Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

A CROWDED HEART by Andrea McKenzie Raine is a clear work of historical fiction focusing on an emotional soldier who is coming to terms with his past. Digging into the novel, I was pleased with the engaging writing. The very first scene of the book is inviting and the reader gets to understand the main character, Willis, in a positive light with his sense of humor. The structure of the novel is quite different than others. The author decided to introduce each character with the bold headline of the character’s name. When we get to SAM, I was interested in this complicated character as well, but wondered why the author decided to present him and other characters following him in this way. It was distracting to me. There was too much information at once. For ELLIE, the love to Willis’s life – the romance there was on the surface and I’d wish for the author to dig a little deeper with the romantic elements. I liked the letters, but it felt too redundant. I wanted something different – I wanted something at stake other than Willis’ emotional state. We needed something more concrete to set off the story. Overall, the author is talented – her prose are well-done, her dialogue is natural, yet the story didn’t speak to me as much as it should have. Willis’s personal goals were not enough for me to feel fully invested in the story line. The package of the book is attractive, with a beautiful cover image and nice layout for the back cover copy. The author has potential, so I will keep my eye out for her next work.

Judge, 3rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published eBook Awards

Turnstiles is a character-driven novel featuring three main characters and their own personal journeys. The novel presents with a simple train tracks type picture. It is really more symbolic of the paths in life than it is really visually appealing.

But the story itself is very enjoyable. I am a little concerned about the pacing issues. It reads a little slow and long in places. My recommendation would be a professional developmental edit which could help with the narrative prose bog downs.

The plot is a little weak in parts, but the characters are well developed and ultimately make for an enjoyable read. The author has a great voice and there were times when I found myself lost in the storytelling. Nice job there.

I think that the author has a real message here I only hope it doesn’t get lost in the mix.

On the technical side, things are mostly well done. No huge editorial issues. Just some minor punctuation problems, incorrect dialogue tags, and overuse of adverbs. These could be easily cleaned up on a quick re-edit.

The novel is a nice production and an entertaining entry. Thank you for sharing your characters and their world with us.