So I’ve been super into Bob’s Burgers recently, and you know that groaning sound Tina makes every time she’s uncomfortable? That’s the sound I made the entire time I was reading Noughts and Crosses My Malorie Blackman, although not because I was feeling awkward but rather because I was wondering how the hell this book got published.

Okay, no, I know why it got published. Because it’s supposed to be ~mindbreaking~ and ~revolutionary~ because, wow, look at that! White people are the minority! Imagine that world!

Turns out, it’s IDENTICAL to the one we live in, just with a different skin tone for the colonizer.

Anyone who claims this book is “original” clearly doesn’t live in the same universe I do. And yeah, I get it. It’s a reversal. It’s making people– white people– the tragic past and present of black people, and the discrimination they face on a daily basis. You’re supposed to read this book and be furious about that happens to Callum so that you can take a step back and realize that the prejudice in this book exists in your world too, albeit in a different form. But when I read it, all I felt was bored.

Here’s a quick summary:

Callum and Sephy are best friends, but Callum is from the underclass– noughts, who are white skinned– and Sephy is from the ruling class– Crosses, who are dark skinned. Sephy doesn’t understand Callum’s life, and Callum and his family are tired of the prejudice and discrimination they face. They try to maintain a friendship that develops into something more despite the barriers set against them in the society in which they live.

So the plot is okay-sounding, right? And it plays out okay too. The beginning is definitely a lot less interesting than the ending, and by the midway point I actually found myself kind of enjoying the story. It’s not original, and felt a lot like To Kill a Mockingbird at some points, and like Mockingjay at other points, but that’s kind of what made it good. Who doesn’t love a good revolution? But, unfortunately, these parts of the book come a bit too late, and by then I was already begging for this book to end.

You might be asking yourself why? Why does this poor book reviewer hate this book so much when she hasn’t really said anything too terrible about it? Sure, it’s not groundbreaking, but not all books have to be! Most stories follow the same basic plot, that’s nothing to hate a book about! So why, oh why, does she hate it so bad?

Two reasons:

First off, the relationship between Callum and Sephy. It. Is. A. Plot. Point. If I wasn’t told repeatedly that they’re best friends and that they love each other, I never would have known. In fact, I probably would have thought that they were entirely apathetic towards each other. There was zero chemistry. They didn’t get along, they had nothing in common, they didn’t understand each other at all. But but but they were childhood friends! Yeah and big deal. I grew apart from my friends, and by all means, they really should have grown apart too. Hell, the story would have been ONE HUNDRED times better if they grew apart and ended up hating each other and then were thrust back together when the plot required it. Boring and uninspired. That’s what I would call their relationship. The romance was sloppy, the characters annoying at best, and uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. A forced romance, used only to make the plot work. The worst crime you could commit against your characters.

And second– the writing is atrocious. At first, I was willing to forgive it. “Oh,” I said to myself, “it sounds like a 13 year old wrote this because Sephy is thirteen! It’s meant to highlight how young and immature they are!” And I think I was partially right, because as the characters age, the writing does improve– slightly. But boy oh boy, is it ever immature. It’s so sophisticated, and it makes me wonder if anyone ever sat the author down and told her she’s not a very good writer. It’s a lot of exclamation points– including in internal thoughts– and a lot of dumb questions and a lot of “yeuck!” “as if!” “haha, funny one, Sephy!” type stuff. I wanted to pull my hair out. The writing not only took me away from the story, but it made me dislike the characters, and it made every emotionally scene fizzle away.

I didn’t hate this book. I called it garbage and I really, really disliked it, but I didn’t hate it. I appreciate its attempts to explain race, and I appreciate its accessibility. I probably would have loved the hell out of this book if I was 13 (except I would have hated the Thing that happens at the end– not the very end, but the Thing that leads to the very end). But I’m not 13. I’ve lived in this world, and I’ve read some good books.

Enough to decide that this one is not very good.

1 star out of 5.



GRACELING: A Book Review

Um. So. I think it’s safe to say that this is the worst book I read in 2017.


Graceling by Kristin Cashore sounds like a cool book. In a sentence, it’s about a girl who has a gift for killing. Sounds amazing right? Wrong. I was very wrong.

I didn’t like the plot. I didn’t like the romance. I didn’t like anything, except for the characters. But even they were ruined, as they became nothing more than overpowered Mary-Sues. Thinking back on it now, did Po even have a personality, or was he just a flat romantic interest? Even Katsa– who should, by all means be a horrible person and completely badass and chaotically good– is nothing less than some perfect person who never suffers consequence and has everything handed to her. I wanted to like her but ugh. When it comes down to it, these characters are utterly empty.

