Cover Shot! School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I enjoyed Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall series, so I was geeked to discover that she’s working on a spin-off.  School Spirits has an awesome cover!  I am so looking forward to reading this!

In stores May 2013

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy’s mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who’s always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt?

Rachel Hawkins’ delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Review: The Dead by Charlie Higson

 

 

Title: The Dead

Author: Charlie Higson

Series: The Enemy #2

The Dead (Enemy) Digital

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

The disease only affects people sixteen or older. It starts with the symptoms of a cold. Then the skin begins to itch, and spots appear–spots that soon turn into pus-filled boils. But the worst part is the headache, the inner voices that tell you that you need to eat them . . . the young ones.

When the Disaster strikes, the world turns upside down for Ed, Jack, Bam and the other students at Rowhurst School. The parents and older siblings they left back at home are dead–or worse. Once the teachers go on the attack, the kids know it’s time to escape and make their way to the city.  It’s got to be better in London . . .
or will it be worse?

Higson’s terrifying, utterly compelling prequel to The Enemy introduces an all-new cast of characters and sets the stage for a dramatic third book in the series.


Review:

I have had The Dead on my TBR for over a year.  I actually started it, found it a bit too intense at the time, and set it aside for another day.  October always puts me in the mood for scary stuff, so I pulled the book out again and wondered why I ever put it down in the first place.  This is a fast-paced, harrowing vision of the future, with likeable kids left to fend off the crazed adults who are trying to eat them.  Yeah, that’s pretty scary and nightmarish, but Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series is so compelling that you want to see what happens next.  The only thing I am still iffy on is how the “sickos” got sick in the first place, but that is often a complaint with post-apocalyptic stories; there usually isn’t a concrete reason for why  things are now the way they are, and I need all of those background details to be fully invested in a story.  We get some background that was lacking from the first book, The Enemy, but there is still so much to know about what exactly went wrong.

Like The Enemy, The Dead follows a small group of kids as they struggle to survive in the terrible new world they wake up to.  All adults have contracted some weird disease that makes them flesh eating, pus-filled monsters.  They crave the tender flesh of kids, which makes it even more frightening.  These awful, nightmarish creatures are consumed with the need to eat kids.  Yuck!  They are weakened by sunlight, but if a group of yummy kids wanders by, the zombies will venture out into the sunlight for a tasty snack.  This book proves that it’s not easy being a kid!  At any moment, some gross, oozy adult may swoop around a corner and eat you!

I liked the protagonists, which made it hard when several of them met with an early demise.  I will give Higson credit for shocking me several times with the unexpected death of one of my favorite characters.  Talk about heart-breaking!  I have walked through the monster infested streets of London, gotten to know and like most of the cast, and then had my heart ripped out every time someone succumbed to death, either from sickness, grievous wounds, or becoming dinner for the zombies.  Sob!  This made reading a very tense experience, because I was so afraid that another favorite would meet his maker.  At point one, after Ed crawls into a house in a desperate bid for safety, only to find it filled with zombies, I screamed and had to set the book aside for an hour or so.  Gah! I felt as though I was working through an intense cardio workout as the end of the book approached.  I couldn’t breathe!  I felt all trembly!  I wondered how the younger kids hadn’t all keeled over in fear!  Even the teens were at a distinct disadvantage.  The adults were bigger, stronger, and they only had one thought in their rotting brains – EAT THE KIDS!!  GAHHH!!!

Some of the action and descriptions were a bit over the top, and only added to the gore-factor, without progressing the plot much.  While traumatic and action-packed, Jack’s journey back home didn’t serve much purpose other than to gross the reader out.  An arena filled with bloated, rotting corpses?  Check.  Three brave boys with a bit too much curiosity? Check.  A gooey, ooey race through mountains of stinky, maggot infested bodies to escape a zombie horde?  Yup, check, you got that, too.  I felt that much of this particular adventure dragged at the pacing, and it didn’t keep me engaged in this story thread.  I kept longing to get back to the other kids, get back to the day to day survival, and leave Jack’s selfish side adventure in the past.

