July 2022

I finally had a summer holiday that felt like a summer holiday. Filled with fun memories and good times in another country. No, another continent. It was like a giant reset button that I desperately needed, and now I’m back, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. It’s amazing how much difference a holiday makes.

If you wanna know more about my fabulous holiday abroad, read on to find out more…

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June 2022

Summer is officially here! If only the weather had received the memo… (although, that being said, I’m glad we haven’t really had a proper heatwave because I can’t cope with them)

This month has been unexpected yet awesome in the best way. It’s been one of the best months of the year so far, mostly because I was kept busy and had plans for the entire month. It makes such a difference, when you have plans versus when you don’t. But what were my plans? Read on to find out…

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May 2022

I feel like I blinked and May was over.

It’s odd because I don’t feel like I had any more plans than I have done in previous months, and I certainly haven’t met up with as many people, yet somehow I feel like this month rushed by (towards the end at least). Usually, I like May because the weather starts getting warmer and I can put on lighter clothing, but it remains to be seen whether that warm weather will arrive and last, considering the very variable weather recently.

So, what have I been up to? Well, read on to find out…

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April 2022

April often feels like the month of fresh starts and new beginnings, but ironically, this is perhaps the only month where I haven’t done anything different or new. Although, at least the weather is beginning to feel warmer… and the storms are still just as bad when they hit. I know April Showers are a thing, but a torrential downpour and 50 mph winds?! That’s a little strong for April Showers!

I’m curious what next month has in store for me, but I’m hoping it’ll be a positive change because I could really use a win right now…

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March 2022

It’s finally beginning to feel like Spring, aka my favourite month. I can wear lighter clothing but not worry about sun cream. Unfortunately, my hay fever does act up, so now’s the time to rely on hay fever tablets again. Still, I’m appreciating the sunny weather when it pops out.

I haven’t actually implemented any changes this month to this blog, but I am thinking about changing how I write my book reviews. Prepare for that change next month… when I find the time to read.

Next month is gonna be crazy busy for a short time frame, but I’m so excited! For now though, let’s focus on what I’ve been up to this month.

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Legend of the Lakes Book Review

I was invested enough to keep reading this trilogy and see how it ended, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how neatly everything was wrapped up. I’ve enjoyed the storyline for the most part, and intrigued by the world building still, but I’m also glad it’s over because it was a struggle in places to get through.

Synopsis

Picking up from where we left off, Cassandra mourns the loss of her beloved and tries to become the person she is destined to be: the Lady of the Lake. However, with her new title come new obstacles and challenges she must overcome, including being a mother to her daughter and dealing with the Empire who stole her life from her time and time again. But dealing with the Empire was never going to be easy, as she soon discovers…

First Impressions

Okay, that ending was actually really good and totally solid. The storyline was still decent and I still like the world building, but my god, it was difficult to get through in some parts.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • Gideon – despite his faults, he is honestly the glue holding the entire story together
  • The world building – it was interesting to read about the different politics between the regions
  • The ending – it neatly tied up the trilogy and answered any unanswered questions

What I Disliked:

  • Marcus – his character just feels so irrelevant, especially after the second book? why do any of them trust him?

Characterisation: I felt indifferent towards Cassandra. At times, I found her annoying, especially with Gideon (I’ll get onto that). I can understand grieving and wanting to fulfil your duty, but I preferred her when she used her gift without compromising her relationships with others. I loved watching her form close bonds with her family and her people, I suppose, in comparison to her Londinium life.

For all his faults, Gideon is the saving grace of this story. The glue that held it together, and perhaps one of the only reasons I kept reading until the end. didn’t like how indifferent or angry he was towards Cassandra at times, although she deserved it most of the time, but he was the best father figure to Feile when she didn’t really have anyone. Gideon chose his duty, but he also chose Cassandra and Feile over anything else, and I respect that kind of loyalty.

Marcus is the type of character I hate, especially in TV shows. Where the character experiences some growth throughout a season on a TV show, then immediately undoes it all to become the villain (think Hariam Lodge on Riverdale). Like, why show his vulnerable side if he’s gonna keep betraying them? Why even believe him at this stage if you know he’s betrayed you multiple times? Whatever little sympathy I had for him, even still in this book, it wasn’t enough to redeem how irrelevant his character is for this final instalment.

I haven’t mentioned Calchas yet because up until the end of the last book, he never seemed like that major of a character. Wow, I was wrong. He’s actually a well written villain – totally two dimensional, sure, but my god, he does it so well. Like, he knows exactly how he wants everything to go and manipulates it to happen as he plans while showing no remorse whatsoever. I do love a well written villain, so kudos to Clara O’Connor for writing this wickedly manipulative dictator.

