The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden

How can you not read a book with a title like that? Unfortunately, as books like The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu prove, books don’t always live up to their title. Emma Trevayne’s story of a young boy who helps support his family by robbing graves did not disappoint.

This book was written for 8 to 12 year olds, and I think it would capture that audience perfectly. The villain is suitably villainous the hero isn’t overly heroic and everyone gets the ending they deserve. The characters are developed well, the plot paces itself out perfectly and my only real complaint is that I wanted more of it.

Legends about fairies vary so much you can do just about anything you want with them. Trevayne juggles the mythology deftly, weaving it seamlessly into her story. That’s not always easy to do, but it flows so smoothly here, it seems effortless.

As an adult reader, I would have liked a little more depth to the story. Everything wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly to leave me really satisfied. On that basis, I’d give it a solid four stars. For the intended audience, an argument could be made for five out of five.

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Lumberjanes Vol. 1

I’m in the middle of a fairly intense online class, which means my recreational reading has been cut to the bone. It seemed like a good time to revisit graphic novels. I got out Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes Vol. 1 because I loved Nimona so much.

Lumberjanes are no Nimona, but I still really liked the book. I felt like I was jumping into the middle of the story, and I’d appreciate a little back story about what this camp is, what brought our cast of characters there and so on, but I’m still hoping some of that comes up in later volumes. I thought the characters had a good mix of different but complementary personalities and styles. I liked the story and the pacing and one of my favorite lines ever now has to be “I AM GOING TO CATCH A FISH BY WRESTLING IT AWAY FROM A BEAR!”

Like the pilot episode of a tv show, this volume whetted my appetite for more of the story, which should be the main purpose of any first installment, whatever medium we’re talking about. Even though it doesn’t rate Nimona’s five stars, I could gush about it for a while and really want to give it four stars.

BUT

Those field manual inserts at the beginning of each chapter were awful. They were boring and full of typos and by the third one I was skipping them. The fact that I could skip them means there was no reason to include them at all. If you want to do something like this, do it well. Throw in some jokes or some foreshadowing or at the very least proofread them.

I almost want to pretend the inserts weren’t there and give this book four stars, but they were there, and they drag the rating down to three stars. Most definitely worth reading but also most definitely room for improvement.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

I don’t know if the gaps in my history education are common across America’s public school system or if it’s a weakness unique to my alma mater, but I know far more about the ancient Egyptians and the Medieval serf system than I do about, say the Cold War. (My mom gets really upset when I call the Cold War history, by the way.)

My point is, my history knowledge is pretty spotty, and gets spottier the closer we get to current events. (Where is the line for that, anyways? Who decides?) I have a pretty fair grasp of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, but my understanding of World War I is sketchy and most of what I know about World War II can be learned from The Diary of Anne Frank and Schindler’s List.

So I set out to correct this with books, starting with the much-acclaimed biography of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt covers everything between his birth and his presidency. And I do mean everything. While I appreciate a thorough biography, I did not need an exact list of all of his kills on his extensive hunting trips.

It took my over a year to read this book, but only because I put it down for about ten months. I really had to slog through his childhood. Roosevelt was a sickly child, and Morris delivers a minute account of his illnesses, treatments, relapses, and everything else you never wanted to know. By the time I was reading about his courtship of his first wife, I was bored with him, which is not something I ever expected from the man who led the Rough Riders in their famous charge up San Juan Hill.

After my ten-month hiatus, I picked the book back up and finished it in about two weeks. Once his political career gets moving, everything becomes exponentially more interesting. The book ends with McKinley’s assassination and I’m looking forward to Theodore Rex, which covers Roosevelt’s time in the White House.

Morris writes a very fair and balanced biography. Roosevelt accomplishes extraordinary things, mostly through being an overly opinionated workaholic. His more questionable decisions, like his support of James Blaine’s presidential run despite his moral objections to the man, are left to stand on their own, without condemnation or excuse.

One criticism I read of the book was that it didn’t give a very good overview of the time period. If you want to know everything that happened to Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War, for instance, this book will tell you all about it. If you were hoping for an explanation of what exactly prompted the war, it’s a little more vague.

