Out of Genre: Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Bestselling author Judith McNaught masterfully portrays a remarkable heroine, and an unforgettable passion, in this powerfully moving love story — one of her most beloved novels of all time!

The tempestuous marriage of Alexandra Lawrence, an innocent country girl, and Jordan Townsende, the rich and powerful Duke of Hawthorne, is about to face its ultimate test of tender loyalty. Swept into the endlessly fascinating world of London society, free-spirited Alexandra becomes ensnared in a tangled web of jealousy and revenge, stormy pride and overwhelming passion. But behind her husband’s cold, arrogant mask, there lives a tender, vital, sensual man…the man Alexandra married. Now, she will fight for his very life…and the rapturous bond they alone can share.

Source: GoodReads

Welcome to a new quasi recurring series called Out of Genre.  In which I review books that are non-YA related because occasionally I need to break from the world of YA.

Today, I decided to look at a historical romance.

To be honest, I don’t read a lot of historical romance because the male dominance of the time period really grates on my nerves.  Call it the  feminist or decent human being in me, but it really annoys me when the H is able to boss the h all the time-even when it’s technically historically accurate.

And Jordan Townsende deserves to have his butt kicked back all the way to wherever he was imprisoned for all the crap he put Alex through.  But it’s still one of the more tolerable McNaught historicals.

Also, given the fact that the book was actually published in 1988, Jordan wasn’t near as jerky as expected-reminder to self, start reading historicals that my mom doesn’t recommend.  She seriously has a thing for abusive dickwads-she gifted me with the complete set of Catherine Coulter books and I can tell you that the most offensive McNaught hero looks like a gentleman in comparison to some of Coulter’s heros (don’t even think about making me reread Midsummer MagicI will just rage on and on on that particular stinker).

Apart from being a historical lead and written in the 80’s, Jordan is really a dick.  He is horrible to Alexandra in every regard.  And I’m just glad she didn’t get back into his bed right away-even though I knew it was going to happen.  Honestly, I would’ve liked the book together if Tony (Jordan’ cousin who Alex almost married)would’ve been the hero.  Form his character a little more, make him the dark horse hero who Alex fell in love with over a long period when Jordan was “dead” and then have her tell  Jordan adios after the usual “who I will choose” period.  Or better yet negate the “who will I choose” period and figure out how to get out of the marriage to Jordan and be with Tony, while trying to convince Tony NOT to do the noble thing.

Obviously, I am trying to create a fan fic out of this book.  I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

But Alex, honey, you deserved better than that walking case of syphilis of a husband of yours.

Though, admittedly, Jordan occasionally has his moments.  But I keep wanting Mr. Darcy to come in and smack his pretty Wannabe Wickham face a little bit.

This is one of the reasons I don’t read a lot of historical romances because the heroes make me so mad.

Historically speaking, I know how Jordan was acting was probably fairly accurate to how a man of privilege would of acted in the period, but I just can’t help but feel my blood boil.  Also, I hate how he immediately slams Alex for moving on and not being completely swallowed in grief in a society where women are essentially forced to be married or live a life of squalor.

Yes, I get it’s comedic relief to a degree. Because of the sheer ridiculousness of it all, but it just makes Jordan look like  a narcissistic  dick.

And that’s how I kept referring to him while reading this book.  Although, he is a lot better (I’ll reiterate) than a lot of historical romance books from the period.

And I am fond of McNaught.  I think because I really get a feel for the characters.  While there is some instant love in this book, she actually addresses these issues and you get to see the characters relationship evolve.

Do I regret revisiting Something Wonderful?

Hell no.  It was nice to revisit and made for a nice Sunday afternoon, but it is with flaws.  I think I am going to branch out and see if I can find books like Something Wonderful in the current moment but with a hero who respects the lead and isn’t a walking case of syphilis.

Overall Rating: A solid B.



Criteria: Whether or Not to Continue Series/Books/Etc.

I get asked often why I DNF something.  There are several reasons why I’ll DNF a book or series.  And I thought for the sake of having a blog post that I’d list and discuss some of them.


1)Annoying Tropes: 

This is probably the most common reason I’ll DNF. If the tropes you use annoy me, chances are I’m not going to finish the book even if it is decently written.  Listed below are some of my “Hate” tropes:

  • Babies: I don’t usually read baby books especially in YA if they are merely there for the cute factor.  If the story is tastefully done, and the baby serves an actual purpose I might read it but I need to be informed before I read it that I’m dealign with babies.
  • Mary Sue: Get over yourself.  We all know that So and So MC is really you.
  • Bastardizing culture, religion, etc.  You’re offending someone out there, and if they aren’t aware by default your offending me.  Because it gives me a reason to be cranky and I like being cranky-I think.
  • The standard love triangle: Meaning, both guys love the girl and she has to chose and there are no consequences.  Ugh.  Just ugh.  Why can’t both guys dump little Ms. Perfect and get together (that would actually be an interesting twist).
  • Standard Dystopia/Fantasy fare with nothing new.  I feel like I’m reading the same freaking book.  Actually this trope (or series of tropes) made me stop reading fantasy for a few months.  And fantasy is what is popular in the market these days, so this was quite distressing.

