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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. 

Evil Oreo References

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

If you can’t eat Oreos you might want to avoid reading this book because they’re referenced so much that after you read it that’s all you’ll want to do eat Oreos and watch You’ve Got Mail (which reminds this book a lot.  Except this book is better because it features diversity in multi-facets.



Let’s talk about Simon.  While the story dealt with him coming out to his friends and families, it wasn’t a message book by any means.  That’s a huge thing for me in finding good diverse books.  I don’t want them to be message books because honestly, I don’t want to be taught some grand lesson.  I just want a book that explores someone’s life who’s not a WASP.   Although, occasionally I have read a couple of good message books.


The thing is Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is at it’s heart a fluffy contemporary.  And it’s so hard trying to find a light and fluffy book starring non-straight characters.  So, having something like this available in stores is huge.


And it’s so good.  Simon’s voice shines through throughout the entire book.  He’s hilarious.  Endearing.   And I like how while there is a romance, the focus of the story is on finding yourself and friendship.  In fact, the romance might’ve been the books weakest element even though it was pretty cute.  I really liked the set up on the romance and how you had to guess who Blue was.  As I said before if they were having one of those damn comparison blurbs they’d probably say that this book was like You’ve Got Mail. 


However, the actual interactions outside of the email relationship were a bit weird and while fairly realistic there was just something about it that felt a little off-I’m not going to go into much more for spoiler reasons.


As I said before, the strong points of the novel involved the relationship between Simon and his family and friends.  It all felt very realistic and put together, and I enjoyed the fact that the friends had relationship drama that did not involve Simon.

If you want to read something that’s a little different and fluffy, I recommend giving this one a read.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/evil-oreo-references-simon-vs-the-homo-sapiens-agenda

I Still Don't Get This Cover

The Stars Never Rise - Rachel Vincent

This book reminds me that I really need to finish the Soul Screamers series because Rachel Vincent is pretty much amazing.



Though oddly, I forget about her stuff.


I think that sort of adds to the charm though, because it gives her stuff a dark horse feel.

This book has all the elements of being a dark horse.  It’s A) a paranormal and b) a dystopia.  Both of these genres have been overplayed in YA, yet Vincent makes this book feel fresh and original.


I think that’s because in part she avoids some of the faux pas that are so painfully familiar in these genre.


I have to totally tell you though, I sort of groaned when I read the whole emphasis on the green eyes thing in the blurb.  Because one thing that drives me crazy in YA is focusing on how painfully wonderful someone with blue and green eyes are (for some reason they always ignore brown-the closest I’ve seen is tawny).  However, the eye color thing sort of made sense once Vincent reveals the twist with the love interest.


And I actually liked this love interest.  That’s weird for me to say, especially in YA paranormal or even dystopia lit. But I actually liked Finn (despite horrible name). While he did sort of come off strong, it sort of made sense given the character.  It’s really hard not going into why this works without going into spoilers, but it worked.


I also liked Nina as the protagonist.  She’s not perfect, and everyone points out that she’s dumb.  But I don’t think she’s actually that dumb.  She’s a survivor and you can really tell that she took the role of big sister seriously. And tried to the best of her knowledge to make sure Mellie had the best possible life.


The action in this book is just awesome.  I loved how the paranormal effects the dystopian environment.  Sure, I’ve read books before that contain elements of different genres, but often they feel clunky.  This one didn’t feel clunky.  I was actually intrigued with what was going on too, which will have me reading the next one.


The thing is though, there are some flaws to this book.  Like I said the relationship really didn’t work for me until the twist.  Then I was able to over look some things, but I wonder if I should’ve felt that way or not.


Overall Rating: An A- I will be reading the next one.  And I really want to finish the Soul Screamers series now.  So, I think this says something about this one.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/still-dont-get-the-cover-the-stars-never-rise-by-rachel-vincent

Love the Plot, Hate the MC

Daughter of Deep Silence - Carrie Ryan

This seems to be the week where I can’t come up with definitive feelings for a book.  And where I read books that take place on disaster curises  Like with my previous read, Daughter of Deep Silence suffered some major issues.  But at the same time it was enjoyable.  Luckily, for Daughter of Deep Silence the writing was solid enough for me to give it a decent grade, but I’m still going to discuss it’s faults.


The book is sort of a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo (and if you haven’t you should really check out the movie version because, fans self).  And if your not interested in either the book/movie version of that classic,  this book is sort of like that ABC show Revenge.


Let’s just say that as a retelling, I couldn’t really feel any sympathy for Francis or Libby or Fibby as I’ve grown accustomed to.  She is just a full blown psychopath.  I think it’s because unlike Dantes, it doesn’t appear that she has suffered that much and honestly while what happened to her was horrible I couldn’t feel her pain.


I think this might have been in part on the age group the book was targeting. I actually think this book might’ve been better as a YA novel turned to NA novel.  Rather, than have the kids find their one true love and be utterly betrayed at the ripe old age of middle school.



Nah, that doesn’t work.


Having the characters aged up to New Adult age would at least allow, for a little more flexibility and for the relationships to seems a little deeper.


Though, Fibby would’ve still been a psycho.


God, I don’t think I’ve read a first point of view that was so twisted.  At first I hated Fibby, but the further the book progressed I found her psycho-ness sort of intriguing than anything else.  Save for her relationship with Grey, but more about that later.


The character just does some insane, bat shit crazy things that you’ll just keep shaking your head at.  And I think Ryan did a good job at showing how emotionally unstable this character was. I never did emphasize with though, just saying.  Or even like here.

What I really didn’t like was that there was such an emphasis on romance.  To be honest, I didn’t care for Grey.  To be fair, I really didn’t care for Dantes’s girlfriend in the movie either, but at least that relationship seemed complex enough where you could appreciate it.  Here I was like, dude you can’t even recognize she’s Frances?  She didn’t even dye her hair like that chick did in Suspicion and you still can’t recognize your one true love?


Plot holes like this drove me crazy, which might be why I loved the character Shepherd.

He seemed to be the only character with any sort of common sense here, but in the end he was just sort of thrown to the side.


