My Brain Is Small – a review of An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

I kid you not. I read two books in a row with a character with the same name.

This was a pure coincidence, because throughout June, the internationally recognised Pride Month, I will be reading novels featuring LGBTQIA+ protagonists and authors. This author, who uses they/them pronouns, has an intersex protagonist and a trans-feminine love interest.

Aster works as a botanist on a starship called The Matilda. As the lower decks face power cuts on a regular basis, Aster’s bunkmate Giselle breaks a code found within Aster’s late mother’s diary entries. This leads Aster on a mission to find out what she was hiding, what is wrong with her home and the history of it. All the while, the medic she is apprenticed other has news that their leader is dying and about to be replaced by a far more corrupt leader.

The writing style was brought down this novel a lot for me. This is not a book for everyone and one I would not call accessible on the first read. The main POV characters, largely Aster, are very scientifically minded and analytical. This meant that the POV from a third person perspective almost felt non fiction and essay like for me. I stay away from non fiction in text form because I struggle to keep focus, and that’s how I felt about this book. Too much like a non fiction author giving a go at writing fiction.

One character was intriguing enough for me to continue reading. Giselle and her derangement was the only thing that kept me going, the only character in this novel with a personality and arc worth observing. Maybe it was just because she was so different from everyone being so monotone? And the things she does to get shit done too, now I write about this and think on it. We see one POV chapter from her perspective, and I think it may have been far more entertaining to read this story through her lens.

The plot had potential when paired with interesting worldbuilding. The politics of this novel was one of the few things I could understand and I enjoyed learning about that side of things and the poverty of the lower levels inside of this spacecraft. But more focus was put into sciences. I understand that it is a trope of sci fi, and maybe I’m realising how I don’t like this specific kind of sci fi. Ah well. I still liked the sci fi politics.

All that was ruined for me by a confusing ending. To my knowledge this book was a standalone. It ended on too many disappointing uncertainties. Too much depression. So much hard work to end in an eternal sadness for dear Aster. Literally. I would be okay with this kind of an ending if I knew why they decided to end this book in such a way, but as established there was a lot in this book I didn’t pick up.

So all in all, I was too stupid to enjoy this book.

An Unkindness of Ghosts gets a score of 2.5/5. Maybe I shouldn’t have dropped the science subjects the first chance I got.


We Don’t Talk About Bruno – a review of The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

When people talk about WWII fiction, this book is often mentioned. Sometimes even studied. Can I just say, don’t? Your future is bleak if you read this book.

In the middle of World War II, Bruno is forced to move out of his city home due to a promotion and job opportunity his father got. His new home in the middle of the country takes him away from everything he ever knew and comes with many strange things that makes him uncomfortable. His twelve year old sister gets infatuated with one of his father’s pretentious co-workers, and many other men in uniform can’t seem to get away from him family home. Bruno learns that the servants in his house may be in trouble and he doesn’t understand why. But the thing that captures Bruno’s attention the most is a view from his window; children wearing what he thinks are striped pajamas all playing behind a fence.

Bruno was not an easy character to sympathise with. Boyne kept telling us we should, but up against the titular boy in striped pajamas and a whole lot more going on in the context of WWII it was crocodile tears. Especially when Bruno was so oblivious to what was going on! It would have been easier to resonate with Bruno if he was able to learn these things sooner and recognise what this meant. Kids are smart you know, but not in this story!

Repetition was a crutch for Boyne’s writing style, which did not help with making me like Bruno. It made some of the better uses of language look stale all too much. This is usually forgiven in a children’s book, but it was specifically stated in the blurb that it was not a children’s book. Adults don’t like this being talked down too and being constantly reminded of obvious details thing. I will not forgive Boyne for how dumb he treated me as a reader and Bruno as the lead.

I guess the plot was solid? You could see what the story could become, but for me it didn’t get there. The substance was there, the concept was there, but then the writing surrounding it and the style turned stew to vomit. Y’know, this kind of stuff enrages me. Missed potential angers me. Usually this means that I would end up wanting to find a better story. But I’ve already found that story. It is my favourites.