Okay, so, I spoke too soon about Fidelma, but I still don’t understand why we were made to believe Callum was anything other than indifferent towards Devyn in the previous book. Some of the characters shone more than others, and that does tend to happen when you have an array of background characters. Still, I would’ve liked more of Feile, especially after Cassandra makes an effort to reconnect with her.

Story Structure: As I’ve said before, the story structure is fine. There are enough ups and downs to keep you interested, and Clara O’Connor makes the sensible decision to fast forward in time, so we don’t need to hear in detail about Cassandra’s duty, or what she does while pregnant and grieving. The pacing itself is fine too, especially as we have enough going on to keep us entertained.

Since the story is told from Cassandra’s perspective, it’s understandable why I didn’t like her and Gideon together. See, when Cassandra had feelings for Devyn, we rooted for her to overcome the odds and be with him because we could see how much she loved him, and we could see it in Devyn too. But with Gideon, Cassandra goes back and forth on her feelings towards him constantly that we’re not sure which side to be on – should we like him or should we loathe him? For a character, it’s good that she was unsure, but it felt like she kept self sabotaging for the sake of the plot, which then makes it harder to root for the couple to be together because it really seems like they’re not well suited for one another.

Other Thoughts: I know I’ve mentioned it before, but there are too many adverbs that just aren’t necessary. Also, again, I noticed several spelling and punctuation mistakes, so I wonder whether they were on a super tight deadline that they missed several of them.

Summary

Honestly, if it wasn’t for Gideon and needing to know what happened in the end, I might not have finished this trilogy. It is such a great concept, but it has lacked something for me throughout. At least the ending was solid and wrapped everything up nicely.

Curse of the Celts Book Review

I was so excited and intrigued to read this series when I first picked it up, but my interest is waning. I love seeing how she incorporates Celtic and Briton history into the story, but it doesn’t really go as in-depth as I’d like, and it feels a little bit too much like reality right now.

Synopsis

Picking up from where we left off, Cassandra, Marcus and Devyn failed to flee Londinium to safety and await a trial to determine their fate. But with an unlikely accomplice, the trio escapes and travel through the land to Cassandra’s and Marcus’ respective homes. Along the way, Cassandra discovers who she really is, so when her secret is revealed, her world is once again thrown into chaos and she must choose carefully who she can trust, for not everyone around her can be trusted…

First Impressions

I hate surprise plot twist endings – I’ll explain why down below. The story wasn’t quite as strong as the first book, which can often happen in sequels, and while the ending thoroughly annoyed me, I do wanna find out what happens in the end.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • Cassandra discovering her identity – I liked that she figured out who she was after being lied to and manipulated for so long
  • World building – it wasn’t as good as the first book, but I still liked it and could see where the author had drawn inspiration from

What I Disliked:

  • Marcus – I really liked his character development, but it was all undone for the sake of a surprise plot twist ending

Characterisation: I preferred Cassandra in this book as she discovered who she really was and enjoyed her newfound freedom. But her entire storyline revolving around men dictating her life again – really?! I would’ve preferred to hear about her history, or her to spend more time with her brother, who I have issues with, but instead she just seems to mope and get frustrated with why nobody will tell her anything – a valid concern of hers.

I felt like we didn’t really know much about Marcus before, and I was okay with that since he seemed like a side character anyway. But we were given more depth to Marcus’ character in this book, which I really appreciated. I liked that he was interested in how these people treated the illness and seemed to want to help them, and in a sense, I can see what she was trying to achieve by his betrayal in the ending. Except she didn’t explain it well, so there was this disconnect between the caring version of Marcus and the ending version, who seemed cold-hearted and ruthless for no reason other than to shock the reader. Now, if Cassandra had noticed a few subtle differences in how he behaved with the druids versus everyone else, or even that something wasn’t quite right, maybe the ending would’ve worked. But it just didn’t.

As for Devyn, he was barely in this book. Considering the lengths he’d gone to to find Cassandra and rescue her, he seemed inconsequential in this book. He kept separating himself from Cassandra, telling her they couldn’t be together but never really explaining why? I understand the importance of class here, but when Cassandra revealed her secret, there was literally no reason why they couldn’t be together. Considering his ending too, I’m just so annoyed with the way his character, who was a prominent main character in the previous book, was reduced to an inconsequential side character, if even that.

Gideon – my god, he was so confusing. Cassandra kept describing how arrogant he was and how much she didn’t like him, but she had a lot of chats with him that went kinda deep? And he obviously cared about her because he kept appearing and warning her. But here’s what I don’t get: why pretend to be intimate with her, knowing you both feel some sexual tension, then be so reluctant to do anything in the end?

