The Sweet Far Thing

The Sweet Far Thing is the third in Libba Bray's trilogy, which, as the back cover informs me, is called the Gemma Doyle Trilogy.*

And it's really, really good. It gave me shivers. And it made me cry. No, really. Libba Bray, you made me cry. I shall never forgive you.**

Now, if you haven't read the first two books (A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels) I suggest that instead of reading the rest of this post, which will likely contain spoilers for both of those books, you instead go and read the books themselves. You will like them, I promise.***

Gemma Doyle, at the end of Rebel Angels, bound the magic of the realms to herself, promising to share it with the tribes. Now, she must contend with the creatures of the Winterlands, the plotting of the Order and the Rakshana, the discontent of those who live in the Realms, and her feelings for a certain extremely hot Indian guy.****
Gemma must figure out who to trust and what to do, all while keeping up the pretense of a nomal, stifled, Victorian-schoolgirl life.

She does, of course, have friends to help her along-- sort of. Felicity is as scathing and power-hungry as always, and Ann wilts, if possible, even more than before-- though she does have breif moments of confidence and even triumph. Pippa is... not really Pippa anymore, though you'll have to read the book to find out what happens on that front. Kartik, is a friend, perhaps more than a friend, but again, you'll have to read the book. Libba Bray has said that there is Kartik/Gemma action, and there most definitley is.*****

The Sweet Far Thing is beautifully written, and, though it is over 800 pages long, manages not to drag on in the least. The ending, is, I thing, fitting-- but don't worry, I won't tell you what it is.

I award The Sweet Far Thing with four and one-half daggers.

*A name which, in my opinion, is entirly unfitting for the trilogy. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy? Yawn. Unfortunately, no one consulted me when they made this decision, so what can I do?

**The chances that she will ever read this are, of course, exceedingly slim. Ah, well. Such is life.


****Need I say it? MINE.

*****Insert evil cackle here.

Cackling, shivering, wishing Kartik were real, and yours,

PS This is the best YA cover of 2007, in my opinion. Possibly the best title. What do you think?



Guess what came in the mail today?

No, none of us won the contest. I entered, though, and Cassandra Clare* emailed me... to ask whether the Evil Cousins wanted an ARC!

After I finished squee-ing** I said that we most certainly did.

And here it sits, right next to me. Jealous?***

She even signed it for us:

I die of happiness.

*Who is definitely my hero. Right now, anyway. Well, her and Buffy.

** And jumping up and down, and fainting.

*** Insert maniacal laughter here.

Fainting, squee-ing, reading City of Ashes, and yours,

PS A review is, of course, forthcoming.


In the Name of Awesome

The Dark Lord commands thee: go read Maelstrom! It's teenagers... blogging about books... because books are awesome. It gives me some hope that the land of Teenageria shall one day come out of this dark age and embrace the wonderfulosity of reading!

For now, we few shall march bravely on.

Dark-Lord-obeying, on-marching, and yours,


Harry Potter Fun!!!

Oh, hey, look! A poll!! You should take it!!

Is your answer 'other'? Post it in the comments here! Aislinn wants to know.



Valiant, Holly Black's second book of the "modern faerie tale" variety, tells the story of a girl named Val, who is thrust into a cruel situation that leads to her running away from home. She shaves her head and goes to New York City. It is there that she meets a group of eccentric street kids. All is not as it appears, however, and soon Val finds herself in the midst of a twisted world in which her new friends are strung out on faerie medicine, which allows them to use glamour*. But that's just the beginning. There's also a sword of glass, an awesome troll, some romance, and--of course--a bad guy.

Holly Black weaves the world of the fey and human with a strange and beautiful ferocity that is unique and wonderful. She combines an unflinchingly honest view of today's world with the magic of the faerie courts. When I began reading Black's "modern faerie tales", I had a bit of trouble getting into them. Make no mistake, they're very well written....I was just so unused to seeing the fey in a (modern) world so harsh. If you--like me--tend to enjoy reading romanticised faerie stories (You know what I'm talking about. Those ones. They usually involve many awesome ball gowns...or are set in Ireland...etc.), give the books a chance. They're well worth it.

