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In My Mailbox (10)

I got a decent load from the library this week, which I'm happy about. I've already made a dent in that pile!

Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupola. Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe. With a con-man dad and a long-gone mom, the only thing that makes sense to Maya is science. In fact, every time her dad’s cons go wrong, she has a scientific way to fix it, to keep both of them safe and together.

Only this time Maya’s scientific method doesn’t work. She finds herself stuck in an orphanage, and then living on the street, where scientific laws don’t apply, with two unlikely allies, and she has to learn to live on instinct alone. But when Maya goes off in search of an aunt she’s never met in hopes of finding some semblance of stability in her chaotic world, she finds something even more important: her own strength. 

Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt. Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.
When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?

This fun, sexy, recession-proof story is a bubbly summer read with surprising depth—great for fans of Sarah Mlynowski.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade. After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck here in spirit form with no sign of the big, bright light coming to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser/outcast type who hates the social elite. He alone can see and hear her, but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.

Can they get over their mutual distrust—and this weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishe
s for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist?

Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick. Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). But Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. Instead, she focuses on bettering the lives of her alcoholic mother and her quirky circle of friends: a glass-ceiling-breaking single mother raising a son diagnosed with autism; Father Chee and The Korean Divas for Christ (soul-singing ESL students); a nihilist octogenarian; a video-game-playing gang of outcasts; and a haiku-writing war vet. But then a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism—and her way of life. Can Amber continue to be the princess of hope?

With his zany cast of characters and a heartwarming, inspiring story, debut YA author Matthew Quick builds a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. This world is Amber’s stage, and Amber is, well…she’s sorta like a rock star.

What did you get in your mailbox? 

8 Facts of My Week (3)

1. Halloween came at my school yesterday and I had no costume. The 'rents apparently decided that buying an awesome banana costume would be a "waste of money" better spent on "useful things". Useful things? Is a banana costume not a useful thing, I ask you? On the bright side, I saw at least three people in that very same costume today, so at least I didn't look like I was copying anyone. I also got to explain to my homeroom teacher that I was dressing up as this awesome girl named Izzy ("I don't know, have you ever heard of her?") and that I'd stalked her and so perfectly matched her speech patterns and such. He told me I was special and gave me extra candy.

2. Halloween party tonight! This marks an important event in my anti-social life. As sad as it sounds, this might actually be the first time since fourth or fifth grade when I was invited to such a large social event. (And in fourth or fifth grade, that kid was forced to invite me to his birthday party.) I also managed to convince my parents to let me go (if you have traditional Asian parents, you'll most likely understand), so I won't have to mimic teen movies and sneak out of my window (which, actually, I would probably never dare to do because there is a spider web on my window screen and I am mortally afraid of spiders).

3. Yesterday, I accidentally punched my friend in a very unfortunate place. You all know of my agility and grace, so you can probably imagine how I did this while playing rock-paper-scissors with the girl next to him.

4. I discovered I have an incredibly disability to remember people's names. However, when I give them new names, I can remember those perfectly. It is now quite common for me to walk down a hallway and say things like, "Hi Best Friend #5! Hi Imaginary Friend! Hi Not-Rotund Fellow! Hi Raven Who Does Not Look Like Raven! Hi Claustrophobic Person!"

5. This year, I'm doing amazingly well in classes I thought were hard last year, and I'm struggling in classes I aced the previous year. My report card is probably going to look like: A, A, A, F, F, A, A, A, A. Isn't that lovely, now?

6. I really need to learn how to not be overly sensitive.

7. How did I not find this site before? I now have a new way to waste tons of time!

8. Best webcomic ever? Definitely a tie between xkcd and Buttersafe.

Book Blogger Hop (9)

It's been so long since I've had to the time to do this! This week, the question is: What is one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

I'd have to say that I'd kill for an awesome, wall-wide bookshelf in my room. I have a ton of books scattered all over the place, but no one area to stick them all in, and I always feel my skin steadily glowing green whenever I see those epic pictures of bookshelves stocked from floor to ceiling with awesome arrangements.

And thanks for hopping by! Leave a comment with a link to your hop post so I can visit your blog, too :)

Liar: Review

Synopsis: Micah freely admits that she's a compulsive liar. And that may be the one honest thing she'll ever tell you. Over the years she's duped her classmates, her teachers, and even her parents. But when her boyfriend, Zach, dies under brutal circumstances, the shock might be enough to set her straight. Or maybe not. Especially when lying comes as naturally to her as breathing. Was Micah dating Zach? Or was Sarah his real girlfriend? And are the stories Micah tells about inheriting a "family gene" real or are they something that only exists in her mind?

Breathtaking in its plotting, and narrated by one of the most psychologically complex young women to emerge since Sybil, Liar is a roller-coaster that will have listeners grasping for the truth. Honestly. 

Details: Liar by Justine Larbalestier, 376 pages, 3.48 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: My friends and I make jokes, sometimes, that all writers are compulsive liars, and that - compulsive and pathological liars - is something I've always taken rather lightly. So when I picked up this book, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this. I didn't anticipate being completely swept in to the point where I had to struggle to put it down. I never thought there would be passages that were so honest and heartbreaking and confusing that I would read them over and over again until the words were ingrained in my skull. And it definitely never occurred to me that this would became my favorite book, ever.

I have long been a fan of the psychological kinds of books - novels, even movies, that take you on mindbending journeys and make you think and cringe and cry and your pulse quicken. I don't like horror movies/books, so it's hard for me to find that perfect kind of book, but Liar is just that - the perfect kind of book for me. Micah is the best kind of character, complex and real. Sometimes I just wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her and tell her to start telling the truth, to stop lying, but that was a part of her. Being a compulsive liar not only made her a unique character, it added so many complicated (but in a great way!) layers to the story, because you don't know if what she says is true or not.

