Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Breaking Dawn

Well, after two very long days, I have completed the Twilight Saga. After reading the last installment till 3am this morning and then finishing the rest in about another hour and a half when I woke up, I am officially finished with the Twilight series. Not since the Harry Potter books have I ever been this engaged in a literary universe. Sure, I adore the Discworld books (Terry Pratchett remains a firm favourite of mine) but the pull is so much different with the Twilight books - I think I may possibly love them more than the Harry Potter series. I think it's to do with the complicated supernatural love triangle - all that teenage angst and melodrama! Some have complained that Breaking Dawn is too neat and tidy, that everyone gets their happy ending and it's just too convenient. Well, what's wrong with that? I could be biased as I am a sucker for happy endings, but it's not like Stephenie Meyer just gave the characters their happily-ever-after that easily. Everyone went through incredible hardship and to me, the progression of events felt like they made sense and not contrived at all. I also really enjoyed the chapters from Jacob's perspective, which helped to break up the book a bit and provided a bit of comic relief, even with the painful moments for him at the time. As a reader, I was so attached to these characters as Meyer brought them to life and made them intensely real, and it brought me comfort that everything worked out in the end. My only complaint is the ridiculous name for Bella and Edward's baby, Renesmee - thank goodness for the nickname, Nessie, which is just soooooo much better! It wouldn't surprise me if there's a new series for Jacob and Nessie in the future; it will be interesting to see how that turns out! In the meantime, although I know the project has been put on hold indefinitely, I hope Stephenie Meyer will continue to work on Midnight Sun and publish it sometime in the future. As painful as the leaks have been for her, I think having Edward's perspective on the events in Twilight will give fans that extra insight and dimension into the world of Twilight and it wouldn't be fair to punish the fans for something that they could not control. For now, I will have to make do with the current set of books and I look forward to the movie sequels. I've had such a thrilling ride in the Twilight universe and I remain a happy and besotted fan!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Eclipse

Okay, so this was an incredibly soppy read at times - it really is a teenage soap opera with supernatural elements - but I don't care. I absolutely LOVED it, possibly even more so than Twilight. I was so incredibly swept up in the story that I simply couldn't tear my eyes away, even with the ridiculously sappy lines for the romantic bits. What can I say, I'm a sucker for sappy romance! The Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle goes into full swing in Eclipse and even though it's obvious there can't be a happy ending for all parties involved, there are still a few thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious moments. I enjoyed reading about the rivalry between Jacob and Edward, in particular the two major events when Bella punched Jacob (and broke her hand), and when they were camping and ended up sharing the same tent - I couldn't stop myself laughing. There are also the sad moments: when Edward and Jacob share a heart-to-heart; when Bella comes to the realisation that she does love both Edward and Jacob but it is impossible to reconcile her feelings for both. Corny as the words may have been, I was incredibly touched by the part where Bella was at Jake's side after getting hurt in the vampire fight and they both had to acknowledge that their future was not going to happen. I was so emotionally invested in the story that I was still heartbroken for Jacob (even though he's not real!) for the inevitable outcome; I may have even shed a few tears (gasp!). Stephenie Meyer does lay it on a bit thick with the 'no sex before marriage' message, which was mildly annoying but not enough to dampen my love for the book. Oh, I also needed to point out the one mistake that I found (which stood out because it irked me) when 'who's' was used instead of 'whose'. This was right towards the end when Bella and Edward were having a discussion about sex/wedding/the change and Edward wanted to know whose definition of right that Bella was adhering to. Again, another minor detail but I just needed to point it out. That said, Meyer's writing is just absolute magic and with Eclipse, I was drawn even deeper into the world where Bella Swan, Eward Cullen and Jacob Black exist, even with all the melodrama. Bring on Breaking Dawn!

