Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Scorpio Races

Every year, the small island of Thisby holds a bloody event: a horse race that usually takes the lives of several of the jockeys. The reason is that their horses come from the sea - wild, ferocious beasts with an appetite for human flesh. In other words, they're not your average ponies. So when Kate decides to enter the races, she must convince the village - and her family - that a girl can compete. And win. With the help of dark, brooding Sean Kendrick, the best horse trainer on the island, she might just get the job done. 

I could say a lot about this book, and it could take me a few hours to do it. So I'll just put down what I didn't like, and what I did. 
Here's what I liked: 
1. Maggie Stiefvater certainly has a pretty way with words. Her descriptions of colors, smells and emotions are very artistic. 
2. The horses. The horses were supposed to be terrifying but they came across as normal horses, in many ways, because they were a constant presence throughout the book. I kind of liked it. 
3. The idea. A deadly race and impossible odds was a great way to start off the novel. I also loved that it wasn't a book about two people in love and nothing else. It had deeper motivation than mere obsession with one boy or girl. 

And here is what I didn't like: 

1. Maggie Stiefvater has a way with words, as I said above, but her words go on for way too long. The book is 404 pages and the race does not start until page 380. Until then there wasn't any building tension, and I often got lost in all of the endless dialog that entailed complicated horse trainer language. I needed it to be easy to read because I don't know anything about horses! 
2. I said it earlier: lack of tension. And by tension I mean excitement. There was hardly any until page 380, and by then the book was pretty much over. 
3. The two main characters, Sean and Kate, were virtually identical in personality and demeanor. A contrast would have made them interesting. Instead they blended together and became one bitter, angry, dark character. 

In other words, the story could have been told in about 200 pages, and I had to fight to keep my eyes open while reading it. On the bright side, there's finally a YA novel on the market with horses in it (when was the last time that happened?)!
Okay, lovelies. I'm off to read Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler, whom I hear is also known as Lemony Snicket... 

I love horses, don't you? 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Night Lights

Okay, I admit it. I have finally become one book behind, according to my automatic computer book counter thingy. Because of that, I won't have my review of The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater until tomorrow. And unless my house is hit by a defunct satellite over the weekend, I will be able to wrap it up. Even though I'm only 5 pages into it.

In other news, there are 3 main things that I'm going to cover really fast so everybody knows what's going on with this blog:


  1. On April 12th I will be one of the tour stops for Jennifer L. Armentrout's new novel, Pure. I'll be doing a reverse character playlist. Curious? You'll have to stop by to find out...(that's marketing right there) 
  2. I have collected as many tournament posts as I can and I will be starting the Sidekick Tournament postings as soon as possible. I'll be posting one per week, preferably on Fridays. Therefore, for the next few weeks I'm calling it Sidekick Friday. I know. So clever. 
  3. My first 2 books are about to be published, too! They're not the big fiction novels - YET - but I think everybody will find them interesting enough. I'll let everybody know when they show up.
I think that about covers my shocking announcements. Okay, so not shocking. I've got to sign off and get ready for dinner. Fridays are all about ordering in from our favorite neighborhood local eatery from the days of poodle skirts and greasers. It's how I go really wild and crazy on Friday. Big city lights. Lots of fried food. So pardon me while I go prepare to eat a million more calories than I could ever need or possibly burn off. 
Yeah. I'm going running tomorrow. 
Later, lovelies! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Die for Me




Kate is living in France with her sister and grandparents. Why? She's running away from a tragedy: the death of her parents. She's been to France before and she adores it. But now she's depressed and hardly ever even hits the roaring nightlife of Paris with her big sister Georgia. Just when she thinks she can't get any further into her sour mood, guess who shows up? You got it. A suave French boy with a big secret. He's immortal. And while he and his friends are all immortal, they do their best to use their immortality to keep people from dying. But wait. There's another type of immortals. And those guys try to kill people because negative energy gives them power. So the big question is...can Kate handle all of this death and craziness to be with one awesome guy? 

