Saturday 31 October 2020

HALLOWEEN: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella


Halloween: The Official Movie NovelizationHalloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We watched this movie when it came out in 2018. Also bought the paperback and Kindle versions shortly after, but I didn't want to read it until I got a bit of distance.

Fast forward to Halloween season 2020. The world is a very different place and a few years have passed since Michael returned to the big screen. So, here we are.

We all know the story. In 1978, Michael Myers stalked and tormented Laurie Strode, killing quite a few people along the way. But now, forty years later, he's in an institution and Laurie has become a hermit with the survival skills she lacked when she was a teenager.

This Halloween, The Shape is going to tear through Haddonfield once again...

What a fantastic book! I enjoyed this hell of a bloody and violent ride so much.

This is a great novelization because it was exactly like the movie, yet adds to it in the best way possible. I particularly enjoyed the extra bits and pieces because they added a lot more depth to each character. Revealing important info about their motivations, struggles and insights that weren't expressed with this much detail on screen.

Another thing this book does perfectly is tackle a bunch of POVs. Usually, when a story includes more than three/four POVs, I start to lose interest because I start to feel a distance building between myself and them. But this book kept me hooked all the way through because the different relationships are further explored, and each POV moved the story along at an awesome pace.

A LOT happens in this excellent story and the sense of dread and terror doesn't stop. It's a fantastic slasher that captured the essence of the Halloween movies better than I imagined.

The Shape's POV was especially cool because it confirms what any true Michael fan already knew about this silent menace. 😱

Anyway, this was great and I enjoyed everything about it. Including how well three generations of women, and the people in their lives, are portrated. Some terrific writing within these pages, that's for sure.

Happy Halloween! πŸŽƒ 

Wednesday 28 October 2020

FORTUNE AND GLORY by Janet Evanovich

When Stephanie's beloved Grandma Mazur's new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair... and the keys to a life-changing fortune. 

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli's treasure, they discover that they're not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way-along with a new adversary who's even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She's also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts-and someone who's about to give Stephanie a real run for her money. 

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she's got two things that Gabriela doesn't: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit. 

She'll need both to survive because this search for "fortune and glory" will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested-as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

It's always awesome to step back into the very hilarious and dangerous world of Stephanie Plum & Co. I LOVE catching up with them every year and get hooked back in right away. So, of course, this one was no different.

Stephanie might have promised Grandma Mazur that she'll help her find her late husband's hidden treasure, but she didn't expect to be put in even more danger than usual. Or to meet even shadier people along the way or cause friction in her on-again, off-again relationship with Morelli.

At least she's got her job and Ranger...

Well, this was yet another awesome addition to a super fun series! 

No wonder it's one of my faves. The world of Plum is fast-paced and the unpredictable nature of the story is exciting.

Also, the mayhem never stops and a new cast of characters--both good, bad and terrifying--fill these pages with intensity and a mystery that isn't easily solved. Unfortunately, Steph's doubt in herself and the feeling that she's not good enough still bugs her. She still hasn't found her sense of direction, but at least she tries out a new hairstyle and clothes. LOL.

As for her love life... Yikes! This is even more complicated than everything else she's going through. In this installment, Morelli is out and Ranger is definitely in. πŸ˜‰ And this provided some pretty sexy interactions, which leads to more relationship confusion. But hey, it's understandable. Who could choose between Ranger and Morelli?

Fortune and Glory is another entertaining addition to this awesome series. Like usual, just when I think Stephanie's life can't get any worse, I finish reading the next book and the stakes never stop escalating. Yet, I still managed to laugh because so many funny things happen.  

Now that the treasure hunt has revealed so much, I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy! 

Fortune and Glory, November 2020, ISBN 9781472246196, Headline Review

Friday 23 October 2020

THE TRENCH by Steve Alten


The Trench (Meg, #2)The Trench by Steve Alten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Meg, so when we found an old library copy of the second book in a nearby Street Library, of course we grabbed it.

And I was excited, even though the book smelled like fucking cigarette smoke and needed WEEKS of scented-candle-in-bag treatment before I could even consider reading it. Actually, even after picking it up I thought I might not be able to concentrate on the story because of the shitty condition... BUT! The story is SO good that it hooked me in right away.

Stinky book or not, I was HOOKED!

