Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl is the horrific story of a child abductee. Her nightmare starts when she is ten. She is on a field trip at an aquarium, where she accidentally wanders away from her classmates. That’s when she meets Ray. He brings her to his house and calls her Alice, though that’s not her real name. He also makes her promise to forever stay a little girl. His little girl. Alice can’t tell anyone about her situation. First off, no one would believe her and if she tries to escape, Ray will kill her and her family.

At 15, Alice is still forced to be Ray’s ‘little girl’. He starves her to keep her as small as possible, but Alice knows he is tiring of her. She is sent to find Ray a new little girl who will replace her. Starting to lose hope, she soon starts looking forward to her death and the ending of her 5 years of torture.

I was blown away by this book. Ray was such an unbelievably twisted character. I was so sickened by everything he did. He was incredibly real and terrifying. I wanted more than anything to be able to save Alice. I was frustrated with the oblivious people around her. Everyone knew there was something wrong about her, but no one cared enough to try to find out what. I was quite confused about what happened at the end though, but that wouldn’t stop me from recommending this book.

5 of 5 daggers.

Demanding you read this book,
Twyla Lee


Vote! You must!


The Children's Book Council is having a Teen Choice Book Award. The results will be revealed in May. There is a huge-long-awesomeful list of nominated books on their site. We, being the teens, can vote for our favourite books.

Go vote before January 21st!

I'm going to.

Excitedly yours,
Twyla Lee


Turnabout By Margaret Peterson Haddix

From Margaret Peterson Haddix comes another strange but intriguing sci-fi mystery, TURNABOUT. Melly and Anny-Beth were two centenarians near death when they were asked to participate in ‘Turnabout,’ a complex scientific experiment designed to reverse the aging process. Eighty-something years later, Melly and Anny-Beth are teenagers again, and they continue to get younger and younger each day. They know almost nothing about the mysterious Turnabout project, what is happening to them, or what will happen when their age hits zero. But they realize they will soon be too young to care for themselves, so they need some answers—fast. Fearful of the many doctors who are trying to study or “cure” them, and with no one to truly trust with their secret, Melly and Anny-Beth embark on a quest to finally get some answers. But at the same time, they find themselves on the run from a mysterious someone who is trying to find out more than Melly and Anny-Beth want to tell.

Turnabout is one of those truly suspenseful books that you just can’t put down. Not only is it a first-rate mystery and a futuristic sci-fi tale; it also raises some deep ethical questions about the scientific/medical world. Melly and Anny-Beth are likable, well-developed characters, and the story is told in an engaging style that makes you just want to keep reading! I was left with some questions at the end, and a feeling that the ending wasn’t fully finished (I won’t go into detail as to avoid spoilers!) But overall, Turnabout is entertaining, suspenseful, mysterious, and thought provoking--all the ingredients of a good mystery.

I award this book 4.5 out of 5 daggers.
Mysteriously Yours,



Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

All she ever wanted was to be a knight. And it was that dream, that spurred the changing and the strengthening of a realm, the discovery of talent and of magic, the birth and the heart of many, the legend and the inspiration for all.

On the outside, Page Alan of Trebond is simply a boy with wicked purple eyes and wild twist of flame red hair, the same as any other knight-in-training at the royal palace. But deeper, Page Alan is not all he seems.

Alan is Alanna, the girl with a love for archery and fencing, a passion for riding and a drive that pushes her to open closed doors and to chase her desires, to dance with rogues and laugh with princes, to see and do and truly be. Disguised as her twin brother, she sneaks off to become a palace page, a knight in training. Alanna stays true to her task to become a knight, binding and concealing her budding womanhood, struggling with the force of her magical Gift, the touch that the Gods have placed upon her, and all of the trials and tribulations that come from being a simultaneous girl and boy.

She faces bullies, falls in love, experiences duels, battles, and murderous mages, befriends all from the King of Thieves to the Crown Prince of Tortall, all in hope of earning her shield as a knight.

My gosh. I love this book.

Ever since I was a tiny little mite of evilness and awesome, I have completely, toadally, muhahahably adorified the Alanna series. She's a girl who defies all social boundaries and constraints to follow her aspirations, and she's inspiring to characters in her book and to readers alike. She reminds me of Frankie from the Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks (by E. Lockhart—check out Avery Trelaine's brilliant review right here), who does sort of the same thing. Both books explore the issues of a woman and a girl in a society that subtly, even unintentionally restrains or underestimates them.

Another thing to be loved about these books, is the fact that at the end of the series, the characters don't simply disappear. They appear later on as guest stars of principle characters in later series that focus on others. You find out how each person's life progresses, who they marry, what children they have, what battles they've won, and you follow their maturing and their aging, in a way that seems as though you really know them.

Alanna is especially cool, because there is a series about her daughter, a series about her husband, a series about a girl who loves and idolizes her, and in every single Tortall story, she is present as a celebrated legend. By the way, Tortall is the country in which Alanna lives.

So. The series as a whole, receives a wickedly ineffable, empyreal, prodigious review, along with a whopping five out of five evil daggers.

