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Friday, 16 November 2018

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

Welcome to my third NaNoWriMo update!

Did you all have a good week? We spent the beginning of the week watching THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE on Netflix. It was such an addictive show! We couldn't stop watching, kept exchanging theories and throwing around possibilities. It was fun. And OMFG, what a fantastic story full of creepy vibes, excellent characters, and so much heartbreak. Great writing. Loved it.

In the end, like hubby said, the real haunting is how it infects the viewer. We were OBSESSED. Or is that, possessed? LOL.

My daughter had less shifts this week, but I still spent a lot of the time working on my WIP. The words and story were coming fast, and all I wanted to do was get everything out of my head and on to the screen. 😳

Anyway, here's how the word count went:
  • Monday: 38,012 (added 3513w)
  • Tuesday: 41,533 (added 3521w)
  • Wednesday: 45,609 (added 4076w)
  • Thursday: 51,380 (added 5771w)
  • Friday: 52,731 (added 1351w)

See my Friday total? That's right! Today, I passed the NaNoWriMo 50k goal AND also finished the first draft. Yay.

When I started, I wasn't sure how long the first draft would be, but I'm very happy with where/how it went. The story reached a conclusion I'm really happy with, and what ended up on the page was even more involved than I expected. The complications were twistier, relationships totally toxic, the creep factor darker, the imagery freakier, and how the mystery turned out very satisfying.

Like I mentioned before, the way I wrote Madness was a challenge. There are two POVs that complement each other and I had to do some pretty tricky writing to connect all the dots. During revision I'll be able to sharpen everything, strengthen the foreshadowing and pepper even more clues.

But for now, I'm VERY happy with the first draft. Very excited about finishing another story idea that's been circling my brain for months.

Now it's time to take a brain break, and to let the last dregs of this story spill into my mind so I can add stuff to my Revision List. πŸ˜ƒ

So, what else did I get up to? Oh yeah, because I loved the TV show SO MUCH, I picked up THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. This is third time I started it, and this time I'm really enjoying it. It's a strange thing because I've tried reading this book twice, and kept putting it aside. But this time, I'm SO into it.

Maybe I needed the show to truly appreciate this book. Whatever it is, I don't care. I'm halfway through and can't wait to see how it ends.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm looking forward to taking the weekend off with hubby, and enjoy the fact that I just wrote another book.

Have a great one!

Monday, 12 November 2018

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA #1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and finding out it was based on this comic book series, I wanted to check it out. So when I found all 8 issues at the Kindle store for a bargain price (99c each) I HAD to buy them!

The story starts with Edward and Diana Spellman. A warlock and a human who fall in love and have a baby. But for some (unknown at the moment) reason, they have to give her up to Edward's sisters, Hilda and Zelda.

The aunties move to Greendale and raise Sabrina in this small town. Here, she gets a familiar--Salem the cat--and goes to a human school. Her mysterious cousin also lives with them and helps her with a lot of the mischief she finds herself in. In this case, wanting the affections of Harvey Kinkle.

But what she doesn't know is that an old foe of her parents has come back, and is ready to seek revenge...

The artwork in this issue--by Robert Hack--is beautiful, and creepy. So very freaky. And I like how the pages are set out. There's quite a bit of narrative and dialogue in this book, which is setting everything up really well.

I also like that it's set in the 60s, and that although the story is very familiar, it's already different from the show. Even the way Sabrina looks defers, as well the lore about familiars.

This issue also contains a classic Sabrina story from Archie's Madhouse Issue #22 (October 1962), which according to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa happens to be her first appearance.

Oh, and the cover of this book has a real Flowers in the Attic vibe.

I really enjoyed this!

Friday, 9 November 2018

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

Welcome to my second NaNoWriMo update! πŸ˜€

How was your week? I spent most of it typing up a storm. Well, there weren't any actual storms in my story, but there is quite a bit of drama, a lot of creepy stuff, and some pretty screwed-up imagery that's so vivid I keep getting lost in the words. And can't stop typing.

My daughter picked up some extra shifts at work, but was home at the beginning of the week, so I planned several 3k-word days. So I could write during the morning, and then take the afternoon off. BUT, once I got stuck into it, there was no point in halting the flow.

If the words are coming and the scene is unfolding in my head, it's best to keep going.

Anyway, here's how I went this week:
  • Monday: 14,425 (added 4289w)
  • Tuesday: 19,244 (added 4819w)
  • Wednesday: 23,395 (added 4151w)
  • Thursday: 30,203 (added 6808w)
  • Friday: 34,499 (added 4296w)

As you can see, I've passed the halfway point. In both NaNoWriMo word target AND my story. I'm still not sure how many words the first draft will be, but definitely somewhere between 50-60k. I'm hoping for 55k, but whatever it takes is cool with me.

The actual story is turning out even better than I hoped it would. It's creepy, intense and sometimes confusing--which is on purpose. LOL. There's also more drama than I expected, and some interactions between characters I didn't expect.

Madness is turning out to be a very cool challenge that won't stop after the first draft. For this novel to work, the revision process will help tighten the vision I have.

But that's enough about the story. 😁

Hubby and I watched THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA on Netflix and it was SO awesome. I enjoyed it a lot. It's dark, freaky, brutal and fun. The character journeys were interesting and impressive. Loved how things were tied up, yet helped setup the next season. Hope there'll be more!

I liked it so much I picked up 8 issues of the comic book series from the Kindle store because they were on special. Very cool.

I also read an intriguing book called ANNIHILATION. Been meaning to watch the movie for a while but I wanted to read the book first. Now, we can.

Well, that's about it for another week. I'm mentally drained right now, so I'm looking forward to taking the weekend off.

I'm sure I'll still dream and think about my WIP because the story is coming together and racing towards the finish line. But no actual writing will take place.

Have a great weekend!

