Source: Birthday present

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review

Posted September 29, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | Book ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Also in this series: Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
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5 Stars
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Oh MY gosh. Ruin and Rising is here!!!! Right!? Don’t worry, I read this right when it came out. It has just taken me this long to figure out how to write a review for it. Leigh Bardugo is my hero. Now, I can’t guarantee there won’t be spoilers for the first two books. And I can’t guarantee this review will be anything but a bunch of fangirling with no real point. But either way, here are my thoughts. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Before I even begin, can we all just have a moment of silence for the end of the Grisha trilogy? I am SO sad it’s over.

2. This book broke my heart and then put it back together again. I mean, oh wow. The Darkling. Mal. Sturmhond/Nikolai. I just can’t.

3. I will take Nikolai for myself and not let you have him. He is just so perfect. I have grown to love him so much through each book.

4. Everything I said I loved about the first two books, Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, are still valid. Plus I love these things MORE.

5. Leigh Bardugo made some very brave and almost rebellious decisions with how everything turned out and how everyone ended up. People die. And you’ll care about it. Since Leigh owned these decisions, though, they WORKED. She did not go about this halfway. She jumped in the middle of a dark and deep pit of sharks with a bloody paper cut on her thumb and said, “Bring it on.” This lady has GUTS.

6. The writing just slayed me. Oh, the beauty and the dynamism. If Leigh re-wrote the dictionary, I would read it.

7. There was so much action and excitement, and ALL my questions were answered. And the ending was amazing.

I wish I had been more emotionally equipped to write a more thorough review, but we all know that doesn’t happen often with the end of a trilogy. I loved it, bottom line. You need to read this trilogy. And, chances are, you already have since you’re being brave and reading my review. But if you haven’t or if you haven’t finished it yet, just DO it. It’s amazing and wonderful and definitely my favorite trilogy ever.


Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book Review

Posted October 18, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 10 Comments

Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book ReviewJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Also in this series: Just One Day, Just One Night
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
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The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I loved Just One Day SO much. It is one of my favorite books ever! Just One Year was probably my most anticipated release this fall, and I was dancing around the house when my hardback arrived in the mail. I guess I was expecting something completely different from it, because I am so disappointed. I was hoping for a sweeping romance like the first book, which is not at all what I was given in Just One Year. Anyway, my main points are bolded.

1. This book was not a bad book at all. In fact, it was wonderful. Granted, there were a few passages that moved slowly and caused me to skim a page or two here and there, but I really enjoyed learning about Willem and what happened to him at the end of Just One Day. If I had not gone in with such high expectations, I know I would not have been disappointed. Gayle is a wonderful writer, and she creates amazing stories. Just One Year was great! I just wanted something completely different than she gave me with this book.

2. I connected with Allyson so much in Just One Day, and did not realize until I read Just One Year just how much I liked her. I missed her so much in Just One Year, and found I did not like Willem as much without her around to bring out the best in him. I think that was the point, though. We are meant to see Willem’s struggle, and who he is without Allyson in order to make us want him to find her. I longed for their reunion just as much as he did.

3. I liked the new characters we got to meet. Willem’s mom was endearing, and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into their tumultuous relationship. I liked Willem’s friends, particularly the one who went on part of Willem’s journey to find Allyson. I honestly can’t remember how to spell his name. Haha.

4. I was not the biggest fan of everything Willem did while he was looking for Allyson. I guess I had built him up as Mr. Perfect in my mind, so when he started sleeping with different women and doing drugs, I was so disappointed in him. My heat broke a little as I learned who Willem really is.

5. I enjoyed traveling with Willem on his journey, and I most of all enjoyed watching him learn so much about himself while he was gone. I’ve said it once, and I will say it again: traveling is the most magical way to discover yourself. I loved his happenings in Mexico, his return to India and the reasons behind that, and the string of events that brought him back to Holland. He went through a lot during this year, and even though I had a hard time with some of his choices, I could not help but cheer for him as he figured out what’s best for himself.

