I don't even know what to title this post

Hi, readers.

Just a quick post to update you as to why my blog hasn't been updated for, like, a week. My cat is sick. And when I say sick I mean really sick. As in we watch him everyday because while he's still with us, he's not going to be much longer since he hasn't eaten for a week.

I've been struggling with this a lot because, well, he's MY cat that I name Cosmo after a Fairly Odd Parent because I had no clue who Cosmo Kramer was. When we first got him nearly 15 years ago I was the only one he'd let touch him for a solid period of time. He eventually grew to accept my family, but he always loved me more. Whenever I was home he'd glue himself to my side, he'd sleep in my bed, attack my feet when I accidentally kicked him, and roll all over my black clothes because they smelled like me. Everyone else only mattered when I wasn't home, then he only had those big green eyes for me.

And now he's not gonna be here much longer and my mind just refuses to accept that because, you know, I'm 21.5 years old and he's been in my life for 14.75 years. That's more than 2/3 of my life. What am I going to do without him?

I've been an emotional wreck for numerous reasons this summer, but his illness is like the icing on top of my shitstorm of a summer cake and I just can't with everything right now. I barely have the time to sit on my laptop and think up a coherent post because I'm just watching him, playing with him, trying to coerce him to eat. He's got a few days left in him and, well, he's my priority right now.

I'll be back because this is part of life, but damn, this part of life sucks.

It would be awesome if you can keep Cosmo in your thoughts. Despite his weakened state, he's still purring and drinking water and running around. He's not suffering, and we refuse to allow him to do so. It's not fair to him.

The picture on the right was taken on August 13th. By August 19th he had lost 3-4 pounds. I don't really know what else to say aside from the fact that you should all give your pets super big hugs because you never know what's going to happen tomorrow.

Movie Madness #1: The Space Between Us

Introducing... Movie Madness! The latest meme to appear here on Lili's Reflections. Please excuse the just okay meme banner as it is the first one I have created on my own. I have to say I kind of like the layering effect I managed with the title on the film reel. But, anywho. A new meme!!!

With the recent discovery of a $5-$7 dollar movie theater nearby my father's house, I find myself going to the movies more often because, well, I can see 3 movies for the price of one elsewhere in New Jersey or New York. Because of this, I've been getting myself super hyped for some movies and decided to create a meme out of it. The purpose of this meme is to just fangirl about the movies I am most excited to see in the coming year. While some, I'm sure, will be very popular and easily recognizable to many people, some may be flying slightly under the radar. Quite like this first pick.

The Space Between Us - December 21, 2016

In this interplanetary adventure, a space shuttle embarks on the first mission to colonize Mars, only to discover after takeoff that one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet – never revealing who the father is. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Gardner Elliot – an inquisitive, highly intelligent boy who reaches the age of 16 having only met 14 people in his very unconventional upbringing.

While searching for clues about his father, and the home planet he’s never known, Gardner begins an online friendship with a street smart girl in Colorado named Tulsa. When he finally gets a chance to go to Earth, he’s eager to experience all of the wonders he could only read about on Mars – from the most simple to the extraordinary. But once his explorations begin, scientists discover that Gardner’s organs can’t withstand Earth’s atmosphere.

Eager to find his father, Gardner escapes the team of scientists and joins with Tulsa on a race against time to unravel the mysteries of how he came to be, and where he belongs in the universe. 

Let's be honest. Read that blurb above and tell me you aren't super stoked to see this movie! Combine that with the fact that Gardner is played by Asa Butterfield (and his gorgeous eyes) and Tulsa is played by Britt Robertson (hello, amazing girl crush that I loved since I first you saw in The First Time!) and you've got me hooked because I've been obsessed with space movies ever since I saw Star Trek, The Martian and Gravity in recent years. I mean, I am so excited about this movie I can even forgive just how bad of a name Tulsa is.

I think this is approaching the space movie from a different direction. While martians have been done before, a child born on Mars by accident that can never really be reunited with his own species is a super interesting idea. Couple in a rebellious streak in him and a really nerdy and awesome sounding love story in curious teens and you've got a compelling story that's worth dropping money on because, while it has a recipe for success, such a recipe has not been approached in this manner before.