2) Offensive Author Behavior:

Because unfortunately this has caused me to DNF a few things.  Just don’t act like Kathleen Hale.  I think that’s enough said on that one.

3) Loss of Interest:

This can be due to several factors.  And sometimes it falls on me.  But usually if I don’t finish something or made a good chunk of progress in something within two weeks, then I’m not going to finish it.

3)  The book is just BAD

All around.  Sometimes it happens.  And if it’s not hilari-bad or I’m not in the mood to read hilari-bad (which is occurring more and more well…)



4) Experimental Prose:

Instant death.  I think there’s only one book I tried to read all the way through just because I used to have fondness for the author, but I was like WTF am I reading.  I can’t make sense of this and then I had my dog review it because it was kicking a puppy bad worthy (meaning, I felt bad about even reviewing it).

Now, if I see anything written in verse on the jacket I won’t even touch it.  If I find out it’s in verse or it uses bizarre electric prose it’s lucky if I get through the halfway mark.

5) I want to slug the  MC:

I am not a violent person.  If I want to slug the MC safe bet is I shouldn’t finish the book.

Books I DNF’d:

Ew on so many levels.  You can read my full review for why I absolutely think this is the most offensive book of 2015.  But I DNF’d it because it contained offensive use of mythology and culture AND had a blatant Mary Sue.

This one just made me squeamish on so many levels.  The main character was way too dumb AND the book was just so utterly predictable.

The book was decently written but it contained a trope I detest.

Books I  Surprisingly Finished:

How I finished this cluster fuck I’ll never know.

How to NOT execute a fantastic premises.  Transgender and intersex are two separate concepts that need to be dealt with properly and sensitively.  This book muddles both of these subject matters and has a main character I just can’t sympathize with.

I still can’t figure out this book.  And I don’t think I really want to.  It was that bad.  I kept reading it though because…I don’t know.  I thought it had to get better.


1)You’re Forgettable

Honestly, sometimes I forget about series and when I hear the next installment is out I’m like-oh, that’s nice.  Never a good way to keep the interest.

2) I Can Predict What’s Going to Happen:

Obviously, what’s the point of continuing.

3) There are Too Many Books/Spinoffs/Etc to Care at this Point:

Even the best series need to have a definitive ending.  Unless they’re like a soap opera then they should never be canceled because their soap operas (RIP All My Children and One Life to Live, I am still not over your cancellation and crappy epic fail of a reboot with that idiot from High School Musical).  Books aren’t soaps though.  And I really don’t want to be reading about the same characters ten years trying to solve the same problem and going after the same guy.  At least in soap opera world they would’ve had a baby, a couple of back from the deads, and maybe a recast or two.

4) Budgets:

Sadly, I often don’t finish finish series for budgetary issues.  Despite the fact I’m an attorney I am not raking in the dough.  Most of it is going towards bills, student loans, and recent moving expenses.  Plus, did I mention I had to buy a mattress the past month.  That isn’t cheap, folks.  So often books get defected or put up because I can’t afford them right now (you’d be surprised how many books I don’t buy despite my TBR piles usually omnibus size).  If I’m truly not feeling a series then I’m probably not going to give it a chance.  And since my new library is no HCPL I can’t check out everything I’d like.

Series I DNF’d:

People raved about the first one, I only found it to be so so at best.  I intitially did preorder the second one, but the time I started working on my TBR feature for the month I completely lost interest.

The character and the abusive relationship she was in got to much for me.  I did think this series had potential though-pity.

At some point in a series you have to cut the cord.  This book reached the tipping point for me.  It’s a new trilogy in the Blue Blood world.  I read the rest of this world’s novels and this one way way too out there for me.  The characters didn’t even resemble themselves.  Mimi Force would never answer phones for a living.

Series I Surprisingly Finished:

There are two more books in this so called series, but I consider this series complete with America’s story.  And the other two books a spinoff.  Regardless, I am giving myself a pat on the back for finishing this stupidity.

How I read twelve of these, I’ll never know.

The last book was a hot mess.  And I really think now if I read this series, I probably wouldn’t have continued after New Moon.

