Friday, 22 July 2016

GIRL vs. BOY BAND: The Right Track by Harmony Jones

Girl vs. Boy Band
Talented but painfully shy Lark secretly writes feisty, heartfelt songs about school, crushes on boys, not getting along with her mum and missing her dad who lives in Nashville. But her songwriting becomes harder to keep secret when Lark's mother, a music record executive at her own label, announces that British boy band Abbey Road will be coming to live with them while they make their first album! 

 Sharing her L.A. house with three noisy, mischievous rising stars isn't as glamorous as she expected, especially when things aren't going smoothly with the band members. When one of them plagiarises one of Lark's songs and passes it off as his own, will she gain the courage to step into the spotlight herself?


I received this book from Bloomsbury Australia and, because I love to read all kinds of genres, I was looking forward to checking it out. Not to mention that the eye-catching cover is totally adorable!

Anyway, let's talk about the story.

Lark Campbell is a very shy thirteen-year-old girl with a bit of a secret. She loves to write songs, play her guitar and has a lovely singing voice. But the only person she shares these talents with is her best friend, Mimi. Who happens to be great with a camera. The two make music videos in Lark's lavish backyard, but keep it a secret. She's afraid to let her mother know she can actually sing because Lark has terrible stage fright. So bad that she passes out every time she sings in front of people.

Her musical gifts aren't a surprise though, because her father's a musician and her mother is building a record label in Los Angeles. Her parents recently split up, and while her dad still lives in Tennessee when he's not touring, she's stuck in LA. No matter how many months go by, she still feels homesick. But luckily, her mother's busy building her label and soon embarks on a crazy idea that involves bringing a boy band from England to America.

The thought of living with loud boys who like to fight, eat all the food and hog the bathroom doesn't sound ideal to Lark. But as she gets to know the boys, she soon realises that they're not that bad. Well, until one of them betrays her.

When Lark agrees to help her crush, Teddy, by performing with him at the upcoming school talent show, she finds her attitude changing. Which leads to her committing to her greatest fear: performing a song she wrote in front of the whole school...

I seriously didn't know what to expect from this book, but I loved it! It's a great middle grade story about a girl whose crippling fear of performing overshadows her talent almost as much as she misses the life she shared with her parents when they were together. Lark is an easy character to like. She's a nice girl with an awesome bestie--Mimi is seriously cool and clever--and is always willing to help anyone who needs her.

The British boys were also great characters. I love their band name and the significance: Abbey Road. And especially liked how different each guy was. Proving that they are all much more than just cute boys with good voices. They're all teenagers with the same problems.

Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track is a fun and clever story about a talented girl who has to accept her new life before being able to overcome her own shyness and fear. There are plenty of cool surprises along the way. Plus, this book is super cute! It might feature a young musician with an uncanny talent for music, but her growing pains are familiar and apply to everyone.

I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens after the exciting talent show!


Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track, July 2016, ISBN 9781408868546, Bloomsbury Childrens

END OF WATCH by Stephen King

Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the 'Mercedes Massacre' when a queue of people were run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield. 

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room. 

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill's heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city. 

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways ...


I'm a huge Stephen King fan. Plus I loved the first two books in the Bill Hodges Trilogy--Mr Mercedes and Finders Keepers--so I couldn't wait to read the third and last book.

Bill Hodges is a retired cop and, along with Holly Gibney, runs a firm they call Finders Keepers. So when Bill gets a call from his ex-partner about what appears to be a murder-suicide, they find more than they bargained for. The quadriplegic victim allegedly killed by her mother was one of the many people mowed down by the disgusting Brady Hartsfield during the Job Fair at City Center six years earlier.

But something doesn't add up, and when Holly finds a strange game device in the home, they find themselves thrust into an impossible scenario. It appears that Brady, the heartless Suicide Prince, is somehow orchestrating something big from his bed in Room 217 at the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. Which makes no sense, since Brady is technically a vegetable: a useless husk of a man who can't do anything for himself. That doesn't stop the ward from circulating stories about strange, unexplained things happening around him. 

