Tag Archive | 4 Freds

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.

Advertisements

Menthol Kisses by Abby Stewart

Overview: Logan is a teenager stuck between trying to live her life and simultaneously run from it. Her need to fade from a soul-crushing reality overshadows everything else after a secret abortion and the loss of a close friend. As Logan struggles with drugs, sex, and relationships, she only further digs her heels into the distasteful small town life she so badly wants to escape from.

My thoughts: I debated for a while whether to give this book three stars or four stars. In the end, four stars won because I enjoyed the book and because I read it in one sitting. It was almost impossible for me to stop until I got to a point that made me lose interest. That being said, let me clarify something. The story in itself is a great one. However, it does have a few issues. Let’s start with the bad.

The number one problem was comma issues. The story flowed well, so that I was able to forgive missing commas and misused ones at first, but then the missing comma issue got worse towards the end of the book. That’s one reason why I wanted to give the book three stars.

Some of the story is borderline stereotypical, but at the same time, these characters feel like real ordinary people to me. A lot of cliche things happen, especially considering everything that I’ve been warned about when it comes to drugs, alcohol, and sex actually happens in the plot. Another huge stereotypical thing is that it’s set in a town in the middle of nowhere. On the other hand, the tone of the story and the way it’s written makes the cliche and stereotypical things seem acceptable.

The sequence of events becomes really confusing. It seems like the author either didn’t know what else to write or she wanted to skip boring scenes and get to the juicy bits. Therefore, the story is fast paced and skips huge chunks of time, leaving me a bit confuzzled determining the timeline of the story. The main character basically goes from birth to around age 20 or so, and everything happens so fast that you can definitely tell that the main character is going to get into trouble. This was another reason I thought about giving the book three stars.

I lost interest when Logan and Brittany got to the warehouse. I understand their motives, and the scene seems very realistic, but at the same time, either the writing style changed or I just have an aversion to that kind of stuff, such that I wasn’t interested in that issue at all. In fact, I find it gross and a bit degrading, though I think that’s the author intention since Logan really gets into a tough spot. However, the book definitely gets better after that whole part (I’m trying not to spoil it).

I’ll admit that everything that Logan does goes against my morals and I would usually find stuff like that to be very sickening. However, the way it’s written takes away from the sickening part and makes Logan’s actions seem real. It’s all she knows and all her actions flow so well that I can’t really complain. Whether it’s morally right or not is an argument that I don’t think belongs here. It’s more important to notice how she ends up in those situations.

I loved two things about this book. One was the way Stewart depicted the characters as ordinary people. I love how she made them close friends even though they bonded over drugs. The way they bonded even though they were using a substance considered unfriendly and horrific really intrigued me. It leaves you with this odd feeling. They’re doing drugs yet they’re still somewhat kind to each other and good friends. Still, do good friends let others do drugs? It does bring up great questions regarding social behaviors and drugs.

The second part I liked was the ending. I loved everything in the last scene, including the fiance and all that jazz (that I’m trying not to give away). Let’s just say, it makes me happy.

For its price on Amazon, this is a good read. I think it’s worth it. On the other hand, it’s more on the PG13/R rating due to the issues it tackles. Nothing is too explicit, but at the same time, I would recommend this book to people who are around 18+. I think it would also be very good for teenagers or people who are struggling with drug addictions. This kind of book isn’t for everyone, but it is a really good read for people who don’t mind putting strong moral judgements aside.

The author has a website located here: http://abbystewart.com

I got this ebook for free from the author in exchange for a review.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Overview: Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are a second adolescence.Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.
Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-“if” we use the time wisely.
THE DEFINING DECADE is a smart, compassionate and constructive book about the years we cannot afford to miss.

My thoughts: I like the overall message of the book: Your life, even at your twenties, means something, so make the best of it. I fully believe that people, no matter what their age should not waste away their life by partying all the time and practicing bad habits. Goofing off every now and then is perfectly fine, but making a career out of it is pointless unless you get paid for it and you find it fulfilling. Therefore, this review may be a bit biased.

With the basic message out of the way, I do think the audience is limited to people who have access to resources and opportunities, mainly the middle class and upper class. I think the same basic message is viable for all classes, but people of lower classes who don’t have access to internships or college may have a harder time connecting with Jay’s clients.

Jay backs up all her claims with psychological research that most college students learn in basic psych. While having Jay repeat the same information I’ve already learned is kinda boring, it is interesting to see how she applies the research. I’ve read a few reviews and comments on her articles and books, and basically, they complain that her book is too conservative and that she claims causation instead or correlation. I don’t think she’s that conservative or confusing causation with correlation. She uses caution and subtle sentences in explaining the difference, but that’s how I would expect every psychologist/psychiatrist to react. Her book centers on research and experience in her practice, not on ideology or politics. The major problems people have with her book are probably more due to a limited research/experience with those certain situations rather than her general principles.

