Thursday, 31 December 2015

Books Read in 2015...



 BURNT SUGAR (Firebug #0.5): Lish McBride

THE SHE-HULK DIARIES: Marta Acosta

KIA AND GIO (A Bone Street Rumba Short Story):

THIS CHANCE PLANET: Elizabeth Bear 

 THE VANISHING GAME: Kate Kae Myers

BURNING GIRLS: Veronica Schanoes

THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST: Holly Black

WARM UP (Vicious #0.5): V.E. Schwab

THERE WILL BE LIES: Nick Lake

NUESTRA SENORA DE LA ESPERANZA: Carrie Vaughn

THE HERE AND NOW: Ann Brashares

LOVE BOMB (Ladybirds #2): Jenny McLachlan

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #136: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

PLEASE REMAIN CALM (This Is Not a Test #2): Courtney Summers

100 GHOSTS: Doogie Horner

RED QUEEN (Red Queen #1): Victoria Aveyard

**/* THE MARTIAN: Andy Weir

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1): Sarah J. Maas

DASH (Recast #4): Yolanda Sfetsos

**THE SERPENT PAPERS (The Serpent Papers #1): Jessica Cornwell

VANISHING GIRLS: Lauren Oliver

SAGA, Volume 1: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

TOMORROW AND TOMORROW (All Our Yesterdays #1.5): Cristin Terrill

THE RETRIBUTION OF MARA DYER (Mara Dyer #3): Michelle Hodkin

WE WERE LIARS: E. Lockhart

 SHE-HULK # 1:

SHE-HULK # 2:

SHE-HULK # 3:

THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean

SHE-HULK # 4:

SHE-HULK #5: Charles Soule, Ron Wimberly & Rico Renzi

SHE-HULK #6: Charles Soule, Ron Wimberly

SHE-HULK #7: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

BREAKABLE (Contours of the Heart #2): Tammara Webber

SHE-HULK #8: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

SHE-HULK #9: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

SHE-HULK #10: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

SHE-HULK #11: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

SHE-HULK #12: Charles Soule, Javier Pulido & Mutsa Vicente

THE DUFF: Kody Keplinger

THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT (The Girl at Midnight #1): Melissa Grey

SOUL PRINT: Megan Miranda

WEIGHTLESS: Sarah Bannan

CINDER (The Lunar Chronicles #1): Marissa Meyer

SERVANTS OF THE STORM: Delilah S. Dawson

THE QUEEN'S ARMY (Lunar Chronicles #1.5): Marissa Meyer

THE UNIT: Ninni Holmqvist

THE LITTLE ANDROID (The Lunar Chronicles #0.6): Marissa Meyer

HELLBOY The Midnight Circus: Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo & Dave Stewart

THE 100 (The Hundred #1): Kass Morgan

**/*UNDER MY SKIN: James Dawson

ANYONE BUT IVY POCKET: Caleb Krisp

WALL-E: Rogue Robots: Jillian Joy Samuels, Lee Smith & Marco Colletti Studio

THE 100: DAY 21 (The Hundred #2): Kass Morgan

THE 100: HOMECOMING (The Hundred #3): Kass Morgan

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD (Anna #1): Kendare Blake

MIND GAMES: Teri Terry

UNDEAD (Undead #1): Kirsty McKay

BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE: Tiffany Schmidt

BANISHING THE DARK (Arcadia Bell #4): Jenn Bennett

DEADSHIFTED (Edie Spence #4): Cassie Alexander

CHERRY BLOSSOM DREAMS: Gwyneth Rees

SCARLET (The Lunar Chronicles #2): Marissa Meyer

PRETTY LITTLE DEAD GIRLS: Mercedes M. Yardley

DAY SHIFT (Midnight Texas #2): Charlaine Harris

ANNABEL (Delirium #0.5): Lauren Oliver

RAVEN (Delirium #2.5): Lauren Oliver

DELIRIUM STORIES: Lauren Oliver

THE DREAM SNATCHER: Abi Elphinstone

ALL UNQUIET THINGS: Anna Jarzab

THE NOVICE (Summoner #1): Taran Matharu

FINDERS KEEPERS (Bill Hodges #2): Stephen King

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #137: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #138: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #139: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #140: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

THE WALKING DEAD Issue #141: Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard & Cliff Rathburn

SEASON TO TASTE: Natalie Young

COBAIN: Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen with Richard Bienstock

WILD HEARTS: Jessica Burkhart

PIECES OF SKY: Trinity Doyle

WICKED CHARMS (Lizzy & Diesel #3): Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Paula Hawkins