Stephenie Meyer - New Moon

After finishing Twilight yesterday, I started reading New Moon straight away and didn't go to sleep till I finished it (much to my husband's annoyance). Just like its predecessor, New Moon was another enthralling read that I couldn't put down. The whole Bella-and-Edward thing did get a bit tedious at times with the Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers tragedy hammed up a little way too much, but having accepted the melodrama and teenage angst from the first book, it would be hypocritical to start complaining about it now. I really liked the character of Jacob Black, who became more than just Billy's kid in this book. As much as I welcomed Edward's return, it was a little sad to see the negative impact it had on Jacob's relationship with Bella as I thought he was such a revitalising breath of fresh air and I really enjoyed reading about their interactions. I'm not sure what Stephenie Meyer can do with the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle as it's pretty much doomed; vampire and werewolves as mortal enemies kinda make any friendship or relationship a lot harder! I'm now moving on to Eclipse, I'll be back with a report soon!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Stephenie Meyer - Twilight

I absolutely loved Twilight when I first read the book last year, so of course when the movie came out, I knew I was definitely going to watch it, even though I was a little apprehensive as the film adaptation could turn out to be crap. I checked out the movie last night with some of my friends and it was okay, although I don't think I liked it as much as the book (casting was definitely a major issue!). As I had read the book so long ago, I had forgotten some of the finer details, which in a way worked in my favour as I think I would be majorly disappointed in the movie otherwise. After last night's experience, I decided to re-read the book to go through the original story and refresh my memory. Twilight is just as fantastic the second time round and I ripped through this book quickly and finished it in a matter of a few hours. While I think the movie was a decent effort, the book is just so much better and I remembered how much I loved it after reading it again. I can see how this book can irritate some because Bella and Edward can get a bit melodramatic at times, but come on, she's a teenage girl in love with a vampire who's permanently 17 years old! I think the occasional whining and teenage angst should be a given. I still think this is brilliant YA fiction that I enjoyed thoroughly and I hope the newfound fans from the movie will discover the book that it's based on. I am now going to power through the rest of the series now so hopefully when the rest of the movies get released, the story won't be so fresh in my head and I can give myself a chance to enjoy the movies!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Zoë Heller - Notes on a Scandal

After hanging on to this book for more than two years, I finally got round to reading this over the holiday break. This is a very slim book and was surprisingly easy to get through for a novel that was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (my experiences with Booker reads are that they're always way too avant-garde and mind-boggling for me!). As unpleasant as the characters are, I must say that I did find this novel strangely compelling and intriguing. I am quite impressed that Zoë Heller has tackled an issue that could have served as mere tabloid fodder and has instead crafted a dark tale that is less about the scandal but more about the dynamics between two women that develops into a suffocating friendship because of one's obsession and loneliness. I thought this was really smartly written and the deliberate vagueness of the ending left the entire story open to interpretation by the reader. This normally drives me bonkers but I think for this instance, it actually adds to the story and drives home how wicked and delusional Barbara is for completely succumbing to this web of illusion that she has spun herself. I am now really looking forward to the film adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench - if it's anything like the book, it's going to be a great movie!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shannon Drake - The Awakening

There is one more book that I forgot to post about. I had forgotten about it because I didn't finish it. This is why...

I had to give up even though I had managed to get to page 256. There was just so much waffle and the mistakes drove me bonkers! Twice (once could be justified as an oversight; when it happens twice, that's just really poor!), "it's" was used instead of "its", and "they're" was used instead of "their"! These were just the mistakes that I actually caught because I was only glancing through certain bits; who knows what else is there?! I also thought the story was just so... cheesy... Just how the story was framed, it came across really corny and tacky to me. I also hadn't known it involved vampires; not that I think there is anything wrong with vampire reads because I do like my supernatural books, but it just didn't feel like it fit in this context. The beginning of the book was heavily focused on the supernatural aspects (like demons, witchcraft etc.) but from the perspective that this was happening to ordinary folk. When I skipped to the end of the book to see if I should keep pushing through and read that there were vampires and werewolves involved, I thought, wtf?! That's when I knew I had to drop it. Maybe if I had continued, I would have gotten into the story but I think I've tried hard enough.

Trenton Lee Stewart - The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

With this post, I'm all caught up with the books that I've read over the past few months. I hope to be able to keep this book blog updated regularly from now on!

