Review: It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

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Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction
Pages: 304
Series: FBI/US Attorney #5 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Jove

4 Stars

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After three unfortunate reads in a row (didn’t even make it halfway, with any of them), I needed a win. Julie James always gives me a win.

Vaughn and Sidney have a not-so-great first meeting. Vaughn hits on Sidney and tries to ask her out and Sidney, who is jaded and quite judgy after her previous train wreck of a relationship, is kind of an asshole to him. She make a lot of assumptions about him and Vaughn is like ‘well, fuck that!’ and he leaves.

Then they find out that Vaughn’s brother is marrying Sidney’s sister and they’re kind of stuck together until the wedding. They obviously don’t get along, because of Sidney’s prejudice and Vaughn’s complete disinterest in spending time with a girl who would dismiss him as some douchebag without knowing anything about him. But between the bickering, there’s a spark, and since neither of them are interested in a relationship with the other, they don’t feel that there’s any harm in exploring the attraction.

It’s a fun relationship. I liked their bickering and the fact that neither was trying to win the other over. They met because of the wedding and pretended to be civil even though civility was the farthest thing from their minds. I liked the two of them and I liked the slow build of their relationship, how they slowing came to like one another.

But… they were also two of the more frustrating characters by Julie James. Because even as they grew to have feelings for one another, they were in denial about them! Vaughn, because he didn’t want to be in a relationship just then and because he knew Sidney wasn’t interested in him. And Sidney, because she had a legit list of characteristics to find the perfect guy and she was really fucking fixated on it. Also, she was adamant that she would never fall for a guy like Vaughn (because that’s not offensive) and she knew that Vaughn wasn’t interested in a relationship.

I get why they were that way. They both has their misconceptions and their ideas about what they needed to have a good life, and they didn’t want to get hurt. But why couldn’t they be just a little more open about their feelings?!

Plus, I didn’t always approve of Sidney’s actions. It’s human nature to judge, but she was a bit of an ass about it. And she was hypocritical. She judged Vaughn for being the kind of guy who had a lot of flings (even though she had no right to tell him how to live his life) but she was doing the same thing! Still, it was hard to be truly mad at her because after what happened with her ex, it would’ve been impossible not to be a cynic.

Overall, I really liked this novel. The frustration wasn’t fairly mild and I liked the story and the characters, even the siblings, who I forgot to talk about. This was a fun and light read and exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend that you read something by Julie James. She’s great.

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About Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Genre: Young-Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal romance
Pages: 391
Series: Hush Hush #1 (4 book series)
Release Date: October 19, 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster BFYR

1 Star

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This doesn’t feel like a review to me. Maybe it’s because I only read 115 pages (give or take) or maybe it’s because I knew before I even finished the first chapter that I wouldn’t like it. But mainly it’s because the format I’ve chosen for this non-review is quite different from my usual.

Synopsis first, though. And I’ve chosen the one from GR, which I will later dissect.

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

For now, I’m just gonna leave the synopsis right there, and move to the first chapter.

It’s the month of April and Nora goes to school. In her biology class, her eccentric teacher decides to change the seating arrangement and Nora ends up with Patch next to her. It’s cliché but not worth more than an eye-roll.

The biology teacher starts the class off by asking then what science is. And I’ll admit that it’s been a few years since I’ve been to school, but in what universe does a junior biology class, in April, start with that question? Then we find out that it’s because science is about investigation and that means both students on each table must learn about each other, providing the perfect excuse for MC interaction. Cut to me questioning my life choices, because seriously? It’s biology! Biology don’t give a fuck about your hobbies!

But you know, this non-review is going to get very long so I won’t waste time. Next, Nora and Patch have a conversations. And it’s one of the most fucked up conversations I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. For instance, this is the first thing Patch says to Nora:

“Call me Patch. I mean it. Call me.

Now, even if we ignore the creep-factor, this makes no fucking sense. Why would he say that? She just learnt his name, they’re in class, she doesn’t even have his phone number! This doesn’t even mean anything! And that’s just the beginning of the conversation. He then proceeds to tell her that he has a collection of her pictures. He also knows stuff about her that he shouldn’t. Like the fact that she writes poetry in secret and which colleges she’s considering. He also asks her if she sleeps naked. Then there’s this:

He hooked his fingers under the seat of my chair, dragging me closer to him. Not sure if I should scoot away and show fear, or do nothing and feign boredom, I choose the latter.

I-I can’t even find words other than, what the fuck is wrong with you, Nora?

