The 22 Times We are All Molly Peskin-Suso When We Crush

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And we crush hard. At least I do.

1. When you’ve had thirty-six crushes and zero kisses.

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2. When Crush doesn’t know you exist.

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3. When, on the flip side, Crush is someone you’ve known since middle school.

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4. When you embarrass yourself in front of Crush by talking asfjklvgwytlqk—

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5. So you’re like:

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6. But, of course, your friends wouldn’t let you forget.

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7. When Crush smiles at you. #whereismychill

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8. Also:

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9. And:

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10. When all your friends are “In a Relationship.”

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11. When you see Crush is online.

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12. But seen-zones you. (For whatever reason.)

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13. When you bullshit your best friend.

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14. But, really, you’re just being too careful.

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15. But also:

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16. When Crush breaks up with Current Partner only to wind up dating someone else.

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17. When you’re trying to respond to Crush’s iMs.

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18. Or:

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19. When you sit next to Crush in lunch and there’s not much space.

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20. And so pining becomes real.

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21. Too real.

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22. And when you’re trying to read but low key hopes Crush would text.

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BONUS (from Nadine, one of Molly’s moms): And when you’re finally, FINALLY “In a Relationship” with Crush.

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Or so you wish. HAHAHAHAHA.

Here, let Cassie, Molly’s twin sister, give you the #realtalk:

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C’mon. You so are a Molly Peskin-Suso when you crush. Which part did identify with the most? Sound off in the comments below!

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REVIEW: After Dark by James Leck

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Title: After Dark
Author: James Leck
Format: E-ARC
Publication: August 1st 2015 by Kids Can Press
Source: Publisher via Netgalley (thank you Kids Can Press and Netgalley!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Horror, Humor, Paranormal
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | Fully Booked


Fifteen-year-old professional slacker Charlie Harker can’t believe his bad luck. On the first day of the summer holidays, his mom springs the worst news: they’re moving to the sleepy town of Rolling Hills to restore Charlie’s great-grandfather’s old inn. Summer is supposed to be about lazy days spent by the pool, sipping ice-cold lemonade. Manual labor and early mornings were definitely not on Charlie’s to-do list. Things go from bad to weird when his new neighbor Miles Van Helsing runs screaming out of the night, insisting that he’s being chased by “humanoid creatures.” Charlie chalks it up to Miles being the town nutcase. But it soon becomes clear that something’s not right in Rolling Hills. A mysterious illness seems to be spreading through town. At first it seems harmless enough, but the number of infected people keeps growing—and what might be a simple headache by day becomes something entirely different when the sun goes down …


I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work. Wry and engaging, After Dark pokes fun at tropes of the genre with irreverent tone and a smart-alecky protagonist.

Tenth-grader Charlie Harker is so ready for summer, a “time for sleeping and swimming and watching three really bad horror movies back to back to back.” But Ma has a better idea: move to the old hick town of Rolling Hills and renovate the family’s decrepit inn. And right on Charlie’s first night, he meets Miles Van Helsing, the town’s resident conspiracy nut. As the two spend more time together, Charlie begins to suspect that Rolling Hills, after all, might not be too boring. Nor safe. Leck’s latest novel finds its strength in its MC. Nothing gets me to stick to a book better than an interesting character and Charlie is exactly that and some. He’s hilarious and endearing and curious but also afraid and lazy. He’s a person. The author triumphantly mixes sarcasm with sincere dopiness.

“Seeing those tracks made my bladder ache. If the Baxters showed up now, I was going to need a new pair of pants.”

After Dark also benefits from its self-awareness. It owns its ridiculousness, and that’s the most amusing part next to the narrative voice. Almost every investigation Charlie and Miles undertake—ironically yet effectively juxtaposed with commentaries from the former—often ends up being an episode of the horror movie Charlie mocks. It would be tacky except our hero is very tongue-in-cheek. Plus, there are several winks at gothic cult (Miles’s last name is Van Helsing, there’s a character called Igor) as well as family drama. The family drama, however, is decent at best, paltry at worst.

“”A trapdoor that leads into a dingy root cellar is exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to see in a ridiculously predictable horror movie. And you know what else would be predictable and absurdly stupid …?” I asked. “I’m going down,” Miles said.”

Moreover, the book is effortlessly atmospheric. Rolling Hills’s sleepy-town-ness is palpable, the kind that teleports you back to your childhood days watching Goosebumps. The kind that exudes old school horror movie vibe. Albeit, more eerie and less scary. And the monster of the story, the “zompire,” is a nice twist on two of today’s most celebrated undead. In fact, I can see After Dark being a massive hit with a younger audience. Because I feel like the resolution was a bit flimsy, at least for my taste. And with a denouement that both surprises and does not surprise, a sequel is not unlikely but unnecessary.

“The world doesn’t want heroes, Charlie. You’ll learn that eventually.”

