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

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Dollhouse (The Dollhouse Books Book 1)
Dollhouse (The Dollhouse Books Book 1)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a great surprise, 23 Mar. 2014
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I'm not sure what the lower reviewers are on about. This was a very pleasant surprise.

I took a chance on this because it was free, and because the plot reminded me of one of my favourite episodes of that old show 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' where the girl goes into the attic and discovers a doll house and learns the girl who used to live in the house and went missing has been trapped in there all that time - and turned into a porcelain doll herself. I thought, at worst, this book will be an entertaining rip-off of that. I was wrong. Once it gets going, the storyline is COMPLETELY different.

What I liked about this was:

1) The characters. There was something about them that felt real, to me. I genuinely cared about Cass, Ethan and Aisha. And it was refreshing to have the love triangle reversed (2 girls, 1 boy). Such a little thing, but it really made a difference. I also liked the development of the relationships, and the subtle transformation you saw them all go through by the end of the book.

2) The mystery. From page 1, I was wondering just what was going on. I did not find it confusing the way some reviewers have said. I found it intriguing. You keep getting fed a little more of the plot at a time in a way that keeps you reading. Even by the time I reached the end, there was a huge cliffhanger and I was left thinking, OMG WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN? And seriously, just what DID happen to a certain character I won't name so I don't ruin the story? I trust it will be revealed in book 2...and if I'm honest, I'm nervous about that revelation. I'm not sure I want to know the answer.

3) On that note, the utter eeriness. This had me feeling uneasy the whole way through - because so much of it at the start could be real - and then when it hits the less plausible section...again, don't want to ruin anything, so I'll just vaguely say that the whole doll element was CREEPY.

4) The writing itself. I've read some reviews saying she's a bad writer, or there were too many commas. Well, I'm a professional editor / proofreader and it really wasn't that bad, unless those reviews are based on an older edition of the book. It was a very easy read, I wasn't struggling over grammar and punctuation offences, and actually there were some really beautiful lines in there. One, I noted, had 88 highlighters, so it can't be that bad, surely! And there I was, highlighting them myself! I've also read critique that 15-year-olds don't act / talk that way. Well, they don't act / talk the way they do in The Mortal Instruments, either, and look how popular that is. In fact, I find it difficult to believe teenagers talk / act the way they do in any of these YA books. I love how all the heroes, like Ethan in this series, are nerdy types hugely into reading Shakespeare and Greek mythology. Sure, it's improbable, but you know what? It's NOT impossible, and the whole point of reading is to lose yourself in the fantasy.

What's important to me is that I couldn't put this down. I read it in under 3 hours. And once I get through the rest of the freebies I downloaded the other day, I intend to fork out the money for the box set of books 2-4 of this series.

Radiant Survivor: How to Shine and Thrive Through Recovery from Stroke, Cancer, Abuse, Addiction and Other Life-Altering Experiences
Radiant Survivor: How to Shine and Thrive Through Recovery from Stroke, Cancer, Abuse, Addiction and Other Life-Altering Experiences
by Erica Tucci
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.78

5.0 out of 5 stars A book for everyone, 4 Dec. 2013
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This is a beautiful book about survival from what others would view as a crisis. I word it that way because Erica shows us how she managed to turn that crisis around into something transformational. The subject could be harrowing, but I came away from her story feeling inspired and uplifted.

What I loved most about this book was the lack of self-pity easily blended with empathy for others. The key message for me was that `tragedy' can strike when we least expect it, but how this tragedy affects us is entirely down to us. We hold the power to learn and grow with experience, rather than letting the experience dictate our futures.

Although Erica speaks of her recovery from stroke, her message applies to anyone who has ever gone through a traumatic life experience - in other words, this is a book for EVERYONE.

A Tale of Two Djinns
A Tale of Two Djinns
Price: £2.27

3.0 out of 5 stars A fantasy novel...without much fantasy, 5 Oct. 2013
I really like the premise of this book. I happened to have read a book on the djinn just last week, which was why I was interested to see what this would have to offer.

I would say this is definitely an entertaining book. There were quite a number of lines where the wording was a bit over-the-top, in my opinion, and I found that very funny...but I say that as a good thing, because I actually liked it.

I think the ideas in this story (the different elemental djinn at war with each other in alternate dimensions) were excellent. The reason I'm only giving this 3 stars is because I felt too little was done with those ideas.

It was a very short read - I got through it in about 90 minutes and I promise I read every word. And I'd say 80% of that was reading erotic scenes. Now, I have no issue with reading erotic scenes. They don't offend me, or I wouldn't have offered to read and review this, since the synopsis made it clear what I should expect.

It's just that it felt like such a waste of a truly great concept. There was very little exploration of the fantastical elements. They're just described as djinn and we have to accept that. Some are water, some are earth, some are air...but that's never explained. If I hadn't just been reading up on the subject, I would have been so confused.

There was no explanation of the alternate dimensions. There wasn't a lot done with those dimensions (you could take that in so many directions). They just walked between them when they wanted to go to a bar and hook up with someone.

