Sunday, April 27, 2014

It is not romantic; it's tragic

I received an eBook of this on goodreads, in exchange for a review. And while I looked forward to reading this, I am now looking back asking myself why. I could have done without exposing myself to this romantic tragedy. It's a book that while you like, you hate also. Or you dislike it, but you can't help but have hope for this book.

Title: Beyond the Reach of Judgement
Author: Jo Bissel
Series: none (possibility of one)
Genre: Tragedy, Paranormal, Romance
Rating: 2.5 stars

Julien Rene Durant was once a good man. Born in France, he took the oath as a Jesuit Priest in the 1600s. He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel. Now, he was a monster surviving off the bloodline of others; killing for survival even as he wished for nothing other than for his own extinction. After almost four centuries of guilt and hopelessness, he encounters someone who might just be able to rescue the good man trapped within the monster, but will his judgements deny him a second chance?
Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan is nothing special; a small town girl stuck in a rut. Married to the local Iraqi War Hero who turned out not to be the perfect guy she fell in love with before the war, she is desperate for a way out. When things turn from bad to worse, she runs with plans to never look back. She quickly finds, however, that her search for a better future may lead her down a path with no future at all.

So I'll start out with my initial thoughts about this book: First I thought Mary (who actually goes by Ruth) is married to an Iraqi soldier living in America, not a war hero who faught in Iraq. It's all in the wording. Second I assumed something along the lines of Ruth being in a bad marriage, meets vampire, falls in love, vampire most likely kills husband, rides off into the sunset with each other. I was right about the bad marriage, but to say I was wrong about the sunset ending is an understatement. I suppose it was wrong for me to assume a cute, little happy-go-lucky paranormal romance.

(I'm going to be a hypocrite here. I dislike when reviewers sum up the entire book, but I have to so I can fully explain everything.)

What really happened: The novel starts out with Julien picking up Magdalen, a hooker. It's his usual thing. He picks up a hooker, gives them money to rent a motel room and say they're alone (they don't dare run with the money because they assume they can get much more cash after the night with Julien). Once in the room, he drinks from their wrists, kills them, and leaves, covering it to look like a suicide.

But this time he doesn't do that, because as he's drinking, he hears two heartbeats instead of one, alerting him that she is in the early stages of pregnancy. He resists killing her then, not wanting to take an unborn child's life as well. He ties towels around her wrists to stop the blood flow. In the meantime he gets curious about who she really is and roots through her bag for ID.

Ruth then wakes up, freaks out, realizes what he is, so Julien takes her to his house where she heals a bit and rests. He is able to learn some of her story. She fell in love and married Jonny, who, since they were broke, joined the army and went off to fight. He wrote letters and everything, but once his mother died and he couldn't get back in time, he changed. When he was finally released, he needed therapy and meds but refused everything. His anger drove him to start beating Ruth. One night of her being in the hospital, she escaped fearing for the child she didn't want but came to love. After weeks of being poor, she resorted to prostitution and Julien was her first.

Ruth's escape from home is classified as a missing person so she has agents looking for her, all while a blurry image of her getting into a black car outside a motel didn't go unnoticed. So a particular agent, Samantha, widow of Jonny's friend is searching for Ruth and trying to figure out the mystery of this black car, not realizing at first that it is the same.

When Ruth goes to the bathroom and sees all the blood, Julien takes her to the hospital under her fake Magdalen name and leaves her there to deal with her miscarriage. For everyone's sake, he leaves with no intentions to return. But a couple nights later when she's released with no where to go, he shows up outside the hospital, surprising her.

As the attraction grows between Julien and Ruth, so does his guilt for all the things he has sinned for. Before becoming a vampire Julien was on his way to priesthood and will often still beg forgiveness from God. The novel carries on with them growing to love each other while having to move to a new location every few weeks because Samantha is on to them, and they know it.

It took a surprising turn when Julien contemplates leaving Ruth because he believes she deserves better. Ruth fights it of course, and after sex that night when he curls up with her, she thought she won. But the next morning he's gone with only a goodbye note in his place.

