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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 


A Kiss at Midnight - Eloisa James



Just ew.


I hated this book.


The good news is I got it very cheap, the bad news in the words of the great Gordon Ramsay it sucked Donkey’s balls.


To sum up this book you could make a drinking game whenever any of the following things are mentioned/happened:

  1. 1)Kate tells us how she’s so unattractive because she’s skinny/old/tan/etc. (this happens around  5k times throughout the novel)
  2. 2)Kate slut slams her half sister (about 1k times)
  3. 3)Kate wears a wig (oh, a good three hundred and some odd times).  You can vary shots on this one depending on the color of the wig-the more audacious the color the more fancy the cocktail can be.
  4. 4)Anytime, the prince comes up with a lame excuse why he can’t be with Kate(pretty much anytime save for the last chapter).
  5. 5)A conflict is solved with little to no fall out (the entire book)
  6. 6)Kate becomes miraculously beautiful or is told she’s beautiful and instantly rebuffs it


Based on this impromptu drinking game I made it, it’s very obvious this book was grating to me.


To be fair, I read it in the course of another very boring work day where I had nothing to do because I reviewed my notary chapters and I can’t calculated the figures yet for the report I’m working on.  So…reading time.




Until you read crap like this.


I purchased this book because I read somewhere it was nominated for some award and was fairly cheap.  I don’t know how this got nominated for an award because it was awful.  The characters were flat, I didn’t really get the conflict, and any semblance of a plot there was was pretty much resolved with no freaking fall out save for a rushed explanation in the epilogue.


Epic suckage.


The sex scenes even felt lifeless.  Grant it, in historicals I usually skim them anyway-because the imagery is more often than not painful-BUT in this one those scenes were more or less an afterthought.



To be honest, I didn’t think the characters liked each other enough to have sex.

The plot, also was a hot mess.  There was no logic at all holding it together.  I didn’t get how this scheme was suppose to work, or why the sister’s boyfriend was in on it.

It didn’t make sense.  Let alone, why the Idiot’s (hero) approval was needed.


Yes, he was a prince.  But they downplay that a LOT through the novel.

While this wasn’t offensive in a way a old fashion 70’s or 80’s bodice ripper would’ve been, it’s its own brand of offensive.   It’s the sort of book that thinks their readers are raging idiots.  I understand that sometime that you have to stretch you imagination to believe that some things in a book can/have happened, but this was just ridiculous.  The author was just plain lazy.


Look, I’m going to advise you to pass on this one.  I feel like it got way more recognition then it really deserved.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/a-kiss-at-midnight-eloisa-james

Will, Stop Being Such a Bella

Dumplin' - Julie Murphy

I think my problem with Dumplin’ was that I expected a different book than what I got.  To be fair, after I got through the first third of this book I was able to enjoy it enough.  Not love it liked I hope, but enjoy it.


The first third though.



There was nothing, that was holding my interest and it was just so boring and blah on so many levels.  I was expecting Willowdean to be this firecracker who didn’t care jack shit about what size her butt was.


But nope.


She whined, moped, and accused anyone of hating her because of her size.  She made judgments about other characters-a.k.a. Millie


She judged.


A lot.


And she judged so much throughout the book, to the point I wanted to punch her.  Though, she did have her moments where I could forgive her (kneeing a certain jerk in the nuts gave her bonus points).


The thing was the blurb advertised a self confident character, and this character really didn’t have much-if any-self confidence.


All her actions rooted from being insecure.


Even entering the pageant which was a shame.  The pageant part was really underplayed.  I was hoping for something that was a bit more of Bridesmaids with maybe some Pitch Perfect, but that wasn’t how those scenes were done at all.

It wasn’t bad.



Just not the complete awesomeness I was hoping for.


It was the same with the romance.  To be blunt about it, the romance angle was something I’ve seen in plenty YA books and it’s pretty exasperating.  The only difference was that we had a main character that wasn’t a size two playing the role of the center piece in the triangle.


And despite the fact that Will might be more relatable physically, her action are still jerkish a la Bella Swan and a host of others.


I didn’t like how she treated either boy.  And I thought one of them was a jerk to her, and the other guy deserved a lot more than he got.


One thing I really hate when I read is the excuse of “chemistry”.  Like the nice guy isn’t good enough because there was no “chemistry” there.


Bull freaking shit.