Give me this romantic science fiction adventure now! December, come so I can be graduated and see this movie, please and thank you.


Have you heard of this movie before? I haven't heard of it prior to seeing a trailer for it in theaters. Doesn't it look amazing?! Three cheers for something different.

Stacking the Shelves #117

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

I am so excited for each and every one of these books.

From Random House For Review (Thank you!)
Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
I loved her WINGS series growing up, so I will always read anything Pike writes!

From Simon and Schuster For Review (Thank you!)
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Wiener
This was a surprise piece of bookmail, but I am all about it. It looks amazing!

Taken from Work (Thank you!)
Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
The Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson 
The Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson
The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson
The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson
I am currently bingeing this series and it is rocking my socks off! Everyone, give it a chance!

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
I loved this book! My library has book 3 but not book 2, so if anyone can lend book 2 I'd be forever indebted!


Have YOU read any of these books? What did you think? Don't forget to link
your own STS posts below! <3

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Game On by Michelle Smith

Series: Lewis Creek #2
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 328 (eARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.

Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months—for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.

In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I was eagerly anticipating this book for so long, and I am so happy to say that it did not disappoint. While I was a bit hesitant about the main character being the son of a pastor, all my worries about religion were thrown out the window because instead of this being a platform to preach, it is a simple plot device. Plus, it helps that Erica's family is amazing--something that is rarely found in young adult books these days. A pastor with a few party animals in the line and also a gay son for good measure who tells the world to deal with it is the leader of a kickass family. Plus, they've got a wild chicken named Oscar. Everyone needs an Oscar in their life.

The best part about this book is the fact that most of it focuses on Bri and Eric repairing their friendship. The romance is there and it is ridiculously slow burning, but it takes a backseat to their friendship. Friends force, love later. I loved this mentality because it allowed us to truly get to know both of our main characters--a boy who drinks away his fears because he doesn't think he's good enough and a girl who finds an incomparable inner strength.

However, this brings me to my main complaint: the kissing. There's not a lot of it in this book, which is unfortunate for a romance. I mean, we start the book off with Eric having a night in the backseat of a truck with some girl at a party because he is the guy you to go to "have fun." And then there is barely any kissing with him and Bri. They're super passionate on an emotional level, but when you start a story there it's like your teasing us because we aren't getting much from the actual relationship, yet we made it all the way to home base in the first chapter with a girl whose name I have completely forgotten. I feel slightly cheated because I haven't gotten more. But then I remind myself this story is just so dang perfect and I get over it. A little bit.

The way Smith focused on Bri's past relationship was really important too. While it seemed a little over the top sometimes, detailing verbal abuse and psychological abuse is important because it's an abuse that happens often in society and is often swept under the rug as not being as important. It messed with you, and this book shows that, and it's nice to see that Bri found people to support her and help fight with her--never FOR her. This girl's strength is ridiculous, and I have a lot of respect for her. None whatsoever for Matt Harris who can go fall into a hole and never come out, but so so so so so much for Bri. Matt's drama really took away from the story at times because it was so over the top, and it's easy to find yourself frustrated with Bri ignoring his threats and being scared to act on them, but when you're bullied the way she was it's hard to properly seek help, which is why it is so powerful when she eventually does so.

Also, shout out to a small glimpse of our favorite characters from book one making an appearance and getting up to their old shenanigans like nothing ever changed. I loved that!

I hope there's more in the Lewis Creek series because there's always room in my library for Southern men, killer romances, and a little bit of baseball for good pleasure. Lindsay Smith, I am so happy you found a home with Bloomsbury Spark and this book made it out into the world. Well worth the read.

4 stars

|Goodreads|Amazon|Author's Website|

FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.



Bloomsbury is kind enough to host this giveaway internationally! Good luck. (:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

My Current Obsession (7): The Great British Baking Show

I haven't been binging a lot since returning home from the UK, but lately I have been missing my study abroad experience and was searching for something...British, for lack of a better word. This baking competition is very popular in the UK and there is one season from 2014 on Netflix. I decided to dive right in on those slow nights where I am too tired to read, but too awake to sleep. I grabbed some chocolate milk, sat back, and let my mouth water for the past month.

