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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 Review With a Snazzy Chart

Dangerous Lies - Becca Fitzpatrick

The dog has reviewed a truly bad book in the past week, so I am not forcing her to review this subpar excrement but I wish she was.



It blew.


My first DNF of 2016.  It might be in part that I’m studying for another bar exam-yes, becuase when you move states your license doesn’t transfer right over.  They force you to take another soul eating exam.  And the God forsaken state I moved too doesn’t even have the multi-state portion so I can’t use all the mad skills I acquired the last test for them (though to be honest, they weren’t really that great).


Anyway, you’ll probably notice a decrease in posts since I am mostly studying these days save for the time where I sleep and decide to have an hour or two of Me Time that doesn’t involve showering or eating.


You’ll be surprise how very little time that is.


It will only get worse too before the test is over.


Yeah…you probably don’t want me to post that much.


Anyway, talking about Dangerous Lies is sort of difficult.  To be frank, I should’ve known better.  Fitzpatrick and I don’t mix.  And it’s just not that crappy “let’s be nice” chat she had back in the day.  It’s the fact that her stuff has this weird misogynic undertones to it.

Yet, somehow I made it through all of the Hush Hush series.


Don’t ask me how.


It was a very painful experience filled with alcohol.


I decide though to spare my liver and skip Black Ice, but Dangerous Lies interested me if anything because it involved witness protection.


And witness protection set books are something I’m always interested in (I blame that USA show In Plain Sight-which was fairly decent for it’s first few season.


If you think about it the subject matter makes perfect sense for a YA book, since it allows a character to really reinvent themselves which is the premises for a lot of those makeover YA books.


Of course, having characters in Witness Protection can make things ore interesting especially if it involves a bad ass marshall who the teen has an inappropriate crush on.

That doesn’t happen here people.


Instead, we get a whiny teen who gets sent to live with this lad who basically could be Kim Davis’s long lost sister in Nebraska where she continues being sanctimonious and self righteous despite you know…not having access to her trust fund.


Oh, wait, we’re told she doesn’t have a trust fund.  But her mother is getting a nice chunk of child support, so call her Your Poor Little Miss Upper Middle Class.

Estella was what drove me not finish the book.  Well, her and her caretaker who annoyed me.


I kept making a chart which one annoyed me more.  In the end, Stella (or Estella) did.  But it was really a close call (she toppled Carmela–aka Kim Davis- in the Whiny Bitch Moment Category (don’t worry Carmella, I still hate you).


Estella vs Carmela: A Highly Scientific Chart of Annoyingness

Name Imposing Moment on A-Holeness Self Righteous Fuckery Whiny Bitch Moment Dick Move
Stella (Estella) Making ass-sumptions about everyone. Or anytime she breaths. Mocking a pregnant girl because…she’s pregnant and making assumptions about her sex life. Whining about how she doesn’t want a job—does anyone really? Basically stealing Carmela’s car and acting like it was no biggie because she was “borrowing” it.  Try telling that to the judge, bitch.
Carmina Forcing Stella to go to church with her. Um, hello, she might not worship your God Carmela’s reaction to wearing shorts: You’re wearing cut offs.   How dare you wear cut offs, you slut. Not really whiney so much as sanctimonious. Though she does lose it a bit over the car. I give her a pass over that one though. I’d be pissed too. Telling Stella to get a job after she wakes up traveling half way cross country and forcing to shed her foul identity. True Stella needs to learn responsibility because she is a privileged brat, but she just arrived in Nebraska at least allow her to unpack.


Highly scientific if I do say so myself.


Really though, there is nothing special about Dangerous Lies.  At best it was pretty cliche, I could already see what was coming without finishing the book and I didn’t care to finish it.  I could already see that we were going to get the quasi evil city slicker goes to rural America and learns some true life lessons.  That Kim Davis’s long lost sister and her church going ways has a heart of gold and is going to cause STEEELLA (sorry, I had to put in one reference to Streetcar Called Desire in here, I mean you just have to with that name) to lose that chip on her shoulder and warm up to the country boy next store.  Who is turn is really going to change Stella, but of course she’ll face danger and he’ll rescue her and at the end of the day she’ll stay in nowheresville like they always do in Lifetime movies.


Oh wait, not Lifetime movie, it’s a Fitzpatrick book.


But same difference.


In the end, I couldn’t finish it to see if I’m right.  Stella was insufferable and I hated the community she was in-even though I’m pretty sure it was supposed to have the desired effect on her that I described before.   Maybe it’s because I currently reside in a small town and can only say it sucks.


I am not learning lessons for the yokels, or want to for that matter.  It’s not an idyllic place because not being able to get a Starbucks sucks.  Not being able to buy decent produce sucks.  And yes, I know this book is fiction and that it’s just a plot point but….grrrr…does it have to be cliche?