Jonas Taylor is a professor and paleo-biologist. He's former Navy and a deep-sea diver. But his days on the Mariana Trench are done because his PTSD is still severe. Even after four years and being married to Terry, he continues to suffer from nightmares and is still obsessed with the Carcharodon megalodon. Well, with one in particular...

Wow. Just like the first book, this one hooked me in right away.

It was so good to catch up with Jonas and Terry, but I was disappointed to find out that things between them weren't exactly rosy because Jonas is still distracted, refuses to get help and is in total denial. And I know a lot of his problems stem from the fact people are still not listening to him about the danger of having a 'pet' megalodon, but I was hoping he'd be in a different and better place by now.

Although, all of these problems and a whole new plate of stuff sure make a thrilling adventure. This story moves fast and doesn't waste time getting violent. Yet, at the same time manages to keep many shitty secrets hidden beneath the surface.

These books are just like movies because the imagery is so vivid everything played out very clearly inside my head. And I love that! Not to mention the tension. It's so thick and escalates so quickly that I was on the edge of my seat most of the way through.

Also, more than one ancient monster hiding in the depths of the ocean is always a cool thing. Although, as usual, the biggest and worst monsters are the fucking humans. πŸ˜’

During Meg, my only problem was how annoying I found it that every woman was introduced as being 'good looking'. It bugged the hell out of me. In this one, it's how the only two women in the story instantly hate each other. Um, nope. Women competing against each other might be a thing because after all, women are people (gasp!), but this silly assumption of instant hate needs to fucking stop. Unlike the first book, it wasn't as easy to ignore because it sucks up too much of the main storyline.

This monster series needs more monsters and less forced relationship drama! 

Thursday 22 October 2020

NaNoWriMo is around the corner!


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

I've been taking part in NaNoWriMo for a long while now. My first time was way back in 2006. Can you believe that? 😯  

It's something I make room for every year.

Anyway, here's my history:
  • 2006: UF (Angie)
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey)
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue)
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful)
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight)
  • 2011: N/A
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows)
  • 2013: SFR (Dash)
  • 2014: UF (Willow)
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape)
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted) 
  • 2017: YA SF Thriller (Cosmic Girl) 
  • 2018: YA Horror (Madness)
  • 2019: SF Historical Horror (Neon)

Since I started taking part, I missed out on one year: 2011. That year, I was working on edits for my first Samhain Publishing novella. Ah, memories. πŸ˜‰

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

By the time November comes around, I like to squeeze in one last 50-70k first draft. I think it's a great way to end the writing year. And this year is definitely a time where unleashing my creative ideas as much as possible is a great thing!

This time, I've decided to work on a story that's been inside my head for quite a while. It's a horror idea about a pesky character who ends up in a creepy ghost town after she's hired to look for someone. And there's going to be a lot of danger, adventure and monsters.

I've already started a Word doc with a bunch of notes about the characters, jotted down the important story stuff, and have a folder full of inspirational pics. 

Let the NaNoPrep continue! 

Well, what's yours about?

Happy planning!

PS. If you wanna be buddies, I'm YolandaS. 😁

Tuesday 20 October 2020

THE BUS ON THURSDAY by Shirley Barrett


The Bus on ThursdayThe Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book for a while and today, I decided to get stuck into it. Actually, I read it in a few sittings because I couldn't put it down.

Eleanor's life isn't going well. First, she broke up with her boyfriend and he moved on pretty quickly. Then, she's diagnosed with breast cancer and her friends aren't exactly supportive.

So, when she's offered a new job as the teacher in a remote mountain town, she decides to go. It's a fresh start in a nice place. Except, she finds herself in the middle of a lot of new stress...

Wow. This is one trippy, surreal and totally addictive book. I seriously fell right into this and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next.

I really enjoyed Eleanor's snarky voice because she's so entertaining and has such a cool dark sense of humour. Also, a lot of her snark was very Aussie and it made me laugh even more!

The story is told via blog posts in a way that reveals important events as she remembers them. And sometimes doesn't. She often throws the reader all over the place. She's also not very reliable, and I had a great time picking up all of her inconsistencies.

Another awesome thing about this book is how atmospheric the small town vibes are. Talbingo is both eerie and beautiful. Seems like a place full of weirdos and also an idyllic place to live. Yeah, there's a lot of contradictory things going on in this book and all of them tie this fantastic story together in the strangest way possible.

