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Sunday, 20 September 2020

THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS by Nancy Springer

The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes, #1)The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As soon as I found out about the Enola Holmes movie coming to Netflix, I was interested in checking it out. So, when I found out it's based on a book series I started looking into it.

Imagine my surprise when hubby showed me the cover of the first book and I realised I actually have a copy. I mean, how could I forget this lovely cover? And that it's one of the many books we found during our pre-pandemic thrifting adventures! 👀

I was so excited I read it right away.

Enola Holmes lives with her mother in Ferndell Hall and enjoys a relaxed life of learning, mischief and personal adventure. On her 14th birthday, her mother disappears and she becomes obsessed with finding her.

But when her much older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes come to the estate to investigate, they're appalled by what they find and take over. Following their overreactions and threats, Enola heads out on a journey to London to search for her mother. Along the way she gets caught up in a kidnapping and so much more...

OMG. I loved this! It was SO much fun.

I love a good mystery set during any time period, but there's something that always grabs me about a good Victorian mystery. Maybe it's because girls and women weren't valued for their intelligence and these stories focus on that fact so well. 😊

Either way, this story is fast-paced, intriguing and packed full of interesting characters. Enola was such a great heroine! She didn't let her brothers stop her from following her instincts, and didn't care about their contempt for their mother. Actually, it pushes her to start her own investigation and along the way, finds her place in the world.

Enola is an awesome young lady. And no matter how silly or wild her brothers claim she is, it works to her advantage. Which is awesome because Mycroft and Sherlock are super annoying, so it's great to see her outsmart them.

The mystery of the missing Eudoria Holmes was enhanced by Enola's memories of everything her mother taught her. As well as the ciphers she taught her how to solve. I liked the ending because on the surface seems so simple, but made so much sense. And fit so well with the overall message in the narrative.

Now I can't wait to watch the movie and get my hands on the next book... 

Saturday, 19 September 2020

THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been looking forward to reading this book for AGES! I've enjoyed the hell out of every Grady Hendrix book I've read, so I was very excited about this one too.

Patricia is a busy housewife with kids who have no time for her and an arrogant husband who only cares about his job. They don't respect her or anything she does. At least she has her book club. Where she reads a bunch of interesting true-crime books and spends time with a group of fellow housewives.

When a new person moves into their quiet neighbourhood, she's determined to help him fit in. Yet, soon starts suspecting he's not what he seems...

WOW! I had such a blast with this book. It's amazing. LOVED IT!

As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. The deeper I got into the story, the more I struggled to put it down.

Patricia is a great character. She tries so hard to be a good person and helps whenever she can, but everyone treats her like she's a crazy moron. No one cares about what she's going through or how much crap is piled on her. They don't know how strong she is, or how brave. So, before she knows what's going on, she finds her life spiralling out of control. I felt so bad when everyone turns on her because she didn't deserve that kind of treatment.

Now, let's talk about the husbands. They were such weak, pathetic fools and pissed me off so much I wanted to slap some sense into them. I hated the flippant way they treated their wives. And how they refused to listen because they were so consumed by their toxic masculinity they were easily being manipulated and didn't even realise it. 😒

I've mentioned this before about this author and I have to say it again: he really gets the many struggles of girls and women. He writes these characters so well, and treats women like the real people they are, that their plights are often very familiar.

Like all his other books, the combination of humour, nostalgia, tension and gore is outstanding. Grady Hendrix sure knows how to set a creepy scene to tell an intriguing and interesting story. That's also unpredictable. I couldn't wait to find out what other dark surprises were waiting within these very pretty pages and didn't expect any of the twists and turns along the way.

I loved the mounting tension, every page was SO intense. And enjoyed how the story went to some pretty terrifying places and didn't shy away from the disturbing. I seriously couldn't read fast enough.

Also, not only was this a great book to read, the actual physical copy is lovely.

This turned out to be such an original vampire story. Can't wait to see what monster Hendrix tackles next. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Finishing Time!

Hey! It's me again. How are ya? What's new? How's this week going for ya?

You know, every single time I ask that during 2020, I can't help feeling weird. I mean, how great can things be during a global pandemic that won't let up and greedy/selfish people keep pretending it's over? Yeah. I know.

Still, there are things we can do to stay positive. And safe. Like, staying away from other people. LOL.

Personally, hubby and I have spent a lot of this year doing stuff we love to do, like spending time with each other. As well as catching up on shows and movies. I've also been writing a lot, reading even more. Hubby's finally getting the chance to play a bunch of the games he's been meaning to get to for years.

And that leads into this week's writing progress:
  • Monday: 35,184 (added 5060w)
  • Tuesday: 37,681 (added 2497w)

Yep. That's right. I finished the first draft of what turned out to be a novella. I'm very excited about reaching The End of this WIP, and even happier about how this story turned out.

This is actually a story that came to me a few months ago in a dream. I remember waking up with such vivid imagery about a disturbing scene featuring a very wicked house that I had to write everything down right away. The dream was so sharp that I can still see it in my head very clearly.

Funny thing is that this inspirational imagery was actually the ending of the story. This is the second time this year that the ending was the first thing to spark my imagination. 

It might sound strange, but hey, every idea/story is different.

Now that this is done, I'm taking the rest of the week off and probably next week as well. Both to get some distance from it, and because writing this novella was a nine-day writing frenzy. 😬💻

I'm hoping to squeeze in a bit of reading, too. Only problem is figuring out which of the many books I can't wait to read should be next...

Anyway, hope you all have a lovely week.

See ya!


Sunday, 13 September 2020

Writing time!

How are you? Hope you're all well and still surviving this never-ending ordeal known as a global pandemic.

