Saturday, 31 October 2009

It's that spooky time of the year...


Don't forget that the VampChix VampBash is going on right now. There are a LOT of awesome things up for grabs, but it ends today.

Friday, 30 October 2009

A TOUCH OF DEAD: A Sookie Stackhouse Collection


Sookie Stackhouse enjoys her job as a cocktail waitress in Merlotte's, a small-town bar in small-town Bon Temps, deep in Louisiana. She's funny and pretty and, thanks to her grandmother, she's very well-mannered - but since not many people truly appreciate her ability to read their minds, the guys haven't exactly been beating down her door... And then along came Bill, tall, dark and handsome - and Sookie couldn't 'hear' a word he was thinking. He was exactly the type of guy she'd been waiting all her life for. Of course, Bill had a disability of his own: fussy about his food, not into suntans, bit of a night person: yep, Bill was a vampire. But at least now Sookie knows there ARE guys she can date who won't worry about her catching them thinking about other women... And that's going to make Sookie's life really interesting!

This gorgeous and sleek book contains five short stories by Charlaine Harris that up until now were included in other anthologies. They're all about Sookie Stackhouse and take place between certain books in the series. I think the UK/Australian cover is absolutely gorgeous. This is the US cover, which is really cute too. And the inside is just as stunning. There's an introduction by Charlaine herself, and a two-page illustration at the beginning of every story.

Now, here's a little about the stories...

FAIRY DUST: A fairy walks into a bar, seriously she does. Claudine walks into Merlotte's looking for Sookie. She and her brother Claude need Sookie's help to figure out who killed their triplet, Claudette. They've got three human suspects - a stripper, a bouncer, and the owner of the club.

This is a short but fun story where Sookie uses her telepathic ability to figure out who killed the fairy. I enjoyed it heaps, and liked finding out a little more about Claudine, Claude and fairies in general.

DRACULA NIGHT: When Eric invites Sookie to Fangtasia for an annual vampire event that celebrates Dracula's birthday, she agrees to go. She also finds out that Eric is quite the Dracula fan who secretly hopes that Dracula will make an appearance at his party. But when the person who claims to be the Lord of Darkness shows up, the unexpected happens.

I enjoyed this one too. It was a lot of fun to see the cool, calm, and collected Eric acting a little neurotic. Pam was great in this little story, her side comments made me laugh.

ONE WORD ANSWER: While Sookie is doing some late-night gardening with Bubba, a limo arrives at her house. A man who claims to be a lawyer by the name of Mr. Cataliades gets out and tells her that her cousin Hadley is dead, but that's not all he's there to tell her. His visit entails more revelations then she expected.

I really liked the simplicity of this story. It's a straightforward tale that gives Sookie some answers about her estranged cousin, but also has a few very cool twists in the end. Well-worth reading.

LUCKY: When Greg Aubert pays Sookie a visit, hoping she'll help him figure out who's been sneaking past his spell to get into his insurance office at night, Amelia and Sookie investigate. What that entails is a telepath (Sookie) and a witch (Amelia) following one clue after another, until Sookie can find whoever's responsible. Who would've thought that someone could hog all the luck in one town?

This was a great story that captured not only Sookie's world, but what makes a short story really work. I loved it!

GIFT WRAP: Sookie's all alone on Christmas Eve, but when she goes for a walk in the woods and finds an injured Were, she insists on taking him home to make sure whoever attacked him doesn't return to finish him off. But the mysterious stranger brings a little festive magic to her night.

This delicious tale was excellent. I wasn't expecting the sneaky twist at the end, but loved it.

A Touch of Dead is a collection that every Sookie Stackhouse fan should own and will love. I know I did!

A Touch of Dead: A Sookie Stackhouse Collection, October 2009, ISBN 0575094435, Gollancz Paperback

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

I got some things done today!

Yay! It always feels great to get things done, doesn't it?

Today was jam-packed with stuff. Firstly, even though I started the third (and final) draft of BOUNDLESS a day late, I'm back on track. Last night I reached page 20, and this afternoon I got my chunk done for today. I'm now at page 45/76. Not bad.

After my daughter goes to bed, I'm hoping to squeeze in another chapter. That would be awesome. Even though, as it stands, if I can get 16 pages done tomorrow and 15 the next day, I can still get this draft finished by the end of the week. *fingers crossed*

I also got my weights workout done, even if I couldn't get up for yoga this morning. I was too tired. We went to bed after 1AM, which is never a good idea on a weeknight. Still, it didn't stop me from getting stuff done. I even finished reading the first DARKE ACADEMY book. It was great, loved it!

The only problem with being so busy this week is that I'm not spending any time planning for NaNoWriMo. No time at all, not even thinking time because my mind's stuck in Alyce's world, or in my zombie ones. I mean, gee, I'm a pantser and all, but I'm usually organised. This year, not so much. So NaNoWriMo might end up being a little messy for me this year. If I get it done at all. :/

Anyway, that's it for another day. See ya!

*Don't forget that the VampChix VampBash is going on right now. There are a LOT of awesome things up for grabs.

**I'll also be posting an interview with fellow Damnation Books author, Lily on the 29th. And I'll be over at her blog on the 30th. Yay. :)

DARK ACADEMY: SECRET LIVES


The Darke Academy is a school like no other. An elite establishment that moves to an exotic new city every term, its students are impossibly beautiful, sophisticated and rich. And the more new scholarship girl Cassie Bell learns about the Academy, the more curious she becomes.

