Tuesday 30 March 2021

LAST TIME I LIED by Riley Sager


Last Time I LiedLast Time I Lied by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Final Girls so I've been looking forward to reading Riley Sager's second thriller for a long while.

When Emma was thirteen she was supposed to spend six weeks in the very selective Camp Nightingale. Instead, something awful happened to her cabinmates and she ended up spending only a few weeks there. Now, fifteen years later, she's back as an art instructor and looking for answers about what really happened to the three girls...

Wow! This is quite the twisty psychological thriller with an intriguing mystery and plenty of friendship/family drama.

I was sucked into this story straight away. As soon as I met Emma, I was interested in finding out more about her and also suspected she wasn't being honest about everything. I mean, I didn't imagine it, she kept dropping well-placed hints that sent my mind spiralling for answers.

Told in Emma's POV, her narrative takes place in the present but she often wanders off into the past. Actually, some of her tale switches to the events that happened fifteen years ago so we get the chance to meet the three girls that haunt her thoughts: Vivian, Natalie and Allison.

The pace is perfect. The tension keeps mounting. The characters are all mysterious in their own way. The mystery twists and turns every time you think you're close to working everything out. And when the answers start coming, they don't stop until the very last word.

Oh, and the sense of location is amazing. Everything about this story is eerie and atmospheric, even the scenes depicting Emma's art style and technique.

I enjoyed this book SO much and found it really hard to put down. And btw, it's true, there are echoes of Picnic at Hanging Rock all over this story.

Sunday 28 March 2021

ARIADNE by Jennifer Saint


A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. 

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur - Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother - demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods - drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition? 

I love Greek mythology, so whenever I find out a book is either influenced by the many intriguing players or is an actual retelling, I have to check it out.

Ariadne is one of the daughters of the awful King Minos and spends her early life hearing the echoes of her brother, the Minotaur, from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. He's the king's biggest shame, a result of his wife's beastly union, and so Minos uses this to his advantage and feeds him blood yearly in the worst way possible.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete to serve as part of the Minotaur's sacrifice, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus means leaving her home forever and living with the weight of the attention of the gods...

Wow. This book is lush and Ariadne's voice so compelling, I instantly fell into the beautiful narrative and this princess's story about family drama, devastation and the many betrayals women face in a man's world also ruled by vindictive gods.

The sense of location was very well established from the beginning and I felt like I was transported to a lovely but dangerous past. To a time of excess and domination, where meddling by the gods led to terrible situations capable of ruining women because they were used as pawns in the pathetic fight between man and god.

I loved how the focus of this story was on the women. How they deal with the fallout, how they use their personal strength, and how they never give up even when things get so dire they wouldn't be criticised for doing so. 

The story is mostly told in Ariadne's POV, but also includes her sister's tale. Phaedra might be young but she's strong, smart, loyal and cunning in her own way. Both women tell their very different inspiring, heartbreaking and engrossing timeless tales that kept me intrigued all the way through. Even if you're familiar with the myths, the intimate and lyrical personification given to these amazing characters will make everything feel fresh.

Ariadne is a thrilling retelling of one of the many Greek myths involving women being used and manipulated to satisfy and amuse both men and gods. It's also a feminist story about the inner and outer strength of women, as well as how disappointment, devastation and heartbreak often leads to a strong rage able to ultimately fuel determination and ambition. Sometimes, even revenge. And even through all of this, they never forget love and will try to make things right to the bittersweet end.

I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more of these kinds of books.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

Ariadne, March 2021, ISBN 9781444960112, Wildfire

Thursday 25 March 2021



Unsympathetic Magic (Esther Diamond, #3)Unsympathetic Magic by Laura Resnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, it's time to get stuck into the third book in the super fun Esther Diamond urban fantasy series featuring my favourite struggling actress, the ex who's a cop, and her good friend the 350-year-old mage.

Esther's finally got herself an acting gig on a TV show that has a cult following. Sure, she's playing a homeless bisexual junkie prostitute and her co-star ends up having a medical emergency, but it's an acting job. Too bad she stumbles on some gargoyles attacking a guy in an alley, because she ends up right in the middle of some Vodou trouble in Harlem...

OMG. The first two chapters were hilarious and so uncomfortable. Hilarious because Esther kept falling headfirst into unnatural trouble when all she wanted was a meal. Uncomfortable because I could feel her discomfort wearing that damn costume for so long. 😳

I also liked the new cast of characters that were introduced in this installment, and how it expanded on the magical side of New York. I get a real sense of location, no matter what part of the city Esther wanders into and love that about this series.