I realise that some people like to pretend it's over and are very vocal about it, but it's not. And those of us who care about others and ourselves, are actually doing our bit to stay safe.

Yeah, after all these months I still sound like a broken record. 😒

Well, I haven't popped in for a few weeks because I took a nice break with hubby. We watched a LOT of movies and I read several long books. It was so much fun!

But this week, it was time to get stuck into the story that's been hounding my brain for quite a while. I just couldn't ignore it any longer.

Here's how my word count went:
  • Monday: 4,732 
  • Tuesday: 10,152 (added 5420w)
  • Wednesday: 13,449 (added 3297w)
  • Thursday: 19,537 (added (6088w)
  • Friday: 23,614 (added 4077w)
  • Saturday: 27,041w (added 3427)w)
  • Sunday: 30,124w (added 3083w)

I'm very excited about making this much progress during the week I decided to really get stuck into it. I guess that's what happens when an idea is this ready to be told.

You know, when I first started writing this story, I thought it might turn out to be a 15k-word novelette. But it's obviously going to end up being longer than that.

We're in novella territory now. But I don't mind. I'll keep writing until I reach the end of this draft.

I'm having a lot of fun with this gothic horror story featuring monsters from mythology. It's dark and creepy, is set in a nightmarish house and has several heartbreaking scenes that are hard to write. And will only get harder because I know how this is going to end, and it's not heading to a happy place.

Unfortunately, the side effects of getting SO caught up in my own story means I didn't read anything new during the week. But that's okay. At the moment, it's all about this story.

Oh, and one last thing: THIS very awesome thing happened! I'm so excited about my shortie making the cut at Crystal Lake Publishing flash fiction challenge.

Well, that's it for this week's update. Just wanted to post a little update. 😊

Have a great day!


Thursday, 10 September 2020

My story has been posted!


My short story, Into the Fire, is a finalist in Crystal Lake Publishing's latest Flash Fiction Contest:


Here's the tagline:

When the world falls apart, everything breaks... especially your heart. 💔😷🔥

Voting will open soon at Crystal Lake Publishing for their patreons. 

You can read my story HERE.

It's very exciting! 😁

Sunday, 6 September 2020

WHY I QUIT ZOMBIE SCHOOL by RL Stine

Why I Quit Zombie School (Goosebumps: Hall of Horrors, #4)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I decided to grab this book today. Mainly because the condition is so shitty and I want it out of the house. 💩

Matt has just been enrolled in boarding school for the first time. But this isn't your average school, there are a lot of undead kids walking the halls...

Uh, for being a zombie book it wasn't remotely creepy. Sure, there were plenty of tropes and familiar undead stuff going on, but the story pacing was way tooooooo slow.

I don't know if it's because it's a Hall of Horrors or if it's just this book, but it wasn't as cool or as intriguing as the books in the original series. There seemed to be something missing. Something I can't put my finger on.

Anyway, at least the ending was funny.


Thursday, 3 September 2020

HALLOWEEN SEASON by Lucy A Snyder

Halloween is the most wonderful part of the year for many of us. For dedicated fans, the season begins when the leaves start turning autumn colors and doesn’t finish until Hallowtide ends in November. With it comes a whole lot of fun: scary movies and stories, haunted houses, seasonal sweets, spooky decorations, costume parties, and of course trick or treat. But Halloween is also a deeply spiritual time for some; it’s an opportunity to remember and honor loved ones who have passed on. 

Master storyteller Lucy A. Snyder has filled her cauldron with everything that Halloween means to her and distilled it into a spell-binding volume of stories. Within these pages you’ll find thrills and chills, hilarity and horrors, the sweet and the naughty.

One of the best things about Halloween is you don’t have to be yourself. So go ahead and try on a new mask or two … you may discover hidden talents as a witch, a pirate, a space voyager, a zombie fighter, or even an elf. This is the perfect collection to celebrate the season of the dead or to summon those heady autumn vibes whenever you like. You may even find a couple of tales that evoke a certain winter holiday that keeps trying to crowd in on the fun.

In the worlds within this book, every day is Halloween!


Thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this gorgeous book from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

I seriously LOVE this cover, btw!

Here's what I thought of each story...

BEGGARS' NIGHT: 

This poem was a great way to start this book full of wicked tricks and treats. The stage is set for trick-or-treating and monsters.

HAZELNUTS AND YUMMY MUMMIES:

I really enjoyed Vicky's Halloween version of a A Christmas Carol. It was surreal, creative and so very sad because sometimes misplaced guilt can destroy your life.

COSMIC COLA:

Oh, I loved Millie's tale! She's a girl who loves Halloween and is excited that the town she moves into seems to celebrate it as much as she does. BUT, all is not what it seems and she soon stumbles on a dark conspiracy. This story totally gave me a Goosebumps vibe.

VISIONS OF THE DREAM WITCH:

This was a fun and gritty urban fantasy story about two cousins from New Orleans who get themselves caught up in a dark otherworldly situation only a witch can help them with.

WHAT DWELLS WITHIN:

Loved this dark urban fantasy story featuring the intriguing and devil kick-ass, Jessie Shimmer. Plus her ferret familiar, Pal. Lots of cool stuff happens in this story: possession, necromancy, magic, portals, pocket dimensions and a shady organisation. Yeah, this was definitely my kind of story!

THE PORCUPINE BOY:

This turned out to be a fascinating story about a nurse called Eddie. A guy with a past riddled with addiction problems, but is now a decent man willing to do just about anything to help his ailing clients. While learning a few unimaginable things along the way. Cosmic horror at its best, for sure.

