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Monday, 25 October 2021

I signed up!

 

Hey! 😃

It's that time of the year again... and you know what that means, right? I finally signed up for NaNoWriMo 2021. Yay!!

I planned to take part months ago, because it will be a nice break from all the revision I've been doing this year. But I realised yesterday that I hadn't actually set anything up on the website. 😅

This year, I had four possible ideas to choose from but it didn't take long to narrow it down. This WIP is actually two ideas blended into one. 

Here's the description I posted on the website:

It's time to tell a haunted house ghost story... 👻🏡

Not much there, but this single sentence pretty much nails exactly what I want to write. This is going to be a haunted house story. A ghost story. Another story featuring complicated, dysfunctional family relationships. It's also the first story I'm going to dare mention the dreaded pandemic. 😲

I'm excited about this new WIP because the characters are starting to speak and snippets keep swamping my brain. And when that happens, it means the excitement is bubbling.

So, it looks like I've got a week of NaNoPrep ahead of me... 😊

Are you taking part? If you are, this is me: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/yolandas

Have a great week!


Thursday, 21 October 2021

THE TURNOUT by Megan Abbott

 

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents' death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara's husband and once their mother's prized student. The three have perfected a dance that keeps the studio thriving.

But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school's annual performance of The Nutcracker-a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration-an interloper arrives and threatens their delicate balance.


This is another book that sounded intriguing and kept popping up all over the place so much, I couldn't wait to check it out myself. 

Dara and Marie Durant are ballet dancers. Dara is married to Charlie, who was a fellow dancer until he got hurt. Their mother was also a dancer but she passed away years ago. Together, the sisters run the Durant School of Dance studio in a building that is falling apart. And now, during the very busy annual The Nutcracker performance season, a man enters their lives who quickly becomes much more and threatens everything...

Well, that turned out to be a totally messed-up story. And I couldn't look away. 👀

The writing style stood out from the beginning. Each chapter is short and sharp enough to slice right to the heart of everything. But not deep enough to reveal what hides beneath the surface. Oh no, that's slowly and painstakingly revealed. Yet, the sense of something disturbing is there instantly and when the truth is realised, it's shocking but definitely not surprising.

This is the story of a family with many secrets. About two sisters who grew up in a dysfunctional home and now, still work together. Their connection definitely tips into creepy territory, and is very destructive. Dara is outwardly in control and comes across like a cold, emotionless ice maiden although she's inwardly insecure and really good at burying memories. Marie appears to be the caring, softer teacher but is secretly spiralling out of control because she's a mess and can't forget. And Charlie, well, he's physically and emotionally broken.

There's a LOT more to the story. Like Derek the contractor and all the trouble he stirs. The production of The Nutcracker and all the drama that causes with the ballet students. And so many secrets, surprises and all the bad luck.

The Turnout is an intense and addictive tale about two sisters, how everything between them has corrupted and turned so sour they only get themselves deeper into darkness. It's about the sacrifice of ballet dancing and the toll it takes. And also the kind of book that digs its claws deep and doesn't let go until the rotten core emerges hard enough to horrify.

I enjoyed this surreal fever dream as much as the raw and ugly approach used to frame the surface beauty.

Thank you so much, Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.


The Turnout, August 2021, ISBN 9780349012483, Virago

Friday, 15 October 2021

CHASING THE BOOGEYMAN by Richard Chizmar

 

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI are certain that the killer is a living, breathing madman-and he's playing games with them. For a once peaceful community trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.

Recent college graduate Richard Chizmar returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer's reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come. 


This book kept popping up on Twitter because everyone had great things to say about it. And I have to say, this unique experience really lived up to the hype.

When Richard Chizmar finished college and moved back to his hometown of Edgewood in 1988 to pursue his writing career and plan his wedding, young girls started disappearing and were later found dead. As the murders grow, so does his interest and involvement in trying to put all the pieces together to solve this grisly mystery...

