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Mental Health Tests

One day I was bored and decided to try out all those mental health tests, certain that I would show up was a normal, healthy person.

Yeah, right.

I started with an "Anxiety Screening Test". As I answered the questions, I became more and more confident of my distinct lack of anxiety. "I'm going to pass this test for sure," I thought to myself.

And then I got the results.

I passed, all right. Except...

You have answered this anxiety screening in such a way as to suggest that you are not likely currently suffering from an anxiety disorder. However, this little degree of anxiety may actually be a sign of too little anxiety in your life. Individuals who score in this low range sometimes indicate that they may be detached from themselves, others, or their environment. Typically this is not healthy for most and should be avoided. You can help yourself by making a more concerted effort to become reattached to significant others and your environment. You should not take this as a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment in any way, though.

I took this to mean, "OH MY GOD YOU'RE A PSYCHOPATH!!!!" A little concerned, I decided to take another test, this time going for the "Autism/Asperger's Test". After all, I'm a little anti-social, but not autistic or anything.

That's what I thought, anyway. I got that I am quite possibly autistic given my ineptitude in social situations. Not that I should take it as a diagnosis or anything.

By then I started to get concerned. I mean, these tests are saying I'm an autistic psychopath! I decided to try a "Am I Manic?" Quiz. Even if perhaps I don't feel emotions and I can't understand other people, surely I'm not manic. Manic people are the ones that run around in fits of ecstasy frothing at the mouths, right?

Turns out I'm bordering on a manic episode. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I decided to take one last test, a "Do I Need Therapy?" one. And this is what I got:
It would be advisable and likely beneficial for you to seek further diagnosis from an experienced, trained mental health professional soon to help you with the problem behaviors and feelings you're experiencing.
You can often obtain a referral for a qualified professional in your area from your family doctor or by consulting your employer's insurance plan. We do not make recommendations for specific mental healthcare professionals.

I am getting a bit worried here. I always thought I was a relatively normal girl, not a manic, autistic psychopath in desperate need of psychotherapy. Whoops?

YA Historical Fiction Challenge

I used to hate reading historical fiction, but now I think I'm starting to really enjoy it! So, I'm joining the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, and you can too, over at YA Bliss.

I'm doing Level 2 - 10 historical fiction books (it feels really weird to say "fiction book", but I don't think I can avoid it here) in 2011. Here are my choices!

1. The Lost Crown by Sarah Miller
2. Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury
3. Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
4. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
5. Crusade by Linda Press Wulf
6. Father of Lies by Ann Turner
7. Chime by Franny Billingsley
8. Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn
9. The Vespetine by Saundra Mitchell
10. Once Every Never by Lesley Livingston

Are you doing the challenge?

Less Posting

I'm not sure how this will work - I might have time to blog 7 days a week like usual, I might not. I'm going through what's called "Hell Month" at my school, which is the three weeks surrounding the end of a trimester when the hugest piles of homework descends on you.

Case in point? Yesterday my teacher assigned a twenty-page paper. Due Monday. That's not even all of it, but I won't go into the myriad of labs and presentations and projects and tests and regular assignments due Monday as well.

It's a holiday. I have STUFF to do - parties and Harry Potter and the American Idiot Broadway show. So I might have to do less blogging in order to have more time to complete homework. This should end in a week or so.

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving, though!

White Cat: Review

Synopsis: Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

Details: White Cat by Holly Black, 310 pages, 3.97 stars

Why I Picked This Up: I didn't want to at first simply because I didn't like the cover. It didn't seem like a very good one (I still don't really like it), and the first review I'd read of it was less than stellar. However, the next handful I came across all had very enthusiastic things to say about it, so I thought it couldn't be that bad and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did!

Characters: I found Cassel to be a fascinating character. His whole family was one of conmen, each curse working to get what they want. His mother, for example, can make people feel emotions, and when he was younger, instead of traditional punishments like getting grounded, she would make him feel intense guilt or sadness. However, Cassel doesn't have any of those gifts and so he's the only "normal" one - but by being normal, he's really completely different from all his other family members.

Still, Cassel is good at conning people and even ran a gambling system at his school for quite a decent profit. What I like most about him is that he's a fantastic male POV. He isn't like a lot of male characters dominating YA - he doesn't fall into one of three stereotypes (the bad boy with a heart of gold, the sweet boy-next-door, or the tortured loner), and is instead his own personality.

Better yet, Cassel is funny. He makes all these witty remarks as you read that can make you smile, but it doesn't distract you from the more serious content of White Cat. His voice was well done, and I enjoyed reading it.

Plot: This book had a tight, well-crafted plot that was twistier than a snake greased with french fries on a mountain composed of butter sticks. (I dare you to come up with a better simile. No, seriously. Put it in the comments!) It had me guessing at every turn, but the results surprised me nearly every time.

I loved the story background, too. Holly Black has proved her originality previously, like in her Spiderwick Chronicles (which I adored as a kid), but the lore of this world still startled me with how unique it was. Someone has mentioned to me that the book is actually a retelling of a lesser-known fairy tale called "The White Cat", although I would suggest you read it after the book to avoid getting spoilers. Even then, this is still an extremely creative retelling; I hadn't even noticed the fairy tale elements when I first read it.

The only thing I didn't really like was how the pacing felt a bit wrong, which threw me off from time to time.

Cover: I really dislike this cover. It actually repelled me from the book in the beginning. I don't like how the model's eyes are covered with that random red smoke, and both fonts don't seem to work very well with the story. The cursive-y one at the top seems to suggest this is a very light-hearted story, and the one at the bottom looks like it belongs on a scroll of papyrus. I also never really liked it when the author's name was a million times bigger than the title.

First Line: I wake up barefoot, standing on cold slate tiles.

Overall: Cassel was an excellent male character, with a POV that doesn't betray the fact that the author is female at all. The plot is tight and well-crafted, with plenty of twists to make you turning pages. Although the pacing seemed to be off, this was a fantastic book I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy.

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

Overall - 80% = A-

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I'm taking it! It sounds like fun, and I already have a ton of 2011 books on my to-read list anyway. You can sign up over at The Story Siren if you want to participate too.

Here are the books I'm planning to read. Bold means I read it.