To be fair, logic in general was thrown outside.  I had no idea how Fibby was able to do what she did, because I would think driving in a car with a rotting corpse would not be such an easy task but what do I know?


In the end, this one was a page turner for me but very, very, flawed.  I enjoyed it though which is why I’m giving it a higher rating.  And to be fair, I do think Ryan tried with the character development, while I didn’t care for Fibby, it was refreshing to see such a twisted YA character for the narrator for once.


Overall Rating: A B-.  Read this one, but know it’s going to be flawed and there is really one decent character in the book.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/love-the-plot-hate-the-mc-daughter-of-deep-silence-by-carrie-ryan

Well, At Least Phin Phin Doesn't Turn You Into a Zombie

Sweet - Emmy Laybourne

This book is so bad.  But it’s like I can’t help but continue reading had.  It actually sort of reminds me of Sharknado.  If Sharknado was a book.


And that’s the thing, I don’t really know if bad B movie works for a YA book.  Half of the fun of those movies is actually seeing it, and having some of the physical gags allows poor characterizations to be ignored.


That being said, I think this book could’ve worked if some time was spent on characterization.


But it wasn’t.  Characterization was completely ignored in favor of cheap insta love.  Sure, we’re told how much these characters care for each other.  But other than finding out that Baby Tom Tom turned Tom Stud is the hottest thing since Efron and that Laurel is smoking with all her curves-while all the rest of the boat is skinny ugly people.




Just ugh.


Look, I did appreciate that Laurel was a character who was happy with her weight and wasn’t stick thin, but I also felt like this book didn’t really embrace every sort of body type.  There was a lot of skinny AND fat shaming here to the point where I wanted to gouge my eyes out with something.


Really, the only character who has a remotely good idea of what body image is Laurel.  Even Tom, hot stud he supposedly is, seems to focus on his weight (through being a gym junkie).  Yes, I get this book was about a weight loss cruise but it got a little jarring at time.


Though, the whole weight loss supplement turning everyone into pseudo zombies made the book sort of awesome.  Maybe it’s because this part of the story reminded me of something that is annoying me on Facebook right now.  Long story short, I have an obnoxious cousin who peddles a weight loss supplement on Facebook to the point where she makes false medical claims-I should note that my cousin does not have a MD let alone works in the medical community.  The whole thing with the Solu sort of reminded me of that, except that Solu actually worked with it’s weight loss thing and then caused you to go crazy.


I can only hope that the pink drink my cousin constantly peddles does not do this.

It was still hilarious, though, watching this all pan out.

Hilarious, scary, and way over the top.  This book honestly, turned into something else after it’s first half.


And I have to say, it’s over the top-ness was what made it because as I said lame under developed characters with an even lamer romance.

Which is a shame because ship-mance is suppose to be the best romance.

Just see Titanic if you don’t believe me.


Oh, wait, everybody died…


Never mind.


And everyone save for a few people almost died in this book too, so I guess it really couldn’t help itself that it wasn’t romance.


If there was one word I’d used to describe Sweet it would be shallow.  I’ll admit I sort of enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t a good book.  If I do read the sequel (yes, I said sequel this book is somehow getting one) I probably will be library-ing it.  I really didn’t care for Laurel or Tom, but man the whole evil skinny zombies taking over on a cruise headed towards doom.  It was a fun read (maybe).



Overall Rating: A C+ because as flawed as it was, I got a disaster cruise themed book and that was what I was looking for.  And oh yeah, I might give this book to my cousin as a Christmas gift this year.  Maybe she’ll stop polluting my feed with her great medical knowledge (snorts).



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/sweet-by-emmy-laybourne

And I Now Have That Song Stuck In My Head

Jesse's Girl - Miranda Kenneally

Full Disclosure: I received a DRC of this via Netgalley to review.  It did not change or influence my opinion on the work.  


This is a perfect summer time read.  It’s light, frothy, and doesn’t have that much substance to it.  But at the same time, as far as contemporaries are concerned it’s not blah by any means.  It has interesting characters and it was a nice little escape novel.  Does that mean Jesse’s Girl is the best book ever.  No.  But I was glad I read it.


And yeah, I’m sort of bias because these sort of books are my thing (I totally got contemporary on thisquiz BTW), but I think for the most part this one was  well done.

This was my first Hundred Oaks book.  I plan on seeing what other ones my library has because I found it really enjoyable.  While there were cliche contemporary tropes in this book, the characters were strong enough where I was able to enjoy it.


The celebrity themed contemporary YA book is really a fine line to do right.  Most of the time it fails because they are just too tropey, but here it works to maybe the very last fifth of the book.


To not go into spoiler territory, that part was just  a little bit too unbelievable to me.



The rest of it, didd surprisingly feel believable.  Which is surprising because a lot of times these books do NOT feel believable.


But there was something about the two characters that really worked.


I liked the main character Maya.  Usually in these books you get a cookie cutter main character-aka the typical YA character who is a quasi Mary Sue-however, Maya isn’t said quasi Sue.  She’s had relationships before.  She’s not perfect.


And the book is not totally about her relationship with Jesse. Well, a lot of it was.  But a lot of it was the development of Maya as a character.  I like how she  really grew into herself, and most of herself was independent of Jesse.


I really liked the interactions between the characters too.  The relationship begins with sort of a homage to Farris Bueller’s Day Off.  In fact, Kenneally even makes a reference to the movie during that part of the book which I found really cool.  What I liked was what happened after that day.


You get to see how the relationship progressed after one day.


While the ending got a little too cheesy for me, it was a nice summery read that was enjoyable.


Overall Rating: A solid B.  I actually preordered a copy after this because I think it would be nice to reread.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/i-now-have-that-song-stuck-in-my-head-jesses-girl-by-miranda-kenneally

JLU Membership Would Obviously be Denied

Powerless - Tracy Deebs, Tera Lynn Childs

I love the idea of a superhero YA book, except with the exception of a few of them, they usually don’t work.  Unfortunately, Powerless falls in this trend.


I really don’t know why it’s that difficult to pull off a superhero type book.  Because there’s so many directions you can go.  From over the top campy, to dark and gritty, you can essentially do anything with superheroes.  Unfortunately, Powerless did nothing with its world.  Really, nothing.  Oh, maybe something happened in the second half of the book-I DNF’d it-but I seriously doubted it.  This book was just so dull of so many levels.