Oh, and we're dealing with voodoo... I mean, Vodou. So of course I was interested! And enjoyed this version of a familiar topic and trope. Love how this world contains so many tropes and creatures, but with a slightly different spin. It gives the story and events a nice and unique edge.

I enjoyed the hell out of the whole thing but especially found the last two chapters SO cool. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!

And like the previous two books, this one also featured a nasty villain. So I'm looking forward to finding out what/who Esther and Max have to go against next...

Monday 22 March 2021

JAR OF HEARTS by Jennifer Hillier


Jar of HeartsJar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my TBR pile for over a year now. It's one I picked up, with many others, during one of our last pre-pandemic city book store adventures. And this past weekend was the time to get stuck into it.

Geo did something really bad when she was sixteen and after finally establishing herself in the world, she gets arrested. Now she's lost her fiancé, her executive job and her freedom. But she's about to lose so much more...

Wow. This book was a suspenseful thrill ride I couldn't get off. As soon as I started, I was hooked on this fantastic but totally messed up story.

Seriously, I started this book yesterday afternoon with the intention of getting a taste of the first chapter, but didn't stop until I reached Chapter Five. I got caught up in everything very quickly. I was also horrified by some of the stuff that happened, and this feeling stayed with me all the way through. 😳

The story is well written and separated into five different parts, each named after the stages in the grieving process. Most of it is told in the POV of Geo in the present, though we slowly see the past unravel before our eyes. There's also the POV of Kaiser, a cop and old friend of Geo. And to be honest, as shocking as the events turn out to be as we traverse the many twists and turns of this psychological thriller, mostly I found my overall mood was sadness.

I was sad about what happened to Angela. I was sad about what Geo went through because she made one bad choice after another. And I was very sad about the circumstances these characters are forced to face because of stupid mistakes they made when they were teenagers. There really are some mistakes that you can never undo. Because don't get me wrong, none of the mistakes that are made come from innocence, some are quite chilling.

Anyway, I loved this story. It's brilliant and fucking twisted. Just how I like my thrillers.

Friday 19 March 2021

SLENDER MAN by Anonymous


Slender ManSlender Man by Anonymous
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm probably one of the very small group of people who actually enjoyed the Slender Man movie, so of course I had to grab a copy of this book.

Matt is a student in a private school. His parents expect him to become a lawyer but he has other plans. But right now, they send him to get therapy because he's having some pretty weird dreams. When his friend Lauren goes missing, he's determined to find out what happened to her and delves down a dark path...

I love the way this story is told. Included within this lovely hardback tome are journal entries, audio transcripts, police interviews, story snippets, letters, instant messages, and other interesting pieces. And every new piece slowly stitches a very dark story together.

One of the things I enjoyed the most is how the creepy Slender Man stuff started to appear when I least expected it. I find the Slender Man meme and internet urban legend intriguing. Not so much the real-life stuff that included little assholes using this as an excuse to stab someone. People always have to ruin everything, don't they? 😑

Anyway, back to the book because I enjoyed the hell out of it. This is creepy, interesting and so very much addictive. In case I didn't mention this, I'm a huge urban legends fan, so this was right up my alley.

I couldn't put this book down. Seriously, I started reading in the afternoon, went about my real-life business, picked it up again at night and stayed up until I finished. I SO wanted to get to the end and was NOT disappointed. The scenes where Matt experiences all the super spooky stuff were very engrossing. I couldn't look away and found them deliciously twisted.

This is such a fun & chilling book! 😈

LATER by Stephen King


LaterLater by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading thirty books all written by women, I thought it was time to introduce a man into the mix. And who better than the King himself, right? I mean, as soon as this book arrived, I couldn't wait to get stuck into it.

Jamie Conklin isn't an ordinary kid. It's not because he lives with a single mother who's a literary agent and is always reading new manuscripts while trying to keep the business going. It's not even because he's smart, even though he is. No, Jamie has the ability to see what others can't. Although his mother wants him to keep it a secret, the first time she encourages him to use his gift for personal gain, it changes everything...

Wow. This book is amazing.

Of course, I'm not surprised because Stephen King rarely lets me down. I just love his writing style, and the way he tackled Jamie's voice and story was so perfect. Not to mention how lovely this mother and son relationship turns out to be.

As soon as I started reading, I was totally hooked and couldn't put it down because I was SO invested in Jamie's story. Oh, and I got such a kick out of all the unexpected references to some of his other books. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth these references added to the whole experience. I mean, the story's fantastic on its own because what happens to Jamie is so mysterious and intriguing, but the personal touches of familiarity added a certain level of horrifying comfort. LOL.