This book is the sequel to The Mysterious Benedict Society, where the brave and clever foursome set off on yet another adventure. This time, they have to rescue Mr. Benedict and Number Two as they have been abducted by Mr. Benedict's evil twin and the children need to figure out the clues to get to them before it's too late. In this book, there is more 'action' as the children are thrust into the thick of it and they have to depend on themselves to get to Mr. Benedict without any help from the adults, and trying to dodge the Ten Men at the same time. The same clever puzzles are here again, this time in the form of clues and riddles that the kids need to decipher in order to follow Mr. Benedict's trail. Once again, this is another brilliantly written book by Trenton Lee Stewart, charting the protagonists' growth and increasing maturity since the last book and really demonstrating to readers how these characters have grown and developed. My only complaint is that I felt the story ended quite awkwardly but this is only a very minor thing. Now all I have to do is wait for the next book in the series!

John Ajvide Lindqvist - Let the Right One In

I bought this book last year but didn't read it until now. I found out that a Swedish movie had been made based on this book and I decided to read the book first before checking out the movie. This was a very interesting novel, but also quite strange and disturbing at the same time. It tackles a diverse range of controversial issues and they're all wrapped up in this weird vampire love story. First, there's Oskar who is incessantly bullied at school and fantasizes about being a mass murderer (that screams major therapy issues right there). Then there's Eli, a vampire stuck at 12 years of age, who looks like a girl but is actually a boy before he got castrated in some former life and now possesses no form of genitals, and is in a relationship of sorts with Oskar. Throw in Håkan, who is a pedophile and looks after Eli because he's driven by his own twisted desires and he is willing to do pretty much anything for her, including murdering people to get fresh blood for her. And there's more from where all that came from! It's an absolutely fascinating read but it does get uncomfortable at times. It's still a haunting story though, and it captures a wide range of emotions: despair; loneliness; helplessness; yearning; and hope. It did get a little confusing at times; there was a myriad of supporting characters and my unfamiliarity with Swedish names made it a little difficult to follow the story occasionally. The film was a simplified version of the novel, leaving out some of the more challenging aspects, but still remained very faithful to the book and captured a lot more of the story than I thought it would. There is going to be an English (Hollywood) remake to be released in 2009 or 2010, so it will be interesting to see how that turns out. Overall, definitely a worthwhile read but with its subject matter, it probably won't be for everybody.

Neil Gaiman - The Graveyard Book

This is another magnificent book by the master storyteller, Neil Gaiman. This may be YA fiction but it is equally engaging for kids and adults alike. It certainly held me captive; but then again, all Neil Gaiman novels have. As usual, Gaiman has crafted an engaging set of characters, in particular Silas and Nobody Owens. I was completely drawn into Bod's world and I was hanging onto every word as I read about his adventures. If anything, this book was too short and there was so much more I wanted to know. For example, what is Silas's backstory? The novel hints at him being a vampire but this is never specified in the book, and there's no history on Silas or why he ends up at the graveyard. The Sleer also remains a bit of a mystery. I also don't think Gaiman provided a clear enough motive as to why the Jacks wanted Bod and his family dead. Gaiman also didn't explain why Bod seemed to be losing his 'graveyard' powers at the end - is it an age thing or is there some other reason? Certainly, I would love to read more about Silas and Nobody so hopefully Gaiman will bring them back in future books. In the meantime, this will be a treasured book and I look forward to reading it again and again.

Paullina Simons - Eleven Hours

I had an evening appointment to donate blood so I needed a thin book that would be easy to hold, especially when I would be lying down and trying to pump blood at the same time! This fit the bill perfectly so I brought it along with me. This was a really quick read; I finished more than half of it during the whole blood donation process and I finished the rest of it at home after dinner. It may not be the most original story (I kept feeling that I had seen or read this before but I hadn't) and the plot was pretty transparent and predictable (like how the hell is it NOT obvious that the killer is after the baby?!), but it was still no less of a page-turner. This book reads like a movie screenplay and with the vivid descriptions, I could picture the scenes in my head and imagine what was going on, which kept me wanting more. What didn't fit quite right in the book - to me anyway - were the religious subtexts included in the novel. If Paullina Simons was trying to tie in a religious message that God has a plan for everything, I think it was a half-baked attempt to just throw in the conclusion at the end that God was looking out for the protagonist and it was his doing that sent Didi to the killer so she could do his work by finishing him off. Right, how convenient. I think the author should have paid more thought to it if she wanted to weave in a religious overtone to the novel; if she wasn't going to do it properly, then she should have just ditched that concept completely. Despite its flaws, it was still a fairly exciting read overall and it did its job of keeping me entertained while waiting around to get poked with a needle. That's good enough for me!