What sinister secrets are guarded by the Few -- the select group of students who keep outsiders away? Who is the dark stranger prowling the corridors at night? And what really happened a year earlier, when the last scholarship girl died in mysterious circumstances?

One thing Cassie will discover is that a little knowledge may be a dangerous thing, but knowing too much can be deadly!

Something strange is going on at the Dark Academy, and the new girl is about to find herself in the middle of it. It's quite an intriguing concept, and I have to admit that I was curious about this story as soon as I read this blurb. Of course, after I read the Prologue I was itching to find out more.

Cassie Bell has had a rough life, so being accepted at an elite Academy in Paris on a scholarship sounds like a fantastic opportunity. But from the very first day, she notices that a lot of the students aren't just snobs, but also have a very mean streak. Especially the bunch who call themselves the Few. Luckily, she meets the Latin Isabella, her roommate and instant friend. Of course, there's also the mysterious Jake, who seems to want to get to the bottom of things as much as she does. As well as the enigmatic but very alluring Ranjit.

Before she realises it, Cassie becomes the center of attention for this select group, and it's not necessarily a good thing. There are a lot of secrets in the Darke Academy, and finding out what they are can be deadly.

I loved it! The tension builds up so thick and the mystery so deep that I devoured the entire book in about a day. I just had to know where this was going. There are some very spooky scenes that'll keep you guessing and push you forward, further into the dark. I didn't want to put it down. I'm hooked.

The characters were great, especially Cassie and Ranjit. I can't wait to find out where the outcome of this book is going to take these two kindred spirits.

Dark Academy: Secret Lives is a wonderful and very creepy book that starts out just like any other story about a new kid in school, but becomes so much more. It throws you into a mysterious school with a very dark secret. I think it's a winner.

I'm looking forward to the next one, Dark Academy: Blood Ties.

Dark Academy: Secret Lives, October 2009, ISBN 9780340989241, Hodder Children’s

Monday, 26 October 2009

KEEPING IT REAL

The Quantum Bomb of 2015 changed everything. The fabric that kept the universe's different dimensions apart was torn and now, six years later, the people of earth exist in uneasy company with the inhabitants of, amongst others, the elven, elemental and demonic realms. Magic is real and can be even more dangerous than technology. Elves are exotic, erotic, dangerous and really bored with the constant Lord of the Rings references. Elementals are a law unto themselves and demons are best left well to themselves. Special agent Lila Black used to be pretty but now she's not so sure. Her body is now more than half restless carbon and metal alloy machinery. A machine shes barely in control of. It goes into combat mode, enough weapons for a small army springing from within itself, at the merest provocation. As for her heart...well ever since being drawn into a Game by the elven rockstar she's been assigned to protect, she's not even sure she can trust that anymore either.

When I read the blurb for this book I couldn't decide if it was a futuristic, an urban fantasy, a Sci-Fi, or just a straight out fantasy. I just knew that I wanted to read it. After I started it, I found out that it's pretty much a mix of all of the above. Just like Lila is a mesh between human and machine.

After the Quantum Bomb, the world changed forever. Even the name changed, Earth is now known as Otopia. But more importantly, the fabric between the dimensions was torn, opening up the way to five other realities. Humans can live alongside creatures from other realms. Demons, elves, elementals, and all types of faery live amongst us in a world now deep in magic and technology.

Lila Black is a woman, but she's also a machine with an AI. After a mission that almost killed her a few years back, her body was fused with carbon and metal alloy to become an efficient machine with enough weapons to have something handy for any situation.

When she takes the job of guarding an elf who happens to be the lead singer of a very popular band, the story seems very grounded in a recognisable world. But when someone attempts to kill and in fact take Zal from this realm and into Alfheim, she has no choice but to put her trust in the elf responsible for her 'upgraded' physical condition. The one who almost destroyed her.

Wrapped in a futuristic package is a fantastical tale with places and concepts that will stretch the boundaries of your imagination. I enjoyed the seemingly simplicity of Lila, and how the further you get into the story, the more complicated and real she becomes. Things are certainly not what they seem with any of the elves she is forced to depend on, or work with along the way to saving Zal.

Keeping It Real is an action-packed book that'll keep you guessing at every turn. Just when you're sure you understand the elves and their peculiar ways, something else is thrown into the mix to totally confuse you. Double-crossing, possession, lust, and the very interesting concept of Games, are just a few things to expect in this fascinating new world/s.

Keeping it Real: Quantum Gravity Book 1, 2009, ISBN 978-057-507907-6, Gollancz Paperback

THE LAUGHING CORPSE


'The older the zombie, the bigger the death needed to raise it.' After a few centuries, the only death 'big enough' is a human sacrifice. I know because I'm an animator. My name is Anita Blake. Working for Animators, Inc. is just a job - like selling insurance. But all the money in the world wasn't enough for me to take on the particular job Harold Gaynor was offering. Somebody else did, though - a rogue animator. Now he's not just raising the dead... he's raising Hell. And it's up to me to stop it.

The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton has been repackaged and re-released. I think this series is one of the pioneers of the urban fantasy genre. The other obvious one that comes to mind is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They might be two different mediums, but I'm a fan of both. The Anita Blake books, one through to ten, are some of my most favourite books of all time, but I gave up on the series after book eleven. :(

Everything that I loved about the series - the horror, gore, Anita's relationship struggles, her personal inner struggle, her complicated friendships, the tough as nails attitude, the way her job dominates her life because it's so much more, and just the strong Anita that kept me turning the pages, eventually faded into an almost unrecognisable shadow of herself. One that depended on the ardeur and not much else.

