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The 5 Worst Things I’ve Seen in Books

So I’ve read a lot. Maybe not as much as other people, but at least this year so far I’ve read one book every three weeks on average. I’m expecting to read three more books this year than I’ve set for my reading goals!

That being said, there is good, bad and ugly in books. Today we’re covering the ugly. The worst things I’ve read in books ever. Ones that turned 4 star reads to 1 or 2 star reads. And I’ve got five of them.

The Pointless Journey

We all know about the Macguffin quest. The quest to obtain a certain object that will grant the wielder a valuable power in completing their goals. Most of the plot of the book revolves around finding this item, and by the time they get it we have the climax.

But what if there was no object?

I read a book in which the plotline was about winding up in a magical realm while in their home realm a war occurred which the main characters had to return to to stop. It would’ve been fine if it developed into a Macguffin quest, in which their hardships earned them an item in the magical world key to stopping the war, but they got nothing out of it. Basically my time was thoroughly wasted.

More so, the novel got 4 stars on Goodreads when I only gave it one star. How the hell did people still like such a pointless journey?

The One-Chapter climax

A novel is typically made or broken during its climax. This is where everything comes together in a long, heartfelt quest or battle to right the wrongs and conquer all there is to conquer. It’s edge-of-your-seat territory.

I read a book where the climax was over in one chapter about ten pages long. Hardly a twentieth of the novel.

I was really disappointed by this because I loved the book so much! It didn’t quite make the victory feel earned as barely any struggle could be made in such a short amount of time and page numbers! A climax should make you question things and doubt things.

All I asked was “surely there’s more to this…”

Hero Monologue

If you don’t know what is wrong with the villain monologue trope, allow me to explain.

You meet the Big Bad Evil Guy, right? His threatening presence is only shown by how much he talks. It’s so frightening and powerful that when it comes to actually fighting him, it becomes an easy defeat.

Now let’s subvert that trope and have the heroes do it to the all powerful, genuinely threatening villain.

Spoiler alert: it’s a bad case of subversion. It almost felt comedic when the literal heroes of this one book defeated the villain by talking to him. I think some under nine-year-old targeted kids movie called saying they want their defining trope back.

Communication is hardly a struggle in a fantasy setting and fight. At least save a monologue for after the villain has been defeated and they are truly at their lowest point, for the love of all things holy!

The Backstory Chapter

Chapter two of a book that I was reading literally had this happen in it; a woman sends off her animal companions to track someone. No, I’m serious. That was it.

Because the rest of the chapter was devoted to explaining how these companions meant so much to her, the meaning of her piercings and tattoos on her body and the way her house looked. It was a chapter 95% full of irrelevant backstory and 5% plot progression.

The number one rule of writing a novel is that a significant progression in the story must be made every chapter. And chapters like these made up half of the actual chapters I read before I erased the title and author of that book from my memory.

And somehow that isn’t the biggest book sin I’ve seen.


I’ve seen this happen in to books I’ve read. Not one, but two! One I DNF’ed, the other I gave a two star rating to.

If all I can say about your main character to describe them is their looks and hobbies they undertake, ya done goofed. I know more people without hobbies yet with a vibrant personality than I do people with hobbies and no personality. Hint: I know zero people like the latter.

What peeves me even more is that this is always done to female main characters. I’ve seen both male and female authors do this to their characters too. Why is the only gender bias towards the gender being written?

And look, I know the Everyman trope exists – a person with a personality that is easy to relate to – but even they can be described by adjectives instead of hobbies.

So please don’t make these mistakes too guys.

Yours in writing



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


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Finding and using Inspiration

People claim that inspiration gets them going when writing and that they cannot create when their brain isn’t buzzing.

So how does that buzz come about?

Many people have their stimulants for inspiration, so to speak, and they can come in a variety of forms. But the difficulty can be finding out how to take those stimulants of inspiration and be productive with them. It’s good to have them, but better to put inspiration to use than to go down a rabbit hole.

