Tuesday, 30 June 2015

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Trish Doller

 The Devil You Know
 From critically-acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a powerful new psychological page-turner perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Sara Zarr.
 
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.
 
A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.


I received the hardback edition of this book last week--thank you Bloomsbury Australia--and was instantly interested in reading this story.
 
Arcadia, or Cadie as everyone calls her, lives in a small town in Florida with her father and very young brother. Since her mother died, she's been taking care of everyone while attending school and working at her father's store. So many things slipped away from her after she lost her mother--grades, soccer team, boyfriend, ambitions. She's just too busy with her everyday responsibilities, which includes practically raising her four-year-old brother, while her father is mostly absent.
 
The night she's invited to a campfire party, she decides to throw caution to the wind and attends. Here she meets a very cute stranger who she invites to the party on a whim, but when she stumbles on his cousin she's instantly smitten. Matt might be good looking and charming, but Noah is a whole lot more. He's scarred, tattooed and sets her blood pumping. Plus he happens to be a really nice guy who isn't shy to share his troubled past with her.
 
Cadie is instantly attracted to him, and ends up agreeing to go on a road trip to Disney World along with another girl who used to be her friend before she became a passenger in her own life.
 
Now, she's determined to shed all responsibility so she can seek adventure with her newfound friends while camping in the wilderness. Even after her friend bails on her, Cadie stays with the two cousins. What starts out as a thrilling adventure into the unknown, and an escape from her confined life, turns into a life and death situation that has her double guessing herself and desperate to figure out who to trust...
 
Wow. This book is a fast read, mostly because the story sucks you in right away and keeps you turning the page until you've reached The End. It's also easy to get annoyed with some of the rash decisions Cadie makes during her story, but at the same time it's easy to put yourself in her shoes. After all, she's lost so much during her young life and hasn't been able to live the life of a teenager so it almost feels like she's catching up for lost time.
 
It's just unfortunate that she gets caught up in a totally insane situation and that others around her have to pay the price.

What I loved about this book was how much growth Cadie shows during the story. She might be careless and totally ignores a lot of the signs that crop up along the way marking the obvious danger she's getting herself into, but she also allows herself to evolve while never really forgetting who she is. I especially loved the way she spoke about her mother, and how she loved her brother so much she never really stopped thinking about him.
 
The Devil You Know is a brilliant and very atmospheric YA thriller featuring a smart girl doing some really stupid things in her quest for adventure. Cadie is a great narrator that frustrated me at times because she makes some pretty dumb decisions, but in spite of that I never stopped liking her. I never lost interest in her story. No matter what she did, I was still in the moment with her and even excused her behaviour at times. How could I blame her from wanting a break from the noose of responsibility tied around her neck? Why would I be angry with her because she wanted to feel alive and chase adventure? And there's no way I was going to question the way she feels when she meets someone who understands her on a deeper level than anyone else ever has.
 
And by the way, I loved the ending! After all the awful things that happen, I was worried about how Cadie's story would end. Yeah, well, I didn't need to worry because I loved how everything turned out.
 
This is an awesome book that explores what happens when someone is bound by so much responsibility at such a young age that one day she just has to spread her wings and find her own way. Even if it leads to some deathly consequences that will alter her life.
 
I'll definitely need to read more books written by this author. :)

The Devil You Know, July 2015, ISBN 9781619634169, Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hey, June is almost over!


Can you believe it? Yikes!
 
Well, it looks like this is now my go-to pic whenever I blog. But how can it not be? I mean, it pretty much captures me during winter: a robe-wearing, book-reading, tea/coffee-drinker who breaks up her hibernation for daily walks. :)
 
Seriously, though. These cold months just don't agree with me. I've been feeling a little under the weather. I'm constantly clogged from nose to throat, keep sneezing, and feel like I'm catching a cold. Which is bizarre since I got the flu shot several months ago. 
 
It's very uncomfortable, but there's not much I can do really. Doctors have already told me several times that there's nothing wrong with my throat or nose, it's just something I need to live with.
 
Yeah, well, sometimes it's easier said than done.
 
Anyway. Let's concentrate on the good things.
 
Last Friday I filled out the blurb and cover art forms for HELL OF A RIDE. That's Lavie's story, in case you forgot. ;) It's always exciting to dream up different versions of a cover and then look up pictures to give the cover artist a peek into what you see inside your mind. Funny thing is I've found that the cover artist I work with at Samhain Publishing always comes up with something WAY better than what I imagined. I really (really) hope that I get Kanaxa again. She's made most of my covers.
 
I also found out that Lavie's book will be released next year, probably around spring 2016. That's the American spring, so we're looking at autumn for us people in the Southern Hemisphere. :P
 
I'll be sure to post the blurb once it's approved, and of course will share the cover when I get it. I can't wait to see this one! In the meantime, I've got my fingers crossed for Willow's story. It's on submission at the moment, and I'd love for her tale to be published as well. That would wrap up all the stories I've written in this world.
 
Well, except for that 50k in-between story that fits (and ties in) Sierra's last book and Lavie's book. But that's another story...
 
The thing about Lavie and Willow's stories is that they're Sierra Fox spin-offs that demanded to be told. Seriously, I couldn't write anything new until these persistent women told their stories. They're also (kinda) companion books that make up a series--or duology--that's called Elsewhere. Why did I call it that? Well, the events of Sierra's series take part in a fictional suburb in Sydney, but Lavie's takes place in multiple locations and Willow's is in an actual coastal NSW city. I wanted to do something different for them. Besides, I thought Elsewhere fit perfectly. While Sierra's story is here, Lavie and Willow's is Elsewhere... but in the same world.
 
