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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Busy Week Writing

Last week I spoke a bit about the story behind my current WIP. And this week I added quite a few new words to my demonic terror. A lot more than I expected, but the story's really speaking to me now. 

So much that the chapter notes I wrote last week no longer matter. They're not relevant. Sometimes, I don't know why I bother. LOL. But that's fine, because the new direction is SO MUCH better. Brutal, even. Some (unexpected) drastic stuff happened to one of the characters. Things I didn't want to inflict because I felt bad, but in the end, these things HAD to happen.

Sometimes, you just gotta put your characters through some heavy stuff. Sometimes, the only way forward is through some dreadful crap.

There's plenty of creepy stuff happening all round. So much that I keep losing myself during each session. Time slips away quickly. In a good way, because when I lose myself to the story like this, it means I'm really feeling it.

Here's this week's word count:
  • Monday:. 24,228 (3,639w)
  • Tuesday:  28,314 (4,086w)
  • Wednesday: 32,504 (4,190w)
  • Thursday: 35,020 (2,516w) 
  • Friday: 38,182 (3,162w)

Not bad, right? I cruised past the 100-page mark today, which is really cool.

I've actually passed the total word count I initially expected this story to be (10-20k). I'm still in novella-size territory, but I'm not sure where it'll end up. Can't be 40k, since I'm pretty close to that total and there's no way I'm going to reach the conclusion by then. Maybe 50k? Could be, but I'm not sure.

It doesn't matter how many words it takes to reach the end of this draft. As long as I get the story completely out of my head and told in the way it deserves.

This story might have started out a bit cautiously, slow even... but I'm totally committed now. 😄

Asides from all this writing and thinking about the story, hubby & I went out on several dinner dates this week before our daughter got back from her 2-week holiday. She went to Canada for a bit and really enjoyed herself.

Well, that's about it for now. The only thing I didn't do enough was reading. Gotta get back into the swing of reading.

Tomorrow we've got to go out and vote. It's NSW election time and I hope the current government gets booted because they're fucking hopeless. And after that, we're going to watch CAPTAIN MARVEL for the third time. Hey, our daughter hasn't seen it yet. 😁  

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 18 March 2019

CALL DROPS by John F Leonard

Call Drops: A Horror Story
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had this on my Paperwhite for a while, so I decided to start it this morning... and finished it a few hours later because I just had to know where it was going.

Vincent Preece is a rich man who made his money during the beginning of the telecommunication era, just before the rise of the mobile phone. He's a lonely man, but lives in the big house he used to share with his wife and daughter. He also loves to check out second-hand stores. Although, according to him, they're getting too clean and mainstream. Car boot sales are okay, and that's where he finds his latest toy--an immaculate, one of a kind phone he's never seen before.

The phone isn't charged and isn't even supposed to work, so when it rings he doesn't know what to do. Except, of course, there's only one thing to do: answer it...

OMG. This story certainly hooked me in. What starts out as a boring and very jaded older man judging everyone and everything, soon becomes the very intriguing story of a mobile phone that rings when it wants, and gives Vincent insight that leads him to some pretty horrific discoveries.

There's a taxidermy scene that was gross as hell. And sad, too. There's also an air of creepiness hanging over the whole story. But it's not until the last half of the book that everything suddenly becomes crystal clear and the seemingly mundane comments he makes throughout the story about his business ventures and marriage become so much more.

This story just got darker and darker. By the time this character's true nature unravels, every awful clue comes together and makes perfect sinister sense. 😳

Yeah, I really enjoyed this! I quite enjoy unreliable narrators, and they don't get less reliable than this guy.

This story turned out to be a disturbing mystery, wrapped in some horrid horror, with a gruesome filling. Definitely worth checking out.


Saturday, 16 March 2019

WAGON BUDDY by Steve Stred

Wagon Buddy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This afternoon while sorting the awesome books on my Paperwhite, I opened this one. I started reading... and finished it in one sitting.

Scott is a lonely boy with a father who abandons the family, and a mother who turns to drinking. So when a creature appears in his yard and offers to play with him, Scott can't believe he's finally got a friend. Sure, it might be a hideous rotting monster, but at least his Wagon Buddy looks out for him.

This comes in handy when the bullying starts at school. Actually, the bullying continues through much of his life, and having a powerful creature on his side comes in handy. Until the day he's arrested...

I really enjoyed this dark novella about a victim of bullying so serious it messes up his life and chases him into the future.

Essentially, Wagon Buddy is a horror story. It features a horrifying creature capable of tearing people apart. It's spooky and there's quite a bit of violence, but it's also a very sad story about a boy who can't escape the physical scars of bullying. What these awful and disgusting kids do to Scott is appalling and cruel. They don't just call him names and push him around, they actually bash and drug him. Hurt him so badly he ends up with broken bones and so much more.

The only problem is that this poor character's bullying doesn't end after his teens. It continues into his adult life, and is so terrible that I liked the bloodthirsty creature and despised the people. This says a lot about how well the story was told, because my sympathy for Scott builds and builds until I was cheering the Wagon Buddy's vengeful ways.

Scott's story is a horror tale that echoes real life. I felt so bad for him. :(

I also liked how the story unfolds during a police interrogation. This way it goes back and forward, filling in the blanks presented at the beginning and eventually connecting to reach a very satisfying end.

The only negative thing I found were a few typos and spots that could've been tightened. But I was so engrossed in the story that it didn't get in the way of my enjoyment.

If you're in the mood for an interesting and heartbreaking story with a good dose of gore, check it out!


Friday, 15 March 2019

WIP Thoughts

This week I'm going to talk about the state of my WIPs. 

Not just because my head's been buzzing with stuff, but because I've been juggling and brainstorming and writing a bunch of different stories at the same time. There are several characters trying to grab my attention, but I finally feel like I might have found some kind of balance. Maybe. 😁

The story I'm working on is a (possible) novella-sized story about an unstable mother-daughter relationship further complicated by a demonic presence. It's actually a WIP I started last month. One that started at a much slower pace than usual after I handwrote the beginning in a notebook. By the time I'd typed up the first two chapters, I'd lost some of the momentum. Then some real life crap got in the way and I got a bad case of distracted brain.

