Saturday, 31 January 2015

LOOT CRATE


So, we recently found out about a very cool subscription service that sends out a bunch of very cool geeky stuff every month. It's called LOOT CRATE. The exciting thing about it is that it's a mystery box. So you don't know what you're going to get each month. The only thing they give you is a theme.
 
January's theme was REWIND. So we were very excited. The box arrived this week. Yay.
 
This is what it looks like:

 
This is how it was packed:

 
And these are all the goodies:
 
 
We get one box and share the goodies. My daughter got the glasses + badge, and I grabbed the Comic Book Notebook. Everything else is hubby's. ;)
 
I love getting these things because a lot of the time they're exclusive. I can't wait to find out what the theme is for February. We've signed up for six months, and this is actually our second month.
 
This is what December's (theme: ANNIVERSARY) looked like:
 
 
 
There are a few other boxes out there and the one that really caught our eye is HORROR BLOCK. I don't need to tell you what the topic is there, right? I've been a huge horror fan since I was a kid so I couldn't resist. This month's box should arrive soon. I can't wait...
 
But that's a post for another day. :)
 
Have a great weekend!

Friday, 30 January 2015

PLEASE REMAIN CALM by Courtney Summers


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today I had a bit of a zombie-reading day. I read The Walking Dead #136 and then got stuck into this novella. :)

I LOVED This Is Not A Test, so I was looking forward to reading this one. Especially after my daughter read it and kept talking about the ending.

Sloane and Rhys are determined to reach Rayford because it's supposed to be safe, but the world they live in is dangerous and overrun by the dead. So they wind up losing each other. Rhys barely survives and is convinced he'll never see her again, but sometimes the pendulum swings from bad to good luck when you least expect it. Before screwing you up again.

The story is told by Rhys, and I have to admit that at first I missed Sloane's POV because Rhys was a little too abrupt. And even whiny. But that was when they were together. As soon as they're apart, his story really took off. The secondary characters in this novella were so interesting.

And like my daughter said: THAT ENDING. OMG. WTH? No. :(

It all came together very well. I really enjoyed this, and hope there's another one coming. I need to know what happens next.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

LOVE BOMB by Jenny McLachlan

Love Bomb
Betty Plum has never been in love. She's never even kissed a boy. But when H.O.T. Toby starts school it's like Betty has been hit with a thousand of Cupid's arrows. It's like a bomb has exploded – a love bomb!
 
More than ever Betty wishes her mum hadn't died when Betty was a baby. She really needs her mum here to ask her advice. And that's when she finds hidden letters for just these moments. Letters about what your first kiss should feel like and what real love is all about…
 
Is Betty ready to fall in love? Will she finally have her first kiss?


Last year I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of a mega cute book called Flirty Dancing. Both my daughter and I absolutely loved it, so we were mega excited when we received the ARC for the second book in the Ladybirds series. And just like the first book, I read it in a day!

Betty Plum has just turned fifteen. She might be running late like usual, but she's still having a great day with her friends. When she meets the new kid in school, she sets her sights on this hottie. Toby is tall, cool, the right kind of boy she wants. So she makes it her mission to get his attention, which she has no trouble doing. Before she realises what's happening, she's caught up in a Toby whirlwind that has her fronting his band, hanging out with him outside of school, and doing all types of non-Betty things just to be around him.

This is one of those times when she wishes she still had her mother around. Sure, Betty and her father have a great, quirky life together and do all sorts of awesome, unusual things but she could use some advice about boys and falling in love. And that's where her mother's letters come in. Since her mother died when Betty was very small, her father's passed on a birthday letter every year. This one happens to be the last one, so she puts it off for a while. But when she eventually decides to open it, this final letter leads to a cache of secret letters.

As Toby pays more attention to her, she starts losing touch with her best friend Bill. A boy she's known all of her life and is still there when she really needs him. But she's also letting down her friends Kat and Bea. And she's starting to not get along with her father because for the first time in her life, he might have met someone that threatens their cool family routine. Not to mention the worst thing of all--that she's starting to stifle a bit of her awesome self. So Toby doesn't think she's stupid, she starts taming down some of her more odd tastes.

This story is just as good as the first one. It's fun and quirky, featuring a headstrong heroine who is hilarious but slowly starts to lose herself because she's convinced she's in love with a 'cool' boy. It's also an emotional ride about one young girl trying to use her dead mother's letters as a way of guiding her through romance and love. And what happens is her experiences, though different, end up being parallel to her mother's letters.

Love Bomb is another super cute, fun story about a very unique girl who loses sight of what's important on her quest to finding love. It's a coming-of-age story about a teenager who doesn't want her family life to change. A story about understanding that love is sometimes right in front of you. And just like Flirty Dancing, it'll hook you in from the beginning. This time, instead of cheering along, you'll probably want to hug Betty. Behind this hilarious, nice girl hides a sadness that leaps off the pages and touches your heart.
 
I loved this book, and I'm really enjoying this series. Thanks Bloomsbury Australia!
  

Love Bomb, April 2015, ISBN 9781408856093, Bloomsbury Childrens

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

THE HERE AND NOW by Ann Brashares

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Seventeen-year-old Prenna James emigrated to New York when she was twelve. But Prenna didn't come from a different country, she came from a different time - a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they're from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she's told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth and take the lives of her younger brothers. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan.

She might be able to save the world ... if she lets go of the one thing she's found to hold on to.