That’s what I wanted to tell Will and a host of others characters before her who act this way.  While I get chemistry plays an important part in any relationship, if he’s a jerk he’s a jerk.  Nothing’s going to change that.



Pulling out hair moment, right there.


I will say though, even though there are a lot of hair pulling moments in this book, there were a lot of moments that made me smile.  I liked all the Dolly Parton references.  How Dolly plays a role throughout the book, and I loved, loved, loved, the Dolly drag club scene.


That was probably one of the best scenes in the book.


I also like Will’s new friends.  I wanted more time spent on them.  Again, I was expecting something more akin to Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect-you know misfit female cast being awesome.  But it just doesn’t seem like it was meant to be here.


If you don’t make expectations before reading Dumplin’ you’ll probably enjoy it.  The book does highlight North Texas pretty well.  Several of the things that Will experienced, I nodded my head to because, well, it was something I had experience with.

I just really didn’t like the fact that this was more and less focused on a love triangle with yet another self conscious slightly bitchy character.


Overall Rating: A C. Average at best.  I  probably could rate it higher, but the hype kind of deflated it and I wanted to punch Will for being such a Bella.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/dumplin-julie-murphy

Decent Use of the Second Chances Trope

Again The Magic - Lisa Kleypas

 feel like if I hadn’t read Judith McNaught’s Paradise, I would’ve enjoyed this one much more.  Paradise is a contemporary that covers many of the same things that Again With the Magic did, except in my humble opinion better.


Again With the Magic isn’t a bad book.  I managed to finish it within like four hours.  That’s not bad at all.  Especially since I was very tired and I could’ve been doing other things like shopping online for my two new Chihuahuas.  However, it just didn’t live up to what I wanted.


One of the things I really like about the second chance romance trope is that you get to explore the characters at different points in their lives.  I felt like the “before” period was a bit rushed here and we were told not shown more or less McKenna and Aline’s romance.


Not that McKenna and Aline are that bad of characters, I just didn’t really feel like I “got” them.  Maybe this was in part that this book heavily featured a side romance with Aline’s sister and McKenna’s business partner.


The side romance was cute BUT…


I think it hindered my enjoyment of McKenna and Aline, who by all accounts should’ve been fascinating characters to explore.


First you have McKenna, who’s origins are kind of murky and honestly never get explored as much as I liked.  With Aline, something terrible happens to her, but it really doesn’t effect her life in a way that she has too much difficulty.  When she should.



Oh, yes, she didn’t marry…but what happened to her should’ve had more effect than what it did.


While I didn’t get to know the main characters as much I liked, I did think Kleypas did do an excellent job with depicting the side characters.  Save for one very, very, minor characters all of these characters showed many quirks and facets.


The plot here was fairly boring.  There wasn’t really anything driving it, but angst.  And angst can get very tiring after awhile.  And I think a part of me kept reading it because I wanted something more to happen.


If you like second chance romances that take place in the Victorian era this is probably a fairly solid one to read, but nothing extraordinary special.  It did make me want to revisit Paradise though.


Overall Rating: B+



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/second-chance-romance-again-the-magic-by-lisa-kleypas

Pistol Packing Moron

Vengeance Road - Erin Bowman

There are very few Westerns I like.


I blame my dad for that.


He forced me to watch so many Westerns in my youth and never let me watch Batman like I wanted.  Instead, it was always some Clint Eastwood or John Wayne movie or Lonesome Dove.




However, there were certain things about the summary of Vengeance Road that stuck out to me-i.e. gender bending.  So, I had to give it a chance.


And I’ll admit it, I liked this book.  I didn’t love it though.  There were some obvious annoyances to it.  But…the annoyances were sort of swept under the floor because overall it was a decent story.  Featuring a fairly bad ass, if idiotic MC.


I sort of have mixed feelings about Kate, folks. A part of me loved her and a part of me just wanted to smack her.  She has the idiotic bad ass YA character down to pact.  But since she actually shoots some baddies in the face, and learns from her mistakes I can’t hate her that much.


Vengeance Road is a brutal book.  Bowman does some pretty ballsy things throughout the story that most authors would’ve sugarcoat.  I hated some of these things, but I have to say they did add to the story.



Because if there is one word to describe Vengeance Road it is gritty.  Gritty on so many levels.