Makes sense, right?
 
Last week I didn't binge watch anything new. Thought it was best not to get stuck into anything since my daughter's going to be home for a bit. Haven't decided what will become my new lunch-break show yet, but I'll think of something. ;)
 
I did read, and think a lot about the stories I want to write once RECAST is finished. I get really excited at the prospects and really need to brainstorm before I lose the thread of the many tales I want to tell. So many possibilities, so little time...
 
Oh, and we finally watched FURY ROAD. While we all liked it, none of us loved it. It was good, but not amazing. I mean, sure, it's visually beautiful and there are plenty of kick-ass women in it, but there were just too many plot holes. Too many things didn't make sense. And although I think Imperator Furiosa was an amazing character--seriously, I would love to watch/read her origin story because you just know it's heartbreaking--the movie just wasn't as awesome as I expected it to be.

I think the hype built it up WAY too much. It's also a shame that because Hollywood is seriously lacking in the Female Characters That Are Real People Department, when one does come along (no matter how mediocre it might be) we latch on.
 
Hollywood needs to get their act together and stop being so sexist. Movies with female leads DO SELL. People want to see good characters, and women can be amazing characters. Plus they'll definitely sell. Just look at the book industry and see how well heroines sell. Seriously, man, get with the times! It's the 21st century FFS.
 
Well, have a great week!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

13 DAYS OF MIDNIGHT by Leo Hunt

Luke's just inherited 6 million... And eight ghosts who want him dead.
 
When Luke Manchett's estranged father dies suddenly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance. Luke has been left in charge of his father's ghost collection: eight restless spirits. They want revenge for their long enslavement, and in the absence of the father, they're more than happy to take his son. It isn't fair, but you try and reason with the vengeful dead.

Halloween, the night when the ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching. With the help of school witchlet Elza Moss, and his cowardly dog Ham, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic, and send the unquiet spirits to their eternal rest. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.
 
 
As soon as I received this book and read the back, I knew I would be interested in this story. I mean, it mentions necromancer and murderous ghosts and revenge! Besides, check out that cover, it's so cool. I couldn't wait to get started...
 
Luke Manchett is an average 16-year-old boy who's on the rugby team, hangs out with the right guys, and has a crush on the popular girl. Well, everything on the surface seems normal, because at home things aren't so average. His mother suffers from terrible migraines that keep her tucked into bed every other day, and his father has been MIA for years.
 
So the day he receives a letter telling him that his father--the man who's known for a variety of paranormal shows--is dead and he's inherited a large sum of money, he meets with his father's lawyer and... pretty much signs his life away.
 
Luke's focus was on the money and what it would mean for his mother and him. He wasn't expecting all the other things that come along with the inheritance from his estranged father. Like the creepy old book he can't open, some weird rings, and a bunch of ghosts! Yep. He's now got what is called a Host attached to him, and although all he wants to do is get rid of them, it soon becomes obvious that these freaky spirits want to be released from their bindings.
 
And to do that, they plan to kill Luke.
 
Now Luke has to come to terms with the fact that his father's left him with a paranormal mess. Actually, his Dad wasn't a very nice man at all. He abandoned his family on his quest for supernatural power, and then enslaved eight ghosts that now plan to get revenge by hurting Luke and the people he cares about. So he becomes determined to find a way to stop them.
 
The only person who can help him is a not-very popular girl from school. Elza Moss has the second sight and can see ghosts, plus she has some other witchy talents. But can two teenagers outsmart a bunch of old and very creepy ghosts led by an ancient dead necromancer before Halloween?
 
I had a total blast reading this book! It's packed with supernatural goodness, some very creepy situations, a main character who starts out very self-absorbed and ends up being anything but, a very cool and quirky girl who isn't scared of anything, and an adorable dog called Ham. I also loved how necromancy was portrayed in this book.
 
13 Days of Midnight is an awesome and wickedly imaginative YA urban fantasy book that now has a permanent place on my Keeper Shelf. It's a fun adventure that'll hook you in right away and keep you glued to the page until you reach the thrilling end. And then you'll want more. I definitely want to read more Luke, Elza and Ham adventures, because Mr. Berkley will be back.
 
This turned out to be such a cool book. Fun, fun, fun! Loved it.

13 Days of Midnight, July 2015, ISBN 9781408337462, Orchard Books

Friday, 26 June 2015

Interview at SF Signal!


Hey, how are you today?

The other day Andrea Johnson from SF Signal interviewed me. I always love popping in when Andrea interviews me because she comes up with great, fun questions. This time we chatted about my latest SFR release, my upcoming UF release, and some of my reading habits.
 
You can check it out HERE.

Have a great weekend!
 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on this book for a while, so I put it on hold at the library. Problem was, 60 other people did the same. LOL. But it was eventually my turn to borrow it.

As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I mean, how could I not be? The main narrator--Rachel--is still hung up on the husband who left her two years ago. She's also a hopeless drunk who just couldn't stay on track. Well, except for the train track, because she rode that every single day. Even though she'd lost her job MONTHS AGO.

Then we meet Megan. A woman who is so bored with her life that lying and cheating becomes her thing. Not to mention that she has some seriously dark secrets.

