Sunday 31 May 2020

WE SOLD OUR SOULS by Grady Hendrix

We Sold Our Souls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grady Hendrix has written two very awesome horror stories that I absolutely adored. My Best Friend's Exorcism is actually one of my all-time favourite books. So I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this one.

Kris used to be the guitarist for a 90s heavy metal band called Dürt Würk, but they never cracked the big time. Decades later, she has a shitty job, no savings and is going to end up with nowhere to live.

So when she spots a billboard featuring the former lead singer's farewell tour, she decides it's time to confront him. After all, this is the guy who screwed them. But before that, she reaches out to her other bandmates and finds herself in a very dark downward spiral...

This book ticked a lot of boxes for me. The way heavy metal was woven into everything, nefarious dark creatures, action-packed horror moments, twists, secret society shit, weird likeable characters and an amazing heroine.

I loved Kris because she's the epitome of what happens to so many women when their dreams die because they were stolen by an arrogant man, who takes all the fucking credit. Yeah, I totally connected with her undying rage and the need to confront the person who took so much from her and the friends she cared about.

Things start out slow enough, from a place of despair as we find Kris working a job she hates and facing a brother who looks down on her. From then on, she finds herself on a freaky adventure that turns her into a villain in the eyes of the masses, when she's the victim. Not that you'd know, because she's strong as hell and doesn't even realise it.

It was such a wild ride to watch this cool and strong character keep going, moving forward and never give up. Even though she questions her ability and even what's happening in front of her eyes constantly. And that's too real, man. The girl/woman experience resonates through this story at every step.

Women get pushed down and stomped on all the time, treated like jokes even when they're the real deal. Making them question everything, lose faith in themselves. But you know what they always do? Get back up. Every time. Just like that Carol Danvers scene I love so much in Captain Marvel.

Hendrix totally gets this and knows how to flawlessly add it into his horror tales. And writing a woman as the lead guitarist of a 90s metal band rocks!

Another thing that's totally awesome is how the metal music is linked to something so creepy and dangerous. Something that invites evil but is also capable of expelling it.

Aside from all the deep and meaningful stuff, this book is a LOT of horror fun.

I seriously loved this book and can't wait to read more stories written by Hendrix.

Friday 29 May 2020

A Break After Revision

Hi, how are you today? What's new in your part of the world? Hope you're all staying safe. Can you believe another month is almost over?

As if living through a pandemic isn't fucked up enough, this week has added more disgraceful acts of violence by racist assholes to the unrest. I just don't understand these despicable people who refuse to treat others with respect. Especially when they're supposed to be upholding the law.

This world is so gross sometimes.

As far as the pandemic goes, the rate of infections remains very low in Australia, but Covid-19 is still there. Lurking in the background and waiting to pounce if we're not careful. What pisses me off is seeing how people are acting as if everything's just fine and normal.

It's not. Just because governments are easing restrictions for financial reasons, it doesn't mean we can abandon the health restrictions. 😐

I think everyone needs to be cautious, and embrace the social distancing that must continue. It's really not a hard concept, yet random idiots are still trying to get too fucking close. Ugh.

Anyway, as I always do after a hard and busy revision, I'm taking a bit of time off. Mostly that means having a nice time with hubby enjoying delish meals, long walks, watching stuff and enjoying every day together. And reading, of course.

This week I picked up a classic book I've had on my TBR pile for agesREBECCA by Daphne du Maurier

I took my time with this one, enjoying the hell out of every dark page. Getting lost in the suspense and dread. I was seriously hooked from the first sentence. I have no idea why the hell it's taken me so long to read this! But I'm really glad I finally did because I LOVED it. 😍

Really looking forward to reading more titles by this excellent author.

THIS is what I'm reading next.

Asides from reading, I've been going through my Idea Files. Trying to clean up the folders and decide whether all of the ideas I have are going to develop into more. 

So far, the two I thought I might scrap have started speaking to me. I wrote the beginning for one, and the ending for the other. Gotta love that.

Now I just need to update everything on my laptop. Probably tomorrow. 

Well, that was my week. Getting lots of stuff done, and nothing at all. While trying to minimise our store visits and staying away from everyone. 

Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday 28 May 2020

REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've wanted to read for ages. And I'm glad that I finally picked it up.

I was hooked from the first sentence. The lush writing style is lovely and captivated me instantly. I loved the narrator's whimsical look at everything she goes through, and how quickly her thoughts fly away in so many different directions she temporarily loses sight of reality.

She's the young companion of an awful rich woman determined to degrade her every time they have a conversation. But during a trip to Monte Carlo, she meets the mysterious and moody Maximilian de Winter.