But this is about the second book in the series, and I love this one! It has everything that made this series so addictive to start with. I couldn't put it down until I got to the end.

The Laughing Corpse is a clever, dark and very gritty book. Anita takes us into some very grotesque situations as she struggles to keep a human balance in her life by raising the dead for a living, trying to avoid a vampire who wants her, and agreeing to wear an awful pink bridesmaid dress to be in her friend's wedding. It's not an easy thing to do, but Anita somehow pulls it off in a very entertaining way.

This is the Anita Blake that became a constant in my life years ago, so I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to re-read this book. If you're into urban fantasy and haven't given this series a go, I recommend that you do. Especially the earlier books, because they are truly awesome!

The Laughing Corpse, November 2009, ISBN 075535530X, Headline Paperback (B)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Ouch! My head hurts...

I went to bed with a massive headache last night. And woke up with it. :/ I also had an empty stomach, so I couldn't take anything for it until I had brekky. My head feels a lot better, but the rest of my body feels a little wonky.

Still, it's no big deal. I'm not sick or anything, just a little tired. The fact that I've been keeping up with my workouts just means that it's caught up with me. So I'll probably skip lifting weights today. Sometimes you just have to listen to the ol' body, huh?

Anyway.

Yesterday was another not-really-writing day, but still doing writing-and-reading-related-type stuff. It's just strange how quickly the day goes by. Even now, it's almost one in the afternoon. In two hours I'll have to head out to pick my daughter up from school. Sometimes I wonder how I manage to fit so much into the day. Lol. :D

Today will probably not be one of those days. Even if I really want to continue going through my bookshelves. It's starting to look so much neater.

I'm also starting to wonder if signing up for NaNoWriMo this year is a good idea. I mean, my biggest prob now is trying to figure out what I should work on. I was pretty positive that I wanted to work on M-YA#2, but there's another (adult) idea that wants to cut in. :/ What should I do... what should I do? (that last bit needs to be asked in a Homer Simpson voice.)

Still got time to think about it, I guess. Although, all that thinking might just be a waste of time if I get bogged down with edits. ;)

Okay. It's time to proofread a synopsis and then, I'll probably squeeze in some reading.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

EVIL CATS


In the hugely successful EVIL PENGUINS Elia Anie bravely exposed the dark underbelly of the animal kingdom. Now with EVIL CATS she is taking on an enemy far closer to home... Think cats are sweet, fluffy creatures with big eyes that can melt even the hardest of hearts? Think again. Violent, devious and utterly amoral, in 95 hilarious cartoons Elia Anie will show all the reprehensible depths to which their behaviour can sink. EVIL CATS confirms once and for all that felines are as capable of dastardly deeds as any other member of the animal kingdom.

I love cats and have a very cheeky one of my own. I also know that kitties can be very naughty if things aren't going their way. And already love the Simon's Cat films.

So when I received this book for review, I couldn't help but smile. I intended to put it aside, and pick it up after I finished reading the book I'd already started, but couldn't put it down. As soon as I opened this book, I found myself turning one page, then another, and another... I kept laughing out loud at what these naughty felines were getting up to.
There are even some 'Oh, no' moments, like this one:




And this one:




LOL. See, I'm laughing again. And these two pics are just a very small taste of what these fluffy but mean cats get up to in this lovely-looking, little book. It's a fast read, filled with laughs and cringing moments. I had a blast looking at this book and loved that some cat sayings make an appearance too! Awesome. This was a great surprise!
EVIL CATS: When Fluffy Cats Get Mean is a fantastic book that every cat lover should take a look at. It would also make a lovely gift for that special someone who loves their kitty. ;)
Evil Cats, October 2009, ISBN 0755360028, Headline Non Fiction Hardback (Hardback)

Monday, 19 October 2009

DEXTER BY DESIGN


Being a blood spatter analyst who hates the sight of blood has always made Dexter's work for the Miami PD tough. But it means he's very neat when it comes to his out-of-hours hobby: murder. Of course, the fact Dexter only kills bad people helps too. Now Dex is facing a disturbing situation. He's used to blood at work and blood when he's out with the dark passenger (the voice that guides him on his deadly outings). But he's not sure what to make of the man who says blood is art. Using bodies as his canvas, someone is out there expressing themselves in the most lethal and painful of ways. If Dexter's to escape the scalpel and avoid becoming the latest exhibit, he needs somewhere to run...and he might just have found the perfect place. With his wedding looming, completing his nice-guy disguise, Dexter's honeymoon might just save his skin.

This is the fourth book in the Dexter Series and like the three before it... I loved it! I constantly find myself cheering for Dexter, and love that fate somehow always manages to get him out of the messy entanglements he gets himself caught up in. How awesome is that? Very awesome. :)

Dexter and Rita are in Paris for their honeymoon. Rita's having a fantastic time, but Dexter's a little bored. But when they visit an alternate-type art performance and witness a horrid act of self-mutilation masquerading as art, at least his holiday ends on a macabre note. And when they get back to Miami, Dexter finds himself in the middle of multiple artistic murders. A very sick individual is killing people in Miami and then displaying the corpses in public places like horrid platters/advertisements for everyone to see.

