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Julie Doe

Reads like bad fanfic ***MAJOR SPOILERS***

Icebound: HarperImpulse Paranormal Romance (Mortals & Myths, Book 1) - Corinna Rogers

This reads like bad Supernatural Wincest fan-fic (and if you don’t know what that is, please please don’t go looking; the fact that I know what it is is attributable to friends who find it funny to send me the most appalling writing they can find on-line). The plot is thin, and the sex is constant, sometimes out-of-place and sometimes gratuitous. *****WARNING--MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW--WARNING***** Do not read further if you do not want to know the plot and resolution!!!!

From here on out, I will be using “frak” (ala Battlestar Galactica) instead of the word that it is an obvious replacement for. Here is the sum total of this book:

As it opens, Hero #1 (hereafter H1) is getting a blow job from someone who has spelled himself to look like Hero #2 (hereafter H2) at H1’s request because H1 just misses H2 soooo much. Note that H1 is Ice King’s Vassal, and the Ice King has taken his soul.

H1 goes out to fight big bad bug. H2 runs across big bad bug on his way home and pursues it to fight it. Short flashback to younger H1 and H2. H1 finds bug, knocks it out, and is preparing to kill it just as H2 shows up. H1 and H2 frak against a wall, while big bad bug wakes up and runs off. Nice job, guys.

H1 and H2 go to bar to see if anyone knows anything about big bad bug. Annoying chick casts horny spell and H1 and H2 have to frak to get it to stop. Seriously??

Short flashback to younger H1 and H2.

H1 and H2 go to church (H2 is Church Champion) to see if priest knows anything about big bad bug. H1 makes deal with Ice King to get his soul back he kills the big bad bug. Short flashback to younger H1 and H2. H2 gets cool dagger from priest. No leads on big bad bug.

Short flashback with fraking.

H1 and H2 go to Madame Jiri, a lizard-in-human-skin fortune-teller. Madame Reptile wants to procreate and apparently human DNA is compatible with lizard DNA (who knew, right?). H1 and H2 frak so that they can trade semen for a lead on the big bad bug. Yes, really. Semen. In exchange for news on the bug. Turns out big bad bug is at Ice King’s court. H1 knocks out H2 and runs home to the court alone.

H1 talks to Fire Queen on the way, offers her help. H1 rejects it, confronts Ice King. Ice King is a mite upset, strips H1’s power, and what follows is a long graphic non-consensual fraking scene (in other words: rape).

Short flashback to younger H1 and H2.

H2 wakes up, goes to the Ice King’s court, and fights his way in. H1 and H2 fight Ice King and kill him. H1 gets his soul back in the process. They go home and...you guessed it, frak (H1 apparently having no problem with this despite what JUST happened to him at the Ice King’s court).


Ok, so not much in the way of a plot, and may too much sex, much of which is not romantic but just simply fraking. It didn’t even come across as erotic--more like porn. I was also put off by the two calling each other “baby”. It is a far too effeminate and trivializing nickname for a man.

I would absolutely shocked if this book did not start life as a fanfic somewhere that later got pulled to publish. It just has that feel. This book only gets two stars (instead of one) because it was readable and entertaining, although in a bad train-wreck way.

Had such potential and then...

The Missing Place - Sophie Littlefield

This book has such potential, and I am sad that it didn’t live up to it. The beginning of the book is great. Colleen Mitchell flies to remote Lawton, ND, to search for her missing son, Paul, who has been working for one of the oil companies in the area, Hunter-Cole Energy. She immediately hooks up with Shay Capparelli, the mother of Taylor, Paul’s best friend, who is also missing. The two women start investigating the disappearance, taking on the local police, the oil workers and higher-ups, and even the folks on the nearby Indian reservation.

This part of the book is great. The writing is evocative. You really get a sense of the place, the people, and can appreciate the two women’s franticness to find their sons. The relationship between the women is complicated but interesting to watch develop. I loved this part of the book and the story.

Then, at about 70% of the way into the book, the fate of the two young men is discovered. And the book takes a hard left turn into WTF territory. Not WTF as in an implausible plot, actions, resolution, etc, but WTF as in “what the heck happened to the gritty mystery I was reading and why am I suddenly in a dull family drama?” All of the interesting elements of the problems surrounding Hunter-Cole, local tensions with the Native Americans, etc., are simply jettisoned, and the final 30% of the book meanders around (mostly) Colleen’s life in Boston in the aftermath, and the two women coming to terms with what happened. If felt like a huge bait-and-switch.

