_____________________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Friday, 16 August 2019

Another Week

That's right! It's FridayAnd this week, I'm happy to say that I completed several writing projects I had on my to-do list. Yay. 😁

These are things I've had on my mental to-be-done list for a while. Things I constantly carried in the back of my mind but, for one reason or another, I kept (unintentionally) pushing them back. So, last weekend I decided to move these things from my mental list to my handwritten to-do list.

That way, I actually set deadlines for myself, which always pushes me to complete the tasks. I don't know why, but when I write things down on paper, I hold myself accountable.

So, what were these things? Here's the list:
  • Complete third draft, read-thru & sub latest short story WIP.
  • Proofread the previously contracted story I recently got my rights back for.
  • Write two guest blog posts & email.
  • Answer interview questions & email.
  • Reach the halfway mark on IT.

This list might not look/sound like much, but I broke everything up into different days, and it took most of the week to get through. I managed to cross everything off by the end of Thursday. Plus, I have another two finished short stories on file. 👍

Then, we celebrated by going to one of our favourite thrift stores. Where I found a LOT of awesome books. Our apartment is slowly becoming a books and games library, and I love it! 😁

I also (really) like productive weeks. It makes me feel quite accomplished. Especially when it involves writing pieces that were stuck in my brain for ages. 

Although my mind is never clear--because there are always ideas and plans and stuff jammed inside--I'm now in a place where I can start thinking about other projects. And that's what I'd like to concentrate on next week: planning my next project/s.

I have a pretty good idea what I'd like to work on next, but need to get pen + paper to sort through my thoughts on paper before getting stuck into a nice lot of brainstorming.

But first, I'm going to enjoy the weekend.

I hope you do too. Have a good one!


Thursday, 8 August 2019

Strange Writing Thoughts

Yeah, that sounds like the best title for a post about my jumbled writing thoughts for this week.

As we all know, story ideas come out of nowhere and everywhere. Sometimes I wake up with one. Other times a dream sparks something bigger. Walking fills me with inspiration. A song might become an unexpected story nugget. Even a word while reading can make something happen. Or even a creepy picture posted on Twitter...

I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say. 😬

Sometimes, these ideas are so well formed I can write a 4k first draft in a day. I actually did exactly this several months ago. I woke up with the story in my head, and had the first draft written by the end of the day.

My latest idea, another one that wanted to be told RIGHT NOW, was a little different. 

First, the character--who happens to be from the same series as the story I mentioned above--appeared out of nowhere. The time and setting were there too. Then later that day, the beginning struck me. But still, I needed a few days to mull everything over and double check a few details.

By the time I sat down to write with pen & paper a few days later, I handwrote 4 pages without stopping. It flowed well. I too notes and left it alone again.

During that time, the story was constantly in the back of my mind. Percolating in the background. Forming deeper roots than I expected. But no matter how many times I thought about how it would all turn out, I couldn't put everything together. Things weren't clicking.

At this stage I knew that the best thing to do was to just write. That was the only way I was going to find out if it was going to work or not.

So I grabbed my laptop with the intention of typing everything up, but on that day Windows 10 decided to be an a-hole and needed a thousand updates and restarts. (Okay, so it was more like five but that's a lot. A LOT.)

I was lucky to get the pages typed up (added up to 677 words) and put everything aside. Again. I was too frustrated with my laptop to continue.

Yesterday, I decided nothing was going to stop me. I sat at my Writing Nook (more on that another time), opened the Word doc and started typing. I kept writing until lunchtime and--by that time I knew how everything was going to end--went back to it after eating.

Not long after that, I finished the first draft. It turned out to be 3,884 words. It's a bit rough but the main story is there. Finally out of my head and ready to be revised.

Do you understand the title of this post now? 😁 

I had all the pieces of this story inside my head for a few weeks but they were scattered, and no amount of thinking or note-taking could put them together. BUT, as soon as I started typing, everything fell into place and made total sense.

It's strange and wondrous and weird. Every story is as different as its process. 

To me, that feels quite magical.✨


Friday, 2 August 2019

This Week


Hey! I'm going to start this post with this awesome Demain Publishing graphic:


I love how this features all the great Adrian Baldwin covers. These are also the latest Short Sharp Shocks! released last week. And of course, that includes mine. Yay!

I've actually had a really nice week. Even though we had a few rainy days, I didn't let the weather affect me. There were too many things to focus on, that's for sure.

It's tax time here in Oz, so we got some pesky real life stuff out of the way, which always feels good. Now that our daughter is 18, finished school, and isn't even living in this country anymore, this is the last year of long-winded claims.

So, what else did I do? I read a fantastic YA horror book called TEETH IN THE MIST by Dawn Kurtagich and reviewed it yesterday for Hachette. It's awesome. It's also the third book I've read by this author and I enjoyed all of them.

Now, it's time to get stuck into IT. Yep. This'll be my first time reading this encyclopedia-sized book and I'm super excited. I promised myself that I would read this book sometime during 2019 and before the second movie is released.

There's no better time to read it than a month before the movie hits. 😉

Oh, this week my Guest Review of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina prequel, SEASON OF THE WITCH, was posted at Kendall Reviews. It was really nice of Gavin to host my review of a book that I adored.

You know I LOVE the show, and this book totally felt like another season. So cool.