 
I was looking forward to reading this book. The premise sounded interesting and the cover is gorgeous. So, I was glad that I was engrossed from the beginning.
 
Prenna James is an immigrant. Not from another country, or even another planet. She's emigrated from the future. She lives in a world that is in ruins. The world has been ravaged by the selfish, greedy ways of humans, and a blood plague carried by mosquitos does the rest of the devastation. She's young, but she's lost a lot, and now lives with her mother within a tight-knit community of fellow travellers.
 
They arrived in 2010 and are here to make a change, to ensure that the future doesn't end up the same as the place they escaped. There are strict rules they need to adhere to, and one of those is to never get intimate--physically or emotionally--with one of the time natives. As much as she tries, Prenna does her best to not get involved, but Ethan is hard to ignore. He's nice, funny, persistent, and seems to know a lot more about her than other natives.
 
When Prenna realises that all the rules she's been trying to stick to are more about control and surveillance than to help create a better future, she's upset and angry. But when a familiar face from her life makes her see things the way they really are, she finds herself in the middle of a race against the clock. With Ethan's help, she has to stop the murder of someone pivotal to saving the future. By doing this, she ends up breaking all the rules. And it feels amazing.
 
Spending time with Ethan, as they try to solve the mystery, makes all of her defences shatter until she can't deny how she really feels. Until she trusts him with a lot of secrets about the life she left behind and slowly starts to fall for him. But theirs is a forbidden love, because if they let themselves get too close they might just destroy everything. Not just each other.
 
This was a great book! It's a time travel/futuristic book with a twist of thriller, and a nice sprinkle of romance. But at its core I also saw it as a wake-up call to our world. Sure, the story might be fiction but with everything that's changing in our world and the amount of people in power who push their denial because of greed, it's not so far off. There's a particular conversation that goes on between Prenna and Ethan that really touched a nerve. She mentions how surprised she was to find that people in our time already know so much about climate change and what it can do, but no one does anything about it. And it's so true.
 
I love that such a lovely story also got me thinking about real life issues we face today, and so many conveniently ignore.
 
The Here and Now is a beautiful, unique and intriguing story seen through the eyes of a determined teenager who tries hard not to break the rules, but at the same time just can't seem to stop herself. Prenna is a wonderful and strong heroine that does everything within her power to help make a change to the world's future. It's also a forbidden love story that tears at your heartstrings.
 
I really enjoyed this book!
 

The Here and Now, January 2015, ISBN 9781444921922, Hodder Children's Books

AUSTRALIA DAY BOOK GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP WINNER


2015-ausday
 
Firstly, no matter where you live, I hope you all had a great weekend.
 
Secondly, THANK YOU to everyone who entered my contest!
 
After using Random.org, the winner is...
 
Angelya @ Tea in the Treetops
 
Angelya, please send me an email--it's on the Contact Me tab--and let me know which eBook format you prefer, so I can send the Sierra Fox series to you ASAP. :)
 
 
 Congrats!
 
And once again, thank you for stopping by.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

NUESTRA SENORA DE LA ESPERANZA by Carrie Vaughn


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know anything about the Wild Cards universe, but I enjoy Carrie Vaughn's books, so I decided to give this a go. Not to mention that it's a TOR.com story, and you know how much I like reading those. ;)

Ana Cortez is an ace, an Earth Witch. But after being injured in a war, she's back home with her father and brother. Injured and haunted by terrible memories of what she had to do, she's doing some soul searching. But to do that, she has to go much farther than to the trailer park. She has to drive to Mexico to meet her grandmother.

This was an emotional and intriguing story about self-forgiveness and self-acceptance. I loved it. It's interesting and very well written.


View all my reviews

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop


2015-ausday

Hello--I mean, G'day--and welcome to my first Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop.

This weekend, Australians have a long weekend to celebrate Australia Day. So I'm going to join a bunch of book bloggers, publishers, booksellers, and authors by taking part in a big giveaway that celebrates Australian books.

Since I'm an Aussie author and my Sierra Fox series is set in Oz, I've decided to give away the 5 eBooks in the series to one lucky person.


So if you'd like to enter, just leave a comment on this post. The contest is open to everyone and will end at midnight on Tuesday, January 27th. I will pick one winner the next day (via Random.org).

And because it's a blog hop, don't forget to check out all the other stops at Book’d Out for your chance to win some great books.

Good luck!

I'll be taking it easy this weekend, and I hope you will too.

Happy Australia Day.
 
 

THERE WILL BE LIES by Nick Lake

There Will Be Lies
Shelby Jane Cooper is seventeen, pretty and quiet. It's just Shelby and her mom, Shaylene, a court stenographer who wears pyjama jeans, stitches tapestry, eats ice-cream for dinner and likes to keep Shelby safe. So safe she barely goes out. So safe she doesn't go to school. Because anything could happen, to a girl like Shelby. Anything.
When Shelby gets knocked down by a car, it's not just her leg that's broken: Shelby's world is shattered. Her mom turns up to collect her and drives off into the night, like it's the beginning of a road trip, like two criminals on the run, like Thelma and Louise or Bonnie and Clyde. And somehow, everywhere she looks, there's a coyote watching her, talking to her, telling her not to believe.
Who is Shelby Jane Cooper? If the person who keeps you safe also tells you lies, who can you trust?
 
 
I received this book from Bloomsbury and knew nothing about it, but decided to give it a go. The premise sounded intriguing, and after reading the first chapter I knew I definitely wanted to read it.