I don't know how to describe this show. In fact, it even sounds boring at times, but I adore every second of it and even make a point to watch it on PBS and YouTube when I see new episodes are up now. EVERYTHING JUST LOOKS SO GOOD.

They take regular people that are phenomenal bakers--people that deserve to open their own shops but haven't because baking is something they do on their side and is not their regular profession. They have everything from 17 year old students to 70 year old grandmothers, construction workers, graphic designers, and people of all ethnic backgrounds that bring their own flare and cultural experiences to baking. It's crazy how diverse and interesting such a vast group of people make this show.

The show takes place in a tent on the weekends. The contestants live their normal lives Monday through Friday. They hang out with their families, they go to work or school, they practice baking...and then they spend their weekends competing towards the grand prize of ... a cake stand! And, you know, the title of the Next Great Baker. The prize just goes to show how this is a no glitz, no glam, honest to goodness fun competition with a ton of baked treats that make all of our mouths water. This is a phenomenon back in the UK, and it's slowly expanding to encompass the world.

The two hosts are ridiculous eccentric, wearing varying forms of the same outfit each weekend that make me cringe. They go around trying food for free and I am so jealous of that. And then there are the judges...Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Yes, that's his real name. He's just as sleazy as he sounds, but also super knowledgeable and interesting to hear from when he gives critiques because praise is so rare from him. And Mary Berry is s a sweet grandmother that loves her alcoholic sweets, and I love every minute of it.

Moral of this story, just watch this show. Learn how to bake. Hear your yummy grumble. Bask in the extraordinary abilities of these ordinary people. And root for someone to win that cake stand!!!


Have you ever seen this show or even heard of it? I love it! Do you have a desire to watch it now that I've told you about it? Comment below with your thoughts! <3 Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go convince my Mom to watch it.

Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Series: Stealing Snow #1
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 384 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is.

Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

This breathtaking first volume begins the story of how Snow becomes a villain, a queen, and ultimately a hero.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Before I begin this review, I'd like to say that I haven't read anything else written by Danielle Paige. This is my introduction to her writing, and I'm seriously hoping this is a case of "it's not you, it's me."

I love retellings, so when I first read this synopsis, I was all over this book. Heck, I put it in my post documenting my most anticipated books of the year. And, with that in mind, I have to say that I am ridiculously disappointed. I find it easier to explain why in a bullet format because it's been really hard for me to order my thoughts on this one...
  • Love Square = WHAT: So, this is the first thing I have to point out because it seriously hindered the plot. I am all for a killer romance, and I can even support the rare love triangle when it is done right and makes sense. But a love square? With three suitors in such a short book? I just...I don't understand. It's unnecessary and confusing, and doubly sucky when all of the love interests fall flat. What even is romance? This book just makes me think it's randomly kissing a boy and then moving onto the next one.
  • Random scenes thrown together- This book was a super slow read. The pacing is off, and I think it's also because it didn't seem like there was a true plot here. I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but I know instances of things happened. It seemed like a ton of different happenings and thoughts strewn together in an unknown timeline back-to-back with no thread properly connecting them. I don't know how else to describe it. Something is definitely missing to make this book flow.
  • Plot twists that make no sense- There are some serious plot twists in this book that I didn't see coming because they don't make a lick of sense. There is only one plot twist I saw coming because it was so obvious (which sucks because it is perhaps the biggest plot twist found at the end of the story), and the rest leave me still scratching my head because I don't really know how they further the story.
  • Forgetting characters even exist- This book makes the mistake of treating characters as mega important for a small period, and then completely forgetting about them in the next instant. There is so much open-endedness here that it is ridiculous. I'm okay with not closing up subplots because there will be a second book, but I'm not okay with forgetting they exist entirely and never revisiting them properly.
  • Meh main character- This is all made a bit harder to get through by the fact that our main character is robotic and not at all likable. I love me a good anti-hero, but I don't know what Snow is. She's just...there. She's there, and annoying, and not that smart, and super, super frustrating because she can't listen and would rather throw temper tantrums. Yeah. That's all I really have to say about Snow. She is not a main character that is easy to support.
  • Confusing world is confusing- I've got the gist of what is going on, but I can't figure out the layout of this world at all, nor can I really understand why it works the way it does. Entire villages of frozen people and foods that are obnoxiously green or pink or yellow and taste like emotions for unexplained reasons. There's some interesting thoughts here, but they're not explored or explained, which makes it hard to really understand a world as a reader.
Yeah, that's the main gist of it. I don't think I'll be continuing on with this series which is so sad because of my love of retellings. But dang, this book and I did not get along. I will check out Paige's other works in the future, but I'll go in slowly and apprehensively after this reading experience.