And that was the most amazing facet of the story, simply that you can't tell what part of the narration is true. Towards the end of the book, she begins to count the lies she's told during the narration, and they could be horrifying and strange and sometimes, oddly enough, heart-twisting. But there are still parts - especially one very large part, the "family illness" as she calls it in the beginning, that you just don't know. She doesn't count it among the lies she says she's told, but how can you know? Micah is, after all, a compulsive liar. But then again, she tells about the frustration of when you're telling the truth and people don't believe you because it's the boy who cried wolf all over again. 

The ending blew my mind. I would honestly count this ending as the best ending I have ever read in a book. It's been two months since I read this, and I still think about that ending. The last line echoes in my mind over and over again. I'm itching to say it in this review, but if you choose to read this book - and you absolutely, absolutely, absolutely should - it's better to read it for the first time yourself, after all the build-up of the previous pages. It's wonderful and spectacular and startling and grim, and it's so, so perfect. It's the kind of last line that I imagine the author, upon first thinking of it, must have squealed at the perfection of it. (Maybe Justine Larbalestier doesn't squeal. But I would have. Definitely.) 

I wish more people I know would read this book because I need to discuss it with someone so badly. I want to debate it, to figure out together if Micah is telling the truth or lying or if maybe we're just not meant to know. So, I absolutely, one hundred percent, definitely think that everyone else should read it.

Plot - 5/5
Characters - 5/5
Writing - 5/5
Impact - 5/5
Inability to put it down - 4.5/5

Overall - 98% = A+

Such a Pretty Girl: Review

Synopsis: They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.

Details: Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, 212 pages, 3.78 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: Several months ago, I read Wiess's other book, Leftovers, and absolutely loved it. It was dark and moving and wonderful and brilliant, and it made my chest ache and my eyes water. I immediately added Such a Pretty Girl to my reading list, and then forgot about it. As I was reserving books from the library (I reserve five every nine days or so), I saw that cover and remembered just how much I enjoyed the author's writing and quickly reserved it.

When it finally came, I rushed through the current book I was reading and started it as soon as possible. I had high expectations for this one, but I wasn't disappointed at all! The writing was just as heartwrenching and dark and profound as it was in Leftovers, and several passages I had to savor because they were so beautiful. 

In the end, though, I still didn't like this as much as Leftovers. It was written well and made me tear up in several places, but this plot has been done so many times, it's hard to make it stand out. Also, I found it a little hard to relate to Meredith. She was so dark and screwed up and depressed, I couldn't help pitying her, but I wasn't able to ever really understand her. 

This is hard to read because of the subject matter, but if you're okay with gritty and edgy, this is a beautiful book to read. Be aware, though, that this isn't for the faint of heart, so if you know that you struggle with difficult material like this, it most likely isn't the book for you. 

Plot - 3/5
Writing - 5/5
Characters - 4/5
Impact - 4/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5

Overall - 76% = B+

Character Traits

Creating characters are some of the hardest things to do. You have to include little details, little traits that shape them and make them different from all the other characters floating around. It can be hard coming up with these traits, so I have an idea - what if we all generated lists of our own traits?

I'll start with my quirks, and then anyone who wants to do this as well can list theirs in the comments or link to a post. I hope a lot of people participate! Other people's traits - and even your own - can provide inspiration for your characters.

1. I always wear this one watch on my left wrist. It's black and silver, cheap, and digital, and even though it probably clashes with ninety percent of my clothes, I only take it off to shower or sleep. At first I wore it because it was handy to know what time it was, but now I'm not even sure why I wear it so much. There's even a strip of pale skin around my wrist, and I don't tan.

2. I'm awful at hiding my emotions. This is why I suck at poker.

3. Two or three years ago, I started spinning my pencil a lot. For a year, it was just a bunch of jerky movements, but over time, it became smoother and smoother until almost whenever I do it, someone comes over, stares, and then asks, "How do you do that?" It's difficult to describe, but basically I hold the pencil in the middle with my middle finger and thumb so that my middle finger is just a bit closer to the point than my thumb. I place my index finger about an inch closer to the eraser on the same side as my middle finger. Then I move my index finger to the other side of the pencil, and twist the pencil so that it's now being held by my middle finger and index finger. I twist the pencil further, using my thumb for support, and duck my index finger so that the pencil flies over it. The middle finger is used to stabilize it. I spin it really quickly so you can't see what my fingers are doing; they just look like they're ducking and moving a lot.

4. I almost always have a pencil in hand.

5. I think one of the best birthday gifts I've ever gotten were two stuffed dinosaurs that roar when you squeeze them. I got those for my fourteenth birthday from one of my friends.

Your turn! Post your quirks in the comments or link to a blog post with them!

Island Summer: Review

Synopsis: Nikki may spend the school year on the New England mainland at the ritzy Richfield Academy (on scholarship), but during the summer, she returns home to the decidedly less-posh Pelican Island. Despite an invite from her rich friend Blair, Nikki has to spend the summer working at her parents' sandwich shop. During one of her deliveries to the mainland, she meets Daniel Babcock, and they begin a whirlwind summer romance. But when Blair invites Nikki to spend the weekend, Nikki sees her walking hand in hand...with Daniel! 

Can summer love survive?

Details: Island Summer by Jeanine Le Ny, 192 pages, 4.00 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I read this for the Rom-Com Reading Challenge I entered a few months ago (I know, I finally got started on that!), and I have to say, I was quite disappointed. I realize that this is meant to just be a fun, relaxing read, but I just felt rather irritated throughout most of this. Reading Island Summer was tedious, and several parts just dragged on and on and on.

