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Vrinda Pendred "Author of 'The Descendants' - YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy Series" (Herts, UK)

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Chance of a Lifetime (Chances Are #1)
Chance of a Lifetime (Chances Are #1)
Price: 0.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool, gritty and moving, 27 July 2013
This took me by surprise. I must admit, I went on a bit of a free e-books downloading spree on Smash Words, picking up anything that sounded interesting in the fantasy / sci-fi genres. By the time I got round to reading this one, I had forgotten what it was meant to be about. I was not expecting what wound up happening!

I think the brilliant thing about this book is that it somehow manages to be a cop drama, a comic book-esque vigilante story (it reminded me of the 'Dark Man' films, which I love), a Jeckyll and Hyde sci-fi tale, and a genuinely touching story about learning to move on from grief. (Most of) the relationships were brilliantly portrayed. The immersion into femininity was really well done. I just thought this book was beautiful from top to bottom, while simultaneously gritty and tense. I absolutely cannot wait to read book 2.

In fact, I was prepared to give this 5 stars...until it hit the romance element. Now I have no issues with 'Stacey' falling for a woman. It makes sense, in that it's a man who's now a woman, so what choice does he have now but to become a lesbian? But the particular person he fell didn't make sense to me. I couldn't see what she had done to make him fall for her that way. They didn't appear to have a very deep interaction up to that point. Furthermore, the age gap didn't work for me. He was 50 inside and she was 30. He was 18 outside and she was 30. Either way you look at And why did she like him so much? That's not to speak of the ethical conundrum, which I don't want to give away. But even that, I shrugged off - until it reached the resolution to that little love triangle. Seriously? <spoiler>What parent would kick their daughter's girlfriend in the stomach and threaten to hurt her more if she doesn't make up with their daughter and be a couple again, especially after just sleeping with said daughter's girlfriend the night before? That actually disgusted me, if I'm honest, and I think if you're going to keep that romance in the book, just take out that one page. It spoiled the book for me and lost a star off an otherwise 5-star rating.</spoiler>

So I tried to pretend that page never happened. I'm blotting it out of my memory and imagining it wasn't there. And bring on book 2!

by Shanae Branham
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, but needs development, 13 Jun 2013
This review is from: DiSemblance (Paperback)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, for that :)

This had a brilliant idea behind it, which I loved. Admittedly, I worked out a big part of what was going on quite early in the book, because it kept referencing Star Trek's holodeck and, as a fan of TNG, I know the episode this book obviously took its inspiration from.

That said, I was pleasantly surprised that at the end, there was another element thrown into the story that was all the author's own, and I thought it was a really good twist. I had not expected it.

I barreled through this book because it was so intriguing and I wanted to know what was going to happen, which is a very good sign. My reason for not being able to award it five stars is purely that I think the author rushed through the story too quickly. The scenes felt undeveloped, none of the characters sprang to life for me other than Jason and Bruce. It kept saying Isaac was so damaged, but I saw no evidence of it. Sure, he spent some time with his mother's DC, but he didn't seem particularly messed up, so that felt unfinished to me. I didn't know why Boston just suddenly was following Jason and their relationship sprang up. I didn't know why Bruce loved Lisa, when Lisa seemed awful to me, but again, it's because we hardly saw her - so that was a relationship that didn't mean much to me and sort of bored me.

All in all, a really great story, and nicely written in terms of each individual sentence (that does mean a lot to me), but wooden characters. I think if it were developed more, this book could be excellent though, which is why I give it four stars. I was definitely engaged in it.

And one final comment - SPOILER ALERT HERE:

I thought it seemed like a missed opportunity to mention that, in the end, it was 'ghosts in the machine'. Literally. And I also thought this is such a great idea - such a wonderful play on the expression - that it should be built up more. I didn't get how they found out they were ghosts, called the family to come visit them, and then let all the ghosts go, in the space of a few pages. I thought the ghost element should have gone on a lot longer. There are so many interesting things you could do with that.

Price: 3.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, emotional, important, 9 Jun 2013
This review is from: Straightjacket (Kindle Edition)
This was one of my very favourite kinds of books: the ones where the author never tells you what is really the truth and it all comes down to a matter of individual belief (essentially: is Caleb an angel or is he 'crazy'? You decide).

I must admit that when I first started reading it, I worried about what I was in for, because of the depiction of Heaven in the first couple pages. Then as I read on and realised what was happening, I found myself thinking it was just so clever, and I'm so glad I carried on. So if anyone else picks up this book and thinks something similar, perhaps because of their own personal religious beliefs...I would urge them to keep going, because this is NOT the sort of book that sets out to offend anyone's personal faith. If anything, I think it encourages it - but equally, it is not preachy in any way. It just...makes you think. And feel.