Also, how cool is it that his Hard Case Crime is actually a horror story? Trust me, this is definitely horror. There might be a mystery to solve and plenty of crime, but at its core this is the story of how one boy's unnatural ability takes him into some pretty terrifying and creepy places. And I loved every minute of it.

I wasn't expecting that unusual twist at the end, but it certainly made a lot of sense out of so much I hadn't even thought about earlier in the book. 😳

Anyway, I'm so glad I read this because it's just another fantastic book to add to my Stephen King Keeper Shelf. Loved it!

Wednesday 17 March 2021

WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU by Molly Ringwald


When It Happens to You: A Novel in StoriesWhen It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories by Molly Ringwald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book during one of our many pre-pandemic thrift store adventures, and I had to pick it up because I loved Molly Ringwald movies in the 80s. Plus, I didn't know she'd written fiction books.

So, this is a collection of connected tales that fit together to tell one story...

In THE HARVEST MOON, Greta and Phillip are trying to have another baby. Or at least, Greta is because she's the one doing all the hard work while he's obviously looking elsewhere. And why does she even want another kid when the one she has is such a cruel little brat?

Very well written. The story seems so simple but with all the right clues thrown in and no one actually stating the obvious, we know exactly what's happening to their marriage. And it's bloody awful.

In REDBUD, Greta takes her mother to a gardening place and instead of finding a tree, she realises that her mother's desperate need to save a grandchild stems from her perceived failure to save her own child. So why should she interfere?

Another well written story that once again dances around the heart of the problem while making it very obvious that this mother and daughter have some very deep issues. Also, everything we suspected in the first story is confirmed here.

In MY OLIVIA, we meet Marina. A woman who never planned on having children and ends up being the mother of a very special child. But how can she keep her child safe from such a cruel world?

This was a heartbreaking story because Marina finds herself allowing her child to be who they feel they truly are, but finds out the hard way how the world doesn't care about finding our personal happiness. Loved this one, and the connection was nice, too.

In URSA MINOR, Pete is an actor who decides to visit his sister after finding himself in some compromising situations. Did he expect his life to be impacted so much?

I enjoyed this story because it featured a character that should've been easy to dislike and instead I found myself feeling sympathy for him. And the overall connection was unexpected but nice.

WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU is a sad and melancholy interlude. Raw in its depiction and honest in its admission. Great piece!

In THE LITTLE ONE we meet Betty. A widow who lost the love of her life seven years ago but can't let go. Is her newfound friendship with the peculiar little girl next door enough to keep her company?

Wow. This is such a beautiful story. I loved spending time with Betty and taking a sad trip down memory lane as she remembers Harry, the love of her life. I also liked how it connects to the original characters and introduces several new ones.

MEA CULPA is Phillip's story. A retelling of his love for Greta, his failings as a husband, and recalling the many mistakes he made along the way. But is this enough to save his marriage?

Although I don't have an ounce of sympathy for this man or his very selfish actions and thoughts, I still enjoyed his story a lot.

THE PLACES YOU DON'T WALK AWAY FROM is the story that brings it all together. And I loved how everything turns out. Sure, Greta and Phillip's tale is bittersweet, but it was so honest and true.

Well, this turned out to be such a great book! Seriously, all I wanted to do was get a taste of the writing style, but couldn't put it down.

I was really impressed with Ringwald's ability to weave some very interesting and complex stories about the failures, triumphs and pitfalls of familial and romantic relationships. About how a marriage can fall off the rails, how parental affection isn't an equation, how friendship can be found in the most unexpected places, and how the unpredictability and fragility of life strikes when you least expect it.

I also liked the format because, although each story is self-contained and each of the characters have their own heartfelt tale to tell, it's also part of a much bigger picture.

This is a fantastic and well-written book about the weakness and the strength of the human spirit.

Tuesday 16 March 2021



The Legacy of Merlin (Charmed, #8)The Legacy of Merlin by Eloise Flood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading The Power of Three last month and enjoying it so much, I couldn't wait to check this one out. Unlike the first book, this isn't an episode of the show. It's actually a story that takes place between episodes in season two.

The Halliwell sisters are in King Arthur country looking for different things. Prue is hoping to find some antique book deals for a client. Piper is trying to come to terms with Leo's job and his absence. Phoebe's excited because she loves Merlin. But what all of them find is an unexpected danger that might just steal one of their hearts...

Yep, this was another awesome Charmed book! It's fun, fast-paced and mysterious. I was totally invested and hooked from the very beginning. It's a quick and comforting read I would've finished in one sitting if I hadn't run out of time yesterday.

I'm a fan of Charmed, so these books are a perfect way to catch up with the Charmed Ones and read some of their adventures out of the series. Although, this would've been a great episode because it captured the essence of the show very well.

