Thursday 31 March 2022


You remember the brutal crime, don’t you? Maybe you read about it on Twitter.

Maybe a friend sent you a news clip. Maybe you saw it on an episode of Spectral Journeys that night you were flipping through channels, unable to sleep. 

Maybe after reading the true story, you won’t ever sleep again.

On June 1, 2017, six people were killed at a Burger City franchise off I-80 near Jonny, Iowa. It was the bizarre and gruesome conclusion to nine months of alleged paranormal activity at the fast-food joint—events popularly known as “the Burger City Poltergeist.”

The story inspired Facebook memes, Twitter hashtags, Buzzfeed listicles, Saturday Night Live sketches, and more. But the case was never much more than a punchline…until bestselling writer Daniel Kraus (The Shape of Water, The Living Dead) decided to head to Iowa to dig up what really happened.

Presented here is the definitive story of “the most exhaustively documented haunting in history,” including—for the first time ever—interviews with every living survivor of the tragedy.

The employees of Burger City were a family. They loved one another. At least, at the beginning.

But love can make you do unspeakable things.

With such a bright cover and an intriguing premise, of course I was interested in reading this book, so I want to thank Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy.

I actually got stuck into this a few weeks ago and reached the halfway point before I was derailed by other writerly things. So, it was nice to get back to it.

Although everything that's laid out about the Burger City Poltergeist, what happened before and on that fateful night of June 1, 2017 appears to be based on real events, this is actually a fictional story that puts the author in the middle of a very freaky investigation...

Well, that was a bizarre little tale of unexpected darkness.

The thing I found really intriguing about this book, is how Daniel Kraus fills your head with what (at the time) appears to be too much information. There seems to be a lot of irrelevant details packed into each page, before getting back into the meaty parts. But in fact, you need to pay close attention to every single piece of information.

Also, as detailed as the interviews were, there was so much more going on when he was setting up the scene than when the people were speaking to him. So clever!

This is definitely one of those stories that sets out the situation, places all the key players on the board, vividly describes the location, and for a long while, they're all nothing more than small pieces of a much bigger puzzle that don't seem to fit together.

Then, when you least expect it, everything and everyone's role clicks into place.

I won't say more about this creepy tale set in a unique location where we don't usually expect hauntings to take place, but it was very entertaining.

There's a lot to like about this story that is so well written you often forget none of this actually happened. But that last section was my favourite. I loved every second of it, and the ending was perfect. I didn't see that coming, but it was wickedly cool.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

March Revision Update!


Hey! How are you today? I hope you're all doing well.

I've been busy finalising my latest Revision Project, while trying to ignore the shitty weather, the Covid numbers, and that daylight savings ends this weekend.

Anyway, here's how this week turned out:
  • Monday: 49/84pgs (28,224w)
  • Tuesday: 84/84pgs (28,177w)
  • Wednesday: 84pgs / 28,131w
Madness is finally done. Yay! 😊🎉

I'm really excited about finishing this story because during the second draft, I seriously considered putting it aside. Several times. The only reason I didn't is because I'm stubborn and pushed until the end. After that, thinking about the story for several days is what saved this dark fairy tale. 

Who says writing is only done while sitting behind a desktop/laptop? Some of my best ideas and plot epiphanies have come while thinking. During a walk. While falling asleep. While sitting on the couch watching Judge Judy/Judy Justice. 😁

I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo 2018 and the word count ended up being: 52,731w. That means I cut 24,600 words.

Yikes! That also means that between this revision and the one I completed last month, I pretty much cut a whole novel worth of words so far this year. 😬

Another cool thing is that completing this project means I can update my Revision List:
  • April 2021: Full edit of Wall of Dolls
  • May 2021: Full revision of Destiny
  • June 2021: Full revision of Victoria
  • August 2021: Full revision of Possess
  • September 2021: Full revision of Monsters
  • February 2022: Full revision of Cosmic
  • March 2022: Full revision if Madness

Well, that list is looking really good because I only have three old drafts left to revise, and last year's NaNoWriMo story. 

Okay. Now that this is finally done, and I'm really happy with how it turned out, I'm going to try and get stuck into some reading. I haven't read a book in almost THREE WEEKS! 😳

I'm also going to enjoy a mental break because I need it. LOL.

Have a great week!

Thursday 24 March 2022

The Revision Continues...

Hi! How's this week treating everyone? Staying busy? Taking a break? Doing a bit of both?

We started the week with flu shots. Yep, it's that time of the year again. And since people are out and about now, pretending Covid case numbers aren't going up every single day, it looks like we're also heading into a nasty flu season. Best to be protected, I reckon.

Though, I have to admit that between the first, second and booster doses, I'm starting to feel like a bit of a human pin cushion. 😅

Anyway, I got stuck into revision this week, so I've been MIA from just about everything. But Animal Crossing. I always make room for my villagers and island. Have I mentioned the name of my island is Grimoire? 

