Tag Archives: genre fiction

The Archivist by V.S. Nelson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

The last Archivist who sells his services as a soul harvester to others in order to preserve their dying loved ones finds himself embroiled in a deadly plot after a teenage boy tricks him into murder, and as a suicidal cult dies at his feet, an ancient power begins to hunt him down in author V.S. Nelson’s “The Archivist”.

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The Synopsis

Death is not the end.

There is no God waiting for you in paradise. No afterlife where friendships severed by death are reformed and families reunited. There is only the Aether, a dimension of insatiable hunger that will possess you no matter the life you led.

Yet there is hope for a lucky few. Archivists, existing between the world of the living and the world of the dead, can offer salvation… for a price. Taking your essence in the final moments before death, they become your afterlife, allowing you to speak with those who remain.

When the last archivist is tricked into murder by troubled teenager, Sun-young Kang, he finds himself the centre of a suicidal cult that die at his feet. But there is more to these deaths than the Archivist realises. Someone is coming for him.

The Archivist may be the closest thing to a god that walks the Earth, but is that enough to keep those he cares about safe?

The Archivist is an incredibly rich novel with a truly original concept. It is cinematic in its scope and details the haunting, but also beautiful, gift an archivist could offer a person in their final moments.

The Review

This was such a brilliant and unique read. The author did an incredible job of crafting a mythos and world that felt both alive and new in its identity. The emotional depth of the narrative was greatly felt, as readers felt the character’s struggles with loss and the concept of death and the afterlife as a whole. The heavy atmosphere and tension that came with that reality were both relatable and original in their delivery. 

The character arcs of this narrative and how they played into the evolving mythos surrounding the Aether and the Archivists were incredible to watch. The complexity of the Archivist itself and how it holds so many other essences within itself while maintaining some sort of autonomy was so thought-provoking and unique. Yet it was the emotional toll of the families and those living within the Archivist in death that really drove the heart of this narrative home.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thoughtful, author V.S. Nelson’s “The Archivist” is a must-read novel o 2022. The growing mythology of the Aether and the Archivists was so creative and unique in its development, and the imagery the author used in their writing was both beautiful and chilling, depending on the moment in the book the reader was reading. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today. 

Rating: 10/10 

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About the Author

V S Nelson writes unconventional middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction and supernatural stories for readers who enjoy something a little strange.

Their first story was The Keeper of Portals, a middle grade fantasy/sci-fi with plenty of portal jumping and time slipping. Their second story, The Archivist, is a young adult dark fantasy all about death and what happens after.

V S Nelson loves big ideas, fantastical concepts and stories that unsettle the reader and set them thinking about something new.

V S Nelson lives in Winchester with their other half, two children and three cats. When not writing, they’re either working as a theoretical physicist or building Lego.

https://vsnelson.com/

Lucky Ride by Terry Tierney

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A man looking for a fresh start after his wife’s affair finds himself on a wild ride of discovery across America during the Vietnam War era in author Terry Tierney’s “Lucky Ride”.

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The Synopsis

Set in the Vietnam era, Lucky Ride tells the story of a recent veteran, an unraveling marriage, and a hitchhiking trip steeped in hippie optimism, post-war skepticism, and drug-induced fantasy 

When his friend Rick shows up in Binghamton, New York, with an interstate weed delivery, Flash jumps at the chance to escape his wife Ronnie’s affair with her middle-aged boss. Joining Rick on a speed-fueled drive to Fort Worth, Flash dodges a highway stalker and recalls his military service on Adak, a desolate cold war outpost where Seabees bravely defended their country with marijuana and LSD. Hitchhiking west from Fort Worth, Flash confronts Texas Rangers, amorous witches, armed felons, and good Samaritans, all offering advice and misdirection. But his dreams of starting fresh in California recede like a spent wave, his money gone and no chance of a job. Ronnie offers reconciliation and Flash must decide how much he still trusts the seductive pull of the irresistible campus radical he married before the draft descended on their lives.

The Review

The author did a truly wonderful job of capturing the uncertainty and chaos of the Vietnam War era in the United States of America. The drug culture and the impact the war had on veterans, in particular, were looked at extensively, and the very natural pacing of the novel’s events was perfectly timed, not feeling too rushed or overextended in its delivery. 