13 DAYS OF MIDNIGHT: Leo Hunt

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW: Trish Doller

WAY DOWN DARK (The Australia Trilogy #1): J.P. Smythe

*THE CEMETERY BOYS: Heather Brewer

MAGONIA: Maria Dahvana Headley

IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS: Cat Winters

ONE: Sarah Crossan

TARNISHED: Julia Crouch

I LET YOU GO: Clare Mackintosh

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP: S.J. Watson

*WHERE THE STARS STILL SHINE: Trish Doller

FUZZY MUD: Louis Sachar

PINES (Wayward Pines #1): Blake Crouch

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF LANE: Neil Gaiman

**THE RAVEN BOYS: Maggie Stiefvater

QUEEN OF SHADOWS (Throne of Glass #4): Sarah J. Maas

SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA: Becky Albertalli

CRESS (Lunar Chronicles #3): Marissa Meyer

THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY: Stephanie Oakes

DECEPTIONS (Cainsville #3): Kelley Armstrong

BETWEEN: Jessica Warman

MARROW: Tarryn Fisher

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: Nicola Yoon

NIGHT OWLS: Jenn Bennett

MS. MARVEL, Vol. 1: G. Willow Wilson

SUNKISSED (Ladybirds #3): Jenny McLachlan

MUD VEIN: Tarryn Fisher

ALIAS OMNIBUS: Brian Michael Bendis

THE DEAD HOUSE: Dawn Kurtagich

**LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE: Jessica Knoll

MAPLECROFT: Cherie Priest

SOME GODS OF EL PASO: Maria Dahvana Headley

DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILS: Amy Lukavics

HELL OF A RIDE (Elsewhere #1): Yolanda Sfetsos

THE CASE OF THE LITTLE BLOODY SLIPPER (Spindle City Mysteries #1): Carlie St. George

MADAME TUSSAUD'S APPRENCTICE: Kathleen Benner Duble

ILLUMINAE (Illuminae Files #1): Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

DRINK, SLAY, LOVE: Sarah Beth Durst

THE CREEPING: Alexandra Sirowy

LOBSTERS: Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

**WE'LL NEVER BE APART: Emiko Jean

WAKE OF VULTURES: Lila Bowen

PARADISE CITY (Paradise #1): CJ Duggan

PARADISE ROAD (Paradise #2): CJ Duggan

MISTLETOE AND MR RIGHT: Lyla Payne

THE COMICAL TRAGEDY OR TRAGICAL COMEDY OF MR PUNCH: Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean

ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE: John Keats

ODE ON MELANCHOLY: John Keats

A MADNESS SO DISCREET: Mindy McGinnis

DARKMERE: Helen Maslin

WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE (Dark House #1): Laurie Faria Stolarz

**/*THESE SHALLOW GRAVES: Jennifer Donnelly

BUBBA HO-TEP: Joe R Lansdale

HOW TO TALK TO GIRLS AT PARTIES: Neil Gaiman

  NO PLACE LIKE OZ (Dorothy Must Dies #0.1): Danielle Paige

 
2015 Reading Challenge

Books Read in 2015: 137/100



-------------------------

Novel
Short Story
Novella
Comic Book/Graphic Novel
Picture Book
Non-fiction
Poem
 
:: Re-read
*Some skimming involved
**DNF

NO PLACE LIKE OZ by Danielle Paige


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella I've had on my Kindle for a while. I have to admit that I was scared to read it because I loved Dorothy so much in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But I'm glad I finally decided to get stuck into it.

It's been two years since Dorothy returned from her wonderful adventure in Oz. As much as she longed to return home, Kansas just isn't what it used to be. She hardly has any friends, her aunt and uncle are boring, plus the few people she told about Oz don't believe her. She wants more from life. A lot more.

After the disappointment of her sixteenth birthday party, she finds a pair of beautiful ruby shoes under her bed. Shoes that make her biggest dream come true and she returns to Oz.

But Oz is different too, and Dorothy finds herself changing. Her aunt and uncle have tagged along and their constant talk of going back to Kansas only adds another burden. One that slowly twists into something darker after she returns to the Emerald City and meets the new princess...

Wow. This turned out to be quite a twisted adventure. What I enjoyed the most was how authentic the author's portayal of this timeless tale was. She seamlessly blended what was already created with her own ideas. I also enjoyed seeing how Dorothy morphs from being ridiculed to craving what she's lost to realising she wants--and deserves--so much more.

It was a shame to see such a lovely, selfless girl become a teenager who is determined to take what she wants, but her descend into corruption by magic was perfectly done.

Hope she finds her way back, eventually...

