Random Musings by Frodosco

Killing My Kindle

Killing My Kindle: Alexander Death by J.L. Bryan

KillingMyKindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Alexander Death by J.L. Bryan

Released On: September 23rd, 2011

Summary From GoodreadsAlexander Death

While Seth searches for Jenny, Dr. Heather Reynard of the CDC unravels Seth and Jenny’s secrets.

Alexander opens Jenny’s mind to her deep past, and to the full horrific extent of her powers.

Torn between her feelings for Alexander and Seth, and between her past lives and her present, Jenny must prepare to face her enemies, as well as the darkness within her…

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Alexander Death is book three of The Paranormals series. The series is focused on a group of six entities that have a variety of powers, all of which have been residing in humans since the beginning of mankind, and that reincarnate after every death, though it varies as to how much of their past they remember each time.

In the last book Alexander was introduced, showcasing his power of controlling the dead. He swept away the impressionable Jenny, and in this book devises a way for her to remember their shared past. Jenny abandons Seth after catching him in an act of betrayal, and in this story she tries to figure out who she was, is, and wants to be.

I’ve enjoyed The Paranormals series for the most part thus far, and that remains true with Alexander Death. The range of emotions that Bryan can elicit from his characters is very impressive, and a big part of why the books work so well. I can always get a feel for what the various characters are thinking (he changes point of view a lot) even when they aren’t saying so outright. Often it is what they don’t say or do that is the most telling.

My Emotions

The displays of powers is also pretty cool, although they do achieve some pretty mundane things to go along with the miraculous, though I suppose that leads to more believability. While the characters are great, and the powers are always intriguing, it is the peeks back into history that I enjoy the most.

There are stories of different battles, major events, and great leaders, all of which are woven to be seen in a way where some of these entities could have been controlling things behind the scenes, or even right in front. The discussions of architecture, grand kingdoms, and the wide variety of ways that people can rule is fascinating.

There remains the issue, something I mentioned when I reviewed Tommy Nightmare, book two in the series, that Jenny tends to flip flop as to where her loyalties lie. This is one of my biggest pet peeves in any book, when a character has a set path and then they do a 180, so when it happened again I was pretty frustrated. Without any spoilers, let’s just say Jenny doesn’t really know what the heck she wants most of the time, usually following someone else’s lead, and this is the case in Alexander Death. It didn’t kill my enjoyment of the book, but it kept it from being as good as it could have been.

Oh Hell No

There is quite a bit of action in Alexander Death, from gun fights, to zombie attacks, and even involving some naughty scenes. The book has a bit of something for everyone. The romances are just as varied with power plays, love in its seemingly truest form, and pure lust. It doesn’t get too incredibly graphic, which makes sense since it is YA, but there are a few romps to be had.

Overall I thought Alexander Death was a pretty good book. If there had been just a bit more development spent on the transition that Jenny had towards the end that would have made it excellent, but alas it is not to be. I do recommend the series, beginning with Jenny Pox, and I look forward to reading Jenny Plague-Bringer (the fourth and final book) in the future. Thanks as always for reading.

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Elusive Memories

KillingMyKindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Elusive Memories by Amanda Shofner

Released On: June 13th, 2014

Summary From GoodreadsElusive Memories

The Northern Alliance Betterment Society, better known as the Hunters, has persecuted the Gifted for years. When Sam Benson is taken and her memory stolen, she certainly isn’t their first victim. But she’s determined to use her family’s influence as memory-bringer elders to make sure she’s one of the last.

As soon as she escapes the Hunters’ compound, anyway.

Two Hunter guards claim to be working to get Sam free, but only one has her best interests at heart—and holds the key to mounting an offense against the Hunters. With her memory fractured and the Hunters set against her, can she choose the right person to trust?

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Elusive Memories is designed to throw you off track at every possible moment and in ways you never stop to consider before it’s too late. In that it succeeds. One of the types of powers in this series is that of illusionists, able to disguise all sorts of things, and the book seems to work as if the reader is under one powerful illusion, altering their perception so they don’t really see what is in front of them. For that I give Shofner major credit, it is not something easily done.

However, my main issue with the book is that it takes a long time to build up into anything really interesting. Now, I’m a fan of authors like Stephen King, and most of us know how much setup he uses, so I’m used to that, but he does it with purpose. He also manages to enthrall you even while just giving you a layout of the world or slowly working you into knowing certain characters.

