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: 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


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

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