Review: The Bachelor Auction

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Title: The Bachelor Auction [The Bachelors of Arizona #1]
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Genres: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Cinderella never had to deal with this crap.

Jane isn’t entirely sure that Cinderella got such a raw deal. Sure, she had a rough start, but didn’t she eventually land a prince and a happily-ever-after? Meanwhile, Jane is busy waiting on her demanding, entitled sisters, running her cleaning business, and . . . yep, not a prince in sight. Until a party and a broken shoe incident leave Jane wondering if princes—or at least, a certain deliciously hunky billionaire—maybe do exist.

Except Brock Wellington isn’t anyone’s dream guy. Hell, a prince would never agree to be auctioned off in marriage to the highest bidder. Or act like an arrogant jerk—even if it was just a façade. Now, as Brock is waiting for the auction chopping block, he figures it’s karmic retribution that he’s tempted by a sexy, sassy woman he can’t have. But while they can’t have a fairy-tale ending, maybe they can indulge in a little bit of fantasy

Sometimes, I just want to write a review like, “This book. It was good. Good book.” But that’s not very helpful to you or me (well, it would save me some time…).

When I think back to reading this book, I think light, fluffy, funny, great read. Then the rest of the story comes floating back into my head like a train wreck. Not that the book itself was a train wreck, but there was some heavy emotional healing in here. I loved the development of the characters as a whole, but I think the Brock’s brothers stole the show for me. I looked forward to their scenes and their entertaining quips. They helped lighten the mood and gave readers a well needed break from the brooding mains. Also, he ending was pretty great, and it really got me excited for the next books.

Side note: I’m crazy excited for the sequel coming out in August: The Playboy Bachelor! The MC is Bentley and I loved his character in this book!

The being said, Jane and Brock fit well together. I really liked how their character grew into themselves. I loved the memories they had of their families especially – there were some cute memories/flashbacks.

Oh. My. Goodness. Jane’s sisters made me want to tear my hair out. I know they were supposed to drive me bananas, but how did they manage to become so freaking spoiled??? I just don’t get it.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book, but I can’t say it wowed me. It was well written and well executed, but I think I’m just a little tired of the Cinderella story.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.9/5

eARC obtained via Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley.

Review: Uprooted

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Title: Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
GoodReads

Synopsis:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

This whole entire novel was not about what I had expected it to be about. The synopsis is extremely vague and to be honest only reveals what’s in the first 2-3 chapters. This entire novel was like inhaling a trilogy of books, without the painful year long waiting between parts. There are so many sub-plots within the plot and history within these pages. It’s honestly one of my favourite fantasy novels of this year, and maybe ever.

It is honestly so hard to describe how amazing this book was without spoiling anything. Ahh!

The story set up is absolutely perfect. We start in Agnieszka’s village, move to the Dragon’s tower (note, he is not in fact a scaly creature), then into the Wood, then into the Capital city, back to the tower, back to the Wood. There’s so many changes in setting and characters that the book keeps you entertained throughout. While each setting is sectioned out, so are the character introductions – we meet the main character’s family and friends in her village, then history of the Dragon in his tower, then other characters depending on where the story takes us next. The fact that the setting and characters are presented in such digestible tidbits made the whole book more enjoyable as it was easier to follow where people were going and what was happening in the novel.

I read this novel as an ARC, and I’ve found the response interesting. A lot of people rage on and on about the “kidnapping” not really being a kidnapping, because the MC gets to live in a tower and get nice clothes, etc. However, something that they miss is that it is horrifying. Said tribute is taken away from her home, her friends, her family – torn from her community and culture. She is placed with a less than amiable wizard, and honestly, I don’t know how people see becoming refined as a gift and not a ten year long social redevelopment project. The response to this element of the novel has really made me think about it. Sure, the outcome isn’t bad, but there is a large negative aspect to it that nearly mimics real life in some ways… just food for thought for those who have yet to read it (this is all revealed in the first 20 pages, no spoilers, I promise!).