Meanwhile, Samantha feels she's closer than ever to accusing Julien of wrongdoing. She stays in contact with Jonny, but once she learns how Johnny treated Ruth, Samantha realizes it isn't Julien that is keeping Ruth from them; it's Ruth herself. She doesn't want to be found.

Days pass. Julien stays drunk. Ruth stays lost. Julien ends up in a church one night after leaving a bar and confesses everything to the priest who basically convinces him to go back to Ruth, and keep her as his in a special way if he truly cares for her. So a marriage proposal was made and that's that.

Except there's that pesky problem of Ruth's current marriage. So Julien hires a lawyer to get Jonny to sign a divorce agreement in exchange for $25,000. Samantha demands that he doesn't and tells him that Ruth is in Las Vegas and there's a chance she can get her back for him. But Jonny does, and he takes the money and uses it to get to Las Vegas.

The next night Julien and Ruth go to the same church and priest where Julien went a few nights prior. Before entering a call turns them around and there's Jonny with a gun and a whack of accusations. After all the initial yelling, he shoots Julien but Ruth steps in front of him. Samantha arrives to see all this.

A bystander calls 911, and while Jonny and Samantha are saying that it'll be here to save her, Julien knows otherwise. Ruth begs him to save her, and in the process of him trying to change her, she dies. Samantha arrests Jonny for murder, though it was an accidental murder, and arrests Julien for "crimes against humanity." The crime being trying to make someone into a vamp and is punishable by beheading.

Vampire criminals are kept in special cells and are given blood every once in a while just to be kept alive. And the blood isn't good; it comes from a blood bank and is stale. But Julien refuses all blood. One night when Samantha is in there with him, he talks about all his guilt, especially ruining Ruth's life and that he doesn't take the blood because he doesn't deserve to live.

The next night: Samantha goes to see him, calls out, but the cell is empty. So she slowly walks in, gun drawn..."As she did so, the form that had once been Julien René Durant collapsed upon itself in a cloud of dust until all that remained was a pile of ashes amongst a prison-issue grey jumpsuit.
She sighed. Never before had she witnessed a vampire starvation. She had not thought it even possible until now. Laughing to herself, she said, "He had the will after all..."
As she turned to leave, she wondered if she should have told him the truth--Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan survived."

AND THAT'S HOW IT ENDED. That, what you just read above, WAS THE LAST LINE OF THE BOOK.

Before I talk about what I liked and disliked, I'm gonna go on about the ending. Oh boy...well first there's a prologue that takes place later. Of course when I read it the first time I was clueless as to what's happening. After the book was finished, I went back to read it again. It's in Julinen's POV and takes place when he's in the jail cell. He thinks about Ruth and how he loves her and regrets her, and how she's the reason he won't drink. A) he wants to starve and B) the last blood he had was hers and he doesn't want to drink this utter stranger's stale blood; he said he wanted her blood to be the last thing he tasted. And more importantly he thought about her death. Needless to say, it is depressing.

Although the ending is dramatic, it's really unnecessary. Think about it. Ruth jumped in front of a vampire to protect him from a human gun. Um. HE WON'T DIE. She died for nothing! And then we get into the arresting of Julien. And Samantha says she arrests and kills a lot of vampires. How? She's a measly human while they're powerful immortals. I don't see how any of this really works. And it's not like she uses a special weapon on them. She just arrests them plain and simple. Cause I'm sure that's accurate... Uh huh.

While the ending is terrible, I applaud Bissel for being unique. How many paranormal romances end on a tragedy? There was only one other book I have ever read that ended with the vampire making her leave, and I cried. But at least there wasn't death and guilt thrown around left and right. Of course, we can all draw the similarities between this and Romeo and Juliet. So while I say this ending is unique, yes it is like R&J, but R&J is so commonly known for it. But how many people nowadays use that in their books?

And of course no book would be complete without the suicidal vampire. It was quite interesting actually. All the guilt, topped off with how he "ruined" Ruth's life, drove him to suicide. A nice parallel in a way, since all the prostitutes he's killed, he made it look like suicide.

