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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 by V Castro

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

Bunny
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?


Tuesday, 28 January 2020

SKELLIG by David Almond

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

This is a lovely book I found in one of our local Street Libraries. I was captivated by the blurb and added it to my TBR pile until I was ready to read it.

Well, that day was today. I picked it up this morning and couldn't stop reading until I got to The End.

Michael and his family have moved into an old crumbling house his parents are going to renovate. But then his baby sister gets sick, and he feels sad, lost and alone.

As he starts to withdraw from his school friends, he befriends his new neighbour. Mina is homeschooled, she's very clever, creative and fascinated by birds. Which comes in handy after Michael stumbles upon the old withered man he finds in the shaky garage...

Like I said above, this book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go. It's such a beautiful, magical story that also deals with the real-life issues of how illness affects the whole family, what change can do to a kid, and how being kind can lead to so many amazing experiences.

The friendship between Michael and Mina is so lovely. Two kids who seem worlds apart are actually kindred spirits. Michael was such a nice and caring kid, one who wasn't judgemental and was fascinated by new things. And Mina was such an independent and adventurous kid. Just like Michael, she's kind and understanding.

These two characters were integral to keeping me glued to the story. And while I also liked the parents, my other favourite was the very mysterious, Skellig. Speaking of kind souls, here's another one. Except, this one has the added element of myth and magic added to the mix, and I love the effect he has on these kids.

I'm really glad that I finally read this, because it was the most wonderful, and sometimes heart-wrenching, roller-coaster ride.



ADDITIONAL NOTES:

We're really lucky to live in a suburb that has a bunch of Street Libraries within walking distance.

Not only is it cool to find books, but it's also great to donate.

This book happens to be one that we found in one of these Library boxes. And it's in perfect condition. Not to mention that I love the vibrant cover that totally captures one of the characters in this very emotional book. 😊

THE GIRLFRIEND'S GUIDE TO GODS: Maria Dahvana Headley

A Girlfriend's Guide to Gods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written and powerful story that's lyrical and cuts deep. It's also an excellent weaving of real life and the mythical lives of gods. About women looking for salvation, strength and belonging when all of this--and so much more--has always been inside themselves.

Very empowering. And fun!

It's also about love. How it ebbs and flows, how it can be the most wonderful thing in the world. Or turn out to be the most poisonous.

I love stories that work on several levels at once, and fill you with thoughts afterwards. And this tale is definitely one that lingers long after the last word.

But don't take my word for it, go and read it yourself.


Sunday, 26 January 2020

THE LAST SMILE IN SUNDER CITY by Luke Arnold

I'm Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are a few things you should know before you hire me: 
1. Sobriety costs extra. 
2. My services are confidential - the cops can never make me talk. 
3. I don't work for humans. 

It's nothing personal - I'm human myself. But after what happened, Humans don't need my help. Not like every other creature who had the magic ripped out of them when the Coda came... 

I just want one real case. One chance to do something good. 

Because it's my fault the magic is never coming back.


I love urban fantasy. I enjoy reading PI stories. I'm also a fan of noir. So, when I found out about this book, I was very interested in checking it out.

Fetch lives in Sunder City. He's a Man for Hire who doesn't work with humans, in a place that's barely surviving. A city where magical beings and supernatural creatures are struggling with their existence.

Since the humans destroyed the magic river, the magical community have lost what made them special, beautiful and powerful. And those are the ones who survived.

Now, Fetch is looking for a lost vampire. That's if he can stay away from the bottle long enough to concentrate on the task, ignore the dark past threatening to drown him, and stay out of trouble so he can chase the clues...

I had such a blast reading this book!

This kind of story is the reason why I love urban fantasy so much. This dark tale combines some of my most favourite storytelling elements, and it's very unique.

The worldbuilding is detailed and unfolds at a nice pace. I loved how all the relevant pieces are revealed through two different timelines. So the events of pre-and-post Coda start to take shape, until everything becomes clear enough to understand why Sunder City is so screwed up and in total ruin.

Now, let's talk about Fetch Phillips, the reckless and defeated narrator of this tale. I really liked his imperfect and often problematic ways. On the surface, Fetch appears to be a typical noir detective--broody, struggles with money, hardly eats, has a dark past, is a troublemaker, has a problem with drinking--but he's so much more.

For a lot of the book, he's haunted by the mysterious shadow of his past. But we're mostly kept in the dark, and catch enough glimpses of the puzzle to start putting it together.