With the body count rising and the risk of a suicide epidemic to mark Brady's revenge and hunger for hurting others, Bill and Holly enlist Jerome to investigate what's going on. But Bill has other problems to worry about. His time might be running out, in more ways than one...

OMG. Stephen King is such an amazing storyteller! As soon as I started reading, I was sucked into this heart-stopping book. Every page pulled me deeper into this intricate story. So much that I didn't want to put the book down. King has an incredible way of tricking us readers into thinking we're reading a simple, straightforward story... then throws us into a tailspin. Every single time I turned the page, I was both nervous and excited to find out what was coming next.

Let's talk about the characters. I loved Bill, Holly and Jerome so much that I was dreading what might happen to them all the way through. I didn't want anything bad to happen to any of them. But Brady was on the opposite side of the spectrum. I hated him with the power of a thousand suns. I wanted him to die a horrible death, didn't want to share the page with him as his insane story unfolded. He's despicable. An awful excuse for a human being.

Yeah, King writes characters who become real people.

End of Watch was the perfect end to an intriguing, thrilling trilogy. Like the first two books, I was on the edge of my seat and enjoyed the ride all the way to The End. The last 50 pages are an amazing, fast-paced nightmare that leads to a very satisfying, yet sad ending. I saw it coming, but it didn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. I also enjoyed the messed up supernatural angle added to this story.

Stephen King, you've done it again! 


End of Watch, June 2016, ISBN 9781473634015, Hodder & Stoughton

Monday, 18 July 2016

A Writing Decision


Hey! How's everyone doing? I'm good at the moment, though I wish hubby was still on break. He took a week off from work recently so he could spend my birthday with me. It was really nice and relaxing, but I feel sad that he had to go back. :(

Anyway. I made a decision a few weeks ago. One that might surprise some authors/readers. But I feel is right for me right now.

A few months ago I posted a sad and confusing blog post about what would happen with the last unpublished book I had contracted with Samhain Publishing after they closed their doors.

I ended up getting my rights back for RAISING SOME HELL, but it left me feeling bittersweet. The thought of having this particular book homeless and separated from the others was very disappointing.

There were several reasons why I was upset about the book not being published:

  • Willow's book is one I really wanted to share because the story takes place five years after A STITCH ON TIME.
  • This happens to be the final book in the Elsewhere duology.
  • The kick-ass cover was perfect.
  • I was hoping the whole series would be published in one place.
  • I didn't know what to do with a book that continues the story of an already established UF series.

The above are all very relevant reasons to be concerned and upset. So when I found out that Samhain Publishing is not closing after all, it got me thinking...

I suddenly wondered if it might be a good idea to consider re-submitting RSH to Samhain... I mean, the other books in the series are already there. After some serious thought and several chats with hubby, I decided that it was definitely something worth doing.

So... I dit it! I've re-signed a contract for RAISING SOME HELL! Placing RSH with Samhain Publishing is the right thing for this book and series.

Willow's story is back on. I don't have a new release date. I don't know if the cover will be the same. I'm not even sure when the next step will happen. But to be honest, I'm in no rush. I'm just happy to have made this decision.

I know that Samhain's sudden No Longer Closing announcement has stirred very mixed reactions. But for this particular book, staying with them just makes sense. I hope that the company gets back on track and re-establishes the reputation it carried for so many years. It would be a real shame if it didn't.

So, there you have it: a real writing update.  :)

I'll be sure to post more as I get the details. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

DECEPTIONS by Kelley Armstrong


Last year I reviewed the third book in the awesome Cainsville series for Hachette Australia.

This year, the paperback will be released from Penguin Random House.


Olivia Taylor Jones’s life has exploded. She’s discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town’s mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancĂ©. 

 Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?


To celebrate the release, I thought I'd post my review again...


I really enjoyed the first two books in the Cainsville series, so I was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next.

Olivia Taylor-Jones has been through a lot of weird stuff since she found out she wasn't the biological daughter of the privileged Chicago family who raised her. Her parents are actually convicted serial killers, and are both in prison. But that's not all that's turned her life upside down. She can see omens, and has recently started to have visions which are taking a huge toll on her sanity and body. Yet, these are visions that she must allow to happen if she wants to find out the truth about Cainsville, her heritage, and if the Larsens really did commit the horrible crimes they were imprisoned for.

