Khanh the Killjoy

I'm having a small troll problem.

It's been awhile. It's rather amusing. He resorts to insulting my looks. 


That's just sad. I know I'm pretty ^_^


Judge, jury, and executioner.

Out of Control - Sarah Alderson

Bailiff: Hear ye, hear ye! Court will now come to order! Please stand for your judge, the Honorable...

*Khanh beckons, whispers into Bailiff's ears*

Bailiff: ...make that the Dishonorable Khanh. All rise! Your Dishonor...where's your gavel?

Khanh: Lost it. I'm using this hammer instead. I think it's appropriate. Close enough.

Bailiff: ...

Khanh: We are here in The Reader's Court for the pre-trial of Readers vs. Liva, the 17-year old main character of Out of Control. She stands here accused of being a dumbass. What are the detailed charges?

Bailiff: There are 19 charges, your dishonor. She stands accused of racial profiling, slut-shaming, girl-on-girl hate...

Khanh: Ain't nobody got time for that. Make it brief. Keep it to 4.

Bailiff: She stands accused of:
1. Showing all signs of being a Mary fucking Sue
2. Falling in love with complete fucking douchebag full of...

*pauses* Your Dishonor, do I really have to read this?

Khanh: YES

Bailiff: ...full of...UNF...CUBAN MACHEESMO.

Khanh: Attaboy.

3. Having the wrong fucking priorities all the fucking time
4. Having dumb fucking trains of thoughts. *hesitates* CHOO CHOO.

*pauses* Your Dishonor, are these charges correct? I don't recall so much profanity being used in any of the pleadings that I've...

Khanh: YES THEY ARE. Wait a minute. Did you say racial profiling?

Bailiff: Yes, your Dishonor.

Khanh: Ok, I'm curious now. Go on, man. What's up with that, yo? Let me read through this briefing.

*pauses* You gotta be fucking kidding me, girl. Did you really think the guy's a gang member because he's Latin-American looking and carries a fucking bandana?

Liva: Um...

Khanh: YEAH, DUDE, NO. LOOK HERE. And I quote:

It’s then that I notice the bandana hanging out the back pocket of his jeans. I know what that little scrap of material signifies. He’s a gang member. I shake my head to myself.

See? What the fuck is that? Racist much?! Guuuuuuuurl.

And look here again. A Latin-American woman, of course you think she's fat and speaks with an accent. Of course every Latino and Latina in the book is horribly stereotypically portrayed. Look here, did you really think a fucking Latin American woman would talk like this?

‘She’ll stand out like a habanero chilli in an ice-cream store if she goes dressed like that,’ Marissa snaps back.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Liva: I swear I'm not racist, your honor! I mean, I went to an international school! I was born and raised abroad. I lived most of my life in Oman and Nigeria! I've had a great education! I'm really, really smart!

But um, your Dishonor...where's the jury? Aren't I entitled to a fair jury trial here?

Khanh: This is 'Murica. Our fair trial is by name only. I am your judge, jury, and executioner.


Khanh: *loudly interrupts* SO HERE ARE THE CONTEXT OF YOUR CHARGES. You are a 17 year old beauty who are being pursued by people wanting to kill you. Naturally, you run away with a guy you thought might be a potential murderer, since the first time you saw him, he was in handcuffs in the Homicide Department. Is that correct?

Liva: *gulps* Yes, your Dishonor...but---

Khanh: NO BUTS. See Exhibit 1. You thought he was a killer. And you ran away with him anyway.

I contemplate for the first time the fact that I’m sitting in a stolen unmarked police car with a murderer who I just helped escape from custody.

Where's your fucking fancy international education now? Did it serve you well? I WENT TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL WITH 2000 STUDENTS.

Liva: You're sounding rather angry. I can't help it if my parents are rich.

Khanh: I'm not angry because you're rich. I'm angry because you're a Mary Sue.

Live: *splutters* Your Dishonor, please! I am not!


Liva: No, your Dishonor...


Liva: No, your Dishonor...


'You got what my mum would call good posture. And your legs. You have a dancer’s legs.’
I don’t naturally have a ballet dancer’s build. I’ve got boobs and hips for a start, long legs but also a long torso.

Liva: I really am not beautiful, I mean I have all these freakish red hair and stupid slanted, exotic eyes inherited from my Slavic mother.

Khanh: SAVE IT, BITCH. ONTO THE NEXT CHARGE. You fell in love with an asshole. Is that correct?

Live: No, your Dishonor! I would never!!!!

Khanh: LIAR! LIAR!!!!! LOOK AT THIS!!!! Throughout the entire fucking book, he ogles you like a fucking douche. Not once. Not twice, a million times over. Exhibit 3!!!!!!!

I feel his eyes skimming the top of my breasts.

And Exhibits 3A-3ZZZZZZZ. All examples of him ogling you like a fucking jailbird who hasn't seen a woman in 30 years of solitary confinement. Then there are examples of him acting like a fucking asshat and commenting about other women's weight. EXHIBIT 4.

‘You got no worries there. You should see my cousin Maria. She’s one Krispy Kreme away from having her own zip code.’

Liva: But your honor! He's in love with me! He respects me!


‘You don’t drink coffee, don’t take sugar, don’t eat cream. What are you,’ he asks through his mouthful, ‘anorexic?’


Speaking of which...your fucking priorities. Where the fuck are they? You are being chased by god knows how many people. All of whom want to murder you or kidnap you. Where the fuck is your head concentrated?

I'll tell you where. Jaime's muscles. Pronounced HIIIIIIIII-MEEEEEEEE. HI! ME! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT HIM! THAT'S ALL YOU FUCKING DO.

Right after you just witnessed a multiple homicide. You notice his fucking good looks. Exhibit 6.

I could easily imagine him gracing a billboard advertising some hipster fashion brand. Instead, I think to myself, he’s posing for mug shots.

Right after you almost got murdered again. Exhibit 7.

I note the strips of muscle running the length of his arms and the fact that they are trembling ever so slightly.

As you're about to break and enter. Exhibit 8.

He headed on around to the front modelling the NYPD sweater and a swagger straight out of Miami Vice.

Wondering what to do and where to go next. Exhibit 9.

I notice the beads of water still clinging to his hair and the fact that his T-shirt is sticking to him like a second layer of skin, revealing every line of muscle.


I put a hand on his forearm, feeling the hardness of muscle, rigid with anger.

It's like every single fucking action you made has to emphasize his hard fucking muscles. He has muscles! I GET IT! I DO, TOO. WE ALL DO. GET THE FUCK OVER IT. PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU!!!!!!!


Liva: Your dishonor! I swear it wasn't my fault. I didn't mean to fall in love with him! Look at Exhibit 11!

I don’t fall for guys. I don’t fall. Period.


Liva: I'm a teenager, your Dishonor! I can't help it if my hormones get the better of me!

Khanh: Fine, you can't be blamed for your emotions, BUT HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN YOUR TERRIBLE WAY OF THINKING? My god, girl, your metaphors and similes are straight out of bullshit university. EXHIBIT 12 AND 13!!!!

He’s watching me with a mixture of wariness and worry, as though I’m an unexploded landmine.

He’s staring at me fiercely, his jaw clenching and unclenching as though he’s trying to dislodge a tooth.


*Khanh jumps off her podium and begins to chase Liva*

Liva: Your Dishonor! This is really quite uncalled---

*Khanh smashes Liva into oblivion*

Khanh: Hmm. Interesting. She survived countless murderers, but not one lonely book reviewer. Whatever. I did you all a favor anyway.

Bailiff: *splattered with blood* C...c...court a--adjourned.

Terrifyingly dull

The Girl from the Well - Rin Chupeco
“I say it is an onryuu, yet I feel no hate from her."

“An onryuu with a conscience, kami help us."

Shimatta! (That means shit in Japanese). God help us, this is supposed to be our terrifying heroine? Kuso yaro! Sou desu ne?! Ramen! *insert random-ass Japanese word here for authenticity* Sukiyaki! Hentai! Bukkakke! Hello Kitty!

This book will be scary, they said. A cross between Dexter and The Ring, they said. Not fucking likely.

This was how scary the book was for me.

Trust me, I'm just as disappointed as anyone. This book was incredibly dull. Sure, it features a scary girl with long hair ripped straight out of The Ring and The Grudge. Doesn't matter. It doesn't change the fact that this was a boring ass book with a main character who is completely unnecessary because she doesn't do a single fucking thing but obseeeeeeeeeeeerve. Whooooooooo. I'm gonna shit my pants. Not.

The book is dull, the plot is convenient, and ever so contrived. Ever so convenient. You're in Japan (sometimes). All the Japanese characters speak English, hoo-fucking-ray. Even the fucking temple miko, or shrine maiden, are college-educated and English-speaking. The main character is boring as fuck. The narrative style drove me nuts. The other main characters are dull as hell. Casper, the Friendly Ghost probably scared me more.

For a far superior YA horror novel, go read the most excellent Anna Dressed in Blood. Hell, take 2 hours of your time, go watch Ringu. Go watch the American version of The Ring. It will be two hours better spent than reading this book.

There is a ghost. Her name is Okiku. She is 300 years old. Okiku is supposed to haunt people. She is supposed to be a ghostly version of Dexter, wreaking vengeance upon wrongdoers. She does that roughly twice in the entire fucking book.
You know what she does most in this book? She watches.

- The dead children watch me as I watch him drive away.

- I watch him.

- I watch as the bully pushes him against a bathroom door.

- Some days I watch Callie. I follow her as she attends lectures, plays, tours.

- I watch the miko. There is great strength in her.

She follows.

- I follow them into the car, where there is very little conversation.

- I follow him as he wanders the busy streets, leafing through magazines in quiet cafés, peering into store windows.

There is a damaged, tattooed young man named Tark who is damaged. Have I mentioned that he is damaged? He is damaged. He is hurt. Deeply wounded inside, of course.


And then there's his lovely 18-year old cousin, Callie. The most ponderous, caring, nondescript side character in the entire world. She shows that she's motherly. She is caring. She is gentle. Did I mention that she's caring? She cares a lot, maaaaaan. It's because her poor little cousin Tark is so damaged.

For some inexplicable fucking reason, Okiku chooses to (very benevolently haunt Tark and Callie. Did I say haunt? I mean observe. And watch. And smile. Cause Okiku doesn't do much more than that.

They go to Japan. They do Japanese things like eat ramen and visit Shinto shrines and learn about local ghost stories! They get scared. I fell asleep. The end.

This book didn't do a damn thing for me. Here is why.

1. The prose and the switching of narrative POVs. First person switch to 3rd person omniscient in one paragraph?! Without warning? Sure, why not. Why the fuck not. This book is supposed to scare me. I don't want none of your attempts of poetic prose and experimental writing.

There is a time and a place for strange, experimental stream-of-consciousness prose, more specifically, in the 7th level of hell and in Tahereh Mafi's novels. I don't fucking want it in my horror novel. I want to be scared. I don't fucking want your e.e. cummings shit when you're trying to fucking frighten me.


Some examples. Direct screenshots, because you can't get the full terrible effects unless you see it for yourself.

And in homage of the writing, here's my little ode to it.

Please. Please godpleaseplease please.


It stop.

Why won't you make it stopstopstopstopstopSTOPSTOP.


And as for the switching of POVs, my god. We alternately read things narrated by the main character as "I." I this. I that.
And then for no fucking warning, it switches to omniscient. "The girl." "The woman." "The boy."

Pick one POV. Stick to it, for fuck's sakes.

2. The main character is about as frightening as my bunny statue. And she is roughly just as active. I'm seriously. The fucking scary LADY IN WHITE WITH HAIR ALL OVER HER FACE does nothing more than observe.
And point.

And smile.

And be shy.

Fuck me.

She's supposed to be a cross "between Dexter and The Ring. No. She is not Sadako. Not even close. The book could have been narrated from one omniscient point of view, because the main character in this book is that useless. She is a narrator, not a ghost.

She does nothing.

Her narration is part internal monologue, part impartial observation, and completely annoying because this batshit girl has a tendency to obsess with numbers. She counts everything.

(Four girls, five, six.)
They are blondes and redheads and brunettes. They are blue-eyed and dark-eyed and brown-eyed and green-eyed. They are pale and freckled, and dark and brown. They are six years old and eight years old and twelve years old and fifteen years old.
(Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.)

I'm sure that's meant to portray her insanity. It doesn't work. It feels forced. It gives off a sense of pretension. It annoys more than it is effective.

Again, an homage to the style of the book.

Ten. Seventy one. Ninety four. FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE FIVE.


Hundred instances.


3. The boy.

“I’m from Texas,” the boy lies. “Home to beloved exports like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, mad cow disease, and bullets. I collect mannequin legs and spider bites. A race of super-ferrets live inside my hair. They hate water so I shower with an umbrella. I eat bugs because I’m allergic to fruit. I wash my hands in the toilet because sinks are too mainstream. Anything else you want to know about me?”

Tarquin, "Tark." I'm supposed to like this pretentious little piece of shit?

He's 15. He's annnnnnnnnnngsty. He is so different, wah wah wah. He makes damned sure that everyone knows it too. Sure, I'm supposed to feel sorry for him. After all, his mom tried to kill him. But you know what, the fact is that he's so fucking annoying that I want to kill him myself. So there goes the whole sympathy bit. Nope. Do not want.

4. The characters

Sure, Okiku has an excuse for being fucking dull, she's dead. But what about the rest of the living? They're cardboard. A mannequin has more personality than Carly and Tark. They do things. That's it. They never grow. They get frightened, but not too much. They suffer sometimes, but one feels nothing for them. They go through a ghost story, without ever feeling like they are any more alive than the ghost which they see.

Dull. Dry. The humans in this book have as much personality as a desiccated corpse, and that corpse is probably more interesting to observe as it rots.

"Midnight Thief" didn't steal my heart

Midnight Thief - Livia Blackburne
She didn’t look like an assassin. She looked like a young girl—a pretty one at that, with her small stature and delicate features.

Why hello there, generic special snowflake Mary Sue heroine who's a dumb, weak, pussy-ass delicate little flower with every guy desiring her and powers that she never earned.

