Grave Peril, Jim Butcher

A 4*

“So?” Bob said. “Hat up, go kill her. Problem solved.”
“Bob,” I said. “You can’t just go around killing people.”
“I know. That’s why you should do it.”
“No, no. I can’t go around killing people, either.”

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

Grave Peril is the third installation in The Dresden Files series. I fell in love with Harry Dresden, the wizard, from the first pages of Storm Front. I enjoyed all the books and I found that the story was as captivating in the 3rd book as it was in the 1st.

This is an urban fantasy that spins lore, myths, magic, faith, and ghosts in a beautiful story. Most of the reviews I checked said a lot of negative things about the book and I don’t understand why.

Yes, the story is a bit too cheesy, but that is what you might expect from a narrative where the protagonist is presented as Harry Dresden, the wizard. In the modern-day Chicago.

There are new characters introduced that we’ve never seen before, and that adds more spice to the story. Dresden is himself an interesting character. Witty, snarky but always a gallant gentleman who ends up in a lot of bad situations because of it.

But I can agree with the fact that the story is a tad too long, with always the same thing happening. But there are major cliffhangers happening throughout the story.

It took me a while to finish, but only because of some major personal problems not related in any way to the attractive narrative this story is.

For those who love snarky urban fantasy, this will be an awesome read. The whole series will be.

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A Better Quality of Murder, Lizzie Martin

A 4*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

I was searching for a good detective story outside the circle of the famous classic detective writers, such as A.Christie or A.C.Doyle. And I was extremely satisfied with Ann Granger’s writing in this genre.

The plot was interesting and the premise of the murder mystery not too obvious. Yes, you can guess who the killer is, given the amount of details dropped throughout the story, but there is still a surprise at the end of it all. And a few that you will get during the story.

Now, to the characters. Some of them are not developed enough, as the detective and his wife, even though they are the protagonists. On the other hand, those who played a part in the crime are the most memorable even after the weeks that passed between the moment I finished the book and I am writing this review.

Which is fine, but I would have loved to see more depth to the protagonists who did not allow me to root for the detective during his investigation, nor for his wife who was doing her amount of sleuthing.

All in all, this is an easy read to take with you on a plane or on a short holiday when you don’t want to submerge yourself into a complicated story.

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Divergent, Veronica Roth

A 3*

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

So here comes my unpopular opinion about the book that sold over 6.7 million of all the books in the series combined, got a movie and tons of positive reviews.

I must say that when the author can write a good dystopia, make it believable and then crush it in his/her own book… That has no price. That is why Red Rising, Hunger Games, Scythe are such good books and such good series.

But… That the genre is popular and good, doesn’t mean that every book in that genre will be good.

What I liked in this book,

It was an interesting way to divide the society. The factions, the control and the hidden strings pulled from the back scene.

The characters are interesting, attractive and so believable. Everyone gets hurts; everyone grows; everyone reveals their true nature and intentions.

Now, to what I didn’t like.

There are so many stereotypes in this book. So many twists, which are easy to foresee. 

There is not enough action… Yes, the main characters are going to get beaten and trying to survive the hard process on initiation in Dauntless faction, but besides that, every bit of action happens on the last 100 pages of the book.

And don’t start me on Four… I said don’t… Okay, you know what? You asked for it. It was just so obvious. Four’s identity was not surprising and at the same time looked more like a coverup of a big plothole.
And since his identity is uncovered, the book was ruined for me. Four’s story is just too thin, and all of it is such a big coincidence.

Now, with that out of the way…

I want to say that this book is as addictive as you can find. Even if it seems like a slight rip off of Hunger Games, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

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Editing Like a Badass: Be Concise

You are editing and feel like your manuscript is lacking, but you not sure what to do, what to add and what to cut out.

There is no secret that some of the paragraphs that you’ve written are cumbersome and useless, and you agree on that. But what about those that don’t stand out? They are there but don’t add anything to the story.

So let’s talk about the conciseness of your story.

Kill your darling

When editing ask yourself, does this scene adds anything to the story? Is there something mentioned that is advancing the plot? Or is it just a filler scene you like so much?

As you can guess, the last one needs to get out of the story, no matter how much you like it.

Avoid Repetitive Phrases

You don’t need to tell the same thing twice or thrice. Use variety in your sentences. Cut the phrases that describe the same action.

I didn’t need three of those to get the point across. So don’t you!

Cut the filler words

There, here, it cut them out, you don’t need them. Your writing will only be weaker with them.

There were three soldiers standing next to the gate.
Three soldiers guarded the gate.

Avoid long sentences

No need to tell all the action of the scene in one long sentence. It will bore the reader and make him/her confused.

