Dead or Alive, a reread review

Dead of Alive by Derek Landy is the 14th book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and the penultimate book. I first read this in April 2021 and so it’s the book that’s had the least time between first read and reread in the Dead Famous Readalong for me. If you’d like you can see my original review from the first read through.

This book still fucks me up. So badly. So so badly.

It is SUCH a penultimate book, despite the fact that a lot of our questions are wrapped up and brought to a close in this book, there are still a million and one questions left on my tongue and I really have no clue how Landy is actually going to answer them all in one last book.

There is character development in this book in leaps and bounds. So many of the newer characters that we’ve been following really come into their own in this book, as well as seeing our longstanding characters develop as they learn and grow in the face of their troubles.

Omen is fucking adorable and I will stand by that till the end of time. He’s such a little bean and I adore reading from his point of view and learning more about him. He deserves so much more! I also loved reading from the perspective of Militsia, she is so good for Valkyrie and it’s lovely to see their relationship.

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks that we got to the time between the two seasons of the series. It adds a lot of context for where Val was mentally during this time and fills in the gaps nicely. I just wish it had been a little more interwoven through the whole second season.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 6, Enjoyment: 8, which gives an overall score of 7.71 and a 4* rating.

This is probably a less objective review of Dead or Alive than when I read it the first time. And I know that’s a bit of a ridiculous statement considering I’m usually just adoring the books the first time through. But because we’re so close to the last book I was just vibing with all the ridiculousness through this book!

Highlight here to see trigger warnings: violence, death, gun violence, gore, PTSD, police brutality, murder, outing, homophobia

Next up? Until the End.

All Systems Red, a reread review

Yes, you’re right, I did indeed reread All Systems Red in the same year I originally read it! (see my first review here) But after picking up Artificial Condition during a reading slump I knew I had to go back and re-enjoy this novella!

After my reread I can confirm this is one of my all time favourite books! I laugh out loud while reading it seeing Murderbot attempting to deal with these humans wanting to emote with them. And the plot itself is the perfect vessel to frustrate Murderbot progressively through the story!

If this is your first exposure to Murderbot, I feel like you should know that they’re a SecurityUnit (AI) that has gained control over its governor module so it’s no longer controlled by its owning company. But despite it’s name, Murderbot doesn’t want to kill humans. It just wants to be left alone to watch soap operas all day! But instead the human’s that it’s been tasked as security to are stupid and need protecting.

For my second read I on CAWPILE I gave: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 10, Plot: 10, Intrigue: 10, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 which gives a massive 9.86 average which is obviously a 5* read!

I adore this series so much and I’m so excited to catch up with the books that are already out!!

Checkmate, a review

Checkmate by Malorie Blackman is the third book in the Noughts & Crosses series. After book 2 (Knife Edge) I thought that this series was going to be a little less painful to read than I’d remembered. I was wrong.

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Of course I don’t want to spoil anything here for those who haven’t read the first book, but with such a big time jump from book 1 to book 2 that’s really hard! What I can tell you is that there is immense character development here from every single character we’ve met so far, and also within the book itself with the newer characters. It’s done so beautifully, and this is what ended up making me weep.

I was still living with my parents when I read this, and as I reached the end of this book I had to leave the living room and go finish up in my bedroom so that my dad wouldn’t see me cry! I ended up ugly sobbing, the tears streaming down my face. That’s what this series does to me, and that’s why I’ve been putting off reading it for so long! I love it, but it hurts.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave this book: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 10, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 9, which gives this book an overall rating of 9.29 which to no ones surprise is a damn solid 5 star read.

I am so scared to read book 4 in this series, let alone if I decide to pick up the more recently published book 5! Double Cross (book 4) is actually on my tbr this month (Feb 22) so with me luck! I’m sure to cry again at this one.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire – a review

It’s time for book two in the Skulduggery Pleasant series!! As I mentioned in my review of book one, I’m re-reading these as part of the Dead Famous Readalong with the wonderful LadetteM, BookSanctum, ChaoticReader, and occasionally Emma!


It’s hard for me to review these impartially as the entire series is one that I love so much, so please do take my review with a wee pinch of salt. But of course I gave this 5 stars!

In this book we face a new enemy, with a new goal, and new bad guys along with him. We get idiotic zombies, stupid banter, and a lot of near misses with death. All of the usual!

