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Smashwords book reviews by Ezinwanyi

  • Guardian of Eden on Aug. 02, 2011

    I really enjoyed this book. It appealed to the mother in me and just tugged at the my heart strings. The issues it dealt with such as incest, child abuse/neglect etc are such delicate subjects, but the author approached them with a tender hand and with sensitivity. Leslie DuBois did a fine job in making this story relatable. First of all, I don’t think the author’s/publisher’s description of the book does it justice. In fact, I found it quite misleading. I would have named this book “Keeping Secrets” or the “Past Revisited”. This is a book about how the past shaped and continued to shape a family’s future. In this book, we are introduced to Garrett Anthony, a young man who is struggling to find himself in addition to taking care of his sister Eden. Garrett is seventeen, but with all life experiences he is more like forty years old. Their mother Holly was a recovering substance abuser but she just lacked serious parental skills. Also, Holly was just a lost soul. She lacked the mental fortitude to deal with anything. So at a young age, Garrett began to parent himself and Eden. It was clear that Garrett had emotional and psychological issues because all that responsibility was traumatic. The two kids are forced to go to counseling by Child Protective Services case worker, which doesn’t seem to have a positive effect on Garrett. But he starts to find happiness with Madison McPhee, a young girl who works at his school’s newspaper. They were outsiders who seemed to connect, except for the fact that he is a black boy and she is a white daughter of a US senator. Garrett’s mother Holly meets a photographer Corbin, and finally they seem to have a normal family life. But then Garrett meets his biological father, who is in prison. Garrett starts learning about his father’s past as well as his mother’s past. The wall of secrets begins unraveling and a new tragedy is set into motion. The author did a great job developing the story and the characters, peeling layer after layer until we got to the heart of the issue plaguing this family. The story was sad but realistic. I wish Holly had developed more as a mother and had been strong enough to fight her demons in order to protect her children. I would love a follow-up novella to see how the family coped after the tragedy.
  • What Karla Wants (Wings from Ashes, #1) on Sep. 02, 2011

    This story was about a high school teenager named Karla Centon. Her family moved after her father got a new job in another town. She wasn’t that popular in her old school, so she may have seen this new school as a new opportunity to reinvent herself. She meets a girl named Carol and Carol befriends her. It is obvious that Carol has some bad behavior from the beginning, but Karla chose to overlook it. Carol was drinking, shop lifting, unconcerned with her education or really her future, lacked parental guidance and Carol was appeared to be a bully. Karla didn’t really stand up for herself or her values, but then again, the author didn’t make it clear whether Karla even had good values. At least Karla’s mom asked where she was going and appeared concerned, whereas Carol’s mom was just clueless. Carol invites Karla to a house party where drugs and alcohol were present. Karla takes a drink from Carol and never asked her what she was drinking. Karla also didn't ask Carol what was the substance that Carol dropped into the drinks that fizzed. At the end of the night (and book), Karla ended up at the hospital. A lot of things come to light. 1) Lots of great issues touched upon: self-esteem, shoplifting, drugs, date rape, drinking, academics vs. sports, parental/child relationships or lack thereof, dangers of alcoholism, consequences of job loss, bullying etc. However, it was too much stuff for such a small book. Also these subjects were mentioned but not delved into. I would have preferred 1-3 topics fully developed rather than this kitchen sink type of plot. 2) I didn’t like the fact that I didn’t have a good grasp on Karla’s personality. Was she a strong person before meeting Carol and was duped? Or was she a follower anyway? I would like to say that she would not have had sex with Gerry without the date rape drug…but I can’t. Karla didn’t seem to take a stand on much, so I don’t know what her behavior would have been. Either way, it doesn’t excuse Gerry’s behavior. 3) The date rape drugs, alcohol and jocks theme is kind of stereotypical, but I do appreciate the point that sometimes being with the Captain of the football team can cloud a girl’s judgment. But Date rape is hard to prove. I am surprised Carol was so forth coming, that seems inconsistent with her personality. I didn't like the cops not being truthful with the Karla. 4) There were issues with the family that wasn’t explored well. For instance, Mrs. Centon’s drinking was mentioned a lot but we don’t know when she started, how long and what may have precipitated the drinking. Alcoholism in woman is becoming a problem in society, so the author could have expounded on that issue, and it affected the family. Instead there were a couple of sentences thrown in about foreclosure due to her behavior/problem. 5) Carol seemed to have set Karla up from the minute she realized Karla was from a rival school. But then Carol seemed genuinely upset that Karla was gang-raped and that she overdosed on drugs. Carol said this was what they did to rivals, which leads me to believe that Carol has done this to a previous girl. So why the remorse now? Also, how does Carol afford alcohol and drugs? Surely she can steal clothes, but it’s hard to steal drugs and alcohol. This book was disturbing to me. I realize that the subject matter is a very real issue in our society and deserves a lot of discussion, but I don’t think it was done well. There are a lot of holes in the plot or areas that require much more development. My suggestion would be to use this story as an outline and then go back and expand on the issues the author wants to bring to the forefront. A good idea, perhaps not executed as well as the author could have. Finally, I think a better title would have been "Choice of Friends". **I won this book as part of the LibraryThing Member Giveaway**
  • The Devil of DiRisio (Dancing Dream #2) on Nov. 07, 2011