Interesting story. Interesting setting - I totally loved the fact that Kate lived in Paris. I also loved her sister, Georgia, the little house they lived in, and the awesome street cafes that Kate was always spending her time at. What I didn't love was the fact that Vincent's (Kat's love interest) immortality was so complicated. Him and all of his friends are "undead," and referred to several times as "zombies." Yes, I know it was fantasy and I should suck it up and get over it. But I found it hard to get into. And to be honest, there was some serious lack of tension. I mean...how many times is Kate going to shut herself up her room because she's sad? How many times is she going to cry? Here's the thing: when you're writing about a character who is understandably dark because of depression and whatnot, you don't want the reader to come away feeling depressed, too. For a lot of the book I felt like a little raincloud was hovering above my head. But I'm not shortsighted, and I hate to be a downer when it comes to novels. This is only how I felt about the book. A lot of people love it.


Ah, Paris. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

It's happened again!! I've been tagged by the awesome Victoria from Confessions of a Twenty Something Fiction Writer! This is a different kind of meme which requires you to go to page 77 of your current Manuscript, go to line 7, and copy 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs. Then you're supposed to tag 7 more bloggers! Now I have many, many manuscripts thrown around the house, under the bed, and right behind my sock drawer (all of them either end up in a pile or as substitute firewood), and I chose to use a teensy piece from one of my favorite books that I've written. It's a shame I can't release what the plot line is at the moment - but someday I will! *wink* So here we go. This is a scene in which the main heroine, Lissa, walks into a train station with the male lead, Patrick.

             
             Upon seeing Patrick, the apples of the employee's cheeks turn pink. “Can I help you?” she asks.
            “When is the earliest departure to Los Angeles?”
            “Let me check.” She looks at her computer and I lean on the counter beside Patrick. 
             He takes a step back and boldly assesses me while we wait. 
             I flush with warmth, uncomfortable under his gaze.
            What?” I demand, coloring.
           “You look good in my jacket,” he remarks, a faint smile tugging at his lips. “I could get used to this picture.” 
        And there you have it! This particular book is something that I have been working on since I was 15 years old. I'm working on so many different projects that I bounce from one thing to another. Some might say that this is a bad thing, but for me it works perfectly. It keeps the material fresh in my mind, and I always file away my ideas, no matter how old or minute they might seem. Well, enough of my rambling, let's get on with the tagging. I tag these 7 fantabulous bloggers for this meme! 

Happy Tagging, everybody! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Shadows (A Novella)

Oh. The. Drama. If you've read Obsidian (and I'm betting most of you have), you know that this is Jennifer L. Armentrout's prequel/novella to the series. It's a super easy, short read and it's full of signature Armentrout wit and fun. It begins like so: Dawson, the kinder half of his twin brother, Daemon (yup, the same Daemon from Obsidian), falls in love with a human girl named Bethany. What's the problem, you ask? For starters, Dawson is an alien. Not the kind of alien you find hunched over in chemistry class studying their notebook with such intensity that you'd think it was a magnet. And not the kind of alien that, for some reason or another, thinks that calculus is more fun than reading YA fiction. (I had to throw that in there) No, Dawson is a real live alien of light from another planet who can take human form. The only problem is that Luxen (his kind's name) aren't really allowed to date - much less LOVE - humans. Hmm. Are you spying major drama on the horizon?

This was a quick-paced read to sate Obsidian's appetite for more romantic goodness until the next Lux novel is released. It delivers well, and I can't tell you how many times I found myself laughing aloud (and getting more than a few weird looks from my brother) at Jennifer's downright hilarious sense of humor. The woman can really make you laugh. But at the same time she makes you feel for her characters. It's a nice balance. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What's Up with Me


By this point, you might be wondering where I've been. Okay, so maybe you haven't even noticed I've been gone. Truth be told, I usually blog every other day, so when the other day is missed, you know something is up. So what's up with me? I'm traveling! Spring Break. That's right, the time has come for me to pack my bags with way too much junk, stuff it into a car that's way too small for all of it, and hit the road with the hope that there will be enough rest stops along the way.

Okay, so there's never really enough rest stops along the way. That's just a sad fact of traveling through California. Some brilliant planner thought it would be a wonderful idea to renovate all of the public rest areas at the same time. Therefore: no rest stops in the state. Excuse me while I go google a list of Starbucks located near the freeway.

