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Thursday, 22 July 2021

MR CABLES by Ronald Malfi

 

Mr CablesMr Cables by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After finishing Stephen King's latest chunky book, hubby suggested I read something shorter. He actually suggested this book, which he surprised me with on the weekend!

Wilson Paventeau is a best-selling horror novelist. The day he crosses paths with a book featuring his name on the cover, one he didn't write, he's consumed with the mystery and is determined to figure out what's going on. No matter where it leads him...

Wow. This turned out to be quite a fast and spooky read. The kind of book that grabs you from the first sentence and consumes you until you reach The End because it's so intriguing.

Much like what happens in the novella. 😳

I enjoy stories that focus on the creative process and give it a creepy spin. Because writing really is one of those mysterious experiences that carries you away and... Anyway. Back to this gem with the perfect cover.

Loved it!

It's got the right amount of dread staining every page. The mystery kept me glued until everything was revealed. The revelation is shocking because it's callous and really awful. Plus, the creativity behind this idea is absolutely genius. Fantastic!

I'm looking forward to reading more Malfi, that's for sure.

Friday, 16 July 2021

KITTY SAVES THE WORLD by Carrie Vaughn

 

Kitty Saves the World (Kitty Norville, #14)Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, there was no more putting it off. I've reached the fourteenth book in the very awesome Kitty Norville series, which also happens to be the FINAL BOOK! 😳

Kitty's feeling on edge and can't shake the darkness she feels closing in. But it looks like Cormac and Amelia have figured out a way to trap Roman before he gets started. Yet, it can't be this easy to defeat an ancient vampire determined to destroy the world...

Wow. Yep.

This is how you end a beloved series.

Starting the last book in one of my favourite series is always both exciting and sad. Exciting because I can't wait to see how everything turns out, but sad because I'll miss these characters and their world once it's over.

At least I still have two short story collections and a novella, set in Kitty's world, left to read.

The melancholy mood of this book is there from the get-go. As soon as Kitty's story starts, there's a blanket of darkness hanging over everything, threatening to overwhelm her. And this really sets the scene, makes sure the reader's instantly on edge. I kept waiting for Roman and/or his followers to storm in at any moment. Couldn't turn the page fast enough to find out what was going to happen next.

It was awesome to catch up with so many characters that were introduced in previous books and now turned up for the final battle! I also didn't realise how much I missed Rick until we caught up with him again.

This is the perfect ending to an outstanding series featuring an amazing cast of characters, and a fantastic heroine. I love Kitty. She's always been smart, brave, tough, kind and proved that some battles are won with brains rather than brawn. She's always let her heart lead the way and it was such a wonderful quality. Sure, sometimes it got her in trouble, but it was always worth it.

I couldn't wipe the smile off my face during the last few chapters because they were SO GREAT.

I seriously LOVED THIS BOOK.

Having said that, it's still bittersweet because now it's over. 😃+😫

Thursday, 15 July 2021

THE MISFORTUNE COOKIE by Laura Resnick

 

The Misfortune Cookie (Esther Diamond, #6)The Misfortune Cookie by Laura Resnick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been a while, so it was definitely time to catch up with the Esther Diamond series.

Esther's finally got her job back at Bella Stella and is enjoying a shift during New Year's Eve, when the OCCB—led by the guy who failed to call her after an intimate Christmas Eve together—busts a bunch of mob guys and even arrest her. After that, she has no job, her money is disappearing, the weather is miserable and she can't stop thinking about Lopez. Lucky for her, she's about to fall into some trouble in Chinatown...

This started out like every other one in this series: a hilarious and mystical ride. But somewhere along the line, something happened. The usual fun factor started to fade a little because the magical mystery wasn't as exciting as it usually is. Actually, it really wasn't much of a mystery, tbh.

I don't know why, but all the characters seemed a little off in this book. Like they were mere shadows of themselves and didn't shine with their usual zany charm.

