Review: The Dark Divine

June 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm (1 star, review) (, , , , , , , , , )

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

Pages: 372, hardcover

ISBN: 9781606840573

Publisher:  EgmontUSA

Release Date: December 22nd, 2009

Genre: YA / romance / paranormal / werewolves / bad romance

Source: library

Premise:

A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel’s returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul.

(Taken from Goodreads)

Buy it from: The Book Depository / Amazon

Warning: this is a very long and rant-filled review.

Let me just start off with this: I hate the cover. But that’s because I hate feet (they make me feel queasy). Especially the ones on the cover. Now I’m not normally one to nitpick on someone’s looks, but those feet look particularly yucky. Sorry, I’ll stop now.
Otherwise, the cover is pretty, with the purple fabric and the all around foreshadowing of doom and blackness.

The book starts off slow, and right from the beginning, I could tell that I was not going enjoy it that much. For starters there are some very deep Christian themes, and whilst I’m not against any religions, I’m not too much a fan of books that are heavily based on a certain religion, especially if the characters are stereotypical cut-outs. Example, Jude. He was so portrayed as such a good Christian, as such a gentle, sensitive and caring person (choosing not to play hockey because he doesn’t want to hurt any of the opposing players. PUH-LEASE!) that he no longer seems like a guy. He acts like a middle aged woman’s idealised version of the perfect gentleman. I was so glad to finally see him loosen up during the end of the book. He fights, he threatens and he no longer holds car doors open for ladies!! Hurrah, he’s finally manning up!
Even the rest of Grace’s family were incredibly annoying, and I just couldn’t stand them and the way they preached their Christian values. I think that was my main issue with the book and the characters and the themes: it was so preachy. It’s like Despain wanted me to convert. Ugh.
The only character I can find remotely interesting is Don, and that’s probably because, despite being insane, he’s the most well-crafted character. He actually acts like a real person. But it doesn’t make the book that much better.
Grace’s character, I didn’t really mind because she despite being incredibly annoying with her morals and with her goody-goody ways, she showed times of weakness. That provided some relief.
And, now for the character I hated the most: April, Grace’s supposed best friend. She seemed to have no purpose except to be the unsupportive friend, who spends the first half of the book pining over Jude, and the second half snogging him. As far as I could tell, she played no real part in the story, so I wonder why she was kept at all. She did nothing to further the plot, she was a bad best friend who ditched Grace the moment Jude showed any interest in her, and then she does nothing to improve Jude’s character growth, except by showing us that Jude loves kissing. Wow!
Another thing, the blurb on the back of my particular copy, written by Becca Fitzpatrick (author of Hush, Hush), described Daniel as a ‘bad boy’. I’m starting to question if Fitzpatrick actually knows anything about stereotypes, because she certainly does not know what a bad boy is. Daniel certainly isn’t a bad boy (and neither is Patch from her own novel). Daniel is instead overly confident, arrogant, smug, and suffers from horrible mood swings that make him agressive one minute, and cry whilst declaring his love for Grace (this actually happened) the next. He was more annoying than bad, and was incredibly hard to deciper. I found it difficult to feel sympathy for him and his past because of the way he portrayed himself.

Okay, that’s my character rant over and done with. Now, what was up with the font?!?I probably should have mentioned this earlier in the review, but it was completely bolded. Has anyone else who’s read this book noticed this or is it just my copy?
It was incredibly distracting, and made my eyes hurt a bit if I read it for too long. It was just frustrating having to take breaks every few minutes because of the headaches that the unnecessary boldness. Why not just have normal, unbolded font?

I really couldn’t stand the structure of the book, with all the subheadings that said things like (and I’m not lying here, this is taken right out of the book) “An hour and a half later” and “after lunch”, or simply, “later”. NO. JUST NO. One simply does not put that in books. Readers aren’t that dumb that they need that sort of indication to know that the next scene is occurring ‘later’. Instead of having a heading that states “The next morning”, Despain could have simply written: The next morning, Grace woke up. See? Simple and effective. The subheadings were a big indication of the poor writing skills. Not only that, but the sentence structure was off, nothing flowed well, the writing was not unlike that of a twelve year old girl who suddenly decides that she wants to write (nothing wrong with that, but such a girl would essentially improve with her writing as time progressed.)
Despain failed to properly engage me, her reader, and I felt bored and found myself skimming through the pages at some points. Her foreshadowing was poorly used, and the hints she dropped were far too obvious to be called hints. It took all the mystery from the novel.