1. So Shelly by Ty Roth (read in April)
2. XVI by Julia Carr (read in February)
3. Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly (read in March)
4. Across the Universe by Beth Revis (read in April)
5. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
6. Entangled by Cat Clarke
7. Divergent by Veronica Roth (read in February)
8. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
9. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
10. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
11. The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
12. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
13. Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
14. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
15. Possession by Elana Johnson
16. The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
17. Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
18. Awaken by Kate Kacvinsky
19. Wildefire by Karsten Knight
20. Haven by Kristi Cook
21. Angelfire by Alison Courtney Moulton (read in April)
22. The Weight of Bones by Janet Gurtler
23. Jersey Tomatoes Are The Best by Maria Padian (read in March)
24. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
25. Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan
26. Bumped by Megan McCafferty (read in April)
27. Popular by Alissa Grosso
28. Clarity by Kim Harrington
29. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (read in March)
30. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
31. Wither by Lauren Stefano (read in April)
32. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (read in April)
33. The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder (read in February)
34. The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
35. Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor
36. Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese
37. Vicious Little Darlings by Katherine Easer
38. Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
39. The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
40. The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
41. Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif
42. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik
43. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
44. Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Why yes, I realize how long this list is. But I read between 150 and 250 books a year (I don't actually have heaping amounts of free time, but I do have more than the average mother-of-six-million-children-with-a-day-job-and-writer-on-the-side, and I have learned over the years how to find time for reading), and these are already on my to-read list, so I think I should have no problem doing this challenge.

Are you doing this as well? What books do you plan to read and how many?

Infinite Days: Review

Synopsis: Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.

Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm? 

Details: Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel, 310 pages, 4.09 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: I didn't want to at first. I mean, another vampire book? The last time I tried another vampire book, it was so awful I had to put it down after the first forty-five pages, but I'd wanted to get rid of it after the first page. (Not going to say the title or author, of course, because I don't want to bash a specific book like that.) But almost every review I read raved about how awesome it was, how amazing, how beautiful, and how unlike anything else it was. Plus, that cover? It's g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. 

Characters: Lenah was phenomenal. This is definitely the best-written character I've read in such a long time - she was well-developed, honest, and so imperfect. I loved that the author didn't shy away from all the evil things she did before, all the murders and tortures and cruelties, and yet made her a sympathetic character without making everything seem sugar-coated and false. She was sorrowful and intelligent and mature.

Although I wouldn't call it depressing, I could feel her intense desire to be human again, to feel, both physically and emotionally, and to love. She wanted it more than anything, and when I read her narration, I felt an aching myself, because I was so completely placed in her shoes. And despite all the emotions I felt for her, she wasn't self-pitying at all. She didn't agonize and mope around about all the things she'd done.

I didn't like Justin that much, though. It wasn't like I hated him or even disliked his character, it was more that he never really had a developed personality. The same went for the minor characters, like the so-called "Three Piece", which was a group of popular girls. That was just sort of cliche and shallow and vain. There are mean popular girls, and there are cliques, but even people like those have more substance to them. Pretty Little Liars, for instance, illustrates this extremely well.

I had issues with Tony as well. He was nice in the beginning, because he was different and funny and relateable, and his interest in the arts was a good touch. Although I found it cliche that he had a crush on Lenah, I could let it slide.  What really bothered me was the stalker tendencies. Stalking girls - taking a bajillion photos of them and the like - is not normal. It's dangerous, it's sick, and it's wrong. 

Plot: Honestly, I have to say, the writing in this book was powerful. So many parts were practically like poetry, because they were so beautiful and haunting and heartbreaking. I loved this book, and it was so raw and, frankly, inspiring to me. There are nothing like gorgeous words to get the cogs in my brain turning, and this book was spectacular for that.

The flashbacks were well juxtaposed with the main plotline, and I felt that nearly everything was performed excellently in Infinite Days. The only thing I didn't like was the romance between Lenah and Justin. I could see Lenah and Rhode - as two vampires, they were in true, deep, profound love and they were perfect - but Lenah and Justin felt strange, random, and way too fast. 

I just can't see someone like Lenah, someone who's half a millenium old and therefore wise and mature, someone who's gone through so much, falling in love with a sixteen-year-old boy. The difference in maturity between a sixteen-year-old boy and, say, a fourteen-year-old girl is slight. The difference in maturity between a sixteen-year-old boy and a sixteen-year-old girl is slight. (All this depending, of course, on the boy and girl in question.) The difference between a sixteen-year-old boy and a five-hundred-year-old girl? Yeah, that's a lot bigger. I can't see them bridging the maturity gap.

First Line: [Unavailable.]

Cover: I love this cover. The colors in the eye are stunning, and the single tear is the perfect touch, and also actually means something, which you find out when you read it. I like the shine to the girl's skin, because it's such a beautiful, smooth color that makes the eye stand out even more. The only thing I don't like are the bangs at the top, because they feel sort of random.

Overall: The romance was lacking and some minor characters could use more work, but otherwise, this was a fantastic read that I highly, highly recommend. Lenah was a true, powerful character with a raw and inspiring story to tell, and the prose was heartbreakingly beautiful.

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

Total - 82% = A-

In My Mailbox (13)

I had an excellent load! I'm not sure I'll even need to get anything else during the next five days.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. This book sounds quite cute! It's about a girl named Amy Curry whose father recently died in a car crash, and her mom wants them to move from California to Connecticut. She decides to go on a cross-country road trip to escape from everything, but then it turns out that Roger - the son of a family friend who she hasn't seen in years - is going with her. Of course Amy is unhappy that she has to go around the country with someone she doesn't even really know, but then it turns out that she's developing a crush on him. The romance sounds absolutely adorable, but with some seriousness as well, judging by the issues Amy is struggling with.

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. I was a little unsure of this one because it sounded a lot like Dead Beautiful (which I liked, I guess, but wasn't really something I'd want to read again in the form of another book), but the reviews were so good, I decided I might as well give it a try. A girl named Phe is grieving over her sister's horrible death. She reads her sister's last diary entry and finds that a town called "Shadow Hills" is mentioned, so she decides to leave her Los Angeles life and go to a boarding school in that town. However, there are bizarre things there that just don't add up, like an unexplained epidemic many years ago, and the fact that the citizens are able to bend metal. This book seems deliciously creepy, although I don't really like the sound of her romance with a guy who also harbors dark secrets.

Omnitopia Dawn by Diana Duane. How could I resist this gorgeous cover? It looks absolutely thrilling and has excellent ratings, nearly as high as the first Harry Potter book. Unfortunately, the only synopsis we get is "a near-future techno-thriller". But hey, that sounds pretty good. I assume "near-future" means a dystopian that doesn't take place too far from now, and judging from both the cover and the sparse description, technology is involved. Sounds awesome to me!

