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.

Seriously?

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,

MJ

Pretend Book Editor/Publisher

 

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Do Not Attempt to Drive After Reading This Review: Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck

 

Let’s just put it this way, if all the other books in the Tiger series are farts (and they are) would smell so bad it would probably be consider a weapon of mass destruction or at the very least get whatever building it was let in condemned.

It’s that bad.

I don’t even know why it exists to be honest.

I guess to resolve the stupid love triangle.  But with the resolution it had, Houck should’ve just went for a Cassandra Clare ending a la Clockwork Princess and we all know how much I just looooved that ending.

That’s sarcasm if you couldn’t tell.

This review is suppose to be a drinking game.  But I thought about just how am I ethically suppose to expose your liver to alcohol or if you’re from being over-hydrated (if you’re doing non-alcoholic beverages)?  I just can’t.  But I have to talk about this book and it’s horrible ever tiring love triangle, plot that doesn’t make since, mythology that is constantly shitted on, and culture stereotypes.  If I complained about that stuff again, I’d be repetitive, but then what am I suppose to talk about….Well, I guess I could discuss Tiger’s Destiny in the context of comparing it to other works out there.  Which I guess makes sense since Colleen Houck is obviously targeting any main stay tropes in the genre right now.

Trope One: The Love Triangle.

The Kelsey in love with two brothers triangle is more tiring that Bella/Edward/Jacob or any sort of repetitive love triangle that Cassandra Clare and a host of others had thrown at readers in the past few years.

Especially the resolution.  I have to say the end of this triangle might even be worse than Breaking Dawn.  And I fucking hated the end of Breaking Dawn with it’s whole Jacob turning into a pedo.

And yes, he is a pedo.  If you want to argue about it with me, fine.  Do it like an adult.  But I have own beliefs why the relationship with Jacob and Nessie is gross and was a huge mistake on Stephenie Meyer’s part but since I don’t work for Little Brown (I wish) I don’t think anyone with power gives a shit.

So, why do I think a love triangle that ended with a guy basically forcing himself to be the future mate of a demon child was much better than this book.  Well, at least there was resolution before the last five pages of the book.

Seriously.

Even Clockwork Princess which had one of the worst love triangles ever was more resolved than this one.

While Kelsey doesn’t get to have her cake and eat it too, she almost does.  And while one could argue that she felt loss based on her choices, not really.  She got who she wanted.  That was made perfectly clear.  And as for her loss, it was loss that was okay (and if Houck writes a fifth book, which I hear she is, I’m sure she’ll resolve that as well).

The endgame while expected, to me was disappointed.  I think the story might’ve worked better if it was the other guy.  Yes, the ending would’ve been more bittersweet, but I think the consequences would be more lasting.  Rather, the guy that lost was given as much thought as inserting a poem from the public domain into the book.

Trope Two:  The Plot

Action.

Action.

Action.

Very little substance.

Let’s be frank.  I like action.  My favorite movies are the Indiana Jones series (and it’s not just because Harrison Ford was hot way back in the day), I like the whole adventure plot.  But in the Tiger series, the action makes no sense.  And I don’t think Houck puts much effort into trying to make it work.  It’s just like one action sequence after another.  Oh, she does try to dump big little life lessons on us (but I’ll get to mocking those in a minute).

There are other action filled plots out there in the genre.  I think Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles is a perfect example of a series that’s filled with action.  But Meyer manages to make the action coherent and work with the storyline.  There’s a reason she added those scenes and it’s not just for an enormous page count.

Trope Three: Little Life Lessons

Anyone who took a high school English class knows that there’s always something deeper about the novel.  At least if you read the book the way your high school English teacher wants you to read it.

I think Colleen Houck wanted her series to be read in such a way and it just makes me laugh.

This book is no To Kill a Mockingbird or The Lord of the Flies, heck it’s not even a stupid John Green book.  The only thing literary about it is that Houck likes to take Shakespeare sonnets and Tennyson poems out of the public domain and slap them into the book to add to omnibus page count.

And really, really, who do you think reads all these sonnets and poems.

No freaking one.

Just like I didn’t listen to the so called poignant lessons about life and loss that she tried to throw in the book too.

I just couldn’t take it seriously.

Especially since every poignant scene had to be filled with pages from the public domain.

Houck, do you know how cheap that looks?

Apparently not.

But seriously, how am I suppose to mourn characters when all you want to do is throw in a completely unrelated Shakespeare sonnet.

Concluding Thoughts and New Torment:

I am glad I’m done guys.  You probably are too.  Reading this series has turned me into a whiney baby and I hate whining about books.  But God this book…this series.

The really horrifying part is that there is potential there.  A lot of potential.  India is a country that is rich in culture and mythology and with the way that Houck just disgraces it it’s really shameful.  Her view of the world reminds me a lot of this song, and if you know how I feel about this particular Disney Direct to DVD that’s not a good thing.