I award Valiant four and a half out of five daggers.

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth...


"Scroll Down!", Sayeth the Dark Lord

So this funny thing happens when we write posts but don't publish them for a while. We save them as drafts. And when we do publish them they are posted in the space that they would have occupied had we posted them on their original save date. This is probably quite confusing to most of you, as your majority is comprosed of mere mortals. So I'll get to the point.


Just kidding. Heh. I'm hilarious. Anyhow...The point is: there may be some reviews that you have not read, For instance, we did a lovely little review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Boredom-I mean...er...Hallows! But it seems that nobody has read it. Because there aren't any comments. And I know for certain that everybody who has read the book must have some strong opinions.


Scroll Down, young grasshopper...Avery Trelaine


Suitte Scarlett

Maureen Johnson, author of the recently-reviewed-by-us Girl At Sea, has another book that will, at some point in the future, come out. It's called Suitte Scarlett, and it's about a girl, and a hotel, and, um, some other stuff. And it's the first in a series!

But the most* exciting part is:

Holy thanksgiving turkey, batman! She's got eyes!

That's right, folks. The Curse of the Headless Torso has finally been broken.

* Besides, you know, the book's existence, and all.

Rejoicing, curse-foiling, and yours,


Girl at Sea

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson is about-- who would have guessed?-- a girl at sea.

Clio Ford is a 17-year-old girl with a most fabulous tattoo and, she thinks, a most fabulous summer plan. But then Things Go Terribly Wrong. Her mother, an artist (Clio is an artist as well) gets a fellowship for the summer that causes her to move to Kansas. Clio has to give up her summer job at the art store with the Cute Boy and spend the summer with her father on a yacht in Italy. Oh, the horror.

Yacht = good, right? Clio doesn't think so. Bad relationship with father + no Cute Boy + no art store = lots of teen angst. But it's all good fun. And anyway, there's another Cute Boy, and he's much more awesome.

Anyhow, there's an ancient archeological mystery, some jellyfish, and much snarkyness. Read it. Don't let the cover fool you-- it's good.*

Oh and Aiden (that's the Cute Boy-- the one on the boat, I mean, not the one from the art store) is most wonderful. And he has great hair.

I bestow upon this book 3.5 daggers, because it is enjoyable and very entertaining, not to mention well written... but it's fairly frivolous. I mean, it's not a great work of liturature, but who wants to read nothing but great works of literature?** But, I mean, it's good, but it's, er...

Okay. I'll say it.

It's a girly book.

You got a problem with that?

Laughing at headless girls, reading girly books, fearing jellyfish, and yours,

*For some reason, two other books by Maureen Johnson have covers with girls who only have half of a head. Disturbing.

** Okay, so quite a few people, but my point is NOT ME.



The fourth book in the Uglies 'trilogy', Extras, takes place in post-'mind-rain' Japan a couple of years after Tally Youngblood destroyed the Pretties system. Japan, along with the rest of the world, is adapting to the freedom of thought that people had so long been deprived of. New cultural norms have emerged, and Japan's 'reputation economy' is one of these. It ties wealth and fame together at a whole new level, making most everybody want fame more than anything else.

Enter fifteen-year-old Aya Fuse, who's just as desirous of fame as the next person. She's a kicker, and always has Moggle (her hovercam) by her side. She is constantly searching for a great story to kick, one that might take her out of panic-making obscurity. One that might make her famous. But with a face rank of 451,369 (out of a million), there is little chance of that happening. That is, until she stumbles upon the story of a lifetime. But she gets more than she bargained for when she kicks it, and fame ends up being difficult. And, in her case, dangerous.

For an Uglies/Pretties/Specials fan such as myself, it was awesome to return to Westerfeld's creepy future earth. I couldn't help but notice that the reputation economy makes a lot sense. Which is creepy. We're already fame obsessed enough as it is.

