Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book Review: Alice in Zombieland

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

"I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish." 
Quoted from Goodreads


The new teen version of the popular trope to turn traditional classics into horror stories?  No. This is not the next Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book.  In fact, besides a few hidden gems and nods to the original story, it's not really like Alice In Wonderland at all.

Alice never believed in monsters and thought her father was certifiably crazy until the accident, when she watches zombies eat him . . . and we're down the rabbit hole.  I'll be honest, this book has a lot of the standard YA stereotypes: girl moves to a new town, absent parents, super-hot and mysterious guy, special powers and secrets she was previously unaware of, etc.  But despite all this, the story is still fresh and fun.  It doesn't have to reinvent the wheel to be original.

The pacing of this book is perfect.  There is action and mystery, secrets and reveals that keep you up reading way later then you wanted (and yes, I stayed up until 1:00 reading, even though I was trying to be asleep before midnight).  The zombies themselves are rather fascinating.  They aren't your typical rotting corpses. Think Zombie-Ghosts. With teeth.  There are still a few details I'm a bit confused about,  but there are two more books, so I'm sure all my questions will be cleared up.

Plus, zombies aren't the only villains.  I love books with multiple threats, and this one delivers. Yes, you've got the straightforward zombie menace, they want to eat your brains, etc.  Then there is the more sinister, evil disguised as good threat, that adds an amazing dimension to the plot.

Alice herself is inquisitively charming. I liked seeing the contrast between her inner pain and doubt and the tough, somewhat sarcastic face she presented to the world. I adored her best friend, Kat.  I know the name is somewhat overused recently, but she is loyal, funny, and absolutely confident.  Even though she's a secondary character, she could be the main character, as in, she has her own stuff going on.  She isn't the goofy side-kick or the annoying idiot that makes the hero look better in contrast.  She keeps her own secrets, has her own love life, and yet is always there for Alice when she needs her. And Alice's grandparents, they were adorable as they tried to relate to a traumatized teenager by using her "slang." It was too cute.

If you're looking for romance, it's also here. I liked Alice and Cole's chemistry and that she didn't take any of his crap.  She absolutely won't let him, or anyone else, intimidate her, even if they're "doing it for her own good." Yeah, that's a line I get sick of. Still, it's use is minimal in this book, so I'll let it pass.

If you're looking for a book with fun characters, creepy monsters, and a few good fights, this is one to check out.  I was a little leery when I first picked up this book, but it absolutely earns its four stars.  The writing is good (I mean, this is the author's 30th book or something, so it should be), and I found it to be a fun surprise.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flashback Friday: Beware the Fish

Okay, don't judge me.  I love this book.  I realize it's older than I am and not in a classic, will live forever sort of way.  Not that it's not hilarious, because it is, and not that everyone shouldn't read this growing up, because they should.  No, it's rather dated, and not in the the let's explore how social structure of the fifties (or late seventies/early eighties) sort of way.  Still, this book made me randomly burst out laughing while I was growing up, and it's one of the ones I absolutely had to own (though it took about 5 used bookstores for me to find it).  And again, Google images, Goodreads, and Amazon have all let me down.  Not once did I ever find the cover I grew up loving, the one with the crazy lady in a bathrobe and curlers sporting a shotgun and a flashlight trained at poor Boots and Bruno. Ah the tragedy.  So, here's the sad, generic "updated" version of the cover and a quick summary.

"Macdonald Hall has never been like this!" shouts Bruno.  "The food is garbage . . . our rooms are freezing . . . and there's cost-cutting all over the place.  What's going on?"

What is going on?  Is Macdonald Hall going broke?  Not if Boots and Bruno can help it!  Fortified with Care packages from the girls at Miss Scrimmage's school, the boys devise some fantastic, fundraising schemes--involving not only The Fish (Headmaster Sturgeon), but also the police, who track the mysterious Fish image, appearing on local TV screens, direct to Macdonald Hall!

Quoted from the back of my copy of the book (by Scholastic Book Services), the one that sadly  I can find no images for.

In a nutshell, this book is about two best friends, Boots and Bruno, and their crazy, school-wide schemes to save Macdonald Hall, their Canadian boarding school. I realize there are a few too many exclamation points in the summary, but it's a kids book first published in 1980, so I'll cut them some slack.  Still, this book is so funny.  I re-read it a couple of years ago, and it still made me chuckle.  Kids today may have a hard time imagining a world with no cell phones or video games--oh wait, Harry Potter lived in a boarding school where there were also no cell phones or video games, or even TV, so I don't actually think that will be a problem.

This book is full of fun, colorful characters and crazy situations.  It's also a book about friendship and loyalty.  How many kids have been this supportive and in love with a school since (or before) Hogwarts?  How many kids worry about the headmaster loosing his job?  No matter what kinds of craziness the main characters get into, and they get into a lot--from UFOs to visiting girls and building pyramids . . . out of soda cans--they are always looking out for each other and their school.

I give this book a laugh-out-loud  4 stars.  It's funny, has great characters, and hilarious mishaps.  Yes, it is more suited to twelve-year-olds, but anyone can enjoy this book, and if you can find it, I absolutely recommend it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Theater Thursday: Beautiful Creatures

I realize the Beautiful Redemption doesn't come out for another month, but I had to show everyone the Beautiful Creatures trailer I just saw.

