Review: Eve by Anna Carey

Published: October 4th, 2011
HarperCollins
Format: Hardcover, 318 pages
Goodreads Summary

Where do you go when nowhere is safe?
Sixteen years after a deadly virus wiped out most of Earth’s population, the world is a perilous place. Eighteen-year-old Eve has never been beyond the heavily guarded perimeter of her school, where she and two hundred other orphaned girls have been promised a future as the teachers and artists of the New America. But the night before graduation, Eve learns the shocking truth about her school’s real purpose—and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Arden, her former rival from school, and Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust . . . and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
In this epic new series, Anna Carey imagines a future that is both beautiful and terrifying. Readers will revel in Eve’s timeless story of forbidden love and extraordinary adventure.
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MY TAKE 2/5 STARS
This is the world according to Eve:

• Men are evil.
• The world is full of them.

Okay, okay. Simmer down. You can’t really blame Eve. She grew up in a world where women are priced commodities and are apparently only good for one thing – as a part of a baby-making assembly line. I’m not kidding. This book has some serious demented concepts, far beyond the reaches of my usually open, accommodating mind.

Eve is probably one of those characters that, had she been written with a stronger personality, I’d probably love this. I’ve mentioned this before that the prime reason why I love dystopian so much is because I found it thrilling to watch humans strive to overcome adversity. This book had the right set up but with a somewhat uninspiring main character. She often depended on people and she lacked the street smarts and the spunk to survive the world she was in. Yes, I get that she lived most of her life within the cluster of equally cosseted girls who had been fed with a steady diet of lies, but this girl is beyond thick. For heaven’s sake, she didn’t even know what balls are! BALLS, I tell you. BALLS! Anyway. I think the author had the right idea when she was developing Eve’s character but I think she went too far with making her naïve – so naïve that she was borderline dumb. I’m sorry. I hate giving negative reviews but I had such high hopes for this book.

I thought that the story’s foundation was weak.

  • Why bother educating the girls with literature only to end up as drug-induced fetus vessels many times over? What was the point of it all? 
  • How are these girls being impregnated? Do they harvest sperm from the King and get them pregnant via in vitro fertilization? And if so, then the world will soon be populated with a whole caravan of half brothers and sisters. How does that work with the repopulation dilemma? Hello, inbreeding? Incest? 
  • Why was Eve so important that the entire country wanted her captured by order of the King himself? She was valedictorian, so what? I don’t get it. Give me something. Was she the most fertile woman in the world that the King wanted to impregnate her personally? *shudders* Keep in mind that the king is old. 
  • If the world’s population diminished due to the plague, won’t it be simpler to get whoever’s left to repopulate it? Why was there a need to forced girls into baby factory type of slavery? 
  • Why does the government, under the ruling of this tyrant king, insistent upon punishing and enslaving the young when really, they’re the best chance the world’s got of surviving? 


I just couldn’t follow the logic.

The ending left much to be desired. But by that point, I really couldn’t summon an ounce of heed. This book was startlingly violent but acceptable given the genre. I’m not sure if this book will be a series and I’m still on the fence whether or not I will pick up the next book.

Time will tell. 

Confessions of an Addict (7): A Bookshelf’s Letter to its Owner.

Dear Joy,

Hi! Remember us? We’re a group of awesome books that you sold your soul to the devil for to obtain…okay, not really. Anyway, we can’t help but notice that you’ve been amassing some great reads – well, you haven’t really read them yet – but we’ve been down here waiting for you *dusts self off*.

Love,

Your Indie shelf.

Dear Joy,

Do you remember one day when you were having one of those must organize bookshelf day? Your words were:

{in a falsetto voice} I’m going to put you all in front of this shelf so I can read you right away…

Sigh. We are feeling no love.

Sincerely,

Your Must-Read-Now Shelf.

Dear Joy,

We think there may be some misunderstanding. If you recall, you grouped us together so you can finally read us according to the succession of our series. But lately, we’ve noticed that you’ve been reading sporadically.

So what’s the deal?

Dusty and Confused,

Your Incomplete, Unfinished, Unread Series Bookshelf.

