Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

The Morganville Vampires series is one I care a great deal about. I loved the ninth book Ghost Town, but then the tenth book Bite Club was a huge step down in quality. I'm not sure I've mentioned this before, but my policy with series is that I quit if there are two bad books in a row. Bite Club counts as one and if Last Breath is bad too, I'm done. The only exception is if Black Dawn is the true final book, in which case I will read it. If there's only one or two books left, I may as well keep reading. It's the same reason I'm still reading Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series (besides the goddess that is Mimi Force from The Van Alen Legacy on): there are only two books left, so why not? (Also, love the contrast and bright colors of Last Breath's cover.)

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires,#11)Last Breath
by Rachel Caine
November 1, 2011

The brand-new novel in the “intriguing world” (Darque Reviews) of Rachel Caine's New York Times bestselling Morganville Vampire series!


With her boss preoccupied researching the Founder Houses in Morganville, student Claire Danvers is left to her own devices when she learns that three vampires have vanished without a trace. She soon discovers that the last person seen with one of the missing vampires is someone new to town—a mysterious individual named Magnus. After an uneasy encounter with Morganville's latest resident, Claire is certain Magnus isn't merely human. But is he a vampire—or something else entirely?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reminder Post: Hades and Fury (and Some Other News)

Occasionally, I receive ARCs of a book, be they print of digital, and get so excited about posting the review that I accidentally early. Like, a few months early. To remedy that, I have quick reminder posts like these that I put up close to the day of the book's or books' release. This time, the books are:

Fury by Elizabeth Miles, which I have 1 star;

and Hades by Alexandra Adornetto, which I gave 0 stars.

If either book interests you, check out my review or some others of the book on Amazon or Goodreads or another such site.

And now for some stuff that is actually important. One of my favorite series, the Theatre Illuminata trilogy by Lisa Mantchev, will be ending when the final book So Silver Bright comes out September 13 and because I could, I embarked on the Theatre Illuminata Reading Marathon Extravaganza! Starting Friday, reviews for each book in the series will be going up every other day. The schedule for it goes like this:

September 2: Eyes Like Stars (book 1)
September 4: Perchance to Dream (book 2)
September 6: So Silver Bright (book 3)

I have a surprise planned that will be posted on the same day as the So Silver Bright review, so make sure to check back that day and see what's in store. I promise it's good and you know you want to see it...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Title: Imaginary Girls
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Penguin/Dutton Books
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Pages: 346 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it (and got pressured by a friend to read it now when it was originally much lower on the to-read list)

Chloe's sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away--away from home, away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept.

Review:

After the strange death of London Hayes, Chloe left her beloved older sister Ruby and went to live with her father in Pennsylvania, but these two sisters can't be kept apart forever. How could anyone dare to keep such close sisters apart? Two years after she left, sixteen-year-old Chloe returns to Ruby and the town she knew as home for so many years, but the reservoir, Ruby's influence over people, and so much more clue Chloe in on the fact that something is wrong. The secrets of what happened two years ago are hiding just beneath the surface, but these may not be the kind of secrets Chloe can safely dive for and find.

There nearly wasn't a review for this book. Upon finishing it, I couldn't find the words to describe it to others in a way that would be accurate or make them seek out Imaginary Girls like I want them to. After some thought, I decided to make myself review it because this is the kind of book to be talking about, the kind I have a duty as a reviewer to spread word of so more people will read it. If I want to say, "Don't read Halo or Hush, Hush or Born at Midnight, they're terrible books," I've got to have something to tell someone when they inevitably ask, "Then what should I read?" This is one of those books.

Chloe, like many complex characters, is difficult to put into words when explaining her. Often unreliable as a narrator, almost everything is about Ruby with her from beginning to end. I didn't always like her and she often made me feel uncomfortable, but she is interesting and I can't deny her merits as a character. The codependent, obsessive, yet oddly compelling relationship the two siblings have is the strongest point of the novel. For anyone familiar with manipulative people or behavior like I am, it's clear from the beginning what kind of person Ruby is. If one is unfamiliar, they'll come to see just how manipulative she can be as the novel goes on, using everyone from ex-boyfriends to her own little sister like they're puppets.

The novel isn't necessarily plot-driven or character-driven--at least, I didn't think it was. What I felt really drove the novel was Chloe's smooth narrative voice, which kept me reading just so I could see what else she had to say. While a reader's desire to learn more about what's going on and figure the surreal world within the town will keep them reading too if the prose isn't enough for them. As one friend of mine who was reading it at the same time put it, the narration reads like a monologue, and it's so twisted yet so beautiful yet so unreliable and... And... Oh, screw it, let's get an excerpt in here to show you what I mean.
"When something big happens, you don't immediately point the finger at one person. A bridge collapses, and maybe that's what people call an act of God, not of the little girl in the backseat of a passing car wishing something would happen to keep her from having to stay the weekend with her creepy uncle. A plane loses its propellers and crash-lands on water, and no one blames the guy sitting in 13B who can't get a date and wants to die over it and doesn't care if he takes the whole damn plane with him.

"No human being could take credit for changing fate.

"Except for Ruby. (Imaginary Girls, p. 175)"
Imaginary Girls is not a light, fluffy read. It's intense and creepy and something that won't easily get out of your head once you've finished reading and definitely not your average YA book. Depending on what you had for breakfast this morning, whether you think the glass is half-full or half-empty, what color underwear you're wearing, your general mood, and other small factors that probably have nothing to do with anything after all, you might choose to call this book contemporary, magical realism, fantasy, contemporary with a magical twist, paranormal, supernatural, and so much more. It's not an easy book to slap a label on, that's for sure.