Partnering up with his sister Deborah, the two slowly narrow down the possibilities. However, when Deborah gets stabbed and ends up seriously injured in the hospital, Dexter decides to take care of the culprit with his own brand of justice. Yet, he didn't count on anyone watching him, and then becomes the target of a very sick killer. Now, Dexter's family's not safe and his biggest secret is at risk of being exposed.

Dexter By Design is the latest - and very awesome - installment of Jeff Lindsay's brilliant Dexter books. It's a rollercoaster ride that takes us outside of Miami and then back again. It focuses on a very bizarre and unusual crime, while still developing Dexter's relationship with his sister, wife, and those few who start to suspect him of wrongdoing.

Also, the dark humour I've grown to love is still in this book - I especially laughed at a very twisted but hilarious jingle written to fit The Brady Bunch theme song. In spite of all the darkness, murder and mayhem going on around Dexter, his voice never falters to be entertaining and logical. Dexter might consider himself to be a monster, but he's so much more complex than that.

I can't stop raving about these books. They've become some of my favourites. Oh, and the last line in this book is outstanding... but had me wishing for more. :)

Dexter By Design, September 2009, ISBN 0752884611, Orion Fiction Paperback

Gosh!

The weekend was awesome! On Saturday, it was my daughter's 9th birthday - Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you... Anyway, we had a great day.

About a month ago, she put together a Wishlist of presies she was interested in. And in the end, we got her everything on there. As well as a few other things. We were very stealth about it and she didn't suspect a thing. She was so surprised. And happy. It was lovely to see.

Then hubby whipped up a lovely and very delicious brekky, we hung out for a bit, and then headed out to have lunch at Sizzler. She loves going there, it was her choice. The rest of the day was awesome as well. I'm so glad that we managed to make it special for her. And I can't believe that she's 9 already! The years are going really fast.

Well, I've only got 100 pages left to read of the latest Dexter book. Once I've finished this one, I'm up to date with the series. Just like I'm now up to date with the Harper Connelly series. And as exciting as that is, I have to say that I'm going to miss both Dexter and Harper. When you read this many of their books in a row, you can't help but get lost in their world. :) In a good way.

This week, I'm going to take a break from both revision and writing. I need to rest my head for a bit. I've been doing a lot of thinking and sorting during most of this month. Of course, I already have a to-do list, but this has things that I want to get done by the end of October, not just this week. Already crossed one thing off and very close to crossing another... but next week I'm going to do the third/final draft of BOUNDLESS, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm actually itching to do it now, but I want that extra week to distance myself from it.

Okay. Time to see what I might tackle next... See ya!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

GRAVE SECRET

It's taken a while, but at last Harper's pretty happy with her life: she's making a living, using her unique talent to help people and she's got a boyfriend.

Then her stepfather arrives on the scene, seeking forgiveness for his past sins - the abuse and the drug-use - and the police finally get a tip-off after all these years, that Harper's long lost sister has been spotted in a mall. With all this going on Harper realises life is getting a little complicated, but she doesn't expect those complications to include her stepbrother Tolliver getting shot, or watching a cop die taking a bullet for her.

This is the fourth book in the Harper Connelly series by Charlaine Harris, and I was totally blown away by it. Seriously.

When Harper and Tolliver go to a cemetery near Dallas for their latest case to help a woman from a very rich family find out how her grandfather died, Harper uncovers a few hidden secrets that someone desperately wants to keep buried. Badly enough to shoot at Harper. But the bullet misses her and instead hits Tolliver, and he ends up in the hospital.

And if that's not bad enough, Tolliver's father is out of jail and has decided that now is the best time to reconnect with his children. Even if he doesn't seem to think too highly of Harper. Not to mention that people keep getting shot around Harper as she slowly uncovers small pieces of the Joyce mystery, with a little help from her psychic friend, Manfred. I was really glad to see that he keeps popping up in the series. He's a very interesting character.

The familial entanglement of the wealthy Joyce family are darkly mirrored and even connected to Harper's. It seems that the longer she spends in Dallas, the more complicated things get. And the less tolerant people seem to be of her newfound relationship with Tolliver. Except for their mutual little sisters who seem excited at the prospect of a wedding.

I absolutely loved this book and adore the series. I'm a huge Sookie Stackhouse fan and didn't think I would get this caught up in Harper's world, but I have. Every book gets better and deeper into the core of Harper's gift and circumstances. The heartbreak of her sister's disappearance has hounded her for years, and in this book it resurfaces in an unexpected way. As sad as it is, I'm glad that Harper is finally able to find some closure in this department.

Grave Secret is an amazing addition to this wonderful series and only deepened my involvement in Harper and Tolliver's life. While also revealing some very shocking and bizarre secrets about their family's harsh past.

I also love how Charlaine Harris can introduce the reader to seemingly simple heroines that are really extraordinary and very resourceful. She did it first with Sookie, and she's done it again with Harper. This series is another winner! I can't wait to read more.

Grave Secret, November 2009, ISBN 0575085541, Gollancz Paperback

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Planning out loud

Anyway. Guess what? The third draft of my futuristic YA novel is now done. D-O-N-E! Yay. I'm very excited about it. Actually, I should be working on the synopsis right now... but you know how I love to put them off until I have no choice but to tackle it. :)

The final word count is 70,738. And after formatting, it takes up 303 double-spaced pages in Courier-font.

Although, there are still a few things left on my to-do list, I keep putting them off for some reason. After I finish the draft of any of my stories, I feel a little restless and need a break. Heck. Maybe that's what I'll do next week. Although, I still plan to get the third/final draft of BOUNDLESS done by the end of the month.