Me thinks I’ve finally lost it…

IMM #9

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. This is the ninth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
_________________________________________
This came in the mail last week! Words fail to describe how much I love this book so I thought it deserved being the headliner for this week’s IMM. By the way, I have read this book twice this week. Just sayin’.
FOR REVIEW:


Got these awesome ARCs from Thomas Allen Publishers
Traitor’s Son (Book 2 of the Raven Duet) by Hilari Bell
Croak by Gina Damico
Down these Strange Streets by Charlaine Harris et al.
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
The Death Cure by James Dasher
Eve by Anna Carey
Variant by Robison Wells (2x)
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Dream Warrior by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Next Door Boys by Jolene B. Perry
You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

FROM NET GALLEY and S&S GALLEY GRAB

Yes, crazy haul again this week…as if I needed more books to add to my pile, I went on a crazy request spree from Net Galley. So now, I have these to add to my mountain of TbR.

What’s in your mailbox?

Review: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Publication Date: November 15th, 2011
Margaret K. McElderry / Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC Galley

Goodreads Summary
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom…

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MY TAKE: 4/5 STARS

The latest offering from Kimberly Derting is definitely a take off from her prior books. At first, it was difficult to decipher which genre this book was about. I kept picturing a fantastical Regency England; with a queen on her death bed who has the ability to take over another body to host her soul. As well, the world outside the kingdom had the air of those times when wealth was a great divide between societies. But as I continue to read along, clues started to pop up that this world was indeed set in the future. This book however, deviates from dystopian in such a way that the world did not end in a calamity of epic proportions. It was almost like the world regressed to the old times where kings and queens ruled countries, beheadings were rampant and people lived with constant fear in their eyes. Come to think of it, I can’t remember if it was ever mentioned how this world adapted the ways of matrilineal regent ruling.


I loved the concept of an evil queen who can’t be killed. Well, she can die of old age but her soul passes on to the next woman of lineage; therefore passing her dictatorship and witchcraft powers to whoever sits in the throne. I also loved the idea of a lost heir who has abilities that were both magical and simple (Charlie’s skills lie in her ability to understand a multitude of language, while her sister Angeline has healing powers).

I loved that Charlie wasn’t so quick to exchange flirtatious exploits with Max. The attraction was there and given the length of the book, I thought the romance was paced quite well. I’m glad there were no instantaneous combustion between these two when they first met. I was a bit worried there when Xander came into the picture. I would’ve been thoroughly disappointed if there was a love triangle. Mind you, there was a bit of competition between Max and Aron (Charlie’s best friend) but it was not explored.

The Pledge is a chockfull of surprises – in such a way that Kimberly Derting flexed her writing muscle. There wasn’t a shortage of action and lulls that will render you in a bored stupor. The world building was quite unique in such a way that Ms. Derting combined primitiveness and modern antiquity. I’m a fan of fantasy and most of the books I’ve read in that genre were usually hefty. I wish this book had a couple of hundred more pages. I know I could probably gobble them up easy.

I enjoyed this book and applaud Ms. Derting for showing that she’s not a one-dimensional writer. 

Review: The Fairie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Publication Date: September 27th, 2011
Tor Teen / Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Goodreads Summary

Debut novelist Kiki Hamilton takes readers from the gritty slums and glittering ballrooms of Victorian London to the beguiling but menacing Otherworld of the Fey in this spellbinding tale of romance, suspense, and danger. 

The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring, and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and it binds the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic and blood—Tiki’s blood.

Unbeknownst to Tiki, she is being watched—and protected—by Rieker, a fellow thief who suspects she is involved in the disappearance of the ring. Rieker has secrets of his own, and Tiki is not all that she appears to be. Her very existence haunts Prince Leopold, the Queen’s son, who is driven to know more about the mysterious mark that encircles her wrist.

Prince, pauper, and thief—all must work together to secure the treaty…

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MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

Well, I was enjoying this book until I got to the middle. I loved reading about Tiki’s and her makeshift family’s thieving exploits. The enjoyment lasted until I got to the part where Tiki was able to put the stolen ring back to the palace…quite easily. But that’s not the only thing that I had trouble with. I thought that even when Tiki and the kids were swiping food or coal or money, it was conveniently easy. But let’s not focus on that. After all, there are other elements in this book that were palatable. 

