Six Degrees of Separation – October 2021

This is a monthly meme I came across, hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandthebest. The idea is to use the book chosen as the starting point for the month to create a chain of books linked in some way. Sounds fun, so I thought I’d give it a go. This month’s book is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

This is the first time I hear of this book, but apparently it’s a well known short story. Based on the synopsis, it sounds like a dystopian story about a lottery that no one wants to win. So based off of that, I’m going to link it to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. They both have a raffle type thing going, no one wants to be picked. Seems like a good match. 

I first read THG when I was in high-school and it kick-started a voracious appetite for YA fiction that stuck with me through to university. I believe one of the first books I read after reading THG was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. So that will be my next link. 

city of bones

The City of Bones after which the book is named has a secret entrance in a cemetery and at the entrance, there is carved a quote from Virgil’s Aenid: The descent into hell is easy. This reminds me Dante’s Inferno. I suppose that could technically count as two links, but I’m actually going to count it as one, because that quote always makes me think of Inferno instead of its source. 

In Inferno, Dante takes through the nine circles of hell where various types of sinners are being punished. This makes me think of Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri maniscalco. This book is heavily inspired by Dante’s depiction of hell and also takes place in Italy.

In this series, the main character makes a deal with a demon prince of hell. In The Wardstone Chronicles, the Spook has a deal with a Boggart named Kratch, who appears as a large ginger cat and takes care of his home. 

The Spooks remind me of the Warders from The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett as they both follow main characters that make it their life’s work to protect people from things that go bump in the night. 

So there you go. That is how to link The Lottery to The Painted Man in six steps. 

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco – Review

52772417. sx318 Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: 2021

Genre: Fantasy, NA

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis: One sister.
Two sinful princes.
Infinite deception with a side of revenge…Welcome to Hell.

After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.

She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria…even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.

***SPOILER ALERT*** This is the second book in the series and therefore the following review may contain spoilers for the first book. Read at your own peril. Review of the first book here.


This was every bit as addictive as the first one, I’ve been trying to get over my book hangover for the past 3 days and I have so far valiantly resisted the temptation to immediately re-read it. I even felt compelled to write this review, despite having completely ignored this blog for the better part of this year. Anyways, let’s talk about it. 

First thing to mention about this book is that is without a doubt character driven. Not a whole lot happens plot-wise. Instead, the focus is mainly the romance (and this is written as new adult, so it gets pretty steamy) and on Emilia adjusting to the Underworld. We get to meet some of Wrath’s other brothers, we get to meet some of Wrath’s court and of course, we get to know more about our favourite Prince of Hell (or my favourite anyway). I personally really enjoyed it, but it’s less plot driven than the previous book. Though it ends on a similar cliffhanger and I suspect there will be a lot more happening story wise in the next one. 

I loved seeing the underworld. Very Dante-esque, was very fun to get to see some of it. I would have loved for there to be more exploration of the Underworld if anything. But what we did get to see was very lush and decadent. There was a lot of sexual tension going around so if that’s your thing, you’re all covered. I’m personally not the biggest fan of smut, but this was actually pretty good. Didn’t make me cringe too much and was even occasionally enjoyable. Which is quite high praise coming from me.

Despite this being predominantly character driven, we did get a few story progression points and Emilia had a big eureka moment towards the end of the book. Although I do think that was actually a weak point of the book, as I felt that the main plot twist lacked impact. I can’t really elaborate on that too much without spoilers, but let’s just say that I think it should have had a much much higher emotional impact on Emilia. She just kinda shrugged it off. In fact, she had much stronger emotional responses to comparatively less important events. Which just kind of felt unrealistic and made the plot twist much less powerful. 

Some random observations: I was happy that the food descriptions were toned down in this book. I found them very distracting in the first book and they constantly pulled me out of the story. The lack of communication between Wrath and Emilia continues in this book especially at the beginning, but they definitely get better. Wrath is still super dreamy. And also a cutie. Okay I’m done. Read this book, it’s fun. 