This is true enough, but my rebuttal would be that this is Roosevelt’s biography, not a history of the Spanish-American War. If that’s what you want, I’m sure there are books out there for you. Also, I think reading about Roosevelt’s political battles did leave me with a pretty good understanding of expansionism and what the political climate of the time was and how this all erupted into fighting in Cuba.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you start about 150 pages in, it might even rate a full five.

News of the World

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd makes a living by travelling through the small towns of Texas, reading newspapers to audiences for a dime a person. It took me a little while to get my head wrapped around this, considering our news-saturated world, but in 1870 many people couldn’t read and those who could often had difficulty getting their hands on a paper. So it makes sense.

Captain Kidd is a great character. At 71, he really is getting too old for this, but that doesn’t stop him from agreeing to take Johanna Leonburger back to her family after she is rescued from the Kiowa raiders who killed her family and kidnapped the girl four years ago. Kidd doesn’t exactly have a destination, so taking a 400-mile detour isn’t that big of a problem. Corrupt officials, road bandits and Indian raiders make the journey a little more interesting, but I get the impression there’s nowhere really safe to travel in Texas.

The bigger problem is that Johanna never wanted to be “rescued” from her new family, isn’t thrilled to be delivered to an aunt and uncle she doesn’t remember, and has forgotten all but a handful of English and German words. Somehow, despite all this, she and Kidd bond beautifully on their journey south.

I’ve never read any of Paulette Jiles’ books before this, so I don’t know if she habitually refuses to use quotation marks, but the dialogue did throw me off for a bit. Usually I absolutely hate when authors do things like this, but the story flowed so smoothly I ended up adjusting to it quickly. There’s an odd style to the story that I don’t know how to describe, except that a bunch of unconnected details somehow weave together to form a coherent picture of Texas. I would not try to write like this, nor would I recommend anyone else attempt it either, but Jiles makes it work.

This book sort of reminded me of A Man Called Ove. Captain Kidd is a likable and admirable character who does what needs done and doesn’t complain about it. His relationship with a bloodthirsty little savage who starts to call him grandfather is absolutely perfect. (I would call it heart-warming, but that doesn’t usually apply in situations where a little girl needs to be told that she can’t scalp people.)

The more I think about this book, the more I like it. Everything about it so understated and subtle that the full power of the story is sort of elusive. The more I try to nail it down, the more it slips through my fingers, but one thing I can state definitely is that this book deserves a full five stars.

Dear Fahrenheit 451

Annie Spence’s collection of letter to books might be considered strange to some people, but anyone who loves to read will understand it perfectly. There are books you love, books you hate, and books you’ve simply drifted away from over the years. Spence addresses them all as she encounters books in the stacks at her library, in her personal collection, and in strangers’ houses as she tags along to parties.

Spence’s sense of humor runs along the same lines as mine, meaning I really enjoyed her snarky jokes. I feel like I am, in every way, the target audience for this book. Also, I’m considering going back to school for my Library Science degree, and Spence really makes me want to follow through on that, if for no other reason than to shout “I dispense information to the masses!”

There are things I didn’t love about the book. There are a few spoilers thrown in here and there, mostly minor ones, and probably for books you’ve already read, but still. It’s the principle, Spence. You’ve gotta warn people about things like that.

The second thing, which is in no way Spence’s fault, is that I get the sense that our taste in books is just different enough that I’m not sure how applicable her recommendations are to me. That’s not to say that I didn’t find my fair share of titles to add to my to-read list, but I’m a little uncertain of how they’re going to turn out for me.

I’d give this book a very solid four out of five stars. It misses out on five mostly because, as much as I enjoyed reading it, I don’t think it will be as enjoyable the second time around.

Reading People

Anne Bogel’s book on personalities is an excellent book to read at the beginning of the year. It motivated me to be a better version of myself, and should also give you some insight into your own brain to make unlocking that better version easier. Understanding your personality type means a lot more than figuring out which Harry Potter character you are. It means understanding why you act and react the way you do. Once you see what’s happening, you’ll be better equipped to modify behavior you don’t like and also become more understanding of yourself and the people around you. If you have New Year’s resolutions you’re hoping to stick to, this book might help you figure out what is most likely to work for you.

