Let’s Talk: Fairies in Fiction

fey covers

When I was ten, I was captivated by the magic of The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. The fey in these stories varied in their appearance and nature, ranging from brownies and goblins to nixies and ogres, but just like in any other book about the fair folk, they were also tricksy, mysterious and of course, dangerous. As I moved into my teenage years, fairy stories soon began to lose their appeal in favour of vampires, angels, and werewolves. However, over the last few years the genre has had an epic resurgence in fantasy and, much like a lot of other people’s, my interest has returned with a similar vengeance. So, recently I started thinking about what it is exactly that’s so appealing about stories dealing with the fey these days, and here’s what I came up with:


One of the best parts of fantasy is magic and it’s something that features pretty much constantly in fey stories. It’s most common purpose is  reinforcing a hierarchy – separating the all-powerful rulers from the ruled or, more commonly, the annoying antagonist character that needs to get their butt kicked from our central characters. Magic in fey stories is also often a court identifier and shows just how rooted a fairy character’s court is in their personality. In Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series, Summer King Keenan isn’t just the ruler of the Summer Court, he literally exudes sunlight and warmth. And we wonder why fey are usually arrogant asses…

bitch im fabulous GIF

Magic’s great at spicing up conflict situations. I mean, reading about Aelin kicking ass in the Throne of Glass books is pretty awesome but assassin abilities plus fey magic? Now you’re talkingFairy magic also acts as a great plot device in regards to coming of age or transformation stories, particularly where it’s somehow bestowed upon someone who used to be human (or at least thought they were) and now has to learn how to use it. Eventually they accept themselves, develop as a person and progress on their path towards bad-assery, as we find with Laurel in Wings and Feyre in A Court of Mist and Fury.

Truth Telling & Two-Sidedness

A fascinating component of fairy lore is the idea that the fey are incapable of lying. Yet, because of this they’re exceptionally good at telling half-truths and using the truth to manipulate situations to their advantage. Just look at the scene introducing the fairy queen in Cassandra Clare’s City of Ashes – one conversation, a little bit of honesty, and suddenly everything’s topsy-turvy in our characters’ relationships.  I love this trope because it forces you and the characters to read between the lines of what’s being said and creates the perfect circumstances for a plot twist or betrayal.

surprise threaten GIF

…Or a reverse betrayal as the case is in Margaret Rogerson’s An Enchantment of Ravens.

This idea feeds into the fairy nature of being two-faced. While the fey are outwardly very beautiful and seem to delight in light-hearted things like games, music, dance and food, underneath it all there’s a compelling darkness and twisted cruelty. This provides such a great opportunity for characters to rise above all of that in order to serve as interesting protagonists. Yet, it also allows for some pretty terrible villains, acting out of a desire for power or simply their own amusement (like the asshole fairies in Black’s The Cruel Prince).

Immortality & Beauty

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s rare to find fairy based stories that don’t involve a romantic component and if there’s romance going on, you can bet that the characters involved will be damn attractive.

sassy beyonce GIF

And fairies are just that. They’re athletic, beautiful (often almost verging on too much so), experienced in the ways of the world, and will likely stay that way forever – that is unless someone decides to physically attack them. Essentially, there’s the attractive elements found in the vampire genre minus the creepy, well, dead issue. Listening to every human character go on and on about how amazing looking fey characters are in comparison to themselves does get a bit old but hey, a reader needs someone swoon worthy once in a while, even if they can be kind of a sucky person on occasion (e.g. Prince Cardan from The Cruel Prince, Dorian from Dark Swan, or Kiaran from The Falconer)

Courts & Conflict

Another very common feature of fey based stories these days is to follow elements of traditional fairy lore by dividing the population up into different courts. This is usually based on seasons, times of day or whether they’re feeling particularly Seelie or not (haha…okay, bad joke. I’ll see myself out.) It’s a structure used in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, Richelle Mead’s Dark Swan books, and Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, just to name a few. And why? Because it’s a perfect driver for conflict. These courts don’t just differ in name, but also in culture, attitudes and temperament. Then again, it doesn’t help that fey kingdoms often resemble modern-era Europe in their desire for power and tendency to prey on the weak. Plus, anyone who lives as long as fairies do is bound to build up some serious grudges over the years. If it were me, I’d start screwing with people just to alleviate the mind numbing boredom of immortality…

Fairy courts also provide opportunities for alliances and political intrigue, and at times even all-out war. The fun part is watching them try to interact with one another with sometimes awful or hilarious results. See A Court of Wings and Ruin for an entertaining example. Essentially, Me:

day thanksgiving GIF

Are you a fan of fey related books? If so, why and what are some of your favourites?

Love Ashley


Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my Autumn TBR

It’s time for another TTT topic, courtesy of Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. As usual, I live in the southern hemisphere so I’ve reversed the topic from Spring reads to Autumn reads. Speaking of which, YES, AUTUMN IS HERE. I mean, it doesn’t exactly feel like it yet but sooooon. I know you’re out there somewhere. I can’t wait to start breaking out my knits.

Here are ten books currently sitting on my TBR that I’m hoping to read soon-ish. Then again, my reading moods are more changeable than the weather so there’s the potential for all or only a few of these to successfully make the cross over to the read pile in the end. *shrugs* What can you do?

