Book Review: The Coupling by Cathrine Goldstein

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Title: The Coupling
Series: The Letting #2
Author: Cathrine Goldstein
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: February 15, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, YA/NA

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The CouplingThe Coupling
The Letting #2
Cathrine Goldstein
The Wild Rose Press, February 2016
ISBN 978-1-50920-617-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

In Ronnie Billings’ dystopian world, surviving the Letting and breaking free of a corrupt government is less of a surprise than falling in love with Phoenix Day, the leader of the Peaceful Revolution…

When the government sentences Ronnie to a Coupling under the guise of producing a coveted blood type, Ronnie discovers the one she’s slated to Couple with expects even more.

Prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to save those she loves most, Ronnie devastates Phoenix with her impossible decision. Whisked away from her rebel life to another world ravaged by despair, Ronnie meets her greatest nemesis…her biological father.

Steeling her nerves against the dangers of escape, she embarks on the perilous journey back. She is convinced she belongs with Phoenix and his revolution, but will her friends, and especially Phoenix, be ready to accept her when she returns? Because this time, evil is in her blood…

I found the first book in this series, The Letting, to be really intriguing and exciting in a number of ways, most especially the core theme of taking blood from children to keep society going. Ronnie spent her young life shepherding her young charges to their destiny without knowing what that destiny really was but, in that first book, she learned a number of truths that changed her world. I looked forward with anticipation to the next book to see what would happen and, hopefully, gain a little more insight into this dystopian existence.

For some reason, I didn’t connect quite as well with The Coupling and I think the problem is on my end, not the book’s. In the early chapters, I felt an annoyance with the main characters, I mean the good ones that I was supposed to like. I did like Ronnie and Phoenix but I also thought some of their behavior was odd, especially when Phoenix blamed Ronnie for something she really couldn’t avoid if she was going to save the lives of three little girls, three little girls who are inordinately important. I also thought Ronnie was way too incredulous at Phoenix’s reaction as though she had no clue he would be so upset.

Not making the all-important connection with the major players is a red flag for me but I continued reading because, despite that issue, I really wanted to follow the story and I’m glad I did. The plot moves along quickly with lots of twists and turns that kept me interested and now I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Note: I recommend that readers new to the series start with the first book, The Letting; this is one of those times when reading in order is best.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2016.

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About the Author

Cathrine GoldsteinGiven my love for cities and all that is gritty, my new obsession with trees really has me stumped. (Sorry.) Maybe it’s because trees are the inspiration behind my YA/NA novel, The Letting, followed by The Coupling.

Whatever the reason for my new infatuation, some things remain constant — like my love for: coffee (although sadly, it’s now decaf); yoga; Luna bars (I am petitioning for them to bring back Chocolate Raspberry!); running in my neighborhood; Hemingway; Bukowski… and, above all, my husband and my girls.

I am the author of the bestselling novel, Sleeping With Mortals: The Story of a New York Mistress, and I’m also a playwright. I have my B.A. in English and my M.A. in Theatre.

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Book Review: Unrequited by Emily Shaffer

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Title: Unrequited
Author: Emily Shaffer
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Publication Date: 09/23/14
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Romance, Vampires

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UnrequitedUnrequited
Emily Shaffer
Swoon Romance, September 2014
Ebook

From the publisher—

In the town of Belle Ridge there are doctors, lawyers and teachers… but there is only one vampire. Will Leighton has become an expert in making a life for himself amongst the unsuspecting small-town inhabitants, as the high school history teacher. He has spent hundreds of years crafting an identity and routine that make him feel almost human, but he is always missing that important final element, love.

Ashton Wallace is beautiful, smart, and angry. She was forced into an eternal existence, and now her family has moved her away from everything and everyone she knows. In Belle Ridge she is supposed to finish high school and start her life again, but how do you make plans for the next several centuries?

Will has never met another of his kind, and is immediately intrigued by Ashton. He longs to show her that the perceived vampire lifestyle, so popular in storybooks, is far from reality…but will she let him be a friend and guide in this new existence? Can Ashton accept Will into her life, or will she be led astray by a dark stranger with whom she shares an unknown connection?

I have a love-hate relationship with vampires. Most of the time, I prefer them to be either funny or mean and nasty, worthy representatives of the Dracula tradition and Vlad the Impaler. Romantic stuff generally leaves me cold and I might as well ‘fess up. I read the first book in the Twilight series because, as a bookstore owner, I sort of had to but—gasp!—I detested it. Yes, the truth is out, I’m not a fan of sparkly. So, why on earth did I have any interest in Unrequited?

Two things in the description drew me in. First, the idea of a high school teacher and a student niggled at me. Was the author really going to go there? Really? Second, there was the twist that there are so few vampires in Ms. Shaffer’s world that Will could have gone 200 years without ever meeting any others.

Ashton is an interesting character but I must say her parents are remarkably accepting of her, um, condition, and I can only suppose it’s because they have little choice. She herself is handling the whole thing better than you might anticipate from a high school senior and I was happy to avoid the histrionics we so often see.

Will and Griffin, on the other hand, are so, well, nice (it takes Griffin a while to get there) that they irritated me even while I thought they were pretty good guys. As for the love triangle—I wish every author would forget they ever heard of such a thing.

Because some of the elements of vampirism we’ve come to expect are missing, I kind of wondered why the author chose to make her male characters vampires in the first place. Why not another kind of supe that naturally fits into the human world more easily?

The ending was put together to lead the reader to the second book and I have no problem with that. I did feel shortchanged with the altercation that takes place at the end, a prime example of telling rather than showing but, fortunately, that sort of writing style is rare in Unrequited.

I have to mention that I appreciated the care that Ms. Shaffer and her publisher took in the construction of this ebook. Very few typos or other construction errors came to my attention and that’s a pleasure in today’s quicksand of ebook production. I do wonder, though, why Unrequited is not available on Nook and I hope that will be remedied soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2014.

About the Author

Emily ShafferWhether writing stories to entertain her younger siblings, or typing up an essay for a class, Emily Shaffer has been a writer for as long as she can remember.  Her stories may have changed from talking cartoon frogs to angsty young adults, but her goal to write a compelling story remains the same.  When not writing, she lives in Nashville and enjoys all the music, food, and excitement that city has to offer.  Her first novel, the well-received chick-lit title That Time of the Month was self-published on Amazon in 2012.  Her latest novel, as the others before, are fueled by diet soda and pie.

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