Oh, but there's more.

Enter a woman called Anna, who is now married to Rachel's ex-husband. Actually, she was Tom's mistress for a while before he left Rachel. Anna's now a wife herself, and a mother, but she's more concerned about the picture-perfect family they look like from afar than what's really going on.

The night Megan disappears, the lives of these three women intertwine. One was so blind drunk she can't remember what she saw and why she got hurt. The other starts getting paranoid. And of course, one of them is missing.

I loved this book! It was deliciously messed up. The characters, the story, the conclusion... hell, even the locations are messed up because of these people.

The writing is outstanding. It gripped me from the first word. Even though three women share the narration and all three are several degrees of fucked up, each POV felt/sounded different. The one thing they all share is how self-absorbed and unreliable they all are.

This story is what makes me look forward to thrillers! When they're written well, man. This is a great example of a complicated, gripping and super dark story that surfaces from a very simple topic: sociopaths. ;)

Great book!

View all my reviews

Monday, 22 June 2015

New week, so I thought I'd drop in...



As you can tell from last week's posts, I've been catching up on some reading. Mostly I've been reading intriguing books, but yesterday I finished one that was disappointing. :(

There's nothing worse than reading the next book in a series that I like and not enjoying it. Sometimes it's enough to put me off the rest of the series. Or I might read the next one but if that's still not as good, I'll definitely drop it.
 
Too many books, not enough time.
 
So, did you all read about my news last week? Yay.

Lavie's occultish and very demonic road trip story--HELL OF A RIDE--is going to be published by Samhain. I don't have a release date yet, haven't even filled out the art and blurb paperwork, but I'll keep you posted. I did, however, fill out the art form for RECAST, Volume 2. Once again, no set date but it's still exciting to get the ball rolling, right?
 
The last time I popped in I mentioned that I was watching BITTEN and was almost finished Season 1. Well, I've now also finished Season 2. Yep. I'm all caught up and I have to say that I really like this series. I did have a few issues with casting and then in S2 some of the characters were completely different to the books, but I got over all that. Seriously, that's what happens with all adaptations. Characters get changed, killed off, left alive, look nothing like I imagined, and sometimes are even mixed together... but that's okay. I just enjoyed watching what the TV show writers created, and it's damn brutal, plus action-packed and has your emotions running high.
 
So, I'm definitely a fan and will be tuning into S3 when it starts. I'm already watching S3 of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. What show can I binge on next? ;)

That reminds me that I didn't mention we've finally caught up on the last 6 eps of THE WALKING DEAD S5. Yeah, I don't know if you remember but hubby and I were having a real problem with the direction the show was taking. We weren't happy with the events that followed after the Terminus storyline was finalised. It felt like the writers were trying too hard to make the show something that it wasn't by shoving surreal metaphors all over the place. :/

I'm glad to say that they found their direction again and I really enjoyed how they wrapped up the season. So, we'll continue watching TWD, and will give FEAR THE WALKING DEAD a go. Even if I still hate that name. Yeah. It had gotten to the point where we were seriously considering giving up on the show. We're kinda close to giving up on GRIMM too, because the last five or six eps in S4 were ridiculous.
 
Well, the writing hiatus continues but my mind is filling up with a bunch of ideas. I'm feeling very inspired and have started a new journal. A place to jot down all my ideas, the stories I'd love to write, and just my general thoughts about writing.
 
I feel like I'm going through an unexpected writing transition right now. I'm not sure if it's because of my new publishing situation, or the fact that the two series I've invested so much time in are now so close to being finished. Whatever it is, I'm going with the flow because it's got my brain buzzing with new possibilities. I'm so open to inspiration right now that a pretty or eerie picture can spark a new idea or snippet.
 
It's an amazing feeling.
 
This is my daughter's last week of Term 2, before she has a two-week break. The first week will be just us, but hubby will be home during the second week. I'm looking forward to it because he deserves the break and he'll be home for my birthday in July. Yay.

Anyway, have a great day!
 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

WICKED CHARMS by Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

Lizzy Tucker is happy to work quietly at Dazzle's Bakery, preparing delicious treats for the locals. But her partner Diesel is all about the hunt. Right now he's tracking down a famous pirate's treasure, hidden somewhere along the coast of New England. This bounty contains much, much more than gold and jewels: it's also the hiding place of the powerful Stone of Avarice.
 
Lizzy and Diesel aren't the only ones searching for the Stone. Some greed-driven seekers are willing to kill for it, or even make a deal with the devil. And one of those dangerous seekers looks a lot like Diesel's deceptively charming cousin, Wulf - who also happens to desire Lizzy herself...
 
 
The Stephanie Plum series is one of my faves and I enjoyed the first two books in this series, so I was looking forward to getting stuck into this one. 
 
Lizzy lives in Marblehead Harbor in Massachusetts, and works in the successful Dazzle's Bakery in Salem. She makes some awesome and very delicious treats--her cupcakes are especially good. But that's not all she does, she also has a bizarre and special talent. She can find some very powerful Stones that relate to the seven deadly sins.
 
With the sexy Diesel by her side, she's trying to locate these stones before Wulf does. The man is Diesel's cousin, looks like an alluring vampire, and is usually trying to beat them to the stones. But this time, the trio might have to work together because when Lizzy discovers an old skeleton in the local Pirate Museum, it turns out that it might lead to the latest stone.
 
