"With war on the horizon, Ana's attention is split between teenage boy troubles and the political issues of adults."
Reviewed by Kathyrn Little
Posted January 15, 2012
Anyone looking forward to this next book in the Almost To
Die For series? Ana Parker is a half-witch and half-vampire
teenager with boy troubles. She is receiving mixed messages
from Ned, her rocker ex, and the high school hockey star
Matthew. What's a girl to do when her on-again, off-again
boyfriend, Elias, isn't responding to her as he usually did?
Ana was banished in the first books of the series with Elias
by her father. She finally thinks things are settling down
and that she may live in peace, but it is not to be. A
Prince informs her that politics are heating up once again
and there may be war. Ana's fatal mistake starts with
offering up Elias as a peace offering - an offer she did not
know she made. Now she has to protect Elias and prevent war,
how will a teenage witch/vampire pull that off?
Readers will enjoy Ana's character. She is intelligent,
funny, and witty. The love interests are varied and the
reader will find each of them memorable for separate
reasons. The events were fairly fast-paced and the potential
for war gives the book a darker undertone than the first two
novels. Fans of Tate Hallaway should mark ALMOST EVERYTHING
as a to-read.
Whoever said vacations were relaxing?
To say half-vampire, half-witch Ana Parker has boy trouble
it lightly—something her text messaging bill can attest to.
ex-boyfriend Nikolai is trying to heat things up again, and
school hockey star Mathew wants her to try out with him for
Renaissance Festival. At least her sort-of boyfriend Elias
hounding her cell—considering the vampire knight is
in her basement.
Ever since her father banished Elias and Ana from the court
Northern vampires, Ana has been trying to live a normal
life. But when
the Prince of the Southern Region vampires informs Ana that
the brink of war and she accidentally offers up Elias as a
offering, the princess knows that she’s going to need some
help to get
out of the situation.
With Ana’s boy drama meter hitting an all time high, summer
Paul is heating up for all the wrong reasons…
You'd think one of the perks of being half-vampire would be
a resistance to weather. No such luck.
Minnesota summers are surprisingly hot and humid. I kind of
forget how awful it can be until the first ninety-degree
day with eighty percent humidity hits St. Paul.
The oppressive stickiness in our un-air-conditioned house
sent me out to the porch swing. At least here, with the
brutal July sun finally sinking into brilliant orange and
lavender streaks, there was a slight breeze.
It was even too warm to read. I pressed the sweating glass
of lemonade into the hollow between my breasts and pushed a
string hair from my eyes. Other girls complained about how
the weather made their hair frizzy and unmanageable, but,
for me the problem was sticky flatness. This morning I'd
tried to pull my past¬-the-shoulders deep black hair into
one of those fancy French braids, but by this point in the
day bits kept slipping out and clinging to my neck and face.
A few gawker pedestrians strolled down the broad streets of
my Cathedral Hill neighborhood, trying to act casual as
they surreptitiously peered through the lighted windows
into the Victorian era mansions that lined our block. I
hoped no one I knew came by, since I was sprawled limply in
my shortest shorts and last year's "Hello Kitty" tank top
that had half the sequins missing.
A bicyclist whizzed by, the tires clicking, and I wondered
what kind of health crazed nut could work up the enthusiasm
to exercise on a day like today. I would have given him the
finger out of spite, but I couldn't muster the ambition to
lift my hand. Even the flowers in the garden drooped. Tall
stalks of lupine bent low, depressed by the humidity.
Cicadas buzzed angrily in the trees as I used my tiptoe to
push the swing using as little energy as possible.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't the cicadas that were pissed off.
I frowned darkly at the sunset.
Mom was inside, setting a table for "tea" in the sitting
room. I could hear the good china clattering through the
open window and the noise set my teeth on edge. In about an
hour, maybe less now that the sun was setting, Elias would
rouse himself from a dead sleep, and the farce -- I mean,
the festivities would begin.
When I offered to let my ex-betrothed vampire boyfriend
crash in the basement, I kind of expected it would be short-
term. I really thought my mom would object, first of all.
Mom is the Queen of Witches and, even though I'm half-
vampire, witches and vampires don't get along. In fact,
they usually hate each other.
I shifted the glass to let the cool droplets of
condensation run onto my skin. It was pale, like my vampire
father's people's. Even in the middle of summer, my legs
stayed milky white. I didn't even get freckles. I was
envious of the girls I saw at Lake Josephine with their
golden-bronze skin and Norwegian-natural-blond hair. The
only benefit I derived from inheriting my dad's complexion
seemed to be that I also rarely had to deal with acne.
