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Monday, 9 December 2019

I AM NOT YOUR FINAL GIRL by Claire C Holland

I Am Not Your Final Girl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to start by saying that I love the simplicity of this cover. It's as sharp as the poems inside, and captures the subject matter within perfectly.

I've been watching horror movies since I was very young, and have always been fascinated with the countless final girls I met along the way. They were always kind-hearted, clever and strong, never given the credit they deserved by other characters, and brave when it counted. I mean, they made it to the end, right?

This book of poetry captured the essence of these girls and women so well, I couldn't stop reading. Actually, I read this on my Paperwhite in one sitting.

Any book with such a powerful introduction is sure to hook me instantly. And when the poems are this good and gritty, it's a pleasure to read. Easy to get lost in the words while remembering the characters they relate to.

These characters might be from horror movies where madmen with masks stalk the shadows with a knife or a machete, or monsters in the darkness, but they're the ones with teeth and claws. Their struggles mirror our own, because every girl and every woman knows how cruel and judgemental this world can be. We've all suffered through violent words or actions, senseless abuse, sexist behaviour--sometimes unintentional, but so ingrained. And like our horror sisters, we're strong enough to fight until the very end because we refuse to give up or give in.

I LOVED this book. Every poem is amazing, captivating and the words cut like the sharpest blade. Plus, it's a great tribute to Final Girls.

I'm going to end this review with this awesome quote from Rosemary's poem:

"... it's not the Devil you need to worry about, but the devil you know."


Sunday, 8 December 2019

TIME TERROR by Christopher Pike

Time Terror (Spooksville, #16)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With a cover like that, of course I was interested in checking this out. And I didn't even care about not reading any of the books that came before. Fifteen of them! LOL.

Cindy, Sally, Adam, Watch and Bryce are friends who live in the creepy town of Spooksville. On the Friday night they decide to go to the movies to watch a scary movie, they find a strange contraption they decide to call the Time Toy. (Or is it the Time Terror?)

And when they use it, they end up travelling through time...

This book is such a short and easy read. It's also a lot of fun! I read it in one sitting. It reminds me of the adventure books I used to enjoy when I was a kid. It's spooky, has a cool group of kids, their town is weird, and they end up in the middle of a bunch of freaky situations.

I had heaps of fun reading this book, and hope to find more of them while thrifting. πŸ˜€



Wednesday, 4 December 2019

THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill

The Fireman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've been meaning to read for a while, and I'm really glad I finally did.

Harper is a school nurse when the world starts burning. A mysterious spore everyone calls Dragonscale starts infecting people and civilization slowly crumbles. After the schools are closed, she spends months trying to help the infected in a local hospital.

Until even that burns to the ground.

When she gets home, Harper discovers the dreaded condition has found her too. Being infected highlights how shitty her marriage really is, and leads her to a group of survivors who might be able to help her save the most important thing in her life. Or might end up being her damnation...

Wow. Seriously, wow.

What an awesome book!

I was intrigued as soon as I started. I liked Harper instantly, disliked her husband, and as soon as the Fireman entered the scene I couldn't wait to find out more about him.

The pacing in this book is great. While on one hand, it's a total slow burn (pardon the pun) because the end of the world comes gradually, when fire starts engulfing everything and everyone things move pretty swiftly.

It's a fast-paced story, yet nothing is rushed.

There are quite a few characters and they're all weird, wonderful and awful in their own way. But I liked that we see things unfold from Harper's third-person POV because she was a great narrator. She has quite a bit of conflict going on: a crazy ex, a new society to adapt to, an unborn baby to think about, and a man who intrigues her. There's a lot to unpack, but her kindness and determination to do the right thing never fades. No matter how bad it gets, she never sways.

Harper is one of many strong women in this book. RenΓ©e is awesome and brave. Allie is stubborn and brave.

This is quite a chunky book, but I couldn't put it down. I was hooked from the start and the tension kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. The stakes kept getting higher and everyone goes through hell.

I liked that although the Fireman was quite skilled in his use of the Dragonscale, and totally mysterious, he's not a superhero. He's an average man and it takes time for him to recover. He was charming and funny and annoying all at once.

There's not a dull moment in this insane story.

The Fireman is an unpredictable and totally addictive story about the end of the world. It's an original and unique twist to the post-apocalyptic genre full of interesting characters that surprised me every step of the way.

It's unpredictable, surprising, full of adventure and is riveting until the very last word. And contains some really cool references to other books, music and pop culture.

Oh, I thought the hive-mind mentality commentary on social media, wrapped up in a great story was very clever, too. How the sense of belonging can deepen connections, but can also be corrupted. Actually, this doesn't just apply to social media. I've seen it happen in so many other situations. People are capable of destroying anything that's good. πŸ˜’

Well, there's only one last thing to say: I wonder how long the Dire Straits Romeo and Juliet song is going to be playing inside my head...?


Tuesday, 26 November 2019

THE BRILLIANT DR WOGAN by RA Montgomery

The Brilliant Dr. Wogan (Choose Your Own Adventure, #72)The Brilliant Dr. Wogan by R.A. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I used to love reading Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. I borrowed them from the school library and from the public library. I couldn't get enough!

So it was awesome to find a few during our thrift store adventures. This is one of them and I had a blast reading it.

Dr. Wogan has designed a machine able to neutralise radiation. That means that everyone could survive a nuclear war. But in the wrong hands, it would mean the world could be held ransom.

As her young assistant it's YOUR job to find her, and make sure the plans are safe...

This was a lot of fun! The beauty of these books is that you can choose one path to The End, and then go back and take another one.