I was mostly sympathetic to his plight and felt sorry for him. But there were other times when I was frustrated, and even angry with some of his decisions. Sometimes, I even wanted to slap some sense into him. But mostly, I really wanted things to work out because he was trying so hard to be decent and make up for his past sins.

Fetch is a great character, and was enhanced by the awesome storytelling style, vivid details and the cast of fascinating characters.

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a melancholy and highly imaginative urban fantasy story set in an original and intriguing world familiar to ours, yet so very different. I loved the vivid descriptions and the amazing locations, the interesting history, as well as the awesome and broken characters trying to get on with their lives years after the downfall that destroyed so much.

There's a lot to love within the pages of this book with such a cool cover, and meaningful title.

I'm not sure if this is a series or a stand-alone, but I enjoyed this book so much I'm looking forward to reading more from this great author.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!


The Last Smile in Sunder City, February 2020, ISBN 9780356512884, Orbit

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Guest Blogging


That's right! Today, I stopped by Otranto House to take part in their What Horror Means to Me blog miniseries.

I also chat about why I've always found it so easy to love this wonderful genre.

You can read my post HERE.

Thanks for checking it out!

Friday, 24 January 2020

THE MELANCHOLY DEATH OF OYSTER BOY AND OTHER STORIES by Tim Burton

The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I like Tim Burton's storytelling style and art. A lot. He's got a certain way of capturing the strange and weird in a sad, yet very entertaining way. I mean, The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my all-time faves.

So, when I found this adorable black book in one of the thrift stores we frequent, I HAD to buy it.

This magical and grim book is full of poems featuring some very strange and tragic characters. It's full of senseless and somewhat selfish parents who don't consider the children they bear. And as a result, a lot of the kids in this book are pitiful and really make you feel for their very glum existence.

There aren't many happy endings here, but there are countless of wonderfully bizarre characters you'll fall in love with. And then weep for. But, you'll also laugh because the morbid humour definitely tickles the funny bone.

No matter how long or short, I enjoyed all of these poems but especially enjoyed the very horrifying The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and the despairing Anchor Baby. Both of these stories are told in a way that is strange and fantastical, yet carry so much weight in relation to parenthood and motherhood, that it makes both quite powerful.

While the Stain Boy, Roy, the Toxic Boy, Mummy Boy and Junk Girl stories are tragic tales of bad luck and misery, I found Staring Girl, The Girl Who Turned into a Bed and Sue to be slices of delight that filled me with joy and laughter.

And the illustrations are quirky and gorgeous and beautiful and bright. Even the gloomiest of artwork is lovely.

I have to be honest, this hardcover book is a piece of art that fills my freaky heart to bursting. 🖤

I'll treasure this always. 




ADDITIONAL NOTES:

I love Tim Burton's creepy but oh-so pretty with so much heart style because he can so easily make the ghastly beautiful. The macabre sympathetic.

He makes you fall in love with the monsters, and appreciate the freaky.

This gorgeous book captures everything I love the best about his storytelling and unique art style.

I still can't believe how lucky I was to come across this book. For one thing, I didn't even know it had been published. And the fact I found it in a thrift store--a thrift store!--makes everything SO much more amazing.

Like I said, super lucky. 😃

Thursday, 23 January 2020

THE PERFECT WIFE by JP DELANEY

"There's something I have to explain, my love," he says, taking your hand in his. "That wasn't a dream. It was an upload."

Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he's her husband. He's a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley's most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she's a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. 

 Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve. 

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband's motives - and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago? 


really enjoyed The Girl Before and Believe Me, so I was curious about this one too. As soon as I picked it up, I was hooked.

When Abbie wakes up in a hospital room, she can't remember how she got there. Luckily, her husband is there to fill in the blanks and tells her she had an accident. He also claims it took him five heartbreaking and work-consumed years to figure out how to get her back.

Yet, the deeper Abbie tries to settle into everyday life, the more she realises things aren't quite as simple and definitely not what they seem...

That's all I'm going to say about the actual story because the less you know about this fantastic book, the more you'll enjoy it.

OMG. This book was SO addictive. I couldn't stop reading because I was hanging on every word and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.

The story alternates between the POV of Abbie and a mysterious narrator watching from the sidelines. Abbie's POV was written in second person, a style that I usually find jarring. Yet, for this story it was perfect. And the mysterious POV was very cool because it filled in a lot of the questions gathering inside my mind.

