Friday, October 29, 2010

First Test by Tamora Pierce

Title: First Test
Author: Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: May 23, 2000
Pages: 206 pages (paperback)

In the medieval and fantastic realm of Tortall, Keladry of Mindelan (known as Kel) is the first girl to take advantage of the decree that permits females to train for knighthood. Up against the traditional hazing of pages and a grueling schedule, Kel faces only one real roadblock: Lord Wyldon, the training master of pages and squires. He is absolutely against girls becoming knights. So while he is forced to train her, Wyldon puts her on probation for one year. It is a trial period that no male page has ever had to endure and one that separates the good-natured Kel even more from her fellow trainees during the tough first year. But Kel is not a girl to underestimate, as everyone is about to find out...


It has been ten years since the decree was made that women could train to become knights in the realm of Tortall and one girl is finally taking advantage of that: Keladry of Mindelan, a ten-year-old girl with three other knights in her family. The chauvinistic Lord Wyldon, who is a fantastic teacher despite his attitude towards Kel's wish to train for knighthood, forces Kel to undergo a one year probationary period to determine whether or not she can keep up with the boys and go on with the rest of her training or go home.

I've heard many good things about Tamora Pierce both through the Internet and through friends that have read her books, but I haven't thought to pick up any of her books until now. I saw First Test in a used bookstore (that I've gotten a lot of my recently-reviewed books from) and curious, I bought it to see what the fuss was about. I see just what everyone was praising and I'm glad I got this book.

I love stories with feminist themes, in which a girl in a male-dominated world is able to become an equal to the men that have been "better than her" for most of her life. First Test and many of Tamora Pierce's other books (according to those good friends of mine and the Internet) has exactly the wonderful feminist themes I was hearing about and hoping for. Kel was a heroine I could relate to and Lord Wyldon was also an interesting character due to his bias towards women becoming knights and how he overcomes that.

I had no idea that this was the third quartet that takes place in Pierce's Tortall realm. I just saw this book, recognized the name, and picked it up. I came into this book with no information whatsoever on the mechanics of the world, but I wasn't confused even once about how it worked. This is certainly a testament to Pierce's talent. If someone can start where I did and not need to read the previous two quartets to understand what is going on, the author is doing something right.

This book is very short- only 206 pages- but it delivers a lot of good material in such a short time. This book is probably longer to others, but I'm so used books that are anywhere from 300 to 850 pages long that this is a quick, short read for me. Better yet, I got through so quickly because I didn't want to put it down to do something else. As the first book of a series, it does a fantastic job of setting up everything within such a short amount of time. She can do in 206 pages what it takes some authors 400 or 500 pages to do with a world that is decidedly less expansive than this one.

I had to stop reading at the beginning because of a scene in which an immortal spider-like monster called a spidren had a bag of kittens and ate two of them. None of you would know this (or do you? I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but my memory is terrible), but I love cats. I have five and I love them all very much. Once I'm able to buy my own cats, I will have as many as the law and decency will allow me to have. The visual imagery of the spidren eating those kittens upset me greatly because cats mean so much to me and I had to put it down for about ten minutes. Form there on, it was smooth sailing, but the image stuck with me and I still get a little queasy about it. This scene had significance--to give Kel another good motivation to become a knight, to make her want to be a "protector of the small" animals and people like kittens--so at least it wasn't gore for the sake of gore like some other authors might do.

I also felt that some of the characters fell a little bit flat. This was mostly applied to the more minor characters like the first-year pages Kel is taught with and the antagonist, Joren of Stone Mountain and his friends. Part of this is due to the short length of the book, leaving less time for development, and partly because they're just that minor. The mystery of who was sending Kel those gifts wasn't much of a mystery either. Before I peeked ahead to confirm my guess (yes, I do that sometimes), I was already sure I knew who it was and I was right.

Like I said, it did a wonderful job as the opening book, but a few parts fell flat. I'm going to seek out the next books and read those too at some point because if a book is this good in its first entry, the next few must be even better!

4 stars!

Ghost Town by Rachel Caine

Title: Ghost Town
Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: NAL Hardcover
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Pages: 338 pages (hardback)

While developing a new system to maintain the town's defenses, Claire discovers a way to use the vampires' powers to help keep outsiders from spreading news of Morganville's "unique" situation once they've crossed the city limits.

But the new system has an unexpected and possibly deadly consequence: People inside the town start forgetting who and what they are--even the vampires. And when Claire's boyfriend, Shane, and her best friend, Eve, start treating her like a perfect stranger, Claire realizes she has to figure out a way to pull the plug on her experiment--before she forgets how to save herself... and Morganville.


After the tumultuous events of Fade Out (book seven) and Kiss of Death (book eight), Claire and her insane(ly awesome) vampire boss Myrnin are hard at work, trying to come up with a new system that will keep people from leaving Morganville and wipe the memories of anyone who is lucky enough to be able to leave. Just as they get one working, it appears that it not only affects the people leaving town, but anyone living within Morganville's boundaries. The memory loss seems to strike at random and Claire must find a way to shut down the machine because she might be the next to forget and that will be the end.

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year because I love the Morganville Vampires series. It is suspenseful and amazing and everything someone could want from a vampire series. The vamps are even terrifying! I wasn't too happy that the book found its way to me later than it was supposed to, but I got it all the same, read it within the space of about five hours, and my reaction to this entire book can be summed up with this: OH MY GOD! (I would use more exclamation points for emphasis, but that's not my style. Just know I was loud in my exclamation. Ask my mother.)

A lot of things happened in this book and I mean a lot. Morganville practically falls apart at the seams and there is another major change in how it's run. Actually, there two big changes. One doesn't last for long, but the other seems like a lasting change. Despite these changes, the law of Morganville is still in place and even if they have more freedom, there are certain crimes that humans can't get away with, as Claire finds out early in the book.

A little more is revealed about the unusual relationship between Amelie and Oliver. Though not as jaw-dropping as what we'd been subjected to in Kiss of Death (well, I found it jaw-dropping; I don't know about anyone else), it's still something. I find the relationship quite interesting; I would love to read a little more about it in later books and I believe I will. The bigger, more confirming hints didn't start coming until later books, but the way Oliver would always support Amelie even when he didn't like what she was doing spoke volumes. Would that be accurate foreshadowing? Maybe.

