Update Schedule

There was once an update schedule. It lived a good life, a peaceful life. A quiet life. But then... things began to change. It became more and more erratic, sometimes completely disobeying its very reason for existance. And at last, the update schedule could take no more. It cast off its chains and went free, seeking new lands where it would be appreciated. This message it left where once it had lived, to warn other schedules of the peril.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Before I begin the actual post, I have a question. I'd like the share some of my writing on here as bad examples and in hopes of getting feedback, but I was wondering- if I later try to publish something, would my having posted part or all of said thing on this blog matter? If so, would labeling each post for easy later removal make a difference?

Image result for queen of sorcery
Queen of Sorcery, by David Eddings
Now, to the topic of this post- dialogue. There's so much out there about dialogue, and I thought I'd try (in an effort to organize things in my own head as well as share my thoughts with you) to condense some of it. So, here goes:

1) Consider dialogue a chainsaw. Handy, yes... but be careful, or it'll do more harm then good, and it's not always the right tool for the situation. For this rule I've chosen David Edding's book Queen of Sorcery (book 2 of The Belgariad, whatever that might be). Let's consider this scene on page 17 (typed up from my copy; to the best of my knowledge all errors are mine):
"That's my cow," a voice said suddenly from somewhere off in the fog.
Garion froze and stood silently, listening.
"Keep her in your own pasture, then," another voice replied shortly.
"Is that you, Lammer?" the first voice asked.
"Right. You're Detton, aren't you?"
"I didn't recognize you. How long's it been?"
"Four or five years, I suppose," Lammer judged.
"How are things going in your village?" Detton asked.
"We're hungry. The taxes took all of our food."
"Ours too. We've been eating boiled tree roots."
"We haven't tried that yet. We're eating our shoes."
"How's your wife?" Detton asked politely.
"She died last year," Lammer replied in a flat, unemotional voice. "My lord took our son for a soldier, and he was killed in a battle somewhere. They poured boiling pitch on him. After that, my wife stopped eating. It didn't take her long to die."
"I'm sorry," Detton sympathized. "She was very beautiful."
 "They're both better off," Lammer declared. "They aren't cold or hungry anymore. What kind of tree roots have you been eating?"
"Birch is the best," Detton told him. "Spruce has too much pitch, and oak is too tough. You boil some grass with the roots to give them a bit of flavor."
"I'll have to try it."
"I've got to get back," Detton said. "My lord's got me clearing trees, and he'll have me flogged if I stay away too long."
"Maybe I'll see you again sometime."
"If we both live."
"Goodbye, Detton."
"Goodbye, Lammer."
That's where my example ends, but if anyone's interested,  our hero (I use that term with great sarcasm) becomes so upset by the state of things that he then jumps and attempts to kill the next innocent person who happens to pass by.
Now, first, I'll just say that the book was published in 1982, which is why I'm using the scene as a sample instead of discussing the book as a whole, because that wouldn't be fair.
So, let's talk about this scene. My (sort of) line by line reactions are as follows:
1) "Where's my cow? Is that my cow? No, it's a great example of misused dialogue!"
2) You're in grave danger of dropping some eaves here.
3) Ah, they have pastures. But wait... I thought it was freezing. What do the animals eat?
4) No, it is I, [fill in the reference]
5) Yes, this is very touching and all...
6) Yawn.
7) "Judge" is a heavy word.
8) Village? They're from separate villages, each with pasture space, and they just happened to wander all the way here, with a cow?
9) Tragic.
10) What? Is that even possible?
11) Edible shoes= leather= ability to use some parts of your animals= meat.
12) What? Was that an attempt at a clever change in topic before you got too depressed?
13) I'm so, so sorry. (That counts as a clever reference because I find it funny).
14) Creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy.
15) My, you're all about this changing topic thing, aren't you?
16) Sorry, but a quick Google search tells me that's ridiculous. If you cut up the inner bark you can boil them and eat them like spaghetti, though. So close, author, but then you ruined it by using a specific example that I knew wasn't accurate.
17-22)  How... depressing.
The problem with this dialogue is that it tries too hard. A much better use for it would have been to have a few more vague lines hinting at their poverty, and have our hero ask about it later, to have a detailed description that actually belonged in the story.