And I can confirm that this novel, in spite of what looked like a promising plot for most of this story, is my least favourite WWII historical fiction. It’ll be hard to beat.

The Boy in Striped Pajamas gets a score of 1.5/5. If I hear Bruno speak one more time… oh never mind he died. He can’t speak again.


Let’s Explore A Castle! – a review of The Mystery of the Golden Card by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

I will admit, after the disappointment of the previous book in the Troubletwisters series I was worried that maybe this series wasn’t all that I thought it was as a kid. when book one hooked me and book two had the thread fraying, I was worried my love for the series would drop the deeper into it I got.

But hey, we’ve risen up to the peak of the series now.

With Grandma X, the main defender of Portland from the Evil, gets hospitalised after a car accident, her grandchildren Jack and Jaide feel it is their responsibility to solve the latest catastrophe happening in their small town. Master Rourke died mysteriously in his old and lavish castle, and the twins suspect it has something to do with the Evil, especially when their father is involved too. But all is not as it seems in this castle, as the Evil seeks out a powerful magical artefact that the twins now must get their hands on without anyone else knowing.

This book made me regain my faith in the series. If you’ve read my thoughts on the previous book, then you’d know that its quality sagged in a book that felt like filler. Book three, however, was far more enthralling. It had everything the first book had and more. It felt fun, connected. It had a lot of purpose and connections to what I remember was in the fourth book in the series. All the flaws from the previous book were basically solved.

The vibes in this book were exquisite. The minor academia vibes from earlier on in the series were amplified as Jack and Jaide explored his castle and I was here for it! Who does find the prospect of exploring an abandoned castle exciting? And the magic really dove into those vibes in quirky ways. the aesthetic really tied together and amplified the old house vibes from the previous two books.

The twins are once again shining in this book with their personalities and teamwork. Each book we see the various ways in which Jack and Jaide’s ways of thinking diverge, Jaide’s energy and Jack’s caution especially. It’s also enjoyable to see how loyal thare to each other in this book. There’s just something about siblings bonding to me.

People often underestimate simpler plotlines and how enticing they can be, and the object quest in this book was severely fun. I forgot many of the clues that lead to finding the titular gold card, and the trail that we went down to find them was thoroughly entertaining. Pair that up with the social side of things and the lies the twins must tell to solve this mystery, and the whole plot ties together neatly with a little bow.

So now I’m waiting for the time to be right to read book four.

The Mystery of the Golden Card gets a score of 4.5/5. You had me at exploring a castle.


Cozy Tragedy – a review of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden is my favourite classic literature book of all time. It was time I tried some of Hodgson Burnett’s other books, and this was the next most popular of her works.

Sarah Crewe is sent to live at Miss Minchin’s School for Girls while her father pursues further riches in India. She is quick to capture the hearts of her fellow students with her kind heart, charity and mantra of mantra of behaving like a princess. But when her father dies and her fortune in indebted to Miss Minchin’s frugal spending, Sarah if forced to put aside her studies and work to survive. But with all the misfortune that keeps getting thrown her way, does her kind heart remain untouched?

Sarah’s arc of impacting others was the most beautiful I have ever seen. These kinds of flat arcs are among my favourites, in which the most wholesome character in the book is the main character and teachers their mantra to everyone they know. Sarah must have been the character to start this trend, to teach her fellows to be charitable by example and show great kindness. What makes this better is how the events in this book make her struggle with her own beliefs and how she still has to fight back. In her mind and perspective we do not see this as being easy. It was incredibly written.

I don’t know how, but Hodgson Burnett was able to make such wholesome moments out of such tragedies. My emotions back AND front flipped from every event that happened within this book as sad moments got turned so happy, beautiful and wholesome. Cozy, I think, is the best way to describe this altogether. The sensation of being in an old home and wrapping yourself up in a blanket while sitting next to the fireplace.

For a book with the primary audience being children, I liked how mature elements of this tale were. For reference, I once watched a dumbed-down animated movie of this story and expect the plot to be identical. It was nothing like that movie. That movie was so dumbed down and edited that the two bare little resemblance to each other. The pitfalls in this book felt very real, from bankruptcy to bullying. The emotions felt so raw every time.