Shelby Cooper is seventeen years old and lives a very sheltered life with her mother, Shaylene. They live in a small apartment in Scottsdale, Arizona. Shaylene works as a court stenographer  to support them, and even manages to homeschool Shelby. Their routine is the same every day and she doesn't have any real friends. Fridays are the only days that break routine because it's Ice Cream for Dinner Night, and when she gets to use her beloved baseball bat at the batting cages. It's also when she stops by the library and gets to chat to a really nice guy who works there.

The night Shelby gets hit by a car, life as she knows it changes. She ends up in the hospital and when she's well enough to leave her mother packs all of their belongings in the car and announces they're moving. She's fine about moving, even if her foot is busted and she can't walk properly. Shelby knows her mother loves her and has always protected her, so she goes along with this plan.

But when it becomes obvious that her mother has been keeping secrets, and she starts acting differently, Shelby starts to question her. Not to mention that Coyote keeps calling her into the Dreaming, and Shelby finds herself on a quest to save a crying child she's been dreaming about all of her life.

Before Shelby realises what's going on, they're on the run. She's still happy to let her mother take the lead but eventually starts to understand just how deep the secrets and lies run. And suddenly, she doesn't know who to trust...

This book is amazing. I had a hard time summarising the plot without giving too many details away. Trust me when I say that I left out a bunch of pivotal points because giving them away would ruin the exciting way this story unravels. And it's a truly wonderful experience, to watch the world unfold and truly comprehend how far this poor girl's life has to shatter before everything can be put back together.

Shelby is a somewhat unreliable narrator and leaves out important details when it suits her. A technique that totally works for this story because it's a fascinating story about a teenager who doesn't know how to deal with the truth when everything is revealed.

There Will Be Lies is an exceptional, addictive, heartbreaking book. The story hooked me instantly, and all I wanted to do was keep reading. I desperately wanted to see where everything was going to end up. I really liked the way this story was written. And the title is perfect!

I absolutely loved this book. It's hard to put into words just how much I enjoyed this.
 
There Will Be Lies, January 2015, ISBN 9781408856000, Bloomsbury Childrens

Friday, 23 January 2015

Just a few things


Hey, how is everyone today? It's Friday, so I'm cool. Especially since we're heading into a long weekend. Yay.
 
This week has been kinda hard. Because we hit the workouts pretty hard last week, went for a massive city walk on Saturday, and completed our 14 Day Lean Legs Challenge... I was buggered. So tired that I hurt my right arm. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty shitty because it's really hard to give your right arm a rest when you're right-handed. O_o
 
Anyway, it's feeling a lot better. So I'm glad we'll have three days to relax, instead of two. And that hubby will be home.
 
You know how I really want to blog a lot more than I did last year? Well, so far I've been doing pretty good. I mean, the aim of the goal isn't to blog every single day, but a lot more than a few times a month. So far, so good. And the other day I was thinking about how it would be awesome if I could keep track of when/what I was blogging. I thought about it for a while and decided that I would start a new notebook just for that, when I remembered that I have a totally awesome planner.
 
So, this is what I decided to do:
 
 
There are two pages like this at the beginning of the planner with the title Timetable. I don't need a timetable, but I totally love the format. There's enough space to list the weeks, dates and spaces to jot down the blog titles. So, there you go! Love it.
 
I'm glad I thought of this now that it's the beginning of the year.
 
So, the FLEs for DASH didn't come in this week. And while I toyed with the idea of getting started on some revision, like I mentioned above, I just wasn't in the mood. Sitting in front of the computer for hours with a sore arm isn't ideal. Instead, I caught up on some reading.
 
FYI, this year I'll be taking part in this:
 
2015-ausday
 
So drop in tomorrow for your chance to win some Sierra Fox eBooks. 

Well, that's it for today. I just wanted to drop in for a little update and to share my latest Planner Idea. I really love this SW Moleskine Planner. :)
 
Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

WARM UP by V.E. Schwab


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Warm Up by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is yet another TOR.com story. There are so many good ones that I've decided to read one after every book I read. :)

David hasn't left his house for a long time. 297 days to be precise. After the avalanche that took his life also managed to change him, he hasn't been able to go outside and face the world or people. Even his wife left him and took their son.

It's taken a long time for him to feel in control enough to go anywhere.

The night he decides to go out, he stops by a bar and everything goes well. It's afterwards, when he's heading home, that someone sneaks up on him and ruins David's life.

What a great story! I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I read this prequel shortie before the first book in the series. Which I've already got on my Kindle. :)


THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black

Faeries. Knights. Princes. True love. Think you know how the story goes? Think again...
 
Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He's the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him - but what happens when dreams come true? In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for...
 
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Holly Black spins a dark, dangerous and utterly beautiful faerie tale, guaranteed to steal your heart.
 

I like a good faerie tale, and one written by Holly Black is sure to satisfy.
 
Hazel and Ben live in the town of Fairfold. They're siblings who are very close, yet don't realise how far apart their separate secrets keep them. 
 
In the darkest part of the forest there is a glass coffin. Inside lies a beautiful sleeping prince with horns. He's quite the spectacle and draws the attention of tourists who mostly don't believe he's a real boy. It's also a popular hangout for teen parties, where they drink the night away and someone usually attempts to unsuccessfully break the glass.
 
Hazel and Ben spent most of their childhood in the woods because their artist parents were more concerned with having parties than taking care of two kids. But they didn't mind, they learned to survive in the woods and Hazel was determined to become a knight. She was so determined she even found a very cool sword she started wielding as her own when she decided to hunt monsters.
 