Prue takes her sisters with her overseas, but she's on a mission to secure antiques. Piper might be sad about what's going on with Leo, but she finds herself in a botched love spell. Phoebe might be interested in the legend of Merlin but never expected to fall for someone connected to him. And no matter where they go, these sisters always find themselves in the middle of a magical mess.

I also liked the easygoing writing style of this author and how we get to see the POV of each sister.

Definitely interested in reading more!

Friday 12 March 2021

Revision Time!

Hi, how's it going? Is everyone having a good month so far? Can you believe we're almost halfway through March? Yikes. The year sure is moving along pretty quickly. Wish this stupid pandemic would go away just as fast. Hasn't it done enough damage already? 😒

Anyway, as you might have read last week, I managed to finish my first first draft of the year. Yay. And this week, I set myself the goal of revising/completing the novella by Friday.

Well, today is Friday and here's how it went:
  • Monday: Second draft done @ 18,739 / 45pgs
  • Tuesday: Took break to read
  • Wednesday: Third draft done @ 19,189 / 48pgs
  • Thursday: Took break to read
  • Friday: Read-thru done @ 19,173w / 48pgs

I'm really excited about getting this project done. Not just because it means that I met my personal goal, but also because this story is one I've had in my head for several months and I had to get it outta there. Also, it turned out so much darker and better than I expected. 

This weird little tale is quite the feminist psychological horror and I loved writing/revising it. I'm not sure if there's a market for this story because it's under 20k, but right now that's not important because I finished it! And that's all that matters. 😄

Asides from all this revising, I also read two excellent books:

They were very different books, but I LOVED both of them because they were SO awesome.

With the reading and the writing, plus the everyday stuff, there's not much room for anything else, but we're still going for two walks a day (sometimes three) and squeezing in yoga workouts whenever we can.

Oh, and we're still watching and absolutely loving The Office. We just finished S7 and will be hitting S8 soon. I'm still very much into this show because I adore these characters. And I can't believe I actually miss that douche Michael Scott. LOL. Can't wait to see what happens next...

Now, I'm going to take a nice weekend break with hubby. As for next week, I think it's time to grab my notebook so I can make a Writing Projects Plan. 

Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday 11 March 2021

THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett


The Grace YearThe Grace Year by Kim Liggett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on this book for a while, so I was really looking forward to getting stuck into it.

Tierney lives in a village where girls are sent away to the wilderness at age sixteen. They're gone for a year and are supposed to rid themselves of their magic before coming back to marry the men who chose them.

No one is allowed to talk about the grace year, but everyone knows some of the girls won't survive. Tierney knew harsh conditions were ahead, but she never expected what she finds...

Wow. This book is amazing!

I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but didn't expect to be so swept up by Tierney's tale of self-discovery. Seriously, what this girl goes through because the men in her village have decided they're in charge of the women's lives and blame/punish them for everything, is truly terrifying.

The thing about stories like these is that while they make me so angry my blood boils, I also end up loving them. Reading a story about female oppression written by a woman (sorry, has to be a woman) where the character rises and inspires others to challenge and fight against the disgusting domination of the patriarchy, is a very powerful thing. And when it also captivates the reader enough to cheer the characters on while feeling their pain and triumphs, it's also an awesome experience.

I have to mention that the simplicity of the world building makes it easy to slip right into this world, and made me feel like I was living every nightmarish moment. Tierney's tale is beautifully written and her voice is so captivating, I had a hard time putting the book down. I just HAD to find out what was going to happen next. And that's another thing that's riveting, the mysterious events going on around the girls really make for a thrilling read.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through, and led to a very satisfying conclusion. Loved this!

View all my reviews

Monday 8 March 2021



Doppelgangster (Esther Diamond, #2)Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few weeks ago I read Disappearing Nightly and enjoyed Esther Diamond's first book so much I had to read the next one, pronto!

When Esther finds herself out of work because the play she was in is cancelled, she returns to her old job as a singing waitress in Little Italy. The tips are good, the work is honest and it's a way to pay the rent. But when she witnesses a mob hit, she finds herself in the middle of another weird murder investigation, and her cop boyfriend has been assigned to investigate what might just turn out to be another mystical situation...

Wow. I really enjoyed this! Like the first book, I was into this as soon as I started reading. It was SO much fun and it didn't take long for me to get lost in Esther's crazy world.

I'm not a huge gangster fan, but enjoyed how this angle was tackled in this story because her interactions with these mob guys at Bella Stella cracked me up. These aging mobsters might be dangerous and have huge body counts attached to their names, but their banter is hilarious and they're more bumbling fools with big appetites and even bigger egos, than smart killers.