That's made harder by the fact that there are mysterious, dark forces at play. Creatures from the old world who are playing games and/or causing chaos in her life, and in the lives of the people she cares about. Not to mention that her ex-fiancé has become a seriously creepy stalker, and that her friendship with Gabriel seems to go through so many ups and downs she's not sure if they're okay half the time.

At least she's got Ricky. The biker and all-round nice guy who is fun, attentive and respectful. The one person who is not involved in all the craziness in her world and can make her forget about everything. Until she finds out that he's also involved in the sequence of events two different sides of the fae coin are trying to play out. 

This book was just as good as the two before it. Not only does it delve even deeper in the fae side of things so that we start to understand exactly who Olivia is and why the fae want things to happen a certain way, but we also get to find out a lot of truths. Of course, there are a bunch of deceptions laid out along the way, and some even threaten to drive Olivia insane. But what I really liked was that her visions have led to a place of understanding, so she can finally realise how important both Gabriel and Ricky are to her. 

Plus we finally get to find out the truth about her biological parents. Yikes! Didn't see that coming. 

Deceptions is another intriguing instalment in this thrilling series. I love how easily Kelley Armstrong is able to hook me into her stories and keep me glued there until bits and pieces of the bigger picture are slowly revealed. She's also created a fascinating trio with a very interesting angle. And I particularly love how she mixed so much myth, folklore and preternatural elements into an excellent thriller. 

The only thing I missed was Cainsville and its mysterious residents, which did make an appearance but were mostly in the background this time around. 

Still, I'm definitely looking forward to finding out more.


Here are the buy links for the paperback:

Amazon  


Happy reading!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Q&A with Sophie Hardcastle


Today I have a guest on my blog.  

Sophie Hardcastle is a young Australian author. I had the chance to read her debut YA adult novel and loved it. So when Hachette Australia asked if I'd be interested in doing a Q&A, I jumped at the chance.


Hi Sophie, congratulations on your first fiction book release, and thank you for stopping by.

Grace and Ben aren't just brother and sister, they're twins. I'm curious, what made you write a story about fraternal twins?

I started writing a version of this book when I was fourteen. At the time, I was skating and surfing every day with the boys in my neighbourhood. I hung out with girls at school, my best friend was a lot like Mia, but on the weekend and after school, I spent most of my time hanging out with boys. They were some of my best friends, so I think writing a character that was, in many ways, one of the boys came naturally to me. I had always wanted a twin brother growing up. My sister has always and will always be my best friend, but I thought it would be awesome to have a twin brother to go surfing with. Writing this story at fourteen, I almost experienced what it’s like to have a twin brother, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever.


I've read that you spent some time in Bali while writing this book. Is that true? And if it is, what made you take such a step instead of writing the story in Australia?

The early version of this book was called Horizons. When I returned to it after writing Running Like China, I realised my fourteen-year-old self had known nothing about life, love or death so I left it in the cupboard and decided to write a story based loosely on the original. By this point, I’d fallen in love and understood how terrifying, heartbreaking and beautiful it is. In a way, you could also say I’d experienced loss when I became mentally ill and lost myself for a long time. But I don’t think I’d ever experienced loss and longing the way Grace had. I’d obviously never wish the events she experiences on myself, but I wanted to get as close to the feeling as I could. I decided to remove myself from the people I loved to see how it felt to truly yearn for someone. I put an entire ocean between us and felt the weight of that distance. Missing my love made my feel small, like the earth was getting bigger, pulling apart, like the sky was endless. He felt impossibly far away.

By chance, I also had to come off my medication after a toxic reaction and my emotions spiraled out of control. I experienced some of my deepest depressions and highest highs and I had no one around to help me get my bearings. Some days were so god dam awful, but when I came back to Australia, I had a wide breadth of emotional experience to draw on. It helped me to connect emotionally with my characters.


The surfing angle is very vivid, are you a surfer yourself? Or is surfing just something that captured your imagination?

