BOOK REVIEW: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was a DNF for me, unless you all can convince me to pick it back up again.

There was not enough fandom in the first few pages. She didn’t seem much like a fan of anything in the chapters I got through. Wait. Except for the Wikipedia-like entry on page one that describes the fictional fiction Simon Snow Series (that seemed a lot like Harry Potter), you can’t tell she’s a fan of much. 

Why couldn’t Rowell have just said Harry Potter instead? Would have been an instant connection with the MC. I would have understood her. Now I’m hesitant and I feel like fair use wasn’t utilized here. I wasn’t going to be able to “fangirl all over the place” with the main character if I was going to have to learn about a fictional universe that…isn’t real (oh, the irony). That’s too much work. This kind of book didn’t seem like it had to do what Lev Grossman did in The Magicians series–where he had to change names and plots in order to not get sued. Rowell isn’t going to have her MC go into the fictional world of Harry Potter, only write about it. I feel like copyright wouldn’t have been the same issue. I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer.

But I am a copyright librarian, so…

It would be interesting to see how this kind of story would play out in court.

Rowling vs. Rowell.

I don’t think Rowling would have won if Rowell had just gone with Harry instead of Simon. But I guess we’ll never know.

In this case, it seems like Rowell wanted to write her own version of Harry Potter versus pay homage. It’s just Harry Potter fanfiction. Without the fans. Seems to work against the message she’s wanting to project about fanfiction….

Am I wrong?


BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Initial Reaction; or, as I like to call it, “Part I”)

I’m still kind of in shock from this book. Shock that it was so…bad. I don’t even think I’m disappointed. I’m just not surprised. I’m shocked that I’m not surprised. I had so much faith in this book.

I’m not angry like Star Wars fans are angry. I’m not.  I think this may be a lot more complicated than an artist ruining their own canon.

I just finished it like…ten minutes ago. I’m just wanting to give an initial reaction. Which is: I didn’t like it I didn’t like it I didn’t like it. This was kind of the third strike for me. I was let down by A Casual Vacancy, and felt denied by her use of a pen name for the Cormoran Strike novels. The fact she has so much money and could therefore control what kind of play this was but didn’t seem to…This shocks me most of all.

I’ve read headlines that the actual play gives it the richness it deserves, and I do believe that seeing it acted out could be better (God, it would have to be). I kept making excuses for why things seemed cheesy or melodramatic or cringe-worthy.

Because the text made it seem more like a musical without the music. It was like some attempt at Wicked or Matilda. Except those musical adaptations were good and only enriched the canon. In the case of Wicked, it was better than the book–a book based off a now-mythologized story based on an actual book that not many people read anymore. It became it’s own thing. With this “story,” though… I think this canon…harms it. Muddles it.

Spoilers from here on out.

The biggest complaint I have with the story is the time travel part. Not only does it ruin Rowling’s  perfected use of time travel used in Prisoner of Azkaban, but it tries… Well, let me just stick to the time travel thing. In book three, time travel worked because it already happened. They never saved Buckbeak from being killed because he was never killed. They only thought he had been. There’s no alternate timelines involved there. It’s the same one just looped–nice and clean. I’ll not continue to rant about time travel theory, but the one used in this book is not the same as the one used in book three.

NOW: Not only that, but the reason it’s a time travel story is super cliche: It’s a “Let’s go back and kill Hitler” story. Except it’s more like a “Let’s bring back Hitler!” Congratulations, you’re soooo original.

The final major thing I hated about this book was that it wasn’t literary. Like I mentioned before, it was like it was trying to be fanfiction–a musical without the music. I was hoping for something like…I don’t know. More of a closet drama in the sense of Goethe. Except now with all our fancy props there need not be closet dramas.

Even if the play had been small–had tackled a more minimal topic rather than a  huge time traveling, Voldemort-involving epic–it would have been more meaningful to me.

I think part II of this review will explore my notes I found myself writing in the margins–reactions I was having. And my thoughts on why J.K. Rowling keeps letting her art be squished and pulled into something that doesn’t work…

I wouldn’t mind seeing the play. Just to see where J.K. Rowling got caught up in this whole mess. How was she OK with any of this? How? What rose colored glasses did they put on her?

