Mary’s entire world is a tiny village surrounded by tall fences. Outside the fences is the Forest of Hands and Teeth, filled with the Unconsecrated. Zombies. Anyone they bite becomes one of them, and fear of the Unconsecrated has ruled the world since the Return. As far as the villagers know, they are the last living people in the world. The rules of their tiny society are strict, and above all, they are ruled by the Sisters, a religious order that controls every aspect of life, and hides what could be vital knowledge from the people. Their society is about order and commitment and rules, but Mary dreams of more. She dreams of the wider world, and of love, which comes second to duty and commitment in the village (if it is to be considered at all). She dreams of seeing the ocean, just like the picture her mother used to show her, a place without the Unconsecrated that reaches as far as the eye can see. 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a beautifully written book. From page one, I was simultaneously marveling at the gorgeous, eloquent words, wanting to slow down and savor them, and holding my breath, racing to find out what would happen, in the end, to Mary, the strong, determined heroine. My one complaint with this book is that Mary is so real, so believably conflicted and wonderful, that the other characters were eclipsed and felt largely like paper dolls characterized only by their interactions with Mary; however, this is an acceptable consequence of the consuming first-person narration. 

It is dark and captivating and ultimately hopeful (and devastating). It’s about a lot more than zombies; to me, this felt first and foremost like a survival story, but it wasn’t just about the actual survival of the characters, but also the survival of Mary’s soul. The events that set off the story have Mary deeply questioning her faith and her world and her dreams, and the struggle to hold on to her dreams is as evident and important as the struggle not to be lost to the Unconsecrated. This is very much a complex, multilayered story, and honestly, I think I’d need to read it at least once more (slowly) in order to fully soak it all in. 

There is a romance here, too, but as two corners of this love triangle are secondary characters, they are not entirely real, and while Mary’s perspective on the romance was interesting, I didn’t feel like this book really was much of a romance. The cover blurbs that say it is are a bit misleading.

The ending was open, and I hope there’s more to come. Whatever Carrie Ryan next writes will be wonderful, as the lyrical writing style that makes her debut shine would make even the most trite story into lovely reading. I still need to reread this book at some point in the future to take it all in, but I’ll say right now that it’s amazing. Also, I am going to have nightmares about the Unconsecrated. 

Five out of six windows:









Wondrous Strange is about Kelley, an aspiring actress in New York City, who, like most people, doesn’t really believe in faeries offstage. She’s an understudy in an off-Broadway (way off Broadway) production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and that’s as close to the supernatural as she comes, until a horse (that isn’t really a horse) who eats frosted cereal (and nothing else) takes up residence in her bathtub, and she has one too many encounters with a weird stranger.

The weird stranger, Sonny, is really just trying to protect Kelley, but she doesn’t know that. He notices that something about her is different–that she is not exactly human. He guards the Samhain gate in Central Park. That gate connects the dangerous, enchanted faerie realm with the human one, and the consequences if certain faeries were to get through could be disastrous. 

Faeries, as you may have noticed, are huge right now. And, while this was an enjoyable read, honestly, there are a lot of better faerie stories; this one is largely unremarkable. It’s readable, sure, and enjoyable enough, but…meh. The characters weren’t particularly well-drawn, and their relationships seemed unrealistic and weirdly paced. I didn’t really believe a lot of their interactions, and the romance seemed forced and weird. The plot and faerie mythology (including the Shakespeare) used here were interesting, but not particularly original. I loved the New York aspect, though! Overall, this book can best be described as fine. Mediocre. It was a good read, though noticeably flawed, but it probably won’t stick with you and you won’t feel compelled to read it again or anything. If there’s a sequel, I’ll read it if it comes my way, but probably won’t go out of my way to get a copy. Three out of six windows. 







A Kiss In Time is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. In this story, when the princess of Euphrasia pricks her finger on a spindle and the entire country falls asleep, it also disappears off the map. No one knows it’s there, until a couple of idiot teenage boys (escapees from an educational trip) hack through the thickets and find it. One of them, Jack, decides to kiss Talia when he finds her asleep on the floor. Which I personally find really creepy (Edward Cullen level creepy) even if it’s supposed to be fairy tale love or something. Remember, Edward watches Bella sleep because they’re meant to be; destiny (real or imagined) does not make this any less creepy.

Anyway. Talia wakes up, and so does everyone else in Euphrasia. They discover they’ve been asleep for three centuries, and the modern world is not what they’re used to. Jack and Talia tell the story, alternating chapters, as this Sleeping Beauty leaves the only place and time she’s ever known, still looking over her shoulder for the witch who cursed her centuries ago. 