I Hate Babies: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Surprises abound and sparks ignite in the highly anticipated, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
– find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
– need a liver transplant
– drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
– well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.

And Alice is caught in the middle.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more. 

Source: GoodReads

I don’t like babies in YA.

I’m sorry.  Even if you’re an amazing author, which Huntley Fitzpatrick pretty much is.  If you have a YA book about teens with babies and I don’t know about it until I’m like a hundred pages into the book, it’s pretty obvious I’m going to DNF you.

Freaking babies.

I had been looking forward to The Boy Most Likely To since I heard it was actually going to be a thing.  I enjoyed the Tim and Alice subplot in My Life Next Door and was interesting to see how their story would play out.

I did not think it would involve a baby.

To be fair to the book, if this sort of plot is your thing it’s a decent book.  True, I wasn’t engaged as I was with My Life Next Door and to a degree What I Thought Was True, the writing wasn’t bad.  It still flowed very nicely, even though Fitzpatrick decided to change up her narration by using dual protagonists.

And to be fair,  I thought that Tim sounded like a fairly realistic teenage boy.  Though, that probably slightly diminished the swoon factor on his part-just saying.  Though, the baby really made the swoonage pretty much  non-existant.

Damn babies.

Yeah, I’m going to keep mentioning how much I disliked the babies in this DNF review because it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I think if I had some warning going in, I wouldn’t have been disgusted enough to set the book down. Also, it would’ve helped if maybe I got to know Tim and Alice as leads a little bit more before throwing in a damn baby.

Really, other than Alice being exhausted and a bit of a jerk I really didn’t know that much more about her than I did in My Life Next Door.

I blame the stupid baby for that.

Everyone has their tropes that they dislike, and this in mine.


It really took this book and ruined it like a lead balloon. And I snuck a peak at the end, so I know I’m really not missing anything worth while.

As for a DNF, I’m giving this one a tad bit higher rating because it was well written.  It just had a very stupid trope in it that ruined it for me.  And these days, I just don’t have time to read anything that I know I’m going to force myself to read.

The TBR Pile: I Ordered All This

It’s September.  And an end to stupid summer is finally in sight.  Yes, I dislike summer.  You would too if you lived in the South.  It’s hot, sticky, and if you’re extremely pale (like yours truly) you’re prone to some nasty looking sunburn.  Anyway, new season means lots of new books to enjoy and salted caramel mochas if you live near a Starbucks (which I don’t, unfortunately-oh, civilization how I miss thee).

The good news is my new apartment is across the street from my town’s coffee shop and I’m twenty minutes closer to civilization.  Yes, I moved.  I would share pictures of my new digs, but I’m still waiting for some furniture so that will a post for later days.  Anyway, here is the list of purchases/reading schedules/etc. I plan on indulging in.


Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett: This one just looks creepy.  I’ll probably prolong reading it until October.  But man, it intrigues me.

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales: Another creepy premises but it’s creepy for a complete different reason.  It actually an eerie reminder of something that happened last year.

 Fiewalker  by Josephine Angelini: I wasn’t totally impressed with the first one, but I’m intrigued enough to continue.  Especially since they changed the title-thank the lord (it was originally Trail of Tears can you say ew).

Vengeance-Road by Erin Bowman: A western with gender bending.  That’s sort of hard to resist.

Never Never by Briana Shrum: Captain Hook, enough said.

Dumplin by Julie Murphy: Great praise so far for this one.  It looks like it could be nice and fluffy.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson: Gold Rush.  Right now, I really want good YA westerns so I will read these with very little effort.

Lock and Mori  by Heather W Petty: Elementary, much?  Still though, I am intrigued.

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prienas: I like fairytale retellings, okay?

Ungodly by Kendare Blake: I might as well finish this series.   I do admit, I’m sort of interested in seeing how things wrap up.

Menagerie  by Rachel Vincent: This.  Premises.  It’s not YA, FYI.  But whatevs.  I’m still getting it.

Every Word by Ellie Marney: Mycroft and Watts.  Enough said.

Library Reads

Since I am finally settled in (again) I can go to the library. Alas, though I have no planned library reads (as of yet).

Planned Rereads

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot: I’m starting my reread for this series I’ll be reviewing one book between now and the release of the seventh book in February-though I might be reading ahead a bit.

The Lunar Chronicles: Another reread that’s going to be in a bit of warped drive in preparing for Winter.  Since I’ve reviewed these books already, I’m going to try something a bit more fun planned for the reread.

Planned Read from the TBR Stack:

Now that I have moved, hopefully I’ll have more time to read a bit.  In my stack I try to fidn a couple of books that I plan to tackle for the month.  Listed below are a couple.

