Real and Revealed – a review of Loveless by Alice Oseman

Oh look. An Ace Author reviews yet another ace book. Hate to break it to you, but we’re gonna get a lot more of this in the future. And this is not just any ace book. This is the ace book. The first recommendation anyone would give to you when you say you want a book with ace representation at the forefront.

So let’s judge the popular.

Georgia starts to wonder why she hasn’t fallen in love with anyone despite how much she wants to. Not a single crush, not a single person she has found attraction towards, not a single desire to have sex. And when people notice this about her and an accident reveals that as her final year of high school comes to a close, she makes herself a vow to fall in love as she starts a new life at university. And as she realises how picky she is, asexuality and aromanticism come to her knowledge for the first time. And she doesn’t know what it means or anything about why she doesn’t want to love no matter how hard she tries.

This novel had stellar characters like no other contemporary novels characters I have read about. A tight cast makes for an in depth focus on each of them and their adversities. And each of them brought something different to the table. Their arcs and adversities, their personalities and the the way they present themselves. It is rare to find casts so diverse and yet likeable, with no villains and people just living their lives. This felt so much like just people living their lives.

More so on that point, this novel did feel like a life. It had just enough pop culture to make it feel current but not saturations that date it or make it feel like a walking advertisement. It had characters doing real things and having real worries. Oseman illustrated such reality that it felt warming to read this. Having spent a lot of my university life in lockdown, I was glad to have lived it through this book instead.

Once again, a novel about discovering asexuality has me feel so visible. But unlike other asexual characters and their stories, this one did even more. It challenged the way I thought of my asexuality and what to do with it. Now I’m not like Georgia, who is fully ace and aro. I just have asexuality. But even so, I read this in a time of my life where a lot of my relationships with people were forced to change. But the lessons with how to treat all relationships in my life with passion and care when I truly cared for someone really stuck with me. It’s something even a non-ace can take away from this book.

Read it so you know what I mean. I dare you.

Loveless gets a score of 5/5. Be there. Be loving. For everyone.


Why the Hell was this discontinued? – a REview of Paperchase by G Brassi

Guys. This a problem.

This book is so good but nobody can get it anymore. It is discontinued to the point where it’s existence as far as the internet is aware is a myth. It’s time to bust.

When Gemma returns home from school to see her sister packing her bags with a bruise on her face, she instantly knows she has to accompany Brianna. With stolen money from their mum’s boyfriend, the two of them fly across the Tasman to Australia in an attempt to find their father they haven’t seen in eight years. But he’s difficult to find. The two go across cities and the entire country in a bid to find him all whilst learning about the true dreams of each other, themselves and their families along the way.

I didn’t realise how mature this story would be. I literally forgot everything about this book and rereading it was a literal experience to fall in love with it again. For the record, I read this when I was 12. Before I knew what mental health was. Before I understood things like domestic violence and PTSD – which I should mention are triggers. I love it when authors understand the maturity that preteens hold and delve into like nothing. And in my unprofessional opinion it was well done.

The characters were absolutely beautiful. It wasn’t just our pre-teen protagonist Gemma that held the arcs and maturity that stole the show. No, this was a heist! A team of characters stealing my heart each with their roles and masteries. From the older sister with her heart in the wrong place but not quite her head to the hot goth she meets along the way and every big and little person in between. What a cast!

I loved how artistic the descriptions were. Very appropriate considering the art training of our main character Gemma, who turned everything into a landscape… even the landscapes (sorry, I just had to put it in there). Such interpretations wouldn’t make sense any other way, Brassi got the style of this book on lock. I wonder if they had artistic prowess themselves to be able to think and describe this way or if it just came out of a writer’s brain. Regardless, it charmed me.

The coming of age was amazing within the events of this book. I have yet to have read a book (that I can remember) that does this plotline with such finesse. It’s a typical trope for young adult fiction, but can you get tired of it when it turned so mature as Gemma both gained and let go of mature thinking? This can go up there with the classics.

But I’m upset. Because as much as I gush over this book, you’re gonna have to fight to find it. And I want you to. Just don’t steal my copy.

Paperchase gets a score of 5/5. Find this book somewhere. I dare you.

The Wide Window

Chekhov’s Gun – a REview of The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

I just realised this now that I have finished reviewing book 3 in this thirteen book series. With the way that I read and review on this platform with series that are already out it will take me three years to complete reviewing this series. I am truly in this for the long haul. And I hope you guys are too.