I think my favourite part of the novel was the antagonist. It wasn’t a specific person, per say, but a thing. A terrifying thing that consumes a person from the outside in – first their body, then their soul. The Wood was likely one of the more interesting antagonists as it’s so evil without any conscious thought. Honestly, the scenes set in it freaked me out haha. Further, the story behind it was extremely interesting and actually moving. This aspect of the novel was built well.

One thing I wish had been better is the Dragon’s personality. There’s so much there to pull at, and I feel like we missed a lot of history in his lack of emotional and overall character exposure. Also, the MC was a little dense at times, but otherwise quite a strong female lead for this novel!

Overall, this was an extremely intricate book, and it truly captured my heart. It’s quite long, and the beginning isn’t as interesting as it could be, but in the end I thought the entire experience was well worth the effort. A beautifully constructed novel that really gets you thinking about suffering, revenge, and friendship.

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
World Building: 4.5/5
Writing: 4.5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.2/5

eARC obtained via Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Breakaway

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Title: Breakaway
Author: Kat Spears
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synopsis:

When Jason Marshall’s younger sister passes away, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates—Mario, Jordie, and Chick—to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.

This book was a surprise. I’m one of those “judge a book by their cover” type people. I did not expect this book to be as intense or as heartbreaking as it was, based on this cover. Honestly, I kind of wish they would change it a little, simply because I can’t see any of the guys I know, or knew, reading this in public. They probably wouldn’t even pick it up to see what it’s about, let alone purchase it and read it, even though this is a book that needs to be read.

When I first cracked the covers, I didn’t like it. The language at the beginning tried a little too hard to be “gangster” or “slang” filled, and it didn’t work well for me. It gave me the impression that the book would be a mission to read. I didn’t give up though, since I’m stubborn like that, and kept going. As the book went on, you could really see the characters starting to open up and reveal themselves to you.

The main character, Jason, really grows up throughout the novel. He starts out hating everything – the people at school who are “mourning” over his sister, his mother’s withdrawal, this one girl who thinks hooking up is the same as mourning – and it drives his character throughout the first bit of the book. As he slowly gets over his loss, he turns his thoughts to other things – his friends, a girl who’s caught his eye, his mother’s health, his need to distract himself.

While there is romance in this book, there’s also pain and loss, friendship and family, obligation and want. Even though there wasn’t really a climax in this novel, or any revelation that changes the world and the school, and how I look at the world, it was a wonderful read. It was just life, the nitty gritty parts of reality that we often forget about, or wish that we could forget about. It shows us that it’s the little things that change who we are and how we see one another and ourselves. This book is slow to develop, but once it starts the experience is 100% worth it. Honestly, I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I read this novel, but I loved it, and I think that people should give it a shot.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.92/5

eARC obtained via St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows

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Title: The Witch of Painted Sorrows [The Daughters of La Lune #1]
Author: M.J. Rose
Genre: Historical Paranormal Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.

First thing’s first. I loved the cover for this book. It really caught my eye, and of course I was one to judge a book by its cover and requested it…

I didn’t love this book. It was a slow start that never really got going. When I thought something crazy was going to happen, something else would jump in from left field, take me for a spin and then drop me off back a description central. I love description – it helps build the setting, the characters, the mood and atmosphere of the novel – but this one wasn’t a captivating one. I didn’t want to wrap my world in this place and stay for a while. There was a lot of disconnect between myself and the characters and their world.

Sandrine and the other character switch personalities a lot. Sometimes they want to be really nice, sometimes they’re cruel, sometimes their irritating beyond reason, and yet none of these personalities reconcile with one another, and I couldn’t be with the characters, I could only just observe from a distance.

That being said, the world building was well done, overall, but even then, there was nothing that really stood out to be as historic? Aside from the sexism in the city of Paris (only boys allowed to do all the fun stuff), I didn’t really see anything that screamed 1890s. It was more of just a fancy Paris. Maybe it’s ’cause I’ve never been to Paris? I don’t know.

On the other hand, I loved the description of the art. That was something that captured me. Not necessarily PG, but the way she painted and the way the whole process was described, there was something hauntingly beautiful about it. That was also the only time I really cared about what was going through her head throughout the novel. That part of the world was the only part that really resounded with me because I could feel her passion and see the art that was around her.