I found this book interesting, though not life-changing. Part of that is, I think I know myself pretty well. I understand my strengths and weaknesses, and I think I’ve accounted for them reasonably well. If you don’t understand yourself, this book might help point you in the right direction. Even if you don’t like what you learn, remember, it’s not your fault that you’re wired the way you are. and there are no “bad” personality types, though society does tend to value some over others.

What this book really did for me was make me more understanding of others. In particular, I don’t see eye to eye with some of my fellow Governing Board members at my church. While reading through the different cognitive functions in chapter 7, some of them jumped out at me. “Ah! That’s Steve!” (His name’s not really Steve.) And even though I still don’t agree with him, I now understand that he is thinking the way he is wired. It’s not his fault, and it’s not a bad thing. It’s just not how I work.

Bogel makes the argument, and I agree with her, that a diverse group is a strong group. So wherever you work with people, on the job, in the community, at home, we all bring different perspectives to the table, and we’ll work better together once we understand and appreciate how those different perspectives work.

She did sort of lose me in the last two chapters. I think that’s largely because the frameworks she covers throughout the book gradually became more complex and less familiar to me. This is only intended to be a brief overview of the frameworks that she has found most useful. She includes suggestions for further reading if you want to really did into any of them.

I’d give this book four out of five stars. I found it pretty useful. You probably will to, and even if you don’t, it will still be well written and interesting.

P.S. Anne Bogel runs a blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, which covers all sorts of topics, including book recommendations. It’s worth checking out.

Annual 2017 Book Review

Happy New Year! I’ve got a long list of books to work through for 2018, but first my sister and I started a lovely little tradition we are calling the Annual 2017 Book Review. We chose 5 categories and each came with our picks from the books we read this past year.

Side note: this would not have been possible without Goodreads. This is the first year I really tracked my reading, and I highly recommend it. Goodreads is what I use, but there are other apps out there, or you could use an Excel spreadsheet, or there’s this quaint little thing called a notebook that I hear works well. Whatever you use, I think tracking your reading is an excellent 2018 resolution.

On to the categories!

Most Surprising

Are’s Pick: Where the Light Falls by Allison and Owen Pataki
This is the historical novel of the French Revolution that I highly recommended. My sister wouldn’t have read it if I hadn’t gotten it for her, but once she did she liked it more than she thought she would and, as she said, found herself thinking about it after she read it, which I always think is a mark of an excellent book.

Michele’s Pick: A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
I picked this book for almost the exact same reasons my sister picked hers. She got it first, told me I simply had to read it, and even though I hate taking orders from my sister, I’m glad I followed this one. I never would have picked it on my own, but it was one of the best books I read this year. If there had been a Most Heartwarming category, we both agreed this would have won hands down.

Most Disappointing

We actually spent more time on this category than any other, and even though we left it as one big group, I’m going to break this into two sub-groups, the first simply being the Most Disappointing.

Are’s Pick: The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis
I didn’t read this book, and after my sister’s review of it, I doubt I ever will. The main character is apparently trying to give his little sister a better life than he ever had, but he supposedly accomplishes this by being in the most dysfunctional relationship imaginable and then (SPOILER ALERT) committing suicide right in front of his sister and his girlfriend. In my sister’s words: “A truly awful book.”

Michele’s Pick: The Regional Office Is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
So I cheated and had two picks for this category, but they’re both here for the same reason. I actually liked both of these books, but I thought they were going to be fun reads, and they weren’t. I enjoyed reading them, for the most part, but not for the reasons I thought I would and I was disappointed in the lack of fun in both of them. Gonzales’ book started out much more serious than I thought it would be, but Brown’s beginning was just as much fun as I thought it would be before taking a serious and, for me, very unexpected turn in tone towards the end.

So Disappointing I Didn’t Even Finish

We talked about making this the name of the Most Disappointing category, and even though we didn’t, I’m still going to include it here.

Are’s Pick: Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston
This book is about a rumored lost city deep in the Honduran interior surrounded by legends and mystery. And the best part is, it’s non-fiction. But somehow Preston takes what should be one of the most fascinating journeys ever and makes it boring. His biggest problem is an excessive use of detail. My sister got so bogged down in the minute descriptions of the rainforest flora and fauna she never made it the rest of the way through.