ELEVATION by Stephen King

Castle Rock is a small town, where word gets around quickly. That's why Scott Carey wants to confide only in his friend Doctor Bob Ellis about his strange condition: he's losing weight, without getting thinner, and the scales register the same when he is in his clothes or out of them, however heavy they are. 

 Scott also has new neighbours, who have opened a 'fine dining experience' in town, although it's an experience being shunned by the locals; Deidre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson don't exactly fit in with the community's expectations. And now Scott seems trapped in a feud with the couple over their dogs dropping their business on his lawn. Missy may be friendly, but Deidre is cold as ice. 

 As the town prepares for its annual Thanksgiving 12k run, Scott starts to understand the prejudices his neighbours face and he tries to help. Unlikely alliances form and the mystery of Scott's affliction brings out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.


It's no secret that I'm a Stephen King fan, so of course I couldn't wait to read his latest novella.

Scott Carey lives in the small town of Castle Rock. He's divorced but has a comfortable job working from home, and shares his house with a cat. He also has a peculiar problem. One he decides to share with his friend, a retired doctor.

Scott is losing weight, but still looks the same. No matter what he's wearing, or not wearing, the numbers on the scale don't change. Even when he's holding something!

His other problem is that his new neighbour's dogs keep pooping in his yard. And their owners happen to be a new couple in town--a married gay couple who is finding it hard to get their restaurant business off the ground because of close-minded fools.

But Scott's had enough of staying quiet, and decides to take a stand. While using his condition to his advantage, he hopes for a positive outcome...

He's done it again! King took a simple but mysterious seemingly medical condition, and turned it into an emotional story about friendship, tolerance and acceptance. 

The way so many of today's issues casually form some of the narrative is done well, smoothly layered into the main character's troubled condition. There is a message here, but it doesn't slap you in the face. Instead, it follows one man's decision to change, to deal with bigotry in an honest way. 

I also really liked how Scott speaks up when others judge without thinking, or bothering to get to know who they're badmouthing.

Whenever I pick up a Stephen King book, I know it's going to affect me in a lot of ways. And this story did that. It also swept me away to Castle Rock, and beyond.

Elevation is a short and sweet story that, in typical King style, hooked me in from the beginning. The mystery at the core of the novella is intriguing and freaky, which leads to a heartbreaking conclusion. The way everything turned out was bittersweet, because although it ends on a sad note, it's also nice because of the connections left in his wake.

And I HAVE to mention how beautiful this book is. It's hardback, the cover is lovely, the inside is pretty, and the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter are lovely.

Can't wait to see what comes next for this very awesome author.


Elevation, October 2018, ISBN 9781473691520, Hodder & Stoughton

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

ANNIHILATION by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)

This is a book that I've wanted to read for a while, so when hubby found a really nice copy during one of our thrift store adventures, I was super excited.

Area X is cut off from the rest of the world, and has been for a long time. It's why groups of expeditions are sent out to explore. But every time they are, something strange happens. Some expeditions end in murder, others in suicide, the latest were shells of their former selves when they returned. But new groups keep training and new professionals are sent out.

During the 12th expedition, a biologist, surveyor, anthropologist and psychologist are sent. And they're all female. Not that this will make a difference when facing such treacherous terrain...

Whoa. Wow! This is such an intriguing and unique SF story. I was hooked instantly. It's SO intense.

The narrator--the biologist--has such an addictive voice. She kept me riveted to the page because I wanted to know what was going to happen next, exactly what was going on in this world, and just wanted to know how everything was going to turn out.

This is such an intriguing psychological (ecological) thriller. The biologist's voice is strong, yet shy and even standoffish. Not to mention that she often becomes an unreliable narrator. She explains a lot about what she sees and what she's gone through, but conveniently leaves out important bits of information. She also seemed to struggle with emotion and relationships, which comes across whenever she talks about her husband--who was on one of the ill-fated expeditions.

I especially liked how the biologist talks about her surroundings. It makes everything come alive, her words filled my mind with amazing and impossible imagery about a world that is often hard to comprehend.

The mysterious and creepy vibes were addictive. The more I read, the more I got lost in this insane world. A lot of weird shit happens, and the writing style captured everything perfectly. Add a bunch of clever flashbacks to tie in to what the biologist discovers, and there's no way I was putting this book down until I reached The End.

After that ending, I'm really curious about where the other two books in this trilogy will take this story.

Now we can watch the movie. 😊

Friday, 2 November 2018

NaNoWriMo: Week One

Well, it's hard to believe... but it's that time of the year again. Yep, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. Of course. 😊

It's time to squeeze in one more novel WIP before the year is over. Time to join a bunch of people from all over the world as we string words together until we reach the goal of 50,000 words. Or reach the end of what will (hopefully) become a first draft. Yay!

This year, the 1st of November didn't hit until Thursday, so I spent the first half of the week taking notes and getting a feel for the story. And was (pleasantly) surprised when I managed to map skeleton notes for the whole book. What? 😳

Usually, as long as I have the first three-five chapters figured out before starting, I'm cool. But this story just came together better than I expected.

So, here's my first word count update:
  • Thursday: 5,626w
  • Friday: 10,136w (added 4510w)

I was aiming for 6,000 words by the end of the week, but this is even better. That's four chapters almost written. I say almost because I stopped in the middle of Chapter 4 on purpose.

The tentative title for this book is Madness, and is a psychological YA horror story about a girl who's life is turned upside down by the monsters living in her new house. The challenge with this WIP is two alternating POVs that connect the past & present to reveal the horrifying events.

I'm actually enjoying this new challenge, and how well it helps the story reveal itself. I love dropping breadcrumbs along the way, as well as fairy tale references.

Looking forward to adding more words. Plus I love how the story is already dropping hints I didn't initially add to the chapter notes. I knew this would happen!

You know what else happened this week? We enjoyed Halloween, and even went to watch the movie on Saturday. It was SO GOOD! An honest and fun sequel with plenty of nods at the original, and unexpected angles. Loved it!