I think my least favourite part of the book was the questioning-to-create-drama part. How did that happen? What’s happening? Who is this person? Did I do that? On and on it went. Every few chapters would end with some rhetorical questions that I already knew the answer to and it’s just like girl, if you don’t get what’s happening you need to WAKE UP. I get that she might be irrational because of the whole possession thing, but really, how oblivious do you have to be to not see what’s going on. And I hated that she kept switching back in forth – oh, I don’t want her in me – actually I do – actually I think I’m better with her – wait no, she’s bad -but she makes me better. It was like watching someone chase their tail – interesting at first, silly and tiring later on.

Overall, the concept was interesting, and while it wasn’t a very time-specific setting, I could imagine Sandrine’s world well. That being said, the characterization and descriptions held up the plot, and the lack of a huge climax was disappointing.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 3/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.54/5

eARC obtained via Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Virgin

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Title: Virgin
Author: Radhika Sanghani
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.

Yet.

This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

I can honestly say, I didn’t love this book. I never understood why some girls are obsessed with losing their virginity. Why did I read this then? I was told it would be entertaining and humourous. It wasn’t, really.

Let’s pause that for a moment and start with the main character. She does have a sharp tongue and I was relatively entertained, at the beginning, by her and her awkward escapades. The got old really fast. She screamed desperation and self-pity about a quarter way through the book, and that didn’t really stop until the last 10 pages. She was so determined to lose something, which really makes no difference when it comes to the real world, that she was willing to sacrifice her friends, her marks, and her own health for it. As a twenty year old virgin, I really didn’t see where this was even coming from. Yes, she wants to fit in with a certain circle of people, but it never occurs to her that there was nothing wrong with her, but maybe something wrong with the people she surrounded herself with. That being said, there is nothing wrong with hanging out with people who have sex, who are happy to show off their experience, but when it makes you feel bad about yourself, or lesser, then I think you need to start reevaluating the kind of friends you want, versus the ones you need.

She goes on and on about how everyone she knows has done the deed. Yay? I mean really, about 90% of my friends are still virgins, half of us have never even had our first kiss yet. Honestly? The fact that I didn’t love this book may also stem from the fact that I can’t really relate. People are going on and on about how yes girls talk about their sex lives, their waxing/shaving incidents, their blowjob nightmares. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with my friends because our lives just don’t revolve around that kind of thing. Was I entertained by her horror stories? No, I actually wasn’t. If anything, it makes me more fearful for when I encounter those situations. That so doesn’t help.

Something that I also didn’t understand was how she could be so naiive about things. Yes, I understand that she’s inexperienced, but she’s been at this since high school. You mean to tell me that she’s never encountered a book that talked about these kinds of things, or saw magazine articles that describe what the chicka is doing when she’s going down on someone? I can go to my local grocery store and point out at least 5 to 10 magazines that will tell you “How to Pleasure Your Man”. I mean she’s an English major for crying out loud, she should be able to find literature about this in so many places. I can understand knowing everything in theory and still screwing up, but I just can’t believe that someone so determined and interested in all this hasn’t utilized these resources that the pop-culture world has given us.

It also bothers me that the whole ending was cut off abruptly. This happens, that happens, there’s some vague acceptance and then she goes back on it by STILL worrying about people thinking she’s a virgin, and it’s just like you are not the centre of the freaking world. Honestly, no one cares. She treats her friends like trash, and SHE KNOWS SHE’S BEING JEALOUS AND ANNOYING. Trust me, I know how hard it is to cut that off, but really, maybe if you stopped being so self-deprecating and realize that if a guy wants your friends attention more than yours, you should probably move on to find someone who actually LIKES YOU, then you’d be a little happier with life.

The world will knock you down whether you want it to or not. Don’t just sit there and pity yourself in a corner crying about it ’cause no one can help you except you. Love yourself before you try to get other people to love you. If you are not happy in your skin then change it, get up and actively change your lifestyle to something that suits you, ’cause getting a guy honestly will not help you fully feel comfortable in your skin (if anything it can make you even more self-conscious and it sucks).

