Precious Blood – Tonya Hurley

Precious Blood – Tonya Hurley

16280666From the author of the New York Times bestselling ghostgirl series, the start to a dark and thrilling trilogy about three girls who become entangled with an enigmatic boy. Previously published as The Blessed.

What if martyrs and saints lived among us? And what if you were told you were one of them?

Meet Agnes, Cecilia, and Lucy. Three lost girls, each searching for something. But what they find is Beyond Belief.

I should have realized, after seeing that it was republished under a new name, that it was disappointing. But I didn’t, and now I’m mad.

I picked this book up because that cover was screaming at me, and I loved the synopsis: three saints reincarnated as modern-day girls? WHAT AN AMAZING CONCEPT.

It was terrible.

I went in expecting a V.C. Andrews-esque experience (where I’d be both appalled, but fascinated); instead, I got the trainwreck that was the last season of Gossip Girl (where nothing made sense and everyone was horrible).

For one, the story moved slower than a sloth. At first, I didn’t mind; I liked being introduced to the girls one-by-one (in a hospital ER over the course of one night), and thought it was a good way to get to know them. But then, after 50+ pages of them going about their lives, the girls have to meet each other, which took about 100 pages. And I didn’t like any of them enough to spend that much time with them individually. Lucy is a wannabe celebrity, Cecilia’s a struggle musician, and Agnes is a schoolgirl with all the strength of a ragdoll. Together, they’re catty and mean, and spent the majority of the book sniping at each other which got tiresome after a few chapters.

Meanwhile, their love interest, Sebastian (another saint!), has the personality of an empty gift bag – sure, he’s pretty to look at, but he has no substance. I couldn’t get a feel for him, and even by the end, I wasn’t sure if he was telling them the truth or if he actually was delusional (no, seriously – what happened at the end?). It was one of the worst cases of insta-love I’ve ever seen…and it wasn’t just one of the girls, it was all three of them! All three of them fell in love with him within seconds! I feel so blasphemous saying this, but at least if he was a reincarnated Jesus, I could understand why they followed him without questioning (sidenote: I’d probably read a YA novel about teenaged Jesus. My very Catholic dad would be horrified, but I’d give it a shot. Just sayin’.)

The writing also bothered me on a technical level. There were lots of broken/fragmented sentences that interrupted my reading; it would have been cool if she was writing in a more prose-like fashion (the way Bible passages are broken into verses within chapters), but then each sentence really should have had its own line without being smashed into one paragraph.

And oh my gosh, the dialogue tags. I’m normally a fan of creative dialogue tags (reading the word “said” over and over can get boring), but even I can admit they’re better in moderation. Especially when the dialogue tags make the characters seem even more unpleasant than they already are i.e. in this gem of an interaction:

“…you’re a murderer,” Jesse screeched…

“I could split your loser skull.” Sebastian grimaced.

The dialogue itself felt disingenuous for the most part, like her editor pointed out that no one had said anything in a while and so she forced a conversation instead of letting it flow naturally.

One thing I found interested was the amount of religious imagery and vocabulary that was used, especially before the girls are revealed to be reincarnated saints (which, by the way, happens 300 pages in, by which point I was skimming). As a Catholic, I got most of the references, though I still had to look a couple of things up, but I wonder how this reading experience differs for people who aren’t religious.

I could go on about all the things I didn’t like, but I’ll cut it short here. I will add, however, that they’re are a couple of chapters of graphic violence that felt so out of place, it was like reading a whole different book. It was the very definition of the phrase “that escalated quickly”, but instead of improving the story, it disgusted me. Spoiler alert: people get impaled with guitars and blood is EVERYWHERE and it’s so gross, I had this look on my face:

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So, even though I always feel bad about giving books a poor rating, I have to say it: this was a one star. It would probably be no stars, but I actually finished the thing instead of abandoning it, so kudos to Tonya Hurley for making me waste a few hours of my life.

Rating:

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ARC Review: Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles [DNF]

Becoming Darkness – Lindsay Francis Brambles

22095753Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune–a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness.

Lindsay Brambles’ debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis’ terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.

Release Date: October 1st, 2015

Thank you to NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

I thought I had written a review for this, but apparently I only wrote one on Goodreads? So I copied it here, in case, you were wondering how I felt about this book. Also, feel free to add me as a friend!

I gave up somewhere around page 350, then skimmed the last 10 pages to see if I was missing anything spectacular (I don’t think I did).

The Twilight vibes were too strong with this one (and not in a good way). I get that it’s set in 2004-ish, but that doesn’t mean it has to read like a book that was actually written/popular in 2004.

Loved the concept, and I thought it would be really interesting to explore that alternate world, but the plot focused so much on Sophie/Val and their creepy relationship, I kept forgetting they were even in an alternate future. And their romance wasn’t even hot enough for me to be okay with the lack of world-building especially since I spent most of the book wondering why she was okay with his past.

As sexist as it sounds, it is just me or are male authors not always the best when it comes to writing romance? I can think of more books-by-dudes where I felt nothing between the main characters than I can of books-by-ladies (I looking at you, Thomas Sniegoski).

Also, as other reviews have pointed out, it was a little odd that, in a book with its roots in WWII, there was no mention of a Jewish person until over 300 pages in.

I always feel terrible when I give up on a book (this is my first unfinished book this year!) because I know how much work goes into it, but I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I have a very large stack of books calling my name. No offense to anyone who loved this one :)

Rating:

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1.5 interrobangs at the most.


P.S. Don’t forget to enter this giveaway for an ebook of J.P. Grider’s Naked and Far From Home, courtesy of Xpresso Book Tours!