Excellent novella!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

BUBBA HO-TEP by Joe R. Lansdale


18515639
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This morning I felt like reading, but I didn't want to get stuck into any long books until the new year. So, I looked through my Kindle and decided to read this bizarro story.

Hubby and I watched the movie years ago and really enjoyed it. I'm glad the story turned out to be just as good.

Sebastian Haff is convinced he's Elvis Presley and is now an old man living in the Mud Creek Shady Rest Convalescent Home. He oftens regrets a lot of his decisions in the past and is still very obsessed with his pecker. Yep. He can't stop thinking about it, or looking at it, or remembering some of his conquests. But the night he saves his friend, Jack McLaughlin--who is convinced he's a brainless, dyed version of JFK--everything changes.

The two men are convinced there's a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy roaming the corridors of their home. And none of their fellow 'celebrity' oldies are safe. Together, they hatch a plot to get rid of it. But can two old guys with failing bodies and confused minds take on an ancient evil?

Well, you'll have a hilarious good time finding out. Seriously, this novella is crass, weird, and Elvis is a total self-obsessed pervert, but the conversations between him and Jack will have you LOL-ing all over the place. OMG. This story is so funny! :D

I really enjoyed it.

SCI-FI BLOCK


Yeah, we decided to give this subscription box a go because it sounded pretty cool...
Turned out to sound good in theory, but the actual contents weren't so great.
We ended up getting two of them:


 

And here's what was inside each of them... 



Yeah, as you can probably tell, I wasn't a fan. Sure, there are some cool items in there, but nothing so spectacular that it's going to keep us hooked.

So, we cancelled our subscription for this one the other day.

Like I said, sounded a lot better than it turned out to be!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

NERD BLOCK


Here's what we received from NERD BLOCK during the last three months:




Although we did get some pretty interesting items from this subscription box--the Gizmo tee is especially awesome because in the dark a glowing Gremlin shows up--this is another one that we've recently cancelled.


Monday, 28 December 2015

(More) HORROR BLOCK


This is the latest box, which happens to be for November...
 
 
Okay, I have to admit that when hubby popped open the box I was a little disappointed:


But then we started to pull everything out and noticed quite a few very cool items. I mean, who doesn't love Bela Lugosi's Dracula? Not to mention the other super cool and creepy items.
 
Check them out:

 
Not a bad box.
 
And you know what surprised me the most? THIS:


Seriously, this Sharknado bobble head is AWESOME. The quality and attention to detail is amazing, and it's made out of ceramic. It's super heavy, and now has a special place on one of my bookshelves!
 
Keep on horror-ing!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

(Another) HORROR BLOCK


This is the October HORROR BLOCK box:
 

 
And here's what we found when we opened it up:

 

 
I have to admit that I was a little surprised/disappointed to find that there was no Halloween movie and/or Michael Myers item included in this box. I mean, this would've been the perfect time to include him, right? But nope. Instead I found Jason and Chucky.
 
So I'm not going to complain about receiving such an awesomely cool Jason Voorhees T-shirt, but the fact there was a Friday the 13th in November... Anyway, you know what I'm getting at.
 
Still, I loved a lot of these items: 
 

 
The Chucky doll is creepy cute and very well made. The Jason tee is absolutely awesome. And the Ouija board mouse pad is super clever.
 
I was a LOT happier with this month's effort.
 
Here's a closer look at the tee:

 
 
Have a horror-bulous day!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE by Laurie Faria Stolarz


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Wow. Wow!

I was looking for a super creepy, freaky, spooky story with a clever storyline... and I definitely found it in this fantastic book.

Seven kids enter an essay competition and win a weekend trip to meet a horror film director most of them idolise. But strange stuff starts to happen right away because one of the winners goes missing before the others even get a chance to meet her.

But when they enter the creepy abandoned amusement park, where they'll be forced to face their individual nightmares, everything falls apart.

OMG. I absolutely LOVED this book! The story, the way it's written, the twists and turns, the horror kudos--all of it. I picked it up this afternoon and finished it only hours later. It totally hooked me in and kept me turning the page until I reached the end.

At first I was concerned about the multiple POVs because it included so many--Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Natalie, Frankie & Garth--but it TOTALLY worked. Every voice was different. Each added to the story in its own way. And I got to know every character deeply enough to get attached to them. :(

Though I particularly liked Ivy and Parker.

I also thought that adding everyone's competition entry/essay in the epilogue was genius.

Loved this book. SO. MUCH.

Can't wait to read the next one...

HORROR BLOCK


I've been a terrible blogger and haven't posted about the HORROR BLOCK subscription boxes we've received for months! So, I thought I'd catch up this week.
 