I enjoyed the book so much, I followed three different paths:

1). I took a few wrong turns and didn't find Dr. Wogan. Instead, I found myself in the middle of a time-travelling possibility. 😲

2). I took worse turns here, and ended up getting captured and forced into a shitty situation. πŸ˜’

3). I finally found my way to Dr. Wogan! Yay. And although things didn't turn out great, it was a bittersweet ending. Both good and bad, but at least it was with my boss. 😁

Yeah, this was really cool. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the other ones I have.


WELCOME TO CAMP SLITHER by RL Stine

Welcome To Camp Slither (Goosebumps HorrorLand, #9)Welcome To Camp Slither by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During our thrift store adventures, we've been lucky enough to find a bunch of Goosebumps books, and this one is part of the Horrorland collection.

I used to read Goosebumps to my daughter when she was in primary school. And years before that, I used them to tutor English to kids.

So, of course I'm interested in checking out all the ones I haven't read.


WELCOME TO CAMP SLITHER:

Boone Dixon and his younger sister are excited about going off to Camp Hither. But as soon as he makes a friend, Roddy starts telling him about the scary snakes that are supposed to live in the lake and are keen to eat the campers...

This story was SO much fun!

I also love the writing style because it sets the scene perfectly with just enough information. As soon as I started reading, I felt like I was swept away to a creepy camp in the middle of nowhere.

Boone was a cool narrator. A kid who wants to enjoy himself and doesn't want to believe silly stories until he's facing it. And he doesn't like mysteries. Heather was a funky and brave girl who played by her own rules. And I liked their sibling relationship.

Although there are several ew! scenes featuring snakes, mice and a lab, this turned out to be a lot of freaky ssslithering FUN!


ENTER HORRORLAND:

This is actually a really nice feature. A week after the incident at Camp Hither, Boone gets an invitation to HorrorLand and he's glad to go because he's bored.

But as soon as he gets there, trouble finds him. At least he can use his newfound fear of snakes to some sort of advantage. LOL.

I enjoyed this because the creep factor makes an appearance early on, but it's also a small part in a story that had already started several books back so I didn't recognise some of the characters and villains.

Still, it was freaky cool.

Also, the Fear File #9 stuff was a great addition.

I really enjoyed this. Only problem is that I now want to read more! 😈


Monday, 25 November 2019

TWISTED 26 by Janet Evanovich

Grandma Mazur is a widow . . . again. This time her marriage lasted a whole 45 minutes. The unlucky groom was one Jimmy Rosolli, local gangster, lothario (senior division) and heart attack waiting to happen . . . well, the waiting's over. 

It's a sad day, but if she can't have Jimmy at least Grandma can have all the attention she wants as the dutiful widow. But some kinds of attention are not welcome, particularly when Jimmy's former 'business partners' are convinced that his widow is keeping the keys to their financial success for herself.

As someone who has spent an entire career finding bad guys, a set of missing keys should be no challenge for Stephanie Plum. Problem is, the facts are as twisted as a pretzel with mustard.


This is one of my favourite series. I look forward to reading the latest Stephanie Plum book because it always feels like catching up with old friends. 

When Grandma Mazur gets married to Jimmy Rosolli and he dies after forty-five minutes, she becomes an instant widow. 

That means she'll get the chance to be the centre of attention for a while. But, not all attention is good because Jimmy's mob buddies are convinced she's got some very special keys, his sisters have a vendetta against her, and at least one ex-wife wants a piece of Jimmy's money.

Now it's up to Stephanie to keep her grandmother safe. If only Stephanie wasn't having a personal crisis...

This was another awesome and fun book!

I love Grandma Mazur. She's hilarious, adventurous and totally gets Stephanie. She might be an elderly lady but really knows how to enjoy life, and a bit of danger isn't going to change that.

This book was nerve-wracking because Grandma's fearless nature works against her. I was as worried as Stephanie and kept waiting for something awful to happen.

The mayhem never stops. And although Steph is doubting herself and feels like she has no direction, it was so cool to see how efficient she really is. Not to mention how entertaining it is when she works with Lula. πŸ˜‚

Or how she deals--or doesn't deal--with Morelli and Ranger.

Twisted 26 is another fun addition to this awesome series. Just when I think Stephanie's life can't get more complicated, I read the next installment and the stakes get higher. I love how a story dealing with so many heavy situations, and a bunch of dangerous people, can also be SO funny.

Love these characters.

I can't wait to see what happens next. This might not have been a cliffhanger ending, but it definitely left me wondering about what's next for Steph.


Twisted 26, November 2019, ISBN 9781472246141, Headline Review

Saturday, 23 November 2019

THE CULT CALLED FREEDOM HOUSE by Stephanie Evelyn

Everyone but Sophia and Cyrus were going to die. They were all goners well before they knew it. And they certainly thought whatever was happening, they were helping others and saving the world doing it.

Samantha was only fourteen and looking for what every fourteen-year-old looks for - freedom. She wanted to be as far away from her substance-riddled mother and abusive home as possible, but she never asked for anything like this. It always starts with just one person and one fucked up idea. This is the story about Samantha and the cult called Freedom House.

A psychological horror thriller, this book will frustrate you, scare you, disturb you, and at times, it will make you want to be ill. Are you ready to learn what's going on behind the doors of Freedom House?


I was really excited when Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi sent me a review copy of this book. It's one I've heard great things about on Twitter, and was totally intrigued by. And I love that creepy cover.

Samantha is fourteen, lives with her deadbeat mother, and dreams of running away. Sophia is a tough cop living with a haunting memory from her childhood. Detective Salvino doesn't want a repeat of what happened six years ago when he dealt with a cult.

Now, young kids are disappearing and everything leads to the doorstep of the Cult Called Freedom House...

