Book Review: Barely Breathing

review-cover-barely breathingTitle: Barely Breathing [Shattered Souls Trilogy 1]

Author: Katerina Bray

Genre: Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)



Take a Deep Breath
You can and will get through this.

Rock Bottom.

Is where I find myself, yet again.

I remember all the times I’ve stood alone, begging for help, praying for an answer, no longer knowing who I’d become and barely being able to breathe.

I. Will. Not. Let. Those. Memories. Stop. Me.

Knock me down, break my soul, and cause me pain, but I have always found the strength to pick myself up and stand tall again.

People assume I’m too fragile and incapable of functioning.

But surviving is part of my daily routine.

I, Ruby Bennett will start over as many times as it takes.

My past will not overpower my present.

It’s said the third time’s a charm.


I sadly only made it 3% into this book. I just couldn’t push myself to read any further. The narrative felt contrived; it was trying too hard to be poetic and mysterious and didn’t come across as genuine. The opening sequence was slow with lots of explanation thrown in, and it felt like it took forever to get through. As a Texan, I was irritated by the stereotypical trope of the realtor with the thick Texan drawl (btw, most people in Texas don’t have that accent). For all the words used, nothing seemed to be happening of any importance to the story itself in the first chapter, and when I got to the second chapter with Maeson’s gratuitous swearing, I was just done.

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t have the patience to sit through another chapter. I wasn’t drawn into the story. I wasn’t interested in where it was going or what was going to happen. I wasn’t sucked in by the characters. There may be someone out there that enjoys this book for more than I did, but it just wasn’t for me.


Book Review: A Threat From The Past


review-cover-a threat from the pastTitle: Bentwhistle the Dragon: A Threat From The Past

Author: Paul Cude

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)



Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Part is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them.Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.


I tried to get into this book. It sat on my TBR list for two years while I picked it up, set it aside, picked it up again, set it aside… again. I just couldn’t get into it. I’m not a huge fan of high fantasy, to begin with, but it was clear from the outset that I was going to have a problem mostly with the way the book was written. To be honest, the writing was weak. There was a lot of the author telling his readers what was happening, without putting any effort into showing them the world so they could come to their own conclusions. The narrative was written in an extremely passive manner and was littered with cliché phrases.

In spite of its size the dragon was clearly agitated, roaring occasionally, scraping the large claws on its feet along the top of the rubble on either side of it, and banging its tail into the ground intermittently.

Why “in spite of its size”? That has nothing to do with the fact that it was agitated. Why are you telling us that it’s agitated, to begin with? Why not show us with the roaring and the scraping and let it speak for itself?

As the apparently inevitable drew closer, the sprinting knight managed to find a little more speed and at the spit second before hitting the tip of the flame, dived headlong towards the cobbles.

Why “apparently inevitable”? There were so many instances of “apparently” and “seemingly” just in the first chapter that I grew frustrated with each new reiteration.

“For all intents and purposes, yes,” said the knight.

Why not just say “Yes.”?

“I require no reward. I’m sorry for the loss of life and damage to your city,” the knight replied in a heartfelt manner. “I have companions who as we speak are making their way there with great haste to assist with what has happened this day, among them healers and engineers. I ask that they are allowed to help out as best they can, and also that you not address me as Sir, as I have not yet earned that title, but by my name: George.”

The lack of appropriate punctuation aside, the dialogue was heavily crafted and monologue-esque. It didn’t feel real. I kept pushing, but by the end of the first chapter, it was clear that the entire book was going to be written in this way, and I just couldn’t push myself to keep reading. When I start a story, I want to be gripped by it. I want to be pulled in and several hours later find myself staring blankly at the last word of the story wondering how I got there so quickly and why it had to end. I didn’t have that with this. There may be a reader out there somewhere (probably a middle-grade reader) that will absolutely love this story, but It isn’t for me. I’m setting it aside and moving on to something a little more thoughtfully crafted.

