Monday, 31 October 2016

It's here!



Today is the day!

I might live in the land of Opposite To Everyone  Else, but because I'm a huge horror fan, I've always loved Halloween. 

And this year was no different. I stocked up on Halloween goodies and spent all month reading creepy books. I even brainstormed and took notes for the super creepy horror story I want to write next month.

So I hope you all have an awesome day filled with spooky books and creepy movies, plus freaky things. And if you happen to cross paths with Michael Myers, it's best to run the other way. ;)

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

THE HIDDEN by Fiona Dodwell


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's Halloween, and this novella was perfect for an early morning read.

Charlotte is excited about travelling to Japan to meet her penpal, Takako. She's relieved to find that they get along as well in person as they did in their letters. Besides, she really needs some time away from her life because she's at a crossroads and isn't sure where to turn.

Takako was kind enough to offer her a place to stay, and Charlotte is delighted. However, during the first night, strange noises awaken her. And she spots a strange woman in the garden. The more she tries to avoid what's happening, it soon becomes obvious that something isn't right with her friend...

This is a great novella. I loved how normal the story appears on the surface, but the tension rides just below. Every step of the way. The horror of the situation sneaks up on you, and leads to a shocking conclusion!

I really enjoyed this. It's a great mixture of ghost story, urban legend, and has a strong friendship at its core.

Friday, 28 October 2016

I signed up!

Yep. I did it!

This week, I officially signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016.

THIS IS ME! :)

It's fine and dandy to decide that I'm going to take part, but it doesn't count if I don't sign up. So... I signed into the website the other day, added a dodgy 'cover' graphic and a (very) brief description.

As you can see on the right, I even added a word count meter here. Yay.

I'm sooooooo excited about this story. I pretty much spent all week thinking about, naming, brainstorming, finding inspirational pics and taking notes about this idea. I have a lot of story stuff crowding my brain, so I'm looking forward to getting started.

This also means that I decided not to have a real to-do list this week. All I wanted to do was concentrate on dreaming and thinking about my story. While sneaking a bit of reading on the side.

So, what am I writing? This is how I described it on the NaNoWriMo website: A creepy story about a haunted house, secrets & friendship. Yep. I'm going to write a YA spooky  novel about some of my favourite horror tropes. And that includes strong, brave girls. :)

Like I said, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it. I always enjoy taking part in NaNoWriMo, and this year's no different.

BTW, I'm feeling a lot better now. Still not 100% but close enough. I guess it takes a while for the virus to completely leave your system.

Anyway. Hope you all have an awesome weekend. We're going to watch Doctor Strange tomorrow. Hope it's fun!

See ya.

APOCALYPTIC MONTESSA AND NUCLEAR LULU by Mercedes M. Yardley


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I've dedicated this month to reading creepy, spooky, scary books... I thought this novella might fit in nicely. And I wasn't wrong.

Montessa is special. It's what her mother always said. She works at a strip club and has an abusive boyfriend. Plus her strong emotions stir up an uncanny side most never see.

Lu is a demon. It's what his father always said. He drives a truck across the country and enjoys killing girls. Plus he's got a freaky, fiery power that comes in handy.

The night Lu kidnaps Montessa, their lives change forever. Being yanked out of her sad life isn't such a bad thing, and Lu isn't so bad. Lu's desire to kill has never been overshadowed by the need to protect, but Montessa fascinates him. Together, they find something neither one realised was missing from their lives and embark on a crazy, dangerous adventure that can only lead to tragedy...

Wow. This novella sure packs a punch!

There are so many things about this story that should have horrified me: that Lu is an unapologetic serial killer, that Montessa surrenders to such a freaky situation, and the stuff these two characters set in motion. But none of this bothered me. I actually really liked both characters and felt bad about their individual histories of violence. So when they team up, I wasn't surprised.

