Brenda Ayala

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Smashwords book reviews by Brenda Ayala

  • The Athena Effect on Feb. 13, 2013
    (no rating)
    Wow. I literally just finished the last page, and I'm astounded. I haven't come across a book I liked this much in a while. The Athena Effect is absolutely a book I will recommend to anyone and everyone. I was able to read this in exchange for an honest review, something I'm glad to do. The plot given on the website is nothing compared to the actual book; it doesn't do it justice. Frankly, when I read the summary given on GoodReads I didn't think it would be something I would fall in love with. It's a general description of two teenagers from different walks of life with the same nickname. Cali is from "the country," and Cal is a "biker bad boy." The thing is, these descriptions don't fit either of them accurately at all. I'm not sure if the description was purposefully vague, but I think it should reflect the actual plotline, which is this: Cali literally lives off the land with her parents, living with no ties whatsoever to the modern world aside from books. When her parents unexpectedly die, she's forced to move in with her aunt she's never met and discover a world far beyond her understanding. And she must hide her special ability from everyone. Except Cal. He comes across it accidentally, and suffice to say that he's dumbfounded by a girl who is so unequivocally different than any other person he's ever met. When a mad scientist (literally) hunts her down, their feelings are tested as well as Cali's determination and strength. It's amazing. Truly. The novel was well written and fluid. There were never any moments where I was confused as to which Cal was being talked about, which is a triumph in itself. And I loved both Cals. Cali's strength is amazing, and I admit I wish I could do half the things she can do. Cal was heartwarming, in the way that he was trying to run away from his feelings about his parents. When Cali forces him to rethink his life, we see a transformation. Hence, heartwarming. Not to mention Jarod and Crystal. While they both have their faults, they are truly lovable characters and I found that I cared about them surprisingly more than I though I would. The same goes for Layla. I ached for the childhood she could never have, and I wanted her to have the experiences of being a normal teenager that she desperately wanted. Even Michael was relatable. Poor kid was always shunned to the side, since he didn't have the same power that his sister Layla did. He was always an afterthought, that much was clear just in the short timespan we see him in the novel. The plot is fantastic. It was well thought out and well articulated. My only complaint is that I don't want to wait for the second one. I am amazed this book doesn't have a bigger following. But rest assured, I will be whoring this book out to everyone I know. I personally am going to be anticipating the second book. I'm hooked.
  • The Athena Effect on March 02, 2013
    (no rating)
    Wow. I literally just finished the last page, and I'm astounded. I haven't come across a book I liked this much in a while. The Athena Effect is absolutely a book I will recommend to anyone and everyone. I was able to read this in exchange for an honest review, something I'm glad to do. The plot given on the website is nothing compared to the actual book; it doesn't do it justice. Frankly, when I read the summary given on GoodReads I didn't think it would be something I would fall in love with. It's a general description of two teenagers from different walks of life with the same nickname. Cali is from "the country," and Cal is a "biker bad boy." The thing is, these descriptions don't fit either of them accurately at all. I'm not sure if the description was purposefully vague, but I think it should reflect the actual plotline, which is this: Cali literally lives off the land with her parents, living with no ties whatsoever to the modern world aside from books. When her parents unexpectedly die, she's forced to move in with her aunt she's never met and discover a world far beyond her understanding. And she must hide her special ability from everyone. Except Cal. He comes across it accidentally, and suffice to say that he's dumbfounded by a girl who is so unequivocally different than any other person he's ever met. When a mad scientist (literally) hunts her down, their feelings are tested as well as Cali's determination and strength. It's amazing. Truly. The novel was well written and fluid. There were never any moments where I was confused as to which Cal was being talked about, which is a triumph in itself. And I loved both Cals. Cali's strength is amazing, and I admit I wish I could do half the things she can do. Cal was heartwarming, in the way that he was trying to run away from his feelings about his parents. When Cali forces him to rethink his life, we see a transformation. Hence, heartwarming. Not to mention Jarod and Crystal. While they both have their faults, they are truly lovable characters and I found that I cared about them surprisingly more than I though I would. The same goes for Layla. I ached for the childhood she could never have, and I wanted her to have the experiences of being a normal teenager that she desperately wanted. Even Michael was relatable. Poor kid was always shunned to the side, since he didn't have the same power that his sister Layla did. He was always an afterthought, that much was clear just in the short timespan we see him in the novel. The plot is fantastic. It was well thought out and well articulated. My only complaint is that I don't want to wait for the second one. I am amazed this book doesn't have a bigger following. But rest assured, I will be whoring this book out to everyone I know. I personally am going to be anticipating the second book. I'm hooked.
  • Evan Burl and the Falling, Vol. 1-2 on May 03, 2013

