019 – Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Once in a Full Moon cover Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves—Legend’s Run is famous for them. She’s used to everything in the small town until Brandon Maddox moves to Legend’s Run and Celeste finds herself immediately drawn to the handsome new student. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight.

Her best friends may never forgive her if she gives up her perfect boyfriend, Nash, for Brandon, who’s from the wrong side of town. But she can’t deny her attraction or the strong pull he has on her. Brandon may be Celeste’s hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend’s Run.

Psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf are the perfect formula for what happens…once in a full moon.
Yeah, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. I thought maybe there was a chance that Ellen Schreiber had grown as a writer in the time that has passed since the dismal Vampire Kisses, but it was a long shot. And yeah, no surprise: Once in a Full Moon is absolutely terrible.

Warning: This review will contain SPOILERS, if you can call them that, because – SPOILER – nothing actually happens. Still, we’re going to save you the trouble of reading this and explain the “plot” here, because it is honestly and truly not worth your time.

I don’t say “absolutely terrible” lightly – we read mediocre books all the time, stupid ones quite frequently, and offensive ones here and there. Still, any one of those would be infinitely more readable than Once in a Full Moon. It is quite possibly the most terribly-written thing I’ve read since I skimmed the first few chapters of My Immortal.

I don’t say this lightly either, because I know how it sounds, I really do, but Christ, we could write better shit than this. I’ve ranted about this before, but I honestly cannot comprehend how a book this terribly written could get published. I’m not joking, lying, or exaggerating when I say the writing is on the level of an elementary school project. There is page after page after page of telling, so much so that the book reads like a sort of simplistic list of events (“I went here, I did this”), with brief statements in between to let us know how everyone feels. Some good examples from the first few chapters:

– “The guys were acting brave, but we girls were cringing in fear.”

– “Ivy felt challenged that she wasn’t on top of the breaking news story.”

– “I was never comfortable with Nash’s public displays of affection. It always felt as if he was only being demonstrative to prove his bravdo to the student body rather than showing the unbridled passion of an amorous boyfriend.”
I especially love that first one. Those guys were acting brave, but us tiny, weak little girls were just cringing in fear at the incredibly vague, stupid, and convenient werewolf campfire story we’re being fed. Gag.

Not only is there endless telling, but the wording itself is awkward. The silly, shallow teenager characters frequently have oddly formal outbursts (“He was just being foolish” or “You must!”) and often forget that normal people their age are allowed to use contractions. It’s a bit like the cast is made up of a bunch of classically trained 60-year-old actors who keep breaking character.

Also, this could possibly just be a pet peeve of mine, but I can’t stand it when an author uses the same word or phrase over and over again in a paragraph. Schreiber does this a lot. It’s really distracting, like Jesus, she couldn’t take the time to find a thesaurus or re-word or something to get her point across more eloquently?

None of this would be excusable if the story were better, but it might make it just a tad more tolerable. Fortunately this book doesn’t put me in the position of having to defend one or the other, because they’re both crap. The story is one long string of cliches – hot mysterious new guy from the wrong side of the tracks rolls into town and the pretty, popular girl from the “right” side falls for him for no legitimately good reason, but must keep it from her snobby friends and sports-star ex. Naturally, because this is a YAPR title and the readers are apparently morons, the author has to tip her hand – frequently – to hint at what the new guy will inevitably turn out to be. A well-placed campfire story here, a folklore school project for which the heroine choses werewolves as her subject there, and top it off with a Halloween scene in which the heroine dresses up as Little Red Riding Hood oh my god someone just put me out of my misery now.

To its credit, the mysterious new guy – Brandon, btw – doesn’t start out as a werewolf, though he did apparently have the potential for it all along (the closest we get to justification and/or back story) which is why a bite from a normal wolf during a full moon turned him into one.

Wait, what?

Oookay, I suppose the whole normal wolf bite might be part of the original werewolf mythos – or at least, Underworld‘s, whose apparent influence here is strengthened by the heroine’s frequent referral to her boyfriend as a “lycan” – but it doesn’t keep it from sounding any less stupid. Bitten by a werewolf I get. Bitten by your average, everyday timber wolf? Not so much.

As a character, Brandon is a decent break from the tortured, brooding type, although I chalk this up more to Schreiber’s inability to give a character depth than to any intentional subversion of the trope. He’s relatively friendly and shy, lacking the usual dominating personality that most werewolves seem to have these days. Our heroine Celeste, on the other hand, is the most laughably obvious Mary Sue I’ve seen in a while.

She’s a saint – she volunteers at old folk’s homes out of the goodness of her heart and enjoys listening to their stories over and over I SHIT YOU NOT SHE REALLY DOES SAY THIS OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO BE COUGHING UP SUGAR FOR MONTHS AFTER SWALLOWING THIS SHIT. Ahem. She’s incredibly pretty but doesn’t realize it, she does well in school but is not nerd material, she’s well-off but not disgustingly rich, nor is she stuck-up or shallow – supposedly – despite coming from the “right” side of the tracks where quite literally everyone else is. Oh yeah, and she daydreams about being a writer, but really intends to become a nurse or doctor because all she wants to do is help people.

Her two best friends are only there to make her look better and more humble by comparison, being “prettier”, stuck-up, snobby, self-absorbed bitches who gossip behind each others backs and treat Celeste like a doormat while she praises them for being such caring, devoted friends. Her boyfriend – again, the school sports star – is mostly an easily discard-able self-absorbed prop there to perpetuate an extremely forced love-triangle that would never even have been an issue if Celeste had any balls whatsoever.