Weeping with admiration for strong women around the world,

Your newbie cousin,


A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond

After the devastating loss of his wife, David Morgan takes a teaching job at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales. David and two of his three children leave their home in Amherst, Massachusetts and travel to Wales to start a new life. Jen, the oldest of David’s three children stays behind with her Uncle Ted and Aunt Beth in order to continue high school. For Christmas vacation, she goes to Wales to visit her family. Upon her arrival, she finds that things are not well amongst the family. David works long hours at the University and when he’s home, he shuts himself up in his study and emerges for only food and sleep. Peter, Jen’s younger brother is bitter and sulky. He never stops complaining about being his Wales. Betty, the youngest of the three children misses Jen terribly and hopes that her presence will help bring balance and peace to the household. Not long after her arrival, Peter tells Jen about a strange artifact that he has found. It is an ancient harp key that shows Peter visions of the life of Taliesin, a famous Welsh sixth century bard. At first, Jen doesn’t believe Peter, but when the key’s strange visions become visible to a wider audience, the Morgan family must act together to protect the key and the family itself.

Nancy Bond’s A String in the Harp is an excellent blend of fantasy and reality. The author seamlessly transitions from the present to the past. Also, when more people can see the key’s visions, Bond flawlessly blends the modern world with the world of Taliesin. Bond’s style of writing is easy to follow, yet intriguing and intricate. She incorporates a lot of Welsh culture, history, and legend into the story, giving it a deeper, richer feeling.

I think that this book is an excellent read for any young adult. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from reading this book. The character of Jen represents a young adult who is not ready to grow up, but is forced to take on the challenging role of guardianship because of the death of a parent. Her scenario relates to many teens and even some preteens throughout the world. The character of Peter also relates to many teens and preteens all across the world. Peter and his father, David, fight an innumerable amount of times because Peter believes himself old enough to have opinions and make decisions, but David doesn’t listen to him because he believes him to be young, naive, and whiny. Although this situation is rather cliché, in A String in the Harp the outcome is rather refreshing, definitely worth the read.

P.S. A String in the Harp is a Newbery Honor Book

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

Yours in reality and in fantasy,
Gabriel Gethin


On the day before the US Elections . . .

There's a great essay by Libba Bray on YA for Obama called "What's Wrong with Being Smart"

And no matter which side of the road you're on, if you're at least 18 and a US citizen -- make sure to exercise your right to vote!!

Yours Truly,
3 Evil Cousins


Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Palace of Mirrors, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is a different sort of fairy tale. Cecilia knows she is the true princess, with all heart and all conviction, knows with complete certainty and assurance that indeed, once the danger passes from her kingdom, she will go to the palace and take from the stand-in commoner, her rightful place as princess of Suala.

As for now, and the full fourteen years of her life, she lives in a remote peasant village, so small and obsolete that it lacks placement on most kingdom maps. She lives as a simple peasant girl, fishing at the brook, leading the cow, scrubbing the pots and helping Nanny with chores, living the life of every single common girl in the country, save for the fact that Sir Stephen visits her at night to teach etiquette and algebra, strategy and Latin, all in preparation for the time in which she will rule the land.

But the enemy is closing in. Door latches are slashed, menace lurks in shadows, hiding places are no longer havens. In a night of swords and consequence, Cecilia is forced to run from her safety and her home, run towards capital with nothing but a harp, a friend, and a basket of breads. The palace and the impostor princess loom closer, and as Cecilia finds herself involved deeply with both of them, everything she has ever known, each bedtime wish of hope and magic, are thrown into question and uncertainty.

297 pages, I read Palace of Mirrors in a day, Granted, it was a ridiculously long car ride, but I was so committed to the story that I ignored the fact that I got nauseas every fifteen minutes, due to the motion and the reading. It was completely enjoyable. I got annoyed when I had to stop reading for dinner, though I wasn't in complete distress, as I sometimes am. I read it in a few sittings—it had all of the components of a perfectly great book: it was nicely written, the plot never dragged (though, because of my vast, evil experience with stories like these, I expected it to), there were new, interesting ideas introduced in almost every chapter, and the characters were endearing and pleasant. Looking at it afterwards, I give the book three and a half evilistic daggers.

It was definitely a fun read—not one for the ages, not quite as good as some of Margaret Peterson Haddix's other, stellar works, but a fun read all the same. What was cool was that the book was all about illusion. The girl with the dainty wave on the palace balcony every day may not be the "true princess" and the average peasant may be more than she seems. Or is seeming really anything? Can something as arbitrary as bloodlines really dictate who is fit to rule the kingdom? Is everything you've ever hoped for enough to risk, or should one embrace what they do, what they should have?

There were plenty of chess analogies—things like someone you thought to be the ruler is really only a pawn, and lively descriptions of cities and life and royalty. The whole setting and plotline reminded me a whole lot of Gail Carson Levine's books, except slightly less well done.

Another notable thing—Palace of Mirrors takes place in the same world as Just Ella, also by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Indeed, Ella reprises her role, this time as a friend and confidante to the "true princess," part of a peace delegation from a warring country.

Soo. Nice, crinterproodish sort of book (if you don't know what that is, check out my reviews on Toad Hill), with three and a half wicked evil daggers!

Imagining life as medieval royalty,

Princess Briar of Dreamland


Questions for a Literary Agent

3 Evil Cousins has planned an upcoming interview with well-known NYC literary agent, Scott Treimel. Scott is the agent for such amazing YA writers as Gail Giles and Arthur Slade, but besides being an advocate for his clients, Scott feels one of his most important roles is as an advocate for teen readers.

Since so many of us are hoping to one day be published authors ourselves, we thought we'd give our readers an opportunity to ask Scott some evil questions. (You can ask either writery-agenty questions or just let him know what information you as a YA reader want passed along to publishers.)

Leave your suggestions as comments on this post!