Because throughout this whole thing, it never once occurs to her that he’s a creepy stalker and that maybe she should inform someone. It’s like she has no survival instinct. Or brain cells. And this was just the first meeting. Can you imagine how much worse things could get? I’ll try to give you some idea, but one more excerpt from the “meet-cute” before I do that.

“Are you suicidal, Nora?” His eyes connected with mine, and I could feel him laughing.

I don’t think words are necessary to elaborate what’s wrong with that. The next meeting is in a club or something. Similarly fucked up. No biggie. No, it’s when they met in class again that’s of note. Their teacher asks them to elaborate on the things they look for in a potential mate. Because see, they were studying reproduction. And reproduction isn’t any different from matchmaking class, right?

I swear to fucking God, shit like this made me wonder if the author’s ever been to school. It’s probably been a long time, though the maturity of her content does give me some doubts, but you can’t forget that much. You must still remember what kind of stuff you studied. Because you missed biology big time!

The “complexity of human attraction”? It’s like she’s just making shit up! I get that school isn’t usually given much importance beyond being a place the two protagonists meet, but can you at least try to not turn it into a complete joke?

Anyway… going forward from the topic of how much this book sucks, let’s talk about how much it sucks. Nora is a terrible protagonist. She has basically no spine, no brain and even though she thinks Patch is shady, she can’t help but be pulled toward him because of how good-looking he is. And I know not all books have a life lesson, but the least you could do is not tell people it’s okay if a guy is a potential psychopath as long as he’s also very hot.

Plus, the whole “pulled toward him” thing. Nora feels that he’s dangerous. She’s wary of him and might even be a little afraid. But the author shows all these things to be appealing. Just… NO! If you think a guy might really be dangerous and might actually harm you or someone else, that’s not exciting! Fear and danger are not good things! And they don’t mean that you like the guy! Jesus Christ, no wonder teenagers are fucked up, if this is what passes for romance!

*deep breaths*

Now that we’ve establishes that both Nora and Patch have issues and their dynamic is the farthest thing from healthy, let’s talk about Nora’s friend, Vee.

To put it simply, she’s a terrible fucking friend. For one, she doesn’t care about anything other than sex. And even in Nora’s rare moments of sanity, in which she acknowledges that Patch may not be a stellar guy, Vee encourages her to ignore her instinct because the guy is so hot, she just has to have sex with him. She even jokes about Patch stalking Nora because you know, a guy following you around all the time without your knowledge is absolutely fucking hilarious. Later on, Vee suggests that they break into the office that keeps records about students to find out more about Patch, and this happens:

“I called in a bomb threat from the pay phone outside,”

She called in a bomb threat to create a distraction! I could literally stab this girl to death and not feel an ounce of guilt, that how much I hate her.

And finally, to wrap things up, how about we go back to the synopsis? Nora’s never really been interested in guys at her school (it’s not as big a deal as the book wants us to believe) but her friend, Vee, still pushes them at her. Clear evidence of a sucky friend. Then Patch comes along (what kind of name is that, anyway?) and she’s pulled to him “against her better judgement”. Red alert!

But then some scary shit happens and Patch seems to always be around, knowing more about her “than her closest friends” (because he’s a fucking stalker). She’s not sure if she should, and I’m once again quoting here, “fall into his arms or run and hide”. Now sweetheart, if some part of you wants to run and hide, that probably means he’s not the kind of guy whose arms you want to fall in to! Not to mention, the whole ‘falling into a guy’s arms because you’re scared’ thing just set gender equality back about 50 years.

What I’m trying to say is, even the synopsis has red flags. And you can take that any way you want. Maybe it’s honesty, or maybe the crap is being hidden in plain site. I just felt like I needed to mention it even though it doesn’t change the fact that I fucking loathed this book — the parts I read, at least — and I highly suggest that you steer clear.

Review: Moonlight Sins by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Pages: 400
Series: de Vincent #1
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Avon

3.5 Stars

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First of all, I didn’t know that JLA could do dirty. Steamy, sure, but must-be-seventeen-or-older-to-read kind of stuff? I didn’t know that was her thing. I guess it’s because I haven’t really read many of her adult romances. I might give them a shot because I liked this book. I had problems, many of them, that I will list below. But at the end of the day, I liked it. It kept me interested, I liked all the characters and the mystery element was good. That doesn’t change the fact that this book was a total tease.

And I’m not even talking about the fact that the GR synopsis was a bald-faced lie. Like, it mentioned a plot point that didn’t happen. At all. But I can ignore that. These things aren’t usually up to the author and publicists make bad decisions. The problem is that the book itself is a tease.

