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Friday, 25 June 2021

The Revision Continues...

Hi, how are you today? I hope you all had a great week.

Things in NSW aren't great at the moment. We've had another Covid outbreak, and this time it's that nasty super-contagious strain. So, the compulsory mask wearing is back and so is the social distancing, plus a bunch of other restrictions without calling it a lockdown. This isn't much of a problem for us because we kept wearing our masks and always keep our distance, but any outbreaks freak me the fuck out. Especially now that hubby's back to working full time. ๐Ÿ˜– 

It's scary and shitty, and I wish this pandemic was over already.

The timing is all wrong, too. Hubby & I actually got our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Friday and will be getting the second in early July. It's great, but being half protected feels weird. I just wish the Australian government cared more about Australians than lining their pockets and got the vaccination rollout done sooner. ๐Ÿ˜’

Anyway, the day after the vaccine was pretty rough. Had a sore arm and was really tired after a short walk, but by the beginning of the week, it all seemed okay. So I got stuck into the third draft of my latest Revision Project while hubby was at work.

Here's how I went:

Monday: 19/144pgs (54,131w)
Tuesday: 60/146pgs (54,981w) 
Wednesday: 96/147pgs (55,332w) 
Thursday: 139/148pgs (55,762w)
Friday: 150pgs / 56,733w

THE THIRD DRAFT IS DONE! Yay. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐ŸŽ‰

I'm very excited because I worked really hard on this draft, and actually ended up adding another 3,947 words. There were several plot points that needed tidying up. Not to mention several changes in the direction of the story that caused a ripple effect and needed a bit of tweaking all round.

The reason for this was that while we took it easy last weekend and spent a lot of time on the couch, we also watched a bunch of old Judge Judy episodes on YouTube. So I decided to start a Third Draft Revision List and noticed there were a few things that needed extra attention to detail. Once I started thinking about it and took a whole bunch of notes, I also did some extra research. And that's when everything started clicking into place in a way that really excited me.

Now that it's all done, I'm really glad I decided to make all those changes/additions. It took longer than I expected, but I don't shy away from extra work if it's going to make the story better/stronger. And I believe everything I did definitely makes Victoria a much darker, deeper gothic tale with a morbid twist of mythology.

I loved writing this story and believe it deserves the attention to detail I've added. And on Monday, I'll be reading it on my Paperwhite. But now, I need a few days to rest my brain and hang out with hubby.

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, 17 June 2021

June's Revision Begins...


Hey! How are you today? Long time no blog. ๐Ÿ˜

I actually took a two week mental break and spent most of it reading, sorting my stationery and prepping for the next revision project. That's right! This week started with a public holiday, and then I got stuck into another first draft.

I'm really determined to stick to my 2021 Revision Plans.

The word count for Victoria started at 50,263. This is actually a story I wrote back in September 2019, so getting into the groove of this narrator's life took a few days. But once I got stuck into the middle of all the creepy weirdness, I enjoyed catching up with these characters and their bleak world.

This is actually a nightmarish gothic horror story featuring a house full of shadows. It's a haunted house tale. It feels like being stuck in a fever dream. And it's also got a touch of mythology. Plus deals with love, family and friendship. 

Here's my progress: 
  • Tuesday: 47/134pgs (50,716w)
  • Wednesday: 90/137pgs (52,116w)
  • Thursday: 141pgs / 52,786w

It's great to be working on this novel again because it's one I really enjoyed writing. Going back to it after such a long stretch of time means there's a lot I don't remember, so it was full of surprises. It's also not as rough as I was expecting. Of course there were plenty of bits to cut, a nice chunk of additions, and plenty of dark imagery as well as emotion and consequence to be smoothed out.

My favourite thing about it is how bizarre everything feels. It's a bleak story full of hope. A claustrophobic story in search of freedom. I'm going to enjoy layering even more during the next draft. Just like I'm enjoying layering this blog post with so many descriptions.

Well, I'm going to rest my brain for the next three days and will hit the third draft on Monday. Really looking forward to it, but for now it's time to have a break. ๐Ÿ˜„

Have a great day!