With Elusive Memories there is no gripping effect, the main character is so broken, lost, and hollow that there is no connection to be made there, and while we find out about the different abilities pretty early they aren’t made fascinating until around the middle of the book. There’s no big draw to lure the reader in and keep them there.

Hollow

Why So Hollow?

Despite that, I decided to keep on reading, figuring that the buildup had to lead to something pretty crazy, and it did. New powers, a struggle between regular humans and gifted, experiments on the latter, and some needed action and suspense. There was even a bit of potential romance thrown in. I’d say there is enough there in the second half of the book to warrant being patient through the first.

I still didn’t really connect with Sam, even though I understand her motivations. She seems to much of a shell, someone being forced to go through the motions that the author needs while not having much of a sense of self, and while losing some of her memories explains a bit of that away it doesn’t excuse it. I’m intrigued enough by the concept of the gifts to read further, and I’m hopeful that new characters will make the series more interesting, and that I might find a connection with them. Thanks as always for reading.

Three Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Pieces by Michael Crane

KillingMyKindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Pieces by Michael Crane

Released On: May 13th, 2014

Summary From GoodreadsPieces

When a little girl’s body is found in the woods, a once quiet town is shaken to its core as it deals with the aftermath in this short story collection.

A man desperately tries to make a living but finds it difficult when the company van scares potential customers away. A parent fails to see when being protective of her only child transforms into an unhealthy obsession. A man decides he no longer wants children after hearing about the dead little girl, but is there something else factoring into the sudden decision? And in the final story, a child shuts down almost completely and has no idea if she can go on without her best friend.

In these twelve stories connected by a terrible tragedy, grown-ups and children alike try put the pieces back together again without any easy answers.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Pieces wasn’t quite what I had expected when I picked it up. I’m very familiar with Crane’s writing and his style, and usually his books (especially the Morbid Drabble series) have a consistent theme or tone to them. Pieces doesn’t quite fit that goofy or twisted vibe that I was used to, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

The twelve stories all center around the young girl that was killed and display different ways that humans might grieve after hearing about that kind of news. It doesn’t matter if they were close to her or not, all that had to happen was it being in close proximity for their lives to change in some way. Some coped with drinking, others with isolation, some become obsessed, others just try to go about as if nothing had changed.

Pieces does a solid job at showcasing how the human psyche can be affected by tragedies such as this under a wide variety of circumstances. However, in terms of just enjoying the writing, it missed the mark a bit. A few of the stories didn’t seem to have much point beyond that general scope, and it felt like they were plugged in just to show variety. Other stories were stronger and had a lot of meaning and power to them, such as the best friend at the end or the lady obsessed with the news even though she didn’t know the girl.

For me it was the inconsistency and how some of the stories were rather mundane that put me off a little. Overall I’d say Pieces does what it is supposed to, but knowing Crane’s skill as a writer, it was unfortunate that it didn’t feel like it was as strong as it could have been. Some people wouldn’t be as affected as others, but that doesn’t mean that those stories need to be lacking in purpose.

If you want to read about the many different ways humans react to a singular event then Pieces is probably for you. If you’re a fan of Crane and want his usual brand of twisted humor, then maybe pass on this one. It’s a good piece, just not a great one. Thanks as always for reading.

Three Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Beneath the Sand by Scott Zavoda

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Beneath the Sand by Scott Zavoda

Released On: June 10th, 2013

Summary From GoodreadsBeneath the Sand

Have you ever worried that something is hiding beneath the sand? What if something brushed your foot one night on the beach?
Would you run? Could you?

Now that surfing, dating, and every aspect of a California retirement are off limits, he paints and pretends the beach isn’t so close. Things might have been okay, too, if he hadn’t found the new pile of sand in his house or thought so hard about the accidents.

He tries to do what they trained him back in his Vietnam days – focus ahead but never behind, but it’s hard to ignore what tickles and scrapes your feet, what whispers to you in the dead of night.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

Beneath the Sand is a freebie I stumbled upon a while ago and I rarely get to read about military characters, be it active or formerly enlisted, and so I figured I would give this novella a shot. I wish I had passed. Beneath the Sand, unfortunately, does nothing to intrigue the reader or use any sort of twist or turn anywhere in the story. Essentially it took the obvious summary and just elongated it to ~45 pages of zero surprises and little else.