I also enjoyed how the Dutchman Treasure legend was incorporated in here.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this lore it’s basically involves a lost treasure in the middle of the desert that of course is cursed.  H2 has actually done a couple of fringe history shows about it, I want to say that maybe America Unearthed had an episode about it.

I’m not 100% sure though.  It might’ve been Ancient Aliens for all I know, but it was one of those not so educational shows.


Anyway, exploring fringe theories in fiction is always a good thing so I enjoyed that aspect of the book.


Besides, Kate the other characters were well formed as well.  There is a wide variety of cast members in this book.  And I can’t believe I’m saying it but I actually enjoyed the love interest-that’s rare for me in a YA book.


The book also incorporates diversity.  Kate is half Mexican.  There’s a kick ass Apache guide in the book.  And I love how the issues facing their various backgrounds are featured-though not in an issue pounding this screams school read type of way.


If you can overlook some of its obvious faults, Vengeance Road is a quick and enjoyable read.


Overall Rating: A solid B.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/pistol-packing-idiot-vengeance-road-by-erin-bowman

Holy Holmes

Every Word - Ellie Marney

Ellie Marney can do no wrong.


At least with this series.


I loved Every Breath, but Every Word….I think it is even better.  This book was so well crafted in every aspect that I’m just going to go all fangirl for a minute.



Okay, I’m better.


But seriously, if you haven’t checked out this series you NEED to pick it up.  Not only does it have a very swoon worthy ship, BUT Marney doesn’t sugar coat things when it comes to the action and the mystery.  While I only have a vague recollection of the mystery in Every Breath, the mystery in Every Word was really wow.


I really enjoyed the climax it reminded me a lot of one of my favorite shows Burn Notice.  Except of course, Mycroft is more like Sherlock than Michael Westen.


But still.


That was complete awesome.


Also, it probably helped that this book featured London.


I love London it’s like on top of my cities to see before I croak.  So anytime a book features that city, I HAVE to read it.


It was extremely interesting-to me as an American-reading the story from the perspective from an Australian visiting the country for the first time.  Especially seeing how an Australian enunciates a British accent, quite different from the way I hear it as a native Texan.


Every Word is a very dark book.  It had really a gloomy almost Batman-y like feel to it. I think would be the best way to describe it.  There are dark backstories to be explored.  The characters go to  some dark and twisty places.  And some bad things happen to them.


But I absolutely loved it.  Besides, even though there were a lot of dark things that happened in this novel, there were still many swoon moments and there were a couple of times where you would get a laugh or two.


Though, overall it is a thriller and a very good thriller.


As for the Sherlock and Watson nods, their still in this one but it’s much more subdued than in the previous installment.  They’re still there, but at the same time Rachel and Mycroft are developing as characters themselves.


Seriously, if you haven’t picked up this series do it now.  I’m tempted to pay the extraordinary price in shipping just to read the last installment already.  But my OCness in matching covers and having hardback covers is going to make me wait till the US releases the next one.


Overall Rating: An A+ definitely one of my favorites and in my top ten for the year.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/holy-holmes-every-word-by-ellie-marney

What if the Phantom of the Opera was a Quasi Cyborg?

Of Dreams and Rust - Sarah Fine

Of Metal and Wishes was one of my favorite books in 2014, BUT I didn’t think it needed a sequel.  The end of that book ended on such a bittersweet note, that I was sort of happy with how it was resolved.  But low and behold, it was announced that this was going to be a duology and, well, I was sort of interested in how things were going to progress.  Hoping that it wasn’t going to be a cop out AT all.


The result Of Dreams and Rust wasn’t bad per say, but it felt like something was missing.  To be fair though, overall I recommend the book AND I am recommending the series with some minor reservations to anyone who is in an Eastern inspired steampunk fantasy with nods to Phantom of the Opera.


What worked about Of Dreams and Dust.  A lot of things worked.  Character development being one of them.  Wen really grows as a person in this installment, but she still has her faults.  Same with the rest of the characters in this series.  However, even though Wen does grow, I do wonder about some of her decisions.


Her whole getting on the train and running away, seemed a little stupid to me.  I get it had to happen to accelerate the part, but she was really made some downright idiotic decisions.  And is in desperate need of a sassy gay friend.



What she wasn’t in need of was Bo.


Oh, God, did he annoy me.  Even though he is now basically a really cool cyborg or Ironman wannabe depending on how you define cyborg.


