Saturday 30 September 2017

WONDER WOMAN: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. I've got a shrine full of WW collectibles. I used to love the show when I was a kid. I went to watch the movie twice because I loved it so much. My favourite mug is a WW one.

Yeah, I'm a fan.

So of course I was looking forward to reading a YA Wonder Woman story.

Diana is always trying to prove herself to her sisters. She might be the queen's daughter, but isn't really considered to be a true Amazon. That's why she enters a race, and is determined to win. Instead, she ends up witnessing a boat explosion and saves a young human girl.

She hides Alia in a cave, but having her is harming the island and making everyone sick. Plus, if she stays she'll end up dying.

When Diana finds out Alia is a Warbringer, she decides to get her off the island and sets off on an adventure to stop war from ravaging the world...

Okay. *takes a deep breath*

I have to be honest. I didn't love this book.

The writing is nice. Diana is great. I liked Theo and Nim. Alia's POV was okay. Actually, I would've liked it better if only Diana's POV was featured. I really disliked Jason. I didn't buy anything about him. Not his connection to Diana, his motivations, or the big reveal. Nope. Nothing.

It's a shame because I thought I would love this book, and I didn't. The story just didn't hook me in like I hoped. It just... I don't know. There was something missing.

Oh well. I'm still glad I read it.

Friday 29 September 2017

Current WIP: Week Three

Welcome to my third current WIP update! :)

So, how was your week? Mine was super busy. There's a bunch of remedial work going on in our building and the contractors are taking their sweet time getting things done. To the point where we start to think they forgot about us and then, boom! They return with noise and grit and get in the way, making access hard. Ugh.

I'm so over this. Can't wait for this shit to be fucking done.

Anyway. My daughter's also home at the moment. She's got school holidays for two weeks. BUT, I kept writing because this story has to get out.

Last weekend I sat down with notepad and pen to brainstorm everything that was stuck in my head. I ended up taking a bunch of notes, leading me all the way to the end of the story. So: yay!!

Thanks to those notes, I've made some very cool progress.

Here's how this week's w/c looked:
  • Monday: 44,544 (added 4427w) 
  • Tuesday: 49,218 (added 4674w) 
  • Wednesday: 53,498 (added 4280w)
  • Thursday: 58,750 (added 5252w) 
  • Friday: 62,932 (added 4182w)

This week I was hoping to reach 52,500. I ended up writing way more than that, and that makes me very happy.

Oh, and BTW, last week I said this: I'm at that stage where I'm pretty sure the total word count will probably end up somewhere after the 60k-mark. As you can see from my word count numbers above, I was wrong. In a good way. LOL.

Now, I'm thinking 70-75k. But I'm not concerned with the total w/c. I just want to get to The End and I'm sooooo close now. I can feel it. I can see it. Seriously, the rest of the story keeps playing out inside my brain. I'm once again at that stage where this WIP is TOTALLY consuming my brain and I'm constantly thinking about it. I can't stop!

So much that my reading is suffering. :(

I'm not going to fret about this, though. I'm having such a great time writing this novel. It's exciting and creepy and filled with so much more emotion than I expected.

So, yeah, I'm cool with this. Reading the books on my TBR pile is going to be an awesome reward to work towards AFTER I finish this first draft. *thumbs up*

Well, we're heading into a long weekend, so I won't be adding new words until Tuesday. I'll miss the story, but it'll also be nice to get a bigger break so I can get stuck into it again next week. Plus, hanging out with hubby is always awesome.

See you in October. ;)

Have an awesome weekend!

Friday 22 September 2017

Current WIP: Week Two

Welcome to my second current WIP update! Yay. :)

This week was another busy one. There seems to be so much going on around here lately that I just can't seem to find any time to relax. Not to mention that although I love spring, I always feel wonky around this time of year. The winter to summer transition is never kind on my body. *cries*

Anyway, my daughter finished up her Year 11 exams on Tuesday. So even though she went to school today for her last day of Term 3, she had a few days off along the way. And now, she's having a two-week break before officially starting Year 12. Yikes! O.o

In spite of all that, I pushed on with my first draft writing and managed to reach 40k! When I set goals, I'm very strict with myself. And when the story's so keen to get out, who am I to stop progress? LOL.