Now, onto the main thing: the plot.
The paranormalcy happening in the book was confusing, tedious and obvious. It turned out that Daniel was a werewolf, but I guessed that in the first chapter, although, it felt as if Despain was trying to decide between creatures: angels, demons, werewolves (oh my!). It felt as if she couldn’t make up her mind about which creepy creature would work best for her novel, so she would constantly switch ideas, and when she finally decided on a combination of the three, and called it werewolves. It made her story look poor, unstructured, unorganised and as if no thought had gone into it.
There even came a part when she tried to infuse all these creatures to make one super-creature. That’s when I totally lost it and decided that I hated this book.

So, to sum this book up in one word: ATROCIOUS. Don’t read it, it’s of worse quality that Twilight. Even the romance in this book is worse than Twilight. It was a painful read. When I finally finished the book, I rejoiced and vowed not to read the next books in the series.

Cover Art: 2 (feet, UGH. This is just a personal issue, though)
Plot: 0 (what plot?)
Characters: 1
Writing: 0
Level of Interest: 1

Total Rating: 1/5

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Review: Swoon

March 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm (1 star, review) (, , , , , , , )

Swoon by Nina Malkin

Pages: 425, hardcover

ISBN: 9781416974345

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Date Released: May 19th, 2009

Genre: Young Adult / paranormal romance

Source: Library

Premise:

Torn from her native New York City and dumped in the land of cookie-cutter preps, Candice is resigned to accept her posh, dull fate. Nothing ever happens in Swoon, Connecticut…until Dice’s perfect, privileged cousin Penelope nearly dies in a fall from an old tree, and her spirit intertwines with that of a ghost. His name? Sinclair Youngblood Powers. His mission? Revenge. And while Pen is oblivious to the possession, Dice is all too aware of Sin. She’s intensely drawn to him — but not at all crazy about the havoc he’s wreaking. Determined to exorcise the demon, Dice accidentally sets Sin loose, gives him flesh, makes him formidable. Now she must destroy an even more potent — and irresistible — adversary, before the whole town succumbs to Sin’s will. Only trouble is, she’s in love with him.What do you do when the boy of your dreams is too bad to be true? (Taken from dustjacket)

First off, can I just say that the cover is absolutely gorgeous? I don’t know what it is that is just lovely, but I love it. It’s like the perfect cover for a YA paranormal romance. The cover was the only reason I got this book from the library. I only allow myself to borrow 5 books at a time, so it was a toss up between this and Lillith St.Crow’s Strange Angels. This only won because of the cover.

But apart from the cover, I wasn’t really impressed with the novel. I thought it’d actually be worth a read, I thought I’d actually really enjoy it. The premise of  the ghost of a boy possessing the body of a young girl’s cousin is incredibly intriguing. Moreso, when you know that the young girl falls for the ghost, it’s bound to be interesting. But all I was left with was disappointment.
The basic story started out great, when we were figuring things out, just learning about the plot. But as the novel progressed, I can’t say I was too convinced. All the oddities that had begun to happen, and their reasons for occuring were incredibly far fretched.

