One question: How did Maddie survived??? This question baffles me. I don't mean to be rude to the character, or insensitive and cold-heart, but it escapes me the logical reason of how she survived.
First of all, I will like to say that this review will be loaded with spoilers and honest, definitely honest, remarks and opinions.
I would like to start saying that this was a ____(I'll let you fill in the blank)______ ride all over again. -fingernails on chalkboard- you get the idea. I cringed at all the spots where I could tell this was possibly a rip-off, but with a set of very different characters.
Basic story line: Clumsy, accident-prone, pretty but thinks no one believes so, girl goes hiking in the mountains. She is attacked by a stranger who randomly decided to capture her and torture her, rescued by someone who irradiates "incandescent beauty" (quoting from the book. reminds you of someone else?), is brought home by this handsome stranger with "dark looks" to be look after by him and his nice, beautiful family. When the family finds out she is human everything goes kaboom! and they say it's impossible for them to be together, but nobody listens (obviously). Stuff happens and next thing you know, they want to get marry but do not want to have sex before they're married (sounds familiar??). Family of the guy is super rich and have these expensive, sporty cars. Everyone loves to run. The clumsy girl is given all the riches anyone would want. Ending: horrible cliffhanger, which translates into: the story cannot stand on itself. It is crippled and needs crutches, direly.
Now, enough ranting about the plot. Let me get into the technical side. This story was messy, especially with all the switches of perspectives. First Maddie, then Rayn, and then a third person perspective. Somewhere in Maddie's perspective, the third-person perspective of the killer is thrown into, which tipped me off and confused me for a minute. I felt much of what happened during Rayn's perspective was just repetition of what happened during Maddie's. Nothing new, except that Rayn explains about his world and his duties and professes love for Maddie. A "love" which we already know because the author made a great job at telling us how much love they had for each other.
More about the technical part: I was annoyed by all the flashbacks Maddie has about her family and their deaths. Yes, they're tragic, but do we really need to be reminded of them all the time? These flashbacks were really confusing because I lost track of time. Also, Hargrove provided us with a book that was a "tell" almost on all its entirety. Where is the "show rather than tell" that all good authors should abide to? Was this book even edited?
It was really hard to connect with the characters. The love relationship between the two was so distant and unbelievable. Maddie was selfish, at best, because even though Rayn gave everything to her (for no apparent reason to do it, just because he is plain stupid) she is still thinking of herself. Let's get into the realistic factor, shall we?
Back to the first question, how the heck Maddie survived after being slashed across the face, heavily bruised, with several cuttings in her body, shot with arrows (?!?!?!), and then falling almost from a 30 ft free fall. It is impossible. She didn't even once cried for pain, it would have been humane for Hargrove to at least describe some of the pain because that was pure torture and slaughter. Maddie seemed "cool" with it. Oh, first of all, who goes camping on the mountains alone?
Rayn rescues her, and he immediately has feelings for her, declaring to his family that he wants to make Maddie his mate. Man, that was fast. Obviously the family opposes because they're from two separate worlds but Rayn doesn't care because he loves her so much.
Much thing happen in the middle. Which also annoyed me was the fact that Maddie wasn't into Rayn at first, but then suddenly she loves him. There was no gradual change or growth. It was just spontaneous. Rayn's family loves Maddie (except one). Rayn takes Maddie to a ride in one of his luxurious cars. Maddie is a rude girl, at least for me, she is not grateful, I don't even think she said "thank you" to Rayn and his family for all the attention they've given her.
The humor in this book was trite and plain silly. Is taking advantage of an alien for not knowing how to correctly say English phrases and slangs humorous? Maddie was teaching Rayn's sister how to correctly say things, like "blur, blur blur", "Spat it out", etc. etc. This was not funny. I don't like Maddie. She is not patient, nice, or kind.
Maddie starts to miraculously walk again after the prognostic that her spine was deeply severed. What happened to her face? Did it healed completely without leaving a scar? I suppose so because Rayn said she was beautiful. I don't know. She also camps out in the mountains again, even after her attack. There was no nervousness from her part, which led me to believe she had already forgotten because Hargrove never mentioned any uncomfortably from Maddie's part.