Now aren't you all super excited!  Seriously, I can't wait.  Plus, it looks like a pretty faithful adaption. I'm always happy for authors when film makers try for to get a book right, so here's a quick description of the book. 

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.

At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
Quoted from Goodreads

Doesn't that sound great?   I've really enjoyed this series, and I hope the movie does it justice.  So far it's looking great.  Now we have roughly five months until the movie comes out, so everyone grab the book and get reading before it gets too close (Because no matter how good the movie is, I firmly believe you need a few months between reading the book and watching the movie. Sadly, no movie can capture everything in the book.  Even the five hour Pride and Prejudice missed a few things). Plus, the forth and final book comes out next month.  I'm so excited!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review: Hidden

Jacinda was supposed to bond with Cassian, the "prince" of their pride. But she resisted long before she fell in love with Will—a human and, worse, a hunter. When she ran away with Will, it ended in disaster, with Cassian's sister, Miram, captured. Weighed down by guilt, Jacinda knows she must rescue her to set things right. Yet to do so she will have to venture deep into the heart of enemy territory.

The only way Jacinda can reach Miram is by posing as a prisoner herself, though once she assumes that disguise, things quickly spiral out of her control. As she learns more about her captors, she realizes that even if Will and Cassian can carry out their part of the plan, there's no guarantee they'll all make it out alive. But what Jacinda never could have foreseen is that escaping would be only the beginning....

Loyalties are tested and sacrifices made in the explosive conclusion to Sophie Jordan's Firelight trilogy. Quoted from Goodreads


Okay, so you're probably not supposed to compare books too much when you do a review, especially when they aren't related, have different authors, subject matter, etc.  However, I read Sophie Jordan's Firelight the same week I read Andrea Cremer's Nightshade, so the two series have always been sort of tied in my mind. I mean, there's the strong, special girl as the main character, both shape-shift (draki/wolves), have a boy pre-chosen for her by her pride/pack.  She meets another boy with mysterious powers who she falls in love with (so both have love triangles).  Both series have evil, controlling people leading said pride/pack and outside threats who hunt the pride/pack.  From there, of course, the plots differentiate, but there are a lot of similarities.  For my money, though, I absolutely choose the Firelight trilogy.

I should probably start out by saying you should read the first two books, Firelight and Vanish.  I mean, they have a fun, fresh take on dragons (well, draki) and are full of conflict and and new mythology.  As this book starts, Jacinda, Will, and Tamra were running away from the pride, but Cassian's sister Miram  was captured, so before they escape forever, they decide to help free her. Thus begins the conclusion.

Honestly, for me what made this book fun is that it all took place in a couple of action packed days.  We got to see the mysterious enkros, had showdowns with the Hunters, and solved the mystery of who betrayed Jacinda's father.  Plus there were several new characters I really enjoyed . . . cough . . . Deghan . . . cough.  I also felt Tamra grew up a lot, and while I didn't much care for her insta-love thing, I really did like the fact that she found someone who is perfect for her, began to fulfill her potential, and finally stopped whining.  

This book had a lot of fun moments.  We got to see Jacinda fight another draki and meet others outside of her tribe. It was interesting (albeit sad) to see how humans viewed the dragons they captured and the types of tests they ran on them. I especially liked when Jacinda and Will payed stupid teenagers in love for a bunch of Hunters. 

Then there's the love triangle. Okay, there might be a few spoilers here, but nothing that I don't think was obvious.  I've never been a fan of Cassian as love interest, and honestly the love triangle felt forced to me.  Will was always the clear leader in the race for Jacinda's affections, and I liked that in this book, Jacinda doesn't lead Cassian on.  Yes, she has a few problems leaving her old life behind to run away because crazy things keep happening, but I didn't feel like it was Cassian that was holding her back at all.  At this point she had picked as side and stuck with it. Thank goodness.

My biggest problem with the book was trying to figure out what Jacinda looked like in her Draki form. I know it's a little thing, but it sort of drove me crazy.  I need an official picture. At first I thought it was like a mini-dragon, scales, nose, sharp teeth and claws, the whole bit. But they kept saying things, like she had skin around her mouth that the duck-tape covered when she was captured, etc, and she had her hands tied up in draki form, etc.  I could never quite figure out exactly what she transformed into.

All in all, Hidden was a great ending to a fun series, and a nice, quick read.  I give this book 3 stars straight across the board.  It wrapped everything up nicely, without too much epilogue.  You could see the direction everything was going. It wasn't perfect, but it was hopeful, and I felt satisfied with the conclusion, and if there's a spinoff series, I will absolutely read it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Review: Cursed

Dying sucks-- and high school senior Ember McWilliams knows firsthand. After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. 

However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't? But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not have been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life. For real this time. Quoted from Goodreads


So many issues, so, so many issues I hardly know where to start. First off, I guess I should preface my review by saying I like Obsidian and Onyx, and Jennifer Armentrout's Lux series. They are what drew me to Cursed in the first place. I think they're fun, have great characters, and a good plot.  I also think Armentrout is a good storyteller.  Her books draw you in and make you want to keep reading, so I will absolutely keep reading other books by her.


Yes, there is a but.

This book drove me absolutely crazy.  You can ask my family, it honestly put me in a bad mood.  And this book is supposed to be a stand alone. If it was a series, I would probably like it better, but the ending was horrible---Be warned, from here on out, I'm giving away basically the whole plot, so there are tons and tons of spoilers.  If you don't want to know, don't keep reading, but I can't review this without giving some major stuff away---I'm sorry, but so you killed the crazy guy trying to kill you?  That's nice, but you're still living with a family of creepers who kidnapped you and mind-wiped your best friend.  How is that possibly okay?