The amnesia plot is one that has been well-used and that has almost become banal, but Rachel Caine takes it and make it her own. I never stopped to roll me eyes at almost everyone forgetting the last three years of their lives. It worked well instead of being boring or a cliche and I applaud the author for that.

Myrnin! Good God, Myrnin. He's one of my favorite characters in this series, along with one of my overall favorite fictional characters. I have a soft spot for the eccentric ones and if anyone is eccentric, it's him, Mr. Vampire Bunny Slippers (and yes, fans who might be reading; the slippers make a reappearance, much to Eve and my's delight). In this novel, the machine that causes the rest of the town to lose their memories also makes Myrnin lose his mind and he becomes--le gasp!--the antagonist! And he does such a good job of it! The evil, crazy Myrnin was just as utterly readable as the good, crazy Myrnin.

I swear, Mrs. Caine is trying to kill some of her "sensitive" fans with the ship tease between Myrnin and Claire. Even the densest fan could see that Myrnin and Claire care about each other, but in this book, it's shown just how much they care for one another. It's not romantic caring, but there are so many little things these two do (such as having Claire admit to herself that Myrnin is pretty hot at one point, but that's about as far as it gets on her end) that it's near-impossible not to notice. I haven't seen ship tease like this since Zuko and Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender! I am well aware that Myrnin and Claire would never actually happen, but if there's a crack couple out there that actually has some ground, it's this one.

And the ending! That was where most of the "Oh-my-God" factor came from. I mean, come on! Once you get there and read it for yourself, you will probably react in a similar manner. The implications of that are huge, you hear me? HUGE! There's no chance of me revealing the ending and ruining the surprise, so go see someone else about that.

This book in the series was just as fantastic as all that came before it and may have even taken its place as one of the best entries. I certainly enjoyed it and couldn't put it down. I'm looking forward to Bite Club, which is the next book in the series. The aftermath of what happened can't just be swept under the rug this time and I want to see how the situation will be dealt with. I highly recommend the Morganville Vampires series to anyone who wants a good, suspenseful read. Start with the first book Glass Houses and work your way up to Ghost Town from there.

5 stars!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley

Title: The Door in the Hedge
Author: Robin McKinley
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: April 1, 1981
Pages: 216 pages (paperback)
Because this is a short story collection instead of a novel, I will be grading it in a different form than normal. There will be no summary because there pretty much is no summary on this book.


The Stolen Princess

In the last mortal kingdom bordering the lands of the faeries, children are stolen from the people on a regular basis. Baby boys and of-age girls are stolen away from their families and no one is safe- not even the royal family. First, the Princess Ellian was stolen at seventeen and her twin sister Alora barely recovered from that. Then Alora gave birth to her solitary heir Princess Linadel and on Linadel's seventeenth birthday, she too was stolen away by the faeries.

This story was 77 or so pages long and I didn't like it very much. It dragged on for too long and even for a fairy tale, the love-at-first-sight of Princess Linadel and Donathor wasn't very convincing. In the end, everything tied up in a pretty little bow so that the two could be together without one of them having to give up their own kingdom. I know it's a fairy tale, but this happy ending was just a teaspoon too sweet for my tastes. For one reason or another, the royal family seems to be having psychic dreams all over the place. Fantasy excuses that too, but it's still a little strange because there's no attempt at an explanation.

The Princess and the Frog

When Princess Rana receives a necklace from Prince Aliyander, she accidentally drops it in a special body of water near her palace and the malevolent magic that charmed it disappears. Knowing that she cannot return without the necklace, Rana enlists the help of a talking frog sitting by the lake. In return, the frog asks to live in the castle and because she knows that she must grant his request for helping her, she agrees.

This was a slightly darker retelling of the tale of the same title which most of us are familiar with, but instead of it being about a spoiled princess getting her ball back and learning a little bit of humility along the way, it's about a princess and a frog defeating an evil, magical prince. The loss of the great moral affects the story and while it's still enjoyable, it's not quite the same. At the end, Rana has the time to run all the way outside and get a "flagon" (whatever that is; I'm sorry, but I'm not quite educated enough to know that word) of water from the pond she dropped her necklace in, and pour it over Aliyander, which kills him. It's a stretch enough that she knew the pond water would defeat him, but the they hadn't moved at all when Rana got back. There's no way they would have paused to wait for her while she got the key to killing Aliyander.

The Haunting of the Hind

There is a horse running through the lands known as thee Golden Kind, one that is so beautiful that men will chase after it and if the come home, they are scarred and have lost their minds. When Princess Korah's beloved brother follows the Hind, he is one of the lucky ones and comes back with both his mind and his sanity, but he is slowly wasting away and dying. Willing to do anything to help the brother who has loved her unconditionally when so many people loved her half-heartedly, Korah sets out to find the Hind and save her brother's life.

I preferred this original story over "the Stolen Princess." It was shorter at about thirty pages or so, which meant it was more concise and concentrated on the present time instead of the history of the world. The beginningof it was good, but lost steam at the end. Princess Korah has to leave behind all of her feelings, face down the wizard that traps the hind- a horse who was originally a woman- and ask him to release the hind and her brother. Really? No tricks beyond that? You'd think a wizard would put up more of a fight than that, but he doesn't. The hind's brother- so unmemorable that I already forgot his name- got paired up with Korah at the last second. That was his entire purpose for existing, it seemed. Why did Korah have to be paired with a guy? Couldn't she have stayed single? That would have been a nice divergence from the previous two stories, where the princesses both got guys. It's okay to have some variety- really.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

A middle-aged soldier, weary from fighting for his kingdom for twenty years, hears of a plea from the king: discover where the twelve princesses of the kingdom are going every night to dance, for the are bewitched and the only thing that can save them from the spell is for a man not of the princess' family to follow them to where they go and tell the King after the sun rises. He takes it and with the help of an invisible cloak given to him by an old woman he helped, he just might succeed.

