Read for Review – And Honesty?


Recently, I’ve heard that certain reviews being posted on Amazon are being pulled. Curious as to why, I looked around a bit and found a whole discussion on it there in the Amazon forums. It detailed that it seemed as though certain Amazon reviews were being pulled because they were coming from readers who received ARC and RAR copies (which means Advanced Reader Copy and Read and Review copy). In other words, people who received free books in exchange for reviews. Namely, HONEST reviews. Like, you get the book and you leave a review, regardless of your opinion of the book, the publisher (or author or whoever gave you the book) wants the review. The real one.

At least, that’s the gist of it.

Here, apparently, is Amazon’s concern: books in exchange for reviews is the equivalent of paying for a review. Which, okay, I think that’s sort of a stretch, but fine. You’re giving someone an incentive for leaving a review. That incentive is, theoretically, something you (the reader/reviewer) wants, right? And that translates to some form of payment, right? That’s, like, giving money for a review!

(Did you know there are paid reviewers out there? Literally, it is their job to read a book, watch a movie, try out a restaurant – all of it gratis – and then proceed to post a review and get paid for it. No joke.)

Now, I understand where Amazon’s concern might lie.

Oh, what if being paid (in money, books, or free pizza…) might sway the opinion of the reviewer? And, oh, what if this means there will be NOTHING BUT FIVE STAR REVIEWS FOR TERRIBLE BOOKS?

Oh, wait, that already happens… Seriously, it makes me angry, and I’ll just tell you, those reviews weren’t the result of free copies. Nope. Just uninvolved, easily amused readers who will gobble up any cotton-brain-candy out there… Okay, and a *little* bit of a difference of opinion via genre and whatever else, but that’s like 2% of a star discrepancy.

But my mini-rant aside, I understand that you might be worried that these “paid” reviewers aren’t being fully honest. I mean, I like getting free books, don’t I? Why, of course I do! I love to read and I’m going to write a review anyway… Why not get a free book out of the deal? And I’ll be honest, I was really concerned when I first started asking for ARCs and RARs. I thought, “If I leave a bad review… will no one give me a free book again?”

But here’s the thing. I still get free books and I tend to leave poor reviews more often than not. Why? Because I’m not going to let a free book sway my opinion. And that’s for three reasons.


I have some friggin’ integrity, thank you very much. My reputation is valuable to me, but more importantly, my own opinion of myself is important. I wouldn’t feel right giving a high review to someone that didn’t deserve it because it invalidates and cheapens all the high reviews I gave for people that honestly deserved them! And I’m just not okay with that. Better to get an angry author, publisher, or even fan, than to feel as though I’m offering a fake smile to the world while simultaneously spitting on those that deserve true, honest recognition.


Why would I want to encourage more bad boosk?!?! Seriously, leaving a good review for a bad book is just poor planning. Because it means the author is going to write another book, just like the first, not bothering to change anything because all the reviews said IT WAS SO AWESOMESAUCE! So now we have a Craptastic Book Two! And when we have to review that book the same way we reviewed the first one, now we have a whole Craptastic, The Series!

Why would I want to encourage more bad writing? From both a writer’s and a reader’s standpoint, this seems counterproductive to my end goal: To find more books to fall in love with.


Why would I want another bad book from an author I didn’t enjoy? Why would I want another free book if I just feel as though every free book I read I must lie about in order to get another free book? That I will ultimately hate?

So ultimately I’m left with the feeling that leaving anything other than an honest review is just… not right.

And I have to believe that I’m not the only person who feels this way. Don’t readers and reviewers take pride in themselves? Yes, they must. I believe that they must! And they want quality, too, right? Yes, of course they do. They have to!

I will make one more point: I get not wanting to hurt someone’s feelers about it. Authors are sensitive. Trust me, I totally know. My least favorite thing is having someone come in, read what I’ve written, then hand it back to me and tell me how I’ve just “gotten it all wrong”. Pfft. Like they could do it better. But at the same time, if I let myself step back for a minute and really look at the criticism constructively, sometimes the negative reviews teach us the most. And that means I can grow as an author.

And, yes, it still hurts.

I guess my point is not telling it like it is just to spare someone’s feelings isn’t doing anyone any good. I’m not saying you have to be a jerk or be mean or just rip their life’s work to shreds, but you should be honest and you should make an effort to lay out why you didn’t enjoy something. It could go so far as to make them better authors in the end, so that maybe you actually will enjoy the next book.