And then we learn that Ruth lived! Now since the book is so open ended, we can assume that the vampire venom finally made it through her system and she's now one. But what if it didn't? What if the medics got to her in time and managed to save her? Which I find unlikely since the venom is in her system.... Anyway, sucks for Ruth. She wakes up as an immortal to find her ex-husband in jail for her murder and her vampire lover and would-be husband a pile of dust. Immortality just got lonely for her. I'm still having trouble processing why Julien was arrested. Yes, he was trying to inflict vampirism on a human, but at her request and he was trying to save her life! Sucks for Jonny though; tried to kill a vamp and accidentally shot his ex-wife.

Speaking of Jonny, what's up with his case now? He was arrested for her murder...but she's not dead (in a way). But he'd still do jail time because he almost did? Because he was the one still wielding that gun. Maybe? I don't know.

We just have to make the ending to this modern, paranormal version of Romeo and Juliet. Bissel says that in the future there is a chance for a sequel. Do I want to read this? Not really. Will I? Probably. My curiosity will drive me to it. I'm wondering what it'll be about. Ruth after she wakes. There's only two ways I really see that ending: suicide or a reconciliation with her abusive ex. Right before Jonny signs the divorce papers, we get flashbacks in his perspective of when he met Ruth and their life afterwards. He seems like he really did love her, and now that she's gone with their unborn child (because he doesn't find out the baby is gone until her before he shoots the gun) he realizes how wrong he was to her this whole time. So would that play out in the sequel? I can see Ruth doing this.

So while the ending is upsetting, it's also very unexpected. Lots of mixed feelings. So now what I liked and disliked about this book (other than the ending).

What I disliked:
~I couldn't fully connect to the characters. Though we got a background on all them, it was written in a way we couldn't emotionally attach. Instead of the story being in color for me; it's in black and white.
~Ruth's name. Mary, as her real name, Ruth as the one she goes by. Both are boring. And her full name is just long.
~The descriptions weren't the best to non existent. There was a lot of telling when it came to emotions and descriptions. And other times, I had a hard time getting a clear image of the characters, the scene, and the setting.
~Everything seemed to happen too fast. The book is kinda short, though, so that could be the reason.
~The realism in this book is not good at all. A book needs to be realistic through its characters and plot. And yes, although this is a paranormal, it can be realistic. I've read fantasies that are realistic. Again this is all in the characterization and plot points (other than the made-up creatures and/or places, of course.) Everything just seemed too easy for the characters (until the end)

What I liked:
~The start of the book. It starts out with Julien hunting, and it's really interesting reading it. I found it to be a really good hooking scene. (And the word "hooking" is not supposed to be a pun on the girls he picked up. Haha.)
~Despite everything, I liked the romance that developed between the two of them. It was cute.
~The spelling of Julien and Jonny's name. Common names but unusual spellings.

Overall, my feelings on this are eh. It was a cute book, the writing wasn't terrible, the plot was okay to say the least, my enjoyment level was just under the midway point. Despite the bad, I was hoping the couple would end up together. But will it be a book I reread? No. But while reading, there is this pull that the book has that makes you continue reading it. Halfway through, when I was still feeling meh about it, I couldn't not put it down.

Do I suggest this book? Probably not. Do I suggest it to people looking for a cute romance? Hell no! But I do suggest it to people who want to read an ending where the couple does not end up together.

And that's all the word vomit I have for this book. I think.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sexy Trolls!

This book blew my breath away!

Author: Danielle Jensen
Series: The Malediction trilogy
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Political
Rating: 5 stars

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Don't mind the crappy pitch. It really doesn't do the book justice and is a little misleading. It makes it seem very Mary-Sue and only about destinies and prophecies. But the title makes complete sense as you read.

I found myself really drawn into every aspect of Stolen Songbird. First, the overall plot and idea of it. The fantasy aspect of the novel is trolls. Right away, I knew it'd be at least decent. Because, really, how many YA books (or any books really) that are about trolls? Not many. I read one other series, the Trylle trilogy, which is fantastic! It too is about trolls, but in that case,the troll community has a lot of similarities to fairies. So while it was different, it seemed almost like another fairy series. (Nonetheless, they're really good.) Versus Stolen Songbird's trolls actually seeming like trolls. Personality wise mostly. But that isn't to say that Jensen made the trolls to be typically gorgeous. A lot of them have mangled faces, or other features that make them look ugly. Or the queen having her sister attached to her at the back in a miniature form. (No worries, I didn't get it either.) They also have magic in them--the royals more than any, which is why they are royalty.