IN THE FAMILY:

O.M.F.G. This is one wicked little story about twins who don't exactly have the best relationship. It drew me in with the simplistic concept of sibling rivalry and slowly unravelled to become a whole different monster. Wow!

THE KIND DETECTIVE:

Holy shit! This was a cosmic nightmare of grotesque proportions. I enjoyed watching McGill's confusion turn to curiosity, before getting warped into something completely monstrous.

A PREFERENCE FOR SILENCE:

What a clever little story about the magnified annoyances. The sounds and quirks a person makes are so much louder in space inside the confines of a ship. And that ending was sheer perfection. This one made me laugh, actually.

WAKE UP NAKED MONKEY YOU'RE GOING TO DIE:

This is a short, gross and humorous tale about the God Slime Santa and the apocalypse. Good stuff! Lots of slimy imagery featuring Christmas icons.

THE GREAT VüDü TEEN LINUX ZOMBIE MASSACREE: 

I got a kick out of this zombie tale because it really hit a lot of highs. Especially in the original department. There are enough zombies to build tension and creep the reader out, with an added unexpected weapon. It's quite imaginative in the use of a badger and technology.

THE HOUSE THAT COULDN'T CLEAN ITSELF:

Great story about dirty boys who refuse to clean up after themselves, think they're clever enough to fix the problem without any actual effort, only to destroy instead of help. So typically male. 😂 Fun tale.

AFTER HOURS:

Very clever warning! 😁

THE TOYMAKER'S JOY:

Oh sweet Hildrina, this was a funny little romp featuring the elves in the North Pole making toys. I mean, they obviously make ALL the toys, right? For children and adults alike. 😉 

THE TINGLING MADNESS: 

Another fun and Lovecraftian story featuring an interesting character's downward spiral leading to salvation. Sort off. Enjoyed the erotica slant, too.


Halloween Season is such an amazing, fun and creepy short story collection guaranteed to satisfy everyone who loves the spirit of Halloween. Every single tale included within the pages of this very entertaining and well-written book is awesome.

Usually, short story collections and anthologies contain some hit and misses, so I include a list of my favourites. BUT, I can't do that with this one because every single addition to this book is a hit.

Every page of this collection is full of as many treats as tricks, and all satisfy readers who like a cool and spooky variety of characters, situations and genres.

Loved this book so much it's going straight to my Keeper Shelf.






Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Something really cool!


Check this out: 


That's right!

 My flash short story is a finalist in the latest Crystal Lake Publishing's Flash Fiction Contest.

My story is called Into the Fire and is a dark love story. Sort of. 💔 

Voting will open soon at Crystal Lake Publishing for their patreons.

I'm SO excited! 😁

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

BETTY by Tiffany McDaniel

'A girl comes of age against the knife.' So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. 

Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a Cherokee father and white mother, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit is one of poverty and violence - both from outside the family and also, devastatingly, from within. When her family's darkest secrets are brought to light, Betty has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters in her rural town of Breathed, Ohio.

Despite the hardship she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters and her father's brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all she bears witness to, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. 


This is a book that caught my eye because so many people were talking about it on Twitter, and I was definitely interested in checking it out myself.

Betty was born in a bathtub in 1954 and is the sixth of eight children. Her father is Cherokee and her mother is white, but she looks just like her father. A fact everyone likes to point out, in the cruelest way possible.

After moving around the country for years, the Carpenters return to their hometown of Breathed, Ohio. To a house that may be cursed. Into a world where poverty and violence aren't enough to steal Betty's resilient and curious nature, or her love for hearing and telling stories...

Wow. This is such a heavy and sad story. It's also awesome. Every word weighs on your heart and soul, will totally tear you apart if you let it. And trust me, you most definitely will.  

The best way I can describe this book is like this: it reminds me of a rose. Roses are beautiful and entice you to get closer but when you do, sharp thorns are waiting to bite into your skin. It'll hurt and will probably make you bleed, but you won't be able to let go.

That's exactly what this book does.

It's engaging, the prose so lyrical that before I realised what was happening, I was hooked. I was totally invested in Betty and her family, so the more I felt for these characters, the harder it was when the awful stuff starts to happen. And there's a lot of awful stuff lurking in the pages of this fantastic book.

Things that made my blood boil because racism and the cruelty of injustice always gets under my skin and makes me so damn angry. Also, because assholes hurting kids is another thing I despise. And there's plenty of this in the narrative. But the abuse isn't always external, because there's plenty of shitty things happening within the home. 

The characters in this book are all intriguing and interesting in their own way. Betty is such an adorable girl with a stubborn streak. She looks at the world in such a unique way, and it's mainly because of her devoted father. Landon is such a great and kind man full of positive things to say about everything. The way he magically spins a yarn around all facets of the world and life help shape who Betty is and what she becomes. He's a kind spirit who loves Betty, while her mother is often the complete opposite.

I've always had a weakness for family sagas--you can probably blame Virginia Andrews for that--and this one definitely fit the bill.

Betty is an amazing story about an incredibly strong girl and her unconventional family. It's packed with myths and legends full of wonder. It's raw and rough. Whimsical and endearing. So much of what happens is devastating, but I couldn't put it down.

It's such an excellent book about the strength of girls and women, as well as the weaknesses forced on them by vile men. It was also inspired by the life of Tiffany McDaniel's mother, and so much of what happens is as ugly as it is beautiful.

I'm really glad I read this incredible story of resilience, strength and survival because I absolutely loved it.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!


Betty, August 2020, ISBN 9781474617536, W&N 

Thursday, 27 August 2020

MIDNIGHT SUN by Stephenie Meyer

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella's side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward's version in the long-awaited companion novel, MIDNIGHT SUN. 

