As we’re now in December and things are getting incredibly hectic here, we’re making this our last post of the year. Rather than doing a review, we’re celebrating all of the good moments we’ve had here over the last year. I’m starting first, because the blog has my name and I do the most reviews!
First up is my favourite review from Michael:
It has to be Peace Warrior, his first review on The Review Hart. There are some fantastic lines in there; it’s both funny and informative. I love it. I think I pulled out amusing quotes from this review for some three or four days!
My favourite line: “Along the way we are called upon to grip the edge of our seats as we fear for the safety of Justice as he nimbly leaps from plot hole to plot hole as if he’s playing ‘The Coherent Plot Line is Lava.’”
I will not be doing my favourite book or review for my own reviews, it’s difficult to decide and I don’t want that sort of pressure or lynching!
Michael’s book that I wish I could have stolen:
Spartanica. It just sounds hilariously bad! I know that sounds awful, but from the review it sounds like one of those movies that is so bad, it’s good. Sometimes it’s nice to read that sort of thing.
Saying that, The Holy Mark sounds like an incredible piece of literature that I will be reading as soon as I have the time to do so. That is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Rather than being hilariously bad, it’s beautifully written.
Moving away from the part we focus on and are good at, I’ll look at my favourite cover art from the year. I’m not a cover artist, but I do look at a lot of cover art, so here are my favourites!
First, I’ve chosen one from Michael’s reviews:
Vegan Vampire Vaginas. Now, the book isn’t something I’d read, but the cover is very fitting for what I perceive to be within the book. It’s a clean yet striking cover, there’s a good use of colours, and the typography pulls it all together very nicely.
Now we get my favourite covers from my reviews!
I’ve done quite a few reviews this year, so I’ve picked out quite a few covers that I like. I recommend all of these books to people quite regularly; I would make a comment about taking the time to get good cover art… but I’ll keep it to myself
The Scriptlings by Sorin Suciu. It’s interesting, and the little nutrition guide that gets added in is a stroke of genius. It makes me giggle, and it gives the reader some idea about what to expect.
The Plague by David Kraine. This one is simple but eye-catching, and it hints at some of the contents of the book without being too overt.
Murder Out of The Blue by Steve Turnbull is classic. The colours are muted and careful, and it fits the book perfectly. I like the clean lines and the way the eye is drawn in.
Assassins by R.K MacPherson is clean, striking, and grabs attention with its bold red tones. This is a very different style to the others, but in a good way.
Pay Me, Bug! by Christopher Wright is a nice piece of art, but in a very different style to Lisa Cohen’s and R.J Blain’s, both of which deserve an honourable mention. It clearly shows the main characters and gives some idea of the relationships between them.
So there we have it! We’re ending this year on a high, with some great reviews and some beautiful cover art. It’s been a fantastic year, and I look forward to reviewing more indie fiction in the New Year! Let us know your high moments, and favourites from the year.
Best Shen Review
Dear Shen’s best work was hard to pin down. With a distinctly matter-of-fact style and precision analysis, the subjective good/bad fades away to be replaced with uniform certainty. Still, she’s had her moments of particularly compelling insight and particularly incisive scrutiny, and the one that stands out is probably Hope and the Clever Man by Mike Reeves MacMillan.
Having read some of MacMillan’s other work, his prose lends itself to critical analysis, a sort of plan-perfect regularity that I can’t help but imagine made her job here easier, but we nonetheless see to the heart of things in her thoughts on the conflict in the book, the relationship between the driving force of a piece and the world in which it exists, and that glitter of notable insight sets this piece apart.
This one was a pretty easy choice, because the mixture of solid art and subtly fitting typography make the cover for Allan Houston’s Nightfall Gardens a clear winner. The clear use of convergent near-parallels leading up to the title take us from the human that first draws the eye up to the most crucial aspect, leaving us with an artistically competent, appropriately self-effacing cover that hits all the right notes.
I’d like to give honorable mention to the really pretty cover on Lisa Cohen’s Future Tense. If it weren’t for the on-the-nose unsubtlety of its character presence and some truly terrible typography, it just might have beaten out Houston’s offering, which is saying something.
This is just a really good effort on both sides, and even with that there are others that were very much in the running.
Book I’d Most Like to Steal
For the most part, the books she picks up don’t call to me. Whether that’s the books themselves or my personal tastes is up for grabs, but the point of the story is that even her most beloved books fall into the Good For What It Is file of my Useless Memories brain-subsection, and they never receive the honor of my attention.
The exception to this that sticks out is the very recent Pay Me, Bug! by Christopher Wright. With a wit and humor that comes across in her review, this book just seems to sparkle with great choices and tight workmanship. If only I had the time…
This has been a great year, and being able to stretch my muscles the way I have here and start to build something feels good. Editing is great fun, but reviewing uses those same skills in a unique way that’s less like work and more like play. I hope everyone’s enjoyed our work through the course of the year, and I look forward to giving you more of my patented blend of razor-sharp criticism and incisive prose in the year to come.
Shen stalks innocent stories down dark alleys where she dissects them, revealing the bare bones and silky threads. She is driven by the need to sate her readers’ lust, their addiction for new books to ravage. She is, the Review Hart.
Michael is the court jester in the kingdom of truth. He combines a biting sense of humor with a lifetime of editing knowledge to craft reviews that are equal parts literary critique and insult comedy. Cruelty and veracity are his image of self.
Do you want Michael to edit or review your book? Email him here!