As per this was such a fun romp through the magic filled streets of Ireland. I loved the breadcrumb clues that Landy was already dropping this early on in the series about what is to come in some pretty big reveals later on!

Despite this being a series aimed at kids (with a Middle Grade/ 8-12 intended audience, although this book is marked 9+ on the back of my edition) this is still so much fun to read as an adult. Yes it’s childish, but in such a fun way, and it’s also surprisingly dark and gruesome at the same time. Imagine a PG Deadpool and you’d be pretty spot on.

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave:

Characters: 9

Atmosphere: 9

Writing: 9

Plot: 9

Intrigue: 9

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 9

for a grand total oooffffffffff, 9. Obviously. Which is of course a five star rating!!

Highlight here if you need trigger warnings: trauma, ptsd, spiders, gaslighting, violence, death, gore, murder, gun violence, religious fanaticism

I am ridiculously glad that I’m reading through this series again. I’m spotting so much that I forgot about or missed when I was younger that’s relating to the new books coming out (there’s one left to go!!!) and being able to chat on the live shows with the others about the plot is so much fun! Only me and Bekka have read the books before (up to the end of series 1) so we know everything that’s going on and it’s so much fun to watch the others try to figure it out!!

Have you read this series? If not? WHY NOT?! Seriously if you’re into dark humour you can’t do much better than this!

Skulduggery Pleasant – a review

It’s finally time. I’m finally reviewing Skulduggery Pleasant!! This is a series that I have read and reread since I was around 14 and that I’ve been rereading this year as part of the Dead Famous Readalong which has been so much fun! We follow a young girl, 12 years of age, who’s uncle has recently passed away. At his funeral she meets a very weird man. Later on she discovers that he is a detective. A living skeleton detective. That Ireland is filled with magic. And that the world is a lot stranger than it seems.


This is a very dark middle grade read, and one that I have adored from the very first page. We get violence and magic and mystery and all sorts of weirdness that continues throughout the series. This is a hard one for me to review because of how many books there are in the series in total. I don’t want to give any spoilers so I’m hesitant to give even the slightest of details.

What I can say that if you’re worried about starting this very long series, it’s actually split into trilogies. You could read the first one and leave it at that. Or you can read just the first trilogy (which I originally did…. cause the rest of the books weren’t out!). And the trilogies continue through the series so that can be an easier method of making your way through.

If you’re actually the intended age range for middle grade (unlike my 24 year old self) I would warn that this is a book on the darker side. As in I often am surprised at how violent and dark this gets. If you’re like younger me and that sentence made you excited and wanting to read it even more? Go for it! Otherwise this might be one to miss. For older readers though, unless you really cannot handle death and violence you should really enjoy this series.

It also has Irish wit, which is reasonably similar to the British variety, so that’s a lot of fun to have the dry humour throughout mixed with the utter absurdity of the magical “reality”. This is a surprisingly hard book to review, the whole series is (and given I’m rereading them all please pray for future me) as all of the cool points are best found out by yourself! Even those that aren’t spoilers are just that much more fun to read for the first time and I don’t want to be the one to take that away from you!

So all I will say is that if you like action, wit, magic, and dark books. Pick this one up. No matter how old you are (unless you’re under 9, there’s a wee sticker on the back that says 9+. Always pay attention to stickers….. mostly always…. sometimes). This series is an absolute blast and I will forever love my mother for gifting me these books! (this reason only, of course).

Highlight here for trigger warnings: one swear word, mild violence, gun shooting and an implied instance of torture, death, magic

For my CAWPILE ratings I gave:

Characters: 10

Atmosphere: 9

Writing: 9

Plot: 9

Intrigue: 10

Logic: 9

Enjoyment: 9

For an overall 9.29 rating which of course comes out at a 5* read! Did we expect anything else? I gave it a five star when I first read the book and a five star every reread since!

Apocalypse Kings – a Skulduggery Pleasant Review!

If you really want to know how far behind on reviews I am? I’ve re-read this before the review will be posted. Ffs why am I like this? Well, either way, let’s get into the review!

Apocalypse Kings by Derek Landy is a World Book Day Novella within the world of Skulduggery Pleasant, it slots into place after Mortal Coil, the fifth book in the series, and doesn’t have any spoilers for books afterwards so you can read it without worrying!

