Wednesday 26 February 2020


A Collection of Dreamscapes by Christina Sng is an exploration of the darkness inside us, the shadow-self that screams and begs, forever fighting to claw itself out. It’s a siren song of transformation, an uncovered diary that bleeds fairy tales and dystopias, and it reads like a grimoire full of spells and curses that bring monsters and madmen to life. 

Between these pages, readers will meet women who hide behind the taste of poison apples, who set themselves on fire, who weep at riverbanks, the taste of freedom too much to swallow, too heavy to bear. They will be whisked away to faraway lands and unimaginable worlds, the drip of fog-soaked dreams a steady flow down their throats while they choke on betrayal and bathe in the waters of tears twice cried. 

Sng’s poems are a blend of dark fantasy and science fiction, both a changeling’s whisper and an ogre’s cry. They are both subtle and violent, and they weave themes of empowerment and strength through stars and earthquakes, forcing us to push away the rubble and look at what we’ve had to do to survive. They are the sacrifice in the forest and the haunting in the house, every gasp and ancient fear a reflection of the violence we’ve had to bury deep inside ourselves, all those battle cries and reimagined dreams we desperately try to forget. Here, Sng marries blood and magic, forever walking hand-in-hand with scar and ash, their imprints both a nightmare and a blessing, a dream and the truth. 

Swallow them carefully. Once they’re inside you, there’s no getting them out.

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

I love the nightmarish but beautiful ambience of the cover because it illustrates the amazing words found within so well.

The book is split into five separate sections, and the overall narrative in each of these parts fit together perfectly. 

The Love Song of Allegra tells the violent, sad and amazing story of the warrior Allegra and the war she takes part in. There's so much action, blooshed and vivid imagery with a backdrop so visceral the events played out inside my mind like an awesome feminist fantasy tale. 

Fairy Tales is a wickedly delicious assortment of poems full of familiar characters who also surprised me. The situations they found themselves in are warped into surreal and brutal portions to satisfy the monster hidden within. 

All the Monsters in the World took me on a roller-coaster ride where the monsters rule. Some are human, others are fictional, but all of them managed to creep under my skin to create nightmares, and a variety of apocalyptic situations where there is no hope left.

Although, sometimes even the loss of hope is the true salvation.

The Capacity of Violence starts with a jolt of violent revenge that then catapulted me from one poem about the capacity and true strength of victims to an even deeper one. Just because predators so openly use mental, emotional and physical force to oppress their prey, it doesn't mean these tortured souls are weak.

It takes greater strength to accept outwardly and resist inwardly, slowly building a resistance that topples the most vile of abusers. 

Myths and Dreamscapes sends us on a shadowy journey beyond the stars. Where the ancient world and the distant future collide, and we embark on trips that range from the intergalactic to the afterlife, and so much more. 

While I enjoyed every single poem because they're all captivating in their own way, there were some that resonated on a much deeper level with me and will remain in my mind for a long time.

A Collection of Dreamscapes is the first book I've read by Christina Sng, but it definitely won't be the last. The amazing poems spilled inside the pages of this collection are violent, wondrous and even grotesque. There are a lot of dark issues and nightmarish imagery in this wickedly beautiful collection.

The awful abuse against girls and women is captured in such vivid and real ways that it caught me off-guard and caused a wave of familiar sadness to sweep inside me. But even then, all of that hopelessness is often turned into empowerment. 

This is a fantastic book of poetry that doesn't shy away from true monsters or the many found in myths. The imagery touches the wonderment of fairy tales, the intrigue of myth and our interest in future worlds.

Even within all the darkness, these soul-stirring words managed to find the smallest glimmer of hope in every scenario.

I loved this and it's going straight to my Keeper Shelf.

Tuesday 25 February 2020


The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read this collection for a while. Sadly, I was very disappointed.

Actually, I only enjoyed two stories out of the six. Here's a summary of what I thought of the ones I didn't enjoy:

Soldier: disturbing, but not in a good way.
Gun Accident: didn't like this one at all.
Equatorial: too long and very boring.
Mystery, Inc: so meh I skimmed most of it.

These were long and ranty stories that went around in circles and were so easy to predict that when I reached the ending, I just didn't care. Oh, and they certainly weren't the tales of terror I was expecting.

The first story, The Doll-Master, was my favourite. It's a tale my daughter studied during her HSC and suggested I read it too.

Well, she was right about how awesome it is. Not only is it creepy but also very well written. I loved how even though what's really going on becomes obvious pretty early on, the narrative somehow plays with your mind and forces you to question your assumptions every step of the way. Until there's no denying how sinister it is because that ending is super disturbing. 😳

This is an absolute gem and if I was rating only this piece, I would give it 5 stars because it deserves all the praise! It's definitely joining my list of most-fave short stories.

