_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, 22 April 2017

HOW THE WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Diana Rowland


19486406
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the covers in this series are really awesome, and this one is super creepy. Angel falling apart is an awesome way to portray what happens in this installment.

Angel finally passed her GED (yay!) and is still enjoying her job at the Coroner's Office (cool). She even gets along really well with (most of) her co-workers. Plus she's got a BFF (Naomi). But her relationship with Marcus isn't going so great because he's still trying to make decisions for both of them without checking with her first!

When a bunch of her zombie Tribe get kidnapped by the evil Saberton Corporation she finds herself teaming up with Naomi, Philip and Kyle in hopes of saving everyone. But when the double crossing begins and it seems like someone is feeding the enemy information, it gets really hard to figure out who can be trusted.

Yet, that's not going to stop this white trash zombie...

Okay. There are a LOT of awesome things about this book: Angel's snarky voice, the growing zombie world (got insight into some of the history), how deeply she's getting herself into the Tribe, her friendship with Naomi, and that--no matter what the cost--she's always willing to help everyone. But there were a few things that got in the way: Marcus is really starting to get annoying, their time in NYC went way too long, and several scenes even made the story drag in some places. I just felt that this book could've been a little shorter and tighter, like the previous three books.

Oh, and I really liked some of the gross zombie imagery. Some screwed up zombie weirdness goes on in this one.

But, OMG, there was one thing about this book that was AWFUL. The freaking font size! For some reason--maybe because the story was longer--the font type was TINY. Unless it was broad daylight, it made my eyes hurt. So I found myself reading only a few chapters at night and the bulk during the day. O.o It was a bit of a pain.

Anyway, in spite of the few draggy issues, I still enjoyed this addition to the series and can't wait to see what Angel gets up to next.

I'm almost caught up. Just have one book left.

Monday, 17 April 2017

THE STEPFORD WIVES by Ira Levin


10931746
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've watched both movie versions of The Stepford Wives and have always found the concept both intriguing and horrifying. So I thought it was about time I read the novella they were based on.

And I absolutely LOVED it! I read it in one day, spread out in several sittings while doing the housework. Just kidding. :)

Seriously, this might be considered an old book but--unfortunately--a lot of the issues are still relevant. It seems to me like the gender issues/problems will never be solved because of assholes like the men in this book. You know the type, the ones who only see women as trophies and don't want them to have a voice or any interests.

Anyway, about the story:

Joanna Eberhart, her husband Walter, and their two kids have recently moved from the city to live in the suburbs. Stepford seems like a nice place to live. A nice place to raise children. But when Joanna starts meeting the women in Stepford, she realises that they're all pretty, are plentiful in the breast department, and spend their whole lives cleaning. They basically act like their husbands are their masters.

This isn't appealing, because Joanna doesn't like housework. She's a photographer and likes to socialise, especially with other women. It's not until she meets Bobbie and Charmaine that she's happy to call them friends and hang out. Joanna and Bobbie hate the way the women act, and are convinced there's something in the water.

But when even Bobbie is infected with the cleaning bug, Joanna knows that if she doesn't get out, she'll be next...

OMFG. This novella is truly brilliant. There are some very hilarious bits, but mostly it's downright scary because the underlining malice slowly creeps up on you. That the reader goes through this awful ordeal with Joanna and watches her happy marriage and life eventually being destroyed by a bunch of sexist wankers, is quite the awful experience.

The paranoia that eventually grips Joanna leaps off the page. It's terrible to watch Walter--a man who respects his wife as an equal--gradually being seduced by the evil ambitions of the Men's Association (of dickheads). It's heartbreaking. And what happens to Bobbie and Charmaine--two very strong-willed women--is so sad. I felt bad for Joanna. Not just because she lost her friends, but because she figures out exactly what's going on and that it will eventually happen to her.

*cries*

Yes, this is a very clever story that I think some may not understand properly. I've heard many times that this is a parody of the 1950s housewife caricature, but I disagree. This is taking the piss out of stupid men who want to do whatever it takes to keep women docile and under their control. That these Stepford wankers choose to pretty much recreate their wives in order to do so, while seducing otherwise smart men to their side, is truly shocking.

Like every other story that seeks to destroy, control and silence women, I consider this a true horror story. But a very smart, well-written classic told by a man who truly understood what was happening when women were starting to take control of their own lives. And the men who feared this change.

Obviously, I have a LOT of thoughts, opinions and random things to say about such a powerful story.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty


20510868
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my Kindle for a while and have been intrigued by the blurb since I first read it, but it wasn't until the show was released that I just had to pick it up. Hubby and I really want to watch it, but I've got this thing about reading the book before the movie/show, so...

This book is told in the POV of three very different characters. Madeline, Celeste and Jane. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded within the very interesting narrative of these women. And I really loved these three characters. I connected and felt for all three.

Madeline doesn't shy away from anything or anyone. And she's very loyal to her family and friends. So when she befriends a new mother, she's willing to do just about anything to help her. Even though she's got her own problems: an ex who has a new wife and a daughter starting kindy with her youngest, and a rebellious teenage daughter.

Jane is a young single mother who's looking for a new place to raise her son. She's sad and has a dark secret that's aged and changed her into the weakest version of herself. But she's made two new friends and her life suddenly seems brighter.

Celeste is mostly known for her beauty, wealth and perfect husband. But she's distracted and is hiding an awful secret she tries very hard to conceal from everyone--even her friends.

When something terrible happens during a Trivia Night, everyone's secrets start to unravel and will change everything forever...

