“The Symptoms of My Insanity”—A Book Review


The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf…to be perfectly honest, I’m not totally sure what I thought about it.

This book starts out in the fashion of the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison. Thus, I began this novel with the mindset that it was going to be hilarious and have me laughing the whole way through. For example, when the story begins, the main character, Izzy, is in a fitting room at a lingerie store getting fitted for new bras, having already outgrown the ones she got at the start of the school year:

“Mom’s always saying how I look just like dad’s mom, Grandma Rose, when she was sixteen. She dug up and showed me an old picture of her and, she’s right, I do. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that now Grandma Rose is a four-foot-ten-inch-tall, eighty-three-year-old woman with gargantuan breasts that take over her entire bra-less body. Really, I should just bolt out of Lola’s Lingerie right now. What’s the point of spending money on bras when I’m going to end up a short, eighty-three-year-old woman with dangle boobs?”

Funny, right? And you get the impression right away that Izzy’s mom is one of those Stepford Moms that won’t be caught dead without her lip gloss applied and her hair perfect, expecting every girl in school to be perfect models of “young ladies.” So of course, she’s horrified when a rumor goes around school about a girl giving head in one of the bathroom stalls. To which Izzy (as follows with the humor at the start of the book) replies:

“Yes Mom, it’s true. All the girls at school pleasure boys in the bathroom stalls. How else are we supposed to get them to like us?”

But the thing is, I guess I felt like I was mislead into reading this novel. The “funny” wears off quickly and the book takes a dramatic turn. You soon find out that Izzy’s mom has a rare stomach cancer and because of this (and her mom not actually talking to her about her illness), Izzy is a bit of a hypochondriac. Anytime she feels even a little “off,” she automatically jumps to the conclusion that something is horribly wrong with her and that she has one of the diseases that she’s read about on the internet. Izzy’s hypochondria is so bad that several times she mistakes a simple panic attack for some life threatening illness.

“Why am I so dizzy? Why can’t I get in a good breath? I shuffle through what I know. Hypoglycemia? Lyme? Or no—oh, no. Breast lumps metastasizing? If I feel this sick, it has to be in advanced stages. Okay no, just relax, breathe. You can breathe.

Like I said, it stopped being funny pretty early on. There is a lot of school drama and some good heartfelt coming-of-age stuff, but because I felt falsely lead in to reading a comedy that isn’t really a comedy, I found myself not really wanting to read it anymore. I kind of had to make myself finish it.

All in all, I give this book 3 stars. It was a pretty decent book, I was just looking for something that this book was not.

“Die For Me”—A Book Review


“There was something dangerous about him, as there was about all the revenants. Just knowing that a fatal accident could be right around the corner must make humans more cautious, a trait that Vincent and his fellow revenants didn’t possess. Their lack of fear of injury, or even death, gave them a reckless confidence that was both thrilling and terrifying.”

Die For Me by Amy Plum completely plunged me into the romantic world that is Paris: Tiny cafés, the Seine River, The City of Lights. Now just add to that a romance with an otherworldly, dangerous, beautiful guy and you have yourself a recipe for a thrilling, amorous tale!

Both of Kate’s parents have died, leaving her and her older sister Georgia to pack up their New York lives and move to Paris to live with their grandparents. While Georgia deals with her grief by partying and being a social butterfly, Kate closes herself off to everything and everyone, finding solace only through the escape of reading.

“I had begun to feel like I was encased in a layer of ice. I was cold inside. But I clung to the coldness for dear life: Who knew what would happen if I let the ice thaw and actually began to feel things again?”

 “My mom said I was an escapist at heart…that I preferred imaginary worlds to the real one. It’s true that I’ve always been able to yank myself out of this world and plunge myself into another.”

But then, Kate meets Vincent: dark wavy hair, piercing blue eyes, chiseled features all over. As Kate starts to spend time with Vincent, slowly the ice begins to melt. However, when things seem too good to be true, it’s usually because they are.

You see, Vincent isn’t a normal human guy. He and his “family” have a specific destiny they are ordained to fulfill. This particular fate scares the crap out of Kate, and she tries to run from it—tries to wall herself up in the confines of her bedroom. But in the end, she just can’t resist the call to be with Vincent—finally ready to open her heart again.

Will Kate risk it all just to have her heart crushed again? Is letting herself love again worth the risk? You’ll just have to read this book and find out 😉

Four out of Five stars for this intriguing Paranormal Romance with a fascinating new lore.

Percy Jackson –A Book Rave and Movie Rant


The entire Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan was simply wonderful! Any fan of the Harry Potter series will fall in love with Percy Jackson and his oddball friends. These books will have even the most reluctant readers begging for more.

Percy Jackson has gotten kicked out of every school he has ever gone to. It’s not his fault…things just seem to happen around him. Things he has no explanation for and no control over. Add to it the fact that he is ADHD and dyslexic, school just flat out sucks for Percy.

