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Jane Austen: A Life

18 Aug

Janeausten(PICK IT)

Author: Carol Shields

Genre: Nonfiction

First Published: 2001

Page Count: 185

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 4/5 Stars

If you want to dip your feet into the topic of Jane Austen’s life, this is a great place to start.


*Quick/Engaging     *Good Mix of Author & Work


*Skims the Surface     *Little Known Subject

“A glance can both submit and subvert; it can be sharp or shy, scornful or adoring; it can be a near cousin to scrutiny – but it almost always assumes a degree of mutually encoded knowledge.” Most people have heard of her famous books, but not much is known about the author herself, Jane Austen.  Carol Shields not only gives us a glimpse at what Austen’s life might have been like, she also shows how this might have shaped her fiction.

You would think there would be a lot known about someone as famous as Jane Austen, but not so from what I learned in Shields’s book. I can’t imagine trying to write a biography on someone with so little to go on, but the author manages to paint a pretty decent picture for us. I also like how she tied in how the various events in Austen’s life could have influenced my favorite books like Pride and Prejudice. The book manages to take her whole life and insights into her books and condense it into an approachable, brief biography.

I pondered two things while reading this book; the first thing was how much of the book was fact and how much was speculation. The author has no doubt done her research but because not much is known about Jane Austen, I couldn’t help but wonder how close to the truth the author’s interpretation of her life was. I think the only way to figure this out would be to read up more on Austen’s life and compare it to what others have guessed about how she lived. The second thing I thought about was the length of the book. It is a short read and the content is summarized enough that anyone with even a passing interest in Jane Austen could pick up this book. But I think I realized I’m a bit more than just a casual fan, and, at the end of the day, would have preferred to dive a bit deeper into the subject.

This book is a great starting point if you want to learn about Jane Austen’s life and her books. However, hard-core fans of her work might leave this book wanting more because the content is pretty basic. I didn’t know much at all about Austen’s personal life even though I’ve read all of her books, so I found it an insightful read. Since I’m more than just a casual Austen fan, I think I’ll have to look into other books to see what other biographers have gleaned from what little information we have on her life. This book sparked my interest but didn’t have quite enough in terms of content to leave me completely satisfied that I know all that I can on the subject.



The Goal

13 Aug

TheGoal(PICK IT)

Author: Eliyahu M. Goldratt & Jeff Cox

Genre: Nonfiction

First Published: 1984

Page Count: 362

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Goldratt’s method of teaching readers the goal of an individual or organization in this book is revolutionary to say the least.


*Thriller Format     *Easy to Understand


*Can Be Dry

“’For the ability to answer three simple questions: ‘what to change?’, ‘what to change to?’, and ‘how to cause the change?’ Basically what we are asking for is the most fundamental abilities one would expect from a manager.’” Author Eli Goldratt believed that a goal of an organization or individual did not have to be defined by complicated formulas and algorithms but with a simple set of measurements. In this book, readers are taught about these measurements, Goldratt’s famous theory of constraints, and much more while following plant manager Alex Rogo through a real world scenario which illustrates how these theories can turn around a failing business into a money-maker.

When learning anything business related there is usually one of two ways this information can be handed to you: in a text-book format or with a case study. Goldratt left these two methods behind to come up with another way to explain his theories on business in this book and I was impressed to say the least. He not only came up with a pretend, yet completely relatable to the real world, scenario to explain how his processes and measurements worked but he managed to flesh out the scenario into a three hundred page book and write it so it reads like a fictional thriller. This is how I want all my business information relayed to me from now on. It makes the information easy to digest and more relatable because you are seeing it used in a realistic case. The author also manages to relay a lot of information to the reader because we don’t feel like we are reading a textbook or even learning! Alex Rogo’s fictional storyline is interesting enough that it distracts us from the fact that we’re reading a business book, and I also felt like the information sunk in more because it was connected to characters and a storyline which will help me recall it more easily in the future compared to just memorizing definitions.