The characters bothered me a lot. Nikki lacked a personality; if tomorrow I got stuck in an elevator with her for six hours, I wouldn't recognize her. She wasn't even annoying or whiny, just completely zero-dimensional. I complain sometimes about one-dimensional characters, but at least those have characteristics. Blair is a little bit better, but she didn't have a personality either. 

But as much as this annoyed me, the romance was worse. Nikki and Daniel met by bumping into each other in the street, but that wasn't what bugged me. When I first read that scene, I thought it could turn out cute. However, just randomly, for reasons I still don't understand, Daniel called her. You accidentally run over a guy with your bike. You apologize. You find the other guy sort of nice and (of course) wonderfully amazingly hot (because all love interests in the entire world are hot and the ugly or plain people just sit at home staring at a wall), and then inexplicably, he calls you? No mention of, I don't know, how he gets your number or why he would feel romantically attracted to you after talking with you for five seconds? 

The romance didn't even have anything going on. They were in love. Some minor incident occurred to freak Nikki out, but it's okay, because five pages later everything is resolved. They were in love. Another minor incident occurred to freak Nikki out, but it's okay, because five pages later everything is resolved. Even what was mentioned in the synopsis - Nikki catching Blair holding hands with Daniel - was a conflict that lasted about ten pages, because of course * predictable spoiler, highlight to read * absolutely nothing was going on. She just happened to be holding hands with him, and since there was no plot, that's what got in the synopsis.

I don't want to say that every aspect of this book is bad, of course. There were funny spots that made crack a smile, and in the end, this is just meant to be something light to read. If you're a major fan of romantic comedies, you'll probably like this, but if you don't like them or - like me - just have a casual interest in them, it's not worth the read.

Plot - 1/5
Characters - 1/5
Writing - 2.5/5
Impact - 1/5
Inability to put it down - 0/5

Overall - 22% = D-

In My Mailbox (9) & announcement

Slow week, but a good one regardless!


Perfect by Sara Shepard:

In a town where gossip thrives like the ivy that clings to its mansions, where mysteries lie behind manicured hedges and skeletons hide in every walk-in closet, four perfect-looking girls aren't nearly as perfect as they seem.

Three years ago, Spencer, Aria, Emily, Hanna, and their best friend Alison were the girls at Rosewood Day School. They clicked through the halls in their Miu Miu flats, tanned in their matching Pucci bikinis, and laughed behind their freshly manicured fingernails. They were the girls everyone loved but secretly hated—especially Alison.

So when Alison mysteriously vanished one night, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna's grief was tinged with . . . relief. And when Alison's body was later discovered in her own backyard, the girls were forced to unearth some ugly memories of their old friend, too. Could there be more to Alison's death than anyone realizes?

Now someone named A, someone who seems to know everything, is pointing the finger at one of them for Ali's murder. As their secrets get darker and their scandals turn deadly, A is poised to ruin their perfect little lives forever.

 Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell:

"In this provocative and inspiring book, Malcolm Gladwell examines everyone from business giants to scientific geniuses, sports stars to musicians, and reveals what they have in common. He looks behind the spectacular results, the myths and the legends to show what really explains exceptionally successful people." Gladwell argues that, when we try to understand success, we normally start with the wrong question. We ask 'what is this person like?' when we should really be asking 'where are they from?' The real secret of success turns out to be surprisingly simple, and it hinges on a few crucial twists in people's life stories - on the culture they grow up in and the way they spend their time. 
What did you get in your mailbox? 

Announcement: I need somewhere to spill the words running around my head, so I started a tumblr with the hopes of gaining a small following to share these with. I hope you could check it out: heart with hands. I'm new to tumblr, so if you have one, leave me a link or something and I'd love to check it out. 

8 Facts of My Week (3)

1. Little kids are very strange creatures. I'm sure I was never one.

2. At the math competition I volunteered at, I was told to direct traffic in a parking lot for two hours. Guess how many cars came? None. Guess who was so bored, she ended up playing football? What? No, it wasn't Madonna, it was me. I played football. With a water bottle. In a parking lot. And I didn't know the rules at all. They tried to explain them to me, but they were extremely confusing.

3. I spent two weeks being extremely nervous about a speech I had to give in a public speaking class. When the time finally came, I was the very last person, so everyone was bored and inwardly groaning as I stepped up to the podium. My speech was meant to be funny, but I had these horrible visions of people staring at me, stony-faced, throughout the entire thing. Finally, I took a deep breath and started. To my surprise, the first line - which wasn't even meant to be funny ("I believe in procrastination, the art of getting everything done, just sometime later") - made everyone burst into laughter. I still don't see how anyone could find my speech funny, but I blame it on too much sugar.

4. It's funny, the people you become friends with. The ones you think are weird or mean turn out to be friendly and funny and nice, and the ones you think you'll be awesome friends with turn out to have nothing in common with you beyond that first epic conversation.

5. I was going to be a banana for Halloween, but apparently now my parents won't let me buy the costume because it's a "waste of money". Pfft. I'll probably end up wearing a cardboard sign that says "You're just jealous of my costume." My friends tell me this perfectly sums up my personality.

6. Babies are so cute, it should be illegal.

7. Scholastic Art and Writing Competition! I'm entering this year for short short story, and I've been polishing my piece like mad. The first draft of it exploded out of me in something like twenty-five minutes, but the next few drafts have been like tearing hair follicles out of your skin with duct tape. Repeatedly. The story's finally shaping up though, so I have hope!

8. Writing on hands is very handy. (See, that was the most wonderful pun you've ever read. I will never understand why my friends called an emergency meeting with me entitled, "IZZY, YOU ARE NOT PUNNY".)

The Compound: Review

Synopsis: Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they've become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy. 

For Eli, no amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place. with only his two sisters, only his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day.

As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary - and their sanity - Eli can't help but wonder if he's rather take his chances outside.

Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe - or sorry? 

