Book Review: Girl Meets Underworld by Jess Watkins

Girl Meets Underworld Title: Girl Meets Underworld

Author: Jess Watkins

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars

Blurb: Having lost her mother and brother, Stella stands on the roof of her building, about to jump. She is stopped by a handsome young man, who jumps first. Somehow, he survives and Stella soon discovers that Conner holds a dark secret and more than a passing connection to her own unhappiness.

But Conner isn’t the only man to take an interest in Stella. Will is dangerous. He has mood swings, a crazy older brother and the ability to heal abnormally quickly. Stella knows what Conner is, but what exactly is Will – and why does he appear to know more about Conner than she does?

My Review: I have the feeling that I’m going to struggle a bit with this review. After all, I have a lot to say. I hope you guys will bare with me and give me the opportunity to extensively review Girl Meets Underworld. There will be spoilers and very strong opinions.

Girl Meets Underworld is a book that the blurb does not at all prepare you for. But allow me to paint an accurate picture- if you can picture a world where Twilight meets the Vampire Diaries you would be golden. Bella- oops, I mean Stella is a girl ignorant to the supernatural world. She stands on her buildings roof in the hopes of committing suicide after severe bouts of depression due to having lost her family. Some dude magically appears and talks her down, Conner. Yes, he is a vampire. But let me not leave out any spoilers– there’s also Will, the unstable werewolf that completes this love triangle.

There is a very long list of things I do not like about this book. Even from the beginning. I did, however, keep to it. I didn’t read any reviews but this book has an overall 4 Star rating. That’s pretty good in my book. So I kept at it, hoping it would get better. And it kinda paid off because at times it did in fact get better. Well that enjoyment never lasted long and I ended the book with a red forehead from all of these face-palms and an undeniable frustration over cliches and stupid characters.

Hmm… Which to take on first? Cliches or stupid characters? It’s a tough one to decide on…. I don’t want to run out of steam or anger on one topic… Hmm.. Well, I guess we’ll start off with cliches. Try and leave the best for last…

The world of cliches was revealed very slowly to me. From one overused concept to another. For a fan of the supernatural, I’ve read plenty of books dealing with vampires and was sorely disappointed with the lack of originality. Well, here is my list of overall vampire cliches:

1. Vampires have to be invited in
2. Sleep during the day
3. Can be killed with a wooden stake to the heart
4. Turn to ashes when they die

Now, all you fans of the supernatural, tell me if any of these sound familiar. And please, don’t be shy to calling them out as you spot em.

1. Vampires finding the smell of werewolves repulsive.
2. In order to become a vampire, you need to die with their blood in your system.
3. Humans fearing vampires. Oh, wait a minute. That actually sounds legit. I mean, why shouldn’t prey fear their predators? Oh, but wait, that sounds good until its followed up by this: “You’re right, it’s not normal for someone like me to do these things, but I don’t like being what I am. You make me feel human. Being with you makes me feel more like myself. I enjoy spending time with you. That’s all.”

Ok, enough on cliches. As previously mentioned, Stella is in a love triangle between a vampire and a werewolf. This alone screamed Twilight to me but as I kept reading the lack of originality in this triangle seemed to stop here and then simply becomes a confused tangle of words and plot progression. Let me explain. Conner, was very Edward like- all gallant and attractive and thoughtful. Definitely worth the swooning- after a point. Enter Will the werewolf and I assume readers all united to scratch their heads. I was left confused and wondering how in the world this even happened. I quite literally flipped pages back and forth to make sure I didn’t miss something or accidentally skip pages.

Will, is introduced as a clueless and insensitive teen. You know what they say about first impressions? Well, this saying was lost on Stella who gave him a chance to make up for his screw up. This chance turns into a date that ends badly. Not to bore you all to death I’ll get to it. Stella takes the majority of the book to figure out what he was but in this time Will is abusive and injures her. Is a bit of a stalker and doesn’t know when to back off. Goes into full molester mode and doesn’t understand the meaning of no. Boy was I fuming when Stella kept giving him chance after chance and creating one excuse after another for him. With that being said, I think you can appreciate my confusion when out of nowhere she claims to *wait for it* love him. I mean this a dude that repeatedly molested her, physically hurt her and doesn’t stay away even when she asks him to. Mind you, this a first person narrative. One you would think would allow insight into such a declaration. Nope. None was offered and I’m still confused about it.