    At first when I finished Evan Burl and the Falling I was outraged. How could the author possibly end the novel like that? It didn't explain anything!! There was no resolution with where they end up, and I was infuriated. It wasn't until I found out that there's going to be a second one that the fire was diminished. Now, I'm satisfied with the ending. The synopsis given is extremely vague, as is the term "monster". The entire time, we are expecting Evan to transform into this animalistic creature that will be the end of everyone, including those he loves. Which is true, to an extent. We learn this when we see through Pearl's, Henri's and Claire's eyes. They see a visceral thing trying to break free from the confines of Evan's psyche. It's a curious manifestation, and proved to be very interesting. However, we find that this "monster" that Evan was cracked up to be never really rears his head the way we expect it to. Instead, Anastasia turns out to be the little devil. Her point of view was a strange twist. I thought it was considerably unnerving that there was no conscience on her part; no recognition of what she was truly doing. It was also a bit scary that she didn't realize that all the animals she thought were alive really weren't, as was the case with the rat and the kitten. Very creepy, and very well done. I actually predicted Anastasia's role in this. It seemed obvious from the beginning that she would be the antagonist in some form or another, which proved to be true. I don't think I'm ruining anything by saying that. However, there are still several bits of the plot that I'm puzzling over. I'm not totally sure what the deal was that Henri made with Mazol, not completely anyway. I'll probably go back and read those parts again. I'm not sure why the fallings were all in chests, although I have a feelings it has something to do with keeping them safe, and also delivering chests. I'm not sure who stabbed Claire's and Anastasia's father. I'll have to contemplate it for a while. It is definitely an interesting and unusual work, and I have to say I enjoyed it. It's definitely an exciting, action-packed read that I would recommend.
  • Into the Night on May 03, 2013

    Into the Night was way better than I expected it to be. I'm a bit apprehensive reading books about so many supernatural beings because in the past I haven't seen it done very well. There's often no solid story, or the characters don't actually have any characteristics. In this case, there was a bit of the author telling me what was happening rather than showing me. And maybe I missed it, but I don't actually remember getting a description of many of the characters, including Logan. Even Gerard I only remember his eyes being described and later on his accent. It doesn't bother me too much because I just constructed what they looked like in my head, but for those who want to know exactly how the characters are supposed to look might get ticked off. One other thing that bothered me too is that when Logan first witnesses the fights, the first description of each person is how he couldn't really see what was different about them, yet he still believes they're supernatural. Like the zombie, yet after being so doubtful about everything once he steps in the arena and someone tells him that the regular looking person is a zombie then he's a believer. Those (actually quite small) issues aside, I really enjoyed Into the Night. I thought every single character was portrayed excellently; they had specific characteristics and they stuck to them. I hate it when books will change a person's traits just to fit the situation (cough cough Mockingjay) so I was super ridiculously excited about everyone staying true to what and who they were here. I had strong opinions about basically all the characters, which means I cared. I thought Zane was depressing. Not because he himself is depressing, but because his whole love for Penny and how that manifests itself and why Penny rebuffs his advances. It was sad, and while I thought he was a bit creepy at times with how he interacted with her the basic reason for it was sweet. Penny irritated me beyond belief with all her secrets, but I actually really liked her quite a bit. I'm just no good at keeping secrets that could potentially kill someone. Gena was sweet but misguided, and again I really liked her. She tried so hard to do the right thing and help everyone, even if she didn't know she was going about it the wrong way. Plus I give her a lot of credit with how she dealt with the information Penny gave her later on in the novel. AJ was too spiteful, but I understand why. She went her entire life never trusting anyone, and then the moment she does something bad happens. It makes sense, and I can't say that I blame her, but for the sake of survival I wish she'd at least let it lay to rest. But the thing is, I still really liked all the characters. Even Gerard and Jackson are well done. I hated them, absolutely hated them. Gerard for what he has done and Jackson for what I know we will find out he's done later on. I know there's something there, and I have a theory, but I'll keep it to myself in case I spoil it for anyone (or myself). As far as the plot goes, I was satisfied. I actually figured that the entire first book would just be an emphasis on life in general at the estate. I thought we would see Logan's first fight, and that he would end up in the infirmary, and only see him just barely beginning to be unhappy there. Instead, Into the Night just jumped way ahead of me (which I'm extremely okay with, I liked it way better than what I was expecting!) and made it way more awesome than I expected. And while the first portion of the book is mostly talking and descriptions, the second half is quite a bit of action, and I appreciate that. I've seen my share of movies and read my fair share of books with gore, so I like a little action and blood in my stories. I even got emotional. Which is huge. I haven't gotten emotional over a book in so long. The way Logan's past was done was excellent. While I knew something obviously tragic happened, it wasn't until the story progressed that I found out why. Most notably with his reaction to Penny, of course. But when he finally reveals it to everyone, I definitely got emotional. That whole little scene where everyone reveals their past was magnificent. I loved it. Especially his parents. I give this 4 stars instead of 5 only because I'm so mad about the cliffhanger! I got sucked into the story and even got all teary eyed at one point (which hasn't happened in a while) and then it just ends and I'm so not a patient person and I want to see what happens and I'm mad at the author for making such an excellent cliffhanger. Veiled compliment I suppose, because I wasn't ready for the book to end and now I am dying to read the second! I'm going to keep an eye out for the second one, and I am very anxious to find out what happens..... I hate waiting.
  • The Mackenzie Legacy on May 03, 2013