The characters, I hated. I hated all but one, Marsh, because she was the only ‘real’ character, as in, she had real problems to deal with. Dice was a terribly confusing character, and it was hard to keep up with her “I love Sin, but I have to do something to stop him” thoughts. One minute, she was proclaiming her love to him, the next, she was telling the audience how evil he is, and how she hated him for what he was doing to the town. It was also hard to keep up with the narration, as her thoughts flowed too quickly, and the pacing changed so often that it was hard to get a grasp of. Half the time, the narration made no sense, and I had to go back some pages to try to figure out what I had missed.
Pen, I liked her at the beginning, before she turned into a SLUT. She was a fairly loveable character, she had her quirks, and she was spunky enough. But then the author decided that this character would be better off attempting to have threesomes, giving peep shows to old men in a dirty bar, and even trying to seduce a married man to ruin his marriage. Wow, just wow.
And Sin, what can I say about him? Other than the fact that he is beyond frightening, and I cant see why Dice has fallen for him, nothing. He uses Dice to serve out revenge to the townsfolk of Swoon. He takes her cousin’s virginity, knowing that it’s devastating poor Dice. He is a sick, twisted, horrible guy. I don’t see what Dice sees in him. Also, for a guy born in 1751, his dialogue is frightfully modern. Way off.

Another thing that annoyed me was the overexcessive use of sex, drugs and booze. There were dozens of scenes where the characters are smoking joints, getting drunk, talking about sexual encounters, etc. Whilst I have no issue with those things in general, I’d prefer if they were actually relevant and actually progressed the story. They did nothing to the story. If anything, it showed that the author thinks that every teenager loves to have gratuitous sex, get drunk off their face and smoke copious amounts of dope, snort lines of coke and take ecstacy.
I found it offensive that such a view was so generalised within the teenage population within the novel. Not all teens get high. Not all of them have sex. Not all of them are only interested in getting ‘smashed’.

To conclude, I had high hopes for this novel, but found myself being extremely disappointed and revolted. It had potential, but Malkin ruined it with unnecessary sex and drugs and generalizing.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 1
Characters: 1
Writing: 1
Level of Interest: 1

Total Rating: 1/5

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Review: Original Sin

March 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm (1 star, review, Uncategorized) (, , )

Original Sin by Allison Brennan

Pages: 453, paperback

ISBN: 9781741668773

Publisher: Random House Australia

Date Released: February 10th, 2010

Genre/ themes: Paranormal romance / mystery / religion

Source: library

Premise:

Haunted by chilling memories of demonic possession and murder, Moira O’Donnell has spent seven years hunting down her mother, Fiona, whose command of black magic has granted her unprecedented control of the underworld. Now Moira’s global search has led her to a small Californian town that’s about to become hell on earth.

Tormented by his own terrifying past and driven by powers he can’t explain, ex-seminarian Rafe Cooper joins Moira’s dangerous quest. But Fiona is one devilish step ahead. Hungry for greater power, eternal youth, and stunning beauty, the sorceress is unleashing upon the mortal world the living incarnations of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Together with a demonologist, a tough female cop, and a pair of star-crossed teenagers, Moira and Rafe are humanity’s last chance to snatch salvation from the howling jaws of damnation. (Taken from blurb)

Okay, so I was incredibly excited to read this book. The basic idea of the Seven Deadly Sins is always and exciting one, but it can get tricky, what with the religious influences and all. And when encorporating religion into a book as a main theme, you have to be careful, because some people could get offended, and others, like me,  mightn’t be able to get into the story because they mightn’t be religious.

Usually, I have no qualms with reading books that make a character or two religious, but this novel  basically had the theme of “Christianity = good, magic = bad”, and that bothered me. It was uncomfortable the amount of negativity there was towards the whole Wicca movement. It was slightly unnerving that the evil characters were only evil because of their Wiccanism. Now, I’m not religious or anything, but I do find it unsettling when someone attacks a religion (or a movement/lifestyle, such as paganism and Wicca).
That aside, I did enjoy how the concept of the Seven deadly sins were used in terms of them being seven fallen angels that had gotten loose and need to be recaptured. Other than that, though, the story wasn’t particularly interesting.