The first 70% of the book gets a hearty five stars. However, because of the side tracked, meandering ending, the final overall rating is 3-stars.


Last Chance To Fight - Ava Ashley

Boring is the best way to describe this book. Let me count the reasons:


It is told in alternating first-person chapters from Hunter’s and Anna’s point-of-view, but the “voice” of both characters sounds EXACTLY the same. And they both sound female.


The only real conflict in this story is with Anna’s former boyfriend showing up to cause some trouble. But even that, and a bit of Anna over-reacting to Hunter not telling her sooner about his daughter (even though Anna kept it a secret from him for quite some time that she couldn’t have kids) is about it. Other than that, Anna comes back to LA, sees Hunter, she’s hot for him, he’s hot for her, and they pick up where they left off nine years before. They start seeing each other and eventually Hunter proposes. And they live happily ever after.


Neither character really has any flaws, beyond Anna’s bit of over-reaction as noted above, but even that is dealt with in a page or two.


The writing was also pretty basic and sometimes amateurish. For example, there is a large info-dump from Anna’s perspective in the very beginning. Page after page--or rather, screen after screen since I was reading this on my Kindle--of why Anna had left LA before and gone to Australia and what had happened.... A good writer would have found a way to incorporate this into the narrative.


As a final note, I really wish that people who chose to write about MMA fighting actually knew something about MMA fighting. *sigh*

Quick easy read

Open Road Summer - Emery Lord

This was a quick, fun, if predictable, read. I chose it because I like stories about music and musicians, even though it was YA, which I don’t read all that much of. What made the book for me was the voice of the narrator, Reagan, who was delightfully sarcastic and feisty--in a good way, though, that didn’t make her unlikable--and a bit of a loner trying to find her way. It was a refreshing change of pace. The other two main characters, Lilah (the best friend) and Matt Finch (the boyfriend-by-the-end-of-the-book), were fairly stereotypical but still pleasant characters. The plot was, as I said above, fairly predictable. I did enjoy the characters interactions and the growth and change in the relationships throughout the book.

Falls victims to its own pretensions

Nothing in Particular - Kate Ledonne

My main problem with this book is the hypocrisy of the narrator, Kiera Graves. She, along with her little group of friends, is an outsider at her high school because of her music choices, manner of dress, etc. She rails against being judged for being different, and says, “we don’t think that being closed-minded about people, ideas, or music is very smart.” Yet throughout the whole book, she makes harsh judgement of others and is essentially “closed-minded” about them. She mocks both students and teachers. The other students are judged as either shallow, stuck-up jocks and cheerleaders or as outcasts such as herself. There was no middle ground. There were very few authentic-seeming characters.


Even worse, near the end of the book, Kiera turns her judgement on two guys who have been part of their little group, by criticizing their restaurant manners and claiming “you can’t take them anywhere” and “maybe they’ll get girlfriends who can help train them a bit”. While such a judgement could be made in a more supportive way, Kiera’s internal voicing of these thoughts came across as petty. So, I wanted to like Kiera, but I really struggled with her.


The music references also got a bit old. We get it: she and her friends are into music. But we don’t need to hear about it over and over and over and over...what posters are on the walls or that she is wearing her “Skinny Puppy” t-shirt, etc. (And come on, Ms.LeDonne, trashing Bon Jovi? Really. :) )

Another great installment in the series

Black Arts - Faith Hunter

I have been reading this series from the very beginning and the latest installment certainly does not disappoint. Other reviewers have summarized the plot, so I won’t repeat that; I’ll just mention some of the things that I liked about this book:


1. The Everheart’s are back. I really like Molly, Evan, and the kids. In this book, Molly is in trouble, and Evan is suitably worried and angry and protective. The kids are adorable, although, in what I assume is foreshadowing future books, Angie is starting to exhibit scary-strange powers.


2. Jane’s relationships with two of the key men in her life change. Leo admits something to Jane that surprises her, and Ricky may not be available as Jane’s on-again-off-again fling after this book (sorry for the vagueness, trying avoid spoilers here). Both incidents set up interesting possibilities for future books.


