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Monday, 30 April 2018

Another week of Stuff

Hey!

I somehow managed to get a lot done during my daughter's last week of school holidays. Even with a public holiday thrown into the middle of it.

Actually, I wrote a 3,431-word short story on that day. We got the chance to sleep in on Wednesday and while checking my Twitter timeline, I spotted a beautiful pic. A picture that sparked a sentence, followed by another, until I ended up typing several paragraphs on my phone before breakfast.

And throughout the day, while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, I wrote the first draft on my phone. It was just one of those pesky stories that wouldn't let me go until I was done!

Funny thing is that the day before, I got another idea. I started a folder, filled it with pics, notes and setting. But I'm not sure if this one is going to be a short story or novella. Not yet.

This happens a lot while I'm in between projects. There's really no downtime for a writer, just time to let my imagination rest... and that's when sparks happen.

Asides from all this idea stuff, I spent the beginning of the week updating my files, pics & photos. It took forever. I finally completed the third draft of my Woods shortie. Caught up on Siren (which is fast becoming one of my faves), watched first ep of Westworld (still hooked!) & The 100 (WTF is going on?!), plus watched the first season of Pushing Daisies.

Okay. Let's talk about the awesomeness that is Pushing Daisies, because I am SO IN LOVE WITH THIS SHOW. Seriously, from the first episode I knew it was going to be something that I would adore. And I wasn't wrong. This is the quirkiest, most romantic and adorable show EVER. Not to mention the murder mysteries are peculiar, it's full of hilarious banter, and the characters are so real and unique.

Everything about this show is so awwwww and wonderful and makes me gush. πŸ’•

I also read a twisted book that infuriated me and had the most awful ending. But I couldn't stop reading because it was SO well written and intriguing. This happens sometimes. *shrug*

Oh, and we went to watch a little movie called Avengers: Infinity War. An ambitious movie that tore my heart out several times, and is SO fucking EPIC. A totally awesome and super emotional roller-coaster ride that doesn't stop.

That was last week. 

This week I'm going to figure out a few things. I want to write a synopsis, finalise my Woods shortie and update my Projects Plan.

Have a good one!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

HORROR STORY by Carmen Maria Machado

Horror StoryHorror Story by Carmen Maria Machado
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This morning, I spotted a link for this story on my Twitter feed and decided to check it out.

It's not long, just over 1,000 words, but it packs quite a punch.

Essentially, it's the story of a haunted house. About what happens to the couple living there, and how the house is affected by whatever freaky stuff is going on around them...

Like I said, I quite liked this story. The ambiguity about what's going on gives the narrative a surreal quality that kept me glued to the screen until I reached The End. It felt almost nightmarish. The writing is also lovely, the words used--and how they were used--helped paint a creepy story.

One that'll resonate for days.

I'll definitely have to read more stories by this author.



Tuesday, 24 April 2018

THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND by Karen Hamilton

Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him. 

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. 

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain...



I remember reading the blurb for this book and thinking it gave off some serious Fatal Attraction vibes. I'm also a sucker for psychological thrillers, and if there's an unreliable narrator thrown into the mix, I'm probably going to want to read the book.

Juliette--or Elizabeth, sometimes Lily--can't get over her pilot boyfriend dumping her. Their whirlwind romance moved too fast and became too intense for Nate, so he broke her heart. 

When he asked for space, she decided to give Nate some time away... by constantly spying on his social media, sneaking into his apartment, and knowing his complete work schedule. Oh, and let's not forget about her getting a job as a flight attendant with the same airline!

Juliette has a plan to make her future perfect, and Nate is going to be a part of it whether he wants to or not...

OMG. Where do I start with this one? Yikes.

Let's start with how well written this book is. 

The main character is batshit crazy, super delusional, and a huge mess. Yet, she has a way of excusing every horrible thing she does. Everything is always someone else's fault, and all it takes to get to the top of her revenge list is one disinterested look, one wrong word or simply not showering her with the attention she craves.

It's insane! The whole book is bonkers.

The next thing I really liked is her occupation, and how well being a flight attendant and travelling to different locations is portrayed. Procedure, detail and story are all blended perfectly. With the amount of time we share in this lunatic's head, there really were times the narrative could've gotten tiring. But it didn't.