This is a fun twist on fairy-tale retelling, and I do love fairy tales. I like the idea, but the story itself isn’t really fast-paced, and it took me awhile to get through; it does not beg to be read. Despite the fact that it’s easy to put down, though, it’s also easy to pick back up, and overall an enjoyable reading experience. 

The characters weren’t extremely well-drawn, but I did appreciate that they change realistically based on their new experiences; at first, Jack is an idiot and Talia is a spoiled brat, but they manage to move beyond that. The changes, however, are told more than they are shown. It’s sad, but I was more intrigued by some minor characters (particularly Meryl, Jack’s sister) than I was by the (kind of boring) main characters. 

The alternating narration was not particularly necessary. Neither voice was particularly distinct or developed; it was more like the same person was changing point of view than two different people were changing the story. It’s like a picture drawn by the same person from two different angles, rather than the two different interpretations of a scene drawn by different artists, like good alternating narration should be. The writing as a whole is fine, but not exceptional.

[SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING]Jack and Talia’s happy-ever-after is too easy. The great quest that all fairy tales come with is relatively simple, but they act like it’s a hard-won battle against evil, when really it’s all kind of a misunderstanding.[END SPOILERS]

As a whole, however, this book was, while unremarkable, not terrible. I don’t finish terrible books. For fans of fairy tale retellings, it will do. However, I expected more of Alex Flinn, because she is a talented writer, and could do much better than this. Two and a half out of six windows.






Bloomability has been one of my favorite books ever since I picked up first, years ago. It’s about Dinnie, a girl who’s always moved from place to place with her box of things, following her father from opportunity to opportunity. She’s quiet and introspective and adaptable, but when her aunt and uncle take her with them from her home, from the only family she knows, she doesn’t want to be adaptable. She wants to be with her parents and her sister, Stella, and Stella’s new baby, and her brother, Crick. This opportunity is a lot more than she realizes when she first leaves home, though. Her aunt and uncle are moving to Lugano, Switzerland, to work at an American boarding school. The school is American, but its students come from all kinds of backgrounds and from all over the world. Though she’s reluctant at first, this is an experience that changes Dinnie in amazing ways she couldn’t have imagined before.

This book inspired me. At first, it just inspired me to wish I could go to an international boarding school in Lugano, Switzerland, but after my parents told me I was being ridiculous, it didn’t stop being an inspiration. Bloomability inspires me to seek out new experiences, new places, new people, and to take advantage of opportunities. It’s also the reason I started looking to go to college overseas. I actually applied to a school in Lugano, and wanted more than anything to go there, but I can’t afford it. I might be going to school in Germany, though (my decision is still not made). I want to experience new parts of the world, and meet people from even more different places, and see it all from somewhere new, an idea whose seed was planted by reading this book. It’s one of the books that has most affected my life.

More than my personal love for this book, though, rereading it with a more critical eye was something I thought might be disappointing. It wasn’t; instead, I was only now able to realize how truly amazing this novel is. I want to read it again! Sharon Creech writes gorgeous, gorgeous prose, and creates fully realized, very interesting characters, and tells a story that really means something. Dinnie’s voice is distinct and honest and authentic and a pleasure to read. She recreates the setting of Lugano so vividly that I wanted to move there! It’s not just the characters I love; the way they relate to each other is also very well done. I also love the descriptions of Dinnie’s dreams, and, now, seeing how they connect to her life (connections I wasn’t always able to make reading it years ago). Her window signs, too! And Guthrie, his love of life is contagious even to the reader. 

I could go on, describing everything I love about this book, but then this review would be as long as the book itself, because I love everything. This book works on so many levels, too; when I was ten, it was enjoyable and inspiring and made me want to see the world. Now, it’s still those things but it’s also brilliant and meaningful and beautiful in ways I couldn’t recognize then. There’s so much more to this book than a story about a girl who goes to boarding school in Switzerland. I really don’t know how I can communicate how much you need to read this book effectively, but, trust me, you do. Bloomability is hopeful, gorgeous, inspiring, and, for me, life-changing.

Six out of six windows and a heart:









Along for the Ride is classic Sarah Dessen, which means, of course, that it’s awesome. The novel follows Auden, an insomniac overachiever who doesn’t really know how to let loose, live, have fun, and connect with people, through the summer after she graduates high school and before she starts her freshman year at a prestigious university. 

