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Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink is an interesting and deep read. From the first pages, you're sucked into a world where water is rare and one must do everything they can to protect themselves and the ones they love. Lynn is willing to kill anyone to survive, that is until she loses the only person she had.

Mindy McGinnis' debut novel is an inspiring journey which asks the ultimate question: what's more important - survival or living? Lynn and her mother, Lauren, live by a pond and guard it fiercely. The rules were simple: everybody was an enemy. When a simple errand goes wrong, Lynn finds herself slowly needing to open up and accept others into her heart to survive.

Not a Drop to Drink is very much a character driven novel, with little to no actual plot. That, however, is far from a bad thing as it gives us more time to form deeper bonds with the characters and building the world. Much of the novel is centered around all it takes to keep this operation moving. Hunting, logging, preparing meat. 

What McGinnis' succeeded in was creating a world which was different from ours but resembled it just enough to give Not a Drop to Drink a realistic and gritty atmosphere. She portrayed the brutality and the grittiness brilliantly, making Not a Drop to Drink a fantastic, and scary, read.

While the atmosphere is great, the actual world building could use some work. Very little was actually described and I found myself wondering what life was like outside of this little pond. We're told a bit about the one city but it did very little to satisfy my wants. If anything, I wanted to know more about the world after the little teaser.

Lynn's characterisation was one of the shining parts of the book. McGinnis made sure that she wasn't rushing Lynn's growth as a person during the course of the novel, which I appreciate. At times, McGinnis seemingly got a bit OOC for the sake of showing how much Lynn was changing. In the beginning, there were a few 'what' moments, especially when it came to the Lucy, the five year old girl that Lynn, for all practical purposes adopted.

I'm going to get sidetracked for a second and talk about Lucy. I think that Lynn's adoption of her was incredibly OOC. Lynn had just had some very rough things happening and she was emotionally a wreck, but this made her almost even more determined to protect the pond and survive. I honestly do not think that Lynn would have adopted Lucy that early on in the book. Maybe later, after getting to know her but definitely not that early.

The characterization of every other character, other than Lauren, was pitiful at best. None of them were developed as well as Lynn and that got a bit annoying. Eli, the love interest, was so underdeveloped and boring that it made it hard for me to understand why Lynn would ever get together with such a wimp.

Despite this, Not a Drop to Drink is a refreshing book, especially since good dystopia has become harder and harder to find. As debut books go, this is definitely one of the best in a while. I recommend it to anyone looking for a great gritty read!

Winger - Andrew  Smith

It seems like Goodreads has, for the most part, overlooked this title, which is a very, very sad thing. Andrew Smith has done something truly amazing here with Winger and it's a bit sad when you see how few people have read this book. 

I originally only picked Winger up because of my beloved Andrew Smith, but I was a bit apprehensive because well, the last two Smith books I've read were dark, depressing, and violent and I really couldn't see him write a contemporary book.

But the moment I started reading, I realised that I had made a huge mistake and that Winger was definitely as good, if not better, than the Marbury Lens series. 

Winger follows the story of Ryan Dean West 'Winger' as he traverses high school as a fourteen year old junior. He recently landed himself in the Opportunity Hall of his boarding school, where they keep all the school's worst cases, after stealing his teacher's phone. And of course, he manages to get put in the room with his arch-enemy, Chas Becker.

Ryan Dean's voice is one of those rare ones that are very unique. It was a voice that made it extremely hard to drop the book even for a few minutes, and to quote Cecil Baldwin, 'and I fell in love instantly'. I knew from very early on that Winger was not going to be a book I'd forget anytime soon.

As a character, Ryan Dean West was easily one of the most relatable characters that I've ever 'met', yet also one of the most average characters out there. He wasn't special, not really - not in the way that most YA characters are. Ryan Dean was a very normal character, and I think that contributed much to his appeal because much of popular YA has the main character special somehow, whether they be vampires or the next Katniss Everdeen.

Smith's writing was absolutely superb. He manages to trap the essence of a young fourteen year old boy, with all its ups and downs, amazingly well. He takes you on an amazing ride that will make you laugh and fall deeper and deeper in love with the characters and the school and the book, but by the end, all the book's hidden severity comes at you like a wrecking ball and you're left gasping for air by the end.

Under all of Winger's hilarity and romance is a very deep story which I'm going to try and lightly step around because the last thing I want to do is spoil the discovery for you. If you want to know more about it, I've put it under a spoiler tag. 

For most of the book, the subject of 'titles and labels' is briefly danced upon. It's talked about at times, but more often than not, only really there if you look for it. There are some quotes that really shout it out to you but chances are, you'll be more focussed on the humour of said quote than the severity and meaning.

“And then it's always that one word that makes you so different and puts you outside the overlap of everyone else; and that word is so fucking big and loud, it's the only thing anyone ever hears when your name is spoken. 

And whenever that happens to us, all the other words that make us the same disappear in it's shadow.” 


Certain things happen at the end and it kinda comes at you in a rush because for most of the book, it's been pretty light. Sure, shitty things happened but it was never really... bad, you know? There weren't any moments that made you wonder if there was more to the book but there were moments that were shocking, to say the least.

But at the end, suddenly everything hits you. I spent the last few pages in utter shell shock because the humour that had hidden everything before suddenly fell away and what I had was an utterly heartbreaking book.

(show spoiler)


One more aspect worth mentioning is the absolutely fantastic artwork. Sam Bosma's art is just brilliant, oh ym god, just look at it! The art adds another beautiful layer to the book.

In all, Winger is a book that I don't think I'll ever forget. I recommend it to everyone!