As impressed as I was with the feat Goldratt pulls off in this book of teaching the readers so much while also mixing it in with an entertaining story, this is still no Romeo and Juliet. It has its dry moments, but compared to other business or technical books I have read, those instances come up far less. One aspect of the fictional story that I didn’t enjoy was the addition of Alex Rogo’s wife and their marital issues. While it did add a human element to the story, I found Rogo’s wife to be a real piece of work. Her complaining was tiresome and she seemed so difficult to deal with I would’ve divorced her in a hot second if I was in Rogo’s shoes. However, I ultimately wouldn’t eliminate it from the book because it spiced up the story, even if she was a bitter spice to swallow.

This is a book everyone should read, even if your career isn’t in manufacturing or business. The concepts are so basic and simple to understand, I feel that they could be applied to any career. The fact that the book is easy to digest and the format of how the information is presented mean that this book should jump to the top of your list if you are looking for books to help with professional growth.



30 Jul


Author: Joe Hill

Genre: Horror

First Published: 2013

Page Count: 686

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 4/5 Stars

N0S4A2 is for Christmas what It was for clowns.


*Christmas Gone Bad     *Horror Meets Super Heroes


*Messy Ending

“Fantasy was always only a reality waiting to be switched on.” Victoria McQueen has a secret. When she rides her bike over an old, decrepit bridge in the woods near her house she is able to transport herself to the destination of her choice, usually to find something she is missing. However, she is not the only person with an unusual ability to transport themselves to various places at a whim. Charles Talent Manx is a twisted kidnapper of children who is able to transport them to an alternate universe of his creation known as Christmasland using his 1938 Rolls Royce. When McQueen and Manx’s paths cross and she becomes the only kid to ever escape his clutches, Manx’s only goal becomes getting his revenge on the now adult Victoria McQueen.

While I’ve never read It or watched the movie the whole way through, this book reminded me so much of the premise. Hill is taking something so beloved, especially among children, the holiday of Christmas, and he turned it into something terrifying in the same way King turned clowns from fun party entertainment to the epitome of a nightmare.  The author uses all the elements of Christmas to the max while crafting the villainous Charles Manx. There is nothing more chilling than imagining a deranged serial kidnapper/murderer rolling up in a vintage vehicle to the tune of Jingle Bells. Besides perverting the image of Christmas for me forever thanks to one of the creepiest horror villains I’ve ever read, I loved the alternate element of this book which was the classic super hero theme. Our main character, Victoria, has the power to transport herself anywhere she needs to go, as does Manx, though he uses his power for evil. We also meet another character with special abilities and are given hints that there are whole groups of people with these special powers that can only be harnessed when they have their “special item” in their possession that allows them to activate their powers. It is an unexpected twist to the book that makes this so much more than a basic horror story.

The ending is gritty, and action packed, much like the rest of the book, but the conclusion didn’t feel very clear-cut. Good must conquer evil meaning Victoria must defeat Manx, but the way she goes about it felt a bit messy. It’s not as easy as killing the man himself as we are told in the book, but how she approached the subject of getting rid of the man himself and Christmasland was a bit chaotic and confused. I felt I had a good grasp on the idea of the different super powers of the characters and how Christmasland existed but it’s demise and the fate of its residents didn’t really make sense with what I thought I knew. It’s hard to explain without giving away the ending, but make sure to read every page of the book including the acknowledgements, etc because the story continues with some surprise twists that threw me into even more of a loop.

At this point, if I see a book with Joe Hill named as the author, I’m not going to hesitate in picking it up. He is a master storyteller and in N0SA42 he demonstrates he is also a master of the horror genre. This book is an instant classic because of how well Hill has turned Christmas, a cherished holiday, into the thing of nightmares. Pick up this book and while you’re at it, just buy his entire collection. It’s worth it.



10 Jul

cinder(PICK IT)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: Fantasy YA

First Published: 2012

Page Count: 387

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Note: Book 1 of The Lunar Chronicles 

This story is Cinderella 2.0 with its nod to the classic tale but with a modern, sci-fi twist.


