Nothing More, Nothing Less is not just a book but a story, depicting a life of choice and consequence. Everybody has choices, but they must face what’s right and wrong to make that decision. However, deciding between right and wrong is not always easy. The simplest thing can cause one to cross the line—from doing what’s right to doing what’s wrong. Nothing More, Nothing Less was not written because I, the author, experienced what the book depicts. However, I did pull from experiences I saw as a teenager. Trials and tribulations from family members and close friends allowed me to review how one can perceive certain aspects. Awareness about drugs, alcohol, and getting mixed in with the wrong crowd is important for young adults. They need to know how it can affect them, their friends, and family. It is also important for them to realize the consequences of drugs and drug dealing. By writing Nothing More, Nothing Less, I hope to bring about some of that awareness.
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Honorable Mention: Indie
Honorable Mention: EBook
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Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 4
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Nothing More, Nothing Less by Ashley Dukart is a deeply emotional story about the life of someone entrenched in the world of drugs. Dukart does an excellent job of describing setting and the feelings of her characters without condescending or talking over the reader. Reading this book was difficult in some ways (witnessing and experiencing the characters’ pain and watching people’s lives crumble) yet easy in others (smooth flow and spot-on pacing). Anyone who has experienced drug addiction or lived with someone who has will find him or herself nodding on nearly every page. However, if someone hasn’t seen these issues firsthand, it will be a real eye opener. The scenes are graphic, so the material isn’t appropriate for a preteen or emotionally immature teenager. The dialogue is true to life and makes the characters seem real. However, there are a few dialogue tags that need work. For example, at the bottom of page 10, it isn’t necessary to have “he said, angry.” That’s telling rather than showing. It’s clear in what he says that he’s angry, and if you want to emphasize his anger, have him do something that shows it. Although it’s not wrong to use adverbs to describe what someone says, try to replace as many as possible with more active verbs (page 51) “ I heard Cole say softly”, pages 52, 53, 80, and 81 “ I said quietly”, and page 105 “ She laughed uneasily”. In the future, look for your favorite “pet words” and remove or replace them. The front cover depicts the theme of the story, so readers will have an idea of what’s inside. The back cover blurb is powerful and attention grabbing.
Genre: Middle-Grade/Young Adult Books
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 3
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 3
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 4
This book is really well written and speaks to the problem of substance abuse, and how it preys on the family and the abuser.
You have a great voice that is consistent throughout the story. The plot moves along with good highs and lows, and beautiful transitions between chapters. The ending seemed a bit odd. It was abruptly ended.
All of the characters are well-developed and relatable. You did a great job of researching substance abusers.
One thing that needs to be addressed is the repeating of words within the same paragraph. It gets monotonous for the reader. Take care of that, and you’ll have a great book on your hands.
Reviews from Reader’s Favorite can also be found here: http://readersfavorite.com/book-review/7702
Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers Favorite
Brandon is a twenty year old who is addicted to drugs, not to mention alcohol and mindless party sex. His older brother, Ace, twenty-seven, is tough with him while his younger brother, Cole tries to be more mellow, bringing in his policeman friend, Drake, to help. Ace finds pills and powder in Brandon’s things and Brandon runs away when Ace confronts him. Brandon’s friend Bret picks him up and they head off to Vince’s house where Vince is high and a party is in progress. Bret has served time in jail as has Brandon. But Brandon continues on with his drugged-up ways and goes off to sell vials of illegal substances to a dealer. He knows that he’s a “screw-up” and doesn’t have to face life if he uses drugs and alcohol. Brandon’s been addicted for a long time and his mother– dead by her own hand–enabled him, supporting his habit by working several jobs and endangering her own future. Brandon’s old love, Kristine, returns to his life, but can she really help him through withdrawal? And is Brandon strong enough to give up his troubled, troublesome lifestyle? “Nothing More, Nothing Less” is an accurate and realistic portrayal of a drug addict and the rough world he creates for himself. Main character Brandon is believable and totally pitiful and his brothers Ace and Cole, and family friend policeman Drake, are patient beyond belief and quite authentic as they try to stand by Brandon through his ups and downs as he fights off enraged drug users and tries to survive homestyle detox. The plot flows to the story’s realistic ending. “Nothing More, Nothing Less” is a good, albeit sad, portrayal of a druggie’s life and what that lifestyle does to those around him. Readers who don’t mind a good dose of reality will want to read, “Nothing More, Nothing Less.”
Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers Favorite
Nothing More, Nothing Less is another tragic story of addiction. Brandon, the youngest of three boys has succumbed to drugs, unable to cope with their father’s abandonment. An intelligent boy, he destroyed his future and made the lives of his family miserable. When his mother committed suicide, his life spiraled downwards and he was mired in the dirty world of drug using, sex, alcohol and drug running. His two brothers tried to stop him with Ace, the oldest one, opting to do it the hard way. Cole, who is older than Brandon by four years, has more patience in dealing with his younger brother. Drake, a family friend and a policeman also tries to stop Brandon from totally destroying his life with drugs. As the story unfolds, we learn that Kristine, Brandon’s girlfriend has left town and left him. This made the situation worse. With drug running also comes the violence and the brushes with the law. The death of Bret, Brandon’s best friend, from drug overdose, and the return of Kristine gave Brandon the resolve to stop using drugs. This did not last long, however, when he was faced with the agony of withdrawal, and a spat with Kristine. Brandon’s emotional wound is too deep to heal. He had a car accident after a fight with Kristine and he also had a score to settle with a drug lord who turned out to be Kristine’s boyfriend. The story ends with Brandon trying to rescue Kristine during a meet up with the drug lord. A fight and a shootout ensued and luckily, the police, alerted by Drake, were around. This did not prevent the death of Kristine, which is another blow to Brandon. Throughout all these, Cole and Ace, have always been around to help their younger brother since it was a request that their mother has asked from them. In the end, the best consolation that Brandon has is that his home will always be there for him. Ashley Dukart is a riveting story teller. The pace of the narrative is fast and urgent, enhancing the thrills and dangers of a drug user and runner. Brandon is a lost child but he is also intelligent and emotional. This makes him a person that the reader cannot completely hate. As I read the story, I can feel empathy for his character as if he is indeed my younger brother. Although the story revolves around his addiction, it is also the story of a family trying to understand a drug addict in their midst. The struggles, worries, difficulties and hopes that a family with a drug addiction problem faces every day is daunting. And in this book, the hopelessness of the situation is heart breaking because Dukart really knows how to tell a story. Nothing More, Nothing Less does not have a happy ending. It has a more realistic ending that strongly hints on the need for hope, in the face of such a family problem. And I guess this is the most potent message that this novel sends to its readers; never to lose hope in the face of adversity and to be there for a family member who needs help.
