Monday 28 January 2019


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, 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


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.

The month is almost over...

So, I thought it might be a cool idea to post a bit of an update.

How are YOU? How's the new year treating you? 

This month turned out to be productive and relaxing. We've been enjoying our weekends, I've read quite a bit, daydreamed about new ideas, watched a few movies (Slender Man & The Nun), started a few shows (True Detective S3 & YOU), watched a very cool horror documentary (To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story), thought about future stories, got more bookshelf sorting done, went on one of hubby's runs with him, and put a 3-month writing plan together. 

Oh, and Loki the Cat turned 12 yesterday! 😸

This week, I also wrote a new short story:
  • Tuesday: 2,169
  • Wednesday: 3,860
  • Thursday: 6,963

After I sat down and went through my Idea Files to decide what to work on next, this short story was one of the three loudest. So loud I started typing, you know, get a feel for it? But I got so caught up and the story was just THAT ready to be told, that I kept going.

This turned out to be quite a violent werewolf story. It was also heartbreaking. Something I hadn't expected--but considering the subject matter--should've known. I'm really glad it's written and I might start revising next week. Hopefully.

As you can see, I've kept busy and am very excited about my upcoming projects. There's going to be a novella, novel revision, and a bunch of story planning. (I'll post more about this another time) I'm also really happy with how my reading's going, and have a bunch of cool books I want to read. (I'll also post more about this later)

Well, there you go. That's what I've been doing. I'm sticking to my 2019 Goals, and making new ones.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday 21 January 2019

BREATHE. BREATHE. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe. Breathe.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After hearing a lot of great things about this collection on Twitter, I decided to pick up a copy for my Paperwhite. And I'm glad I did, because it truly is wonderfully dark.

I love that this collection has such a bright cover, yet holds so much darkness within its pages. There's a lot of horror, violence and fear trapped inside this book, but also plenty of hope.

The book is broken into three sections:

Act One - Breathe Through: FEAR is full of macabre and wicked poems that filled my mind with the creatures that hide in the shadows, and the monsters lying in wait. Hell, sometimes that monster might even be you.

Act Two - Breathe Through: PAIN is full of sad and heartbreaking poems about abuse that tear you apart, yet somehow help to make you whole again by the end of each one.

Short Stories contains some pretty good tales, too. I really enjoyed the three short Valhalla Lane pieces dealing with abuse and revenge. I got a real kick out of how these poor women dealt with their awful abusers, and liked how the newspaper clipping at the end wrapped everything up.

Revenge stories don't always have to feature a man with a gun. Sometimes it's a beaten-down woman who can't take anymore abuse.

I found The Madness of the Woodpecker reminiscent of Poe, and loved the surreal feel of it. Especially how it comes together at the end. Lunch Served at Noon was a trippy tale that starts with heartache and ends with some imaginative pseudo-SF stuff that was really unexpected. Life-Giver of the Nile was one of those stories that mixes contemporary life with myth in a mystical way that can only lead to terrible things. Although I loved all of these stories, the devastation that eventually dawned on me about what is really going on in Dandelion Yellow made it my favourite. It was just so good!

I think this collection of poem and prose, about the fantastical dangers found in the dark followed by the raw reality of the human monsters who are even worse, is an amazing experience. All the pieces are well written and totally worm their way into your heart and mind, until you can't do anything but feel the full brunt of their heavy emotion.

The issues dealt with in this book aren't pretty and not for the faint-hearted, but everything is written in a way that captivates its audience.

And for that alone, you should check this out.

Sunday 20 January 2019

YOU by Caroline Kepnes

You (You, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book. Yikes.

Okay. I have so many thoughts, so this review might be all over the place.

I've wanted to read YOU for a while now, but decided to wait until the new year. And now that I'm done, I'm glad that I finally did because this fucked-up tale about a delusional stalker is impossible to put down. Actually, I started slow. Purposely tried to force myself to not read too many pages in one day.