Overall Rating: A DNF.  Fitzpatrick and I don’t mix, don’t think we ever will.  Some might like it though, but there was nothing from the hundred some odd pages I read that really made it that exciting or interesting of a read.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/dangerous-lies

That Was....Bad

The Heir And The Spare - Emily Albright

Warning: To all anglophiles ignore the brilliant looking cover.  And carry on and watch something on Acorn (might I recommend Doc Martin).   Or if you like British “royalty” stories just watch What a Girl Wants.  And now I turn the blogging over to my dearest sweetest coblogger, Patricia Cake Beagle.


A new year and a new book for me to review.


How was your Christmas?


Mine sucked all I got were a lot of Christmas bows tied around my neck while the yappy Chihuahas and terriers got a Bark Box subscription.


Patty Bows


They suck.


Like this book.


I still don’t get why I have to review the sucky books.  I should be reviewing something fun like that Lucy the Beagle series-though it should’ve been called Patty the Beagle because that would’ve been a lot more interesting.  I mean, I know my life isn’t as interesting as certain Beagle Youtube starrs (come on, MJ, get me a ball pit already you know it would be spectacular), but I deserve better than this book.


It is a travesty to my Beagley English heritage.


The premises looks exciting.  I mean, it’s something I can relate too.  Finding out that you have this wonderfully spectacular hidden legacy that is so me.


And yeah, it hasn’t technically been revealed that I’m related to Uno or Ms. P but it’s bond to happen one day.  Much like little Miss Evie found out she’s related to a duchess.

Note, my name used to be Duchess  before MJ’s mom changed it.  She said it made me sound like I worked at a brothel in one of the Catherine Coulter books that she used to read in the old west.


As if.


You’re probably seeing a pattern of digression in this review, it’s because this book was so boring and just poorly written. Basically it can be summed up like this: Evie falls in love with a Prince Harry wannabe-who’s hair in blonde and lacks personality.  And, oh yeah, she might be related to British royalty.


The thought that she might be closely related to Eddie never pops in her mind.  Obviously, someone needs to get their AKC papers-or would it be UKC since she’s in the UK in this book-and have them checked before they do any breeding.


Again, digressing.


The point is this is a book that focuses on how the girl gets the guy, even though Edmund slobbers over her for most of the book and has a personality like a stoned Chow Chow.


Seriously, he’s not that big of a catch.  Not like my current crush who is king of his dog park.  And has his very own ball pit.


I bet Eddie doesn’t have his own ball pit.


To be fair, Evie, doesn’t have much of a personality either.  For a character that is supposedly smart enough to get into Oxford-as a transfer undergrad for that matter-she should be a walking brain.  But instead, she acts like one of those girls on I want to Marry Harry.


So stupid.


Can I have a Milkbone and go back to sleep now?


Apparently not.   This reviewed has been deemed “insufficient” by my ingrate of an owner.  I am supposed to talk about how arcane the book is when it comes to women and womens’ relationships with each other.  Because apparently, the main character likes to insult other women about their boobs.  Having boobs=evil.  Which doesn’t make sense to me because doesn’t the main character have boobs?


I am so confused now.


I am also to discuss the lack of research about Britain their education system, and how the aristocracy works.  But whatever.


Long story short, don’t read this if you actually care about this sort of stuff.  It is a nice decorative book though, so that has to count for something.  Right?


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/heir-and-the-spare

The Only Twilight I Like

Twilight - Meg Cabot

What I Remember: 


I tore into this book on a Mediator binge read back when this book was released.  I think it might’ve been the first time I’ve binge read a series.  I rapidly tore through the pages wanting to read what was next.  And the result it made me laugh, cry, and just have so many feels.



Upon Reread:


I am still getting the feels from this book roughly eleven years after the last one was published-God, I don’t like thinking that this book is that old.


It still holds up pretty well though.  In some ways, it’s holds up better than a lot of Cabot’s older titles.  I think it’s because rather than relying on a lot of pop culture references and jokes that other Cabot titles rely on, it really focuses on the story.

And the story is really aw-ing, although there are some plot holes that I noticed on reread.  But I try not to think of them.  Because we all know time travel is a very strange thing thanks to the Doctor, and it’s better to NOT try to make it logical.


Twilight ties up the series very nicely.  So nicely in fact, that when I heard there was going to be a new book, I was a little nervous.


Because Twilight ends just perfectly.


That last chapter, every single time I read it I just tear up.  It makes some one a little weary seeing how things are going to progress with these characters.

Especially since there was a point in time where Meg said that no one would want her to write a sequel, since bad things would happen to the characters.


Who knows though?


All I know is that Twilight is pretty much the perfect book.  While I wouldn’t say it’s as action packed as Darkest Hour, there is a lot of action in it AND more importantly it’s a very emotional book.  Things are nicely tied up in this installment and can’t help but make you cry with tears of happiness.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/twilight-meg-cabot

DNFL Painful

Soundless - Richelle Mead

This was a DNF because it was so excruciatingly boring.



I made it about half way through the book and I just had to give up because nothing intrigued me even though it was by freaking Richelle Mead and featured an Eastern inspired world.


No world building was given.  And Mead’s usual kick ass and take no prisoner style was missing.


Instead, we have a very dull protagonist who is in love with a guy who looks like a non-animated Shang from Mulan  in my head and they go on an adventure that is even more boring than those fabricated rope course adventures your school would throw you on to do team building  or whatever nonsense excuse they come up with (FYI ropes course suck, all those bugs).


