Book Review: Dead Girl Walking

review-cover-dead girl walking

Title: Dead Girl Walking [Royal Reaper 1]

Author: Ruth Silver

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I hate giving one-star reviews. I loathe it… but I simply could not get through this book. The cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was interesting, and I was excited when I picked up my ARC copy of Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver. Despite my predisposition towards reading YA novels on a regular basis, it did not take me long to realize that I was probably the worst possible reader choice when it came to picking up this book.

This book got a lot of 5-star reviews before it picked it up, so I was expecting a spectacular, in-depth read… but that isn’t what I got. I got a familiar read instead. The plot was uncomfortably similar to another series from a few years back (which just happens to be one of my favorite series), and while I hate to compare books (and so I will not name the series here), the two are remarkably alike. Both series contain a girl who by unfortunate circumstances is killed, and finds herself invited into the ranks of the reapers. Both have younger sisters of about the same age… both main characters chafe against the new rules of being reapers… both take on new identities and appearances… and unfortunately, their method of reaping, how they get their reaping notices, etc, is all nearly identical.  The difference, unfortunately for this novel, is that the older series thrives on it’s in-depth characterization, gripping drama, and world building. Dead Girl Walking contains none of that.

The main character, Ophelia, is entitled in a way that isn’t pleasant: she isn’t aware of how entitled she is. She takes her status in society and wealth as if it were normal, and despite her constant protests that she knows what it is like to be a commoner, she really has no clue. She holds no accountability for the danger she put herself in, the heartbreak she brought to her family, or the job of being a reaper. She’s barely been a reaper for a few hours, and after having the importance of her new job explained to her (and having signed a contract), she is flippant about her obligations. I found it incredibly difficult to relate to her, or even like her.

As she unraveled it, the scroll revealed her first reap. “Absolutely not.” She was not ready for this; she would never feel ready. She rolled the scroll up and shoved it back into her stocking. “It’s your lucky day, Asher Smoot. I’m not taking your soul.”

The other characters faired no better. Though I was given their names and genders, three chapters past their introduction, I still knew nothing about them. Not what they looked like, their ages, their personalities… nothing. Other than Ophelia/Leila, the cast of the book seemed to be present because Ophelia/Leila needed someone to bounce conversations and actions off of. They felt like stand-ins instead of real people. I was given no sense of their personalities, nor what they thought of the main character. They were just names on a page.

I managed to labor through the first quarter of this book, and to be honest, the story seemed to skim by on the bare minimum of content. The world-building is remarkably absent, and was set in a fantasy world for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Other than the fact that it provided the opportunity for the main character to be a princess and for everyone to run around in period clothing and ride horses… there was no lore to fill out the world. This story could have just as easily been placed in a contemporary setting, and with the exception of the main character becoming an Heiress instead of a Princess, there wouldn’t have been much of a difference.

The characters were 1-dimensional, and the descriptions of… well… anything really, are completely missing. Breaks in scenes were treated as if the story just went on from paragraph to paragraph, with no clear delineations of a change in time or location. Sometimes, characters actions seemed out of place or overblown for what was happening, and unfortunately, the reader is not privy to any of the in-head thought processes that would have served to help ground Ophelia’s actions in reality.

“Why can’t we get a carriage?” she fussed.

“Only the royal and wealthy have carriages, which neither of us are. You’ll learn to ride, just like the rest of us.” Violetta took off with Leila gripping her from behind.

Approaching the ocean, they slowed.

Thought this is marketed as a Young Adult novel, in the end, the writing was simplistic and bare-bones, and seemed more reminiscent of a Middle-Grade or children’s book rather than something marketed to teenagers. Though the narrative was grammatically correct and punctuated appropriately, it was written in the most basic of forms. It would probably make for an easy read, but seems almost as if it’s been dumbed down for an age range that doesn’t need to be talked down to. The premise of this book was good. There was a lot of promise in the synopsis and idea behind the story, but in the end, the story fell short of my expectations. In my opinion, the book was off the mark for it’s intended audience, and lacked substantial content. I really wish there had been more meat on the bones of the story…. more characterization, more personality, more description.

Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? Maybe for teenagers that don’t commonly read. The narrative style of this book is very simple and lacks the complexity an avid reader would enjoy. I’m sure there are many teens out there that may enjoy this book, but as someone who reads 100+ books a year, I found I had difficulty sinking in. I’ve read some amazing YA books this year that were full of complexity and characterization, and unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. I truly wish I’d loved this book more than I did. I don’t think it was written poorly, but perhaps not appropriately for it’s reader base. I didn’t find it as engaging as I’d hoped, and in the end, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Make sure your fan fiction is legal (or regret it later)

Some stories involve us so deeply that they can no longer be enjoyed passively: a character or setting grabs a reader in a way that only creation can satisfy. For these readers, writing fan fiction stories featuring pre-existing aspects of other works is a fantastic outlet for their creativity and their love of a particular story.

Fan fiction stories can be incredibly high quality, after all they’re labors of love written by people who possess an encyclopedic knowledge of stories that have already been proven to work. In fact, the quality is frequently high enough to sustain entire communities who share, appreciate, and write fan fiction.

The fly in the ointment is that fan fiction deals with legally protected works. By writing stories featuring someone else’s characters, fan fiction authors are treading on risky legal ground. This is doubly the case when they publish their work for others to enjoy.

