The Beauty of the #Book Review

Sometimes a reader truly ‘gets’ our work. Even less rarely, that reader takes the trouble to express their admiration and understanding of the piece by posting a review. This common situation is even more true of authors, like me, who tackle controversial themes in their books.

Since April of this year, I’ve been posting daily pictures of natural beauty. This started quite innocently as a way to bring some joy in the natural world to those people confined indoors through the Covid pandemic. It quickly became a commitment to post each day until the situation is under control. As a result, I’ve made new contacts and some new friends from all over the world. One of these was a lovely woman from America, who often commented on the pictures. Over time, we held conversations on the comment thread under the posts, and got to know each other. Inevitably, this led to questions about my work as an author and I made suggestions about what might appeal to Joni.

Cut a lengthy story short, she and her partner read my scifi novella, The Methuselah Strain, loved it, and more importantly, understood it. Her brilliant review is attached below.

I want to thank her publicly for making the effort to express her enjoyment of the read in such insightful terms. As writers, we spend huge amounts of time bringing our best to the reading world (let’s ignore those money-focussed writers who churn out formulaic and often poorly edited standard stories that are so frequently the same tale with only the names changed). We invest enormous amounts of emotional energy, vicariously living the lives of our many characters to make them live on the page, conducting research into our subject both academically and, sometimes, physically to achieve authenticity. We neglect our loved ones, spending time bashing the keyboard or trailing ink over paper. And we spend money we don’t have on devices, books, memberships, and subscriptions all aimed at improving our craft.

So, it’s with eternal gratitude we receive a thoughtful review that understands our work and rewards our efforts. Thank you, Joni.

The review:

‘Joni Caggiano

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent writing, amazing characters, and a dystopian novella that is too close for comfort!

Reviewed in the United States on 30 November 2020

Verified Purchase

Stuart Aken’s “The Methuselah Strain” is a dystopian novella that brings a formidable look into the potential and not so shocking future for humanity. The writer has done his research, and without making far-reaching changes in how we value our environment and life in 2020, the world that the author creates is easy to imagine.

All of the individuals are well characterized and are not only thought-provoking and engaging but fit a logical glimpse into the distant future based on the state of advanced genetic engineering and robotic technology today. This society reduces the remaining population to an unproductive, discontented, and unhealthy civilization that idolizes materialism and physical addiction.

Now fast forward a century or so and get ready for an exhilarating ride. The two main characters, Luce and Randal, put us into the thick of things very quickly in this fast-moving, and at times, downright hilarious read. Luce is my favorite new modernistic hero. She and Randal are exceptionally enhanced humans from the first and second generations of The Methuselah Strain.

Technological advances create a beautiful human that ages slowly and may live for hundreds of years. Luce’s advancements give her a quick wit, a mind-boggling beauty, and an intelligence that makes it impossible for an android to meet her emotional and inquisitive needs. She is a renegade who lives rough, spending years searching for human companionship, which she finds in the most unusual place.

After a heartbreaking betrayal from Randal and a brilliantly constructed and unexpected ending, the book will leave the reader with their mouth wide open. The Methuselah Strain is a five-star novella that one can truly enjoy and learn that the pursuit of better technology and materialism does not necessarily make for a happier society. It can also cause one to laugh out loud and leave you smiling and wanting to read this writer’s next book.’


Obviously, writers don’t expect readers to review their work, and certainly wouldn’t anticipate a review of this quality and length. Basically, any review of a book is a ‘good’ thing for writing and reading in general, as it gets information to those seeking it.

Should you feel inclined to write a review of a book you’ve read (I review everything I read, as a quick ‘search’ of this site will testify), but are unsure how to go about it, pop over to my ‘Resources’ page and scroll a short way down to the ‘For Readers’ section, where you’ll find information about a place you can find a complete guide.

Finally, if Joni’s review has whetted your appetite for the book itself, you can find more information here by scrolling down to the section dealing with The Methuselah Strain. If you simply want to buy the book, get the digital version here from your local Amazon store, or better, either the eBook or the hardback direct from Fantastic Books Publishing, the publisher, here.

8 thoughts on “The Beauty of the #Book Review

  1. Reblogged this on SherrieMiranda1 and commented:
    Yup! Every now & then someone totally gets your work. In my case, someone sent me directly a 3 page critique that I loved. I am now trying to help him find a place to send it.
    “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
    Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Darlene. It’s not the first, but it was so insightful and that made it stand out. And you’re right: such appreciation does make all the effort worthwhile.

      Liked by 2 people

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