“You’re beautiful to watch, you know...Your grace—it’s impossible to ignore. Did you notice the way my men looked at you? And it wasn’t just them.”

Oh, and there's a sad attempt at love triangle.

Whoop dee doo!

If a good high fantasy is a sumptuous feast for the imagination, this book would be the equivalent of a few carrot sticks, with half a teaspoon of fat-free ranch dressing.

This is one of the most poorly crafted "high fantasy" books I have ever read. I used quotation marks for high fantasy, because within an actual high fantasy, there is some semblance of world building. Explanations. Context. There was none of the above within this book.

I'm going to forgo one of my long-winded metaphors and simply say that this book was "incredibly bad." Like the equivalent of Defy bad. So why a 1.5 instead of a 1? No breeding houses. But that's not really saying much.

This book is incredibly fucking dull. There is no world building. It moves at the pace of a snail with a broken leg, if snails had legs, that is...

The writing is completely unremarkable in every way. There is little to no character development.

To top it off, the main character is one of the worst high fantasy heroines I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. There's usually a method to my madness, I have a separate section where I analyze the main character. Fuck it, I'm having my little character rant first, it's been a long day and I'm feeling rebellious.

The main character is Kyra, a 17-year old thief. She so suffers from a serious condition that has been spreading around many book heroines known as too-stupid-to-live syndrome.

She scrambled back as the demon cat launched itself off a tree, landing softly on padded feet right where Kyra had been standing.
She should have remembered that cats could climb trees.

She has been a thief and a street urchin for most of her life. Cool, right? Well, no. No, because she is the most unwise, least street-savvy thief in the whole damn world. Kyra is a thief who won't carry around a weapon to defend herself.

“Rand says you don’t carry a knife.”
“I don’t need to. I can usually get away,” she said.

And consequently, she is completely fucking useless at self-defense. Kyra is not a fighter. She needs saving. She is saved by the act of god, or deus ex fucking machina almost every single time because she is incapable of defending herself. Like this time.

Someone pulled him off her, and Kyra dragged herself onto her elbow, breath coming in painful gasps. Both her attackers lay on the ground, unconscious. Above them stood a man who looked vaguely familiar.

And again, and again, and again.

She screamed, only to cut off as she choked on her own blood. The pain was unbearable, growing unimaginably worse when he twisted his knife.
“We would like to take her with us,” a man said.


She constantly flushes and blushes.

- She flushed and drew her arm away.

- She flushed red, unsure as to whether she imagined his mocking tone.

- She looked away, taken aback at the flush rising in her cheeks.

She is the worst liar in the world.

“You’re not telling me everything,” he said.
“There’s nothing to tell,” she said too quickly.

She has no sense of loyalty. She will betray a group who takes her in at the drop of a hat. She betrays just about every group that takes her in. From a group of Robin Hood wannabes...

“It didn’t take long for you to switch your allegiance, did it?”

...To the "barbarians" who rescued her.

Could she betray them after they had saved her life?

The answer is yes. Always fucking yes. To the one new friend who saved her life.

It was true. [She] had saved her life, fought for her, and taught her the ways of the clan. And Kyra had betrayed her.

She will reveal her greatest weakness, her love for her friends, to the enemy to be used against her without a thought.

She likes small children. Cute. But when I read a book with a high fantasy heroine, I want less cuddly maternal type and more kick-ass. I didn't get much ass-kicking at all.


And naturally, everyone falls in love with her. She is so bloody special. Rebel bad boy assassin sees something special in her.

James pushed back from the table, studying her again with a thoughtful expression. “I’ve never met anyone quite like you, Kyra.” His voice was soft, lacking its usual edge.

Knightly nobleman adores her for no bloody reason.

He didn’t let her go, though his gaze softened in a way that bruised her pride. “You’re a puzzle, Kyra.”

And she's speshul. SPESHUL.

How did he really feel about Kyra? She was like no one he’d ever met before, and he couldn’t deny that she was beautiful when she worked.

The Summary:

“You’ve noticed that you’re different, have you not?

We're in a high fantasy world, the most generic one in the entire fucking universe. Want explanations for something? Good bloody luck, you get none. I mean, things are easy enough to figure out, like if someone has a vampire in a book, you don't need to be told that they're fucking bloodsuckers, but SOMETIMES I WANT AN EXPLANATION. Who knows, the vampire in that particular book could suck the juices from oranges, instead of humans.

So yeah, back to Generic High Fantasy World. Is there magic in this world? Don't fucking know. For some reason, a felbeast will appear. What the fuck is a felbeast? A...demon...thing...obvi, but STILL, SOME FUCKING EXPLANATIONS WOULD BE NICE.

Oh, and there are demon cats. Whooooooo! And felbeasts. What the fuck are they? Where the hell did they come from? ENJOY HAVING NO EXPLANATIONS AT ALL.

Into this mess of a fucking setting, enter our fucking idiot delicate flower of a heroine. Kyra is 17, a beautiful thief (well, she doesn't think she's beautiful, but OBVIOUSLY WE FIND OUT LATER THAT SHE IS, HYUK HYUK HYUK. She is a competent thief who fucks up a job, and for some reason after that, the Robin Hood-like Assassin's Guild who steal from the rich to give to the poor, only they want, nay, NEED the irrepressible Kyra's help. And then there's darkly handsome, deadly leader James who makes her heart flutter. Who makes her blush.

She was a professional, not some giddy farm girl.
“It’s what I do.”

Riiiiiiiiiiight.But no, it's not just James, there's handsome nobleman, knightly SER TRISTAM who makes her heart pound like the beating of a very small mallet.

And there was something in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. Had it only been a few weeks ago when they’d been enemies?

Much excitement. So love. Grand passion. Wow.


He was scrutinizing her, eyes wary.
“You’re different….”

And more importantly, WILL KYRA EVER STOP CRYING?

She clutched her blanket tighter and blinked back tears.

Kyra looked at him, and the forgiveness in his eyes made her want to burst into tears again.

Kyra could no longer hold her tears back.

Kyra squeezed her eyes tight against the tears that threatened to spill.

To her horror, she felt tears prickle behind her eyes.

Her body gave way to racking sobs. She lay there, curled in a ball, hugging her legs through the convulsions.

Kyra let it all out then, clutching the girls as she sobbed.

And will she ever be able to NOT fight like a kitten with its leg in a splint?

With a ragged cry, she launched herself at James, slashing wildly. There was a brief flicker of triumph on James’s face as he stepped aside, wrenching her knife arm behind her and twisting her down. She landed face-first on the ground. Two sharp kicks to the ribs knocked any remaining breath out of her.

By the way, there is also has a completely pathetic attempt at copying the premise of one of my favorite books...Poison Study. No. Don't even *snaps fingers*

“We’ve anticipated that and have instructed the healer Ilona to withhold the last few doses of antidote.”
Tristam tensed. “Sir?” he asked.
“The small amount of poison left in her body shouldn’t interfere overly much with her health,” said Willem. “We believe that the need for her final dose should motivate her to return to the Palace.”

Needless to say, just say no.

I realized, as I read to the end of the book, that the author has some seriously impressive credentials. A Ph.D from MIT, one of the best institutions of higher ed in the US. Wow. Bravo to her. I can never hope to rival her intelligence.

With that said, the education and the intelligence of the author does not necessarily make for a great book, and this is living proof. No matter how much I respect the author's smarts, this was an absolutely terrible book for me.

Mortal Coils - Eric S. Nylund
"We must not let the other family have such power over the future. We must make those children ours.” “And failing that?” “And failing that …” Lucia suddenly looked sad and tired. “Failing that, I will kill them myself

This book is epic in every sense of the word. I am pleased that upon a second reading, it was just as good as I had remembered. It's got:


Terrifyingly intelligent, yet spectacularly dorky and awkward 15-year old main characters


An awesome, complex relationship between twin siblings


Terrifyingly dangerous familial relationships where your beloved cousin might be plotting to kill you and eat your siblings


A battle between good slightly good not very bad kind of evil vs. evil


An interesting spin on demonic mythology 


A series of tests, in the form of trials and temptations


And the cherry on the cupcake...refreshingly little romance Sometimes a book just clicks. This book was just what I needed to refresh my mind in between the terrible books that seem to enjoy bombarding itself at me.


The Summary:

Eliot Post and his sister, Fiona, would be fifteen tomorrow and nothing interesting had ever happened to them.

Eliot and Fiona are the most socially stunted 15-year old twins in the entire world. And it's all thanks to their grandmother. They are orphans, parents mysteriously dead, oh, somewhere, somehow. The only family they've got now is a terrifying grandmother who is more military commander than cuddly old cookie-baking grandma.

It was Grandmother always. It was never Audrey or Gram, or any other pet name like they used with Cecilia. Not that it was forbidden, but Grandmother was the only thing they ever thought to call her. It was the only title that carried the authority her presence demanded.

And a cookie-baking great-grandma who seriously can't cook anything for shit. They've been home-schooled their entire lives. Their lives are dominated by rules, ranging from NO LISTENING TO MUSIC to NO READING BOOKS DEALING WITH MAGIC.


Seriously, their grandmother has a fucking list of rules for them. They've been forced to work hard their entire lives, there's no easy ride for them. From cleaning the apartment unit when they were young, to working their asses off doing menial labor in a horrible pizza shop, Eliot and Fiona's life can only be described as miserable. They can't even have candy. Even a half-eaten piece of chocolate, found in the trash, is considered a special treat. They wear homemade clothes (ugly ones). They never, ever go out. They have no friends but each other.

He and Fiona might as well have been corked inside a bottle, sailing nowhere on a tiny balsa-wood ship.

But all is not as it seems. Eliot and Fiona...surprisingly...caught someone's attention. Someone who recognizes their potential, through the altogether normal appearance.

Yes, the boy’s eyes, the slender but strong bridge of the girl’s nose, the high cheekbones and arching brows on both. How could she have missed it? Whoever had camouflaged them had done a masterful job: they had transformed divine into dull.

And with that, the dam bursts. No shit, they're not who they seem. Neither is their grandmother. They have a newfound extended family they know nothing about. A family that's all sort of magical, but not altogether friendly. Eliot and Fiona might get killed just for being born. Unless they pass The Test.

“Let the record show,” Aunt Lucia declared, “that we shall test the children’s potentials with three heroic trials. This will illuminate their characters and determine their lineage. It will prove their possible worth to remain alive.”

But that's not the only family they have to be concerned about. As bad as these relatives seem...there's the other side of the family...a side that may be even worse.

Meanwhile she had to prepare for the gathering of the Board. There were weapons to sharpen and armor to mend. Indeed, one did not face one’s brothers and sisters without taking careful precautions against carnage and bloodshed.

Eliot and Fiona will fight for their lives. They will face tests, temptations. Crocodiles and chocolates. Yes, you read that correctly. They will face attempts at seduction, they will discover powers they never knew they had. Challenges abound. They will learn that there is so much more to them and their families than they ever knew. Will they conquer their challenges? Will they fall? Will they succumb to the light? Ok, the slightly shadowy...or will they fall to the darkness? Above all else...they have to trust each other. They have to stick together.

She gently pushed them away. Tears were in her old eyes. “Be brave,” she whispered. “Do no let them separate you. You are stronger together.”

Together, they are strong. May the best side win.


The Families:

Eliot stared into the darkness and wondered about his father’s side of the family. Why was no one talking about them? Uncle Henry, Aunt Lucia, and possibly Grandmother had murdered. Could the other family be somehow … worse?

This book takes a number of mythologies and gave it an exceedingly interesting spin. There are demonic creatures from Christian mythology and other legends who come to life...and who become other characters here. It is half the fun guessing who the characters are. From the "dark" side, we have characters like the seductress Seeliah, the deadly beauty with a secret soft side, a fighter and a queen in her own rights. On the "good" side, we have characters like the beautiful, deadly Lucia. The charming and conniving Henry Mimes. Good and bad are all relative here, no pun intended, because good or bad, each side is out for their own best interest, and no game is too dirty to play. With families like these...who needs enemies?


Familial love: I absolutely love the portrayal of complex family relationships in this book. It is a battlefield, but above all else, there is loyalty. One may want to kill one's sister at times...but blood ties stand above all. It is a rather "Mafia"-like relationship. You wouldn't ever want to turn your back on a relative...but when it counts, you know they've got your back.


Sibling Love:

Fiona might have tried to drive him crazy, dreamed up the worst insults in the world to throw at him, but she’d never in a million years have snitched on him.

...Slash hate. I absolutely love Eliot and Fiona's relationships. They have only ever had each other. They have never had friends. They don't always get fact, they hardly ever get along...but they're fiercely loyal to each other because of that fact. When you have lived your entire life a step up from abject misery, forbidden to have friends, forbidden to go to school, to be with your feel closest to the one who knows what you're going through. They have an...interesting relationship. There is a considerable and constant amount of rivalry with each other, academically. There's seriously NOTHING else they can do to keep themselves entertained but to fight with each other. They compete by playing word games...seeing who can best insult each other using the most obscure words. Hey, we all have to get our fun somewhere. As much as they claim to hate each other, Eliot and Fiona know they can rely on each other. Fiona is fiercely protective of her brother.

An image of Eliot, beaten and bloodied, flashed through her imagination—and her only thought was to protect him. She yanked the rope.

Eliot, in turn, knows to be there for his sister when she needs him most, even if she seemingly doesn't want him there. They have an unspoken YOU ARE SO GROSS I HATE YOU DON'T EVER TOUCH ME pact. A pact that is broken when they need each other most.

She grabbed Eliot’s hand. Normally this would have violated their brother-sister-never-touch-me agreement, which had been in place since they had been toilet trained. But tonight, Eliot let her.

I absolutely adore a good sibling relationship, and they don't come any better than this book, but that's not to say the twins themselves aren't excellent characters, alone.



She wanted to be Fiona Post … whatever that was … shy and awkward … scared … but herself.

The older twin, the wiser, more cynical twin. The warrior to her brother's poetic soul. Fiona is awkward, unsure of herself, wishing, like most teenaged girls often do, that she could be stronger, more confident, more beautiful.