And that's the next thing I'm going to focus on: the fact I despised Juliette and was horrified by her behaviour and disgusted with her selfish actions. YET, I couldn't stop reading. No matter what awful thing was going on, I just had to see what was going to happen next.

The Perfect Girlfriend is a twisted, disturbing and  very addictive book. Once you enter Juliette's unstable world, you can't stop until the very end. In spite of my intense dislike for the narrator and my hope that she would pay for her immature plans, I enjoyed the story.

Actually, my only problem with this thriller is the ending. And that's equal parts personal disappointment--because I wished things would turn out a certain way--and that compared to the rest of the story, it turned out to be a bit meh. I can't lie, I felt a bit cheated.

Still, it takes a certain amount of talent to write a book starring such an odious character SO engrossing.


The Perfect Girlfriend, October 2018, ISBN 9781472244260, Wildfire

Friday, 20 April 2018

What's been going on?

It's been a while since I popped in, right? April is turning out to be quite a busy month.

Between school holidays, a strata meeting (glad it's done for another year), Loki's vaccine & checkup (everything's cool), plus a hundred other real life things, I forgot to post last week.

Not to mention that I went with hubby to work on Friday the 13th, and then we went to do a little cute-stuff shopping in the city. It was a really nice day, and we got an early start to the weekend... so that's always cool.

I also spent several days updating my story files. Because I keep my story ideas on my phone and often find myself adding pics & notes to each folder at night while watching old Seinfeld episodes, the separate files grow so much I eventually have to do a HUGE backup. 

It's SO time consuming and takes a while. Very glad that's done. For now.

Another thing I spent HOURS doing is sorting through my Kindle books. Yeah, not only do I buy a bunch of books, and get quite a few for review, but I also buy a LOT of books for my Paperwhite. And then forget how many cool titles I have!

Not anymore. I went through the countless of books and was surprised to find so many horror and UF books I forgot I owned! Some I was even eyeing. Imagine my surprise when I realised I already owned them. LOL.

It's so cool.

I spent the majority of this week reading (Gerald's Game by Stephen King is awesome & horrific), watching a new show that I'm absolutely loving (Siren is an intriguing fresh & violent take on mermaids), organising our many tees (to make them more accessible & neater), and watched a movie with my daughter (Call Me By Your Name turned out to be a little dull).

My TBR pile also needed some sorting. So I decided to start a few books to see if they grabbed me. I ended up DNFing one (The Memory Chamber) and getting hooked into another (The Perfect Girlfriend).

So much to do, so little time. πŸ˜ƒ

Anyway, that's what I've been doing lately. I have some plans for next week, and am contemplating starting a new draft next month. Maybe... But for now, I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Have a good one!


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

GERALD'S GAME by Stephen King

Gerald's Game My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and although I've read heaps of his books, I have a lot yet to read. So this year I've decided to add a new SK book to my TBR pile every time I finish one.

When Gerald and Jessie Burlingame go to their summer house after the season is over, the married couple start to play the kinky game Gerald enjoys--including handcuffs.

But this time, Jessie isn't into it and even after she tells her husband, he doesn't stop. That's when she strikes out and Gerald ends up dead on the floor, while Jessie is chained to the bedpost.

With the cuff keys too far away and the constant torment of the voices inside her head, Jessie is left to face an awful nightmare that gets worse by the hour...

Wow.

Yikes.

This book is insane! So nerve-racking.

I honestly didn't know what to expect. I mean, I've known about the main plot for ages but didn't expect it to actually turn out the way it did. The twists and turns are unpredictable and totally crazy, plus pretty gory. I won't go into it, but the initial (awful) dog scene was so unexpected, yikes!

The way Stephen King can take one character left alone and tied to a bed for most of the book, and turn it into a suspenseful story that keeps the reader glued to the page, is amazing. Even the way she gets lost in her surreal memories, eventually revealing the horrid event that fucked her up for life is done in such a way that I didn't want to stop.

But this is an emotionally heavy book, and I needed to take breaks. That eclipse scene is SO disturbing and very uncomfortable to read. When added to the rest of Jessie's ordeal, everything totally fits.