Hell, I even snuck in 6 comic book issues. But once I reached a certain point, I couldn't read small sections anymore.

I found myself totally engrossed in what was going on. I kinda knew from the beginning how this would end, and how the body count would turn out, yet I still couldn't stop reading. It's super addictive.

Even though I despised everything about Joe, because he's a bloody psycho who spins fiction around every situation to suit himself, his story kept me glued to the page. Actually, maybe there was one thing I kinda appreciated about him (because I can't bring myself to say like) and that's his appreciation of books. How he respects stories and his never-ending commentary about readers, customers, authors and books.

Other than that, he's a despicable piece of shit.

But he's not the only annoying character. There's Peach and her lies, her obvious manipulation of Beck masquerading as friendship devotion but is actually more like obsession. Benji the douche-canoe rich boy who uses Beck and is quite the arrogant asshole. Chana and Lynn, the friends who are always there to make Beck feel like shit. Dr. Nicky, the very unprofessional jerk who gets caught up in all this crap.

I actually liked Ethan, though. He was totally clueless and too perky, but a nice positive balance to that monster called Joe.

Oh, but I haven't even started on Beck. The aspiring writer who is full of shit, loves the attention from men of all ages, has daddy issues, is too easily manipulated even though half the time she thinks she's the one in control. She wasn't very nice and has a hundred issues, but she didn't deserve what Joe puts her through. The way he forces himself into her life and steals her stuff while stalking her online accounts is something no one deserves.

Her future wasn't very bright to start with, but after she catches Joe's eye, she's pretty much doomed. I found this to be the saddest and most disturbing thing of all. It's so awful, made me feel uncomfortable and angry.

So, yeah. A lot of truly horrible stuff happens in this twisted book, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. And that's because this author knows how to write a great story. She hooks you in, keeps you guessing, and before you realise it: you're totally hooked!

I think I'll have to watch the show now. And read the sequel, of course. But first I need a bit of distance from Stalker Joe. 😕

Wednesday 16 January 2019


Finale (The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #6)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are a LOT of things that I love about this comic book series. One of those things happens to be the very cool MCR-esque book titles.

This one's called Finale--of course--but it also has the very awesome alternative, Brothers and Sisters I Am an Atomic Bomb. I mean, come on, how could you not love that?

Well, we're finally here. The apocalypse has arrived and it's actually one of their own. So the team gets back together, meet at the orchestra and face their enraged foe in such an unexpected and unique showdown.

I loved how they worked together, yet didn't. A lot of how this played out consisted of each of them doing their own thing and surprising everyone. Even the reader!

It was great to see Sséance in action, too.

Oh, and the last page was super cool. Minimal storytelling in one tiny frame, but the surroundings offered so much more. Like a missing someone, info on the front page of the newspaper, and even the person reading it!

I thought this six-part comic book story about a dysfunctional family of superheroes, who aren't keen on being so super and care even less about being heroes, was AWESOME!

The dark imagery totally appealed to me. The flawed and odd characters kept me glued to the pages. The timeless feel was so very cool. The art style just as cool. And the overall vision was just so unique.

In a world full of superheroes, this one managed to be completely different, stood on its own.

I'll definitely be checking more out, and am really looking forward to the show.

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE #5 Thank You For the Coffee by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite #5 (The Umbrella Academy Vol. 1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We're once again thrown into the aftermath of some pretty bad stuff. The Boy used his power in a diner and left behind a traumatised waitress, some of Kraken's secret connections are revealed, something unexpected happens between Rumor & Spaceboy, plus The White Violin is really hellbent on destroying the world. :/

Wow. Wasn't expecting there to be a loss in this issue. And just when I realised how cool this character really was, and how much kudos they deserved. It especially got me because of the kindness offered from one character to another was pretty much destroyed here.


Still enjoying this story and can't wait to see how it ends...

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE #4 Baby, I'll Be Your Frankenstein by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

The Umbrella Academy #4
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE how this issue begins with young Vanya crying and screaming about how she doesn't belong at the Academy, and how Dr. Pogo consoles her. Before we're thrust into the present, into the middle of her being experimented on by The Conductor of the Orchestra Verdammten.