Oh, and our daughter finished her HSC exams. That means she's graduated high school, has completed her HSC and will now take a breather. As well as take extra shifts at work, and read. Not to mention play games, as well as just breathe without having a new assignment or test to prepare for. Congrats to her!

Well, that's it for this week. As usual, I'll be taking the weekend off so I can spend time with hubby.

Have an awesome one! πŸ˜€

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

BELIEVE ME by J.P. Delaney

Claire Wright likes to play other people. 

A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands. 

When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she's being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she's ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she's being told? 

And that's when Claire realises she's playing the deadliest role of her life .


I really enjoyed THE GIRL BEFORE, so I was looking forward to reading this author's next book.

Claire is an aspiring British actress whose unprofessional behaviour led to her burning all her bridges in the UK. So she moved to New York for a second chance.

Now she's a drama student by day and works for a lawyer firm at night. She doesn't have a green card so her work options are limited, and as low as entrapping married men can be, at least she's earning some money to pay the rent.

When her latest target's wife turns up dead in a hotel room, Claire's world gets turned upside down. The police suspect the husband, and recruit Claire to play the most dangerous role of her life. But when she immerses herself in so many lies, how will she be able to recognise the truth?

This book is incredible. On so many levels. 

One of my favourite things was whenever Claire's POV switched to script format. Not only did it highlight how easily she slipped from real life to pretend, but it amped up the intrigue and heightened the tension.

Claire was such an unreliable narrator. A liar. A con artist. Someone willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. And she's totally obsessed with acting. So much that for her, it's not so much a profession but a way of life.

There were so many reasons to dislike her, but I didn't. Of course I didn't trust her, doubted her every motivation, and even questioned her sanity. But I never disliked her. Never wanted to abandon her story, and desperately needed to follow her to the end.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the use of poetry to base so much of the depravity in the book. As well as the sick individuals so desperate to keep the poet's words alive. “Les Fleurs du Mal” by Charles Baudelaire sure sounds twisted.

Believe Me is an intoxicating, twisty psychological thriller about a bunch of characters who build their lives on lies. Lies to catch criminals, lies to stay in character, lies to hide childhood pain, and lies to justify their shocking actions. But you know what? This made for some riveting reading. The kind that kept me glued to the pages until I got lost in what was happening and questioned my assumptions every step of the way.

There were so many times when I wondered: what the hell is going on? Other times where I caught the shift, and marvelled at how clever the story was. Wow. And the intricate web of lies is only strengthened by the awesome writing, as well as the astonishing conclusion.

I'll definitely be reading more/all the books written by this author.



Believe Me, July 2018, ISBN 9781787472419, Quercus

Friday, 26 October 2018

I signed up!

Yep. I finally did it! I signed up.

Today is Friday, and after spending the beginning of the week picking out a handful of possible ideas, as well as letting the loudest fill my mind... I'm excited about my pick.

The novel I'll be working on during NaNoWriMo 2018 will be a YA psychological horror. This is the description I posted on the website:

Just a dark YA psychological horror about a girl with too many monsters in her life.

It's vague, but that's usually how I tackle descriptions of my WIPs. πŸ˜€πŸ‘

It's funny to think that this time last week all I knew was that I was going to do NaNoWriMo again this year. And now, after spending some time going through my Idea Files--and puzzling over the suitable ones in my Moleskine--I've got pages full of notes about the story. Snippets of dialogue keep popping up, freaky imagery is creeping into my mind, and the character/s is getting really loud.

Love it when I start getting this excited about the story. Love that I have a folder full of inspirational pics and keep adding more. Love when my head fills up with characters and locations but I have to force myself to wait.

I mean, NaNoWriMo doesn't start until next Thursday. So I've got a weekend I'm going to enjoy--we're going to watch the new HALLOWEEN movie, so I can't wait--and three days of NaNoPrep left.

That's not bad because it means I can keep taking notes, keep daydreaming about the story, sort through the sequence and figure out how it's all going to begin. If I keep doing this, by the time I sit down and start typing, the words will be ready to burst out of me on the 1st. LOL.

Well, hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

THE GIRL FROM THE OTHER SIDE, Volume 1 by Nagabe

The Girl from the Other Side: SiΓΊil, A RΓΊn, Volume 1 (The Girl from the Other Side, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a manga my daughter read last week and recommended I read because she thought I might enjoy it. Well, she was right.

Teacher and Shiva live on the Outside. That's where the cursed beasts live. The humans live on the Inside and fear the beasts because they believe they will infect them. But this isn't their story. This is the story of an adorable, innocent child and the beast who's taking care of her.

I loved the art in this book! Usually, I lose interest in black and white illustrated works, but this one was beautiful. Everything about the way this looks adds to the bleak atmosphere of this dark tale. The drawings are so pretty. Shiva is adorable, and although Teacher is supposed to be a scary monster, he looked like a polite gentleman.

The connection between these two characters is so cute. Even though they can't touch, he's still determined to take care of her. And that's a full-time job because that little girl is super cheeky.

This story touches on a lot of dark stuff--discrimination, abandonment, secrets--but it's full of heart. And THAT was my favourite thing about it. How these two characters should have no reason to get along but are actually a tight family.

Oh, and I especially liked how the story starts in the middle of everything, revealing bits and pieces. Enough to get a pretty solid idea of what's going on without being told.

Great story!


Wednesday, 24 October 2018

PROVIDENCE by Caroline Kepnes

ProvidenceProvidence by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my first Caroline Kepnes book, and it won't be my last. Luckily, I already have You and Hidden Bodies on my bookshelf.

Wow. Where do I start with this story?

Jon is a strange boy because he likes stuff and doesn't hide it. He cares too much, he's kind, and only has eyes for Chloe. His only friend. Chloe likes hanging out with Jon. She loves his peculiar ways even though she also hates that he doesn't hide them, because it makes him a target. Carrig is a bully. He likes to make life hell for Jon, and wants Chloe.

