Guide to Survive A Little Life

a-little-lifeThere were two ways of forgetting. For many years, he has envisioned (unimaginatively) a vault, and at the end of the day, he would gather the images and sequences and words that he didn’t want to think about again and open the heavy steel door only enough to hurry them inside, closing it quickly and tightly. But this method wasn’t effective…So he invented some solutions.

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

A Little Life was unlike any book I ever read. There are sad, destructive works written with a degree of distance from the characters where you understand their pain but are removed from it; and then there are those written with such heart-wrenching devastation, that it is difficult to breathe and convince yourself that these people do not exist. I read this book almost two months ago and I still cannot bury the grief it evoked. Goodreads rating: 5 glorious stars.

It took 18 months for Yanagihara to write this and open a world’s eyes. Her intention was to see how far she can push the reader and she more than succeeded. There is not a single horrible aspect of society that she did not spearhead; child trafficking, rape, domestic abuse, drug addiction, and self-harm, just to name a few. What amazes me is that she gave unspeakable descriptions but with such absolute and aloof definitiveness, the emotion you felt originated within yourself. It was hard enough to read the facts she presented to you, but it became exponentially more difficult in the rare moments Jude embraced his emotions.

There was one vivid scene that invoked the same terror you feel when you  watch a horror movie and you want to scream at the idiotic protagonist not to go down the stairs. Just when you think Jude will heal, Yanagihara described, with a horrible sense of foreboding, that he was about to walk into his apartment to begin a night that became his final undoing.  This was right after  a drunk Caleb confronted Harold and Jude in a restaurant and Jude went home alone. Until this point, Jude and company had their lives [mostly] put together; they knew their flaws and deep-rooted issues that they continued to work through, but this night, snapped Jude’s control over his painful past. When Caleb violated Jude in all the same ways Jude faced as a child, he destroyed the vault Jude maintained.

There were a number of times, like this passage, where it was too much of everything. Too much horror, too much anguish, too much grief.  Yanagihara wielded her words like swords that struck at the most vulnerable parts of the book and the only way to defend yourself was to enact your defense mechanisms. In many situations, the only option to move forward was to become so numb that no amount of heinous child molestation would be able to affect you; and trust me, there was plenty of it so you better be pretty damn numb.

The diction was beautiful; however, I zoned out on occasion because it was too wordy. Though it’s sacrilegious to say this about any well-written novel, there were a lot of extraneous details that could have been omitted without losing the integrity of the scenes. Even though I understood the importance of every passage, some of them were inessential to the plot and character development and took away from the momentum of the overall book.

It took weeks to finish and by the end, I needed to escape. It appeared that surrender was the only option because the agony was so exorbitant, all I could wonder was how Jude fought to survive. But I guess that is what Yanagihara’s goal was the whole time: how much can a human endure and still find a will to live?

“Girls will get what’s coming to them”

To the guy on the bus that was wearing this hat.

I’ve been going over and over how to write this. I was on the phone with my mom when I saw you. I’m still at a loss for words.

Girls will get what’s coming to them. 

If that isn’t a threat, then I don’t know what is.

Normally by now I would have something to say. An inspiration. Something that drives me to write, but I can’t express the anger. The fear. The disgust. The sadness.

Girls will get what’s coming to them.

I hope this resonates with you all. I hope you can’t get these words out of your head because women never will. This is always a fear in the back of our minds when we walk down the street, when we’re at a bar, when we’re somewhere unfamiliar. We know this is what a lot of men think.

Especially after seeing everything in the news about women being brutally raped because they were “too drunk” and then a year later, their attackers are set free. There are no repercussions because it’s our fault.

Girls will get what’s coming to them.

You deserved it because your clothes were too revealing. You smiled too much. You got a little drunk. Too drunk. You were careless about your drink and got drugged.

It was your fault and you got what was coming to you.

You rejected a shell of a man that feels worthless. You held your head up and ignored the men that called out to you. You knew your worth and didn’t settle for the men that treated you like a piece of meat. Like an object.