The story roared back to life for me shortly after that,  and I stayed engaged until the end.  I don’t think that it’s necessary to read The Enemy before diving into The Dead, as the events take place prior to the first book.  I’ve got The Fear, the third book in the series, on my wish list, and I am curious to see where the story goes next.  Originally a planned trilogy, the series will now be seven volumes, according to a quote from the author.  I wonder how long he can carry the momentum, and keep the plot fresh and exciting.  I’m eager to find out!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

 

Title: Spell Bound

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

Also available in digital:

Spell Bound (Digital)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium.  Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Review:

I have been waiting with a great deal of anticipation for the final book in Rachel Hawkins’ Hex Hall series.  I found the first book rather predicable, but Demonglass kept me on the edge of my seat.  I hated the cliffhanger ending! How could you do that to me?  I was finally onboard with Sophie and her acidic personality, and then – WHAM!  We ran into a brick wall of “See you later!”  Ugh!

Anyway, a copy finally came in at the library, so I hustled over to pick it up.  On my lunch break.  Even though I couldn’t read it until after work.  I dove into the book as soon as I arrived home, and after that uncomfortable few moments of trying like heck to remember what happened in the previous book, and who all of the characters were, I was in!  There is such a loss of momentum when you have to wait for over a year to read the next book in a series, and most of the time, they don’t work as well for me.  When I am in the reading zone provided by a book, I am also in a particular frame of mind at that place in time.  Sometimes I don’t get it back.  Sometimes I no longer click with the protagonist.  Sometimes I discover, with dismay, that I don’t even like the protagonist anymore.  While she hasn’t changed in the year and a half since we last met, I have.  I am a different person, and there have been times when I have outgrown a series or cast of characters, and I am always bummed when that happens.

Don’t worry, though! That didn’t happen with Spell Bound.  While some of the plot points didn’t work for me, I still enjoyed Sophie’s occasionally grating personality.  Her coping mechanism is to get sarcastic, and I actually liked when she was blasting out snarky comments, or better yet, making unfiltered inner commentary about whatever person happened to be pissing her off.  I didn’t like the back and forth between Archer and her fiancée, Cal, but heck, I usually never like all of the romantic triangles cluttering up YA PNR these days.  It is the one trope that drives me batty, and the one that I find the least interesting.  The resolution to this one was a cop-out, with Sophie not making a decision so much as having it made for her.  I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, so I’ll just say UGH!  Sophie gets off guilt free, and I didn’t like that.  I felt that it belittled her emotional conflict and her feelings for both guys was also trivialized. 

Moving on, I love the action in the these books.  Sophie has to always be on her toes, ready to fight for her life.  She also has to be ready to fight for the lives of her friends, and now, her family.  In this supernatural war, there are many casualties.  Sophie is under so much stress to ensure the safety of her loved ones that I’m surprised she didn’t lose all of her hair from the stress.  Worse yet, she didn’t have her powers, because they had been locked away by the villains at the end of the last book!  Her father’s powers had been completely and forcibly ripped from his body.  Sophie was running on empty, and ouch!  it wasn’t easy for her to escape from all of the danger she repeatedly found herself in.  That is one of her traits that I admire most about her character; Sophie has an innate ability to think well under pressure.  While she may lack the common sense to keep her out of danger in the first place, once she’s in it, she is able to stay relatively calm, examine the situation from every angle, and find a way to get her out of trouble without getting killed.  That she is ready to sacrifice her life when the stakes get so high that I would have crumbled into a ball of black despair, is another reason why I enjoyed Sophie, and these books, so much.

All in all, Hex Hall was a fun series, and now that they are all out, I recommend that you give them a try.  Each book was better than the last, and all of the characters, especially Sophie and Elodie, are likeable.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library 

Cover Shot! Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I am a book behind in Ally Carter’s Heist Society, but I have plenty of time to get caught up.  Perfect Scoundrels doesn’t hit stores until 2013!  I love how sassy these covers are, and love the reflection in the model’s shades.  I can hardly wait to see the real thing!

Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.

No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark.

Forced to keep a level head as she and her crew fight for one of their own, Kat comes up with an ambitious and far-reaching plan that only the Bishop family would dare attempt. To pull it off, Kat is prepared to do the impossible, but first, she has to decide if she’s willing to save her boyfriend’s company if it means losing the boy.

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Review by Elsa–The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

 

Title: The Son of Neptune

Author:  Rick Riordan

Publisher:  Disney Hyperion

ISBN: 978-1423140597

 

{ED. Here is another review written by my young friend, Elsa.  Good work, kiddo!}

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Percy is confused. When he awoke after his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. His brain-fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight. Somehow Percy managed to make it to the camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he had to continually kill monsters that, annoyingly, would not stay dead. But the camp doesn’t ring any bells with him.
Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job of it. When the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her “gift” for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn’t say no. Now, because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk.
Frank is a klutz. His grandmother claims he is descended from ancient heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn’t see it. He doesn’t even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery—although not good enough to help the Fifth Cohort win at war games. His big and bulky physique makes him feel like a clumsy ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely—enough, even, to share the secret he holds close to his heart.
Beginning at the “other” camp for half-bloods and extending as far north as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all of whom are destined to play a part in the most important quest of all: the Prophecy of Seven.

Review:

I wanted to read The Son of Neptune because I have read the Jackson Chronicles before. It was an exciting, action packed fiction book. The book taught you that the importance of believing in what you want, sticking by your friends’ side and standing your ground were key. When I read “The Lost Hero”, the book before the Son of Neptune, I knew that Rick Riordan was a great author and I would love all of his books. Also, like the Hunger Games, it has the power to make you realize what you want in life.

I liked Percy as the protagonist. He was definitely gutsier in this book than the rest. I can say that I liked everything and I didn’t hate anything. Rick Riordan is another author that I am officially obsessed with.  I had such a hard time putting his books down and stepping away from Percy.  Would he survive the pressure?  Would something worse happen to Frank and Hazel? I need to read the rest of Rick Riordan’s books!

Hope you like my reviews so far and try to catch the next one coming soon!!!!

~Elsa

 

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Review: Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

 

Title: Queen of the Dead

(The Ghost and the Goth #2)

Author: Stacey Kade

Publisher: Hyperion

ISBN: 978-1423134671

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare – former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead – finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this – ugh – “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is – ahem – willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

Packed with romance, lovable characters, and a killer cliffhanger, Queen of the Dead is the out-of-this-world sequel to The Ghost and the Goth.

Review:

I really, really like this series!  The characters are so much fun, and Stacey Kade successfully gives Will and Alona distinctive voices in their alternating chapters.  I always know who the current narrator is, even without seeing the chapter headings, and it’s refreshing that they are both so different.  Alona is spoiled, brash, and used to getting her own way, while Will is much more restrained and not nearly as abrasive.  I liked Will better both in the previous book and at the beginning of Queen of the Dead, but I am happy to say that Alona is actually going through some very convincing character development.  Now I like them both equally, though Alona still had lapses to her meaner past, but now it’s a flaw she needs to overcome, instead of just an annoyance when her selfishness rears its ugly head.

I don’t want to reveal many spoilers, because the plot twists and turns were so delightful, so I’ll briefly touch on a few of the elements that I liked best about this outing with Will and Alona.  I enjoy the chemistry between them, even though at the start of the book it’s obvious that Alona is calling the shots in that department.  Will’s crush on the fiery beauty seems doomed to failure.  After all, Alona is a ghost, but more importantly, she earns herself quite a bit of joy manipulating him and taking charge of their relationship.  Alona is a master at getting people to do her bidding, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her wiles on Will.  Everything to her is a competition.  I have to admit that I wasn’t her biggest fan in the beginning, and I thought Will was a sap for playing along with her.  That’s the problem with being a good guy, though – everyone thinks they can take advantage of you, and in Will’s case, that is certainly true. He wants to help everyone, even if they don’t deserve it.