From page one, the entire plot drew me in. First, Cecily is kidnapped by someone she once believed to be a friend. He endangers her, drags her through hell, gives her to a man with a mangled face, only to find out that trolls are very much real and the king paid her "friend" to bring her in. (Don't be alarmed. Later in the book we see what happens to him. hah) All to be "bonded" with the prince, Tristan. Which is a much more intense version of marriage. They know each other's feelings now, and if one dies, the other has a high potential to. When one half of the bonding dies, the other will find every way imaginable to kill him/herself--drowning, starving themselves, ect. The magic in the bond drives them to despair. So she's bonded to this total stranger who pretty much hates her because all trolls hate humans; half human half trolls are plain useless and are made servants.

I see all of you rolling your eyes at this...stop! I swear this book is really good.

And then Cecily learns the reason that she was brought there: there is a prophecy about a girl (her) who once bonded to the crown prince, she will break the curse laid on them by a witch thousands of years ago. The curse puts their community under a mountain away from humans.

As the plot continues, we are introduced to the deeper story within this. Tristan isn't just some prince; he's the leader of a group of trolls who wants the king brought down, the hatred of humans to cease and for the mountain to stay in place. Bringing down the mountain would unleash the trolls on humans. So while Tristan is secretly happy that Cecily wasn't able to break the curse, he acts like he is upset.

In the midst of this, the romance between Tristan and Cecily develops in a nice way. It goes from dislike, to a sort of friendship where they learn to trust each other after Cecily learns the truth, to eventual love. Once it hits that part, you can not help but adore the two together. During the last few chapters, when Cecily is in danger of dying, readers really get a glimpse of the love Tristan has for her. It made me tear up because it was so sad but cute at the same time. Unlike a lot of books, though the bulk of the book is told in Cecily's POV, there are a few chapters in Tristan's. Through his voice, we get to see how he goes from dislike, while needing her to be safe, to caring for her deeply.

I really enjoyed the characterization of Tristan and Cecily. While a lot protagonists in YA books are all oh-my-poor-me!, Cecily wasn't. She fought them, tried to escape their world every time there was an opening, she didn't fall in love with Tristan at the drop of a hat. It was a nice progression. While Tristan seems like just some hot, spoiled prince who acts cocky, arrogant and rude, he is much more. Tristan can't be explained in words; he needs to be read to get the full effect.

The curse, the intrigue, the world- building, and the characters were all well done. If you love fantasies, romance, and political intrigue, then you really need to read this book.

*impatiently waits for book two*

Excuse the horrible way of me writing a review. It's more or less word vomit about the book--but it gets the point across.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

First Review!

So first post! This is about a book I read months ago and still haven't been able to stop thinking about.

Author: Shay Savage
Series: none
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi
Rating: 5 stars

It’s said that women and men are from two different planets when it comes to communication, but how can they overcome the obstacles of prehistoric times when one of them simply doesn’t have the ability to comprehend language?

Ehd’s a caveman living on his own in a harsh wilderness. He’s strong and intelligent, but completely alone. When he finds a beautiful young woman in his pit trap, it’s obvious to him that she is meant to be his mate. He doesn’t know where she came from; she’s wearing some pretty odd clothing, and she makes a lot of noises with her mouth that give him a headache. Still, he’s determined to fulfill his purpose in life – provide for her, protect her, and put a baby in her.

Elizabeth doesn’t know where she is or exactly how she got there. She’s confused and distressed by her predicament, and there’s a caveman hauling her back to his cavehome. She’s not at all interested in Ehd’s primitive advances, and she just can’t seem to get him to listen. No matter what she tries, getting her point across to this primitive, but beautiful, man is a constant – and often hilarious – struggle. 

