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Review: Flight (2013)

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez and Don Cheadle
Genre: Drama
Release date: February 1 2013 (UK)
by Paramount Pictures
Running time: 138 mins (2 hr, 18 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Flight tells the redemption story of Whip (Washington), a commercial airline pilot who pulls off a heroic feat of flying in a damaged plane, saving 98 lives on a flight carrying 106 people. While the world begs to embrace him as a true American Hero, the everyman struggles with this label as he is forced to hold up to the scrutiny of an investigation that brings into question his behavior the night before the doomed flight.
My experience in seeing Flight is somewhat interesting. My dad got an email from Sky (our satellite TV provider) advertising free tickets for an advanced screening of the film and printed out a couple of them for me and him (without telling me, I may add). I hadn't heard a single thing about the film; I hadn't seen it advertised or anything. However, I got two pleasant surprises when viewing the film: the first was that there were no adverts (yay!), the second was that I really enjoyed the film.

Flight tells of commercial airline pilot and alcoholic William "Whip" Whitaker, who manages to land his malfunctioning plane in the most daring way possible: rolling the plane to be upside down while in a nosedive. Out of 106 people on the plane, 98 are saved but doctors find something interesting in Whip's toxicology report that could send him to prison. While an extensive investigation is undergone, Whip strikes up a relationship with Nicole, a recovering heroine addict, which turns difficult as Whip's worsening drinking habit puts a strain on Nicole wanting to stay sober. While the plot is certainly engaging and kept me captive for the most part, I have one little issue: the climax of the film happens at the beginning when the plane begins to go down. This is definitely the most intense scene of the film and I even found it a little bit scary but, after that the pace slows down an awful lot. Another small issue that I have is that religion plays a somewhat big part of the film since many characters believe that God helped them or that their fate is in His hands, while Whip is obviously doubtful. That got to me a little bit, especially since one character only speaks two lines "Blessed to be alive" and a very forceful "Praise Jesus!".

The performances of Flight were all so great that I don't know where to begin. I'm not too particularly acquainted with Denzel Washington's films so I wasn't too sure of what to expect from him. Fortunately, I loved his performance as Whip. Washington did a more than fantastic job of portraying Whip as a man with this huge internal struggle that shows on the outside, plus he got an Oscar nomination! Do I think he should win? We'll have to wait and see what I think about that once I've seen the other nominees' performances. I think my favourite character in the film (even though this isn't really the kind of film that you pick favourite characters in) is John Goodman's character Harling Mays, who is Whip's friend and drug dealer. The majority of his lines are quite funny and as soon as he appears on screen, I had a feeling that he would be the humorous character of the film. My favourite line of his just has to be when he refers to a guard keeping watch over Whip's hotel room "Cee Lo" (as in Cee Lo Green).

In terms of special effects, there aren't many save for the plane crash sequences, which looks incredibly realistic. The camera jumps around just like your eyesight would if you were in a real plane crash and although jumpy camerawork usually irritates the living fudge out of me (it messes with my eyesight and makes me feel nauseated), I thought that it worked really well in the scene and added to the tense realistic feel of it. There are also some clever camera techniques used when Nicole is shooting up and Whip is snorting cocaine (I still hate the sound of it). The camera focuses on their faces in extreme close-ups that are as extreme as you can possibly get to show the effects that the drugs have of them, for example, Nicole's pupils dilating as the heroin takes its effect.

Overall, I really enjoyed Flight: the performances and camera work were fantastic and the plot was engaging for the most part. However, the story could have been just that little bit more exciting since the height of the action of the film was at the beginning. The film is released tomorrow in the UK and I would recommend going to see it... if you don't have any plans to fly soon that is.

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking
Series: Watersong #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Released: August 2012 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★

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Beautiful. Fearless. Dangerous.
The kind of girls you envy. The kind of girls you want to hate.

Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Thea and Lexi have caught everyone's attention, including the eye of practical Harper. but it's her sister, Gemma, they've chosen. Sixteen-year-old Gemma seems to have it all - carefree, pretty and falling in love with the boy next door. But her greatest passion is the water. She craves solitary late-night swims under the stars, where she can belong to the sea. But lately she's had company.

Penn, Thea and Lexi spend their nights dancing and partying on the cove, and one night Gemma joins them. She wakes, groggy, on the beach the next morning and knows something has changed. And as she discovers her new mythical powers, Gemma is forced to choose between staying with those she loves - or entering a dark world brimming with unimaginable secrets.
I don't think I've ever read a book like Wake before. What primarily attracted me to pick up a copy was the fact that the book is blue (blue is my favourite colour) but the synopsis did intrigue me too. I've never been too interested in mythology or mermaids/sirens, but I figured that I would give them a try. I didn't have the highest of expectations but I wasn't expecting the book to be so... forgettable.

