Do You Want To Save The Planet? – a review of The Pioneer by Bridget Tyler

I never had a desire to read sci fi. Proper sci fi, more than just the dystopian novels I’ve read that border on the genre. But this book seemed simple and intriguing enough for my little brain, so I gave it a go.

With Earth’s ecosystem on the brink of collapse, Jo and her family have trained for years to settle onto another habitable planet. But after an accident that killed Jo’s brother and gave her high blood pressure, Jo is no longer fit to live her dream on this new world and pilot ships of colonists. Without a purpose in her life, Jo soon finds one as she discovers the company that runs the colonisation lied. On what was thought to be a planet with no known alien civilizations, Jo discovers two at war. This blows things out of proportions that could threaten the new planet they boarded to ecologically collapse just as Earth is about to.

Mediocre characters were brought down even further by tedious dialogue. Every character was defined by a single trait, maybe two if they were lucky – including the love interest just there to make sure a romance exists even though the chemistry was clunky. This was especially sickening in the prologue when the dialogue was full of whacky quips that are exposition in the world’s worst disguise. This continued to an awkward level throughout the rest of the novel – the aliens talking in very formal English, the smart one using long words and sentences, the love interest making a “quirky” nickname for the girl he has a crush on. This made out like tween movie dialogue.

While the world was beautiful, the worldbuilding was ugly. This was in spite of things being very well explained and easy to read. A lot of stuff didn’t make sense – like why the alien cultures on the planet were written so oriental, the intentions of certain characters and why they were blind to certain things, why certain people were trusted and not others. This made the stunning and unique world that the story was placed on feels like rhinestones instead of diamonds.

However, the plot was one that kept you on your toes. Information found in unexpected yet sensible places, plot developments I didn’t quite see coming and a linear form that made sense. It was very easy to read and follow along with as a result and definitely the strongest part of this novel. That was because it didn’t rely on fancy sci fi jargon or features to tell a decent story, and this novel being my first dive into science fiction I am thankful for that.

But it’s ultimate falling point is the number of cliches featured. Alien cultures being framed orientally was the big one, but every personality in this novel felt like a cliche. The colonization tropes were cliches, including the whole thing about Earth’s ecosystem being destroyed. It’s a truth I’m sick of, apparently. But the biggest cliche of all was how infatuated everyone was with NASA. So many people with NASA shirts that it felt like an ad. Thank god NASA wasn’t on the cover.

In conclusion, this wasn’t what I hoped my first proper dive into sci fi novels was going to be. I’ll see you in a few reviews time to see if it gets better.

The Pioneer gets a score of 2.5/5. No wonder Earth died – all of its former inhabitants have no personality for the planet to care for it back.

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



Gretel is the Greatest – a review of Necessary Evil by Ian Tregillis

Finish this book left me with an odd feeling – a disturbance and a satisfaction.

And I loved it.

Raybould Marsh has travelled back in time to save the world from the all-powerful Eidolons, save his daughter from death, and save his marriage that went far too downhill in the future. He must go back to the days of Milkweed in 1939 and stop the secret service’s warlocks from making the one mistake that sent humanity to its doom. Teaming up with his worst enemy, the clairvoyant Gretel, he uses his knowledge from the future to orchestrate his plans from the inside, without revealing his identity to his present self, and to still ensure Great Britain wins the Second World War.

First we need to address the elephant in the room – the sudden inclusion of first person perspective in an entire series that used to be third person. I found it jarring the first time I read it, but I rolled with it. It made sense as to why it was needed – the past and the future version of Marsh had POVs in this novel. There was no way to distinguish the two better than to have the perspectives in such a way. And this wound up making me enjoy the novel a great deal more. I had a bias towards reading his POVs because of how smoothly they read and how deep we got into his mind. I would have loved to have seen this with more characters, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the other third person perspectives for what it’s worth.

Another part I loved was the occasional peak into Gretel’s mind – something I craved when I read the previous novel! We got a taste of it right from page one, her odd charm previously shown in the perspectives of Klaus, Marsh and Will now being seen from her own perspective. Her calculation comes with an ego, and the way her story ended was awfully poetic. In spite of being an exceedingly horrid person, her character is by far my favourite, one I was very thankful to see glances of in this novel. I really want to see more villains like her in future reads.