Maxim is a widower who sweeps her off her feet. She's convinced she's in love with him, so his marriage proposal is a surprise she accepts. And so begins her new life at Manderley under the shadow of his dead wife Rebecca, and the awful Mrs Danvers...

The atmosphere and suspense in this book is so thick it felt like an actual storm cloud hung over every page. The descriptions of Manderley and its grounds are pretty but shadowed with menace. The house is a character itself.

Actually, the two main characters seemed to be the house and the dead wife. It's like the new Mrs de Winter is an invisible presence in her own home, and everyone around her totally feeds into this. Her inexperience and shyness keeps her from challenging or changing anything.

I loved how Mrs de Winter's story deals with mundane and simple everyday things, but everything is dripping with dread. I kept waiting for the most awful things to happen, and plenty of super creepy stuff does. There are so many terrible secrets that rise to the surface, and I was captivated every step of the way.

The narrator isn't even given a name. Which fits perfectly into how everyone else treats her. She's almost invisible and spoken to like a child. It was frustrating and often made me angry because she didn't stand up for herself, but she has her own strengths. And living in the dark corridors of Manderley certainly helps age her.

Oh, and how awful was that Mrs Danvers? What a cruel and conniving creeper. 😳

This is one of the most addictive books I've ever read. It's also beautifully written. And terrifying on so many levels. It's also interesting as hell and intrigued me all the way through.

That ending was also unexpected, but the only way it could end.

I seriously LOVED Rebecca. The book, not the woman haunting every page.

Monday 25 May 2020

THE DEFENDERS by Philip K Dick

The Defenders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The concept of this story is SO clever. There's a bit of everything in this post-apocalyptic tale.

Eight years after a nuclear war, humans are still living underground and robots are above fighting their war. Taylor is supposed to have a bit of time off, instead he ends up stumbling on a surprising secret about what's really going on...

Yikes! This was really cool.

I really enjoyed the surprises, twists and turns. Even the ending was totally unexpected. Not to mention how well the social commentary about men and war is captured. And these robots are so interesting. Did I mention that I love stories about robots? 😁

My only problem was the portrayal of Taylor's wife. Mary is so crippled by fear that she's annoying and crabby, not much more. Then again, it makes total sense. I'd be crabby too if I couldn't see the sun and sky and the world was radioactive. 😳

Anyway, this is another great PKD story.

Sunday 24 May 2020

The Crystal Crypt by Philip K Dick

The Crystal Crypt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maybe it's because I just finished writing a story about Mars, but I was definitely in the mood for this shortie.

The last flight out of Mars is headed for Terra, and the Leiters stop the ship long enough to check each passenger in search of three saboteurs...

What a cool story!

I enjoyed this a lot, but my favourite thing about this story is how seemingly average the beginning appears, before everything starts taking shape and becomes very clear. And of course, when that happens, I was once again amazed by how clever PKD's stories always turn out to be.

In a story so short and with so much happening, it's easy to assume that character development will fall flat. But it didn't. With just a few details, situations and circumstances, the main characters are quickly fully formed. And the imagery he describes filled my mind with the utter beauty of Mars.

Not to mention that twist ending! PKD did it again. I enjoyed the hell out of this.

Saturday 23 May 2020

More Revision

Hey! How are you today? What's new with you? Did you have a nice week? Things in Sydney are weird, but we're good.

As I mentioned last week, most states in Australia seem to be in a real hurry to open up and pretend everything's normal. Never mind the pandemic. As long as you tell people to keep doing social distancing--which so many don't--and set patron limits in restaurants, I'm sure everyone will fall in line. 😒

We took advantage of the kinda proper re-opening at the vet. One person and pet in the consultation room is better than dropping off pet and waiting outside. We couldn't do that with Loki, he would freak out. So we finally booked him in and he got his vaccination. 

Very glad it's done.

Oh, you know what I got in the mail the other day? A freaking jury duty summons. During a pandemic. Ugh. This is really stressing me out, and doesn't fit with our plans to stay away from strangers.

Trying not to think about it too much, but it's messing with my head and I'm having nightmares. It sucks. 😣

Anyway, let's talk about something else...

Here's how my revision went:
  • Monday: 32/54pgs (20,936w) 
  • Tuesday: 54/54pgs (21,063w) 
  • Wednesday: Break
  • Thursday: Break
  • Friday: 54/54pgs (20,651w) 
  • Saturday: 54pgs (20,099w)

That's right. I finished my latest novella WIP today and I'm very excited! Not just because I finally reached The End of this story, but because it's one I've had in my head for a while and it finally all came together.