In the beginning, we’re introduced to three brothers. The de Vincent family is obscenely rich and the brothers have just found out that their asshole of a father hung himself. But because he was an asshole, no one’s upset. They’re more concerned with the media circus. And Lucian de Vincent, the male protagonist, is concerned about his twin sister, who, only a few days ago, showed up after ten years of being missing, and is in a somewhat vegetative state. Lucian’s brothers think she may be faking. He doesn’t. But they all agree that there are suspicious things happening.

Enter Julia. She’s a nurse and has recently landed a job to care for Lucian’s sister. Lucian is instantly attracted to her, even if she’s having none of it because he’s necessarily her boss. It’s not forbidden but seems like a complication to her. Not to mention, unethical. She too notices that there’s something not entirely right about the gigantic de Vincent mansion.

So basically, the author has created an environment of mystery and danger right off the bat. Which is why it’s all kinds of wrong when the focus isn’t on the mystery at all! You do not get to set up a creepy mansion and a murder mystery, only to spend 300 fucking pages on foreplay! It’s unfair and misleading. I’m not saying you can’t have a romance, but can we please focus on the more interesting stuff that you’ve delegated to the background?

And this just the first problem. I have others. For one, there were an unusual amount of typos. And while I can usually count on JLA’s books to have an easy flow with the writing, this time it came off a little choppy. Almost unedited. I have some examples:

“I better get out of here before they kick my ass out of here.”

I really think that he really didn’t want to have any more children

There were faint black smudges along his bare chest. Streaks he had no idea how they’re gotten there.

You can tell that it’s unpolished. And whenever you’re getting into a book, stuff like that takes you out of it. Like a glitch in the movie playing in your head. Not sure what went wrong but I’m hoping it’ll be fixed in the sequel. Because I’m really interested in all the other characters and I want to know their story. Lucian and Julia’s story was good. I liked the two of them, which was a little unexpected.

You see, I’d expected Lucian to be this broody guy who rarely smiled. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was funny and charming. Julia was the overthinker. But really sweet and caring, not to mention strong despite being afraid a lot.

Overall, there were ups and there were downs. I wished the focus on the romance had been a tiny bit less and the pace a little bit faster. There was a point (after halfway) when things started to drag. But I still liked the book. And it’s killing me that Goodreads still won’t let us do .5 ratings. What are these people doing?! Get with the program already! God!

But anyway… I think the book’s worth checking out.

Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

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Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 404
Series: Sky Fall #1
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Star

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What first drew me to this novel was the role reversal. Usually, in Urban YA fantasy, we have a girl who thinks she ordinary but then this mysterious guy comes into her life and tells that about the supernatural world. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. Just that it’s a norm.

In this novel, there’s a guy who thinks he’s a normal human being. His name is Vane Weston, he survived the tornado that killed his parents when he was just seven, and doesn’t remember life before that event. He thinks he’s perfectly normal. Then Audra, the girl who’s been haunting his dreams for as long as he can remember, shows up and tells him that he’s a sylph, an air elemental, someone who can communicate and command the wind. She also tells him that he’s a specific kind of sylph, a Westerly, and because he’s the last Westerly, an evil, power-hungry guy is hunting him down and will go to any length to get to him.

They only have a few days in which she must train him enough to survive. But that’s not the point. The point is that she’s the mysterious stranger who knows everything. And I love that. Gender swaps are so much fun.

Back to the plot. Bad guys are coming to get Vane, they have no backup because Audra’s bitch of a mother is a bitch who suggested that if all went wrong, Audra could just sacrifice herself to win the fight. Yeah, she suggested that her own daughter kill herself. Have I mentioned that Audra’s mother is a bitch? Her father was great but he died protecting Vane, and Audra’s taken it upon herself to protect him too, at all cost. The only way that cost won’t be her life is if Vane can learn something he doesn’t know.

You see, there are four kinds of sylphs for four kinds of winds. Each kind have their own language to control their wind. Anyone who knows all four will have a lot of power. The other three languages are known, but not Westerly. And only Vane, being a Westerly, can learn it and becoming very powerful. Or they’re screwed.

Great concept, isn’t it? I really liked it. And I loved how the world building was done because while it was just Audra explaining things to Vane, his reaction to everything was so authentic! And also quite sarcastic. It was almost like the author sat someone down and tried explaining the world to them, noting down what made the most sense to them. She did a really good job with the dialogue and the world and the characters. Especially Vane.