I learnt to surf when I was four-years-old and was out surfing by myself on my fiberglass board by the time I was ten-years-old. Growing up, I surfed most mornings, most afternoons and all weekend. I couldn’t get enough. Surfing is unlike anything else, you’re part of something greater than yourself. You learn to read the waves and move in sync with the swells. It’s a love affair with something so powerful it has the potential to drown you, but also the promise to liberate you.


There were times during Grace's story that I didn't like her very much. She was totally spiralling out of control and frustrated me so much. Which was great, btw, because it's probably the emotion her actions were supposed to invoke. So my question is: did you do this on purpose? Or did Grace's actions develop while you wrote the story?

The part I enjoy most about my writing is when the story writes itself. My characters came to life for me in the second or third chapter and took control of their own lives. I feel like I know them as friends, and I have so much compassion and time for each and every one of them. I’d like to take credit for the emotions Grace’s actions invoked for you but the truth is, I feel like she did that all on her own.


And finally, what's next for you? Are you currently working on a new book?

I’ve just started working on my next YA novel. It is also set in Australia, which I’m really excited about. I’m only two chapters in and I’m still trying to get to know my protagonist. I don’t think I can give too much away, but I will say this…

Grace learnt to read the swells on the sea.

My new character learns to read the wind on Open Ocean.


---

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A as much as I did. Also, I can't wait to find out more about Sophie's new story. It sounds interesting!

I'd once again like to say thank you to Sophie for stopping by today and answering all my questions. I look forward to reading more of her books. Plus, a huge thank you goes to Hachette Australia for sending me an ARC and passing on my questions. :)

BREATHING UNDER WATER will be released tomorrow!


Friday, 1 July 2016

THE SUFFERING by Rin Chupeco


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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading The Girl from the Well, I knew I'd be interested in the sequel. And since it's a duology, and I usually find myself procrastinating the last few books in a series, I decided to get stuck into it as soon as I could. Lol.

A few years have passed since Tark and Okiku formed an alliance. They've been hunting child killers and awful men who kill the innocent and slip through the cracks. It's really sad because every kid they kill is forever stuck to them, their spirits not free to move on. So what Tark and Okiku do isn't just justice, it also allows these souls to move on.

Tark also helps a few kids at school with their supernatural problems. He's still mostly seen as the weird guy, but manages to catch the eye of one girl.

However, things start getting serious when during one of his many trips to Japan with his cousin Callie, he ends up going into Aokigahara--Japan's 'suicide forest'. Their close friend, Kagura has gone missing while helping an American ghost hunting crew. Because what is waiting for them in the middle of this forest is an awful curse that threatens to tear them apart.

Okay. I started out enjoying this book as much as the first one. I loved the fact that some of it would take place in the mysterious Aokigahara forest, but was disappointed that most of that time was spent on the cursed Aitou village trying to understand and end the curse that killed all its residents.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the creepiness of the Aitou vengeful ghosts and even the mystery and myth surrounding it, but I don't know... I guess I expected more time spent outside of it. And I also think that the book really could've ended a few chapters before it did. Some stories just shouldn't have a happy ending. If that makes any sense.

Anyway. In the end, I did enjoy Tark's voice and I've got a soft spot for Okiku, so I'm really glad I read this. Not to mention that it's very well written, and full of creepy imagery.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

SOMEBODY STOP IVY POCKET by Caleb Krisp

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket
Ivy is now the beloved daughter of Ezra and Mother Snagsby, coffin makers, even if she does have to work rather like a maid. Their trade is roaring, and Ivy is as happy as a pig in clover. Especially when she escapes to the library to talk to the devastatingly sympathetic Miss Carnage. 

 But then Ivy guesses that all is not as it seems with her new parents, and discovers that she can pass into the world of the Clock Diamond. There, she sees her friend Rebecca, horribly sad and desperate.  
Can Ivy save Rebecca, and what do a missing aristocrat, a forbidden love affair and a bullfrog have to do with her mission? 


Last year, thanks to Bloomsbury Australia, I got the chance to read a super fun ARC for the first book in this series. So I couldn't wait to read more.