Okay, I'll back up.  First off Ember gets kidnapped along with her little sister.  Then Cromwell and his "family" tell her, if you can't accept living her with us, not giving away our secrets, and not trying to run away, we will keep your sister and send you to "The Facility," basically a place where the government locks up and trains (read: tortures) kids with gifts. Then when she tells her best friend she is staying with family (because she isn't stupid enough to tell him she was kidnapped by a crazy family of paranormals) and he comes to visit her because he is worried (I mean, she left suddenly, aka was kidnapped), they wipe his mind of all his memories of her.  Then they get mad at her for not telling them that she told her friend where she was staying, claiming the mind-wipe thing it is all her fault.

And in the end, these people are supposed to be the good guys?  I'm sorry, but in what universe could they ever be construed as decent human beings? Oh, wait, I guess they don't even think of themselves as human. In fact, they don't eat lunch with humans, or really associate with them at all because they're "gifted." If they were good, why didn't they talk to Ember straight up instead of kidnapping her in the beginning?  She was desperate, and the home they took her to could have been a refuge, but I guess where's the drama in that?

Then there's Ember's love interest, Hayden.  Yes, he is sweet to her and gorgeous and tries to help her control her curse/gift, but he also believes that the mind-wipe thing was justified, blaming Ember for not telling him, and he stalked her for two years.  I get that he is a broken boy and is drawn to Ember because of everything she suffers, but how could Ember ever really fall in love with him when he supports the his adopted father and helps kidnap Ember? Can you say Stockholm syndrome?

Plus, he still sympathizes with his empathic "sister," Phoebe, who put dead bunnies, nooses, and models of the car-crash that killed Ember and her father in Ember's locker because she doesn't like her.  You would think since Phoebe can literally feel how miserable Ember is, she might try and help a little, but no.  Let's just scare the girl into running away or being taken by the Facility. Yeah, lovely family of creepers we have here.

Now to the ending.  Okay, so throughout the book someone has been trying to kill Ember. Finally she gets kidnapped, big stuff is revealed, mysteries solved, etc.  But not really.  Yes, Ember kills the bad guy before he kills her, and everyone discovers she has partial control of her gift. But she also finds out that Cromwell tried to train someone else with her exact gift years before and failed. He "tried" so hard to help and did horrible things that caused the girl to commit suicide.  Then, when the Facility tries to take Ember away, he doesn't let them, stating,"She's mine now.  And she's very important."  Does it get any creepier than that.  I mean, the girl who can kill with a touch is his and very important?

But in the end this is supposed to be okay?  Cromwell tells her he would have never sent her to the Facility, though he threatened her with it earlier in the book. So am I supposed to believe that Ember's life is going to be great now.  Yes, she can kiss her beautiful boyfriend for almost a minute now (which is how the book ends), but she is still basically being held captive by a creeper family.  The absolute only difference in her situation now is that she is in love with one of them, and she has partial control of her ability.  Oh, and they didn't kill her father. That's it.  The mind-wipe thing is never addressed again, and suddenly they look so much better because someone worse kidnapped her from her kidnappers?Yes, let's introduce another villain so we can pretend the love interest and his family aren't a bunch of crazy psychopaths.

The worst part about this book is that there isn't a sequel.  If there were, I would think that all these issues would be taken care of or at least addressed.  I would be okay with the ending, probably even her being with Hayden, because obviously the author would, after a lot of struggles, pull out some kind of escape or punishment or mind-wipe and leave us with a slightly less creepy ending.  As it is, why is Ember happy? Because she is in love, and therefore all is forgiven?  I don't get it.

As far as writing goes, this book is probably 3 stars for me.  Obviously Jennifer Armentrout drew me into the story and made me feel things (mostly frustration and irritation, but at lest she made me feel things and care about the Ember).  As far as how much I liked the book though . . . 1 star. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't get over the aforementioned issues.  I know most people like this book, and that's fine.  I really wanted to as well, but I couldn't.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Book Review: The Crown of Embers

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy. Quoted from Goodreads


So, so, so, so, good!  I'm always a little bit afraid to read the second book in a series because you never know how it will turn out.  There are some series that keep getting better, while others suffer from major sophomore slump.  I won't name any names, but too often the second book is more filler between the first and third with little substance and less plot. Not so with The Crown of Embers.  It absolutely lived up to Girl of Fire and Thorn, possibly even surpassing it.

One of the things I loved best in the first book is Eliza's transformation from sad and pitiful to someone strong  and daring. Honestly, I thought, how much more can she grow? But she absolutely did.  Her transformation may not have been quite as drastic as in the first book, but she kept learning throughout the story, becoming more and more the person she is supposed to be.  I love how honest and realistic she is as a character. It's impossible not to cheer her on.

This book starts with a bang and goes up from there.  It honestly grabbed my attention immediately and never let me escape.  I love the mix of political intrigue, action, and subterfuge as Eliza struggles to maintain her kingdom.  She won the battle, but her problems keep on coming both from outside and inside her own realm.  Then there's her control of the Godstone.  While she is learning, there is so much she still doesn't know, and the surprises just keep on coming.