So anyway, here’s book three of a Series of Unfortunate Events after rereading it.

Now staying with their most paranoid Aunt Josephine, the Baudelaire children find themselves in a state of forceful happiness. That is until they find Count Olaf in disguise trying to thwart them once more. And when Aunt Josephine disappears with a suicide note being proof of it, the three of them are convinced it was Olaf’s doing. They must follow the breadcrumbs to prosecute him before they are once again in his clutches with their fortune.

I don’t remember much about the first time that I read this book so I’m just gonna skip this bit. I remember scenes in it and that’s it.

What this book did well was hinting. It took time for the children to work things out in spite of the hints, and even though I knew the solutions I was glad that the solutions didn’t come up straight away for them. Like all good characters, they had to work for it. This was what I now realise the movie adaptation failed to do. Working for these puzzle pieces truly made the stakes rise higher and made these smart children not seem unbeatable. Hell. Yes.

I should also mention how this novel is the epitome of Chekhov’s Gun like nothing else. It is basically a rule that dictates anything that is pointed out or theorised will happen is actually going to happen, and oh boy did everything happen. This was of course done in a comedic fashion but it made it all the more satisfying and tight. I love a tight plot! The tighter the plot the more that I will enjoy it.

This series is getting a little bit monotonous now. It felt a look like a reskinned version of the previous installment. I get that this is a children’s series and kids appreciate a routine that’s easy to follow, but give me a break. It was just different enough to keep me reading, but it almost felt like I was reading save the cat word for word. Or the hero’s journey word for word. Or whatever was used to outline this story.

I seriously hope that my memories of book four being different will serve me right.

The Wide Window gets a score of 3/5. The Reptile Room Part II, Electric Boogaloo

Yours in writing



Close the Door on this Open Ending- a review of There There by Tommy Orange

Upon expanding the representation of BIPOC on my bookshelves, I got drawn to Native American culture. This was one that came highly rated upon searching for this criteria with a premise that allowed meto give it a go.

Urban Native Americans, ones in touch with a culture they will never truly see. The Big Oakland Powwow brings many Native Americans together. Some seek to find their families again, others to connect with family slowly drifting away from them. Some are so in touch with their cultures and others wish to be part of that culture again, just to observe the events or to actually come to run and take part in it. There There follows twelve of them coming to the Powwow for celebration… And some come with more sinister intentions in the midst of crime and drug dealerships. Regardless, these twelve all have something to overcome and discover.

Each character in this novel was so well developed and each so unique. With the characters and their unique stories alone, this feels like the Native American interpretation of In The Heights minus the optimism and musical numbers. There was such a diversity of goals, as with any group of characters, but seeing cultural connections tie them together added a lot of meaning to the ensemble. Especially when their narratives brought them together and wove them into this blanket collection of stories. The characters by far made this story what it is and it the pure core of it.

One thing still confuses me – why were the POVs in different personages, even for specific characters? At first I thought the first person perspectives were of the survivors and the third the ones who would die, but then individual POVs changed from first to third in different chapters too. And then one was randomly in second person. This really dragged me out of the story as I failed to find significance in this. and I’m now convinced it was some kind of editing error. I mean, there probably was some kind of meaning behind it, but I can’t see it even now to save my life. This will genuinely haunt me for years.

Another thing I was unsure of is the ending. It made me confused as to what the point of this story was at the end. It was an open ending, yes, but that’s not always something I’m mad about. But an open ending that leaves you confused is not a good open ending. I pity the fate of the characters and found that good, but a lot of the arcs of characters felt unfulfilled. And there was a lot of them with POVs. And ending can make or break a story for me, and let’s just say it broke this one after a very strong beginning with very strong characters.

I should finish by respecting the intention of this novel and the things I learned about modern Native American culture while reading this. I’m happy to take that as a giveaway with a story I didn’t wound up enjoying enough.

There There gets a score of 3/5. An opening ending that doesn’t appeal.

Yours in writing



Short and Deep – a Re-View of The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

Been a while since we touched The Bad Beginning, it was only a matter of time until we found out how the story continued. And things get better!

For the readers, not for the children sadly.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire cunningly escape the clutches of Count Olaf and instead meet the eccentric Doctor Montgomery, their new garden. Fascinated by his studies of snakes, the children think they have found their new home and family to grow up with. But Count Olaf soon returns in disguise, still wanting to get his hands on their fortune. And his next plans require more cunning on their part as they attempt to prove him guilty of murder.