I do love it, but this definitely isn't going to be a book for all readers. If you don't like reading books that will creep you out, step away. (This might mean you, Kayla. Yes, you. Also, I hope you feel better soon. Getting wisdom teeth out sucks, huh?) Have trouble reading about characters you don't like but recognize as interesting or well-developed? Once again, step away. Willing to try any kind of book once no matter how gory, weird, or surreal it is? Step right up.

Nova Ren Suma has successfully won me over as a fan. She has a middle-grade novel called Dani Noir that was published before Imaginary Girls and she's currently working on another YA novel. As soon as I possibly can (which may be a while, considering all the books I already own that are begging to be read), I'm going to read Dani Noir and my eye is on any and all news concerning Suma's next book. What kind of reader would I be to ignore the kind of talent she has?  This beautiful novel is a must-read for anyone who isn't afraid of something that will be intense and oftentimes creep them out or confuse them.

5 stars!


What am I reading next?: So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

I've been anticipating this book for a while and my local bookstore had copies stocked on shelves two weeks early last Saturday. I nearly picked one up, but didn't because I opened it to a random page and saw two girls calling each other names for having sex. I was a little discouraged because of the kind of person I am. I know the novel is supposed to be tackling the issue of sex and that sort of stuff would logically happen at first (the excerpt was from the beginning of the book), but then I saw it got a five out of ten from my beloved Book Smugglers. My opinion matches up with theirs on books seven out of ten times and I'm not sure Shut Out will be one of the lucky three. I already had one of those this month. Decisions, decisions...

Shut OutShut Out
by Kody Keplinger
September 6, 2011
273 pages (hardcover)

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson

Title: Ultraviolet
Author: R.J. Anderson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group/Carolrhoda Lab
Release Date: September 2011
Pages: 304 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Review copy from NetGalley

"Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she's confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori's body has not been found, and Alison can't explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated--into nothing.

But that's impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind--like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood--until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison's case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her--and that she's capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

Review:

When Alison wakes up in St. Luke's, she can hardly remember anything from the past two weeks or how she got in the hospital in the first place. Over the next few days, it all comes back to her: the fight with school golden girl Tori Beaugrand and how Tori disintegrated into nothing. Confined to Pine Hills and forced to take medication she doesn't need to (or does she? Her mother always feared this would happen and her perceptions of seeing sounds and tasting words aren't exactly normal), Ali just wants to go home and have everything be normal again. Sessions with Dr. Faraday, a neuropsychologist, enlighten her on her condition, properly known as synthesia, and show her that there's far more to the world than what she knows.

Before I begin, let me just say this is one book that I think desperately needs an audiobook. Reading it was an emotional enough for experience for me, but self-spoken readings of Ali's perceptions and one specific segment at the book's closing reduced me to tears. The written version is amazing in and of itself, but a proper audiobook with a good narrator behind it would make the experience out of this world.

Alison's character and situation is very sympathetic. Long fascinated with the disorder thanks to an article I read as a child, I recognized her synthesia immediately. How horrible for her to be led to believe it was a bad thing! Her descriptions of the world around her viewed through the lens of her synthesia were usually lovely, though the descriptions had a few flubs or were just strange even considering her disorder. The events surrounding what happened between her and Tori and what actually happened unfolded slowly--not so slow that I became frustrated, but enough that it made Ultraviolet a quick read.

While I loved how Alison handled what happened with Kirk, I wish she or some other character could have taken a moment out of their day to call Kirk out on his casual gay jokes. The way he used it made it seem as though being gay would be a bad thing wasn't that funny and I'm sick of word "gay" being used as an insult to something. I get enough of that from my brother (and I don't want to get into how many kinds of -ist he is) and I'd like to avoid seeing it in my books without objections to the word being used that way.

YA authors who have difficulty characterizing their minor characters with anything other than "mean girl," "best friend," "mean mom," and other such short labels (I could name them, but that would be rude; I don't think they deserve that respect for multiple reasons, but I'll give it to them because I'm supposed to Be Nice(tm) or some crap like that)  ought to be given a copy of this book and forced to study it until their own works show some improvement. Side characters such as Tori, Micheline, and Alison's mom are all deeper than they first appear. Just because a character seems to be filling a "mean girl" role or another role doesn't mean they're actually what they're first cast as or that they don't have depth.

If you're expecting this to be only a YA contemporary novel about a girl put in a mental institution, be warned that it's a genre-bender. A little over halfway through, it's suddenly revealed that BAM!--new genre. I had a small case of "seriously?" when I summed up one major subplot in my head, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. It was actually very good (my concerns about their relationship dynamic because of how they came to know each other aside). I just have that reaction when I think about certain things in plain terms. I reacted the same way when I heard about Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, which is about killer unicorns, and then it turned out to be an awesome book. Basically, it seems silly or ridiculous, but it's much better than it sounds.

Am I actually going to tell you what inspired that reaction? Nope! I'd like to keep this review spoiler-free, thank you (or as spoiler-free as I can get).

If you pick this book up for yourself and read it all the way to the end, do what I did and read the last section of the last chapter to yourself, the one in italics. See if that doesn't make your eyes tear up even a little. Or maybe I'm just being an emotional weirdy because my hormones are all crazy. Whatever. Ultraviolet was a welcome chance of pace and I want to learn a little more about Faraday's world since there was no time to learn anything about it. I hope the author decides she wants to write a companion novel expanding on that.

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

Title: The Eternal Ones
Author: Kirsten Miller
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Pages: 411 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it

Haven Moore has always lived in the tiny town of Snope City, Tennessee. But for as long as she can remember, Haven has experienced visions of a past life as a girl named Constance, whose love for a boy called Ethan ended in a fiery tragedy.