Having a novel so centred on orchestrated plots can otherwise be difficult to make, but this novel danced around it with such prowess. Granted, it has been years since I read the first book in the series so I have no idea how truly accurate it is, but the butterfly effect was in full swing and I was flying on it. To see the calculations, causes and effects through future Marsh’s perspective was particularly enlightening, while also seeing the results playing out like it did in history. The previous timeline was an alternate history, and it felt enlightening to see the true events play out in this book including the strategic things around Dunkirk.

I think what this book really did the best was the closing of character arcs. I’ve already hinted that Gretel’s character arc was masterfully done, but even both versions of Marsh, Will and Stephenson were done incredibly well. This was expertly done through exploring the themes of morality. No better way to end the series.

Necessary Evil gets a score of 5/5. There had never been a more satisfying ending.

And now it’s series ranking time! The last series I would have finished for 2021.

Bitter Seeds – 4/5, a promising start to a series unlike anything I had ever seen.

Coldest War – 4/5, so dark and yet so compelling.

Necessary Evil – 5/5, the perfect character arcs to end the series.

You will never read a series like the Milkweed Trip. World War Two war strategy, plus supernatural abilities, plus warlocks! The dark magic combining with the exploration of morality fits perfectly into the settings of World War II and the great depression. And the morally grey Gretel will be among the greats. Although this series is very strong and totally deserves a place on my bookshelf, I’m not sure if I ever want to read it again. It was quite dark and one that I wouldn’t recommend to many light hearted people.

The Milkweed Trilogy gets a score of 4.5/5. It’s staying proudly on my bookshelf.

Yours in writing



Just Watch Hadestown Instead – a review of Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan

Riordan was my inspiration to start creative writing, almost as soon as I finished Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief when I was 10 1/2 years old. His Heroes of Olympus series still stands as one of my favourites and shares a place of pride on my bookshelf along with the Percy Jackson series.

And then I picked up this book.

In this short story collection, Percy Jackson takes the tales of famous Greek Heroes into a modern lens and recites the tales of ones as famous as Hercules or as underrated as Atalanta.

I didn’t think I’d have big issues with any of Rick Riordan’s work, especially his character voices, but I for some reason did have a problem with Percy’s voice in this one. The modern lens he put things through was framed as the reality to what happened and it broke immersion way too much. The funny quips and dialogue between characters was fine, but I loathed every time he directly put something from modern society into the plot. We know there wasn’t an ancient greek walmart, and so every time I saw that I just blinked.

But the odd thing is, I was fine and thoroughly enjoyed Percy’s voice with the origin stories of the Greek Gods. I don’t know why it doesn’t translate well here when talking about Greek Heroes. Maybe it’s the fact that each hero gets stripped of the core of their stories as they get turned into what feels like Tom and Jerry episodes, making fun of violence and tragedy.

Orpheus was a key example of this one, and his tale was also told in my favourite musical Hadestown. It wasn’t told in a traditional sense either. Instead of having his story with 21st century twists in it, it took place during the industrial revolution. The medium of the industrial setting added more to the story than I can say in Hadestown, talking about how with music and artistic expression we lose our senses of self and love.

Percy Jackson’s take just turned him into a generic husk of a D&D bard. Like not even with emotion and character like all the best bards in D&D do have – this is the kind of bard that gets memed over being a douchebag with a guitar but on a battlefield. That is not Orpheus.

Few of these heroes seemed to keep their substance or their cores with the way that Percy referred to them, or if they are it is done so as a side note. This is to the point that I believe in some cases it genuinely disrespects the core of the Greek Hero. Rarely were the hardships key to the hero’s’ journey communicated as harrowing. Except perhaps a harrowingly long journey. This was fine with the Gods and their menial issues and the power they held, but the purpose of a mortal hero is within their suffering. And it is made a joke.

In the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus novels, Riordan and his narrative voice knew when to take things seriously and when to emphasise the suffering and the comedy within the tale of these heroes. There wasn’t anything of this nature present, as if the core of Percy Jackson had gone.