I didn’t really care to find out the result.  I imagine it somehow involved them finding some sort of curse for their problems, but after being bored for over a hundred pages I didn’t care to find out.


It’s sort of a shame, since I do applaud Mead for trying something different.  And if I wouldn’t have known Mead’s past library, I might have enjoyed this one more.  At best it reads like an average high fantasy that takes elements of Eastern cultures but never specifies what culture they’re using or develop them into being something surely fantastic.


So it results to being something akin to Sagwa the Chinese Animated Cat.  Except you know, Sagwa, actually was more pronounced with its use of Chinese culture and mythology.


It was, after all, a PBS show.


But seriously, other than the use of Chinese inspired names and having a setting that is comparable to rural China there is nothing defiantly  Chinese about this book.  It could take place really anywhere.


That is sad.  This is Richelle Mead, so I know she can do some kick ass world building and I want a good Asian inspired high fantasy.  That part of the world has a lot of mythology and culture that really has been untapped in YA land or poorly tapped.

In the end I’m going to forget about Soundless pretty quickly.  It wasn’t memorable at all.


Overall Rating: A DNF.  DNF’d because it was boring not highly offensive.  The construction was decent which gives the book  two stars on GoodReads rather than one.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/in-which-sagwa-the-siamese-cat-does-it-better-on-the-world-building-soundless-by-richelle-mead

The Title's On Fire Too Bad the Books Isn't

Pants on Fire - Meg Cabot

Long before my book blogging days I was a Meg Cabot junky.  I had to get every book of hers on release date, and this was before Prime existed so I actually had to drive to the bookstore and pick up said book.


Pants on Fire was one of these books.


In retrospect, it was nowhere near the hype I had for it.  But at the time I was excited about it.  It included a heroine who actually has a complicated love life AND wasn’t perfect.


Sort of hard to find in YA at the time, but since Pants on Fire has been published heroines in YA have grown more complicated and make Katie…well, insufferable.

Like I said, I wanted to like Katie.  She’s not perfect.  But I couldn’t.  I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that she seems a bit unrealistic and a bit of a Mary Sue.


I know, I’m saying something seemingly blasphemous-a Mary Sue main character in a Meg Cabot book, but Katie sort of fits the test with everyone being in love with her, her being unnaturally good at taking photos, Valedictorian, having all the boys love her, being one of the most popular girls in school, and being a shoe in as a finalist in a beauty contest.



Yeah,  gag me.


To be fair, the whole beauty competition was an interesting twist when I first read the book.  But upon, reflection I felt like there were these major “moral lessond of the weeks” that were hammered into my head.


I’m not a fan of moral lessons.


They annoy me.


BUT during the time period the book was written in, they were more common in YA than today.  Especially in Cabot’s contemporaries.


The major moral lessons in these books was what annoyed me the most about all of Cabot’s contemporaries in the period.  The messages are often eye roll worthy and corny, even though I know that’s probably not Cabot’s intentions.


It’s not that the books are especially bad, they are very readable, but there’s just a preachy undertone to them that makes you want to pull out your hair.  Especially when that little life lesson the book’s trying to reach you, is the focal point of the book.

Which if you’re wondering is: Lying is bad.


Lies and omitting the truth are featured heavily in Pants on Fire (even in the title to some regard) of course because of this, consequences! happen.


To be honest, the consequences are sort of lame and don’t take up a lot of page count and our deeply flawed main character still gets a Cabot signature happily ever after.

Katie doesn’t deserve a happily ever after.  Especially a Cabot one.


She is fucked up and needs to deal with her shit, rather than getting in a new relationship.  And yes, I did like the guy she ended up with, BUT girl wasn’t ready for a realtionship yet.


There are things about this book that should make it stand out.   But it doesn’t.  The beauty pagent falls flat.  Even flatter than Dumplin, whose beauty pagent scenes hardly impressed me.  Katie’s big dilemma sort of sadly deflated.  It was like anything with any oomph, died quickly with this book.


Look, I know it seems like I’m harping on this book a lot, and perhaps I am.  It has a lot of things to offer and at the end of the day it sadly just flops around.  That being said, it’s probably the best out of the three Cabot contemporary YA standalones  (Teen Idol, How to Popular, and Pants on Fire).  I liked a lot of the ideas that were in this book, but it just really didn’t work for me.


Overall Rating: A C+


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/the-titles-on-fire-too-bad-the-book-isnt-pants-on-fire-by-meg-cabot

Oh, That Missing Kid

Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

This book was good.  And it was a fast read.  BUT it was really forgettable.



To be honest, it really wasn’t that memorable.


The premises is fantastic though.  There are lots of YA books about child abduction, but most of them involve the narrator-if the book is written in first person.  I thought having Emmy be a bystander to the whole ordeal was an interesting twist, but at the of the day I didn’t LOVE this book.


It was just a okay fast read, that I probably should’ve library-ed instead of bought.