Anyway, this is how this week's w/c looked:
  • Monday: 24,175 (added 4052w)
  • Tuesday: 29,249 (added 5074w) 
  • Wednesday: 32,398 (added 3149w) 
  • Thursday: 37,016 (added 4618w) 
  • Friday: 40,117 (added 3101w)

As you can see, the word count wasn't steady but constant. And I've actually gone over this week's goal. I was hoping to reach 35k, so I'm definitely happy with where I ended up.

The story is coming along nicely, too. Everything is building at a good pace. The revelations keep coming. The creepy factor is always in the background. And just how deep the emotional impact is turning out makes everything that much better. I don't want to write a demonic possession story with a string of shock factors ruling the narrative. I want to tell the claustrophobic story of one girl's sad and confusing deterioration into darkness, while never forgetting she's a teenager. And that makes everything a little more challenging, and even a lot more fun. Plus I'm enjoying the family dynamics a lot.

I'm at that stage where I'm pretty sure the total word count will probably end up somewhere after the 60k-mark. I pretty much know what's going to happen from here to the end, but it's all a jumbled mess inside my head. I really need to sit down with pen & paper to work through everything.

I'm not a plotter but I definitely take a lot of notes along the way. I also find unexpected surprises slipping into the story during the actual writing and totally love that!

For me, brainstorming the mind clutter into bullet points always helps. :D

Well, that's it for now. I'm really looking forward to taking the weekend off.  

Have a good one!

Saturday 16 September 2017

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villany edited by Ameriie

Because You Love to Hate Me
This unique YA anthology presents classic and original fairy tales from the villain's point of view. The book's unconventional structure--thirteen of the most influential booktubers on YouTube join forces (writing-prompt style) with thirteen acclaimed and bestselling authors--gives these mysterious, oft-misunderstood individuals characters a chance to tell their stories, their way. 

Like Maleficent or Wicked, these are stories of vengeance, of defiance, of rage. They are stories of pain, of heartbreak, of sorrow. But don't expect a circle of hands. Leave it to the heroes to help the world; villains just want to rule the world. We love to hate them and they hate to be loved, if only because being hated frees them from having to be good.

Contributing authors include bestselling and buzzy names Renée Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, Sarah Enni, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon, with a foreword and a story from anthology editor Ameriie.

I have to admit that I was really excited when Bloomsbury Australia sent me a surprise copy of this book. The cover is bright and pretty, and I was intrigued by the concept. Besides, I enjoy a good villainy story, and there are some pretty cool authors included in this anthology.

However, when I started reading, I realised there was something odd about this collection. For starters, the YouTubers who gave the authors these challenges provided some pretty average essays (or rather, opinions) after each story. And the commentary has no impact at all because I don't know who any of these people are. :/

Not to mention that I personally would've preferred the challenge to be stated before each story. Adding it later is just so strange, and a little annoying.

Anyway, let's talk about the stories...

I've never read anything by this author, so I was excited about giving this story a go. I actually liked the beginning, but started to get bored only a few pages in. DNF, unfortunately.

JACK by Ameriie
Sorry, I couldn't even get past the first page of this one. DNF.

GWEN AND ART AND LANCE by Soman Chainani
Um, nope. The format is distracting and trying to be too clever. Besides, the challenge was a bit much anyway. Didn't work for me. At all. DNF.

SHIRLEY & JIM by Susan Dennard
Finally, a story that actually hooked me in! 

Shirley Holmes sends an email to her friend Jean Watson, to tell her about the time she met the enigmatic Jim Moriarty. Shirley tells her all about how quickly he captivated her attention and befriends her in the library via daily games of chess. How intriguing it was to be captivated by his different view of the world, and mysterious plans that would ultimately lead to conflict...

