Leaving the Comfort Cafe is a truly good story - funny at times, touching at others. You find yourself aching for them, wishing you could sit them down and talk to them, help the see their way. The story mimics Austin's imaginings of hero's and villains brought to real life, working through real circumstances.
THE GOOD: The story is warm, sometimes aching. The characters are not perfect - they are awkward, obnoxious, confused - woven together into a somewhat surreal world that works very well with Austin's comics.
THE BAD - It took me a bit to get into the book because the first few chapters ramble a bit, sometimes not really bringing a coherent picture of what is going on. Further into the novel, the writing does become solid with good flow. There are a lot of typing mistakes that a good proof-read (or spell check) should have caught that can be distracting, simply because they are numerous and sometimes require pulling out of the story to figure out the intended word.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the book to friends as the story is really good.
I would recommend to the author to have an editor proof-read the piece to help clean up both the technical mistakes and the early ramble that almost had me moving on to another book before I got caught in the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed Malakh and read it through in a single afternoon. Unlike others, I didn't really "feel" the adventure and mystery of the story. For me, it was more a tale of love lost, regret and emotional survival. Like the world fell away when Russ took Suzanne through his own realm, so the murder mystery fell away as Suzanne's story played out. In the end, I wished Suzanne would remember her journey from the depths of pain and loss through to moving on and living again.
In Leah's Wake was an excellent story, and far more realistic than some might believe. Having been a teenager spiralling out of control myself, and now a parent of my own teenager, I was able to relate to characters on both sides of the story. Nobody seems to ever understand how a "good kid" from a "good family" can have the kind of feelings that lead to self-destruct - the author really captures the complexity behind it all.
My only issues with the book had to do with editing and writing style. I actually had a hard time getting into the book a bit due to periods of conversation that happened outside of quotation marks. Early in the book it was extremely distracting, as I would end up having to re-read a paragraph for context and orientation. If it weren't for this, I would give a 5 star rating!