Ivy Pocket is a very resourceful twelve-year-old orphan who has odd remedies for just about every ailment. She's also the keeper of the Clock Diamond, which means she can see past, present and future visions. Plus she just found out she can also travel into another world. She has a sharp tongue, is very clever but can sometimes be quite clueless about what's right in front of her.

Oh, and she's now got parents.

The Snagsby couple make coffins for a living and have a pretty modest business. Although Ivy is expected to clean around the house, read somber poems to those on their deathbeds and her bedroom door is locked at night, she's still very happy to finally be part of a family. She's always keen to help, but manages to get distracted by other things.

When a woman approaches her and starts asking questions about her missing brother, Ivy starts digging around and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Because the Snagsby couple are at the centre of a pretty big secret, something that leads back to Ivy. Of course, when it comes to Ivy Pocket, there are always other problems at hand and now she's got a friend to rescue, some bizarre texts to learn from, a familiar pesky ghost to deal with, and another even more dangerous woman to dodge.

Can Ivy make it out unscathed, or will she be forced to accept that she can't always save the day?

OMG. This story is awesome! I was hooked as soon as I started. Seeing Ivy settled into a family was a lovely surprise that slowly soured when the secrets start to rise to the surface. The Snagsbys aren't very nice people and certainly take Ivy for granted. No matter what they do they can't outsmart her, which can be very frustrating for them and very entertaining for us.

Where in the first book her constant insults were often cringe-worthy, I loved them this time around. :)

Just like the first book, the strong female presence is very impressive. There are so many amazing, interesting women and girls. The level of cunning and manipulation featured in these female characters is balanced out by the generous and cleverness of others.

Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket is a charming and super fun book! It's zany and packed with so many intriguing mysteries that I didn't want to put it down. The comical dialogue, hilarious antics and Ivy's fibs kept me amused and laughing out loud throughout, but the story also takes some pretty dark and dangerous turns. A lot of new and old characters collide in this book, and most of them are greedy manipulators who want to take advantage of our brave heroine. Luckily, our Ivy Pocket doesn't scare easy and can pretty much get herself out of anything.

The illustrations add to the story. I love the cute, bright cover. And the book is just so darn pretty. Yep. I loved everything about it.

I honestly didn't think I could love the next installment more than the first, but I did!

Bring on the next Ivy Pocket adventure because after that ending, I seriously can't wait to see what happens next.


Somebody Stop Ivy Pocket, June 2016, ISBN 9781408858677, Bloomsbury Childrens

Saturday, 25 June 2016

BREATHING UNDER WATER by Sophie Hardcastle

Nineteen minutes and eleven seconds separated us at birth. On the official documentation, he is older . . . Although it really has nothing to do with age. What it really means is that I am, and have always been, second.

Ben and Grace Walker are twins. Growing up in a sleepy coastal town it was inevitable they'd surf. Always close, they hung out more than most brothers and sisters, surfing together for hours as the sun melted into the sea. At seventeen, Ben is a rising surf star, the golden son and the boy all the girls fall in love with. Beside him, Grace feels like she is a mere reflection of his light. In their last year of school, the world beckons, full of possibility. For Grace, finishing exams and kissing Harley Matthews is just the beginning.

Then, one day, the unthinkable. The sun sets at noon and suddenly everything that was safe and predictable is lost. And everything unravels.


I received a lovely ARC of this book from Hachette Australia, and got stuck into it this week.

Grace and Ben Walker are twins. They live on the coast and are very close. The twins also love the ocean. Both of them are great surfers, but Ben is so good he's got sponsors and wins competitions. Grace has always lived in his shadow, coasted while he shone like a star.

When the new boy in school catches her eye, she can't believe someone isn't blinded by Ben's charisma and sees more in her than a small, skinny girl. After an awful incident happens to her best friend and seems to bring the group together, a horrifying tragedy strikes. Something that darkens Grace's world so much she loses herself when she was supposed to be concentrating on her last year of high school.

The fallout affects everyone, and threatens to drown all of them...