2) It's good to have dialogue sound realistic, but not that realistic. I was writing a scene the other day and I found myself with the line "um...yeah, there actually is". Perfectly realistic, but unnnecessary. The "um" simply does not belong there, because you want to keep your dialogue free of annoying extras. The sentence works fine without it, and so I took it out. "Yeah, there actually is." Sounds just as good, right?

3) Speech tags. I absolutely hate them. I can't stand most of them (unless used in a comedic fashion). Even said jars me, although it's useful every once in a while to tell us who's saying what.
But please, make sure they're accurate:
"I'm an Asturian," Lelldorin replied modestly. "We've been bowmen for thousands of years. My father had the limbs of this bow cut the day I was born, and I could draw it by the time I was eight."
And quit while you're ahead.
"You're an idiot, Berentain!" The first, a dark-haired youth in a scarlet doublet, snapped.
"It may please thee to think so, Torasin," the second, a stout young man with pale, curly hair and wearing a green and yellow striped tunic, replied, "but whether it please thee or not, Asturia's future is in Mimbrate hands. Thy rancorous denouncements and sulfurous rhetoric shall not alter that fact."
"Don't thee me or thou me, Berentain," the dark-haired one sneered. "Your imitation Mimbrate courtesy turns my stomach."
Now, as it happens, I actually rather like this scene, although it took a few readings to really get it. I'd like to stress this- in the context of this book, not only does this work, but it's actually quite a good bit. However, out of context.... ouch. Just look at the speech tags. That second one doesn't even make sense!
Also, he made the "evil one" fat, as is unnecessarily emphasized later. Not okay.

There's a lot more to complain about in life, but this is long enough already, so to be continued.
What's your pet peeve with dialogue? What's the worst dialogue you've ever seen? Let me know in the comments section below.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fangirl Review

I recently read Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. It had been highly recommended to me by several people, and while it didn't live up to its reputation, it didn't disappoint as badly as some books do either.

I've spent hours staring at my computer screen trying to write this review, which is odd, because not only do I really want to review this book, I've been writing reviews in my head for days. But apparently it's not translating so well into an actual review... oh well. Here goes.

The cover for Fangirl
Uninspiring at best, and ugly at worst, Fangirl's cover is winning no prizes. It's not painful to look at like some covers are, and I rather like the composition and the message it gives, but the main color and the huge amounts of blank space just don't appeal to me. Not a terrible cover, but not one that would have made me pick it up on my own.
The picture, by the way, is of Cath writing while her boyfriend attempts to get her attention. I think it's meant to signify the importance of the fanfiction to her life, and the way she uses it to shut everyone out.

Cath and her sister Wren ("Cath-Wren"... get it?) are off to college. Wren wants to get out and meet new people, while Cath is completely socially inept and has turned to a book series called Simon Snow (read: Harry Potter) in order to recover from the emotional trauma of her mother abandoning the family.
Not great, but had potential.

We have Cath, our rather pathetic Simon Snow obsessed main character. Wren, a deeply disturbed teenager who denies her social struggles but whose antics become more and more dangerous as she tries to fit in. Their dad, who has some sort of mental issue- bipolar, maybe?- and is finding it hard to adjust to living without his daughters. Their mom, who vanished when they were little, leaving them all deeply traumatized.
Happy family, right?
For side characters, we have Reagan, Cath's surly (but not actually mean) roommate. Some of Wren's friends, who don't have a big enough part for me to remember them. A professor of Cath's who hates fanfiction (news flash: turning in fanfiction to a college fiction assignment isn't a good idea). Neal, Cath's writing partner (but could it turn into something more?) And Levi... who's always hanging around Cath's room, but oddly enough doesn't seem to be Reagan's boyfriend, and seems to enjoy having Cath read her fanfiction to him.
Not a bad cast. Could be better, but not bad. I didn't particularly like Levi or Reagan, and I felt the mother didn't get nearly a large enough role, but I've seen a lot worse.