I love stories about robots. I love cyberpunk. And with this novella, I took both of these elements and twisted them into my own Sci-Fi tale. It was a lot of fun.

Love it when an idea becomes so much more! 🖤🤖

Speaking of ideas. The other night I was going to trash an Idea Folder from my phone. But while taking one last look at the inspirational pics, the start of the story came to me. Out of nowhere!

So, after 1,400 words, I'm pretty sure this will turn into something. LOL

Hubby and I watched The Outsider. Wow. It was such an awesome show. It took the King novel (which I loved!) and ran with it. The show is different but so similar. The cinematography was gritty and spooky, the performances outstanding, and I liked how everything wrapped up.

Strange coincidence: the only book I read this week is IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King. Which contains an excellent Holly Gibney novella.

Well, that's in for now. I'm going to enjoy the rest of the weekend and will probably take the next week off to read and recharge.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday 19 May 2020

IF IT BLEEDS by Stephen King

A collection of four uniquely wonderful long stories, including a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestseller THE OUTSIDER. News people have a saying: 'If it bleeds, it leads'. And a bomb at Albert Macready Middle School is guaranteed to lead any bulletin. 

 Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency is working on the case of a missing dog - and on her own need to be more assertive - when she sees the footage on TV. But when she tunes in again, to the late-night report, she realises there is something not quite right about the correspondent who was first on the scene. So begins 'If It Bleeds', a stand-alone sequel to the No. 1 bestselling THE OUTSIDER featuring the incomparable Holly on her first solo case - and also the riveting title story in Stephen King's brilliant new collection. 

 Dancing alongside are three more wonderful long stories from this 'formidably versatile author' (The Sunday Times) - 'Mr Harrigan's Phone', 'The Life of Chuck' and 'Rat'. All four display the richness of King's storytelling with grace, humour, horror and breathtaking suspense. A fascinating Author's Note gives us a wonderful insight into the origin of each story and the writer's unparalleled imagination.

A new Stephen King book is always a treat, so I couldn't wait to get stuck into these four novellas. 

Craig is a good, hard-working kid eager to earn a buck. That's how he ends up working for Mr Harrigan. He goes over to his house every afternoon and reads to him, takes care of his plants and befriends the old man. But he also learns from him, and forges a connection that even death can't sever... 

Wow. This was such a great story! The emotional impact of this one is huge. I loved how Craig is such a great and kind guy, and always was. But even good guys give into the temptation to right a wrong. 

Fantastic story. Awesome use of foreshadowing the future and our relationships with phones, technology and the internet. Also loved the portrayal of the father-son relationship. And how King writes true friendship between people of all ages so well.

There's a lot to like about this story. 

The world is falling apart and Chuck Krantz had 39 Great Years. No one knows what this means while it's happening, but as the story unravels, the mystery is slowly revealed...

This turned out to be another brilliant story. Everything starts with a bang. The universe is dying and everyone's left in an apocalyptic haze, but we soon find out there's a LOT more to this story. And at the heart of everything is Chuck.

I really enjoyed how the tale unfolds in reverse order and spans across three different acts. On the surface, they each seem to stand on their own, but the eerie connection knocked me off my axis. Amazing.

After what happened in Texas, Holly Gibney didn't think she'd ever have to face such a terrifying monster again. Until she catches a detail in a news story that bothers her... 

OMG. I absolutely LOVED this novella. Not just because I adore Holly, but because I really enjoyed the story. I never expected The Outsider to have a sequel, but I'm SO glad it did because this was awesome. 

I was hooked from the beginning and the rising tension was riveting. I could barely tear myself away from this novella. Fantastic!

When Drew gets an incredible novel idea, he can't wait to get started. But the last time he tried to write a book things didn't turn out well...

This is another fantastic story. I enjoyed following Drew's quest to chase an idea he was sure was different to all the others. I liked how he was willing to put everything on the line to find out, and how when he does, it all leads to more than he bargained for.

And of course, the creepy bit got me.

If It Bleeds is an awesome collection of stories featuring a selection of interesting characters with intriguing tales to tell. Every novella is brilliant in its own way. And the Author's Note was a great way to finish the book. Loved it.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy! 

If It Bleeds, April 2020, ISBN 9781529391541, Hodder & Stoughton

Saturday 16 May 2020


The Hanging Stranger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tonight was definitely time for another PKD story, and this one was perfect.

Ed Loyce was supposed to be at work. Instead, he was working in his basement. So when he heads across town to his store, he spots a man hanging from a lamppost...

And so begins a paranoid adventure that sends Ed everywhere, but ultimately leads nowhere.