Anyway, on Sunday I drove down to San Diego. Of course it's supposed to be sunny and balmy and just about heavenly but we ran into a freak snow storm at the peak of the Grapevine (the mountain range you have to cross before LA), and I started wondering why I'd packed a bathing suit instead of a parka. I mean, come on. But in true California fashion, as soon as we passed over the sleety roads on the Grapevine, the sun popped out - only to disappear again once we sighted the city. In fact, it poured all night and all morning. The luck of the Irish was with us, however (leftovers from St. Patrick's Day), and the sun came out after lunchtime and made Balboa Park warm and downright gorgeous.


In case you're wondering, Balboa Park is a beautiful place filled with astronomically overpriced museums, ancient Koi fish and an aviary-like botanical garden that's closed all the time. It really is amazing, though. The botanical garden is set at the end of a reflecting pool and next door is a free art museum. But it was closed. (it seemed to be our luck) We also peeked into the Museum of Natural History, but we were forbidden to enter due to a totally random fire alarm. Two minutes later the fire trucks came and the Titanic artifacts on display were probably underwater for the second time in 100 years.

Right inside Balboa Park is a place called the 'Spanish Art Village.' It's a Zocalo with hundreds of colorful, painted tiles. Some have sayings, some have pictures of clouds, and others are strategic marketing tools: "Walk this way! Get a free tamale sample!" Okay, maybe it's not quite like that, but you get the idea. Once we wrapped up Balboa Park (I won't even tell you how sore my feet were. It must be 300 miles from the end of the park to the beginning.) we headed back. Today we saw Old Town San Diego and I ate 2 taquitoes at a fabulous restaurant called 'La Pinata.' Tomorrow means the end of our trip is nearing, and I'm going someplace that is second only to Disneyland on my list of fun things to do.......later, lovelies!
The Estudillo House in Old Town
Yup. Nada.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Shattered Souls

Lenzi Rose Anderson is going crazy. Well, as crazy as you can be when you hear dead people talking to you. That's right....it's time for her to own up to her fate of being a Speaker, or a conversationalist with the spirits of the dead still lingering on earth with her Protector, Alden. Alden just happens to be the love of her life. Too bad she can't remember him. Apparently both Alden and Lenzi have both reincarnated a few times. The only problem is that Lenzi has no memory of her past lives. So...can she step up to the plate and do her job of helping spirits move on from this earth? 

I picked up Shattered Souls because I kept hearing about how cool it was. It was cool, it just wasn't my favorite genre of story. Exorcism and such isn't my cup of tea. In fact, it freaks me out. Yeah, I'm a wuss, but getting back to the book. It was very well written. There wasn't any one strong plot motivation, however, although the romance with Alden was entertaining. I found the story very predictable. Predictable to a point that on a certain page, the tension was a bit lost because I knew what was coming. Nonetheless, it's a really fun book, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys the supernatural ghosts-in-my-head genre.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dust and Decay



Benny Imura and his legendary zombie slaying/samurai older brother Tom are leaving their home behind a fence and heading East. Ever since they saw a jet flying over the abandoned wild country of North America in the previous book, they and their friends Nix, Chong, and Lilah can't forget about it. A jet means that people might be still be alive somewhere. A jet means that maybe, far away, zombies don't rule the world. 
This is where the story starts off. Right in the first chapter we're introduced to the plot: Tom, Benny, Nix, Chong and Lilah are going to pack their bags and head East. Easier said than done. There are millions of zombies in the world - or as they call them in the books, 'zoms' - and what's worse, it looks like a bunch of local thugs are creating a new Gameland, a place where kidnapped children are forced to fight zombies in big pits. It's just as awful as it sounds, and it's up to our brave heroes to survive the living dead, skirt their old enemies from book one, and...oh yeah. Stay alive. 