So yeah, this book stripped the concept of Greek Heroes INCLUDING Percy Jackson himself. It’s only redeeming quality is the dialogue quips between characters without 21st century product placement. Those were funny.

Percy Jackson and the Greek Heroes gets a score of 2/5. This was just a marginally funny classical studies shitpost.

Yours in writing



Deep Water and Deep Characters – A Review of Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

I had high expectations for Firefight. After loving its predecessor, Steelheart, I was hoping Brandon Sanderson would deliver.

He didn’t just deliver, he delivered something new. While Steelheart was a pepperoni pizza, Firefight was a vege trio pizza from Dominos. Both very exquisite pizzas, if you ask me.

After rescuing Newcago from the tyranny of the epic Steelheart, David Charleston and his fellow Reckoners have defended the city from other superhumans wanting to take over the city. They soon realise each have been sent by Regalia, the epic who runs the now flooded New York, renamed Babilar. While the leader of the Reckoners wants to go to Babilar to kill the epic, David has second thoughts. After all, the leader himself is an epic not yet corrupted by his powers. And somewhere out there resides Firefight, another epic David wishes to save from her powers. Could the Epics be saved from themselves after all?

Again, a strong aspect of this novel was the unique atmosphere of the world. If you thought Newcago had its own personality, then Babilar is something else. Even the way the world was built was very fascinating, seeing different cultures and the political standpoints of epics in this city versus the distance from the ones in Newcago. That and the way the city became rundown was amazing – an epic flooding the city so everyone has to live on skyscrapers AND vines overgrowing inside of buildings? Legendary.

The world was expanded upon well with the lore surrounding the epics too. One key aspect was studying what the core weakness of each of them was, especially when rumors were thrown around of a connection between an epic’s past and their Achilles Heel. This weakness became a key part of each epic it seemed and it was an interesting ride to analyse each of them and work out with David and the team what their weaknesses are. Granted I was often wrong, but it was still very entertaining to guess.

A significant improvement was with the characters as well. So much more depth was added to everyone that I thoroughly enjoyed. I especially enjoyed how David was developed, both with his goal of revenge gone and some fears adding so much depth to his character. He truly felt real in so many moments. Even characters I felt impartial to I wound up loving. But my favourite character has to be Mizzy, introduced in this book. She was fun, relatable and had great one liners right from the get-go. I can’t wait to see more of her in the future.

I found it wasn’t quite as engaging as when I read Steelheart up until the final quarter, but that wasn’t to demerit it. It had a lot more to think and reflect on in the novel rather than things to react to. This was mainly because David’s mentality had changed from react to reflect as well, making it a nice book to get through at an easy going pace. A distinct difference made for a different experience, allowing me to take it all in. It suited the atmosphere of Babilar too, especially being a new environment for David to be in. He had a lot more to take in than in Steelheart. So what it lacked in action it made up for in depth.

I suppose it just served as a calm before the storm that is Calamity: the final book in the Reckoners series. One I plan to tackle later this year. Can’t wait.

Firefight gets a score of 5/5. What can I say? The depth of the characters especially made this epic.

Yours in writing



Poohrple Prose – A Review of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

Disney wasn’t my go to animation studio growing up. However, Winnie the Pooh was always a joy to watch, even today as an adult. There was so much whimsy and wholesomeness portrayed in the characters that made them very hard to dislike.

Until now.

We follow Winnie the Pooh and his friends in several short stories of their antics, from overeating and getting stuck in a front door, to tracking down Woozles and interacting with new neighbours. These include some come to life from various Disney movies as well as some ones I was not familiar with.

I’m usually all for unique styles of narration, which is evident in many of my favourite books and series. Percy Jackson, The Book Thief, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time… but while it was a nice narration style at the start, it quickly became convoluted to read. Milne was very fond of songs and poems interrupting his work, and would often make up a paragraph with one incredibly long sentence filled with purple prose. It was supposed to add character, but it just added confusion to me. And a narrative within each short story that was far from concise. It makes me wonder how a child would wrap their head around stories like that being read to them when I had trouble as an almost fully grown adult.

