Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge

31019831Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

3_stars

When Lucie begins working at Château Beaumont she  is besotted with it’s master Jean-Loupe, despite the rumors of a curse. That is until she is affected by his monstrous personality. A spell is cast on him turning him into a beast and Luce gets her wish to watch him suffer. But as time passes she learns that the beast that has taken Jean-Loupe’s place is actually nothing like the cruel man.

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The Story

This book was not at all what I was expecting, and while I thought the unique point of view and change in the story was pretty great, the pacing was quite slow and a little on the darker side. I was almost pushing myself to just finish the book, until about 75% when I was finally invested enough into the characters to actually care about the ending. And while it was almost necessary to have all that transpire, there wasn’t enough to break up the monotony. I think a big portion of that was due to Lucie’s POV because there wasn’t a lot actually involving her, I felt like we spent a lot of time just…sitting there basically looking out a window.

Trigger warnings: rape and suicidal thoughts

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The World Building

I appreciated the story being kept in it’s French roots, despite being a retelling. I also loved how descriptive the book was with how Beast was dealing with the transformation and adjustment to his body – going from a human man to a beast with body parts he was not used to.

I also really liked the changes in the enchantment of the  Château and how the roses play a part of the story. I liked how it added to the humanity that was within beast.

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The Characters

I think the part that really stands out with this book was the Jean-Loupe/Beast combination. The drastic changes between the curse set upon them really sets this apart from other BATB retellings that I have come across. I think it’s in the fact that Beauty doesn’t change him per se, but the fact that the goodness is within him to begin with and it is such a drastic difference from who he was in the beginning of the book.

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The Soundtrack

Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla

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Paper Girls

28204534Paper Girls, Vol.1 by Brian K. Vaughn

3_stars

I have a small weakness when it comes to book related art. So naturally I am drawn to graphic novels with pretty artwork. I have read the entire Saga series up to date by Brian K. Vaughn so when I saw Paper Girls was a new novel written by him, I had to give it a try!  This is a different artist than his Saga series so I had a completely different feel from the first page. While this wasn’t quite as good as Saga, I was still instantly wrapped up in the story of the Paper Girls! I mean who doesn’t love a kickass group of girls who deliver papers in the 80’s with their neat-o jean jackets and walkie talkies? I almost got a feel of a female version of Stranger Things at some points in the story. (And I LOVE Stranger Things!!! Eep!)

The art in this is beautiful with the pretty neon colors that relate to the 80’s. I got caught up from time to time just staring at the pictures on the pages before I would flip to the next to continue reading.  I think sometimes I get so caught up in the story that I forget to stop and enjoy the art that goes along with it. It was nice that this was simple enough that it didn’t feel like I was missing anything, but still pretty and to the point.

The girls are all extremely unique with very different personalities, but all with the same job to deliver papers and to look out for each other in the process. I loved the little pointers they had for each other on who to stiff since they hadn’t paid their fees, and which roads to avoid at certain hours. Their camaraderie was fun to see progress as they are thrust into one adventure after the next.

It quickly turned very sci-fi with little explanation as to how things came to be, or what is exactly taking place. It all gets very confusing once the time travelers are introduced, most of which is actually better explained in later volumes but this was my main reason for the lower star rating. It was frustrating to have such a strong start to become so muddled once the action began. It wouldn’t take away from the plot if just a little more information was given in the beginning, and i think that made me like it a little less. All of Vaughns other story lines are beyond well planned and thought out, so I knew there would be a reason for the vagueness, but at the time it really bothered me.

In the end we are left with a cliff hanger that only makes you want to grab volume 2 and begin right away (which is exactly what I did). I am pretty sure I read all four volumes available in one night. I had to find out what happened after I got intr

o it! These would be a great into read in the Graphic Novel world because they are different enough to stand out, but still simple enough that they don’t overwhelm you. I really enjoyed this and will be continuing to read these as they are released!