So I’ve got some tips for your inspiration to take action, whether in music, picture or film form.

Passively Collect

This is the biggest part where people get it wrong. This is the white rabbit you follow down the rabbit hole. Might I suggest taking photos of the rabbit instead?

You don’t need to go out to find inspiration like you’re researching your final thesis. If I were to compare passive collecting to anything, it’d be like checking your social medias. Minus the addiction.

If you happen to pass by inspiration, then add it to your collection of inspiration. Take the channels that you already collect things you like from and find it from what you already know. For if you search actively for inspiration it becomes hollow. Find and consume media and aesthetics for your own personal pleasure only. And then your inspiration piles can follow.

Make it present

Inspiration was never made to collect dust in boxes at the back of your wardrobe.

But how’s an easy way to keep it present? Take it wisely, like prescriptions. Avoid indulging in your inspiration and make it a backdrop for your life as a way to remind you of what you’re working on and why. You could make your desktop background your aesthetic pictures from pinterest, regularly listen to your music playlists on commutes or read books in similar genres.

Basically think about how you take in the things you love when it’s not for writing inspiration. You need to do that just the same.

Pre-writing routines

This can be helpful for those writers who struggle to dive right into their manuscript. A naturally forced inspiration, if you will.

Many writers have a ritual or routine they undergo before they start writing, and this is often using a stimulant to get them inspired once again. Reading a chapter of a book before they started writing, listening to their playlists to get pumped, whipping out their Pinterest board for their assignment… everyone has their strategies.

But remember your priority is to start your writing from it. If you have a habit of slipping into rabbit holes, set aside a timer. You shouldn’t spend any more than 10 minutes getting inspired for a 1 hour writing session. Or longer. Do not take that as a ratio.

Don’t Rely on it

We gotta get real now.

Inspiration is your crutch, but only for when you are creatively injured and if you absolutely need it. Some writers rely on it too much that without it they’ve hit a wall. Do not keep pushing.

If your normal stimulants for inspiration fail you, do not keep consuming them. It won’t be the problem. There is more to not being able to write than just a lack of inspiration. Something may genuinely be wrong with your story, you may be burnt out or have other external factors get in the way. Analyse what may be wrong instead.

Because inspiration is valuable, but not worth its weight in gold. It has no mass.

Yours in writing


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The Magic System of Aster’s Coda

One of my favourite tropes of all time is magic connected to emotion, especially when it’s rage induced. So yes, I am a big fan of the Wild Magic Barbarian in 5e. This trope is also seen in RWBY and Brigid Kemmerer’s Elementals series. Comment any other media you’ve spotted this trope in!

If you commented my book, Aster’s Coda: Exposure, you are a psychic.

Magic, or casting as it is referred to in my series, I find to be reflective of the character wielding the power. I wanted to create a magic system that reflected this, in part inspired by how magic works in Dungeons and Dragons. I have characters based off of Sorcerers, Druids and Wizards in my novel, just to name a few. Additionally, with my novel taking place between Three Worlds I wanted the magic between each world to have a particular distinctness while still being versatile.

Let’s explore.

Each caster has a particular source or domain from which they get their power from, and while it seems to limit what they can do it leaves room for the magic to be more versatile in each domain. Across the Three Worlds power can be drawn from the elements, nature, sources from energy and even cosmic concepts. The integration between the Three Worlds has even enabled variations and amalgamations on casting.

Let’s start with Faetos. The main power to come from this world is Myst, pure energy which has enabled the Three Worlds to connect in a chain. Casters from here use sorcery, which is defined by being born with the ability to cast in a certain domain and harnessing inner power to put their source to use. Because of this, casting a spell too powerful can be taxing on the user and injury can further weaken the strength of their power. Sorcery is the most malleable casting type and users can forge exact effects from their energy, but the domains they control are typically limited. It is rare in Faetos to not be born with sorcery abilities, but it is mainly used in mundane and daily life. Pure casters usually require many years study of their own abilities and would typically only use their casting in battle.

