The WIP Diaries: some writing facts about me

It has been so long since I did a WIP Diaries post! Today's is a bit different - I'll be sharing some random facts about my writing style and process.

Hope you enjoy reading about them :)

Look, I've tried okay? I've tried to be fluffy and a believer in happily-ever-afters, but for some reason my stories always end up dark, brutal, and tragic. The sadder, the better. The darker, the better. It's kinda worrying tbh ;)

This is a mixed blessing. I am never short of character ideas, which is great, but I also have a hard time resisting adding characters to my stories. I mean, sometimes a big cast can work, but sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it's just plain unnecessary. Hence the frustration. Once I had a cast of 20 characters in my WIP (all of them lead characters, mind you...) when actually I only needed about 5. Of course, once I've thought of a character for a story, I don't want to remove him or her, so that creates a problem. It's like you're being forced to kill off your children. It's an ugly process :(  

I love love, don't get me wrong, but it is never the focus of my books. There's almost always a romantic subplot, but the emphasis is more on friendships and family dynamics. That's what I love writing most of all. Hot make-out scenes and kisses in the rain are cool, but friendships are the life-blood of my story relationships.   

I am a huge sucker for sibling relationships and basically all of my WIPs have them. They're messy, they're complicated, and sometimes they're lethal. They're always entertaining. I love writing dynamics between siblings. 

I am an extremely visual writer. Every single scene, every movement, every character, I see clearly in my head. I brainstorm a lot, and always play out my story scenes in my head as if they're a movie - complete with a soundtrack, cinematography, set design, etc etc. I couldn't imagine doing it another way. It works wonders for me. 

Do you have any writing quirks? What are some facts about your writing process?

Weekly What's Up - watching, rain, school

Almost the end of August! Almost! Wow. 

I finished season 1 of Riverdale (even if season 2 was available on Netflix SA, I wouldn't be keen on watching it. I mean it's fun, but I've read that the second season is a lot darker and given that I don't think it's a great series anyway, the motivation isn't there), I'm still loving Brooklyn Nine-Nine, still re-watching TATBILB (obviously), and I'm on season 8 of TVD.  TV is good :) 

It hasn't been an amazing week otherwise. I haven't been feeling on top of things. Hopefully it'll pass soon, though.

We've also been getting so much rain!! Yay!! 

Posts of the Week

I posted a book blitz about The Things We Leave Unsaid.

Currently Reading

In the Afterlight and The Martian Girl are a slog, and I'm re-reading Shadow and Bone for a series review.

Around the Blogosphere

Emily reviews the new movie release To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Lindsey shares tips & tricks to beat a reading slump

Erica talks about Book of the Month

Heather reviews the book To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought it'd be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 


I'm excited to be sharing some info about this new book! Read on to find out more...

Is it the things we don’t say that haunt us the most? Clare is anxious to start a family with adoring husband, Pete. When she takes on the seemingly simple task of obtaining her late mother’s birth certificate, she finds herself in a family history search that will challenge everything she thought she knew about her life. Scarred by her parents' ill-fated marriage, Tessa lives by three rules – dating unavailable men, building her café into a food empire, and avoiding her father. However, when her carefully planned life is thrown into chaos, Tessa is forced to decide which of these rules she’s willing to break. As Clare and Tessa’s paths cross and their friendship grows, can they both finally unlock their family secrets in order to realise their futures?

Goodreads      /       Amazon

From interior designer to author, Linn - who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman - says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Megan Mayfair is a Melbourne-based writer who draws inspiration from her beautiful hometown and regional Victoria to create contemporary women's fiction, containing a big dash of romance and a spoonful of family intrigue. With a background in public relations, copywriting and higher education, Megan is passionate about words and loves to bring them to life on the page. Megan holds a Master of Arts in professional communication and is a member of Romance Writers of Australia and Writers Victoria. Megan is married with three children, loves a good cup of coffee and believes you can never have too many scarves.

  Twitter  /    Facebook    /  Website    /   Instagram   


Do you like the sound of this book? Is it something you think you'd enjoy reading?  

Weekly What's Up - work, school, new schedule

Some random thoughts:
- Beautiful use of colour and the scenes are gorgeous. LOVE THE AESTHETIC.
- Can I have my own Peter Kavinsky please
- I relate to Lara Jean so freaking much. Literally. It's insane. 
- Gold humour and adorableness.

