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Sorry, it's sort of hard to read. Anyway, I know you love my artwork! I'm a pretty bad artist by hand, and drawing things with a mouse is about sixty times harder.

Birthmarked: Review

Synopsis: After climate change, on the north shore of Unlake Superior, a dystopian world is divided between those who live inside the wall, and those, like sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone, who live outside. It’s Gaia’s job to “advance” a quota of infants from poverty into the walled Enclave, until the night one agonized mother objects, and Gaia’s parents are arrested. 

Badly scarred since childhood, Gaia is a strong, resourceful loner who begins to question her society. As Gaia’s efforts to save her parents take her within the wall, she herself is arrested and imprisoned. 

Fraught with difficult moral choices and rich with intricate layers of codes, BIRTHMARKED explores a colorful, cruel, eerily familiar world where one girl can make all the difference, and a real hero makes her own moral code.

Details: "Birthmarked" by Caragh M. O'Brien, 362 pages, 4.06 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: Um, first? That cover? It's beyond gorgeous. It has to be one of my favorite covers ever. Recently almost all of the books I've been reading have come from blog reviews, but if I saw that in a bookstore, I would buy it on the spot, even without a gift card. (Guess what? I've never in my life bought a book with my own money, always from the gift cards I get from relatives on birthdays and holidays. 'Cause, yeah, I'm stingy that way. Libraries for the win?) The cover fits the book absolutely perfectly - it's dark and beautiful and mysterious, all at once.

The book itself was great as well! I'm not usually the hugest fan of third person (it's okay but I tend to prefer first person because you can get closer to the characters), but I think it worked really well here. Gaia is mature and brave for a sixteen-year-old, and time and time again throughout the book I was admiring her strength. Personally, I don't like her name because I kept thinking it was pronounced "gay-a", but then at the very end, she mentioned it rhymes with Maya, so is it really "guy-a"? I'm so confused! I like "gay-a" better. She's "gay-a" in my mind. 

The other - and less superficial - thing I didn't like so much about Gaia was she really was quick to decide the Enclave was bad. I mean, since her parents were arrested, I understand her eventually concluding that there's icky stuff going on, but she came to this conclusion about 0.2 seconds after she heard the news. Think of it this way: say one day you came home from school/work/whatever to find out that your parents/spouse/whatever has been arrested for reasons they won't reveal to you, and you know for a fact that your parents/spouse/whatever would never do anything bad. Is your first conclusion going to be that the judicial system is evil and biased and conspiring? 

That was the only thing I found a bit iffy. All the characters were great - no one was pure evil or pure good, so everything was really multi-dimensional. And, oh, I love Leon! Leon + Gaia = <3. I really like that it took Gaia a while to fall in love with him and that she wasn't attracted to just his physical appearance like the other girls. I think the best part, though, was that she recognized he was a very attractive person instead of "not noticing" like some books. 

In the beginning it was a little hard for me to get fully involved with the characters, but by the end, it was definitely worth it. The writing style was fantastic for this book, and I'd recommend it for anyone who likes post-apocalyptic stories! 4 smilies out of 5.

The Carbon Diaries 2015: Review

Synopsis: It's January 1st, 2015, and the UK is the first nation to introduce carbon dioxide rationing, in a drastic bid to combat climate change. As her family spirals out of control, Laura Brown chronicles the first year of rationing with scathing abandon.

Will her mother become one with her inner wolf? Will her sister give up her weekends in Ibiza? Does her father love the pig more than her? Can her band the dirty angels make it big? And will Ravi Datta ever notice her?

In these dark days, Laura deals with the issues that really matter: love, floods and pigs. The Carbon Diaries 2015 is one girl s drastic bid to stay sane in a world unravelling at the seams. 

Details: "The Carbon Diaries 2015" by Saci Lloyd, 384 pages, 3.43 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I picked this up because I loved Life As We Knew It and I thought this would be similar. Although I still liked Carbon Diaries 2015, I must admit I was rather disappointed by it. While bad things certainly happened to Laura and I liked her as a character, the book wasn't very dark. It didn't provoke much emotion in me at all, other than wondering what I would do if I was Laura. Perhaps it was just me, but I really felt like I was merely reading her story rather than getting emotionally involved with it and the characters. At times I admit that I was a little bored and my attention kept drifting. 

However, this is not to say I didn't enjoy the book. Laura's voice sounded like an authentic teenager (I don't know many British schoolgirls so I can't say whether or not she's authentically British), and I appreciate that her diary entries did actually sound like entries and not an excuse to narrate through a different format. I liked that she remained strong throughout all the bad stuff that was happening, and the romance could be really sweet at times. 

To be honest, though, the main reason I like the book is the concept. It's definitely worth a read if only for the ideas introduced regarding what may happen to use in the dismayingly near future if we don't shape us soon. 3 smilies out of five.

Inside Out: Review

Synopsis: Zach Wahhsted is used to hearing these brutal words. But today he isn't the only one in danger of dying.

A busy coffee shop -- a robbery gone wrong. Two gunmen, nine hostages, flashing lights, itchy trigger fingers. And Zach, a seemingly ordinary teenager, is caught in the middle of the mayhem.

But nobody realizes that Zach -- who has no gun and no knife -- has a mind more dangerous than any weapon.

Never what he seems and always on the edge, Zach is an unforgettable character in a new book by Terry Trueman that is filled with the same shocking power and heartbreaking compassion as his Printz Honor Book, Stuck in Neutral.

Details: "Inside Out" by Terry Trueman, 128 pages, 4 stars on Amazon, 3.85 stars on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I wasn't a huge fan of the cover. It was an interesting play on the phrase "inside out" and I like the words going across it, but I think there was more that could have been done with it. It would have been neat if the cover was something simple but intriguing, like Flipped.

Anyhow. This book was incredibly gripping. Something about Zach's voice, despite how apathetic he is to what's going on around him, is just so hooking. I was able to put it down but at parts reluctantly. At first I thought Zach was going to be really hard to relate to because of his schizophrenia, but I was still able to care about what happens to him, even if it was out of pity rather than sympathy. The best part of the book was the ending. When I finished the book, I hated the ending because it just seemed so abrupt. But looking back, it only adds to the horror of Zach's schizophrenia, and I think it's perfect now.

The one thing I didn't like so much was how quick the robbers were to reveal their story to Zach. It seemed sort of cliché to me as well that they only wanted to steal money to help pay for their mother's cancer treatment (like a small restaurant would have that kind of money anyway). Also, I'm still not entirely sure why the robbers thought Zach's psychologist would help them negotiate with the police.

