Top 5 Tuesday: Favourite Characters O-Z

It’s time to finish what I started! Last week for Top 5 Tuesday, I began my character countdown through the alphabet up to the letter N. This week we’re running through the remaining (and more challenging) letters of O-Z. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. It also explains why my ‘top 5’ is not even close to being a top 5 numbers wise (spoiler alert – I’m always late to the party and somewhat disorganised).

FYI, Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shannah at Bionic Book Worm and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads. If you’d like to participate next week, you can find the October topics here.

O is for Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games Series)

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Finnick, Finnick, Finnick, you charming bastard. I’ll be forever mad at Suzanne Collins for what happened to you. Reasons Finnick is on this list: He 1) wields a trident like it’s nobody’s business, 2) adores his girlfriend/wife Annie, 3) has sugar cubes on hand for awkward meetings, 4) hasn’t let his treatment by the Capital and President Snow kill his sense of humour, 5) will happily walk around in his underwear, and 6) would die for those he loves.


P is for Patroclus (The Song of Achilles)

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Patroclus is one of those quiet characters that, despite the story being told from his perspective, is easy to dismiss as a side kick at first. But as the story unfolds you come to recognise his bravery, compassion, and awareness of his own strengths & weaknesses. Honestly, he has the purest heart and is basically my sweet, little, ancient Greek cinnamon roll.


Q is for Quan Diep (The Kiss Quotient Series)

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Quan is pretty much a favourite of everyone who reads The Kiss Quotient books. He’s a side character but a super memorable one. While he seems like this bad boy player complete with tats and a shaved head, he’s actually a massive sweetheart. Quan is super supportive of his autistic brother, Khai, very conscious of other people’s body language and feelings, and even offers to marry Esme, the female lead in The Bride Test, to allow her to stay in the United States. He also makes me laugh. I’m so keen to read his love story, The Heart Principle, in 2021.


R is for Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy Series)

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It’s an extremely rare occurrence for me to be able to say that my fave character in a series is the main protagonist. Rose is one of those special cases and I love her dearly. She’s immensely passionate, a caring and dedicated friend, a hell of a fighter, wonderfully snarky, and so enjoyable to read from the POV of. She grows so much over the series and no matter how many times I read VA, there’s nothing like being back inside her head.


S is for Spensa Nightshade (Skyward Series)

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Ah, Spensa. On my first read of Skyward, Spensa definitely took some getting used to. Overconfident, a flair for the dramatic, and a massive chip on her shoulder, as far as characters go she’s…a lot. Over time though I came to love her for her unwavering determination to achieve her dreams in the face of a lot of hardship and obstacles. She’s also funny, very hardworking, and unwilling to leave a teammate behind. What can I say? I’m a sucker for an underdog.

…and also for Sadie (Sadie)

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Sadie is another one of those characters that has been through so much awfulness that I want to wrap her up in a blanket, hold her and tell her everything will get better. But I can’t. She’s such a broken and vulnerable character with so much darkness and pain her life. At the same time, she has this amazing determination, strength and courage in the face of doing something so destructive and dangerous. While I didn’t always agree with her choices, Sadie was definitely a fighter and I rooted for her all the way to the very end.


T is for Carswell Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles)

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Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you about my weakness for attractive male characters with slight bad boy streaks and a sarcastic sense of humour who are actually good guys. Because here we have another one. Thorne is probably my favourite character in TLC books. He’s a massive flirt with a decent sized ego and I get so much enjoyment out of reading about his interactions with other characters, especially innocent & sweet Cress.


U is for… I am Useless at Finding a Character starting with ‘U’


V is for Virginia “Mustang” Au Augustus (Red Rising Saga)

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There are a lot of amazing and loveable characters in the Red Rising saga but I’ll always have a soft spot for women who can kick serious butt with both their bodies and minds. Virginia is a person that others underestimate at their own peril. She’s cautious, cunning, well spoken, and highly intelligent. However, she also loves fiercely, is loyal and empathetic, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. The perfect balance to our lead, Darrow.


X is for…Xylophone

I’m kidding. Sorry guys, I tried. I really did, but I came up empty.


W is for Willem Ragnarsson (A Little Life)

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This book permanently damaged my heart and soul. It’s full of so much sadness but Willem, for the most part, is a little spark of happiness. He’s such a kindhearted and beautiful person who doesn’t allow fame and success to change him into something he’s not. Also, the relationship between Willem and Jude is one of my favourite parts of the book. *SPOILERS* I was absolutely devastated after what happened to him and haven’t cried so hard reading anything in years.


Y is for Yael (Wolf by Wolf Duology)

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As a survivor of Auschwitz and a shapeshifter, Yael certainly has a lot of emotional baggage and identity issues to deal with. But as far as characters go, she straddles the line between strong and vulnerable perfectly. She’s highly capable, smart, and hasn’t let her painful and loss filled past completely close her off to others. Although her mission to kill Hitler does require tough decisions, her underlying kindness frequently shows through.


Z is for Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grisha Trilogy & King of Scars)

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There was no way I was leaving my girl Zoya of this list. Who cares if it might as well be called the Leigh Bardugo character list. I was definitely far from Zoya’s biggest fan when she was first introduced in The Grisha trilogy. I mean, she was kind of a bitch. But then as the books progress and we move into King of Scars, she undergoes so much growth and development, and gets a chance to really shine. I love how sassy, strong, powerful and resilient she is. Plus, her rapport with Nikolai is perfection. Can someone just crown her Queen of Ravka already?


We made it! We survived! Wooooooooo!