Crash Test Love by Ted Michael. This one seems so incredible. Henry doesn't want a girlfriend, but he's great with getting them to his car's backseat. Garrett was recently dumped by her boyfriend when she moved, so she feels that she just needs some good friends instead of another boyfriend. The clique at her new school, luckily for her, want her in their group, but all she has to do is pass a test - get Henry to take her to a Sweet Sixteen, and then dump him in front of everyone. But as Garrett starts seducing Henry, she finds herself falling for him just as hard as he falls for her. I can't wait!

8 Facts of My Week (5)

1. Meh, typical. I got back the history test I labored so much over and only got an 87, so now I basically have to ace my presentation to get at least an A- so my GPA doesn't die a bloody death. Grades have been consuming nearly every thought for the past week, because the trimester's ending soon, so you know what this is - Hell Week. I just have to survive until Thursday, and then Tri 1 ends. According to my mom, I talk in my sleep about my various worries of the classes I'm having trouble in (History, English, Math, Chemistry) and what I have to get on what in order to get an A. (And yes, I appreciate the irony that the two middle classes are what should be, by all rights, my best. Yet somehow I'm getting A-'s. Meh.)

2. HARRY POTTER MOVIE. My parents wouldn't let me see it on Friday (and as much as I complained to my friends about it, I do understand why - it is Hell Week, and I do have a crapload of homework to handle), but I'm going with friends next Saturday.

3. Math competition tomorrow at Princeton. I have to leave the house at 6:00 in the morning to get to the bus on time. SIX O'CLOCK. ON A SATURDAY. That should be illegal. This means I'll have to wake up at 5:20, which is earlier than I wake up on weekdays. Blah. (And yes, I'm writing this on Friday night.)

4. I have some horrible ill fortune in getting entangled in awkward situations. Yesterday morning, for instance, I went to what's known as the Breezeway, which is basically a bunch of awesome benches next to really huge windows, which let in lots of light hence the name. (Although it's rather dark that early.) I still had ten minutes before homeroom, so I figured I'd get some work done that was due Wednesday instead of socializing like usual. (As much as we geeks can socialize, anyway.) So there I was, doing my work and listening to my iPod, where suddenly someone said, "Thank you for coming, everyone!" I froze and slowly looked up, to see at least twenty people standing in a circle, which I was included in.

Yeah. Somehow I ended up in some club meeting. There was no way for me to leave without breaking the circle, which seemed even more awkward than hunching over and doing work. This is the fourth time this has happened this year. I must find some better place to do work.

5. I stabbed Crush in the skull with a pencil. By accident, of course. We were talking (or he was, and I was hyperventilating), and I was spinning my pencil as I usually do, when it flew out of my fingers and embedded in his head.

"Oh God! Are you okay?" I cried, crouching down by him.

He smiled weakly. "Y-yeah, I'm fine." He gingerly rubbed his hair around the area and then attempted to pull out the pencil, wincing. It didn't budge. "Really stuck in there, huh?" he said, with a nervous chuckle.

"Let me try," I said, stepping forward, wrapping both hands around the pencil, and yanking as hard as I could. Nothing. I pulled as hard as I could, ignoring his screams of agony.

At last I finally stopped, rivulets of sweat streaking down my face, panting. "It might have moved a little bit." I rubbed my face with my hands and looked back up. "Here, I'll try ag-"

He was gone. But, you know, he was probably really impressed by my strength, seeing how deep I was able to plunge the pencil into his brain. That's attractive... right?

6. Sleep. I need it.

7. Last week, I went down town with my best friend from elementary school who I've kind of grown apart from. Well. More than kind of. Things got quite awkward at points. She seems different than I remember. We used to fall into these amazing laughing fits that would last forever and we wouldn't be able to breathe and we'd be gasping and clutching our sides, and whenever we had play dates (yeah, this was way back), I'd always leave with my stomach aching from so much laughing. I miss that.

8. Whose great idea was wisdom teeth? THEY HURT.

Search Keywords

I gotta say, some of you guys search for weird things to get here. I love checking this page on Google Analytics, that, along with countries and views, is pretty much the only things I even look at. Here are some of the best ones I've seen:

"Ate all my mail box." Yeah, I feel sorry for that guy. He probably padded out of bed on a Saturday morning to get the mail, realized he was really hungry, and devoured his mail box. Along with all the icky cobwebs and leaves inside, and the mail. I bet there's an electric bill hanging out down there in his stomach. Can you imagine the phone call to the company? "Yeah, so, um, I may have accidentally eaten my bill." He probably googled "ate all my mail box" so he could figure out what to do, and instead ended up reading about some books this random girl got from the library.

"Writers are nerds". Er... whoops?

"Blogspot pathologically optimistic Shannon". Maybe this girl somewhere really wanted to read a blog by someone named Shannon who was pathologically optimistic so that she could cheer herself up, and ended up reading a review for a really sad book and got that from the library, which only depressed her further. I'm sorry.

"City of Bones review guy." Yup, that's me.

"Don't trust love". A guy probably just broke up with his girlfriend and googled "don't trust love", hoping maybe for something inspirational or something to make him feel better, and then found himself reading about some girl who can't stop walking into buses.

"Mail box making tips for Maya". Maya probably broke her mail box by accident when she fell on it, so the obvious solution was to make her own. Clearly there would be a website that had mail-box-making tips just for her! Or perhaps I'm misinterpreting this, and she wanted a mail box to make tips for her. That's pretty likely too.

"Pedophilia literature." Pshhh, how silly for a search that like that to come to my blog. I don't have pedophilia literature! Not at all! What a funny joke! * nervous laughter *

"Tell the truth cure compulsive lying asian parents disappointment." Yeah, this pretty much just says it all.

"" Close enough. My Words Ate Me, Love, same thing.

The Duff: Review

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. 

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. 

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone. 

Details: The Duff by Kody Keplinger, 288 pages, 4.04 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: I knew I wanted this the first time I laid eyes on the cover. I knew I wanted it even more when I read the synopsis. And I knew I absolutely, one-hundred-percent had to have it when I saw it wasn't going to come out for, like, a million years. It didn't help that I've probably read at least six thousand reviews of this book since then, each and every one glowing. But finally - finally! - I got my hands on this one. 

Characters: Bianca is absolutely amazing. She's sarcastic, cynical, drenched with wit, and one hundred percent honest. She seems like, by all rights, she should be a jerk, but she's not because she's also loyal and cares about her friends. And while she is definitely strong, she's also insecure, just like pretty much every teen girl out there. She's always felt less pretty, less skinny than her gorgeous friends, but it didn't really hit her until she was labeled the Duff - the designated ugly fat friend.