3. I like that Jane gets to be “girly” sometimes, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. She gets to dress up in fancy clothes, but she is still tough and capable. She shows moments of emotion over men and her changing relationships. She has doubts about things she has done in the past, even when she was a child, and what that means about her character in the present. I also like that Jane can now let Beast come to the surface in front of others (her nature was exposed in the previous book); she seems more comfortable with what she is.


4. Beast. What’s more to say. I’ve really enjoyed the evolution of Beast over the series, and the development of Beast’s “verbal” and intellectual ability that no doubt comes from having been bonded with Jane. Beast’s visceral emotional response to the Everheat kids and to Jane’s various men never grows old.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to fans of the series.


Could have been better

The Marann - Christie Meierz

This book was tough to rate, but ultimately, for me, it fell between a 2 and 2.5 star. Technically the writing is clean. The language was direct, not complicated, and the story was easy to follow. I was initially drawn into the story as I thought it had an interesting premise--a little bit like “The King and I” but in space, and I love sci-fi romance--but as I read further and further, it worked less and less for me. Following is a discussion of why:


1. The world-building was weak and often implausible:

The book includes one typical problem with weak world-building, and that is that everyone on the planet looks the same--”skin color, hair color, Tolari are all the same”. This is simply not scientifically plausible (and a pet peeve of mine). As an aside, I also find it a bit offensive--and I am really really not a PC person so something has to be pretty egregious for me to be bothered by it--that a race that has coppery skin and black hair considers a white woman with blue eyes to be “quite a beauty by our standards”. Wouldn’t they find their own women the most attractive?

The planet also has “no land animals larger than a flutter” (a “flutter” is a small bird-like creature). This lack of diversity of species is not plausible. How did the Tolari come to be by “parallel evolution” when the intermediate species do not exist? And without natural predators, why would the Tolari evolve the ability to camouflage themselves? Not well thought out. On top of that, this society is apparently agricultural, without mechanized transport or animals similar to cows or horses to plow field, haul crops, etc. That stretches credulity, in my opinion.

Scientifically, I didn’t find it plausible that a society that had once had the ability to travel in space (and all the other medical and technical advances that go hand-in-hand with that) would ALL voluntarily forgo using that ability/technology and return to a life equivalent to the Earth’s Middle Ages simply because they tired of “petty rivalries”. I am also skeptical of one of the character’s claims that “a Tolari and a human could produce fertile offspring”. This can only occur if they are the same species, which is (yet again) not plausible because even if humans and Tolari have common ancestors--and I don’t know if that is where the series is headed--the populations have been separated for thousands of years. Plenty of time for the species to evolve separately.

Politically, I am bored with the tired trope of a sole planetary leader, as opposed to a more complex and realistic political system with multiple factions.

I could give more examples or expound on the above, but I think that’s enough for one review. It seems like the author has thrown together some world-building elements that sound nice, but in a closer analysis, don’t work together. Now before someone says, “But wait, the Tolari are an alien culture; you can’t evaluate them by any human standards”, remember that the author has depicted the Tolari as very human-like--in appearance, in emotions (love, fear, etc), in socio-political structure, etc.

Finally, and more generally, the immediate setting of a scene and other characters were often left undescribed or only partly described. For example, I don’t think the reader was told any Tolari character names other than the Sular and Kyza until more than a third of the way into the book; characters were simply a servant, a guard, etc. It didn’t feel to me like the world was fully realized at times.

2. The romance is practically non-existent:

I have a note that reads “64% and no romance yet”. Actually, I don’t think the romance really came out at all until even later. In the story, the Sular and Marianne are together in his household for the equivalent of something like eight Earth years before anything happens, and even then, it just sort of...happens. I also never felt any chemistry between the characters.

3. The random WTF moments occur:

Such as Marianne saying that suicide is a crime on Earth. How exactly are the perpetrators punished? They’re dead.

Such as the Tolari referring to feet as “peds”. This is a classic sci-fi blunder, described in more detail in the SFWA’s Turkey City Lexicon “Call a Rabbit a Smeerp” section.

Such as the Sular telling Marianne, after she has raised the issue of the ruler of planet courting a “nobody”, that “such distinctions mean nothing to us” then forcing her to become Tolari because otherwise she cannot continue to tutor his daughter because his daughter was a “high one” like the Sular and Marianne was not.