While action, characterization, and setting all continue strong in this second book, what really set it apart from the first one is the romance.  I won't name any names, but in the first book it was minimal and sweet.  It helped Eliza grow up, and she learned from it.  In this second book, it is much more present and absolutely perfect.  It was everything you could ever want from romance, without overpowering the main story plot, and I loved it.

And the ending!!!!!!  Honestly, it's like the end of Catching Fire. You know there are problems that the third book has to deal with, and then they do something (like destroy a certain district that shall remain nameless), and you sort of just sit there in shock and wish with everything in you that the third book was already out and sitting next to you so you could gobble it up immediately.

This book is absolutely 4.5 stars, with the real chance that it may become more.  I'm still a little bit caught in Rae Carson's world. I haven't quite been able to rip myself out, so I'm waiting for a little objectivity to set in.  Still, the writing is wonderful, the story plot explosive, and the romance gut-wrenching. What more could you possibly want in a book?  If you're looking for a great fantasy, this is it.  It is everything a YA fantasy should be and more, and I can't wait to see what Rae Carson will do next.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flashback Friday: The Only Alien on the Planet

New town, new school, new friends. It was difficult for Ginny at first, but her senior year is finally starting to feel kind of normal. That is, until she sees him--the beautiful mystery in her English class. He has never spoken a word to anyone. He moves through each day at school without making eye contact. His name is Smitty Tibbs, but everyone calls him the Alien.

Ginny is convinced there's more to the Alien than his muted exterior. But as she attempts to break into his safe and emotionless world, she realizes her efforts might be causing more harm than good. Has she gone too far, or not far enough? Quoted from Goodreads


The beautiful thing about Flashback Friday is I can choose books I have honestly, truly loved for years and years.  I know they are amazing, standing the test of time.  There is no fear that I will love a book while I'm reading it and change my mind a week later when I take a step back from the story and really think about it. This is why everyone should read The Only Alien on the Planet.

I should probably warn you up front: there are no aliens in this book.  Despite the title and, if you get an older copy, the cover, this book is has nothing sci/fi or paranormal about it.  It is a book about relationships, people, family, and growing up.

I first fell in love with this book because of Ginny. She is a great character, utterly realistic and fun.  I love that she has crushes on boys to make her senior year more fun. I love that she honestly considers herself a coward, though she can also be brave.  She is simple to relate to, has a great voice, and grabs your interest from the beginning.  

Then there are her friends and family.  I absolutely adore how normal and functional everyone is.  She has a great relationship with her parents and brothers.  She makes good friends at school (Caulder and Hally), who have their own lives and drama but would do anything for her. 

And then there's Michael S. Tibbs--or Smitty or the Alien.  He is the mystery of the book (and like I said, not a vampire, alien, werewolf, or secret superhero).  I love discovering what happened to him and the struggles he faces.  I won't say too much about it because I don't want to give anything away, but he gets better and better as the book goes on.

Absolutely 5 shimmering stars. Despite all the good things I've said about this book, I don't quite know why I love it so much more than so many other books.  Maybe it's Randal's writing, the characters, the the triumph in the end, or some combination of those three and more. I really couldn't tell you. All I know is that this book is amazing.  It is one I read over and over again.  

Oh, on a side note, there are two versions of this book. The original that was published in 1996, and then one that came out again a few years ago in paperback and for kindle, nook, etc.  Don't get me wrong, they are almost identical, but they are not quite the same.  Personally, I own them both (yes, that is how much I love this book), so if you're interested, check them out.  I mostly like the changes in the second one.  They make the book even better, but there are a few scenes in the first one that I love and wish the author hadn't changed.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Theater Thursday: The Hobbit

Okay, so I saw this preview, and what can I say. I'm way too super excited for this movie. I realize it's not a book, which goes against the whole idea of Rachel's Reads (I mean, it's not Rachel Watches) but I couldn't resist.  Every once in a while (probably on a Thursday because, let's be honest, it's a great name, but not every Thursday because I don't have enough movies to feature one every week) I am going to get excited about books being converted into films. Or angry. I mean, there are some really bad movie adaptions out there.

This is absolutely the one I am most excited about right now, and I'm sure I will feature it here several times.  If you want more, you can always check out The One Ring, which is an amazing site for everything Lord of the Rings related. Until then, enjoy this lovely new preview.

Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!! now I'm counting down the days until December 14th . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: Unraveling

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed--as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows--with every fiber of her being--that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something--but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened--the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life--points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets--and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming. Quoted from Goodreads


This is how the world ends.  Literally.

Okay, so I've read a lot of Utopia/distopia books lately, and they all have one thing in common.  Once upon a time, the world ended, and then strange societies rise up out of the ashes, and thus the story begins. In contrast, this book is about the end of the world, and I love it.

The book starts out with paranormal leanings.  Janelle is mystically saved by a mysterious boy after being run over by a truck and dying.  See? Paranormal.  But things quickly move into scifi/mystery territory and tend to stay there the rest of the book.

Plot: In the beginning Janelle was hit by a man who's face was literally melting off.  He suffered from extreme radiation burns, and was basically dead when he hit her. So besides Janelle's miraculous recovery, there is the question of what happened to the poor man who ran her over.  And things just go up from there. Everything keeps building and building up to a perfect climax.  The book has lots of short chapters (sort of like The DaVinci Code) that forces you to keep turning pages when you know you shouldn't. Plus, there were a couple of things that happened that completely blindsided me.  I also really liked the countdown to the end.  It helps build the sense of urgency as the numbers grow lower and lower (and no, they didn't stop at 00:00:00:01, so you an avoid that lovely cliche).