Perhaps I’ve read enough fairy books in my short lifetime. I just can’t summon enough interest about these fantastical beings anymore. Fairies, much like vampires, have worn out their welcome mat in my bookshelf. But that’s just me. So let me grumble some more about this book.
I liked reading about historic England; at a time when titles such as Lords, Dukes, Duchess, Princes, Princesses and yes, King and Queen still exist – it still does.  Now this book is heralded as a fairy tale fashioned with a combination of Oliver Twist and Cinderella. But the entirety of the book was really focused on the fairie element, particularly the fairie ring that held the peace pact between the human world and the Otherworld. I have read countless of fairie books where these beings were portrayed as evil fiends and the MCs somehow ended up having blood lineage to the fairie courts. My point I guess, is that there was no sense of surprise here. 

Let me get to the likable parts of the book:
I enjoyed reading about Tiki’s plight – not because I’m a sadist who likes to read about someone’s sufferings. She was a strong character who had to do what she had to do. Tiki got dealt with a lot of bad cards: she became an orphan at an early age – only to fall under the machinations of an uncaring aunt and a dubious uncle. Homeless, she learned the arts of pick pocketing, thievery and living life on the streets. I liked her tender heart and her constant need to take in children who were orphans much like her. I love her unflinching devotion to those who she considered as family. 
I also loved the world this book was set in. Historical fiction sometimes bore me but this book also fantasy mixed in so it was hardly a wearisome read. 

But in the end, this book was just an okay read for me and personally found that it dragged a bit toward the middle. The romance was nothing to swoon over.  Tiki’s constant waffling about whom to trust sort of irked me as well. But I understood why. 

 I’d like to commend the author though, for combining all these fairy tale elements that readers would like.. just not this reader. Incidentally, I’m a minority in this so…you know what to do – judge for yourself. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#1)

It’s Monday, What are you reading? is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through a World of Books to list the books completed last week, the books currently being read and the books to be finished this week. 

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Well, I’m on a mini-vacay with my husband right now so you’d think I’d be able to catch up on my reading. But that’s hardly the case. It’s kind of difficult to do some reading when you’re in a place where you could easily get distracted by the sights and the sounds of your surroundings. I’ve been nursing a couple of books in my reading queue until I finally gave up on them. So I decided to put a kaibosh on those two books and shelved them back in my to-be-read shelf. Here’s what I’m reading right now:


The Fairie Ring by Kiki Hamilton. I’m enjoying this so far. It’s not a very thick book but it’s taking me a while to get through just because I can’t find the time to read. But hubby and I are going back home tonight so as soon as I’m back in the comfort of my bedroom, rest assured, I’ll devour this!


The Pledge by Kimberly Derting. I promised myself I was going to stay away from S & S Galley Grab but I find it futile to resist the temptation of reading a soon-to-be-released book. So I downloaded this along with a couple more. This book is putting a deep furrow in my forehead. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely hooked, but I think I need to read a few more chapters to figure out the era and the world this book is based on. It’s good though!

A couple of books that I finished this past week are The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta. The former was just an okay read and the latter…well, let’s just say, at a whopping 608 pages, I surprised myself that I was able to read it twice already. Even more surprising? I just got this book this week. I think that’s also the reason why I can’t get into reading anything right now. I always found it difficult to pick up another book after reading anything by Melina Marchetta. The woman is a literary goddess!

What are you reading?

Don’t forget to enter the blog’s current giveaway! Lots of awesome books including a signed copy of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe! 

Smart Chicks Kick It Tour Recap and GIVEAWAY

 On October 1st, the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour made their stop in Vancouver. I haven’t flown alone in a long time and I’ve always been afraid of flying. Which is surprising since my husband and I fly about 3 to 4 times a year on average. I don’t know, something about hurtling from 36,000 feet to my death tends to put the fear in me.  No joke.

Vancouver is about two and a half hours west from where I live (by air). I was simultaneously scared and excited. The flight was uneventful, thankfully. So obviously, I survived. All that fright and worrying were all for naught.

I had an awesome time! Vancouver is such a beautiful and bustling city. I just wish I had the time and the guts to do a bit of exploring, but oh well. Half the battle was getting my butt on the plane. Lol.