March 2021 Wrap Up

In keeping with my usual annual trend, I have read fewer books in march than the first two months of the year and have now reached my usual monthly average of 5 books, although I am more than halfway through 3 others. For some reason, I always start the year reading a ton and then read progressively less until I reach around 5-6 books a month. anyway, let’s talk about the books. It was a pretty meh month for me, I think most of the books I read were okay, but not ones that I loved. 

Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu


This one was carried over from February and only really the last quarter or so of the book was read in March. As I mentioned in my February wrap-up, I just don’t love this series. Maybe i’d enjoy it better in physical format… I’m not sure. It’s just not gripping me the way I wish it did. On paper I should love this, but for some reason, it’s just not doing it for me. I might give it another book before deciding if I want to finish the series or not, I’m not sure. I gave it 3.25/5 stars.

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

escaping houdini

Finally, like 3 years later, I continued with this series. I still really enjoy it. I like Kerri Maniscalco’s books in general. I think I probably prefer her other series just slightly more cause it’s fantasy. But this is by far the best YA mystery series I’ve ever read. Also, the romance is great too. 3.75/5 stars

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

This was a re-read for me and I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time around. I don’t know why, i just found it less funny. I do want to continue with this series, that’s why I re-read this, but yeah it didn’t do it for me so much this time around. 3.5/5 stars

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

spinning silver

Another re-read and the only book I read this month that was over 4 stars. I am a sucker for Naomi Novik’s fairy-tales. I’m not sure I’m super interested in her other stuff. I tried Temeraire and it was okay, but I couldn’t get past the second book. And I haven’t tried her new book. But I will read any fairy-tale inspired book she puts out. 5/5 stars

A Deal With the elf King by Elise Kova


This is a Hades and Persephone/ Beauty and the Beast inspired story and if you know me, you know that is my favourite romance trope. I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m just a sucker for it. And this one was pretty good. I really enjoyed it for what it was. it didn’t have a very elaborate plot, but the world was cool, I enjoyed the characters, i liked the romance. Definitely would recommend if you’re shopping for some Hades/persephone action. 3.5/5 stars. 

Those are the books I completed in March, but I did start (and read about half) of three others. I was slightly slumpy this month so I just struggled a little finding what I wanted to read.

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman


I’ve read the first two books in this series this year and really enjoyed them. This one however is weaker than the first two I think. It’s still alright, but I was also like I said pretty slumpy and it wasn’t really doing it for me. I got maybe 2/3 into the book and I definitely plan on finishing it because I really like this series and i want to read the rest of it, but yeah, this is just a weaker book in my opinion and hopefully the next one picks up. 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

This is a Little mermaid inspired story. I’ve never been a huge fan of The Little mermaid, so I’m not loving this. But I do think it’s cool and I like this version better that original. This isn’t a direct retelling, it’s more dark. Much more slow-burn. So i like a lot of elements about it. I think it’s a solid book for what it is, but I’m not loving it and like i said before, I’ve been slumpy so I have less motivation to finish it. But I do want to finish it, I am halfway through it so I’m not DNFing it. 

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb


I feel like I sound like a broken record at this point, but again, this is not doing it for me right now. I think it’s a weaker book than pretty much all of the Elderlings books so far. I’m going to finish it because I need to in order to continue with the Elderlings books, but yeah this one is just meh. I’m halfway through it and I feel like literally nothing has happened. I feel like even the first Fitz book was more engaging than this one. 

Mulan Live Action Film Rant

I recently got Dinsey+ and I decided to watch Mulan today. The live action remake, that is, and it was so bad. The best thing I can say about it is that it was very visually beautiful. There will be spoilers ahead.