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward's eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward's past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger? 


Firstly, I want to thank Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this highly-anticipated book. 

Twelve years ago, I devoured the Twilight quartet very quickly. They were all long books but I was so addicted, so invested, that I read them in no time.

So, when I found out about THIS book, I was really looking forward to it. I mean, who doesn't want to read the story through Edward's POV and find out what he was thinking during all of this?

When Edward meets Bella at school, his dull existence changes instantly. It all begins with her silent thoughts and intensifies when he catches a whiff of her blood. But when he starts finding her interesting, his fascination deepens and spells disaster for the Cullens... 

As soon as I started, I was thrown back into this world and didn't want to put it down. Even knowing how everything turns out didn't diminish my intrigue and interest because everything felt so new and fresh, with a wonderful edge of familiarity. 

Reading Edward's POV was instantly captivating. The more I read, the more everything he was going through was slowly joining up with what I already knew from Bella's story. I might have read these books years ago, but the events returned to the surface in an instant. And I enjoyed discovering what Edward was doing off the page, why he was doing it, and the constant inner struggle that plagued him.

Not to mention getting a newfound appreciation for the Cullens. I loved their family dynamics and how close Edward was to his parents, Esme and Carlisle, plus Emmett and Alice, while having a strained connection with Rosalie and Jasper. Bella coming into Edward's life ultimately affected all of them. She changed everything, and the way they each dealt with this unexpected fact makes one hell of a story.

I enjoyed the many sides of this book. Sometimes it's action-packed, other times it's full of internal moody thoughts. There's plenty of happiness and romance that's always shadowed by gloom and doom. As well as some very interesting insights into the vampires of this world.

Midnight Sun is a fascinating book that delves into the mysterious Edward Cullen and his vampiric family in small-town Forks. His tale offers a fresh and exciting side to the story we all know so well. While it was familiar in many ways, this installment in the Twilight Saga kept me hooked from start to finish. 

I had a great time revisiting the intoxicating world. I'm really glad Stephenie Meyer finally decided to share Edward's inner-most thoughts with the world.


Midnight Sun, August 2020, ISBN 9780349003634, Atom

Sunday, 16 August 2020

I'M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS by Iain Reid

I'm Thinking of Ending Things
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've had on my Paperwhite for a bit and because I saw the movie version is coming to Netflix next month, I decided now was the right time to read it.

She's thinking of ending things with her boyfriend. And once the thought enters her mind, she can't shake it. Keeps thinking about it. Keeps changing her mind. But when Jake suggests they go for a road trip to meet his parents, she agrees and isn't quite ready to deal with everything she discovers...

Okay. I need to start with this: holy fucking shit! Not just because this book is a mind trip that took me to so many thought-provoking messed-up places, but also because it's so well written.

It's told in such an intimate and snappy way that I was instantly drawn in and couldn't wait to read more.

I loved everything about this very disturbing, very clever story, but especially enjoyed the retrospective inner thoughts presented in such bizarre and strange ways. Everything the narrator thinks about and questions makes you think and mull it over until things start making some sort of weird sense.

Well, that's until you get to the end and realise you were led down a very dark and muddled path by an unreliable narrator trying to figure out some serious personal shit. And when you get there, when you realise exactly what's going on and what just happened, you can't help but think WOW. Just wow. 😲

On some level, I knew where this was going all along, but even then the reveal took my breath away. I can't say more than that because no one should spoil this book. And you're better off going in knowing minimal details.

Trust me, it'll be more exciting. And shocking. Definitely shocking.

I'll definitely be thinking about this one for a long while. Really looking forward to checking out the movie.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

It's time to finish!

Hi! How are you today? Can you believe another week is over and we're still living the shitty pandemic life?

People continue to bug me because they don't understand the concept of social distancing, and governments continue to be assholes about it... but we're staying the hell away from everyone as much as possible.

Anyway, on a much better note, here's this week's word count:
  • Monday: 37,107 (added 4692w) 
  • Tuesday: 41,117 (added 4010w)
  • Wednesday: 44,612 (added 3495w)
  • Thursday: 47,716 (added 349w)
  • Friday: 51,604 (added 3888w)

That's right. It's done. I'm SO happy about finishing the first draft of my current WIP. Yay. 

Getting to The End of this story feels great because it's been eating my brain this whole week. Everything that was going on, as well as what was going to happen, kept spinning around inside my head because it was totally ready to be told.

Now it's outta my head and ready to be revised. 😀 Of course, I'll be taking a bit of time away from it, but have already started a Revision List.

This might be a slasher with plenty of kills and gore, but at its heart turned out to be quite an emotional roller-coaster ride. These characters really got under my skin.

I didn't get much reading done this week because of my own WIP, but we did watch a bunch of movies.

Well, that's about it for now. I'll probably take a mental break next week before hitting my next WIP.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, 12 August 2020

POWER by CS Alleyne

Power
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really like the cover for this book, it's nice and colourful. Very pretty.

Maude Caulkin lives in Victorian London, which is hard for everyone, but so much worse if you're a young woman. When she finds herself alone with her terrible stepfather, he gets her caught up in a business she didn't expect.

One that might find her trouble, fortune, love and a new calling...

Yikes! I didn't expect the story to go there. 😯

Maude is an interesting character who finds herself under the control of just about every man she meets. One beats her. One offers her a job with ulterior motives. One attacks her. One encourages her to find her inner freak. It's interesting to see how she manages to suffer at the hand of some of these men but ultimately turns it all around to suit her own freakish nature.

She's fascinated by freaks and frequents the local freakshow, which fits perfectly with the atmosphere and imagery invoked in this story.