Which was really sad.


I would’ve thought the world building would’ve been stronger.  I really did.  While Tera Lynn Child’s Forgive My Fins series wasn’t perfect, there was actually some world building there.  Same thing goes with Tracy Deebs, Tempest Risingwasn’t bad world building wise.


Oh, wait there was Doomed But even with that catastrophe, I would think the two could pull it together to create a sensical world, but there wasn’t really anything all to this world to this world other than heroes, villains, and let’s try to do Sky High  but not do Sky High because that wouldn’t be cool.


Okay, I think you get a general idea of what a hot mess the world was.  But what about the characters…


Well, I know nothing about them other than the fact that Kenna is an idiot.  Oh, wait…I do know something about them because if you take the jacket off of the book you get  this….




Yes, your very own character chart (sorry that my phone couldn’t display the entire picture.  But if you’re going to know anything about these characters you better look at this chart.  You also might get a little confused if you don’t look at either because these characters have names like Khardashians (they all start with the same damn letter based on family, to the point of stupidity.  I mean really, Draven.  I have no words).


Other than that though, the characters are pretty much archetypes and nothing else.  There’s the main character Kenna who is just dim beyond belief.  Who’s main deal is that she is powerless in a world full of super heroes-um, so was Batman but he still kicked Superman’s butt in like every episode of the JLU  ever made just saying.    Then there’s Draven who I think is suppose to be the love interest because were given a paragraph about his stupid blue eyes and about how Keena is not suppose to be attracted to him.  And there’s there’s Jeremy who is suppose to be Kenna’s ex who is basically like the Jeff Goldblum in the book (aka strangely attractive ridiculously tall nerd).   Then there’s the punky best friend and a lot of other characters I could care less for.


The best thing I can say about this one is that shit did happen.  It was sort of chaotic at best, but things still happened.  So there was that…


And yet, somehow throughout the chaos I was able to pretty much predict everything that was going to happen.  The plot was like that AU episode of The Justice League with the Justice Lords (if you haven’t you should watch that episodes it’s better than this book) mixed with Sky High. It just didn’t work.


I didn’t even care enough about Kenna to learn the truth about her pseudo Bruce Wayne background because girl was so useless she’s obviously no Batman.  She’s not even Ironman when he’s drunk and telling everyone he can use the bathroom in his suit.  She’s that useless with useless Bella Swan non-superpowers.


Overall, Powerless was a huge disappointment for me.  It had an interesting enough premises, but it was poorly executed.  To have a properly done superhero book you need a well formed world.  It can be extremely cheesy or extremely gritty, but there needs to be some sort of world that our characters are fighting for and there wasn’t here.  The characters need to be more fleshed out than a brief description on the back of a book jacket too.  And above all, there names don’t need to be Khardashian inspired.


Overall Rating: A DNF more on the failing side of this, since I had more problems with the books construction than it being a subjective DNF. But hey, at least the internet didn’t go out and everyone was acting like the world was ending like in Doomed.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/jlu-membership-denied-powerless-by-tera-lynn-childs-and-tracy-deebs

Depression Isn't A Laughing Matter, But This Book Will Make You Laugh Anyway

Finding Audrey - Sophie Kinsella

I love Sophie Kinsella’s books save for the Shopaholic series which I did love till post third book where Becky seemed to go on this endless merry-go-round of being an idiot.  But her other books are thoroughly enjoyable chick lit.  So, I was happy to see that she was writing a YA novel because  you know Sophie’s stuff is sort of my jam.



Finding Audrey is a bit different than Kinsella’s other books.  It deals with a more serious subject matter-mental illness-and focuses less on romance and more on family.

Although, there is a romance in Finding Audrey that is very cute.


I’ll have to say I liked the focus on family.  It reminded me of the earlier Meg Cabot novels.  One of the things that I loved about those books and this book is that there was a lot of focus on developing the main character’s family and they didn’t suffer from Charlie Swan syndrome.


Although, Audrey’s mom was a bit too much at times (The Daily Mail obsession was a little too OTT ) I did enjoy the fact that she and the rest of Audrey’s family were heavily featured throughout the story.  It was nice seeing a family in YA deal with issues and actually liked and interacted with each other.


In addition to the family interactions, the romance in Finding Audrey was really cute.  Which really isn’t a surprise, because I enjoy all the romances in Kinsella novels.  However, YA romance differs from adult romance and she was really able to capture those first.  You know the first touch.  The first kiss etc.  Added the fact that Audrey was suffering from mental illness it added an extra dimension to it.


The mental illness for the most part was handled well, BUT I thought it might’ve been rushed a bit.  Audrey seemed to get over her depression/anxiety/agoraphobia  rather quickly.  That’s not how it works.  I just felt like she had way too many good days and not that many set backs.  I understand it was probably paced that way, so the storyline could progress more but it just seemed to be a little too neat to be realistic.


I did enjoy the fact that Audrey’s psychiatrist played a significant role in the story though.  That was one thing I didn’t like about Made You Up, another YA book dealing with mental illness (that you should read).


The other issue I had with this book was the whole bully side plot (or at least that’s what I think it was suppose to be).  It was only very loosely developed and while I get that the narrator (Audrey) didn’t want to go there I thought a little more exploration of that part of the plot might’ve made for a more interesting book.


I really did enjoyed this one.  While not perfect, it had a lot to offer.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/depression-isnt-a-laughing-matter-except-in-this-book-finding-audrey-by-sophie-kinsella

Next Harry Potter, Bull Shit

An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

If a publicist says that an upcoming book is the next Harry Potter, Hunger Games, or any series that’s remotely interesting; just run.  Run, as fast as you can away from the book.



I’ve finally come to that conclusion because there have been way too many books promoted this way and all of them almost inevitably don’t like up to the hype.


An Ember in the Ashes is one of them.