6. The ending made me really mad. Haha. I had originally been hoping that Just One Year would pick up right where Just One Day left off. Perhaps Willem would open his door, see Lulu standing there, hug and kiss her like crazy, and then tell her about his year. I would have loved to hear her input on his journey. I would have loved to see a ton of romance. I quickly discovered that would not happen, so I started hoping that the book would be long enough to have some time devoted to their reunion. I was at least hoping for an epilogue! There’s no after. I kind of feel abandoned now. Just as Willem left Allyson with no explanation, these two left me with no explanation.

I finished Just One Year almost a week ago, and I’m still having a hard time processing it. I almost decided to not even write a review. I figured I needed to, though, so I can come back to it someday and remember how I felt and see if I feel any differently as time goes on. I’m not giving it a star review, though, since I just don’t know how I feel. Honestly, my expectations were way too high. It’s like going on a date to a fancy restaurant with the love of your life and thinking he’s going to propose, but instead he dumps you. If I had gone into this book with no expectations, I would have been able to appreciate it for what it is rather than be disappointed in what it isn’t. Really, the only criticism I have is that it was not what I wanted, and it is not what my heart wanted.


Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter (Book Review)

Posted May 3, 2012 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter (Book Review)Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter
Published by Ballantine Books on June 12, 2007
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Birthday present
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3 Stars
After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she’s had it with modern-day love and would much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen’s classic. So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead. Far from inspiring romance, the company aboard the bus consists of a gaggle of little old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.

The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest. But that’s exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself. Suddenly, every woman’s fantasy becomes one woman’s reality. . . .

I love Jane Austen spin-offs. I think we’ve all figured this out by now. Because I love them so much, they can easily disappoint me at the same time, which is what happened here. This was on of those “meh” books, and actually the book that inspired my 3-Star rating explanation over on my sidebar. Sometimes that’s really the only word I can come up with when someone asks me how I liked a book.

1. It was a slow, basic, fluffy plot that was perfect for a leisurely day of summer reading. There was not a lot to it, and I got through it pretty quickly. This is not always a bad thing, as I enjoy having a lighter book to just enjoy every once in a while!

2. Emily’s gaggle of old lady friends were hilariously dramatic as they toured the English countryside.  Some of these women were fun to read about, and some of them bothered me a little. Some were just downright laugh-out-loud funny. They formed a pretty strong bond with Emily in the short amount of time they had, though, so I got to know and like them at about the same pace that Emily did. They were always concerned about her, and treated her like a granddaughter, which I thought was cute.

3. Mr. Darcy does make an appearance in the book a few times, but I didn’t like it very much. I’m not sure if it was a cut in the fabric of time, Emily’s mindless daydreams, or visions from a higher power, but the two of them had innocent encounters throughout the course of the book. Nobody saw him but Emily, so she was viewed as being a bit crazy whenever she mentioned seeing him. Seriously, why would you continue talking about meeting Mr. Darcy if nobody else saw him? I mean, does she want to come off as crazy?4. Mr. Darcy bugged me. He was not my Mr. Darcy, and came off as selfish and cocky. I think that’s why this book left me feeling “meh”. I love this guy, and I think the author of this book decided that people like him too much. I don’t have skewed views about men because of Mr. Darcy, but I do appreciate him and enjoy thinking about finding someone similar (thank you, BBC).  I left this book not liking Mr. Darcy, and I was not happy about that.

4. The writing was done well, and the story idea was cute. I was just not extremely fond of the execution or the characterization.

I recommend this to readers who enjoy Jane Austenesque novels, but don’t mind if Mr. Darcy is thrown under the bus a little!


Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine (Book Review)

Posted February 21, 2012 by Jana in Book Review / 5 Comments

Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine (Book Review)Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess by Jerramy Fine
Published by Gotham on January 10, 2010
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
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0.5 Stars
Most young girls dream of becoming a princess. But unlike most girls, Jerramy Fine never grew out of it. Strangely drawn to the English royal family since she was a toddler, Jerramy finds Peter Phillips (the Queen's oldest grandson) in a royal family tree when she is only six years old, and decides immediately that he will be her future husband.