1 banner

I really need to get back to this series.  Poor Cress has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. They’re fun reads and I’ve heard from a lot of people that Cress is the best of the four. I wasn’t as into Scarlet as I was Cinder but hopefully this one reignites the momentum.

2 banner

I loved the first three books so much and I’m super excited to get stuck into this one. Only problem is that the sooner I read it, the longer I have to wait for book 5. *cries* Such a dilemma. At least it’s freakin’ massive.

3 banner

I had to wait ages for this one to come out in Aus for some reason. Now book two is out and I’ve heard heaps of rave reviews. The concept sounds great so I’m hoping for a solid read on this one. I mean, the New York Times Bestseller list couldn’t be wrong, could it?

4 banner

A pretty cover, a higher than 4 stars average goodreads rating, magic, a kick-ass heroine, and all the books are already out? Yes, please!

5 banner

I’ve mentioned this one on the blog a few times now and I really want to get around to reading it soon. I almost picked it up last week but decided to go with Warcross by Marie Lu instead. Another book with magic and I’m always up for stories with great female friendships.

6 banner

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this one but I’m in the mood for something a little bit different. Should be a fairly quick read and maybe if I’m lucky I won’t be able to guess the twist too early.

7 banner

This one’s been on the TBR forever and now that the movie is coming out next month, I’m motivated to get it read. It looks like it’ll be an adorable read – historical setting, quirky characters, a bit of romance, plus it’s short so win!

8 banner

Yep, you guys win. I can’t take it anymore. All this Shatter Me/Restore Me chatter in the last few weeks has finally cracked me. I need to see what all the fuss is about. Fingers crossed, I really don’t want to end up a victim of the hype train.

9 banner

Simon was sweet beyond belief.  I need more happy books so I’m hoping Albertalli can strike gold twice. Sometimes you just need something light and fuzzy. Aren’t you guys proud of my YA contemporary growth?

10 banner

Yep, I bought this after coming back from seeing the movie. I’m not even going to deny it I don’t read a lot of espionage but like I said earlier, I’m after something a bit different from my normal reads. I quite enjoyed the movie so I’m expecting the book to be even better with the extra room to expand on things.


What’s on your Spring/Autumn reading list? Anything you’re really excited about?

Have you read any of these ones? What did you think?

Love Ashley

‘Epic’ Doesn’t Begin to Cover it: The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown


This series. THIS SERIES, GUYS.

Just wow.

I feel like I’ve been on the most action packed, heart-breaking, riveting journey ever and the only thing helping me cope with the fact that it’s over is well, the fact that it’s not – because Brown just published the first book in a new trilogy set ten years after the events of this series.

This is another one I put off reading for years (I really need to stop doing that) and once again, I realise I’m a complete dolt because it’s AMAZING. Where do I even start? This is the point where you all quote The Sound of Music at me and say, at the very beginning. Prepare yourselves though. I’m terrible at concise writing when reviewing just one book and this is three. So don’t say I didn’t warn you…


4.5 stars

Our story is set in a future in which humanity has spread out across the solar system. Society is organised into a very strict class system broken down by colour. Each colour has its own visual characteristics, strengths, and roles in society. At the top of the pyramid are the Golds, the ruling elite who spend their lives lazing about in luxury, politically scheming, and playing at war with one another.  At the very bottom we have the reds, labourers who mine under the false belief that they are making planets habitable for colonisation, unaware that such an end was achieved long ago. Why, hello there dystopia….

Image result for sucks gif

Enter Darrow, our overachieving protagonist. Well, not yet. At this point he’s just a sixteen year old, Mars born drill operator, trying to score some extra food for his family and very much in love with his wife, Eo. Is he willing to try and look beyond the awful little bubble he currently lives in? Nope. That is, until Eo is executed by Golds following a small act of rebellion, her final words a call to arms for low colours to rise up against their oppressors. Still with me? Good. Cause it’s about to get interesting.

From here Darrow is introduced to the Sons of Ares, a rebel alliance determined to remake society. Problem is, the only way to do it is to get a man on the inside, and not just the inside but close to the top. Remade Gold in mind and body, Darrow is accepted into an elite academy. Here, students are sorted into twelve houses and placed inside an enormous arena in a yearlong battle of wits, strategy, and violence to determine which house, and individuals, will rise above the rest. It’s a little bit Hunger Games, a teensy bit Divergent, a splash of Game of Thrones, and a whole lot of awesome.

Survival of the Fittest (And Most Devious)

For the first fifty or so pages of the book,  I’ll be honest, I was bored out of my little brain. I sat there questioning myself, as you do when reading a hyped book, going: is there something wrong with me? Then, thank god, they ripped Darrow’s body apart and built him up again. Yes, I know how bad that sounds but this is the point where the story kicks into gear and I latched on like a twelve year old whose just come face to face with Harry Styles. By the time we’d entered the arena, I couldn’t put the book down.