I really liked this book. Call me crazy, but there's something about the post-apocolyptic survive-or-die genre that really entertains me. I like the absence of cars and cell phones and satellites. It's just such an interesting premise. Plus, Jonathan Maberry has a way with non-stop action, not to mention he knows how to strike an emotional chord with the reader. Really impressive. The only character I didn't like was Nix, and that's because I found her kind of bossy and insensitive. But maybe that's how she was supposed to come across. I didn't like the first book much, so I was happily surprised with this second installment. I'm waiting for number 3....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Halo

Oh, the things I could say about this book. Why, you ask? Well, when the story starts on page 417 and there are only 489 pages in the book, you know you've got a problem. The summary of the so-called plot goes like this: Bethany comes to earth with her angel siblings Gabriel and Ivy to possess human bodies in order to bring light to the world. It sucks having to walk to the mailbox to pick up your junk mail when you've been hanging out on puffy white clouds for a thousand years. I mean, once you've been an angel, everything on earth pretty much sucks. But Bethany falls in love with a human boy named Xavier Woods. And that, my friends, is where the story stops. For over 400 pages Bethany putters around town examining the daffodils and holding hands with the perfect male specimen of Venus Cove. But wait, it gets better. 
Nope, I lied. It doesn't. 
I seriously found myself skipping a minimum of 2 paragraphs every page - everything was so grossly overwritten that I was bored out of my mind. Seriously, I was eating ice cream and counting the chocolate chips in each bite as I scanned the pages to see if anything had happened yet. And I do mean anything. Did Bethany buy new toothpaste? Did she fall down and skin her knee? Did Xavier bring her a box of gummy worms? (Yup...gummy worms.) No! Plus, the angels were supposed to come to earth to bring "goodwill" and "light," but they never did anything but cook breakfast and sew clothing. No motivation. No problem that the characters had to overcome. It's kind of a big chunk of the story that was missing. Alexandra Adornetto started out with a good premise, but there was no plot, no tension, and no real reason for the angels to be on earth. That's not to say that her writing isn't pretty. It is. It's very artistic, in fact. But the entire story could have been told in 10 pages, not 489. That is why the story drags. Tension did not enter Bethany's world until page 417. As for me, I was tense just trying to get to the end of the book. Mission accomplished, now I'm off to read Dust and Decay, by Jonathan Maberry. Later, lovelies! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Elvis and Me

Priscilla Beaulieu Presley tells the story of her life-long romance to Elvis Presley. She met the King when he was the biggest star in the world - but stationed at a military base in Germany. The draft was definitely still going on back then, and it wasn't doing wonders for Elvis's career, who'd just left behind the peak of stardom. The story begins with this shocker: Priscilla was only 14 when she fell in love with Elvis, and he was 24. It was a romance that would last a lifetime. 


Priscilla would be his girlfriend, and eventually wife, for the next twenty plus years. What's frightening is the total dependence and control that Priscilla allowed the King to have over her life. He was a master manipulator, and she changed her speech, style, makeup, posture, tastes, beliefs, morals and pastimes to match his. Elvis could have a violent temper, and she was so afraid of upsetting him that she ended up with ulcers in her stomach. In fact, most of her relationship with Elvis was spent with Priscilla waiting in an empty house, shut off from the world, hoping that Elvis would come home and remember who she was. 


I'm not trying to be critical. Elvis was the King. He was amazing, and so was Priscilla. But this book sheds a light on how incredibly disappointing fame seems to be for those who climb to the top of the ladder. Elvis had everything, but he was intensely unhappy. Priscilla bent over backwards to please him, but it was never quite enough. She always bowed to his wishes, even when she knew it was wrong. She was too afraid that he would no longer love her. At any rate, this book reads like a romantic drama, and the whole time I wanted to shake both Elvis and Priscilla and tell them about a little thing called...reality!  


(For the curious: the color picture probably depicts Priscilla when she was about 16, and the black and white picture was when she first met Elvis at age 14. They were apart for 2 years after he left the army and headed back home: she spent that whole time worried that he would forget her. He never did.) 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Iron Knight



Prince Ash will go to the ends of the earth to be with the Iron Queen, Meghan Chase. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly where he ends up. In a quest to retrieve his soul and become human, he brings along lovable, witty Puck, the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin and the Big Bad Wolf. Whoever else joins him on his journey might come as a bit of surprise. 
At this point you're probably asking yourself: why would Prince Ash want to become mortal? Simple! True love! Amore! He can't step foot in the Iron Realm as a faery because it will suck the life out of him. The solution? Become a human. Sure, you have to subject yourself to colds, headaches and crazy hormonal cravings (okay, maybe only girls fall into this category) but you get the idea. 

