Tuesday, 29 November 2016

TURBO TWENTY-THREE by Janet Evanovich


Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has been on countless crime scenes, but this is definitely a first. Her fleeing target has left behind a truck loaded with ice cream and a dead body - frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans. 

 As fate would have it, Stephanie's mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the ice cream factory to find out who's killing employees and sabotaging the business. It's going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It's also going to be hard to explain to Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger...

Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have 'virtually no marketable skills', these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.



I love the Stephanie Plum series! I look forward to reading Steph's latest adventure every year. So of course I was really excited about the latest book.

Stephanie and Lula are about to grab an FTA when he makes a run for it and steals Lula's Firebird. This leaves the girls with no other choice than to commandeer the ice cream truck Virgil obviously stole. 

This wild ride leads to a whole lot more trouble, when a frozen chocolate-covered dead man falls out.

Now this has become a murder investigation and Steph's going to have to go undercover for Rangeman, which means working in an ice cream factory. But no matter what section she works in, she just can't figure out what's going on. Employees are either too nice to suspect, or too mean not to be a suspect. And when she has to dress up as a clown and ride around with the cranky Jolly Bogart driver in an ice cream truck, Stephanie will never look at frozen treats the same way again.

Life in Trenton is complicated in a lot of ways, not just work. Lula is walking around naked with Briggs hoping to break into reality TV. Grandma Mazur is dating an aged bikie-bartender. And Stephanie STILL can't make a choice between Morelli and Ranger...

I seriously love how Janet Evanovich continuously and effortlessly tortures Stephanie in every book, but also manages to slip in a bit of bliss. After all this time and all these books, I still love catching up with Steph, Lula, Ranger, Grandma Mazur, Morelli, as well as the other (many) colourful regulars.

Turbo Twenty-Three is another fun murder mystery with a sweet-toothed twist. It's also a great addition to this very awesome series. The mystery kept me guessing, and everything else made me LOL. There were so many hilarious situations--mostly starring Lula! And several sexy situations with Morelli, or was it Ranger? ;)

Loved it!

No matter what happens, Stephanie has a knack for bouncing back, so I can't wait to see what she gets up to next!


Turbo Twenty-Three, November 2016, ISBN 9781472201690, Headline Review

Friday, 25 November 2016

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone . . . 

 Inspired by the original Hogwart's textbook by Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original screenplay marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. A feat of imagination and featuring a cast of remarkable characters and magical creatures, this is epic adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition for any film lover or reader's bookshelf. 

The film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will have its theatrical release on 18th November 2016.


I have to admit that after barely tolerating Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I was a bit nervous about reading another story set in the Harry Potter world. Yet, there was something about this story that I found really appealing. So I was really excited when I received a copy from Hachette Australia.

Newt Scamander is a Magizoologist and he's visiting New York in hopes of finding a certain beast. However, when a No-Maj (American version of Muggle) ends up with Newt's case and he accidentally lets out a bunch of magical creatures capable of causing mischief, Newt has to get them back. But these beasts aren't the only problem in New York.

There's a dark threat calling attention to the wizard world, a zealot trying to find an audience, an ambitious wizard, a troubled witch trying to prove herself, and an ordinary man caught in the middle.

And all of these things end up leading back to Newt...

Wow. What a fun thrill ride! This story has a bit of everything, which amounts to much awesomeness. I loved Newt, he was so kind and caring and shy and scatterbrained and cute! Tina was brave and determined and decent and driven to prove herself. Jacob was nice and sweet and loyal. Queenie was so cheeky and fun and smart and knew how to use her beauty.

And the beasts! OMG. They were all so adorable and amazing and wondrous and TOTALLY AWESOME. The only thing I missed while reading was the actual movie imagery, but I had no trouble imagining all of the magical details.

BTW, did I mention that the setting was perfect? The 1920's was definitely a great time to set such a colourful story. Plus,  it's far enough in the past that it doesn't interfere with future events, but close enough to still be familiar and even foreshadow a thing or two.

Not to mention that this hardback book is gorgeous! There are so many lovely illustrations, and even the font and page settings are lovely.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is definitely an unexpected gem in the Harry Potter world. But more than that, it's a brilliant fast-paced, intriguing story full of interesting characters, fascinating magical animals and a bunch of surprises.

There's also something else this book proves, and that's: the ONLY person who can truly write a Harry Potter story is the always brilliant J.K. Rowling. (Yes, this needs to be in bold!)

I seriously LOVED this book so much more than I thought I would. I'm looking forward to watching the movie.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, November 2016, ISBN 9781408708989, Little, Brown

NaNoWriMo: Week Four


So.

Can you believe that this is the fourth week of November? Already! 

Seriously. I know I've said this about a thousand times, but this year is going way too fast, which some people might think is a good thing. 2016 hasn't been very kind, has it? It's taken a lot from us and it definitely feels like the negative energy is trying to eclipse all the positive vibes.