Light and thoroughly enjoyable, be sure to include “read After Dark” in your to-do list.

3.5 out of 5


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James Leck lives in Nova Scotia, where he’s spent almost all of his summer vacations. He’s always enjoyed lounging beside pools, drinking ice-cold lemonade and sleeping in. Poison ivy, running face-first into trees and waking up alone in the dark are some of his least favorite things. However, he’s pretty sure being chased by humanoid creatures would be worse.

Twitter | Website

What was your last light, entertaining read?

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184 F-Words, 28 Illustrations and 4 Book References: Andrew Smith’s ‘Winger’ by the Numbers

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724 days ago today, a class act was published. It’s called Winger by a guy named Andrew Smith. 724 days later, it’s still a class act. And so today, I break down this masterpiece by the numbers. Because there’s a lot to take in from this book and someone has to do it. Here, and you’re welcome:

184: F-Words
These include 68 times Ryan Dean West said fuck/fucking inside his head (“because [he honestly doesn’t] cuss”), 9 times out loud (uh) and 107 times it was said out loud by everyone else.

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195: Other Obscenities
Why stick to ‘damn’ (23) when there’s ‘goddamn’ (26) and ‘goddamnit’ (5), right? Or ‘shit’ (38) – ‘shitty’ (5) – ‘shithole’ (2) – ‘dipshit’ (5) – ‘bullshit’ (4) – ‘shitfaced’ (1). Obviously, you’d be such a tool to read Winger using the Clean Reader app. (Does ‘jerk’, if used in a you-know-what context, count? In that case add 4.)

28: Illustrations
Sam Bosma’s work is spot on. And it comes in parcels: 12 comics-style, 4 straight-up drawings, 4 diagrams and 8 notes/letters.

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1: Fourteen-Year-Old Eleventh Grader
He also happens to be in love with his sixteen-year-old best friend.

9: Hot Female Characters
From Annie Altman to Megan Renshaw to the five-out-of-five-possible-fruit-arrangements-on-your-head-in-a-Brazillian-dancer-kind-of-way-on-the-Ryan-Dean-West-Samba-mometer nurse to Rachel Altman—who is Annie’s mom and yes believe your eyes—to smoking five-out-of-five-toothless-one-eyed-hillbillies on the Ryan Dean West Drop-Yer-Pants-Boy Tote Board Nurse Hickey (that’s her name), there’s no shortage of ladies for our “142-pound sack of dehydrated failure” hero.

1: Unhot Female Character
There’s only 1 unhot female character in the world of RDW and it’s the “not-even-hot-on-Pluto” Mrs. Singer. But she sure has more than 1 epithet, which are anything but boring. “Never-spent-a-fraction-of-a-minute-in-her-life-being-hot,” “so-not-hot-you-should-never-look-at-her-when-you-have-a-hangover,” and “so-unhot-she-is-quite-likely-the-only-two-legged-female-besides-his-mom-no-wait-including-his-mom-Ryan-Dean-West-wouldn’t-want-to-run-into-at-night-when-he-is-only-wearing-boxers-and-nothing-else” are just a sampling.

1: Awesome Gay Friend
One name yo! Joey Cosentino.

4: Book References
These are Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse (specifically the short “Rappaccini’s Daughter”), Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Foretopman, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and another short story collection, In Our Time, by Earnest Hemingway.

42: Perverted Thoughts
Ryan Dean West, who is also Winger because he plays wing for their rugby team, is a boy. A boy can daydream. A boy, however, doesn’t always get away with this:

12: Times Ryan Dean West is Called Out for Being a Pervert

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2: RDW-to-Parent Conversations
ONLY. These are through phone calls and both to his mom. I mean, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU, MR. & MRS. WEST?!!

33: Self-Proclamations of Loserosity
Because what teenager doesn’t feel like a loser. “I am such a loser” appears 29 times, “I am a skinny-ass loser” 1, “I am such a fucking loser” 1 and “I’m a loser” 2.

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33: Pledges of Honesty
In his defense, Winger is as honest as can be in telling his story. Proof? He repeatedly maintains “I’ll be honest” (20) throughout the novel and “to be honest” (8) and “to be absolutely honest” (2) and “to be perfectly honest” (2) and “to be totally honest” (1).

6: Times RDW Got Into Trouble
The book opens in Upside-Down Toilet World and, already, that doesn’t sound so good, does it?

3: Doctor Visits
As the book cover would suggest…

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10: Betch Pet Names
Charles “Chas” Becker, a.k.a. Betch, is an asshole and he loves his roommate. Go figure! His terms of endearment for RDW include Chicken Wing, Idiot, Retard, Asswipe, Pusswing, Pussboy and Dipshit, to name some.

7: Moments RDW had to Pee

147: Hyphenated Modifiers
If you’ve no idea what these are, please refer to the unhot-female-character-count-which-is-ruled-by-Queen-Mrs.-Singer. (See what I did there?)