Man, that guy is creepy.

The interactions between Spaceboy, Kraken, Rumor and Séance are fascinating because even though they mostly seem to get along, there's always an undercurrent of animosity between them. Pogo and Boy were a great change of pace, as Boy tries to figure things out.

And you know, I think Dr. Pogo is a very important character that sometimes gets lost in the background. I like him, he's cool and quite a mastermind, really.

As for Vanya: THIS is what I was waiting to see. I knew there was something very special about her and becoming The White Violin certainly takes this story to the next level. I just wish the bad guy wasn't the one to bring this out of her. BUT, with all her fears about not belonging and not being special, her alienation from the others was bound to push her over the edge. :/

Two more issues, as we creep closer to the apocalypse...

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE #3 Dr. Terminal's Answer by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

Dr. Terminal's Answer (The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #3)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third issue features the mostly reunited Umbrella Academy as they go against a bunch of killer robots who attack an amusement park. Led by Dr. Terminal, they wreak havoc as the siblings go on the defence.

Vanya tries to approach the team, but when Kraken shuns her, she turns to an offer she wanted to refuse.

I love the sibling rivalry, the unsettling air around everything, and that no matter how hard these guys try, the apocalypse keeps getting closer.

These characters are so interesting! The pace of the overall story seems to speed ahead sometimes, but you somehow never miss anything. Plus, the way everything unfolds invites your own mind to fill in the blanks.

Also, The Boy is totally fascinating. An old man in a child's body who's stop aging. I'm definitely interested in this!

This issue is full of so much fiery action, that the flames almost leapt off the bright pages. Still loving the art.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE #2 We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

We Only See Each Other at Weddings and Funerals (The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #2)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ooooh. Now we're getting away from the numbers and into names: Spaceboy, Rumor, Séance, Kraken, Boy, Vanya...

Yeah. These are really cool.

This issue was all about the team--or at least part of it--meeting up again to pay respects to Hargreeves. The Boy reveals what happened when he travelled through time, there's some bickering, their freaky mother makes an appearance and Vanya auditions for some really creepy people.

The artwork is really awesome in this series. And the story just gets better. I'm SO intrigued by these characters.

I'm really enjoying this. I can see there's going to be a lot of trouble and plenty of twisted surprises along the way.

Can't wait to read more.

PS. I hate to say it, but the super cool title totally sounds like an MCR song. ;)

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY APOCALYPSE SUITE #1 The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá

The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Beserk (The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to check out this comic book series for AGES. After all, I'm a huge MCR fan and these stories were written by Gerard Way. Besides, the story and artwork all looked really different and dark.

But the main reason I decided to pick them up now is because the TV show is starting next month and I want to check it out. 😁

So, the Umbrella Academy consists of seven kids with strange superpowers. They--along with a bunch of others (43, including these) were suddenly born out of the blue one day. Dr. Reginald Hargreeves goes looking for them, only finds these seven, and becomes their guardian and teacher.

Together, the team fights evil. Well, except for Seven, who doesn't seem to be special at all.

The story starts with the unfortunate The Day the Eiffel Tower Went Berserk, and then jumps to the day One gets some unfortunate news...

This story is so strange. It's weird, curious, is totally dark and doesn't have a definite time and place. It's a mish-mash of different eras thrown together (something I really like) to create an intriguing world I can't wait to explore.

The artwork is bright and as peculiar as the story. The characters are slowly revealed, but we don't get a real sense of them. Not yet. At the moment they're mostly numbers and have no real origin.

And although the writing seems choppy at times, it also really inviting and highly imaginative.

I really like this!

Monday 14 January 2019


A Pocketful of Crows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After DNFing a novella the other day, I decided I wanted a change of pace. So I went through my Kindle books and stumbled on this one.

As soon as I started, I got sucked into the beautiful prose.