This book was in so many ways better than its predecessor. Maybe this was because in book one I was still getting re-introduced to Snicket’s writing style, or maybe because of others points I will later discuss. The writing style was far more tolerable this time. I felt like I was being talked down to in the writing style far less, for one thing. But Snicket’s unreliable narration that put rainclouds over a lot really shone this time.

What made this novel work so well in terms of plot was the short timeframe it covered. This is often something people underestimate, and I love any kind of long-length story that takes place up to three days. Well, this one took up a week I think, but my point still stands! These kinds of plots allow us to pay attention to any detail thrown at us and we are in the present with the characters. We won’t forget anything, these horrible thoughts feel very real in the moment. This book ticks all those boxes.

I particularly enjoyed how each of the characters had their moments to shine. While in The Bad Beginning Violet felt like the only one in control of getting out of her forced marriage, the climax of The Reptile Room involved all three in each of their elements. I won’t go into details, but this installment felt far more equitable in terms of the children.

But what really brought this book to such a high score was the tone. This book had its highs as well as lows, and in spite of us knowing those lows would be hit the highs had a bittersweetness that became very enjoyable. It really brought these characters to life once their time with Uncle Monty started spiralling downhill. Felt a little too real, but that’s humanity.

The Reptile Room gets a score of 4.5/5. The shorter the time period, the better the story and hijinks.

Yours in writing



Mature Children – a review of Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

I would call this a RE-view, but I didn’t even remember what happened in this book. So it was basically like reading this for the first time. I read this book in my final year of Intermediate school, got my best friend into it and we were obsessed with this book for a while.

11-year-old Aubrey is home alone. Her dad and sister died in an accident and her grieving mother abandoned her. She didn’t mind this lifestyle until Grandma arrived and took her to her home in Vermont to stay with her. Not only must Aubrey come to terms with a new life, but she must come to turns with the past at the same time and how things will never be the same.

This was the first book that made me cry, but I couldn’t remember what about it made me cry. It was ten years ago since I read that book and I had read tonnes more since then. Even so, this held such a place in my heart and I reminisced on the feelings I felt while reading it. There were bits and pieces I remembered of it but nothing stronger than the emotion – the crying and the joy mixed into the pages.

This was a stellar character driven story, perfect for a contemporary novel. You could clearly see interactions and opinions impact characters in such a real way. Each revelation hit hard or brought joy. Each character and their relationships felt real, developed, thoughtful. Contemporary novels in my perspective have some of the richest and most well rounded characters I’ve ever read, and LaFleur’s work is not exception.

Aubrey’s character and her arc were stellar. She had so much dimension, maturity and at the same time youth for her age. That and it felt so relatable and universal. Love, Aubrey revolves around children’s grief and PTSD through her perspective, and even though it relates to her dealing with it that doesn’t consume her or the plot. Her developments are very mature and signify a coming of age.

One thing that brought it down for me were a bunch of cliches in the language of this novel. You can expect language cliches in middle grade novels, the same metaphors and similes you see all the time. And seeing cliches of ways to describe things doesn’t usually get me mad. But when they come in this huge quantity it does made me think less of the novel. You couldn’t think of any new ways to describe that river? Or that feeling in your gut? I know how wild a child’s imagination can get, and this wasn’t it.

But don’t let that take the rating of this fantastic book down too far. This is still an incredible story for anyone to read, so make you cry and warm your heart all at once.

Love, Aubrey gets a score of 4.5/5. Enough emotion and purity to last me the rest of the year.

Yours in writing



This Isn’t Rush Hour – a REview of Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

We’ve been doing a lot of re-views lately, haven’t we? HOWEVER something new did come out of this.

A book I loved and thought I was devoted to wound up disappointing me.

When her aunt’s diner shuts down, Hope Yancey moves with her to a diner needing a pick-me-up in Wisconsin. A few days after the two of them start working there they discover that the owner, G.T., decided to run for mayor once he discovered he had cancer. Hope then gets swept up in a whirlwind with the other teens of the town to campaign against the corrupt mayor and help the town out financially in as many ways as possible. But when your mayor is a corrupt moneybags giant, you bet they have ways to stiffen morale.