Cut useless details and description from it. And if there is none, just divide it in a few different ones.

When there is some action happening, you need your reader to feel it. Short, fast sentences will get your reader on edge. And even better if you can combine sentences of different lengths.

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The Edge of Reason, Damien Concordel

A 4*

I got a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions included in this review are my own and are in no way affected by the exchange.

The Edge of Reason is a collection of short stories, some of them linked between each other.

There were some stories I liked, others I didn’t, but it was a matter of my personal taste and not the quality of the writing.

The writing is compelling and interesting. The characters appealing and profound, even if we see them for a few pages.

I read the book on the plane and The Return of Malaysia Flight 370 made me shift in my seat, thoughts of plane catastrophes rushing through my mind. I find it beautiful the way Damien Concordel decided to commemorate the victims.

There were a few stories where the writing seemed a little bit off and the quality of the stories were not as good. I am not sure what didn’t work for me in them, but they were a bit of a drag to read.

Overall it was a good read. Each of the stories has its unique flavour making it a good journey.

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Christmas Giveaway Winners

Awesome bookmarks by @irenadams

The winners of this year’s Christmas giveaway are the following:

1st prize (On Writing, by Stephen King and a pack of bookmarks) – Gabriel Andronica ( @AndronicaGabri1 )

2nd prize (a flowery notepad, a cute pen and a pack of bookmarks) – Taryn The Dragon

3rd prize (a flowery notepad and a pack of bookmarks) – athousandbitsofpaper

4th prize (a pack of bookmarks) – laurabooksandblogs (@lsmith335)

5th prize (a pack of bookmarks) – @InkySilenceRecs

Contact me with your address, so I can send it to you.

And stay tuned for the new content and other giveaways!

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Writing Compelling Stories: Show Don’t Tell


Let’s talk about something that every writer had heard a thousand times, but not always followed the advice right away.

Yes, we are going to talk about the famous statement “Show don’t tell“.

All of us sin sometimes and make a sentence that doesn’t show the scene to the reader. The reader will inevitably glide over it, but won’t remember anything about it.

Here are some examples:

Sam was shocked by Ron’s statement.
After Ron’s words had reached Sam’s ears, she widened her eyes and gasped.

Lila started crying and tried to hide it.
Tears wielding in her eyes, Lila turned away. Let them think she was disgusted rather than crying.

There is no other way to say it. Making your scenes more vivid will appeal to the reader and make them feel powerful emotions for your protagonists.

The reader will know Sam is shocked because you’ve shown it to them. They will know Lila was ashamed to be crying in front of others because she turned away.

When writing a scene you don’t need to tell what you saw your character do. You have to create the same image you saw in the mind of your reader.

You will not achieve it if you state the actions. The reader needs to half-guess, half-see.

Your story has to start in your mind and end in the mind of your reader. And there is no other way to do that, but by showing it to them.

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How to Be a Bawse, Lilly Singh

A 4*

Caution, mild spoilers ahead.

“Words lie; actions can lie too. Consistency speaks the truth.”

This book is written by Lilly Singh or most widely known as a YouTuber called Superwoman.

Lilly Singh as of today has almost 15 million subscribers. I’ve seen some of her videos, I liked a few of them, some made me laugh, but I am not an avid fan of hers. But, I think you can’t get as far as she did without learning a few tricks of the trade.

How to be a Bawse is a bit of a memoir wrapped into the self-help book. You will learn about Lilly Singh and her road to where she is now.

This book gives interesting information to the inside of the entertainment business, mostly YouTube. But I would imagine that it is almost the same thing in all other branches, only the content you try to diffuse changes.

The read is quick and simple. And in the audio format, it is Lilly Singh who will tell you the story. Which makes it more exciting for the fans of hers.

It is full of interesting and personal intake, but it is also real and straight.

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Editing Like a Badass: Do You Really Need All These Words?

Here comes another post about some things you should check out when you are in a full editing session.

Do you think you need all those words in your manuscript? Well, you don’t.

These words will burden your writing but don’t add anything of interest to it.

Start to

Helena ducked under the blade and tears started to glide down her cheeks.
Helena ducked under the blade, tears gliding down her cheeks.

Which one is more powerful in a sentence? Yeah, the second one.

The character didn’t start to run towards the enemy. He ran towards it his sword unleashed.

Show the action without any useless words.

That

Okay, this one is tricky. Sometimes it is needed but not always. And whenever it is possible you should drop it

Sarah knew that he would kill her.

Do you need that that? No!

Sarah knew he would kill her.

And don’t forget there is no need in the coma before that, only before which.