Hubby and I finally watched GOOD OMENS on Amazon Prime. We watched an episode a night for most of the week, then binged the last two on Thursday night. We loved it. This show was heaps of fun, and I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than the book. Yep. I did.

Asides from all this cool stuff, I also received the Flame Trees ARC I won in a Twitter contest. I really enjoyed this author's first book, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Now that most of the reorganising of my writing & reading nooks are done, I started writing a new short story. Yes! This one is an unexpected idea I had about a character from my Sierra Fox series. It's strange how many of these are hitting my brain years after I finished writing the series. And the five books are no longer available.

BUT, a story that is available is BREAKING THE HABIT. Actually, today, the first two fantastic reviews posted made me grin like an idiot because both readers totally got this little story of mine. If you're curious, you can read them both on Goodreads. 😍

You can also grab yourself a copy for 99c. That's a bargain! Here are the links.

Well, there you have it. This turned out to be a great week. And now, we've got the weekend ahead of us...

Have a good one!


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

TEETH IN THE MIST by Dawn Kurtagich

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil's Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations... 

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember--so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

 In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward--one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever. 

 1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it. 

 Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching... 


After reading The Dead House and The Creeper Man, and enjoying the hell out of both of them, I couldn't wait to read Dawn Kurtagich's latest release.

As soon as Roan arrives at Mill House, things start going wrong. Her father has recently died and has sent her to live with a man she doesn't even know. The secrets she keeps are only surpassed by the ones everyone else is keeping in this weird house. And there's someone--or something--watching her.

All Zoey wants to do is get her father back. So she runs away to the place that caused his madness. But Mill House feels weird and soon, along with her best friend, she'll find out the horrible truth...

Wow. This book is amazing. In more ways than one. Not only because the writing style is so engrossing and at times, disorienting. Not just because the characters are all so interesting. But definitely because of all these things and so much more.

A sense of impending doom weighs down on every page of this gorgeously wicked tome.

The story is told in the point of view of Roan Eddington and Zoey Root, but also includes the bizarre diary entries of Hermione Smith. These three women, who suffer their own personal nightmarish tragedy in Mill House, are all somehow intertwined. There might be centuries between them, but the darkness of a curse that began so long ago ripples out through time. Affecting each one in an interconnected way that is truly chilling.

I loved the format of this book. Not just the way it's written, because that's cool enough. I mean, there are journal entries and camera footage and an old diary. There are three stories happening at once and all move in perfect pace with each other. But not just that, I loved the aesthetics of the actual book. It's beautiful. The illustrations, photos, fonts and layout are all awesome. Totally adds to the experience in a way that helped everything flow from start to finish.

This is definitely a haunting book that totally gets under your skin.

Teeth in the Mist is an atmospheric tapestry of three intriguing tales woven together so expertly, they become one creepy book. I was hooked, didn't want to put it down, and when I reached the shocking ending, I wanted more.

As I mentioned the other day on Twitter, Dawn's creepy kind of horror is totally my thing. I love how she dares to go wherever the story needs to go. No matter how dark things get, she'll drag us down with her characters. And that's something I love in my horror. 😁

I can't express how much I loved this story of evil ambition and greed. It's fantastic!


Teeth in the Mist, August 2019, ISBN 9780316478472, Little, Brown Young

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Cover Talk


I love cover art. Checking out new covers, and trying to figure out clues about what's hidden inside, is one of the many things I love about books.

I've bought books purely based on their covers. So yeah, I'm a fan.

If it's for a story I've written, I love imagining what the cover might look like. I can't help but wonder what the artist might come up with. But nothing beats actually seeing what a cover artist comes up with for the first time. It's so exciting.

Today, I want to talk about this beauty:


This eerie cover was made by Adrian Baldwin and I love it.

One of the coolest things about the Short Sharp Shocks! series is that as soon as you see one, you know that it's part of the series.

Sure, they all have the cool and eye-catching crimson Demain Publishing border, but it's more than that. Every cover is pitch black, and features one element that fits perfectly with the story: a single image lost in all that darkness. Something that's somehow highly appropriate to each book.

I love the seemingly simplicity of these covers. At first glance, they appear so simple, but there are many unexpected layers. Whatever is featured on the cover is directly related to the story that follows, but the reader won't know exactly how it fits until they read the book.

Take my one. On the surface, BREAKING THE HABIT is a story about newlyweds eager to get their honeymoon started. It's also a tense and bloody, heartbreaking story about a woman with a dark secret and a past she's desperately trying to outrun. When I tried to picture the cover, I couldn't wait to see what the artist would come up with.

Then I saw the cabin/cottage and fell in love with it instantly. It's genius! The perfect image to provide a hint of the story without any spoilers. The place where BREAKING THE HABIT is actually set is the only possible image that could convey so much in such a spooky way.

The darkness surrounding the cabin/cottage is also perfect, because it reflects so much about the turmoil inside Isla's mind. As well as what's going on at this precise moment in her life.

See, so many clues are hidden in this awesome cover. Of course, I wrote the story so I see a lot more than the casual observer, but if you read the book you'll definitely understand what I'm talking about. 

Hope you enjoyed my thoughts on Adrian's great cover. 😁


My Short Sharp Shocks! story is now available from:




Friday, 26 July 2019

BREAKING THE HABIT is now available!


