Dominic Breiter

Judson Bottom, WI

Mailman, 28. Film school dropout.

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Bravo!

I've read a few things by Malcom Twigg at this point, all very good, stylistically original and unmistakable, but this one takes the cake. This one here is obviously fit for publication and widespread mass appeal. The language is flawless and urbane, often to comic effect. The satire is never cheap or ham-fisted. This is a novel that has been fine-tuned to perfection, and I'm so glad I stumbled on it. Twigg is easily one of the most proficient writers on this site. I can assert that with confidence. Can't wait for the sequel. These are characters who deserve to be revisited.

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Buen trabajo!

This author has a way of always serving up exactly the kind of book I'm craving at the moment. It's a difficult thing to comment on current events through a work of fiction without constructing characters that aren't just pawns. The characters clearly come first for McLaughlin. They are rich with admirable and non-admirable motivations, deceit, faulty judgment, and best intentions gone awry. All the while they are pitted against the bureaucratic monolith that is American immigration policy, which has been so well researched that one really shares the anxieties of these characters and lauds them when they find artful ways to play the system.
Chuck is my favorite kind of protagonist, in that the reader often wants to scream at him out of frustration throughout the book - so much more engaging than your typical hero: an invulnerable pillar of forbearance and decency. His wife, for me, is the real linchpin of the story. Stephanie comes to life more and more as challenges big and small are hurled at her from all directions. It would've been easy to make her a sideline caricature, but McLaughlin paints her psychology and inner workings with a deft brush. She really is the force that propels the book onward. I could gush about the cast for pages.
Despite what you might think by reading the blurb, this is a character-driven rather than a plot-driven narrative, the plot serving mainly as a framework, while the mistakes and achievements of myriad players dictate how things unfold. Well worth your time if you're looking for something fresh and original, something that isn't all candy-coated escapism but poses relevant questions without ever once cramming an agenda down your throat. Realistic, balanced, and heart-wrenching. These and so many more attributes are what Broken English serves up to grand effect. Este libro supero mis expectativas.

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a feat of conjuring

It's been a long enjoyable journey reading this book. Only the first half was posted when I began and I had to wait an achingly long time for the second, but it was well worth it! I'm still an eager acolyte of the Phil Tyler books (check those out if you haven't) but this may be Litherland's greatest triumph of world building. You really hang out and spend time with these characters, following them through the gray (sorry, grey) atmosphere of this meticulously brush-stroked seaside village. The bitter wind, the smell of the sea, will stick with you for the duration of the read and probably long after. I don't like to give much away in terms of plot points in my reviews, but if you like your villains to be so complex they become chillingly humane, then this is the book for you. I started out thinking: these antagonists are so arch they seem to be pure evil. But Litherland turned that presumption on its head. This is a story about human pain, about (purely metaphorical?) ghosts, about the bonds of family and what it can do the human soul when those bonds are absent. There are so many characters, and I swear the majority of them have arcs that are both independent and interwoven. It's almost a magic trick what Barry does, thinking you're cruising at warp speed through a plot-driven page turner, only to reflect and realize that personality is what propels this book forward, the psychology and agency of its characters. Given the time, and despite its length, I easily could have devoured this book in just a few sittings, and I look forward to doing just that when I'm finally able to procure a hard copy.

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Compassionate human tale

An underdog story for the ages. This is a story that grips you from the first heart-wrenching chapter and asks all the uncomfortable questions: about society, about mental illness, about the wealth gap and corruption in our most esteemed institutions. "Under the Aurora" makes clear that anyone of us, despite our best efforts, could have the rug of destiny pulled out from under us. This is a story about people who have, and how they subsequently cope, struggle, claw their way back to the top armed with an optimism, a willpower, that is nearly impossible to maintain when everything seems to be working against them. I don't want to give away spoilers or specifics, but for all the tumult this skilled author puts you through, trust that at the end of it you will emerge more thoughtful and more in awe of your fellow man. If you've read McLaughlin before, you know what his talents are, and none of them lag in this latest manuscript. We're fortunate that he is as prolific as he is, his stories as diverse as they are, always imbued with a humanism and an all-too-relatable complexity.

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the rabbit hole deepens

New and old characters populate this third installment in Shifman's epic series. Light is shed on some of the esoterica that permeates these books, but as always, new questions are posed. There is a nice confluence of realism this time around with signature dream-like topsy-turvy spectacle. Shifman's attention to detail when it comes to the enthralling martial arts subplot will satisfy the most ardent MMA fan. He clearly takes his craft seriously and knows of what he speaks.

In perhaps the strongest opening of the series, familiar and long-separated characters from Book 1 unwittingly converge in a park. They have their children in tow. This proves to be the perfect springboard, for, without giving anything way, everyone in attendance right out the gate has a part to play in the prophecy set to unfold. We, the reader, are fed bits of revelation at a time in a maddeningly controlled manner, with just enough enigma left out of reach to keep our anticipation boiling.

If you've read Shifman before, you know this is his major gift as a storyteller. He weaves rich narrative tapestries without ever stumbling on his own ambition. And he can distinguish deftly between what the reader NEEDS to know and what they WANT to know. This book is rife with mind-bending action, imaginative heroes and supervillains, and intense human connections that will resonate with you long after the final page. Lucky for us, there's one more to go!

Check it out, you reprobates, you philistines. What in the blue hell could you possibly be waiting for??

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cosmic literary forces

From the very first chapter I was like: oh good, I'm in the capable hands of someone who can write like a motherfucker. Mea culpa: sometimes I find myself loathing certain teenage protagonists - they come off as very one-dimensional and melodramatic - but from the word go I was on Cannon's side. I KNEW this kid. He felt so damn real to me. I think all the pop culture references played some part, but mostly it was his rich inner life, so deftly portrayed by the author. You get put right in this kid's head, and it never feels artificial for a second. It's always: OF COURSE that's what he's thinking right now, OF COURSE that's what he's feeling. He keeps such a charming sense of humor even in the face of a wretched home life, but there is nothing maudlin about it. This isn't really an "overcoming adversity" book. In fact, I was pretty shocked by what the book became, but in an entirely positive way. A story well told is all I'm here for, and that's what I got. The pacing is great. The characters are allowed to just vamp off each other and kick it and do normal everyday things, without rushing from one harrowing plot point to the next, There is serious maturity, style, grace, and a well-attuned eye and ear at work here. All the key ingredients for an author whose career will be worth keeping tabs on. It would be a sin if J.M. Wendel ever quit writing, and I choose that word deliberately.

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