Then, on his sixth grade school field trip, something insane happens…his pre-algebra teacher turns into a Fury and tries to kill him! He only survives because Mr. Brunner, his wheelchair-bound teacher, throws him a ball point pen that somehow turns into a sword when he uncaps it. The even stranger part…no one acknowledges that this near-death-event even happened. Even his best friend Grover, a kid with a handicap limp, says that Percy just imagined it.

While on vacation at a seaside cabin with his mom, shit gets real. Percy’s mom orders him to the car, where they embark upon a high-speed journey to a destination unbeknownst to Percy.  Somehow Grover ends up in the car with them and Percy discovers the startling truth: He is a demigod, birthed from one mortal parent and one Greek God, straight out of ancient Greek mythology. Also, it turns out that his best friend Grover is really a satyr—human from the waist up (if you ignore the small horns growing out of his curly hair) and goat from the waist down (this explains his “handicap” limp—all those years of stuffing goat hooves into tennis shoes).

The destination is Camp Half-Blood: A summer camp where a magical boarder keeps half-bloods safe from mythological monsters. You see, monsters can smell demigods…they sniff them out to try to kill them before they get old enough to learn how to fight. That’s what Camp Half-Blood is for: training young demigods how to battle mythological creatures.

Unfortunately, Percy is only at camp for a short while, and soon embarks upon a quest to try to prevent war from breaking out between the gods. You see, Zeus’s master lightning bolt is missing…and he is convinced that Percy has it! Thus, with his new friend, Annabeth Chase (daughter to Athena), and of course the trusty satyr Grover, Percy must travel to the underworld and back, searching for the lightning bolt. If he can find the bolt, and return it to Olympus (which just so happens to reside on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City), just maybe he can stop a war between Gods.

Great for kids and adults alike, the Percy Jackson series is not to be missed! These books are surprisingly full of wit and humor. And the Greek Mythology is extremely accurate, so you learn about all of the mythological legends in a fun way that doesn’t make your head hurt.  

Five Stars for the entire series!



Okay…now for the movie:

If you haven’t read any of the Percy Jackson books, I imagine the movie would be quite enjoyable. But for avid fans of the novels, it is extremely aggravating! They leave out SO MUCH!!!

First of all, let me start out by saying that I absolutely adore Logan Lerman, who portrays Percy Jackson. I have absolutely no beef with him. Great actor.

But the fact that they made all of the characters teenagers in the movie kind of irked me…they are supposed to be twelve-year-olds in The Lightening Thief. AND Annabeth is supposed to be a blonde…AND they didn’t even have her invisibility hat in the movie, which was a major part of the books. Plus, they add characters to the movie that don’t show up until Book 5 in the series! Little things like that throughout the movie and got on my nerves. They also left out some of my absolute favorite scenes and failed to show some major characters, namely the god of war, Ares.  

And Camp Half-Blood looked ALL wrong! The camp is supposed to be comprised of cabins around a central courtyard in a “U” shape. In the movie, they made it look like a primitive camp site with tents thrown out all willy-nilly.

Also, they don’t even make Percy have to figure out who his immortal father is…they’re just all like, “Oh, hey, B T Dubs, yo daddy is Poseidon, mmm kay?”

One thing I did really enjoy from the movie that they got mostly accurate is the Lotus Hotel scene. It was pretty bad ass J

All in all, I can only honestly give the movie two out of five stars. Maybe three stars at most.

I do have to say though, from what I’m seeing of the trailer, it looks like they are trying to correct all of their mistakes with the second movie, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. I guess they realized that Percy Jackson fans are abundant and were royally pissed with the outcome of the first movie. So fingers crossed and here’s to hoping!

“Altered”—A Book Review


Altered by Jennifer Rush…the only word I can think of to accurately describe this book is “meh.”

For the past several years, four boys have been held captive in Anna’s basement. Her father works for some organization called “The Branch” and does experiments and records data on their progress and whatnot, because the boys have somehow been “altered,” but how and for what purpose we never really find out. And now that Anna is old enough (at the age of sixteen), she gets to help.

Of course, Anna is madly in love with one of the boys (the stereotypical “hot guy” who is also kind). The three other guys have very stereotypical personalities as well, which kinda bugged me: You have your bad boy, your intellectual, and the playful puppy dog.

One day when The Branch comes in for a visit to check on the progress of the program, things go amiss and people get shot and the boys escape with Anna after her dad helps tells them to keep her safe. So now there are big scary agency type men after them, and they have to steal cars and keep a low profile, yadda yadda yadda.

So Anna and the guys hide out together, trying to decipher clues and learn who they are and when they entered The Branch (because their memories have naturally been wiped clean)and what The Branch planned to do with them. There are fights and shootings and mystery files….and that’s pretty much all that happens.

To be honest, from the summary on the inside cover of the book, I was kind of hoping for a least a little romance, but you are literally only given a snippet. Quite disappointing.