Just awesome! My favourite thing about this story is how easily it leads the reader down what seems to be an average teenage path and soon reveals how deep Moriarty's manipulation delves. He certainly finds what he was looking for, Shirley just didn't realise until it was too late.

This is such a clever contemporary take on Holmes, Watson and Moriarty. The writing style was so cool. Loved it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another DNF. Just couldn't get into this one. My mind kept drifting...

THE SEA WITCH by Marissa Meyer
Well, this one was just okay. I thought I would love it, but Nerit's story--although it has a few twists--wasn't that exciting. I know she's supposed to be villainy and all that, but her bizarre quest to force love working against her every time got tiring. Still, I read all of it.

Ugh. This one was just boring. I couldn't get into it, which sucks since I like Medusa! :/ Another DNF.

DEATH KNELL by Victoria Schwab
Now we're talking! I really enjoyed this one.

Death is a beautiful boy with brown eyes who wakes up on a rainy day at the bottom of a well. He's very hungry, but not for food. It's time for him to go to the nearest village and find a burning soul to consume. But when he does, nothing goes as planned...

Wow. The writing is beautiful. The imagery is vivid. The characters are delightfully ambiguous. And the location is perfect. The twist is also wicked. This is how you write a short story that grips the reader from beginning to end, and lingers after the last word. Loved it! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MARIGOLD by Samantha Shannon
Bit of a yawnfest, this one. Lots of skimming, and then ended up DNFing.

YOU, YOU, IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU by Adam Silvera
Oh, hell no. Stories written in second POV are the absolute worst! I couldn't even read more than a few paragraphs. No. Nope. DNF!

It started out all right... but I quickly lost interest. Skimmed to the end.

INDIGO AND SHADE by April Genevieve Tucholke
OMG, OMG, OMG! I knew April Genevieve Tucholke wouldn't let me down. Her books are SO awesome. And of course I loved, LOVED this story. Not only because I absolutely adore Beauty and the Beast, but also because this contemporary retelling totally rocks!

Brahm Valois considers himself a hunter. He's also rich, a town hero and very nice looking. He's a hottie and totally knows it. He's not exactly humble, and is determined to kill the beast haunting the Hush Woods. However, the day he meets the beautiful Indigo, his attraction to her leads him down a very dangerous and sad path, one that is sure to lead to heartbreak...

Wow. This is another beautiful story. I adored Brahm and Indigo as much as Belle and the Beast. The Colorado contemporary setting was so lush and perfect. The town of Valois is steeped in a haunting history that captivated me as much as the story that's happening in the present.

This is another perfect example of a well-written short story that sweeps the reader away and then destroys them. *wipes away tears*  :( Loved it SO MUCH! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

SERA by Nicola Yoon
This story was interesting enough. I liked the way it was told and how it was written, not to mention the shocking conclusion. I especially liked the character names and the gender swap. But I didn't love it.

Because You Love to Hate Me has an interesting concept, but the anthology doesn't reach it's full potential. With the exception of three stories, the others are lacking that special quality guaranteed to keep me glued to the page all the way through.

These odds aren't great, but I don't mind because the THREE (out of the thirteen tales) that I did LOVE were totally worth it. 

I did find two other tales okay, but didn't enjoy the opinion/commentary attached to each one by people I don't even know. To be honest, I would've preferred a small note from each author talking about the inspiration for their story than the waste of time that's actually added. :(

You know what sucks the most? That the three stories I did enjoy--SHIRLEY & JIM, DEATH KNELL and INDIGO AND SHADE--are actually brilliant. Some of the best examples of short stories I've read.

Yeah, this one was mostly miss for me but the stories I actually enjoyed stand out like colourful gems. O.o

Because You Love to Hate Me, September 2017, ISBN 9781408882764, Bloomsbury Childrens

Friday 15 September 2017

Current WIP: Week One

As I mentioned yesterday, I started writing a new novel this week. Yay.  :)

This story has been simmering in the back of my mind for several months now. When that happens, as soon as I get started the words usually pour out of me pretty fast.