I thought that some of the little anecdotes were odd, quirky, and relatively entertaining, but at the end of the day, I just couldn’t relate to this book, and that has greatly affected my views of this novel. Overall, well written, relatively interesting, but also frustrating, as there was a vague revelation and a half-assed attempt at saying that this kind of behaviour can get you into some big problems. All in all, I was not impressed.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2.5/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 2.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.43/5

eARC provided by Penguin Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Here and Now

18242896Title: The Here and Now
Author: Ann Brashares
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Dystopian Sci-Fi
GoodReads

Synopsis:

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

From Ann Brashares, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now is thrilling, exhilarating, haunting, and heartbreaking—and a must-read novel of the year.

That genre is a mouthful, but that’s as close as I can possibly get for this book.

Contemporary: It happens NOW. Well, technically two weeks from now, but close enough. It’s current. Cell phones are used, the world hasn’t ended, it’s all good.

Dystopian: Prenna is came from the future, or at least one strand of it. The world was near its end before she left, everyone affected by a plague of unknown original that was carried in mosquitoes (very much like West Nile, but worse).

Sci-Fi: Prenna and a select group of people have traveled back in time to fix the future and prevent the plague.

This was an extremely interesting story. The plot was full of surprises, but also presented some interesting ideas. In this novel, we get a glimpse of the future, or well, multiple versions of the future. The only thing is, they’re not as futuristic as we assume they’ll be – no flying cars, no crazy techno computers (though there was a mention of a supposed Apple invention, which I could definitely see Apple, or even Google, inventing in the future). It was doom and gloom up ahead, one an economic issue, another a eco issue, also relating to the evolution and adaptation of people and animals to a new, less green, planet. I loved this concept because it’s something that is real and relevant to us today. As one person, we don’t see the decline in the world – where the ice caps are melting, the weather is becoming more random and unpredictable, as well as violent. We close our eyes to this. My hope is that this book helps open those eyes and maybe cause a shift in our society.

The overall set up of the time immigrants vs the time natives was also interesting. All the rules and restrictions, as well as the stories of those who didn’t survive the trip or didn’t survive the rules really helped set the ball rolling, giving readers something to compare to when judging the magnitude of Prenna’s decisions later on in the story.

In addition to my love of the plot, I really enjoyed reading about these characters. Prenna was a worrier, but it wasn’t annoying. It was more of exercised caution than mental takeover. It was nice reading the book from her point of view. She found beauty in the things that no one ever notices anymore; one could say that she actually stopped to smell the flowers. She was amazed at how bright our world was, and couldn’t comprehend our wish to stay inside and play with our games and gadgets. However, for a supposed genius, her actions are very impulsive, and lack calculation. Also, she has little care or worry for the repercussions of her actions on the people around her.

Ethan, on the other hand, was helpful, supportive, and just a tad bit boring. He was basically everything that was needed to move things along – a tracker, a hacker, a future-world famous physicist – you’ve got them all with Ethan. Have to say though, he was nice enough, but his character lacked depth, and I know next to nothing about him, even though I finished the book already.

One thing that bothered me more than anything was that they are playing with time. If you play with time, the things from the future should change, no? Like newspapers, and people? Wouldn’t all that go wonky or snap out of existence? Maybe it’s just me, but the fact that there’s a bunch of futures is cool, but wouldn’t one shift change a bunch of other things? Maybe I’m being picky, but time travel books and all is a finicky subject.

Also, they had a tight deadline – what, two or three days – to save the world from one version of the future. However, they loiter and linger on the beach for a day, learning card games and drinking illegally. It was so out of place in this book that it just didn’t work for me. Again, this brings around the whole relationships in YA novels and how there’s just too much emphasis on them. The story could’ve worked without all that, seeing as there wasn’t really THAT much to begin with. I don’t know, Ethan’s whole role in all of this was just a little unrealistic.