Big Momma is a solid 4-star story because it's wicked and perfectly captures how easy it is for a lonely and vulnerable girl to fall into a dangerous trap while ignoring her instincts. It's a powerful story and very sad.

Well, it's a shame that this short story collection turned out to be such a disappointment, but I'm glad I finally read it.

The 2-star rating I'm giving this book is for the four stories I didn't like. I mean, when four out of the six pieces are awful, there's no other way to rate it. It's a shame, really.

Monday 17 February 2020

Always About Stories

Hey! Long time no blog.

I was going to post a general update about what I've been doing this month: walking, thrifting, reading, writing... and since the running thread in all of those things is stories, I decided it might be cool to concentrate on THAT.

After all, this month has been full of ideas.

So far, I've written and revised two short stories, subbed a bunch of stories, had two short story anthology acceptances, started writing a novella, and got a new short story idea for an anthology call.

I don't know if it's because of Women in Horror Month, but my brain's super fertile at the moment and horror ideas keep buzzing around inside my head. There's so much in there I have to make sure I take notes on my phone. Or start writing the story so I don't lose any of what's hounding my brain. 😊

It's a great problem to have, really.

I'm especially excited about the novella idea because I've had Write A Novella on my annual goals for a few years now. And every time I started what I thought would end up a novella-sized story, it eventually became something much longer. 😬

So, what's different this time? Well, the story idea is definitely going to be in the 15-20k territory because I have a market in mind. I'm really liking the main character, her story is freaky and will definitely take her to even freakier places. Oh, and I've already got the final scene playing inside my head.

By February, I've usually put together some kind of writing plan, but this year has started very differently. I'm just letting the characters and their stories speak to me when they're ready.

I'm happy to ride this out for as long as it lasts, but will eventually like to start getting stuck into revision as well. I've got a bunch of novel first drafts I want to finish, while also enjoying writing new tales.

There are so many stories to tell...

Well, there you go. That's what I've been doing between thrifting, reading, sorting and hanging out with hubby.

Hope you're all having a good month! And don't forget to read as many books and watch as many movies written by women as you can. 😈

Sunday 16 February 2020

DEAR LAURA by Gemma Amor

Dear Laura
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd heard really good things about this novella, so I was really looking forward to reading it. And this afternoon, I did. In one sitting.

When Laura was thirteen she watched her best friend get into a stranger's van, and never return. She was scarred by the experience and is then forced to deal with creepy letters from someone who claims that in exchange for personal items, he'll reveal where Bobby is...

Okay. I liked this story, but not as much as I thought I would.

The writing is great, the story certainly sucked me in, and kept me reading because I wanted to know how Laura's horrible ordeal was going to end. While I mostly enjoyed the disturbing journey, the ending left me feeling a bit hollow. I'm not sure why, but the closer I got to the ending, the further away the narrative pushed me.

I liked Laura and felt sorry for her because she's so obsessed with the loss of Bobby--as well as the aftermath of allowing herself to be toyed with by a perverted stranger--that she's a total mess. She's barely able to hold her life together. And even when she does, this 'penpal' still manages to affect her as deeply as when she was a kid.

The tension and the psychological dread was good too. There were just a few issues that kept me from loving this.

Saturday 15 February 2020


Maria The Wanted and the Legacy of The Keepers (The Keepers Series #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for a vampire story, so I was definitely interested in checking this out.

Maria is a young factory worker who gets caught up in the middle of a brutal attack and is turned into a vampire.

Lost and alone, she's forced to abandon her old life and focuses on searching for her maker because she wants answers. What she finds, sends her on an adventure across the world...

This book starts out with a heartbreaking scene that echoes through the whole book. It's also an interesting story about a Mexican vampire trying to do the right thing, while fighting her thirst for blood.

I liked that along the way, she delves into the vigilante life and helps young girls in desperate need of rescue. It's great to see real-life bad guys get what they deserve.

The vampire world is intriguing and uses historical events and familiar figures/situations to enhance the narrative. The unstable political climate of today is woven very well into everything that happens.

I really liked Maria's style, attitude and morals. Not to mention the cool music mentioned throughout.

Although I found the many backstories a little distracting at times, it didn't get in the way of Maria's story. Reading stories featuring strong women is always fun.

Monday 10 February 2020

PATIENT K by Barbie Wilde

Patient K (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoy reading stories from the Short Sharp Shocks! horror series, so I was really excited about reading one written by Barbie Wilde.

