Dale Ibitz


I currently live in New Hartford, CT. Hard to say where I'm 'from' because we moved around a lot when I was a kid, but did time in both Connecticut and Washington state...I won't bore you trying to name all the towns we lived in.

I hold a full-time day job so writing is something I do just because I like it. I'm a fan of hiking, the outdoors, seriously good writing, and I never, ever start the day without chocolate.

Music inspires me, and I like to listen to groups such as Puddle of Mudd, Three Days Grace, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Breaking Benjamin, to name a few.

If you were to visit my house, you'd meet my husband, 2 kids, our dog Lea (most people simply refer to her as The Beast...and for good reason), our kitten Luna (affectionately known as Loony Luna), a gaggle of ducks, and a flock of hens ruled by a tyrannical rooster we call The Stump, or Stumpy. How he got his name is a long story...maybe I'll tell you sometime!

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in more than one place. Born in Connecticut, we moved around to 3 or 4 towns before packing up and moving to Washington State. From there we moved around a bit to 3 or 4 *more* towns, before I re-located back to Connecticut, where I stayed. After living in 3 or 4 *more* towns, I've now been in one town, one house, for 22 years! A record!

So, moving around a lot, it was difficult for me to make friends. Some towns/schools I only stayed in for 3 months. Fifth grade, I went to 3 different schools. I know loneliness, and so do my characters.
When did you first start writing?
Grade School. I remember my first "work of art" was a poem called The Fox with Dirty Sox. It was brilliant. :)
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Dale Ibitz online

Where to buy in print


Strong Blood (Last Moon Rising #2)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,970. Language: English. Published: November 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Cruel lies. Sinister secrets. A destructive war between nature's gods. Haley, descendant of the God of Air, has survived it all… so far.
Fire in the Blood (Last Moon Rising #1)
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 64,130. Language: English. Published: November 16, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
The gods of nature are at war, and Earth is in chaos. When 17 year-old Haley tumbles to a parallel world, she discovers that Earth's global warming stems from a war between the gods of nature. As descendant of the God of Air, Haley's called upon to stop the war. But who should she trust, who should she fight, and who has fire in his blood, bent on betraying them all?

Dale Ibitz's tag cloud

Dale Ibitz's favorite authors on Smashwords

Smashwords book reviews by Dale Ibitz

  • Down a Lost Road on Dec. 14, 2012

    What a world, what a world! J. Bralick portrays such a vivid, imaginative world that is easy to visualize. The characters are memorable, believable, lovable, hatable (is that a word?), and strong. The writing is very, very good, descriptive without being over-bearing. The male characters are just so...male. The female character (really, there's only one to speak of through most of it), is both weak and strong. Strong politics, though maybe just a tad reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Great, unexpected ending. So as much as I loved this book, you may be wondering why only 3.5 stars. Let me tell you. First, and this is really just my opinion, the names were hard to master. I spent much of the first part of the book struggling with names rather than paying attention to the story. It's me, not you, and I know some of you may be saying...yeah? so? Some people love that...I don't, personally. So this, really, is a little thing. Not worth down-grading a 1/2 star. Merelin seemed to spend a lot of time passing out or crying. Total girl. Yuck. I thought I was going to swoon over her brother...the first chapter set him as cool and languid, like a tall drink of water...but that magic didn't carry though the whole book. He ended up being pretty ordinary. What bothered me the most is that I felt like I went through most of the book in a fog. I finished the book, and I still have no clue what Merelin's gift is. I mean, and here's the foggy part, she'd be doing something, end somewhere else after blacking out, not knowing what she did. I'm really, really not sure what she was doing, why she was so important, or what she contributed to the mission. Maybe it's just me being obtuse. Maybe I just didn't get it. Despite this, I really am going to get the next book and continue the journey.
  • Thoughtless on Dec. 14, 2012

