The Egypt Book I Wanted: In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

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Caroline Kelly is excited to be spending her summer vacation working at the local amusement park with her best friend, exploring weird Ohio with her boyfriend, and attending soccer camp with the hope she’ll be her team’s captain in the fall.

But when Caroline’s mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo, Egypt, Caroline’s plans are upended. Caroline is now expected to spend her summer and her senior year in a foreign country, away from her friends, her home, and everything she’s ever known.

With this move, Caroline predicts she’ll spend her time navigating crowded streets, eating unfamiliar food, and having terrible bouts of homesickness. But when she finds instead is a culture that surprises her, a city that astounds her, and a charming, unpredictable boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love, and privilege.

Source: GoodReads

I love books about travel.  I love emerging myself into other country’s history and culture.  If done right a book about traveling will very easily end up on my favorites lists since I’ll feel like I’m emerging into a whole new world.  If done wrong, it will have me raging so hard.

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Luckily, for Trish Doller In a Perfect World had me smiling throughout the entire book.  Was it perfect, no there were some parts that were a little unbelievable, but I think overall the general feel of the novel worked.

Full disclosure I have never been to Egypt or anywhere near that area of the world, but from what I read it did seem like Doller did her research.  Or at the very least, she did a better job than Colleen Houck did with that God awful mummy book of hers, which isn’t exactly a high bar.  And it did address the geopolitical issues in the area that many other books that take place in the area often overlook.

The Egypt that Doller depicts is multi-dimension you see the good and bad bits of it, and above else it feels real.  I think the fact that the location itself is a character, its much the same way where I felt that Paris and San Fransisco were a character in themselves in Stephanie Perkins books.

The plot of this book isn’t really there that much.  Sure, there is a love story and sure the character grows, but it’s not that plot heavy.  And maybe that’s why I didn’t really like what happened to the eye clinic at the end of the book.  It just seemed too random and out of place more than anything else.  Merely a way to end the story sooner rather than later.

And while I understand why Doller chose this plot point, it still came off a little cheap.  Just like the end of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, the romantic part of me liked the ending but the more realistic part of my brain was crying foul since I know that the situation would be a lot more complicated than Doller made it seem though.

That aside though, I really did like this book a lot.  It’s the perfect summer book for escapism.  The characters were depicted and their parents were more than just merely there because-hey, seventeen year olds need parents.

The main character’s parents, in particular, are well drawn out and felt like real people.  I particularly liked the father’s relationship with Caroline throughout the book.

I also liked the romance for the most part too.  The relationship builds up realistically and it does address the problems that the two characters are going to face.  Again though, not such a big fan of the ending even though it was cute.

If you can’t get away this summer and want something that can transport you to another location if only for a few hours.  This is your book.

Overall Rating: A-

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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

 

That time Nancy Drew Met Indiana Jones (Sort Of): Nancy Drew Tomb of the Lost Queen

Nancy doesn’t actually meet Indiana.  Big disclaimer there.  But it would’ve been awesome if she would’ve.

I actually enjoyed his game a lot, even though it’s plot was a disaster (more about that later).

The puzzles were tricky enough, but once you started playing there were patterns there that made some of them easy to solve.  I still used lots and lots of hints though.  I’m not proud of it,but I am an impatient person.

Oddly enough, it’s not the actual puzzles that mess me up.  Okay, some of them do.  BUT what really gets me in the newer games is triggering an event to happen in the game.  I think there was a good hour or two I just spent exploring trying to trigger the next event to occur.

That map in the Antiquities Tent really didn’t help matters.

The characters were okay.  Like I said the plot was a bit of a disaster, I thought if they spent maybe fleshing out some aspects of the characters personalities it might’ve helped the plot make more sense.  But I will still say that the characters are more well formed than Alibi in Ashes.

I love that there was a recurring character in this game.  That character is a personal favorite of mine and I’m glad that the company continues to use her.

As for as games go, this is more on the educational side-though I really am wondering how accurate some of the hieroglyphic bits are.  Which is fine, because I get they were trying to do a puzzle.  It’s just that…

It just didn’t seem that accurate to me. And let’s face it, if Indy was in this game things would’ve ben solved a lot faster.  Plus, Nancy would’ve dumped Ned for him (obvs).  Because Indiana Freaking Jones.

Oddly this game felt almost claustrophobic.  I guess that was the intention since it is set in a dig location in the middle of the desert.  I guess you are suppose to feel isolated and beyond help.  Though, it seems like everyone on the site got help pretty fast.  So, the whole desperation feel, there really was no need.

As I said before the actual mystery is a little bit out there.  I still can’t figure out the motive behind the villain.  It was just like one character said he/she was bad and we took her word for it without discovering anything else.

I mean….I still don’t get why he was doing what he was doing. And it’s been a week since I played this game.

If you want to learn about Ancient Egypt and so Egyptian inspired puzzles, this is your game.  Despite it’s plot holes it’s really enjoyable and challenging.  But if you care about the story….yeah.

Overall Rating: B-

The Chaos of Stars: Kiersten White

The shallow part of me wants to buy a hard copy just for that cover.  But I am NOT going to be shallow because this…this…this

Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Harper Teen/ Edelweiss this has not affected my opinion of this book.  I am also not a book archeologist or am claiming to be a doctor of any kind even though I have a JD which is technically a doctorate most people don’t call me doctor unless they’re my aunt.

From the Diaries of Dr. MJ—book archeologist: in LucasFilm’s set for Ancient Egypt (hey, I need something more dramatic than my storage unit)



I made a strange discovery today on the job.  I found a book.  Okay, so I find a lot of books hidden in these tombs of forgotten books-but this book it hasn’t been published yet.  Why is an ARC in the Temple of the Forgotten?  I must read it.