Details: The Compound by S. A. Bodeen, 256 pages, 3.75 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: First off, major props to the author for a unique plot! There are tons of books out there that deal with apocalyptic scenarios, including nuclear wars and the like, but I love that this focused more on something totally different. If I wanted to write a dystopian, I don't think I'd ever think of doing something where the main characters are completely separated from the outside world in order to survive. The situation is awful - you can't have contact with anyone outside your immediate family (except for Eli's twin brother, who didn't make it into the compound), every day is exactly the same, and tensions and problems arise. 

I especially love the twists. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, you find out everything you thought was true was completely wrong. This book is unpredictable, a welcome relief from novels where you can practically recite the next sentence before you read it. The one thing I didn't like about the plot was that it was on the unbelievable side. You kind of have to suspend your disbelief, but after a while, you start to really get into it and it's not so bad. However, the delightfully creepy nature of the book more than makes up for this.

Some people didn't like Eli that much, but I thought he was a great character. He definitely was far from perfect - at times he was downright lazy and selfish, but I felt that made him real. Aren't we all lazy and selfish sometimes? Besides, he'd been through some really tough stuff, particularly with something regarding his brother, which I won't reveal. Eli struggled with a great deal of emotional baggage, but in the end, he was an honest portrayal, and I'm glad the author didn't try to sweeten him up. I also liked watching him grow as a character and become more caring and selfless.

Of course, there were several aspects of the book I didn't like as much. First, there was the issue of the "supplements", as they were called. While it was never really fully explained, from what I understand, they were raising little kids to eat because apparently their food supply was running low. I think the author tried too hard to raise moral/ethical questions, because that felt extremely unbelievable to me. If you think you might starve, is your solution really going to be to make your wife and daughter pregnant so you can eat the babies? I mean, really? I kept thinking I misinterpreted the book because that just seemed so illogical.

The other thing I didn't like was the father. I realize he was supposed to be the cold, manipulative psychopath, but many of his decisions didn't make sense, even after I finished the book. I can't say exactly what they are without revealing major, major spoilers, but they just seemed plain weird. I think there could have been better reasons to explain why the father did what he did - something, anything to make it more real and believable.

All in all, The Compound is a quick but fascinating read. It's suspenseful enough to keep your attention and have you turning pages, but the plot isn't the most believable in the world. 

Plot - 3/5
Characters - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Impact - 3/5
Inability to put it down - 3/5

Overall - 64% = B-

What's Your Status?: Review

Synopsis: Madison MacDonald thinks things are finally working out!

Followers: 300

Status Updates:

mad_mac         Nate and I have been together for two months, and it’s wonderful!  Life is good!

mad_mac         Well, except for the fact that I still might be failing history.

mad_mac         And I no longer have a BFF.

mad_mac         But aside from those things!

mad_mac         Okay.  So, um, apparently I’ve just been put in charge of the school’s priceless heirloom.

mad_mac         And the assistant headmaster has a vendetta against me.

mad_mac         And it seems I’m being blackmailed.

mad_mac         Gathering together a crew. I’m going to try and pull off a heist.  Without getting caught. Or expelled. Or arrested. 

mad_mac         Also, I think I may have just accidentally wrecked my relationship. . . .

Madison MacDonald is trying not to panic.

Details: What's Your Status? by Katie Finn, 368 pages, 3.47 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I started reading this book without really knowing what to expect. I'd only heard the title mentioned and not any reviews, but it sounded like a neat book. I've always liked books that tie in technological thingies like Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, and so forth, so I thought this would be a nice one. Given the synopsis, I figured that this would be a fluffy, chick-lit book, and it was. However, even if it was fluffy, it was cute and funny.

The main thing I didn't like about What's Your Status? is that I had a lot of trouble relating to the main characters. I didn't care too much one way or another what happened to them, and at points, I had to drag myself through. I do have to say that I was able to get into it for relatively long periods of time. You know that slightly fuzzy feeling you get when you slip into a book for an hour or so? I was able to get that feeling with this one.

What's Your Status is an okay read - not something I'd recommend, but I wouldn't recommend you against it. 

Plot - 1.5/5
Characters - 1/5
Writing - 3/5
Impact - 1/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5

Overall - 34% = D

In My Mailbox (8)

I had a fantastic week in terms of books! After a long drought, I finally two books and got quite a satisfying load at the library. Plus, despite the large amounts of homework my teachers have inflicted upon me, I've still been able to find time to read every day, so I can't wait to dig into these.


 Angus, thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. When I got this, I couldn't wait. I ripped the package open and started reading immediately. After twenty-four hours, I'd finished the book, and a review will come in a couple weeks. (I'm getting super back-logged when it comes to reviews!) But let me just say that this book is HILARIOUS and I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in the series. Oh, and I'll be sure to give my copy away to someone deserving for Christmas! :)

Teen Angst? Naaah... A Quasi-autobiography by Ned Vizzini. You know those books that you think will kind of suck but you read anyway 'cause they're sort of right there? This was one of them, but trust me, it's amazing and worth the read. After the first couple pages, I was completely hooked, and now I can't put it down! It's witty and real and honest and funny.


 The Replacement by Brenna Yovannof. I have been waiting for this book for a billion years. I saw the cover ages ago and just KNEW I had to read it, so I quickly put it on my to-read list. Then I saw the trailer, squealed, saw the release day, and screamed in horror. But the weeks passed, and I reserved it. Two days later, I got an email informing me that the book is too new to reserve, so I had to wait three agitating weeks.

And it finally came. The cover is as shiny and beautiful and wonderful as it seemed!

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. Yes, that does say THE DUFF! When I held it in my hand, I nearly died. This is another one I've been waiting to read for a long time, and I sure hope it lives up to the hype!

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin. I haven't heard the greatest things about this book, but it seems interesting so I suppose I might give it a try. Anyway, sometimes it's the books you have the lowest expectations for that really rock your world.

