Monday, December 30, 2013

Ten Miles Past Normal

Ten Miles Past Normal
Frances O'Roark Dowell
(Image from its goodreads page)

The summary is going to be from the Amazon page. Sorry, I just couldn't figure this one out.

Janie Gorman is smart and creative and a little bit funky…but what she really wants to be is normal. Because living on an isolated farm with her modern-hippy parents is decidedly not normal, no matter how delicious the goat cheese. High school gives Janie the chance to prove to her suburban peers that she’s just like them, but before long she realizes normal is completely overrated, and pretty dull.
If she’s going to learn how to live large (and forget the haters), Janie will have to give up the quest and make room in her life for things from the fringe—like jam band, righteous chocolate, small acts of great bravery, and a boy named Monster.
Woo hoo. Thank you, Amazon, for providing me a way to be lazy. And while we're here, a shout out to my computer, for reminding me that I have no excuse not to write a review. A thank you to you both.
Okay, onto the actual part.
I loved Janie's character and voice. She was a really easy to relate to (someone tell me why "relatable" isn't a word, it would make my job SO much easier), regardless of whether or not you live on a Mini-Farm. She has a tendency to rail about her past self (who was very young and enthusiastic) and parents, but not as much complaining as a reviewer in a bad mood. As we should respect reviewers in bad moods, the amount of venting was also worthy of respect. It was just at the point of "Oh, yeah, I totally understand, literary character who cannot hear me speaking". I'm making this sound odd, but I'm sure you'd like it, reader who cannot hear me speaking.

But, as always, I must point something out that only vaguely has to do with the book. While I don't blame the author, Janie's character is the kind of character I see all the time in YA books with female protagonists. Tom-boyish, sarcastic, brown hair.

Ignore that last part.

Or don't.

Either way, I'm getting kind of tired of the generic "Sassy and Independent Barbie! (Boyfriend Included!)". It's like the be a "good character", the MC has to be masculine or, at best, gender-neutral. Anything that could even be considered feminine (the color pink, dresses/skirts, purses, make-up) is automatically shunned, deemed something for "cake-faced idiots that only know how flirt". Seriously? Can you not? Somewhere out there, someone is agreeing with me. I'm sure.

Ah, a lovely tangent we had there. Okay. Let me continue.

The supporting/secondary characters were well-written, too. Ms. Dowell either did a lot of developing outside of the story for them (the book wasn't particularly long, so most characters only had a day in the limelight), or had a great method of covering up that fact that she has no idea about these people at all.

Sarah, out of all the non-main characters, was my favorite. She had a kind of popular-girl dynamic, but without the automatic hatred you are supposed to gain upon hearing her name. In fact, I didn't feel a grand hatred of her at all. She was 100% unloathable. A wreath of flowers and a maple doughnut bar to you, author lady.
The plot itself was hard to follow, assuming there was an actual A to B plot at all. For the most part, it was a bunch of events strung together to make a story. It's... I'm noticing that a lot now. I mean, Wintergirls, Out of the Easy... What does this mean? Why are there so many "snippets of life" stories? Do they deserve a name yet? 

We'll assume that it's on of those, which I shall now call a SOL book. In which a case, this was a very good one. It even tricked me into thinking there was a plot, the sneaky little thing. However, if there was some kind SOLless plot I'm missing, it didn't do too great.
The emotions, I am so very glad, were realistic. It was easy to get lost in the going-ons of Janie's life. 
Sadly, I must now pick out the one thing that irritated me.  If I didn't, this would be "senseless praise", not a review.

The plot points, while I loved (almost) all of them, didn't get much attention of their own. They only really got short moments in the sun, and were kind of episodic. Personally, I think that either they all should have had a little more time spent on them, or some of them should have been dropped. There were just way too many things going on for any individual part to really get interesting. 

And the main one I must prey on was the romance. Oh, don't you gasp, you saw it coming from a thousand miles away. 

While the Love Interest (Monster) was interesting as a character and friend, that's what he did best as. An interesting character and an awesome friend. The romantic aspect was just taking time away from the other parts.

Trust me, the "other parts" I keep referring to vaguely, are pretty cool. Civil rights, hootenannies (Oh, so hootenanny is a word, but relatable isn't. Come on.), a vendetta against chocolate, crime-fighting goats? Well, not the last part, but you get my point.

Overall, pretty good book, would recommend it, thank you and good night.


Thursday, December 26, 2013


A tad belated, but, eh. For the giving spirit and because giving money is easier than trying to find a present for people. - I mentioned this in a review (A Long Walk to Water). The website explains itself.  - Yay for reading! Also, this kind of tea donates a dollar to it when you buy it. So you can give the gift of tea, too.

Build Africa - No one cares that you hate school. It's still necessary.

Hurricane Haiyan - Not an actual charity, but it gives a list of reputable charities to pick from.

Red Cross - All around goodness.

Heifer International -  Because giving goats to people for their livelihood is a lot better that giving socks to people you don't like enough to actually find a good present for. - Okay, actually, we kinda care if you hate school. For reasons other than just because it's boring.

The Humane Society - Aminals! Animals! Whatever.

Ally Cat Allies - More cats? Less cats. No. Good cats.

Public Benefit - Another list of charities, this one for public benefit.