But now the monster in the woods is getting hasty. No longer is it happy to take the odd tourist, it's now also hurting the locals. So Hazel makes it her mission to hunt down and destroy the monster. The night that the prince's coffin is miraculously shattered and he's set free, the turn of events send Hazel and Ben down a very dangerous path, all leading to the cruel Alderking...
 
This was an awesome book. I got swept away in the story as soon as I met Hazel and found out she was a complicated character. A girl who likes to kiss boys at parties but doesn't commit to any of them. Someone who is scared of falling in love, yet has been for years. And a person whose bravery and desire to help her brother turns her waking and sleeping lives into a big mess she has to decipher.
 
I also liked Jack. The changeling with an unexpected story of his own. A faerie boy who has lived with the humans all his life, with a family that truly loves him. Yet he yearns to experience his true nature. And Ben, the one bestowed with a musical gift he didn't know how to use and did whatever it took to escape the responsibility.
 
Together, these characters and the others around them create an excellent modern myth. One that turns the stories and archetypes we know so well upside down.
 
The Darkest Part of the Forest is an intriguing, exciting tale of bravery, friendship, love and secrets. It's spooky and dark, and hooked me in from the beginning. I had a great time discovering all of Hazel's lost memories at the same time she did. And the ending was magical. Loved that Epilogue!
 
This was a great story. Loved it!
 
Check out the really cool book trailer: 
 

 
The Darkest Part of the Forest, January 2015, ISBN 9781780621739, Hachette Indigo 

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Reading Thoughts


The other day, I saw this on the Dymocks Twitter stream:
 
 
And it got me thinking...
 
As soon as I looked at the chart I labelled myself a MONOGAMIST READER because I love to grab one book and totally lose myself in it until I reach The End. And while it's true in most cases, I realised that I'm not always just this type of reader.

Sometimes, when a book isn't working for me, I'll put it aside and start a different one. Which definitely puts me in the POLYGAMIST READER label. And I usually stay that way until I decide that the first book isn't working for me, or wind up devouring the second book and sneaking in a chapter or two of the one I'm not so into. BTW, this also counts with my own writing. I often find myself editing/revising my book during the day, while rewarding myself with another at night.

In essence, that still means I'm reading more than one book at a time.
 
Then there's the EXTROVERT & INTROVERT READER. Okay, this is where things get a little weird. Although I love to read in a variety of genres, and I'm certainly not afraid to give a new story style a go, I'm also very much attracted to certain genres. I'm a HUGE urban fantasy and mystery fan. I can't go past a new book/series in these two genres and definitely analyse and ponder what I'm reading. But I'm also always on the lookout for new/different stuff.
 
And I'm definitely an ALTRUIST READER. When I love a book I rave on about it on my blog, Twitter and Goodreads. I tell my daughter all about it and because she's such a big reader she winds up getting stuck into it as well.
 
As far as the NEUROTIC READER... yep, this happens too. And it's usually when I'm either having a really bad run with books that I just can't get into, OR when I want to read SO MANY books at the same time that my mind can't stick with one story. :/
 
Well, there you have it. Depending on the book or my mood, I can be just about any kind of reader and fit into all six categories above.
 
What about you? What kind of reader are you?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Cycle of Clutter


Now this is a word that can make me crazy.
 
Mainly because I'm so good at unintentionally creating clutter for myself.
 
When I receive or buy something, I don't put it away. I like to put the item/s on my stationery trunk. So that I can see what I've got. It's not just because I like to look at pretty new things, but mainly because in order to put things away I usually have to reorganise something else. Or think long and hard about where I'm going to put it.

This happens a lot with new books and stationery.
 
I love collecting notebooks, pens, post-it notes, etc. so much that I can't stop buying them. The same thing goes for books. It doesn't matter if I have an abundant supply of all these things, I just can't walk past a lovely notebook or an interesting novel. LOL. It's a compulsion.
 
Last week I spent a bunch of time putting away the clutter I'd accumulated on top of my stationery trunk. And managed to clear most of it off. Until we went to DAISO over the weekend and I managed to start a new pile. ;)
 
Stationery and book clutter aren't the only things I need to deal with. There's always mind clutter, which happens a lot because my head is usually full of ideas and plans. And then there's file clutter.
 
I'm super paranoid about my computer files. The thought of losing anything forces me to backup everything, at a bunch of separate places. One of the things that got really out of hand was my pictures file. I have different folders with pics I like to post here, as well as on Twitter, and I often find inspirational pictures online that I like to collect. Well, all of those--as well as the photos I take on my phone--were out of control. I had hundreds of pictures on my phone that weren't organised.
 
So, I spent Friday morning going through everything.  It took hours, but I'm very glad with how everything is filed now. I can't believe I had duplicate files everywhere. It's crazy to let things get so out of hand, but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day. o.O
 
Well, now it's done and I feel a lot better. It's much easier to synchronise daily. All I have to do now is make sure that I keep this system going and don't let it get out of hand again.
 
Only problem is that clutter has a way of sneaking up on you. Don't even get me started on everything crowding my mind... 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Moleskine Love


The other day I spoke about how much I love my Moleskine planner:

 
But this isn't my first Moleskine, and it definitely won't be my last. :)
 
Until a few years ago, I didn't know anything about these lovely and stylish notebooks. I actually stumbled upon them while googling journals and notebooks. The name Moleskine kept popping up, so I eventually started looking them up. And I really liked what I found.
 
