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2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn’t have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn’t jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe “opportunity” isn’t the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: “Lied to Our Parents”). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up “Skipping School” (#3), “Throwing a Crazy Party” (#8), “Buying a Hot Tub” (#4), and, um, “Harboring a Fugitive” (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn’t-have-done at a time.


I have recently discovered the ebullient brilliance of euphemisms. For example:

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) was not the best novel I’ve read.

For instance, it was not a coming-of-age story of a young woman facing life’s many challenges head on.

It won’t be winning any national merit awards any time soon, nor will it emerge as a classic to which to refer for years to come.

Regardless, I didn’t dislike Ten Things. Now and then everyone needs a break from required reading and a journey into the mindless world of entertainment fiction.

So it was written on the more fictitious side of contemporary fiction– I say this only because I am completely incognizant of parents who would let a sixteen-year-old move in permanently with friends, but correct me if I’m wrong– so what? It was fun. It was fluffy. It was exactly what I needed on a 9 hour road trip involving more drive-throughs than can be counted on both hands.

Many people are upset about this novel’s message about sex. Let me assure you: Ten Things is not anti-sex. Its ending was not archaic, unprogressive, or pro-abstinence. Its ending was just that– an ending. A twist. A dramatic turn of events not meant to be taken exorbitantly seriously. So I suggest we all take a step back, stop interpreting it as divine retribution, and take a moment to appreciate Mlynowski’s altogether modern point of view.

Mlynowski’s characters are realistic, although mediocre. Every reader’s inner wild child is secretly delighted by April’s reckless and rebellious tomfoolery, and many situations she encounters solicit at least muffled chuckling, if not uproarious laughter. She is not the most likeable character, or the most enlightened, but she gets the job done.

That being said, as mentioned previously, the novel’s plot borders the realm of fantasy. In no way could it ever occur in reality, and in no way is it representative of typical adolescent life. Do not expect to be able to relate to the majority of the challenges April faces, and do not expect to be astounded by Mlynowski’s interpretation of what it means to be a teenager. 10 Things revolves around actions without consequences and very little regret. Accordingly, character development is in short supply.

All things considered, there is one thing I did (and probably shouldn’t have) : read this book. Oh, well. Time one enjoys wasting is not wasted, n’est-ce pas? Recommended for all those seeking academic ataraxia, compelling chapter titles, and a disillusioned reality. 2.3/5 stars.


I’ll keep you posted,


November 24th, 2014

We Were Liars

by E. Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


The Sinclairs have it all: old money, social standing, and a kingdom of dimpled children whose blond heads have never known the sufferings of the real world. But with great financial power come great responsibility, and this family’s epic would not be complete without tight-lipped family politics, carefully kept secrets, and scandal upon scandal covered up with untruth upon untruth.

I admire the audacity obvious in Lockhart’s portrayal of her characters. As she told me previously (my interview with her and Sarah Mlynowski is to come), she chose to write them riddled with as many flaws as any real human being, and there’s something courageous in that. It takes guts—especially in a teenage novel—to write such an imperfect love interest, such an unlikable romantic lead, and yet still manage to convey the absolute strength of first love.

The realism with which E. Lockhart painted her characters and the relationships between them was paralleled only by the distortion wrought by their lies.  As you may have guessed, the novel’s title was aptly chosen. That being said, I found the narrator’s unreliability deliciously appealing. The uncertainty associated with not knowing whether or not I was being lied to by a novel’s main character—the only character a reader can trust in the blind faith of first person narration—was unfamiliarly rocky ground for me, and I loved it. If E. Lockhart’s goal was to shake things up in the world of YA literature, she succeeded in more ways than one.

I was of course, as simultaneously curious and horrified to uncover the summer’s truth as our protagonist. And now– I know what she did last summer, and I am aghast. I think I may have cried. The novel’s twists and turns, especially towards the end, have not yet ceased to unnerve me. They were beautifully written, wonderfully executed, and staggeringly dark.

All in all: 4.7/5 stars. This book had me hooked from cover to cover, and I adored it. Do not be fooled by its summer setting– it is many things, but a beach read is not one of them. It will far exceed your expectations.


But then again, I could be lying.


I’ll keep you posted,

A few things you should know about life in Canada’s capital:

1- The rumours are true. It is freezing. I am currently curled up in a very large, very down blanket extolling the fact that it snowed today.

2- As you may have guessed, it isn’t exactly the country’s literary metropolis. (I’m not entirely sure what the country’s literary metropolis is, but Ottawa is very far from it indeed.)

3- That being said, every fall Ottawa’s Public Library organizes an annual Teen Author Fest. In other words: it makes all my of dreams come true.

This year’s affair features the likes of grand YA figures such as Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak as well as The Impossible Knife of Memory), Sarah Mlynowski (author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have)) and E. Lockhart (author of When We Were Liars).

In my barely contained excitement regarding this month’s upcoming events, it struck me that I forgot to post the photos of last year’s confabulation with the one and only Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events.

So without further ado, here they are:


Photo #1

(In which we chat about his books, how much I loved them as a kid, and also about how I am the only person in attendance aged over 12)


Photo #2

(In which Lemony Snicket is as eccentric as his author bios claim him to be, and I smile and nod like that’s completely normal)


Photo #3

(In which Lemony Snicket makes obnoxious jokes and I laugh anyway because, obnoxious or not, he’s actually really funny)


So there you have it. More photos are to come! Stay tuned.


I’ll keep you posted,

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James Patterson returns to the genre that made him famous with a thrilling teen detective series about the mysterious and magnificently wealthy Angel family… and the dark secrets they’re keeping from one another.