Ah, the arena. This is where the magic happens. If by magic you mean scheming, murder, rape, cannibalism and backstabbing. In order to win the game, you have to be the last house standing. To do so, all other houses must be knocked out by either wounding their members so badly they need to be evacuated or marking them with a house standard so that they become slaves. How they go about doing this is the fun part of the book as each house has their own resources and leaders with different approaches to winning. What makes things even more interesting is that within specific houses, especially Darrow’s, there are certain individuals who are willing to cut down members of their own team for more power and a chance to shine in front of the Gold higher ups (they’re watching the game on video screens to decide who to give apprenticeships to). This is the sort of book where you never know exactly how things are going to play out or if you do, when.

Memorable Characters

This is a book with quite a large roster of characters and it only continues to grow over the series. As a protagonist, Darrow is emotionally complex but here’s the problem. With each success, he’s the kind of person who grows increasingly more arrogant and annoying. Why? Because he seems to be good at pretty much everything that matters. Intelligent, brave, a quick learner, able to inspire loyalty – he’s essentially the perfect leader. This isn’t just an issue with RR and runs throughout the trilogy. HOWEVER Brown has a very effective method of compensating for this flaw in his MC: He hits Darrow over the head with the plot whenever he starts to get just a bit TOO cocky.

Related image

Think you’re on top of the world? Oh ho! Here, Darrow, have a life threatening wound to the gut, or how about betrayal by a close friend? In his defeat, we, the reader then remember why we liked him just in time for the cycle to repeat itself.

Aside from Darrow, RR is populated by a number of other strong, memorable and complex characters. To name just a few, you’ve got:

  • Mustang, Darrow’s love interest, and a bad-ass fighter and strategist if ever there was one.
  • Sevro, the foulmouthed lone wolf who finds somewhere to belong for the first time in his life
  • The Jackal, the frightening leader of House Pluto whose bloody reputation precedes him in a big way.
  • And Cassius, bound by rigid ideas of honour and whose entire story line can be summed up as:

**Except replace father with brother.

Overall, 4.5 stars with half a star deducted for a boring beginning.


5 stars

The problems I had starting book one, gone. What is this middle book syndrome people speak of? Because there ain’t none of that crap here. Book two was a fantastic ride from start to finish and my first five star read for 2018.

It’s been two years since the events of RR and Darrow is finishing up his final year at the Academy, but the real work is just beginning. Fissures have begun to erupt within the Sons of Ares and when Darrow’s position amongst the golds begins to crumble, he is forced to seek out new allies. This soon evolves into a war amongst the Golds not only for control of Mars but leadership of The Society as a whole. After all, what better way to destroy your oppressors than to have them do it themselves?

The Action Never Stops

This is one for the action fans, it’s the race car of sci-fi books. Zero to one-hundred and foot on the pedal the rest of the way. You’d think it’d get exhausting after a while but somehow it doesn’t! There’s always something happening – whether it be an epic space battle, some sword play (well, ‘razors’ are the weapons of choice in this series), or even just a highly charged discussion. Strap yourselves in folks, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Image result for roller coaster gif

More Fantastic Characters

The characters in RR are great but GS is where some familiar faces such as Mustang and Sevro really shine. GS also introduces several other wonderful new favourites including blunt and ruthless, Victra and the loyal but deadly giant, Ragnar. Brown manages to maintain a healthy attachment in his readers to each of the major characters, (even some of the more minor ones) but what’s even better is the great relationships between the characters themselves. These create some wonderful moments between certain parings and the occasional section of amusing group dialogue in the middle of some messy situations. After all, we all want someone to root for, don’t we?

Plot Twists & a Cliff Hanger

You know those annoying books that manage to hit you with a plot twist right at the end that leaves you screaming because (a) the characters are in the most completely terrible position imaginable and (b) you need to read the next one to find out what the hell happens? Yeah, this is one of those.

Screw you, Pierce Brown.

Image result for bad things happen to good people gif

A huge death, a betrayal by a major character, a reveal…I want to hate you, Brown-ey I really do, but the storytelling here is just so good, and completely altered the direction of the series going into book three, that I can’t. I freaking can’t because I love you so much.

Five stars. Easy.


5 stars

The end of the road, except, not really. You have no idea how worried I was going into this book about being disappointed by the conclusion, but I needn’t have been because MS ended up being my favourite book of the Red Rising trilogy.

At long last the war we’ve always known was coming is here and Darrow has to use all of his resources and allies to bring the Golds down once and for all.

Emotional Murder

Man, this is a book that knows where to hit you and hard. There are moments of triumph, pangs of the heart, and scenes of just downright despair. MS starts off in a pretty dark place after the end of GS and it’s soul crushing, to put it mildly. From there we have to make it through tests of our favourite bromance (Sevrrow), the death of ANOTHER major character (*shakes fist* Damn you, Brown!!!), PTSD and massive amounts of destruction.

Related image

Yet, there’s also the redemption of one character, a wedding, some wonderful moments of friendship, and an epilogue so lovely it’ll make your heart do a Grinch and grow three sizes (even though it’s too bloody short).

World Building

The world building throughout the RR series has been phenomenal but I have to say, that you don’t realise the full extent of it until this book. Brown has done an absolutely fantastic job creating the world (er, universe?) of these books – the people, history, technology, environments, language, everything really. The scale is mind boggling and will take multiple re-reads to pick up on all of the details. You just want to see more and more of it. There’s so much material just waiting to be unearthed from this universe and I will gladly return to it.


