Children of Swan: The Land of Taron by Carol Walker (Review)

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“There is something small and peculiar in young Bo’s hand — it’s Dad’s ring. How could Dad have left without the ring?
Bo is abducted. Chasing after him, his older siblings Jack and Brianna dive into a wormhole that takes them to the land of Taron, a perilous land fuelled by hatred and plagued by vicious snake-like, man-eating bokwas.
Blue-skinned Baran people catch them and sell them to an arena where Barans entertain themselves watching slave boys fight to the death. Dad is there, staring at them like they are strangers.
The contest is brutal; the rules are clear — one game, one survivor.
There are boys as young as Jack. Can he kill?
And there’s Brianna, the one he has spent all his life squabbling with, and the last person he thought he would care about. If he doesn’t kill, she will die.
There’s no choice. He must kill, for Brianna, for Bo …”

My Review:

Have you ever lost something and you look around for it, but it isn’t in its usual place and you just can’t seem to figure out where it went? That’s how it felt reading Children of Swan: The Land of Taron because much was missing from it.

You need depth in most, if not all, things when it comes to writing. Characters, plot, worlds, even the conflict must have depth. But I couldn’t find depth in Children of Swan.

The worlds, firstly. Earth, Cygnore, and then of course, Taron. I already know what Earth is like (surprise!) but I don’t know what Walker’s dying Earth is like, but it wasn’t mentioned or explained so I still don’t know. I vaguely know of Cygnore and even more vaguely know of Taron, besides the fact that they have slaves, blue and red people live there, and they have some barbaric spin-off of the Roman colosseum/Roman gladiators only with children. You have to give more than just a few descriptions and call it a day. It is crucial to any story to build and create the world that your book is in, especially if it is a world you made up, so that the reader can explore it.

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The Starter Boyfriend by Tina Ferraro

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Review: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“17 year-old Courtney is completely stressed. There’s the rift with her softball teammates, homework, housework, her part-time job at the tux shop, her dad’s upcoming wedding…enough! Would it be too much to ask for someone special in her life, a boyfriend she could talk to, count on, even lean on a little?

The best she’s got is a blue-eyed surfer boy who seems to save his biggest moves for his board, and a “friend date” to Homecoming with a guy still in love with his ex. Oh, and then there’s the tuxedo mannequin in the shop window, who happens to be reliable and an amazing listener.When the mannequin gets stolen in a senior prank, Courtney finds herself in a midnight pursuit along beach boulevards, trying to save more than the mannequin, but the job she’s come to love. After turning to the unlikeliest of people for help, and finding that surfer boy is as resourceful as he is good-looking, her load begins to lighten. In fact, she soon might find not only what she needs, but what she wants, too.”

My Review:

I’ll be honest, this is one of the weirdest books I have ever read. It was decent, but also pretty creepy.

Courtney is seventeen and using a mannequin in the clothing store she works at as her “starter boyfriend.” He’s supposed to be simple something she can make mistakes on without experiencing heartbreak. Yet, she calls it ‘him’, named it “Tux,” imagines how his breath might smell, how his lips might feel, and what his manly scent might be. (spoiler) She even goes as far as breaking into (she had a key though) the clothing store in order to sit and talk to him. The mannequin effectively distracts from the main point of the story and it was painful. I cringed every time I heard her mention Tux or any time she thought about it. To each their own, but I thought that was a bit weird, Courtney might need counseling.

There was little to no character development with Courtney, besides maybe she stops lying. I don’t understand why she felt the need to lie to everyone though. It was so unnecessary. She goes from pretending that she’s stressed out and feeling sorry to herself to realizing that everything is pretty great in her world. I didn’t see what she learned besides that.