Book- Teen's Guide to Global Action - Not a charity, but...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds
(Image from its goodreads page)
Cat Winters

It's 1918, and death hangs in the air. Influenza and war have ravaged not only Europe, but the hearts of the American people. When Mary Shelley Black finds out her first love, Stephen, has died, she's grief-stricken. But when his spirit returns to her, she's determined to learn more about what happened to him.

Okay, I'm not huge on historicals (you may notice that they're an endangered species here), and I rarely get through them. This is definitely one of the better ones.

It took a while to get into this book. Nothing particularly interesting happens for the first two, three chapters or so. So I was just kinda sitting there like, "It'll get better. It'll get better. Going sooooo sloooowwww, but it'll get- HURRY UP." I am an impatient person. This took me two check-out sessions from the library to get through it, just because the beginning didn't pass quick enough.

But it's like a slingshot. Cat Winters pulled it back ever so slowly, took target (your very being), and let go. Once Stephen died (it's not that big of a spoiler, get over it), it was off. And Mary Shelley the rock was speeding ahead at speeds I didn't think rocks could reach. And I enjoyed that.

The plot was faaaaabulous. It was well executed (trust me, there are so many bad ways to write a murder/ghost book) and once we reached that flying point, well timed. 

The style was awesome. You have no idea (or maybe you do- maybe you spy on nerds and are freakishly obsessed about what they read) how many ghost or otherwise paranormal books are purple. Like, 'Okay, I see we know how to use our descriptors here. But what are you talking about?' I am so glad this book defied my expectations.

The characters, however, I wasn't so fond of. Most of them were fairly two-dimensional. Their actions got predictable once you found out their main characteristic. And it's never good when characters have a main characteristic. People don't usually have one personality trait that defines their existence. And I can tell you those traits right now.

Mary- She's smart. Really smart. Super smart. She does smart things. Smartly. And she's brave. Like Harry Potter if he was a Ravenclaw. Because then he would be smart.

Aunt Eva- She's superstitious and protective. She's protective because she's superstitious. Or maybe not. We'll never know.

Julius- He's creepy and no one loves him.

Stephen- He's brave and hot. Oh, and smart. I guess.

Well, that's not the entire cast, but you know. Now, I didn't mind that Mary was smart and could, thank the gods of Asgard and Vaniheim, do stuff by herself. She didn't need Stephen to give her step-by-step instructions to get the job done. She is the girl, in concept, that I have been waiting for for SO LONG. But it the whole intelligence/bravery combo thing was kind of shoved in your face. And there didn't need to be (SPOILER SPOILER SKIP THE REST OF THE PARAGRAPH OR YOU SHALL DIE AT THE FIREY HANDS OF THE GODS) so much dying for her. The briefly-got-the-flu-and-survived thing was just a little much.

La, the emotions in this book. They were so deliciously well written. And there were a lot of them- you can't write about death and not have them. HAIL TO THE CAT OF WINTERS.

A good debut novel, I expect more from her soon. :D


Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water
(Image from The Beachwood Reporter)
Linda Sue Park
I'm having trouble trying to summarize the book, so here's the summary from Goodreads:

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Thank you, Goodreads, for solving almost all of my literary troubles. 

I just finished this book this morning, and since I have to compare all YA books with younger-age characters to Diamond Willow, I must say that this is a Diamond Willow. You do not have to be an eleven-year-old to enjoy this book. But you can be. Or maybe not. Who cares? Despite having two protagonists that are eleven for almost all of the book (SPOILER ALERT: Salva actually isn't eleven for all of it, though), it was pretty non-age specific.

The writing style wasn't my usual kind of read, but it still did it's (amazing) job of pulling me into the life of the characters.

The pacing was flawless, and so were the characters. I just wish that we would have heard a little bit more from Nya. I feel like the little snippets about her at the beginning of the chapter could have been just a little longer. 

Just saying, bring a box of tissues for reading. This book can and will make you cry. Sometimes, it's hard to realize that not everyone has running water and a computer to type reviews on while sipping tea. And the realization is hard. But knowing is better than any kind blissful ignorance. You can't try to help if you don't know.

And, ah, there were so many quotable lines in this book. In 112 pages, it had more memorable lines and moments than in most 400 page novels. Alas, I could not highlight anything because it's a library book. 

Okay, I'm sorry that this review was so freakishly short. I mean, five paragraphs of actual review. Very, very short paragraphs, too. Frankly, since this book is based on the childhood of someone (Salva Dut), I feel kind of odd reviewing it. Like, I'm reviewing parts of someone's life. And it was impossible to tell which parts were fact and which were fiction except for Nya's parts. Or even if Salva's narrative was fiction at all.

Interesting fact: This is why I didn't review The Queen of Water by Laura Resau and Maria Virginia Farinango (my computer doesn't allow me-to my knowledge- to make the accent mark in Maria, so sorry for that). That was an awesome book, too. Why did I review this one, then? The world may never know.

Also, this is Dut's organization that builds wells in Sudan-

So you know. :3


Friday, November 29, 2013

The Future of Us

The Future of Us
(Image from
Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Heya! So, you might recognize the second name on this cover. Carolyn Mackler is the writer of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. You might also recognize Jay Asher's name, for Thirteen Reasons Why, but I'm assuming you have no life outside of this blog.