To be fair, the writing is really solid.  You know, with a lot of the books I’ve had issues with lately the prose hasn’t been bothering me.  That’s sort of strange because usually bad prose is a clear indicator that I won’t like a book.  But that wasn’t the case with An Ember in the Ashes.  It was very readable.  The two narrations were set apart enough, and there was a nice distinction between them.  But other than that…




This book is nothing special.  The plot it’s what I’ve seen several times before with dystopia and fantasy novels.  High stakes competition, rebels trying to change society….snooze.


Then there’s the characters.  While they were distinct enough to have a distinguish voice, I didn’t care for either of them.


Laia has an extreme case of TSTL.  I hated how she was blindly loyal to her brother who for the five or six pages we saw of him is a selfish jerk.  I thought she was stupid for entrusting her life, her freedom, with an organization that was obviously dubious.  I hated how weak the character was.  Never questioning things and never thinking about maybe just letting said brother deal with his shit himself.


And yes, I get that Idiot Brother’s life was on the line, but come on.


Then there is Elias.


I would like to say he is better than dumb ass Laia, but he’s not.  Sure, the trials are interesting and gory enough.  And I think that’s why a lot of people are going to go for this book.  It’s pitched as being a YA Gladiator type of thing.  And I get how that would be really cool. And if you just focus on that part Elias is a bad ass.  But if you look at the other parts of the book he is a dumb ass who has a major case of insta love and is an insta dick since he can’t make up his mind if he wants to be with his best friend who he actually has genuine palatable chemistry with or if he wants to be with Slave Girl (Laia) because she’s just too beautiful for her slave clothes that she has to wear a cloak to hide that awesome bod.




It gets worse throughout the book rape and the threat of rape is used constantly as a plot device.   In fact, there is one such scene where one of the characters does in fact experience sexual violence.  While I understand that the sort of world that Tahir is trying to depict is one full of savagery and brutality, I didn’t feel like these scenes fitted any real purpose other than shock or awe.  The character that deals with this sort of treatment really suffers no emotional fall out from the ordeal.  And I still can’t come up with a rationale explanation why those scenes were needed.  Other than hey, drama.


Um, no.


A lot of people really liked this one, but I didn’t.  I don’t think it deserved the hype it got.  While the writing might’ve been wonderful, the lackluster character added by a half baked rape plot did not work for me.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/next-harry-potter-my-ass-an-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahir

Reality Bites

Made You Up - Francesca Zappia

I have a lot of nice things to say about this book.  For one thing, I felt like it dealt with mental illness on a level that isn’t often done in YA.


There’s often a talk about diversity in YA, but I often think that focus on diversity on race, culture,  and sexual orientation and has neglect other types of diversity-i.e. characters that suffer from mental or physical adversity.  Sure, there are a few books that do look at different obstacles that a character might suffer, but as a whole there aren’t a lot books focusing on physical of mental impairments which is a shame because a lot of people do suffer from various impairments.


Paranoid schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is horrifying and fascinating.   To not have a grip on reality is a terrifying and often some of the things that people who suffer from the disease perceive can be puzzling  if not horrifying.


People often have a distorted view of what suffers of schizophrenia are like, and I liked how relatable Alex was in this book.  She could’ve been anyone’s sister.  Anyone’s friend.  She didn’t spend the entire book discussing her disease, but it was a part of her life.  Zappia made the reader see how the delusions that Alex occasionally sees and hears affects her life.



That was the best part of the novel.


Sometimes I did feel like the disease might’ve been going into cliche territory, but then Zappia would do a twist that would surprise me.  I think one thing that I wanted to see, but we didn’t see in this book was Alex’s relationship with her shrink.


Like them or not, a person suffering from a psychiatric disorder is going to have some sort of relationship with their mental health professional.  While I didn’t expect Zappia to write every session between Alex and Leeann, I wanted some clue into what was going on in those therapy sessions.


I thought like I was missing time because those sections weren’t put in the book.

To be honest, while the first third to first half of the book was compellingly readable, the book’s pacing got odd as the book progressed. At times I almost felt like there was no clear direction that the story was trying to go towards.  Was it trying to be like Veronica Mars or something?  That mystery with the scoreboard and the principal really didn’t work for me.


And then there was the love story in the book.  At it’s core, it was the strongest thing about the book.  I loved how this relationship isn’t instant and there are so many layers to both Alex and Miles in the book.  Both characters have their own quirks and demons to deal with and both of them are devastating characters.


Although it had flaws, I really did enjoy Made You Up, I liked that it looked at how a character lived with mental illness.  Although, some of the pacing was messed up.  I will am definitely recommending this one.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/reality-bites-made-you-up-by-francesca-zappia


Hello, I Love You: A Novel - Katie M. Stout

Oh, this book.  So much hope and….


Yeah, didn’t work.


To be honest, the review pre-release  of Hello, I Love You hadn’t been great, BUT I decided to give it an honest try anyway since my knowledge on Korea is very low.

The result.  It wasn’t as bad (to me at least) as the reviews were making it out to be, but it wasn’t great.




The writing itself is engaging enough.  I breezed through this thing maybe in three hours if I didn’t have mandatory real life breaks.  And I did like the love interest and the supporting characters that were developed in this book.


What I didn’t like was the main character.


She was insufferable.  And while an insufferable character can work if she’s developed into someone relatable throughout the book, Grace wasn’t.


She is obnoxious.  She stereotypes and generalizes everything about South Korea.  And doesn’t learn from anything.  In fact, the only person worse than her on being an obnoxious tourist is that chick whose main focus in Europe was getting a Big Mac.  Okay, maybe in the last fifth of the book when Grace states she was a horrible person but five pages later her bad behavior pops up again.  Even the fact that her mother is a worse person than her and emotionally abuses her doesn’t make me warm up to this close minded character.


And that’s why the romance really didn’t work for me, because I didn’t know why a guy as nice as Jason would be attracted to such a shrew.


Grace aside, I was really underwhelmed by this book.  Aside from a couple of mentions of Korean food and a brief mention of what K-Pop and K-Dramas are there was no exploration here.  I really think the one other Korea book-Gilded-did a better job describing the country than this one and that’s saying something.


