The Artful by Wilbert Stanton

22019704 Title: The Artful

 Author: Wilbert Stanton

 Published: May 26, 2014

 Rating: 3.5/5 stars



New York City, 2025: Everything is changed. The city that never sleeps is now a land of death and decay. A rampant virus has taken over and the survivors have become carriers, quarantined from the rest of the world.

Twist and Dodger grew up in the streets, the sewers and underground tunnels – their playground. They aren’t heroes. They just like attention; and stealing meds from the rich and giving them to the poor is their golden ticket.

On their latest raid, they unknowingly steal a cure that puts them square between the ailing Emperor of Manhattan and the war hungry Governor of Brooklyn and forces them on a quest into the darkest shadows of their putrefying world.


*Thanks to the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for the free review copy via Netgalley.*

Possible Spoilers of a Minor Nature

The Artful by Wilbert Stanton has become one of my favorite books of the year so far. It features as it’s main characters Twist and Dodger, two thieves who call themselves the ‘Gutter Punks’ and act like a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood. They take medicine from the privileged Tower Babies and give it to the poor, who are forced to live on the streets. Its set in Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2025, anyone who is still around is unable to tolerate the sun’s rays and burn much to easily without shelter and protection. The story picks up when the two boys rescue a girl named Gia and Dodger is injected with a lethal virus only their enemies have the cure to. They’ll have mere days to take back something their other friend stole before Dodger dies a painful death.

Twist was by far my favorite character. Unlike so many scores of YA main characters, he not only saw his flaws but also embraced them. He didn’t whine and moan about his imperfections and he didn’t over or under look them to any extreme. They were simply there and a fact of life.

He also really grew as a main character. In the beginning he resented the fact that everyone thought he was Dodger’s shadow, but it was sort of true, by the end he realized his own strength. He neither needed or wanted Dodger’s assistance because he had become his own person, Dodger’s illness really forced him to see his potential as it was.

One of the things I love about YA books with male main characters is the lack of drama. In particular girl type drama, evil in the clever disguise of words when it’s overused, so I also appreciated how there were no real frivolous type problems in the book. All of the issues the main characters faced were realistic and understandable. It was a lovable novel about the true pains of survival in a futuristic world that has been destroyed through something realistic. But some things still got on my nerves. Whenever Dodger and Twist were separated, Dodger would tell Twist what happened to him while he was gone. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing, but everything Dodger said during those times was a big block of text that told what happened just about word for word with no details omitted. Too many words were used at these times and it happened all at once, leaving the reader with no question as to what happened to Dodger during those times. It got to be quite annoying. Not to mention the whole mystery surrounding why Dodger was sick was too easily fixed, even though the characters had trouble reaching a conclusion it all seemed a bit too simplified by the end.

Although not everything about the book pleased me, The Artful was a pretty enjoyable read which I would recommend to dystopian lovers. In particular those who enjoyed Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens, some aspects of it really reminded me of that.


Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

7657321_orig Title: Crazy

 Author: Linda Vigen Phillips

 Published: October 20, 2014 

 Rating: 4/5 stars


Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960’s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance. But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother  is suffering from a mental illness.

No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. She finds some solace in art, but when her mother, also an artist, suffers a breakdown, Laura fears that she will follow in her mother’s footsteps. Left without a refuge, can she find the courage to face what scares her most?


I am highly greatful that the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, which provided this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

‘Crazy’ was a very interesting book to read, and that’s not just because it’s written entirely in verse. It follows the life of a girl, just 15, named Laura who has to deal with the overwhelming presence of her mother’s mental illness. She is terrified that she will end up like her, so she drags her own happiness into the dirt to watch herself for symptoms. It is especially difficult for her and her family because they are living in a time when mental illnesses are very poorly understood. It would have been a great story even without the verse which served to make it even better than it may have been and twice as memorable. Not to mention, despite her dealings with her mother’s illness, this book makes it clear that Laura, and others like her, are not so different from everyone else as some books would have us believe. It’s the kind of novel that really not only makes you think, but also feel. Not to mention, the characters are very interesting and their lives and interactions engaged me greatly. This is definitely something worth reading and I recommend it to both lovers of realistic fiction and those who are unsure about the genre!

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

briar roseTitle:
Briar Rose

 Author: Jane Yolen

 Published:  August 15, 1992

5/5 stars


An American Library Association “100 Best Books for Teens”

An American Library Association “Best Books for Young Adults”

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.


I’d be the first to admit that I’ve never really particularly liked historical fiction. I’ve always been partial to dragons, magic and duels and robots, other worlds and aliens, never historical fiction. I had some bad experiences with the genre when I was younger, Johnny Tremain and I did not get along, and the only historical fiction I’ve really ever read has included magic of some kind. So when I went up to the counter at the library and asked for some good historical fiction recommendations, I was expecting the worst. But instead I got something that I’m sure I’ll remember for a long time and recommend to scores and scores of people.