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon. The first time I saw the cover, it didn't seem particularly enticing to me, but the synopsis was intriguing, so I reserved it. I haven't read very many reviews of this, but they appear to be mostly positive, so I hope this is a good one!

What did you get in your mailbox?

8 Facts of My Week (2)

1. I have noticed that the bus has a very distinct order of students. The freshmen sit in the front, and a little bit in the beginning of the middle. Some of the sophomores overlap a little with the freshmen in the first half of the middle, and the rest sit all the way in the back. The juniors dominate the second half of the middle, and finally, the seniors overlap with the juniors and the sophs that sit in the back.

On Thursday, I nearly missed the bus, and so when I got on, nearly all the seats were taken. The only available one was with the seniors. I got quite a few dirty looks for disrupting the natural order of the bus, and the people around me refused to have conversations with each other because some freshman dork was awkwardly sitting there, reading a book and glancing up nervously every ten seconds.

2. I have a Lit teacher who grades with an iron red pen, and I swear to God I'm going to die in that class. I consider myself pretty good for my age when it comes to writing fiction, but I despise essays. I like analyzing literature (even though I'm terrible at it), and I like a lot of the reading selections we have in this class, but I just hate writing essays. They're so mechanical and boring, and the page limits are irritating.

3. I learned the llama chant. I'm pretty sure I'm the last one in the whole school, but finally - FINALLY - I can join in when people start shouting, "Happy llama! Sad llama! Mentally deranged llama!" I also learned awkward turtle, and the awkward turtle chant (complete with Pedophile Wave at the end). I feel so accomplished now.

4. I went to an ice cream social last night thinking that (1) I could try, like, not being anti-social and (2) ICE CREAM ICE CREAM ICE CREAM. But in the end I was too full of Indian food (two Indian dudes had their birthdays today, and they actually brought it awesome food for my math class) to enjoy the ice cream, and predictably, I was anti-social. I did talk to some people, so I guess in the end it was sort of fun. I hadn't expected much anyway.

5. Indian food is good. See #4. Interestingly enough I was able to tolerate the spiciest food out of everyone, including the people who were raised for a while in Korea.

6. It always happens that on my busiest weekends (i.e. this one), my teachers dump the largest amounts of homework possible. In addition to all the essays and papers and whatnot, I also have to study for three gigantic tests that are worth like half my grade each. Oh, and the tests are all within the next few days. On hard stuff. Yay.

7. I'm volunteering at a math competition tomorrow, for 4th-8th graders. I got a free awesome Staff t-shirt that I have to wear, and I got grouped with my friends. Except, of course, for some reason my friends are in separate places from me, so I'm stuck with my sort-of friends (the ones you say "hi" to and hug on "hug-an-Asian" day [600 of the 1200 people at my school are Asian], but don't really have a lot to talk about with). Eh, could be worse.

8. I was giving my French presentation while spinning my pencil (I'm a nerd, it's what we do), but I was nervous and a little sweaty so my pencil slipped. While struggling over a nasty verb, I reached to catch my pencil and instead watched it bury its point in my palm. However, my French grade could use a little help, so instead of bailing, I tearfully spoke butchered French while blood dripped from my hand.

I think I did pretty well, all things considered.

So how was your week? Do you take a bus with a hierarchy? Had trouble with an essay? Struggled during a presentation?

Beautiful Creatures: Review

Synopsis: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Details: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, 563 pages, 3.80 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: Beautiful Creatures was another book that I have ambivalent feelings for. The premise was certainly interesting. It didn't have a whole lot to separate it from other paranormal romances, but I did appreciate that the paranormally endowed love interest was female rather than male, that the POV was a guy, and that the whole magic system was fairly original. I also like the setting - instead of cardboard cut-out suburbs, this takes place in a small Southern town. I can't comment on how realistic the setting was as I live in a small Northern town, but it seemed to work well with the story.

The characters did bother me a bit. Lena seemed all right to me, but Ethan didn't sound like a guy. He sounded like a girl masquerading as a sixteen year old male. He paid a lot of attention to what Lena was wearing, spent quite a few pages describing the dresses and decorations at the dance, had zero lustful thoughts, and was disgusted by how other guys admired girls' bodies, not to mention how much he enjoys hanging out with his great-aunts. Even sweet, sensitive, smart guys act like guys.

I also didn't like their romance very much. It didn't feel like it developed organically - it was more like they recognized each other from their dreams, realized they were destined to be with each other, liked each other's appearance, and decided to be in love. My biggest problem with the paranormal romances I've read (not making any generalizations for all paranormal romances nor the genre in general) is that the romance comes way too fast, and it never feels like a real romance. It's so full of "we can't be doing this, this is forbidden, but I love you with an intensity beyond my years and I can't possibly give you up" that there's none of the sweetness or the sensitivity of a teen romance. 

Beautiful Creatures was a long read that felt longer than it should have. I feel like there was a lot of potential but it wasn't executed as well as it could have been. It's not to say this book was all bad - the minor characters were fun and original and intriguing for the most part, and this was more unique than other paranormal romances I've read, but this wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. If you love the genre, then I do recommend you read it, but otherwise, it's probably not worth it.

Plot - 3/5
Characters - 2.5/5
Writing - 3/5
Impact - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5

Overall - 50% = C

Jekel Loves Hyde: Review

Synopsis: Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad. 

Details: Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey, 282 pages, 3.64 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: As I read books that I will review, I take mental notes (and sometimes I write down things on paper, although not as often as I should) and start forming a rudimentary overall opinion (e.g. "okay", "bad", "amazing"), and often the opinion will change. However, as I was reading Jekel Loves Hyde, my opinion of the book was fluctuating like crazy. There were parts that I loved, parts that were okay, and parts that were just sort of weird. But even the places that I didn't like as much still made me want to read on.