Maybe because there was a slightly bland quality to both the main characters.  To be fair, Emmy on paper seems decently formed.  She has hobbies outside of boys, conflicts in her family, and great friends.  But I really felt like I only got to know her on a superficial level.  Oliver, on the other hand, wasn’t even superficially formed.  Sure, we got angst but I really didn’t feel for this character as much as I probably should’ve.

Which is a shame because Oliver is dealing with a lot of shit.


However, I sort of get why Benway didn’t try to focus on Oliver as much since he wasn’t the narrator.  The thing was Emmy’s story was just not strong enough when you have the premises of Oliver’s story which just has a lot in terms of drama.


The story works….but at the same time I wanted to know more about Oliver.  So maybe this would’ve worked better for me if Oliver would’ve been the focus character or at the very least there could’ve been dual narration.


Aside from the characterization, the pacing is decent.  Not a lot happened (after Oliver was found) but it made for a nice light-ish contemporary.  Though really I don’t think you can call a contemporary light when it deals with child abduction, but the book didn’t  feel dark to me.


Sure, there was some fallout from the kidnapping, but the fallout wasn’t that much considering that the book took place in Emmy not Oliver’s point of view.  Sure, we saw her parents’ anxiety but compared to what Oliver’s family was dealing with it was sort of, well, boring.


A lot of these complaints are more about what I expected for a reader than what I got.  It’s not that Emmy’s story is bad, but with what else is out there available for Benway to work with this plot I was underwhelm.


If you want a nice contemporary romance, I say go for this.  But don’t expect huge character development or major drama. There is some drama, but for the most part it is trivial at best.


Overall Rating: A B-.  While decent, I feel I will soon forget this one.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/12/04/oh-that-missing-kid-emmy-and-oliver-by-robin-benway

A Solid Finish to the Series, But Not Epic

Winter - Marissa Meyer

Winter was a good book, but it was no means epic like I thought it was going to be.



Then again, when you wait almost eighteen months (from Cress) for the next installment what do you expect?


 Well, there was Fairest and I think having read Fairest helped AND hindered my reading experience of Winter.  


Fairest helped feel in a couple of the blanks that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten had I just read the series without an extras.  It also fleshed out Levana who otherwise would be very one dimensional evil.


I didn’t even feel like Levana should be locked in the funny farm at the end of this installment, she was that bad.


One of the things, that I will give Winter is that although there is a happy-ish outcome the characters really had to work for their ending and not everything was perfect.  Each character is affected by the revolution in different ways.  It really did give you the feels, in all the various sorts of ways.



Like the tile suggests, this book is primarily about Winter.  To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Winter fan.  I think in part because it was so hard to know her.  This might’ve been in part because she was insane, but in a lot of ways I think the various view points were starting to get to the story.  While the well established characters really weren’t effected-much by the switch in point of views-new characters like Winter weren’t as fully formed as I would’ve liked.


Same goes with Jacin, he’s still a little blah.  But you need someone a little blah to be with Winter’s….well, Winter-ness.


As for the other characters, I thought some of the characters might’ve seemed a bit marginalized  and their stories weren’t as well formed in past books.  But I still was emotionally connected for the most part.


Levana is an excellent example of this.  As fully formed as she was in Fairest, she really is reduced to a one note vain villain here (see mentioned comment about no longer wanting her just to be locked up in the funny farm).  As for other characters I didn’t feel like I fully felt their angst with what occurred.  I mean some of the things that happened to the crew were pretty alarming, and you’d would’ve thought…


Going to stop because of spoilers.


I’ll say there was enough, just enough, to make me feel for them, but there could’ve been more.


I know I’m complaining about a lot of things, but really Winter did work.  It tied up all the loose ends in this series nicely and it was overall a pretty amazing series.


If you haven’t picked up the Lunar Chronicles you should.  It’s a fast paced series with a lot of great characters, and it hard to say goodbye.  Though I really do look forward to what Marissa Meyer has planned for the future.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/a-solid-finale-but-not-epic-winter-by-marissa-meyer

Strong Second Book

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird) - Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You was one of my favorite guilty pleasure reads of 2014.  It’s sequel is just as good if not better.  While there are still visible faults, there was definite improvements in the second installment of this series.  Which actually sort of surprised me because usually in series-especially trilogies-the middle book is usually the weakest of the bunch.


Here though, great development is made with the characters and the plot.  I’m still not 100% sold with Paul and Marguerite, but I have a better understanding for the couple and can appreciate them.  And I have to praise and get annoyed at Gray for giving an awesome tease of what a relationship with Theo and Marguerite could’ve been-note to blog reader, I get bored with straight men (which is what Paul is) Theo is more my style.

The alternate dimensions for the most part weren’t as interesting as the previous installment, but there were some interesting aspects about some of them.  I also liked the fact that we did get to revisit one particular dimension (for spoiler purposes I won’t go into particulars here).


Like with the previous installment, there is a clear plot, but like with the previous installment not everything is what it seems.  There are so many ways that this book could’ve gone, and certain twists and turns surprised me.  At the same time though, there were a lot of suprises.