The main character Rebecca, known mostly as Becca, grew up with two older sisters, two parents and one mysterious grandmother known only as Gemma. It was really interesting to learn about both women, and their connections to various people. To Becca, her grandmother’s repetive telling of Sleeping Beauty and Briar Rose, was a magical and enjoyable story that defined her grandmother. But to Gemma, it was her life and she could not be persuaded differently no matter how many times her various family members tried. She lived in a castle. Her name was Briar Rose and she was the only one that the prince woke up from a sleep that would have lasted a hundred years.

It’s a very creepy, and lasting story about WWII and a family’s tragic history. But somehow it manages to be at times, light and uplifting through its unlikely events. I highly recommend it to both lovers of historical fiction and those who aren’t so sure. Maybe it will change your mind about the genre like it did for me.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

2614272Title: The Raven Boys

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: September 18th, 2012

Rating: 5/5 stars

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.


I was a bit nervous about this one, admittedly, but I didn’t really have any real need to be. I’ve heard a thousand different good things about Maggie Stiefvater and her writing, but the only other time that I’ve read one of her books is when I was much younger and not quite sure what kind of books I liked. I enjoyed the first of her werewolf series, but it wasn’t something I was all that eager to continue with. But, this book is not like The Wolves of Mercy Falls. Blue Sargent is unique in a way that I can’t quite place, and maintained a very vibrant personality with some set and defining characteristics, throughout the novel. Her most emphasized trait being, for the most part, her lack of clairvoyance. It sets her apart from her family, making her just a bit too ordinary to fit in with them and still much too strange to have any friends at her school or anywhere else. Gansey, and the other Raven Boys change that, and in ways beyond what the synopsis suggests. The group become each other’s friends, allies and saviors at many different levels and in many different ways.  It wasn’t really a love story as the description suggested, the relationships inside are more powerful than that, and thus, the book is more lasting on the mind. Lastingly strange, like the bird Ronan named Chainsaw, and brilliantly odd.

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.” 

Visit Maggie Stiefvater on Twitter 
@mstiefvater and see the trailer that she made for the book below:

Aspen by Rebekah Crane

17608141Author: Rebekah Crane

Published: June 5, 2014

Rating:  5/5 stars


One quiet night in Boulder, Colorado, Aspen Yellow-Sunrise Taylor made a mistake.

In the next instant, her life changed forever.

Aspen doesn’t want to remember the car accident that killed Katelyn Ryan, a sleek-haired popular soccer player. But forgetting is hard– because Katelyn may have died — but she didn’t leave. Her ghost is following Aspen around, and heading into senior year, it’s kind of a problem. Especially when Katelyn’s former boyfriend Ben appears to be the only person at school with a clue as to how Aspen feels.

Popularity, Homecoming Court, hot guys – none of these things ever mattered to Aspen. She’s been busy trying to keep her stoner mother Ninny in line and out of unemployment. But with Ben sitting next to her in Physics and her therapist begging her to remember all the things she wants to forget, Aspen is thrust into a vivid, challenging world she can’t control … and doesn’t want to.

A darkly funny, emotionally gripping story of opening up, letting go, and moving on, Aspen is about the best-worst accident of your life … and what comes next.


*I received an ARC copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a review*

Aspen is the kind of book that sticks with you. It leaves you with a thousand unanswered questions, but the good kind. Not the kind of questions you don’t want to have, but the kind that leave you thinking about the characters and their lives. For me that means Katelyn in particular, throughout the majority of the book it was Aspen that most interested me, but by the end Katelyn story became one that intrigued me on a level similar to Aspen’s.

I also loved Ninny’s character. She was the most flawed out of all of them, and that was what made her the most interesting. It was immensely enjoyable to watch her struggle in her relationship with Aspen, I felt for the two of them and I had trouble not laughing at their more hilarious moments. Even Ninny’s moments with her daughter’s love interest, which she probably shouldn’t have been realistically having, made me like her more. I really appreciated how she made no effort to hold herself back. I will admit to hating her in the beginning, mostly because of her relationship with Toaster, but her quirks quickly turned my opinion of her around entirely. Unlike many parental figures in YA Ninny served an actual purpose in Aspen’s life, there was more to their relationship than her merely hanging around for Aspen to have a parent. It gets old quick when the parents in books just stand around and nod or frown at everything their children say, real parents have both good and bad moments with their children like Ninny did. Without her Aspen would have been much less memorable and marginally less enjoyable, the author did a great job of giving all of the characters a purpose even if they weren’t main characters. Ninny was a great example of this, she existed outside of the main character’s lives and was just as interesting as they were. With such character mastery as this however, almost every character could be considered a main character, even though they weren’t.