Really, just don’t leave a five and four star review for something that you hated. That’s just silly and doesn’t help you, the author, or other readers.

Which brings me back around to Amazon removing reviews.

The idea that saying “I got an ARC” means “I’m lying through my teeth about the quality of this book!” is utterly stupid. Yes, there will be some less than honest people out there, but they are not the majority. Instead, I think we should give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt and say that they are honest. Even if we don’t agree with their opinion – or even if they’ve left a good review for a bad book. Because sometimes, people just do that. I think that has to do with a little on the personal taste side and a lot of “I wasn’t really paying attention to this while I was reading” side.

It happens. That’s fine.

I just think that Amazon is being fairly ridiculous about this whole concept of ARCs and RARs. These are the things that can help break-out authors (and especially self-publishers) get their works out there. People might never even look at their books, not because they’re bad, but because they don’t get the same kind of publicity. And because Amazon gives more advertising, featuring, etc. for books with more reviews and more purchases – which go hand in hand. Which means that the more books that have been reviewed, the more they’ll be purchased, the more featuring they’ll get, the more reviews they’ll get…

But how do you break into that cycle if NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOUR BOOK? Yes, you have to advertise, but part of that is getting your book into the hands of people that might otherwise not read it – usually because they don’t have the money for it.

So I say that Amazon is being silly and the ARCs and RARs should continue.

What’s your opinion on this crazy Amazon policy? Do you agree with me that reviewers are mostly honest?


E.C. Orr

P.S. – The main reason I decided to do a post on this (and why it mostly focused on the honesty of ARC/RAR reviews) is that in the forum, there was a poster who didn’t trust “free book” reviews. Why? Because she felt they were all basically liars who were giving higher ratings because they were essentially “paid” for their services. And I was offended. Especially since she then proceeded to say that she automatically went to 3 star reviews – which mine are usually that or below – because she felt they were more “honest”. So, what, my review doesn’t count EVEN THOUGH I RATE LOWER THAN MOST DESPITE FREE COPIES, just because I put in the effort to get a free book? Wow, that makes that person a real jerk, a little judgy, and seriously misinformed.


Review: What Doesn’t Kill Us by Stephanie Henry


First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The mega insta-love and the “he’s so perfect, omg” characters.
Second, the reason they did negatively impact my rating: Because this story relied so heavily on the characters and the story and neither were executed well enough for that.

Third, the moment I knew how I was going to feel about this story:

“Why does the sound of him saying my name make my insides melt?”

Because this quote is like all of the quotes. This quote shows what the writing is like and it shows how the rest of the novel is going to work—an instantly, for no apparent reason love sick girl is won over… with absolutely no effort on the young man’s part. Why did I pick this quote? Because there was absolutely nothing leading up to it. She just suddenly feels jiggly in her insides because he’s cute. I mean, jeez.

How many stars do I give this? 2.6 because it’s got holes and only so-so writing.
It has a wicked hook and there is potential… but the writing just wasn’t up to standard and in the end, there was too much rushing in a story that should have been twice as long.

But let’s begin with The Bland And So-So Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

The fast-paced nature of it. As I mentioned, it’s got a hell of a hook and that helps a lot with a story like this. The first chapter really sets the stage for the story—for Drew anyway. And that helped a lot with getting through the rest of the story. I’ll also mention that I didn’t mind the switching POV. For this story, I found it helpful and with only one perspective, the story probably wouldn’t have been even this good.

What I felt was a little questionable:

The fast-paced nature of it. I know, I just mentioned this as something I liked, but let me explain. The story started off fast, which is good, but then it got bogged down by things like “Craig Morgan”. Is there a reason we have to say his full name every time? It started to feel like you were saying He-Who-Must-Be-Named-Every-Time… Like, give it a rest. But that aside, I’m actually talking about how Drew’s life is now. By chapter two it’s all “and no one likes me and I’m the bad boy and I don’t expect anyone to care…” All of which was important, but the author sped through it like lightning and I was just left scratching my head thinking, “Why do I care?” Because I didn’t. The stuff with his family was horrible—but I’m not really sure how it spilled out into his high school career. Was it just a result of gossip? Did his father spread the rumors? We don’t know. Because there’s nothing to let us know. Instead, we get a rapid fire break down of what’s going on and it just needed more… development. The start of something was there, but the author seemed so hellbent on getting through that she didn’t much care whether we were following or not. I needed longer scenes, or at least more developed ones. What are the characters thinking? Why are they thinking that? Why are they so hooked on each other? She tried to tell us, but I just didn’t buy it—and that’s a flaw in the writing, not necessarily (though additionally) the plot.