What follows is an insane adventure filled with havoc, deaths, kidnapping, a pirate's booty, betrayal, underground tunnels, the sought-after stone that inspires lunacy in so many, more death, and a very rich man who believes he is destined to become the demon of Avarice, Mammon. Problem is, this man has also offered Lizzy a publishing contract for the cookbook she's been trying to sell.
 
Throw in a little sizzling chemistry between Diesel and Lizzy, and it's a sure recipe for destruction.
 
Wicked Charms is a fun new instalment in this series. It started out well enough, and even drew a few laughs out of me, but there was something missing. Let's just say that it felt like there were a few missing ingredients from Lizzy and Diesel's adventure. I unfortunately think that it's starting to lose some of its charm. :/
 
There was just something about this book that kept me from enjoying it as much as I enjoyed the others. Also, why did they change the covers? They were so pretty before. This one is very bland and doesn't represent anything that happens in the book.
 
Wicked Charms, June 2015, ISBN 9781472225467, Headline Review

Thursday, 18 June 2015

PIECES OF SKY by Trinity Doyle


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Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG. This book... made me sad, made me cry, and filled me with hope.

My daughter actually read it last week and told me it was a great book, so I couldn't put it off any longer. And I pretty much devoured it. It's amazing!

Lucy used to devote most of her time to swimming. She has trophies, medals and ribbons, but since her older brother died she hasn't been able to go in the water. The first time she tries she actually has a panic attack and then refuses to go in the pool or the beach. This isn't as easy as it sounds because she lives in a coastal town.

She loved her brother--idolised him, really. He taught her how to do almost everything and she misses him like crazy. Since he died a few months ago, the whole family has been falling apart. Her father doesn't see anything but work, her mother can barely get out of bed, and her aunt is trying to keep everyone together.

Lucy distances herself from swimming and ends up hanging out with an old friend, Steffi. And that's how she meets Evan. A nice boy who just moved from Sydney. She instantly likes him, no matter how much she tries to distance herself because she's such a mess. And so, she keeps existing. But when she finds her brother's mobile phone and someone keeps sending text messages, she tries to figure out who it is... and realises that her brother had a few secrets.

This book is amazing. The writing style is intimate and draws the reader into the middle of this family's grief instantly. I found myself riding the rollercoaster of emotions with Lucy. All the lows and sadness that grip her daily, as well as the highs she reaches when she lets herself breathe again.

Another thing I loved about this book was the location. And the awesome Aussie feel. Not to mention that I got a kick out of the scene where Lucy and Evan go to Sydney, because I live near the suburbs mentioned. :)

Anyway, this is Trinity's debut novel and it's a beauty! There might be a lot of heartbreak while reading Lucy's story, but it's all worth it.

BTW, the cover is so pretty!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

TRUDI CANAVAN THIEF'S MAGIC BLOG TOUR


http://www.trudicanavan.com/2015/06/thiefs-magic-blog-tour/
 
Q&A WITH TRUDI: 

1)      Why Fantasy? 

I’ve always been fascinated by stories in which people could do impossible things. As a child I loved fairytales and myths, and I was always attracted to childrens books with ‘magic’ in them. I suspect I was always that child who constantly asked, “But what if…?” Then when I was eight I saw Star Wars and I decided I wanted to make movies when I grew up. Movies with something like The Force in them. I declared this to an adult – probably my favourite teacher – who told me that I should write my ideas down.  

Six years later I read The Lord of the Rings and realised that what I really wanted to do was write about magic, and I’ve been doing so ever since.  

2)      When you're busy writing, what is your 'writer uniform'? 

Anything but pajamas! Though whatever I wear has to be comfortable, it can be as relaxed as tracksuit pants through to a nice skirt or dress. It often depends on what else I’m doing that day. If I’m leaving the house it’s definitely not going to be tracksuit pants, but if I’m planning to work in the garden it might be.   

3)      The idea of a sentient book is intriguing, where did it come from? 

Long ago I had a conversation with some other writers about whether you can write an exciting story with a character who is constrained to one place – or even has no body. I’ve wanted to explore that idea ever since, but my initial plan was to have a character imprisoned somewhere but with a magical spy glass so they can observe the world. With Vella, the sentient book, I’ve done the opposite: she has no body but she can move around with the help of a whole person. 

4)      I noticed that you wrote a Doctor Who novella, so who's your favourite Doctor? 

Yes! It was absolute treat to write it! My favourite was always Tom Baker, because he was the Doctor I associated with the show as a child, but after having written Salt of the Earth I’m torn between him and Jon Pertwee. And I allow myself to have a ‘new doctor’ favourite: Matt Smith.  

5)      Are you a Plotter or a Pantser?
A Plotter to the extreme! I not only write out a detailed outline of a books plot before I start, but if I have multiple point of view characters I’ll create a spreadsheet to track how their subplots align, and when I come to write a scene I’ll write a short outline of it so I am sure it’s going to work. Part of the reason is I have RSI and don’t want to be typing any more than I have to. The other part is that I find the anticipation of a coming pivotal scene keeps me excited and inspired during the necessary lead-up chapters.
Though I do allow some roominess in the plot for playing with the story. Sometimes my outline simply says “something causes them to run into each other” or “around about now war is declared”. And every now and then I’ll have a brilliant idea and change the plot a little to incorporate it. But the endings of my books have always been set in stone before I begin.
Thanks for the questions! And for hosting my blog tour. 
 