There's just so many awesome things about this book: the intriguing characters, the techie side bordering on SF, the mystery at the core of everything, the writing style that keeps you hanging on until the very end, the unreliable narrators, and the incredible surprises that pop up when you least expect them.

Everything builds at a nice pace, slowly setting the scene until the narrative reaches a point where everything clicks into place. And it's jaw-dropping.

Okay, I can't say more without spoilers.

The Perfect Wife is another gripping story by this great author. It deals with a lot of very interesting and complex things, especially about what really makes someone human. The unique way the story addresses this issue really makes an impact, and made me despise one of the characters.

Also, it's got such a twisty ending that you'll probably find yourself reading the last four chapters several times to make sure you got it right. And when you realise you did, can't help but admire its brilliance. 

JP Delaney is definitely an author that hits all the right mystery/thriller notes. As well as tapping into the darker underside of human nature, and how it can complicate the simplest of situations until they become outrageously dangerous.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.


The Perfect Wife, January 2020, ISBN 9781786488558, Quercus

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After watching and LOVING the hell out of The Witcher on Netflix, I decided I wanted to read this book of short stories in 2020.

THE VOICE OF REASON:

Well, that was a short and very well-written introduction to the world of the witcher's easy seduction.

THE WITCHER:

When Geralt, witcher of Rivia arrives in Wyzim, things take a violent turn. But he's there for a reason that involves King Foltest and the striga terrorising his land...

I really enjoyed this story about a cursed princess, the father determined to believe she can be saved, and the witcher who might be able to help them both.

Loved how on the surface, this story seemed so simple but introduced the shitty prejudices against Geralt, the undermining of a clever king, and how many shadowmen are willing to exert their shifty ways into the mix.

THE VOICE OF REASON 2:

Oh! The interlude that started with The Voice of Reason continues to reveal Geralt is inside a temple (after his encounter with the striga) with an old wise friend immune to his charm.

A GRAIN OF TRUTH:

While Geralt and Roach are travelling through the forest, they stumble on a few corpses, a beast and a very mysterious woman...

This was such an excellent story! I love how Geralt and Roach have wonderful conversations when they're alone together. It was also awesome how this is a very loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a wicked twist I wasn't expecting.

THE VOICE OF REASON 2:

Looks like the interludes just took a violent turn with the introduction of the obnoxious Knights of the Rose entering the temple of Melitele in Ellander with threats and warnings. But Nenneke's relentless nature keeps them at bay and pushes them towards trouble.

I have no doubt about that.

THE LESSER EVIL:

When Geralt arrives in Blaviken it's to a warm reception from an old friend. But as he discovers a wizard is also in town, things take a turn for the worst...

Loved this one too! It was just like watching the show, but with an awesome addition of Snow White. Renfri was just as dangerous, clever and ruthless as she was on-screen, but I got a deeper attachment to her plight. It was a shame that she was poisoned from such a young age, but it made for an amazing tale.

THE VOICE OF REASON 3:

A very clever interlude where Geralt talks freely about his past, how he became a witcher, and how talking it through helps him feel better. Not to mention, he teases about the child and Yennefer. 😳

A QUESTION OF PRICE:

During a banquet hosted by Queen Calanthe of Cintra, where she's meeting possible husbands for her young daughter, things take a strange turn when her use for a witcher twists their destinies together...

This was quite action-packed and full of devious political turns that get shattered by an unexpected voice. It's so much like the scene in the show, yet has several differences. Some, which strengthen and further explain why destiny is so important to Geralt the witcher.

THE VOICE OF REASON 4:

An awesome way of meeting the cheeky poet and bard, Dandilion. And a great way for Geralt to ponder about the ever-changing world and his refusal to kill anything that isn't an actual monster.

THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

While travelling with Dandilion looking for work, Geralt stumbles on a beautiful field that is being tormented by what the locals call a devil. But there's a lot more hiding in the flowers...

I loved this story, and Dandilion is a great companion. He's annoying and foul-mouthed, doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut, but he's also a very loyal friend. And I enjoy their banter so much. Plus, adding a member to this group is very cool.

Not to mention that I'm intrigued by the elves, and especially Lille.

THE VOICE OF REASON 5:

Another interlude consisting of Nenneke and Geralt. This time they're in a beautiful cave full of flora and are discussing what a bad idea it is for him to leave the temple before he's fully healed. Oh, and then the mysterious Yennefer becomes the focus of their uneasy exchange.