Moving on to The Too-Fast, Too-Insistently-Intense Story.

What I liked:

That the story is about hope and overcoming the bad things. I don’t necessarily think that reading has to teach us anything, but I think when it does and it’s not overly preachy, that can be really beneficial and add something to the story. In this case, I think it did. It’s about forgiveness and love despite differences and, ultimately, about finding hope. I’m not sure it’s really enough to save the story, but I appreciated it all the same.

I liked that Hailey was blaming her initial attraction on mystery. Oh, he’s the bad boy, so I just want to know, not that I’m really into him! It’s maybe not written well enough or followed through on later to be truly believable, but I thought that was a better way of tackling the otherwise overwhelming insta-love found here. I wish the author had stuck with it a little longer and dealt with Hailey’s drive to not have feelings for Drew.

What I didn’t like:

A lot.

I didn’t like the insta-love, as I’ve mentioned. It was excessive and that’s dangerous in a story that is literally about that love. Because it’s all about the getting together, not the being together in a story. It’s about the fighting to be with one another that lends enough drama for a story to really exist. That’s why we end up with love triangles and parental disapproval and wrong side of the tracks stories. Because there has to be a struggle and if we don’t get one, the story is, unfortunately, boring. We need the drama, and there was a lot lacking here—even when it wasn’t.

Additionally, why the heck didn’t she have more reservations about him? She was all, “he’s demented!” and then “I want to jump his bones”? How do you get from one to the other in a straight line? I don’t know, but Hailey did.

And that’s how we end up with this gem:

“I haven’t heard why he’s a supposed murderer. What did he do to get that reputation?”

Um, I don’t know, like, MURDER SOMEONE? I hear that killing is the leading cause of murder-related deaths these days…

The whole party scene. From the moment with her dad to the next morning, I was rolling my eyes. And that’s a lot of eye rolling. I didn’t buy that Hailey was just suddenly super comfortable getting tossed—because the author didn’t sell it to me. She told me, “Yep, Hailey’s on a bender!” which seems so out of character for her, despite the circumstances. Not that that is necessarily an unwarranted reaction, but Hailey just seemed so… natural about it that I found it unbelievable. And the whole “Oh, Drew is here! Now I’m feeling super sober—despite the, like, six shots of tequila”? No. Just no. Have you heard of alcohol poisoning? Have you heard of drunk the next day? Have you heard of puking in the bushes?

None of that happened and that seemed… unlikely. It just made everything else that happened lacking it realism to the point where I was just shaking my head.
Honestly, there’s more. The whole dad thing. How can we have the characters not freaking out about this? Yeah, they get a little upset, but then it’s like “oh, but if you see it from his point of view…” No. He does not get a point of view. Because a-holes do not get point of views. Ever. Because they are, in fact, a-holes. And he was. The most selfish jerk ever… and no one called him on it. It was just like “oh, Hailey, you just need to learn to forgive him.” Um, no. At all, no.

I thought the Val-Craig thing was useless. I thought the father thing was… poorly executed. I thought the mom thing was sort of out of left field and didn’t add anything really to the story other than a “and they all lived happily ever after!”

I know there’s a lot I didn’t like and I wish it weren’t so, but when the writing isn’t great, we need the story to carry us and vice versa. We had neither of these things here and it shows.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

Drew being a good guy and supportive of Hailey. Perhaps a little cliché? But I appreciated that he wasn’t just some bad boy that she was trying to change. He was legitimately a good person.

Hailey being able to look past the wage differences of their families. I don’t think it was shown enough, though they mentioned it several times, but it was nice that the money really didn’t matter to her.

The mom freaking out after what happened with Hailey’s dad. It was probably the most realistic reaction of everyone in the book and while it was annoying on some level, I appreciated that it was genuine. We didn’t get enough genuine in this, I think, and I’m grateful that it showed up here at least.