    First, I really like this cover, and the premise grabbed me immediately. Poor Bridget has an onslaught of thoughts running through her head, and they're not hers. It's especially hard in high school with aaalllll those hormonal boys with really only *one* thought on their minds. Hard to have a boyfriend. The plot was good for the most part...though I don't think I fully bought the reason Bridget felt like she couldn't tell anyone she'd found the dead cheerleader. Though Bridget works hard at keeping her mind-reading power a secret, to me that wasn't reason enough she had to hide...but of course I'm not a 17 year-old girl who just found a dead body. Maybe the right instinct is to run. Bridget gains the aid and trust another student, and there's always her best friend, whom I'm happy to say both stick with her through the bad stuff that comes. Boyfriend Terrence is the stuff high school dreams are made of...um, a.ka. yummy. Here's what brings down the star rating. Basically, the writing itself. In short summary: 1. The author is addicted to exclamation points. Readers will be more engaged if urgency and excitement are shown through actions and facial expressions...rather than a reliance on exclamation points. 2. There was a lot of telling. ...looking shocked. ... looked confused. ... I found myself getting nervous. ... Rory was nervously waiting. The thing is, sometimes these types of phrases were paired with action. The action itself was showing how the character felt...the statement of how the character felt is redundant. 3. The amount of the main character's internalization distracted from the story...especially when large chunks of internalization were mixed with dialogue. The dialogue doesn't snap or flow at a good pace. Let the story play out and trust the reader to come to his/her own conclusions. Especially when at the climax of the book; all that internalization slows down the climatic ending. 4. A bit of passive writing. I felt his hand grab my ankle. I could hear the sirens. Passive writing makes the reader feel like he/she is reading a story, rather than being immersed in the story. This one was just okay for me.
  • Undermountain (The Undermountain Saga #1) on Dec. 14, 2012

    Okay, at first I was like, Bigfoot? Really? Can that be any way interesting in a story? Well, in fact, it kinda was. I liked the plot, I liked the characters, I liked the descriptions, and I liked the writing. I think the premise is unique and different. There's some humor in there (I love how Wa gets his nickname), there's a bit of romance (but just a tinge...perfectly acceptable for younger, male readers...seriously, not enough to gross them out), and there's a lot of growing up for these kids. I wanted to kick the bad apples in the butt, they were so irritating; and yes, that's a good thing. And best yet...the writing is solid. The only real gripe I have is that one character is extremely intelligent. Good, good, I can take a smart kid. But this character's intelligence was portrayed through his speech...a lot of times relying on not using contractions. Geniuses use contractions when they speak. I would prefer a brainiac's dialogue supported by the substance of *what* is being said rather than *how* it's being said. It makes the character sound like he's trying to be smart, instead of portraying him as smart. And yes, this character did use contractions sometimes, but really, that's not how kids speak...even the brilliant ones. This character just didn't sound natural to me. Other than that one very small thing, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
  • Betrayal's Shadow on Jan. 02, 2013

    Mia Bowman's sucky, cheating husband is having a child with another woman before the divorce papers are even final. Under a lot of stress, she starts having exhausting, life-like dreams where she's transported to a prison with a drop-dead gorgeous hunk of a man. The hunk of a man is Turen, a celestial guardian of man-kind. But it turns out that Mia just might be the one saving Turen. This book is solid. It has action, it has great characters, it has romance, it has sex, it has torture, it has good and it has evil. The characters are believable, the plot is well-rounded, motivations are clear. I could go on. The story drops you right into the action. This was one of the very minor complaints I had, in that it was a little bit confusing right there at the beginning. But it didn't take me too long to figure out what was going on, and once I did, the story had me ensnared. Turen, drop-dead sexy Turen, also had me ensnared. The hopelessness of the Guardians had you rooting for them to succeed. There were some powerful motivations, powerful loyalties, powerful men and woman. I loved the whole clan. I think I would have liked the betrayer to be not so apparent, maybe a few red herrings tossed in my reading path, but that's okay. I can live with that, because this story rocked on all other levels. I really liked this book, and recommend it to anyone who likes some steam in their fantasy.
  • Blood Warrior on Jan. 02, 2013