On the night Malcolm and Maud Angel are murdered, Tandy Angel knows just three things: She was the last person to see her parents alive. The police have no suspects besides Tandy and her three siblings. She can’t trust anyone -— maybe not even herself.

Having grown up under Malcolm and Maud’s intense perfectionist demands, no child comes away undamaged. Tandy decides that she will have to clear the family name, but digging deeper into her powerful parents’ affairs is a dangerous — and revealing — game. Who knows what the Angels are truly capable of?


First confession: I had never read James Patterson before this past weekend. And as far as first tastes of any author go, Confessions of a Murder Suspect wasn’t half bad. It’s obvious why James Patterson is so well known within the genre of murder mystery: to put things simply, he’s good at it.

Second confession: he’s good at it, but not unimpeachable. Patterson lacked a few key elements necessary to transform this novel into something memorable– namely, a satisfactory ending. Confessions of a Murder Suspect was all build-up, no finale.  Needless to say the anticlimax did not suit my tastes.

Neither, for that matter, did the style in which it was written. Confessions of a Murder Suspect as a whole is addressed to the reader, and in fact its narrator, Tandy Angel, addresses the reader directly on multiple occasions. Although I understand why Patterson attempts to write in this fashion– the title is, after all, Confessions of a Murder Suspect— I second the opinion of many when I assert that the overall result was indubitably fake and over-the-top.

That being said, over-the-top is the Angel family’s specialty. Each of its members is an unparalleled athlete, a prodigy, or a genius. Each of its members has skeletons buried deep inside their closets and secrets they themselves have yet to acknowledge. And each of its (remaining) members could indeed be guilty of the murder of Maud and Malcolm Angel: the two parents who started it all.

Tandy Angel has tasked herself with identifying the murderer, even if it turns out to be one of her siblings, and even if it turns out to be herself.

Third confession: I read Confessions of a Murder Suspect within a day. I couldn’t help myself; for the life of me, I couldn’t drag myself away. I had to keep turning pages. This novel is many things, but slow-paced is not one of them. It may be less than realistic, but it is highly addictive.

I keep wishing that Patterson had chosen to write this book as a standalone, as opposed to the beginning of a series. The concept was decent and the mystery was intriguing, but frankly I doubt that I’ll bother the pick up the sequel. For that reason, it would have been nice to have  some of its loose ends tied up.

Final confession: 2.9/5 stars. Recommended to those who enjoy fast-paced cop shows, vapid entertainment, and dysfunctional family scandals.


I’ll keep you posted,

October 16th, 2014

Interview with Daria Snadowsky


A huge thanks goes to Daria Snadowsky for taking the time to let me conduct this interview over email!

See my reviews of Anatomy of a Single Girl and Anatomy of a Boyfriend here.


Q: What inspired the series? Why write the books with such forthrightness and honesty?

A: Thank you! I’m asked this question a lot, so here’s my standard reply:

I remember my first hall meeting during freshman year of college–we were introducing ourselves and discovering that nearly half of us had boyfriends from high school. Then by the following semester, almost everyone had dumped or been dumped by her high school sweetheart. So I wanted to focus on that part of a girl’s life when she’s simultaneously excited for and scared of how college will change things. In the book, Dominique, the protagonist, says, “I used to think of college acceptance letters as emancipation proclamations. Now they’re like divorce papers.”

It was important to me to write a straightforward, nonjudgmental treatment of the emotional roller coaster of love. I resent that all of the words associated with romantic love are so pejorative. We’re often called “nuts,” “obsessed,” “head over heels,” “infatuated,” and “addicted”. Why is love saddled with such negative words considering that any one of us, no matter how brainy, sane, or logical, can feel this way? The Anatomy books concern a girl whose intelligence is above average but still longs uncontrollably for her crush. Her behaviors may seem crazy, but in truth what she’s experiencing couldn’t be more natural and human.

Q: The many breakups in the books were absolutely refreshing. But why not allow your protagonist to ride off into the sunset with her prince charming?

A: My aim was realism. Although I know people who ended up deliriously happy with their high school sweethearts, I know many more who did not.  And by and large that’s a good thing.  Breakups are excruciating and humbling, but they can also be empowering.  Rejection forces us to face and overcome our deepest fears and insecurities, and it gives us a greater capacity for compassion.  To me, happily ever after doesn’t have to include a significant other…it can be about feeling fulfilled on your own.

Q: What’s your dream cast for Anatomy and Anatomy?

A: Unfortunately I’m not too familiar with young talent today, so I’d cast teen versions of the following actors:

Dom:  Emma Stone



Amy:  Christina Ricci



Wes: Paul Bettany



Guy:  Jason Segel



Calvin: Michael Cera



Q: Who are your favourite YA authors?

A: Judy Blume, Judy Blume, and Judy Blume.  Did I mention Judy Blume?  Her books basically got me through adolescence, and I dedicated Anatomy of a Boyfriend to her.

Q: When you were in high school, did you know that you were going to write a book? What did you want to be?

A: Gosh, no.  I thought I’d be a journalist or a professor.  I didn’t begin writing until after college and I got laid off as a magazine editor.  I wrote the first draft of Anatomy of a Boyfriend in the year and a half between losing my job and starting law school.

Q: Can you tell us 3 random facts about yourself?

A: 1) I used to be obsessed with Anthony Hopkins.  That’s not an exaggeration.  You can read about it here.

2) I wrote my college thesis on Ang Lee just so I could have an excuse to watchSense and Sensibility over and over again.

3) Forgive me, but I enjoy movies more than books.

Q: If you could take five things with you onto a deserted island, what would they  be?

A: A sonar power generator, a smoothie maker, my computer, sunblock, and a satellite phone.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I have nothing to report on at the moment, but you can preview the first three chapters of Anatomy of a Single Girl here.


I’ll keep you posted,

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