A nameless brown girl lives in the woods, where she can hitch a ride in a fox, a lark or a wolf. She can see and experience life through all the animals, and watches from a distance as the Folk go about their business.

But the day she saves a handsome boy from being crushed by his horse, her simple and nature-filled life is turned upside down. Love finds her, consumes her mind and drives her body to the castle, where she becomes trapped by her feelings and tamed by the name her beloved gives her.

All her wildling ways have been stolen by the boy she fell in love with, so when he throws her aside because of family and duty, he leaves her heartbroken, full of rage and determined to seek revenge...

I loved this book! It's such a whimsical story, a lyrical fairy tale told in a way that sometimes blurs the line between prose and poem.

The main character in this story is fascinating. She's strong and self-sufficient, relishes in her wild nature and the world around her. And that's why this tale has such an impact. Love changes her into someone else, softens all the rough edges and fills her with the possibilities of a life she never even knew she wanted.

While she's riding the high of falling in love, she's invincible. But when everything sours, she's betrayed and cast aside, realises love has turned her into a mere shadow of herself. That's when the desperate need to return to who/what she was before turns her motivations into something dark and twisted, fills her with the desperate need for revenge.

I really liked how the characterisation portrayed how wonderful love can be, the heights of happiness and pleasure it can reach. And how quickly it can fade. It also shows how heartbreak changes a person forever. Not to mention how beautiful and brutal the maturing and aging cycle can be.

This book is steeped in folklore and fairy tales and myths and old ballads. The author uses words to paint the lovely, yet tragic story complemented with gorgeous illustrations. The artwork is as wonderful as the story.

I loved every bit of this book, especially the ending because everything came together in such an unexpected way.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

BLACK WINGS by Megan Hart

Briella Blake has always been wicked smart. When she’s invited to attend a special school for gifted students, she finally has the chance to focus on a project that begins to consume her – the ability to recreate and save copies of a person’s entire set of memories. Her friendship with a raven that’s as smart as she is leads to conflict with her mother Marian, who is no longer able to deny that there’s something wrong with her child.

I started the year with the first Flame Tree Press ladies of horror release, and this is their second. Since I was lucky enough to get an ARC, I got stuck into it as soon as I could.

From the very beginning, I was intrigued.

Marian Blake's ten-year-old daughter has trouble keeping friends, drives her teachers crazy and is always scribbling in her notebook. She's a smart kid who's always lost in her secret experiments and has a brain that won't stop thinking.

But when she befriends a raven, her behaviour changes completely. She calls the bird her only friend, and seems to talk to him.

When the opportunity for Briella to attend a special school turns into a blessing in disguise for Marian, because her daughter might finally fit in somewhere. Yet, Briella becomes consumed with her secretive experiment, to the point of being obsessed.

At the same time, something unexpected happens to Marian. Something that might push Briella over the edge...

Wow. This is one creepy story about the darker side of motherhood. 

Marian is such an honest character. I liked her instantly, enjoyed reading her inner thoughts and how hard she tried to overcome the endless cycle of guilt. Guilt about how her daughter turned out. Guilt about her husband working so hard. Guilt about not working outside the home. So much guilt she's pretty much drowning in it.

In fact, her guilt is the reason why she ignores so many of the clues so obvious to anyone else. So many of the awful signs pointing towards her daughter's sinister personality and awful manipulations.

Although this was Marian's heartbreaking story, all the other characters are great too. Dean is such a kindhearted man who loves her unconditionally. Tommy is the jerk of an ex who admits something is wrong with their daughter before she's ready. Marian's dad also provided the opposite outlook on the whole faith thing. Amy was the nice and friendly neighbour who offers real friendship because she doesn't see what's coming.

Everyone fit so well together, and provided a truly spooky insight into how far Briella was willing to go.

Speaking of Briella. OMG. She is infuriating and very hard to like. Actually, she's the only character I didn't like. At all. Not once. That little girl was frustrating as hell from the first time she appears, all the way to the end of the book. And it was sad to watch the adults--especially her mother--trying to reason away her evil ways by claiming she was 'gifted'. As if intelligence encourages evil behaviour.