O.M.F.G. 😳

This book is about a cult, so of course I went in expecting some pretty terrible things. I mean, what else is a cult but a place where downtrodden people are brainwashed and abused? While accepting this abuse because they're convinced they deserve it.

Yeah, I knew what I was getting into.

Even then, I was equally disgusted, disturbed, intrigued and captivated by everything that was going on. As soon as I started, I couldn't put my Paperwhite down. I needed to find out what was going to happen next.

There are a lot of things to like about this book, but the characters were the lifeline. They're interesting and real. Whether I despised or sympathised with them, I was totally invested in every single one of their screwed-up lives.

This story isn't pretty. A lot of what happens is dirty and unnerving. 

Samantha is a great character. A young girl, lost and in desperate need of attention. She craves a real home and even when things don't seem as perfect as she first thought in Freedom House, she pushes on. And is strong as hell.

Sophia is another intriguing character. She's a cop and wants to save people because her own guilt has become a never-ending haunting she can't escape. Dealing with Freedom House teaches her there are deeper levels of being broken than she already is, while also pushing her.

Detective Salvino is a caring man lost in a world where some of the most horrible things he sees are perpetrated by his gender. He wants to save the young and naive, even after a huge failure to do so.

The sense of location was described really well. Santa Cruz might look like a cosy coastal town, but it ain't Santa Carla. The predators here aren't vampires. They're drugs, dealers and desperation. The lost boys and girls of Santa Cruz are lured by a different kind of immortality.

The Cult of Freedom House is a gritty and sometimes really uncomfortable book. It actually deals with two of my least favourite horror tropes--can't say which because of spoilers. The kind of stuff I usually stay away from. But the way this is written, the creepy vibes and the heart at the core of everything, kept me hooked to the page.

Yeah, I really enjoyed this book and the descent to the end had me on the edge of my seat because the suspense was killer.

The only other thing I want to say is that if you're squeamish about the grosser parts of human predators, prepare yourself. This story goes to some very dark and depraved places.



Friday, 22 November 2019

NaNoWriMo is officially over!


That's right.

Today, I validated NEON


Well, this year was a little different. 

There was no actual validation necessary. The website was updated so I collected my WINNER badges and downloaded my certificate. Yay. 😁


Here's what my progress looked like:


Quite a steady rise to the finish line. πŸ˜€πŸ‘

Well, that's it for another year. Hope you all had as much fun as I did! I absolutely LOVED writing this story because I didn't have a market in mind, or cared about the fact it might never fit in anywhere. 

I wrote this for me, because I wanted to read it. And because sometimes, you just have to remember why you enjoy writing in the first place.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

NaNoWriMo: Week Three

Hey! How's everyone?

Well, the third week of NaNoWriMo has only just begun but since I finished my WIP today, I thought I'd blog about it.

That's right! The first draft of NEON is finished, and I'm SO excited. πŸ˜πŸŽ‰

This is the 13th time I've won NaNoWriMo! Yay.

So, here's this week's word count:
  • Saturday: 58,113 (added 3012w)
  • Sunday: 61,167 (added 3054w)
  • Monday: 63,532 (added 2365w)
  • Tuesday: 66,181 (added 2649w)

As you can see, compared to last week, the daily word count totals went down a bit. That always happens when I reach the backend of a story and everything becomes a total frenzy of words and thoughts colliding with each other.

This means that a lot of what I wrote ended up being bare bones. But that's okay, because first and foremost, it's all about getting the words out of my head. I can fix everything later.

So, today I went back and re-read the last three chapters and added the stuff I left out, and/or thought about aftwerwards.

It happens every time.

Writing this story turned out to be an awesome and really fun experience. It started out as an unconventional horror with some SF elements and a love story at its core. But ended up a lot deeper, more twisty and full of 80s goodness.

I always envisioned this story to be just like those 80s straight-to-VHS horror/action movies I loved watching as a kid. And I'm super excited because it translated pretty well. It's also full of some unexpected surprises, which is always a great thing.

It's funny that a tale I thought might be a novella turned out to be the longest first draft I've written this year.

Well, there you have it. NaNoWriMo is done. I wrote one more novel before the end of the year. And my brain no longer has to hold onto everything about this particular idea.

Not until revision time. LOL.

Anyway, I'm very happy right now. And I need a mental break. Plus some reading time. Definitely need some of that.

Have an awesome week!


Friday, 15 November 2019

NaNoWriMo: Week Two

Well, the second week of NaNoWriMo is done, and I'm happy to report that I added plenty of words.

What about you? How's your word count going?

I actually had a great week. Got a lot done and also slowed down the pace a bit. The only thing that's been missing from my schedule lately is reading.

My head is so full of my WIP that in the last two weeks I've only managed to read three short stories. But that's okay. I'll just have to reward myself with plenty of reading when I'm done.

Anyway, here's this week's word count: 
  • Monday: 35,128 (added 4761w)
  • Tuesday: 40,180 (added 5052w) 
  • Wednesday: 45,274 (added 5094w)
  • Thursday: 50,474 (added 5200w) 
  • Friday: 55,101 (added 4627w)

As you can see, I reached the NaNoWriMo 50k goal on Thursday. Yay. πŸ˜„

Still, I continued adding words on Friday because the story isn't finished yet. I'm not sure where the word count will end up, but I'm going to find out. 

According to my notes, there are three chapters left to write. But, halfway through the week, after adding a chapter that came out of nowhere, I scrapped all the novel's second half notes. Ended up reworking them to take a different direction that'll ultimately get the main character to the same spot through a different route.

Sometimes this happens. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I have to admit, I'm surprised this story isn't done yet. When I initially started thinking about and taking notes for this idea, it was supposed to be a short story. Even then, I quickly realised there was too much story for that. Then I was sure it would end up becoming a novella. 