Your standard Rainbow Rowell. Not bad, not great... just... writing. The bits that were supposed to be Cath's and so awesome that they were winning major awards unfortunately fell very flat, especially the last piece.

Simon Snow:
Basically Harry Potter, although I was thrown by a mention of Harry Potter in the book. It doesn't seem right that both can exist at once.
In general, I thought Simon Snow was well done, with a few obvious mockeries of Harry Potter that made me laugh out loud. The fanfiction was actually a great example of slightly above average fanfiction, but unfortunately the author chose to praise Cath's writing abilites far beyond that, and the pieces we see simply don't live up to that at all.
The Simon Snow excerpts and fanfiction stories made a nice break from Cath's story, although I can see how some people would get annoyed by them.

This gets its own section, becaus we have a classic Rainbow Rowell ending. No closure, no tying up of any plots, just an end. This lost it about half a star because it disappointed me so much. It brought the book from "actually, pretty good" to "not terrible, I guess".

Just an extra, because I tried to listen to this book before finally giving up and just waiting for it to arrive at the library. I'm not sure if it's me, or if the ebook wasn't a good one... I remember being able to listen to Harry Potter ebooks, so not sure what happened there. I had to force myself to sit through five minutes before I gave up.

Yeah, I know, I haven't made a big deal before. But the amount of swearing in YA books is beginning to get to me (another reason why I found it difficult to listen to the audio recording- at least I can skip over the occasional swear when I read). It's just all so unnecessary. It takes away from the impact when you use them every ten seconds. I'm not saying there's never a place for swearing in a book, and college students certainly swear, but I did feel the volume was just a bit much, as if it had been stuck in for no reason other to have a swear in any particular sentence.

Rating: 2.17

Sorry this was shorter than usual, and about the lack of quotes. I don't want this to be later than it already is, and I think I might have accidentally returned the book (if not, I have no idea where it is... good thing it's not due for a while). Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments section.
Tomorrow will be a post on writing, probably an excerpt from something I'm writing in the hopes of getting feedback.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I know I've been talking about today's review for a while, but I was really busy today and I just don't have something I feel ready to post. I'm really sorry, and hopefully it'll be up tomorrow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I haven't done anything so terribly exciting that I need to blog about it, but I'm not skipping out on the update schedule on the second day, so I'll try to make this interesting. Next week I'll try to have a pre-planned topic so things go more smoothly.
I'm currently reading Agent of Change, a Liadin Universe book. This may be the first, fourth, or ninth book in the series.... no one seems quite sure. I'm also still reading The Eye of the World... I keep getting sidetracked.
The last book I read is Free to Fall, which I will most likely not review on here, although you can see my (not quite finished) review on Goodreads here.
Someone actually noticed one of my Goodreads reviews, which was a great self-esteem boost.
I discovered that if I search "hamster huey three stars the limit" this actually comes up, which was very exciting (I'm on Google!)
I've started watching Firefly, after being forcibly shoved into a chair and having a computer thrust in my face. After all my protests, turns out it's not bad. So... I can be sort of wrong (sometimes... yeah, that's probably all the humility for today).
As I mentioned before, Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan just came out. I haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, but the preview looked pretty good.
Oh, and remember Vizzini, from The Princess Bride (movie)? Turns out the actor played the dinosaur on Toy Story (who knew?).
The Amazon Fire phone is released today or possibly tomorrow (?)... more on that when I see the reaction (I suspect mass disappointment, but we'll see.) Kindle Unlimited continues to be unimpressive.
If I Stay, based on a rather terrible book by Gayle Forman (I should review that one when the movie comes out, I have a lot to say on that subject, but I'd rather wait until the movie to see if the storyline can be saved) is coming up soon in late August. Other soon-to-be-released movies based on books are, in order of release date: The Giver (I hear they released a new and better trailer, the previous one was terrible), The Maze Runner (I have hope for this one), and Mockingjay (I can't say part one, I might cry from the stupidity of it all, and I maintain that the poster is the only part worth seeing because of the cool flaming logos). I will probably be reviewing each of these along with their movie when the movie is released.
And... I'm out of things to blog about (not a very interesting week, sorry). See you Sunday for my review of Fangirl. If anyone has any book recommendations, I could really use some.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things I Hate In YA Novels