*Unique Retelling     *Strong Original Story


*Famous Ballroom Scene

“’Do your kind even know what love is? Can you feel anything at all, or is it just… programmed?’” In the distant future in the city of New Beijing, a mechanic named Cinder, who happens to be a cyborg, spends her days making a living and doing whatever else her stepmother and step sisters ask of her. Until one fateful day when the handsome Prince Kai and Cinder’s paths cross and her life is changed forever. With a deadly disease ravaging the planet and the rising tensions between Earth and the Lunar people on the moon to contend with, Cinder gets pulled into a complex world of politics that will teach her more about herself and her past that will make her question everything she’s ever known.

I put off trying out this series for so long because, frankly, I thought the concept was silly. A cyborg Cinderella? That is neither pretty nor princessy, so how could I possibly enjoy this retelling? Thank goodness for recycled bookstores because I don’t know if I ever would’ve been tempted to buy this book otherwise! Though the book definitely has all the elements that the original Cinderella story has in one form or another, the retelling feels very secondary to the overall plot. The writing is original with the setting taking place in a futuristic city and all the conflicts that are unique to Meyer’s book such as the plague and the Lunar people.

There isn’t much to complain about since this book is action packed but also romantic since it is a Cinderella story. However, my one big disappointment in the book was the hugely important ballroom scene. It is the main thing that everyone remembers about any Cinderella story and I had high expectations for something exciting and different much like what I’d read from the rest of the book. I don’t want to give anything away because it is pretty pivotal to the book, but I was underwhelmed to say the least. I think there could have been some way to have that Hollywood Cinderella moment in this book, but Cinder is not your normal Cinderella. Maybe that is why we are left with a not so traditional ballroom scene?

While I was right in thinking that this book wouldn’t be a fluffy, Disneyesque Cinderella retelling, I was wrong in thinking it would make for a silly story having our Cinderella be a cyborg. It’s a wild concept, but no reason to turn your nose up at this series like I did for far too long! There are great parts to this book that give it an original feel and make it stand on its own against the classic story. I will definitely be checking out the rest of the books in this series to see what happens to Cinder. Will she get her fairytale ending?


Lady Susan

4 Jul

Jane Austen: Seven Novels(PICK IT)

Author: Jane Austen

Genre: Classics

First Published: 1871

Page Count: 45

Type: Hardcover

Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Written in the form of letters, Lady Susan is the funniest, sassiest story in Austen’s collection.


*Lady Susan Character


*Story Format

“Facts are such horrid things!” Recently widowed Lady Susan Vernon has invited herself to stay at her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon’s, house where she is soon joined by her young daughter Frederica. Chaos ensues when Lady Susan takes a liking to her sister in law’s brother, Reginald, and she tries to arrange a marriage between her daughter and a dolt named Sir James. Will things go as Lady Susan planned or will her carefully crafted schemes go downhill?

The feel of Lady Susan is much different then the other books in her collection. I know this because I’ve finally completed my goal of reading every single one! The main character, Lady Susan, is Austen’s most crafty character. She uses her beauty and wit to talk herself in and out of any situation. She is such a sassy, tart of a woman as is seen her correspondences with her equally sassy friend Mrs. Johnson. She is very self-serving in how she treats her daughter and other family members, but it makes for the funniest, most over the top character in all of Austen’s novels.

This book is a bit different from the other Austen novels in that the story is revealed entirely through letters. It is clever but not the clearest way of reading a story. I applaud her for being able to pull off a plot entirely using letters but I felt like we were potentially missing a lot of key scenes. We are stuck relying on whatever the characters choose to write in their letters. Having watched the film adaptation of this book, Love and Friendship, I much preferred the story in that version because it felt seamless watching it scene by scene. You don’t get that when you are limited to letters.

If you are a die-hard Jane Austen fan, you’re gonna have to check this one out despite the fact that it is a short book and written in letter format. Lady Susan is one of her best characters and the light hearted nature of the story makes it one of her most fun stories to read. If you aren’t an Austen nut, I’d suggest sticking to one of her more popular books like Pride and Prejudice. Also check out the film adaptation of this book, which is not only faithful to the book, but improves upon it with Kate Beckinsale playing the perfect Lady Susan.

* Film Adaptation: (Starring Kate Beckinsale 2016)

The Healer’s Apprentice

3 Jul

healer's(PICK IT)

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Genre: Romance YA

First Published: 2010

Page Count: 257

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Note: Book 1 of the Hagenheim series

A quaint fairytale that gives just enough story and romance to keep the reader’s attention.