He's convinced that the town has been replaced with alien insects, and everyone is under their control. It's why no one else thinks anything of the hanging man, and why they decide to chase him.

I really enjoyed this atmospheric tale because the descriptions were creepy, the hidden message very apparent, and the paranoia embedded in Ed's every action so disorienting. It felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits.

Love how well he wrote weird and surreal in a way that makes you wonder if the character's real problem is madness.

Friday 15 May 2020

Time to Revise

Hello again! How are you this week? We're doing good. Still spending most of our time at home reading, writing, playing games, doing yoga and going for daily walks. While maintaining the social distance so many seem to struggle with. 😒

I wish things were better in the current world situation, but they really aren't. It was bad enough when we were all on lockdown/self-isolation, but now that governments around the world are pushing for things to open, it's even worse.

Too many people are running out pretending everything is okay and that the old normal is back. But it's not. We're still in the middle of a pandemic! And I can't understand why people are trying to pretend we're not.

Either way, hubby & I will continue to keep our distance from everything and everyone. There's no way that's gonna change any time soon. Nope. We're not going to fall into the Complacency Trap so many are willing to embrace too early.

Anyway, my writing goal for this week was to get the second draft of my latest novella WIP done.

Here's how it went:

Monday: 13/53pgs (20,677w)
Tuesday: 32/53pgs (20,491w)
Wednesday: 53/53pgs. (20,718w)
Thursday: 54/54pgs (20,904w)

I'm really happy with how this SF-cyberpunkish story is coming along. I did a lot of cutting, some moving around and took care of the Revision List. Too bad I've already started a new one for the next draft. 😬

I won't be starting the third draft until Monday. So I get a few days off to squeeze in some reading, ie. Stephen King's new book. Yay! Not that working on revision has stopped me from reading. As you can see below, I got quite a bit done. LMAO.

This week I've also been updating my Idea and Writing Files. Not to mention, trying to decide what to work on next. All of this writing is really helping my state of mind during this strange year.

Well, that's about it for this week. There's not much more to report, except that the weather is getting colder and I don't like it. As you probably already know. 😊

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday 14 May 2020

SICK Part III by Christa Wojciechowski

Sick Part III (Sick #3)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Usually, when I read a series, I like to leave some space between books. But with this trilogy, I just HAD to read them one after the other. These stories were just too twisted, too messed-up, and I wanted to know how it was going to end.

John and Susan have a toxic marriage full of sickness, hospitals and lies. But now that the secrets are out in the open, Susan realises she's played her own pathetic role in John's sick game. She might know the truth now, but it won't matter when others make up their own minds...

Yikes! OMFG. 🤢

This book was as addictive as the previous two, but it was also longer. The others were novellas, but this was a novel featuring the POVs of both Susan and John.

I really liked how unpredictable it turned out to be. So much of what happened was unexpected, and it kept me guessing until that very wicked ending. I honestly thought everything would turn out differently, but of course there was no other way for this couple to end up.

To call this trilogy disturbing is an understatement. It pushes the boundaries on so many levels. Made me angry so many times because I did NOT like John in any book. He really has no redeeming qualities. None at all. Just when you think he might do the right thing, he proves how childish, arrogant and selfish he is. He's despicable.

I quite liked Susan because although she's a different kind of loser to John, she really tries to do the right thing. She just can't be trusted to make the right choices, not even for herself. And especially not with the very shitty decision she makes at the end. 😕

These stories are seriously awesome. This trilogy was well written, the uncomfortable subject matter is captivating, and the portrayal of these awful characters was great. Because no matter how annoyed or frustrated I got while reading these, I enjoyed the hell out of them!

I highly recommend this trilogy. Unless you're squeamish, of course.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

SICKER by Christa Wojciechowski

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading the first novella of this trilogy last night, I had to read the next one tonight.

John Branch is a sick man. His chronic illness dominates his life and even his marriage. But after Susan finds out his secret and loses control, he decides to tell her all about his very sick story...

Wow. This was really something. A very demented something. 😳

Like the first installment, this was another addictive read. As soon as I started, I couldn't stop. Watching Susan's violent reaction didn't surprise me at all, not after all the misery. Neither did her willingness to listen to his little morbid tale. After all, he owed her that much.

I wasn't sure how I was going to react to reading John's POV because he really disgusted me and I didn't like him at all. But once his strange little tale of violence, neglect and sick thoughts began, I found myself just as caught up as I was in Susan's story. And of course, I liked how her reactions see-saw every time he pauses between reveals.