Back when I read this I was 14, got intrigued by the title and bought this at the book fair. I think I was reading this during an election period myself? Regardless, this was a very touching and heartwarming book that nearly made me cry towards the end, seeing Hope find a family instead of wishing for her own to find her again.

Clearly back then I didn’t know what good storytelling was.

The plot itself was great, very compelling and hit me in the right places again on the second read. It was very interesting to see the twists, turns and processes mentioned in the election campaign and you the corrupt mayor fought back. That side of things made for a very interesting plot in spite of its simplicity.

But then we get to problems I didn’t see back when I was 14. First off, it was rushed. Crazy rushed. That made a lot of those moments last not nearly as long as I wanted them to. How dare. And this was more rushed than in other novels, which is surprising. I should’ve known based on how thin the book was, but I’ve read novels with same page number and yet bigger font sizes that had more cohesively paced stories than this.

Second, I don’t get why it was told from Hope’s point of view. Not only is she a Mary Sue in this novel, but she has no agency relating directly to the plot. I think only one problem in this novel relating to the main plot was solved by her. And when she said she found her family and people to care for her at the end of the novel, I was struggling to find the moments that claimed so.

The other characters weren’t greater either. Not only did this include love-interest-exists-only-to-make-the-lead-feel-horny syndrome, but none of the other characters aside from the villain had any personal and clear goals except for maybe one of the other waitresses at the diner. Even the main character, as mentioned before. The entire town was full of plot vessels. Terrible storytelling.

So I think I had my head in the clouds. And this book which I have kept for eight years will find a new home at a charity thrift shop.

Hope Was Here gets a score of 2/5. I’ve never read a story that took place in such a boring town before.

Yours in writing



Who Needs A Thesaurus?- a RE-view of The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

This was the first series I read in its entirety. Granted it was out of order, so I thought it was time to give it another try from the start. And in order – the way it was meant to be read.

After the death of their parents in a house fire, siblings Violet, Klaus and Sunny are put into the care of Count Olaf who immediately mistreats them behind closed doors. The three of them seek escape, but when adults don’t listen to them or care enough about them they need to take matters into their own hands to work out what the Count has planned for them in order to get their fortune, locked away.

This novel was introduced to me at age 8 by my teacher, who was a huge fan of the series. This was a particularly impactful series for me because it signified a coming of age for me, much like each character experiences gradually at some point in the series. For me, it was the abandoning of 50-page “chapter” books on fairies and unicorns.

This novel’s biggest strength is definitely its mood. It had a way with putting pessimism on things in simple ways. I feel like it could’ve been described more, but with it being middle grade it worked out fairly well in how the mood was set. This novel would scream dark academia if it was released in the past five years. Well, it still could, but that would be a huge marketing point for this novel if it was newer to shelves.

With it being a middle grade novel, it definitely embraced that side of things. At times it was charming and others it was annoying. Snicket definitely had his clever moments in his writing, but at times they were foreshadowed by how often he explained the meaning of a new word. This wasn’t that much of a deal to me when I read it at the appropriate age, but reading it as an adult I found it passively condescending. Ironically, so did Klaus when adults tried explaining things to him.

The interesting take this novel took was explaining tragedy, trauma and other mature topics to a younger audience. A lot of it is glossed over, but the parts that stayed were very impactful altogether. The parts that explained emotions and behaviours the children experienced, the shock factor of the abuse the Count put them through, how they care for each other. That’s what particularly drew me in – how it was never floury or joking over that aspect of the novel. It had the space to be quirky and eccentric, but knew when not to be.

I’m definitely not as into it as I was initially, but I think this series is one I’ll keep going through and rereading. Just to see what the whole story looks like.

The Bad Beginning gets a score of 3.5/5. Not a bad start for a bad start.

Yours in writing



Major Style Points – a review of The Liminal Space by Jacquie McRae

This author studied at the same university as me. Not the same degree – I studied digital communications, not creative writing – but that’s still cool. A small world to find a New Zealand author publishing a fiction novel.

With the church of a small British village called Radley losing money, their library may be shutting down as a result. And in the middle of this village crisis are four people. First is William, a retired doctor and kind soul without history. He helps out Emily, who is in love with an abusive husband and retreats to her workplace at the library to find peace. Next door to William is Arlo and his son Marco, who is struggling to play London rent after not making enough sales as a real estate agent. And fourth is James, depressed and anxious as his father makes his life choices for him. To save the Radley library, together these four will first save themselves.