Okay, onto the description

It's 1996, and Emma got a computer from her dad as a guilt gift for also giving her a stepsister. Josh, her next door neighbor and long time friend (until recently) comes over with an America Online CD-ROM. But when Emma puts it in, it gives her Facebook. One problem, though.

Facebook doesn't exist yet.

Suddenly Josh and Emma are looking at their lives fifteen years in the future. And everything they do changes that page.

I think it's obvious why I would want to read this book.

I love the plot with all my tiny, lead-hard heart. Love it so much it hurts.

The collab sounds like a good fit, but there are some moments when you can see the thin line between who was writing. It isn't particularly bad, so don't worry, though.

A big shout-out for these two for not having the two opposite-gender characters punch you in the face and then strangle you with romance. Cue confetti cannon.

As I sweep up this confetti, I shall tell you about the characters. Emma was generally likeable, if a bit control obsessed. Of course, if I knew what was happening in the future and could at least try to fix it, I would too. Most of her decisions were relationship-driven, however, which wasn't my favorite thing.

Josh was, while flat at times, mostly interesting and well-written. There really isn't much else to say about him.

The writing style was pretty simple. Not in an unintelligent manner, but in a "this is how it is and this is what they're thinking". Also a bad description. Basically, it wasn't flowery and purple. Not beige either. To paraphrase Goldilocks, "The style was juuuuust right."
This book has a way of messing with your mind. Yes, my friends, every action now will change the future. Every. Single. Thing. Besides pouring water on the carpet. But never mind that.

As a sci-fi story, I would have liked a bit more explanation on how things were happening. However, not every book does that, I have to accept it.

Overall, it's worth a read.

~ Corinne

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cinderella is Evil

Cinderella is Evil
(Image from the author's website)
Jamie Campbell

This is, sadly, only a short story. We can't have everything.

Cinderella is Evil is the classic story of Cinderella told through the eyes of one of the ugly step-sisters, Anna. 

Since that was a horrible description, here's a link to its goodreads page-

 Okay. On we go.

I'm getting really tired of all the Cinderella stories in YA. Cinder was good, but the sheer amount of Cinderella stories is staggering. And kind of sad. And really unoriginal.

This story is not a Cinderella story.

Well, it is, but it's a Cinderella story that isn't based on a 'boo-hoo, life's so sad' heroine who doesn't do anything but fall in love. This story was original and entertaining, with the voice of Anna living up to all of my literary expectations.

The story shows how Cinderella is shallow and unfriendly without making them her only characteristics or without reason. It kind of balanced everything out, like, 'yeah, Cinderella is a jerk and all, but hey, why shouldn't she be?'

A large portion of the story focused around the ball and preparations for it instead of whether Anna would help Cinderella with the whole shoe thing. The description promised a little more of that, and I felt disappointed there wasn't just a little more of after the ball kind of stuff. However, it was still good. It's not like everything that happened was shoved into one page, which it could have, considering the length of the story (it's not extraordinarily long for a novella).

The formatting was a bit strange. I didn't think it really needed chapters, just...


What are those called-


That kind of thing. Page breaks? No... Whatever. The point is that it didn't really need to be defined by chapters. 

The descriptions were well thought out. Mind the tangent, but the descriptions in fairy tale retellings always seem to be so flowery. I mean, a bit of description is great, but 'the curtains were blue' is just as good (better, even) as 'the curtains, an azure blue like the sky of a crisp autumn day, tiny bone-white Fleur-de-lis lining the edges of the satin fabric, hung in front of the window'.

Back on topic. The descriptions were simple when they needed to be and more complex at appropriate times. Who cares about those blue curtains? The dress is where it's at. The dress deserves way more than those dumb curtains.

The romance in it seemed kind of misplaced. Well, it was important, in a way, but at the same time, I don't feel like it was totally necessary. I can see it as a 'looks are superficial, people can still love you' moral, but you know. Just my opinion.

Also not the point. The point is that this story explains the life of the ugly stepsisters and cushions and betters the backstory of Cinderella. It deserves a read.

Though I agree with the person on goodreads who put it in the 'bad covers' list. Sorry.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Broken China (a non-review)

Broken China
(Image from its goodreads page)
Lori Aurelia Williams

This is a book I am highly disappointed did not get a gigantic gold medal to show off on the cover, because it was way more deserving of it than most of the books that do.
This is a non-review because the book is roughly eight years old, and while I know I've reviewed older, I've got policies on that kind of thing now. This is mostly for the purpose of getting it out there.

Onto the description.

China Cup Cameron had her baby, Amina, when she was twelve. Two years later, tragedy falls in the form of a heart condition no one knew about, and Amina dies. The funeral is much more than the three thousand the insurance company will pay for. China's uncle can't work, but China can. Even if it's at the local strip club.

This book is two things that are hard to find together in YA- important and interesting. You'd be amazed how hard it is to find a book like this. (Almost) All the stories about big, hard topics are boring. Most of the ones that can keep my attention are more of light reading. It's horrible that way. But Ms. Williams pretty much punched that standard in the face. Good on you, Ms. Williams.

The characters are fun to read and realistic. The pacing was fast, but not pull-you-along-razzle-dazzle-impossible-to-read fast. I'm planning to force myself to forget all the details and plot points to enjoy the full experience over again later. Of course, forgetting won't be fun, but let me do what I do.

Once again, not a review. Many apologies. But, seriously, awesome book.