Yikes! This book is so addictive. I was hooked right away and couldn't wait to get back to it every time I put it down. It's such a twisted, messed up, sad, intriguing and even funny story. There's a bit of everything, but at its core this book is about the strong friendship these three women share. No matter what separate problems they each face, their loyalty to each other is fierce. And I loved that!

There are so many issues dealt with: marriage, ex-spouses, abuse, secrets, competitive parents, social expectations, the strain of children... I could list so much more. But I won't. I'm just going to say that I really loved this book and couldn't help but chuckle when I recognised some of the ridiculous shenanigans many of the parents engaged in.

I kept thinking back to when our daughter started kindy and we saw/heard some really questionable shit going on with the parents. LMAO.

Oh, and one other thing, I loved the location.

Can't wait to watch the show.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Back To Words


It's been a while since I posted an update about my short story goals, so I thought that posting a little something the week I got back into the swing of things might be a good idea.

BTW, this is my daughter's first week of school holidays, so of course my muse decided it was time to tell the story that's been bubbling inside my head. LOL.

The timing might be a bit out, but when a story is this ready to be told, it's not a good idea to turn away from it. Especially since I didn't write a story in March because the short story I started became a novel-sized idea.

Anyway, I only had two writing/reading things on this week's to-do list:
  • Write first draft of YA urban legend short story idea
  • Read WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

And this is what I actually did:
  • Wrote YA urban legend short story first draft (9,042w)
  • Subbed the story I finished in January
  • Revised the YA short story I wrote this week (10,387w)
  • Finished reading WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

It might not look like much, but I'm quite happy with the progress. Especially since this was really a 4-day week. :D

Subbing the story I wrote in January to a professional short story market is a total longshot, but you gotta be in it to win it. Right? It's definitely worth a try. *fingers crossed*

Next week, I'd like to proofread and finish revising the YA short story I wrote this week because I have an anthology I'd like to sub it to... Ideally, if I can get that done by the end of next week, that would be super cool.

Well, that's it for this update.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

WHITE TRASH ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE by Diana Rowland


15738579
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, I really like the covers for this very clever series. Also, now that I've found my way back to this series (after losing track of what was on my bookshelves) I'm excited about catching up. And this installment didn't disappoint.

Angel the zombie is back. She's busy collecting dead bodies for the Coroner's Office, trying to keep a relatively good relationship with her dad, and has decided that even though she's no longer on parole, she's still going to get her GED. After all, with the way her body heals it's become obvious that zombies are capable of living long lives. So she doesn't want to be uneducated for decades.

Only problem is that her life isn't easy. There seem to be shadowy people tailing her, things aren't going great with her non-boyfriend, some creepy things are happening on the set of a zombie movie, and there's the real threat of a flood pending. That's too much for one person to handle, but Angel isn't like other people...

OMG. Loved it! The third book in the White Trash Zombie series is just as good as the first two. I love Angel's voice. And felt so bad for her because in this book, she loses so much.

I also love how such a fun character is balanced out with a lot of very serious and dangerous stuff. Not to mention the zombie mafia. Or the companies experimenting with zombies. Plus, how cool is this world turning out to be? It seems to expand just a bit more with each book, and the twists and turns are really cool.

One thing I'm really liking is Angel's relationship with her father. It's so sweet, that she cares about him so much even though he's let her down so many times. Their interactions are so good, and super emotional.

Oh, and the Philip angle is equal parts fascinating and freaky.

Yep. I'm loving this series. Can't wait to see where it goes next...

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Inspiration & Ideas


The other day I posted this tweet on Twitter:


And after I did, I thought it might be a cool idea to write a blog post about it.

I get ideas from everywhere: dreams, songs, random words, TV, a sentence, pictures. My muse isn't fussy and has been going strong this year. Which is why writing short stories is so much fun at the moment. And I happen to follow several people on Twitter who post some really pretty artwork and photography that fills me with inspiration.

This week, a very detailed idea struck after I spotted a handful of pictures that instantly fit together.

It started with one picture that then connected to two others... seven pictures later I had a very vivid story playing out inside my head. And a few days later I found one more pic that tied everything together.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. The 9k short story I finished last month came to me after I connected three pictures into one idea. That one worked out really well. So I hope this one does too.

*fingers crossed*

I have an Inspirational Pics folder that I keep on my phone and on my laptop, and it now contains 1k+ pictures that I refer to every time I'm casting a new story location, characters, etc. It gets bigger and bigger, which I find awesome.

Like I said above, I find inspiration in a lot of different places, but nothing gets my muse tingling and my mind wandering as much as some pretty pics.

So, here's a huge THANK YOU to all the lovely creative people on Twitter who share so many awesome pics. Keep them coming! :)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

ALL THE LITTLE LIARS by Charlaine Harris


Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora's 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there's an even worse discovery at the kids' last known destination, a dead body.

 While the local police and sheriff's department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip's disappearance related to Aurora's father's gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be? 

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother . . . if he's still alive.


I was very excited when I heard there was going to be another Aurora Teagarden Mysteries book. I loved the Roe series! And thanks to Hachette Australia, I was lucky enough to receive a copy last week. 

So of course, I had to get stuck into it ASAP. :) 

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian, and is now happily married to the well-known mystery writer, Robin Crusoe. The newlyweds recently found out they're having a baby, so they are both thrilled. At the same time, the couple is anxious and don't want to tell anyone about the pregnancy until the doctor has confirmed everything is okay. 

It's going to be a full house in the Teagarden/Crusoe household, especially since her teenage half-brother lives with them too. 

Roe couldn't be happier. Her marriage is going great. She's rejoicing in (finally) sharing their happy news, and she still loves her job. So when her brother goes missing, everything crashes around her. No one knows what happened, but something really strange is going on because three other kids are also missing. Has this got something to do with bullying, is it some sort of sick prank, or can it be something even worse?