A little side note to finish off. This is the second book I have read by the same author following an English girl being raised in India and then returning to England and experiencing some levels of culture shock. Strange coincidence.

A Little Princess gets a score of 4.5/5. Misfortune never felt so cozy.

Every Heart a Doorway

Not Your Storybook Ending- a review of Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Has a premise ever hooked you so much that you just had to read that book? Something so abnormal and unheard of that provides the best insights never delved into before?

I found that book. Hear me out:

What happens when you return from Wonderland? Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children cares for children who have returned from other worlds, offering them education and therapy to help them return to their normal lives. Nancy is the newest student, having returned from an Underworld and having her entire being changed as a result. And she learns she isn’t the only one to experience this. But with her arrival death is close behind, and now the school must find the source of the untimely deaths before the school is shut down.

Instantly this premise charmed me, more so as a writer of a portal fantasy series and a fan of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland and the like. The whimsy of these worlds and the entrance and exit out of these portals overshadow what happens when these children return. How does one begin to explain the madness they saw and how they were changed by it? This all dealing with mental health surrounding getting evicted from a place you once belonged was a very interesting insight and the main dealings with the introduction of this world.

The characters were quite unrealistic, but that was the point. Abnormal worlds affected their personalities and turned them all mad, and each wound up mad in a different way. The worldbuilding even had systems for it. This felt like a mixed bag at times, because while these characters were unlike anything I’d ever seen their quirks overshadowed their depth at times. In fairness, it is very difficult to balance the two to the extent that is required for this book.

To combat the complexities of these characters, the simple plot of a murder mystery really helped to balance things out. It was a genuine shock to me in a very sensible way. The stakes were solid within this plot and left me constantly guessing who would die next or who was behind it – was it magic or mundane? This made for a very engaging story.

The ending was not something I was fond of however because of how disconnected things were. The ending was only partly solved by our main character Nancy, and the lesson she wound up learning to get her perfect ending was disjointed from the main plot. For things that were so promising to start with and something really compelling, this really brought it down for me.

Every Heart A Doorway gets a score of 4/5. Fairytales don’t end in the nicest ways once you look beyond the pages.

Iron Widow

Content Dictates Form – a review of Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

This book is making me trust BookTok again. This is the debut of one of the first AuthorTokers I followed and I am severely late to the party while reading this. But this marked a milestone as the first book I read in 2023.


Zetian gets recruited as a co-pilot of a Chrysalis, Qi infused mecha that fight off the aliens threatening to demolish civilization. But Zetian is not looking to be a hero, she’s out for revenge. To kill the pilot who killed her sister in battle by draining all her Qi out of her. Just like many other pilots have done. But when is succeeds, an unbelievable power and source of Qi is found within her. And instead of being executed, she becomes a puppet to this scheme. Just like her even deadlier co-pilot she is paired up with.

Even from reading the blurb the atmosphere and vibes of this novel were incredibly strong. I mean, Qi infused mecha in a Chinese-inspired futuristic world? Sign me the hell up. It sounds like something where you’re unsure if it would work, but it absolutely does. I think where this particularly hits is with content dictating form, with the feminist and Chinese history retellings in a sci fi setting clearly dictated how the world and the story would behave. And it works so freaking well. I’m not sure if Zhao knew about Sondheim’s musical writing advice, but whatever they did such practices translated well in the creation of Iron Widow.

While at first seeming like a battle heavy plot, I appreciate to no end the variety of conflicts and plot points this novel had to mix things up. It was interpersonal, it was political, it got media practices and celebrity culture involved. Gender, colonization, patriarchy screwing the world over. What doesn’t this book have? Something to fall asleep to, that’s for sure. You really get your money’s worth in this book.

Zetian had a very interesting character development while reading about her for me personally. At first she read very much like any other girl who’s not like other girls, but her arc revolves around how she got put into that position and struggling to work out what to embrace and what to revolt against. It made my opinions on her reverse completely as she judged the systems and became very subversive from her initial starting points.