Girls will get what’s coming to them.

Flatbread Somerville Prays for Orlando

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This week was heartbreaking for millions around the world. After the tragedy on Saturday night/Sunday morning, entire communities rose up to help the victims and their families. So far, millions of dollars have been donated to causes and there are still benefits held this week, and I’m sure well into this weekend. Orlando’s LGBT civil rights organization Equality Florida’s GoFundMe raised over $3 million which is the record high for the site, and of that, $2 million was raised in one day, a Las Vegas Gay Bar hosted a fundraiseras well as many big companies such as JPMorgan Chase who pledged to donate up to $500,000.

But in my small community: I was walking down the street on Wednesday night, and I saw a sign on a window.

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It warmed my heart to know that over a thousand miles away from Orlando, communities are rising up to help in any way that they can. The second I walked into Flatbread, I was greeted with a smiley and energetic staff and even complete strangers! They really started off the experience the best way possible.

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There was a donation table (if you chose to donate and there was NO pressure to) where people were donating and writing notes to the victims and their families.

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I sat at the bar and was tended to by fantastic bartenders – who, like the staff out front, were wearing rainbow hearts on their shirts. And I also want to give a shout-out to the gentleman that was wearing a white shirt with all the victims names written on the front and back. YOU ARE AWESOME. I really wish I got a picture to include here.

They had two drinks that were included in the specials if you wanted to donate- Strawberry-Lemonade w/vodka (my favorite) and a Strawberry bourbon drink. Both were fantastic and to my surprise- reasonably priced. As for the pizza…I’m big on pizza. Anyone that knows me- I eat a lot of pizza and I’m kind of picky when it comes to it being good or bad. So, when it came time to order, I had to choose their homemade-sausage pizza, and it was some of the best I’ve had- compliments to the chef.

Overall experience: ah-maz-ing. The drinks were great, the food was fantastic, atmosphere was perfect, and all while being in a place that has the heart to support people that they may or may not know. I always heard great things about this restaurant, but now knowing that they are extremely supportive of the LGBT community and the victims and their families, I will DEFINITELY be back.

Love Wins

Sometimes things happen that are too tragic for words. I want to scream, throw things, and let out the anger building in me for every single person of the 49 that were killed on Saturday night and the 53 that were injured. But if I did, I would be no less of a coward than the soulless shooter.

My heart is heavy from the grief I feel for the people that I have no connection with- that were either killed, injured, or the families of those that were killed or injured.

It never fails to amaze me that so much hate can possibly exist in this world and it hurts- in ways you cannot understand unless you’ve felt something this close to your heart- to know how much suffering was caused.

This act was a horrifyingly despicable act of cowardice. It has nothing to do with race or religion. And I am BEYOND sick of everyone making these awful events about things they are not.

This was a hate crime. This was an act of terrorism. This was an attack on our country. On our people.  Isn’t that awful enough, that we do not need to make it more awful by blaming people that had no connection to it?

What I think bothers me the most, is that people out there thought it was a good idea to kill and hurt so many people just because of who they love. You have to love the irony. In simpler terms:

They kill because other people love.

This is not a society anyone should ever have to live in. To be in fear of leaving your house because of who you are? That is not what this beautiful country stands for. So love is what needs to be the solution. The anger we all feel about this must be turned to love because if you fight back with violence, how do you prove that the love we all fight so hard for, is as strong as we all know it is. You can’t stop being who you are because some poor excuse of a man tried to instill fear, because that is how they win.

My thoughts and prayers have been with Orlando since I’ve heard about this tragedy. I am an ally of the LGBT community and live for the day that we no longer hear of these hateful crimes.

To the guy at the bar

To the guy at the bar that got in my face and told me no one ever told him no. The guy that started swearing at me because I didn’t want to talk to him. The guy who told me to ‘tell him how many fucking piercings I have in my ears.’ 

The guy who continued to glare and stare at me because I refused to talk to him and answer his questions. The guy who I could feel  menacingly undress me with his eyes because I refused to look at him.