Fiona would have given anything to be as confident. Every time she had to talk to strangers, her heart pounded so hard she could barely hear her own mouse voice as it tried to squeak out something clever. If shyness were a disease, Fiona would have been rushed to intensive care and put on a social respirator.

Throughout the book, we see her bloom. From a shy, stammering girl afraid of everything to a warrior goddess who stands up to challenges, who is capable of killing when she needs to, who finds strength to stand up against the most powerful of temptations. What I love about Fiona is that she is not perfect. That she is bitchy on occasion, but she has a tremendous amount of loyalty and love for her brother and her family. That is a main character I can stand behind.



“I’m here,” he whispered. “I’ll always be here for you.” Behind the door, Fiona quietly started to sob again. Eliot didn’t let go.

The gentle, soft poet. The musician who doesn't know what he's capable of. He is more compassionate than Fiona, weaker than Fiona, but at the same time, stubborn and strong in his own way. He, too, grows from a spineless boy who's all-too-conscious of being smaller, weaker than his twin, into someone who finds strength and power in a skill he never knew he had. This is one of my all-time favorite book. It is a long book, but I assure you, it's so worth the time investment.

My heart is torn!!!!

Torn Away - Jennifer Brown
“You mean I could have lost everything I ever cared about? Bad news, that’s already happened. Or do you mean worse like I could have died? Because that would actually have been better. I should have died with them. I wish I had died with them.”

This book is absolutely gut-wrenching. It has one of the best portrayals of a teenager in a book I've ever come across. There's just no getting around the fact that it was damned depressing, kind of in a "well, my day WAS a ray of sunshine until I read this book and now I want to dive into a pint of Rocky Road ice cream" and not so much in a ugly-sobbing-into-a-pillow (cough* Forbidden *) kind of sadness. On a Goldilocks scale, this would probably be Baby Bear, in the term that it's just right.

And going with the theme, of course Baby Bear would die.

This book has a fantastically realistic portrayal of grief and a main character who is absolutely believable as a teenager. She is not perfect, she's kind of a brat at times, but she's so human and I relate to her so well that I felt that she was absolutely perfectly-written. I absolutely loved her complex relationship with her mother and sister. More so because I, like her, have a sister of my own.

Feel the sisterly love.

Her sister is 10 years younger, like mine is. She hated her sister when she was born, as I did.

I didn’t think ten years was that much difference, really. I thought Marin would look up to me and I could teach her all kinds of things and be like her hero or something. But what I hadn’t banked on was that there would be a lot of years where she would be a baby. The baby. The center of everything.

I felt that resentment. For years and years, I hated and resented my sister for beingn the baby. More than anything, I regret being such a stupid little shit to my sister when she was growing up. In that way, I knew perfectly what the main character was going through.

More than anything, I felt the portrayal of adults in this book was absolutely brilliant. Adults are people, too. They fuck up. They make mistakes. They lie. They try. They're not perfect. I should know, I'm one. Parents aren't perfect. Neither are friends. In the end, all you can do, really, is try.

And life sucks. Things aren't a fairy tale. Sometimes---oftentimes, things don't turn out as planned. All you can do it adjust as best you can. The main character in this book, while not perfect, tries. She is resilient. I can't ask for more from a character.

And to top it off, there's almost no romance at all. Because there's such a thing as priority, y'all. When your life is in pieces, the last thing you want to think about it luuuuuuuuuurve.

Really, this book is so perfect.

The Summary:

I realized that the worst part of someone you love dying suddenly isn’t the saying good-bye part. It’s the part where you wonder if they knew how much you loved them.

17-year old Jersey had a pretty decent life. Good friends, a nice family. A mom, a stepfather, Ronnie, a baby half-sister Marin. Sure, Jersey's a brat sometimes, but aren't all teenagers? It was a normal life, with a normal nightly argument over doing the chores.

“Don’t forget the laundry,” Mom said on her way out.
“I know,” I singsonged back sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

But what Jersey didn't know is that it would be the last time she saw her mother and sister. This is the Midwest, and there's a tornado on the way.

Being a tough Midwesterner, Jersey doesn't really think about the's practically an annual tradition. She's just chilling in the storm shelter for shits and giggles until the tornado hits. And it is serious fucking business. Even in terms of tornadoes, it's a bad one.

I was confused, and my arms, legs, back, and head stung. I coiled into myself, gripping my head and crying and crying, half-sobbing, half-shrieking. I don’t know how long I stayed that way before I realized it was over.

The aftermath is bad. People dead. The town razed to the ground. It gets worse, because as the days go by, it becomes evident that Marin and her mother aren't coming back. Jersey is as good as an orphan.

Her stepfather is a broken man, unable to deal with his grief, unable to deal with a young woman who looks too much like his wife.

“Jersey, I’m sorry,” he said, and that was pretty much all he needed to say.
“But why?”
“I can’t do it. I can’t raise you alone. I never meant to...”

Jersey has no choice but to live with her grandparents...and the father she never knew. The one who abandoned her.

It's not what she expected. These are far from the cuddly, kind grandparents who would hug you and spoil you and love you. These people are harsh. Cold. Unflinching and unloving, without an ounce of sympathy.

“It’s a shame what happened to your mom,” Grandmother Billie said between bites. “But there’s nothing to be done about it. Terrible things happen every day. To everybody, not just you.”

Her half-sisters (whom she didn't even know exist!) are terrors. Their entire extended family can best be described as white trash, complete with the broken-down home. Her biological dad is a drunk. Her stepmother is no better.

Standing in the doorway, swaying crookedly, balanced on a pair of beat-up cowboy boots, was my father, Clay Cameron.
“...always said you wanted the bitch dead,” she said, and I heard them both giggle.

It is a hell of a life, and Jersey can hardly bear to live.

I pulled the blanket over my head and bawled into the dirty couch, the sobs reaching so far down into me, they came out dry.

But it's not like she has much of a choice. She's almost as good as an orphan. Will Jersey to go down with her grief?, or will she be a survivor?

Nobody was coming to rescue me. Nobody was going to keep me safe. It was all up to me now.

Jersey: I found Jersey to be an amazing character, one of the most sympathetic and believable heroines I've ever come across. She's not perfect. She's a snot to her mom, she ignores her little sister because Marin was annoying, and she feels that regret like nothing else.

What I wouldn’t have given to listen to Marin’s chatter, to have her stand in front of my face begging me to dance with her. Life with Marin was never quiet. Life without her seemed so still it was maddening.

I am a quiet person. I have always been. I can sit quietly for hours. Having a noisy baby sister in the house was all sorts of maddening, and I understood perfectly the way it pissed Jersey off.

And I understood perfectly how much she missed that noise now that her sister is gone. I would not trade my sister for all the silence in the world.

Jersey may be a brat, but she's not a bitch. She knows when to tune it down. She knows how to behave. She can keep her bratty side under control, especially in the aftermath of her mother and sister's death. This book perfectly portrays her stages of grief, as she goes from denial to sorrow to anger, to madness.

I was feeling a too-familiar anger welling up inside me. I’d never been an angry kind of person, and it didn’t make sense why it kept coming back. I was sad, not angry. I was scared and lonely, but I didn’t understand why I felt so mad. Being mad all the time did sort of make me feel like I was losing it.

It's the kind of grief that's internalized. An observer wouldn't see it, but we do. We feel her sorrow and her defense so keenly.

She didn’t know how broken I was on the inside, that I couldn’t have let her in even if I’d wanted to, because the part of me that had once loved was now gone.

Jersey's personality skated that fine line between maturity and teenaged rebellion, and I loved her for it.

The Adults: There are so few YA books that portray adults well. This is one of them.

“I don’t hate you,” he said. “But I can’t take care of you. Every time I look at you, I see her. Every time I hear you talk, I think about how I let everyone down. I think about how I couldn’t save any of you. Not one.”

I loved the adults in this book. They are human, they are weak. They succumb to sorrow, to a coma-like state of grief. They make poor decisions that they regret. They're not perfect. They don't become perfect.

For example, the quote above is from Ronnie, Jersey's stepfather. He is suffering from the death of his wife and daughter. He can't bring himself to take care of Jersey, no matter how much she begs. He hates himself for his weakness, but he just can't do it. Ronnie doesn't have the strength. He doesn't have the willpower. He feels terrible for it, he hates himself, but there's just no way he can take care of a young woman in his state, and he knows it.

Other adults in the book are imperfect as well, from the aged grandparents, who are more like the scary old people shaking sticks at you on the corner than anything that could be remotely warm and loving.

I was reminded of Mom’s theory that Billie and Harold were unhappy people because of the pain life had dealt them. I wondered what terrible things had happened in their lives, and if Mom was right, and they’d simply shut down to shut out the hurt.

Friends' parents aren't loving and awesome. They're people who need to take care of their own family first.

Nobody is perfect. Parents lie. Friends dodge uncomfortable questions. We avoid seeing the truth as long as we can.

This book is damned realistic, and damned depressing.

And I'll be damned if I didn't love it.

Belated update, but this is part I of my epic summer adventure with my sister

My sister is home from summer, yay! This is a belated post and I'm sorry I've been flooding your feed because I mainly update to GR these days and I haven't touched BL at all :(
I've been crazy busy at work. I got a promotion, and I'm busier than ever. I've hardly had time to read, but I'm trying. I've been trying to get out more, and so far this summer, my sister and I have been getting up to all sorts of crazy (well, not really) hijinks. This is a few weeks back, on a grand adventure to Dana Point Harbor.

When I was in 5th grade, we read this book called Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. Today, Dana Point Harbor took on his name, and my 5th grade class took an overnight trip there, staying on board the replica of Dana's ship, the Pilgrim.

It was fucking miserable. There I am, in the foreground, with the gray coat. We lived the life of a sailor in the 1840s. It was horrendous, and I'm glad it lasted just one night. We ate pig slop, AKA gruel. We slept in old, smelly bunk below deck. We got up at various shifts throughout the night to stand watch, staring into nothing in the frigid cold. I was so cold that my teacher took pity on me and gave me her coat.

Needless to say, my experience going back to Dana Point Harbor was a lot better this time around. My sister just returned for the summer, and before she goes back for summer school, we're going to have epic adventures every week. Last Sunday, our target: Dana Point Harbor.

It really is a lovely place. The harbor is packed full of boats.

There's a yachting club.

And my sister whoring out her new DSLR.

There is a tiny, tiny strip of beach for sunbathing, called, rather appropriately "Baby Beach."

And here is the dreaded Pilgrim. It's a lot smaller than I remembered.

We didn't get to go on board. The Pilgrim is only for educational purposes, and I don't think it's open to the public, but we did get to see it and step onboard a play "deck" next to the ship.

The gift shop was also a lot smaller than I remembered. I bought a small white whale, Adelaide, there, when I was in 5th grade. I sadly can't find her now because she's stuffed inside a giant cardboard box inside my house.

But we did have a lot of fun with a giant turtle.

The baby beach isn't the only beach around there, obviously. Here is a view of the beach nearer the wharf. The view is spectacular.

Then there is the boardwalk, with a ton of adorable touristy shops.

We saw a geode shaped like a penis.

Then, after all that walking, it was time for food. It's a sea food day, meaning "see food, eat food." We went to a Cajun crawfish place. The damage: a sack of corn, a basket of Cajun fries, 1 pound of mussels, 2 pounds of shrimps.

We can eat our weight in food. LOOK AT THE CARNAGE.

And that's not all. After we've had a few hours to digest, we went out for snow ice. It's flavored ice blocks shaved into a fine, fine, did I say fine powder snow. It's then topped with stuff. We got red bean, condensed milk, mango poppers (little balls that pop in your mouth, releasing a delicious liquid. That sounds so dirty), and green tea mochi.

I told you we can eat.

I probably gained 5 pounds, but not a single fuck was given that day. Stay tuned, next weekend, we are going to Crystal Cove =)

As good as the song of the same name =)

Wicked Games - Sean Olin

Usually, I'm the one person who hates a book that everyone else has loved. For once, that's not the case. I seem to be the only person who loved this book, and I can't understand why. This book is awesome. And for some reason, the reviews have been like 1-1-1-1-2-1-1 across the board. Huh.

One of my friends who have read this book described it as watching a train wreck. Yep, that's exactly it. It's watching a psychological train wreck as it unfolds, and I love every moment of it.

The main character in this book is a psycho bitch. She really, truly is. There's no kind way to put it. She's insane, she should be on medication, but surprise, surprise, like so many mentally ill people, she refuses to take her meds. The result is a psychological wreck from which you cannot look away.

I've worked in a mental hospital before. I've worked in an emergency room in downtown LA before, and so trust me when I tell you that the craziest people I know are neither hospitalized nor institutionalized. They live and walk among us. They're the sociopaths. Manipulative lovers, friends, those who will simply take things too far. Those who will take advantage of us. Those who will wring every ounce of sympathy out of a situation. Those who I like to call "emotional vampires" because they will suck the life out of you.

This is a book about one such person.

It has:

1. An amazing, realistic portrayal of mental illness. The emotional manipulation. The lies. The self-hate. The sense of knowing that one is sick, but not being able to control yourself or your thoughts. The sense of wrongness.

2. An excellent depiction of cheating. It deals with cheating in a manner that I felt was sensitive, that made me, who hates the matter, supportive of the people involved.

3. A nice guy. Seriously. I felt like the love interest within this book was awesome. He struggles a lot, dealing with a girlfriend who is mentally ill, and I supported him despite everything.

4. No slut shaming. The teens in this book sleep with each other. They cheat. I never got the sense of shame, of self-hate, of recrimination by others that there is something shameful in sexuality.

If you like psycho characters, if you revel in other people's suffering, this is the book for you.

The Summary:

“You haven’t gone off your meds or whatever, have you?” he asked quietly.
Lilah’s face fell in disbelief. “Are you really asking me that?”
“Like I said, I’m worried about you,” Carter said.
Lilah didn’t answer.

Once upon a time, Carter and Lilah were a fairytale. They have been dating since 9th grade, one of those rare couples who have stayed together throughout high school, supporting each other through thick and thin. Once upon a time, Lilah was a bright, sparkling young woman, filled with joy and life.