This is the story of two very messed up people. Two people getting by as best as they can, barely living real lives. Until they meet, and something explosive happens. I loved the raw violence of both Montessa and Lu. I liked how they brought out the best and worst out of each other. I enjoyed taking this rocky, dangerous and exciting road trip with them. And mostly, I loved how well this novella was written.

It might be a disturbing story with tragedy waiting around the corner, but it's awesome.

Oh, and the title rocks!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

THE CURE FOR DREAMING by Cat Winters


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year I borrowed a book from the library called, In the Shadow of Blackbirds and I loved it so much that I shortly bought my own copy and also purchased this one. And boy was it awesome! I just love this author's writing style.

Olivia Mead lives in 1900 and is out celebrating her birthday with some friends by attending a hypnotism show. The hypnotist takes her on stage and performs such an amazing trick that everyone starts to know her as the hypnotised girl, and a wealthy boy from school even takes notice of her. But when her father finds out, he hires Henri Reverie to perform more hypnosis to shake the rebellion out of Olivia.

The effects aren't nice, but they also open her eyes to show how the people around her really look under the surface. She develops a sometimes horrifying vision of how monstrous some of the people around her really are. She also develops a friendship with Henry and become even more determined to be heard and given the same opportunities as men.

Wow. This book totally hooked me in. The characters are interesting, intriguing, and some were despicable.

I loved Olivia's passion for life and her endless pursuit for education and adventure. No matter how much her father tried to squash her dreams, she never gave up. And she was so nice about everything. Even something as seemingly simple (to a modern woman, at least) as getting a pair of bloomers to ride a bike was something she wanted so deeply the mere thought of such a freedom excited her. It was sweet and innocent, and so moving. I also like how she was obsessed with the book Dracula and it became a basis for so much of the imagery around her.

I thought Henry was also such a wonderful character. A young man with a freaky talent who not only cares about his sister, but considers women to be equals. He was such a sweetheart.

This story was wonderful, but it also made me angry. It focused on the struggles of the suffragettes, and everything they tried to do so women could be given the right to vote. Some of the things they went through were horrifying. And because of their fight, we have so many rights today. It just pains me that a century later, we still don't have total equality. Yeah, this book sure stirs up some stuff.

I also need to mention how beautiful this edition is: the hardcover, the dust jacket, the font, crisp pages, the historical pictures and facts.

Yep. I LOVED this book. It's a total keeper!

Monday, 24 October 2016

ZOMBIE BLONDES by Brian James


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Zombie Blondes by Brian James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As you can probably tell, I'm spending October reading creepy books. So I thought I'd give this one a go. Although I enjoyed the beginning because it had a Stepford Wives and Disturbing Behavior vibe going, the more I read the less I liked it.

My main problem is with Hannah. She starts out being a normal girl. She's new in school and wants to fit in, but she's okay with staying off the radar. At first. Then she becomes obsessed with fitting in with the popular blondes. It's all she cares about, and she treats the few kids willing to offer friendship like crap. She just falls into the whole cheerleader thing too quickly too. I wasn't convinced about anything, because Hannah is awful. And not interesting awful, either.

And the zombie angle? O_o

Nope. Not remotely creepy.

Actually, the creepiest thing about this book was the set up. And that's mostly because I let it build up in my own head. Oh, and Lukas was kinda creepy with his turning up everywhere and always warning her and letting her step all over him.

Yeah. Unfortunately, this book didn't work for me. I just didn't care about the characters or the town, or anything.

View all my reviews

Sunday, 23 October 2016

THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This turned out to be another perfect, creepy read for Halloween month!

I really don't know why it's taken me so long to read this book--because I've had it on my YA bookshelf for ages--but I'm glad I finally did.

Mackie lives in the peculiar town of Gentry. A place that seems normal enough, and even thrives. But hidden beneath the surface is an ancient secret. One people don't talk about. Not even when their kids get taken and replaced by other things. But Mackie knows, and when the younger sister of one of his classmates becomes the next victim, he can't stop pretending.