Book Review: A Lady’s Submission

review-cover-a lady's submissionTitle: A Lady’s Submission [The Warriors of Ar’mora 1]

Author: Frank Carlyle

Genre: Erotica, Historical, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)


From what I can tell, this is no longer available on Amazon, I am unsure if it is available elsewhere.


Last of a clan that once ruled over a vast trade network and determined the fate of empires, Mahlon Arn, has the task of reclaiming a place once lost and now hidden within the jungled corridors of a tributary river that feeds into the mighty Amazon River. It’s a past that almost no one remembers except for the few who dare to return and once more reclaim all that once was and begin to build what is to become.

Journey deep into the jungle and follow the story of a warrior who reclaims a kingdom, only to ache for the completion of a prophecy spoken over him by a dying father. A prophecy that comes in the form of a red haired fantasy lady, who is born up the river by chance and circumstance or perhaps by Divine will, and that must be claimed and utterly brought into submission by the man, who has been tasked to not only reclaim a past but to build a future based on righteousness.


You know that phrase “I can’t even.”, that’s how I feel about this book. I didn’t get past the first sentence before I realized this was going to be a very difficult read.

The wind whipped viciously back and forth across the land ever strengthened by the rising tempest of the ocean and beat against the rocks of the foundation of the last of the Sea People’s fortresses.

This pretty much summed up the entirety of what I read from that point forward (and I didn’t make it far). The writing was excruciatingly verbose and complicated in structure to the point of being clunky and muddled. Run on sentences, a formal tone with a lack of punctuation, and strange word choices made me cringe. The story didn’t flow, and the dialogue was easily just as formal and unnatural sounding as the narrative.

I thought him beyond speech as he lay staring up into my eyes with all the love of a father that I had yearned to watch grow old and enjoy playing with the offspring of my loins.

I pushed, really pushed to get past the first chapter of this story several times, and finally, I decided the book wasn’t for me. The writing –maybe- would have held up in a high fantasy, but as a historical erotica, it was just… poorly written, and needlessly complicated… and I don’t think it should be a chore to read a book. I couldn’t get past the language to enjoy the characters or the plot, and it was frustrating and tedious. Eventually, I gave up and declared this a DNF.

There may be someone out there that enjoys this kind of writing… but for an erotica novel, where the sex is basically the entire reason for reading the book… the language of the narrative and characters just wasn’t appropriate, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Book Review: Ideas & Inspiration for Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers

review-cover-ideas and inspirationsTitle: Ideas and Inspiration for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers

Author: James Hutchings

Genre: Non-Fiction, Inspiration, Writing

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)



If you want to spark new ideas for worlds, plots or characters, you want Ideas and Inspiration for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers. Medicinal corpses, the jargons of thieves and carnies, Nazi UFOs, the colonization of space and green children from nowhere are only a few of the topics covered. This sourcebook is for all writers of fantasy or science fiction–whether novels, short stories, games, or any other form of storytelling.


No. Just no. This book was a DNF for me after the very first page—though to be fair, I did read through 68% of the book before I settled down on a solid DNF rating. Rather than Ideas and Inspirations for Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers, this book would have been better-titled Facts and Folklore, because that’s basically what this book was.

I was perhaps mistakenly under the impression that this book would be filled with inspirational writing advice, writing prompts, writing advice, or at the very least, a list of Science Fiction and Fantasy ideas… but that isn’t what I got. The book was basically a list of random facts and bits and pieces of folklore. gathered en-masse and regurgitated. There was no sense of the author’s individual voice, nor introduction to the various bits of information. It felt as if the author had spent some time roaming around Wikipedia researching and then copy and pasted that research into this book as–is, and called it done. As a writing resource for authors looking for some kind of inspiration for writing… it’s rather subpar.

At one point, I skimmed past a 20-page essay of sorts on a historical event. I was half convinced that this book was a scam at first, but I think it was honestly just poorly put together. I can’t in good conscience recommend any aspiring authors out there pick this up as a source of inspiration. It isn’t going to be helpful to you.