Yet, here we are. In novel territory. 😁

During the week, I also wrote a 621-word shortie that I'm looking forward to revising.

Well, that's it for this week's writing update.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

DYING FOR AN INVITATION by Theresa Braun

Dying for an Invitation
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up a free copy of this novelette for my Paperwhite earlier this year. And since my brain is getting totally consumed by NaNoWriMo at the moment, I've hardly had any reading time.

So, I decided to read this today. Mainly because it was short. Plus I think the cover's lovely and creepy.

After things don't work out with her boyfriend, Dacie returns to her childhood home in Romania. This is where she left her invisible childhood friend. Although it's been years, she secretly hopes he's still there.

As soon as she arrives, her mother starts up with the cautionary tales about unmarried women, the history of the village, and the disappearance of her grandmother. All superstitions and secrets that lead back to her...

My favourite thing about this story is the way it's written. I really enjoyed the character's voice, the author's writing style, and the setting descriptions. All of these drew me into the story.

While I liked all of the above, as well as Dacie's voice and was intrigued by her imaginary friend, I was disappointed when the answer was revealed. It just didn't work for me, and the whole Vlad Tepes thing made me lose interest. And I love vampires!

As for the ending, I'm still in two minds about it. At first, I didn't like it because it just didn't make sense to me. Then afterwards, I did like it. But... I still don't know. :/

Anyway, it was an interesting read.


Friday, 8 November 2019

NaNoWriMo: Week One

Well, the first week of NaNoWriMo is over and I'm really happy with my progress.

After taking the weekend off, I spent this week adding words to my WIP. And I have to admit that I'm having an awesome time writing this story because it's coming together pretty well. Not only are my chapter notes fuelling each day, but so is the new stuff that keeps popping up.

This kind of thing always happens. The bare bones are there on paper for me to follow but once I sit at my desk, that's when the real magic happens. πŸ˜ƒ

So, here's this week's word count:
  • Monday: 11,151 (added 5125w)
  • Tuesday: 15,375 (added 4224w)
  • Wednesday: 20,440 (added 5065w)
  • Thursday: 26,189 (added 5749w)
  • Friday: 30,367 (added 4178w)

This idea is so ready to be told that everything is tumbling out pretty quickly, which is awesome.

The cool thing about this story is that I was pretty sure I knew the path I was going to take but the more I write, the more I realise there's an even better way to tell this tale.

Another thing that surprised me is the addition of several unexpected characters. They popped in while writing and have turned out to be quite important to the overall story. Not to mention how strong the sisterhood between these characters is turning out.

I'm having a great time writing this, which might be a bit strange since my main character's going through some serious heartbreak, paranoia and the confusion is really screwing up her sense of reality. But at the same time, it's all so unusual and surprisingly wonderful.

It's also full of 80s tropes. But I'm not forcing them in, they're coming quite naturally. 

Well, at the moment I still LOVE everything about this story, and I hope that continues until I reach the end.

The only problem is that because I'm SO caught up in my own story, my reading has taken a bit of a backseat.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 6 November 2019

THE UNBELIEVER & THE INTRUDER by Morgan K Tanner

The Unbeliever & The Intruder (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 39)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By now, I know that getting stuck into a Short Sharp Shocks! book means I'm going to lose myself in a single sitting of awesome, dark storytelling. Add the fact that this author knows how to write gore and torture with an edge of the familiar so well, and I was instantly hooked.

The Unbeliever introduces us to Mike. An average guy who finds himself on a family holiday to the happiest place in the world. Yet, he's not feeling it. He's hot, cranky, would rather be by the pool, and can't help but voice his frustration, which leads to some horrifying results...

This story introduced an average guy into a very familiar place, then totally twisted all the normal and got dark very quickly. Wow. I didn't expect things to go there, but I'm so glad they did because it added the perfect gory imagery to some of the most well-known and beloved characters.

Trust me, you'll never look at a certain theme park the same (ever) again. LMAO. But seriously, I had SO much fun reading it because as violent as it is, I also found it amusing.

The Intruder features Toby, the sleep-deprived father of a newborn. On the night he offers to stay up with the baby so his wife can get some sleep and he can catch up on some work, someone decides to break into the house...

OMFG. This story is insane and I loved it!

Toby starts out acting and sounding like anyone who finds an asshole invading their territory, and slowly tumbles down a very dark path. A horrific path that had me squirming. Not just because of how he decides to deal with the would-be burglar, but because when the truth starts dawning on you... Yikes! Did I say it will make you squirm? πŸ‘€

Both of these are seriously awesome, wicked and well-written stories. They're like surreal nightmares that confuse the reader as much as the characters. They're brutal little treats guaranteed to disturb anyone brave enough to reach the end. And they'll stay with you long after you've finished reading.

I have to be honest, neither of these is for the faint of heart, but they're certainly worth it. Morgan has a great writing style and his stories really get into your system.

This SSS! is definitely another fantastic addition to this horror series.


Friday, 1 November 2019

NaNoWriMo is here!

That's right.

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo and I got stuck into it first thing this morning. πŸ˜ƒ

My plan for today was to write the first chapter. I was aiming for 3k, but any word count was going to make me happy because all I wanted to do was get the story started.

And this is what happened:


I was not expecting or planning to write this many words but as soon as I sat down at my desk, the character started speaking. And wouldn't stop. 

That's what happens when you carry a story around inside your head for over a year, I suppose. 😬

I'm really glad that I decided not to give up on this idea. Several months ago, after my pitch was knocked back, I considered shelving it completely. I mean, it was so out there already, and if it didn't sound marketable, what was the point? But during one of our walks, I told hubby all about it and he said it sounded interesting to him. He called it fun and suggested I write it anyway.