Other than that, this was a quick but fascinating read. I would recommend it to everyone. It would be three smilies, but the ending was awesome, so four smilies out of five.

Shiny Giveaways

Please don't enter any of these? :D I've only ever won one giveaway (a little one), and the feeling of a shiny prize gave me the happies. Anyway, here we go!

Big Honkin' Contest

Halo and Paranormalcy


How Extraordinary

Mega Contest

All In

Summer Celebration

Shadow Hills

Summer Stuff

Win Booksies!

The Chosen One: Review

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated polygamous community without questioning her father’s three wives and her twenty brothers and sisters. Or at least without questioning them much—if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. But when the Prophet decrees that Kyra must marry her 60-year-old uncle—who already has six wives—Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family.

Details: "The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams, 213 pages, 4.5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: First, the cover is pretty, but to me, it makes it seem like the kind of book it isn't. I thought the cover seemed sort of chick-lit-y and not as dark as the story was. If I saw it in a bookstore without knowing anything about it, I probably would walk by it.

The cover might not be perfect, but the story itself was pretty darn close! A week or so before I read the story, I stumbled across an article in TIME magazine about polygamy in America. I have always been vaguely aware that there are some people in the US that do stuff like that, but it was a real eye-opener for me. When the reporters interviewed the women, they all seemed so docile and obedient, insisting that they're perfectly happy. It appeared rather barbaric to me, that men would have three or more wives with a crazy amount of kids. So when I read the book, it was a great complement to the article.

I love how real Kyra is as a character. We can feel her pain and her longing to be like a normal person. At the same time, she is so strong. I can't imagine how hard it has to be to take everything you have - your religion, your family, your culture - and just turn your back on it. What confuses me about her is that she seems very quick to rebel, with the books and having a relationship with Joshua. 

I also wish the author chose to explore some of the other issues related to polygamy. The abuse is horrifying, of course, but I would have liked to also read about jealousy among sister wives and that sort of thing. Overall, though, I really loved this book! I would recommend it to everyone, except if you're very easily disturbed. 4 out of 5 smilies. 

It's the Zombie Apocalypse

Guys, listen up. There was a recent scientific finding the other day. Are you ready? Okay. Real life human teenage males are not Edward Cullen. Shocking, I know. I'm just about ready for the zombie apocalypse. (Actually, let me get a nerf gun first. Okay, cool, I'm ready now.)

I seem to disagree with that article, and I also find it a wonderful display of stereotyping and sexism. Yes. Sexism. Let's say this article was instead regarding how lackluster teenage girls are these days. Say it went something like this:

"In Twilight, Bella is the perfect girlfriend. She's weak and clumsy, as well as completely incapable of taking care of herself. This means that we males get to take care of her. She's also docile, listens to what I say, and is content to have me watch her sleep."

The writer of the article would get massacred.

"For a start, Edward (unlike your typical pubescent male) is not a commitment-phobe. His devotion to Bella is impressive. He opens car doors for her, is always attentive to her needs and does not presume to take her out without first meeting her father."
Ah, yes. The typical pubescent male. Some Googling tells me that as of two years ago, there were nearly 3.5 billion teenage boys (assuming there is an approximately equal amount of boys and girls). I believe the author of the article is a teenage girl, so high school. Let's suppose there are 1500 students in her school, of which about 750 are boys.

Obviously (or at least I hope so), she doesn't know every single one of those boys. However, even supposing she does (and the amount she really does should be small enough that 750 will compensate for all the boys she knows outside of school), this is about 0.00000002%. Plus, it is highly doubtful she even knows 750 boys well enough to judge how committed they are. In fact, the only way she could really determine how committed they are is if she had a relationship with them. So that's, what, somewhere between 0 and 3ish boys.

There's no way she would know enough boys to be able to talk about the typical pubescent boy. Besides, there is no "typical" pubescent boy. Let's try this. I'll tell you about the three types of the typical teenage girl. Ready?

#1. She loves to shop. Frequently she and her gossiping group of friends will go to mall, where they will blow big bucks on brand name clothing which will later be shown off at their school. When she's not shopping, she's always texting or IMing, and as for studying... what's that? Every time she develops a shallow crush on a guy (which is about once a week), out come the halter tops and the miniskirts. Oh, and did I mention partying? Don't waste your time with her! She'll dump you before you can wipe her lipstick off your face.

#2. The bookworm. Everywhere she goes, there's a book in her face. Well, it would be in her face if not for the clunky, industrial-size glasses she wears. Her hair is always in an ugly ponytail, and she prefers to wear baggy sweaters and sweatpants. She goes shopping about once a year, and only when dragged by her mom. Her grades are always good because she has no life, no friends, and absolutely no boyfriend. Don't waste your time with her, either! She runs away at the very sight of a guy.

#3. Ah, yes, the poor muddled type. They are usually okay, but they're just so confused. You'll never know what they're all about.

Compare my list to

"Apart from a small minority, teenage boys fall into three distinct categories: macho, metro or just plain muddled. The first type is the beer-swilling Neanderthal who is more concerned about how he is perceived by his mates than winning a girl's affection. These boys think passing wind counts as humour and everything they say is punctuated with some sexual innuendo.
The second type is metro man, whose preoccupation with image is often more important than spending time with a girlfriend. These lads own skinny jeans and hair-straighteners and spend a lot of time shopping for accessories to complement their ''indie'' outfits. Metro man is too aware of his effect on women and usually uses it to his advantage. Scratch the surface and you won't find much substance.
The third type is generally decent, but gives out such conflicting messages that you need telepathic skills to work out what they're about."
 Seriously? Apart from a "small minority"?

Now look at this, earlier on in the article

"Edward is a classic gentleman and a SNAG rolled into one. And he has no difficulty articulating his emotions. What's more, Edward is never confused about his role - he is comfortable as protector and provider. He is impeccably groomed and never has to be lectured about hygiene. He exercises superhuman control in keeping his relationship with Bella chaste, though he does fly into uncontrollable rages whenever Bella's safety is compromised. But then, some of us girls happen to like that."
I think Edward's one of those guys you think you'd like, but then you actually don't when he shows up in real life (or you wouldn't if he did). Pretend you went to a cemetery and you digged up a recently buried body. It will have pale, cold flesh, have the appearance of perfectly chiseled (?) marble, and the lips will be stone cold as well. Mmm... sexy!