While there was a lot of development with the main cast, and some development on the motives behind the Triad.  I did think, for the most part, the villains in this book were still relatively flat.  Which is sad.  They really just make an appearance whenever it’s to escalate the plot.  Not so much with the main characters who are well formed .  I get that it’s in Marguerite’s point of view and of course it’s going to be limited to her thoughts, but I wish there would’ve been a little bit more interaction with the villains.  I am hopeful that that will be happening in the next book, but I really think there should’ve been more before the third book.


I know it sounds like I’m nitpicking a lot about this book, but truth was I really enjoyed it. It was fast paced, fun, and different.


Yes, I know, there are a lot of YA AU dimension books out there, but I really like the spin that Gray takes on it.  There’s always something so romantic about her books.  Yes, the romance can borderline on cheese and doesn’t always work-I was never a huge fan of her vampire series and I sort of gave up on her witch series as well-but when it does it’s really wow inducing.  And I think the Firebird series is where this quality shines.  You have two people who find each other in all these different worlds and it’s really interesting seeing how they interact with each other if circumstances were different.


I am eagerly awaiting the next installment to this series.  It’s not perfect, but it is a fun read and has a lot to offer.


Overall Rating: I’m feeling generous so A- (it really should be a B+).  The villains are a little weak, but I think that’s going to be resolved in the next one.  But overall what a fun read.




Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/ten-thousand-skies-above-you

If America Was Still Part of the UK

Rebel Mechanics - Shanna Swendson

My biggest concern with this book is that I missed something.  I feel like I got the general gist of it, but often the character would say something and I would be like:



Huh?  When did that happen.


And I’d reread it and not really pick up on it.


I went to law school and passed the Texas state bar, so I’m not blaming that on me.  I could, since I do have a tendency to speed read, BUT if I can handle reading about personal jurisdiction, I should be able to pick up on a 300 page YA book without wondering how the Main Character gets to point A to B.


The thing is, despite this, I really did enjoy Rebel Mechanics, it had a lot going for it.  Save for the ship it pushed this book.


I really, really, hope that the ship I’m rooting for sails.  Because that ship would be hot.  The ship they have going right now is ack!  Seriously, Verity, girl, get some common sense.  You have something great right under your nose and you’re not even noticing it.

I really like governess stories in Historical Romances, and I think that’s why this one partially worked for me.  That and despite Verity’s naivety, I did enjoy her and her charges especially as the book progressed.  I just wish some aspects of the world would’ve been expanded on more.


I really did enjoy the set up-AU America where America is still part  of the British empire and there’s magic and lords and ladies and all that good stuff.  BUT like I said, I think Swendson only touched the surface of this premises.


That’s probably what bothered me the most, besides Verity’s extreme stupidity when it comes to relationships.


Yet, I don’t feel like reading this book was a waste of time.  And I probably will continue reading on with the series, the thing about Rebel Mechanics is that it holds a lot of promise.


Particularly, with the character Lord Henry.  There was enough mystery and intrigue about the lord of the manor with three wards, that made me intrigued even if Verity was a little bit of a bore.    Well, not so much of a bore but a little TSTL.


Anyway, I don’t regret reading Rebel Mechanics the book picks up nicely about halfway through it and there are some intriguing ideas and plot-lines that I look forward to seeing expanded on in future installments.


Overall Rating: A solid B.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/rebel-mechanics

Another One Bites the Dust

Red Girl, Blue Boy - Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This book makes me want to drink.



I am really starting to think there is something wrong with me.  The last three reads have been DNF’s.  And I HATE DNFing, especially where the premises of the book seems to indicate that I should really like this book.


I didn’t though.


The main female character was just hideous.


Remember Rachel Berry in the first season of Glee and Tracey Flick in Election, this MC is even moreEXTREME than they were.


Yeah, I couldn’t stomach her point of view that was probably the biggest reason I DNF’d it.


Technically speaking, the book was readable enough if you could get past how unrealistic Katie and to a lesser extent Drew were.


I guess I should talk about the elephant (ha, ha, political pun) in the room: Katie.


As I said before, completely ridiculous from her copy-cat Jackie O infamous pink suits, to claiming she looks like Christmas with her green eyes and red suits.  I wanted to roll my eyes.  Does that mean I look like Christmas too anytime I wear red since I have green eyes too?




Half of the shit she gets herself into wouldn’t happen in real life because the campaign would have a PR person on staff to tell her it’s not a good idea to wear an imitation of the outfit that Jacqueline Kennedy wore when her husband was killed-especially when you’re a Republican.  Or for that matter, a replica of the suit that Nancy Reagan wore.  Then again, look at some of the stupid things that have been going on this election cycle-see Donald Trump and Ben Carson.


So maybe Katie is a realistic spawn of a GOP candidate.


Okay, probably not.


I couldn’t handle it.  Maybe her behavior would be explained by the end, but I really doubt it.


Drew on the other hand is the stereotypical My-Parents-Are-Ruining-My-Life teen.  He’s not that bad, but I rolled my eyes when he started ranting about being rich.  BUT at the same time, I could see a kid whose parents are involved in politics acting like him instead of Katie.


God, Katie.