The main reason why I found Wake to be forgettable is its plot. The main body of the plot is rushed into and once it has happened, the story moves quite slowly until the final quarter when something exciting actually happens. I did manage to breeze through Wake, but the speed that I got through it didn't make the story any better.

I found the characters of Wake to not be very memorable. None of them really left a lasting impact on me and pretty much fell flat. I think my main issue is with Gemma; she changed a little bit too quickly for my liking. I would have preferred it if she had gradually changed throughout the book, rather than all at once. Harper, on the other hand, got on my nerves a bit. She seemed like she was a bit too big for her boots and needed to relax a little bit when playing mother to Gemma.

At odd as it may sound, the setting of Wake was the best part of the book for me. I live in a seaside town, similar to the one that Wake is set in. That's probably where the familiarities I have with this book ends. I particularly enjoyed reading parts in the book that take place in the water, because I find the water to be quite fascinating.

The creatures that appear in Wake are mythological sirens and their story is told in what I think is full detail within the book. Honestly, the myth just confused me. I just couldn't wrap my head around it other than, if you don't go with them you're going to die. That was pretty much all that I understood. I think once this series is over, I'll be sticking to The Little Mermaid type mermaids, thank you very much.

Every once in a while I read a book that is neither amazing nor terrible. For me, Wake is one of those books. While the premise certainly sounds interesting, the majority of the elements of the story are just average. However, I will be continuing into the series as I am interested to see what happens next in the series.

Review: The Assassination Game by Alan Gratz

The Assassination Game
Alan Gratz
Series: Starfleet Academy #4
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Movie Tie-in
Released: June 2012
by Simon Spotlight
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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It's all in fun until someone gets hurt - or killed.

The rules are simple: draw a target.Track him down and "kill" him with a spork. Take your victim's target for your own. Oh, and make sure the player with your name doesn't get to you first. The game ends when only one player remains.

James T. Kirk is playing for fun. Leonard "Bones" McCoy is playing to get close to a girl. But when a series of explosions rock the usually placid Starfleet Academy campus, it becomes clear that somebody is playing the Assassination Game for real.

Is it one of the visiting Varkolak, a ferocious species with whom the Federation has a shaky relationship? Or could it be a member of the Graviton Society, a supersecret group at the Academy that works to eliminate threats to the Federation?

As Uhura, Sulu, and Commander Spock infiltrate the Society, Kirk and Bones attempt to uncover who's being the explosions. But just as in the Assassination Game, they can never be sure of who they can trust - and who's out to get them.
I haven't read a Starfleet Academy book in quite some time and I've had The Assassination Game sitting on my shelf since it came out! The first thing I noticed about this book was that it is physically thicker than the other books in the series so I immediately thought that that meant more story! Fortunately, I found that there is more story; hurray!

The title of The Assassination Game comes from a game that is played in the book in which cadets run around "killing" each other with titanium sporks. However, someone appears to be playing their own real-life version of the Game by setting off dangerous explosions around the campus. I found that The Assassination Game is more exciting than the previous books in the series as the pace of the book moves with the amount of action, which was thankfully not left until the very end. Along with the action, there are also two 'romantic' subplots: one that I thought was clever, and another that makes me want to puke. The clever one involves Bones, the one that makes me want to puke involves Spock and Uhura.

The main reason why I don't like the whole relationship between Spock and Uhura in this series is because I have a tendency to base things on The Original Series, even though I know that this series is set in an alternate universe. Spock is pretty much the poster boy for celibacy, so seeing him be in a relationship with Uhura of all people just seems odd to me. However, as I'd said above, I did like the story of Bones' relationship with senior cadet Nadja Luther. Bones is probably the one character who has never really had a love interest (not even in TOS) so it was really good to read about him having one.

Hurray for going into outer space! Even though the Academy itself is located on Earth, it is nice to see the action go into space and even onto some of the starships during the more high-octane scenes rather than just being in a simulator of a starship. I also liked how some parts of the book went further into San Francisco and more parts of the campus. It may seem obvious, but I do like to see more of the setting.

I think that The Assassination Game is the best installation of the Starfleet Academy series so far. This book felt a lot more like Star Trek than the other episodes, but with the added campus mischief. However, the whole Spock and Uhura relationship still makes me feel uneasy. But, they've been written to have things for each other so I can't change that. Oh well.

Follow Friday (22)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What is the last book that kept you up late into the night just to finish it?