Oh yeah, and her voice? Completely fantastic. Bianca doesn't just have a voice, the pages leak voice. Every word is sopped with it, each one unmistakably hers. She's smart and even funny at times, while still maintaining the seriousness of the story. 

Of course, no analysis of characters is complete without talking about Wesley. He's that guy who's the big bad wolf in so many YA stories - the guy who can't keep his hands off every mildly attractive girl who walks past him. He's disgusting and repulsive and so, so hot. The calculating jerkwad only decided to talk to Bianca because he wanted a shot at her friends, and he told her so, too. 

And yet, there's more to him than that. He has depth to him, and he matured. Don't get me wrong, by the end of the book, he hadn't exactly transformed into Prince Charming of Celibacy, but he was a little different. More grown up. He knew what he was doing had real consequences, and it made him the teensiest bit more likeable. 

Plot: Obviously awesome. Bianca's life is dissolving and there's nothing she can do except try to hold it together, to keep everything from crumbling in her hands. And while all that's going on, she has to deal with that awful Wesley Rush. Yet even though I kept thinking there was no way she should get it together with Wesley, that what she was doing with him was wrong (how could you do it with someone who calls you fat and ugly?), I couldn't help hoping they would end up together.

This is an edgy book. It has sex scenes that the author was clearly not afraid to write, and so it's more for a mature teen audience - not something you'd want to hand to a tween. 

Cover: Love it! Those yellow letters don't seem like they would work and yet they do, because they're so bright they pop, but in a good way. I like the smaller print of "Designated Ugly Fat Friend", and especially the model they chose. The girl on the cover seems normal, not a supermodel like so many other books. 

First Line: [Unavailable.]

Overall: This is one of the best reads I've gone through this year. The romance is amazing and unique and edgy, the characters are real and honest and funny, and even the whole concept is exciting. Every bad review I've read of this was basically because it was too edgy for that reviewer's tastes, so if you think the sex scenes aren't for you (they're really not graphic, but there are a lot of them), you probably should avoid this one.

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

Total - 92% = A

Bad Decisions Part 2

Lockers are an undeniable part of school life. They're supposedly useful, because you can throw your books and things there which saves you from carrying five hundred pounds of stuff, but then you have to consider all the problems that come along with it.

Like the lock. Of course you want to lock your locker so no one breaks in and steals your iPod (though why you wouldn't merely carry your iPod around with you in your purse or backpack or whatnot is beyond me), but is it really worth the hassle? I have a long history of forgetting my locker combination at random points. It doesn't matter if I've opened it forty times that morning, by afternoon I probably won't remember the numbers. Then comes the awful period of time where you can't get to any of your books and your teachers tut-tut at you and mark you down for not being prepared and the little gremlins taught you with their sing-songy voices - oh. Yeah. That last one might just be me.

But really, the biggest problem of lockers would have to be the fact that they are just so long and thin, you're tempted to just see if you can fit in one. I mean, I can't see why stepping into something with a remarkable resemblance to a coffin would be appealing, but it just is. It's one of those mysteries of life that ought to be answered in those books for little kids, along with "Where do the dust bunnies come from?" and "Why is Mommy grouchy for a week once a month?"

I, of course, am wonderful at resisting the temptation. I can walk down the hallway and glance at people slipping into lockers and closing the door, and merely smile and walk one.

No, I lied. I thought it would be an epic idea to see if I could fit in one while my friends watched, so I slipped inside and hunched over a bit and lo and behold, I could!

"Close the door," I said excitedly.

My friends exchanged a look (in hindsight, this should have been a warning sign) and then said slowly, "Suuuure," before closing the door.

"Wow!" you could hear my muffled voice exclaim. "I really can fit!... Okay, I'm ready to come out now... Guys?"

Hush, Hush: Review

Synopsis: For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. 

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Details: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, 391 pages, 4.04 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: Mostly because of the cover. I've never been really into vampires and werewolves and angels and the like, but the cover was just so pretty. I kind of anticipated that this wouldn't be the most original book in the world, and yet there were so many fantastic, glowing reviews out there, I couldn't resist.

Characters: Nora irritated me to no end. I don't even know where to begin with this. She jumped to crazy, ridiculous conclusions over and over again, and then when something has a really obvious  explanation, she acts completely stupid and clueless. It was so frustrating having to watch her somehow come up with something and then act on it straight away, only to not draw any conclusions whatsoever when actual evidence presents itself.

I also hated her indecisiveness. On the one hand, she spent much of the book thinking that Patch was out to get her and that he was a dangerous stalker who was somehow transmitting thoughts to her mind, and then randomly, she begins to trust him. It was like Nora didn't even exist as a character and was just a bunch of different personalities coming out at different times. It's one thing when you don't like a character, and another when that character appears to be schizophrenic.

Patch wasn't that great, either. First, there's his name - I think I named my teddy bear "Patch" when I was four, so every time I was supposed to be reading about some mysterious, sexy, dark angel, I kept picturing my teddy bear. The result? I'm pretty sure I will never be able to see a teddy bear without getting chills ever again.

Let's review the reasons why I'm now scarred for life with such cuddly stuffed animals. (1) Patch is a stalker. Big time. I mean, okay, it's not as bad as watching you sleep, but he wants to KILL her. Ol' Eddie Cullen just had the temptation to eat Bella, but he wasn't purposely out there to murder her. (2) Patch is a jerk. He treats Nora badly and tries to alienate her from her friends. While this might be all well and good if you want to kill her, it doesn't make for the best romantic relationship. Just saying.

Plot: I wouldn't call this the most original plot. It has that whole "mysterious-sexy-dark-paranormal-creature-who-is-also-your-lab-partner" thing going on. Not everyone's lab partners are like that, okay? My lab partner is a perfectly nice girl who plays soccer. Although it must be said that her laptop is quite sexy. Not that I would ever covet it. *ahem* Anyway, the romance was just sort of... bad. It felt like the author was trying too hard.

I do have to say that the whole mythology thing was pretty cool. I haven't read many angel books, but of the ones I have, Hush, Hush had the neatest explanations. Those parts were fascinating to me, with the whole concept of fallen angels and torn out wings. The other parts I liked were the ending, because by then things had gotten quite suspenseful and I was eager to find out what happened next.

Other than that, a lot of this just felt contrived. The romance, certain situations, the romance, choices made, and did I mention the romance?

Cover: Love the cover. I've said this, but that whole grayscale thing with the twisted, falling body, and the well-placed color at the top? It really works. I can't think of a single thing I don't like about it. Even the fonts feel like they're the absolute PERFECT choices.

First Line: [Unable, for some reason. We get practically every other line except the first one. But here, have the second.] Then he tugged on his boots and started for home.

