Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book review - Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

You all know I started blogging in Feb. because Janet Reid said you weren't ready to start approaching agents if you didn't have a "web presence." And then she dismissed Facebook friends because you have to be a FB member and be approved to access me...

So I got to work posting *stuff* every day that I thought my friends and family might enjoy in the hopes of building a following.

(Umm... side note, if you're one of those still enjoying my blog and haven't clicked on that little grey "follow" button right down there > > >, please feel free to do so now. I promise you won't get spammed.)

OK, so I'm blogging along, then reality set in. I realized that if I'm going to be a freelance writer for two publications, write books, research agents, and pretend to be a good wife, mother and friend, there was no flippin' way I'd be able to post every day.

So I cut it down to twice a week--Mondays and Thursdays.

Then I noticed something... Unfamiliar faces among my followers. (!) So I scurried over and checked out their blogs and from there I found others. And ultimately, through comments and email exchanges, I "met" other writers who now feel like friends.

It's weird. I told JRM it reminds me of the pioneer days when people could only communicate with letters. But it's also better because now we get to see pictures, read profiles, get daily or weekly (as opposed to monthly or yearly) updates...

So not only have I gotten to know my dear friends and family better, which is wonderful, I'm meeting writers from around the world. Yay--blogging wins!

Problem is now I really do need to get back to WIP before I completely lose the spirit of the book.

But I don't wanna leave! I want to keep reading your comments here and commenting back and then visiting all the blogs I've commented on and going back and re-commenting on the comments made to my comments...

Whoa! Where'd Thursday go?

All this to say, I'm headed into the cave for a few days. Back soon--hopefully with good progress made on even newer brand new novel. (!)

Now for the promised book review + CONTEST!

One of my new blogging buddies recommended Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark side by Beth Fantaskey. And while I said a few posts back that I was feeling a little vamped out, I trusted her recommendation and picked it up.

Here's the cover image. I'm including it because I think it's so pretty. I would have totally picked this up in the store and read the back cover. Bonus: it actually portrays a real scene in the book. (!)

But the back cover blurb isn't really true to the spirit of the book, in my opinion. The main character (Jessica) is well-drawn and has a great arc, and the book has a definite mood that makes it not as high-schooley chicklit as it sounds.

To begin with, the opening scene is of Jessica alone, waiting for the bus when a mysterious fellow appears and calls her Anastasia. She's completely freaked out by it, and by the end of the day her mother's told her she's a long-lost princess (yes, the Romanovs called) and the strange guy now living above her parents' garage is her fiance by an arranged marriage.

It's actually a blood pact, and they're both vampire royalty. The conceit of this tale is that she doesn't fully become a vampire until he bites her, which he almost does a few times. (whee!)

At first, I was a little disappointed by the dialogue. Again, I felt like these were teenagers talking like grad-school students, and I was seriously getting Love at First Bite vibes every time the male lead (Lucius) spoke. But by page 60, that's all completely forgotten. (And he's Romanian royalty, so he gets a pass.)

Once the Jessica-Lucius relationship gets going, it's hard to put the book down. First you have him all insisting she embrace her identity. Then you have him all resolved to protect her by breaking the marriage pact. (She's too sheltered and sweet to rule a bunch of assasination-proned, power-hungry vampires.)

Of course by that time, she's determined that she's gotta be with her sexy vampire future husband. He gives her a toothache.

(That sounds funny, but it works.)

Fantaskey throws in some fun plot twists--for example, a competing female love interest for Lucius--which really heighten the tension, and she gives readers enough insight into the cruelty of Lucius's childhood to prove his point without being off-putting to her target audience.

I also liked the nod to Bram Stoker's Dracula provided by Lucius's letters to his uncle back home, and the ending has an element of ambiguity I think readers will dig.

Other than some very mild language (moms), it's a pretty clean read. So JGTDDS gets an A from me!

If you liked the Twilight books, it's possible you'll like this one even better. I've heard there's an epilogue floating around somewhere in cyberspace... must find that...