The Iron Fey Series was one of my favorite YA series of last year, so I was surprised to see a fourth installment after the trilogy wrapped up nicely in the Iron Queen. Personally, I found Prince Ash's POV a little boring, but he IS an Ice Prince, after all. My favorite characters in the book will always be Grimalkin and Puck (what is wrong with Meghan - I'll take a crazy, redheaded mischief-maker after an "ice-boy" any day, lol). But joking aside, it was an old-fashioned quest plot line that used all of the best elements of fairytales to get the job done. I liked it. It was fun, and I still think Puck is the best character.....just saying.... 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Robert Sherman




Robert Sherman died today. If you pay attention to all things Disney, then you know that Robert was the older half of the brotherly song-writing duo, The Sherman Brothers, that penned hundreds of songs for Disney, from ‘It’s a Small World After All,’ to ‘Feed The Birds,’ from Mary Poppins. Richard was the younger brother: Robert the older. Their story is the stuff of legend.

Robert spent a great deal of time serving in World War II, where he witnessed firsthand the horror of seeing the Nazi Extermination Camps. These were images that would haunt him for the rest of his life – as would an injured leg. He returned from the war to find his younger brother, Richard, making the decision to pursue a career in music. It was a turning point in both their lives. Richard was a young, bubbly man with an optimistic outlook on life. Robert was slightly depressed and was constantly haunted by the horrors he had seen in the Second World War. It was this contrast that became the duo known as the Sherman Brothers. Richard talked Robert into coming with him to Hollywood – they would write songs together.

 They first wrote a song for Annette Funicello – and the rest is history. They wrote songs for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Summer Magic, The Parent Trap, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Happiest Millionaire, The Tigger Movie, The Mickey Mouse Club, Flubber, That Darn Cat, The Aristocats, and dozens of smaller songs for Disney Sing-Along collections and Disney Attractions like ‘The Tiki Room,’ “It’s a Small World,’ and the theme for the popular television series, “The Wonderful World of Color.”

Theirs is a legacy that has spanned over half a century. Their songs are timeless. Why? Because they wrote real music. Music that was sweet, and catchy and wonderfully real. Their contrasting personalities blended together to create tunes that have become the most well known songs in the entire world.

Robert Sherman was one of the brilliant halves of the duo known as the Sherman Brothers. The talent that he had coincided with this brother’s – even when they did not always agree. Regardless, he left behind an indelible mark in the world:
The gift of music - songs enjoyed by both young and old. 

(For those wondering, Robert Sherman is the one standing by the piano in both pictures, and he sitting next to Dick Van Dyke in the Mary Poppins Picture)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beautiful Darkness and The Lovely Bones Giveaway!

Beautiful Darkness. The enthralling creation of two authors, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this book is the second installment in the Beautiful Creatures series. The plot is summed up best in the professional synopsis: 

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he meets mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who reveals a secret world that has been hidden in plain sight all along.

Mixed with paranormal goings-on, beautiful writing and romance, Beautiful Darkness is a New York Times bestseller and phenomenon for a reason. 

The Lovely Bones. Murder. Salmon was murdered when was merely 14 years old. Now, her soul cannot rest until she guides her family remaining on earth to the man that brutally killed her. This book sparked a horror movie starring Sairose Ronan (who is a brilliant actress, if you've never seen her). The New Yorker even called it a "stunning achievement." Thanks, New Yorker. A two word review is tough to pull off. I should know.

Want to win one of these books? Enter the easy-peezy Rafflecopter form below! Want to win both books? If I hit 200 followers, one winner will be chosen instead of two, and that lucky duck will snag both books. I know. It's too good to be true. Hold your applause until the end, please. *wink* 
Wait. This is the end. 
Okay, thanks. Catch you later, babes (and dudes)!


P.S. Sorry, but only US shipping for entrants. *sobs*  


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Blog Awards!!