Okay, chill out Ashley. It’s not like you just wrote War and Peace.

If you had picked favourite characters for these letters, who would have made the cut? (Plus, any suggestions for my missing letters? First names, surnames and nicknames all count. Let me know!)

Heartbreaking and Beautiful: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

If there were a pause button for our emotions, I would use it in a heartbeat to recover from this novel. To put things into perspective, I haven’t cried reading a book in around ten years. During the last 100 pages of A Little Life, I was a wreck. I’m not talking one cinematic tear down my cheek. I’m talking throat closing over, eyes so blurred it’s difficult to see the page, and snot running down my face like a waterfall. It was ugly. Lord knows how I’m going to write a structured and articulate review on this one.

Who, What, Where?

A Little Life tells the story of four friends, who after meeting at university, move to New York together. There’s Willem, the caring & good looking aspiring actor; JB, a snarky artist hoping to eventually make it to the big time; Malcolm, a junior architect slaving his way at a big firm, waiting for his moment to shine; and Jude, the withdrawn and intelligent legal associate that they all seem to revolve around. The book takes place over several decades of their lives, dealing with the highs and lows, but particularly with how Jude’s traumatic and horrific past has come to dictate his present and that of his friends as well.

An Emotional Roller Coaster

This won’t be for everyone. At 720 pages, A Little Life is a long read and could probably have been slightly shorter. For the most part, it’s not a happy one either. Sure, there are plenty of lovely moments sprinkled across the story but this is a book that deals extensively, and sometimes graphically, with issues of child physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, suicide, depression, grief/loss, drug addiction, self-harm, and a whole host of other things. To say that it’s difficult to read is putting it lightly. My heart hurt through about two thirds of it and page 641 probably fractured my soul. If you connect with the characters, it’ll put you through the emotional ringer and, if this is your kind of book, trust me, you will.

Real People

If I were ever to write a book of my own, I would be grateful even to write characters half as rich, tangible and layered as the ones in A Little Life. Each are beautifully crafted with their own passions, goals, talents, fears, failings, and histories. By the end of the book I felt as though I had spent years looking through a window into the lives of real people that I truly cared about. To be blunt, the characterisation in this novel is simply fantastic. However, while there are certainly quite a few players (Willem & Jude’s father figure, Harold, were my personal favourites), this is most certainly Jude’s story. As the book starts to make this clear, we spend less time with the perspectives of other characters, notably JB & Malcolm. In a short list of critiques of this book, I will say, this is something which disappointed me somewhat and I feel as though some chapters could have been diverted from Jude in service of his friends without harming his journey.

Jude is a talented, kind, and intelligent man but he’s also severely damaged, both physically and mentally. He goes through a great deal over the course of the novel in both past and present. The story slowly develops the difficult trajectory of his past and delves into how it influences both his sense of self and relationships as an adult. There were points where I had to wonder, how can so many terrible things happen to one person? Yet, at the same time, because Jude and the story felt so real to me, in asking this question I can’t help but feel like I’m questioning the events of someone’s life and so, I have to put my doubts aside. Jude is a complex character and A Little Life spends a lot of time helping the reader to understand his emotions and thought processes. You do grow very attached to him and genuinely feel his moments of happiness and despair.

Beauty in Prose

The writing in this novel is gorgeous. The prose is honest, flows, and sometimes Yanagihara phrases something so perfectly, you have to stop and admire it. I should note, however, that due to the length of some sentences, comma use, and the novel’s constant, almost seamless transitions between memory and present, you do need to concentrate on what’s happening or risk being momentarily confused about where and when you are.

Friendship & Love

While A Little Life is very much about trauma and self-worth, it’s also about so much more: love, friendship, and the nature of life itself. It looks at how friendships grow and change with time, how they can be lost and repaired, and the dynamics within them; it showcases inexplicable and unconditional love in all its forms, our need of it and us being deserving of it even when we cannot see that ourselves; and most of all, it’s a book about how life may be full of darkness but that there will also be light and to find joy in even the smallest of things.    


Despite its few issues, the connection I had with this book and the emotional response it instilled makes it feels wrong to give it anything less than five stars. A Little Life is a long, difficult ride, but one that’s beautiful, worthwhile, and utterly unforgettable.

5 Stars

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Literary Names

This week’s TTT topic is actually a freebie to do with being thankful but because (a) we don’t do Thanksgiving here in Australia and (b) I’m weirdly coming up blank on potential topics, I’m going to do something different. Back in early 2018 I did a TTT post on literary names that I thought best suited their characters. It’s been a little while since then so I thought it might be fun to try my hand at another names based top ten, this time on character names in books that I just generally love (and would name many The Sims babies after). Just to state up front, this isn’t a comment on any of the characters these names belong to, only their names.


The Ember Quartet (Sabaa Tahir)


Aurora Rising (Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman)


The Bone Season (Samantha Shannon)


Ash Princess (Laura Sebastian)


A Curse so Dark and Lonely (Brigid Kemmerer)


Call Me By Your Name (Andre Aciman)


Arc of a Scythe (Neal Shusterman)


Percy Jackson & The Olympians (Rick Riordan), The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue (Mackenzie Lee)


Throne of Glass Series (Sarah J. Maas)


Sorcery of Thorns (Margaret Rogerson)


Do any of these also float your boat? What are some of your favourite literary names?

The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

This tag is an older one and was originally created by Nathan Hale over on Booktube. It seemed like some fun so I thought I’d give it a go. I had my sister’s help randomly picking the books from my bookcases and flipping the pages for me.