The characters saved the story for me. Seeing the way that these characters were written and their adorable little quirks was incredible, especially seeing how in depth some of the characters go from a single quirk. One favourite for me was Owl portraying himself as a smart person but being ashamed when he knew nothing. It was downright adorable. Rabbit was a favourite too, far more likeable and sweet than how Disney portrayed him. I wonder why they decided to make him so bratty when Pooh was far more bratty and sassy to Rabbit in the actual book.

However, some of these characters were incredibly problematic. For instance, Eeyore. Hate to go and compare books to movies, but Eeyore in Disney’s various adaptations was sad, loveable, and in need of some cuddles. I wanted to punch Eeyore in the books sometimes. A lot of the time it felt like he was using his depression just to get attention, especially with his choice of words. And Winnie the Pooh himself had similar problems too! He was self centred and at times sassy.

This could just be culture shock as I transfer from the cinematic portrayal of the bear with very little brain.

The language was absolutely better in the form of a bedtime story. Just silently reading this on the bus is NOT the ideal way to read this story. Maybe reading this to a kid, things would be a bit more amusing.

Winnie the Pooh gets a score of 3/5. I’m pretty sure I read this the wrong way; not aloud.

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.

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50 Cents Payoff – A Review of The Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce

Admittedly this was a long time coming. My reading was interrupted, first by a terrible book before this I did not finish and then by an overwhelming amount of crucial assignments. Thus this next book was a much slower one to try and finish.

That’s not to say the third instalment in Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic series was bad. Not at all.

In this book Wild Magic user Daine travels South to Carthak. There she tends to the Emperor’s animals and explores the culturally different atmosphere the realm has to offer. Meanwhile, her royal peers try to resolve conflicts the Emperor might start. Then Daine is told by the gods looking over her that she must be weary for what else is in store, more importantly their wrath.

An improvement from the last book in the series, the already introduced characters were mentioned and suitably active. Although it sounded like the events in the previous book a lot of the time were insignificant, aside from Daine learning her shapeshifting abilities. This seems to be a problem across the series, where many of the events don’t appear to correlate across books. This book had less problems occurring with that than the previous ones though, with characters from book one returning with purpose, even if it is minor.

The world building and character interactions linked together well in this book, granted it was one of those “new land” kind of storylines. I have to give props for the variation in settings used to build the world, taking on Eastern cultures to inspire the land of Carthak. There were a handful of moments where it felt like whitewashing was about to take place in the book, but the way that Daine and Kaddar handle it and discussed it as the book progressed wound up sensible, with Daine suggesting societal improvements without depriving Kaddar’s culture. The way these two altered each other’s perspectives worked really way, making me enjoy the chemistry between the two.

The plot was the strongest it has been in the series yet. It was engaging to work out the various mysteries and how they all connected, from the Graveyard Hag to the Emperor’s suspicious behaviour. The buildup was incredible and had me hooked each time, by far Pierce’s strongest plot type compared to her journey and infiltration plots in previous books.

Now comes the biggest issue, the one addressed in the title. Daine ends up in a rage over an event that happens in the climax, a very rare occasion for her. She creates an army of animals to storm the Emperor’s palace in vengeance with the intent to kill him it seems. She does a fantastic job of wrecking the palace, but then she gets to the Emperor. Does she cause any form of physical harm to the Emperor herself? Nope. Other characters do it for their own personal reasons. Then is turns out the event that Daine thought happen didn’t happen due to an illusion? And all she does is get embarrassed for her rage? No. I’m not happy with that. Nothing paid off for Daine in the end. It didn’t feel like a victory despite how obvious it was because her goal was not fulfilled.

You know what they say about an ending making or breaking a book? That applies to me.

The Emperor Mage gets a score of 3.5/5. A filling book with a bad aftertaste, so let’s just imagine that Daine actually resolved the plot herself.

Yours in writing



Captured My Heart – A Review of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

There are very few books I would describe with the phrase “I couldn’t put it down.”

Where do I begin with this book? I guess I should tell you what it’s about first.