That's right!

The 26th is here, which means that my Short Sharp Shocks! story is now available from Demain Publishing.


All Isla wanted to do was enjoy her honeymoon. She was looking forward to relaxing on the beach and enjoying cocktails with the love of her life. Instead, she ends up in the middle of the woods in a cozy cabin, where the past she's worked so hard to bury can find her. Turning what should be the best night of her life, into a bloody fight to stay alive.


You can grab a copy from:


And it'll only cost you 99c! 😁


ADD TO GOODREADS


I really love the cover Adrian Baldwin made for my story about a newlywed couple who gets more than they bargained for on their honeymoon.

There's plenty of blood, some heartbreak and secrets that refuse to stay in the past.

Also, my story isn't the only one that was released. There are a handful of other Short Sharp Shocks! available today, and you can check them out HERE.

I'm very excited about this story, and even more excited about being included in an awesome series featuring so many great authors.

Yay!

Thursday, 25 July 2019

SEASON OF THE WITCH by Sarah Rees Brennan

Season of the Witch (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It’s no secret that I love the Netflix series, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Two awesome seasons, a holiday special, the comic books—I’ve watched/read them all.

When I found out a prequel novel was going to be released, I pre-ordered it ASAP and started reading almost as soon as the lovely book arrived. Now, thanks to Kendall Reviews, I get to share my thoughts with the world.

Summer is slowly coming to an end and Sabrina Spellman still isn’t sure if Harvey Kinkle loves her or not. But she’s a witch and has ways of finding out what people don’t want to share. Not to mention a bored cousin who’s willing to help with any/all mischievous deeds.

Except, magic isn’t something one should tamper with for selfish reasons and can be tricky. When the spell backfires, Sabrina’s forced to embrace her witchy ability while not forgetting her mortal side, and depending on her oddball family…

OMG. I absolutely adored this book!

I have to admit that I was a bit worried about how Sabrina’s voice would come across. I wondered if the story would feel forced in order to fit into what we already know about the peculiar residents of Greendale. Well, I’m super excited to say that there was nothing to worry about. Everything about this book is fantastic and flawless.

Sabrina’s voice is awesome and authentic. Actually, this prequel sets up the events of the show perfectly. It also effortlessly answers a bunch of questions I didn’t even know I had.

The blend of cute and bubbly is well balanced with the dark side always creeping up on Sabrina. No matter how hard she tries to stay on the straight and narrow, or how sweet she is, her curiosity gets the best of her and leads to a whole lot of trouble. It’s a character flaw that makes this young witch’s chilling adventures very appealing. She’s got a good heart, yet can’t help but delve into a little wicked behaviour.

What she does to Harvey, how she gets caught up with a water spirit, the way she damages her close relationship with Ambrose. All of it turns into a test—a very entertaining test that gripped me all the way through. I had a hard time putting this down, and was surprised by how much I managed to read every time I ‘wanted to squeeze one chapter in’.

Another very cool thing about this book is the format. Sabrina’s first POV dominates the book, but we also get a peek into the minds of a bunch of very familiar characters. Their POVs are excellently woven into the black pages (seriously, the pages are black with white print), giving us a glimpse into several things we didn’t know about what’s really inside their hearts and minds.

Yeah, asides from being an awesome book, it’s also really pretty and I love how the beautiful cover complements the already established aesthetics of this witch world.

Season of the Witch is the perfect prelude into Sabrina Spellman’s dangerous and wicked life, with a twist of the cosy. Her close-knit unconventional family is a delight to read about. The dark world of witches and the mortals able to balance everything out for this half-mortal, half-witch never cease to scheme and surprise. It’s well written, a lot of fun, fits perfectly with the show, and is a great addition to Sabrina’s expanding world.

No matter what season, Greendale always feels like Halloween and I love that.

I actually pictured all the actors while reading the book, which just added to the fun. And you know what else? It made me want to watch Sabrina all over again. 😁

Oh, and the great news is, there are more books coming! I can’t wait to read more…


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

An interview!


I've got another cool update!

Today, Demain Publishing posted an interview about my upcoming Short Sharp Shocks! story, BREAKING THE HABIT. 

You can read it HERE.

If you want to find out a bit about the story, my writing process and a bunch of other stuff, go and check it out. 


It's SO exciting! 😃



Monday, 22 July 2019

CIRCE by Madeline Miller

Circe My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished reading this stunning book and absolutely loved it. It took me a few weeks to read because we've been really busy doing real-life stuff, and that means that I went days without picking it up. 😞

But, none of that matters because taking my time with this mythological blend of dark fantasy, adventure and horrific monsters was great.

I love Greek mythology, and have always been fascinated by Circe, so of course I enjoyed the hell out of this book.

Helios might be the sun god and a Titan, but he's also a mean bastard who doesn't care about his daughter. Circe's not pretty enough and her voice grates on his nerves, so he rejects her. But he's not the only one, even her mother and siblings ridicule and ignore her.

Circe leads an isolated, unloved existence, so she turns her attention to witchcraft and her fascination with mortals. When one of her spells angers Zeus, she's exiled to the island of Aiaia.

Her exile serves as a personal adventure that helps her power grow, leads to exciting discoveries, heartbreak and some horrific situations...