Anyway. Let's concentrate on the good stuff.


This is what my stats looked like:


Not bad. I'm really happy with the word count progress I made during the month. I'm also really excited about this novel. So excited that even though the story is done for now:
  • I've already started a revision list
  • Took notes with additions
  • Have decided to change several names
  • Keep updating files

Yeah. It's still very much in my head. And that's why I'll tackle a few of these things next week before putting it away so I can get some distance.

The rest of this week involved a LOT of photo/pic/file housekeeping. It was SO TIME CONSUMING that I've decided to start a weekly update so I can (hopefully) stay on top of this.

Let's hope I can stick to the schedule. *fingers crossed*

Asides from tidying up all the clutter from my files AND brain, I caught up on some reviews:

I also DNFd a book. Got a rejection for one of the anthologies I subbed to a few months ago. And got a bunch of real life stuff done.

That's about it. I'm ready for a few days off. :)

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN by Neil Gaiman

A special illustrated edition of the AMERICAN GODS novella from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. 

We first meet Baldur 'Shadow' Moon's in AMERICAN GODS, where he gets caught up in a war between gods in the USA. In THE MONARCH OF THE GLEN, Shadow's journey has brought him to the north coast of Scotland, where he finds himself a bouncer at a party. 


Like I said in my Black Dog review, I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's work. He always manages to tell intriguing stories about deeply interesting character who are inherently good, extremely wicked, or a wonderful mix of both. And yes, being another story set in the American Gods world definitely appealed to me.

Shadow Moon is minding his own business in a bar in Scotland when one of the locals starts a conversation with him. Well, he pretty much calls him a monster and claims he can just tell. Plus he offers him what he says is an easy job during a private weekend party. Shadow also catches the attention of the barmaid, who turns out to be an enigmatic woman whose words don't make sense, yet the meaning is very obvious.

At the same time, Shadow's nights are full of weird dreams with people from his past, strange situations and men who want his help.

When the weekend finally comes and he arrives at the isolated house, he starts to realise that something isn't quite right. And that he's gotten himself caught up in the middle of an ancient situation with only one outcome...

Of course this turned out to be another excellent story by a master storyteller. I seriously love Shadow and the trouble the poor guy unintentionally attracts. Again, his easy, calm manner make outsiders--no matter how smart they think they are--realise too late just how clever he really is. I also really liked the very cryptic Jennie and the sorrowful story she had to tell. Like Black Dog, Gaiman sprinkles this story with very relevant breadcrumbs that slowly but surely lead to the heart of everything. The mythology and folklore was definitely awesome, and totally fitting.

This book is so beautiful. The cover is simple but still manages to catch your eye, the hardback book is lovely, and the illustrations made by Daniel Egnéus add to the tense drumbeat. There's even a burgundy bound ribbon bookmark attached.

The Monarch of the Glen is an intriguing and exciting novella with an air of wonder and danger that hooked me instantly. It's another very clever story I'll happily be adding to my bookshelf.

Neil Gaiman, you've done it again.

I loved this. Heaps!


The Monarch of the Glen, November 2016, ISBN 9781472235435, Headline

BLACK DOG by Neil Gaiman

A special illustrated edition of the AMERICAN GODS novella from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman. 

Baldur 'Shadow' Moon is on his way back to America, but in this story he's only made it as far as the Peak District in Derbyshire, England. Here he becomes involved with a strange, small-town couple - and the spectral legend of a black dog that causes death.


I'm a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's work. He always manages to tell a magical story deeply soaked in myth and folklore, while the familiar setting is somehow grounded in our world. Not to mention that this happens to be a story set in the American Gods world. So of course I wanted to read this novella.

Shadow Moon is an American wandering across the English countryside when he stops by a small pub and meets some of the locals. Oliver and Moira are an older couple who seem kind and are full of local stories. Cassie is an enigmatic alluring woman who seems to disappear as quickly as she appears.

Due to the heavy rain and the absence of accommodation, Moira and Oliver offer him a room in their house. But when the old man collapses on the way, it's not clear if the black dog said to roam the area has actually hooked its claws into him, or if that's just what he calls his depression.

The longer Shadow stays, the more he notices and becomes embroiled in an old secret that refuses to stay dead...

This is another excellent story by this amazing storyteller. I love Shadow. His easy and calm manner hide a clever mind most miss because of his appearance. I also really liked the mysterious Cassie and the sad story she had to tell. I enjoyed the mystery as much as the many breadcrumbs laid out along the way. And the combination of ancient dog and cat mythology was totally awesome.

I also have to mention how beautiful this book is. The cover is eye catching, the hardback book lovely, and the illustrations made by Daniel Egnéus throughout are so eerily purrfect. There's even a black bound ribbon bookmark attached.

