Writing Romance: Snog, Marry, Avoid


, , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Valentine’s Day! And it’s got me thinking about romance in fiction, so I’ve decided to write a fun little post about how romance and relationships are portrayed in YA literature. In this ranking system, Snog is something I like to see in books, Marry is something I love or think works really well, and Avoid is the kind of thing that I dread finding in books.


Love triangles

When done badly, love triangles can completely ruin a book. When done well, they aren’t irritating and can actually be enjoyable. For a while I read so many love triangles that I absolutely loathed and became a love triangle hater, but over the years I have come to appreciate that most elements of a story aren’t bad, it’s all down to how to author handles that element. While I’m still not a fan of love triangles, I wouldn’t avoid them, because they can be enjoyable when written well. Conclusion: Snog

Slow burn

A romantic plot is so much more satisfying when two characters slowly build their relationship. When they learn things about each other as the book progresses and the author leaves room for their relationship to evolve and grow. Conclusion: Marry


This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Insta-love is so unrealistic, never mind boring to read about. I want to read a story where two people grow to care for each other, not where they slobber at each over across the canteen. Yes, there can be insta-attraction. But not insta-love. Conclusion: Avoid

The romance subplot

Romance subplots almost always crop up in YA fantasy and sci-fi books. I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is when the romance subplot ends up taking up too much page time. Sometimes the romance subplot even seems to become more important than the main plot. If I wanted to read romance I’d read a romance book, or a book that’s billed as a fantasy romance. Of course, romance subplots can be really effective though. Conclusion: Snog

Stuck together

There’s only so many times you can read a scene where two people get stuck in a cabin the middle of nowhere and end up having to share a bed, or trapped in any kind of space where they are forced to communicate and, sometimes, get a little physically closer than usual. My instinct is to say Avoid, but doesn’t everyone find a little guilty pleasure from those scenes? They can provide tension and really force characters to get to know each other. But it has been done so many times. Conclusion: Snog  

More than just romance

There has to be more to the main character’s life than romance. Even in romance fiction. A character can’t solely be defined by their relationship to one other character. They have to be rounded, have personality, and have hopes and dreams outside of their relationship. They need to have friends and family to interact with, not to ignore for a whole book just because the romance is the forefront of the story. Conclusion: Marry

Pairing up

It really irritates me in books when all the central characters, and sometimes lots of the side characters too, get paired up by the end of the book/series. As if everyone has to be in a relationship by the end in order to have a happy ending. I do like to see side characters get together and like shipping characters as much as the next person. But does every character have to get paired up? Conclusion: Avoid

Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? What other romance elements do you love and hate? Let me know in the comments!


A Writer’s Journey – Part 1


, , , , ,

My writing journey, as far as I can remember, started when I was nine years old. I probably dabbled in writing before then, but there is a particular time that I really remember properly getting into it. For my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary all of their closest family met up during the Easter holidays in 2006, including me and my parents. To keep me entertained, I had a little green notepad, which I started writing short stories in. I still have this notepad! At the time I was very interested in Ancient Greece as we had been studying it at school, particularly myths. So I wrote my own myths and even drew little drawings to go with them.

The next thing I remember working on was a series of stories probably inspired by Tomb Raider: Legend, which was the first proper single-player action game I played. I wrote two ‘books’ in the series (they were very, very short, only a few pages).

Only a year later in 2008, I advanced to planning an epic fantasy series. Probably as a result of reading The Lord of the Rings. I spent ages drawing maps and characters. I wrote 23,000 words of the first book, which is a pretty substantial amount compared to my previous efforts. I dabbled in the other books in the series (they were connected but separate ‘parts’ of an overall series), and wrote around 42,000 words of the series in total over the course of about three years.


