Tuesday, 22 August 2017

COMING UP FOR AIR by Miranda Kenneally

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've really enjoyed reading the Hundred Oaks series, so I was really excited about reading this one. But after finishing (and unfortunately skimming a bit), I'm actually sad this is the last one.

This installment turned out to be the one I enjoyed the least. :(

Although I (mostly) liked Maggie because she's so motivated and has personal goals, I just didn't like some of her odd motivations. I also didn't much like Levi. So, add those two things together with the fact that I found the swimming angle really boring, and... yeah. This was just okay for me.

It's such a shame that I couldn't connect with this story, especially since I read Defending Taylor a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it!

Also, I usually love the friends to lovers trope--which worked great for Jordan and Sam--but this one was missing something. I just didn't buy the love connection. The way they got together just didn't grab or convince me that these two fell in love. Oh well.

At least I enjoyed the epilogue. A lot more than Maggie's story, to be honest.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Revision: Week Two

Hey! How are you today?

Well, another work week is over, so it's time to post a writing update. 

You might remember that this time last week I was feeling a little wonky because I pushed myself a bit too much. That resulted in losing an output day (last Friday), but I wasn't too concerned. I took it easy last weekend, my ribs stopped hurting and when Monday rocked around, I was ready to get productive.

Here's what I wanted to do this week:
  • Continue revising Haunted. (But this time aim for 12 pages/day)
  • Read BREAKING & post the review
  • Update photos, pics & writing files
  • Keep brainstorming my next WIP

Although I'd initially wanted to get the second draft done by the end of this week, I decided to slow the pace a bit. Mostly it was so I wouldn't push myself so hard, but I also wanted to pay proper attention to the narrative.

I actually ended up doing a bit of backtracking during the week to fix certain details, and it helped strengthen the story. Gotta be happy with that. LOL.

So, this is what I ended up doing:
  • Reached page 150/210 & added 4,773 words.
  • Read & reviewed BREAKING by Danielle Rollins.
  • Updated ALL files on laptop & ALL external devices.
  • Spent a lot of time thinking about next WIP & started jotting more notes + figured out the beginning.
  • Caught up on washing & other stuff.
  • Went for two walks every day.

There it is. I'm really happy with how everything turned out this week. I got a lot done and am feeling really good about this story. And new things keep coming to mind... love it when I get caught up in the story like this!

Anyway, that's it for now.

I'm looking forward to taking it easy during the weekend. I might squeeze some reading in, hopefully take more notes, go for walks, and spend time with hubby.

Have a good one!

BREAKING by Danielle Rollins

Charlotte has always been content in the shadow of her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Ariel is daring and mysterious. Devon is beautiful and brilliant. Although Charlotte never lived up to the standards of the school--or her demanding mother, Dr. Gruen--her two best friends became the family she never had. 

 When Ariel and Devon suddenly commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte refuses to accept it as a coincidence. But as the clues point to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep, Charlotte is suddenly in over her head. There's a reason the students of Weston are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth . . . 

 With suspense and danger at every turn, Danielle Rollins keeps readers on the edge of their seats with this haunting thriller.

Last year I read a very creepy and fascinating book called Burning. So when I received the companion novel last week from Bloomsbury Australia, I couldn't wait to read it.

Charlotte attends a prestigious boarding school because her mother is a very busy doctor who travels a lot. Weston isn't the ideal home, still she's managed to make two friends who are more like family. But when Ariel and Devon commit suicide within a month of each other, Charlotte's left all alone and with so many questions.

Now she feels like an outsider and doesn't even want to fit in. Her only real connections are her dead friend's ex-boyfriend and her nosy new roommate. When Charlotte stumbles onto an enigmatic message from Ariel, the note sets her on a path filled with dangerous secrets, unlawful experiments, and self-improvements bordering on superpowers.

But she's not the only one caught up in this web of mystery and deceit. The clues lead back to her secretive and callous mother. The more Charlotte investigates, the more horrifying the answers become. And if she keeps following the clues, she might end up helping the whole school. As well as a bunch of forgotten kids caught in the middle of wealthy ambition...

