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Smashwords book reviews by Penumbra

  • A Marked Past on Feb. 25, 2012

    Starting at the top, in reference to the cover, I like it. I also think that the title for the story is catchy. The moon and the font used for the title are nice. The girl is a bit hard to see, but it fits the story. I downloaded the eBook in epub format and I don’t know what happened, but the formatting was very wonky. Some paragraphs were nicely spaced and then after a few paragraphs the spacing grew tight and the sentences stretched across the whole screen. Then after a few paragraphs it went back to wide spacing. This formatting problem made it difficult to read and visually unpleasant. It seems like the issue should have been easily fixed before offering the book to the public. The storyline for this book is very interesting, and if it was the intention of the author to make sixteen-year-old Lyla a whiny, self-absorbed teenage girl, she did a good job. Unfortunately, I've never emphasized with whiny teenagers, so it's difficult for me to like this character. There are too many instances in this book where I want to throw up my hands and roll my eyes at the decisions Lyla makes and the way she behaves. For instance once she’s a member of the Arc Coven, she agrees to keep their secret, help them and protect them. But as soon as she sees a flash of red in her boyfriend Caleb’s eyes, indicating that he might be under the control of the Preacher, does she tell Nathan? No. Does, she tell her cousins? No. Does she tell the Coven? No, of course not, it’s her boyfriend. The lives of all the other people who are in danger are nothing compared to her boyfriend’s. Even though Nathan and the Coven indicated they wanted to get Caleb away from the Preacher to help protect him, and they also sent Sage to check up on Caleb’s sister Alexis, for Alexis’ safety. Didn’t Lyla think that since Caleb is under the Preacher’s control, that Caleb travelling to visit his sister puts Alexis in danger? I like my main characters with a bit of common sense in their heads, and Lyla has none. She mostly goes around ‘wishing to be normal’, ‘how come this is happening to me,’ and ‘OMG! My boyfriend!’ It’s repetitive and annoying. As Hana once screamed at Lyla in the book, “It’s not all about you!” I agree wholeheartedly. Lyla is a self-centered character who is a danger to the people around her, not necessarily because of her developing powers, but because of her thoughtless and reckless behavior. It appears that she is ‘helping’ others because she cares for them, but her motives are selfish. For example, she wants to put a spell on Lucas because ‘she’ wants to get back at him for what he did to Hana, even though Hana warned her not to do such a thing. Lyla also does it again when she rushes off to protect someone she thinks is Caleb and drags others along with her. In the end she is instrumental in Nathan's death because 'she' decided what they should do with the Preacher, leaving Nathan wide open to attack. Another completely selfish move on her part under the disguise of 'doing what's best for Nathan.' I can imagine Nathan thinking he was betrayed by his own niece before he died. I don’t find Lyla appealing at all. The secondary characters are more balanced and logical. Nathan, Hana, Sage, Caleb were enjoyable to read and I liked finding out about their hopes, fears and dreams. I think the first four chapters were a waste of time, and laid on pretty thick to the point of manipulation, how much Lyla loved her dad, all the things they did together and the memories she had. The information didn't move the story along and could have been drastically cut, if not eliminated. Some scenes were irrelevant. Do I really want or need to know what Lyla wore to her last day at school or her snog with her boyfriend since her boyfriend had no presence in the story later on except as unreturned text messages? I think it would have been much more effective to have the story start at chapter five in the middle of the action as Lyla and her mother move to Salem, where the book starts to get interesting, and then give the readers flashbacks as to why, and how, Lyla got to be where she was. I really enjoyed the information about Freya and the powers that the Mercers were given. I wish the author had woven a much more in depth legend around this. For me the story really moved a long when we found out more about the Mercer family, about the Coven and the people connected to the Preacher. The author did a good job of revealing the secrets slowly throughout the story. It kept me reading to see what came next. Something I noticed right away was the ‘voice’ of Lyla when she was speaking in external scenes to friends etc., and when the dialogue switched to Lyla’s internal thoughts or her descriptive thoughts about her environment. External scenes moved quickly, the pace was good, it kept me interested. But then suddenly, wham! Internal dialogue or descriptors of a building, or Hana’s clothes, etc., and the scene came to a screeching halt. The inner dialogue no longer sounded like a teenage girl’s thoughts or manner of speech, but of an adult. It was like Lyla had a split personality. The teenage Lyla the author had created and the internal Lyla that was really the voice of the author. The discrepancy was jolting enough that it pulled me out of the story. It almost made me want to skip over the overly detailed descriptions and internal thought paragraphs because there was too much and the ‘Lyla’s’ weren’t consistent. Don’t get me wrong, I happen to love description, probably more than a lot of people. But sometimes there is just too much. I have to say the ending was pretty exciting and kept me flipping the pages. It only slowed down again when Lyla went into thought and descriptive mode. I’m disappointed with the fact that Nathan died. I was kind of hoping Nathan and Lyla’s mom could have become a couple. In conclusion, this book has a great plot; it’s the one redeeming quality that kept me reading. The action scenes are very good. I’d suggest in any future books in this series, that the author takes the suggestion of, ‘cut, cut, cut and cut some more,’ the overabundance of unnecessary scenes. And even when you think you’re done, cut some more. Watch out for the change in tone from external events to internal dialogue and descriptions of the scenery through Lyla’s eyes. Be consistent with how a teenager thinks and views the world, not of a teenager in the action and external scenes, and then switching to the author’s voice for the internal dialogue and descriptions. I’d like to give the book four stars, but I can’t. I would give the book only two stars because of the many distractions throughout it, but the plot is what lets me give this three stars.
  • The Very Thought of Him on Feb. 28, 2012