All of these factors culminate in Jon being taken. He vanishes because he took the woods-way to school to avoid being bullied. During his absence, Chloe becomes obsessed with finding him and instead finds art. She also gets on with her life and becomes a real teenage girl for a while.

Until Jon reappears four years later. But things aren't the same. Jon makes people queasy, makes them pass out, and then he does more than that...

Providence is a hard book to describe or summarise beyond this point. It's just so unique and weird--in the best possible way. It can't be defined by one genre, either. It's a heartbreaking love story. It's got a good dose of pseudo-SF elements. It's a mystery. A suspense that sucked me in right away. But mostly, it's an addictive book that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until you get to the last page.

I enjoyed every amazing moment!

The story is told in the POVs of Jon and Chloe, as well as a cop. Jon's desperate fight to remember what happened while he was gone, why someone would change him, and how to get back to Chloe dominates his story. Chloe is trying to find her lost friend, and in the process becomes a successful artist. She also realises that somewhere along the way she's fallen in love with a man who can't be reached.

Then there's Eggs. He's a cop going through some serious health problems. He has a great marriage, loves the woman he married, but when he gets sucked into the random heart attack deaths of so many young people, he risks it all. Oh, and there's also the problem with their child, which he (unfortunately) chooses to ignore and lets his wife deal with alone.

Their love story is everything the other couple will never be.

Yeah, this book is full of sad stuff. There's plenty of heartbreak. Even Jon's parents suffer immensely because he has no other choice but to hide away from the world. He's dangerous and suffers so much because of something some cruel asshole did. *cries*

Seriously, this is a book that no review can ever do justice. It's not just something you read, it's an actual experience and I strongly recommend everyone reads it. All the hype is real, everyone who loves it is right.

The last thing I'll say is how much I loved all of the ideas packed into this story, and the way the excellent writing style carries them through.


Monday, 22 October 2018

SAGA, Vol.9 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Vol. 9
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

O.M.F.G.

Did I seriously just read that? This is how they're leaving the story before their one year hiatus? *cries*

Okay. I'm not going to get into the actual story because there's really no way to talk about this volume without spoilers. And I refuse to spoil any of the devastation packed into this horrible, horrible volume. I mean that in the best way possible, of course.

I love how this series isn't afraid to tackle anything. It crosses so many lines. Mixes so many genres. Doesn't shy away from erotic content. And the dialogue gets right to the point. Love it.

Oh, and I have to mention the artwork because it's STUNNING. No matter what it's dealing with--romance, violence, sex, emotion, drama, reveals, shocks--the illustrations are gorgeous. The colours are vibrant. Coupled with the interesting characters and addictive storyline, it just keeps me coming back.

Now that I'm up to date, I'm going to let all of this sink in. Or maybe I'll try to forget it because I'm still in shock.

Either way, like I said: I LOVE this comic book series!


NaNoWriMo is around the corner!

Hey! How are you today? I'm good, though I was better last week when hubby was still on annual leave, and we slept in and had an awesome relaxing time.

Now, it's time to get back into the swing of things. And this month, that means thinking about my next writing project.

As you probably already know, because I posted a lengthy post about it last year, I enjoy taking part in NaNoWriMo. And this year will be no different.

Sure, at the moment I have no idea which of my (many) projects I'll be tackling, but that's what I plan to do for the rest of October. I'm going to go through my Idea Files, pick the three loudest ones, and then take it from there.

It worked when my head was cluttered with ideas a few months ago. It's how I ended up picking Monsters, and then spent September caught up in a fun whirlwind of myth and horror. 😁

So, fingers crossed it works again because I gotta squeeze in some NaNoPrep.

Since I mentioned my interest in taking part--and I added another one to the list--I'm going to post a breakdown of my NaNoWriMo history: 
  • 2006: UF (Angie) 
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey) 
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue) 
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful) 
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight) 
  • 2011: N/A 
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows) 
  • 2013: SFR (Dash) 
  • 2014: UF (Willow) 
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape) 
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted)
  • 2017: YA SF Thriller (Cosmic Girl)

I can't believe this will be my 12th time taking part. It's always so exciting because writing another first draft before the end of the year is very appealing.

Of course, that also means adding more projects to my growing pile of WIPs To Revise, but that's not something I'm going to complain about. And it's a matter to tackle another time. πŸ˜πŸ‘

What I really need to concentrate on right now is deciding which story needs to be told RIGHT NOW. I might not have settled on the story I want to work on yet, but I've got several possibilities already in mind. 

It's just a matter of deciding whether I want to work on an adult or YA novel. Am I going back to demons? Or reigniting my love for ghosts? Will I continue to delve into horror? Or maybe I want to tackle that crazy 80s SF idea that's been circling my mind for a while...

Not sure yet.

I'll see how my planning/thinking goes this week. Either way, I'll be sure to keep you posted. As soon as I choose, I'll post about it here, and will be sure to register on the NaNoWriMo website. I won't do THAT until I've made my decision. 

There's so much to think about...

So, will you be taking part this year?


Sunday, 21 October 2018

SAGA, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Vol. 8 (Saga, #8)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally got my hands on Volume 8 & 9, so today I decided to get stuck into this one. And yikes! Vaughan & Staples don't shy away from difficult, serious issues. And they do it in the most imaginative, colourful, humorous and violent way.

It was so good to catch up with all of the characters and meet a bunch of new ones. What Alana, Marko and Hazel are going through is heartbreaking. Not only did Alana and Marko lose their baby, but because she's still carrying him around she's performing magic, projecting an image of him, and pretty much endangering her life. But the planet they visit can help with all of this, if they can survive it.

It's also sad to see how Hazel has to deal with what her parents are going through. Yet, it's nice to watch her mature.

I love this quirky and totally bizarre story, and this addition didn't disappoint. There's no clear way to label Saga because it's a sci-fi, horror, mysterious, supernatural and erotic tale spanning across a dangerous world and the many beings trying to survive. It's so entertaining, and addictive!