Wow. What a fantastic book!

The execution, pace, descriptions and characters all come together in the most unexpected and captivating way. Also, everything about this story was so creepy. And addictive. I found it hard to put this down and spent long hours glued to the pages of this dark and intriguing mystery because I had to know more. 

The writing style was so intimate and revealed Richard's personal life and the awful events he witnessed in such depth that I often felt like I was actually staying in his town while a serial killer stalked the shadows. And his connection to his surroundings, as well as the poor victims, really made the emotional impact that much stronger.

The terrible murders of Natasha Gallagher, Kacey Robinson, Madeline Wilcox, Cassidy Burch were shocking and terrible, and so sad. The way these senseless murders shake the residents of this close-knit town really changed everything as deeply as the growing hysteria of suspicion.

I also have to mention how cool the added photos were. They really added to the overall ordeal.

Chasing the Boogeyman is an outstanding and engrossing fictional true crime story. The attention to detail is as strong as the creepy factor. The storytelling is excellent and casual, yet fills the pages with valuable information. The line between fact and fiction becomes so blurred, I sometimes forgot this wasn't a real case. Since the author actually blended parts of his own life with the fictional details, I was hooked from start to finish.

I loved this spooky and unique story.

Thank you so much, Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.


Chasing the Boogeyman, August 2021, ISBN 9781529372380, Hodder & Stoughton

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

CERTAIN DARK THINGS by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood-drinkers, is smart and beautiful - and very dangerous. Domingo is mesmerised.

Atl needs to escape the city quickly, to get far away from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn't include Domingo, but little by little, she finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in. 

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Atl and Domingo stand little chance at all of making it out alive before the city devours them all - but they are determined to try . . .


Well, this is the fifth Silvia Moreno-Garcia book I've read, and this time we're dealing with vampires. And a stunning cover.

Domingo is a street kid who trades in garbage, then one day he meets a pretty girl and her dog. Alt and Cualli are in Mexico City on vampire business. Rodrigo is babysitting an obnoxious vamp boy while trying to locate a vamp girl. Nick thinks he can do whatever he wants, including murder. Ana is a detective who wanted to get away from vampires and instead ends up investigating a murder that puts her in their path. When they all collide, things get really messy...

What a fantastic and dark story!

I really enjoy this author's storytelling. She always introduces the reader to a seemingly average bunch of people who quickly become very interesting characters and grow on you so much, you can't wait to find out what happens next. Of course, throw in her very unique approach to genre fiction, and it's another winning combination.

What she does with vampires is amazing. There's so much of what we already know about these creatures of the night, but with a unique twist. I loved how the Mexican vamps trace back to the Aztecs, and how there's an animalistic quality to the different kinds. I especially liked what she did with Alt's kind. Such cool mythology and imagery. 

The story is told in the alternating POVs of five different characters. Two vampires, two adult humans and a teenager. Every single one feels different and moves the story along, slowly revealing what happened before we reached the current trouble, and why they're all in Mexico City even though vampires aren't supposed to be there.

I also thought the way the vampire folklore was explained within the narrative actually added to the story. I found Alt's narration interesting and liked her even though she was often so distant, bordering on cruel. And Domingo was such a sweetheart. The villains and the other sketchy characters were well written too.

Oh, and I liked Bernardino because he was ultra creepy and cool. And I can't forget Cualli because Domingo was right, he's the coolest dog. 😃 

Certain Dark Things is a near-future neon-noir story featuring vampires in an alternate version of Mexico City. It's gritty and violent, dark and captivating. Full of great characters that I either warmed to instantly, or disliked very much. The vision of this city and their way of life coupled with the vampire lore turned out to be an awesome experience. And the worldbuilding is fantastic!

I have to admit that Silvia Moreno-Garcia is fast becoming one of my favourites. Her books always hook me in and keep me captivated until the end. And this bittersweet ending really packed an emotional punch. 😣

Thank you so much, Hachette Australia for sending me a copy. 