Last, but not least. One thing I really love about this series is Brown’s unwillingness to shy away from the fact that none of the characters in these books are heroes. Darrow in particular constantly acknowledges that he has had to do some pretty terrible things to achieve what he sees as the greater good and that he’s likely damaged his soul in the process, but it’s a necessary sacrifice he has to make to fulfil the role he’s been given.

More importantly, the characters in MS don’t claim to know where society can go from here or that it’ll be some fantastic new world order. They just know that it has to be better than this. The series ends on a note of hope  but it doesn’t ignore the truth that a better world is still a long way off. Progress requires time and work, and there’s always the risk that after everything that’s happened, they won’t succeed, but they’re going to do their damndest to get there.

Five big stars and a big hug for giving me a new series to add to my list of favourites. I will be shoving these ones down the throat of everyone who will listen. Be prepared.

Now, where is my copy of Iron Gold…I’m coming for you.




The Aesthetically Pleasing Book Tag

It’s time for another fun book tag. I can thank Kelly @ Another Book in the Wall for this one. I stumbled across her post and knew I had to try it out because who doesn’t love looking at pretty books?


Best Colour Combo On a Book Cover


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater is my pick for this one. I really love the use of blue and orange here. They’re complementary colours on the colour wheel so they create a striking contrast when used together that really makes the cover stand out.

Best Typography/Font On a Book Cover

Image result for shadow and bone cover

I quite like the typography on the cover of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It gives the appearance of the words appearing out of smoke as they wind their way around the tree branches, adding to the mysterious look of the cover.

Best Simple Cover

Related image

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden. I actually have this book on kindle but I’m really tempted to buy a physical copy.  It’s such a simple cover, a pair of painted red lips and some pale skin, and yet it’s still so eye catching. I also like that it complements the novel itself, showcasing a taste of the traditional geisha make up style.

Best End Pages

I don’t own many hardbacks as they’re really expensive to buy in Australian book stores, but at the end of last year I purchased the gorgeous special edition of A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. It broke my rule of not having more than one copy of the same book but it was so worth it. I mean, the end pages alone are amazing.

Best Map

Related image

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been going with Middle Earth for this one. It’s a fantastic map but for something different, I’m going to use one of my fave series, good, old Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (any excuse, right?).

Best Naked Hardback

Sorry guys, I don’t actually have an answer for this one. Like I said, I don’t own many hardbacks and the ones I actually do own are unfortunately very plain beneath their jackets.

Best Back Cover


So, this seems to be another one targeted at hardbacks because just sayin’, paperback backs are pretty damn boring. It’s usually a solid colour and a blurb. From my very limited range of HBs to pick from,  I’ve ended up with Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco because of it’s cool surgical instruments and another Maggie Stiefvater book, Shiver because of the pretty tree branches and leaves.

Best Chapter Headers

The Cruel Prince headers

I recently finished The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and I loved the sweet chapter headers with their flowers, toadstools and bees.

Best Illustrations

Image result for harry potter illustrated edition

As if I could pick anything else but my Harry Potter illustrated editions. The art in these books is amazing. I could spend forever just flipping through and staring at the beauty of Jim Kay’s illustrations.

Best Spine

Image result for mortal instruments spines

This is probably cheating because it’s a whole series rather than one book but eh, too bad. I adore the new covers for Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series because the spines make up a cool picture of the main characters facing a bridge, preparing for battle.

Favourite Cover on Shelves


You have no idea how hard this one was, there are so many wonderful covers on my shelves, but eventually I had to resign myself to the fact that I completely fell in love with this one the moment I saw it. The stunning blue colour, shining golden text, and the ornate styled moth, it’s gorgeous and I find it difficult to draw my eyes away every time I look at it.


And…we’re done!  I’m not so big on tagging individual people but if you’d like to do this one, please go for it.

Obsidio Book Launch: Q&A with Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


On Wednesday night I was lucky enough to attend the Sydney launch of Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman’s new book Obsidio, the final novel in the bestselling Illuminae Files series. Guys, I love this series. I really do. So even though I had to ask to leave work early, basically run half way across the city, and turned up looking like I was the melting wicked witch of the west, it was So. Damn. Worth. It.

I know that a lot of people don’t get to attend these kinds of events, hell, I barely got to attend the event, so I thought I’d transcribe the main part of the Q&A for you guys. I’ve edited some of it for clarity – spoken phrases can sound a bit weird written down sometimes and vice versa. This Q&A was structured by Caz from the booktube channel, Little Book Owl.


Caz: For those of us who aren’t familiar with Illuminae, would you mind giving us a brief rundown?

AK: It’s only 1800 pages long. *laughs* Look, we like to describe Illuminae as Battlestar Galatica meets 10 Things I Hate about you. It’s about a couple who’s just broken up and thinks they’re having a really bad day, and then that’s put into perspective when their planet gets carpet bombed and they end up on a refugee spaceship fleet.

Book two we like to describe as…it’s like Die Hard meets Alien. And again, it features a couple of teens in space who think they’re having a bad day until their entire space station is invaded by a gang of bloodthirsty mercenaries and they are all that stands between the mercenaries and not only their destruction but destruction of the multiverse. No pressure.