Because, yes, Edward Cullen is a corpse who has not yet rotted. And sure, some may find that attractive, if you're the kind of person who loves white skin (reminiscent of the old days, when white skin on a woman indicated that she didn't have to work outside in the sun), and if you like your men to have cold lips.

"Protector and provider." Seriously? No, really, seriously? That's just... rather... sexist. I mean, especially provider. I can live with a guy protecting me within reason (like if there's an armed robbery and he does that thing where he fights off the guy with his bare fists), but provider...

"He is impeccably groomed [...]" Oh yes, all teenage boys are complete and utter slobs. *shudder*

The thing about being chaste: Repeat after me, girls! All boys want is sex. Your twelve-year-old neighbor? Behind those innocent blue eyes is a raging, testerone-driven sex drive.

And as for uncontrollable rages... "Bella, I freaking told you to look both freaking ways when you cross the freaking street! RAWRARGHHHH! *tears apart various houses and people*" (Note the usage of the word "freaking" rather than a curse word, because he's very polite. The perfect gentleman.)

" There is no denying Edward Cullen has raised the bar. The only question remaining is: how will teen males rise to the challenge?"
They will rise to the challenge by finding non-sexist girls.

"A friend and I were bemoaning the disastrous nature of teen romance[...]"
It's disastrous. Absolutely catastrophic. You know what? Why don't you guys wait until you're ready for marriage until you date? It's just not worth it, these days, all those typical guys with their six-pack-chugging, D-floor-grinding, garbage-can-puking ways.

(No, really.)

"[...]she commented that, when asked out these days, her first thoughts run along these lines: ''Can you run at lightening speed? Can you throw me over your shoulder and scale a tree in the event of imminent danger? Will you sit by my bedside every night watching me sleep and wondering about my dreams?''

We joked about the response this might elicit from the real teen: ''Nah, babe, but I can knock back a six-pack in under half an hour, do some impressive grinding on the D-floor and throw up neatly into a garbage bin at the end of the night. Doesn't that turn you on?''"
I don't know what school she goes to, but at mine, they also had normal guys. I dunno, maybe her's doesn't.

" Real conversation can be awkward, rambling and self-conscious; Bella and Edward's exchanges are anything but.

''Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars - points of light and reason … and then you shot across my sky like a meteor.'' I don't know about you, but I'll take the romantic hero (even the blood-sucking kind) every time.""
I happen to like real conversation. You know, where you talk about normal things, like making fun of teachers and whining about your parents and stressing over grades. The ones where you learn more about the other person, where you tell jokes to make each other laugh and cry on each other's shoulders when you're sad.

And, yeah, I said "each other". A lot of girls seem to think that a romantic boyfriend is something that happens to them. They complain how their boyfriends don't slip poetry into their lockers like in Shiver, that their boyfriends don't run at lightening speed, that they don't watch them sleep. Guess what? Romance is a two-way street. You want your boyfriend to be romantic, but chances are, he wants you to be like that, too. Why don't you put poetry in his locker? Why don't you run at lightening speed? (What, you don't? See, that's just the problem with teenage girls these days. They can't run at lightening speed, which is obviously their fault, and so they're just not worthy of guys.) Why don't you watch him sleep?


I have no words.


Diary of a Witness: Review

Synopsis: One day, something’s going to snap. . . .
Ernie doesn't have a lot of friends at school. Just Will. They have stuff in common—like fishing. But more important, they have common enemies: the school jocks, who seem to find bullying just another sport.

For the most part, Ernie and Will take life at high school in stride. Until Will has one very bad day. Now nothing is remotely funny. Ernie finds himself a witness—to loss, to humiliation, and to Will’s anger—an anger that’s building each and every moment.

Ernie doesn’t want to believe his best friend is changing, but he can’t deny the truth. Soon he has a choice: join or die. Or can he find another way? 

Details: "Diary of a Witness" by Catherine Ryan Hyde, 208 pages, an average of 5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: I was really disappointed with this book. Before I started reading, I heard great things about it - about what a touching story it was, what a tearjerker, that sort of thing - so I was excited to get to it. And even though I didn't like this book that much, I do have to say that the story itself was interesting.

I liked that Ernie was sort of a "sideline" character, because it was really his best friend Will who was going through most of the crap. Ernie had trouble too with the bullies (in one scene they even stuck a fishing hook in his scalp, which sounds extremely painful), but at least he didn't have much trouble at home. It was horrific how even though everyone knew that Will's little brother died recently and that his father was in jail because of it, the bullies kept screwing with him and hurting him. Will completely deteriorated until that final scene. I won't give it away, but I do have to say it was pretty obvious (for me, at least) that it was coming.

The book was also well-written. It was easy to read and at times, I had trouble putting it down. I think the only reason I was disappointed by this book wasn't the story or the characters or the writing, but just the fact that I feel the author could have done so much more. The book wasn't particularly wrenching (although sad in places) and that final scene could have been so much more powerful. I also feel like Ernie would have been just a little more real if he really had second thoughts before stopping Will, rather than going straight ahead without a split second of self-doubt. I've never liked straight-out heroes.

Diary of a Witness is worth a read, but I do think it could have been more compelling. Two smilies out of five.

Hate List: Review

Synopsis: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. 

Details: "Hate List" by Jennifer Brown, 405 pages, an average of a whopping 5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: I originally picked this up because someone recommended it on a blog, and the synopsis just sounded good. Plus, there's the fact that it had great ratings on Amazon, and on Goodreads as well (4.16 stars over there). I've read books where the narrator is the shooter (like Endgame, which was an excellent book) and books where the narrator is a victim (although I can't think of any titles off the top of my head). However, I've never read a book where the narrator was someone who technically did nothing wrong but is still a little guilty, and has to face all the other victims at her school.

In general, it's hard to make me cry during books. Movies, I'll cry, no matter how many times I watch them. (I mean, I've seen A.I. five times, and I cried during each and every one.) But Hate List made me tear up a total of five times throughout those 405 pages. It was such a wrenching book. I can't even imagine what it has to be like when everyone thinks you're guilty, including yourself.

I love that Valerie is so real. At times she can border on whiny, and I did find her pre-shooting morbidness a little disconcerting, but in the end, she's just a flawed person. And yes, she was rather selfish throughout the book, but it's one of the things she comes to realize. 