Imagine being told you’re not human and that you have powers.  The way the author wrote about him finding everything out, it felt real. Also, Vane is awesome. I really like this guy. He’s snarky, stubborn, caring, resilient and very relatable.

That’s not to say that Audra isn’t awesome. She’s just kind of broken as well. She blames herself for what happened to her father and Vane’s parents. She’s gotten no love from anyone since that storm and she’s spent years in isolation, caring about nothing but her duty. It’s not a good life and she’s so strong in dealing with it, but a person can only take so much. Vane and Audra are quite different but they’re both really good people and care about each other a lot. I loved them together. Their relationship hit all the right notes with me.

Overall, this is a great novel. It’s fascinating, fast paced, has great characters and a really sweet romance. I highly recommend checking it out.

Review: Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes

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Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 413
Series: Falling Kingdoms #4
Release Date: December 15, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill

4 Stars

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I’ve always known that this isn’t a very “good” series. I mean, it’s not a bad one, just one that you enjoy but don’t think too much about. It’s the kind of series that lacks grit, often glosses over details, has a lot of showing substituted with telling, and in which many convenient things conveniently happen. But that’s not always a bad thing. I always knew and accepted this series for what it was. But still, I was afraid that my opinion would have changed, and I’m glad to say that it hasn’t.

As for the reason I’m rewriting this review, it’s because writing stuff down helps me organise my thoughts. So let’s get started, shall we?

This book kicks off with Lucia having gone to the dark side and working with Kyan, the fire kindred. Cleo and Magnus are trying to deal with the fact that they lost the water kindred to Amara, the crazy, brother-killing, Kraeshian bitch, and Jonas is… I don’t really care. Probably trying to be rebel-y and failing.

Seriously, I don’t get why Jonas seems to be such a big deal. He is utterly incompetent. But, on a positive note, at least he tries to do the right thing. Does it change that fact that I was a better rebel at eight than he is currently? No, it doesn’t. But older (or younger) me seemed to have hope for him so I’m holding on to that. We still have two books left, maybe he’ll do something worthwhile. And maybe Lucia will stop being a spoiled brat who throw a mass-homicidal hissy-fit because her boyfriend died. Those two need help.

The two that don’t need help are Magnus and Cleo. Sure, their personal relations are complicated but they’ve grown quite a bit since the series started, especially Cleo. I like those two, and they’re my ship. Let’s just hope we can put Theon whatshisface to rest.

Let’s talk Theon. What is it with the importance given to him? He was basically created to die. I knew moments after he was introduced that he was going to die. But the author still keeps bringing him up! And don’t give me that Cleo-loved-him crap. She barely knew the guy and did not love him. I get that he was the main conflict between Cleo and Magnus, but the author needs to stop stretching him out. He was barely in a hundred pages and needs to be put to rest already. Though I have a feeling he won’t be.

And, on a related note (it’s related in a spoiler-y way), can someone punch Nic, please. I don’t remember whether I liked him in the previous three books but after this one (both times), I want him to got to hell.

Overall, this was a good book and I enjoyed it. I didn’t get my OMG moment but one came pretty close. I also have hope that I’ll get my squad. And I like that it feels like we’re building up to a climax. I’m interested to see what will happen next. This is turning out to be a good series, better than I expected when I read Falling Kingdoms.

Review: At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Genre: Young-Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Pages: 496
Series: None
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Star

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You know how, when you read a high fantasy, you start off confused because you don’t know the world yet and then slowly, as you read, you find out more and more stuff and by the end, you familiar with everything (given that the book you’re reading doesn’t suck). Well, imagine that scenario, but the opposite.

Going into the novel, I though I had a fair idea of what I was getting myself into, a YA contemporary with featured a protagonist with a mental illness. After finishing, my reaction is on the lines of ‘What just happened?’.

The author left a lot for the reader to speculate and while a part of me likes that, I have so many questions. But synopsis first: The protagonist is Ozzie and his boyfriend has disappeared. Like, not run away or gone missing, but erased from existence. No one remembers him and all traces that there was ever a guy names Tommy have vanished. But Ozzie remembers him and he’s determined to find him. Even if everyone thinks he’s delusional and the universe is rapidly shrinking.

Yes, you read correctly. The universe is shrinking. At least according to Ozzie it is. But that’s not something I’m going to talk about. Just go with it, okay? This is a really good book with an increasingly intriguing plot. Of course, some might be bothered by the open-ended-ness of it and if you’re one of those people who like their fiction to be more concrete, I’d suggest avoiding this one. But if you like strange stuff, this is a good choice. Still, I wanna know at least one thing because I do kinda like concrete stuff.

