Hi friends! If you're surprised I've returned (seemingly) from the dead, so am I, but mostly because I never intended to take a two-...

Hi friends! If you're surprised I've returned (seemingly) from the dead, so am I, but mostly because I never intended to take a two-month hiatus in the first place. I'd like to apologize first and foremost for going silent on the blog, but I didn't realize how much I needed to take a break until I did. Now, however, I've had a long soak in the well of creativity, and I'm eager to come back and chat with you all!

Let's be honest: the world is a crazy, stressful place at the moment, and many lives have been severely and negatively impacted. My work's been disrupted, university classes have been moved online, and I've been on the phone more than any other time in my life. From the bottom of my heart I hope you and your families are all well. <3

I'm hoping this post can be a casual, fun chat about recent reads and writing, and free from the stress of news. So join me, will you?

Rants About Recent Reads

'A Good Girl's Guide to Murder' by Holly Jackson: Usually I don't even consider picking up murder mysteries, but the title of this YA one was too good not to peek at the blurb. Wow, was this one a surprise! 

The main character, Pip, is trying to prove a (now dead) boy supposedly guilty of murdering his girlfriend is innocent, for her school project. Pip is incredibly intelligent and takes meticulous notes of everything, and when she begins to strike up a friendship with the 'murderer's' brother, she starts to put her whole heart into trying to prove his brother innocent. Pip is such a funny and clever character, and I loved her heart for her family and friends!

This story isn't afraid of looking at the nitty gritty of a case, and if you adore complex mysteries, spunky and smart heroines, and excellent humour mixed in with serious circumstances, I can't recommend this one enough. 

5 stars, and a new favourite!

'The Ruin of Kings' by Jenn Lyons: I'd heard nothing but great things about this adult epic fantasy debut, and the premise seemed like a winner. Unfortunately, I was greatly disappointed. While the world-building was unique, complex and fascinating, the book was... utterly confusing.

There are two reasons why: names, and the story's structure. One culture had a tradition where the first few letters of a person's name was their last name, (eg. in Khaemezra Kha is the last name), and so when there were multiple people from the same family, their names were almost identical. I couldn't keep track of who was who, and mixed with the fact that many were immortal or had switched bodies with someone, the twists fell flat when a character's true nature was revealed. I also spent far, far too long trying to understand the complex family trees.

As for the structure, there were three timelines to follow, all beginning in different places in the main character's life. So we followed Kirhin from when he is in jail, when he's a child, and when he's a slave. This meant that sometimes future Kihrin would know things the younger didn't, and any tension was lost as to whether the character would survive his past situations. Sadly, it also meant I couldn't connect to his character.

This, combined with all the content (it's definitely only suitable for adults), was only saved by the interesting world-building and Lyons' boldness to make her villains true villains. But overall, I struggled to enjoy this. 2.5 stars.

'The Shadows Between Us' by Tricia Levenseller: I wish I knew how to feel about this book. It's pitched as a Slytherin romance, and I would definitely agree that's what this is: the main characters are ruthless, ambitious, and self-centred. There is so much that is morally shaky in this book that I can't even begin to make a list.

But did I enjoy it? Oh yes.

Somehow (between being alarmed at the loose and fast morals of the couple and the ease with which they killed those in their way) I managed to be thoroughly entertained. Alessandra, our MC, is so bold and intelligent that I couldn't help but being intrigued by her and wanting to see if her plans unfolded successfully. So while I can't completely fall in love with the story, or even say it was a moral one, I have to say it was a wild ride.

4 stars.

From the Quill Pen

The last few months have been productive as far as writing is concerned. I finished the second draft in December of The Masks We Ink, a YA espionage fantasy where a spy in her enemy's lands must discover the other spy at court and end them, before they end her. Throughout uni holidays my undeniably amazing critique partner Hannah White gave me super helpful feedback, and so to the next draft I went, rewriting and reworking!

Thus, the third draft was finished last month, and just a few days ago I sent it off to a wonderful editor, Lauren Smulski, for an editorial letter. I can't wait for her feedback and see how I can improve on it in the next round of edits!

Despite it being Camp NaNo, I'll be taking it slow this month as university assignments are piling up, so rather than drafting I'll be brainstorming and developing a new story that's been creeping into my consciousness. I don't have a confirmed title yet, but it revolves around rebels-for-hire, a group of siblings, and a city based on Petra. I'm excited to see where it takes me!

Enough talking about me: how are you? How are you handling these tricky times and how can I pray for you? What books have you loved or hated? How goes your writing?
Let's catch up! <3

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  1. Ooh, the story you're brainstorming sounds good - Petra fascinated me when I was younger, and it's always good to find sibling stories! The Masks We Ink sounds lovely too - fantasy spies?? <3

    I've been reading the Magisterium series, which is a fun and easy YA/MG? read (with content warnings for... I guess... light necromancy??)

    I hope your at-home life settles down soon (and you don't have to talk as much on the phone... I've worked in admin and those things still terrify me :)

    1. Thanks Jem, glad you like the sound of it! Yesss I've always been obsessed with Petra, so all the research and photos has given me serious wanderlust haha. xD Aw thank you! <3

      Ah I've heard great things about that series! I shall have to check it out. :D

      Thank you, I hope all's well for you at the moment! Oh yes it's beyond terrifying. Especially when you don't know when they're going to pick up... xD

    2. Or when you're all ready to talk to someone and you get an answering machine... xD

  2. Yay! You're back!!
    I've been doing a lot of reading too. I'm glad the writing/ drafting is going good.

    1. Thanks Skye, I'm happy to be back! Yay for reading buddies! *high fives* Have you found any new favourites lately?

  3. Welcome back! I'm glad you had a good break. :)

    Oh my, those names DO sound confusing. o_o And family trees can be quite the beasts to keep track of!

    I hope you're doing well! My life hasn't changed much with all the craziness. Go to work, come home, stay home-- that's pretty much the norm for me. XD


    1. Thanks Emily, I did! I hope you and your family are all doing well. :)

      Haha I swear I scratched my head dozens of times while reading that books. xD Oh indeed! Makes me want to keep my own stories' simpler out of sympathy!

      Haha understandable. xD For me uni and work have moved online, so I'm in the house a lot more, but I'm surviving! Books help with that. ;)

  4. Glad to see you back around, Melissa!

  5. Good to see a post from you, Melissa! I hope everything is going well for you! Oh, that first book sounds really good! I'll have to check it out sometime.

    1. Aw thanks so much, that's so kind of you to say so! <3 It is, I hope you're well too! Oooooh I'd love for you to; then we can chat about it!! I gasped several times reading that book haha. xD

  6. Ooo, that story you’re brainstorming sounds really interesting! I hope all goes well with it! I’m so happy to see you’re back! <3 <3

    1. Thanks so much Nicole, you're the sweetest! <3 How are you doing? Well I hope!

  7. YAYYY so happy to see your post in my feed!!! And so glad to hear you're all right. <3 I just finished reading my first Kasie West book and loved it, and now I'm reading A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes. :D

    Praying for you. <3

    1. Awwwww! *hugs* Thanks Lila, it makes me happy to hear that. I hope you're well too! <3 Ooooh I've been meaning to read Kasie West; which one did you read?

      Thank you! Let me know if/how I can pray for you too. <3

  8. Hey! Great to hear a little update. I've missed you. *hugs* I hope it's been a good break and writing is going well. I've been hanging in there with all this. Not good not horrible lol.