My hope is that she wanted this to go out, get bad reviews, and then let the world see how fucking terrible it is that we don’t give authors more control over their work. Something like that.


I’m going to bed now to dream of a story that could have been. Talk about a cursed brain child. Honestly.

JK Rowling: Should Authors Control the Digestion of their Content after it’s Published?

I love how her comments on her characters always bring up the Author-as-God topic. I definitely can’t read or think about her work the same after she gives her “insights.” It *does* change things.

PINEkindling Wordsmithery

Not to jump on the internet fandoms bandwagon, but in an interview with Wonderland Magazine, JK Rowling told readers that she should have paired Hermione and Harry in the end, rather than have the leading lady wed Ron, the hero’s best friend. She suggests that the pairing was a “mistake” based on “personal reasons.”

Pairing preferences aside–I find the engagement of the author in post-publishing alterations particularly interesting. Certainly this kind of announcement is not completely out of range for JK Rowling. Several years ago she announced that Dumbledore was gay, though there was no real evidence to that assertion in the text. There was also no evidence to the contrary, so, hell, why not?

This announcement is quite different. JK Rowling suggests that a major subplot was a “mistake,” and that her choice had nothing to do with “literature” but more to do with “personal reasons.” First, what does that…

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That time I thought Alan Rickman’s death was a hoax.


I usually find The Guardian to be pretty trustworthy, of course, but I was still really hopeful because I found this other website (that was only updated long after the fact):


For a while, The Guardian was the only one saying he was, really, dead yesterday morning. I was waiting for a post that said “We were wrong” or “We were hacked” or, “Early April Fools!” Anything.

Moral of the story: never trust anything from MediaMass again.


Got my HP stamps a few days go. I’m a proper collector now.

Got my HP stamps a few days go. I'm a proper collector now.

I drove to three different post offices trying to buy these damn things. Eventually ended up buying them online. Either way, I’m very glad I got to support the USPS and get my Harry Potter on! I write letters to my friends constantly, so these will be handy. I bought one to use and one to keep forever and always…

I also heard that they’re the first stamps to feature pictures of living humans on them, versus pictures of art of living humans. Or something neat like that. ??? Go Harry!

Gonna send me some owls now. No post on Sundays!

The Diviners By Libba Bray, A Review

I got 50 pages into the (basically) 600-paged book and called it quits.

It seemed too much like her Gemma Doyle books – but minus Victorian and plus flappers.

There were already too many characters and plot points in those first 50 – and already too much preaching about what I should believe. I didn’t like how she had crammed theology in with supernatural.

It’s fine and dandy to talk about theology, but only if it relates to your story.

Organized religion though, I understood that part in the story. Organized religion isn’t kind to the supernatural. Religion and superstition fit well together as plot points. I was OK with that.

But she should have left the more philosophical part of religion (theology) out of it. It made her point – her message – too convoluted.  I wanted to be entertained with a story. But instead I was given a lesson in theodicy right off the bat.

Yes, Christians burned witches/‘Diviners’ at the stake or hanged them. Religion did that. But I don’t see what the debate about why God allows evil was even relevant to the story. Bray was just trying to sound smart. Instead, she shoved her ideas down my throat without earning the right to do so first.

…But now that I’m done with my complaint, I welcome comments below. If you want to convince me that I really should continue to read the book, please do! Maybe I’m in the wrong because I didn’t give it enough of a chance.

Or, if you’ve reviewed the book on your own blog please link to it so I can read it and see if I’m judging this book too harshly.

I just don’t want to waste my time with a huge book (that could be 300 pages shorter) that I’ll eventually hate (even more than I do right now). I mean, I gave it a shot but I don’t think the book and I will work out.

I also review books here on this other blog:  OhSoCleverReads

Anglophiles in the US…

Know what I’m getting tired of? Narnia. Dr. Who. And Alice in Wonderland. If we’re going to be anglophiles, let’s dig a little deeper.

Let’s try more Neverland. More British comedy. And of course Harry Potter.

[Why am I raggin’ on Narnia, Dr. Who, and AiW? Well, for one, Lewis wrote MUCH better works that no one seems to notice because Christians are always so obsessed with Aslan. Dr. Who is fine and all but it’s losing some of its magic for me – IT’S NOT THE ONLY THING ON PBS. And Alice in Wonderland is…overdone.]