Corryn is different. They use derivation, which involves drawing power from an external source, most commonly nature. While in proximity of their domain, be it water or the earth, they can control or absorb the element for their use when casting. Similar to the use of spell slots in D&D, this power is expended like pouring water from a bucket. Any derivation caster can store the same amount of energy, but inexperienced casters expelled their power far more inefficiently. Casting in Corryn is typically dependent on the species, but those who can’t cast have the ability to wield Powerstones, which work in a similar fashion and can cast force, necrotic, radiant, lightning and psychic damage. Derivation users can also draw energy from powerstones.

That leaves Earth. Nobody native to Earth is born with the ability to cast, but connections to the Three Worlds have left many deities interested in the lives of people on Earth. Therefore, the only way to cast if you’re human is through bargaining. Deals can be made through deities, malevolent and benevolent, to gain the ability to cast based on the domain of the deity. Similarly to derivation, their power is also a well but it can grow with the bond to a deity. Still, few humans have gotten the ability to bargain for magic. Less than 0.5% of Earth’s population have had the chance. However, bargaining is also of interest to Faetos and Corryn for either the power hungry or those in service of deities specific to those realms.

Woah, bit of an info dump, but more will come to light when reading Exposure and the rest of the series. Check it out next week when it releases, and be sure to pop into the livestream on July 22nd!

Yours in writing


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Free Snippet of Aster’s Coda: Exposure!

It’s release month! Woohoo!

Because you guys are eager, and if not, then this will get you, I have now got a free snippet available for you to check out here! In these chapters, we get introduced to Abby Tacker, Beauclark high and a few more key characters twisting around the fingers of her fate.

Once you’re done, you can go here to preorder a copy – now in paperback too! It comes out July 22nd!

Want to join the hype on release day? At noon NZT – that’s 8pm EST or 5pm PST – I’m doing a release day livestream! We got an hour of chatting, games and more in honour of my book baby!

Hope to see you there

Yours in writing


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Rotorua – the Setting of Aster’s Coda: Exposure

People underestimate the power and importance of a setting within a novel, film or any story. Most people think it is just a backdrop for a story to be set upon, a stage to perform on. I digress.

You won’t be able to tell a story the same when it is set elsewhere. The backdrop may be quiet, but it speaks volumes when you ask about it.

And the main setting of my novel coming out in 3 weeks, Aster’s Coda: Exposure, I found to be subtly crucial in the way I told my tale.

I wanted my novel to be set close to home, partly because literally every contemporary and urban fantasy takes place in America and I didn’t want that. But I wasn’t going to use my hometown in spite of my ties to South Auckland. I found a location I liked much more and made much more significant to the story of Abby Tacker.

Rotorua. Located in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, it is a total tourist hotspot. I’ve visited there three times and always want to go back. If only my bank account would give me a break…

There were three key things that made me chose Rotorua over some other place in New Zealand or even the world; culture, nature and adventure. Funny enough, they are three roots to the Aster’s Coda series. Let’s explore that, shall we?


As I said in last week’s post, culture and diversity is one of the many things I always consider writing and building my worlds around. I love books that take place in new societies, unexplored or underrepresented cultures as inspiration for fantasy settings. I grew up surrounded by many cultures, so it is only fair I represent them in my works.

And I don’t think anywhere in New Zealand features its culture better than Rotorua. Two of the three times I went there I visited sites showcasing the rich culture of our natives, the Maori people. These sites were villages of days past and ones that still exist today, like Whakarewarewa. It gives an insight and educational experience into the culture of the local iwi (tribes) and significances of their many customs. My personal favourite has always been going inside their local Marae via karakia, that moment alone always gives me chills.