A part of this might’ve been because in its original draft, the book was set in China.  So maybe Stout found it hard to incorporate Korea into the book because she originally used Chinese landmarks or experiences that just didn’t fit. Because most of the Korea we saw was at the school or in the mall.  But at the same time, and this is the huge but, I felt a lot of things about the book were treated like the usage of the setting-it was underdeveloped.


The story itself could’ve been worked further.  I feel like if there would’ve been more exploration with the Grace character maybe I could’ve liked her.  Maybe if she actually had to change and work on herself before being with Jason I would’ve felt the relationship more.  I also feel like if the side characters could’ve been developed besides hot Asian boy banders there could’ve been more of that magical feel you felt when you read Anna and the French Kiss.


And I felt like this book tried way too hard to be Anna and the French Kiss.



Book, don’t try to be something you aren’t. It will be less painful.




There were several scenes in this book that made me give the book the old side eye with it trying so blatantly but failing at being Anna and the French Kiss.  Here are a few examples:

  • *Girl goes to boarding school (to be fair this one was given in the blurb, so was the Anna and the French Kiss comparison come to think of it).
  • *Girl’s roommate is close to an unattainable cocky hot guy that’s sort of a jerk.
  • *Unattainable hot guy and girl grow close.
  • *Both have horrible family situations.
  • *They spend Thanksgiving together in a romantic type way.
  • *They get into a convoluted fight and reiterate it’s not going to happen
  • *Of course it happens that they get together at the end.


Of course there’s more to it than that, but at least with Anna you felt the characters, felt them go through the motions.  With Hello, I Love You you didn’t get the characters at the level you got them in the former book.  While I did get some idea of who Grace and Jason were at the best it was only done on a shallow level.


The same goes with the musical aspect as well.  We keep hearing how great and talented Grace is with music, but I didn’t see any examples of her mad skills other than the fact that she has pretty elitist taste when it comes to music.  I don’t even know if she can read music, so I don’t consider her a prodigy.


The big dramatic reveal of the plot, sort of seemed out of place since there was really no build up.  To be honest, a lot of the stuff in this book felt out of place.  Because no build up.  Which is a shame because there were a lot of things about this one that could’ve made for an interesting and fun read.


I hope Katie M Stout’s books will improve.  I really liked the concept of this one, and to be fair if you ignored Grace’s bigotry and bitchiness there were a few glimmers of hope here and there.  But overall, this book just didn’t work.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/ok-not-hello-i-love-you-by-katie-m-stout

Definition of Sophomore Slump

Crimson Bound - Rosamund Hodge

I loved Rosamund Hodge’s debut, Cruel Beauty.  It was a Beauty and the Beast retelling with enough twists to make it interesting.  And I loved the subsequent novella that was released last spring as well.  And I looked forward to Crimson Bound because that blurb.  Wow, just wow.


It didn’t work for me though.  In fact, I DNF’d it about 250 pages in because I just didn’t feel the book and I was only having a vague idea how things were working.  And life is too short for books you’re not loving, especially if they are fairly long (like this one was).



I think some people might enjoy it better than me, and to be fair there were a lot of things going for this book.  But it was just a little too weird for me.


One thing that was jarring to me was the use of third person.  I think this is because the first person point of view worked so well in the previous book, and here while  Hodge used another bitter main character I couldn’t care for her because there was just too big of a disconnect.


There was a disconnect with a lot of these characters in  this book.  First and foremost I just did not like Rachelle.  I get that she was suppose to be cold hearted, but honestly she was bland beyond belief.


Then there was Armand and that other guy, I didn’t feel any emotion from her with either of them.  There were a few cute moments, but they came out of nowhere and weren’t really well planned, I think this was in part due to the ridiculously bad pacing in this book.


Yes, pacing was an issue in Cruel Beauty too, but it was worse here.  To the point it made the story clunky to the point of unreadable.


To it’s credit, the book had some things going for it.  Like with Cruel Beauty there was some fascinating world building inCrimson Bound.  I really didn’t understand a lot of it, but I liked some of the ideas that I did get from it.  And the book was different from anything else I’ve read.


It was very cinematic in the writing, you really did get a sense of the exterior world, even if you had no idea what was going on.


Overall, I think Crimson Bound might work for someone who has a little more patience.  I will continue on reading Hodge’s other work, but this was a huge disappointment to me.


Overall Rating: A C.  I DNF’d it, but I can’t fail it because there were a lot of elements I liked.  It was just too confusing for me to continue.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/sophomore-slump-crimson-bound-by-rosamund-hodge

This Book is Awesome

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Sarah J. Maas

Probably one of my favorites so far this year.




Well, that’s a way to start a review.


But this book…


I will be fangilring a lot in this review and that’s not like me, but this book was just so wonderful.  Yes, it had some faults.  But I think the faults worked with the book and it really was so magical, wonderful, sensual, and ridiculously sexy and…




I’m in love.


Which surprised me since I wasn’t a huge fan of Throne of Glass.  I never got the hype of that series (I’ve only read one book), but it really is wonderful.


I know, that I said that Cruel Beauty is probably my favorite YA retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but this book beats it.  And it involves fae and I’m normally not a fae person.  But the way that Mass immerses the reader slowly into the fae world, it really works.

To where I dare say it, I sort of want to give fae in general another chance.


I’ll probably be taking things slow.


But I will definitely be reading this book’s sequel.


Yes, sequel.


It has a sequel.


Or will.  And I oddly want one, even though you’d think that a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be squeezed into one book.


And well, yeah, the fairytale aspect sort of was done in this installment but there’s so much more to explore.


I think one of my favorite things about this book was its characters.  I loved almost all of the characters in this book.  The leads were developed.  Even though Feyre got on my nerves at times, Mass at least addressed the fact that she was annoying.


And the men in this book.


Fans self.


I want them all.


Give them to me.


Tamlin was the perfect dark mysterious lord of the manor-or high lord if you want to get techical.  The character sort of has that whole Darcy growing effect on you.



And then there’s Lucien who is just downright delicious, especially since he’s firmly in non-romantic zone.  And I really liked that in the book.


And then there’s Rhys.


I am surprised with how much I like Rhys in the dark and creepy type of way.  He’s a character I really can’t wait to see what Mass does in future installments.