If you're squeamish, this might make you uncomfortable because what ends up happening is quite disturbing. But I was fine with it. I like to see a fucking asshole get what he deserves. And if it's at the hands of the one he hurt, so be it.

But hey, let's not forget that what happens to Charles Courtney-Duff is in the name of science. 😬

Interesting tale about violence and revenge.


Sunday, 9 August 2020

It's time to write!

Hey! Long time no blog. Well, I did post reviews, but I haven't provided any updates lately.

So, how are you? How's life treating you? How are you coping with this never-ending global pandemic situation and the foolish behaviour of those people who refuse to stop acting like selfish fucks?

Personally, I spent July with hubby, avoiding people and reading like a fiendish bookworm. I'm not even kidding, just look at all the reviews I posted below. I read SO many awesome books--including two different and fantastic 4-book YA series. I even managed to pass my 2020 Reading Challenge of 100 books. (Which I've now changed to 110.)

I also wrote the first 7,000 words of a new story on my phone, and took notes for a different idea. When the imagery is too strong to ignore, it's best to try and capture as many details as possible before they fade away. 😊

Yeah, my mind's really fertile at the moment. I keep getting random snippets for different story ideas I've had circling inside my head for ages, or new stuff that comes out of nowhere. So, I take a bunch of notes and then concentrate on the loudest.

The loudest right now is one I described like this on Twitter:

This week, I finally sat down at my desk and started adding words every day, and I'm very happy with the progress.

Here's how my word count went:
  • Monday: 8,804 (added 1637w) 
  • Tuesday: 13,130 (added 4326)
  • Wednesday: 17,296 (added 4166w) 
  • Thursday: 22,112 (added 4816w)
  • Friday: 25,472 (3360w)
  • Saturday: 29,031 (3559w)
  • Sunday: 32,415 (3384w)

Not a bad start. 

Like usual, I have no idea if this will end up being a novella or a novel. All I know is that I'm very excited about how it's going.

I got this idea last year after the first chapter came to me in a dream. I wrote a bunch of notes then, so I wouldn't forget a single detail. The most important thing I captured from the dream and never forgot was how it all starts so seemingly normal and fun, before the story takes a turn for the grim.

So, yeah, it's a horror story. A bit of a slasher with supernatural elements. It's also about the strong bonds of true friendship, the discovery of love, and dealing with loss.

I know a lot about what's going to happen, but some details are still a bit blurry around the edges. I'm at that stage where I'm juggling a whole lot of puzzle pieces and just need to put them together. It's exciting and creepy, plus I really like these characters.

Well, asides from all this writing, reading and walking, we've started watching The Golden Girls from the beginning. This is a show I used to watch when I was a kid, but never in sequence. We also loved the hell out of the second season of The Umbrella Academy, and I've been keeping up with the final season of The 100, while enjoying the return of Wynonna Earp. 😁

Yep. Keeping busy.

There's always so much to do. I honestly can't understand people who get bored at home. My only problem us that there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything.

Well, that's it for now.

Hope you have a great week!


MEG by Steve Alten

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

I really enjoyed The MEG movie starring Jason Statham, and have been interested in checking out the book for a while.

Jonas Taylor is a professor and paleo-biologist. He's former Navy, a deep-sea diver and is married to a self-centered woman who clearly can't stand him. He's also suffering from PTSD and is obsessed with the Carcharodon megalodon, which he's sure is still out there...

Yikes. That was a lot of violent fun!

I liked this book from the moment I got stuck into it. Jonas is a great character because he's flawed, troubled and misunderstood. Not to mention determined to spread the word about a prehistoric shark he's sure has survived and still lives deep beneath the ocean. Even though people ridicule him, refuse to believe his claims, and are too keen to prove him wrong.

Of course, this turns out to be a recipe for disaster. Mostly for everyone who refuses to listen to his warnings.

The imagery is so vivid and the tension captured my imagination throughout. Once the expedition gets started, everything escalates pretty quickly and goes off the aquatic charts.

I loved how the tension built a bit more with each chapter. And I have to admit that although the Meg was callous, relentless and fucking terrifying, I really enjoyed seeing the action unfold through her POV. She was a vicious creature. She was also a lot of gory fun to follow around. 🦈

This is actually a great adventure story and I enjoyed it on so many levels.

In fact, my only beef was how annoying it gets when every woman is introduced as being 'good looking'. That got old pretty fast, but I suppose it's expected from a book written by a man in the 90s. 😁 Besides, it was easy enough to forget about this pesky annoyance because the most important female in this book is Meg.

I had a great time reading this story, and enjoyed it as much as I hoped I would. 

I have a weakness for giant monster stories.



Wednesday, 5 August 2020

About my story...

Last month, GRAVEYARD SMASH: 2020 Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2 was released. Yay. 😁

I'm very excited to have a story included in this awesome publication. BTW, don't you just love that freaky-lovely cover? I sure do.

So, I wanted to talk a bit about my short story. It's called Love You to Death and is a tale about myth, love and Death. It's also set in the underworld and features a bunch of death-defying characters you'll probably recognise.

I got this idea after I stumbled across a lovely piece of artwork featuring a skeleton drinking at a bar. I remember thinking: Looks like Death might be waiting for his girlfriend Santa Muerte to arrive, but she's always late.

After that thought entered my mind, the story bloomed. 💀

The artwork is called Casadores by Carlos Torres:


I found it so inspiring and so sad, I had to write a story about this lonely skeleton I decided was Dea.

Here's the blurb for my story:

A story of myth and horror featuring the love between Death and Santa Muerte as they fight zombies in the underworld. 