Reblogged from Archer's Asylum:
The S-Word - Chelsea Pitcher

Even though my rating doesn't really show it, THE S-WORD is a book that I really enjoyed. It's not perfect, as my rating shows, but it's very enjoyable. I would love to give THE S-WORD a full 4 star rating or even a nice shiny five star rating but I can't because it's my job as a reviewer to look deeper into a book. I've given plenty of books an initial 5 star rating and then dropped it to 4 or 3 (once I dropped a rating from 5 to 1 star) after I thought about it. 

The beginning of the book was addicting and all around amazing. If I just counted that part of the book, this would be a 5 star read. No doubts about it, the beginning to around 50% is a sure 5 star read. After that 50% mark however, the book started slipping. I began to skim a bit here and there and forget important details. I still enjoyed the book but I felt that I sort of had to push myself just to get to the next chapter. 

It became a chore to finish the book I had loved so much before. 

This lasted till the last 20% but then I found a whole new problem. One that didn't go away after a few pages. It was called "predictability". In the last 20% all the big surprises were unveiled but I guessed every single one of them. It was so disappointing and sort of ruined the ending for me, causing me to deduct another star.

Characters
Angie had a lot of similarities to other main characters in books such as Sam from the heartbreaking and wonderful Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver and Chelsea Knot from the beautiful Speechless by Hannah Harrington. She was the bad girl, that high school bitch who rules the school. She was despicable like these girls started off as.

However, she didn't have such an impact on me as Chelsea or Sam did. Angie was just not a character who really resonated within me like Sam did. I only really felt something at the end where I almost cried. It was just so utterly heart breaking. The only thing I could think after I finished was:



and then...



and finally...



If you don't know me, I'm not exactly an emotional person. I'm what people call "heartless" and "unfeeling" (mostly when I tell them I didn't cry while/after/before reading THE FAULT IN OUR STARS). I get really unexpected feels when reading some books though. This was one. 

In case any one wants to know why I cried, here it is. 


The other characters were, for the most part, interesting. I did enjoy many of them but for some, I just found them less then satisfactory. I can't really name any but there are some characters that I just didn't feel anything for.

Plot and Writing
Plot
As I stated above, this isn't exactly the hardest book to guess the plot. In fact, someone who is really bad at guessing plots for most books was able to guess the plot of the entire book. The plot wasn't bad really but the best part was really the ending.

Not the part where all the surprises are revealed but the last 10%. That really just destroyed me. It was wonderfully done and I applaud Pitcher. Fantastic work there. It was honestly... beautiful. It reminded me of the ending of BEFORE I FALL. It wasn’t nearly as heartbreaking and utterly devastating but depressing all the same.

Writing
The writing wasn't exactly THE S-WORD's strong suit. As reviewer Emily May said in her review said quite well: 

Some of the similes didn't sit quite right with me, one example is this "'Give it a rest,' I say casually, like I'm asking which celebrity they're most itching to bang." I found this particular comparison odd, shouldn't you say something along the lines of "like I'm talking about the weather" when you're being all casual, banging celebrities isn't exactly what pops into my head when I'm thinking of casual things but maybe I'm just more boring than I realized. Another thing that felt so unnatural I almost laughed was "It wasn't nice of her to sleep with my boyfriend", I mean, who actually says things like that? Who here could walk in on their partner and best friend getting it on and think oh my, that's not very nice, is it? But look, I have a broken nail.


Another point that I didn't like about the writing was the sense of detachment. I didn't really care what was going on during the middle of the book. That detracted from the overall reading experience greatly even though I only felt detached for around 30%.

Likes and Dislikes
Likes:
- Characters
- Plot
- Ending

Dislikes:
- Plot Twists
- Middle of the Book
- Writing

In conclusion
I really wish I could have loved this as much as other reviewers and readers did but sadly, it didn't really live up to all my expectations. I still recommend it whole-heartedly but THE S-WORD is not a perfect book but it's still a very enjoyable one.

Teeth - Hannah Moskowitz

I have written and rewritten this review so many times in order to try and capture every feeling and thought floating around in my head but I can't. I don't think it's possible to convey these feelings to anyone until mankind finds out how to do Vulcan mind melds or something of the like.

Hannah Moskowitz is an author whose books I usually love if I can get through them. But, I only very rarely get through them. It's definitely an "it's not you, it's me" sort of situation. I usually pick her books up when I'm not in the mood for angsty teenage feels. However, thanks to Twitter, she's one of my all-time favorite people so I pick her books up every time I see them.

I have never loved Twitter more.

I don't think that anyone else could've written this book or will ever write a book like this. TEETH is startlingly beautiful with wonderful, flawed characters. It's not perfect and it will definitely not appeal to everyone. 

Even though the book is very different from the rest of her work, I think that many Moskowitz lovers will enjoy the book as it feels like a contemporary even though TEETH is set on an island with magical fish and fishboys. 

TEETH is an emotional roller-coaster. It has its ups where everything everywhere is absolutely perfect. But then there are the downs where you don’t know if you’ll be able to continue reading for fear for the characters and your own heart that is on the brink of shattering into a million and two pieces.

TEETH is a extremely depressing book. I would advise you to not go into the book and expect a happy book ending. If soul-crushing endings aren’t your thing, I wouldn’t read the book.

The real magic of TEETH lies in its prose. Its magical, wonderful prose has the power to, within a few pages, suck you in with its characters and setting till before you know it, you’re sitting right next to Rudy, falling in love with Teeth along with Rudy.

The use of magical realism was one of the best parts of the prose. TEETH could very well be a contemporary as it reads and feels like one. The magical fish and adorable fishboys fit right in, not feeling out of place or odd in this otherwise contemporary novel.