Certain Dark Things, September 2021, ISBN 9781529415612, Jo Fletcher Books

Monday, 11 October 2021

IN DARKNESS DELIGHT: Fear the Future, edited by Andrew Lennon & Evans Light

Tomorrow is coming whether you're ready or not . . . 
Twenty-two strikingly original tales of terror from Bram Stoker Award®-winners, bestselling authors, genre stalwarts and rising stars.

Be warned: these are not science fiction stories with a dash of dread. These are visions of the horrifying futures that may await us all.

Humankind’s greatest fear is and will always be the unknown, dreading whatever gruesome horrors tomorrow may bring. The pain of the past is nothing when the worst is yet to come. The only thing you know for certain: it’s going to end badly.

In Darkness, Delight is an original anthology series revealing the many facets of modern horror — shocking and quiet, pulp and literary, cold-hearted and heart-felt, weird tales of spiraling madness alongside full-throttle thrillers. Open these pages and unleash all-new terrors that consume from without and within.
 

I received this anthology in the mail and it was a pleasant surprise. I mean, look at that cover! So, firstly, I want to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi & Corpus Press for sending me a copy. 😊

Now, here are my thoughts about each story: 

· AIRBORNE by Lisa Morton: What a great way to get this collection started. This shortie packs quite a punch. There's something affecting people and it might be a virus. Or maybe it's an entity. Either way, I was hooked from beginning to end, and enjoyed the freaky trip.

· ERR by Michael Laimo: A horrifying glimpse at a dystopian society where women can't fall pregnant but couples can find help at Chroma-Key. Yikes. What a disturbing future this very dark story presented. I also like how it combined a bunch of SF and horror subgenres to become quite the creepy tale. 

· DADDY'S GIRL by Ben Eads: Is an amazing story. OMFG. It all starts out so apocalyptic until the truth and the reality of the situation hits you upside the head. Wow. Such a powerful story because it's so sad and reminiscent of so much of what's wrong with our world. 😳

· HUSK by Marshall J Moore:  Is a sad and depressing one. It's also highly distressing. OMG. What this character goes through, how this new world is structured, and what is endured is truly captured in that ominous title. This was another highly disturbing and unnerving piece. I'm still squirming after this nightmarish experience. 😫

· WE HAVE NAMES, TOO by Michelle Muenzler: Is an android tale with a difference, and I enjoyed the hell out of it. I always find it sad that if humans did in fact create robots that look like us, the first thing they would do is abuse the poor things. The ethics of such a situation is intriguing and this is a great example of why.

· THE HAUNTING OF ASTEROID H111 by Van Aaron Hughes: Is such a fun and disorienting twist on the ghost story, in outer space. There's a bit of everything packed into this very dark adventure that toes the line between what's really happening and what's not. Great fun and features a terrific narrator!

· SHOULDA READ THE FINE PRINT, BLANCHE by Ben Lawrence: This is both terrifying and hilarious. The execution was brilliant as Blanche's deterioration grows, but the reason why cracked me up. Says a lot about humanity's never-ending quest to live forever. 👀 

· TRANSFERENCE by Jenn Hopkins: Oh! This is such a sad and creepy tale about a future able to offer withering bodies a better, much younger version. But as Leila finds out, nothing is as it seems... Great little paranoid tale.

· GAME OVER by Andrew Lennon: Takes playing video games to a whole new level of messed up. I understood what was really going on pretty early on, but it didn't make the realisation any easier to deal with. Yikes! 👀 

· SCHROEDINGER'S HEAD by Joanna Koch: Wow. This story turned out to be a highly imaginative, mind blowing experience. I've never read anything like this before, but found the weirdness charming and instantly warmed to Mr. Klein's surreal conundrum. The poor guy.