After our conversation, the word fun kept echoing inside my mind and I decided he was right. THAT was the reason I developed the idea in the first place. 

So, when NaNoWriMo came around, I decided this was the right time. I was really in the mood for writing something that appealed to me. And judging by my first writing session, I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this.

One thing I wasn't expecting was the amount of emotion in the story. Or how important friendships would be for the main character. Although, considering the devastation she faces in the first chapter, I probably should've expected it.

Like I said last week, I'm writing Neon for me. It's going to be an action-packed, zany story with heart and will feature a bunch of my favourite 80s tropes and things. Not to mention the Playlist I put together.

BTW, if you want to be NaNo buddies, this is me.

So, there you have it. Today, I started a new WIP and will now take the weekend off.

Have a good one!


Thursday, 31 October 2019

HALLOWEEN FIEND by CV Hunt

Halloween Fiend
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my Paperwhite for months, but I put it aside on purpose so I could read it this Halloween. And I love that cover. πŸŽƒ

Well, Halloween is here!

The town of Strang is mostly abandoned but still has a small population. Every October, Halloween stalks the streets nightly and to keep it happy, the townsfolk leave small animals as treats.

For Barry, this year's a little different, he's much too curious not to stare out the window. And then the carnival comes around the same time as the town's freaky tradition...

Um. I hate to say it, but this didn't work for me. The writing style was nice, but that wasn't the issue. I found the characters too dull, the slow-burn pace lacked the tension to keep my focus, and I wasn't invested.

I didn't like Barry. Or any of the other characters, to be honest. Even Halloween was meh.

It's a shame that I didn't enjoy this novella because I usually love small-town stories featuring dark and weird secrets. I thought I would at least find it fun, but I didn't. My attention kept wandering and I had to keep re-reading what I'd missed. There was no real Halloween-type atmosphere, either. Even the ending didn't excite me.

Oh well. It happens.


UMBRELLA ACADEMY: Hotel Oblivion #6 & #7 by Gerard Way & Gabriel BΓ‘

Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #6
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMFG. This issue was action-packed, full of explosions and bad guys wanting to mess things up. And by messing up, I mean that after escaping from a secret prison, all they want to do is destroy the city.

The Umbrella Academy guys sure have their work cut out for them. Especially since their numbers are down and they're not all in the same place.

I loved that scene with SΓ©ance because it featured one of my fave characters. One that has been MIA for too long.

Also, where the hell is Vanya going?

Looking forward to reading the next issue...



-------


Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion #7
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that might have been The End for the Hotel Oblivion arc, but it sure as hell didn't feel like we're anywhere near the overall ending of the greater story.

Sure, the threat to the city thing is dealt with, as well as several other issues, but now we've been introduced to a brand new threat. Where did these people come from? Are they some of the other special special kids? Who knows?

Also, where the hell is Vanya and who are all those people?

See? I just finished reading a 7-part comic book arc and I have more questions now than when I started. I know that should frustrate me, but it doesn't. I love this weird and dangerous world too much and look forward to more adventures with the dysfunctional Hargreeves clan. 😊

Oh, and one more thing: I still love this art style and bright colours SO much!


Wednesday, 30 October 2019

DIRTY PAWS by Dean M Drinkel

DIRTY PAWS (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 0)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By now I know that reading a Short Sharp Shocks! story means I'm in for a horror treat. And the same goes here.

Maxime and LΓ©a are a strange couple who are in Paris on business. They're always fighting, but after another argument each went their own way to embark on a night of sex, alcohol, drugs and some really weird shit.

Still, they're bound to get back together. If the monster stalking them doesn't find them first...

Yikes. This story sure gets dark really quickly.

At first, we're thrown into this couple's hotel room as they lie next to each other, totally destroyed after their separate night's activities. Then we're thrown into the reason why they had a fight in the first place. And everything goes downhill from there. πŸ‘€

These two aren't nice, well-behaved people, they know why they're there and until it becomes crystal clear what that shocking thing is, I was disoriented and trying to work things out. The writing style is perfect for this kind of tale--surreal and confusing, leaving obvious details out on purpose.

I really enjoyed that!

If you're squeamish, you might find some of the content uncomfortable. If not, this is a nice violent, shocking and often gross, but very entertaining story.

Yep. This is another very cool SSS! story. Actually, it's the very first one, because this little tale full of criminals, murder, monsters and mayhem happens to be the one that started everything.


THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember watching and really enjoying the movie Hugo several years ago. It was a fun, historical adventure with heart and wonder. It also featured A Trip to the Moon, which is a silent film I've always loved and watched hundreds of times.

During the 1930s, Hugo lives inside a train station in Paris with his uncle. Well, he did until he disappeared. Now, Hugo is left alone and keeps all the clocks in the station oiled, tuned and on time. He steals when he needs to, can't stop thinking about his father, and is convinced an automaton holds a special message from him.

He leads a secret and lonely life. Until he meets the grumpy old man who runs a toy booth, and befriends the man's goddaughter. After that, his life is changed forever...

Wow. This was such a beautiful, yet heartbreaking book. It's beautiful because the illustrations are so detailed, the photos so cool, and the story so full of wonder. It's magical and really captures the magic of movies as they were when the industry first began. As well as the marvellous world of clockwork toys and machines.

Hugo's life isn't an easy one, and all the characters have their own issues to deal with, but that sadness is so often overshadowed by the kid's attitude. His hope that as long as he remains his own secret, holds on to his father's notebook and fixes the only possession that means anything to him--the mechanical man--everything will be okay. And when he loses one of those treasures, he finds out that life sometimes has a weird way of working out.

Isabelle was such a cool character, too. She was clever, feisty, stubborn and so rebellious. Plus, she was caring and loyal, the best kind of friend for this lonely boy.