Even before I realized my dad was a vampire, I knew I
didn't look much like my mom. She was all hips and mouse-
blond curls and glasses. Despite my bookish bent, I'd never
Dishes clanked through the open window and I heard the
sound of a mixer grinding. I shook my head. I would never
have imagined it would be like this. Not only was Mom
putting up with Elias, she was cooking for him.
For the past two months, I'd had to endure this
increasingly bizarre evening ritual. I mean, Mom never used
to cook for me. I mean, sure she might open a can of this
and mix in a can of that. On special occasions, like my
birthday, she might pull out all the stops and make the one
from-scratch meal she did well and burn me a cake, but
lately it's been like Rachel Ray around here with food
processors and clarifying butter. For instance, tonight she
made some kind of freezer cheesecake that took her an hour
and a half to prepare. And the result actually might be
And did I mention Elias is a vampire? He doesn't even need
to eat. All this effort for a guy who doesn't even eat! How
weird is that?
Wait, it gets stranger.
After Elias gets up every night, we all sit around and…
chat --in the nice room, with the good dishes, and the
straight-back chairs --
I guess I hadn't anticipated how much my mother needed the
company of someone who could remember Kennedy's
assassination and other ridiculously old and antiquated
I mean, at first, I was really happy that Mom seemed
willing to sit down with a vampire at all. Like I said,
there's only been a war going on between vampires and
Witches since the beginning of time. But, then, Mom and
Elias started getting all nostalgic and friendly. Pretty
soon, I found myself pushing cranberry sauce around my
plate listening to enthusiastic debates about the women's
movement and economic busts and bubbles and other
completely incomprehensible things that happened before I
Worse, when I tried to change the subject to something
vaguely twenty-first century, I got shushed. Shushed!
My mother and my kind-of-boyfriend shushed me like I was
some kind of annoying toddler.
Running my palm over my forehead, I wiped again at the
sweat and that damned uncooperative hair. A car drove by,
its open windows blaring snippets of "Prairie Home
Companion." I heard something about "Powdermilk Biscuits"
as it turned the corner. Goddess, could this day get more
Especially given that two minutes ago while letting me
taste test the cheesecake, Mom admitted something I already
suspected: she had a crush on Elias.
Okay, what she actually said was, "I'm working on a way to
keep Elias around permanently. It's good having him here,"
but for my mom, the I-never-got-over-the-seventies-bra-
burning feminist, that's pretty much a declaration of true
I so did not want to go back inside the sweltering house
and pretend to enjoy cheesecake knowing that my mom was
harboring googly-eyes toward my sort-of-boyfriend. Not that
Elias had been particularly boyfriendly lately.
Now that we weren't officially betrothed and he lived in
the basement, we didn't court. We used to have this
wonderful weekly ritual where he'd come over and sit in the
pine tree outside my window and we'd talk. Sometimes he'd
bring flowers. Other times, we might go up onto the roof
and stare at the stars in companionable silence. He wrote
Now I'm lucky if he gives me a wave before he settles in to
American History 101 with Mom.
Yeah, totally. It's not that I'm hurting for boy attention.
I've got two other guys texting on a regular basis, trying
to get me to commit to a date.
First is my other ex, Nikolai Kirov. He's got those
classically smoldering looks you get when you're half-
Russian, half-Romany and all rock star. Seriously, Nik's
band Ingress has been getting tons of local radio play.
Yet, I went down that road before, and let me tell you,
it's not easy being the dorky, high-school-age girlfriend
of the lead singer in a popular college band. Talk about
feeling shushed; only it's more like being shut out
completely when the gaggle of groupies descend.
The ice in my glass clunked as it melted. The little air
that stirred brought the sharp scent of lighter fuel
burning on someone's barbeque grille. I sighed. At lot of
the problems with Nikolai's fame were my fault; I never
felt cool enough to hang around with him. I felt most
comfortable with people who made obscure references to Star
Wars movies or Lord of the Rings novels, and who got
excited at the idea of extra work in pre-Calculus and new
Dr. Who episodes. In other words: nerds.
Nik was also the junior vampire slayer of the region, which
gets messy. Not only was I half-one myself, but also I was
kind of the vampire princess of Saint Paul thanks to the
fact that my dad is the local prince.
Yeah, me, a princess – laying here in my ragged, sweat
soaked clothes – you can see it, right? Glamour, thy name
is Anastasija Parker.
Anyway, trust me, me and Nik; it's too complicated by far.
Romeo and Juliet had it easier.
Speaking of theater, the other guy vying for my attention
is Matthew Thompson, former hockey star turned lead actor.
See, ever since we did the spring play together, Thompson
has been trying to get me to date him. He's nice enough, I
guess, though we come from different cliques at school.