· LOCUSTS by Dominick Cancilla: Is a quick and terrifying tale of biblical proportions that is very well telegraphed by the title. There's also a creepy, tiny mystery that unfortunately gets answered by the end. Poor Arthur and Emma. 😩

· THE PAIN ADDICT by Penn Jillette: Is quite the disturbing little story about a doctor with good intentions turned bad, when his addiction to pain overshadows everything that's important. This was bloody messed up!

· THE SLUGGIE REBELLION by William Meikle: Here we have a creepy little tale about what happens when you try to expand your mind at the expense of another creature. It's a little bit Alien and a lot of fun!

· NOISE by Max Booth III: OMG, what a screwed up story about being plugged into technology permanently and what it does to one particular guy. All he wanted was to shut the noise off, instead he gets a very intense, nightmarish situation. 😳

· SEEKING HARMONY WITH THE INFINITE by Evans Light: This awesome doomsday story features a taste of salvation only to twist everything upside down before you realise what's going on. Wow. Powerful stuff.

· BILLY CAMPBELL'S BONES by Jason Washer: I found this to be a sad and tragic tale about what happens to Billy's bones and how it affects his life. It's morbid and kinda gross, but still one hell of a horrific story. I would laugh if everything about this wasn't SO messed up.

· SURVIVAL IS AN ACT OF SELFISHNESS by Frank Oreto: Such an unexpected and disturbing shortie full of vivid imagery, awful consequences for children, and a terrible future that could end at any minute. Sure, it was totally messed up, but I really enjoyed it.

· BOXED IN by CS Mergo: Is a hilarious look at what can happen when parcel deliveries get totally out of hand. Or don't stop coming and you just can't speak to an actual customer service person to tell them what the problem is. Made me cackle a few times, but it's still a very dark situation. 

· WHAT IT TAKES by Phil Sloman: Just another shocking example of what can happen when you try to take shortcuts in life. You have to put in the work, man. Otherwise, well, you'll have to read the story to know the worst thing that can happen... 

· NEUROWORM by Tim Curran: This turned out to be a gross and clever hacker's nightmare full of body horror and the sense of falling deeper into delirium. I was uncomfortable and grossed out, in the best way possible. And that ending! 😵

· AND THE WINNER IS... by Sheldon Higdon: This is a dark tale about a different kind of lottery full of glitz, glamour, excitement and... death. Yikes! 

· IF I DRIVE BEFORE I WAKE by Eric J Guignard: Is another highly imaginative nightmare of the future. This time, we're dealing with the horror of self-driving cars and it's not a pretty or relaxing sight. Yet, in spite of the horror, I found the writing to be lush and dreamy.

In Darkness, Delight: Fear the Future is an exciting and very dark anthology full of awesome stories that deal with a wide variety of SF horror tales, each with its own unique twist of both subgenres. The writing for every single tale was absolutely fantastic. It's also such a lovely physical book packed full of ominous goodies from a talented bunch of authors. 

This is guaranteed to satisfy both horror and SF fans. Seriously, it's awesome. There's something terrifying and awesome about all the stories within these pages.

One last thing I want to add is that if you're looking for light-hearted visions of our future, you won't find them here. This collection is bleak and deals with the harsher paths humanity might take. I mean, it is a horror book, after all. 😈




Sunday, 10 October 2021

WALL OF DOLLS is now available!


My first YA horror novel is now available from Otranto House
 
For generations, the women of the Lucas family have lived in the small town of Whenall, Massachusetts, at Raven House. They make dolls that they call wardens to protect the townsfolk, a long tradition that some might think holds no power, but a tradition that Whenall enjoys all the same.

​Quin is proud of her heritage, her cousin Beth, however, isn't interested in her position as the future family matriarch. The girls spend their time with their two closest friends, Henri and Al, with Beth always taking the lead, flirting with the boys and leading them into mischief. ​

One Halloween night, Al finds a Ouija board in the attic of Raven House, and Beth eagerly encourages them all to play with it, but Quin knows that these boards are not a game. Something was unleashed that Halloween night, and a year later, the girls will face the consequences. Can Quin stop them from being devoured by the evil force that spoke to them that night? The force that haunts the woods surrounding Whenall? With Henri by her side, she is sure as hell going to try... 