However, I don’t think his upgrade really helped his case.  Honestly, I don’t know  how anyone would ever ship Bo and Wen especially after this installment.  All he does is whine and moan, before doing something relatively helpful that might make you question why you hate him so much.Well, I don’t feel guilty about not liking you Bo.


The actual ship in this book is quite delicious.  It was developed a lot this installment, and I like how the character acknowledged that they have a lot to learn about each other.


Like with Of Metal and Wishes, Of Rust and Dreams has vividly creepy imagery.  It’s probably it’s biggest strength.  Also, the plot doesn’t try to be gentle it’s brutal.  Although, I did feel like the build up was a bit minimum-a filler novella that would’ve given us some insight into that missing year would’ve been helpful.


I’d say investing in this duology is worth while.  It’s short and quick, and has some great character development.  Although, it has it’s faults they were relatively minor-though I do think a little optional novella would’ve really filled in some much needed gaps.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/of-dreams-and-rust

In Which People in the Victorian Era Forget to Act Prudish

The Duchess War - Courtney Milan

I first came across Courtney Milan’s name when reading about the Ellora’s Cave/Dear Author case.  Her legal analysis on the case were pretty much on the ball and entertaining to read (something that’s difficult to do when it comes to talking about law stuff).  So, I decided that, hey, if she can make boring old law interesting, she can probably write a mean book.


When browsing through her catalogue, The Duchess War really caught my eye for a lot of different reasons and I had to give it a shot.


To be frank, I haven’t read a lot of historical romances published in the past few years.  Most of my historical romances are from my mom’s catalogue and it includes a lot of 80’s bodice rippers that arent’ very smart.


This book is smart.  When it comes to the time period and its characters.  It has it down pact.  Especially in the first half of the book.  The depiction of the characters was my favorite thing about this book.  I loved how the attraction that Robert had towards Minnie wasn’t one of initial physical attraction and that Minnie was never really described as a great beauty.  They really shared great chemistry and I actually felt the swoon for once in a romance novel.



That was a nice change.


I loved that both of them were damaged and that it effected their lives realistically.

What I didn’t like was how the fallout of the revelations of their secrets and character development of the second half was done.


It just felt rushed to me.  The first half, I was more than a little impressed.  But the second half was more or less a disappointment.  While Robert did get some resolution, Minnie really didn’t.  Oh, yeah, she got a happily ever after but it really didn’t feel like to me she confronted all her issues. And whatever happened to the aunts?

Which is sad, because the first half of the book really felt like it was going more towards the road of character development which I liked.


Still though, I was pretty impressed with the book.  The sex scenes weren’t awkward by any means or overwhelming.  A lot of the time I usually roll my eyes when there are like one hundred page sections-total-in a book devoted to the sex.  But there are only a few scenes in this novel, and it’s done tastefully.


I will definitely be reading more of Courtney Milan’s stuff in the future.  While The Duchess War wasn’t a perfect book, there were a lot of things that keep my interest.  At the very least, it allowed me to use period gifs again and that’s always a good thing.


Overall Rating: A B+


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/11/the-victorian-era-mightve-been-prudish-but-not-this-book-the-duchess-war-by-courtney-milan

In Which I Want Suze's Wardrobe

Ninth Key - Meg Cabot

Original Reading Experience: 


I read this in a binge read when I finally got my hands on the rest of the series-I had read books five and then later four first BEFORE finally reading books one, two, and three.


Honestly, I just wanted to get on with this one and get to the last book because I had to know how my ship was going to work out.  Because it just had to because surely Meg wouldn’t be that cruel…


Anyway, what I remembered the most about Ninth Key was Suze’s fashion choices-

Armani sweater seat, Batgirl boots, and Betsey Johnson miniskirt.  That outfit was imprinted on my brain.



And I kept thinking about it since.  Or at least that’s the outfit I always associated Suze with besides the plethora of slip dresses that she wore in the fourth book.

Funny, how this series became a lot of my fashion inspiration at the time.  No Cosmo for me, but Mediator.




Ninth Key to me was always the forgotten book in the series.  A lot of people say that about Reunion, but I actually like Reunion more or remember liking Reunion more-I think it Sleepy and Gina that made that one better than it really is.


I so ship them.  Despite the fact that Gina deserves someone a lot more responsible than Sleepy.


Okay, all kidding aside, Ninth Key isn’t bad, it’s just not that remarkable.