Book Review: Phoenix Earth

review-cover-phoenixearthTitle: Phoenix earth: The Complete First Season

Author: Jaime Vendera, Melvyn Riley, Ronald Coleborn, Daniel Middleton

Genre: Science Fiction, Episodic

Rating: 1 Star



After the final cataclysm claimed Earth, and seeding failed on Mars, the surviving humans had only one choice—seek out a new planet or die. Eventually, the surviving humans discovered Malakar, a small planet millions of light years away. In time, the two races merged, creating a new breed called Maluan. However, racism soon spread throughout the planet and the human and Maluans faced total extinction by evil Malakarans known as Creks. In a politically charged move to sweep the planet clean of all non-purebloods, the descendants of the human race are forced off Malakar to relocate to a planet dubbed X67 by Malakaran authorities. What unfolds is a maniacal scheme to destroy the Maluans and humans before they reach their new home, forcing them to leap at the speed of thought to a dead planet no one has seen in more than five hundred years: Earth.

Phoenix Earth follows the lives of an eclectic group as they bond together to stay alive and begin anew as they discover new alien races and struggle to help Earth rise from the ashes.


Let me preface this review by saying right off the bat: This book just wasn’t for me. I’m a fan of science fiction, and I understand that this book and it’s “episodes” were meant to remind the reader of TV episodes in written form…I love science fiction TV just as equally as I love science fiction in novels… but this didn’t work for me. I tried to get into this book and its episodes. I read a bit, I put it down, I picked it back up… for well over a year I floundered with trying to push through Phoenix Earth. I just couldn’t do it.

The story started off with a lot of backstory, and it made it hard to engage right from the very beginning. Parts of the backstory were skimmed over, and it felt as if I were missing a lot of explanations about what was going on. Sometimes the explanations I was given, didn’t seem logical. The exchanges between the Malakaran’s and the Humans didn’t seem equal, but were treated as if they were. Radiation was treated as actual poison—which was only one of many instances in which the science was questionable.

To be blunt, the story tried too hard. The science wasn’t well thought out, the backstory was long and convoluted, the naming of both characters, groups, and locations was hard to remember and often sounded kind of hokey. (see: Correctors of Abomination and Dyzm’nd). There were a few instances in which I caught missing words, and sometimes entirely made-up words (that were treated as if they weren’t made up… see: bastages). Sometimes the punctuation was questionable and words were overused (delicacies seemed to be quite common in their universe). The dialogue seemed forced and reminded me entirely too much of some early episodes of Star Trek… just, overwhelmingly dramatic and impersonal. At times the author seemed to be holding the reader’s hand, explaining or qualifying events in such a way that it sucked the impact and tension out of the scene.

All of these things were small in and of themselves, but when compacted down into the first 6% of the story…. it was too much. When the book came to the point where the narrator was comparing the events in the book to the Jewish Holocaust (more than once), I put the book down. I couldn’t do it.

I think the idea behind writing a series of episodic stories that fall into a larger story arc (as with TV episodes) is an intriguing idea… but there were too many times where I sat back and questioned the logic of the characters, the science behind the world building, and the quality of the writing. It shouldn’t be that difficult to read 6% into a book. I didn’t feel sucked into the story or engaged by the narrative. It was all right—but it wasn’t enough to balance out the less attractive aspects of the writing, and in the end I couldn’t finish the book.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s someone out there that will eat this series up with a spoon…. it just wasn’t for me. I think to really get into the book you’re going to need a deep love for the science fiction as a genre, and the ability to turn off your inner science geek. If the accuracy of the science in science fiction is something you need to get through a novel, this isn’t going to be for you—but I think if you can turn that off and just enjoy the drama and entertainment value of the story, you’ll probably be able to enjoy it a lot more than I did.

Book Review: Dead Girl Walking

review-cover-dead girl walking

Title: Dead Girl Walking [Royal Reaper 1]

Author: Ruth Silver

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star




Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she’s brutally murdered.

Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death.


I hate giving one-star reviews. I loathe it… but I simply could not get through this book. The cover was gorgeous, the synopsis was interesting, and I was excited when I picked up my ARC copy of Dead Girl Walking by Ruth Silver. Despite my predisposition towards reading YA novels on a regular basis, it did not take me long to realize that I was probably the worst possible reader choice when it came to picking up this book.