Okay, so they turned this funny animated film about a girl who goes to war disguised as a boy in her father’s place. Took 98% of the comedic value of that story and replaced with some weird, pseudo-Chinese magic plot line. Where instead of having a girl who overcomes the challenges  of being physically smaller and weaker than the other soldiers through cunning and hard work, you have a girl whose “chi” is strong. Except apparently girls can’t have chi (even though the film also defines it as something that everyone has but I mean okay) because… it gives them magic powers?? I’m really confused about this bit cause we have another woman with “strong chi” who’s been exiled as a witch? And she can turn into a hawk? Or a flock of birds. Yeah… anyway. Mulan is magic now. 

wat dean gif

And that’s honestly all there is to the film. That, and a phoenix metaphor. It was boring, man. It was boring and it made no sense. They got rid of Mushu, first and biggest mistake they made. Then there was a bunch of talk about honor this and honor that and then she decides it’s not honourable to lie so she lets her hair loose (literally) and gets rid of her armour (because I guess armour is not feminine enough and was restraining her chi???) which are the two least logical things to do when you’re about to head into battle but girl power amirite? 

f logic gif

Anyway, then she saves the day and goes back to her family to make amends and then the emperor gives her a sword and she becomes a legend. The end. It was just such a disappointment. It didn’t do anything right except cinematography. It was pretty. I’m not Chinese, so I’m only saying what I think, I may be wrong, but I thought even the rep was awful even though the cast was all Asian. And I’ve read some own-voices reviews that concurred. So, in the words of the great Mushu himself…


February 2021 Wrap Up

Another month gone. I had a decent reading month despite it being short. Not as good as in January, but January is usually my best reading month of the year. I completed 8 books this month and am about 3/4 through a ninth though, so not bad.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin


I really enjoyed this much more than I enjoyed The Killing Moon. I think the mythology is really cool and I am really intrigued by it. I’m really curious to continue with the series, but the sequels do follow different characters and I never really know how to feel about series like that. I will say it was a bit slow to start with. It took me a while to get into it, but one it got going, it was very compelling. there are also a lot of elements both character-wise and writing-style wise that appear in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken earth series (which is one of my favourite series ever, check out my review). So it was a lot of fun to see her play with those ideas and how they eventually evolved into perfection. So yeah, enjoyed the book, will continue with the series at some point. I gave it 3.75/5 stars

Seasons of War by Derek Landy


I am now officially up to date with this series. I believe there is another one being released at some point this year and I’m not sure what the plans are after that, but this has been a solid, fun series for me throughout and it’s been really cool to follow Valkyrie from childhood into young adulthood. 3.5/5 stars

The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon


Been waiting for this one for a while. I really enjoy this series. It’s really fun and fast paced. I think my thoughts on this book without going into spoilers, are more or less what they were for the rest of the series, so you can check out my review of that. 3.75/5 stars

The Masked City by Genevive Cogman


I am thoroughly enjoying this series. this is the second book. It’s so much fun and so underrated in my opinion. At least… I haven’t really heard people talk about it. It’s great. it’s about a magic librarian lady and her dragon sidekick. Oh, and there’s also a Sherlock Holmes from an alternate dimension. What more could you ask for. 4/5 stars

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett


This one was kind of a disappointment for me. It was pretty boring to be honest. Nothing happened for the first two thirds of it and then everything got resolved in like one grand “battle” if you could even call it that. As I put it in my Goodreads review “the highlight of the book was the MC getting high as hell and making her acid dreams reality basically.”. I really like his other series, but this one was a let down for me and I don’t think I| will continue with the series. 2/5 stars

The Folk of the Air books 2 and 3 by Holly Black

I finally finished this series and books 2 and 3 were just as addictive as the first one. Honestly, these gave me a hangover I still have not fully recovered from. they’re like book crack. I read them in 2 days, back to back it was wild. I want more. Cardan and Jude are the most addictive angsty couple I’ve ever read about. I’m just absolute trash for this series basically. 4.75/5 and 4.5/5 stars respectively.