I'm all for relationship drama in all genres because it adds an extra level of complication to a story, but even I have to admit that what goes on in this installment is off the charts. I know Esther's an actress, but gosh, this was too much. I really wish these two would make up their minds already and stick to on or off. I mean, are they a thing or not? Will they or won't they? Maybe one day they'll choose one path. Hopefully.

Otherwise, what's going to happen is that everything that made their romantic mishaps funny and cute, will get old and boring. Because I was in fact, mostly bored by their ongoing problems and they started to feel silly to me.

Anyway, I liked the location of Chinatown and how Esther always manages to find herself in the middle of new problems and takes Max and Nelli along for the ride. She even lands another dead-end acting gig and meets new people via the mobster-in-hiding, Lucky.

Not too much excitement in this one. It lacked the usual suspenseful thrills. There was definitely too much padding and excess stuff that made this book drag in sections. And I'm starting to think that this Esther and Lopez thing has to end or it's going to doom a great series.

Hope the next book is back to speed!

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

THE HOME by Mats Strandberg

 

Once inseparable, Joel and Nina haven't spoken in twenty years.

When Joel's mother Monika develops dementia, he has no choice but to return to his home town. Monika needs specialist care, and that means Pineshade - which also means Joel is going to have to deal with his one-time best friend, for Nina works there.

It's not long before Monika's health deteriorates - she starts having violent, terrifying outbursts, and worse, she appears to know things she couldn't possibly know. It's almost as if she isn't herself any more . . . but of course, that's true of most of the residents at Pineshade. 

Only Nina and Joel know Monika well enough to see the signs; only by working together can they try to find answers to the inexplicable . . .



This book sounded intriguing and the cover is super creepy too, so I was very keen to check it out.

Joel has returned home to help settle his mother's affairs. Unfortunately, that includes putting her into a nursing home called Pineshade. Nina works at Pineshade and hasn't got the best of marriages. When her childhood best friend's mother comes to Pineshade, she starts remembering a lot from their teenage past. At the same time, strange things start to happen at work...

Oooooooh. This is such a menacing and dark horror tale. I really enjoyed this. A lot! 

Asides from the darkness slowly creeping up in the background in the most unexpected way possible, this is about severed family ties, destroyed friendships, and the burdens people carry with them. It's also a grim look at the sheer cruelty of the aging process, especially the way that dementia dehumanises a person. To the point of not being able to recognise if there's a dark entity attacking them, or if it's just this horrifying disease.

It's so sad. And this book manages to weave the uncomfortable reality of dementia with a wicked thread of horror fiction.

I liked how the horror is presented in a very human way. Not just in the rawness of how awful the existence of the residents is, no matter how nice or thorough the caregivers attempt to be, but also in the hard lives of the main characters. 

Joel is a very hard guy to like. He's an addict, continually lies to everyone—including himself—has many secrets, and is desperate to get through the terrible experience of dealing with his mother. But as the story moves along, it becomes quite obvious that there's so much more to him and I actually enjoyed watching him grow.

Nina is a very sympathetic woman and I liked her instantly. She truly cares about her job and the old people in her care. The problem is that she's let her past dictate what/who she is and she's given up on personal comfort/happiness. Has settled and accepts the bare minimum affection when she deserves more. Her journey was very interesting.

There are a lot of different elements that bring this book together, and help deepen this very disturbing and suspenseful story.

The Home turned out to be a wicked surprise, in the darkest and most atmospheric way possible. It's eerie and packed with a bunch of interesting but broken people I couldn't help but like. The malicious angle is a slow burn on the shadowy edges of the narrative that builds until the pressure is too much and totally explodes into a shocking conclusion. 😲 

Loved this twist on one of my favourite tropes! 

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



The Home, August 2020, ISBN 9781529402162, Jo Fletcher Books

Thursday, 8 July 2021

LOW MIDNIGHT by Carrie Vaughn

 

Low Midnight (Kitty Norville, #13)Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on the next Kitty Norville book for several weeks. Not just because it's the 13th installment in the series, but also because it's about the very mysterious Cormac Bennett.