This book has got some triggering topics that are worth mentioning now: depression, anxiety, suicide, and sexual abuse, all described and playing parts in the narrative. If any of these trigger or upset you, this book isn’t for you. You’re okay to not read this review.

I loved all these characters and the perspectives they provided. Each one felt so real and so genuinely cared for that I cannot discern favourites, because each of them focussed on such real subjects, some of which I could relate to. And the ones that I couldn’t relate to were laced with such an incredible writing style that I would claim it as similar as Markus Zusak’s. How poetic the mundane and the normal was.

With contemporary novels being a big hit-or-miss for me, sometimes the conflicts or the plotlines don’t feel real enough. But each of these conflicts faced by the main characters were very much real and connected with each other very well. It didn’t feel Avengers-y where they all team up to solve a big issue, but the little impacts they make on each other when they meet it the beauty of this novel. It showcases them as individuals even when their POV voices are so unique and similar at the same time. As if I haven’t gushed enough about the writing style already. This is what really captures you when you read this novel.

My only complaint would be how abruptly the character arcs had finished. They did make sense, but in some cases it felt like they happened too soon. James’s plot, which focuses on mental health, is a strong example. It is framed that his mental health problems are “solved” by the end of the book, which in reality would not be. And then another character doesn’t have a POV chapter to solve their problems and finish their character arc, it is just in the background? I didn’t vibe with that.

I didn’t think I would vibe with this book when I saw a almost brand new copy of it in a second-hand book shop and bought it because it was cheap. But as soon as I read it, I knew I was glad to pick it up. And you should pick it up too.

The Liminal Space gets a score of 4/5. A strong writing style foundation with fantastic characters building it up.

Yours in writing



Only Humans – a review of The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak has written my favourite book of all time, The Book Thief. I have read one of his other works prior, Bridge of Clay, and wasn’t amazed admittedly. This made me wonder if the Book Thief was the sole place where Zusak peaked.

After reading The Messenger, I decided he is just that good of an author.

Ed Kennedy wants to be more than an underage taxi driver, but he has never found the chance to do so. However, after he stops a bank robbery – albeit a pathetic one – everything changes. His week of fame ends with a single envelope address to him appearing in his letterbox; the ace of clubs with three addresses written on it. With nothing better to do, Ed decides to visit these addresses. And so he spirals into an obsession with these cards and unhealthy selflessness.

Zusak always masters narrative voice in his works, and Ed is no exception. What is most noticeable in The Messenger, however, is the evolution of the voice with the character. As the story went on, so did the depth of Ed’s thoughts and the sheer poetry of what was going on around him. It is very natural for narrative voice to evolve as a story goes on, as an author’s style is very literally improving with each paragraph. But Zusak goes a step further with distinguishable ways that Ed changes in the novel. It makes the words really feel like his thoughts. Zusak flourishes his perfection of writing in first person.

His mastery of characters expands even further to the wide cast in this book. It is very literally showing the characters changing and opening up as Ed takes each of them on different character arcs. It is quite a mission to connect so many short stories so expertly as Ed changes the lives of twelve different people and their families. They were all raw. They were all real. They were all relatable. I felt like I collected their hearts and tenderly loved them all.

But what I especially loved was how it was all laced together. The card game. Well, as it is on the surface. Contemporary stories can be unusual for me, because they focus on very regular things in life and either oversell or undersell what goes on. This was a story about people making do in a small Australian town and not reaching their goals or dreams. And all it took was one person to connect them to their needs. It is a story that truly showed the human condition and how that small thing connects us and is how we evolve. Just by needing that small push, that agent to guide you on the right path. To make yourself.

If you don’t read it, you won’t understand what I’m on about. Pick up a copy right now. You’ll regret it if you don’t. This book was a lucky find in a second hand shop that is worth gold.

The Messenger gets a score of 5/5. Markus Zusak again makes a favourite of mine.

Yours in writing



Harmonious End – A review of Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

I’ve never finished a novel within a week. That’s either indicative of a short page count or a really good read, especially when my average for a really good book is two weeks.

So how did finishing Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer within a week fair up?

In the final installment of the Elementals series we focus on the oldest brother of the Merrick family, Michael. With the Guides seeking to exterminate his family and his allies and their presence looming ever closer, his concern of keeping everyone safe has him losing sleep. But as his entire street is set on fire by the Guides, his girlfriend Hannah is put at risk and Michael himself is suspected of arson. He must choose whether him and his loved ones should run and hide or stand up against the Guides before the entire county gets subject to a warped perspective of the greater good.