The portrayal of Georges Méliès and his wife, Jeanne, were also great. A grumpy old man with his own secrets and hidden pain, while his wife shelters and keeps his secrets buried. They were a nice old couple.

I loved how all of these moving parts worked so well together to become an interesting and intriguing book. Not to mention a stunning piece of art.


Tuesday, 29 October 2019

LADY KILLER 2 #5 by JoΓ«lle Jones

Lady Killer 2 #5
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's taken me WAY too long to read this very awesome conclusion to this great comic book series by Joëlle Jones. But, is it The End for Josie's bloody adventures? I mean, judging by that ending--😳--how could it be?

Anyway, I loved how the issue begins with Josie's mother teaching her the ropes about how to really survive in the cruel world run by men. That last frame (in the first section) is just fantastic, because there's just no other way for her life to go after that!

And when we return to the house with Josie and her MIL dealing with Irving, all hell breaks loose. I mean, seriously, that encounter was brutal. Although Josie made me laugh a few times. But not after what happens to her.

I felt so bad for her because the way things turn out is really sad. I know she's a cold-blooded killer when she has to be, but I liked Josie from the beginning. Oh, and that last page? OMG.

How can there be no more?

I have one final thing to say: I LOVE the artwork. It's so bright and beautiful and totally captures the era.

This turned out to be an excellent comic book series. It's a bit The Stepford Wives and a lot Dexter.


Monday, 28 October 2019

ENCAMPMENT BY THE GORGE & BLOOD MEMORY by Zachary Ashford

Encampment by the GorgeEncampment by the Gorge by Zachary Ashford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I just read another great addition to the Short Sharp Shocks! series. This time, there were two stories. Although they're different, they both share the same subgenre.

The Encampment By The Gorge is about a group of labourers who have a job to do, but find it impossible when the local weirdos don't want them there and are trying to stop their progress with violence...

This was such an intriguing story. One that on the surface appears so normal--humans destroying the forest with their endless development pissing people off--and soon becomes a gory revenge adventure of cosmic proportions.

The imagery in this story was so vivid in its gore-filled descriptions, I could see all the disgusting stuff playing out very clearly inside my brain. 😳

Normally, I shy away from violence against animals, but strangely wasn't bothered by what happend here. Everything that happens is just so creatively monstrous.

Blood Money features a journalist trying to get a feature about the mysterious Bone Mountain. After a local kid goes missing, he decides to join the search party. Instead, he finds himself caught in the middle of a shocking, mystical situation...

This one was intriguing, interesting and full of ancient wonder. It was also a very clever observation about the many problems Indigenous Australians face in our country because our government doesn't care enough to help or respect them with the funding they deserve.

The mystic angle is also cool, and I liked the crocodile angle too. Not to mention the twist in the story that totally caught me by surprise. Nice!

I really enjoyed both of these stories, but my favourite was the second one. The atmosphere, sense of location and characters were so Australian, and really resonated with me. Like Jones says, we don't see enough Australian folklore and Indigenous mythology in stories, so it was a nice change of scenery to read a story steeped in it.

This is another great addition to this horror series. I really enjoyed these two brutal tales!


SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK: The Complete Collection by Alvin Schwartz

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Complete Collection
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When these books were made into a movie, I wanted to read them before watching. And when I found an edition including all three books, I ordered it right away.

So, this book contains: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3.

Each book comes with freaky illustrations that totally add to the experience. There are also Notes, Sources and Bibliographies for each installment.

Some tales are short. Others are supposed to be read like a song. Several are longer. But ALL of them are a LOT of fun. There's something within these pages for everyone. A lot of these stories are downright creepy and will give you chills. While others will totally gross you out or really make you think. And there are quite a few that made me laugh.

This book really is like sitting down with a bunch of friends and telling scary stories to freak each other out. Hell, there are even instructions for setting the mood and delivering the ending just right.

I had so much fun reading this vast and cool collection of folktales, urban legends, cautionary tales. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked and couldn't wait to see what was coming next. Reading this book also made me feel like I was a kid again, ready to tell/hear a freaky story and hoping to get goose bumps or feel my skin crawl.

These scary stories are awesome! I just can't believe I didn't read these when I was a kid, because I was definitely part of the target audience. Oh well, you're never too young or old for these. 😁

Looking forward to checking out the movie...


Thursday, 24 October 2019

NaNoWriMo is around the corner!

Hey! 

Since I signed up, the other day, I thought I might write a little post about National Novel Writing Month.

I've been taking part in NaNoWriMo for a while. Actually, my first one was way back in 2006. Can you believe it? 😯 

Anyway, let's start with my history:
  • 2006: UF (Angie)
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey)
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue)
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful)
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight)
  • 2011: N/A
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows)
  • 2013: SFR (Dash)
  • 2014: UF (Willow)
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape)
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted) 
  • 2017: YA SF Thriller (Cosmic Girl) 
  • 2018: YA Horror (Madness)
As you can see, since I started taking part, I missed one year: 2011. And that's because I was working on edits at the time. Yeah, always with the pesky writing. LOL.

Another thing you'll notice is that I've written drafts in a variety of genres. This is something I lurve to do.

By the time November comes around and the year is winding down, I always enjoy squeezing in one last 50-70k first draft. I think it's a great way to end the year. πŸ˜ƒ

This time, I've decided to work on a story that's been inside my head since last year. It's a whacky subversive revenge tale set in the 80s. It's inspired by the kind of crazy movies I used to love watching when I was a kid. When we borrowed hundreds of VHS tapes from the video shop.