Michele’s Pick: The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer
Once again proving that my sister and I share a hive mind, I picked a different book for the exact same reasons for this category. Just look at that title. This is the true story of how the librarians of Timbuktu smuggled rare Islamic manuscripts out of the city before Al Qaeda could destroy them. I wanted so badly to love this book. And I couldn’t even finish it. Like Preston, Hammer goes into way too much detail, especially about the origins of the manuscripts. I just wasn’t following a lot of it, and I really don’t think I’m the only one. So close but so, so far.

Best Non-Fiction

Are’s Pick: Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence
Annie Spence is a librarian who has written a collection of letters to the books in her library. Some of the are breakup letters, some are love letters, they’re all pretty fantastic. At least of the ones my sister read out loud to me between chuckles. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s very high on my to-read list, and I suggest you put it on yours too. The best part? It will furnish many more titles to add to your to-read list, though if you’re anything like us, that’s not usually a problem for you.

Michele’s Pick: The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Etymology is endlessly fascinating to me, and this book could not have delivered better. Even though I read it at the very beginning of 2017, it remained at the top of my list for the entire year. If you ever wonder how this crazy language of ours became what it is, this is the book for you.

Funniest

By unanimous vote: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Despite some other strong contenders, we both agreed that Stevenson’s graphic novel reigns supreme here. The story of Ballister Blackheart and his demented little sidekick took a lot of unexpected turns, but it remained solidly entertaining the whole time. It is a bit violent, but my sister and I both have rather dark senses of humor, so it appealed to us.

Best Book of the Year

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
Funny, heartwarming, thought-provoking, relatable, this book didn’t quite reach my very favorite of the year, but it was in the running and I certainly understand why my sister placed it here. It has reached new prominence with the release of the movie based on it, which I think is a very good thing. Everyone should read this book.

Michele’s Pick: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
I cannot articulate how much I liked this book. I told my sister I’m not sure what I love so much about this book, to which she replied, “Everything,” and that’s pretty accurate. I realize not everyone loves the classics as much as I do, but you just might after reading this book. It’s fantastic, and you need to go read it.

Honorable Mention

These are for those books that didn’t quite make it into one of the categories, but should have if the competition wasn’t so tight.

Are’s Pick: The Passage by Justin Cronin
This is the first book in a trilogy about the end of the world, via a virus that turns people into zombies. Zombies aren’t really my thing, so I don’t see myself reading these books, but my sister loved them.

Michele’s Pick: I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris.
This should have been the funniest book, and for most people it would have been, but Nimona’s dark edge played just a little more to my tastes. It also could have been the most unexpected, as I don’t usually enjoy poetry this much, but I thought Ove deserved the top spot rather than an Honorable Mention. Of course, Nimona was also unexpected because I don’t usually like graphic novels either. So this was a really tough choice for me and even though Harris got bumped down here, it’s still one of the very best books I’ve read in the past several years, and I recommend it very highly.

So that’s 2017 in a nutshell for us. What do you think of our picks? Love them? Hate them? Have your own books you want to put into the categories? Have any category suggestions you think need to be included? I’d love to hear all this and more in the comments!

I Guess I’m An Immature Grown-Up

Chris Harris’s book of poems, I’m Just No Good at Rhyming, is specifically for “mischievous kids and immature grown-ups.” And I absolutely loved it. If it means I get to enjoy masterpieces like this, I will happily own the title of immature.

Harris put together an excellent mix of poems for all ages. Some of them are the type of sheer ridiculousness that will have kids howling. Others contain more subtle jokes adults will find hilarious. As with any collection, I didn’t love all of them, but it was pretty darn close.

My favorites (it was a hard choice, but if I had to choose) were “I’m Just No Good At Rhyming” and “Two Roads.” I really liked “Rhyming” because it’s my favorite kind of poetry. There are lots of ways to make words dance along in a poem without making them rhyme, and I’m glad he took a whole poem to point that out. And I loved “Two Roads” because it’s a really funny joke involving one of the most popular poems out there.