One day, the sight of notorious playboy Iain Morrow on television brings Haven to her knees. Haven flees to New York City to find Iain and there, she is swept up in an epic love affair that feels both deeply fated and terribly dangerous. Is Iain her beloved Ethan? Or is he her murderer in a past life? Haven asks the members of the powerful and mysterious Ouroboros Society to help her unlock the mysteries of reincarnation and discover the secrets hidden in her past lives, and loves, before all is lost and the cycle begins again. But what is the Ouroboros Society? And how can Haven know who to trust?

Review:

So... The Eternal Ones. My feelings about it are complicated and I'm probably the last person you should be listening to about it. Too bad I'm going to babble about it anyways. The first part of this review is going to be all about me, me, me because the circumstances have a lot to do with my opinion of the book.

It was August 14, 2010, a Saturday. All four of my wisdom teeth had been removed a few days before and between rounds of eating vanilla pudding and downing disgusting pain medicine, I read. My schedule for the day was to go get my hair dyed (which took 2-3 hours) and visit Dad while he and his co-workers loaded furniture into their new office building (due to theft and construction workers who worked slower than dead slugs move, construction was completed a year behind schedule), then go home to down more disgusting pain medicine before the pain made me want to scream obscenities. The book I took to entertain me while my hair went auburn and we watched everyone load furniture into the new office? The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller.

The writing style was unclear and often confusing, but I excused this because Haven was so confused about her memories coming back to her and everything; I assumed the writing was purposely being made to mirror her confusion. Your mileage may vary. As little pieces of Haven's past were revealed to me and a mystery came together, I couldn't. Stop. Reading it. I started the book while getting my hair dyed and finished it later that night. I even suffered carsickness so I could read the book while The Lovely Mother drove!

While the book kept me interested, I was not blind to its flaws and still see them clearly. The characters are flat like the notebook paper I drafted this review on. Haven spent so much time in the revolving door of "I love Iain! He's good! I trust him!" "No, I don't trust Iain! He killed me once and wants to kill me again!" that it made me nauseous (or maybe that was because of the carsickness due to reading in a moving vehicle) and it surprised me she wasn't feeling sick too from all the back-and-forth. Iain? It suffices to say I wanted to put his penis and testicles through a wood chipper, right?

Haven and Iain's relationship was the worst point of the book without a doubt. Being in love in past lives does not mean you're in love in the present life. Personalities change and one doesn't know who the other is or what they're like in this life; what made them connect before might not be here this time. Their love was too instant by any standards and Iain didn't seem to care about Haven or trust her the way he should have if he really loved her. If he really trusted her, he would have told her everything. She could then have time to think it over and decide whether or not to trust him. There is no communication between them and this does not bode well.

Honestly, I think Haven pairs better with Beau than Iain or Adam. Sure, Beau is the token gay friend and will never be romantically or sexually attracted to Haven, but he seems to respect her, care about her, treat her well, and their interactions were some of the more decent parts of the book. You know what would have been a great twist to have in the book? If she had spent some of the lifetimes she didn't spend with Iain were spent married to or in love with Beau. He just happened to be gay in their newest lifetime and were friends instead of lovers.

So why am I giving this book four stars when it objectively deserves one or two? Nostalgia, my ducklings, nostalgia! (I'm not quite sure why I'm calling you readers ducklings. I think it has to do with the army of baby ducklings at the local pond. They're so adorable and fuzzy and I wish I could get a picture.) I know it will properly go down if I try to reread it. A lot of books aren't as good when reread and The Eternal Ones falls in there because knowing all the twists makes a book's flaws more obvious to me.

But here's the real fool in this situation: me. I bought the sequel All You Desire and I'll be reading it shortly. If I don't enjoy it, some unlucky reader gets my copies of The Eternal Ones and All You Desire. Want two pieces of free snarkbait? Start praying I hate the sequel (which I will probably do anyways, but I demand you waste your time if I have to waste mine).

4 stars!


What am I reading next?: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren spotlighting books I've bought in the past week or received for review.

I've meant to do one of these for ages, but I never got around to it. Then I took a trip to the bookstore with two friends, bought some pretties (my nickname for books), and finally said, "To hell with it, let's do it. And put against the backdrop of my beloved Hello Kitty blanket that people will one day have to pry out of my cold, dead, possibly rotting hands, here are my pretties:


Bought:

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
All You Desire by Kirsten Miller (this is going to be a doozy...)
Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda

Received for review by Feiwel and Friends:

So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev (I spazzed like no one's business when this book arrived for me.)

And for anyone wondering what I might have piled up on my owned-and-to-read shelf, here's a picture of that too:


Whoever thinks I have the attention span to list all of those books is very, very wrong. Altogether, when counting these and the galley of Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard I'm working on right now, I have twenty-five books waiting to be read just because I own them, all collected since December 2010. And yet I plan to buy another book this Tuesday for my Kindle. Do I have a problem? Maaaaaaaaaaaaybe.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

I love this series. I do, I do, I do. Bertie is a fun, if sometimes frustrating, character and her world is one I can happily get lost in. It makes me sad to see the series come to an end, but this means I get to do a reread of Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream in preparation for So Silver Bright (which I was incredibly lucky to receive an ARC copy of a few weeks ago--thank you, Ksenia)! I'm partway through Eyes Like Stars now and you can expect reviews of all three closer to the release date of So Silver Bright. Since it's not out yet, I'll cheat and feature it.

(Also, I am eternally in love with the covers for the series. Jason Chan did a fantastic job with all of them!)

So Silver Bright
by Lisa Mantchev
September 13, 2011
320 pages (hardcover)

All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she’s close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now Bertie must deal with a  vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family – and the Theatre Illuminata – from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate.