Friday, 11 June 2021

THE HUSBANDS by Chandler Baker

Welcome to the neighbourhood. We do things differently here.

Recently, Nora has started to feel that 'having it all' - a family, a soon-to-be new house, a successful career in law - comes with a price, one her husband doesn't seem to be paying quite so heavily. She loves Hayden, but why is it that, however hard men work, their wives always seem to work that much harder?

Then her house-hunting takes them to an affluent suburban neighbourhood and Nora's eyes are opened to a new world. One where women can have it all. One where the men actually pull their weight.

But a wrongful death case involving one of the local residents draws Nora further into this perfect world and she begins to realise that the secret of 'having it all' is far more complicated than she could ever have imagined. In fact, it may be worth killing for...
 


This is another book that caught my eye while looking through a Hachette catalogue. It gave me The Stepford Wives vibes, and since I love that story, I had to check this out.

Nora is a mother and wife. She works full time and pretty much does everything to keep her family life running smoothly. But it's tiring and makes her resentful when her husband doesn't bear as much of the responsibility as she does. While house-hunting in a lovely suburban neighbourhood, Nora finds herself involved in a wrongful death case and starts spending time with a group of women who have doting husbands. But as she investigates, she starts to unravel something she never expected...

Wow. This is such an awesome book! I was totally hooked and couldn't put it down. I got caught up in Nora's life and was intrigued by the secrets of Dynasty Ranch. 

The social commentary in this book is heavy and can be understood by every woman who's ever wanted to achieve their ambitions inside and outside their family home. The struggle can often seem one-sided, and I really liked the way this was dealt with here. How well it's all shown and felt through the eyes of the main character.

I really liked Nora. She's a personal injury litigator who is constantly overwhelmed while trying to stay on top of her demanding job and even more demanding home life. Not to mention that she's dealing with some deep-rooted guilt about an accident that shaped her motherhood experience. So, it's no wonder she gets easily caught up in the whirlwind of instant friendship with the professional and friendly women living in Dynasty Ranch.

Following her story was truly exhausting and she was such a sympathetic character. I felt her pain, need for rest and pursuit for understanding. But she's also flawed.

Actually, that's another great thing about this book. No matter how hard some of the characters try to showcase their perfect lives, they're all actually quite damaged, cunning, impressionable, desperate and manipulative.

The moral of this story is very well executed.

The Husbands is an addictive and very clever book full of mystery, with a thick sense of malice rippling beneath the surface. Everything appears normal and mundane, so very domestic, but it's actually very disturbing. Yet, as serious as things get leading to the shocking conclusion, it was also pretty amusing. I cackled quite a bit.

I loved this! And yes, it did turn out to be a twisted feminist cross between The Stepford Wives and Get Out.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!



The Husbands, June 2021, ISBN 9780733642746, Hachette Australia

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

THE MAIDENS by Alex Michaelides

 

We all keep secrets. Even from ourselves.  

For Mariana Andros - a group therapist struggling through her private grief - it's where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it's the tragic scene of her best friend's murder.

As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.

A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders - and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana's investigation - an obsession which will unravel everything...


I spotted this book in one of Hachette's catalogues and I found the concept so interesting, I requested a review copy. So I have to thank Hachette Australia for sending me one.

Mariana is a group therapist and is going through a devastating loss when her niece calls from Cambridge asking for her help. Zoe's friend has gone missing and she suspects she's the body that was found stabbed and dumped near the river... 

Wow. What an excellent, well-written story! I was hooked on this addictive book from the beginning.

I honestly didn't know what to expect after I started reading, and what I got was an atmospheric psychological thriller full of twists, turns and an eerie mix of mythology. And short snappy chapters that moved the events forward at a great pace.

I'm a huge fan of Greek mythology and especially anything to do with Persephone, the Underworld and Medusa. I also absolutely love psychological thrillers, so this story spoke to me on several levels. 

Another thing that I enjoyed about this story were the characters. They were all unique in their own way. No one was entirely evil or entirely good, everyone was flawed in their own way as a result of their past. Their childhood and life experiences affected them deeply, which was another great recurring theme. All of these factors form such a great study of how the psychology of childhood makes us who we are, and keeps on shaping us into adulthood.