So how does this translate to Exposure? Not in a very explicit way, but some of these cultural aspects are evident. Beauclark High, the fictional school my main character goes to, features a diverse and culturally rich makeup of students. Additionally, themes present in Maori culture are evident in my novel, including genealogy, power and prestige.


Nature speaks volumes about how a world may look to me. Much can be said about a location simply describing how the trees look. Weather is a particularly underrated aspect of storytelling here.

Rotorua’s nature is almost otherworldly in of itself, most defined by the smell the moment you enter the region – the smell of mud and sulphur. Rotorua is the geothermal hotspot of New Zealand, with a big tourist attraction being the hot mud pools and geysers. I wouldn’t recommend getting close to any of them, some people have died by falling into the mud pools. Spas have made use of this location with the mineral streams too. Another place equally out of a fantasy world is their Redwood forest. I remember first stepping into there and instantly feeling like I had stepped into a high fantasy world.

Nature is key to the surroundings of the world and the casting that people in the Three Worlds do – being beautiful, natural and yet volatile.


Adventure and action is a frequently used trope or subgenre in fantasy books, like in mine. High octane fights and bloodshed await!

Well, not quite in Rotorua. I’m not even a thrill seeker myself, but I know that Rotorua is one place you can get some action. Bush walks, a luge track, zorb balls… and this is just to name the more common! There’s plenty to do indoors and out to get your blood pumping!

And with all the highly regarded fights present in my novel, need I say more?

So maybe once this lockdown is over, this can be one place you can visit! See if you can spot locations mentioned in my novel!

Yours in writing



Diversity & Aster’s Coda: Exposure

You may be wondering what a straight white girl has to say about diversity. Frankly, more than you’d expect. I know I have my biases based on the privileges that I hold because of that part of my identity, but I hope to use that to uplift others.

One way is through a diverse cast in Aster’s Coda: Exposure, my debut novel. Let’s see how that came to be.

I grew up in a little corner in the world called South Auckland at a crossroads between three suburbs in the region. It was a newsworthy place for housing crises, criminal cases and COVID community outbreaks – that last part mainly because it houses the New Zealand International Airport. And when my high school met with other schools, the teachers would react differently to us within seconds as soon as we said our school was based in South Auckland. They’d consider us a threat, a blemish amongst the other students attending these events. Most people would want to get out of the area, many other white kids who lived in the area were enrolled in out of zone schools because of a reputation that wasn’t ideal.

And wasn’t entirely true.

Housing crises are happening everywhere. Crime happens regardless of location or class. The rest of Auckland wasn’t exactly a utopia.

But we had something a little different. I’d be willing to be that South Auckland is one of the most diverse communities in the world.

My schooling life alone exemplifies this. White people made up less than a quarter of the population of all my schools I went to in South Auckland. I encountered far more people with roots in Asia, Polynesia and Maori culture. And each of my schools took time to embrace these various cultures and educate us about how even cultures not present at our school lived. There was a strong sense of cultural pride and later rainbow pride when I went to high school.

I didn’t connect to culture like others did in their experiences at school. My mother called it “being a minority”, but that phrasing doesn’t sit well with me. I more so had pride for what others had and the gratefulness that they could express themselves in such a way. I was fine for being “without culture” and an observer of these incredible cultures.

But few saw what I saw outside of that community. Some people feared to set foot in South Auckland while I feel like a fish out of water in a crowd of white people. And that’s all I saw in the media, just another group of white people saving the world, typically lead by a guy.

So I knew when writing Aster’s Coda – the whole series – that I’d present these cultures and people in a contemporary/fantasy setting. I’d present the people, the customs, the settings with inspirations from various cultures to create something fantastic and welcoming for everyone. I’ve got characters from all walks of life and all different societies, some which will be explored within the series.

But I do understand that it is not my place to tell the story of another culture directly. I am in a position of privilege where I haven’t experienced what others have. So while I will not tell the stories of people of colour and queer people, I can hope that my writing can at least bring characters like them into the spotlight.