Monday, August 15, 2011

H.Y.P.E. Project: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Pages: 391 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Bought and read it for the H.Y.P.E. Project (details here)

When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy.

But before long, Nora's defenses begin to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she's thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back?

As their connection grows stronger, Nora's own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm of the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?

Becca Fitzpatrick's New York Times bestselling debut is a page-turning leap into the unknown world of fallen angels. Do you have someone to catch you?

Review:

Something is off about Patch Cipriano and his unfortunate new biology partner Nora Grey is determined to find out what's it is. She can tell there's something more going on behind that pretty face and those demeaning remarks of his. In her investigation, she comes to find herself attracted to him and she could quite possibly be falling in love with him, but could what she's finding be true? Could Patch really be a fallen angel out to kill her (and maybe Vee too, but who cares about her?)? If it is, it doesn't look like he's the only one who wants to see Nora dead. Strange things are happening and only some of them are in her head.

Characters

Characterization is thin and calling them two-dimensional is an insult to the term. Nora seems to lack any brains and my I've no doubt she is mentally unstable; if she thinks faking a bomb threat to get Patch's file is okay because she's his biology partner, something is wrong. The only person I can stand is Marcie Millar, the classic mean girl (who apparently becomes a love rival in the second book or something; I've got no plans to read it, so I don't know all the details), but she is busy being slut-shamed and made the butt of a thousand jokes. Being mean makes her a bad person, not being flirtatious or sexual. Got that, book? Okay.

Two characters in the cast stand out for the wrong reasons. Vee may be the worst best friend I've ever had the displeasure to know in both fiction and real life, and I've had a terrible best friend of my own (but that's another story). She makes excuses for a guy who threatened her "best friend" Nora, abandons Nora, and pressures Nora to be with a guy she does not like, among other things. She is the second-worst character in this book.

The worst? Patch Cipriano. His behavior is disgusting, borderline abusive, and the sort of behavior parents tell their children to watch out for because it could turn into a toxic or abusive relationship. When the heroine is genuinely afraid of her love interest and thinks he might rape her (and there were plenty of moments where it seemed like he would do just that) as in Hush, Hush, the love interest is on my blacklist. There's being a bad boy or anti-hero (which requires redeeming traits) and then there's being a borderline rapist, which Patch is. He's the polar opposite of sexy.

Pacing/Plot

The pacing and plot are disjointed. This is about how the novel goes: Nora and Patch are falling in love (personally, I think they're falling in lust, which would be fine if it weren't being passed off as love when the two are very different), a creepy event or two happens once in a while, Nora and Patch fall in love some more, more creepy things, rotate between the two and add in liberal amounts of  disgusting behavior by Patch added where needed, big reveal, sudden reveal of villains, an almost-sex break, climactic scene, and end on a sappy note. That is Hush, Hush in a nutshell, only it's far less interesting.

Themes/Conflicts

Hush, Hush competes with only one other novel for the award of Worst Themes. According to this book, it is okay for a boy to humiliate, threaten, dismiss, and treat a girl badly because that just makes him a sexy bad boy. This is probably only okay when the guy is as insanely hot as Patch is supposed to be (I don't find him hot; I find that when a guy has a personality as pleasant as the smell of dog crap, it becomes impossible to appreciate how hot they are) because if it were a plain or ugly guy doing it, it would be Not Okay. Nora never has any true conflict to deal with and the book's conflict isn't genuine.

What I hate most about this book is how its themes help glorify creepy, pseudo-rapist behavior through Nora's initial weak rejection and ultimate unconditional acceptance of the way Patch treats her (which does not change throughout the entire novel). His behavior is horrifying and the people who instead call it flattering are often the people who say I should be flattered at all the awful, creepy things guys have said and done to me over the years when I didn't want them behaving like that towards me and made it clear.

There are simply so many offensive ideas and phrases within the book, such as the heavy reinforcing of rape culture, but I don't have the space or time to cover them all.

Writing

Painful. Description is often bad or repetitive and there appears to be no such thing as subtlety because hints are like a bag of bricks to the head each time they pop up. Then it gets lazy for the sake of plot convenience when the symptoms of a concussion, such as difficulty or unwillingness to talk due to the injury, are waved off so Vee can testify to Nora about her attacker and when Vee gets out of the hospital far quicker than someone in her condition would, or when Elliot is identified in a news story as someone questioned in the death of another student. I don't need to be a three-year journalism student to know no news service would identify a minor if they had only been questioned. Charged or convicted? Often, yes. Questioned? No.

There is also one offensive issue regarding word choice that I would like to bring up. Vee, an overweight character, is described as "voluptuous" multiple times. Right now, the United States (where the book is set and where I, the author, and countless fans live) is experiencing a problem with obesity and there are multiple campaigns against it. What comes to mind when you think of "voluptuous" women? Personally, I think of women with large breasts, usually thin waists, and sometimes large butts. At one time, it was used to describe more than women with that figure, but that is what it's used to describe most often now.

Vee is clearly not this body type from her description and the book creeps around describing her as overweight or fat. The creeping around is bad enough because of how much it reveals about what Nora really thinks of Vee, but the I don't appreciate that women with that sort of figure (hourglass figure, right?) are indirectly being called fat. Nine times out of ten, they can't control their figure that easily; losing weight won't make their breasts any smaller in most cases because it's genetic. This is the author's problem now, not the book's. If there's anything the author can control, it's the specific word choice.

Logic

Almost nonexistent. Why would an entire class as important as biology be axed over sex ed? More likely, the teaching guidelines would be changed to exclude sex ed. No teacher would ever allow one student to humiliate another the way Patch humiliated Nora and if they did, they wouldn't get away with it. Then there's what happened due to the lazy writing, discussed in the writing section. The biggest fart in logic may be, as I said earlier, how in the world Nora falls in love with Patch when he treats her so terribly. Someone can make you feel tingly all over and make you want to screw them, but that doesn't always mean you're in love. That's lust, a separate entity from love, and that's what's really between Nora and Patch.