In other news, my week was busy but productive. I've started doing admin work for my dad to earn money and that's eating up my time; I'm exercising and feeling better about myself; I'm waking up earlier to read my Bible; aaand I'm all-round feeling good. Yay :) 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed a superb thriller, The Puppet Show.

I reviewed a YA novel, Tradition.

Currently Reading

I'm finding all of these books boring, except for Catwoman, which I'm buddy reading with my #squad <3

For Review

IT'S THE GRISHA TRILOGY WITH THE NEW COVERS. I'm so in love. I'm gonna re-read them - kinda skim-re-read - and then do an overall series review post :)

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

TRADITION - by Brendan Kiely

TRADITION - Brendan Kiely
Published: May 2018 - Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genres:  Young adult / contemporary
Pages: 342.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Graphic scene of sexual assault / strong language / sexual innuendo / drug abuse
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms in the leafy branches over its brick walkways. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous.

Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, avoid distractions, and get into the right college, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. She wants freedom, but ex-boyfriends and ex-best friends are determined to keep her in place.

Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past and fulfill the dreams of his parents and coaches, whose mantra rings in his ears: Don’t disappoint us. When Jamie and Jules meet, they recognize in each other a similar instinct for survival, but at a school where girls in the student handbook are rated by their looks, athletes stack hockey pucks in dorm room windows like notches on a bedpost, and school-sponsored dances push first year girls out into the night with senior boys, the stakes for safe sex, real love, and true friendship couldn’t be higher.

As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to play by the rules and remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they see Fullbrook for what it really is. That tradition, a word Fullbrook hides behind, can be ugly, even violent. Ultimately, Jules and Jamie are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates—and an institution—who believe they can do no wrong?

I love boarding school stories!! The vibes are usually pretty messed up, but they're irresistible at the same time ;)

The writing is okay. It's neither here nor there. Kiely's style is easy to read, but it's not profound or brilliant or striking. However, I did enjoy the dialogue.

There is very little plot and it has no structure. It's loose, it's messy, and it's weak. Bad as this sounds, the story actually improves from the assault on-wards, which happens about halfway through. I hate to say that, but it does. Until then and even a bit afterwards, the scenes are weak and random and totally without direction. It is frustrating to say the least.

The messages are on point. The author certainly has some good points about the dangers of toxic masculinity and the horrors of rape culture. And they are good messages - the injustice and messed up handling of sexual assault and the way women are treated in the story succeeded in making me, as the reader, furious. And that's why it's there! It's supposed to come across naturally and non-preachy to make an impact, and it does.

But I still think it could've been done better. If the writing and characters were stronger, the emotional connection would be stronger, and so would its impact. While Kiely has a solid theme, he's chosen poor scenes and poor characters to actually convey his message. It's like he doesn't know how to tell a story. That's my issue.

Everything that had once felt so alive now suddenly felt so dead. That was what I wanted the world to know.

The characters are indifferent. Jules, Javi, and Aileen are cool, but they could've been fleshed out more. As for Jamie, I'm sorry but I hated hated hated him. I know he's supposed to the good guy - the guy who isn't like the other guys and who supports our uptight feminist heroine - but I found him boring, irritating, pitiful, and stereotypical. He's so perfect and so good, and it makes me want to barf because it feels fake. He feels fake. And I simply could not warm to his character.

But there is a positive ;) I appreciate how Jamie and Jules aren't a ship. I was expecting that, and I'm glad it didn't happen. I also like how friendship takes the focus instead of all the romances (Max and Javi, Aileen and Jamie).

Tradition has solid messages at its core, but its characters, plot and writing are very nearly ineffective. 

THE PUPPET SHOW - by M.W. Craven

THE PUPPET SHOW (Washington Poe #1) - M.W. Craven
Published: June 2018 - Constable.
Genres: Adult / thrillers / mystery / contemporary
Pages: 352.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence / graphic, gruesome descriptions / strong language / child abuse / mentions of rape
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District's prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless. When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of. Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it. As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he's ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive...