Expect an actual review when fairly soon. Yeah. Sorry again.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Apologies and other such assorted things

I, Corinne of Yasreadyas, solemnly apologize for the utter lack of reviews. Yeah. School has taken up a lot of my time. But, in my free time, I shall make a list of books that I'm in the middle of that have, so far, been awesome.
(Pictures will be added later)

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Broken China by Lori Aurelia Williams

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Blood Calling by Joshua Grover-David Patterson

I will finish at least one soon, and I promise I'll do a review as soon as I'm done.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Things that make me avoid books

They say not to judge a book by its cover. I kind of do. These are the things that keep me away from 90% of bad YAs. (To be added onto later.)

I will not read your story if the main character’s name is just a mutilated version of a real name. (Abygale, Jazmin) I don’t want to earn a migraine from trying to make sense of the names.

I will not read your story if the main character’s name is blatantly connected to the plot. (Fallon A. Engel in a story about fallen angels, who’d a thunk it?)

If within the first sentence of describing Mr. Love Interest, the word ‘chiseled’ is used more than once, I will not read your story. I will lose hope at the first instance.

If you want to write a story involving paranormal creatures, that’s just ducky, but you are not allowed to ‘forget’ major characteristics of the race you are writing about. Vampires don’t live on hugs and kisses, guys.

Relating to that, if your story is based on an actual mythology, you must get your facts straight. And no saying ‘but what ACTUALLY happened was...’ No.

I will not read your story if I cannot pronounce any major character or place’s name.

If the first sentence of the summary is praise for the book and not by a person other than the author, I will not read your story.

If the title contains any of the following, I will not read it:

His [adjective] Heart
The name of any precious gemstone and then the following: Boy, Girl, Heart, Mind, Soul
Any color and then ‘Soul’ is also not permitted
Oxymorons of any type
Parts of an adage are allowed, but don’t use the whole thing, please

I will not read your story if it at any point vehemently denies any belief system.

I will not read your story if the cover includes a shirtless person of any gender, even if they are wearing a bra. And I am entirely aware City of Bones has that exact thing. There are rare exceptions.

If most of the descriptors are referencing to celebrities or TV shows, I will not read your story. I don’t know who these people are and if I wanted to learn I wouldn’t be reading this book.

I will not read your story if your alien species has a monarchy and that is never explained.

I will not read your story if the title is in a language I do not speak. Not because I assume it’ll be a bad story, but because I will think the entire thing is in that language and figure I can’t read it.

If you describe your character as ‘independent and strong’ but she needs her boyfriend/family/friends to do anything, I will not read your story.

How badly is the cover photoshopped? Are there dead pixels? Do different parts of the cover have different lightings? If so, congrats, I’m not reading your story.

If you write out accents, I will not read your story. (“Ah ain’t got no funkah ack-sent,” he said southernly.)

If the love interest is described with any more than one of the following words, I will not read your story:


I will not read your story if more than two normal words are capitalized to make them sound more “magical”. (“But... her Essence!” She cried, fighting the burning tears rapidly filling her eyes, “What will happen when the Shimmer comes and brings the Twilight?”)

I will not read your story if instead of saying “Book __” like a respectable person, you say “Episode __”.

I will not read your story if there is punctuation in the title.

I! Will! Not! Read! Your! Story! If! There! Is! More! Than! One! Exclamation! Point! Per! Paragraph!

Monday, September 23, 2013


Madeline Roux
(Picture from

Daniel is a gifted student. Not in a paranormal sense, but a legitimately-smart way. He decides to go to New Hampshire College Prep, a five-week course for those wanting to enrich their educations. But NHCP harbors a dark secret, one that can only be found by going headlong into it.
I read this book in a day. This is saying something, because I'm usually a fairly slow reader and this wasn't exactly a magazine.
So, I'm sure you can assume from that that this was a good book. The main character, was fairly well developed and the plot was intricate and interesting. 
I like ghosts, so I'm going to have to say that this review might be a bit subjective. But otherwise I probably wouldn't have read the book, so that's how it goes with most of what I review. Sorry. 
You pretty much can't mess up ghosts for me. Actually, you can, but let's not delve into that since these ghosts were awesome and I don't want to get side-tracked. Yeah. Freaky messages, unexplainable notes and untrackable texts? Count me in. And I am so, so glad of this, Ms. Roux didn't go overboard with it. I know, ghost story, gotta be creepy, but when you put in too much writing on the walls? Nada. It's annoying, not suspenseful.

The characters I didn't like quite as much. The only one that really clicked with me was Dan, the narrator (which is kind of a shock because I usually hate the MC). Abby didn't seem to develop all that much, and Jordan finally confirmed the most bizarre trope I have ever seen in YA: The Camp Gay Sidekick Who Comes Out Really Early On Even Though it Doesn't Make Sense and Disappears Conveniently for the Romance to Take Hold. I'm not kidding. I have seen that way too many times. It doesn't even make sense. He comes out in the first minute he knows Dan. That's just wrong. And then he disappears when it gets lovey dovey. That's just odd.

Eh, enough about that, let's talk about the plot. As I said, it was intricate and well developed. I can't go too far describing it simply because I don't know how. It was good, okay? There. That's all I can say, that's all I care to say. I don't want to be too spoilerful. Spoilerriffic. Spoiled. Uh. Something. I don't know.
Okay, so, awesome. Let's get to the one thing that really, really bugged me, because something always does.
This book was extremely predictable.