Wow. This book is full of so many familiar players in Greek mythology. All seen from the POV of Circe. It was so cool to see Hermes pass himself off as a friend while seducing and spreading gossip. Daedalus was such an interesting and great man. Odysseus was an interesting, yet vain man. Athena was as wrathful as expected.

There were a lot of very cool characters and monsters, but the ones that surprised me the most were Penelope and Telemachus. I didn't expect Odysseus' family to serve such a vital part in Circe's story.

Yeah, let's talk about how awesome the characterisation of Circe is. I mean, she might be a goddess and a powerful witch, but she's also a woman easily lost in her loneliness. She never fit in with her family, everyone who ventured into her life ended up taking advantage of her (or left her) and no matter how hard she tried to make people happy, it always backfired.

Even when she offers hospitality to the needy, they manage to betray her in the worst possible way. It was truly sad, but great to see how she uses experience to hone her skills. No matter what happens, Circe still managed to open her heart and home because it was in her nature.

I love stories about girls/women who have often been described as evil or cunning, but are really kind and powerful, posing such a threat that they're turned into false villains. And Circe seems to be one of many in Greek mythology.

The shitty behaviour of the Gods and Titans was something else I enjoyed. Not to mention how cool it was how other nations and gods are mentioned and co-exist alongside the Greeks. Very clever.

I'm so glad I finally read this because it was just as wonderful and dark as I hoped it would be. The writing is beautiful, the story fantastic, the cover gorgeous the main character is amazing, and THAT ending... Loved this!



Monday, 15 July 2019

I have some news!

Hey!

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw my Saturday tweet featuring a very cool announcement and a new cover.

That's right, I've signed a contract with Demain Publishing for my novelette, BREAKING THE HABIT. I'm SO excited about this upcoming release for several reasons.

This is my first new release in quite a while. Several years, actually. So it's awesome to get the opportunity to have a new story out in the wild for a new audience. So I want to thank Dean M. Drinkel for giving me the chance to share my horror story with the world.

What makes this even more exciting is that this story is going to be a part of the very cool series of stories called Short Sharp Shocks! A series that includes stories written by Barbie Wilde and Calvin Demmer, to name a few.

My story is #27. And it's SO EXCITING!

These are the books that are already available:




The other day, I received the awesome cover, made by Adrian Baldwin. Not only does it match the others in the series, but it also features something that is central to the story.

Here it is:


Isn't this creepy and cool? I love it!

As soon as I have more information--blurb, pre-order link, etc--I'll be sure to post about it here. But for now, I'm super excited and had to write a little something to share this awesome news.

Thanks for checking in.

Have a great week! 🌞

Friday, 5 July 2019

ESIO TROT by Roald Dahl

Esio Trot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last week, hubby surprised me with a Roald Dahl box set and this was one of the books included. The cover's cute, the blurb intrigued me and it's quite short, so I picked it up today and read it in one sitting.

Mr Hoppy is a lonely man who lives in a concrete building above the widow Mrs Silver. He's secretly in love with her but she's only got eyes for her pet tortoise, Alfie.

The day Mrs Silver mentions to him that she wishes Alfie would grow bigger, a nefarious plan takes shape in Mr Hoppy's mind...

OMG. This book is pretty much an allegory for loneliness, and what an obsessed man is willing to do to get what he wants. It's not a nice thing and it's a shame he didn't get busted, but sometimes good people do shitty things. Sometimes, even the simplest of manipulations are harmful. And this guy, he wanted a particular someone so badly he was prepared to be terrible.

Mr Hoppy's plan to make Mrs Silver recite a magic spell of sorts so he can replace Alfie with one of the many tortoises he purchases is truly awful. It's conniving and mean.

Not to mention how shitty it is that Mrs Silver doesn't even notice poor Alfie's gone. BTW, I loved Alfie. He was adorable! During the whole time, I couldn't wait to find out what happened to him, and I was glad to see he had his own ending.

I also think it's important to read the Author's Note at the very beginning because after finishing the story, it puts everything into perspective.

This book might not be full of loveable characters, but I still enjoyed it. It's clever, in a very twisted way. Seriously, it's quite messed up when you think about it...



Thursday, 4 July 2019

GLOW #1 by Tini Howard & Hannah Templer

GLOW #1GLOW #1 by Tini Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Netflix show GLOW, so when I found out there was a comic book series, I had to check out the first issue.

The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling think they've got a weekend off, but Sam ruins their plans by announcing he's signed them up for the Reseda Wrestlefest. And now, they all have to come up with creative ways to fund the trip...

Like the show, this was a lot of fun. Actually, it pretty much focuses on the lighter and fun aspects, instead of the deeper underlining serious and dramatic stories the show does so well. And hey, I'm totally okay with that.

The main story focuses on getting the girls to the actual event, while Carmen freaks out at the thought of not being taken seriously by other wrestlers. But once they get there, the ladies find out they've got something else to worry about--unexpected competition.

I also thought the artwork perfectly captured the characters, their personalities and the colours are all 80s, baby. It's all so pretty and bright.

This is really cool, and I definitely want to read more. Also, I can't wait for the third season!


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

THE MIND'S PLAGUE & OTHER BITES OF BRUTALITY by Morgan K Tanner

Three friends search for an infamous internet video of an urban legend with devastating consequences; a passionate drummer joins the band of his dreams, or perhaps his nightmares; a man tries to find fame in a world where the mundane call the shots; and a grieving father loses his grip on reality. 

