Friday 31 August 2018

Busy Thinking...

And thinking some more.

This week might have been a super busy one, but it was very productive.

Not only did I read two awesome books, DNFd two boring ones, picked up a bunch of bargain Star Wars clothes from the Bonds factory outlet, found some great books at a secondhand store, went to the city to pick up a few goodies, continued our daily walks, and caught up on the washing... but I also squeezed in a lot of thinking time with my WIP.

Phew. That's a lot of stuff! No wonder I feel tired, LOL.

The awesome thing about the time I spent thinking about my WIP is that I also took many research + character notes, did a heap of brainstorming, and have even visualised the beginning of the story. 

Well, I have notes for the first four chapters so far.

As you probably already know, I'm mostly a pantser, but I need to have a strong sense of direction and many, MANY notes. It's also a great thing when snippets of story, dialogue and random bits & pieces start popping into my head. I'm even waking up with story stuff ready to write down.

I'm at that stage where I'm itching to get started. When I can feel the story dropping fragments into my subconcious so I can weave it all together. 

For months now, my head's been so cluttered I haven't been able to focus on just one story. So this feels SO good.

Monday is the day! I'm so excited.

Also, how good is it that winter is almost over? I'm really over this shitty weather, especially since this week's been so cold. It's time for this shitty season to release its grip and allow spring to take over. 😀

Anyway. That's about it for now. I'm going to enjoy a nice weekend with hubby. 

Have a great one!

Thursday 30 August 2018

SHUTTER by Courtney Alameda

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This book is amazing. Seriously amazing.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to read it, but I'm glad I grabbed my Kobo the other day and finally got stuck into it.

Micheline Helsing is a direct descendant of Van Helsing. She's a tetrachromat, and captures spirits with her trusty camera. She's also part of a young crew and is always willing to take on any threat. And that's exactly how they all end up getting infected by a soulchain.

Now they're in a race against time to break the curse before it totally engulfs them. Unfortunately, the soulchain isn't the only thing she needs to worry about...

Most of this book read like an action-packed movie. It moves quickly, the worldbuilding is awesome, the problems are both otherworldly and real. And the horror doesn't hold back. It's just a great story that kept me glued to every single page.

I also thought the San Francisco setting was really fitting. And the characters are just SO good. Plus the Aussie character was so genuine. I mean, I liked Ryder for who he was and what he did, but the Aussie stuff was spot-on.

I'm so glad I finally read this fantastic and clever book!

Monday 27 August 2018


One year ago, Kitty's boyfriend Nikki Bramley visited a psychic who told him he had no future. Now, he's dead. With the Bramleys grieving inside their rural English home, Kitty sets out to find the psychic who read Nikki his fate. 

Instead she finds Roan, an enigmatic medium claiming he can speak to the dead. He belongs to the Life and Death Parade - a group that explore the thin veil between this world and the next. 

Kitty is convinced he's a charlatan - but the 'magic' seems to work. The darkness is lifting. 

But there are things Kitty can't ignore - evidence of strange rituals, shadows of the boy she lost, and Kitty begins to suspect that this boy had something to do with Nikki's death. More, that he may have the very real power to bring him back... 

A few years ago I read In the Dark, In the Woods and loved it so much that when I found out Eliza Wass had a new book available, I was definitely interested in checking it out. 

Plus, the cover is super cool.

Kitty lives in a big castle with the Bramley family, but she's not related to them. And since Nikki died, she pretty much haunts the corridors of the old place.

It's not until she decides to track down the psychic who told the boy she loved he didn't have a future, that she discovers something worth focusing on. Or rather, someone.

Roan is mysterious and strange, but he's charming and introduces Kitty to the magic of the Life and Death Parade. She might not believe in his supposed skill, but he does liven up the place and awakens a family that's slowly withering away.

But what is Roan's real purpose? And how is Kitty connected to everything? If she doesn't start believing in something soon, she might lose herself in the process... 

Wow. This book is SO engrossing. As soon as I started, I got caught up in the shadowy air of mystery following the story from beginning to twisty end.

There are a LOT of things to like about this book, and Kitty's voice is the biggest reason. She doesn't shy away from the ugly, doesn't pretend she hasn't lost her way and has pretty much given up on everything. But is always there for those who need her.