Thanks for answering my questions, Trudi. Loved your responses!
 
 
THE BOOK:
 
International No.1 bestselling author Trudi Canavan returns with her most powerful and thrilling adventure yet.
 
 https://www.hachette.com.au/Books/detail.page?isbn=9780356501116
In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen's world faces.

Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer's daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it - should she dare to risk the Angels' wrath.

But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands.

Not even the people they trust.
 
 
MEET THE CHARACTERS: 


 
ENTER THE CONTEST:  
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you'd like to find out more, visit Hachette Australia!

WILD HEARTS by Jessica Burkhart

Wild Hearts
Enjoy Wild Hearts and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury's contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can't have!
 
Brie Carter's father's land development business has taken her family all over the world, but as soon as they arrive at their new home in Lost Spring, Wyoming, the town turns out to protest. They don't want a new hotel if the resident mustang population will be displaced or hurt as part of the deal. Then Brie meets Logan, a gorgeous local who has a special connection to the mustangs, and she is immediately drawn to him . . . and the horses. However, with Logan's father leading the protests and Brie's father refusing to budge, it's clear that their parents are heading towards an all-out war. Can Brie and Logan find a way to save the mustangs and be together? Or is their love doomed from the start?
 
This new title in the If Only line is the perfect summer read and proves that love flourishes in the wildest places!
 
 
I've had a very mixed reaction to most of the If Only books. While I absolutely adored WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN--which was the first one I read--I just couldn't get into the others. So when I received this last week I was a little sceptical. Still, I decided to give it a go, and before I knew it I'd hit page 107.
 
So, yeah, this one totally worked for me. :)
 
Brie Carter does a lot of travelling because her father is a land developer who gets contracts all over the country. This time she's headed for a small town called Lost Springs, in Wyoming. On her first day, before she's even reached the house her family will be staying in, she meets a jerk while trying to photograph bison. A very cute jerk who seems to be everywhere.
 
The one place she was hoping he wouldn't be was protesting the hotel her father is building. Most of the residents are against the structure going up because it affects wild mustangs who will be displaced by the build. And one of the strongest protestor's happens to be Logan's dad--that's the jerk's name. Except, the more she sees Logan, the more she realises that he isn't a jerk.
 
Logan McCoy is a hardworking guy who looks out for his family and is deeply concerned about the horses that will lose their home once the hotel goes up because he has a personal connection to them. The more she hangs out with him, and another local girl called Amy, the more Brie realises that the mustangs are something she's deeply concerned about too. She's never had her own calling, and now that she's found one she's determined to do whatever she can to pursue it.
 
Her newfound passion leads to following a dream she didn't even know she had. But it also gets her caught up in a strong relationship with an awesome guy, and an even stronger friendship with the nicest girl she's ever met. Now Brie knows how hard it's going to be when she has to move again, because it will happen. It's just a matter of time...
 
I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this story! Brie's a really easy narrator to get caught up in. She's not some silly girl who falls for the first cute cowboy she sees. She's actually someone who is very close to her parents and has always kept people her age at a distance. She never wanted to become best friends with anyone--like she does with Amy--or fall in love with a guy--like she does with Logan--but in Lost Springs she can't resist both. And this leads to a lot of lies and situations that slowly unravel before she can stop them, but she never stops helping her father's business.
 
Wild Hearts is a wonderful book. On one hand it's a fun, light-hearted YA romance about giving into first love. And on the other, it deals with the very serious issue of the effect that humans have on wild animals when we continually build around them. I loved Brie's voice and got caught up in her struggle, but most of all I liked that even though she lied many times it wasn't just because she was selfishly wanting to spend time with a guy, but because she was honestly trying to help horses that don't have their own voice.

There was something really noble about Brie, Logan and Amy.
 
I enjoyed this book SO much that I'm willing to give more If Only books a go... ;)
 
 
Wild Hearts, July 2015, ISBN 9781619632592, Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

I have some news!



Do you remember that Lavie spin-off novel I kept talking about? You know, the one starring the demon hunter Lavie Grye from my Sierra Fox series? Well, I have some awesome news about that book...

I signed another contract with Samhain Publishing!


Yay.

This is actually my tenth, so it's super exciting.

So exciting that the other day we celebrated with cake:

 
This is also my first road trip book, so I can't wait to share it with the world.
 
Now that the announcement has been made, I suppose I should tell you what the title is.
 
Lavie's stand-alone book is called...
 
HELL OF A RIDE.


 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

COBAIN: Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen with Richard Bienstock

The riveting companion book to the highly anticipated documentary about the life of Nirvana frontman and grunge legend Kurt Cobain, featuring expanded exclusive interviews with the family and friends who knew him best and never-seen-before photographs and artwork.
 
More than twenty years have passed since Kurt Cobain took his own life in April 1994. Today, his legacy continues to fascinate, inspire, and haunt us. This riveting chronicle, which accompanies award-winning director Brett Morgen's highly anticipated documentary, paints an illuminating and honest portrait of the Nirvana frontman, capturing the contradictions that made up his character: he could be sincere and sentimental and also ironic and sarcastic, was sweet yet sour, and was both serious and very funny. This book - the only book about Kurt that has been produced with the cooperation of his widow, Courtney Love, and the Cobain Estate - includes interviews with numerous family members and friends, many of whom speak publicly about their relationship with Kurt for the first time, along with animation stills from the film, never-before-seen photographs, and other artefacts, offering revealing new insights into the life and character of Kurt Cobain. It is the ultimate book for fans of Nirvana, whose popularity continues to endure, and of Kurt, who remains a fascinating icon of popular culture.