When a body turns up, Roe--who has a knack for getting caught up in local mysteries--and Robin--who is a mystery writer--are determined to conduct their own investigation. Even if they seem to be getting more questions than answers along the way...  

It's so good to spend time with Roe and the colourful people of Lawrenceton again. I didn't realise how much I'd missed her until I got stuck into this book. Roe is such a great narrator. I love her simple approach to life and how her mind works overtime to try and solve the heart of this very personal mystery. That she's not feeling well because of the pregnancy and that her father grates on her nerves doesn't get in the way of her focus. And with the help of fellow sleuth and husband Robin by her side, no case is going to stop them from getting to the truth.

Getting stuck into this book was like visiting a familiar town and catching up with old friends. I love that feeling! 

All the Little Liars is a welcome addition to one of my favourite mystery series. The story starts out calm and happy, but soon slides into the familiar territory of suspicion and uncertainty of a good mystery. As the events start unraveling, so does Roe's patience... which makes for a very intriguing and entertaining good time. 

I love this author's writing.


All the Little Liars, March 2017, ISBN 9780349416236, Piatkus

Thursday, 6 April 2017

EVEN WHITE TRASH ZOMBIES GET THE BLUES by Diana Rowland


12766833

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I've been reorganising my bookshelves and getting in touch with books I'd forgotten I had, I decided to read this one. It's an UF story, with a twist of zombie goodness, so I knew I'd enjoy it. Especially since I really liked the first one!

Angel Crawford is a zombie, and becoming one of the undead has actually helped her get her life on track. She's got a decent job at the coroner's office, her boyfriend has the same condition, and she's even getting along with her alcoholic father. Of course, the side effect is that she has to eat human brains. But hey, nobody's perfect! :P

When she's held at gunpoint and a body gets taken from the morgue, her checkered past comes back to haunt her. To complicate things, Marcus wants her to meet his uncle, there might be more zombie hunters around, and a freaky lab is doing some weird shit with zombies.

Things are complicated, and there's plenty to make Angel glum, but with her new attitude she's determined to figure out what's going on...

OMG. Why did I wait so long to return to this? I loved the second book in this super awesome series. It's got everything that I love about urban fantasy: a strong flawed heroine with a heart, attitude, a gritty story, excellent secondary characters, a good dose of horror, an engaging mystery, and plenty of zombie coolness.

Yeah, this was awesome! I love how we're discovering just how deep and mysterious the zombie world really is, at the same time as Angel. And that there's a zombie mafia is genius.

Oh, btw, how awesome are the covers in this series?

Can't wait to read the next one. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Our Awesome Break Is Over


As I mentioned the last time I blogged, my awesome hubby had a two-week break and it was wonderful. 

I love it when he takes a breather away from the office, so to speak. And hanging out together is one of my favourite things to do. So it was great!

We went for lots of walks (even though rain often tried to get in the way), slept in (which is great because we usually wake up at 4am-ish), we had our annual blood tests done (everything is a-okay, phew!), we relaxed, watched some stuff (Santa Clarita Diet is SO good), sorted through stuff, went to IKEA, hubby played a lot of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch, we went to the city to watch Beauty and the Beast (which was pretty but I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would) and I read. A LOT.

But now it's over. *cries*

Hubby's gone back to work and I miss him SO MUCH! :( We had such a great time together.

Sigh.

Now it's time for me to start thinking about what to work on next. I seriously toyed with the idea of taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo by writing the first draft of that YA novel idea I got earlier this month... but then remembered that my daughter has most of April off.

Yep. In fact, this is her last week before school holidays start. Not to mention that there are a bunch of public holidays happening this month as well. So I'd hate to be deeply involved in a novel first draft with that many interruptions. 

I think what might work out better is if I work on brainstorming/writing a few short stories, fleshing out novel ideas and allocating dates for other project goals this year. I might even squeeze in some reading, bookshelf organising, culling more unread/unwanted books and getting my TBR pile into some sort of order.

Yeah. This sounds like a cool plan:
  • Brainstorming
  • Short stories
  • Ideas
  • Setting goals
  • Reading
  • Sorting
  • Clearing mind clutter

That way, when May hits, I can concentrate on writing the first draft of my latest novel idea.

Our awesome break is over, but at least hubby will have several public holidays this month. Not to mention that we've already got tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.

Happy reading!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

EVE & ADAM by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate


15994396

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I found on my bookshelf the other day. It's one I've wanted to read for ages. It's also a book my daughter bought but didn't want/like, so I decided to keep it.

When Evening Spiker is involved in a really bad road accident that almost kills her, she ends up in a private hospital. Her mother is rich, and also a genetic scientist. But while she's getting better, she notices that she's healing a bit too fast. To keep her occupied, her mother gives her a task: to design a boy/girl in a virtual reality system.

Throw in a cute guy with a bunch of secrets and ambitions, a best friend who can't stay out of trouble, a God complex, and it's sure to lead to a bunch of trouble...

I really enjoyed this book! It hooked me instantly. Eve is such a great narrator, and so is Solo. I loved how their separate POVs helped the story unfold very quickly. It's heartfelt, but light. It deals with some pretty heavy themes, but was funny. Features a very cold, emotionless mother, but is balanced out with a bunch of caring kids.

It was also fun and I looked forward to picking it up every time I had a spare moment to read.

The two main character voices are snarky and snappy and interesting. My only problem is that the events leading to the end (last 15pgs) felt a little rushed. I wish things had slowed a bit. But then again, the whole story is pretty fast and action-packed, so I suppose it all fit very well together.