Now for the CONTEST!
Post a comment below, and on Tues. a.m. I'll use the random number generator to pick one lucky commentor to WIN either Caleb + Kate OR Perfect Chemistry!* (I reviewed these books in the June 24 post.)

What? You thought I was giving away my copy of JGTDDS?! I said I really liked this book.

1-Comments have to be below this post to be counted.
2-Followers of this blog get bonus points, and are more likely to win. So click the little gray bar up there > > > to improve your odds!
3-Comments must be made by Monday, midnight to count. (OK, if you beat me up Tues. a.m., you'll be counted, but I have no idea what time that'll be.)

If you're having trouble commenting, shoot me an email, and I'll troubleshoot w/you. Google likes to make me enter my password twice sometimes when I leave comments. Like I hit "post comment" and then I have to enter my password again and hit "post comment" again. I'm sure this is to guarantee I really mean it.

*Those guys following for whom YA romance sinks your boat, we can work out an alternate prize. I'll email you and we can discuss. I have a set of ginsu knives I'm trying to unload... and the first three Charlaine Harris books... Oh, alright, and if you really want JGTDDS, we can chat. Especially if you're a good friend who lives near my house... ;o)

I'll announce the winner Tues a.m., so have fun, and thanks for playing. I won't be commenting back til after Tuesday so as not to skew the results.

Happy 4th of July!


Creepy Query Girl said...

This book sounds great! Thanks for the review and congrats on the followers!

I'm in!

Holly Hill said...

Hm...I may just have to read this one. Love the cover.

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually into vampire books for some reason, but I love the fact that you are now doing book reviews. AND I live close to your house. wink wink! LOL

Ex-pat Odessa said...

The last vampire book I read was "Interview" by A. Rice, who is now writing Christian fiction - yeah, I know right, talk about a complete 180!

Anywho, this book sounds interesting, if only for how she paints the Romanian characters. Let me start by saying that Lucius is NOT a RO name in any way shape or form. Mihai, Valentin, Marius, Darius, Constantin, Iulian. THOSE are ROMANIAN male names!

Yeah, yeah, gripe, gripe, I know, but I'm a stickler for those kinds of things, especially considering I'm married to a Romanian, and I'm living in Romania! But really can you blame me???

So anyway, hope your little generator thingy pull my number! I need some new reads, and it's not like there's a book store close by, well there is, but nothing is in English! hehehehe!!!;p

Scarlett said...

I agree, the book sounds interesting. I swore I would NEVER read the Twilight series, and well, let's just say I finished ALL four in less than a month! They weren't the best written, in my opinion, but maybe that is why I enjoyed reading them; sometimes you need an easy read.

I admire you for putting aside some time to work onyour book, I need to do the same! By the way, love the contest idea!

Natasha said...

I didn't particularly like Twilight, but I LOVED Dracula when I read it as a teen. And I really liked The Historian when I read it a couple of years back (I even compared our mutual friend's first book to The Historian, which was later corroborated by an agent). And this book sounds similar.

And yes, I would love to enter. And if I am not showing up as a follower, blogger was being funny with me. But I do live in the other end of the world....

Unknown said...

Okay.. so I'm commenting.

And I'm a follower. So the odds all lay in my favor now. Right??


Thanks for hosting. I very seldom say no to free books. :)

Margie B said...

Thanks for your review - Look forward to getting to know more about you!

LTM said...

Thanks everyone for playing, and welcome newbies!
@CQG--It really was... I might read it again after a while.
@Becca--I'll let you borrow it.
@Odie--I thought of you the whole time I was reading. They go back to Romania at the end...
@Scarlett--me too. (shamefaced) I was so embarrassed b/c I always make fun of JRM for reading his giant blocks of wood, and I tore through those in about 4 days as well. :o|
@Rayna--The Historian has been added to my "to read" list. I really really liked Dracula as a teen, too. I liked all the letters and journal entries and stuff. It was fun!
@Ebyss--yay! Contests are fun. Whatever.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I'm too late for the contest, but the review sounds intriguing! I'll have to put it on the TBR.


LTM said...

I really liked it. Strong characters, fresh story... good stuff~