Well, the climax scenes were well done and hilarious, but besides them this book was  a particular slow book.  I have to give it Meg though for slowly developing the relationship between Suze and Jesse.  I really do love a good slow burn romance, and this is what this one is.  It’s such a arare thing in YA, so excuse me while I sort of relish in it.

However, I don’t think there was really any growth between them in this installment other than Suze acknowledges that Jesse is hot, and Jesse interrupts a very awkward date with Tad.


But we all knew it was never going to last with Tad.  I’m sure he found himself a nice boyfriend when he moved to San Francisco, just saying.  Honestly, Bryce and Suze were more believable and that’s pushing it.


It’s odd how it takes Paul Slater, who is basically a sociopath, to actually be the one love interest that potentially can match Jesse and that’s mostly in fannon.  Because Paul in cannon is sort of jerk, but he’s not in this book so we can’t talk about him.




Most of the development to the overall series was done of the ancillary relationships-family and friends-which was nice.  As I said before, it’s a filler book, but it does a good job showing how blended families relate to each other so that was good.


And I liked how we got to see a bit more of Adam and CeeCee in this installment, though I did feel like they were used a bit by Suze.


Bad Suze.


Overall though, Ninth Key is a good quick read.  It’s never going to have the same impact on me like other installments, but it doesn’t damper the series.


Overall Rating: A solid B.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/ninth-key

Out of Genre

Something Wonderful - Judith McNaught

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.




Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/out-of-genre-something-wonderful-by-judith-mcnaught

I Hate Babies

The Boy Most Likely To - Huntley Fitzpatrick

 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.




Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/the-boy-most-likely-to-by-huntley-fitzpatrick

The Great Mediator Reread

Shadowland - 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).


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.


Sheldon Cooper has a Higher Emotional IQ

Model Misfit - Holly Smale

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” told 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.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/model-misfit

It took me a month to read, worth it?

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

This book has gotten a ridiculous amount of hype.


It took me a month to read it.


Does that mean, I didn’t like it?  No.  Because last month was really messed up.  It probably didn’t help the book though that it’s style was fairly akin to a Kathleen Woodiwiss novel.


Meaning, it took a long time to read this even when I had the time-I traveled in early July and still didn’t finish this on the plane.  This is coming from someone who can usually finish a book in a good half a day or less with no interruptions. And honestly, a Woodiwiss book would take me less time to read.


The prose really isn’t something I normally would read, but I did get used to it after awhile.  Although, I really think it hindered rather than helped the story.

What I did love about the book was the way the relationships between the characters developed in the book.  And that did not include romantic relationships, but friendships as well.


Honestly, the romance in this book was really a supporting element rather than the main relationship which was the friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia.  That friendship was what drove the book, and it was refreshing to see a book that didn’t try to trivialize said relationship once the main character got involved in a romantic relationship.


To be honest, I shouldn’t have liked the romance as much as I did.  I think it’s because I have a thing for Beauty and the Beast romances.  I know that they are ridiculously unhealthy, but I just get wrapped up in the whole romance of it-I blame seeing Beauty and the Beast five million times in my childhood.  That AND it’s always good to read about.


Not good to live in real life since no one wants to be forced to like with a grumpy guy who may or may not be cursed.


Though, this wasn’t a Beauty and the Beast retelling-directly.  It more or less, mixed elements of Polish folklore into the story with heavy winks to Beauty and the Beast in the romance department.


I think what worked about this romance to me, is that Novik tried to give the relationship balance when it came to power.  That is something that you rarely see in these romances, and even though it wasn’t completely perfect.  It worked really well for the most part.


The actual plot of the novel for me, was a bit of a let down.  While The Wood added a new element to the fantasy, there wasn’t really anything that different that I haven’t seen outside of YA fantasy.It still had the same old, same tropes.


That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book though.  As I said before, the banter between the characters kept me engage.  Oddly, it was during the periods of introspection and act in the book that I didn’t like.  The main character just was really dumb a lot of time…and I honestly felt those parts dragged a bit.


Never good when your action scenes drag.


I do recommend Uprooted with reservations.  I don’t quite by the hype, except I’ll admit when the two leads interacted together they were hot.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/it-took-a-month-was-it-worth-it-uprooted-by-naomi-novik

If Veronica Mars, Scandal, and House of Cards Had an Attractive Baby

The Fixer - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I was kind of worried about this book because I have a hit or miss track record with Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s stuff.  Fortunately, this one worked for me.  Which I was extremely grateful about.