The lore surrounding the Enki is both disturbing and fabulous. Christina from A Reader Of Fictions compared the lore behind the Enki to Greek/Roman mythology which is spot on. I enjoyed the gritty, messed up take on mer.


If John Green is obsessed with Maniac Pixie Dream Girls, Hannah Moskowitz is obsessed with filling her books with angsty gay boys and sick little brothers. Not that there's a problem with that. I know a lot of people don't like JG's Maniac Pixie Dream Girls, but personally, I adore them just like I adore Moskowitz's gay boys and sick little brothers.

Our resident gay boy is Rudy. Rudy is a solemn, very angsty kid who moved along with his family to a little fishing island filled with weird, magical fish and even weirder people.

Rudy’s little brother Dylan is sick so Rudy spends his entire day watching over him to make sure Dylan doesn’t die. Rudy loves his brother but no one wants to spend their entire life watching over a sick little kid.

What I absolutely adored about TEETH was that much of the story is Rudy’s internal conflict about whether his brother’s health and life was more important than his own happiness. Is one’s family more important than an animal’s life?

Teeth is the ugly fishboy who I Rudy fell in love with. He is flawed yet strangely wonderful character. He’s self-deprecating and occasionally annoying but he’s also loyal and sweet at the same time. He’s not a character that I usually would like but Moskowitz made him feel so real with his flaws and strengths that it was nearly impossible to hate him.

The side characters like Diana were very underdeveloped. Diana was Rudy’s sort of love interest who had mysterious connections to Teeth. She was a very one layered character – something I can’t say for many of Moskowitz’s characters. Her reasons for doing what she does are very plain and could have used a lot of fleshing out to make her seem more real. Likewise for the other characters like Dylan.

TEETH is a book that I would recommend to everyone, even though some people may not enjoy it as much as others. It’s gritty and romantic, but most of all it’s real, which is a bit weird considering the fact that TEETH is about a fishboy. TEETH is definitely one of the easiest five star books in a long time!

Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan

Maybe I read Boy Meets Boy with the wrong perspective, I dunno, but I definitely did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would have. I think I expected more realism, something that is definitely lacking in this book. While it's not a bad book per-say, but it's not a very unrealistic one. 

Boy Meets Boy takes place in a sort of LGBT paradise, where there is no hate and gay boys can be extremely popular and trans girls are on the football team and almost no one hates on them. I can tell you for a fact that that's not how the real world works, or at least the large majority of it. 

karen's review explains what I'm going to try and say in the next few paragraphs very well so I suggest you go check it out before attempting to slog through my much less eloquent take on it.

As a gay teen, I definitely appreciated the break from reading about LGBT teens go through horrible, horrible acts of physical violence and verbal abuse. Boy Meets Boy was a happy, fluffy, cute read that made me really happy. The world of Boy Meets Boy was everything I could ever hope for, you know. A world where I can have a girlfriend in high school without risk of being hurt and socially outed. I dream of a world where I can be mewithout being bullied about it. 

Yet, I couldn't help but see how much of an unachievable utopia it was and it was kind of depressing. I read about how the home-coming queen can be the quarterback on the football team. But I can't help think about all the trans teens that are killed because of who they are and it almost makes it worse.

I'm not saying that BmB doesn't talk about serious topics such as familial intolerance but these are concealed by the overwhelming happiness in the book. It was almost overpowering at times like people get a grip this is not High School Musical. 

While I really love how Levithan tried to change the norm of LGBT books but it made me almost sadder than a normal LGBT would make me because I know, this could never be real. The sheer unbelievable-ness of the scenario made the book as a whole less enjoyable than it would have been if it wasn't so... perfect.

But don't get me wrong, Boy Meets Boy has plenty of redeeming qualities to it. It's a cute and funny love story that explores the ups and downs of high school and of romance. The characters were really sweet and lovable as a whole. 

The love interest Noah is just a huge cutie and I love him. Paul was also very likable but as the story progressed, he really got on my nerves. Mostly because he messed up a lot because he was an absolute idiot when it comes to relationships. *sigh* Paul, you stupid ass.

Boy Meets Boy is an endearing, charming story that is worth the read even if it's bit too happy. It's a good fluff read and I would recommend it to be read directly after a tear-jearker because, damn if this doesn't make you happy nothing will.

The Weight of Souls - Bryony Pearce

There isn't really much going for this book other than the premise. Dude, how awesome is the idea of a girl cursed by ghosts to hunt murderers? For some reason though, Pearce thought it a better idea to make Taylor's social life the main point of the book instead of I don't know, her curse. 

Brilliant, just brilliant. Yes, that's a perfect idea. Focus on high school, because obviously that's going to attract more YA readers who can't read books without a huge focus on high school.



While, sure we do get some time focusing on the curse, most of the book doesn't pay much attention to it. I really only read the book because of the awesome sounding plot and Pearce does a very poor job of keeping it the center of attention. Instead it gets piled under loads of unnecessary bits and pieces that detract from the overall book. I don't get it. Why would you bog down your murder mystery with an boring drama and angst? 

It honestly seemed like, that even though there was a lot resting on this, Taylor really didn't care too much about finding Justin's murderer. She seemed more interested in his pretty body to be honest. It was more of something she had to do at some point but it didn't really matter when. If it took a while, she would basically shrug her shoulders and say "c'est la vie". 

Taylor, gurl, you do realise you, the main character, don't even care about your own plot? At all? I don't think that's how it usually works but okaaay...

Like I said, Pearce focuses so much of her efforts into building drama and angst that the curse is largely underdeveloped. We are given the bare bones to work with and are basically left to speculate about the rest. There is some backstory but it's presented in such a way that it makes it a chore to read through and I, like many others, really just skimmed or skipped these parts. 