Characters:  First and foremost, Janelle.  I really liked this girl.  She is smart, over achieving, caring, funny, and has an excellent voice. She comes across as real, confident, yet vulnerable. Then there's her Dad.  Honestly, you don't see him in the book all that much, but I felt like I really got to know him, and he was a great character.  Now Alex, her funny best friend, who stands by her, but will call on her crap when she makes a bad decision.  Finally, Ben, the mystery boy/love interest who sort of starts the end of the world. Yes, that's right.  He sort of does.  Are you intrigued?

Just a heads up, this book does have some language issues, nothing that you wouldn't hear daily in Jr. High---oh wait, yeah, Jr. High is worse. I thought the writing was good, though filled with a few too many pop culture references, which will unfortunately date the book a little.  

This is yet another lovely 4 star book.  What can I say? I like experiencing one author's version of the end of the world, or at least a lot of catastrophes.  This book is an excellent mix of a small group of people's problems that have global repercussions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Review: River of Time Series

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one. 

Remaining means giving up all she's known and loved . . . and leaving means forfeiting what she's come to know--and love itself. Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site, until Gabi places her hand atop a hand print in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces. 

There she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father's castle--a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi's summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world? Quoted from Goodreads


Today I'm going to do something different, something I probably won't do very often because, let's face it, I can't really afford to squander 5 books in one review, but here it is.  Today I am reviewing the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren.

Okay, first the best part of this series: It is over!  That doesn't sound very nice, and she may write another add on, but the original trilogy is finished, so no waiting, no picking up the third book and trying desperately to remember what happened in the first two.  The trilogy is complete, and you get two novellas that serve as a sort of bonus features/epilogue kind of thing, tying up loose ends and giving us another glance into Gabi's world.

This series is just fun. I love the idea of experiencing the past, of meeting people whose way of life and even way of thinking is vastly different from our own. I liked Gabi and Lia, the way they handle the obsticles put in front of them and their willingness to help those they love. Gabi makes a good narrator because she comes from our time, so the reader learns along with her. She is impulsive, headstrong, caring, and committed, and I enjoyed her as a character.  Plus, she has Marcello, who, let's face it, is sweet, brave, and ridiculously patient with this odd girl from the future.

I'd call this series historical-lite because it reads more like a movie than a lot of historical fiction I've read.  Don't get me wrong, the setting is in place, but the author doesn't focus on the minutia of life back then.  Everything is more plot driven than detail oriented, so if you're looking for a fun adventure, this is it.  If you want to learn more about daily life in fourteenth-centuary Italy, you might want to keep searching.

Personally, I like the battles. There is a lot of great fighting, running, and rescuing, and Gabi and Lia are right in the thick of it.  While that may be stretching believability a little bit, I like a girl who can fight for herself and defend the people she loves.  I also enjoyed how fragile life is in this world. Okay, that sounds morbid, but I don't mean it like that. One of the big themes is to live in the moment, not in an yolo sort of way (and sorry, but I sort of think yolo is the carpe diem for stupid people), but in a don't let your fear of the future stop you from embracing the present sort of way.

Now, were the books perfect?  No.  Honestly, when Gabi uses slang, it sort of makes me cringe.  It reads like a mom trying to sound like a teenager to me---not always, but there were a few really bad moments. The time travel mechanics are kind of weak and never explained very well. Plus, the whole warrior girls from the future who also speak Italian and Latin are kind of stretching incredulity, but suspend your disbelief.  The adventure is absolutely worth it.

I really liked these books.  They are fun, plain and simple.  They have the triumph of good over evil, true love conquers all, and a belief in destiny, all of which are the core of really fun escapes. As far as how much I liked the series, I have to give it 4 stars.  Writing . . . that's probably more of a 2. It's kind of like the movie version of  The Princess Bride (but not a comedy).  You know there are ridiculous problems (and some of the sets are really fake), but you love it so much you just don't care.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Amanda Monday: It's a Mall World After All

I struggled a lot deciding what book to highlight this week.  I know a lot of really great books, but all the ones I thought of reviewing just didn't seem right for me.  Either it had been too long since I'd read the book, or I just wasn't in the mood to write about it even though it was good.

Then it hit me: whenever I feel this way when searching for a book to read, I always turn back to one of my tried and true favorites by fabulous author Janette Rallison.  I guess the same applies to choosing a book to review, because once I thought of her, I was instantly gung-ho and ready to go.

It's too bad they don't give out diplomas for what you learn at the mall, because I could graduate with honors in that subject.  No really.  Since I've worked there, I've become an expert on all things shopping-related. For example, I can tell you right off who to distrust at the mall:

1) Skinny people who work at Cinnabon.  I mean, if they're not eating the stuff they sell, how good can it be?

2) The salesladies at department store makeup counters.  No matter what they tell you, buying all that lip gloss will not make you look like the pouty models in the store posters.

3) And most importantly--my best friend's boyfriend, Bryant, who showed up at the food court with a mysterious blonde draped on his arm.

Yeah, I saw it, and yeah, I told my best friend all about it.

You would think this would mean trouble for Bryant, but you would basically be wrong.  Somehow, the evil boyfriend turned everything around, and now I'm the one who has to prove myself!  But I will. Even if Bryant--and more importantly his best friend, Colton--keep trying to stop me.
Quoted from Goodreads.