Caz: I do not envy those characters.

AK: I mean, this isn’t a story about the best days of their lives, I’ll be honest.

JK: They’re certainly memorable, if not enjoyable.

Caz: What is your co-writing process from conception of the ideas to who writes what, etc. How do you go about writing these books?

JK: We plot about 100 pages in advance. We found out that if we plot any further than that we tend to think of cooler stuff as we’re writing and it tends to be time wasted so Amy and I will get together, usually at a pub-

AK: …Always

JK: Always at a pub. Amy doesn’t drink.

AK: No. I eat fries. *laughs* He drinks.

JK: Watches me drink and about…drink five is when the magic starts. There was a moment when we’d got together, kicking around ideas for Gemina. We had the setting and knew who the main characters were but we didn’t have what the twist was going to be. I was heading home on the tram and I texted Amy: This could be the Jack Daniels talking, but what do you think about multiverse?

AK: In fact, the exact text was: Am I drunk or genius? And I texted back: Both. Definitely both.

JK: So we write 100 pages in advance and then we break those pages down into characters, who is going to be the POV and we break up writing scenes according to characters. Amy will write Kady, and I’ll write Ezra and so forth.  Then we go away and write our individual bits, send them to one another via e-mail. You guys know the story of the shoe-maker and the elves? The shoemaker puts out leather the night before and wakes up the next morning and there are shoes there. It’s kind of like that. You’d send your bit, forget about it for a couple of days, open up your e-mail, and there’s more book there.

AK: It’s magical. We’re talking every day, we’re on g-chat every day, we’re texting everyday, you know, popping ideas back and forth, checking stuff, and debating what format we should use for each individual section. We were going to do this this way but I’m only half way through what this person was going to do and it’s already three times the size it was supposed to be so we might break this into two bits…Just sort of constantly massaging things.


Caz: You’ve mentioned in the past that you’re kind of the master of spreadsheets…

JK: It’s all Amy.

AK: Hi *waves*

JK: Mistress of spreadsheets.

N: So what kind of things do you include in these spreadsheets? I know you’ve mentioned to the minute timelines of everything.

AK: Yeah, so there’s only two things that go in my many, many spreadsheets and that’s timelines and death.

*Everyone laughs*

AK: No, you guys, this is a real tip. If you’re gonna write a book and kill a lot of people, keep count from the start. Anyone who’s read the Illuminae books knows that there’s a lot of technical detail in there so they won’t say a lot of people have died, they’ll say 27% of our people are dead and there’s another 32% casualties. You can’t just throw those numbers around because the people will do the maths-

JK: Some jerk on the internet is going to do the math.

AK: If only it was just one jerk. They will e-mail you and tell you what you get wrong. So you have to have absolutely everything laid out in spreadsheets.

JK: And the only person worse at math than Amy-

* Both point to Jay*

AK: Yeah, is that guy there. For real, not our strong suit. So we have a spreadsheet. For Illuminae, for instance, it shows everyone in the story and after each major event where everyone is. So you’ve got this many people on Kerenza, then this many people go to the Copernicus, the Hypatia, and the Alexander, and then the Copernicus gets blown up, so we have this many people dead and from there you go to… We talked about the idea that some people got forcibly conscripted so we’ll move this many people across to the Alexander and you know, write down a baby got born. Add one. It was the only time we’ve ever added.

JK: There was actually a moment where we did the math in Illuminae when Kady had come across to the ship, there’s like a blip in the stats which a couple of people called us out on the internet. The internet’s that kind of place.

AK: Ah, internet.

JK: And they were telling us that the math was wrong. The percentage of infected people had gone up when it should have gone down or something.

AK: Nah, other way round.

JK: Other way round. It should have gone down.

AK: Cause it was rising. Saying this percentage is infected, then this many infected, and this many infected and then it suddenly went down. And they went, well, people didn’t get unafflicted, did they?

JK: Well they sort of did because…they killed each other.

AK: And I was like, in your face! The math’s right. So many afflicted are dead, Kady represents a larger overall percentage of the population and as the sole unafflicted person, she is now a higher percentage.

JK: And if you don’t believe us, we have the spreadsheet.

AK: Yeah, I have the spreadsheet to prove it! Which is really handy, because when you get to Obsidio and a character says, tell me what you’ve been doing so far, someone else can casually say, we had this many people here and that many people did that. You can’t just go back to Illuminae, you have to have written it down as you went. I’m not a great details person but thank you past Amy. Good job.

Caz: In Obsidio, I spotted a mention of Where the Wild Things Are (To Jay), which is one of your favourite books-

JK: It’s my favourite book of all time.

Caz: Did you sneak in any other references like this, or what other things did you draw upon?

AK: Did we ever. *Laughs* So in Gemina, there’s a line that sounds a lot like a line from Hamilton, and a lot of people said, is that a Hamilton reference? The answer was no, because Hamilton had not yet been publically released when we wrote that book. But when you find the Hamilton references in Obsidio, however, those are all deliberate. He’s never listened to the Hamilton soundtrack so he doesn’t know where they are, and I haven’t told him. He still has no idea.

JK: I mean, we’ve got a Rocky Horror Picture Show quote in Gemina, the line is broken, something about-

Together: Antici…pation.

