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The Amulet by Alison Pensy

Overview from Goodreads: To seventeen-year-old Faedra, faeries were nothing more than the figurines she collected and displayed in her curio cabinet. She was in for the surprise of her life.

Faedra had no idea that faeries controlled nature, and with a book no less. Nor did she know that her descendants had protected an ancient fae amulet for thousands of years. An amulet that if ever was reunited with the book would give the wearer power to control the weather, too. She didn’t know all this because the one person to teach her died when she was just six years old. Well, now it was time for her to find out…

A letter from the grave reveals her true identity the day of her eighteenth birthday. But she barely has time to digest the revelation when she is plunged into a fight for her life and that of mankind.

My thoughts: Honestly, I’d give this book more of a 3.5. I really enjoyed reading it, but there were a few things that confused me.

Let’s begin with the impossible actions. There are a few scenes that seems impossible to me. The action described defies the basic laws of physics. I recognize that they’re in another world with magic, so it’s possible for unrealistic things to happen. However, the skeptic in my just doesn’t agree with the possibility of defying the laws of nature in a book that’s not science fiction.

I do like the main character Faedra. Her “goody-two-shoes” personality appeals to me because sweet main characters aren’t too common lately. The author does a good job of creating a character that is nice and usually follows the rules but still has quirks that makes her interesting. The one thing I don’t like about Faedra is that sometimes she seems like Kristen Stewart, except with four emotions instead of one. She’s also easily impressed and usually dropping her jaw.

There are some instances in which Faen acts out of character. It could be because Faen is guarding himself well and only let’s his real personality out occasionally, but sometimes I just don’t understand why Faen acts out of character, especially later in the book when developing his relationship with Faedra. I like their relationship and friendship, and I think it adds a great element to the book. However, their relationship seems awkward at first, and my reaction to their relationship climax was, “What the heck did I just read?!” I think the climax could’ve been orchestrated better and not seem so force.

Plot wise, I love the twists and turns. It’s not just like any other faerie/fairy story out there.  I love love how Faedra’s mother plays into this story. The mysterious mother keeps my attention, and I hope there’s more information about her in later books. I like how she purposely laid out Faedra’s task yet still left questions for Faedra to solve, allowing Faedra to grow on her own.

One other thing that bugs me is Faedra’s interactions with her family. Maybe the British act differently than Americans, but Faedra’s relationship with her father, uncle, and aunt just seem so casual. She doesn’t address Uncle Leo’s wife as “Aunt Nicki.” It’s just Nicki. To me, this is completely disrespectful. She also treats the older people in her family more like friends than family, and it just baffles me. However, I realize that all families are different, and that I should appreciate this book showing me a different style of family. It’s just very different from my own.

There’s lots of description, and some of it is chunky. It makes the book a bit hard to slug through at times. That’s the main easy I didn’t rate this book as a 4. Description can be a good thing, and sometimes it’s well used in this book. However, if some of it was subtracted or made more concise, the book wouldn’t have lost its meaning.

Also, just for kicks, since the author grew up in England, she uses lots of British terms. I learned some new words from this book. Yay, learning experiences!

I found this book for free on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle.

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But, Ogres Don’t Play Chess by Terri Bogard

Overview: To win the heart of the woman he loves, an ogre must pretend to be something he’s not. Can he convince her he’s more than just a set of muscles?

This story is part of The Monster Exchange Program series.

Short Story – 3700 words

My thoughts: This story is a really short one. Short and sweet. It’s beginning is probably the biggest adventure and also the scene with the most details. It takes stereotypical characters and turns them into interesting creatures with different anatomical features.

The setting seems like such an interesting place with a mix of present and sci-fi elements. However, it’s not fleshed out enough. The story is pretty fast pace, relying more on dialogue then description. Sometimes the events became confusing because they’re described pretty vaguely.

It would’ve been nice to be introduced to both sisters at the beginning of the book, and also have more information from Glumf’s side of the story. It’s a good things these guys are aliens or else I’d wonder if Glumf’s intelligence was realistic.