“You’ve got a spark in you. Like a drive, you know what I mean? I’m always so worried about doing the right thing that I wouldn’t have dared do that without you.”

Once upon a time, Lilah was normal.

It is now their senior year of high school, and the fairy tale looks more like a fever dream.

you haven’t gone off your meds or whatever, have you?” he asked quietly.
Lilah’s face fell in disbelief. “Are you really asking me that?”
It occurred to Carter that she hadn’t answered his question.

Lilah is sick. She is mentally ill. She needs to take her medications. She is self-destructive, she is paranoid. She has few friends, because slowly, she has driven them away through harassment and paranoia. A once-promising swimmer, Lilah has since been kicked off the team.

In her manic exhaustion, she searched down the phone numbers not only of Melissa, but also of the Coral Gables coach and the principal of the school. She’d called them so many times that they’d reported her to Coach Randolph and Lilah had been kicked off the team.

Carter still loves her, he still cares about her, but it seems like he's staying together more out of duty than love.

She quickly covered her cuts with her hand. “I thought you were going to leave me. After what I did,” she said.
The thought of what she might do if he broke up with her sent a cold spike plunging through his heart.

Lilah has slowly withdrawn into herself, but Carter manages to gently talk her into attending a party thrown by one of his best friends.

The party was a disaster. Lilah has a tendency to blow up minor events, and this party was no different.

She knew he wasn’t criticizing her—he was just trying to be funny, or cute or something. But she couldn’t help but feel like he should have just said thank you.

Small things add up, and before she knows it, Lilah has gone down on one of her downward spirals.

So she took another swig of rum and Coke. She couldn’t get drunk fast enough. It was the only way she knew how to escape the feeling that everyone here was laughing at her behind her back.

Before long, Lilah ends up on a roof, drunk, almost fallen to her death before she is rescued by Carter. Lilah's friends volunteer to take her home, leaving Carter there, wondering what the hell just happened. Exhausted and frightened as fuck, but finally able to relax.

Whether or not he wanted to admit it to himself, it was the first time he breathed all night.

But he's not alone in his contemplation. A girl is there, Jules. They start talking, and before they know it, Carter realizes that this girl is funny, she's smart, she's beautiful. She is normal. And despite himself, Carter can't help feeling the attraction.

He relaxed a tick. He couldn’t help it. She was so comfortable with herself—you could see it in her posture, in her easy conversation, in the way she was able to look at the things outside herself without worrying about how they related to her—that she put him at ease.

Then he gets a text from Lilah.


Really, was it any contest?

This story is about Lilah, and Carter, and Jules. It is about a young man struggling to do the right thing, a young woman who just wants to be with him, knowing the challenges.

“It’s okay. I don’t expect you to all of a sudden be my boyfriend. I understand. You’ve been with her forever. I don’t want to be the girl who broke up the class couple.”

And the trouble girl standing in between them.

What she felt was fear. And rage. And a despair so huge and heavy she felt like it might smother her, weigh her down, pull her into the ground, where she’d be buried forever.


She struggled with all her might to stop the tears from falling down her cheeks. She understood that he felt he had been wronged. But didn’t he understand that she’d been wronged, too? She ached all over from how badly she’d been wronged.

Lilah is the mentally ill, emotionally manipulative main character, and I thought her character was brilliantly portrayed. She is not without sympathy. Lilah is seriously sick, she needs her medication, but she cannot be relied upon to take them. Lilah knows that there's something wrong with her. She is completely understanding of the fact that she is not right. She has reason, she sees reason, it's just that often, her brain overrides common sense.

She regretted every single thing she’d done, and her regret made her hate herself and her self-hatred filled her with an uncontrollable need to hear Carter tell her that everything was okay.

She has been with Carter for so long that he has become her life. He has become her identity, and she will stop at nothing to get him back. I thought her hurt and anger and lack of self-control was well-written.

“No. You don’t get to decide when I calm down.” Another surge of rage and she went at him with all the strength she contained. When he held her off with a stiff arm, she clamped her fingers into his arm and dug into his skin with her nails. He’d hurt her; why shouldn’t she hurt him back?


She’s so anxious, though. She needs me so much.” He furrowed his eyebrows. “And she holds on so tightly that she doesn’t realize she’s...killing us.”
Jules felt for him. She understood his fear. Walking away from love was hard—even if the love was bad.
“I don’t want to hurt her,” he said.

I bloody loved Carter. Yes, he cheats on Lilah, but there is so much guilt within him.

I know it's a stupid thing to say about a guy who cheats on his girlfriend, but I felt like Carter has so much integrity. I don't think it's a stretch to say that a lot of guys would just dump a troublesome girlfriend, particularly one during the volatile years of high school. Carter doesn't do that. He remains with Lilah. He feels a responsibility for her. He watches over her. He is more of a babysitter than a boyfriend at times, and he bears his tasks with such earnestness. I truly felt bad for him.

The thing with cheating is that you have to make the cheaters to be likeable, deeply sympathetic people and I felt like this book did that exceptionally well.

“So, look. Things with Lilah are—I don’t even know what they are. We’re going to talk later this afternoon. So, we’ll see. I need to figure things out in my head . . . and . . .” He blushed. “I mean, I should get my shit together before I start messing with yours. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to you and it’s not fair to Lilah. You know what I mean? I shouldn’t be starting new things with new people when I’m in the middle of a great big confusing thing already.”

There are a lot of insecurities, a lot of moral struggles, a lot of guilt. and I was wholly in support of Carter the entire time.

Jules: Oh, sure, she's a drama hipster, but I liked her a lot despite the fact. Maybe it's because she, in her own way, is damaged. She, too, is insecure. She is so refreshingly normal in contrast. Jules knows that Carter and Delilah are complicated. She didn't want to get caught up in the middle, but her attraction for Carter overreaches that common sense. Still, Jules is not clingy. She is reasonable. She gives Carter space to deal. She is not desperate to be loved.

“I get it. Hey, I don’t want to get involved in some crazy cheating thing, either.”
“So,” he said. “Friends?”
She wanted to take his hand in hers and tell him to let her know if he changed his mind. But she knew better than to do that.
Instead, she smirked. “Friends,” she said.

And have I mentioned that she has an awesome, awesome mother?

“Did you hear me?” she said. “It’s not your fault. You don’t have to own problems he’s created for himself. Okay?”
Jules nodded.
“But,” her mom said, arching her eyebrows, “be careful. Guys with girlfriends...they have no idea what they want. And they’ll charm you into thinking that it doesn’t matter. You should know that by now, given the example I’ve set for you.”
“I know,” Jules said. “You’re right. It’s just...”
Jules’s mom patted her hand, and then gave it a playful squeeze. “It’s just that they’re so hard to resist,” she said.
They smiled at each other, almost but not quite ashamed of this truth.
My Last Kiss - Bethany Neal
Aren’t ghosts supposed to have some sort of agenda? I really hope mine isn’t to haunt my boyfriend’s bedroom. That is way too clichéd.

“Why didn’t you stay with your body?” he finally asks.
I meet his eyes and the only thing I want to say is I came back to be with you, I stayed for you.

Sure, you could compare this to The Lovely Bones, in the same way that you could compare Twilight to Bram Stoker's Dracula. It's pretty much the same thing, really, with a few minor differences. The "few minor differences" being:

1. Red tunas. Ok, fine, the technical term for a misleading clue ia a "red herring" but the clues in this book are so fucking obvious and dumb and loud that I've coined a new term for it. Hence, red tuna

2. This ghost is even more of a vapid idiot than the one in The Lovely Bones

3. This ghost gets into one bloody painful mess of a love triangle between the most wonderfulest boyfriend ever who just doesn't geeeeeeeeeet her, maaaaaan and a pothead stoner with a heart of gold

4. Family? Lol. Family? Screw family, it's all about friends, y'all. She has a sister? A brother? A family. Oh, yeah, yeah, she does. She mentions them sometimes. Mostly the fact that her mom is a huge, raging psychotic bitch

5. The dumbest friends ever, in fact, the most vapid group of high schoolers who ever existed

6. There is not a single truly likeable character in the book. I'm dead fucking serious. Her classmates are morons without sympathy. Her family pretty much ignore one another when, if, they're mentioned at all

Really, there's not much introspection. There's no literary value. There is an idiot of a girl who gets to spend time with her boyfriend, while fighting off the feelings for another guy...while she's a ghost. Don't. Just don't.

The Summary:

I think I’m supposed to do something while I’m here. It doesn’t make any sense that I’d be given a free pass to haunt about and chill with my boyfriend.

17-year old Cassidy is dead. How does everyone think she died?

“Well, I heard some guys saying she tried to go skinny-dipping in the river and froze, which is downright ignorant to suggest. Then Kristy London started telling everyone she saw Cassidy throw up at dance once because she was bulimic and that’s why she committed suicide.”

Cassidy was found dead under a bridge, after a night of inebriation. Everyone seems to think her death was a suicide, even her own family. Even the police, since they seem to think she killed herself after, oh, roughyl 5 seconds of investigations. So realistic.

So nobody knows how Cassidy died, since nobody was there. Hell, not even Cassidy knows how she died, because she was drunk as fuck.

I was definitely drinking at the party, but was I drunk enough to forget everything that happened?

But all hope is not lost! Cassidy may be dead, but she's not yet "moved on." She is still here, on earth, as a ghost. Nobody can see her, until, miraculously, her boyfriend, Ethan could! She's been left here on earth with a purpose! How shall Cassidy spent this one wondrous chance?!

I cast away that dangerously hopeful thought and look up at Ethan, deciding to take advantage of what time I have left with him.

Will she use that time to discover how she died? Not exactly.

I’m momentarily distracted by Ethan’s navy blue boxer-briefs. They’re the only thing he’s wearing.

Is she going to spend her remaining time on earth observing her family extensively, seeing that they're her family, who have raised her and loved her for 17 years? Um...

He exhales, long and loud. I lean forward, hoping for a whiff of his breath even if it’s sour, morning scented, but there’s nothing. I frown.

Is she going to spend that time going back to the scene of her death, seeing if there are any clues to be picked up, any memories she can glean from going back to such a pivotal place? Weeeeell...

I’m sure my afterlife mission isn’t to hook up with my boyfriend—especially after what I just remembered about Caleb—but I can’t ignore the allure of his touches.

Ok, fine. This is a teenaged girl, after all. It's only fair that she spends a quarter of the book, or half the book thinking about her boyfriend. But what about the remaining half? How will she spend the rest of her time on earth?! Clearly, she has been put here for a purpose. Ghosts don't just wander around after death pointlessly. Surely there is a bigger picture here.


I bend down right in front of him, meaning to study his face for some proof of guilt, maybe attempt a ghostly trick to will a writing sample out of his obnoxious orange backpack, but the only thing I can think about is his mouth closed around mine. My eyes wander to his lips.

Or, you know, just think about kissing him. Investigation. Kissing. Same thing, if you think about it.

Cassi-die now plz:

I squared my shoulders and inched up my chin as if I was above his affection. I wasn’t, but I was so mad I wanted him to think I was, to feel bad about it.

The word vapid is actually spelled "C-A-S-S-I-D-Y." The definition of her name is Captain Obvious since she has the uncommon knack for stating the fucking obvious.

She sets a pad of monogrammed stationery on top of her notes from last week and adds Mica’s name to a short list of classmates, all of whom attended the party.
“This is your list of people you think might know something about my death, isn’t it?” I ask her.

Her grief is of the woe-is-me everything is about me me me. OK, she's dead. I know that. I should be able to empathize with that, but her sadness...the way it is written, so very much self-centered, just makes me laugh.

Sadness rolls over me, knowing that I’ll never again be the person she turns to for comfort.

She is the equivalent of a mentally-challenged ghost. She knows she can't be heard, yet she insists on talking VERY LOUDLY and ENUNCIATING VERY CLEARLY in the hopes that someone will be able to hear her.

“Aimée,” I say very slowly as if overenunciating will allow her to hear me, “look under that binder.”

It is the equivalent of talking VERY LOUDLY INTO THE EARS OF A DEAF PERSON. It just makes you look like a motherfucking moron.

Her investigation into her death can be best summed up in one hyphenated word: "half-assed". She withholds clues, she ignores clues, she ignores uncomfortable flashbacks, like her memories of flirting and kissing another boy who is not her boyfriend. She lies. She omits information that would help the one person who is able to see her investigate her death.

If I tell him I think I was with Caleb he’ll definitely ask why. I’m not ready to go there with him. It’ll ruin the small piece of us we’ve recaptured, and I can’t bear losing that again.

Almost all her memories are of emotional conflicts between her love triangle. They are frustrating, they are foolish, they give me no respect for Cassidy whatsoever.

The Side Characters:

After he leaves, the cafeteria clears out, but conversations still echo off the walls. She was totally drunk … I heard she froze to death … Who kills herself over a breakup? I mean, really?

Seriously, there is not one single likeable character in the entire fucking book. Her family are portrayed as idiots. Her father is a doormat. Her mother is a psycho with a midlife crisis who pretty much has no reaction over her daughter's death besides for the fact that it might give her something to do. Cassidy has a tremendous amount of contempt for her mom, and her entire family is portrayed so briefly, so poorly, that there is absolutely no sense of familial love whatsoever.

Instead, we are focused on her friends, and man, they are motherfucking idiots. Cassidy may be vapid, but she appears to be a product of her school, because her entire fucking school is filled with brainless teenagers without an ounce of sympathy. Literally nobody gives a fuck about her death but her friend, Aimée. The entire student body doesn't need counseling, they use her death as an opportunity to gossip, to make small-talk, to talk shit about Cassidy now that she's dead. It would have appeared like Cassidy had no friends at all after her death, and it is so strange, considering we don't get a sense of that at all from the flashbacks of her life before death.

Truly, the side characters in this book, the entire fucking cast, doesn't seem realistic at all. There is no emotional connection to anyone, anything.

The Motherfucking Love Triangle:

Aimée rolls her eyes. “I can’t believe he was high at eight-thirty in the morning. I’ll never get what Cassidy saw in him.”