Extras is really quite a wonderful book. It was well tied-in with the three preceding books, but has enough new developments so as not to be repetitive. Aya is a great character. She's endearing but imperfect. And sometimes you get really mad at her.

Which means, of course, that Westerfeld has done his job very well.

Five daggers out of five.

Wanting to mag-lev surf*...

*What is mag-lev surfing, you ask? I don't think I'll tell you. Read the book.


An economy based on fame.* Creepy people with too many joints. Japan. People who surge themselves to look like manga characters. Tally Youngblood. Hoverboards.

Dude, Extras is awesome.

And, as many of you probably know (on account of the link from his blog), we saw Scott Westerfeld talk/sign books... it was pretty darn cool, yo. Justine Larbalestier was also there (author of the Magic or Madness trilogy), which was also pretty darn cool, yo.

So... five out of five. Yep.

*Which would possibly work better than our current economy. I mean, it's creepy, but it would totally work.

Hoverboarding, kicking, mag-lev-riding, fame-seeking,

PS Reese: email us! Quick, before the dark lord of all evil finds out!

I finished reading Extras and I adored it. Tally-wa...Tally makes me incredibly happy. I love her super-specialness and "I'm a loner" attitude and her "just accept me or don't - - I don't care" outlook.

I give this wonderful book, the full 5 daggers.

Nonbubble-headedly yours,
Twyla Lee

Hey, look!

Wowzas! A new picture!

Yep. Proving once and for all that Aislinn is not a boy. Not that there was any doubt in the first place... right?

Isn't it pretty?

There are also other new things, like... individual blogs! Each of the cousins now have their own personal blog, where we will... blog. About bloggy blogging things.

So, dear reader, I command you: click here and here and here.

Bloggingly, picture-admiringly yours,

PS The one on the left is Avery, I'm in the middle, and Twyla is on the right.

Lobster Land by Susan Carlton

Lobsterland, By Susan Carlton, is about a 16 year old who is forced to grow up before her time. Charlotte lives on an island off the coast of Maine that she calls "Bleak". She feels trapped by her environment and her life. Her dad is always playing Scrabble --“scrabble sex” as Charlotte calls it -- with Lola the Laptop. Her Mom is always on medication, not a druggie, but in her own little world. That leaves Charlotte to take care "the siblets" while she juggles her school and personal life. Stressed out, Charlotte applies to prep school hoping to get away. She seems to wear her high heels everywhere in an effort to symbolize the life she wants.

I had a hard time understanding why Charlotte was soo in love with her boyfriend, Noah. His character wasn't really developed until the end. Yeah, they had known each other for a long time, (they used to eat play-doh when they were still ignorant little children) but I never read anything that I thought was particularly sweet or gentlemanlike of him. Nothing that would capture my heart, but maybe that's just me.

I had a really hard time getting into the book partly because I expected it to be a really girly, cliquey book. As you probably guessed...I was slightly wrong. This is a book about the desire for indepence and change versus leaving everything you know and care about. I am left with a vision of high-heeled Charlotte in the ice and snow, still stuck on an island off the east coast. I kind of admire the fact that she didn't fall and break herself, then again if she had, it would have been quite hilariously funny.

Overall...I give this book a 2.5 daggers out of 5.

Still typing, reading and yours,

--Twyla Lee


Teen Read Week

Happy Teen Read Week, everybody! Hmm. I guess we cousins should start reading, huh?

Teen Read Week is... presented by? Sponsored by? Held by? ________ by ALA (The American Library Association). This year's theme is LOL.

No, really. Like the internet abbreviation.

Please excuse me. I have to go curl up in a corner and cry.

But other than the atrocious (in my opinion) theme, Teen Read Week is pretty darn awesome. Teenagers should read more.

Readingly, curling-up-and-cryingly yours,

Note: You can see my further thoughts on lol, and some other stuff, here.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Originally, we were going to refrain from reviewing Harry Potter the Seventh. But then we began to feel so very, very left out. So here it goes: Harry Potter is a character that many of us have grown up with. We wanted his final story to end spectacularly. Alas, it was not to be. I suppose that Rowling, being richer than the queen and knowing that her legions of loyal readers would buy the book no matter what, decided that she could cop out on the final volume. This is incredibly sad. I wanted to like the book. Truly I did. But somehow, it didn't work.

