Deanna Madden, aka Jessica Reilly, hasn't touched another person in three years. She hasn't left her apartment. She makes money from performing to webcams on a sex site, where her clients pay $6.99 a minute for her time. She's doing alright. The dollars are piling up in the bank. She's the number 3 model on cams.com. And she hasn't killed anyone for years. But when Deanna sees on the news that a little girl called Annie has gone missing, the story rattles her carefully ordered world. It's uncomfortably similar to the dark fantasy of one of her most disturbing online clients. She's convinced he's responsible for the girl's abduction - but no one will listen to her. So, after three years, Deanna finally leaves the apartment. And this is what happens...
Last week, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from Hachette, and couldn't wait to get stuck into it. I was intrigued from the moment I read the blurb. I also really liked the cover.
Deanna Madden--or Jessica Reilly as everyone knows her--is a recluse. She hasn't left her apartment in three years. She has everything she needs delivered to her by a hot UPS guy, conducts all of her business online, and even maintains several professional friendships that way. She's also very successful at what she does and makes a lot of money by performing sexual acts via webcams.
Oh, and there's another reason why she doesn't leave her apartment--she doesn't want to kill again.
She meets all sorts of people in this business, and is actually rated as the third most popular model on Cams.com. Her apartment is a living space, a hoarding place, and a film studio with high-tech equipment to provide the best camera angles and audio to all of her paying customers. The sexual acts she performs and is forced to watch are just part of the job. She's hardly surprised by the large number of fetishes or requests made on a daily basis. But sometimes, someone comes along with fantasies sick enough that she needs to scrub it all away afterwards.
That's what happens the day a man asks her to dress like a young girl and starts calling her Annie. This guy's fantasies are horrible, depraved and Deanna keeps talking to him only because she hopes that by sharing these thoughts, he won't actually hurt any children.
However, the day Deanna finds out a little girl called Annie Thompson has disappeared in Georgia, she knows that she can't ignore the similarities. She has to do something more than place an anonymous call to the helpline. She has to actually leave the apartment. She has to face the world she's been hiding from and hope that she can stay in control long enough to save the girl's life.
While she's at it, she might be able to satisfy the never-ending itch that refuses to go away...
Wow. I was blown away by this story. Deanna is an amazing character. On the surface it's easy to assume that you'll dislike her because of her profession and the violent thoughts that keep her awake at night. But once you get to find out more about her and who she really is, you slowly realise that she's not a bad person. There were some pretty severe consequences in her past that shaped the way she is and what she craves. That she's managed to keep it together for years and locks herself up for the safety of others, also shows that she's not a bad person at heart. Sure, she's got some dark desires and psychotic problems, but at the end of the day she's willing to risk everything to save an innocent life.
I also really liked the touch of romance. Jeremy is such an interesting character. A man whose interest in the mysterious girl he delivers packages to gets him into some pretty dicey situations. It was sweet too, because in spite of everything, he takes Deanna for what she is and tries to reason it out, rather than trying to change her.
This book hooked me in right away. Though I have to be honest, if you're squeamish about sex, profanity or violence, this is probably not the story for you. But if you enjoy a twisted thriller that pushes the boundaries and then topples you over the precipice of sanity, then this is a book you have to read.
The Girl in 6E is many things: dark, intriguing, shocking, tragic, visceral, cheeky, sexual, and sad. But at the core it's a well-written thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The suspense gets so thick that I couldn't stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next. This is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone who isn't afraid to read something different. A story so unique and honest that you'll soon realise that the eroticism isn't an issue at all.
The Girl in 6E, August 2014, ISBN 9781409155171, Orion
Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?
On Saturday night, I finished reading a very intense book. So while checking out my to-review pile, I thought it would be nice to check out something a little lighter. So I picked this up with the intention of reading the first chapter. I just wanted a taste...
A few hours later, I'd read a lot more than that. And was totally engrossed in Pippa's summer holiday.
Pippa's parents have shipped her off to Italy for the summer. Not to enjoy the sights and spend time exploring what she wants to see and take photographs of, but to attend an art program in Florence. The problem is she's not interested in attending what her mother is practically forcing on her. But when she finds herself in Rome with a wad of cash and a few days to herself before the course is due to start, she decides to check into a hotel and see the sights.