Still, I continued to add words. It became a sporadic affair, made even harder when I was consumed by a short story featuring one of my old characters. A shortie prequel I wrote during a weekend in February, and then spent the following week revising. Actually, I got so caught up in it, I couldn't move on until it was polished. And subbed.🤞🏻

And that's when I went back to my demonic WIP. But even then, I wasn't adding as many words as usual. I just wasn't as involved as I wanted to be. Getting an unexpected idea got in the way! Well, it was initially a dream I carried around in my head for a week, before realising it could totally be a story.

Yeah, another horror story idea to add to the mix.

So I took some notes, put a file together and started adding inspirational pics, cast the characters and even gave them names. And it wasn't until I got this done that I finally returned to the ol' demonic idea. And really got stuck into it.

This has been the most constant week yet. I've added words every single day and surprises keep popping up all over the place. So I've finally found my groove. Without a hundred other things trying to get in the way to crowd my headspace, I was able to finally focus and keep a steady pace of new words going.

And you know what? It feels really good. During the last few weeks I let the interruptions convince me that the story might be the problem. That it wasn't as ready as I thought, that I couldn't get into it because I wasn't ready... but nope. The story was never the problem. 

The problem was mind clutter. Sometimes I let too many things get in the way, so I was glad I stuck with the story. Any progress is good progress.

I still have no clue how long this tale of mayhem is going to be, but I'll keep going until I reach the end of the draft.

Every project is different, and the process continues to evolve. I'm glad I kept going no matter what because after adding words all week, today I passed the 20k mark. Yay.

And not just that, but for the first time since I started this story there are so many new ideas and paths ahead. I can clearly see where I'm headed and am super excited about it. Also, everything took a creepier turn than expected. Even the family drama has been amped up.

*rubs hands together*

Well, there you go. These are some of the thoughts circling around inside my head at the moment. 😁

Have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

HANNAH-BEAST by Jennifer McMahon

Hannah-Beast
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second Dark Corners Collection story I've read, and the first by this author.

It's Halloween and Amanda's daughter dresses up as Hannah-Beast. An awful urban legend that's haunted the town since Amanda was a kid. She makes her daughter change, but the dark memories from her past aren't as easy to deal with.

Amanda knows all about the Hannah-Beast legend because she was there. She knew Hannah, and her stupidity and silence helped create a tragic turn of events that stained the town for years to come...

Wow. I really enjoyed this one! It's creepy, sets the tone for some bad shit to surface, and then delivers a shocking ending that wasn't a surprise but still hits you hard when you get there. It's dark, man.

You know how in all mean girl groups there's that one girl who is a little different? The one who actually has a heart and cares about more than just belonging to a group? But when it comes down to it, she swallows her pride and keeps quite? Yeah. That's Amanda. She was that girl, and because of her asshole friends an innocent young girl died. And was blamed for a crime she didn't commit.

This is why Amanda hates Halloween, but no matter how much she tries, October 31st arrives every year. It haunts her to the point of hallucinations, or maybe Hannah-Beast is really behind her. The way this story is written, it's not hard to believe both are happening.

I also liked how the present was balanced out by the events of 1982. I felt so bad for poor Hannah. Mean kids are the worst.

Now I'm looking forward to the other shorties in this series AND more books by this author.


Monday, 11 March 2019

March into another month...

Can you believe a new month is here? Yikes.

March means that summer is over and autumn is here. Well, technically that's what's supposed to happen. But thanks to an awful thing called climate change, the seasons are all over the place. I mean, the last week of Feb was coldish, and so far the temp in March has been very summerish.

Weird, but at least daylight savings won't be over until next month. o.O

So, the last time I posted an update was several weeks ago and I've been busy doing stuff. As well as dealing with teen attitude (along with stupid decisions), and putting up with obnoxious neighbours doing noisy/smelly renovations at all hours. Ugh.

I lost quite a few days to distracted brain and not being able to focus. But last week was different. I found my focus again. Actually, most of the week was full of thinking, taking notes and inspiration. I even came up with a new idea that I'm super excited about.

Oh, plus I finished that little Sierra Fox prequel story I wrote one Saturday last month. I got so caught up in it, that I finished three drafts and the read-thru on my Paperwhite pretty quickly. Actually, I even subbed it to an anthology. It's a longshot--of course it is--but I still took the plunge. :)

The most exciting thing is that so far this year, I've already finished two projects:
  • Novelette about werewolves (11,503w)
  • Short story about ghosts (3,997 w) 

Not bad! Now I'm turning my attention to a novella about the demonic. While taking notes for an UF novel. And brainstorming a new slasher idea.

Yeah, my head is crowded. But at the same time, I'm so inspired that I'm bursting with ideas and snippets and scenes. 

We haven't watched any TV shows for a while, but we did go to watch CAPTAIN MARVEL. And OMFG, I LOVED IT! It's such a perfect addition to the MCU. I also thought it was clever, full of excellent spacey goodness, great Easter eggs and very cool twists. Plus, the 90s soundtrack matched the story perfectly.

The Stan Lee tribute was beautifully sad. :,(

Also, Brie Larson totally rocked this role. Don't listen to the idiots who are so sexist they can't accept an awesome actress playing an awesome superhero just because they feel threatened by their inadequacy.

That's about it, I guess. I've been busy doing stuff and hope to achieve more this week.

Have a good one!


PS. That comment about not watching any shows during the last few weeks is true. But last night, we finally started AMERICAN GODS. 

Thursday, 7 March 2019

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my Kindle for a very long time. While sorting my bookshelves during the weekend, I started reading and couldn't put it down.

Mia Dennett is the daughter of a judge in Chicago. A man who cares only about reputation. He married a trophy wife, his eldest became a lawyer, but the youngest disappointed him because she's an artist who also teaches.