The pitch comparison is perfect, though I think someone should’ve mentioned House of Cards as well, since I did see shades of Raymond Tusk in a certain character-at least that’s who I pictured said character to look like.


The political scandal/mystery surrounding the book, worked surprisingly well.  I was a little worried about how Barnes was going to pull it off without it seeming cliche or eye roll worthy, but it didn’t feel that way to me.


The mystery when you got down to it, was pretty simple and I think that’s one of the things that helped the book work.  If it  would’ve been too complicated, it would’ve failed on its face.  Because it would’ve been too much, especially for a first book in a series.


Yep, series.


I think one of the big reasons this book worked for me, is right now I am really into political themed YA.  Blame, The Right Side of Wrong for that.  The Fixer takes a different look at an aspect of DC life and it does it just as well.


There was a lot of mystery though, still by the time I finished this book.  I needed-wanted-more back story with Ivy, and I guess that’s what book two is for but still.

Also, I really liked how Barnes portrayed Alzheimer’s.  The portrayal of that character was pretty spot on, my grandma suffered from the disease, and watching Tess’s grandad decline was a painful reminder of what my grandmother had endured.


Romance in this book was surprisingly light and I actually approved.  I liked how there were hints that something could develop amongst multiple characters in the story further down the road, BUT for now the book just took it’s time with the getting to know you stage and establishing relationships.


That is something I could really do more of with YA.


Also, there was a strong emphasis in this book on family.  And that is another thing I could do with more in YA.  And I wanted more development in this area as well.  Again, this is only the first book.  So hopefully, in more installments this factor will be developed as well.


I could nit pick on a few things about this book, but to be honest I’m not.  The few flaws that were in this one didn’t tarnish my reading experience.  I was able to get through this one in a weekend (and I was packing/cooking/cleaning/shopping/and simultaneously playing two Nancy Drew games throughout all of this).



Overall Rating: A solid A.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/07/29/its-like-house-of-cards-scandal-and-veronica-mars-had-a-very-attractive-baby-the-fixer-by-jennifer-lynn-barnes

Blogger Burnout (or Airing of the Grievances)

I’m sort of burnout on blogging, and it took an unintended hiatus to realize it.



As you’ve might’ve noticed I’ve been on sort of a hiatus this month (only one measly top ten post this month).  There’s several reasons why, I’m reading an extremely dense (good) book that I’m taking my time with and I’ve been dealing with some major housing drama-long story short I was told I had an indefinite lease and then my landlady gives me literally two hours notice that she’s showing the house (and since I’m at work I couldn’t put my private stuff up and it was quite obvious that someone had been touching my stuff when I got back).  So between packing things for when the inevitable happens, a quick visit to Texas for the fourth, and that thick book this hobby of mine took a backside.  And when I started getting ready to blog again, I was sort of sour about it.


It started out nice enough, I had an interesting topic I thought that would be a good tag, but no one said anything (surprise, surprise, this hasn’t ever been that popular of a blog).  But I think it was the cherry on the top of several annoyances I had in the blogging world lately.  That made me decide to write this post.


I have been blogging for technically four years now, though to be honest I really started blogging regularly for about three and a half years (there was a brief blogging hiatus when I went to study abroad and then when I got severally ill with Whopping Cough and a host of other diseases when I got back).  While the community is fairly inclusive, at times it feels so large that I do feel a bit excluded.  To be fair, I probably do no favors for myself since my time commenting on post and contributing on Twitter is limited because of first law school, then bar prep, the work, and now notary/bar prep and work again.  And so going pretty much silent for a couple of weeks, it really shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise that no one seemed to notice.


But it still oddly stung, I still haven’t figured out why.  But I don’t think it was that so much as it was sort of being sick with some of the aspects of the blogging world in general.  So I’m going to list what has been bothering me so much lately.  Note, none of my grievances are addressed towards any individuals.  Again, this isn’t personal in any of the slightest.  It’s just….ugh, read the list.


1)  There seems to be some unintended hierarchy in the community.