What was bad:

The fact that there was really only one “bad guy” (two if you count the party, but that was all so surreal…). Everyone else wasn’t a bad guy, even when they seemed like they were a bad guy—or really should have been. Did it help the story that Craig was a decent guy despite his reputation? No, not at all. It would have been more beneficial if he played a larger actual role, but he’s so peripheral until the party that it’s moot point. And what’s the point of forgiving the dad? He broke so much trust, wrecked a lot of lives, and didn’t even think he did something wrong! Staying with a child in a loveless marriage is the dumbest thing a parent can do and doing it for the sake of the child is just an excuse. Especially in this circumstance.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:
I’m just going to list them here, because… yeah.

• The Poetically Deep Kid In Bad Boy Clothing
• The Preppy Popular Cheerleading Rich Girl With A Heart Of Gold
• The Shallow Best Friend Who Only Loves Shopping And Boys

And that’s not even dealing with the assumptions the characters make about each other—everyone seems to buy the stereotypes in this book until otherwise proven. Like “Craig Morgan Reads a Book” time or the “Cheerleader Listens to Country” or the “Bad Boy Likes Poetry”. All of it makes these huge assumptions about people they don’t even know, and everyone gets offended even as they turn around and do it to each other…

Would I recommend this? Sadly, no—but if you can get past the bad writing and the poorly developed plot and the really bad insta-love, you might enjoy this. But I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

what-doesnt-kill-usTitle: What Doesn’t Kill Us
Author: Stephanie Henry
Language: English
Approximate Length: 259 pages
Stars: ★★★☆☆
I received a free ebook version in exchange for an honest review.


Review: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout

**Hey guys! Let me know what you think of my new reviewing format! I’m going to be using this template in an effort to make more accurate and unbiased – or at least informative – reviews!**


First, the two main reasons that people are going to have issues with this book: The excessively hateable hot and cold of Daemon and blame it on the ‘mones (hormones) mentality.

Second, the reason they didn’t relatively impact my rating: The writing was freakin’ good, even when the characters were being stupid/annoying/generally unbearable.

Third, the moment I fell in love with this story:

“I hated Daemon Black—if that was even his real name—with the vengeance that equaled the solar power of a thousand suns … The son of a bitch blew up my laptop.”

How many stars do I give this? A solid 3.98. Because my god the writing is addicting! Even when I thought people were being dumb or I was having a WTF Mate moment! It’s that good.

Let’s begin with The Butterfly Inducing Writing.

What I enjoyed personally:

That Armentrout has once more brought me into this fairly fantastical and slightly unrealistic story with no qualms. Aliens? No problem. Crazy dark shadows coming to get you? Sure thing. Sexy boy next door who is so ‘effing mean you have to like him? Yep, still there with you. Really, it didn’t matter what was going on, I still bought it because Armentrout successfully drew me in with her writing. Katy was consistent, even when she felt like she was all over the place. Being in her head effectively made me feel like I was her—both loving and hating Daemon right along with her. It was great. Armentrout is very effective with the first person and puts you right smack dab in the middle of what our MC is feeling.

What I felt was a little questionable:

There were mistakes. Spots where the story seemed to jump forward—weren’t they just on her porch? How are they now walking in the forest? I wasn’t sure if these scenes were maybe forgotten/meant to be added to before the final product or if it was a transition issue, but I noticed it a couple of times and felt it was a little jarring. These were the only moments that really took me out of the story and I didn’t appreciate that. Thankfully, they were few and far between.

Moving on to The Twilight With Aliens Story.

What I liked:

That there was no insta-love. Yes, there is no denying that Katy was instantaneously drooling over Daemon—and really, can you blame her?—but as soon as he speaks, she hates his guts. It’s really quite refreshing. They both try so hard to hate one another, to not let the other get under their skin, that it moves the story along mostly through romance (once more, the “genre” of the piece is merely a vehicle for romance) without making you want to gag about how goo-goo they are over each other. I really appreciated that.

I also liked the “other form” of the Luxen. I won’t get into specifics here, because I’m trying to stay spoiler free, but I will mention that their other form is humanoid but with some noticeable differences. It’s a little weird, but I liked that they weren’t just basically humans from another planet. They are intrinsically different and I think that adds more credence to the whole love story. It’s real love if you can overlook such a large difference, yeah?

What I didn’t like:

How much of a jerk Daemon is.