 These ten stories delve into a world of darkness and suffering, where the terrors are more vivid than they may appear. Blood is spilt, minds are destroyed, as madness ultimately reigns victorious


Earlier this year I received a copy of An Army of Skin from this great author, and I loved it. So when he sent me an eARC of his short story collection, I couldn't wait to get stuck into it. 

I mean, as soon as I saw the old-school horror cover and read the title, I knew whatever awaited me within these pages would not be for the weak of stomach or heart. 

And I was totally ready!


THE MIND'S PLAGUE:

Three friends get together during a rare day off from school hoping to have a bit of fun. Instead, they find a boring DVD stash and start drinking beer. When one of them suggests they try to find a creepy video online, another starts feeling weird... 

I really enjoyed this messed up little tale. I'm a sucker for urban legends, so one that deals with something this creepy was right up my alley. 


AN ADHORRENT ART:

A weird man walks along the streets of the town he claims to have created using human bodies... 

Yikes. This was quite macabre and certainly not for anyone with a weak stomach. The descriptions of the corruptive bodily creations are so vivid the scenes featuring streets and buildings played inside my head like a horrendous movie. 


FOR DAVID:

A celebrity stalker shadows every move of the actor David Brannigan, but can't seem to catch him anywhere... 

OMFG. 

This story takes the stalker trope to a whole new level of fucked up. And by that I mean that it seems like a straightforward, maybe even familiar, situation about an obsessed fan. Until it isn't. Until the trippy narrative washes over you and makes you very aware of what's really going on. 

And then, everything you just read clicks into horrid place. 

It's SO very twisted and the writing in this is outstanding.


CONFLAGRATION DESECRATION:

Steve is a drummer looking for a band to join. He can't believe his luck when he gets an instant audition... 

That's all I'm going to say about this story because I don't want to spoil anything. Seriously, the less you know the more you'll enjoy it. 

Because seriously, this story blew me away. Not just because I liked the main character. Not just because the plot is so disturbing it's brilliant, but because the writing was outstanding. So crisp in the description, that the words made music play in my ears. 

I seriously LOVED this one! 


THE PRICE OF FAME:

All he wants is to have his own corner of fame in this very crowded online market. But he doesn't want it handed to him. He's going to earn it, with the flesh of the fake celebrity...

This was a clever story about the easy come, easy go nature of fame in the 21st century. Portrayed in the most brutal way possible, it examines how shallow and flimsy our celebrity society has become. 

Although this is definitely not for the squeamish, I enjoyed the very dark humorous undertones about the whole thing. It almost serves as a gory tale with a moral at the end, a PSA announcement for the sheep mentality we see WAY too often nowadays. The way people are 'devoted' to these online personalities not because they like or respect them, but in hopes of being noticed themselves. 

It's a silly endless cycle perfectly captured in this cunning allegory. 

Man, that narrator was really something! His reaction to the way his every grotesque action got the exact opposite response he wanted, totally cracked me up. I'm still chuckling. 


RELUCTANT BLOODLUST:

Ugh isn't having a good day. After all, he's now a zombie, can't remember his former life and hates the leader of his group... 

What a cool and interesting zombie tale with a gruesome and melancholy twist ending. This story was short and sweet, as well as gross and fun. Hit all the right zombie notes. 

I like me a nice slice of zombie pie every now and then.


THIEVES:

Two guys hoping for an easy score inside the home of a disabled man get much more than they bargained for... 

Ha! This one was definitely a case of you get what you deserve if you break into someone's house hoping to take advantage of them. Of course, these situations aren't usually met with this kind of horror, but it was well worth reading! 


GRIEVING:

A grieving father's guilt after losing his daughter drives him to do the unthinkable. Except, what Gary actually ends up doing is worse than what he leads you to believe... 

Yikes. What starts out as a tormented father who simply can't let go of his daughter after she dies, slowly becomes so much worse. 

This guy's such an unreliable narrator, but mostly because of his delusions. And the twist doesn't come until The End. 

Well played.


AS GOOD AS DEAD:

When Peter wakes up next to his wife, he's got a headache and doesn't remember a damn thing about the night before. So he gets on with his day, and when he realises what really happened, he'll wish he was still asleep... 

Short and gross is probably the best way to describe this one. It's like a really bad headache personified and a man's worst nightmare all rolled into one uncomfortable situation. 😳


ROOM 405:

Philip's nightmare is full of demons chasing him, and he soon finds out that chanting isn't the only thing that follows him out once he wakes up... 

Oh, I really liked this one! After all, it features one of my fave ghost story tropes. The confusion and tension carries forth from beginning to end, adding some next-level creepiness to the experience. 

This one's a super spooky story.


Well, what can I say about these ten fantastic stories? I can tell you that although I had different levels of appreciation for each one, I enjoyed the hell out of ALL of them.

If you enjoy horror dripping with dark humour, characters with some pretty heavy baggage, real-life situations twisted into the grotesque until they barely resemble anything coherent and are as gross as they are brilliant, then you'll love these.

I sure did. I was totally in the mood for this book of weird and wondrous brutalities.

Asides from the actual characters and the variety of plots and twisty tropes, the writing is SO good. Strong and bloody imagery like the ones contained within these pages just wouldn't work if the words piecing all the fragments together wasn't vivid and awesome.