I’m actually hoping I start reading this one before I post this post.  I’ve been looking forward to this one since I read My Life Next Door last year.

Most Anticipated Preorder

There were actually  a lot of books that I am looking forward to.  However,  if I had to narrow it down to one…

Because Watts and Mycroft.  This ship is made of awesome.

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Romance

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday topic was to provide a course list of books for a certain theme in YA.  I decided that I was going to basically pick ten YA books that focused on romance.


Spinoffs are a hard thing to get right.  Especially romances in spinoffs-because more often than not it’s the loser in a love triangle that gets the spinoff and it’s just a wannabe of the past heroine who becomes the lead.  Surprisingly though, I enjoyed the romance between Sydney and Adrian a lot more than I ever enjoyed the romance with Rose and anyone.  I think this was in part because of the build up.  It is a slow burn and by the time they actually decide they like each other enough to kiss you are so shipping them already.


There are multiple ships to root for in this series, and that’s why it makes this list.  Doing ensemble romance is a very difficult thing to do.  Often series are always about “the ship”.  However, while there is one obvious leading ship (Kai and Cinder) the supporting ships also get their due in this series.  Even Queen Levana has a ship, a very creepy I’m not going to ship it ship, but Meyer took time to show that the queen wanted to have romance in her life and from a creepy angle you sort of get where Levana is coming from.


Not really YA, but there are enough (good and bad) retellings for it to be on the list.  I think the Darcy and Elizabeth dynamic is just timeless.  I recently just watched Bride and Prejudice and as kooky as that move is it still pulled it off because of that romance.


The romance in Anna shouldn’t be my thing since there’s some cheating involved, BUT I like the way the story evolves.  Perkins has a way of suckering you into the romance.  I don’t know what exactly it is.  Maybe it’s the atmosphere.  Maybe it’s the characters.  But it just works.


Watts and Mycroft.  Enough said.


This series is so underrated.  Remind me to do a reread of it.  The ship in it is fantastic.  It’s realistic and even though the book is paranormal, the love interest is not a vampire, werewolf, warlock, or anything that has super powers.  That my friends, is nice.


Not YA but it’s my list.  I actually like how realistic this couple is despite the circumstances.  So it’s going on here.  Realism in romance is a huge plus for me.  While I like to be taken aback by the fairytale, I also want there to be a smidgen of realism there so I can actually think that-hey, it could happen.


Another not really YA novel, but the relationship makes this book.  I like how it’s a slow burn relationship that doesn’t eclipse the rest of the book.  The dynamic between the two characters really is fantastic.


I sort of have a thing for Beauty and the Beast retellings, okay?  And I just love how this book gets into the relationship.  I’ve read that some people don’t get the ship and I totally get it.  Especially since there’s this other guy who just holds presence….but…..ship.


All of Meg Cabot’s books could be on this list, but I chose her most famous series because why not.  Actually, I chose Diaries because I find it’s the best evolution of a relationship.  You see two people in all different stages of their relationship.  And it’s nice to see that a YA relationship can be rocky and still get a happily ever after-eventually.

The Great Mediator Reread: Shadowland by Meg Cabot

A few months ago I reread all of the Princess Diaries series in anticipation of the adult installment that was released back in June.  I decided to do the same thing with The Mediator series-which I actually prefer to Diaries.  The seventh book will be released in February 2016.  Between now and then, I’ll be reading one book of the series a month (well, reviewing, there will probably be a point in time where I’ll binge read the rest of the series because that’s just how I do things).

There’s a hot guy in Susannah Simon’s bedroom. Too bad he’s a ghost.

Suze is a mediator – a liaison between the living and the dead. In other words, she sees dead people. And they won’t leave her alone until she helps them resolve their unfinished business with the living. But Jesse, the hot ghost haunting her bedroom, doesn’t seem to need her help. Which is a relief, because Suze has just moved to sunny California and plans to start fresh, with trips to the mall instead of the cemetery, and surfing instead of spectral visitations.

But the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it’s not that easy. There’s a ghost with revenge on her mind… and Suze happens to be in the way.

Source: GoodReads

Original Reading Experience: 

I actually first read this book after I read the fifth one.  Long story short, the publication of this series was a little weird.  So I only started picking them up after they were published under Meg Cabot’s name, and I thought Haunted was a standalone.  I am glad to say it’s not though-a stand alone.  However, when you first read this book after the fifth one things can feel a little disjointed.


It was enjoyable.  I’ll admit that this book did feel a bit watered down to some YA books I’ve read.  The prose seemed relatively simple to what I’ve been reading lately.  And it’s short, not even three hundred pages.  But it still worked.