I'm not sure if this tragic and whacky tale about monsters and paranoia will ever see the light of day, but I do know that I picked this particular project because it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm totally writing this story for me. I'm the target audience for this one because it's been playing inside my brain like a pesky movie for a while, so I'm looking forward to getting it outta my head. πŸ€―πŸ“ΌπŸ“Ί

I've already started naming characters, collecting inspirational pics, and taking notes. And I've still got another week to daydream about this story, jot down notes about scenes, and totally get lost in the NaNoPrep process.

Even better than that, I'm looking forward to getting started...

Well, there you have it! This is the story about my NaNoWriMo idea. What's yours?

Happy planning!

THE EXORCIST by William Peter Blatty

The Exorcist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Exorcist is a book I've wanted to read for AGES. Of course, I watched the movie when I was very young and have seen it several times since, but reading the book is always a different experience.

We all know how the story goes: a young girl is possessed by an evil entity and two men of the cloth have to rescue her by performing an exorcism...

But, there's so much more to the story. So much.

Starting with how smart and lovely Regan is, how much she loves her mother and how abandoned she feels by her father. Not to mention how her mother tackles an acting career while raising a child. Sure, she's got help in the Swiss couple who run the household and the tutor who teaches her daughter, but she's always there for her. Because, although this story is about a lot of things, one of the main issues is how far a mother is willing to go to save her child. How determined she is to convince doctors and priests about what's really going on.

That's another thing. The words hysteria and hysterical kept coming up. It seemed like their go-to diagnosis when dealing with a child showing clear signs of possession, and the mother trying to get real answers. Typical, right? If a girl or woman is acting differently or demanding answers, she's gotta be hysterical. Even Father Karras often thinks these unhealthy thoughts.

Ah, Father Karras. In spite of his contradictions--or maybe because of them--I really liked him. I enjoyed getting insights into his personal guilt, his medical mind and his personal struggles with faith. He was fascinating, and although it takes him a while, definitely comes through. His redemption is harsh and cruel, but satisfying. In a very sad way.

I also liked Kinderman. He was one of those cops who pretends he's slow-witted, but is one clever fox.

There were a lot of very cool subplots in this story--the desecration stuff, a murder investigation, a troubled daughter--and I enjoyed all of them. I especially liked the one about Father Merrin, because that put everything that happens to Regan and those around her in such a horribly sad light. They were pawns in a bigger game, one they had no clue about.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the hell out of this book. I found it hard to put down, that's why it didn't take me long to read.

I only have one problem. I'd heard, countless of times, that this story was horrifying. But I have to tell you, I didn't find it scary at all. Sure, it was creepy and freaky and disturbing, but not scary.

This is an interesting and very intriguing book, and I'm SO glad to have finally read it!


Tuesday, 22 October 2019

CINDERS OF A BLIND MAN WHO COULD SEE by Kev Harrison

Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could See (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 13)Cinders Of A Blind Man Who Could See by Kev Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is yet another Short Sharp Shocks! story that hooked me in from the beginning and kept me there until the end.

When Owen's son barges into his house and tells him he's got his eyesight back on the eye he lost to an accident, he's suspicious. Especially when David tells him how it happened.

All of a sudden, Owen's life gets turned upside down, because the more his curiosity bites and the more questions he asks, the deeper he falls into some very strange things going on in his own village...

I really enjoyed this folk horror story. A lot.

Everything starts out so simple: a miracle that causes a character to investigate, several conversations that add to the mystery, and finally taking notice of what's right in front of him. As all of these things are going on, something dark and dreadful is slowly bubbling to the surface. Leading to a shocking ending.

There are several important characters in this tale, but my fave was (obviously) Owen. I liked how he dealt with everything with a nice cup of tea. Was amazed at how he'd become so withdrawn that even though he worked in the council, he didn't see all of this coming. I mean, who would? Most of us just want to get on with our lives without thinking about some shitty, ancient cult.

Also, the environmental aspects were interesting too. With all the clearing being done in forests, jungles and bushland, who the hell knows what ancient things are being disturbed? And that's where horror authors come in. 😁

This is a great story with one of my fave horror tropes: creepy towns. But hey, there's a lot more to like about this spooky tale.

And just like all the others I've read so far--as well as my own--Adrian Baldwin nailed the cover because it totally fits the moral of the story.


Monday, 21 October 2019

I signed up!

That's right. It's that time of the year again! I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2019. Yay. πŸ˜ƒ

After spending the weekend thinking about the two stories I narrowed it down to last week, and chatting to hubby about both options, I picked one.

Here's the description I posted on the website:

A horror story with a science fiction slant and some wrestling. Set in the 80s, it's about a woman dealing with monsters, paranoia and revenge.

This is an idea that came to me last year. I thought it might be a short story, but as soon as I started writing, I knew it was going to need a lot more words. 

Asides from signing up, I also set up a new folder for Neon, added all the inspirational pics, made a dodgy cover graphic and put together a playlist.

I'm really excited about this new WIP I'm going to tackle because this is going to be a lot of whacky fun. And because November 1st isn't until the end of next week, I'm going to enjoy doing more NaNoPrep. That equals daydreaming, collecting more pics, taking notes and brainstorming.

Are you taking part?

Hope you have a great week!

Friday, 18 October 2019

CROSS HER HEART by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Sarah Pinborough's writing. I love her books because every time I start one, I'm instantly hooked. And this one was no different. As soon as I started, I was drawn into the lives of these women.

Lisa lives a quiet life, has a wonderful best friend, adores her teenage daughter and enjoys her job. But she has a huge secret.

Ava has just turned sixteen, loves spending time with her friends and wants her mother to get off her back. She's also keeping a few secrets.

Marilyn is organised, loves her best friend, kinda has a boyfriend and has a devoted husband. Yet, hides a very important secret.