I've got nothing but good things to say about the horrors threatening to bleed out of this book. Can't wait to see what the author comes up with next.

This wicked short story collection will be available in August, and I reckon you should definitely check it out!


Friday, 28 June 2019

LOCAL GIRLS by Alice Hoffman

Local Girls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed this book from my thrift-store-finds-TBR pile with the intention of getting a sample. But Alice Hoffman's writing is so lovely and magical that I instantly got swept away in the story.

By the time I put the book down, I'd read over 70 pages. And this morning, I sat down to read a bit more and ended up finishing the rest.

Gretel Samuelson lives in Franconia with her family. Her absent father is always arguing with her unappreciated mother. Her older brother is so intelligent all he cares about is school. But when her father eventually leaves, her mother gets depressed and eventually becomes ill, and her brother stops caring about anything.

At least Gretel has her best friend Jill by her side, but as time moves along even that dynamic changes. And eventually everything in Gretel's life starts crumbling around her...

Wow. What a story!

It's fast-paced and emotional, starts when Gretel is a kid and takes her through her teen years and beyond. It's the kind of story that is grounded in real life because it focuses on the hardship of people's everyday lives, while throwing a little magic realism into the mix.

And it's done so effortlessly that once you start, you can't put the book down because you have to find out where it's going, where it's going to lead, and how it's going to end.

The issues Gretel's tale deals with are heavy: divorce, depression, cancer, mental illness, teen pregnancy, addiction and death. It's a total tragedy, because the awful things Gretel and her family deal with are dark and real. Stuff people suffer through every single day of their lives. Just like in real life, there's no cheating here, the consequences are real and devastating.

Yet, it's still such a wonderful book to read. In spite--or maybe because--of the trials Gretel goes through, that she manages to hold onto her strength means so much more in the end.

This is a lovely, but often sad, story about family, love, friendship and the way different people deal with hardships.

Also, there are several POV shifts that had the potential to be jarring, but totally worked at showing what other characters were going through.

Alice Hoffman is an amazing author, and the way she strings words together takes the reader on an emotional and unstable ride that will break your heart, make you cry and smile all at the same time.

I loved this!


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm not joking when I say it's about time I FINALLY read this book.

It's hard to believe that someone who loves vampires as much as I do still hadn't read DRACULA until now. But it's true, this was my first time.

I've had a paperback copy of this book since I first read FRANKENSTEIN back in high school. Yet, I kept putting it off. Or forgot about it. Or assumed the movie was enough. But I was wrong.

As great as the movie was, you have to read the book to really learn why Bram Stoker's tale is so amazing that we're still talking about it now.

I don't think I need to go into too much detail about the plot since we all know how the simple tale of Count Dracula hosting a young solicitor's clerk, who is to help him with some business affairs in London, leads Jonathan Harker to a super creepy castle in Transylvania and starts a chain reaction filled with innocence lost, lots of blood, and an oddball team determined to end an ancient evil...

Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, there's SO MUCH story here. So many weird and wonderful things. The tense atmosphere shadows the narrative all the way through. A bunch of very likeable characters. True friendships forged easily and honestly. And a lot of intelligence, too. Some which comes from the woman who finds herself caught in the middle of everything.

Mina Harker is a character I liked from the moment she appeared on the page. Her voice is gentle and lady-like, yet raw and honest. She's happy in her roles as friend to Lucy and wife to Jonathan, yet is full of ideas and has a logical mind that is hard to ignore. Even when the men try to keep her out of the trouble they're all facing--because they want to protect her--it soon becomes obvious that they need her.

I really liked ALL the characters: Jonathan because he's nice, hard-working, reasonable and truly loves Mina. Dr. John Seward because he's an interesting fellow who runs an asylum, yet doesn't seem to conduct cruel experiments. Professor Abraham Van Helsing because he's so  clever, open-minded and gives the best monologues. Arthur Holmwood (aka Lord Goldalming) because his devotion to Lucy continues even after her death. Quincey Morris because he's an interesting American and a valued member of an unlikely team.

And what I liked best about all these men is how they stay friends even after being in direct competition. There's no toxic masculinity here, or the need for pissing contests. It's so cool how they're not afraid to show emotion and comfort each other without a second thought. And how strong their group is because of their determination to defeat a common foe.

I found the unity between these characters to be so refreshing. No one was fighting, or trying to make someone else look bad. These male characters were SO GOOD! So human.

The way the story is told totally worked for me. There are journal entries, letters and telegrams, from a bunch of different POVs. And everyone shows their diaries so freely, to help put all the clues together!

As for Dracula, I'm glad he was a malicious shape-shifting monster with only one thing on his mind. He was mysterious and awful, sneaky and a bitch to defeat. Not to mention that I thought the three Brides were creepy af.

I would love to read stories about what these freaky ladies got up to while the Count was away chasing other girls--cough--I mean, other business ventures.

Oh, and after everything that happened, I loved that ending note.

It might have taken me a while to get to this book, but as they say: better late than never. And I'm so glad I finally read it because I LOVED every minute of this long and detailed book.



Monday, 17 June 2019

MATILDA by Roald Dahl

Matilda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this book was a pleasure I must repeat some other time in the future. I love Roald Dahl, and this book is TOTALLY amazing in the quirkiest most magical way.