As far as Meg Cabot books go, this one wasn’t terribly dated.  Often when I reread her stuff-especially The Princess Diaries series-I cringe when I read some of the outdated pop culture references.  Shadowland had a few, but not near as many as other books.

Some of the jokes are way stale though.  And I really find Brad, the homophobe, offensive.  Grant it, at the time of publication his offensiveness was more common than it is now.  And at least Suze tells him off for it, but still Dopey is an ass.

Suze is still fantastic as she was all those years ago.  I still want her life.  Her boots.  And most importantly Jesse.  I really enjoy how the romance isn’t in your face in the first installment.  It’s amusing how Suze is not head over heals in love with him.

Or the fact that Jesse doesn’t overwhelm the plot.  That in itself is refreshing. And I love how Cabot just depicts him altogether.  A lot of the time out of time heros come off as being a little stiff at best (at worst borderline offensive), but Jesse just works.

But what I found to be the most interesting thing upon reread is how short books can work.  Too often in today’s YA world we’re dealt with omnibus tomes that can just go on and on forever.  Doing something short and concise is no easy feat and Cabot does it.

As for the ghost: Oh, Heather.  As far as ghosts go she’s one of least memorable ghosts in this series, but she does set a nice introduction to the art of mediation.  She is a bit of a cliche though.  But I can deal with that since it’s the first book.

Overall, a nice reread and fairly strong start to my favorite YA series.

Overall Reread Score: A-

If I Was a Publisher: Reawakened by Colleen Houck


When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself. 

Source: GoodReads

Note: This letter would’ve been sent to Ms. Houck if I was a publisher.  I’m not.  I’m a cantankerous lawyer, who frequently wears Grumpy Cat t-shirts and has no problem telling people what assholes they are, especially after the last month I had.  I especially like writing nasty letters. I think it’s my forte.  Most people would not like to admit this. It should be noted that this letter is directed solely at Ms. Houck’s manuscript not her as a person.  In today’s day in age of whiney author’s I think it’s necessary to put said disclaimer even though I really don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks about this.

Ms. Houck:

Just tell your book to go away.

I want to pretend that this manuscript didn’t exist.  That you don’t exist, but imagine to my surprise when my assistant told me you had a back catalogue and proceeded to hand me the books.

I did what a reasonably prudent person would do after reading said book, I fired my assistant.  And he was a cute assistant.  So that makes me even more pissed off at you.

He looked like Dan Stevens, you made me fire Matthew Crawley.

All because of five horrible books.

But I am not writing you to lament about that.  I am writing you to tell you that your book, Reawakened is being rejected.  I don’t care if you are contract with the publisher’s house.  I am sure after reading this piece of rodent excrement that I’m pretty sure I can convince our legal department to say that you breached your contract by producing something that wasn’t of publishing quality. At the very least you caused me physical pain (a headache) and that has to be worth something, though the verbal vomit I read was painful enough.

The reason why I am rejecting this manuscript is quite simple.  A certified moron  on a British 80’s sitcom wrote better poetry than you.  In fact, I am pretty sure that Baldrick could write a better book than you.  At least I would actually enjoy reading a book about a turnip.

Because well, turnips are already bad where they can’t be defecated on for some crass little self inserted fantasy.  Because this is all this book is.

I am not stupid, Ms. Houck.  I can read through the lines.  Plus, with the other work of yours in front of me it was very easy to see that Liliana is yet another self insert version of you  because she is essentially a rich version of Kelsey.  With bad, evil, parents.  That are bad because they like having money and want their daughter to major in something where she can make a viable living.

Well, at least you tried with character development this time around-I guess.

That’s not a compliment just for you to know.  I’m just acknowledging that you didn’t go the poor little orphan route this time around.  You just went the poor little rich girl route.

Not that big of a difference if you think about it.

I really don’t know how you think you’re fooling anyone.  And after reading your Tiger Curse series I really don’t know how you’re fooling someone that you are writing something original.

From what I read-I stopped at 200 pages because (hey, life is too short to read dung that not even a dung beetle would roll in) it’s the same fucking thing relying on the same fucking tropes and being offensive in the same fucking way.

I feel like I owe you a favor.  Maybe no editor had the balls to sit down with you and tell you what the fuck is wrong with this abomination of shit.  So, I am going to take out time where I could be doing something smarter-like rehiring that Matthew Crawley look alike-and tell you what you need to do before I’ll accept your shit.

1. Don’t rely on Just Google Maps and Wikipedia When Doing Research

I know you do this.  You’ve even mentioned this.  While Wikipedia is a good place to start or do less extensive research, when you are doing a book that involves lots and lots of research you probably need to expand on your research material.