I have folders full of notes from when I first started writing, along with old drafts I printed out

Over that period I also had many other ideas. Writing occupied much of my spare time, and I wrote notes for and started writing many other projects. The next ‘big’ one that I worked on for a substantial amount of time was called The Story with no Name Yet, which I started in 2009. It was called that for so long, because I never came up with a proper name for it! I wrote 52,000 words of the first book in the series (and was only a third through what I had planned, so it was going to be pretty long if I’d ever finished it!), which is the most I’d written for one book up to that point. Obviously the writing is what you’d expect from a 13-15 year old, but there are some elements of the plot which I might borrow at some point…

I also spent quite a while working on a paranormal romance story, as that was all the rage in the YA genre when I was in high school. I spent a substantial amount of time planning it, but only wrote about 30,000 words, which was only part way through the first book in the six book series I had planned.

Despite spending so much time writing, I hadn’t finished a book. It started getting me down that I kept starting, but never finishing anything. There are so many other ideas I haven’t mentioned. I never deleted anything, so I have folders full of ideas and part-written books saved on my computer.

So in 2012 I decided I needed to finish something. I set myself a more easily attainable goal – writing a novella. Still in the paranormal romance phase, I planned a story about an angel who falls from Heaven and is found by a human. Finished, it came to about 38,000 words. At the age of 16, I’d finally done it; I’d written a whole complete story with a beginning, middle and end. It was also the best piece I’d written. It still probably read like something a teenage would write, but it was much better than what I had written previously. Most importantly it gave me the confidence to believe I could finish a full-length novel.

Look out for part 2 of my writing journey blog post, which will take me from finishing my first novel to what I’m working on now.

Top 5 Wednesday: YA Series I Abandoned


, , , , , , , ,

This week’s Top 5 is a freebie, so I’ve decided to talk about young adult book series that I have given up reading. I’m sure other people have enjoyed and loved these series, but they just weren’t for me. In some cases I knew from the first book I wasn’t going to complete the whole series, but for others I started out enjoying them but ended up disappointed. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.


1) Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick – There are four books in this series and I read the first three. Having enjoyed the first two, book three was a complete disappointment. I found Silence boring and frustrating. I ended up abandoning the series and never read the last book, Finale.


2) Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory – I only got as far as book one here. As Gregory is such a big name in the book world, I was shocked by how bad this book was. I went in really wanting to like it, but I just couldn’t. After reading Changeling I thought I might give the second book ago in the vague hopes it might improve. But I’ve decided I’d rather spend my time reading something I’m more likely to enjoy.


3) Halo by Alexandra Adornetto – I read the first two books in this trilogy a long time ago now. Back in the days when paranormal romances were all the rage. Frankly though, this series wasn’t great, and I didn’t bother finishing it.


4) The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I have included this series on this list with a heavy heart. The first book in the series was great, and I also liked the second and third books in the main trilogy. But then came the prequel The Kill Order, which really wasn’t very good. Unfortunately I’ve lost faith in the series as a result, and doubt I will be reading The Fever Code.


5) The Iron Fey by Julie Kagawa – I gave the first book in this series a 3.5 star rating, which looking back I think was quite generous. While it wasn’t a bad book, it wasn’t memorable. It had weak characters and little original plot. I had planned to continue reading the series, but it’s now five years (I cannot believe it has been so long!) since I read the first book, so I don’t think I will be coming back for book two now.

Book Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead


, , , , , , ,

19258492Frostbite by Richelle Mead   

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Publishing Info: Kindle edition 2008 by e-Penguin (first published 2008)

Pages: 336

Star Rating: 3.5/5


Back Cover Summary:

Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It’s winter break at St. Vladimir’s, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy’s crawling with Guardians—including Rose’s hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn’t bad enough, Rose’s tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason’s got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa’s head while she’s making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy’s not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad’s annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…


Frostbite is the second book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. Although I rated this 3.5, the same as I rated the first book, I did think it was a little stronger. Just not quite edging to a 4 for me compared to other books I have given a 4 star rating.