It’s about Cal and Trent. Cal is the guy Ozzie teams up with to find his boyfriend and starts to like, despite not wanting to like him. Trent is a major douche. What I wanna know is what happened between the two of them. There’s history there and I there were hints that stuff happened, but I don’t know and it’s bothering me.

And I’m sorry to those who haven’t read the book to whom the above paragraph probably didn’t make sense. I just have questions. And, before I turn the review into even more of a mess than it already feels like, let’s talk characters.

We have Ozzie. Sarcastic, resilient Ozzie who can be a little self-absorbed but still cares deeply and is quite likable. We have Cal who is kind of broken. There’s Trent the douchebag and two of Ozzie’s friends, one of whom, Lua, is especially interesting. We also explore Ozzie’s relationship with his parents, who are getting a divorce, and his brother, who’s joining the army. Then, of course, there’s Tommy, the maybe-imaginary boyfriend. We get chapters of moments that Ozzie remembers between himself and Tommy. Safe to say, there are a lot of people in Ozzie’s complicated life and they’re all balanced really well.

Also, this isn’t a short book, but it doesn’t feel long because it pulls you in. There are many unexpected turns. You could even say that all the turns are unexpected. It’s really interesting, seeing what’s going on and trying to guess what will happen next.

Overall, I’ve already told you to whom I’d recommend the book. It’s a really good one and definitely worth checking out.

Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

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Genre: Adult, MM Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 308 (but really long)
Series: None (but there are bonus short stories)
Release Date: April 6, 2009
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

4 Stars

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Jesus Christ, this book was gi-fucking-normous! I mean, by big-book standards, this is short but for a book that was supposed to be 308 pages long… let’s just say that you’d need a seriously large book with some seriously tiny font to accomplish that because this was about twice as long as it was supposed to be. Stop lying to me, Goodreads!

But anyway, the confusion of length is one of the reasons I’m really confused as to how to rate it. Because I feel like I can’t give it less than four stars just because I finished it. I mean, it wasn’t exactly difficult to finish but still, I had some problems.

The story is about Jack and D. D is an killer-for-hire but he only takes contracts for people who, in his view, deserve to die or who are bad people. Jack is not a bad person. He’s a doctor and recently witnessed a murder. He’s putting his life on the line by agreeing to testify in court, and because he could get some bad people sent to prison, said bad people want him dead. And they blackmail D into taking the contract. But D can’t do it. And since someone still wants Jack dead, not to mention the trouble D will be in for not killing Jack, they have to run away together.

That’s where the whole thing starts. Jack and D are on the run, trying to escape the people trying to kill them while also trying to find out who’s after D and why. They have to stay safe but Jack still need to show up in court on the date of the trial. In the meantime, they have to get along.

D is a very closed off person. Partially due to the reason he has the job that he does, and partially due to the things that his job require him to do; he’s reached a point where you could say he’s barely human. He exhibits almost no emotion, he sleeps and eats little and has no interest in intimacy of any kind. Jack, on the other hand, is an open kind of guy who requires some form of friendly companionship. He’s not so good with isolation.

And I gotta say, I had some difficulty with Jack. For one, he just wouldn’t shut up. But that’s probably because the book would never go anywhere if he did. Still, he needed to tone down the nagging. The main problem wasn’t with that though. It was with the way he was written, his narrative.

Jack sounded like a young man who was wiser than his years. Like when a character is mature but you still know that he’s eighteen. Not that Jack sounded like an eighteen-year-old. More like in his early-to-mid-twenties. Which is still to young for a guy who’s supposed to be thirty-six! I just couldn’t see him as an older man. He was sensible and stuff but he still sounded young. It didn’t interfere too much with the story but every time I though about how old he was supposed to be, it was weird.

D was a better written character. And both he and Jack were likable. I liked their story and how their relationship transpired. There were two other characters we were introduced to who were also good. I liked the plot, and the sequence of events that took place were all good, they just needed to happen faster because really, they were stretched out.

Also, the sex scenes (and there were over half a dozen of them) were not hot. I mean, the author could have easily removed most of them from the book (mainly the ones that had no plot relevance) and nothing would have changed. In fact, the book would’ve been better because the length would have been reduced. Also, being female, I’m not expert on how sex goes between two guys, but isn’t there supposed to be more of a mess or something? Or maybe Jack and D don’t mind sleeping on sticky sheets.

Anyway, yes I had some problems with the book but, as a whole, this was a good read. I still can’t figure out a rating exactly. Four seems high but anything less is too low. I’m confused so I’m just sticking with four.