Free Book Review – Abducted: Escape from Kraile

Abducted - Escape From Kraile (Abducted Series #1)Abducted – Escape From Kraile by J.R. Cleveland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

J. R. Cleveland’s Abducted Series features a teenage boy (Luke) taken on an adventure spanning the unknown alien infested galaxy. I immediately downloaded this free book when I read the first line of the product description about Luke discovering aliens trying to milk a cow in his barn. I knew I would be in for a quirky, fun and funny adventure. Did it deliver?

What I liked about the book:
1. The world-building was excellent. I loved the way the aliens talked as well as the gestures used to give the story an alien quality. The locations were also varied and interesting.
2. I liked that the Luke was in almost constant danger. It helped the plot move even when there were plot issues.
3. The main character’s voice was unique and good.
4. The editing and prose were without fault. There were no typos or weird syntax issues tripping up the reading experience.

What I think would’ve made it better.
1. The pacing was off. The end of Act 1 came very early in the story, which lead to the fact that…
2. Even though Luke was on a mission to save his parents at the beginning of Act 2, I felt zero empathy for his situation because it was never established that his parents being gone had brought distress to his life. Act 1 could have been bolstered to give us more background and help us care more.
3. [SPOILER] Luke as a main character didn’t seem to have a character arc. While he is the protagonist of the story, he does very little and even himself says at the end of the book that Leonidas and Simon are the real superheros. And they were…they did basically everything.
4. While Luke was in danger, there was one instance that, as far as I can tell, had no impact on the plot whatsoever. He gets lost and captured only to get rescued and then the plot resumes. Maybe it’s a plant for the next book in the series, but even if that’s true, it needed a better integration with the plot of this story.

Final Analysis:
I actually liked this book more than I have a right to. The writing was fluid and fun, as were many of the concepts. I think I read it more for the fun and interesting world-building rather than the plot. And unfortunately, the plot and character arc take a back seat. I still recommend it to people who enjoy the genre or are just interested in spending some time in an alien world.

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Up In Smoke – Book Review

Up In Smoke (Hart of the Smokies Book 1)Up In Smoke by Chanacee Ruth-Killgore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruth-Killgore’s cozy whodunit takes aim in small-town America where everyone knows everyone’s secrets, until the death of the community-beloved owner of the camp-grounds is discovered to have been a murder.

Abigail Hart returns to bury her Uncle only to find that things are not as they seem. She’s aided by many friends, but not everyone has her best interests at heart.

What worked:
The small-town atmosphere was inhalably realized. The town had its quirky personalities, history, and a great deal of funny stories shared between the characters.

Abigail (Abby) as a protagonist was relatable and easy to get behind.

The prose was smooth and had a great balance between description and narrative. Never once did I get tripped up reading the book.

Important in any whodunit is the list of suspects. Early on in the book, I thought I had pegged the correct killer. I was both pleased and displeased to have gotten it wrong in the end.

What I would’ve liked more:
The pacing felt staggered to me at times. That said, at about the halfway mark, things moved at an energetic and enjoyable pace.

Abby as a protagonist was easy to relate to, but ended up being a little generic. I would’ve liked to see her conflicting with more of the characters in the story to draw out her defined edges a little more.

The list of suspects in whodunits usually stand out clearly since it is usually shown that many different people all had motive (and opportunity) for the crime. This book didn’t follow that genre cliché (whether intentionally or not on the author’s part, I’m not sure) and it left me guessing not only whodunit, but whydunit. Perhaps that was intentional, but it left me feeling a little too much in the dark. Perhaps re-reading the book will prove this point moot, but I can only go with what I’ve done so far.

Final Analysis:
A fun, cozy murder mystery. Well-written with a few pacing hiccups. A whodunit that does set up some good red-herrings (which actually got me), and an unconventional twist on the genre formula (I’ll let you decide how you like that).

4/5 Stars – Recommended for fans of the Genre and non-Genre readers to whom the setting/style appeals.

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