Friday 28 October 2022



The Book of the Most Precious SubstanceThe Book of the Most Precious Substance by Sara Gran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had my eye on this book for a while and couldn't wait to check it out.

Once upon a time, Lily published a successful and well received book. But after her husband got sick, she lost the spark. To live and to write. Now, she's a book dealer and has become part of a seller's circle that leads her to an unexpected adventure to hunt down a very dangerous, magical book...

Fantastic, addictive and intriguing. I seriously couldn't put this down. I started yesterday and finished today because I was enthralled by this dark and mystical book.

There's a LOT of great stuff packed into the pages of this book: so many rare books, amazing locations, delicious food, enticing characters, the endless lure of sex. And I enjoyed every exciting and unpredictable moment.

Lily displays plenty of morally corrupt qualities, and we're never really sure if they're her own desires or those of the wicked book. Either way, she's a real, flawed, and interesting character. She's also very sympathetic. No matter what she did, I felt sorry for her misfortune and admired her tenacity to continue on even at the bleakest of times.

I also liked Lucas, who was seemingly the complete opposite of Lily, yet is so similar to her. And Awe really stood out to me. He didn't take up much narrative space, but still made a huge impact on the overall story. If not for this saintly carer, Lily wouldn't have been able to follow the clues all around the world with the charming Lucas.

The actual search for this rare book of dark magic was exciting and seductive. An erotic ride filled with so many unexpected circumstances. I like how it pushed Lily's boundaries to so many new experiences that awakened her physically and mentally.

Lastly, I love Sara Gran's writing style. And that ending is so bittersweet.

View all my reviews

Thursday 27 October 2022

NaNoWriMo is almost here...

Since I've already signed up, it's time to write my annual National Novel Writing Month blog post. 😅 

The first time I took part in NaNoWriMo was all the way back in 2006. 😯 Since then, it's become a tradition for me. I only skipped it once (because of editing). 

And now that my Revision Plan is finished, this will be my first new WIP in a while. I'm really excited! 

Here's my history:
  • 2006: UF (Angie)
  • 2007: SFR (Shade of Grey)
  • 2008: SFR (Shade of Blue)
  • 2009: Horror (Sinful)
  • 2010: Futuristic (Embracing Sunlight)
  • 2011: N/A
  • 2012: UF (Torn from the Shadows)
  • 2013: SFR (Dash)
  • 2014: UF (Willow)
  • 2015: YA Historical (MixedTape)
  • 2016: YA Horror (Haunted)
  • 2017: YA SF Thriller (Cosmic Girl)
  • 2018: YA Horror (Madness)
  • 2019: SF Historical Horror (Neon)
  • 2020: Horror UF (Destiny)
  • 2021: Horror (Stuck)
This year, I'll be working on another horror story that has been bubbling inside my head for a few years but didn't have enough time to work on. It's about a family with many secrets, a place with too many ghosts, and an old mystery that bubbles to the surface. 

Looking forward to starting to Tuesday.

Have a great day! ☺️

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

Wednesday 19 October 2022



Carlota Moreau: A young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatan peninsula, the only daughter of a genius - or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: A melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol, an outcast who assists Dr Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas with plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: The fruits of the Doctor's labour, destined to blindly obey their creator while they remain in the shadows, are a motley group of part-human, part-animal monstrosities.

All of them are living in a perfectly balanced and static world which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau's patron - who will, unwittingly, begin a dangerous chain-reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle passions may ignite.

Every time Silvia Moreno-Garcia has a new release, I get excited. She tackles a variety of genres in her own unique way, and I've absolutely loved every single book I've read.

Carlota lives in Yaxaktun with her father, a mayordomo, cook, and the hybrids. Her father happens to be Doctor Moreau, a scientist secretly pursuing the impossible blend of animal and human, as a way of finding cures and enhancements to serve the ill. His work is what keeps Carlota and his creations alive, but there comes a time when everything changes and all his darkest secrets are revealed...

Wow! I LOVED everything about this fantastic story. As soon as I started, I couldn't stop. I was instantly swept away by the lush location, the intriguing premise, and the characters.

Told in the alternating POVs of Carlota and Montgomery, we get to experience what each of them is personally going through. As well as their interactions with the world around them. Carlota is smart and curious, the obedient daughter of a scientist who is always ready to learn more. Montgomery is a lost soul in search of solace, a place where he can perform his job while drowning his many sorrows in cheap alcohol.