Wow. The writing in this book is exquisite. So intimate and lyrical that Charlotte's words dragged me into her life instantly. As soon as I read the Prologue, I wanted to follow her down this very dark path. I felt a lot of things for this young girl--confusion, pity, anger, frustration, pride--and all at the same time. Her life is a lonely one made better by two friends who, as the plot starts to unravel, don't seem as wonderful as they did at the beginning.

Actually, even Charlotte isn't exactly a good girl. She's odd, considers herself average, an outsider, and certainly sometimes behaves in a questionable manner. But she's determined, and sympathetic, wants to explore who she really is. Even as the dark mystery of what happened to her friends pushes her forward and makes her do some very risky stuff, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. I just wanted her to find her own way to happiness and  be free of her mother's restrictive control.

BTW, it was so cool when a very familiar, vital character bridged the connection from Breaking to Burning. There are several clues along the way, so many breadcrumbs left scattered for the reader to make the connection between what happened at the Brunesfield Correctional Facility and Charlotte's dilemma.

I also loved the many fairy tales threaded into the overall storyline. Very clever!

Breaking is an intense and very intriguing book that's so addictive I was totally engrossed into the story. Walden might not be juvie, but it's still a place where the students are isolated and are imprisoned by the endless drive to succeed. The narrator dives headfirst into some pretty shocking situations, but is very honest and analytical about her motivations.

This story turned out to be an excellent dark thriller that toes the line of the supernatural as brilliantly as the first book. It also leads the reader to a very satisfying conclusion.

I loved this book as much as the first one. I will also always love stories about girls and monsters.

Breaking, September 2017, ISBN 9781408878262, Bloomsbury Childrens

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Forgotten Short Story Goal...

You know what I realised the other day? That I haven't posted a short story update for a while. 

The main reason is because I haven't actually written any new ones for a while. o.O

So, here I am today. To chat about the projects I've started/completed since my last shortie update.

Here's how my short story progress looks:
  • January: wrote a fantasy-esque, fairy tale-ish story about odd girls, strange spells, lost love and the mysterious sea. (w/c: 9,233, subbed a few times, got nice comments but still unpubbed)
  • February: wrote an adventurous UF story set in the underworld. (w/c: 4,880, didn't make it into antho because the guidelines were misleading) 
  • March: started writing a horror story about urban legend tropes and demons. (By the time I reached a certain point (w/c 7,964) I realised it was going to become a novel.)
  • April: wrote a YA horror story about an urban legend featuring a haunted train station. (w/c: 10,852, subbed to an anthology that is still open...)

And that, I'm afraid, is where the short story WIPs end.

So much for this:


It's not that the short story ideas have dried up or that I've given up on shorter works. It's quite the opposite. I have several I want to write and even a bunch to revise. While doing my massive file overhaul the other week, I even found some I wanted to go back to. So there's plenty of material there.

I'm just concentrating on novel-sized stories right now because they happen to be the loudest. Not to mention that I now have TWO completed first drafts that need revising. 

Anyway, here's what I have done (instead of short stories):
  • May: spent the month taking a reading break while brainstorming and preparing for the urban legend trope novel.
  • June: wrote the first draft of URBAN LEGEND. (w/c 70,035).
  • July: took most of the month off because of hubby's awesome 2-week annual leave and school holidays. Ended up dreaming about new stories and setting up Idea Files for them.
  • August: am currently working on the second draft of HAUNTED.

As you can see, I've taken a bit of time off lately, but I think it's important to rest between projects. Plus I'm really happy with the revision I'm working on right now, and excited about my next WIP.

I'm at that cool stage when I have several WIPs at various stages, and can pretty much set up a production line of projects. :D

So there's no point in stressing about that pesky ONE SHORT STORY EVERY MONTH thing. Think I'll remove the graphic from the sidebar...

Wow. This turned out to be quite a long post!

Thanks for reading.

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