Tuesday 27 February 2018

FORGOTTEN WOMEN: The Leaders by Zing Tsjeng

The 48 influential and rebellious female leaders that history should never have forgotten.

FORGOTTEN WOMEN is a new series of books that uncover the lost her stories of influential women who have refused over hundreds of years to accept the hand they've been dealt and, as a result, have formed, shaped and changed the course of our futures. From leaders and scientists to artists and writers, the fascinating stories of these women that time forgot are now celebrated, putting their achievements firmly back on the map. 

THE LEADERS weaves together 48 unforgettable portraits of the true pioneers and leaders who made huge yet unacknowledged contributions to history, including Grace O'Malley, the 16th century Irish pirate queen; Sylvia Rivera, who spearheaded the modern transgender rights movement; and Agent 355, the unknown rebel spy who played a pivotal role in the American Revolution. Chapters including Rebels; Warriors; Rulers; Activists and Reformers shine a light on the rebellious women who defied the odds, and the opposition, to change the world around them.

This is another book that caught my eye while checking out one of the many cool Hachette Australia catalogues I'm lucky enough to read. :)

Firstly, I want to mention how beautiful this book is. It's hardback and the cover is absolutely stunning. The pages inside are just as lovely. All the awesome (and some not-so awesome) ladies mentioned in this book are accompanied with beautiful artwork and different font sizes to highlight different facts. Plus the colours are bright and pretty!

The actual information is fascinating. There are so many strong and intelligent women from all the ages mentioned within, and every single one has their own interesting story to tell. Stories of leadership, sheer strength and determination, as well as pioneers so often kept out of the history books.

Oh gosh. I don't want to get started on how much this angers me. For so many years, history has pretended women didn't exist, so it's about time these stories got out and everyone can start reading about them.

Forgotten Women: The Leaders is another excellent book to add to my feminist book collection. It's also a book that I'll refer to many more times, and will no doubt inspire me for years to come.

So grab yourself a copy!

Forgotten Women: The Leaders, March 2018, ISBN 9781844039715, Cassell

Monday 26 February 2018

THE WONDER DOWN UNDER by Dr. Nina Brochmann & Ellen St√łkken Dahl

THE WONDER DOWN UNDER explains everything you ever wanted to know about the vagina but didn't dare ask. Learn the truth about the clitoris' inner life, the menstrual hormone dance and whether the vaginal orgasm really exists. The book helps you understand how different types of contraception work in the body, what a "normal" vulva looks like and how wearing socks can change your sex life. 

Medical students and sex educators Nina Brochmann and Ellen Stokken Dahl draw on their medical expertise to bring vagina enlightenment to the world. Their no-nonsense approach, written with great humour, makes this a must-read for women (and men!) of all ages. 

Say goodbye to the myths and misconceptions surrounding female anatomy, this is a timely and empowering book that will inspire women to make informed choices about their sexual health. 

When I spotted this title in a Hachette Australia catalogue, I was intrigued. So I asked for a review copy, and I'm glad I did.

This isn't just a very informative book featuring a bunch of stuff women are very familiar with, it's also quite funny. The illustrations alone cracked me up so much I had to show my husband. And couldn't stop cackling. 

There's a LOT of information within these pages. Ranging from normalising how important it is to get to know your own body, how to make informed choices about the many contraception options available, sexual health and how the female anatomy changes throughout a woman's life.

There's even a section about gender identity. But as the title states, this  very crafty reference book is about the vagina.

I really enjoyed it, and think that books like these should be shared with both boys and girls in school. There's too much mystery, misconceptions, and false information kept away from each gender. This creates problems, ignorance and distrust. We should be talking openly about our bodies and sex, instead of demonising everything.

But anyway, I could go on about this for ages...

The Wonder Down Under is a very cool book to have in your library because there's just so much packed inside. I'm going to file it with the rest of my feminist reference books.

Grab yourself a copy!

The Wonder Down Under: A User s Guide to the Vagina, February 2018, ISBN 9781473666900, Yellow Kite

Saturday 24 February 2018

Revision: Week Two

Well, another busy week is over. Phew.

I can't believe how fast this month is moving. I mean, I know Feb is a short one but I'm not ready for summer to be over. O.o

Anyway, I had one thing to achieve:
  • Finish the third draft of my YA horror novel, Haunted

And... I reached The End by Monday afternoon. Yay. Then I spent the rest of the week tackling my Add/Tweak List. I also rewrote a chapter that I scrapped last week. I'm SO glad I did because this fits much better with the rest of the story.

There was also heaps of cutting. A lot of cutting. And researching. And updating story notes. I even started a new list with a few things that occurred to me after I was done.

So, the new word count is 81,683.

I'm really excited with how this story is turning out. I still have to read it one more time to fix a few minor details, sharpen some revelations, and make sure the dark and creepy atmosphere comes across just how I envisioned it. There's a certain feel I'm aiming for, and I'm almost there.

Some stories take longer than others to finish, but I don't mind. I want to make this story as good as it can be. Sometimes balancing what you see in your mind and how the output turns out just takes extra attention to detail. But it's worth it.

