Review: Trial by Dreams by Jolene Buchheit
I really enjoyed Trial by Charm, the first book in The Charmed Trials, by Jole Buchheit, that when we were offered a chance to review the second book, Trial by Dreams we jumped on the opportunity! Check out the series information, my review, and an excerpt!
ulia and Vander thought their trial was over. But Demeter has only just begun wreaking havoc on their lives.
Julia finally accepted that her boyfriend is the son of a Siren and her family isn’t as normal as she once thought. But when she accidentally unlocks a power she didn’t know she had, her world dissolves into chaos once more. Now she is forced to uncover the truth about who she truly is, in order to triumph over their most important quest yet.
For Vander, the stakes have been raised as he seeks what was taken from him, torn between his need to protect Julia from Demeter and his focus on their second trial. What starts as a twisted journey across Iowa dissolves into recurring dreams that foreshadow a dark fate should they fail to work together.
As the fear of failure builds and time ticks away, Julia and Vander must learn to trust their instincts – and one another – before their reality spins into a nightmare that rips them apart.
“I’m selfish, Julia. If anyone understands the power of the mind to convince you things are real when they aren’t, it’s me.”
Ominous clouds fill his eyes before he looks down at his hands. For the first time, it dawns on me how little he has used his charm on this mission. It makes me feel ashamed for giving him such a hard time for all of the charming he has done in the past.
“I never thought about how my ability could affect others, until you asked me about it. I was just doing whatever was easiest for me, and hoping my skills would help me survive. But now I realize it isn’t my charms that I need, it’s you. You are what keeps me focused, and honestly, you are the only one who has challenged me to become a better person.”
I’ve been challenging him? It seems like being a part of his life has brought me through such amazing journeys that I’ve had no choice but to grow.
He takes a shaky breath and continues, “You’re the light in the darkness of my life, giving me something to cling to. When you get anxious, it is like my beacon of light becomes a mere candle flickering in the breeze, threatening to go out. Because of my own need for brightness, I reach out to stoke it back into a roaring flame.” He nudges my shoulder and winks. “And, boy, how it makes me happy when you roar.”
Memories of all the smartass things I’ve said to him in the past week make the corner of my mouth turn up. He uses his next words to steal my breath.
“I’m desperate to protect and save you from your anxieties, because I need you to protect and save me.”
Maintaining eye contact becomes difficult when my vision gets blurry. The tears in my eyes are different than the usual ones that fall. They aren’t carrying any sadness, just comfort and joy, like a Christmas carol has come to life on my face. I try to swipe them away with the back of my hand, but Vander stops me.
“Tears are powerful things. Sometimes they heal, not exactly like my mom’s do, but they have the power to make you feel better. Other times they help you celebrate when your happiness can’t be contained. And for me, they offer even more support, because water multiplies my powers, but tears impact them exponentially more, especially if they aren’t sadness tears.”
After my hands fall back into my lap, he reaches in his back pocket and takes out the flat vial that once held his mother’s tear he used to heal my ankle. Uncapping it, he holds it under my eye and collects the moisture from one side and then the other. Even though I’m not thrilled about crying, I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.
I clear my throat. “What power do you think my tears hold? I don’t even know how to use the power I know about.”
He replaces the cap and puts the vial back in his wallet. “If they are anything like the mighty hold you have on my heart, I believe they could heal the world of all its problems.”
After the success of their first trial given to them by Demeter, yup the goddess herself, Julia and Vander assume they would be given a break. Well you know what they say about people who assume. With no time to spare, Julia must come to terms with who she now knows Vander is, the son of a Siren; and also with who she thinks she is.
The stakes are much higher in this trial. Time is not on their side and along with getting back what was taken from them, they must also wade through a lifetime of lies. Who can you trust when you don’t even trust yourself?
Trial by Dreams is the second book in The Charmed Trials Series by Jolene Buchheit, and the sequel to Trial by Charm. We already know from the first book that Julia and Vander are destined to be together. But how much can a new relationship take? In the first book they are sent on a quest by Demeter. After passing that surely they would get a small reprieve, right? Little do they know that the fun has just begun.
The main female character in this series is Julia, the teenager whose high school swim life was thrown into a tailspin when she started getting to know Vander. She is a teenager in every sense of the word and I had to keep reminding myself of that fact while I was reading this story. I think out of all of the characters in this book Julia made the least personal growth. We know from book one, that Julia is dealing with some mental health issues. As someone who has a very personal relationship with some of these issues, this was one of the things that originally enticed me about this series. That being said I felt like Julia is a very extreme case, and it would have been nice to see her grow in maturity at some point in this story. I am still hopeful that she will make a change and have a triumphant return in book three.
While I do feel like Julia is stuck in a holding pattern, I was very impressed with the growth I saw in Vander. Vander who has used his abilities to get his way throughout his life suddenly finds himself questioning his methods due to his budding relationship with Julia. It was nice to see this reformed playboy show such concern with someone else’s well being, and of course dealing with his protectiveness over Julia. While the “alpha male” is fun to read, it was nice to be reminded of the fact that he is still young and scared every once in a while. I think this was accomplished nicely throughout the story.
Technically the writing in this book was sound. I did not see any large, glaring mistakes in grammar or continuity of the main story line. The POV and writing style are very much like the first book in the series. This book is written more for a teen or early adult audience, so you should expect the level of writing to reflect as much. This was a quick read, with a few good plot twists thrown in the mix.
Personally I did like this book. I still think it is light Greek mythology, and is a good book for someone dealing with mental health issues. Having said that, I feel like there is a way to successfully write about this and I am not quiet sure Buchheit hit the mark. Just like in a romance novel where the sex scenes steal from the main story, I feel like this is the same in the case of Trial by Dreams. I felt like Julia was having a breakdown of some sort every chapter, and honestly it was slightly distracting to the overall story. I know deep down Julia is strong, and it is not weakness to have a breakdown, but by the third time she is crying I just want to find out what happens next.
The actual plot of the story is pretty fantastic. The twists and turns went from something I predicted to things that took me completely by surprise. It was a pleasure to read, and after that cliffhanger, I cannot wait to see what happens in book three!
Overall I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 hearts! Pick it up today for a fun and inspiring read.
Seventeen-year-old Julia Wright doesn’t understand her friends’ obsession with boys. She’s never even had a crush, and proudly maintains her composure no matter who is in her presence. In fact, the hotter a guy is to her friends, the more annoying he seems to Julia. When she is blackmailed into being the manager of the men’s swim team, she finds herself face to face with the worst of them all.
Team Captain Vander Thelxinoe is the typical self-assured jock, with a not-so-typical ability to change people’s minds at will. It’s a talent he uses often to get what he wants–only his charms don’t work on Julia. Now he is anxious to figure out why, and the closer he tries to get, the more desperate she is to stay away–especially when he somehow awakens a side of her she never knew existed.
Their quite unexpected friendship puts Julia in the middle of a quest she doesn’t quite understand. As her familiar world starts to unravel around her, Julia must partner with the one person who knows how to push her buttons–and, in doing so, discovers the unbelievable truth about who she really is.
Can Julia and Vander survive the trial set before them, or will they succumb to a more terrifying fate?
As a substitute teacher, Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She also uses it as an outlet for fangirling by showing upcoming book-to-movie trailers at the end of class, or discussing vital issues like whether Katniss should have picked Gale or Peeta.
She is committed to helping Special Education teenagers become independent adults and helping them find a way to focus on the positive especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, and three cats—sometimes all at once—while reading Young Adult books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.