[Book Review] Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki & illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

*** Note: this review contains spoilers, and the below discussion deals with psychologically abusive relationships and teen pregnancy. *** Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is a graphic novel about a young woman named Freddy and her relationship with Laura Dean, who keeps breaking up with her then acting as if they're back together again. The illustrations are beautiful, and I love the hint of pink on each page that serve as the only additional color aside from the black and white. Pink is a rather feminine color, yet I like to think the pink tint represents the borderline love that Freddy feels; it isn't full-tilt bright red love. It's dampened, faded, a little worn. It's a kind of love you've carried for a while, even as it fades.

[Book Review] The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

I first fell in love with Holly Black when I was much younger and she was co-writing the Spiderwick Chronicles with Tony DiTerlizzi. The books were small, sleek hardbacks illustrated by DiTerlizzi, and I adored them. The books and the accompanying Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You was the seed of my obsession with all things faery and folk. One of the greatest things about Holly Black is that, for the most part, she stays in that category of fae writing, but we don't get the same world and characters recycled over and over again. The Darkest Part of the Forest, for example, is far different from the Spiderwick Chronicles, even though both deal with the fantastical realm of faeries.

[Book Review] Kind of A Big Deal by Shannon Hale

Josie Pie was kind of a big deal in high school. The star of the school play, she is encouraged by her theater instructor to travel to New York to audition for a role on Broadway. Josie Pie is going places! But. Turns out, being a big deal in high school doesn't guarantee you a spot on Broadway. Scared of returning to school a failure, Josie stays in New York, racking up debt on a credit card and living in a hostel, then briefly on the street, before getting a job as a nanny for a rich woman.

[Book Review] Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett

Amy Falls Down is the sequel to The Writing Class; however, I read Amy Falls Down first (I haven't read The Writing Class yet), and it stands up on its own as a novel. There is what I assume to be several spoilers of the ending of the first book, but other than that, Amy Falls Down works as its own novel. Amy is a novelist who hasn't written for decades. She prefers the hermit life, but one day she takes a tumble in her garden, hitting her head on the bird bath and coming to some time later. Amy's fall triggers a string of events which somehow lead to her being rediscovered as a novelist.

[Book Review] All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

Advertised as reminiscent of classic Agatha Christie novels and blurbed as being like the cast of The Breakfast Club meets murder mystery, this book set up expectations of unexpected twists and notable characters . . . and ultimately disappointed. All Your Twisted Secrets takes the cast (or core concept) of Breakfast Club and reduces everyone to a caricature. There's the bitchy Queen B, the jock, the classic stoner, et cetera; however, each of these characters is so tightly type cast that the end result is a lack of personality.

[Book Review] Tender by Belinda McKeon

Tender is set in Ireland and written with a dialect. There are several words and phrases in the novel that may be hard to understand if you aren't familiar with Irish lingo, but the dialect isn't anywhere near as bad as the Scottish dialect in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh. Rather, in this novel, the dialect works to remind you of the Irish setting without overwhelming you with culture-specific lingo.

[Book Review] Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

I considered reviewing each book in this trilogy individually, but since I sped through them all so quickly, I felt a comprehensive review of the entire series may be more beneficial for readers. I never like to start a series until I know all of the books are out so that I don't have to spend a year or more in the torturous realm of waiting for the next book to come out, if it ever does. It is, however, hard to discuss a series without letting a few mild spoilers slip, so proceed with caution. I will try to limit the number of spoilers to just the synopsis for each book.

[Book Review] What Are You Going Through? by Sigrid Nunez

The vibe of this book is reminiscent of stream of consciousness in that there isn’t a solid plot throughout the novel; rather, it’s more of an overarching theme of grief and stagnation and this oppressive feeling that there is a crisis at hand yet you have no idea how to handle the crisis, let alone identify and clearly articulate the crisis.

[Book Review] The Stand by Stephen King

As an initial disclaimer, I read the complete and uncut edition of this novel. Published by Doubleday and coupled with a sporadic number of black-and-white illustrations, this edition clocks in at 1,153 pages. The cut version, according to a quick google search, sits at 823 pages, and a perhaps less hefty version (in terms of size and width of the pages) of the uncut edition is around 1,300 pages. That said, based on the edition I read, I would say that even the condensed version is still too long.