Lots of people are comparing this book to Shel Silverstein’s works. I suppose it’s apt, except I was never that big a fan of Silverstein (sorry Shel!) and I loved this book, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

One of the things I most appreciated about this book was the number of times Harris inserted a more profound message into a poem without ever killing the mood. When you’re done laughing, you’ll realize that there’s some good food for thought in there.

While I’m gushing over Harris, it’s only fair to take some time out to acknowledge the brilliance of Lane Smith, the illustrator. The drawings complement the poems perfectly, and there’s some excellent back-and-forth between the two minds behind this project.

As a final note, take some time to read through everything. The front cover, author’s note, acknowledgements…everything is entertaining. I actually think the acknowledgements were my favorite part of the book.

If you’ve read it, how long did it take you to figure out what was going on with the page numbers? It took me far longer than it should have.

Five out of five stars. Read this book and then badger everyone you know to do the same.

One Dark Throne

At the end of my review for Three Dark Crowns I said that I didn’t have any idea what direction Kendare Blake might be taking this book. And I was right, I had no idea. This book took a lot of unexpected turns on me, and I don’t even know how it did that when I had no expectations. I kind of feel like I just got off a roller coaster. And man, what a ride.

Blake does an excellent job of keeping the stakes high by making all three sisters sympathetic, but you’re still going to have your favorite. In the first book, Mirabella was mine. Her sisters are all prepared to kill or die and she just wants everyone to get along. But somehow manages to not sound whiny or schmaltzy about it.

In One Dark Crown, I think Arsinoe stole favorite status for me. She just seems so much more proactive and independent in this one. She’s still dabbling in her low magic, which seems to have been a pretty bad idea in the last book, but it’s surprisingly working for her. And I thought her scenes with Mirabella were gold.

Side note: does anyone understand the bear? How did it go from wild rampaging beast at the Quickening to more or less tame familiar? I know Arsinoe did another spell to bind it, but I still feel like that whole issue resolved itself rather inexplicably.

I felt really bad for Katherine in the first book. Her childhood sounds awful. And I still kind of feel bad for her after the second book. It’s not her fault she got thrown into a pit and now has dead queens urging her on to vengeance. But she’s taken it a little too far. Whatever else happens in book three, I think we can all agree that Katherine needs to be taken down. Hopefully not in a permanent way, but seriously. She’s out of control.

As far as who I think should ultimately end up on the throne, it’s pretty obvious, right? Jules should definitely be queen. She is far more qualified than any of the triplets. I’m not even talking about her insanely powerful magic. Jules just has a better grasp on things. If Fennbirn would get rid of this ridiculous death match system and put the monarchy to a vote, I would stuff the ballot box for Jules.

Speaking of ridiculous systems, what exactly are the queens’ qualifications? Other than being born queens, obviously. As far as I can tell, they’ve spent the past ten years learning how to kill each other. Do they get any type of training that would help them actually rule a kingdom? Is this a deliberate choice so that the foster families get to be the real power behind the throne? Or does everyone just figure that there will plenty of time to figure out how to be a queen once your sisters aren’t trying to kill you?

I thought this was one of those books that sucks you in and makes you love it, but once you finish reading and start thinking about it, holes start to emerge. I would have rated this at 4 out of 5, but since putting it down it has fallen to 3 stars. Mostly because of the ending, which is action packed but also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, so let’s talk about that.

SPOILER WARNING: As I said, I want to talk about the end of the book now, which should have clued you in about the spoilers, but just in case you missed that, SPOILERS AHEAD!

I thought the climax of the book was rolling along spectacularly. Arsinoe and Mirabella locked in the cell together, Katherine forcing Arsinoe to eat poison, now knowing it wouldn’t affect her, (If they were switched at birth, does that make Katherine a naturalist? I think she is.) Arsinoe needing to coach Mirabella on fake crying, it was all great. But then they get on the boat.

I can completely understand their desire to leave this island behind and just try again on the continent. It’s not like they haven’t both had this thought before. I did think it was a little unfair that Mirabella had to leave everyone behind without even saying goodbye when Arsinoe got to take her retinue, but that didn’t last long. But how did they leave? Was having the two sisters together the key? Is Mirabella really that powerful? Did the island not care that they left because Katherine had already been crowned? Hopefully this will get explained a little better in the third book.