When one of these secrets is exposed, all three are affected in the worst way possible...

Wow.

This is yet another fantastic thriller.

I love how we're thrown into the seemingly normal lives of three different women getting on with their lives, and then everything changes. All of a sudden, the normal everyday stuff is turned upside down and we're thrown into a shocking situation.

The switching POVs between Lisa, Ava and Marilyn was awesome. Not only did it give us personal insight into each character, but it kept the story moving so well.

This book is intriguing, twisted and totally amazing. I enjoyed every single moment I spent with this book and couldn't put it down. The pacing was perfect, the writing wonderful, the characters as real as they were outrageous, and the story's totally captivating.

As surprising and messed up as so much of what happens to these character turned out to be, I also found several aspects to be very sad.

I thought the ending was perfect because it served as a nice final note, plus provides a strange sense of redemption. And that's as much as I'm going to hint at about this book because you need to go in blind. The less you know about this, the more you'll enjoy it.

Man, Pinborough is one hell of a storyteller and is on my auto-buy list because her stories are addictive.


Wednesday, 16 October 2019

THE TOWN THAT FEARED DUSK by Calvin Demmer

The Town That Feared Dusk (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 17)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was another very cool Short Sharp Shocks! story. Also, I love the cover. I actually love the simplicity of all the SSS! covers, and how much they mean after you finish reading the story.

Sylvia is a journalist who doesn't want to end up where her mentor and colleague did. She wants to find an interesting and more meaningful story. And she finds that in the tabloid's archives. The Suicide Bridge sounds like a great place to start, but when she gets to the town and starts asking questions, she finds no one wants to answer them.

And when they do, she discovers silence might have been a better option...

I really enjoyed this! It happens to have some of my favourite things: a curious character, weird small town, and a mystery that begs to be solved. I read it in one sitting, which I think is the best way to read short stories and novelettes.

As soon as I started reading, I was hooked and followed Sylvia down what I suspected would be a very dark path.

The mystery at the core of the story had me intrigued, but even after the narrator sees some strange things, I was suspicious about what was going on beneath the surface. And that's another great thing about this story, the weird and disorienting vibes are so strong that when the ending creeps up on you, it takes you by surprise. Yet, doesn't surprise you.

It's just the right amount of spooky, and trippy.

Yeah, this is another great Demmer story and SSS! book.


Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Q&A with Hunter Shea


I have a guest on my blog today.

Hunter Shea writes awesome horror stories and has a very impressive backlist. And he's dropping in for a Q&A.

 
Hi Hunter. Congratulations on your latest release from Flame Tree Press.

Slasher movies are some of my favorites. Is SLASH a throwback to the 80s subgenre us horror fans know and love so much?

Absolutely. I’ve always wanted to write a slasher novel, but I needed to come up with the right killer. I was a teen in the 80s and feasted on everything from Friday the 13th to Maniac, The Slumber Party Massacre, and Microwave Massacre (a terrible movie, by the way). My ten best times in a movie theatre mostly involve watching Jason carve campers up while the crowd went wild. What people growing up today miss by watching horror movies at home is the shared experience. They were wild, wild nights. So, needless to say, a lot of ideas have been rattling around my brain pan for many years. Driving past the old, abandoned Nevele Resort in the Catskills, I suddenly had this concept of a killer called The Wraith. Wouldn’t it be cool to make a crumbling resort his home base? And wouldn’t it be fun to start the book through the eyes of a final girl who barely escaped The Wraith some years earlier? What would that do to not just her, but her friends and family and everyone associated with The Wraith’s victims? Once all of those questions started buzzing around, I had to sit down and write. 

When did you realise horror was the genre for you? 

Way too early. I mean, I was begging my father to wake me up when I was 6 so I could watch The Night Stalker with him. I’d been taken to drive-ins and local theaters to see every conceivable movie since I was a baby. Horror is the genre that stuck with me the most. As a teen, my walls were filled with either posters of girls in bathing suits (yes, I had the Farrah Fawcett in the red suit) or still shots of gory movies ripped from the pages of Fangoria. One wall would have a shrine to Victoria Principal next to heads being lopped off and Nazi werewolves from An American Werewolf in London blasting people away. I lived and breathed scary movies back then, and I still do now. 

I’ve noticed you have a thing for monsters and cryptids, when did your interest/fascination begin? 

Good old Leonard Nimoy and his series, In Search Of, got me hooked on Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. That show was both informative and downright creepy. I read every book I could find in the library about cryptids and monsters (there weren’t many). To me, it’s a natural progression from horror movies to potential real life monsters. It’s fun to write books about creatures people are familiar with and taking them to places maybe most people never even considered. 

It’s October, and for me that means celebrating Halloween all month. What do you do to celebrate the spooky season? 

First, I renamed the month many moons ago to Horrortober. Trademark pending. πŸ˜‰ My goal each year is to watch at least one horror flick a day. When I’m done with each, I tweet out the movie and my rating system, which is x number of 9 tana leaves (for you Mummy fans). I also pick out certain books throughout the year that I save to read in Horrortober. My family and friends always meet up at the Chiller Theater con at the end of the month. And Halloween at the house is crazy. Last year, we got almost 600 trick or treaters. It’s a huge event for the neighborhood and the perfect way to cap off the season. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on my next Flame Tree Press novel, Misfits. It’s tense and it’s dark and it has a villain that I think quite a few people will recognize. It’ll be all complete and wrapped in a bloody bow by December. Your readers can follow my progress, and insanity, over at www.huntershea.com


Thank you so much for answering all of my questions. I look forward to reading more of your awesome books.

----- 

I hope you enjoyed reading Hunter's very interesting Q&A as much as I did. 






Thanks for reading!


 
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