Monday, 29 November 2021

THE SAD GHOST CLUB Volume 2 by Lize Meddings


Ever felt anxious or alone? Like you don't belong anywhere? Like you're almost... invisible? Find your kindred spirits at The Sad Ghost Club. (You are not alone. Shhh. Pass it on.)

When two strangers meet at a party and realise they both feel different from everyone else there, they start the The Sad Ghost Club - a secret society for the anxious and alone, a club for people who think they don't belong. 

But when a third ghost wants to join the club, things get a bit more complicated. Can the two ghosts overcome their insecurities and uncertainties in their new friendship, and find a way to welcome new members to the club?

At the beginning of this year I read a lovely book called, The Sad Ghost Club, about someone who was so lonely they were pretty much a ghost. And I just read the next installment in one sitting.

Sam and Socks met at a party neither would usually go to. They're so alike they decide to start a club for shy, lonely and anxious people just like them. So, they put up posters and hope someone will respond. But when someone does, new complications arise... 

Loved this! Like the first book, this is another lovely but very melancholy graphic novel. The story follows a new friendship between two lonely and very insecure people who find themselves falling into familiar cycles of anxiety and uncertainty almost instantly. The black and white illustrations enhance the essence of what's happening in every frame, on every page.

It was hard to watch Socks slide back into her insecurities and become exhausted by the effort getting to know anyone entails. It was nice to see Sam getting more confident and excited, but then lose himself in the prospect of more while almost forgetting what he just found. And it was nice meeting Rue, but sad to see her suffering too.

I really like how this series deals with these dark and consuming issues with so much care and attention. Magnifying the smallest of concerns to the point of exhaustion is how both Sam and Socks deal with life daily, hourly even. Learning to navigate these issues together makes them stronger and able to help others, even though it's a constant struggle. And I can definitely understand that.

The Sad Ghost Club, Volume 2 is a moving tale about what it feels like to be seen by someone after being invisible for so long. Sometimes, slipping back into unhealthy habits is a lot easier than daring to take the necessary steps to forge new friendships and this book captures all of those confused, erratic and fearful thoughts perfectly. 

Also, I still think that using ghosts to represent this state of mind is perfect. And the message was sweet too. 

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

The Sad Ghost Club, Volume 2, January 2022, ISBN 9781444957549, Hodder Children's Books

Thursday, 25 November 2021

PAYBACK'S A WITCH by Lana Harper


Payback's a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove, #1)Payback's a Witch by Lana Harper
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book sounded like the perfect read to me because I love witchy tales. But pretty early on, I realised it really wasn't. I wanted to love this story so much, but I was bored so often that I couldn't get into the swing of things. 😩

Emmy is a witch who returns to her hometown for an upcoming spellcasting tournament and finds so much more...

See, this sounds like something I would totally enjoy because there was witchy and Halloween vibes everywhere. But the tournament stuff was so dull I ended up skimming most of it. The romance between Emmy and Talia started out promising before that also paled eventually. And the interactions between characters didn't seem sincere.

I don't know. I really struggled to get through this. Really didn't click with this story and would probably have enjoyed it a lot more if the focus was mainly on the Emmy and Talia connection, rather than the yawnfest that was the tournament and the founder family politics.

The Halloweeny atmosphere was probably my favourite bit. But even that seemed to get crowded by too much of everything.

Oh well.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

Well, here I am again. How are you?

This week's NaNoWriMo post is a bit earlier because I reached The End yesterday. 

That's right. The first draft of STUCK is now DONE. Yay! 😁🎉 This makes me really happy. Not just because it's another NaNo to add to my list, but also because it feels great to complete a new novel after working hard on multiple revisions this year and not much else.

Anyway, here's how the word count went: 

Monday: 57,668 (added 5631w)
Tuesday: 61,162 (added 3494w)
Wednesday: 63,580 (added 2418w)

I  kinda/sorta wrote my way to the end of the story on Tuesday, but during my afternoon walk decided there were several things I needed to fix/rewrite. The imagery was so vivid, I had a blast changing things up for the better. I even added a short Prologue and two Epilogues. I'll only keep one, but had to write both because the scenes demanded to be written. Phew.

I also grabbed my Winner Certificate and badges from the NaNoWriMo website:

And these are the stats:

Plus the daily word counts:

BTW, this is the 15th time I've won NaNoWriMo! Cool.

Writing this story turned out to be quite a dark experience. There were a lot of weird things going on and these characters really surprised me with their complications and problems. There was enough drama and creepy stuff to fill the pages with horror, dread and ghostly situations.

I call this haunted house ghost story a mix between America Horror Story: Murder House and The Haunting of Hill House. And I enjoyed writing every wicked moment. 😈

Well, I suppose that's it for now. 

I'm looking forward to taking a few weeks off because my brain feels like mush. And I miss reading. I've been SO caught up in this story that I couldn't fit any others in. 😖 It happens every time, which is a good thing. LOL.

Hope you're all having an awesome week. See ya!