I may not be a mother, but I am baffled and horrified at the behavior of Nora's mother. Just a year after the murder of her husband, Nora's mom has a job that takes her far away from her daughter for long periods of time and they appear to have very little contact with one another. Shouldn't she be getting closer, not farther away? I speak from personal experience on that. Honestly, there were so many farts in logic, writing, characterization, and everything else that I couldn't find the words a few times and could only write squiggles in the book.

Was it worth the hype?

The hype that this book is sexy, dark, has the sexiest hunk of man/fallen angel to grace the pages of a book, romantic, and great? Absolutely not.

The hype that this book is terrible, infuriating, boring, anti-feminist, provides the world with both one of the worst best friends/friendships to grace the pages of a book and the worst love interest to exist in any media, and is most likely the most reprehensible YA novel to be published in recent memory? Without a doubt, yes. I wouldn't wish this book on my worst enemy.

Bonus cover section

This may be the best part of the book: its cover. While the color scheme has difficulty standing out, the image is striking and can easily catch the eye of someone passing by in a bookstore (which I tested out and confirmed last time I visited a bookstore). However, it immediately gives away what the book is about and if a passing reader decides to buy the book and read it, they will probably become frustrated that it takes Nora so long (about 250 pages) to figure out what Patch is when they knew before they even began reading.

0 stars!


What am I reading next?: Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Friday, August 12, 2011

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Title: Juliet Immortal
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Random House/Delacorte Press
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Pages: 306 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine-provided ARC

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, who made the sacrifice  to ensure his own immortality. But Romeo didn't anticipate that Juliet would be granted eternity as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light.
 
For seven hundred years, Juliet has struggled to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent, while Romeo has fought for the dark side, seeking to destroy the human heart. Until now.
 
Now Juliet has found her own forbidden love, and Romeo, O Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy their happiness.
 
Secrets unfold and surprises abound in Stacey Jay's dark romance, which reunites literature's most tragic couple.

Review:

Readers, I face a conundrum. On one hand, Juliet Immortal has its merits and I recognize that they're there. On the other hand, I still did not enjoy this book because of the problems I had with it. I try to rate books objectively, but this is one book I am rating more on how I enjoyed it than its objective quality.

Let's see if I can pin this down right. If you:
  • like melodrama and angst;
  • are of the mind that Romeo and Juliet was a love story and not a tragedy or satire on teen love;
  • or like forbidden romance (of which this book contains multiple cases of, each one a different kind),
Then this is your book. If you dislike any of the listed, this may not be your book. Now then, let's do a little in-depth exploration of this book and why thinking about it introduces an urge to bang my head on the keyboard.

For centuries since Romeo sacrificed her to become immortal, Juliet has battled her former love to preserve the souls of other soul mates and prevent them from suffering the same fate she did. This time around, Juliet's host body is a quiet, scarred girl named Ariel and though she's not supposed to, she's falling in love with Ben Luna, a complicated young man... and one of the soul mates she was sent to protect. When Romeo discovers this, he will do anything to destroy the first happiness Juliet has experience in nearly seven hundred years.

We'll start with what I did like. Characters are usually blind to their own flaws and have to be called out on them by other people, if ever. Juliet makes smarter choices this time around, even if it take a few centuries to figure out what she did wrong, and recognizes her own flaws. Then when she called Romeo out for his behavior when they were alive (for the record, the play is an exact description of how their relationship went except for a small variation in how the play ended and how it "really" ended) and I wanted to scream, "Hallelujah!" I didn't like Romeo in the play and seeing everything I've ever thought of him taken out of my mouth by Juliet was great.

I didn't always like Juliet as a person, but I will grudgingly admit that she is a good heroine and character. The evolution of her character is done well, being a little wiser than she was in the play, flawed, and very interesting. She even has a good relationship with her (technically Ariel's, but you know what I mean) mother this time around! Better relationships with parents in YA books is something we need more of.

While I don't like present tense writing much, it worked with this story and the writing was good, if not poetic at times. I thought about quoting some passages I thought were really good, but there's the whole "don't quote ARCs" thing and then I wouldn't know what to quote. So many choices, so little time! What had to be my favorite part was that good was not good in this book, more like a shade of gray than white-as-fresh-snow white. People often overlook that even good does some atrocious things in the name of defeating evil. They aren't above lying, manipulation, and letting people die because it suits their purposes or they don't think that person is important. This was the strongest point of Juliet Immortal for me.

And now we move on to what I didn't like. Oh, goodness, this is going to be a long one.

Romeo and Juliet are presented as soul mates, like it's just as much a fact as the sky being blue and my fingernails currently being painted a Pepto Bismol shade of pink (which they are). I hold the opinion they were just two infatuated teenagers and that their play was not a love story, so I'm not much for them being presented as soul mates. If their courtship goes virtually the same way as it does in the play, I don't have any reason to believe these two were any more in love here than they were in the play. If it's already been stated that part of Shakespare's play was a lie, why not make more than just the ending and the presence of the Mercenaries/Ambassadors a lie?

Juliet and Ben's relationship is nearly as instant and just as unbelievable as the eponymous couple's in Romeo and Juliet, and this could be a sore point indeed for people who feel the same way about the play as I do, though I will hand it to those two that they made smarter decisions this time around. 