So, in this article, I’ll provide some legal facts to help fan fiction authors stay out of trouble while they create, and work in harmony with the creators of their beloved source material.

read more via Make sure your fan fiction is legal (or regret it later).

What are your favorite book Genres?

 

Results will be used to better serve my reader base and make sure Free Fiction Fridays better exemplify the reading-tastes of my followers.

Book Review: Deluge

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Title: Deluge [River of Time 5]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fantasy

Rating: 4 (3.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It’s hard to qualify my feelings about Deluge by Lisa T. Bergren. Like its predecessors, the narrative was clean, easy to follow, and well written. There weren’t any noticeable editing problems, and the characters stayed true to previous characterizations. Also, just as with the previous novels in the series, the plot was filled with tension-filled battles, romantic moments, and tragedy.

The first half of the book passed by in a blur as I was sucked in to the chaotic world of Gabriella and Evangelia Bettarini’s adventures in the 1300’s. After the two novellas of Bourne & Tributary that made up book 4 of the series, I was glad to get back to a longer novel-length story, and Deluge didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t thrilled with the continuing of the POV switches between Lia and Gabi, but I grew used to the switching POV’s (even if I still hold that Lia and Gabi’s inner voices are extremely similar).

Unfortunately, the second half of the book was a bit harder for me to enjoy. There is a lot of tragedy and death in this book—far more than with the previous books in the series, and I’ll admit, it made it a little less enjoyable for me.  As interested as I was in the events taking place… as much as I wanted to know what would become of the Bettarinis and Forellis… by the time I hit the end of the book, I was ready for it to end. With the exception of the short epilogue (that frankly, felt needless to me) the ending of this story was not a happy one. It left me feeling somewhat depressed, and that made the novel hard to enjoy as a whole.  Don’t get me wrong – the book was good… but I don’t know that I can say that I enjoyed it. I really wish the story had picked up more in the end, and that it hadn’t been left hanging in the darkest of times for Lia and Gabi.

Overall, I’m glad I read it. It felt like a pretty solid ending to the River of Time series… but I don’t think it was the ending I was looking for to this wonderfully imaginative and thrilling series. The last quarter of the book sucked all the enjoyment out of it for me. Would I read it again? Maybe. There were some really great moments for Lia in particular that I’m glad I got to see. Would I recommend it? Sure. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, this is a solid end, and you’ll probably be glad you read it. I’m sure there are a vast amount of readers out there that will love this book far more than I did… it’s just that the weight of the tragedy held within the ending was a little much for me to slog through. What can I say? I prefer happy endings, and this wasn’t much of one. I still highly recommend the series, and I think the first three books in particular are remarkably well done. I’ve given this 4 stars because despite my feelings about the ending, the book was well done. I think given a day or two to get out of the depressed funk this book left me in, I’d probably give it a pretty solid 4, no question.

Book Review: Bourne & Tributary

review-cover-bourne and tributaryTitle: Bourne & Tributary [River of Time 4]

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Genre: Historical, Romance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

BOURNE, a novella, picks up right where TORRENT left off…Find out what has happened to men returning from the battle, gravely wounded, to the Betarrinis, fighting for the men they love, and just who is hunting them next…

TRIBUTARY, a novella, picks up a year after BOURNE… Lia struggles to overcome the fear that constant battle has heaped upon her; Gabi and Marcello face an unexpected crisis; and Lord Greco just may be ready to leave the grief and loss of his past behind him, so that he might grab hold of the future…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It’s a bit hard to qualify how I feel about Bourne & Tributary by Lisa T. Bergren. Unlike the previous three novels in the series, This, the fourth, is not a true novel, but an anthology containing two shorter novellas. Also, unlike the previous three novels, instead of following Gabi’s POV throughout the story, the viewpoints switch back and forth between a handful of characters, most notably Gabi’s younger sister, Lia.

On the one hand, it was interesting to see other POV’s this time around, and like the previous books, the writing was clear, easy to follow, and grammatically correct. On the other hand, I missed Gabi’s comfortable POV. I was used to Gabi, and being switched into different POV’s was a bit distracting. Unfortunately, Lia’s POV (which was the most often used) was extremely similar to that of Gabi’s. If I hadn’t know better, I would have thought them the same person… and that isn’t a good thing. I would have preferred the different viewpoints been more individual.

That aside, the stories were good, if short. Like the previous books in the series, Bourne & Tributary had elements of romance, adventure, and thrilling intrigue and battles. That said, I still wish there had been more to them. The conclusions to the stories seemed rushed, and I didn’t feel connected to any of the new viewpoints. In the end, the stories were so different than what I was used to with the previous novels that I found it hard to be drawn into the stories. The writing was good, the characters were my usual favorites… the elements of the story were there—but these two novellas didn’t draw me in. They didn’t feel like part of the series I’ve grown to love.

Overall, this was a decent addition to the River of Time series… but I could have done with out them. I wish this had been a true fourth book and not a set of novellas. They weren’t bad stories, but they weren’t what I was expecting, and in the end I didn’t like them as much as I’d hoped.  If you’ve been keeping up with this series, I’d certainly recommend that you give these novellas a look, but other than one major announcement, you aren’t going to miss anything by skipping them.