Rather than staying at home with her overbearing, intellectual, egotistical mother, she decides to visit her father, his new wife, and her new sister in the beach town of Colby. When she packs, she fills an entire suitcase with her textbooks to get an early start on college reading–that’s the kind of girl Auden is, but that’s not who she’ll be at the end of the summer.

In Colby, Auden finds her father too immersed in his novel to care about his new family. She finds herself wandering the town at night, first alone, and then with Eli, a local guy who also doesn’t sleep at night. Eli is dealing with his past, and helping Auden rediscover hers and do all the things she missed out on for the past eighteen years, when her parents expected her to be a miniature adult rather than a child or teenager. She also, after a rough start in which she hooks up with a guy who turns out to be the recent ex-boyfriend of a girl who works in  her stepmother Heidi’s store, finds herself some surprising new friends, once she learns to stop judging people at first glance, something she learned from her holier-than-thou mother. A lot happens in Auden’s summer of transformation, and it all comes down to connecting with people and living life. 

As I read, I kept finding similarities in this book to my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, This Lullaby. Both books, for example, involve older brothers transformed by their girlfriends and heroines who have had to grow up too fast and whose worldviews are changed by new guys. There was more, but I don’t remember right now, and it’s not important. Anyway, it was inevitable that I would be comparing the two books, with those similarities that stuck out to me (also I reread the first book just before reading this new one) and I’m sad to say that I didn’t find Along for the Ride to be quite as strong. The characters weren’t quite as real, the voice not quite as distinct, the world not quite as vivid. Of course, not the best of Sarah Dessen is still completely excellent. I loved this book, and was not fond of putting it down. The writing drew me into Auden’s world, into the town of Colby and kept me fascinated with the lives of its residents. Auden, and all the characters, were excellently well-drawn, with people being Sarah Dessen’s real strength in all her books. She makes them real, and she always focuses a lot on the relationships between them (all kinds–friends, family, romance, it’s all here). This book is no exception; everything in that regard was very well-done. This novel does not disappoint; it is typically wonderful Sarah Dessen. 

Four and a half out of six windows:






Going Too Far is a lot more serious and intense than what I was expecting from Jennifer Echols, who has previously written romantic comedies. They’re awesome, but very different from this latest book, and she’s pulled it off beautifully; this is a fantastic novel about love, loss, life, and moving on. It starts when Meg and some friends head out onto a railroad bridge where it’s rumored that some kids died a few years ago, and are caught by a cop, who, it turns out, regularly patrols the bridge. He’s connected to it somehow, and John After, despite being a promising student when he graduated high school last year, can’t tear himself away from that bridge long enough to go to college twenty miles down the highway.

Meg, on the other hand, can’t wait to get out of their tiny Alabama town, go to college in Birmingham, and then see the world. She was excited about a spring break trip to Miami, the first time she’ll see the ocean, but that comes crashing down when she hears her punishment for trespassing onto the bridge: she’ll be riding with Officer John After on his night shift for a week, learning something about the law.

When their lives collide for a week, Meg and John will both have to face their pasts, complete with hard questions and even harder answers. 

I absolutely loved this book. Some books are solidly good, some are really great, and a very few are take-your-breath-away, can’t stop reading amazing, and for me, Going Too Far falls into the latter category. It’s powerful without being over-the-top, and reveals universal truths while still being a very personal story. The past haunts us all, and this book addresses wonderfully the hold that it has over us. It’s also a very good look into the complicated, real relationships between people, and the power of love (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s not). 

Speaking of the people, well, wow. Everyone in this book is believable, complex, and layered. The characters and their relationships are complicated, as people are. Meg’s voice, too, stands out as authentic and very fitting to the character. Everything feels real and moving and intense, but (and this is key), without ever feeling over-the-top, lifetime-movie-esque melodramatic, when it could have so easily strayed into that territory. I really, really can’t stress enough how much you all need to read this book. It’ll be out in March, but go ahead and preorder this one. You’ll devour it, you’ll love it, and it will stick with you.