1 star


FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review. 

Waiting on Wenesday #78

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick of the week is...
Game On by Michelle Smith

Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Reading Level: Young Adult
As king of baseball in the small town of Lewis Creek, Eric Perry can have any girl he wants and win every game he plays. But when a fight lands him in jail, he’s only got one more strike before his baseball career is over for good. His only chance for redemption? The girl next door, Bri Johnson.

Bri hasn’t talked to Eric in months—for starters, she’s been too busy dealing with her jerk of an ex-boyfriend, not to mention the fact that Eric’s been preoccupied trying to drink every keg in the country dry. But when he needs a way to stay on the team, she proposes a plan: if he helps her out with community service, he can stay on the team. At first it’s a nightmare—Eric and Bri stopped being friends years ago, surely that was for a good reason, right? But as volunteering turns to bonding over old memories of first kisses under the stars, they start to have trouble remembering what pushed them apart.

In a town as small as Lewis Creek, nothing stays secret for long and their friendship and romance might mean bad news. But in this final, tumultuous spring before graduation, Eric and Bri are about to realize that nobody’s perfect alone, but they might just be perfect together.

Why I Am Waiting 

I loved book one in the Lewis Creek series which was initially published by Spencer Hill. I know the author bought back the rights, but I hadn't heard much about the book since then. I am so stoked to see that it is definitely getting published! This series is so serious yet so fun and so sporty, which means it is absolutely perfect!


Are you equally as excited for this book as me? Is there another book you are even more excited about? Please share your thoughts with me below!

Stacking the Shelves #116

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

So many books, such little time to read!

For Review From Bloomsbury (Thank you!)
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Game On by Michelle Smith 

For Review From Random House (Thank you!)
And I Darken by Kiersten White

The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson
Proposal by Meg Cabot
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Gifted From Paige (Thank you!)
Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
signed Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Borrowed from a Friend
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier


I am super excited to hop into all of these books and I'm thankful I've already finished a few of them because SUCH LITTLE TIME. AHHHHHH! Anyway, have you read any of these books? What did you think? Comment below with your thoughts! <3

Review: The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #3
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 684 (Hardcover)
Source: Bought

Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous - what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

Bestselling author Mary E. Pearson's combination of intrigue, suspense, romance and action make this a riveting page turner for teens.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Warning: This review is super long. I have thoughts, and I need to get them out!

This is one review that is really hard to write. I have been eagerly anticipating this book for what feels like forever. Pearson gave us this super complicated cast of characters that is impossible not to love, strengthened them in book two, and had us comping at the bit for book three. Now that I have finished it, I feel almost numb from emptiness. I'm sad to see this series go because I loved delving into this world with this amazing cast of characters, but part of that emptiness comes from the fact that this book impressed me and let me down all at the same time.

The first third of this book was on point. I felt like I was immediately transported back into this world, picking up right where book two left off, on the run and ready for danger around any turn. I loved being back with this crew of characters. Things were complicated and people could die at any moment and I was living for it. And then the other two thirds of the book happened and I felt like I was reading an entirely different story. I mean, I came in knowing that this would be a depressing book. The entire series was building up to death, doom, and destruction, after all, but it's like the second half of the book was just empty of the passion found in the rest of the series.

This is in large part due to character arcs. This book is told in four POVs--Lia, Rafe, Kaden, and Pauline--as a way to allow us to see what is going on everywhere at all times. However, it felt like a great majority of the book was told in Lia's POV and the others only came in when it best suited plot progression. Now, this isn't really a complaint seeing as Lia is the main character and she underwent the most character growth of all--strengthening herself against all odds and displaying a passion and drive for destiny that borders on nothing but the utmost of bravery. The frustration with the POVs comes more from the fact that the other 3 seemed a bit hollowed out in comparison to Lia because of the focus on her.