The plot itself didn’t seem bad.  The If Only series has simple little rom com plots, and this book falls into the series premises perfectly.  The problem is that it falls into a lot of pitfalls that a lot of these books do-half baked Disney Chanel like romances.


Unless Drew was the boy at the beginning of the book (which my Book Psychic senses are telling me he was), I didn’t see them interact.  I didn’t want to because I already had an inkling how squirm inducing it was going to be since Katie’s one other interaction with a guy was embarrassing at best.


Socially awkward characters can be good, but squirm inducing socially awkward characters aren’t so good.  If Katie made Katie Couric cry I can only bet it was because Couric felt sad at how hopeless this MC was.


Overall Rating: A DNF a total and complete fail on the part of the leading lady.  Shame.  If you’re interested in a YA book about politics try The Wrong Side of Right by Jen Marie Thorne, The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, or All American Girl by Meg Cabot.  Do not read this one, unless irrational main characters don’t bother you.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/another-one-bites-the-dust-red-girl-blue-boy-by-lauren-baratz-logsted

Where Suze has me Googling Slip Dresses

Darkest Hour - Meg Cabot

Can you believe it’s the fourth month of this Mediator reread series?  Neither can I.  In Mediator news, there has been an excerpt and cover leaked, people.  Seems like Paul is up to his old tricks again, not that surprised (and yes, I already preordered this book).


What I Remember:


I remember really being surprised by this one and kind of shocked about how evil Paul was in this one.  Because remember, I read Haunted first.  If you just read Haunted, Paul just seems like a sightly sleazy boy who makes some dubious choices.  But in Darkest Evil you know that he would have no problem fighting Voldemort and probably winning (he’d probably exorcise all seven pieces of Voldy’s soul and laugh about it).




If Suze Simon isn’t a BAMF character before, she is now.



Honestly, in a lot of ways, Darkest Hour is my favorite book in the series.  The last one might hit some emotional strings for me, but this book does too and has Suze fight probably the most scariest baddies in the series.


We also get more backstory on Jesse which is a good thing, because really up until this point the character Jesse needed some (okay, a lot fleshing out).


I think this book is what seals the deal for the Juze ship.  My OTP.  Okay, to be honest I do like Paul/Suze in fanfiction better.  Only because I think in fannon it allows more story, but in cannon I <3 Suze and Jesse forever.  You can really feel how much these two characters have grown to love each other in this book-though Suze is too stupid to realize Jesse has feelings for her.


I also like how the two of them interact around Maria and Diego.  I thought having Suze having to deal with Jesse’s past was a pretty smart idea on Cabot’s part.  The dude has baggage due to the way he died, and I’m glad she didn’t ignore that.


Maria and Diego make more formable foils than Heather or the RLS Angels, that’ s for sure.   It doesn’t take Suze almost 200 pages to be in peril only till like chapter 2 or 3.  And she’s actually scared.  And Jesse doesn’t really come to her rescue in this book.  She does a bit of saving herself.  Really as far as action goes, I’d say this is probably the most action filled Mediator book.


As I said in the first part of this review, this is the first book that Paul comes into play.  After reading the series as a whole, it is the same Paul but you do see a different side of him here.  I think I read somewhere that Meg always was a little shocked with Paul’s popularity because he is a sleaze.  To be honest, he is sleazy in this book but the Paul character evolves as the series comes to play.  I really wonder if I would be so team Cannon Juze had the series been allowed to extend to the seven or eight book she initially wanted to do.


Overall Darkest Hour was probably one of the best if not the best books in the Mediator series.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/darkest-hour-meg-cabot

And this is Why I Don't Like/Get Harco

Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

When I found out about Carry On, I figured it would be either epic or not so epic.  It fell in the latter category for me.



I’ve never really have been a Rainbow Rowell fan girl.  I’ve only read Fangirl and a short story by her.  And while I liked Fangirl enough, the short story was lacking.


Then there’s also the fact that I sort of skimmed all the Simon Snow fan fiction because Simon and Baz reminded me of Harco (Harry and Draco) and I’m not a fan of Harco.

I was hoping though, that with further development I could love Simon and Baz, that they would not have the same toxicity of Harco….but…I didn’t like the book and it wasn’t because of the relationship.  Though, I didn’t sense any chemistry between either Simon and Baz (and I was about 200 pages in before I gave up).


What really threw me off from this book was how vague it was.


Objectively, the construction isn’t halfway bad.  It’s readable.  And that’s actually a pretty decent accomplishment in YA-read a Colleen Houck book and then tell me that it’s readable and then get back to me.  Although, the multiple POV changes are grating after awhile, especially since they’re so random and some of the chapters are obscenely short.



That vague feeling was what bothered me about the whole experience.  I think the world building was intentionally vague, in part, so that it couldn’t outright rip off Harry Potter-but who are we kidding we know it was basically the substitute of Harry Potter in Fangirl Rowell basically out right says it.  But instead of sort of parodying Potter fics in the best of ways, it’s one of those fics I’d automatically x-nay because it’s just too random.