And I don’t think this is really anyone’s doing.  But publishers are tended to favor certain blogs-older, well established, popular blogs and now it seems  for new sites booktubing over traditional blogging (let’s not even get into that stupid drama).  And even some popular blogs, don’t get coveted ARC’s.  So the hierarchy is really, sort of weird in a sense.  Honestly, I really don’t know what makes some blogs are lot more popular than others since I’ve read some small blogs that are better than big blogs and some big blogs that just aren’t great (and vice versa of course).  I just feel like if you’re trying to turn a little blog into one of the All-Star big blogs it’s a huge feat and a  full time job. Added with the booktube factor it just makes things even weirder.


2) While the community is inclusive, it can be very difficult to find one’s niche.


There are a lot of book blog’s out there, and while I have found a few that I like to read, I want to find more.  But it’s sort of hard to find that niche that fits just you.  And even if you do, connecting with people is just hard.  I’m an introvert (specifically an I go between being a INTJ and an ISTJ), and I know a lot of other bloggers are, but I often feel like unless you’re an extrovert who loves networking you’re going to have a hard time getting involved.  It’s just sort of exhausting getting to know lots and lots of bloggers, or for that matter trusting a lot of them to be your friends.  Sure, I’ve met a few good people, but it’s hard getting that closeness and a lot of times I really do feel like that kid outside the window looking in.


3)The  drama llama bull shit.


I am so sick of author’s throwing tantrums for anything below a five star review.  I am so fucking done with being scared of putting my photo on this blog because I’m afraid that some crazy someone will get ahold of it and use it to stalk me or something.  And I am so done with crazy stalker author’s being able to keep their publishing contracts and having their god awful book named one of Time’s best YA books of the year because of connections.  And now I want to get drunk.


4) I am sick of getting ARC’s notices saying I’m not good enough for a book I want to read and then getting a bad case of envy when some is like so so about getting said ARC/hasn’t read previous books in the series


I hate being this person.  I’ve tried to remedy it by limiting my ARC requests, but still if you haven’t read the first book and got a copy and I am a gun ho fan and…slaps self.


5)  Lack of Variety/Controls Too Much of Your Life


I haaaaaaaattttttteeeeeee what blogging has done to my reading schedule.  While I don’t read a lot of ARC’s, I still have to read a lot of new books since thats the name of the game in blogging.  The thing is, I’d like to take time to revisit old visits and go to old musty bookstores.  But it’s just an unspoken rule that you can’t do that in the blogging world and I hate it.


Steps to Remedy My Own Blogging Depression:


I need to do something to change.  I’ve seen other blogger’s take steps and they seem happier so I am going to do the same.  Here are some of my resolutions.


1) This blog is going to get some variety.


Meaning if I want to review some older books I’m going to do it.  If I want to do a post about clothes, I’m going to do it.  Video games…you get the picture.  While this will still be a book blog, with an emphasis on books I am not going to force myself to make every entry book related (though it probably will to some degree since books play a prominent role in my life).  Per example of a non-book entry that you’ll probably be seeing soon.  Reviews of the Nancy Drew computer games.  Okay sort of book related, but not.


2) I am going to blog at my pace.


I know publishers like posting like every day, but screw them.  Okay, I get that publisher are doing their job and I understand why they want such high output, but since I often feel like a pariah whenever I get rejected from Netgalley or Edelweiss (better known as that Site that Hates Me), I am not going to try so much.  If I don’t feel like doing a post, I’m not going to post.


3) I am going to try to comment at least three to five times a week and find at least one new blog a month.


I am forcing myself to interact more.  It’s really the only way it’s going to happen.  While I’d like to get more comments over here, I do realize that I (myself) need to interact more regardless of what interaction (if any) I have over here.  And that just doesn’t mean commenting on GoodReads, Twitter, or Booklikes, it means actual interaction on the person’s blog.


4) I am seriously going to think about having guest posts or a coblogger.


Okay, long story short I asked my pen pal to be my coblogger, but due to a lot of different reasons that is not going to happen.  So, I am going to have to think outside of the box on this one.  I’m hoping with more interaction it can help me decide if I want a coblogger etc.  Right now, I’m thinking it might be an option since it would make the less posts a week from me thing less likely to piss off people.


Okay, rant post about blogging depression is done.  Hopefully, I didn’t make too many people mad.  And yeah, I sort of feel better.


So, does anyone else feel this way?  Any blogs you suggest for me to start reading?  Anyone else play Nancy Drew games?