My goal for this week was to reach 17.5k, and a few times this week I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to get there.

Luckily, even though there were quite a few (pesky) distractions, I still managed to stay on track. I thought two technicians coming in at the beginning of the week were distracting, but once the NBN was finally sorted out, remedial works started downstairs. O_o

That means tile removal for TWO DAYS. Even though they stopped hours ago I can STILL hear the drilling sound inside my head. But I pushed on.

Today turned out to be a big wordage day. I even updated my files, photos and pics. My daughter spent all day at school--because she had two exams--so I got a chance to just lose myself in my work without having to worry about anything else.

 So, here's my first w/c progress: 
  • Monday: 4,146w
  • Tuesday: 8,161 (added 4015w) 
  • Wednesday: 11,171 (added 3010w)
  • Thursday: 15,173 (added 4002w) 
  • Friday: 20,123 (added 4950w)

I honestly can't believe I reached 20k! But I'm very excited about the pace of the story, and even happier about the progress.

So, what's this story about? I've already mentioned this is another YA horror, and that it deals with demonic possession. It's a familiar trope twisted into an emotional story of survival and the struggle of one girl at risk of losing herself.

I'm really enjoying it right now.

The only problem with being so caught up in my own story is that reading has taken a backseat. Seriously, I have so many books I want to get stuck into but I can't concentrate because my thoughts keep wondering back to my WIP.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to read something over the weekend. Hopefully. I'm just looking forward to slowing down for a bit and relaxing with hubby for a few days.

Well, have a great one!

Thursday 14 September 2017

Time for a New WIP!

That's right! 

After spending a lot of last week working through my notes for this idea and brainstorming the beginning, I finally started writing a new story. Yay.

It wasn't an easy week to start something new because my daughter's doing her Year 11 exams. That means she's only going into school for a few hours every morning. Plus, we've been dealing with this NBN connection prob for several weeks now and had two different technicians come in on two different days.

So, yeah, all of the above has taken time away from actual writing. :/

Still, I'm not letting anything stop me from tackling my next first draft because this story is SO ready to be told. It's been inside my head for months now. Waiting very (im)patiently. LOL.

The idea first came to me while watching Annabelle. It was just a simple, very random thought that struck me during the movie. Such a strong thought I ended up writing it down afterwards and then started jotting more notes instantly!

As you can probably guess from the graphic above--and if you follow me on Twitter--this novel is about demonic possession. Or at least my take on one of my fave horror tropes.

So far I'm really enjoying it.

Like my two previous WIPs, this is another YA horror about creepy stuff, a strong girl, her family, friends, and the demonic.

I'm once again aiming for 50-70k, and because I would like to have this draft finished by the second week of October (when hubby has a week off work), it would be cool to write between 3-4k/day from Mon-Fri. Yeah, I like to take the weekends off.

It's filling my head so much I haven't been able to concentrate on reading anything. All I want to do is think about my story, keep researching stuff and taking notes. Not to mention that with so much going on, I'm totally buggered by the end of each day.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I'll be back for my first progress post on Friday.

See ya!

Friday 8 September 2017

Reading & Thinking & Brainstorming

Hey! How's it going?

There goes another week. Man, they sure go fast! O_o

Although I plan to embark on a new WIP this month, I just wasn't ready to start yet. Not so close to the revision I just finished. Not when I wanted to think and brainstorm some more. So, I spent the week updating files, researching demonic stuff, reading a book I was enjoying (until I wasn't), and brainstorming the WIP.

This is a story that's been inside my head for months, so I'm totally ready to get started. BUT, at the moment everything is just crowded in there and I needed more time to get everything into some sort of sequence. LOL.

I'm really happy with all the notes I took, the research I collected, the inspiration pics I added to the collection, and the direction the story is going.