And here was some of the variety that I wanted. Instead of having to read the princess's point of view, we are in the point of the of the soldier, who is never given a name. What's wrong with naming him? Then again, no one has a proper name in this story, so I'll let that slide. This one follows closely to the original tale while still adding its own twist and once again, the added twist kind of messes things up. You remember the old woman that gives the soldier the invisible cloak, don't you? In the original story, she only gives him the cloak and warns him not to drink what the princesses give him. In this one, she informs the soldier of exactly what bewitched the princesses, why, and what he must do to save them. Isn't that strange? In the original story, one can assume she would put together her warnings after hearing others who have taken on the task talking once they failed. How does she know so much in this tale?

Ultimately, this collection of stories wasn't very good. All of the princesses fell flat, each story was the worst kind of long-winded, and they just weren't memorable. I doubt that I will be coming back to reread this book in the future and most likely, I will sell it off once I acquire too many books again. I did enjoy the stories for at least a short time, so they are saved from a worse rating.

3 stars!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date:
Pages: 373 pages (paperback)
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological creatures and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the main suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.


Percy Jackson is your average twelve-year-old troublemaker. Going between different schools with ADHD and dyslexia, he suddenly discovers while on a field trip that one of his teachers is a demon-thing when she tries to kill him. A few chapters after that, he's spirited away to Camp Half-Blood, a training facility for children like him: demi-gods, half-bloods, children of a Greek god/goddess and a mortal parent. Percy is the son of one of the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades), which is a bad thing because those three have been barred from having children again after World War II. Zeus's lightning bolt, his great weapon, has been stolen and poor Percy is the main suspect. Thinking that Hades must have it, Percy, his satyr friend Grover, and Athena-born fellow half-blood Annabeth set off on a cross-country journey to reach Hades and get Zeus's bolt back before the summer solstice.

There are few narrative voices in fiction that have entertained me as much as Percy's. He tells the story almost faithfully and his little quips, combined with the funny imagery as events unfold, made the telling of the tale truly entertaining. Riordan obviously put a lot of hard work into The Lightning Thief. The powers of the half-bloods and their weaknesses (like the ADHD and dyslexia) are well-explained and make sense in the context of this novel and there were no glaring errors in his personal mythology that I saw. I was a little miffed that Nemesis, the goddess of revenge and divine retribution and also my favorite Greek mythological figure, was gender-bendered into a man because she is female, but that was only problem I had with that. Otherwise, it was all good.

This novel took many of my expectations and smashed them into dust. I have certain images in mind when I think of the Greek gods and goddesses and their appearances in this book- along with some of their personalities- both contradict those images. Like Poseidon's image, for a good example. The way he's described beforehand and just the thought of the Big Three god himself, one would expect him to look a lot more regal than he does when we finally meet him. His chosen appearance in garb you would expect to see a stereotypical Florida guy wearing is jarring in a fun way that will probably make you smile. Other examples include Charon in an Italian suit and Ares in lots of leather and biker gear.

I was interested in the story and kept reading without getting bored, but I just wasn't emotionally involved. I cared about how the story worked out and loved Percy's narration of his journey, but none of the characters mattered to me that much. If someone like Annabeth or Grover had died, I would have gone, "Huh. That sucks." I have this problem sometimes, but I know I'm capable of being emotionally involved in a book. I just need the right author who can make me feel.

While reading this, I was reminded of the Harry Potter series a few too many times to be comfortable. I did not come into this book expecting or wanting it to be like Harry Potter (because while I think those books are fun and all, I'm not obsessive about them and don't seek out books while hoping that they're just like that.) I don't quite feel like going into the similarities I found, but they were there and you'll notice them pretty easily.

*Spoiler warning!*

At the end, I was a little puzzled because of Percy's mom. I understand why she was with Smelly Gabe: to protect Percy and hide her son's scent in Gabe's awful, overly human scent. Just a passing curiosity, but how did she know he smelled so spectacularly human? Did Poseidon point her to him? Once we reach the final pages of the novel, we discover that Gabe has abused her and Percy leaves her Medusa's head, which she uses to turn him to stone. So she's not brave enough to tell Gabe that she's moving out and wants a divorce once she comes back from being held hostage, but she has enough bravery to murder him? Because that is what she did. When she turned him to stone, he died and won't be coming back. The message of "abusive people get what they deserve" comes through loud and clear, but yeah... That whole thing bothered me a little.

*Spoilers over!*

(I saw the movie back in February when it came out, so my horrible affliction came into play while reading: I'm seeing the characters as the book makes me envision them through their descriptions, but I'm hearing the voices of the actors. That means that while I'm seeing twelve-year-olds kicking monster butt, I'm hearing eighteen-year-olds once they start speaking.)

While it was an entertaining read, I was unable to bring myself to care about the characters and certain parts of the story made me stare in a manner any bystander would have interpreted to mean, "You're kidding, right?" I didn't mention any of those certain parts because this is a children's book, after all, so it gets a little bit of leeway. It has the right to get a little sillier than I'm used to. I'm not feeling too inclined to read the sequels, but if I find them one day and really need something to read, I might pick them up.

4 stars!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Burned by PC and Kristin Cast

Okay, so this is a rewrite and repost of the second book review I ever did professionally. I haven't actually read this book since it came out in April; I couldn't reread it if I wanted to because I got rid of it.

Title: Burned
Authors: P. C. and Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Pages: 384 pages (hardback)
When friends stop trusting each other, Darkness is there to fan the flames….

Things have turned black at the House of Night. Zoey Redbird’s soul has shattered. With everything she’s ever stood for falling apart, and a broken heart making her want to stay in the Otherworld forever, Zoey’s fading fast. It’s seeming more and more doubtful that she will be able pull herself back together in time to rejoin her friends and set the world to rights. As the only living person who can reach her, Stark must find a way to get to her.  But how?  He will have to die to do so, the Vampyre High Council stipulates. And then Zoey will give up for sure. There are only 7 days left…

Enter  BFF Stevie Rae.  She wants to help Z but she has massive problems of her own.  The rogue Red Fledglings are acting up, and this time not even Stevie Rae can protect them from the consequences.  Her kinda boyfriend, Dallas, is sweet but too nosy for his own good.  The truth is, Stevie Rae’s hiding a secret that might be the key to getting Zoey home but also threatens to explode her whole world.