The story is mostly told in the POV of Mariana, and I liked going on this very dark journey with her. She was a great main character because she revealed so much, yet wasn't even aware how much she left out herself. There are also some disturbing journal entries peppered throughout written by a mysterious narrator.

The Maidens is an outstanding Greek tragedy with a good dose of love, betrayal, sacrifice and violence. It's perfectly disguised as a twisty psychological trip that's full of surprises, misdirection and horrific murders. Sometimes, I even questioned what was real and what wasn't. The suspicion, dread and paranoia drips off every page. Not to mention that I couldn't put it down, and couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

I loved this and am now looking forward to reading the author's first book, The Silent Patient.



The Maidens, June 2021, ISBN 9781409181675, Orion

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

KITTY IN THE UNDERWORLD by Carrie Vaughn

 

Kitty in the Underworld (Kitty Norville, #12)Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the twelfth Kitty Norville, and since I'm determined to finish the series this year, I decided it was time to read the next one.

Kitty's in the middle of researching and brainstorming her latest book when Ben goes on a business trip. In his absence, and in typical Kitty fashion, trouble enters her territory and she ends up a prisoner to a group of supernaturals with ritualistic plans...

Wow. What an intense installment this one turned out to be. ๐Ÿ˜ต

Stories like these always get under my skin. When a character is kidnapped, imprisoned and the captors attempt to brainwash or torture them in some way—hoping to get what they want—it makes my blood boil. Yet, I couldn't stop reading because these kinds of stories are always so intriguing. Plus it's satisfying when our main character defies her captors at every step.

In this story that situation also comes with an unexpected twist because we're dealing with a very stubborn, strong and capable alpha who bows to no one, and can't be brainwashed. Still, it was hard to watch Kitty and her wolf struggle to stay in control after being locked away, underfed and tranquilised. And awful to see how she reacted when being kept in the dark both physically and mentally.

This book was a little different to the others because Kitty was alone for so much of it. I've gotten used to having Ben, Cormac, the Denver pack and the vampires around, so it was strange and reminded me of the days when she didn't have this supernatural support system.

Luckily, Kitty's awesome and had no problem carrying her own story. She's also uncovered some pretty cool things that will no doubt come into play as the series races to its conclusion. I just hope we meet up with a certain lioness again.

Bring on the next book!

Sunday, 6 June 2021

UNWELL WOMEN by Elinor Cleghorn

 

'We are taught that medicine is the art of solving our body's mysteries. And as a science, we expect medicine to uphold the principles of evidence and impartiality. We want our doctors to listen to us and care for us as people, but we also need their assessments of our pain and fevers, aches and exhaustion to be free of any prejudice about who we are, our gender, or the colour of our skin. But medicine carries the burden of its own troubling history. The history of medicine, of illness, is a history of people, of their bodies and their lives, not just physicians, surgeons, clinicians and researchers. And medical progress has always reflected the realities of a changing world, and the meanings of being human.'

In Unwell Women Elinor Cleghorn unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women's bodies, and traces the journey from the 'wandering womb' of ancient Greece, the rise of witch trials in Medieval Europe, through the dawn of Hysteria, to modern day understandings of autoimmune diseases, the menopause and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy - and drawing on her own experience of un-diagnosed Lupus disease - this is a ground-breaking and timely expose of the medical world and woman's place within it.



Just like The Menopause Manifesto, this is a book that I just had to get my hands on. Also, the cover is gorgeous.

As a girl who grew up to become a woman, I'm no stranger to being dismissed or harassed because of my gender. I've also experienced plenty of reactions from male doctors who either made me feel like I was complaining about nothing, overdoing it, or made it sound like every symptom in the world was somehow closely tied to my gender and weight. 

So, of course this book instantly caught my attention. Not just because I'm very interested in this subject, but because I can so relate to the concept of women's health being dismissed.

In this nice and thick book, Elinor Cleghorn lays out the many ways women's health issues are often ignored or misdiagnosed because not enough time and effort is devoted to research. She also shares her own experience after becoming an unwell woman.