Except for Lucky. I liked him.

Plus, the mystery is fascinating. The doppelgänger concept has always interested me, and the unique way it was treated here turned out to be very cool. It was a LOT of fun to follow the clues and crimes in search of the answer.

Also, I love Esther. She's such a great character and seems to be a total trouble magnet. And so funny. Plus she's already showing growth and this is only the second book. The only problem is that, although she's making new friends and contacts along the way, it's not great on her love life. 😣

But the title, Doppelgangster, is so cool.

I'm loving this series. It's so awesome that I can't wait to read the rest.

View all my reviews

Friday 5 March 2021

New Story Time!

Hey, how are you today? It's been a while since I posted an update, so here I am. 😄

This year is going really fast, isn't it? I mean, we're already in the third month. Yikes! And asides from the Wall of Dolls edit I worked on a few weeks ago, I haven't gotten stuck into any new writing projects all year. No first drafts. No revision. Just a LOT of reading and hanging out with hubby, which actually turned out to be a great (unintentional) decision since he's gone back to work.

Yep. Australia is getting back to normal and--as scary as it is--it's time to step back into the new normal. To try and get on with everyday life. To be as 'normal' as possible while still keeping social distance, wearing masks to the shops, and washing hands as much as possible. We're even getting our flu shots next month and made dentist appointments.

So, I decided that the best way to get back into the groove of things is to get stuck into a shorter WIP. And I had the perfect one too, because this little psychological tale of nightmares was totally ready to be told. I kid you not.

Look at how it went:
  • Monday: 5,746 
  • Tuesday: 11,309 (added 5563w)
  • Wednesday: 17,124 (added 5815w)
Yep. It took me three days to write the first draft. I'm not surprised because this little story of darkness and confusion has been trapped inside my head since December. But I am surprised that it ended up being 17k, because I was expecting 15k. 

Getting it done so quickly means I got the chance to squeeze in a bit of reading, as well as plan out the revision time frame. Think I'll be getting stuck into the second draft on Monday. Because it's a shorter story, I'll like to keep the habit I adopted last year: complete the story from start to finish, instead of putting it aside for months! 

And I have so many more writing projects planned...

You know, asides from the reading and writing, we're also doing a lot more walking. I'm back to two daily weekday walks, except for the days I do three. And we're keeping up with the yoga, too.

Oh, and we started watching The Office. This is a show we've never watched before, but it didn't take long to get hooked. OMG. Love this show and love these characters. We're already on season five! 😳

Well, that's it for now.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 4 March 2021

THE GIRLS I'VE BEEN by Tessa Sharpe


Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley - the girls she's been.

Nora didn't choose a life of deception - she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.

For five years Nora's been playing at normal - but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes ... awkward). Now it will take all of Nora's con artistry skills to get them out alive.

Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is - that girl has been in hiding for far too long...

This is a book I first noticed because of the striking cover. After reading the blurb, I knew I definitely wanted to read it.

Nora O'Malley is a girl with a lot of secrets. She's the daughter of a con-artist who targeted criminal men during Nora's childhood. But she's not that girl anymore, she escaped that life.

The morning she gets caught up in the middle of a bank robbery, she's forced to forget 'normal', so she can tap into the girls she used to be. And these men don't know who they're dealing with...

Wow. This book is absolutely FANTASTIC! 

As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. The writing is engaging and so beautiful. I couldn't tear myself away from Nora's story. Speaking of Nora, her voice is strong and raw, so honest my heart broke a little more with every revelation. What this girl is forced to endure because of her own mother's doing is seriously terrible.

This book is a lot of things.

Starts out introducing a unique trio of friends with several levels of romantic complications, and soon becomes a dangerous bank heist. Before spinning everything around and turning into a fast-paced thriller with tension so thick the only way to go is forward. That's until you fully understand it's about the struggles of a young girl fighting the memory of what her con-artist mother groomed her to be and how easily she exposed her to the worst kind of danger.

BUT, it's also about the strongest of bonds: your own found family. Not bound by blood, but by something so much deeper. And at the centre, is a wonderful love story.

I don't want to say more about this book because it's an amazing and moving story that needs to be fully experienced on a very personal level. It delves into the power of teenage girls and how strong they are, even though they're so easily disregarded and seen only as pretty tokens.

The Girls I've Been is an explosive YA thriller that gets under your skin. It's packed full of tension, danger and some shocking situations. It might even tear your heart out along the way, but it's an honest tale about survival. About what trauma turns you into. It's also captivating.

Loved this!

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

The Girls I've Been, February 2021, ISBN 9781444960112, Hodder Children's Books
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