I'm very proud to be a part of the second anthology released by Kandisha Press, alongside so many awesome Women of Horror.


The anthology is now available: 
Paperback | Kindle | Kobo | Nook Apple



Sunday, 2 August 2020

PLAYING NICE by JP Delaney

Pete Riley answers the door one morning to a parent's worst nightmare. On his doorstep is a stranger, Miles Lambert, who breaks the devastating news that Pete's two-year-old, Theo, isn't his biological child after all - he is Miles's, switched with the Lamberts' baby at birth by an understaffed hospital.

Reeling from shock, Peter and his partner Maddie agree that, rather than swap the children back, it's better to stay as they are but to involve the other family in their children's lives. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about just what happened on the day the babies were switched.

And when Theo is thrown out of nursery for hitting other children, Maddie and Pete have to ask themselves: how far do they want this arrangement to go? What are the secrets hidden behind the Lamberts' smart front door? And how much can they trust the real parents of their child - or even each other? 


I've read three JP Delaney thrillers and loved every single one for different reasons, so I was really looking forward to reading this one too. Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy. 😊 

Pete is a stay-at-home father, but doesn't like that term. He's also a freelance journalist but devotes most of his time to taking care of his two-year-old son Theo, while his partner Maddie works in advertising.

The day a stranger knocks on his door and tells him their sons were switched at birth, their lives change in some very unexpected and dangerous ways...

Wow. I was hooked from the beginning and struggled to put this book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I'm not surprised, though. This author has an uncanny way of spinning a wicked contemporary tale starring seemingly average people in totally messed-up and complicated scenarios.

Everything starts out normal enough. A father drops his son off at preschool and when he gets home finds out the child he's been raising isn't his son because a complete stranger tells him this new piece of information. See? Very normal circumstances. 😳 I just wish this was the worst of it for this poor couple, because it doesn't take long for their lives to start crumbling.

This is one of those stories where you can see what's going to go wrong and wish you could warn the characters. Try to stop them before they make the terrible mistake they're so easily manipulated into without realising what's happening. There were so many things they should've checked, so many details they should've paid attention to, and a sticky web they should've avoided by not being so trusting. You just can't take things at face value, especially something this serious.

The story is told in the POVs of Pete and Maddie, slowly revealing how their lives fall apart on the day they meet a psychopath. There are also court papers, texts, emails, articles and letters throughout that really add depth as this family's life is torn apart one piece at a time. 

Playing Nice is an addictive psychological thriller about what happens when you allow complete strangers into your life after they've bamboozled you into an unexpected and really complicated situation, while taking advantage of your good nature. It's a deep study of a bizarre situation and led me down a very twisted path with a lot of unexpected and clever turns.

I can't wait to see what this author decides to tackle next.


Playing Nice, August 2020, ISBN 9781529400854, Quercus

Friday, 31 July 2020

THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS by Micaiah Johnson

The Space Between Worlds
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This sounded like such an intriguing book, so I was looking forward to checking it out.

Cara is a dimensional traveller, what is called a traverser. She also has a knack for dying in many of the worlds she exists in. But when a version of her is murdered, she finds herself caught up in a strange and dangerous situation...

Let me start with how much I loved the concept of this book because I'm a sucker for multi-dimensional stories. While the worldbuilding was pretty straightforward and I liked the slight and big differences in each world, there were some things that could've done with more and less explanation. I know that might sound weird, but if you've read this book you'll know what I mean.

As soon as I started reading there was something about Cara that struck me as odd. I mean, she revealed a lot about her world in the simplest of terms and with total ease. But, even then she struck me as unreliable. She'd reveal something only to slightly contradict it a few paragraphs down, or add a tidbit that threw out her previous statement.

It didn't take long to realise why, because the first twist hits pretty early on. And it was a hell of a twist, one that got me excited about the rest of the book. But after what happens during one of her assignments, things started to fall apart for me.

Everything started out strong and interesting, but the more I read the less I cared about Cara and her multi-world life and job. I had a hard time connecting with what was going on and a few plot points that seemed to contradict the previous rules. I can't say what it was because of spoilers, but it bugged me.

Anyway, while I really enjoyed the writing style and the character's voice, this turned out to be a bit of a disappointment for me.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

When glamorous socialite Noemi Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it's clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her. 

Noemi's chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin...


This is a book I've been looking forward to reading since I saw the pretty cover. So, I want to thank Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

Noemí Taboada is a young socialite and student. She's what her father calls flighty, but stubborn. The day she finds out her recently-married cousin is having trouble in her new home, she agrees to go and check up on her.

However, as soon as Noemí gets to the Mexican countryside, she notices there's something strange about the worn house called High Place. And that Catalina's sickness might not be what it seems...

Oh, what an amazing book!

I liked Noemí as soon as I started reading. She's so cool, knows what she wants and how to get it. At the same time she's indecisive and has changed her university course several times. She's also got a very casual attitude towards guys, and is quite stylish. And she's so clever! All of these qualities are awesome, but challenging for a woman living in the 1950s.

Her strong personality makes the mystery she faces harder for her to deal with, and exciting for readers to experience.

Another thing that totally clicked with me was when Noemí arrives at the High Place. I knew then that this book and I were going to get along very well. I love stories set in big houses/estates that are in a somewhat state of disrepair and have an air of the eerie. Add a creepy family with freaky secrets slowly leaking out of the very walls, and I'm officially intrigued. And hooked.

There's an atmosphere of dread throughout the story that I found intoxicating, in the best way possible. The house felt like the strongest character in the Doyle family, hiding a menace I couldn't wait to discover.