Hello, welcome to the first day of an actual update schedule *gasp*. Now, for the list:

1) Dead parents. It's okay for people's parents to be alive. No, really, it is. Honestly. I'm not joking. They don't all need to be dead.
2) If one parent has somehow miraculously made it through, they'll turn out in some totally surprising plot twist (not) to not actually be the parent. Instead, the king/queen/CEO/nemesis/otherwise important person is the parent! What a shock.
3) The whole "NOOOO!!!!" thing when you discover that your dad isn't really your dad or whatever. They raised you, people. Adoptive families do fine. Yeah, maybe you're a bit upset, but GET OVER IT!
4) The fact that the biological parent invariably dies (usually in defense of the main character) just hours after the moment of truth. (But it's okay, because they're so happy to have found their long-lost daughter/son/dog/whatever.)
5) Long descriptions of the insta-love companion. We get that his bottom lip is perfect, author. Keep your creepy fantasies to yourself, thanks.
6) The main character who thinks she's ugly (because she's too skinny) but everyone else thinks she's beautiful. Get over yourself, people. I don't care about your self-esteem issues unless it's important to the plot.
7) The invariable quote from an old book/ poem, usually left by the dead parent (or were they the parent?) That's great and all, but it's a stupid plot device, unless the puzzle was created by the person who left the clue. Think of all the time that could be saved if they'd written "___ is the leader of a secret society intent of destroying the world through___" instead.
8) Insta-love. You just met the guy. Your love for him is not actually some rare special thing I should have to read pages and pages about.
9) Love triangles. PICK ONE OF THEM ALREADY! Just look where it got Guinevere.
10) Giving things in our world new names (Wikipedia and Google are commonly renamed). This doesn't actually make it futuristic, it just annoys me. Futuristic books need to be in the FUTURE not a slightly modified present.

That's all for now (expect this list to have a lot of continuations over future Tuesdays). The next update is on Thursday, with our weekly random update, and after that Monday, with a review of Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.

What are your pet peeves in books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Updates, Random Stuff, and More

Hi, welcome back/ welcome.
I think I'd like to establish a tentative update schedule, because it's annoying me that I don't have one. So, starting now, and ending at further notice, Sundays are books, book reviews, and... reviews, Tuesdays are writing, and Thursdays are updates, notifications of upcoming books, and basically anything else that doesn't fit in the Sunday/Tuesday categories. If my readers creep out of the woodwork, I'm hoping that Tuesdays can be great fun with a lot of sharing of writing. If not, I guess I'm in for some lonely self-improvement sessions. So, yay, we have a schedule. See you Tuesday.
I'm currently reading The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan (book one of The Wheel of Time series). As I mentioned last post, I find epic fantasy a bit intimidating when it comes to reviewing, but I do love talking about it, so I hope to have an epic fantasy day or week or something of that sort at some point. The last book I read was Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Current plans have that as Sunday's review, although it depends what I read in between.
I'm currently procrastinating on all of my writing projects... fanfiction, novels, short stories, freewrites, you name it and I'm avoiding writing it. I do have a few scenes I threw together that I'm thinking of sharing on Tuesday because (I think) they could make a pretty good story if I ever get around to writing the whole thing (normally I write more dependably, I promise).
And on the random updates section of things (what I'm doing now, in case you were wondering, is covering in quick notes what would usually be separate blog posts, one for each newly created blog topic), there isn't all that much except for the newly created update schedule. As mentioned previously, Slaves of Socorro, by John Flanagan is coming out, Kindle Unlimited by Amazon has begun, and I think that's about it for now. Um... oh, and I contacted Brandon Sanderson on a question I imagine many people want to know the answer to, more about that if he gets back to me (I previously mentioned his Stormlight Archive series).