    17 year-old Alexa knows 2 things: she's pissed at her mother and her mother's rigorous training, and she would do anything to protect her sister, Nelly. She doesn't realize how important these 2 things are until her world comes crashing down and she's thrown into a dark world of the supernatural. OK, there's one thing that's very hard to do, and that's find the right measurement of ingredients and combine them with just the right temperature to bake brownies (yes, I'm using a brownie metaphor for story). Most authors fall into one of 2 traps: either they start off too slow and don't draw the reader in until past the midway mark...their brownies are undercooked; or they start off too fast and don't find their story's groove until past the midway mark...their brownies are rock hard around the edges, with some good stuff somewhere in the middle. I myself have been accused of the latter, so I, unfortunately, am speaking from experience here. So has H.D. Gordon. It's very hard to find the right mix of ingredients to make the perfect brownie; you have to measure and mix those ingredients and find just the right temperature so that luscious brownie aroma lures you right from the beginning, traps you so that you can't stop at just one bite. I will say this: the last 1/3 of this book was the shit; it was one good brownie. The story started a little too quickly. It needed to slow down and help me see the surroundings, see the characters (especially Alexa), and immerse me into Alexa's world. Nelly was perhaps the most vividly drawn character, probably because we see her through Alexa's eyes and she's very dear to Alexa. But I have to admit I didn't have a good sense of Alexa. At one point, Alexa was thinking how a dress and a nice pair of shoes could make a girl happy (or something to that effect, I don't remember exactly), but I *do* remember stopping and thinking, "Wow, I thought Alexa was more a t-shirt and sweat pants kind of girl. I didn't know she liked to dress up!" The other thing that I didn't believe about Alexa's character were 2 instances where she interacted with children. One of the driving motivators for Alexa was that she likes children and would do anything to protect them...and these are children she doesn't know personally. These are children she's just met. That's fine, but these two instances where she interacted with a child seemed contrived to me, as though they were inserted into the story to make me like Alexa. The first time this happened it seemed to come out of the blue, with Alexa "telling" us how she really like children. This aspect of her character wasn't developed enough to make it believable. And yes, there was a lot of telling. If you've read my reviews, you know how I like visceral emotions, I like to feel what the character's feeling, I like stuff explained and described. Don't tell me a character is mad, or sad, or scared. Describe this to me. Make me feel it. Make me *believe* it. With all that being said, this author hit her stride just past the midway mark. All of a sudden, I'm immersed in this new world. All of a sudden, H.D. Gordon found the right mix of ingredients to make this one kick-ass, delicous brownie. All of a sudden, I found myself interested in finding out what's going to happen to Alexa next. I couldn't eat up the words fast enough. In fact, overall, I would call these brownies a success. The brownies, though hard around the edges, were delicious in the middle. I look forward to more brownies from H.D. Gordon.
  • Finding My Escape on Jan. 02, 2013

    17-year-old Hannah has suffered, and survived, a horrific trauma; a home invasion in which her parents were murdered. All that's left to Hannah are menmories, some scrap books, and a mysterious box. Hannah goes to live with her aunt in Tennessee, while her best guy-friend is moving to North Carolina. Now Hannah is suffering from life-like dreams where a hot, angelic guy likes her...except that these dreams appear to be following her into the daylight. And her nightmare follows her to Tennessee. There are some very clever twists to this story. Looking back, there are subtle clues right from the beginning that heralds the ending twist. I like twists. Twists are almost as good as pretzels. I would take a few savvy book twists over pretzels any day of the week. But, while this pretzel of a book flexed and twisted its plot...the dough-making process prior to baking didn't quite rise. I felt like I was being told a story. I wasn't immersed. There was no emotion to draw from, other than what we were told the characters were feeling. This made the story read slightly flat. There was romance, but I didn't feel any cockle-warming...there was nothing to generate heat or friction. Some plot points were a litrle weak. For example, we never quite know what her parents did for a living that made them an open target for murder...what they actually *do* is never really explained. The reason we're given for the murder has been done, and I'm not sure how her parents came across the information in the first place. Or maybe this was all glossed over quickly enough that I just don't remember. I would have liked to have gone a little deeper into the characters. While like-able, there's nothing that had me rooting for them. Well, except maybe her best guy-friend, Matt. For some reason I couldn't help rooting for him. And I'm not quite sure what motiviated Jessie, the first friend Hannah makes in Tennesee, especially when she first meets Hannah. I was expecting something...I don't know...sinister maybe? But nothing ever really happened there. Some of the dialogue didn't quite ring true for me. The transitions had to be kneaded a little more to make 'em smooth; there were some rough spot that caused confusion as to where my place was in the story line. Overall the story had that 'first book' feel to it. The premise is cool and has a lot of potential. There's a whole other world that needs to be explored...though I'm not sure if Hannah can get back there.
  • Missing Mandy on Jan. 02, 2013

    Danny is an artist who moves to a very small town after a divorce. He's haunted by an apparition of a girl, a lovely girl, that he doesn't realize is more ghost than human...at first. Who is she? And how can he help her? This is a relatively short book, and the concept is a good one. The mystery of the girl is one that the reader wants to hang on until the end to find out how it all ends, because all is not as it seems. While the plot was simple and straight-forward, I liked the characters and the setting. The execution leaves a bit to be desired. For me, I found the dialogue stiff, formal, and unrealistic. There is a lot of description of mundane daily activity, especially in the first half of the book. It takes a long while to set up and get to the heart of the story. The pacing was off. While the beginning moved too slow, the ending wrapped up too quickly! The whole climatic ending, which I could have enjoyed for pages and pages, was wrapped up in summary form, like a witness recalling events of a crime to the police. The other issue I had with the book was the punctuation...especially the misplaced commas. Commas were placed where there shouldn't have been any, and missing where they were needed. It caused a little bit of re-reading sentences on my part to get the right inflections. With some editing, this could be a very good story.
  • The Other Slipper on Jan. 02, 2013