The villainess in this installment was positively bat shit insane evil and I loved her because she was just so evil.  Really, the last third of the book is such a departure from the first two thirds.  While the first two thirds of the novel works on relationship building and character building, things totally pick up towards the end.  The book went from feeling seductive and sensual, to being over the top filled with intense action.


It has a little bit of everything in it.


As I said before, if I had to pick on anything if would be Feyre’s sometime stupidity.  I like the fact it’s addressed though, rather than pushed under the rug.  And she’s not stating to be the world’s greatest assassin  so there’s a plus for her there.

The action, again is somewhat similar to Throne of Glass too, but there’s enough differences there where Crown of Thorns and Roses is truly its own.


Overall Rating: An A. Very, very, enjoyable.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/05/this-book-is-awesome-a-court-of-thorns-and-roses-sarah-j-mass

It's All So Magical

Royal Wedding: Princess Diaries, Volume XI - Meg Cabot

For anyone who wants to a do a sequel starring their YA characters in the adult world, you need to read this book.  Meg Cabot does what other authors have failed to do.  She ages her characters up, but they are still themselves and its refreshing rather than painful again if you read the books growing up you NEED to read this book.



Royal Wedding is not a perfect book, but to fans it is as close as perfect as you get.  Well, for this fan anyway.  Aside from a few nitpicks that I had about the handing some legal things (since I am an attorney and get cranky about those sorts of things) I loved this book.


Though, I do approve of Lilly becoming an attorney.  It’s a good career for her.  She’s nasty enough, though it actually seems that law school might’ve been good for the soul for her (she’s probably the only person in the world that I can say this to, since law school AND studying for the bar usually turns someone into a horrible person).  And if I was Lilly I probably wouldn’t have been so nice to Mia about her wedding date, you just don’t do anything other than study the week before the bar.  Really, once you begin BARBRI you don’t want to be around people and practically grow mad skills over night at giving people the stink eye.


Okay, little law school/lawyer rant done now to the more important things (discussing the book).


It was sooo wonderful.


I really enjoyed seeing the gang at this point in their lives and would love to see more.  A part of me would like to see some of Mia’s friends get their own stories published like maybe Tina and Lilly.  I would love to see more of Lilly especially with her possible new relationship, and that sounds really weird given how I felt about her in previous installments.


Michael is even more awesome than I remembered.  He grows better in age like fine wine.  Seeing him and Mia as adults was refreshing.  There’s no talk about her precious gift (thank God) anymore and instead they are being quite cute and sexy together.  I really wish they would’ve had “Tall Drink of Water” as their first dance though.  I liked their playlist.  But man, that song defined their relationship in the YA series.  Oh, and “Princess of My Heart”.


Michael…… Smells his fictional neck.


The scenes in the island were done quite well.  Note, Stephenie Meyer this is how island romance is suppose to be.  Not some deranged vampire that beats his virgin bride here, Michael and Mia’s relationship is healthy and their island getaway is romantic.


And just so magical.


I’ll probably keep saying that phrase throughout this review.


The rest of the plot was good too.  Mia’s family is just as wacky as I remembered.  While less attention is paid to her Mom and Rocky than in previous installments (RIP Mr. G), her paternal relatives are in center stage.


I sort of had some issues with Mia’s dad in this one.  Mainly because he seemed so OOC in this installment in comparison to the earliest installments.  Seriously, it felt like Phillipe was having a bit of a mental meltdown and it did make some sort of sense as the book progressed.  But I almost felt as if his recovery might’ve been a bit more sudden.


Just my two cents.


Olivia was adorable.  Reading her story in conjunction with Royal Wedding really gives another dimension to this book since we’re looking outside Mia’s head for once.

While Royal Wedding for the most part was predictable, there were some parts that weren’t that predictable coming in-though there were some rather anvil sized hints but I still was a bit surprised that Meg went there.


Would I feel the same elation about Royal Wedding had I not read the original series, I really don’t know.  However, as a long time fan of this series it really did work for me.


Overall Rating: A solid A.


Wait…the binge reading of Meg Cabot books isn’t done yet.  Starting this fall I’m going to be rereading The Mediator series in preparation for it’s February 2016 release.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/03/the-unofficial-princess-diaries-binge-read-royal-wedding-by-meg-cabot-or-michael-still-has-it-fifteen-years-later

She's Doomed

I Am Her Revenge - Meredith Moore

There’s only one reason I’m writing this.


Because she ruined my REVENGE!!!


All those years stuck in a smelly wedding dress and for WHAT….


My Estella actually did something, but this chick….well, she gives all the Estella’s a bad name.


I need someone to box that Pip boy’s ears again I swear.


Oh yes, where am I.  This retelling of the book that my story was based off of, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (who totally got things wrong by the way), got things even more wrong than Dickens did.


Is such a thing possible?


Well, it is.  While Dickens at least made us seem realistic and had Estella be the tart that she truly is, NOT so much with Ms. Moore’s novel.


Instead, she’s more concerned with how my daughter dresses.


Guess what Ms. Moore…no one cares how anyone is dressed except for MY wedding dress.  I’ve read said dress over forty years.  Still it smells and is all yellow and disgusting, but it was THE dress of the century.  And it’s enough to scar young readers as well.  Or at least be extremely careful when picking out their dress at David’s Bridal,because who knows how long you’ll be wearing said dress.


And they especially don’t want to dress like a trollop whose fashion icon is Enoby from My Immortal. Don’t believe me.  Let’s compare their outfits:


I am Her Revenge:

I wear the uniform I was required to buy, but I know it looks nothing like anyone else’s.  I shortened the red and black plaid skirt and ripped the hem, making it jagged and frayed.  I paired it with black tights and sparkly gold ballet flats, to soften teh edginess  of the skirt.  My white skirtsleeves are rolled up to my elbows to show off arms cluttered with bangles: gold and red and black.  I’ve bared my throat, having unbuttoned my shirt until you can see just a hint of cleavage, though there’s not much to show.   The pale skin of my neck and the vulnerable cut of my collarbones will be the focal points.  I painted on a thin dash of black eyeliner making my deep blue eyes pop.  I skipped the blush and added dark red lipstick to contrast with my pale skin.