This would be the first book in the series to go outside of a high school and the formal classed “young adult” perspective, instead being classed more as an adult perspective as the audience grew up. But it was an interesting adult perspective, as the two main characters, Mike and Hannah, became adults and acting parents arguably too soon. This really highlighted and heightened the stakes when each of them had so much at risk. From the get go I was thoroughly engaged with what was present because I knew the stakes from the first word. This made for very action packed and harrowing moments. It really felt like the final book of the series as a result.

Kemmerer continues to succeed with her characters and their relationships, even without the typical narrative of finding love but instead having a preexisting relationship be explored. There is something really relatable and incredible about a story of losing everything you’ve built up, as a reality or as a threat. The inner thoughts of each characters’ POV were very insightful and engaging, especially seeing their respective struggles.

In terms of the plot, this plot was probably the best of the whole series. As mentioned before, the stakes felt so real here. I also liked how various plot points from the rest of the series were tied in to this – the arsonry from Book 2, Hunter’s family involvement from Book 3, Adam and Tyler from Book 4, and of course the grounds based in Book 1. I would have hoped that the partners of the main brothers were a bit more involved with the plot rather than some of them being supportive and this book being the big finale – especially Becca, being a Fifth herself. But I was still very pleased with how it ended and won’t complain about that.

In fact, I don’t think I have any complaints. This is rare. Other 5 star books on my site would have very minor complaints, but my only complaints as seen previously is minor squared. It is rarely that a final installment in a series would go so right. But this one did.

Sacrifice gets a score of 5/5. I couldn’t think of a better end to this series which I literally grew up through high school and university with.

Now we gotta rate the whole series! You’ll also catch my reviews of the first 2 books which I read before my blogging journey, albeit short.

Storm – 5/5, loved the characters, loved the plot. A breath of fresh fantasy air for 17 year old me.

Spark – 4/5, characters started to lack a little bit, but this plotline was something else.

Spirit – 4/5, absolutely incredible until the climax was rushed.

Secret – 3.5/5, an amazing blossoming romance that sadly wasn’t tied with the overarching plotline.

Sacrifice – 5/5, brand new and mature takes on pre existing elements to conclude the series.

If you want romance with high stakes set in a contemporary fantasy environment, this is the series for you. Kemmerer expertly portrays romances with deep connections in high risk settings across all books in this series. She understands her characters well, even greater when they have connections to their powers and how they are personified. While the plots get mixed up in places, the stakes are always very real. Even for it being a fantasy, it feel so damn real. This will definitely be one of my favourite series of all time. I cannot recommend it enough.

The Elementals series gets a score of 4/5. This one’s a keeper.

Yours in writing



Queer Airbender Twin – A review of Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

I know Nick isn’t Aang, but that was how I had to describe him to my friends because that prospect excited me so much, okay?

And it still excites me because it was pretty well written.

Nick Merrick, one of four Elemental siblings, has more than just his air manipulation powers to keep secret; he’s gay. He’s got the hots for his cover-story girlfriend’s dance partner, but not the guts to come out even to his own twin. But tension rise between Nick and his posed girlfriend Quinn as not only is her situation at home worsening, but she’s hanging out with a sworn enemy of his family. Not to mention Nick trying to prioritise protecting his family in case a bloodthirsty Guide comes around over his own wants and dreams…

This story the more that I read it felt personal to Nick rather than the overarching plot of the Merricks vs the Guides. Am I saying it’s a bad thing? Kind of, but kind of not. It only really made an impact at the start and the finish. In the previous book, Spirit, the Guides were front, centre and a threat the entire time, ready to wreak havoc on the Merrick brothers and their allies. Here, they were established at the start to be there and then popped out of their hiding hole at the climax. There was barely a presence of them there for them to be so close to the climax of the series. It felt disappointing that the Guides weren’t really covered in this book. In fact, the Elemental side of things was hardly tied to it at all. Just kind of flavour.

Regardless, the intimate story that was there was done incredibly. The romance between Nick and Adam was downright magical. Kemmerer just does romance so well full stop! I can strongly say that my list of OTPs is very small. Nick and Adam – Nidam? – was just added to this list. They compliment each other so well and their relationship just felt so real and safe and pure. The emotions and language used made me feel so damn warm inside, no wonder I was shivering on the cold dank bus while reading this!