Wow. This book is heavy. It's written in a unique lyrical style, and I particularly loved the way the Australian way of life is captured so well you can pretty much feel it. The surfing scenes were also exciting, fun and very vivid. Oh, and be prepared to get hungry while reading this book because the Walker family makes some delicious meals.

This isn't an easy book to read because it starts out like an average YA--a group of friends who hang out together, love to joke around and are in their last year of school. Then before you realise what's happening, everything gets turned upside down and the reader totally wipes out.

I also have to admit that while I really liked Grace at the beginning, I had a hard time liking her as she loses total control of her life and does some very stupid things with drugs, alcohol and boys. But having said that, of course it made sense. Grace loses everything that made her life awesome, so not caring about anything or anyone makes total sense.

Breathing Under Water is such an emotional and heartbreaking book. It introduces the reader to happy, laidback teenage twins whose life shatters much too early. It's also a journey into how one teenager handles grief, while watching those she loves collapse around her. And how she needs to drown in sadness before being able to find even a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

I really enjoyed this story. And don't forget: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. ;)


Breathing Under Water, July 2016, ISBN 9780733634857, Hachette Australia

Friday, 24 June 2016

Now Leaving Revision City


Next stop: Reading Town. 

Yep. That's right. 

After two-weeks of proofreading--what I'm now calling KMH--I've finally reached The End. Yay!

And yes, I'm as happy as my Miitomo. :D

I can't believe this novel is finally done. I spent the beginning of the week fine-tuning and making the last few tweaks to the story before FINALLY calling it DONE. And now it's waiting for my daughter to (beta) read during her school holidays. I hope she likes it, because she's been wanting to read this story since it was nothing more than an idea and the beginning of the first chapter.

There are a few things that make this story a special-kinda accomplishment for me. The story idea came to me while listening to one of my most fave songs. I wrote it during NaNoWriMo. It was the story that got me out of my writing slump after several publishing-related knocks last year. There are a few biographical incidents weaved into the mostly fictional narrative. I included a bunch of historical 80s events in it. It's a straight-out coming of age love story with no supernatural elements at all.

Yeah. As you can probably tell, I'm really happy with how this book turned out. When my daughter reads it, I'll plan my next move... but for now, I'm super excited about finishing this project.

So, what's next? I need a serious mental break. Which is very convenient since hubby will have annual leave during the first week of July, and my daughter has a two-week winter break around the same time.

For now, I'm going to concentrate on reading (my review TBR pile is insane!) because I haven't read a single book for OVER TWO WEEKS. *gasp* I also want to take care of a few things I've put off while caught up in my revision frenzy. Yeah, there might be a to-do list involved. LOL.

I have to admit that I'm actually (really) excited about brainstorming and thinking about the project/s that I'd like to tackle next. There are a few ideas that have caught my attention, but I want to concentrate on dreaming about them and browsing for inspirational pics, etc. before committing to any. Plus, I'd love to explore a few short stories. It's been a long time since I've written a short story. Too long, actually.

So many possibilities. :)

I'm excited about putting my concentration on the writing and ideas, instead of the publishing side of things. I'm still not sure about what road I'm going to take when it comes to getting my stories out there, but that's something to consider some other day.

Anyway, I've got an ARC to read, so: See ya!

Friday, 3 June 2016

THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I might have a bunch of review books to read, but today I grabbed my Paperwhite and read this one. I've been curious about this story for ages, and as soon as I started... well, I couldn't put it down.

Okiku is an old ghost. A lonely soul who has been around for hundreds of years and is documented in Japenese folklore. She might have died in a well, a victim intent on getting revenge, but she's now free to roam wherever she wants. And what she does is find the scum of the Earth who kill children and keep them trapped. She avenges the deaths of these innocent kids and helps release their trapped spirits.

And that's how Tark catches her eye. He's a teenager with strange tattoos on his arms, a father trying to find a better life for them, and a mother who's institutionalised because she keeps trying to kill him. He's also got a cousin called Callie. Okiku finds herself following these two kids and even keeps them safe from human monsters, as well as the demonic kind.

