Review: Life in the Palace

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Life in the palace tour

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This review was written for a blog tour. I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Stick around until the end and enter the giveaway!

Life in the PalaceTitle: Life in the Palace
Author: Catherine Green
Genre: YA, paranormal romance, religious
Series: Life in the Palace Saga
Stalk the author: Official website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Blurb

“We need to talk,” Tal said. Then I knew it was going to go badly. ‘We need to talk’ is the conversational equivalent of walking into your basement without turning on the light, on a dark and stormy night, when a known psychopath is on the loose. You might as well cut to the chase and slit your own throat.

Chloe Diaz assumed three things: that when Tal said that she was one of The People sent from heaven to maintain the cosmic balance, it was code for ‘I’m a pamphlet distributing, incense burning, religious weirdo;’ that the gorgeous Seth Wilks would never be her soul mate and that she’d never have to choose between them. Chloe was wrong.

Now the future of the world is in her hands, but what if price is too great to pay?

Review

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. When I saw the cover and read the blurb, for whatever reason, I just didn’t get a big religious vibe from it. I assumed I was going to be getting into some sort of adventure and I assumed that they would be in India because the name Tal sounded Indian to me and because of that association, I assumed the ‘Palace’ part was the Taj Mahal or something like it. I mean, there is a tiger on the cover. I was wrong about the whole “it’s set in India!” part. It’s not. It’s actually set in Montreal. And Tal isn’t Indian. Actually, she’s not even Middle Eastern. Turns out Tal, along with characters named Noy, Jov, and Dava, are actually quite Caucasian. This threw me off. A lot.

The huge part of the plot, besides the romance aspect, is Chloe befriending Tal who happens to be of The People. The People is a religion and apparently it’s as easy to tell if a person has even a slight trace of that heritage if you look at their name, much like how we assume people might have a Jewish heritage by their name.

“Chloe, my name’s Seth Wilks, did you think I was Irish?”

“What?”

“Come on Chlo, of course I’m one of the People. I’m Seth, my brother’s Josh, my whole family are a bunch of unreasonable overachievers. It’s obvious. Just like with a name like Diaz, you’re clearly not Asian.” He thought it was funny.

Though on one hand, I admire that the author made some sort of religious stereotype for her own made-up religion, I also feel, as a reader, that I haven’t been invited in on the inside joke. I feel exactly like Chloe. How was I supposed to know that the name Seth Wilks was obviously of the People? Before Seth, my only other point of reference had been names like Tal Perr, and later, Sven Ivers. None of the three exactly have names that have a similar ring to them.

As a person of non-faith, it never bothered me that religion played a huge part in the book. It was rather interesting to read it from the view of a skeptic, which I don’t think I’ve ever had the chance of reading any book from that point of view before and followed them on their journey of inner self-discovery and on the fence of taking that little leap of faith and joining a religion. If I do end up reading a religious book, the character is already steeped in whatever religion they’re in and we have to follow their struggle as they question God and their existence on Earth. Not so much with this. The People is a religion that is very much like Catholicism or Jewish, in the sense that they push people to marry other People and not anyone outside of the religion. I thought it was very smart to anchor the fictional religion with religions that readers could easily relate to and identify with.

The religion itself was a bit complicated to understand. I didn’t quite get it at first, but the more I read, the more it started to make sense. I’m still not sure if I quite understand all of it yet, but by the time I ended the book, I felt like I understood enough of the mechanics. Or at the very least, I felt like I understood as much of it as Chloe did.

One of the problems I actually had with the book was the matter of the romance. Everything happened so easily for them. I felt like they never argued and that they were the dream couple; nothing could touch them. “Average girl” manages to score super hot guy. It’s a cliche in all YA novels it seems, and Seth was pretty much 100% perfect. The only flaw I could tell that he had was the fact that he smoked. But besides that, he was the perfect doting boyfriend. I actually didn’t get too interested in them as a couple until about the last four chapters or so when trouble in paradise started to brew.

Another problem I had was during the first person POV. The majority of the book is from Chloe’s first person POV. The majority of the story is written in past tense, you know, “I said/he said.” But then there are portions of the book where it suddenly switches to “I say/he says.” I’m also not a fan of reading a character’s inner inner thoughts when reading first person. It seems awkward since first person, you’re already reading said character’s thoughts and feelings and then they switch to even more internal thoughts.

I could feel my heart beating through my chest and there was too much saliva in my mouth. This has to be a dream. Any minute now I’m going to find myself naked in a room full of people.

Totally not necessary to go into thought-ception. There were also some punctuation errors littered throughout, but unless you’re a grammar Nazi, a reader should be able to look past them all. I want to think most of the punctuation errors happened when it came to dialogue and overall, none of the sentences read awkward or sound choppy, but rather smooth. I think if the book was passed through once more by a careful proofreader or even a couple of great beta readers, most of the problems would be taken care of.

Despite some of the problems I had with the book, I actually found myself interested in what was going to happen next at the end of the book. I’m left wondering: Will Chloe become one of The People?

Recommendations

I think this book would be perfect for anyone looking for something different in their romance or even in their YA reading. The author does a great job of not pushing any sort of religion (fictional or real) down the reader’s throat. If I felt like I was being lectured about the greatness of any sort of religion and made to feel like I’m sinning for not even considering joining, I wouldn’t have finished the book. There is adventure in this book, so if you’re looking for an adventure/romance, this might be for you. I feel like Book 2 might have more adventure packed into it, but it’s only a feeling.

Last Words

I’m actually left with a lot of questions at the end of book, but I can’t really say my questions aloud for fear of spoiling. But the author does a great job of hooking the reader into wanting to get Book 2. The battle between Good and Evil is just starting.


CatherineAuthor Catherine Green

Catherine Green writes fantasy books featuring religious characters in a brazen attempt to make the people in faith communities seem less weird. She lives with her husband, children and three marginally neglected goldfish. When she’s not writing, or pretending to be one of her characters on Facebook, she has been known to cook dinner.

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/22/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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