*Sweet Story


*Misleading Title/Back Cover Summary     *Tame

“So she’d never experience love. Most married people didn’t, either.” Rose was raised a woodcutter’s daughter which meant she would probably not be able to marry for love in order to help herself and her family. However, she is given a rare opportunity to become the town healer’s apprentice which will save her from this fate. While learning this new trade, the future duke, Lord Hamlin, becomes injured. As she tends to the future duke, she begins to develop feelings for him even though she knows he is betrothed to Lady Salomea who has been in hiding for years to escape the wrath of an evil conjurer. Will Rose be able to overcome her feelings to continue her career in healing or will she try to find a way to share her life with the future duke even if it seems impossible?

Right off the bat I started to getting very subtle Sleeping Beauty vibes with the whole Lady Salomea aspect of the story. I hadn’t chosen this book because I thought it was a fairytale retelling so this was a happy surprise that it had this classic fairytale feel to it. Overall, the story is very sweet; it may not be the most exciting or most romantic or most magical book you will ever read but it is satisfying enough to entertain the reader. The conjurer, the hidden fiance, and romance between the future duke and Rose, as well as a few other subplots, gave this book enough punch for me to keep going with it to the end.

This book could have been a lot more entertaining if the romance aspect had not been so tame. It is a young adult book and it is a book with a strong influence from the Christian religion, so this seems understandable. As a side note, some people might be turned off by how much the Christian religion plays into this story but it was barely noticeable to me and it also wouldn’t have stopped me from checking out this book had I known it beforehand. Anyway, the romance was way too tame for me which was probably my biggest turn off. I also felt like the title and back cover summary were a bit misleading. I imagined Rose would be healing Lord Hamlin for the entirety of the book but his injury is quickly healed right in the beginning. While a lot of Rose’s time is spent living and interacting with the healer, I didn’t feel like very much healing ever went on except that she kept saying she was really bad at it. This is not a huge let down, but the events of the story played out way differently then I would have imagined.

This was a cute story and I wouldn’t mind checking out more of the books in this series if they are all fairytale retellings. If this book was any longer then it was, I probably would have had trouble finishing it because of how tame the romance was and how predictable the main plot twist was, but, as it is, I was satisfied with what I read. There are better fairytale retellings or medieval romance books, but this is still a cute story to check out if you really love either of those topics.


The Lost City of Z

29 Jun


Author: David Grann

Genre: Nonfiction

First Published: 2005

Page Count: 319

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*

Rating: 5/5 Stars

An eye-opening, incredible look at one of the world’s last great mysteries – the existence of the lost city Z. 


*Intriguing Mysteries     *In Depth View of the Amazon



“You know, I had a lot of romantic notions about the jungle and this kind of finished that.” Whether you want to call it El Dorado or Z, the idea of a mythical ancient civilization hiding in the Amazon has intrigued many people over the years. Driven by the desire for unimaginable riches or archeological interests, dozens of people have made the journey through the Amazon in search of this hidden city, often dying painful deaths or simply vanishing without a trace. The most famous explorer to attempt to find this city of Z, Percy Fawcett, famously disappeared in the unexplored depths of the Amazon which set off one of the greatest mysteries in the history of exploration. Journalist David Grann reveals all that is known about Fawcett and his expedition in his book, but he also heads into the Amazon himself in an attempt to find both the missing man and the legendary city.

What makes this book so fascinating is the fact that there are multiple captivating questions this book tries to answer. The biggest one is whether the city Z actually exists which the title references, but the next equally important question is what happened to Fawcett and his party in the Amazon that prevented them from ever returning to civilization. The last question is whether, in the present day, our author can, not only figure out what befell Fawcett, but if he will be able to locate Z on his own expedition. I enjoyed the back and forth look at Fawcett’s life story and his journey into the Amazon with the present day hunt for the missing man and the famous city by our author. If I learned anything from this book, it’s that I didn’t know as much about the Amazon as I thought I did and that I never want to go there. Sure, I’d heard about its beauty, how large  it is, and how essential it is to our planet, but I was totally ignorant at how dangerous the jungle actually is. Unbearable humidity, difficult terrain, Indians who dabble in cannibalism, deadly disease, and dangerous wildlife like the vicious piranha, venomous snakes, or the deadly jaguar are just a few of the things that could seriously hurt or kill you on your journey through the Amazon. The author’s descriptions of the injuries explorers have sustained in the rainforest, notably any injuries involving maggots, were horrifying to read about and the cures for these maladies were no less vomit inducing.