 
I'm a Nirvana fan from way back. I always liked their music because I loved their very unique sound. I'll never forget the first time I heard Smells Like Teen Spirit and was instantly captivated by the music, while at the same time being baffled by the lyrics.

As they released more and more songs, I learned to ignore the mismatched, nonsensical lyrics and just appreciated their awesome sound.

I also remember the day Kurt Cobain killed himself. The shock and confusion that filled his fans while trying to comprehend why someone who was so successful and had a family would do such a thing. After his death and inclusion in the 27 Club, Cobain became the object of many urban myths. Everyone had an opinion about his suicide. Some condemned him for it, others blamed his wife. But until you live in someone's shoes, you can't judge or assume to know where that person was at during that certain point in time.

So I was very interested in reading this book because it's not an autobiography that analyses his life, but a recollection of thoughts and memories from the people who knew him best.

At the beginning of the book Brett Morgen says: "The intention here is not to put Kurt on a pedestal. Nor is it to bring him down. Rather, it is to look him in the eye. To humanize him, for better or for worse." And I have to say that he certainly achieved this.

Through the interviews with his parents, sister, stepmother, girlfriend, wife and friend we learn a lot about Kurt's troubled life and constant struggle to create. His pursuit for the family he obviously thought he missed out on was almost brutal, and his fear of humiliation seemed to drive him to the very end.

Cobain: Montage of Heck is first and foremost a beautiful visual experience filled with actual material from Kurt's archives, as well as artistic representations from Hisko Hulsing and Stefan Nadelman. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be an intriguing and personal look into the man the real people in his life knew, not what the public saw. It's honest, disturbing, and very sad.

I found Kurt's story to be a tragic experience, the life of a man with many personal demons and a contradictory nature that ultimately led him to an addiction he couldn't defeat.
 
 
Cobain: Montage of Heck, June 2015, ISBN 9780733634468, Hodder & Stoughton

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sometimes, plans change...


Yes. They certainly do.
 
Remember the last time I dropped in I mentioned that I was taking a week off and then would get stuck into writing a new story? Well, things didn't exactly work out that way.
 
By the time I reached the end of last week, I realised that I hadn't done all the stuff I wanted to do. I also didn't feel mentally stable enough to get stuck into a new story. So, after a nice chat with hubby--talking to him about my creative problems always makes me realise that the answer was there all along--I decided it was best to take what he's dubbing a small hiatus.
 
A hiatus from what you ask? Well, from the pressure of self-imposed deadlines. From starting a new story. From forcing myself to do something when I'm clearly not mentally ready. I usually experience this kind of mental lag after finishing a book, but I guess Willow's took more out of me than I realised. :/
 
I now have a new plan. Since my daughter has a two-week break during the first two weeks of July and hubby has the second week of July off from work, I've decided not to start anything new until  they go back to school and work. That takes me to mid-July. Which is fine with me. By that time I will be a year older, btw. :/
 
Now I can spend a month brainstorming, reading, thinking and watching. It'll give my brain a chance to have a break. By the time I start my next story, I will be itching to write. :)
 
Right now I'm in the middle of watching BITTEN. I watched most of Season 1 last week, and will be watching the last two eps in this season today. It's based on one of my most fave UF series, so it took a little adjustment. It always does when I watch a book series turned into a TV show. The casting throws me off, the changes make everything feel weird, and I start comparing. BUT, the best thing to do is to get over all of these things quickly, and get stuck into the show. After all, it's not a page by page recount of the book, it's an adaptation that will most likely take a different, untraveled path.
 
Once I came to terms with this--pretty much during the second or third ep--I started actually enjoying the show. And now that I'm almost at the end of S1, I'm really enjoying it!
 
The rest of this week is going to be a little wonkier than planned because Monday was a public holiday and that always throws out the week. I probably won't get too much done, but then again... isn't that the idea?
 
Last week I read this great blog post written by Nova Ren Suma about Filling the Well and it really resonated with me. Everything she says is true, and exactly how I feel at the moment. It's strange because if I'm not writing, revising, or editing I feel guilty. It's almost like I should be doing something writing related even if my mind's exhausted... and that's why taking this break right now feels so good. It's guilt-free, and will help me in the long run.
 
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control and that too affects our creativity. Well, something like that happened to me last week. A writing thing that came out of the blue and really threw me off because I wasn't expecting it. I still haven't gotten over the blow because it still makes no sense to me, but there was a solution offered so that helps. A bit.
 
Anyway. For the next few weeks I'm going to concentrate on other creative avenues in order to fill my main one to the brim. Because the ideas are churning. There are a lot of stories that want to be written, and right now I'm going to enjoy thinking, dreaming, and taking notes about them.
 
Have a great week!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

FINDERS KEEPERS by Stephen King

'Wake up, genius.' So begins King's instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn't published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Sauberg finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he's released from prison after thirty-five years.


By now it's no secret that I'm a huge Stephen King fan and look forward to all of his new books. Last year I read and loved Mr MERCEDES, so I couldn't wait to read the sequel. Bill, Holly and Jerome are back in this second instalment, but we also get to meet a new psychopath.
 