I'm a sucker for any sort of stationery, but LOVE collecting notebooks. I actually have more notebooks than I need, but that won't stop me from buying more.
 
I usually put them in groups: 
 
* Notebooks that are TOO pretty to use.
* Notebooks that I want to find a use for.
* Notebooks for brainstorming.
* Notebooks to take quick notes while browsing online.
* Notebooks for journaling.
* Notebooks that can have their pages ripped out...
 
I think you get the gist of it. ;)
 
Anyway, back to the Moleskine. I've always loved grid (graph/squared) books, but for some reason they're very hard to find in Australia. Unless you want an ugly exercise book. I've had a hard time finding these kind of notebooks here. SO, when I found out they were an option in Moleskines, I was so excited I bought one--in classic black. When it came in, I fell in love with not just the way it looks but also the inside.
 
And the rest, as they say, is history.
 
This is what my collection looks like now:
 

Aren't they awesome?
 
My favourite size is large, but I also think that the pocket-sized ones are super cute! And I like the way it feels to write in them. I can't wait to get more! LOL.
 
I mostly buy mine from The Book Depository because they've got the cheapest prices and free postage, but I did buy some from Go For Cheaper as well. They were pretty good, but if you're International you have to spend $35 to qualify for free postage. I've seen some in a few stores here in Sydney but the prices are RIDICULOUS! I don't have a problem with feeding my Moleskine obsession from online stores.
 
What about you, do you like Moleskine notebooks? Or do you collect some other kind?
Do tell, because I'm always looking out for new ones. ;)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The year so far...


I can't believe we're already halfway through this month. Yikes! 
 
January is not just the start of a new year, but it's also when my daughter has summer holidays. That means that she's got school holidays during half of December and most of January. She doesn't go back until the 29th. And for that reason, I don't usually make too many writing goals.
 
I take each week as it comes, and while I do try to get some things done, I mostly just go with the flow. Sometimes I get these things done, other times I don't. And that's okay.
 
2015 started with edits. Last week I completed the second round of edits for DASH, and will probably get the FLE very soon. If everything goes according to plan, I should be done with the whole process by the end of the month. Fingers crossed. And then I can look forward to my Robot Love Story being available in May. :)
 
After completing that, I wanted to take a breather this week. I've been reading a little, trying to visualise my Goals Plan a lot, and sorting through my books, notebooks, stationery, and toys. Only problem with splitting the day with all these things is that I only manage to get a little of each thing done by the end of the day. Which is fine with me. The best way to tackle tasks is by taking small steps to reach the finish line. :)
 
Besides, my daughter enjoys the sorting through stuff too.
 
I've also been blogging a lot more than I used to, which I'm very happy about.
 
Back to the writing plan, because I do have a plan. If I get stuck into Lavie's final draft in February--and then tackle Willow's right after it--I might be able to meet my Finish two books and two novellas by July goal. This means I need to stick to a strict plan during the first half of 2015, which includes the two-weeks school holidays in April. 

I'm getting tired just thinking about it. ;)
 
Phew. But seriously, if I can stick to this plan that means I can spend the last half of 2015 working on other projects. I have SO MANY new ideas that I want to explore and brainstorm...
 
The other thing I want to focus on is getting back into a nice workout routine. We've been doing pretty well so far and have even added this to the mix:
 
 
This workout is seriously good, and hard. Very hard. We're up to Day 11, and all I can say is Thank God for the rest days and the fact we're so close to the end. It's definitely a great challenge. We've decided to tackle it several times during the rest of the year. But with plenty of space in between because, my poor legs. :/
 
The other day I received the rights for my short story Better Off Alone. I've removed it from my books section and updated the details on Goodreads. This is the second book that's been released from Damnation Books. The first was Faithless, and there will be more during this year and the next. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them as they come in, but I'm definitely not going to rush into anything. Maybe I'll republish them, maybe I won't. Not sure yet. But it's definitely something to think about...
 
Just not now. Some other time.
 
Well, that's it for now.
 
See ya!
 

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

BURNING GIRLS by Veronica Schanoes


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"In America, they don’t let you burn. My mother told me that."

I have to start by saying, Wow. This is a very powerful, well written, heartbreaking novella featuring fascinating Jewish mythology, folklore and great characters.

As soon as I started reading Deborah's story, I was hooked. Deborah learned everything she knows about healing and helping people from her grandmother. Although there seemed to be peace for a while, everything soon falls apart and her and her sister Shayna leave Poland to go to the New World. But there are some things not even a new location can banish from a cursed family.

No matter how hard she tries, some demons will always come out on top. :(

I loved Deborah's voice, and enjoyed going through her terrible ordeals. She was so positive and determined in the face of danger that I was constantly hopeful for her.

The sheer horror of this story was sad, heartbreaking, even devastating... but I absolutely loved it.

This is another terrific TOR.com story!

You can read it here: http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/06/bu...# No, you should read it.

Monday, 12 January 2015

THE VANISHING GAME by Kate Kae Myers

The Vanishing Game
The bond between twins is unmistakable. For Jocelyn and Jack, that bond was all they had. But now Jack is dead. Then Jocelyn receives a letter from Jason December-the code name Jack used when they were children. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush. But Noah isn't the one contacting Jocelyn. The two of them return to Seale House, the frightening foster home where all three of them lived together.
 