Phew.

So, I think I mentioned it before but I've been contemplating whether to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. As you can tell from the sidebar, I've taken part the last three years. But this year's a little different because I'm expecting a bunch of edits next month. And I just know they'll all come at the same time, which would derail my NaNo plans. So, I was stuck. And when I get stuck, I talk things out with the hubby. Just speaking to him about it helps to unravel my thoughts. And it worked once again...

I've decided to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2009 and take it one day at a time. If I'm successful this year, then I'll have the first draft of M-YA#2 done by the end of November. If I'm not, then at least I would've made a start on it. See, simple! I just need to remember not to put too much pressure on myself. Which I tend to do all the time!

And I don't just have writing plans, either. I've got a short-term reading plan. First up is GRAVE SECRET (I have a review copy), and then it's DEXTER BY DESIGN (another review copy). When I read these two books, it'll bring me up-to-date with each series. I can't wait.

Okay. That synopsis is not going to write itself. Lol.

NIGHT WORLD Volume 3


Vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters -- they live among us without our knowledge. Night World is their secret society, a secret society with very strict rules. And falling in love breaks all the laws of the Night World.

The apocalypse is drawing near. But four Wild Powers can save the world from the impending doom. Circle Daybreak, an underground organization with both Night World and human members, is searching for the four who can stop the darkness.

This omnibus contains books seven-to-nine in L.J. Smith's Night World series, and once again introduces a bunch of new characters and expands on the world and myth.

Huntress: Jez Redfern is a powerful vampire who leads a gang of fellow vamps in the hunt for humans. However, her existence is thrown into chaos when she finds out that she's actually half-human. Unable to continue her life now that she knows the truth of her origins, she contacts Circle Daybreak (via her uncle) and starts living her life as a human. However, that plan is ruined when the first Wild Power is discovered and she's sent to protect them...

I enjoyed the nature of this story and felt that the inner battle raging inside Jez gave this book something the others before it didn't have.

Black Dawn: Maggie Neely is a human who finds herself caught in the Night World the night that her brother disappears and is feared dead. In her quest to find out whether her brother really did die, she finds herself captured and thrown into an old secret kingdom.

Another interesting tale that throws the reader into an unexpected facet of the Night World. I definitely didn't expect it, but enjoyed it anyway.

Witchlight: Keller is a shapeshifting panther who is hired by Circle Daybreak to guard the third Wild Power. However, this Wild Power also happens to be a lost witch that is supposed to marry the son of the First House of shape-shifters. This will unify the shapeshifters and witches. But Keller also happens to be in love with the shifter who is supposed to marry the Wild Power... which complicates and could destroy everything.

Another great installment that gives more of an insight into the shapeshifters, while putting the heroine into a really sticky situation of heart versus duty. Cool story!

After reading the three Night World volumes, I can safely say that these YA stories aren't just interesting, full of intrigue, interesting characters, with a good dose of romance, but they also introduce and keep you lost in a magical world where all is certainly not what it seems.

Night World, Volume 2, September 2009, ISBN 9780340996645, Hachette Children's Books

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

AN ICE COLD GRAVE


Hired to find a boy gene missing in Doraville, North Carolina, Harper Connelly and her brother Tolliver head there-only to discover that the boy was only one of several who had disappeared over the previous five years. All of them teenagers. All unlikely runaways.

All calling for Harper.

Harper soon finds them-eight victims, buried in the half-frozen ground, all come to an unspeakable end. Afterwards, what she most wants to do is collect her fee and get out of town ahead of the media storm that's soon to descend. But when she's attacked and prevented from leaving, she reluctantly becomes a part of the investigation as she learns more than she cares to about the dark mysteries and long-hidden secrets of Doraville-knowledge that makes her the next person likely to rest in an ice-cold grave.

OMG! This book had a very creepy and depraved crime. And following Harper while she got closer to solving the mystery was a fascinating ride. Seriously. I felt so bad for her, because pretty early on, as soon as she finds the first lot of graves in the snow, someone attacks her and she has to spend a few days in the hospital. Of course, that's not the only time she gets into trouble.

It's awful how she always finds herself in the middle. I guess if a criminal's plan gets ruined by someone, they lash out against that person. But still, it's awful. And just when you think everything's been worked out and makes sense, a new turn hits you.

The relationship between her 'brother' changes in this book, in the direction I suspected after I finished reading book 2. Because really, Tolliver isn't her blood brother. I also think that Charlaine is really brave, taking the relationship between Harper and Tolliver in the direction that she did. :) Good on her.

This series just gets better and better. I'm lovin' it, bring on the next one!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Not much to say... but enough

I can't believe how quickly the weekend went by! My gosh. Did I blink and it was over? Sometimes it feels that way.

I also don't undestand why the weather's gone all shitty and refuses to get any better. Woke up this morning to a beautiful blue sky. Now, it's overcast and cold. Ugh! WTF?

Anyway, enough complaining. :)

It's a new week and I've got a new to-do list.

I've already crossed two things off the list, which is awesome for a Monday. My main objective is to get the third draft of M-YA finished. I've now hit page 231/297, so it's moving along nicely. I'm really trying to get it done by Wednesday. See how I go. Since this is also the last week of my daughter's school holidays.