The Rules

  • Choose 5 books
  • Randomly order your books
  • Flip to a random page in each book and write down the first two names you see
  • Put the names in the categories listed below in the order you saw them!
  • Cry at how screwed you are…

My Books & Characters

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Jesper Fahey & Wylan Van Eck
  2. Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff – Eve & Lemon Fresh
  3. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco – Audrey Rose Wadsworth & Thomas Cresswell
  4. Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Victor Vale & Sydney Clarke
  5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Noah Czerny & Richard Gansey III

The First Person to Die: Jesper

Oh, come on. The guy who knows how to use a gun with minimal bullet wastage when ammunition is scarce is the one who dies first? My luck sucks. This doesn’t exactly get me off to a great start.

The Person you Trip to Get Away from the Zombies: Wylan

Wow, I’m seriously heartless in a zombie apocalypse situation. Wylan is the sweetest, little cinnamon roll and I’m all like, here zombies, tuck in! Sorry, Wylan. Please forgive me. Hopefully this happens after the whole Jesper-dying-situation otherwise things are bound to get ugly…

The First Person to Turn Into a Zombie: Lemon

Oh. Dear. Poor Lemon. I sincerely hope she doesn’t keep her special abilities as a zombie because if so, shit will hit the fan in a big way. I’m sure it happened trying to save the rest of the team’s butts.

The Person who Trips you to Escape the Zombies: Eve

I wouldn’t put it past her. Eve has seen some serious things and considering she lives in a post-apocalyptic wasteland already, she’s very much aware of the sacrifices you have to make to survive.

The Team Idiot: Thomas

I have to laugh at this one. Thomas prides himself on being one of the smartest people in the room, but admittedly, he’s also likely to be very much a fish out of water in a zombie apocalypse scenario so maybe it rattles him enough to make some stupid decisions? I’m sure he’ll turn it around!

The “Brains” of the Group: Audrey Rose

I could see this happening. Audrey Rose is a pretty smart cookie and she has no problem with gore. I imagine she’d be collecting zombie corpse specimens as we go along to try and work out how the apocalypse happened and how to fix it.

The Team Medic: Victor

This could be a good thing or a very bad thing. Good, because with Victor’s ability to numb pain, it’ll allow others to push through their injuries enough to get out of sticky situations and deal with the injury later. Bad, because we might end up not realising just how terrible an injury is until it’s too late. Next thing you know, oopsie daisy, our friend is eating our brains.

The Weapons Expert: Sydney

Hm, interesting. Sydney’s certainly tough and could probably manage with some time and experience but to start out, she’s maybe not the best choice. Who knows though, she might end up like Little Rock in Zombieland.

The Brawler: Noah

Well, we’re officially screwed. Considering Noah’s a ghost and his personality is more on the softer side, probably not the best choice as the group brawler. Guess I’ll have to work on my running.

The Team Captain: Gansey

Phew! This seems like a perfect fit. Gansey enjoys the whole taking charge thing. He also largely manages to stay calm under pressure which’ll work well here.

As far as my odds go, I think I’m in with a small chance of survival. In all realness though, if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow I’d be dead for sure. My fitness is terrible and I have no idea how to use a weapon. *cries* Fingers crossed we manage to avoid a The Walking Dead scenario.

Do you think you’d be able to survive the zombie apocalypse? And if it did happen, which literary characters would you want on your team?

The Villains Award Tag

This tag comes to me courtesy of the one, and only, Paper Fury. Everyone knows that a good story needs a fantastically written and memorable villain so let’s celebrate a few of the good ones (or evil, as the case may be).

SPOILER WARNING for some of the below paragraphs.


Villain You Absolutely DESPISE and HATE

Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J K Rowling)

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This was an easy pick. There are some villains you just love to hate but Umbridge, I just flat out hate her. She’s just evil. I mean, the woman tortures students as a form of “punishment”, is a crazy control freak, is so power hungry she basically gets on board with the death eaters when they take over the ministry of magic, treats any intelligent creature that isn’t a full wizard like scum, and worst of all… she thinks kitten plates are good interior decorating.

Villain Who is Entrancing

The Darkling (Grisha Verse – Leigh Bardugo)

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I know, an obvious choice, but how could I not? The Darkling is a dodgy dude. I know it, I really, really do. And yet, he just has something about him. Every time he enters a scene, I’m captivated. There’s this charisma and sense of mystery…I have no idea what it is. But bad guy. BAD.

Book You’d Like to Read From the Villain’s Perspective

The Wicked King – holly black (cardan greenbriar)

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I had a tough time with this one. Like, really hard. I need to read more books with good villains. So I’m going with a sort of anti-hero-ish character? I have no idea at this point. What even is Cardan? While I get what’s happening with him in The Cruel Prince, I would love to have some more insight into what’s going on inside his head in the sequel, especially considering the ending. Plus, there’s an extended period during which Jude is out of commission and a lot of things clearly went down that we don’t have info on. I needs to know, please.

Worst Antagonistic YA Parents

Valentine Morgenstern (The Mortal Instruments series – Cassandra Clare)

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This guy is not winning any father of the year awards. He’s a terrible parent but also a crappy person. He (1) made his wife ingest demon blood against her will which turned their baby into an evil demon-shadow hunter hybrid, (2) tried to enslave the shadow hunter race and then kill them all when that failed, (3) told his daughter that his adoptive son was her blood relation so they’d think they had incestuous feelings for each other, (4) imprisoned and tortured downworlders to “learn” about them, and…the list goes on.