When Mia goes missing, her mother Eve is devastated and starts to question her shortcomings as a mother. She also resents becoming a silent partner in her marriage to an overbearing man. All she wants is to find Mia, and with Detective Gabe Hoffman by her side, they just might...

I really enjoyed this book! It's sold as a thriller, which really isn't accurate. I mean, there are a bunch of psychological thriller traits throughout, but mostly it's a mystery full of family drama--from all angles.

An estranged daughter goes missing. The father doesn't give a shit. The mother breaks because of it. The sister is too obnoxious to care. The detective assigned to the case gets a bit too involved. And the circumstances behind her kidnapping are dubious.

The story is told in the Before and After POVs of Eve, Gabe and Colin. Each adds a new layer to the overall story, while bridging together the past and the present to fill in the blanks. I found each POV interesting, as the main characters go through their own personal transition.

Eve's story was interesting and what happens to her daughter actually helps her confront the problems in her own life.

Colin's story is filled with violin moments dripping with self-pity. I didn't like him one bit. He's a douche who wants to make quick money and pretends it's all for his sick mother, but he's just a criminal. An asshole who decides to kidnap a girl so someone else doesn't, just because she's pretty. I mean, seriously. Let's not kid ourselves, it's why he does everything.

Mia is another character I didn't like. Even though she's the supposed victim, it wasn't hard to dislike her. She's too self-involved and falls for her kidnapper too easily. Seems like she's been treated so badly by men--her dad and boyfriend--that the simple act of not shooting her in the head is enough for her to relax. o.O Yeah, not so bright. Though she is conniving.

My favourite character was actually Gabe Hoffman. I liked his easy manner, his determination to solve the case, and his kindness. What he does for Colin's mother, how he gets close to Eve because of her grief and loneliness. He's a nice guy without having to advertise the fact.

I love solving mysteries, so I have to admit that I worked out the big twist at the end. Still, the getting there was a surprise, and I didn't guess where Colin ends up.

Another thing that I liked was the writing style. It was smooth and to the point, revealed as much as it had to when it was absolutely necessary. Even with having to juggle all the different POVs and multiple timelines, everything fit. And I thought the pacing was good, too. This isn't an action-packed story, it moves to a different beat.

I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.


Sunday, 3 March 2019

THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL by Lisa Unger

The Sleep Tight Motel (Dark Corners Collection)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I found out I could borrow the Dark Corners Collection because we have Amazon Prime, I grabbed this short stories first.

Eve is on the run. She has a stolen ID, a gun, a few bags and a crappy Mustang. She's also trying to outrun her abusive and violent boyfriend.

When she stumbles upon a quiet motel and meets Drew, the kind and helpful manager, she decides to stay the night. But the sounds of violence coming from the empty room next to hers keeps her up, and her car won't start, but she has to keep running before Erik finds her...

Wow. This was quite a story! It's not very long. I read it in one sitting, and I think that's the best way to read this. The way everything unfolds, how the tension builds, the way time isn't linear, and the big reveal at the end are best experienced all at once.

I loved how well this story was written, how clever it was. I really liked Eve. Even though it was clear she was hiding plenty from the very beginning, I saw her as the victim all the way through. She was a sad testament in how easily it can be for someone--especially women--to get caught in a predator's web. To allow him completely into her life even though she'd seen the warning signs too many times.

It was heartbreaking, and eerie. The setting was perfect, suited the atmosphere and when everything becomes apparent, all the clues snap into place. Of course they do!

I loved this. Such a beautiful but sad story of broken trust and toxic love.


Friday, 1 March 2019

AN ARMY OF SKIN by Morgan K Tanner

After losing his mother to a brain tumour, Trevor King feels totally alone in the world. Someone needs to pay for her death and Dr Mellick, Trevor's work colleague and family GP, is the man he holds responsible. Trevor's yearning for vengeance leads him to concoct a vicious plot to frame the doctor for multiple murders. Trevor skins the corpses, turning them into elaborate art pieces after being inspired by a mysterious textbook. But as the skins of the flayed victims come to life and continue the killings for him, Trevor wonders whether he is in too deep.When Dr Mellick goes missing Trevor becomes convinced the doctor is planning a similar scheme to bring him down.But as Trevor discovers the truth of his mother's death and his own life, this murderous path becomes more of a calling.


I received an eARC of this novella from the author, and really didn't know much about the story. But the cover was cool and the blurb sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. 

Trevor King works in a doctor's surgery. It's where the man he hates the most also works. Actually, Dr. Mellick is the one who gave him the job. But Trevor doesn't feel an ounce of gratitude towards this man because Trevor blames his GP for his mother's painful death.

So he hatches a macabre plan to get revenge on Dr. Mellick. A sick plan that'll involve getting his hands dirty and very, very bloody. It might even force him to lose his mind along the way. Or find himself...

I really enjoyed this well-crafted novella. It's well written, visceral in its descriptions, full of surprises, and has a surreal, nightmarish feel that kept me wondering about what was real and what was delusion all the way through.

Add a narrator, who at first appears to be a misunderstood guy pushed into violence by circumstance and grief, but might be slowly deteriorating into a monster. Or he could be a delusional man who imagines some pretty wicked stuff. Maybe he's just a psycho killer?

Either way, he's obsessed. With the helpful doctor, with his dead mother, with the awful textbook full of gross artwork pieces made out of corpses. With pretty much everything.

Hell, he even becomes consumed with the skin bodies of his victims. Yeah, Trevor has a few issues and a bunch of problems, but his tale was so addictive I followed him all the way to the shocking end. 😲

An Army of Skin is brutal, bloody and totally twisted. Plus, it's a lot of gross fun! It didn't take long for this gory tale to quickly sink its claws into my skin (pardon the pun). I couldn't put it down. I really liked how everything escalated, the story pace and how it all turned out. Twisty turns are some of my favourite endings. Even if I really should've seen this one coming.