Cormac's finally a free man. He has his papers and he's ready to get on with his life. Well, a shared life with the spirit of Amelia. And together they're going to help Kitty decode a text that will hopefully provide the answers they need to save the world from Roman. Unless his old life catches up with him first...

Loved this. I knew this book would be awesome! 😃

Like everyone else who enjoys this series, I've always wondered about the elusive Cormac. He doesn't say much and catching a glimpse of his thoughts sounded like fun. And it totally was!

Another very cool thing about his story is that we get to hear from Amelia. Not just whatever thoughts she sends his way, but also about her own life and death. Putting these two strong characters in one body sure turned out to be entertaining.

Although they share a body, this was essentially two stories about two very different people who find themselves interlocked in a very magical way. A way that not only proves beneficial for them, but also to help Kitty's plight.

I got a real kick out of seeing Kitty through someone else's eyes. Especially Cormac's, because I always felt there was so much he keeps inside about her. The way he thinks so highly and how affectionate he is towards Ben is lovely. Love that they're cousins but seem more like brothers.

The new mystery and angles presented in this book were also very interesting. Intriguing in the way they tie back to the original story, but also how it provided an intimate insight into Cormac's past and the many ways he's changed.

I loved this and can't wait to see what happens next...

THE MENOPAUSE MANIFESTO by Dr Jen Gunter

 

The only thing predictable about menopause is its unpredictability. Factor in widespread misinformation, a lack of research, and the culture of shame around women's bodies, and it's no wonder women are unsure what to expect during the menopause transition and beyond.

Menopause is not a disease - it's a planned change, like puberty. And just like puberty, we should be educated on what's to come years in advance, rather than the current practice of leaving people on their own with bothersome symptoms and too much conflicting information. Knowing what is happening, why and what to do about it is both empowering and reassuring.

Frank and funny, Dr Jen debunks misogynistic attitudes and challenges the over-mystification of menopause to reveal everything you really need to know about: 

* Perimenopause
* Hot flashes
* Sleep disruption
* Sex and libido
* Depression and mood changes
* Skin and hair issues
* Outdated therapies
* Breast health
* Weight and muscle mass
* Health maintenance screening
* And much more 

Filled with practical, reassuring information, this essential guide will revolutionise how women experience menopause - including how their lives can be even better for it!


This is a book about a subject that is so often ignored and shamed, that as a woman, I couldn't pass up the chance to read something that helps shed some light on a very normal and natural transition.

No matter what the patriarchy tries to sell about this mysterious topic, menopause is just another fact of life.

So, the more we know, the better. 

“Menopause is puberty in reverse” is the best way to describe this next stage in a woman's life. And honestly, looking at it this way helps reshape how we feel about it and will hopefully eliminate some of the negativity.

Dr Jen Gunter sure has a way with words. Not only does she list all the scientific and medical terms associated with this transition, but she also informs us about the history. Of the condition, the actual word, and the sheer inconsiderate way men have mislabelled, dealt with, or stigmatised a part of life we should be talking about as easily as periods, pregnancy and sex.

But we know how this goes. We know how the patriarchal world tries to control the narrative to scare or excuse, not bothering to spend the time and money needed to research this thoroughly. To give women's health the attention it deserves.

That's why I wanted to read this book, to find out the truth and separate the myths from the facts. To understand what's going to happen. And most importantly, to be prepared rather than scared.

So much (of the little) I knew about this subject was tied to fear, and I wanted to change that. Sure, some of the symptoms sound awful and the possible complications even worse, but being properly informed will help change the way I look at what's to come. Instead of being terrified, I can now tackle whatever pops up in the future with knowledge. Both to know when it's an expected symptom, and when to consult a doctor because it could be more.

Having this reference book handy will definitely help.