But growing up with hippie parents (who gave her a boy's name!) in the middle of a rodeo-loving farm town makes finding her prince a much bigger challenge than Jerramy ever bargained for. She spends her childhood writing love-letters to Peter c/o Buckingham Palace, and years later, when her sense of destiny finally brings her to London, she must navigate the murky waters of English social circles, English etiquette and English dating. Along the way, she meets Princess Anne (Peter's mother), befriends Earl Spencer, and parties with the Duchess of York. Yet life is not the Hugh Grant movie she hoped it would be. Her flatmates are lunatics, London is expensive, and English boys can be infuriating. But just when she thinks it might be time to give up and return to America, Peter magically appears in her life.

As soon as I found this book while browsing on Goodreads, I was extremely excited to read it, and I’m sure you can understand why! It sounds like so much fun. Jerramy is a funny writer, and some of her stories are pretty entertaining to read. I’m going to get a little critical for a minute, though, and this is hard because I do not want to offend the author. In fiction, if you don’t agree with how a character is portrayed that’s ok. Because they are imaginary. In the case with non-fiction and memoirs, though, the characters are real people. Writing a memoir is brave because you open yourself and your world up to criticism from outsiders, and there were certain things about Jerramy’s story that rubbed me the wrong way. I think they are worth mentioning, though, because they will help readers decide whether or not this book is the right fit for them.

Jerramy complains about her parents, makes fun of them, talks about how they embarrass her to no end, and how she is convinced she was switched at birth. When she finally moved away to college, she could not wait to leave them behind in the dust. They were so low-class, compared to her. That made me sad, even though I could understand where she was coming from. Yes, they were eccentric hippies with skewed views and weird ways… but they were her parents, and whether or not they sent her a monogrammed tray for rolling joints, and told her to try opium in her home before she went to college so she’d know how she reacted… they were still her parents, and you could tell they loved her. I wish she had been a little more respectful in her writing about them.

When Jerramy finally got to London, she drank and partied her way into the most prestigious social circles, one hangover at a time. She couldn’t even remember the names of some of the guys she made out with with. At one point the guy she was on a date with knocked on the bathroom door to check and see if she was ok. Before she could open the door, she had to shove another guy out the window. Of course, people are free to make their own choices but I got a bit tired of reading about these encounters.

Regardless of my issues with the book, Jerramy never, ever gave up on what was important to her. No matter how far-fetched it seemed, no matter how insane her friends thought she was for hanging posters of the royal family in her teenage room, and no matter how many people tried to stand in her way, she never gave up. I have to give her props for her determination. She lost friends along the way, her grades in school suffered, she went into major debt, she had her heart broken by a lot of the guys she met along the way, and she cried a lot, but she never gave up. I don’t know if many people would have been that persistent. I learned a ton about English culture and the royal family.

I totally envy some of the things Jerramy got to do along the way. I mean, who else got to spend New Year’s Eve 1999 in India and ring in the millennium at the royal palace there? If I remember correctly, I had an awful cold and spent the night in bed watching a ballroom competition on TV. Oh yay. She got to live in London! I love all things Europe, so I was quite envious of that. She went to a lot of parties and events that sounded so glamorous. She did meet members of the royal family, and eventually Peter himself. No, that was not a spoiler. It even says it on the back of the book. So, not only was she stubborn, but she succeeded! Not many people get to live out their dreams. I think that’s pretty lucky.

Overall, if I take away anything from this book, it’s hope. Hope that I can achieve all the things I wish for myself if I work hard and press on, even when obstacles appear. While this book was not for me, I’d still recommend it to people looking for memoirs about college-aged characters, or those interested in England and the royal family.


Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (Book Review)

Posted February 15, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman (Book Review)Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Published by Point on June 1, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 292
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
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4 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science. . .and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can't make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship. . .and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

I’ve been a fan of mermaid romance novels for quite a while now, and have read many of them. There’s so much an author can do when they are talking about a setting that is so mysterious and unknown to land dwellers like us! That’s why I decided to read Sea Change. It’s not necessarily a mermaid book, but it does deal with mythological themes centered around the ocean. While it was not what I was expecting, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the story.