I'm really glad I picked this up because it's a great book! It might not be perfect, but there was a very cool vibe about it that kept me interested all the way through.

Oh, and I wish the UK/Aus paperback cover wasn't so bland. The US cover is awesome. The UK/Aus binding is also too rigid. It's a shame that the outside isn't as awesome as the story inside.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

LADY KILLER, Vol. 1 + 2, #1 - #4 by Joëlle Jones & Chelsea Cain & Michelle Madsen



Lady Killer (Lady Killer, #1) My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This volume has one of the best introductions ever. It speaks to my feminist heart. 


Josie Schuller is a 1960s housewife and mother. She’s also a damned good assassin. Balancing both lives isn't easy, especially with a nosy MIL constantly watching. But she manages to take care of everything, even her pesky handler. But when the tables are turned, everything gets extra bloody...

This is was great! I always enjoy a story that tears down the crappy ladylike BS always pushed on women. And it especially works with this comic book because Josie lives in a time where women are seen as weak. Even her husband, who comes across like a bit of an oblivious fool, doesn't think highly of women's role in society. Which makes it so much more hilarious and awesome. LOL.

The artwork is also really nice.

Yeah. I'm a fan. So I'll definitely be reading more. :)


Lady Killer 2 #1Lady Killer 2 #1 by Joëlle Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After really enjoying the first volume of this series, I was looking forward to reading more...

Josie's decided to start her own business, and the story starts after a Tupperware party. LMFAO. Of course, going solo also means more cleaning up and attention to detail. But Josie can manage. She is a housewife with a clueless husband.

The family has now moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, but it's business as usual and dealing with an even crabbier MIL...

This was so gory! I love it. It's like Dexter meets The Stepford Wives featuring a kick-ass chick.

The way everyday sexism is presented but clearly doesn't at all apply to Josie is perfect. The men are clueless to her strength and cunning and treat her like a delicate trophy, but she doesn't care. She rises above all that because she's got a job to do.

Oh, and the business tips were handy, too.

I'm loving this!


Lady Killer 2 #2 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For such a short issue, this sure packed a lot of stuff into its pages!

Just when Josie's gotten used to working alone, Irving decides to pop in. She hasn't seen him since the gorefest at the Seattle World's Fair. Now the old guy wants to work together. He offers to dispose of the bodies, and she accepts. But that's not all. Some assassins union guy is also bugging her, and her husband's super creepy boss makes another appearance...

Another solid instalment! I'm really enjoying this series. It's colourful and bloody and funny. Yep. 

Josie is so kick-ass and has everything under control. Plus she's very stylish, and certainly not afraid to get her hands dirty. Although I think the girls are a bit of a handful sometimes. LOL.

Can't wait to see what happens next.


Lady Killer 2 #3Lady Killer 2 #3 by Joëlle Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This psychedelic cover is SO COOL!

Man, this partnership with Irving is getting problematic. The old guy keeps showing up at her house and is taking advantage of the Uncle Irving BS they made up. Not to mention that the MIL's flashback was super disturbing and awesome and repulsive at the same time. Yikes.

Besides, he's really starting to creep me out. :/

I really enjoyed this issue! The artwork is just so pretty. Even the gory murder scenes are depicted in such an artistic way that they're nice to look at.

That ending was nuts, BTW.


Lady Killer 2 #4Lady Killer 2 #4 by Joëlle Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG. That final page with Josie & Mother Schuller is stunning. I mean, of course it's visually beautiful, but to have two strong women with so many secrets framed like that... man, it's powerful.

So much bad stuff happens in this issue. Stuff that really pissed me off because this fucking Irving asshole hasn't just screwed things up for Gene, but he's so obviously trying to screw Josie over. This partnership seems like a worse idea by the issue. :/

And I don't think Josie's going to take this shit. Not when her family's at risk and her super secret could be uncovered by any sort of investigation.

Anyway. As you can probably tell, I'm totally invested in this series and now have to wait months to find out what happens next...


View all my reviews

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

PAPER GIRLS, Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughan, Cliff Chiang & Matthew Wilson


Paper Girls, Vol. 1Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After loving the hell out of the Saga comic book series, I decided it would be great to check this out.

I mean, it's set in the 1980s, features some cool references and is about four very different, but cool, paper delivery girls: Erin, Mac, Tiff & KJ.

It's Halloween and Erin stumbles on the other three girls and decides to join them on their paper run. But when some weirdos appear out of nowhere and steal one of their walkie-talkies, the girls stumble on a weird ship and end up in some nightmarish demon infested place...

Okay. Just for the record at the moment I have no fucking idea what's happening. But I like the setting and the girls. The ending intrigued me. Plus the artwork and colours are lovely. And the story is creepy as hell. What's with the apple symbol, huh? And why's gramps got a problem with teenagers? O.o

Guess I'll have to keep reading to find out.

LITTLE DEAD RED by Mercedes M Yardley


28307993

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This isn't my first Mercedes M. Yardley story, so I knew I was in for a treat before I even started. She's got a way with words. An amazing knack for telling real-world cautionary tales with a slant towards fantastical horror.

And this novella was no different.

Marie loves her daughter more than anything in this world. But even with all her love and attention to detail, she managed to miss the signs of a dangerous predator under their roof. Marie took care of him, but Aleta was never the same. Actually, neither was she. The guilt is something she can never wash away.

When Aleta volunteers to take a basket of goodies to her ill grandmother, their life changes yet again. Aleta doesn't make it to the hospital.