DING DING DING. We have a love triangle here. And it's not an obvious type. It's the I-will-keep-you-guessing-until-the-bitter-fucking-end type.

Ethan is the nicest boy in the world. He was her first kiss. He was her first love. They have been dating for three years.

He took my hand, and I was certain, in that moment, that I would never kiss anyone else for as long as I lived.

Until, inexplicably, she falls for Caleb, a stoner who pops pills under the guise of Tic-Tacs.

Caleb, who is never NOT stoned.

Caleb opens his eyes in a lazy, delayed reaction that tips me off that he’s high. Again.

Caleb, who is a bad boy with a Tragic Past who totally deserves our sympathy, right

" had changed when your parents split up and you started getting high all the time..."

Caleb, who gives her a special Brownie laced with marijuana. Such a fucking gentleman. How could a girl ever resist?

“Speaking of, I made you a little somethin’ somethin’.” He reached into his bright orange backpack and pulled out a brownie wrapped in pink cellophane and about ten different colors of ribbon.
“Caleb, you didn’t have to do this.”
“I wanted to give you something special to celebrate your birth.”

And she cheated on Ethan with THIS loser? No, thank you. Sure, Ethan is so fucking effeminate that he barely even counts as a boyfriend, but he's still a far better catch than Caleb. And we're left wondering until the very end who she will choose.

I do not tolerate cheating. There are books in which cheating is really, really well done, in which I feel a tremendous amount of sympathy for the cheaters.

This is not one of those books.

Kiss Kill Vanish - Jessica Martinez
I realize that it’s my stupid rich-girl upbringing screwing me over, but I’d still rather buy one tray of high-grade sushi and starve for the rest of the week than eat fourteen 7-Eleven cheese dogs
Overall: not the worst book I've ever read, but it was overwhelmingly boring, with a character whose whininess and self-pity can rival the best (or worst) of Bella Swan, and a love interest that makes me want to run flying into the arms of darling Edward.

It may be surprising, but my main problems with this book isn't even about the fact that the main characters' love interests (yes, plural, there will be a love triangle) are, respectively, someone who is...
...nothing but a drunk sack of dumb
...a murderer [who] spun it around so he was the wounded one.
No, I didn't like this book much because:

1. The boring plot. The murders, the danger, all that's just in the past, and it doesn't even freaking involve her. Instead, in the present we have a main character who spends 90% of the book whining and nothing else

2. The main character is dull as hell. Yeah, I feel bad for her. No, she's not even the worst character in the world, sure, she's wishy washy and stupid sometimes, but hey, teenagers (no offense, remember, I've been there, too!) but man, is she boring to read about

3. The romance. Ok, I said that I wouldn't complain about the romance. I lied. It didn't seriously piss me off, but I had problems with it. Love triangle aside, both love interests are just assholes, and I can't comprehend her interest in them

The writing is good, the instrospection is good, but if I wanted to hear that much whining from a teenager, I'd go plant myself outside of a Forever 21 dressing room.

The Summary: Jane is not actually named Jane. It is the most boring, obvious alias in the world, and her real name is Valentina Cruz. She is currently a starving artist, living in Montréal, Canada, barely making ends meet playing a freaking mandolin (which she doesn't really know how to play) for handouts, and was in fact, homeless, until a rich douchebag of an aspiring artist, Lucien picked her off of her streets to be his muse.

It wasn't always this way. In her old life, not so very long ago, Jane was the beloved daughter of a Miami art collector, a very, very wealthy art collector. She is used to the high life, she is a connoisseur of art, she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, and was clandestinely dating the man of her dreams until the man of her dreams became a murderer.

A murderer, who, as it turned out, was working under her father. Her father, who is not an art collector at all but the leader of a drug cartel.

After witnessing darlin' 23-year old Emilio (can you say statutory rape?) splatter a man's brains all over the floor, Jane fled. She originally intended to go to Spain, but only had enough money to go to Montréal. A frozen city, a French-speaking city. Hint: she doesn't speak a fucking word of French.

Enter Lucien and his brother, Marcel. Both wealthy, drug-addled playboys, both entitled bastards who toy with Jane like a cat does a mouse. Then Emilio re-enters the picture.

"Jane" spends her days being a muse, thinking about food because she is constantly hungry, and reminiscing about how sad and pathetic her life currently is.

Will something finally happen before the book makes me fall asleep?

Hint: No.

Leaving Key West with nothing but a stolen mandolin and my passport was stupid. I see that now.
She was born a rich girl, and so that just sets the stage for failure already. Jane doesn't think anything through. She spends the book whining "Oh, I know I should have _________ but instead I'm just going to __________ even if I know I should have done ___________ instead. Sigh. Woe is me.

It gets really fucking old. I might have felt bad for her the first few times around, but come on, enough is enough already.

Some examples:

1. AAAAAHHHH RUN: Ok, she saw dad order her bf to kill a guy. That really sucks, yeah, I get it. But instead of like, panicking and running, why not just hang around for awhile instead of kicking it into high gear and running the fuck away before you get the whole story. At least plan things through. Take a little time and get your shit together instead of going AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH NEED TO GTFO RIGHT NOW. Emilio showed no signs of wanting to kill her. Her dad sure as hell ain't gonna kill her and she knew it. Y SO IMPULSIVE? Sure, running away is probably not the worst idea considering daddy is a murderer, but taking 5 minutes to actually plan shit is probably wise

2. AAAAAHHHH RUN (Part II): Jane had nothing on her when she left. Nothing. Barely enough money for a plane ticket. Barely anything on her. She doesn't know how to fucking plan at all. Jane did well in school, but it's all just book smarts, and not an iota of common sense. Ok, she doesn't have a lot of access to money, um, HELLO, HER DAD IS RICH? Fuck, steal a few fucking silver spoons or something. Raid the jewelry box. Steal shit from her sisters. From what she's been telling us, she wasn't exactly fond, nor did she have the highest opinion of her sister anyway, because apparently one is a boy-crazy spend-a-holic and the other is as dumb as a Kardashian brick. She had jack shit when she ran. From a main character from such a wealthy family, that's just fucking dumb. Daddy gave you credit cards for a reason

3. You murderer! I love you! Again, not the brightest brick in the wall. She ran away because beloved bf is a killer, and now he's back and she's like I LOVE YOU I WILL RUN AWAY WITH YOU <33333 Seriously? Why not just fucking stay in your posh life and not suffer this shit in the first place if you're just gonna be ok with the fact that your bf is a killer if you're not ok with the fact that your dad is a killer, too. But Emilio has suuuuuuuuuch a good heart because he's killing to make money for his family. Um, what do you think your dad is doing?

I mean, if it were me, I'd just stay and pretend to not know what's going on until I could scrounge together enough money to hightail it to another country and erase my identity, if I ran at all.

I failed ethics in college (true story). I got a B the second time around, though.

4. The Bella Swan shit: You know how after Edward leaves, Bella is pretty much comatose, spending her day doing ;_; and nothing else? MEET JANE, BITCHES. Jane does fucking nothing. She can't fucking support herself (cause someone didn't think shit through!), so eeeeeeeeeveryone comes to her rescue because Jane can do jack shit. Sure, she actually kicks a guy in the balls, but that's about all the action that you get out of her.

She's hungry? A kind old man constantly gives her food, and eventually, a job, or else other guys bring her food (sushi! No, really, sushi)

She can't make the rent? It's magically paid for her.

She doesn't have clothes to wear to nice parties? Her typically bitchy rooommates somehow magically turns kind and gives her a fucking awesome dress.

She's homeless? Someone magically appears to rescue her and gives her a job posing as a model.

And no, she never thinks about these things. She spends the entire book reminiscing and feeling sorry for herself. That's it.

The Romance:
His fake Spanish accent makes me want to claw his face, but I don’t want to get close enough for him to grab me again.
Neither of the love interests in this book are anything to be desired. I mean, out of the two, I might even be tempted to pick statutory-rapist murderer over drunken-drug-addled playboy.


Emilio may be a murderer, but the alternative doesn't seem very attractive in comparison because, there's no other way to put it, Marcel is a patronizing, condescending asshat. He constantly insults her. He constantly puts her down.
“You’re the one who upset me,” I spit. Suddenly every emotion is funneled into my disgust for Marcel. “You made me sound like a paid escort.”
He snorts. “I’m sorry, you’re not?”
He manipulates her, he goads her.
He snorts, and a wild, cruel look takes over his face. “And what would you do if I dropped it in the pool?”
In the first 60% of the book, there is nary a single moment when I felt anything but utter contempt for that overwhelming thundercunt. He is sexist, he is so my-shit-don't-stink, and he probably thinks it's true, considering the fact that he is going to be the heir to a soap empire. Don't let that fool you. Squeaky clean Marcel ain't.

Every time he opens his mouth.
"You have retail sexpot written all over you.”
I glare at him. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Chill out. It’s a compliment.”
I wanted to kick him in the balls.

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in the final edition.
The Dolls - Kiki Sullivan
This is one of the most shallow, insipid YA paranormal books I have ever read. It is filled with descriptions of clothes, descriptions of beautiful, wealthy people, meaning-filled loving gazes, and not much more than that.

I might get more complexity from the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.
He looks up as we pass, and for an instant, our eyes meet, and it feels like the world slows on its axis.
Most voodoo books I've read have been, well, doodoo. This book totally sucked, too, but here's the difference. It's still a steaming pile of poo, but it's shit that doesn't stink. It's shit that has no personality. Instead of a fresh, steaming pile of crap, this is fecal matter that's been dried, dunked in bleach, and then encased in plastic because all the character (however stinky) that made the poo interesting in the first place has been completely removed from it.

This book is as whitewashed as voodoo gets. It's an insult to the original religion.

It has:

1. A special, different main character
2. Insta-love
3. A love triangle between a mysterious (and light-skinned black boy!) and a nice, sweet boy-next-door type (shocking!)
4. The most flavorless Southern atmosphere I have ever encountered within a book. This is the South, but don't worry, there's nothing that resembles it in our town, because it's a fucking magical town that looks like a picturesque New England town, y'all
5. Voodoo that has been sanitized within an inch of its life. It's closer to a bastardized version of chanting underneath the moonlight Wicca than anything remotely like the original African/West Indies religion.
6. More clothes than magic. More brand-dropping than paranormal. Chanel. Bling. Furs. Bring on the wealth.

Don't bother.

The Summary:
“Look, I’m all for the idea of bringing a bunch of hot college guys to town, but are you sure we should be opening the gates if a bunch of magic-haters are out to kill us?”
We're the Dolls and we are. Fab. U. Lous.

We are the Queen Bees of Pointe Laveau high school. We are the descendants of Voodoo practitioners, our families rule the town, and we do anything we please.
We can have anything we want. Good grades. Fabulous clothes. Immunity from teachers’ punishments. Control over everything. Lust and love from whatever boys we choose. It’s all ours. Doesn’t that interest you?”
We are stunningly beautiful, all of us.
Across the group of mourners, two impossibly beautiful girls are staring right at me. One is a beautiful honey blonde with perfectly tanned skin. The other, who’s even more stunning, has glistening cocoa skin, a perfect model’s body, and mounds of wildly gorgeous ebony curls.
They’re surrounded by three guys and two other girls, all of whom are also gorgeous
We rule the school. Pointe Laveau is within Carrefour, Louisiana, a town for the ultra-rich. Even among the wealthy, we are the elites.

We wear the most stunning clothes, and we hope you like seeing clothing descriptions because they are on practically every page. But we're worth it, our clothes are all designer, and they deserve to be shown off.
She’s paired her oxford with a set of Chanel pearls featuring a diamond-encrusted, interlocking double C. Her high-heeled Mary Janes are studded with what look like diamonds, and her hair is artfully mussed.
The school has a dress code? Oh, you don't say. Guess what, we don't give a flying fuck.

Fuck classes. Fuck the drinking age. Alcohol in school? Why the eff not.
“Gin and tonic?” Arelia asks eagerly as she smoothes a corner of the blanket. It’s cashmere, I notice. “Or would you prefer champagne today?”
Our lunches are catered. We don't eat in the cafeteria like the bourgeoisie. Everywhere we go, we are trailed by an adoring crowd of admirers.
Not only are they undoubtedly the most gorgeous girls in school, but they’re being trailed by a crowd of adoring-looking guys as they sweep into the cafeteria in a cloud of expensive perfume.
Our version of Voodoo involving dancing around a circle to open the protective gates of our community in order to meet boys.
“Dandelion and mojo beans, sandalwood and lemon balm, we draw your power. Spirits, open the gates of Carrefour on Saturday night.”
Eveny, we welcome you to our circle. First on the itinerary to become a voodoo queen: a makeover.
"We’re getting you a haircut and a makeover on Thursday after school. We’ve already scheduled an appointment for you at Cristof’s Salon.”
The thing is, I’ve always felt a half step different from everyone else.
Meet your main character, Eveny. About to turn 17, she is your typical special, different main character with immensely powerful power who doesn't do jack shit to earn it. A descendant of a powerful Voodoo Queen, Eveny holds tremendous powers...powers of which she doesn't have a fucking clue. Powers that she has never learned. Power that she has never earned. Powers that comes through her only through the lucky accident of her birth. Give me a break.

I hate characters who have no merit. I hate characters who inherit everything by the basis of luck. Eveny is wealthy because of who she is. Eveny is powerful because of her bloodline. She never fucking has to earn anything. She never works hard for anything. I have zero respect for her. She knows The Dolls are shallow, and yet she feels a connection to them anyway, she slums with the poor kids, she can similarly chill with the rich kids. She dangles a guy along while lusting after another. Eveny is a character without character.

The Setting:
“It’s like one big country club,” I say.

A half-dozen shops that look like they belong in an Atlantic seaside resort town—not middle-of-nowhere Louisiana—extend down the left side of the street.
Expecting an authentic, drowsy, languid, atmospheric Louisiana setting? You're shit out of luck.