    Once again, I am immensely satsified. The Mackenzie Legacy picks up where The Athena Effect left off, with Cal squared happily together after Cali escaped the evil scientist. I would like to draw attention again to all the characters. Cal and Cali both have a level of ferocity that I find totally acceptable, given the reasons. Cal's insecurities regarding Cali are not unfounded, and his actions were easily traced to these worries. Cali's entire focus is on helping others and finding a family for herself. I was so happy when Jarod and Crystal came back into the picture, and I think their situation was handled well. Jim came in a little late to the game, and I'm hoping we get to see his character and relationships develop more in the next installment. He's off to a good start, and I can only hope that he stays the course. What I was really intent on though was Layla and Michael. Whereas in The Athena Effect I liked Michael despite his mistake, in this he ground on my nerves quite a bit. He was idiotic and stubborn and blind to what was right in front of him, and I was beyond irritated that he chose a man he knew to be a criminal over his own sister. He pissed me off to no end. Layla was the exact opposite. I enjoyed her desire to be free, and the steps she took to try and make that happen. She was defiant and willing to fight back in some manner, like Caledonia. I even liked her faults—her high maintenance tastes, her total lack of conscience about using her ability on whoever she wanted. She was raised by the scientist, and it showed. It was accurate to what I think someone would actually have grown up to be, especially since she learned from an early age that these behaviors were acceptable. She doesn't know any other way, and I think that will play a larger role later on. Perhaps Cali will have to knock her down a bit so she's not so full of herself, I don't know. And obviously there's going to be some connection to the land they own. I was reminded of The Stand, Stephen King's (gigantic) dystopian novel. In it, all the “good guys” dream of an old woman sitting on a porch beckoning to them. This is a similar case, and I can't wait to see what it uncovers. I enjoy the romance aspect to this series (which is unusual for me; I have found that I'm kind of tired of YA romance) and love who everyone is with. I want Crystal to stick around. I obviously want the Cals together. And I hope even Layla and Michael find someone special for each of them. It seems as if Layla may have found someone already.... I'm very, very happy with this series. It's only two books in and I'm hooked and I love it. I'm going to be anxiously waiting for the third to come out, preferably sooner rather than later! Also, I just want to take a moment to draw attention to the author. Derrolyn Anderson is self-publishing. And she is amazing at it. I have never come across an indie author whose writing is so polished and near perfect that it could conceivably have come from any major publishing house. The writing is so fluid and easy to follow. There are no info dumps, no random and drawn out unneeded descriptions. It's amazing, and I highly recommend her work.
  • To Stand Beside Her on May 12, 2013