Thanks to the kindness and, let's face it, all around awesomeness of Victoria from Confessions of a Twenty Something Fiction Writer, I get to put two more awards under my blogging belt: The Sunshine Award and the Dream Launcher Award. Finally, stuff that I can actually win! I don't have a great track record of winning. Okay. I don't have a track record, period. I won a ten dollar gift card to a stationary store that went bankrupt. How did I win? Because I colored a teddy bear with oil pastels for the local newspaper. They ended up just giving me a ten dollar bill because apparently, gift cards are a thing of the future. (yeah, I was just as confused then as I am now)
So I'm supposed to answer some great, albeit wonderfully silly, questions for this award. Hang on to your hats. This could get.....okay, it's not getting anywhere. Just read. Just smile and read.

What's your favorite color?


Well, I like to think of my favorite color as one big rainbow. Seriously, I love dark green and I adore purple. But my favorite color combo is blue and white. So is that a real answer? No? Okay. I like blue. Sky blue. Deep blue. Black and blue....wait. That's not right. Just BLUE!

Favorite animal?

Are you kidding me? The cat. Un gato. Felinus Domesticus. El tigre. I love CATS! I adore them. In fact, if I could get away with marrying one, I probably would do it. They're so soft and cuddly and adorable. Yeah. I'm definitely going with a cat over a boy. (By this point I'm sure you've noticed that I have issues)

Favorite number?


10. My favorite number. Always even. Always perfect. And yes, it is Adrian Monk's favorite number, too. I told you I have issues. *straightens books*

Favorite Drink?

I'm a boring schmuck, so I don't drink alcohol. Alright, fine. I'm only 18, so I can't drink alcohol. But even if I could or wanted to, my favorite drink has always been and will always be a Cherry Sprite. I like to get it from the bar when I eat out with cherry grenadine. I love it.

Facebook or Twitter?


Twittah, baby! It's like face to face conversations, without faces.
Now that I say that out loud, it doesn't sound as good as I thought.

What's my passion?


Writing, listening to music, reading. And talking to people from around the world. I also love writing screenplays. Oh, and animals.....I love taking care of baby kitties. (feel free to sigh here)

Getting or Giving?

Who doesn't like a teensy bit of both? That is all I'm going to say.......

Favorite Day of the Week?

Honestly, I love Friday nights. Why? Because the weekend is coming and you can eat ice cream or watch a movie (and because I'm such a sweet kid, I settle down with adorable movies like Die Hard  or The Bourne Identity). It's just a good feeling.

Favorite Flower?


Wild sunflowers and Indian paintbrushes. I grew up going to the mountains and both of these flowers are abundant in the Sierra Nevadas. If I get married someday, my wedding bouquet will be a bunch of wild sunflowers. So I'd better not get married in December........

And there you have it. The darkest depths of my soul have been revealed, and the world is either rejoicing or telling me to shut up. Probably the latter. See you later, and check out my brand new Beautiful Darkness and The Lovely Bones Giveaway!!!

I pass this award on to five awesome friends that you guys have to meet!

Bridget from Rants 'N' Ramblings (Author)
Summer from Pride and Princesses (Author) (yes, another Summer!)
Zoe from Bookhi
Tess from A Pathway to Books
Kris from A Book from Snowy River




Friday, March 2, 2012

Angel Burn



Willow is different: no, it's not because she dresses like a mechanic or has the ability to glimpse into people's futures. It's because she is a half angel. Unfortunately for humanity, angels have been feeding off humans' ether for years, and now they are literally killing off the world. Too bad Willow doesn't know she's half angel, or that she holds the power to send all the angels back to their own world and keep them from killing humanity. With the help of the confident, sexy CIA agent Alex, she might just get the job done...if they can survive. 

Seriously, this one of the most entertaining romances I've read in a long time. Alex's character was perfect: dangerous, brooding, get-out-of-my-way attitude. I loved that. What I didn't love was the fact that angels were feeding off of humans. I know it was supposed to be gross, but it kind of turned me off. Plus, I have an unspoken rule in my head that angels are good and only fallen angels are bad. I mean, if angels are bad, they're demons, right? God's rejects.  But I'm not so picky that I couldn't see past it. The romance was my favorite part of the book. I've seen some people label a few aspects of Alex and Willow's romance as cliche and cheesy, but I kind of liked that. It was a nice change from some of the serious, darker stuff I've been reading.