Friday, 12 November 2021

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

Well, the second week of NaNoWriMo is now over. At least, it is for me because I'll be taking the weekend off. I need a bit of time to get all my story thoughts in a row. LOL.

Oh, and guess what? Today I reached the 50k word target. And that means that I've completed my 15th NaNoWriMo. Yay!! 😃🎉

I'm really excited because this also means one of my November goals is now done. 

During NaNoWriMo month I usually have two goals. This is the first one, and my next goal will be to actually finish the first draft. I'm not sure how many words I have left to write, but I'm at that stage where I know everything that's up ahead, I just have to get there. That could end up being another 10, 15 or even 20k. I'm not sure but if I had to guess, I would say this draft will probably end up being either just below or just above 60k.

Anyway, here's my word count for the week:

Monday: 31,154 (added 5877w)
Tuesday: 36,277 (added 5123w)
Wednesday: 41,347 (added 5070w)
Thursday: 47,125 (added 5778w)
Friday: 52,037 (added 4912w)

As you can see, there were quite a few over 5k-word days. The stuff that's happening in this story is unfolding fast. There were quite a few surprises, additional complications, and events I was looking forward to adding. And some days I just couldn't stop writing until I chased the scene/s to the end.

This haunted house ghost story is turning out to be quite the weird little screwed-up tale. 👻 This cast of characters aren't good or bad, most have a bit of both but some come across much worse than others. And the main character has surprised me from the beginning because I was sure I knew all about her. As it turns out, I only knew what was on the surface. Getting below this surface is turning out to be quite the dark adventure.

I love this subgenre, so I'm having a blast writing my own.

You know, asides from all this writing, the only other stuff I've been doing is going for walks with hubby, yoga and playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It's such a fun and adorable game. 😁

Well, that's about it. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 5 November 2021

NaNoWriMo: Week One


Well, the first week of NaNoWriMo is over (for me) and I'm really happy with my progress.

This year, the very first day of November was a Monday, so that was a great way to start things off. Because by the time Friday (today) rocked around, I'd already squeezed in five days worth of writing. Yay! 😄

Anyway, here's the word count:

  • Monday: 4,416
  • Tuesday: 10,105 (added 5689w)
  • Wednesday: 14,301 (added 4196w)
  • Thursday: 20,788 (added 6487w)
  • Friday: 25,277 (added 4489w)   
This is definitely an awesome place to end the week.

I'm really surprised at how loud and ready this story turned out to be. As soon as I started typing, the characters spoke to me and everything that lay ahead slowly started to reveal itself. Some scenes were more vivid than others, but it wasn't hard to find the right path and embark on this dark journey.

Once I got past the first chapter, there were actually a lot of surprises. Things I hadn't expected, or planned for. Some things deepened the direction or introduced a different direction. I knew there were going to be familial problems, but didn't expect the relationship complications. This narrator is a little messed up. Hell, sometimes she's not very nice, but it all adds spice to the overall tale.

It's also quite weird, somewhat disorienting. There's plenty of weird shit going in inside and outside this creepy house, and I'm loving every minute of it.

I love getting this lost in a WIP.

So, that's about it for my first NaNoWriMo 2021 update. Since hubby's working this year, I'm back to taking the weekends off.

It'll make a nice mental break because between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and this first draft I'm working on... my brain is turning to mush. 😵

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 29 October 2021

NaNoWriMo is almost here...


Since I signed up the other day, I thought I'd write my annual National Novel Writing Month blog post. 😅

I've been taking part in NaNoWriMo for a long time. My first time was way back in 2006. 😯 This is something I make room for every year because I enjoy it so much. 

Actually, this year I made sure to leave November clear of any revision projects so I can write a new first draft.

Anyway, here's my history:
  • 2006: UF (Angie)
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey)
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue)
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful)
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight)
  • 2011: N/A
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows)
  • 2013: SFR (Dash)
  • 2014: UF (Willow)
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape)
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted)
  • 2017: YA SF Thriller (Cosmic Girl)
  • 2018: YA Horror (Madness)
  • 2019: SF Historical Horror (Neon)
  • 2020: Horror UF (Destiny)

As you can see, I only missed one year since I started. That was in 2011 because I was working on edits for my first Samhain Publishing novella release, and couldn't do both.

Another thing you might notice is that I've written drafts in a variety of genres, which is something I love to do. Ideas come to me all the time and if they're strong and interesting, I never turn one away because of genre.

I also take this opportunity to write stories for myself. You know, those ideas that you purely write because you want to read them. Yep. Those.

This year, I'll be working on a haunted house ghost story that has been bubbling inside my head for a while, but has become two tales blended into one. Plus other odd bits and pieces, too. It's going to be a claustrophobic horror story about a beautiful big house full of dark secrets and plenty of creep.

Asides from letting my thoughts run wild until I officially start on Monday, the NaNoPrep is done. I'm excited about this story because the characters are getting louder and the spooky level is giving me goosebumps. 😅

Have a happy weekend!

PS. If you wanna be buddies, I'm YolandaS. 😁

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



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

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