With only each other for company, they must rely on one another to fight the dangers of the wild and prepare for the winter months. As they struggle to coexist, theirs becomes a love story that transcends language and time.

When I first found this book, I was immediately intrigued. And then upon starting it, I was sucked in since word one. I especially liked the idea that the book is narrated by End, the caveman, and not the girl. It was a refreshing change with today's literature. Especially because it being told in Ehd's point of view, we'd assume the thoughts go only as far as "oh, lookie rock!" and "me hurt." But no, it's complete thoughts, though a lot of his thoughts are the opposite of modern.

And then as I got farther, though I was enjoying the novel, my head was swirling with these nagging thoughts: How exactly did the girl, Elizabeth aka Beh get there? And what exactly is the plot. The whole book is mostly about Ehd trying to get Beh to be his mate. And then once she accepted him, he focused only on getting her pregnant. Not much of a plot, right?

What is good about this, is that it is accurate. It's what prehistoric people did. But still.

Then after completing the book, I realized something. The book does have an actual plot. In the beginning, we learn that Edh's tribe was all killed, and he's spent years alone. When he finds the pretty girl, he immediately claims her as is--he wants a family. The main focus of the story is Edh creating a new family, and then his life with them. And the journey of him doing so is so sweet and heartbreaking at times.

And then the ending...oh the feels. At times it got a tad confusing to keep track of because when Ehd and Beh finds a tribe, all these new names are being thrown around, and they all sound similar to each other. Plus it jumps around through the years a bit, so you definitely have to keep track.

And then (and this is where I cried) (sobbed is more like it) the last couple of pages happened. It shows them being old, and then they leave the tribe to go off together to die. This was the saddest and sweetest thing I read in a while. One, I adore that they met when they were, what, teens? And the whole book took you through their lives, all the way to death. Two, it was better in my opinion, though much sadder, that the author didn't just end the book when they found a tribe and go ta da! They're happy. They're together. And then we as readers get to fill in the blanks. No. The author provided us with a nice ending about all their children having lives of their own, and Edh and Beh's death. Three, I loved that they didn't just die in their cave, that they went back to their original cave where he used to live alone, and laid down in their bed. It was heartbreakingly adorable and will make your soul die, but my goodness, it's so right for the novel. In addition, Beh died before Edh. A few chapters prior, Edh even stated that he didn't want to have the pain of her death if she went first, but he would rather bear it then she have to bear the pain of his death. And this did happen, even though their deaths were moments apart. One last kiss, she's gone. One last sob from him, he's gone. Curled up together forever.

The journey of him being alone to him growing old with the girl he found and came to love is the all time best.

As for the epilogue, I thought it was so cool how the author waited all the way till the end to tell us how Beh got to past times. It was nice reading the part where Beh fist saw him in her own words.

But this epilogue also made my head spin. The fact that Elizabeth's own mother was the one who found their bones, and Elizabeth herself saw the images. So in a way, Elizabeth was looking at images of herself millions? billions? years ago. Huh? Also if Elizabeth herself went back in time, ended up staying, living and dying there how was she even created? Because technically she was born, went back a millennium, died there...and then a millennium later she is born.

I still think about this slip up constantly. I'm not sure if I'm just over thinking this, or did Savage assume no one would catch this, or did she herself not even realize this?

After reading this, I told my mom and one of my sisters that I just read a whole novel told in a caveman's POV with, like, twenty lines max of dialogue. And that's pushing it. My mom thought it was cool, but my sister was so confused how I'd be amused by this.

No matter what, no matter the confusing parts, or the repetitive parts, I ended up loving this book. Five stars all the way. The only thing I really hate is that my soul is crushed now. It was a beautiful but sad book, and will definitely be one day reread. (When I'm able to stop crying.) (And yes, months later, I am still crying.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello all!!

Welcome to Tangled Up in a Book (inspired by Disney's Tangled), a blog where I review books. This is my first time blogging, but hey, why not, right?

I'll mostly review any new books I read, but I'll probably go back to my bookshelf and pick a book to review once in a while.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I'll post often enough.
Thanks! *crawls back into a hole*