Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Title: The Lost Hero
Author: Rick Riordan
Series: Heroes of Olympus #1
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Date of Publication: Oct. 12, 2010
Pages: 557 (Hardcover)
To Buy:


After saving Olympus from the titan lord, Kronos, Percy Jackson and his friends must rebuild Camp Half-Blood. But the danger is far from over. Rachel, the camp's new Oracle, delivers a bone-chilling prophecy for the next generation of demigods:

Seven Half-bloods shall answer the call
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

Now, in the camp's darkest hour of need, Percy has gone missing, and three new demigods believed to be part of the chosen seven have emerged. Jason, Piper, and Leo, all students at the Wilderness school are attacked by a freak storm and brought to Camp Half-Blood. Now Jason, who doesn’t remember anything about his life, Piper, who’s nightmares reveal that her father’s been missing and is great danger, and Leo, who carries with him a dangerous secret, must try to find Hera, queen of the Gods in order to stop the new enemy that has emerged.


Fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will adore the The Lost Hero. Riordan has managed to continue his beloved series while completely putting a new spin on things. Though the adventure follows the traditional "Percy-Quest" pattern where the kids have only a few days to find something for the Gods and stop the world from imploding on itself (figuratively speaking, of course), it is significantly more complicated. Not only are there Greek gods and monsters, but now the demigods of Camp Half-Blood have the Roman equivalents of their parents to deal with in addition to other not-so-well know figures of myth such as Medea and the Roman wolves. I was wondering if Riordan was going to include them at some point, so I was thrilled to see that I could put the knowledge I gained in my Greek and Roman mythology class to good use. Though anybody will be able to pick up this book and understand the myths and legends referenced in the text, it helps to know a little bit about the original stories in order to really appreciate the significance of the details in the writing. Once again, Riordan has done an excellent job of keeping his facts straight, at least to the extent of my knowledge.

It was sort of surprising to see that this time around, Riordan decided to tell his story between three characters, and in the third person perspective instead of first. The chapters rotate in sets of two for each character and continuously move the plot forward. I loved it. Normally I get frustrated because when authors skip between characters, they have to go back in time, or reexplain what's going on in that particular character's life. But not Riordan! He doesn't bog down his chapters with going back in time. He revisits details, but only enough so the reader can understand how a particular character feels about a particular event. Speaking of characters, I also loved how balanced the three of them were! Pardon my language, but Jason kicks ass, Piper kicks ass, AND Leo kicks ass. The three of them together were a great team and its easy to tell that without one, the other two would not have succeeded in surviving their fist test. Personally, I found Piper and Leo’s stories much more interesting than Jason’s, even though he was supposed to be the “main” character and the real "lost" hero of the story. I think I felt this way because Jason’s memories were missing for most of the book and he is focused on trying to figure out who he is, so we don’t really get a sense of his whole personality. By the end of the book this changes, so I’m sure he’ll be more interesting in book two, which, excuse me for fangirling it, but OMG I cannot wait for. That's the downside of reading epic books from epic series. They take FOREVER to come out. Le sigh, next October can't come fast enough!


8/8 Tentacles

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Well, I’m thoroughly stuffed. After a full dinner and four slices of pie (don’t judge; you haven’t tried my mom’s pecan pie), I think I’m about ready to pass out. But before I do, I just want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I’m very thankful to have each and every one of you readers and followers out there. Talking with all of you has really been the highlight of my year, and, as cheesy as it sounds, without you I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I’ve learned so much about books, blogging, publishing, and networking that I’m amazed my head hasn’t exploded yet. I’ve made tons of friends, a super-spectacular stalker freind (*stares at Kristina*) and have finally found a place where I can talk about books without feeling like a total nerd. 2010 has been a great year so far, and I can’t wait to see what's in store for the rest of the year.

In addition to being thankful for all of you, I'm also thankful that the following people are in my life:

I’m thankful for my mom and dad: They have always been there for me, and I know as I continue down the winding path of life they will continue to support my unhealthy obsession love for books. My mom even told me to “forget” about spending money on a Kindle because Santa “might” bring me a Kindle this year if I’m a good little girl.