Yours Truly,
The Evil Cousins

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is the heir to a multi-multi-multi-million-dollar criminal empire that has been in his family for centuries. He has a genius IQ and a deadly bodyguard. He also has a mission- to ambush a leprechaun and get the pot of gold, per se, not that he really needs it. He has all the information he needs. His plan is foolproof. Or is it? Artemis gets more than he’s bargained for when his diminutive victim turns out to be Captain Holly Short, of the fairy police organization. Suddenly, instead of a quiet capture and ransom demand, the entire fairy world is informed of the operation, and the LEP (fairy police squad) invades Fowl Manor to get Holly back. Artemis, his bodyguard Butler, and Butler’s younger sister Juliet are pitted against the LEP, including such individuals as the geeky, paranoid centaur Foaly and the dominating, stinky-cigar-smoking Commander Root.

This book has all the elements of good fiction- an exciting plot, unexpected twists, and especially, characters so realistic you feel like they’re sitting next to you on the sofa as you’re reading. I especially enjoyed the way the story is written from multiple points of view. It allows you to see everything at once. Sometimes you know more than the characters do, which makes everything that much more interesting when they finally figure it out. Plus, it makes it harder to be biased towards one character, which I think helps me see the story a little better. Another aspect I liked was the way Artemis has a trick up his sleeve that is not revealed until the end, when you’re absolutely sure there’s no possible way he can win. It makes for an exciting climax.

Overall, an excellent work of sci-fantasy. This book is vivid, exciting, fast-paced, and even a little thought-provoking. I give it the full 5 daggers.


Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, so we’ve all read vampire novels. You know, Twilight (excellent!!), that kind of thing. But Peeps gives us a new angle on the whole vampire theme. In Peeps, vampirism is a disease, actually a parasite, transmitted through saliva. Cal, an otherwise average kid in his early twenties, has had the misfortune to be infected with the parasite after a wild night with an enigmatic woman named Morgan. But he’s one of the lucky ones. The ordinary symptoms of the parasite are insanity, bloodlust, and intense aversion to light and to the things the infected person once liked. Cal is just a carrier, one of the lucky 1% of “peeps”- parasite positives- whose only symptoms are an extended lifespan, superior reflexes and strength, and intense cravings for meat.

Before Cal knew he had the parasite, though, he infected several girlfriends. So now, he’s a member of a secret organization, the Night Watch, dedicated to eradicating the parasite. But when Cal discovers a secret basement with a peep-cat, even though cats are not supposed to be a host for the parasite, and other mysterious occurrences, the Night Watch is stunned. Something odd is going on, and it’s up to Cal to find out what.

This is a fairly entertaining book. Granted, not one of Scott-la’s best works, but not his worst either. The first two-thirds of the book were awesome, but then I kind of lost interest and the ending was pretty lame. I still have to say, though, worth reading. I especially liked the way the book included information about real-life parasites (although don’t read these if you have a weak stomach!) It’s got that typical Scott-la style that makes you want to keep reading, even when you get to the lame ending.

I rate this book three-and-a-half daggers, and I will be reading the sequel, The Last Days.


Introducing Tay Darramont!

In order to bring Cousins readers even more reviews and a broader selection of books, we have scoured the Nyx attic for old family journals. Thanks to Great-Great Auntie Hitch and her interest in geneology, 3 Evil Cousins is pleased to announce the first of 3 additional evil reviewers joining us . . . Tay Darramont.

Keep your eye out for Tay's reviews of Artemis Fowl and Peeps as well as her bio!


Stick Figure: A Diary of my Former Self by Lori Gottlieb

Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb is the true story of young Lori’s experience of living with anorexia. The novel is made up of journal entries from Lori’s youth that she collected, put in order, and then published in an attempt to let an everyday person gaze into the thought process of an anorexic girl. The book reveals some causes of anorexia in modern society as well as shows the slow progression of Lori being a self-conscious pre-teen girl to becoming a severe case of anorexia.

First of all, this is definitely one of the love/hate books. You either love it or you hate it. There doesn’t seem to be much of an in between. I am, for my own reasons, part of the “I love this book” category. I really enjoyed this book. It really lets you get a fuller understanding of what anorexia is and why it is so hard to cure.

Anorexia is as much a mental disease as it is a physical disease. Most people don’t know that though. This book clearly reveals the mental aspect of it because it is told in journal entries. The author is literally just writing down her thoughts and what happens to her daily. This really lets you step into the character’s shoes and walk around in them.

Before you start reading this book, you should become familiar with some of the signs of anorexia (other than not eating). There are a myriad of ways to detect the beginnings of anorexia before the person completely stops eating. If you know what they are in advance, then you are better able to identify them early on in the book. Also, if you know the signs, then you can notice that some of the causes of anorexia are actually in modern media. The pressure to be thin can drive people to the point of being anorexic.

One of the things about this book that I believe scares people is that sometimes, you notice that you yourself think in the same way that Lori does. You realize that even though you aren’t anorexic, sometimes you skip a meal, or try to lose weight by going on a diet, or keep track of calorie consumption. This doesn’t mean you're anorexic too, but it does make you think. Am I so different from Lori? If I’m not careful, could I develop anorexia too? These thoughts may be haunting, but they are what make the book so powerful.

I highly recommend this book.

5 out of 5 daggers.

Well-fed, but thinly yours,

Gabriel Gethin


Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade

Devastated by the death of his beloved older brother, the young but determined Edward Bathe enlists to try to avenge his brother’s death. Abandoning his bed-ridden father and their farm in Canada, Edward travels to England to prepare for his chance to fight. Once in England, he shows an innate ability to train and ride horses. As a result, he is sent with a cavalry troop to Palestine in order to aid in the fight against the Turks. Once Edward reaches the front, his eagerness for revenge is replaced by fear and the realization that in war, you must kill or be killed. There is no in between.