The topic of this book is gripping and the story unravels at a satisfying pace that eventually leads to the clearest view that anyone has had on whether the city of Z exists and what happened to Percy Fawcett. You also might get quite an education on what the Amazon is really like through the eyes of explorers that tried to discover all of its secrets. While the idea of a hidden city steeped in riches like El Dorado is intriguing to think about, this book also highlights the fact that even with all the technology we now possess and how much time has gone by, the Amazon is still as dangerous to man as it was when Fawcett went missing in 1925. There is so much to be discovered in this book which makes it a read you should not miss!

* Film Adaptation: (Starring Charlie Hunnam 2017)

The Invisible Man

22 Jun

invisibleman(SKIP IT)

Author: H.G. Wells

Genre: Classics

First Published: 1866-1946

Page Count: 159

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Wells imagines what it would be like for a man to get his hands on the power of invisibility in a somewhat interesting piece of fiction.


*Interesting Look at Invisibility


*Unlikable Main Character     *Predictable/Dull

“And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man – the mystery, the power, the freedom.” A man has unlocked the secrets to invisibility, yet having the power turns out to be not only a powerful advantage, but a burden when it comes to day to day living. His discovery shocks a small town into a frenzy of fear when they meet this invisible man. Will he be able to find a way to live life with the challenges of invisibility or will humanity put an end to this unnatural way of living?

One thing that really struck me about this book were all the advantages and disadvantages Wells fleshed out when it comes to having the ability to be invisible. He really imagined what it would realistically be like for someone to discover this power. I never thought about something as simple as trying to sleep if you were invisible; you don’t have any eye lids to block out the light and to “turn off” your eyes! It seems so obvious but you never really consider things like sleep when you think of invisibility. You immediately think of how you’d be able to eavesdrop on conversations or steal money or goods. This is what makes this book and the main character so interesting – the fact that being invisible, while it does make you a strong adversary, has serious disadvantages as well that most men or women probably wouldn’t consider until it was too late and they had already agreed to take on that power.

However, once you get over the initial mind-blowing logic of the invisibility aspect of the story, there wasn’t a lot to hold my interest. It felt a bit repetitive that the main character either would have to go hurt, steal, or break into someone’s lodgings in order to maintain his lifestyle. It seems like the most obvious outcome for a story about someone just learning to become invisible, but after this scenario plays out a few times the story drags. I also couldn’t stand the man character’s personality. He is a short-tempered, irrational, rude human being and I’m not convinced that these characteristics were directly related to his struggles with the challenges of invisibility that he didn’t account for. I felt absolutely no sympathy for him whatsoever in anything that happened to him. I don’t think the invisible man is necessarily supposed to be a villain but he made himself out to be one because he was simply not a nice dude. I’m sure a more reasonable person, newly made invisible with all the challenges he faced, could have still robbed to cloth and feed himself but not have turned to violence so easily and for no reason.

Luckily this was a short book because I could not have handled more than a couple of pages of that main character. Invisible or not, he needed some serious anger management. The story is an interesting concept, but this is definitely not my favorite of H.G. Wells books because of the repetitive nature of the plot dealing with the challenges of invisibility. After reading this book, I at least know if someone ever asks me what super power I’d like to have, I will not be choosing invisibility unless it is something that isn’t a permanent state like in this book.

*Film Adaptations: (Starring Claude Rains 1933)

Moonlight in the Desert of Left Behind

17 Jun

Moonlight(PICK IT)

Author: Jan Baumgartner

Genre: Nonfiction

First Published: 2017

Page Count: 320

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 5/5 Stars

A first hand, honest glimpse at one woman’s difficult journey caring for her terminally ill husband.