Okay, let me clarify, I hated that he was such a jerk to Katy—and that she still liked him/spends time with him regardless. Now, it’s not so simplistic as all of that. There are reasons which sort of justify it all, but in the end, Daemon is such a jerk to her—whether he actually cares or not is besides the point—that it’s really hard to think “hm, I can totally see myself overcoming this small personality flaw to see the inner beauty”. Because, really, when a guy’s a jerk, he’s a jerk. Period. Chances are, you’re not going to change him. And there are reasons/explanations, blah blah blah, but it made it really hard to see why Katy was so hung up on him (I don’t care how sexy he is) until really late in the book. That’s slightly problematic for me.

Additionally, I kept feeling like this was Twilight while I was reading it. Not in that horrid, bad fanfiction kind of way, but rather this is what Twilight *should* have been. Well-written, charged with danger and emotion, full of things actually *happening* not just “Oh, Edward looks like a Greek God!” But the similarities remain. The outcast characters who are… different. The bubbly sister who just loves and cuddles you, insisting her brother is your long lost love. Not to mention the whole “I hate you, but not really” hot cold thing with Daemon… I mean, this reads so much better, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling, no matter how I tried.

And finally, the Whole. Damn. Thing. With. Simon. Seriously? Everyone told you not to be an idiot. I’m not saying it was Katy’s fault, because Simon was the a-hole, but I wish she had listened to the instincts that everyone else seemed to have. Especially since she didn’t even like him. Again, not her fault. Never her fault. But I did want to shake my head at her a little. I couldn’t help it.

Next, Le Characters.

What was good:

The snark. Oh my god, the snark. It was all over the place and it was beautiful. I want all of my characters to be jerks to each other now. They need to have witty, scathing comebacks and they need to make comedic, totally inappropriate, I like to make you made hilarity. Like, all the time. Seriously, I really enjoyed the dialogue in this and that is because Armentrout made some wicked lovely characters here. Screw the romance, them verbally sparring with one another made me want to get a flag, throw on a foam finger, and paint my face like Braveheart. It was awesome.

It made me like Daemon even when I hated him, and that’s pretty darn impressive. Additionally, I actually did like Katy. She wasn’t just a “oh, I’m so plain” Jane. Instead, she was a self-aware, struggling to find herself teen. She didn’t want to be Jane. Instead, she wanted to be Joan. As in badass Joan Jett. I appreciated that she tried to go against her initial, shy instincts and fight back. I think it showed us some struggle and growth.

What was bad:

Um, I hate to say it, but Dee. See, I liked her. A lot. She was fun and bubbly and the kind of BFF everyone wants. Beautiful and fun, but so over the moon for you that she forgets all that and slums it with us poor mortals.

But that’s sort of the issue. She’s known Katy for 2.436 seconds and there’s our insta-love… She just has to be Katy’s friend. Nevermind the danger or the problems it causes. She has to. Even though she doesn’t know a darn thing about this girl. Nope, nada. Just that she’s the new neighbor. It felt too much like a means of introducing the romance and giving us a reason why Katy and Daemon would ever hang out despite their mutual hatred. I just couldn’t buy it, even with the reasons Armentrout supplied to convince us of why she would do this.

Also, is it just me, or is Dee basically Alice from Twilight? Serious.

Finally, a section for Tropes and Other Much Hated Things:

Paranormal As A Vehicle For YA Romance – or SciFi in this case. A bit of But Why Would He Want Me? And a smidgeon of It’s Dangerous For You To Be With Me – But I Want You Anyway.

Really, other than some of the typical teenage romance stuff and some Must Have scenes in YA (the dance, Halloween night, a moment in the woods/at the beach/otherwise outdoorsy smoldering hottimes), I didn’t feel this was excessively tropey. Yes, Katy was sort of Plain Jane. Yes, Daemon was a wee bit Greek God of Hotness. Yes, Dee did embody the Pretty Best Friend. But I feel like most of them moved past these molds also, or at least made an effort to.

Also, Katy was saved a lot by Daemon—but she did some saving, too! It was pretty awesome considering she’s only human.

Would I recommend this? Yes—if you enjoy teen romance, love-hate relationships, a little bit of paranormal (because it reads more like paranormal than SciFi), and you appreciate some snarky characters.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

obsidianTitle: Obsidian (Lux #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
ISBN: 1620610078
Language: English
Approximate Length: 335 pages
Stars: ★★★★☆
I have an ebook mobi format.