Seal House has more secrets than they could have ever imagined. And it suddenly seems possible that Jack faked his death, that the letter and the riddles that follow are cryptic clues leading to his real whereabouts. But someone else is looking for him-someone dangerous. Jocelyn and Noah must race to find Jason December. That is, if he's alive...
 

This is actually a book that I've noticed several times on Goodreads. So when I received a review copy from Bloomsbury late last year I was excited about reading it.
 
Jocelyn is seventeen and has already lived a pretty hard life. If it wasn't for her twin brother, Jack, she probably wouldn't have been able to survive living with a selfish and very careless mother. Or survived the years they spent in foster care living in the very creepy Seale House with their abusive foster mother.
 
But Jack is dead. He was killed in a car accident.
 
While trying to live with the heartache and loss, Jocelyn receives a letter from Jason December. The code name her brother used when they were kids and were constantly playing games with each other and their friend, Noah. As soon as she receives this letter, she realises her brother isn't dead and heads back to Watertown. That's where the letter was sent from. It's also where some of her most traumatic and confusing memories were made, and where Noah still lives.
 
Noah is the boy she had a crush on when she was twelve. The same nice, caring boy who helped the twins and other kids survive Seale House until the night everything fell apart.
 
But Noah isn't the same boy she remembers, and he doesn't believe her. Actually, he doesn't seem very excited to see her. It's not until the evidence is too hard to ignore, and they both get caught up in Jack's game, that he starts to come around. 
 
If Jocelyn and Noah are going to find Jack, they have to delve deep into a past they tried to escape. As the pieces start to come together, they are both led to some very unexpected answers. But along the way they must face their fears, betrayal, and the unspoken feelings between them.
 
Yikes. This book. It seriously hooked me in right away. I love a good thriller riddled with crazy clues that are supposed to lead the characters to something big, yet confuse them along the way. Jocelyn's story was also riddled with creepy occurrences that sometimes led me down the possibility of supernatural shenanigans. Although I did toy with the possibility earlier on in the book and then dismissed it, when the twist ending was revealed I was still shocked.
 
I thought the story flowed very well, slowly leading the reader down one path only to shove them into another. But once the truth is revealed and I thought about what was going on and what was said, the clues were there all along.
 
There were only two problems I had with the story. The first was the final chapter, which I felt tidied up everything that had happened a little too neatly. Almost as if in desperate need of a HEA, when I think this book deserved a HFN. I honestly think the story would have been a lot stronger without the final chapter. And the other thing was Jocelyn's uncanny ability, which I think could have been explored a little more.
 
The Vanishing Game is an intense YA thriller that keeps you intrigued all the way through as you try to figure out Jack's puzzles along with Jocelyn and Noah. It also keeps you on your toes as you start suspecting everyone--even the main character. It's clever and definitely a page-turner. 
 
In spite of the ending, I really enjoyed it!

The Vanishing Game, December 2014, ISBN 9781619631274, Bloomsbury Childrens

My Daily Planner


Hey, how are you today? Hope you all had a great weekend. I certainly did.

Monday morning sucks, so I thought it might be nice to brighten it up by posting about something nice.

Last year I decided that instead of having a bunch of random To-Do Lists lying around on post-it notes and scrap pieces of paper, I was going to have a daily planner/diary/journal hybrid. So I picked up a cheap but nice notebook from K-Mart and set up my own system. It consisted of some parts bullet journal and a lot of parts smash journal.

Not only did I want to have a notebook to jot down Lists (love making lists) but I also wanted to be able to stick pictures in, write down quotes, list the books I bought/read. It was a place for me to add just about anything I wanted to.

This is it:

 
It worked out pretty well and helped me keep a record of a lot of things, including important/relevant dates, ideas, goals and word counts. But there was something about it... Although this makeshift notebook was great, I still wasn't satisfied. It wasn't what I really wanted.
 
Let me back up a little. I like planner/diaries, but I'm also very fussy. I find that a Day To a Page is too much, and a Week to Two Pages isn't enough. I want a calendar format, but also some room to add my own notes. So when I found out that there was a Moleskine planner that actually has a Week To One Page and also a blank page, I had to check it out.
 
After some research, I ended up buying this:
 
 
This turned out to be everything I'd always wanted in a planner. A place where I can jot down daily goals, events, appointments, and things I do on one side. Then on the other page, there's enough room for notes, stickers, doodling, To-Do Lists, and anything else I feel like writing down.
 
This one happens to be for 18 months. Although these dates suited me perfectly this time around, I will be switching to 12 months when 2015 is over.
 
This is what the inside looks like:
 
 
See, this is perfect for me!
 
Like other Moleskine journals, there's also an expandable inner pocket at the back:
 

The Star Wars theme is a nice touch. ;)
 
I've developed a bit of a Moleskine obsession during the past year and have a variety of lovely notebooks. Some are just too pretty to write in, but I do have one ready to become my writing/ideas journal. But that's a post for another day. LOL.
 
And wherever my planner goes, so does my trusty pencil case full of pens:
 
 
Well, that's about it. I just wanted to share a few pics and features about my SW planner. It's just so ideal and lovely, that I had to write something about it. I love sharing info about nice, lovely things that are also practical.
 
 
 Have a nice day!

Friday, 9 January 2015

THIS CHANCE PLANET by Elizabeth Bear



My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another TOR.com story. They post some really good stuff over there.