She's finally taking shape as a real person and the importance of her in Geralt's life. Can't wait to meet her.

THE LAST WISH:

While trying to do a spot of fishing, Geralt and Dandilion stumble on a djinn that gets them into so much trouble they end up crossing paths with a powerful sorceress who has some very wicked plans...

Yennefer! We finally meet Yennefer in this crazy story, and she doesn't disappoint. This is one powerful and wicked woman who does what she wants, even if that involves holding an entire town hostage. Yikes.

Personally, I think Yennefer and Geralt are totally meant for each. They're so different, yet so alike. Two very powerful beings warped by magic and living their lives by their own rules who don't really fit anywhere... Yeah, soulmates. 😍

THE VOICE OF REASON 6:

Ah, the Knights of the Rose are waiting for Geralt to leave the temple and things don't go the way these morons expected.

Great way to end the book!


Wow. This short story collection is something else. It's an incredible introduction to a magical and dangerous world full of monsters. The people who live in it lead complicated lives, the creatures are dwindling away, and the royals are too busy trying to get the upperhand.

I loved how the interludes happen in a different timeline to the main short stories, yet complement each other. Not to mention how well the fairy tales we all know are interlaced into this world, but have a bloody twist of their own.

Oh! And the writing was outstanding. I'm really fussy with fantasy stories and that's usually because I get bored with the stilted writing style. That didn't happen here! The storytelling is smooth, modern, and reveals all the relevant information via very cool dialogue.

And Geralt. I love Geralt. He's one of those misunderstood characters who's just trying to live his life under the shadow of labels other people put on him. He doesn't need to explain who he really is because he shows them with his actions. He's awesome and I can't wait to find out more about him.

I LOVED this book as much as the show. The differences are small and varied, but also shed a brighter light on the important stuff.

I'll DEFINITELY be reading more books in this world. Definitely.



ADDITIONAL NOTES:

In December, we decided to watch a fantasy show on Netflix called The Witcher.

I wasn't expecting much because fantasy stories often disappoint and I didn't know much about the games. Still, we decided to give it a go and were hooked instantly. We loved it so much we ended up watching the whole season over the weekend.

There was so much to love about the show: awesome characters, interesting monsters, complicated relationships, the magical and dangerous world of the Continent. It was AWESOME!

So awesome that I wanted to read the short story collection it was based on. And, now that I have, I want to read more. 😁

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

About my story...

On Monday, I announced that the UNDER HER BLACK WINGS: 2020 Women of Horror Anthology was released.

I'm very excited about this publication and love the shiny-freaky-lovely cover.

So I wanted to talk a bit about my short story. It's called Somewhere to Belong and is a tale I enjoyed writing because it was in my head for a long while before I finally sat down to write it. 

I got the idea on a rainy day. While walking past the playground near the river, I remember thinking: there's nothing sadder than a playground without kids. I was the only person on the path, and couldn't help but wonder if the imprint of children playing might always remain in a place made especially for them.

This is the playground:


The river:


And here's the blurb for my story:

A lonely woman finds a home among a group of lost-and-found souls, all cared for by a tentacled sea-creature called Mother.

I think it captures the essence of the story perfectly. 

When it came to giving the story a title, there was a song that stood out. Linkin Park's Somewhere I Belong fit perfectly. Except, I substituted I with to, because of obvious reasons.

I'm very proud of the story that started with a simple idea during a rainy day and turned into something much darker.

It's also awesome to have a story in an anthology alongside so many awesome Women of Horror.


The anthology is now available: 

Paperback | Kindle | Kobo | Nook Apple



   

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

ZOMBIES HATE STUFF by Greg Stones

Zombies Hate Stuff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that hubby found last week in a thrift store. It's a bit of a jokey pick that we HAD to buy because as soon as he showed me, I laughed. A lot.

I just finished reading a pretty intense and awesome book, so this was the best read to follow it up with. 😁

So, there's really not much to this book. It's broken up into three sections featuring what Zombies Hate, what Zombies Don't Mind, what Zombies Really Hate, and you might even find out if they actually love anything/anyone.

I enjoyed this because it made me chuckle. I also liked the artwork, and even felt sorry for Zombie a few times. He sure gets himself into some sticky situations. And I couldn't help but wonder why he didn't like several things. 😂

This picture book is a lighthearted and fun look at the dreaded zombie. Even though I laughed a lot, there's also an underlining disturbing air about the whole thing.