Five and 1/2 windows out of six and a heart:








Maybelline, called Maybe, is a reluctant resident of Kissimmee, Florida, and the daughter of former beauty queen Chessy Chestnut, who now owns the hottest charm school in town, churning out pageant winners left and right. Chessy has been married multiple times, and her current sleazy fiance is the last straw for Maybe. When Chessy takes his side over her daughter’s, Maybe convinced her friend Ted to come along when she hitches a ride with their other friend, Hollywood, to Los Angeles. Hollywood (only he prefers to be called Daniel now) will be going to film school at USC, hopefully on his way from filming Ted and Maybe every chance he gets to directing blockbusters. Tagging along seems perfect to Maybe, because the only thing she knows about her father is that he’s a Hollywood big shot, and she’s determined to find him in LA. Ted and Maybe don’t exactly know what they’re going to do to support themselves in California, though, and they’d better figure it out fast. LA will be a surprise for all of them, and absolutely transform Maybe in ways she can’t imagine. 

Absolutely Maybe is a charming novel full of quirky, endearing, complex, and completely believable characters. I particularly loved Ted, and Maybe is awesome in her own way, too. Lisa Yee manages to write a funny, lighthearted book, with some definite laugh-out-loud hilarious moments, while simultaneously managing to deal with some big issues. Maybe has to figure out her family, her friends, and most of all, herself. This is an intricately crafted portrait of the relationships between people that really rings true. Every page is enjoyable, and Lisa Yee’s first YA novel does not disappoint. It’s a very readable, sweet story that will leave you with fuzzy feelings and some new favorite characters. 

Edited to add something I only thought of later: This book is particularly awesome because it is a contemporary coming-of-age story that does not have a significant romance. There are plenty of close relationships between friends and family, but Maybe doesn’t feel like she needs to be with a guy to be happy. Unusually awesome, no?

Four out of six windows:






Astrid has always thought her mother was crazy. Lillith believes in unicorns (though she says they’ve been extinct for over a century), and she believes that an ancestress of theirs killed the last one, because Lillith’s unicorns aren’t tame, fluffly creatures from storybooks, but rather, bloodthirsty, man-eating beasts.. She thinks that they come from a family of unicorn hunters–can you see why most people think she’s crazy? 

When Astrid’s boyfriend is attacked by a unicorn, however, she’s forced to admit that perhaps ber mother isn’t as crazy as everyone else thinks. And apparently, despite her desire to just be a normal sixteen-year-old girl and not kill things, it’s Astrid’s destiny, as a virgin descendent of Alexander the Great, to hunt them down. 

To fulfull this destiny, at her mother’s command, she joins the other unicorn hunters in Rome, at the falling-apart cloisters that were the training grounds for hunters hundreds of years ago. In Rome, she encounters a number of unforeseeable mysteries and problems, as if she doesn’t already have enough to deal with, being a reluctant unicorn hunter and all. 

Rampant is quite a departure from Diana Peterfreund‘s other books, and I love it. She’s a great writer, and, just as with her other books, I had a difficult time putting this one down! Astrid is a seriously awesome heroine, and the other characters are well-drawn and complex as well. Even though the book was obviously focused on Astrid, I think that we got a nice feel for the personalities of the other characters, too, which is great; I hate flat background characters.

The setting had enough of a presence to where it felt like they were in Rome rather than suburban Connecticut or something, which is definitely something I look for, loving settings as I do (would have enjoyed more of it, but this is not a travel book on Rome). I liked how the history of the city was woven into it as well.

This book also addressed what I was worried about: I am a huge animal lover, and even if they’re killing people, I have difficulty with the idea that we should wipe out a whole species. Luckily, some of the characters felt the same way, and it was discussed (though not resolved). There was also the moral conflict of killing the unicorns when a unicorn of a tamer breed was living at the cloisters, and was in fact quite cuddly; it was difficult to think about killing them all when the unicorn we saw all the time was like a puppy (around the hunters, not other humans), and I’m glad that this wasn’t taken too lightly in the novel.

The story itself has a fantastically unique premise (I challenge you to point me to another book about a girl who hunts killer unicorns, seriously), combined with engaging writing and wonderful characters, which all adds up to a book that you really should not miss. Even better? There are some unresolved threads to the story, enough to hint at a sequel (but not enough to make me angry and say this isn’t a complete story on its own), which I can’t wait for (even though this book isn’t out for several months!). 

Five out of six windows:






Also read my reviews of Diana’s other books: Secret Society Girl, Under the Rose, and Rites of Spring (Break).


Parker Fadley used to be perfect. Perfect looks, perfect boyfriend, perfect grades, perfect life. She was head cheerleader, she was popular, and she had it all. And then, something changed. Parker showed up to school drunk, failed her classes, broke up with her boyfriend, quit the cheerleading squad, neglected her appearance, alienated her friends–anything she could do to ruin her life, she did. She became self-destructive and hated and is now in danger of not graduating. 