How chilling is that cover?! Every time I look at it, my stomach curls. Those burnt letters make me think of flesh (which is probably the point) but ew ;) 

The writing is stellar. I like Craven's style, and the dialogue, specifically, is excellent - witty and to the point, it's just terrific.
I also love that the chapters are short. The plot is fast anyway, but short chapters just make everything so much more enjoyable and easy to read. The story is richly entertaining, with a dash of action here and there, and it's compelling and tight with a surprising and infrequent inclusion of dry humour.
In addition, the mystery took me by surprise. It is so, so clever, although definitely dark. And speaking of, a number of descriptions in this book are rather hard to stomach ;) They're graphic.

What a cast of characters! Poe is the "do whatever it takes to get things done" detective who thinks as impulsively with his fists as he does with his brain. Stephanie Flynn is his boss, and although I like her, her personality definitely isn't as strong as the other characters; I would've liked to have seen her fleshed out more.
Tilly is another great character. She's a genius, a whizz with IT, but at the same time socially inept and extremely naive. Her bluntness is endearing, as are her comic book T-shirts, and she's a unique if not unusual addition to the lead characters.

I also love her relationship with Poe. There's no romance between them - she's like his little sister - but he always has her back, looks out for her, and she clearly respects and trusts him. They're sweet together.

The Puppet Show is a dark, gruesome tale that allows its stand-out cast to pull the strings (#sorrynotsorry). Brilliant writing, strong action, and a smart plot make this a wickedly good thriller. 

Weekly What's Up - reading, watching, school

Another week's gone by and I can't believe we're heading deeper into August. It's crazy. Before you know it it'll be Christmas and New Year, and that's just insane. 

In other news, I started watching Riverdale! Only two episodes in, but I'm enjoying it. I've also finished season 7 of TVD - just one left to go! - but I'm gonna be watching Riverdale season 1 before I start season 8 of TVD

My Mum and I have been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, too. AND GUYS WHY DIDN'T I START IT SOONER?! It's seriously one of the best shows out there - the humour, the characters, the dialogue... the writing is so freaking perfect. I'm obsessed. 

Posts of the Week

I reviewed two thrillers: The Quaker and The Death Knock.

I reviewed the amazing Grace and Fury.

Currently Reading

Not loving any of these yet......

For Review

Yay! Thrillers galore :)

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

GRACE AND FURY (Grace and Fury #1) - by Tracy Banghart

GRACE & FURY (Grace & Fury #1) - Tracy Banghart
Published: July 2018 - Hodder Children's Books.
Genres: Young adult / romance / fantasy
Pages: 320.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos / violence
Format: ARC paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive. Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace - selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman. But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything. Can Serina fight? And will Nomi win?

The reviews for Banghart's debut have been mixed. But as soon as I opened the book and read the first paragraph, I knew what my review would be. I was falling into a book slump, and this books saved me. It took me on a wonderful, thrilling ride of feels and emotions and empowerment, and all I want to do is gush about it. SO GO FORTH AND READ.

The writing is lovely. Tracy Banghart's style is extremely similar to Sara Holland's (Everless), and so needless to say I enjoyed it. The imagery is also gorgeous, and the dialogue is good. Overall, it's an easy-to-read tale that doesn't sacrifice quality prose.

The story's action starts right away. The hook grabs you, the central story conflict is immediately introduced, and the characters are clear. It doesn't leave you floating. There's lots of action throughout the story, the plot's always entertaining, and it's exciting. The pace is fast - you'll simply fly through the pages, losing yourself in the fluff and thrills of the conflict and characters. You'll have fun and you'll be invested.

Oh and the twists! I admit I didn't expect to be so flabbergasted, but I'm so glad I was. This book is not predictable, and it'll probably steal your breath away in more than a few scenes. Yay for awesome twists and turns!

“It isn’t a choice when you don’t have the freedom to say no. A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed!”

“For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet... And who stood up anyway.”
- from the author's dedication

The characters are predominantly a diverse group of women. I love that they all have different strengths and support each other - albeit eventually. There's a lot of emphasis on women uniting and having each other's backs and how crucial it is they do so if they want to fight sexism, etc. It's an empowering message, and it's not preached. The characters individually, too, are vivid, although the secondary cast have rather simplistic stereotypical personalities. Still, they're lovable and inoffensive. 