Karla lost an eye during a childhood accident and has spent most of her life getting different artificial eyes fitted. But when she meets Dr Markham to have a new ocular prosthesis fitted, he betrays her trust in the worst way possible...

Yikes! What a great little macabre tale of revenge. The kind of revenge that makes you cheer for the victim every violent step of the way.

No one writes a pervert quite like Barbie Wilde, and she didn't disappoint here. In this story she created a horrible perv of the worst kind, one who uses medicine and vulnerability to prey on his victims. But lucky for us, she can also write quite the strong woman who responds to the abuse by taking us down a very twisted path.

Mix in a ghostly entity with their own agenda, and you have a very entertaining and intense story. Plus I liked the writing style and how everything starts out simple enough, before the bizarre takes over.

I read it in one sitting and really liked the way things turned out.

Sometimes, arrogant monsters do meet their match. And it's oh-so satisfying.

Sunday 9 February 2020

BUNNY by Mona Awad

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As soon as I found out about this book, I knew I HAD to get my hands on it. I mean, readers were comparing it to Heathers, Mean Girls, even The Craft. Which made me want to read it even more!

Samantha Mackey is a bit of an outsider in the selective MFA program she attends at Warren University. She's on a scholarship and isn't rich like a lot of the other students, so she mostly keeps to herself. She often gets lost in her imagination, or hangs out with her fellow outcast friend, Ava.

They both hate the pretentious Bunnies. A group of snobby, seemingly perfect girls in her writing program. The Bunnies mostly ignore her during Workshop. Until the day they invite Samantha to their 'Smut Salon' and everything changes...

Holy shit!

This book was an addiction I couldn't fight. Didn't want to fight because I enjoyed the hell out of every single weird and wondrous thing that happened. And trust me, there's plenty of weird within these dark pages.

Samantha is quite the narrator. Unreliable. Confused. Determined. Creative. Delusional. Loyal. Messed up. And totally likeable.

I loved the writing style because it captured the bizarre and truly horrifying things that happened so well. I constantly found myself saying: WTF? Because, just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder, I fell deeper into the rabbit hole and didn't know what to expect next. 😳

It takes talent to write a story that is so unpredictable every step of the way. To tell a tale full of seemingly magical situations able to blur the edges of reality before bringing you back to what's really going on. And then, when you start to get comfortable and think you've finally got a grip on what's real and what's not... the story pulls you down again.

This book is surreal and disorienting. It's like having a waking nightmare. It's hard to tell what's real and what's not.

Regardless of the constant confusion established throughout, I thought the wild and violent imagery was as awesome as the metaphors and commentary on the creative mind. Not to mention on the snobby attitudes of the privileged.

Another thing that I really liked was how the Bunnies were described. They dressed like Stepford Wives, behaved like cult members, ate like mini versions of themselves, and were saccharine to the point of being disturbing. These girls were super creepy and I had a blast spending time in their fucked-up world.

This book is deliciously wicked, dark af and often hilarious. Oh, and it's awesome. I loved it SO much. And there's definitely a lot of other really cool things going on--like Max--but it's better not to give too much away.

I'll definitely be thinking about this one for a while.

Saturday 1 February 2020

A Post About Blogging

A couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of talk on Twitter about blogging. About whether it's a waste of time for writers to blog. Is anyone reading what we're posting, or are we wasting our time talking to the void?

So, the question seems to be: should we bother having a blog at all? 

Everyone seems to have their own opinion about this and it varies. A lot. And that got me thinking, because I definitely have an opinion about this issue as well. 

I started blogging in 2005 because I wanted to chat writing goals, liked to post about my projects and list my word counts. Plus, it was a place for me to write reviews of the books I read. It was also where I could list my goals, and quickly became somewhere to celebrate any contracts I signed, as well as my book releases.

For me, this is also a great place to talk about anything that's on my mind. After all, it's my blog, right? 😉

When I started receiving ARCs and books for review from publishers, my blog was the perfect place to showcase my thoughts and help promote other authors. I've even posted Q&As, guest posts, interviews and other features.

Even so, I have to admit that most of the time it feels like I'm talking to myself, but that's never bothered me. After all, I started this blog just so I could write about anything I wanted.

All these years later, I'm still doing it. Maybe I don't post as much as I should, but when I do it's still fun.

I think that having a blog is a great tool for many (many) reasons. Besides, I don't much concentrate on the number of daily/weekly/monthly visits I get. If a lot of people read my posts, that's VERY cool. But if I'm the only one reading everything I post, that's okay too.

Well, what do you think? How do you feel about blogging?

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