The cast of characters is also great! Gregory and Ryan are two very creepy brothers she can't shake. Friar Hernandez the Praying Mantis is a strange and freaky man spewing weird shit all over the place. Daphne the Little Sparrow is an enigmatic woman who (for me) provided the biggest answers about what was really going on. And Glenda was an annoying character hung up on the past. Not to mention those freaky weepy kids.

All of these factors put together make an awesome story with several ambiguous, haunting paths. The storytelling reminded me of The Turn of the Screw, because it works on several levels. On one hand it's a nightmarish horror story, and on the other it's also very sad because cancer is so awful.

I LOVED THIS BOOK. And that ending was totally cool. 😳

Also, personally, I would say that this is more Bridget Jones meets Twin Peaks, or even The Shining. Not so much The Exorcist.

View all my reviews

Monday 19 October 2020

THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho


The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last month, hubby found a great deal for this beautiful paperback on Amazon and asked me if I knew anything about it. I didn't, but after reading the blurb and the beginning, I was instantly interested.

Santiago is a shepherd boy from Andalusia. He's happy doing his thing every day and has a nice routine with his sheep. Until a dream and several encounters with two interesting people spark his sense of adventure.

So, he leaves Spain to travel to the Egyptian desert in search of treasure. Upon his arrival in Africa, things don't go according to plan. But he takes everything in stride and continues his quest to find an unknown treasure near the Pyramids that might not turn out to be what he expected...

This is such a lyrical and beautiful story. It's lush and interesting and the writing style ensured I was never bored. It's also such a comforting and easy read.

As soon as I started, I got swept up in Santiago's life. He starts out simple enough, but he's smart and wants more from life than an endless routine. Following him on this very personal journey was an adventure in itself.

The poor guy suffers some awful hardships along the way, and although they affect him deeply, he's not afraid of hard work. Or of using his brain to figure out how to expand on what's right in front of him. He also doesn't give up. Santiago is a nice and kind character, so I really wanted him to find himself. And the treasure, of course.

This book touches on a lot of very interesting things, such as religion, faith, philosophy, love and alchemy. Sometimes, all these elements are very different from each other. Sometimes they're wound together so tightly they're just about the same thing. That's another great thing about this story, how well it digs into a person's personal quest. Is it necessary to travel outside the confines of your safety zone in order to do so? Or are all the answers found within?

It's also very much about facing your own fears, finding yourself as well as the truest place where you belong. Your Personal Legend.

Yeah, this is the kind of book that makes your mind go to unexpected places in a way that expands your thoughts without you even realising. It's also a book I'll think about often.

I'm really glad my husband found this because it's also a very pretty book with some lovely illustrations and a wonderful ending.


Friday 16 October 2020

I signed up!

That's right. It's that time of the year again! And that means I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2020


This year, there were two story possibilities for me to consider. But it didn't take long to pick the one that was most ready to be told. After all, this one has been on my Possible NaNo Project List for the past two years. 😏

Here's the description I posted on the website:

When she's hired to find a missing 'person', it leads her to a ghost town full of monsters. And a dangerous adventure of self-discovery. 

This is an idea I can't wait to get stuck into because I've carried this character and her creepy world around for a (long) while. There's a lot of creepy shit going down in this story and it features some of my most fave horror tropes. 😈

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I'm really excited about this new WIP. 

Now I've got a few weeks of NaNoPrep ahead of me, and that's definitely enough time to go through my inspirational pics, think, take notes and get lots of brainstorming done.

Are you taking part?

Have a great weekend!

BLOOD SUGAR by Daniel Kraus


Blood SugarBlood Sugar by Daniel Kraus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bought this book last year but didn't read it then, so I thought Halloween 2020 would be a great time to get stuck into it.

Jody, Dag and Midge are three very different kids with their own set of problems, but they all hang out at Robbie's shitty house on Yellow Street.

Robbie is much older and has plenty of problems of his own. And this Halloween he wants to get some revenge on the town that hates him so much by doing something awful to the candy...

Yikes. This is one strange and dirty book! Trust me, you'll feel like taking a shower many times during this very unclean story.

The writing style is so unique that even though it shocked me at first, it didn't take long for me to get lost in Jody's narration. I was totally hooked on the problematic and downright awful lives of these kids and couldn't remember when/how it happened.