*Cue Twilight Theme Music* Now before what we assume is going to be an epic battle between the two races, Stella has to make her choice, Will or Conner. She, much like one whose name rhymes with Stella, struggles with the decision, until of course, she realizes there was never any question. It easily went to the one she loved the most, the one who she knew deep down in her gut was the one for her. Yes, the vampire.

Stella frustrated me to no end. Overall, I had trouble connecting with her. I didn’t understand her reasoning and whenever she started to win me over- with her action and words, there would then be something that shot that all to hell. If were to be extremely honest and calling things by their names, I would tell you that the reason I found her so frustrating was because I found her to be stupid and her reactions and emotions unrealistic.

I could continue this review by expressing my unhappiness with the various inconsistencies I found throughout the novel. This rant would include how her father changed from caring and loving to aggressive, cruel and abusive in the blink of an eye. Or I can go on about how vampires supposedly heal instantly unless of course you are Conner. What the hell? I really have no clue what the distinction is that made this situation different but it took Conner days to heal and I didn’t get it. But then again I’m not going to go into those things. I’m going to end my review with these final words.

Frustrated as crap, I read the book. Now, as I was writing this review I read all of my notes and can’t help but laugh. Laughing, I suddenly realize that I should be mourning the hours of my life wasted on this book. While I feel that suggesting this book not be read is pretty cruel, I would warn that you proceed at you own risk.

*I received a free copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review

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Book Review: Walking in the Shadows

walking in the shadowsTitle: Walking in the Shadows

Author: Cassandra Giovanni

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Blurb: Seconds seem like a lifetime when the life you lived is slowly drained out of you by those who care not what you felt, hoped, or dreamed. When the darkness comes it is all-consuming; there is no light and there is no pain. It is the never-ending loss of hope that now consumes me as I die in his arms.

This is Abigail Martin’s nightmare. After her parents become the first victims of a serial killer obsessed with the vampire saga, “Crimson Reign,” Abigail does the only thing that she thinks will save her from her parent’s fate–she becomes some one else. As Vera MacIntrye, she falls in love with the very handsome Tad Knightley, and then walks into her first day at her new school to see him standing at the front of the classroom. He’s every teenage girls fantasy, but as he writes “Mr. Knightley: AP British Literature” across the white board Vera realizes the one person who filled the gaping hole in her heart will soon rip it wide open again.

Vera struggles to adjust to being a ‘normal’ teenager with very adult responsibilities like paying the rent, buying groceries and making sure that lights stay on, while being drawn time and time again back to her off-limits teacher. What’s worse is he is drawn to her too, and their worlds refuse to stay apart when Tad finds Vera screaming in terror in the parking lot after the winter formal. The murderer has struck again and is getting closer to the next target–Vera. Tad will do whatever he can to save her, even if it means losing his dream job, but will it be enough when the murderer is closer than anyone ever thought?

My Review: Imagine walking in to your Lit class the first day of your senior year and seeing your boyfriend teaching the class… So that’s exactly how Walking in the Shadows starts. Yep, Giovanni definitely caught my attention with that intro.

Vera, the main character, is someone with a very traumatic past. She is independent and strong. She is also closed off and hardly let’s anyone in. She is drowning in secrets and protects herself and those she cares about by not revealing them. Yet when her past starts to catch up to her she is forced to confide in someone and it is at this point that the story gets even better.

Tad is living out his dream as a British Lit high school teacher. He is smart, protective and very much in love with Vera. He is put in a position where he has to decide what matters more to him: Vera or the job of his dreams.

I love the theme of forbidden love and Giovanni does it very well. Tad and Vera are head over heels for each other but with her being a high school student and he her teacher, the risk of being together is always hanging over their heads. Yet their romance was very sweet and I enjoyed it.

Now for the negative: Have you guys read the blurb? The last line if the blurb states will it be enough when the murderer is closer than anyone ever thought? This line left me in suspicion. That’s right, it made me suspicious of every character and it took away from the novel for me.

