Book Reviews

Book of the Month: The Lost Artist (Part 1)

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of November: The Lost Artist Part 1

Author: Eric Houston

 

Brief Summary

“You may not know this, but your father is very famous in Israel.” When Eric Houston read these words in an e-mail from a stranger, his life was forever altered. After a fifty-year search for the illustrator of the bestselling Israeli children’s book, And There Was Evening, a researcher at IBM Israel had discovered that the artist was Eric’s father, Fred Hausman. Eric knew that his father had been the highest decorated WWII Palestinian soldier in the British Army, but was unaware that he was also a celebrated artist.” (excerpt from publisher)

The story of Fritz “Fred” Hausman, written after his death by his son Eric Houston, is a thrilling story filled with enough facts to satisfy a historian and enough intrigue to appeal to the laziest of readers. The story is split into two narrative perspectives, one follows the past life of Fritz “Fred” Hausman, a German-born Jew, who leaves his home for Palestine as a boy and later fights against Nazi-tyranny as a man. The other perspective follows the present life of Elinat, a woman with reoccurring cancer, who is desperate to find the artist behind her favorite children’s story. Perhaps if she is able to find him, she will be able to find meaning in her own life.

The last third of this book is a collection of actual, factual email correspondence between Eric Houston and others (including Angela Entwistle, a representative for Lord Ashcroft, a detective, and more) as he attempts to reclaim his father’s stolen medals. Fritz “Fred” Hausman received the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM),  Israel’s most important WWII medal, for services rendered in the war. However, before his son (Eric) could collect these medals on Fritz’s behalf, they were stolen and, through a series of auctions, ended up in Lord Ashcroft’s possession who refuses to return them to this day.

The entire purpose of this book is to bring light to the heroic deeds of one man who saved hundreds and the travesty of his stolen medals. As such, in Eric’s own words, “All proceeds from “The Lost Artist” will go to returning medals stolen from within the British Ministry of Defense to their rightful owners.”

Review & Star Rating

 

The Lost Artist receives 5-stars due to its dedication to reality while successfully weaving an exciting narrative. Facts are never exchanged for fiction for the sake of plot. Rather, sub stories intertwine with major plot points naturally, as they occurred in history. I might have actually learned more about that time period from reading Eric Houston’s book than I ever did from any of my history classes combined. Secondly, the love and admiration that Eric has for his father is evident throughout the narrator’s tone in his depiction of Fritz “Fred” Hausman.

The minor plot line concerning the modern-day Elinat was interesting, although I would admit that I was a tad bit disappointed where the book ended. Indeed, this book was nearly rated at 3 stars due to a disappointing ending. However, in realizing that this is only Part 1 and that Eric Houston is working on a Part 2, the cliff hanger seems more natural. I will warn future readers though, do not expect to have all of your questions answered. I believe we will be waiting on answers for as long as Eric is waiting for justice for his father’s medals.

Recommendations

I highly recommend this book to any historian or lover of the WWII time period. This is an exciting adventure with a fresh outlook on a well-discussed world event with new insights. I highly recommend this book to even those without historical or WWII leanings. While you may have to skim over a few paragraphs brimming with historical facts and data, I do believe you will find that the rest of the narrative is highly entertaining and captivating.

I am eagerly awaiting Part 2 where hopefully all of my questions will be answered and Fritz “Fred” Hausman will receive the recognition that he deserves.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “A Handful of Might”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of October: A Handful of Might

Author: Joel Green

A Handful of Might

Brief Summary

Blake Drysdale is an aviator, smuggler, and an ex-pilot for the Royal Air Force. Drysdale’s crew consists of Sally, the female African-American pilot who deserted the U.S. air force, Anton, the Ukrainion national who provides any and all brute force necessary, and Felix “the Cat,” an American master forger. Needless to say, there is more to Blake Drysdale and his crew than initially meets the eye. What starts off as a simple smuggling job, sixteen million dollars worth of gold, turns into an all-out thrill ride that encompasses past, present, and future.