Antihero Who is a Little Bad, Little Good

Gosh, how long have we got? There are so many good picks for this one:

  • Kaz Breker (Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo)
  • Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastards Trilogy – Scott )
  • Victor Vale (Vicious Duology – V. E. Schwab)
  • Kelsier (The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson)
  • Severin Montague-Alarie (The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi)
  • Lila Bard (A Darker Shade of Magic – V. E. Schwab)
  • Jude Duarte (The Folk of the Air Series – Holly Black)
  • Mia Corvere (Nevernight Series – Jay Kristoff)

Villain Made From Tragic Circumstances

The Nightbringer (Ember Quartet – Sabaa Tahir)

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The Nightbringer was once the leader of the Jinn before the Scholars betrayed them. In a desire for power, the Scholar leaders took advantage of the Jinn’s hospitality and tricked them into handing over their magic. They then proceeded to kill many of them, including their children and the Nightbringer’s family, and bound the rest in a magical grove. As you’d expect, the Nightbringer has good reason to be pissed off.

Minya (Strange the Dreamer Duology – Laini Taylor)

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Minya is one of only a few survivors of her race. After years of torment under the power of their gods, the people of Weep fought back against their oppressors. Worried that the children might grow to become threats, they slaughtered them as well. Only six years old at the time, Minya remembers the day in detail and is haunted by her failure to save more children from the nursery during the attack. For this reason she harbors a deep hatred for the humans of Weep.

Antagonist Who Gets in the Hero’s Way but isn’t Necessarily “Pure Evil”

Cassius au bellona (Red Rising Series – Pierce Brown)

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Cassius actually starts the series as MC, Darrow’s, friend, however, we all knew the minute he found out Darrow had been forced to kill his brother to enter the Gold military academy this would fall apart in spectacular fashion. And it did. Cassius isn’t an evil character. He has strong ideas about loyalty and honour, but because of how he’s been brought up, he aligns with the existing gold elite. He does come through in the end but up until that point, he’s kind of a thorn in Darrow’s side rather than a big bad.

A Non-Human Villain

  • BeiTech (The Illuminae Files – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff): Massive evil megacorporation that decided to take over an illegal mining operation on a distant planet knowing its inhabitants would be unable to call for help and then proceeded to try and murder all the witnesses.
  • Smaug (The Hobbit – J R R Tolkein): Obviously, a dragon. Is all like, NO, YOU MAY NOT HAVE YOUR GOLD AND MOUNTAIN BACK. ALL SHINY THINGS FOR ME.
  • Pennywise (It – Stephen King): Ancient being of great power who feeds off fear and often takes the shape of a creepy ass, child eating clown.

Villain Who you Think is Wicked but they’re Intriguing

Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris)

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Hannibal is a murderer and a cannibal, but he’s just so smooth, suave and intelligent that sometimes you forget. That is, until he makes some weird and creepy comment about eating some dude’s liver with wine. Every scene he’s in you pause, just waiting to see what he’s going to say or do. The fact that he only gives you half the story at any given time (because he wants Clarice to work out the rest herself) also enhances just how intriguing he is – a truly captivating character.

scythe goddard (arc of a scythe – neal shusterman)

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Good lord, Scythe Goddard is bad news. Honestly, the guy is both a physical and mental threat, and he knows how to command a room too. What a cunning villain. Just when you think he’s failed or there’s a line he won’t cross, think again. Goddard has absolutely no qualms about massacring a room full of people and he genuinely believes scythes are better than everyone else. But while he may be awful, I’m always interested in seeing what his next move will be.

Antagonist Who Gets a Redemption Arc

Holland vosijk(A Darker Shade of Magic Series – V E Schwab)

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Oh, Holland. Sweet baby Holland, who just wants to help his world, but of course turns to a super-duper, evil dark magical being to do it. In the last book of the series, Holland joins Kell, Lila and Alucard’s quest to find an object they believe will save their world. By the end of the story, he redeems himself in a big way and *major spoiler* sacrifices himself to fix the situation he helped create.


Who are some of your favourite literary villains and anti-heroes? What makes them so damn good?

Let’s Steal a Magical Artefact: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves was one of my big anticipated releases for 2019. ASix of Crows-esque squad pulling a heist in post-revolution France with some magic thrown in? How could I possibly resist?

Complex World Building

I don’t know if I’m not paying enough attention, just obtuse, or it’s the book itself, but either way, I was massively lost on a lot of the world building elements of TGW because there’s just so much to process.

There was once the Tower of Babylon which God broke up into a bunch of smaller pieces. These fragments were then hidden in different parts of the world. Through their presence, some members of the population developed special abilities. Known as ‘Forging’, these abilities are either physical or mental and involve altering objects in unique ways (forged objects). Forging affinities are also highly specific e.g. manipulating stone.

To protect the fragments, the Order of Babel was created and is made up of powerful houses spread across the globe (there were once 4 French ones each led by a patriarch or matriarch, now only two remain). The members of the order are responsible for moving the Babylon fragments every few years and ensuring the location isn’t discovered. This is to avoid someone attempting to misuse, destroy or reunite them. 

Still following? Because I haven’t even mentioned anything about:

  • The special rings the house heads wear
  • The forged objects designed to locate Babylon fragments
  • OR the branches of forging that somehow allow you to transfer souls (…what?)

In one word, it’s overwhelming. As the book went on, despite the author’s attempts to explain, I just found myself getting more confused, especially during the climax. The frustrating thing is that I’m so impressed by the amount of work and creativity that’s gone into crafting this world and I feel as though it has so much potential for awesomeness, but at this point, I AM CONFUZZLED. SEND HELP.