This here is September's box:
 
 
 
And this is what the inside looked like when we opened it:
 


And once we'd pulled everything out of the box:
 


 
This actually turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for me. There's nothing that really stood out, to be honest. I gave the tee and Alien Titan figures to my hubby.
 
Oh well. You win some and you lose some, I suppose.
 
Have a spooky day!

Friday, 25 December 2015

DARKMERE by Helen Maslin


Darkmere
Darkmere by Helen Maslin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another book that I borrowed from the library and really enjoyed.

When the most popular boy in school invites Kate to spend the summer with his friends at the castle he recently inherited, she's ecstatic. However, it doesn't take her long to realise that Leo is a jerk and Darkmere is a creepy castle with countless of stories about curses and ghosts.

In between Kate's chapters, we get to read the POV of Elinor. A young woman who marries the man who owned the castle 200 hundred years before. Her life is one of misery and heartache, and everything about Darkmere is soon revealed.

I loved that the shared POVs worked so well together as the events of the present are slowly realised from what happened in the past.

This turned out to be a creepy read with several spooky scenes that kept the dark atmospheric tension alive all the way through. The story was unpredictable, addictive and kept me guessing.

I really enjoyed it!

Happy Holidays!

 
 
MERRY
CHRISTMAS!
 

I hope you all have an awesome, fun and safe festive season.
 
Keep on dancing, like Baby Groot!
 
:)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

A MADNESS SO DISCREET by Mindy McGinnis


A Madness So Discreet
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library because it sounded like a creepy, haunting read. The cover even makes it look that way. But it didn't turn out like that at all. Mind you, I still enjoyed it.

Grace Mae was put into an asylum in Boston by her abusive father because she's pregnant. She stopped talking and is traumatised by what was done to her at the hands of someone she trusted.

There are a bunch of women imprisoned inside this horrible place of cruelty and torture who aren't crazy at all. They're just labelled that because some asshole man in their life has gotten sick of her, doesn't like her attitude, or just enjoys sex. Some seriously fucked up shit that makes your blood boil.

Anyway, when Grace finds her voice and attacks someone (who deserves it) she's thrown in the dungeon. But that turns out to be her salvation when she meets an unlikely hero and she's whisked away by a clever doctor. Leaving her family to think that she's dead.

In Ohio, she stays in a much better asylum where the doctors and nurses actually take care of patients. Plus she becomes Dr. Thornhollow's assistant while he tries to solve murders. She even makes some friends. It's not until her father resurfaces in her life that everything is turned upside down.

This book might not have turned out to be the creepy thriller I was hoping for, but it was a disturbing family drama with a twist of the (true) horrible insanity that dwells in asylums.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

It's the Most Restless Time of the Year


Wow! It's been a long while since I actually posted an actual update post on my blog. I'm pretty sure I haven't posted anything but book reviews since October. Yikes! Time sure goes fast.
 
Anyway, because it's almost the end of the year, I thought it was about time I popped in. So, here I am! ;) 
 
The last few months have been filled with editing, reading, real life stuff, planning, thinking and writing. Yep. As you can tell by the pic I posted, I took part in NaNoWriMo 2015 and once again won. Plus, I actually finished the novel I was writing. Which means that I wrote 86k during November. Yay.
 
It's no secret that I love to take part every year because it caters perfectly to my I Must Spew Out The Story As Fast As I Can kind of first draft writing. The only thing is that I ended up writing a completely different story to the one I had planned. I always change my mind several times during the year, but this time I did the old switcheroo the month before. Until then I'd planned to write the sixth/final RECAST story. But I just wasn't feeling it. Though I was definitely feeling a YA idea that hit me earlier in the year while listening to one of my all-time favourite songs HEAVEN by Warrant.
 
So, I decided to get stuck into my YA novel set in the late 1980s and had a TOTAL blast writing it!
 
This year has been a bit of an iffy one as far as the writing goes. I took a small hiatus from it earlier because the publishing side of things affected me a lot deeper than I expected it to. These things affected me so much that I lost the motivation to write several planned projects. In the end, the time away--which I spent reading, watching TV shows, and dreaming about story ideas--helped me get my spark back. Plus, the story I wrote during NaNoWriMo was written for me. Not for any particular publisher or a certain market, I just wanted to tell a story that was so well-formed inside my head that I enjoyed the hell out of it.
 
Sometimes, you just have to write like the wind. Enjoy every second of the words that are slipping out of your head and onto the screen. And that's exactly what I did. On the plus side, I now have the first draft of a novel that I think has a LOT of potential to become SO MUCH MORE. But I'm not worried about that, I'm just excited about completing another novel.
 
