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Thursday, September 24, 2015

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ARC Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly (good historical fiction...good not much else)

These Shallow Graves
Jennifer Donnelly
Links: The Book Depository
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Random House
Reviewer: Ella

 Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set - after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she'll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly. But when Jo's father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.
An ARC was provided by the Publisher via Netgalley - thanks!

These Shallow Graves is 2/3 exasperating, 1/3 enjoyable with a healthy dose of, "Whyyyy did you do that, book??!!" on the side.

I've read some of Jennifer Donnelly's other (adult) books because my older sister pushed them on me (thanks, sis) and I really think she writes better for adults then she does teens. In here the writing is cautious, tentative, like Donnelly isn't sure if she's doing it right and it made the writing come across as slightly stiff.

As characters go, the main character, Jo, reminded me SO much of Fiona from Donnelly's Tea Rose series that it was almost like reading about the same character. I didn't really care for Eddie, but his character was interesting. The differences between New York's rich and New York's poor was fascinating to read about and the character cast from both were enjoyable to read about.

The romance was the biggest thing that annoyed me as there was SO much angst! Jo meets Eddie, Jo immediately thinks Eddie is the most good looking guy she's ever seen and OMG! Look how bluuueeeeee his eyes are!! Jo's never SEEN such bluuueeeee eyes on a man before and it's a fact she brings so many times during the book, that by then end, I wanted to punch Eddie's baby blues just so Jo would shut up.

There was so much angst between Jo and Eddie and the way it draggggged on throughout the whole novel definitely lowered the rating. One minute, they "love" each other, next minute, they don't, then they do, then they don't, and the cycle repeats itself until the romance just becomes...not very romantic any more and kind of fizzles out which frustrated me because so much of the book is ABOUT their relationship, gah!

The length also troubled me. It was too long and 100 pages could've been cut and I wouldn't have missed anything. The story goes at such a slow pace that it becomes tedious in places and that's never fun to read.

But hey. It wasn't all bad. It was historical fiction (HISTORICAL FICTION OMG!) and Donnelly writes really good historical settings so I enjoyed that! And the cast of characters were all unique and interesting especially the thieves and pickpockets (hehe) and even though Jo could be very annoying over her obsession with Eddie's eyes, she was a character I enjoyed reading about.

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Ella is a teenage girl that is completely and utterly mad and uses it to her advantage as much as possible. Wonderland Freak, Book Fanatic and Liquorice Eater Extraordinaire are just a few things that sum up her awesome and amazing personality. She overuses the word 'frabjous' and is more then a little convinced that she's secretly a fairy. She was once a coblogger at Bookwyrming Thoughts. You can find more of her madness over at her blog Once Upon a Bookish Time.