Especially since his own allergies to iron and blood are slowly stealing his life. Now, he can no longer ignore the obvious, and will have to face who he really is...

I loved this book! It really hooked me in. Until all I wanted to do was keep reading, to find out more about what makes Gentry tick.

Mackie is a great narrator, btw. He's caught between both worlds, but doesn't share the cruel ways of Them, because he's known love and kindness all of his life. His story was a fascinating one, and I was hooked all the way through.

I also loved how the 'monsters' were portrayed. The imagery was lovely, but super creepy. There's such an interesting cast of characters. And if you're at all familiar with fae myth, you might even recognise a few. Yet, everyone and everything is twisted into the author's amazing vision.

I love a good changeling story, and this one was awesome!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Sick Week!

Yep. That's right.

I got sick last weekend--after the mucus virus went through my daughter, then hubby--and am only now starting to shake it. I'm currently at the tail end of it, so I still have residual clogginess in my nose and chest, but feel worn out. Not as bad as I did at the beginning of the week, though.

I just want it to be over, because this whole week was a total bust!

These are the things I wanted to do:
  • Update files from phone to laptop
  • Read GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by Kendare Blake
  • Go to dentist appointment on Tuesday
  • Complete monster short story second draft
  • Start taking notes/researching NaNoWriMo story

These are the things I actually did:

As you can see, I didn't even attempt to work on the short story second draft. I just wasn't in the proper mindset to even think about it. Mostly I just wanted to sit or lie down on the couch. So I set the story aside for next week. Hopefully.

At least I got a chance to read a lot.

And I'm really happy about getting the NaNoWriMo story notes started. I'm super excited about the story I want to write. It's going to be a creepy YA horror novel, because that's just the mood I'm in. :)

Well. There you go! Not a super productive week, but I'm fine with it.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

THE NAIDA TAPES by Dawn Kurtagich


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed The Dead House, so of course I wanted to read this novella.

The story takes place after the mysterious Elmbridge High School 'incident' that killed people and raised a lot of questions. This is what happened to Naida, following the events. After she cut her own tongue out! Yikes. But there's a very good (and creepy) reason why she did that. And via diary entries, found camera footage and notes, we get a little further insight into Naida's struggle. As well as what Kaitlyn really struggled with during her ordeal.

This is such a creepy little tale. It's dark and full of secrets. Secrets that are slowly revealed and lead the reader down a bunch of surreal corridors. Asides from the spooky factor, I also found Naida's fate to be quite sad. The sacrifice she's forced to make is so harsh. :(

I loved this story!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

UNFED by Kirsty McKay


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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

O.M.G.

This is how you write a duology!

I absolutely LOVED this book as much as the first. After reading several second books that totally sucked and felt like they were written without any consideration for the first book, this was so refreshing!

When Bobby, Smitty, Alice, Pete and Bobby's mother boarded a bus at the end of UNDEAD, they thought they were leaving behind the zombie ordeal. Instead, they get into more trouble. The kind of trouble that separates them, has Bobby waking up in a mysterious hospital, and reveals that zombies are still very much a problem. With just a few clues to help them figure out where to go next, the kids once again find themselves running. But where are they running to? And, are there any safe places left?

Yikes.

What a great fast-paced story! As soon as the book starts, it's full-steam ahead. I didn't want to put it down! The tension is gripping from cover to cover. Bobby's voice is so fun. And I also loved the humour. But don't let your guard down with the fun stuff, because this story is brutal. The humans are awful, the zombies are creepy, and the situation is HARSH.

This duology has definitely joined the list of my most fave zombie stories. I loved it. Heaps!

Monday, 17 October 2016

GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by Kendare Blake


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My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay. For the record, I absolutely LOVED Anna Dressed in Blood. It was creepy, engaging, the characters were awesome, the story original... I just loved it! So of course I was interested in reading this one.