He might be high on meds and vulnerable in his trip down memory lane, but his manipulation of his wife never stops. But I'm glad that telling her the truth means he dropped the toddler-man act because that was totally cringey. Ugh.

This story was just as disturbing as the first. Actually, it was even worse because we got deep inside John's twisted mind and the depravity of his sickness. Not to mention the familial secrets. OMFG. I thought we were dealing with a detached mother, but this goes deeper.

You know, even after so much of the horrifying mystery and history has been revealed, I still can't wait to find out how this all ends because this is another cliffhanger.

Monday 11 May 2020

SICK by Christa Wojciechowski

Sick (Sick #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The novella I decided to read tonight turned out to be quite addictive. In so many ways. 😯

Susan is married to John and lives in a small guest house with him. She's a nurse trying to hold onto her job, but that's not easy when her husband is constantly sick. He's in and out of hospital, always in pain and constantly bedridden.

After his last hospital stay, he seems needier and strange things are happening when she goes to work. Something is going on and she's determined to find out what it is...

The title of this book is absolutely perfect. Not only does it describe the endless condition of one of the characters, but it also captures the essence of how the story makes you feel.

I felt nauseated quite often. And it wasn't because of John's lacking health. Nope. It was because of the very vivid descriptions of multiple hospital stays, the doctor's surgery, and the everyday tasks involved in taking care of someone with ailing health. Everything that Susan goes through is done to such a meticulous level.

Well, except for simple housekeeping. The horrid living conditions was enough to turn my stomach. Not to mention the easy way John so obviously manipulates and toys with her emotions, constantly. As sick as this guy seemed, I didn't trust him. And liked him even less. I mean, even her descriptions of this toddler-man were quite horrid.

I also liked the pace of the story, and the gradual decline of Susan's state of mind. This man she loves so much manages to steal everything else away from her. She's right, he's quite the parasite. But that's enough of that, because I don't want to get into spoiler territory.

The last thing I want to add is that this is quite a disturbing story with the right amount of tension and mystery to get you hooked. As well as determined to find out what's really going on.

I really enjoyed this. I'm looking forward to reading the next messed-up installment in this trilogy.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Breaking on Paperback, Reading & Other Thoughts...

Hey! How are you? Today, I want to start with a very cool announcement.

My Short Sharp Shocks! novelette from Demain Publishing, BREAKING THE HABIT, is now available on paperback. Yay. 😃

If you're interested in reading all about Isla's bloody honeymoon, you can grab a copy from: Amazon US | Amazon UKAmazon Australia | Amazon Canada | The Book Depository

I can't wait to see a copy myself. 😁

So, how are things going in your corner of the world? Here in Australia, our pathetic government has decided to start lifting lockdown restrictions. And you know what that means. People are everywhere, and none of them give a crap about social distancing. I suspect a second wave will hit soon...

The only reason we're keeping an eye on things is to make sure we keep our distance. We're going to do the same thing we've been doing for weeks and will only go out for our daily walks + fortnightly grocery shopping.

Unlike so many others, we haven't forgotten about the pandemic. You know, the one that still has no treatment or vaccine? Yeah, that one.

Anyway, this week was AWESOME for reading. I mean, just check out all the novels, novellas and short stories I reviewed below. But it was TERRIBLE for emails. I got several anthology Rs and one was cancelled. 😳

It's a total downer, but I did the usual: let it sting and let it go.

It also got me thinking about anthology submission calls. I like to check them out as often as I can and then write a story for the ones that interest me. But I think it's time to take a break. Unless I already have an appropriate story, I'm not going to go out of my way to write anything specific.

I need a break from the rejection carousel. I need to concentrate on what makes me happy. And that's writing. No matter what, nothing stops me from developing ideas and writing stories. And that's what I'm going to keep doing.

Speaking of which, tomorrow I plan to start working on the second draft of the novella first draft I finished late last month.

One last thing. We watched the WESTWORLD S3 finale and it was fantastic. I absolutely adore this show and haven't stopped thinking about all the cool and sad things that happened. Can't wait for the next season.

Well, that's it for this week.

Hope you all have a safe one!

WE DON'T TALK ABOUT HER by Andersen Prunty

We Don't Talk About Her
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last week, Andersen Prunty offered a bunch of his Kindle books for free and I grabbed a few. This one caught my attention because I liked the cover and was curious about the title.

I actually started reading this last night but put it aside because I thought it might end up being just another generic stalker story about a delusional idiot. I decided to pick it up again tonight, and I'm glad I did because I was wrong.