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I read this after reading some of the second series, where Val is in her mid twenties, so it was so much fun to go back to the roots of the series and see something childish again! It’s actually what prompted me to take part in the Dead Famous Readalong to reread the entire series! (hence why I’ll have read it a second time by the point this is published, cause I’m reading the books chronologically)

I really enjoy the diversity that Landy added in here. He’s been developing over the span of the series but of course that means that the diversity is most present in the later, more serious books. It was really nice to see that diversity brought back into the more childish and fun parts of the series and that’s probably why Landy wrote the novella!

Highlight for trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, violence

This is around 100 pages long, so I read it in one short sitting and it was so much fun. Val and Skul-man undercover in a school is their worst possible environment and the evil they have to defeat is done so well! Such a fun read as always and writing this has made me even more excited to reread it!

The Benefits of Rereading

Do you re-read? Lots of people don’t! They read a book once and they’re done. Some people will even unhaul a book straight after they’ve finished it, never to be seen again (By some people I mean my dad. Never kept a book in his life. Fucking weirdo). But I’ve always been a re-reader.

It started with me just wanting to experience a story again, I’ve re-read for so long that I don’t even know which book would’ve been my first! And then as I became more and more of a reader it then was pushed by me running out of books!! In the end I read and re-read my favourites so many times that they’re genuinely falling apart and I know the stories inside and out. Sometimes I would even just flick straight to my favourite sections and read from there! I knew the stories so well that I didn’t need to read them again to be sucked back into the world!

As an adult I reread less, and that’s essentially for 2 reasons.

  1. I have more books!
  2. I have “less” time

Reason 0.5 is also because I don’t re-read thrillers, mysteries? Yes. Thrillers? No. The entire enjoyment is in the suspense of not knowing!

As an adult not only do I have access to more books, being able to budget more for books in my life and dedicate more time to them, but also the internet is more of a thing! I have a kindle that I can buy a book from if I want!! This just wasn’t as common when I was younger! (and I didn’t have a bank account to use to buy them!)

And less time. As we get older time seems more and more precious, we realise that we don’t have as much of it as we think. And we realise that there are so many books out there!! Can I really “waste” time reading a book I’ve already read? Especially when I have over 100 of the damn things sat in my house unread!!!

But despite this, I do try to take time to re-read at least one thing each month. It lets me revisit stories that I love, as well as reminding me of just why I love them so much. And when I’m reading “so much” each month why not add a fun reread in there too! May as well make all the hundreds of books I’m keeping “worthwhile”! 😂😂

If you never reread and you have the change to pick up a book again? I recommend it! Give it a shot!

The Singing – a review

Finally! My review of the 4th and final book in the Pellinor series!! It’s taken me a loooong while to get around to writing this (I read the damn thing in December!) so let’s get into it!


In the first two books of this series we follow Maerad’s pov, and then for book three we follow Hem. In this last book we follow the both of them, with the pov changing every few chapters. Similarly to what I said in my review about The Crow, when I previously re-read these books I skipped out on Hem’s sections a lot. They just didn’t call to me when I was younger and I just wanted to get into Maerad’s story! This time around, of course, that was completely different and I revelled in Hem’s story! Because it had been so long since I had read his sections it was wonderful to see what was essentially a new pov in the story for me. It added so much dimension to the tale and really brings the whole book together.

To keep this as spoiler free as possible, the only explanation I will give for this book is that the two are coming together after time apart, the book follows their journey towards each other and also their journey once their are together which is the end point of the entire series. (right look I know that’s vague but do you want spoilers? No! Go check out the first 3 books and come back!)

The continuous development of the new characters we met with Hem in his story, as well as returning to characters we hadn’t seen since the first book, really rounded out this world and made it feel real. I am so emotionally invested within this world that every battle and every fight is tense, even though I know the outcome! Visiting old friends again is a wonderful way to round out the series and to suggest a direction of events for after what is shown in the books, and I think Croggon does this really well to a point where certain events are suggested but she leaves it open enough for you to come to your own conclusions.

As always the “academic” sections at the beginning and the end of this book are fantastic. I adore all that they add to the world without bogging down the text itself, and the context that they give you to read this tale within.

Is anyone surprised that I loved this reread? No! Now I just need to re-read the prequel and to finally get my butt in gear and read the eBook novella’s that came out a while ago!

The Crow by Alison Croggon – a review

Onto the third part of my reread of the series which inspired my handle, I reread The Crow. The third book of Pellinor focuses on Hem, Maerad’s brother whom we meet in the first book. In this we learn more about his time traveling southwards as well as more about those who travel with him.