I was totally in the mood for a story like this. The violence is balanced out with the character's motivations. And his motivations definitely lead him down a one-way lane into madness.

Lastly, I'd like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

THE BREAKTHROUGH by Daphne du Maurier

The Breakthrough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've got a few Daphne du Maurier books on my TBR pile--Rebecca and Jamaica Inn--that I'm looking forward to reading. But first, I wanted to read this cute Penguin Modern Classic short story. And it was a great introduction, I reckon.

When Stephen is transferred to Saxmere because of his expertise, he ends up in an isolated facility where a small team is conducting a peculiar experiment unlike anything he's been involved with before...

I really enjoyed this! It's so well written and Stephen's voice was very compelling. As soon as his story started, I was invested in finding out what was going to happen to him. I was also very interested in the experiment.

The pseudo-science in this story was very clever, and I like the way it blended science with computers while dealing with the human soul. It was also very mysterious and downright creepy--especially the scenes with the little girl. O.o

I also thought the isolated and cold location really suited what was going on behind closed doors. Not to mention how easily Stephen's doubts are overcome by the curiosity of tapping into the unknown.

Such a great story. Now I'm really looking forward to reading more of this author's books.


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

THE GEMINI EXPERIMENT by Brian Pinkerton

In a secret lab, a team of doctors and scientists funded by a mysterious billionaire create the first human replica entirely from technology. The robot is prepared to host the digitized consciousness of Tom Nolan, a family man suffering from a terminal illness. But when Tom’s replica escapes before the transfer can take place, he is faced with the horrors of an alter ego bent on death and destruction. When the experiment draws the attraction of spies, Tom is caught up in an international crisis with a showdown that could change the course of the world.


This book is a Flame Tree Press ARC I wasn't sure would interest me. But, as soon as I started, I was instantly hooked. I couldn't put it down!

Tom Nolan is ill. His body has given up on him, and will continue to get worse. So when one of his old friends asks if he'd like to take part in a super secret experiment that will help his brain survive and receive a top-notch new body, of course he signs up.

His new body is awesome, a perfect replica. He can't wait to slip into his new skin, and finally be able to share his secret with his family. But during the final test, his replica escapes and leaves a trail of violence in his wake.

As dire as this is, an unexpected hidden threat comes out of nowhere...

Wow. 

I have to be honest, I didn't think I would like this book. And ended up absolutely loving it!

OMG. I didn't want to put this down. It's gripping, exciting and takes so many twists and turns I was on the edge of my seat. Seriously, my heart was pounding so fast because just when I thought the danger was over, a new--and worse--threat arises.

Let's talk about Tom Nolan. He's such a likeable and strong character. A guy who doesn't let a disease destroy everything without a fight. I was totally on his side, was cheering him on all the way through because after all the crap he goes through, all I wanted was for him to be okay.

But he's not the only interesting character. Even the villains were intriguing. And the multiple POVs were handled perfectly, kept the urgency and pace moving.

There are some scenes that totally blew me away, but I can't mention a single thing about them because they would be spoilerish. And trust me, the best way to go into this book is by knowing minimal info about the plot.

The Gemini Experiment is a fast-paced and very exciting Sci-Fi thriller with an awesome twist of pseudo-technology thrown into the very exciting mix. The stakes start out pretty high, but with every new page, the danger kept rising. It's imaginative, techie, explosive and touches on some pretty heavy issues about humanity, robotics and the endless quest for immortality.

Not to mention the ending was brutal, and bonkers. In the best way possible. 😊

I absolutely LOVED this. I can't say it enough. The level of intensity and suspense in this book was totally captivating. It's the kind of unexpected story that surprised me with its brilliance.



Sunday, 24 February 2019

Days Full of Words

Well, the weather in Sydney really sucks at the moment. I mean, summer isn't even over yet but this past week the temperature has dropped dramatically and it's rained continuously. Ugh.

Still, I didn't let it get to me. Much. LOL.

I can take a few days of rain, but more than that and it starts to grate on my nerves. It messes with my mood and if it starts getting in the way of my walking routine, then I get grumpy. I just hope the sun returns soon. Very soon.

Anyway, enough about the damn weather.

Let's talk about WORDS. Something else this past week has been full of. Both of the reading, and the writing kind 😊

As far as the reading goes, the week turned out to be a bit wonky. I DNFd two ARCs (this & this), read a highly-anticipated book that turned out to be a total disappointment. Read an incredibly AWESOME book I adored and a short story that was pretty mediocre.

But, another ARC I wasn't sure I would even enjoy totally hooked me in from the beginning. Can't wait to see how it all turns out...

Now it's time to chat about the writing. Something that fills me with a lot of joy--in spite of getting another anthology rejection. 😌

I did a lot of thinking and scribbling about a certain story I suspect might end up being another novelette. So much that I started the story. By Friday I'd handwritten the first two chapters in a notebook.

Then on Saturday, I woke up with the beginning of a new short story idea! One that came out of nowhere and demaded to be written. It featured one of my older (and very beloved) characters. Do you remember Sierra Fox? I know! I'm as shocked as you are. I wasn't expecting her to speak to me again. Not after the whole Samhain Publishing fiasco and how it affected me. 😟

I spent the day writing the story on my phone's QuickMemo app. Started in the morning and kept adding words whenever I could. And since we had such a relaxing day, every time we sat down to watch some Judge Judy on YouTube, I added new words.

By 11pm, the first draft of this prequel story was done. A total of 4,032 words. Yay.

It's so exciting to be this full of words and different stories, because I feel SO inspired at the moment. Spending time on different ideas is very rewarding.

I'm hoping to do much of the same this week.

Oh and before I go, last weekend we watched (or is that, binged?THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY on Netflix. And it was SO effing fantastic! I actually caught up on the comic book recently so everything was still fresh in my mind. And even though there were changes, this was an amazing adaptation. I adore the Hargreeves kids. This series is odd and dark, and the show captured the essence perfectly.