Well, not entirely. It is about a delusional stalker idiot, but it's also about a whole lot more. A lot of fucked up shit. I kid you not. This book is so packed with shit that's totally screwed up and gross, that it's disturbing af. BUT! The strangest thing about the whole story is how the narrative makes every disgusting thing that happens appear normal. 😮

So, what's it about?

Clint likes to stalk young girls that catch his eye. He also lives in a hoarder house with his um, not-so alive mother. His latest target is a girl called Stella. But Stella has secrets of her own. And when she figures out his interest in her, she decides to use the knowledge against him...

Holy shit! This turned out to be seriously messed up. And I really liked the old switcheroo trick.

Every single character is totally despicable. They all suck and are deeply depraved in some way. There's really no saving grace for any of them. Even the unexpected bunch.

Yet, once I got into the groove of this demented tale, I couldn't put it down.

Luckily, it's not a long story, so I got through all the insanity and comedy of errors leading to the bizarre ending pretty quickly. Which proved that just when you think you've figured out who the grossest character is, another one manages to take their place.

This turned out to be a very strange, but entertaining story. It's quirky, creepy, and dare I say, even fun? 😬

But it's definitely not for the squeamish.

Saturday 9 May 2020

PAY THE GHOST by Tim Lebbon

Pay The Ghost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I grabbed a free copy of this story not long ago and decided to read it tonight.

A year ago, Lee lost his little girl during Hallowe'en. That wasn't the only thing he lost. He also loses his job and his marriage. Not to mention hope. But his wife doesn't, and the next time he sees her, she's got quite the tale to tell...

Yikes. This was super weird. And freaky. Also, very creepy.

The way Lee's grief and guilt invites so much darkness into his life, makes you wonder if anything he goes through after his life falls apart actually happens. Or makes you feel bad about the awful supernatural entity that steals everything from him.

It also proves that sometimes, what you wish for the most doesn't always turn out how you thought it would.

This story is short, but definitely NOT sweet. It's just like a delirious nightmare with a lot of gruesome imagery. I really enjoyed it!

Friday 8 May 2020


The Festering Ones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Earlier this week, one of my Twitter friends was reading this book and it reminded me that I had it on my Paperwhite.

Today, I decided to get started and couldn't put it down!

When Faith York was a little girl, she watched a spider-armed woman drag her father into the ground. She hasn't been able to forget what happened, it's been haunting her most of her life but she's managed to stop talking about it because no one ever believed her.

Twenty years later, after her mother dies and she goes through her things, Faith finds information that leads her to a dark cult and a dangerous journey where reality blurs and monsters exist...

Wow. This was such an awesome novella.

I was hooked from the beginning. Not only was the first chapter creepy as hell, but it was so emotional. What Faith went through when she was a kid was horrifying and I felt her emotional turmoil. And when she stumbles on her mother's research, I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

And it turned out to be such an unpredictable journey into the belly of the beast. This was everything I enjoy in my cosmic horror, surreal and so disorienting. Features a smart, brave and stubborn character who doesn't give up. And what she uncovers is freaky as hell. The vivid descriptions filled my mind, until that very cool conclusion.

I also really liked the supporting characters. Janice and Sasha were interesting. This nightmare affected them in different ways, but it was great how they worked together through all of this insanity.

Women working together against monsters always appeal to me.

I seriously enjoyed the hell of this story. Loved it!

Thursday 7 May 2020


Piper in the Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tonight, I managed to squeeze in an extra Philip K. Dick short story. 🌱

Doctor Henry Harris is dealing with a Patrolman who returns to Earth from the asteroid Y-3. This young man states he's a plant and refuses to work. Shortly after, more of these humans claiming to be plants come back home and sit in the sun all day.

Determined to find out what's going on, he goes to Y-3 himself, in search of The Pipers...

This turned out to be quite the mysterious story. A story about people who spend a lot of time studying and reaching for goals, suddenly deciding that sitting in the sun all day and sleeping all night is a much better existence.

I liked how focused Harris becomes with solving the mystery. So determined, he ends up going to search for the source of the trouble, only to find himself as captivated as everyone else.

The pacing for this story is great. It's a slow burn that reveals a bit at a time, before everything makes sense on several levels. Firstly, because the Pipers are certainly real. And secondly, because of the parallel commentary about human life and how we push ourselves in directions that tire and wear us out, without stopping to question it.

And that final scene was perfect.

I'm really enjoying these shorties!

PKD was such a gifted storyteller.

WONDERLAND by Juno Dawson

What happens when you fall down the rabbit hole? 

 Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury - but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to 'Wonderland': the party to end all parties - three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome. 

 Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes. 

Alice is all alone, miles from home and without her essential medication. She can trust no-one, least of all herself, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head...