When that happens, you know the writing and story are totally working.

Although Jody is the primary storyteller, there are also letters written from the POV of some of the other characters. And together, these different angles quickly start to make sense of everything that's going on.

I thought this story was bizarre in the way that it managed to be both fun and disturbing. It's also sad in spots and features a group of characters that I couldn't help but feel sorry for. Even though a lot of what Jody says is quite wrong and often made me cringe because he doesn't have a PC filter, I was still intrigued and was utterly compelled to keep reading.

I think this is a very clever story wrapped up in the simplistic voice of a boy who's trying to find his way in the world. Not to mention the other characters. Dag was the one who surprised me the most. Yikes.

And that ending was really something!

Oh, and I LOVE this cover. So it was really cool when I found out exactly why there's a pretty witch featured front and centre. 😁 

Wednesday 14 October 2020

It's Time to Finish This!

Hey! How are you today? What's new this week?

The world is still a hellhole suffering through a global pandemic too many morons are trying to convince themselves is over, so we're still staying away from people and protecting ourselves with masks and hygiene.

This week I completed the WIP read-thru on my Paperwhite, added all the changes to the Word doc, and this morning I made some last-minute alterations. 

So, the story is now done and the final word count is 40,335. πŸŽ‰

I'm SO excited about finishing this novella for several reasons. Firstly, this gothic horror story turned out a lot better than I expected and broke my heart in so many unexpected ways. πŸ˜­πŸ’” And secondly, it's the fourth novella I've written this year.

And why is that important to me? Well, writing a novella is something I've carried forward on my Goals List for several years. And each year, I failed. But 2020 turned out to be the year I finally met that goal. Who would've thought THIS year would be the one? LOL.

Anyway, I'm really excited about finishing another project and can now concentrate on other stuff. Like reading. Something I've barely done during the last few weeks. 😲 Not to mention that I can now sign up for NaNoWriMo and get stuck into NaNoPrep. πŸ˜ƒ 

Most importantly, I'm taking a bit of a mental break.

Have a great week!

FEVER DREAM by Samanta Schweblin


Fever DreamFever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was quite a trippy and very interesting ride!

This is a book I've had my eye on for several years. A few weeks ago, I actually found a copy in one of our local Street Libraries and was so excited.

Amanda isn't feeling well. She's suffering through a fever dream that has a young boy whispering in her ear while trying to remember what happened to her...

Wow. Okay. Very cool.

I grabbed this novella after our walk and read it in one sitting. Not because of the length, but because I couldn't put it down. It's so addictive, and I found myself falling head-first into this enigmatic dream.

On the surface, this story seems to be about a woman's quest to figure out what happened to her. But it's about SO much more! It's also about the kind of maternal love that grips a woman so tightly they're willing to do whatever it takes to help their child. Even if it's wrong and has really bad consequences. It's also a pretty serious ecological horror story that echoes some awful and terrifying things happening in this horrid world of ours.

But most of all, it's a well written, surreal story with a mystery you just can't wait to figure out. And what a hellish ride sorting through memories can turn out to be.

As much as this feels like a suffocating and toxic living nightmare able to pull you under so strongly until the reader gets confused, if you pay attention to the narrative, everything comes together in the end. And makes total sense.

Also enjoyed the very creepy vibes.

So glad I finally read this very clever novella! 

Wednesday 7 October 2020

More Revision Time!

That's right.

It's third draft time. And that means I'm very close to wrapping up another 2020 novella project. Yay. 😁

So, how's life treating you? How's the shitty pandemic where you are? Here in NSW, we've had over 10 days without community transmission. Until today. That's what happens when people get complacent during a pandemic and convince themselves it's over. Ugh.

Anyway, like I said above, this week I got stuck into the third draft of my current novella WIP.

Here's how I did:
  • Monday: 52/109pgs (40,310w)
  • Tuesday: 110pgs / 40,444w

I'm really excited about this progress and can't wait to read the story one last time on my Paperwhite. But first, I need a bit of distance.

This novella turned out exactly how I hoped it would when the idea first hit me via a dream. πŸ˜ƒ

Asides from the revision, we've been hanging out, going for walks and enjoying lovely meals. I've also been buying up a book storm and haven't read much because my own stories keep hounding my brain. 

It's a good problem to have, really.

Well, that's it for this update.

Have a great week!