All in all, I’d say that this book is a must read, if not for the overall story, then at least for the ideas presented. It is a real eye opener to all the problems our world is facing, whether politically, economically, socially, or environmentally. It’s amazing how well Brashares captures our world in less than 200 pages, giving us a snapshot of our lives and showing us where we all are, and where we should be. Oddly, instead of reading this book to escape, I’d say read this book to see what you’re missing, to realize that there’s more to life than electronics and odd gadgets. However, the story did have its holes, which is hard enough to cover in a long time traveling series, let alone in this one, fairly short novel.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.37/5

eARC obtained via Random House Children’s via NetGalley

Review: Black City

Title: Black City
Author: Elizabeth Richards

Synopsis:

A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

First off, thank you for the ARC Razorbill~

Secondly, I’d just like to mention the cover of this book ’cause it’s absolutely beautiful and every time I see it I stare at it in wonder for a good five minutes.

On to the actual contents of the book (’cause I’m sure you’d like to know something about it).

Black City lives up to its name. The buildings are charred, the school left in partial ruins, and everything seems just a little bit darker in this place. Not only that, but the city’s split by a looming wall. There’s the charred and burnt side of the city for humans (sounds great, no?), and then there’s the polluted, diseased ghetto, for the Darklings (The humans don’t have it so bad now, eh?). Within the ghetto, the Wrath, a disease among the Darkling race, is spreading, slowly contaminating every Darkling trapped behind the wall.

Epically creepy dystopian city? Check.

Enter Natalie Buchanan. She’s one of the Emissary’s daughters. She’s spoiled, and rude at the beginning of the book, seemingly looking down upon the ‘work boots’ (those who do not work within the government, but do other tasks around the city) and rebelling against going to school with them. However, as irritating as her character was at the beginning, I really grew to love her as the book went on. She went from spoiled brat to a kick ass heroine. Although she does turn to Ash throughout the book, she’s confident enough to tackle her own problems, no matter how insane they are. By the end of the book, I had some mad respect for her.

Now there’s Ash Fisher. He’s a twin-blood Darkling, the only vague species of Darkling still allowed on the city side of the wall (i.e. he’s half human, half Darkling). Ash is a Haze dealer, a drug that can be extracted or released from Darklings only. As much as he hates it, it’s one of the only thing he can do to survive. He comes off as a total bad-ass, but he’s a pretty good guy, and I loved his character from the start.

There are three things that I want to point out specifically:

1. The insta-love. Yes, yes, the stupid instant love moment where the character look at each other and their worlds blow up. Well, it’s something like that, but the author provided a very good reason as to why there is insta-love in the books, so don’t rage quit in the first few infuriating moments of electric shock.

2. There is some history to the book. Although some other people reviewing the book said the novel was missing the history lesson, they didn’t totally. Richards provided a fair amount of information and I feel that as the series moves forward, more about the original war will be revealed.

3. Richards takes the Twilight Vamps and makes them into something new, interesting. Darklings aren’t exactly vampires. They won’t set fire in the sun (or sparkle), they can’t change you into a Darkling (you’re either born as one, or half of one…), and they’re not all mighty. They have strength and agility, but they’re different from vampires in a number of ways. They also can contract disease (i.e. the Wrath), reproduce, and there’s even different types of Darklings. So for the ignorant who keep calling it a vampire novel, it isn’t. Yes, they’re alike to vampires in the sense that they do drink blood, but honestly, that’s about where the similarities end.

This book does show racial tension (humans v.s. Darklings (they’re people too!)), there are scenes of drug use (and abuse), torture, deaths (crucifixion), etc. Although these scenes are necessary to move the story forward, I’m just throwing that out there for people who can’t stomach it.

I really enjoyed this book, in all honesty. I know I say that a lot (I mean, it’s not my fault so many awesome books exist), but this one took some real life insanity and applied it to the story: government schemes, concentration camps, protests (both peaceful and violent), racial tension (albeit we don’t have Darklings versus humans in our world, but even in today’s society, racism is still a very real concept that continues to effect our daily lives), religious bias, and poverty. I really enjoyed the ideas presented in this books and hope that the rest of the series is just as great ~

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Cover: 5/5
Overall: 5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.79/5

Review: The Edge of Nowhere

Title: The Edge of Nowhere (Saratoga Woods #1)
Author: Elizabeth George

Synopsis:

Whidbey Island may be only a ferry ride from Seattle, but it’s a world apart. When Becca King arrives there, she doesn’t suspect the island will become her home for the next four years. Put at risk by her ability to hear “whispers”–the thoughts of others–Becca is on the run from her stepfather, whose criminal activities she has discovered. Stranded and alone, Becca is soon befriended by Derric, a Ugandon orphan adopted by a local family; Seth, a kindhearted musician and high school dropout; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who takes her in; and Diana, with whom Becca shares a mysterious psychic connection.