I was actually racing with one of my cousins (of the non-evil sort) to finish the book (I won, of course), so I didn't realise how disappointed I was until I gave it some thought. And there it was, the awful truth: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a creature of deathly boredom.

And OH! The epilogue. Of all the things that could have gone wrong, this was the worst. How could she make everything so...perfect? I shall refrain from saying anything more on the subject, for fear of being hunted down and butchered by a vengeful not-yet-finished reader.

Despite the fact that this Deathly Boredom was so...well, deathly, I feel that I must give it no less than three out of five daggers. Just because I grew up with the series. And the first three books were totally made of awesome.

--Avery Trelaine

Aislinn says,

So, unlike Avery, I am going to assume that everyone reading this had read Harry Potter and the Deathly Boredom, er, that is, Hallows.

SPOILER ALERT!! If you are one of the, like, four people who haven't yet finished, don't read this . . .

I'm going to do this by character, because... because because.

Harry-- Our dear main character was as much of an annoying angst-ridden idiot as always. Only this time, he was an annoying, angst-ridden idiot who was also Jesus. And has anyone else noticed that he's not that good at magic? No, seriously. I mean, who in their right mind would make him head of the auror department? (This is what he goes on to do-- JKR said so.) I was so depressed that he didn't die.

Ron-- Went from being kind of a pathetic loser to being entirely a pathetic loser.

Hermione-- Lost all her awesome. No, really. She went from being all "Get out of my way or I'll turn you into a moose" to "Oh, Ron, you're soooo clever! And also, I'm suddenly not nearly as competent a witch as I used to be!"

Ginny-- If Harry Potter dumped me 'for my safety,' I would most certainly not just sit around and wait for him to come back to me. Then again, I wouldn't date Harry Potter in the first place. Also, JKR tells us that Ginny became a professional Quiddich player, but then left her job when she married Harry. No, Ginny! No! Don't let patriarcial society keep you down! BREAK THE GLASS CEILING!!

Malfoy-- Most certainly did not live up to his potential. He could have been so awesome, but instead, he was just a whiney, incompetent loser. I would also like to take this opportunity to note that if Draco had, in fact, fufilled his potential for awesome, he and Ginny would have made a great couple. (Hey, don't look at me like that. It's true.)

Dumbledore-- The Headmaster was dead, yes. But he was in the book more than any other, except perhaps the sixth. I think JKR simply couldn't fathom writing a Harry Potter book without Dumbledore.

THE DEATHSTICK-- Yes, it's a wand, but it really deserves its own character listing. It had so much personality. And also, it's called the deathstick. And Voldy always said "Deathstick" last, like: "It is mine! The Elder Wand! The Wand Of Destiny! THE DEATHSTICK!!!"*. At which point I always burst into a fit of hysterical laughter (no matter how serious the situation was supposed to be).

*This is not an actual quote from Deathly Hallows. But it's pretty darn close.

Dissapointedly, cynically, thanking-God-it's-over,

Note: We know that this post is seeming to be spreading the HP hate. But really, we love it as much as all you crazy fangirls. Okay, maybe not quite as much. As in, we don't write any Dramione fanfiction. Or any fanfiction, for that matter.
But still. We love Harry Potter. We just hide it really, really well.

Twyla says:

Now for my opion of this wonderfulness. Well, I thought it was ok. I wasnt thrilled with it but there were certain parts I liked. It was pretty, ok very predictable. Especially the ending. The very very end, 19 years later, it was waaay to perfect and like *sigh* aw, how sweet. Lets all go to bed and have sweet dreams because everyone lived happily ever after. After all of what Harry went though, wouldn't he have some emotional drawbacks he needed to work on? Or insane fans he had to outrun?

After saying that, I give Deathly Hallows a 3.5 daggers out of 5.

