll try to create a list of what I’ve got left, and the relative order in which the authors are in. That way, everyone can see where I’m at as well, and as I post the reviews, cross said book off for everyone to see. Does that sound like a good idea? 

I appreciate everyone taking time out to check up on things. Hopefully in the next few days I’ll have something more than: “I’m sorry, I’m working on it!” 

Until then, however: I’m sorry for the delays. I promise I’m working on them! Thank you so much for all your patience. 

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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.

 

 

Buy it here!

A Life Removed, by Jason Parent



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There’s so much I want to say about this novel, I’m not even sure where to begin. There were so many layers and nuances to it that I could not put it down once I started. 
There’s a killer on the loose, carving out hearts and leaving the bodies on display. Aaron’s a good cop. He really is. But once he gets involved in the gruesome murders, his life is literally downhill from there. 
First things first, as a crime novel, I was really satisfied with how things were set up. Things started off vague, to keep both readers and cops guessing. Then the foreshadowing started to trickle in. “Aha!” the reader says, “I’ve got the whodunnit…what now?” Oh, boy. Let me tell you what now. Things explode. I mostly mean the narrative, of course. It expands and then turns itself on its head. I really liked both of the twists at the end. 
There were a lot of psychological and religious themes throughout. Both were tied heavily to morality and it’s grayness. I don’t mean peppered here or there; they were the main themes. Both were explored thoroughly through the narrative. They were both used in conjunction with each other to make their necessary points. What surprised me the most was how well-researched they appeared to be. And, throughout, the narrative remained respectful for all walks of life. 
Now, characters, because what’s a story without them? Relationships are put to the test. Some bend, some break, some are formed. Some are brought into question and re-examined when morality is threatened. There was quite a bit of development to go around, some good, others bad. I really liked how well done the “bad” character development was. It’s something that not a lot of novels choose to undertake. I was so happy that this one did. The police force was fallible, realistically so. It really, really made for a good story. It kept things from feeling too easy. 
I also enjoyed the realism of the police work. It allowed the reader to keep their attention focused on plot and story progression rather than fanciful detectives that miraculously know everything. It wasn’t boring. It didn’t feel overdone. Yet it was still realistic. 
I could honestly go on about this novel, so I should probably stop. If crime fiction with a bit of horror is your bag, please pick up this book and read it. I promise it will be worth your while. 
Buy it here!

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. 
Buy it here!

Awakening Macbeth, by Carmen Amato


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Much like the title insists, Awakening Macbeth is the story of one woman’s journey of self-discovery. And, of course, the man she chooses to take on said journey. Throw in a few historically manned dreams where souls are literally at stake. 

When I go into romance novels, the biggest thing i analyze is the relationship itself. Is it healthy? Ups and downs, and conflict are one thing. All relationships have minor hiccups. The difference is how they’re addressed. I liked the fact that the narrative created incredibly imperfect relationships and presented healthy solutions. All of those obstacles (and then some) served to really develop Brodie’s character. The level of emotionality that went into the characters was done well. 

Characters themselves were done well. The author took a different route when creating character backstories. I liked the accuracy and the respect shown for types of characters created. I don’t want to spoil the types for other readers, but they’ll know it when it happens. 

The fact that the narrative was a paranormal romance without the romance itself being paranormal was a nice change in a genre over saturated with vampires, shape-shifters, and things like that. The paranormal actually plays a rather huge part of the plot, even though I feel like it sort of took a backseat at times. Because of that, the buildup was alright, but the climax and the mystery were too easy. I took into account that Brodie was smart and sharp, but it still felt too easy for her. 

Actually, to build on Brodie a little bit, I absolutely adored how smart she was. I loved her relationship with other women. There was no petty competition between them; only love and support. Something I wholeheartedly enjoy seeing in any sort of novel. 

Writing style supported the tone of the novel, I think. It was firm, without being overbearing. There was some lightheartedness to it, without being overly comical. I think the description worked well, and the brief historical interludes were a nice change of pace and scenery. 

Easily one of the better romance novels I’ve read. There was a lot of positivity as well as good messages interspersed throughout. While the mystery could use a bit of tweaking, the story itself was solid and consistent. It follows the general genre formula, yet still manages to not be full of stereotypes. It was really an excellent read. 

Buy it here!

Faithful and Devoted: Confessions of a Music Addict, by Jenna Rose Robbins

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4 stars

 

Faithful and Devoted: Confessions of a Music Addict is exactly what it sounds like. Jenn’s journey through Spain following Depeche Mode is quite the adventure.