Before getting stuck into this novel that has the tentative title of MIXED TAPE, I spent several months working really hard on editing HELL OF A RIDE. I'm really excited about Lavie's story and can't wait to hear what readers think of her road trip book with Saul the sexy demon. I know some people were interested in Lavie Grye after reading the Sierra Fox series, so I hope this answers any questions they had about her and gives them a deeper insight into a fun, talented demon hunter with a lot more depth than she seems to have. :)
 
We've also binged on SCREAM QUEENS! Man, that was such a GREAT show. Clever writing, insane characters, bizarre situations, and everything I love about a good thriller-slash-horror story. Now we're watching iZOMBIE. And OMG, we're totally loving it. I also watched FINAL GIRLS and absolutely loved it! It was one of the most fun movies I've seen in a while. And of course, last week we went to watch THE FORCE AWAKENS. Absolutely loved it! Felt like a real Star Wars movie, not that dribble the prequels turned out to be. LOL. We enjoyed it so much that we'll be watching it again next week. On IMAX!
 
Asides from that, I've also been reading up a storm. Plus I'm busy with further research for the YA WIP I mentioned. And I've been listening the hell out of Warrant. Okay, maybe I'm a little obsessed with them right now. Yeah, their songs were the inspiration for my novel. I used to love their music so much that while losing myself in it again to get into the right period and mood, I've fallen in love with them all over again. The clips are hilarious and the music is fun and super cool. Seriously loving this trip down hair band memory lane. :P
 
Man, it feels weird to have summarised the last few months into one blog post so easily. But hey, at least I'm blogging again.
 
Have a great day!
 

ODE ON MELANCHOLY by John Keats


Ode on Melancholy
Ode on Melancholy by John Keats
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the other John Keats poem that affected me deeply when I was a teenager. Back then, I'd sometimes feel down for no apparent reason but then found that if I listened to the music I loved, or watched good movies, read the books that interested me, penned a story, and spent time with friends, I would feel a lot better. So after reading this poem, I started to use the word melancholy. A lot.

I love this poem now as much as I did then. And age has given me an even deeper appreciation for it.

Keats talks about not letting yourself get so swamped by sadness that it'll take over everything and might even push you to contemplate embracing death. But don't, he says. Because life slips by too quickly already. And instead of focusing on the sad things, why not celebrate beauty and joy? Because if you don't appreciate them... they too eventually slip away.

I absolutely love the message at the core of this poem. Sometimes, when you feel blue and feel yourself falling into negativity, focusing on the beauty all around you and the things that make you happy might just be what you need! Sure, this is not relevant to clinical depression, but that's not what he was talking about here.

Actually, I remember a class discussion that divided us. Some students were convinced this poem was the rant of Keats being under the influence of opium. While others were convinced it was his romantic way of saying that we should appreciate what we have before it's gone. I agreed with the latter.

I still love this poem!

ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE by John Keats


Ode to a Nightingale
Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was in high school, we studied a few of John Keats poems. High school might be something I left behind a while ago, but I never forgot about these poems. And since I've written a story where students actually study a few of his poems, I've been re-reading them lately.

I love how it begins:

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

Up until we studied Keats, I'd found poetry boring and lacking. I had no real appreciation for it. But his words made me realise just how imaginative a well-written poem can be. How much imagery can fill your mind when a poem is written well. And just how thrilling the experience can be when you allow words to help you feel the world through another animal. Not to mention how beautiful a bird's song can be, and how when it's gone... you're left wondering if you heard it at all.

I love the breathless quality of this poem. It's like flying on an adventure, and feeling the wind in your hair. Only to then wonder if it was all a dream.

Yeah. I still love this poem.

Monday, 21 December 2015

THE COMICAL TRAGEDY OR TRAGICAL COMEDY OF MR. PUNCH by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean

The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch
A young boy stumbles across a Punch and Judy show at the pier and enters a world of extraordinary magic. With disturbing mysteries and half-truths uncontrollably unravelling, this boy is forced to deal with his family's secrets of violence, betrayal and guilt in this dark fable of childhood and growing up.
By the bestselling author and illustrator pairing behind the Sandman series and children's classics, The Graveyard Book and Coraline, The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch is woven together with Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's trademark eerie elegance and supernatural thrills.
In addition to its new cover, each page of this unmissable 20th anniversary edition has been remastered and a gallery of uncanny, sensational original artwork by Dave McKean has been included for the first time.


I'm a big Neil Gaiman fan, so when I received this creepy-looking graphic novel from Bloomsbury--thanks so much!--I was curious about the story.