The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism is a book full of very detailed and relevant information, because there's a lot to learn and consider. It helped me understand why menopause happens, how it happens and what to expect. 

This is a reference book ALL women should read. I know I'll be referring back to it when needed.

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



The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism, May 2021, ISBN 9780349427607, Piatkus

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

HEXED: Don't Get Mad, Get Powers by Julia Tuffs

 

Jessie Jones has just discovered she's a witch. Too bad there isn't a hex to make slimy Callum Henderson and his friends disappear ... yet. 

New girl, new school, new life on stupid island - thanks Mum. All Jessie Jones wants is to keep her head down, avoid school douchebag Callum Henderson, and coast - middle-of-the-road-like. But when strange powers start to manifest during crippling period pains, flying under the radar seems highly unlikely.

Can Jessie embrace her new-found witchiness, control her erratic powers and work out a way to bring down Callum and his cult of toxic masculinity?


After reading the blurb, I knew I had to read this! So I was very excited when I received a copy. Thank you Hachette Australia!😁

After her mother decides to move them to the Isle of Wight, Jessie becomes the new girl in school. She also hates everything about the old crumbling hotel she's forced to call home, wants to blend in without getting attention, but suddenly finds herself caught in the dangerous web of the school social elite. If only her witchy powers hadn't decided to manifest at the same time...

OMG. I loved this!

I was sucked into Jessie's story as soon as I started reading because her voice was so witty and funny, and the witchy side hits pretty quickly. So I was equal parts interested and intrigued.

This book is full of great characters and terrible characters, and their arcs are very cool. I absolutely loved how they all fit into Jessie's life and how they affected the overall conflict and resolution. 

Jessie goes through a really hard time when she's targeted by a terrible sexist bully and things get pretty dark. And sometimes she even makes some frustrating mistakes, but the charming quality of the narrative is never lost. She goes through a lot of ups and downs, causing several angry situations, which are dealt with in a very teenage way. 

How well the good, bad and in between is balanced while never dragging down the good vibes, is a testament to the awesome writing style.

Also, I absolutely LOVED Jessie's family. Her grandmother, mother and sister are a great group of women. And Nonna was the best! She's hilarious and super intuitive. Yeah, I have a weakness for awesome and cool grandmothers. 👵

Asides from the fun factor, this book deals with some very serious issues that affect girls and women every single day at work and school. The way everything was dealt with was creative and empowering.

HEXED: Don't Get Mad, Get Powers is a totally cute and super fun tale told by a witty and awesome narrator. It deals with some pretty serious issues: bullying, lies, consent and sexism, to name a few. And all of the awful consequences that follow these toxic situations. Along with these very real issues, the witchy angle works well too.

This is a fantastic feminist YA.



Hexed: Don't Get Mad, Get Powers, July 2021, ISBN 9781510109322, Orion Children's Books

Sunday, 4 July 2021

CHILDREN OF DEMETER by EV Knight

 

In 1973, a commune of almost twenty-five people—mostly women and children—disappeared overnight from the small town of West Burma, WI. What happened to the hippie Children of Demeter has remained a mystery until this day, which is what draws Sarah Bisset, a sociologist on sabbatical, to the place.

With her personal life in ruins Sarah is more than happy to lose herself in the secrets of the isolated farmhouse, but soon those revelations have her questioning her own identity, and even her sanity. Is she prepared to navigate the labyrinth of lies and cover ups to expose the truth concealed inside Demeter House despite the consequences?



Thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press, I was lucky enough to receive this book before the release date. And I couldn't wait to get stuck into it because the cover is so psychedelic and the story sounded intriguing.

I mean, it mentions Demeter and I'm a Greek mythology fan. And it deals with a hippie cult from the 60s, which sounded fascinating. And groovy.

Sara is a sociologist running from the aftermath of her husband's death and the negative effects the accident took on her life. She's on a sabbatical and has decided to write a book about the farmhouse she's just bought and moved into. A house that used to belong to a cult called Children of Demeter, and now holds many secrets within its walls...