Moira O’Donnell was a fairly annoying main character. There was just something about her that made me groan. She has this way of being so completely convinced that she’s right, and tries so hard in proving to others that she’s right, and they’re wrong, when really, half the time she has no idea what she’s on about, and depends on the knowledge of others, the knowledge that she so declares is wrong. It was just very hard to identify with her, especially when she was acting all snarky and sassy, even when faced with demons.
The other characters were no better. They seemed to be paper-thin, and completely lacking in personality. Moira’s mother, Fiona, is the antagonist, though she really has no motive for trying to achieve world-domination, apart from her being a witch (again with the magic=bad theme… Ugh).
The love interest, Rafe Cooper was rarely around, it seemed, and had next to no relevant part in the book, apart from being involved in a rather odd and uninspiring sex scene with Moira. I wasn’t impressed with the relationship between the two of them, they didn’t really seem to react to each other the way normal people do if they fancy someone. I don’t know, it just seems to me that the romance between them was fake and forced.

The writing made me squirm for the most part. It was written in such a simplistic manner that it was somewhat embarassing. The writing didn’t flow, which completely killed the climax of the novel. There was little description, but when it was used, it was over the top and usually unclear.
What annoyed me the most in this novel was the use of italics, which were used for something different each time they were used. From what I could tell, the italics switched from being thoughts to flashbacks, to what was happening at the same time in another place, and even dream sequences and visions. It was quite confusing and irritating. It caused me to reread most pages a few times just to grasp what was happening.

Overall, this book disappointed me. Three chapters (and an unnecessary prologue) in, and I was already having thoughts of just ditching the book. But, I forced myself to keep reading, mainly to see if it would improve. Unfortunately, it didn’t. A disappointing read, despite the interesting premise. I really don’t think that I’m going to check out the second book in the series, titled Carnal Sin, out sometime later this month.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 3
Characters: 1
Writing: 1
Level of Interest: 0

Total Rating: 1/5 stars

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Review: The Lovely Bones

January 20, 2011 at 6:52 pm (1 star, review) (, )

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Pages: 328 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-330-45772-9
Publisher:
Picador
Genre:
General/literary fiction
Where I got it from: bought
Premise:

When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in Heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn’t happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, Heaven, and living. (Taken from Goodreads)

This is without a doubt the worst book I have ever read. Each sentence left me in pain, it was impossible to keep reading. I literally had to read the book a paragraph at a time, with long breaks in between readings. It was that bad.

What bugged me the most was that the story was too flower-y, too purple. There were so many metaphors used that simply did not make sense, such as “Her pupils dilated, pulsing in and out like small, ferocious olives.” Now,  have no idea what ferocious olives look like, nor do I understand how her pupils could have pulsated without her having some sort of medical issue. Surely that isn’t right. And this novel is filled with phrases like that.
I can understand it that people like it because it’s somewhat artsy. Some aspects of Sebold’s writing was interesting, but mainly, the failed metaphors just made me cringe.

Another thing that annoyed me was how the author would mention one idea in paragraph one, then in paragraph two through to seven, talk about something only slightly relevant to the first paragraph, then go back to whatever the hell she was talking about in the first paragraph. It was hard to keep up with everything, it was all over the place and quite messy, to be honest.

Finally, what I hated the most was the storyline. I hate it. HATE HATE HATE. Major spoilers here, so don’t read on if you want to be surprised:

Susie posesses the body of her lesbian friend so that she could have a night of wild passion with a boy that she kissed eight years ago, when she was still alive. Instead of doing something productive, like you know, maybe telling him where her body was, which would help heaps with the case and ease her family’s pain and suffering. It seemed like a very horrible resolution, to have a girl who was raped and killed use her friend to have sex with a guy she had a single kiss with. I don’t know, I see that as rape towards the lesbian friend.
It really makes no sense. AND, it’s just plain offensive, I think.
And the entire novel is filled with plotholes that just don’t make any sense. Like, when her father realises that Mr Harvey killed Susie. He just has a hunch. No evidence, nothing. Just a hunch. And from that, he is so certain. Just ARGHHHH. I hate it.

I literally wanted to burn this book. Reading through it was the most painful experience ever. I mean, I hate being so harsh towards books, but this was just horrible. A shame, too, since I was so looking forward to it.

Cover: 2
Plot: 0
Characters: 2
Writing: 0 (If I could give negative ratings, I would)
Level of Interest: 1

Total Rating: 1/5

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