In a nutshell, Anna finds herself in a mental institution and falls in love with a fellow patient, Caleb, who insists he is an angel sent to save her from her own self-hate. The doctors all think he suffers from delusions and catatonia and keep pressing him to take medication for it, but Caleb says they aren't delusions; they are the times when he slips back to where he came from, Heaven, and speaks to his angelic guide about his mission to help Anna learn to love herself. I don't want to give any more of the story away, because when it hits the halfway point, things take an unexpected turn and that was one of the things I loved so much about this book.

I also loved the characters. They became real for me and I got very emotionally attached to them very quickly. I adored Caleb and completely understood why Anna got so quickly swept away by him. I appreciate that while he was good-looking, the emphasis in this book was on what a beautiful PERSON he was inside. He was also intriguing, and that formed the 'mystery' of this book, which kept me reading every line.

The language was beautiful and the emotions were real. I'll admit I cried through parts of it. One reason this book resonated so much with me is that I am bipolar myself, along with other related conditions. I'm also a writer, and I get all my writing done when my moods are 'high', much like Caleb's artwork in this book. I understood why Caleb didn't want to take the medication. I understood the descriptions of how it deadened him and changed who he was, took away all his drive and passion. I was on anti-depressants for 3 years to treat anxiety and Tourette Syndrome and it destroyed everything that I was until I finally made the decision to come off the drugs - and it didn't ultimately help the problems, either. I think this book did a brilliant job of portraying that, which was one of the things that made me feel so emotional.

I liked lines such as, 'Who am I to say you aren't really an angel?' and something to the effect of, 'Whether he was an angel or not, it didn't matter,' and, 'I love you - that's the only thing you need to know about me.' I highlighted quite a lot. I thought it was a beautiful idea, that someone as broken he Caleb possibly was (you never do know if he's an angel or not) is still loveable, because under it all, he's such a good person - and that really IS all you need to know about him. It was a really sympathetic view and I appreciate the author expressing it. I also loved the meaning of the book's title.

I also like what it says about belief...because really, who ARE we to say what is real and what is not? People have all kinds of beliefs and the very nature of belief is that it's something you personally feel, but it can't be proven wrong OR right. And if someone says they're really an angel, but they're not harming anyone...well, you might not believe it, but who cares? Does that mean they need to be locked up and drugged out of something that brings them peace? Who is to say what is truth and what is delusion, in such circumstances? Those are the sorts of thoughts that passed through my head as I read this.

So for me, this was a very meaningful book that I can easily see myself rereading one day and I would recommend to friends. I am very thankful to the author for giving me a free copy, and I am very happy to say that my honest opinion is that this book is incredible.

Blue Hearts of Mars
Blue Hearts of Mars
Price: 2.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bladerunner gets a YA twist - and it REALLY works, 9 Jun 2013
I LOVED this - for several reasons.

1. I loved the story. It's like 'Bladerunner' gone young adult, and it really works (especially since I love 'Bladerunner', and I love Philip K. Dick in general). 17-year-old Retta is human but falls in love with an android named Hemingway. Trouble is, that's forbidden by the laws of Mars, where they live. I loved the imagining of life on Mars, and the way all the colonies were named for cities on Earth whose populace fled to restart life on the new world.

2. I loved the allegorical meaning behind the story - each part of it (for me) represented issues we have dealt with throughout history and are still contending with now. I appreciate the thought that went into it.

3. I loved the characters. I believed in them. Retta was a very sympathetic narrator and I felt like I was right there with her, from the start of the book. I loved Hemingway. I got so involved in the book that when I had to take a break halfway through (to eat - and honestly, I resented being hungry, because I wanted to keep reading), it was strange to think what I'd just been reading WASN'T reality. When I finished the book, I wanted more, because it was one of those books where you just love the people in it so much, you feel like you know them and you're a little sad when the journey ends and you don't get to be with them anymore. They felt real, to me. I take that as a sign of good writing.

4. I loved the actual writing - it was a genuine pleasure to read each line, because of the language. Some of it was funny. Some of it was beautiful. Some of it was downright moving. And some of it was thought-provoking. I found myself highlighting quite a few lines because I loved them so much.

5. I loved the ending. It has a brilliant twist that I'm happy to say I didn't see coming, despite trying very, VERY hard to figure it out all along. I'm like that. But this book was not predictable.

6. I loved the love story. I've read a lot of books, now, where I just didn't understand why the two people fell for each other or what was driving their relationship, but this was not one of them. I believed in them and I was really rooting for them to be together, the whole time. This book just made me happy, and it made me love people.

Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who likes any of the following books:

* Delirium by Lauren Oliver
* The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
* Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Because I think this book was a little like a combination of all three of the above...but then with a little something else that makes it all its own.