This book got a lot of 5-star reviews before it picked it up, so I was expecting a spectacular, in-depth read… but that isn’t what I got. I got a familiar read instead. The plot was uncomfortably similar to another series from a few years back (which just happens to be one of my favorite series), and while I hate to compare books (and so I will not name the series here), the two are remarkably alike. Both series contain a girl who by unfortunate circumstances is killed, and finds herself invited into the ranks of the reapers. Both have younger sisters of about the same age… both main characters chafe against the new rules of being reapers… both take on new identities and appearances… and unfortunately, their method of reaping, how they get their reaping notices, etc, is all nearly identical.  The difference, unfortunately for this novel, is that the older series thrives on it’s in-depth characterization, gripping drama, and world building. Dead Girl Walking contains none of that.

The main character, Ophelia, is entitled in a way that isn’t pleasant: she isn’t aware of how entitled she is. She takes her status in society and wealth as if it were normal, and despite her constant protests that she knows what it is like to be a commoner, she really has no clue. She holds no accountability for the danger she put herself in, the heartbreak she brought to her family, or the job of being a reaper. She’s barely been a reaper for a few hours, and after having the importance of her new job explained to her (and having signed a contract), she is flippant about her obligations. I found it incredibly difficult to relate to her, or even like her.

As she unraveled it, the scroll revealed her first reap. “Absolutely not.” She was not ready for this; she would never feel ready. She rolled the scroll up and shoved it back into her stocking. “It’s your lucky day, Asher Smoot. I’m not taking your soul.”

The other characters faired no better. Though I was given their names and genders, three chapters past their introduction, I still knew nothing about them. Not what they looked like, their ages, their personalities… nothing. Other than Ophelia/Leila, the cast of the book seemed to be present because Ophelia/Leila needed someone to bounce conversations and actions off of. They felt like stand-ins instead of real people. I was given no sense of their personalities, nor what they thought of the main character. They were just names on a page.

I managed to labor through the first quarter of this book, and to be honest, the story seemed to skim by on the bare minimum of content. The world-building is remarkably absent, and was set in a fantasy world for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Other than the fact that it provided the opportunity for the main character to be a princess and for everyone to run around in period clothing and ride horses… there was no lore to fill out the world. This story could have just as easily been placed in a contemporary setting, and with the exception of the main character becoming an Heiress instead of a Princess, there wouldn’t have been much of a difference.

The characters were 1-dimensional, and the descriptions of… well… anything really, are completely missing. Breaks in scenes were treated as if the story just went on from paragraph to paragraph, with no clear delineations of a change in time or location. Sometimes, characters actions seemed out of place or overblown for what was happening, and unfortunately, the reader is not privy to any of the in-head thought processes that would have served to help ground Ophelia’s actions in reality.

“Why can’t we get a carriage?” she fussed.

“Only the royal and wealthy have carriages, which neither of us are. You’ll learn to ride, just like the rest of us.” Violetta took off with Leila gripping her from behind.

Approaching the ocean, they slowed.

Thought this is marketed as a Young Adult novel, in the end, the writing was simplistic and bare-bones, and seemed more reminiscent of a Middle-Grade or children’s book rather than something marketed to teenagers. Though the narrative was grammatically correct and punctuated appropriately, it was written in the most basic of forms. It would probably make for an easy read, but seems almost as if it’s been dumbed down for an age range that doesn’t need to be talked down to. The premise of this book was good. There was a lot of promise in the synopsis and idea behind the story, but in the end, the story fell short of my expectations. In my opinion, the book was off the mark for it’s intended audience, and lacked substantial content. I really wish there had been more meat on the bones of the story…. more characterization, more personality, more description.

