Closed as of August 3, 2020
My book review list current has 6 to 15 months of books on it. The books near the top have been waiting for reviews for months, some since 2019. While I make every effort to do book reviews thoroughly, my timeliness has faultered, and until I can get a handle on the current list (get it down to 3 or 4 books), I probably shouldn't accept any more.
Book reviews are essential for both readers and authors alike.
For the reader, book reviews save time, energy, and reduce risks. Book reviews give potential readers the chance to become familiar with what a book is about before investing their time and money into getting a copy for themselves. Through book reviews, readers also have the opportunity to become a part of the author's world by providing their intake and input on their favorite works of literature.
For authors, book reviews increase awareness, sales, and visibility. Often, books with greater reviews have a higher chance of being read. Through book reviews, an author's work is also shared with a wider audience, giving the author an opportunity to influence a whole new group of people.
My Book Rating System
5 Stars – Absolutely flawless and intriguing. I don’t understand why this isn’t on every bookshelf everywhere.
4 Stars – The book has either mass appeal or cult appeal. Very few flaws and the premise of the story, characters and plot are extremely good. I’d recommend you to my family and friends.
3 Stars – Very much worth the read. I found the story intriguing and entertaining, but I also saw issues with structure and flow. I’d still recommend you to my friends and family.
2 Stars – You have a promising story, but it’s also filled with plot holes, dropped plots, cliches and reads like a second draft.
1 Star – Shows promise, needs a developmental editor. Wasn’t ready for publication.
No Mention of Stars – I couldn’t decide where the book belonged on the rating system, but I thought it was still good enough to receive a review. You have an audience somewhere, but it probably wasn’t me, and any star rating I would have given it would not precisely fit it. My estimated rating may have also been vastly lower than what you've already recieved, and I was unwilling to put a rating in that would ding you.
Where You can Expect Your Book Review
Conquered by Holly Merrigan has been waiting quite a while for a review for several reasons. The biggest one was that I couldn't find the actual book link anywhere. I couldn't find where it was published. I eventually found the original email with the author's name. My review copy didn't contain the author's name or the book cover. The latter, I'm used to. The former, not so much. This book has a lot of things to like in it. It starts off with vampires being tortured in and escaping from a concetration camp. That's enough to get my attention. That's a really cool way to start off a story, especially a vampire story. However, these are not traditional vampires. They have hearts that beat, and I'm not even sure if the word vampire is used in the book. I don't remember. The overview simply says they are cursed. The other big thing is that this book is written in third person present tense. This is not my favorite style for a book, especially one that appears to, at least, take place partially in the past. However, I understand why it's used. It's meant to create a sense of urgency, but every time I read he/she says, I cringed, so I probably wasn't the best reviwer for this book. With that being said, someone else may love this. The opening suquence and overall premise are extremely interesting. It is officially a dark fantasy with 235 pages.
Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen is a 286 page thriller that starts off more like a family life drama than a revenge crime thriller. The clues that this might be a crime thriller filled with revenge occur in the Preface and Prologue, but Chapter 1 takes you back to the hometown of Jameel and Afra, who are integral to this story and the reason for the revenge slaughtering of the prestigious family. During these first several chapters, you learn of Afra and Jameel's home lives during their early years, what drives them and what pulls them apart. Without giving anything away, I can say it was a marriage for Afra and business and extended family for Jameel. However, the book moves fairly slowly until about Chapter 9. It is there where you start to see the negative turn in Afra’s life, and the entire story picks up steam. The crime/revenge thriller starts at Chapter 16. Form this point, it’s told in a mixed perspective. Partially in first person from Ralph Buchanan’s perspective, and then you’re still following Jameel’s journey as the investigative reporter tries to solve the crime of an honor killing.
I feel like this book has a range of stars. The first part is a solid 3 stars. It moves a bit slowly, but it’s information that you have to have in order to thoroughly understand the book and why the final chapters occur as they do. Part two is definitely four stars. Maybe even five stars. I could read a whole book just based on the premise of part II. There’s really a lot of action, and you are certainly going to feel for the victim, especially if you’ve ever wanted to better yourself and find security and happiness only to find that the path chosen was the worst possible path.
The intermixing of first person in a 90% third person book isn't my thing, and that's how the final chapters flow - aternating between the detective in first person and Jameel in third person. I still liked following Jameel's path though. Overall though, I'd say it's a very enlightening book. I can imagine that parts of this were difficult to write because they were certainly difficult to read. It shows some real horors that we all know to be true.
Travis by John Decarteret is a 303-page dark fantasy/horror novel published by Idle Sky Press. It starts with the birth of Travis Blackett, a son to Lord and Lady Blackett, except, Travis was born under unusual circumstances. Lord and Lady Blackett had made love years prior to the birth of Travis, and the seed rooted itself while Lord Blackett was away. In fact, it is the seed that becomes very important in this tale. For Travis is from a long line of descendants destined to produce the reincarnation of a very important member of the family. Of course, Travis does not remember his former life. It takes the smoke image of his former self to tell him all there is to know and set him on a journey that will change his life and the lives of his immediate family and descendants forever.
If you like dark fantasy, wizards, magic and hidden truths, you'll love Travis by John Decarteret. This novel promises to take you on a scary ride of magic and horror as Travis attempts to figure out just who he is and restore his family line (which is incredibly convoluted.) This is easily a 3-star book. It is apparent to me that the author spent an incredible amount of time on story and development in order to create his world. For a debut novel, the author has chosen a really complex concept to try and articulate.