The friendship between Rose and Lissa was a little sidelined in this book, which I think was a shame as it was one of the strongest aspects of Vampire Academy. I hope their friendship will continue to evolve through the rest of the series. Other relationships were explored more, such as Rose and her mother. As we didn’t see much of Janine in book one, it was interesting to see how Rose interacted with her mother and how their relationship shifted over the course of the book.

Character development was stronger in this book, perhaps because the first did a good job of setting up the world, meaning Mead had more time to spend on her characters. Rose, although still very much the same fiery person, does change and learn to think a bit more which was good to see. I can also imagine the events of this book having a big impact on her outlook. Mia’s character was given more attention and became a more fleshed out character, rather than just the stereotype she fell into in Vampire Academy. New character Adrian at first had me rolling my eyes but he became more interesting later in the book and could have a larger role to play going forward.

A couple of the earlier action sequences were lacking suspense in the same way they had in the first book, but the concluding action scene had a lot more tension and was a great improvement. I liked seeing Rose think on her feet and taking the role of leader at the end in what was a very dramatic conclusion.

Considering the novel is called ‘Frostbite’ and the setting is very wintery, I think Mead could have played with that element a bit more in terms of setting the scene and creating atmosphere through the characters’ environment. It’s not essential, but I think it would have added another layer.

A few more elements and little nuggets of information were introduced so I’m definitely going to continue reading the series. Mead has created an intriguing world with compelling and complex characters. This series is definitely one of the better young adult paranormal I have read, since I have found a lot of paranormal YA to be full of tropes or very wishy-washy. This is a stronger example of the genre and worth a read.

Top 10 Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2018


, , , , , , , , , ,

While I read a lot of sequels and books by authors I know and love, I also ended up reading a lot of books by new-to-me authors last year. There are some I loved and am excited to read more of their works, but there are sadly others who I’m not sure if I’ll be returning to.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.


1) Claudia Gray (Defy the Stars) – This was my favourite book of 2018 so I’m really glad I was introduced to this new author last year.

2) Sarah J. Mass (Throne of Glass) – I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read one of Mass’s books! I absolutely loved the first two books in the Throne of Glass series and I can’t wait to read more by her.

3) Marie Lu (The Young Elites) – Another author that’s been around for a while and I’ve only just read. The Young Elites was another favourite from last year.


4) James Bowen (A Street Cat Named Bob) – I pretty much never read non-fiction, autobiographies or memoirs, but I love cats and loved the film adaptation of this. I’m glad I read the book as I found it really interesting.

5) George R. R. Martin (A Game of Thrones) – Finally started reading this series. One of the great things about it is Martin’s writing, I was really drawn in by his prose style.

6) Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy) – I’d heard of Vampire Academy but not really thought it would be my thing, but I was pleasantly surprised. I’m actually reading the sequel, Frostbite, right now.


7) Pittacus Lore (I Am Number Four) – I’ve watched the film many times so it took me a while to get round to reading the book (it’s never the same if you watch the film first). While I did enjoy it, I’m not sure if I’m going to read the rest of the series.

8) Melanie Cellier (The Princess Companion) – I didn’t have great expectations for this book, but was pleasantly surprised, and wouldn’t rule out reading more of Cellier’s books.

9) M. A. Bennett (S.T.A.G.S.) – I found this book disappointing, but recognised a good storyteller in Bennett, so I would give another of her books a go.

10) Meg Clothier (The Girl King) – I applaud Clothier for writing about such an unknown historical period. It was interesting to read about 12th Century Georgia. However the book didn’t meet its potential.


Books I Want to Read in 2019


, , , , , , ,

This post comes to you a little later than planned as I started off the new year with a horrendous cold. There are so many books I want to read this year, I know I won’t get round to reading them all. My Goodreads reading goal for 2019 is 20 books, as I decided to set it to something more realistic. If I read more, that’s great, but I would like to read at least 20. I don’t have as much time for reading as I would like unfortunately. So, here are some of the books I particularly want to read this year.