This book falls into one of my favorite categories: FLUFF.  This is by no means a disparaging term, at least when I use it.  A "fluff" book is one that is fun, light-hearted, usually predictable, very funny, and always, always entertaining.  Scholars and high-brow readers would look down on such a book the way a health nut would look down on brownies and ice cream and chocolate.  But those of us out there whose reading habits are a little more relaxed would find such a book equally palletteable.

Our heroine, Charlotte, has the delightful job of spraying customers with perfume samples at her local mall.  While there, she makes the most of her boring job by people watching, and consequently, she catches her best friend's boyfriend with another girl.  The rest of the book is her trying to prove it to her friend with the reluctant help of her cute love interest Colton.  A definitely silly premise, but Charlotte is a likeable enough character that you would probably love her no matter what conflict she was thrown into.  A perfect mix of smart and naive, gutsy and awkward, kind and overbearing, she makes you laugh and groan all at the same time as she bumbles her way around trying to help out. . . even when her help is not wanted.

Are her awkward moments a little bit over the top?  Well, yes they are.  Is the plot a little bit too ridiculous and predictable?  Mmmm, probably.  But I am willing to forget all of that because it is predictable and ridiculous in a VERY funny way.  I chuckled the entire time I read this book, and that is why I love it.  

I would give the writing of the book 3 stars because the plot is a little contrived.  However, I give the book 4 stars based on how much I liked it.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who is having a "blah" type of day and needs a little something to pick them up.
Oh, and if you like this book, be sure to check out other Janette Rallison books.  I chose to highlight this one because I just read it, but some of her others are equally, if not more so, entertaining.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review: Shadowfell

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill—a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk—Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec.

During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death—but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban’s release from Keldec’s rule.

Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban. Quoted from Goodreads


You know that part in Lord of the Rings after they leave Rivendell but before they reach the Mines of Moria?  That is Shadowfell: lots of walking, getting to know the fellowship (characters), minor adventures, almost freezing, and the reader can't wait for the next chapter.

Seriously, I can't think of a more apt description. Juliette Marillier's writing is gorgeous as always. She has a way of weaving words together that is timeless and poetic as it transports you through the world she created.  But this world is depressing.  I understand that the king is a tyrant, but there is absolutely no light in this girl's journey and only a sliver of hope.  Honestly, I forced myself to keep reading through the first third of this book because I wasn't having any fun.  I admit, it doesn't help that I was sick while reading this, but I felt melancholy a lot in the beginning.

After Neryn meets Flint, things start looking up, and not in the, oh look, a pretty boy here to save her sort of way.  Yes, he absolutely helps her, but it is the mystery stuff that got this book moving.  Can she trust him?  and Who is he really? That's what picked up the pace for me a bit.  Plus, with him, she isn't starving and about to die from exposure all the time, which was a refreshing change. Don't get me wrong,  I liked Neryn.  She has good common sense and makes the best out of a bad situation.  She learns on her journey and makes intriguing friends. She is kind and understanding, but she can't do this alone.  In a better world, maybe. But not in the darkness that is Alban.

So back to my Lord of the Rings analogy, this book is a nice set up. There is good tension and near misses, close scrapes and unexpected surprises. I liked learning about Marillier's world and characters.  I liked the mythology and different people's gifts.  I liked Flint's ambiguous character and Neryn's struggle to trust.  But I feel like this is just a great buildup to the real adventure.  I am really excited for the next book to see where the story will go.

As far as writing goes, this book is a solid 4.5 stars, but as far as how much I liked the book, it's probably more like 3.5.  This is the sort of book you read on a long, sunny afternoon, or curled up with a blanket on a cold, rainy day, not when you're sick or freezing. If you are, you may find yourself sympathizing a little too much with the Naryn's suffering, and Marillier puts that poor girl through  a lot.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book Review: Silver

Brianna has always felt invisible. People stare right past her, including the one boy she can't resist, Blake Williams. But everything changes at a house party where Brianna's charm bracelet slips off and time stands still. In that one frozen, silver moment, Blake not only sees her, he recognizes something deep inside her she's been hiding even from herself.

Discovering she is descended from Danu, the legendary Bandia of Celtic myth, Brianna finds herself questioning the truth of who she is. And when she accidentally binds her soul to Blake, their mutual attraction becomes undeniable.

But Blake has his own secret, one that could prove deadly for them both.

Bound together by forbidden magic, Brianna and Blake find themselves at the heart of an ancient feud that threatens to destroy their lives and their love. Quoted from Goodreads


No. Just no. Do not bother.

I hate giving negative reviews, but this story . . . I just can't jump on the bandwagon and recommend this. Here's the thing, the premise of the book is good.  I love incorporating Celtic myth and a girl who has lived her life next to invisible.  It is an excellent premise.  Plus the promise of mystery!  What is Blake's deadly secret?  I mean, how could I not pick this book up.  Oh, and the cover!  I love it. It is beautiful and lovely.  But you know what they say about books and covers . . .

This is the thing.  I pretty much hated the characters.  First there is Brianna.  Half the time she is a sweet, normal girl, and you kind of like her. Then she does something needy and stupid.  I mean, in the very beginning she has so little self confidence that she makes out with a boy whose name she doesn't even know because he notices her (and she may be a little drunk, so I get the whole lowered inhibitions, etc.) and lets him feel her up. I mean, the girl has never even been kissed. Is this really how the author wanted to introduce her main character, the one everyone is supposed to like and relate to? Then on Brianna and Blake's first date, they sleep together because she just can't help herself, and that is where the story's conflict really starts.

