Review: Forged by Greed by Angela Orlowski-Peart

Title: Forged by Greed
Author: Angela Orlowski-Peart
Pages: 364
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Series? Yes, #1 in the Forged Series
Publisher: Indie Inked
Rating: 0/6 – Did not finish it

Synopsis from NetGalley: Two Seattle 16-year-olds, Jatred and Jasmira, are not your typical star-crossed lovers. They are not even your typical Shape Shifters. Sure, they try to live an ordinary life. At least, as ordinary as the Prince and the Princess of the rivaling ancient Races–the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards–can live. But eventually they learn that not much about their existence can be normal. Especially when the Races’ two commanding Goddesses are involved.

One of the Goddesses is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means kicking Jatred and Jasmira’s love to the curb. Nothing is off limits, including removing Jatred’s memories of Jasmira.

To complicate things even more, there are the Universe’s powers to consider. They are trapped in an ancient Amulet in order to protect the stability of the world. But the Universe has a mind of its own, and when the powers are unleashed, the forces of nature are disturbed; earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions shake the Earth. All Shifters of both Races are summoned by their respective Goddesses to fight in the name of, or against, the normalcy of the world.

My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: So, I really tried with this book. I honestly, truly did. I made it to 39%, which is roughly 120 pages – more than enough to get a good flavor of a book, in my opinion. I’m looking at all the other reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and I can see that I’m clearly in a minority here, so take this review with a grain of salt.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Forged by Greed from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think about the characters? Okay, first of all – why do the two main characters have A) such weird names, B) names that start with the same letter, and C) they both refer to each other as “J”? All I kept thinking was Hatred and Jasmine – that’s what I read it as half the time. The two were pretty indistinguishable from each other, solely built on their love for each other. There was no other defining factor to their personalities – it was just love, and really obsessive love at that. It was like insta-love in flavor, even though they were a previously established couple. It was like a really bad version of Romeo and Juliet (and I hate that play in the first place).

The rest of the characters were unremarkable. Mostly stock characters, full of stereotypes, tropes, and cliches. There really isn’t much to say about them, other than the fact that they acted as white space for the intervals between Jatred and Jasmina’s – wait, Jasmira (see how little of an impact she made on me?) – love drama…

And the concept and plot? A perfect example of an amazing fantasy plot ruined by the overwhelming romantic issues. The idea of the Shifters is brilliant – and really what drew me to this book in the first place. Winter and Summer embodied by Wolves and Leopards? Tell me where else I can read that!

When I noticed the romance becoming a big issue, I had originally hoped that it would be well balanced with the drama between the two Shifter factions. After the 20% mark, my only wish was that there would be a plot besides the forbidden love. I mean – the Princess of Summer and Prince of Winter fall in love and are forbidden but ignore it anyway – really? I don’t want to read 350+ pages on that! I feel like there was so much potential between the Shifters, but it was rendered completely silent with the romance.

What about the writing style? I think this was my big issue with this book. Even after the basic elements of the Shifters were established (Summer shifters like the heat, Winter shifters can’t stand it, and vice versa with the cold), Orlowski continually reminded me about this pretty simple fact, among others that related to specifically the Shifter mythology. It felt really condescending, like she didn’t believe I could retain that simple concept after the first 10% of the book. Condescension grates on my nerves, so my toleration for the rest of the parts I might have been able to handle otherwise was really low. Ultimately, this was the real reason I couldn’t keep reading it.

Oh and one other thing: is it really necessary to constantly tell me if Jasmina is wearing True Religion or Gucci jeans? 1) It’s pretentious, 2) I really don’t care what brand your pants are as long as your crotch and crack are covered, and 3) It just really doesn’t matter in the span of things, and so much of the word count could have been cut out with just this problem alone.

And does Gucci even make jeans? Is that a thing? I thought they were just uber-expensive purses and glasses.

Anything else you’d like to add? This turned into way more of a rant than I had originally intended. Sorry guys, it just didn’t work for me at all. But like I said – I’m in the minority, so I would say give this one a chance for yourself and let me know if you have a different opinion!