The novel itself was definitely very character-driven. The protagonist in particular represented the confusion and soul-searching that so many people undertook in that era. The age of hitchhiking and travel along America’s highways showed both the main character’s experiences and emotional development throughout the narrative but highlighted how the highways themselves almost became characters in the story, the settings so vital and so detailed that readers could almost feel the atmosphere the author was developing throughout the narrative.

The Verdict

Personal, heartfelt, and entertaining, author Terry Tierney’s “Lucky Ride” is a brilliant and captivating read. The exploration of self-discovery, relationships, and the impact of war on those vets and their loved ones in the wake of the Vietnam War was an inspired road to explore in this novel and gave readers a protagonist and narrative to really sink their teeth into and feel compelled forward into the author’s world he developed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Terry was born in South Dakota and raised in Minneapolis and Cleveland. After serving in the Seabees, he received a BA and MA in English from Binghamton University and a PhD in Victorian Literature from Emory University. He taught college composition and creative writing, and he later survived several Silicon Valley startups as a software engineering manager. His stories and poems have appeared in over forty literary magazines, and his novel Lucky Ride, an irreverent Vietnam era road novel, will be published by Unsolicited Press in 2022. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, a Librarian from the University of California, their son, and their goofy Golden Retriever. Terry’s website is http://terrytierney.com.

Purchase Links

https://www.unsolicitedpress.com/store/p285/luckyride.html

https://bookshop.org/books/lucky-ride-9781950730933

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lucky-ride-terry-tierney/1139820900

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1122846

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/poetsgarage/

Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music by Patrick R.F. Blakley Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young middle school kid struggling both academically and at home finds himself a new family when he is asked to join the high school marching band, and discovers more about himself than he thought possible in author Patrick R.F. Blakley’s “Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music”.

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The Synopsis

Drummond is tasked with joining his high school marching band’s drumline and needs to find himself to succeed. You, like Drummond, might find yourself overthinking your life, or sometimes struggle to understand what you want to do with your future. The book is about figuring out who we are inside, then learning how to fit in. Drummond grapples and second-guesses himself throughout the book, but dealing with outside factors isn’t easy! Finding some unexpected help along the way guides him into his role in the band, and in life. When family life outside of the band gets dark, Drummond needs to fit into his new family within the marching band!

The Review

This was such a brilliantly written and captivating YA Genre Fiction read! The author expertly crafted a relatable and genuine narrative that felt alive on the page, and the imagery and tone the author captured ranged from the desolate to the passionate depending on the protagonist’s environment and mood. The themes of finding a community to belong to, nurturing one’s gift, and seeking family in the face of chaotic home life all played a central role in the protagonist’s narrative. 

The character growth was the heart and passion of the story in this book. The balance the author struck between Drummond’s turbulent and struggle of home life with the newfound passion and inspiration he finds, (as well as a new family), in his life in the marching band. The attention to detail the author puts into the actual percussions of the book and Drummond’s lessons in the marching band will ring a special note with music enthusiasts, and the nuanced way the author explores family dynamics will be widely felt in this reading.

The Verdict

Engaging, thought-provoking, and a special rhythm all its own, author Patrick R.F. Blakley’s “Drummond: Learning to find himself in the music” is a must-read YA Genre Fiction novel! The author’s own personal background in percussions and the origins of this story resting in the author’s previous children’s book make this story shine so much more brightly, and the personal touches the author puts on the narrative, as well as the emotional connection readers will form with Drummond, make this such an incredibly moving read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Patrick R. F. Blakley is a SAMMY award-winning percussionist from Syracuse, New York. He is a music judge for the New York State Field Band Conference and participated in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018! Patrick has written two technical marching percussion books and also a children’s book called Drummy Drum Joins Marchy Band. The children’s book inspired his Drummond novel, which explores the question of why a drum would join the marching band in the first place. As it turns out, the drum was just a projection of his inner-self and Drummond had to find out who he really was inside! Drummond then uses that newfound information to try to fit in and connect with his new family!

Moss by Joe Pace Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After his father passes away, a struggling writer who spent his life in his successful father’s shadow finds his late dad’s unpublished work, and must struggle with whether to use it to launch his own career while learning more about his father’s past in author Joe Pace’s “Moss”.

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The Synopsis 

Isaiah Moss was one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. His illegitimate son Oscar Kendall wasn’t. Living in Isaiah’s inescapable shadow, Oscar has become an inveterate quitter who hides his own literary work from the world rather than suffer the pain of failure or rejection.