J.K. Rowling - The Tales of Beedle the Bard

This book was much thinner and smaller than I expected and it was really quick to get through. There's not much to fault with this little book, J.K. Rowling's latest offering to her Harry Potter crazed fans (me included). The five short tales that Rowling has written up here are enjoyable, but made even more so through Dumbledore's notes, giving readers additional insight to the Harry Potter universe. I was also impressed by her own hand-drawn illustrations included in the book; I can imagine why the collector's edition, which is a replica of the handcrafted original, would be a prized treasure for those willing to spend the money! This is a neat little addition to the Harry Potter series and it's also nice to know that my purchase helped in a small way towards a charitable cause. For all Harry Potter fans, this is definitely a must-buy!

Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic and Baby

I had a really crappy day and all I wanted was a non-taxing, light, fluffy read to relax with in bed. After having a quick look at my bookshelf, it was clear that another Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adventure would be the perfect remedy. Not much has changed since the last book; Becky is still as obsessed as ever with shopping, except this time it's all about designer baby gear and the latest celebrity trends with baby stuff. At least this time, Sophie Kinsella kept Becky's shopping addiction more light-hearted and amusing, and didn't get to the point where readers would feel that she needed to be institutionalised instead. I thought this was another fun addition to the Becky Bloomwood series and even with all her silliness, as a reader, you just can't help but cheer for the ditzy heroine as she takes on the latest challenges thrown at her: Luke's red-haired ex-girlfriend (bitch!) who's the new baby doctor; her employer's deteriorating business; and Luke's bastard of a client. As usual, the Brandon duo comes out tops at the end of it (even if they did lose the house) with a new addition to the family - although I really am not thrilled with the name Minnie! This was a quick and easy read that I finished in one night and was just what I needed for a little lift at the end of a bad day. Yay for Becky!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stephen King - Duma Key

Well, it sure was a bad idea to pick up this book because once I did, I was just glued to it even though I really should have been focusing on doing my household chores. I was hooked right from the beginning and once the story picked up pace, I just had to keep going till I had an answer to the mystery unravelling before my eyes. I have not read much of Stephen King's vast portfolio (the last book of his that I read was The Cell) but what I've read so far, I have always enjoyed them. Duma Key was certainly another thrilling read - a little too long perhaps, but even if it were double its current length, I would still have raced through it to get to the end. There may have been some plot inconsistencies (and some unnecessary and irrelevant political viewpoints) but not major enough to distract from the main storyline and Stephen King portrayed such real and engaging characters that really drew me in as a reader into the story. The description of the drawings that Edgar painted were also so vivid that they jumped off right the page; it would have been really neat if there were illustrations included in the book. I really enjoyed the supernatural theme of the story, although it did get a tiny bit silly at times with talk of vampires and zombies, which felt out of place in the book. Overall though, this was a fantastic read and I think I will seek out Stephen King's earlier work from the library.

Helen Garner - The Spare Room

This was sometimes difficult to get through because I have now lost two grandparents to cancer -- one only a few months ago -- and reading about Nicola's pain reminded me of my grandparents' suffering. For such an emotional topic and obviously draining time of the author's life, it was actually surprisingly easy to read (apart from my own personal struggles). I felt for Nicola who tried to brave her cancer in her own way, clinging on to each last desperate hope. However, I could also feel Helen's anger at her friend for being in such deep denial about her condition and the frustration she must have felt in trying to support her, but yet slowly eating away at her with the emotional strain. This was a very moving recount of a tough and trying time and I really admire Helen for telling this story.

PS. I also thought Verity sounded like a real snooty bitch!

Matthew Reilly - Ice Station

This has got to be one of the craziest stories I've ever read -- psychotic killer whales; mutant giant elephant seals; death-defying scenarios (swimming with icebergs included!); and a whole tangle of conspiracy plots, with one insane battle after the other. And of course, the protagonist, Shane 'Scarecrow' Schofield (that really should be Superman instead), survives all this with barely a scratch. Okay, so he ended up with more than just scratches, but with everything going on in this book, he should have died a million times! That said, this was a highly entertaining read and despite the incredulous storyline, I really enjoyed it. The book reads like a movie and I was just racing through it, trying to keep up with the action. In fact, there were times where I had to slow down because I was flipping pages so quickly to find out what happened next that I wasn't digesting the words properly. It could get confusing at times when people were running from place to place in the ice station (I didn't think the little diagrams at the beginning of the book were of much help) but ultimately, it doesn't matter. It's all about the action -- whether it's on C-deck or in a drilling room -- and it never lets up. This was definitely very blokey and testosterone-filled but even as a female reader, I still enjoyed this crazy ride of an action adventure tale. Sign me up for the next Scarecrow expedition!