I've read several Juno Dawson books and she never disappoints. Her stories are always fresh and raw, honest and very addictive. So of course I wanted to check out her latest release with the very cool cover.

Alice attends a posh school and is smart enough to get good grades, even though she rarely bothers to turn up to class. She's a loner and is constantly bored with the world around her. She doesn't have many friends, seems mostly detached from her family, and is tired of her mind playing tricks on her.

So when a girl she recently connected with disappears and she's the only one asking questions, Alice decides to investigate. And falls down a rather bizarre rabbit hole...

I loved this! From the moment I started reading, I knew I was in for an awesome ride.

Alice's voice is so addictive and totally snarky. She really spoke to me. Her inner thoughts had me laughing, nodding in agreement, totally loving her upbeat narrative. Until she hits with the serious stuff. The things that made my heart hurt and vision blur because I felt every word through her honesty and confusion.

There's so much emotion packed into this lovely package. I wasn't surprised, because Juno has such a talent for injecting her writing with so much heart and soul.

I also enjoyed this strange and screwed up version of Wonderland that she stumbles on. She encounters some very weird characters along the way. Some are enigmatic, others alluring, several downright scary, but all of them help her get one step closer to her goal.

Her adventure might begin by chasing a Bunny down the rabbit hole and finding a cocktail of drugs, sex, alcohol and secrets, but it ends with finding out several hard truths about herself.

Wonderland is such an intriguing and trippy experience into an unknown place full of interesting characters and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. It's a heartfelt story about one girl's struggle to fight all the darkness threatening to consume her, while discovering the inner strength she didn't think she possessed.

Oh, and did I mention it also deals with several serious issues and features a bunch of messed-up characters? There's really something for everyone here.

I seriously loved this book. A lot!

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy. 🐰

Wonderland, May 2020, ISBN 9781786541055, Quercus Children's Books

Wednesday 6 May 2020

MR. SPACESHIP by Philip K Dick

Mr. Spaceship
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Since I picked up several Philip K. Dick shorties for my Paperwhite last week, I thought I'd read a few this week. And this is the one I chose for tonight, because I love the title. 😊

Putting a human brain inside a spaceship so that it controls it and helps in the fight to defeat human's latest enemy sounds like a great and innovative idea. Until the test drive reminds everyone what a human brain is capable of...

Of course I knew this wasn't going to end well. Or even how the characters expected everything to go. Putting a human body inside anything mechanical is asking for trouble, and they certainly get it here. Except, it's not how they expected.

What starts out as a tale full of mechanical and technical terms describing the engineering behind this decision soon shifts into a very human story. Kramer is separated from his wife Dolores because their jobs keep them busy and managed to come between them. But they weren't counting on the brain of someone they both knew from their past taking control of more than just a ship.

Once again, I'm in awe if his writing skills. This story could easily have turned out to be boring and dull, but the easy manner that he turns all his SF into human stories always ensures it ends up being so much more.

Oh, and I like the visuals his descriptions evoked while on the moon. Plus the commentary about humanity's unhealthy obsession with war was also very true.

Great story!

Tuesday 5 May 2020

THE SKULL by Philip K Dick

The Skull
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love reading Philip K. Dick stories because they never disappoint. In less than thirty pages, he manages to deliver an outstanding story with fully fleshed characters, a future world and vivid imagery.

Conger is a prisoner who is given a second chance. All he has to do is go back in time and kill a man who will alter the future in a way this Council does not approve of. And all he has to ID this guy is his old, yellowed skull...

I REALLY enjoyed this. It's such a great story, perfectly blending the paranoia of a future civilisation and that of the past. While leading the reader by the hand towards a very cool twist ending.

Whether short story, novella or novel, this amazing author always manages to sweep me away to other worlds that are different, yet so familiar. His writing also has a timeless quality to it that never ages the story or characters.

The future people and those from the 1960s featured in this very clever story could've been penned decades ago, or months ago.

Also, I liked Conger. The poor guy seems to encounter spiteful assholes no matter what time he goes to.

Very impressed.

Monday 4 May 2020

THE FAMILY PLOT by Cherie Priest

The Family Plot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This happens to be yet another book that hooked me in from the beginning. The wonderful writing, the likeable characters, and the set-up totally sucked me in.

I don't know about you, but I've enjoyed a bit of reality TV restoration and some good old picking in my time. And although the not-so-real quality of the show eventually lost me, the pieces featured always interested me.

Take that, add a bit of ghostly mystery, and I'm definitely getting on this ride. 😁

When Music City Salvage gets an offer from a woman called Augusta Withrow to go through her house and take whatever they want, they can't refuse. Not when the house due for demolition has so much to salvage. Even though funds are tight, this family operation gets started right away with a small team.

