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


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...


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 (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
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.


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


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.


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

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


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.

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