This compelling coming-of-age story, the first of an ongoing sequence of books set on Whidbey Island, has elements of mystery, the paranormal, and romance. Elizabeth George, bestselling author of the Inspector Lynley crime novels, brings her elegant style, intricate plotting, incisive characterization, and top-notch storytelling to her first book for teens.

Okay, it’s list time. [Please note, this is an honest review, don’t hate me world.]

This book was a book of firsts:
It was my first ARC (thank you Razorbill Canada)
It was my first book by Elizabeth George
And it was my first mystery novel in a while (in all honesty, the last mystery book I read that I can actually recall would probably be Nancy Drew and the mystery of something or another)

Things I disliked about the book… (this list is pretty hefty)

1. The ‘Whispers’. ‘Kay, it’s not like some chick’s hearing voices in her head, it’s like Edward Cullen meets a bad radio reception. I found that this did absolutely nothing for the plot. She couldn’t get anything useful, instead it was just irritating, likely to both Becca and to readers. Reading “Sponsor… wrong… what sort of fourth” (pg. 396) a number of times is just makes me sit here and think “ARE THERE REASONS TO THESE WORDS!?”. It was as if Ms. Elizabeth George thought ‘teenagers!’ therefore ‘THE STORY MUST BE PARANORMAL IN SOME WAY SHAPE OR FORM’ -sticks in whispers- I guess the initial issue that brought Becca to the island was due to this paranormal trait, but it could’ve been brought on by something normal just as easily, but it wasn’t. It was brought on by these irritating half thoughts that just seemed like words typed out to fill the page.

2. The dialogue. My goodness. I see the reviews for all her other books and I’m here just like I DON’T SEE WHAT’S SO GREAT… ?! Like she makes Seth’s grandfather say “… favourite male grandson.” (pg. 391) [All my quotes are coming from the end ’cause I didn’t think to bring sticky notes with me everywhere I read this book]. That bugged me and it was all to set up for a joke or a point that vaguely made me smile. It just wasn’t worth it. Maybe this is how her family speaks? I’m not one to judge, but it made the sentences all the more awkward and ill fitting.

3. The characters. None of the characters had depth to them. They were simply shallow, cliché type teenagers that you’d see in those overacted soaps or dramas on tv. There was the pain-in-the-ass bitch who kept saying ‘gutter/foul words’ that are too harsh for the eyes of a typical YA reader, the popular nice guy, the misunderstood sidekick, the dumbass girl who just DOESN’T GET IT, and the MC who, honestly I wanted to kick.

George WANTED to put some depth into the characters by adding in like hard background stories, where there were kids from Uganda, or the girl who lived in the nowhere part of town who didn’t have the greatest family, or the girl who’s father was slowly deteriorating but no one wanted to face the facts. Like I get that, but she just skimmed over it, as if just putting it there was enough. Half of the ‘rough-and-tough/this is life, you’d better face it/some people just have a shit hand dealt to them’ stuff wasn’t detail and I just didn’t catch on right away. I don’t know if I’m slow, or it just wasn’t written well (this is the ARC version? So maybe), but it just didn’t work for me.

4. The writing. Okay part of the above paragraph is part of the writing, but there were three thing that really irritated me.

-Her description of Derric. “The boy was black, deeply black, and the pure midnight of his skin made the policeman with him look white beyond white.” (pg. 24). Just that description alone is just wrong. Honestly, you can’t swear in the book but you can just spew on and on about how dark this kid’s skin is? When I write, I worry about putting stuff about Chinese superstitions in the book just ’cause I’m afraid I’ll offend someone AND I’M CHINESE. This description thoroughly irritated me. I wasn’t offended per se, but I just didn’t think it was the most apt way of describing someone.