Set at the end of the Vietnam war, Drysdale and his crew race against the U.S.A.’s C.I.A. department and the Soviet Union in a desperate attempt to see who will recover the mysterious Doktor Meier and his secret Nazi weapon first. Along the way, Drysdale and his crew become involved in something much bigger than gold and wealth; their actions will determine the safety of the whole world.

Review & Star Rating

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This is the first five-star review that I have given and it is well-deserved. This is the type of book that I could not put down and once I finished, I picked it up and read it again! Joel Green presents realistic and appealing characters. Every character, from major to minor, feels unique and organic. Readers will not be able to help themselves as they fall in love with Drysdale and his crew who are really family more than anything else. In particular, I want to highlight Green’s character “Sally” who breaks stereotypes and lives life according to her own dang rules.

Green is even able to put in some romantic tension without the plot becoming soppy or deviating from its purpose. A Handful of Might is a race from start to finish. There is no down-time so readers are compelled to keep reading, pushing past every twist and turn to finally discover the truth. I hesitate to write more for fear that I will start giving away spoilers.

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I’ll admit, I am not a fan of cussing in books. However, every cuss word within this book felt extremely natural and realistic for the time period, setting, and action. Regardless of this, I am putting on a Reader Advisory Warning for strong and frequent language, moments of sexuality, and one graphic torture scene.

Recommendations

I highly recommend A Handful of Might to all readers 18+ (see again my Reader Advisory Warning). If you are not bothered by the language, you will love this book. It has action, suspense, romance, mystery, intrigue, humor, and did I mention, action? Seriously, it’s a great read!

Support an Author

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of September: Rebecca Steele: Chasing a Dream

Author: Joanne Patterson

Chasing a Dream

Brief Summary (*SPOILER ALERT*)

The story is set in the 1970s when main protagonist Rebecca “Becky” Steele, an airplane stewardess, is introduced to the men behind the United States Silver Eagle airshows. Becky, who is recently divorced from her husband after he disappeared one day and left her to move in with his girlfriend, is struggling. When she meets Johnny, one of the Silver Eagles, she is quickly infatuated. Led on by his advances, Becky fancies herself and Johnny to be in love. Due to her seniority, she is able to move around her work shifts and constantly schedules herself around the airshows so that she can continue to meet with Johnny and fall into his bed. She moves from the rank of “hammer” to “hole card” as she quickly becomes Johnny’s go-to-gal. That is, until she learns he has another “hole card” and that is the one he plans on marrying, not her.

Devastated by the turn of events, Becky returns home and starts to seriously pursue music. Although it takes nearly twenty years, she works hard and gets signed with a record label. It is during this time of “stardom” that Becky is reintroduced to characters like Johnny and his best mate, Mike, who has played around on the sidelines of Becky’s life. Twenty years later and Becky must decide where her heart truly lies and what love really is.

Review & Star Rating

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I will be honest. I struggled hard with the beginning of this book, not because it was poorly written but because I simply did not like the main character, Becky. What you have to understand is this, the plot is written during the “free love” of the 70s and there is a lot of sex (and women) being passed around between characters. While the author is never explicit and handles those scenes really well (hats off to Joanne Patterson for never feeling like you needed to be graphic), there were still way too many for my taste. Men used women and women used men, but women were used more. Also, Becky kept saying how “in love” she was with Johnny when really, all there seemed to be was infatuation and lust. For another reader, that might not bother you! Indeed, many readers have loved this book, so I say to each their own. For those reasons, I struggled with the first half of the book.

It is in the last third of the book where Becky has disentangled herself from the Silver Eagles that I felt like I could finally be on her side. Although she maintained some of her delusions about Johnny, you could definitely feel the maturity that she had gained. Again, I want to point out that my rating is really based on my personal taste. In general, the ending is what made the book for me. I wish that the author had hinted more about Becky’s musical talents and aspirations earlier on in the book so that they did not come out of left field in the end, but I really enjoyed that subplot.