--Twyla Lee


Looking For Alaska

Looking for Alaska is John Green's first book (his second, An Abundance of Katherines, shall be reviewed forthwith). Looking for Alaska is a rather heartbreaking story. There is, of course, a boy and a girl, but there's also a boarding school and some alcohol and a suitcase labeled "COFFEE TABLE" and many last words. Miles Halter (the boy) goes to boarding school and meets Alaska (the girl) and a bunch of cool stuff happens, none of which I will tell you about, because I'm cruel. Then a Bad Thing happens, also which I will not tell you about.

Looking for Alaska is divided into two parts-- before and after-- and the chapters are named accordingly (a month before, two days before, etc). This gives the whole book a sense of inevitability. There is a Bad Thing that is about to happen, and you can see it coming, but there is nothing whatsoever that you can do about it. Of course, there is never anything that you can do to stop something that happens in a book, unless you are the author of the book, or you have magical powers, but Looking for Alaska really drives the point home. The entire first 3/4 of the book is just building up to the Bad Thing, just waiting for it to happen. And then, BAM. Bad Thing. And it hurts your soul, believe me.

Now, look at the picture of the cover. Do you see the shiny round gold thing? Yes? Good. That, dear reader, is a Printz award, which, if you don't know, is a very fancy sort of an award. Looking for Alaska won a Printz (a fact that you may have surmised from the aforementioned shiny round gold thing). Why did it win a Printz, you ask? Silly reader! I say. Because it is good! Now go, go out into the wonderful land of books and read it. I command you!

I award this book 4.5 daggers.*

Depressedly, Bad-Thing-hatingly yours,

*I should probably give it five, but there's too much drinking. Is that a legitimate reason to take away a half a dagger? Eh. Teenage drinking is annoying.

Despite all of the teen drinking and sex and smoking, I absolutely adore this book. It is a beautiful story of love and loss and suffering. And it made me cry. It absolutely ripped my heart out. And one must love a book that can do that.

The inevitability of the Bad Thing really hits you, though.

Hits you hard.

I give it the only set of daggers that I am able: all five.

Hoping for good last words...


Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely is the story of a girl who can see faeries. Not shiny, happy, sparkly, petal-wearing fairies—scary ones. Thus the spelling: fairy = Tinkerbell, faery = awesome. And of course, by awesome I mean, you know. Frightening.

Aislinn (That’s the girl’s name. Coincidentally, it is also my name. It’s pronounced Ash-lin, not Ah-is-lin, or Ay-es-lin, or Bill, or however one chooses to butcher it.) catches the eye of a faery named Keenan, who turns out to be something called the Summer King. This makes him an important person (or faerie). He’s also kind of a jerk. Keenan has been searching for a bride for nine centuries (faeries are immortal, if you were wondering) and thinks that Aislinn may be the one. I won’t go into all the details, but, basically, Aislinn is given a choice: become a Summer Girl (one of many simpering idiots who die if they go too far from Keenan), or take a test. Obviously, I’m not talking about a math test. It’s a magical test. You know, like slaying a dragon or pulling a sword out of a stone (though slaying a dragon is more about brute strength and/or battle prowess). If Aislinn passes, she becomes the Summer Queen, Keenan’s bride (also, a curse gets broken and some other stuff happens, but I won’t go into that). If she fails, she becomes the Winter Girl, forced to endure constant cold and bound to serve the Winter Queen (who is evil, of course). And no, I’m not going to tell you what the test is. You’ll have to read the book. It isn’t slaying a dragon, though.

Anyhow, while all this is going on, Aislinn is getting into a romantic entanglement with a boy named Seth. Unlike Keenan, Seth is wonderful. He is also mine—sorry, Avery dear. Seth lives in a train car. And has tattoos. And a snake. Also, he’s hot. And did I mention mine?