I don't know if it's just me being a jaded little book emo or what, but I found it really predictable. I knew who the love interest would be as soon as we saw them (hint: it's not Jordan), I knew the antagonist and the antagonist incarnate.

I kind of blame Far, Far Away for the figuring out the physical antagonist, though. Yeah. I think otherwise that would have been a shock moment.

Overall: Good book, short review, kind of predictable, weird tropes with gays.


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls
Julie Schmaucer

Adrienne Haus liked reading, she really did, just not with other people. And most certainly not when she's signed up for a mother-daughter book club. She has three other literary prisoners to keep her company- Jill, who was pressured into it because she 'needed to socialize', CeeCee, who bashed up her parents car and had her trip to Paris canceled, and Wallis who, for reasons unknown, actually wanted to come.
Of course, it couldn't be a regular book club where you eat fancy crackers and discuss classics. Book clubs can kill.
... Uhhh... Well, I've got to say, I can't explain it that well. I assure you it was a good book. I shall now review it.
I'm going to start in the exact way I do not enjoy starting- I LOVED this book. Correction, I loved the book after I was done. Not in a 'thank Moosamoset it's over' way, but because it took a while to really get into the book. And then it basically strapped you in, and in a gruff voice said, "You know you ain't comin' out again, right?" You, fortunately, have no control as to whether or not the car starts, since it was a rhetorical question. Then you laugh and scream and cry like a maniac.
And that's when the ride starts.
First turn, laugh. This book was awesome. It didn't try to force humor where it wasn't welcome and it didn't go bland. Though there were a couple moments which I think might have possibly probably were supposed to be jokes that didn't quite make sense.
Second turn, and you scream. I'm sorry, but somewhere in this review I have to mention the books weak points. None of them are actually scream-worthy, luckily. Just a couple of pet peeves  of mine that I must now whine on.
Okay, so I already mentioned that it was slow to get into. Yeah. Okay. Won't go farther on that. And you know how great I am at complaining about MCs, but there was only one little thing that irritated me about her, and I'm sure we've all seen this problem before: If she's such a bookworm, why does she only read classics? I get it, they're easily recognizable and their copyrights have probably expired, but still. Can one YA MC read, well, YAs? What kind can't you type up a bad summary of a random idea in the back of your mind and call it a book? You don't even need a title.
And then, per every book that wants to send a message, there is the drinking scene. I shall summarize all of such scenes, this book's included. Girl does not EVER NEVER drink. Girl is offered alcohol. Girl takes alcohol. Girl complains about alcohol, either in dialogue or in thought. Girl commences to drink a whole lot. Drunk scene. Faints. Hangover/consequence scene.
Thank you, thank you. I understand this time the scene was actually kind of important to Adrienne's development (shy, unassuming girl becomes rebellious that's just as unique as everyone else), but there could have been a better substitute. Come on, something. If anyone has any idea on a substitute for this scene, please inform me. It's getting boring.
Third turn, now we go up a hill, cry. You bounce along in your seat, both dreading and getting anxious for the inevitable drop you will face, along with the twists and loops of the following track. This is edging towards the climax, so the emotions are tight.
Very tight.
Very, very tight.
Tight as emo jeans.
I appreciate the change in tone from 'summer read' to 'book I will remember and author I will look up to'. This is when I actually grow attached to the characters, when I finally get a favorite. The emotions are right and are shown instead of told. *applause*
You've reached the peak of the hill, and the moment takes centuries of looking down the hill to drop. Then, in the blink of an eye, the climax is over and you're rushing towards the epilogue.
The ending.
The ending the ending the ending.
I LOVED the ending. Eeeeeeee! Plot twist! Twist twist! DON'T CARE.
Not like I get anything such as, say, a few, a lot of my questions answered, but that's part of the ride. You have to answer some of your questions yourself. It's practically inviting fanfiction and giving it a mint as it comes through the door.
Highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I am so, so sorry

I've been too busy (not too busy for reading, but too busy to read books I feel comfortable reviewing) for any real posting, so I shall cry.


Well, now that that's over, since I still have not found a book worthy of reviewing (in other words that I could finish without falling asleep during) that was still in my league (in other words not so popular that people might get angry with a review they didn't agree with) I shall give you a list of helpful resources for writing. Because I can.

This lovely blog about nearly everything

This amazing Deviant's guides

This site.

The catalogue of human features (note: it's intended for drawing, but baw, I use it)

This blog for fantasy writers may have stolen my theme, but it's amazing nonetheless

Another blog, this one more general

This Figment group, for when you finally want to get published

Now I'll attempt to either a) get something written, b) learn to stop shipping my own characters (haha I wish), or c) get some actual reviewing done.

Bye bye.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's Raining Cupcakes

It's Raining Cupcakes
Lisa Schroeder
(Image from her website)

Small town girl Isabel is dying to get out of Willow, Oregon. When her mom opens a cupcake shop called It's Raining Cupcakes, she is inspired to enter a baking contest. The grand prize? A trip to New York for finals and a thousand dollars if you win. The only problem is that Isabel's best friend, Sophie, has entered the contest too, and both of them are determined to win.

Reeeeeeview time!

 So, I'll start out with stating the targeted age. It's for about nine to thirteen year olds. And that isn't in Diamond Willow's way that you can think of the main character as another age and have it seem like it's for you, too. It is very apparent who it is for. 