Whoa. I went on for a bit, didn't I? Looks like I had a lot to say, but I think it's time to bring this to an end. Like the post title says, it's all about words. 😉

Have a great week!

Friday, 22 February 2019

THE MAKING OF GABRIEL DAVENPORT by Beverley Lee

The Making of Gabriel Davenport (Gabriel Davenport #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a week filled with disappointing books, starting this one was a breath of fresh air. I was hooked from the very beginning. Actually, I couldn't put it down. I didn't want to put it down because I was enjoying it so much.

Beth and Stu Davenport moved to the country so that their baby, Gabriel, could grow up in a nice village and enjoy his childhood. But it takes just one night for their quiet family life to be destroyed.

During a terrible snowstorm, while Stu is stranded in the city, Beth suffers a horrific attack by an unknown entity. An incident that separates the small family in the worst possible way.

Years later, the darkness is still waiting and is willing to do whatever it takes to get its smoky hands on Gabriel...

OMG. This book is amazing!

The story is engrossing and kept me swiping the pages of my Kindle because I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen next. The characters are all so interesting and so fleshed out I felt for each and every single one of them every step of the way. And the atmosphere is perfect. Not just the location, or the awful storms, but the tension is gripping. The suspense dripped off every page, putting the characters through so many hellish incidents I was often sitting on the edge of my seat.

And also, THIS is how you write short and snappy chapters that throw you deeper into the story. THIS is how you write multiple POVs and still keep the reader totally wrapped up in the story. I found this especially awesome because, lately, I've had a real problem with excessive POVs in stories that complicated, swamped or ruined my reading experience.

This is such a well-written story and the author's voice is wonderful. Not to mention that it's packed with surprises and twists so many genres together. Or how deliciously creepy and unnerving it turned out to be.

I absolutely LOVED this book and can't wait to read the other two.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

THE SHINING GIRLS by Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've had this on my Paperwhite for a while now and finally decided to start reading it yesterday. There's a lot of hype attached to this book, and how can there not be? It's about a time-travelling serial killer.

That's bound to grab the attention of readers. It grabbed my attention. But once I started the book, I realised that while the concept sounded great, it lost a lot of it's shine pretty early on.

For starters, the killer Harper Curtis literally stumbles into the time travelling house. It's pretty much how he finds his shining girls. Which is really just a way to determine a pattern for his targets without really having a pattern. O.o

And the chapters featuring his victims were too brief. Half of the chapter focuses only on setting the scene for the time period, so by the time these unfortunate women are killed you kinda wonder why we were introduced to them at all. There just wasn't enough time to feel anything for anyone.

I suppose the purpose is not to get close to the victims, but to hate the killer. And I didn't need any help with that. His POV got dull really fast. To the point where I started skimming his bits because I just didn't care.

Kirby Mazrachi is another story. I really liked her and enjoyed her POV because she wasn't just the girl who survived, but the one who refused to give up and is determined to find her attacker.

The other character I liked was Dan Velasquez, who is a former homicide reporter she's interning with. When they're together, I really enjoyed what was going on. But there was SO much added from SO many other characters that even Kirby and Dan get lost in the mix.

I really thought I would love this, but there were too many pesky things that annoyed me about the story. For starters, there was too much Harper. I felt like there should've been more mystery attached to him. Not to mention there were too many character POVs. The historical infodumps eventually lost me. But the lack of any real twist was my biggest disappointment.

Look, the writing style was nice and everything but overall, this book failed to captivate me as much as I hoped. In the end, I thought it was okay and for me, didn't live up to the hype.


Friday, 15 February 2019

Too Busy to Blog?

Not really. I don't think that's ever the case. The months just slip away because I pack my days with a LOT of stuff.

Originally, I was going to spend February doing revision. But after writing a short story last month and starting to brainstorm two other ideas, I pushed the revision back to March. Well, when I say I pushed the revision back, I mean for my novel. Because I did spend quite a bit of time revising the short story. 

Actually, there was quite a bit of rewriting too because while discussing the story with hubby he pointed out something that was a bit of an issue. Something I totally missed but needed a bit of extra attention. Sometimes you're just too close to the story.

So, I wrote a new beginning and then had to smooth everything out. Not to mention follow it up with several proofreads to make sure I didn't miss anything, and make sure everything flowed.

And on Tuesday, I officially finished. 

The final word count is 11,503. That's a lot longer than I expected and is a story that's going to be hard to place in a particular market. It's too long to be considered a short story and too short to be a novella. But that's not important because this tale is the result of an idea I've had circling inside my mind for months, and I gave it the room it needed to be told.

So, what's the story about? It's about a woman enjoying the happiest day of her life, until it turns into a nightmare when the past catches up with her. The story is gory and violent, but also heartbreaking. And did I mention werewolves? Yeah.

Anyway, I'm very happy with how it turned out, and even happier that it's done. It feels good when Idea Files finally become finished stories. Plus it frees up my head for the others waiting in line. 😊

This story has dominated the last few weeks, but I've also been reading (check out all the reviews below) and watching stuff (True Detective, You, Siren, Russian Doll, Bloom). Plus, like I mentioned: brainstorming up a storm.

I started handwriting the beginning of one story and have a bunch of notes for the other. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) writing another quick draft before getting stuck into any novel revision.

Well, that's about it for now. Just wanted to post a little something.

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, 10 February 2019

THE DISTANCE OF THE MOON by Italo Calvino

The Distance of the Moon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adorable little book that my daughter was going to get rid of. Before donating it, I wanted to give it a go. And as soon as I started the first story, I was enthralled.

THE DISTANCE OF THE MOON is a charming & whimsical tale about a time when the moon was close enough to get to via a ladder, and it was possible to harvest moon milk.

This is the story of a particular group of people who go out every month to get on the moon, and the hidden desires they have. For there is one woman married to a man, wanted by another, and she has eyes for neither.

The wicked twist made the tale.

WITHOUT COLOURS is such a surreal story about the time when our planet was colourless & what happens when colour appears, but it isn't what everyone wants.