He's a popular jock. You know, the homecoming king-type and
I'm... well, I'm a theater geek with two different colored
eyes, a reputation as a spooky witch, and an Honor student.
Especially since Thompson was a mundane. If I told him that
I couldn't bring him over to the house because a vampire
lived in the basement and Mom practices True Magic, he'd
think I was kidding. That made social situations kind of
dicey. Oh, yeah, and when I was discovering I was the
vampire princess, I kind of licked blood off his face after
a floor hockey accident in gym. In front of everyone.
As far as I was concerned, my options were limited. And the
least complicated one would rather talk ancient history
with my mom.
Sucks to be me.
"Elias! Good to see you. Come sit," I heard Mom's sing-song
greeting through the window. Then, she shouted to
me: "Anastasija Ramses Parker, stop sulking! Time for tea!"
The full name treatment, eh? Just for that, I'd sit here
for a few extra minutes.
I crossed my arms in front of my chest and stared down the
street. Three people were out walking, heading in my
direction. I probably wouldn't have given them any notice
except that one of them was wearing a cloak.
Did I mention it was ninety degrees in the shade?
I sat up and watched the approaching trio with new
interest. Was there a vampiric jaunt to their step? Who
else would be so impervious to the weather? Because, even
though I wasn't, full vamps were.
Draining the watery lemonade in a gulp, I set the empty
glass underneath the porch swing. With the sun setting
behind them, they presented only a shadowy silhouette. The
cloak-wearing figure was shorter, and I thought there was
something protective and praetorian guard-like about the
way the other two flanked him. Yes, they definitely trailed
one precise step behind, their heads swiveling every so
often to scan the area for threats.
The streetlamps lining the boulevard flickered on.
They were less than half a block away now, and I could make
out more details. Dark, unruly curls framed the shockingly
pale face of the leader. Despite the whiteness of his skin,
his features read to me as though he might be Latino. The
guard on the left was black, though his flesh had that
strangely drained hue of a vampire. A gold earring flashed
in one ear, and he had thick, puffy hair and mutton chop
sideburns that reminded me of Samuel L. Jackson in that
Quentin Tarantino movie, "Pulp Fiction." His partner was
the palest of all three. His long, straight hair was tied
back neatly at the nape of his neck, but otherwise he bore
no resemblance to John Travolta's character in the same
movie. In the artificial light, his auburn hair glowed
almost blood red and his sharp, cruel expression reminded
me of a gentleman pirate... or something much worse. I
found myself the most wary of him. I stood up.
"Ana, I'm about to cut the cake!" My mom shouted through
the open window. I jumped. I'd been completely absorbed
watching the strangers, who were now standing at the gate
looking directly at me. "Are you coming in?"
"In a minute," I answered distractedly. I heard my mother
clucking her tongue and making excuses for "moody
teenagers" to Elias.
I moved to the edge of the porch steps and peered nervously
around a column at the men at the end of our sidewalk. The
leader had his hands on the gate, but he didn't push it
open. I could see now that he looked to be close to my age
or younger. There was the hint of stubble on his chin, but
his cheeks still retained a lot of baby fat -- in a cute
way. In fact, when he smiled at me, he looked down right
charming. "Anastasija Ramses Parker?"
Wow, my full name twice in ten minutes.
But why did I get the feeling that hearing it now meant I
was in a whole lot of trouble?
"Yes, that's me," I agreed cautiously. "Who are you?"
It was the mean-looking guard who answered. Even his
silken, Cajun-accented voice gave me the creeping
chills, "I present His Royal Highness, Luis David
Montezuma, prince of the Southern Region."
A vampire prince? Oh. Crap.
"Ana?" The screen door squeaked, and Elias stepped out on
to the porch. "Your mother wants..." He stopped the moment
he saw Prince Luis and his entourage at the end of the
walk. I felt a breeze and, in a blink, Elias stood
protectively in front of me.
His movement made the red-head snicker.
The prince shot his guard a dark look. To me, he put on
that smile I'd found so charming a moment ago. However, now
it seemed more like a politician's – a bit oily and
forced. "We have traveled some distance, princess."
I got the hint, but I wasn't sure I wanted to invite Luis
and his goons in. Besides, why was he here with me and not
in the underground cave courts of my father? I tried to
catch Elias' eye so I could ask him what to do, but he was
busy staring at his counterparts menacingly.
"For Goddess's sake, what is going on out there?" my mother
shouted. "Come in and have tea!"
I knew that the stalemate had been broken with Elias' soft
curse, and the chuckle of the goons, who reached around the
gate to let themselves in.
"Don't mind if we do," said Luis with a grin.
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