People think it’s a plea for attention, but all Parker wants is to be left alone. With the way she’s acting, though, that’s impossible. People are demanding the truth, but Parker will never give it to them. Chris, her ex-boyfriend, won’t leave her alone, and neither will the new kid, Jake. She has weekly meetings with the guidance counselor. Her parents are afraid she’ll hurt herself irreversibly. She’s not the Parker anyone knew a year ago, and her deepest secret, the one everyone’s trying to pry out of her, is the why. But she can never, ever tell the truth about what happened. 

Cracked Up To Be is an excellent and intense debut novel. Courtney Summers mixes the present with mysterious flashbacks to the past, to the events leading up to Parker’s transformation, in order to keep the suspense, and it’s intriguing, but I wasn’t reading to find out what happened as much as I was reading for Parker. The author’s characterization of Parker is spot-on; her actions don’t always make sense, but that’s why she does make sense. It’s part of what makes her real. Real people don’t act like characters whose places in a story are neat and follow a consistent chain of events that makes logical sense. And characters who don’t make logical sense seem unrealistic. But in this novel, Courtney Summers is able to balance that perfectly with Parker, who makes sense even when she doesn’t. Parker’s voice, too, is fantastically well-done. It’s distinct and fits her personality well. You can see Parker’s downward spiral, her uncaring attitude and the way she lies to herself, and even as so many awful things happen, you’ll laugh at Parker’s wry, witty observations. You’ll laugh, and then you’ll want to cry, because this book is heartbreaking.  

Courtney Summers’ sharp, engaging prose combined with a dark, haunting story and excellent characterization makes this book one that you really shouldn’t miss. To me, it was character-driven but with a plot I couldn’t tear myself away from, too–the best kind of book. This is a captivating and powerful novel that is difficult to put down. 

Five out of six windows:






Beautiful Americans, Lucy Silag’s debut novel, follows four American exchange students through their first semester in Paris, alternating chapters from each of their points of view. Alex is a spoiled, self-centered, and shallow New Yorker who wants to be sophisticated and French and get a boyfriend in Paris, too. She’s also a complete bitch to most people most of the time. PJ is a quiet girl from Vermont who is in Paris to run from problems at home. She’s having a little trouble enjoying Paris because she’s still tied up with all the problems at home, and her host family has ulterior motives and are not exactly stellar people. Zack is a nice guy who’s relieved to be away from his conservative hometown in Tennessee, because he’s not particularly Christian and also not particularly straight (but not out to the world yet). He’d also like to find romance in Paris! Olivia is a dancer from San Diego who has come to Paris to improve her chances at a ballet scholarship from UCLA, where her boyfriend, Vince, goes to school. 

That’s each of them in a nutshell. They are fairly well-developed and interesting characters, and I enjoyed reading about their time in Paris, but their voices were indistinct. I kept having to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was narrating, and that’s not something that I like to do. I was also excited to read a book set in an amazing city, but Paris is most often a  barely-noticeable backdrop to this story, something else that disappointed me. I was hoping to see Paris come alive; but, no. Or, at least, very rarely. This book also wasn’t as complete as I’d have preferred; it uses a bit of a cliffhanger to make the reader want more, and I prefer books that don’t have to use cliffhangers to keep the reader interested in the next book in the series.

From all I’ve said, you’d think I didn’t like the book, but that wasn’t the case; I really enjoyed it. I was caught up in the engaging stories and I can’t wait to read the second book in the series, and I’m hoping that the writing will improve (particularly, as I said, the characters’ voices). I liked that all the characters seemed to get equal time; sometimes, books focusing on multiple characters make me feel like some characters didn’t need to be main characters or like I’m not getting enough from certain characters, but I didn’t feel that way here (though I, like everyone else will, have my favorites of the four). I enjoyed all four of them, though. But maybe I would have liked it better if there were different books focusing on the different characters rather than different chapters; some things in all sections felt glossed-over or rushed. 

This is an entertaining (if not particularly memorable) novel, and I’ll be looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Three out of five windows:






Anke is like furniture at home. She’s always there, but almost always ignored. Her father abuses her older siblings, but he doesn’t even notice Anke. She’s invisible, and her mother and brother and sister just stand by and let the violence and other kinds of abuse take over their lives. Anke knows she doesn’t want to be abused, but she also doesn’t want to be invisible, and in a twisted way, she feels like her father doesn’t love her as much as her brother and sister. It wasn’t always like this; Anke has happy memories of her family, too, from long ago. 