The Weight of Souls isn't an entirely bad book. The main character, Taylor, is actually pretty cool. She's one of those fun narrators that aren't really amazing but just keep the book going and you reading. Taylor is pretty level headed and actually, fairly intelligent.

Before I end this review, I have to mention two things: Justin the asshole and the 'illusive super secret organisation' that is part of the mystery for a long time. 

Justin the asshole is this guy who's died and now he's a ghost who refuses to acknowledge this. He's also, *gasp*, the love interest. You're so surprised, I know. Who would have guessed right? Well, he's also the guy who bullied Taylor for years. You know, the guy who sent his goons after her. The goons harassed her and called her horrible things all under the blessing of this Justin guy.

Yeah, really romantic backstory.

Somehow, when someone bullies you, it means that they have a crush on you. Yes, friends, every bully that will ever bully you is actually someone who has a huuuge crush on you and you'll end up living happily ever after.



What? No. That's not how it works. Bullying ≠ Crush nor will it ever. Romanticizing bullying is absolutely horrible and should not be accepted. 

The second thing is much less atrocious, and more humourous. 

I'm going to try and not spoil anything but basically this extremely powerful club is a bunch of kids doing dares and having sleep overs. But not just any dares, *whispers* bad boy dares. Oh yeah, they're doing big kid dares. So. Scary.

There is a lot of unexplored potential in this book that really just went to waste. The Weight of Souls could have been so much more if certain aspects were fleshed out a bit more and others given a more minor role. Overall, The Weight of Souls was a huge disappointment. While it wasn't completely unenjoyable, it wasn't very good either. I don't really recommend this book to anyone.

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl isn't going to be a book for everyone. There are going to be a lot of positive reviews but it's going to have it's fair share of negative reviews as well. Fangirl isn't going to become the next big thing. Fangirl isn't going to be everyone's favorite book.

Fangirl is going to be a book for some people because Fangirl is a book for the people who live in world's created by others, whether it be the Harry Potter fandom or the Supernatural fandom. 

You may not believe me at first, but once you read the book, it'll become quite obvious. This book wasn't meant for the average reader who casually watches some tv or casually reads. It was quite obviously marketed to the fanperson. While anyone could read the book, this book is much more enjoyable when you can truly understand Cather, and her obsession/love relationship with the fictional Simon Snow.

The main reason I connected with Cather was for the fact that I totally got how her love for Simon wasn't just something she liked - it was so much more important. Cather wasn't always the most likable character but I understood her and her pain of having her best friends live hundreds of miles away. I understood how she felt to see her sister drift away from her and start to dislike her. I got her.

If you can't relate to Cath in any of the ways I mentioned, you'll mostly likely like the book less. Cath does some really irritating and stupid things in the course of the book that should have made me hate her. But oddly, none of them made me like her less but others may be less forgiving.

Cather isn't always a likable protagonist, as I said. She reminded me a bit of myself to be honest- if it's not too vain to say. She was angry and angsty but she was funny and adorable at the same time. She writes fanfiction and her bffs live half way around the country or even the world. 

The love interest, Levi, was probably the most adorable thing ever. Granted, he wasn't the most original or fully developed, but I do think the personality and the lack of extreme douchebaggeryness helped. I'm just glad he didn't make any rapey advances or stalk her.

He did do some... less than gentlemanly things during the course of the book. While it wasn't exactly his fault or something that would make me feel like I don't like him, it was certainly not a positive to his character.

One part that was less than positive was the fact that pretty much every character other than Levi, Cather, and Wren were absolutely irritating in every possible way. I wanted to slap practically every single character because they were all bitches for no goddamn reason.

Even the characters I liked could be so irritating and annoying that I just wanted to scream and ragequit, which doesn't happen very often. I can usually take irritation and anger fairly well but this was magnified by the fact that the rest of the book was just so amazing.

The plot was a fairly standard find-yourself thing but I really enjoyed it. I really like writing (in case you haven't noticed) and a book revolving around writing and Cather's inability to write anything other then Simon Snow fanfiction left me all but drooling.

The fanfiction aspect left me very satisfied but some readers might find this very gimmicky and tacky. If you didn't like the gimmicky aspects of How to Lead a Life of Crime, this may be very forced and annoying.

However, I found it absolutely amazing. How can a few snippets of fanfiction of a series that doesn't even exist make me want to read more? Um, because it's amazing - that's why. Absolutely fucking fantastic. If I don't see more Simon and Baz, I will probably be very disappointed.

This review is getting a bit way too fangirly so here's the tl;dr version (in hannibal gifs because yay):

 

 

 

 

Erebos - Ursula Poznanski, Judith Pattinson

As someone who has wasted fruitfully spent countless hours and weekends gaming or doing things related to gaming (aka crying about how I don’t have pc Skyrim or Guild Wars 2), this book was something that I obviously had to read. I was fairly nervous about it though because I had no idea how someone could write a good book about a video game. It's not really something that is easy to write since video games are a very visual and auditory experience that can't very well be replicated on paper.

Yet, somehow, even with Erebos' shitty translator, Erebos manages to convey the feeling of playing a fantastic video game while having an amazing plot at the same time. Many chapters are from the point of view of the video game character, which makes Erebos a wholly original experience in many ways.


Like I said, one of Erebos' biggest drawbacks is the absolute awful translator. Sentences are completely weird and often, whole paragraphs don't make any sense at all. The translator is German but obviously, they don't know how to translate at all. I can't really say anything about the writing because there is a high chance that Poznanski is an amazing writer with a really sucky translator. I'll have to get my mom to read it in German one of these days so she can tell me if the writing is decent or not.