Also Vera, I found, was a strong character. She was dealing with a lot of problems and a lot of emotions but she found a way to hold it all together. I found her to be brave and smart and headstrong. However, at some point in the book she starts to unravel. Honestly, I found her weakness at the time to be reasonable. Yet it took away from the novel for me. After all, what I enjoyed most about her character was her strength. I dislike weak characters and once her strength started to shatter, I tended to get really frustrated with the book. I have a whole shelf on Goodreads dedicated to books like this- “cringe inducing”. It is mostly reserved for novels with weak and needy protagonists. And although this faze did not last long for her, it took the book out of the 5 star range.

Even with that, there is something about this novel that really got to me. It may have been the beautiful romance or Giovanni’s take on modern vampires. It was a good read with its action, suspense and drama. Walking in the Shadows is unique and a book I enjoyed reading.

*I received a free copy of this nil in exchange for an honest review

Book Review: Covet

Title: Covet (The Clann #2)

Author: Melissa Darnell

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Blurb: Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart. Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she’s becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can’t believe Sav won’t even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don’t expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming… and not everyone will survive.

My Review: In essence Covet is the same as Crave. It is about forbidden love, friendship, family and playing the cards you are dealt in life.

This novel begins with Savannah returning from Paris with Tristan. Tristan is still unaware of the promise she made to the vampire council. The Clann is going crazy trying to find him and kidnapped Savannah’s grandmother in the hopes of finding his whereabouts. When they reach the Circle where her Nanna is being held hostage, Savannah once again promises to stay away from Tristan- this time with him hearing it.

Although the story is once again told in switching POVs, the first half of the book it is mostly Savannah’s narrating. I gotta say this made the book so emotional for me. Boy did this book bring on the waterworks. Savannah experiences so much loss and her narrations are so real and honest that the reader is riding this emotional roller coaster along with her. I love how easy Darnell makes it for the reader to connect with her characters.

We also get to met some new characters and see a lot of character development. This also includes us leaning people’s motivations… Um, like Dylan- He’s always been such a douche. In Covet your opinion of him will not change, after everything, he is still a douche. But with the insight Darnell provides you begin to sympathize with him. We learn what his motivations are and why he is the way he is. Then there is Savannah. Man do I love how much stronger and independent she becomes in this book. She also learns to forgive herself and to live with her mistakes. After the death of one of her loved ones, I was hoping with all of my might that Savannah would rebel- in a kind of F*** everyone kind of way. But thankfully she is smarted than me and rebels in the awesomest way possible. So guys are you ready for this **SPOILER**? Savannah learns to wield magic. It leads to the most amazing showdown and I loved every word of it.

One thing I did not completely appreciate is Darnell use of foreshadowing. She does it in such a way that made a lot of potentially amazing plot twists become transparently obvious. I think it would have enjoyed it more if she used the element of surprise more.

With all that being said, I gotta say I have no clue what to expect in the sequel. Covet ended in a way I wasn’t expecting and it has the potential to make or break the romance between these star crossed lovers. Because although Savannah turned out to be a woman of her word, Darnell still finds a way for this novel to still be about them and in a way romantic. In the yearning and ‘I love you but can’t have you’ kind of way.

I believe Covet is a great sequel. It is emotional, romantic and nearly impossible to put down. I enjoyed the action and am left with nothing but curiosity for it’s sequel.

*I want to thank HarlequinTEEN for providing me this ARC.

Book Review: Crave

Title: Crave (The Clann #1)

Author: Melissa Darnell

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Blurb: Savannah Colbert has never known why she’s so hated by the kids of the Clann. Nor can she deny her instinct to get close to Clann golden boy Tristan Coleman. Especially when she recovers from a strange illness and the attraction becomes nearly irresistible. It’s as if he’s a magnet, pulling her gaze, her thoughts, even her dreams. Her family has warned her to have nothing to do with him, or any members of the Clann. But when Tristan is suddenly everywhere she goes, Savannah fears she’s destined to fail.

For years, Tristan has been forbidden to even speak to Savannah Colbert. Then Savannah disappears from school for a week and comes back…different, and suddenly he can’t stay away. Boys seem intoxicated just from looking at her. His own family becomes stricter than ever. And Tristan has to fight his own urge to protect her, to be near her no matter the consequences….