The relationship between Val and Nick was very well-developed. It's easy to see why, even after everything that happened, Valerie was still grieving for him. The one thing I didn't like about their relationship, though, was that I don't see how she could be so blind as to how disturbed he was. If someone I knew started talking about suicide and death all the time, and not even as a joke, alarm bells would definitely start ringing. 

Other than that, this harrowing and raw book is something I really would recommend to everyone. Five smilies out of five!

Books vs. Movies

No, this isn't a post declaring how God-awful the movie version of Eclipse was, or how smexcellent the Harry Potter movies are. (Both are facts, by the way. Not opinions. Facts.)

I was thinking about this last night because, you see, I watched a horror movie about a month ago. I will not reveal the name of this horror movie because it's rather embarrassing in its, er, non-scariness. But if you know me in real life, you know that I don't do horror movies so well.

Case in point: That horror movie I saw a month ago? I still make my dog come with me anywhere around the house when it's dark outside.

The interesting thing is, I can handle books way better than movies. For example, I read The Shining all at once in my basement (it was really hot and the air conditioning was broken) at night by myself, in seventh grade. When I was done, I was a little creeped out, but I was pretty much fine. (No, Firefox, I was not "crept out".)

Or another example. In sixth grade, I read every single Dean Koontz book the library had to offer. This included violent scenes involving the rearrangement of limbs, rapes, weird... things, and so on. Apart from making me a stranger person, I was more or less unaffected.

And I've written fairly violent things, too. I don't go into very gory detail because I write YA, but I've had to read articles that were extremely gory (with pictures of blood so fake I had to laugh) for research, and the details I leave out, I still have to imagine.

But show me a movie where there's a drop of blood and I'll have to look away. In the first Twilight movie, that scene where Bella was bleeding or something? (She "fell down the stairs".) I looked away.

Why is it that movies are more powerful than books? Is it because we can see it and hear it more directly? But if this is the case, then why do many people prefer reading to watching movies?

New Favorite Book

Also, a contest! Not mine. I don't have the money for that. But this guy is giving away crap, and it's really awesome crap, so you shouldn't enter so I can maybe win.

So you're probably thinking, "Wow. Izzy has a new favorite book. I worship Izzy and the ground she walks on, so clearly this is a super amazing book and I will put it at the top of my TBR list. Maybe if I read the book, I can inherit some of Izzy's awesomeness. But only some. Of course."

The book is called "Leftovers" and it's by Laura Wiess. I'm not going to review it because I honestly don't think I'm capable of writing coherent sentences about how good it is. Even now I want to gush and gush and gush and gush. I will tell you, however, that I give 6 smilies out of five. SIX. That's how super-cool-awesome it is. Like, I reread the last line about five hundred times because it was absolutely beyond amazing. It was SO GOOD.

When I finished the book, I ran around the house and found my parents, and I started blabbering about the book and the plot.

Me: Mom! Look, there's this book, and I just finished reading it, and oh my God, it is soooo good. See, it's about these two girls, Blair and Ardith, right, and they have such messed up families but they're really good friends but then what happens [...]

[6 hours later]

And like, can you believe that plot twist? I wish I could write a book like this! This is one of those books where you think, "Oh my God, if I even could come up with this premise, I would never ever ever ever be able to end up with this." You know? And it's sooooo good, oh my God, it's so good. Do you believe that ending?

Mom: That's nice, sweetie.

Now. Go read it. Seriously. NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW.

The Blue Girl: Review

Synopsis: New at her high school, Imogene enlists the help of her introverted friend Maxine and the ghost of a boy who haunts the school after receiving warnings through her dreams that soul-eaters are threatening her life.

Details: "The Blue Girl" by Charles de Lint, 384 pages, 4.5 stars on Amazon, 3.86 on Goodreads

My Thoughts: I originally picked this up because I heard of Charles de Lint on someone's blog. I know, I know, how did I not find out who Charles de Lint is before? You know, I'm wondering the exact same question. In any case, I was utterly blown away by it.

The blurb made me wary at first. A tough girl from the streets who wants to reform herself? A nerdy girl with no friends? That weird cheerleaders-date-football-team thing where they're all evil bullies? A ghost? And... faeries? Despite my less-than-high expectations, this was an incredible book. What really impressed me was how well-developed the characters were.

Imogene is a spunky, strong female protagonist, and I am such a sucker for those. She's tough and rebellious, and when she moves to Newford, she decides to bury her less-than-pristine past (it involves knives) and, without changing her punk image, wants to be a little tamer. I admired her strength countless times throughout the book; she was fearless in the face of both the bullies and the faeries, yet still unflawed.

Maxine was interesting, too. At first sight, she's a demure nerd, but Imogene befriends her and finds out her mother is incredibly controlling. For instance, Maxine isn't allowed to wear shirts that go below the collarbone (really), and she can't wear... are you ready?... pants. However, some of Maxine's "goodness" rubs off on Imogene, just as some of Imogene's independence rubs off on Maxine, and both end up the better for it.

And then, of course, there's Adrian: a lonely ghost who was bullied in high school. He develops a crush on Imogene (one that, thankfully, does not blossom into a passionate romance) and finally reveals himself to her. When she believes in him but not the faeries... well, that's when things start to go bad.

The only thing I really would complain about is that de Lint mentions Imogene gets a boyfriend, who does later help her with the faeries and everything, but it just happened really suddenly. We never even got to meet the guy until she abruptly becomes his girlfriend.

All in all, this was a spectacular book. I would recommend it to everyone who likes urban fantasy, and also those who don't! Five smilies out of five!

Gimme A Call: Review

Synopsis: Devi's life isn't turning out at all like she wanted. She wasted the past three years going out with Bryan—cute, adorable, break-your-heart Bryan. Devi let her friendships fade, blew off studying, didn't join any clubs . . . and now that Bryan has broken up with her, she has nothing left.

Not even her stupid cell phone—she dropped it in the mall fountain. Now it only calls one number . . . hers. At age fourteen, three years ago!

Once Devi gets over the shock—and convinces her younger self that she isn't some wacko—she realizes that she's been given an awesome gift. She can tell herself all the right things to do . . . because she's already done all the wrong ones! Who better to take advice from than your future self?

Except . . .what if getting what you think you want changes everything?

Fans of Sarah Mlynowski's Magic in Manhattan series will love this hilarious new novel with a high-concept premise.

