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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Release Date: September 17, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-galley
Source: Publisher
Pages: 288
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, This Song Will Save Your Life is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

This is my third Leila Sales novel, and I thought I knew what to expect after reading 2010’s Mostly Good Girls and 2011’s Past Perfect—quirky characters, a distinctly awesome female voice, and lots of laughs.  Her latest, This Song Will Save Your Life, has the first two, but it brings something just as welcome as humor.  It brings hard truths, surprises, and all of my favorite Britpop jams.

Elise is a tough sell of a protagonist, but not because she is unlikeable.  It’s more like she’s rough around the edges.  Even at her bristliest (most bristly?), you still want her to succeed.  Elise is a very smart girl, but she’s also 16, and thus she makes 16-year-old decisions.  I occasionally read reviews where someone claims to not like a character because they make bad choices.  Personally, I don’t agree with that reasoning.  Elise makes some terrible choices here regarding herself, her safety, and her parents, but I don’t see these things as reasons to dislike her.  I see those as pieces of her character, and every “bad” choice gives the reader more insight into who Elise really is.  She wears her issues like a badge of honor (or, more accurately, like a scar on her wrist), and people like that can make other feel uncomfortable.  (I think it’s because those people make other confront their own issues, but that is neither here nor there.)  I love Elise’s voice, I love how she thinks, and I wish I could spend more time with her.

There’s only a bit of “romance” in This Song Will Save Your Life, which absolutely works for me.  I know, it’s shocking, right?  Despite my love of a strong romantic storyline, I don’t believe that all YA books need to have a plethora of kissing scenes.  Here, the romantic element appears, but it doesn’t overpower the story and it’s handled well (and in a somewhat fresh manner for the typical YA book).  Oh, DJ This Charming Man.  You got it half right, anyway.  However, what it “lacks” in romance, it totally makes up for in music references.  At the risk of sounding more ridiculous than usual, I have been a hipster since before that was a thing, so I love every single name drop.  The Cure, The Smiths, Blur, Pulp, LCD Soundsystem, Belle & Sebastian, The Rapture-- yes, yes, and yes please.  I wish Start was a place I could actually go, because this is absolutely my kind of club.

What I found myself thinking throughout the entire story is I don’t understand why Leila Sales isn’t a household name.  Girl can write, and she can write more than one kind of story.  She tackles the heavy topic of teenage suicide a totally non-After-School-Special way.  Yes, it’s serious and it’s handled with care, but it’s never preachy.  I’d already declared myself a fangirl of Leila’s after reading Past Perfect in one sitting, but this only solidifies it.  This gets a special bonus of taking place in Rhode Island.  I could accept any and all of the seemingly impossible bits like a teenage girl wandering the streets alone at night or an underground mobile dance party because of this, and you would too if you’ve ever lived in The Ocean State.

I’d highly recommend This Song Will Save Your Life to anyone, especially music lovers.  Basically, if the cover says Leila Sales, you can’t go wrong.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Deception Giveaway

Release Date: August 27, 2013 
Author: C.J. Redwine 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander's whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father's death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it's up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington's army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn't long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the band of survivors begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive. 

In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (47)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Infinityglass by Myra McEntire

Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Author Website: http://myramcentire.com/
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -­have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time trav­elers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order.

With the Infinityglass (central to understanding and harnessing the time gene) at large, the hunt is on to find it before someone else does.

But the Hourglass has an advantage. Lily, who has the ability to locate anything lost, has determined that the Infinityglass isn't an object. It's a person. And the Hourglass must find him or her first. But where do you start searching for the very key to time when every second could be the last?

Why can't I wait? 
I loved Myra's previous two installments of this story, and I'm even more excited for this now that it's been announced that one of the POVs is from fan-favorite Dune.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Age Group: Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Pages: 181
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

Much of Neil Gaiman’s work for adults can be described as “fiction about fiction.” He turned the aftermath of Alan Moore’s superhero-deconstructing run on Marvelman into an examination of legends told about Marvelman. He’d later reuse this trick on his two-issue Batman story “Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?” Of course, he followed up Marvelman with Sandman, which is an entire series about fairytale creatures and dreams shaping the world. American Gods was concerned with the stories we tell and who derives power from them. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is very much in the same vein, although perhaps at an even higher-level than Sandman (sadly, that discussion is too spoiler-filled for a review). Most of the techniques Gaiman uses in the novel are just as familiar as his themes, so if you’re already a fan, there’s plenty here that you’ll like. If you’re not, this book isn’t going to do anything to change your mind.