Now I can't wait to see what's going to happen next...


Thursday, 18 October 2018

RITUALS by Kelley Armstrong

Choose a side - before it's too late. The gripping finale to the highly acclaimed Cainsville series. 

Olivia Jones must make a choice. 

Caught between two rival supernatural forces, Liv was granted a brief period in which to make her decision. Now that time has run out. 

Whichever side she chooses, someone she loves will pay. Her lover, Ricky. Gabriel Walsh, the man she knows she cannot, must not love. Her parents, already trapped in prison. 

And now there is a new, terrifying power rising - one that doesn't distinguish between good and evil intentions. It feeds on chaos and destroys without mercy. Unless Liv acts fast, no one will survive. 



After putting it off for WAY too long, this week I decided it was time to get stuck into the last Cainsville book. It was time to finally find out how this series ends.

Liv Jones was born with a different name: Eden Larsen. Although she was raised by wealthy parents and enjoyed a privileged life, her biological parents are both in jail for murder. They're cold-blooded killers involved in ritualistic murders. Except, there was so much more to the story.

Just like there's so much more going on in Liv's life. She recently broke up with her boyfriend, Ricky and is now toeing the line of becoming more than friends with her standoffish yet loyal boss, Gabriel.

If only she didn't have to deal with choosing one side in an ancient supernatural fight. If only the people in Cainsville would answer all of her questions. If only there wasn't a new dark force threatening to tear everything apart...

Wow. This book is definitely awesome.

All through this series, I've loved Liv's voice and struggles. Enjoyed how she slowly accepted the truth about her bloodline's legacy, and who her biological parents were. Liked how she got so close to both Ricky and Gabriel, regardless of the tragedy their endless cycle usually ended in. And the final addition to this series didn't disappoint. It strengthened everything that's been building, intensified the sense of doom bubbling beneath.

Like the four previous books, there was a mystery at the heart of the story. This one happened to be the return of Gabriel's mother. Since Seanna Walsh died years ago, this certainly throws a new problem into the mix, introduces a new lot of questions, and leads to the darkness manipulating and pulling the strings all along.

There are a bunch of twists and turns, heaps of revelations, interesting additions to the fae mythology, expansions to the world, and Liv's love life takes another sexy, unexpected turn that I thought was very cool.

The majority of the book is told through Liv's POV, but the addition of others adds to the overall story. Not to mention that the other POVs help take the worldbuilding even deeper. They also make the jigsaw puzzle come together smoothly, leading to an unexpected--but amazing--conclusion.

Rituals is an intriguing, fast-paced urban fantasy dripping with mythology, and quite a bit of horror. It hooked me instantly, and kept me glued to every page. I got so lost in what was going on that I lost track of time. If it wasn't for the need to sleep, I wouldn't have put the book down. I loved every minute of this genre-busting book, got lost in the ongoing mystery, connected to new and old characters, and didn't want the roller-coaster ride to end.

Liv went through a lot of confusion, self-discovery, physical and emotional pain during this series, but she grew and changed. And most importantly, accepted her place in a world with so many secrets.

This was a great way to end a fantastic series. 


Rituals, July 2018, ISBN 9780751561296, Sphere

Saturday, 13 October 2018

CLOCKWORK CITY by Paul Crilley

Cop. Drunkard. Low-grade magic user. 

My name is Gideon Tau, but most people just call me London. (Because that's where I'm from. Get it? Hilarious.) Three years ago, someone killed my daughter. I sacrificed everything (the human race included) to learn his name - and then had to allow that knowledge to be erased from my mind in order to save the world I'd doomed. Fantastic. 

Now I have to start over from scratch, and who do I have to help me find my daughter's killer? The reanimated corpse of my boss, a low-rent P.I. who's heavily into conspiracy theories, and my alcoholic, foul-mouthed demonic sidekick dog. 

Our journey will take us from Durban, South Africa to London, England, where we'll have to contend with Fae gangs fighting for territory, the murder-suicide of two Delphic agents and the seven deadly sins. 

Oh, and did I mention planning a heist to break into the most secure bank in Faerie? Because that's on the agenda too. And if we fail? An ancient horned god will destroy London. (The city, not me. Although, to be fair, I don't think I'll survive either.


I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and for some bizarre reason had forgotten I had this sitting in my TBR pile. 😬 

This week, I decided it was time to get back into London's strange and dangerous world.

After London--aka Gideon Tau--discovered the name of the one responsible for killing his daughter, he was forced to forget in order to save the world. But what he didn't forget was that his daughter wasn't killed, but taken. And that she's still alive.

So every time he's on a case for the Delphic Division, his need to find Cally is first and foremost on his mind. However, when he ends up going to London (the actual city) he'll have to deal with the Fae gangs ruling the place, solving a murder-suicide, an Oracle, and the Seven Deadly Sins.

But with London under siege by crazies determined to unleash an old god, his team will have to venture into Faerie to perform an impossible heist. One that will either save, or destroy the human world... 

Okay. Like I mentioned above, I enjoyed the first book. A lot. So it pains me to admit that this one disappointed me.

I pretty much loved every minute of the first half of this book because the characters are cool, the magic world is intriguing and the supernatural cases are interesting. But when I got to the heist in Faerie, everything fell apart.

There were too many POVs added, some bits that didn't make sense--the story was all over the place. The more I read about the team's time in Faerie, the less I felt invested in what was happening and even how it would turn out.

There were a few twists and turns I liked, but the fact so much is left up in the air and there's no clear indication if there will be more books in the series, made the ending not so sweet.

Clockwork City is an action-packed urban fantasy book and packs quite a punch. It managed to hook me in from the beginning, dragged me around into the middle because I wanted to see where everything would lead, and even kept me interested past that. It wasn't until the heist section that my interest crumbled.