After I finished the entire book, I still wasn't sure how I felt about it, so I decided to dissect my feelings for it during this review. First, there was the premise. I like retellings of classic stories but frequently I feel like the premise tries too hard. However, I didn't feel like this for Jekel Loves Hyde's premise - it was sufficiently different and modernized from the original to be interesting and unique, but has enough of the same elements to appeal to anyone who liked the original (which I didn't read but always intended to). 

When I started reading, I found the writing quite good. It propelled me through the entire book, even during the parts that didn't appeal to me, and I think the author is a master at creating suspense. I love books that can give me goosebumps, and while I wasn't that affected, Jekel Loves Hyde definitely had a lot of the creepy factor. 

What I mainly didn't like about the book were the characters. Jill seemed rather flat to me, and I found her quite annoying. She believed what Tristen told her without demanding any proof - even several weeks later, I can't get over the fact that she just accepted it from someone who was acting rather insanely. Tristen also bugged me because of his arrogance and sweeping generalizations of people. He looked down on every single student in school except for Jill.

Some things were confusing for me, and I still had questions by the time I finished reading. However, the ending of the book was so perfect that I was able, for the most part, to overlook the problems with it. I recommend this book if you really liked the original one this is based on, but otherwise, it's probably not really worth a read unless you happen across it.

Plot - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Characters - 2/5
Impact - 3/5
Inability to put it down - 2.5/5

Overall - 58% = C+

Recreate Cover Contest: Minder

These are lots of fun! I'm really happy with this because I didn't expect it to turn out so well. Plus, I never liked the original cover much anyway. Here it is!

It took me about forty-five minutes, which is a little longer than usual for me. The hardest part was getting the colors just as I wanted them (not too vibrant, not too dull, not too varied, not too monochromatic, etc.), and finding the right font was difficult as well. What do you think?

PS: You can enter here!

Leaving Paradise: Review

Synopsis: Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares — has been canceled.

After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak." Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.

Details: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles, 303 pages, 4.21 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I was excited when I first read the synopsis to this. It sounded like it would make for a thoughtful book with an interesting romance. I've always loved books that have unlikely love interests, so I looked forward to getting the book. I was even more excited when I saw the cover I had (which was different from the one I'd initially seen on Goodreads) was absolutely gorgeous. So it may be that the fact I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to can be attributed to my high expectations.

The first thing I noticed as I was reading were the errors. There were several instances where "to" was mixed up with "too", and it really threw me off. Every time I got up to one of those errors, it jarred me out of the story. Even the dedication misused grammar ("To Brent: who brightens my day just by looking at him"). I know my grammar isn't perfect, but I would expect a published book to be more polished.

The characters didn't seem as developed as I would have liked them to be. Caleb and Maggie both seemed pretty flat, like cardboard cut-outs just placed in the story. They were uninteresting and dull, and neither of their POVs were particularly unique. Much of this book felt contrived and unrealistic, but especially the romance. I'm all for the whole forbidden romance angle, but it felt very rough going from the characters hating each other to loving each other. If someone left me dying in the street after hitting me with a car, and essentially screwed up my life, there is no chance I would want much to do with him. Maggie feels similarly in the beginning, but then all of a sudden she's in love with him. 

The ending was strange and abrupt, especially with that final plot twist. It kind of felt like a plot twist, and I don't understand why Caleb never told Maggie what really happened that night. I don't want to read the sequel, and while I probably will try to read Perfect Chemistry at some point (I hear the writing's better in that series), I was quite disappointed with Leaving Paradise

All in all, this isn't a book I would recommend unless you really enjoy Simone Elkeles's writing.

Plot - 4/5 
Writing - 2/5
Characters - 2/5
Impact - 1/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5

Overall - 44% = C-

In My Mailbox (8)

I reserved some (extremely anticipated) books from the library, but they haven't come yet, unfortunately. Instead I just got one lone book, but I've been waiting long enough for this one (who keeps reserving the Pretty Little Liars books right before I do? D:) to call this week exciting!

Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya . . . as much more than a friend. Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is making her sick. And their most horrible secret yet is so scandalous that the truth would ruin them forever.

And why shouldn't I tell? They deserve to lose it all. With every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message I send, I'll be taking these pretty little liars down. Trust me, I've got enough dirt to bury them alive.

by Sara Shepard. I was in love with the first book, so I dived into this as soon as I got it. I'm not quite halfway, but I can already tell this is just as amazing as the first!

What did you get in your mailbox? Leave me a link and I'll go check it out :) 

8 Facts of My Week

(PS: Lots of pictures in this post. Hope you like them!)

1. Some of you may know that I started freshman year at a new high school about a month ago. It is absolutely wonderful. Everyone is ridiculously nice to the point where people leave their laptops charging in the halls and nothing gets stolen, ever. And, you know, I'm making friends. Always helpful, that. The problem is that as I'm making friends, some of my old friends are moving away. I mean, not literally. But people I used to be quite close to are now sort of distant, and I've only known my new friends for a month so I'm at this awkward stage where I don't have a lot of people to talk to.

2. Homework. I'm drowning in it. At the beginning of the year I was quite certain that I would be all super-organized and everything, but now I actually managed to have a late assignment not because I forgot to do it, or didn't do it, or left it at home or something. I brought it to class the day it was due. Our teacher announced that we all have to bring our assignments to a pile on her desk. I was scribbling down the next assignment in my planner, absent-mindedly taking my stapled papers out of my binder, and then walked up to my teacher to clarify something about the next homework. Satisfied, I walked back to my desk.

Put my planner in my bag. Opened my binder. Noticed some papers were loose and put them back in.

Including the assignment.

This is funny and depressing at the same time.