But now it's time to take a week off. This story is too deep in my brain at the moment. A week away will help me get the proper distance.

This week I also read a highly-anticipated book on my Paperwhite that turned out to be disappointing. :/ And then I DNFd another book I'd been looking forward to.

Not a good reading week, balanced out by a good revision week. :D

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday 21 February 2018


The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us, #1) My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read so many great things about this book that I couldn't wait to read it. And now that I have... I'm completely underwhelmed. I wanted to love this, I honestly did, but there were too many things that bugged me.

No matter how far I got into this book, I just couldn't connect with Cas. A lot of her decisions confused me. The way her defiance towards her captors fades so quickly was also super annoying. But the worst thing: I just didn't buy the romance because I hate the captive falls for their captor trope. Hate it SO much. Especially when the captor keeps screwing the captive over and over.

The Stockholm syndrome in this book was too strong to ignore. I never liked Swift, either. She was arrogant and pushy and that Cas even developed any feelings for her seemed so weird to me. I didn't buy it.

Anyway, let's talk about the story. Pirates, sea monsters and a bunch of take-no-shit kinda girls was a great concept. The idea behind this world really was amazing, and while most of it translated well, there were several details that didn't. A few things just didn't make sense. Maybe they'll be dealt with in the second book, but I'm not sure I'll bother reading it because I was really disappointed with the ending.

And what happened during that final battle really angered me. I couldn't believe what Cas did. :/

The best thing about this book--and the sole reason why I kept reading to the end--was the actual writing. I loved this author's writing style. Her voice is great.

Such a shame I didn't love this story as much as I thought I would.

Sunday 18 February 2018

Revision: Week One

Hey! It's been a while since I posted a writing update. Or any update, really. LOL.

January kinda slipped away before I had a chance to really grasp it. My daughter was on summer break and the new year always takes some getting used to, so I spent most of last month reading, organising my stationery & books, plus trying to plan upcoming projects for the next six months.

I have a lot of first drafts to revise this year, but I also want to squeeze some new writing in. So I'm trying to balance everything in a way that allows me to finish some projects, as well as have fun with new ones.

The first project on the list is my YA horror tentatively titled Haunted. I decided to start with this one because I've already started the revision process.

So, this is what I wanted to do this week:
  • Use my new Acer Switch 5 laptop for the first time (it's awesome!)
  • Reach page 110 of third draft (done!)
  • Read another novella from FULL DARK, NO STARS (DNFd novella Big Driver)
  • Watch WESTWORLD S1 (done!)

By the end of the week I was sitting on page 182/214. Even though the total page and word count has been going up and down all week because I've cut a lot of words--and even a few subplots that didn't add to the story--I also added new words. 

I'm happy about going way over my weekly goal, BUT it doesn't mean I'm anywhere near finished yet. My Add/Tweak List was pretty big before I started and I soon realised there's still quite a bit I'd like to do before calling The End to this draft. 

Not to mention the chapter I deleted because I want to completely rewrite it. O.o

Looking forward to getting back into it after taking the weekend off.

Now, about WESTWORLD. We got sucked into it instantly. I mean, how could we not? It's a futuristic story about the depravity of man set in a wild west park where humans (guests) use and abuse robots (hosts) over and over again. It's one of those stories that makes you realise just how awful people can be and raises a lot of moral and ethical issues. Most of which quickly put you on the side of the synthetic beings.

A LOT happens in these ten episodes, but everything matters. It's all essential to the plot. Yep. Even the oversexualised scenes that at first appear to be typical HBO T&A stuff, but are really another way of showing the greed of man. And just how far he's willing to go when there aren't real consequences.

I LOVED it so much. And because we were SO engrossed in the show, we kept thinking about what was going on and quite a bit of our theories were spot on. I can't get the utterly BRILLIANT depth of character & narrative out of my head. THIS is how you write an intricate plot with engrossing characterisation. 

Yes, I have a lot of thoughts and much respect for this totally addictive show. Bring on the second season!

Well, that was my week. How was yours?

Sunday 11 February 2018


James Patterson presents a genre-bending, action-packed debut -- and introduces YA's new favorite, kick-ass heroine: Serendipity Jones, the fastest sharpshooter in tomorrow's West. 

 Seventeen-year-old Serendipity "Pity" Jones inherited two things from her mother: a pair of six shooters and perfect aim. When her father attempts to marry her off to a stranger, she runs away from their humble farming commune and ends up in the most dangerous, decadent city on the continent: Cessation (a lawless Las Vegas). Pity becomes the star of the Theater Vespertine as a trick sharpshooter like Annie Oakley, and there she finds fame, friendship and--what she most wanted--belonging. 

 But there's a darker side to the Theater...The Finale. Every so often the fighting factions of Cessation have to be kept in line with a little demonstration, a nightmarish public execution. And Pity has a starring role... 

This is another book I found out about during last year's Date a Book YA Blogger Night at Hachette HQ. So when I received a copy, I was very excited and couldn't wait to get started. 

Serendipity Jones prefers to be called Pity, and lives in a farming commune with her strict father and two brothers. When her father announces he's arranged to ship her off to another commune to marry a stranger, she decides to get the hell out of there. 