In order to

Let’s say Steven needed to get the talisman in order to complete the ritual.

But you are putting more words before the real action. And while we are at it, let’s drop the to get too.

Steven needed the talisman to complete the ritual.

Same meaning, fewer words.

Very

First, it is not needed and cumbers your writing. Second, if you want to infuse more meaning into your sentence, replace it with a more powerful adjective.

Very funny? Use hilarious.
Very scared? Petrified.
Very skinny? Skeletal.
Very wet? Soaked.

Check 147 Words to Use Instead of “Very” for an extensive list.

Really

It is used either as very, so really mean would be cruel. Or as a redundant word in a sentence.

She really wanted to shoot him.

And you don’t need it there. So drop it.

She wanted to shoot him.

And last but not least, the redundancies

You don’t need the exact same thing said twice in the sentence.

Have you noticed it? The redundancy in the previous sentence? The exact same thing

Here are some other examples:
Each and every time
Fall down
Climb up
Gather together

Check Common Redundancies in the English Language to see an exhaustive list.

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Chronicles of Yarrowind: The Age of Change

Prologue

“How did you know this would happen?” the man asked.
“I do not have time to sit idly and answer your questions.”
“The Kings authorized this procedure. They want to know what happened.”
The woman clad in white laughed, her eyes twinkling in the candlelight.
“And why do you think it matters to me what the so-called Kings do or want?”
“You promised to help,” the man answered.
“I promised my help only to one being…”
“And that person asked you to do this.”
“Fine… But you know the legends. You can guess how I knew.”
The man fumbled with the pile of parchments stacked on his desk.
“Is this a fair description of the events?” the man asked, sliding one of the parchments across the desk.
The woman took it in her hands and started to read.


The creature opened its eyes and looked around. For ages, it had enjoyed the dreamless sleep.
It wanted nothing more than to close its eyes and embrace the slumber.
But something must have happened to wake it up. It stood on all fours and shook its head.
The air was charged with energy. Dark energy. The strings of time and existence were thinning. The canvas of reality was in danger of being destroyed.
A loud roar escaped the creature’s mouth. But no answer came. Its brothers and sisters were asleep. It was the first one to feel the change coming. The only one who could do anything about it.
But it had to be sure. The creature had to visit the place it left ages ago.
The view in front of it shifted and in tiny patches. The reality regrouped itself to form a new one, from another distant world.
The Halls of Obliteration stood untouched by the ages that had passed. But the place was no longer dead.
The energy pulsed through the ground, the walls, even the air itself. It came in waves from one of the statues sitting at the end of the hall.
Measuring each step, the creature walked to the statue of an ancient God. Dark energy was coming from the seated figure. All black and cloaked, its features hidden from view, the God was starting to awaken too.
“You will not be able to change my destiny!” a scream erupted in the creature’s head.
It bowed its head and closed its eyes, a growl of anger and pain coming from its throat.
The creature shook its head and turned to walk away, but a cloud of smoke appeared in the air. Shifting, a deformed face looked the creature in the eyes.
“You were such a wonderful pet once. And you will be again! If you don’t want to die when my restraints shall fall,” it whispered through clenched teeth. “You are still afraid of death… Are you not?”
“If you get what you so desire, there will be no way of stopping my death. I know that now. Your tricks once scared me… But not anymore! Someday you will perish, and I will be there to see it happen.”
The smoke shifted, lips pursed, the face observed the creature.
“In that stupid head of yours, don’t you see any possibility of my victory?!”
No answer came from the creature’s lips. Not only one outcome led to the Dark God’s victory… Thousands of possibilities, endless options, all rushing through its head. And they all lead to the same thing. War, chaos, and destruction.
But something caught its omniscient eye. Blue eyes and gray hair. A woman stood amidst the fire.
A croak, resembling a chuckle escaped the creature’s lips.
A cry of a newborn baby came to its ears. A special being was born. A chance had been given to the creature. A tiny one but still a chance.
A cracking sound filled the hall. The creature bent its neck and twisted its body, its limbs shortening. And in a few moments, a woman clad in white stood watching in the dead eyes of the face of smoke.
“Farewell,” she said, walking past the face that still waited for an answer. “Or better not.”
A scream shook the walls and was the only answer. But the woman was already entering a portal she had opened.
She had to see the child. She had to know for sure she wasn’t making a mistake. And if she was right, she had to make some preparations.


The woman put the parchment back on the table and pursed her lips.
“So, what do you think?” the man asked, leaning forward.
“Stories… Nothing more.”
“Are you sure?”
“But so many stories are true…” the woman looked at the man with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Was your premonition wrong?”
“It is never wrong…”

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