Because, you know, zombies! 🧟‍♀️




ADDITIONAL NOTES:

The thing about this book is that although it might be a hilarious and fun read without many words, it reminded me that I'm still a big zombie fan.

Unfortunately, the zombie market became inundated a few years ago so people started to switch off. But the truth is, I'm still a zombie fan. And I think it's been too long since I read a brain-eating undead tale.

I want to thank this book for the very cool reminder.


Monday, 13 January 2020

UNDER HER BLACK WINGS: 2020 Women of Horror Anthology is now available!


I'm super excited to announce that my short story, Somewhere to Belong, has been published in an awesome anthology featuring women of horror...



UNDER HER BLACK WINGS:
2020 WOMEN OF HORROR ANTHOLOGY
Kandisha Press

- A glamorous actress whose very flesh is reanimated by a beloved Hollywood icon
- A Boy Scout Troupe encounters a frightening mythological creature in an American forest
- A lonely woman finds a home among a group of lost-and-found souls, all cared for by a tentacled sea-creature called Mother
- A Faceless Woman attacks like a virus and takes on the identities of her victims
- A post-apocalyptic battle for survival rages between human and insect
- A Shadow Woman leads the spirits of the murdered to take revenge in the desert

These are just some of the stories nineteen women came up with when tasked with creating their own Women Monsters. Step inside and experience tales of bloodsucking entities in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Cuban river goddesses, an Aztec bruja, werewolves, mermaids, soul-stealers, obsessive lovers, furious spurned wives, bloody murder in Gothic manors and on Southern plantations... and so much more...

With Foreword by Brandon Scott (Author of Vodou and Sleight, Devil Dog Press)

Featuring:
Christy Aldridge
Carmen Baca
Somer Canon
Andrea Dawn
Dawn DeBraal
Michelle Garza
Sharon Frame Gay
Alys Hobbs
Tina Isaacs
Stevie Kopas
Marie Lanza
Melissa Lason
Malena Salazar Macía
Charlotte Munro
Lydia Prime
Paula R.C. Readman
Copper Rose
Yolanda Sfetsos

With cover art by Corinne Halbert

 
  It's now available from Amazon:
   



Sunday, 12 January 2020

GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I've been wanting to read since I found a copy during one of our (many) thrift store adventures last year.

And I'm so glad I decided to pick it up this week.

The Binewski clan are a family of carnival folk who travel across the country performing for a large audience. They consist of the parents Al and Lil, who purposely experimented with a bunch of pseudo-science treatments and ended up having a bunch of 'extraordinary' children: Arty the Aqua Boy, Iphy and Elly the musically-talented Siamese twins, Oly is a dwarf albino with a hunchback, and Chick the norm with telekinetic tendencies.

As the kids get older and the carnival grows in popularity, so does the insanity...

Wow. What a story! I was often frustrated, intrigued, disturbed, even disgusted. But the one common thread was this: I couldn't stop reading.

I was hooked all the way through. It's such an addictive story that no matter how depraved things got, all I wanted to do was turn the page. When I reached the end of a chapter I told myself I'd read one more and instead ended up reading until the next part.

The story is told in two different timelines by Oly. Everything starts in the now and weaves back into the very twisted past of the most dysfunctional family ever. They were like a freaky version of The Partridge Family and an even darker The Addams Family, with a bloody twist of Cronenberg.

I kid you not. There's nothing I could say that would capture the true and very horrific essence of this epic tale without delving into a bunch of spoilers. And I certainly don't want to do that because the less you know about the more shocking bits about this book, the better you'll be when you find yourself totally off-balance by what you're reading. 😳

One of my favourite things about this story is the characters. Oly's the main narrator and her voice is strong if not foolhardy. Some of the things she does and condones are awful, and are all because of her blind devotion to her older brother. But her heart is in the right place. And Arty. This fucking douche was aggravating and so vile. He made me so angry I wanted to scream. Ugh.

Another very cool thing was how being normal is treated like the real disability. This family wasn't just happy with their freakiness, they looked down on others if they were norms. It was such a strange and refreshing take.

Geek Love is one of the most horrible stories I've read. It's bizarre and drops you down the abyss of weirdo so far and fast you never quite get your footing. Or know what to expect. It's unpredictable, shocking, gross, cruel and definitely one of the best books I've ever read.