Well, there's not much going on. I'm still busy revising, reading, watching TV shows, going for walks, hanging out with my daughter & hubby, as well as trying not to think about that other idea I got last weekend. Lol. Got too much going on at the moment to add that. :)

Okay. I think it's time for a snack and another walk! Bye for now.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

GRAVE SURPRISE


A college class gets more than it bargained for when Harper gives a demonstration of her uncanny talent. Instead of just finding one body in an old grave, she finds two: the original occupant and a recently deceased girl whom Harper had tried, and failed, to find two years previously. To dispel suspicions about her own innocence, Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver undertake their own hunt to find the killer-only to find yet another body in the same grave.

Firstly, I have to say that the American covers for the Harper Connelly series are super creepy! Especially this one. Honestly, when I started reading the book and realised just what this cover was supposed to represent... *shiver*

I've had this book (and the third one) on my bookshelf for quite some time and decided to catch up on it, since the fourth one's going to be released very soon.

I really enjoyed the first one, so I knew this one would be great too. I love the mysteries in this series. And this one was a creepy, creepy one. Seriously, when Harper goes to an old cemetery to prove her talent, she ends up finding two corpses in one of the graves. And one of the bodies happens to be that of a little girl she'd failed to find several months back.

After that, her and Tolliver find themselves under suspicion from the police, hounded by an FBI agent, and caught in the middle of another family's situation. It's not a happy place to be for Harper. As if she doesn't have enough to deal with. The prejudiced way that others treat her all the time made me angry. Just goes to show how people treat those that are different or they don't understand. :/ It might be a book, but the anger/fear rings true.

The relationship between Harper and her stepbrother is a delicate one, and I'm starting to understand a lot more about the reason why they behave the way they do, and why they're so close. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. So much, that I will pick up the third one later today. :)

Friday, 9 October 2009

DEXTER IN THE DARK


Dexter Morgan is busy planning his wedding to Rita to complete his nice guy disguise. But when a student is found burnt, molested and headless - seemingly sacrificed to an ancient god - and Dex is brought in as forensic analyst to help investigate, he realises he could be dealing with someone a whole lot more sinister than he is. Soon it seems the dark passenger in Dexter's head has gone into hiding. And when something creeps out your friendly neighbourhood serial killer, you know it's serious...

As Halpern and Dexter are stalked by death, it looks like it's getting personal - especially as Dex now has a family to protect. Gradually, Dexter realises his stepchildren might share his extracurricular interest in death. Could he help them target their bloodlust, just as he steers his own? But to do that, Dex must cope with a certain mutilated sergeant from his past and, more importantly, stay alive...
This is the third book in the Dexter Series and I absolutely loved it! Seriously, I got so caught up in the story that when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about getting back to it.
After Dexter's accidental-engagement with Rita, he's moved in with her and the kids. She's busy spending every minute talking about the upcoming wedding, and he's more than happy to pretend he's excited and even help plan a few details... as long as he can continue his night games. And he's got himself the perfect target.
Everything's going great in Dexter's Dark life. Until he attends a double homicide that is so ghastly it horrifies his Dark Passenger. All of a sudden, he's all alone while trying to help Deborah solve this case and getting himself involved with a nasty, and very expensive caterer. While he's dealing with all of this, Dexter is also playing the role of educational dad to Astor and Cody, who are a little too impatient to skip the theory and get to the practical part of being little monsters.
The crime in this book is another horrible one, but what I liked about it was that it introduced a whole new element to the Dexter arc by dealing with an ancient god. This also took me on an awesome ride through his ups and downs as he struggles to come to terms with being just human. Honestly, it was a blast to watch him react to real emotions, rather than having to pretend. I kept hoping his Dark Passenger would return because it was painful to see how much Dexter had to struggle.
Dexter in the Dark is another brilliant installment to this fascinating series that just keeps getting better and better. I seriously LOVE it and am totally addicted. I also loved that the Dark Passenger was taken to a whole new level.
Dexter in the Dark, September 2009, ISBN 0752881604, Orion Fiction Paperback

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A chill in the air

Today is hubby's birthday! Yay. Happy Birthday, hubby! Wish we could've had the day together, but such is life. Hope the work day's not too annoying for him today.

Well, I don't know what the hell's going on here in Sydney, but it feels like we're entering autumn all of a sudden. WTF? Seriously. Up until last week, every day felt like a nice summer day. Now, it's freezing! And I don't like it. I want that summer feeling to come back. Noooooooow! Lol.

Maybe next week. Looks like the weather comes in weekly batches. Who knows what's around the corner for this summer.

Anyway, I've just completed my first lot of revision for today. Today's goal is to reach page 99. Instead, I'm now sitting @ page 157/296. That means that everything is now crossed off my to-do list for this week. Awesome!

If I can stay ahead of myself, I should be able to get this third draft done by this time next week. That'll give me a whole day to work on the synopsis. And you all know how I feel about writing a synopsis. Not my favourite thing in the world, that's for sure.

Well, I guess we better have a snack now and rug up because it's time for our daily walk. Not sure if we'll just do our normal river walk, or head over to the library. I have a few books to return. I'll see how my daughter feels about the options.

See ya!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Revision City, once again!

I did say last week that I would be here for a while, didn't I? Lol.

Personally, I think this is the best goal to have at the moment. My daughter's on school holidays.

Today is her third day. Not that I'm keeping count or anything. But when she's around, my whole day needs to be turned upside down. Seriously, it does.