In the final part of the book, they go camping in the mountains again, and Maddie's attacker attacks her again. Why did he even bother to attack and torture her in the first place? Again, he does horrible things to her and she seems "cool" with it. Like it doesn't hurt that you're being cut in the flesh and shot arrows at. I would have died of pain if I were Maddie.
And we're left with a cliff-hanger, which is something very unnecessary if you ask me because this book cannot stand on its own. I don't even know the solid plot for this book, other than the characters developing feelings (that weren't even there) for each other, making it into a love story that fails. But anyway, the cliff-hanger is there, and the answer seems pretty obvious.
Which one would you decide, go with the dead parents or back to the living world with a man "you love"? I mean, it is plain obvious what she is going to choose. If she were to choose her parents, the dead over the living, there isn't much of a second installment, right?
Throughout this book, I suffered a severe case of constant eye-roll.
Disclaimer: I mean no offense to the author or anyone who liked this book. I'm sure your reasons for liking it are grounded and acceptable. I'm just sorry I cannot see it your way.
** spoiler alert ** Marina is a very lucky girl. She has a renowned scientist as a father, she travels a lot, she has a rich "aunt" who pampers her with high couture clothing, accessories, shoes, etc., she lives with an aunt and cousin who care a lot for her, she meets a handsome surfer who is going to fall in love with her. Besides that, she is part of a mystery, an adventure that envelopes her. This is the story of Marina, a girl who has everything she wants and so easily conferred upon her.
It was far too easy for Marina: meeting Ethan, looking good with all her high-end clothing and shoes, being strong as she is and fending off the "mean beach girls" who bully Cruz and Megan. Marina is the archetype of every teenager's dream: rich, talented, beautiful, mysterious, and the hottest surfer after her. It was sickening...slightly.
I found myself rolling my eyes whenever Marina spoke with such eloquence about what she was wearing and the accessories that came with it. Honestly, I didn't care. The author made Marina seemed like she didn't care about fashion too, but her actions and descriptive words pointed to a different direction. Marina did care and that score a point against her in my eyes.
Ethan, the stereotypical handsome surfer who falls in love with the new girl in town. He is unlike the rest of the surfers he hangs out with and he is deeply concerned about Marina. I just wished there was more dynamics to the romance stories nowadays. This "love" story between Marina and Ethan has been told and regurgitated so many times that is getting old. I just wished the author had come up with something entirely different for both of them. Or have Ethan be something else than a hot surfer. In a sense, I felt the author was also stereotyping California as being the land of hot surfers and beautiful, but bitchy, beach girls with short bikinis. It was all so annoying. I live in California and that is not true.
As I mentioned before, everything came so easy for Marina. It is almost unrealistic.
As for the plot, the mystery was alluring, but I was hoping for more mystery as to Marina keeping the secret for herself instead of telling everybody she knew about it. It just killed the suspense. I got bored when Marina was drowned so many times and rescued as well. I believe that was what I read most of the time. In the last part, when she was pulled into the ocean by the group of mermaids, she got turned into one. But Naida relinquished on Marina giving her a period of 50 moons to decide if she wanted to give up immortality. I think the mermaids let her go way too easily despite the fact that the mermaids wanted to get her into the ocean so vehemently. I just think there are serious inconsistencies in the plot.
I also thought it was all very predictable. I wasn't surprised at the twists (if there were any that is). And wasn't surprised at the characters' attitudes and personalities among each other. I knew those type of characters because they're all stereotypes repeated over and over again in supernatural, young adult fiction!
As for the way the book is structured and where the writing style is concerned... I think the author used way too many words that could've been expressed in less. Translated, that means that this book was unnecessarily long. There were a lot of needless descriptions that only showed me Marina's shallowness. To be honest, I skimmed over some paragraphs of the book and in the end, I felt I understood the essence of the story without reading those paragraphs. The dialogues were what I aimed to read the most because I discovered so much through them. I honestly didn't need to know every single detail of their action. Sometimes you have to let the reader wander off with details.
The mermaids are nice creatures in the book. But mythology says that they lure and drown sailors (like Peter Pan). This wasn't the case. They were nice creatures. I was a bit thrown off by this part because the author twisted the mermaids to make it conform to a typical young adult novel. It was like having a vampire who doesn't die in the sun, but sparkles in it. Utter nonsense. It would have been more thrilling to have the mermaids wanted to threatened Marina's life than being all innocent about it.