By adding her clinical experiences, she means to illustrate the research and her ideas in real life, which works. However, some people may not realize that case studies are specific instances in which it works a certain way for one person. Things may go differently for someone else. That’s why when reading her case studies of people, you have to be careful to understand the general idea and not concentrate too much on the details. I know that seems kind of backwards since a case study focuses on specific details and it’s not valid to use generalizations from one case study to another, but for the sake of understanding her argument, I suggest you break that scientific rule and go with the flow. She’s using the case studies as examples and not scientific proof.

I do think that Jay did a better job on the work issues of her book and that’s the section I find more accessible than any other section. However, her other discussions of topics have validity, especially the fertility subject. Some people may not have kids, so they can breeze over the section if they wish, but I think she spends a lot of time talking about fertility is because it’s something couples need to talk about: if they want kids, when they want them, possible fertility problems–I think it’s important for every couple to talk about even if they don’t want kids just in case birth control fails or an accident happens. I also fully agree with her on being in good relationships all the time and not staying with someone who’s a deadbeat. Humans are creatures of habit and someone may get stuck in a bad cycle of relationships if he or she is not picky about whom he or she dates.

My only real issue with the book is that it’s too future oriented. Yes, it’s important to plan for upcoming events, but at the same time, if you’re not enjoying your life now or you’re so stressed about the future, you can’t realize what’s in front of you and something’s not quite right. I wish Jay would’ve spent a bit more time talking about the past, present, and future, but she didn’t really connect them too much. She sort of blames twentysomethings for being too present oriented, which is funny ’cause I’m twenty and think she’s too future oriented to the point where she forgets to tell people to enjoy their current situations. I think her book would have a better tone if she said something along the lines of, “Hanging out is nice and it’s important to treasure your friends, but don’t forget you still have future goals to achieve. To achieve them, you need to make sure you’re taking steps in that direction earlier in your life rather than later.”

Another issue I have with this book is saying how bad off thirtysomething and fortysomething people are. They’re not all bad off. We can learn from older people’s mistakes, but I don’t think they should be berated for choosing to do things later in life. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. However, by using poor decisions of older people, Jay is emphasizing her point that it’s better to start planning when you’re young, which I kind of agree with. She crosses a line sometimes when she speaks about her older clients. I know she’s trying to point out how later decisions affected them, but at the same time, it comes close to almost wagging her finger at them when they’ve already suffered enough.

Sometimes, Jay’s writing feels like a mother/aunt/teacher who can just give you a look and you know you’re doing something wrong. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s condescending, but it does make me wonder and ask questions about my life. Based on other psychology books I’ve read, I know her advice is relative based on the situation, but it’s strong advice. If you get anything out of the book, I think it should be this: Your life matters, so make the most of it by taking deliberate actions earlier than later, especially in the direction that you may want to go in. Decisions need to be made because they do impact your future. If you just let life happen to you, it may not be all that fun.

Her advice seems to go against what most people say nowadays, such as, “You have time for that later,” “Marriage and babies are for older people,” “You’re only 23. You don’t need a serious relationship or career,” and so on. However, I really do believe that we need to put aside these sayings that give “freedom” to twentysomethings and instead use Jay’s advice and give them “responsibility for their lives.” I want responsibility, so I’m shrugging off anyone who tells me I have time to wait. I’m taking time by the horns and taking action in the direction I want.

I bought this book from Amazon for $14.05 without taxes or a shipping and handling cost.

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

Overview: Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel’ Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes. Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well–walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness. A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith…of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

My thoughts: The book in general kept me entertained. However, it seemed a bit unbelievable at sometimes. The most unbelievable part was probably Rahab’s instant conversion to Judaism. It didn’t make sense that she would so easily believe in another God when her society’s gods failed everyone. It’d make more sense if she was skeptical of God. She has Christian ideals before Christianity even exists. I know I’m supposed to believe that her prostitution is bad, but I don’t believe the book gives enough evidence since details aren’t given and she’s very choosy about who she does things with. She has freedom that other women in her time period don’t have. If her career choice is ripping her apart on the inside, she doesn’t show it much except towards the end. It’s quite unbelievable that her culture would look at zonahs as bad people since prostitutes are in the temple, too. In fact, it feels like the book endorses friends with benefit relationships when Rahab takes in Debir and looks back fondly on their friendship. The book doesn’t show the gruesomeness of her profession.

The writing isn’t very descriptive when it comes to deep feelings, and a lot of cliche figures of speech are used. A bunch of figures of speech are too modern for the time period of the setting. I felt like the ending was a bit anti-climatic and expected something more. The book moved very quickly time wise.

The book was cliche just like the writing. It was like a romance novel except with intercourse after marriage instead of before. The Salmone’s love at first seemed unbelievable, but later it was convincing. Personally, the love scenes sort of filled me with warmth, but at the same time the cheesiness made me laugh. It’s a very good light read, but I’d only recommend it if you’re Christian. I may be wrong, but unless someone has a background of Christianity, I don’t think they’d understand the values and ideals in the story.

I found this for free at Amazon.com and downloaded it on my kindle.