Review: Mortality by Kellie Sheridan


Okay, so, I really wanted to give thus five stars, but there were a lot of little mistakes throughout that really just needed another set of eyes to fix. All the same, I can’t completely ignore it, so this is actually a 4.5 star review!

So, this was an engrossing tale of the zombie apocalypse that has torn apart society. In the wreckage, people have tried to rebuild, but it’s like the wild west, lawless and dangerous and not always for the reasons you expect.

At first, I kinda didn’t like Savannah. I thought she was a little too eager, a little too cocky, but by the end of the book I wanted her to ride off into the sunset with the guy of her choosing and Apocalypse Boy BFF Zack who is one of my favorite characters. He’s the strong, loyal, realist guy in all of this and it makes him very likeable. Alex is a jerk, Cole I’m undecided on (still) and Marybeth can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Plot. It was well thought out and decently original, though it follows most of the same tropes of zombie apocalypse stories, but they were well done, coupled with a fast paced style and flow that makes them engaging and worth reading. I at first didn’t understand why Zarahs story was so important (beyond the obvious) but by the end I appreciated their paralleled tales.

All in all, I would recommend this to any zombie fan, especially if you like YA, strong (but not over the top) female characters and a good look at what it might be like to make it through the end – one way or another.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

mortalityTitle: Mortality (The Hitchhiker Strain #1)
Author: Kellie Sheridan
Language: English
Approximate Length: 211 pages
Stars: ★★★★☆
I have both a boxset ebook copy and a physical softcover copy.

Review: Sam I Am by Heather Killough-Walden


I was pleasantly surprised by this!

This was a well written stor and despite some mistakes, I really enjoyed the read! The author managed to pull threads of my favorite holiday through to create an original, engrossing tale. I obviously loved the Halloween elements and enjoyed the idea of Sam altogether. I wish there had been a bit more on the magic witchcraft side of things, but I appreciate the fact that the story didn’t drag because the author was trying to explain everything. There were a few plot holes or at least things that I felt needed more explaining, but the story was pretty well formed and mostly coherent.

The characters were decently developed. I think Logan was edging towards too perfect, but just barely. Dom was everything I want in a male lead and I liked that there was a useful adult in the mix – unusual in YA. I hope to see more of Meagan in book 2.

Overall, I am impressed. I hadn’t been expecting much.l, but I got a great, fun, Halloween read out of it. I would recommend to fans of Halloween, mild romance, and some supernatural fun. Will definitely be reading book two!

**I should make a quick note on this. Yes, I really enjoyed this book. I did not, however, feel that it was truly groundbreaking or extraordinarily amazing. I thought it was MUCH better than expected and enough that I didn’t feel bad for paying the three bucks to read it. And I will read the others, too. But if you don’t like Halloween and you get easily distracted while reading, this probably isn’t for you. I personally really liked it, but I think there are a lot of readers that might not feel the same way.**


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

sam-i-amTitle: Sam I Am (The October Trilogy)
Author: Heather Killough-Walden
ISBN13: 9781301163373
Language: English
Approximate Length: 147 pages
Stars: ★★★★☆
This is currently only available in ebook format.

Review: Courage by Lena North


I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

My rating is 2.5.

I had problems with this book mainly because it was difficult to take seriously. It had a really interesting plot and real promise, but ultimately I just wasn’t convinced that anything important was really going on.

First, the story. As I said, interesting. I felt that the idea of dragons ans peophecies and this crazy wild girl who was made to live as a boy… all of it was very interesting. But it fell flat. The prophecy was worded so strangely that even when they explained it it didn’t sound right. And it’s meaning… well, I didn’t really like how it all ended up fine and dandy and no conflict whatsoever even though they messed it all up. It had promise, but poor execution that was a result of average writing, too much ill placed humor, and underdeveloped characters.

Which brings me to the characters. Vilda was so close to being super interesting! A girl made to dress and live as a boy who doesn’t look like anyone else? Yep, so much promise. But she was too busy being Miss Hurt Feelers to really be interesting. She had to be friends with everyone and honestly seemed kind of needy. Troy was just there for comic relief – which this story already had way too much of. Susannah was better when she was being the snooty leader’s daughter. Drake was interesting – until he fell in love and became all “babe” and “sweetie”. And the rest were so busy being enamored with Vilda and apologizing for their mistakes that I really just didn’t care. I needed someone to be the bad guy, but even the people they were at war with weren’t really bad guys in the end!