But need I talk about only her? Everyone in this book was incredible. It is rare for every person and their motivations to make sense within this book, but somehow Zhao manages to do it. I loved all of them and their unique perspectives, quirks and resolves. It was very easy to tell each of them apart and make sense of how they acted and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Needless to say, this was a stellar debut. And I’m so glad I read it just in time to hear promo of the sequel coming out later this year.

Iron Widow gets a score of 5/5. The story dictated the world like nothing else.

Yours in writing


Falling Through

Cousin of Stranger Things – a review of Falling Through by Ben Pick

I’m not only happy to be reviewing another Indie book, but the book of another author I know. For proof, I was in the acknowledgements of this novel and needless to say that touched me. Made me feel kind of guilty for reading it so late, but I’m glad to be reading this nonetheless.

Because I’ve yet to read another book anything like this one. Well, until the sequel comes out.

Derek’s developed powers beyond his imagining. When he shows this off to his best friend Tracy, he brings forth a monster into their town that gives him the chills every time he’s near it. Still, Tracy ushers him to train and experiment despite the damage he’s doing to himself and those around him. And when it gets too far, he drags him and his friends into a journey across time to fix his own mistakes and many others they made throughout history.

This book has one of the tightest plots I have ever read. This was absolutely the strongest suit for Pick and showed a bunch of effort and care as threads got tied and Chekhov’s Gun got fired multiple times. Not only that, but is was a very easy story to follow. The magic system, character relationships, arcs… everything was solid.

It was refreshing to see two sides of teen characters that people complain don’t get seen enough or claim is unrealistic. We see both the characters who care about their grades and the characters wanting to truly embrace their powers and not think of the consequences of them. Both are underrepresented in the contemporary and urban fantasy books I have come across, and it was such a delight to see those sides here in this book.

That being said, the one things that wasn’t realistic in all this was dialogue. It quite often felt clunky and screamed that this dialogue wasn’t written by a teen. A lot of teen characters are of course not written by teens, but with this book you could really tell. It painted the teen characters as mature with some lines, which there is nothing wrong with, but then the following dialogue lines felt like they came out of someone much younger than seventeen.

I didn’t mind when the vibes of this novel were so strong! I’d describe this novel’s vibes as the cousin to Stranger Things, where it is different for sure but with enough similarities to entice fans of the series. The small town vibes, monsters versus superpowered teens, family amongst friends… See what I mean? Now pair that with the magic exploration and journeys across time in so many different formats and you get Falling Through. Good vibes.

All in all a strong debut and career-started for Ben Pick. Look out for what’s next for sure.

Falling Through gets a score of 4/5. El would be envious of what’s happening in this book.

Yours in writing


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


Red Queen

The Great Switcheroo – a review of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

BookTok has been very divisive about this book. And still the premise intrigued me. And for the time it remained on my TBR the debates on this book plagued me.

And I now understand why it’s so divisive because I also feel the same way after reading this.

The powerful and magically enhanced Silver blooded put the Red blooded into poverty. And after a series of events involving petty thievery and employment in court, Mare discovers that she is just as powerful as the Silvers despite being Red. The crown claims her as a long lost Silver, clearly afraid of the consequences this may cause especially with a rebellion of Reds seeking to take them down. And Mare is a part of it, yet she falls for a pair of Silver princes seeking equity for Reds. But what will her rebellion do to them?

While I liked the worldbuilding it was very confusing to visualise it. This is because it felt both modern and old at the same time, whether by districts or even within individual locations. I guess it’s too unique to visualise slums with generators fueling homes close to a modern and industrial arena with Superbowl jumbo screens. As a very visual person this was very annoying. Every story I’ve read I could get a visual vibe from very easily and this one kept me second guessing when this was comparably set to modern day histories and cultures.

The plot itself was well done. I love myself some political intrigue and learning the ways of a world being run while attempting to take it down in the process. Mare had a very good lens and adaptability for this as a result. This made the scenes within court very entertaining to watch. Shame that it took a while to get there, but once we did I very much enjoyed it. And Mare was making allies! Quite often it is a game of making enemies in these situations, but making allies was a good thing to see in this story.