I also love all the strong female friendships. Even the romances are lovely and swoony and entirely shippable. But no relationship is more amazing than the sisterly bond between Nomi and Serina, our two heroines.
Serina is the obedient, beautiful daughter. She's been groomed her whole life to be a Grace. Nomi is the rebellious one, the underdog, the one who admits she wants more than this life. I love how the story forces the girls out of their comfort zones and develops and grows their characters as a result; Serina has to basically "unlearn" everything she's been taught, and Nomi has to find answers while squashed into a role she's spent her life hating. They're terrific heroines, and their bond is strong. I'm also a sucker for sisterly relationships, so Nomi and Serina's relationship made me happy ;)

Think The Belles meets Everless, with a stab of The Hunger Games and a sparkle of The SelectionThis little fantasy has it all: action, romance, intrigue, twists, and at its heart a cast of women with diverse strengths who have each other's backs. Do not miss this book!

2 Mini Book Reviews: THE QUAKER and THE DEATH KNOCK

THE QUAKER - Liam McIlvanney
Published: June 2018 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 400.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Adult themes / strong language / violence / sexual content / gruesome descriptions
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Glasgow, 1969. In the grip of the worst winter for years, the city is brought to its knees by a killer whose name fills the streets with fear: The Quaker. He’s taken his next victim — the third woman from the same nightclub — and dumped her in the street like rubbish. The police are left chasing a ghost, with no new leads and no hope of catching their prey. After six months, DI Duncan McCormack, a talented young detective from the Highlands, is ordered to join the investigation — with a view to shutting it down for good.
His arrival is met with anger from a group of officers on the brink of despair. Soon he learns just how difficult life can be for an outsider, for McCormack is an outcast in more ways than one. When another woman is found murdered in a tenement flat, it’s clear the case is by no means over. From ruined backstreets to the dark heart of Glasgow, McCormack follows a trail of secrets that will change the city — and his life — forever . . .

This book is superbly written with impeccable sentence rhythm. The author is a master. The dialogue crackles and races, the atmosphere is rich and haunting, and the setting is a character in itself - the smoky, grimy streets throb with macabre undertones, and the pubs and casinoes crawl with a dark energy.
I also love that this isn't a contemporary; I think the era is perfectly suited to the story, and it works with the crime so well.

The story is dark. Very dark. There are many gruesome descriptions, fleshing out horrific crimes and painting a terrifying image of a nefarious psychopath. The crimes are brutal, and the story's twisted. It's uncomfortable. It's also very clever
The plot is slow. I think that's my one major problem with the book overall. It isn't boring, but ideally with a thriller you want to feel the urgency, the tension as it builds, and you want to stay in the book's clutches for the one sitting you can't help but take to finish. But with this story, it isn't like that; yes, it's exceptionally well written, but it's not gripping until the very end. That disappointed me.

The characters leave something to be desired. I expected more relationship dynamics and tensions, considering that the premise says McCormack faces hostility in his new work environment, but I don't think the author taps deeply enough into that potential. The relationships aren't as strong as they could be, and neither are the characters. They're kinda half-done.

Despite some aspects letting me down, I'd highly recommend this smart, haunting thriller.

THE DEATH KNOCK - Elodie Harper.
Published: June 2018 - Mulholland Books.
Genres:  Adult / thriller / contemporary
Pages: 336.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Mild sexual innuendo / mild violence / strong language / adult themes
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Three women have been found dead in East Anglia. The police deny a connection. TV news reporter Frankie smells a story... Ava knows that the threat is real. She's been kidnapped by someone claiming to be the killer: a stranger who seems to know everything about her. As Frankie follows the case, she enters a terrifying online world where men's rage against women may be turning murderous - and where her persistence might just make her a target.
And Ava must struggle not only to stay alive... but to stay sane.

This feels like a missed opportunity, and I hate to say it because the premise is so fascinating. Unfortunately, it disappointed me.

The writing is unexceptional. The leading ladies don't have much personality, and Ava, especially, simply tells her emotions, instead of showing us how she's feeling. The secondary characters are also easily forgettable, and I didn't feel connected to anyone.

But on the positive side, the book is incredibly unique. I love how the author's chosen to tell the story from the perspective of a journalist, instead of a detective, and it does make for some interesting insights. However, I think Frankie's role could've been been bigger and better executed. There're a lot of missed opportunities for great scenes and conflicts, yet the author plays it safe and rather mediocre.

It's not a bad story, but the execution is poor.