Like I said, the summary and cover seem to indicate that Baz and Simon are going to be a thing, but Baz doesn’t even make an appearance until a good quarter of the book (150) and Simon seems too focus on his girlfriend to even notice him-save to whine about how he cheated with said girlfriend.


I guess one could make the argument that Rowell is showing the randomness of some fandom ships-because let’s face it in fandom you see it all.  There are Giant Squid fics out there, people.  But I really don’t think that’s what she was intending.  To me, it was almost as if she wanted us to forget that Carry On was a fan fic written by Cath and not the cannon Simon Snow.


I think that might’ve been what killed the story.


If the book would’ve sort of gone all out there in parody mode with it’s tropes it might’ve been more enjoyable to me.  Instead, it read very, very, bland with a plot that seemed to want to hide itself.


Which is fine, perfectly fine if you’re not trying to make a parody of Harry Potter.

The reason Harry Potter works so well is that it’s plots are so absorbing as well as the characters.  I couldn’t get absorbed in either aspect here.  I wanted to love Simon and Baz, and was thinking hey maybe when Baz gets involved into this mess it will work better but….








In fact, the chemistry between the two was so lacking it made me sad. Simon’s relationship with Agatha broke up ridiculously fast.  I didn’t get why they were a couple either, but it really reminded me of a fan fic where the cannon pairing it broken up fast to force another couple together.


And that couple was Simon and Baz.


Honestly, out of the amount of interaction the characters were having if anyone should’ve been a couple it should’ve been Simon and Penny…but….no.

Clearly in the friend zone like Hermione.  ANd of course, that’s not the couple I was rooting for.  I was rooting for Simon and Baz, but more or less because of the blurb and the cover.  When together, they weren’t that magical.  In fact, they were sort of forced together like Harco is often forced together.


And that dear readers, is not a good thing.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/and-this-is-why-i-dont-like-harco-carry-on-by-rainbow-rowell

Not Amused

Blood and Salt - Kim Liggett

Full disclosure.  I DNF’d this one around page eighty.  I’ll probably be giving it away in a give away at some point.  I think I read enough though to give a review of why it didn’t work for me.


Anyway, I was excited about this book.  I  had it on my TBR list for awhile, and saved reading it for this week-Halloween week.  The thing is, it did not work for me.



I was expecting instant love, but what I wasn’t expecting was some fucked up world building (meaning, lots and lots of info dump).


In theory, I should’ve loved this.  A lot of the world is heavily rooted in Pre-Columbian America, but I just couldn’t connect.  And when there was a random naked ritual that sounded borderline like an orgy.  I left the building.


I read Brave New World, that’s enough orgy porgy for a lifetime, thank you very much.


The random naked trope just annoys me.  It’s not because I’m a prude, but random moments of nakedness with no explanation other than to make the main character uncomfortable and add sexual undertones to the story just doesn’t work for me.


It also doesn’t help when eighty pages into the book, the characters remind me of cardboard cut outs.  The main character clearly has the YA Little Miss Special Snowflake going on for her.  Her brother is playing the role of the token best friend.  And her mother’s a deadbeat.  I didn’t stay long enough to meet the love interest, but I don’t think I could’ve handled the pain.


Despite being annoyed with the cliches this book used and the main character, I will say that it moved first.  But there was just something weird about this book.  Something that didn’t connect with me so I DNF’d it.


So in the end, I’m not sure if I DNF’d it because it really didn’t work for me.  I’m not sure if it’s so much because the book wasn’t for me or that it suffered from structural and character issues.


I can’t recommend it, but at the same time I can’t say it’s truly awful.  Because I really see some people liking this better than me.



The Gods Approve (Sort Of)

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer  - Rick Riordan

Bookish Confession: I never read a Riordan book before.


Or all the books by this author I should’ve read already.


I don’t know why, I know they’re extremely popular, but they’ve sort of flown under the radar for me.


I picked this one up though, mainly because I am interested in learning more about Norse mythology and have just had such horrible luck finding such a book that’s decent.

Grant it, the one series I read with Norse mythology in it was The Witches of East End (ugh, Uncle Arthur and Freddie) and that series pretty much blows, so anything has to be an improvement on it.


I actually liked The Sword of Summer quite a bit.  Magnus was an interesting main character, and the book didn’t fall to many pitfalls that other books in the genre did.

I think what I liked the best about it that it wasn’t romance heavy at all.  In fact, there was no romance there.  And sometimes, just sometimes I want a romance free novel and this is it.


I think if I was to describe this book it would be like a buddy flick with some Thor thrown in.  It’s just pure fun.  To be fair though, I don’t know if it handles it’s source material with that much accuracy.  Then again to be fair, it just might.  My recollection of Norse myths are pretty bleak.  Ask me about Greek mythology and then I can get picky.  So if I knew more about Norse mythology, I might’ve not had liked it as much as I did.



The characters are all fleshed out.  The main character was delightful and felt surprisingly realistic, despite his circumstances.  The actual plot, while using the typical quest formula didn’t feel old to me like it usually does in these sorts of books.  I also liked how there were humor in this book.  It’s so hard to find humor-at least entertaining humor in YA these days.