The novel is framed as an adult recounting a childhood adventure which he’d totally forgotten, which smartly allows Gaiman to maintain an adult voice despite the action centering around a seven-year-old. Gaiman occasionally uses the adult perspective to ruminate about the differences between adulthood and childhood. While it’s an interesting tactic, I’m not sure the differences are quite as clear cut as the narrator implies. The device also helps mitigate the novel’s only real issue: despite the imaginative world presented, seven-year-olds whose response to everything is to go and read Batman comics just aren’t that interesting (yes; I just called my seven-year-old self uninteresting).  A somewhat subtle benefit of the adult narrator is that it lets the reader answer for themselves the big question at the end of the novel: Was the climax of the story worth it?

The plot itself is also rather standard Gaiman fare. A human stumbles upon some sort of mystical world, which then becomes the star of the show. The human doesn’t really understand what’s going and then the mystical forces go ahead and duke things out amongst each other. That’s not a criticism: it may be standard Gaiman fare, but it’s also really well-done Gaiman fare. The prose is beautifully written and garners quite a bit of nostalgic weight due to the adult perspective. Gaiman peppers the world with enough new and interesting creatures that the plot manages to feel more epic and original than it actually is, even if he reuses quite a few ideas from his previous work.

Which brings us to the center of the novel: the Hempstocks, some of the most “meta” characters Gaiman has ever dreamed up. I found them the source of some delightful and charming ideas, such as Old Mrs. Hempstock’s enumeration of the differences between neutrons, protons, and electrons. Some of the implications and discussions they have are both hilarious and mind-bending.  One of Gaiman’s strongest gifts is his ability to provide weight and a sense of history to things that are only obliquely stated. The Hempstocks and the novel’s antagonist are both examples of this gift: their presence, abilities, and the suggestions they make gives the impression that there are many books’ worth of Hempstock-related material living somewhere in Gaiman’s head, even if we never end up seeing those adventures.

Considering the general “not much new” tenor of my review so far, I want to make it clear that I enjoyed the novel. The novel is well-written and the pacing is perfect.  There’s not a wasted scene, which probably isn’t a surprise, considering the novel is fewer than 200 pages. The novel reuses most of the tricks that made Sandman such an awesome experience (it’s somewhat remarkable how much the Hempstocks’ powers resemble the effects of The Dreaming), and I think my mind would have been significantly more blown had I never read Morpheus’ adventures. There’s a lot to like here and nothing’s done poorly. In the end, the novel’s biggest strength, but also the facet that makes it seem somewhat like a reread, is that it feels like the book version of Sandman. And if the worst thing you can say about a book is that it reminds you of Sandman, how wrong can you go?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock Giveaway

Release Date: August 13, 2013
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR

In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I'm sorry I couldn't be more than I was—that I couldn't stick around—and that what's going to happen today isn't their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cover Re-reveal: A Little Too Far by Lisa Desrochers

A Little Too Far
by Lisa Desrochers

Release Date: Sept. 17, 2013
William Morrow

Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBookstore

Have you ever gone just a little too far?

Lexie Banks has.Yep. She just had mind-blowing sex with her stepbrother.In her defense, she was on the rebound, and it’s more of a my-dad-happened-to-marry-a-woman-with-a-super-hot-son situation. But still, he’s been her best friend and confidant for better part of the last few years…and is so off limits. It’s a good thing she’s leaving in two days for a year abroad in Rome.But even thousands of miles away, Lexie can’t seem to escape trouble. Raised Catholic, she goes to Confession in hopes of alleviating some of her guilt…and maybe not burning in hell. Instead, she stumbles out of the confessional right into Alessandro Moretti, a young and very easy on the eyes deacon…only eight months away from becoming a priest. As Lexie and Alessandro grow closer, and when Alessandro’s signals start changing despite his vow of celibacy, she doesn’t know what to think. She’s torn between falling in love with the man she shouldn’t want and the man she can’t have. And she isn’t sure how she can live with herself either way.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-galley
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 416
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?

This may come as a jaw-dropping shock to you, but here goes: my name is Jessica and I am a fangirl.  (Hi, Jessica.)  It’s true.  When I am into something like a book or TV show or fandom, I want to know all the details.  I want to understand the inside jokes.  I want to gush and giggle and show my unabashed love like the proud nerd that I am.  Of course, when I heard Rainbow Rowell’s new book Fangirl was about, well, a fangirl, I knew I would love it.  What I didn’t know was just how hard it would hit me. I won’t be the first (or the last) to make this statement, but I am a fangirl for Fangirl.