You want hot weather? Swamps? Fuck you. The privileged gated community of Carrefour in which Eveny lives is magically climate-controlled. There are flowers and temperate climates year-round. There are McMansions everywhere. Designer boutiques. French bakeries. It's like fucking Beverly Hills. There is no local flavor, unless our precious precious fucking Eveny decides to slum it out and go into the slump for a crawfish boil. And even then, the crawfish is frozen. What kind of self-respecting Louisianan eats frozen crawfish?

There is almost nothing of the Southern atmosphere that I love so much. The gated community of Carrefour might as well be anywhere, and indeed, it is described as looking like an "Atlantic seaside resort." Fuck that, seriously. The town is so tremendously wealthy, and the wealthy areas, not the actual, realistic South, is where we spend most of the time. There was no fucking point to this book being in the South, besides the fact that the setting is used as an excuse for the fuck-up sanitized version of "Voodoo" within this book.

And speaking of "voodoo."

"At one time our ancestors were very powerful practitioners of voodoo. But in 1863, they, along with Peregrine’s and Chloe’s ancestors, struck their own deal with the fates because they felt voodoo was getting too commercialized."
This is what passes for voodoo in this book. It's practically Wicca in its cleanliness. It's herbs, dancing, a few cute little voodoo dolls. Now, I know that voodoo isn't the bloody sport that it's portrayed as in the media. I know that it's not all animal sacrifice. I know it's a peaceful religion, I don't expect gore and magic and screaming. I, however, expect more than....
...some sort of sorority ritual.
And more than...
“There are a few things to know: First, all charms have to start with asking Eloi Oke to open the gate so that we can talk to the spirits. Second, they all have to involve herbs or flowers, because we channel our power from them. Third, they always have to be specific. Like you can’t say, ‘Make all the boys fall in love with me.’ Instead you’d have to ask for your own beauty enhancements, or ask for the love of a specific guy. Or both.”
The Romance: There is insta-love. There is a love triangle. Eveny falls into insta-love with a...
“But I mean the one with the blue eyes,” I mumble.
“The light-skinned black dude?” Drew asks.
Are you kidding me? Can't you just make the love interest, you know completely black? Why does he have to be light-skinned? Why does a black guy have to have blue eyes? Oh, I get it, it's striking, but I can't help but feel so severely disappointed that what feels like copping-out on the issue of a person-of-color love interest.

Oh, and the love triangle. That fucking love triangle. Between the light-skinned black guy Caleb whom every girl in town lusts after, and nice guy Drew, whom she just can't bring herself to care about, despite the fact that he's obviously in insta-love with her.
I wish I weren’t thinking about Caleb. I wish I hadn’t spent the last twenty-four hours daydreaming about being pressed up against the solid chest I’d collided with outside the library.
As if I didn't make it quite clear: so not recommended.

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected review copy subject to change in the final edition.

God help us all

Vivian Divine is Dead - Lauren Sabel
A line pops into my head, one I repeated dozens of times to get the right balance of hope and desperation that the Zombie Killer is known for. All that stands between me and the end of the a bobby pin.

I have two, motherfuckers.

Vaya con dios, mi amigo.

No, that's not a quote from the book. It's my advice to you, it means "go with god, my friend," and you're going to need that advice should you insist upon reading this book.

It's one of those so-bad-it's-almost-good books.

It's insta-love, and that's pretty much it. We have omg HE'S SUCH AN ASSHOLE and YOU ARE A FUCKING MORONIC PRINCESS and then 5 seconds later I LOVE HIM. What the fuck.

Ok, so here's kind of a spoiler, but not really. The book is entitled Vivian Divine is Dead. I know that this is huge news. Shocking. Absolutely flabbergasting, jaw-dropping, and all of that good shit but Vivian Divine doesn't die.

I wish she had. The book might have been more interesting otherwise.

The Summary:

I try not to think about the day Pierre and I first fell in love. It was a year ago, when we were wrapping up Zombie Killer, my blockbuster about an orphan who saves the human race.

Sure, Vivian Divine may be a famous Hollywood movie star, Oscar-nominated by age 16, with a famous director father and the 3rd most beautiful (and very dead) mother (as chosen by Time magazine), but as far as she's concerned, everything in her life has been about the movie Zombie Killer.

But no really, her life kind of sucks right now because:


2. Daddy tried to kill himself from ZE PAIN

3. Her boyfriend, Pierre, just cheated on her with her much skinner best friend, Sparrow (not much of a best friend anymore!). Her heart is totally, irretrievably broken.

Pierre was the only one who could make me feel better, and the only boy who ever whispered, This is forever.

Oh yeah, and um.

4. Someone's sending her death threats. Hence the title of the book. Vivian Divine really, really thinks she's going to die.

And apparently, shit, it's true! People are trying to kill her! What's the poor Vivian Divine to do? She's never attended school, she's never done a single fucking thing for herself.

I hate asking for help. Luckily, I never have to. A team of specialists is paid to take care of my every need, to anticipate what I might want and have it prepared ahead of time. If they don’t have the right brand of mango lip balm ready for me after a shoot, they’re done.

So Vivian Divine is totally fucked when her only way of escaping CERTAIN DOOM is to escape to Mexico!

Ay, caramba! (I know there's supposed to be another exclamation mark before the Ay, but I'm too tired to look it up in Character Map, ok?)

So with a mysterious, awesome new disguise---you know how when you go incognito, you're supposed to look plain and all that good shit so that you don't attract attention?

I’m normally cute: big blue eyes, pouty lips, long copper curls. But this is gorgeous. My short black hair falls straight and glossy as a waterfall; my eyes are melting chocolate.

Someone forgot to tell Vivian Divine.

But it's ok, because the instant she meets trouble...Vivian Divine falls into insta-love.

Standing in front of me is the sexiest guy I’ve ever seen. His eyes are a rugged green, his black hair shaggy on his shoulders. His cargo pants hang off his slim hips, and a white undershirt clings to his chest. My personal trainer would kill for his body.

“Hola.” I’m completely tongue-tied.

Nick is instantly contemptuous of her. This spoiled little princess who is clearly out of her league in the wilds of México. Such a fool. What could this toughened, experienced, battle-weary boy ever see in Hollywood Royalty Vivian Divine?

“You’re a spoiled brat. You have no problems,” Nick says. “You think your life’s so tough, but your rich mommy and daddy take care of everything for you.” He snatches my orange soda from my hand, takes the last sip, and tosses it into the trash. “You don’t know what real pain is.”

Uh huh! YOU TELL HER, NICK! Don't let that prissy little princess worm her way into her heart. And true to his words, Nick holds steady for all of 5 seconds.

“When I met you on the bus, I thought you were just another rich American,” he continues. “But you’re not. You’re...different.”

OH, NO, NOT THE D WORD!!!!!!!!

But the romance aside, THERE'S STILL PEOPLE TRYING TO KILL VIVIAN DIVINE. Even in Mexico! But it's all good, Vivian Divine was in Zombie Killer, remember? Her experience from Zombie Killer not only helps her endure wearing contacts when she's donning her disguise...

[She] finds me a pair of brown contacts, which I’m used to wearing, thanks to my months of demon-red contacts in Zombie Killer.

And helps her tolerate hunger during her days on the run in Mexico.

I’ve never been this hungry before (except for all-night shoots for Zombie Killer.

But it helps Vivian to prove herself to Nick when he's being an asshat to her.

Anger races through me, and I remember the judo move I learned for the all-night shoot of Zombie Killer. I’ll show you petty problems.

And it helps her to protect herself against the BAD BAD GUYS. Vivian is trapped in a moving car? It's all good. She can jump out of the car if she needs to, thanks to her experience with Zombie Killer.

I’ve done it before. I jumped out of a moving car for a stunt in Zombie Killer.

If someone tries to attack her, it's all good, because she's learned judo on the set of Zombie Killer.

What if someone jumps out and attacks me? What do I do? I try to recall the judo moves I learned for Zombie Killer.

If she needs encouragement...Vivian can just remember her mother's words of advice...for acting in Zombie Killer.

I remember my mom telling me the day before she disappeared, when I was filming the fight scene for Zombie Killer. In that scene, when the zombies had me almost beaten, the Zombie Killer realized that sometimes not fighting is as powerful as fighting.

MEXICO JA JA JA: The Mexico portrayed in this book can best be described in one word: stupid. People can eat rodents if they need to. There are fucking mariachi bands everywhere. They eat tacos every meal of the day. They eat cricket tacos. They speak in complete English sentences...but certain words have to constantly be in Spanish. A guy can speak for an entire paragraph in fluent English, but when he refers to his mother, it's always mi madre . Come on, now.

Divinely Insipid:

Hiding from a killer with an armed stranger in Mexico? Am I crazy?

Yes, yes you are.

Vivian Divine is Hollywood Royalty, which is the synonym for I have no common sense whatsoever outside of what I learned in movies. She has spent her entire life as an actor. She has never been to school. Her parents are famous and wealthy. She has always been waited on hand and foot. She doesn't know what it's like to be in the real world, so when she gets immersed into it, into the wilds of Mexico, of all things, she drowns. It takes a big, strong man to protect her, because Vivian Divine can't do jack shit.

All her experience is gleaned from movies. She sees a fucking house. It looks like a house in [insert movie here] that she's been in. It happens repeatedly. To Vivian, Mexico looks like a movie set.

I’ve seen this church before, I realize, on the studio’s back lot. It’s the “Traditional Mafia Church” set.

To Vivian, everything that happens is the equivalent of a movie scene.

It feels like my story’s ending. It’s a story with a tragic ending, one where the heroine starves to death on the side of a mountain, all alone, with only a lamb to keep her company.

And I must be frank, there's no other way to put it. Vivian Divine, by rights, should have died because she is a fucking moron who wouldn't last 1.5 seconds in downtown LA, much less Mexico.

The Romance: For someone who falls into insta-love so quickly, Vivian Divine can't forget about her ex-boyfriend, Pierre.

His eyes seem to breathe me in, all of me, not just little useful pieces like Pierre’s used to do. But maybe I’m just imagining it.

I expect Nick to look confused, like Pierre did when I told him, but he’s nodding like he understands.

If Pierre was here, he’d pretend he knew how to do it, burn himself, and then make me start the fire.

It’s the complete opposite of Pierre’s bathroom, which is stuffed with expensive colognes and hair gel, but then again, Pierre has more beauty products than I do.

I know all about sleeping pills. Pierre takes them to get a few hours of sleep before his shoots so that he won’t have bags under his eyes.

All this happens throughout the book. She is constantly thinking about Pierre and comparing/contrasting them. Enough already. And then not a few days passes before Vivian Divine realizes...

I see your soul, I want to say, but I bite my tongue, and hope he sees mine.

The insta-love is terrible. Nick hated her in the beginning, and then for no reason at all, they start to fall in love right after she tells him the equivalent of I'M NOT AS SHALLOW AS YOU THINK I AM, without any proof, without any character development whatsoever. And before you know it, this happens.

“Nobody knows,” Nick says. “But when the locals look at them, they see angels.”
“What do you see?”
“Something even better,” Nick says, looking right at me.

God won't help you. Watch a telenovela instead.

Hexed...with a terrible read

Hexed - Michelle Krys
“Go on,” he says. “I like it rough.”
Double ugh! I’m suddenly acutely aware that I’m straddling him—wearing a micromini and heels, no less—and I can’t roll off him fast enough.
“You’re sick, you know.”
Meet your main characters! She's a brainless cheerleader and he's a stalker!

This book is a cesspool of insipidity into which there is no return. It makes much-reviled works of art like Twilight read like the fucking Magna Carta.

It has:

1. A stupid, shallow, bitchy cheerleader stereotype, which wouldn’t be so bad except that it’s the fucking main character who is...

2. Too-stupid-to-live syndrome. Despite the fact that she has the 3rd highest GPA in school. I see no evidence of it

3. A love triangle between an asshole jock and a creepy (but hot) stalker. The sad thing is that I’d pick the brainless asshole jock over the stalker. Guess who she’ll end up with! Gasp! Shock!

4. A view that females should be submissive within a relationship
5. No true, equivalent female friendship.
We’ve been best friends since the first grade, and he’s just some guy. Some sickeningly hot, captain-of-the-football-team guy.
...which they proceed to fight over. *slow clap*

Really, this book is just fucking horrible.

The Summary:
I’m almost at the lip of the dining room entrance when, at the last minute, I lop off half the mountain of mashed potatoes. (I don’t want people thinking I’m eating my feelings.) And then I make my way to the Pretty People table.

Indigo (“Indie”) has the perfect life. She is the *hair flips* cheerleader in the school squad. She’s blond-haired, with the perfect body. She’s in a group of the Pretty People (seriously, that’s what they call themselves). She’s got the 3rd highest GPA in school despite the fact that we nary ever see her (perfect) ass touch a classroom chair. She’s dating the most perfect, gorgeous jock in the entire school. So what if her mom’s a batty Wiccan? Indie’s still got it made. She and the girls on the Cheer squad have got it made. For many of them, this is the pinnacle of their lives.
She launches into an inspirational pregame speech about precious high school memories and the importance of showing off our hot bods while we still have them.
Indie? She’s the perfect combination of booty, beauty, and brains. The latter is highly debatable, given what will happen next.

She is the envy of the girls at school; her only rival is best-frenemy Bianca who secretly desires the hunkalicious Devon, but it’s all good, because Devon only loves Indie, I mean, out of all the girls in the world, Devon chose Indie to take to a Jay-Z* concert.
Devon could have brought anyone in the world to that concert and he chose me.
*Watch the name-dropping in this book. There will be many. Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s bullshit Maybelline.

Life is good. Until theLeather Jacket guy almost lands on her car in a bloody splat, and what’s weird is that he’s holding a scrap of paper with her address on it.

What makes it weirder is that he shows up at school several days later to make fun of her during a cheer routine in a school football game. What a fucking charmer!
At first the guy looks like he’s trying to hold back, but then he bursts into laughter again—a full-bellied, brace-your-stomach fit—and I get the distinct impression he’s laughing at me.
But it’s just this one time, right? There’s just no way he’s…following her, right?
A chill ripples through me.
He followed me.
The light from a streetlamp etches shadows into his laugh lines and makes his smirk look sinister. He pushes off the wall.
“Don’t come any closer.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Am I not handling the news that you’ve been stalking me as well as you’d hoped?”
He grins.
“And why are you following me? That’s pretty creepy, you know.”
But what the hell, YA heroines were never known for their intelligence, anyway.