The sense of location is so vivid. I could see the vast castle in my mind, imagined how easily it was for each member of the family to retreat to their own dark corners and continue on with their empty lives.

As for the Life and Death Parade, it's intriguing and lively and so full of death symbology. But it wasn't creepy. I saw it more like a celebration, and enjoyed spending time there. And we got to meet Joy! If there's one thing I wish there was more of, it's Joy because she's delightful.

The poems at the beginning--written by the author's late husband--of each part helped set the sombre mood.

The Life and Death Parade is such a beautiful haunting tale about grief, secrets and forgetting how to live after a personal tragedy. It's full of shadowed memories, painful thoughts, and is told through the eyes of a young girl who's lost a lot, and blames herself for what the boy she cared about most did.

I really loved this, and will continue to look out for more books written by this author.

The Life and Death Parade, July 2018, ISBN 9781784295271, Quercus Children's Books

Another Week Goes By...

Well, politics is super crappy all over the world right now, but I'm trying to concentrate on other stuff.

So I spent much of last week updating files & pics, reading & reviewing. As well as daydreaming about my next WIP.

Actually, I've done a bit more than that! 

Not only have I FINALLY decided which idea will become my next WIP, but I also started taking notes. When THAT happens, I'm well on my way to getting started. And the best thing is that asides from all the notes I've taken, I also started having dreams about it. Not to mention snippets hounding my brain. As well as actual plot points solidifying when I least expect it.

Yeah, when this happens the excitement begins to build and my fingers start itching to get started. But I'm not quite ready yet. 

I'm going to spend this week adding to my notes, researching, and visualising the start of the story. I already have it in my head, but need a bit more time to get all these crazy thoughts in order.

Which is great, because I'm planning to start the first draft at the beginning of the month. And that's only a week away.

So, like I said, I'm going to push all the batshit crazy stuff to the side so I can get story planning. Oh, and reading. There will always be reading.

Have a great week! ☺

Saturday 25 August 2018

THE BAD NEIGHBOUR by David Tallerman

When part-time teacher Ollie Clay panic-buys a rundown house in the outskirts of Leeds, he soon recognises his mistake. His new neighbor is an antisocial thug, with links to a local hate group. Or does he?

My Flame Tree Press ARC reading continues with this crime/thriller. I didn't know what to expect and found the cover disturbing enough, so I got stuck into it.

Ollie Clay is a part-time teacher. When he comes into some unexpected money, he decides to buy a house because he's sick of paying rent. The problem is that most of the houses in his price range aren't that great and not in good locations. 

Throwing caution to the wind, he decides to buy one he manages to score for a good deal. The house is in pretty shabby condition, but what's worse is the awful neighbour and the people who hang around his house.

It doesn't take long for Ollie's life to become a living hell...

Okay. This book was... Let's just say that I couldn't get into it. I'm usually totally into thrillers, but this one just didn't hook me in. The characters weren't interesting, the situation frustrating, and the pacing is slow.

I just didn't get into it.

Ollie is such an annoying character. And I have to be honest, I didn't even understand the premise. If the guy can't afford a house worth living in, why settle for such a dive? Yeah, I didn't really like him much. 

As for how the story develops, I couldn't warm to anything that was going on, and even the 'twist' didn't work for me. And the ending didn't make it worthwhile, either.

The Bad Neighbour is a crime thriller about one man's ordeal after he moves next door to a bad seed that brings out the worst out of him. It's a dark study into the worst parts of society that is quite disturbing.

I really wanted to like this book, and tried really hard to get into it, but the story didn't work for me.

  The Bad Neighbour is one of the books that will be released from Flame Tree Press in September.

Friday 24 August 2018

FORGOTTEN WOMEN: The Artists by Zing Tsjeng

The 48 talented and influential female artists that history should never have forgotten. 

 FORGOTTEN WOMEN is a new series of books that uncover the lost herstories 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.

As I mentioned in my previous post, earlier this year I reviewed the first two books in this wonderful and empowering series: The Leaders and The Scientists.

They were both so nice and full of interesting lives, that I just HAD to check out the latest additions.

Just like the others, the first thing that stands out about this book is how pretty the pages are. The words within are as colourful as the illustrations, but nothing shines brighter than the actual lives and talents of so many gifted, yet forgotten, women.