The Crow: The Third Book of Pellinor by Alison Croggon (Paperback, 2006)  for sale online | eBay
The Crow by Alison Croggon

After such heavy focus on Maerad in the first two books, this is a definitive change of pace as we explore the southern reaches of Edil-Amarandh and the deeply entrenched reaches of the dark which lie there. Hem is travelling with Saliman, another Bard we met in The Gift (or The Naming in the US) to the Bard’s home city of Turbansk in order for Hem to learn the basics of barding at the school there. Of course nothing could ever be this simple, and instead the forces of the dark come rushing in, leaving Hem in danger when they once thought that was Maerad’s role.

When I re-read these books more as a teen, this was definitely my least favourite and probably the one I re-read the least. I was not interested in Hem’s point of view for the story at all and because of that this re-read was quite different to the previous two for me. The first two books I know inside out, but this one there were so many aspects and plot points that I just couldn’t remember from whenever I last read it, probably almost a decade ago now. I went into this book anticipating to not really adore this one, but I was so surprised and this turned out to be a fast favourite! I’m not sure what’s changed between when I used to re-read these frequently and now but I absolutely adored reading from Hem’s pov. Not only does this of course add more dynamics to the world building within the book, but I also found myself deeply caring for Hem and his companions and on the edge of my seat at any tense moments. Of course out of the main characters I knew who would survive because they’re in the next book, but with the secondary characters who I suddenly cared about I had no idea if they would live or die and the suspense would kill me each time!

This one book spans so many different aspects of this story, from the basic lore of the world and the schooling and daily life, to underground communications, dealings with the dark, enslavement and love. I’m still so surprised that this is a “discovery” for me and I’m ridiculously happy I decided to do this re-read! Once again, this is essentially impossible to talk about in any real depth without spoilers but I urge you to go and check out the first book in this series (The Gift/The Naming) because the emotional impact of these young adult books is still strong with me today as an “adult”.

This is also leaving me really excited to read The Singing, the fourth and final book in the series, because that book switches between Maerad and Hem’s points of view and I have a feeling I’m going to appreciate that so much more this time than I have since I first read the series!

The Riddle by Alison Croggon – A Review

Continuing on with my reread of the series which inspired my bookish handle, I moved on to The Riddle! Starting where we left off at the end of The Gift, the journey through Edil-Amarandh by Maerad and Cadvan continues and we get to see more of this world and more about these two characters.


This book focuses even more heavily on Maerad than the first, and we learn a lot about her and through her we learn a lot about the world she is travelling through. On her trek to find out more information, carrying little more than her lyre, a sword and some sustenance, we follow the young Bard throughout Edil-Amarandh and into realms we haven’t explored in this world before.

I hesitate about going into any depth on any of these topics because they would most likely be spoilers for book one and maybe even for this book. So instead everything here will be vague and I hope you can forgive me. We travel to so many different places within this book, exploring a wide variety of cultures across the world and finding similarities and so many differences through Maerad’s still naïve eyes. I adored learning more about different cities and locations, and seeing how this magical system interlinks with the “normal” folk in different areas and how various schools interact with the light.

There is a lot more focus on Maerad in this book, and the story revolves around her alone. This means that we get to see her grow and develop a lot in her emotions as she is subject to trials and tribulations, as well as love and loss. Throughout this we learn more about not only Maerad as a person, but also about her special powers that set her apart within this world. How these work, where they may have come from, and how she can best harness them.

For me this is unfortunately a 4 star read rather than 5. I did find that the story was lacking slightly. Once again this is difficult to explain without spoilers, but I’ll struggle through! There’s a plot line with someone powerful, but I found personally that I couldn’t believe in their strength, both physical and emotional. There just wasn’t enough built up around it. My memory had this aspect of the book lasting longer but it was over within a relatively short number of pages and I do think that this was a mistake. In order to be fully impactful it needed more depth to it.

My second and final issue which cause the book to drop a star is that in places it seemed kind of… unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I adore these books so much. But there’s a lot of meandering that doesn’t feel entirely fruitful and I feel like this book could’ve been edited down to remove those portions. And if a certain wordcount was wanted to keep it in line with the other 3 books in the series then adding in POV from Cadvan would’ve been really constructive to the story and I feel like it would’ve made the book much faster paced and much more enjoyable.

As it is, I still adore this series and what this book brings to it. There are so many specifics within this book that are some of my favourites throughout the series as a whole and I’m so excited to get to the last two books!