Horrible translation aside, the story is amazing. I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up. The story was incredibly engaging and entertaining. Like a good thriller, Erebos kept you guessing for much of the book. It was a bit erratic at times and it wasn't very tight but I loved it anyway.


While you don't have to be a gamer to find the concept absolutely brilliant, but it definitely helps. A game that interacts very directly with the player and adapts itself to you? How awesome is that? It's both scary and amazing. 


I am happy to say that the concept was executed brilliantly. I am still in awe of how Poznanski handled the incredibly hard subject. It had the perfect feeling to it, one that put you right into the character's shoes. I fell headfirst into the world of Erebos and I'm still not over it. I really wish I could wipe my memory of it and reread it and re-experience it.


Another flaw to the book are the characters. They lack life and energy for the most part. I never really connected with any of the characters. 


The main character, Nick, was the worst. He felt more like a filler character that was created simply because Poznanski needed a main character. He didn't really have a personality and felt like a character that you should use as, I don't know, a body for you to put your personality into? I'm not sure how to describe it but Nick didn't feel like a normal character. 


I know I've said words like perfect a lot in this review but that’s really all I can think of for the book. Overall, I’d recommend Erebos to people who either like thrillers or video games – or both. It was an awesome read that deserves a lot more readers.
 

Splintered - A.G. Howard

I really don't know how to tell you how much I love this book. I'm pretty much sitting here thinking "wHAT IS WORDS" even though I finished the book two days ago and should, theoretically, know how to write this review by now.

But, I don't because I'm still in a state of



and while accurate, a review consisting of keyboard smashing does not make a proper review.

Splintered is an Alice in Wonderland retelling, a type of retelling I'm not exactly a novice about. I've read many retellings, watched many retellings, and for gods' sake, I've played American McGee's Alice (which, by the way, I wholeheartedly recommend). I'm definitely not new to the genre, yet Splintered still was an entirely new experience for me.

Instead of being a traditional retelling Splintered acts more like an addition or a sequel. It didn't really retell the story we all know, nor did it have any similarities when it came to storyline. In fact, the only similarities were characters. It functioned much like an AU fanfiction with the same characters but a completely different storyline.

While I could definitely see the similarities to American McGee's Alice in the world-building and overall feel to the book, Splintered was wholly original and beautiful. If you are not familiar with McGee's Alice, it's an very odd, yet thoroughly enjoyable, horror game in which Wonderland is turned upside down and about 217% wackier than the original. Likewise, Splintered was insane and unsettling at times, yet still lyrical. It managed to retain the Alice-ness of the original book, while still being a fairly original novel.

The best part of Splintered is most definitely the world-building. The world is as disturbing and unnerving, as it is beautiful and wonderful. The descriptions are vivid and bright, making the reader feel as if they are down the rabbit hole themselves, something often absent in average Alice retellings.

The first fifty pages of Wonderland are absolutely impossible to put down because of the vivid imagery and absolute magical-ness of the whole scene. It's incredibly surreal and just, a+ your parents should be proud of you Mrs. Howard. Honor on you and your cow. 

However, Splintered wasn't entirely perfect as there was one problem, whether it is minor or major is up to you. 

The majority of the characters of Splintered are very nicely done. Alyssa is a very nice heroine - appropriately kickass but also vulnerable. She is actually pretty likable, though admittedly not amazing. Morpheus, the star of the book, is extremely likable (which may be just me because he's not exactly the good guy nor a good guy). He is awesome and insane and brilliant. 

And then, there's Jeb who's basically the one character who doesn't really fit in with the book. He's supposed to be Alyssa's human anchor to the mortal world but, to be honest, he was more of a pain than anything. Just because you're flipping gender standards and having a guy be a Mary Sue and have him be damsel distress doesn't mean it's any less annoying and stupid. Damsels in Distress are annoying no matter the sex.

Admittedly, this is only one character among four or five many. This may annoy you more or less than it annoyed me. It's a relatively minor complaint, I suppose but it still managed to annoy me and pull me from the story because all I could think was, "Are you kidding me Jeb? Dude, seriously, again?"

Overall, Splintered is an absolutely beautiful, magical read that I recommend to anyone who loves Alice in Wonderland and even to those who don't necessarily like it that much. Splintered is a fantastic book that should be read no matter what.

Orleans - Sherri L. Smith

Startlingly original, Orleans brings a whole new take on the term "YA dystopian" or more accurately, brings the genre back to where it should be. Instead of focusing on romance and destructive government schemes, Orleans concentrates on world building and plot progression. 

The novel starts off with a punch, launching you directly into the gritty, dark world of Orleans where blood type determines everything and segregates the community due to the deadly Delta Fever. From very early on, it's easy to tell that the world building is most definitely Orleans' pride and glory.

The book starts off with an abrupt, yet fitting, introduction to how the world works without dumping it onto the reader. It tells of how much of the Gulf Coast was hit by numerous disastrous hurricanes and was quarantined after these disasters led to an even more dangerous plague. Now, the population of these areas is mostly living in tribes of blood type. Some 'types are more susceptible to the fever and attack other tribes for blood.

Smith's world is well fleshed out and beautifully constructed. It's not perfect; there are flaws and holes but for the most part, it's pretty nice. It's dark, grim, and, honestly, breath-taking. I am thoroughly impressed by Smith's brilliant approach and take on post-disaster Gulf Coast.

While the world building is fantastic, you can't help but marvel at the diversity of characters. It's neither a white dominated book, nor a black dominated one either. There's a vast diversity in ethnicity in the book. No one really cares too much about ethnicity anymore - as blood type is much more important.