My Review: Crave is a modern day Romeo and Juliet but with a twist. Savannah and Tristan were best friends when they were younger and although banned from seeing one another they haven’t been able to forget each other. Fast forward to their high school freshman year. As the blurb says, Savannah gets sick and comes back basically being irresistible. Every guy is looking at her with new eyes and Tristan finds himself wanting her even more. And this is the book for a while. They each want each other but are both trying to stick to the rules their families have set for them.

Clearly this book is about Tristan and Savannah and the reader is just waiting for them to get together- which eventually they do. Although this is a great read it does get a little tiresome at some points. The book spans over a year and at times I wished it had a bit of a faster pace. However, I can’t deny that Darnell does a great job setting up the story and allowing the reader to get to really know the characters.

I love the romance in Crave. It is beautiful and heart warming. Tristan is the perfect gentleman. He’s also handsome, thoughtful, caring, protective and so swoon worthy. He’s a character that is easy to fall for and believe me, fall for him you will. Darnell tells the story from both Tristan and Savannah’s POV and it made me enjoy the book a lot more; To have that full understanding of them and their intentions.

Crave also tends to be suspenseful. Apparently these two are in more danger than they ever realized. With Savannah being a vampire and Tristan a witch they are forbidden from loving each other. They soon realize that in being together they risk ending the tentative peace these two species have and risk starting a war. I don’t think Romeo and Juliet had anything on these star crossed lovers. Especially when Savannah can drain him with a kiss.

I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to it’s sequel. This is one I recommend.

Book Review: My Vampire Summer

Title: My Vampire Summer

Author: Elle Casey

Rating: 2 of 5 Stars

Blurb: My Vampire Summer, a novella, the first novella in a series of four … Reserved bookworm Iona Candella and her best friend, wildchild Cheri Blake, are spending the summer before college in a small medieval town in France. Iona plans to spend the time reading 100 books on her Kindle and Cheri plans to spend it interfering in Iona’s book reading/hibernation plan and finding gorgeous French boyfriends to help them pass the time instead. Both of them get more than they bargained for or even imagined. Ancient curses, haunted castle ruins, crypts protected by supernatural serpents. My Vampire Summer is a veritable YA Fantasy banquet, all in a novella-sized package.

My Review: This is not a bad book. Casey is known for capturing the reader’s attention and easily does this in My Vampire Summer. However, I simply feel this book was not for me.

About the book: Iona is the main character, which by the way, I love her name. She goes to vacation in France with her mother the summer after her high school graduation. Her BFF Cheri also comes along and I’m not too sure how I feel about her. She has the best intentions but she is truly rough around the edges in my opinion. Her way of approaching things and her obnoxious attitude tended to grate on my nerves. But then she is such a persistently good friend that I couldn’t stay mad at her for too long. Ahem… I see I got side tracked- Back to my synopsis. Cheri goes to France with the idea of finding herself a summer romance and Iona goes in love with her Kindle and hopes to do nothing more than sit around and meet her goal of reading at least 50 books over the summer. However, it turns out that they get more than they bargained for when a series of events leads to Iona breaking down and entering an alternate reality from her padded cell in a mental institution. Haha… Just kidding. Sort of. Iona finds herself in a situation she’s only read about in novels and yep you guessed it: Vampires. She deals with it by convincing herself that she’s lost her marbles.

I have to say… This novella was not at all what I expected. I have come to find that Casey has a very unique voice and when she writes I instantly recognize her. With My Vampire Summer…. This was not at all the case. Overall this book is about friendship, innocence, love and romance. Not really a bad read. Just not for me. It reminded me a bit (or a lot) of Vampire Kisses. Like the School Library Journal said in its review of Vampire Kisses “All in all, a good read for those who want a vampire love story without the gore.” Well this statement also coincides with My Vampire Summer. I therefore definitely recommend this read to fans of Vampire Kisses, you will love this novella.

My issue with My Vampire Summer is that I found it a little too juvenile for me. It makes me think I may  need to recategorize my genre from YA to mature YA. I feel as if it was intended for a younger audience and I found myself not connecting with the characters. There was however lots of mystery and intrigue. I might read the sequel to give this series another shot and to uncover some of it’s mystery.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.