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General Fiction

  • Beside the Music

    by BJ Knapp

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot: This novel is skillfully plotted and well paced. It's a book that readers won't want to put down.

    Prose: The prose is smooth and conversational, featuring subtle humor, great turns of phrase, and a contemporary voice.

    Originality: There are plenty of books about crumbling marriages, but this one is unique thanks to the original characters and winning premise, which the author somehow makes believable.

    Character Development: All of the characters are distinct and feature realistic flaws and qualities. Brenda and Tim's interactions are authentic, with all the tics and quirks of a marriage. The rock band characters are also exceptionally well portrayed.

    Blurb: Knapp turns the potential tragedy of a troubled marriage into smart satire. Rock groupies ranging from tame to obsessed will have a great time indulging in this fantasy of an idol sleeping in the guest bed.

  • Infants of the Brush: A Chimney Sweep's Story

    by A. M. Watson

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot: The novel is well paced and skillfully plotted with gripping moments of tension.The climax will capture readers as completely as the sense of bittersweet relief at the end.

    Prose: This prose is utterly engaging, straightforward, and rhythmic—featuring excellent descriptions of people and places.

    Originality: Although this book features a classical Dickensian theme and voice, the story feels original and unique.

    Character Development: The characters superbly developed, vivid, and realistic.

    Blurb: Watson's winning novel inspires compassion for these small boys, and relief that England's age of forced child labor has passed.

  • A Clean Death

    by Adriaan Verheul

    Rating: 8.00

    Plot: The story unfolds at a steady pace, but some subplots could be tightened to improve the pacing. Extraneous details also slow the narrative down.

    Prose: The prose is sound, though there are some grammatical issues that could be addressed. Also, the writing could be tightened significantly to remove unnecessary words that detract from the narrative flow and overall story.

    Originality: Though the general premise may be familiar to some readers, the storyline of this work is highly original and will expose readers to an unfamiliar world.

    Character Development: The author does a solid job with character development. Oliver and Davey are well drawn and vivid, as is Captain Christmas, though he can be over the top at times.

  • The Brotherhood of the Black Flag

    by Ian Nathaniel Cohen

    Rating: 7.00

    Plot: Cohen delivers a solid, compelling, and briskly paced story that blends adventure and romance within a rich historical setting.

    Prose: The author layers his clear and engaging prose with historically resonant detail.

    Originality: The narrative is evocative of classic adventure stories; the story's freshness arises from its attention to detail and historical verisimilitude.

    Character Development: Cohen writes characters with agency and grit. Heroes and villains both maintain a degree of moral complexity.