Recommendations

For anyone who is not bothered by the “free love” of the 70s, I recommend this book. The ending really only had two options: one that would make me throw the book in frustration and one that would redeem the first half in my eyes. What was really great is this: you did not know which way it would go until the very last second. A great twist.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “The Dragonfly Whisper”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. They “gift” me their books and in return I offer up 100% honest and genuine reviews. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of August: The Dragonfly Whisper

Author: Sandra Godfrey

 

Brief Summary

The Dragonfly Whisper is Sandra Godfrey’s debut novel which is currently in the process of being published by Taylor and Seale Publishing. Therefore, this review as more of an ARC review as I was gifted with a pre-published version. The Dragonfly Whisper is a novella directed at middle school readers.

Main character, Flynn Flanders, is a young boy in fifth grade who is easily distracted and often thinks about his mom who is missing from the family unit. The morning that his science project topic is due, Flynn happens to find and catch a talking dragonfly named Dash who also recently lost his best friend. Together, the odd pair head off to school where teachers warn Flynn about his failing grades and Dash unintentionally causes more trouble. Together Flynn and Dash work together to learn more about dragonflies in an attempt to win the Science Fair and hopefully reunite Flynn’s broken family.

 

Review & Star Rating

4-star2

The first sentence really sets the scene for the entire book: “Mom’s been gone one hundred days.” Immediately, my mind asks, “Gone? Gone like she left? Gone like she’s dead?” It’s a fantastic opening line that automatically forces readers to continue reading. While we learn that Flynn’s mom is not dead, simply working out of state, we do realize that Flynn’s family unit is broken. The theme of family pops up throughout the story with Flynn, Flynn’s friend Brittany, and even Dash the dragonfly. As a children’s story, Godfrey skirts around this subject from a child’s point of view, revealing its complexities while also leaving some things unsolved (as children do not always get the answers).

Godfrey’s children’s story also deals with the hot topic of children learning disabilities. This was the only reason why I rated this book 4 out of 5 instead of 5 out of 5. Throughout the story, Flynn has an “imaginary” friend named Dash, but is he imaginary? His parents sure think so, as do his friends and his doctors. No one can hear Dash except for Flynn. Additionally, Flynn tends to see fantastical things that other children do not. The evidence would seem to support that Flynn is imagining things for the majority of the story. However, there are other elements (such as what happens at the Science Fair) that makes it seem that Dash is a sentient, talking being. Is Flynn struggling with a disability and imaging the whole thing or is it all a real fantasy? A reader could make a case for either scenario.

Godfrey’s children story is sure to entertain middle school readers. Her writing at times includes advanced words intended to benefit young learners. At the back of her book, Godfrey includes several pages of education activities intended for teachers to use with their students. The book, both fantastical and whimsical, is sure to not only captivate young audiences but to illuminate their understanding of the natural predator of the sky: dragonflies.

 

Recommendations

I highly recommend this book for young readers. While it features some tough content such as family dysfunction, it is a suitable choice for middle school readers.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews, Reviews

Book of the Month – “Poems and Haikus”

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

Book of July: Poems and Haikus

Author: BGC

 

Brief Summary

In the Author’s Note, BGC introduces her work as “personal thoughts, experiences or proses . . . [works that] reflect the human emotions by transforming words into feelings.” Following this train of thought, it is no surprise that BGC’s first poem is titled “A child’s life.” However, do not let the flower imagery at the beginning fool you. This first poem is filled with darkness, despair, and a desperate sense of wonder.

This book contains over 75 poems which topics range from: childhood memories, whimsical fiction, melancholy scenery, evolution, God,  language, Christmas and more. The length of each poem differs from one another, while some are three lines and others are the length of an entire page. BGC also ranges from using free verse or rhymed stanzas.

Review & Star Rating

2-star2

I would give this book of poetry two stars. Overall, it is a compilation of poems that do not necessarily work well together. Often times, my favorites poetry books are those that have a theme. While the poems should be different, a successful poetry book, in my opinion, should circle around a theme or idea. The separate pieces should form a whole. Additionally, there were multiple grammar and formatting issues that proved distracting from the poems.

Regardless of my above issues, BGC does have some good poems woven throughout the book. In particular, I enjoyed “Thoughts” and “United.” In the poem “Thoughts,” BGC illuminates the process through which thoughts transform into works of literature. “White sheets of paper / Filled with ink / Staining the journal / drop after drop.” Now, those are some great lines! I loved the imagery!

