Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alora: The Wander-Jewel by Tamie Dearen

Alora: The Wander-Jewel
Author:  Tamie Dearen
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 209
Release Date: February 24, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Alora is a normal fifteen-year-old girl who lives on a ranch in rural Montana. Her biggest excitement is the upcoming school dance. Until one day while taking a shower, she sees an image that almost seems real. A boy, with long brown hair and the most intense green eyes she’s ever seen.

Little does she know that this vision is only the beginning of a great adventure. That her life will be forever altered as she discovers another realm, a strange world of magic and gifts, where a man full of evil power will use any means possible to capture and control her or else to end her life.

Alora must decide whether to hide in the relative safety of her Montana home or risk everything to fulfill her destiny and defend a home she never knew existed. Though despised for their youth, Alora and her friends, mark the beginning of a new era in Laegenshire.

Alora is a book of powers and magic, good and evil, fighting and valor, and love that conquers all. Where urban fantasy and medieval fantasy merge, there we find the adventures of Alora.

Alora is a book that will appeal to a lot of young readers. Romance, fantasy, some coming-of-age sort of elements mixed in, there was plenty to entertain. The characters were fun, it was easy to read, and overall the book was a worthwhile story. I have to admit, teleportation by body jewelry is a concept I haven't encountered before in a book, and the Soulmate aspect could have been cheesy if it wasn't pulled off right, but somehow, those little things were charming in their own way. While a lot of YA appeals to young and old, I wondered if I would have loved it even more if I were just a bit closer to the main character's age. That's not to say I didn't like it quite a bit as it was.

Alora is one of those fantasy books where our world, and another realm, exist separate from each other. Or, at least they did. In comes one outsider, and a girl who can magically bring people to her or send them away with just her thoughts. The first person she ends up summoning turns out to be a boy named Kaevin. Turns out, the two of them are soulmates, which means separation from each other can have deadly consequences. 

When the romance first developed between Kaevin and Alora, I really liked it, but the rather forced intimacy between him and Alora did take away from that somewhere near the end of the story. I felt like the need for physical contact to restore each others energy made it hard for their relationship to develop naturally. Rather than having that romantic swoon when they're kissing, I felt like I was maybe watching to kids awkwardly make out for the first time. I guess I was sitting in the corner with Alora's Uncle, feeling like it was too much too fast. On the romance level, it probably wasn't my cup of tea for that reason. Soulmates+life or death+hand holding=yes. Awkward kissing for life or death reasons=no. It just took away the spark you can usually get with a good romance. 

The other little thing that I wasn't quite a fan of was the pairings that happened near the end of the book. It felt like every teenager instantly found their match. I don't know, I always feel like someone would end up as the third wheel in that situation. That whole, equal guy to girl ration just never feels believable to me. Again, personal taste, but it knocked my rating down a little bit. 

The last little criticism I had was Alora's attitude towards her dad. I just felt like her determination to "give him a chance" made me want to smack her upside the head. I don't know, but when you hear how he became her "father", I just think that would be a pretty clear indicator this guy can't be trusted. It's not like she just heard he's on a power hunting spree by itself. Being responsible for her mother's death alone should have caused some more caution that I felt she exhibited. The ending seemed to let things work out, but there was a large portion of the story I was praying she would smarten up. 

In the end, the story turned out nice. There was a good premise for future books, and a little prophecy is always good for momentum. I do think this could appeal even more to Teens closer to Alora's age, so I tried to factor that in with my rating, but overall it's a good book with plenty to look forward to later in the series. 

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