Heck, you could’ve even learned more from Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen than you could from the amount of research you did.

For one thing if keeping track of time periods is so difficult for you, make a timeline.  That way, at least you will sort of have an idea in which things chronologically happen.  Like maybe you’ll realize that the Valley of the Kings was meant when the pharaohs were in power.  And maybe since your main character woke up a thousand years before he would be aware that the Egyptian pantheon is no longer worshiped by mainstream society.

But hey, details.

Though I guess some of those things aren’t so much of a research thing but a lack of common sense.

You can’t help that you’re a complete duff.

See, I am becoming nicer in my old age (sort of).

You still made me fire Matthew Crawley though.  That is just blasphemous.

2.  If you are going to feature a culture, don’t give the Big Mac version of the country.


Tourists?  You featured tourists.  And have the characters eat pizza in a hotel room.  You don’t explore local cuisine, or the local modern culture and conflicts that this country is facing.  Nope.  It’s just fancy swoon worthy  hotel with fifty thousand calorie meals and fanny pack wearing retirees.

You don’t even discuss the language that the characters use.  They all just speak English or gibberish.

Talk about marginalizing and offensive.

This book might as well took place at the Epcot version of Egypt that is how watered down the descriptions of it were.

3. Realize that making a character “exotic” can be offensive and racist.  Especially when you don’t respect his culture or do your research.

Oh my God.

No Houck.  No just no.  Ren was bad enough.  But with Amon you bring it to new levels  especially with quotes like this:

A desert lily need not turn jealous eyes toward the common violet (86)

To someone with any form of common sense, I shouldn’t even have to explain why this quote is offensive.  But Houck, you dear, lack common sense so I’ll be-nice enough, to you.

A. It’s presumptuous of Amon to even think Liliana (that’s her name, despite the fact that Amon gives her an automatic nickname-seriously) is jealous.

B. Desert Lily?  Seriously.  I know he’s from another time period, but ew.

C. Again, why is he judging women based surely on their physical looks that in itself is offensive.

It’s obvious that you try to make him this way because you think you’re making him old world and romantic.  Well, no.  Instead, he just sounds like a stupid idiot at best.

Also, while you describe the character as an Egyptian prince nothing about him says anything about his culture.  He’s merely “exotic” candy.  Complete with eyes that aren’t exactly a common color for someone who is of Amon’s ethnic background.

Seriously, what is wrong with brown eyes?  Both Ren and Amon genetically speaking should’ve had them.  But nope.

You should’ve just gone with purple.

I mention the eye color because this is one of many ways you “white wash” the characters.  This is also seen in the cases of both Ren and now Amon in the way their so called women try to Americanize them thus depleting the little culture they have.

Instead, of celebrating Egypt we merely see Amon strip out of his toga and bald head, grow a messy bed head and steal some jeans.

Uh, huh.

And guess who saves the day (or is part of it) plain old  I don’ t know anything about Egypt, American Liliana.

4. While food porn is nice (I guess) it can become excessive and sort of gross.  Especially when said guy is trying to cram at least 20,000 calories down the main characters throat.  

Does this sound like a healthy meal to you:

He was now surrounded by eggs done eight different ways, hash browns and skillet potatoes, country ham, apple sausage, maple bacon, biscuits slathered with honey and melted  butter, caramel-apple topped pancakes with whipped creme, creme brule French toast, malted Belgian waffles, a fruit platter, and a basket full of croissants, Danishes, and streusel-topped blueberry muffins. (63)

If you ate all of this you would die.  Yet, Amon frequently tries to force food down Liliana’s throat. It’s annoying and offensive.  It’s HER own damn body, she should be able to decide when she wants to eat.  Period.  It’s not cute.  And while I think you were trying to make it seem like Amon loved Liliana’s body it didn’t sound that way for me.  It just seemed like an a-hole who wanted to make someone miserable by making them stuff their face with way too much food.

Again, if you ate all that you would die.  Just reading it made my stomach turn and it’s not just because of the wheat overload. It’s just way too much food.  And this happens frequently throughout the story.

It is an annoying quirk and a waste of fictional food.

5. NO one likes your poetry.  NO ONE.

Give it up.  You are not Keats.  You are not Wordsworth.  You are not even Dr. Seuss.  Your poems suck.  I don’t read them.  No one does.  Again, a man who’s goal in life is to have a turnip of his own writes better poetry than you do.

6.  Power in relationships is important.  Having the guy over power the female, and take away her will to make her own decisions, while acting like she is taking control of her life is just plain insulting.

The food thing is a prime example of this.  But really the entire manuscript that I read encompasses this point.  We are told that Liliana can make a choice.  Yet, Amon has dragged her to Egypt.  Is trying to stuff food down her throat.  And even gives her an unintended makeover.

