Monday, 24 July 2017

Long time no post!

Actually, that's not technically correct because I have posted several book reviews and even a Q&A with an Aussie author... but I haven't added any actual update posts for a while.

So, how are you?

This month has been an excellent one. We've enjoyed a bunch of adventures, had lotsa fun, done plenty of chilling, sleep-ins, relaxing with hubby,  and I'm now a year older. That's not so great, but you know.

Hubby took a two-week break at the beginning of July and it was AWESOME! (Especially since I thought he was home for one week and he surprised me with TWO!)

It was a break we both needed. And as I mentioned above, we went on several adventures. We watched Spider-Man: Homecoming (loved it!) and then hung out in the city, spent the best Monday ever in the city and Milson's Point (to do the Bridge Walk & visit Luna Park), walked to IKEA (which is always an adventure), went for two daily walks, caught up on some reading, watched several movies, bought a bunch of stationery & toys, found some jeans that fit super nice instead of falling down, and just enjoyed the hell out of spending time together.

Only problem is how hard returning to our real-life routine turned out to be. LOL. Last week was a little harder than usual and felt plenty wonky. Which is why I spent most of it sorting my toy, stationery and book clutter.

This week, it's time to deal with my brain clutter.

See, although we did take it easy during hubby's annual leave, my mind kept working. A bunch of idea snippets started to develop into something more solid, which is always cool. So I found myself adding inspirational pics, character names, research, and even started seeing scenes play out in my mind. When this happens, I make sure to set up files and keep adding things as they come.

It's an awesome process, really.

So, there you have it. This is what I've been doing lately. What have you been up to?

Have a great day!

Friday, 21 July 2017

THE GIRL IN BETWEEN by Sarah Carroll

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library because the blurb sounded intriguing, the cover is amazing (not this one, the other one) and it was added on a YA must-read list. :)

Sam and Ma live in an abandoned mill in the city. Their home is old, boarded up, the floorboards are in bad shape and the old machinery is mostly still there. Sam doesn't care about that because this is their Castle, and they live a somewhat comfortable life. But the best thing is that Sam feels safe, because as long as she stays hidden within the walls of The Castle, the Authorities can't take her from her mother.

Ma is feeling better and only takes off to buy food or to find new furniture or to beg for coins. While her mother is away, Sam watches people on the street and finds the painful memories that brought them here surfacing vividly.

As ghosts start to stir in the shadows and structural developments increase in the buildings around them, Sam might stumble onto the most shocking memory of all...

This book is amazing. It's so well written that I was captivated by Sam's voice and her story instantly. OMG. This is such a powerful story about a child forced to live on the streets because of her mother's many mistakes and addictions.

I went through so many emotions while reading this book, and read the bulk of it today because I couldn't put it down. I got so angry at her mother's selfish nature one minute, and then felt sorry for her the next. But mostly I couldn't believe she dragged her young daughter into so many dangerous situations. :(

Even though it was very sad, I really enjoyed Sam's story. In spite of being hidden away and living in isolation because her childhood was stolen from her, she was still willing to learn and always found ways to keep herself entertained. Not to mention that no matter what, she's super loyal to her mother.

Yeah. There's a lot to love in this book.

The story delves into some very serious topics: homelessness, addiction, the effect bad decisions have on innocent children, the harsh reality some people face on a daily basis. All of these situations are treated honestly, with respect and certainly moved me to the point where I wanted Sam's story to end happily.

And lastly, although I worked out the twist at the end, I still definitely loved this book and think it's worth checking out.

Q&A with Angela Slatter

Today I have a guest on my blog.   

 Angela Slatter is an Aussie author of dark fantasy and horror with a slant of mythology thrown into the mix.

The second book in her Verity Fassbinder urban fantasy series has just been released, and I was lucky enough to read an ARC copy. It's quite the mythological ride.

Hi Angela, and thank you for popping in today!

Thanks so much for inviting me, Yolanda!

I read VIGIL last year and really enjoyed it. I was hooked! So I couldn't wait to get stuck into the second book, CORPSELIGHT. How did you come up with the concept of old myth and legends co-existing with humans in an Australian contemporary setting?

It’s very much founded in ideas about how we bring our mythologies and legends with us, and that a lot of us have these tales from our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, etc, that are handed down … even though we’re no longer living in the countries that spawned us! I’m quite fascinated by how stories and our ghosts travel with us, and then change when immersed in a new atmosphere, rather like humans change when they shift and travel to a different place, and stay there for a time.