Let me start by saying that the cover is beautiful! It’s even prettier in person than it is on screen because it shimmers! This mystical story of young love lacks a bit in plot, but makes up for it with charm and magic. Miranda is a very likable, relate-able character. She’s been hurt by people in her not-so-distant past, and is trying to heal during her summer on Selkie Island. She’s warned on the ferry of mystical water creatures and is told to avoid the native islanders because they are “different.” Right when she arrives, she knows this island is unique. She thinks nothing of it, but begins to understand as she explores her aunt’s house and the island itself.

She’s a bit of an odd man out on the island, which is full of rich and snobby socialites. The first night she’s there, she’s invited to an heiress party (she’s an heiress since she inherited her aunt’s estate). It’s stuffy, and the “friends” she makes care mostly about money, fashion, and getting in bed with a hot, young, rich, preppy boy.  Miranda’s not that kind of girl. She’s a brainy good girl from the big city and has to work to survive. That’s another reason I like her. She’s real. In her quest for getting away from the snobs, she goes to a marine center on the island. There, she meets the mysterious Leo. He’s extremely attractive, and someone Miranda feels she would never have a chance with. He latches on to her, though, and they form a very sweet bond that’s surrounded by mystery and intrigue. They have to sneak around since he’s a native, and the heirs and heiresses of the island shun natives. I really liked Leo. He’s down-to-earth, honest, caring, chivalrous, and sweet. It’s no secret either that he’s a very different kind of person.

While the story does not have a complex, fast-paced plot, it is quite intriguing. The reader is given different lessons on mythology and history. You are kept guessing, along with Miranda, until the very end. Unfortunately, I was still guessing after the book was over. I doubt there will be a sequel, but there certainly is room for one. I would have enjoyed learning more about the mythology that lives on Selkie Island, but perhaps we’re meant to make that up in our own minds. The descriptions of the island and the houses were beautiful.

My only real complaint was that the story took so long to build up, that the ending was quite rushed. Miranda and Leo’s story went from casual to intense rather quickly. There was plenty of room to slow it down and make it seem more realistic. All in all, though, this was a very sweet book with a lot of southern charm and pure, innocent love. I think it’s the perfect beach read… or the perfect man-it’s-so-cold-outside-I-wish-it-were-summer read if you can’t wait for summer!


Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)

Posted February 5, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 7 Comments

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (Book Review)Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Series: Study #1
Published by Mira on November 18, 2008
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 405
Source: Birthday present
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4 Stars
Choose: A quick death… Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear...

Much like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I was really worried about this book. I don’t usually like books where the main character(s) are violently mistreated. In both instances, I read the back of each book and skeptically thought, “Who on Earth could enjoy such a violent and tragic storyline?”  However, I’d heard AMAZING things from friends and fellow book-a-holics that I trusted. I loved The Hunger Games, so I dove right into this book with the same expectations.  I loved this one too!

Yelena lives in the land of Ixia. She has been convicted of murder, and is therefore sentenced to death by hanging. While lying in her dark, grimy, rat-infested dungeon cell she awaits the noose made especially for her. After living in that cell for just under a year, a guard comes and scrapes her emaciated body off the floor and takes her away. She can only assume it’s her turn to die. However, she is presented with a way to live—a new life. There’s a catch, though. If she’s going to live, she has to do it as a servant in the Commander’s home as his food taster. The previous food taster has died, and since the favorable method of assassination is by poison, the commander needs a new food taster immediately. The code states that the next person in line for the noose has to be offered the position. She accepts, thinking that surely there will be opportunity for escape in the future. Valek, her new handler, takes her through an extensive training curriculum, even poisoning her in the process. She comes through with a complete knowledge of all the poisons and begins her job.