3. I caught a cold, along with everyone else at my school, except unlike everyone else, my voice is now all horrible and raspy. Guess who had to give several presentations and speeches? Very long presentations and speeches, I might add.

4. Not all was lost this week! I did get a very shiny new laptop that's all pretty and dark red (I wanted dark blue, but they were out of that color). It's very, um, tiny, and not quite set up yet (my dad - a computer technician - hasn't trusted me to do very much on any computer at all ever since The Vitamin Water Incident), but I'm sure it's wonderful all the same. At long last I will no longer have an excuse to be playing air hockey and ping pong and card games during my free periods instead of doing homework. (The laptop I'm typing on is too old to survive being at school without getting charged every twenty-six seconds.)

5. Yesterday was Hug A Short Asian day! Seeing as I go to a public magnet, the halls are filled with Asians, and where there are Asians, there are also short Asians. Just for kicks, I went up to all the tall Asians I know and said, "Hey, it's hug a short Asian day! You're short! You're Asian! Hug!" One of them was only half an inch taller than me and apparently very sensitive because he insisted on hugging me instead of me hugging him. I'm not sure what the difference is, but hey, I don't mind.

6. There are some truly awesome tissue boxes out there. Remember when I said I'm sick? This involved me raiding the house for tissues, and why would I use those boring blue floral boxes where I have a marvelous light green one decorated with adorable drawings of viruses? As I type this, there are round creatures and slug-like creatures and little froggy-jellyfish-things watching me with friendly smiles and googly eyes. I have a new appreciation for tissue box manufacturers.

7. There's a teacher at our school who, every morning, has the unfortunate job of greeting students. He stands in the hallway, swaying back and forth, and says, in the most doleful tone, "Good morning. Please make sure you have your IDs." At the end of that second sentence, his voice goes ever so slightly up, like he's asking a question - like he wants someone to say, "No! No, I will not make sure I have my ID!", just to spice things up a bit. I always feel so sorry for him, with his glassy stare and drooping head.

8. Speaking of IDs, I got mine recently. It's all nice and colorful, and then you get to the picture. The day they took the picture, of course, was the day when I was wearing one of those ratty old t-shirts I won in some math competition or other, with a lovely food stain right there near the collar. And my hair decided to go all flat and stringy and in my face, but not in my face enough to cover up my wide-eyed stare. I look stoned.

Incidentally, ID photos double as yearbook pictures. Wonderful, isn't it? :D

So how was your week? Did you get sick? Hug any short Asians? Had a terrible picture taken?

Book Blogger Hop (8)

This week the question is: What is your favorite beverage while reading/blogging, if any?

I used to love drinking a lot of cherry soda. It's sweet, it's yummy, and it's a pretty chemical-red color. I'd always have a couple cans next to me as I read or blogged or wrote, until I had my annual trip to the dentist.

He hmm'd and haw'd and took some x-rays and fiddled around before making two announcements. One, my wisdom teeth were growing in and that they were hurting (yes, he actually told me that as if I wasn't aware of the pain). And two, I might have to get a root canal if that cavity in already-once-filled-tooth got any larger.

He told me that second announcement as in a cheery and upbeat tone, like it was the most marvelous thing he got to tell anyone in his whole life. I smiled, thanked him, and promptly went home to floss my teeth until they bled and brush them until the toothbrush snapped in half and guzzled several gallons of mouthwash.

Oh yeah, and I threw out all the candy and cherry soda.

Now, a month or two later, I have a rather large bag of candy sitting next to me, and I sometimes floss, but I still don't drink cherry soda. Nope, only water for me.

If you're hopping by, please leave a link to your Book Blogger Hop post! Thanks :D

Thursday Wrap-Up (2)

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman
Entr@pment  by Michael Spooner

City of Glass by Clarissa Clare

White Cat by Holly Black
Coraline by Neil Gaimen

The Versatile Blogger Award

I won it twice over the weekend, once over at Friendly Reader Oh Yeah and another time at Book Noise. Yay! Right, so here's how it works. First you thank
the person (or in my case, people) who gave it to you, then list seven things about yourself, and then pass it on to some other bloggers!

1) I'm a shy, introverted person although a lot of people wouldn't know it. I tend to be a lot more outgoing on the Internet, especially when I chat with people, because it's easier for me to interact that way when it's not face-to-face and you can always claim "afk" if things get too awkward. At my new school, I forced myself to stop being so shy and so that's how I've been making friends. They all think I'm always outgoing and excitable and somewhat insane even though social situations still make me nervous.

2) I love math. I have yet to meet a person who loves both math and writing to the same extents I do, but I hope to, someday. My school (a public magnet) has an amazing math team, and there's no other way I'd like to spend my Saturdays.

3) You know those stories I tell on my blog? Like the elevator one, or the story about archery? I actually have a whole repertoire of those that I tell my friends. Most of them are a lot funnier when I can actually say them face-to-face rather than through text on a screen.

4) I have no fashion sense whatsoever. Until the end of last year, I didn't see what was wrong with always wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants to school. Except now of course, that previous wardrobe seems completely hideous to me and I'm trying to slowly change it into something better.

5) I'm half white and half Asian, but culturally wise I'm more Asian (if that makes any sense at all). Most of my friends are Asian, actually, although that's probably more because of the nature of my school than anything else. I LOVE HEAF, but I do wish fewer of those actually applied to me.

6) I space a lot. I once had a class where I remembered walking in, walking out, and nothing in between.

7) I love laughing. I can laugh at anything. When something bad happens (like, for example, finding out that in a group project, the guy who was supposed to hand in the thing forgot to bring it), after that moment where everyone's silent, I usually burst out laughing. Every dirty look I've gotten in my life has come from that sort of situation.

And now, to pass on the award!