This historical fiction novel about World War I is exceedingly excellent. Everything that happens in the story feels so real that the reader himself/herself feels like they are right there next to Edward. The author helps you peer into Edward’s mind and see every thought and feel every emotion. When Edward feels love, you feel love. When Edward feels grief, you cry your eyes out with him. When Edward is in the heat of battle, your own heart begins to race even though you aren’t in any real danger (except maybe of getting a paper cut from turning the page lightning fast because you can’t wait to continue reading).

Another aspect of this book that I really admired was the depth and concreteness of the characters, especially Edward. He is a very full character in the sense that he has a “real” past (real in the sense it could have happened to any normal person but it’s not real because Edward’s a fictional character) and he has “real” morals. For example, Edward is a good singer, just like his mother. He and his mother used to sing in the choir at their local Church. This is a totally random piece of information about Edward’s past that tells you so much about him. He is talented, he is religious, and he is close to his mother.

4.5 daggers out of 5 daggers

Tragically yours,
Gabriel Gethin


Breaking Dawn By Stephenie Meyer

This review was originally written to go on Toad Hill, but I, Twyla Lee, sneakily stole it to put it up on 3 Evil Cousins. After this review, we just might have to adopt Briar Kasvi.

Breaking Dawn is the fourth, and last book in the Twilight Saga, books focusing on clumsy, lovable Bella Swan, and her supernatural boyfriend, Edward Cullen. If you haven't read these books yet, run away from this review, dash to the store, and pick up Twilight. As Boodle's awesome review expressed, Twilight is super.

See, for the past year, I was totally obsessed with Twilight, loved the characters, the world, the books, obviously. My friends and I made up Twilight games, pretended we were werewolves (go ahead, call us geeky), and just basked in the glory of these books that were, ultimately made of coolness. Bella, in the first three books, was easy to identify with, klutzy, human, and with the luck to be adored by an amazing supernatural being, whom any girl (including me) would easily fall in love with. They were great, with fierce fights between vampire and werewolf, vampire and human, vampire and vampire. So of course, I looked upon the release of Breaking Dawn with mounting anticipation.

I was deeply disappointed.

The first 100 or so pages consisted of little but lengthy descriptions of the birds and the bees, followed by bloody, violent, graphic pain coming to our much loved heroine, Bella. I cringed to read it, disappointed in the lack of interest or focus on the supernatural, feeling it was inappropriate to include so much about sex in a book that was aimed at not just teens, but tweens as well, like us.

True, the second half of the novel improved a good bit, with the introduction of a wonderfully lovable new character (who, by the way, possessed one of the worst names known to man, toad, or vampire), and the reappearance of the Volturi, exciting villains hailing from Italy. Though the resolution to their visit was not as exciting as I wished, I enjoyed watching Bella discover her vampire power.

So. I was just really, really sad to see a series that I loved with so much devotion close with a novel that I found to not be much better than any sappy love story… just… disappointing is clearly the operative word here. It was interesting the way they introduced the point of view of another character, and, living amongst animals, I found it quite a useful insight into the world of wolves. The second part of the book is pretty good, not as good as the first book, and not good enough to redeem the whole thing, but pretty good all the same. I liked learning about all the different vampires.

Anyway. Though I ADORED the first three books, and would certainly give them a full five stars, I feel I have to do this, as an honest reviewer… It pains me to give a book in the twilight saga anything less than a million stars, as the world of vampires, and all but the last book deserve, but I am going to give Breaking Dawn two stars.

And yes. This book has dulled my imagination, spirit, and overwhelming awesomisticness (modesty too, it seems), enough so that I am not even creative enough to come up with anything cooler than stars.

Note: This book is seriously, unpleasantly gruesome, I described one of the scenes to my sixteen year old sister and showed her the passage, and she was cringing and whining (at me, grr) for the rest of the day. I wish I hadn't read this book—the more I thought about it afterwards, the worse it got.


Briar Kasvi


Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

YA Alert! Check out Boodledoo's TOAD HILL review of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Interesting fact: Twilight's 498 pages were written in only about three month's time.


The Silenced by James Devita

YA ALERT! Check out Briar Kasvi's TOAD HILL review of The Silenced by James Devita. Interesting Fact: James Devita is also a playwrite and actor.

Memory Boy by Will Weaver

Two years after the catastrophic volcanic eruption of the Cascade range, most of the continental United States are covered with ash. 16 year old Miles Newell, his parents and 12 year old sister Sarah escape their Minneapolis home in the wake of flaring violence, rioting and robbery ignited by the natural disaster. Tailed by bandits everywhere they go, they flee through the wild to their woodland cabin, surviving thanks to the survival stories told by Miles' old friend Mr. Kurz.

The family's hopes for safety are shattered when they arrive to find their home occupied by unfriendly strangers. Miles' family turns to his amazing memory and his knack for tinkering to help them find Mr. Kurz's cabin.

When I first picked up this book -- okay -- it seemed interesting enough but as soon as I started reading it I became completely enthralled and I couldn't put it down. The people-powered vehicle Miles constructed, the Ali Princess was a good idea and I had a vivid image in my head of a mixture of a bike, a wagon and a sail boat. I was a little annoyed when the author alternated between the past and present. I also felt the book also got predictable whenever Miles and his family visited a town or place congregated with people. (of course, the bandits would be there to chase them.)

Overall, this book was very suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my chair the entire time.

I award this book four and a half daggers out of five.

Trooper Cordell


Big Cousinly News!