I'm not very good at art, but I've always been interested in many different artistic styles and find a LOT of inspiration in artwork. So discovering so many women I didn't know about, as well as their varied styles, is something I've really enjoyed doing.

Forgotten Women: The Artists is as informative as the previous books, and stunning in its presentation. Ranging from abstract, to performance, craft, photography and design, this edition covers a broad range of artistic flair and the women who create it.

This series deserves a place on my keeper shelf, but more importantly, they're history books that everyone should read!

Forgotten Women: The Artists, September 2018, ISBN 9781788400176, Cassell

FORGOTTEN WOMEN: The Writers by Zing Tsjeng

Putting 48 pioneering and innovative female writers firmly back on the modern map. The women who shaped and were erased from our history. 

FORGOTTEN WOMEN is a new series of books that uncover the lost herstories 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.

Earlier this year I reviewed the first two books in this wonderful and empowering series--The Leaders and The Scientists--so, of course I was interested in checking out the next two.

The first thing I have to mention is that this hardback edition is beautiful. The pages inside are thick and colourful, rich with information about each writer's life and achievements. As well as accompanied by lovely illustrations. 

The design of this book is simply stunning.

I'm a writer myself, and a huge reader, so I was surprised to find that I hadn't heard or read the majority of women mentioned within these pages. So it's also a great introduction to a bunch of new potential authors to look forward to.
Forgotten Women: The Writers is both informative and gorgeous. It's a treasure trove of information about important women in history that deserve a lot more attention than they get. Ranging from poets, to novelists, historians and journalists, this book covers a lot of very cool territory.

This is another one I'm very proud to add to my feminist keeper shelf!

Forgotten Women: The Writers, September 2018, ISBN 9781788400183, Cassell

Thursday 23 August 2018


It’s Ray and Sandra’s first holiday on a Greek island. Why do islanders follow them wherever they go? Why do Sandra and the grandchildren have strangely similar dreams? Has Sandra been granted a wish she didn’t know she made? Before their holiday is over, some of the family may learn too much about the secret that keeps the island alive.

This is my fourth Flame Tree Press ARC, and just so happens to be my first Ramsey Campbell book. I know that's a bit weird for someone who loves horror as much as I do, but I kid you not. :)

When Ray and Sandra arrive in Greece ready to enjoy a family holiday, he can't help but be preoccupied with his wife's mood and comfort. And as soon as they arrive on the island of Vasilema things seem a little odd. There are a bunch of traditions the locals adhere to: answering doors after two knocks, mirrors missing from rooms, warnings about staying indoors after dark, and random enigmatic comments.

Things only get stranger when the rest of the family arrive...

Well, this book certainly had an intriguing concept. Coupled with the secrets Ray and Sandra are keeping, as well as the creepy folklore/mythology, I was hooked. At first.

Unfortunately, all my initial excitement and the intrigue that hooked me to the page at the beginning eventually started to slip away. The main reason was how the story developed. Everything starts out great, all the mysterious pieces are slowly revealed and the tension builds. Until it doesn't.

My interest peaked until I hit the middle, because after that I lost interest in the family's vacation. I no longer cared about what was happening on the island.

I really liked Ray, but couldn't help but wonder if I might have liked the story more if we'd glimpsed a bit of the story from Sandra's POV. Everyone else served their purpose, but in the end were quite forgettable. Oh, and there was one truly awful character. Julian was pompous, annoying, cruel and pretty much destroyed every scene he was in.

My favourite thing about this book is the mythology and the location. The island description is vivid, and I got a kick out of the stuff about the mysterious superstitions.

Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach is an interesting story about all the joys of family drama, while other darker things lurk in the shadows of a beautiful island. It also deals with mortality in an intriguing and very peculiar way.

Although I didn't enjoy this ARC as much as the others, it was still a good read.

Tuesday 21 August 2018


Jayce’s twenty-year-old daughter Emory is missing, lost in a dark, dangerous realm called Shadow. An enigmatic woman guides Jayce through this bizarre world, and together they search for Emory, facing deadly dog-eaters, homicidal sex toys, and a monstrous being, the Harvest Man. Can Jayce find Emory, and still keep himself from becoming a monster?

This is the third Flame Tree Press ARC I've read, and it's just as impressive as the first two. I'm loving how awesome and different every horror title has been so far.