Wicked Lovely is Melissa Marr’s first novel, and she had better write more now, because it is most absolutely utterly wonderful fantabulous. It starts out a little slow, with a scene that is supposed to introduce you to the concept of faeries and the fact that Aislinn can see them. But Aislinn’s fear at seeing them seems a bit forced—she’s been seeing them all her life, and you’d figure she’d be used to it. The book recovers quickly, though, and has very few weak moments after that. There were some times when I wanted to scream at the characters because they were making bad decisions and don’t be stupid and ack don’t do that you idiot because can’t you see that other thing? But I’m not sure that this is bad. I scream at characters a lot, see.
I give this book 4.5 daggers out of 5.

Sincerely, book-reviewingly, Seth-kidnappingly, faery-lovingly yours,

Faeries have been a part of my life (self? soul?) since I was very, very young. Because of this, I just happen to have an affinity for books about them. Often, I will be excited about a book on the subject of faeries, only to be monumentally disappointed. Fortunately, however, this was not so with Melissa Marr's 'Wicked Lovely'.

The book, as Aislinn (Nyx, not the main character) stated, began shakily with an awkward "I see fairies" scene. It recovered quickly, plunging the reader into an epic clash between winter and summer, love and obligation, mortal and faery. You know... everything that my daily life would be if it weren't... normal.

One thing that I really loved about this book was its love story. The high ranking fae creature verses the best friend is a common love conflict/scenario, popular among many fantasy writers. The great thing about Wicked Lovely is that Marr took a common theme and made it original and complex. And entirely awesome.

(And actually, Aislinn darling, Seth is not yours. He may not be mine, but if I can not have him, neither can you. So there.)

All in all, Wicked Lovely was, well... lovely.
I pierce the icy heart of the Winter Queen with four and a half daggers.

Fae at heart...


Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust is the tale of Tristran Thorn’s quest to find the Fallen Star for his love, who promised him anything he desired if he were to achieve the impossible task. Tristran does end up finding the star, but gets more than he bargained for -- he is not the only one searching for it. The evil witch queen is after the heart of the star, for the star is actually a gorgeous young woman and eating her heart will make the witch queen young and powerful again.

Some who are reading this review probably have already watched the movie, but the book and the movie are two completely separate things. The book had more adventure than the movie and ended better, in my opinion. I will give the movie props for being funnier though.

In the book, I enjoyed the way Neil Gaiman switched points of views throughout the story. I liked reading the witch’s perspective and getting into her thoughts because, personally, I haven’t read many books like that.

I give Stardust 5 daggers out of 5. I felt that all the loose ends from the beginning of the book got tied into perfectly neat bows.

Keep an eye for more reviews.

--Twyla Lee

Well, for once Twyla and I agree on the quality of a book. That's interesting.
Anyhow, I adored Stardust. Neil Gaiman is masterful in his storytelling and the world that he created in this book was simply marvellous. Somehow, he managed to make the entire book heartbreaking within the very last paragraph.
Genius, really.

I give the book five daggers (of five) worthy of cutting out the heart of a star.

Read on....Avery Trelaine

Oh my! Total consensus! Whatever shall we do?

I think that this unprecedented event comes on account of the fact that Stardust is indisputably, fantastically amazing. To take a cue from the Uglies trilogy, it is happy-making.

Stardust managed to make me extraordinarily happy and then completely rip my heart out. How, you ask? Do not ask. Read.

Also, I need to see the movie. I'm told that there's a cross-dressing Robert De Niro.

Five of five, but of course.

Happily, sadly, starrily, wonderingly, agreeingly yours,

Aislinn Ai


SO YESTERDAY by Scott Westerfeld

I was already a Scott Westerfeld fan when I read the Uglies series. So I assumed I’d like this book, SO YESTERDAY. The main character, a teen named Hunter, is paid to seek out the next fashion trends. I think it's a must-read for all teens because we're constantly trying to keep up with the latest trends. Having read this, I'll think twice before hopping on board the next fad.

While out hunting for potential fads, Trendsetter Hunter runs into Jen -- an Innovator. Innovators are the teens who come up with the new fashion trends through their own natural creativity. Hunter introduces Jen to the focus group he works for. The next evening they are supposed to meet Hunter's boss, Mandy, at an abandoned building, but they only find her cell phone and a mysterious cache of the most amazing new type of shoes -- shoes everyone will want. Enter the Jammers. Jammers want to thwart the Big Businesses making money off teen fads. This book made me realize how people are brainwashed by the media to want certain brands. We are made to think a certain way and to think that certain things are cooler or, "more skate" than others.