Steelheart is the first book of the Reckoners series, which combines action, science fantasy, and dystopia together to create this alternate version of earth. Superhumans known as Epics have taken over the world, each claiming a city or region as theirs to dictate. The one ruling over New Chicago, Steelheart, has killed David’s father, and since then he has devoted his life to working out how to take this epic down. For he’s the only one who knows his weakness. David seeks out to join the Reckoners, a group of underground rebels, their mission aligned with his. They seek out Epics across USA to kill, to give the people hope. If David wants to take Steelheart down, they’ll need to join forces.

A plot and story very reminiscent of Marvel movies, if you ask me. But GOD this was so much greater than them.

First off let’s talk the main character, David. When I first read him, one thing went into my mind. There wasn’t much to him. He started off as a very everyman kind of character, a relatively blank slate. All he had to him was his goal to kill Steelheart. But as I continued to read into the story, that was the point. He was realising how cold his blood had been running. He was so geniusly written! His character arc wound up brilliant as he ultimately became more and realised there was more to the world around him. I wasn’t sure if I would like him initially, but I absolutely did by the end.

Let’s actually take a moment to talk about that world. The way it was politically built felt incredibly real, even when the world is ruled by superhumans. Every aspect of it was shown as it was relevant, barely any information felt forced. From the socio-political status of Newcago’s citizens, to revealing technology and powers, none of it was ever shoved into my face. The way it combined various aspects of fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia into the story felt seamless. I could imagine it so vividly. I guess part of that was the unique imagery of an entire city made of steel, but it had so much more character than that.

I could also imagine the action scenes so vividly. Not only was everything so clear and vivid in my mind without having to write stage directions out like a script, but the emotions and sensations felt so real too. This is what I live to create in my own fight scenes! Seeing it through David’s thoughts, emotions, and logical ways of thinking made it feel very real and personal in my eyes. Not to mention the backdrops they were placed upon felt very cinematic and thematic.

So much of this book was engaging. Honourable mentions go to the first quarter of the book and the last third. That’s not to say this book had a sagging middle, it was still very entertaining. But I read the first quarter and the last third in one sitting. Each. Now that’s what I call engaging. There are very few books that can do that to me outside of the climax alone. And there are very few books where I get close to crying. I won’t say what made me get there, I’m kind like that, but I will say well done for cracking my emotional core.

And yes, this book is now one of my all time favourites. Also I heard that there’s a freaking board game based on this book. HELL yes.

Steelheart gets a score of 5/5. A book that’s impossible to put down will forever be a winner.

Yours in writing



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



Ten Spoonfuls of PSAs – a review of Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

This review will be very different considering I can’t really critique narrative values of myths. I feel like a lot of the content talk will either be me hating on or praising the Greek Gods.

Regardless, Percy Jackson was the series that got me seriously considering writing my own books. I loved it to no end as a 10 year old, binged the whole series in half a year. Thanks to my Year 5 teacher for sparking the fandom inside our classroom!

Anyway, everybody’s favourite son of Poseidon is telling us a new set of stories. This time, he’s exposing the Greek Gods, from the tale of creation to every last Olympian on a throne. And of course, it’s in Young Adult jargon. Though it was published in 2014. So… millennial jargon? American millennial jargon.

I’m just going to get my overall thoughts about the Greek gods first. A lot of them would be arrested in modern society. When I first read Percy Jackson I really liked Zeus, but his godly portrayal is disgusting! The king of the gods was a rapist. And a major player. And heavily tempered. All I read in the books initially was that he had a temper. This makes me look at a lot of the content that the gods do very differently and it makes me question the morals of ancient Greek society.

Leading off of that, I’m surprised this book was still appropriate for it’s age group of 10+. There were some dark things being mentioned, but they were done in a way that was appropriate. Somehow. Maybe it’s just because it’s been years since I read the original Percy Jackson series. Regardless, I didn’t gasp out loud too much. I’d call that age group appropriate.

That being said, you could tell this was for their age group because there was a PSA on every five pages about not cheating on your partners, not having a relative as a partner, and condoning underage drinking. In literally every scene that contains it. This was one aspect that felt first off, very distracting, and secondly, out of character for our narrator, Percy. Especially to the ridiculous extents that they went to, like saying wine is only drunk by middle aged people. They can hope! I may not drink alcohol much, but I wouldn’t be such a buzzkill for those that do.