The Humans by Matt Haig


This was… weird. I enjoyed it. It was funny and somewhat insightful, but also just very clichee. It was fine, but I didn’t love it and it took me a while to get into it. 3/5 stars

Blood Upon the sands by Bradley Beaulieu


I haven’t finished this one yet, but I am about 3/4 through it. I like this series, but I don’t love it. I wish I did because on paper, it’s totally my kind of book. But I feel kind of disconnected from it and I think I’ve managed to pinpoint why. I think there’s just too many characters and most of them are just not sufficiently fleshed out for me to distinguish between them. So aside from the 3 Pov characters, I tend to lose track of who is who and what their agendas are. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been listening to them on audio and the narrator for some reason decided to give everyone these weird Russian sounding accents. I don’t understand that choice. For one thing, why give accents to characters who are native to the country where the book is set? Secondly, this is a desert fantasy. Why do they all sound Russian? Thirdly, some of them are from different countries, why do they all have the same accent? So yeah, maybe I’ll switch to physical books for the future. And I guess I’ll have a rating for this next month. 

Down the TBR hole #30

it’s been absolutely ages since I last did one of these. But here I am continuing with it. as a refreshes of how this works, I go to my Goodreads TBR shelf and randomise it and pick out the first 10 books that I’m no longer interested in reading. I did originally go through every single book and decided whether or not I wanted to read it, but that was just taking too long.

Count after previous post: 265

Current count: 257 (it’s amazingly actually gone down!)

Count after this post: 247

Previous post

Winter Dark by Alex Callister

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I just have no desire whatsoever to read this. I don’t even know why it’s on my TBR.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


This is one of those classics that I say “Oh, one day I’ll read it”. But yeah, I will most likely never read it and I don’t need it cluttering my TBR shelf. 

Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe


Again, I just have no interest in this. It’s been on my shelf since probably like 2015. It ain’t happening folks. 

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry


I enjoyed The Giver when I read it, but that was in like 2016 or something so… yeah I’m probably never reading this.  

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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I’d watch a movie of this. But I don’t think I’m interested enough to read the book. 

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Again, I’d probably watch it as a film. But honestly it sounds like something that’ll just negatively impact my mental health. So… no. 

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Paranormal thrillers are not really my thing and this has been on my TBR for 5 years so… it’s not happening. 

Muse of Nightmare by Laini Taylor

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I didn’t love Starnge the Dreamer. it was okay, but eh… I don’t see myself continuing with this. 

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

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I tried listening to this on audio and the narration sucked so I stopped and then I heard everyone say that the book in general sucks and yeah, I just lost interest. 

Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally


I’ve seen the film several times. It’s a great story, but I already know it. 

January 2021 Wrap Up

Generally speaking, January is always a strong reading month for me. I don’t know what it is about the new year that just makes me read twice as much as I normally do. As such, I read 13 books in January and I actually enjoyed all of them. So this will be a long post. Let’s get into it.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


This was a re-read for me. I have read the whole series and it’s one of my favourite series. And just such a solid start to the year. Cause I think everyone can agree we just need a better 2021. This also got me in the mood for some angsty  enemies to lovers fantasy romance. Which is totally reflected in the following books in this wrap up. I of course, gave this 5/5 stars. 

The Invisible Library by Genevive Cogman


This book was a lot of fun. I picked it up almost at random. One of the books in the series was on my recommended listens on Audible. So I listened to a preview and the narration was absolutely awful. But I read one of the reviews that highly recommended just reading the physical book. so I bought it on a whim and I ended up really enjoying it. It had dragons, it had fae, it had a magical library, it had this cool steampunk vibe. It gave me some The Infernal Devices vibes. It was just a lot of fun and there was also a maybe potential future slow burn, kinda angsty romance, which was just fuel on the fire kindled by The Bear and the Nightingale. Thoroughly enjoyed, I’ve already bought the next few books in the series, so looking forward to continuing with it soon. 4/5 stars.

The Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb


Continuing on with the Elderlings. This is the final book in the third Elderlings series. I read 6 Elderling books last year. I’m really loving them on audio. I think I will take a little bit of a break for now, but I do want to continue with the next series later this year. They just get better and better as more and more of the world and the overarching story is revealed. The Fool is the best character ever. I loved seeing the interplay between the different series. It’s just such masterful writing even though the Fitz books aren’t my favourites. I’m not a huge fan of Fitz as a character. I find him a bit… just annoying. But still this series is much better than his first one and I still really loved it. 4/5 stars. 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson


I read A Sorcery of Thorns a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised by it. So I decided to pick this up when I was struck by my angsty fantasy romance craving and this hit the spot so well for me. It does have some pacing issues and it’s a bit insta lovey, but I still loved it. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the take on the fae and their inability to create anything. I’m also a sucker for the fae Courts and their magic being tied to their courts. so, yeah this was a lot of fun, I think I read it in two sittings. 3.5/5 stars

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


I have already reviewed this one so I won’t talk too much about it for the sake of shortening this post, but I adored it. It’s by far my favourite (non re-read) of the year so far and I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook. I cannot wait for the next one. 4.5/5 stars

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a thing for Swedish humour authors. I love Jonas Jonasson’s books and now Fredrik Backman, This book was hilarious and heartwarming and just beautiful. I put if off for so long because honestly if you read the synopsis, it sounds boring as hell. I mean, I had heard great things about it, but even so I was never strongly tempted. But I’m so glad I gave it a try. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Backman’s books. 4.5/5 stars. 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


This was another re-read for me. I still loved it. I will say though, i definitely don’t love the writing. I don’t think I ever loved the writing, I just didn’t have any objections to it. But now I do. But I still just love the story and the characters and the world though so I still loved the book. But if I had read it for the first time now, I probably would have given it 4 stars because of the writing. However, since I tend not to change my rating for re-reads unless I have a vastly different opinion on them, it still got 5/5 stars.

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

alloy of law

Finally continued with the Mistborn books. I liked this a lot. I wouldn’t expect to not like any Sanderson books. But it’s probably my least favourite Sanderson book I’ve read so far. I think the main reason is that it’s so short. It’s not even 400 pages when I’m used to 1000 page monsters from him. And while it’s in an already established world so it doesn’t need as much world building, I still just wanted more and felt like this was just not on the same level as what I’m used to. If any other author had written this book, it would probably have been 4 stars at least. But on this occasion, Sanderson is just suffering from success, really (and my really high expectations) and only earned 3.5/5 stars.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier


This is probably my least favourite book that I read so far this year. I still enjoyed it, but it just lacked something. I think mainly, the main character just lacked agency and was just kind of a spectator to her own life. And that kind of annoyed me cause she had such potential to be a strong, badass character. I’m kind of happy with where I left the story, so I’m not sure if I will continue with this series. 3/5 stars

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger


I was a little bit disappointed by this book. I had heard amazing things about it and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. the writing was a bit tacky and it had some romance elements that I didn’t like. It’s a middle grade book, so I don’t want crushes and romance, I want magic and adventure and friendship. So it was so jarring whenever the romance elements showed up. It was like it just kept switching between middle grade and YA and I didn’t like it. But I did enjoy the adventure and the world and I am interested in continuing with the series, but I was just a little disappointed. 3.5/5 stars

Skulduggery Pleasant 10-12 by Derek Landy

I read the majority of the Skulduggery books last year and I’m just about caught up with it. I have one book left which I’m currently reading. This is just such a fun series and it did such a good job at following Valkyrie since she was a child and changing the tone of that as she grew. I love this series and I’m excited for anything else coming in the series. I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series, I know there is one coming out this year, but not sure beyond that. Either way, this is a solid 4 star series for me. 

And that is it for January. Hopefully, I continue as well as I did this month for the whole year. 

Books I’m glad I listened to on audio

The past couple of years, I really delved into audiobooks and discovered that some books I actually prefer as audio books and listening to them as opposed to reading them actually increases my enjoyment of them. This isn’t true for all books, I’m very picky about narrators and some books I would rather just read myself regardless of the narrator. But these are some books I am glad I consumed as audiobooks.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


This was such an amazing audiobook. The narrator was fantastic at creating the right kind of atmosphere for this book and on top of that, the production of the book was also great. The sound effects used were fantastic and everything came together splendidly. I definitely recommend this as an audiobook and I will be continuing with the series on audio for sure.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


I loved this book, it was so beautiful and funny and just wonderful. But I don’t think I’d have really reached for it in a physical format anytime soon. It’s not really a genre I really read much of and the synopsis really does not do it justice. It sounds kind of boring based on the synopsis in all honesty. but with audiobooks, I tend to branch out more, especially that audible lets you return audiobboks if you don’t like them. So I’m really glad I gave this a try and Fredrik Backman is now up there with Jonas Jonasson on my list of Swedish humour authors I love.