I usually tend to not stay up all night reading because I'll become a total zombie in the morning. But I think the last one I can remember staying up for was Specials by Scott Westerfeld (this was a long time ago now). I had a nightmare and didn't want to go back to sleep so I stayed up to read it >.<

Happy Friday!

DNF Review: The Family Corleone by Ed Falco

The Family Corleone
Ed Falco (based on a screenplay by Mario Puzo)
Genre: Adult Historical Crime
Released: May 8 2012
by Random House
Source: Purchased
Rating: DNF

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New York, 1933. The city and nation are in the depths of the Great Depression. The crime families of New York have prospered in this time, but, with the coming end of Prohibition, a battle is looming that will determine which organisations will rise... and which will face a violent end.

For Vito Corleone, nothing is more important than his family's future. His youngest children, Michael, Fredo and Connie, are in school, unaware of their father's true occupation; and his adopted son, Tom Hagen, is a college student; but he worries most about Sonny, his oldest child. Vito pushes Sonny to be a businessman, but Sonny - seventeen years old, impatient, and reckless - wants something else: to follow in his father's footsteps, and become a part of the real family business.
It seems pretty obvious why I would want to read this book: it's a prequel  to The Godfather. Which is my favourite book/film of all time! I first saw The Family Corleone in a bookshop and nearly screamed to find that there was a new book featuring the characters from The Godfather. So, I bought it online, and put it on my shelf for months. I had high hopes for this book, and I think that maybe they were a little too high...

I only managed to get about half-way through The Family Corleone, mainly because there was very little going on. The parts that I read moved pretty much at a snail's pace and I was actually bored in the longer chapters. Also, the few more 'exciting' moments actually didn't phase me at all, since what had happened before was so dull. So little happened in the first half that once I managed to trudge my way through one of the longer chapters, I'd had enough and put the book back on my shelves.

From the parts that I had read, there was only one thing that bugged me about the characters: there are so many new characters introduced that I didn't remember and didn't care for, that the Corleone family themselves are barely there at all. With these new characters, they are usually addressed by their full name and then given a nickname and then I completely forgot about them as soon as they left a scene. Once they came back, I was wondering who these people were.

To me, the writing style seemed very similar to Mario Puzo's, but I haven't read any of Ed Falco's work so I don't think I'd be able to compare. For as far as I got, I think the writing style is probably the only good thing that I can say about the book since it did remind me of Mario Puzo's own writing style, because he had great descriptions and dialogue always sounded realistic.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. I was really enthusiastic of returning to reading about Don Corleone and the family, but it just didn't turn out very well. I got as far as I could and very little had happened that I found interesting. Also, there were a slew of new characters who I easily forgot as soon as they left the page. I may return to this book some time in the future, but right now I'm unfortunately marking The Family Corleone as DNF.

Stacking the Shelves (8)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have received this week.

This week I bought:

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
Lonely Souls by Karice Bolton
I love special offers! There was a 2 for £3 offer in my local branch of The Works and I picked up The Immortal Rules and A Hunger Like No Other!

I had to get The Immortal Rules as soon as I saw it was part of the offer since I know how much quite a few people love Julie Kagawa's work and I decided to see what it's all about! So far, from the reviews that I've read, I'm expecting awesome!

I had a bit of a mis-goof with A Hunger Like No Other (I think). I tend not to buy books from a series in The Works unless I know what order the series is in. I picked up the book not knowing what order it comes in, so I checked in the front of the book and it says that it's the first one and then I bought it. When I was on the Goodreads page, it says that it's the second in the series. I'm a wee bit confused now.

I haven't read many witch books but I do love free ebooks, so when I saw an ad for Lonely Souls over on The Bookish Brunette, I just had to check out the synopsis and download a copy onto my Kindle (I'm obsessed with my new Kindle). I don't think I've read any books about witches at all so I hope I'm in for a surprise!

What did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll pop by!

Follow Friday (21)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: Who is your favourite villain from a book?

I have quite a few, well three to be exact. My number one favourite villain is Count Dracula, because he is just so awesome (even in the ultra cheesy versions he's awesome)! I also love the Joker from the Batman comics and Cell from the DragonBall Z manga.

Happy Friday!

Review: Gangster Squad (2013)

Gangster Squad
Directed by: Ruben Fleisher
Starring: Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
Genre: Action / Crime
Released: January 10th 2013
by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 113 mins (1 hr, 53 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Los Angeles, 1940: Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and - if he has his way - every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It's enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop... except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O'Mara and Jerry Wooters, who come together to try to tear Cohen's world apart.
First film review of 2013! And it's a gangster film too! I wanted to see this film from the second I saw the title. Not the trailer, the title. That just shows how much I love gangster films. For once I didn't have to go alone since my parents wanted to see it too and I made a deal with my dad that if I finished and handed in all of my college coursework, he would take me to see it (I originally wanted to go bowling, until we had all seen the trailer). And I did (obviously)!