Four years have gone by since the events that led to Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson defeating the ruthless killer, Brady Hartsfield. Bill and Holly now have a business together, and it's called Finders Keepers. They help people by taking down assholes who scam or steal from them, but some scars never fade. Bill still visits the brain-dead Brady, and even thinks the psycho might be faking his current vegetable status. But Bill's got other things to think about now, because there's a kid who might desperately need his help.
 
Morris Bellamy is a troubled and very obsessed man. His obsession--and the reason why his life has continually gone downhill--is a fictional character called Jimmy Gold. The author, John Rothstein wrote a trilogy featuring this character and then faded into obscurity. Something that enraged Bellamy, because he hated what the author did to the character. And for that, he wants revenge.
 
That's how he hatches up a plan in 1978 and breaks into the author's house. Rothstein is an old man now, but he never stopped writing. Bellamy confronts Rothstein and actually kills him. After all, it's what Bellamy thinks he deserves for screwing up his favourite character. When he cracks open the author's safe and finds a large collection of Moleskine journals, he's hit the jackpot. There's money in there too, but all he cares about are the books.
 
Bellamy cares so much about them that he sticks them inside a trunk and buries the notebooks where no one will ever find them. However, life gets in the way and as he spirals out of control once again after getting into a fight with a friend, he winds up going to jail for a completely different crime. He got so drunk he doesn't even remember raping a woman, but she does. As well as the policeman who caught him in the act.
 
Jail is a hellhole of pain for Bellamy, but even inside he finds a way to survive. He spends most of his life behind bars, but the notebooks he buried kept him going.
 
Pete Sauberg is a good kid, but his family life isn't as good as it used to be. His father was rundown by a crazy man driving a Mercedes and now he can barely walk, let alone provide for his family. So when the kid finds a trunk filled with notebooks and envelopes containing money, he hatches a plan that gets his family out of financial strive. But the real treasure are the notebooks, and before long he finds himself as obsessed with John Rothstein's Jimmy Gold books as Bellamy was decades before he was even born.
 
When the money runs out and Pete still wants to help his family, he decides to sell a few of Rothstein's notebooks. Except, doing this catches the attention of one man willing to blackmail him for them, and another much more dangerous man willing to kill for them...
 
Wow. This book was as tense as the first one. I was hooked from the beginning, and as the different stories unfolded, I couldn't wait to reach the point where they all led to the same place. And when they do, yikes! This story leaves you breathless.
 
Finders Keepers is yet another brilliant book to add to Stephen King's collection of awesome. It's a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat and takes you into some very dark places. And I'm not just talking about the villain's POV, because there's plenty of darkness to be shared in this tale of obsession, betrayal and survival. And OMG, that ending! Creepy.
 
I LOVED every minute of this brilliant, yet disturbing book and can't wait for the next one!
 
Don't forget: Shit don't mean shit. ;)
 

Finders Keepers, June 2015, ISBN 9781473698987, Hodder & Stoughton

Friday, 5 June 2015

HORROR BLOCK


Hey! You know what time it is, right?
 
It's HORROR BLOCK time, and this month it arrived super early. Yay.
 
I get super excited about this box and know nothing about the contents. Well, except for the clues that are given on Twitter: something about Silent Hill, and a Hannibal Funko POP.
 
Anyway, here's the cool box:
 
 
The outer box never changes, but the goodies inside do...
 
 
Here, take a closer look at everything:
 
 
Yep.
 
This was another very cool box full of horror stuff.
It might not be one of the best ones we've received, but there are some great items here!
 
Can't wait to read through the Weird Stats & Morbid Facts book. Sounds like a whole lot of FUN. ;)
 
Catch ya on the horror side!
 


Thursday, 4 June 2015

LOOT CRATE


So, LOOT CRATE arrived the other day:
 
 
The theme for May was UNITE:
 

Here's what was inside:
 
 
 Um. This box was... disappointing. I wasn't really excited about any of the items. Actually, the only thing I wanted was a badge with a cute unicorn from some game I know nothing about. o.O

You win some, and you lose some.

There was a whole lot of nothing in this one.


Check out past LOOT CRATE boxes we've received!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

THE NOVICE by Taran Matharu

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith's apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning.

The academy will put Fletcher through a gauntlet of gruelling lessons, training him as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire's war against the savage orcs. Rubbing shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, Fletcher must tread carefully. The power hungry Forsyth twins lurk in the shadows, plotting to further their family's interests. Then there is Sylva, an elf who will do anything she can to forge an alliance between her people and Hominum, even if it means betraying her friends. Othello is the first ever dwarf at the academy, and his people have long been oppressed by Hominum's rulers, which provokes tension amongst those he studies alongside.

Fletcher will find himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with nothing but his demon Ignatius to help him. As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands...
 
 
Before I talk about anything else, I just want to mention how much I LOVE the cover of this book. It's gorgeous, features an adorable demon and a very kick-ass summoner. It seriously rocks.
 
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's get started. 
 
I received this book from Hachette Children's Books--thanks so much!--the same day that I noticed the cover online, and decided this was definitely a book I was interested in reading. I didn't know much about it, but as soon as I read the words demons and summoner, I was sold on the idea. :) 
 
Fletcher is an orphan who lives in a village called Pelt. He's also a blacksmith's apprentice. His master, Berdon, is the man who found Fletcher when he was abandoned in the snow. He lives a good enough life, helping Berdon with his business, and hunting on the side. Only problem is he doesn't get along with the local bully, who also happens to be a guardsman and has a powerful father. Didric makes his life miserable.
 