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Arrow of the Mist

Title: Arrow of the Mist
Author: Christina Mercer
Pages: 183
Genre: fantasy, children’s fiction, YA
Series? Yes
Publisher: Christina Mercer
Rating: 0/6 – Couldn’t finish it

Synopsis from NetGalley: Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to the forbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.

Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately, she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people of the lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.

My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: Yeah, I DNFed again. I was so excited for this book for several reasons, one being the fact that the cover reminds me of Merida from Brave and I love that movie. I love books with Celtic-type settings, so that was another draw for me – add the magic and herb lore in and I was sold! But it just didn’t work out… at all.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think about the characters? I think this was a function of the plot, which I’ll address below. There just wasn’t any time for Lia and the other characters to develop before we got to the story. With an exposition of about a page and a half, she didn’t even have a chance! I only had a little snapshot of Lia, and what I saw was pretty standard YA fare: young daughter is completely devoted to father, at the first sign of trouble she heads off on a suicide venture to save him, falling in love with a childhood friend along the way. Oh, and she’s unmarried when there are several other girls her age already married and she’s going to shame herself and end up a spinster because she’d rather traipse around in the woods in pants with her crossbow. Nothing good can come from that combination, and that’s about where I stopped reading.

As for the other characters, they just felt like names on a page. There was no substance at all, and I didn’t understand the connections between all of them. I know I should feel for Lia’s situation, but without that exposition I don’t know why she’s so close to her father. It turned into “okay now Lia’s leaving because dad is sick and she loves him very much” rather than “holy crap dad’s dying we’ve got to go now saddle up and ride, girl!”

And the concept and plot? Concept was great! Otherwise I wouldn’t have requested the book. It had so much promise and all the elements that I enjoy in a YA book, but it just failed to deliver in the plot. 

Like I said above, there was pretty much zero exposition in this book. No introduction to the characters, no establishment of setting or world building, but then all of a sudden we’re off to this dangerous land with the ire of the townspeople behind us. Without that crucial bit, I was left confused and irritated, and quitting the book was pretty easy.

What about the writing style? There wasn’t a lot of description, which was another stumbling block for me. Lack of adjectives leads to aggravation, at least for me. I need to see what’s going on in order to become invested in it. I’ve mentioned before how I use color to figure things out, and this one was like looking at a black and white picture – just black and white, no gray shading at all. At least give me some gray to fill in the details. There was just no color to it, nothing vibrant at all. 

Anything else you’d like to add? I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn’t work at all. I’ve been on Goodreads and Amazon and most of the reviews are positive, so I must be in a minority here.

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Silent Echo: A Siren’s Tale

Title: Silent Echo
Author: Elisa Freilich
Pages: 330
Genre: Fantasy, YA, romance
Series? No
Publisher: Diversion Books (September 2013)
Rating: 0/6 – I couldn’t finish it

Synopsis from NetGalley: Haunted by silence, a mute teenage girl is mysteriously given back her voice … and it is divine.

Rendered mute at birth, Portia Griffin has been silent for 16 years. Music is her constant companion, along with Felix, her deaf best friend who couldn’t care less whether or not she can speak. If only he were as nonchalant about her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.

But Portia’s silence is about to be broken with the abrupt discovery of her voice, unparalleled in its purity and the power it affords to control those around her. Able to persuade, seduce and destroy using only her voice, Portia embarks on a search for answers about who she really is, and what she is destined to do.

Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, Silent Echo: A Siren’s Tale is an epic story filled with fantasy, romance and original music.

My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: This is bad, so bad. I’m having a serious crisis right now! I hate giving out bad reviews, and it’s even worse when I DNF a book. And this makes it two in one week that I gave up on. I did make it through a solid 1/3 of the book before giving up though, which makes it about 100 pages that I read.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ebook of Silent Echo from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think about the characters? All of them were cliche and stereotypical, at least to me. Portia and Max’s relationship was really hard to believe, and I’m not just saying that because I was vying for Felix and Portia to get together. Max was the tortured background/music guru sexy boy that every teenage girl is supposed to like, but I just couldn’t even begin to like his character at all. Felix was the only one I remotely liked, but then he turned into the “over protective and unnecessarily aggressive” trope. 