Cas can't forget about Anna. And when she starts haunting him and asking for his help in getting out of hell, he becomes obsessed. All of a sudden, the ghost hunting becomes secondary, and he refuses to listen to anyone making any sense. Annnnnnd, that's how he ends up in London, where he plans to meet the Order...

I'm gonna stop right there.

While the first half of the book was interesting and even creepy in places, overall, this was nowhere near as good as the first book. Most of the time it seemed like the story was going nowhere. Cas was so obsessed with Anna that he started to irritate me. All of the freaky stuff that made the first book awesome and fresh definitely did not carry over to this one. And when they go to the UK? Ugh. No. Nope.

I lost total interest.

Sometimes, revealing too much ruins the story. And personally, I don't think Anna's story needed to be a duology. I think one book would've been plenty.

It really pains me to give this book such a low rating because there were a few things I enjoyed (like Thomas & Carmel), but I just don't think it was necessary.

I don't know what's going on, but I've been reading several 'duologies' that really should've been left as stand-alone. Is this a trend to satisfy fan service? Because I hate it when sequels feel tacked on, rather than planned out from the beginning. :/

Friday, 14 October 2016

Back to Work!

Yep.

This week, hubby went back to work and my daughter went back to school. I can't believe how fast our week off went! :/

Too fast, if you ask me.

BTW, what do you think of my new Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (Horror Classics Series 3) mystery figure? I think she's super cool.

Anyway. Everything going back to normal meant a new to-do list for me:
  • Proofread, finalise & sub the UF short story I wrote last month
  • Read & review BURNING by Danielle Rollins
  • Back up photos on my phone
  • Do second draft of monster short story
  • Start taking NaNoWriMo notes

And here's what I actually did:
  • Read & reviewed BURNING by Danielle Rollins
  • Proofread (twice), made final changes & subbed the UF short story (6,872w) set in Sierra's spooky world
  • Removed Sept/Oct photos from phone & backed up on drives
  • Dusted & reorganised (one of) my toys/collectibles shelves
  • Scanned UF short story notes & updated files
  • Started reading one creepy book but put it aside because I just couldn't get into it
  • Switched to a different creepy book & I'm loving it!
  • Started thinking/planning the story I'd like to write during NaNoWriMo next month
  • Trimmed my hair
  • Caught up on the washing

As you can see, I didn't get the monster story second draft done. On purpose. Mainly because the first three days of the week were so revision heavy that I didn't want to push it. Besides, I've been feeling a little sickish. This crazy hot and cold spring weather is a killer! Plus my daughter got sick last week, then hubby... so of course, it's now my turn. :(

Hopefully it doesn't stick around for long...

I'm actually happy with the progress I made this week, especially since the closing date for the antho I subbed my story to is today! Close one. LOL.

And I'm starting to get super excited about the book I want to write next month. I'm aiming for super creepy and plan to add some of my most fave creepy/spooky things. It'll be fun. (At least, I hope it will.)

Well, that's it for now.

Have an awesome weekend!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

BURNING by Danielle Rollins

Burning
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just three months shy of release. She'll finally see her little brother again. And she'll get the hell out of the pit that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. 

 But then Jessica arrives … She's young, only ten years old, and she's brought to Brunesfield in shackles under the highest security possible. She doesn't speak and is placed in the segregation ward. No one knows what she did to end up there. But there are plenty of rumours. Soon creepy things begin to happen to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl's arrival and it becomes clear that Jessica is more dangerous than anyone ever expected ...



My Creepy October Reading continues with this burning book. LOL.

Angela has been living in the Brunesfield Correctional Facility for several years now. Juvie's no party destination, but she knows the rules and how to stay out of trouble. Mostly. Plus she has two good friends: Issie and Cara. She also happens to share a dorm room with them and they have kitchen duties together. They might be hard girls, but they all get along and dream of escaping the restrictive walls around them.