I'm just so used to getting a bunch of hours to myself during the weekdays, after hubby goes to work. This is a huge adjustment. I pretty much get a few hours in the afternoon, and maybe one more at night after she's gone to bed.

I'm not complaining. Much. ;) But it just takes some getting used to, and by that time, she's back at school. Lol.

Anyway. Enough of that. Let's just concentrate on what I'm working on at the moment...

I've started the revision of my YA futuristic novel, codename: M-YA. Well, I actually started it on Saturday and have been squeezing in a few chapters every chance I get. Right now I'm up to page 122/295. The word count is still in the 70k-word range. It's gone up by about 200 words, but keeps going up and then back down again when I delete words, add other words, and then remove some more words that don't need to be there. So far, there hasn't been any need for huge rewrites. Everything is moving along nicely, makes sense, and remains constant. I'm pretty happy with how it's going. At the moment, anyway.

Hopefully I can revise another chapter before the day is over and reach the halfway mark. I'm way over my daily goal (which is 33 pgs/day for 9 days) and lovin' it. That'll give me a day (or two) to concentrate on the synopsis and possible query letter. I'd love to get this story out there, especially since I'm considering writing the second installment during NaNoWriMo. Not decided yet, because I still reckon I'll get edits during the month of November. :)

Well, that's it for today. Oh, and I've started reading this book. It's the third Dexter book and someone's following Dex around. Could a killer be stalking my fave serial killer? OMG! After typing that, I just realised how insane and possibly wrong it sounds. But hey, he's fictional, and not such a bad guy. He's just got a few 'issues' to deal with.

Okay, I'm gonna shut up now... Bye!

NIGHT WORLD Volume 2

Vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters -- they live among us without our knowledge. Night World is their secret society, a secret society with very strict rules. And falling in love breaks all the laws of the Night World.

This omnibus contains books four-to-six in L.J. Smith's Night World series, and introduces a bunch of new characters.

Dark Angel: After missing her ride home, Gillian is forced to walk home in the cold. But when she hears crying and wanders off the road to investigate, her life changes forever. She dies but is sent back by her guardian angel. Not only will Angel give Gillian her life back but he'll also help her become popular at school and win the heart of the guy she likes.

Except, Angel has plans of his own, and along the way makes her realise a few truths about what she really is. This story shows the evolution of Gillian - littered with confusion, revelations, and the path to her soulmate.

The Chosen: Rashel's family was killed by a vampire when she was a child, and now she hunts them. She's good at what she does, but when she meets a vampire who claims to be her soulmate, she must deal with the consequences.

This was another well-told story that explores the ultimate opposites-attract concept and how hating one breed because of grief and loss isn't always a good idea. Or the way to revenge and happiness.

Soulmate: Hannah has a good life but her dreams are filled with confusing events. When she goes to get help via hypnosis, she finds out that these dreams are actually fragments of her past lives. Lives in which she meets and loses the love of her life over and over again. All because of one person, who's only ambition is to keep Hannah away from her true love, Thierry.

This is a fascinating concept with very emotional ties that takes the soulmate path to another level and opens up some history about the Night World.

I found the next lot of YA stories in this world to be as interesting and entertaining as the first three.

Night World, Volume 2, September 2009, ISBN 9780340996638, Hachette Children's Books

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

We have a Wither cover!

Here it is:

Isn't my space cowboy... hot? ;) Seriously, it's a blazing cover that was made by Kanaxa. Love it!

Wither will be available from Samhain Publishing on December 8, 2009. I'll post the blurb as soon as it's been approved. Yay.

Well, what do you think?


PS. I interrupted this week's Tuesday Tunes to post my latest awesome cover. ;)

HOW I LIVE NOW


It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love at an Extreme Time in History. But let's face it. . .

Daisy is sent to England from New York to live with her cousins for a perfect summer.
There are four of them: Osbert, Isaac , Edmond and Piper. Three boys and a girl. And two dogs and a goat.

Daisy has never met anyone like them before. Especially Edmond.

This summer will change her life. It will change the world too.

I borrowed this from the library. It's the latest in my long string of futuristic/post-apocalyptic-YA-binge books. And it didn't disappoint. Wow! I have to say that I found this story amazing.

When I started to read HILN, I instantly noticed how different the narrative was from what I'm used to. A technique that should've failed and grated on my nerves, instead became an intoxicating narrative that gripped me from the very start.

This isn't a happy story. Elizabeth - known as Daisy - has been sent off to stay with her aunt and cousins in England because her evil stepmother has decided she doesn't want her around. A stranger in a strange land, she immediately connects to her four cousins - especially the mysterious Edmond. Their connection is so strong that he seems to read her mind. Then again, most of her cousins appear to have some sort of gift.

Anyway, in the grips of love - both physical and emotional - Daisy's life changes when war strikes. Everything changes overnight and horrible things happen around her, and to her. It's a sad time for all of them, but Daisy's strength never lets down. And the end is heart-wrenching.

Seriously, this was one excellent book! :)

Sunday, 4 October 2009

DEARLY DEVOTED DEXTER

Miami's best-dressed serial killer is back and on the prowl - as least he would be if he could shake his permanent shadow. Ever since their paths first crossed, Sergeant Doakes hasn't let Dexter Morgan out of his sight. Dexter may well be the Miami PD's blood-spatter analyst, but Sgt. Doakes has a pretty good idea of how Dexter likes to spend his free time and he's determined to catch him in the act. Dexter hasn't killed in months and is getting twitchy. To throw Doakes off his scent, he's spending more time with Rita, his girlfriend. But no matter how many cosy nights they spend in front of the TV, Doakes is still watching. Then a body turns up and Doakes and Dexter will have to work together...if they can trust each other. It's a devil's pact and one of them will have to be the bait...