I’m thankful for my brother, Ben: Though we’ve sort of been at each other’s throats this year, I’m thankful to know that he’s there to talk to about wrestling with bears and Toy Story 3. I didn’t realize how much I missed him before he left this August to attend college in Montana, and am very proud of the man he’s becoming. Not to mention that he is also surprisingly supportive of my blog. He rarely reads, so to know that he’s curious about how many reviews I post, who I talk to, etc. is great. I’m also thankful for the fraternity brothers he’s made friends with, because they’ve helped him mature miles these last few months.

I’m thankful for my two best friends: They make life fun and inspire me to become a better person. ‘Nuff said. Who else will go with me to a midnight showing of Disney’s Tangled (Allie, ILU, and Happy Birthday...for like the 10,000th time!), or be willing to go to four different bookstores in one night (Kori, I've finally started reading the Dresden Files!)? The bottom line is that they're awesome, and someday the three of us are going to be starving artists in New York.

Also, for sort of an odd twist, I'm thankful for J.K. Rowling and all of the video production people that worked on the Harry Potter movies: After seeing HP and the Deathly Hallows this week, I finally realize and can appreciate how much HP has impacted my childhood. Though I'm excited for the last movie to come out this summer, I'm also sad that its going to be over. I’ve stuck with the series since the beginning, and will always remember waiting for my acceptance letter on my 11th birthday. Though I never received that letter (le cry), may that kind of magic never leave this world.

I could probably list another 10 or 20 people, including the professors that I pay to inspire new ideas and thoughts in my head, but I'm starting to slip into a food-induced coma. Just know that I love you guys. So what are you thankful for? Post a comment and the link to your blog and I’ll check it out over the weekend! And now, a lulzy turkey picture to make your night:


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Interview with Tony Bertauski

Good day to you, lords and ladies! Please join me in warmly welcoming a good friend of mine, Tony Bertauski, author of The Socket Series!

What was your inspiration for writing the Socket Series?

I can’t get my daughter to stop reading. My son, though, he hates to read. I mean haaaaaaaate. When they were younger, I wrote some stories just for them. It became a project where we would come up with characters and a plot. My daughter loved it. My son, he hated it even more than reading. I eventually dropped it, but continued Socket on my own. He was just a compelling character that wouldn’t leave my head.

How did you come up with the new pieces/forms of technology that appear in the story?

Most of the technological elements in the story are extensions of things we already have. Think about it, how long before the whole phone concept is just integr

ated into our nervous system so that we see, feel and hear it? I don’t feel like anything is a stretch, really. I wanted everything to have some plausible element to it, like Yeah, that could happen. Many of the things I utilize are, to some degree, already in existence. There’s talk of nanobots that imitate blood cells, of technology that can record our entire lives, of back-reflecting gear that make things seem invisible.

Accepting who you are and friendship seem to be major themes in your book. Did you have a specific message you wanted to send to the readers?

I think I found Socket so compelling because of my own personal history. I’ve been practicing Zen for the past twentysome years. Before that, life didn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, something many people can relate to. Especially teenagers. I wanted Socket to be entertaining, but most of all I wanted it to contain some elements of the human struggle and the spiritual journey it contains. Lastly, I wanted it to be an attractive story to reluctant readers, especially boys, so it’s quick-paced, gritty, and real (hence, the cursing).

One of the themes apparent in books 2 and 3 is where does technology cross the line? At some point, if we have the ability to start repla

cing our body parts and blood cells with technology, to enhance our mind’s ability to analyze and remember, then when do we become just an imitation of our true selves? And if we’re able to manipulate our environment, our bodies and minds to do whatever we want, then who decides what we should be and what we should have? Our thoughts? Is our species enlightened enough to make those decisions?

Ultimately, Socket Greeny begs the timeless question: Who am I? And do I matter?