Last but not least. The romance. Ugh. I've read this type of romance all over again. Sacrifices? Love beyond everything? To sacrifice eternal life for someone you love? This is a noble act of love, but I've read about it in almost every supernatural, young adult novel. It just doesn't change, does it? And to topple it off, a surfer had to be included in the picture. Not just any kind of surfer, but the "good" type of surfer guy. I found myself hating Ethan rather than loving him for his gentleman-like personality and warm attitudes. Every girl's dream? I don't think so.
I hope all the best for Marina in the second installment.
On a final note, I would not cataloged this as fantasy.
I enjoyed this book very much. I think it was a great journey through Arab-style setting and the immense expanse of desert and magic. The story was good, the descriptive words were captivating, the imagery was well-used, and the metaphors were sort of overused (but I couldn't expect less from a story featuring sages and mages).
The characters were well formed, each with distinct characteristics, personalities, souls, and motivations. I like the characterization and plot development that the story took from its beginnings. It seeped in me a feel of familiarity and growth. As the story progressed, more twists were added to the story, making it an exciting read. Though I must confess that many of the twists and whatnot were kind of predictable. For instance, I knew that Jafar would end up with Cari's ring ten chapters before it actually happened. And that some way or the other, Jafar and Ahmad will end up traveling together. The story, though somewhat original, has a familiar sound from all the fantasy-like stories preceding this one. Though "Shrine of the Desert Mage" has its merits as well.
I didn't like how the first book "ended", like it creates an immediate link to the next installment without giving this installment a proper ending. For example, I don't know what happened to Hakem Rafi and Aeshma other that they escaped. For some reason, at the end of the book, the story shifted and focused more on Ahmad, Umar, Jafar, Selima, and Cari and forgot all about everyone else. One thing that I liked about this story was the objectivity and partiality that the author presented each character, giving the same importance to each one. When I first started reading, I couldn't define who the main characters were because he (the author) wrote of everybody with the same importance.
As for the story, great story, as I mentioned before. For some reason I like Cari the best, and Jafar the least. But that might be because of how Jafar cunningly deceived Cari in the beginning. For the technical part of the writing, I can tell the author did a great job at studying the Middle East and desert-like traditions because the entire book was infused with it. He also used beautiful, artistic, and poetic words to describe many of the settings and instances of the book. I feel that I learned a lot of vocabulary words and customs and traditions from that faraway land.
One thing I was slightly annoyed with was how Umar told Ahmad to recite the origin of Parsina to him. It felt like the author was trying to explain the origins of the world through the mouths of their characters, which I find highly acceptable, but overused by so many authors.
The reason I didn't give this a five star (as I wanted to) was because the story didn't "hook" me. I didn't feel the urge to grab my kindle and read it until I felt satisfied with the amount of reading I did during that determined time, or finished it in one day. However, I do recommend this book.
Well, overall I think this is a great story, beautiful writing style, in-depth analysis and presentation of a totally different culture, and spell-binding story. I will welcome the second installment with much eagerness.
I was thrilled with the theme of this book: the elements, and was kind of surprised when in the synopsis the Fae world was going to be included. But never mind that, I was expecting too much for this book, I raised the bar too high and this book just disappointed me. I thought it was going to be a great, action-packed, fast-paced book where the protagonist discovers she can wield the elements and have to fight bad guys and creatures. But nothing like that, this was NOT fast-paced, it took me so long to pass through the first couple of chapters. NOT at all action-packed because this book was so gullible and full of eye-rolling romance and friendship. In short, I expected more of this book.
I will like to start with Rayla, the main protagonist. I didn't connect with her. Her friendship with Cassie was so queer, were they really best friends? They didn't seem like it, they were so cold and distant. Their conversations were stagnant and hard to relate to. It seems like they were mostly talking about inside jokes rather than something expressive of their friendship. Rayla seems too skeptic at first, then a true believer, and then back to skeptic again. Everything happened and changed so fast, I wasn't expecting any of this and there was no growth in the story at all. That is one of the main reasons I didn't trust Rayla to be a good protagonist. She also gave in to Zach very easily, I was expecting her to be stronger than what she seemed. But she was vulnerable, that makes me sick with hatred.