While this novel is decent for a debut novel, there are some things that may be confusing. For example, this is a fantastical setting with Lords and Ladies and an obvious Noble class system. However, the language of the book and the slang used in the dialogue is modern. This may throw some readers for a loop when trying to figure out the time period of this novel, and this may make the novel feel slightly disjointed.
On Fractured Ground came to me with a warning for sexual abuse and violence and overall dark sexual themes. It lives up to that. It is a variation on the sex trade industry in that it involves The Cellar Institute, which is a school that is specifically designed to groom girls to be sold for sex. There's no way to sugar coat that. This book's theme is sex slavery. It's listed as a psychological thriller, but due to the overall theme and plot, it's also has elements of erotica, so this could also almost be considered an erotic psychological thriller. Now, if you're looking for something that condemns the sex industry, this is not that book.
This book takes you into the world of The Cellar Institute, specifically Tylar and Chase's world. Tyler is the 18 year old who is stuck at institute and desperately wants out, so much so that she abuses and manipulates her "trainers". Chase is the man who agrees to train her for her last year so that she can be successfuly sold to some rich, older man, thus earning the family that owns The Cellar Institute money. But oh wait, the current owner doesn't like this particular business his family owns. This is a complication. Tyler is also instantly attracted to this man and he to her. So, there is plenty of sexual tension. There's also the threat of dealth. Unruley girls who refuse to particpate in their training aren't simply let go from the insitute. They might talk about what goes on there. Instead, they're killed. Finding that an unpalatable solution for Tylar, the owner of the institute and Chase agree to retrain her for her final year so that they don't have to kill her and bury her in the woods.
Is it worth reading? Absolutely. In fact, if you don't want to read it in 24 hours, you'll probably have to pace yourself. It is incredibly interesting. It does have its slow points, but it doesn't tend to take long for it to pick back up. This is probably on purpose to not overwhelm the reader. To me, this is a five star book, but I happen to really like dark themed books where there are no good characters. This fits the bill. It's extremely well written and worth reading. I could not find much at fault. In fact, there was so little that it's not even worth mentioning. The good news about this book is that it's the first in a series, so if you like this one, there will be more.
I am going to start off by saying this is not something I would normally review. My standard categories are adult fiction with dark themes, crime fiction, erotica, bad guys as the main characters fiction and dark/alt religion type fiction. This is a traditional Christian fiction book. With that being said, the reason I chose to review it was because the writing in the Amazon sample chapters was absolutely stellar. It would have been a complete injustice to the author for me to refuse it, and my initial perceptions of the book were not wrong. The technical writing is stellar. I did not see a typo anywhere. A lot of effort, editing and polishing went into this book and that is something I can appreciate both as an author and as a book reviewer.
Now, you may be wondering - Was it any good?
Yes, Alexandria - World Class Life Story by BDL is a good book. The premise is that an Olympic sprinting champion, Ruthie Sharone, is 106 years old, and she wants to write her biography before she dies. Ruthie believes deeply in God, and she regularly prays and talks to God. As a result, God has told her that she shall live long enough to see her next great-grandchild born, and she will live long enough to finish her biography, but she needs to make it happen immediately. Ruth takes those words seriously and immediately begins her quest to find a suitable biographer, who turns out to be a woman who is down on her luck, Bridgette.
The book is written as a biography, not an autobiography, so it's in third person, past tense. Readers take a trip down memory lane with Ruth. The biography starts in Ruthie's college days before she met her husband and while she was training to be a track star. During the subsequent pages, you are taken on a blow by blow of Ruth's life as it happened. You get to see all her trials and tribulations and all the trials and tribulations of those around her, and there's plenty to go around.
To spite them all being deeply religious, they all make their fair share of mistakes and how they resolve the mistakes, disagreements, all-out fights and even interpersonal and family shockers. Through Ruth and other's recollections, you get to see her entire family and friends' lives play out on the pages.
Being that this is a Christian family drama, it's not a fast paced novel. It's a leisurely walk down memory lane. This book won't keep you on the edge of your seat with scare tactics, intense fighting or horrific external conflict. It will keep you turning the pages to see how these guys manage the chaos in their lives with the help of the Lord.
Where does it fall on the ole book rating system? It's a 4. I would say somewhere between a 3 and a 4, but there are no structural issues with it. There are no flow problems. It's going to have appeal for Christians trying to figure out how to manage the challenges in their lives, and it's going to appeal to anyone who likes deep family dramas. It's evenly paced throughout the book. You'll also get to enjoy this book for longer than a few hours. It's 760 pages. So yeah, I'm not particularly fond of this genre, and I think it's worth the read.
Riding Shotgun: And Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch – A Review
Set in 1933, Riding Shotgun by Andy Rausch has an absolutely fantastic premise. Bored with his current lifestyle and possibly marriage, Emmett Dalton, a late 1800s bank robber that was shot 23 times during his last heist decides that he wants to go out with a bang! There’s only one catch, he’s now in his senior years and the rest of the Emmett Dalton Gang has long since died via the authorities or old age, and as we all know, it’s not a good idea to go robbing banks by yourself when you’re in your late 60s and 70s.
Dream of a Lifetime is a Good Solid 3 Star Book. It is a memoir of a gentleman who spent 10 years living in the Amazon with only sporadic trips back to the US. For that alone and reading about his personal experiences and the hazards of his journey, it is worth the read. It’s definitely a real account of a very interesting journey and time in this author’s life. I understand exactly why he wrote it and why it needed to be written. After all, who gets to have this experience. It really is the adventure of a lifetime, and perfect for those who want to read about the beginnings of the Yacumamma Lodge.
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