Everything that goes on inside those walls--from Catalina's erratic behaviour, the claustrophobic corridors, and the awful family members--felt drenched in mold. As if it was slowly spreading and at the same time closing in until the true horror is revealed.

I loved so much about this story and as I was reading could visualise every scene inside my mind. I think this would make an awesome TV show. I mean, all the characters alone are deeply interesting and have such depth that I was captivated by their personal and collective stories.

My favourites were Noemí and Francis. Noemí because she's a fantastic leading lady with the perfect combination of intelligence, cunning and naivety. And Francis because he was like a friendly ghost existing inside a haunted house.

Mexican Gothic is an atmospheric and totally addictive horror tale that slowly releases its toxic core and before you realise it, has infected your mind. The vivid imagery within the boundaries of High Place gets under your skin, even when you can't help but be seduced by the very horrid nature of the place and the terrifying truths waiting around every corner.

I absolutely adored this book as much as I thought I would. It contained a lot of the ingredients that satisfied my horror-loving heart.

Can't wait to read more books by Silvia Moreno-Garcia because I love her storytelling style.


Mexican Gothic, July 2020, ISBN 9781529402674, Jo Fletcher Books

Sunday, 26 July 2020

MALORIE by Josh Malerman

In the old world there were many rules. In the new world there is only one: don't open your eyes.

In the seventeen years since the 'creatures' appeared, many people have broken that rule. Many have looked. Many have lost their minds, their lives, their loved ones.

In that time, Malorie has raised her two children - Olympia and Tom - on the run or in hiding. Now nearly teenagers, survival is no longer enough. They want freedom. 

When a census-taker stops by their refuge, he is not welcome. But he leaves a list of names - of survivors building a future beyond the darkness - and on that list are two names Malorie knows.

Two names for whom she'll break every rule, and take her children across the wilderness, in the hope of becoming a family again...


I read Bird Box several years ago and absolutely LOVED it. I also enjoyed the Netflix movie. So when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I was really looking forward to checking it out.

That's why I want to thank Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!

After the world went mad, Malorie never felt totally safe, and even though she found a safe haven for herself and her children in a secluded school, she never let her guard down. The day everything goes to hell, she escapes with her son and daughter.

Ten years later, the trio has been living in an abandoned campsite but when a stranger turns up with a list of survivors, Malorie realises they're going to have to leave again...

Wow. This was SO intense!

The book starts with a nerve-wracking scene full of breathless violence and nervous anticipation. The tension is instant and once you fall into this state of mind, it's hard to shake. There's just something so claustrophobic about a world where you're forced to wear a blindfold. 😲 

The story is told in the POVs of Malorie, her son Tom, and her daughter Olympia. I liked how different they all were. Malorie is obsessed with safety, paranoid and obviously still suffering from severe PTSD. All she knows how to do is survive. Tom is smart and rebellious, wants to create and get a taste of freedom, maybe actually talk to strangers every now and then. Olympia is clever and reads a lot, so stories have shaped how she understands the way the world used to be. She's also the peace keeper and has a very rational way of looking at things.

But all of them have dark, complicated and secret thoughts they refuse to share with each other.

The dynamic makes for some very interesting and realistic parent-teenager situations and explosive emotions that are amplified by the existence of the creatures that destroyed the world with their ability to drive people mad. It's a recurring theme that grows exponentially as their adventure takes them somewhere unexpected.

Make no mistake, this story is a lot of things--dramatic, emotional, thrilling, terrifying, and most importantly, an adventure of blindfold proportions. Every time I sat down to read, my muscles were so tense.

Malorie is a gripping dystopian thriller with plenty of horror vibes, as well as twists and turns. Not to mention a creepy revelation I didn't expect. It's also a family drama taking place in a ravaged world where monsters are everywhere and nowhere. The threat is a living thing, a sensation that breathes on every page and fills the reader with dread.

It's an emotional roller-coaster ride, and I loved it so much. I already knew Malorie was an amazing character, but meeting Tom and Olympia was a treat.

This is one brilliant sequel that captures the spirit of the first book, plus opens up the world in a very intriguing way.



Malorie, July 2020, ISBN 9781409193135, Orion

Thursday, 23 July 2020

THE END OF OZ by Danielle Paige

The End of Oz (Dorothy Must Die, #4)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, after taking such a fun, wild ride through Oz and Kansas, it's time to find out how everything ends.

Amy has been through a lot and has changed even more. She learned how to use magic in Oz to kill Dorothy, went back to Kansas to help save Oz from Dorothy, and now finds herself in another kingdom to fight a new foe. And of course, has to deal with the outstanding issue of Dorothy.

Now, with Nox and Madison beside her, while wearing a pair of magical silver combat boots, Amy needs to eliminate Dorothy and the Nome King before they end everything...

Wow. Okay. That was really cool.

After enjoying the hell out of the previous three books in this series, I was really looking forward to finding out how Amy's adventure in Oz turned out. And it was off to a great start as she finds herself in the middle of Return to Oz. You remember that movie, right? 😮 Remember how creepy and nightmarish it was? The dark and dreary Ev is exactly like that, and so much more. A creepy place with a lot of underground tunnels and weird locals.

Amy's just as awesome as always, her connection to Nox intensifies, she finds herself babysitting her former bully, and meets a queen with the pesky hobby of collecting heads. Yet, she does all this while trying to save what's left of Oz.

One thing I wasn't expecting was Dorothy's POV peppered throughout the book. She's a real piece of zany work that one. It's strange to be inside her head, to witness firsthand her self-obsession, as well as how oblivious she is to her own cruelty. This character has been warped and twisted into a tyrant, yet believes herself to be a loving, worthy queen. But she's just a sociopath--a maniac. I would find that really disturbing if so many leaders in our world weren't exactly like this. 😒

Although I was surprised to find the final installment wasn't as fast-paced as the previous three and the battle in Oz was mostly off-page, I did like how it slowed things down to concentrate on what makes Amy and Dorothy tick, and how easily one could be the other if their circumstances were reversed.