*Touching Storytelling


*Wanted Pictures

“Terminal illness covers the gamut of emotions and response, in its poignancy and depth of human experience it makes us take a hard look at life and living, and what truly matters.” Soon after moving to their dream home in Maine, our author, Jan, and her husband, John, learn that John has ALS. Suddenly, all their life plans and dreams come to a halt with this terminal diagnosis. Dealing with the challenges of this degenerative disease takes over their lives, but they still manage to use what time they have left to create lasting memories.

The author wastes no time jumping into her and her husband’s journey with ALS. While John’s diagnosis was the inspiration for this book, so that the author could document this difficult and last moment in time with her husband, it is not all that you will find in this book. There are passages about the terribly hard routines of caring for someone so ill, and descriptions of the devastating physical deterioration. However, there are also beautiful scenes of Jan and John experiencing things most everyday people can only dream of seeing and doing. They tour through picturesque Provence and traverse the wilds of Africa, savoring these final moments together in some of the most beautiful places on Earth. Both the difficult moments the author documents of the illness and the peaceful times spent just enjoying each other before the more challenging trials occur are touching in their own right.

The one thing I would have loved to have seen included in this book were some personal pictures, if the author would have been comfortable with that. These types of stories lend themselves perfectly to having a section of pictures. It gives the reader a visual reference for some of the main points of the book. I could have easily imagined this book filled with pictures of exotic expeditions in Africa, aged buildings in Europe, the author’s beloved home in Maine with all its critters, and, of course, some candid shots of the author and her husband. Baumgartner is such a descriptive writer that it isn’t hard to imagine all that she describes, but pictures would have given the book that extra, personal touch for the reader.

There is no question the author has been through a lot in her life; we can tell this just from the little over three hundred page glimpse we are given into this moment in time in her life. Yet, even through all the pain, she has experienced and seen incredible things, some of which I, myself, could never imagine doing, like her harrowing treks through the African wild. Baumgartner shows us that life can be hard and unpredictable but her book also shows that there are beautiful things right in front of us if we choose to look.


The Demon Lover

12 Jun

DemonLover(SKIP IT)

Author: Juliet Dark

Genre: Romance

First Published: 2011

Page Count: 416

Type: Paperback

Film/ TV Adaptation: No

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Note: Book 1 of the Fairwick Chronicles 

The Demon Lover wavers between wanting to be a supernatural love story and saga about a magical school.


*Semi-Interesting Romance Story


*Disappointing Romance Scenes     *Overwhelming Plot

“Is a lie really the worst thing if it’s told out of love?” Callie McFay has accepted a job as a professor at Fairwick College located in a remote area of New York. As soon as she shows up in town, mysterious things begin to happen. Her vivid childhood dreams that often featured an unknown entity she named her fairytale prince, start to occur more often and to feel more real. Could the fairytale prince of her childhood dreams be an incubus ready to prey on her as an adult and is he the only mythical being in her new town?

This is one of those books whose cover and title were enough to sell me on buying the book. The idea of the main character of the book being seduced by an incubus is an interesting one that I had never read in a fictional book. Callie’s struggle between resisting a demonic entity and being charmed by this mysterious being were the main things that I found engaging in this book.

From the outline on the back cover of the book, I knew there would be some additional supernatural beings introduced to the story once the main character entered Fairwick. However, I didn’t realize their place in the story would be so large. I felt a bit deceived because instead of a love story focused around Callie and her dream Casanova, there was a whole other plethora of side stories Callie gets caught up in related to the college, the town, and its residents. I was not interested in this aspect of the book at all and felt the story really suffered whenever it moved away from Callie and her other worldly lover. Even more disappointing was the fact that the romantic scenes between Callie and her “prince charming” always seemed to get cut off right when things would be heating up. I could have used a bit more seduction in these scenes because they always ended way before I was ready to be done with the scene.

Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson about mindlessly purchasing a book merely because the cover is pretty and the title intrigues me. The Demon Lover was not what I had imagined the story would be like when I picked up the book. I wish it had stuck to what was promised with the cover and title instead of trying to branch out into making this whole X-MEN type universe of fairytale beings living in the real world. There was a good premise here but it got lost as the story tried to fit too many different mysteries for the main character to solve in one book.