Details: "Gimme A Call" by Sarah Mlynowski, 320 pages, 4.5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: I loved this book a whole lot more than I thought I would. I originally got it from the library because the concept just sounded sort of neat, but I ended up reading this every spare chance I got. This was such a fun read, and it captivated me from beginning to end.

There were so many places where I just had to laugh, and it was really fascinating how the future was affected by the smallest things. I don't think anyone can forget what happened when Devi convinced her older self to give her the lottery numbers! It was also interesting to see how the older Devi's college acceptance letter kept changing from the original bad state school she had first gotten into.

I liked learning about Devi's relationship with Bryan, but I do think at points there was a little too much "let's all learn how to balance your life" that sort of irritated me. Other than that, I really didn't have any complaints regarding this book. Great for a nice, funny, light read! 4 smilies out of 5!

Big Dudes Are Interesting

No, wait, don't "x" out this tab. This post has a point.

First, while this is rather random, it must be said that a couple minutes ago, I started to read this article about how the Internet makes us lose our ability to concentrate on things. This is more or less what I was thinking as I read: "Hmm... gee, that's pretty scary... this is probably really over-sensationalized... I doubt the Internet does all that... yeah, this is probably exaggerated... okay, I'm bored, I'm gonna go update my blog now."

And then it hit me.

Anyway, onwards with the post-y part of the post!

A couple days ago, I was watching a movie with a friend. Of course, this was a very, er, mature movie. Not, like, a little kid movie *nervous laughter*. I mean, I would never watch something like Toy Story 3.

Okay, fine, I was. And it was good. You should see it.

The fact that we were surrounded by squalling babies and stressed mothers was a little irritating, but soon, I was so caught up in what was happening to Woody (get your mind out of the gutter!), I could almost not hear the piercing shrieks of red-faced babies or the vomit pooling on the floor. Almost.

Suddenly - at a very suspenseful moment, I might add - the movie went black. Black, like my teacher's shriveled heart. Black, like the heaving, glistening flanks of Black Beauty. Black, like the night, cold and dark and lonely, lost and afraid in a world where there is no love, no affection.

And then, shrieks to rival that of the babies'! It was the alarms, screeching and flashing, and lights exploded in the room. I screamed and covered my melting eyes. "The lights! The lights!" I yelled. "They burn!"

A nervous male voice came on. (Seriously? A nervous voice? They couldn't do, like, a really hot, sexy, smoldering voice? Can voices even smolder? For that matter, do eyes smolder? Let me talk to Ol' Eddie about that.) "Attention, people. Especially that super-annoying girl who keeps yelling about the lights. There is a fire. We are all going to die. So just calm down, please. And avoid the flames. And smoke."

I looked around. There were no flames. There was no smoke.

My friend poked my arm. "We should probably leave."

I noticed that we were pretty much the last people in the theater. Everyone else had swept up their sobbing babies and flung themselves outside. We got up, glancing at the source of the nervous voice, and quietly filed out of the theater. Screams echoed in the vast caverns of the building.

We looked at each other. And giggled.

When we made it outside, we discovered why people were screaming.

It was friggin' hot.

The sun didn't pound the pavement, or sent tumultuous heat waves across our faces, or any other fancy schmancy metaphor. It just shone, like, really bright. I could feel my skin turning to soot.

Sun-burned soot, of course.

The parking lot, sidewalks, and roads were filled with people. Jostling mothers, weeping men, starry-eyed lovers - you name it, they may or may not have been there.

A stampede of people came out from the 3D version of Toy Story 3 (which my budget did not accommodate, hence our being in the 2D version). They let out wild war cries and didn't push people; they walked straight through. I laughed as they trampled over my friend. When she stood up, I noticed several cuts on her body.

"Would you like a tissue?"

"Yes, I would. I would very much like a tissue."

And so I gave her tissues for her cuts. This was the first time in my life that my mother let me out of the house without band aids (I usually have to bring them "just in case"). She did, however, supply me with tissues, in case I'm in mortal danger and I need to blow my nose. Also cotton balls, if a serial killer holds a knife to my throat and I perhaps want to squish something soft.

When the crowds had more or less calmed down, all you could hear was the sour stench of sweat sizzling sordidly in the air. (See what I did there?) A young employee - who was also not hot, sexy, or smoldering - stood in what was approximately the center of the crowds. "Um... this was a false alarm, guys. But we can't go in just yet. When we can, though, if you want a refund, go to blah blah blah blah blah blah blah want to watch the movie, it will pick up where it left off blah blah blah blah blah blah blah make sure blah blah ticket stubs."

That's what I heard, anyway. I turned to my friend. "What did he say about ticket stubs?"

She was lying on the road, blood pooling around her. It hurt my neck when I tried to talk to her. How inconvenient.

"I think," she rasped, "he said we have to have our ticket stubs to continue watching the movie. I have mine." She opened her clenched fist, revealing a blood-soaked tissue and a ticket stub.

I rooted around in my bag. Nothing. I tore my pockets off my jeans and looked in those. Nothing. I checked my secret hiding place in my shoe, moving aside the switchblade and gun. Nothing.

Then I flash-backed.

I was walking inside the theater for Toy Story 3, ticket stub in one hand, drink in the other. My friend make a pitiful joke, and I humored her by laughing. As I did, I reached up a hand to brush a strand of hair away. The ticket stub fluttered from my palm to the ground... forever lost... never to be seen again....

"Well, crap." I scratched my nose. "Whatever. I'm really hot. Wanna go in the shade?"

"Can't... move...." my friend croaked. "Go on... without... me...."

"Kay," I replied, inspecting my nails.

Then I violently shoved my way through the tightly packed sweaty bodies, screeching, "Police! Police!"

Unfortunately, even the police can't get past the actual police, who harrumphed at me.

"Harrumph to you, too," I muttered.

A Big Dude was next to me, whining. "And they'd better give a refund! I WANNA REFUND! And a unicorn. If they don't gimme a unicorn, I'ma throw a tantrum! WAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"

He began to throw a tantrum. I harrumphed at him.

"Oh, look, now they're harrumphing."

I pushed past him.

"And pushing."

Just as the wonderful shade swallowed me, a police guy shouted, "All right, guys, c'mon inside!"

The crowd surged forth, and I raced to the ticket guy. He was overwhelmed with angry people shoving their stubs in his face, and I slipped past the crowd.

By the time I reached my rightful theater and sat down, Toy Story 3 had begun. I munched on my friend's popcorn and wondered where she was. By the time the movie ended, all thoughts of rescuing her were gone, and I went home.