More on Nick, after reading this story he’s become my favourite of the brothers so far, if not my favourite character of the whole series. I feel like this book was also titled very appropriately; Secret. It was a key theme to Nick’s development; the secret that he’s an air elemental, the secret that he’s gay, the secret that he wants to move out of town. All of that was well reflected on his fear of going against what society expects him to be. Though it went so specific, it was a struggle that still felt universal and real. I understood him well solely on how he was written, how rooted he was in his fears. I feel like society is an obstacle for all of us to overcome. We often forget to look at ourselves, and I’m glad we saw that in Nick.

All that said, I started this series in 2017 when I read Storm in Year 12. Now it’s 2021, and you bet Sacrifice is only 4 more books on my TBR pile away. 5 years. 5 books. We’re on the home stretch now, Merricks. Bring on the final installment of the Elementals series!

Secret gets a score of 3.5/5. Chances were lost to tie the world to the plot better, but the plot was still something fantastic without it.

Yours in writing



Woke, but Tiring – A Review of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Just finished this book in time for the new year. Pity the review came out a bit later, so you didn’t know.

Another pity was this book. We’ll talk more about that in a second.

In Dead Until Dark vampires are real. The supernatural is mainstreaming and becoming part of daily life with humans. Including Sookie Stackhouse, a human with mind reading abilities. With the arrival of a hot vampire at the small town bar she works at, he brings on a little bit more trouble whether he wanted to or not. Murder. The deaths of various humans who get down with vampires, including one of Sookie’s coworkers. She’s down to prove the innocence of those she’s close with and do whatever she can to make sure she’s not targeted next.

Let’s talk about this Sookie character first. A lot of her traits felt very contradictory. She hates people due to reading their minds uncontrollably sometimes but she’s incredibly bubbly. Her emotions and feelings towards her clearly shifty boyfriend change more than weather in the spring, hating him in the morning and bedding him the same night. Her strengths became her weaknesses at the same time, and it was like the author flipped a coin to decide if she’d be good with them or not. It made me very hard to feel for her unless a situation she got into just had plain old shock factor.

Speaking of shock factor, the killer. This is a murder mystery plot after all. There wasn’t any realisation at any time during the novel over who the killer was and me being right, or when the killer was revealed I was in disbelief or realising it all made sense. It was just left feeling mediocre about it. It only barely made sense because this character really didn’t have a lot of presence in the story. There were no stand-out points that connected their motives and made everything click. It was like fixing a car with duct tape.

It wasn’t all piss poor though. The magical realism played into this book was quite well done, how the vampires decided to fit into the world and much about them was already well known to the general public, including some stereotypes. It made the world feel solid. Another solid part of the world was how diverse both the humans and vampires were and how naturally they were a part of it; black vampires, gay vampires, polyamoury between vampires and humans. It made the world feel all the more natural.

Until we talk about how the men in it were portrayed. All of them were assholes, and for some reason the main character looked up to a lot of them? The hot vampire she dates is clearly manipulative, her boss wants to be a homewrecker on her relationship, her brother calls Sookie’s mental trauma ‘excuses’. I’m not saying men are as pure as Jesus himself, but none of them came close.

And as much as I was looking forward to reading a lot of the series, I don’t want to now. This is the first and only Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood book I’ll be reviewing on this blog I’m afraid.

Dead Until Dark gets a score of 2/5. I’ll give it credit for being woke at the time of its publishing, but everything else can be discredited.

Yours in writing



The Tale of the Misguided Edgelord – a review of Spirit by Brigid Kemerer

Bit awkward. I’m reviewing book 3 of this series when I haven’t reviewed books 1 and 2 on this blog.

Granted I did read them before I decided this blog was going to be a thing. Don’t expect me to backlog every single book I’ve read. #sorrynotsorry

Actually most of the books backlogged would wind up being Rainbow Magic books, so I won’t apologise for that. Be relieved I won’t be reviewing the tonne of books I no longer have.

Anyway, the Elementals series! This series follows a family of four brothers, each controlling a different element. But there’s one kind of elemental not in the Merrick family; a Fifth, the spiritual elemental. One Fifth is Hunter Garrity, whom the Merricks can’t decide if he was on their side the whole time or betrayed them. We follow his story as one of his former friends, a fire elemental, threatens to burn down the town if the Guides, hunters of elementals, don’t come and cause chaos themselves. Little does Hunter know that the new girl who caught his interest has an agenda with the fires around town too.