Let’s talk more about Percy’s voice. This honestly had some very mixed results with some questionable executions. It is fair that Percy makes a lot of modern references to put the Greek gods into a more relatable perspective. My main issue was how some of them pulled me out of the story. For one, there was the constant comparison of saying Mt. Olympus was an apartment complex? That was one of the worser ones that added nothing to the way each god’s story was told. Some of the others made absolute sense, like setting up the dinner date scene for when Uranus died. But a few really had me question a lot of things.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this read was how Percy’s voice and comparisons humanised the gods. Throughout this I imagined the tales of the Greek gods working just as well as a modern drama series, probably on the Game of Thrones side with the war and bloodshed still going on. These gods were put down as much as they were glorified and it showed them as true of colours as any well written character. The wordings worked wonders too, able to take a mature concept to a younger audience without degrading the stories themselves. For the right moments, Riordan was able to write something serious and beautiful despite the narrator typically not being that way. And it felt natural.

Speaking of realism, what I really appreciated was the moments of ambiguity that related to changing views in classical society and a lack of sources. Having taken history and classics in high school, I approve highly of this. And the way this was explained felt organic to the world, with Percy implying the issues with word of mouth.

I think I reviewed that okay? It’s harder to review something without a typical narrative when that’s your strongest point of study in the writing craft. Hope this review suffices.

Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods gets a score of 4/5. Those PSAs were so frequent and corny that they need to become memes, but the rest of it was literature.

Yours in writing



Politics. But it’s Animals! – a review of Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce

Wild Magic was this novel’s tame predecessor. And in this case, you can’t beat the original.

Daine returns in Wolf Speaker to save the wolf pack she grew up with. The leaders of a human settlement nearby are driving the wolves out of their home, and Daine, as a voice for the animals, must find a way to give the animals their home back. But it’s more than just greed behind the plights of the royalty and the mages that rule there…

This being the first book that’s a continuation of a series I’ve read being reviewed on this blog, I have a lot of different things to talk about here.

This book didn’t build a lot off of the previous book, Wild Magic. The connections between books one and two felt like an afterthought, with characters previously crucial in the start of the series only appearing, or even being mentioned, at the climax. While realistic, it wasn’t done well in terms of narrative. The only things that felt truly connected were Daine’s magic, the divine badger, and Daine’s anger for Stormwings. This makes these facts only forgiven if the entire series was binged, which it was not. I read the first book at least eight months ago. Despite a majority of the plot from that book not being remembered, I read this book feeling like it was a second beginning to the series. Right from chapter one the link between the two stories felt disjointed.

That being said, the story was good standing alone. These new characters, although many, felt very real and with a strong variety. The magic being built on the world was splendid, as did the building of the monarchy. There was additionally a real, solid villain who didn’t have lines straight out of a Batman TV episode. There wasn’t a character I hated amongst that book at all! They were all very well built with their motivations, too. However, many of the less iconic characters did blend together a lot. Many of the characters talked the same, especially the animals. There were too many wolves to work out who was who aside from two of them.

Whether this is because of my greater knowledge in the craft of writing or not, Wolf Speaker’s use of language and words seemed significantly weaker than in Wild Magic. Odd bits of passive voice, grammar errors, and lines I had to reread came up. This made the reading a lot slower, alongside some strong pacing issues towards the start. It didn’t help that these were lengthy chapters that could have easily been broken down further. The endings of the chapters made me more relieved than wanting more, in all honesty.

However, the second half of the plot was definitely engaging. All writers seems to know how to write a climax effectively in my opinion. Some very topical political and environmental implications built up the plot well. And it didn’t get old, the story still relevant over 15 years on! This was especially well implemented with characters like Maura, oblivious to the harms being done on the nature and learning to care for it and see things a different way. That being said, a few characters felt like they were being swayed a bit too easily. Still, the ending was satisfying even if some of the threads were still left flying in the wind. That will probably lead into book 3, which I’ll be reading later this year.