The characters themselves are great for the most part. You could get their motivations pretty easily and while some of them were tropey I didn’t mind. They were made in a way that still made them enjoyable and had them still hold depth, have agency and so much more. This was good character writing.

And now the bad side of this coin. This turned me away from continuing the series like nothing. There is a twist villain, but it’s almost a Hans from Frozen level of a twist villain. The former not villain had their entire personality go through a switcharoo that I’m convinced it was an evil twin and not the actual character we came to know about. I have never seen such a bad way to tell a story. I’ve read good twist villains in The Dragon Lords and and this mocks them.

As a result the way this novel ended broke my enjoyment. I realised that to continue this series I would be reading something that I would not enjoy. The story changed drastically. I won’t be reading this series.

Red Queen gets a score of 3.5 out of 5. Don’t pull a switcheroo on me like that, you know how much I hate it.

Yours in writing


Beyond the Empire

The Best Golden Trio – a review of Beyond the Empire by K.B. Wagers

This was the final series I was able to finish in 2022, and it’s quite wholesome with the values this series holds. This is the first non-dystopian sci fi series I’ve ever liked and I’m so glad I found this on a reading list somewhere and scored the first book second hand. We’ll talk more about the whole series in a bit, but first we half to talk about the book that closed it all.

Empress Hail Bristol now has her sights sets on killing Wilson, the man responsible for the death of everyone in her family. When he knows everything about her and her every move, this proves a difficult task. Even more so when she still has to return home and thwart the forces keeping her away. Hail has to put faith in her allies despite the pain of losing them in order to work out more about Wilson, any weakness he may have, and kill him before she gets to her beloved. Then her.

Hail, Zin and Emmory continue to be highlights as the three main characters. Still their vibes are so good and undeniable, feeling like they’ve known each other for years when Hail was only a part of this for months. Every single time these characters and their interpersonal conflicts, though on the resolution end of their arcs, always feel the realest and Wagers has a clear passion for these guys.

Other characters are still lacking in comparison to the main three. They blend together a little too easily where some of their deaths don’t make the impact they do as I struggle to remember who they are. This may be a product of me not binging the series all at once, but it still got problems nonetheless. Big casts are hard to manage after all, for author and reader alike.

The third act was the clear highlight of the novel. It really showcased the power of the villain, Wilson, unlike other times in the novel. He was previously a very passive villain who claimed to have every other villain on puppet strings. But the third act was all Wilson and it truly showed how cunning he was. It made his reputation finally be worth his name to see what Hail and her allies had to go through simply to get a single hit on him.

I will admit the end felt both hollow and not. I think that was the point. This isn’t the first ending that works but isn’t satisfying that I have come across, but I saw the point of this one clearer than previous ones. I will say it does lessen my view of the series, being a person that hinges on endings making or breaking stories so much. This just makes one very passable. I guess others would feel differently, but it wasn’t exactly a big whoop for me. I won’t complain.

Beyond the Empire gets a score of 4/5. The best golden trio is in this book.

Now that the series is over, we gotta review it as a whole.

Behind the Throne – 5/5, the book that finally got me into sci fi with rich worldbuilding galore.

After the Crown – 4/5, all goes to Hell in the best way possible.

Beyond the Empire – 4/5, a golden trio and a villain who truly get their chances to shine.

I’d recommend this series as an ideal gateway for fantasy readers looking to get into sci fi. The rich worldbuilding and easy to understand tech implements sci fi is known for make this a very engaging read from the world alone. Pair that with a brilliant written protagonist with the best bodyguards by her side. I wish that more background characters garnered more attention and personality, but with a trio like that and so many highs, who can complain?

The Indranan War gets a score of 4/5. This series is a keeper.

Yours in writing



Mundane, Not Magical – a review of Rebel by RJ Anderson

Trust your younger self. That is the lesson I got after reading this novel – and trying to read it – for the second time.

Oh, I didn’t get that lesson from the actual book itself. In fact, when I first tried to read the sequel to the cozy and pure urban fantasy Knife I did not finish it because it lost my interest. I thought that was a product of my age. It wasn’t. I should’ve taken that as a warning to never try book 2 in this series again.