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Let’s Talk About It

Does anyone else love to read graphic novels mixed in with their full length novels?! There’s just something about the art to go along with the story that really draws me in. Do you all have any favorites? Favorite author, or illustrator? And for all those graphic novel veterans, what was the first one you read? Mine was Saga, and I was hooked from the start! Let me know about your experiences!

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Kiss of the Royal

32173635

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

3_stars

ARC received via Netgalley for a fair review.

The Forces of Darkness seem to continue to grow stronger, no matter how many battles the royal army wins. They have fought the war for 500 years, and every princess has the power to Kiss their prince to enhance their abilities, and Princess Ivy is the direct descendant to the original queen and therefore has the most powerful kiss. Because of this she must have the most powerful swordsman, Prince Zach at her side. Together their combined magic would be able to finally put an end to the war. The only problem is Zach wont Kiss Princess Ivy.

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The Story

I loved the underlying concept in this book, but unfortunately the delivery just wasn’t all there for me. As the story progressed there was a lot of repetitiveness as Princess Ivy told the reader how powerful she was rather than showing. She also spent a great deal reiterating why things were, usually one chapter after a massive info dump. I felt this stunted the pacing of the book, and ultimately made it a lot longer than it needed to be.

However, the story itself was fun and I loved how much of a slow love story it was, at least on Princess Ivy’s side. There was a lot of action sequences that helped break the story up as Ivy & Zach encountered more and more dark forces.

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The World Building

I had a hard time really getting into the world that this story was set in. First of all the princes and princesses were descendants of one queen and king. They are ultimately bred to have as much of the original bloodline. I’m not sure if the writer thought about this, but sounds like a LOT of incest to me, and it just made me rather uncomfortable, sure, 500 years later there’s quite a few generational lines they can choose from, but I mean, the second generation? In order for it to be a pure blood they would have had to have children with their siblings, or eww, their parent. I am probably thinking too hard on it, but it really just made me egghhh. Anyway, the entire time, Ivy kept saying that she was a Princess that was a direct descendent of Myrna, the original queen….but all of the royalty should have been a direct descendant if they held that power.

The other thing I had issues with was that the war was all encompassing around the Evil Queen’s ambitions and all the creatures she was making, which was great and all, but sometimes during the action scenes little factoids would be introduced in the moment that created conflict with the characters. To me it made for some poor writing as the information wasn’t built up ahead of time that could have been used, the information was given at the moment for convenience sake. It’s not exactly bad, but in a world where there are so many books that are set up so well, it definitely doesn’t make it stand out as far as world building goes.

On a positive note, I loved how the world had construed the belief system on love and how it tied in with familial bonds and lust. I think it helped support the use of Kisses as a fighting tool rather than a romantic gesture.

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The Characters

I actually really liked Ivy and Zach. I loved how they were both very headstrong in what they believed and were willing to put their lives at risk for the safety of others. At times I did find Zach to be a little full of himself and honestly, quite a tease. But that really helped the dynamic between him and Ivy really falling for each other (if you can’t predict that yourself then I am sorry for spoiling that for you, because obviously that would happen).

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The Soundtrack

The Neighborhood – Stuck With Me

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Wotakoi

31826480

Wotakoi : Love is Hard for Otaku  by Fujita

3_stars

When childhood friends Narumi and Hirotaka run into each other as adults, it soon becomes evident that since they’re both adult otaku that they would make a good couple.

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The Story

So the story was quite promising for me. I thought it would be really cute to see two awkward characters navigate their relationship. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much about their actual romantic relationship that made me keep reading to see how they cope. Now it has been a few years since I was an avid manga reader/anime watcher. But I would have to say that I definitely focused on a lot of shoujo, slife-of-life, romance. So it makes me a little sad to say that this doesn’t have a lot of romance to it, and ends up really being shoujo, slice of life. Which in all honesty means it’s just little tid bits here and there but no real continuous story.

This first installment is mainly just about how the characters get together and the initial start to their relationship. All in all, not a lot really happens. However, so far, there are a lot of manga tropes happening that are sure to make readers happy. Some of these include BL/fujoshi, cosplay, and many old school anime references.