And Onyx. Wow. I love ravens and crows, but this guy was freaky as hell. Yikes.

I seriously enjoyed this book. It was SO engrossing. I was hooked all the way through because the tension was so thick that even when seemingly everyday mundane things were going on, I was waiting for something terrible to happen. And plenty of horrid things do happen in this book, but what makes everything that much more unsettling is how quietly everything happens.

The horror creeps up on you, and I loved that about this story.

Black Wings is a little The Omen, a bit Rosemary's Baby, and a lot awesome. It's disturbing and the tension drips off the page, kept me on the edge of my seat as the nightmare unfolded. I couldn't put it down, found myself racing towards the shocking conclusion.

It's also the really sad story of a mother and the daughter she just can't reach.

I'm very excited about the inclusion of women to this very cool publisher. Don't get me wrong, the guys are great, but these two titles written by ladies of horror are truly outstanding.

Monday 7 January 2019

Guest blog post from Andrea Johnson

Today, Andrea Johnson--or you might know her as Little Red Reviewer--is dropping in to talk a bit about her Kickstarter project.

Check it out:

Spoiler alert!  The Best of Little Red Reviewer contains spoilers!

Why in the world would I spoil a book in a book review?  Why in the world would I blab about the big reveal? A few reasons, actually.

I read a lot of older books. I do not in any way feel bad about spoiling a plot point in a book that was published 40 some years ago, or in some cases 15 years ago. Trust me, it is not going to affect your reading enjoyment to know how a book from the 70s ends. In fact, I've now given you an interesting bit of trivia for your next party!

If you're reading and reviewing a long running series, how do you talk about the 4th or 5th book in a series without revealing something that happened in a prior book? You probably can't. Don't beat yourself up about it.  I'm specifically thinking right now of the 5th book in Kage Baker's Company series (I've not even finished reading this series yet!). That fifth book, The Life of the World to Come, boy did that book piss me off. I mean, I loved it – it had me laughing out loud, I got really angry at the characters, there were some people I wanted to punch, but then I didn't want to punch them because there is no way they could have known that their little decisions would have affected the earlier books in series in such a way. . . right? Isn't time travel fun? Kage Baker was the master of the long game, and I'm pretty sure what I thought were the “big reveals” in The Life of the World to Come were more like baby reveals.   In my review of that book, I absolutely have to spoil some major plot points in the first two books of the series.  #SorryNotSorry.

That brings me to my favorite reason why you shouldn't be mad that you are going to run into spoilers in The Best of Little Red Reviewer.

Because I'm only spoiling the plot.

By only spoiling the plot, I've not touched the best surprises.  I've not told you how a book will break your heart. I've not told you how and when a certain character will tell you that you're not alone.  I've not told you how the divorced dad will know he's a better father than he thought, how love springs up in surprising places, or how we're already living in the future.

I've not spoiled anything about how the book will help you find your chosen family, how you'll go on the adventure of your life by turning the page,  or how you'll need some time to find your way back to yourself afterwards. I've not told you what your personal experience with the book is going to be, which is the best part of any book.

So yeah, there are spoilers in The Best of Little Red Reviewer.  But I think you'll be okay in the long run.

Click here to learn more about the Kickstarter for The Best of Little Red Reviewer. Can  my best book reviews exist outside the internet? Let's find out!

Andrea, thanks for stopping by!

PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW by Gwendolyn Kiste

Pretty Marys All in a Row
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first heard about this novella on Twitter, where several people mentioned how good it was. So I picked up a copy late last year with the intention of reading it in 2019.

Resurrection Mary. Bloody Mary. Mistress Mary Quite Contrary. Mary Mack. Mari Lwyd. We all know the names from urban legends, nursery rhymes and old myths, but no one knows how they spend their afterlives when they're not haunting.

Well, this is that story.