Almost all of the rest of the characters were unfortunately very uninteresting. The antagonist, the love interest, the best friend…all of them except for Courtney’s stepmom. She was so energetic and lively. A little over the top, but she was fun to read about. Did she need more book-time? No. She had enough, but I do think that she should have been seen bonding with Courtney more in the time that she was given.
The book itself wasn’t terrible exciting. It was just a quick read that wasn’t completely boring, but not very intriguing either. It didn’t seem to be going anywhere, just simply stating what was happening in Courtney’s life. Even the conflict seemed rather minor, just a simple spat between high-schoolers that didn’t have much foundation to it. Everything consistently worked out for Courtney, no matter what it was. In the end, she has a wonderful stepmother, a great best friend, a boyfriend, good news about her mother…it was all too much. Courtney’s world is too perfect and that honestly made me want to side with Saffron. What Saffron did was wrong and there’s no excuse for that (plus her execution for her plan was terrible), but I at least see why she was so upset. Overall, this book was a kind of weird, had a decent ending, but it wasn’t memorable.

Homegrown Terror (Project Forge series) by Steve White

Bit of a hiccup in the normal schedule due to my kindle malfunctioning, but I will post on Friday and continue with the schedule as per usual. 

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Kindle Price: $0.99

Official Review: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“Kendra is a soft spoken girl at school, and many of her friends would describe her independent and shy. But beneath the surface is a fierce warrior: Kendra is in fact a teen spy. Her “parents” are handlers for the National Security Agency, and she is sent on missions around the country. Her newest mission: a new homegrown terrorist organization has sprung up in the US, and she must tear the organization down. She will come up against more danger than she has ever faced before – will she save her country? Or will she die trying?”

My Review:

I feel bad about this book, it sounded interesting and I was hoping to enjoy it. In short, Homegrown Terror, is terribly boring. I don’t say that in a harsh way, allow me to explain.

Kendra doesn’t really have much to her. She is human, but acts as if she was given emotions, rather than born with them. That isn’t entirely her fault though. The story is told in limited third person, and the writing doesn’t make it work. I’ll get to that later. Throughout Homegrown Terror, Kendra doesn’t seem to feel much. I couldn’t connect with her, she did and felt everything in a matter-of-fact way. For instance, if she was kicked in the shin, her first response wouldn’t be “Ow!” it would be: I see. That hurt. I will say “Ow” now. “Ow!” She was an unrealistic character as well. I wasn’t expecting something extremely realistic, we are talking about a teenager working for the NSA here, but it was difficult to see her as a teenager. The whole book was about her being a teenaged spy, but with a few edits, I would have thought that she was a grown woman with a very small amount of human emotion. Despite all of the book following her adventures, I feel as if I didn’t even read about her. There should definitely have been more of a back-story for her, yet it was quickly glossed over. A teenager working for the NSA needs an epic back-story, especially if throughout the entire book, Kendra silently wishes she was ‘normal.’ It was a short read, yes, but there’s never an excuse for not developing your characters.

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Awakening (Absence of Song series) by C.B. Stone

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

Though music is forbidden and could get me in big trouble with the Ministry, I nevertheless often find myself singing softly in spite of the danger. Little do I know just how much hot water my strange compulsion to sing will actually land me in.
What is happening in the world around me? How is it happening? How does the stranger Noah fit into things? And most importantly… why me? I’m no more special than the next person.
So many questions and so many dangers. All I can do is trust that whatever is happening, it is good. I can see that it’s good, and I refuse to let anyone convince me otherwise.

My Review:

This was a weird experience and not in a good way I’m afraid. A world where singing, humming, and music in general is banned is difficult to imagine. It is undoubtedly a horrifying thought. Yet, this is the world that Jaelynn lives in.
I think that maybe Awakening was some sort of a “pre-book,” but there is no excuse for the rather poor quality. It was not engaging, it was not descriptive, it was emotionless, severely under-developed, and drab. Now here’s why.