The plot is so boring. I kept reading and reading, suffering through the first 100 pages where nothing happened. Then, things began to happen and I thought “oh hey, here we go” but…… NOTHING. HAPPENS. It’s so flat, flat, flat. Is there even a plot? It felt like a lot of traveling to a place they never get to. What is a climax? This book doesn’t know. Maybe it needs to retake grade 9 English and learn about “plot maps” and what is “rising action” and how to write a climatic scene.

But the worst… the absolute worst… is the fighting. So Katsa’s gift, her graceling, is supposedly killing, which means she’s this fantastic fighter, a master in the art of war. Great!, you’re thinking, this book is going to have awesome fighting sequences! And guess what? You are entirely wrong! The fighting scenes in this book are TERRIBLE: they’re either completely skipped over and written so sloppy you can’t follow what happens.

The premise of this book is cool, but the story and execution are horrible. In the end, this book is nothing more than a lot of words.

I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE: a book review

Some books have many different names. This is one of them.


I Know This Much Is True is the perfect name for Wally Lamb’s novel. It’s true that Dominick, our protagonist, doesn’t seem to know much, even about his own life. He doesn’t understand why his twin is mentally ill and he isn’t. He doesn’t know who his father is. He doesn’t get so much about the world he lives in, and what he writes in these pages is all he knows for sure.

Yet, I Know This Much Is True could go by many different names.

It could easily become “Fathers and Sons,” one of the major themes in this work. What is a father, and how does a father’s life influence his offspring? Dominick has difficulty coming to terms with what “fatherhood” means to him, and indeed, considers himself fatherless because he never knew who his father was. Questions of fatherhood haunt the text.

It could also be called “Mirror Image” because that’s what Dominick and Thomas are. As twins, they share a life, yet live lives that are so different from each other. The idea of singularity, and two becoming one is also a theme that runs abundant in the text. As well, the twins are said to be mirror images to their grandfather, a man they never met. Thus, questions of identity and self, and how two things alike can be so different yet the same, are crucial to the story.

Or maybe “Generational” due to the importance of family. Above all else, this is a family epic. Although it does not span generations, it’s about the Birdsey family, and how history repeats itself, and how your past can shape everything about you.

To put it short, the novel follows Dominick who is struggling to put the pieces of his life together while everything falls apart. I went into the book knowing nothing, and maybe it’s best you do the same, because describing what happens is only going to bore you. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but it is. It’s a story of a man, being his brother’s keeper. It’s a story of a man, trying to find his father. It’s a story of a man, falling apart so he can put himself back together.

It’s a story about life, plain and simple as that.

But it’s astoundingly beautiful.

I tore through pages, reading them as fast as my eyes allowed, yet I read very few a day because I had to rest, had to let the story sit with me, so I could contemplate its meanings. It’s a sad story, without a doubt, but I think there’s a glimmer of hope in it too.

It will hurt, but it will be worth reading. Trust me.


Most people won’t like this book. Luckily, I am not most people.
Do you love magic in the every day? Do you love lush prose that you could fall into? Do love books where you can’t explain them to anyone else because “nothing happens” even if so much does? Do you love character pieces that bring life into the words on a page? Do you love omnipresent narration that makes it seem like the story is being told to you by your grandmother who knows all? Do you love the bizarre and the magical and the strangely beautiful? If so, then you are also not most people.

The thing about Maggie Stiefvater is that she gets better and better with each book she writes. All the Crooked Saints is not a perfect novel, nor does it pretend to be. Like the title suggests, it’s skewed: from the characters to the writing to the story itself, you can’t help but feel that there is something unbalanced, something not being said that needs to be. And that’s okay. It is this imperfect, this “well that doesn’t make any sense” that makes the book so charming.

Don’t read this book if you are looking for answers, because you won’t find anything. Read this book if you are searching for something you can’t articulate, something that exists in that place beyond your dreams.

I love this book. I love it with every inch of me. I can’t wait to reread and reread and reread, and discover that darkness inside me that I’m not sure if I want to name. If anything, All the Crooked Saints teaches you that that brokenness inside of you can define you, but it doesn’t have to. But beyond that, it teaches you that you don’t have to deal with it alone.

 5 owls out of 5.


Sometimes, books make you cry because they’re sad. Sometimes, you cry because you’re filled with joy. And sometimes, you cry because finally someone gets it.