Overall: This wasn't the best read I've had. The characters were lacking and the plot was contrived, not to mention the romance. The good sides of this book are the beautiful cover, the angel mythology, and certain suspenseful scenes.

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

Total - 48% = C

In My Mailbox (12)

Great load this week! The books I reserved finally came so I don't have to force myself to read slowly anymore.

Forget You by Jennifer Echols. I absolutely adored another book by this author, Going Too Far (which I recently reviewed). Honestly, it was probably the best romance I've ever read, and I don't even like romance that much usually. I'm looking forward to another hot but PG-13 romance! This one seems like it might be even better - it's about a girl, Zoey, who has problems at home, and then a "darkly handsome bad boy" (yes!) named Doug who makes fun of her at school. To hide all her issues, she tries to be the perfect everything, but one night she gets in a car crash, and she can't remember anything about that night. All she knows is that her boyfriend is avoiding her and Doug, of all people, acts like something happened between them. Doesn't that just sound completely epic?

Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce. I don't like werewolves all that much, but this one sounds different, since it's basically an awesome play on Little Red Riding Hood, where instead of being tricked and eaten by the wolf, they slay werewolves. It was described as a "dark, taut fairy tale" which is right up my alley, and sisterhood seems to be one of the main themes. I've always wanted a sister, especially when I was a little kid, so books where there are sisters with a strong bond fascinate me. Plus, the love interest is a woodsman named Silas who's "deadly with an ax" (sounds good to me!) but she can't fall in love with him without jeopardizing everything she's worked for. I'm excited!

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy. I figured that along with these dark retellings of fairy tales and intense romances, I needed something just a little bit lighter. This book still seems to have its serious side, but I don't think it's as heavy as the other two. It's about a girl named Jess who's invited to join a super-secret society of popular girls who spend their time vanquishing mean girls. Isn't that just an awesome concept? Even better, Jess finally gets a chance at being popular and getting her crush, but then she discovers what's really powering the Cinderella Society - and they want her to do a mission that could make her lose everything. The description ends with those amazing line: "What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?" This sounds like awesome-ness!

Annexed by Sharon Dogar. Some historical fiction is thrown in this week to shake things up! I don't read that genre very much because I used to dislike it, but I'm starting to rediscover this so I'm more open to reading it. Last year, we did  a unit in English on Anne Frank (though for some reason, we read some play about it instead of her diary, which disappointed me), and it was probably my favorite unit of the whole year. Of course, this book isn't just another Anne Frank retelling - this one is all about the boy with her, Peter, which I think is a great idea! We rarely hear about him, so it'll be interesting to see how the author pulled this off.

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler. And finally for some fantasy! (I told you I had a great load this week - very well-rounded.) The synopsis kind of confused me a little, but from what I gather, it's about a seventeen-year-old anorexic girl who has to face famine. This seems like a unique idea; I've read books about anorexia, and books about famine, but never both. I'm interested to see how a girl who inflicts starvation on herself is affected by seeing people who have no choice, and I wonder how those people will react to her. I haven't exactly heard the best things about this book, but it sounds intriguing enough for me to give it a try. 

8 Facts of My Week (4)

1. While walking through the rows of buses at my school with my friends (yeah, welcome to a magnet school, where you will never be able to find your bus), I walked into a bus, laughed, and promptly walked into it again. After a laughing fit that may or may not have involved us gasping on the ground, I got up and, with exaggerated care, did a wide circle around it.

I then slammed into the bus next to it.

2. Boys are freaking confusing. Why can't they just say what they MEAN? Why is this so hard? YA NOVELS HAVE NOT PREPARED ME FOR THIS.

3. I think I may have actually not failed that French-Indian War test. Some questions at the end were pretty tricky (I had to identify stuff on a map, which was not mentioned on the list of things that we were supposed to study, and maps and I don't get along), but overall it was... okay. The first half was easy. Only one part in the middle was actually hard.

4. This has been one of the most stressful weeks since school started. I had five different assignments due on Wednesday, each one requiring work with a partner. Let me give you an actual exchange between one of my partners.

Me: Oh, hey, so we need to work on that graph thing since it's sort of due today...
Partner: No.
Me: ...huh?
Partner: Do it yourself. I hate that [bleep].
Me: Er. It's sort of a partner thing.
Partner: No [bleep]ing [bleep].
Me: ...Is this a joke? We seriously have to do this.
Partner: [bleep] you, do that [bleep] yourself.

What. The. Heck. (And believe me, I was thinking much worse, but I know some of the readers here are uncomfortable with cursing, so you can just imagine it.)

5. I'm nervous for reasons that are way too personal to share on a blog, but oh God, I'm so scared. If you guys have any links to a pick-me-up, I will love you FOREVER.

6. I've always known I'm a bad singer. My mom's amazing, but I got all my musical talent from my tone-deaf dad, so it's never been a secret or anything. But yesterday, I reached an all time low. Some friends and I were singing along to a Panic! At the Disco song (from the first album, of course), and as I was listening to us, I wondered where that awful, shrill, loud noise was coming from, and thought it might be the fire alarm.

Then it struck that was my singing voice.

I think I'll be taking Introduction to JAVA Programming this trimester instead of Choir.

7. We Heart It is one of my favorite sites now. The photos are so inspirational. <3

8. Glee is amazing. I borrowed the first season DVD from the library, and I'm loving it so much more than I thought I would. And seriously, Puck is so hot. He's a bad boy but with a sensitive side, too.

Why I Hate the French-Indian War

I'm sure school would be fun and all that if it wasn't for tests. And homework. But mostly tests. See, with homework, at least there's a definite end to it. You answer the questions, you solve that last problem, and bada bing bada boom, you're done. But with studying, there's always that extra "oh my flipping God, I am going to fail if I don't study MORE" thing going on.

So let's take my upcoming history test. (I'm writing this Sunday afternoon, but by the time you read this, I'll have already taken it.) It's on the French-Indian War, which is quite possibly the stupidest name for a war ever. The Anglo-Powhatan Wars, for instance, were decent because it actually told you what the war was all about. You won't see "Who fought in the Anglo-Powhatan Wars?" and spend twenty minutes trying to figure it out because duh, it was between the English and the Powhatan tribes.

But French-Indian War? Not that simple. The French and Indians were allies, so why the heck wouldn't it be called "The French-British War" or something? And why couldn't the war be simpler? Did they really have to run around being all complicated with their fancy battles and sieges and forts and commanders? Couldn't some British guy have run up to a French dude, poked him, and signed the Treaty of Paris?