Now Blake. The first time he sees her, he claims the right to kill Brianna (sorry about that spoiler, but it's kind of obvious and it happens in the first chapter). He know something bad would happen if they slept together, but she was just so beautiful, he can't help himself.  Yeah.  So I'm going to buy that this is true love?  Honestly, I don't care that there is a curse involved.  Their whole relationship is shallow. There is no reason given for them to be together besides the curse and their amazing attractiveness. Can you say lasting relationship?

Then there's Brianna's friends.  Half the time the treat Brianna like crap, and boys always come first. I especially disliked Christy.  She is a complete airhead, lets guys treat her like dirt and still goes back to them, and gets mad at Brianna for trying to steal aforementioned crappy boyfriend. Like anyone in their right mind would want him.

The thing is, I wanted to like this book.  A lot of the concepts in it were amazing (Celtic mythology/magic, the difference in their powers, the whole seventh generation thing, and girl hidden in plain sight). Even the writing was pretty decent, but I just didn't like the characters or their relationships.  I love a properly done star-crossed lovers plot, and I didn't even really mind the love triangle (partly because I didn't really feel like it was legitimate.  Who she was going to get with was too obvious). But the characters themselves and the relationships were rather repulsive.  The more I thought about it, the less I liked it.

So this book is going to receive the sad 2 star rating.  It could have been fun if I had liked any of the characters, but as it is . . .

Friday, September 14, 2012

Flashback Friday: Daddy-Long-Legs

I have decided every Friday to highlight a book I read a long time ago.  Most of the books I've posted about have either a) come out in the last little bit or b) I just read in the last month, but there are so many other amazing books that I have enjoyed over the years. Thus I have created Flashback Friday, where each week I will review a book from back in the day. This week is the inimitable Daddy-Long-Legs.

Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on the Board, "Mr. Smith," decides to send her to college, as long as she writes to him faithfully detailing her education. Through a series of letters Jerusha writes to "Daddy-Long-Legs," a relationship filled with affection and respect develops . . .  

 Originally published in 1912, Jean Webster's coming-of-age tale continues to be relevant to young women today.  Quoted from Goodreads


I love, love, love this book.  The author is funny, descriptive, and created in Judy an amazing character.  I don't usually like books written in letter form, but this one really is absolutely amazing. Case in point, I picked up this book before I started this review to read a couple of key scenes and re-associate myself with the writing style, main character, etc. I couldn't put it down.  Seriously, there is a little voice inside my head that keeps whispering, "Write later. Read now." And the really pathetic part about it all is that I re-read this book about three months ago.  Yes, three months!  So it hasn't even been very long since I last read it.  That is how good it is.

First there is Judy, the poor orphan who is fortunate enough to be sent to collage by the mysterious "Mr. Smith," aka Daddy-Long-Legs.  She is hilarious.  Her letters are so full of life and humor you can't help but fall in love with her. Plus, she was an orphan, stuck in a home with very limited exposure to the outside world, which makes her voice perfect for reading today.  Everything is a new, fresh adventure the reader gets to experience with her.

Then there is the setting.  I realize that this book actually was written as a contemporary piece of fiction, but since it was first written 100 years ago exactly, it serves more as a window to the past. I love the feeling of what life was like back then.  I mean, the Titanic sunk, World War I was on the horizon, and everything was changing.  This is a look at the small, daily life of one person.  It's fun to see the differences between college now and college then, the attitudes of people, and little details that are taken for granted in the book and utterly foreign to me now.  It's better even then historical fiction, because it isn't someone today imposing what they think on the past.  It's absolutely genuine.

Plus there is romance.  I know that is important to some people, so I want to reassure you. It is quite sweet watching Judy fall in love.

This book is absolutely 5 stars.  It is one of those books I have read a dozen times, and I still love it. If you like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, or Little House on the Prairie, this is an absolutely must read.  Here's a quote from the book just to give you a taste of how amazing it is.

When I think about you, my imagination has very little to work upon. There are just three things that I know:
       I. You are tall.
      II. You are rich.
     III. You hate girls.
I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's sort of insulting to me. Or. Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting you you, as though money were the only important thing about you. Besides, being rich is such a very external quality. Maybe you won't stay rich all your life; lots of very cleaver men get smashed up in Wall Street. But at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you won't mind. It's just a private pet name---we won't tell Mrs. Lippett.

P.S. There are 150 different versions of this book on Goodreads, and you can look at all the different covers, yet they don't have the cover that is sitting next to me. Neither does Google Images. It's very aggravating.

P.P.S. Fun fact about Jean Webster.  She is actually Mark Twain's niece.  Great writing obviously runs in the family.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review: Unspoken

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him? Quoted from Goodreads
Well, my lovely readers, yet again I am going to gush about this book.  I was first introduced to Sarah Rees Brennan when I read her Demon's Lexicon series (which I have yet to convince anyone to read.  Honestly, I think it's the cover, which could be better).  In fact, I trusted her enough that I didn't even read the above summary before reading the book.  I knew it was a paranormal mystery and that there was a gothic influence, but that's it.  No character's name, no plot points, not even the main conflict. And I loved it.