On that note, I guess it’s time to introduce the series that I’m going to explode my liver to next.  A lot of people like this series of three books that I’m about to read, but at the same time a lot of people have mocked it for the author’s apparent over use of stereotypes.

Yes, I’m going to attempt to read The Perfect Chemistry series again.  And let’s hope for my liver that there’s not that many mamasitas said or else I can just imagine the tequila shots I’ll be taking.

 

Overall rating for Tiger’s DestinyBig fat F.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Tiger’s Voyage by Colleen Houck

As I was reading Tiger’s Voyage,  I couldn’t help but myself but Eureka!  Finally a guide to how to write a book.  Don’t believe me.  I seriously believe that Colleen Houck could write a book on how to write a novel and its sort of all in Tiger’s Curse.  Since she hasn’t patented this brilliant formula.  I’ve decided I’ll write a guide.  It’s not official or anything.  But whatever. I find after a couple of glasses of wine it makes a lot of sense.

Step One: Have a Perfect But Doesn’t Realize It Character Who Everyone Including the Otherwise Asexual Villain is in Love With.

Every fucking everybody is in love with Kelsey.  She’s so perfect, but doesn’t realize it.  And she happens to get curvier as she loses weight. And has a Barbie size waist.

Is that even possible?

Whatever.  She’s perfect which obviously means she’s the bestest YA heroine ever.

Honestly, I inwardly cringe when I read these books because it’s more than a little obvious that Kelsey is a self insert to the point it’s not even funny.

Step Two: Have two heros Who Are About as Male as, well, Ken.

Recently, my friend, Khanh, seemed to coin a problem that I’ve seen going on with several of the heros in YA.  They lack penises. Seriously, I don’t get it.  Why does every YA hero have to be a) a dick or b) lack any sort of masculinity?  Houck’s heros are actually a weird hybrid.  While Ren will be acting extremely chaste where the most romantic thing he’s doing is copying pasting a poem out of the public domain one page, the next he’ll  be telling Kelsey that she can’t cut her magic induced butt length hair.  I’m sorry, but butt length hair is impractical and makes you look like one of those people who have a show on TLC.

Because plastic is oh so sexy.

Not a thing that you really want unless you have time to do a lot of brushing.  And if you do keep up the maintenance, I’m sure it look nice.

But Kelsey doesn’t fucking want butt length hair.

Sigh…

Step Three: People Enjoy Reading about Food and Clothes and Poetry..So Don’t be So Focused on Plot.

A good chunk of the book was something like this (note, I’m paraphrasing this is not an actual quote): This morning I was going to wear my red dress, but Ren didn’t like that said it made me look like a harlot.  So, I put on the black one.  But Kishan said it was boring.  So I just decided to keep on my Garfield pajamas as I told the golden fruit (which could cure the problem of world hunger but I don’t fucking give a flip) to make me a Denny’s Grand Slam with extra bacon and maple syrup-oh, and some chocolate chip peanut butter crap too.  And then Ren read me a Shakespeare sonnet (if I was actually Houck I’d insert the whole damn sonnet here).  And then after that I made myself a pastrami sandwich, with some ranch chips,  a Coke float, and a ice cream sundae from DairyQueen before I put on my purple evening dress and Ren read some more poetry that’s in the public domain.

I’m not joking people.  This is literally what the first third of the book was. Okay, throw in some melodrama love triangle bullshit and some horrid accents which I’ll get to in a minute.  But that was pretty much it.

Step Four: You want to show diversity well use a shit load of accents and make them offensive as ever.

This is a PSA for Ms. Houck.  I am a born and raised Texan and I have never:

1) Road a horse.

2) Like Lonestar beer.

3) Gone honkey tonking.

4) Spoke incomprehensible English that makes me sound like Hagrid’s ill educated American cousin.

I guess it could be worse.  Look what she did to the poor country of Jamaica.  The way that character spoke you’d think that Jamaicans were drunk all the time and were related to Hagrid as well.

Authors, just state that the character speaks with an accent.  Don’t try to do this shit.  It annoys me.

Step Five: Start Your Halfway Mark by Having a Character Info Dump Wikipedia.

Mr. Kadam just needs to be replaced by Siri at this point.  All he does is blurt out fact that Siri could find for you.  There’s really no point for him to be there.  Then, I guess be the money man who can just call in a yacht or a passport in a snap of a few fingers.

Which is just really unrealistic and pathetic. However, in this book I actually was cheering Kadam’s Wiki dump on because I knew the book was going to be halfway over.  If there’s one thing consistent about Houck its her pacing.  First half waste of space like I previously described.  Second half begins with boring info dump which turns to the dumbest action scenes ever.

Step Six: Have All These Life and Death Action Scenes Guarded by Uber Powerful Dragons Resolved, well, Faster than a Disney Movie:

And Disney movies are at most ninety minutes long, guys (ninety minutes which translates to one page per minute of screenplay versus 560 pages that this book freaking had).  Of course, Houck has lame action scene after lame action scene stacked on top of each other, but I really can’t get excited for any of them.