I know I'm out of school and all, but some things have happened this summer to cause me to seriously investigate my family tree. Fortunately, there are simply floors of paintings here in Castle Nyx . . . dozens of dark, mysterious paintings of the Nyx ancestors with eyes that I swear move! Most of them are of people long dead -- great-great-great something-or-others, but there are a few that looked to me as if the paint were fresher. It was these I studied.

First, in the hall to the first floor dining room was an old portrait of a cat-eyed woman dressed for safari. According to the brass plate screwed into the frame, this was my wicked Auntie Fae, who disappeared somewhere in the Australian Outback in '89. With a little help (1-800-CUZFNDR) I discovered my Aunt had had a son some years ago whom she had abandoned on the steps of the Public Library of New South Wales in Sydney. Trooper Cordell.

Second, in the west wing, just below the servants quarters, hung a portrait all in greys -- a face I could barely distinguish beneath the strange cape and hood he wore. Coincidentally (dun-dun-dun) as I pondered, the door rang and there stood a hooded figure claiming to be a Nyx cousin thrice removed - an enigmatic shadow-boy with arms full of books who called himself the Velvet Pickle.

Third, in the observatory is a portrait of someone Grandmama calls "That cousin who lurks on the moors." Of course my ears perked up at the word cousin -- but it turned out he was dead 54 years past, or was he? I stowed away on the next ship to Cardiff to find my dark eyed cousin (or is it his descendant?) Gabriel Gethin, who was wandering the moors with a dog-eared paperback copy of Wuthering Heights clutched in his long fingers and looking not a day past 16.

By now I'm sure you're wondering, where are Twyla's dearest evil cousins, Avery and Aislinn? Sadly, oh so sadly for me, they have spread their wings and started their own blog of reviews called nineseveneight. Read them, I command it, for though they have broken my dark heart, they write the most fawesome of reviews.

Welcome my 3 long lost cousins, and fare thee well Avery and Aislinn. I pray you'll stop by for a visit, my dearest ones -- for you will always be my Evil Cousins!

Yours truly,
Twyla Lee


A Interview With the Magnificent Tony Varrato

Wonderful readers,

We are proud to present another interview, this time with English teacher, comic book fan and author Tony Varrato. Tony's two books, Fakie (which I've reviewed here) and Outrage have both been nominated for the 2009 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant YA Readers.

I hope his answers are as fabulously entertaining to you as they were to me.

Interviewingly yours,
Twyla Lee

1. What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote Fakie because I teach English. When you take 150 kids to the library for book reports, you get a lot who go for the shortest book they can find. But Dr. Jekyll and The Old Man and the Sea don’t work for kids who hate to read.

They want a short, fast-paced story, with no dead spot in the middle. There were already short books for kids who like the typical sports: basketball, football, basketball. I looked around the classroom and figured there needed to be a book with skateboarding, paintball, and four-wheelers. Oh yeah, and guys with guns.

2. Who did you intend your audience to be?

I was going for skaters in particular, but also any boys who don’t like to read--which is a weird target audience because writing books for non-readers is like making running shoes for couch potatoes. The trick is to get the audience interested.

3. Who are a few of your favorite authors/books? Why did they stand out to you?

In order that I started reading their stories…

Alistair MacLean—He wrote about spies with pen guns… How cool is that? In the 70’s when I started reading, there weren’t many action/adventure teen books. Around age10, The Hardy Boys weren’t cutting it anymore. So I grabbed Puppet on a Chain.

Robert Ludlum --The Bourne Identity and many other assassin/spy novels with twists and turns. Fast and action-packed.

Dean Koontz --Surprising, alternating horror, supernatural, action, and even spiritual at times. Intensity and Velocity are my favorites. The pacing and surprises are amazing.

Neil Gaiman--His comics, kids books, and novels are always over-the-top imaginative.. Faeries, gods, dolls, and spiders are characters in his stories. I especially like his use of the “stranger in a strange land” character. It sucks the reader in to the main character’s situation.

James Patterson—Fast-paced, action-packed, chapters that are sometimes one page long. The Maximum Ride and Alex Cross series are addictive.

4. Do you have any more books coming out soon? If so, do you mind giving details?

I’m working on several right now. But they are in the early oatmeal-ish stages. I need to crank up the heat a little, and add some cayenne pepper (NEVER eat my cooking), and they’ll be ready. One is slated for 2009, but I haven’t figured out a title yet.

For the first one, I promise you: unfriendly friends, bad bad guys, worse good guys, things that go fast, things that go boom, tricks and lies, and maybe a pen gun. On the back burner a couple other books are simmering nicely: superpowers and angry plants.

5. Zombies or unicorns?

Zombies! I don’t anticipate a mad unicorn attack in the near future. But I have my hand- fitted chainsaw, cricket bat, and Zombie Survival Guide within reach at all times for when the virus spreads. And don’t get me started on my aluminum-foil brain-wave protector beanie that I keep in case of aliens!

6. Look out, here comes the Create-Your-Own-Question-Question.

Hmmm. By far, the hardest question you evil ladies have asked. I was just discussing this one with my kids. If you could come back to life as an animal (in non-zombie form) what would it be? I would be a squirrel (with an acorn gun) so I could play chicken with cars on the interstate, and at the last minute, dodge with cool ninja-Matrix moves.

7.. If you could bring three characters to life for a social event, who would they be and what would the event be?

I’d bring:

Queequeg—the cannibal from Moby Dick

Marlow—from Heart of Darkness

and Frodo—does he really need an introduction?