Okay, first thing I have to say is that Hunter needs a hug. Like right now. One weary thing that can happen with characters as tragic as Hunter is that they won’t do anything about it and become very passive characters. I absolutely loathe pivotal characters who remain inactive in their sorrows for their entire lives and waste their lives away. Hunter wound up being very active and turbulent, making much of the things that happened to him very powerful. It was never a matter of his emotions in the moment for long, he would always lead on to ways to fix the problems in front of him. His emotions rarely made him passive to the problems faced in front of him. I admire that in characters like him.

Emotion was actually a huge core to Kemerer’s writing, which I find absolutely excellent. Especially in third person writing, at times emotions are glossed over. Emotion is a core to the storytelling presented. I really engaged with the story through emotions alone, how each action was presented at the base of a feeling. It became almost effortless to get into the characters minds and understand what was going on.

That being said, some moments were placed off and drew me out of the story. The strongest (or I guess weakest) example was the climax. It was a very short lived chapter, thus the emotions and the stakes felt more like ripping off a band aid instead of tearing down a wall. This was odd when compared to the depth of other scenes target felt so long, so real. Like the midpoint, very well executed. But with such a big deal as the climax being so short, it made me doubt whether the storyline being resolved was actually important or not. This was especially when the previous climaxes in the series were built up and expanded upon so much more.

Perhaps if Kemerer put more emphasis into those final scenes I would have given this book a perfect score.

Spirit gets a score of 4/5. There was passion put into the characters and the very emotive writing, if only the same could be said for the ending.


Lived Up To Its Name – A Review of Nowhere Fast by Kevin Waltman

Contemporary. Big hit or miss typically in my eyes. There’s either a concept I fall in love with or one that I would never touch.

Well I finally found a middle ground book.

Nowhere Fast follows Gary, a teen in a small town in the US. He finds excitement being towed by his rebellious best friend Wilson and comfort from his girlfriend Lauryn, all to distract himself from an abusive father. Gary doesn’t have a life of his own, though. All he wants is a break from his life, a chance for something new like moving out of town. But things get a little hectic when Wilson encourages him to “borrow” a suspicious man’s car overnight.

The language used in this novel was absolutely stunning. The descriptions were very vivid, very personal both inside and outside of Gary’s head. That was really the highlight of reading this book, how such simple concepts were described so divinely in such a short space of time (this book just surpassed 200 pages). I could really connect to Gary through these emotions he saw his town through.

But let’s talk about Gary for a second. I mentioned that he wasn’t his person. That’s literally all that can be said about him, even after his character arc was “complete”. Everything about him is that he’s attached to this person or does as this person says, making him an amalgamation of all the people in his life. For me that just makes him devoid of character. Just a reflective shell of himself. I was expecting him by the end of the book to become his own person, but he’s just that same shell after all he went through.

Speaking of which, this novel had the most hollow ending ever. It was a negative resolution, but that’s not bad if there’s some message that comes out of it. But I genuinely can’t find it. Gary has mildly changed, it feels like the start of his character arc if anything, his wants remain exactly the same, and he hasn’t pinpointed what was wrong in his life. The story feels pointless. Not to mention how many unanswered questions there are. I feel like something more needs to be there to establish the change that happened to Gary.

But if there’s one thing that redeems Gary it’s his relationship and the way he treats it, or at least tries to. I wouldn’t call him and Lauryn my one true pairing, but the relationship they endorsed was one of the healthier and more consent driven ones I’ve seen. Gary is an incredibly respectful boyfriend, and he is aware of making sure Lauryn is comfortable and is embarrassed when he takes a step a little too far. It’s fantastic to see a relationship like this that is also romantic, a couple that goes out instead of just sticking to themselves making out and getting heated. It was great to see that kind of rep in Young Adult fiction.

That being said, this plot didn’t know where it was going for me a lot of the time. When one direction or outcome was established, the story changed so it established something else. Gary wanted a change of pace or scenery, her never got it or realised to love his home. Wilson said he might end up moving out of town, nothing was done to stop that happening. Many things felt disjointed and unresolved as a result. This book was a stand alone and there were still so many loose ties.

Dare I say it, this book went nowhere fast.

Nowhere Fast gets a score of 2/5. You were written nice, but finish the damn story!

Yours in writing