Full disclosure: I love John Green. For some reason, everyone decided it was time to make fun of him, and suddenly it wasn’t cool to read John Green, but he is one of my favourite authors because every single one of his books holds up a mirror and whispers see? There you are.  Turtles is no exception. In fact, I see myself more in Turtles than I have in maybe any other book I have ever read.

Aza is a character that has wrapped her way around my heart. I know this girl, because I am that girl, in many different ways. She’s so personal which makes her charming and also very real. I don’t feel like she’s been “smoothed” down; she’s allowed to keep her sharp edges that might make her wonderfully imperfect.

Maybe you’re not an Aza though. Maybe you’re a Davis, who has problems of his own that are quieter, but still permeate the text. Or maybe you’re a Daisy, who wishes someone would listen to the problems she has for once. Every character is so entirely human, and fractured, and for lack of a better term, lovable. I honestly feel like I read a book about me and my closest friends.

Turtles is both personal and subtle.  The writing style is beautiful (as Green’s writing always is) but I found it to be much simpler than his previous works. It’s still wordy, and has metaphors that make you sigh, but it’s all toned down, letting Aza’s quietness reflect the story she’s telling. Plus, it makes the “loud” parts that much more effective.

Now for what you all want to know: yes, there is a romance plot, but no, this is not a love story nor a romantic book. It is entirely Aza’s story, and the true love story in this book is not between Aza and Davis, but Aza and Daisy. Their friendship soars, and that’s the plot that’s going to squeeze your little heart.

Turtles is John Green without being “John Green.” It’s not a quirky romance, but a true story that reflects the reality of having anxiety in the information age. It’s not as beautifully heart-wrenching as Looking for Alaska, nor as romantically devastating as The Fault in Our Stars, but it is subtle and personal and quiet, which is sometimes all you want a book to be.

And yes, the ending made me cry. In the best, most wonderful way.

5 turtle backs out of 5

A Little Light

It’s not hard to see that I haven’t been reviewing books as frequently. I have no need for excuses; the truth is the easiest way to explain. And the truth is this: the internet has been a dark, dark place and being on it for too long sets my brain aflame.

We live in dark times. One simply has to turn on the news to see the darkness that feasts upon the world. What people tend to forget is that the world has always been dark: there have always been wars, and discrimination, and fear, and the few controlling the plenty. Indeed, we exist in the safest point in history. But if there has always been dark, then the opposite is true too: there is always, always light.

I find my light in books. Some days, the darkness overwhelms and I have to read a lighthearted young adult romance, or a children’s lit adventure. Sometimes, I crave escape, and the world of fantasy calls me. In these books, I find a form of reassurance: while reading of a world so different from my own, I come to understand my life. Sometimes, I read the bleakest stories I can find, the ones with no happy ending that leave your pages crinkled from free-falling tears. In these books, my heart hurts, then it is reborn. I can heal with these characters and let out all the sadness that rests in my soul.

No matter what you read, you will understand. There is something that comes out, illuminating the words on the page and igniting emotion in your heart. Search for books that make you feel. Search for books that make you believe. Search for books that speak to what you cannot say.

Find your light.

Find it, and never let it go.


Wow. Okay. So Shaun David Hutchinson is definitely not a “one book wonder.” Yes, We Are The Ants is a masterpiece, but don’t forget this little gem either because– wow.


Hutchinson’s books are weird. At The Edge of the Universe is the 3rd book of his I’ve read, and they’re all the types of books that get you VERY strange looks when you try to explain them to someone. Don’t you understand that the disappearing universe is a metaphor, but it’s one that feels very real to our protagonist? That’s where the brilliance in this novel lies; as you read the book, you *know* the universe isn’t *really* shrinking, which means that you can’t trust the narrator, which makes you wonder… what else is he hiding? And yet, to Ozzie, the shrinking universe is very real, so it’s easy to get swept up in that aspect which makes you wonder yet again– why is the universe shrinking? What has happened to Ozzie to cause it to shrink? The novel provides answers that are thorough enough to satisfy the reader but vague enough to leave you thinking about it for long after you’ve finished.

A few days ago, a YA author I admire tweeted how he wished there were more YA novels where bad things happen to the protagonist, which essentially boils down to this: books where the ending isn’t tied with a perfect red bow. I love messy protagonists, and messy stories where your heart hurts at the end but you know something has changed in the protagonist, and maybe in you too.

If you like messy books with satisfying ends that pain you, even just a little bit, then this is a book for you.

Because trust me. It’s messy. And it might hurt. But it’s worth it.

It’s a lot like love and life in that way, isn’t it?

4 starless skies out of 5