You can grab a copy from:



And it's available in paperback from all of the above places, as well as:


 
You can also:



I'm really excited about this book because it's been a long and winding road to get Quin's spooky Halloween tale published. Otranto House was a great place to publish my story because the editing process was a great experience and made the story even better.

Not to mention how cool the cover is. The cover design was done by Dan Harper and I think it fits the creepy vibes perfectly because dolls feature heavily in my story. It's cute, yet quite disturbing at the same time. And how cool is it to finally have a Ouija board on one of my covers? Very cool. 😁

Yay!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your time in Whenall... 😈


Wednesday, 6 October 2021

CRUEL FATE by Kelley Armstrong

 

Cruel FateCruel Fate by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED the Cainsville series and after really enjoying the first sequel novella, I was looking forward to checking this out.

Six months have passed since the last time we caught up with Olivia, Gabriel and Ricky. And now, her father is finally out of prison. But in Cainsville, there's always someone watching and waiting...

As soon as I started this novella, I knew I wasn't going to stop until I got to the end. And that's exactly what happened. I spent most of the day reading Liv's latest adventure and loved every minute of it.

This turned out to be another interesting mystery that puts our favourite trio in the thick of things because someone is trying to make sure that Todd Larsen's freedom doesn't last long. But they didn't count on his overprotective daughter and her tight network of friends and fae.

It was also awesome to see how Liv and Gabriel's relationship is going twelve months after they got together. I mean, Gabriel isn't the most affectionate person in the world and still struggles to deal/show emotion but he sure loves Liv, and really cares about Ricky. I just adore the way the connection between these three is portrayed.

Well, I'm really glad I decided to spend time in Cainsville because this mix of mysterious intrigue, mythology and horror is right up my alley. And since I've still got a collection full of stories, I can't wait to return. 😁

Sunday, 3 October 2021

THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan

 

The ArrivalThe Arrival by Shaun Tan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last weekend, along with The Rabbits, we found this book during one of our Street Libraries adventures. It's actually a book I've had my eye on for a while but never picked up, so this was the perfect find.

This gets another wow from me because it's absolutely stunning. There's not a single word in this sad and wonderful story of hope and discovery, but every detail is still portrayed so well in each individual piece of lovely artwork.

I absolutely loved how the hard trek of immigration is told through the lens of a fantastical world reminiscent of our own, but so very different. The imagined landscapes are a combination of past and future blended together with the spooky twist of monsters. And the smaller creatures, though they have monstrous qualities, are actually quite cute.

This is the powerful tale of a man who goes to a new city to establish himself so he can bring his family there too. And he finds so much more.

I think this is another beautiful Shaun Tan book that really stirred my emotions. Not just because I recognised so much of what the main character goes through via archive photos and footage I've seen myself, but because this imagined world is harsh and beautiful and filled with people I felt for every step of the way.

The sepia tone is perfect. As is the often terrifying visuals of this alien world.

Such an amazing and unique way to tell a heartfelt story. Absolutely stunning.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

THE RABBITS by John Marsden & Shaun Tan

 

The RabbitsThe Rabbits by John Marsden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We found this beauty in one of our local Street Libraries and couldn't leave it behind. I'm really glad we grabbed it because it's a great book!

Wow.

This story might be brief, but it packs quite the emotional punch. Not just because the artwork is lovely and totally authoritarian, but also because this is the story of the shameful and disgraceful colonisation that happened all over the world.

It captures the forceful way empires invaded indigenous lands, and the destruction they left in their wake. Not to mention how they had no respect for the land and ruined the environment.

This is seriously powerful stuff and told in a way that really hits you emotionally. Because how can anyone deny the sadness and anger of our history? And how it keeps repeating itself.

Such a clever way of simplifying our violent existence.

Loved this book!


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