But at the heart of this tale is the unrequited love one man has for a woman who doesn't want change. And what can happen if you try to trick your heart's desire.

It's very peculiar.

AS LONG AS THE SUN LASTS is a little story that made me laugh! It's all about surviving in a constantly-changing universe. A family moving and adapting to new stars in order to survive.

But that's not what made me laugh. The funniest thing about this tale is the way the married couple relates to each other and seem to provide a blazing fire hotter than the sun.

Very clever.

IMPLOSION is an iteresting take on black holes. On time and space and everything in between. How things relate to each other, and the way things move.

Another nice little tale with a cool ending.

I REALLY enjoyed this collection of short stories. Every single one of them begins with a scientific fact about astronomy, and ends on a very human note.

The way these stories are written gives every story a whimsical, almost dreamy feel that swept me away and kept me intrigued, very much interested.

There are so many quirky features about the way Italo Calvino writes. And I especially liked the bizarre names, like Vhd Vhd and Xlthlx, or Qfwfq. Not to mention the humour. I giggled quite a few times. Or the wicked streak that caught me by surprise. But nothing is better than the human quality added to such SciFi-ish tales of wonder and wisdom.

I didn't expect to love these little stories as much as I did, but these little gems, combining scientific fact with fiction, are keepers. And enough to make me look into more of this author's mystical writing.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY HOTEL OBLIVION #5 Free by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá 

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #5Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #5 by Gerard Way
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy hell! Now that everyone's figured out where Hargreeves was putting the bad guys, the world is going to have to deal with a lot of crap. Especially the Umbrella Academy.

Well, maybe not Séance because that guy's dealing with his own demons at the moment. I hope that after what happened in this issue, he finally gets the help he needs. Or Vanya, who's ended up in Paris because Mom is acting extra creepy and seems to have a hundred secrets up her sleeve.

I have no idea where all of this is headed, but with two issues to go in this cycle, I can only hope we'll get enough answers to satisfy my curiosity because I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS! Need to know how the siblings are going to get out of this. Not to mention that I'm still holding out for answers about the seventh kid who never gets mentioned.

This series is full of dark awesome...


Saturday, 9 February 2019

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY HOTEL OBLIVION #4 The Labyrinth by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #4
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was yet another beautifully drawn installment of this super dark and clever series. There were some really freaky and brightly-coloured cosmic scenes featuring Spaceboy and Kraken that were so cool.

Vanya and Mom share another quiet and special moment together that raises suspicion and introduces someone new.

Even though the surreal quality of this story and the many characters often throw your expectations all over the place, I really like where this is going. We're heading into some seriously trippy territory. And once again, I can't wait for the siblings to reunite.

Oh, and I love that cover!


THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY HOTEL OBLIVION #3 Violence by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion  #3
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

O.M.G.

That scene in the desert was bloody cool. I knew Séance still had a few tricks up his sleeve. TBH, I reckon he was never really a prisoner, just let those hillbillies believe he was. LOL. Klaus is such a sneaky bastard. Can't wait to see him getting back to his siblings.

And that revelation about what Mom did to Vanya. 👀 WTH?

Also, I have to admit that I LOVE when Five and Rumor team up.

There's some really weird shit going on and I can't wait to see where everything goes from here!

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY HOTEL OBLIVION #2 Miniature War in a Miniature Home by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #2
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yikes! There's SO much going on. So many weird and unexpected things featuring some new and old characters.

One of my favourite things (there are many!) about this series is how easily the story is often unfolding in the most bizarre ways. And how easily the main story is thrown to the background while the underside takes front and centre, but never loses sight of the important players. I love that!

It was also great to find out where Séance is, even though I really don't, and have no idea why he's there. 😲 And it was really cool to see Rumor in action. Not to mention her family. Man, her husband really doesn't like her anymore. But who can blame him? I'm really curious about her daughter, though...

Anyway. I'm still really loving these and love the gorgeous artwork.


THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY HOTEL OBLIVION #1 Evil by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #1
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's so good to get back into this comic book series, because it never disappoints. One issue of this new cycle, and I'm already hooked and totally intrigued.

The hotel is mysterious and includes a time jump, because there's Hargreeves. And then Five makes an appearance as a gun for hire. Spaceboy and Kraken are in Tokyo doing their own thing and meeting other heroes. While Rumor is helping Vanya learn to walk again.

But under all of this, there's darkness building and new characters making appearances.

I can't wait to read more...


Friday, 8 February 2019

LOOKER by Laura Sims

Have you ever wanted to steal someone else's life? 

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn't have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan's old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn't even like. 

 The Actress lives a few doors down. She's famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She's got children - a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night. 

 There's no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?



This is a book I found intriguing as soon as I read the blurb. On the surface it's a stalker story, but it doesn't take long to realise it's about SO much more. 

The Professor's life is falling apart. Her husband left her because not being able to fall pregnant put a huge strain on their relationship. She lives alone with a cat she doesn't like. The only thing she's got left is her teaching job, but even that's starting to get on her nerves.

Lucky for her, she lives vicariously through the happy and full life of an actress who lives in her street. She watches her neighbour's family life from a distance, and spends hours watching her movies. Hell, she even takes anything the actress discards.

But her life is falling apart, and she stands to lose everything...

Okay. This book is something. A totally messed up something, that's for sure.

It's also a short and fast read. There aren't any chapters, just small sections stitched together. We don't even find out what the main character's name is.

Still, it's written in a unique style that made for easy reading bursts. The only problem is the main character. She's so awful and her state of mind is so screwed up, that it's best to take small doses. There's so much one can take of an obviously delusional woman who is obsessed with so much it doesn't take long to realise she's full of herself, can't read people, is self-absorbed and totally delusional.

She's an obsessive, compulsive liar.