Brazell, the father of the man Yelena murdered wants her dead. Her life becomes an obsession of his and she has to fight him and his guards off along the way. Not only is he after her, but so are some of the other servants she lives with. On top of that, someone has noticed some special powers she possesses and insists on either killing her or training her. If she does not learn to control these powers, she could cause major trouble for not only herself, but the world she lives in. This makes life difficult, obviously, and Valek, takes her into his suite so he can protect her. Along with Valek, she finds a few friends in the castle who help her and teach her new things.

When a conspiracy arises against the Commander, Yelena is forced into the middle of all of it. She has to face the man who drove her to kill, the demons of her past, and the man who just might ruin her future. She also has to quickly discover her true potential in order to help protect those she is bound to by vow and bound to by love. Throw in a ton of suspenseful scenes, some menacing characters, and a love interest or two, Yelena is in for a bumpy ride on the road to self-discovery, love, loyalty, and friendship.

I really enjoyed the unique storyline and cast of characters. Yelena is so spunky. You’d think that with the crappy past she had and the dismal life she ends up surrendering to, she’d be all whiny and woe-is-me all the time. She’s a fighter!  She takes no crap and she kicks butt a few times! It’s really entertaining and refreshing to see such a strong female character. Here’s this skinny, weak little thing fighting off some of the strongest and most evil people ever. There’s a few lessons I think I need to learn from her. I loved Valek from the beginning. He’s got that hardened, cold, stand-offish persona but you just know there’s a teddy bear in there somewhere. That kind of man is very appealing and you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read about a man like him. The other characters were also likable. Really, the only ones I did not like were the villains (go figure). The storyline was so unique to me that it really pulled me in. I was constantly turning pages wondering how the author would treat the subject matter. It took me way too long to read, since I was on vacation, but it kept calling to me from my carry-on bag or my suitcase. 

I could not give the book 5 stars, just because I really hated how horrible some of the people in this book were treated. I had a hard time hearing about the sad life of Yelena, as well as the people from her past. I loved the suspense, the little bit of romance, and the unique storyline.


Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (Book Review)

Posted January 4, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 5 Comments

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto (Book Review)Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Series: Halo #1
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 31, 2010
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 484
Format: Hardcover
Source: Birthday present
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0.5 Stars
An angel is sent to Earth on a mission.

But falling in love is not part of the plan.

Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.

The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?

I was expecting these amazingly perfect angels coming down from Heaven to save a deteriorating world. I thought it would be full of action, excitement, forbidden love, and suspense. Was it? Not really. The story didn’t even really pick up until about page 370. This is a 500-page book. Let me list off some of my main complaints that made this book so hard to finish.  I must warn you, this might be the harshest of all my reviews. I feel really bad about it… but I just can’t go without saying this!

1. The writing. Oh dear. Talk about purple prose. There was more flowery writing in this book than actual dialogue! And it did nothing for the plot. Things are described multiple ways and then compared to something else countless numbers of times: “That was the effect he had on me–an explosion of happiness in my chest, scattering like little beads and making my whole body shiver and tingle.” Or… “Xavier’s eyes are turquoise and almond shaped, like twin pools of clear blue ocean.” Every time Xavier’s eyes were mentioned, they were turquoise. The author could come up with nothing else to describe them. Yes, we get it. And his hair was always nutmeg. ALWAYS. Hey, did you know Xavier’s hair color is nutmeg? Oh, by the way… Xavier has nutmeg hair. And he’s hot. Really hot. If you forget, that’s ok. You’ll be told again really soon. At least 3-4 times a chapter, in fact.

Pages were devoted to descriptions of interiors, or places, or outfits, or feelings, or people that didn’t contribute to the plot at all. I’d read some long, overdone description of some nameless character, and then they are never mentioned again! So why should I care about them? I was getting so tired of it. An Amazon reviewer said it best when she mentioned that the plot takes a back seat to the overwritten details and descriptions. Did I mention Xavier’s really hot?

2. Bethany’s “brother” is Gabriel, the archangel. Her sister is a seraph.  Why are such powerful angels sent to a sleepy little town called Venus Cove, where nothing bad is happening? I would think they’d be sent to a war zone or a place with extreme poverty, but no. They get sent to a place where more volunteers are needed to serve at the local soup kitchens. There was no possible way to write in any exciting encounters against evil.