Did this convince you that my story is worth reading? You can preorder Aster’s Coda: Exposure here!

Yours in writing



Behind the Cover of Aster’s Coda: Exposure

With my physical copy having been sent to me (you can check out my reaction here) it was only appropriate for me to share more about it here. Today I’m diving into the inspiration behind my cover and design process.

It should also be worth mentioning that it’s available for preorder now and will release on July 22nd! Learn more about Aster’s Coda: Exposure and preorder it now!

The book cover is the most important part of any book or its release. Nobody has listened to the age old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” because today it doesn’t apply to books. It is a key marketing tool and a key way to portray what is within the pages of your book, your world, your story.

During my time writing this story on Wattpad in its early stages I made my own covers with amateur sketches and word document screenshots. I was totally chasing trends at the time, with magic swirling around sketches of my main character. I’m certain I changed that cover every four months in its lifetime.

But since I published my novel on Wattpad, Exposure has changed a lot. Thus, so did my opinion on what it should look like as a proper book cover.

I instantly knew that I wanted a book cover that was minimalist. No people on the cover – that was my priority as I knew the people would look nothing like my own characters. Frankly, I couldn’t even draw my own characters properly for a while. I was very paranoid about any photo-realistic depictions of my book being incorrect, so I decided that something minimalist and abstract would be the best approach.

My next priorities were with the colour scheme. I had three colours in mind in very specific ways – black background, white font and blue content. I was definitely inspired in part by the covers of Jenna Moreci’s The Savior’s series and similar covers.

But then it came to deciding what the content would be. I knew I wanted lightning, but not as the primary icon. I pitched a few symbols and things to my designer, and she was fond of the symbol you see on the cover now. The three triangles, one outlined and two solid. It becomes a symbol frequently used to represent the Three Worlds and the connection between them. And a little bit more…

But that’s not for me to say, but for you to find out! Preorder my novel now and get ready for release day on July 22nd!

Yours in writing


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5 Things That Inspired Aster’s Coda

Creativity doesn’t exist in a void, and neither did Aster’s Coda. Here’s what inspired its creation:

Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus

Rick Riordan was probably one of the first authors that encouraged me to pursue writing outside of school, for fun.

There was something about his style that just resonated with me as a kid, and my early writing cringely copied his style. And when I finally picked up the Heroes of Olympus series in early high school, I fell in love with his writing all over again.


I can’t think of anyone else who does fight scenes like the team behind RWBY.

Their fights are always a real excitement to watch (minus Volume 5…) because they combine nearly everything that is needed to make a fight stand out! Each character has different weapons, fighting styles and powers to supplement their prowess. The environment is just as pivotal to the battle as the people in it. And of course, a banging soundtrack to pair it to, narrative stakes and hitting emotional beats in breathers. What more could you want?

Twenty One Pilots

If Aster’s Coda became a movie or TV franchise, I’d want Twenty One Pilots to write the score for it.

Initially writing Exposure, I found almost every song by the band correlated to a scene throughout the novel. Of course, I found many more artists who could apply better, but Twenty One Pilots started this off and still have songs applying to scenes!

I don’t know if this is spoiler territory or not, but Fairly Local is the theme song for Geoff and Doubt is the song I pair up with the “darkest hour” scene. This is some examples in book one alone, and the way some of these lyrics relate to my characters is insanity.

Dungeons and Dragons

This was more of an influence that came up in my edits, but an inspiration nonetheless.

Hey, that was a D&D pun.

D&D really helped me reiterate the fighting styles and the roles each character has when they fight. While I don’t roll for initiative when I write fight scenes, it is great to know what each person’s capabilities are when comparing them to D&D classes.

Let’s take the character Jada. I’m writing a fight scene for her in the sequel, and D&D helped me flesh out her abilities well. Her D&D class would be a Wizard, with the Bladesinger as her subclass. While magic is her main feature when it comes to her abilities, those can still be used to help her fight. For instance, with a revamped version of a Shadow Blade spell.