(Moore 3)

My Immortal:

Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN:if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!).   I”m not related to Gerald Way but wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie.  I’m a vampier but my teeth are straight and white.  I have pale white skin.  I’m also a witch, and I go to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m a seventh year (I’m seventeen).  I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly black. I love HOt Topic and I buy all my clothes there.  For example today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it and black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots. I was wearing black lipstick, black eyeliner, and red eye shadow.  I was walking outside Hogwarts.  It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was ver happy about.

Source: My Immortal Fanfiction.net

Hmm,  both are dressed eerily similar (and horrible).


Now, let’s talk about what made Estella such the perfect revenge in the Dickens book:


1) She was Soulless and Calculating


Vivian is not like my Estella.  All she cares about is her lipstick.  If it doesn’t involve lipstick, her planning is zip to none.


Rather, than listening to her mother she seems to have paid more attention to Tina Fey movies that were made in the mid 2000’s since she keeps talking about queen bees. I actually had to watch said movie to know what she was talking about, such frivolous things.


What is a queen bee I ask?  In my day we never used such a foolish term.


2) She Didn’t Give a Rat’s Ass About Pip:


Sorry, for my language.  That’s the editor of the post.  She thinks that my language was too mild and indirect, but regardless it gets the point across.  Estella felt very little for Pip.  I trained her to soulless. In this rendition of the story, Vivian wants to make out with Pip with very little thought.


And she’s suppose to be getting my revenge.


If she was in the Victorian era I’d order someone to flog her.


3)  Estella knew how to make a decent cup of tea.  I doubt that Vivian even knows that the Queen’s drink is tea.


This book takes place in my beloved Britain, Yorkshire to be frank-a little droll, but still a part of the queen’s land.  But other than an occasional mention of tosser or bloody, there is absolutely no indication that these characters are in England.  They act completely uncivilized like those bloody colonists.


See I used bloody that automatically makes me British.


That and I am from England, unlike the editor/blogger who is completely butchering my speech.


4) Estella Was a Mysterious Character Who Wasn’t Forthcoming in Her Emotions


We all know what Vivian was a sad YA  character who’s motives get skewed because of a boy.  That never happened with Estella especially in the original ending BEFORE it was rewritten to suite the masses (i’m not a member of the masses).


Unfortunately, I could not keep up with such drivel after awhile.  Such reading becomes drivel after awhile.  And one must do something else when they’ve been wearing a wedding gown and haunting a ruin since their house burned down all those years ago.  I’m really hoping eventually I’ll get bumped up to being one of those Christmas ghosts.  More exposure, but alas all those roles are book solid (thanks Dickens, not).


Overall Rating: DNF emphasis on the F.  I was SHOCKED to see that this book got published, let alone the fact that the author has a degree from Harvard.  This book was just horrible.


My reaction to this book in a gif.


Disclamer: Obviously, I do not own Ms. Havisham that would belong to Charles Dickens (well, technically the public domain now since he’s been dead for a very, very, long time).  I merely used her to illustrate my hatred for this book.  Too bad for her, I’m not a huge fan of hers.  I probably can’t write her correctly either since I’m not from the 19th century and try to steer clear of Dickens except at Christmas when I’m forced to see Tiny Tim survive Christmas five billion times each year. Which is why I prefer the Blackadder version of the Christmas story where Ebenezer Blackadder tells him to stuff it.


The One Auto Correct Keeps Trying to Change to Magnolia

Magonia - Maria Dahvana Headley

I had mixed feelings about reading this one, but when Kara from Great Imaginations read it and loved it, I thought I needed to give it a try.  Her tastes usually align to be pretty similar to me, and I was already intrigued….


So yeah.


I read it.







This one really surprised me.  It wasn’t something that I normally would’ve read, but oddly it worked for me.  The sick lit part was handled quite well.  And I don’t get sick lit.  It usually seems really gimmicky to me.  But it wasn’t that gimmicky here.


Yes, the disease was Aza’s life and in a way it’s about her dying, but it wasn’t a stereotypical.  OMG she’s dying book.  Well, for the most part.  I mean, Aza kept living even though technically she was dying.  I feel like a lot of times with sick lit books the book becomes overwhelmed with the disease.  Not so much here.  The Sick Lit part really focused on relationship and they weren’t cringe worthy like Nicholas Sparks books or John Green books*


Once the fantasy comes to play (yes, I said fantasy because this book is half sick lit half fantasy) things get insane.


And even as I’m writing this, I’m not sure how I feel about it.


The world building is completely unique AND bizarre.  I would almost say there’s a magical realism vibe about it (especially with those bird scenes at the end of part one), BUT it’s not magical realism.  It’s more or less if Ancient Aliens meet Thunder Cats but instead of  being cat anamorphic people theThunder Cats were bird people.  Oh, and add some pirates and cloud whales while you’re at it.


Yeah, that insane.


And hard to comprehend, but it sort of works.


Sort of.


It’s like a really good first attempt at an insanely hard dessert to make and there’s just one little thing or two that are off with said dessert.


And I just don’t know if I’m going to give the book praise for trying or scorn for messing up.


I’m being generous and giving praise though, because what Headley was trying to do was extremely difficult to do.


While parts of the world building were half baked, the book was grounded in it’s dual narration.  By having a world not collected to the crazy bird alien world, the book still was grounded in reality.


I also really liked how different the two narrators were.  Jason truly has his own voice as well as Azra.


I do think Magonia was good with faults.  If you want a genre bending story, or a story that’s something original give it a try.


Overall Rating: A solid B+..


*This is taken from word of mouth.  I refuse to read Green’s books based on the fact he has a foot eating habit.  You’d think he’d learn by now that putting your foot in your mouth makes for some nasty digestion but whatevs.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/the-one-my-spell-check-keeps-changing-to-magnolia-magonia-by-maria-dahvana-headley

One Trick Pony

Nowhere But Here - Katie McGarry

If you are a fan of Katie McGarry’s past books and don’t want anything new or innovative then this is the book for you.


Although, if you’ve read the Pushing the Limits series and a got a little annoyed at how pedantic the series came to be and was like maybe a new series will allow McGarry to get her groove on.