The Professor is obsessed with not being able to have children (although she clearly doesn't like kids). She's obsessed with the husband who left her (even though she despises him). She's obsessed with the cat she hates (and only keeps her because her husband wants her back). She's obsessed with imagining everyone likes her (when hardly anyone takes notice of her). But most of all, she's obsessed with the actress she so blatantly stalks.

I was expecting a psychological thriller, and instead found this to be the story of a hateful character. A story told by an unreliable narrator who lies too much, makes up whatever she wants to fill in the blanks, and is so prone to delusions that it doesn't take long to figure out she's full of crap.

The more I read, the less I believed about why her marriage fell apart. And I certainly didn't trust a single thing she said. Most of the time it felt like the opposite of whatever she was saying was actually happening. 

It's really hard to sympathise with someone so awful. Like I said, I didn't believe a damn thing she said, saw right through her, and kept reading because I really wanted her to get caught out. Instead of rooting for her, I wished for her demise so badly the ending wasn't enough. Not after what she did to Cat. Not after the wild stalker fantasies. And certainly not after her bad behaviour.

Looker is a very disturbing story about a lonely woman who feels abandoned by the man she loved, and can't deal with her infertility. Her bizarre ways lead her down a path of self-hatred filled with madness, and can only reach a disturbing end.

If you're looking for a thriller full of twists and turns, you shouldn't expect it here. But if you enjoy totally messed up unreliable narrators with bad intentions and a whole lot of bullshit, this is definitely something you might want to check out.


Looker, January 2019, ISBN 9781472258816, Tinder Press

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

I CALL UPON THEE by Ania Ahlborn

I Call Upon Thee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last year I read and really enjoyed The Pretty Ones, so I picked this up to celebrate Women In Horror Month.

I also kept hearing there was a Ouija board, a doll, a cemetery and that it was super scary, so of course I was interested. These are some of my favourite tropes! Actually, I love them so much I even wrote a novel of my own featuring these three tropes. And being a writer, I HAD to check it out to make sure it was nothing like mine. And I'm happy to say that nope, nothing alike. ;)

Anyway, enough blabbing. Let's talk about this very cool story.

Maggie Olsen is in college at the moment, and very happy to be away from her childhood home. But when one of her sisters calls in the middle of the night to tell her something awful happened to their other sister, she has no choice but to return.

No choice but to go back into the house where she messed around with the Ouija she bought herself for her birthday years ago. The room where she befriended something malicious. The same place where family tragedy keeps happening because of what she did.

And might be about to find out that even if putting distance between herself and the terrible past still haunting Maggie helped her find a stable life, evil doesn't forget and is always waiting...

This was such a great story!

I loved how well Maggie's current sad and heartbreaking ordeal was balanced out with young and innocent Maggie determined to find adventure. Her kind thoughts about visiting the cemetery soon make her an ideal target, once again proving that: no good deed goes unpunished. She was being sweet and even what she did with the doll, trying to protect her, carries a heavy price.

The way the story unfolds set the perfect tone and emphasises the creepy factor. Actually amps it up in your head. There are plenty of fast-paced stuff that happens, but the freakiest scenes were the ones where everything slowed down. When there was tap-tap-tapping, or doors opening by themselves, or shadowy reflections in mirrors. Very cool.

Oh, and the way the scene where Maggie first watched The Exorcist was written is utter perfection. Really captured the horror of that movie. And not just because it mirrored Maggie's ordeal, but because if you happened to be a very young kid (as I was) when you first watched this movie, then yeah, totally feeling it.

There's also a bit of a sisterly twist in the end that I should've seen coming but didn't even want to consider... so yeah. Yikes.

Well, this is another story from Ania Ahlborn that I really enjoyed. Glad I've got a bunch more on my Paperwhite!


Friday, 1 February 2019

THE PLAYING CARD KILLER by Russell James

Brian Sheridan may be losing his mind. Asleep, he’s plagued by dreams of murder, women strangled with a red velvet rope then left with a playing card tucked in the corpse. While awake, he’s hallucinating that he’s being stalked by a man painted like a skeleton. It’s getting hard to know what’s real. He hopes all this is driven by his cold turkey withdrawal from a lifetime of anti-anxiety medications. But when one of his nightmare’s victims shows up on the news, dead, Brian fears he himself may be the unwitting killer...


Well, this was a Flame Tree Press ARC that I didn't know anything about, but as soon as I started I was instantly hooked.

When Brian Sheridan decides to stop taking the cocktail of medication that controls his ADHD and anxiety, he thought life would lose the endless haze he hates. He expected withdrawals, but didn't think the frightening personification of his panic attacks--that manifests as a creature called Mr. Jitters--would return. Or that every time he went to sleep he would start witnessing the brutal murder of women he doesn't know.

But when one of the victims is on the news, he realises his hallucinations might be so much more.

Detective Eric Weissbard recently retired from New York to Florida, and has gone back to work. But he gets no respect and ends up chasing all the crappy leads. Until a nervous young man comes to the station and knows details about the investigation the police haven't revealed...

Wow. This book turned out to be an unexpected gem. Not only is the concept enough to grab the reader, but the story becomes addictive, and the characters are so true to life they keep you interested. In spite of their flaws and dysfunction, I couldn't put this book down!

Brian is a mentally-scarred young man with an adoptive family who barely tolerates him, a girlfriend determined to fix him, and has a long list of mental health issues. And he's such an excellent main character. He's jittery, neurotic and delusional enough to make everyone--including himself--doubt what's going on.

He's also a really likeable guy. I felt so bad for him. The ordeal he goes through is awful.

Detective Weissbard is an awesome and talented detective willing to analyse everything. He doesn't leave any stone unturned, has more skills than his superiors and becomes the most resented guy in the office. But he refuses to ignore his gut instinct and has a caring and supportive wife. I loved their marriage, enjoyed the hell out all of their scenes.

This book is full of creepy vibes and explores some freaky tropes: twin connections, broken characters, seemingly unreliable narrator. It's a fantastic thriller with a mystery that ventures into some grim horror territory.