Oh, and I'm taking part in #authorconfession on Twitter. So if you want to find out a bit more about the novel I plan to write, check out my timeline. :)

The other thing I spent most of my week doing is complaining about how our internet connection keeps dropping out. It's seriously awful. Less than a month ago we switched our cable to NBN, which is supposed to be the future of internet in Australia. Instead, it's a burning sack of shit. It's so frustrating. Terrible.

After a thousand calls and my constant complaining on Twitter, they're finally sending a technician next week. I really hope this gets sorted out soon because it's making me fucking crazy!

*fingers crossed*

Well, that's about it for this week.

Hubby & I are going on a date to watch IT tomorrow. I hope it's creepy, fun and awesome.

Have a great weekend!

NEVERMOOR: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks - and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on Eventide. 

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. 

It's there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart. Except for Morrigan, who doesn't seem to have any special talent at all. 

To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests - or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

I was super excited when I received a gorgeous ARC of this book and couldn't wait to get stuck into it.

Morrigan Crow is a Cursed Child. In Jackalfax, she is blamed for just about everything. Even accidents and disasters that have nothing to do with her. Everyone, including her family, put up with her costly existence because they all know that when Eventide arrives, she will die at the age of twelve. 

When the Age changes before it's time and an eccentric ginger-bearded man sweeps her into the amazing land of Nevermoor, she miraculously survives.

In Nevermoor, she gets to stay in a magical hotel that changes daily and becomes friendly with the interesting staff. But, in order to stay in this magical place, she'll have to complete the Wundrous Trials...

As soon as I started, I was charmed by both Morrigan--because this Cursed Child was super sweet and strong and adorable--as well as the fantastical setting. The world is fully imagined and vivid, even if some of the aspects were a little hard to visualise. 

I was enjoying the book so much that I managed to ignore the slow, dragging pace in some places. I didn't let the off-page events bug me, even when they were briefly summarised. It was easy to do because every time I started to feel like my mind was straying, something really cool would happen and I'd once again get swept up in the story.

Having said that, the second half of the book was a bit of a struggle to get through. What made Morrigan charming at the beginning made her annoying by the end. And what was the deal with Jack? A character who conveniently drops in and out of the story to provide someone for Morrigan to argue with. I did like Hawthorne, though. He was funny and cheeky. Fen was interesting, but was absent for too long. I wanted to see more page time for the giant cat. Who wouldn't?

Oh, and let's talk about Jupiter North. (I love that name, btw.) He was a bit of a conundrum. One second I liked him, the next I didn't. Most of the time he seemed to come and go for the sole purpose of being the quirky adult character. A character who keeps a secret for 400 pages! A secret that becomes quite obvious early on, so by the time he explains what he knows it seems almost irrelevant. O.o

As much as I enjoyed the first half of this book, too many things bugged me. I found all of the Christmas chapters tiresome and unneccesary. The book is set in a fantastical world, so I sometimes found the real world stuff randomly mentioned throughout a little jarring. Although entertaining, it's just too narrative heavy. It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it was enough to strip away some of the enjoyment.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow is mostly a great adventure tale about an interesting character who finds herself in a world which is much more exciting than her own. There's definitely enough there to charm the reader into the story. But overall I found it dragged in too many places--especially between the trials--and this ultimately outweighed everything else. 

I also think the book would've been a lot more fun if it was 100 pages shorter. 

The fact I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped makes me sad. I really wanted to love this book. :(

The Trials of Morrigan Crow, October 2017, ISBN 9780734418074, Lothian Children's Books

Sunday 3 September 2017

AFTER I'VE GONE by Linda Green

You have 18 months left to live . . . 

On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate?

Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist.

This is a surprise book I recently received from Hachette. I knew nothing about it, had never read anything by this author, and was a bit confused about the cover because it didn't seem to fit the blurb. But, I'm a sucker for a good thriller and am always willing to give books with an interesting concept a chance.