I also want to thank the author for sending me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I will definitely be recommending it to friends, I will definitely reread it one day, and I will definitely read the author's other books, because she is a beautiful skilled writer, and she fully deserves a mainstream publishing deal. I'm shocked this isn't already on store shelves.

Dark Genesis
Dark Genesis
Price: 0.77

4.0 out of 5 stars A highly imaginative adventure, 8 Jun 2013
This review is from: Dark Genesis (Kindle Edition)
I really liked this. It was highly imaginative, particularly in the descriptions of the targets when you meet them. I loved the fire king and the blood hive (a truly sinister scene). I liked the ending, especially because while part of it was predictable, there was a surprise twist that made me smile. I liked all the characters, too. Just generally, this was a good book and it kept me reading, wanting to know just what was going on.

The only things keeping me from giving it give stars are that I found Alyssa's old career a bit unbelievable judging from how young she seems to be and how she speaks / acts. Also, if she had that job, I'd think she would be more suspicious and cunning. I also thought the pacing was too quick at some points, with very little emotional depth, and I wasn't sure why the love interests suddenly blossomed.

Actually, something I thought through the whole book was that it felt like it was aimed at a younger audience, in its language and style. But then there would suddenly be a word or action here and there that was so adult, it felt out of place. I would have liked it all written for the same level.

So for me, it wasn't perfect, BUT I still liked it and would read the sequel - and just in terms of the story and the imagination, I would recommend this. I'm very pleased to have been able to read it.

Amethyst (#1 of the Guardian series)
Amethyst (#1 of the Guardian series)
Price: 0.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superficially good, but it just didn't grab me in any meaningful way, 20 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like a few other reviewers on here, I was torn between giving this 3 and 4 stars, and I'd say ideally I'd give it more like 3.5...but I didn't feel moved enough to round up to 4, unfortunately.

I like the premise. I think there is a LOT of potential in there. The author can definitely write, and the story was paced very well. It was structured nicely and I did find myself really wanting to know what would happen next. On the surface, everything was 'right'.

The reason I've given this 3 stars is that this book just felt sort of 'good enough' to me. It didn't GRAB me and make me think, WOW, where has this book been all my life?

One of my difficulties with this is that the dialogue felt stilted. Almost every page, I was thinking, 'People don't talk this way.' And it's not about using 'big words' - I like my thesaurus too, and I'm a believer in not dumbing things down for the sake of it. It's just that I felt like those words were used in awkward ways such that the conversations didn't feel natural or realistic. It wasn't just the words, but the syntax. For instance, when giving explanations of things, or talking about what someone loved about the mountains, it read a little like an encyclopaedia entry.

Also, there was a conversation Jason and Lexi had about football, and it felt so formal: 'I enjoy it too. They have had some excellent and exciting matches.' That's not how I expect sports enthusiasts to talk. Later, when Jason and Lexi are having an emotional stand-off, each of them says, 'I thoroughly enjoyed your company.' We don't yet know how old Jason is, but Lexi is only 18 or 19. I just don't believe she would speak that way, and it left me feeling cold. I couldn't buy into the emotions / love.

I also felt like although the first half of this book got off to such an interesting start, I grew bored with the second half, and that really disappointed me, because I so wanted to love this book.

And perhaps this is just a personal taste thing, but I really, really, REALLY hated Ash. There was nothing redeeming about him other than apparently he's a good singer and has a good body. I'm sure he's going to be explored more in book 2 and turn out to be much more interesting, but in this book I was tempted to skip through all scenes with him because he wasn't just annoying or arrogant, as Lexi said - I actually thought he was a womanising ass, and if I met someone like him in real life, he would make my skin crawl and I would run for the hills. So I found it incredibly difficult to respect Lexi for spending any time with him and being attracted to him. I thought, isn't she meant to be smart? Why does she like this guy? He's a creep.

However, having said all that, I can see how this book would appeal to younger readers. I am currently 30 and I love my YA fiction, but obviously as I'm a bit older, I want something a bit more moving. If I were 15, I might feel very differently. And as I say, on the surface everything about this book is done well. I can't fault the writer on those points and she does have an interesting story with a great cliffhanger. I just find it frustrating that on the one hand, I really want to know what happens next...but on the other hand, I'm turned off by language (and Ash). So 3 stars from me, sadly.

The Fifth Child (Paladin Books)
The Fifth Child (Paladin Books)
by Doris Lessing
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I think it's gone over a lot of people's heads, 13 July 2011
I'm really surprised at many of the other reviews I've read here, wondering what caused Ben to be the 'monster' he is, etc. and asking what the point is.