I think this book though had what had to be the lamest of all her action scenes so far.  When a dragon, a freaking dragon, decided to give all the characters a princess makeover.

Deciding the color of Kelsey’s dress is much more important than you knowing defeating and killing her.

Oh, yeah, everyone including Kelsey’s boy toys had to be made over to look like they belonged at Disney World or at least where they could be cast members of Once Upon a Time.

This is where the butt long hair comes from.

Really, if you were a dragon would you use your powers to give idiots a Disney makeover for atmosphere value.

All I can say is this:

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Step Seven: End with Another Stupid Cliffhanger

Because that cash cow needs a little more draining.

Honestly, I am going to have to take a bit of a break before I force myself to read the fourth installment of this shit fest.  They just get progressively worse and worse.  The thing about this particular series is I can’t help but feel a little sorry and for that matter baffled by it.  I mean, the wish fulfillment and self gratification that I can just read from it sickens me to the point I’m like why.  Just no.  No. F.

The First Twenty Pages Alone Will Put You in a Coma

Well, if you get through the first hundred pages of this book it’s bearable enough to not cause cirrhosis  of the liver.  However, those first hundred pages really those first twenty.  Well, let’s just say I had over twenty status updates alone for these pages.

That’s not to say the rest of the book is good.  It’s just as bad, but in a complete different way.

The first hundred pages though illustrated many things about this cluster fuck (because who am I kidding this series is a cluster fuck mess) that shows just what makes it the perfect book to get drunk over.  It probably doesn’t help that in the first few pages the main character is gifted with a  house, porsche, college admittance and tuition, a whole new wardrobe, and a never ending bank account.

What do I say but: barf.

Seriously.  Total wish fulfillment.

It also doesn’t help that there’s a blatant self insert character in the book who makes a cameo appearance. So much where said self insert character husband looks almost identical to author’s husband.

It really is almost pathetic.

Sadly, though, unlike the first novel which could get away with some of this crap because 1) it wasn’t the  author’s first book, and 2) it was  not self published and a lot of the cheese had to go through several people who weren’t Houck’s friends.

These sorts of things really puzzle me.

Just as the rest of the book was.

Editing really was this book’s worst trait.

I would say out of the four hundred and seventy something pages, about two hundred and fifty pages could be cut.  The fact that Houck inserts a ridiculous amount of poems that do not belong to her made me want  to stab someone.  Yes, I know she has every right to insert them since they belong to the public domain, but it’s a little grating especially when these are the sorts of things I skip.

It wasn’t really the tons of poems that I skipped over though.  Much of the story was skim worthy as well.  Like I care if Kelsey dates three random dudes who disappear after page one hundred and twenty.

Seriously, none of these dudes had any development.  Save for maybe Li.  And he was only there because it appears that Houck has now decided to defecated over Chinese culture.

And once again, after page one hundred and twenty.  No more Li.

Instead, we focus more on the relationship Kelsey has with Ren’s brother for our so called triangle that came out of nowhere.

And yeah, it’s a triangle.

Which seems ridiculous given the past history between these two brothers and the fact that Kelsey knows it.  But everyone knows that two hot brothers always make for an interesting and compelling love triangle (or so I’m told). Hence, why Houck put it in here even though it was otherwise completely unnecessary.

I really don’t get it.  Why does a love triangle have to be used all the stinking time?  I don’t have love triangles, but there are some times where they aren’t necessary.  This is one of those cases.

And when a love triangle isn’t necessary…well, the book ends up sucking.

It also really doesn’t help when the authors characterization is so bland thatI really didn’t see any difference between brother one than brother two except one has blue eyes.  And kids you know that blue eyes always means you’re going to be a winner, unless your name is Edward Cullen.

To be honest, I really felt the Twilight ripoff vibe with this particular installment.  Arguably, you could make that claim with about half of the entire paranormal books in the YA genre.  But some of the things that Houck did with this installment from the vast amount of ridiculous gifts that Ren flourishes on her, a remark about how one member of the uber couple is Ritalin to the other (I know not heroin, but close enough) , and of course Edward Ren writes her a song.  I know, not a lullaby but once again close enough.

These things on top of research done in Wikipedia done in haste with a little mix of fan girl involved.  And it shows: painfully.

This story should be great.  It really does have so much potential, but in the end it just really doesn’t work.  I really can’t enjoy this series even in a campy bad type of way.  Unlike the House of Night books, I can’t mock in earnest because because of its omnibus length it gets boring to mock after awhile.  And it’s honestly, just sort of sad to mock because it thinks it’s excelling when it’s really not.  Cheap tricks, the usual tropes, and everything else that cause me to groan and have everyone around me to ask me if I’m okay, does not make for a good book.

Overall Grade: Two out of ten (F).