Ally

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Smashwords book reviews by Ally

  • Brunswick on July 09, 2012

    Title: Brunswick Author: Ann Haines Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Brief Synopsis: Jonathan Brunswick used to play a game with his father as a kid. They would both go into the backyard and pretend that they were in a magical kingdom named Brunswick, where they would fight snake-like creatures in the forest and live happily in a sort-of backwards village with all of these simple minded people. But it turns out that Brunswick is not just a figment of Jon's imagination. He created an actual world, with real lives who have him (as the Creator) to thank. And when they all summon Jonathan to help them against the impending darkness of the Tower, it is up to him to save the lives that he created, and learn more about himself in the process. Thoughts on the Characters: To me, the characters were just okay. They were pretty shallow. All of the villagers were friendly and welcoming and had a reverent attitude towards Jonathan because he's the Creator. It/The Destroyer was the epitome of evil, and Jonathan is the humble boy who doesn't realize his own strength and heroic nature inside of him. The only character I found interesting was Dashana ((view spoiler)). As the "insider" and mastermind to The Destroyer's world, you really felt for her. She was complex - the unwilling assistant to the Destroyer who knows that she will be treated humanely as long as she helps her master. Yet there were times where she could overcome her master's spell and think somewhat lucidly and with her heart. I genuinely enjoyed reading her chapters. Positive Aspects of the Book: If pressed a little farther, I think this could have been a GREAT book. The ideas are all there. In fact, I think it is a really cool fantasy plot. We are always told by those "recent scientific studies" that the brain has more power than we know, that imagination plays a greater role in our lives than we previously thought, that belief may in fact translate to tangible results. All hypothetical, of course, but tie in to the essence of Brunswick - imagination unfathomable power. This could have been a really, really cool book. The plot itself was well-paced and, albeit predictable, always taking new turns. It is organized through several characters' perspectives, and I do think the author ordered the chapters well in the sense that the placement either provided relief, suspense, or more sustenance, whichever was most effective at the time. The last half of the book was commendable though. It brought it some cute themes about the necessity of working together despite historical difficulties, and what can happen when the world comes together as one. And everything was tied nicely together by the end as all of the loose strings were brought back in. I know I already used the word, but I can't really describe it in any other way but just being a cute ending. Negative Aspects of the Book: I don't know how else to say this except pretty bluntly - this needs an editor. Someone who can read this thing through and pick it up apart to pieces. I'll give you an example verbatim from my kindle, "He was at the edge of a huge lake surrounded by trees, it was beautiful. As he looked around he could see nothing more than trees and water, he looked down at himself and saw that his legs and arms were cut and grazed. His head hurt and as he held his hands up to his face he felt pain over his right eye and the fatness in his lower lip, he could taste the blood. He rolled to his knees and splashed some water on his face, he winced as it stung." And it goes on. Not to mention there are a lot of misused words/spelling mistakes. You see what I mean? I don't care how great the storyline is, that kind of writing is almost unendurable. I said almost though, because it gets better as you progress through the story. Or maybe I got used to it. I'm not sure. I also thought the romance between the two main characters was rushed and barely even there. Typical of a young adult novel to need to include romance, but this should either gone more in depth or not included at all. Subjects Discussed: power of imagination, growing up (and the responsibilities that come), loyalty, teamwork/compromise Extent to which the book achieved its goals: I have to say that it didn't. As I said earlier, this book could have been great. If Haines developed the characters more, went into greater depth concerning the creation of Brunswick/the Tower/the Darkness, and just varied the sentence structure and grabbed an editor, this story would have serious potential to be a real success. It just didn't live up to its potential. Recommended Audience: Younger teens. They won't mind the grammar as much, and they probably still have more of an imagination left compared to the rest of us :)
  • Five on July 28, 2012