Marie is now all alone, but revenge keeps her mind occupied. And with the help of a kind police officer, she's detetmined to become the wolf in sheep's clothing...

Yikes. This story is dark. Sad. Disturbing. Haunting. Full of torment and loss. It's also beautiful. I'm not surprised it won an award. The way the Little Red Riding Hood tale is weaved into a modern story about little girls who are destined to be victims is truly amazing.

I might have felt uncomfortable and sad and wanted to rage against things that make the nightly news way too often, but I loved this novella.

LETTERS TO THE LOST by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope. 

 Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past. 

 When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. 



When I received an ARC of this book from Bloomsbury, I knew nothing about it. But the premise sounded interesting and as soon as I got started, the writing swept me away. 

Juliet Young recently lost her photojournalist mother in a hit-and-run accident. Since then, she hasn't been able to let go or get on with her own life. She's always late to school, is hardly (really) available for her best friend and ignores her father. She hasn't even been able to pick up a camera again, even though she used to love photography. Not when it reminds her of her mother. 

So she spends a lot of time at the cemetery, and writes letters to her that she leaves at her grave. 

Declan Murphy lost his father and sister several years ago. One is in jail and the other one died. Since then, he's drifted away from his mother--who remarried--and has gotten himself in enough trouble to have to do community service at the local cemetery. He doesn't care about much but his best friend, and hasn't even paid attention to his natural talent for fixing cars.

So he spends a lot of time at the cemetery, and when he discovers a very personal letter left at a gravesite, he decides to write back.

This impulsive act introduces him to a girl with as much trouble and grief in her life as he has. A mysterious girl who allows him to open up without censoring himself. But as they get closer and confide more in each other, will they be disappointed to find that they've trusted their innermost secrets and feelings to people they don't particularly get along with in real life?

Wow. *wipes eyes*

This is one awesome and very emotional book.

I don't know whether to cry or laugh or sigh. Maybe all of the above. LOL.

Like I mentioned above, I didn't know much about this book going in. So it was awesome when I found myself totally hooked right away. So hooked that I didn't want to put it down, and kept reading until past midnight... I wanted to know how this was going to end.

The story is told in the shared POV of Juliet and Declan. So not only do we get to experience their very personal heartbreak and grief, we also see how their interactions affect them away from the anonymous letters. As well as all of the inner thoughts and feelings they keep trapped inside. This provided an amazingly personal insight into each character and makes them come alive so vividly that they both leap off the page.

I really loved their separate stories. I really enjoyed their joint story. And I especially loved how things shaped up and came together. Everything in this book packs quite a punch, and gets under your skin.

Juliet and Declan are living in the shadow of the parent they lost, and just can't seem to shake the good and bad effects this brings into their lives. Both of these kids were so good in their own way, but allowed too much darkness from their pasts to eclipse their lives. And this causes quite a bit of turmoil to both, but the path was one that I'm glad I got to share with them.

The supporting cast is also pretty amazing. From Juliet's loyal and bubbly best friend, Rowan, who never gives up on her or their friendship. All the way to Declan's best friend, Rev, who always has his back and provides the steady support he desperately needs. I adored Rev, I really did. There are many other great characters--foster parents who are awesome, a father trying really hard, teachers with faith in their struggling students, a supervisor who actually cares and even his cute daughter.

Letters to the Lost is a heartbreaking, yet very hopeful book that is so interesting and intriguing that I couldn't put it down. The road these grieving characters travel is bumpy and sad, but they never really give up. They might make stupid mistakes along the way and say/do things they don't really mean, but keep on moving. 

I loved this book. So much!


Letters to the Lost, April 2017, ISBN 9781408883525, Bloomsbury Childrens

Monday, 27 March 2017

SAGA, Vol. 2 - Vol. 7: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

READ ON 20 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 2

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I read the first volume, but it didn't take long to get back into the swing of things.

Marko and Alana have gone against some creepy monsters, and now that they're three things are actually worse. Add some very strange grandparents to the mix, the search for a ghostly babysitter, the introduction of a pissed-off ex, the return of The Will, and the birth of... well, you'll have to see that for yourself.

Boy, this is one weird and wonderful story.

It's really hard to describe this story because it's INSANE. A highly imaginative blend of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. You'll never read anything as crazy as this. And because of that you can't help but love it!


READ ON 26 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 3

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whoa. This volume was amazing! The story is really moving along now.

I loved Alana and Marko's stay in the cosmic lighthouse on the planet Quietus, while visiting their hero. It's so cool how they bonded over a book written by D. Oswald Heist in the first place. I just wish prince-douche hadn't ruined everything. And OMG. The Will! What's gonna happen there?!

BTW, I really like Lying Cat. And that the story is being narrated by Hazel. Not to mention how beautiful the art is. The colours are amazing and bright. There's just SO much to love about Saga.

I'm really enjoying this series! It's just so freaky and odd and totally different.


READ ON 27 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 4

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG. This just gets better and better.

A LOT of very cool stuff happens in this volume. Alana gets an entertainment job that leads to no-good. Marko becomes a bored full-time father who starts to stray. And in the meantime there's a crazy robot--yes, even crazier than Prince Robot IV!--leaving a trail of chaos behind him. It's brutal.

Love this!!


READ ON 27 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 5

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another action-packed volume full of adventure, unlikely companions, bad decisions, double crossing, sex and death.

Yikes. This series is a roller-coaster of emotion and bad stuff. Just when you think things can't get worse, they do. Just when you think things can't get stranger or grosser, they most certainly do.

I hated that Marko was separated from his family, but it didn't stop me from enjoying this very awesome story. And the artwork is brilliant, btw.


READ ON 27 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 6

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Yep. So much happened in this volume! Yikes.