Augusten Burroughs - A Wolf at the Table

Augusten Burroughs delves into his childhood with his latest book and at times, it seems a little incredulous that he could remember in such great detail events from his childhood, especially those that happened when he was very young. However, for most parts, I do not doubt the authenticity of what he has gone through. If I look back at my own childhood, events that were traumatic for me as a kid (which did not even come close to what Augusten has been through!), I can still recall them pretty vividly. It truly is remarkable how he has turned his life around, considering everything that has happened to him. It must have been incredibly difficult to tell this story about his father and I admire him for his courage and unflinching honesty in sharing his life with his readers. The epilogue was exceptionally moving and I can just imagine the profound effect the lack of love and affection from his father has had on his life. I hope with this memoir, he is finally able to let go of his past and embrace his future, and continue producing great literary work. I look forward to reading more from Augusten Burroughs.

Debi Gliori - Pure Dead Magic

Even though I bought this book and its sequel ages ago, somehow I never got round to reading them. They were just sitting on my bookshelf looking pretty with their lovely velvety covers. Well, I finally picked up this book a couple of months ago to read it and it was a really fun story, which I think will really appeal to younger kids. The fantasy does get a little OTT at time, but I think that's part of the charm - what with the ravenous crocodile living in the moat; a strange combination of house pets including a yeti, a griffin, and a dragon; a new Mary Poppins-like magical nanny; frozen nana in the basement - they all come together to make one very humorous story involving the Strega-Borgia family. With a willing suspension of disbelief (rats and sisters can't really be e-mailed and lost through the modem, amongst numerous other things), I think most readers will come away from this with a smile on their faces.

Trenton Lee Stewart - The Mysterious Benedict Society

This book was an absolute delight to read! Even though it's a kids' book, as an adult, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The story was original and refreshing, and it's just so clever! Trenton Lee Stewart creates four protagonists who are all very smart and capable in their own way that will resonate strongly with today's kids. I also think it's great that there are all these puzzles weaved into the plot because they challenge readers and get them thinking to try to solve these puzzles themselves - I know they certainly got my brain working! I can imagine myself reading this as a 10-year-old and I know I would have been absolutely fascinated by the Mysterious Benedict Society and their adventures. It was still a joy to read it now, even though I'm no longer in the target age group! I am really pleased to have discovered this book and also so thrilled to find such great literature that is available for children these days. I hope Trenton Lee Stewart writes more adventures for this bunch - it would be a really great series!

Garth Stein - The Art of Racing in the Rain

I didn't think I would like this book. Firstly, my care factor for racing is zero, so that aspect of the novel didn't appeal to me at all. Also, while I loved Marley and Me and this novel featured a dog as one of the main characters, based on what I read from the blurb, it seemed so ridiculous to have Enzo narrate the story and to be portrayed as a philosopher trapped in a dog's body. Right. Despite my preconceptions, I decided to go ahead and borrow this book from the library because of the rave reviews that I had seen on Amazon. After all, what did I have to lose? I am so glad I did because I ended up loving this story, racing bits and all. Garth Stein has created such real and remarkable characters that as a reader, I just can't help but be swept up by the moments and follow their journey. I felt their joy when Denny and Eve had Zoë in their lives; I was saddened by the immense grief that Denny felt when Eve passed away; I shared Enzo's outrage when Zoë grandparents ganged up on Denny and took her away. In lesser hands, this novel could have verged on the ridiculous; but Stein masterfully crafted an absolutely beautiful story that was utterly engaging and moving. Two thumbs up!