-Her constant obsession with Becca’s weight. This isn’t weight watchers or Jenny Craig. Teenagers these days are so obsessed with their weight, they don’t need a book like this to tell them over and over again that being overweight is bad ’cause it isn’t. George pointed out at the beginning that Becca wasn’t the thinnest girl on the planet. She noted this through Becca’s mother saying things like “in through the lips and onto the hips” (pg 13). And then having guys in the book describe Beccas as “chubbette” with “thunder thighs” (pg 373). It’s horrible to hear and it’s horrible to read. By the end, when Becca loses weight, everyone looks at her differently. Sending this kind of message is wrong on so many levels. Maybe she thought putting something like that in would add some connection with the audience, but Becca only feels insecure and just lets people bully her without really standing up for herself or anything. Between this and Derric’s description, George did not win any points with me.

-Her use of italics. They’re everywhere. You don’t have a page without them (I’m exaggerating, but really). In one conversation between Becca and Seth she used them for every other sentence (now I’m not kidding). Like “Seth…” -two lines later-come on…” then, “the sandels again” and “that’s it?” leading to, “I didn’t even know why anyone cared about them.” Is all of this really necessary. If anyone really spoke like this, they’d have some really irritating conversations.

5. The length of the book. It was dragged out. People say Eona/Eon by Alison Goodman was dragged out, but this is really pulled and stretched to an infinite limit. Likely, by the end of this trilogy (at least everyone believes it’s a trilogy), everyone would probably deduce that the entire book could’ve fit into one book alone. This is filled with useless walking around and teenage idiocy that isn’t even that realistic (that was another issue, it just wasn’t realistic – people’s reactions to things, and their actions, it just didn’t work right). It’s interesting the first 50 pages, where the main plot is set up, then this mini plot is set up, dragged on for 200 pages, and then the next 100 is a vague resolution that isn’t that satisfying to be honest, and it just drove me INSANE. At this point, I’ve had to make a million assumptions, which isn’t too good seeing as this is a 400 some-odd page book. One shouldn’t have to resort to assumptions.

Now, what I liked:
1. As odd as it is, I only liked three characters:
-Seth ’cause he actually had a lot of description to his character, you could actually feel something from him, and he was a well written good character.
-Seth’s grandfather, Ralph, just ’cause he made sense even thought he was like the voice of reason and didn’t actually make sense half the time, but the fact that he was supposed to be like the overseer of everything in the book added to his character which I kind of found helpful, oddly.
-Seth’s dog, just ’cause there wasn’t really anyone else to love.

2. Something about the writing. It kept me reading and hooked. Maybe ’cause I really wanted to know who did it, but I kept soldiering on through the book. Or maybe I just did that ’cause it was an ARC sent to me specifically and I felt some kind of obligation to finish it…

3. The end. And yet I hated it too. Something finally happens with the main plot… and then the book ends. It was as if George didn’t think we could handle any real action or anything really heavy.

So no, this was not a success in my eyes. This was George’s first YA novel, and it shows. She obviously doesn’t know her audience if she thinks that these characters and their flimsy stories would satisfy us. I’ve read other reviews, I’m not the only one disappointed by this novel. I expected something like Kelley Armstrong’s “Darkness Rising” series, where there’s just this special island with a tonne of different supernatural people on it. All I got was a vivid description of trees, hills, roads, and valleys, and a plot that seemed to have been rushed together with characters who just weren’t well thought out or well executed.

Will I read the next book? Honestly, I probably will. When I read a book like this, where I find so much wrong with it (-coughImmortalSeriescough-) I feel a need to read the rest in hopes of finding something redeemable in all this. Also, I kind of want to find out what happens with the main story line and I also want Becca and Seth to end up together ’cause that would make sense, and this books needs a little ‘sense’.  Maybe George will read this review and rethink a few things before she releases the next novel, though she probably won’t. Pipe dreams I tell you, but there’s always hope. (And I hope for a great sequel…)

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Writing: 2/5
Cover: 4/5
Overall: 2.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.24/5

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