In the middle of the whole mess is Aphrodite: ex-Fledgling, trust-fund baby, total hag from Hell (and proud of it).  She’s always been blessed (if you could call it that) with visions that can reveal the future, but now it seems Nyx has decided to speak through her with the goddess’s own voice, whether she wants it or not.  Aphrodite’s loyalty can swing a lot of different ways, but right now Zoey’s fate hangs in the balance.

Three girls… playing with fire… if they don’t watch out, everyone will get Burned.


A little background info before I begin: I loved the first four House of Night books, though I still had my issues with them. When the fifth book came out, I wasn't fond of it, but it was decent. Tempted, the sixth book, was just awful. In accordance with my two book rule (in which one bad book in a series is a fluke, but two means that I will stop reading the series), Burned was going to be the big decision-making book. After reading this awful novel, I can safely say I am done with the House of Night series for good. The Casts will not make another cent off me.

After Tempted's cliffhanger ending, Zoey's soul has shattered and she's trapped in the Otherworld with Heath. As her friends scramble to being her back before her body dies, Neferet sees a chance to permanently eliminate the threat Zoey poses. Back in Tulsa, Stevie Rae is dealing with her Imprint on Rephaim and her fledglings, both good and evil.

The only positive aspect of this book was the mythology. The one thing that made the House of Night series stand out to me in the beginning was the unique mythology unlike anything else that was being written at the time. I thought the Scottish elements and the thing with the black and white bulls were blended in well with the Wiccan and Native American mythology already present. If it weren't for that, I would have dropped this series at the first book, so at some point, the books were bound to get so bad that the mythos couldn't keep me reading. This happened during Burned.

What bothers me the worst about this series? The language. Good God, the language. This novel is categorized as young adult (with an ages 12-18 target audience). Zoey's "voice" as the narrator and the writing style that accompanies it has the maturity level of a thirteen-year-old. Meanwhile, the subject matter that has come up over the entire series is for about fifteen and up, if not sixteen. I find this gap a little puzzling.

I don't know who the Casts are copying this language from because teens that are the same age as these characters? They don't speak like that. The Cast women's attempts at writing authentic teen language are so off-the-mark that it's almost insulting. Of course, what would I know about how teens talk? I'm just a sixteen-year-old girl enrolled in a public high school! Don't get me started on Kramisha or I won't shut up.

I don't like it much when the point-of-view in a novel jumps around like a kangaroo on speed, but that's what happens here. I didn't like it in Tempted when they started changing points-of-view, but it gets so much worse here. Just as something began to happen with one group, it would switch to the other and follow them for a while. I know that they changed from Zoey's point-of-view (which I was thankful to see less of in this book) in order to cover Stevie Rae's plot lines and such, but I wish they hadn't done that in the middle of the series. The constant bouncing between groups with rare input from Zoey was not too fun for me.

I hated Zoey from the start, but I didn't let my hatred of her stop me from enjoying the world-building and great supporting characters. What I liked least was how she strung along three guys at once for most of the series, which was fixed with some character rape (excuse my vulgar phrasing) and death. I was happy about that. Then Zoey told Heath that she couldn't live without him and wanted to stay with him forever in this book. So her loved ones back in the living world were collectively worth less than this one boy? Ugh! I hate to see girls in books saying that they can't live without this guy or would die without him. Yes, you will live without him and no, you will not die without him. When will they get it? Men are not like food! They are not required for living! It almost seems like fictional girls can't survive on their own anymore.

In addition, the villains were hardly frightening to me because they were hardly there. I'm quite surprised the all-powerful Neferet hasn't found a way to kill Zoey yet without implicating herself and once the Casts decide whether Kalona is good or evil, shout it from the rooftops and write it on the skyline for me. He flips back and forth more than the points-of-view. I used to take issue with how convenient it was for Stark to be the one person in the entire world who could save Zoey due to his lineage, but I'm a little more okay with that now. That's still a huge case of extreme coincidence...

There are also time continuity errors I didn't pick up until much later. According to my research, Marked was published in May 2007, so let's assume that the book began in fall of that year. (It's only logical, right?) In Betrayed, Zoey has been at the House of Night for a month and Christmas happens in Chosen. At best, a month or two has passed during the last four books alone (Untamed likely took place over a few weeks, Hunted happened over an estimated three days, Tempted and Burned probably covered about a week each). No matter what, it is impossible for more than a year to have passed within the House of Night series, though three years have passed out here. But what's this? In Burned, they make references to Glee, which didn't start airing until May 2009! And inside the books, it's still 2008! I call plot hole! If I made a mistake in that math or if more time has passed than I'm aware of, but I'm absolutely sure it's impossible for enough time to have elapsed inside the books to be able to make Glee references and have them be timely pop culture. This is why authors should be cautious and careful when using pop culture in their novels.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. Maybe I could have passed off Tempted as a fluke, but it's obvious now that the authors have lost what got me interested in the first place. The Casts have lost me and countless others who can't take it anymore as fans. There are more fans every day to replace us, so it's not like they're truly suffering any losses.

Usually, this rating is deserved only by those that have no good points at all, but the bad in this books easily overwhelms the good. If at all possible, don't bother with its book or the House of Night series at all. Save yourself the money and donate it to charity or something!

0 stars!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: August 16th, 2007
Pages: 336 (paperback)

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with an unbreakable bond to the earth's magic. She must be protected at all time from Strigoi; the fiercest and most dangerous vampires--the ones how never die.

The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a Dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making her one of them.

After two years of illicit freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. Rose will continue her Dhampir education. Lissa will go back to being Queen of the elite Moroi social scene. And both girls will resume breaking Academy hearts.

Fear made Lissa and Rose run away from St. Vladimir's--inside the Academy's iron gates, their world is even more fraught with danger. Here, the cutthroat ranks of the Moroi perform unspeakable rituals, and their secretive nature and love of the night creates an enigmatic world full of social complexities. Rose and Lissa must navigate through this dangerous world, confront the temptation of forbidden romance, and never once let their guard down, lest the Strigoi make Lissa one of them forever...