The diversity is also quite subtle. It's not in your face like some authors do. Smith doesn't put "a African-American man" or "a Chinese woman" in ever sentence. It's subtle because, for the most part, the book is written in first person from the heroine, Fen La Guerre's perspective. 

Why does this matter?

Fen was raised, for most of her life, in this disaster, this wasteland. She was raised to survive and that was all that mattered to her. Even if it doesn't seem like it, we're raised to identify differences in people. Toddlers can tell differences in ethnicity just because of how we were raised.

Now, to a girl who was raised with one objective, would the color of someone's skin really matter?

Fen is a really excellent heroine. Unlike many others, her character growth wasn't bogged down by romance. Her character really felt like she belonged in the book. Fen felt like a character who really could be living in this world - or more accurately, a person who could really survive in this world.

Armed with only her wit, Fen is somehow supposed to get a newborn baby that was entrusted upon her across the quarantine zone and into the proper United States. Fen doesn't take the task lightly, but that doesn't mean she's not human. At numerous points throughout the point, Fen plays with the thought of letting the baby go to save herself.

Later she meets David, a young scientist in his early twenties. They team up to get the baby across the zone, though each has their reasons. Fen helps David to help herself and David the same. While their relationship matures, it never becomes anything more than a tight bond.

While Fen and David were certainly good characters, they weren't very personal characters. They were characters that you admire from afar, not characters that you can empathize with. I liked their characters a lot but I found it near impossible to step into their shoes.

Overall, Orleans is a pretty good book. It's incredibly readable and the plot and world is very engaging. While it's not perfect in it's world building, plot, or characters, it's really good and I recommend it to anyone who is either sick and tired of dystopians revolving around romance and tyrannical governments or just looking for a good book.

Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
Libba Bray's Beauty Queens was an amazing and hilarious book that I absolutely devoured. It not only lived up to all my expectations but, surprisingly, exceeded them. While I can't exactly say that its humor was my favorite aspect, it was definitely one of the best. 

The sharp and witty satirical humor that satirized reality shows, commercials, and the modern consumeristic world kept the book alive and also helped the book stay on the right side of the hair-thin line between "awesome messages" and "cheesy & preachy".

Well, almost kept the book on the right side.

For the most part, Beauty Queens was able to convey a really damn awesome message about how it's cool to be you without sounding like forced or boring. And that's cool. I like messages that aren't shoved up your orifices like in this book.

Many of the messages were very cleverly woven into the story but others kind of popped out at you like 



A few of them (and by few I really mean like one or two) were not only heavily laid on us but were actually said a loud like "Blehbleh McBlehBlergh finally realized that every1 was created equally and love and peace bros."

Without the wonderful characters, I'm sure that I would have dropped the book because the plot and world building aren't that interesting really. The plot revolves around the girls trying to survive and finding out that there's something more to the Corporation than it seems. 

Pretty standard plot to be honest. There wasn't anything that screamed different to me when it came to the plot. 

The world building was horrible. There wasn't any. I knew nothing about the world or the year or anything. The ending left a lot of questions unanswered. It was very obvious that the author paid the most attention to the characters and left lots of holes in the rest of the book.

The characters were the best part, hands down. I don't think anyone can argue with me about that. The characters are really the only thing other than the humor that was actually given much thought. 

Beauty Queen's wide range of characters makes the book interesting. Each character is given a few chapters in their POV so you get to know them. There aren't any "empty" characters and everyone has their own, developed personality.

What I love the most about the characters has to be the diversity, not just in personality, but also in ethnicity and sexuality. This book has everything under the rainbow (omg get it i'm so smart). 

The diverse and awesome characters truly make Beauty Queens special. It's not otherwise brilliant. Even with it's numerous faults, I would still recommend Beauty Queens simply for its characters and often really funny humor.
The Pirate's Wish - Cassandra Rose Clarke

I should have expected this book to be bad. It's not like I ever love sequels or the final book in a series as much as I love the first book. They're often not worth the wait in any shape or fashion. But for some crazy and illogical reason, I did expect THE PIRATE'S WISH to be as enjoyable as THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE, if not even better. Instead, it failed me in many aspects.

The story takes place only a few days after the events of THE PIRATE'S CURSE leaving our favorite heroes on the island, trying to find a way off so they can break the curse. If you remember, the curse can only be broken if Naji and Ananna complete three impossible tasks.

These first few pages were very enjoyable, though there were a few hints of what's to come. The book became even more entertaining for me when the manticore, Ongraygeeomryn (don't worry, she's never referred to with this name). Ananna and the manticore's relationship was quite similar to the arashitora and Yukiko's relationship yet the arashitora definitely surpassed the manticore is adorableness because it is simply not possible to notthink that a griffin snuggling up to a girl is the most adorable thing ever.

The book deteriorates rapidly when Ananna decides to kiss Naji, everything takes a downward spiral as Ananna adopts a "oh my gosh, I hate myself and my life and my hair and my body and my face and my lips" attitude. Because Naji doesn't want to be kissed in his sleep, Ananna suddenly thinks that her lips and her kissing technique is flawed.



Bitch, I wouldn't want to be kissed in my sleep and neither would you. That's sexual harassment whichever way you look at it. That's why he pulled a sword on you. Not because your lips are bad and your kissing style is poor. It's because he thought he wasbeing attacked.

This is definitely the point where it all went wrong. After this failed attempt at kissing him, Ananna started to sulk. Sulking is ok, we all do it. When your sulking lasts for most of the book, you know there's problem. 

Ananna was utterly insufferable because all she seemed to ever care about was getting Naji to like her. In the first book, Ananna didn't give a shit if Naji loved her or not. No, she was kind of busy surviving. In this one, whether or not Naji loves her is her biggest problem and her main concern. I mean, who cares if you're going to die as long as a cute boy loves you? 