Black Dog is an intriguing and mysterious novella that hooked me in and kept me guessing until the very satisfying end. It's also very clever and so pretty that I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf.

Neil Gaiman has done it again.

I loved this so much!


Black Dog, November 2016, ISBN 9781472235442, Headline

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

MOUNT BUGGERY TO NOWHERE ELSE by Eamon Evans


The stories behind Australia's many, many strange, inappropriate and downright hilarious place names. 

From Dismal Swamp to Useless Loop, Intercourse Island to Dead Mans Gully, Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else, Australia has some of the strangest, funniest, weirdest and most out-of-place names going - now described and explained in one humorous and fascinating book. 

 Australia's vast spaces and irreverent, larrikin history have given us some of the best place names in the world. Ranging from the less than positive (Linger and Die Hill, NSW), to the indelicate (Scented Knob, WA), the idiotic (Eggs and Bacon Bay, TAS) to the inappropriate and the just plain fascinating, MOUNT BUGGERY TO NOWHERE ELSE is a toponymical journey through this nation of weird and wonderful places.


From the moment I saw this book listed in the Hachette Australia catalogue, I knew this was something I would definitely be interested in. Not only because there really are some bizarre names all around Australia--I mean, I grew up near a place called Rooty Hill!--but also because as a writer, I love setting stories in Oz. So this book is going to come in very handy.

This turned out to be quite the book. I love the cover and even the way everything's set up inside. Each state and territory is separated, has its own introduction, and the places within each section are in alphabetical order. Very handy! There are also a bunch of peculiar, but funny illustrations peppered throughout. And some of the meanings--not just the names--to some of these places will either have you scratching your head or laughing out loud. I know I laughed at a few. LOL.

Actually, the only thing I was disappointed with was the lack of pictures. It would've been really cool to have location pics featured in the book.

And just for the record, yes, Rooty Hill is mentioned! :)

If you've ever wondered about some of our weird and wonderful location names, then this is definitely a book you'll want to check out. I'm shelving it in my reference book section, and I know I'll get plenty of use out of it.


Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else, October 2016, ISBN 9780733635588, Hachette Australia

HAMILTON: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter


Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

  Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theatre, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims the origins of the United States for a diverse new generation. 

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theatre artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages - "since before this was even a show," according to Miranda - traces its development from an improbable performance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.


I have to admit that when the Hamilton craze swept through America, I had no idea what it was about. It actually took me quite a while to find out what everyone was talking about, and when I did I didn't really care much. I'm not a big American history buff, so it didn't sound like something I would be into. And to this day, I still haven't heard a single song. I know, my bad. :/ But what I do like is how Lin-Manuel Miranda modernised an old history lesson in a very diverse way.

That, is awesome on so many levels. So I'm really happy about his success. He's obviously a very talented writer, composer and lyricist, plus seems like an all-round good guy who's managed to revolutionise theatre itself. So, good on him!

Now, for the book and why I was interested in checking it out. Well, for one thing: it's beautiful. It seriously looks like a book that was made years ago and got lost in history only to resurface again. The pages are uneven, some of the colours even seem faded and mostly are matte, but the content is HUGE. There's, of course, the musical. Then there are behind-the-scene photos and features about the actors, heaps of footnotes, outfit design sketches, notebook pages, interviews, historical facts that relate to the Hamilton story and a whole lot more.

I think this book is a MUST for any and all Hamilton fans.

It really is lovely!


Hamilton: The Revolution, October 2016, ISBN 9781408709238, Little, Brown

Monday, 21 November 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 is done!


Today, I validated my novel and this is what I got...


I'm very excited to have completed another novel during NaNoWriMo.

The story I ended up writing is one that had been bubbling inside my head for a few months and even though I knew the direction it was going to take and most of what was going to happen, I still ended up with quite a few unexpected surprises popping up.

I can't wait to revise it! The first draft might be done, but the story certainly isn't.

Hope you all had--or are still having--a Happy NaNoWriMo! :)

Sunday, 20 November 2016

THE GATHERING (Shadow House) by Dan Poblocki


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter picked this up for me from the library the other day. It's a book that caught my eye because it looks so spooky. And since I finished writing my own creepy NaNoWriMo story on Friday, I thought this might be an appropriate reading reward. :)

Poppy lives in a group home for girls and she sees another girl in the mirror behind her. Marcus feels distant from his family and can hear phantom music. Azumi keeps returning to the forest where she lost her sister and can't let go. Dylan and Dash are about to leave the sitcom they've been a part of for years and Dash keeps having weird nightmares about his brother.

All five kids have been invited to Larkspur for very different reasons. When they get there and start talking to each other, they realise that something isn't quite right. Kids with masks roam the house. The corridors sometimes seem endless. Doors appear and disappear. But the one thing that becomes very clear is that they're in big trouble.