Dhampir Rose Hathaway and her best friend, Moroi vampire princess Lissa Dragomir have been on the run from their school for the past two years because something threatened Lissa and Rose, as her best friend and future guardian, had to get her away to safety. Once they're finally caught and returned to their school, the girls fall back into their lives in St. Vladimir's Academy with ease. Lissa rejoins the group of royal Moroi she'd been part of before she left; Rose takes her place among her fellow Dhampirs as one of their best (well, not anymore; she got weaker while she was away) and has to take extra classes with accomplished guardian Dimitri Belikov to catch up to her classmates. The problems that chased Lissa and Rose away in the first place return, fiercer than ever, and Rose doesn't plan to let Lissa's own Moroi powers and whoever is after her hurt her best friend.

After the last book I read, which was so awful that I couldn't even finish it and I created a vitriolic entry for it, I decided that I needed to read a good book to make myself feel better and work the rest of the rage out of my system. Vampire Academy is always a good read, so this was the book I selected and it did its job perfectly.

Out of the many vampire books/series out there for sale right now (and you know there's a lot of them), this is one of the better, more original, and overall more popular series. Instead of sticking with the traditional myth or taking the traditional myth and corrupting it beyond recognition, Vampire Academy uses vampires from Romanian folklore and enables them to perform magic. When I get bored of reading the same old stuff, I come to this series for a dose of originality.

I loved Rose because she was snarky, confident, imperfect (because she is brash, immature, and hot-headed, among other things) and and a fantastic best friend to Lissa. Even though it causes her a great deal of trouble to spirit Lissa away from St. Vladimir's, she doesn't give it a second thought because Lissa's safety is the most important thing to her. Lissa is a sweet girl who, although heavily dependant on Rose and a little ignorant of what is going on with her, will stand up for her best friend and even endanger herself while doing so because when Lissa uses her strange and mostly-unknown powers, it puts a strain on her mind and makes her exhibit strange and/or suicidal behavior. Their friendship is only strengthened by the magical bond that connects the two, allowing Rose to sense Lissa's emotions and slip into her head so that she can see what Lissa is doing. Other characters such as Dimitri and Christian (the love interests for Rose and Lissa, respectively) are just as lifelike and imperfect and I love everyone in this book- even the evil and minor characters.

Rose and Dimitri's relationship is one of my favorites out of all the books I've ever read because I feel that they get proper development. She wasn't in love with him at first sight; in fact, Rose asked in the very beginning of the book if they'd gotten cheap foreign labor (Dimitri, who comes from Siberia) to protect Lissa and act as her sanctioned guardian. As they spent time together during Rose's extra classes with him and even go on a trip outside the school with Lissa and a few other Moroi, I could see the two becoming close and developing feelings for one another. Their relationship is a forbidden one, but not the bad type; they both suffer genuinely and try to move on, but can't. Just when you think it might work out after all, something comes along and breaks your heart.

One of the antagonists has some decent development, but the other two... not so much. Mia, the childlike Moroi who has something against Rose and Lissa, is a rather two-dimensional minor antagonist. In later books, she gets some great development and by the fifth book, she is one of my favorite characters. Then the Strigoi, who will become the great baddies in the next book and all after, are very distant, looming threats until the last few pages of the book. For the antagonist that does get some development, I felt that they had the right reasons, but went about it all wrong.

There are a lot of deeper issues in this book too, such as how the Moroi depend so heavily on the Dhampirs to protect them from Strigoi. Due to Strigoi attacks, Dhampirs are lost in pretty good numbers and as a result, there is more pressure for more Dhampirs to become guardians and protect the Moroi, the people who made them. The Moroi could protect themselves by using their magic offensively, but they see that as taboo and only use magic defensively. The Moroi are forever above the Dhampirs, the latter are forever the servants. It's not very obvious, but if you pay attention, you can tell that in the future, there will be a little shakeup in the status quo.

There's also the matter of "blood whores," people (of any race, mind you) who allow themselves to be bitten by Moroi so that they can feel the endorphin rush that comes with the bite. Roe struggles with her wish to be bitten because for the two years she and Lissa were gone, she acted as Lissa's feeder so that Lissa wouldn't have to bite random humans. The only way to be more taboo is to allow oneself to be bitten during sex. This issue will stick with Rose for most of the series and it's not going to go away easily. It's a refreshing break from the hypersexual vampire novels, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, this series is one of my favorites, but this is not my favorite book of the series. That is a tie between Frostbite and Shadow Kiss. At times, it felt like a typical teen novel with vampires and I didn't find it funny when someone used their sexuality to get their way. Despite this, I love the Vampire Academy series and recommend them to all who would be willing to charge through this first book and get to the good ones. (Beware when you get to Spirit Bound, though. Rose gets pretty out-of-character, which makes that tie with this book as the weakest entry.)

4 stars!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

This is the very first DNF book I've had since starting this blog. Since I did not finish it (read: could not finish it), I will do a report on why I could not finish it instead. Don't expect a lot of DNF reports, but they will happen. Also, it will be profanity-laden, long, and more exact than a usual review. If I can't make myself finish a book, I've got some pretty good reasons why.

Title: Angel Star
Author: Jennifer Murgia
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing
Release Date: May 18th, 2010
Pages: 251 (paperback)

Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand--the mark of an angel.

But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel's malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.

Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel's sacrifice collides with another angel's vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.

Why I Didn't Finish This Book:

I tried, people. I tried to tolerate this book and find something I liked. But I could not. I gave myself until page 50 to find something worth reading for. I didn't want any questions about the book to plague my mind after I gave up, so I forced myself to page 84, where I finally said, "Screw this" and skimmed the rest of the book in about ten minutes and found that I had saved myself a few hours of misery. I have not hated a book like this since I read... let's say Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush all the way back in early 2010, around March or April. Isn't it a coincidence they were both angel books?