Verity's adventure began as a short story, didn't it? At what stage did you realise there was enough story to become a novel-sized series/trilogy?

Ha! When my friend Jonathan Strahan said “This would make a great novel!” and then publishers started asking “So, where’s the novel!?”

It was a big process of mental evolution to get myself into the headspace where I could think differently about the story and how it might look in a larger setting. That took a while!

What came first: Verity, the world, or the plot?

Verity. It’s always characters with me, I get their voices in my head, they start talking to me. Then I start thinking about where they fit in the universe, what environments they bounced around in … and then I start thinking about how to make life difficult for them.

I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy because it mixes the best parts of so many different genres. And reading a series set in Australia is always extra awesome. What was it about Brisbane that made it the perfect setting? Did you always plan to set it in Brisbane?

I think that for me, having been away from Brisbane for four years, it was really interesting to see the city again and to view it with new eyes. I also use public transport (I don’t drive), so that’s a really good way to see things in a different fashion, you’re not separated from other humans in quite the same way (of course, that’s not always a good thing!). And because I was also walking a lot I was seeing and exploring places I normally wouldn’t, or wouldn’t have paid attention to … and I’m kind of naturally inclined to imagine weird things in ordinary places anyway! 

And lastly, is the world of the Weyrd open ended, or do you have a set number of books in mind for Verity & Co?

Well, as with every series it depends entirely on how the books are received by readers as to whether or not a publisher decides to go ahead with other books. I have a second trilogy plotted out, but whether or not I will write it is another matter! I wrote the first trilogy to be self-contained, but there are definite possibilities. I’d love to take Verity back to Europe to investigate her family there, but we’ll just have to see what happens.

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions, and I look forward to reading more of your books.

You’re more than welcome!


There you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A as much as I did. 

I'd once again like to say thanks to Angela for stopping by today and answering all of my questions. 

I look forward to reading more of her books. 

Plus, I'd also like to thank Jessica from Hachette Australia for sending me an ARC, and passing on my questions. :)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

GIRLHOOD by Cat Clarke

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand. 

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died. 

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity. 

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her? 

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief. 

I was really looking forward to reading this book, so I got stuck into it shortly after receiving a copy from Hachette Australia.

Harper attends an expensive boarding school in Scotland and is part of a tight group. Rowan, Lily and Ama are her best friends, so she can't wait to make long-lasting memories with them during their last year of school. 

All that changes when a new girl arrives.

Kirsty is nice but doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the group. Yet she has something in common with Harper. They've both lost sisters, and bond over their shared loss because no one else will ever understand the grief and guilt attached to such a devastating experience.

As Harper gets closer to Kirsty and finds herself confiding in her new friend, it comes with a downside--alienation from the others. With the distance growing between the girls and Harper, and her parents trying to move on with their lives, everything around her is changing too quickly. And Kirsty hiding something isn't helping...

Wow. This is such a great book! I really, really enjoyed it. From the beginning, Harper's voice is easy and relaxed, but also dripping with grief. Everything she does, experiences and remembers is measured against the memory of her sister. The twin sister who died several years ago. She feels responsible about what happened, and just can't shake the guilt.

I liked how flawed Harper was, and how easily she compensates for others' mistakes and strange behaviour, but is super tough on herself. She's a good person with good intentions, but lets everything rub her the wrong way and then reacts too impulsively. Her reactions come across as judgement, but that's not what she's aiming for. She's just so weighed down with sorrow all the time.

I also really liked the friendship group, and how they're all so close that they're virtually family. Even though each girl is very different, they are perfect friends, so at times it was hard to watch the slow deterioration of their tight-knit group. I especially liked Rowan, who was headstrong and no-nonsense, but still vulnerable in so many ways.

Yep. There were SO MANY small things I loved about this story that form an intricate and intriguing plot.

Girlhood is a gripping book. A page turner that made me fear the worst the deeper I got into the story. It's a story about the shadow grief casts over the ones left behind. It's about the highs and lows of amazing friendship. It's also quietly wicked. This book definitely got under my skin, so I had to keep reading until everything unravelled.

This is my second Cat Clarke book, and I can't wait to read more.

Girlhood, July 2017, ISBN 9781784292737, Quercus Children's Books

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