Overall, if you can overlook the flawed world-building and don’t mind a very very slow-paced book, you might enjoy this. If you are looking for well-built worlds or a vibrant romance, this is probably not the book for you.

DNF'd for bad writing and implausible situations

HE LOVES ME TO DEATH - Sonovia Alexander

I picked this up because it was free and I was curious. Now I want the 30 minutes back that I spent reading this. I tried. I really did. But this book is written so poorly that I had to stop at about 20% into it. I have read better writing from sixth graders (seriously! I'm not exaggerating). The verb tenses alternate seemingly at random between present and past tense. Commas are omitted from dialogue tags and direct address in dialogue. Dialogue tags, such as they are, are incorrectly punctuated and capitalized. In one paragraph, there is "were" instead of "we're" and "distance" instead of "distant". The prologue is misnamed an epilogue. Etc. Etc.

On top of the massive grammar problems, the dialogue was often stilted, contained "as you know, Bob" passages, and lacked the normal contractions that people use when speaking. It very rarely sounded natural. The narrative was similarly clunky.

I also don't find several of the plot points very plausible:

(1) that a fifteen year old girl manages to conceal her pregnancy from her family while living with them

(2) that a hospital would discharge a fifteen year old immediately after giving birth and take her baby and put it up for adoption. No signing paper work? No talking to a social worker? No talking to her parents? Would she even be in any condition to *be* released right after giving birth? (Nope).

(3) that a fifteen year old girl could run off to a college that her parents didn't know about and then disappear. Her parents didn't take her to college and get her situated? Apparently not. Who just sticks a fifteen year old on a bus to college (or however else she got these without her parents)? Further, unless she had a full ride scholarship, her parents had to fill out financial aid forms for her. She's too young to work, so how did she support herself outside of the scholarship money? Sorry, there are just too many things that don't ring true here.

So overall, a very poor attempt at fiction writing. I would suggest that this writer hire an editor before she publishes anything else, as this is just awful.

Edited to add: I just looked at the book description on Amazon and it says that she is married to a "Seargant" (yes, that IS misspelled), but in the book, he is described as a "Major". So which is it? *sigh*

Review of "Hell Bent"

Hell Bent - Devon Monk

I really enjoyed Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series and was sad when that series was over. Then I found out about this book, which picks up about three years after the final events in "Magic For a Price" and has Shamus Flynn for a narrator instead of Allie. Shamus was always on of my favorite characters from the series; I liked the bad-boy thing when I was younger (and still have a fondness for it now even though I've outgrown that phase), and I still quite enjoy sarcasm. Shame is full of sarcasm.

Other reviewers here have summarized the plot, so I won't rehash it in detail. Generally, magic is now a pale shadow of what it was before it was "healed" in "Magic for a Price". The only people who can wield magic with much power are Soul Complements. Shame and Terric are Soul Complements, much to Shame's dismay, and government may be coming after them and other Soul Complements to use as weapons.

Shame and Terric are still going at it again in this one; Shame is still struggling with his connection to Terric, and we get to see a little more of Terric's personal life. A new character named Dessa is introduced part way through, and it was good to see Shame get a bit of a comeuppance (although Allie never took any flack from him either).

For fans of the Allie Beckstrom series, this one is a must-read. However, if you haven't read the earlier series, the world-building may be a bit thin and you may miss some of the subtleties or inside jokes or subtext or whatever you want to call it. This is the first book in duology. The second book, "Stone Cold", is due out in about a week.

Shadowboxer  - Cari Quinn

I had mixed feelings about this book. Mia has survived some horrible abuse and because of that is prickly and slow to trust. Despite that, I did like her and accepted her prickliness because of her past. She still clearly loves her sister and wants the best for her. Mia is working hard to make a better life for them both—hence the asinine plot point about Mia trying to set up a fight with Tray "Fox" Knox (more on the asinine-ness of that in a bit).


Tray is a good enough hero—a rich kid trying to make it on his own because his parents disapprove of his life choices to date—and he and Mia definitely have chemistry. But his actions and internal thoughts struck me as those of someone older and more mature than a 23-year-old.