Here are the main reasons I didn't finish this book:

1) Insta-love. I hate it. I hate it when two people in a book instantly develop a crush on one another or fall in love with one another because I like to see a relationship develop over the course of the book. With insta-love, the author is copping out of that relationship development. I don't care what reason they have for falling in love at first sight. So what if they've been lovers in past lives or if one is the guardian angel of the other? Give me development or give me death!

2) "You need a boyfriend." This exact line is uttered by Teagan's "best friend" Claire and it pissed my little feminist off like little else can. Listen here: no girl needs a boyfriend. I have gone sixteen-and-a-half years without a proper boyfriend and I have never needed one. I want one, sure, but I do not need one because I am complete as I am, I can defend myself, and my primary happiness comes from me. There is a fine line between needs and wants. Just as food falls into the "needs" section--after all, how can you live without food? You'll eventually starve. Boys fall into the "wants" section because a woman will not die because she has no boyfriend. Don't ever tell me that I need a boyfriend.

3) Demonization of confident and/or beautiful girls. Brynn and Claire are both confident girls in this novel. Brynn is beautiful, confident in how she looks, and bullies Teagan. She flirts with Garreth while leaning into the window of his car and Teagan remarks about her "spilling an obscene amount of cleavage" into the car. Garreth remarks later that he doesn't like ostentatious girls. Meanwhile, Claire is also beautiful and confident in herself and before Garreth arrives, she protects Teagan. Later in the book, she turns on Teagan, gets controlled by her boyfriend, and ends up dead. It's the antagonist's fault, but why it happens doesn't matter this time; what happens to her does. I get that whole "the meek shall inherit the earth" thing coming from this book. Do you know what message I'm getting? Beautiful, confident girls are bad. Be insecure and convince yourself that you're plain so that you can get the boyfriend your "best friend" is convinced you need and become something great! I'm going to cut this off here because after this point, my rant would make a sailor faint and my computer explode. But this makes me pissed.

4) It is unrealistic as hell. I was rolling my eyes so much when Garreth arrived on the scene and everyone was talking about him that I was afraid my eyes were going to roll right out of my head. Both of my parents grew up in small towns (and I mean small- there was one school at each level for the entire county and one private academy with about ten kids graduating per year) and when I asked them if new kids got a lot of attention, they both answered that no, they did not. Do not tell me that shit was realistic because it was not and don't use the "it's just fiction!" excuse either because even fictional fantasy needs some elements of realism.

5) Boring characters. Teagan was a dull character with little qualities that made me hate her (see the reason below this one).  Garreth was the perfect love interest, which equals dull love interest because damn it, the guys need flaws too! I don't like perfect people! Hadrian, our villain with a name straight out of the Villainous Name Book, was a plain vanilla baddie; there was nothing special about him. He's just like every other bad guy out there who has the hots for the main girl for whatever reason. Claire and Brynn, our lovely confident girls who are demonized, are cliches and everyone else is even more unimportant than they are, so they don't matter.

6) I really fucking hate Teagan McNeel. I hate her name because Teagan is an awful name, in my opinion. I hate her personality because she is so insecure and I hate insecure heroines who keep telling themselves they aren't pretty when everyone else is telling them they are. I believe that every woman is beautiful and every time I hear a girl tell me she's not pretty, I go off on her. I just can't stand her! If she were real, I would be civil to her when I saw her because I would never be a bully and I wouldn't talk about her behind her back because that is even worse, but in my head, I would be ranting about her every second I was near her. Yeah, that's not very nice. I don't claim to be a very nice girl.

7) It's a fucking angel book! I don't do well with angel books. Heavenly? Superficial and infuriating. Hush, Hush? Off-the-scales horrible and pissed my little feminist off even worse than this did while also incorporating a future-rapist/rapist-in-training love interest. Fallen? Bloody awful. I got beaten with the Symbolism Stick just by reading the back cover because the main guy/fallen angel's name was Daniel Grigori (the Grigori are a group of fallen angels and I knew that before reading the book). His moods gave me whiplash and I gave up on page 100. But I gave this one a try because the summary made it sound so interesting and I've been anticipating it for six months and maybe this one wouldn't suck like other angel books. The friend I borrowed it from warned me that it had some of my worst pet peeves in there, but I gave it a try anyways because sometimes, our tastes differ in books. Why didn't I listen? I'm not even going to bother with fallen angel books anymore because there is apparently no expection to the "fallen angel/angel books suck" rule that I can find.

There are more issues that I didn't cover, such as Claire and Teagan's awful friendship, but these are the worst of the reasons.

My Reactions:

Just so you can see my reactions to this awful book, I went back through it for you and picked out what went wrong for me and my exact reactions to it.  I won't do this every time, but I had so many things in this book that made me go "Excuse me?" in some form that I believe you should be privy to it and the way my mind works.

1) The prologue, page 1: "...and the heavens wept for me." Oh really? You're so important that the skies cried for you when you apparently killed yourself? With a quote like this on page one, this isn't going to turn out well.

2) When we're introduced to the idea of popular bully Brynn Hanson, page 3: Oh God, here's the hot, bitchy cheerleader cliche again. Who wants to bet that she's going to be a slut too? And why are all of these girls in books getting bullied? I mean, damn, I know plenty of people who never got bullied once, but in books, they're everywhere!

3) A tour of Teagan's room, page 4: Ooh, angel sketches on the walls. I think I just got hit in the back of the head with something. Was that the Foreshadowing Stick? Nah, it couldn't be in a book called Angel Star. Nice job referencing A Great and Terrible Beauty. That's a kickass book.

4) We find out why Brynn bullies Teagan, page 4: So you got made fun of by Brynn for your hat and because you ate a fried egg sandwich that morning, a fit of vomiting got triggered. What the fuck that doesn't make sense at all!

5) Talking about her absentee dad, page 5: Ow, I just got hit with the Foreshadowing Stick again! Damn, someone's putting some real force behind that thing!

6) Meeting Teagan's best friend Claire Meyers, page 6: Great, the boy-obsessed best friend cliche decided to join the party! What's next, the perfect love interest? (Get away from my head, Foreshadowing Stick! Back, you fiend, back!) And Teagan needs a boyfriend? Excuse me bitch, but no she does not. No girl in the world needs a boyfriend. What she needs is a set of balls and a deadly weapon! Pet peeve number one!