Here's my revision progress: 
  • Monday: 23/66pgs (23,809w)
  • Tuesday: 52/73pgs (25,464w)
  • Wednesday: 82/82pgs (27,395w)
  • Thursday: 84 pages / 28,275w

As you can see, the third draft is done. Yay. Awesome. Cool.

You might also have noticed that the word and page counts are very different to last week. I did mention that I was thinking about cutting a whole POV from the story, and I did!

After finishing the second draft last week, I was supposed to be taking a couple of days off between drafts, but I actually spent most of my time thinking about the best way to fix this story. It took a lot of thinking, so I didn't do any reading at all. Instead, I took a lot of notes and figured out the best way to tackle the changes.

In the end, I came up with a solution that put the spark back into this WIP. Gave it a new lease of life that involved keeping the dark fairy tale side of the POV, and adding several new ideas that really work.

Now that the draft is done, I'm really happy with how it turned out. I've already added the document to my Paperwhite so I can read it one last time. Next week. And I'm actually looking forward to it, which is great because when I first picked this up again last Monday, I was seriously thinking about putting it aside. Glad I didn't give up on this peculiar tale of madness and tragedy.

As I said above, my head's been SO FULL of this story ALL WEEK, so it will be nice to get a three-day mental break. And two of those will be with hubby, so that's doubly awesome.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday 16 March 2022

A New Revision Project Begins...


Hey! How are you? Staying busy? I've been feeling a little wonky this week, which is something that happens to me every time the season changes. I can't handle the hot and cold at different times of the day. Although we didn't have the best summer, I'm not looking forward to winter. It's my least favourite season. Ugh.

Anyway, after a three-week (sorta) break, it was time to get stuck into my next Revision Project. This time it's a dark fairy tale about loneliness, being misunderstood and madness. 

Here's how it went:
  • Monday: 42/135pgs (51,854w)
  • Tuesday: 94/129pgs (48,122w)
  • Wednesday: 126pgs / 46,225w

As you can see, I finished the second draft today. Yay. 

This is a story that I wrote in November 2018, during NaNoWriMo. At the time, I was really excited about how the dual POVs complemented each other and seemed to reveal the very dark truth simultaneously. But after being away from the story for several years, I've realised that what I thought was a great concept is actually the reason why the story isn't going to work. 😬

As soon as I got started, I realised something was missing and I'm pretty sure it's the fact that these dual POVs feel like two very different stories that simply don't fit together. Actually, the more I revised, the more one of those POVs lagged behind. I think that the only way to fix this story is to cut half of the narrative out and concentrate on the voice/narration that really works. Because one of the POVs really worked, while the other kept throwing me off.

So, I guess that's what I'll be doing next week when I work on the third draft. Also, it looks like this novel will end up being a novella. Just like last month's revision.

I always like to leave a bit of time between novel/novella drafts, but putting them aside for too long has its own strange consequences. On one hand, it helps me look at the story objectively and I can spot what doesn't work and why. On the other hand, too much distance means the initial spark of creativity is gone and I end up being extra judgy. 

Actually, I think both of those consequences are good things.

I'm going to put this aside until next Monday. Looks like I have some thinking to do. Nah, I'm pretty sure which direction I'll be taking...

Have a great week! 😊

Sunday 13 March 2022

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS Tarot Deck & Guidebook by Minerva Siegel & Abigail Larsen


The Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot Deck and GuidebookThe Nightmare Before Christmas Tarot Deck and Guidebook by Minerva Siegel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love The Nightmare Before Christmas and I love tarot cards, so this is definitely something that I've wanted to add to my collection for a while. And last year, my daughter gave me this lovely deck for Christmas. 😍

Everything about this deck is beautiful. Starting with the very sturdy pretty box, the guide book, and the actual cards.

The guide book is full of explanations to help you read the cards, accompanied by colourful illustrations of familiar characters and objects all fans of this movie will recognise. There are even spread suggestions, and throughout the whole thing, the dark beauty of The Nightmare Before Christmas is right there. And the cards? Well, they're simply stunning. Abigail Larsen is an amazing artist and is perfectly suited to this deck. She captured the source material perfectly.

I absolutely LOVE everything about this. I just don't know if I can bring myself to handle these pretty cards very often.

View all my reviews

Friday 11 March 2022

Took a Break & Ended Up Doing Stuff


Hey! How are you today? What have you been up to? It's Friday, so I'm looking forward to this afternoon so we can start the weekend. 😍

As you probably already know, I always like to take a few weeks off between writing projects. But this time, I did things a bit differently. I took three weeks off and although I did take a reading break, I also wrote and revised two short stories.