This was "things that couldn't wait until Thursday Monday". Thank you for reading and please let me know what you think in the comments section below. If you want to sign up for email notifications for new posts, the button is on the upper right sidebar. You can also follow my Google Plus; all of my posts get posted there as well. Button is right below the aforementioned notification sign-up. If you feel the need to stalk me all over the internet, feel free to ask me for a link to any of my various accounts (mainly book-related) on such sites. I'll be back Tuesday with some writing related post.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Slaves of Socorro

Hi, I'm back. Thank you all for you non-existant comments; I feel assured now that there are people out there who care if I update this (seriously, guys, the views are going up... not fast, but is typing "I hate you and your blog" into the comment box so hard?). Because of the complete lack of help from all sides, I've been bookless for a few days, but yesterday I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (expect a review soon), and I'm in the middle of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (not sure about that one, I tend not to review epic fantasy because there's just so much of it. Perhaps I'll have an epic fantasy week in honor of my first comment.)
If you're wondering why I used so many labels, it's because my labeling system is...erratic. I don't use them for several posts and then I go crazy and use dozens (although apparently there's a character limit... they're on to me.). In theory it's to help you find your way around my blog. In practice clicking a label is unlikely to be very helpful; I advise searching instead or asking me in a comment (yet another excellent use for the comments that no one has taken advantage of).
Back to the actual point of this blog. I've mentioned Ranger's Apprentice before (although I think I forgot to tag it, so it's lost to the sands of time). It's written by John Flanagan, blah blah blah (if no one cares I don't have to read boring Wikipedia pages on copyright dates and what you call a spinoff series... hmmm, this lack of interest could be useful). Basically there's this... well, as mentioned in the last sentence, I don't have to do research if no one's checking me, so let's say it's probably either a companion series or a spinoff series. One sounds like they're not quite committed enough to each other to get married, and the other sounds like they had a kid while still in this state and no one wants the poor thing.
Well, happy news, because they're engaged/ one of the parents took the child in. Yep, that's right... the Brotherband Chronicles and Ranger's Apprentice are connecting!
Yay (current statistics suggest no one else is going to say it anywhere near this page, so I figure I might as well).
I have not actually read this supposedly excellent novel by John Flanagan, called Slaves of Socorro (yes, that's an Amazon link, I'm holding the Goodreads and other links for ransom, to be released upon the payment of one comment requesting them), but I hope to do so in the immediate future. It's getting quite good reviews at the moment, and the appearance of characters from Ranger's Apprentice (according to Amazon, RA is "mega-selling", which sadly doesn't appear to mean they're selling gigantic copies in an attempt to raise sails (that was a typo, but get it?).) is an intriguing concept (there appears to be an internet conspiracy not to let me know which ranger is appearing. I'll tell you as soon as I know.)
So, thank you for reading (if you exist... I'm starting to doubt), and see you (well, probably not, considering how unpopular this seems to be) next time I post (would an update schedule improve things? I post almost every day as it is...)

And the cover (in case anyone's reading this to care.) Not bad, whoever-designed-this-cover. Not bad.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited- Is It Worth It?

Kindle Unlimited was first spotted as a cached page (Amazon seemed to have put the page up preliminarily, but quickly withdrew it when customers noticed). Today, however, it becomes public and available for purchase.
It's supposed to be like Prime or Netflix, but with books.