Marko & Alana might have found their way back to each other, but now they're searching for their daughter. And Hazel is pretty much a prisoner, though she does attend school. I'm still really enjoying her narration, and the many colourful familiar characters. As well as the new ones.

The shit's getting real serious now, since I have only one more volume to read before finishing this arc. O.o

BTW, that ending... wasn't expecting that.


READ ON 27 MARCH:

Saga, Vol. 7

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just for the record, I read the individual issues 37-42, but thought it might be best to review them under the last volume.

Once again, the artwork is gorgeous. The colours are bright. And the story...

OMG. I'm in shock.

That ending was brutal. I read it several times because, Nooooooo!

The family is back together and on a comet to re-fuel. But of course, things don't go according to plan and a new threat appears, we meet a new set of cute characters to fall in love with, Hazel is growing up fast, and they'll be on their way soon. Except, when they don't because everything goes to hell.

I seriously refuse to accept this is really The End. :,(

Sunday, 26 March 2017

TATTLETALE by Sarah J. Naughton

The perfect brother.
The perfect fiance.
The perfect revenge.

One day changes Jody's life forever.
She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags's life forever.
After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiance Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don't quite seem to fit...


I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers, so of course I was interested in checking this out...

Jody's life hasn't been easy. She has a lot of terrible haunting memories, horrible physical scars, and even worse emotional ones. The day the man she loves more than anything/anyone else in the world ends up in the hospital, her fragile life crumbles around her.

Mags is a successful lawyer in Vegas. After escaping the memories of a horrible childhood, she hasn't looked back. So when she gets a call to tell her Abe, her estranged brother, is in the hospital she heads back to London. Not only is she forced to face her uncomfortable past but, when she gets to his flat, she starts to realise something isn't quite right.

The more Mags digs, the more lies she uncovers, and gets deeper into her brother's life...

Yikes! This book hooked me instantly. 

It starts in a strange, yet intriguing way that introduces all the main characters in such a jumbled way the first three chapters serve as puzzle pieces. Pieces that start coming together as Mags uncovers more about her brother and the residents of the building he lived in.

The story unfolds in the POV of several characters--some start out as a mystery--and totally work. I loved how Mags's cold exterior also concealed a damaged woman who found it easier to focus on ambition. I loved how Jody came across as weak and useless, but was really a survivor. And Mira added another, alternate perspective to an already great story.

As for Abe, he might have been absent for most of the story, but he was so interesting. The mystery at the core of the story is: what really happened to Abe? And it's a hard and page-turning path. It takes some great writing and characterisation to breathe so much life into a character who's in a coma.

Oh, and I have to mention St Jerome's because this former church felt like another long-suffering character in this book. The atmosphere is as vivid as the colourful residents and the many secrets they keep.

Tattletale is a very sad and twisted psychological thriller that reveals the very deep and awful echoes childhood abuse has on adults. Some scars never fade, but they sure ruin lives. This is such a well-written story. The characters in this book perfectly portray just how strongly the echoes of the past can burrow. And sometimes, actually follow you. 

This is also a story about family, friendship, sacrifice and loyalty. Even though the disturbing subject matter was uncomfortable, made me angry and very sad, I loved this heartbreaking book. I really did.


Tattletale, March 2017, ISBN 9781409166948, Trapeze

Sunday, 19 March 2017

When a Short Story Becomes More


A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to start writing my March short story soon. I had an idea ready to go, and even a market to send it to. I was also positive it would take two-three days to write the first draft.

So, after weeks of this story simmering in my mind, I got started. I was positive that I could get the first draft done before hubby's annual leave.

On my first day I wrote over 5k words, introduced an array of characters I liked, and really fell into the narrator's life. I felt for her because there was an edge of sadness to her story I hadn't expected.

That's when I realised this couldn't be a short story. There's too much story to tell. Too many layers to slowly reveal. So many mysterious, twisted scenes to write. Nope. This had the makings of a novel.

But I wanted to be sure, so I added more words the next day--2.5k, to be exact. And adding these words confirmed what I suspected soon after starting: this YA horror idea was determined to be a novel.

So, it looks like I'll need to come up with another short story idea for the market I had in mind... o.O 

In the meantime, I've taken a bunch of notes for the novel, done some research, and even cast the characters. But I won't be writing it just yet because hubby's got the next two weeks off--yay! After that, I think I'll be tackling this story. 

Writing YA horror fills me with A LOT of excitement. I've always been a huge horror fan, so I'm not surprised to be coming back around to this. Actually, all my stories contain some thread of horror. If you've read any of them, you know what I mean. ;)

Anyway, it's a little strange when this sort of thing happens. But hey, I'm not going to complain about any story wanting to be longer. I'm just happy about getting new ideas.

Like I mentioned above, the next few weeks are going to be full of hanging out with hubby--awesome!--but after that I intend to get stuck into this story. And I'm really looking forward to it.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Well, it's official...



I'm now a published author with no currently available published books. 

Yep. It's so weird to say that out loud. O_o

Last week I received my return of rights letter for the 10 pubbed and 2 contracted books I had with Samhain Publishing. That's two UF series and one SFR series.

I'm really happy with how quickly Samhain got these letters out. In spite of everything, I will always be super grateful for the opportunity Samhain Publishing gave my books. As well as the editors I worked with, because I learned a lot from each of them.

Like I've mentioned before, and as sad as it makes me, I have no immediate plans to submit or self-publish any of these titles at the moment. I'm not saying never. Just right now. I didn't buy any of the covers, and am not going to rush out to get new ones. I also won't be proofreading or re-editing any of these just yet.

