Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: TO STAND BESIDE HER by Kristen McMichael


TO STAND BESIDE HER
by B. Kristen McMichael

Published: January 24, 2013 by Createspace
GENRES: YA • Fantasy • Romance • Kingdoms & Swords • Thief • Historical? • Action
SOURCE: E-book from author on Goodreads

 Technically 2.4 rounded to 2

OVERVIEW:
To be the best courier in the world, eighteen-year-old Benét Leila follows three simple rules: always work alone, never stay in one place too long, and never fall in love. Too bad she didn't follow her own advice.

Leila is a courier. To the people she takes from, she is seen as a common thief; to the people she helps, she is a savior.

Nalick is your typical king. He's rich, powerful, and always assumed to be right. When Leila crosses paths with King Nalick, she finds herself trapped. In a rush to save her best friend Kay from a prison sentence for a crime Leila committed, Leila trades her hand in marriage in exchange for Kay’s freedom. 

Tomboy Leila does not want to grow up, but in three months’ time, she will be married to King Nalick, if Nalick can keep his end of the bargain. First, Nalick must make Leila fall in love with him, a hard task since Leila is not ready to love again after losing her first love to a greedy king. Second, Nalick must keep her safe. He is not the only king trying to hold onto her. Leila has made many enemies over the years, and even more admirers that want her as a prize. Lastly, Nalick must convince Leila that ten years of love is better than a lifetime without. Unless Leila can trust her destiny, she might not reach her wedding day at all.
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It really saddens me I had to rate this a two. There were five very important reasons why I had to lower my rating, otherwise I found it to be enjoyable. The premise was interesting. If these concerns were fixed, I'd rate it a four or a five. (Please note I am NOT bashing the book, but giving constructive criticism.)

Reason Number One: The Grammar 
There seems to be a shocking number of books these days that have been published looking like they snuck past the editor's desk. Honestly, editors are not scary people. Really. All the red marks on the page are your friends. Spellcheck can only do so much. Unfortunately, I found a large number of mistakes such as wrong tenses, missing or wrong words as well as misspelled words that hindered my reading.


Reason Number Two: The Mythology & The Details
I could not figure out if this was based on a historical time period or modern day. She talked about swords, dresses and riding horses, which made me think 14th to 19th century. Then McMichael said one of the kids was playing with a toy car. CAR? Not once in the book did they ride in a car. Then Leila wore pants and a sweater, which made me think 20th or 21st century. There was no clarification of the time period and culture.


Major events were glossed over. How could they not prep Leila for her role as Queen? She had been a street rat, a thief, a commoner. What about the royal events? No one prepped her on what to do. Her leg injury? Barely a mention. It was a tiny blip on the radar. Meanwhile, large amounts meaningless details were given to unimportant things. Or details were repeated...repeatedly. The plot didn't seem to have much direction until late in the book. 

Reason Number Three: The Lack of Will
Nalick knows the future because of the reports from his priest. So why does he lay down like a dog and take it? This was the poem that kept itself on repeat in my mind while reading:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
         
         by: Dylan Thomas

There is a Divine plan, but there is also Free Will. If I knew my left leg wass going to get run over by a truck, I would not get up that morning and say, "Oh! Today's the day. Whoo hoo! Let's go crush a leg." I would duck tape myself to my bed and watch TV all day long. Maybe wrap myself up in bubble wrap. Who knows. The point is, I wouldn't just accept it. I don't think anyone would. The future is not written in stone.




Reason Number Four: Lack of Personal Perspective

If only I could have gotten into Leila and Nalick's minds. The connection was lacking and left me unengaged. I didn't understand why every King wanted her and made war over her. She was poor, a criminal, a smart mouth and not of noble birth. What was the draw? If Leila was this independent, lone wolf fighter, hater-of-the-indoors who refuses to stay put for anyone...

then why would she drop everything so easily? I couldn't get inside her head to figure it out. It just didn't make sense. There was just no real character development to justify what happened in the book. A twist towards the end had me shaking my head. Ugh. **Squirms in seat** Kind of sick, really weird and felt completely wrong. Realistic? No way. The POV changed a lot and at awkward times in the writing. That didn't help me understand the characters.






Reason Number Five: Lack of Dialogue & Time
If Nalick was trying to get her to fall in love with him, he had to give the relationship attention and time. That didn't really happen. He supposedly had this big, drastic  character development. If there was one, it seemed hurried and unrealistic. He knew everything from the priest, so then wouldn't his attitude have already changed? There wasn't a build up to back any sort of relationship. The turn around was too abrupt. Leila should have been raging with internal conflict, yet there is no conflict of feelings shown. He did lock up and hit her best friend after all.


Yes, there were positives. The pace was fast and fairly consistent, the premise was sound and there was a strong, fierce heroine. Leila was incredibly intriguing. Her past with Eric was tantalizing but all we were given was a skimpy appetizer. Lukewarm and vague. Flashbacks to situations with him would have greatly added to the depth of the book. Conversations from the past could have added much needed richness. 

The action scenes were fun to experience. Leila was brilliant. Seeing how she handled situations was outstanding. Leila had a sharp sense of wit. Her fighting skills were impressive and I loved how she took on teaching.


I think if she gave this a through going over with an editor on these concerns, she could have a winner on her hands.