First, I’ve got to ask—why aren’t there more books about the first year of college?  That is the weirdest and best/worst year.  It’s ripe with coming of age drama!  I related to Cath in so many ways—her anxiety about fitting in, her wish that there were instructions for how to go through the line at the dining hall, that odd transition from high school girl to college… girl.  Honestly, if it hadn’t been for marching band and the world’s best roommate, I would’ve eaten protein bars in my room for a month just like Cath.  I’m thankful that Rainbow tackled this crazy time, and she absolutely got it all right.  Maybe there are books about freshman year, but they’re just not as perfectly on the money like this one is.

And speaking of Rainbow, she certainly has a talent for characterization.  (IMO, she has a talent for everything, but I digress!).  I love how people-like these characters are.  They aren’t cookie cutter placeholders that blend one into another.  You can imagine their faces in your mind so clearly, even without explicit physical details.  Everyone practically leaps right off the page and into your mind like they’re all having an Emergency Kanye Party in your brain room.  The standouts are Cath (of course) and Levi.  Cath is like a slightly more functional and entirely more realistic Liz Lemon, and Levi is essentially incomparable.  Merlin’s beard, is he incomparable.

I’ve got to mention the FANFICTION.  Cath writes fanfic about story-within-the-story fantasy character Simon Snow called Carry On, Simon, and we are treated to pieces of fanfic AND “original” Simon Snow words. It's like Harry Potter and Twilight combined into a magical, vampiric omelet with three kinds of cheese.  It’s incredible.  As a member of the Harry Potter fandom for over a decade now, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the fandoms.  I hope Cath and Wren know Watford will always be there to welcome them home.

I’m a crier by nature, but combining the nostalgia and blessedly excellent writing and the  darkly enchating story, and I cried for about the last 50 pages.  Albeit, I cried while grinning my face off and giggling giddily and occasionally wrinkling my nose in glee, but this is what Rainbow Rowell does to me.  I thought I knew what to expect with Fangirl.  I’ve never been so happy to have my high expectations not only matched but exceeded like to-infinity-and-beyond exceeded.  If you are in any fandom, this book is for you.  If you have ever felt like an outsider (Stay gold, Pony Boy), this book is for you.  I will be riding this book high for weeks.  THANK YOU, Rainbow.  Sincerely.

Monday, July 8, 2013

ALA Annual Conference Recap

It's been a few years since I've been to an American Library Association conference and attending Annual in Chicago reminded me why it's one of my favorite book events. Slower than BEA and filled with all manner of book-loving people, ALA is nothing short of amazing. I have no idea how I stayed away so long.

My bed in Chicago. :)
Fate took me to ALA this year. Yes, I'd entertained the possibility of going, but money was tight and it seemed a little far-fetched. That's until I asked my friend Sam about the possibility of staying with him. As luck had it, he was headed to Atlanta while ALA was going on in Chicago and offered me his keys in exchange for feeding his super-sweet cats, Abednego and Moo-Moo. With room and board taken care of, all I had to do was buy a plane ticket so you can bet I made it happen.

Stacey from Page Turners Blog picked me up at the airport on June 26, and we headed to Sam's
together. Upon arriving, on a scorching summer day, we made the devastating discovery that Sam's place did not have A/C. We went with him to Quarantino's for dinner and got some absolutely delicious family-style Italian food. We were fairly exhausted when we got home so I crawled into what would become my bed for the next seven nights. (I could have had an air mattress, but the recliner laid flat.)

On Thursday Stacey and I set out to find fans for the apartment. We found a local Salvation Army online and headed that way, convinced they had what we needed. Along the way we stopped at BIG & littles, which was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and had some yummy beer battered cheeseburgers.

Fried food in our bellies, we continued to the thrift store and found the box fan of our dreams. We also found the place where golf clubs go to die.

In anticipation of a weekend chock-full of exhibits, we crashed hard Thursday night. (Well, after I got Stacey addicted to Whale Wars.) The next day we had lunch with the lovely Kellie Celia from Walden Pond Press at Lou Malnati's. What's better than tasty Chicago-style pizza and bookish conversation?

Exhibits kicked off that evening and it was an absolute crush of bodies in McCormick Place. It was more of a madhouse then I've seen outside of BEA in a long time. Some of the most egregious behavior I've ever seen on a conference floor also happened Friday as attendees raided the Harlequin booth. The booth was bare  by the time I walked past it. Even the "Display Only" copies were missing.

Of course, there were authors abound over the weekend. I got to meet Jon Klassen, Hannah Moskowitz, and Tone Almhjell, ran into Brandon Mull, Ellen Hopkins, Elizabeth Scott and Shannon Messenger, and grabbed a quick breakfast with Geoff Herbach. I even got a healthy dose of New Adult during a panel featuring Shannon Stoker, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Molly McAdams.

Shannon Stoker, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Molly McAdams
Bloggers weren't in short supply either. There was Katie from Katie's Book Blog, Jen from Novel Thoughts and ARCycling, Lena from Addicted 2 Novels, Rachel from Rachel's Book Reviews and Kari from A Good Addiction.