I love how much history is packed into the book. Every page is full of handy information about everything. Some, I already knew about, but there's so much more that I didn't. I mean, it starts all the way back in Ancient Greece before covering every century between then and now.

There's a LOT of history and info packed within these pages, and I enjoyed reading about all of it.

Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World is an awesome book packed full of medical history that focuses on women. I found this refreshing, intriguing, and very interesting. 

This is another one of those books every woman should have on their bookshelf.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy!



Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine And Myth in a Man-Made World, June 2021, ISBN 9781474616867, W&N

Friday, 4 June 2021

THE STRANGE TALE OF MISS VICTORIA FRANK by Kelly Evans

 

The Strange Tale of Miss Victoria FrankThe Strange Tale of Miss Victoria Frank by Kelly Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know, I wasn't planning to read anything tonight. Yet, while sorting the books on my Paperwhite, I somehow ended up starting and finishing this.

Nikola Tesla is in New York City lecturing people who don't understand his vision when he crosses paths with Victoria Frank. Victoria is a scientist with her own plans and when she becomes Tesla's assistant, unexpected things happen...

I really enjoyed this story! It's under 100 pages and every word counts. Everything that happens from beginning to end is important, and leads to a tragic ending foreshadowed from early on.

Victoria is a great character. She's stubborn, determined and very clever. She's also hiding a few secrets, and is very determined to complete her impossible and very horrific goal. Nikola is an unexpected delight in this gothic tale. Not just because the author made him her own and he fits the narrative perfectly, but also because he seems to be ripped right from the historical pages he lives in.

I loved the pseudo-science featured in this story, and how well it was portrayed. Not to mention that I've always held a degree of curiosity about Tesla. The way this is combined with the concept featured in one of my most favourite classics, really works.

This story is a charming pleasant surprise that mixes science, great characterisation, feminism and some pretty morbid horror themes.

You should definitely check it out!



View all my reviews

HOLY COW by David Duchovny

 

Holy CowHoly Cow by David Duchovny
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading a book written by Gillian Anderson, it was only fair that I follow it up with a book written by David Duchovny. ๐Ÿ˜

Elsie is a cow who is very eager to tell us her story. She might start out as a small-farm gal, but after finding out a few shocking truths about the human world, she makes it her mission to escape to a much better place...

OMG. This story is SO MUCH FUN! I absolutely LOVED it. And Elsie! She's awesome and quirky and funny and very witty. Her passion is contagious. I was totally cheering for her all the way through and enjoyed following her on this very important personal quest.

I have to warn you, this is one cow's adventure in a world that doesn't understand her. So I'm pretty sure there will be readers who just don't get it, but if you open your mind and heart, and stick with this very unique and unusual tale, you won't regret it.

Another very cool thing about it is the style. I loved how Elsie took the piss out of everything, including herself. The dialogue is hilarious, especially when Shalom and Tom join the party. And Joe was hilarious too. Plus, the snappy short chapters made this book such a great and speedy read.

Oh, and I also need to mention that although I keep saying Elsie's adventure is fun, it's also quite sad. Watching all the awful greed humans partake in every single day through the eyes of the animals they take for granted, and mistreat, always makes me angry.

This is such a clever way of telling a lighthearted story dealing with some pretty heavy subjects. And the social commentary about human behaviour, religion and common decency, is on point. As are all the pop culture references.

It's a bit of a melancholy ride but well worth the time.

Holy Cow, indeed. ๐Ÿฎ

I can't wait to read more Duchovny.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

A VISION OF FIRE by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

 

A Vision of Fire (The Earthend Saga, #1)A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all know Gillian Anderson is an awesome actor, but how many of us know she's also a great writer? Well, after reading this intriguing book, I can confidently say she knows how to weave an interesting tale that easily hooked me in.

The world is at a tipping point. The threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan is real. Peace talks don't seem to help. And now young people from different parts of the world are speaking in unfamiliar languages, screaming for no reason and slipping into violent trances. But one woman is willing to dig deeper, ask questions and put herself in the middle of this dangerous situation to help these kids while also searching for the truth...