Jaelynn Rose is the heroine. Why? I have a strong guess, but for now, I don’t know and neither do you. Since neither you nor I know why she’s the heroine, I would assume that Stone would give hints. Maybe try to make it less obscure as to why she decided Jaelynn is the heroine I want to spend some of my limited time on earth reading about. Instead, all I am given is that when she sleeps, she hears songs. Phenomenal. Not to mention, at one point, Jaelynn isn’t sure what her own name is. She introduces herself as Jaelynn and her parents call her Jaelynn, but then she called herself Jaclyn when she was thinking. It happened once, but it was there. I for one would be terrified if I relied on a heroine who forgot what her name was.

I felt that Jaelynn was pretty naive. A few sentences here and there did their best to make her seem intuitive and always questioning things, but it didn’t happen. If anyone’s ever experienced a really long winter with a ton of snow, they know that there are huge potholes in the road and they easily fill up with water. Now, anyone with common sense wouldn’t look at a pothole filled with water and think “Haha! I’m going to jump in, it can’t be that deep.” because that’s just not a good idea. Sadly, that was mostly what Jaelynn did. She had no self-control whatsoever for example: “Whoa! A strange man is approaching? I’m totally safe if this fence is between us. Let’s exchange names! I want to tell you my secret that could get me and my family killed.” or even “I barely know you, but let’s cramp ourselves in this very small room all alone and hope nothing bad happens.” Really? Are you kidding? That is very dangerous, please don’t do that. Her inability to lie to her parents was eye-roll worthy. Of course she can’t lie to her parents, what does she have to lie about? She doesn’t do anything at all, besides a mundane routine and then hears some songs in her dreams. I’m sure this is just a tool to make sure in later books it seems like her “innocence” is being taken away because of the government. I didn’t see a leader in Jaelynn and while it could be a way to show character development throughout the later books, this wasn’t the way to do it. Instead of making me interested in seeing Jaelynn develop, it made me write her off the “Could Be a Heroine” list.

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Everblue (series) by Brenda Pandos

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Price: Free!

Official Rating: 1.5/5

Synopsis:

“She wanted her life to change… he wanted his to stay the same.

Best friends share everything with each other. Or do they? Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Frances Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Spending time with her best friend Tatiana, dreaming about kissing Tatiana’s twin brother Fin, and swimming competitively are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college. But when Tatchi fails to return home after a family emergency, and no one knows where the family has gone, Ash chooses to do something drastic to find them.

Ashlyn is about to discover what she’d thought to be true her whole life, wasn’t, and the truth, too fantastical to imagine. Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, secrets that will change Ashlyn’s life forever.”

My review:

First off, this book was painfully slow and the synopsis is misleading. I’m guessing that “he”, is Fin, but he actually does want his life to change. Ashlyn, the heroine, is the one who cries at the thought of her life changing. The first half of the book was alternating chapters that had very little to do with the plot and were mind-numbing. For the most part, it was about Ashlyn’s upcoming swim meet and prom. There was also a painful love square. A square. Is that even legal? The book dragged on and on and there is absolutely no need for this to be a series.

The characters were painful, Ashlyn’s mother is a woman who does her best to make Ash feel terrible about herself, although it’s “balanced out” by her every now and then warm gestures. Her Dad, although supposed to be rarely around because he’s a fireman, is around very often, but does little to help the situation between Ash and her Mom. Instead he insists that she “talk to her” about it and leaves it at that, rather than either speaking to her Mom about it or having her Mom sit with them. Her sister was only there to bother Ashlyn for no reason and her grandparents were just there to move the plot along.Anyone besides Ashlyn and Fin, were just pawns for the author to use to nudge the plot along. Ashlyn herself has very little character, complaining about prom and her upcoming swim meet. While I understand her apprehension towards the meet she has coming up, I just don’t see why those two things had to be such a large part of the book. It just filled it with fluff that I couldn’t care less about. A lot of times I skipped her side of the book and read Fin’s because his was a lot more interesting, and I didn’t miss a thing.

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