We’d hop into the minivan (yes, a minivan) and head to Cedar Point, Ohio to catch some roller coasters!!!

Queequeg and the Hobbit are both thrill seekers so we’d have a blast--as long as Frodo leaves those stupid rings home!!! Hanging with a Hobbit and a cannibal would probably mean we wouldn’t have to wait in line. I think everyone would let us ahead of them. Marlow would be there just because he needs to lighten up already!!! Or we would laugh at him when he’s yelling “The Horror! The Horror!” after the triple loop on the Corkscrew.

8. If a fluffy, pink fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life, which book will you pick?

Tough one. I never reread a novel unless I’m teaching it. In which case, I reread it a minimum of 4 times a year.

But since defying the fluffy, pink fairy sounds dangerous, I’m going to choose 1984. It’s a story about government oppression which fascinates me, and I’m sure I can find something new each time I read it.

9. Assassins are after you. They want your “aluminum-foil brain-wave protector beanie” because the zombies are coming…

I heard the low-thwumping of the helicopter rotors a millisecond before the ski-masked assassins swung through my windows.

Instinctively, I dove behind my sofa, which I had the forethought to have upholstered in Kevlar. The bullets thudded off the couch creating a Metallica drum solo. I checked to make sure my beanie was secure and slithered toward the coffee-table escape hatch. I hit the hidden lever and the floor opened below me.

Dr. Lekejeheg had been trying to swipe my aluminum-foil brain-wave protector beanie for months now. The precise coefficients, log rhythms, cosigns, and other math techniques I mistakenly thought were useless in school were vital to create the perfectly crumpled helmet beanie that kept me safe from the mind-controlling rays of the zombie aliens that had invaded Earth. Dr. Lekejeheg teamed up with the zombie aliens in a mad quest for world domination.

Only I with my aluminum beanie could foil his plans.

I hit the bottom of the escape ramp and pushed the large red button. The hidden containers of toothpaste, styrofoam, and canned asparagus combined and the house above exploded in green, immobilizing goo.

I rolled safely out of the house and looked toward the sky. Dr. Lekejeheg shook his fist from the helicopter and flew away.

I knew I hadn’t seen the last of him.

10. Which superhero do you think you’re most like?

Oh, I’m going with my all-time favorite: Batman. –not the one accused of assaulting his mother, of course.

Aside from running around the house in spandex, I am that guy who helps random people when they need super heroic feats like lending jumper cables in the Wal-Mart parking lot or handing a person a pen from my multi-pocketed cargo shorts.. All this without any actual super powers, just determination. I AM Batman.

11. What would your part-time job be?

Extreme kayak tour guide in Costa Rica.

12. What if there were no hypothetical situations?

I would never have to wonder if I would know when to stop mowing if the sky were green.

13. What is your favourite kind of cookie?

Chocolate chip. Hot from the oven. The soft dough and dripping, melted chips slightly burning my hand.

Fakie By Tony Varrato

While running from his father’s murderer, Danny and his mother have moved, changed names and personas so often they’ve lost count. This time, as Alex Miller, Danny takes on the persona of a “skater”. With his new skateboard and baggy pants, he finds it easy to fit in and feels his new friends really care about him. He even thinks he trusts them enough to tell them his secret. Alex hopes that he and his mother don’t have to move again, but then his worst fear comes true, his mother is kidnapped (dun...dun...dun).

As Alex himself thinks in the story, I couldn’t stop seeing how this book seems like a movie or TV show. I can definitely see how reluctant readers, especially "skater" boys, would pick-up and finish this short, action-filled book. I liked being aware of the villian's side of the story. I haven't read many books where both sides were told.

I give this book 4 daggers out of 5.

Imagining being chased by assassins,

Twyla Lee


The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

YA ALERT! Check out Briar Kasvi's TOAD HILL review of The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Interesting Fact: Mitchard's first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean was the the first "Oprah Book Club" book.


The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

17 year old Jenna Fox wakes up after an accident she can't recall. She doesn’t remember her favorite color or middle name. But, she can remember History lessons clearly, which she finds odd, especially since her parents tell her that History was never her strongest subject. Shortly, she begins to notices she never gets any ‘Get Well’ cards or any friends visiting her. She also wonders why her grandmother acts as if she hates her. As a few memories start to flash back, the feeling that something is really off gets much stronger (oh dear).

Some of the things Jenna remembers can't possibly be remembered by an average person. She remembers her baptism and the sound of her mother’s heartbeat when she was in her womb. She asks questions about her accident, but her parents avoid answering them. Desperate, she starts an investigation of her own to uncover the unexpected truth.

While I was reading this book, I tried to piece together her puzzle before she did. My predictions were nowhere near close. I loved not knowing, this book had me guessing all the way to the end. The mystery of her identity and the use of forbidden science was exhilarating to read about. If I were in her position, I'd have gone completely bonkers with paranoia.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox earned the full five daggers.

Gladly yours,

Twyla Lee


Blog Alert!

Look…Look…Over there…It’s our (evil?) sister…

This is not spam, click. Click. CLICK I TELL YOU!! Noooo-ooowww!!!

Yours Truly,
Us 3 Evil Cousins


Cody's Shuts its Doors FOREVER

Sobs. The 3 Evil Cousins must report that after 52 years of business, our local bookstore, Cody's in Berkeley was forced to close its last store.

Cody’s Books was famous for its support of the free speech movement in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1989, they were firebombed for refusing to remove Salman Rushdie's controversial novel "The Satanic Verses” from their storefront. Through more than a half a century, they hosted countless poets, authors and booklovers. This year, the rent at their final store on 4th street was nearly tripled. In a last ditch effort to save the store, they moved to a new, smaller location near the UC Berkeley Campus, but even that was not enough.