When Dahlia Dutton gets there, she falls in love with the house and starts noticing strange things from the corner of her eye...

Wow. This is quite the awesome book!

I loved everything about this. The location was begging for trouble. The house was the perfect setting for a haunting. The characters were real and interesting. The storytelling was engrossing. And the writing style was also outstanding.

There's an eerie quality to this story before the characters even get to the Withrow house. And as everything progresses and the spooky stuff starts to happen, the tension tightens to the point of becoming intoxicating. I got SO caught up in what was going on that I felt like I was right there with Dahlia, Gabe, Brad and Bobby.

The dark secret at the heart of the story doesn't disappoint, and actually gets worse even after everything is revealed. And that ending had me going: 😳 OMFG. I was shocked. Yet, not surprised by how everything ends up.

Another thing which I loved about this book was how well the complicated family ties were wound into the atmospheric creepiness and dread of the horror shadowing these poor guys every step of the way.

I love haunted house stories, and this book is just another reason why.

Sunday 3 May 2020

A Finished WIP!

Hey! How's it going?

It's another week in Insane Land. Where, not only are we still in the middle of a pandemic, but morons are starting to get so frustrated/bored about staying home to SAVE LIVES that they're protesting about it. I seriously don't understand WTF is wrong with some people. 😤

Seriously, WTF? Things aren't getting any better, are they?

Sure, here in Australia, the rate of infection is low at the moment but I'm scared that because of this, the government will start opening things too fast and we'll end up in a worse spot. I mean, no matter how bored people are or how the economy is struggling, Covid-19 is still out there. Just because people complain and governments want to get the economy going again, it doesn't mean the virus is gone.

It's STILL there.

We're walking a tightrope and there's no net. No direct treatment. No vaccine. No immunity. We can't wish this away.

Anyway, enough about that infuriating crap. What have you been up to? I spent the beginning of the week finishing the story I was writing.

Here's how I went:
  • Monday: 19,755 (added 1997w)
  • Tuesday: 20,333 (added 578w)

That's right. The first draft is done! Yay. 😃

I'm really excited about this novella because it turned out even better than I imagined. There were some unexpected twists and turns, characters I didn't plan on, and a dark new world to explore. Plus, robots.

I've already started a Revision List that'll deepen a bunch of connections and help foreshadow some important plot points.

But I'm taking this week off. I want a bit of time away from it before hitting the second and third drafts. Instead, I plan to take more notes and read up a storm.

Actually, I've read quite a few great books on my Paperwhite this week:
(I also, unfortunately, DNFd SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley, which is a book I'd been meaning to read for ages.)

Hoping to read more awesome books this week. 😃

Well, that's it for now. Not much else to report, just that I've been enjoying sitting next to hubby while reading and he plays ANIMAL CROSSING. And that we've gotten a few things done around the house, keep going for nice walks and are still enjoying yoga. Plus, we got our flu shots!

There's plenty to do around here. Actually, even now, I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything.

Hope you all have a great week!

Saturday 2 May 2020

ROSES & ROT by Kat Howard

Roses and Rot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, this is the next book I read on my Paperwhite. And I was intrigued from the beginning.

Imogen and Marin are sisters with a wicked mother they've both tried to escape in their own way. When they both get accepted into an exclusive artist retreat, they're very happy to be spending time with each other while perfecting their separate artistic pursuits.

But it doesn't take long for them to realise there's something very strange about Melete...

As soon as I started reading this book I was captivated by the writing. Imogen's POV is exciting and has such a dark fairy tale feel about it that I was glued to the pages.

I also liked the dynamic between the sisters. Time put distance between them, but when they meet again they both slip into a comfortable symmetry. Even though there's a lot unsaid, and something new manages to wedge a new kind of distance between them, their sisterly journey was wondrous to watch.

The imagery and atmosphere in Melete is described with such vivid words that I felt like I was there. Everything about the place is beautiful and magical-- perfect. But of course, the best kind of beauty conceals sharp teeth and claws. And when the reality of what's going on is revealed, that's only the beginning of the dangerous path that lays ahead.

I really enjoyed this lovely book. It's as mystical as it is sad. As wonderful as it is full of danger. Nothing comes without cost. And the past is never really far behind. There are some truly awful characters in this story. So bad they angered me to the point of frustration.

But hey, a book able to stir such emotion and captivate me so much I couldn't put it down, is awesome.

This is a great urban fantasy story that is rich with layers. It's also a modern fairy tale nightmare for adults.

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