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, though. It just wasn't 'classic' material. It was still funny and interesting, just not 'deep' or 'educational'.

We start out learning that Isabel's mom wants to open a cupcake shop in the old Bleach-o-Rama, having found a recent love for the art of cupcakes. This was, of course, not rushed at all. And, less sarcastically, not really well planned. Does she always rush headlong into things that are so big? We may never know.

Blablabla, we meet Sophie, a kind of two-dimensional perfect-girl character. She does whatever want and gets whatever she wants. And she introduces Isabel to the baking contest, which Isabel both does and doesn't want to join, since Sophie is joining and Sophie gets everything. Which is now a legitimate reason to give up, which seems kind of odd, since a major subplot is keeping Isabel's mom from giving up when she hears a chain bakery is coming to town.

Isabel's mom encourages Isabel to submit a cupcake recipe, but Isabel thinks that would be too unoriginal. She tries anyways, but doesn't like any of the end results. However, when a new neighbor comes back from England with jam tarts, she's inspired to submit a jam tart recipe without her mother knowing.

 Realizing it may hurt her mother's feelings if she didn't submit a cupcake recipe, though, she throws away the tarts. 

Stuff happens, Sophie steals Isabel's chance for fame in an interview with the family, Isabel laments for a bit, we learn something about the magic of friendship, spoiler, book ends.
Now let's be a bit more straight forward about how I felt.

This book was, no sugar-coating it, okay. Most of the characters were relatively two-dimensional and it wasn't a particularly emotion-inducing book. This may just be because it's for a younger demographic, but it was still somewhat disappointing.

It did, however, keep my interest throughout the story. While it didn't force me to turn the page, I did want to know what happened next and what would happen to our heroine next. 

I'll have to applaud the fact, also, that it wasn't in-your-face about the fact is was a tween book. Instead of some books *dramatic glare into the mist of horrible writing*, it did not act like the very life of all people under twenty was to mall crawl and text. The voice was believable and relatable, and I didn't want to punch the author in the face. Trust me, this is a big step up from how I usually feel about tween books.

The style was kind of beige (but at least it wasn't purple, right?), but it was still a good read for a rainy day. Eh, three stars, maybe add a half star for the ending (and the recipes, but shhhhhh). 

Also, in other related news, the author has another book called Sprinkles and Secrets, which is a sequel.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just to keep you occupied

Sorry, I'm in the very middle of multiple books and it might be a while before my next review. So here's a picture of my kitten, Harley, with my copy of Wintergirls.

Friday, July 19, 2013


(Picture from

Trigger warning: Eating disorders

Whoa. An actual review. Crazy.

Anyhow, so Wintergirls is about a girl (Lia), who suffers from anorexia. Her friend, Cassie, recently died, alone in a hotel room, after she called Lia 33 times. Cassie was bulimic and told Lia she was brave, strong, when Lia rapidly lost weight.

So, strange thing about this book. There was no 'getting from point A to point B'. Honestly, the plot was basically just an important snippet of life for Lia. I thought that was interesting.

Onto the actual book.

I want to say I loved this book. I mean, I really wanted to love it. I bet I could have loved it. But reading it was like swimming through corn syrup instead of water.

It was like reading a poem, minus the breaks that make it sound like a real poem. It was thick with metaphors and similes, and while they sometimes improved the mental picture, a lot of the time it made the writing muddled and confusing. It was kind of like purple prose.

The character, however, was relatable (well, as long as you're a teenaged girl, so sorry guys) and well written. I'll begrudgingly accept that some of the things she said (the book is written in the first person), which made it sound more poetic and purple, actually kind of made sense. Made a lot of sense. Whatever.

A couple of things are mentioned at one point and then forgotten for the rest of the book. Lia's little sister, Emma, has two cats, which disappear after one mention. The Cupcake Scene (as it shall be addressed) happens, and then is promptly forgotten, even though you'd think Lia would remember it and that it would be important in her records at New Seasons (a mental recovery place) later. Maybe, 'hey, look, she actually wants to/can eat, she just doesn't'. Something like that is a tad important.

The dialogue was well thought out and believable. People, unlike some stories I've read, actually spoke like people, not Shakespearean characters. So, despite the way that it was written, it's not like normal people spoke like poets.

On the other hand, a lot of parts of this book were confusing. I'm not sure if that's the metaphors and similes talking, but some parts of the book make me wonder if Lia was a psycho, because they just don't make sense. It's like the author would occasionally forget that this was supposedly a contemporary book. Trust me, if you read it, you'll know what I mean.

About halfway through the book, it actually starts sounding like a true narrative, and then it slowly falls back into the poetic, purple style. Just thought that was interesting.

Despite my complaining, this was a good book. The dialogue and emotions were both very believable, and the plot (or whatever it is) was good. So... Yeah. Also, if you like symbolism, you'll probably love this. I don't love symbolism. It's my personal opinion that probably made this book seem worse to me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Few Things to Look Out For

So, this is just another complaint. I promise we'll have actual reviews soon. I'm almost done with about three different books. I'll get to it.

This is about the many follies you may, just may, want to avoid while writing.