When Anke starts high school, she also joins the volleyball team and learns to come out of her shell. She learns to talk to people , to shout, and to take control of her life on and off the court. Finally, she doesn’t know if she can maintain her silence anymore–but she’s afraid. Confronting the situation in any way could tear her family apart, but what can she do? 

Because I Am Furniture is a gritty, lyrical, and thought-provoking verse novel about one girl’s struggle with abuse–or, rather, with not being abused. This is a quiet but intense book on a difficult subject, and though the issue is the focus of this book, it felt real enough not to be a complete issue book. It felt like a story about Anke as much as a story about her abusive father, and it wasn’t the in-your-face issue book I was afraid of. 

Anke is a realistic, sympathetic heroine who feels invisible, feels like it should be a blessing, but also feels unwanted; it’s complicated and sounds a little crazy, but Thalia Chaltas makes Anya’s feelings and her silence make sense. The author does very well at conveying a real feel for the personalities of all the characters, and the intense emotion of this heartbreaking (but ultimately hopeful) story, in a few well-chosen words. 

This is a powerful, observant, and harshly honest debut. It’s shocking in some ways, but it doesn’t feel like it was written at all for its shock value; it’s about truth and honesty (and I get the feeling it might have been based on the author’s own experience–the dedication is to her mother, sister, and brother, and says “I write/now/what I could not do/then.” But I could be wrong about this) and figuring out what to do in a very difficult situation. 

After such a dark and painfully real book, the ending was a little too neat and happy for my taste. Although something too far on the other end of the spectrum would have been unnecessarily depressing and melodramatic; I would have preferred something that was more of a balance between a happy-ever-after and an ending in which everyone dies (I hate those). 

Overall, my issues with this book were minor, and it was an intense and compelling read. Thalia Chaltas’s excellent use of verse and characterization were impressive, and I look forward to her next novel.

(I would also like to note that I am blaming Thalia Chaltas for my Statistics grade; I spent the entire class period this morning reading her book from cover to cover.)

Five out of six windows:






When Laurel, who has never been quite a typical teenage girl, moves to a new town and starts public school (she’d previously been homeschooled by her hippie parents), one would think that meant her life was becoming pretty ordinary. While she misses being outdoors all the time, she’s getting along pretty well at her new school, and she’s made a couple of friends. All seems to be going okay, but that’s not exactly the truth; when Laurel’s family moved, her life was unknowingly taking a turn for the not-so-normal.

This becomes apparent when Laurel sprouts a giant wing-like flower on her back. When Laurel was three, she was left on her parents’ doorstep in a basket, with no knowledge of where she came from–but no one could have predicted this. It turns out she’s not even human; she’s a faerie. 

She was sent to her parents to guard the land that they lived on, land that holds something very important to the faeries, but when they got an offer to buy the land and her family moved to a new town, things suddenly became dangerous for the faeries. The gate to Avalon that they have protected for ages is now threatened, and Laurel must help save the faeries’ secret, protect her family, sort out her confused feelings for a classmate, David, and a faerie, Tamani, and figure out her own identity and place in both worlds. 

Wings is a lovely debut novel. Aprilynne Pike is a wonderful writer, world builder, and storyteller; it grabbed me immediately, and I was completely absorbed in this story and unable to do much of anything else until I finished it. 

The characters seemed so real, particularly Laurel’s friend Chelsea; I probably would have been quite annoyed with her if I’d had to hang out with her in real life (though I suspect I’m similarly tactless sometimes; it’s something I’m working on), I loved Aprilynne Pike’s ability to write a character who was so believable. David, however, was a little inconsistent sometimes, and while I liked him, he was sometimes elusive; I still don’t feel like I got a real feel for who he was. I can use some adjectives that describe him, but I still don’t have a full grasp of his personality. That’s the best way I can put it. As for Laurel, I liked her, too, but I also felt like she made some weird decisions and missed the obvious sometimes! For example, SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER STOP READING SPOILER AVERT EYES when her father was sick, and she had found out that her faerie power was making potions, it never ocurred to her to try to make a potion to cure him. Even if it probably wouldn’t have worked, I can’t believe she never thought of it. END SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER. I also thought it was a little surprising that, despite her close relationship with her parents, she didn’t tell them about the growth on her back, especially when it was just a big lump and she thought it might be cancer or something. However, regardless of how I felt about Laurel’s stupidity sometimes, it did not significantly detract from the excellency of the novel. 