Wow. What a ride! I was hooked from the Prologue, and became totally invested once the story gets going. Not only because I was intrigued as soon as the weird stuff started happening, but also because I really liked the characters.

I was already sold on this book, but when Caitlin O’Hara is introduced, everything got even better. Caitlin is a child psychologist with a young son who, via her translator friend from the UN, finds herself caught up in a very strange and delicate situation. The way she deals with it and how deeply she gets involved in this impossible quest to help the teenager, Maanik, really stuck with me.

She's just such an awesome character. Devoted to her work, a caring mother, always willing to help those in need, believes in the scientific process but also doesn't close her mind off to the other. Caitlin is great and I loved the moments when she goes through everything in her mind.

There are other very interesting POVs that help round out the intricate subtleties of what is slowly building around the world. I especially liked Ben, and need to know more about Flora and Mikel.

I found the mystery at the core of this thrilling story so interesting that I couldn't put the book down. My intention was to get a sample, but ended up spending hours reading. I seriously couldn't stop. Because I wanted to know what was going to happen next! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

In the end, the things that are revealed were as captivating as the ones still left unsolved. This is a series, so I wasn't surprised there.

I've always had an interest in the mysteries of ancient civilisations, so this was right up my alley.

Anyway, this turned out to be an awesome book. I'm looking forward to checking out the next one.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail's most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina's chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina's debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip - malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.

But Nina's life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina's talent blossoms - as does her love for the great man.

But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina - and himself - that threatens their courtship.


After absolutely loving Gods of Jade and Shadow and Mexican Gothic, of course I was interested in checking out Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest release. And with such a gorgeous cover, I couldn't wait to check it out.

One thing that I love about this very talented author is how she writes beautiful stories in a variety of genres. Picking up one of her books is always a surprise because you don't know what wonders will be within these pages.

Nina is staying at her cousin's house in the city to make her debut during the Grand Season. But she doesn't fit in with the Beautiful Ones and would rather be doing anything else. When she meets the entertainer Hector, she's instantly smitten. But Hector's seemingly mutual interest in her is a bit about their shared telekinesis, and even more about someone else...

Well, that was quite a pleasant, slow burn historical romance with a touch of the paranormal and a lot of unconventional, unexpected surprises.

The strange thing about this book is that during the first 100 pages, I kept wondering why I was still reading a story featuring two truly awful people. But I just couldn't put it down! It wasn't until a while later that I realised why I was still on board with this story: Nina.

Nina is one of the three shared POVs in this very well-written and lush book. She's innocent and wondrous, so full of life and finds excitement in the simple things others around her disregard. Her enthusiasm for all living things is contagious and her attitude so refreshing. Every time she tells her side of the story, it's a total joy.

The other two, though. My gosh, they were a totally different story. Valรฉrie is an awful, cold woman with only cruelty and manipulation in mind. I did NOT like this character at all. As for Hector, OMG, I really wanted to like him from the beginning but his intentions were so selfish, that I spent most of my reading time angry with him. Since I loved Nina so much and these two were not nice to her, I initially found it really hard to warm to either one.

Except, my feelings towards Hector changed somewhere along the way. The more I read, the more I somehow found my opinion about him changing. Until I couldn't help but like him.

Yeah, the characterisation in this book is awesome.

Another thing I particularly liked about this book is how it proves that when a society's main concern is manners, appearances and controlling women's lives with oppressing rules, dire complications of the heart are sure to arise.

The Beautiful Ones is a fantastic, addictive tale that slowly creeps into your head, and before you know what's happening, you find yourself halfway through and wondering how that happened. I loved the vivid sense of location and time, the soft press of the paranormal, and how well each of these characters inhabit this historical world of pompous, arrogant people flaunting their homes and wealth, instead of worrying about what really matters.

I really enjoyed this romantic adventure full of complicated love, secrets, betrayal and how the past shapes people's futures.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.



The Beautiful Ones, April 2021, ISBN 9781529416114, Jo Fletcher Books

 
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