The whole time I read this book, I was thinking:

1) I related to some of Harriet's frustrations and unfairness toward the baby consuming all her energy while in her stomach - I thought, this doesn't have to be a monster; it could easily be any pregnancy at all, especially if it's her fifth one in six years!

2) Ben sounded very autistic. I have studied the subject quite a lot, I have been diagnosed with autism myself, and I know people with deeply autistic children in the family who have a habit of lashing out violently, not understanding human emotions, wo mimic others' ways of behaving in order to try to be what everyone else expects them to be, and who can't respond with love, etc. I spent this whole book thinking it was such a classic portrayal of this state of mind, and feeling absolutely horrified at the way people seem to have treated such children back at the time this book was written (the hospital scene).

3) The back of the book is misleading - I kept expecting this book to turn out to be 'The Omen' or 'Rosemary's Baby', but it isn't. It plays off that sort of story from the '70s and twists it into something else - the view society has of such children as 'monsters' when in fact all they need is love, just like anyone else. The ending to the book was heartbreaking in its understatedness.

I think this is such an important book...but only if you understand what she's actually saying. It is a horror novel, but the horror is really over our lack of understanding of children who don't fit our idea of what children 'should' be.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2012 12:04 PM BST

Pilgrims Progress
Pilgrims Progress
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: 14.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic - beautiful, intense and exciting, 9 July 2010
This review is from: Pilgrims Progress (Audio CD)
I have been a fan since I was 13, back in 1996, and as far as I'm concerned, they just keep getting better. I also was fortunate enough to get free tickets to their London show yesterday and see the CDs don't even do them justice - they're a band who are even better live, so I highly recommend experiencing that.

Highlights on this album for me are 'Ophelia', 'To Wait Til I come', 'Only Love', 'All Dressed Up' and 'Winter's Call'...but every other song is amazing, as well. Sombre in places, heavy in others, and the usual excellent lyrics you can expect from Crispian. Definitely buy this one, as it's easily the best rock album released...since their last one.

Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature
Madness Explained: Psychosis and Human Nature
by Richard P. Bentall
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and inspiring - though sometimes a little dry for me, 21 Jan 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book helps make 'madness' seem much more normal - which I think is a great accomplishment. It lays out the idea of organising symptoms into categories according to what causes most distress to the patient and what does no harm, rather than classifying all symptoms as something to be 'fixed'.

Speaking as someone with Bipolar Disorder (plus other related conditions), I find this approach refreshing. I have several symptoms that carry so much stigma these days, if I try to talk about them with people the general view is that I'm being scary, or possibly even disturbing. Furthermore, I go to the doctors and they want to drug me to get rid of everything 'wrong' with me and flatten my personality...when only 10% of these symptoms are actually causing me any distress!

I have read people's reviews here saying this book leaves things too open-ended and confusing because it removes the diagnostic framework. I can only guess a lot of these people are psychiatrists. Speaking as someone who is not a doctor but who LIVES with such disorders, it is my experience (as well as the experience of dozens of people I've met like me) that the traditional diagnostic criteria are abused in the medical world. These criteria are wonderful for pinpointing what's going on with a person, and helping them find answers and explanations for what troubles them - but people shouldn't be treated purely on this basis.

Bentall's notion to throw out conventional ideas of what is 'mad' and instead provide individualistic treatment for patients, specific to the symptoms that actually cause distress, would be just the sort of healthy overhaul the whole of psychiatrity desperately needs. My only critique was it felt a bit dry at parts, hence only 4 stars - but I will definitely be reading his newest book as well.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2013 4:42 PM GMT

Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception
Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception
by Thom Hartmann
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There should be more books like this on all such subjects - EVERYONE should read this, 21 Jan 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These days, too much focus lies on 'fixing' people who just a bit 'different' to what is considered 'normal'. Forgive all the quotes, but it's all subjective...and that's what Thom Hartmann shows us in this remarkable book.

Hartmann presents the notion that ADD is not a brain abnormality to be cured, but rather an evolutionary development necessary to achieve certain goals - and that it's all a matter of getting the right balance of different brain types, in order to make society work best.

He also doesn't slip into an instant 'all the drugs are bad' stance, as people might expect from an 'alternative' health book - but he warns about the very serious dangerous of such medications and their long-term effects, and gives solutions for how they can be used in the short-term while you learn to manage on your own, if need be.

Speaking as someone with ADHD myself, I found this book inspiring and exciting - it made me appreciative of my condition in a way I'd never known before. I have since recommended it to others, who all came back to me with the same impression and sense of transformation.

Neurological disorders need to be viewed in a dramatically new way, because our current structure leaves too much stigma and a sense that one needs to fit a certain 'perfect' criteria of humanity, when this is just nonsense - and Hartmann is here to teach us all about the alternatives.

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