Matilda Wormwood is a little girl with a family that doesn't deserve her. Her father is a shonky car salesman and her mother is a self-involved fool. Her brother is pretty much invisible. None of them have time for the tiny girl and treat her so badly she prefers to spend time alone.

Did I mention that she's a genius? Yep. She teaches herself how to read by going to the library, and even learns maths on her own. So, by the time she starts school, she's already ahead of the other kids. And that's when Miss Honey takes notice of her brilliance.

But Headmistress Trunchbull won't hear of it. She's a tough meanie who hates kids and constantly insults and abuses them. Everyone is scared of the beast of a woman.

She didn't count on Matilda, though...

Like I said above, this book is something special. Not only is it funny and an interesting story I was totally into, but I adored Matilda. She's so cute and in spite of her terrible parents, she's smart and kind and thoughtful. A wonderful character to read about.

And she loves reading!

I seriously LOVED every minute of this book.

Of course I knew I would, Roald Dahl was an amazing storyteller who could spin excellent stories featuring some truly vile characters, but always balanced them out with terrific ones you find yourself cheering on. And there's always just a hint of magic that enhances the plot.

Plus it was super fun and features some cool Matilda pranks. 😄

The illustrations throughout the book are so simple, but perfect in every way. They really enhance the book and remind me of the Dahl books I read when I was kid.

I LOVE THIS BOOK!


Sunday, 16 June 2019

Random Reading Thoughts

Hey, how are you today?

It's been a while since I posted anything, so I thought I might talk about the recent change in my reading habits.

For the first time in years, I don't have any ARCs or review books left on my TBR pile.

This might not sound like a big thing but for the last ten years, I've been reviewing books for several publishers. And because of that, I kept pushing review books to the top of my TBR pile.

Getting the chance to read books before they're released is an amazing opportunity and I loved doing it. The downside is that all my other books took a backseat. I mean, there's only so many hours in the day. 😵

Being a HUGE reader and a bibliophile means that I buy books all the time. A LOT OF BOOKS. From online stores, bookstores, Kindle store, Kobo store and a variety of thrift stores. And I buy them because I want to read them, but I kept running out of time.

Now, I find myself in a strange--yet freeing--place. I can finally read whatever I want, whenever I want. And I've been taking full advantage of this. I'm digging back into my Paperwhite and starting to go through my many thrift store finds. And it's GREAT!

Another unexpected thing is that I'm also more relaxed about when I read. As well as not feeling as bad about DNFing books. 

Maybe now I'll also get the chance to catch up on my fave series and finish off the ones that are complete.

BUT, don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean I won't review books for authors and publishers in the future. Of course I will. It just means that I won't be as swamped as I was before.

Happy reading! 😁📚


Thursday, 13 June 2019

MONEY SHOT by Christa Faust

Money Shot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've had my eye on for a while, so I was really excited when it was included in the Hard Case Crime Humble Bundle.

Angel Dare is a former porn star with an attitude and a self-critical eye. She also runs her own agency, taking care of younger girls in the industry. The day one of her oldest friends asks her to make one last movie with the hottest male adult star at the moment, she reluctantly agrees.

But when she gets to the location, Angel finds herself in a bad situation. One that nearly gets her killed, and forces her to become a fugitive...

Wow. This book really kicks you where it hurts. It's raw and gritty, violent and fast. It's also full of awful untrustworthy characters with vile intentions.

Angel is not one of those. I loved her attitude! Enjoyed the hell out of spending time with her as she goes from almost-dead to determined to get revenge, before becoming a total kick-ass vigilante.

The way she presents the hardcore and often ugly world of adult entertainment is interesting. When she finds herself falling down the disgusting world of sex trafficking and slaves, things get uncomfortable. The deeper she digs while trying to find out who tried to kill her and why, the darker things get.

And that's another awesome thing I liked about this story. Angel wants revenge, and when she gets the chance she doesn't back down. She doesn't chicken out, follows through with her plan and is quite creative with her actions.

Faust's writing style was very cool. Angel's voice is clear, intriguing and provided such a riveting story that when I got to the end, I wanted there to be more.

This is a great action-packed book that at times made me feel dirty and appalled, but kept me glued all the way through. It's too bad about Malloy, I liked him because he was handy.

I really need to read the next one.


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

DOGGEM by John F Leonard

Doggem: A Tale of Toy Dogs and Dark Deeds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few months ago I read a very creepy short story written by this author, so I was looking forward to checking this one out too.

Doggem is the class toy. A stuffed dog that gets passed around the class so the teacher can assess the kids in her class, as well as the parent involvement.

When George gets to take Doggem home for the holidays, his parents don't seem to care. They're too wrapped up in the visit they're planning to Grandma's house. And when they get there, something awful looms in the woods around the cottage...

That was such a great story!

I have to admit, when I first started reading, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it because the main character was wandering all over the place. But, of course he would--he's a toy!

Anyway, it didn't take long for me to get sucked into the story because Doggem's voice became virtually impossible to shake. The story he witnesses while in the care of George was quite unexpected. Wow! Didn't expect it to go there. Didn't think this toy would experience something so... dark.

Trust me, I'm not just talking about the end to George's family drama, I'm also talking about where Doggem ends up. It's almost like two endings in one story, which totally fits because the plushie is like a fly on the wall watching everything unfold.