The plot, to summarize, is this: the hot (apparently normal) new guy saves our heroine from a plot device pack of (also apparently normal) wolves – with his bare hands – who appeared out of a plot device freak snowstorm (that went full-fledged white-out blizzard in less than twenty minutes) that our plot device heroine got lost in, despite being about a mile from her house. This – somehow – turns him into a werewolf, although neither of them realize it until their first kiss under the full moon, which…apparently triggered the transformation in him? I’m not so sure, but this is the theory the heroine seems to have accepted so yeah okay we’ll go with it. Anyway, for like three more weeks nothing happens while the heroine tries to decide whether or not he actually transformed or if her love for him NO REALLY made her see him differently.

What is – how does that even work? MY LOVE INTENSIFIED YOUR FUR FACTOR? Whut?

Next full moon, she sees Brandon transform again and believes it this time, spending the next few weeks trying to convince the local new-age “psychic” to come up with a cure for him, even though so far the transformation hasn’t done anything more than make him furry. Meanwhile, people start having werewolf sightings almost every day, which Brandon inexplicably blames on himself (the only time he’s shown to be able to transform is during the full moon, but he claims it could be possible he changes every night since he never remembers the change, a theory that could be easily struck down if the heroine bothered to keep an eye on him for like one night.) Absolutely no conflict and several red herrings later, it’s revealed that the “werewolf” everyone’s been seeing is just our heroine’s ex in a Halloween costume, I shit you not, which he donned in an attempt to win her back by inciting fear in the whole town, so that he’d have to escort her everywhere…idk I think that’s how it’s supposed to have worked. The werewolf motif is just an extremely inconvenient coincidence.

Seriously, though, the main focuses of the book are a) Brandon and Celeste’s relationship development as they deal with Brandon’s transition into a werewolf, and b) Celeste’s efforts to hide her relationship with the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. There is no real plot here.

Oh hi there, Ms. Schreiber? Yeah, typically you need a STORYLINE to go along with all that ROMANCE.

Speaking of… You know, for such a saintly creature, Celeste sure is a weak-willed bitch, isn’t she? She just loves Brandon so much, she doodles his name in her notebook and everything, but she refuses to be seen with him because – NO REALLY – her friends wouldn’t like it. She seriously thinks this out and says to herself “Well, my friends just have this really stupid and ultimately irrelevant dream of the three of us dating three best friends and getting married and living next door to each other, and I really don’t want to ruin that for them even though I DON’T LIKE THE GUY THEY WANT ME TO BE WITH AND OH YEAH I’M “IN LOVE” WITH SOMEONE ELSE.” She caves to their peer pressure and mistrust of her “true love” – which is based on NOTHING ELSE except the fact that he lives in a different part of town – and sneaks around with Brandon, while at the same time refusing to put her foot down to her “friends’ ” attempts to get her to reconcile with her self-involved ex.

THIS IS THE STUPIDEST EXCUSE FOR A LOVE TRIANGLE/STAR-CROSS’D LOVERS SITUATION EVER. These aren’t the Sharks and the Jets, the Capulets and the Montagues, these people will not kill each other if they were to discover Celeste and Brandon’s *~forbidden love~*. Quite literally the worst that could happen is that her friends could be mad at her. GROW SOME FUCKING BALLS, CELESTE.

Seriously, the vast majority of this book is Celeste thinking the same things over and over again – oh I love Brandon, does he love me? Oh, is Brandon a werewolf? Oh, can I cure Brandon? Oh, do I love my ex even though I’ve already said several times that I don’t but I really do have to perpetuate this love triangle because there is NO OTHER SERIOUS CONFLICT HERE.

I couldn’t tell you where this series is going, what it will ultimately be about. I have no idea. It ends with Nash – Celeste’s ex – witnessing Brandon’s transformation one full moon, and then running away. That’s our cliffhanger, ladies and gentlemen.

And yet with all this, I still haven’t told you the worst part of this story. You know what the worst part is? Brandon’s “werewolf” is a SLIGHTLY MORE RUGGED VERSION OF HIMSELF. I shit you not, his hair gets longer, his eyes go gray, his arms and chest get slightly harrier, and he grows fangs. THAT’S IT. He basically turns into this:


one star



7 Responses

  1. Yiota

    December 19, 2010 1:50 pm, Reply

    I have to say, i haven’t stopped laughing with your review. Your writing is so amazing! You know how to make the other to continue reading your post no matter the size XD Maybe you are just being yourself, but sure i liked it. I felt like you have your true thoughts written.

    Anyway, on the book. I think i’m the only person that wrote a good review about it. Lol….i was reading other ppl’s review but they didn’t really convinced me why they didn’t like it. You did. And, you made me think different about it now. I see your points…and i kinda feel it wasn’t that good. Though i enjoy it. I will admit that. Anyway, i didn’t buy it so whatever XD

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Kayla + Cyna

    December 20, 2010 12:20 am, Reply

    @Yiota – Haha, thanks 😀 Yeah uh…I sorta get ranty when it comes to really bad books so…long posts are long.

    And thanks! 😀 That’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.

    @Shiori – oh god it issss, it’s awful D: How this woman has like fifteen popular books on the market I will never understand. She also writes manga based on her shitty vampire books, btw. Her evil knows no bounds D:

    Haha, you know my opinion on that 😀 there aren’t enough snarky book blogs on the net, you should definitely break it out 😀

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