And the concept and plot? Concept: It was great! I was 100% excited for this book –  you guys know how much I love Greek-based novels. But apparently I missed over the sentence in the synopsis where it says “her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.” That should have tipped me off to the romance part of it all. 

Plot: Great concept, poor delivery. Portia’s lack of a voice and sudden discovery that she has one takes a backseat to the romance with Max. And it’s not even a believable romance! One look, and they’re head over heels for each other. I don’t know how the story ended, but I know that the “fantasy” part of it was just a cart for the romance.

What about the writing style? Just weird… Nothing inherently bad about it, but Freilich kept interspersing her prose with clips of songs (and poorly written ones at that). They were really cheesy and what little suspension of belief I could have for everything went right out the window. 

Anything else you’d like to add? I’m a horrible person. I might need to re-read Harry Potter to calm my distraught self. Two books DNFed in one week… The horror!

Jenny Rat

Title: Jenny Rat
Author: Martin Simons
Pages: 297
Genre: fiction, adult
Series? No
Publisher: Martin Simons (2013)
Rating: 0/6  – I couldn’t finish it

Synopsis from cover: Jenny, a young girl who has been sexually abused since childhood and now brutally assaulted, has been reduced to utter despair. She is saved by a reclusive, shy young man, Michael, twenty eight years old, who stumbles across her dying in the gutter outside his isolated house. He is a brilliant consultant engineer who works from home with his computers, rarely venturing outside. Profoundly shocked he gets her to hospital and visits her there as she struggles to recover. Mentally she is shattered. He is greatly shaken by the intrusion into his settled life but, full of compassion cannot abandon her. She recognizes in him a hope of refuge and determines to live with him. He welcomes her. They pretend to be sister and brother but this cannot last. She has great talents as a sculptor. He encourages her, providing tools and materials as she grows, constructs and reconstructs her works and her life. She begins to chip at him as she shapes her art. He is compelled to expand outside his self-imposed solitude. She attends school and brings friends to the house. A crisis develops which they overcome with difficulty.

My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: I never thought the day would come that I purposely not finish a book. To give you an illustration, I was talking to my mom and told her about it, and she asked, “Are you feeling okay?” I feel really bad about it, but I just did not like this one at all… I made it through 60 pages before I finally gave up.

Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy of Jenny Rat from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What did I think about the characters? Well obviously I can’t give you an entire picture of who these characters were, but from the 60 pages I read, there isn’t really much to say. They were all very flat, only identified by their profession or life circumstances. Jacquie – the prostitute. Michael – the reclusive engineer. Jenny – the street rat turned prostitute. There was nothing of substance about them.

And the concept and plot? Concept: I initially thought this would be a story of rising from the ashes, regaining control of your life circumstances, you know – an inspirational sort of book about reclaiming your life. Not at all. It was dreary and depressing, and I found myself skimming the pages frequently. 

Plot: After what I read, nothing really had happened. I don’t know if it’s just a slow start, but the extent of what I read was Michael talking with Jenny at the hospital.

What about the writing style? Honestly, I felt it was far too crass. There were a lot of F-bombs, and several uses of the C word as well. It relied on name calling and expletives, and I didn’t ever feel like the dialogue was anything fantastic. 

Anything else you’d like to add? The only way I can describe my experience is that I was expecting more Jodi Picoult and a lot less Stieg Larsson. With Picoult, there’s always a sense of intimacy, and a real connection to the characters, like they’re actual people. With Larsson (and his Millenium trilogy) I always felt like the characters were pawns in his political statements, like tools rather than characters. Simons is a totally different author, but the comparison is the only way I can put it into words!

Sorry to be such a debby downer, but I couldn’t find anything redeeming in this one.