That would be nice and easy to learn, although I'm sure my teacher would still find a way to make the test difficult:

#1. Write nine paragraphs (twenty to thirty sentences each) deconstructing the poke that started and ended the French-British War. Include detailed diagrams of every fleeting facial expression both parties had. Worth 150 points.

#2. What countries were involved in the French-British War? Worth 0.5 points.

And what's up with that dude Jenkins? He gets his ear chopped off and then sends it to the King of England? I can't imagine what it was like for old James to unwrap the package, thinking maybe it's some fresh-clipped tulips, and finds a festering, decomposing hunk of skin. And what did Jenkins write as a note?

Sup, James-y! This guy cut off my ear, and needless to say, I won't be bidding him "good morning" anymore. Anyway, I thought you'd like to see, so I sent you it. Isn't it neat how some parts are all blue-ish gray while others are more of a purpley green? Although by the time you get it, the whole thing will probably be black-mottled orange. I have a pretty epic ear. 

I wonder how James reacted, but I can pretty much imagine. First, a dramatic song started playing in the background, like those political-type movies where the president receives some terrorist threat or something. Then, a steely look passed into his eyes, and he squared his jaw, clenching his fists by his side. He raised one trembling finger, lifted his chin, and said in a low, strong voice, "The time has come." The first words come out all whispery but then they get louder until he shouts "COME!" And his guards snap into action.

I wouldn't really know, though. As I started studying for this test, I opened my binder. The first few pages were covered in cramped, meticulous writing that gradually got sloppier and less thorough, and then finally, the words "Austrian Succession" dithered into pages and pages of drawings of dinosaurs and teddy bears.

Thanks a lot, self, for the fantastic notes.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Review

Synopsis: She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding "Call of the Wild" episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, "Honestly, what is the point?" A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life--and they are all momentous--in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. No matter that her particular story takes place in England, the account of her experiences rings true across the ocean (and besides, "Georgia's Glossary" swiftly eradicates any language barriers). 

The author, Louise Rennison, is a British comedy writer and it shows. Whether Georgia is dealing with wearing a bra ("OK, it's a bit on the loose side and does ride up round my neck if I run for the bus"), pondering kissing and how to know which way to turn your head ("You don't want to be bobbing around like pigeons for hours"), or managing the results of an overzealous eyebrow-plucking episode ("Obviously, now I have to stay in forever"), she always cracks us up. Georgia struggles with the myriad issues facing teen girls--boys, of course being at the forefront--but she does it with such humor and honesty it almost seems like a good time. This refreshingly funny book is ripe for a sequel, which readers will await in droves.
Details: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, 247 pages, 3.87 stars on Goodreads
Why I Picked This Up: I won a mad libs contest, where I had the choice of 2 out of 3 possible books. I clicked each one and read the Google preview, and while choosing between the last two was near impossible for me, as soon as I read the first page of Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, I knew I absolutely had to read it. Even the first few paragraphs were enough to crack me up, and I watched the mail closely over the following weeks. As soon as this one arrived, I tore the box open, brushed my current read aside, and read.

Characters: It must be said: Georgia is absolutely hilarious. I also have to say that I hate her. She's full of herself and constantly checking her reflection, trying different products and ideas. Her only worry in life, basically, is looking beautiful, and she's always worried about her eyebrows and nose. Actually, she spends a good deal of the book discussing how she sucks in her nose. How does one go about doing a thing like that? Too bad that part wasn't talked about in more detail. Just saying, it could be rather useful.

Being vain isn't the only personality flaw for Georgia. She's also a major drama queen and she's rude to her friends. She insults them and thinks poorly of them, and yet she complains when "tragedy" strikes her life and they're not bowing to her every wish. It's beyond irritating, and there are many points where I wanted to grab her by the shoulders, shake her, and scream, "Grow up, already!"

So yes, it's safe to say that I dislike Georgia, and if I met her in real life, I would probably despise her, but my God, she is so freaking funny, I didn't even mind that during the whole book I didn't like her. Her observations are HILARIOUS. So many writing tips advise you against creating characters no one will like, but in Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, it actually works!

Plot: If you're looking for a deep, thoughtful read, then I'm not sure exactly why you're reading even this review. Georgia makes only shallow observations. But if you're up for a nice, light read, this has got to be right up your alley. I considered putting a sample of the book here to show you just how awesome this is, but I had so much trouble deciding on just one part, I gave up. You'll have to read it yourself to see!

Cover: I dislike the cover. I suppose it fits the book's light tone, but it isn't something that would really draw me in. I think something playing with the whole diary idea (since this book is, in fact, in diary format) would be much more interesting, like showing a notebook opened to a page with the title written on it, surrounded by representative doodles, or something similar.

First Lines: Dad had Uncle Eddie round, so naturally they had to come and see what I was up to. If Uncle Eddie (who is bald as a coot) says one more time, "Should bald heads be buttered?" I may kill myself. He doesn't seem to realize I no longer wear romper suits. I feel like yelling at him, "I am fourteen years old! I am bursting with womanhood, I wear a bra! Okay, it's a bit on the loose side and rides up around my neck when I run for the bus...but the womanly potential is there!"
Overall: If you want a laugh, you absolutely have to read this book. Practically every page is guaranteed to get at least a smile out of you, and you'll probably be doubling over enough times to require all your fingers and toes to count. Georgia may be annoying in several places (or fine, maybe the whole book), but it actually works well in the story!
Plot - 3/5
Writing - 4/5
Characters - 4/5
Impact - 5/5
Inability to put it down - 4/5

Total - 76% = B+

Entr@pment: Review

Synopsis: Love is...
hopeless, pointless, merciless, lame
bliss4u: no, love is...i dunno...loverly
Ms.T: it's obvious. love is all about trust.
BoBoy: well, i'm lovin this pizza. yum
chessman: i'm thinking that was the wrong answer, bro...
Big.J: some people need some schooling around here
For two happy couples, love is true.
For two cynical friends, ove is a game...that is not always fair.
When a wager puts love to the test, will there really be a winner?
Details: Entr@pment by Michael Spooner, 320 pages, 3.18 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: I was looking for a fun, light read, and this seemed to fit the bill. I've always thought books that use technology, like writing through emails, texts, blog posts, chats, etc., are interesting, so I was looking forward to reading this one. And of course, it definitely helped that the cover seemed fun as well!

Characters: I did have some difficulty relating to the characters. I didn't really feel like they had very developed personalities, just exaggerated "types". For example, Annie was just this cynical, emo-ish girl, clichély because she had a bad experience with a guy. Bliss and Beau were the dumb but sweet people, and Tamra and Mitch were smart. Maybe it's just because the writing style made it hard to convey personalities, but I never really got to know or care about anyone.