Finally, writing. It wasn’t bad, but it needs some improvement. A little repetitive and there were some noticeable mistakes. Nothing an editing readthrough wouldn’t fix. I wish the author had a better concept of conflict, slow burn, and utilizing unlikable characters, but the actual writing has potential and is the main reason this rating is as high as it is.

Overall, I thought this was an interesting fantasy concept with a lot of potential. But I wouldn’t recommend it without a rewrite. This feels like a first draft. Lots of potential, but in need of some fine tuning.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

courageTitle: Courage (The Dreughan #1)
Author: Lena North
Language: English
Approximate Length: 211 pages
Stars: ★★★☆☆
I received a free ebook version in exchange for an honest review.

Alternate Cover:


Review: Gone by Christine Kersey


This was free on Amazon. Listed as a clean YA novel.

So, this book was pretty terrible. It’s not the worst thing I’ve read, but it was pretty bad. Start with the opening paragraph where Morgan TELLS US IMMEDIATELY what is going to happen, then head on to Morgan being an insufferable brat even while the adults ARE DOING THE SAME THING. Then we can move on to how the parallel world in which being overweight is illegal is COMPLETELY ridiculous (not necessarily in premise, but definitely in execution). Then, finally, we get to the absolutely cheesy relationship with Connor, the exaggerated hatred from Lori, and the fact the Morgan KEEPS LYING ABOUT STUFF. *sigh* And I haven’t even touched the actual writing yet, so here I go…

The writing is… poor. Not completely unsalvageable but not very good. There’s too much boring, bland action – she spends forever sleeping on park benches, crawling through tunnels, getting ready for school, and quite frankly, thinking useless things. The dialogue is uninspired, the development of characters is a fail. And in the end, I thought that Morgan learned more from being denied things – like food and insta money – than she ever did by having them, including doing exercise AND playing with her younger siblings/ doing chores to help her overworked mom. If anything, this convinced me that we’re doing a poor job of raising our kids… and part of that is food related, so the book didn’t even succeed in making me feel like this world was criminally insane! Talk about epic fail.

This book was free and it was still too much. Don’t read it, Morgan never stops being a jerk.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

goneTitle: Gone (Parallel Trilogy, Book 1)
Author: Christine Kersey
Language: English
Approximate Length: 230 pages
Stars: ★☆☆☆☆
I have an ebook version.

Review: The Elite by Kiera Kass


As with the first book, I was less than impressed with the second book. I didn’t have to pay for this one, so I gave it a shot, and should the same happen for the next in the series, I will likely read that as well.

I’m sort of torn about this series, because at times it almost seems like there’s real potential for it to be good – then I read through it and find myself disappointed all over again.

The writing style is good, if simplistic, and the storytelling itself is fine. There’s a good dose of in scene moments as well as summary, so it doesn’t feel like it’s being bogged down – except when it’s the stuff about the dating and the selection, which is unfortunate since that’s the whole point of the story.

So, my main problem is that once again I felt like there wasn’t much happening. By the end, I felt like we were starting to get a peek at some real things, real problems, and I enjoyed that, but I never felt like things were serious. There was a disappointing lack of intensity and once again, I wonder how it’s possible that anyone would recommend this series to people who liked the Hunger Games.

Um, no.

And that doesn’t mean the series (this book) is terrible. It just doesn’t have a lot going on. If you’re looking for a “Bachelor” type of story, centered on romance and dating and the drama that comes about as a result, then this is a story for you. It just wasn’t what *I* was hoping for. Which makes it seem silly that I started reading it at all, but I was expecting that there was more beneath the exterior. I was anticipating that there was real *danger* and there just hasn’t been.

As I mentioned, by the end of The Elite, I felt like there was some real seriousness brewing and I feel like it leads into real promise for the next book, but I just feel like I shouldn’t have to sit through two books to start thinking that this isn’t just a Pretty Pretty Princess game.

Anyway, if I run across book 3 for free, it’ll be the same as this. I’ll read it and hope for the best, but I won’t go out and buy this, not even for a penny plus shipping.


E.C. Orr

Book Information:

the-eliteTitle: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Kass
ISBN: 0062059963
Language: English
Approximate Length: 336 pages
Stars: ★★☆☆☆
I have an ebook version. (Again, love this cover.)