My Review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone

tumblr_nr6rlhia261rkciaro1_1280At OhSoCleverReads, I recently reviewed the fantasy novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

I was really into this book. Was. As in I stopped. Because it didn’t work out between us. I will explain why.
This book started off weird and abrupt – kinda like a cheesy pickup line. But I kept on reading. I flirted with it. I was excited to read it. It made me all giggly and warm inside. [Insert the stomach-butterflies reference from the book here]. It’s rare I ever get so excited about a book. I wanted more. But in the end it was shallow and not spousal material. Though, it was a nice little fling: 
Though the subject was cliché, I’d never actually read about an art student before – always another bookworm (bookworms write about bookworms, you see. It’s only easy). Despite that the main character, Karou, had the stereotypical artist tattoos and blue hair – all toooooo cliché (but then again what art student isn’t?) – I was willing to give her a chance. 
Too many “magical” elements were foreshadowed in first chapter. It was information overload. Yay for jumping right into the story, but I was overwhelmed by what the reader’s supposed to pick up on. For example: the chimerical BEINGS and their NAMES and VOCATIONS, the strange TATOOS and the African bead-WISHES, the normal human FRIENDSHIPS Karou’s involved in.
I had to refer back to the first part later on because it got confusing. But, I was able to look past that because the story was fun and, all things considered, undemanding. It was so freaking entertaining!
By chapter four I was rolling my eyes at the VERBOSE and SMARTY-PANTS knowledge of Prague art/architecture/setting the author not only knew about but called upon. She uses “Rococo,” “Baroque,” and “Gothic” all in one paragraph. There were probably no vocab words left in the humanities dictionary. This (to me) was the equivalent of a New Yorker rambling on about Soho or coffee or the subway. I wanted to barf all over like I do Lena Dunham’s nepotism (but not Lena Dunham herself – love you gurl! …Wow. What a passive-aggressive thing I just did. You make me hate myself). That’s what Taylor’s “world-building” was to me. 
However (despite all of these pretentious faults), I was willing to overlook it. And I kept on reading. See, Taylor’s faults aren’t egregious. They weren’t something I couldn’t swallow…Even though they had an aftertaste. For example, I had never HEARD of Taylor before this book. I thought this was her first novel. I was willing to be nicer because I thought she was a cute pink-haired baby that needed love and support. When I later discovered that this WASN’T her first, I was a little embarrassed for her. BUT I kept on reading. Shamefully. 
Around page 100, however, Taylor introduces ideas about the Christian mythos and it’s around this point that the story starts to lose some of its magic – just a lil bit. IMO, she didn’t have to get into any of “that.” She didn’t HAVE to explain herself. I already believed. And I already had my mythos created that made sense of her world. She was kind of shoving her religion (or lack thereof) down my throat. It’d be like J.K. Rowling saying that witches and wizards are actually mortal descendants of some god and that’s where they get their magic from. Because then I’d have to believe in gods and not what I already believe. Writers shouldn’t create such a narrow view because it not only limits my imagination but it limits their story’s affect. If it doesn’t need to be explained, then don’t. 
The angels in the story are built up and up and up and then, when demystified, were less fun. The main angel in the story falls for Karou too quickly. It was gross. It was too simple and too easy for Taylor to “do” it as she did. At this point, I was expecting more from her. Taylor’s novel ended up being like the rabbit in the RABBIT VS. TURTLE RACE – the one that made good progress at the beginning but lost to Mr. T who kept its natural pace. 
On page about 151 the story [small spoilers] says that Karou’s demon-chimera adoptive father left her a BUNCH of inheritance. So, she’s rich. But Taylor never really says how Karou found out that she was rich. Yes, I guess it’s possible she could have figured it out on her own but…If Brimstone had been hiding it from her and then Brimstone died (as well as her entire connection to the chimera world)… How would she ever find out?  DOES NOT COMPUTE.
I also didn’t like how the angels made it into mainstream news. I don’t like it when my fantasy doesn’t make sense with reality. I want there to be no proof that this book didn’t happen. And it didn’t. Because angels were never in the news or all over the internet. This makes the book illogical and therefore less likable. 