Introducing Kindle Unlimited
The ad, on the other hand, was beautiful and well designed. Sorry guys, it's just a picture, but here's the full video
But is it?
I've only glanced through it, but my answer is definitely no. Though there's supposedly some 600,000 books, I didn't find a single one I'd read recently or was interested in reading. The big titles- Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, etc.- are (according to an ad by Amazon) there, but it's all a show. The truth is, Amazon just isn't dealing with the publishing companies that are producing books peple want to read. There's a lot of books, but it's all filler. You're much better off just using your local library (my library's tiny ebook section has more books I want than KU right now).
Let's do a spontaneous test just to give some reference. I'm going to use books that I've reviewed on this blog, and see if KU has them. Tandem- nope. Find Me- nope. Divergent- nope. The Selection- no. You get the point. I just put in a mixture of the popular, unheard of, and in-between, and Amazon did not have a single one of them. To make it worse, they have these weird parody versions with mockup covers of most popular books, as if to try to trick you into thinking the book exists.
Admittedly, my sample test collection was quite small (edit: I went back and tested several other books I'd read, and again the results were quite disappointing), but Amazon just didn't live up to its usual standards. The more I look through the books the less I want to sign up for KU. The only interesting thing I discovered was the The Giver Trilogy has a fourth book (yes, they're still calling it a trilogy). It's a nice idea, and I'm looking forward to watching this grow and thrive, and someday be worth my $10 a month.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book recommendations?

Hi, I know it's only been two days since the last review, but normally I'd have picked a book for the next review by now (and possibly read the book, along with ten others, and written the review, and published the review...) I did actually read a book the other day- Possession, by Elana Johnson. It was so hilariously bad I didn't want to ruin my good feelings towards it (if you're feeling down, read it, it made me laugh out loud) by analyzing it in a review. Maybe another day.

This series has the strangest covers, and I haven't the slightest idea what the symbolize or why they're supposed to be related to the books. By the way, this amused me- the books' placement in series are, in order: 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, and 3. Before I knew these all existed I was sort of considering reading the sequel and doing a post on the series, but my amusement over its terriblenesss probably doesn't stretch through five books. By the way, I've discovered how to create captions (yes, I'm an idiot) so hopefully not more messed up formatting and font sizes.
Anyway, so my point is I'm currently book-less. I've gone probably a whole 12 hours without reading a book. I'm getting desperate. If you guys have any suggestions I'd love to hear them. :)

Oh, and minor real life update, everything's good, we had a bit of a scare with one of the mice but she's (we think) fine, the hamster is alive (to my knowledge), etc. I started a new fanfiction project, read a piece of Ranger's Apprentice fanfiction that was actually pretty good, started writing a new novel but found the premise too creepy, and did other various things too boring to mention here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review of Tandem

So, Tandem by Anna Jarzab. I found this book while randomly searching through an e-book library. The reviews were mostly okay, so I decided to give it a shot.

(Note about the formatting: bold is a header, underlining is me emphasizing, italisizing is quotes from the book. The summary is directly copied and therefore outside of my formatting. All quotes from the book are retyped by me from the kindle edition (it wouldn't let me copy). I played with fonts a bit- I'm not thrilled with the one I picked, but it seemed readable. The size of the font is something I struggled with the editor over for quite a while. It won.
I'd appreciate it if you let me know how the formatting works out for you.)

I wasn't particularly inspired by the cover of Tandem, but it is rather pretty

So first, I turned to Goodreads (as I do so often). The summary of this book is:
"Everything repeats.

You. Your best friend. Every person you know.
Many worlds. Many lives--infinite possibilities.
Welcome to the multiverse.

Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson has only ever known one small, ordinary life. When she was young, she loved her grandfather's stories of parallel worlds inhabited by girls who looked like her but led totally different lives. Sasha never believed such worlds were real--until now, when she finds herself thrust into one against her will.

To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives, and two young men vying for her love--one who knows her secret, and one who thinks she's someone she's not.

The first book in the Many-Worlds Trilogy, Tandem is a riveting saga of love and betrayal set in parallel universes in which nothing--and no one--is what it seems."

Parallel universes, love triangles, person impersonating a princess just before the arranged marriage... this didn't sound particularly original or promising, although the prospect of parallel universes was rather exciting. Much better than the usual "look-alike among the commoners" situation. I went into it with low expectations but cautious enthusiasm.