I picked it up the other day to get a taste and before I realised it, I was several chapters in. And wanted to keep reading because I loved the narrator's voice. After that, I was hooked!

Now, let's talk about the story.

Jess Mount leads a simple life. She's twenty-two and still lives at home with her father. She works at a cinema with her childhood best friend. And she doesn't take shit from assholes. So when she meets Lee, a nice looking older guy who is totally into her, she gets swept off her feet.

It doesn't take long for her to get excited about where her life is heading with her new boyfriend. He's charming, has a good job and buys her nice things. She's totally smitten. But when she stumbles on a bunch of Facebook future messages from friends and family missing her after her death, her life is turned upside down.

Now Jess is living in the present while sampling a bleak future. The only positive is finding out she has a son. A baby she can't wait to meet. Yet, chasing her unborn child means her life starts to spiral out of control, sending her down a one-way road to death...

Wow. What an amazing story!

On the surface, this book comes across like a standard love story gone wrong. The tale of a woman who falls in love so hard and fast that she's blinded to the obvious truth. But it's so much more. It's also the story of a headstrong young woman who is happily coasting through an uncomplicated life because of the scars losing her mother at a young age left behind. 

The story was interesting enough when Jess is telling it, but the addition of Angela gave everything an even better perspective. Not to mention that the future Facebook messages add a suspenseful narrative to the already bleak events slowly unfolding. And catching glimpses of a much younger Jess helped get inside her head.

I also loved how Jess was a huge Harry Potter fan and that she loved movies. Her friendship with Sadie was touching, and her relationship with her father is so sweet. Not to mention how well some of the 2016 shocking celebrity deaths were included in the narrative. All of this added an even deeper level of sadness to an already emotionally-heavy story.

After I've Gone hooked me in from the very beginning. It was so addictive I struggled to put it down. I just wanted to keep reading, to find out what was going to happen next. And it didn't disappoint. From start to finish, there isn't a dull moment because the writing is exceptional. 

I loved this book. A lot. Even when I was frustrated about where things were going. Even when I was scared about what was going to happen next. And even as the true horror of abuse darkened every page and filled me with so much sadness.

This is a very powerful book, and I'm very glad to have read it. Thank you, Hachette Australia, for sending me a copy.

After I've Gone, August 2017, ISBN 9781786483027, Quercus

Friday 1 September 2017

Last Week of Winter

That's right! Can you believe winter is finally over? That's a good thing because I'm done wearing layers of clothes. Ugh. Besides, I hate how my hands are always cold and sore enough for the skin to tear. Ouch!

I'm so ready for spring. Although, I'm not sure about September! Can you believe it's SEPTEMBER already!? O.o


After finishing a draft--whether it's first, second or third--I like to take (at least) one week off. It's just nice to take a breather in between projects, you know? I usually take this time to sort clutter, read and dream about ideas. Sometimes I even watch stuff.

This week I watched the Wynonna Earp S2 finale, and boy was it AWESOME! This has become one of my favourite shows, and one I watch alone because hubby & daughter aren't into it. But I love it! This show is as effortlessly feminist as it is diverse. It's so much fun, but full of serious issues. It's a simple premise that presents a lot of scary consequences, and takes many twists & turns. Not to mention the one-liners are LOL-awesome, and the characters keep me hooked.

Yeah, I love this show. :)

Asides from that I picked up two books I ended up DNFing. One because it was annoying and the other was super boring. I did read a deliciously wicked short story online, and am now halfway through an excellent thriller.

So this week's reading was a bit of a mixed bag.

I also spent some time tidying up notes for my two WIPs, as well as starting new Revision Lists for both. I got a bit of brainstorming done on my new phone & added stuff to my idea notebook. I've also been sorting a bunch of inspirational pics on my phone for each idea, which included a complete overhaul at the beginning of the week.

So, there you have it. I did get quite a bit done, but at a much slower pace. It was nice to have a short to-do list for a change.

Now I'm going to enjoy a few days off with hubby.

Have an excellent weekend!
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