My major beef with this book, though, was the handling of the MMA-related issues. First, Mia is supposedly this awesome almost-unbeatable fighter and expert in several different disciplines, yet she couldn't have been training for more than about 3 years given her age. This is not realistic. And Tray goes on and on about how he's getting too old for MMA, and he's only 23. Many MMA fighters are older than that. If both these characters had been 5 years older even, the story would have felt more realistic.


Also, it simply wasn’t believable that Mia would think that she had a chance against Tray and, later, the other fighter, unless she was willfully in denial (and she wasn’t presented as that type of person in the rest of the story). Even though she was described as tall, she was far lighter than Tray. And it’s not just weight. Strength makes an even bigger difference. A skilled female fighter against an untrained guy has a chance (as long as weight difference isn’t too great), but a trained female fighter is going to be at a SEVERE disadvantage against a trained male fighter. I’ve done jiujitsu; I speak from experience. A 200 lb body falling onto a 120 lb body with force can do serious damage–so can a single well-landed punch or kick at full power–and once those two are on the ground, the heavier stronger fighter will almost always win (assuming roughly equal skill levels otherwise).


Still I would recommend this book for the two characters and the arc of the relationship between them.


Confusing and unhelpful "Add a Book" page

Well, crap. I've been away for awhile, and not I can't remember how to post a review of a book. I added the book to my shelf but there is NO PLACE when rating a book that says "write a review". *sigh*  Can anyone tell me what mysterious process one has to go through to add a review of a book?

Just Getting Used to This Site

Test blog post! New user here. I'm still getting used to the site and trying to find my way around. Hopefully, all of my books will finishing importing soon... 


One thing I do like about this site better than Goodreads is that it is easy to add self-published books by pulling the data in from Amazon. I'll be adding some reviews that I currently have only at Amazon and not at Goodreads.

Against the Dark (Associates, #1) - Carolyn Crane This was a quick fun read. Very sexy. However, although Angel and Cole had serious chemistry, I'm still skeptical that love between them could occur so quickly.
Aberrant (Aberrant #1) - Ruth  Silver I thought the concept of this had promise, but the execution was horrible. This book is self-published, and it shows in many ways. ***MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW***

First, there are grammar problems throughout the book. One of the predominant ones was abuse of dialogue tags. Smiled, stood, nodded, and other non-verbal actions ARE NOT dialogue tags and should not be punctuated as such. The author also (grammatically) abuses dialogue tags by using almost anything other than "said" as a tag. This is a beginning writer mistake, and one of my pet peeves.

The world-building was extremely poor. First, the whole concept of infertility is badly explained. The author says in one place that woman "can't conceive, at least not naturally" but never explains how they ARE able to conceive or what assistance they are given. There is a vague reference to a lottery called "The Day of the Chosen", where all women are given the chance to have a child but the children were "born in labs". But does the author mean "born" in labs or "conceived" in labs? Because the next sentence in the book says that "the government had to intervene for women to become pregnant." Huh? If women become pregnant, then the children are presumably NOT born in labs. Then there is reference to Olivia's mother conceiving naturally, getting pregnant, and Olivia being "born". But if children are "born" in labs, then how did Olivia's mother conceal her pregnancy? And how did she give birth at home with no one knowing and no medical treatment? And how did she just suddenly appear with a baby? Even if she had help from one doctor who knew her secret and added her name as a lottery winner, wouldn't a bunch of other people know that no baby had been made for her in the lab where children are "born"? So maybe the author really did mean "conceived" in labs, then perhaps implanted in women. Overall it was confusing and contradictory.

Also, this future society apparently has the technology to construct a teleportation device, but cannot solve an infertility problem? I realize that physical and biological sciences are different, but still that begs credulity. The society also has unmanned drones, tanks, cars that run totally off solar power, and yet "cameras hadn't been used for centuries" and Olivia was stunned to see photographs. Olivia recollects a bit later that "in Genesis it was illegal to take pictures". If cameras hadn't been used in centuries, why would it be illegal to use them? And how in the world would an industrialized modern society function without photo or image documentation?

Those are just a couple of examples of the mish-mash of inconsistent and ill-thought-out world-building. There are many others. I would also like to echo what another reviewer pointed out: that the supposed secret city that Olivia and Joshua end up in has roads leading right to it (??!!), and Olivia and Joshua learn the ins and outs of a car very quickly despite never having seen one before.