One other thing I need to mention is how much I've LOVED the amazing and very vivid imagery throughout the four books. Asides from the awesome array of characters, the dark aesthetics were some of my favourite things. I love how dark everything was under the bright and colourful skies of Oz.

I've had a great time with this series and I'm really happy with how everything turned out on both sides of the rainbow. 🌈


Tuesday, 21 July 2020

UNNATURAL DEEDS by Cyn Balog

Unnatural Deeds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know, I just wanted to get a taste of this book because it sounded so intriguing. Just wanted to see if it would interest me as much as I thought it would, and I couldn't put it down.

Victoria has several problems: a boyfriend who doesn't leave the house and is putting up with an abusive stepfather, she gets anxious a lot, and doesn't make friends easily. Plus her parents are overprotective to the point of smothering.

Yet, none of that compares to her problems after the mysterious and very alluring Z enters her life...

Wow. That was dark and totally messed up.

The writing style of this book grabs you instantly and doesn't let you go. Vic's voice is strong and strange as she confesses how her life changed after meeting the new kid in school to her boyfriend Andrew.

The confessional style of the narrative is SO addictive. Yet, I often got the sense that Vic was leaving out some very important details or straying off-course on purpose. It doesn't take long to realise that she's a very (very) unreliable narrator who makes you question every single thing she says and claims to have experienced. Yikes!

Z is such an intriguing character, but because we get to know him via Vic's totally obsessive eyes, there's only so much we can believe about him. Especially, when you consider the very cool interviews added at the beginning of each chapter, which often contradict Vic.

And the twist ending is definitely worth reading. It makes so much sense out of the way Vic's parents behave. And of course, throws everything you think you know about Vic's life into a tailspin.

I enjoyed the hell out of this super creepy and very twisty messed up story. It was fantastic!


Monday, 20 July 2020

GRAVEYARD SMASH: Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2 is now available!


Back in January, I was lucky enough to be included in the first Women of Horror anthology released by Kandisha Press

Today, I'm very excited to announce that my short story, Love You to Death, appears in Volume 2...


GRAVEYARD SMASH: 2020 WOMEN OF HORROR ANTHOLOGY, VOLUME 2
Kandisha Press

Step through the prettiest cemetery gates you've ever seen and experience tombstone raves and widow's dances, Japanese snow-spirits, Aztec bruja and temple goddesses, vengeful ghosts, djinn and cannibals, vampire hunters, plague bearers, graverobbers, and terrors beyond reason.

Read through the night as the dead rise from boneyards all around the world! 

Featuring chilling tales from:

Christy Aldridge 
Carmen Baca 
Demi-Louise Blackburn 
R.A. Busby 
V. Castro 
Dawn DeBraal 
Ellie Douglas 
Tracy Fahey 
Dona Fox 
Cassidy Frost 
Michelle Renee Lane 
Beverley Lee 
J.A.W. McCarthy 
Catherine McCarthy 
Susan McCauley 
Ksenia Murray 
Ally Peirse 
Janine Pipe 
Lydia Prime 
Paula R.C. Readman 
Yolanda Sfetsos 
Sonora Taylor 


 Edited by Jill Girardi
With foreword by Doc Holocausto (Evilspeak Magazine, Harvest Ritual, Creepy Crawls)

With cover art by Jep Knulle and cover design by Ellie Douglas



 It's now available:
Kindle | Paperback | Kobo | NOOK | Apple


THE MERCILESS IV: Last Rites by Danielle Vega

The Merciless IV: Last Rites
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By now, it's no secret that I absolutely LOVE the Merciless series and have enjoyed the hell out of each book. This one was no different.

After the suicide of one of her best friends, Berkley suffered a mental breakdown and spent time in an institution. But she's much better now, and months later decides to travel to Italy to spend a few weeks with her other friends.

Everything starts out okay, and she even meets a cute local guy, but it doesn't take long for strange things to start happening...

Wow. Just, wow.

This quartet turned out to be one hell of a dark ride. A destructive freight train that tore through the lives of so many young girls while on a hellish collision course to The End.

In spite of her sin, Berkley--just like Sofia and Brooklyn--was very likeable. And just like the two girls before her, she had such a strong voice that her struggle is hard to watch, but impossible to turn away from. I felt bad for her because she was so convinced that her life was back on track when in fact, it was only a matter of time before everything spiralled out of control. And there was nothing she could do about it.

The last forty pages were super intense and did a fantastic job at finalising Berkley's book, as well as the rest of the series. I thought this was an amazing way to end the series that begins with Sofia Flores and leads back to her.

Danielle Vega has a real knack for telling horrifying and brutal horror stories that brilliantly blend human nature at its most basic level, with the effects of pure evil. And peer pressure, because all of these characters suffered through this. She sure knows how to twist a bunch of seemingly average lives out of proportion and highlights how easily it is to lose grasp of reality.

Also, the way she paints such vivid imagery of truly creepy and gross situations in such an unflinching way is a true delight to read. She never held back from the brutal and disturbing. Never abandoned the thread of destruction even though the discomfort level was way off the charts.

THIS is how you tell horror stories that will stick with the reader for years to come. THIS series deserves a place on my Keeper Shelf. And THIS is how you highlight the many ways teenage girls are the perfect vessels for horror. Always have been, always will be.

I fucking loved these books and can't wait to read more from this fantastic author!


 
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