Spilt Coffee, by Greg Bauder

5_23_17 Spilt Coffee

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One thing I’ve noticed with this author is that their themes are very obvious. They make common events become almost a tertiary character. Sometimes their causations feel like personality. Plot is directly affected by them–sometimes in simple ways, others unknown until later.

 

Much like Woofed Cookies, this had an interesting story. Dealing with schizoaffective disorder is no easy feat, but Glen and his buddies make the most of it. At least their nurse is hot, right?

 

There’s some editing needed. The writing felt clunky in some areas, both in the narrative and dialogue. The style and use of description seemed to fit the story. Given how short it was, the characters were pretty well done. There some adult content, and that needed a little help. Small action sequences like sex needed a different style of description than what it had.

 

Care’s demonstrated when it came to mental health topics. Character’s didn’t feel portrayed as the typical “crazy person,” as seen on TV. Symptoms were plot devices, but not to make fun of them.

 

It was a little weird in some places, but that fit with the tone of the story. With some extra editing, this could be pretty good all the way around.

 

Buy it here!

 

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Whispers in the Alders, by H. A. Callum

5_18_17 Whispers in the Alders

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Available May 26th, 2017!

I’m having such a crisis trying to figure out where to begin with Whispers in the Alders.

 

It went from 0 to 60 in no time flat.

 

Aubrey Worthington, daughter of a company bigwig, spends life moving from place to place. Until Alder Ferry. There she meets a young boy named Tommy, and initiates an unlikely friendship. Not an easy one, either. And I will tell you right now that it does not go where you think it goes.

 

Okay, tone. Let me start with the narrator’s (Aubrey) voice. In the beginning, it’s full of whimsy. And longing. It’s full of imagery and the like. Because of this, it opens rather slow. That’s okay, though, because once it gets going, it doesn’t stop. The deeper into it you get, the less whimsical it feels. Right along with Aubrey’s character development from teen to adult. Watching her shed the naivety of adulthood is such an emotional process. Even the minor characters took on their own, unique journeys. Through Aubrey’s telling, they come alive. Characterization was different for everyone. They were easy to tell apart, with their own voice.

 

The pacing of the story was great. Not too long or short, but plenty of time to get to know the characters. Enough time to develop an emotional tie with them. Backgrounds and character traits aren’t given immediately upon introduction. We get to know the character in pieces so they’re easier to identify with. We follow along on their journey of self-discovery and identity. The writing style fits well into how the narrative progresses. The author makes excellent use of tension and suspense. Coupled with plenty of twists, this novel has more drama than an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

 

I finished with only one or two questions. Everything else ties up with a nice little bow. With the opportunity for many stereotypes, this novel tends to bypass most. It makes use of the “broken family” trope, but in a way that’s necessary. Even still, it doesn’t feel like the same old story. It ditches the gritty atmosphere for a warmhearted one, despite the events that occur.

 

Whisper in the Alders was nowhere near what I expected. It was so much better. It was worth the emotional distress I went through while reading at work. The farther into I got, the harder it was to put down. A literary representation of #relationshipgoals to the letter.

 

Misfortunes of T-Funk, by Barnaby Hazen

5_17_17 Misfortunes of T-Funk

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An interesting fact about the Kindle version of this novel. It comes with four audio tracks (linked in the text) that pop up during the narrative. Living in BFE with the world’s worst internet, I couldn’t listen to them during my reading. I do encourage others to try this and see how it affects the mood. It was a very unique reader engagement concept (as well as marketing promotion).

 

The story itself is about Theo and Judah surviving the misfortunes many new bands go through. All the while they’re trying to maintain their education and relationships. Except, once you get sucked into the time-consuming world of music, it’s not that easy.

 

I learned a lot about the music industry reading this novel. I also learned quite a bit about music itself. An excellent level of detail and explanation went into constructing the musical narrative. Grasping the ideas discussed shouldn’t be too difficult for those with a basic understanding of music.

 

Relationship-wise, this novel did a lot right. Both Judah and Theo have differing circumstances, but they’re realistic. They’re healthy (for the most part). They have their fair share of ups and downs and I liked how they got handled.

 

The story itself was good. The writing needs some editing. Breaking up paragraphs and sentences would help keep things from becoming too jumbled. Within the chapters, things bounced around between perspectives, people, and situations. Without breaks. I found myself reading the same page a few times to see where I missed a scene change. Passage of time was also muddled.

 

As a character-driven novel, I liked the style. As the story unfolds we learn more of the intricate details that flesh out their development. I’m not talking about when they were born or what their parents do, but their fears, their hopes. What drives them. What holds them back. Their emotions feel accessible for the readers. It helps them come alive. I wasn’t a fan of the information dump at certain points in the story. It changed things up, however, by utilizing both dialogue and narration to tell. Dialogue did get a little clunky without much action in between. The character interactions remained solid despite.

 

From small nightclubs to Jimi Hendrix’s grave, Misfortunes of T-Funk manages to encompass the raw drive it takes to succeed as a band. The let downs, the frustrations…and, in the end, the ability to rely on other people. With a little polishing, this could slide into the top-10 charts without trying.

 

Buy it here!

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.

Buy it here!