Jayce Lewis is a simple man with a complicated past, but right now all he cares about is finding his 20-year-old daughter. Emory is missing and although Jayce's ex doesn't seem very concerned, he decides to print up some flyers and hits the street.

The only problem is that from the moment he steps into CrazyQwik--where Emory worked--his whole life is turned upside down.

His daughter seems to have stumbled into a shadowy world only a select few can actually see. And while searching for her, Jayce starts noticing macabre images and meets a bunch of very peculiar people.

Now that Jayce has opened his eyes to a new and very dangerous reality, he also manages to open his mind wide enough for a bunch of hidden memories to resurface.

Although the danger he's facing is very real, he might turn out to be the biggest threat of them all...

Wow.  What a trip through Shadow!

This book gripped me from the Prologue and refused to let go. I was instantly captivated by Jayce's voice and dragged into Shadow as quickly as he was.

The level of wicked weird in this narrative is totally amazing, off the charts. I'm not squeamish, so I found myself getting caught up in everything that was going on even when it bordered on the odd and uncomfortable.

There are a few gross scenes featuring the missing Emory, the kind of stuff parents should never see or know, but it's all essential to the core of the story and Jayce's final destination.

Told mostly in Jayce's POV, there are several scenes featuring other characters. Plus there are a bunch of flashback chapters that complement the events of the present. They blew me away, especially one of the later ones which reveals a vital piece of the puzzle.

This is such a clever story.

As for the characters, I really liked Jayce. He was such an honest guy with the best of intentions, even though everything goes askew. I also thought Nicola was just the right amount of helpful and mysterious, a pretty good guide. And I was totally intrigued by the Harvest Man. Oh, and the Ohio Pig was hilarious. Creepy, but funny.

The only character I didn't completely warm to was Emory. She just seemed so bratty and distant, which is probably why she got caught up in this mess in the first place.

The Mouth of the Dark is a unique horror story with an intriguing mystery at its core. It's full of wicked imagery, outlandish creatures, depraved desires and vivid situations that have you seeing odd stuff from the corner of your eye.

It's original and isn't shy about delving into weird. It's not afraid to explore the sexually depraved. It's a highly imaginative exploration of self-discovery. And delves into the lengths a father is willing to go to in order to find his child.

Asides from everything else, I had a LOT of fun spending time with this colourful cast of characters and monsters. And the cover is so creepy cool.

It's also a story that will stay with me for a while. I loved every single seedy detail. 😄

I'm enjoying these ARCs so bloody much. I need to read more!

Thursday 16 August 2018

CREATURE by Hunter Shea

The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal. But they are not alone. Something is in the woods.

As I've mentioned before, I was lucky enough to get ARC copies of several Flame Tree Press books coming out next month. This is the second one I've read, and I enjoyed it as much as the first.

I love this cover, btw. The colours, the trees and those eyes all capture so much about the story.

Kate and Andrew Woodson are a married couple who have been through a lot.

Kate suffers from an autoimmune disease that has robbed her of a normal life. She's always at home, mostly bedridden and takes a cocktail of medication that knocks her out for hours at a time. At least she has her trusty companion by her side, a beagle called Buttons.

Andrew isn't just her carer, he's also the one who has no choice but to go to work so they can afford her ongoing treatments. But he's a very angry guy, and his anger has already gotten him into plenty of trouble with strangers. At least he has his running to help fight back some of the simmering rage.

When Andrew has enough after Kate undergoes a particularly hard treatment, he surprises her by renting a house in Maine. They'll get to spend a summer by the lake, and enjoy each other's company without the shadows inside their house or the responsibility of work.

But it doesn't take long for the couple to realise there's something in the woods, and it's not going to let them leave...

Wow. I enjoyed this book so much! As soon as I started, it was easy to get comfortable with Kate's voice. I knew I was going to get hooked. And when Andrew's POV was added, I found it hard to put the ARC down.

There's certainly plenty of gory horror, the unfolding mystery begs to be solved, and the slow-burn suspense kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. But at the very core of everything is the love story between an ill wife who wants to offer her husband so much more than her body lets her, and a husband whose devotion knows no bounds.

This is a beautiful, tragic love story with some pretty horrific consequences.