There were a few references to 'human magic' but I had no idea why humans would have such magic and how that would amplify the powers of the djinn. Again, no explanation.

Also, I couldn't understand why the two protagonists loved each other. As far as I could tell, he liked her pert buttocks and she liked his abs and suddenly they were making huge sacrifices for each other. I would have liked more development of the relationship. Furthermore, when Maya transforms and learns to appreciate the earth djinn ways...well, I would have liked to have seen more of a gradual transition, instead of her seeing a couple things on the streets and suddenly rejecting everything she was ever raised to believe.

And I found certain aspects of the ending rather hard to believe.

Another issue for me was the language. I can't count how many unnecessary instances of swearing there were. Again, I have no issue with swearing. I used it in one of my own books. But in this book, it was so utterly different from all the other language used; it felt like I was reading a fantasy for the first half of a sentence, and then suddenly it turned into modern urban out of nowhere, and then reverted again. The inconsistency was jarring.

And on a more pedantic point: I was under the impression that 'djinn' WAS the plural, and the singular was 'djinni'...?

You know what it is? I wanted to be swept away by a fantasy of imagination. Instead, I felt like I was just reading a standard erotica book. And considering how short this book is (I believe it's less than 150 pages), the author could add a LOT to it. Keep what's there and just add another 150 pages developing the fantasy element. I reckon it could be an easy 5 stars then.

But that's just my opinion, of course :) Still, I enjoyed it, and I'd read a sequel.

Uncertainty (Gravity Series #2) (The Gravity Series)
Uncertainty (Gravity Series #2) (The Gravity Series)
Price: £1.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the first one, 26 Aug. 2013
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Okay, as with the first book in this series, there were a lot of moments where I thought, 'Really???' And yet I was utterly hooked and so disappointed when I reached the end and realised I had stayed up so late and would not be able to start book 3 until the next day!

As I find with all series, book 2 is so much better than book 1. We're already involved with the characters and the mystery has thickened. I think something this book does really well is it makes you care. I cared what happened to everyone. I cared about Jenna. I also think this book is great because of the emotions surrounding the story of Jenna. It was surprisingly believable, amid such a story line, and I found it both unsettling and moving.

This is a great mix of YA, paranormal romance and horror, without resorting to the typical vampire slant. It's genuinely creepy, but also lighthearted and humorous, and most of all, I really want to know what on earth is going on. Onto book 3!

Gravity (Gravity Series #1) (The Gravity Series)
Gravity (Gravity Series #1) (The Gravity Series)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An instant guilty pleasure, 25 Aug. 2013
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I need to state first off that I can't even count the number of times I found myself thinking, 'This is ludicrously implausible.' There were just so many instances where I thought, surely the police would care more about this, or she'd be excused from school after going through such a traumatic experience, or wow this is really speeding its way through the story, or....

But you know what? Forget all that, because I couldn't put it down. I don't even know what it was that kept me reading. Maybe it's simply that it was just so FUN! The ludicrous implausibility was somehow charming and adorable, and then the author would throw in a scene that was genuinely creepy, and I was right there wondering what on earth was going on - I had to know. And when it all finished, I was straight on Amazon buying all 4 sequels. Also, I'll admit, I loved the characters. There was something really endearing about them. I like the narrator. I like Theo. I even like Alex. And of course I like Henry. (Just what is his deal, anyway? I look forward to finding out.)

So it's not the most perfect thing I've ever read, hence missing that fifth star - but I seriously enjoyed this, all the same, and I look forward to the next chapter!

When You Were Young (Children of Eternity #4)
When You Were Young (Children of Eternity #4)
Price: £1.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Message to the author: PLEASE scrap 2-4 and rewrite these sequels - 1 was so good!, 22 Aug. 2013
I give this 2 stars because half of it interested it. I can't give it more, because it didn't go anywhere. Once again, I loved book 1. I only read this far because I really wanted to know what the deal was with Samantha and the Reverend. I thought maybe book 4 will suddenly be really good and I can just pretend books 2 and 3 never happened.

Sadly, the resolution to the mystery was very anticlimactic. Samantha and the island people didn't actually have any connection at all, when you got down to it. They just accidentally ran into each other. To me, there's nothing clever or interesting about that. That's not a story. It's just a chain of events.

Also, once again, how many times are we going to read the words 'fat pig'? Honestly. I don't recommend this series at all. And it's with great regret that I say that, because of how much I enjoyed the first installment. Seriously, I feel like begging the author to re-think this whole story, write off books 3-4, and start again with book 2. Because book 1 has so much potential...and that just heightened my disappointment.

Young Hearts (Children of Eternity #3)
Young Hearts (Children of Eternity #3)
Price: £1.99

1.0 out of 5 stars I'm trying to forget I read this, 22 Aug. 2013
I really couldn't bear this. Again, I loved book 1. I had high hopes for this series. I don't know what this book had to do with anything.