The day Fletcher meets an old soldier who has many stories to tell about the ongoing war with the Orcs and happens to have a very interesting summoning book, his life changes. While reading the book, Fletcher finds a scroll and summons an actual demon. A cute Salamander who helps get him out of trouble when Didric tries to kill him and Fletcher fights back. But as a result of his horrid encounter, he has to run and ends up as far away as he can, in Corcillum.
 
Here he catches the eye of several thieves, but luckily for him he also captures the attention of a battlemage who sponsors him so that he can attend the Vocans Academy. This is a school where battlemages are made, and it entails a lot of hours of study as well as gruelling physical activity. Here the students learn how to control their demons and use them to their advantage, as well as using other spells that will help them on the frontline.
 
This academy has some very tough students--though the noble twins are the worst because they have been practicing for years. They also have a hidden agenda that includes destroying the commoners, and stirring a whole lot of trouble. That's if they don't kill Fletcher and Ignatius first.
 
Now Fletcher finds himself in the middle of everything because he's managed to make friends with a dwarf and an elf. Both races have an uneasy truce with the humans and one mistake will make the war worse than it is, or even start a new one. So it's crucial that one of them wins the tournament instead of the noble twins...
 
Wow. This book sure took me by surprise!
 
I didn't know what to expect but I was totally hooked into this dangerous world of intricate politics and magic that can open portals into a demon world. I thought Fletcher was such a likeable character, so friendly and willing to help no matter what. Being pushed around and belittled so much might have made another kid an angry, selfish antisocial person, but it did the opposite to Fletcher. He's got a strong will and a stubborn streak, not to mention that he's a magnet for trouble.
 
Then there's Ignatius. OMG. I need a Salamander demon, like right now. He's so cute and powerful, I have no doubt we will find out much more about this awesome character in the future. I also loved Othello and Solomon, as well as Sylva and Sariel. Not to mention that I was fascinated with Acturus and Lovett, so I hope we get to see much more of them in other books!
 
The Novice is an amazing thrill ride that hooks you into the life of a young orphan and ends up taking you to a foreign place where danger lurks at every corner. This world is filled with wonderful, brave characters that will make you smile and cheer for them. And awful, corrupt individuals that will make your blood boil. The demonic concept is intriguing, and the way the story unfolds keeps the reader captivated from start to finish. By the time you reach The End, you'll be wishing the book was longer.
 
This truly is a wonderful story, and I can't wait to read the next one...
 
 
But in the meantime, check these out:

    

I found them at Books with Bite, and they're awesome!
 
 
The Novice, May 2015, ISBN 9781444926644, Gollancz

Monday, 1 June 2015

New week, new month...


Whoa. It's been another very busy couple of weeks!
 
As you probably noticed, last week the fourth book in my SFR RECAST series was released. Yay. To help celebrate the occasion, I stopped by a few places to chat about robots and answer some cool questions. It was a lot of fun, and I hope that you all now understand just how deeply I love robots, AI, androids, cyborgs... ;)
 
I have a soft spot for them. Always did.

If you missed any stops, you can catch up on all of them HERE. I'd like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who had me over. You all helped make New Release Week a lot of fun!
 
But celebrating my latest new release from Samhain Publishing isn't the only thing I've been doing. Nope, I've been busy finishing up another project.
 
That's right. WILLOW is finished. *happy dance*

The second Sierra Fox spin-off novel is done & DONE! It took me about a week to read the final version on my Paperwhite, and several more days to wrap things up because I kept tweaking stuff. All small things, but definitely important to finalise the story. I just wanted every single thread to be tied, didn't want to leave anything hanging in the breeze. After all, this is probably (never say never) the last story I'll write in Sierra's world. So it wasn't just about tidying up Willow's story, the other characters needed to be mentioned too.
 
I even wrote the synopsis and updated the Series Bible. Ended up being more work than expected, but it was very much worth it. I can't believe Lavie and Willow are both done. These are stories that I've wanted to tell for a while. Even before Sierra's last book was written, I knew these ladies had their own tales to tell.
 
Only thing is that I won't be submitting this book to my editor yet. Not until I hear back about Lavie. For obvious reasons, I don't want to get ahead of myself. The main thing is that it's totally done. :)
 
So, remember how I mentioned I started watching CW's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? Well, I've got THREE episodes left of Season 2. Yeah, this is a very addictive show that I've been binge watching during my lunch breaks and as a reward for getting work done. So, I'm almost caught up. Which means that when Season 3 starts on June 11, I'll be ready. Have you seen this show? It really is amazing. I love the characters and the story just keeps getting deeper and deeper into the beast mythology. I'm looking forward to seeing the show's next direction...
 
Last week I even managed to catch up on the library books I borrowed a few weeks ago but couldn't read because I was totally consumed with Willow's world. When I get to that stage of the story, where everything is soooo close to being over, I can't shift out of it until the book is done!
 
I think I'll read review books this week. I have two YA books that I received--fantasy and contemporary--and it's time to give them a go.
 
This week is going to be all about watching, reading, brainstorming and taking a deep breath. But next week, I'm hoping to get stuck into some new writing...
 
Well, that's pretty much it. Life is super busy, and I can't believe it's already June! Ouch.

 
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