With A Pinch of Salt – A review of Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

I was excited to get to this book – the final book in what I quickly assumed from book one would be one of my most favourite series of all time – the Reckoners series! With the first two books being highly rated in my eyes, I jumped into reading Calamity with hype.

But you know how they say that sequels don’t quite hit the original, especially with a third sequel? Why is it that the third one is the most frequently the worst in the series? But I don’t mean one star when it comes to this book, anyway.

With his mentor and leader having been corrupted by the sheer nature of Epics, David Charleston steps up, whether he wanted to or not, as the new leader of the Reckoners. And he’s got plans. His knowledge that the Epics’ descent into darkness isn’t permanent sends him not only on a quest to make his mentor safe again but to stop the one responsible for their corruption, Calamity. His quest takes him to Ildithia, the former Atlanta, as he tries to discover the weaknesses of the Epics around him not to kill them, but to have them face their fears to bring out the inner good inside of them.

So about that Calamity, the main antagonist… the way he was defeated, in the most spoiler free way possible, was pathetic. You know how villain monologues are frowned upon? This was the reversal. A hero monologue. That somehow defeated the main antagonist. After a high action climax for it to slow down in such a way, it was just plain BS! This was not what I came to read this series for. It made the conclusion feel absolutely hollow and feeling like there was a catch, a plot twist, a rogue’s sneak attack. But nothing came. For a series conclusion!

In spite of that, there was one character’s conclusion and character arc that really shone in this book. I didn’t really like this character too much in the first book, and she grew on me in book two. But in book three, Megan Tarash was at her best. The way her arc concluded made me thoroughly enjoy her, which I didn’t even think would be possible. She went from average to great. Books two and three really added some depth and points of interest to her which really shone in book three especially. Other characters were very nicely explored as well, even less serious characters showing some depth that previously felt hidden.

What also shone like an oily pimple was how much Sanderson didn’t understand his audience, more so how smart they were. For some reason, he withheld plans that David had made and their intentions from the audience even though the story is told from his perspective. This happened on multiple occasions where the solution to this plan we didn’t know got built up like crazy and it made for cheap plot twists. On the other hand, there were some plot points which were so obvious it was ballistic that David hadn’t noticed so either. It was almost like I was proven done when one plotpoint and plan David made went right over my head, and to forgive me Sanderson made a point that I noticed a quarter of the book earlier than the main character. And sometimes I’d forgive this, but not this time.

Still, none of that took anything away from the worldbuilding, what this series excels at. The world didn’t quite expand in the way that I expected, but it was still fascinating to see it occur in such a way. The powers, abilities and origins of the superhumans known as Epics were the focus of this worldbuilding here. I wasn’t quite a fan of how much it focussed on two Epics’ abilities more than the rest, but it was still very insightful to see how everything connected. If I wound up satisfied with anything in this book, it would be getting closure on the nature and abilities of Epics.

The same can’t be said about the narrative.

Calamity gets a score of 3.5/5. While retaining the core of the series, it leaves me wanting more in a bad way.

And what’s this? Another series done on this blog? Well I suppose I should review the whole thing now!

Steelheart5/5, an action packed start to a very unique series.

Firefight5/5, more great worldbuilding and the depth of the characters was incredible.

Calamity – 3.5/5, a conclusion that works well but is not quite satisfying.

Right from this start I knew I was in for something great with the worldbuilding and the uniqueness of it alone. I haven’t seen any piece of media quite like it with such high action and stakes. As many reviewers had previous said, it’s a blockbuster in book form. The characters were also of great interest, various ones getting their chance to shine in many different ways throughout. My only major complaint would be how it finished. I wished it was just as engaging, full of stakes and just overall exciting as the rest of the series.

The Reckoners Trilogy gets a score of 4/5. This series is a keeper.

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.

Screen Shot 2020-07-15 at 9.16.24 AM

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



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.