    I just finished reading this book about 20 seconds ago. I needed to sit down and write my review right away. Suffice to say, I loved this book. We start Five with an introduction the protagonist, Rayla - a headstrong, independent, and sheltered girl who just needs to escape. Escape her impoverished and stressed lifestyle, her secluded town, her boring future that awaits her if she stays in her tiny town. She's a great main character - average enough to be relatable with her baggage and insecurities, but has that extra something when the need arises. Take charge, uncompromising attitude? Maybe, I'm not quite sure. Of course I've got my suspicions, but those will wait for future books to confirm. This book takes the love triangle to a whole new level. I know, I know, I hate love triangles. It's not even a love triangle so much as a shape that starts as a triangle, makes its way to a hexagon, and then slowly loses its sides again. It helps the reader (and hurts Rayla, I guess) that these guys are drop dead gorgeous as well. Take all the literary best boyfriends you can muster, set them into a bunch of stereotypes and magnify their looks, and you've got the characters in Five! That's not to say that it gets resolved either, and that's not a spoiler so much as a fact given it's the first book of a series. But I will concede. The love hexagon is a crucial part of the series, and not some plot filler. It sneaks up on you and then makes you feel for Rayla as she's thrust into different situations. Here's the thing - I didn't even roll my eyes once. Points for you, Christie Rich. I sincerely mean that. But only if you write the future books so that Rayla ends up with Zach. The plot is well written, nicely paced, and full of twist and turns. There's a bunch of foreshadowing, and you'll be able to predict the path it'll take, but that doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the read. It's not encoded with deep messages about life - I'll reserve that for later books though as I guess where the series is going. And if I guess correctly, this series is definitely going places. Related to plot is the backstory. Even though this book is set in the modern United States, Rich has an entire fae world to build. Most authors these days employ a "see-not-tell" tactic, and have you experience the world and its rules with the main character without much explanation. Luckily, Christie Rich is not one of those authors. We have the clueless (and stubborn) Rayla as a protagonist, who needs all the information that has been concealed from her to be explained. Detailed history lectures. This is super helpful for us, and paints a believable picture to the story. It's also a very interesting history. The one thing I didn't like very much was the fact that Elementals had to be female. I'm not a huge feminist, but the whole men dominating women and forcing them into bondage (and it comes up in more way than one) irritated me. Not to mention the scorn directed towards the one fae Lady of the courts. She has legitimate concerns and yet is shoved aside like a crazy fae. The ending of Five was great. It's not so much a suspenseful cliffhanger plot turn but a suspenseful pause right in the middle of the action. I read it and then had to reread the 100% text on my kindle ("No, she wouldn't stop the book here! No! There has to be another chapter or something!"). It's similar to Divergent, in that I'm assuming the next book will pick up right where it left off, right in the middle of the action. I would say that this book is for older teenagers. It only details kissing (in this book, I won't be surprised if it goes a lot farther in the future ones) but much more is implied.
  • Five on July 28, 2012

    I just finished reading this book about 20 seconds ago. I needed to sit down and write my review right away. Suffice to say, I loved this book. We start Five with an introduction the protagonist, Rayla - a headstrong, independent, and sheltered girl who just needs to escape. Escape her impoverished and stressed lifestyle, her secluded town, her boring future that awaits her if she stays in her tiny town. She's a great main character - average enough to be relatable with her baggage and insecurities, but has that extra something when the need arises. Take charge, uncompromising attitude? Maybe, I'm not quite sure. Of course I've got my suspicions, but those will wait for future books to confirm. This book takes the love triangle to a whole new level. I know, I know, I hate love triangles. It's not even a love triangle so much as a shape that starts as a triangle, makes its way to a hexagon, and then slowly loses its sides again. It helps the reader (and hurts Rayla, I guess) that these guys are drop dead gorgeous as well. Take all the literary best boyfriends you can muster, set them into a bunch of stereotypes and magnify their looks, and you've got the characters in Five! That's not to say that it gets resolved either, and that's not a spoiler so much as a fact given it's the first book of a series. But I will concede. The love hexagon is a crucial part of the series, and not some plot filler. It sneaks up on you and then makes you feel for Rayla as she's thrust into different situations. Here's the thing - I didn't even roll my eyes once. Points for you, Christie Rich. I sincerely mean that. But only if you write the future books so that Rayla ends up with Zach. The plot is well written, nicely paced, and full of twist and turns. There's a bunch of foreshadowing, and you'll be able to predict the path it'll take, but that doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the read. It's not encoded with deep messages about life - I'll reserve that for later books though as I guess where the series is going. And if I guess correctly, this series is definitely going places. Related to plot is the backstory. Even though this book is set in the modern United States, Rich has an entire fae world to build. Most authors these days employ a "see-not-tell" tactic, and have you experience the world and its rules with the main character without much explanation. Luckily, Christie Rich is not one of those authors. We have the clueless (and stubborn) Rayla as a protagonist, who needs all the information that has been concealed from her to be explained. Detailed history lectures. This is super helpful for us, and paints a believable picture to the story. It's also a very interesting history. The one thing I didn't like very much was the fact that Elementals had to be female. I'm not a huge feminist, but the whole men dominating women and forcing them into bondage (and it comes up in more way than one) irritated me. Not to mention the scorn directed towards the one fae Lady of the courts. She has legitimate concerns and yet is shoved aside like a crazy fae. The ending of Five was great. It's not so much a suspenseful cliffhanger plot turn but a suspenseful pause right in the middle of the action. I read it and then had to reread the 100% text on my kindle ("No, she wouldn't stop the book here! No! There has to be another chapter or something!"). It's similar to Divergent, in that I'm assuming the next book will pick up right where it left off, right in the middle of the action. I would say that this book is for older teenagers. It only details kissing (in this book, I won't be surprised if it goes a lot farther in the future ones) but much more is implied.