Love triangle haters can rejoice because there isn't a love triangle in this. There is a small bit of romance in here, but that takes a huge backseat to the plot and even disappears for large portions of the book. I feel like both of our love interests underwent some form of character decimation in this book because they seemed like shells of themselves. Rafe turned into this jealous, controlling creature that wasn't able to listen and acted, at times, extremely selfishly. Gone was the understanding prince that we knew, replaced by someone who locked up those he claimed to love and respect because their desires didn't align in the moment. This frustrated me so much!

And don't even get me started on Kaden. I have always shipped Lia and Rafe because they seem like to characters that belong together, but Kaden has been a long time favorite of mine because he is so complex. Truly, it is rare to come across a character as layered as him. And in this book I feel like he was just stripped of his passion, the parts of him that made him Kaden. He just kind of rolled over and died and was replaced by someone with sparks of his past self who followed directions (uh, when does he do that?!) and stops pursuing Lia because suddenly a really unlikely match fell into his lap as an easy means to change his plot progression. I loved it whenever we got a few chapters in his head because they were the most interesting, so it killed me to watch what happened to his characterization through the eyes of other characters. It just doesn't seem right to me. I feel like this is not the Kaden I have met in previous books.

And then there's the Komizar. There are evil people and then there are dastardly villains and the Komizar is as dastardly as it gets. He is disgusting and terrible, and that is why he is widely loved by readers just like The Darkling by Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy. The Komizar is in this book for a mere couple of pages. Like, an actual handful of pages. Otherwise, he's this evil guy whispering threats from afar for more than 90% of the book. This is an epic battle between him and Morrighan and he is barely in this book! I don't want to say much more because it works me up to think of this lost opportunity, but the way his storyline ended was also disappointing. Once again, like The Darkling, we have a majorly awesome villain who deserved a brilliant end to the storyline, and it was kind of fizzled out leaving readers thinking, "that's it?"

I struggled most with the characterization in this book, which severely impacted my feelings about it. But that's not to say there are things I didn't love. I loved how nothing was easy in this book, I loved the reunions and introduction of new characters even if it was at the hands of other beloved characters not appear as often. I loved the court politics that Lia partook in because she had no choice, and I loved the spying that had to occur to make it all happen. I loved the sparks of feminism found in Lia, and the expression of the importance of family and friends. The emphasis on how family is those who you choose and not those who you are related to by blood is amazing as well. I love the final revelation of Kaden's father and how their sub-plot ended, but most of all I love that I got to step in this crazy, dark, twisted world one last time with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes.

In the end, this book is much like Marissa Meyer's Winter for me. Both books end two epic fantasy series that I love with all my heart. Both have plot-lines that really bother me as a reader because they don't make sense in my head, but both also have happily-ever-after's  (or some form of such a thing) and ridiculously predictable endings for all the characters I care about, and the emotional and selfish reader in me is very satisfied by that (even if my brain can't make sense of everything else). Thus, the reader buried deep in me that still has a love of cliche endings found herself smiling from ear to ear as I turned the last page of this book, tearing up at the thought that it's all over.

Thank you, Mary E. Pearson, for taking me on this wild ride.

3 stars


Top Ten Books I'd Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed Me A Fully Loaded Gift Card

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

So many books...such hard choices.

1. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff- This. book. looks. so. dang. awesome.

2. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West- I am a huge fan of Kasie West contemporaries, so I can't wait to have the next one in my hands.

3. Wires and Nerves by Marissa Meyer- I will read anything by Marissa Meyer, be it book or novella. I just want it now! IKOOOOOOOOO!

4. Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat- I have been on a romance kick lately and this is a gay fantasy. I have heard amazing things about it, and I want to see what all the fuss is about.

5. Splintered by A.G. Howard- I am a sucker for retellings and I don't know why I've waited so long for this Alice in Wonderland retelling.