She was definitely my biggest problem with the book, though not my only. My second biggest point of aggravation - no infuriation - was how the romance made it seem like Ananna's happiness depended on whether Naji was with her. Girl, you do not need a man to be happy. I would think that you of all people would know that.

Naji was pretty much the same but more subdued. By that I mean that all his badass witty comments are completely absent in this book and he spends his time fretting because he thinks these guys



will care about how ugly he is. I don't think that they're thinking, "Ew, he's like totes ugly." Dude, I'm pretty sure the only thing they're thinking is, "Oh look, yummy male-human! NUM NUM." 

There were a few really awesome parts. It's impossible for a book that not only has diva manticores but lesbian queens and armored sharks. Oh and pirate battles and manticore royalty. And an octopus. UM YES. That's so fucking awesome that I had to raise the rating by a star.

In the first book, the world and story was full of adventure and this something that I can't describe. It was like a drug. The moment you read the book, everything feels so happy and it's like you're floating on air.

But this book didn't have that. It just wasn't there. There wasn't a single moment that I felt like it even began to touch the feeling that I felt in THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE. It was still imaginative and creative but that feeling that I felt in the first book just wasn't there.

I really wish I could have loved this book like I thought I would've. It failed me in so many ways. I can't properly describe how devastated I am without either turning this review into a rant or making it sound very weepy. I'm so unhappy to say this but I can't recommend this book to anyone and I am unsure if I will want to read the spin off books.

Gone  - Michael  Grant

It's always kind of scary when you reread a book that you read from that mystical "Before I was a Reviewer" time. That time back when you wouldn't dream of giving books a one star rating and your problems with books were only "this was too short" or "the main character isn't superfragilisticexpialidociously amazing". 

It's always scary because even though you love the book so much, what if it's simply not as good as you remember it. What if you tarnish your memory of it by rereading it? What if you... hate it? 

And what do I have to say to these little feelings of doubt?

... you're probably right. I MEAN 



There is no way in hell that I wouldn't like this! Go away little doubt machines. We don't want you here. No one likes you!!!1!!

With all jokes aside, even with these feelings of immense doubt, somehow I managed to pick the book up again. All right - I was forced into picking this book up because I wouldn't buy LIGHT without rereading the series and someone wanted it really soon. Thankfully, I was sucked right back into the world of the FAYZ.

GONE is obviously the weakest book of the series but I really liked it all the same. I first got into these books in late 2010 and I fell in love with the characters and the plot. These are the books that initially made me want to read Stephen King because I knew that no other YA series would be as dark, gruesome, and oddly amazing as GONE was and still is.

One of the best parts of GONE is how realistic the actions of the characters are. I know an adult (who may or may not be my mother) who read these books and she repeatedly tells me how stupid the characters are sometimes. I do believe this is a matter of opinion and how you read the book.

I think that, to truly enjoy these books you have to stop thinking like a reasonable adult. I once read someone talking about how the kids’ first instinct was to go for the candy instead of looking to save the babies that were in abandoned cars and houses. The reviewer kept saying how idiotic that was. 

Yes, you're right. They should've looked to go save the babies and the young children. Especially since many of the characters are pretty intelligent. However, would I have done that? 

No, I wouldn't. I wouldn't have thought of that for a while and by the time that I did eventually think about it, they'd probably be dead.

Kids think, "Oh, all the adults are gone. I can eat all the candy I want because Mom and Dad aren't there to stop me." They definitely wouldn't think, "Oh shit, what about the babies in the cars and houses?"

As I mentioned, my friend is an adult. I'm not. The way I think is identical to the characters in the book. There are simply some scenarios which she can immediately say, "they should have done this and this and then they'd be done" whereas I'm like, "dude, that's more than I would've thought of."

Grant's characters are not only realistic but they're amazingly well developed. Every character has its flaws and strengths - some more than others though. There are some characters that are underdeveloped in this book. Personally I think Sam and Astrid are fairly bland in this book. They're both pretty lacking compared to characters like Lana and Albert. However, they are both still a very good characters which do eventually get the necessary building.

There are some characters that make you want to scream. In many instances, Sam made me want to throw the book at the wall. Dude, I get it. You're fourteen and you should be worrying about your algebra test and not keeping hundreds of kids alive. Angst is ok in this situation.

But please, stop it. You've had your time to mope. Please step up to the freaking position. All these kids look up to you and here you are sulking in the corner because omg responsibility.

What I love about these books is the fact that Grant doesn't sugarcoat anything. Violence, abuse, murder, rape - these books have everything. Everything that would have happened happens. There are many moments that I had to put the book done for a bit. While this one isn't as graphic or intense of the others, there are still a lot of these moments. I cannot recommend someone with a low tolerance for these sorts of things to read this series. 

Now, onto the bad things about this book because believe or not, there are a few of them.

1. Plot Holes and Continuity

It's inevitable with book with so much going on, there are simply going to be plot holes and continuity. It's not that bad the first time around but as I'm rereading the series, I'm noticing more and more of these. They don't detract much, personally but with so many, I find it necessary to deduct a star for that.

There are also a lot of plot details like (view spoiler) that are simply never mentioned again and forgotten about. I understand that's it's incredibly hard to remember all these plot details but at least, reread your own books!

2. Writing
I'll admit it. Grant is not a fantastic writer. He's sort of the J.K Rowling of YA science fiction. Rowling's characters are superb and her plot is amazing. Is she the best writer? No, she's not. Her writing has a lot of problems. Don't get me wrong, I adore Harry Potter but I'd still be the first one to tell you that Rowling doesn't know how to use any dialog words other then "said" and "asked".