After the events of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Sergeant Doakes decides to watch Dexter's every move. That puts a strain on Dexter's bad guy games, especially when he's got his eye on the second half of a particularly sick individual that his Dark Passenger can't wait to get his hands on.

Determined to bore Doakes out of his pursuit by acting boringly normal, Dexter spends most of his nights on Rita's couch watching TV and drinking beer. That alone isn't exciting but it does get him closer to Rita's children - Astor and Cody. And he starts to notice a familiar disturbance with Cody that only someone like Dexter would recognise. As much as Dexter doesn't consider himself human, he might end up being the children's only hope at a normal life. He can relate to them in a way he's never related to anyone else before.

If his personal life is complicated, his professional life is even worse. He's helping his sister, Deb, with a disturbing case. A mutilated body is found inside a house - hacked but still alive. It's so bad that it sends everyone into a spin. Who would do such a thing? What reason could anyone have to leave a person alive after such brutality? *shiver*

The crime investigated in this book is pretty gross and related to something that happened in El Salvador with a Special Forces group that Doakes happened to be a part of. It's truly horrific and so barbaric that it'll shock you. But it does introduce a love interest for Deb, and forces Doakes and Dexter to work together.

Dearly Devoted Dexter is the excellent second installment of the Dexter series. It's filled with dangerous situations, shocking crimes, and a funny misunderstanding between Dexter and Rita. It's also balanced out with plenty of internal witty observations. One of my favourite things about this series is Dexter's voice. I find him intriguing, interesting, and hilarious.

I'm really enjoying the time I'm spending with Dexter and look forward to more...

Dearly Devoted Dexter, September 2009, ISBN 0752877887, Orion Fiction Paperback

Thursday, 1 October 2009

It's a beautiful day today in Sydney


The sun's nice and bright. There's a slight breeze. And it's very hot. Yep. It feels more like a summer day than spring, but that's just fine with me.

As you can see below, I finished reading the first Dexter book. Wow! It was such a cool read. I enjoyed it so much, and was surprised at just how different the overall story ended up being to the TV show. Especially the ending. Seriously, very cool. After reading the blurb for the second book, I think the only thread in that one might be the Doakes situation. I'll have to wait and see, huh?

Well, since I finished the second draft of Alyce's final story yesterday afternoon, today was free for other things. I wrote and posted my Dexter review, answered and emailed in some interview questions, and even wrote a new blurb for BOUNDLESS. It needs a little revision, but that shouldn't take long. The original blurb I'd written just didn't capture the story as well as it should. I'll have to pass it on during the edits. Still have a few other things to do - write and post another book review, fill out a form, and stuff an envelope full of promo stuff. Maybe I can split that up between today and tomorrow... although I want to send the snail mail stuff out tomorrow morning, to beat the weekend. :)

Okay. I've got about 40 minutes until I have to leave to pick my daughter up from school. What can I squeeze into that short time? See ya!

NIGHT WORLD Volume 1


Vampires, werewolves, witches, shapeshifters -- they live among us without our knowledge. Night World is their secret society, a secret society with very strict rules. And falling in love breaks all the laws of the Night World.

This omnibus contains the first three books in L.J. Smith's Night World. It's also a great introduction to this secret world of vampires, witches, werewolves, shapeshifters, and the humans who fall in love with them.

Secret Vampire: Poppy and James have been best friends since kindergarten, so when she finds out that she's sick and is going to die, James makes an offer she can't refuse. He's a vampire and can save her life by making her part of the Night World.

This story was sad and heart-breaking, but still filled with hope and adventure. Becoming a vampire should've been an easy thing to pull off but because it's forbidden in the Night World, and they had to make sure she 'dies' in the living world, a few complications arise.

Daughters of Darkness: Three sisters - Rowan, Kestrel and Jade - have left their home to live amongst the humans with their aunt, who's been doing that for years. However, when they get there and find their aunt staked, it becomes obvious that blending in won't be so easy. And with their brother on their trail, only more problems will arise... for him as well.

This story was exciting and expands on the Night World. It also goes to show that love strikes when you least expect it, and not even the tough Ash is exempt from it finding him. Still, with danger in the shadows, I enjoyed finding out who was responsible for their aunt's death and how a mere human was forced to deal with it.

Enchantress: Thea and Blaise are cousins who are more like sisters. They also happen to be witches and continually get into trouble at school. When they're expelled from another school and go to stay with their grandmother, they find themselves wanting the same guy. Spells and rituals get them into a heap of trouble once again, when Thea summons the spirit of a witch that swore revenge on humans.

I enjoyed the sibling rivalry in this one and the secrets that are unveiled, and like the other two books, events kept unfolding until the very end. The power of the soulmate is very prominent in this story too and I suspect it sets things up for the next lot of books.

I found these YA stories to be interesting and entertaining. The Night World is full of creatures that seem to unwillingly find themselves breaking the rules whenever it comes to dealing with humans. I guess the forbidden is always too tempting, and that human soulmates are just too hard to resist..

It's definitely worth paying a visit to the first volume of the Night World series.

Night World, Volume 1, September 2009, ISBN 9780340996621, Hachette Children's Books

 
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