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Saturday, 22 April 2017

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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.

 
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