It’s Heist Time

The plot of TGW revolves around a heist. It’s Paris, 1889 and Severin Montagnet-Alarie is the denied heir to one of France’s two now-extinct houses of the Order of Babel. When he and his associates come across something that may lead them to an object Severin believes could force the Order to give him his rightful place as patriarch and resurrect his house, he jumps at the idea. That is, until he finds out the object is locked inside the protected vaults of House Korre. Deciding to let it go, plans change when he’s soon forced into a magically sealed deal by the head of House Nyx, the charismatic Hypnos –  deliver him the object and he’ll give Severin exactly what he’s always wanted.

The plot of TGW is intricately linked with its world building and because of that, I had trouble understanding (or even just avoiding zoning out during) some of the technical parts of the story. However, because the pacing is so spot on and the narrative has such a great balance between action-packed/tense scenes and quieter character moments, it actually managed to distract me from this fact on numerous occasions.

Me: I have no idea why Zofia & Enrique broke into this museum but OH MY GOD, THAT DUDE JUST THREW A BLADED HAT!

As you’d expect, there’s also some romantic drama which I quite enjoyed because we got both the cute, awkward flirting pairing and the intense I-love-you-but-we-can’t-be-together pairing.

The End

I have to give Chokshi points for her ending. I was on the fence about reading the sequel for ages and then…we got to the last few chapters where she dumps a whole bunch of teasers for future character drama and THEN wham, hits us with a solid twist in the last line. *sigh* I think she may have got me.

Diversity & Commentary

This book has such an ethnically diverse cast of characters and it makes me ridiculously happy. We have Algerian-French, Indian, Filipino-Spanish, Polish, Haitian-French and…Tristan.

Through the use of her cast and setting, Chokshi also makes some great commentary on some of the darker issues associated with France during this period in history such as:

  • Cultural appropriation and exploitation – Laia is pushed to perform a traditional Indian dance for mere entertainment
  • Racism & Discrimination – Severin is denied his place as head of House Vanth because the Order refused to have two mixed-race patriarchs, Zofia is harassed for being Jewish
  • Slavery & Human Trafficking – the existence of human zoos
  • Colonialisation – The occupation of the Philipines by the Spanish & Enrique being of mixed race is considered part of neither population.

A Loveable Family

My favourite part of TGW, hands down, was the characters. Severin’s team of quirky, adorable and brilliant associates are all likeable and distinct. They also interact with one another in ways that feel real, familiar and humorous.

Severin: Owner of the L’Eden Hotel , Severin is calculating, good at recognising the talents of others and using them to his advantage, and generally tries to hide his emotions behind a calm exterior. However, deep down, he thinks of his team much like a family and would protect any one of them at all costs.      

Laia: Exotic dancer & hotel baker. Laia is wonderfully confident, cool-headed, mysterious and always trying to feed everyone. She has the unique ability to read the history of objects by touching them and can go toe to toe with Severin.

Enrique: The team historian and a massive nerd for all things scholarly. He’s bisexual and possesses that cocky bravado thing which pretty much assures I will fall in love with you. Also, will turn up to parties to get first dibs on chocolate covered strawberries.

Zofia: A Jewish, Polish engineer with autism who’s great with numbers, patterns, and chemicals. Zofia’s not so good with people or humour and tends to count things when she’s nervous. She has a love of sugar cookies and is basically an awkward, little cinnamon roll. 

Tristan: A botanist with forging abilities centred around plants. Tristan is like a little brother to Severin and he’s pretty much an overexcited puppy who spends most of his time in the greenhouse working on his inventions with his pet tarantula, Goliath. 

Hypnos: Charming, ostentatious, and flirts with anything that moves. Hypnos is smarter than he seems, adept at getting what he wants and swears by using alcohol as a thinking asset. If there’s one thing he needs, it’s friends. He opened his mouth, and I fell in love.

The Gilded Wolves showcases solid writing, good momentum, and diverse, interesting characters. However, due to the overly complicated nature of the world building and it’s inextricable links to the plot, I found myself unable to enjoy the story as much as I wanted to. Still, with an intriguing ending, the chances of me reading the sequel remain high.

3.5 stars 

Book Tag: R.I.P it or Ship It

I recently stumbled across this fun, silly, little tag thanks to Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. After a little digging, it turns out we can attribute the original tag (it’s a little old now) to booktuber, Emma at Emmmabooks. The basic premise is simple: write down a bunch of character names on bits of paper, mix them up and then draw two at a time. You then have to decide whether the two characters you draw would work in a relationship or not. In other words, do you ship it or is this r/shp dead on arrival and should just R.I.P.? I’ve noticed that a few people, including Emma, separated their characters into male and female jars but in going for a more inclusive and diverse approach, I just threw all of mine in together and pretended everyone was bisexual. We’re also ignoring any potential character deaths here, too. Additionally, I did try to keep to popular characters that a lot of people would know.

Match Up 1: Percy Jackson (PJO) x Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy)

It sounds super weird but I feel like maybe these two could potentially have a thing. BUT that thing would clearly be super bad for the rest of the world. Both Rose and Percy have a habit of rushing into things without thinking and their canon partners are perfect because they ground them. If these two were together it’d be like, Person A: I have this idea (a terrible, crazy idea) Person B: That’s a GREAT idea, let’s do it! Sooo….they probably shouldn’t date because they’d get each other killed and probably a bunch of other people in the process.