Ilya is trying to convince Petra to harvest a liver for money. He's in a band and while she slaves away as a cocktail waitress, he pretty much sits on his ass playing his guitar--which he's not even that great at doing.

A chance encounter with a dog on a train makes Petra curious. So curious that she shares food with the dog and even reads up about the animals. And when the dog leads her to a horrible discovery, Petra decides she's been trusting the wrong person.

I really enjoyed this near-future story set in Russia during a time when genetic material seems to be sought after. The way the story developed was enthralling, and I liked Petra's voice. As well as the mythology she mentions, and her appreciation for a homeless dog who desperately needs a home.

Oh, and I thought it was clever how she ends up sharing some of her genetic material without her deadbeat boyfriend getting what he wants. And that she intends to use the money to better her education. Ha!


More Blogging/Blogging More


The other day when I was thinking about the things I'd like to do in 2015, I couldn't help but remember how much I used to blog, and how much I used to enjoy doing it. 
 
I didn't mention this on my Goals Post yesterday because I wanted to post something separately.
 
I've kinda neglected my blog during the last few years, and I'd like to change that.
 
Since Twitter came into the scene, I found myself having less and less time to pop on over and post an update, announcement, or even just a post to talk about what I've been doing. I used to do that a lot, and then...stopped. Sometimes, I found myself posting book reviews and nothing more.
 
Well. I'd like that to change.
 
As you can probably tell, the content during the last week has been a lot better than it was towards the end of 2014.
 
I used to blog religiously. I would make time for it every few days, sometimes every single day. I would make sure to blog first thing in the morning, or last thing in the afternoon. But because I try to squeeze SO MUCH into each day, I run out of time and blogging gets left behind.
 
Well, it's time to get back into some sort of schedule. Sure, there will still be days when there just isn't any time--when I'm editing, revising, or writing like a madwoman--but I think posting a progress post every couple of days shouldn't be too hard. Right?
 
I'm going to give it a try.
 
I promise myself, and this blog, that I will stop by and post a little something, something every chance I get. No more drive-by reviews, or only posting links. I want to get back into blogging. About whatever comes to mind. About everything and nothing. About goals and fails. About word counts and projects I'm working on. About hubby, daughter and Loki. About stuff I love and things I don't. About what I'm doing and what I'm not. I think you get what I mean. ;)
 
So, let's get this blog active again!

CLEAN SWEEP by Ilona Andrews



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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By the time I found out about this book, it was too late to read it online. So I was very excited when it was released as an eBook.

Dina is just an average girl running a nice B&B in small-town Texas. She has a cute Shih Tzu and is a good neighbour. Except, her one guest is an actual otherworldly lifetime visitor outrunning hideous crimes, and Dina happens to be an Innkeeper.

Inkeepers are connected to the house and land. They can wield magic and access other places. The inn can do some freaky stuff too.

When a vicious alien animal starts killing dogs and soon escalates to humans, Dina can't ignore what's going on around her. Even if it means stepping outside the safety of her inn's boundary. And with the help of a werewolf and a vampire, she might be able to help save the neighbourhood.

Sean—the werewolf—and Arland—the vampire—are as fascinating as Dina. All three characters have interesting backstories. I'm also curious about Caldenia. Oh, and the thing about her missing parents is so sad. Hope she gets some answers.

I really enjoyed this story and loved the way an urban fantasy situation was blended with science fiction. Very well done.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Let's talk about Goals...


Like I said last year, I don't make New Year Resolutions because those things just don't last (or stick).

What I do like is setting goals for myself. But I never do that until the year is well on its way.

Why? Mostly because my daughter is home during January, and/or I usually find myself in the middle of an editing cycle. (I'm currently working on edits for DASH.)
 
So it's a lot easier to grab a calendar, notebook and pen sometime in January and start making a list of all the things I'd like to achieve. Sometimes I stick to the plan, other times I don't. Last year I said this: I'd like to write at least two new novels and two new novellas. I didn't end up doing this, but I did Write 3 books, Revised 3 books, Edited 1 book & 2 galleys. Not to mention all of the guest blog posts and interviews I took part in.
 
Phew.
 
As long as the writing/revising is getting done, it doesn't matter what story is told/revised.
 
During 2015, I'd like to finalise the two Sierra Fox spin-off series novels. One of them is about the demon hunter Lavie Grye, and the other about the necromancer Willow Moss. Lavie is ready for the final draft, and Willow's first draft is done. So the bulk of both stories are there, I just need to get them finalised and submitted. I would actually love to have them done by the end of April.
 
Then, I think it's time to write the last two RECAST novellas and finish off that series. I do have a spin-off planned (and did from the very beginning) but that's not as important as Book 5 & 6. I might actually end up writing both first drafts back-to-back. That would be cool. If I could get these done by mid-year, that would be excellent!
 
If I do, then my two Samhain Publishing series will be finished. Which is exciting and scary. Exciting because, wow, that's two major writing goals I've had for years. Scary because I've spent so many years writing about these characters and their very separate worlds. But it's time to get stuck into some new worlds. There's another UF series I'd love to get back to, and a futuristic SF-ish book that I've wanted to write for ages!
 
And those are only two of my other ideas. LOL.
 
Now for the reading. Although I completed my 2014 100-Book Reading Challenge, I also wanted to do this: There are several series that have since finished up but I'm still not caught up. Oh, and several Book 3s in a variety of trilogies. But I didn't. :(
 
I'm still way behind on some of my most fave series, and have a handful of trilogies that I haven't finished reading. So, THIS IS THE YEAR. During 2015 I will definitely do this! Yes.
 