After that, it was hard to stay invested. It's a shame when that happens, but what can you do? I'm still glad I read this.


Clockwork City, July 2018, ISBN 9781473631670, Hodder Paperbacks

Friday, 12 October 2018

Break Time!

Hey! How's it going?

Asides from the shitty weather we're having in Sydney at the moment, we're enjoying a nice break. A lovely time with hubby. But man, I'm SO ready for the rain to go away. I need some sunshine in my life, because a couple of glimpses during the week is not enough. 🌞

I swear, it feels like we're in the middle of autumn instead of spring. Ugh. At least daylight savings started last weekend, so bring on the longer days. (Sorry vamps.)

Speaking of last weekend... I spent a rainy Sunday proofreading the short story I was working on last week. I even finished, polished and subbed my macabre tale about skulls, love and death. The anthology is a total longshot, but this shortie--3,997 words--fit the theme, so I think it's was worth taking a chance.

It's exciting and scary. Not just because I submitted it to a very cool anthology, but because this is a story I'd had in my head for a few months. And when it all came together in a rush of inspiration, it was very exciting.

Now I'm free to go through my Idea Files and decide what to work on next, because NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. The fact I got a few new ideas this week doesn't help. There are just so many possibilities...

But no writing right now. We're having such a great time sleeping in, relaxing and going on adventures. We've gone into the city several times, have gone on heaps of long walks everywhere, went to several thrift stores, picked up a bunch of bargains, and are just having an awesome time.

We're not about to let a bit of rain ruin our time off together. And we've got another week left. πŸ˜„

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

BROKEN THINGS by Lauren Oliver


It's been five years since Mia and Brynn murdered Summer Marks, their best friend, in the woods. 

Increasingly obsessed with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn and by their fan-fiction imagining of its sequel, the girls were drawn by an undertow of fantasy into the magical world they'd created. But eventually, their delusions turned sick, and the Shadow, Lovelorn's central evil, began to haunt them. 

Or so the story goes. The only thing is: they didn't do it. 

Brynn and Mia have both found different ways to hide from their notoriety, seeking refuge from a world that hates them-a world that will never feel magical, or safe, ever again. 

On the anniversary of Summer's death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as past and present, fiction and reality, begin again to intertwine, Brynn and Mia must confront painful truths they tried for so long to bury-and face the long shadow of memory that has, all this time, been waiting. 


I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this very intriguing book, and was instantly hooked.

Summer died five years ago. Her two friends, Mia and Brynn, plus her boyfriend, Owen, were blamed for the grisly murder. Except, there wasn't enough evidence to convict any of them. The police fumbled the investigation, the small town judged them harshly, but all three went unpunished.

The law might not have punished the trio, but the fallout of what happened that day followed each of the kids like a sticky shadow. Ruined their young lives in different ways. Brynn spends her days in and out of rehab. Mia is dealing with her mother's hoarding by retreating into herself. And Owen has come back to sell the family home tying him to the town and its memories.

The secrets are everywhere, kept by everyone. But the truth, that's a lot harder to find, especially when it's deeply tied to a work of fiction...

Yikes. What a great story! 

This book is so many things--creepy, dramatic, mysterious, intriguing. It's also a very messy and disturbing story about three young friends who love and hate each other in equal amounts. It's a tale of children growing up, of childish games leading into real danger, and the way an unsolved murder puts the lives of the ones who stayed behind on pause.

Told in the alternating first-person POV of Brynn and Mia, the story starts five years after the events that turned one girl into an addict of addiction, and the other into a stuck version of herself. I especially enjoyed how well the Now and Then complemented each other, as well as the Lovelorn excerpts that added to the overall narrative.

I loved how Brynn and Mia's journey, into finding out what really happened to Summer, was ultimately the only way for these friends to break out of the self-imposed prison sentence they each placed on their own lives. Summer wasn't the only one whose life ended five years ago, but by searching for the answers, they hope to reach some level of personal closure.

Broken Things is such a great, twisty book. It's also quite unique, because the story blends the awful events these three girls went through, with the work of fiction dominating their lives. The way reality and fantasy is blended so well they became reflections of each other added a freaky edge to the narrative and inevitable tragedy. 

The outcome was both shocking and unexpected. And there are also some uncomfortable themes, issues and scenes some people might find hard to read.

But my favourite thing of all is how it actually ends, because it mirrors something that keeps coming up in the book. But I can't tell you what, because it would be a total spoiler.

I really enjoyed this!



Broken Things, October 2018, ISBN 9781444786859, Hodder & Stoughton

Friday, 5 October 2018

October is here!

And that means it's Halloween! ALL month. πŸŽƒ

It's also hubby & daughter's birthday month. When hubby will take a 2-week break. Daughter will do her HSC. Halloween the movie comes out. And it's time to start NaNoPrep.

Before I get stuck into that, I need to polish the short story I wrote last weekend.

Okay. Let's back up a bit. As you probably already know, last week I finished writing my latest novel first draft. That usually means I take a few weeks off before I even start thinking about another story. BUT, on Saturday night while sorting through the files on my phone, I stumbled on the beginning of that short story idea I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Before I knew it, I'd written over 1,400 words on my phone's QuickMemo. It was almost midnight, I was tired, but the words wouldn't stop coming. We eventually went to bed, and the next night while hubby watched the footy grand final, I wrote the rest of the story. 

The first draft ended up being 3,519 words.

Monday was a public holiday, so I didn't touch the story. On Tuesday, I added the story to my laptop. Wednesday, I did the second draft. On Thursday, I didn't touch it. And today, I completed the third draft. 

Of course, the word count went up to 3,996.

I've added the story to my Paperwhite and will read it one more time during the weekend. Then I plan to sub it to an open anthology that's a total longshot, but still worth a shot.

I'm so excited about how this melancholy, macabre tale about skulls, creepy houses and love turned out. I wanted to establish a certain vibe, and am very happy with how it turned out.