Wow. What an awesome horror book this turned out to be. Loved it!

I was hooked from the very beginning because I found Sara's voice so addictive, I just had to follow her quest until the end. As soon as she arrives and steps into Demeter House, the eerie air of creepy mystery begins to haunt her life and it never lets go.

This town is also packed with interesting characters of all ages who obviously have secrets and motivations of their own. So, the interactions as Sara attempts to solve the mystery of what happened to the Demeter clan were all fascinating. Every new piece added to the overall puzzle and deepened Sara's involvement in a place she feels strangely connected to.

One of my favourite things about this story is how everything seems to move at the perfect slow-burn pace, but at the same time, the nightmarish reality of what's happening to this poor woman sneaks up on you pretty fast. Things get strange early on and the worm of dread never leaves. 

I enjoyed the ride. A lot!

Demeter House is such a vividly imagined place and this house, as well as the surroundings, all feel so real the land becomes a character in its own right. And I absolutely love when that happens in a haunted house story.

Children of Demeter is a really dark story that blends a lot of my favourite things together and delivers them in the one perfect package of horror delusion. The cult angle is super creepy, the mythology angle fits perfectly with what's going on, and the horror is satisfying. I also loved how well the whole psychedelic vibes of the 60s is very much alive through the whole thing. Not just because of the commune and the freaky mural or the house they abandoned, but also in the storytelling. A lot of ambiguity, bordering on a bad trip, is squeezed into the narrative.

There's a LOT to love about this book, and I suspect Sara's story will stay with me for a long time.

This is a fantastic book and you should definitely check it out!






Thursday, 1 July 2021

June's Revision Update!

Hey! How are you today?

Well, NSW is officially on lockdown. Actually, it started last Saturday and will go on for two weeks because the infection rates keep going up at a steady pace. There were actually a few outbreaks in several places in our own suburb, so it's bloody scary. So much that we're wearing our masks when we go for our daily walks. Don't want to take any chances.

The shitty thing about this lockdown is that, unlike last year when hubby was home for the duration, this time he's working because where he works is considered an essential business. 😫

If only this fucking government was competent enough to have the majority of the population vaccinated by now. We're partially vaccinated and have our second dose appointment in just over a week. It can't come soon enough.

Anyway, let's talk about something more positive. This week I got stuck into the final read-thru of my latest Revision Project, Victoria.

Here's how my week turned out:
  • Monday: 29/151 (56,616w) 
  • Tuesday: 97/151 (56,414w) 
  • Wednesday: 151/151 (56,246w) 
  • Thursday: 151pgs / 56,264w
As you can see, I started a bit slow on Monday but quickly found my stride on Tuesday, and reached The End yesterday. But it always takes an extra day for me to tidy up any last-minute details. Then there's renaming the files, formatting to double space and updating all my drives. Phew.

And I just did all that!

I'm SO excited to have completed this dark little story. 😁🎉

I've mentioned this before, I wrote the original draft of this novel back in late 2019, so I've had quite a bit of distance. And because of this, I ended up adding over 5,000 words to the word count, slightly changed the direction, and intensified the Greek mythology ties.

This is a gothic haunted house story, but not quite. 👻 Either way, I'm very happy about how it turned out and hope I can find a home for it someday.

Finishing this project also means I can update my 2021 Revision List:
  1. April: Full edit of Wall of Dolls
  2. May: Full revision of Destiny
  3. June: Full revision of Victoria
I really like the way this list is shaping up. 

I'm not going to lie, working on these projects is hard work. Sometimes it becomes tedious and I just want to be done with them, but I give each project the attention it deserves because I love these stories and want them to be finalised. Not just sit around on my hard drive half-finished.

Okay, that's enough chatter for one day.

I'm in desperate need of a mental break and some serious reading time! Think I need a few weeks rest. A breather. Not to mention that my birthday is next week.

Have an awesome day! 😃




 
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