I do not owe you anything. No one owes you anything. I do not need to tell you how many piercings I have.

I do not need to answer you because “no one says no to you.” Because you’re wrong. People do say no to you, you just do not care to listen.

I looked you in the eyes and asked who you thought you were talking to, and you got angrier. You started angrily swearing, mumbling under your breath, and glaring, even while my friend got in the middle and stood up for me.

I’m sorry for you. I pity your cowardice. I pity you for sitting alone at the bar and hatefully attacking innocent girls just trying to get a beer with her friends. I pity you for searching for a weakness and trying to exert your power over it because you have no control over your own pathetic life.

I just pray no other girl fell prey to that anger. To that selfish, self-hatingly false statement that no one says no to you. Because you are a despicable predator.

But you are not to be feared. No, you are to be stood up to, since you cannot face yourself. No girl should need to feel threatened by a coward. Under any circumstances. You think no one says no to you, but I want you to know how wrong you are. Because one day, that girl you harass will press charges. And you will learn that being a predator is nothing to laugh at.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Every Youngster Should Read

TTT This week over at The Broke and the Bookish, the Top Ten Tuesday theme is Top Ten books Every x Should Read. I sifted through a thousand mental book lists tailored to different personalities, readers, and people in general, and finally decided to make this list about the youngsters. By “youngsters” I mean high school/college kids just looking to get out in the world and start figuring out what life is.
Note: This list was a little shorter because I think they cover all aspects of growing up (I think) and cannot think of any others. BUT! If you think of any not on this list, please feel free to comment them!

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky- If you don’t read any other book on this list, please read this one. It talks about issues that are hard to talk about such as domestic violence, rape, and hate crimes in ways that show that is is wrong to be either the people committing those actions, or the ones standing by and witnessing.
  2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling- This book was super important to me because it was set at a time when everyone hated Harry and no one believed him when he said that Voldemort was back. Not only did Harry only have a handful of friends, but he also lost the one person that was closest to him. It’s a perfect story about loss and perseverance.
  3. the catcher in the rye, J.D. Salinger- This is more than just another story about a bratty pre-pubescent child. This is a story about a kid that wants to follow his dreams in a world where he feels misunderstood, sound familiar?
  4. Divergent, Veronica Roth- I loved this book and the message it sends. That you should always do what makes you happy and you have to stick up for what you believe.
  5. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn- I included this not because it is ridiculously well-written, but because it shows you that not everything and everyone are the way they seem.
  6. The Maze Runner & The Kill Order, James Dashner- It is important to read both of these and question yourself and your actions. It makes you remember that you should stay true to yourself and ask yourself: if you lost all your memories today, would you still make the same choices over again?
  7. A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket- Any of them….pick one! This is just to show you that seriously random and unfortunate incidents, that are completely out of your control, will be thrown at you throughout life…for lack of a better way of phrasing it: shit happens.

Cyborg Tales: Better than the “First”

Capture3I can’t help that I love J.F. Johns. She’s an incredibly talented author and I’m obsessed with her work. Especially Cyborg Tales. My Goodreads rating: 5 stars. Obviously.

Johns let me read the book before it was published  as a beta reader (you can only imagine my excitement!) and I fell in loveee with this novella.

My only complaint is just that. It’s a novella. I wanted more than the 100 pages she gave, but I guess it made me appreciate each page more. Or that’s what I tell  myself to curb the bitterness.

In this prequel to the series beginning with Eternal Darkness, Johns continues with the same characters and awesome technique.  She draws in the reader by giving the perfect amount of backstory to each character and in some cases, how they relate to each other.

What I also love about this novella, is that Johns balances ~6 different story lines, giving just enough detail and intrigue, but at the same time, she knew when to stop and let the reader’s mind wander. Many authors write novellas that pick up slowly for 80 pages but then rush at the ending…definitely not the case here. The story and characters were developed at an even pace throughout. She also left a bit to the imagination so she gets brownie points.