There isn't really much to the plot, it's very straightforward: Mickey Cohen is a big bad gangster in LA, the police want him behind bars and commissions a special squad to bring him in and a lot of violence and shooting happens. That's pretty much it without revealing the ending. This isn't really the kind of film that requires a deep and complex plot and I found it very easy to follow what was happening since nothing is confusing.

Although all of the performances of Gangster Squad are phenomenal, it didn't feel like the characters were developed enough. I think most of the characters were real people (Mickey Cohen was a real person, but I'm not sure about the other characters) and it is a bit hard to do character development with real people because you can't really do more development than what you know about them, but still. Emma Stone's character, Grace, needed to be developed a lot more because she seems to only play the 'damsel-in-distress' type of female character and I would have liked to have seen more of her relationship with Ryan Gosling's (*swoon*) character, Jerry.

I'm not sure if the film was shot on location or on a set, but I love how 1940s Los Angeles looks. And I love even more that they got the Hollywood sign right (it reads 'HOLLYWOODLAND' like it did back then)! The styling of the settings really suits the moods of the scenes that they are used in and just look...... well, awesome!

Violence, ho! Yeah, this film is pretty violent. One of the most grisly scenes of the film happens about two minutes in. Thankfully, nothing is seen but you do hear everything and that curls my toes more than seeing something. There are two scenes where you can only hear the effects of what is happening. The rest of the violent scenes are quite high octane and got my heart racing, especially the final gunfight scene. I think that the visuals and camerawork of the film are the best part of Gangster Squad, everything is shot in a very stylish manner and there's even slow-motion scenes in a couple of places (I'm a total sucker for slow-motion). There were a few moments where I wished they would put the camera back on a dolly because handheld footage really screws with my eyes.

Although this film is very enjoyable to watch in terms of gun fight scenes, camera work and Ryan Gosling, it somewhat lacks in character development. But then again, Gangster Squad isn't the kind of film you'd watch to find out about the relationships between characters and how their lives are affected by things, you'd probably watch it to see people shoot each other with Tommy guns, which is why I wanted to watch it. But, that one little thing aside, this was a really enjoyable film and a nice homage to gangster films

Follow Friday (20)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: If you could choose one supernatural being/creature to really exists what would it be and why?

Do aliens count as supernatural creatures?
I'm not sure if they are... But if they're not I think I'd probably go for vampires. I think being a vampire would be cool but the process of being turned into one sounds pretty painful >.<

Happy Friday!

Review: The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen

The Lucky Ones
Anna Godbersen
Series: Bright Young Things #3
Genre: YA Historical
Released: November 27 2012
by Harper Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★

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In 1929, the Bright Young Things escape Manhattan's heat for the lush lawns and sparkling bays of White Cove, looking for leisure, love and luck.

New York City's latest It Girl, Cordelia Grey, is flying high with celebrity pilot Max Darby. But Max is a private person with a reputation to uphold - and a secret to hide. A public romance with a bootlegger's daughter could cost him more than just his good name...

Aspiring triple threat Letty Larkspur has finally gotten her big break, but will her talent - and special bond with the married silver-screen star Valentine O'Dell - make her a target in the cutthroat world of Hollywood? Perhaps the ingenue knows how the play the leading lady after all.

Newly married to her longtime sweetheart, socialite Astrid Donal finds herself spending more time with one of her husband's henchmen than with him. With so many secrets between man and wife, is the honeymoon already coming to an end?

As summer reaches its hottest peak, these sun-kissed girls will find out if their luck can last... or if dark surprises are on the horizon.
The last Bright Young Things book! I wasn't expecting the series to end so soon but, book three usually seems like a good place to end. I'd preordered this book quite some time ago and then somehow forgot so it was a surprise when it showed up in the post!

I'm not usually the type of jump straight to conclusions, but I definitely think that The Lucky Ones is the best book in the Bright young Things series. I really do. This is the book that had moments which had my heart in my mouth, and moments that made me feel like I wanted to jump into the book and interact with the characters. What I liked the most about the book's story is that it initially moves at a steady pace with little bumps here and there and then BAM! Right in the feels. I thought that everything moved really well, but the book's epilogue was just absolutely perfect. There is no way that that epilogue could have been made better.