The MC is a war vet who is stereotypically (though not surprisingly or inaccurately) cynical and slightly off in the head, bemoaning this or that, and in general being unhappy with something even during the better times. There was nothing that drew me to care about him or the characters around him and so, when he experienced the loss that was clearly coming, I didn’t care. The mysterious sand is a simple concept and Zavoda wasn’t able to make it come alive for me.

The story was pretty simple, the relationships fine but not special in any way, and it was a sad and dull tale indeed. This was a rare time where I was glad the story was short. Oh well, they can’t all be winners. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #70/365; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #24/75

One Smiling Frodo w Background


Killing My Kindle: Lessons III – Demonic Dolls and Other Morbid Drabbles

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Lessons III – Demonic Dolls and Other Morbid Drabbles by Michael Crane

Released On: July 30th, 2011

Summary From Amazon

A sister’s doll doesn’t take kindly to insults, and proves it.
A puppet maker believes his creations are out to get him.
A mother can’t stand her son’s new favorite toy… and for good reason.

In Michael Crane’s latest collection of terrifying and darkly comic drabbles, you’ll find out why Playtime is only fun for those with vicious intentions. In these thirty 100-word stories you’ll run into deranged toys with old scores to settle, homicidal sociopaths and other unapologetic creatures that lurk in the shadows.

In LESSONS III: DEMONIC DOLLS AND OTHER MORBID DRABBLES, nobody ever leaves Playtime in one piece…

Features bonus drabbles/shorts from authors David Dalglish, Daniel Arenson, Sean Sweeney, Imogen Rose and Jason G.Anderson.

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Michael Crane is at his best when he fires out quick, creepy, and humorous short stories, which is what all of the Lessons collections are. I enjoyed the first two Lessons collections quite a bit and got the hankering to read the next one recently, so it was time for III. So in the same style as the first two I will be giving a reverse-ordered favorites list, this time with my 5 favorites! ^.^

5. Never Date a Circus Clown – I imagine the inspiration for this one came from the Joker, and that’s really all I need to say about this one. Who wouldn’t read a short that reminds them of an insane clown? Exactly.

4. A Bloody Joke – Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and often comedians find that their jokes work very well on some crowds, but not at all on others. In this case the consequences are a bit more dire.

3. Downer – People when they are upset often say things they don’t mean, or are at least more extreme because of the emotions they are feeling, and Crane exploits this understanding in Downer very well.

2. Procrastinator – I don’t think the title really works for this one, but while the vampire joke is familiar and reminds me of one of the stories in Lessons II it still works pretty well. Another great ending on this one as well, if only Twilight could have been as sensible.

1. Confession Time – This was a truly hilarious story, not darker like some of the others, and the ending was priceless. Most of us have a guilty conscience to some degree, so when someone corners us trying to get us to confess it isn’t always obvious as to what exactly they are talking about. That is the situation in this story and it’s quite satisfying.

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #60/365; Mount TBR Challenge #43/200; 2014 TBR Pile #43/50; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #21/75

Four Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe

Released On: January 14th, 2014

Summary From Goodreads

So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.

One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.

As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

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It’s time for another edition of Frodo’s Hobbit Sized Reviews! Short and sweet just like 2nd breakfast!

I was excited enough for this book that, despite being approved for it in eBook form, I bought a print one anyway. Looking back on it that thought process is rather confusing, just like my thoughts toward the book after reading it. The first half of the book reads much like a contemporary. Anne is in a school setting, she has classes, a girl she fights with from the very beginning, guys she falls for, etc. Sure, there was some weird stuff going on, but it read more like a contemp with mystery elements than anything else.

Then you get to the second half and BOOM! Paranormal weirdness, secrets are revealed and they are just freaking bizarre, and to top it off Anne just takes it in stride. She tries to make herself believe it is a regular school and all, but eventually just moves past that, rationalizes that the island is all magical/supernatural/whatever and tries to figure out even MORE about the creepy stuff going on. The last 50-75 pages are a blur of action, people constantly changing sides and revealing more about themselves, and it was really jumbled and gave me a reader’s version of whiplash.