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

I read the first book in physical format and it didn’t work for me that well. I found it difficult to get through. Granted, her first series does slug a bit, but just in general, I think her books and her writing style works better for me as audiobooks. And it goes to show that I listened to 6 Elderling books last year, where between reading her first book and her second one, it took me 2 years. So I’m definitely glad I gave this a go on audio, because I do really enjoy the story.

Nonfiction books

I read a few in 2020 and I want to continue to do that. I find I’m much more inclined to pick non-fiction books as audiobook. I can listen to them while I’m cooking or doing something else and I don’t get bored. I find that if I just sit down to read them, I get bored and I end up not enjoying them and not learning much.

The Resolutions Book Tag

Because it’s been ages since I’ve done a tag and I’m in the mood to blog, but got no better ideas, here is a tag for you. Check out the original creator as well. I will mostly try to answer with books I read in 2020, since I’ve not made any favourites/least favourites post this year.

Exercise More – name a book that has made you want to leap up out of your seat (for any reason)


Hmm… I’m stumped by the first question. I don’t remember any books I’ve read recently making me want to leap out of my seat. Keeping me on edge, yes, but not not quite leaping out. Alas, I’ll have to settle for that and I’ll go with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. One of my favourite reads of 2020. New favourite author. Just yes. This book is amazing. 

Get Organised – a book with an exceptional plot


Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet was another favourite of 2020. I have actually reviewed it as well, one of the few such occurrences last year. This book was so good. The magic system is so cool, there’s a magical heist plot, there’s a wonderful talking key who is the BEST. It’s just fantastic and I loved every second of it.  

Learn A New Skill – a book which taught you something

I actually read a few non-fiction books that I really enjoyed. A Classical Education by Caroline Taggart probably stands out the most for me because it was just so funny and informative at the same time. Having said that, the one I feel like I retained the most information from was Rome: A History in Seven Sackings  by Matthew Kneale.

Live Life To The Fullest – a book which inspired you

I really don’t know what to answer this with. I don’t think I’ve been particularly inspired by any of the books I read in 2020. I’m sure at some point in my life I felt inspired by some book, but I can’t think of any such instances just now. 

Save more money / spend less money – the most expensive book you’ve bought and was it worth it?

I don’t think I bought any particularly expensive books in 2020. Probably graphic novels would be the most expensive books that I bought. I bought 2 graphic novels last year: Maus by Art Spiegelman and Monstress Vol. 3 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda. And yes, they were both worth it indeed.  

Spend More Time With Family and Friends – a character you would want to be best mates with

There are a few characters I’d love to be friends with. Clef, from Foundryside is one. He’s my favourite character in that series. The Fool from The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb (I read six Elderling books last year!) would be another. Also Nighteyes from the Elderlings series as well. Skulduggery Pleasant from the eponymous series is another I’d love to be friends with. And another one is Wit/Hoid from the Cosmere books in general but particularly from The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. He appears in most Cosmere novels, but he’s a lot more prevalent in the more recent one. I have not actually finished any Cosmere books last year but I did read the majority of Oathbringer (I was forced to put it in storage before I could finish it 😥 ) so I’m going to include it here as well. To be honest, I could list quite a few Stormlight characters I’d want as my friends, but I’ll refrain. 

Travel More – a book with a location you’d love to visit

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. I would love to visit Nevermoor, it sounds like a wonderful place!

Read More – a book you are desperate to read this year

I’m going to assume this refers to new releases, so I will go with The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon, The Girl and the Mountain by Mark lawrence and Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco. I’m sure there are more books that if I knew they were coming out this year, I’d be desperate to read, however I haven’t really looked at what is being released this year. 