I mentioned in my review of Beautiful Days that I wasn't too particular fond of Astrid in the first two books, but in this book I actually started to like her a little bit. Mainly because I felt somewhat sorry for her. I mean, she is married to Charlie after all. She appeared to be acting less shallow and more grown-up. The character that I started to not like as much was Cordelia, which I found to be quite surprising. Cordelia's personality has changed an awful lot, and she seemed to be a bit mean in this book and I wasn't too keen on that.

Something I that I thought was pretty neat about the way the story is told is that, for me, the end was a complete surprise. I didn't pick up on fancy foreshadowing or anything like that, it just caught me by complete surprise. And it was a good surprise!

After I finished this book and closed it, I sat and just stared into space for about a minute, thinking about what had just happened. I've totally loved this series and I just couldn't believe that it was over! As much as I didn't want it to be over, it feels like it was time and I can always revisit it and get punched in the feels all over again.

Stacking the Shelves (7)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have received this week.
Wow, I haven't done a Stacking the Shelves post in such a long time! Ahh, I'm so sorry >.< But, hopefully I will be able to do more posts this year!

For this post, I'm also going to put what I got for Christmas too (I only got one physical book though...)!

I got...

Kindle Paperwhite and a really cool cover!
I have been wanting a Kindle for such a long time and I finally got one! Yay! Once I get through the books on my shelf, I'll start reading on here! Now, for eBooks!

Brightest Kind of Darkness by P.T. Michelle
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall

Audrey Hepburn in the Movies

I follow P.T. Michelle on Twitter and she tweeted that Brightest Kind of Darkness is currently free on Amazon so I went to the book's Goodreads page to see what it is about and read some reviews and this sounds right up my street! I really love the cover, the red really stands out!

I remember that there was a huge amount of hype surrounding Stormdancer when it came out, but I never really pursued it or found out what it was about. Plus *whispers* I didn't really like the cover that I initially had seen. But, once I saw the UK cover, I was a bit more interested and went to read the synopsis. Once I saw the word "shogun" (a shogun is a samurai's master) and read the Japanese names I was sold and downloaded it to my Kindle. I'm so excited to start this one!

Dracula is one of my favourite books ever and when I heard about Incarnation, I knew that I just had to read it. I mean, Dracula characters in a Steampunk London? Yes please! Also, I seriously want that coat on the cover; it's just sooooo pretty!

Audrey Hepburn in the Movies is actually the only book that I got for Christmas, mainly because I absolutely love Audrey Hepburn. Lady was awesome and I look forward to reading more about her career.

What did you get this week? Leave me a link to your book haul!

Follow Friday (19)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What New Years blogging or writing resolution have you placed on yourself?

My blogging resolution for this year is to be more active. Last year I hardly ever commented on other people's blogs and it was as if I was a ghost. So, this year I aim to make my presence known and maybe even make some bloggy friends!

Happy Friday and Happy New Year!

Review: Slated by Teri Terry

Teri Terry
Series: Slated #1
Genre: YA Mystery / Thriller
Released: May 2012
by Orchard Books
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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Kyla's memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.

She's been slated.

The government claims she was a terrorist, and that they are giving her a second chance - as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla's mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?
I first saw Slated a while back in Asda and I thought that it sounded awesome but I didn't have any money on me to buy it (shame on me!). So, I got some money, bought it and let it sit on my shelf for a while (double shame on me). When I did eventually pick it up, I didn't know how impressed I would be.

The plot of Slated is one of the things that I loved the most about it. I love how original it is! Before reading this, I'd never read anything about blank memories so this was very fresh for me. I got completely absorbed into the story and I constantly wanted to read more and more. The only thing that bugged me about the plot is that there are a few loose ends that need to be tied about Kyla and even the Slating process itself. Also, the book's ending chapter seemed a little bit disjointed to me. It left me wondering what had just happened.

I loved the characters of Slated, particularly Kyla, who made for a terrific narrator. It was fun to learn more about herself alongside her, since she is newly discovering who she is. I enjoyed her character because she felt quite unique compared to most characters because she is learning everything for what she thinks is the first time and it was interesting to see her grow as the book progressed.

Despite the great world-building of Slated, I wished that we were able to see more of it. The amount of settings are quite limited to Kyla's house, school, hospital and the canal path that she goes running on. I do hope that the dystopia that has been created is explored more as the series progresses.

As I'd mentioned above, I really enjoyed the narrative of Slated. Kyla asks herself a lot of rhetorical questions that made me wonder along with her. Also, I enjoyed reading the dream sequences, which were written incredibly well and were filled to the brim with suspense.

Overall, I really enjoyed Slated! The characters were enjoyable and it had me hooked. However, there are a few loose ends that need to be tied, which hopefully will be in the next book.