While fishing with his grandfather, a young boy stumbles upon a creepy Punch and Judy puppet show by the seashore. He's instantly drawn into the story, even though it scares him. Mr Punch is a horrible character intent on beating and killing everyone he encounters during the performance, but he's still intrigued.

This boy is constantly sent from one lot of grandparents to the other, and while staying because of the upcoming birth of a new sister/brother, he spends some time at his grandfather's failing arcade. Here he encounters a mermaid with a secret, a hunchback uncle with a mysterious past, and events that parallel his own life.

There are some things young kids aren't supposed to witness for a reason. Because as soon as he himself becomes an adult the horrible memories resurface and start to both confuse him even further and slowly start making sense. Adults often lie to children. Sometimes it's to protect them, others it's to protect themselves, and this young boy encounters both sides of that.

Wow. This turned out to be so... strange. There's a delirious edge to this graphic novel that leads you down a fevered past and warps what you're reading. And it's not just the fragmented way that the story is told, it's also the amazing artwork. There's a collection of different styles featured in this book. A feat that only someone as talented as Dave McKean can pull off. A nightmarish mix of horrid and beautiful that gets under your skin.

The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch is a weirdly intriguing and very surreal experience that will make you feel as if you're in a constant nightmare. It's a story that reveals itself in a nonsensical and non-linear way, and often makes you wonder if you're making the correct assumptions about it. It's weird and ugly and wonderful and violent all at the same time.

It's not one of my favourite Gaiman stories, but I still enjoyed it. Even if it is a freaky experience. O.o


The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch: 20th Anniversary Edition, November 2015, ISBN 9781408869741, Bloomsbury Childrens

Friday, 18 December 2015

MISTLETOE AND MR RIGHT by Lyla Payne

Mistletoe and Mr. Right
In Mistletoe and Mr Right, Jessica (not Jessie) takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays for Christmas break, sure that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily ever after. But it turns out his family - and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend - don't feel the same way, and the only person making the trip worthwhile is the local farmhand, who has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most . and least.

The holiday high jinks continue in Sleigh Bells and Second Chances, when Jessica's best friend makes her own way across the pond! Christina Lake does not want to be away at Christmas, but it's her duty to babysit one of London's hottest bands at their last-minute concert on Christmas Eve... even though she had a fling with Harry, the band's lead singer, that never officially ended. Now forced to reconnect, Christina is starting to think that maybe London is exactly where she's supposed to be to get the perfect New Year's kiss - at least until she finds out that he's been lying the whole time. Can Harry find a way to prove himself before the clock strikes twelve? Or will the New Year ring in a new romance?

Lyla Payne wraps up two perfect holiday novellas, ties them with a ribbon of romance, and tops them with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!
 
 
The other day I received this Christmas anthology. I wasn't expecting to receive a copy, so it turned out to be a nice surprise. Thanks Bloomsbury!
 
Since it's set during the festive season, I decided to read it right away...
 
 
MISTLETOE AND MR RIGHT
 
When Jessica decides to surprise her college boyfriend by visiting him in Ireland while he spends the holidays with his family, she didn't expect the reaction she gets. He's more shocked than happy, his family doesn't even know about her, and when they hear her Scottish surname, they're not happy. But they're friendly and it's winter, so she stays at the B&B even though Brennan's lovely ex is also there and his family loves her.
 
Of course, there's also someone else there. Grady is annoying, but nice looking and intriguing. Not to mention that she finds it easier to talk to him than to her own boyfriend. As Christmas nears, Jessica becomes more confused... but in the end, the decision becomes very clear.
 
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story! I read it in one day and really became invested in Jessica's story. I loved how she's so organised and determined to stick to her ten-year plan no matter what because she doesn't want to leave anything to chance, but eventually finds out that life sometimes has other (better) plans.
 
This was the kind of romance story--girl already has a boyfriend but slowly falls for another guy--that is really hard to pull off. But the author does a great job at telling Jessica's Christmas Love Story in Ireland in a way that totally pulls the reader into the events and makes you experience everything through her eyes. 
 
 
 
SLEIGH BELLS AND SECOND CHANCES
 
Christina is Jessica's roommate and she's got herself an internship that's going to help her in her chosen career of becoming a PR in the music industry. And it's in London. She hasn't been back to England for a long time. Not since she was eighteen and spent an amazing summer at her father's house in Cornwall, and she met Cary--a gorgeous musician. She fell in love for the first time, but he broke her heart. And now she's on her way to doing PR for his band!
 