I seriously loved every single minute I spent reading this book. I'm a sucker for oddities, so this was right up my alley.

This one's a keeper!


View all my reviews


ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Geek Love is a book that I kept hearing about last year. So I assumed it was released in 2019.

When I found a copy in one of our fave thrift stores, I was so excited.

It wasn't until late December, when I was picking out a pile of books to read in January, that I realised it was an older book. One that was published in 1989! This just added to the allure because I knew that a story about freaks written in the 70s or 80s would not hold back. And I was right. Yikes!

This book dares to go to some pretty horrid and dark places. Pushes the boundaries in every way, and manages to turn the world as we know it upside down.

I enjoyed every minute of it, which was the best bit. No matter how screwed up things got, or how fucked up the characters were, I couldn't look away! Refused to stop reading.

And when I wasn't reading, I was checking out the cool artwork and different covers made for this book.

Also, it made me miss Oddities. That was one cool show!

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

CINDERELLA: The Graphic Novel by Beth Bracken & Jeffrey Stewart Timmins

Cinderella: The Graphic Novel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all know the story of Cinderella, so I'm very familiar with it. Yet, I can't stop reading new updated versions or retellings, so of course I picked this up when hubby found it during one of our (many) thrift store adventures.

Ella is very sad when she loses her mother and can't shake the sadness.

When her father remarries, her stepmother and two stepsisters move in and take over the house. Leaving Ella to become their housekeeper.

But when a ball is announced and her stepmother refuses to let her go, Ella finds a way...

This was a dark and lovely retelling of a very familiar story. I especially liked that her name was Ella, and that much of the story focused on the grief the poor girl goes through after losing her mother. She tries so hard to be strong, but can't stop visiting her mother's gravesite and cries all the time.

Yet, no one notices but the animals.

The essence of the original fairy tale is captured not only through the darker and subtle additions to the narrative, but also through the eerie illustrations. There's something Burton-esque about this graphic novel and I LOVED it.

The style of character drawings and even the colour palette are quite drab, yet so pretty. I enjoy all kinds of artwork in graphic novels and comic books, but the weirder the better.

At the end of the book there's also an interesting history about the true origins of this fairy tale, a few discussion questions and even writing prompts.

This book is going right to my Keeper Shelf.


View all my reviews


ADDITIONAL NOTES:

This lovely book included three discussion questions at the end, so I thought I'd answer them. 😁

1). The prince didn't care about Ella being dusty and dirty because he wasn't shallow and mean like her stepmother. He was a good person willing to give everyone a shot. Plus, he wanted all the girls to try on the glass slipper.

2). I love the panel with Ella standing at her mother's gravesite after the tree grows. It was beautiful, very emotional and magical.

3). Being a fan of fairy tales means that I've heard, read and watched a bunch of Cinderella versions. This one is different because there's a darker edge to the story potrayed through the artwork. Not to mention the deeper addition to Ella's struggle with grief.

That was fun!


Monday, 6 January 2020

WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power

Wilder Girls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this weird and wonderful book on my TBR pile for a while, but I'm glad I decided to make it my first read for 2020.

Firstly, I have to comment on the cover because it's beautiful. And eerie and oh-so creepy. Not to mention absolutely perfect for the story.

For eighteen months, the surviving students at Raxter School for Girls have been under quarantine on what's become a dangerous and wild island. The Tox has changed everyone, infected them in a way that has transformed their bodies.

Hetty, Byatt and Reese are close friends who don't always agree on things. But when one of them goes missing, the other two are determined to find her...

Wow. This book is really something special.

I was hooked from the beginning. This story is full of intriguing characters and a savage landscape. These young girls are forced to do some pretty feral things to survive.

Hetty's voice is strong and interesting. She reveals the relevant information at a good pace. Sometimes, we discover new things at the same time. But I really enjoyed getting to know the strange place she's forced to live in, how complicated her connection with her friends is, and learn how she deals with the physical changes that make everything harder.

The horror in this book is awesome. Raw and grisly, awful and beautiful in its parasitic way. The descriptions were done so well that every detail bloomed vividly inside my mind, and I could see everything playing out perfectly.

Even though it's very different, so much about what was going on reminded me of Annihilation. In the best way possible. And just like Annihilation, I loved how some of the answers unfold, eventually revealing themselves. BUT at the same time, many more questions arise and are never answered.