The one character I did really like was Johnson. He was portrayed as a player, spinning "meaningful" poetry off like there was no effort involved (there wasn't) and wooing girls left and right. However, there was more to him, even if it was rather predictable that he would end up with - well, I won't spoil it for anyone who wants to read this book! It is fairly obvious, though.

Plot: I love the plot in this one! It's such a unique idea, having the girls pretend to be other, foreign girls to see if their boyfriends fall for them. At points it did seem a little over the top, like how Johnson convinced Beau and Mitch in the first place, which just felt unlikely to me.

The other thing I didn't like was how quickly and easily Beau and Mitch fell in love with Tatiana and the one Bliss pretended to be (sorry, it's been a while and this book is rather forgettable). Falling in love with a particular someone you've only known a short time while you're in a serious relationship is unlikely enough, given how love is pretty much a crapshoot, but it's even more unlikely when the person is someone you're speaking to online.

Internet romances in general are difficult. A serious one - or at least one serious enough to cheat with - would take a while to develop, because people are so different online than they are in real life. For instance, I'm way more confident and capable of making decent jokes over the Internet, whereas I'm pretty shy in real life. (Not to mention that unless I'm talking to my best friend, my jokes almost always fall flat.)

So my main problem with the plot is just that it's unrealistic. I did enjoy it, though, and it unfolded at a decent pace.

Cover: I like this cover! It's neat how the title is spelled out on keys, and the girl's hand is a nice touch. I do think it would be pretty cool if her finger was poised on "enter" or something instead of just hovering between "M" and "E", but it's still a nice cover. The other thing I'd say is that the author's name feels just randomly placed in the corner, and it's sort of hard to notice.

First Line: Ms.T: yo bliss, you there?

Overall: The characters were lacking and the plot, while original, was unrealistic in many parts. However, Entr@pment was still enjoyable with many funny moments, and in the end, it was a fast and flirty read, perfect for a break after some heavy reading.

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

Total - 52% = C

Bad Decisions Part 1

I have a bit of a history when it comes to bad decisions. Now, I don't mean getting drunk or high or pregnant, but more like... well, you'll see.

Bad Decision #1: Ordering Clothes. While shopping online is convenient, I've always preferred shopping in person. Sometimes that pretty sweater actually makes you look like a fat, colorful elephant, and sometimes "size 2" means "size 8" (and vice versa), so I find it important to try everything on first.

Unfortunately, I do not always have this luxury. If you've read this blog for a while, you know I love math almost as much as writing and that I compete seriously in many different contests. The math team I'm on often requires wearing specific t-shirts for these competitions with our school name and logo and such, so it comes to the dreaded question: "What size do you want to order?"

Generally, I'm a small. But for some brands, small means that they're made for dwarves. Tiny dwarves that use thimbles as coffee mugs and my inhaler as an ocean. (I do find them there sometimes, wearing bikinis that only they and models could ever fit in.) In those cases, I have to get a medium.

The thing with ordering, though? You don't get to check. Most of my friends who are a small as well just take their chances and get a small. But not me. I'm paranoid. I can't order something knowing that there is a possibility the hem of the shirt will float somewhere around my belly button, and so I get a medium.

And it turns out that "small" means "large", and guess what "medium" means? Not just extra-large but extra-extra-read-all-about-it-large. It turns into a freaking Snuggie.

Actual photo of me next to the t-shirt.

The t-shirt's collar, designed to hug your nose or thereabouts, showed cleavage on me. Or it would have if I actually had anything there. (Thanks, DNA.) The end of the "short" sleeve drooped a couple inches past my fingers, and the hem, rather than hovering near my belly button, hung out with my Converse sneakers.

My friends skipped around in their slightly baggy t-shirts while I trudged several yards behind in my racy muumuu. I mean, math t-shirt.

I'll write about bad decision #2 next Tuesday, so look forward to reading about my misery!

And Then Everything Unraveled: Review

Synopsis: Delia Truesdale has no idea her life's about to change forever. She's too busy enjoying the California summer. Her internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels.

Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she's dead - except Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia's still sent to New York to live with her two aunts - a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen.

And in case that's not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother.

As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.'s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy...and that some secrets - especially the dangerous ones - were never meant to be unraveled.

Details: And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman, 244 pages, 3.84 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: The cover was a bit of a turn-off for me, but when I read a review that absolutely raved about this book, I knew I had to read it. I started it with relatively high expectations, and I'm glad I wasn't disappointed! Of course, it sounds like a great book even with a cover I'm not a fan of - it has romance and a new school, both of which I can relate with, and conspiracy to boot. 

Characters: I loved the characters in this book! They all had spectacularly developed personalities that made them unique and unforgettable. Delia, for instance, was awesome. She was bold and smart, and it was great that she wasn't afraid to think and feel differently about a variety of things. It sounded like her mom, TK, was awesome as well because we got a good sense of how Delia was raised in the beginning of the book.

One thing I really liked about Delia was that she went out and tried to get what she wanted. She didn't just blindly accept what everyone was telling her about her mom - she did extensive research on her own to try and figure out what was going on. And even though she did all this, Delia still had the insecurities that most teenage girls can relate to.

The love interest, Quinn, was great as well. I groaned a little when I saw this was going to be another popular-guy-with-the-unpopular-girl book because I am getting tired of that, but he was so perfect. I loved that he wasn't just a "bad boy" or "good guy" but an actual developed, multi-faceted character. The one thing I didn't love so much was the whole apathetic thing. The popular kids were characterized as extremely apathetic, bored guys and girls wandering around like they couldn't be bothered to be there. While this did provide some comic relief, it just felt over the top in places.

Of course, no discussion of characters is complete without Charley! She was quirky and hilarious, and definitely the kind of character I would so love to have walking out of the pages and into real life. Charley's crazy in a good way, bringing a welcome break to the more serious aspects of the story. Patience, her sister, was the complete opposite but still a decent character. She was prim and proper, and balanced out the epitome of wonderful insanity, i.e., Charley.

Plot: I adore books that deal with both serious and light-hearted issues, and so naturally I enjoyed reading And Then Everything Unraveled. The plot moved along at a decent pace, alternating in making me laugh at loud and clench my stomach with worry. The mystery was a great touch, not overdone at all, and I was flipping pages not just to read more about Quinn's epicness or Charley's antics, but to find out what the heck happened to TK and if Delia would ever discover it.