Let's talk plot, which seemed a bit contrived at times. Olivia is forced to flee from her home of Genesis because the government finds out that she might be able to conceive naturally and toss her in jail. Lucky for her, her best friend and husband-to-be, Joshua, has family involved with the "rebel alliance" (yes, I kid you not; the author called the dissidents the "rebel alliance"--Star Wars, anyone?...). They are sent the long and risky way out of Genesis to hook up with someone who can take them to a town called Haven; meanwhile, Joshua's mother steps into her teleportation device and meets the kids in Haven. Huh? Why not just stick the kids in the device and get them there safe and sound? That's never answered. Somehow that government finds the kids are at Haven, attacks Haven, and forces the kids to flee towards a secret city that Joshua found on a map (that would be the secret city with roads leading right to it). The farce that the kids are put through in that city is a ridiculously contrived waste of time and man-power, and the story veered into the very-weird when the kids developed telepathic communication and telekinesis powers after some mystery medical procedure. At which point, I wondered again: if this society is that medically advanced, why haven't they cured the infertility problem?

*sigh* It's an mess from beginning to end. This author really needs good editors--both content and line-editing--to make this concept work.
Beneath the Burn - Pam Godwin I'm conflicted about this book. For a self-published book, the technical aspect of the writing was fairly good, as was the pacing of the overall story. I also generally like romantic suspense or thrillers.

However, there is a lot--and I mean A LOT--of of sex in this book, including a rape scene. Much of the later sex is BDSM with pain infliction. Which is not my thing and is not clearly indicated in the Amazon description of the book, although it is here on GR (which I read later). Fortunately, this book was a loaner from a friend.

I also never really connected with the main characters. I've known people, including musicians, who turned to drugs for various reasons, and I've never once found that lifestyle or person attractive. I'm also skeptical that a woman who was abused for two years would come to get off on the type of abuse she had been receiving (this is a major aspect of the storyline).

There were also minor other things that didn't ring true for me: how could someone with a false identity and on the run come up with the loans, leases, paperwork, etc. to open her own business? (Answer, she couldn't). How could one person own so much of the police, FBI, etc., that the hero & heroine go to them for help? (answer: he couldn't) And the way the bad guy was dealt with in the end was just way way too simple.

So I'm giving this book a three. Others may enjoy, but some of the topics and character traits included in the book were just major turn-offs for me personally.
The Proposal - Jamie Lancover Someone needs to buy this writer some commas. No, seriously...this writer needs to learn basic punctuation rules. She also abuses opening gerund clauses, both by using so many of them that it is laughably bad and distracting and by incorrectly using the clauses when she really means to indicate serial action, not simultaneous action. For an example of the laughably bad, just look at the opening sentences of Chapter 1. The writer also repeats words in close proximity to each other, uses filler words, writes stilted dialogue (no contractions? Really?) etc. All indications are that this is an amateur writer who really really needs a good critique partner and an English grammar class.

Now as for other aspects to the story, meh. The description of the sex that happens almost immediately at the beginning of the book is perfunctory and lacks emotion or impact. Also consider that the hero and heroine--and I use these terms loosely--are discussing how the hero can lie to his current girlfriend about why he wants to break up with her, followed by the sex scene which was initiated by the heroine cough***cheaters***cough, ending with the heroine getting upset that the hero came inside her even though she initiate the sex and NEITHER of them discussed safe sex at all during their little cheating romp. You'd think that one unplanned pregnancy would make a woman careful, but apparently not this woman.

After this less than stellar beginning, it was hard for me to continue reading the story. But I persevered...and was rewarded with yet another sex scene WITHOUT protection. This time the hero managed to withdraw before coming but good grief. He had had time to go dump his current girlfriend, pack his bags, and come back to the heroine's. He couldn't stop at a drug store and buy some condoms? Really? (and this sex scene was a clunkily written as the previous one).

After this, our lovely heroine gets sexually harassed at work and has her no-good ex come back and try to make up. She's apparently a speshul snowflake that everyone loves. Frankly, I quit reading when the two men I just mentioned get into a fight over her that lasts FIVE minutes. Um, nope. Not in the real world.

I'm glad this was a freebie. This was just horribly written, and I have read better on amateur writing sites.