Okay, I’ll shut up now.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/editorial-blogging-burnout-or-an-airing-of-grievances

The Nostalgia Book Tag

I have been reading YA for way too long, so I thought I’d try making my own tag called the Nostalgia Book Tag to sort of celebrate this.  If you want to do this, fine.  Just link to the original post or let me, etc.


Here’s what I’m doing for my tag.  I’m looking at books YA books pre 2010 for the list.  Honestly, I thought about looking at books that I read before I graduated from high school, but that was a little too far back if anyone wants to do this as a tag.  And if you do decide to do it, 2010 isn’t a set in stone date.  I’d just prefer that the books used in this tag are older.  Sometimes, I feel the blogging community focuses a little bit too much attention on new books and there’s not enough attention on old books.


My First YA Book: Your first YA book, or YA book that made you interested in the Genre

These were my sister’s but I stole them, and I am a huge Francy shipper (and if you ship Francy read Secrets of the Nile).  To be fair these are really corny and kind of (okay, really dated) but I love the adventure and international element to them.  And Francy.  I am thinking about maybe at some point digging these out from my parents’ house and having them shipped so that I can review them.  We’ll see.


What Got Me Into….: A Book That Got You Interested in the Some Aspect of the Genre

Forget The Twilight series, this was the series that really got me into YA paranormal and it’s still one of the best YA paranormal series out there.  I think because Suze is a strong person and doesn’t rely on a boy to get shit done.  Plus, she was like my fashion icon growing up.  I went through this hideous Betsey Johnson phase because of her-okay, I still wear Betsey purses and earrings, but a little Betsey goes a long way.


Seriously, Leo is so 1997: A Book that Feels Really Dated

Mimi Force better watch it, pretty soon she’s going to get a website a la Claudia Kishi about some of the stuff she wore.  Honestly, this book relies heavily on pop culture so it’s not a surprise it’s so dated.  What’s really hilarious though is the series went on till about a couple of years ago-there’s actually an New Adult continuation of it too (but we’ll act like it doesn’t exist) and it makes the old technology and celebrities seem even more dated.


Botox Book: A Book That Has Held Up to Date Well

The BOOK not the horrible movie.  Yeah, I really did not like that movie.  I can reread the shit out of this book anytime of the day any day fo the week.  It’s just that wonderful.


A Book Ahead of Its Time: Exactly That

Okay, so it is sort of hokey and you get that squeaky clean Clearly-ish vibe, but Fifteen is very much an early YA book with these characters dealing with boy trouble, snotty girls, and all sorts of things.  It was one of the first YA books that I read.  And even though it is corny, I still sort of like it.


Classic YA: A Future Classic

I actually had to watch the Hallmark movie in English class back in middle school, but I got so wrapped up in it I had to read the entire Tillerman cycle-well, any of the books that involved Dicey and Jeff.  I sort of skipped over that book that stars Dicey’s uncle.  I just don’t usually do prequels with dead characters.  That being said, I love the depth these books had.  And Cynthia Voigt has quite the list out there.  I highly recommend her stuff.  A lot of these issues that are discussed are ahead of its time, although the books are definitely dated now.  Still though, there’s a classic like feel to it.  There were lots of moments in Homecoming and in Dicey’s Song that were beautifully done and I can get why this would be viewed as an “educational” book.


A Book that Needs an Epilogue or Something: A book that you’d really like the author to revisit.


I know it had the crapilogue, but I wanted something better than that.  You know what I would like to happen in the Potter-verse, I’d like a man in a blue box to show up and pick the golden trio to be his new companions after the Battle of Hogwarts and the epilogue we got in the last book was just an alternate  universe version of them while the real Ron, Harry, and Hermione are having adventures in space with the Doctor.


A Popular Series: Something that was popular a few years back that you either got into or not got into.



Because everyone and their mother have read this series and it spawned some really bad paranormal YA, so of course it’s going to be on this list.


Vintage Author: An Author From Way Back then That Needs Recognition


Man, I loved Paula Danziger’s stuff.  I have my sister’s copy of this book which I think was bought in the 1990’s given the horrible fashion choices.  And while it’s sort of dorky (the cover), the book has lots of sexy moments in it and it’s in London.  So that makes it all the more interesting.  What I like though is that Danziger was really versatile as a writer.  As a kid I ate up all those Amber Brown books, and when I started raiding said sister’s shelf it was nice to see her stuff grew up with me.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-notalgia-book-tag