So, did any of you see any good movies recently?

Judging Books by their Spines (and Contest!)

Someone recently asked me how I come across the books I read. Over the past few months, as I've been a bit of a lurker in the blogosphere, I've gotten books from reading other people's reviews and recommendations. Sometimes this resulted in me getting books that really, really didn't work for me, and sometimes this resulted in me walking the dog while shoving my face in a book (which then resulted in me walking into a couple of cars. Moving cars.)

In general, reading others' reviews works pretty well for me in terms of finding decent books. I'm the kind of YA reader who's not so much a fan of, say, Sarah Dessen or "Pretty Little Liars" (was that what it was called?), but the darker breed of fiction that makes me cry. If a book can bring tears to my eyes, I love it.

Does this make me a masochist?

When I read others' reviews, I can usually tell if it's the kind of YA I don't like so much (though on occasion I'm willing to try, if the review was really positive) or the kind I really-really-really like. This still isn't completely successful, because for some reason, the owners of practically every blog I follow like the other type. Oh, and to clarify - when I say other type, I'm not referring to, like, chick lit only, and I realize there are loads of other types, but for simplicity I'm just using these two. I've read a ton great reviews for books I disliked, and some less-than-great reviews for books I shoved in all my friends' faces.

Because of this, I wonder if basing books on other people's positive reviews has the same rate of book-success as how I used to get my books - turning my head at that awkward angle to read the spines, systematically moving from shelf to shelf in an effort to find an attractive spine with an attractive title, taking one out, putting it back, taking another, putting it back, muttering under my breath about why there are only about thirty-two different YA books in my library but six hundred copies of Twilight there, getting crazy looks from people around me, finally finding a decent book, reading the (always very positive) back cover, sticking it in my horrifyingly garish orange bag (it was free, okay? you don't turn down free things), and starting all over again.

It's a tiring process, but I'm not sure if it's more successful than getting books that had positive reviews. The main selection point when I'm at library is the back cover, with its reviews and blurb thingie. I know what the title of the post is, but the spines don't matter so much, because there really are very few YA books and I've read most of them. And that was after I conquered all the non-erotic books of the adult section (although I must say, some erotic books really look a lot like normal books, and then my eleven-year-old self was in for a shock). In any case, if a blurb sounds interesting and the reviews look good, I'll get it.

Similarly, if a review makes a book sounds interesting, and it's positive, I'll get that.

What about you? How do you choose your books? What's more effective - basing on review or basing on browsing?


And for the contest! I'm entering this one: Go and check it out :)

Bound: Review

Synopsis: In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well.

Details: "Bound" by Donna Jo Napoli, 184 pages, 3.5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: Pretty cover! I'd like to see something incorporating the whole thing with being bound, but it's very nice regardless.

I had mixed feelings on this one. I'm generally not the biggest fan of books based on fairy tales, especially those that try to make them modern fairy tales. Although this one took place in the past, it was rather predictable. I understand that might be the point of basing a book on a fairy tale in the first place, but I didn't find any places whatsoever where there was a plot twist I didn't see coming.

I also feel that the characters could stand to be a little more multi-dimensional. For instance, Xing Xing was relatively flat. All we really know about her is that she loved her father and mother, and she quietly rebels with her love for calligraphy and poetry. Her stepmother was rather lacking as well. Unless I missed something, there isn't really an explanation for her actions more than that she was just mean-spirited or something. Xing Xing's stepsister was interesting, but I didn't get much of a sense for her either.

The story was very simple and makes for a light read. I guess it's pretty good for older elementary students and younger middle school students, but I like more weight in what I read.

On the flip side, the one thing I thought was really quite well done in this book was the whole thing with the bound feet. The horrifying old custom was portrayed excellently; I remember stories in my family of my great-great-grandparents having to go through this, but it never really clicked with me how painful it has to be until I read this book. The scene with the cleaver made me cringe, not so much because I was squeamish (which I am, but that's beside the point), but how unhesitating the stepmother was and the mentions of it being common practice.

All in all, it was okay, but not something I would really recommend. Three smilies out of five.

The Guide to Social Interaction

Everyone knows writers are nerds. Psh. It's obvious! And everyone knows that math nerds are, well, nerds. It doesn't even get more obvious than that. You might also know that I'm not just a writer, but a math nerd too, which makes me something like a double nerd. Add in the fact that I'm just naturally a nerd, and I'm a triple threat!

Clearly, this makes me the perfect person to instruct you on the intricate world of social interaction. It's about as complex as eating a Twinkie (that is, for super-experienced people like me), and I've made pretty much every mistake it's possible to make, and I'm continuing to do so! So like I said, it's not just crystal clear, it's oxygen clear that I'm qualified to teach you this stuff.

Interaction 1: The Introduction

Every time you meet a new person, you have to go through this pesky business of introducing yourself. If you're a total nerd like me, introductions usually go like this:

Stranger: Hi, I'm Stranger.
You: *whimper*

But see, in my WIP, the main character's rather quirky and he's always cracking jokes and the like. He also compares one uncomfortable sensation to being digested by a dinosaur, so he's clearly awesome. Well, all the people who've read it so far have told me that if they knew my MC in real life, they'd want to be friends with him. Or almost everyone. Let's say like 20%. Yeah. So I figure, well, gee, 20% of the world's population is a lot of friends, right? And who doesn't want to have a lot of friends? So what you gotta do is make yourself seem just as quirky and awesome as my MC. Everyone likes a quirky person. Just look at all those agents seeking offbeat, quirky stories! Next time, try this:

Stranger: Hi, I'm Stranger.
You: I LIKE TO EAT COW LIVERS! AHAHAHA! The awkward way you're staring at me reminds me of being digested by a dinosaur. HEY, WAIT, WHERE ARE YOU GOING? IT WORKED FOR IZZY'S MC! WHY ISN'T IT WORKING FOR ME?

See? Now every stranger (or at least one in five) that you meet will suddenly want to be your best friend.

Interaction 2: The Awkward Conversation

Everyone's had a moment where you're with two other people and it's totally comfortable, and then one of them goes to do something "real quick", and you're left in awkward-dom. It usually goes like this:

Billy: All right, I gotta go kill a dragon real quick. *leaves*
Bob: Sooo...
You: Um. Um. Um. So what? AHAHAHAHAHA I'M SO FUNNY!
Bob: *nervous laugh* Y-yeah...