    This is a very short, het porn fic, only twenty-one pages long. The story is told through the eyes of Dara an older woman. This story is pretty much porn-without plot. I had my suspicions pretty quickly that this ‘story’ was just Dara’s fantasy and I was correct, we find this out in the last four pages. It was OK. There wasn’t anything that really stood out for me. I most likely won’t read this again.
  • Warrior Reborn on Feb. 18, 2013

    I received this book from the author for an honest review. Warrior Reborn is the second book in The Guardians of Eden series. This story centers on Briet, a healer among her people known as the Guardians. The Guardians are a race of beings created to safeguard mankind and they live in a Sanctum in a place called Eden. Each Guardian has one mate that they hope to find within their very long, almost immortal lifetime. After one hundred and fifty years, Briet finds her’s in the form of Jason Ballard, a man who watches over the cancer treatments and protocols for Briet’s young patients. I think the author grew in her writing abilities when she created the MCs for this story. I enjoyed them much more than I did Turen and Mia in the first book. One of the reasons is because Briet remained strong-willed and independent throughout the story even though she fell in love with Jason. In the first story Betrayal’s Shadow, as soon as Mia fell in love and became pregnant, she turned into a damsel in distress and that ruined a lot of the first book for me. Here, the author did much better in keeping the lively spirit of Briet intact. I liked how the author created Briet to be a loving, caring person yet giving Jason space to face his past demons but also helping him to face them. The author walked a fine line in creating a personality in Briet that was an ideal female that molded to a male’s personality, but also retained her own independence and spirit. The author did much better with Briet than she did with Mia. At first I didn’t care for Jason at all and agreed with Briet’s older brother, Angsgar, when he said this: ”Because you look like some playboy wannabe with a fast car, a hot job, and girls to spare.” Angsgar glared at Jason, his fisted hands at his side ready to draw a punch. I found Jason to be an unlikeable character for almost half the book, but the author did a good job of showing that underneath Jason’s cool, playboy exterior there were glimpses of compassion he wouldn’t show anyone, but Briet broke through Jason’s walls. The breaking down of Jason’s walls took place at a believable pace. There would usually be an event that pushed Jason to take another step closer to Briet until he was ready to make a commitment. The secondary characters were enjoyable and I hope that the author will write some stories about them in the future. I’d like to know if Grimm finds a mate, and it would be awesome if Jason’s brother Frank finds a mate among the Guardians. Frank seems like he would be a perfect fit to help the Guardians both within the Sanctum and out in the human world. This brings me to the point of view changes. Warrior Reborn is told in third person mainly through the eyes of Briet and Jason. The author had two good ways of changing povs; one was with paragraph separators and the other through chapter changes. However, and this is a big however, for the first half of the book the author had another way of changing povs that I disliked immensely. There would be sudden pov changes between Briet and Jason within the middle of a conversation or scene. I felt as if I was getting whiplash. I’d be in one person’s mind and then swoosh, I’d suddenly find myself looking at the scene from the other character’s eyes. The pov changes left no mystery as to what the other characters were thinking or feeling. Everything was laid out or explained once we were in the other person’s head and the scene lost all suspense and became flat. I haven’t the foggiest idea why the author felt compelled to jump from head to head. The scenes would have easily worked by continuing in the original person’s viewpoint. There are numerous grammatical errors such as missing words and transposed words. The cancer treatments and Salvatore’s involvement with the research was a good mystery. It went over my head a bit but I consider that more me since I don’t really understand medical research. One interesting point was the development of Jason’s powers after he mated with Briet. The author went into nice detail with that. I also liked that the descriptions in the story were not overdone or flowery. There was just enough but not too much. The pace of the story was good and I don’t remember a point where it felt too slow. The sex scenes between Jason and Briet were very good, much better than in the first book between Turen and Mia. In fact, I liked that in this story the sex was more shown through the male’s pov, whereas the first book was more through Mia’s. I normally read M/M and don’t find M/F sex all that interesting, there are only a couple authors that make it interesting enough for me to read but I was pleasantly surprised with the scenes in this book. I give this story 4.0 stars. This is a good, unique series and I look forward to reading the books that follow.