As for the other myriad of characters, why would you make Cassandra’s brother so two dimensional and cold towards his own sister? Why plant that Fidelma and Callum are suspicious then do nothing with that? Granted, maybe that will come up in the third book, but if not, I’m gonna be pissed. There were more characters, so I can understand why they didn’t have much of a personality, but sometimes less is more, y’know?

Story Structure: I still think it was a solid enough story structure, but man, I didn’t like the climax/ending at all. The pacing was a bit slow in places, but the story did keep consistently going and throwing obstacles in Cassandra’s way, so I don’t really have complaints on a story level up until the ending.

I hate surprise plot twist endings. TV writers increasingly are using them, and even Disney is now trying to use them in all their animated films, but it only works a fraction of the time. In fact, if you keep using it as a plot device, audiences aren’t going to be surprised by the plot twist ending because they’ll expect it and just feel disappointed and cheated by it, like I did with this ending.

Clara O’Connor is a TV writer, so no doubt she has been influenced by this in her books, but shoving a surprise plot twist ending in because you want to seem smarter than the reader only works if you drop hints throughout that, upon re-reading, you could pick out and go ‘oh! how did I not notice that before?!’ But Clara O’Connor didn’t do that, so I’m now wondering whether I want to keep reading if she’s just going to use the same ending again.

Other Thoughts: Once again, I thought there were too many adverbs, but not quite as noticeable as before. Or maybe I just adapted to them. In my particular copy of the book, there were several mistakes I noticed, usually missing punctuation. I understand how easy it is to miss them, but more than about three mistakes in one book is bad.

Summary

The storyline itself is still solid and worth reading for, but the worldbuilding isn’t quite as good, and the characters seem to change their personality when it’s convenient for the plot. I hate surprise plot twist endings, but that’s purely personal preference, and I’m actually intrigued enough to keep reading. I’ve come too far now not to find out what happens in the end.

February 2022

Who says January is the only month for having fresh starts?

If you read below, you’ll see why I’m implementing these changes, but since I’m no longer posting these personal posts to Twitter, I’m going to post these monthly updates on the last day of the month instead of the nearest weekend to it. That way, I won’t miss a day or two either, so you get the full month.

I wonder what change I’ll implement next month… (this is the year of change for me, I can feel it)

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Secrets of the Starcrossed Review

After reading the synopsis of this book, I was very intrigued by the concept and knew I had to read it. Coming from Celtic ancestry myself, and having a fascination with the Ancient Romans, this story combined two ancient civilisations in a very interesting way, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Synopsis

Cassandra has always lived within the Code, abiding by its rules. But when she steals an item from a mysterious classmate who nobody seems to know or even notice, her life changes drastically. Her betrothal to Marcus (aka most eligible bachelor in the city), her friendships, her relationship with her parents is all thrown into chaos as Cassandra discovers who she really is and why her connection to this classmate, Devyn, is so intense and strong. How far would you go to be free and be who you are rather than who you’re meant to be?

First Impressions

What an ending! Although, I can tell Clara O’Connor is an American TV writer because this very much feels like how a TV season might end. I’m curious to know what happens next with these characters and where the story goes, especially given where this book ends.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The worldbuilding – recreating history so that the Roman Empire never fell is such an interesting concept, and I loved seeing how the world went upwards instead of outwards
  • Cassandra and Devyn – I loved how magnetic they felt to one another, and boy was I rooting for them throughout
  • The storyline – just like with the worldbuilding, this was quite an interesting storyline, especially with how dystopian it felt

What I Disliked:

  • Overusing adverbs – I don’t mind the occasional adverb, but there are several throughout this book that just weren’t necessary (think Twilight adverbs and you’ll get what I mean)
  • Marcus – he seemed a bit two dimensional to me, especially some of his actions

Characterisation: Cassandra is perhaps the stereotypical Western woman. She lives in her privileged bubble and she’s perfectly content to her life within the Code. But my god, I much preferred her when she tapped into who she really was – a woman who wants to live her own life, rather than the one she’d been conditioned to live (something I’ve certainly felt before).

I loved her connection with Devyn too. Devyn, who lives by his own moral compass, but also by his heart. I loved how he used magic to hide within plain sight, how he always seemed to have a plan, how much he just wanted to protect Cassandra. He’s an intriguing character, and one I want to learn more about. But particularly, I loved learning more about the world outside of Londinium. Like I mentioned above, I come from Celtic ancestry (specifically, Irish ancestry), so to me, it was cool to see how the various Celtic trides lived in this world.

Marcus was too… two dimensional for me. I loved when he was vulnerable and seemed to want to be Cassandra’s friend. Hell, I didn’t even mind when he was being this party boy everyone wanted. What I found odd was the way he betrayed Cassandra twice. Granted, he didn’t mean to the second time, but there was something so… odd about his betrayal. It felt almost forced, likewise with him being happy to escape. I hope this is changed a bit in the sequel because I’m not getting the best feelings towards him (and maybe I’m not supposed to).