Maybe I'll consider doing this one day. But not right now.

So I have to say Goodbye for now to my beloved Sierra & Co. and my Recast kick-ass guys & girls. *sniffle* Besides, I still have my paperback editions to help me reminisce. But I need to let go. Even though the last book in the Elsewhere series--the one that pretty much ties up the whole of the Sierra series--hasn't been published at all.

Hopefully Willow will get her chance someday...

Funny thing about all of this is that the other day I sorted through all my previously published novellas and novels, and discovered that I've had over 40 stories published. But because of publisher closures and many other problems, none of them are currently available. It's bizarre. But it's okay.

I have to look ahead now, not back. I need to keep writing the many ideas that hound my brain and hold me hostage until the story is written. I also need to start travelling a new path, and never stop the pursuit of my dream. Because at the end of the day, the fact that I get to write all these stories is a dream come true.

I have several projects (in different stages of completion) in another genre for another market that I want to focus on. I need to see how that goes, and if it leads anywhere. I'm also enjoying the short story writing and will continue to send them out to anthology and magazine markets.

I'm a writer. 
Writing is what I do. 
Being published is what I'll continue to strive for.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

THE STEEP & THORNY WAY by Cat Winters


22838927

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By now, I know that when I pick up a novel written by Cat Winters, it means I'm going to love it. She's got an uncanny way of taking readers back into our unsettling past, and totally hooking them into the story.

It's 1923 and Hanalee Denney lives in the small town of Elston, Oregon. She's just like every other teenage girl: enjoys spending time with her best friend, loves to sketch, is keen to learn, and wants to become a lawyer. But she's different because she's the daughter of a white woman and an African American man. A union that isn't accepted by everyone--including the law--and has always singled her out in a crowd.

Now that the boy who is responsible for her father's death three years earlier has been released from jail, she wants some answers. But what she finds isn't what she was expecting, because Joe Adder isn't who everyone claimed he was. And her father's death isn't as straightforward as the law made it out to be.

Throw in her father's wandering ghost, a good dose of suspicion about her stepfather, losing faith in her mother, and the stronghold of the disgusting Ku Klux Klan into the mix, and it's sure to deliver a Hamlet style mystery that will lead Hanalee on the very dangerous road to solving a terrible small town cover-up...

This book is awesome!

I was instantly hooked into Hanalee and Joe's story. And as the truth starts to unfold, I just couldn't put it down. I was swept away by what was happening and what it really revealed about Elston. These characters--even the awful ones--are all SO well written. Everyone plays their part in a terrible crime that is blamed on a very convenient scapegoat.

This story is rich with atmosphere, scenes that get your heart racing, appalling truths, and so much heart. I love how well this deals with uncomfortable historical situations that modern man seems so determined to keep repeating. So, just like all her other books, I got really angry with some of the things that happened to Hanalee and Joe, but absolutely loved the story.

Oh, and there are some very cool historical photos and information added throughout the book. There are two things you can count on with a book written by this author: the story will be awesome, and the actual book will be beautiful.

I borrowed this from the library, but just like her other books, I'll be buying a copy for myself.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

STARGAZING FOR BEGINNERS by Jenny McLachlan

Stargazing for Beginners
Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. 

 And Mum's disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She'll need a miracle of cosmic proportions...


I absolutely adored The Ladybirds series, and was looking forward to reading Jenny McLachlan's latest book. So I was super excited when I received an ARC last week. 

Thank you so much, Bloomsbury Australia. :)

Meg is fifteen, loves science and maths, is really clever, and wants to escape Earth by becoming an astronaut. She also spends a lot of time by herself because her interests don't fit in with what the other kids like. Plus she's always competing with Ed, and wants to beat him in the upcoming Reach for the Stars competition. If she wins, she'll get to visit NASA and start making her dreams come true. But in order to do that, she'll have to overcome her fear of public speaking.

When her hippie mother decides to suddenly leave the country to volunteer and help children in Myanmar, Meg is left alone to look after her baby sister. Their grandfather is there to help, but most of the time is more a hinderance than anything else. So she carries on, looks after her sister, covers for her mother, and even starts to make friends while forced to attend the Biscuit Club. But will her mother's actions ruin her chances of freedom?

I love the cover for this book because it's simple, yet pretty and effective. It's so Meg. Meg--or Megara--is a girl who's always loved science, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. I really liked how she refused to compromise who she was and what she wanted, so instead chose to keep other kids at arm's length. It wasn't that she didn't trust or dislike them, just found it easier to keep her distance. I always love an independent character with flaws. But when chaos strikes and she's forced to look after her baby sister, it puts things in perspective.

I also really liked the other characters. Annie was a lot of fun and didn't take crap from anyone. Plus she didn't let a disability stop her from doing what she wanted. Rose was a kind and understanding girl willing to help others. Jackson was mostly distracted, but was a good kid. Even Bella and Raj weren't bullies, just didn't understand Meg most of the time. And Ed, what a lovely character he turned out to be!

Funny how Meg's uncertainty and her determination to be left alone sometimes caused needless friction where there was none. She also did this with her sister. Never bothered to spend any time with her until she didn't have a choice.

Lastly, I have to mention the two characters that were so disappointing and frustrating that they bothered the hell out of me. Meg's mother is a free spirit, but her actions in this story are plain selfish. That she volunteers and wants to help others, but dumps her baby daughter on her teenage daughter was appalling and even hypocritical. And that her grandfather pretty much enables this behaviour, and is somewhat irresponsible himself is terrible. But you know what? As much as they bugged me and I disliked their actions, it was a fair portrayal about family and people. About how becoming parents and grandparents doesn't magically mean that someone's personality, hopes and dreams fade.