The day a new girl arrives, everything changes. Jessica is really young and is in shackles and she's taken straight to segregation, so she has to be dangerous. With her arrival comes a mysterious doctor. Doctor Gruen appears nice enough, but it doesn't take long for her mask to slip and her true intentions to show.

Gruen says she wants to recruit SciGirls, but it soon becomes apparent that she's hiding something. And it doesn't take long for Brunesfield to start changing...

Yikes! This was quite the spooky book. I loved how the walls around Brunesfield seemed to close in around the characters. I also loved how the shadows seemed to hide things. And how sometimes, Angela caught movement out of the corner of her eye, but nothing was there. Plus that segregation floor... *shiver*

All of this certainly added to the creepy atmosphere about a place that keeps girls locked up.

Angela was also a very interesting character. She might have made some stupid mistakes and often feels like the world is against her, but she still knows right from wrong. She loves her brother above all else, and the way she takes the dangerous Jessica under her wing is really sweet. I also thought the strong friendship between Angela, Cara and Issie was a strength that gels throughout.

Burning turned out to be an addictive, sizzling surprise. It's a downright creepy story. The characters are engaging, the mystery intriguing, and the location claustrophobic. There's even a fascinating supernatural thread and a touch of romance. But at the core of this book is the story of forgotten girls trying to overcome the many challenges they face.

I really enjoyed it. And can't help but wonder: will there be a sequel?


Burning, July 2016, ISBN 9781408869956, Bloomsbury Childrens

Friday, 7 October 2016

Break Time!

Hey guys! I hope you're all having a great week.

I haven't been productive this week. At all. And you know what? I don't care. Why? Because it's my daughter's last week of school holidays and hubby took a week off. Yay!

I did get some reading done, though. And even wrote reviews:


I also managed to sort a bunch of stationery, and have been thinking about the novel I'd like to write during NaNoWriMo. I'm at that stage where the idea is bubbling in the back of my mind, and soon, I'll start taking notes. I've even got the notebook ready to go. :)

Oh, and I've decided that October means it's time to read some Creepy, Spooky books. So that's cool.

Asides from that, we've had a great week of sleeping in, hanging out, and having some fun together. It's been great. Sometimes you just need a break. I'm sad that it's almost over. :(

So. There you go. Not much to report, but I wanted to keep the weekly blogging update going.

Have a great weekend! We'll be celebrating hubby's  birthday tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

THE CREEPER MAN by Dawn Kurtagich

When sisters Silla and Nori escape London and their abusive father, Aunt Cath's country house feels like a safe haven. But slowly, ever so slowly, things begin to unravel. Aunt Cath locks herself in the attic and spends day and night pacing. Every day the forbidden surrounding forest inches slowly towards the house. A mysterious boy appears, offering friendship. And Nori claims that a man watches them from the dark forest - a man with no eyes, who creeps ever closer. . .


Last year I read THE DEAD HOUSE and really enjoyed it, so I thought this book would be a great way to start my Spooky Halloween Reading Month. :)

Silla and Nori are sisters trying to escape their abusive home in London. The youngest, Nori, bears the physical scars of their abusive childhood, so all Silla wants is to offer her sister a better life. That's why she gets on a train and takes them to the countryside, to stay with their estranged aunt. Cath is more than happy to offer them a new home, and the three fall into a nice, quiet existence. For a while.

When Aunt Cath locks herself in the attic and spends all day and night pacing, everything else seems to fall apart. The nearby town is abandoned. Nori starts seeing the Creeper Man who hides in the woods and watches from the shadows. A mysterious boy appears one day. And Silla struggles to supply enough food for their survival. With the trees slowly creeping closer, it seems like the end of the world is near...

Wow. Yep. This is how you tell a creepy story.

