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Hope(less) (Judgement of the Six) (Volume 1) Paperback – May 15, 2015
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"Melissa Haag's unique voice and wonderful characters create a captivating love story, so beautifully different than any I have read. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down, and I had to read the whole book in one sitting. Love this series!" ~ Karen Lynch, author of Relentless
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Where Michelle's driving focus is the safety of her little brothers, Gabby is fiercely set on having her independence and fulfilling her plans. I realize it's not easy being an orphaned foster kid, especially since she can't turn off the siren-like pull she has on almost every male of mating age, but someone who self-protectively keeps even those she feels a fondness for at a certain distance is hard for at least this reader to grow close to, too.
She not only judges Clay harshly and fearfully for quite some time as a filthy (as in grimy and smelly with actual dirt and grease), uncivilized weirdo — I can understand her rejection of the idea of becoming tied to him as he first appeared! — but also makes many assumptions about his utter ignorance and mental issues which take her far too long to realize are quite wrong.
I do think Clay's choice not to speak until after she had FINALLY accepted the claiming made things more difficult for himself than they needed to be, but it certainly created an interestingly unusual courtship/romance, with "actions speaking louder than words".
Back to Gabby, though, her persistent secrecy with even her grandfather-figure, the werewolf Elder, Sam, re. her sensing of life-sparks leads to the pack's not having important facts which could affect their decisions. (Oh, and minor <SPOILER> I guessed in (Mis)Fortune, when Nana Wini was discussing whether they should make Joshua an Elder, that he would turn out to be one of the other faction.</SPOILER>) To be fair, I would probably resent being obliged to put up with years of "Introductions", starting still in high school, too, and their agenda might affect my level of trust, but... (Michelle didn't realize what Blake was up to, among his other misuse of her ability, and she didn't meet any others of the "good" wolves until Emmitt had already found her, so the issue didn't apply.)
But the most immediate and pervasive annoyance was Ms. Haag's difficulties with subordinate clauses, address, dangling modifiers, tense mismatches, and occasional homonyms. I don't know whether she got a better editor for the second volume, and didn't have them go back and vet this one, too, or if her own writing skills greatly improved, but if I had a dime for every time I stopped to write a note beginning "Missing comma", I could probably buy book 3 w/o opening my own wallet, digitally speaking! (Goodreads tells me I made about 100 corrections, total, so make that a nickel!) I wish Kindle made it easier to share notes, since they're not the sort of "quotes" to be posted on Goodreads. I've had Hope(less) in my Kindle account for a while, but only had it delivered to my new(ish) Kindle for the first time just before I started reading, so I should have the latest version, right?
ETA: I double-checked About This Book, and it says "315 pages", which matches the "Revised edition", but on the copyright page, it still says "March 2013", which seems to be the first version's date. What's going on?
Before I close, I need to add one remark that I also made on book 2: the romance may have a happy ending (w/o sexy stuff, despite the cover art, BTW), but the action/ mystery element of the "different" wolves — who in this book may be merely puzzling and suspicious to Gabby, but who revealed themselves as ruthless baddies in book 2 — is left very much up in the air. In fact, this volume ends with a cliffhanger for a secondary character — I assume Luke's story is next?
Anyway, I do plan to continue with the series. I already have the Clay's-PoV companion story, since it was (I believe) also free, but I strongly hope the later volumes have editing more like (Mis)Fortune than like this one!
*** (If you'd toss me those metaphorical nickels or free read, Ms. Haag, I'd be willing to type up my corrections for you to apply. I'm one of those compulsive readers who can't help spotting — and annotating — most goofs, but it'd be nice to have my lost time do some good.) ***
Let me just start out with the fact that it is very very obvious this is a self-published novel. The formatting is off, the sentences in the beginning made me want to wince, and there was no polish or shine. I almost put it down within the first few minutes because it seriously needed an editor. However, Hope(Less) has one saving element that made me finish all 353 pages of it in one sitting.
In Haag's novel, Gabby finds an older werewolf named Sam who becomes her adopted grandfather. First off, that's a little weird. This random dude turns into a wolf in front of her, and then she goes to live with him two months later. I don't know, maybe I'm just not as trusting. Then Sam decides to hook her up with every eligible male werewolf because she has this attractive power about her that makes males become complete horn dogs. And he gives her rules that have her wanting to go out-of-state as quickly as possible. Sorry, still very iffy plot to me. When Gabby's eighteen, "The One" appears right before she's headed off to college. Except Gabby won't have it and decides to go anyway. No one is the boss of her, blah blah blah. (Where was this attitude the last two years, missy?)
Clay, twenty-five-years-old and a loner when it comes to werewolf politics, is Gabby's "The One." Except he won't speak to her. He grunts and shakes his head whenever he feels like it. And when she heads off to college, he follows her. In wolf form. He becomes the house pet for Gabby and her roommate, a canine companion that Gabby slowly learns to love. And this is where the author excelled and why I ended up finishing this novel. It definitely wasn't for majority of the plot, it was for the slow romance that simmered between Gabby and Clay. There was a spark in the beginning, not a classic "I love you!" at first sight. And then it grew. It's all very sweet, and the reader actually feels rewarded when the relationship hits a new corner. Gabby doesn't try to impress anyone, she doesn't rave about hotness levels 24/7, she's just a regular girl minus the weird freaky mind power. And Clay doesn't even talk 95% of the book. (Don't worry, actions speak louder in words. A good lesson to remember.) This type of courtship is something I rarely read about, so I was drawn in out of curiosity.
That being said, there were a lot of elements in the novel that could have done with a lot more explaining. Gabby thinks she knows what her power is, but it's all very murky and up in the air. I didn't get it. And I wish we had learned more about the werewolf world. The girl is far from eloquent and glosses over it completely. Oh well. The writing needed work, and the plot itself was weak at parts. I do recommend this if you're sick of reading instalove and want something light to read. Or, maybe you're a future writer and need a way to make your characters fall in love with each other. Hint: Haag did it right.
Rating: 2.75 stars
this was a really enjoyable read, a refreshing change from the silly and saccharin twilight-esque tales that flood the market. I don't know what is wrong with Gabby. I loved Clay immediately. However I found Gabby tiresome. She is selfish and dumb and her exploration of her gift was boring and stupid. Her choices are not sensible. Frankly, Clay deserves better. Still it was an enjoyable read with humor, romance and suspense.