I absolutely adored Kate, Andrew and Buttons. They made such a loving and wonderful family together. So nice that my heart ached for them way before the horror manifests itself. Their banter was one of my favourite things. I loved how they still poked fun and teased each other regardless of all the pain they constantly faced.

It's always refreshing to read a story about a married couple who truly love each other, no matter the obstacles placed before them. Because there's plenty of things trying to get in the way, so much that should've torn them apart but instead made them stronger.

There's just SO much to love about this book, and one of those things is Hunter Shea's writing style. His POVs were engrossing and different from one another, giving the narrative the multiple angles needed for the reader to get the whole story.

Creature is an amazing story about the strength of the human spirit. It's also about survival. But for me, it's mostly a heartbreaking love story between two passionate people who are forced to face some of the worst betrayals life can provide. Ultimately, it's a tale of true sacrifice that made me teary.

I'm glad I already have a few Shea books on my Paperwhite.

Plus, I'm really into the Flame Tree Press books. Bring on the next ARC! 😉

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Clutter, everywhere!

Yep. That's right.

There's so much clutter. 

And it's not just one thing.

Here's a list of stuff: stacks of books, piles of notebooks, pens all over the place, homeless toys... 

I'm sure you get the picture.

I posted this on Twitter a few weeks ago:

It might not be as bad now as it was when I posted this, but I'm slowly accepting that for someone who reads and writes as much as I do, there's always going to be a certain level of clutter around.

The key is to make sure it's organised clutter. 😁

The real problem I've been having lately is that my clutter situation has extended to my brain. Not only am I surrounded by stuff--all things that I absolutely love--but my head is full too.

Well, scattered more like it.

Whether it's because of school holidays, the excitement of adventures with hubby while he's on annual leave, wanting to read all the books, the unstable cycle of querying, or TOO many possible ideas, I haven't been able to focus on just one project for several months.

It feels like my brain wants to write ALL of the ideas I have at the same time. And it's driving me crazy!

What I really need to do is to sit down with a notebook & pen to brainstorm. If I pick the loudest story ideas and let my mind wander, run away with the many possibilities, I might (just) be able to settle on some sort of sequence.

I mean, with NaNoWriMo closing in, I could zero-in on a few projects. I could enjoy planning several stories at the same time, and THEN figure out what to concentrate on and when.

At this stage, I'm going to HAVE to do something drastic because I'm totally itching to write. 

Yeah, that sounds like the best option/s.

I'll let you know how I go...

Friday 10 August 2018

TEN by Gretchen McNeil

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually, I pick a book to start on Monday and give myself the week to finish it. Sometimes I can fit in two, but as long as I finish one, all is right with my reading world. :)

This week I started with a short story, and then didn't know what to read next. So I randomly chose this one because I've had it on my Kindle TBR pile for ages. Plus I'm always in the mood for a teen slasherfest!

Meg and Minnie are best friends, and they're on their way to a house party with the popular kids. The girls want to have some fun, relax for a bit, and Meg wants to forget about the guy she's fallen for. Which is pretty hard when he's right there on the island.

Henry Island is isolated from the mainland, but the fridge is stocked, the house is heated, and the electricity is on.

At first, everything seems cosy and awesome. But when the group find a strange DVD with a creepy enigmatic message, the vibe in the house starts to change.

The next morning, the weather has changed to dark and threatening, and to make things worse, the body count has dropped by one. If they don't work out what's happening, the same will happen to each one of them...

This turned out to be such an addictive read!

I mean, like I said, I'm a sucker for a slasherfest and everything about this book satisfied that craving. Not to mention the mystery at the core of the story: who is the killer and why? Plus the setting is perfect! An idyllic island becomes a nightmarish location when a storm begins overnight.

Seriously, I could feel the cold and rain bouncing right off the screen! I really should stop reading books that make me even colder in the middle of winter. LOL.

Anyway, back to the story.

Another thing I enjoyed was the teenage drama and how well it was threaded into the whodunnit plot. It was a nice surprise to not have guessed the killer. I picked up on the clues along the way, but didn't fully connect it. I love that!

The characters were good too. Some we only meet for a while, but that played in perfectly with the confusion and paranoia. I especially liked Meg and TJ, and not just because they're the main characters. I just liked them as individuals, and together they made a great team. The romantic complications only strengthened how much I liked this couple.