It was also around the angels-in-the-news part that I noticed the editing of the book became…less. I noticed not only typos but no content editing. It was like her editor(s) read the first half and saw that it was so good that they were like “Why bother with the rest of it? This half is good – the last half must be great too! Let’s just shove this onto shelves because we’re more interested in making money than promoting good stories. Nap time for us!”
Seriously, I would have been a better beta reader than what you got, girl. I’m offering my services. Fo free. 

…The whole “war” concept between the chimeras and angels got a little hard to believe/pity/not laugh at. Maybe if it hadn’t been a full-fledged war, I would have liked it. Maybe if chimeras and angels didn’t have their own WORLDS, I would have accepted it. But what started out as an urban fantasy became an epic fantasy – an epic fantasy that came close to needing a MOTHER-EFFING map. And me no gusta maps. 

The chimera-angel conflict could/should have been more like… “This small group of creatures over here can just hate this other small group of creatures that also live in our world alongside us but that we never notice.” THAT SORT OF UNCOMPLICATED THING.
I had already invested myself so much into one concept-setting (Prague) that I was a little pissed I had to leave it for the angel-chimera world(s) – WAS there more than one world even? I found it hard to tell. I was bored. And pissed. 
And then when Karou falls in love with Mr. Prettyfacewithwings I was growing grumpier. They haven’t spent more than 72 hours together and already want to BANG LIKE MONKIES. Or, excuse me, they just want to touch each other. A lot. 
But they never actually a-make-a the sexy sex. They only make goo-goo eyes at each other. It was little better then what I call Twilight…Which is abstinence porn. I mean, WHY THE HELL NOT make them have sex? The rest of the book has nudity and cursing and adult content (ME GUSTA) but SEX? No. No sex. If you’re going to be so instantaneously lustful WHY NOT? What’s the point of NOT doing it?!? It wouldn’t be any LESS likeable than how their love life actually plays out.
If you’re going to have all this mushy stuff in there then at LEAST let them have some fun. Only Karou’s [SPOILER] past self (Madrigal) and Akiva (the Angel) had some real romance. And THAT was just some dull flashback you already knew had happened.  
And can I just say that “reincarnation” was a cop-out? It was. I mean, fine. I’ll take it. But I saw it coming. (My backup guess was that Karou was actually Madrigal’s daughter and so that was how they weren’t going to “end up” together. Which they [SPOILER] don’t). 
Other than this, another negative thing is that there are no major plot twists. You see all of them coming. You see them building up. It’s not a shock when they happen. All the plotting leads exactly where you thought it would. The ending was just as average as the rest of it. And I had really realy REALLY  hoped this book was using its mediocrity as a clever disguise all along. But it wasn’t. That was its face. It was wearing no mask. 
Sad face. 
A COOL thing about this book, however, was that it was written in English but basically the characters are always speaking another language. Which is AWESOME. More books like this, please. (Books without the English entitlement, but without all the work of learning a new lang-lang). 
And, the dialogue is done SO well – I could hear the characters speaking in my head. They sounded so real. I think that’s Taylor’s strength. 
Also, as someone who has had 2 rounds of braces and retainers (for baby teeth AND grown-up teeth (I had some major sh*t going on)) I don’t think the premise of tooth-pulling is silly at all — if you even thought that. Tooth pain is the worst pain. I’d rather be shot in the foot than go through that hell again. Breaking my arm was more fun. And easier to fix. 
Also, I saw Brimstone as a Mr. Carson (from Downton Abbey) character. Humph and stuff. 

Do I recommend this book? Heck yes I do. Read it. It’s been the most entertaining so far (ALL THANKS TO ME IT WAS ON MY LIST I’M A GOOD BOOK PICKER AHAHAHA!!!!). 
Will I read the next in the series? Nah. BUT, if the whole series was crammed into one volume like Karou’s and Akiva’s relationship was crammed then yeah. I would have kept on reading. 
Now, I leave you with three other things that bothered me but I would have excused *IF* the story had been better: 
1. Having a masquerade in the same book where a setting is PRAGUE. Of course you would.
2. Having names I cannot pronounce – Like “Karou” (And yet Brimstone is “Brimstone”).
3. Making angels and demons battle it out. If you ain’t going to go all Christian on us, it didn’t have to come to that.
Read the full review(s) over at OhSoCleverReads. Next month Hel and I will be reviewing The Grapes of Wrath. Watch for it there!