What starts out as curiosity about gelato turns into a full-blown adventure that introduces her to a cute American boy--Darren--and leads her to an instant friendship with a local girl--Chiara.
Pippa decides to skip the art program and instead is determined to make this her summer. And with the help of her best friend's journal filled with ideas, she starts a list of goals. Starting with exploring Rome, before being invited to spend the summer at Cinque Terre with her new friend Chiara. In exchange for helping out in the family's trattoria, she gets free board and meals. Not to mention gets to spend time with Chiara's bad-boy cousin. A guy who might be easy on the eyes, but certainly comes with a lot of baggage.
As she enjoys her summer with her new friends, while trying to continue the huge lie she is telling her parents, Pippa can't seem to get the cute American boy out of her mind. Especially since Darren seems to be popping up all over the place, almost as if it was fate that they were supposed to meet. But the more time she spends with him, the more confused she becomes because of his mixed signals. Not to mention that he's not Italian, and one of her goals this summer was to fall for an Italian...
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I thought it would be one of those young adult novels that are aimed at a much younger and more innocent audience. I mean, the whole scenario Pippa finds herself in is super dangerous: a 17-year-old girl alone in a foreign country where she doesn't speak the language, with a wad of cash and so many other valuables that would catch the eye of any thief. Not to mention what some might try to get away with when they spot a lonely girl... Yeah, I've seen Taken. :/
But in the end, this story isn't about all the bad things that can happen, it's about the good things.
It's a story of self-discovery. An adventure-filled summer for a girl who feels like an outcast in her own family and is trying to find her way, while her mother keeps pushing her in a direction she doesn't even want to take. And it's about spending a teenage summer in a beautiful location, and actually finding kind people who have no bad intentions. Well, except for the Italian hottie Bruno, who is obviously all wrong for her. ;)
Wish You Were Italian is a fun, and very captivating story that sweeps the reader away into a wonderful European summer. It's filled with interesting characters, gorgeous locales, history, and cute boys who do their best to confuse Pippa while she's trying to have a good time. I also enjoyed the strong friendship she has with her grandmother, best friend, and Chiara. This was a great book, one that will carry you away to Italy and make you forget all about the possible dangers lurking in a foreign land.
I'm seriously surprised about just how much I enjoyed Pippa's story.
I guess that no matter what age you are, sometimes you just need to let go of all doubts and suspicions, and just enjoy the innocence and kindness that still exists in our world. It might be hard to find, but it's there.
Wish You Were Italian, May 2014, ISBN 9781408855515, Bloomsbury Childrens
A terrible, wonderful, heart-breaking story about hope and humanity and a young girl who tries to save the world.
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her 'our little genius'. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
I started hearing good things about this book about a month ago, but I had no idea what it was about and kept it that way by not reading any reviews. The title didn't give anything away, and neither did the cover. Now that I've read the book, both of them are huge clues to the heart of this story.
Melanie is a very smart girl. She loves school, is comfortable with her routine and has a huge crush on one of her teachers. Miss Justineau enjoys teaching her class, but they're not normal kids and she certainly isn't part of an average school. Sometimes, she almost forgets just how dangerous these kids really are. Sergeant Parks performs his job every single day, and is in charge of getting the kids to and from the classroom. Dr. Caldwell is a scientist obsessed with finding a cure that will save the dead world they live in. And she's willing to sacrifice just about anything to complete her precious research.
The day she decides it's time to experiment on the smartest kid in the class, the walls of their secure army base are compromised. Junkers invade with an army of hungries as their main weapons. Life behind the secure walls of their base is shattered. Now these handful of survivors are on the run: a hungry girl unlike the others, a teacher with her own past secrets, a Sergeant and a Private who commandeer a Humvee, and the crazy scientist. Dr. Caldwell might almost lose the use of her hands in the struggle, but she's still willing to survey what's left of the world as valuable additions to her research.
Together, these five very different individuals are forced to run from relative safety while trying to stay ahead of the violent junkers, and doing whatever they can to avoid being eaten by the hungries. But as they head back towards the one place they all initially came from but secretly despise for their own reasons--with limited supplies and a kid that could lose it at any moment--they instead find themselves in the middle of a new and very different threat.