One of them is just under 4k, and the other just under 1.5k. Both were dark ideas that I couldn't shake and demanded to be written. One I started writing last month (600w) and finished last week, the other I wrote on my phone last weekend. I had a blast working on these two short tales. I love chipping away at the first draft during revision until they're even stronger/better than my initial idea. And since they were both for specific sub calls, I went with the flow and sent them in. They're longshots, but you gotta be in it and all that, right? Wish me luck.🤞

Anyway, these are the books I read:

(ETA: there's a book missing from this graphic because I read it after posting this.)

You can find my reviews below, or check them out on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page. These were all great in their own way, and although I still have HEAPS of books I want to read, and these don't even make a dent in my multiple TBR piles, I'm happy I read them. Also that there's a nice mix of Kindle and paperback versions.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, I spent a lot of time wishing for the sun to make a comeback. We've had a couple of nice days this week, but for almost two weeks all we had was rain and horrid downpours. It got so bad NSW suffered some pretty bad floods. The weather has been terrible, and winter hasn't even started yet. Not that we had much of a summer this time around. 😫

At this stage, I can't believe anyone has the audacity to pretend climate change isn't affecting us already. And don't even get me started on how the Covid case numbers are going up again since the 'government' decided to remove check-ins, number restrictions, and masks indoors in crowded places. Not to mention all the other terrible things going on in this world. Clueless/selfish people really need to stop voting for fascists. Ugh.

I enjoyed this nice and very productive break, so I'd like to get stuck into my next revision project next week. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Have an awesome weekend! ☺️

THE SMALL HAND by Susan Hill


The Small HandThe Small Hand by Susan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We used to go on thrift-store adventures a lot, but then Covid hit and we don't do that anymore, but I've still got a bunch of unread books from those hauls in multiple piles, and this is one of them.

I wasn't planning to read anything today because I wanted to sort through these books, but once I started this one I couldn't stop. 😬

Adam Snow is an antiquarian bookseller who is going home after visiting a client, when he takes a wrong turn along a country road. That's how he stumbles on a derelict house with an overgrown garden. There's something about this place that he can't shake, and it's not just the feel of a ghostly hand taking his...

Wow. I actually read this book in two sittings because I couldn't put it down. I love a good ghost story, and this one totally hooked me in as soon as I started.

The creepy atmosphere spills into this story from the very beginning. The vivid descriptions of the garden Adam stumbles into really gives this story a strong sense of location. Actually, every place he visits is so well described that you can't help but be dragged into the middle of things.

Adam's voice is also very strong and so interesting. I loved his job and how searching for these old, rare books takes him all over the world. I mean, he even ends up in the mountains of France, where he visits a monastery full of silent monks and suffers through some pretty scary incidents.

The tension is thick and the more Adam suffers from panic attacks, gets lost in nightmares and even encounters ghosts, the spookier everything gets. Until the connection is revealed, and everything makes total sense.

This is a slow burn gothic tale that consumed me so deeply, I couldn't stop following Adam on his dark and confusing adventure. Also, it's so well written. Loved the writing style.

Thursday 10 March 2022



Benny Rose, the Cannibal KingBenny Rose, the Cannibal King by Hailey Piper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've got a bunch of Rewind or Die novellas on my Paperwhite that I've been meaning to read for a while, so I thought I'd start with a Hailey Piper story.

Desiree lives in Blackwood, a boring town with a big legend. Benny Rose, the Cannibal King is a mysterious figure responsible for killing and eating children, as well as every other scary story they can attach to him. But during Halloween 1987, while trying to prank the new girl, Desiree and her friends are about to find themselves the targets of this horrific killer...

Well, that was quite the gorefest. And I say that in the best way possible because the carnage in this little horror gem just keeps coming.

This creepy tale really nails the 1980s teenage vibes, as well as tapping into what made all those VHS movies so much fun during movie nights with friends. The characters are introduced in a way that hooked me into their lives instantly. The Halloween situation plays out as expected... Well, until it doesn't, because there's nothing predictable about what these friends go through. 👀

I also enjoyed the underlying social commentary about what people are willing to do to stop change. It's sad, but true, and very entertaining in this novella.

Oh, and the last chapter is absolutely brutal. And inspiring, in a macabre kinda way. Teenage girls are some of the strongest and most loyal people, though they rarely get credit for it. So it was awesome to see these girls taking the lead against a horrible monster.

View all my reviews

Wednesday 9 March 2022

BOTTLED by Stephanie Ellis


BottledBottled by Stephanie Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading an awesome and intense long book, I was in the mood for something shorter. While looking through my Paperwhite, this novella caught my eye because it sounded so different, and strange.

Tyler isn't in a good place right now. He's divorced, rarely sees his son, and is living with his pushy mother. That could all change if he abides by a stipulation in his grandfather's will. The only problem is that the house he has to return to left deep emotional and mental scars that still haunt him...