Wolf Speaker gets a score of 3.5/5. You can’t beat the original if you barely acknowledge it, even when your plot and cast are so good.

The Title Was Already A Pun – A Review of Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

It is no secret that I love The Book Thief. So when I heard that Markus Zusak was releasing another book, I knew I would be buying that.

I can honestly say that I had no idea what to expect of the plot. All I knew before I read it was that the Dunbar family of five brothers were going to experience some conflict, and it was down the the second youngest, Clay, to bring the family back together again.

God, was it more.

I was really curious about this book, as it is marketed as being very contemporary. I’m very selective when it comes to general and contemporary fiction, but I knew I was into something good judging by how deep Zusak would go into his works. I wasn’t wrong. He dives into elements you wouldn’t expect to come out of what he is writing, tying so many things together and making meaning out of seemingly insignificant things and moments. I guess that’s what draws me to Zusak. He takes something you think you’d know everything about, and then he shows you the rest of the iceberg.

Zusak used an interesting choice of structure in the telling of Clay’s story. It certainly wasn’t linear, but parallel. Chapters would switch between the past and the present, and the connections made between them were small but meaningful and gave a grand perspective of things. And it made total sense for it to be written swapping between the two. The situations were very relevant in respect to each other and it built up on the character of Clay a lot.

Speaking of Clay, his character is very interesting. He is very enigmatic at first, but that’s because we don’t know about him. The structure enhances us knowing his drives, insecurities, and connections with his family.

There was one thing I was uncertain of in Zusak’s decisions. I wasn’t entirely sure why it was the oldest brother telling the story. There was obviously some kind of reason behind that and I feel I might have missed it, and I doubt that reason was beyond the connection between him and Clay. I’ve been thinking it over for a while and still haven’t found any other clues.

Character I Loved

I really enjoyed the boys’ mother, Penny. Her drive and her story was all very touching, and she was a very strong character as well. Everything associated with her I fell for.

Character I Loved to Hate

There wasn’t really one of those, but Rory could get pretty annoying at times. It was all intentional, I could tell, but some of the things he did, man.

Favourite Chapter

Chapter 7 was very interesting with the focus on Clay’s love interest, Carey. It was quite the change of scenery and focus that felt pretty nice in my opinion.

Favourite Serious Quote

How many letters to Carey could he formulate, but not yet write?

Well, this was a familiar feeling. This quote stabbed me in the heart with an honest weight.

Favourite Not-So-Serious Quote

I don’t have a favourite, but they’re all to do with their donkey, Achilles.

Overall Verdict

A simple story with a whole lot of depth. Bridge of Clay gets a score of 4/5.

Yours in writing



Not Fit For A Queen – A Review of Emerald by Karen Wallace

I started off March with a slump of DNFs. I had many books on my to-be-read shelf, and I picked many of those up without finishing them because they didn’t have the hook I was looking for.

But then I found Emerald by Karen Wallace, which seemed like a promising historical fiction book.

Emerald St John’s pulled the short straw. Her absent mother is forcing her to marry Lord Suckley (who should’ve been named Lord Assholey, and that’s the least censored version I can give) on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to her mother’s home. Nobody can help her – not the aunt and uncle she stays with, not her brother Richard sailing the seas, and not the arrogant court lady who Emerald puts up with, Arabella. That is until she is offered the only way she can fix this – to warm up to the Queen and stop the plot against her assassination.

This book had potential, along with some well done aspects. The character arc of Arabella was done spectacularly, for one thing. I’ll explain that later down. The language used in it was very vivid and characteristic to Emerald, particularly when things became personal with her.

But then come the disappointments.

Emerald was engineered way too well to fit her role. It was very hard to feel for her because there was only one overarching thing she struggled with. She had the tools and skills to execute her plans from the start. This didn’t feel right. Not to mention she barely developed and the plot was made up quite a bit on coincidence. So late in the book, it’s practically a sin. This would be better if she made a strong impact on the characters around her, but spoiler alert – she didn’t. Most people had their hearts in similar places that she did. At least she did have flaw with her snappy tongue, but for goodness sake some of the stuff in there!

