Thursday, January 2, 2020

Book Review | Watch A Career Implode in Real Time or, The Wrythe and the Reckoning

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Rating: 1 Star

Guys. This book is bad. So, so bad.

This post is long, but worth it.

You may or may not be aware that maybe a week and a half/two weeks ago or so, there was a huge uproar from the author where she attacked reviewers, called everyone shady, referred to a "Goodreads Mob" (there are t shirts now. I want one), and in general behaved like an ass-hat. I followed the drama on Twitter and let me tell you, it was very surreal watching a career implode in real time. The author went NUTS. Because people did not like her book. But here's the thing: the review that she went off on and was super snarky and rude on, was a review posted back in February of 2019. You can see it on Goodreads HERE (the review is from a Goodreads member named Rhonda, from Feb 6, 2019). It's not a mean review; it is critical, but constructively so. At no point did the reviewer speak in any way that was bullying or condescending. She tried several times to resolve the situation and was far more patient than I would have been, because this author was so far out of line, it's not even funny. The author then went on to show out, claiming that the reviewer had only read part of the manuscript on NetGalley, that ARCs should not be reviewed anywhere but NetGalley, that the reviewers should not have uploaded it to Goodreads, and a bunch of other bullshit that makes no sense.

FIRST OF ALL: ARCs submitted to NetGalley are books that are pretty much ready for publication. There may be typos, punctuation errors, etc, but ARCs are in no way the same thing as rough drafts. ARCs are books that do not need major plot revisions, and are all but good to go for the masses. This author submitted a rough draft to NetGalley and basically appears to have used it as a beta service.

Say what?

No, honey. No, no, no.

Rough drafts get workshopped. Rough drafts get entrusted to close friends who can edit, and can tell you what works and what doesn't. Rough drafts get edited by someone you pay to do that, and is CRUCIAL to the process.

Second of all, NetGalley wants users to have platforms where they review books and post said reviews in order to drum up attention for publication day. That's the whole point of NetGalley. NetGalley provides places for reviewers to link their social media platforms. They even have a button that allows reviewers to post their review directly guessed it, GOODREADS. It is not only encouraged, it is expected whenever possible.

Thirdly, no one "illegally uploaded" this book to Goodreads. Books are often added automatically to the database. I can't tell if this chick doesn't understand Goodreads either, but you can not actually read a book from Goodreads. Her book was not uploaded. A page was created to represent her book, where reviewers can leave ratings and reviews, like literally every other book on the planet (or darn close, anyway.)

Naturally, I could not resist taking a look at the book because, holy shit, this was a meltdown of epic proportions. Like, she could not get herself together. I get that your book is your baby, you spend years working on it, you pour your heart and soul into it, you want to succeed. But here's the thing: Once you publish, it is not your baby anymore. You are opening up your work to be critiqued and if you don't want criticism, then don't publish. Not everyone will like your work. Some will even hate it. That is why authors (especially new authors) are told to never ever ever look at reviews, never Google yourself, DO NOT GO THERE. There were so many people, both reviewers and authors, trying to calm her down, to point out how her actions were reflecting poorly on her, how attacking reviewers is crossing a huge boundary, and so on. Some fellow authors were all but begging her to step away.

And you know what she did to everyone trying to help her not destroy her career before it got started?

She blocked them.

After watching this unfold, someone mentioned in a Tweet that they had gotten the book for free so I wandered on over to Amazon and wouldn't you know, there is was for Kindle Unlimited. I snapped it up and the rest is history.

Except this will not end there, because I not only read the book, I live-Tweeted quotes as I was reading, and a jolly little group joined me in constantly going 'wtf does that even mean?!" and sending me GIFs to encourage me to keep going, as well as providing comic relief.

Because, the book is bad. Like, reeeeally bad. The editor in me almost threw the Kindle within the first few paragraphs. I thought my brain was going to explode. Luckily, the GIFs and encouragement kept coming, and it only took a week or so to read that entire fucking book and let me tell you, if you want a clusterfuck train wreck, this is exactly what you are looking for.

For starters, the writing is tedious and pedantic. It is one of the most boring books I have read, where ALMOST NOTHING happens in the 800+ pages. The writing is stilted and formal, very robotic-like. In fact, we often joked that it was like aliens or robots were sent to Earth to study human language, and still managed to get it terribly wrong. I also likened it to being written by a robot, but that robot had been programmed to write it by another robot, so it ended up sounding ridiculous anyway. We get so many unnecessary details about simple things, like walking across the room, or taking part in a conversation. Every. Little. Detail.

There are tons of commas all over the place, often everywhere except where they should be. Lots of misused words also. I can not even tell you how many dudes were assholes and she referred to them simultaneously as gentlemen and scoundrels. Seriously. We are also regularly given these absolute bat-shit insanely long descriptions of things that don't even matter. Like, she goes on and on describing the characters wandering around. Legit. The main character, Lina, wanders A LOT. She wanders around her hometown/village/city of Deerfield. BTW, despite only having 250 residents, the village has a community center where there is a quilting club that her mother is a member of.

A community center. That's how the characters describe it.

She then proceeds to wander around Boston every day after work, with her BFF Xander who is secretly in love with her, even though it was not a secret because the book is utterly predictable and boring.

AND don't even get me started on all the OTHER historical inaccuracies.

Just kidding, of course I am going to lay them all out, because they are RIDICULOUS.

If you have read my blog for a while, you know that history is my thing. You also know that I don't read a lot of historical fiction, especially about the periods I love, because too often authors will change up things we know, make shit up about things we don't, and all around just fuck it all up.

So, we have a lot to cover. AND WE HAVE NOT EVEN GOTTEN TO THE HUMAN-MONSTER YET! More on this in a bit.

I consulted my audience from the live-Tweet storm where I quoted the book as I read it, and asked what most stood out to them in regards to these inaccuracies. I had several in mind and was not at all surprised to see that we were all petty much floored by the same nonsense.

(Something I forgot to mention: the book is set in the 1850s.)

1. At one point the main character, Lina, gets a job at a textile mill after her family moves to Boston. But this mill is special. Even though the mill treats workers badly by upping quotas and paying them less than before, every day THEY GET A FREE AND HEALTHY LUNCH. Yes, the mill provides fresh fruits and a square meal every single day. Perhaps the mill should have been placed in Silicon Valley instead. Workers also got two breaks, though it is not clear if those breaks were in addition to lunch, or lunch was one of the two.

2. The daily schedules of the characters, both when they lived on their farm in Deerfield, and then when they moved to Boston. They had free time and extra money, even though they were poor because they lost their house in Deerfield and that's why they had to move to begin with. They were described as doing chores at random times day or night on the farm, had no chores when they moved to the city, and always had money to purchase food in sports bars.

3. Okay, so they were not called sports bars, but they fit that description. Lina and her BFF Xander would wander around the city for hours after work, seeing the city, and would dine at various diners, cafes, etc. They even got coffee TO GO! FROM A BARISTA! SHE USES THAT WORD! A WORD NOT INVENTED UNTIL THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY! Not to mention, Xander took Lina to a billiards hall, otherwise known as a saloon. Women would not have entered these establishments unless they were prostitutes or working there. But never mind, Lina can do whatever she wants and ignore all social norms and expectations. Which she did. All the time.

4. Speaking of extra money, Lina and her family read dozens and dozens of periodicals. When they lived in their tiny village of Deerfield (the one with the community center, remember?), their local mercantile stocked newspapers and periodicals from AROUND THE COUNTRY. Including many feminist-leaning publications. Because those existed in the 1850s. Along with feminism. Maybe if the family would have spent less money on their newspapers, they could have kept their house.

5. There was mention of an all-women's medical college in Missouri. Again, in the 1850s. In fact, though there were not a lot, there were all-women's college in existence, according to the characters. Again, it was set in the 1850s.

6. Despite not having computers or the Internet, or any technology at all to help locate information, Lina was always able to find what she needed at the library. Libraries did not exist like that in the 1850s. I just can't even.

7. When Lina and Xander finally get engaged, Lina shops for a wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. And employs a wedding consultant. And has a tiered wedding cake, and a reception. Despite the fact that in that period, weddings were typically in the morning and the reception would have been breakfast.

8. One of my personal faves, was how a recruiter from a textile mill in Massachusetts came to their tiny town of Deerfield, New Hampshire (I think New Hampshire, I honestly can't remember) to recruit Lina's sister Abby to work at the textile mill there. A RECRUITER! And on top of that, Abby was given two months to get to Massachusetts to start her new job!

9. Transportation is hilariously ridiculous. All transports are described en masse as 'vehicles'. Boston has wagons, trams, omnibuses, horsecars, etc. I mean, seriously.

There are so, so , so many more, but these are just some of the highlights. Now let's get on to the one aspect of the story that could have been interesting, but ended up being a gigantic failure, just like everything else in the book: the human-monster.

There are all these random news reports of people being attacked by someone or something roaming in the forests. People describe it as being human-like, but the murder victims have scratches and gouges and all that. But there is hardly anything about this aspect of the story, and it is not until the latter part of the book when Abby and Lina are returning from a random ball a few hours away that their coach is attacked by the human-monster. Sadly, Lina and Abby have a coach driver who was prepared for such an encounter, by having his shot gun with him, and they survive. Up to this point in the story Abby (and pretty much everyone else) has been extremely skeptical that this human-monster thing is even real, and even after it attacks their coach, she thinks that the coach driver over-reacted. Throughout the entire book, the one part that could have been marginally interesting is treated as a myth or legend, despite the fact that people keep going into the forests and getting murdered in the same way. So...yeah. That's all I've got on this human-monster thing. Apparently Lina and Xander wandering around the city was far more important.

This book tries to do too much and fails miserably in every aspect. Lina and her family are all these super progressive, forward-thinking people who are feminists and abolitionists. I think the only thing the author gets right is that the Underground Railroad was referred to as such in that time period. But then we get all these reports of Lina sewing items "for the Underground Railroad". Okay, great, if we are going to get all this excruciatingly detailed info on Lina's walks around Boston day after day, let us know what she is making. But nope, it is only that same phrase over and over.

There is also no real ending, because the author intends this to be a duology. It literally just...ends. I read the entire book, all 813 pages as it is described on Amazon, and honest-to-God, it ended with Lina and Xander staring off into a sunset.

This book is not a love story. It is not a supernatural story. It is not a progressive story about a young woman far ahead of her time. It is a clusterfuck vanity project by an author who has no respect for her potential audience.


  1. I'm thinking that 1* was generous here. I'm also guessing that..... actual research wasn't part of her project idea?

    1. It was SO bad. SO SO BAD. I totally mean it when I said I could not have gotten through this drivel without help from my Twitter cheerleaders. It probably should be zero stars, you are right. Or negative five. It was so bad. And all of these long detailed descriptions of nothing, and flashbacks that went on for PAAAAAAAAAAGES. It was absolute garbage. And the lack of research - so infuriating. The author has ZERO understanding of the period. Blech.

    2. BTW - I have an historical novel coming up with..... Eleanor of Aquitaine in it.... as a murder suspect.... of Henry II's mistress Rosamund Clifford. I'm almost too afraid to review it... [lol]

    3. Um, yes, you stop right there and NEVER review such nonsense! Toss it in the trash! ;)

  2. I did see some of this on Twitter. It still amazes me when an author has a meltdown like this. It doesn't sound like she had much of a future in writing based on the reviews I am seeing for this book but I think it is safe to say that her career is over. I don't think that I could have read this one.

    1. It was really bad. And the unfortunate part is that with a good editor and some history lessons, it could have been a decent story. I so badly wanted to edit, the ENTIRE TIME I WAS READING. My 'reading group' is the only way I was able to finish the dreadful thing.

  3. So she found your review and did a review of your review, and I think it's even longer than this, lol. It's on her blog.

    1. Perhaps a review of her review will come into being in the future, tee-hee-hee


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