 

And it comes with the most heartbreaking ending.

 

The tone is fun and inviting. Though the novel definitely for a niche audience, writing style will beckon the reader to stay. Events flow so naturally together that it makes the ending shocking—forgive the Clickbait aura I just channeled.

 

It’s full of conflict. And yet it never feels like a disheartened story. In fact, for all the risks taken, there’s plenty of learning done. And plenty of reward. Almost all the events were delicious morsels of happiness for any fan. They’re sure to leave a jaw or two on the floor.

 

Regardless of who the reader’s favorite band is, this is a fun little read. It highlighted a wide array of the ups and downs of being a die-hard fan. It also sends a positive message about risk-taking. There’s always going to be a risk of something bad happening. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying your life.

 

 

Buy it here!

Refiner’s Fire, by Ann Nolder Heinz

Another stunning period piece by the author. 

A riches to ruin tale of an upperclass southern belle. Lizzie Hamilton’s life gets real exciting, real fast. As she undertakes the journey far from the comforts of her Charleston plantation, she finds herself barraged with a myriad of life lessons. Most of which are learned the hard way, but that’s where all her development comes from. 

I like how the author made a story about growth, but didn’t make being rich the end result. For everyday Joes, being a millionaire is something of a wild concept. So the fact that Lizzie hits many of the hardships that the working class endures, it’s not about the money and status. It started that way, sure. Definitely did not end that way. The level of personal development for such a sheltered, proper young lady was massive. 

Writing style, again, was well-suited for the tone of the novel. Highbrow and proper at the beginning. Narration and dialogue changed with the actions of the story. The farther Lizzie delved into the working class, the more her speech reflected that. 
Knowledge of the time period was obvious and consistent throughout. There were, of course, several stereotypes. However, they felt useful for the end game of the novel. 
Description was quite good. Given the saturation of the Wild West in the media, things were easy to picture. The author took a definitive step away from the classic themes of the West. No gun-slinging deputies or damsels in distress there. In fact, all the women were capable. There were the obvious allowances for the time, but the author took creative license and elevated the women. It never felt like there was an actual villain, or antagonist. There were people with which conflict occurred, but the actual antagonist ended up being her situation rather than a person. 

I did have some questions left at the end. Things that I don’t feel were quite as wrapped up as they could be. There was an allusion to one of the authors’ other novels, A Light Within. One of the characters makes an appearance, and we get a nifty little backstory to them. I like the continuity between the novels. 

Another excellent novel from this author. Bring the olden days back to life in a tasteful way. They always manage to construct such excellent settings and characters. An author to keep an eye on for sure. 

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Parenting at Your Best, by Roni Wing Lambrecht

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4 stars

 

There’s a lot of parenting self-help books out there. I feel as though many of them are a little lofty. Setting expectations too high, or presenting goals that reflect ideals from television. Parenting at Your Best, however, feels very humbled, very down-to-earth. The parenting tips in there are simple, yet sensible. Respect is a big theme, and I think that’s where a lot of parents fail. They treat their child as property instead of someone to be included. Differences of opinions will inevitably happen (both with children and some of the tips mentioned), but Parenting at Your Best does offer some sound advice. I liked their approach.

 

Buy it here!

Stone & Iris, by Jonathan Ballagh

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Alison Shaw answered a call one night. One that would change her life, for better or for worse.

 

I want to say this had almost a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel to it. As Alison progresses through her development, the tone changes. And then it just gets sad. Yet, strangely heartwarming. Whatever the mood, the writing style matched with reader emotion. Enhanced it. The style goes from concrete, where we know exactly what’s going on, to obscure. It follows with the natural progression of the narrative.

 

It’s an intense little tale. I liked it, and am now having an existential crisis.

 

 

Buy it here!

Savage Swords, by Viel Nast 



Conan the Barbarian indeed. Savage Swords is a parallel that draws from the comics. 
As Gonan leads an expedition through the dangerous jungle, they find out precisely how dangerous. 
It’s got lots of action and it’s not as sexual as I figured it would be. There’s an alpha male theme to be sure, but it’s not a domineering one. There’s not a lot of dialogue, so most of the tone comes through narration. The reader feels like a jungle observer watching from afar. The writing style is drawn-out and kind of flowery, in a way that oozes machismo. For the most part, it suits the narrative. 
It was a quick read, designed to set up their own, custom world. Perhaps the serial will surprise readers with a unique take on an older series. 
Buy it here!