And my goodness, the books! I picked up a few I am really excited to read, including Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Impossible Knife of Memory, Grasshopper Jungle, and The Paradox of Vertical Flight. They all sound fabulous.

By Sunday night we were due for more pizza and proper touristy excursions. Stacey and I met up with some friends, got Giordano's for dinner, and stopped by the Bean and Buckingham Fountain.

The Bean

Buckingham Fountain
I came home utterly exhausted and thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in my own bed. Aches and pains aside, it was a truly excellent trip, especially since it'll have to tide me over until next year. I'm already looking forward to next time.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: December 2, 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Pages: 372
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

I am absolutely not the target audience for Anna and the French Kiss. It seems prudent to just start the review with that. The books does what it tries to do very well: It’s a convincing story about high school with a narrator who both acts and sounds like a high school girl. Unfortunately, I’m neither in high school, nor am I a girl (shocking, I know). Listening to or interacting with high schools girls is near the very bottom of my current interests. The novel is sort of like the teenage romance version of The Catcher In The Rye. It does exactly what it sets out to do and I do respect it for that, but that doesn’t mean that I enjoyed reading it.

My biggest criticism of the novel is that very little actually happens to Anna. Lots of stuff happens around her, but aside from a few scenes with St. Claire and her family, Anna is very rarely the cause of or affected by the action. In fact, most of the stuff that happens around her is just briefly mentioned instead of actually shown. For example, there is a subplot in which a character has cancer. At no point do we even meet this character. The character doesn’t even have a name; we only know them because of their relationship to another character. We’re told intermittently how this character is faring, but we have no reason to care. We don’t know what this person is like. We never see this person’s relationship with the character we’re supposed to care about. The entire episode is used as a lazy way to try to make you care, but never gives you a reason to. The book is littered with tell-don’t-show moments like this. Characters fight, make up, have different fights, and break up all in one-to-two sentence tidbits scattered throughout the novel. To be fair, it makes sense that we won’t be privy to all of the gory details, since Anna herself is a bit of an outsider, but that doesn’t make the technique feel less boring and cheap.

Anna’s penchant for just telling us stuff that’s happened instead of actually showing us the scene is doubly disappointing because Perkins is really good when she actually writes a story scene. Her dialogue is well done and generally sounds natural. She’s very good at pacing a scene and Anna’s inner monologue is quite believable. Some of her descriptions of the settings and architecture are impressive. Her illustration of the sweets in a cake shop stands out as particularly well done. During some of the later conversations between Anna and St. Claire, I was surprised to find that Perkins’ descriptions and pacing had me rapidly turning pages despite my caring very little for either of the characters.

It’s unfortunate that I didn’t care for either Anna or St. Claire, because the other characters in the novel have very little depth. Josh matters only because he’s St. Claire’s best friend. Rashimi seems to only be there to have random fights with Josh so certain scenes can be more awkward. Of course, we never see the cause of or resolution to these fights. After the first few chapters, Meredith is relegated to being some vague obstacle to make Anna feel bad about liking St. Claire. The saddest part is that the characters seem like they’d be interesting if Perkins ever gave them something to do. 

Some of them have conflicts running in the background that have potential, if only we got to know the characters and see the conflict. Instead, the characters feel like obstacles at best and afterthoughts at worst, only there to try to drum up tension without actually working to earn it. Even a character who is set up as a sort of “big bad” gets one, wholly underwhelming appearance. His entire subplot and all of the talk about him in the novel could have been excised and the novel would have lost nothing important. 

It’s a shame that the execution didn’t click with me (although I can see how it would work for some: it really does do a good job of feeling like a high school girl’s diary), because there are some very good insights in here and a few moments that made me legitimately laugh out loud. I found Anna’s realization that home isn’t home because of its physical location, but because of the people there, a particularly good one to spell out. It’s something we all learn eventually, but is a good message to send to the target audience. In fact, Perkins does a pretty good job of making a book about high school seem an awful lot like the first year of college and packing in lots of little morals (mostly just told to the reader) about what that life is like.

With all that in mind, I think the book is fine for what it wants to be. Sadly, what it wants to be isn’t something I’m particularly interested in reading. I didn’t hate the novel; I just didn’t care. By the first time Josh and Rashimi had a fight we didn’t know the cause of, I was yearning for some ridiculous, Nicholas-Sparks-esque twist, like Anna contracting a debilitating disease or the world being overrun by some sort of Unicorn Armageddon. I sort of respect Perkins for instead opting for a mostly typical, realistic, down-to-earth love story, even if I found the result rather uninteresting.