My question is, is it really enough to keep people interested? Where is the conflict that keeps the reader going from one volume to the next? Obviously so, since they’re making an anime out of it.

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The Characters

Aside from our stoic main male character and closet-otaku female character we are given two goofy side characters who are also in a relationship. While their relationship stems mostly of violence and arguing, it does add a little flavor to the manga itself.

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The Art

I think the real shining star for this manga is the art. With the larger bubbly eyes on the main female and the sleek slimmer features of the male characters, this manga is sure to draw attention to those in a post 2000 era. My favorite part might have been the clever in between chapter visuals that were provided, yes even the chibi versions. I am a sucker for chibi characters, they are just so darn cute.

For those not wildly as informed on Japanese culture as someone like me (studied Japanes, spent several months in Japan doing culture studies, as well as have been previously a minor otaku) they provide visual explanations at the end of the chapters explaining the references that go far more in depth than just the *foot notes that are included in scantalations.

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The Diminished

35140574

The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

Publish Date: 4/10/2018
ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

3_stars

Vi has lived her whole life a diminished since her twin died so young. Her whole life she has spent tampering down her temper and envying all the twins, not because of the privileges they have, but for the wholeness they have. Bo is a singleborn and soon to be named heir to the throne of Asklad. Their lives somehow intertwine despite the fact that Vi is headed to a life of servitude and Bo a life of luxury.

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The Story

This story wasn’t much like anything I read, however, that doesn’t mean it was the best thing I read. The biggest feat this book provided was a complex world that I haven’t seen in any other book. Unfortunately world building isn’t everything, and the lack of a plot that actually created the desire to continue the book had me wishing that the story would just get on with it.

The pacing was a little off kilter, as sometimes having multiple POV can cause. There were times where one character had several chapters dedicated to their voyage over, while the other character has little mention to the same voyage. Too much time was spent on food. I’m not joking, there were so many moments in the book where the author spent a lot of time describing the food they ate. While it adds to some aesthetic appeal in the world, it didn’t actually add anything to the actual story.

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The World Building

The Alskad empire provided quite a bit of world building. There is a rich history that we are briefly introduced on that explains why everyone, except the select few chosen to rule, is born with a twin. I wish it was explained a bit more thoroughly the ramifications early on what the loss of someone’s twin can cause, not just the fact that they are called a dimmy, looked down upon, and at some point succumb to a rage. I did love the idea of the connection that the twins could feel from each other and what it meant to the relationship they had and how it built them as a characters.

I think one of the biggest points this book offers is a world where there is LGTBQA+ rep that naturally flows. Because a singleborn can be born from anyone, not just an already established royal family, it was not stressed for royal relationships to be hetero to provide further heirs to the empire. With that understanding, the culture of the people seemed to be open to whatever orientation someone chose, without batting a lash or making a big deal out of it. It was simply a normality.

Another aspect that was woven in was the oldfashioned male/female roles were reversed. Jobs such as “papergirl” or the captain of a ship being a woman were just a few ways that emphasized the point of the traditional male dominate world was not coalescent with the one featured in the book.divider

The Characters

Bo-Though he was such a naive little brat, his intentions are good, so he falls into what most may consider the cinnamon roll category. The entire time I wanted to slap his hand and tell him to stop being so trusting and put him in my back pocket for safe keeping. His vulnerability made him sweet and likable.

Vi-This girl has the fierce loyalty that everyone wants in a best friend. I enjoyed reading her character arc as she went from a girl focused on just surviving to a girl with a mission.

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The Soundtrack

Blonde Redhead – Spring and by Summer Fall

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The Maze Runner

6186357

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner

2_stars

Thomas wakes up in a cage that brings him up out of the ground into a glade that is surrounded by a Maze, that 50ish boys have yet to solve. He doesn’t remember anything but his name, and he knows nothing about where he is. Except he also has a deep seeded feeling that he should be running and solving the maze. His arrival to the glade seems to trigger a series of events that cause a panic amongst the gladers as they determine that their time there is nearing an end.