    Sixteen-year-old Jo is a tall, klutzy girl living in a kingdom of dainty opposites. One night, after sitting on the sidelines watching ball-goers enter the castle, including a strange beauty in a funky carriage who appears to be wearing glass slippers, Jo finds a ginormous pumpkin (which her family eats) and a little glass slipper. But the slipper hums to her, and only her, and Jo and her seventeen-year-old brother Ron find themselves on a mission to return the magic slipper to its rightful owner. This is an interesting take on the Cinderella story *after* the ball, and from someone else's point of view. This story takes the slant of where the magic came from, how it originated, and the price one pays when they want too much of it. I like how the story takes you beyond the magic of the ball, beyond the fairy tale that we all know. The story keeps it real; magic doesn't come for free. There are consequences for our actions. The characters in this novel are likeable enough, but not especially charismatic. Probably the biggest issue I had though, was with the run-on sentences because run-on sentences have a tendency to lose their train of thought and sometimes slows the plot down especially if you have to go back and re-read the sentence and break it down in your head just to get to the point. Overall, a nice read, especially if you like twists to the old fairy tales.
  • My Enchanted Life on Jan. 02, 2013

    18-year-old Emma Winslow is settling down for a rocking summer vacation in Georgia before trucking off to college. Except she never makes it. Instead, she finds that she's inherited a house in England, and once she arrives to check it out, it seems she may not ever leave. This was a totally fun story filled with enchanted worlds and creatures and characters. There's a little bit of evil, a little bit of romance, and a little bit of betrayal. In short, a little bit of everything. The characters are believable and likeable. Laura's drawn a picturesque world that glitters enchantingly. I like how the seemingly you-just-know-he's-going-to-be-evil characters don't quite turn out that way, characters you think you're going to love...you don't, and characters that you never really paid attention to...you should have. Nothing is quite as it seems in this enchanted world. Yeah, you gotta love that aspect. I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. I. Love. Surprises. If I have one complaint, it's that the pace was a little frantic. This isn't a long story...and it should be. I would have loved if Laura drew the story out, took more time in drawing out scenes. In fact, some of the transitions between scenes were abrupt and could have been a little smoother. Overall, very enjoyable story, with an ending not too predictable and wholly satisfying...with a peek into a sequel that I'll be sure to read.
  • The Other Slipper on Jan. 02, 2013

    Sixteen-year-old Jo is a tall, klutzy girl living in a kingdom of dainty opposites. One night, after sitting on the sidelines watching ball-goers enter the castle, including a strange beauty in a funky carriage who appears to be wearing glass slippers, Jo finds a ginormous pumpkin (which her family eats) and a little glass slipper. But the slipper hums to her, and only her, and Jo and her seventeen-year-old brother Ron find themselves on a mission to return the magic slipper to its rightful owner. This is an interesting take on the Cinderella story *after* the ball, and from someone else's point of view. This story takes the slant of where the magic came from, how it originated, and the price one pays when they want too much of it. I like how the story takes you beyond the magic of the ball, beyond the fairy tale that we all know. The story keeps it real; magic doesn't come for free. There are consequences for our actions. The characters in this novel are likeable enough, but not especially charismatic. Probably the biggest issue I had though, was with the run-on sentences because run-on sentences have a tendency to lose their train of thought and sometimes slows the plot down especially if you have to go back and re-read the sentence and break it down in your head just to get to the point. Overall, a nice read, especially if you like twists to the old fairy tales.
  • The Athena Effect on March 13, 2013

