Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carnelian by B. Kristin McMichael

The Basics:
Carnelian by B. Kristin McMichael
Lexia Press
Book One in the Chalcedonny Chronicles
New Adult/YA
Published January 9, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I was intrigued by the amulet, and the time-travel component in the blurb.


Everyone has a past, but for most it isn’t so far in the past as Seth Sangre. His past is literally from thousands of years ago. Seth’s past led him to the present seeking something that might help him save his country from destruction. He has been in the present for over three years now, and he just found exactly what he has been looking for.

Mari had dreams of college being a fresh start, one where she would start over and not fall for the good looking player like high school. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what ends up falling into her lap on the first day she moves into the dorms. Now she has to hold to her promise to herself not fall for the handsome Seth Sangre. But he doesn’t plan to make it easy for her. Seth has already marked her as his next conquest. As the semester progresses, Mari learns that Seth might just have a past of his own that’s literally in the past. Suddenly, Mari finds her future along with her past put into question. She’s connected to Seth far more than she ever wanted to be, and maybe he isn’t the player who she thought he was. If Mari can trust her heart enough to follow him, Seth will lead Mari on an adventure of a lifetime-and reveal family secrets she never knew existed.

My thoughts:

Carnelian is a book with some good ideas, and some not so good writing.

On the positive side, there's an interesting story here - a young man time travels to find something to save his country during a time of war. He brings with him his two best friends, and they transition into high school and then college in modern day America, hunting for the girl the goddess has told him to find.

Meanwhile, we've got said girl finally enjoying some freedom after growing up stifled by her semi-present mother and grandfather, expected to acquire a degree and follow into the family business - antiquities.

Mari's not impressed by Seth when she first meets him - he seems like a player, and she's already been burned in the past. I liked the idea that he's found the love of his life, the girl who can save his country, but he can't quite convince her that his interest is genuine.

Unfortunately the time travel makes things a bit murky. It's never really clear what the threat is that Mari is supposed to save everyone from, nor is it clear how she's going to manage that.

The real problem with the book lies in the writing style. I found it repetitive - for example, Mari reaffirms *many times* that Seth is a player and that she won't be number twenty-four on his list of conquests. Many details like this are repeated multiple times, which makes the story and pacing sag. Some of the dialogue is stilted by being a little formal or wordy. The rhythms are off for college freshmen - I felt like the dialogue could have been snappier and more casual. There's also some redundency - an example: at the beginning of the book, Mari is referred to a few times as a 'new freshman' - what other kind of freshman is there?

When it comes to the characters, Mari's given some really convenient abilities. She reveals that she's done a stint with the track team when she's trying to complete an obstacle course, another semester of high school was spent with the swim team when she's doing a diving test. At a critical moment, she reveals she's taken self-defense classes through her high school as well. Her skills only pop up when it's useful for her to have them. I didn't get a sense that she was particularly athletic, but instead rather bookish and not overly graceful, but here she is with all of this athletic experience. Also, she complains about feeling stifled by the life she had with her mother and grandfather, but apparently she was able to travel all over the globe with them - hitting five or six countries in South America alone -, and also she was used to her grandfather having to take off at the drop of a hat to meet with his rich clients (suggesting she was left alone a fair amount). It feels like she's had more opportunity to experience the world than most?

There were also some odd grammar things, and a few typos and such that drew me out of the story.

Ultimately, I didn't find this book convincing. If the writing was tigther, that might help pick up the pace and give the story room to really blossom.

Bottom line:

Unless you're a huge fan of time travel, YA or the author's previous works, you can probably skip this one. It's not polished enough for me, and other than a few fun plot moments (there's some good ideas around college club activities), the story needs some tightening up too.

2 stars
For fans of time travel romance, YA

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