Joseph dying was weird. I mean, does anyone really like him? Objectively, he has a tragic story. He’s exiled from his home, finally gets to return only to have one of his best friends accidentally put a love spell on him that makes him cheat on Jules, and then patches things up with her just to die, once again trying to leave the island. It’s like his whole life is just one big sad cycle of alternately trying to get away from or back to Fennbirn. But somehow in execution his character just came off as weak and useless. Did Kendare Blake realize this and decide to just get rid of him?

It’s not his death that doesn’t make sense so much as Jules’ reaction to it. After this big debate about whether she should leave the island or not, she dramatically declares that she isn’t going to leave her friends, even if they all end up drowning fifteen minutes later. Then, as soon as they get clear of the island, she immediately changes her mind. She leaves the best friend she has devoted her life to without a backward glance, hops in a boat with her cat, leaving the body of the boy she has loved for her entire life behind, and the only real mention of any of this is a casual, “you guys will take care of that, right?”

Jules is my favorite character (in case I haven’t made that clear already) and I’m happy she’ll be on the island in book three to be part of clearing up that whole messed up situation, but seriously. What is she doing in this scene?

I suppose the best answer to that question is that she is acting like a sixteen year old girl. Moments like this make me think I might be getting too old to read Young Adult books. Because seriously, what are Mirabella and Arsinoe’s foster parents doing? It’s a good thing they have Jules and Bree (and Elizabeth) because everyone else is useless.

So, in conclusion, I liked the book, despite it’s weak points. Objectively, it’s a three star book, but I’m still looking forward to the next one to find out what happens with all these crazy kids.

 

 

The Shadow Queen

I thought I was over my fairy tale retelling phase, or at least on break from it, but clearly I’m not, because I devoured C. J. Redwine’s The Shadow Queen, a fantastic twist on Snow White. I loved it so much that I read it while out of town for work, carving out moments to read that really would have been better spent sleeping. But who needs sleep when you have books?

Lorelai, the princess-turned-fugitive, is on the run with her brother and her mentor, dreaming of taking back her throne someday while really just trying not to be killed. For fans of Once Upon A Time, you’ll find many similarities between this version of Snow White and the Snow we meet in the flashbacks of season 1. Despite Lorelai’s growing powers, she hesitates to actually confront her wicked stepmother, Irina, since the last time she did that people died.

Prince Kol, from the neighboring kingdom, is just about Lorelai’s opposite. While she can’t claim the throne she wants, he is forced to accept the throne he never thought would be his. Despite his people’s shape-changing abilities, they are powerless against the invading ogres. His search for allies leads him to Ravenspire. There he ends up stuck between Lorelai and Irina, trying to do the right thing despite powerful magic compelling him to do otherwise.

Things I liked about this book: a good, workable system for magic. As I noted in my review of Uprooted, it can be hard to put magic into your story without it becoming an automatic solution to everybody’s problems. Redwine finds a system that allows her characters to accomplish fantastic things, but not without a price. (That just begs for another OUAT reference, but I’ll resist.)

Another strong point: excellent character development. This is particularly true of Kol. Lorelia doesn’t change her character so much as just become more confident in her abilities as they’re tested. Kol becomes the leader he needs to be. His willingness to make sacrifices was, I would argue, always part of his character, but the way in which those sacrifices shape him make for a compelling arc.

On the flip side: Irina’s character does not make a lot of sense. What is it that she wants, exactly? Power? That makes sense and fits with the story. But there’s a weird push to make her seem slightly more sympathetic (at least that’s how it read to me) by making her crave love and acceptance. But then she sabotages any chance she has at happiness by grasping for more power. I suppose this could be tragic, and not an uncommon choice for villains, but something about this particular case didn’t fit well. Maybe because the choice between power and happiness is usually more subtle and this was pretty darn blatant.

Despite this weakness, I would still rate this 4 out of 5. A badass princess, a prince who can turn into a dragon, and a great connection between the two. Really, what else could you want?