The Fault in Our Stars (A Book Review by Panda)

the_fault_in_our_starsMy review of _The Fault in Our Stars_ from OhSoCleverReads:

Now, OK, well, um…first off there’ll be SPOILERS in this post, but let’s face it. Hel and I are probably the last two people on the planet who haven’t read this novel. Practically everyone WHO CAN READ has read this book. Because it’s supposed to be like, the book of the year or something.
Since I have experienced nothing else by John Green (except his vlogs and videos), my opinion of his writing talent is based solely off of this book, The Fault in Our Stars.
And what is my opinion? It is this.
John Green is a very good writer. But he is not a good story teller.
Now, before you nerdfighters STONE ME TO DEATH, let me defend my statement. Remember, I’ve never read Looking for Alaska or A Plethora (or is it An Abundance? ) of Katherines so this opinion is based SOLELY from one book. And in said book, John’s story is poor.
Now, I know what this book means to the nerdfighter community. But since it’s made a couple of “Best Books of 2012” lists, let’s consider why it made those lists.
And if it should really be on them. 
Now, John does a fairly decent job using a girl’s POV. I’ll give him that. But his characters are unlikable because they are too likable. These characters are much too smart to be real – which they’re intended TO BE. The dialogue exchanged is so brilliant and clever that it became dull. John, I assume, intended to capture real life. But it didn’t much feel like it. This makes the characters flat – like watching cartoons. But I don’t think he meant them to come across as cartoons (Or did he?!?! – Cancer and death, the most depressing cartoon EVAH).
The first portion of the book was too quick-paced. Maybe John’s editors made him speed things up, but it made the story weaker. No one becomes instant friends like Gus and Hazel did. It was just awkward and made me roll my eyes.
I wanted their beautiful chemistry to die of cancer, if anything. 
And then, even though their relationship was rushed, it took me until page 98 to actually enjoy the plot. In fact, I would have stopped reading at about page, oh, let’s say 18 if I didn’t have to report back to this blog.  
See, John Green has a pretty famous name. It’s plastered everywhere in THE KINGDOM OF NERD-DOM. That’s what drove me to check out this book in the first place. But a story shouldn’t rest on your name alone (unless you’re J.K. Rowling and then the word “poop” on a page is the most brilliant piece ever written. No seriously. I’d pay to read that sh*t).
And can I just interject, right here, that I paid too much for this book? Even used! Honestly, people, John Green’s sold a sh*t ton of these things. You’re asking too much for them on Am@z0n. And even the new copies are still too expensive. The book may be 300 something pages, but have you SEEN the margins for this thing? This book could be read in a couple of hours. The word count alone barely makes it a novel, probably.
I know John didn’t really control things like the packaging, but I feel exploited as a reader (no wonder Barnes and Noble is tanking when they have to sell books like this. Maybe if they packaged books properly people could afford them and not be so bitter about their purchases, right? Right).
But on a positive note the points made about going to Disn3y W0rld (slash wasting your WISH on going there) made me very – and I do mean VERY – happy. Disney World (excuse me Dis3y W0rld – it’s a bad word in my book) is HELL. If there’s any message I want kids to get out of this novel, it’s this. DON’T WASTE YOUR WISH ON HELL.  
And let me just say (again) that no boy is like Augustus Waters. No boy. But now cancer boys are going to have a lot to live up to, I’m afraid, because every girl will now want a cancer boy. Every cancer boy, on first glance, will be Augustus Waters. This is not fair to them (the boys), unfortunately. Granted, it’s better than wanting a pale boy to be a vampire, I guess. (…God, I can’t believe I’m actually typing this. I’m a terrible person). But seriously. This is a romance novel for sheltered teens. Where Twilight is abstinence porn, this is cancer porn.
Now, back to page 98 (where I finally saw where the story was going). The love triangle set up has the third point represented by a dead girl. Which was interesting. Probably the most interesting part of this book. *Taps chin thoughtfully*
It was also around page 98 that I realized Hazel wasn’t going to die (that would be too obvious). But Gus would. And, yes, I was right. When they go to Amsterdam and Gus winces every time he’s touched, my guess was confirmed. And then I was disappointed in this story, because even this ‘twist’ was obvious. It had no surprise.  
