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Saturday, May 16

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Harcourt Children's Books (February 1, 2009)
368 pages
(, at time of purchase, it's now down to $10.83 as of 05/16/09)
Originality: 5
Characters: 4
Writing: 5
Setting: 4
Plot: 5
Passion: 4
Overall: 27/30 90% = A
Cover Bonus: 0

First off, I need to address why I ended up reading this book. I was NOT going to read this. I'll address some of these reasons *cough* cover *cough*, *cough* title *cough* later. Until I read Beth Fantaskey's guest blog on Wondrous Reads. This guest post sucked me in and I purchased my copy that very afternoon. And please note that if I can help it I do not buy books that I can't purchase in Kindle format. I will wait until it's out on the Kindle before buying the physical book. Not with this book. I HAD to have it. Now, on with my review.

I awarded this element of the book a 5 not because it was "truly" 100% original but it's execution was original. I have never read a book where a young male swoops in and insists on wooing a young female into being his beloved for fear that if he fails his family and her family will throw themselves into all out war.

Jessica (woot! my name!) is someone that I immediately related to. It's strange though because we are incredibly unalike but that doesn't matter because ultimately she was just an average, teenager blossoming into a young adult and all that entails with that change. She was real. She was also very mature, unwilling to rush into anything with out thinking it through. Her parents were a wacky pair but they too where amazing parents.

Lucius. Now Lucius is a guy that I could fall head over heels for. He's 110% chivarly. His accent (yes!) had me lured in from the get go. He was way too funny at points that I was wiping tears from my eyes. But I did hate him in this book too. He gives up and I can't stand a weak male lead character just as much as I can't stand a weak female lead character, but I have to give him credit because Jessica does not make it easy for him, not in the least. He does evolve and seeing him do that is very fulfilling.

The other characters play some huge roles too. (I read this a while ago so I can't think of their names!)

Now this is what sucked me in! Beth's writing is phenomenal. I only read that guest blog and couldn't get enough. It seems to come naturally to her or something. Everything flows so well. Nothing is pressured, nothing is presumed to happen. I hate it when I "know" what's going to happen and I never felt that with this book. The ending was just craziness but it all worked out and I really hope to be able to continue learning about Jessica's world.

The setting was just the coolest to me! It's set in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. This is just north of where I live so it felt very familiar to me. Some of the story took place in Romania, I believe, which is where Lucius comes from. There's some amazing castle scenes that I just loved! I would have loved more of that in this book.

The plot was awesome. I hate giving away any major details concerning books so I'm just going to paste a bit of the first chapter here instead of me rambling off every detail that I can think of.

Excerpt: (briefly, read the rest here)

Chapter 1

The first time I saw him, a heavy, gray fog clung to the cornfields, tails of mist slithering between the dying stalks. It was a dreary early morning right after Labor Day, and I was waiting for the school bus, just minding my own business, standing at the end of the dirt lane that connected my family’s farmhouse to the main road into town.

I was thinking about how many times I’d probably waited for that bus over the course of a dozen years, killing time like any mathlete would, by doing the calculations in my head, when I noticed him.

And suddenly that familiar stretch of blacktop seemed awfully desolate.
He was standing under a massive beech tree across the road from me, his arms crossed over his chest. The tree’s low, gnarled branches twisted down around him, nearly concealing him in limbs and leaves and shadows. But it was obvious that he was tall and wearing a long, dark coat, almost like a cloak.

The passion in this book gets to a boiling point a few times. The pot never spills over but that's okay. The true meaning of love is what matters in this book. They are teenagers with hormones but it never steals the scene completely. It was kind of sad at times for Jessica and Lucius because they both end up fighting their hearts.

Cover & Title:
You probably noticed that I did NOT give any bonus points for the cover. That's because I HATE it. I mean it's not the ugliest thing but what hurts me to look at it is the title and the cover together. It just doesn't make sense. Even after you read it you're still not going to like the title. The cover kinda makes sense but not the title. There is a "guide" book in the story but it's not what I would have picked, at all. I can't really make a suggestion as to what I would have named it but almost anything would be better than what it is. Or at least a cover that reflected a guide book in some fashion.

I LOVED this book. I had the hardest time putting it down in any fashion. It made me laugh and I might have teared up a bit at a point, but ultimately it made me smile. It was a true love story with teenaged angst and super natural twists. I didn't mention the vampire element in any of the above because it's really not what swayed me to loving the book. Lucius could have been just any normal exchange student and the story would still make sense, minus the impending uproar between the two vampire clans of course. :)

Like my review? Buy a copy today from!

Beth is also hosting a contest until May 30 for this book and some other great prizes!

Connect with Beth Fantaskey:

What did you think of Jessica's GT Dating on the Dark Side? Will you read it now?


  1. I just finished this book and I loved it! I also didn't really get the title but it didn't really bother me. Great review!

  2. Yeay!! I am glad you liked the book. I have yet to read it, but it is in my TBR pile. I cannot wait.

  3. Thanks Jessica! I probably would have passed right over this book in the store. I'll add it to my TBR list. You're so right about the cover, it's not horrible, but it's not good.

  4. I almost didn't read this book either -- the cover and title threw me at first too. But I ended up REALLY enjoying it. :)


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