So, I'm really glad I finally read this book. It's everything I hoped it would be. A bit dramatic, somewhat claustrophobic, dipped in one of my fave horror tropes, provided a cool mystery, and definitely had thriller vibes throughout.

Now I can watch the movie...

Monday 6 August 2018

THE 13TH WARNING by R.L. Stine

The 13th WarningThe 13th Warning by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this up for my Paperwhite the other day and decided to sneak it in this morning, and finished it on one sitting..

Everyone calls Joe Lucky because luck is always on his side. He's also surrounded by the number thirteen. But when two strange old people and a black cat from the Superstition Society come knocking a day before his birthday, and warn him about what will happen if he gets thirteen thirteens by midnight, everything changes...

This was such a fun short story! But it was also creepy as hell, and keeps you on your toes. Poor Lucky goes through a lot on the day he should be the happiest. After all, turning thirteen for someone who loves the number should be an awesome thing.

I liked Lucky's voice. And also liked his sister Lindy, as well as their dog Barker.

Yeah, this was a very creative, fast-paced short story that'll take you by surprise when you reach the end.

And the cover is really cool! :)

Friday 3 August 2018


When David Caine, a celebrated skeptic of the supernatural, is invited by an old friend to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia,” he believes the case will be like any other. But the Alexander House is different, plagued by shadows of the past. And David is haunted too, by the woman he loved, before she took life in sorrow.

I was lucky enough to get an ARC copy of this very awesome book from Flame Tree Press. And since the day I received it, I couldn't wait to get started.

I mean, look at that creepy, lovely cover.

David Caine is a writer. He's also a big skeptic of anything supernatural. He's stayed in some of the most known haunted places, and published books that debunk the ghostly legends.

When an old friend invites him to spend a month in “the most haunted house in Virginia”, he accepts. He's keen to do what he does best. But Alexander House isn't like all the other houses. From the very first night, weird things start to happen, his neighbours aren't the friendliest lot, and when some of the weirdness seems to tie back to his own past, David will find himself in a very strange position...

Wow. This book is certainly something. Something awesome, that is.

I was hooked from the beginning. Not just because I'm a sucker for haunted houses. Not just because I love stories featuring ghosts. But because I got caught up in the intoxicating atmosphere and the building tension. Plus David is one of those characters that really gets under your skin.

Even though the other characters were quick to point out his (many) faults and shitty habits, I found myself liking him more with every chapter. What others seemed to see didn't match the voice telling this super creepy story. David was smart, charming, and cares way too much about others to come across as the selfish person everyone paints him to be.

It soon becomes very obvious that he's not the careless man he used to be. Even choosing to avoid commitment doesn't make him a bad person. It's his choice. 

Yeah, I'm a David fan. :)

I also liked how no matter what he saw and felt, he still tried to convince himself there was another explanation that didn't involve the supernatural. Stubborn skeptic to the end. LOL.

But he's not the only interesting character. I was intrigued by the memory of Anna. Sheriff Harkless was sassy, strong as hell and very likeable. Ralph was a nice old man I didn't trust. Jessica was such a great character, too. She gave David a hard time and had ulterior motives that totally intrigued me. Oh, and Mike Jr. made me laugh.

Don't even get me started on the unsavoury people who inhabit this story. Let's just say that all the good stuff I mentioned above is balanced out by the shittier ones. I mean, I seriously despised the Shelbys.

The Siren and the Spectre is an excellent horror story with a lot of heart. There might be gross and depraved scenes all over the place, but underneath all of the vivid imagery and spooky location, there's a different kind of haunting going on. The kind of haunting that comes with painful memories and forgiveness.

I absolutely loved this suspenseful haunted house story packed with so much more.

After enjoying this one so much, I'm looking forward to checking out the other five ARCs. 😀

Q&A with Kayte Nunn


Today I have a guest on my blog. 

Kayte Nunn is the author of contemporary fiction, and her latest novel also delves into an intriguing historical adventure.

THE BOTANIST'S DAUGHTER is a wonderful mystery story about family, secrets, promises and love. 

The concept for The Botanist's Daughter sounds intriguing, how did the idea develop into a book?

I was walking with my young daughter in the Sydney Botanic Gardens one hot, sultry January afternoon and we came upon the herb garden, where there is a beautiful bronze sundial with carvings of herbs all around it. I put my hand on the warm metal and immediately, as if a bolt of lightning went through me, I had a vision of a young woman in a walled English garden where a similar sundial stood. I walked around the rest of the day in a daze, wondering what this might mean. Over the following months I began to piece her story together.