Speaking of leaving a bit to your imagination,  once again, Johns goes with the eye theme for the gorgeous cover.  But these are not quite normal eyes, so it just makes you wonder what her purpose is there.

Besides the mysterious cover, this is an important book because it serves as a reminder that everyone has a past and they all handle their trauma differently. Some people handle their misfortunes by taking care for and looking after everyone else, like Sam, while others lash out on the world, like Madeleine. Truthfully, I never considered this while reading Eternal Darkness, but the fact is that while you sit back and judge Madeleine for being too bitchy, and Sam for being too kind, it’s because of a story we, at the time, had not idea about.

I just really hope her next book comes out soon….I’m quite impatient for it. In the mean time, you all should check out this novella!

Just bite his face

Don’t bite his face, Eleanor told herself. It’s disturbing and needy and never happens in situation comedies or movies that end with big kisses.
“I’m sorry about yesterday,” she said.
He hung on to his straps and shrugged. “Yesterday happens.”
God, it was like he wanted her to eat his face clean off.

If you never read Eleanor & Park, I suggest you change that, stat. It’s no secret I dislike love stories, and I practically retch at the thought of any Nicholas Sparks book, but this book….wow. Maybe it’s because E&P, as a whole, has meaning, and there is substance to the characters; or maybe it’s because the book revolves around a theme that talks to more than something as basic as a guy that only sees a pretty/thin girl that makes emotional instability seem sexy.

Eleanor mayyyy be my new favorite character, sorry Scarlet, but you were replaced. Anyone that knows me, knows I am the polar opposite of normal. Me in a nutshell: I almost never say the right thing at the right time and I have a [very] difficult time expressing anything in a way that any other [normal] person would. If I had a superpower based on my personality, it would be to make an innocent situation as awkward as humanly possible. Trust me on that. If you disagree, ask any human (or animal, for that matter) that I ever interacted with.

But Eleanor-  I understand her. Maybe I cannot understand her fashion sense, but her as an individual, a human, a friend…I understand. The quote above stands out and shows how genuine Eleanor is, how in-touch and shamelessly herself she is. She never (not even once!) apologizes for being weird, or chastises herself for thinking something like biting a her boyfriend’s face is bizarre, and I love that. It takes a truly strong person to own their strangeness and Eleanor definitely does that.

Read. This. Book. 😀

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Visuals I Loved

This weeks’ theme for Top Ten Tuesday was books with visuals you love, whether they be graphic novels, picture books, or comics. Since I read very little of these genres, I wrote about my childhood favorites as well as added a fourth category: novels with visuals [I loved] on either chapter starts, or throughout the book.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone–  I loved the pictures under the chapter titles…for every single chapter. And don’t even get me started on the covers, something about the art just brings me back to my childhood.
  2. A Series of Unfortunate Events– The drawings are so bizarre throughout the entire series and it was eerie how similar the characters and settings in the movie were to the images from the books. That probably sounds silly considering that’s the intention of all books-to-films, but it’s rare that movies actually nail it (i.e. the Twilight saga)
  3. Where the Wild Things Are– My mom is obsessed with this book and I will admit, at first it freaked me out, but then I grew to love the detail and the peculiarity of the art
  4. Illuminae– There were a number of calligrams that were beautiful and contributed to the storyline. Not only did the images depict what the authors described, but most times (not always), the authors actually used them to continue with the prose.
  5. A Christmas Carol– Seriously one of my favorite Christmas books- for storyline and pictures. There are a number of different versions, picture-wise, (as with a lot of classics) and I like most of them because they all show different artists’ take on the characters and sceneries.
  6. The Mitten– I was so obsessed with Jan Brett’s books growing up, particularly with the detail because it is so amazing.  I was particularly thrilled by the pictures in the corners because they gave a hint/reminder at what the images on the next and previous pages contained…In general, very creative for a children’s book.
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar– I just really love food. To be honest I have a love-hate relationship with this book- I somewhat hate the images because they are so choppy, but since it’s about food, I kind of love it
  8. Archie comics- Remember when these were a thing? Yea, lets go back to those days please.