Do you wish you could stop time or read people's thoughts?

No. Noooo, no, no. Socrates once said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” I’m not far enough along in the human journey to accept that kind of power. I’m not sure anyone is.

What was your favorite part to write in The Discovery of Socket Greeny?

I’ve often compared writing to the joy of reading, only with writing you control the plot and the characters and you feel them, celebrate with them and mourn with them at a much deeper level. The great writers are able to take that story out of their heads and convey those emotions to the reader. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following Socket through the last couple of years. And it’s nice when readers can come along for the ride and experience it at some level, too.

What was the most difficult part about writing The Discovery of Socket Greeny?

For me, learning how to write. My first several drafts, in hindsight, were horrible. Over the years, I’ve gotten better through study, editorial assistance and practice, but it’s always hard to judge whether the writing is any good. Even if someone likes it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s well-written.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. (This can be anything, from how long your write each time you sit down to work to what you like to drink when writing)

I’ve heard it explained there are two schools of fiction writers: those that use an outline and those that let the blank page lead them. Honestly, I can’t imagine writing with a blank page ahead of me. I start with an outline of where the story should start and end. Sometimes the details are very hazy, but at least I know where the story is going. In most cases, it turns in one direction or another before I get through the outline, but it works for me.

With time, I’ve learned to trust a subtle instinct when I write, something that tells me it’s not going in the right direction. That’s when I stop. Sometimes a new direction comes to me in a few days or weeks, but I know it when I feel it. Sometimes the words or scenes just unfold in my head on their own, like they just needed time to work themselves out. My wife can tell when I’m “writing” in my head, whether we’re eating or going for a walk. I guess something of a zombie look comes over me.

I can only write for a couple hours at a time. I don’t have the stamina of a Stephen King. After awhile, I start rushing the scenes and it becomes frustrating and poorly written. Usually, I need the house to be empty to really enjoy it, and that’s not often. Writing is a lonely business and can feel isolating to family, so I keep it in perspective.

Did you learn anything while writing? (Research related, about yourself, writing style, etc.)

The best thing about writing is learning how to handle rejection and criticism. It’s a great mode of personal growth. Any creative expression requires growth. Sometimes it’s hard not to take personally, but it’s the most important aspect to writing. The best feedback is usually the hardest to hear.

I think my strength as a writer is my voice. I’m not always the most articulate. I like it to feel real. That’s why my characters curse. High school kids don’t call each other poopyheads and fart-smellers. At least not where I grew up. I get why authors like Neal Shusterman write clean. His books are for middle-grade and YA. If he cut the language loose, he’d lose ½ his audience. I get that. I’ve always respected authors that write with honesty. I don’t pay my bills with my writing, so I can afford to call an asshole an asshole.

Did you have a favorite sci-fi series as a kid? Do you have a favorite sci-fi series now? (TV or book)

I grew up reading my grandfather’s endless shelves of science fiction. While I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore sci-fi guy, I’ve always found that genre more appealing than anything else. Dune was a fantastic journey. And movies like Blade Runner and The Matrix exemplify my fascination with intelligence and the human soul.

If you could go back and change anything about your book, what would you go back and change?

As more people read it, I start to see patterns in their experience that highlight the weak points in the book. The hardest thing about writing is that you have the story in your head and you are never, ever afforded the luxury of the beginner’s experience. As the author, you already know all the details so you completely lose the reader’s perspective.

What are you working on now?

I’ve had a novella lurking around my skull for quite some time featuring a character named Drayton, which is a new twist on a compassionate sort of “vampire” thing. It’s not really YA, though, given some of the graphic scenes. Lately, I’ve been spending time writing memoirs (not meant to be released to anyone) and finishing The Legend of Socket Greeny, the last book in the trilogy. I’m looking forward to having the Socket story complete since it’s been in the works for so many years.

Thanks a lot, Tony! For more information about Tony and his work, please visit his webpage at Also, for more information about the first book in The Socket Series, please check out my review.

