Monday, July 27, 2015

Descendants: Junior Novel-4.5 stars

Descendants: Junior Novel. 3.04 hrs. Disney Press, 2015. $10.46. Audible download.

Source: Review: Copy
Descendants from history’s most evil villains, Jay, Mal, Evie, and Carlos has only ever known the life they’ve led on Isle of the Lost. When Belle and Beast’s son, Ben, offers them a chance to prove themselves good, the opportunity for the four is too good to pass up. There’s a hiccup in their chance, however. The history’s most evil villain, Maleficent, wants the four to steal Fairy Godmother’s Wand. With the wand, she can take over the good and evil people of the world and get her revenge. Will Mal follow in her mother’s footsteps? Will she and her friends turn out to be good or evil?

Narrator, Kyla Garcia is a lively narrator with unique intonations that draw the listener into Mal’s world. Her transitions are smooth and easily keep the listener wanting to find out what happens next. The plot is well developed, humorous, and has good pacing. Characters are well rounded, engaging, and entertaining. Together, the two complement each other to create a full experience for listeners. People who enjoy Disney, villains and heroes, fantasy, and friendship stories will like listening to this book.

4.5 stars, Grades 4 to 7

Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self-Destruction by Scott Hughes-4 stars

Hughes, Scott, Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self-Destruction. pgs. 288. CreateSpace, 2015. $12.99.

Source: Bought.

When one sets out on a self-destructive path, it isn’t always obvious that you’re doing so. It could be guilt in the case of Maggie Stancu’s “Running with Guilt” or a sense of justice in the case of Isobel Sheene’s “Vindictive” and J.B. Rice’s “Burden of a Soldier.” The self-destructive person may justify their actions, get around the obstacles in their path, or resort to murder. All of them, however, have one thing in common. Such chosen paths result in one’s self-destruction. In Holding Fire: Short Stories of Self-Destruction, ten short stories attempt to answer the question: what causes one’s self-destruction?

Each story is strong in character development/growth and plot development. There is a mix of different genres including, but not limited to, fantasy, realistic fiction, and mystery. Each author expertly deals with delicate issues such as grief, love, abuse, revenge, bullying, and guilt without losing the reader.

The characters seem like believable characters that fall victim to life and bad choice. The woman spurned by a romantic interest, the boy who never got past being bullied, the soldier forced to watch a friend get murdered,  and the person who got wrapped up in corporate espionage are a few such examples. The fact that readers will be able to relate to the different characters’ personalities and choices makes this collection even more eerie and compelling. The overall engaging feel of the book makes the reader stop and give pause, to think and reevaluate their own choices and lives.

Writing styles are hard to judge since each is written by a different author, but each smoothly transitions between scenes and doesn’t have a jarring effect on the reader. Layouts are well done, but there are still a few spelling and grammar mistakes that distract the reader from the heart of the stories.

At first glance, this book may give readers the impression of having stereotypical characters and themes. This, however, is not the case. Each story is not only unique and well developed, but easily paint for the reader the ultimate anti-hero picture.

Overall I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars (or 3 out of 4 stars).  The stories were interesting to read. The themes of grief, self-destruction, guilt, and revenge are well handled and draw the reader into each story. There are, however, some spelling and grammar mistakes that might throw the average reader off as they’re reading along. Readers who enjoy short stories, books dealing with revenge and death, or who enjoy a wide variety of genres will like reading this book.
4 stars, ADULT

Please note: This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.