Still, this didn't affect my overall enjoyment of this book because at the end of the day, it was a fair representation of different types of people. Though I do kinda wish their mother had been held accountable for her mistake.

Stargazing for Beginners is a really cute, fun and interesting coming-of-age story about a girl who plans for everything, except the chaos theory. Meg wants to escape the world around her by learning about space, where she thinks she'll find freedom and like-minded people. But what she finds out (the hard way) is that sometimes, in order to reach your dreams and true potential, you need a support crew to help along the way.

I had a great time reading this!


Stargazing for Beginners, June 2017, ISBN 9781408879757, Bloomsbury Childrens

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

SONGS ABOUT A GIRL by Chris Russell


The first in a heart thudding trilogy about first love, heartbreak, pop music and the power of teenage obsession.

Heartbreak, romance, fame and pop music - for anyone who's ever dreamed of saying 'I'm with the band'.

Charlie Bloom never wanted to be 'with the band'. She's happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she's asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band, Fire&Lights, she can't pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman Gabriel West and his boy-next-door bandmate, Olly Samson. Then, as the boys' rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mindblowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs...


I have to start this review by mentioning how awesome this cover is. Not only is it totally fitting, but that silvery CD shine and polaroid pic are so nice.

Anyway, I grabbed this book yesterday afternoon to get a feel for it... and ended up reading the first 100 pages in one sitting! LOL. I found Charlie's voice compelling, and had a feeling it was going to be fun. I just didn't know I would love it instantly.

Charlie just turned sixteen. She's in Year Eleven, lives with her busy father, has a hilarious best friend (who also happens to be her neighbour), still misses her mother, and loves photography. All the other girls in school--including her friend--are totally into the hottest boy band in the world, Fire&Lights. But all she knows about them is that one of the guys used to go to her school and she had one conversation with him.

That's why, when she gets a personal message from him, she can't believe Olly actually reached out. But because of him, she accepts an offer she can't refuse and ends up taking a bunch of backstage photos of the band. That's when this quiet girl who likes to be anonymous in a crowd finds herself thrown into their crazy life of stardom.

All Charlie wants is the opportunity to take photos. Instead, she ends up really liking the boys. She enjoys hanging out with them, and gets caught between two of the boys and a web of lies she's told her father. Plus, now that people know who she is by name and face and decide to troll her with insults, threats and allegations, her life changes instantly.

What she didn't expect was to hear familiar lyrics in some of their songs, or to become the target of a bully...

Oh my! This book was SO darn GOOD. I had such a blast reading it. But don't be fooled, because it's not all fun and games. There are so many things going on in Charlie's life that the surprises never stop.

Charlie's voice is interesting. Her life is both happy and sad. I liked her friend Melissa because she was hilarious. I also liked how well they got along and how they supported each other. I loved her passion for photography. And I totally felt for her because she misses her mother so much, and suspects that her father is concealing information from her. Which really puts their somewhat awkward interactions in perspective.

And of course, I have to talk about THE BAND. I loved how the boys in Fire&Lights are portrayed in such a real and honest way. These four talented guys are thrown into an insane amount of fame very quickly, but they're just a bunch of normal, fun guys who happen to be making a lot of money doing something they love. Each of them is very different and have their own quirks and issues with how to survive their everyday lives and the never-ending focus put on them by the press, paparazzi and even devoted fans. It's a crazy world, and while Charlie tries to adjust, she realises how much pressure they really face.

Oh, and I'm obsessed with the mystery at the heart of the story. I'm not going to reveal anything about it, though. But it's sooooo good. 

Songs About a Girl is such a well-written, well-rounded book full of awesome characters, exciting music, strong friendships, and so many complications that I couldn't put it down. It's an awesome story, and one that took me right back to my teens. I mean, what teenage girl hasn't been obsessed with at least one boy band and/or hasn't daydreamed about getting caught up in their world? ;)

Anyway, THAT ENDING killed me. I need to know what happens next.

OMG. I loved this book. Heaps. Where's the next one? O_O


Songs About a Girl, September 2016, ISBN 9781444929157, Hodder Children's Books

Some Short Story Writing...


Since I wrote a whole post about my short story goals a few weeks back, I thought it might be a cool idea to put together a bit of an update.

As you already know, a lot has happened in my publishing life lately. All not-so-great things that I had zero control over. So I decided to focus on this goal for a bit.

I'm really enjoying the short story writing right now. It's nice to spend brief amounts of time with a variety of characters in different locations, while also stretching my writing muscles.

Anyway, here's my current progress:
  • The January story is done: my fantasy-esque, fairy tale-ish story about three very different girls now has a title. I just need to figure out where to sub this odd story about girls, spells and the sea... (First draft: 7,277w --> final w/c: 9,233)
  • The February story is done:  my horror-ish love story set in the underworld also has a title. I even subbed it to an anthology call. Wish me luck! (First draft: 4,773w --> final w/c: 4,880w)  
  • March: I haven't actually started writing a new story yet because I've been revising, but I did get some brainstorming done. And I'm now pretty sure I want to write this YA horror story next. It's going to be creepy & will deal with a few of my favourite urban legend tropes. I'm also hoping to include a bit of fun in there. I'll see how it goes...

I've also got a few other quirky tales and odd characters scratching inside my head. Not sure which ones want to tell short stories or novels, though. So I'm going to have to sit down and sort through the clutter one of these days. LOL.

There you have it! I'm really happy with my progress. I'm also glad to be writing new stories again.

Sometimes, you just gotta go where the muse leads.

Happy writing!


 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants for single moms