Her conversation with her aunt was paused, at best. I didn't get anything out of it because Rayla seems to make of everything a joke, a really bad taste of humor in my opinion. The aunt didn't sound concern or worry, or angry, she was just plain and simple. She didn't seem to have any human emotion at all! There was poor character development, which is sad. Usually, if the plot of a book is bad, sometimes the character development saves it a bit. For this case, the plot was okay, development was terrible.
Cute guys, Fae lords, in other words. All wanting to bond with Rayla. I must be honest that sometimes the time Rayla spent together with Zach and Luke were moments of sexual innuendos. I didn't like how Zach came too strong on her, proclaiming he loved him, and she reciprocated after just knowing him for a week! Believable? I don't think so. Zach called her "love" since their first meeting. Rayla felt uncomfortable, and you know it, but next thing you know, she is in Zach's arms, and kissing. Totally unexpected and betrayal of her true feelings. Then there is Luke, sweet, whom we know nothing about yet Rayla falls for him when they were alone in the room. Next thing you know, they are kissing. Utterly disgusting, not because of the kissing, but because of the inconsistencies of the characters, especially Rayla. She is naive, but I say she is plain stupid.
There was very few mention of this magical world, I didn't see any magic or elements. Then again, not action-packed. The bonding ritual seem to go on forever, who should she choose to bond? We didn't find out because Rich thought it would be a good cliff-hanger to let the readers guessing. I don't need to guess. It is obvious who she is choosing, at least for me. Zach, the charming guy who won her heart, or Luke, the guy who said it didn't matter whom she chooses because as long as she is happy with a man, or Fae lord she loves, he is happy as well. Your pick.
The other guys were just -fingernails on chalkboard- unbearable. It just made me sick that so many were trying to bond with Rayla, all after her. I cannot imagine how much she must've suffer. I don't know enough about mythological creatures to judge too much of the accuracy and portrayals of the different creatures, but I felt there weren't any information about these creatures. I wished there were more, at least the reader can get a better world-building. I feel Rich didn't do justice to these mythological creatures, and she scarred the faeries. And she didn't give justice to the use of "elemental power" in her book. They were not portrayed like this in "Lords of the Rings", which for me, is the closest to the truth about fantastical creatures (Fantasy).
There were some typos and missing punctuation.
In conclusion, what I disliked the most was that the story did not feel believable and the character development was just not there. I was expecting too much.
I do not consider this book as a Fantasy Fiction. That is all I have to say.
I've grown out of childhood, therefore children's book aren't really my first attraction. However, I'd think any parent (which I'm not) would like their children to read quality books.
My grievance toward any children books is perhaps the plain and uninteresting character of the protagonist. So far, Molly provides nothing interesting to me, other than being a tomboyish, outspoken, and precocious third grader. Her personality is sometimes a bit unrealistic, like, who would shout nasty things at another girl or being really mean in front of a parent. Also, her conviction of having Tiddles locked up in the house at night is touching, but at the same time sounds like a "dumb" plot. I know the audience for the book are children, but the dialogues sounds a little... rough and at times dumb. I wasn't aware third-grade girls had such rivalry (yep, I can tell they're one their way of becoming teenagers at the age of ten). Maybe I'm wrong and I don't know what kids think about these days.
One thing I like was that the author explained wildlife through dialogues, it is a very educational book. I bet you'll learn a lot about wildlife preservation, how to take care of animals, and the important jobs of carers. It's also very overwhelmingly warm and happy that an eight-year old should care so much about a little animal. It says a lot about Molly's personality. She's strong, compassionate, passionate, headstrong, and stubborn about many things. But in the end, she's a good girl.
Molly gets into a lot of trouble, I mean, a lot. She cannot help it. However, the responses of the adults are not consistent. Molly's father seems like a pretty cool and kind father, but sometimes he acts sterns and then goes back to just "sighing" at her if she does something wrong. Mrs. Ramsbottom personality is extravagant and exaggerated, as in, everything hilarious, mean, and bipolar was thrown together and BAM! the result was the headmistress. The grandmother is a very kind and nice lady, her personality often confuses me too. I cannot imagine her being harsh and stomping her cane on the floor (like when she did when Molly locked herself in her room after being rescued from the rundown cottage).