And speaking of intelligence, it doesn’t run in the family. Apparently, there is this SUPER SECRET SPECIAL BIBLE. Not the, like, Holy Bible, but the WITCHY BIBLE. Her mother is obsessed with it, and mommy wants to keep it a secret SOOOOOO MUCH that she:

1. Tells her daughter about it constantly and reminds her of how important it is

2. Keeps it in her fucking store instead of, say, A FUCKING SAFE IN A HIGH-SECURITY BANK

Leather Jacket dude is Bishop, stalker extraordinaire. Apparently, Indie is special, she could be a witch! (they have 2 sets of recessive genes). Will they be able to train Indie to be a witch long enough to protect her? Will they be able to stop gazing lovingly into each other's eyes before Bishop shoves her from a ledge in order to force her to learn to fly?
I want to scream at him. Tell him he’s a jerk for waiting so long to catch me, but then I become hyperaware that we’re face to face, that the length of our bodies are pressed together, and I don’t say any of those things.
Will she forgive him? Of course.

Indie is just another word for boring:
And Bishop said cheerleaders aren’t smart.
Except that maybe he’s right. Because wasn’t this—the social suicide of being seen at a party with Paige—what I was just trying to avoid?
The only thing that prevents Indie from being your standard Mary Sue is the fact that she is hot shit, and she knows it. In most YA books, we have a Mean Girl Queen Bee trope. In this book, the Indie IS the Queen Bee. As previously mentioned, she is beautiful, she is popular, she is the envy of all the girls and the object of desire for the boyz, being one of the aforementioned cheerleaders who’s not shy about her body, as mentioned by the awesome second part of the love triangle...
“Oh, right.” Bishop nods sagely. “Forgot you flashed your ass to half of Los Angeles earlier. Not shy at all.”
She is the epitome of the shallow, self-absorbed cheerleader who cares about nothing but her reputation and popularity.
It didn’t make sense to me that she didn’t want to be popular.
She thinks everyone’s exactly like her. Indie feels like everyone in high school has one goal in life: that of popularity. It doesn’t matter who her friends are, she will step over them and abandon them in her way to the top. Indie likes her throne. She wants to maintain her place in the school status quo, and it takes the biggest fucking event ever to get her to snap out of her bullshit, and no, I don’t have any sympathy with her for it.

She is the kind of person who doesn’t give a shit about her friends---unless they’re popular, like fellow Queen Bee Bianca. Her other childhood “friend” Paige isn’t so much as a friend as a convenience. There to be used when needed. She has no consideration for others, she sees nothing wrong in using others – after all, Indie is the queen. Other people exist only to serve her ladyship.

Indie is a submissive girlfriend, as smart as she claims to be, as popular as she is, she sees herself as an extension of her hot, super-popular boyfriend Devon. She goes out of her way to be pleasant to him, she makes out with him and lets him kiss her and grope her because it is her duty as a girlfriend. It is a stupid fucking submissive attitude that sends the wrong message to young women. You do not OWE your boyfriend anything, much less your body.

Too Stupid To Live:
“Well, I’m not just going to let him get away, am I?”
“Nooo,” she says, throwing as much sarcasm into one word as humanly possible, “you definitely want to run toward the ax murderer.”
The third-highest GPA in the school. This is what we have, ladies and gentlemen. She thinks nothing of letting a weirdo who might have broken into her house INTO her house. She thinks nothing of following weird creepazoid into the dark. She trusts whom she shouldn’t. Indie acknowledges her own idiocy while never attempting to abate it.
It would be dumb to get out of the car. Worse than dumb: idiotic. But I’ve come this far already, and I can’t imagine the grocery list of bad decisions I’ve made to this point being for nothing
This is her book, so naturally, she lives. If it weren’t, we’d be reading a tragic headline about GIRL FOUND DEAD IN DESERTED RAVINE IN HOLLYWOOD.

The Romance:
I’ve never wanted to be kissed so badly, so of course this would be the time Mom pops into my head—the Mom from the theater with the knife in her temple. The guilt from the car ride comes crashing over me like a tidal wave. How can I be doing this?
Because there's nothing more romantic than getting into a romantic moment while thinking about your dead mom!

Oh, here we go again. Another love triangle, and one of whom is my most reviled trope of all, the stalker. Oh yeah, but he has an excuse to stalk her. That makes it all better, right? That makes it fucking less creepy, right? That gives him the right to be a fucking asshole to her, right? How about fucking no?

Bishop is a fucking creep. He makes fun of her because she is a cheerleader. He mocks her scantily-clad cheerleader clothes and her cheers. He laughs at her stupidity. He thinks it’s just fucking fine to be condescending to a girl whom he is supposed to protect.
"I was starting to think you ride the short bus to school.”
And his words of romance are just legendary. Shakespeare's got nothing on this dude.
“Oh, come on,” Bishop says. “He’s obviously really stupid if he’d choose that chick over you.”
“Shut up,” I mumble.
“I mean it,” he says. “She’s so obvious. Blond hair, big tits. It’s really lame. Even if her tits are pretty nice.”
I groan.
“I’m kidding! They’re just mediocre.”
The stalker trope is not ok. A creepy, patronizing asshat is not ok as a love interest, and I am so fucking sick of this shit.

All you need is boys

The Lonely Hearts Club - Elizabeth Eulberg
"Oh, really?" Rosanna rolled her eyes dramatically, "How convenient that you decide to change the rules after you go on a date with the hottest guy in school! Maybe it shouldn't be called the Lonely Hearts Club -- maybe you should call it the Rules Will Change When Convenient For Penny Club!"
In the ancient Greek comedy, Lysistrata, fed up with all the warmongering, the women of Greece to withhold sex in a revolt to try to end the Peloponnesian War. If those intrepid women's mission to give up romance and love had lasted as short as the one waged by the main character within this book, the war might still be happening right now.

Because Penny Lane's vow to GIVE UP ALL THE BOYSES lasts all of 5 minutes. Yay. Bravo. Much endurance. Very patience. Such stoicism. Wow.


This book was terrible. I don't think Elizabeth Eulberg's YA comtemporary books are for me at all, because this is the third such I've read with disastrous consequences.

1. The heroine shows all the signs of being a contemporary Mary Sue including having a special name ("Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes"- The Beatles). She is beautiful without knowing it. ALL THE BOYSES FALL FOR HER. Etc.

2. The portrayal of teenaged females as completely shallow character whose lives revolve around that of their boyfriends and crushes

3. A theme of BOYS ARE NOT EVERYTHING that completely, utterly fails

4. An extremely juvenile way of viewing a group of people, in this case, boys, as EBIL EBIL EBIL creatures. It's so fucking 3rd grade.
He was a guy. A guy guy. As far as I was concerned, he probably had the dead bodies of small children and puppies hidden in his locker.
The Summary:
"Are you even kidding me? Every time you're around Ryan, you flirt up a storm."
Yeah, well, that was the old Penny. New Penny was done flirting. I'd be happy if I never had to speak to any guys for the rest of the year.
Penny Lane is done with boys. D. O. N. E. So she says. Her boyfriend Nate just dumped her because she won't put out.

And now that she's newly single, Penny is starting to see how HORRIBLE EVIL BAD boys are. I mean, they ruin everything they touch. They turn perfectly good, smart girls into mindless, devoted idiots, slave to their selfish EBIL EBIL EBIL needs. From the hipsters to the musicians to the jocks.
I couldn't help but wonder why it was that a guy could find two good girls to date at the same time, when we girls couldn't even find one decent guy.
Anything with a penis = trouble.

And it's not just the boys that are the problem, it's the girls, too. The girls at her school are so fucking shallow.
"The guys in the Elite Eight aren't the problem," Morgan said. "Those girls are so shallow and have zero -- and I mean zero -- things to discuss outside of their boyfriends."
So, fed up with boys, Penny decides to form the Lonely Hearts Club.
I would stop torturing myself by dating loser guys. I would enjoy the benefits of being single. I would, for once, focus on me. Junior year would be my year. It would be all about me, Penny Lane Bloom, sole member and founder of The Lonely Hearts Club.
Famous last words.

Word gets out, and the girls at school think this is a fab, fab (not to be confused with the Fab Four Beatles, with whom Penny's parents are obsessed) idea. Before she knows it, Penny is famous, and practically all the girls at her school are joining it. Giving up boys! Enjoying time with each other! What could be a better idea!

Well, for one, Penny's starting to notice her best friend Diane's ex, Ryan. Diane and Ryan are THE couple. A jock, a cheerleader. Super popular, they've been dating since 7th grade. That's a long fucking time in grade school years, and they've just broken up.

And now Penny's got her eyes on Ryan. So much for her vow of chastity, or, whatever. They go on a date. Or, well, not a date, because SHE'S NOT WEARING A FUCKING BLACK TOP
Rita and I had joked that guys always wore that on a first date while girls always wore jeans and a black top. Since I wasn't wearing a black top, this was clearly not a date.
Except Ryan sees it as a date.
"First date?"
I held my breath.
He smiled. "Yes, and what chance do you think I'd have with a second date if I made her pay?"
And then, well, maybe it's time to relax the rules.
"I started this club because I was sick of guys. But as the Club has grown, I've noticed that it's more about focusing on ourselves, and that we're really good at that. So now I think maybe our focus shouldn't be on never dating a guy, but on keeping true to your friends. if one of us wants to go --"
Are you fucking serious?

The Premise:
All members agree to stop dating men (or, if referring to the male population at McKinley High, "little boys") for the rest of thy high school existence.
Those be the rules of the Lonely Hearts Club. It's a pretty neat little club, because although it's not true for everyone, relationships tend to bring out the worst of us sometimes.
"And then when we do find someone we think is special, we forget about our friends." I tried not to look at Diane. "Or we change something about ourselves to please a guy instead of doing what makes us happy or what we know is right. Why do we do this? Why do we even bother?"
But this book vilifies relationships so much. It portrays all the girls within the book as desperate for boys, dependent on boys, and despite the fact that this book is about staying away from boys, it almost fails the Bechdel Test because almost ALL THE FUCKING CONVERSATIONS ARE ABOUT BOYS.

And it just fails in the premise. Not only does it has a very silly, juvenile attitude of Boys Have Cooties, the purpose of the book, that of making life more about girlfriends and yourself, just completely gets glossed over because Penny still cares so much about what guys think.
I spent more time than necessary hanging up the coats. the entire time I sensed Nate's eyes on my back. And I enjoyed it.
And not only that, the founder of the club completely goes against the club's rules.
I am on a date with Ryan Bauer.
My stomach did a somersault and I tried to catch my breath. Crap, I'm on a date with Ryan Bauer. I'm not supposed to be on a date! Not only that, I'd declared in front of the entire Lonely Hearts Club that I wasn't going on a date.
And NOT ONLY THAT, she ends up taking her little crush...way too far -_-
I blushed. I needed to take it down a notch before I started making decisions about our china pattern.
For fuck's sakes...

Penny Lane is Making Me Scratch My Eyes Out: No, that's not the lyrics to the actual Penny Lane song, but it should be, because that's how Penny Lane makes me feel. She is a fucking Mary Sue, y'all.

She is beautiful without knowing it. Her beautiful cheerleader friends are all jealous of her and she doesn't know it.
"I've always been a little bit jealous of you."
"Excuse me?" How could Miss Perfect, blond-hair, blue-eyes model Diane Monroe be jealous of me?
"Seriously, Penny --I mean, seriously! Look at you! Do you have any idea how hard I have to work to look like this? I mean, look at what I'm eating, for the love of carbs!" Diane motioned toward her garden salad with fat-free dressing and then looked over at my turkey sandwich with cheddar cheese and mayonnaise and potato chips.
Because she can eat eeeeeeeeverything. So many times in the book, her friends are all jealous of Penny Lane's body and how effortless it takes her to maintain it. All the other girls in the book are on a rabbit-food-starvation-camp diet except for her. And she has no idea.

She thinks she looks freakish but Penny's also got a great sense of style, without knowing it.
"AND you have the coolest style. I choose what I'm going to wear based on what magazines tell me. I look the same as everybody else. But you have your own funky style that nobody else could pull off You always have."
In other words, I was a freak because I preferred All Stars over stilettos.
Every girl in the book adores her with the exception of a few. They don't fucking mind if Penny date their ex-boyfriend. Fucking gag me please.
"You and Ryan are Diane's closest friends. She wants you both to be happy!"
Such generosity! So unbelievable!

All the boys fall in love with Penny. There's Ryan, of course, there's also ex-asshole Nate, and beloved asshole jock Todd. Naturally, she spurns them all. Except Ryan. RYYYYYYYYYYAN.

Overall: Cute premise. Utter failure.
The Lost - Sarah Beth Durst
I am lost.

But I couldn’t face the truth. That’s why I left, why I drove straight, why I left Mom alone to face the news by herself. What kind of person does that? A person who deserves this. A person who deserves to lose what she treasures. I deserve to be lost, to never see home again, to never swim in the ocean again.
This book reminds me of the song Hotel California.
"Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.'"
I’m sure there are people out there who have always known what they wanted to be in life. Who are where they want in life. I was never that person, and I’m not that person now.

I think it is a rare person who doesn’t feel lost at one point in their life, who goes through life with the kind of ease and confidence towards which one aspires. As a child, we think the future will be so great, that adults are all-knowing, that with age comes confidence, assurance, invincibility, the belief that we can take whatever life throws as us as long as it’s not, well, a 18-ton truck. Well, as we learn, life doesn’t work that way.

Life throws lemons at us. It throws shit at us. It throws errant family members, troublesome friends, a soul-sucking job at us. It throws old flames at us, or else it steadfastly denies us any sort of love at all. Life sucks. Most of us are just living day to day, finding our way seems to be a luxury, because most of us just don’t have the time for that Eat, Pray, Love bullshit where you get to fucking jet yourself off to Italy in a complacent, self-indulgent journey of self-reflection complete with wonderful food, luxury resorts, and hunky men.