    This sequel follows our heroine Sonya Garrison, as she begins the next phase of her life training at the DiRisio Academy in Rome. Sonya is following her dream of becoming a ballet dancer as well as continuing her romance with basketball player Will Maddox. Will plays basketball for the Rome team Lottomattica. If you remember from Book 1 ([[ASIN:B004S7A9AM The Queen Bee of Bridgeton (Dancing Dream #1)]]), Will saved Sonya by finding proof that Sonya's sister, Sasha and the Bitch Brigade were framing Sonya for cheating, thus preventing her expulsion for academic honor code violation at the Bridgeton Academy. In this novel, Sonya's plate is full of personal and professional drama. First, she is being trained by the ballet taskmaster Alejandro and all that comes with training to be the best. She has the partner from hell in Pierre, who seems to enjoy causing Sonya's downfall, literally. Sonya is also dealing with Will continued insistence that they get married even though she is only 17 years old. Now, her sister Sasha has arrived at her doorstep in Rome, claiming to have changed and wanting to make amends to Sonya. Add to that, a new hip-hop instructor named Damian Karl comes to town. In him, Sonya gains a dancing partner that is so attuned to her, it is as if they are one while dancing. Sonya and Damian develops feelings for one another, and soon Sonya is forced to make a choice between her first love Will and her dancing partner Damian Karl. I am going to be in the minority but I have to say that I had no problems with Will's actions. All is fair in love and war, right? Is Will supposed to help his rival gain his lady's love? Will was protecting his own interests and it was okay with me. If Sonya really wanted, she could have emailed, texted or called Damian for answers, right? Well, Sonya didn't fight for what she wanted and Will did. One gripe that I have is that, it doesn't appear that Sonya has learned from her previous issues. I find that she is still entirely too gullible and childish in her decision-making. She leaves herself dependent on Will, but then gets mad when he maneuvers her towards the direction of what HE wants. Same thing with Damian. By being overly passive, she basically lets others make decisions for her. I had hoped she would take charge of her life and be more in sync with her own needs and desires. I hope that in Book 3, that Sonya finally stands up and grabs the bull (her life) by the horns and steers it in the direction that she wants. I want to see her grow up, but I have to keep reminding myself that she is only seventeen. I enjoyed the author's writing style, but I would like to see more character development for the secondary characters like Damien and Will and roommate Anna Marie. I look forward to Book 3, where I believe Sonya will finally come into her own. ******I won this book from the LibraryThing Members Giveaway******
  • Meeting Destiny on Feb. 03, 2012

    Lauren Davis, a 21 year old college senior, is your typical girl, except she has a special intuition about people, especially bad people. So she is able to steer clear of certain people because she gets a feeling about them. One day, during her shift at the Tasty Burger, she gets a feeling about a customer. Lauren ends up preventing that customer from robbing the fast food joint, but ends up shot in the leg. When the paramedics arrive on the scene, Lauren realizes that she just crossed paths with her destiny. One of the paramedics, Max Meyer, has been appearing in her dreams for about four years. She doesn’t know much about him, but she knows there is electricity about them. Lauren isn’t sure what to do, but she feels that Max has to remain close to her as she goes to the hospital. Once she comes out of surgery, it is as though the inner Lauren awakes and she begins to realize her true self. This is when the journey of self-actualization begins and the story takes off. One of the things that I liked about Lauren is that as a character she started growing up fast. She became more vocal, more decisive and comfortable with her choices. She also becomes taking steps to cultivate her “destiny”. This book was an okay read for me. It was light reading and was a quick read. I had a few issues with it. First, I found the lack of dialogue with the dad a little weird. I don’t even know if he was there at the hospital like her mom. Also, this book didn’t contain enough paranormal elements for me to consider it a true paranormal romance. The romance between Lauren and Max was a bit shallow. It felt like Lauren pursued Max because she had to (she was fated to), and not so much because she wanted to. I wish the relationship was built up gradually as opposed to Lauren aggressively calling & pursuing. It was so over the top that I felt that Lauren’s actions were more of a compulsion. I hope that book 2 really explains their connection much better than book 1. If that is done, then it can redeem their connection and “love” (I just don’t see real love right now) as a real bond. Overall, it was an interesting plot and fairly good story telling. I would classify it as YA, for 14 and up, because of a few sexual innuendos. The ending of Book 1 was sad, but it is obvious that the story doesn’t end there. I would read book 2 to get some answers to the questions posed in this introductory book. *Thank you to the author for sharing a copy of her book with me**