It’s a good short read and has a lot of potential to become something more if it’s fleshed out with more character depth, screen descriptions, and more events between the crushes and the crushees. On that note, I would like to add that I really liked the ending. I just wish it had more description on Glumf’s thought process. The last event was a bit rushed.

I found this short story for free on Amazon.com and downloaded it to my Kindle.

The Changelings by Elle Casey

Overview: Jayne Sparks, a potty-mouthed, rebellious seventeen-year-old and her best friend, shy and bookish Tony Green, have a pretty typical high school existence, until several seemingly unrelated incidents converge, causing a cascade of events that change their lives forever. Jayne and Tony, together with a group of runaway teens, are hijacked and sent into a forest, where nothing and no one are as they seem. Who will emerge triumphant? And what will they be when they do?

My Thoughts: To begin with, the opening of the story is weak. It’s easy to predict what happens and is stereotypical. Things feel forced together, not meshing until later. The main protagonist is a pain. She’s the kind of student I hate to be in class with because she’s wasting her time and yet blames it on the school, not taking responsibility for her actions. Later on, she does change a bit, so I understand why she acts the way she does in a literary sense. Still, she’s kind of unbearable at first. It’s quite stereotypical that she acts this way at school because she has a poor family life. It seems like the author has almost turned this main character into a statistic.

The scene with Jared on the beach is way too forced. I almost stopped reading at that scene because it was too obvious something was going on. It was really annoying how everything was just out in the open. The author writes more in the telling style than she does in the showing style.

The book didn’t draw me in until the later forest scenes. Sure, some of it is a bit unbelievable and too fast paced, but the writing is much better than in the beginning. The book lacks in-depth descriptions of the settings, so it becomes confusing at times. There are a lot of inconsistencies with the characters and that does detract from the reading experience. Maybe it’s because I’ve read and watched a lot of fantasy things, but the book is very predictable to the point that I rolled my eyes when the main character finally realized what was going on.

My favorite character is Tony. He seems like a well developed character and not that stereotypical although his physical description is stereotypical. I’d love to have him as a best friend. He’s very much an in-control character, which is what I loved about him. I’m really glad he and the main character don’t fall in love. That’d be too stereotypical, falling in love with your best guy friend.

I think most of the characters are a little flat. For instance, Spike smiles, has tatoos, and is the carefree “badboy” (which he’s not at all. Jayne is delusional), Flinn is a redneck who wants beer, and Chase is the strong silent type awkward with emotions. That’s way too stereotypical and common. These characters have a lot of potential that doesn’t develop well in the first book.

Sometimes, I think these characters are insane. They break into laughter over things that aren’t funny at all. I don’t understand the placement of those parts, except maybe to show how desperate they are. Jayne is a pinwheel of emotions. I understand that she acts very much like a high schooler would, but I’m not sure if her emotions should realistically flipflop that much. To me, her emotions become too far flung to be taken seriously. I think she’s a bit different from the usual female protagonist, but I wish someone would take her brain, tie it up, and keep her thoughts straight. Her sidetracked thoughts interrupt the flow of the story.

Overall, the Kindle edition has tons of grammatical errors. They keep staring me in the face, annoying the heck out of me. There are missing commas, misplaced commas, and misspelled words. I think the author needs to check her work or get a better editor. I felt like I was reading a rough draft.

The story had a Hunger Games feel to it, except I think this book is much better than The Hunger Games. Although I don’t particularly like the main character, I didn’t want her to die like I wanted Katniss to. This particular story is geared towards older high school students. This is a book that will probably never make it to any high school library due to the language and implied sexual themes. Honestly, the author does a good job at getting into the mind of a teenager, but by doing that, she has reduced the audience to people who are ok with vulgarity.

If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, then you’ll probably like this book. However, be warned, this book contains lots of curse words. It’s not as kosher as The Hunger Games.

I found this book on for free on Amazon and read it on my kindle.