No, many of us never find our way at all. Most of us stop trying. Some of us run away from our problems, I know I do, and that’s why this book resonates so much with me. No, it’s not the most exciting book in the world, and I fucking hated the inclusion of a child character (I hate children), but overall, this book is about being, well, Lost. It is not without hope, and that’s what ultimately matters, isn’t it?

Because what else do we live for, if not hope?

The Summary:
I have to believe that I’ll escape someday. But maybe there is no hope.
Maybe it’s over.
Maybe I’m in hell.
Or purgatory.
Maybe I’m dead.
Maybe I can never return.
Maybe this is it.
Lauren made a wrong turn. She made a mistake.

Lauren didn’t intend to get lost. She’s not usually this impulsive. She’s a 27-year old firmly entrenched in the corporate world. She wakes up. She goes to work. She wears a brown suit. She wears conservative makeup. Her wild days are over, Lauren is a grown-up. This is what grown-ups do.

Only Lauren woke up this morning and just drove off. She didn’t care about her job, more importantly, she just –ever so selfishly, for just one moment—want to forget about her beloved mom who is dying from cancer, for just one morning. Just one day.

That is how she found herself in the town of Lost.

Imagine an old, washed out Midwestern US town, a ghost town, a town full of dust, forgotten dreams, and lost wishes. A town that pretty much screams abandon hope, all ye who enters here because it is barren, abandoned, withered. Except that its unfortunate inhabitants will never leave. They physically can’t. A void surrounds the town. A red cloud of dust (and of DOOM!!!!!!!). Those who try to leave will circle around the road, only to end up where they started.

The inhabitants are strange.
Behind me, the man says, “You were lost; you are found.” As if they’re one, everyone outside—the kids, the woman planting dead flowers, the man in the dirty business suit—all turn to face the diner.
Inside the diner, everyone applauds.
From adults who stare at Lauren with knowing in their eyes, with hostility, to children who come straight out of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn.
Children, as ragged as those on the outskirts of town, are crouched in the alleys between the shops. Perched on top of and around Dumpsters, they watch me, their eyes bright and hard. One little girl in a princess dress sucks on her thumb. She has a dirty teddy bear tucked under her elbow and a knife in her other hand. She squeezes the handle as if it’s as comforting as a teddy bear.

I retreat away from the center of town, back toward the motel and the diner. I hear footsteps behind me.

The children are trailing after me.
They know what’s going on. They understand Lauren’s confusion, even if she’s in denial about it. And it is denial. Lauren’s mother is dying, she can’t be there for her, instead, she’s in this godforsaken place---trapped, for possibly forever? Talk about desperation. Talk about despair.

And then it gets worse. The townspeople turn against her. There is a man, The Missing Man, and the townspeople believe that she’s the one who drove him off. The only people to come to her aid right now is the knife-wielding child, Claire, and the handsome, enigmatic Peter. Peter, who finds The Lost.
I’m the Finder. The Finder and the Missing Man, two sides of a coin, not the same. I bring them in, and he sends them on. I can’t send you home. But I can keep you alive.” He holds out his hand. “If you trust me.”
Peter, who found her. Peter, who might give her a reason to stay. Peter, who might be the person to give her hope, who prevents her from falling into utter, complete despair.

And maybe, just maybe, Lauren will find that it’s not so bad to be Lost, after all.
“Okay, that’s enough.” Peter jumps to his feet. “I’ve watched you yearn to leave. Now I’m going to show you why you should want to stay.” He holds out his hand.

I take it.
I try to push the ache deep down like I always do and pretend it’s enough to paint walls and collect teacups.
This is going to sound stupid, but I see a lot of myself in Lauren. It helps immensely to be able to connect to the main character, and I suspect that it’s the reason why I found myself enjoying this book so much. Lauren has a dry, deadpan sense of humor. She doesn’t crack inappropriate jokes at stupid times, but neither does she take herself completely seriously. Yet she's special, somehow. We all are.
“You don’t seem to be an interesting person,” he says. “Lost your way emotionally, psychologically, and physically. Cut-and-dried, really. There must be more to you.”
She’s a serious person. She kind of has to be, with a mother like that, with no father. She’s an adult, doing adult things, and Lauren has mostly been satisfied with the status quo, and is rather terrified at being forced out of it in Lost. She just wants to go back home.

Lauren hurts a lot. She’s in a great deal of pain because her mother is dying, and she truly loves her mother. She made a mistake for one day, leaving her responsibilities, and she feels regret, although she never constantly wallows in despair. Lauren thinks: what next? How can I resolve this? How do I get out of this situation?

Her character resonates with me a lot. I, too, have a sick mom (although not of cancer). And if I may be so self-indulgent, I’m going to say that I’ve been going through life with a lot of doubts, too. I was one of those pretentious kids who carried around books on philosophy until I realized it did me no fucking good to dwell on the negative. Lauren’s character feels…familiar. That is why I love her.

The Romance:
He lands softly beside me, like a cat, bent knees. He rises smoothly. “I told you I find the kernel of hope. You lose hope and I can’t find you. I’ll always find you. But you have to exist to be found!”
Just right. The main love interest in this book is the inscrutable Peter, and he has a very Peter Pan feel, if Peter Pan had been a grown ass man who’s sexy as fuck. Like Peter Pan, this book’s Peter has a tendency to pop into your bedroom during odd times, even though I felt like he never reached the realm of stalkerhood. And I hate stalkers, so nyah!

He’s mysterious for a reason. We all love our dark leading men with secrets, and Peter is no different. He promises a Dark Haunted Past, and I love him all the more for it. Clichés be damned.
“You can’t save everyone. Consider that your next lesson. That man died before he came here.” He’s earnest in a way I’ve never seen him, eyes intent on mine. I imagine I see a flicker of...what? Sadness? All the childlike play is gone, and I see a man who looks as though he’s lost more than I can imagine.
He is a kind person, who appears initially gruff. He understands Lauren. He literally saves her life. He encourages her. He builds up her confidence. He does not make Lauren rely on him. If I could best compare the relationship between Peter and Lauren, I would say that they are similar to Valek and Yelena from Poison Study. Peter lets Lauren have her space.

He pulls her out of her despair, he makes her take action, and I felt like he’s Lauren’s perfect foil. As for Lauren, she feels attraction, but she isn't susceptible to insta-love. To her, Peter is a tool to get out of Lost.
I don’t care what he thinks of me, so long as he helps me get home. I don’t need to make friends, even with shockingly handsome and strangely fascinating men who might as well have walked right out of my subconscious.
But it's in him that she might find herself.

I can’t help myself, so I’ll make a pun. This is a great book to get Lost in.
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,'' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'"

Get Even - Gretchen McNeil

She thrust her right hand forward.
“I, Kitty Wei, do solemnly swear, no secrets—ever—shall leave this square.”
Margot was beside her in an instant, her right arm extended.
“I, Margot Mejia, do solemnly swear, no secrets—ever—shall leave this square.”
*rolls eyes*

Let's say you can buy a Dior purse for $50, in a spectacular find on clearance. Let's say you can also buy a knockoff Dior purse for $50. If they're pretty much the same value, wouldn't you want to get something that's more...authentic? Better? Designed and proven to please? That's the case of this book. There's no point in reading it when there is a superior version in Burn for Burn.

The trouble with Get Even is that it's a silly, weak, watered down version of the most excellent Burn for Burn. Furthermore, it's more unrealistic, in the amateur vigilante sort of way. If you just want to be entertained, sure, go for it. If you want a more realistic scenario actually involving revenge...go for the real thing. This is inferior to Burn for Burn in every way.

Furthermore...the premise is rather silly and contradictory. There is a group formed by the four girls in the book. They call themselves "Get Even" (as in...don't get mad...). Their mission is to publicly shame and humiliate bullies...and while nobody likes assholes, doesn't it just bring the anti-bullying group down to the same level of the bullies by humiliating them? I could compare it against the death penalty (and get a lot of flak for it, I'm sure) by saying it's like putting someone to death for murdering someone. I just don't like that sort of message. I feel that Burn for Burn was less blatantly hypocritical in that sense than this book ended up being.


The characters are similar, too...

The Summary: You have four "friends" each as different as can be.

The overweight, socially ostracized, intellectually brilliant Margot.
Margot understood the degradation, the knowledge that every set of eyes was on him, judging his overweight body, murmuring “fat ass” under their breath while they tacitly assumed the obesity was his fault.
The popular, beautiful Asian girl Kitty (I guess I should appreciate the diversity, but this still feels like Burn for Burn).
“Now, to introduce a short video presentation by the leadership class, your student body vice president, Kitty Wei.”
Politician's daughter, hipster wannabe Bree, who doesn't give a shit about her parents' political ambitions.
John might fantasize about how cool it would be to have a superstar politician and heir apparent to the governor’s mansion for a dad, but for Bree, the reality had been sixteen years of being reminded that she was the black sheep of the family who didn’t conform, didn’t appreciate her advantages, didn’t understand how important it was to maintain her dad’s carefully groomed image as the perfect family man.
Beautiful aspiring actress Olivia, with a carefully groomed outer appearance and a secret shame.
Olivia crouched next to her bed and groped around underneath until her hand rested on a large Tupperware container wedged behind some old shoe boxes.
The smell hit her the moment she cracked the seal on the rubber lid. Sugar.
So. Four girls who hang out in completely separate circles. What could they possibly have in common? Well, for one thing...they are the four members of DGM.

DGM is the bane of their school, Bishop DuMaine. They're well-known for pulling pranks, particularly on "bullies" who deserve it. Like a coach with a reputation for humiliating his students. His revenge from DGM is complete and utter public humiliation. Like showing a video clip of his audition for a reality TV show in front of the entire school body.
“I’m Richard Creed,” he said, his best shit-eating grin plastered across his face. “But you can call me Dick.” He wore a blue wifebeater two sizes too small, and his bulky arms looked as if he’d oiled them up with an entire tub of Crisco. He jabbed a thumb at his chest. “And I’m here”—he paused and pointed to the camera—“to give you three reasons why I’m going to win America’s Next Fitness Model.”
DGM is considered to be such a threat to public safety that there's even a school investigation squad established of handsome young hunks, called Maine Men designated to uncover the culprits of DGM.

Well, all's well and dandy until someone gets murdered, and DGM gets the blame for it.
“‘The apparent murder weapon was found at the scene,’” Margot continued. “‘Along with a moniker for a local organization. No suspects are being held at this time. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call detectives at the Menlo Park Police Department.’”
Margot swung around in her chair. “The moniker for a local organization? That would be us.”
Will the members of DGM be able to get over the silly love triangles omg I'm dating my DGM member's ex-boyfriend omg insta-love omg my best friend might be in love with me drama to coordinate their super secret hand signals in order to find out the whodunnit and get the attention off themselves?

All eyes drifted to Kitty. She’d know what to do.
Without hesitation, Kitty drew her hand across her chest, from her left shoulder to her right, giving the signal, then dropped her arm to her side and strode away.
The Setting:
“Ronny’s a predator,” she said. “And we can stop him from hurting someone else.” Kitty thrust out her chin. “Don’t get mad!”
All three girls answered in strong, solid unison.
“Get even!”
The secret super special secret society here just feels fucking silly.Instead of a more serious premise, we have pretty much a club with special hand signals and chants. What the fuck, man?

Here's the difference: whereas in Burn for Burn, we get to watch the characters slowly come together in a quest for revenge...Get Even already comes pre-formed, and fuck if it isn't silly as hell. I mean, they have their own special group hand-shake power-chant. They have ALL met before the book. Their secret group of friends (who don't appear anywhere near each other on the high school social ladder) have already pre-formed, and as such, we don't get any of the interesting dynamics that develop between them initially. This book feels shallow and silly and unrealistic.

Burn for Burn worked better. We got to know the characters. We got to really FEEL their need for vengeance, that was why the premise felt realistic. That was why the premise worked. That was why I got fired up for revenge.

This book is not about revenge as much as it is about vigilantism and I can't say I support that. Yes, it sucks that there are bullies in school, and yeah, it sucks if you're a victim, but I am a firm believer that karma works, and I am a firm believer that teachers and authority figures actually know their shit, and yeah, high school sucks. Trust me, I remember it well, but this, too, shall pass, and in my opinion, taking it out on the bullies, while it feels good, takes us down to the level of the bullies themselves.

So that is why I can't fully support nor do I found the premise in this book enjoyable and believable. It just doesn't work for me.

The connection between the girls are hardly there.
“Are you sure,” Bree said drily, “you like your face that way? Because I could rearrange it for you.”
They're just people who happened to join together for the same cause. There is no dynamic, no compelling backstory, no true sense of an alliance, above all, no true friendship.
But when it came time to choose an outreach program for the project, all four of them picked the same one—an antibullying awareness group.
Womp, womp, womp. It's a dull letdown, and a dull premise that never meshed. I never got a sense of satisfaction from the book, in whatever justifiable (or not) acts of revenge perpetrated within this book.

The Characters: They feel clichéd. Yeah, I know it's a high school book. I know that it should be clichéd to a point, but there's a way of writing characters to make characters feel...real, and this book didn't do it for me. The main characters don't feel real. The people at the school don't feel real. They're more or less standardized high school tropes, like the mean girl Queen Bee.
A commotion rippled through the gathering crowd, as Amber Stevens pushed her way to the front, smiling gleefully in Theo’s direction. “What a pig!”
“Great,” Mika muttered. “The Supreme Bitch has arrived.”
To the evil headmaster, to a druggie whose nickname is...Ed the Head.
“Ladies!” A gleam of braces and a whiff of strong and probably needless aftershave were the only harbingers of the skinny sophomore who spun onto the bench between Peanut and Jezebel.
“Hey, Ed.” Olivia couldn’t keep her eyes from lingering on his bulging backpack as she wondered what contraband he was peddling today.
A peddler of everything from homework to junk food to running a gambling ring. The jocks are overly jock-y. The cliques are severely defined. There's nothing that feels realistic about this book.

I mean, sure, you could read this book. It's entertaining enough if you don't think about it, but why bother, when Burn for Burn is so much better?

All quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in the final edition.