15: RDW Rating Systems
Because Winger is so smart he has rating systems for almost everything.

5: Pine Mountain Teachers
And there are over 800 students.

10: Times RDW Misheard Something
That include 2 from Annie, 6 from Mrs. Singer, 1 from Joey and 1 from Screaming Ned.

“”Aww,” she said. “What a cute boy.”
Okay, I’ll be honest. I think she actually said “little boy,” but it was so traumatizing to hear that I may have blocked it out.”

7: Internal Debates
Because, clearly, Ryan Dean West doesn’t have enough going on for him.

So. Serious question: do you think this is the last time I’ll ever talk about Winger? HAHAHAHA. NO.

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REVIEW: Winger by Andrew Smith

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Title: Winger
Author: Andrew Smith
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Publication: September 2nd 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published May 14th 2013)
Source: Bought from Fully Booked
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Humor, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: Boarding School, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked


Ryan Dean West’s life is complicated.

He’s a fourteen-year-old junior at Pine Mountain, a boarding school for rich kids. He’s stuck rooming with the biggest jerk on the rugby team in the dorm for miscreants and trouble makers. And he’s totally in love with his best friend, Annie, who thinks of him as a little kid.

As Ryan Dean tries to get a handle on school, life, and rugby, he finds himself muddling through a lot of decisions and making some major mistakes along the way. But nothing can prepare him for what comes next. And when the unthinkable happens, Ryan Dean has to find a way to hold on to the important things—no matter what.


Disclaimer: I am inarticulate and this review cannot hope to bring justice to the class act that is Winger.

With a pitch-perfect character voice, unflinchingly bawdy humor, spot-on illustration and out-of-nowhere-in-your-gut knockout punch, I fell completely in love with Winger. I’m still in a book hangover, really.

“”Dude, her being pissed just shows how much she cares about you,” Seanie said.
That sounded like something you’d tell your kid before giving him a spanking.”

I’m a big fan of humor, especially—albeit not exclusively—wry. But almost every single book I’ve read in the past, with the exception of Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and one scene from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, wasn’t able to elicit that much savored, much anticipated no-really-I-am-laughing-out-loud-in-real-life laugh. It’s frequently just snorting and I’m-laughing-on-the-inside-right-now kind of thing, which is fun too but you get my point. Winger, however, is another beast. I snickered at page 3 and by 13 had my first laugh IRL. At page 51, it was obvious Winger will be an all-time favorite (spoiler: I was right, heck was I right). The tone is impeccable and Sam Bosma, who did the illustrations, understands Smith’s work and that fully comes across in his comics and charts and diagrams, which not only are outrageously hilarious but are also windows to our protagonist’s wits and sensibility.

“”Aww,” she said. “What a cute boy.”
Okay, I’ll be honest. I think she actually said “little boy,” but it was so traumatizing to hear that I may have blocked it out.”

Ryan Dean West, the narrator and our hero, has one of the most genuine, honest character voices I’ve ever read. He’s smart and angsty and funny and hormonal and dorky and he knows it. His voice and story resonate with such effortlessness and gravity. I believe there is something equally captivating and aching in coming-of-age stories, and Smith neatly captures this raw, beautiful—if often awkward and painful—teenage experience. Winger feels like an instant classic.

“After that, I didn’t have any idea what to say. I just sat there staring at her. I was so lost, I even thought about the Preamble to the Constitution.
I, the people, am such a loser.”

I also adore the relationship RDW has with the secondary characters; almost everyone jumps off the page. His former roommates Seanie and JP both have their own flavor and texture. It is no feat to picture Seanie doing his stalking outside the curtains. Chas Becker, his roommate, has got to be my favorite. I was kind of reminded of Cath and Reagan from Fangirl, but, like, raise the bar to the outermost limit of mean. I enjoyed the threats and banters and admire how Smith developed the relationship between these two people who couldn’t have been more disparate. Then there’s Joey Cosentino who’s super awesome and sort of provides the parental, authoritative figure for our protagonist. He’s gay and awesome.

“‘Cause I knew what it felt like too, being so not-like-all-the-other-guys-here. And I don’t mean I know what it felt like to be gay, because I don’t, but I do know what it felt like to be the “only” one of something.”

As for the plot, it’s easy for a reader to convince himself that he knows what the author is going for. And I almost fooled myself. But I didn’t see the trajectory of the story until it’s staring me in the face. That’s not saying it’s unrealistic; it’s skillful. The emotionally charged final act will stab the reader but leave him with hope. Plus, the story telling is just downright masterful. Andrew Smith irrevocably won me over with Winger and I surely am going to pick more of his titles.

5.0 out of 5


Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults, including The Marbury Lens. He lives in a remote area in the mountains of Southern California with his family, two horses, two dogs, and three cats. He doesn’t watch television and occupies himself by writing, bumping into things outdoors, and taking ten-mile runs on snowy trails. He maintains a blog about his strange writing life.

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