    I loved this main character, Cali. The author did a smash-up job portraying a girl who has lived her whole life without electricity, heat, hot water (oh, the horror!), and friends. Living off the land, completely secluded, with just her parents and the occasional visitor. Imagine her confusion and insecurity when she's plopped into an urban setting. Cali is vulnerable and alone and naive...yet she can kick some serious ass! She is so real and life-like that if I was to meet someone in Cali's situation, Cali is exactly what I would imagine this person being like. I didn't like Cal as much...at first. He's a player through-and-through. He can get the girls with a wink of an eye, and he knows how to use his assets (hee hee) to his advantage. Again, this character is so real in his portrayal that you have to give the author props. The games people play, what they're thinking, what they're after...all extremely well done. It got to the point where even *I* started to believe Cal's feelings for Cali (I have to admit, I don't blame her for being wary). What the summary doesn't get in to is Cali's unnatural ability to see people's auras, so she knows what they're feeling...hard to slip a lie past this girl. My favorite part of this story was when Cali was telling Cal how she killed a mountain lion with a jack knife. Shocked, Cal asked her what her parents did about it. Cali's response was hysterical: "They got me a bigger knife." What made it so funny is Cali has no idea how completely insane and out-of-the-park that concept is. She's so unassuming, she thinks all girls would have done the same thing. She didn't think twice about it. Loved it! I think I would have preferred a little more focus on the supernatural aspect of the story and a little less on the 2 characters coming together...which is a good 75% of the story. The story really got exciting when the evil mastermind started to get involved, but by that time the story was almost over, and, for me, there wasn't enough time spent on building up a suspenseful ending. It just kind of happened quickly with a lot of unresolved issues in the end...which made the ending feel a little flat. But the story continues in the next book, and I will keep reading this series.
  • Project ELE on July 12, 2013

    I struggled with the rating on this one, because while the story was very good, at times the writing wasn't. I finally decided on a 4- instead of a 3+, in order to give the plot its due credit. This story started out with all the interesting facts about the imminent extinction of the human race, and the race to get into one of the shelters. It grabbed me from the first chapter, and the excitement continued (mostly) all the way through to the end. I liked Willow and her friends. I also liked that who I thought was going to be the love interest, wasn't. You kind of know who the bad guys are from the start (though I was pleasantly surprised at one turn of events in the end), so there's no mystery there. You have betrayals, you have romance, you have a couple of twists and bam! It's a day of fun in the reading park. The concept was interesting, and I enjoyed reading about patches on the ozone layer, and what ELE ultimately stands for. I thought these were creative aspects to the story. What bothered me is that at times the level of writing seemed a little immature, and some of the dialogue bordered on kinda corny. Some times I was gripped, other times I was rolling my eyes. I also was bothered by numerous grammatical errors (such as using peak instead of peek, not once, but over and over), and there was a severe case of comma-itus especially towards the end where commas don't exist and the sentences were kind of running on do you see what I mean? There is a note from the authors that after reading reviews, that they've corrected all the errors they could find. Could be that I have an earlier version of the book (I *have* had it for awhile!) so these errors could be corrected. Not sure if maturity level of the writing has been aged or not. With that being said, I read this book straight through on a Saturday, and really quite enjoyed it. Had a good cliff-hanger that has me wanting to continue reading the series to find out what those dastardly SOBs are up to!
  • The Soulkeepers on July 31, 2013

    This book starts off with intense action, and just keeps on going. It sucks you in, grabs you and just doesn't let go. The characters are awesome. They are real-to-life, from Jacob to his family to his friends to the minor characters. They're well thought-out, easily believable, and convincing. I like the subtilties of the characters as well. Some of them, you simply don't know if they're going to be bad or good, but it's so subtle you start to question motives. As you read, it's apparent they could swing either way. I like books where there's a gray area between good and evil; bad people don't necessarily always do bad things, ya know? Some of them you're not sure what's motivating them...you know there's something behind the scenes, and you just have to keep reading to discover some of the lurking secrets. There's a take on fallen angels that was refreshing; I haven't read an urban fantasy that quite depicted them this way. The plot moves fairly well. It cruises along nicely, though the end felt a little rushed. Sort of like being at a great party and the host suddenly shoves you out the door, saying "Party's over!" Some resolutions could have been lingered over, given us a little more detail and substance. While I accept the ending as far as the main characters, I didn't believe the reactions of the families involved who didn't know what was going on. One other thing that bothered me just a little bit, was the preachy feel toward the end. It felt intrusive. Though I understand the motivation behind it, it didn't fit in with the natural flow of the story. Despite that, I have to say one of my favorite indie reads of the year!
  • Don't Fear the Reaper on Aug. 21, 2013