This is definitely going to be one of those books that the more I think about, the more I will remember its brilliance. I mean, the frustration of going through her ordeal is so claustrophobic and well written that you start to feel like you're stuck in there with her.

Something else I need to mention is Jessie. She's a very well-written character. Someone who doesn't shy away from her opinions, doesn't take any shit, yet is haunted by her past. And her strength and determination to keep going even when everything gets bleak, really kept me cheering for her.

There's a certain fragmented quality to this story that solidifies as you near The End.

And who the hell can ever listen to the Space Cowboy song without remembering how this book ends? OMFG.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

When the Story is Done...

Last week I mentioned it was time to tackle the final draft of the YA horror novel I planned to finish last month.

Well, yesterday I finally finished. Yay.

The final word count is 78,716.

This story has taken quite a while to complete, but every bit of work was worth it. I'm SO happy with how it's turned out. There was a time when I thought this day would never come because my vision of this book and what was on the page seemed so far away from each other. 

The road to Haunted was a longish one. I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2016. Back when I planned to tell a creepy story about four friends who lived in a peculiar small town with some pretty horrific secrets.

And I did. Kind of.

I wrote a fast draft I was happy with, but put it aside for most of last year. Not just because I like to get a bit of distance from my first drafts, but also because 2017 was all about reconnecting with my love of writing. And that meant (mainly) concentrating on first drafts.

After Samhain Publishing closed and all of my books disappeared, as if they'd never been published, I was a little lost. I took some time off to write short stories, and then lost myself in new novel ideas. I ended up writing 3 novels and even squeezed in the second draft of Haunted.

But after finishing that draft I decided to change several things, including the location. So I needed extra time to take notes, research and brainstorm. By that time the new year ticked over, but I was determined to get it done during the first half of 2018.

Only problem was that after the third draft, the read-thru ended up being just another detailed draft because I did some pretty intense rewriting. And SO MUCH cutting! 

When it was finally time to sit down and read the story ONE last time on my Paperwhite... that's exactly what I did.

This time I read the novel from start to finish and only found minor typos, and other nitty-gritty stuff I changed along the way. I actually reached the end on Friday, but during the weekend started a 2-page list of things to take care of before really calling it done.

And that's what I did yesterday. I finally reached The End. Awesome!!

The story is now finished, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. And after I write the synopsis, I'll be free to move on to some of the other stories hounding my brain.

I can't wait.

But this week I'm going to celebrate THIS by taking a mental break! πŸ˜ƒ

Monday, 9 April 2018

Y: THE LAST MAN, Vol. 1: Unmanned by Brian K Vaughan & Pia Guerra

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned (Y: The Last Man #1) My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read this for ages, and now that I have a 2-in-1 laptop, I finally started this comic book series.

When all the mammals with a Y chromosome die out of the blue, the world is thrown into chaos. All of a sudden, there are corpses everywhere, and the women have lost their marbles. The world's gone crazy--violence is everywhere, there are shortages, the government's in turmoil, and some women are even hunting men.

Too bad the only man (and his monkey) left alive is a whiny loser with a penchant for magic tricks and bravado.

The human race is in trouble, but this guy, a mysterious agent, and a geneticist are on a quest to save it...

I enjoyed this volume, but I have a few problems. Starting with how much I dislike the Y guy because he's annoying af. The Amazons are as sketchy as their motivations. What better way to destroy the patriarchy than to BECOME A NEW VERSION OF IT? O_o As well as the fact that society has fallen because of the tight grip men have on everything... Okay, you know what? The more I write/think about it the more I realise this was probably the point.

I love Saga by Brian K. Vaughn, so I have faith in all of the prickly stuff bothering me balancing itself out.

Besides, I like the cheeky monkey. And I want answers to my many questions. :D

BEFORE YOU WAKE by Adam Nevill

Before You Wake: Three Horrors My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Adam Nevill's other free anthology, I couldn't wait to get stuck into this one...


THE ANGELS OF LONDON:

Well, this turned out to be a dark and disturbing creepy story dipped in a vat of paranoia.