Rhee spends her time haunting a stretch of highway and grieving over her lost love. Red waits inside a mirror until she's summoned. Mistress plagues the garden with her poisonous plants. Mack is always in the basement building her own coffin. And Lew, from the forgotten Welsh story, carries the skull of her horse with her and drinks too much.

These five Marys live in a house together. They've become sisters and share the fear they've collected from the living at the dinner table. But something strange is happening. There's a darkness seeking them out. One that will surely destroy them...

Wow. This is such a great story!

Not only is the concept amazing--I'm a sucker for urban legends and myths--but the writing style hooked me in from the very beginning.

The story is told by Rhee, and her voice is so haunting and interesting that I got caught up in this unique ghost story so deeply my fingers itched to grab my Paperwhite so I could read a little bit more. To squeeze in another chapter between doing stuff... until I read the last half in one sitting.

I love stories like these. The ones that feature tormented girls and are told in a whimsical manner full of horrific imagery, narrated in such a lyrical way that it becomes eerily beautiful. Tales of forgotten girls, lost and damaged girls, victims of violence so often forgotten. This story captures ALL of that and so much more.

I'm so glad I've finally read this awesome book. I definitely have to read more books written by this author.

And btw, I LOVE the cover.

Sunday 6 January 2019


Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone… 

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released. Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face? The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

I decided to start 2019 with a Flame Tree Press ARC. It also happens to be the first ladies of horror title I've read from this very cool publisher.

As soon as I started, I was hooked by this intriguing story.

Hannah has recently moved into a cosy apartment in Edinburgh. She's ready to start a new life and has managed to get herself a very curious job as a tour guide. In the confines of this underground tourist spot, she dresses up and shares some of the freaky, murderous stories associated with Henderson Close.

But seeing shadows, new construction, dealing with a disappearing workmate and trying not to get on her boss's bad side aren't the only issues Hannah needs to deal with. There's also the case of timeslips, ghosts and an evil presence.

At least she's made a good friend in George. And together, they might be able to solve the mystery of what's going on...

This was such a great book to start the year with! I love ghost stories of every kind, and this one was right up my alley. 

One of the best things about this story is how well the sense of location is portrayed. The vivid descriptions made me feel like I was right there. Not just in the modern day long-abandoned underground tourist attraction, but also in the actual filthy overpopulated streets.

The mystery of the woman who was trying to help the needy and instead met her violent demise intrigued me so much I didn't want to put the book down. But I did, because at the same time, I wanted to consume every word at a good pace.

Another great thing was the characters. Hannah is a hardworking woman looking for a new life and is unaware of the darkness shadowing her. Mairead is a young woman with a strange case of amnesia and a mystery of her own. George is a kind man who likes a drink or two after a hard day at work, and gets as swept up in the evil mess as his co-workers. I really enjoyed their shared scenes, and how their lives were intertwined.

There's a lot of stuff going on in this story, so many layers that tie together in some very clever ways extending through time. I thought the different POVs added to the overall narrative as well as the bits told in the past, slowly revealing the puzzle pieces. But not giving everything away until the right moment.

The Haunting of Henderson Close is an atmospheric and spooky ghost story with a great dose of history. It's also deliciously twisted, violent and dragged me through the claustrophic streets of historical Edinburgh until the unexpected conclusion. I really didn't expect things to turn out that way! 

Oh, and I love the cover. Not only is it really nice, but totally captures the feel of the story.

This also happens to be the first Catherine Cavendish book I've read, but I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.

Saturday 5 January 2019

Some Kind of Goals

Welcome to my 2019 Goals edition. 

As you might (or might not) know, I don't do New Year's resolutions. Personally, those never work for me. Instead, I put together a goals list, which really works for me. 

