Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My ABNA Pick for the Grand Prize

From Contest Website

I don’t know how many of you have read the brief excerpts from the five finalists’ book for this years ABNA contest. If you haven’t, you have until June 16 to cast your vote.

I have read them all and posted a short review for the excerpt portion I read, which was about the first 15-20 pages of each manuscript. I always like to see what other authors are writing and take a stab at guessing the winner/winners. I haven’t been right yet, of course, but we all have a different taste in books.

Regardless, the five finalists are all winners in the contest this year. As I stated earlier, the rules have changed again. Instead of two winners (one in the adult fiction and one in Y/A fiction), the administrators decided to have five categories. I don’t know if this will continue in future contests.

The five finalists are:

Ken Moraff – General Fiction – It Happened in Wisconsin

Jo Chumas – Mystery/Thriller – The Hidden

Evelyn Pryce – Romance – A Man Above Reproach

J. Lincoln Fenn – Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Poe

Rysa Walker – Y/A fiction – Timebound

Here are my brief reviews:

It Happened in Wisconsin (general fiction) didn’t interest me, but it isn’t the worst of the finalists.

This book didn’t draw me in. I think this story is about an old man telling the story of his youth when he played baseball. Descriptions of riding on the team bus are well done and vivid. There is very little dialogue in the first fifteen pages. This book could benefit from some, as well as something gripping to draw the reader in. I gave it three stars.

The Hidden (mystery/thriller) takes place in Cairo and that is about all I got from the excerpt I read.

A woman’s husband, who was a professor, is murdered. We go from the dead professor’s wife coming to the school to pick up a package from the dean to a ruthless high-ranking official who is the King’s advisor and has a threat against his life.

I love mysteries, but this didn’t do it for me. It was confusing and there wasn’t enough in the excerpt to interest me. I gave it two stars because if I can’t get interested in the first fifteen pages, I probably won’t read the book.

A Man above Reproach was engaging from the beginning and I’m not a romance reader.

A Duke finds a perfect match in a whorehouse, the Sleeping Dove run my Mother Superior, when a friend drags him there one evening. Bawdy Bluestocking, or BB, as the patrons call her, plays piano for income and is not one of the “ladies of the night.” She is clearly not in his class and I can see where this story is going, but I really liked this one. The characters are interesting and it left me wanting to read more. In my opinion, this is a close contender for the big winner of this year’s ABNA, so I gave it five stars.

Poe is the Sci-Fi Fantasy winner of this year’s contest.

This author uses an interesting concept to write an engaging story. Poe is about an Obit writer, Dimitri, who works for a small newspaper in Alaska. What a turn of fate for a young man when most of the population is over 65, but he has to support himself after his parents lose their lives in an accident, and he flunks out of college, although he wonders if it’s the right decision, thinking he should have taken a fishing job instead.

The other workers at the newspaper play practical jokes on him daily. The writer’s description of them is comical and well done. The reader gets the picture that they are no gift to humanity, each with their own issues. Perhaps that is why they tease Dimitri excessively.

Dimitri has a twisted sense of humor, but then to make an obituary column interesting, you would have to be an extraordinary person. In a twist, due to some unusual developments, he gets a haunted house assignment on Halloween. Is this his big break with the newspaper, to show he can write more than the obituary columns?

This short excerpt left me wanting to read more. The characters are quirky and interesting. The writer drew me into this story right away. In my opinion, this is a strong contender to win this year’s big prize in the ABNA, so I gave it five stars.

Timebound (Y/A fiction) gets four stars because it is interesting, but a typical fantasy story.

A teenage girl, Kate, meets her estranged grandmother for the first time at lunch that the grandmother arranges because she wants to get to know her granddaughter. The grandmother, who says, “Call me Katherine,” is psychic and finds out she is dying of a brain tumor. She wants to give her mysterious blue medallion to Kate.

Kate spends time with each of her parents because they are divorced. Her mother hates her mother (the grandmother) who actually gets along better with the ex-husband than her own daughter. The ex-husband helps Katherine buy a house in the same town and near the school, so she can get to know Kate in the time she has left. This is good story with likeable characters. I would keep reading, even though I know where it’s going.

It is hard to decide between the romance and the fantasy story because I would read both books. I think one of these will get the grand prize of $50,000 as an advance, along with a publishing contract. The other four will get a publishing contract and a $10,000 advance.
If you don’t have a kindle device, get your free kindle for PC here:

Go here to cast your vote and to download the excerpts to read:


nutschell said...

All of them have very intriguing premises. Congrats to the winners!

Lorraine Reguly said...

Thanks for this post; it's given me something to consider when I am approached to do a review - like restricting it to 20 pages! :)

Sunni said...


Thanks for reading and commenting. Each book is unique and has something for every readers taste in books. These are all winners for making it this far in the contest.


Sunni said...

Hi Lorraine,

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. My book reviews are not usually this much of a summary.

They are a page at least, sometimes two when I post book reviews on Amazon, but I didn't want to get too carried away here on the blog. Besides that, there is only so much you can say about the first 15-20 pages of a book.