Weekly What's Up - Netflix, school, writing

Lots of school stress this week and I had a few really bad anxiety days :( But, I did get to read a fair bit, I actually did some book writing (GO ME), and I'm watching TVD and re-re-re-re-watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S on Netflix. When I finish season 7 of TVD, I'm gonna start Riverdale. Then season 8 of TVD, then Gilmore Girls. Woohoo! I'm excited ;)

Posts of the Week

I reviewed the incredible thriller Something in the Water.

I talk about Heathcliff and Cathy's abusive relationship.

I wrapped up July!

I reviewed Ignite Me and Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi.

I reviewed The Fates Divide.

Currently Reading

I'm enjoying all of these so far. I'm buddy reading an eARC of Damsel with Di :)

For Review

I got an eARC of this book from Netgalley, but I won't be starting it till late August.

Writing Questions! 

For an upcoming WIP Diaries post, I thought id' be fun to answer any writing related questions you might have for me. They can be about my personal writing process, my characters, my WIPs, and etc etc - just anything you might want to know :) 

So if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I'll feature and answer them!

How has your week been? What are you reading and watching? 

THE FATES DIVIDE (Carve the Mark #2) - by Veronica Roth

THE FATES DIVIDE (Carve the Mark #2) - Veronica Roth
Published: April 2018 - Katherine Tegen Books
Genres: Young adult / romance / science fiction
Pages: 443.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Violence and trauma.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fate brought them together. Now it will divide them. The lives of Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth are ruled by their fates, spoken by the oracles at their births. The fates, once determined, are inescapable. Akos is in love with Cyra, in spite of his fate: He will die in service to Cyra’s family. And when Cyra’s father, Lazmet Noavek—a soulless tyrant, thought to be dead—reclaims the Shotet throne, Akos believes his end is closer than ever. As Lazmet ignites a barbaric war, Cyra and Akos are desperate to stop him at any cost. For Cyra, that could mean taking the life of the man who may—or may not—be her father. For Akos, it could mean giving his own. In a stunning twist, the two will discover how fate defines their lives in ways most unexpected.

I read the first book in this duology last year and loved it. When the sequel arrived on my doorstep, I started reading right away.

Veronica Roth's writing style is powerful. There's a very real weight to her words, an intensity, almost profundity, and it clutches at you. Her dialogue is also incredible, and that's probably my favourite aspect of her writing. It's just so clean and witty and relates with character so well. I love it.

The plot is slow, but it's not tedious. It just lacks urgency. It's certainly a character driven book, though, because as well as being slow, the plot is also thin. Not a lot actually happens. If you love the characters, you'll like the book. If you don't like the characters, then I doubt the story will hold much for you.
The world is intriguing. The politics confuse me, but it is fascinating and original.

Roth leaves a lot to the reader's imagination, and that applies to every aspect of the book: characters, plot, world building. Honestly, I think it's a mixed blessing. On one hand you could get confused because not everything is spelled out to you (for example, you don't always know how or why the characters are going from A to B) and you have to fill in the blanks yourself. I did get confused sometimes and rather frustrated at all the vagueness, but overall I actually enjoyed "imagining in" the answers. Roth doesn't have the characters explicitly explain their direction and every motivation. In many ways, you as the reader are eavesdropping and trailing behind the characters, catching what information you can but otherwise thinking for yourself. I totally get why this way of doing things would annoy some readers (it does get too vague at times), but I found it refreshing.

A soft heart was a gift, whether given easily or with great reluctance. I would never take it for granted again.

Roth writes characters beautifully. Her cast is in this book is a group of mysterious, resilient anti-heroes and heroines trying to do the best they can in their messed up lives in their messed up world, all the while grieving the events of the previous book in their own specific way. Their personalities and backstories are subtly revealed, they're not in your face or overdone, but they're tenderly drawn and achingly real. I just wanted to hug all of them at different points in the book. They're struggling, it's not obvious, and that makes it more heartbreaking.

The romance between Akos and Cyra is hot and cold. Their relationship is pushed to the sidelines here because although they want the same thing, they go about getting it in different ways. And they both have more important things to do than stress about their love life; I respect them for being mature about it. They get on with what they need to do for the good of their world, despite their relationship crumbling, and it's sensible instead of easy. 

The Fates Divide is a dark and intense story that pounds with the hearts of its scarred, corruptible characters. The plot is slow, but it's a well written and chilling sci fi novel.