The Playing Card Killer totally took me by surprise. I enjoyed every single tense moment. The suspense builds from the beginning of the book but during the last fifty pages, I was on the edge of my seat because I was so invested in Brian and Weissbard.

This book blew me away because it turned out to be SO awesome.

I think I need to read more from this author.





Monday, 28 January 2019

BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children, #3)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series, so after really enjoying Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones, I was looking forward to reading the third installment.

Cora used to be a mermaid and is now friends with a drowned girl. After living in the place she considers home and being returned to the world she can't relate to, she lives in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children. The day a girl wearing a cake dress lands in the pond near the school claiming she's Sumi's daughter, Cora's life takes an unexpected turn.

Sumi is dead, so she can't have a daughter. But Rini was still born because things are different in the land of Sugar and Nonsense. Rini is slowly fading, and unless she restores her mother, she'll disappear and her world will be ruined.

And so begins a very strange adventure...

Man, these modern fairy tales are SO freaking great. I love the different chatacters, love how all of these worlds differ yet fit together, and the very idea of random doors opening up to specific kids and leading elsewhere is so intriguing. Not to mention the misfortune of being given the chance to live where they feel they truly belong, only to be returned.

Put all of this together, and you have plenty of ingredients to bake the most wonderful story. Oh hold on, I'm getting carried away with the sugary imagery. Seriously, after reading this novella I wanted to have some cupcakes with frosting. Or a cake slice with frosting. Hell, frosting would've been just fine. 😄

I thought Cora was a great heroine. She's one of those girls who everyone looks at and makes a hundred assumptions about. But she was a mermaid, and before that a swimmer. She's agile and has learned to not say certain things at certain times to avoid judgement. It's sad, because she's lovely and strong and brave.

It was also great to see Kade again (I really want to read his tale) and to see Nancy in her element. I got a kick out of that. Not to mention that I was totally intrigued by Christopher. I'm a sucker for skulls and skeleton stories.

Asides from the awesome and varied characters—I mean, how cool was the Baker?—the way the story is written is addictive. And the imagery so vivid every scene played out inside my mind perfectly.

Yeah, this is such a wonderful book and I can't wait to read more.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOLUME 2: DALLAS by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 2: Dallas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've watched the TV show trailer so many times that I'm super pumped. I can't wait to watch this world and its characters come alive on the screen.

So, of course, that also means making sure I've read every issue released so far. And today, I sat down with my tablet and read this volume in one sitting. It wasn't hard, because the Dallas storyline was just as engrossing as Apocalypse Suite. 😊

This story arc is called Dallas because it deals heavily with Number 5. We now know he's a ruthless assassin and somewhat of a liar, but until this volume the reasons were unknown. But we find out how one of America's biggest presidential assassinations relates back to him. And because of that, the whole team (minus Vanya) goes back to 1963 with some pretty wicked consequences.

I enjoyed catching up with these guys, even though they're all still suffering through some tough stuff. Spaceboy has gotten fat and sits in front of the TV all day. Kraken is following The Boy's trail, trying to figure him out. The Séance gets himself into some gruesome trouble. Rumor has lost her voice, but gains a lot of knowledge. While Vanya is still screwed up after taking a bullet to the head.

Plus, we get to meet the totally insane assassins, Hazel and Cha-Cha. They wear silly animal masks and love sugar treats, but don't mess around.

The main story just gets cooler and cooler. There were a few revelations that made my jaw drop (twins?!) and others that helped piece together some of the questions the first volume presented in the narrative.

This odd and quirky story continues to dazzle me with it's bizarre characters, death-defying situations and endless surprises. While the artwork stays shiny and pretty, the darkness of this series never skips a beat.

Bring on Hotel Oblivion...


Friday, 25 January 2019

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL by Jonathan Janz

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? 

When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror. Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.


This is another Flame Tree Press ARC that hooked me in as soon as I started. I found the beginning of this story to be so true to life, it was easy to keep reading.

Joe Crawford is one of the good guys. He loves his wife, cherishes his daughter and runs his own business. He's so honest, he ends up losing most of his estimates to competitors who undercut him with lower (and inaccurate) rates, every time.

The day he's in a gas station with his family and witnesses a young mother hitting her toddler, he does something about it. And gets attacked in the process, becomes the target of a crazy cult that blames him for what happens to the mother because of her abusive ways.

As his work life collides with the nightmare of his new reality, all hell breaks loose and Joe stands to lose everything he loves. Or at least, watch it go up in flames...

Yikes! This story starts out slow, sets up what could be a very real-life scenario and leads the reader down a twisty and strange path. Until the disturbing truths reveal themselves one bit at a time, before accelerating at full throttle.

Seriously. Don't get fooled into thinking that the slow burn pace at the beginning of the book is going to continue until the end. Because when the story reaches a particularly horrid scene, the action and gore doesn't stop. And some pretty awful stuff happens to good people.

I really liked Joe. He's an everyday-kinda guy who isn't perfect, but he always does the right thing. He has integrity and a lot of heart. Actually, these two qualities are the reasons he gets himself so deep in trouble with the hidden crazies in town. His need to protect his family, as well as the vulnerable, pushes him to do just about anything in order to help.

Copeland was also a great character. He's not your average cop, and is as clever as hell. Plus, he's really funny. He had some pretty good one-liners that cracked me up. And Michelle was a great character, too. I especially liked how she's portrayed as so much more than just a wife-mother. She's a real person with real thoughts, honest reactions and true strength.

As for the Waltz women, because they were truly despicable, it was easy to hate their lowlife asses. And I found the cult angle intriguing.

The Nightmare Girl is a creepy contemporary story about a family who, by doing the right thing, gets caught up with an old secret cult. At times it's scary as hell, and at others reflects familiar everyday issues. It's like falling down the rabbit hole and into so many terrible, surreal things that you doubt your sanity every step of the way. 

And proves that no good deed goes unpunished.

I really enjoyed this story, and the last chapter was super creepy. I've got a few more Janz books to check out, so I'm looking forward to it.




 
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