Well, that won't do at all! You see, people who are the sort to say "sooo..." generally have extremely low self-esteem. The last thing you want to do is freak them out by being out-going and quirky. You have to be gentle. Try to have a soothing, sexy voice. Men like listening to sexy voices - it makes them feel better and crap. I mean, it doesn't make them crap, it just makes them feel better and crap like that. Er, er, I mean, it doesn't make them crap at all, it just - it just - *whimper*. Anyway, be like this:

Billy: All right, I gotta go kill a dragon real quick. *leaves*
Bob: Sooo...
You: *swinging hips and stripping to a bikini* *sultry voice* You know, Bob... I think you have the most marvelous man boobs I have ever seen.

Flawless. Absolutely flawless.

Interaction 3: Introducing Other People

It's one thing to have to introduce yourself, but it's totally different when introducing others. If you're a nerd, it usually goes like this:

You: Billy, this is Bob, and Bob, this is Billy. Oh, wait. Was it, Bob, this is Billy, and Billy, this is Bob? Maybe it was, Bob, this is Bob, and Billy, this is Billy, or maybe it was something about a sultry voice? No wait, cow livers. Dragon livers? I LIKE TO EAT UNICORNS. No, wait, that can't be right!

And it just makes you feel completely weird, doesn't it? See, when people want you to introduce them to others, it means they're too shy to go introduce themselves in the cow-liver way you're now adept at. You have to help them overcome their shyness by revealing their deepest, darkest secrets to the other. Try this:

You: Billy, this is Bob. Bob still wets the bed every night, so he wears a diaper! Sometimes he even wears one during the day. Like now, if you were wondering what the smell was. And Bob, this is Billy. Billy's mother was an alcoholic and she abused him until he was eighteen because even though he's a dude, he's just really weak like that. He still struggles with issues now.

Your friends will thank you later, guaranteed!

What about you guys? What interactions do you struggle with that you would like me to add to the guide? Or do you have your own guide for various interactions? Do you guys think I'm the weirdest thirteen-year-old you've ever, ever, ever met?

The Sky is Everywhere: Review

There is an air conditioner in my room. It watches me when I dress. It watches me when I sleep. It whispers in my head.

And it's trying to kill me.

On that note, let it be known that I'm rather behind in book reviews. I've read five excellent books I wish to review since this Sunday (it's hot, there's nothing else to do! *whines* you can't expect me to write in triple-digit weather! and I can't use the air conditioner because it's trying to kill me, haven't you been paying attention?), and I have reviewed about zero of them.


Anyway, this is my review for a super-duper-positively-amaaaaaaazing book that gave me the happies when I read it.

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Details: "The Sky is Everywhere" by Jandy Nelson, 288 pages, 4.5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: Let's get something straight. I don't like Sarah Dessen and those types of books in general. I mean, Sarah Dessen is an amazing writer, but the stories just don't work for me. If Dessen-type romance was going to happen to me in real life, I'm, you know, completely and entirely open to that, but I'm not too interested in reading about it.

I didn't expect to like "The Sky is Everywhere" so much, but for whatever reason, I absolutely loved it. The story is heartbreakingly beautiful, and although it didn't move me to tears, there were parts that made me feel depressed for Lennie.

Writing a great book about romance is hard. Writing a great book about grief is hard. But writing a great book about romance and grief is incredibly hard, because there's such a huge need for balance. But Jandy Nelson pulled it off amazingly. She did Lennie's conflicting emotions wonderfully, and the plot, while predictable at points, worked extremely well.

The prose was poetic, almost lyrical, and I love the inclusion of Lennie's poetry and how she leaves her poems lying around on tree branches, slips of paper, walls, etc. Overall, this was a well-crafted book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA! 4 smilies out of 5.

Oh, and a note about the cover - at first, I didn't like it, but now I think it's absolutely perfect with the misshapen heart and the sky.

I Fell In Love

I thought I've fallen in love before. He was strong and sweet and sensitive, and we were young. Innocent. But he had problems - major problems - and talking to him was a drag. I had to force myself to continue conversations that were once long and winding and unrelenting in their beauty, and I tried to change him.

But it didn't work. Nothing worked.

And so at last, I was driven to put him in my closet and lock the door. He has suffocated.

He was my first real manuscript. The ones I've written between the ages 8 and 12 don't count. We, ah, we pretend they don't exist, in their 75-page glories. But we weren't made for each other. At last, I had to tell him, "I don't love you anymore!" and he accepted it.

If only my love life really worked like that. But we pretend that doesn't exist either. Trust me when I say you don't want to know the directions my love life goes in. Trust me.

Now, though, I have fallen in love again. This is all one, big, annoying metaphor for the fact that I've left Winter Child to collect dust because it simply wasn't working out and I had an urge to slaughter all my characters (even the hot one), and I began a new manuscript.

It has a working title. A bad working title, but I have to call it something. Are you ready? Don't laugh at me. No, seriously, don't laugh at me. Okay. Here goes. You're sure, right? It's not too late to scroll down a few paragraphs. All right, all right: Zombies and Other Unfortunate Circumstances.

ANYWAY we're going to forget I just told you that horrible title and move on *nervous giggle* *twitch* *twitch*.

Have you ever had to abandon a manuscript? How did you know it was time? Do you have an interesting love life? Er, I mean, why did you abandon it?

Whisper: Review

Synopsis: Joy is used to hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good, to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives - especially Joy's - miserable. Still, when Joy Hears a frightening whisper from Jessica's own mind, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car and running away with a boy she barely knows - a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

Details: "Whisper" by Phoebe Kitanidis, 288 pages, 4 stars on Amazon.

My Thoughts: First, the cover is amazing. I love the wispy depiction of a Whisper, and the subdued colors are brilliant for this book.

I love urban fantasies, especially when these fantasies don't include vampires, werewolves, fairies, unicorns, dinosaurs (actually, show me a dinosaur book and I will show you eternal devotion), and "Whisper" was right on the dot. Joy's power sounds really neat, but Kitanidis did a good job of demonstrating how every gift can be seen as a curse. When I first started the book, I was thinking how nice it would be to have the ability to hear people's desires, but then I realized that sometimes you're better off not knowing exactly what your friends think about you.

The book was suspenseful and well-written, but I would have liked to learn more about Joy's compulsion to make people happy. A few times, it was mentioned that she gets horrible stomach pains when she fails to help people get their desires, but it never really explained how she deals with this when she's, for example, in a crowd. Also, how does she manage to stop the Whispers from drowning out everything? Aren't people constantly harboring some desire or other?