The Story

I’ve read this book twice now, and to be honest, the movie was not that far off, I mean granted YES they did change a few things, but honestly it was probably for the best and made it so that a viewer could understand since, you know, we aren’t in the heads of the characters. **Now, please keep in mind this is only for the first book. The second movie had me completely lost as far as following the story in the book**.

Here’s the most frustrating thing about this book. A kid wakes up in a box inside a maze, and everyone is basically being a jerk to him because he’s asking questions. They are all like “we’ll tell you later”. Really? What a bunch of a-holes, or what they like to say “shuck-face”, because they have all been in that situation, you would think they would be a little more empathetic. So the story revolves around a bunch of teenage boys being jerks, running in a maze, and then a girl arrives, and all hell breaks loose. By the end of the book, you’re just as confused as the beginning because you get pretty much zero answers about what is going on. Really, that was the only thing that was really driving me through, the what the heck is actually happening, and the ending was intriguing enough to keep me going into the next book.

The World Building

So there’ really isn’t a lot going on here. We have some boys in a maze. I think the biggest part of this book is that it’s setting the pretense that WICKED is something to do with the maze, why they’re there. The real question they are all wondering is if WICKED is good? Despite what Teresa says, you still get an ominous feeling from WICKED since they put a bunch of kids in a freaking maze with monstrous creatures.

I would like to point out that the slang in the book was a little unnecessary. Just because a few boys are living in a secluded place for a few years doesn’t mean they need to make up their own words. It actually was severely lost on me for the simple reason that they kids know everything about basic living – they all had their memories wiped. Meaning they still remember basic conversational skills, writing, etc….why would they feel the need to make up new words? If Dashner was trying to tone it down for young readers, he probably should have skipped a story that included so many people dying from gruesome deaths. Just saying.

The Characters

Thomas is boring. I hate Thomas. He has this I’m special and I know it, everyone follow me while I figure out how to solve all these problems type of complex. Seriously, in case you don’t know it, but Thomas is

The Soundtrack

AFI – The Leaving Song Pt. II

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The Dating Debate

38086189The Dating Debate (Dating Dilemmas #1) by Chris Cannon

3_stars

Publish date: February 5, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Crush for an ARC for a fair review.

Despite not liking Valentine’s Day, or many other holidays for that matter, Nina finds herself the object of a lie when West says they are going to a dance together. Not one to go back on her word, Nina insists that they stick to what they said was happening. The closer the dance comes the more she starts to get to know West, except he’s keeping something important from her, and the one thing she hates most is being lied to and feeling unwanted.

The Story-This will be my fourth Chris Cannon book (previously reviewed: The Boomerang Boyfriend , Blackmail Boyfriend, The Boyfriend Bet. I decided to give her yet another go because I just a sucker for Entangled Crush books. In the world of judgement upon adults reading YA books, this is probably where I have zero shame. I like reading about silly teen kids juggling their fragile hearts. Maybe it’s just nice to get away from some of the heavier fantasy world building. Cannon tends to stick with the same basic formula with her stories, and I think in this book was one of her better stories. As far as YA contemporary it’s not awful, but it’s not the most amazing thing I have read. If you are easily eye-rolled over cute cringey-ness I would say to stay away from this book, in fact…any Entangled Crush book if it wasn’t obvious enough. But if you’re a fan non graphic (hugs, hand holding, & kissing only), dual POV of confused swoony teens then by all means, read it.

There were a few things that were just a little off as far as this book went for me. One being that sometimes the characters didn’t really speak their age. I don’t know any American teenage that would full on say “lets watch television” when as a norm we say “TV” or even a much more relevant term of asking to binge watch some Netflix would have fit the story a bit better.