How not to write

A while back, I re-read some of the early Shadowhunter books and if you’ve read them, you know the first few books are not that well written. So I started this series about weird writing choices (Part 1 | Part 2). I’m currently reading another book from around that time (2008-2010, twilightish era) and they all just have this same vibe. Characterised by tacky, overly dramatic, weird “quirky” writing. So I decided to extend this series from weird phrases, to general writing things that I find irritating. These are observations that I’ve either made in one or more books and I use examples from the books I’ve most recently read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re exclusive to those books or even that I think those books are bad.

Weird adverbs used to describe speech

One that I particularly noticed in the book I’m currently reading (The Iron King by Julie Kagawa) is “intelligently”. Used when someone interjections basically. For example: “‘How’re you feeling, princess?’ ‘Uh,’ I said intelligently.” I mean I get what it’s trying to convey, but I just find it jarring and annoying. especially that not every line of dialogue needs a descriptor. Like, if (as in this case) it’s a conversation between two people and they’re the only ones in the room, you only need to qualify who’s speaking at the start of the conversation or if there’s a pause in the conversation, or if the way that someone said something is relevant. Like if their tone of voice changes or something like that. But in this case, it just serves no purpose other than… trying to be funny, I suppose? But not doing a very good job at it.
Another one that actually comes from one of my favourite books story and character-wise (A Court of Mist and Fury), but which upon my latest reread, I found somewhat lacking in the writing department, is “purred”. Everyone’s always purring and that’s just such a weird imagery to me. I know it’s trying to convey a kind of sly, seductive tone of voice, but firstly I can’t understand what about cat purring conveys seduction. To me, it conveys contentment. But leaving that aside… it’s such a weird word to use. I just find myself imagining all sounding like chain smokers or something. There’s no other way for me to marry the sound of purring and the sound of human speech.

Excessive use of nicknames

Also conveniently illustrated by my previous quote. This particular character calls the man character “princess” every single time he addresses her (and yes, I know she really is a princess, but my point is still valid). Look, I get nicknames, pet names whatever. And they’re okay in moderation or if they replace the actual name of the character. But when it’s used ad nauseam, when every single time one character addresses another, they add the nickname… again, it’s jarring, repetitive and serves no real purpose whatsoever. Except making the writing seem tacky. Though I imagine the intention is to make the characters seem quirky.

Excessive or weirdly placed emphasis

This is another one that comes to you courtesy of ACOMAF. There’s so much emphasis, either through repeating a word or phrase (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”), or through italics (e.g. “He laughed out loud for the first time in months”) or both (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”). Don’t get me wrong, either of these types of emphasis are not in themselves necessarily bad writing, and when used appropriately can be very useful. But I’ve found that SJM just did it to the extent that the characters constantly seemed in utter disbelief of everything that was happening and it was just jarring. It also made it seem like she doesn’t trust her readers to understand anything that is any way significant unless it’s thoroughly pointed out to them. Which just gets irritating. Emphasis should be used sparingly and your story should highlight significant things without you having to constantly provide emphasis.  Just as a general rule of thumb, you should write as if you don’t think that your readers have the intelligence of a pencil case and can figure some stuff out for themselves. done 2 gif

Excessive exposition of character’s emotions

In the same vein, another thing that really stood out to me in ACOMAF and something that I have encountered particularly in YA books is explaining why a character is feeling a certain way in a certain moment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, again, there are circumstances in which that might be the way to go. But when your reader already knows the reasons for those feelings, we don’t need an internal monologue that lays out every single reason why that feeling is being felt. We already know and are capable of empathising without being told every single reason why we should empathise. So for example, if we know that character A has gone through a traumatic event and character B at some point finds out about it or realises how traumatised character A is or whatever, and feels for them. We don’t need an internal monologue that explain to us why character B feels for character A. We already know and generally, as I said, you ought to write as if you expect your readers not to be stupid or incapable of empathy. It just takes up unnecessary word count and it’s just irritating. stop_it_hellboy
This turned out to be a bit longer than I had expected, but that’s it for now. I don’t doubt I’ll be back with more at some point. But for now, let me know about writing choices that you find irritating.