JK: That’s Frankenfurter from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

AK: We have Seven of Nine from Star Trek, Princess Bride…

JK: Princess Bride, yeah, ‘As you Wish’, which is kind of a running gag.

AK: We have, a leaf on the wind.

JK: Yeah, a Firefly reference, a whole bunch of bands I listen to… Like, one of the lines we use in Obsidio is on the cover, ‘Live a life worth dying for’. That’s from an incredible song called ‘Momento’ by a band I love called Architects. There’s a Sound Garden reference in there…

AK: We could go on and on…

JK: And unless you’re us, and even if you are, you’d have to be both of us to get them all…You may not know it to look at her, but Amy’s not a fan of Suicide Silence, so she doesn’t get my Suicide Silence references.

AK: Heavy metal…not my thing. Which is really hard cause when we go on tour in the US, we often ask if we can get a car because fitting this *gestures to Jay* on an aeroplane is just not anyone’s idea of a good time. So we ask if we can get a car, and the problem is that he drives and the driver picks the tunes.

JK: That’s not a problem. That’s an education.

AK: I spent a lot of time listening to metal music, imagining my happy place.

JK: She made me listen to Taylor Swift the brief moment she got behind the wheel.

AK: Yeah, it was the best!

JK: She’s like: Yep, you know what, I’ll drive to Texas. It’s 12 hours, but I’ll drive to Texas.

AK: Well if you insist. I have other songs than Shake it off, maybe as many as three or four.

JK: They played it like four times. Repeatedly.

AK: He was in the backseat and couldn’t get to the controls. His screaming and thrashing was entertaining to us so we just kept hitting repeat.

JK: It’s an abuse of power.

*Everyone laughs*

Caz: Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration for the concept?

JK: I mean Obsidio’s the new book, so we’ve got to talk about it…

AK: Do we? *smiles*

JK: It’s also probably the one I’m most proud of in terms of the theme we’re exploring. In Illuminae you’ve got the phobos virus that sends people crazy, you’ve got these rage virus zombies running round the ship. So there’s a struggle within the ship as authority figures and people who are trying to do what they think is best clash, but there’s also this external threat of the crazy people. In Gemina there was the same thing, a mercenary band who came on board and there was also the lanima, those creepy, alien, snake things. No spoilers if you haven’t read it.

AK: You know my favourite thing that’s happened this week is Jessica Spotswood – she’s an author and if you haven’t read her stuff, you should – was instastorying as she was reading Gemina to get ready for Obsidio and she sent this picture that was just a big blanket and then her eyes and the book. She was like, I’m reading under a blanket because I’m so afraid of the lanima. I was like, they can find you there Jess. *everyone laughs*

JK: I don’t think that blanket’s going to be enough, but anyway. In the third book there’s no big external threat, no aliens, no rage virus, it’s just people against other people. And people with diametrically opposed viewpoints, people whose mind you’re never going to change. So that to me is the scariest opponent, someone you just cannot convince of the righteousness of your cause. Like if you’re an occupying soldier. From the POV of the soldier, you’re doing your job, you’re defending your country, corporation or whatever.

AK: And this planet you’ve come to is full of criminals. It’s an illegal settlement, let’s be real. These aren’t innocents. Everyone who went there was breaking the law when they went there.

JK: And they chose to do it. But from the POV of someone whose planet you’ve invaded you’re an invader, you’re a conqueror, you’re the enemy. There’s no way those two sides are ever going to see eye to eye.

AK: Everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing and in some cases everyone’s doing the wrong thing. It sounds a little bit like the world we’re living in at the moment, that everyone thinks they’re doing the right thing and imagines the other side of whatever argument they’re in to be simply, completely wrong, I mean, to pull a John Green quote, to imagine the other more complexly, because there’s always more to the other side of the argument. Even if it’s wrong, there’s always a reason that the person has come to that belief…There’s never been a better time to try and have those conversations constructively.

JK: There’s no villain in Obsidio. No moustache twirling bad guy that gets killed in the final boss fight. There’s just people. Everyone is a person who thinks they’re doing the right thing and is seen as a villain by the people around them.

AK: Also a cat, there’s a cat as well. People, cat, and one very strange computer.

Caz: So the format of the series is mixed media. Were there any formats you wish you could have included but didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?

JK: There were some pie charts. I remember we did it early on. It was actually a pretty funny gag. Well, it wasn’t my gag, it was Amy’s gag so I can say it was funny. Initially we were talking about doing pie graphs about…it was the percentage of communication Ezra had sent to Kady vs she had sent to him pre-breakup. And it was like, 99% was Ezra and 1% was Kady…but yeah, that gag didn’t make it in. We didn’t have time. We wanted to kick off with more of a bang and start with the invasion so the pie graph gag never made it in.

AK: Ah, I’d forgotten about that! That was fun, wasn’t it? But sometimes you have to give away bits that are really good and funny that you love but don’t fit.

JK: But no, as far as anything else we wanted to do, our publishing house back in America and here in Australia have been amazing.

AK: Enablers, frankly.