Wow. This book was amazing! Really, it was. I was hooked as soon as I started reading, and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. Even though the story starts out in a seemingly familiar way--with a child who loves school and her teacher--it's soon obvious that there's a whole lot more going on in this very dark and dangerous world. After all, most kids aren't strapped to wheelchairs for their lessons, or will be overcome by the desperate need to eat their teachers if their human scent isn't chemically-covered.
The story is told in the POV of all five characters, so we get to find out how each of them feels and inwardly reacts to all the events that unfold. I especially enjoyed spending time with Melanie, because in spite of what she is, she's an amazing character with a very gifted mind and logic.
The world they inhabit might reflect a familiar apocalyptic wasteland, but there's so much more going on.
The Girl with All the Gifts is a thrilling, tense ride that keeps you guessing all the way through. It's a unique addition to a genre that I love. You keep wondering what's around the corner, and might even try to guess what's about to happen next, but you won't. I loved the unpredictability of this book, and how it surprised me all the way to the very fascinating end. Also, I got a kick out of the obvious parallels made to the myth of Pandora.
I loved this eerie book!
The Girl With All The Gifts, July 2014, ISBN 9780356502847, Orbit
OMG! Asides from book reviews and blog hops, I haven't posted an update since the beginning of June! Can you believe that? O.o
Time sure flies when you get stuck into several projects, keep reading good books, enjoy yourself, and take a few weeks off...
Okay, the last instalment in my Sierra Fox series, which is called A STITCH ON TIME, is now finished and ready for its October release. I read the final proof a few weeks ago and received the final copies the other day, so I won't be reading it again until I get the print proof.
Writing this series has been an amazing rollercoaster ride for both the characters and myself. I LOVE urban fantasy and wanted to write my own series in this genre. And, I've always been fascinated with ghosts, so coupling that with this genre produced some very freaky storylines. Having the series published by Samhain Publishing was the icing on the cake! Because I ended up working with an amazingly talented editor who helped enhance my story. Holly rocks!
I love Sierra & Co. so the final read was bittersweet. But I know I won't be leaving this world entirely just yet, because I've got a few spin-off novels I'd like to write and even a secret story that I've been working on but will not talk about. *whistles*
But enough about that.
Hubby went back to work yesterday, and my daughter went back to school today. They both had a 2-week break, and it was AWESOME! We hung out together and went to a few places, enjoyed many walks, and they were home to celebrate my birthday on the 7th. Yay. It was SO much fun that I didn't want it to end. And even now, it feels weird to be alone with Loki. Actually, even Loki showed some signs of confusion. I think he got used to having hubby home and didn't want him to go back to work. Can't say I blame him. LOL.
Now that everything has gone back to normal and winter seems to be in full swing--it's so cold right now--I guess I should start making some goals. Well, not this week. This week I want to take it easy and get back into the swing of things. I'll catch up on some reading, update some online stuff, write a synopsis, and maybe even take some notes for future projects. I also need to start scheduling a few guest blog spots for the upcoming release of RECAST, Volume 1 and Sierra Fox #5.
I think 4 days should be enough to get my frame of mind back on the writing/revising track. Well, it better be because I intend to spend next week reading the 50k story I finished last month one last time before subbing it. That's my main goal for this month! Next month, I'm actually hoping to get stuck into some new writing. Fingers crossed.
Okay, that's it for now. But like I mentioned in the title... I really have to stop neglecting my blog. There used to be a time when blogging here was part of my daily schedule. Wonder what changed? *scratches head and thinks of Twitter*
I started reading this book on my Kobo app yesterday afternoon, and finished it today. Wow. What a great story! I'd read great things about it... and everything was true!
Jacqueline was recently dumped by her boyfriend after three years. While leaving a Halloween party she didn't want to attend, a guy she knows attacks her in her own truck. But a stranger saves her.
Relieved to have survived the attack, but shaken enough to be overwhelmed by fear, she finally starts to put her life back together. Starting with fixing her economics grade. And that's when she realises that the guy who helped her is actually in her class.
Now that she's noticed him, Lucas seems to be everywhere. And she certainly doesn't mind...
I was hooked into Jacqueline's POV instantly. Her story was honest and raw. Her life has fallen down around her, making her feel like she's made stupid decisions and is now crippled by fear. She feels lost and alone, but soon realises she's not because her friend, Erin, helps her to reclaim her courage. While Lucas helps her trust herself enough to feel safe again.