Seriously, Liliana.  No guy should ever touch your hair unless he is a licensed stylist/colorist.

7. Info dumps are not cool.

I know I skipped this section.  If I wanted to know this stuff, I could’ve Googled the same thing you did.

Look Houck, I really thought this book might have something.  The premises is pretty cool.  But unfortunately it fails for me.  It doesn’t appear that you have developed as a writer at all.  There are still some major issues with how you handle your research skills and how you depict cultures.  In other words, this is the most offensive book I’ve read in 2015.

I hope this letter at least gives you some reasons why I consider your book to be worse than  bad Mexican food diarrhea. I have to go now and apologize to my ex fictional assistant.  I really don’t want to lose him.

You can take the book though.

Best Regards,


Pretend Book Editor/Publisher


Top Ten Tuesday: Buy Me

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

The theme this week is auto buy authors.  Honestly, I usually buy things by concept not author.  But I think I managed to find ten authors that I’ll automatically buy from.


I really love all of Rosamund’s blurbs, so I’ll probably be buying.  For awhile.  Okay, her last book wasn’t exactly my thing-I may try it again.  BUT  Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite books and her new duology looks intriguing.  So still reluctantly on auto buy.


This was one of my favorite debuts this year, so I really look forward to seeing what Thorne writes in the future.  I also heard a rumor somewhere that there could be a followup companion novel to this book-let’s hope that’s not just a rumor.


Melissa used to be an auto buy author for me, but now she’s a selective auto buy author.  The book cover that I featured in this post is one of the few series that I’m actually following from her.  Given the lack of quality of certain spinoffs to Blue Bloods and I won’t even touch that less than good dystopian series, I had to put her on selective auto buy.


Judith McNaught’s books are engrossing.  But she is very slow to get things out to publication, so putting her on this list might be a little too easy.


If it has “Harry Potter” in it is an auto buy for me.  Rowling is a weird outlier because she is in my top three authors.  I should be buying her stuff like hot cakes, but I really have to look at the concept of the book and if it doesn’t interest me then…I’m not going to bother


I know these books are like considered brain junk food.  But I love brain junk food.  And The Royal We sort of feels my need of royal people where I don’t want to buy Majesty Magazine at least not right now.


If it says Stephanie Perkins on it.  It’s going to get bought and read.  I am a little skeptical about her up coming slasher book though.  Mainly because I don’t do horror movies, but Stephanie Perkins…Anna, Lola, and Isla.


I only one book by her, but the ship in here is so good that it makes Marney on a must buy list.  If you haven’t put this on your must buy list.


I love Marissa Meyer’s stuff.  She does the impossible and makes it possible.  Which is one of the reasons she’s on this list.


Unless Meg Cabot changes her books drastically (which I doubt) she’ll always be on my auto buy list. Oh, wait, I sort of don’t do a lot of her middle grade stuff because middle grade really isn’t my thing-no kissing.  But YA and adult books, so freaking there.

Sheldon Cooper’s More Emotionally Challenged Sister: Model Misfit by Holly Smalle

Harriet Manners is a model.

She used to be a geek, but now she has transformed into a creature of grace and sophistication. She is completely at one with the world of fashion.

Except she’s not.

In fact, Harriet feels even less popular and more awkward now than she did when she was just a geek. So when Yuka Ito invites her to go to Japan and be the face of her new label, Harriet seizes the chance to get away.

Harriet might have to bring along her crazy grandma Bunty, and she might run into Nick, the gorgeous costar who unceremoniously dumped her two months ago. But no one is going to ruin her fabulous Tokyo summer.

Unless she accidentally ruins it herself…

Source: GoodReads

I loved Geek Girl earlier this year, but its sequel….


Um, I think it showed me the flaws that were in Geek Girl that I ignored.

To be fair, Model Misfit wasn’t a total flop.  But I did make the cringe face more than a couple of times throughout my read.

Before I get “nasty”, I’d like to say at its core this is not a bad book.  It is very enjoyable.  It is a feel good book.  The sort of book that’s perfect to read in short bursts while you wait for the cable guy to set up the wireless at your new apartment (okay, just giving an example of my reading experience).  It’s nice fluff.

And I like fluff.  Don’t get me wrong, good fluff is hard to come by and should be enjoyed.  It’s just that sometimes fluff like this is clearly written for profit.

Because I am really wondering was a sequel necessary?

There wasn’t anything relevant to the plot in this one.  It just felt like a tact on installment.