They go to the mainland and coincidentally meet Pryde's relatives. I was thinking, could there be more to this? Are the links going to be revealed somehow? (Answer: no.)

Mr Pryde is uncannily understanding and helpful, basically taking them all into his home after knowing them for all of 2 minutes, letting them wear his dead wife's clothing, etc. His son then randomly stumbles upon a potion in a cave, which brings out his Mr Hyde side. He supposedly falls in love with Samantha, yet decides she needs this potion too, to be prettier, and they go a bit mental and do some pretty hefty crimes, and yet get let off the hook for all of it and everyone understands? And in the end, they're still in love, despite what an utter ass he is to her. Do I understand it? No. Does this have anything to do with the island of Eternity? No.

And what on earth was going on with that random dream sequence thing with Prudence and what's-his-name where she was literally a fat pig and he rode on her back and they somehow fell in love that way!?

Meanwhile, there's another story going on at Eternity, which frankly I didn't care about. This book was nonsensical from top to bottom. But more than that, this book was WHINY! Every other line (literally, no exaggeration) was someone calling someone else 'fatty' or 'baby' and the other person whining, 'Shut up! Don't call me that!' I actually found it offensive, after a while, the number of fat comments were in this book. I don't know, does the author feel fat and have some kind of complex about it? Because it was just constantly 'fatty' 'fat' 'pig' 'snort snort' or something along those lines. It was actually disgusting. I wanted to slap every character in this book after the first ten pages.

I also need to note: how many flipping times are they going to become babies again? Who cares?

Young Family (Children of Eternity #2)
Young Family (Children of Eternity #2)
Price: £1.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A very disappointing sequel, 22 Aug. 2013
Um...I'm not sure what happened here. I LOVED book 1. It was such an original idea and I thought it was really going somewhere. There was this huge mystery set up and it all felt like it was going in the direction of some sort of complicated, terribly clever time travel story with perhaps a metaphysical message to it...and then I got this.

Basically, following on from book 1, now the children of Eternity have to make their way on their own, without the Reverend. Samantha is trying to figure out where she came from, as well, and who she really is. She stumbles upon Pryde's cabin and finds a lot of old clothing and starts to jump to a LOT of conclusions about what he was up to and his psychological state. There is no way anyone could know such things, so I thought perhaps this is a hint that she has paranormal abilities or something, right? But I've read all 4 books, and this never happens, so she really does just jump to ridiculous conclusions.

She finds photos of her parents, but there's never an explanation of why they're there or what they're for. Why would Pryde have them? Why would he care? Why is he even there helping the Reverend? (Again, read all 4 books and this is never explained.)

Then someone arrives on the island in search of the fountain of youth, but we're never told how he knows about it. That story rushed along far too quickly and didn't really go anywhere. The reason I rate this 3 stars is because at the time that I read it, I thought a lot of mysteries were being set up, so I was still really intrigued, so I'm basing my rating on how I felt at that time.

Shudder (Stitch Trilogy Book 2)
Shudder (Stitch Trilogy Book 2)
Price: £2.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, but I haven't fallen in love with it, 22 Aug. 2013
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Much like my experience reading 'Stitch', I found myself reading the first 80% of this thinking it was so taken from Stephen King books, which made it hard for me to involve myself fully, because I couldn't stop comparing it and feeling this came up short. But then at the end, it threw in other elements that suddenly changed the game and made it more original, and that forced me to re-think my view on it.

I think despite the similarities I've mentioned (namely to The Stand and The Running Man), I could still give this 5 stars except that I didn't feel very emotionally involved in the characters. They all feel very much like...well, like characters, rather than people I've come to love as if they were personal friends. I feel like these books are more story than writing, if that makes sense - the ideas are all there, it's all structured well, there's nothing wrong with it in any way, but I don't feel swept away by the actual words. That's what's holding me back from giving this 5 stars.

That might all sound picky, but that's just how I feel. I like it, and I definitely want to read book 3 because I'm very curious to see where this is all going, but I'm not in love with it.

Forever Young (Children of Eternity #1)
Forever Young (Children of Eternity #1)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most original stories I've read in a long time, 27 July 2013
I can't say I 'enjoyed' this, because it's not the sort of book anyone could 'enjoy' - in fact, it's downright sinister and highly unsettling. I think if anyone gives this book a low rating, it will be because they found it too disturbing, or it jarred with their religious views. I do not personally think it is attacking religion, so much as people who misinterpret religion and twist it for their own means - which can be found in any religion across the board and is unfortunate because it does a disservice to the people who have sincere faith and AREN'T crazy.

That said, I rushed through this book in 2 hours. It reminded me of 'The Handmaid's Tale', but with children...and then an entirely different twist. My rating is a reflection of the originality of the idea, when I hit the ending. I did not expect it at all. I've not personally read anything like it before, and there were a lot of moments when I literally gasped out loud with surprise. There were also so many unanswered questions in the end, I found myself immediately buying the next four books in the series, so watch this space....

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