And of course I'd like to stick to yoga, weights workouts, and going for walks. I think it might also be cool to take part in some of those 14 and 30 Day Challenges I keep seeing online. We're doing a 14-Day Leg Challenge right now.
 
Have you made any goals or plans for 2015?
 
Let's hope this is a good one!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

KIA AND GIO by Daniel José Older



Kia and Gio: A Tor.Com OriginalKia and Gio: A Tor.Com Original by Daniel José Older
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another TOR.com short story set in the Bone Street Rumba world, so I was really looking forward to checking it out.

Kia is almost seventeen and she can't get her cousin Gio out of her head. The same cousin she adored, idolised and lost, is haunting her mind. She can't stop thinking about what happened the last time she saw him. The horrifying events are imprinted in her mind, and not just the unexplainable things she saw, but also what she figured out about him.

So when someone comes into work needing a 'reading', she finds herself seeing/feeling a lot more than she expected.

Loved this. It's another great written, dark story featuring horrid creatures. Daniel José Older sure knows how to get the creepy right. Like I've said before, I can't wait to read Half-Resurrection Blues!

You can read the story here: http://www.tor.com/stories/2015/01/ki...

View all my reviews

Tracking Sheets


I'm the kind of writer who likes to keep tallies. Whether I'm writing a first draft, revising, or editing I always set a goal date, which means setting smaller daily goals to get the project done by that certain date. I also write down how many words/pages I get done/through each day.

I usually do this by marking the amounts on a calendar I print up at the beginning of every year. But this makes it hard to keep a running total. So when I was reading through tweets early last year and someone retweeted a link to a spreadsheet an author had put together, I decided to check it out. And loved what I saw.

The very helpful author was Sidney Bristol.

I used Sidney's 2014 Tracking Sheets for every project I worked on last year.

Here are my totals:

If you want to take a closer look, click on the image and check it out.
 
I love how there's a tab for every month, as well as a summary breakdown of Monthly Total Words Written and Monthly Total Pages Edited. Turns out that during 2014 I wrote 217,197 words, and revised/edited 3,440 pages. Yikes! That's a lot of revision. LOL.
 
The spreadsheet I use is also the pretty version with monthly inspirational quotes, which I think is an awesome detail. Actually, the attention to detail in the whole thing is amazing. So the fact that Sidney is willing to share her hard work for free is a very kind gesture indeed.
 
I've downloaded the 2015 Tracking Sheets and have already started using them. If you click on this post, there's also an explanation attached.
 
This is a free resource that I found very handy last year, so I wanted to chat about it, and also share the link. If you decide to check it out and the tracking sheets work for you too, be sure to let Sidney know on her blog or on Twitter. Because like I said, it's really nice of her to offer this to everyone.
 
Happy writing!
 

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Paranormal Road Trip with EJ Stevens...


Today I'm over at From the Shadows (a very cool blog) and taking part in...

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Sydney, Australia with Yolanda Sfetsos author of Seirra Fox Urban Fantasy series

I think this feature is really clever, and I had a blast putting my list together.

So, check it out:

Sydney's Top 5 Spooky Places

Well, it's Sierra's Sydney anyway.
As you all know, I created a fictional suburb called Serene Hills, which is where Sierra lives and works. Though she's certainly not limited to that spot.

Happy spooky reading!

http://www.yolandasfetsos.com/p/sierra-fox.html

Monday, 5 January 2015

THE SHE-HULK DIARIES by Marta Acosta


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG. I loved this book! She-Hulk is a character that I've always been interested in but haven't read enough about. So when I found out about this book I was very interested in checking it out. Glad that I did!

Jennifer Walters starts out the year with no job, no prospects, no apartment, and no boyfriend. She also has a problem with her clothes being ruined. So when someone gives her a journal, she decides to start a diary and set goals for herself. Of course, Jen isn't your average girl. She happens to transform from quiet lawyer to party girl Shulky. She's a superhero, but the others don't want to have anything to do with her.

She-Hulk is fearless, careless, and leaves a trail of destruction behind her.

However, when Jen gets a job with a top firm, things start turning around. Even though she runs into the one guy she really cared about and he's engaged to a Hammerhead. LOL. And it takes her forever to find an apartment. Plus there's a new villain in town: Superbrat.

I had a lot of FUN reading this book. There was a bit of everything: superhero antics, pesky villains, alluring men, great friendships, romance, action, and a cool twist. I loved seeing the tender, caring side of both Jen and Shulky. It was also really cool to see her transform in so many ways and realise that one of her most important goals was self-acceptance of both sides of the same woman.

Like I said, this was great. It's funny, quirky, fun and made me love She-Hulk. She honestly rocks!

Friday, 2 January 2015

Reading 2015


HAPPY NEW YEAR!
 
Well, 2015 is here and I've decided to set a new reading challenge at Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/challenges/3082-2015-reading-challenge
 
I'm aiming to read another 100 novels, novellas, short stories, comic books, poems, etc. during 2015. This has been my target amount of books for the past few years and it seems to work, so... Here's to another awesome year of reading.
 
I also have a Mini-Challenge I'd like to achieve: Finish a bunch of trilogies/series that I have 1-3 books to go until completion. Don't know why I've been putting it off, but this year is the year that I actually GET IT DONE. ;)
 
You can read about my progress on My Reading Page, or at Goodreads.
 
Are you taking the challenge?

 
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