Also, the attraction between Jacqueline & Lucas was scorching off the pages. Yowza! I loved how these two damaged people found each other. And then helped one another find strength.
I loved this book and the two main characters. I just found out there's a sequel from Lucas's POV. I really need to buy it!
River means everything to Sky. They have lived alone together on Island for as long as they can remember. The two of them hunt for food, wash in Falls and curl up together in Shelter. Their life is simple and safe. Until River sees a boat . . .
Across Ocean is California, a place where nothing makes sense to Sky. She is separated from River and taken to live with a grandmother she doesn’t know. Lost and heartbroken, Sky searches for him so they can return to Island, only to find out that their paradise wasn’t as perfect as she thought, and everything she’s ever known and loved may have been a lie.
A gripping and beautifully told story of love and survival in a hostile world – ours.
I received an ARC of this book and was instantly intrigued by the premise. So I thought I'd give it a go, and found myself instantly engrossed in the story. So much that I finished it before I was ready to let it go.
Sky and River live on Island. It's the only home they've known. A beautiful paradise surrounded by the healing Ocean that provides everything they need--shelter, food, and each other. Life isn't always easy on Island because they have to hunt for their own food, and since the loss of their parents (Sky's mother and River's father) things have become a lot harder, but they still survive. As long as they're together, Sky is happy.
That all changes shortly after Sky's sixteenth birthday, when River notices a boat in the distance. Now their quiet existence is threatened, because when two strange men arrive on their island River wants to go back to civilisation. Sky doesn't want to leave, but there's no convincing River and she's not going to stay on Island without him. So, they let the men take them to California, and life changes overnight.
In this new place people are different and there are so many things Sky doesn't recognise. Worst of all, River leaves to chase his own destiny. Leaving her alone with a grandmother she doesn't know. A woman who, while she's kind and willing to do whatever it takes to help Sky adjust to the world away from Island, keeps many secrets and despises the one thing Sky loves the most--River.
No matter how much she learns, or even that she befriends a nice boy called Ben, Sky just can't adapt and spends most of her days dreaming about finding River and returning to Island. While she sneaks out at night and spends alone time on the beach. This world isn't for her, no matter how hard she tries to pretend it is. And one night, she finds out that River feels the same way. But in a world where there are so many more unknown dangers than these two innocents are used to, their lives change in a split second...
OMG. Wow! I loved every single minute of this wonderful book. I felt Sky's heartbreak every step of the way, her conflicting emotions as she wants to learn as much as she can to help her return to the only place she wants to call home. It's so compelling, and reading a story where our world is seen through the eyes of a character who doesn't recognise anything we take for granted, was quite a refreshing experience. Plus Sky is a wonderful narrator.
Searching for Sky is an amazing, well-written, heartbreaking story about two teenagers forced to live in a new world that ends up causing them more distress than the peaceful existence they lived in most of their lives. It's also intriguing, moving, tragic and beautiful. A real page-turner because I just couldn't put the book down. Not until I'd devoured every page and found out the shocking mystery behind their seemingly simple lives.
I loved this book so much, and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! Actually, I told my daughter about it and she was interested in reading the first chapter to see what it was like... and read it faster than I did! Yes, it's that good.
Searching for Sky, July 2014, ISBN 9781408846643, Bloomsbury Childrens
A retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies race against time to stop a psycho-loner intent on blowing up thousands... Stephen King is on a roll, this time with the heart-pounding suspense that he does best.
A cat-and-mouse suspense thriller featuring a retired homicide detective who's haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular - the pre-dawn slaughter of eight people among hundreds gathered in line for the opening of a jobs fair when the economy was guttering out. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. The plot is kicked into gear when Bill Hodges receives a letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. He taunts Hodges with the notion that he will strike again. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing that from happening. Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he's preparing to kill again. Only Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, can apprehend the killer in this high-stakes race against time. Because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands...
Stephen King is one of my favourite authors, so I was really looking forward to reading his latest book. And boy, this turned out to be an awesome thriller that hooked me in right away!
Bill Hodges is a retired homicide detective. Nowadays, he spends most of his days lazing around on his La-Z-Boy with a gun nearby, too many snacks, and so much daytime TV it might end up being enough to push him over the edge. His life has become useless, and he's constantly haunted by the few cases he was never able to solve.