There's all sorts of melodramatic drama going down, especially involving the love triangles (because we have MULTIPLES OF THEM, people, MULTIPLES). Juliet has a genuine conflict concerning Ben and Gemma, but that triangle still manages to be entirely too melodramatic. We also have angsting of "I can't be with him because he's supposed to be with her!" and such and I just wanted it all to go away because I was more interested on what Mercenaries and Ambassadors did, but we never got to see either side at work. We're told that the Mercenaries try to tempt one soul mate into sacrificing the other and then the Ambassador tries to bring the soul mates together, but neither side was doing their job very well.

(Also, small nitpick, but wouldn't someone's glowing aura be more visible in the dark, not less visible? It seems like a small flub, but not being able to see a certain person's glowing aura because Juliet only saw them in the dark made a pretty big difference.)

Maybe it's because I'm my heart is made of stone and cold like the frozen-solid water bottles in the refrigerator, but I didn't find Romeo sympathetic or likable in either the play or this book. Here, he's not just off his rocker; he's off his rocker's rocker. He has killed multiple people for nothing more than being in his way, killed his own soul mate Juliet, and is generally a terrible person despite his misguided motivations. I believed his suffering was just karma taking a big bite of out him. <nitpick>When a guy acts like a woman has to summon the goodness inside him and make him a good person, that's pretty much the point of no return for me. It is never the woman's job to fix a man and make him a good person or vice versa. If they really want to be with that person, they will better themselves on their own and make themselves worthy.</nitpick>

And that's exactly how I liked his character. He's not being evil for the sake of being evil, but he was evil nonetheless and that was great. What I didn't like was how the book was trying to redeem him for his actions when I felt that he deserved no redemption for all he's done (and I've left out a few things because I don't want to give too much away). 

The ending left me... Is there a nice way to say this? No, I think not. The ending pissed me off and made me want to scream (the bad kind of scream). A sudden revelation at the end feels out-of-place with the rest of the book and seems like it's there only to provide a happy ending just when you think it's going to be something other than the happily-ever-after ending. As for how it leaves Romeo? Don't make me talk about it. Considering my above-mentioned feelings about Romeo's character and the attempts to redeem him and make him sympathetic when it doesn't work, how the ending leaves him and the implications made me angrier than anything else.

This was such a depressing review to write. I was excited about this book from the moment I heard about it. I thought maybe, just maybe, it would go like "Juliet realizes she was never in love with Romeo and he tricked her, so she fights him to avenge herself." The description certainly made it sound like it could go that way. Now that I've actually read it, I'm just disappointed. 

I'll stress this with capital letters: FOR ONCE, IGNORE MY OPINION AND TRY IT OUT FOR YOURSELF IF YOU'RE REALLY CURIOUS. I wrote this review for cathartic reasons and to sort out how I felt. This review isn't the most objective or helpful because my quality-vs-enjoyment dilemma led to a lower rating than it may have deserved and I don't really want anyone to use this unreliable, very strange review to decide whether or not to get the book. It would be a shame if someone did and avoided a book they would have loved just because I was being a weirdy with my review.

2 stars!


What am I reading next?: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

I may not care much for the cover of this book (the white of the swirling snow is beautiful and I love it, but then the superbold black title pops in to disrupt the picture and I go "Ag"), but the idea has me by my nonexistent nuts, though the love triangle mention has me worried. Oh well. Let's see some necromancy!

The Gathering Storm (Katerina Alexandrovna, #1)
The Gathering Storm
by Robin Bridges
January 10, 2012
368 pages (hardcover)

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.
An evil presence is growing within Europe's royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina's strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar's standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina's help to safeguard Russia, even if he's repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.
 
The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Giveaway Winner and Important Announcement

The giveaway for Moonbeams and Werelove Midnight Revelations has run its course and I am happy to announce the winner:

Andrea I!

I've already emailed you and the author about this so that you can have your books as soon as possible.

And the important announcement: a makeover.

Over the next few days, I'm going to be giving my blog a huge makeover. The name (and subsequently, the URL) will be changing to The Screaming Nitpicker, which is a much more accurate description due to my terrible (but unknown to you) habit of screaming at my books while I read them and very visible habit of nitpicking when I review books. I've been planning this for some time now and since I will be losing much of my free time starting next week, it's best to do it now and get it over with.

The changes you can expect to see include:
  • Change of the name/URL from Ashleigh Reads (With a Ukulele) to The Screaming Nitpicker
  • Change in formatting
  • Using a normal (as in one star, two star, three star, etc.) rating system instead of the one with ukuleles
  • ...Okay, I think there's other stuff, but I'm forgetting it. Everything I have planned but can't currently remember goes here.
So yeah, if my blog suddenly "disappears," that's not the case. It's just under a new name.

Not a bad way to ring in one hundred posts, huh?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Werelove Midnight Revelations by Lakisha Spletzer

Title: Werelove Midnight Revelations
Author: Lakisha Spletzer
Publisher: CreateSpace/Smashwords
Release Date: May 13, 2011
Pages: 454 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book:Review copy from the author

Werelove: Midnight Revelations (Volume 2)"Hi, my name is Laylah Cherie Le Croix, and being ignorant can be life-threatening."

Laylah Le Croix is searching for answers. Dissatisfied with the silence from her caretakers on the subject of her kidnapping and, unnerved by her Father's sudden interest in her life, Laylah eagerly anticipates graduation day and the freedom to pursue her own goals.

She secretly continues to see her boyfriend, Donil Silentshadow, who values her as a person and gives her the love she desperately needs.

Were Council politics and a familiar enemy's insidious plans collide with the couple's happiness and threaten to unleash the hidden inter-tribal feuding amongst the Weres.

Will Laylah be able to navigate the onslaught of this latest disaster or will the secret, those around her are keeping, finally consume her?