The 3 Evil Cousins were privileged in Cody’s final weeks to co-host several events. These included book signings by Melissa Marr, Cody Doctorow and Cassandra Clare.

In honor of Cody’s, and in hopes we can do something small for other Independents who still struggle to stay afloat during this age of mega-bookstores and the ease of purchasing online we will link all the books we review to IndiBound.org. IndiBound (previously known as Book Sense) is the effort of independent booksellers located throughout all our neighborhoods. We hope others will join us in helping to support our local bookstores.

Yours Truly,
3 Evil Cousins

The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce, is the opening book in the Darkangel Trilogy. The book was first published in 1982, but in 2007 Little, Brown reissued paperback versions aimed at YA (which in my opinion was an excellent idea or I may have totally missed reading it!)

Aeriel, a young slave girl and Eoduin, her mistress, protector and friend are in the mountains gathering nectar for Eoduin’s cousin’s bridal cup. The fair Eoduin is snatched and borne away by the darkangel, a stunningly beautiful youth with wings of shadow. The darkangel, also known as a vampyre, is an undead being with a heart of lead. In order to please his mother and come to full power, he must drink the souls of 14 wives. Eoduin is to be his thirteenth.

Aeriel risks her life to follow them to the darkangel’s ruined castle. There, Aeriel is also captured. Instead of killing her as he first intends, the darkangel forces her to weave gowns for his wraith-like wives, who have grown so insubstantial by his feeding on them that they are weighed down by cloth woven of even the lightest spider silks.

As the darkangel prepares to bring home his fourteenth and final wife, Aeriel is reluctant to act against him. Though time is running out, she finds his cruel beauty irresistible and senses that the barest hint of humanity may still survive within him.

Like others before and after it, The Darkangel is a fairy-tale fantasy of a young girl digging out the hidden soul in a physically beautiful but soulless creature. I wonder why we love this theme so. This story predates a lot of the modern ones including the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and I’m glad the publisher decided to reissue this series in time to take advantage of the surge in popularity of romantic vampire stories.

Five daggers out of five – and I’m really looking forward to reading the next two, A Gathering of Gargoyles and The Pearl of the Soul of the World.

Fairy-tale fantasy loving, missing her two cousins and yours,
Twyla Lee

(This post is dedicated to Serafina-Zane.)


Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata by Jennifer Allison

I've been a fan of author Jennifer Allison and the hilarious Gilda Joyce since the first book. Gilda Joyce is a fourteen-year-old "Psychic Investigator" and avid writer. She lives by the knowledge in her copy of the Master Psychic's Handbook. Every time she senses something is paranormal, she gets a tingle in her ear.

The Ghost Sonata is the third book in this wonderful series. In it, Gilda accompanies her friend Wendy and the other Young International Virtuosos Piano Competition contestants to England. The mystery starts at the airport. While waiting for the plane, Gilda pulls out her tarot cards and gives Wendy a reading. Though Gilda tries valiantly to put a cheerful spin on possible meanings as Wendy pulls the first two cards, she secretly has to admit this is one of the worst readings she has ever seen. And then the third card Wendy pulls is the Death Card. The group arrives safely in England, but in the middle of the night, Wendy hears an unfamiliar and haunting melody. It keeps playing over and over in her mind, interrupting her thoughts. Then more dark tarot cards from a mysterious deck appear and finally -- the ghostly figure of a boy.
Though the story was captivating, what I love most is the character of Gilda Joyce. Jennifer Allison made her so witty and a phenomenal improviser. When Gilda's brother Stephen tells her to not take things so seriously, I couldn't stop laughing for about five minutes. Gilda is unpredictable and her antics keep me guessing.
Psychic Investigator and The Ladies of the Lake are the first two books. They can be read in any order, all are marvelous, and I highly recommend them.

Five daggers out of five. Surprising, I know.

- Twyla Lee


The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie Landau-Banks is a sophomore at Alabaster, a prestigious prep school where one might make acquaintances that will open doors all throughout life. Previously a small and awkward-looking freshman who dominated at debate, Frankie has since, shall we say...developed. And, perhaps as a result of this development, gorgeous senior Matthew Livingston notices her, invites her to a late-night golf-course shindig, and becomes her boyfriend. Frankie is positively thrilled, and loves spending time with Matthew and his friends. But when Matthew starts acting strangely--blowing her off to hang with the guys, freaking out when she touches the ridiculous china dog ornament on his desk, and quite obviously lying to her--she follows him. He ends up leading her to an old theater where she discovers that he is the Basset King, leader of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which is a secret society that has been active at Alabaster for who-knows-how-long. But Matthew hasn't told her about it, and from the looks of it, he doesn't plan to. Frankie is furious. She knows that she's just as smart than Matthew and his friends, if not smarter. But she's a girl, and the Order is an all-male society.
Does she confront him?
She gets even by becoming the mastermind behind a series of the most epic pranks Alabaster Preparatory has ever seen.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is quite simply excellent. It is the story of a girl who will not stand for being the "simple and sweet" girlfriend and nothing more, who refuses to give in to the panopticon (look it up) of our society, and who has decided that she won't take "no" from anybody. E. Lockhart writes with intelligence and humor, interspersing facts on secret societies that I found to be absolutely fascinating. At one point (or maybe a couple) a bit of first-person was thrown into the mix, which was slightly confusing, but it didn't take away from my like for the book as a whole. I especially appreciated Frankie's transformation over the course of the book, as well as the message conveyed.