Will meets other people with the ability to see and talk to ghosts, and this causes so much friction between Alona and Will.  I liked this!  Alona actually had to step back and see that Will wasn’t going to be there just because he thought she was hot and she wanted him to be at her beck and call.  Talk about a rude awakening!  With her parents already moving on with their lives, Alona gets a taste of just how shallow her life was.  Of course she’s stubborn, so it takes a while for the lesson to sink in.  There were actually a few times when I was afraid that she wasn’t going to get it, but she finally redeemed herself and allowed herself to grow. 

Will’s new acquaintances had me uneasy.  These guys don’t fool around, and their idea of a “test” almost gets Will killed.  That should have given him a clue to look for friends elsewhere.  I mean, really?  Letting him get trapped in a fire and almost burned to a crisp? That is so not cool, but Will is a bit bull-headed, too, and he needed a little more convincing to finally see the light.  Friends shouldn’t let friends walk into traps and almost get killed! Duh!  Come on, Will, you are way smarter than that!

If you enjoyed The Ghost and The Goth, you will enjoy Queen of the Dead as well.  Stacey Kade has gotten very comfortable with her characters, and you can tell that she enjoys putting them through their paces.  Those paces are blistering, with the events taking place over just a few short days, and the suspense mounts with every chapter.  I didn’t want the put the book down, and once I finally had the time to sit down and read it, that’s all I did.  I didn’t even want to stop to make dinner, and if you know me at all, you know how much I enjoy my food!  The romance is sweet, the action intense, and the humor effectively breaks up the tension.  I am so hyped for the next book!

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

 

Title: Mercy

Author: Rebecca Lim

Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

ISBN: 978-1423145172

Reading Level – YA

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A fallen angel haunted by her past.  Yearning for her immortal beloved. Forever searching for answers.Who will show her Mercy?
Mercy has lost herself. She can’t count how many times she’s “woken up” in a new body, and assumed a new life, only to move on again and again. During the day she survives in the human world on instinct and at night her dreams are haunted by him. Mercy’s heart would know him anywhere. But her memory refuses to cooperate.

But this time is different. When Mercy wakes up she meets Ryan, an eighteen year old reeling from the loss of his twin sister who was kidnapped two years ago. Everyone else has given up hope, but Ryan believes his sister is still alive. Using a power she doesn’t fully comprehend, Mercy realizes that Ryan is right. His sister is alive and together they can find her. For the first time since she can remember, Mercy has a purpose; she can help. So she doesn’t understand why the man in her dreams cautions her not to interfere. But as Ryan and Mercy come closer to solving the dark mystery of his sister’s disappearance, danger looms just one step behind.

Will Mercy be able to harness her true self and extraordinary power in time?

The first in a dazzling new series, Mercy masterfully weaves romance, mystery and the supernatural into a spell-binding tale.

Review:

Wow, did I enjoy this book!  At first I wasn’t quite certain what to think of it, but as I continued to turn pages, it continued to grow on me.  So much so that I finished it in just a few hours, and I stayed up way, way too late to finish it!  This is a fantastic, unique read, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Mercy doesn’t know much about herself, and in the beginning of the book, this sort of knocked me off balance.  She is rather grating, with a personality that doesn’t allow you to feel very close to her at first.  This fits so well with her circumstances, though, because she doesn’t know who or what she is, either.  As she moves from one body to the next, pieces of her past drop away like water droplets from a melting icicle.  All Mercy knows at this point is that she won’t be sticking around for very long, and she doesn’t want to get involved in her new, temporary life.  She wonders what this life will be like – she rather liked a few, but because she is never allowed to stay for long, she tries not to get too accustomed to whatever body she happens to wake up in.