The Writer's Hole
One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Recreate Cover Contest: Water Shaper

These are just so fun! This time the book is called Water Shaper, and it sounds very intriguing! I don't usually read fantasy, but this one just sounds so cool. This is my cover:

I'm pretty happy with it. What do you think?

The Summer I Turned Pretty: Review

Synopsis: Some summers are just destined to be pretty.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

Details: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, 276 pages, 4.07 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I read this around mid-September, as the summer was definitely fading, but this book transported me right back to balmy, carefree days. While the main focus was romance, the book did brush upon more serious topics, making it a little more than just a shallow story. The characters were all multi-dimensional and well-developed, and although the romantic plot was rather predictable, it was sweet, endearing, and moved at a good pace.

The one character I didn't like as much was Belly (short for Isabel, and I really hated that nickname). I could relate to her for the most part, but there were definitely times when she was petty and irritating. I was frustrated with her at times because she seemed so immature, but ultimately, I was able to root for her to the end. 

I was disappointed with the ending. It wasn't bad and it did work, but it felt like a cop-out. As I said, this plot was pretty predictable, but I was still hoping for a surprise twist. All in all, I liked the book. It didn't grab me as much as I hoped it would, and I'm not raring to get the next books in the series any time soon, but it's still worth a read if you want something light but not too light, or even if it's just a little too cold outside.

Plot - 2/5
Characters - 3.5/5
Writing - 4/5
Impact - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 2.5/5

Overall - 54% = C+

In My Mailbox (7)

I didn't get too many books this week, but I did get an awesome pair of rain boots and a brand-new laptop. Plus, my parents are considering buying me the most epic Halloween costume ever - I'm going to be a banana. A banana, people.

So, yes, I'd say this all more than makes up for the fact that I only got four books this week, which is a rather small load for me. Oh, and they're all from the library.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. This is another one everyone's read except me, so I'd better get a move on! The cover is absolutely gorgeous, though, don't you think? I don't really like paranormal romances much, and I think angels are kind of weird, but I'm pretty sure it's the law for YA book bloggers to read uber-popular books. Besides, the reviews were great. And did I mention the cover?

Entr@pment, a High School Comedy in Chat by Michael Spooner. I'm currently reading this one, and while it's pretty interesting, it's not as good as I hoped it would be. Still, the plot is definitely original and I like books that have different ways of telling stories - in this case, through chat. I especially like that the chat is realistic, too, and is more or less how people talk online without making it incomprehensible.

Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I've heard a lot of bad reviews about this one, but I decided to read it anyway, just to see how this really is.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I want to see the movie, but I figure I should read the book first, for once. I've always found that to be a better way, anyway.

What did you get in your mailbox? Do you ever read books just because everyone else has? What's better, in your opinion - watching the movie or reading the book first?

After School Nightmare: Review

Synopsis: You have just awakened to find your darkest, ugliest secret revealed to classmates who would do anything to destroy you. This is what's happened to Ichijou Mashiro, whose elite school education turns into the most horrifying experience of his life when he's enlisted by a mysterious school nurse to take an after-hours class. Only those who pass the class will graduate, and the only way for Mashiro to pass is to enter into a nightmare world... where his body and soul will be at the mercy of his worst enemies. Can Mashiro keep his life-long secret - that he is not truly a "he" nor entirely a "she" - or will he finally be "outted" in the most humiliating way possible? 

Details: After School Nightmare by Setona Mizushiro, 10 volumes, Manga
My Thoughts: This synopsis does not do this series justice at all. Every summary I've found on the Internet doesn't either. It makes the manga series sound like LGBTQ fiction - not that there's anything wrong with that (I've read some wonderful LGBTQ books), but this isn't like that. The main character may be half-boy, half-girl, but he (I'll just call Mashiro that for convenience's sake) is more than that. I can't reveal what it is without revealing Spoilers of Epic Proportions, however, but know that the story is way deeper and symbolic than it seems.

I really didn't expect much of After School Nightmare. I thought it might be an interesting read, a nice journey into manga (I typically watch anime instead), something to relax with. But trust me, this is definitely not the kind of thing you'd bring to the beach. After School Nightmare is riveting, emotional, complex, stark, chilling - practically everything except relaxing. When I got a volume from the library, I pounced on it right away, regardless of what I was reading (I dropped Mockingjay to read the ninth volume), and each one ends with a cliffhanger that leaves me in abject misery for the next few days. 

But what wonderful abject misery! I was thrilled whenever the next volume came, and reserved the one after that as soon as possible because I knew there would be a cliffhanger. The plot is full of incredible twists. Just when you're sure of something, or you think something is obvious, everything changes and you realize you're completely wrong. The subplots are rich and detailed, and come in nicely at the end, tying up all loose ends.

Oh, yeah, the ending? It. Was. Amazing. I tore through the tenth volume faster than any of the others, and the ending of the ending of the ending sent me into hysteria because I couldn't believe it ended like that and there'd be no other volume to tell me what would happen next. Somehow, the author managed to give us a cliffhanger ending to the series that wasn't even really a cliffhanger because everything was resolved but it's still enough to drive you completely INSANE.

So the premise might sound sort of weird or off-putting or uninteresting, but trust me when I say the manga isn't, at all. Well, it is kind of weird but in a unique, wonderful way, and even if you've never read manga or watched anime before in your life, you have to read this. Even if you despise graphic novels, you have to read this. Amazing writing is amazing writing no matter what shape or form it's in, and besides, the drawings and layouts are perfect for the beginning manga reader.

And if you're still not sure if you want to read this or not... there is an extremely swoon-worthy male in here. He defies all YA stereotypes in a million different ways, but oh my god, he is amazing. ;)

Plot - 5/5
Characters - 4.5/5 
Writing - 5/5
Impact - 4/5
Inability to put it down - 5/5

Overall - 94% = A+