Anyway, I got there about two hours before the authors took the stage and the place was already packed. So I wandered around aimlessly to waste time – hardly a hardship since I was at a book store. I honestly have no clue what goes down on these type of events. I didn’t bring my books with me for the authors to sign, so I actually had to buy duplicate copies of all the books.

The illustrious panel included: Kelly Armstrong, Melissa Marr, Beth Revis, Margaret Stohl, Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Sara Zarr. They were very funny and forthcoming about their future projects. In as little as two hours, I learned so much about writing and publishing. The audience, which consist mostly of teens, threw questions that for the most part, were quirky and fun. The crowd pretty much brought back memories of my Twi-hard days, when I’d be one of the few mothers in the cinema for the midnight showing 🙂

I learned that EVERYONE, and I mean, EVERYONE wants to kiss and shag Derek of the Darkest Powers trilogy. Even most of the panel! Margaret Stohl is a huge gamer and attends the annual Pokemon conference (I didn’t even know there was one). Beth Revis is very soft spoken and loves chaos when she writes. Everyone was so nice and they didn’t give me an unapproachable air.

The best lesson of all: NEVER STOP READING.

I won a signed poster of Matched/Crossed by Ally Condie but decided to give it up to a girl whose mom was nice enough to let me cut in front of the line (she knew I had a flight to catch). I got home about six hours later to find an email from this sweet girl thanking me for the poster 🙂

I’m looking forward to the next event that I could afford to go to. I’m eyeing BEA 2012 in June. We’ll see.

Best autograph ever! JOY IS A BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. – Margaret Stohl

So, we come to the giveaway portion of this post. Open to everyone! 
UP FOR GRABS:



Six winners:

(1) The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong
(1) The Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
(1) How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
(1) Enthralled by K Armstrong & Melissa Marr
(1) Across the Universe by Beth Revis (signed)
(1) Raised by Wolves & Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes



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Review: The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski

Publication Date: May 10th, 2011
Egmont USA
Format: ARC from Net Galley

Goodreads Summary

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she’s decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable. 

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems – only her dad’s about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed. 

Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.


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MY TAKE: 2/5 STARS

Sheridan’s life is spiraling out control. Actually, her life has been on a spin cycle since her mother left them years ago. Nowadays, her father only cares about his restaurant and becoming a television chef celebrity. But that’s okay. As soon as she finds her runaway mother, life will go back to normal and she won’t have to move to New York where her father could finally host his cooking show – or so she thinks.

Sheridan is a trying character to read. Often times, I found myself angry because of her foolish notions. Her determination to find a mother who never wanted her irritated me to no end. It seemed like she had her blinkers on all the time when it comes to the people who ACTUALLY love her.
But then I got to thinking: Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would move heaven and earth to get it? It’s a need that blinds you from all reasons that you would do anything to get it and hurt anyone that hinders your way? Well, Sheridan only wanted one thing: to finally have her mother at home like she’s been promising in all her communications with Sheridan. I understand where she was coming from, but that doesn’t mean that I warmed up to her.
I honestly had a hard time liking her or all the other major characters in the book. I especially disliked her father; cold and mean and closed up. At times I felt sorry for Sheridan because for all the love her family claimed to have for her, they just continually hurt her as her mother did by keeping a lot of things from her. Let’s not even talk about her vile, selfish, immature excuse for a mother because other than imparting her cake decorating knowledge to Sheridan, she was pretty much a useless human being. I honestly have never hated anyone as much as I hated this character.
The single saving grace came in the form of the best friend who’s been in love with Sheridan but couldn’t man up. I can honestly say that I forced myself to finish this because of Jack. Other than that, this book didn’t leave a good impression. Sorry.
ARC provided by Net Galley and Egmont USA in exchange for an honest review. 

Congratulations are in Order!!

Winners announcement!
Fiirst, I’d like to congratulate  A.J.  over at Collections for winning  October Shopping List contest. She chose to receive Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Amplified by Tara R. Kelly. Congrats, Alexa!
I had an author’s interview with Brooke Moss, author of The “What If” Guy and also held a giveaway coinciding this event. We have three winners. 
PAPERBACK COPIES

Sarah (Identity Seeker)
Valerie (Stuck in Books)
E-COPY
Melissa Robles
Congratulations, everyone! I hope you enjoy all these goodness!
Stay tuned for more giveaways, you guys. I have copies of books from the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour that are dying to be on your bookshelves!