JK: There was an incident early on. Cause we sold the book unfinished, we only wrote the first hundred and thirty pages, we thought it’d be too weird for anyone to buy so we didn’t want to write 600 pages of something that was never going to see the light of day. When the book actually got sold and we were finishing off the writing process, we sent an e-mail to our editor saying, we’re thinking maybe we could put in a schematic of the Alexander, the big battle ship in the book, do you think we could do that?

AK: We thought we were being so cheeky.

JK: Cause you need like a spaceship designer. She wrote back to us saying, there’s three ships in this story, shouldn’t there be three schematics? We were like oh, so it’s gonna be like that.

AK: Yep, so if you ever wondered what the moment was that we were completely let off the leash, became very hard to control and started saying things like, what if we had a number 1 New York Times Bestseller as our illustrator, it all goes back to that one moment where we were like, ohhhhh.

JK: Given a blank cheque.

Caz: This is the end of the Illuminae files but not the last collaboration we’re going to see from you. What can you tell us about the next series?

AK: I can tell you book one’s written.


JK: The series formally known as ‘Andromeda’. It’s not called that anymore.

AK: Cause science.

JK: It was originally going to be set in the Andromeda galaxy and then we had a talk with Brian Cox. A mind blowing talk, and he went about explaining the vastness of the galaxy we live in, the Milky Way. The distances will break your brain if you think about it, so putting it in another galaxy seemed a bridge too far for us. So we’ve set it in the Milky Way. Andromeda doesn’t work anymore, so the name has been scrapped and we can’t tell you what the new one is because…of reasons.

AK: You’ll find out.

JK: The new book, we’re pitching it as The Breakfast Club goes to Starfleet academy. Room for losers and misfits, and reprobates, who are at a kind of Starfleet-eque type academy, thrown into the deep end and have to save the universe.

AK: Yeah, so we were kind of tag lining it, they’re not the heroes we deserve, they’re just the only one we could get.

JK:  They happened to be in the room at the time.

AK: That’s taking up most of our time at the moment. We’re editing that as of yesterday…And as I said before, my very first solo baby came out yesterday. I’m really excited and a little bit terrified because I’ve never had anything I didn’t do with a friend before, so that’s here. It’s called Ice Wolves. It’s got wolves, and dragons and shapeshifters and magic and lots of stuff I like. And it’s not in space. We go very high up a mountain but we don’t go into space. You also have a novel coming soon Mr Kristoff?

JK: Yeah, I have a new book coming out in May. It’s called Lifel1k3. I think I’m coming up here for a launch so it’d be great to see you all again…It’s been pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max: Fury Road with a little bit of Blade Runner on the side. But I’m talking all the good Blade Runner, not the bad Blade Runner.

AK: I read it in six hours without putting it down, not speaking to anyone around me.  I actually ended up buying airport lounge passes to get people with me into the airport lounge and being like, look there, free food, go away.

JK: Be honest, it was your mum.

AK: It was my mum *laughs* I was trying to make myself sound slightly cooler…At least I took her to the lounge before I stopped talking to her. I mean, she raised me to be a reader so you reap what you sew.


There was a questions from the audience section after this but to be frank, I just cannot muster the effort required to transcribe it.

Obsidio releases this coming week and Amie & Jay will be continuing their book tour into the US now that they’ve finished in Australia. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend going to see them. They bounce off one another so well and are pretty hilarious, just like their writing. Plus, signed copies of however many of their books you can carry to the signing. Win!

Happy reading!

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files 3#) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff | Goodreads | Amazon

Ice Wolves (Elementals 1#) – Amie Kaufman | Goodreads | Amazon

Lifel1k3 – Jay Kristoff | Goodreads | Amazon

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

King of the Nerds: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4 stars

Image result for ready player one cover

It’s cool to be an obsessive, geeky fanboy. Or girl.

Are you a lover of video games?

Interested in fantasy and science fiction?

Ever wish you’d been a kid in the 80s?

If you said yes to any of the above questions, then Ready Player One is the book for you.

It’s 2045, and just like with every other dystopian novel, the world has gone to, for lack of a better description, complete shit. Pollution’s high, people live in massive stacks of shoebox like units with a tendency to collapse, there’s been a slight energy crisis, everything’s ridiculously expensive, and life just generally sucks.

Luckily enough, there also happens to exist the king of all massively multiplayer online games, The Oasis. In order to get away from the awfulness of the existing world, people pop on their headsets and immerse themselves in this wonderland of pop culture and adventure.

Our story begins when the creator of The Oasis, James Halliday, suddenly dies, leaving instructions stating that whoever is able to successfully crack his clues, solve a series of puzzles, and locate three keys hidden within The Oasis itself, will find his “egg”. Whoever finds the egg will both inherit his entire (and epically massive) fortune and gain full control of The Oasis. But in order to succeed, you’ve got to know pretty much everything about all of his favourite things from the 80s.

*dramatic drum roll* Dum. Dum. DUMMMMM!!

Enter…this guy:

Image result for gif ready player one

Wade Watts – an overweight  (less so in the film), socially-awkward teenager who’s devoted years of his life to studying everything included in Halliday’s manifesto of 80s pop culture (and people say I’m a nerd) in the hopes that somehow, someday, he’ll find the first key.

Spoiler alert, except not really, he does.