Timothy doesn’t know that his older cousin and his wife are protecting a fairy’s home. Not until he runs away with one desperately needing his help. With the magic from the oak where she resides fading away, Linden seeks Timothy’s help to find anything to restore the magic in London or beyond. But new histories of fairies meet Linden’s ears as she learns the true story of her people, and now she has more than she own home to save.

The plot kept fluctuating between interesting and dull. Well, more so dull. Because when I thought it could be interesting the direction taken was such a bad and predictable cliche that made this novel’s plotline feel like a copy of every existing novel ever, even outside of the genre. It was left with such disappointment on this emotional rollercoaster.

All the character and magic that the first book had was lost. And I don’t even mean that in terms of plot! The predecessor had such rich worldbuilding in such a small location with such a great fairy aesthetic that felt super raw. This one felt like every generic fish out of water object quest I have ever seen in the media. I do not know how all of the character from the previous novel got so drastically drained from what was once magical! And the irony is there were buttloads more magics in the sequel.

As for the characters themselves, they lost their personality the longer the novel went on. That was such a shame for lead character Tim because he had such a promising start as a lead – prone to fights, music lover, struggling with his faith and fitting in after moving from South Africa… all that was lost the minute a bland ass do-gooder fairy named Linden (clear Mary Sue material against all but the BBEG) entered his life.

I’ll just say read Knife as a standalone. You don’t need to know about the rest of the world at all. The bigger the world gets, the duller it becomes.

Rebel gets a score of 1.5//5. Not the lowest rated, but easily the most disappointing read in a very long time.

Yours in writing



It’s Not the End! – a review of The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

It feels like a relief to review a third book in a series and have it not be the final installment. Aren’t you sick of the number of trilogies on shelves lately? Thank goodness Samantha Shannon exists and decided to make a seven book series (to my knowledge). We’re almost halfway through and it ain’t even fully published yet, but here we go reviewing book three!

Clairvoyants are under threat as SCION rolls out technology to detect lower classes of clairvoyants, making them easier to kill on sight. And this is just the start. As the Clairvoyants of London go underground, Mime Queen Paige Mahoney steps up. She seeks out the locations they’re building these devices to work out the root of the problem and destroy it. All the while she meets a new enemy who knows everything about her, and she’s always one step ahead of Paige as she races against one of the coldest human minds in the world.

This had the strongest plot, and by far my most favourite, out of the series thus far. You know what you’re getting from the start, and it delivers like we wish delivery companies wish they would. The goals are clear, the consequences of failure are equally clear and it makes for a very tight plotline. It made for the best pacing in the series yet as each problem Scion’s technology created was solved to the best of the character’s ability.

It was good to see the world built out across the UK and Ireland. As I’ve mentioned again and again, worldbuilding is a strong point of Shannon’s work. And you can tell it with each city Paige and her Mime Order visits. Each had uniqueness and character to distinguish them from each other while still being under the same government and control systems. From the polluted streets of Manchester to the militant Edinburgh and the cultural influences both had. It really brings a lot more character to this dystopia that other novels fail to do or differentiate to a comedic degree. Shannon knows what she’s doing.

Character was starting to fall flat a little bit however. While I like how Paige’s main arc surrounds her newfound leadership position and the decisions she makes surrounding it at times of crisis, it felt underutilised. It disappeared after the first act. Combine that with some other weird decisions she makes to have conflict for the sake of it which winds up being redundant in the end, and you get Paige’s odd arc. Side characters blended together too and were more recognised for their roles than their personalities.

In spite of characters falling flat their relationships were very well grounded and explored. That was where Paige and the other characters shone – with each other. How they each helped with their arcs, betrayed each other, made decisions. That was really engaging. It wound up being very gripping in the climax for spoilery reasons.

All in all, three books in I’m glad I gave this series a chance. Here’s to reading book four in a couple of months!

The Song Rising gets a score of 4/5. We’re continuing very happily with this series.