9781408855690I started re-reading all of the Harry Potter books over the last couple of years and would like to continue that by reading the next one – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I’m looking forward to re-reading this one as I remember when I first saw the film, not long after reading it the first time, that they had left a lot out.

There are a couple of series I have been reading for a while that I want to continue making some progress with. It feels like I’ve been reading Michael Grant’s Gone series for ages. I’m up to the fifth book, Fear, so I want to read that this year. I’m also trying to catch up on Cassandra Clare’s books. She’s released so many I’m really far behind! I only have one book left in the Infernal Devices series to read, Clockwork Princess. A book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while is Four by Veronica Roth, a collection of short stories about the character Four from the Divergent series. I bought this book ages ago but as Allegiant was such a disappointment Four has been collecting dust at the back of my bookshelf for a little too long.

display-fc50240451e1a8ad53dfd740b958413fThere are four series I started reading last year that I want to continue. Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray was my favourite book of the year, so I’m excited to read the sequel, Defy the Worlds. Marie Lu’s The Young Elites was also a highlight and I have the sequel, The Rose Society, waiting on my shelf. Last year I read the first two books in Sarah J. Mass’s Throne of Glass series, and I’m totally sucked in, so I need to get my hands on book three, Heir of Fire.

Having finally read A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin last year, I also want to read the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings. It’s pretty massive though so I need to psych myself up for reading it.

As well as all these series I’d also like to discover some new authors and read some standalone novels as I seem to end up reading a lot of series.

What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

Best Books of 2018


, , , , , ,

This year was my first year of reading freedom for quite some time! Having finished my literature degree last year, I was free to read whatever I wanted this year. I ended up being quite in the mood for fantasy and all of my top five books are either science fiction or fantasy. Without further ado, here are the books I enjoyed most in 2018.


1) Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray – While I have read a lot of YA science fiction, this book was something a little different being in the space opera genre rather than dystopia or apocalyptic. I was totally hooked all the way through. This really is a great book, and the best I’ve read all year. The sequel is already on my shelf waiting to be read soon.


2) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Mass – I read the first and second books in the Throne of Glass series this year, and while I loved both, Crown of Midnight was the better of the two for me. Some of the flaws from Throne of Glass weren’t present in the sequel, and some issues I had were addressed. It was an emotional rollercoaster and I’m excited to continue reading the rest of the series.


3) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling – I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series over the last couple of years. It’s been so long since I read them and was quite young so can’t remember much about them. I love the plot of Goblet of Fire and it’s my favourite of the films so I was looking forward to reading the book again.


4) The Young Elites by Marie Lu – This is the first of Marie Lu’s books I’ve read and it’s made me eager to read more of her works. I found Adelina a really interesting protagonist and the storytelling was very good. The dark tone of this book really got my attention.


5) Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – Finally, I read the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire this year. I enjoyed Martin’s style of writing, and although there were a lot of characters to keep track of, I was invested in each of their stories. There are so many strands to the story, I want to keep reading and see how they all tie together.

What books did you read and love this year?

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Didn’t Get to in 2018


, , , , , , ,

There are many books I planned to read this year, but as per usual any ideas I had about what I wanted to read went out the window! I usually read what takes my fancy at the time. T5W is a group hosted on Goodreads, if you’d like to participate check it out here.


1) Ringer by Lauren Oliver – I eagerly got this when it came out in hardback, but ended up not feeling like reading it. I intent to get round to it in 2019 though!

2) Cinder by Marissa Meyer – This has been on my TBR for far too long. Each year I say I’m going to read it and don’t. Not for any particular reason. I think in the last couple of years I have been trying to finish series I had already started, and not start too many new ones until I had finished some.

3) Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – It’s been a while since I last read a Jane Austen, and I had intended to read one this year. Maybe in 2019…

4) A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin – I was really eager to read the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire, but ended up wanting a break from it after reading the first one. As much as I enjoyed the first one, they are really long books! So I decided to read some other books first, and didn’t end up reading A Clash of Kings in 2018.

5) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – I’ve been planning to read this book for a while, but just didn’t end up feeling much in the mood for contemporary books this year.

Top 10 Tuesday: Series I Haven’t Started Yet


, , , , , ,

This week’s topic is a freebie so I’m throwing back to an old topic that I missed. There are so many series I want to read but haven’t started yet.

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but as of January has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.


The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – The first book in this series, Cinder, has been on my TBR list so long its criminal.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I already own the first two books, I just need to finish some other fantasy series before I make a start on this one.

Legend by Marie Lu – Earlier this year I read The Young Elites, the first book in one of Marie Lu’s other series. So I’m looking forward to starting Legend.


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – I really liked that this series is inspired by ancient Rome, as that’s not a setting often explored in YA fantasy.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Having finished the Shadow and Bone trilogy, I can’t wait to dive back into Bardugo’s Grishaverse.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – The description for the first book instantly caught my attention, so I hope it lives up to expectations when I finally read it.

Riddle-Master by Patricia A McKillip – As the author of one of my favourite novels, I’m keen to read more of her works. Many are stand-alone novels, which is quite rare for fantasy, but I have her Riddle-Master trilogy waiting on my shelf.

Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness – Having so much about this series, I decided to buy the whole trilogy when it was on offer, but I still haven’t started reading it yet.


The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White – I don’t own the first book yet, but the description really intrigued me so this is one I want to read at some point.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Mass – This year I read, and loved, the first two books in Mass’s Throne of Glass series. So I’m excited to read her other series too.


Film Review: Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald


, , , , , , , , , ,

HO00005124-lgFilm Review: Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald

Release date: 16th November 2018

Director: David Yates

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Zoë Kravitz

Runtime: 134 minutes

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars


Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the anticipated sequel 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Following the events of the first film, Credence is looking for his birth family in Paris, and Albus Dumbledore sends Newt Scamander to find him. Meanwhile, dark wizard Grindelwald is also seeking Credence.

Having loved the first film in this spin-off series, I couldn’t wait to see The Crimes of Grindelwald. While I absolutely loved the film and was not disappointed, I can’t help but feel it could have been even better.

This film takes places primarily in Paris, and falls short on the high standard set by the setting of New York in the first film. 20s New York really came to life in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but the sequel took surprisingly little advantage of the potential Paris had to be an equally dynamic setting. There were a couple of moments where I got a sense the characters were in France, but for much of it they could have been just about anywhere. Since the first film set such a high standard, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t utilise the Parisian setting more.

There are a lot of plot strands in this film, and I feel like I need to watch it again to completely grasp everything that happened. There are many new characters, a lot of new backstory to get your head around, and some surprising twists that throw up more questions than answers. At times the plot felt a little meandering, without an obvious end goal beyond finding Credence. This film, which we must remember is part of a whole being only the second in the series, seemed to set up a lot for the future films.

Newt is a brilliant character and I love that he’s not your typical hero. Though I still haven’t got a grasp on why Dumbledore chooses him to carry out the task of finding Credence. Is it because Newt met him in New York so is familiar to him? The reason is never explained, and I’m hoping it becomes clearer in the rest of the films, otherwise Newt’s involvement is a little tenuous.

As there were so many characters, many of them suffered from a lack of screen time. There was no sign of affection between Leta and Theseus, who are engaged. Perhaps it was a marriage of convenience, rather than one based on love? I certainly saw no sign that they cared for each other at all, until very near the end of the film. Zoë Kravitz played Leta excellently and Jude Law made for a great young Dumbledore. McGonagoll’s brief appearance was a little confusing, as she shouldn’t even be born yet. But I have faith Rowling wouldn’t make such a big slip up, and have assumed that this is perhaps a relative of the Minerva McGonagoll we know.

While I have said a lot of negative things above, I still loved the film. There were far more nods to the Harry Potter books than the first Fantastic Beasts film, which will satisfy fans of the series. The wizarding world remains as enchanting as ever.