Verdict: RIP – for the sake of them and the world

Match Up 2: Blue Sargent x Richard Gansey III (The Raven Cycle)

I swear I didn’t do this on purpose. 100% chance occurance.

Verdict: It’s canon – why fight the flow? Ship

Match Up 3: Inej Ghafa (Six of Crows) x Holland Vosijk (A Darker Shade of Magic)

This seemed like a really weird combo at first but then I started to think that it might actually work. Inej seems to have a thing for broken boys with troubled pasts and clever, plotty minds which actually does fit Holland pretty well. Inej would also probably be a good influence on Holland, and maybe help him see more of the bright side to life. They’ve both been through some crap times so perhaps they could help each other through it.

Verdict: Ship

Match Up 4: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) x Nova Artino (Renegades)

Yeah, I don’t see this one working very well, mostly because they’re too similar in a lot of ways. Tough, troubled pasts, snarky, carry the weight of the world on their shoulders… However, I do think that after some headbutting they’d grow to really respect each other and might even become friends.

Verdict: RIP

Match Up 5: Maven Calore (Red Queen) x Amren (ACOTAR)

Oh. Good. Lord. What in the world? My sister thinks that Amren might actually be good for Maven but I have a sneaking suspicion that Amren would simply not be able to handle all of Maven’s drama. She’d be like: I am ancient and a badass, I will not put up with this bullshit. I mean, at least Maven would be able to keep Amren in pretty gems. Still, the idea of this is just hilarious.

Verdict: RIP

Match Up 6: Isabelle Lightwood (Shadowhunter Novels) x Peter Kavinsky (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before)

Isabelle is not at all like Lara Jean, Peter’s actual love interest, but at the same time I think Isabelle has a lot of the traits that attracted Peter to his ex, Gen, without all the bitchy parts. I think they’d have some nice deep and meaningful talks which both seems to need in their r/shps. On the flip side, Isabelle’s taste in Simon shows that she likes softer boys with sweet hearts and Peter can definitely be that guy for her, provided he can avoid being intimidated.

Verdict: Ship

Match Up 7: Nesta Archeron (ACOTAR) x Magnus Bane (Shadowhunter Novels)

BAHAHAHAHAHA. Could you even imagine? Someone turn this into a reality show, it’d be gold.

Verdict: If pigs flew and hell froze over.

Match Up 8: Harry Potter (HP) x Cress Darnel (The Lunar Chronicles)

This is a bit of an odd one. Harry’s another one of those rash heroes who jumps into things without thinking which is why he needs people around him, and a partner, who reign him in a little. I think Cress might remind Harry slightly of Luna which doesn’t really seem like his type. With Cress, on the other hand, Harry may not have Thorne’s sense of bravado but he does have a bit of sass and the hero thing down. He’s not bad looking either so maybe Cress will be into it? Overall, I think this one might be a friendship only.

Verdict: RIP

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And…I think that’s enough crazy-ness for now. It’s so weird trying to match up characters from other fandoms. I find that I’m constantly comparing them to the characters’ actual romantic interests and seeing if there’s an overlap but I guess it’s always hard to know. You just can’t account for chemistry.

Do you guys agree with me on these ships? And do you have any weird cross-fandom pairings that you secretly ship?

Let’s Talk: Things Book Characters do that Make no Sense

Books are not reality,  I think we’re all aware of that. I mean, am I currently riding through the skies on a dragon, having romantic meet-cutes with boys wearing crooked smiles, or saving space ships from crazed AIs and zombie virus outbreaks? That would be a no. However there are a bunch of things that protagonists seem to do in my books that don’t make any sense to me. Perhaps they’re all crazy, or it might just be because they’re fictional….hmmm, who knows?

1. Charging into Danger with Little or No Concrete Plan

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Do you WANT to die? Let’s consider this for a moment. The bad guy has likely got an epic-ally thought out plan against all potentially appearing heroes (no really, he’s going to stop and tell you all about it right before he murders your ass because it’s just that awesome), and you should do the damn same! I’m sorry but the following excuses are just not going to cut it, in the slightest:

(a) We’ll just wing it

(b) It’ll be fine, don’t worry

(c) We can do it if we all work together

And my personal favourite,

(d) If we just sit around and wait, he’s going to kill her/him

Pfft…you know, the usual excuses.

2. Now We’re on the Subject, Charging into Danger Full Stop

Why. Just why. Villains and monsters are scary. *whispers* They kill people. If it were me, I’d be turning to the side kicks, who are obviously way more qualified for this whole mess, and being like: Well, off you go, before finding myself a blanket to hide under with a never ending stash of chocolate as I battle a massive panic attack. I mean, where do these MC’s find all this bravery and courage stuff? Thank god, I’m not a chosen one – we’d all die.

3. Having the Perfect Thing to Say in an Argument

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Teach me your ways quick witted protagonists! How is it that you always know exactly what to say at the right moment in order to come off sounding smart, sexy, hilarious and like a compete badass? Save me from my constant conversational replays in the shower during which I am compelled to come up with better and better burning comebacks, all of which will never be appreciated for their awesomeness (except by my shampoo bottle). This is how I prepare myself to one day develop a witty rapport with a slightly sarcastic boy wearing a crooked half smile with a minor case of overconfidence to hide his deeply buried heart of gold.