Reviewed by Tamera Lawrence for Readers Favorite
Addict Brandon lives with brothers, Ace and Cole. The family is torn apart by Brandon’s terrible need to be high. Brandon tests everyone patience as he delves deeper into his addiction, stealing and lying to get what he wants. With little regard for himself or his brothers, Brandon sells drugs to help aid in his costly addictions as well as faces perilous situations with shady individuals. Even the threat of jail doesn’t sway him. With his emotional scars, Brandon spirals out of control, experimenting and increasing his dosages. When pretty ex-girlfriend Kristine reenters the scene, Brandon finds a glimmer of hope. But just what price will Brandon and his friends have to pay for the illicit lives they seek? “Nothing More, Nothing Less” by talented Ashley Dukart is a novel about drug addiction and the toll it takes on family and friends. When an addict is in the family, his or her life affects everyone else around them – making them part of the addiction. An enabler is someone who unwillingly aids the addict by taking care of their basic needs, housing, food, etc. They do this out of love, but never really help the addict hit the rock bottom they need to find in order to seek change. Ashley Dukart has written a pointed look at the hellish life of an addict and the emotional roller coaster love ones endure. The sad truth is Brandon’s tale is all too familiar across America.
Reviewed by Hira Ahsan for Readers Favorite
Brandon is a drug addict, and has been for several years. Ever since his mother committed suicide he’s felt guilty, responsible for her death, because he was the cause of several burdens on her including her supporting his drug habits. But ever since then he’s been on a downward spiral, taking drugs to feel no pain, no remorse. It’s become so bad there are rare times when he’s sober. Nothing More, Nothing Less shows us exactly how these habits can affect us. Brandon uses and sells drugs, while living with his 2 elder brothers, who keep waiting for him to get over their mother’s death – which has affected them just as much. This was very realistically written. It’s not a happily-ever-after story and is very tragic. At times I felt Brandon’s despair as if it were my own. You want to reach out and try to hug the character and try to get them back on the right track. And you can in a way, as it can relate fairly well enough to people in real life – there are many drug addicts and if you know one, you should definitely try to help them out. Some habits are born out of depression, this being one of the common ones. Brandon goes through a lot in this. Having the will or want to live is a great thing, it can motivate you to get past almost any hurdle. At times, when you feel there’s nothing left in life that is the only thing that keeps you going until the end. That is the only thing that motivates you. There were a few things in this that irked me however, and that was mainly that the background story wasn’t very clear. I wanted to learn more about Ace and Cole, and how Brandon first got into drugs – since he was apparently in them much before his mother’s death. Overall this was a very nice read, I’d recommend this as older YA for a couple of sex scenes and violence. Ashley Dukart develops her characters wonderfully. It was a very poignant debut and I look forward to more books from this author. Those who are suffering/have family or friends who are an addict should definitely read this book! It would be a real eye opener for them.
Reviewed by Kathryn Bennett for Readers Favorite
Nothing More, Nothing Less is a debut short novel by Ashley Dukart. Brandon found his Mother after she committed suicide and in his grief he blames himself for what happened. While he is trapped in the grief over his Mother’s loss Brandon begins the downward spiral of someone who just does not seem to care about his life anymore. He begins selling drugs and gets in with a dangerous crowd endangering himself and alienating his remaining family. Despite his bad behavior and alienation of them Brandon’s Brothers do try to help him before he fully ruins his life or worse it comes to a violent end. For a debut novelist I have to say that Ashley Dukart has done very well. The writing itself is enjoyable and the story has a plot that you can connect with. Brandon as a character could be anyone who has suffered loss and started making bad choices. In writing this book Ashley Dukart has reminded me that there really is such a thin line of choices between the right path and the wrong path, especially when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. Ashley Dukart has managed to capture the humanity in her characters that a lot of readers look to connect to when reading a story. The way she writes Brandon’s downfall and his addiction is very realistic. I was often reminded of a friend of mine that took a similar path to Brandon after her Father died. Too often in books that have a character that has an addiction I find that they sensationalize it or make it seem sexy like the film and television media tend to. Ashley Dukart has not done that and indeed has shown addiction for the dangerous and soul sucking thing that it is. After reading Nothing More, Nothing Less I have to say I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend to read. There was a small bit of predictability in a few turns that the book took but overall it is a gripping read and I look forward to seeing what else Ashley Dukart produces in the future.
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I want to thank all of the reviewers for their time and consideration in reading and reviewing my debut book, so thank you for all that you have done. Thanks.