I'll never understand why anyone has any problem with YA horror. Some of the grittiest and best horror I've read has been YA horror.

And I have so many more on my TBR pile... 😈


View all my reviews


ADDITIONAL NOTES:

I LOVE this cover so much I took a bunch of photos of the book the other day.

I'm really glad that I finally read this fantastic book as part of the #LadiesFirst20 Challenge hosted by Ladies Of Horror Fiction

It was the best way to start my 2020 Reading. 😊


Sunday, 5 January 2020

My New Planner


If you've been reading my blog during the last few years, then you know that a New Year means a New Planner. 

Last year I went with a very cool denim design:


And this year I picked this one...


This particular Moleskine is my favourite format. It has One Page for a week with Opposite Blank Page on the other side. I love being able to keep a record of everything I do daily on the left (calendar side), and then take more detailed notes on the right (lined page). 

Now I'm ready to fill my planner with important dates, stickers, washi tape and most importantly, my goals. 😊

What about you? 

Do you use a planner? 

If you do...
Happy planning!

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Tracking Words & Pages


For several years now, I've posted a screenshot of my Tracking Sheets for the previous year. 

These are my 2019 stats:

Total words written: 263,580. 
Total pages revised 841.

Although 2019 was a year full of life changes, I still managed to write several novels and short stories. Luckily, the ideas didn't stop coming, so I took advantage of that very cool fact. 😀

BTW, if you're wondering where I got this very handy spreadsheet that helped me keep track of these words and pages, it's something Sidney Bristol used to share on her blog annually. Although this side of her blog hasn't been updated for a while, you can still get your hands on the basic spreadsheet HERE. All you have to do is update the year. 

Either way, I wanted to give her the credit she deserves because I LOVE using this spreadsheet. It helps me keep track of my daily, monthly and yearly productivity. ☺ 

This post is purely about word and page counts but, if you're interested, the other day I posted a detailed breakdown of how I did with my 2019 Goals

I've already set up my spreadsheet for 2020 and look forward to adding all my progress.  

Here's to another productive year!



Friday, 3 January 2020

Some Kind of Goals

Welcome to my 2020 Goals post. 😊 

As you might (or might not) know, I don't like making New Year's resolutions because they don't work. Instead, I like to put together a list of goals. 

Although I post my yearly goals list here on my blog, I also make smaller lists on a daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly basis in my notebook. It helps to streamline what I want to achieve as well as any unexpected projects that pop up.

Anyway, these are the things I'd like to achieve this year: 
  • Continue the awesome habit of going for two daily walks 
  • Try to get back into doing two yoga workouts a week 
  • Write between 100-200k words 
  • Read 100 books 
  • Finalise at least two horror novel first drafts 
  • Write two new novels 
  • Finally write at least one novella 
  • Keep writing short stories & sub
  • Take part in NaNoWriMo 
  • Keep spring cleaning/sorting clutter all year
  • Actually play games on my 2DS & Switch Lite

So, there you go! 

This is my list for 2020.

Are you making any goals this year?


Thursday, 2 January 2020

Reading 2020


HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

A new year means a new Goodreads Reading Challenge...


That's right. I'm setting my usual 100 Books Reading Challenge.


These are the mini-challenges I like to squeeze into the overall challenge:
  • Find a good balance between reading books for review, books from my personal bookshelves, thrift store books, Kindle, Kobo and tablet. 
  • Stop putting off highly-anticipated books and read them whenever the mood strikes. 
  • Continue to catch up on series books I've fallen behind on. 
  • Finish trilogies, duologies and series. 
  • Read more author short story collections and short story/novella anthologies. 
  • Although I hate DNFing books--and feel bad doing it--I MUST keep doing it for books that don't grab me.

My main Reading Goal for this year is to read whatever book I feel like reading whenever I feel like reading it.


Anyway, you can keep up with my progress on My Reading Page or at Goodreads

So, how many books do YOU plan to read this year? 

Here's to another awesome year full of awesome reading!



Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year!


Wow! I can't believe it's 2020 and we still haven't got flying cars. Then again, the way things are shaping up in the world, that's probably a good thing because humanity can't be trusted with anything. 😃 

Regardless, it's time to get stuck into a new year. Time to make new goals and plans. 

Let's hope this is the year the world gets back on track, because I think we're over the ridiculous political crap. Then again, I wished this would happen last year and things got worse. 😒

Anyway, have an awesome, productive, healthy and exciting year!

 
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