Would I read it again? No. Would I recommend it? Maybe for teenagers that don’t commonly read. The narrative style of this book is very simple and lacks the complexity an avid reader would enjoy. I’m sure there are many teens out there that may enjoy this book, but as someone who reads 100+ books a year, I found I had difficulty sinking in. I’ve read some amazing YA books this year that were full of complexity and characterization, and unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. I truly wish I’d loved this book more than I did. I don’t think it was written poorly, but perhaps not appropriately for it’s reader base. I didn’t find it as engaging as I’d hoped, and in the end, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Four Reasons I Didn’t Finish Your Book


What makes a reader throw your book across the room? Well, I can’t speak for everyone out there, but I’d like to give you a little insight.  Lately I’ve been reading quite a few books, and a shameful amount of them have been rated with 1 or 2 stars—most of those reviews will be coming out on my blog shortly, so keep your eyes peeled!

I hate 1 and 2 Star reviews. Let’s get that straight right off the bat. A 2 Star review means that I literally couldn’t find a single positive thing to say about a book. A 1 Star review is the kiss of death—it means that a book was so awful that I couldn’t push myself to finish reading it.  I try not to let these reviews happen. If I dislike a book, generally I’ll set it aside for a few days and come back later. Sometimes this is procrastination in writing those dreadful 1 and 2 Star reviews, but I tell myself that it’s because I want to be sure that I’m not rating a book badly just because I’m tired, or not into reading at the moment. Occasionally, this works and I can pick a book back up and finish it, but usually my first impression stands. Sometimes books are just bad.

Giving 1 and 2 Star reviews makes me cringe. I write, and I know a lot of authors, so giving low-score reviews feels like I’ve just told someone their literary baby is ugly and stupid. I don’t enjoy doing it—but I pride myself on being an honest reviewer, and sometimes that means calling literary babies ugly and stupid. Sometimes they just are, and the absolute worst thing about that, is that the author never expects it.

So, after writing yet another 1-Star review last night, I decided to come up with a list of reasons why I may give someone a low-score review and give you a bit of a check list to look over. Maybe it will help someone avoid the painful blow of the unexpected 1 and 2 Star reviews.

Technical Errors

The number one reason I’ll throw a book across a room is technical errors. You need a professional editor. Hands down. No exceptions. It’s not okay to publish your book at a point where I can open it up and find more than one glaring error per page (and I’m being generous here). If you cannot construct a complete sentence, you have no business publishing. The last book I threw out had 80 (yes I counted) comma issues in the first chapter. I wish I were kidding. They were misused, and left out in almost every sentence—and a misplaced comma can change the entire meaning of what you’re writing. It drove me nuts.

Bad Dialogue

You cannot write your dialogue as if it were narrative. Think about it for a moment before you nod your head and agree with me—because most people don’t realize they’re doing it. People don’t speak like narrative. They speak in stilted half-sentences with pauses, fumbles, and stutters. They don’t speak in long monologues (because people would interrupt them!), and they don’t speak in poetic, constructed sentences. It’s not realistic! Take a minute, and put quotation marks around this paragraph. See what I mean? It’s awful. If I were to turn this into dialogue, it would go something like this:

“You can’t write dialogue like narrative. Seriously—quit shaking your head. Stop!” I held up a hand and let the moment hang until I was sure I had the audience’s attention. “People ramble and screw up, and…well… whatever, you know what I mean. We aren’t perfect,” I said. “Monologues are something cartoon villains do, not real people.”

Dialogue is personal… familiar, and usually thrown around in it’s simplest, most direct form. It’s full of emotions, actions, and personality—and while you can argue that narrative too should be full of emotions, actions, and personality, it isn’t the same as dialogue. Dialogue breaks the grammar rules, and that’s okay!

You should always read your dialogue out loud when you write it to make sure that it sounds natural. If you can’t get through a bit of dialogue without cringing, you’re doing it wrong. The side effect, of course, is that your characters will start to sound silly—and not in a good way. Silly isn’t good when you’re writing a paranormal thriller or a murder mystery.