Story Structure: Since Clara O’Connor is a TV writer, I wouldn’t be surprised if she used the same story structure with this book as she does with her TV shows. It confirms my theory that the TV story structure does translate to writing books, although perhaps it ended a tad bit too suddenly for me. The inciting incident and climax are obvious, and I love that she dropped hints early and paid them off later – something I was taught to do when I did a TV scriptwriting module at university. It was a solid story structure and helped with the character’s development.

Other Thoughts: One of my creative writing lecturers was anti-adverbs, so whenever I see adverbs now, I re-read the sentence to see whether the adverb is necessary. I don’t mind an occasional adverb, but Clara O’Connor overuses them. There are several occasions where it just wasn’t necessary and could’ve been written another way.

Summary

With the unique worldbuilding, intriguing storyline and flawed main characters, this story is well worth the read, especially if you loved fated romance. I loved the Celtic and Ancient Roman concept, and I’m intrigued to see where they go next, and more importantly, what more I can learn about Celtic traditions (especially given my Celtic ancestry).

Finale Book Review

I picked up this book with no idea where it was going. Legendary felt like a natural stopping point in a way, but I was curious what would happen with the Fates waking up. Plus, since I knew this was the last book in the trilogy, I wanted to know how Tella and Scarlett’s stories ended, and what happened to Jacks for him to act the way he did in Once Upon A Broken Heart.

Synopsis

Two months have passed since the Fates were freed, and now they’re waking up. Both Tella and Scarlett want to stop the Fates from ruling over the mortals again and will do whatever it takes to do so. But along the way, they have to make sacrifices that will alter their lives forever. The end is near, but will it be a happily ever after?

First Impressions

Honestly, I didn’t like this book as much as the previous two, but I still thought it was a good ending and wrapped everything up nicely. I’m sad I won’t read more about Tella and Scarlett though – I hope they feature more in future books.

Thoughts

What I Liked:

  • The world – honestly, I haven’t loved a world as much as I’ve loved this one in a very long time, and if I could, I would live there
  • The characterisation – I still adore the main characters, who are still brilliant and flawed, and I’ll miss them now the series is over (except Jacks, who was the star of Once Upon A Broken Heart)
  • The Fates – I loved all their powers and how cool the Fated objects/places were

What I Disliked:

  • When Paradise died – I understand why she died, but couldn’t she have lived a little longer, so she could’ve at least interacted with her daughters?

Characterisation: I love both Tella and Scarlett. I love how far Scarlett has come since Caraval, and I love how Tella is always getting herself into trouble. The pair are such a good duo, especially as they’re quite different people, but they’ll always protect and love the other. I liked the twist that they’re stepsisters but decide to not let that get in the way of their bond. They’re just sibling goals.

Both Julian and Legend are great for entirely different reasons. Julian, for how much he’s willing to do for Scarlett. Legend, for continually putting Tella first and giving up his immortality for her. I mean, talk about relationship goals. I also like their brotherly bond, which we only get brief glimpses of, but it’s enough to see how much they care about each other.

God, I still love Jacks. He’s so conniving and manipulative, but I liked seeing him be more vulnerable. I know he has a vulnerable moment in Once Upon A Broken Heart, but you’re not quite sure whether it’s real or not. But with Tella, it’s definitely real. It’s interesting to see how he changes from the Caraval series to Once Upon A Broken Heart, and I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next.

I wish Paradise/Paloma had just one moment with her daughters before she was killed. Like, it would’ve been nice to see the two daughters reunite with their mum and face their conflicting feelings about her. I know they both got a brief moment with her, but I just wish there’d been something more. I understand why she needed to die (as I said above) and her character did feel more like a plot device, but even still, it would’ve been nice to have more dimension to her character.

Story Structure: The story starts two months on from Legendary, but it lacked something for me. The inciting incident and the climax are both focused on the Fates and what impact they have on the main characters, while the resolution wraps everything up with Tella and Scarlett, so they both have their happy ending. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the dual point of view always worked, and if anything, confused me further, but that’s just personal preference.

Other Thoughts: I just love the Fates and the Fated objects/places. They’re so imaginative and cool, even if I wouldn’t want to interact with some of them. I liked how some of them saw their gifts more as curses, while the others used their gifts to be cruel and vicious, to show how superior they were. It’s a cool contrast, and goes to show you can’t necessarily judge based on one Fate alone. The world-building is impeccable, but my god, I love the Fates.

Summary

It was a good way to wrap up the series, even if I thought it was lacking compared to the other two books. I’m going to miss these characters and the trouble they get into, and I’m certainly going to miss Caraval. It seemed like such a cool event to witness. But I’m excited for The Ballad of Never After and what happens next.