And let’s talk about the Peter Van Houten character and scenes. At first, he’s just a (supposed) letter-writer and novelist to the main couple. He’s a deus ex machina (or however you spell it) and serves nothing else but to direct the plot. In fact, he’s the most unnecessary part to this WHOLE ENTIRE NOVEL. Not only are the scenes he’s in purposeless and poorly done, but his “face time” could have been cut all together.
Picture this: Hazel shares this great book she read with Gus. She tells Gus about a scene in the book set in Amsterdam that she’d love to visit – in order to feel like she’s living the book or to experience the book on another level. Whatever. The writer of said book doesn’t even need to exist. Maybe she can still want that sequel and Gus can still try to get it for her – WHATEVER. The point is, Van Houten as a character seemed forced and meaningless and any role he served could have been side-served by other characters and/or events.  
The only fathomable reason why he MIGHT have been “necessary” was so John could educate young readers that Authors of their novels are not GODS. Maybe John has felt pressured before by his audience like Hazel and Gus pressured Van Houten. Maybe he was hoping to break some kind of spell. But still, the anti-author-as-god message John *does* set up could have been tackled in a simpler way. Van Houten didn’t need to exist in the story AT ALL. In fact, it would have been more effective if he had told them to f—k off in his first letters to them. No need to have them (and therefore us) experience his awfulness face-to-face. He wasn’t really that awful. He was too poorly written to be awful. He was nothing.  
And picture this: After Gus dies, Peter could have later admitted to Hazel that his daughter had died (and therefore that’s why he’s got some sort of two-dimensional character development) through post or email. Or, his assistant could have admitted it for him just as well (again through post or email).
In my opinion, anything would have been better than what John Green did with the Van Houten sub-plot. The simple relationship between Hazel and Gus was enough. Why make it so freaking complicated by throwing Amsterdam and Van Houten in there? Even when they went to visit Anne Frank’s hideout I was so mentally fatigued as a reader. Yes, going to Amsterdam let Hazel gain a new piece of enlightenment about life and death – but COME ON. Yes, Anne Frank’s story is sad. But I only think John Green used it because it was something iconic young readers would recognize. There has GOT to be a simpler place for them to go and be enlightened and to HAVE SEX.
…And now I know why I’m angry that John got a grant from the Dutch Literature Foundation to spend time there and write (see the Acknowledgement section). No wonder Anne Frank made it into the book.  He felt obligated to force-feed us the same old World War II stuff as if it applies to everything (It might, but I can’t help but feel like he exploited his own story just because he won this grant). I mean WHY bring it all back to World War II? Not every evil is tied to Nazis. Nazis are not necessarily equal to cancer (maybe metaphorically, but I don’t want to go down that road). 
And my Anne Frank/WWII tangent only backs up my beef with the Van Houten sub-plot. The Anne Frank museum was more meaningful to the story than Van Houten. Why did Hazel have to have an obsession with his book – why not just…Anne Frank? Anne Frank would have been a perfect – and SIMPLE – reason to bring them to Amsterdam. Even though it didn’t HAVE TO BE Amsterdam.
It kinda makes Green seem like a sellout – even though I don’t know how much of the book depended on his grant or not. But I still think it’s ridiculous. This book isn’t about Dutch literature. It’s about cancer. It’s about life and death. Yes, I can see how poor Anne Frank ties into it all but… The knots that he tied are pretty sloppy.
A positive aspect of this book is that it’s a good introduction to “Otherness.” The otherness is non-racial and non-gendered (Hazel and Gus are not andcannot be the stereotypical teens), so I can see it breaking the ice to bigger “Otherness” issues. I also respected how this book might help me handle illness later on in my life experiences. I’ve never (thank God) had to half-live in a hospital with family members, so I had no idea.
I still cried at the end of this book. But only because I know life isn’t fair in a lot of ways – not because the story itself was moving. I definitely want most teens to read this, rather than some of the other crap that’s out there. But I don’t think I can respect anyone who blindly accepts this as some great novel or whatnot. The plot is too poor.
Usually when a book can make me cry, I say “it wins” (I’m a very heartless person, you see. It takes a writer of great skill to move me). But I don’t think the book made me cry. The book sparked memories and ideas. Those things are what made me cry.
You lose, TFIOS. You lose.

 Read the full review (+Hel’s Review) at OhSoCleverReads