Weak Writing

You’ve heard it, but I’m going to say it again: Show, don’t Tell. It’s a hard thing to master, and I’ve written articles about it before—so click the link, I’m not going to reiterate—but the general gist is: I don’t want you to tell me how your character feels, or what they realize. It’s boring. I want your character to react to how they’re feeling and realizing. Example:

Suddenly, I realized that this was it–the end—last chance. I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to tell him how I felt. I’d pined over Cole for the last four years, and now I had four seconds to condense that all down into something audible. I told myself I could do this. I had to. I took a deep breath. “Cole—“ It had taken me so long to speak, that by the time I said his name, he was gone. I’d stalled too long, and the four seconds had passed.

That was telling. This is showing:

Shit. No more chances. How do you condense four years of longing into four seconds?

Deep breath, Jamie.

“Cole—“  but four seconds had already passed.

Too late.

Word count difference? 65. Same message, but more direct, and with a lot more tension. I didn’t need those 65 words to tell you what was going on. Yes, weak writing pads your word count nicely, but it also sucks the tension out of your writing. It doesn’t matter how high your word count is if your readers get so bored that they put your book down in the first chapter.

Writing doesn’t necessarily need to be bare bones, but it shouldn’t spend 10 minutes meandering around before coming to the point. I want to know what’s going on, and I don’t want to spend an entire chapter figuring out that the whole point was to tell me something you could have said in one sentence. Be concise. Get to the point. Spend your word count on something more important than “I realized…”

Absurd Choices

If nothing else, your story needs to make sense. I’m not saying you can’t have crazy things in your novel. You want talking dragons? Fine. What I’m talking about is your character’s actions and dialogue. Their choices need to make sense. Now this doesn’t mean that every character in the book has to understand their choices, but your audience definitely should. I recently read a book where this was a problem. Let me set it up for you:

The main character was a princess who’s father, the King, had recently died. As the only heir to the throne, she needed to have a coronation. Unfortunately, the author chose to have the King’s funeral and the Princess’ coronation held not only on the same day, but in the same room, at the same moment. “Why? Why is this a thing?” I asked myself. I couldn’t help but think that this wasn’t normal.

If the King dies, you have a grand, stately funeral. Yes, you may throw a coronation the same day for the Princess, but you should give it a few hours. Let the Princess, and the kingdom mourn their King. The coronation should also be a grand ceremony… this is something that the people of the Kingdom are going to want to know about. Unfortunately, the author of this book choose to have no ceremony. The Princess signed a document, put the crown on her head, and then walked out of her own coronation/Father’s funeral.

I was shocked. I mean—really? She walked out? The series of events lead to too many questions and didn’t make logical sense. The direct result is that I shook my head and said “WTF?”

Another example is from another book that got a 1 Star rating. Growing up, the main female lead had been told by her grandmother that she should cut her hair. We’re talking years and years. Her mother too, was told throughout her life that she should cut her hair. It was odd. Whatever. As the story drags on, the main female lead learns that she is not entirely Human, and her hair gives off a smell that attracts Shifters to her.  She doesn’t want Shifters to find her—it’s imperative that they don’t. What does she do? She creates a complicated magical potion to mask her smell for a few hours.

Soak that in.

Why didn’t she just cut her hair like everyone has been asking her to? At one point she even says that she doesn’t particularly care about her hair, and will cut it off if she needs to…. but still uses the potion. *throws hands into the air*

Your character’s choices in action and dialogue should make sense.

Everything Else

Just about everything else that can be wrong with a book isn’t book-breaking. Yes, sometimes one-dimensional characters can be annoying. Stupid, impulsive characters can be annoying too—but rarely do these make me throw a book across the room. They may lower the star rating, but never into the 1-2 Star range. If you can master the four points above, you’re going to get at least a 3-Star review. If you can’t master at least two of the points above, you have no business sending your book to reviewers. We are tough critics. We read dozens, if not hundreds of books a year—if you think we aren’t going to notice these things in your writing, you are sorely mistaken.

I’ll read just about everything. I don’t care about the genre, the synopsis, or whether you’re an Indie Author or someone who’s got an agent and a publisher.

Couldn’t. Care. Less.

I just want to get through the first chapter of your book without wanting to throw your literary baby at your head. Low expectations.