There was this instance where one of the characters Googles the number for the police. As in, he had to look up the number for 911. Now before you go and point out that maybe he was looking for the crime check number for a non emergent reason, let me just say that the reason for calling the police warranted the actual 911. A full grown teenager should know one of the most memorable phone number besides 867-5309 (now that warrants an okay reason for a Millenial to Google a number)

What I did like was that, though this was a typical YA contemporary, it was pretty void of any generalized girl hate, there wasn’t an excessive amount of half smirking boys, and there was minimal mention to anything happening to our protagonists’ bodily functions (blushing, feeling hot, stomachs turning, skin tingling).

The Characters- Nina was continually referred to as a hippy chick and I found no instance in the book that made me think that. I’m not sure if it was in reference to her natural instinct to hand out hugs or for her and her mom to try and feed people when they come over. Neither of these traits scream hippy to me.

Another thing that bothered me was that Nina was supposed to be this huge book nerd, but only Harry Potter references filled the book, and a LOT of them. Now I am a fan of the ol’ HP, but come on, here is a girl that a lot of us can relate to: stays up late reading, ogles book cases, is excited about going to the library or bookstore…but in reality, we don’t ONLY refer to Harry Potter.

West was supposed to be this brooding hottie next door, and rather than calling the guy broody, introvert probably would have fit better. Broody gives me the impression that he is perpetually angry, when he really wasn’t, just more or less kept to himself and told his neighbors to stay on their side of the driveway.

I liked that both characters had personalities that were obviously stemmed from their home lives and how their family drama and experiences have honed how they react. Nina’s perpetual need to stick to commitments and telling the truth as well as West’s tidiness as well as dislike of having things are both reasonable reactions to what has happened in their lives.

The Soundtrack- Taylor Swift – Call it What You Want

 

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The Upside of Falling Down

33285662The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

3_stars

Publish Date: 1/30/2018
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for a fair review.

“Just when you think your life is over, a new story line falls from the sky and lands right in your lap.” 

When Clementine wakes up in an Irish hospital without her memories she decides she needs to rediscover herself in order for them to return. The only thing she knows is she is a lone survivor of a plane crash, her name is Clementine, she’s from Cleveland, Ohio and she’s not ready to face the father that came all the way to get her because she can’t let the man down knowing that she doesn’t remember him at all.

A chance meeting with a guy named Kieran gives Clementine the opportunity she needs to try to get away from everything as she tries to figure out her past life and where she wants to go from there. The more she continues to lie to Kieran the more she starts to fall for the guy, and she’s not even sure if she would be willing to give up her new identity for the life she’s been trying to recover.

The Story– For me, this book was a solid middle grounder . The beginning was interesting enough, hooking me into who this girl could be, and I felt lost right with her. I was eager to see her set off onto her adventure with Kieran as she tries to figure out who she was. Unfortunately the middle sort of lagged. I started to lose interest as the book went into a mundane routine for her while she was staying with Kieran. Despite being with him for three weeks, their interactions were minimal, and when they did start spending time together we basically got a summary of what they did. This made the romance seem superficial especially considering the decisions made towards the end of the book. This also made the ending feel a bit rushed since a lot of time was spent doing, essentially nothing.

The book also had the opportunity to really spend a lot more time involving the fact that she was in Ireland. Despite dropping certain city names, Guinness,  and maybe some cozy sweaters, there really wasn’t an extra Irish vibe. I think if some time was spent diving into the area  little bit more would have provided for a little extra flavor in the story.

The Characters-Despite the lack of substantial romance, I did really like the characters. Clementine and Kieran both were very strong with facing their fears and tackling what is set in front of them. Clementine made for a very likeable person that you wanted to root on because she seemed so genuinely nice, and granted she was lying, her motives were still, for the most part, pure. Sometimes I did feel like she put herself into a situation where she was desperately forcing herself into the lives to those who had taken her in, and I honestly felt that she was crossing some boundaries with them given the situation. Somehow her escape equated to them having to spend time and be friends with her.