The thing is, even though I enjoyed The Sword of Summer, it was hardly a perfect book.  It was a little bit on the cheesy side, and I could see the series quickly going down hill, but right now I enjoyed it for what it was.


Overall Rating: A solid B+ a nice start to the start of a series especially if you’re a Norse or Riordan neophyte like yours truly.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/the-sword-of-summer

If Jane Austen Met a Hot Gambler

Dreaming of You - Lisa Kleypas

This book could also be known  as Jane Austen Did Have a Happily Ever After and Married a Reform Rouge.



Okay, Sara is not exactly Jane Austen.  Instead of writing witty commentaries on society, she writes gritty books about undesirables that might even have Dickens blush.  And she’s out researching a novel-because unlike certain authors she doesn’t rely on Wikipedia as her only source material (Not that there was Wikipedia back in her day) and ends up saving super hot and rich Derek.


Of course, things develop from there.


But first Derek and Sara have to deal with obstacles.


And while the obstacles in romances always annoy me to some degree, I couldn’t help but swoony at them throughout it.


Lisa Kleypas is one of those authors I can usually count on for a solid experience.  Some of her books are better than others, but none of them I’ve read so far have been bad.


This one while not the best Kleypas’s book I ever read, was thoroughly enjoyable.  The characters were richly described.  Particularly, Derek.  The side characters also held my interest enough where I’ll probably-okay, I know-I’ll be indulging in their stories later (I bought a lot of Kleypas’s books on Amazon a couple of weeks ago).


The characters also deviated enough from the typical Regency stereotypes which made it more enjoyable.  I liked that Derek was a self made man-something you hardly ever see in these books and that Sara wasn’t a the stereotypical pathetic spinster.


Instead, she was a kick ass activist with a pistol.


The characters themselves were stellar.


The plot.




It was just sort of stagnant, while there was more excitement than Again the Magic, the villain though annoyed me.


I just really expected more from Kleypas than to use that trope of all things. I just didn’t like how one note that villain and it made what was a good book a bit over dramatic.

Still though, Dreaming of You is probably one of the better historical romances I’ve read recently. I liked the characters and their backstories, and their romance was charming.  I just wish there wasn’t that over the top melodramatic villain.


Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/dreaming-of-you-by-lisa-kleypas

A Whole New Turd (or Synergy!)

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale - Liz Braswell

If you ever read fan fiction you’ll inevitably come across the practically plagiarized fic where the only thing original about said fan fic from cannon is its disclaimer.



This book is much like that fic.  Okay, it eventually does diverge from cannon but that’s when things get really bad.


It’s too bad that Agrabah doesn’t have an official cocktial because I’d so make myself one now.  I’m thinking for this book I need something pretty strong.  A vodka tonic might do the job.


Or maybe a good sidecar.  Can’t go wrong there.  Taste like battery acid, those do.  And that’s sort of what I need after this book.  Something to get the bad taste of forced synergy out of my mouth.


Currently synergy is a big thing for Disney.  Look at Once Upon a Time-or how many Disney movies that aren’t even fairytales can we stuff into an hour of programming .  I like Once a lot, but sometimes I just roll my eyes at the Mouse doing some very obvious self marketing.



This book was like Once Upon a Time’s infusion of Frozen last season.  Good on paper, but epic fail.  A lot of it was that it didn’t try to deviate from cannon at all. The first hundred pages are basically a novelization of the Aladdin but with horrible purple prose.

Just look at the opening paragraph:

A High White Moon cast its light on the city below as brightly as the sun was said to shine in northern countries.  White mud-brick buildings gleamed like pebbles form a faraway beach.  The golden onion domes on the capital glittered like a dream against the pale dunes and the dark, starry void. (1)

You could’ve condensed this into something like this:The moon cast a light on the city below.  It flickered on the white brick buildings and the dome of the capital.


Okay, you could probably eliminate said paragraph in its entirety to be honest.  But I was trying to be nice here.


Screw this book.


It doesn’t deserve nice.


It is a blatant attempt to cash in on a popular 90’s film and recent broadway show.  However, instead of showing me a whole new world it showed me that Disney could make a whole new turd on once fabulous merchandise.


The cover is wonderful too, really this book does not deserve a cover.




The thing about trying novelize a Disney novel, is that you can’t do a blow by blow play of the movie when the character are pretty flat-to be fair to the movie it was only a little over an hour long and it had Robin Williams as the Genie so that helped some of the flatness.


Speaking of the genie, when the book went AU his lines were probably some of the most painful.  It’s sad how a bad book is yet another painful reminder of how great the late comedian was.  The lines that Braswell wrote were just bad.  I even tried to think of Robin saying them.  And no, just no.


I didn’t stick around to the end.  Mainly because I didn’t see a point.  There was no great deviation from the source material till the AU and once it hit the AU…..well, The Return of Jafar was written better.  And we all know that was a direct to video Disney sequel (which Steve Jobs ex-nayed because they were so bad, BTW).


Overall Rating: A  DNF with an F.  Disney you should think about making sure your synergy is of quality.



Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/a-whole-new-world-liz-braswell