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the story and the writing (and the cover!), and I was thrilled to read on Aprilynne Pike’s website that this is one of four books about Laurel, because even though this story felt complete on its own, I still didn’t feel like Laurel’s story was over. 

Five out of six windows:






In this promising debut novel, Deirdre is a gifted musician who throws up before every performance. When Luke Dillon steps out of her dreams and into a girls’ bathroom to hold back her hair, she has no way of knowing the danger she’s in, or the tangled, mysterious faerie world that she’s now a part of, willing or not. 

Deirdre is gifted at more than music, though. For one thing, she’s a cloverhand, someone who can see faeries (though that is not a gift anyone would want to have if they knew what it meant). That has brought Luke into her life, though, and she’s falling for him–and then she finds out that he’s the cruel faerie Queen’s captive assasain, bound to her for the past thousand years by his soul that she keeps in a cage. 

This revelation comes with many others as she tries to discover the truth about herself, and save the people that she cares about–not just Luke, because she has a human life, too; she cares about her family and her best friend, James, and the faeries’ interest in her puts them in danger. Deirdre is racing to save herself and the people she loves, and, in a race against homicidal maniac evil faeries, the odds don’t seem to be stacked in her favor. 

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception is a book that, once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. It fueled my bad habit of reading during class. I loved it. It was lovely and complex and complete, and you know I’m a sucker for a story with a sequel that doesn’t feel like it needs to be a story with a sequel. Sequel-feeling-sequels are my pet peeve, and I was glad to see that Maggie Stiefvater didn’t fall into that trap. I’m thrilled that there’s going to be a sequel, too; it’ll be called Ballad, and while the story felt complete, there were also things that I would have liked to see explored more thoroughly–I’m hoping these things (it would be a  little spoilery to go into detail) will be addressed. 

I loved the characters here; Deirdre was a sympathetic and realistic heroine. She also grew as a person, becoming a little more aware of other people and the rest of the world, which was good. I loved her best friend, James, and her Granna, in particular; they were awesome. I was also highly entertained by Sara, Deirdre’s coworker at Dave’s Ice. The characterization was wonderful for the most part, though Deirdre’s other family members (parents and aunt) could have been better developed. 

Just as in real life, faeries were not the only issue in Deirdre’s life. She also dealt with her relationships with her mother and best friend, and her struggles as a performer.  On the faerie side of her life, she also handled her confusion about her budding romance with Luke. It added a nice touch of realism to the story, because in real life people’s entire lives are not generally consumed by one thing the way they sometimes are in fiction, but I would also have liked to see a little more depth to some of the other storylines (besides the faeries and the romance). I actually think this book could have used 50-100 more pages to tell this story, but it was fine as is, too. 

I also wanted to mention the illustrations and quotes that began the different sections of the novel. They were lovely, and fit well into the book. I enjoyed them; the artist did a wonderful job. 

Maggie Stiefvater told a gorgeous, multilayered story in her first novel. About fifty pages from the end, I realized that I really didn’t know what was going to happen, or how the story was going to sort itself out, and that was awesome; unpredictable seems so rare sometimes! This is a wonderfully told story, and I love the way the words flow (lyrical might also be an appropriate adjective). The incorporation of music into this story is a nice touch; it helps to add an extra dimension to this faerie story, which is always nice as faerie stories become increasingly common in YA literature. I thoroughly enjoyed and definitely recommend this well-written, compulsively readable story. And I can’t wait for the sequel! 


I have been hooked on this series since book one! Lord of Misrule is everything I expected. In this installment in the series, Bishop, introduced in the previous book, is enemy #1, but with the fight against him comes a rebellion by some of the human factions in town. Basically, everything’s a chaotic mess and Claire and her friends are desperately trying to save the day. 

The Morganville Vampires series is most definitely a series, and I haven’t been really hooked on a series like this since I was about twelve. What I mean by that is, books that are a continuation of one long story without, necessarily, any significant complete stories within them, if that makes any sense. In sequels, I look for books that feel complete on their own, even if there is a larger story being told as well. In series, I don’t, and this is a series. 

I love it, though. I love the characters. I love the mythology of Morganville. I love how it reminds me of Sunnydale and Buffy! One thing that does bother me is that some of the characters (like Claire) don’t always have realistic flaws. Some do, some don’t. It’s minor, though, and not something I notice when I’m immersed in the book; just something that occurs to me once I’ve put the book down. 

This is my favorite series-series around today, and these are some of my favorite vampire books. I can’t really differentiate this book from the rest of the series; that’s the kind of series it is. They’re all pretty good, and they rock for spending a rainy afternoon curled up on the couch.