Review:

After being kidnapped and then rescued a month before, Laylah Le Croix is becoming more and more unsatisfied with her sheltered life and seeks to be free from her father's control so she can live her own life. Meeting with her boyfriend Donil in secret because her father has forbidden contact with him and his family, she remains blind to the plans others have for her and their machinations. As these plans come to fruition, secrets are revealed and the free future Laylah thought she had is threatened. If she wants to be her own person, she will have to take some risks.

I very nearly gave up on this book--at the 74% point, I said I couldn't do it and planned to stop there--but I gave it my best try and finished the book. While Werelove Midnight Revelations has its merits as a book and points that I like, there were more that I did not like and/or had a problem with.

The biggest problem of the book would be the characters and the relationships between them. Laylah is the focal point of everything and matters to everyone's plans because of the circumstances of her birth and who her parents are. There are certain expectation for focal-point characters like Laylah to be interesting because if they're supposed to be so important to everyone, they should have suitable personalities for that. But she isn't interesting at all. I find it frustrating to read about a character who is so important and yet doesn't have the personality to match that. While the world around her and the plans involving her held my interest, Laylah did not.

Her relationship with Donil doesn't make me believe they are really in love with one another, nor do I think they know each other well enough and have the proper development for their relationship to advance to the level it does during Midnight Revelations. Being mates does not excuse skipping proper development or having bad to mediocre development. Despite Donil's insistence that he will tell Laylah about himself "on his own terms," it comes off like this won't be until they are engaged or married (which is Donil's obvious intent). A part later in the book made me feel vindicated with some of these concerns, but it's not enough.

Of all the characters, Jacques and Violet are the only ones I like. Jacques has a genuine conflict over whether to follow his Alpha's orders so he can stay around or do what's best for Laylah at the moment and get fired. His flip-flopping attitude of "I love you, you're like a daughter to me" and *cold shoulder attitude* got on my nerves and his character was not that likable, but he's got a good conflict. While Violet may be a one-dimensional mean girl character and a reprehensible person, at least she isn't driven by men in one manner or another like the antagonist from the last book, Laylah, or Naiya. She does what she does for herself and her own desire for power. Violet is the closest thing to a feminist character in this book and she's still not even close to being feminist.

Some of the issues I had with the writing in the first book persist in the second. It got better about telling-not-showing, but there are still occasions where the reader is told something about a character where the information is not of importance to anything and either the character or the information never turns up again. I did some grammar nitpicking (which is less a reflection of the book and more of my nature as a reader), such as with the sentence "Laylah laid on her back and stared up at her ceiling (Werelove Midnight Revelations, 56%)." If my knowledge of grammar is correct, that should be "lay," not "laid." Please correct me if I'm wrong.

As early as the 9% mark, I predicted that a certain twist would happen, and it did--all the way at the 77% mark. It seems like this was supposed to be a big twist, but everything was pointing at it for the entire book  and I was impatiently wondering for much of the book when it was going to happen. This was pretty much the story of the entire novel: There was no turn of events or twist that surprised me because unnecessary scenes pointed right to it. Cutting some of those scenes would have improved the book and made some of these twist shocking rather than predictable. Regardless, the pacing was quite good.

There was so much about the book that rubbed me the wrong way and made me uncomfortable the way a reader is not supposed to be while reading. Trying to organize this in paragraphs like usual resulted in an essay-length section, so I will list it in bullet points:
  • "Such meekness is refreshing in a young person. You have trained her well, Henry (Werelove Midnight Revelations, 3%)." Girls are not animals to be trained to obey the man/men in her life. This line made my skin crawl a little bit.
  • Laylah never gets to make her own choices, even when it comes to being Donil's mate. From how it appears, she will always be his mate even if she decides that she does not want that. If she wants to, that's fine, but the absence of a choice not to be his mate bugs me.
  • (This is a definite spoiler, so I have hidden it. Highlight the text you absolutely must see it.) I would think a society of the future would be past arranged marriages, but apparently not.
  • "That sharp vanilla scent that was hers mixed with desire. He knew she wouldn't know that's what she felt, but he did (Werelove Midnight Revelations, 61%)." The implications are staggering and I don't like them. Women don't understand how they feel, but men do? I could call many kinds of bull on that. In that vein, much of Donil's behavior concerning his intent that they will be mates disturbs me. I can't begin to get into it all.
  • The principal punishing the vicitm of a fight for being involved when she never threw a punch or touched her assailant. I have been the victim in two fights with other girls. In one, I did nothing to the other girl and she was the only one that got in trouble; in the other, I fought back and I got in trouble too. Laylah getting in trouble like she did felt like a plot contrivance.
  • Whenever Laylah tries to make her own choices as a young woman, she is brushed off because she is being a short-sighted, irrational little girl. The implications are not nice ones.
  • Laylah telling herself she is unworthy of Donil's affections. I am sick and tired of such an attitude being reinforced in books because this is not okay. If he decided to be with you when he could have had someone else, you are worthy. The question is whether or not he is worthy of you. If he isn't, it's time for a break-up.
I also had numerous personal qualms with the story that were not counted against the book in the end because it had to do with what I like as a reader rather than anything to do with the quality of the book. These qualms include Laylah's dislike of almost anything feminine such as heels, dresses, and lingerie. A female can be a good character and still be feminine. If only there were more books that combined the two. I would like to see more strong (and I mean mentally and in their execution, not just in physical strength) female characters who like dresses and pink, paint their nails regularly, and can rarely be found without a pair of stilettos on their feet. "Girly heroines" needs to stop being an oxymoron in YA PNR.

(For the record, I just took that opportunity to rant about something that has been on my mind for months. I would have said this in a review one way or another; this just happened to come along at the right time.)