See what classes you think my other characters are when it’s time to read my book.

Iron Man

Though it has since developed far from being an Iron Man knock off, this is where the origins of Aster’s Coda began. I wasn’t actively paying attention to it at the time when I was 12, but I did wonder why there weren’t female heroes shown in the same way as Iron Man.

And so Abby was born a cyborg! But much has changed since then. She and I have grown with our writing styles and developed something truly wonderful. The start of something unlike any of these things that inspired my novel combined.

Hope this inspired you to pick up a copy of Exposure this July! Learn more here!

Yours in writing



Betrayal, Betrayal Everywhere – A Review of The Savior’s Sister by Jenna Moreci

This one is a special one folks. Those of you who have stuck around long enough might have spotted my first review on this blog, The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci. One of my writing idols, I must say.

So yes, I was in fact close to tears when I got emailed an Advanced Reader Copy of The Savior’s Sister, the next book in the series. So first off, you might want to read its predecessor. Important stuff happens in that book that leads into this one.

This is the review of an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Jenna Moreci’s novel. I was given a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

We’ve heard Tobias’s story about him fighting in a tournament to win the heart of The Savior he never loved. Except, the real Savior of Thessen was the healer girl he had fallen for instead, Leila. Now we follow Her side of the story, fighting for Her own life in Her own home against Her own father. And the tournament She knows is what will kill Her. It’s up to her to fool the competitors, of which her assassins are among, find whom in her home she can trust, and keep her newfound love safe from the target she never meant to put on his back.

Sound familiar? Well, it is. It’s a companion novel. It happens at the same time as The Savior’s Champion, in roughly the same place, just through Leila’s perspective instead. The same coin, but a different side. Initially I thought it was going to deter my engagement in a lot of scenes, ones I had already read before but through Tobias’s perspective.

I was wrong. I never should’ve doubted Jenna.

Leila’s perspective of already mentioned scenes became very insightful as Her feelings were put into perspective before me. They never made those scenes one I could just gloss over. Her powers and what they do to Her made for a very unique perspective and a literal emotive way of talking, how She sees emotions in colours. God, that was beautiful.

What’s also interesting was the contrast between Her powers and Her personality. It definitely felt deliberate considering how She was brought up; Her hard and cold exterior shielding Her light and warmth which both offered their strengths and weaknesses. That’s one of my favourite tropes, but it was interesting to see it from a main character for once. Also I’d like to add the retorts She made to her father were probably making him want to kill Her more, and I loved that but at the same time felt scared for Her.

Politics was quite the focus for this book. Not my thing in real life, but it sure was here. A lot of it was very palace and family focal, but it was still engaging to see the corruption sweeping through the court. And even out of it. Seeing relationships established with the common folk of the palace and other realms was enlightening.

Now I need to mention my favourite character from this book. Hylas. God, there was this one scene that absolutely made me love him. I won’t say what it is, but just know something amazing is in store for him. I would personally like to protect Hylas. He’ll be safe with me.

Now a minor flaw I would like to mention. There has been action in this book for Leila almost as much as there was for Tobias. I prefer what Tobias had faced over Leila’s fights and battles. It was mainly because all the fights that She got into felt the same, just harder every time. I’ll give it credit for having her struggle, for using environments well and for setting stakes, but each time those fights didn’t have the distinguishable sparks like Tobias had faced. They did feel a tiny bit “here we go again”.

But don’t let that one little thing discern you. I’d say you should pick it up when it’s released. The Savior’s Sister comes out on September 29th 2020. You can preorder it on Amazon or through this link here. You can also enter her presale giveaway while you’re at it.

And now the verdict.

The Savior’s Sister gets a score of 4/5. Same story, fresh-as-a-peach perspective.

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



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.