I loved the way this book was written. Most of the narrative is in the POV of Silla, as she takes us through the super freaky story of what happened when her sister and her came to stay at their aunt's manor. A huge place that might have once been a lovely, bright house but slowly becomes a hellish cage made out of tall trees and a scary man who watches from afar. It also includes handwritten notes, the brief POV of Cath and Nori, plus a slow descend into madness. There are even secret messages hidden within some of the passages, which is really cool!

Is Silla's ordeal real or imagined? Is she so crazy that she can't tell if she's hallucinating or not? Or maybe something much more sinister is going on... Maybe an old family curse is at the core of what's going on and why the Creeper Man is here for them.

To find that out, you'll just have to read this book. And I highly recommend that you do.

This story has so much depth. It's a touching account of sisterly love. It's about old family secrets. It's a half-remembered love story. But ultimately, it's a disturbing horror tale.

The Creeper Man is a surreal, atmospheric nightmare in the form of a book. It's dark and creepy and captivated me from the very first word. From that point on, all I wanted to do was read more because I just HAD TO KNOW WHERE IT WAS GOING! And the ending didn't disappoint.

This book is such a creepy delight. It's also an awesome way to start Spooky October. :)

Creak!


The Creeper Man, September 2016, ISBN 9781510101685, Orion Children's Books

Monday, 3 October 2016

BOY21 by Matthew Quick


Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights, and Finley is left to take care of his disabled grandfather alone. He's always dreamed of getting out someday, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay. 

 Russ has just moved to the neighborhood, and the life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won't pick up a basketball, but answers only to the name Boy21--taken from his former jersey number.  
As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, a unique friendship may turn out to be the answer they both need.


After absolutely loving Every Exquisite Thing, Ashleigh from Hachette Australia was kind enough to send me a few more Matthew Quick books.

As soon as I read the blurbs, I couldn't wait to get stuck into them and decided to start with this one.

Finley lives with his hardworking father and disabled grandfather in a not-so-great neighbourhood. There are a lot of bad things in Bellmont: drugs, gangs and the Irish mob. But Finley stays out of trouble and loves basketball. He might be the only white guy on the team, but he's good and the other players respect him. Even his  best friend Erin--who also happens to be his girlfriend--plays basketball, so he surrounds himself with the sport. He also doesn't talk much. 

Something traumatic happened to his family when he was a kid, and since then he's chosen not to speak much.

When his coach asks him to befriend a new boy called Russ, Finley's simple routine is suddenly thrown out. Russ used to be a hotshot basketball player who now lives with his grandparents. He prefers to be called Boy21 and claims he's from outer space. But Finley knows this kid has been through his own traumatic event and this is how he's dealing with everything.

As much as Finley helps his new friend and welcomes him into his life, he also resents that he plays the same position. But Finley's one of the good guys, so he steps aside for the sake of the team. When someone he cares deeply about is seriously hurt, his priorities become so much clearer...

Oh my. This book is so quietly good. It's the kind of story that first appears to be simple and even a little bland, but it doesn't take long for the brilliance to shine through.

Finley might be an outwardly quiet guy, but he's got a lot on his mind. He thinks a lot and wants to actually say even more. But he doesn't. He knows it's best not to speak up, until he realises that sometimes you don't have a choice. And I loved Erin. She's such a strong and cool character who understands people's oddities and loves them anyway.

I found Russ fascinating, and even liked Wes. The three become friends because of a Harry Potter book, which was cute. The adults were less likeable. His father and pop are kind, but really damaged and full of secrets. His coach is a selfish jerk who pretty much takes advantage of Finley's good nature. And his counselor was enigmatic.

Boy21 is another amazing Matthew Quick book with memorable characters and a lot of heart. It's another unconventional story about friendship, loyalty and the sins of the past. I also loved that even though I'm not a fan of basketball, I was totally engaged all the way through.

I can't wait to read more books by this great author. 

BTW, I love the super bright cover!


Boy21, June 2014, ISBN 9781472212917, Headline

 
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