Bodhi Oser - Fuck This Book

Oh dear. It's possible to sell a book like this?! Remarkable. Most of these had me chuckling and kept me amused while waiting for dinner to made. I certainly did my bit by reading out the funny ones to entertain my other half while he cooked dinner! There were a few that really had me laughing, like the sign at the tennis court; the one with "considerate" operators able to communicate in English and Spanish; and the poor cashier at a gas station. This particular one really stood out from the bunch for me:

Persons must obtain approval of the principal before fucking in classrooms or on school grounds.

Final comment? Dearie dearie me! :)

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 2: The Doll's House

The Doll's House is the second volume in the Sandman series and has more of the quirky and dark tales from the first. There's a story in the second volume that involves serial killers having a convention; I mean, who thinks of that?! While I'm not enough of a comics expert to comment on the art itself (my husband reckons the art is shit, which is the reason why he's never read this series) but the storytelling is what's captivating to me. The way that Gaiman weaves the different tales into the mythology of the Sandman itself is masterful and leaves me wanting more. I can't wait to borrow the rest of the volumes from the library and continue with this series.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes

I have never really been inclined to read comics although I do read some Japanese manga. That said, I have been very interested to read the Sandman series because they are Neil Gaiman's creations and I do love Neil Gaiman. I borrowed the first two volumes from the library and got stuck into them. Although I had an inkling of what to expect, I was still quite surprised when I read them. I guess being a novice with comics, while I wasn't expecting fluff (certainly not from Neil Gaiman!), I didn't expect the stories to be that dark. These tales were intoxicatingly wicked and strangely compelling, as I would expect from Gaiman. I don't see myself suddenly wanting to read the other 'classics' (such as Superman, Batman etc.) but I would definitely want to continue with this series, especially when it's so highly regarded in the world of adult comics.

Douglas Preston & Mario Spezi - The Monster of Florence

This is a remarkable tale about two men who set out on a quest to uncover the mystery behind the Monster of Florence - Italy's own Jack the Ripper - but end up being arrested as the main suspects instead. With all the twists and turns throughout the entire saga, it would be easy to think this is just a made-up story, but as with most things, truth is stranger than fiction.The first half was a little more interesting because it provided the background and history of the Florence killings. The second half focused on the bungled investigation by the Italian police force and the seemingly inept judicial system, especially when the police turn on the authors, accusing Mario Spezi to be the Monster himself and Douglas Preston an accomplice. This section could be a little dry at times but helped to highlight the incredulousness of the situation. In the end, the Monster of Florence remains a mystery and is unsolved to this day. I'm not really a true crime fan, but overall, I thought this was an intriguing read.

Monday, December 22, 2008

MaryJanice Davidson - Undead and Unworthy

It's been a few months since I've blogged about my reading! I kept up with the reading (although not as much as I would have liked) but with so many major events that have happened over the last few months, I just did not have the time to update my book blog. Well, as the saying goes, better late than never, so here are all my updates!

Let's start with the latest addition to MJD's Undead series, Undead and Unworthy. I borrowed this from the library (did I ever mention that I love my local library?!) and it was another quick read that I polished off in a day. That said, I don't think it's a great addition to the series, especially when I thought MJD had only just brought back a bit of sparkle to the Undead series in Book 6.

Firstly, I HATE the new cover (at least the UK version is still semi-decent). It looks absolutely horrid and I don't know what possessed the publisher to make the change and what came over MJD to give the tick of approval. Sure, I get the whole new start thing and looking for that something to rejuvenate the series, but this just doesn't work. The old covers were quirky and fun, capturing the quintessential essence of Betsy; the new cover just doesn't feel right and doesn't convey the 'Betsy-ness' of the Undead series. Of course, it clashes terribly with the rest of the collection that I don't even know if I will want to purchase Book 7 because it will stand out like a sore thumb! (I need matching covers in a set!)

MJD also attempts to breathe new life into the series by creating a new story arc for Betsy and her sidekicks. Well, I'm not sure if it's working all that well based on Book 7. I think it was rather drastic to kill off Antonia and Garrett, especially after giving them happy endings just in the previous book. MJD seems to be using that TV trick where major characters are killed off to 'shake things up' but I don't think it achieved the desired effect. I am still a fan of the Undead series and I will perservere with it and wait for the release of Book 8, but MJD has been producing more misses than hits - let's hope that she can recover some of the Betsy magic for the next book.