What made you decide to tell the story in two different POVs during different centuries?

There were a couple of reasons: firstly I love stories that interweave, with their connection only fully known at the end, a mystery from the past is finally solved in the present.

I also love the way tangible objects can really bring history alive. The thought that someone several hundred years ago would have created and used an object that still exists in the present day brings the past to life for me in a way that reading about battles or treaties doesn’t.

I also liked the idea of having two strong female protagonists who would almost have been better suited to each other’s time – one is headstrong and flouts convention, and the other is quieter and more introverted. The book became about courage, and I wanted to depict an obvious, bold act such as a perilous sea voyage to an unknown country, with smaller, but no less valid, actions.

Who came first: Elizabeth or Anna?

Elizabeth – she was the young woman I pictured in the garden, but Anna followed closely behind. However, I chose to write each narrative separately, as I wanted each to be a fully realised story capable of standing on its own.

I love the cover. It's so pretty! Do you feel it represents the story well?

Thank you – I love it too! Yes, I think it tells the reader that it is about a particular flower, and the typeface indicates an earlier era, but the overall effect is still fresh and modern. It looks to me like the kind of book you would love to receive (or give) as a gift.

What's next for your readers?

I am deep in the copyedits for a novel set in the 1950s and the present day, an impossible love story about a forgotten cache of unsent love letters found on a remote British island.

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reading more of your books.


I hope you enjoyed reading the Q&A as much as I did. 

I'd like to thank Kayte for stopping by today and answering all my questions. And a huge thank you goes to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this lovely book. :)

Thanks for reading!


Discovery. Desire. Deception. A wondrously imagined tale of two female botanists, separated by more than a century, in a race to discover a life-saving flower . . . 

In Victorian England, headstrong adventuress Elizabeth takes up her late father's quest for a rare, miraculous plant. She faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family. 

 In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed 'Spring 1886' and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons. 

 In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched nineteenth-century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips . . .

There was something about this blurb that grabbed my attention as soon as I read it. So when Hachette Australia sent me a copy, I got started right away.

Elizabeth lives in Cornwall with her botanist father. Like him, she's very interested in plants and spends a lot of her time drawing and painting them. So when on his deathbed, her father leaves her with a secret mission to locate a botanical wonder, she promises to fulfill it.

To do that, Elizabeth will travel to South America and encounter some of the happiest times of her life. As well as the most dangerous.

Anna recently inherited her grandmother's house, and while renovations are being done the workmen discover a box and sketchbook hidden behind a bookshelf. When she starts delving into the contents, she finds herself enthralled, and wants to solve the mystery of why and who these items belonged to.

To do that, Anna will travel to England and will encounter a lot more than she bargained for...

This is such a great book! As soon as I started, both Anna's and Elizabeth's voices hooked me in. And when I realised they were each headed into their own personal quests, I couldn't stop reading.

Told in the alternating POVs of Elizabeth and Anna, their stories weave around each other perfectly. They might be completely different women living during completely different times, but their sense of adventure is the same.

Elizabeth wants to desperately fulfill the promise she made to her dying father, and goes to great lengths to do it. She's strong, determined, and I loved how she found so many unexpected things during her travels.

Anna is a very lonely woman. She has a gardening business and keeps busy, but a dark event from her past keeps her from pursuing happiness. She's loyal, hardworking and doesn't give herself the chance she deserves. Until a family mystery takes over her every waking moment.

These two characters and stories complement each other in a way that made it very hard to put the book down.

I also really enjoyed how nicely the plant descriptions and botanical terms are naturally written into the narrative. The details help bring an already interesting book to life and enhance the many lush settings.

The Botanist's Daughter is an intriguing story about the strength of women who, for their own reasons, are willing to travel halfway across the world and end up with the same goal. It's also a family mystery that slowly reveals its secrets, just like a blooming flower.

I found myself totally immersed in everything that happened to these characters, and went through so many emotions.

This book was a delightful treat and has found a well-deserved spot on my Keeper Shelf.

The Botanist's Daughter, August 2018, ISBN 9780733639388, Hachette Australia
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