In My Mailbox! (1)


Whoooooo, I've decided that for the first time ever that I'm going to participate in the In My Mailbox! IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. The idea is to post what books you got this week, be they a gift, prize, from a bookstore, from the library, or from a publisher to review. The idea is intended to let other people know what books are on your radar and encourage blogger interaction. :3

Haha, it figures that the first week I decide to participate I actually don't get any books in the mail. But I did go to the library to renew my card, after which I went crazy and picked up these books:

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Mississippi Jack and My Bonny Light Horseman
(Both part of the Jacky Faber/Bloody Jack series)
by L.A. Meyer

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Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce and Parsifal's Page by Gerald Morris

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The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

And last, but not least:


The Agency by Y.S. Lee

I'm excited to read all of them, especially the Jacky Faber books. I've been looking for them for a while now. What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Follow Friday (3) & Book Blogger Hop (4)

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at the Parajunkee's View. Every week, book bloggers have a chance to connect and check out each other's blogs. Check it out to sign up and participate, or just check it out to check out some great blogs! This is my third week participating. This week's question:

How long have you been book blogging?

I started book blogging back in...July? Wow, it doesn't feel like it's been 5 months! However, I still feel like I'm new to the book blogging scene because I don't participate in a lot of they other popular memes, such as Waiting on Wed. Hm...Maybe I should start? :P

Book Blogger Hop

And if you do one Follow meme, why not do two? The more the merrier! This is my Fourth Book Blogger Hop.

The Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. Like Follow Friday, It's a place for book bloggers to connect, and "hop" from one another's blogs to get to know each other. Check it out to sign up and participate! Even if your blog doesn't get listed this week, you can view other people's blogs and make some friends. :P In addition, Jennifer also asks a question to kick off the conversations. This week's question:

Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our holiday traditions are!

Oh man, where to start? I'm really thankful for my family, friends, the fact that I have a working computer (which, without it, I wouldn't be able to post this), a promising pile of TBR books on my shelf...Really, pretty much everything that is in my life right now I'm thankful for. As for Thanksgiving traditions, I don't really have any. My parents are divorced, so I've always spent half of Thanksgiving at one house, and half of it at the other. We always do something different too. One year, my dad took us up north to have a fancy lobster dinner. Another, we went to the movies. Another, we stayed at home and built rocket ships with Legos. So I guess the tradition is in not having one? Either way its fun.

What about you guys? To all of you returning visitors, thanks again for stopping by my blog, and to all you new visitors, welcome! If you leave a link to your website I'll be sure to check it out when I get home from classes today. Until then, happy Friday!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title: Angelfire*
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Series: Angelfire #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date of Publication: Feb. 15, 2011
Pages: 464 (Hardcover)
To Pre-Order:


When 17-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers--monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell--a boy named Will shows up and reveals that she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen, and a powerful reaper named Bastian has come forward to challenge her. Ellie and Will discover that Bastian is searching for a creature that completely destroys souls, and plans to use it as a weapon to begin the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul. Now, Ellie must quickly relearn to use her powers and uncover the secrets of her past to stop Bastian before it's too late.


To me, the strength of this novel was in the background and history of the supernatural war. Christian and Sumerian myths blend well to create an action-packed adventure where good is constantly keeping the forces of evil at bay, and the role that Ellie and Will play in it is really interesting. Though it's not entirely clear by the end of the novel what they have to do to stop the reapers, its clear that whatever they do have to do is going to be big, which makes the mystery all the more intriguing. In addition, Every few chapters there's an intense and violent fight scene, so creatively choreographed that even Tom Cruise would be impressed. They bring an element of real danger to the story, and were just plain fun to read.