I also feel like the story could have gone more in-depth with the characters. I never really felt like I got to know Joy or Jamie that well. Other than that, "Whisper" was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA. 4 smiles out of 5!

How to Make a Villain Evil

Naturally, this is a problem that occurs every day. You have the perfect villain. Or... an almost perfect villain. You're just missing the key little details that makes the villain super-duper-awesome in his evilness. For example, Stephenie Meyers did a great job of making her villain evil. There's a picture of him at the right. Oh, oops, was that not the bad guy in the series? I just Googled "scary stalker man in twilight" and that came up.

Here is a list of ten attributes of perfect evilness you can add to make your antagonist convincingly antagonizing because these are obviously completely believable traits that are all undeniably evil:

1. When eating oatmeal cookies and some raisins drop onto the plate, he doesn't eat those poor, lonely raisins. 

2. He sparkles.

3. He enjoys playing Robot Unicorn Attack with the purpose of crashing the unicorn into cliffs, rather than the true purpose, which is to have the unicorn fart rainbows while not getting poked by stars.

4. He is not a follower of this blog, but is reading this post anyway.

5. He is a follower of this blog but never comments.

6. He laughed while reading "The Glass Castle".

7. He laughs when people tell him that they're unpublished, unagented writers.

8. He doesn't think that the fact that 50% of people in the world have a certain parasite in their brain is cool.

9. He changes Asian people on book covers to white people.

10. His internal organs glitter.

What traits do you think  make characters evil? Add on to this list in the comments!

Racism on Book Covers

If you follow a lot of agent and writer blogs, you've probably heard of this controversy, but if not, I'll reiterate. Cindy Pon wrote a novel called "Silver Phoenix", which was an excellent novel I greatly enjoyed. I've read a handful of books with Asian(-American in some cases) characters that either took place in Asia or America, or both, and honestly, I think "Silver Phoenix" is one of the top five I've come across. It takes place in China, has genuinely Chinese characters, and "is inextricably tied to Ai Ling's empowerment through her identity, not just as a woman, but as a Chinese woman." This is the original cover:

It's a beautiful cover, too, don't you think? I mean, the colors are gorgeous. The girl looks strong and powerful, just like the theme of the book, and she's also Chinese. Like she's meant to be. If I hadn't heard of this book and I saw this cover in a library or a book store, I would go over and look at it.

Apparently, the publishing company didn't quite agree. In an effort to make it sell more, they decided to change the cover. Obviously the issue is the Asian girl. Just obviously. So what's the solution? Easy! Let's go and make the Asian girl nice and white and safe! Because, obviously, the sort of people who don't want to read a book with an Asian on the cover are the sort of people who would want to read this story in the first place. This is the new cover:

To be honest, even without considering all the racism and things, I wouldn't like this book cover. It just doesn't look so attractive. The girl is sickly pale, the title doesn't seem to match the cover picture, and just what is that ugly green thing hanging around her neck? It looks like something my dog sneezed out. Oh, and it's not enough to violate one book. They brutalized the sequel's cover as well:

Okay, can you get any whiter and non-Asian that that? The girl looks like she just stepped out of Gossip Girl.

I honestly can't believe this. I'm surprised they didn't ask the author to change her name from "Cindy Pon" to "Cindy Williams". What's next? Taking a book on Martin Luther King Jr. and changing the photo to that of a white man?

What are your thoughts on this?

Crazy Beautiful: Review

Synopsis: In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her.

But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does.

Details: "Crazy Beautiful" by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, 204 pages, 4 stars on Amazon.

My Thoughts: Now, I happen to like retellings of fairy tales in modern contexts. I also like romances when they're done well and realistically, especially when one  of the love interests is made unattractive to most people for whatever reason, so I really thought I was going to like this story. It sounded quite intriguing and the cover was genius. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Overall, "Crazy Beautiful" was written well. Lucius sounded, well, like a boy, which is a good sign considering he is, in fact, male, and I thought that Lauren Baratz-Logsted did a pretty good job of not making his brooding-loner-style too cliché.

However, there were some aspects of the story I didn't like so much. For example, Aurora was meant to be a nice girl who thinks well of most people, but she came off sounding naive or "perfect", like when she narrated, "This school really is just the nicest place!" There was also the part where she was discussing her allowance. Aurora said that she got a set amount of allowance each week, and if she wanted more, she could do chores, but of course, she's just an incredibly nice, sweet girl who loves her dad very much, so she does chores. For free. For the fun of it. Also, she never wants anything or asks her dad to buy her something.

I just have a lot of trouble believing that someone would do chores just because. Maybe once in a while to help out or something, but all the time, every single day? Combine this with the fact that when she saw Lucius had hooks for hands she barely gave it a passing thought because she's just that nice (no, seriously, everyone would have some thoughts about that, be it of pity, sympathy, wonder), Aurora appears to be suffering Character Perfection Syndrome.

One thing that sort of annoys me is when two people that fall in love are utterly attractive. Despite the fact that Lucius blew himself up, and his chest/stomach suffered seriously scarring and he lost his lower arms and hands, his face magically remained completely untouched and as beautiful as ever. I think the story could really have been interesting if Lucius's face became deformed or mutilated or something, which makes me think of a book I read a long time ago (probably five years?) about a girl who was seriously burned in a fire and she was definitely horribly mutilated.

What's hard for me to believe is that people would treat Lucius the way they did at his school. At my school, at least, kids that are disabled to his extent (something sort of noticeable but not really that bad - nothing that makes you eye-burning-hard-to-look-at) are pitied at first, but people usually get over it. In fact, they would become nicer rather than meaner, and sometimes too nice in an effort to not be insensitive. Kids don't usually make fun of disabled kids (in my experience) unless the disabled kid has some sort of mental affliction, in which case s(he) is generally avoided while a few jerks make fun of her or him. It's plausible that Lucius would isolate himself with his brooding personality, but I didn't really get a sense of this while reading.

I also would have liked more detail. Some scenes - especially the one at the party when Lucius tells Aurora exactly what the explosion was - seemed almost rushed, and the author never really explained how Lucius handled everyday things. The secondary characters also seemed rather flat to me, like Deanie and Jessup.

All in all, "Crazy Beautiful" was fairly good and it was entertaining. I may have been over-critical in this review (I did just finish reading "The Handmaid's Tale", so this wasn't very good in comparison), but I give it 2 out of 5 smilies.