With all of this constant body shuffling, Mercy has become rather jaded, and that’s what I liked about her.  She doesn’t care what people think of her, because she won’t be there long enough for it to matter.  Over the centuries she has developed a bit of a conscience, though, and she tries to leave her hosts as unaffected by her presence as possible.  She is also indifferent to the people around her; what is the point of getting involved, when she is just going to get sucked into another life somewhere else.  I love this premise; how frustrating it must be to have zero control over these changes.  If Mercy is atoning for something from her first life, it must be something very terrible indeed.

In this life, Mercy wakes up in Carmen’s body, and for one of the first times, she is drawn to Ryan, a boy whose sister mysteriously disappeared two years ago.  Lauren, like Carmen, had the voice of an angel.  Both Ryan and his father were suspects in the case, and the police have made no progress finding the missing girl.  Only Ryan continues to search for his twin sister, refusing to believe that she’s dead.  Mercy doesn’t think that Lauren is dead, either, and almost against her will, she is caught up in the search with Ryan.

I liked Ryan, too.  In fact, I liked him far better than Luc, Mercy’s immortal beloved, a being who visits her in her dreams.  Luc’s presence is fleeting, and while Mercy longs to meet him in her dreams, there is a hesitation to trust him completely, especially after some of her past is revealed to her.  I didn’t trust him, and I will be bummed if he really is her true love.  To me him seemed a little sinister, and he is so evasive when Mercy questions him, hoping against hope to discover the answers about her past and put a halt to the endless cycle of lives she’s been forced to endure for so long.

What I liked the best about the book is the feeling of being off balance.  While Mercy revealed some truths, she also opened up many more questions, and I liked not knowing where the story was going.  It made the read more fun.  I also love, love, loved the scene near the end when some of her powers are revealed, and just trust me on this – she totally kicks butt! 

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

 

Title: Demonglass

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Publisher: Hyperion

ISBN: 978-1423121312

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Review:

This was a very fun read.  I love Sophie’s abrasive character, and the snappy dialog added so much life to the story.  I am at the stage where another paranormal book with a magical high school setting just bores me.  There are so many of them on the bookstore shelves right now, and most of them don’t bring anything new to the table.  Demonglass sets itself apart with a protagonist I sometimes want to strangle, lots of action, and even more pulse-pounding danger.  Sophie’s love interest wants to kill her, for gosh sake!  Kill her!!  This girl needs better taste in boys!

In this second installment of the Hex Hall series, Sophie’s estranged dad makes a much appreciated appearance.  He is powerful, he is secretive, and he will do anything to protect Sophie and the Prodigium.  When Sophie makes up her mind to go through the Removal so she doesn’t turn into a blood-thristy, murderous demon, he is just as determined to talk her out of it.  He is one of the coolest in adults I have encountered  in YA fiction.  I am not a fan of one-dimensional parents, and neither of Sophie’s fit that mold.  I find both of them interesting characters in their own right.

Now, I do have to say that Sophie is a glutton for punishment.  How else can you justify her attraction to Archer?  Sure, the guy is drop-dead gorgeous, but he has been ordered to kill her!  Even taking his impressive fighting abilities into account, Archer should take a backseat to Cal.  I know, I know, Cal just isn’t as hot as Archer, but his magical talents could really come in handy.  Since everyone seems to have it out for Sophie, hooking up with a guy with healing skills makes a lot of sense.  If only Sophie would think with her head, and not her heart!  (OK, for the record, I would have fallen for Archer, too)

My only gripe about the book is the lack of an ending.  I am weary of cliffhanger endings, where not even one plot point is wrapped up.  It’s like watching a movie and having someone change the channel halfway through.  I’m not even asking for a final conclusion here; just throw me a bone and let me feel like there is some sort of ending so I can carry on until the next book in the series is released, usually a year later (or in the case of George R.R. Martin, six years later!).  I don’t think this trend is fair to readers, and it frustrates me every time I encounter it.

Grade:  B+ (Slight deduction for the cliffhanger ending)

Review copy provided by publisher