Pity packs her mother's beloved revolvers, some essential supplies and escapes with her best friend. But the world is a very dangerous place and nothing goes according to plan. 

Before she knows it, Pity's in the most dangerous city in the world. Not only does she become a performer in the Theatre Vespertine, but catches the eye of the woman in charge and gets caught in the middle of a conspiracy. But being surrounded by new friends and having found a real place in the world won't stop danger from creeping around the corner and threatening everything... 

Wow. This book really delivered. 

I have to admit that I was SO looking forward to reading this story I was a little scared to get started. O.o But I didn't need to worry because I was hooked instantly! 

Pity's story might be told in third person POV, but the intimacy between character and reader is maintained by how well it's written. Not to mention the worldbuilding is exciting and new, and manages to mix a bunch of genres together to weave an intricate and wonderful story. 

The characters are awesome and plenty. They're colourful in a very Vegas way. All of them have complicated pasts as well as private secrets and sharp survival instincts to keep them alive. Everything just fit so well, and the dark city of Cessation was the perfect setting. 

Another of my favourite things about this book was how unpredictable and unexpected everything turned out to be. It started out like a solid western, and soon became a futuristic, before turning into a carnival-esque tale and then twisting everything around to become a suspenseful political conspiracy. 

Just when I got comfy with where Pity's story was leading, a new surprise struck. This kept happening throughout the whole book, which is totally cool.  

Gunslinger Girl is a fantastic genre-bending novel full of intrigue, surprises that'll keep you on the edge of your seat, and a cool heroine that'll have you cheering for her all the way to The End. Not to mention that the dystopian, dangerous world she lives in will take your breath away, eat away at your nerves, and leave you wanting more! 

If that doesn't, then the love story will. ;) 

Also, I have to mention how pretty the cover is, and that the hardback edition is beautiful. So lovely. 

I loved this. Heaps.

Gunslinger Girl, February 2018, ISBN 9780316555104, Little Brown & Co.

Friday 2 February 2018

THE POOL HOUSE by Tasmina Perry

A Summer To Die For 
To Jem Chapman, it's the chance of a lifetime. An invitation to join a group in an exclusive Hamptons house-share, who could say no? But when she discovers what happened last summer, Jem can't help but feel a chill. 

 A young woman was found drowned in the house's pool. The housemates said Alice was troubled. She'd been drinking. She couldn't swim... 

 A Secret To Kill For 
As Jem gets to know her glamorous new housemates, she realises each has something to hide. What really happened last summer? And who would go to any lengths to keep a person quiet? 

I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia last year. I didn't know anything about it and had never read anything by this author, but the mysterious blurb caught my attention so I added it to my TBR pile. 

After reading several disappointing YA books this week, I wanted a change of pace. To give something totally different a go, so I picked this up. And I'm excited to say that I was instantly hooked.

Jem and Nat Chapman are a young married couple from London, now living in New York City. Nat's career took them across the world and he's earning quite a bit of money, but Jem hasn't found a job yet. She feels lonely most of the time because she hasn't made any friends and her husband is always busy attending work parties.

So when they get the opportunity to rent a beach house in the Hamptons with several other wealthy couples, Nat convinces Jem it'll be good for them. Jem is worried about the cost, but the prospect of meeting new people and spending time on the beach is enough to make her agree.

Now they're surrounded by ambitious professionals who are full of ideas for Jem, the new friendships she craves, and beautiful scenery during the weekends. Even more exciting is when she meets a well-known author and he piques her curiosity about the woman who died last summer, in the house she's enjoying so much.

What was labelled an accidental drowning might have been something else, but investigating could alienate her from this new lavish lifestyle...

Yikes. This book turned out to be totally addictive. From the moment I started, I had trouble putting it down. 

Not only is Jem's POV super interesting, but it was a nice surprise to find Alice's POV interwoven into the main story. The This Summer and Last Summer sections complemented each other so well, they both slowly revealed the mystery at the heart of the story at the perfect pace.

There were a LOT of things that make this book so interesting. The way NYC always seems claustrophobic, hot, rainy and crowded. The way the Hamptons comes across as expansive, relaxing, warm and lavish. The portrayal of the secrets rich couples try so hard to conceal from others, and even each other. How each character shows how easily it is to lose themselves to the many illusions money can so easily buy.

Wow. Just wow. So many screwed-up situations are featured in this story, but the way everything was presented captivates the reader all the way through.

I also have to mention that although this is a long and meaty book, it never once got boring. This author knows how to use every single word to tell an intriguing and somewhat messed-up story. 

Oh, and I loved the chemistry between Jem and Michael. :)

The Pool House is a book that totally surprised me. It's a drama about sex, lies and secrets, with a twist of suspense so thick I wanted to keep turning the pages because I was drowning in everything that was developing. It's also an amazing mystery that presents a lot of breadcrumbs leading to so many suspects you're left wondering who it could possibly be. 

And the best thing? Reaching The End is SO worth it. Everything makes perfect sense, and reveals the strength of a woman pushed to her limits as she attempts to get justice for someone she never met at the expense of her own life.

Loved it!

The Pool House, September 2017, ISBN 9781472208514, Headline
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