4. Saying They’re Not Hungry

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Honestly, if hobbits can be attacked by ring wraiths and still be concerned about second elevenses and afternoon tea, so can you. Fuel is important for the high functioning protagonist! Don’t blame the side kick when you’re being chased by a giant monster or a pair of ugly goons and your body suddenly gives out from lack of sugar. Listen to Professor Lupin  guys, food saves lives. It also stops hangry-ness, which is probably why the next point happens so often…

4. Making a Big Deal out of Stupid, Insignificant stuff at the Worst Possible Times

I get it. You feel massively betrayed right now. I’m sorry your best friend failed to tell you what she had for breakfast this morning and whether or not she happened to have had a random conversation on a street corner with someone who later turned out to be an evil mastermind pumping her for information, but is it really that big a deal? And do we have to discuss this right now, you know, as you’re preparing for the final battle and will likely need to rely on each other to keep your asses safe? They apologised, move on already.

5. Telling Lies or Avoiding Subjects and Making Minor Things Massively Worse than they Should Be

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Things in books would be so much simpler if protagonists stopped trying to hide things that really aren’t that big a deal. What once was a molehill is now a mountain, full of goblins, guarded by a basilisk, located in the Bermuda Triangle, and you’ve only got yourself to blame. It’s always the case that the chance to say something comes up and the MC lies to cover up the original slightly smaller lie, thereby making things even worse. Hello, snowball effect. So, the other love interest kissed you. Big deal. You pushed them away, just tell your damn partner already! Or, the MC thinks, why don’t I just wait until the other person happens to bring it up at the worst possible moment, thereby making me look like a lying, cheating, ass. Now that sounds like the way to go.

6. Never Needing to Use the Bathroom

Do protagonists never need to pee or shower? They’re constantly forced into terrifying situations and somehow never seem to have a problem. Kidnapped, stuck in an underground cell for the past 48 hours and still…nothing.  Clearly everyone just has iron bladders and never gets dirty. They’re like Legolas, a walking, talking make up/conditioner advertisement. Me, I love my showers and don’t even get me started on my ridiculously small bladder. The villain would be five minutes into his monologue and I’d be nudging a nearby henchman asking for directions to the bathroom.

7. Resisting being with the Character They Clearly Love and want to have Many Babies with til the End of Time

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Why are you fighting this? The reader sees it, every minor character in your story sees it, the other third of the love triangle sees it, hell, even my cats see it. Get together already and stop causing me stress and heartache with all these stupid, manufactured reasons as to why not. And while we’re at it, if you could never, ever break up or hurt one another, that’d be fantastic. Forget about that other love interest, he’s just in it for plot padding.

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What things do book protagonists do (or not do as the case may be) that make no sense to you? Let’s rant (aka. talk)!

Love Ashley

Top 10 Tuesday: Names that Best Suit Their Characters

This week’s TTT topic is best character names (see That Artsy Reader Girl). What in all bookish hell does that mean? Is it names I’d actually consider naming my future bookworm children? Names that I find the most humorous? The best badass sounding names? Or perhaps it means the best weird and unpronounceable fantasy names? (Okay, highly unlikely with regards to that last one).

Who bloody knows?

So for this topic I’ve decided to do a list of ten names that I think really suit their respective characters. These are names that you only have to read once to get a sense of what that character is like without ever having read a scene with them in it. Admittedly there were a lot of names I wanted to use on this list but here’s just a snapshot:

1Kaz

SIX OF CROWS DUOLOGY – LEIGH BARDUGO

Saying that Kaz’s name suits him is like saying Niagara Falls is a bit wet. It’s unique, memorable, and hard edged, just like the man himself, but you also definitely get the feel that the person it belongs to has a bit of devious streak too.

2Emika

WARCROSS – MARIE LU

Emika as a character is quirky, kindhearted, and knows how to take care of herself. Her name is unusual but I feel like it matches her cool and ballsy nature. It’s the perfect name for a rainbow haired hacker!

3Lemon.jpg

LIFEL1K3 – JAY KRISTOFF

I honestly thought this sounded ridiculous when I read it – a girl named after a laundry detergent? Yet, somehow it’s so well suited to Lemon’s sassy and zany nature. She can be sweet but don’t mess with her either, she definitely packs a punch for someone so small.

4august

THE MONSTERS OF VERITY DUOLOGY – V. E. SCHWAB

I don’t think I’ve ever met a dodgy person named August. When I hear the name it just makes me think of someone kindhearted, thoughtful and sweet. Ergo, the name really suits our favourite Sunai cinnamon roll.

5alucard

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC SERIES – V. E. SCHWAB

Alucard’s name manages to capture his aristocratic roots while still suiting his adventurous, rugged scoundrel personality. There’s a sense of refinement to his name but it still feels right for a charismatic pirate captain.

6Celaena

THRONE OF GLASS SERIES – SARAH J. MAAS

I’m not a huge fan of these books but I had to include this one. Yes, I know she has another name (spoilers!) and while I like that one too, I feel like the first better captures the different sides of Celaena’s character during the first half of the series – her girly-ness, self-doubt, and I-will-cut-you nature. This is easily the right name for a badass assassin.

7Hannibal

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS – THOMAS HARRIS

It’s a little weird, a bit gothic sounding, but still polished. It also happens to rhyme with the word Cannibal, so there’s that. Essentially, it’s perfect for an intelligent serial killer with culture and taste and a mysterious background.

8locke

THE GENTLEMAN BASTARD SERIES – SCOTT LYNCH

I have no idea if it’s the alliteration or unusual sound but I have no problems imagining a smart, witty, and smooth thief like Locke to go with this name.

9Lou

ME BEFORE YOU – JOJO MOYES

Lou is bubbly, warm and young at heart. Although it’s a simple one, her name speaks to each of these things and definitely suits someone who’d get excited over a pair of bumblebee striped tights.