6. The Goal by Elle Kennedy- I need the final book in this series NOW! September is so far away.

7. Game On by Michelle Smith- I've been waiting for this book for years because of everything that happened with Spencer Hill. I can't wait to finally read it one day.

8. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee- I've heard amazing, amazing things about this book. I am ready for it.

9. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkowski- I need to finish this series!

10. Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally- The only Miranda Kenneally I do not own, and I love her books so much. I skipped this one because I heard it was religious, but I love everything Kenneally writes and I need to backtrack on this decision.


Does this mean that a gift card is going to be sent my way? haha Share your own lists with some books you'd buy so I can add them to my TBR!

Review: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Middle Grade
Pages: 395 (ARC)
Source: Gifted from Friend
There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

When I first heard that this book was coming into existence, I absolutely freaked out. I will read anything Mafi writes, and the synopsis of this middle grade sung to my heart. I was so ready for it. When Danielle gifted me a copy from BEA, I sat down and read it immediately.

I am so happy this book did not disappoint. The reason this book was so perfect was because Mafi's writing is absolutely beautiful. She showcases her skills as an author by taking it to a whole new level. Her use of metaphor and amazing descriptions bring this world bursting in color and our colorless main character, Alice, to life in a way I never thought possible. Think of a written version of the movie In Living Color with major Alice in Wonderland inspiration regarding the twisty-turny adventures. Yes, it's just that awesomely executed! Once this book is picked up, you won't be able to put it down.

The entire concept of this world is amazing, too. A world where magic is part of life and every inhabitant has some kind of magical ability--persuasion, climbing air, singing to your soul...you name it and someone in Ferenwood can probably do it. Each of these children at age twelve surrenders their power and is granted a task that only they can complete with their special skillset to help better the town. How fascinating! It's like taking Harry Potter and turning the world upside down and right side out and then maybe throwing in some steroids. You know, Alice in Wonderland but with even more magical creatures. It's just every fantasy readers dream, really. It's what makes it so easy to fall in love with this book because it allows Mafi's whimsical writing style to come to life.

And then there's Alice. I couldn't imagine being the only blank canvas in a world bursting with color. Throw in some poverty, a mother who she does not think loves her, an absentee father who she desperately misses, and a town full of people she can't relate to, and she doesn't have it easy. It's why it is so surprising when the insufferable and manipulative Oliver comes into her life, inviting her on an adventure. Both characters (aged twelve and thirteen) suffer from John Green-esque syndrome where they speak well beyond their years, but that's where their similarities end. I loved Alice for her strength (something Juliette didn't always have in Mafi's other series), and I respected Oliver for his cunning and his eventual friendship with Alice, but I found him to be insufferable more than anything else. He was a jerk, and it's not hard to understand why Alice disliked him so much. And, yes, Alice made some ridiculously stupid decisions that bothered me as a result of her distaste of him, but her distaste was totally deserved. And, sure, this is a middle grade and kids have to learn, which they both do a lot of, but stupid and silly decisions are stupid and silly decisions and I don't want to chock it up to this being a middle grade book. It's more like Mafi needed something to happen to get from Point A to Point B, so she made it happen.

In the same vain, Mafi's ending seemed rush and a little too convenient for comfort. Oliver and Alice's journey through Furthermore was fascinating, dangerous, and full of adventure, and then the ending snuck up on us in less than ten pages and everything was done and wrapped up with a little bow tied on top. I was thoroughly confused and under-satisfied because it happened so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Though I am happy with the tale, I find myself wanting more because of how it ended. There is a lot of potential for a sequel, especially because of how Alice's Surrendering went down (read the book to understand!), and I hope that Mafi will endeavor to write book two because it will give this amazing world the ending it deserves. As a stand-alone, while enjoyable, this book didn't provide an ending worthy of the other 95% of the book. And, in that regard, I find myself disappointed.

All in all, I think every fantasy reader needs to give this a chance. With mature characters despite their young ages, young adult readers will have no problem reading this middle grade as it has the ability to appeal to readers of all age groups. Mafi weaves a world bursting with color, wild with magic, rife with adventure, and full of love--a world I'd happily get lost in again and again.

4 stars