First, let's talk about the writing quality. Tandem had its moments, both good and bad. Sometimes it was painful to read, sometimes I found myself thinking that the author really did have talent. I have some examples of each, as you'll see later in the post.
The book is split into three (you could argue for two) perspectives.  There's our main character, Sasha. She gets first person past tense. Then there's Thomas Mayhew, who gets third person past tense and some lovely alliterative chapter titles. Last is Princess Juliana, and here's where it gets complicated, because it's not quite clear whether we're in her viewpoint (third person past tense) or Sasha's dreams in her viewpoint. It amounts to the same thing, but it does make defining viewpoints a bit tricky.
I'm going to throw setting in here as well. Basically there's our normal Earth, and then a parallel universe, Aurora. We lost the Revolutionary War on Aurora, but eventually some guy rose up and overthrew England, creating the UCC in its place. The UCC has a monarchy and Chicago's messed up, along with some other stuff. There's also some odd slang. The question of differentiating accents never comes up. As parallel universes go, it's not awful, but it's not winning any awards either.

Next, plot! The plot is basically that Juliana, the princess of the parallel universe we'll call Aurora, has run away. As Juliana puts it, running away, hiding, avoiding her duty. Juliana feels that she deserves the chance to live a normal life, away from the Castle, away from her responsibilites. Basically, she's betraying everyone, all the people that depended on the royal family for strength and leadership and salvation. So, the UCC is down a princess. Luckily for them, Sasha Lawson is an analog (parallel universe look-alike) for Juliana and they develop a handy plan to have her take Juliana's place, involving Agent Thomas Mayhew inviting her to prom. Problem solved- one kidnapped replacement princess to complete the treaty with another country through an arranged marriage.
Meanwhile, of course, Sasha falls in love with Agent Thomas Mayhew, but of course the prince she's 'engaged' too (coincidentally analog to a movie star) is attractive and sweet and completes a love triangle that, thank God, doesn't particularly exist (more on that later).
That plot is, shockingly, kind of interesting. Yes, it's rather unoriginal, but most of it wasn't all that horrible. It's not gaining any points for plot, but there's no real loss there, either. 
The parallel universe explanations were rather uninspired, but acceptable.

And characters! First up: Sasha Lawson, main character.
Sasha isn't a particularly interesting person. Contrary to other reviews, I didn't find her too whiny (although she did cry a few times more than was strictly necessary). She does have a few flaws- namely her description of Grant Davis (read: Agent Thomas Mayhew) as the finest human specimen that had ever come into existence. He apparently has eyes the color of new spring grass and thick blond hair that always looked slightly rumpled, as if he'd just rolled out of bed.
This might be a lovely color, but I don't think I've ever seen anyone with eyes like that