I think a lot of it had to do with the lack of character development.  The side characters are one dimensional as ever.  Harriet’s dad acts ridiculously childish.  Her agent’s dialogue while sometimes hilarious sometimes grates.  And Harriet herself.  Is soooo grating.

I get that the book is suppose to be over the top, but I’d like to see some development with the character.  Having her remain in status like this is a problem I see with lots of pink books.  Case in point, the middle part of the Princess Diaries novels and the ever continuing Becky Bloomwood series (you’d think her husband would get a clue and cut up the credit cards at this point and banish her to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with no Wi Fi and the nearest Wal-Mart is like two hours away).  These characters just stayed the same to produce more books.  Okay, in Mia’s case she finally grew up, but Becky is still binge shopping.  I’m afraid that five books from now Harriet will still be spewing out useless facts in outfits that only a three-year-old high on LSD would pick.


As for the romance in this installment, I didn’t care for it.  I actually didn’t mind Nick in the first book, but I hated the set up in this one.  Which involved a lot of girl hate.  Yes, I get girls can be mean, but it’s such a groan worthy cliche that I have no words about it.

And yes, I get it was one big  misunderstanding on one of the parties part.  But still, I have my bitchy face (oh, wait, that’s my normal face-have recently learned I have a case of resting bitch face since several people have “kindly” t0ld me to smile more-um, NOT going to happen) on about this relationship.

I really don’t even get the attraction between the two of them at this point.  Harriet is…well, she’s like Sheldon Cooper’s more emotionally immature little sister and Nick is just a dick (okay, I couldn’t help myself it rhymed).

Model Misfit wasn’t a complete disaster for me, but it was a harsh wakeup call.  I just could not see past some things.  While there were occasions that the quirks I found in the first book were charming, a lot of the time they felt gimmicky.  I will be continuing on but with high caution, I hope this series goes more in the vein of the Princess Diaries books than the Shopaholic books.  At least Mia eventually grew up.  Alas, after this installment, I have a feeling that Geek Girl: Ties the Knot (if it were to ever be published) would include an over neurotic twenty-seven year-old Harriet who still wore outfits out of Claudia Kishi’s closet and talked about random facts that obviously make her a geek-probably about weddings that no one will want to know about.  She’ll also do something fairly stupid like piss off the Wedding DJ or getting into a food fight at her wedding.  I don’t know.  Just something that is ridiculously cringe worthy.

Overall Rating: I’m giving it a cautious B.  I did enjoy this book, but yeah it had its flaws and I have a feeling after I read the third installment I might be shaking my head in retrospect.

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Who I’ve Read the Most From

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

I read a lot of different authors but here are the authors I’ve probably read the MOST from (note, this is a mix of all genres).


I’ve read so many books written by “Carolyn Keene” it’s not even funny.  Yes, I know they’re ghost written.  But I have a mound of these books in storage and so I’m putting them on the list.


I know there are only seven books, but with the amount of rereading I’ve done I think I’ve sort of accumulated more titles by Rowling.  I really should read her other stuff.  While A Casual Vacancy might not be my sort of thing, her mystery novels look intriguing.


I hate to admit it, but I have read far too many of these books.  That’s what you get when you challenge yourself to read a twelve installment series.  Looking back on it, I HATE the fact I gave the Casts so much time.  I think it’s one of the reasons why I don’t do as many Snark Reads anymore.  Besides the fact, this book caused irreparable damage to my liver.


Oh, Judy Blume.  I have way too many of your books on shelf.  And the fact that they cover so many age groups….well, there’s a lot of them on my shelves.


I’m finding that as I’m creating this list, a lot of authors are on here because they are prolific.  Armentrout is one of them.  The past couple of years, her list has grown increasingly large and I’ve read a fair amount of these titles.


I’ve read twelve or so Richelle Mead books in the past year.  That alone is reason to have her on this list.


I read way too many of de la Cruz’s books.  To be fair, some of them are really good.  But in between the good ones there are some (excuse my language) turd versions of books. Might I remind you fo Frozen and not the Frozen where one sings “Let It Go”.


It feels like I’ve read more of her books that I actually have.  I think it’s because I make time each year to reread Paradise and Perfect. Some of her historicals are actually quite good too-though some are worth skipping.


I used to read these books a lot when I was in middle school and early high school.  I pretty much read all of her list up until around 2007 or so-when the books rapidly started declining.  My favorite is still probably All Around the Town although the information on the  mental disorder DID (then called MPD) is badly out of date it is fascinating.


I have every single Meg Cabot book and read most of them-I still haven’t gotten through all the Patricia Cabot historicals yet.  I think the reason I keep reading Meg Cabot books is that they make me happy.  That and the women has to be part robot-I don’t know how she writes as many books as many books as she does.