1.  Every teen smokes and drinks

Listen up, because this is probably why teens are looked at so badly. Not because we all go on big drinking binges and scream at our parents, but because that's what we're advertised to do.
For some reason, YA authors are convinced that every teens drinks and/or smokes pot/crack (do you smoke that?)/cigarettes. Yes, in the real world, some people do that. Heck, I KNOW people who do that. There's a girl in the grade above me that constantly brags about stealing vodka and beer and tequila and (insert any other alcoholic beverage here). She also complains about having headaches all the time and also brings up her puking habits too, interestingly. But not everyone is her.

A lot of books talk about teens drinking very casually. No mention of straight edge people (high five to all my straight edgers out there), people who don't want to, Muslims, Mormons, and kids who don't like the idea of the possibility of a multi-thousand dollar fine over their head.

In some settings, this is kind of understandable (thank you to D.H. Scott on Figment for pointing this out to me). Maybe it's a run down,  crime filled place. Or maybe something traumatic happened and character X uses alcohol or drugs as a getaway. But this is rarely the case in YA.

2. Textbook minorities

This one will continue sarcastically. If I got all my information from YA, this is what I'd "know". Please do not take offense, as this is sarcasm,

~ If a guy is gay, then he is destined to act like a whiny little girl that calls everyone darling, honey, or some variation of that type of thing. He is overly concerned with fashion and hangs out with more girls that guys. He is extremely flamboyant and is horrible at anything athletic. Always.

~ If there's a lesbian, she is butch and macho and sarcastic and arrogant. She is never shown in an actual relationship.

~ If you're Latina or Latino, you are from Mexico. Only Mexico. Central and South America are hoaxes created by the government to keep us in line.

~ If you are African American, you have two choices. As a guy, you are butch and strong, you're probably on the football/basketball team. If you're a girl, you're sassy and probably give a bunch of advice on dating.

~ Native Americans are super wise, have no knowledge of contractions, and have some affinity with nature. Defining what tribe/community they are from is unnecessary. Unnecessary, I tell you!

~ Asians are a rare breed of extremely intelligent superhumans. Their lives revolve around being goody-goodies and getting A+s.

~ West/East Pacific Islanders don't exist. Guam is a lie.

~ Atheists are only ever atheists because something bad happened and they decided the world was too cruel and God couldn't exist, boo hooooo. Evolution, the Big Bang theory, and all other ways it's possible we don't need a god don't exist.

~ Jews are just Christians with Bat Mitzvahs and Bar Mitzvahs and celebrate Hanukkah instead of Christmas, right?

~ Muslims don't exist, silly. And is they do happen to appear, they say 'Allah' instead of 'God', though when speaking English, that is the name He is addressed by.

~ Buddhism and Hinduism are only practiced in Asia. Fiction is an Abrahamic-only club.

Now, before I punch a wall, onto...

3. Example characters

I didn't know what to call these guys, but here's basically how it works: if a character is not perfect/is a minority, they are used purely as a way for the author to say "Look! I'm okay with overweight/pimply/minority/etc. people! I included them in my story as minor, personality-less characters!" Usually has some textbook minorities in there.

Can also lead to a Gaysop's fable, in which we learn 'gays are people too!' in a really unnervingly in-your-face fashion. Because we didn't know that they are. Because all teenagers are homophobes. All of them, even the LGBTQ ones.

Or we can learn that you don't have to be beautiful (like the MC) to be a good person. Actually, you do. Because if you're fat, you're whiny, if you're not athletic, you have no social life. Because...

4. Teens only love each other based on looks

If you don't have dazzling/piercing/sparkling/deep/[poetic adjective] green eyes and smokn' hot abs, you are nothing. NOTHING.

Onto the more serious bit, these kind of romances frustrate me to no end. These are the reasons why I usually complain about romances in YA. Do the authors seriously think that the only reason we need to love is good looks? That the only kind of love is love at first sight? What about personality, friendship based relationships? The way love is portrayed in most YAs is unrealistic and grossly exaggerated.

Or maybe the descriptions are because of...

5. Minor teen dramas are blown up

This really didn't occur to me until a book I read about a month ago (I won't mention the title, since this is what I hate, and no need to be a jerk). I know high school dramas. Mean girls, gossip, romantic troubles, but YA authors don't seem to remember how it was back in the old days. Or maybe Nowhere, USA, just doesn't have enough people for it to be too big. Either way, a lot of small things go huge in YA.

Break ups- When I finally entered the great world of romance (read: my friends did, I watched), I was surprised how easy break ups could be. No screaming, no crying, no ice cream chugging, just the general rule of hush, hush when it came to the ex's name. And even that would be over in a month. Usually, we forget him pretty soon. The name drifts off to meaninglessness.

It's not too bad for guys, either, from what I can tell. From my observations of guys in school and my cousin at one point, it's no angsty, "oh, dear X" fit.

If someone is going to break up, it usually gets obvious. By the time they break up, you've probably steeled yourself because they've been giving you the cold shoulder. Or maybe we're just good at keeping quiet. Maybe we shouldn't listen to me, being a partner-less, never partnered person. You can listen to me about the next one, though.

Rumors- I have had more rumors than I can count swirl around me. It's natural. Usually, they're more laugh-worthy than anything and dissipate pretty quickly. We may not be tiny adults, but we're pretty darn good at sniffing out a lie. We've been raised in a world with not always true information (the Internet, each other), we know when to be skeptical and do some extra poking around. And since rumors are usually lies, they don't usually catch on unless they're really good.