Even though for a break out novel, Angelfire is pretty good, I had some issues with Ellie and Will. At first, Ellie comes across as pretty spoiled and unfocused. For her sixteenth birthday, she receives a brand new Audi, yes, BRAND NEW (which of course, gets totaled by the reapers hunting her), and spends a lot of time shopping for expensive dresses and drinking with her friends. Though she acted and sounded like a regular high schooler, it isn't until Will shows up and her memories start returning that we get a deeper sense of who she really is. Then she becomes an interesting character. As for Will, he himself is sort of confusing. He's stoic, calm, cares deeply for Ellie, and always seems to say the right thing (read: too perfect). But you'd think that Will, who has been Ellie's guardian for centuries (she gets reincarnated every time she dies), would be more rehearsed in what to say to get Ellie to remember who she is and convince her that she has a job to do. Instead, they just end up bickering a lot, which made me feel like they were strangers just getting to know each other for the very first time. Eventually, the bickering turns into flirting, which then turns into romance, but its not until the very end.

With an all-out war between heaven and hell approaching, I'll probably read the second book in the series. Moulton has creatively set up the pieces, so to speak, and I can't help but wonder what's in store for Ellie and Will and the fate of the world. I just hope that the characterization gets a bit better in the second installment.


5/8 Tentacles

*A copy of this book was provided by and downloaded from NetGalley. Thanks a bunch, guys!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kierstan White
Series: Paranormalcy #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 335 (Hardcover)
Age: +13
To Buy:


Evie's always though of herself as normal. Sure, she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her best friend is a mermaid, she's being stalked by a faerie, and she's the only person who can see through the paranormals' glamours, but still. She's just your average 16-year-old girl. Yup. Totally normal.

But now, paranormals are dying. Foul play is suspected, but nobody seems to be able to see any evidence that proves it. Well, nobody except Evie. She's been having dreams filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies, and quickly realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and deaths happening all around her. Not only that, but she may be the subject of a dark faerie prophecy promising war on the rest of all paranormal creatures. Now Evie must work with the paranormals she had worked to contain in order to stop the murders from happening.


Oh bleep, I honestly don't know where to begin. I could gush about this book for hours, even though I wasn't exactly sure what to expect when I first picked it up. I usually have mixed feelings about urban fantasy novels due to the abundance of cookie-cutter whiny characters that seem to show up within the pages, but I absolutely adored Evie and the supporting characters in this book. Evie was hilarious! Every one of her lines is filled with a touch of wit, and I loved the fact that despite the un-normalcy of her life she tries to act like a regular teenage girl: she loves wearing crazy clothes, she freaks out if she misses an episode of her favorite TV show, and she wonders when she'll get her first kiss as she backhands vampires. All of this adds up to a sassy strong and endearing character with a refreshingly original story without the angst.

In addition, the romance in this novel was adorable. Lend (the love interest) is an endearing character as well, with unique powers and a mellow personality that compliments Evie's. He shows up early on in the book, after failing to successfully break into the International Paranormal Containment Agency. When caught and locked up, he and Evie become fast friends after recognizing that they have a mutual curiosity for one another. We get to see their relationship progress naturally throughout the entire book, and White really takes the time to make them get to know each other before they become a couple. I hate it when characters jump into a relationship because they fall in love at first sight, even though they know absolutely nothing about each other. Though we all wish that we could be Disney Princesses, really, how often does it happen in real life? Marriage after 48 hours is not that cool.

But I digress.

The concept of working with a global secret society was really cool too, and is something I haven't seen in YA urban fantasy (yet, anyway). Though we don't get to see everything that the organization does, the part of the department that we do see is well described and detailed. The technology used to contain the paranormals was grounded enough in reality so that it was easy to visualize. For example, Evie carries around a pink rhinestone tazer. Easy to picture, no? The paranormal creatures also leaned more towards the traditional side of mythology and legend, which was sort of relief when one considers the flood of literature that likes to "spice things up" when it comes to the paranormal. Vampires don't sparkle, and werewolves just turn into monsters during the full moon. In a way, probably due to Evie's snarky comments, I felt like Paranormalcy was subtly making fun of the flood of crazy paranormal characters while fully participating in the genre. If wrong, then I give Kiersten White permission to smack me silly.