I loved this story! It's told in a very unique way: through the POV of the dead Okiku, as she watches and enacts her kind of justice. The imagery in this book is so cool. It's certainly creepy and delves deeply into the world of spirits, ghosts and demons. I enjoyed seeing her balance her own 'job' with helping Tark and Callie.

While there are some horrific things that happen in this book, I wasn't as freaked out as I thought I might be. But hey, I've been a horror fan for decades, so it takes a lot to scare me. Still, I definitely felt the creepy vibes here, and got a kick out of them!

I'm glad I've already got the companion book on my Kindle. :)

Thursday, 2 June 2016

A Break During Revision


Can you believe it's June?! And what's even worse is that winter has finally arrived. I can no longer get away with wearing a tee during my morning walk, and that makes me sad. It's back to jackets, jumpers and raincoats. Ugh.

So, in last week's post I mentioned that I would spend this week reading through my WIP. But then, over the weekend I decided not to do that. To give myself more distance from the story, I decided to instead take this week off as well. 

Then I ended up doing some tweaking: searching/replacing overused words, adding an ongoing thread for a forgotten character, and making sure to cross off all major points from my revision list.

When I do the read-thru, I really just want it to be about reading the story from start to finish to make sure everything makes sense. I'll be looking out for typos, missing words, and overall inconsistencies. Hopefully I won't find too much there, but when dealing with a historical, I probably will.

BTW, after the tweaks, the word count has once again crept into 100k territory. Oh well. I don't care. Whatever it takes to get the story across is cool with me. But I don't want to touch the ms at all until then.

Instead, I've been sorting through some random stuff, which includes trying to figure out what review book to read next. I HAVE SO MANY! O_o

Speaking of reviews, I read two AWESOME books last week:


I wanted to mention these two books because I LOVED both of them for completely different reasons. GoF is such a messed up, twisty tale about the power of obsessive female friendship set during the early 1990's. TLoDB is a beautiful tale of forbidden love between two starcrossed teenagers on-board a spaceship.

Like I said, very different stories but awesome in their own way. They're already on my Keeper Shelf. There's just something really special about reading a book you love so much that you keep thinking about it long after you're finished. Love that!

Anyway. That's about it for now. I just hope that the weather picks up a bit, because these dark and dreary rainy days totally suck.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

THE BOMBS THAT BROUGHT US TOGETHER by Brian Conaghan

The Bombs That Brought Us Together
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. 

Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town's rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There's a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy. 

 Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will ...


I received the hardback version of this book from Bloomsbury Australia, and thought the cover was both bright and disturbing. I mean, check out the bombs! :/

Regardless, it's a really nice book. I'm kinda fussy about hardbacks, and really liked the look of this one.

Charlie Law lives in Little Town with his parents. Little Town borders the Old Country, and the two don't get along. The Regime in Little Town is strict and delivers harsh penalties to those who steal or break curfew. Charlie's a good boy: he goes to school, likes to read and stays off the radar, but when refugees from Old Country move in next door and Charlie befriends Pavel Duda, he's determined to teach him the lingo and keep him safe. Because there are a lot of people eager to make the Duda family feel unwelcome.

Charlie's mother has asthma, so he's always eager to help by walking several miles to get her inhaler. But when Old Country decides to attack Little Town and then soldiers move in, Charlie makes a few decisions that lead him down a very dangerous path...

This is such a unique book. Even after reading the blurb I wasn't sure what the genre was, but once  I got stuck into the story there was no denying that it's a dystopian book.

The people of Little Town aren't just in constant fear of what the neighbouring Old Country will do next, they're also oppressed by their own Regime. Everyone lives under the watchful eye of the Big Man, and anyone who breaks the rules either suffers the punishment or ends up owing him. Yeah, it's not a fair life.

The Bombs That Brought Us Together is an interesting, yet disturbing book. Interesting, because the friendship angle is done very well. Charlie is ferocious about helping his friend. And disturbing because the town is run by a man who knows how to keep people down, as well as put children in situations where they become indebted to him.

I also found the writing style to be as unique as Charlie's voice.


The Bombs That Brought Us Together, May 2016, ISBN 9781408855744, Bloomsbury Childrens

 
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