Frank rents a small dingy room above a shitty, derelict bar and pays way too much. Between his crappy security job and the annoying landlord hassling him for money, he wants to escape his life.

But the real collectors don't let anyone leave...

Such a grimy story. While reading it I actually felt the dust and dirt clinging to me. The imagery is pretty dark. I love it when angels are portrayed as the vile and violent creatures they really are. ;)


ALWAYS IN OUR HEARTS:

What a bizarre story! It's a revenge story told through the eyes of the unsuspecting sinner.

Ray is a taxi driver who finds himself going around in circles while dropping people off, and picking new ones up.

Only to find himself back at the beginning...

Such an uncomfortable story. The more I read of this one, the more I disliked the main character. He's obsessed with accidents and is way too pervy for my liking. So I kept waiting for a really bad thing to happen to him, because karma's a monstrous bitch.


HIPPOCAMPUS:

Okay, that was one very descriptive piece of narrative.

There's an empty ship in the ocean filled with unfathomable horrors...

Yep. That's all I'm going to say about this one because it's the best way to describe the experience. This isn't so much a short story, but a collection of details stitched together in the same way that a camera does as it pans out across a location, slowly revealing its many horrid secrets.


This is another great collection. While I personally preferred the three stories in BEFORE YOU SLEEP, the writing in this anthology is so outstanding I couldn't help but be swept away by the imagery the words formed inside my head.

Glad I bought two other anthologies by this author!


Saturday, 7 April 2018

AUTO REWIND by Jason Arnopp

Auto Rewind (A Novelette)
After reading and really enjoying American Hoarder yesterday, thought I'd read this one too.

Stephen Skipp lives with his hard-working mother. He loves Saturday, Christmas and renting VHS movies. He also wants his mum to watch Doctor Who with him. As the awful truth slowly reveals itself, he might get his wish...

Um. Okay. I couldn't connect with this character or his twisted story. The 80s references felt forced, the situation was meh and I didn't find anything about this comical. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it only got worse.

Yeah. I didn't like this one. :/

Friday, 6 April 2018

AMERICAN HOARDER by Jason Arnopp

American Hoarder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this short story on my Paperwhite for a while, and decided to read it today.

During an American Hoarder episode, something goes terribly wrong. And Bill is telling the bizarre story to someone who is very interested...

I really enjoyed this!

The writing style gets the story across so well, and the creepiness keeps the suspense going from start to finish.

I've watched a few hoarder episodes and like all reality TV, there's always a set formula for how the person deals with their clutter and emotional state. And this story certainly dealt with it in a comical, yet horrifying way.

Plus it leads back to Last Days of Jack Sparks, which is an awesome book everyone should read.

Very cool shortie that'll make you think twice about clutter. O.o

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A Nice Break

Hey!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter break. We don't celebrate religious holidays, we just celebrate having long weekends. And this was an awesome one.

We enjoyed the hell out of our four days together by sleeping in, relaxing in the morning, going for a lovely long drive, eating delish meals, going for lots of walks, stopping by the shops, and watching a few shows. I even read an awesome  book. 

But mostly it was a great mental break away from the rest of the world. Sometimes you just need some time away from others, and spending time with hubby is one of my most favourite things to do.

Here's a tweet I posted the other day:


One of the unexpected side effects of having such a lovely time and being so happy is that it opened me up to a lot of inspiration. It helped me think about all the projects and ideas I'm working on at the moment.

I've been researching an exciting new idea I got a few weeks ago and everything's coming together nicely, so I've been taking notes and collecting pics as well. I can't wait to get stuck into it. I also need to (finally) finish my current YA horror WIP because it needs one final read. Plus I have a short story that's almost done... 

I'm excited about all the stuff I'm working on and can't wait to tidy these up so I can get stuck into a new lot of projects.

The first thing I'm tackling is the novel draft. I'm soooooo close to getting this one finalised that I got stuck into it first thing yesterday. And so far, the things I'm finding are small. The most important thing is that I'm actually enjoying the story again. Yay.

Falling in love with my own story usually only happens during the first draft and when I feel like the book is done. So, that's a great sign!