Parts of the book worked for me such as the main setting (a creepy school that I enjoyed quite a bit), the bitter rivalry of the students, and the awesomeness that was a certain dance. On the other hand; love triangles with obvious endings, repetitious dialogue, and a frantic over-the-top pace that didn’t make me excited but confused, those elements didn’t work. I’m alright with the MC, some of the side characters are interesting (I actually really enjoyed her rivals), and the dynamics of the PTs give the series a lot of possibilities going forward.

Did I enjoy it? Somewhat. It was a decent read and I’ll likely check out the second book because this one ended in an irritating cliffhanger and I want to know what’s going on. I struggled with the beginning as well as the end, but there is enough here to warrant a look. This is a debut novel so hopefully book two will be stronger. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #54/365; New Author Challenge #24/50; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #18/75

Three Smiling Frodos w Background


Killing My Kindle: Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan

KillingMyKindle

Killing My Kindle

For 2014 I am tackling my Kindle app in an effort to make a dent in the large library of often forgotten eBooks. Every week I will talk about an eBook I read, be it good or bad, so that I can stay motivated and share some of it with you.

This week I took a stab at: Tommy Nightmare by J.L. Bryan

Released On: April 10th, 2011

Summary From Goodreads

While Fallen Oak recovers from the Jenny pox, someone new is hunting Jenny.

Like Jenny, Ashleigh Goodling belonged to a pair of opposites with powers that mirror each other.

Now Jenny and Seth must face the opposite of love…

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Earlier this year I read and really enjoyed Jenny Pox, the first book in this series, so I was pretty excited to see what Tommy Nightmare had in store. Tommy Nightmare introduces a pretty large group of new characters, a lot of them becoming close to being MCs, but there was still plenty of Jenny and Seth from the previous book. There’s also another returning member, but I won’t say anything about them for spoiler reasons.

I really liked what Bryan did with Tommy’s character for the most part. He’s a badass, doesn’t take anyone’s crap, and uses his power, fear, to his advantage whenever he sees fit. Sure, that doesn’t make him overly likable, though his backstory does elicit some sympathy, but it is a logical path for him to take. My complaints for him are twofold. One, I wanted more of him in this book, he really only had about a third or so at most, probably less, and his sense of humor and pretty freaky power potential wasn’t expanded on as much as I would have liked. Two, in the second half of the book he was being manipulated, and despite showing some resistance for all of one or two pages, he just let himself be a puppet. It was disappointing.

The rest of the book bounces around from the previous MCs, Jenny and Seth, to other new characters that have other (admittedly cool) powers, such as Esmeralda and Alexander. There is also a regular human that has her own arc, but it doesn’t really need more than that mention. While the multiple points of view do help to give a full scope of what is happening in the story, it did make for a bit of a jumbled feel and I would just be starting to enjoy one section when it would jump to a different one. A little irritating.

With all that said I did enjoy much of what I read and the displays of power were really incredible. The different romances that went on, despite my usual distaste for triangles and various couplings taking over the story, were plentiful but really well done. I liked the dynamics presented and thought that they added to the story where as others I have seen it might detract. My favorite element outside of the powers was definitely the flashbacks to ancient times. Ancient Sparta and Athens were mentioned a few times and it gave the story a realistic feel, plus I just love ancient history so the more of that the better.

Even though there were elements that I mentioned that disappointed me this likely would have been a 3/5 if it weren’t for the ending. Without spoiling anything I can say that Jenny does a 180 in a lot of ways, runs off without thinking, and changes her entire persona because of one incident. Everyone else stayed true to their story arc, but Jenny? Nope. So needless to say I was really disappointed.

There are good points here, potential for the rest of the series, and enough to get me to read book three in hopes that it improves back to the level of the first book, Jenny Pox. Overall it was a disappointment and a giant drop off, especially in terms of believability and consistency. The writing is still really solid in quality, but maybe Alexander Death will settle down on the POV jumps and get back to the roots of the series that made it start out so well. I am definitely intrigued by Alexander’s character, which made only a brief appearance in book two. Thanks as always for reading!

Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge #48/365; Mount TBR Challenge #34/200; 2014 TBR Pile #34/50; Seriously Series Reading Challenge #19/75; 2014 Ebook Reading Challenge #17/75

Two Smiling Frodos w Background