Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Flecks of Gold - Alicia Buck Also appears on The Screaming NitpickerAfter a violent confrontation with her mother's boyfriend Joe, Mary and her mother flee to Arizona to get away from him. Immediately, a strange boy named Kelson locks onto her. Despite her attraction to him, she remembers every now and then that something might not be right here. Then he shows off some magic and kidnaps her mother. Without a second thought, she mimics the same kind of magic he did and goes from Earth to Esa, a land on an alternate plane of reality. With a newly-acquired teacher named Breeohan in tow, Mary sets out to get her mother back from Kelson.Let's get this out of the way immediately: I hated this book. It was badly written, see-through like the clean windows of a house, and as dull as a monotone lecture on toe fungus. Solitary drops of water on a tabletop are deeper than this book ever was! The only nice thing I have to say about this story is that the idea of the magic lacings was a new one that was kind of interesting. Otherwise, Flecks of Gold was insulting to my intelligence, written without any life to it, and didn't bring anything new to the table. It was just a collection of fantasy cliches with pretty packaging.Let's start with out heroine Mary. I wanted to cut off her head so no one would have the time to heal her with lacings. This girl was a perfect Mary Sue heroine and if you look through my reviews, you can see that I don't throw around the writing term "Mary Sue" lightly! She's supposed to be so mature because she handles all the bills for her mother and takes care of the money, but this girl is nothing but an immature little brat who gets everything handed to her. I mean it--everything is so damn convenient for her. She just happens to land in the chicken coop of a mage willing to help her learn magic. Then she runs into another mage who is willing to teach her magic. Despite how dangerous it is to experiment with lacings and how rare it is to see full lacings, Mary does both of these easily.She doesn't have to work hard to do anything or makes sacrifices. This isn't interesting to read about! I want to see the heroines struggle and work hard to become powerful because that is interesting and seeing them work so hard to get what they want makes me feel warm inside. When they do what Mary does and are just perfect at it despite knowing little about it at first, I don't want to read about it.Another thing heroines should do is adapt when thrown into unfamiliar surroundings because it indicates strategic thought. Katniss of The Hunger Games fame did it and she survived. Chloe of The Summoning does it for her own benefit. Even Rose Hathaway of Vampire Academy had to adapt when she and Lissa escaped from their school to live in the human world and it worked for two years. Mary adapts when forced to and otherwise acts like she's back home. She's experienced for herself thanks to her special golden eyes that the abnormal is scorned. Then she spends all her time acting abnormal without any thought of how they might treat the abnormal in this obviously different world.One of the biggest sources of "conflict" (this is in quotations because it was such a manufactured conflict that it doesn't count in my eyes) was her romantic troubles with her magic teacher Breeohan. She thinks he likes this one bitchy girl, and then he thinks she likes this friend of his they're traveling with. This "conflict" is kept up for two hundred pages, only kept going because they won't sit down and talk to each other for five minutes about it. This is not how you do romantic conflict, people. Give them a bigger problem than being too stupid and hard-headed to sit down and talk.Speaking of Breeohan, he was about as see-through as a pane of glass. There was never a question of whether or not he liked Mary like there should have been; there was also never a question about whether or not she liked him. The entire cast was one-dimensional! I would call them two-dimensional, but that would be an insult to cardboard characters. These guys aren't even close to that. From Avana the mean-girl noblewoman to Kelteon/Kelson the villain to our two main characters Mary and Breeohan, no one gets any depth whatsoever. We never find out why these people do the things they do or are the people they are.And to finish, I will say that I have never been so insulted by a book in my life. Mary spends the entire book narrating with huge hints like "he looked at me intently" (which soon became a sign that there was way more to it) and "it was like (scenario here that later turns out to be true)." Fifty pages in, I called every single twist in the book (and I mean every twist; no exaggeration here) and how it was going to end because there was were these blinking-sign hints for all of the twists. It made me feel like the author was talking down to me, thinking me so stupid that I needed all these obvious hints to understand when I could figure it out just fine.When applied to a book, the word "execution" often means how well an element of the story was written or pulled off. A book that had a well-written plot might have the sentence "The plot was executed well" said about it. Another definition of "execution" is one where it means someone dies, like a criminal is executed. This is one instance where I would say this book's idea was executed and mean the second definition. If written better, this idea could have gone places and made me fall in love. Instead, this high-potential idea was executed without mercy. Can someone else please read this to see if they find the same problems I did?