So, between the fact this story demanded to be told NOW, that there's an antho closing date, and that hubby will be taking annual leave, I squeezed in another writing project. Yay.

Once this is proofread and subbed, THEN I can start thinking about what my next NaNoWriMo project will be. Looking forward to going through the possibilities. 😊

Asides from this dark story taking so much of my time this week, I also DNFd several books. Yeah, my reading experience hasn't been good this week. But I've finally settled on an ARC that's still got me intrigued 90 pages in.

Oh, and I watched the 2-episode Wynonna Earp S3 finale! It was SO full of awesome revelations, action, surprises, one-liners, and all-round badassery. LOVE this show. Heaps. It's so cool how it seamlessly does diversity. Very cool.

Well, that's it for this week. I'm going to enjoy some time off with hubby & daughter, catch up on some reading, keep thinking about my many ideas... I need a bit of a break.

Have a great weekend! πŸ˜ƒ

Friday, 28 September 2018

THE SWITCH HOUSE by Tim Meyer

The Switch House
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that kept popping up on my Twitter and Goodreads timelines. So, when it was reduced, I bought a copy for my Paperwhite.

Last night I picked it up and read it in one sitting.

When Angela and Terry return home after taking part in a reality TV show about switching houses with a stranger, everything about their home and marriage--even their everyday life--feels wrong. Then the nightmares get super weird, and Angela starts questioning her sanity, so she starts going to therapy. In secret.

The relationship between Angela and Terry hasn't been the same since tragedy touched their lives. And just when things seem to be getting back on track, her nightmares become hallucinations... Or are they reality?

Yikes.

This is quite a story.

It's a surreal journey into a nightmarish dreamscape dripping with so much darkness, it didn't take long for me to get as lost and confused as Angela.

My favourite thing about this book is how twisted and non-linear it is. What starts out as some pretty weird shit, soon becomes real-world reality grounded in therapy, before once again dumping us into the creepy, disturbing stuff that makes us lose touch of what's real and what's not.

Not to mention the twisty path. Yeah, did I mention that the twists don't stop coming? That just when you think you know exactly what's going on, it turns out you have no idea. And when the secrets start unravelling, I couldn't believe the depraved direction the book took.

Jesus. This is so screwed up. Messed up.

I have to be honest, when I finished reading this last night I was going to give it a 4-star rating. BUT then today, I couldn't stop thinking about this story. About how it twisted and turned so much that in the end, this book is too good not to get the 5 stars. 😊

I wasn't a fan of the three short stories, but they have no bearing on my rating or opinions because the novel was what I wanted to read.

Yeah. I really enjoyed the darkness and horror of this story. I love reading strange books that feel like living nightmares, and this definitely fit the bill.


Current WIP: Week Four

Welcome to my fourth current WIP update!

This week was a strange and busy one. For starters, this was my daughter's last week of school. Ever. On Thursday, we went to her high school graduation assembly.

Asides from her HSC exams next month, she's pretty much done with school. I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that I have a daughter who will turn 18 in October. 😁

Yikes!

This was also the last week of September. And that was my deadline for getting my WIP completed.

Here's how my w/c turned out:

Monday:  65,739 (added 4210w)
Tuesday:  71,343 (added 5604w) 
Wednesday:  76,327 (added 4984w)
Thursday:  (Daughter graduated HS)
Friday:  77,820w (added 1493w)


There it is! The first draft is now DONE. Yay.

I actually reached The End on Wednesday afternoon. But, because this week's writing sessions were crazed word frenzies, I wanted to go back a bit and add more meat to the bones.

I'm really happy with how this story turned out.

As I've mentioned before, this is an idea that's been swirling around inside my head for months. It deals with one of my favourite Greek mythological monsters, but it takes place today.

Another thing I had fun with was writing this novel in mutiple third-person POV. It had been a while since I'd done that, since my other horror novels were written in first person.

Now I have to sort through my notes and put everything away. Until revision time, of course.

So, what's next? Well, I'd like to rest, read and maybe write a short story. Maybe. Oh, and it's time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo...πŸ’­ But there'll be more thinking than anything else, because hubby's having two weeks off very soon and there'll be no writing then. 😊

Anyway, that's it for now. 

Have a great weekend! Ours is a long one because Monday is a public holiday.

See ya!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

THREE LITTLE LIES by Laura Marshall

There's no such thing as a little lie . . . 

 When Sasha North comes into Ellen's life, Ellen falls under her spell. As Ellen is welcomed into Sasha's family, she doesn't see the darkness that lies beneath their bohemian lifestyle. Not until a brutal attack changes all their lives forever. 

Ten years later, Ellen and Sasha share a flat in London, still bound together by that night. When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. The police won't take her seriously, but the events of the past give Ellen good reason to be frightened. 

What really happened that night? Who is telling the whole truth? These are the questions Ellen must confront when searching for her friend. But someone knows Ellen is looking. And they don't want the answers coming out... 


I really enjoyed Friend Request, so I was excited about reading the latest thriller by this author.

Ellen and Sasha met when they were teenagers, and ten years later they're still friends and living together. 

When Sasha goes missing, Ellen calls the police but because of Sasha's habit of running out when things don't go her way, the authorities aren't in a hurry to investigate.

Determined to find her friend, Ellen decides to take things into her own hands and starts to investigate herself. She reaches out and finds herself falling into the dark memories that started with becoming obsessed with the Monkton family and ended in an awful tragic event that destroyed all of their lives...

Okay. Yikes. This is such a tangled mess of what lies can do when they get out of control.

There was a lot of messed up stuff going on in this story. And it totally hooked me in, kept me reading and dragged me down with the main character. Ellen goes through a lot, but in hindsight, not as much as the real victim of the story.

This is a well-written book and it's certainly compelling. It also deals with some pretty serious issues: teenage drinking, obsession, relationship violence, irresponsible adults, harmful lies, abuse, jealousy and betrayal. The way everything unfolds, revealing how these things affected everyone, is disturbing.