Cary is now the lead singer in a well-known band and as soon as Christina crosses paths with him, it's obvious that he's keen to reconnect. Except, she's not. She can't get over him walking away without so much as a goodbye. Not to mention that family tragedy struck around the same time and her father completely shut her out of his life. But he also wants to see her.
 
The two men who hurt her the most now want her back, and she's not sure how to deal with it while keeping her job.
 
I loved the first story, but I think I enjoyed this one even more! I love stories where old flames meet again years later and realise that there are still a lot of unresolved issues, and this one fit that bill perfectly. Not to mention that the music industry twist and the family drama gave a great and interesting flair to an already awesome story.
 
 
Mistletoe and Mr Right turned out to be a fantastic and very entertaining festive novella collection that packs quite the punch. Both stories are filled with strong heroines trying to find their way in the world, interesting characters, honest situations, messy relationships, family drama, exciting careers, passionate couples, hot leading guys, and just the right dose of romance to warm up your Christmas season.
 
This one's a keeper! :) 
 
 
Mistletoe and Mr Right, December 2015, ISBN 9781408868898Bloomsbury

Sunday, 13 December 2015

PARADISE ROAD by CJ Duggan

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The Road to Paradise is never easy

After a year on the coast, Lexie Atkinson can't settle back into country life. She’s missing the glitzy, gritty nightlife of the big city and the group of misfit friends she’d loved to hate. She knows to move forward she has to go back – back to face the guy who stole her heart.

But when Lexie arrives in Paradise City to work out if her future includes bad-boy surfer, Luke Ballantine, he is nowhere to be found.

With no home, no money and no Luke, Lexie gets a job slinging drinks at the wild Wipe Out Bar. Soon her heartache is eased when broody bar owner, Dean Saville, starts taking an interest and stirs more than just her drinks. But nothing is ever as it seems in Paradise City and when Luke barrels back into town, Lexie has a choice to make. But who will end up with the broken heart: Luke, Dean … or Lexie?


Last week I read and really enjoyed PARADISE CITY. Actually, I loved it. So as soon as I received the second book, I got stuck into it. I couldn't wait to find out how Lexie's story would end.

Lexie Atkinson has gone back to Red Hill and is heartbroken after Luke Ballantine pretty much dumped her without giving her a chance to explain what the note he read and misunderstood really meant. And what makes matters worse is that her aunty and uncle are moving away from Paradise City, so she won't be going back to finish her last year of high school there. Except, she's almost eighteen and thanks to her zany uncle's idea, she proposes a crazy plan to her parents.

They give her a couple of weeks to find a place to live and get a job to support herself in Paradise City. If she does that, she'll be able to stay there and finish school on her own. However, as soon as she arrives things turn sour. Luke has left Paradise City, her cousin has become friends with Lexie's nemesis, and the only place that comes remotely close to offering her a job is the Wipe Out Bar. The dive owned by Luke's half-brother, Dean Saville. The same guy who looks good but is so frustrating they spend most of the time bickering.

Still, she gives it a go and winds up getting herself into one bad situation after another. How's she supposed to concentrate on school if she can't even get her life straight outside of it? If she can stay out of trouble for just a minute, maybe she'll work it out...

You know what? I didn't enjoy this installment as much as the first.

When I started reading, I once again found myself charmed by Lexie's voice and was instantly hooked into her story. But when she moves to Paradise City and starts on an awkward road back to recapture what she loved about the place so much, I started to realise that the story wasn't working for me. There was something missing. The awesomeness of the first book was gone, replaced with something else. All of a sudden I started to find Lexie's klutzy actions and inability to stay out of trouble, silly, selfish and immature. Whereas she soldiered on through all the ups and downs before, now she was totally unravelling and becoming whiny. I didn't like the person she was becoming.

Not to mention that her friend Laura practically disappeared and instead somehow became as unappealing as Amanda & Co were in Book 1. But worst of all was that I didn't buy the romance. No matter how hard I tried to get into it, I just couldn't. Mainly it was because I didn't like Dean. I didn't like him in the first book, and I certainly didn't like him in this one. He's smug and arrogant, a total jerk she doesn't even get along with. Yet (somehow) finds herself attracted to. Nope. Couldn't believe that. I have no problem with relationships that start from two people not liking each other and then one day realising it was because they're so into each other, but this was not an example of that. At all. 

And Luke? Well, after a whole book of dreaming about him and building him up to be the perfect guy... he became background dressing. A way to push her towards his brother. What about school? It became something that was hardly mentioned. Almost forgotten in her quest to take over a bar she doesn't even own. :/

It was a shame, but this one just didn't work for me.