3. Lack of Answers
From the beginning, it's obvious that Grant mapped out the series for 6 books. I understand why this book has zero explanation for anything but I do like my books to finish with a concrete ending and some answers. I don't like being kept in the dark. In all, the ending of GONE doesn't have a cliffhanger and I really appreciate that. Though I've read books with even less answers than this, I still would have liked some more answers then what I got.

Overall, the GONE series is still one of my favorites and GONE is an excellent start to a fantastic series. I recommend this book to people who can overlook plot holes, continuity, and often angsty stupid teenagers to see the truly amazing story underneath.

Going Vintage - Lindsey Leavitt

I've put off reviewing this book for a while, but not for my usual reasons. I'm not scared that this will turn into a massive rant or a bunch of fangirling nonsense. No, I simply do not know how to express myself here. I know what I'm feeling but I have no clue on how to say it.

GOING VINTAGE is the kind of book that makes you happy while reading even though you know it's absolute fluff. I don't like reading fluff for some reason. My "chick lit" (and I use this term very loosely) needs something more to it. It needs well defined and formed characters. It needs wonderful character interaction. I don't really care if it comes in dystopian, contemporary, or science fiction.

This may or may not be the reason I love The Walking Dead.

Lindsey Leavitt attempted to add the "more" into the book but she simply did not achieve what I wanted. Now, when I say I want chick-lit, it's often very different from what other people would think of when others say the same thing.

GOING VINTAGE will please a lot of people - and has already. It's a cute book with really awesome family dynamics - something sorely lacking in YA literature. It has an adorable romance and with an adorable love interest. My problem is with Mallory, the protagonist and more importantly, her lack of logic.

In GOING VINTAGE, Mallory's boyfriend cheats on her with a girl he met in a Sim-like game. Mallory then assumes that her relationship issues would never have happened if it weren't for electronics and decides to swear them off. Forever.

*facepalm* 

What Mallory doesn't seem to grasp is that a cheater is a cheater no matter where or when or how he does it. It doesn't matter what time period it is. Whether it be the 60s or 90s, there will always be cheaters. 

Now, of course, if Mallory had thought along these lines, the book wouldn't have happened and that would be sad. 

Despite her often blatant logic fails, Mallory is a sweet character. She's not all that bright and she's in love with the spotlight a bit too much, but she's not a horrible person nor could ever be called one. She stands up for what believes in and she's really a good person. She's a pretty awesome example of a flawed, yet strangely lovable character. 

She's definitely got her heart in the right place but I think she would have benefitted from some therapy and chocolate. I don't think she gets enough chocolate. *hands over chocolate to Mallory* 

The best part of the book was definitely was Oliver who was adorable and cute and squee-worthy. He's not my favorite or even close to my favorite but I really did like him. He was a genuinely nice guy for a genuinely nice girl - something that I don't often say.

As I said, I loved the family dynamics to the story. They were surprisingly deep. For the most part, YA books the families are lackluster. You'd think that a story with teen protagonist, they'd have a realistic portrayal of families.

LOLNO.

For the most part, none of the books have realistic families. They always have either perfect families or families that are so messed up that they become equally unrealistic. The family is GOING VINTAGE is perfectly flawed. There isn't a perfect family in real life and thankfully, this book shows that.

GOING VINTAGE is wonderfully fluffy and light. It's often hilarious. There was substance to the book but I just needed more than what I got. As I said, GOING VINTAGE will be perfect for a lot of readers, but for those who need something more than mindless fluff, this might not be the book for you.

Screwed - Laurie Plissner
For some reason, I'm really big on books about teens seriously screwing up. I don't know why but I really like to read about teens making dumbass decisions. So when I saw SCREWED on NetGalley, I was pretty happy. Sadly, it didn't work out for me.

SCREWED was about Grace, the daughter of two religious extremists, who screws up (no pun intended) and gets pregnant. She makes some really dumb choices (like thinking the guy she had sex with would actually care) and gets kicked out by her parents.

Well, this is all good and well until what happens after she gets kicked out. This book was supposed be harsh and real but instead, it ended up laughable. Grace gets kicked out and her neighbor, who turns out to be a freaking millionaire, takes her in.



There is an incredibly small chance that a nice millionaire lives on your street and would take you in. If I got kicked out, an extremely rich person who happens to have a really hot nephew certainly wouldn’t take me in. I would have much rather had Grace living on her own, adjusting to the real world.

I can hear the people crying, "but that would make for a boring story!" Yeah, my only answer to that is, I don't think it can get any more boring than what it was. 

SCREWED isn't a bad book, it's a really stupid and boring book. I want to emphasis this fact. I don't think that SCREWED is a horrible book. It's a bad book, yes, but it's not a horrible book. It was just really boring because absolutely nothing happened. There wasn't any drama or action that made me really connect with the plot or the characters.

The main character was so lifeless. Her only personality trait was how utterly annoying she was sometimes. The love interest kept calling her "brave" but really, she didn't do anything brave. She had sex, she got pregnant, she got kicked out, and a millionaire took her in. Like Grace's friend said, she was living better now then she did when she lived with her parents.

The parents of the girl were complete stereotypes of that religious evil parents. That's all they are. It would have felt sort of anti-religion if it weren't for the fact that I know there are people like that. People who'd kick their kids out to protect the parent's image.

Plotwise, this book didn't bring anything new to the table. It was a very bland rehash of numerous other books. CRANK was another fairly standard book but it had soul to it. The characters had personality and the prose conveyed FEELINGS, something that Plissner just couldn't do.

SCREWED definitely screwed me over (oh my god, these jokes are never going to get old). I thought it could be something really new but it wasn't. I cannot recommend this book to anyone.