Yours in writing



I am Nick – a review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Classics have been given a weird reputation in the past few months, where you’re not a true reader if you haven’t tried the classics and you are pretentious to say that otherwise. And I will admit I have DNF’d classics the most out of any genre to the point where I do want to read them less.

This one I didn’t. What does that mean? Well, in the history of my classic DNFs it means it’s easy enough to read and has pacing that doesn’t make me want to die in my sleep.

When Nick Carraway moves to Long Island and gains work in New York, he rents a small cottage next to the estate of Jay Gatsby. As he grows fascinated with the spectacle and enigma, Nick gets approached by Gatsby to reunite with his love who Nick is related to.

The standout of this novel was narrative voice and basically what everyone talks about, and I can see why now I’ve read it. There’s something about the rose coloured glasses that the POV character Nick wears that make this novel so charming. He makes artistry out of otherwise mundane glam, and the way he pours his emotions into everything makes a quite nice unreliable narration.

That being said, a lot of the plot felt like a blur with both the author and Nick’s attention to detail and the way he fluffed everything up. Even though I read this novel quite recently I don’t quite know what went on. It’s just a big general idea of Nick’s observations of interpersonal conflict going on around him. In retrospect that sounds like me and makes him so relatable, but enough of that tangent! When everything in a story matters, this was hard to discern.

A lot of people say that Gatsby’s character is the one that shines, but maybe they were overshadowed by DiCaprio’s depiction. I was certainly expecting that coming in to read this book, but found that he fell flat in comparison. So much for him being the titular character. He felt relatively passive and generic as a love interest, the only thing making him appealing was how he was less toxic than his love interest’s husband.

The characters that I felt were way better and compelling, aside from the POV character of Nick of course, were Daisy and Jordan. I feel like my younger “feminazi” self who refused to have a favourite character who was male, but no need with these ladies. I felt for Daisy’s want to get out of her husband’s shadow and to decide on a life for herself and how Gatsby symbolised that for her. And Jordan’s personality, maturity and interpersonal skills made her far more charming than the titular character. Maybe it should’ve been titled better.

So yeah, Great Gatsby is a classic that exists. That’s cool.

The Great Gatsby gets a score of 3/5. Just Watch DiCaprio I guess.

Yours in writing



It’s About Damn Maritime – a RE-view of The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Life was at its peak when I was 11 years old, and I don’t think anything best resembles this peak or symbolises it than the Percy Jackson series, which I read at that age. And we’re continuing that journey with one of the best books in the series.

Percy, demigod son of Poseidon, must return to Camp Half Blood as his home away from home is in peril. The magical defenses that protect the camp are deteriorating and his best friend Grover has gone missing. Their only salvation is the trap that Grover has fallen into – the Golden Fleece. Percy, along with Annabeth and his long lost half brother Tyson, sets out on a quest off the coast of Florida to retrieve his friend and the fleece.

Back in 2011 when I first read this book this is what truly got me hooked into the series, with so many surprises, laughs, smiles and shockers throughout. That being said, I didn’t remember much about it all these years later. Or not as much as I’d have hoped. You just get left with a lot of feelings instead, and this novel had it all. So much to get you excited. That’s all that I remembered before going into it, aside from Nobody and Monster Donuts.

My god did I have so much more to look forward to.

We’ve got character strengths galore in this novel! They own the whole novel. Percy with his narrative voice, quirkiness and relatability. Annabeth’s maturity and traumas being brought to life. Tyson being introduced and having so much heart and power from the get go. And this is just the golden trio of this novel. There is so much more that needs talking about about the villains and gods without mentioning spoilers. And yes, I’m leaving out spoilers even though this book has been out for ages because I want people late to the party to still enjoy it like mad. And also with the web series coming out.

As usual, the worldbuilding was well done and super rooted into American and Greek cultures. I don’t know how Riordan is able to do this, to come up with a way to link every myth to something in the USA, but he does, taking a maritime and marine turn in this obviously maritime and marine story. My personal favourite was Circe’s incorporation into the world and the developments that were brought out as a result.