Although I like to have a yearly goals list, I also make smaller lists on a daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly basis. It helps to streamline what I want to achieve, and caters for the projects/changes that pop up. Because plans were made to be broken, right? 😄

Anyway, these are the things I'd like to achieve this year: 
  • Continue what's now become our awesome habit of going for two daily walks
  • Keep doing two yoga workouts a week 
  • Write between 100-200k words 
  • Read 100 books 
  • Finalise one/two of the YA horror novel first drafts I've got lying around on my hard drive
  • Write two new novels 
  • Write at least one novella 
  • Keep writing short stories & sub more often
  • Take part in NaNoWriMo 
  • Make spring cleaning an ongoing thing to keep clutter at a mininum
  • Actually play games on my 2DS 

So, there you go! That's my list for 2019. It's as ambitious as always, but I'm determined to stay on track and get as much done as I can. 

Are you making any goals this year?

Friday 4 January 2019

Tracking Words & Pages

For several years now, I've posted a screenshot at the beginning of the year of my Tracking Sheets for the previous year.

So of course I'm going to do this now:

Total words written: 217,590. 
Total pages revised 1,431.

As you can see, it looks like 2018 was bottom-heavy in the word count department, and top-heavy for the pages edited. This is because I spent about three months at the beginning of the year working on a novel revision that turned into a bit of a rewrite. 

This story took a lot longer to finish than I expected, but the effort paid off because the book turned out the way I hoped it would. 😊

BTW, if you're wondering where I got the very handy spreadsheet that helped me keep track of everything, it's from Sidney Bristol. She used to share it on her blog annually. Although her blog hasn't been updated for a while, you can still get your hands on the basic spreadsheet HERE and update the year.

Either way, I wanted to give her the credit she deserves because I LOVE using this spreadsheet. It really helps me keep track of my daily, monthly and yearly productivity. ☺

This post is purely about word and page counts, but the other day I posted a detailed breakdown of how I did with my 2018 Goals

I've already set up my spreadsheet for 2019 and look forward to adding all my progress.

Here's to another productive year!

Thursday 3 January 2019

My New Planner

If you've been reading my blog during the last few years, then you know that a New year means a New Planner.

Last year I went back to a Darth Vader Moleskine planner:

But this year I've picked a denim design...

It's actually really cool, and so different to the Star Wars planner of yesteryear.

Also, the cover might be different, but it's still in my favourite format of One Page with Opposite Blank Page. I love being able to keep a record of everything I do daily on the left (calendar side), and then take more detailed notes on the right (lined page).

Now I need to fill it with important dates, add stickers and most importantly, my goals.

Well, what about you?

Do you use a planner?

If you do... Happy planning!  

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Reading 2019


2019 is here and that means setting a new Reading Challenge over at Goodreads:

I've once again set myself the goal of reading 100 books. This total will include novels, novellas, short story collections/anthologies, comic books, poems, etc. read on different devices and printed editions.

And these are my Mini Reading Challenges for this year:
  • Find a better balance between reading books for review, books from my bookshelves, Kindle, Kobo and tablet.
  • Stop putting off highly-anticipated books and read them whenever the mood strikes.
  • Continue to catch up on series books I've fallen behind on.
  • Catch up on finished trilogies, duologies and series. 
  • Read more author short story collections and short story/novella anthologies.
  • Although I hate DNFing books--and feel bad doing it--I MUST keep doing it for books that don't grab me.

I just need to remember this:

(NOTE: For now, I've eliminated library books completely because there were way too many issues with incompetent staff.) 

Anyway, you can keep up with my progress on My Reading Page or at Goodreads

So, how many books do YOU plan to read this year? 

Here's to another awesome year full of reading!

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's 2019? Where are the robots fighting for equal rights? Why aren't we travelling into outer space? When are flying cars going to become a thing?

You know, as cool as all of those things sound, humanity can't be trusted, so I reckon all those things are probably better off staying in fiction.


Anyway, it's time to get stuck into a new year! Time to make a bunch of new goals and plans, and hope 2019 turns out to be a productive, healthy and exciting year.

Also, let's hope this is the year the world gets back on track because I think we're all over the political stupidity, insanity and ridiculous crap.

Have an awesome year!

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