While this series has turned out not to be my thing, I encourage anyone who is even slightly interested by the premise to try the books for themselves and develop their own opinion. What I love is what others will hate and then I will dislike something other readers could fall in love with. My opinions are ultimately my own and no one else's. While book reviews are a helpful tool to have when trying to decide whether or not to buy a book, a person shouldn't decide not to buy a book they were interested in just because of one negative review such as mine.

1 star!


What am I reading next?:Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Werelove Dusk Conspiracy by Lakisha Spletzer


Title: Werelove Dusk Conspiracy
Author: Lakisha Spletzer
Publisher: CreateSpace/Smashwords
Release Date: April 30, 2010
Pages: 384 pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Review copy from the author

Dusk Conspiracy (Werelove #1)Seventeen-year-old Laylah Le Croix has a rich father, mansion, and servants. Yet she is lonely and neglected. Her father would rather work than speak to her. At the academy she is bullied and mistreated.

When Weres attempt to kidnap Laylah, she is saved by the mysterious Donil Silentshadow. Donil rouses feelings in Laylah that make her question her life and her father's animosity toward her handsome rescuer. Confused by these emotions, she seeks answers from those closest to her and is rebuffed.

She must make a choice. Obey her father's edicts or follow her heart to learn the truth about her past.

Review:

Born into a rich family where her father puts her down at every turn, her mother has been dead since she was a child, and the servants that care for her are more like parents than her actual parent, Laylah Le Croix is lonely and bullied by her classmates. After a group of shapeshifting men nearly kidnap her for what she thinks is no reason, she meets a young man named Donil Silentshadow and a wish to be free from her constricting life takes shape. Meanwhile, a werewolf Alpha who killed Laylah's father thirteen years before has returned and she's after both Laylah and her father Henry, sending the Were world into a frenzy to stop her for their own reasons. 

As a heroine, Laylah just didn't work for me. Maybe it's because I've never been a fan of "shrinking violet" type heroines. Maybe it's because I found it strange for her to apologize to someone for stabbing them when the stabbing victim in question hurt her. It could be my subjective irritation with the little things, like how she had a tendency to take a while to realize something simple or not wonder about her mysterious lucid dream. Whatever it was, I wasn't able to cheer for her and I don't feel that she grew very much in the course of the novel. In the case of her dad Henry, a great job was done making him a hateable prick because I hated the heck out of him.

The Were society, its organization, the differences between Laylah's futuristic world of the twenty-third century and the present time, and how Laylah's world came to be were all points of the story that captured my interest and wouldn't let go. When other elements of the story began to irritate me, my desire to know more about Laylah's world was what kept me going. It was disappointing to find that most of this information was suddenly dumped in at the end of the novel instead of properly worked into the story, but the worldbuilding was something different and I liked it.

There is nothing in this book that makes me believe Donil and Laylah have genuine romantic feelings for one another because of how suddenly and unrealistically it happens. On Donil's side, it feels like an infatuation born of lust and maybe a taste for the forbidden, since he's not supposed to associate with a Le Croix like Laylah; on Laylah's side, she sees Donil as a way to rebel against her father and be free from his tyrannical rule. They may have a mate bond, but that doesn't excuse the lack of genuine romantic development and believable romantic feelings between them. If anything, it seems more like a case of being strangled by the red string.

The main character herself is a plot hole because scientifically, she isn't supposed to exist. Her parents, being a werewolf and a werepanther, should not be able to have a child together because while they are both Weres, they are still two very different types of Weres and too genetically different to be able to conceive a child. Just as a wolf and a panther in the wild wouldn't be able to procreate together, Laylah's parents shouldn't have been able to have her.

The writing has a bad habit of telling instead of showing. I made strikethroughs in my head of what could be cut and would improve the novel rather than hurting it: large sections of text telling us what this character is like and what they do despite never showing up again or having any importance to anything, scenes that had no importance, subpar descriptions ("angry silence" and "Zina's chuckle was filled with malice and violence" are two I remember), and more, and unimportant information that has no bearing on the characters' personalities or the plot. Description are repetitive in that they go along the lines of "He did this. She did this, infitive. He did this, infitive," but this particular flaw is covered up due to the book's dialogue-heavy nature.

This is just a little fun one: considering that the "he" in question is a werepanther and it was hinted just a few pages ago that werepanthers ate people, "the way he looked at her made her think of how a starving animal stared at food" is not a particularly good choice of description of how he's looking at Laylah.

I've got a laundry list of points in the book that made me very uncomfortable. Both of the "evil" women were emotional, lively people, the kind I most identify with, and every single woman on the side of good was quiet and reserved. When the idea that "a woman should be proud of her figure, not ashamed of it" is voiced, which is an idea I very much agree with, it comes from the villain. A scene about a third of the way into the book has Laylah saying things about why Jacques hit her that bear a striking, very uncomfortable resemblance to what an abused woman would say when trying to rationalize her abuse.

This may be the point that offends me worst of all: multiple women in the book are motivated by men, whether it is vengeance for one, anger at one for spurned love, or the desire to be with one. Why do their motivations have to be men? Why can't they be motivated by anger at the an unfair rule or the father's choices in how to raise his daughter, a desire for power due to rough treatment by others over time or to avenge a perceived wrong, or the desire to be free from an mentally/emotionally abusive and neglectful father? Females can have a motivation that has nothing to do with men. The implications of all of these examples offend me as a young woman.

Lovers of romance, worldbuilding that sticks out as unique and original, and a heroine trying to find freedom and her way in life might want to check this out. Werelove Dusk Conspiracy may not have been a book I enjoyed, but there will always be people who will love this book for its characters, plot, and flaws the way I was unable to.

1 star!


What am I reading next?: Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter