Friday, September 4, 2015

Masquerade by Hannah Fielding Giveaway! (Open internationally!)

Masquerade (Andalucían Nights #2)
Hannah Fielding

From the award-winning author of The Echoes of Love. Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun...

A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire.

Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy's double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Luz must decide what she truly desires as glistening Cádiz, with its enigmatic moon and whispering turquoise shores, seeps back into her blood. Why is she so drawn to the wild and magical sea gypsies? What is behind the old fortune-teller’s sinister warnings about ‘Gemini’? Through this maze of secrets and lies, will Luz finally find her happiness… or her ruin?

Masquerade is a story of forbidden love, truth and trust. Are appearances always deceptive?


Books à la Mode is giving away two print copies of Masquerade—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is the most romantic thing that someone has ever done for you?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Hannah and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the author—a huge thank you to the lovely Hannah Fielding!
Giveaway ends September 18th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open internationally—woohoo! That means anyone in the world can enter, provided you have a verifiable mailing address.
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

If Only You Knew by Kristan Higgins Giveaway! (US only)

If Only You Knew
Kristan Higgins

Sisterhood in all its drama, hilarity, and tears is at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins's thoroughly captivating new novel, featuring the wit and romance that readers have come to expect from the much-loved creator of the Blue Heron series.

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected... especially since his new wife seems to want to be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this isn’t helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life... and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, a guy who’s utterly irresistible and completely distant at the same time.

Unfortunately, Rachel’s idyllic marriage is imploding after she discovers her husband sexting with a colleague. She always thought she’d walk away in this kind of situation, but her three daughters have her reconsidering, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example; to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood.

Both Rachel and Jenny will have to come to terms with the past and the present, and find a way to get what they want most of all.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of If Only You Knew—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
If you were in a dilemma similar to Jenny's—in which you found out your sister's husband was cheating on her—what steps of action would you take? Or would you rather walk away from such a situation?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Kristan and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends September 17th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Vienna by William S. Kirby Giveaway! (US only)

William S. Kirby

It started as nothing more than a one-night stand...

Justine is an A-list fashion model on a photo shoot in Europe. Adored by half the world, she can have whomever she wants, but she's never met anyone like the strange English girl whose bed she wakes up in one morning.

Vienna is an autistic savant, adrift in a world of overwhelming patterns and connections only she can see. Socially awkward and inexperienced, she's never been with anyone before, let alone a glamorous supermodel enmeshed in a web of secrets and intrigue.

When Justine's current beau is murdered in the bathroom of her hotel room, she suddenly finds herself thrown into the middle of a deadly conspiracy focusing on a set of antique wooden mannikins—the same ones that are the centerpieces of the photo shoot.

What secret do the mannikins hide, and why is it worth killing over?

Drawn together by an attraction neither of them can explain, Justine and Vienna are pursued across Europe by paparazzi, tabloid headlines... and the mystery of Vienna's own shadowy past, which holds the key to everything.

Inspired by a classic Sherlock Holmes story, William S. Kirby's Vienna reimagines Holmes and Watson for the 21st century.


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Vienna—yay!!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What is your favorite song lyric?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. William and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks at Pure Textuality and Tor Books!
Giveaway ends September 15th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Interview with Emma Chase, Author of Sustained + Giveaway! (US/Can only!)

I'd like to welcome the lovely Emma Chase, to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Sustained, the long-anticipated sequel to Overruled, from Gallery Books!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Emma! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

By day, Emma Chase is a devoted wife and mother who resides in a small town in New Jersey. By night she is a keyboard crusader, toiling away the hours to bring her colorful characters and their endless antics to life. She has a long standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

Emma is an avid reader. Before her children were born she was known to consume whole books in a single day. Writing has also always been a passion and with the 2013 release of her debut romantic comedy, Tangled, the ability to now call herself an author is nothing less than a dream come true.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which just hit shelves last week:

Emma Chase, New York Times bestselling author of the Tangled series, returns with a brand new funny, romantic, sexy story!

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy and Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her... and the kids.

And that—that, I know how to do.

Describe Sustained in six words (or less!).

Fun, sexy, heartwarming, hilarious, sweet, memorable.

How did you arrive at writing romance? Are there any other genres you’d like to try your hand at, or any you want to stay away from?

I started writing romance because that was mostly what I read. I love books that I’ll smile thinking about after I’ve read them and romance fits that bill perfectly.

I would love to try my hand at horror one day. I was a big horror movie kid growing up and every once in a while I’ll get the urge to write something spooky, dark and thrilling.

I adore reading historical romances, but I’m not sure I could write one. I’d be too caught up in the research—the clothes, the mannerisms, the endearments and phrases—to ever actually write the book.

I agree; writing a historical seems like too much work! What was the inspiration for the book?

The idea for the series came when I was in Washington DD for a book signing; I fell in love with the vibrant energy of the city. The three male leads in the series all have very distinct personalities: Stanton is the southern charmer, Jake the serious protector, and Brent, the carefree playboy.

With Jake being the tough, silent type, I thought it’d be fun to throw a sweet, beautiful woman and a bunch of precocious kids at him and see what happened. 

As a huge fan of first lines, I'd love to hear the first line of Sustained. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
I don’t use an alarm clock.
It’s funny, because I didn’t think too deeply about it at the time, but these few words really say so much about who Jake Becker is. He’s very regimented, disciplined—even in his sleep. He’s also very self-sufficient, an “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself” type of guy. He doesn’t like to depend on anyone; he’s the kind of man other people depend on instead.

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

I finished writing my first book, Tangled, when the Fifty Shades phenomenon first began. It gave me the idea to try sending my manuscript out to publishers. I received about a dozen rejection letters, and got to the point where I thought maybe the story just wasn’t good. My husband pointed out that though the manuscript had been rejected, the feedback was pretty positive and that I should keep trying. So I did—and within a few weeks, I’d had three offers from small houses to publish my book.

Throughout the process I revised my query letter and summary several times. There’s a lot of information online about what makes an eye catching query letter and for me, this was very helpful.

Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?

None of my characters are based on one individual person I know. But pieces of my husband and friends definitely make their way into their personalities—particularly with my male characters. Sustained has the most real-to-life inspired situations, in that a lot of my children went into the McQuaid kids and many of Jake’s interactions with them were inspired by my own experiences with them.

Which character from Sustained was most difficult to write?

None of them were really difficult. One area that was tricky was how much page time the kids should get. This is a romance so I didn’t want it to be all about squabbling children and changing diapers. But it was important to show Jake falling in love with Chelsea and the family as a whole.

It turned out wonderful, because each of the kids has their own personality which brings something different out in Jake. And his interactions with them—the honest, tender way he deals with them is very entertaining and attractive.

What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author?

My biggest strength is writing from the male point of view. There’s a freedom when I’m in a male character’s head that makes the writing so humorous and snappy.

My biggest weakness is procrastination.

Who DOESN'T have that weakness? :) What's the greatest thing you ever learned?

Never pass up an opportunity to try new things.

How do you react to a negative or harsh review to your books?

Everyone has their own experiences and opinions. Reviews are feedback on the work—but they’re also a reflection of the tastes of the reviewer. I’ve read reviews of books that I love—that other people absolutely hate, and books that I thought were “meh” that others adore. The world would be horrendously boring if we all liked the same thing. When you know that, negative reviews become par for the course.

Blog babes, click "Read more" to find out Emma's random favorites, her best writing and personal advice, and what makes Sustained stand out as a book from all the rest. We're also hosting a giveaway for a finished copy of Sustained, so you don't want to miss that either!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

4 Heart Review: How to Bake a Man by Jessica Barksdale Inclán

How to Bake a Man
Jessica Barksdale Inclán

Page Count: 280

Release Date: October 21st 2014 (paperback edition)
Publisher: Ghostwoods Books
Source: Complimentary advanced reading copy provided by tour publicist via publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, TLC Book Tours and Ghostwoods Books!)

When 27-year-old Becca Muchmore drops out of grad school, all she has left to fall back on is her baking. Ignoring her mother’s usual barrage of disapproval and disappointment, she decides to start a small business hand-delivering her wares. A friend introduces her to an office of hungry lawyers, who agree to give her a try. Her lizard-booted neighbor Sal is happy to help out when he can, and almost before she knows it, Becca’s Best is up and running.

Before she can settle into a routine, things get complicated. The office ogress could easily be Becca’s sister and has absolutely no patience with cookies or other frivolities. Even worse, her boyfriend is the man of Becca’s dreams—kind, funny, successful, and brain-meltingly gorgeous. As the dark undercurrents threaten to pull her down, Becca swiftly finds herself neck-deep in office politics, clandestine romance, and flour. Saving her business (and finding true love) is going to take everything she’s got, and more.

Packed with charm, sparkling humor, and a genuinely unforgettable cast, this delicious tale of a woman struggling to find her path just might be Jessica Barksdale Inclán’s finest novel to date.


Coming-of-age stories are typical for YA audiences or teenage characters, but when they involve late-twenty-somethings in the backdrop of the bustling Bay Area, they unfold into an entirely different genre. Add a self-doubting underdog—our protagonist, Becca Muchmore—who has the power to cheer anyone up with her incredible baked goods, as well some ridiculously corny mishaps she encounters on her path to finding true love, and you've got How to Bake a Man, Jessica Barksdale Inclán's latest novel.

I'm new to this author, but was drawn to How to Bake a Man because it reads very contemporary—very feathery and cheerful and cutesy. The lightness of mood, however, comes at the expense of substance and depth, which this book thinks it has—slightly worse of an offense than a book that intentionally has no substance at all.

There are so many issues with the plot in terms of believability and (personal) tolerability, even for a romantic comedy-sque novel:

1. Becca Muchmore is a grad school dropout experiencing a crippling crisis after a terrible breakup.
Have we ever encountered anything more cliché?

2. To make ends meet, she starts a baked goods company, since baking has always been her lifelong passion. Immediately and effortlessly, she is picked up by the town's most prestigious law firm and asked to cater for their entire office; her business is a success right away.

3. At work, Becca meets Jennifer, the "ogress" of an antagonist of the story, who is her skinnier, prettier, smarter, wealthier, and more successful doppelgänger. She develops an obsession with Jennifer.
It is very uncomfortable.

4. Becca begins to suspect that Jennifer's equally perfect boyfriend is her soul mate. Her, as in Becca's, absolutely not Jennifer's.
Unrealistic dialogue and some very heavy petting occur.

5. Becca realizes she is terribly, terribly wrong about the soul mate thing... but all's okay because her actual soul mate turns out to be (at the last minute) her best friend. It was him all along! Surprise central!
As if the plot wasn't enough of a mess already.

Being a romance fanatic myself, I don't say this often... but the main love story should have been kept out of this book entirely. It would have made for a much cleaner, sharper novel about the coming-of-age of an unlikely heroine who finds herself, along with her true passions, by first being slammed with the harsh reality that is life. Instead, How to Bake a Man went the typical, overused route where Becca Muchmore faces a few career-related and personal complications (which, judging by the degree of their silliness and lack of depth, would only happen in some chick flick... or in this book) but instead ends up finding the love of her life in an unexpected—but entirely obvious—place.

Becca's obsession with Jennifer, her lookalike, is also really, really weird, and I don't understand how it even fits in with the main plot. There's so much concentration on this strange coincidence of her meeting a woman that could be her twin, that I thought the book was heading in the direction of The Parent Trap; alas, the situation didn't really give me such satisfaction, as it didn't have much purpose. 

What's so ridiculously unappealing to me is how lacking in dimension and originality all the secondary characters are. They are written with such forced humor that they become laughable tropes. The only non-singular character is Becca, whom I'm conflicted about because I at once hate her and like (not love) her. On one hand she's delusional and really slow-witted—neither lovable nor admirable—but on the other, she's genuine and klutzy in an endearing way. Inclán could have strengthened the book immensely just by revising Becca's character (not to mention that of the rest).

The saving grace of the book is how much attention is given to all the desserts Becca bakes. Scattered among the chapters, are anecdotes on how each of her sugary, buttery treats is meaningful to her, along with full recipes. The absurd story made me really angry, but the recipes left me starving.

I now have felt everything, having finally experienced what it means to be hangry.


Light-hearted tone, like a cheesy rom-com movie // Well paced // Inclán has a warm, attentive writing style that makes Becca, the narrator, seem more personable // Actual recipes from the story included!


My opinions are Becca are polarized; I find her at times endearing and at others, completely intolerable // Predictable friends-to-lovers romance subplot // Would have been better without the "happily ever after" romance, just as an adult coming-of-age novel // All secondary characters seem like plot devices rather than real people // Voice is easy to read, but tries WAY too hard to be funny... ends up being not even remotely funny


If you're in the mood for a cheesy contemporary romance whose premise will give any far-fetched soap opera a run for its money, you'd best give How to Bake a Man a try. Following the quarter-life crisis of a woman with little confidence but lots of baking vision, this friends-to-lovers story has an amusing story line, but is abundant in problems with characterization, voice, and authenticity. I like that Jessica Barksdale Inclán pursued a baking enthusiast's take on chick lit, but found it to be too all over the place to take seriously. I could have appreciated it more if it was satirical, extraordinarily well-written, or "packed with charm, sparkling humor, and a genuinely unforgettable cast" as advertised, but sadly, it was none of the above Americanflag

4 hearts: So-so; reading this book may cause wrinkles (from frowning so much) (x)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On Titles and Naming Characters by Scott Wilbanks, Author of The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster + Giveaway! (US only)

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster
Scott Wilbanks

Page Count: 400
Release Date: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Literary fantasy, Magical realism, Time travel

Annabelle Aster doesn’t bow to convention—not even that of space and time—which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.

Annie and Elsbeth’s search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery—and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen…and yet somehow already did.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

6 Heart Review: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple (Superlatives #2)
Jennifer Echols

Page Count: 336

Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Simon Pulse and Itching for Books!)

In this second book in the Superlatives trilogy from Endless Summer author Jennifer Echols, Harper and Brody think they’re an unlikely match—but the senior class says they belong together.

As yearbook photographer, Harper is responsible for those candid moments that make high school memorable. But her own life is anything but picture perfect. Her parents’ bitter divorce left her wondering what a loving relationship looks like. And ever since the senior class voted her and star quarterback Brody “Perfect Couple That Never Was,” her friends have been pushing her to ask Brody out.

Brody doesn’t lack female admirers, but Harper can't see herself with him. He’s confused about the match too. Yet they find themselves drawn together—first by curiosity about why the class paired them, then by an undeniable bond.

The trouble is, though they’re attracted to each other, they have a hard time getting along or even communicating well. If they’re the perfect couple, this shouldn’t be so difficult! Soon it becomes clear their class was wrong, and they throw in the towel. But they feel so changed from making the effort, they can’t forget each other. What if this match made in hell is the perfect couple after all?
We'd been in various advanced classes together since middle school, but the way he dressed made him look like he'd taken a wrong turn from the gym. That's how Brody had always been: grinning, a bit of a mess, and a world away from me.

Jennifer Echols's Superlatives series stands out to me because it follows three best friends, Tia, Harper, and Kaye, and their romantic lives—each book designated for each respective girl—in a modern-day high school setting. Contemporary YA romance is probably my favorite genre (ever!) so I quite enjoyed Biggest Flirts, which is Tia's story. Perfect Couple is Harper's story, and while it does contain the same youthful charm as the first book did, I didn't find myself enjoying it as much.

This book wasn't boring or hard to read in the least bit; overall, I got through it quickly and did not regret picking it up. It's just that I wasn't very invested in the main characters, whose realness was one of the primary strengths in Biggest Flirts.

Harper, our first-person narrator, is rather bratty and immature for being the smart one, which irritated me a lot. At first I was thrilled that this second book was told in her perspective since she's the bookworm of the three friends, but I found myself rolling my eyes at her so-called intelligence frequently. It's one thing for a protagonist to be Type A, but completely another for her to overreact at every "injustice" that she is slammed with and to have the most redundant obsessive tendencies-slash-paranoia. She isn't just anxious, but also a generally bad person: flighty, superficial, completely absorbed in what other people think of her and her social status, instantly in love with Brody even though she has a boyfriend.

I think I feel this harshly because she isn't just unlikable, but she's also weakly characterized. Echols doesn't give her enough of a personality or relatable voice, as she did with Tia. Harper's dialogue comes off as rather stilted and her point of view is very info dumpy.

The second-most annoying part of the book: the insta-love. There are SO many things I can contribute to this topic (considering ~80% of the romance novels I've read involve an undeveloped romance plot line) but I'll refrain from using this review as a ranting space. But literally, Harper has always known Brody as the hot unachievable athlete, but suddenly decides she's worthy of him because of the yearbook superlatives—because other people think so. Not because she discovers she likes him, or because she discovers he likes her, but because other people told her so. Being voted for Perfect Couple that Never Was (is that REALLY a thing, people? Really?? Anyone have that in their own yearbook?!) does not mean they're together... but Harper thinks it means they're immediately in a relationship. Unfortunately, Brody doesn't see it that way (as expected) even though he does find her attractive, which is where things go awry.

Speaking of Brody, he's fun, but still a rather flat and undeveloped character. The instant love may have been problematic, but in addition he was just too plain—nothing special. More importantly, I didn't feel he and Harper had any chemistry, despite their superlative nominations. The whole relationship, the basis of the novel, just didn't convince me. A poor romance plot could be justified by likable leads or tons of character development, but in Perfect Couple, I found none. Brody remains the same dull "hero" until the end of the book, and Harper the equally snooty "heroine."

One thing I do applaud is how Harper has other things going on at home; her attention isn't solely fixated on Brody. She feels tied down to her mom's B&B, rarely lending her time to do what SHE wants—which, okay, isn't the toughest family situation YA has ever encountered, but it's still a refreshing break from the hardly believable Brody mess. Eventually, being named to the Perfect Couple title with him makes her realize something more than her attraction: that her world is smaller than it needs to be since she is doing what other people want or expect, instead of exploring all her possibilities. I think this is a valid lesson that all young adults will learn at some point in their lives, so I'm glad it was a part of Harper's story.


Light, easy-flowing plot // Lots of drama (that every good high school romance needs) // Recurring characters (Tia, Sawyer, Will, etc.) make the cast seem more familiar, like revisiting old friends // Grounding and realistic lessons about teenage love, not just a formulaic boy-meets-girl story


Weak dialogue // Unremarkable and unrealistic plot // Harper is unlikable and melodramatic // Brody is unmemorable // No character development. At all // Internal and external conflicts are too disparate // Echols's style isn't anything to write home about // Disappointing after Book 1, Biggest Flirts


Fresh and entertaining yet still full of high school relationship drama, Perfect Couple is a decent continuation of the Superlatives series. Unlike the first book, whose characters really stood out and left an impression on me, this one seems more plot-driven—although admittedly, the plot itself isn't that strong either. I was more excited to revisit Tia and Will from Biggest Flirts in this book, and given the opportunity, I'd try Book 3 for Sawyer and Kaye, no doubt. While I am glad I got to read the second installment in this light-hearted romance series, I'm even gladder to leave Harper and Brody behind Americanflag

6 hearts: Decent for a first read, but I'm not going back; this book is decidedly average (whatever that means!) (x)