The Wolfe Experiment, by R. W. Adams

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If you’re looking for an adventure that doesn’t stop, then the Wolfe Experiment is for you.

 

Siblings Tilly and Ethan know they’re different. They’ve got powers no one else has. They made a pact not to tell anyone. Except people know. And that doesn’t bode well for the two youngsters. Given their ages, things do go a bit better than expected. But not by much.

 

The opening is well done. It immediately engages the reader and plants pleasant images in their head. Then it’s all downhill from there. The kids can’t catch a break. Their struggle is an emotional one, but also a mysterious one. Nothing is as it seems as they try to survive and cure themselves. Readers find their hearts breaking the longer things go on.

 

Characterization was fantastic. The kids felt like kids. They acted like kids and reacted like kids should. Both felt very different, and they had their own branching storylines. Minor characters were alive and well, all important to advancing the plot. And oh, boy. The plot was a tightly knit one. It made sense. It progressed well and in a logical manner. My only complaint was that Ethan’s situations got a little repetitive. So, for a while there, things got a little predictable. The situations themselves weren’t, but the actions and resolutions were. In spite of that, I see how they served to further the plot and pull the curtains back on the mystery.

 

The writing style fit the narrative. It was fast-paced, almost constant action. During the brief interludes, exposition and background information wound up presented. The story eased us into getting to know the characters. There was a lot of information to take in, but it never felt overwhelming. Things came full circle by the end. And boy did it end with the biggest, most perfect cliffhanger. It leaves the readers feeling hungry for more. It’s so frustrating, but in a good way. There’s questions that need answers, but it doesn’t leave the story incomplete. In fact, it sets thing up in a beautiful way for a sequel.

 

This was an awesome story from beginning to end. Well-crafted, thought out, and executed. The characters drove the story forward at all times. Not once did things feel convoluted or out of place. It was emotional. While predictable in some areas, it still managed to surprise and entertain. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel. There’s got to be a sequel…right?

 

Buy it here!

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When The Light Goes Out, by Shawn Bartek

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4 stars

What usually comes to mind when you think of the lights going out? Most likely some kind of horror movie, where bad things happen.

 

Whelp, When The Light Goes Out, bad things continue happening to young Ami. High schoolers stuck in the middle of an evacuation with no parents sounds like a recipe for disaster. To be fair, it wasn’t all their fault.

 

The narrative at the beginning is deceptive: it opens like a Young Adult would. With characters introduced and conflict established, the tone takes a hard left. An unexpected hard left. Readers feel the same sense of urgency as Ami. They start to panic with her. Word choice and sentence structure set the pace well. The plot makes appropriate twists and turns. And the plot, as a whole, wasn’t an industry standard. I kind of liked that.

 

What I liked most about the characters was that they were real. They weren’t perfect do-gooders with a penchant for saving the world. They’re flawed: they drink, smoke, do drugs, and break the law. Yet they’re not the antagonists. Nor are they “bad apples.” All were real people, not boring cutouts. All of them feel like different people. The series of events that occurs does wonderful things for their character development. While they weren’t always getting along, their disagreements weren’t over-the-top. They served as learning experiences, and the writing acknowledges that. The narration did well to show and not tell the story.

 

Character descriptions I felt lacked, but scenery was perfect for the writing style. So were actions. I little issue picturing what was going on at a given time. For the most part, I felt as though character had realistic reactions to all their mishaps. There was no “sudden superhuman strength” to get them out of jams.

 

Let me tell you that I enjoyed the romantic subplot in this one. Shocking, I know. I’m such a stickler when it comes to romance. It didn’t follow the standard formula, which was fabulous. Especially since writers have a tendency to use a toxic formula for teen romance. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to say much more. But. This was a well-done subplot.

 

A few noticeable errors did pop up from time to time. Most of the writing was pretty solid otherwise.

 

When The Light Goes Out is a nice read. Slow to start, but once the action starts, it doesn’t stop. It will actually keep you turning the page.

 

Buy it here!

 

Disconnected, by Nick M. Lloyd

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4 stars

Disconnected reads like a Michael Crichton novel. In fact, it opens in a very similar manner to some of his books. A scientific expedition works their way through a jungle to investigate a troop of “rabid” bonobos. As readers, we can only assume that a curse or some violent disease follows.

 

Not exactly.

 

Straying from the beaten path, Disconnected approaches scientific drama in more Eastern way. A sci-fi Eastern way. A man named Asha can see into people, see the way their connections line up, and manipulate them as he must. Not only him, either. There are many people who can see these kinds of connections. Through such manipulation, Asha seeks to further his own agenda. Centering on the cure for dementia, Disconnected brings political drama into the folds.