Yep. I really enjoyed this! And it also reminded me of the time my daughter actually did this at school. A strange experiment, but one that seems to work. LOL.

This is a shortie worth reading.


Tuesday, 4 June 2019

PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK by Joan Lindsay

Picnic at Hanging Rock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock is an Australian classic I've wanted to read for ages. After watching the TV show last year and picking up three different editions of the book, I decided it was time to FINALLY read this beauty.

It's Valentine's Day, in the year 1900, when a group of girls attending the Appleyard College for Young Ladies go on an excursion to the nearby Hanging Rock. Hanging Rock is a rock formation found deep in the Victorian bush, and seems like the perfect spot to visit on this lovely summer day.

When four of the girls go for a walk and only one returns in hysterics, a teacher vanishes too. The mystery of what happened on that day becomes the only thing anyone can talk about.

And then another returns...

I'm SO glad I finally read this eerie little book.

Not only is the mystery at the core of the story super addictive and kept me glued to the pages, but the whole experience felt like walking through a surreal nightmare. Every word adds to the unsettling suspense, spreading a cloud of darkness that keeps expanding.

That's why I found the writing style perfect for this story. It's told in third-person omniscient POV, taking the reader from one character to another very quickly, as well as revealing past and present tidbits along the way. Telling the story in this way usually bugs me, but not this time. Dealing with the narrative in this way helped keep the intrigue going, as well as include the many characters featured in order to get the full scope of the story. It also made the setting and surroundings feel as strong and important as the characters.

Although the girls who disappeared were popular seniors, the actual plot revolves around what happens to everyone else--teachers, students, staff--at the boarding school they attended. It spans to include the last guy to see them that day, and how his life is affected. And even the policemen conducting the investigation.

Sarah's story is so sad. I felt bad for her because her life is affected in the worst way possible. There were so many things she didn't know, especially the people who actually cared about her and were willing to help. Instead, she gets stuck with the awful headmistress. The flower imagery surrounding this poor child was tragically beautiful.

The French teacher, Mademoiselle de Poitiers, was another character I really liked. I was totally invested in her journey and her part in everything was great.

There are so many things to love about this story, and one of my most favourite things was the gothic atmosphere that drips off every page. Not to mention how well the author captured the bush, the climate and how harsh Australia's landscape can be. I felt like I was there with the characters, every step of the way.

As for the ambiguous ending, it TOTALLY worked for me. Not just because it was a clever way to end the tale, but also because I already had my own theory and was hppy with what I read.

Oh, and after finishing the book I went back to the foreword, which was full of spoilery stuff. Plus I also found out about the original Chp 18, which explained what happened to the girls. I thought it was cool.

Either way, I enjoyed this a lot.


Sunday, 2 June 2019

THE FORGOTTEN LETTERS OF ESTHER DURRANT by Kayte Nunn

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther's prison but soon becomes her refuge. 

2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. 

Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.


Last year I read and really enjoyed The Botanist's Daughter, so of course I was interested in checking out this author's latest release.

The location might confuse her, but Esther Durrant thinks she's heading out for a nice holiday with her husband. After the heartache she's been through, she's glad for the break. But soon after arriving at the isolated island, she realises something isn't right.

Rachel Parker is an Australian marine scientist who travels all over the world. She doesn't like spending too much time in one place and doesn't do attachments, so her job is perfect. When her latest assignment leads her to an island off the Cornish coast, she discovers a lot more than clams.

Eve lives in London with her grandmother and is helping to take care of her after a bad fall that puts the otherwise strong and independent elderly woman on bedrest. But she's also helping her write a book about her old mountaineering days.

When Rachel finds some letters written by Esther, they lead her to Eve... 

Well, that was a nice, well-written novel. 

Told in the alternating POV of Esther--as she suffers through a traumatic ordeal--Rachel--as she finds herself in new cold and wet surroundings--and Eve--as she focuses on helping her grandmother while struggling to find her own place in the world. Each woman's story unfolds at their own pace, but complements one another until all the seemingly unconnected pieces fall into place.

My favourite story was Esther's. She was a woman suffering through a terrible loss during a time in history when women were expected to be a certain way no matter what. Even after having the best of intentions, the man she trusted most in her life betrayed her with his secrets and lies. And inadvertently introduces Esther to a passion she wouldn't have discovered otherwise. Or the heartbreak that led her to.

While I mostly enjoyed Rachel's POV because of her independence and peculiar profession, I felt that Eve's and Richard's somewhat pulled me out of the story, and I looked forward to going back to Esther. To be honest, the excess in POVs kept me from fully immersing myself into the story as deeply as I'd hoped.

I have to admit, that while I did enjoy this book overall, I personally didn't feel the same connection and wasn't charmed in the same intoxicating way I was by The Botanist's Daughter. But that's okay, because this is an entirely different story.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is an interesting tale about the effect women's lives have on the generations that follow. About how their legacies echo into the future, and what happens when secrets rise to the surface. 

It also showcases the differences between modern women and the ones who came before. The ones treated like property, and the impossible, heartbreaking choices they had to make just to keep the peace.

These stories are important, and should be shared.


The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, June 2019, ISBN 9780733639401, Hachette Australia

 
Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Grants for single moms