Well, to slightly alter a quote from this book.  A quote that is actually used in the blurb (because that’s how good it’s supposedly suppose to be) and if you’re more interested page seventy-three: You Run, Reader.  You Run And Keep Running…”


Yeah, reading this book definitely was.


Oh, man did this book annoy me.  For various reasons both personal and not personal.  Which is why I’m going to divide said review by these items.  It makes it as objective as possible and, well, if you don’t get pissed at the same things as me and can handle cliches.  You might like it.


The writing was as engaging as ever.


I think that’s McGarry’s strong suit.  Reading this was very, very, easy.




1) Lazy Descriptions:

I’ll give you an example of some of the quotes McGarry uses.

The guy leans against the corner of the brick building as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.  He’s around my age, has black hair, is definitely ripped and he has suck-me-in blue eyes* that wander over my body like he’s seeing me with my clothes off. (33)

This is something I’d expect to see in a fan fiction or a first novel.  Not by a very popular author who’s on her fifth book.


Come on now.


If it was any other author how would you react?


Yeah, thought so.


2) Instant Love, Attraction, Whatever You Call It


I’ll admit these two had cute (if cliche) moments together.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Oz and Emily though, and I think a lot of it was because there was so much relying on instant attraction/love.  It just doesn’t work for me.


And yeah, I know they didn’t actually get together for quite awhile in the book, but other than being physically hot to each other I really didn’t feel this relationship like I did with Beth and Ryan and Noah and Echo.


Instead, it relied on what McGarry has used in her past two novels, instant attraction.  And I am really not a fan of that.


3) Lack of Character Development/Interaction:


Again, this goes with the romantic relationship AND really all of the relationships with the book.  They were superfiical at best.  I think the only two relationships that might’ve sort’ve gotten any development were Emily’s relationship with Olivia and maybe Emily’s relationship with her adopted father.  Even though he’s barely in this book, he really does play a more important role than Emily’s biological father.


Yep, I said it.


As much as an emphasis is made on blood, I didn’t really see Emily and Eli’s relationship develop through the book.  We’re told they’re more acquainted with each other but I really didn’t see it.


4) De Ja Vu:


Again I have seen this in almost all of McGarry’s books.  That’s right, I said all of them.  Even thoughPushing the Limits and Dare You To were wonderful  they all rely on essentially the same plot:

  • Two protagonists.
  • At least one always has a dark secret.
  • One is from the wrong side of the tracks (usually the guy)
  • There is a whole bunch of angst
  • And if people would open their mouths the book would end a lot earlier and we’d be put out of our misery.


I loved how the formula was handled in the above mentioned two books then it grew stale.  And now it’s just sort of annoying and borderline sad because really at this point McGarry should be branching out.  Contemporaries can be different.  It doesn’t have to all be “I’ve Got a Secret That You Won’t Find Out Till the Last Forty Pages”.




1) Emphasis on blood being more important than adoption:


Throughout this book there was a huge emphasis about how much blood matters, and I felt like adoption got shafted yet again.


You see this a lot in fiction-in all forms of media (I am looking at you Once Upon a Time)– and it is a shame.  Adopted relationships I really believe should have precedent over blood ones because that person chooses you to be a part of their life.  To be forced to visit your biological sperm donor just grates on me the wrong way.


And yes, I know it’s more complicated than that.  But still.


I feel sorry for Jeff.  He got shafted.  And anyone who has been adopted or is considering adopting shouldn’t have to read quotes like this.

McKinley blood runs in your veins.  Take a stand and tell them you’re staying. (47)

Seriously, blood isn’t that important.  It doesn’t define who you are as a person.  I get that Olivia wants to be closer to her granddaughter, but these remarks just sort of annoyed me more than anything else.


2) Bad Boy Heart of Gold:


How many times do I have to read about this stupid cliche?  And McGarry really goes for it too.  I liked her take on it better though in the Pushing the Limits series.  Here it just seems to be done so much that it was just a prerequisite other than really a testament to Oz’s character.  But like I said before…we really don’t know Oz.  Just that he has a really stupid nickname.


3) Stupid Names:



Oh, the names make my eyes bleed in this one.


Oz is bad enough.  But the next book is going to focus on a guy named Razor.  A product you see in your bathroom.  Honestly, I don’ t know why she didn’t name a character Soap, Shampoo, Tampon, or maybe Toilet Paper.  Seriously.

Those names made my eyes bleed.


Even Chevy’s name made my eyes bleed and that name’s not as bad as Razor.  But still. Or maybe it’s I’m desensitized at this point to people being named after cards

I think there was some explanation about these being their club names, but  Eli and Cyrus didn’t seem to have a club name.


Or to be fair, maybe I missed it.  I was really sort of skimming it at that point.


4) Subjective Matter (probably grates on me because I watch CNN all the time and had it on the other week when that motor cycle gang had that shoot out in Waco):


Yeah, probably not the best time for the book to be released.  And I’m already sort of predisposed to getting annoyed with motorcycle riders since my annoying cousin Bert is one.  Luckily, he’s not the dangerous type even though he and his club got kicked out of a candy factory in Texas-I think just for clogging up the parking lot but whatever.


5) Rude People: 


Oh God.


These people.


Okay, they do sort of grow on you.


But still.


So obnoxious.


And I’m not just talking about the bikers.


Emily got on my nerves to much like Lara Jean in To All the Boys I Loved Before I hate innocent, naive YA protagonist.  Scratch that, unrealistically naive protagonist.  I actually do like the innocent YA protagonist if it’s done realistically, however that rarely happens.

Honestly, this book just disgusted me.  While not overly offensive it was grating in the fact that there felt like there was no growth for the author in this book.  iIt was more or less a regression.


The writing, for whatever reason, was engaging.  So again, I will give you that.

Avid fans will like Nowhere But Here, but for me it was a definite pass.


Overall Rating: A big fat C.  It wasn’t my cup of tea, but the writing was decent.  It really was a huge cliche though.


*I have bolded certain words in quotes that have induced groaning.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/05/30/a-one-trick-pony-nowhere-but-here-by-katie-mcgarry