I was totally feeling everything that was going on and enjoyed the pace. Until the revelations started coming. That's when my attitude changed. Not just because the truth infuriated me, but because I just didn't like the end. And the selfish, greedy, manipulative characters are to blame. They were terrible, so frustrating. The whole lot of them!

Oh, and I seriously despised Sasha. She was the worst. So much of the story revolved around her: where she was, what happened to her, was she in danger? I hated her conclusion. I know it was meant to show just what kind of person we were dealing with, but it was the weakest link in the story. And changed my overall opinion of the whole book.

One of my favourite things was the time jumps. Most of the events take place during 2017, but also go back to 2005, 2006 and 2007. By slowly revealing the past through the eyes of several characters, all the events are tied together in a messed up but tidy fashion.

Three Little Lies is an interesting and very suspenseful book. It's interesting, a disturbing slow burner that sucked me in and kept me glued to the page. I couldn't wait to see how the events of the past and present turned out after colliding.

I just wish I'd loved it all the way to the end, but that's mostly because of my own personal disappointment. Still, it takes some seriously cool writing skills to weave such a twisty tale.


Three Little Lies, July 2018, ISBN 9780751568363, Sphere

Friday, 21 September 2018

Current WIP: Week Three

Hello, and welcome to my third current WIP update!

So, how was your week? Did you get much done? Did you meet your goals? Did you have a to-do list full of stuff like I did? I put together a to-do list every Sunday, and cross things off as I go.

It's a great way to keep track of everything. A way to keep a handy record with dates. 

Here's my w/c for this week:
  • Monday: 46,293 (added 3043w) 
  • Tuesday: 50,301 (added 4008w) 
  • Wednesday: 54,473 (added 4172w)
  • Thursday: 58,206 (added 3733)  
  • Friday: 61,529 (added 3323w)

I'm really happy with the progress. Monsters is turning out to be quite the ride. It's dark, emotional, twisted, and infused with mythology.

This is a story that's been swirling inside my head for months. It came to me after seeing a really cool artwork someone shared on Twitter. One picture, one question, and my muse was buzzing. I remember taking a bunch of notes so I wouldn't forget, because I was planning/working on a pretty intensive revision for a different project.

So as soon as I decided this was going to be my next project, and started writing, I got swept up in my original idea. But now, the story's original vision has twisted into so much more.

I'm loving every moment of this first draft, and can't wait to see where it all ends.

Actually, speaking of The End, I have two possible endings in mind. The problem is that I like both. So I wrote them down, and I'll let the story decide which one suits it best.

There's been quite a bit of that in this story.

At the beginning of the week I took notes all the way to the end. But then, when I actually sat down the sequence changed. Some of my notes were irrelevant. I plucked things from here and put them there, and vice versa.

THIS is why I'm not a plotter. It's why I take a bunch of notes, spend hours thinking about the story, and just go with the flow.

I'm not sure how many more words it's going to take to get this done, but I'm excited about the snippets playing inside my head like a movie. 😊

Asides from writing, I read another excellent book this week. We've been walking a lot. Caught up on some washing. And enjoying the fact winter is finally over.

Oh, have you seen the CAPTAIN MARVEL trailer yet? I'm SO ready.

Anyway, that's it for this week.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

THE WEIGHT OF A THOUSAND FEATHERS by Brian Conaghan

'Child experts will tell you that I'm way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?' 

Who is Bobby Seed? 

 He's just your average sixteen-year-old – same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. 

 But then there's the Bobby Seed who's a world away from average. The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum's backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he's stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. 

 That's Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different...



This is a surprise YA book I received from Bloomsbury Australia and didn't know anything about. But as soon as I picked it up, I got swept up in all of the emotion.

Bobby Seed is an average teenager going through the same stuff as other guys. Except, he's not so average. He might be young, but he's not carefree. His mum is sick, so he's a carer. And then, there's his younger brother. And cleaning, washing, dusting. Not to mention homework and tests.

At least he's got a trusty best friend in Bel. She's always there to help. Although, things aren't straightforward with her either, because she might want to be more than friends.

When Bobby starts going to a young carer's peer-group meeting and is introduced to a bunch of kids in similar situations, he realises he's not alone. He gets some well-deserved time away, even if he can't help but feel guilty and misses his mother. 

And then there's Lou. The guy with a vintage Vespa, the guy who stirs some pretty intense reactions in Bobby. Suddenly, everything gets more complicated, but nothing's as bad as his mother's unexpected request...

O.M.G. 

This book was an addiction I picked up earlier this week and couldn't put down. I intended to read the first chapter to get a taste and ended up reading over 50 pages!

Bobby's narrative hooked me into the story right away. His complicated life kept me turning the page. The banter between the characters--especially between Bobby and his mother--was SO good I couldn't help but cackle. 

What I found so amazing about this story is how the writing style dragged me through all the heartbreak, all the hardships until I felt like I was on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. Yet, before I could get too upset, the humour picked me up and made everything so much lighter.

The characters were another thing that I loved. Bobby is such a nice guy, but has his own faults. Bel is a great friend, even if she has her own agenda. Danny is such a sweetheart, and so much smarter than everyone thinks. Lou, well, he was a good dose of good guy, bad guy, and totally messed up guy. A good example of how such a serious experience alters a young life, changes a person forever.

I thought the poems were a nice addition, too.

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers is such a fantastic story about one teenager's journey through the super tough life of a carer. His devotion and determination, and just how he deals with the harsh reality he's been dealt is admirable. What Bobby and his brother face would destroy a weaker person, and that ending is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

I absolutely adored everything about this book. The characters got under my skin, the story led me down a dark path, the very sad consequences affected me deeply, and it made me laugh out loud so many times.

Plus, after finishing the book, I realised just how awesome the title is!



The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, July 2018, ISBN 9781408889121, Bloomsbury YA

 
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