I read it.  This happened.

Yes, my head really did explode.  Or the little vein that’s on my forehead popped a little bit.  It was that bad.

As a book archeologist it’s my duty to study how this book became what it is.  It’s a hard job, I know, but I’ll do my best.  I don’t blame who tried to rid it from this world of its existence though.  Might I recommend burning it next time because unless…

Oh, God, I can’t believe I’m actually advocating burning a book.  That’s not me at all.  Now I feel dirty.

I need to be scholarly.  After all, that’s what Dr. MJ is scholarly when she’s not fighting the Nazis with a bazooka and finding lost antiquities….different archeologist.  I only visit storage units.

So, how do I tackle this books awfulness.  Let’s start with the source: the author.

Kiersten White is probably best known for her Paranormalcy series which reads like a kid high on candy.  I actually liked the first two a lot, but I never loved them  like a lot of people did.  I could never pinpoint why until now because of this book.  After Paranormlacy was published White released Mind Games.  The book was sort of a disaster.  But it amazing that White tried something new, stream of consciousness,  and that she wrote it in like two weeks (amazing, but it really shows).  I had really high hopes for Chaos of the Stars.  I thought that without being on a sugar rush or the weird stream of consciousness that Mind Games employed, this might be the White book I was waiting for.

Boy was I wrong.

Instead, I found out what I hated about Paranormalcy because this book had the same proble: it was gimmicky.

If you take a part the few differences: Sparkly character replaced by sullen character, secret organization of paranormal hunters replaced with Egyptian compound, beep replaced with floods, girl moving to realty, they’re very similar.  Down to a lot of the same gags and humor.  It’s blatantly obvious here that White relies on her own tropes.  Other authors that I like do this, but it’s not this obvious.  Take for example, Meg Cabot.  You could make an argument that her characters are very similar, but each of her stories is unique and her tropes are altered more than changing beep to floods.  Reading that just made me groan.

It probably also didn’t help matters that I hated Isadora.  I know why she was not a goddess because no one would want to worship this girl.  She’s horrible.  She makes Bella Swan look like a happy character who loves life.  That’s how depressing she is.  And she’s just so self entitled.  She hates her parents basically because she’s going to die like…you know, everyone.

Get over it.

Seriously.  That’s her beef throughout the entire novel.  And instead of trying to act all mature about it, what does she do dye her hair green and get a faux hawk and proceed to judge others on the beach and calls her brother Horus, Whore-us (real mature) .

I kid you not.  She and her new friends also devote their times making fun of people in their swimsuits (in particular a pregnant woman).

A real sweetheart that one.

And of course because this is YA she’s guaranteed a man-cessory who helps her break that hard bitchy exterior of hers (he doesn’t, despite what White says).   Let’s describe Ry.  He’s described looking like Prince Eric and Evie  Isadora keeps mentioning how blue his eyes are.  There’s a paragraph that’s like blue, blue, blue (Oh, the art of the English language).  And then bam, he’s the descendent of Greek gods which is just completely random and irrelevant to the story except for the fact that White puts her foot in her mouth when she states that Greek and Egyptian mythology is the same thing.

Um, no.

They might share some similar elements, but they are not the same thing.  The Osiris and Isis myth is completely different from the Persephone myth, for instance.  The thunder god rules the Greeks, the sun god is in charge of the Egyptians.  Greek gods for the most part were human figures, Egyptian gods often were a little bit more animalistic in appearance.  I could go on, but I won’t.  And yes, White, I get your point that a lot of religions revolve around agriculture I read The Source for Mrs. R’s World History class after all, but still different mythologies.  And WTF was Ri the some of Aphrodite and Hephaestus was it just so that Isadora could get access to their Wonder Woman jet for the stupid climax?

 

You know what, I don’t even care.  It’s the same thing with the whole basis of human spawns from two gods.  There’s no explanation for it.  I’m just supposed to buy it.

And you know, I don’t.  I don’t.

Maybe it’s wrong for me to question things when I read, but I want some explanation besides the facts you found about Ancient Egyptian mythology Wikipedia.  Seriously, the tone of the info dumps read like Wikipedia.

It was pathetic.

It’s not difficult to breathe life into mythologies.  Even Josephenie Angelini has done that to a degree in that shit storm, Starcrossed.  The info dumping was hideous in that novel, but at least it didn’t seem to be like a ripoff of Wikipedia which made the rest of the book feel disjointed.  It probably didn’t help matters that were just some random bizarre parts of the book.  For example, at one point the main character talks about her dad’s magic penis.

Her dad’s magic penis.

That is one thing I don’t want to read about especially in a YA book.  And yes, I know she was retelling part of the Osiris book but…mind bleach please!

I think the info dump, the lackluster narration, and the illy placed dreams made the pacing in this book seem very awkward and just sort of ruined climax.  I didn’t really know what to make of it and wasn’t sure if there was supposed to be a sequel or much.   I really couldn’t make sense of the plot if there was one because I just kept groaning so much.  Like when Ry assumes that Isadora speaks Arabic because she looks Egyptian and starts randomly speaking to her in it despite the fact she spoke to him in clear English with no accent.

This book is best forgotten.  It sort of reminds me of the term lemon (not the fan fiction term, but the term we talked about in several classes describing car or other product that seems perfect on paper but just falls apart once you actually use it).  I understand why this book has been hidden in this temple of lost books.  But it needs to be hidden better where no one can find it.  Unfortunately, though I see many people falling for it like I did.  But a White sucker I am no longer.  Not after this.