 

I Almost Forgot About You

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Like Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, I Almost Forgot About You will show legions of readers what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction.

I really wanted to like this book, I truly did, but I could not and to be honest, the writing was the only highlight; but even still, it was not enough to keep me around. If I rated this on my Goodreads, I would give it 1 star for its writing, bringing the grand total to maybe 3…and that is being generous.

I think my biggest issue was how misleading the summary was. When I first read it, the book seemed like something I would be able to relate to, and if not now, then maybe I could carry the lesson with me for a decade until I could. It is pretty cookie cutter really, a woman just trying to find her way in the world, and letting go of past mistakes. But the truth is, this book was much more mature than that.

So, what stopped me from sucking it up and finishing it?

Since I seriously overestimated my ability to relate to this book, I was completely turned off of the concept. When I first read the summary, it appeared that it would be about a woman in her 30s (maybe 40s) that felt stuck in her life and was prepared to make a change, but boy was I wrong. It turns out that the main character is mid-50s, divorced twice, with 2 fully grown kids and a practice she co-owns with a fellow optometrist. To put my life in perspective, I’m just about 24, never married, with no intention to reproduce anytime soon (if at all), and I have a difficult enough time running my own life, let alone a business.

So, with that being said, I had zero-zip-zilch-nada in common with the protagonist, and was unable to bring myself to finish it. In fact, the entire time I was in possession of this book, I felt like a black cloud hovered just above my head; full of wisdom I could not even fathom for another 30 years and about 5 major life events.

Going forward, I suggest McMillan evaluate the summary of her books prior to publication so as to not mislead readers.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review

Top Ten Tuesday: Villains I Love and Hate

TTTThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic was about scary/Halloweeny/fall type books, but I rarely read anything in the scary category and don’t really know which fall into the fall category (pun intended), so instead, I picked a past TTT topic that speaks to my heart: villains. Since I wanted to discuss villains I love and hate the most, I split this post in half to talk about both.

Villains I [kind of] wanted to hate, but instead loved:

  1. Amazing Amy- from Gone Girl. This girl is legitimately psychotic, but without a doubt the most brilliant character ever and you cannot hate her (or at least not entirely.) Did she step a little out of line to destroy her cheating husband’s life? Maybe a little. BUT, not to say he deserved it, but you should not cheat on someone as crazy/intelligent/forward-thinking as Amy…or you could be a decent human being and not cheat at all.
  2. Damon Salvatore- from The Vampire Diaries. He will forever be my favorite villain slash maybeee not-so-villainous character. I’m still a little on the fence about his classification because it was unclear where his true loyalties lie until almost the end of the second book. Ultimately, villain won and I still love him.
  3. Draco Malfoy- from Harry Potter. I most definitely consider him a villain, even though he turned out to be a good guy…I’m really seeing a theme here, maybe that’s what I should have made this topic out to be. Anyway. Even though Draco turned out to be okay, he was still an awful person for 75% of the series.
  4. Queen Irina- from The Shadow Queen. I really wanted to hate her and I tried with all my heart to, but every time I thought of her, it reminded me of Regina from Once Upon a Time and I just really love her. Part of me kept hope that Queen Irina would turn out to be a good person, like Regina, though I knew she never would.
  5.  Circe- from Rebel Angels. This woman was just plain evil and conniving, but I still like her. I think for the most part she was an honest person, even though she would make sure the scales always tipped in her favor, but I think she was also protective of Gemma.