    This was a very well crafted, written, and executed story. I really, really, really liked it! Has got to be one of my faves this year so far. You have characters that are real, three-dimensional, and distinctive. The book opens with Keely's death. Her response to her own death is so believable, you actually think it's real. Like maybe the author followed Keely into the afterlife and wrote down her reactions. Loved the bounty-hunter reaper, his name is Banning. He has that mysterious touch, silent and strong and you're not quite sure what motivates him. I found myself having an internal debate on whether he wanted to help Keely or trap her somehow. And the sardonic, possibly unscrupulous demon? Daniel? His voice is so strong and yeah, he's a *likeable* demon. Whether or not he's unscrupulous is up to the reader to find out. But hint: he's a *demon* kiddos. I loved the tension and interaction between the characters. I thought the pacing was excellent. Keely's motivation throughout was clear, and she pretty much stuck to her guns. I'm a little disappointed that we didn't learn of Daniel's past...why he is what he is and what his motivations were. And was the ending a tad predictable? Perhaps a little. These 2 reasons are why this didn't earn a full 5 stars, but there one or 2 things that did catch me by surprise, and all the little trails wound around the story and tied together in the end. A very enjoyable ride.
  • Rise of the Fallen (All the King's Men - Book 1) on Aug. 28, 2013

    OK, so this for me was 3.5 stars. First off, I love this cover. It's HOT, totally hot. And this book (and review) is for the 18+ crowd...so if you're a young 'un, you might want to skip this one. OK? So, this story doesn't only cover Micah and Sam's stories, but a host of other folks. Some you like. Some you don't. Some you just don't care. And there's all kinds of sex. Straight sex. Gay sex. Kinky sex. If this isn't your cup of tea, um, don't pick up this book. I personally found it interesting to read some of this stuff, never having been exposed to it before. As for Micah, here's my problem. The guy's a dick. And you can't even blame the broken bond for his dick-i-ness. He was always a dick. Everyone knows he's a dick. Very few like him despite it. Most fear him or don't care. Some liked to see him broken. You can't like or emphasize with a dick. At least, I couldn't. And while I felt for his loss, I didn't care because, ya know, he's a dick! But he is So. Good. Looking. Almost makes me want to try to save the dick myself. Ya know what I mean? I have to admit, I liked him more towards the end, especially his treatment of Sam... but the dude's gotta shed that dick bag he carries around and be more like-able. Loved Sam. Loved her strength and grit and determination. Hated her douche of an ex-husband. He deserved everything he got! It was quite comical, actually. As for plot? It was ok, though there were some unanswered questions. There's a whole story line about a guardian that who or why or what he was all about is unexplained. At least, if it was explained I didn't get it. While I liked the guardian character quite a bit--one of my favorites, in fact--I didn't get what his purpose was. So let's get to the meat and potatoes...the sex. The descriptions were good, if lacking a little viscerally. I thought adding the sound affects (like "Ungggh"), was kind of a turn off. Better to describe the actions and reactions viscerally than to put sound affects like that in dialogue. To me, it was off-putting and distracting.
  • Dangerous on Oct. 16, 2013

    I think the first half of this book moved slowly. I felt like a car with its tires spinning in the mud...it tries hard, but it's not going anywhere, and no matter how hard you hit the gas, you don't move forward. There's a lot of mundane college life in the beginning, and there was a little too much internalization followed by repeating the character's thoughts in dialogue. So I felt like I kept reading the same thing twice. And waaaaaay too many exclamation points; it made it seem like everyone was so uber-excited that they're shouting all the time. I wasn't drawn to the main character at all. She seemed a little harsh to me, very narrow-minded. You can blame it on her up-bringing, but her best friend had the same up-bringing and yet was more accepting of those with the disease. I kind of understand why the author set up Ria this way, in order to show her change and grow, but over-all, the girl is selfish and not that likeable. As to her friends, Paula and Michael, they're pretty one-dimensional. They didn't seem to have many layers. Adrian, however, was an interesting character. Adrian saves the story, so to speak. He's a bad boy--and yes, he's a *bad* boy to the point of being an utter dick--but there's still some intriguing about him. And as the story unfolds, you understand he's the product of his environment. Society made him into a dick. His character runs hot and cold...just when you start feeling sorry for him, he pulls out the dick card and you start hating him again (and honestly, many times he pulls out the dick card because Ria's does some asinine thing to hurt him...again). Halfway through the book, I started getting more interested...and this is the result of Ria and Adrian clashing, and the story actually starting to unfold. I liked how some of the other minor characters were in the gray area...unable to tell whose side they're on. This made the story interesting. And I was curious enough to read it all the way through to see how it ended. You have to wonder how much Ria changed after all! While I wasn't wowed by the first book, I'm intrigued enough by Adrian's story specifically to give the next book a chance.