Who loves who- You will not become a social pariah by dating X, X, or X, unless they're someone else's, in which a case you're doomed. Saying you aren't, though, we don't care. It's usually a quick laugh if you don't think it'll work, and then acceptance if it does. Or, if you're a friend or sibling, secretly plotting to get rid of your friend's/sibling's partner because they don't give you enough attention anymore.

New kid- I was a newbie to my school when I was in second grade, so I'm not sure what the feeling would be in my current grade, but I'll make some guesses based on what I've seen.

* Everyone tries to be your friend. They want another friend, and you're a blank slate.

* People are concerned with what you do and wear. First impressions really do count. The new girl that our class got last year was at first accepted and soon rejected because of her tendency to wear skin-tight, skimpy, barely-allowed-by-dress-code clothes. So I imagine clothes would be a major concern as the newbie.

* Usually newbies are sucked in by the eeeeeevviiiil popular crowd. How do they remain in power? They get a lot of people. How do they get new people? They warm up to the new kids.

* We get over your existence within a month. That's right. Even in my hometown of Nowhere, getting a new kid isn't that big. It's nice for the first couple days, but quickly you'll be brought into the flow. In a bigger town? I bet it would take a week.

The Popular Kids- Call them what you like, the Peacock girls (that name makes me laugh), the Populars, the Pops, we had the Sis Crew, they're the in your face popular kids. Except they usually aren't too in your face.

Yeah, they can be jerks. Huge jerks. Want-to-punch-them-in-the-face jerks. But they're actually a lot like bears. As long as you avoid them, they avoid you. (Now I'm thinking of a grizzly bear in hoop earrings and a miniskirt. It's kind of odd.)

No, sorry to burst your bubble, for the most part, they don't insult random people just for fun. If they did, they wouldn't be popular. Maybe they should be called the Rich Kids if they're doing that.

Yeah. Sorry. But I think knowing will make you a better author.

6. Teens think adults are idiots

Riiiiiight. We probably live with an adult or two. It would kind of suck if we thought they were completely ignorant/oblivious.

You see, from what I can tell, I don't know anyone who thinks their parent(s)/guardian(s) is/are complete morons. A bit bad with technology sometimes, yeah, but you'd be surprised how often adults actually understand teen dramas.

Here's some problems that I think really do need to be addressed.

- Listen. Seriously. I understand, we're not "old enough" to understand complex problems such as politics and human rights and... Oh, wait. Some of us are. 

We understand how the world works better than you may think. Otherwise programs like Future Problem Solvers wouldn't exist. But people disregard our opinion purely based on age. It wouldn't matter if we wrote a scholar-level persuasive essay on our views. It wouldn't matter. That's what I love about the Internet. You can talk about your views without being disregarded based on age, as long as you don't say how old you are.

- Needing to say the right thing all. The. Time. At least at my age, everyone is hypercritical about what you say. Say one thing wrong, and, bam, you lose everyone's trust. Without knowing why. Because people think we're old enough to always need to be right, without realizing we're just getting out of random thinking and just starting to figure out what we are and aren't allowed to say.

Be mature, don't bring up mature topics, stay young, don't act so immature, be responsible, we can't trust you.

- Be uniquely conformed. It's always stressed on me, and from what I can tell, my friends, that we need to be individuals. Individuals, to the standards of everyone else. Because the reason you're bullied is because you're so flamboyant. No, you lost your personality. No, stop being so weird. Be yourself, don't conform, conform, hush, hush.

So it's not "you just don't get me" all the time. There is so much more to it.

7. Txt Spk

... Not all of us talk like we're in a chatroom, and I'd prefer you didn't write like that. Because this is how it feels when you want to write your story "like a teen would":

OMG! It's like, whoa, this is a totally STUUPPPIIIIDDD way of writing. LOL! Omg, I can't even tell what it means, which totes sucks. Ugh, I feel stupid just reading this!

... No. No no no. Do NOT patronize me. All the capitalization instead of italicization, the acronyms, it's, OMG! HORRIBLE!

You know what also applies? Seeing a hot guy (*grumble* It's always a guy.) and saying something along the lines of "Time to drool", "drool", "drroooooooolll", or basically saying drool at all. Or saying parents are so stoooopiiiid in your book, as discussed above. It's not relatable, it's weird.

Don't patronize me.

8. All teens are hateful

Kiddies, not all of us are racist. Not all of us are homophobic. Not any more than adults, at least.
My school has two options when it comes to race- white, or Filipino. Did we go crazy when a kid from the Dominican Republic joined us? No. Because we don't care. Our life isn't based on thinking up racist jokes (though I do know a plethora of white jokes).

Okay, my school isn't a great example for anti-homophobia, considering I have classmates who use "gay" as an insult (as a reply, I always say "Ugh, you're so straight." It shuts them up.), but GSAs? Remember those? There are plenty of schools with them because the kids accept and join them.

And while my town also isn't a great example for religious diversity (the only type of building we have more of than churches is houses), not everywhere is like that. Unless you're in a really conservative town, you should be pretty good. Younger grades are more freakishly concerned with who you are because they only know how to parrot what their parent(s) say(s). At around tenth grade, things get better. People think for themselves. People will even change religions. So, not all of us are like that. Get over it.

A dandy little rant I had there. Now, I'll get to reviewing.