Sunday 4 October 2020



The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a novella I read back in high school, so it's been a while. Still, I remember really enjoying it and I've been meaning to re-read it for ages. Also, The Haunting of Bly Manor is coming to Netflix this week so this was the perfect time to get stuck into it.

The new governess instantly loves her adorable young pupil, Flora. She doesn't even mind when one becomes two and she has to add Miles to the mix. It's the strangers she sees on the manor's grounds that start to unravel her...

I'm very happy to say that I enjoyed the hell out of this story today, as much as I did decades ago. It totally grabbed me and although at times it feels like there are chunks of narrative missing, it only adds to the building mystery. And it's not hard to fill in the gaps.

I get that some people might find the writing a little flowery or even jarring, but I liked it because it's perfect for the setting and time. I also think it adds to the confusion and doubt. Besides, classic writing is often like this and I find it (most of the time) charming.

The Governess is a character I would describe as honest. She takes her job seriously, is committed to the children and doesn't appear crazed. The ghostly occurrences are spooky and mysterious, told in a way that could be true spirit manifestations or psychological delusions. Even her accusations about the children could be wrong. Unless you read into what happens and what they actually say, or how they act. Miles sure sounds like a manipulative little creep to me.

At the same time, you also can't help feel sorry for these kids. I mean, their parents died and their uncle sends them away to his country home in Essex to be with strangers, when what they really needed was the compassion of a relative. Yeah, I've got opinions about that man. 😐

Anyway, this was still a great example of storytelling in a style that when the story is over, it's easy to believe the tale is about ghosts and creepy children, but could just as easily be about someone going through a psychological delusion because of isolation and suspicion.

Either way works, but I'm sticking with the ghost story. And I can't wait to see how the Netflix show takes this and turns it into an even creepier experience...

View all my reviews

Saturday 3 October 2020


In this comprehensive textbook devoted to the craft of writing horror fiction, award-winning author Tim Waggoner draws on thirty years’ experience as a writer and teacher. Writing in the Dark offers advice, guidance, and insights on how to compose horror stories and novels that are original, frightening, entertaining, and well-written.

Waggoner covers a wide range of topics, among them why horror matters, building viable monsters, generating ideas and plotlines, how to stylize narratives in compelling ways, the physiology of fear, the art of suspense, avoiding clichΓ©s, marketing your horror writing, and much more. Each chapter includes tips from some of the best horror professionals working today, such as Joe Hill, Ellen Datlow, Joe R. Lansdale, Maurice Broaddus, Yvette Tan, Thomas Ligotti, Jonathan Maberry, Edward Lee, and John Shirley. There are also appendices with critical reflections, pointers on the writing process, ideas for characters and story arcs, and material for further research.

Firstly, I want to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy of this very cool book.

I don't go out of my way to read many books about the art of writing because with most, my mind starts to wander. I often start strong and eventually lose interest because I start to feel a distance between the instructions/suggestions and my brain. They're usually impersonal, too bland and even boring.  

There's a reason why my favourite book about the art of storytelling is Stephen King's On Writing. I loved that book because the author's approach was so personal and friendly. He revealed himself before he even started chatting shop. So, by the time he did, I was totally hooked and when he got serious about the craft, everything came across as straightforward.

Tim Waggoner does the same with this amazing book. Actually, he took it several steps further by adding helpful exercises at the end of each section. He discusses the different types of horror in a captivating way and packs this book full of stuff that will actually help hone your skills. He also invited fellow horror authors to add their own bits and pieces of advice, which was great because it peppered the experience with a variety of voices.

Not to mention the in-depth way he delves into the horror genre. His approach is raw and honest in a way that only a true fan of this wonderful genre can be. He really gets it, in a way only someone who understands the true meaning of horror can.

I enjoyed this book a LOT. It's interesting, packed full of great information and really makes you think. It's also written in a way that works for beginners, for those in the middle and even seasoned writers. No matter what your level of experience, or how many publishing credits you have to your name, you'll definitely get something useful out of this very crafty book.

Oh, and another thing I loved about it is the size. It's bigger than a standard trade paperback, and totally looks like a workbook/textbook.

I'm definitely adding this to my Keeper Shelf. And I'll be grabbing it (many) more times in the future because once is definitely not enough.

Do yourself a favour and grab a copy!

Writing in the Dark is available now from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

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