 

The story gets a little convoluted in areas. There are a few characters to keep track of, each one with intersecting story lines. Much like the Da Vinci Code. While the writing is very technical and dry, it still maintains a Dan Brown atmosphere. Since it is so technical, description of things is something the book is lacking. I still don’t have a good grasp on what anyone looks like beyond “he’s Asian.” Describing what’s going on in the scenes gets a little long-winded. It’s great that there’s so much exposition, but sometimes it went overboard. There were a few super-repetitive chapters as the author focused on Asha. Which was a little more often than needed.

 

Characters were dynamic. They each had their own narrative that contributing to the overarching plot. Each had their own agenda that was a wrench in the plans of someone else. Manipulation runs rampant, and not only the telepathic kind. Those mundane humans have their own tricks as well.

 

It not only passes the Bechdel test, but also puts women in positions of power. They have drive and motivation beyond marriage and kids. They’re alright in how they’re rounded out—like the rest of the characters. Some were more fleshed out than others. At least, enough to not consider them flat. We receive more information on the scene than everyone in the scene, and that was sometimes frustrating. It certainly told more than it showed.

 

Disconnected it contained interesting elements not usually associated with this kind of story. The writing was solid, albeit a bit long and dry. Characters held my attention. It was worth reading once.

 

Buy it here!

Hallow Mass, by JP Mac

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All the time, people want to use the Necronomicon as a pivotal plot point for their novel. Often, it’s misused and misrepresented, contorted to whatever special need the author decries

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Imagine my delight and surprise then, in Hallow Mass, to find that the book’s used as intended. And what a narrative built around it.

 

Told through third-person, the novel follows two groups: the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. Or, those trying to use the Necronomicon and those trying to prevent its use. Chapters headings are newspaper clippings or quotes related to the story. They provide hints, bits and pieces of background story, and foreshadowing. The narrative uses book excerpts or scripts to give the readers an easy information dump. With the author’s tone and informal style, it fits. Not once did it rip me from the story.

 

The author did a wonderful job taking potshots at big corporations. Hilarious, and exactly how things pan out in the real world. Creative and so well done. The characterization was great. All the characters were different, and it was diverse. Even without naming the characters during dialogue, it was easy to keep up and know who was who. With exceptions, each character had their own plot and series of development. And it’s easy to discern. Grammar and punctuation were all on-point, contributing to the tongue-in-cheek narration.

 

I’m always wary of female protagonists. Wary, but I love them. Only because nine time out of ten, they’re not written well. They always seem to fall back into some lame trope that destroys their character. Which explains why Mercy’s character stood out. Best of all, there’s no love story that every female protagonist seems to have to succeed as a character. There was none of that. She was her own personality without relying on others for it. The supporting characters did that: support without being overbearing or “I’m the man, I’m in charge now.” And boy, is she easy to identify with. All college students have been there at one point or another.

 

Even the description was right where it needed to be. There’s plenty of information on the characters, but the setting requires attention too. And the author delivered. The description of the small-town nature set the scene.

 

Things felt a little too easy during the climax, but given the cliffhanger at the end, there’s more to come. If things are easy on the protagonist at first, only to embroil them deeper later, then so be it.

 

I’m ready for next year’s Hallow Mass.

 

Buy it here!

Murder Red Ink, by Mord McGhee

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Mord McGhee has done it again!

In this stunning and positively horrific prequel to his masterpiece “Ghosts of San Fransisco,” Mord has taken the readers to where it all began.

And Jack the Ripper has never been more terrifying.

Ghosts come to life in an era of technology close enough to smell. Joseph is haunted by dreams so real, it’s almost as if he’s there. Allena is on the run for her life, caught up in something much bigger than she realizes. It’s so much bigger than any of us realize. By the time things come to a head, it’s almost too late.

The characters were excellent. Each one had their own voice, their own individuality. Never once did I feel as though they were cardboard cutouts simply going through the motions of their narrative. A heavy change in tone takes place when the settings switch and it will send shivers down your spine. The reactions his word choice evokes is so strong you begin to wonder if you yourself aren’t there, watching, almost…participating.

There were a few errors throughout the book, but not enough to detract from the overall experience. The ending was a fast-paced thriller that sets things up perfectly for the follow-up.

A stunning penchant for murder, lust, and the most brilliant conspiracy theories, Murder Red Ink is like the grisly crime scene you can’t stop staring at.

Buy it here!