What needs to be talked about here is how Riordan master quirkiness and heart. Compared to the Greek God and Greek Hero retellings, where the balance of the two is off kilter, it is absolute perfection in Sea of Monsters. He recognises the spectacle and unusual nature of Greek myth in the modern day and makes it so much fun. But to balance it out and not make it seem like such a camp fest, he gets so deep into the characters we know, love and hate. That’s when you know you’re in a damn good series in my books. It makes sense how this aligns with some of my other fantasy favourites, as it makes the quirkiness and comedy such a normal part of their world. Comedy is such a natural part of life that a lot of stories just seem to remove and thus make it fall flat.

But Riordan knows what he’s doing. He knows it so well.

The Sea of Monsters gets a score of 5/5. I felt 11 years old again reading this.

Yours in writing



Gaslighters – a review of Tears of a Marigold by S.D. Huston

This may be a bit of a highlight. This post marks me reviewing an entire series by an Indie Author! As I strive to read more Indie books, I take victories where I find them while striving to make each one bigger than the next.

And this time around, the victory was pretty solid.

To save the worlds, magical and mundane, one of three sisters whom are fractured parts of the Morrigan must lose their soul. When Marigold, Rose and Lily all reunite this will spell out the end of the world. And the worst part of it is that the man destined to do it once he gains his powers back is the husband of Marigold, the one who saved her from death. She must choose between her new family and her old family’s best interests to decide the fate of all things living while her sisters fight to save her from the man she loves.

As usual, character was the strongest suit with this novel. Huston knows what makes each of them tick and makes each of them so different even in the most subtle ways. From the heart of Marigold to the resolve of Lily and the brains of Rose, each grew so far beyond that when it came to their arcs, decision making. and more.

The character that truly shined in this novel was the villain. Kronos was a villain that, in Huston’s interpretation, was a manipulative charmer that at times truly disgusted me. It is very rare for a villain to make me emote, feel and want to tear my own skin off. And Kronos absolutely achieved that. This was further enhanced by the relationship he had with our protagonist and how often Marigold was gaslit in their time together. He was very compelling and a threat even in his weakest moments because of that cursed silver tongue.

Now one thing I was a little less fond of this time was worldbuilding. I still enjoyed the way that Greek and Roman mythology met, though it was less prevalent in this installment. What made me a bit uncomfortable and confused was the specifics of one thing within the magic system. For gods to gain magical strength it involves sexual acts. Now this wasn’t described in detail and was faded to black a lot of the time, but still the fact that it happened unsettled me especially when done between certain people. While it does kind of make sense considering mythology and stuff, it doesn’t change the fact that it weirded by prudent self out. Especially with this being the instance it was introduced as far as my memory served.

The plotlines the sisters followed were once again imperially compelling. And this time it really tested the previously introduced Lily and Rose. You could really feel the stakes with how personal they got, saving their beloveds and the world. I love when plotlines get this personal and test the characters. Especially when what tests them is the traits that defines them. Rose’s brains being tested as she plans to infiltrate her sister’s prison, Lily’s strength and physical will being tested and Marigold’s heart being tested between what is right and what’s best for her beloved. These characters couldn’t be tested in more perfect ways. I can’t say the same for the Morrigan and I still don’t know the connections between the two plots aside from their souls being the same.

This still marks a very solid end to the series thanks to such great characters driving the plot.

Tears of a Marigold gets a score of 4/5. You had the Gaslighter and the Girlbosses present, what can I say?

Memes aside, it’s yet again time to review a series.

Blood of the Lily – 4/5, a beautifully done retelling of a hidden favourite fairytale.

Soul of a Rose – 4/5, Irish and Greek mythology collide in the best ways here especially.

Tears of a Marigold – 4/5, the characters steal the show. Every single one. of them.

Characters with depth, a well-thought collision of mythologies, retellings of tale you’ve never even heard of… no more Beauty and the Beasts and Cinderellas when S.D. Huston is on your shelf! And even then the tales are so different from their sources it becomes so refreshing. Combine that with a cast of characters that stray from cliches and really make you feel, and you get Clash of Goddesses.

Clash of Goddesses gets a score of 4/5. This one is a keeper.

Yours in writing