This starts off an epic race between regular Joe fans searching for the keys and the enormous corporation, IOI, which wants to turn The Oasis into an exclusive, money-making machine of EVIL!

evil on fire GIF

Why You Should Read this Book:

Pop Culture Galore

Cline is a fanboy, pure and simple, and he litters his book with references to everything you can possibly imagine. As someone who’s grown up playing video games, enjoying fantasy and sci-fi, and watching older movies, this book can be some serious fun. I have never felt so superior in my nerdom as I did reading this. It’s like, YES, SEE? This information wasn’t all for nothing after all! I have found my people!

Full Steam Ahead Plot

Cline definitely has a good grasp on pacing. The story is constantly moving and I was riveted, waiting to see where the next clue would lead and what challenge Wade and the other top 5 players would have to face next. Better yet, it’s not just inside The Oasis that the drama is unfolding, as IOI starts to try and thin out the competition in real life.

Will Wade and friends all make it out alive? WE JUST DON’T KNOW!

Panic Omg GIF

The stakes are high and the novel’s action continues to gradually ramp up over the course of the story (except for a small section three quarters of the way in where things are a bit calmer) to an exciting climax that certainly didn’t leave me unsatisfied.


The characters in RPO were one of my favourite parts of the book. They’re diverse, well developed, relatable, and likeable, likely because Cline based them off people he’d actually met in the gaming community.

A lot of people have criticised Wade as being a bit of a Gary Stu but when you put into perspective the fact that he’s had nothing but time to sit around and learn about all of this stuff for years on end (living the dream, basically), he makes quite a bit of sense.  Also important is the fact that Wade does have his limitations and very much requires the help of the other competitors to progress forward in the hunt, just as they need his help in return.

Other star characters include Wade’s friend, Aech (‘H’), a character whose full potential isn’t realised until the last third of the novel and who had a twist I was totally here for, and blogger/kick-ass egg hunter, Art3mis –  because that’s right boys, girls can be amazing gamers too.

Image result for girl gamer gif

Why this may not be for you:

Details, Details, Details

Okay, there’s two kinds of detail here and both have the potential to piss people off to DNF proportions.

Pop Culture Overload

Yes, I realise I just mentioned these references as a positive but the problem is that there’s TOO many of them. As in, somehow manages to fit about five different ones into one paragraph. It’s overload. Now, you don’t have to understand all of them to enjoy the book but I feel as though RPO would be extremely boring if you didn’t recognise at least some. Have I ever played Everquest or watched Ladyhawke? No, but Wade flying around in a Star Wars X-wing, mentions of an Oasis replica of the Firefly universe, and an extended sequence spent wandering through Zork’s White House? Now, that’s undeniably cool. However, after a while, the novelty does wear off a little. It verges into wanky territory at some points and becomes just difficult not to get bogged down in at others.

Technical Detail

Now this is where Cline lost me. I just have to say it, I really don’t give a crap about the inner workings of computer or gaming systems. I especially don’t give a crap about the inner workings of computer or gaming systems from the EIGHTIES. If you’re like me, be warned, there are several sections in which Wade discusses this kind of thing at length and this is essentially what I looked like:

Image result for bored gif

In other words, prepare thy eyes for skimming.

The Bad Guys

By now I think we’re all accustomed to the trope of the mega-corporation willing to do anything to achieve their ends, aka money. This story is no different. IOI wants to fully commercialise The Oasis and they’ll kill, kidnap and do God knows what else to get there. To be blunt about it, as a villain they’re cliché, boring and one-dimensional, and I’m still slightly confused about the full extent of what they were hoping to realise beyond the whole revenue thing.

mr krabs money GIF

This was an enjoyable read for me overall. The book definitely had some issues in terms of its writing on occasion but because of how quickly I gobbled it up, I feel like giving it anything less than four stars would be kind of a disservice. So four stars it is.


Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Quotes

Look at me, actually doing the set topic on the week it’s scheduled. Shock. Horror! Let’s get the usual out of the way: TTT is a weekly meme that was created by the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish but it’s now run by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

I don’t usually keep a record of quotes I like from books so I had to do a bit of searching for this topic and the books I’ve read recently definitely were fresher in my memory. At first I couldn’t decide whether to go with quotes I love in general, meaning the list could  potentially include ones that crack me up because they’re so hilarious, or whether it should just be ones that are meaningful to me or beautifully written. I’ve decided to go with the latter. So here are a couple of bookish quotes that I quite like and I hope you do too.


“I am haunted by humans.” – Death

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak



“I place my hands over her ears and tip her head back, and kiss her, and try to put my heart into hers, for safekeeping, in case I lose it again.” – Henry deTamble

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger



“He came. He left. Nothing else had changed. I had not changed. The world hadn’t changed. Yet nothing would be the same. All that remains is dreammaking and strange remembrance”. – Elio

Call me by your Name – Andre Aciman



“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.” – Simon Spier

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli



“The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”

Nevernight – Jay Kristoff



“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling



“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

It – Stephen King



“..what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.” – Katniss Everdeen

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins



“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.” – Julia Romana

My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult



“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon . . . is not the dragon the hero of his own story?” – Alexander H.

The Night Circus – Erin MorgensternDivider

What are some of your favourites?

Love Ashley