I loved Kami's character.  Think half-asian Veronica Mars/Lois Lane (but more VM). Enough said.

Seriously, she was smart, focused (started her own high-school newspaper), knew what she wanted, had very present and involved parents, and quirky friends.  I feel like Sarah Rees Brennan sort of took everything that she hated about a lot of contemporary female characters in YA and made absolutely sure Kami was none of the above.

Let's examine the whole bond between her and her "imaginary friend" Jared.  When she finds out he's a real person, we could have a) insta-love  b) been creeped out because suddenly a real person literally knows everything about you c) scared but willing to work through this to become friends d) kill the other person to get rid of the voices in your head.  If you guessed b and c, you are correct!

I really liked the way she explored what you would really do if the voice in your head suddenly was a real live flesh and blood person.  And for all I loved Kami, I also loved Jared in a different way.  He sees and feels things very differently from Kami.  Despite their lifelong connection, they come from completely different backgrounds,  including, but not limited to, where they grew up (USA vs. England) Family life (supportive vs. neglectful/evil), gender (obvious), race (half-asian vs. beautiful blond), etc. And this affects the way they think and act about their sharred bond.

Plus, I think Sarah Rees Brennan is funny.  She likes to throw in little witty clips all over the place, many of which make me smile. This can be slightly embarrassing in public, so be warned (but you might be safe.  City of Bones also cracked me up, but no one laughed like I did, so it might just be me. But probably not).  Now, to be fair, there was a spot or two that made me go, what?  (like the rainstorm and the tower. I had to read it three times before I really got it), but that may just be the mysterious setting being a bit too mysterious. Still I give her a 3.5 for writing (three because it was good, and the extra half because it made me laugh).

By far the biggest problem with this book I had was the ending, as in, Is she trying to kill me?  June 2013 can not come quickly enough.

I absolutely give this book 4 stars.  It is great, especially if you like British writers, mystery mixed in with a gothic (and I'm talking Jane Eyre and The Fall of the House of Usher) setting, and great characters.  Maybe after you all read this, you will go back and pick up the Demon's Lexicon, and then I will finally, finally have someone to talk to about these books.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Angelfall

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again. Quoted from Goodreads


This is the exception to the rule, the book that laughs in all the other books faces, a dream within a dream.  Okay that last line was from the Princess Bride and sounds more like Inception than this book, but still, Angelfall is amazing.  Why?  you ask.  Because it was self published and about angels.  

I know!

I've read self published books before and most of them are a smoldering mess of, well, primordial goo probably comes closest.  Many of them have potential but they needed an editor, and a lot of them really needed someone to just say no.  They weren't ready to be thrust upon the world. 

Then there's the angel thing.  While I loved the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (which hardly counts) and let's face it, Unearthly by Cynthia Hand is unparalleled and magnificent, the angle genre is full of mediocre books.   Luckily this was not one of them.

Let's start with characters.  Penryn is a kick-butt heroine, no question.  She is smart, emotionally stable, focused, keeps her priorities straight, and has been taking all sorts of self-defence classes since she was five---to protect her from her mother.  Yes, her mother suffers from schizophrenia, and in one of her more sane moments, signed up her daughter for all sorts of classes because she was afraid she might kill her.  Isn't this sounding delicious already?  The author gives us a seventeen year old girl with a crippled, seven-year-old sister, a crazy, demon seeing mother, and a father who abandoned them a year before. Then Susan Ee destroys the world just to give poor Penryn something to do.

Okay, this also sounds a little bit like Hunger Games.  In truth, it kind of is.  Not the plot.  From here on out it is completely different, but the hope amid violence, the fight for survival, and amazing characters are the reminiscent.  After I finished Hunger Games, I recommended Blood Red Road and Divergent to anyone who wanted something similar.  This would be right up there with those books. 

Then there's the relationship with Raffe (pronounce Rah-fee).  I love enemies working together, unsure how far trust goes, and the slow build up towards friendship. This is the thing: they both have goals and those goals aren't sunk in a sea of raging hormones.  There are soooooo many obstacles between them, but the little hint at romance was wonderful, and I can't wait to see what happens in the next books. 

As for the world, I found it delightfully creepy.  Things happened that made me cringe, but there is also hope and humor.  My only problem is that the world ended, basically, only six weeks before the beginning of the story.  I admit, millions died and chaos reigns.  I get that.  But everything seems more like the world ended years earlier.  I mean, they were eating cat food at one point.  Plus, I'm a little confused at the Angel's motivation for what they did and lack of a clear hierarchy, but I'm hoping those questions will be answered in the next book.

Now for the writing.  This is going to be hard for me because unless the writing is horrible or beautiful, I don't pay much attention.  In most cases a three or four is probably better than a five, because a five draws more attention to the words themselves, distracting from the story.  So as far as writing goes, I'm going to give this book a 4.  The writing was good.  It creeped me out and gave me hope; was show, not tell; and easily let me follow the action of the characters in rich, vivid detail.

As for whether I liked this book, it should probably be obvious by now. 4 stars all the way.  Give me a month or two and it might even hit the five star mark.  This is an excellent book, and like I said before, the exception to the rule with self published books.  In fact, you should all just buy this, because it's only $2.99 right now at Amazon. It's not out on Nook yet, but it is only $3.60 online at Barnes and Noble for the paperback. Now, what to do with my time until the second one comes out . . .