I'm happy it had a happy ending. It kinda closed full-circle Molly's wishes of having Furbles in her garden. Despite what I said, this is a good book for children, very easy to read, accessible to young kids. It teaches them about nature and how to care for animals and how important it is to be diligent in a task you think it's worth accomplishing. In this case, it was Molly's wishes and conviction to save little Furbles from Tiddles.
Now, for the technical part. There were some typos, missing punctuation, and misspelled words. I can name a few that I noticed and remember:
Chapter nineteen: aloud was written instead of allowed.
one of the last chapters "and" was spelled "amd". Minor things, easily fixable with a second careful re-read.
I am aware of the intended audience for the book, but maybe it's a good idea to expand the vocabulary a little bit. Words and phrases such as "scowled", "chew the inside of her cheek", "clasped her hands under her chin", etc. are repeated all over the book. Variety is key.
It is also advisable to use sensory details a little bit more. There's just action: "Molly did this and then that. She then took this and put it there", etc. Again, variety is key.
Overall, good story, just needs a little bit of polishing and proofreading.
I'm no expert, but as an avid and honest reader, I think it can be better (as with everything in life).
I really hope this review was helpful! I'm open to critiques about my review because I'm not perfect and I'm willing to listen to what other people think about what I have to say.
When I saw the font for the title, I immediately knew this book wasn't going to be that much of an enjoyment to me. But I had to read it because I was committed to it. So here goes my review:
First off, I'd like to say this book was not completely bad, hence i did not rated it a one. It is more like a 1.5, but since goodreads doesn't support that, I rounded up.
I kinda have a problem with books dealing with witchcraft and magic, especially wiccans, circles, potions and whatnot. I am kinda into the Harry Potter magic stuff, with flying brooms and magic wands. I did not feel attracted by the premise of this book. These witches did not seem witches to me, just teenagers who are tampering with potions and part of a coven. There were some inconsistencies with the story and at some points it did not seem real or believable.
I was annoyed by the entire portion of the Salem Witch trials Deaton incorporated in her story. For me, the true nature of the witch trials lies with "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. Hands down to the playwright. Anyway. I thought it was a bit odd that Deaton did not exposed a lot about Samuel Parris, even though he is the bad guy and wants all the witches dead. I did not understand why it took him so long to kill off the witches? And if Lyla and the Coven already suspected of him, why not finish him before rather than let the book drag on and on with endless descriptions that work as filler?
A quarter through the book and I was already losing my interest. The dullness of the characters are not helping a lot to keep my attention focused either. The only character that I found I liked was Hana, and that might be because she did tried to be the center of attention to the readers, like Lyla tried to be.
Oh, Lyla was another big problem I had. In the beginning, her coldness betrayed her loving personality at the end of the book. Her father died and she says she has to be strong, she doesn't even cry! What the hell! She claims to love her father and yet, I doubt she shed a tear. I was hoping for a more deranged reaction, not a perfectly calmed one. She didn't rebelled that much when her mother decided to move to Salem either.
Ugh. Nathan was another major problem I had. He seemed to unreal, so painfully paternal that his attitude and personality seemed fake. And what's up with Lyla and Caleb's relationship? They've known each other for what, a week? and they are pouring love unto each other and kissing and everything and it's just so dysfunctional.
Caleb was a weak character, I know nothing about him other than he is perfect, has good grades, and wants to be an architect. I was hoping he ended up with Hana because there was more chemistry between them. Lyla was spoiled, self-absorbed, and extremely superficial. One of the many reasons i did not find her very likable. I could not connect with her. Sage and Hana are definitely great characters in this book. Too bad I did not read a lot about them, and what I read was overshadowed by Lyla's character. Why is she so powerful, yet so useless?
Anyway! Wiccans, not something I enjoy. I was hoping the witches, wizards or whatever were stronger and a more enjoyable fight would be produced. But none of that happened sadly.
The problem with the book is that it's unnecessarily long. It just went endlessly on with descriptions and dialogues that seemed out of place and worthless. I was turning the page and a chapter felt like forever to finish.
The premise of this book was not bad. However, it could have been worked better.