And seriously, what's with this attraction to messy hair? I had no idea that bedhead attracted potential dates. I'll be sure never to brush my hair again.
So, aside from her odd taste in boys, Sasha isn't a bad character. Just... uninteresting. Oh, and there's the Stockholm's, but I'm going to give that its own section. She also shares my terror of guns, going so far as to not even put her finger on the trigger during the 'threatening to shoot kidnapper' bit. Oooh, and she magically develops the ability to dance and walk in 4 inch heels. That is a talent.
Next: Agent Thomas Mayhew, son of the General, incredibly talented soldier in high position despite youth and inexperience (read: nepotism), and eater of chocolates.
No, I'm not kidding about that last one. Agent Mayhew, on appearing on Earth:
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of toggles, popping them into his mouth one by one and savoring the taste of the smooth chcolate before biting down softly upon the fruit center. It was his one vice; there was nothing on Earth to compare with toggles, so even though it was against the rules to bring something from his universe that did not exist in this one, he couldn't resist carrying a bag through the tandem. (For those of you wondering what a tandem is, it's the thingy separating the universes from one another.)
So, does Agent Mayhew, on an important mission on which the fate  of an entire universe rested upon his shoulder, proceed with professionalism, completely devoted to the cause? Nope,  because he likes to eat chocolate when he's anxious, so it seemed to be worth the risk
Does Agent Mayhew's eating of chocolate at inappropriate moments end there? No, of course not. You didn't really expect him to manage without chocolate, did you? No, again on his important mission- this time guarding and briefing Sasha, we see the following scene:
I heard a faint rustle of plastic and looked over to see Thomas pulling  a handful of candies out of his pocket. He popped them into his mouth one by one and chewed in a slow rhythmic fashion....
I present to you Agent Thomas Mayhew: protector of an entire universe, right up until it comes to the choice between the universe or a bag of chocolate.
You're probably wondering why I call him Agent Mayhew rather than Thomas, as he's referred to throughout the book. The answer is that not a single person aside from his own father consistently refers to him by title, so I thought I'd stand up for his dignity.
Anyway. I'm sure Agent Mayhew has many remarkable qualities, but sadly these were all swept away by his overpowering (if amusing) love of chocolate. The rest of his character pales in contrast.
Sasha is allergic to chocolate, so it's hard to see the attraction between them (more chocolate for Agent Mayhew?), but more on that later. It's certainly not his pickup line, which consists of: You seem smart and cool, and you're clearly pretty. I mean, you know you're pretty, right? (Smooth, Mayhew. Very smooth.) He  also does the 'insisting on walking her home and then grabbing her backpack when she refuses' thing, which I personally find very creepy. Refusing to leave you alone and stealing your posessions to force you into being with him against your will has never seemed attractive to me.
I addressed Princess Juliana pretty well before, so I won't bother to repeat all the quotes. Basically she abandons her kingdom and hands over state secrets to the enemy (although personally, I'm kind of on the enemy's side...) in a fit of teenage rebellion. Just the sort of person you want ruling your country, right?
That addresses the three main characters. There are of course, others- Gloria, the brilliant scheduler. The General "I don't need the love of the people; I have nuclear weapons" Mayhew. The evil stepmother (her crime? Disliking the princess). The king, in a very convenient coma. A rather insane bumbling old professor type who seems quite harmless right up until he starts dangling people off rooftops (all in the name of science, of course). Many other minor characters who don't appear enough to matter.
Oh, and I nearly forgot! Callum, prince of some foreign country or another. The last member of the supposed love triangle, despite being such a minor and unnotable character that I very nearly forgot to mention him in the review. He is actually rather sweet, as seen in this scene:
"Okay," he said. "Here's my secret: I actually fell in love with you back when I was ten."
"What? Are you serious?"
"I saw your picture on one of the press boards. It was of you and your father, I think, at some state dinnger. You were wearing a blue dress and your hair was all curled."
"I don't remember that," I said.
"Well, I do," Callum said. "And I turned to my mother and said 'I'm going to marry that girl someday!'..."
Isn't that sweet? Sadly he doesn't know that his precious Juli, is, in fact, a fake, due to the fact that thanks to his paranoid mother, he's never gone outside before.

And the part I've been looking forwards to: Stockholm's Syndrome and the 'love triangle'.
According to Wikipedia: "Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness"
Sounds a lot like what happens with Agent Mayhew and Sasha to me. There is honestly no other explanation for their relationship. He kidnaps her. Maybe over the course of years, after she'd learned to trust again. Maybe. But in just a few days? No. Especially after the aforementioned rooftop-dangling-off-of scene (you'll be pleased to know that Agent Mayhew did not drop her in order to free his hands for chocolate eating).
And the love triangle. She's obviously not really in love with Agent Mayhew, but she might have a crush on Callum. There's nothing to indicate anything major enough to be called a love triangle. If you hate love triangles, I wouldn't say this book isn't for you, but I am a bit concerned about where this will lead in the rest of the series.

The Rating:
I thought long and hard about this one, and I'm giving it a 2.367.

Thank you all for reading; please comment and let me know what you thought about the book.
Recommendations for the next book are also welcome, as I don't currently have one in mind.