    SPOILERS! DON'T READ IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED I expected a much more upsetting ending after I was (rather forcefully) warned that this didn't have a happy ever after, but I'll get to that in a bit. To Stand Beside Her is this in a nutshell: badass courier who can do basically everything willingly gets captured by a king to save her friend, then falls in love with said king. I liked this story. Leila's skills were impressive and I think the best parts were the ones where we got to see her in action. There's not as much of that as I would have liked, but I can overlook that. She has expert training in battle both with weapons and without, with escaping, with camouflage, etc. She finds that everywhere she goes people align themselves to her because she's so honest and beautiful. And I stress that because it's very fair to say that people like to help pretty people. Especially if it's a pretty girl with a knockout bod (this was described to us every time a different guy kidnapped her) that's asking for the help. The relationship between Leila and Nalick just didn't work for me at first. It was too quick of a turn around. She absolutely despises this guy, has heard numerous stories of his ruthlessness, and forces her to his kingdom (which basically every king has tried to kidnap her) by taking her friend. And within a very short span of time she's dropped all reservations. It was too sudden, as if she totally forgot the fact that he placed one of her loved ones in peril. While I can argue that all he did was throw her in jail, again, Leila supposedly heard all kinds of rumors about his ruthlessness, and yet this doesn't worry her one bit. I know she's confident about her escaping ability but her entire mood changed when it was Philip who was taken, not Kay. That aside, though, I really like the relationship between the two of them after that beginning point. It wasn't so gushy and annoying as many romance books, and I was appreciative that it managed to be romantic without shoving the gooey down my throat. As a general rule I tend to like minor characters in novels more than the main characters, and that was the case here again. I always enjoyed anytime the children, Roger, Theo or Anatolio were in the scene. They were always supportive of Leila and Nalick and ready to help at a moment's notice. It was pleasant to learn more about these characters as the novel progressed. Okay, now I'm going to talk about the ending... SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I really don't get it. I was expressly warned that this did not have a happy ending, but that's exactly what it was. I mean yeah, Nalick dies after only 10 years of them being together, but really, come on. He's going to die saving his child. And he knows, thanks to the seer, that his family will be successful and well taken care of thanks to him and Leila and Anatolio and all the others. I don't see how this is a bad ending. Especially for Leila. She's had a million (exaggerating I know) marriage proposals and had countless men in love with her, so that's nothing new. But she gets to love three men in her life without having to deal with jealousy or bitterness. Come on now, I don't think that's bad at all! I mean sure two out of three died and that's why she moves on, but it's still pretty damn good luck to have so many men willing to love her and that she loves in return. And Anatalio gets to have his time with her, so he's happy. Nalick has babies with her, so he's happy. Erich I assume was happy because he was the one who was originally going to be with her forever til he died. I just don't see how it's a bad ending. I kept waiting to see that Leila would die from the poison stones in her back or that Nalick would die because of some twist or something. Okay now that that's out of the way... I really enjoyed this novel. The characters were fleshed out enough that I had no problem with development, and I was pleased with the scenes of Leila teaching others the skills she had. The villains were especially villainy, essentially dirty old pervy men. With the exception of quite a few missing words and wrong words, it's well written. I would definitely read this author again.
  • The Legend of the Blue Eyes on June 03, 2013

    The Legend of the Blue Eyes was good. I liked it. But if I'm being honest it's not something I would pick up again. Basically the entire book is about Arianna being doted upon by almost every young male she comes into contact with. Very little focus is on the actual plot, which is the legend. While I do recognize that this is the first in a series and therefore more of an introduction rather than a continuation of a plot, I felt more time needed to be spent on progressing. Instead, the only progression we get is her kissing Devin, then Turner, then Andrew. Then Thomas comes into the picture, who she hasn't kissed yet, but I'm willing to bet that it's coming soon. I know virtually nothing about Jackson and Micah and yet I liked them because they weren't fawning all over this girl that really hasn't done anything to deserve all the praise. Yes, she's pure blood, but that's genetic. Her best character trait is that she's not snooty about sharing her blood. And the fact that this is such a small part of the book just doesn't make me think she's anything special, especially not to have all these guys falling at her feet at the slightest whim. Also, why is no one embarrassed about her unbuttoning all of their shirts in random public places? I get it, she needs to hear a heartbeat, but you don't need to get topless to do that. I don't know. I didn't dislike it, but I wasn't really impressed either. I wanted to skim through a lot of the whole "Devin is so calm all the time but I like Turner because he's carefree" paragraphs. What I did like was the relationship between her grandfather and her great uncle, and I wish the prejudices of the two different races would have been played up more. I also really loved the transformations! They weren't grotesque (which I didn't expect anyway) but the changes were radical enough that a change was actually noticeable. I think this is a great way to distance the book from other vampire books out there, where they still look human and don't change at all. With the exception of being ridiculously gorgeous of course. Edit: it's not clear who Thomas is. I can assume he's the tengu, but that's never actually told to us. Edit 2: The baby talk while she was drunk on blood was downright annoying. She doesn't want to be treated like a child and then proceeds to act like one. One more thing: I counted at least 5 instances where the sentence went like this: "But," Arianna complained. (It got to the point where it was a bit distracting for me. I'm probably the only one that noticed, but hey. Just thought I'd mention it)