This house has secrets, a dark mystery, some sort of connection to each one, and it's determined to imprison them...

First of all, this book is so nice! The creepy cover, the black and white photos, the grey pages and hidden symbols all add to the mystery. And the story hooked me in instantly and didn't let me go. I pretty much read it in one sitting because it was SO GOOD!

The story is told in the POV of all five kids, which was the perfect way to keep the story moving and the pacing perfect. Not to mention that the spooky factor and building tension sucked me right in. I wanted to know what was going on, and although the mystery will no doubt continue in the next book, some really bizarre answers are revealed.

This book is seriously creepy. Disturbing. Intriguing. And I loved the kids! All of them have flaws and weaknesses, which make each one uniquely interesting.

I loved it!



Friday, 18 November 2016

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

Can you believe the third week of NaNoWriMo is almost over? O.o And of course, that means that November is moving too darn fast.

Yikes!

I have to admit that as far as my WIP goes, I started the week pretty well. I mean, I crossed the 50,000-word target on Monday--yay!--but I kept going because the story wasn't done.

So, here's how the week shaped up:
  • Monday: 52,882
  • Tuesday: 56,888
  • Wednesday: 62,312
  • Thursday: 65,640
  • Friday: 67,763
This week was a crazed-writing fest!

Seriously, this story consumed my brain so much it was all I could think about. All the time. And even when I wasn't actually thinking about it, stuff was going on in the back of my mind. So many puzzle pieces falling into place and suddenly fitting together.

I love when that happens! Even if it means that I didn't read anything. No, wait, I did read a great book over the weekend. :)

Anyway. I almost forgot to mention the most important thing... TODAY I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT! *throws confetti*

That's right. The first draft of my creepy story about a peculiar town, a group of friends & their strange secrets is complete. Well, the first draft is. And I'm very excited!

Now it's time to let it rest for a bit. But I'll probably start taking revision notes soon... Oh, who am I kidding? I've already got pen & notebook ready to go.

But this weekend, I rest my brain!

Have a good one. I know I hope to... which shouldn't be as hard as last weekend. When we got a new toilet and couldn't use it properly for 24 hours. LOL.

See ya!

Monday, 14 November 2016

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've had my eye on for a while, so when my daughter bought it, I couldn't wait to read it too. (BTW, she read and loved it!)

Amanda has moved in with her estranged father after an awful incident back home. She's had a hard and rough life and just wants a fresh start to be herself. As soon as she starts in her new school, people notice her. She's the new girl and everyone thinks she's pretty. So she catches the eye of several guys, and even makes some really nice friends.

Everything seems to be going well, and even though she planned on staying focused, she finds herself getting caught up in the everyday-kinda teenage things. Which is something she's never really experienced. Much of her life has been spent alone and living in fear. So this is all new to her.

The problem is, Amanda has a secret and if it comes out, it could ruin everything...

Wow. This book was beautiful. I loved Amanda's story and wish everyone would read it. Not just because it deals with a trans character, but because it's an awesome story. It's honest and raw and even brutal. Plus the tension kept building. As good as things were going for her and as happy as she becomes, the shadow of her past seemed to be an endless threat waiting to destroy her.

Amanda's voice was SO good. I also loved the supporting characters. Grant was an honest, nice boy with an open mind and too much responsibility. Her friends Layla, Anna and Chloe were great and supportive. Even Bee was cool and different, even if... no, not going into that.

Oh, and I loved all the Star Wars references, too.

Anyway. This is a great book and I loved it. Heaps. You should definitely read it!

Friday, 11 November 2016

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

So.

The second week of NaNoWriMo is almost over. Well, for me it is, because I take the weekends off. :) Which I kinda need because my brain feels like mush.

Seriously, I'm so caught up in the story that I haven't been able to read ALL WEEK. I know. It's tragic! You all know how much I love to read. But I just can't concentrate because all the puzzle pieces of my story are starting to come together. Some still don't fit, and new pieces keep popping up. But man, I'm enjoying the hell out of this creepy tale.

Here's how this week looked:
  • Monday: 23,524
  • Tuesday: 28,316
  • Wednesday: 35,565
  • Thursday: 40,824
  • Friday: 47,056
As you can see, I'm very close to reaching the NaNoWriMo 50,000-word target. If all goes well, that could happen on Monday. But that's not going to be the end of the story, so I'll keep writing until it's done...

This week has been a bit hard on the world, especially America. I'm still shocked about what happened. That election result totally sucks. I can't wrap my mind around that orange nightmare becoming the president of anything. It still makes me sick.

I wish there wasn't so much hatred in the world. If people were less selfish and greedy, and instead had more empathy and respect, we wouldn't be in this awful spot. :/

And on that note, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

 
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