10daenerys

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE – GEORGE RR MARTIN

This one’s a little harder to articulate. It’s more a feeling of just being right for the character. Daenerys’ name, even without all the later titles, is a strong one. It’s distinctive and memorable, just like the woman herself. The name also shortens to a sweeter nickname, Dany, which, although only used by a very select group of people, suits the tender part of her that she largely tries to hide from others.

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And that makes 10! What names do you think best suit their characters? Or better yet, have you ever come across any names that ended up sounding completely wrong for a character?

Love Ashley

Let’s Talk: The Sins of Love Triangles

I’m going to suggest something controversial, so bear with me.

Love triangles aren’t as bad as we think they are.

Yep, that’s right. You heard me.

I can hear the collective gasp from here. But Ashley, you cry, love triangles are terrible! How can you say such a thing?!

Alright, put down those tomatoes you’re planning on throwing my way and hear me out.

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that LTs are an extremely overused trope, especially in the fiction I tend to read, but as we all know, there are some tropes out there that are extremely enjoyable in their trope-ishness. So why’s this one so bad? Let me just throw something out there:

It’s because they’re not well written.

Uh, huh. I said it. A LOT of authors do not know how to write a good love triangle. Let me tell you why.

A Clear Winner

Plot complications are meant to create drama. They’re supposed to be an emotional roller-coaster. But you know what ruins the fun? Knowing exactly how the damn thing is going to pan out.

One of the main sins of many LTs is a glaringly obvious outcome. Most of the time the author already knows exactly which character is going to win their fair maiden or…er, fair dude’s heart and they’re so damn happy about shipping them that they do an absolutely terrible job of hiding it in their writing. Take Vampire Academy for example. Were Dimitri and Adrian both great characters? You bet, but was there ever a chance in hell Rose was going to end up with our favourite mopey, alcoholic moroi? Not one.

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Even worse, once you know result, every bit of information or scene introduced to try and make it seem like the other side may have a chance (you aren’t fooling me red herrings!) feels like a waste of time and just ends up being extremely frustrating.

Sucky or Underdeveloped Suitors/Suitresses

In a well done triangle, readers should be able to root for both sides of the equation (how do you think Twilight got to where it was?). Going even further, they should be able to understand why the MC might end up with the either one of their potential partners even though it may not necessarily be the reader’s choice. One of the best examples of this is probably found in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices Series. While I may have been drawing hearts with Will and Tessa’s names in them I also adored Jem. Why? Because both suitors were well written and likeable characters, given an even amount of page time, and had vastly different dynamics with Tessa. This meant that Jem as a final decision would have been fine as it made just as much sense as Will did.

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In order for a triangle to work, all characters need to be given a little love by an author – they need their own stories and captivating personalities (I’m looking at you Mal from The Grisha Trilogy *glares* ). It sounds simple but so many authors fail to meet this, with members of their triangles ending up either two dimensional or just complete assholes.

Too Much Angst

It’s time for the worst reason of all. Angst. WHY IS THERE ALWAYS SO MUCH ANGST?? With a situation like a love triangle, of course there’s going to be some emotional turmoil. What would be the point of the plotline without it?

I mean, just sayin’, if there were two amazingly gorgeous men with six packs and killer smiles fighting over me, I’d have an intense internal dilemma too (if only, am I right?) and the same goes for if the person I liked was torn between me and someone else. The problem is, authors have a tendency to flog this emotional horse so hard that it’s died, zombified and then died all over again.

A little bit of pain and suffering among the characters is expected but so much moaning, back and forth, and whinging that I actually want to stab someone is NOT OKAY.

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Writers tend to have this problem when they don’t resolve their triangle quickly enough or they fail to give the plotline an intermission (e.g. the MC dates one suitor exclusively for a while, one suitor exits for a book, etc.).

So let’s be clear – we want some angst okay, just don’t make us take a bath in it.

They Render the MC an Annoying, Senseless Idiot

Most of the LTs you find feature a female character at their centre. Yet, for some reason these storylines have a habit of turning once smart, witty and generally wonderful women into complete morons. Suddenly all they can do is think about their love interests, fall into pits of tear filled despair, and make some really awful life choices. It’s like, girl, get your ass into gear and worry about saving the world! BOYS CAN WAIT.

Then, even worse, there’s the MCs that become almost insufferable in the face of love triangle-dom. Case in point, America Singer from Kiera Cass’s The Selection series. Now there was a girl I wanted to hit with something heavy. Like a dictionary. Or a bus. JUST BLOODY PICK MAXON ALREADY, WE KNOW YOU WANT TO.

If a book has to damage the quality of its MC to make its LT work, it’s doing something wrong.

Let’s Stack Tropes

A LT is a well-used trope on its own. What potentially sends it heading for an iceberg is when authors layer tropes on tropes. It’s like playing a game of Jenga, you’re just waiting for that sucker to fall. One of the most common and annoying ones is the BFF vs New Shiny Object trope. How many times have you read a LT in which one of the suitors is a long-time friend of the MC who’s only just decided to make a move and the other is an intriguing newcomer to their life?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I have faith in the idea that, one day, I will eventually find some other non-cringe worthy love triangle plotlines. ONE DAY. And sure, it’s always easier to criticise than to do but eh, that’s bookish discussions for you.

Its Not Really A Love Triangle At All Its More Of A Mess GIFs - Get the  best GIF on GIPHY


Let’s Talk: Are you guys avid haters of the LT trope? What LTs out there have you found that defy the odds? What are some of the worst ones you’ve seen?