But when Isaiah suddenly dies, Oscar inherits the old man’s lakefront writing cabin in New Hampshire. There he finds his father’s typewriter, a full liquor cabinet, and an unpublished manuscript of such genius that it could launch Oscar’s career if he claims it as his own.

But as Oscar wrestles with his own twisted inspirations, he meets the women in Isaiah’s life and begins to learn the depths of his father’s secrets…and the costs that come with unresolved trauma and romantic delusion.

The Review

This was a truly profound and moving read. The author did an incredible job of crafting a character-driven narrative that excelled in the most personal and intimate of ways. The emotional pull of the narrative and the honesty in which the author crafted these characters was both relatable and yet mesmerizing to behold, especially with main characters Oscar and May, who each hold a past of hardships and struggles in their own right.

There were quite a lot of truly memorable themes in this story, but two of the ones that stood out the most were the complexity of loss and the legacy of war. These themes were profound as they reflected Oscar and May’s individual journeys perfectly. The heartbreaking reality of Oscar’s non-existent relationship with his late father and the path he must walk to find empathy and understanding for others who are suffering is felt strongly, while May’s experiences with the war and how it has impacted her not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well are greatly explored and keep an honest dialogue going within the reader throughout the narrative.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, poetic, and engaging, author Joe Pace’s “Moss” is a must-read novel. The intense and layered struggles that we as humans face and the way in which we relate to one another are thoroughly explored in this narrative, and the heart of the narrative focuses on connections and how we engage with one another despite past experiences or traumas made this such a moving read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Joe Pace is a writer of literary and science fiction. He studied political science and history at the University of New Hampshire, and his writing reflects his ongoing academic and practical interest in both.

Joe has also served in elective office, taught American history, and worked in business banking. His assorted interests include comic books, pickup basketball, Greek mythology, and the occasional marathon. He was elected student body president as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire and then served nine years on the Select Board in Exeter. After coming up short in a bid for New Hampshire’s Executive Council, he returned to municipal governance as a Selectman in his new hometown of Kensington. 

As a storyteller, he seeks to weave memorable characters and places with unforgettable stories that speak to the human condition. His literary inspirations include John Irving, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Patrick O’Brian. He’s also an unapologetic Star Trek, Marvel, and West Wing guy. 


Joe was born and raised in seacoast New Hampshire and still calls it home with his wife, Sarah, their sons Bobby and Xavier, and their dopey dogs Sam and Joy.

https://www.joepacewritehouse.com/

The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young teacher reeling from the loss of her parents a decade before finds herself in an unusual friendship with one of her students, and travels to Sweden during the summer to experience the Midsummer’s Eve, and in the process discovers a dark side to her student in author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun”. 

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The Synopsis

A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve.

“Memorable and meaningful.”—Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well-liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that feels to Lauren like she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.

When Siri invites her along on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: “Everything will be green, fresh, new, just thawing out.” But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.

Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the relationships that come to us when things feel darkest–and the transformative power of female friendship.

The Review

A truly powerful and gripping tale of friendship, loss, and grief, author Diane Zinna has crafted a masterful and emotional novel. The protagonist perfectly captures the raw and heartbreaking reality of losing one’s parents and the feeling of loneliness and heartbreak that comes from it. The whirlwind friendship she develops with Siri and the sudden connection she develops with Siri’s brother Magnus helps to lay the foundation for the shocking and crumbling world Lauren has built herself, and how grief can block us from the world as it moves on without us.

Yet it was the balance of atmosphere and culture that really grabbed my attention as a reader. The setting not only of Sweden but of the events of Midsommar added so much history and culture to not only the narrative but the character’s backgrounds, while the atmosphere and the blend of quick friendship with sudden isolation really captured the fragility that grief can create in us all, especially when trauma begins to block out memories along the way.

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and heartfelt story of painful losses and the path to finding hope and friendship again, author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun” is a must-read novel! That author does an incredible job of capturing the heart and soul of the protagonist’s internal struggle while layering a mystery behind the fate of the young woman who brought Lauren back out of her grief into the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught creative writing for over ten years. She was formerly the executive co-director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts the largest literary conference in North America each year. In 2014, Diane created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. Diane also has a degree in Psychology and leads a popular grief writing class every Sunday for writers of all levels of experience.

The All-Night Sun, her first novel, was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. In 2020, Diane received the ArtsFairfax Artist Grant, and her work appeared at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, and Monkeybicycle. Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. 

http://dianezinna.com/

https://www.instagram.com/dianezinna/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-all-night-sun-by-diane-zinna