Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 24, 2014}   {Review} By Blood by Tracy E. Banghart

By BloodFrom Goodreads: For 17-year-old Emma Wong, spending a summer in England should be a dream come true. Gorgeous scenery? Check. Lots of hot guys with accents? Yes, please.

Throw in an estranged mom, annoying new stepdad, and drooling baby half-brother, and it’s a disaster even her favorite cherry red leather jacket can’t fix. Even worse, there’s (hot) live-in research assistant Josh to contend with. The only thing more embarrassing than drunk-kissing him hours after they meet? Knowing he’ll be witness to her family’s dysfunction all. summer. long.

But when Emma meets a mysterious girl who happens to be a Druid, her vacation suddenly promises to be far more intriguing than she anticipated. Powerful rituals, new friends, an intoxicating sense of freedom…and Simon, the sexy foreign stranger she was hoping for. It’s all a perfect distraction from dirty diapers and awkward family dinners.

Trouble is, intriguing doesn’t often mean simple. And Emma is about to discover just how not simple her life really is.

By Blood is a novel about the ways that blood can bind us to others – or tear us apart.


I went into this novel with high expectations, and while there were some aspects of it that I enjoyed, there were a lot more aspects of it that I didn’t care for.  For one, I found the pacing to be off kilter for me as a reader—it was a bit slow in places, and too fast in others.  In the beginning, Banghart takes her time developing the story, and I tend to like that as it allows me to really get to know the characters, but in this instance, I felt like too little was happening in the beginning, and the intro itself was too drawn out.  Perhaps had I found Emma more endearing, this wouldn’t have been an issue for me, but as it stands, Emma grated on my nerves throughout much of the novel.  At times I felt like I was wading through a story about teenage angst, focusing on Emma’s extreme dislike of her family and her yearning to be a part of something different. And then, while her instant attraction to the males in the novel, both Josh and Simon, was realistic in nature, their “romance” wasn’t. Suddenly there is a spark, and my interest was definitely piqued, but Banghart sort of glosses over the romantic aspect, making it more of an insta-attraction and keeping it so, as opposed to really fleshing it out and making it believable.  With the addition of the Druids and the mystery behind them and their actions, I had high hopes for the romance and story to take off, but again, I feel like this was glossed over, focusing once more on all Emma’s angst at home.  Granted, she does learn some pretty heavy things about her family as the novel progresses, but her antics just didn’t impress me.  I just felt like Emma was extremely immature.

As the novel progressed, I was definitely interested in the Druids, and I had an ever present bad feeling plaguing me as I read, but the ending was, unfortunately, less than believable for me. Emma continuously ignores her inner self as it tries to warn her, and by the time the story was finished, I just really didn’t care for her one way or another, and I was kind of upset that she behaved so badly and still got the guy in the end. But even so, I did like learning about the Druids, and though a cult, I liked that aspect of the story, believable or not. Had this novel been a little more fleshed out, with more action and less teenage angst, I think I would have really liked it; as is, it just wasn’t really for me.  Two stars.

2 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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