Review: Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2011
Viking Australia
Format: Paperback, 608 pages

Goodreads Summary

Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more
.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home Or so he believes.

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

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MY TAKE: 5/5 STARS (I wish I could give it more!)
I have the most profound love for Melina Marchetta and her books. Anyone who follows me on Twitter and who reads my blog knows this. I love her work so much that I spent close to $70 on this book alone. International shipping and custom dues are very expensive. I am not ashamed to admit that I blew my book budget for the month (?). Considering this is not out yet in North America, it was well worth it and then some.

I cannot even begin to summarize what Froi of the Exiles is all about. The story line focuses on Froi’s assignment as the assassin sent into Charyn to kill its King. If you’ve read Finnikin of the Rock, you would know that Charyn was the primo enemy of Lumatere. Because of that, I was infinitely set on hating this kingdom and its people. But as the story progressed, and in true Marchetta brilliance, everything was not as they seem in Charyn. Some were as oppressed as the Lumatere exiles in Finnikin of the Rock, and some were as resigned as the Lumaterians who were cursed, trapped inside unless the curse was broken. Charynites, however, were blighted with a different curse: the inability of anyone of age to reproduce. I’m going to stop with my interpretation of the Froi’s blurb right here, because honestly, I don’t want this review to be a drawn-out synopsis of the book. Besides, there were a million things going on in the book that I just can’t give it a justified summarization.

So here’s what I thought:

Was I surprised that this book turned out to be ho-hum, brilliant? Uhm, NO.

Was I surprised that this book was considerably much more complicated than its antecedent, Finnikin of the Rock? NO.

Was I surprised by the intricate way with which Marchetta revealed certain plots and sub-plots painstakingly as if she were peeling layers upon layers of delicate phyllo dough? No. In fact, I’ve come to expect it. Often times, I fought with myself; wavering to skip pages but couldn’t bring myself to do so. It’s a dishonor to the book and to Ms. Marchetta herself. And in any case, she made it so that every word, every sentence, every punctuation of this book was significant to the great cohesive magnificence of the entire novel.

I find myself unable to find the right superlative for Froi. It seemed underwhelming to simply say it was brilliant – an understatement of epic proportions.

The characters that were introduced gave this book a whole different dimension of literary genius. Quintana, for one, is a fascinating character. She’s not what you would call a beauty in a seemingly mass-produced heroine assembly line. She was strong and at the same time acquiescent to the role she must play in her kingdom as the King’s daughter. I can’t tell you what she had to do but her situation was extraordinarily sad and the exact opposite of venerable. This is also another reason why Froi left me in a haze of wonder. There were topics that were, let’s just say, of mature audience variety; raping, whoring, violence, sex, with a hint of incest. And although we’ve had a taste of most of the above in Finnikin, it was still a shock to me. But let me be clear, Marchetta does not write anything for shock value. In the end, a book, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. You can take it like it is and give it your own interpretation. I myself could say that everything in this book was tasteful and genuine to the story line.

Shall I talk about Froi? Well, in Finnikin, Froi was an undesirable character up to the latter part of the book – in the end, I eventually took a shining to him. I am not going to say that I’ve fallen in love with him here, but let me say that uncovering who he truly was overwhelmed me – completely. He was a multitude of characters and traits – snippets inherited from all the kingdoms where he once roamed and lived. But the best part of knowing the real Froi, was finding out who his parents were and how deeply connected he was to Lumatere’s enemy.

For me, Finnikin and Isaboe will always be the royalty of literary characters ever penned. I loved reading about them as young rulers of Lumatere and as parents. As a husband and wife, I found it funny that that Isaboe had to plan a tryst in a closet for a moment with her husband.

Sigh.

And finally, finally, Lady Beatriss and Trevanion. Wow. I have a brand new appreciation for the word, CLOSURE. That’s all I’m going to say about them. I wish there was a separate book about these two: how their love story started and what they had to endure during their ten years of separation.

I wish I can say that this book ended how Finnikin did – with resolution and satiated feeling that everyone got their happily ever after. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. One thing I can say for sure is that the third book will have to be epically exceptional to top this one.

Geebus. I have to wait another year for the third book. Gah!