Other poems such as “A rat & a cat” and “A fur” were whimsical to the extreme and stuck out apart from the rest of the book in an odd way. All in all, my greatest wish is that the author had separated these many poems into certain themes or even sections within one book so as to highlight the unity of a singular idea.

 

Recommendations

For anyone who loves poetry, leaning more toward free-verse and train-of-thought, I am sure you could find enjoyment in various of BGC’s poems although you may have to sort through the different themes.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life, Book Reviews

Mail Time

So, I received two new books this week from friends and followers to review in the upcoming months!

Chasing a Dream written by Joanne Patterson is a romance novel about a young woman that falls in love with a military man at an air show.

The Lost Artist written by Eric Houston, “part history, party mystery,” circles around Fred Hausman the celebrated but unknown artist/soldier in the British arm during WWII.I sense a military theme in my upcoming reading!

Thank you to the authors who shared their works with me!

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “At the Other Side of the Sea” by J. M. Galindo

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

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Book of June: At the Other Side of the Sea

Author: J. M. Galindo

Brief Summary

In his short book, At the Other Side of the Sea written in 2004, J. M. Galindo welcomes readers into his world of poetry and dedicates his work to readers who really want to express their emotions. In the prologue, Galindo introduces, or perhaps re-familiarizes, readers with the term “free verse” as it is through this strategy that he structures his nine poems: “Driving Backwards,” “Dreaming,” “The Other Side of the Sea,” “Doubt left a Hole in My Notebook,” “The Flight,” “Loosing Today Means Winning Tomorrow,” “Welcome to Politics,” “It’s the Way People See Life,” and “Nothing But a Lie.”

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

Poetry, in my opinion, is one of the hardest areas of writing to judge because a lot of it is subjective based on the reader’s personal understanding, likes, dislikes, and insights. For me, I would rate this small collection of poems at 3 stars out of 5 due to personal preferences. By the way, my three stars mean like I like it!

Throughout the book, Galindo incorporates the first person narrative, effectively allowing the reader a window into his heart. There, readers are transported into a world that encourages reflection and endurance. The poem “At the Other Side of the Sea,” for which this book of poetry is named, holds the true essence of the speaker: a wistful hopefulness and a desire to remember and preserve the positive moments and memories of life regardless of the internal or external trials one may face.

Galindo often uses repetitious phrases or stanzas to highlight certain points within his poems. Although there were a couple grammatical errors and the poems at times seemed overly wordy, the book was an intriguing and entertaining read. One of my favorite lines comes from “It’s the Way People See It” in which the speaker writes, “Some will listen, some will not . . . You can’t force a goat to become a sheep.”

Recommendations

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys first-person narrative poetry.

At The Other Side of the Sea: Free verses for a live soul by [Galindo, J. M.]

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Book Reviews

Book of the Month – “His Personal Reich” by L. Salt

Every month, I will do my best to read and review one book (non-fiction, fiction, poetry, etc.) from an up-and-coming author. These authors are often times my friends and fellow bloggers. If you would like for me to feature your book, please see my original post on the matter here: Now Offering: Book Reviews.

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Book of May: His Personal Reich

Author: L. Salt

Brief Summary

Andrea Zissman is a simple woman alone in the world. After her mother’s death, Andrea is given instructions to empty a safety deposit box. There she discovers a marriage license (proving that her mother did indeed marry her father although her grandmother told her differently) and half a picture containing not only her father but a brother she has never known. What begins as a journey to find her family turns into an adventure that dates back to World War II and Hitler’s reign of terror. Teaming up with Leon Callais, an eccentric journalist who is also searching for Andrea’s father, the two travel to Iceland.

There the dream of family turns into a nightmare filled with Neo-Nazis and the construction of a machine called “Nothung” which can prove detrimental to the fate of the world as we know it.

Review & Star Rating

3-star2

I was so very conflicted on how to rate this novella. As an action/thriller it does not disappoint. There is non-stop action from the very beginning as the first page pulls readers in with mystery and intrigue. Between the threats of Nazis and an erupting volcano, there is a feeling that Andrea and Leon may be killed at any minute. The plot line is there with its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The story itself, or I should say the idea of the story, is fantastic!