Yikes! What a bleak and disturbing tale this turned out to be. 👀

I wasn't sure what to expect from this novella, but the cover looked intriguing and the description caught my interest. And as soon as I started reading, I found myself captivated by what was going on. I love stories about creepy houses and family secrets, and this story is full of both.

I instantly felt bad for Tyler because, even though he clearly had problems, it was obvious that most of the people in his life were constantly trying to manipulate him. His mother wasn't very subtle about her quest for the money she felt she deserved, and his ex was just as annoying. Not to mention how his grandfather was still able to control him from beyond the grave.

Reading this novella was like being trapped inside a fever dream. Not because it was hard to keep up with what was happening, but because everything that poor Tyler experiences is so trippy, and shrouded behind a layer of madness. He goes through some scary, haunting stuff. And the fact he enjoyed drinking didn't help matters.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Bottled because it was an addictive, nightmarish story I totally lost myself in. Some of the imagery is amazingly dark, and so damn chilling.

Tuesday 8 March 2022

DEAD TO HER by Sarah Pinborough


Dead to HerDead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I always love reading a Sarah Pinborough book because she never disappoints. Her stories hook me in from the very beginning, and this was no different.

Marcie is married to Jason Maddox and is part of Savannah's high-society, but has several secrets stashed away. Keisha is William Radford IV's new young bride, living in the shadow of his dead wife, trying to live this unfamiliar life for the sake of survival and escape. But when one woman suspects the other of malicious intent and they strike up an uneasy friendship, it can only lead to trouble...

Wow. Fantastic.

Like I said above, this author sure knows how to drag me headfirst into a story. Even though these rich, arrogant and mostly clueless rich people all lead lives most of us are not familiar with, I couldn't help but become addicted to their shallow existence. And the best thing about these kinds of stories is that there are always wicked secrets stashed away in the past, wicked plans to ruin someone, and plenty of wickedness buried beneath the surface.

Yep, wicked is definitely the word that comes to mind for this particular story.

Watching how the shiny shimmer is slowly tarnished to reveal the true, ugly stuff beneath turned out to be both fun and disturbing. Plus, SO addictive. I couldn't stop reading because the layers of what's really rotten and wrong with these characters slowly reveals itself.

Not to mention the twists. So many awesome twists. There were quite a few, starting with what ends up happening between Marcie and Keisha. And voodoo. Did I mention how well this is woven into everything?

Another thing that I enjoyed was the sense of location. Savannah is a place that has always intrigued me and the vivid descriptions fly off the page. Loved it!

No one writes awful, despicable characters that you dislike so much you HAVE TO KEEP READING, like Sarah Pinborough.

View all my reviews

Friday 4 March 2022

IN THE ARTIC SUN by Rowan Hill


In the Arctic SunIn the Arctic Sun by Rowan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I pre-ordered this novella and it hit my Paperwhite last week, so I was eager to get stuck into it. The premise sounded so intriguing.

Sarah lives in Alaska, isolated from the world after her husband and her exchanged the fast-paced city life for something quieter. But their marriage has hit a stumbling block and she's living alone. Well, as alone as she can be with the bright orb of the sun burning in the sky all day, constant drilling, a new neighbour, and some kind of creature...

From the moment I started, I fell into Sarah's quiet, but disturbing existence. I felt her agony at having to deal with the sun all day. Could feel how cheated she was by the isolation that had slowly become a trap, instead of a comfort. Understood her anger at a partner who should still be with her, while she found a distraction in a new, younger man.

Not to mention whatever had wormed its way into her basement. 😱

And then, somewhere along the way... everything changed. I started doubting everyone, but still felt sorry for Sarah because no one believed her. No one was there to witness the terrifying stuff.

I really enjoyed this psychological horror tale with such slow-burn dread dripping from every page. This story will keep you guessing until the end, and even then you'll be questioning the ambiguity.

Great debut!

Thursday 3 March 2022

CURSED OBJECTS Strange but True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items by J.W. Ocker


Cursed Objects: Strange But True Stories of the World's Most Infamous ItemsCursed Objects: Strange But True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items by J.W. Ocker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This little beauty caught my eye for two reasons: that cover is amazing, and cursed objects intrigue me. Besides, I'm always looking for new research fodder for my own stories. 😁

I had a LOT of fun reading this book, and liked the awesome illustrations throughout. The hardcover edition is stunning and packed full of interesting info. As well as some unexpected humour, which I wasn't expecting but really enjoyed.

There were quite a few objects that I already knew something about, but so many I didn't. After all, I'm a huge fan of creepy dolls. And OMG, there's even a section that covers chain emails. I remember when these were huge and packed full of urban legends.

I also found the Antikythera Mechanism absolutely fascinating and will have to find out more.

This might look like a thick book, but it's a breeze to get through.

I'm adding this creepy volume to my Keeper Shelf! 💀
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