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The Hangman's Replacement: Sprout of Disruption: 1
Taona Dumisani Chiveneko
Sea Creatures - Susanna Daniel This is largely a book that hinges on the wide variety of emotions that are involved in parenthood and marriage. I can’t relate on that level (for not having the proper life experiences) but I was able to appreciate the honesty of the emotions and the quality of the storytelling.

The tone was very conversational. One could believe that you were listening to the narrator telling this story from her own experience, which makes feeling empathetic unavoidable. This was complemented by the overall flow. The story was often interrupted by some anecdote from her past, or a quick reference to the future. There are long sections of slow introspection following by a quick succession of events which is reminiscent of the perception of time in ones memory.

Parents will be able to get into this book more easily than I did, but anyone should be captured by the story.

I won an ARC from Goodreads.

My False Evil Antinomy

My False Evil Antinomy - Greg R. Togel While a bit light on actual story telling, this book does deliver. The content is dense and interesting and seems to lend itself to multiple re-readings. A few sections dragged when I lost sight of one intricate metaphor or another, but I suppose my confusion only mirrored that of the main character's internal struggle.

Bronoff's Rules

Bronoff’s Rules - Nao  Hauser This book is billed as a comic novel (it is printed on the cover, in fact) and for the first 100 pages or so I thought I just didn’t get the joke but then every time I thought back to a conversation or event I caught myself grinning at the ridiculousness of the whole thing. The book allows you to get caught up in any of the character’s personal struggles, through their perspective, but it really shines when you take a step back and look at the events through omniscient eyes. The story easily held my attention all the way through.

What I enjoyed most was the characters. They were mostly ridiculous caricatures and they all swayed back and forth across the likability line. The author has a knack for allowing the reader to root for a character on one page, and wish them a horrible demise on the next. My emotions were a pendulum all the way through, and to me it doesn't really matter where they landed in the end because the ride was worthwhile.

On content alone, this easily deserves 4 stars, but for me the writing wasn’t enticing enough. Sometimes, I caught myself rereading a small section because I though I missed a word somewhere. Even for something that is supposed to be funny, I like to have a bit more elegance in the prose but that is more of a personal preference and I would still recommend this and would probably buy future novels by Ms. Hauser.

Staring Into the Abyss

Staring Into the Abyss - Richard   Thomas, Kraken Press, George Cotronis For me, a novel and a short story collection aren’t that different. Sure, the characters change every few pages but, in a good collection, the tone and mood draw a thread that ties everything together. The reference in the title to the famous Nietzsche quote sets the proper stage for the thread that runs through this collection.

The stories varied in subtlety and depth, but they all offered an aspect of the dark side of the human condition. This aspect of humanity on display contrasted with the prose and the word selection in a way that I’d never experienced before. I found it hauntingly, disturbingly beautiful.

I found some of the shortest stories (Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave and Amazement, for example) offered textured worlds that demonstrated a great skill in Richard Thomas for efficiency and a confidence in his readers to read between the lines. Add this to some stories with unique structures and a couple longer ones with flushed out characters and you have quite a collection.

I would happily recommend this book to anyone that was a fan of short stories, or a fan of horror but I don’t think I could drop it in anyone’s lap without a bit of a disclaimer.