Where it falls short is within its brevity. At 22,000 words and a little over 50 pages, there is simply not enough. The story reads more like a movie script in which relationships must be formed quickly and epiphanies must be made within 120 minutes. The relationships and conflicts between characters are filled with potential that demand at least double the page length. Due to the brevity, some moments feel forced, especially Andrea’s forgiveness at the end of the story. Additionally, while all the “key” elements are there, I wish Salt had included the in-between stuff, the sub-plots that really develop characters (showing not telling).

As far as criticism goes however, it is not the worst to hear that your readers were disappointed by the brevity and wanted more of the story.

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I will also note that there is sexually mature content in this book that is not suitable for all readers.

Recommendations

I do recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, quick read. It took me only a couple of hours to finish the book from start to finish. The plot line was intriguing, but perhaps you, like me, will wish that there had been more downtime to allow the characters to breathe.

His Personal Reich

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Reviews

Why Reviews Matter

Whether I am speaking to novice writers or veteran authors, I cannot say this enough: Reviews Matter.

Perhaps as an author, you are okay with simply self-publishing your book and putting it online, but realistically, you want people to read it. The only way that you can get more people to read your work, is if the people who have already read your work review it.

On Amazon we’ve all seen those sections underneath books that say, “Customers who viewed this item also viewed. . .” or “Sponsored products related to this item.”

Do you know that the only way to get your book to pop up on those suggested reading links is if your book gets at least 50 reviews. Here’s the cool thing though, it does not have to be 50 good reviews; it can be a mix of good, neutral, and even bad! Yes, of course, we all want the five star review, but even a one star review is helpful in gaining visibility.

Reviews = Visibility

Image result for support an author write a review

That is why I started offering book reviews a couple weeks ago and why I am pleased to announce that I will begin posting one book per month starting tomorrow as I work to support my fellow authors! I encourage you to do the same!

Pop back in tomorrow to read my review on L. Salt’s His Personal Reich.

If you are curious about having me review your latest book, please read my original post here: Now Offering — Book Reviews!

Support an Author

I also plan on sharing these reviews on my newly created GoodReads profile.

Check it out here!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blogs / Life, Book Reviews, Review, Reviews

Now Offering: Book Reviews

After getting some wonderful and insightful feedback from you amazing bloggers, I have decided to go forward with offering book reviews for up-and-coming authors.

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Do You Want a Book Review of Your Debut Novel?

  • If you are a first-time author or beginning author, I would love to read your published works and give an honest review.
  • This offer is primarily available for your DEBUT novel, even if it was written a year ago.
    • Not a new author? Shoot me an email anyway and if my load is light, I’ll still consider reviewing your book!
  • This offer is only available for published works (sorry, but I’m not currently offering a BETA reader services).
    • Your book can be self-published or traditionally published.
  • I am more likely to select a book that is a print version as opposed to PDF or files (sorry, but my eyes can’t read a whole book on a screen guys, it hurts.)
  • I am interested in all types of genres except for horror, gore, and erotica.

The Way it Works:

If you are hoping that I will review your work, please go through my Contact page and send me:

  • Your name (author pen-name is also fine)
  • The title of your book, when it was published, the length of your book in word count, and what format (traditional, self, print, electronic, etc.)
  • A short blurb about your book
  • It is the author’s responsibility to send the book to me
    • The author assumes all shipping costs
  • I will do my best to review one new book per month. Depending on the volume of requests, you may have to wait a few months.
  • Please be aware, I will be giving an HONEST REVIEW. This means that I may not love your book. However, I will always do my best to be professional and courteous in my comments!
  • Whether or not I am interested in reviewing your book, I will respond to your inquiry. Please be patient with me 😀

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I reserve the right to refuse any author and/or book based on personal preference. Please do not spam me with requests, it will only ensure that your emails get moved to my spam folder. It may take me a little while to get back to you, but I will get back to you.

If you intend to email me with a book request, feel free to drop me a comment below!

Happy Writing Everyone!