Anyway, the book ends on a sugary-sweet note, but left me wanting more. With a prophecy to address and a rouge faerie to find, I'm sad that I have to wait until next October for the second book. I swear, this has been one of the best books I've read all year.


8/8 Tentacles

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Discovery of Socket Greeny by Tony Bertauski

Title: Discovery of Socket Greeny*
Author: Tony Bertauski
Series: The Socket Series #1
Publisher: Bertauski
Pages: 282 (paperback)
Age: 13+


16-year-old Socket Greeny and his friends spend most of their time in virtualmode, the futuristic equivalent of World of Warcraft. One day, when they decide to hop online during school, they are ambushed and something unexpected happens; Socket dies. In between the Rift and reality, a hazy shadow appears before him, announcing that his powers have been awakened. When he wakes up in the real world, Socket learns that he is no ordinary boy. He actually has the powers of a Paladin--a mentally advanced member of a secret society dedicated to protecting the human race. Now with the ability to stop time and read thoughts, Socket's mother takes him underground to be monitored and trained. There, he discovers a world of wormholes, robots, and unusual creatues that he never believed existed beyond his wildest dreams, and it is there that he learns that a war is approaching. Clones are planning to escape virtualmode and take over reality. With the help of his new powers and his best friends, Chute and Streeter, Socket knows that he is the only one who can prevent them from escaping the digital world.


Bertauksi starts out the first book in his series strong, immediately throwing Socket into life-changing digital mayhem within the first chapter. Though it grabbed my attention, in a sense it was a bit too strong. There is no opprotunity to see the depth of Socket's friendship with his two best friends, and as a result, they just become names that Socket misses when he is taken underground and studied by the Paladin Agency. This is sort of a shame because Chute and Streeter play an enormous role towards the end of the book. Socket himself is a very likeable character. He curses quite a bit, but the salty languge only works to create a more authentic character. He thinks, feels, and acts like a high school kid with a chip on his shoulder, but not to the point where he is annoying.

The middle of the book (when Socket is taken underground) is met with lots of cool new technology and fantastical elements. In a way, Bertauski has blended elements of everyone's favorite sci-fi flicks to create this futuristic Paladin-protected world. We get wormholes, computer-like wrist watches, robots with artificial intelligence, virtual realities, hoverboards, and then some! Sci-fi geeks and non-geeks alike will have no trouble keeping up with the new terminology and technological concepts because most of them are well described or are grounded enough in today's technology that they don't need to be described to death.

The story doesn't really pick up until the middle of the book, but when it does, boy does it pick up. Once Socket is released from Paladin custody, I could not put this book down. Socket's friends come back in a series of action-packed scenes that would not only make Tom Cruise geen with envy, but show a genuine friendship between the three that was not shown us before in the beginning of the book. Seriously, you can't get anymore extreme then fighting giagantic robotic spiders trapped in a virtual RPG world.

Overall, the book ends on a great note. This was probably the best sci-fi/cyberpunk story that I've read in a long time, regardless of my complaints about the beginning. I really can't wait to start reading the second book in the series!


5/8 Tentacles
*Thanks to Tony Bertauski for providing me with a copy of the book! For more information about the Socket series, check out his website.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And the Winner is...

Alrighty folks, it's after midnight, which means the spur-of-the-moment Halloween contest is over! And the random number generator ghosts have spoken. The winner is...



Kristina had the 4th comment in the previous post, making her #4, and the winner. Congrats Kristina! You've won a copy of The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy. I'll send you an email to work out the details for shipping and stuff, even though you should totally be off of your computer to study for your Chem midterm on Thursday. ;D

Thanks to everyone else (Allie, Scoot, and Danna) who participated. It was fun hearing about your plans for tonight, especially about the Dinosaur Party. Can't go wrong with a Dinosaur party, even though I'm still not sure what dinosaurs do at a Dinosaur Party...

Thanks again, and happy Halloween!