Wish me luck because this is the only thing I'll be reading this week. Then, after I'm done, I can get back to that TBR pile I'm so excited about. πŸ˜ƒ

Have a great week!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

THE WREN HUNT by Mary Watson

The Wren Hunt
Every winter, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. The boys who haunt her are judges, powerful and frightening pursuers, who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur, their sworn enemy, the game would turn deadly. 

 But Wren is on the hunt, too. Sent undercover as an intern to the Harkness Foundation – enemy headquarters – her family's survival rests on finding a secret meant to stay hidden. As the enmity between two ancient magics reaches breaking point, Wren is torn between old loyalties and new lies. And trapped in the most dangerous game of her life. 



This is a YA book I knew nothing about until I received a copy from Bloomsbury Australia. The cover's beautiful and the blurb intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go.

Wren Silke lives in the village of Kilshamble with her grandfather. They might live in the modern world, but her life is shadowed by the ancient ways she inherited. She's an augar, but must keep it a secret from everyone because their magic is fading, and their sworn enemies, the judges, are everywhere.

When she starts an internship at the Harkness Foundation in order to find a map that will help the augars, she finds herself surrounded by the enemy. But there's also a strange pull to the house, and an intriguing guy she can't resist. Plus the secrets contained in the archives make her realise even those closest to her might be hiding things...

Well, I didn't expect to be so drawn into this story. Even though the reader is thrown into the middle of an already-established world, with an ancient history in magic, it didn't take long to get my bearings. 

And most of that was because of Wren's compelling voice and narrative. I loved the writing style, the way Wren tells her story and how her life unfolds and changes as she learns some unexpected truths. All while being haunted by the memory of the mother who left her.

There's a lot to like about this book, but one of my favourite things is how well folklore is woven into a contemporary setting. Wren is a teenager living in today's society, but finds herself constantly in the middle of some very interesting magical traditions, and everything fits seamlessly.

Even Calista Harkness, her boss and face of the judges, runs an arts and heritage charity but everything about her life is steeped in the ancient mythology of their ancestors. Yet, she successfully adapts to the modern world and manages to keep the truth contained.

I also really liked Tarc. He seems like such a problematic character, but at the end of the day he's just like Wren--two kids trying to find their own way while caught in the web of family traditions that made them enemies before they were born.

The Wren Hunt turned out to be a wonderful surprise. An unexpected well-written, atmospheric gem with twists and turns. It also features some of my most favourite things in storytelling: the woods, family secrets, an intriguing mystery, a complicated romance, folklore, and an air of magic.

I really enjoyed this one. It's a keeper!

Thank you, Sonia from Bloomsbury Australia. I might have missed this awesome book if you hadn't sent me a copy


The Wren Hunt, March 2018, ISBN 9781408884935, Bloomsbury Children's

Books Read in March

I can't believe another month is over! Yikes.

Although I got quite a bit of reading done this month, it was a bit sporadic because I spent several weeks working on revision. And that always involves getting so caught up in my own story that I don't have much time for anyone else's.

But once I was done, I caught up. LOL.

Here's my March list:
  1. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
  2. SHE: A Celebration of Renegade Women by Harriet Hall
  3. An Unremarkable Body by Elisa Lodato
  4. The Exorcism of Stevie King by Jim Mullaney
  5. The Story of Tantrum O'Furrily by Cressida Cowell & Mark Nicholas
  6. Fair Extension by Stephen King
  7. A Good Marriage by Stephen King
  8. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
  9. A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss & EG Keller
  10. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  11. Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw
  12. Detective Pikachu: Eeve's Case by The PokΓ©mon Company
  13. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  14. Where Angels Come In by Adam Nevill
  15. The Ancestors by Adam Nevill
  16. Florrie by Adam Nevill
  17. Before You Sleep by Adam Nevill
  18. In the House of the Dead by William Miekle

Novels read: 4
Non-fiction: 1
Novellas read: 3
Short stories read: 6
Picture Books: 2
Anthologies: 2 
Poem collections read: 0
DNF: 0
Finished series: 0



I'm really happy about how many short stories and novellas I managed to read this month. And even happier about not DNFing anything.

Let's hope April is a good reading month too.

Happy reading!

 
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