7) Teagan sees something weird and Claire ogles a guy, page 8: Ah, there's the hypocritical action I knew was coming! So you drift off to la-la land while Claire is talking and see something funky, but I can hear you roll your eyes as you say "Forget it. I had lost her" while she ogles a boy elsewhere.

8) Teagan calls her life insane, page 9: Oh no you did not, bitch. You did not just call your life insane. So you live in a single parent home, are bullied, and have wonky daydreams. Guess what? There's about a million other kids just like you and millions more who have it way worse. Do me a favor and shut the fuck up.

9) Garreth arrives, page 10: Damn, this girl just spent half a page describing him. I think that she's going to bring up the color of his eyes a lot, so let's start the count now! Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 1. Man, I hate insta-love. Pet peeve number two!

10) page 11,"I had to speak soon or he would assume I was socially dysfunctional and at this particular moment that was a fate worse than death." This line is from Teagan. There are no words for how angry this makes me.

11) Teagan talks about how Garreth is like a god or a model and she's just plain old her, page 16: -gets held back by friends- Let me kill this girl and put us out of our misery, for the love of God!

12) Claire abandons her car and best friend in the school parking lot by riding home with her boyfriend, page 18: Yeah, that's such an awesome best friend! I want one just fucking like her! -foams at mouth- Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 2.

13) Brynn flirts with Garreth through his car window and Teagan sees, page 19: So because this girl is confident and is going after a boy she likes and just happens to bully you, she's spilling her cleavage all up in his face? Fuck you, Teagan. Not all girls have to be insecure little prats like you.

14) Garreth declares that he doesn't like "ostentatious girls," page 21: Fuck you too, Gareth. So you only go for the meek kind who won't stand up for themselves instead of the girls who won't take bullshit from anyone? Maybe that's why I haven't had a boyfriend yet! They would all rather have girls that worship them instead of girls who want to be their equals and won't take their shit. Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 3.

15) Teagan puts on makeup to look pretty for Gareth, page 24: So you're prettying yourself up in hopes of attracting this superhot guy? Try putting it on because you want to or it makes you feel good. You don't need to do anything to impress him, honey. Besides, he's already stuck to you like superglue. And  being told that you're pretty while being convinced that you're not... that sounds familiar! It seems that a lot of Mary Sues do that.

16) Claire accuses Teagan of reading too many vampire books, page 28-29: Well hell, if Teagan's not trying to be established as an everygirl/self-insert now, what else can be done? For God's sake, she's reading the same kinds of books that the targeted audience is! (Sadly, this includes me.) Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 5.

17) Teagan leaves to spend an afternoon with Gareth without telling Claire, page 32: Wow, so both of you easily dump each other without saying a word if a hot guy comes around and wants to take you somewhere after school. You don't give your friend/ride home any warning at all. How the hell are you two best friends again? Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 6.

18) People stare at Garreth and Teagan as they leave, page 33: First: this girl has no common sense, going off with a guy she barely knows. Second: OMG so interesting! This new guy (whom, if this were realistic, no one would give a shit about whether he's hot or not) is going out with this uninteresting girl who's pretty but convinced herself that she's not and gets bullied! We must fire up the rumor mills! (That was way too much sarcasm for once sentence to handle.)

19) Garreth and Teagan end up at the same coffee shop as Brynn and company, page 37: "Wicked groupies." This is the funniest piece of the book so far. Also, we get it Teagan; you're supposed to be with Garreth! You can stop beating us over the head with the magical feeling in your gut!

20) Garreth asks Teagan about her life, page 42: You're getting right to it, aren't you dear? Thank God! If this book were 400 pages long like some novels instead of just 250, I think I would have to kill this book. You're not exactly being subtle with your questions about living other lives, you know. You're lucky that God forgot to give her common sense or you would be on the ground vomiting because she would have kicked you in the gonads and ran away by this point.

21) Teagan eats dinner with her mother, page 52: Wait, so you just spent an entire chapter detailing a phone conversation with Claire and the event of Teagan and her mother eating dinner? This has no use at all! Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 8.

22) Garreth helps Teagan with a nightmare, page 56: He's in her room and it's nighttime and he's glowing and what the fuck is going on why isn't she freaking out even if its a dream (which it's actually not and she realizes this in a few pages) she should be freaking out like I am right now she needs more italics damn it! Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 10.

23) Teagan and Garreth go to a little chapel in the forest, page 62: For the love of God, can someone throw this girl a bag of Common Sense Beans? She needs them! She goes out to the middle of nowhere with a guy she just met two days ago because she feels like she can trust him. You know what? Gut feelings can be wrong. Don't trust a guy who shows up in your room as a glowing figure and whose eyes are required to be called blue once every six pages!

24) Garreth confesses his love for Teagan, page 66: God damn it, this girl is being spoon fed all of this stuff and she's taking it in far too easily. Did it ever occur to you to think about what you're being told? Maybe he's lying to you and plans to use you for something evil and is filling you with lies so you'll help him. Really now! Plus, I'm pretty sure Teagan's personality changed with each life, so he could be confessing his love for one of those past lives instead of for Teagan.

25) Garreth explains about Hadrian, page 76: Ooh, exposition dump! So Hadrian is a dark angel (don't you mean fallen angel?) who wants to wreak havoc and is Lucifer's twin brother and wants Teagan (probably so he can screw her)? I sense a love triangle! (Oh no, the Foreshadowing Stick is back!) And Houston, we have a Chosen One. God help us all. Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 11. I looked a page ahead and saw "pure of heart" describing Teagan. That's the one phrase you avoid putting on anyone for any reason- even as a Chosen One- because it automatically gets people thinking of Mary Sues.