2 Mini Book Reviews: IGNITE ME and RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi

IGNITE ME (Shatter Me #3) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: 2014 - HarperCollins
Genres: Young adult / dystopia / romance
Pages: 421.
Triggers/Content Advisory: A few graphic sex scenes.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

With Omega Point destroyed, Juliette doesn’t know if the rebels, her friends, or even Adam are alive. But that won’t keep her from trying to take down The Reestablishment once and for all. Now she must rely on Warner, the handsome commander of Sector 45. The one person she never thought she could trust. The same person who saved her life. He promises to help Juliette master her powers and save their dying world . . . but that’s not all he wants with her.

I liked this book! The writing still isn't my favourite ever, but it's a fun story.

There's not much of a plot, however. It's very character driven, lots and lots of relationship drama, and it's heavy on dialogue and hormones. Not that I mind, personally (it's still entertaining, and teenagers will be teenagers) but it's more focused on characters and relationships than the previous two books were.

In terms of character, I'm glad we get to see a lot more of the secondary cast (Winston, Ian, Alia, Lily, James, Kenji...) and how they contribute to the story. They have amazing chemistry, their banter is awesome, and they're all-round good company. Kenji, especially, is terrific. He's insanely funny - providing much needed comic relief - and he's well developed and human. I loved seeing more of him. His friendship with Juliette is also one of the book's best features; it's so nice to have a guy and girl be best friends when he isn't in love with her and he isn't gay.

My main issue with this story is Adam's character arc. Just to be clear, I'm not Team Adam or Team Warner at this point (I'm Team Juliette, FYI) but I hate, hate, hate how Mafi felt she needed to butcher Adam's character to make the love triangle lean in Warner's favour. She's literally given Adam a personality transplant: he's verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive towards Juliette. Like, what the heck?!

My issue isn't that Juliette's now Team Warner. People fall in and out of love and you don't always stay with your first love; I get that. It happens. But Mafi has completely manipulated the situation and the characters because she's on Warner's side and wants Juliette to be with him. It's like she thinks she needs to make Adam a horrible person so we can hate him and love Warner. It's bad writing. It's bad character development, because it's sloppily done. It's just so darn obvious she prefers Warner. For example, here are a number of the presumably awful things Warner did in the first and second books that are now supposedly justified:

1: Juliette was furious at Warner for making her torture and almost kill a toddler. Well, turns out he didn't. The whole thing was just a simulation, and silly Juliette for not realising it.

2: Juliette was angry that Warner kept her away from his soldiers and isolated her. Turns out, he was doing it "for her own good" because his soldiers were sex-starved would be rapists.

3: Juliette was horrified that Warner killed one of his own soldiers just for stealing some food. Turns out, the soldier beat his wife and abused his family, so Warner's actually did the world a favour here.

4: Juliette was mad that Warner kept her to use as a weapon. Except, he wasn't. He just wanted to study her in case there was a way to save his poor sick Mummy, whose powers were similar to Juliette's.

It's a cop-out.

RESTORE ME (Shatter Me #4) - Tahereh Mafi
Published: March 2018 - HarperCollins.
Genres: Young adult / dystopia / romance
Pages: 440.
Triggers/Content Advisory: A few explicit sex scenes / strong themes of suicide, torture, and PTSD
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Penguin Random House SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Juliette Ferrars thought she'd won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she's still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she's got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

I loved this book! I didn't expect to, given my feelings about the previous ones, but I did.

You know how Mockingjay was a lot darker than the rest of The Hunger Games series? Which made sense, cause it's the last book; it's appropriate that it go out with a bang. Well, Restore Me is the same (although it's not quite the last book in this series, apparently...). It's a lot darker, more intense, more unsettling, and the emotions are overwhelming. The characters ' demons come out to play, and the results are catastrophic. It's painful, heartbreaking, and yet at the same time so beautiful. Mafi brings everything to a breathtaking head. It's stunning. She handles it all so well and the scenes are perfect.

Although I'm not a fan of Warner, I must appreciate his character development. He's well written. I also love Kenji, of course, and Nazeera is a fantastic additional character. She's brilliant.

But Juliette is the highlight. Her character truly became real for me during this book. She's so broken, so hurt, but so realistic and flawed and compelling. I also love how Mafi addresses the fact she's ignorant and naive about how to run things as the new Commander. I mean it's realistic, because she is only 17. And I like that that is acknowledged. She's not immediately competent.

This book also ends on a freaking cliffhanger, which I am not okay with. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS ASAP.