Paradise Road is an entertaining, well-written book that will keep you interested in Lexie's troublemaking adventures. If you enjoyed the first one as much as I did, it's worth giving this one a go. What happens here might work for you, but it might not. I can't help but feel like this shouldn't have been a duology, and rather, a stand-alone with a HEA. But that's just me.

Oh, and one more thing: the cover didn't work for me either. I liked the previous covers a lot more.

Paradise Road, November 2015, ISBN 99780733633898, Hachette Australia

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

PARADISE CITY by CJ Duggan


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When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying, and exciting.
 
But when she meets Luke Ballantine, the sexy bad-boy leader of the group, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?


I received an email announcing the release of the second book in this series and wondered why I hadn't noticed it before. I mean, as soon as I read the blurb I knew this was a story I definitely wanted to read this summer. And I wasn't wrong.

Lexie Atkinson lives with her parents in small town rural Australia. She's home schooled and is on the verge of ending her education when her parents decide it might be a good idea for her to attend a real school. After all, she's a bright girl and gets great grades. 
 
So to try it out, they send her to stay with her aunt, uncle and cousin in Paradise City. She can't believe her luck and is really excited about meeting up with her cousin Amanda. Lexie has fond memories of spending a lot of her childhood with Amanda. They got along really well and she loved hanging out with her, so she can't wait to reconnect.
 
However, when she gets to Paradise City and Amanda totally ignores her, she gets a bitter taste of reality. Amanda goes out of her way to be mean to her, even though they share a room, and has no intention of being her friend--let alone make her feel welcome. But Lexie tries her best to fit into high school life and is still excited about living in the big city. 
 
She refuses to let her cousin get her down and instead goes about making her own friends. While also concentrating as much attention as she can on getting to know the hottest guy in school. Luke Ballantine is supposed to be a bad boy, one who keeps staring at her and likes to send mixed messages.
 
Nothing will stop Lexie from pursuing what she wants. Now that she's got the chance, she's determined to get the full Paradise City experience. Even if it involves attracting more trouble and attention than one person should...
 
You know what? I really enjoyed this story! It turned out to be SO good.
 
When I started reading it I wondered why it wasn't classified as YA when we were dealing with seventeen/eighteen year olds, but I soon realised exactly why it fits more in the NA category. This story is an honest portrayal of what older teenagers go through while they're coming to the end of their high school years and all the turmoil that getting involved with someone brings. It's also a tumultuous time because although you're kinda old enough to make your own decisions, you still have to listen to your parents.
 
I loved the way all of the above--and a whole lot more--was portrayed in the story of a country girl who ventures into the big city hoping to find everything shiny and an instant best friend in her cousin, but instead finds out that everyone changes. That life takes a toll on people and sometimes, they grow apart. But one thing will never change: the pull of attraction.
 
Paradise City is such a fun book! Lexie's voice will hook you in as soon as you get started. While the story and the cast of cool characters will keep you interested. Oh, plus the sexy will also be appealing. ;) I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to know what other terrible trouble awaited our sometimes naïve, always hilarious, and passionate heroine. But that ending... :(

Also, it's absolutely perfect for this time of the year.
 
I can't wait to see what happens in the next book...

Paradise City, May 2015, ISBN 9780733633867, Hachette Australia

Saturday, 5 December 2015

WAKE OF VULTURES by Lila Bowen


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from the library, and man is it AWESOME! It's hard to pinpoint a genre for this book because it's an amazing mix of YA, western, paranormal, magic, myth & the supernatural.

Nettie Lonesome is a lot of things (which you can read about in the blurb), but the main thing is that she's brave and totally awesome. She might have been beaten down a lot and doesn't know her origins, but when it comes down to it she cares about people and never gives up.

Living in the shitty town of Gloomy Bluebird with a couple who treat her like crap isn't much fun, but she's good with horses so that gives her some worth. The night she kills a man who turns out to be some kind of monster, she decides to take life into her own hands and becomes a cowpoke.

Now that she's killed one creature, she starts seeing all of them. When disaster strikes and she loses her only friend, she's forced to run away. She meets a guy who calls himself Coyote Dan and his annoying sister, Winifred. Together, they set out to find the worst monster of all: Cannibal Owl, aka Pia Mupitsi. This means becoming a Durango Ranger, which involves facing monster ALL THE TIME...

OMG. This book is amazing. Awesome. Brilliant. Hooked me in from the very beginning and kept me glued to the page all the way through. I absolutely LOVED it and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. Not to mention that Nettie is such a cool and interesting character. Plus the cast of characters is so diverse and awesome. Seriously! ♡

Can't wait to read the next book...

 
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