Villains I hated with every, single, fiber in my being:

  1. Brother Luke- from A Little Life. Hate cannot even begin to cover the emotion I have for this poor excuse for a human. His heinous crimes against one of my favorite characters are unspeakable. He is, and will always be, my most hated villain.
  2. Humbert Humbert- from Lolita. I will forever hate this man no matter how many literary criticisms I read in his defense. He is a despicable human being and the second worst villain in the world.
  3. Caleb- from Divergent. my goodness is he a horrible person. Also, I will never, ever, ever forgive him for Tris’ death.
  4. Maven- from Red Queen. There was maybe a span of 50 pages or so where I actually liked this guy, but even that was a stretch. I always knew there was something off about him, and almost pitied him when he was “forced to live in his older brother’s shadow” but his betrayal…that is just unforgivable. What makes me madder than his wrongdoings, is that I almost believed he was a good person. Almost.
  5. Renesmee- from Breaking Dawn. I doubt she could be considered a typical villain, but I disagree. She destroyed lives, almost killed her mom, had powers she never should have, and was just all around creepy.

Those are some of my most loved/hated villains! What are yours?

The Siren

img_0636“You have to let it go. Hate makes it stay.”

‘What if there’s no more room for love?’ she asked quietly, laying her head on my shoulder.

‘Don’t be silly.’ I wrapped my arm around her. ‘There’s always room for love. Even if it’s as small as a crack in a door. That will be enough.’

Kahlen is a Siren, bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger . . . but Kahlen can’t bear to stay away. Will she risk everything to follow her heart?

I can think of no better time to read this magical book about love and letting go. In a world so full of hate, this came as a breath of fresh air, and almost a reminder, that love wins every, single, time. My Goodreads rating: 4 stars.

As much as I loved almost everything about this book, it did have flaws so let’s discuss those first. There were quite a few times I noticed the characters acted out of character and made comments or committed actions that made no sense coming from them. This happened with Elizabeth a majority of the time, and it was almost as though Cass had a difficult time deciding what personality she wanted to give her. It was frustrating and at times distracted from what was going on in the scene.

My other major complaint is the ending. While I occasionally love happily-ever-afters, this one ended too well and was almost too satisfying. There was an undertone of pain and sorrow, but that was undermined by the on earl happy peacefulness; it would have been a stronger ending if Cass emphasized the suffering of the other characters that was caused at the expense of the happy ones.

But nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book….it practically sings to the reader. It’s perfectly detailed and makes you yearn for your own emotional freedom…even if you’re lucky enough to have it already.  This connection creates a certain degree of understanding with Kahlen and you cannot help but want her to have everything her heart desires.  Even though readers mostly always want their favorite characters to have all they deserve, I had a different bond with her…I couldn’t tell you the exact reason why it was different, besides the fact that it just was.

Kahlen, like most of us, is imprisoned by her emotions. She constantly feels trapped because she cannot lead the life she wants to, she is haunted by the destruction she causes as a result of being a siren, and she is daunted by the idea of watching love, the only thing she ever wanted, pass her by. Yes, it is extremely easy to identify with Kahlen, and in the end, she teaches us the most important lesson about life and love.

I was sad for this book to end, and maybe that feeling contributed to my overall bitterness, but if given the opportunity, I recommend you check this book out…if you’re into sirens and hopeless young love, that is.

 

Membership to a Safe Haven

I’m not entirely positive, but there’s a very good chance that I am one of the very select few, that gets ridiculously and most definitely childishly excited, over getting a new library card. So here I am, thrilled, staring at my new shiny tag that I already added to the keychain previously only home to my boxing tag/mini boxing glove, and various keys.

To all the peeps reading this that assumed I already picked out a bunch of books from my first scour of the shelves:

You’re right.

8 to be exact.

I’ve been in a sort of dark place lately- pretty unsatisfied with almost every aspect of my life and severely lacking in my mental nourishment that is reading. So I’m desperately hoping, beyond hope, that this haul will pull me back to the place I love to be- immersed in words.

In order to do this, I had no choice but to find some very dark books (Living Dead Girl, In too deep, Finding Hope) one completely outside of my normal picks (we are the ants) as well as some girly type but with a seemingly good message (The ListAnahita’s Woven Riddle, All the Bright Places, Matched)  At least I’m really banking on them having good messages since I’m not a big fan of the predictable Nicholas Sparks type where the guy-gets-the-dark-emotionally-unavailable-girl-and-they-live-happily-ever-after…rubbish.