Like, Hunter, by the end of this book I ended up being all for the Jammers. I give this book 4.5 daggers out of 5. I think that I would have really loved the book if the Jammers were a little bit more powerful because cool is overrated in my eyes.

--Twyla Lee

Don't get me wrong...I love Scott Westerfeld. The Uglies/Pretties/Specials series was absolutely bloody brilliant. That being said, I found myself highly disappointed in SO YESTERDAY. Sure, the book was entertaining...but there wasn't much else to it. Nothing in the book really stirred me. I didn't care if the characters succeeded...hell, I didn't really care if they died. Somehow, neither the story or the main characters captured my imagination or interest in any significant way.

All in all, I felt that somewhere along the line Westerfeld lost the power of the message he was trying to convey. I already knew that we teenagers are brainwashed by the corporations and brand names every single day. No great epiphany was spawned during the reading of this book.

I give this book three daggers of the available five.

Brutally Honest......


'Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party' by Ying Chang Compestine

Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party’ by Ying Chang Compestine was difficult for me to pick up at first because I don’t usually read novels based on facts. It turned out to be a pleasant change from what I usually read, which is fantasy with magical things and flying unicorns. Ling’s family dreamed of going to San Francisco, but those dreams get pushed further aside when Chairman Mao decides to “recreate” China.

Both of Ling’s parents are doctors at a hospital in Wuhan. Everything is peaceful until Ling and her family have to share their house with Comrade Lee, a communist under Chairman Mao. Neighbors start disappearing around them and Ling loses her friend because of her bourgeois background. Her friend tells her that she's afraid of looking like a bourgeois sympathizer.

Compestine’s writing in the book made me laugh out loud, for instance, she wrote, “I secured the first elastic band around my father’s slippery ponytail. Would my singing neighbor feel as happy as I was when she could finally reach the high note? I wished she would get there soon—or sing a different song.” I would give this book 4 ½ daggers out of 5 only because it left me wondering whether Ling and her family ever ended up in San Francisco.

--Twyla Lee


'Not Like You' by Deborah Davis

I must admit, when I first started reading 'Not Like You' by Deborah Davis, I was a little worried. I didn't want to read another bloody story where a girl within my relative age group has too much sex. But there it was: "Two-and-a-Half-Minute Hal" ( a dreadful bloke) was sleeping with Kayla, our beloved heroine. Within the first two pages. So yeah, I hesitated. But I read on. I wanted to know what was going to happen between Kayla and her alcoholic-on-the-mend-but-not-really mother, Marilyn. Despite my initial misgivings, I found myself sucked into the story. I was angry at Marilyn when she got drunk, happy when Kayla found friends in her new town, and disappointed in her when she made stupid mistakes (which happened fairly often).

Kayla struggled with her age quite a bit. At only fifteen, she had had to take care of her mother constantly and deal with their frequent moves (the most recent of which was to New Mexico at the beginning of the book) and was very mature for her age. With that idea of her own maturity, she began a relationship with Remy, a musician nine, years her senior. She found herself trapped between adolescence and adulthood as their relationship progressed. Confused by her feelings for him and his for her, she made some big mistakes.

'Not Like You' is an honest, heartfelt, well told story of a teenage girl struggling to find a place for herself in an unsteady new life. Despite being a bit iffy in places, the book was enjoyable and I was entirely satisfied with the ending. I bestow upon this book the rank of three and a half daggers (out of five).

Until next time......Avery Trelaine

I was intrigued by a few excerpts I had heard before I read the book. One thing I didn’t get was why Kayla had a beer with Remy when she saw how her mother got when she drank. I was proud of Kayla at the end of the book for letting go of Remy and realizing that he was too old for her. I ended up enjoying the book so much, I couldn’t put it down. I give this book 4 daggers out of 5.

--Twyla Lee