Five out of five daggers

Wanting very badly to do something epic...

Only once in a while there comes a book that really and truly means something to me-- and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was one of those books. Not only was it amazingly well written, not only was I incapable of putting it down, but it made me think. Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl who has always been underestimated, and this book is the story of how she goes from being her family's small, helpless Bunny Rabbit to being, truly, a force of nature. If you read anything at all this year, read this book.

Five out of five.

Amazed, happy, and yours,


You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

When they were younger, Laura and Miles were inseparable. They were more than friends, more than cousins, they were like sisters. They spent their days in the treehouse that Laura's father built for them, playing Once Upon a Time and speaking in a made-up language.

As they grew up, though, they grew apart. Laura flourished in a world of popularity well-suited to her wealth and golden beauty. Miles, on the other hand, retreated into junk food and cigarettes, veiling herself in gothic makeup and facial piercings. She read constantly, preferring words to people. Especially people like the classmates that nicknamed her 8-Mile. Her only true friend at her D.C. charter school the popular, handsome, and talented acting/rapping/breakdancing Jamal, who once stood up for her when nobody else would. Occasionally, Laura and Miles would return to the treehouse of their childhood, passing time together in a Percoset-induced haze. It couldn't come close to the happiness of their past, but was all that Miles had to hold on to. So when Laura--beautiful, intelligent, lovely Laura--commits suicide, Miles is left shattered. She understands why Laura chose not to live, but is heartbroken nonetheless, wishing that she could have followed her on the way out. Wishing that they could have chosen together. With nothing else left, Miles turns to prescription painkillers, that numb-nothing-dream her only respite from the pain of Laura's memory. She's on a dangerous path here, losing all she didn't know she had to high she can't bear to give up.

You Know Where to Find Me is a powerful, well-written story of love, loss, and unexpected healing. It's heart-wrenching, funny, and sometimes even heart-wrenchingly funny. Cohn embodies Miles perfectly, writing with both wit and deep grief that make the novel entirely believable.

Four and one-half out of five daggers.

Hugs, not drugs...


A Salute

Ever since we were small evil ones, our mothers have been there for us.
Reading to us.
Buying us books.
Supporting our blogging endeavors.

Among other things. But, you know.

So, we salute thee, O Mothers!
A very Happy Day to you.

With admiration, sincerity, and love,

Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen

Evangeline Bianca Logan decides to clean the house. She washes the kitchen. She cleans the bathrooms. She tidies the bedrooms. And she finds--under her mother’s bed--the romance novel that will turn her into a serial kisser. Entitled The Crimson Kiss, the book inspires Evangeline to give herself a makeover, change her outlook, and go on a mission to find her own perfect, crimson, Grayson-and-Delilah kiss.

As Evangeline sets off on her mighty quest, she encounters a series of obstacles. Namely, bad kissers. Robbie Marshall attacks. That guy at the coffee shop was a bulldozer. Stu Dillard wants a rating of all things (hoping to out-man Robbie at something). And let's not even talk about Blake Jennings.

But bad kissers aren't her only problem. For one thing, her jerk of a two-timing father won't stop calling. For another, people have started magic-marker-ing her phone number onto urinals. Her grades have started slipping. And, to top it all off, a mistaken kiss leads Evangeline's best friend Adrienne to call their friendship quits.

I must admit, I was worried.
You see, I grew up reading (and adoring) Van Draanen’s Sammy Keyes series (about a snaky and intelligent girl-detective with an affinity for high-tops [a breath of fresh, hilarious, and thankfully Nancy Drew-free air]), which seemed a far, far cry from this pink-covered, lipstick-print-ed, so-very-scarily-titled book. But I just couldn’t resist. And guess what?…I loved it. It made me laugh out loud. It made me cry. It referenced The Princess Bride. And Evangeline was nice and real, just the way I like my characters.

All in all, Confessions of a Serial Kisser is a great book. Perhaps not the deepest piece of literature I've ever read, but it certainly wasn't mindless drivel, either. I still like the Sammy Keyes books better, though (Even though they are middle-grade).

Four out of Five daggers



Airhead by Meg Cabot

One day, Em Watts is just Em Watts, a teenage tomboy with a love for video games and no love whatsoever for the Walking Dead, her name for the popular people at her school. The next day she is Nikki Howard, teenage supermodel. And there's nothing she can do about it.
Nope, there's no Freaky-Friday-esque spirit transfer. But seeing as Meg Cabot seems to want to keep most of the details under wraps, I won't give away the plot of Airhead any more than I already have. Let's just say that it's pretty darn cool. (Besides, if you really want to know, I'm sure you can find it online.)
Airhead is a thoroughly enjoyable book, not just because it's about a gamer geek trapped in the body of a supermodel, but because (despite what all the chick-lit-haters might say) Meg Cabot is quite a good writer. The heroine is likable, the supporting characters are amusing and believable, and the plot is clever and fun, though it occasionally dragged.
Airhead is the first in a trilogy, and it reads like it-- it seems more like the beginning of a story than a complete story in and of itself. This may bother some people, as it made the plot a bit slow at times. This format also means that readers (if they enjoyed the book) will be clamoring to read the second, because the end of Airhead seems more like (at risk of sounding clichéd) a beginning.
Airhead comes out on May 13.

All in all, I would say that Airhead makes a great light read. I give it four daggers out of five.

Glad that she is still residing in her own body, but also kind of wishing that she weren't because then she could have an adventure, and also writing very long sign-offs, and also, yours,