Bethany would offend all actual angels, in my opinion. She’s petty, childish, shallow, and complains about her job in Heaven. Gabriel and Ivy walk around acting very superior and stuck-up—much different than I would expect messengers from God to act. AND… these angels are so dumb! The villain of the story is painfully described to a tee and fits perfectly into the category of “evil”. Every reader in the world knew he was bad before the angels did. A 3-year-old would get it.  It wasn’t until he started doing awful things that the light bulb turned on and they were like, “Oh, I think he’s bad.” Duh! Luckily this is not what real angels are like, because we’d be in trouble if they were.

3. Don’t fall into the plot holes. In the book, angels are described as having no family and not being able to understand human emotions. So why are Gabriel and Ivy referred to as Bethany’s siblings? Gabriel says love is forbidden. He also says that angels don’t feel the way humans do. So… the fact that Bethany is so in love with Xavier makes me question the entire premise of the book.

4. The love between Xavier and Bethany is more obsessive than that of Edward and Bella. I know, right? Is that even possible? Must be because he’s so hot. I did mention that, right? Bethany is willing to turn her back on Heaven for him! That seems really unhealthy, considering it took only a week or two for this crazy, never-ending, undying love to develop. There was no build-up to the love story. They saw each other, he ran into her on purpose a few times, he tells her he likes her, and BOOM. A full-on love explosion happens, and they both go nuts. I didn’t believe it at all, and it really sounded like some little girl’s daydream. And oh my, protectiveness! Xavier actually force-fed a protein bar (airplane noises and all) to Bethany when she wasn’t hungry when he thought she should be.  He compared her to glass and would not let her carry her books. I wanted to gag.

5. Halo is a Twilight knock-off. Vampires have been changed to angels, and the girl is now the supernatural one instead of the guy. The two meet in high school, she fights her feelings for him because the two of them shouldn’t be, then the whirlwind romance happens, she tells him her dark secret after hardly knowing him at all, he is taken in to her family as a trusted ally, the angels are the hottest breed of life known to man, etc. Instead of sparkling, the angels glow. Xavier saves Bethany from a gang of guys who want sex from her. Bethany even takes the train in to the city (Port Circe) to search for prom dresses, but found nothing she liked. Can we just call it Port Angeles, call Bethany Bella, and move on?

6. It was SO preachy! A religion can be written without being preached. This book is laced with mini-sermons and lectures, and should have been marketed as a Christian romance. Readers deserve to know if they’re about to be preached to for the entire book. I have nothing against Christian fiction; I just don’t read it (not because I’m not a Christian, but because there are so many different variations of Christianity and I frequently find things that rub me the wrong way, or teachings I don’t believe in). I understand this is fiction, but I was downright offended by some of the things she said about angels, God, etc. I have a hard time with authors taking liberties with spiritual/gospel-related subject matter. Commercialized Christianity. Not digging it. I hear the Devil himself is referred to as “Big Daddy” in book 2? Oh my. Gag me with a spoon.

7.  The story moved SO slowly. While reading this, I was in the process of painting my living room. I would choose to paint over taking a break to read. Watching paint dry was more entertaining. Now THAT’S saying something.

I guess I should have expected nothing more than I got as soon as I read a quote by Beyoncé on the introductory page of the book. Yes… a lyric from the song, you guessed it! HALO (Baby I can see your halo/you know you’re my saving grace.). How creative. To make matters worse, it was paired with a quote from “Romeo and Juliet.” Sorry, but Beyoncé and Shakespeare don’t go together. I’m having a hard time understanding why this book got a deal. I enjoyed the idea, but not the execution. And I feel bad for the graphic designer who had to waste their beautiful design on such a lackluster book. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I have no interest in reading the other two.

And on that note… Xavier. He’s, like, really hot.

So, have any of you read Halo? Did you like it, or did you feel the same way I did?

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