And relationships didn’t happen realistically enough for me to care about them! I could understand everyone who Emerald hated perfectly, but then it came down to everyone she liked and loved. She’d claim that, but where was it? Nowhere. The romantic subplot in this story was practically a Cinderella romance! So much for her wanting to marry for love when she grasped onto a romance way too quickly and without even explaining why. Okay, she did. It was because he danced well. I know a good dancer when I see one, but that’s not meant to lead to marriage! Surely, not in that time period.

I would have liked the book way more if Emerald was fixed. The structure of the plot and the events that happened were what kept me reading, and they were written well. But I’m going to be subjective in this one and say that the main character can make or break the book because it is their story, and Emerald’s story wasn’t real enough for me to decently score it.

Character I Loved

Arabella was the best written character of them all, who had more of an arc than Emerald did. The way that she learned to consider others and not take advantage of them was so suited to her. She may not have been likeable from the start, but she grew on me the most.

Character I Loved to Hate

When I was reading this I first saw it as either Emerald’s mother or Lord Suckley. After writing this whole review thing, you can probably see who I really hate now. I’m sorry, Emerald, your potential was wasted.

Favourite Chapter

Chapter One set up the scene, the tone, everything so well. That hooked me for sure.

Favourite Serious Quote

“I suggest you spend some time watching that bull over there.” She sniggered. “It should broaden your education.”

I’m just a sucker for quotes containing symbolism and foreshadowing. I’d have never seen the significance of it coming.

Favourite Not-So-Serious Quote

“And I must tell you that I loathe cards.”

Who doesn’t love a good roast? Especially when the receiver of this line is a pig.

Overall Verdict

I was promised a struggle, and it didn’t suffice. Emerald gets a 2/5.

Yours in writing



I Did Nazi That Coming – A Review of Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis

I had never thought I’d be using this pun in the title of a review, and here I am.

I picked up Bitter Seeds in a bookshop at the end of January, intrigued by its seemingly unconventional plot. It lived up to its first impressions and was finished in under three weeks.

In case the title of the book didn’t provide insight into this book, it takes place during the second world war. Only that there are some unusual players in the game; the Nazis have young adults with trained psychic abilities on their side, as British government agent Raybould Marsh finds out on a mission in Spain. As the Nazis gain on the Allies in the war, Raybould calls upon Will, a friend from university, to help provide their own supernatural secrets to win the war. That secret is Warlocks.

The premise itself was a hook; I have recently discovered a joy over reading books taking place in the Second World War. But this book was full of surprises. It was not simply battles and blood, although they did feature in it. The explorations of loyalty and morals were done very well in the context of this. And boy, was it dark. If you’re not a fan of dark stuff, this may not be your book. Oh, but it was SO my book! These relationships, these stakes… it was good!

But there was still some bad. I feel like with some characters while they got me engaged their personalities could have gone deeper. In particular, some of their motives get lost. The ending was also a lot calmer than I had anticipated. Without giving spoilers I’d say that the stakes weren’t quite as high as is typically structured at that point of the book, so its final chapters were a deflation of a lot of the mood.

Character I Loved

Gretel outright wins this. Her character is the most intriguing I’ve ever seen. From her thought processes, to her sinister charm, to her relationships I was hooked in. She was as well written as the protagonists, but I love her more than that. While she is totally on the bad side, I kind of want to protect her. Not that she needs it…

Character I Loved To Hate

Reinhart. Oh, the bastard. The things he does combined with his asshole nature just boils my blood! While Gretel did some dark things, some even darker than he did, I hate him more because of that a-word that is used to describe him.

Favourite Chapter

Chapter nine was full of all the emotions, and I drank them right up!

Favourite Serious Quote

‘Ravens everywhere huddled in their nests, to ride out the ice.’

This requires a lot of context and knowledge of its symbolism, but in short it was a beautiful way to describe how the world in the perspective of the ravens had turned to chaos.

Favourite Not So Serious Quote


And that was how Gretel roasted Rudolf and I fell in love with her.

Overall Verdict

A pleasant surprise with engaging content.

Bitter seeds gets a score of 4/5.

Yours in writing