The day he receives a letter from someone claiming to be responsible for one of those unsolved cases--The Mercedes Killer--his life takes an unexpected turn. The letter sets him off on a personal investigation that gets him deeper into what really happened that foggy morning when a bunch of jobless people were run down by a psychotic killer, than he ever did during the initial investigation. It also lights a fire within him that he was sure would never be sparked again after retirement. He even finds a little romance along the way. But it's with the help of his intelligent, computer-savvy teenage neighbour and the oddball woman who turns out to be a lot more intuitive than even she imagined, that he manages to crack the case.
Brady Hartsfield is an unstable man who appears as average as can be on the outside, but is rotten to the core on the inside. He hates everyone. He also lives at home with his mother and has a very creepy relationship with her. He has two jobs, both of them give him the opportunity to peek into people's lives. As well as the opportunity to spy on his next victim--the Det.-Ret.
He has plans for the old, overweight has-been, and he's going to relish every moment of the detective's downfall by taunting him until he can't take it anymore. But when his conniving plan starts to crumble around him because he underestimated the retired cop, Brady is forced to hatch up a new hateful plan. One that will take a lot more victims than his last stint. It might also end up being the last thing he ever does.
OMG. This book was seriously tense. Starting from the very first page, where the awful scene is set and we meet some of the jobless people in line for the Job Fair at City Center. We know what's about to happen to them, but you keep reading... This story is a psychological, tense thriller that keeps you glued to every page because you can't stop until you find out just how this is all going to end.
I also got a kick out of reading the many references to some of his other novels. :)
Mr. MERCEDES is an amazing, nail-biting suspense thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. As usual, Stephen King has created an amazing ensemble of characters that you get to know so intimately you're either rooting for them, or hoping they will die a slow and very painful death. This story's a hell of a ride. It's got heart, scares, and a good dose of sadness too.
I absolutely LOVED every single minute of this brilliant book!
Oh, and check out the creepy book trailer:
Mr MERCEDES, June 2014, ISBN 9781444788631, Hodder & Stoughton
Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It's just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.
When I received an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury, I knew nothing about it. But ended up reading the whole book in under 24hrs!
Bea is a teenager with an odd--but very lovable--family, likes to dance, and has a handful of friends. Yet, none of that is enough to reconcile the personality she has at home to the one she portrays at school. At home she's fun and fiery, enjoys spending time with her Nan and zany three-year old sister, Emma. But at school she's quiet, shy and is constantly being bullied by someone who used to be her friend. Pearl is a mean girl and always singles out Bea, but she doesn't fight back.
When Bea hears about the dance competition Starwars, she wants to participate but her best friend has already committed to being a part of Pearl's dance group. She can't believe her 'best friend' Kat is actually going to dance with Pearl, the girl who constantly calls Bea names, draws demeaning pictures and tries to do everything she can to bring Bea down. As much as she wants to enter, she gives up.
Well, until she tells her grandmother about it and Nan makes other (much better) arrangements. Arrangements that include the school hottie, Ollie. All of a sudden Bea's jiving her way around the dance floor with Ollie. As they advance in the competition and get to know each other, Bea's confidence grows and she starts falling for her dance partner. But Pearl isn't prepared to let Bea have any happiness, because her group has made it into the competition too, and she wants to sink her claws into Ollie.
What follows is a great story about a shy, and almost defeated girl coming out of her shell and allowing her real personality to shine through. Once she realises that she can do anything she sets her mind to, she grows a little more each day. She just needed a devoted grandmother to help her along, a dancing partner who's very attuned to her, and excellent dancing teachers.
Bea is an awesome narrator, and the secondary characters are great too. Ollie's sweet and not at all how everyone expects him to be, Nan is supportive regardless of her personal challenges, Betty is interesting, and Emma is hilarious!
Flirty Dancing is a super cute and fun story about a very talented girl who doesn't realise how strong she is until she accepts herself. It's a coming-of-age story. A story of first love. An exciting dance story. A fun story. But most importantly, it'll keep you hooked from start to finish because you can't stop from cheering for Bea.
This was a book that I knew nothing about, but I'm very glad I got a chance to read. Thanks Bloomsbury Australia!
Flirty Dancing, July 2014, ISBN 9781408856079, Bloomsbury Childrens