The characters added a lot to the plot, which, while fairly original, probably wouldn't have worked as well if the characters were only so-so. Not that that's a bad thing - I've always found characters to be more important than plot in most cases. 

The only thing I didn't like that much about this book was the ending. It was too "yup, we just had a lot of build up, but now we're just going to end" for me. When it comes to series/books-with-sequels, I prefer for most of the plot strings to be tied up with a few left to nudge me onto the next book, but this one was just too unresolved for my tastes. 

Cover: As I've said, this cover's not really for me. It's pretty, I guess, with all those little reddish-purple spiral thingies and the cartoonish style, but it makes it seem like it's younger than it really is. This isn't something that would attract me to the book and is even a bit of a repellent. However, this might just be me because most people I know actually really like the cover.

First Line: It's hard to believe, but this whole thing didn't even start until a couple of weeks ago, when my mother left for Antarctica with one of her environmental groups.

Overall: This is a fantastic book with a rich cast of characters that will leave you wanting more! It's different from most contemporary young adult novels, but still remains to have great romance and relatability. It does seem to appeal a little bit on the younger side of young adult, and while older teens and adults could definitely enjoy it (I still read some middle grade because it can be that awesome), I would recommend it more to those between twelve and fifteenish. 

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

Total -  72% = B

In My Mailbox (11)

I read a lot, about three to five books a week, and my library reservation system is quite slow. Because of this, every time my pile of library books hits five, I reserve another five books. By the time the pile dwindles to two or three, the new five books arrive. However, apparently I am unable to count because when my pile was five, I thought it was seven. Because of this, I didn't reserve the new five books until yesterday, when there were only three (!!!) left.

I'm trying to not read as much because I can't stand being stuck with anything new to read. This is very difficult, but TV is helping me. Sort of. Ironically, I can read books for hours on end, but I have an awful TV attention span.

In any case, I only got one book this week, so here it is:

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black. Dana Hathaway doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in big trouble. When her alcoholic mom shows up at her voice recital drunk, Dana decides she’s had it with being her mother’s keeper, so she packs her bags and heads to stay with her mysterious father in Avalon: the only place on Earth where the regular, everyday world and the magical world of Faerie intersect. But from the moment Dana sets foot in Avalon, everything goes wrong, for it turns out she isn't just an ordinary teenage girl—she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel between both worlds, and who can bring magic into the human world and technology into Faerie.

Soon, she finds herself tangled up in a cutthroat game of Fae politics. Someone's trying to kill her, and everyone wants something from her, even her newfound friends and family. Suddenly, life with her alcoholic mom doesn't sound half bad, and Dana would do anything to escape Avalon and get back home. Too bad both her friends and her enemies alike are determined not to let her go . . .

Isn't the cover gorgeous? 

What did you get in your mailbox? 

8 Facts of My Week (3)

1. Dear English Teacher,

Please write legibly. Specifically, please stop making your "OK"s look like "OIC", because then I think you're trying to say "oh, I see". Also, it would maybe help your handwriting if you stopped making just the first three letters of every word distinct and then letting the rest dissolve into scribbles. You are writing words, not making a signature.

(I must thank you for my essay grade, however. I did not expect that.)

That girl who ran around the hallways in bliss because she thought she was failing English when really she's failing History instead.

2. Dear History Teacher,

Please stop talking too fast when you teach. I am drowning and my GPA will suffer if I don't get at least an A- in this class. It would also maybe help if your tests weren't so hard. Just a suggestion.

That girl who sits next to the dude who grunts during the entire class.

3. Dear Bus Driver,

I need your bus for sleep because CERTAIN TEACHERS are giving too much homework. I'd appreciate it if you didn't crank up the rap music as loud as it will go. It would also be helpful if you stopped running over people. The bumps make it even harder to fall asleep.

That girl who can't even hear her iPod over your music.

4. Dear Heart,

Please stop crushing on that guy. HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU BACK. GET OVER IT.

That girl whose ribcage you live in.

5. Dear Dinosaurs,

Thank you for existing at one point. If you hadn't, my friend wouldn't have given me those awesome stuffed versions of you guys that say "RAWR" when you squeeze them. They make me happy.

That girl who likes dinosaurs.

6. Dear Rocket Ship,

Please park yourself outside my house so when I'm stressed, I can climb inside and check out that moon dude. I hear he's pretty nice.

That girl who wants to take the astronomy elective.

7. Dear Math Homework,

I'm sorry. I can't help you with your problems anymore. They're something you have to deal with yourself.

That girl who hates doing synthetic geometry, but finds it pretty sexy anyway.

8. Dear WIP,

God knows I love you, but don't you think you could ease up on the plot issues? It'd be a big help.

That girl who works on you every single day.

Book Blogger Hop (10)

Whoo, double-digit blogger hops! This is the first Friday in a long time that I've been able to devote time to these hops instead of hurriedly visiting other blogs since I have school off today. Although, you know, I really should study for History. Oh well.

This week the question is: What are your feelings on losing followers? Do you ever stop following someone's blog?

I have lost a follower once during this whole blogging experience so far (although I've only been blogging since late June so that's not particularly amazing), and it made my heart seize up. Recently, I've been getting less views... and yet more comments. This confuses me, but I'm starting to suspect that more people are subscribing to me on Google Reader.

For example, right now I have 99 followers and 94 subscribers. No doubt most, if not all, of these subscribers are followers, and so it's reasonable to think that only those five followers who don't subscribe actually regularly read my physical blog. (Well, you know what I mean by physical.) Still, this makes me paranoid that instead of gradually gaining popularity my blog is losing popularity :O

So when I lost that follower a couple months ago, going from 49 to 48, it made me stare at that little clump of followers until my eyes exploded. I wanted to track down that lost followers and shake him/her by the shoulders and scream, "Why? What have I ever done?" And I'm sure that follower would say, "It's not you, it's me! I've changed! I've moved on! I love somebody else's blog!"

But thanks to He's Just Not That Into You, we know what THAT means.

I've come to accept losing followers as a way of life. It happens to everyone. Even to Hyperbole and a Half, I'm sure. (Well, maybe not that.) Even so, when I see that little magic number drop, I go into panic mode.

And that means cookies, fellow bloggy friends. COOKIES.

And as for the second part of the question, I have stopped following blogs quite a few times. 99% of the time it's because the blogger hasn't posted in over a month, but a couple times, it was because I needed to follow less blogs because of less time, and that blog just happened to have content I could really do without.

If you're hopping by, please leave a link to your blog (especially if you have multiple blogs, because it gets tricky for me), and, you know, cookies are nice too :)