26) Garreth breaks the news to Teagan that they only have eight days, page 83: So if Teagan resisted Hadrian and had a daughter, she would be more powerful than Teagan was and Hadrian would want to screw her too and make her evil? Ew... disturbing thought. And I lost all respect for Teagan here because when he told her that he would be earthbound and no longer her Guardian if he was there for longer than eight days, this sniveling bitch wants him to do that so they can be together. So she wants him to give up the divine calling he was created for and has been carrying out since her very first life so they can be together? She better be thankful that she's a fictional character because by now, she would be just plain dead.

End of chapter, page 84: Fuck this shit, I can't do this anymore! Number of times Garreth's eyes are blue: 12. Once every seven pages on average. That is way too many times!

In Summary:

After page 84, I screamed, shut the book, and took a ten-minute break, then skimmed the rest. I went looking at some reviews to see if anyone else had the kind of problems with this book that I did and I didn't find anyone who felt like this; most people liked it, in fact. Maybe I missed the entire point of the novel or I'm the wrong audience for this(though it's supposed to be young adult and I'm definitely a young adult). I came into this novel with few expectations, only knowing what little my best friend told me, so don't say I came in with a negative mindset. I never go into any book with the determination to hate it.

I swear, these are the exact reactions I had while reading. Go on and call me out for being overly mean and bitchy, but don't act like I'm insulting the author because I'm not. In fact, I thought Mrs. Murgia's writing style was quite readable. The problem was that her readable writing was telling an unbearable story. I've spent this entire DNF report taking aim at Teagan and the other fictional characters of Angel Star, not the real-life author. Don't mix those two up, please. I hope to see her telling stories in the future that don't make me want to twist off my own head and throw it into a wall because honestly? She has potential.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund

Title: Ascendant
Author: Diana Peterfreund
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 28th, 2010
Pages: 392 pages (hardback)

Astrid Llewelyn is now a fully trained unicorn hunter, but she can't solve all her problems with just a bow and arrow. Her boyfriend, Giovanni, has decided to leave Rome, the Cloisters is in dire financial straits, her best friend's powers seem to be mysteriously disintegrating, and Astrid can't help but feel that school, home, and her hopes of becoming a scientist are nothing but impossible dreams.

So when she's given the opportunity to leave the Cloisters and put her skills to use as part of a scientific quest to discover the Remedy, Astrid leaps at the chance. Finally, she can have exactly what she wants- or can she? At Gordian headquarters, deep in the French countryside, Astrid begins to question everything she thought she believed: her love for Giovanni, her loyalty to the Cloisters, and- most of all- her duty as a hunter. Should Astrid be saving the world from killer unicorns, or saving the unicorns from the world?


In the year since she was first attacked by a unicorn, much has changed with Astrid Llewelyn. She's become a trained unicorn hunter, gotten a great boyfriend, made friends with her fellow hunters, and saved the lives of countless people from killer unicorns. As unicorn sightings and attacks become more common, the changes in her life continue. Her cousin Phil is trying to get unicorns declared an endangered species while her mother is trying to glorify the hunters' existence by touring the television circuit; Giovanni is going back to America to go to college; the Cloisters is running out of money; Cory's powers are suddenly disappearing with no known cause; and Astrid is questioning all of the unicorn-killing she's been doing. When an offer comes along to stop killing unicorns and instead guard them for Gordian Pharmaceuticals, she jumps to accept it. While acting as the unicorn guard and dealing with life at Gordian, she comes to asks herself who needs the protection more: the unicorns or the humans.

I was a little worried about this book when I picked it up. I'd read a review of it at my favorite book review site and they didn't have very kind words for it, but because I thought Rampant, the first and previous book in the killer unicorn series, was great and the idea of murderous unicorns was awesome, I still wanted to give it a chance. I thought it was better than the reviewers said it was, but I still agree with many of the issues they had with Ascendant.

This book is incredibly introspective and much of the conflict is inner instead of outer- it was a nice break from the nonstop action or trying-to-be-action-and-failing action I see in most novels. A little inner conflict is great. Astrid is growing as a person and her relationships with almost every character are changing in some way while we discover more about the hunters' powers. One of the best parts of the book happened about three-fourths of the way through, when the powers that came with being a unicorn hunter became even more important (I will not talk about why because that would be a superspoiler, but trust me, it's good). Her most important growth occurs after this incident and watching her try to recover was hard, but I was so entranced that I couldn't stop reading.

At one point in this book, my eyes misted up, but I didn't cry. I will not spoil the event, but if development of those involved had been better, I have no doubt that it would have had me bawling. That's the difficult part of having so many hunters: it's hard to get development for everyone in, so when something happens to them, it's a little harder to feel for them because you didn't get to know them as well as you did others. I had to put the book down for a minute so that any tears that might have come wouldn't have gotten on the pages and ruined them.

If you tried to make me count how many times I rolled my eyes at Astrid and wanted to knock some sense into her, I would lose count quickly. But this is part of Astrid's charm because she's a human being. She has her ups and downs, she screws up and suffers the repercussions of her actions, and she's not perfect. She is just like any other person and even though she irritates me, I would rather have a heroine that makes mistakes and learns from them than someone who never learns or never makes mistakes at all. Characters like that are too perfect and Astrid is anything but perfect.

This book left many subplots unresolved like Cory's illness and the search for Seth, Phil's rapist from the previous book, among other things. At the moment, Diana isn't signed for a third killer unicorn book and (according to one rumor I heard, so I won't put much stock into it) she didn't realize this until she was nearly done with Ascendant. This could explain why there are so many unresolved problems, but even if she'd been signed for a third book, it was a little sloppy to leave so many open plot lines behind. It's fine for one major plot line to be unresolved when there's going to be a sequel, but leaving behind as many as this, sequel or no, was not a good idea.

There's one other bit that is very unclear, but due to the level of spoilerage there would be if I talked about it, I won't. I will tell you that it's at the end of the book and when you reach that point, I'm sure you'll recognize exactly what I'm talking about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but the number of unresolved plot lines, combined with the likelihood that a sequel won't be coming any time soon, takes it down at notch. Honestly, I'm being too soft on this. I should be giving this two ukuleles, but I liked it so much that I was willing to shave one off. If a sequel does come, I hope it's able to clear up all of my unanswered questions and make that last thing I mentioned much clearer because I don't get it!

4 stars!