The Soundtrack– Switchfoot – Dare you to Move

 

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Artemis

34928122Artemis by Andy Weir

3_stars

“It’s a simple idiot-proofing scheme that’s very effective. But no idiot-proofing can overcome a determined idiot.” 

Jazz is a smuggler in the only moon colony, Artemis, where the rich go to vacation, and the rest manage a blue collar life. She’s got a big debt to pay, and smuggling is her ticket to getting enough money to pay it off. When an opportunity arises that is perfect for more than one area of her expertise, she is hesitant to accept, until she finds out it would not only pay off her enormous debt but set her out of slumming it. After taking the job, Jazz finds that paying off her debts is the least of her worries.

The Story– First off, let me say that I didn’t read the Martian, and I only watched part of the movie, let’s just blame that on lack of time to finish it rather than lack of interest. So as a disclaimer, I can in no way compare this to Weir’s other book.

So, the story itself was entertaining enough. Although, I sometimes got a little bit tired of the welding and equipment jargon. Whenever my eyes glazed over a paragraph of that, I never felt that I missed anything particularly important enough to reread a paragraph…as in it could have been summarized or omitted altogether. If I took a shot every time Jazz said this is totally doable because of the gravity on the moon versus what you would expect on Earth I would be completely plastered. Seriously, get on with the story already.

The World Building-Okay, so I would like to say that any time there is some sort of acronym put in a book, it should be spelled out completely first. I was pretty annoyed that I had to google what EVA was…which is apparently “extravehicular activity”. Maybe this was defined in The Martian, but come on, new reader here, I don’t care how convenient it is to google something or even if it’s such a basic space term I should know. It’s just common courtesy to spell out an acronym…Okay vent over.

I liked this little space colony and how it sort of made me think of a futuristic western with one sheriff in town, but no real solid law. The idea of all these different countries having specialties that they have imported or contributed to the city was pretty cool. I do wish that there was a little bit more culture thrown in there besides a little snippet of Muslim prayer/bowing habits…and a few stereotypes of hispanic cartel, Asian’s and rice, etc…The community vibe was pretty awesome, but I did expect for Jazz to have a little more recognition throughout the community being a porter…especially with the population being so low.

The Characters– I liked that Jazzy was unapologetic about how she was. She bent the rules about shipping a little sure, but didn’t bring anything really harmful. She can be a snarky asshole, but it’s just widely accepted for her personality. She’s wicked smart and underutilizing her skills as a porter in Artemis. She isn’t too proud to ask for assistance from someone, but is willing to pay up for it without any hesitation.

I really wished that we got to meet Kelvin instead of just through e-mails. I liked his detached role through the book, but never felt any sort of connection from him.

The Soundtrack– Portugal the Man –Tidal Wave

 

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Graffiti Moon

7863274Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

3_stars

Lucy is in love with Shadow through the art that he has sprayed all over town. Over the night of celebrating the last day of year 12, she and her friends embark on a mission to find him. When she does find Shadow he isn’t exactly who she had in mind, except that he is.

The Story– Okay, so despite this being a teenage romantic contemporary, it was far from the angsty stuff that we’re all used to. In fact, there are very few scenes were our characters were nervous about being near another, there insides getting all warm and tingly, or were there very few scenes where they boy has twinkling eyes of galaxies and smiles worth a million bucks.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a lot going to drive the plot to the end aside from the ramblings of artsy kids, who thankfully I can just slightly relate to (being married to an artist and all). I think for someone who isn’t very artsy or appreciates poetry might find the book a little convoluted. With that being said, I still think it sets itself apart from the rest since it isn’t the same dumbed down angst we usually get from YA contemporary.

The Characters-What made this book particularly special were that all these kids were from broken/poor homes, but weren’t exactly gripping about it either. They accepted where they were at in the social level without pointing it out. We had these kids that didn’t have any silver spoons, but still saw the world through gilded frames. Look, this book has me writing all metaphorically. Let’s stop that, because I don’t like to come off having feelings and what have you.

The Soundtrack– Elliott Smith – Twilight

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