Before I get into a review, I must tell you a story about my reading of this book.

Last week, I ordered Let It Snow from Barnes and Noble. On Tuesday, I was thrilled to find it in my mailbox. Later that day, I sat down to begin reading. The characters had just entered Waffle House in the first story when a friend called, with an invitation to, you guessed it, Waffle House.

I threw deodorant, a toothbrush, and a change of clothes into my large purse, along with the book, because I planned to spend the night at her house, too. And then she picked me up, and we went to Waffle House, with me still thinking about the book.

The events of the next thirty or so hours, beginning with Waffle House and ending with a New Year’s party, allowed no time for reading. However, when I left the party, I also left my bag. Only two people were there before anyone noticed, one a good friend of mine. They opened the bag to see whose it was, pulled out a book, and my friend said, “That’s Jocelyn’s.”

Meanwhile, I was distraught. My mind was still in Let It Snow, but the book was nowhere near! I went to bed anxious.

Thursday morning, I left to meet my grandmother. We went to Target. I ran to the back, where the books are, and joy! Let It Snow was there. I grabbed the book and retreated to a shoe-trying-on bench to read.

After I read about a hundred pages, my grandmother was finally done shopping, and, since I already own the book, it would have been crazy to buy it. Sadly, I had to leave the book behind yet again, but it didn’t leave my mind.

Today (Friday), I convinced said grandmother to take me to the mall, where, yes, there is a bookstore! I convinced her to leave me in said bookstore for an hour until I finished the book, and I loved every second of it.

So you can see, my reading of this book was eventful, first interrupted by a visit to a Waffle House in Western North Carolina (and the book, incidentally, involves a Waffle House in Western North Carolina). I went to great lengths to finish this, my first completed book of 2009. And now, the review.

Let It Snow is three CHEER-filled holiday romances (to channel Maureen Johnson for a moment) by three talented authors. They all focus on different characters, but the setting is the same, and main characters in each story make appearances in the other two. The set up for all three is a blizzard on Christmas Eve that stops a train and traps people, and I believe Waffle House is also involved in all three stories (one more than the others) as well.

In the first story, by Maureen Johnson, Jubilee’s parents are crazy for the Flobie village, a collection of ceramic buildings with a holiday theme (you know what I mean). So crazy, in fact, that they get into a riot over an Elf Hotel and are arrested. As they don’t want Jubilee to spend Christmas alone, she’s put on a train to Florida, where her grandparents live…a train that stops in Western North Carolina due to the blizzard and isn’t expected to move anytime soon. Jubilee gets off and walks to a Waffle House, as do fifteen cheerleaders who are soon driving her crazy enough to leave Waffle House with a strange boy wearing plastic bags. He makes some insightful comments about her relationship with her perfectionist, always-busy boyfriend, Noah, and, well, you know what happens. Predictable, but absolutely hilarious, and I loved the characters. Maureen Johnson can always be counted on for hilarity and cheer! I loved it. I laughed out loud. In Target.

In the second story, by John Green, Keun is the cashier at the Waffle House full of cheerleaders, and when they arrive, he calls three of his friends to come oogle. Only problem is, one of these friends is a girl, and when the three of them make the eventful trek to Waffle House, two of the friends discover that their relationship is a little more complicated than they’d been previously willing to admit. I absolutely adored this story; it featured my favorite kind of absolutely crazy and hilarious adventure! Hilarious is a theme, huh?

In the third and final story, Lauren Myracle’s, Addie is in tears over her breakup with Jeb. She invited him to Starbucks (where she works) to talk things over, but he didn’t show…because, unknown to Addie, Jeb was also on the train that got stuck in the snow, and his phone broke, and he was also stranded at Waffle House. Also involved in this story is an early-morning shift at Starbucks, a teacup pig, and an epiphany of sorts for Addie. I loved this story, too (especially the teacup pig), but it was a tad less hilarious and CHEERtastic than the other two. It was awesome, just…slightly less awesome.

Between the first two stories, I can’t pick a favorite, but all three stories rock and are compulsively readable. As evidenced by my story, I had great difficulty putting this book down.  These three stories are full of CHEER and adventure and romance and hilariousness. They features characters that rock. Maureen Johnson and John Green are at their best here, which is certainly saying a lot, and Lauren Myracle’s story is nothing to scoff at, either. I highly recommend this book, at Christmastime or any other time of year.


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