All in all I give this book two out of five stars. I was definitely not intrigued enough to read the sequel when it comes out.

“How to Save a Life”—A Book Review


How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr was a very absorbing read. This tale was very different from the stuff that I normally read, so I kind of surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it.

Jill hasn’t been the same since her dad passed away, and now her mom has decided to adopt a baby. But as if that idea, in and of itself, isn’t hard enough, it’s not a typical adoption. Mandy, the young pregnant girl wants to live with the family before she gives birth. Weird as it sounds, Jill’s mom agrees to Mandy’s terms. And so Mandy comes to live with Jill and her mom in the months leading up to the birth of the baby.

This book is told in alternate narratives from Jill and Mandy’s points of view. It was very intriguing hearing the dramatic difference in the voices of these two teens, even though they are roughly the same age. While Jill is very closed off and pissed at the world, damaging any relationship that comes her way, Mandy is extremely naïve and almost childlike. Along the way you find out that Mandy has not had a very pleasant childhood, being brought up by a mother that has made it clear all of her life that she never wanted a child. And while Mandy was exposed to some pretty harsh truths at a very young age, her intellectual growth seems to be stuck somewhere around middle school.

Jill doesn’t trust Mandy, and is a total bitch to her from the start. Mandy is a compulsive liar, feeling like she has to keep the truth of herself and her past hidden. Mandy feels that if Jill’s mom knows the truth, she won’t go through with the adoption, and Mandy wants her baby to have a good life and a good mom, but the reality is…Mandy really just needs a mom herself. And Mandy not only lies to Jill’s mom…she seems to lie to everyone in order to receive attention, and struggles with the boundaries of real and fantasized relationships.

I’m telling you, even though Mandy seems like a complete dumbass and I just wanted to reach through the pages and strangle her most of the time, I could not put this book down. The dynamics between the characters were simply riveting. And of course, the more you read on, the more the story pulls you in. Will these girls learn how to let go and when to hold on?

I give this book four out of five stars. Definitely worth the read.

“The Maze Runner”—A Book Review *movie being filmed*


The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a thrilling book fans of The Hunger Games are sure to enjoy.

Thomas wakes up in a steel elevator, having no memory, other than his name. He still knows basic skills and objects, but has no memory of having learned them or where he came from.

When the elevator stops, and the doors open, he finds himself face to face with a group of teenage boys. The place he arrived in is called “The Glades,” and it is run by this ragtag group of boys, each having a duty to perform. And just like Thomas, none of them have any memories from before they got there. They inform Thomas that every thirty days, a new boy is delivered, as are supplies needed for survival.

The Glades is a sort of camp, encased by a giant maze, alive with out-of-this-world mechanical creatures. Each night, the doors to the maze close, and each morning they open up again, so that the boys tasked as a “maze runner” can venture out and run the maze. These maze runners literally must run the entire time they are in the maze, to avoid being caught by one of its menacing creatures and killed. While in the maze, they must make maps, so that hopefully the boys will one day figure out how escape The Glades.

But something strange happens. The day after Thomas arrives, the elevator is back, twenty-nine days ahead of schedule. In it: a girl. No girl has ever entered The Glades. And even more disturbing: she is unconscious, frozen in a coma. And even more alarming still: the girl carries with her a message: “no more supplies or boys will be sent.”

The boys are now completely on their own, with no more mystery supplies and kids appearing through the elevator. The creatures in the maze are growing more ominous by the hour…and time is ticking.

This pulse pounding tale is sure to get your adrenaline flowing. I like to think of this book as “The Hunger Games, but at an all boy camp—with one comatose girl.”

Overall, I give this book four out of five stars.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like the sequel, The Scorch Trials as much as I liked the original, but I would still give it 3 ½ stars.
This series is definitely worth the read.

The Maze Runner movie is currently being filmed in my hometown, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is announced to be released in 2014 🙂

“Between Shades of Gray”—A Book Review


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is a hauntingly beautiful tale that shows a different side of the Holocaust.

Lina is a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl, whose world is thrown upside down the night Soviet officers march into her home and tear her family apart. Separated from her father, Lina, her mother, and her young brother, are shoved into train cars like cattle, and shipped to a Siberian work camp.

Trying not to lose herself, Lina keeps what little of herself she has left (that hasn’t been stripped away by the work camp officers) by drawing. She has always loved art and makes drawings, leaving tiny clues within the pictures, secretly passing them along, hoping they will make it back to her father.

Life in the camps put Lina and her family through many trials, their character literally being stamped out of them under Soviet boots. You will find yourself rooting for Lina throughout the narrative, praying she will make it out of this ordeal with a strong since of self.

Between Shades of Gray is an astounding read, shedding light on a different side to the Holocaust than the one we are taught in history class, and helping to open our eyes to the fact that it wasn’t only the Jews who were prosecuted and thrown in concentration camps. This story reminds you how to hope.

I give this book five out of five stars.