They're both haunted by different things, but still find love in their hearts for the many creations the mad professor treats so callously. And they narrate the intensity of the situation, that takes place in Yaxaktun, perfectly.

As is usually the case for me, my sympathy and empathy swayed towards the hybrids. The innocent, living creatures who are suffering because of man's greed, lies, and the endless search for knowledge that usually leaves too much collateral damage behind. I especially loved Lupe's stubborn nature, and Cachito's unwavering loyalty. 

There's a lot to love about this book, and the storytelling style is so immersive it's sometimes hard to come up for air.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is an exciting historical tale set during a turbulent time in Mexico, that drags the reader into a dark and mysterious tale full of thought-provoking pseudoscience. But that's not the only thing that sets it apart, or what makes it so addictive. No, that's because the characters are so real. Whether good, bad or morally grey, they all stand out in their own flawed way to tell a wondrous and violent tale.

I can't wait to see what this awesome author comes up with next.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, July 2022, ISBN 9781529418002, Jo Fletcher Books

Friday 14 October 2022



A Nightmare on Clown Street (Goosebumps Most Wanted, #7)A Nightmare on Clown Street by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm pretty sure this is the first Goosebumps Most Wanted I've read. With a cover like that, of course I had to check it out.

Ray's uncle, Theo, is a clown in Koko's Klown Academy, so Ray Gun loves the circus. When Theo invites him to join the circus for the summer, Ray's really excited. But as soon as he gets there, he starts hearing whispers about Clown Street...

Well, that was fun! The circus vibes were all over this book. As was the clown aesthetics and humour. 🤡

I liked Ray Gun. Although everyone tries to label him as fidgety and hyper, these attributes are what actually help him survive the terrifying Clown Street. And his loyalty to his uncle was great, too. I also enjoyed the few twists, turns, and the unhappy ending that always brings each instalment in this spooky series to a conclusion.

Glad I checked this one out!

View all my reviews



The Wizard Of Ooze (Goosebumps HorrorLand, #17)The Wizard Of Ooze by R.L. Stine
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I actually enjoyed a bunch of the earlier HorrorLand Goosebumps series, but these later ones are really NOT grabbing me.

Marco gets his hands on a rare edition of his favourite comic book, The Ooze, at the Chiller House gift shop, and when he takes it home things don't go well...

Blah, blah, blah. I really couldn't get into this book because I found the story quite dull, and the characters even duller. Oh well.

Thursday 13 October 2022



It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation in sweet, sunny Cape Cod - just me and my beloved brother - but discovering a corpse in our rental house really throws a wrench into our tanning schedule. Now a rude, crude bounty hunter has arrived on the back of his motorcycle to catch the killer and refuses to believe I can be helpful, despite countless hours of true crime podcast listening. Not to mention a fulfilling teaching career of wrangling second graders.

A brash bounty hunter and an energetic elementary schoolteacher: the murder-solving team no one asked for, but thanks to these pesky attempts on my life, we're stuck together, come hell or high tide.

I'm just here to do a job, not babysit an amateur sleuth. Although . . . it is becoming less and less of a hardship to have her around. Sure, she's stubborn, distracting and can't stay out of harm's way. She's also brave and beautiful and reminds me of the home I left behind three years ago. In other words, the insatiable hunger and protectiveness she is waking up in me is a threat to my peace of mind. Before I sink any deeper into this dangerous attraction, I need to solve this murder and get back on the road.

But will fate take her from me before I realize the road has been leading to her all along?

This book caught my eye because of the cute, colourful cover and title. I've been on a true crime kick lately, so reading about a character who listens to a podcast about this particular subject interested me.

Taylor is a teacher who takes her younger brother on a short vacation to Cape Cod. It's supposed to be a relaxing time, a chance for Jude to heal. But things go downhill almost instantly, when the siblings discover a dead body inside their rented property. Now Taylor wants to solve the mystery, but to do that she has to deal with Myles, a brash bounty hunter who sets her pulse racing...

What a great book!

I really enjoyed this sexy romance/mystery. The cast of characters is so endearing, that I loved spending time with them. Not to mention how the chemistry between the shared narrators—Taylor and Myles—sizzles off the page. 

Asides from their physical/emotional connection, I liked who they were separately. And how well their backstories tie into their connection, plus the mystery they're both investigating.

My Killer Vacation turned out to be quite the pleasant surprise. It's fun, intriguing and raunchy as hell. The heroine is quirky and likeable. The hero is brazen and assertive. They might be total opposites, but the sparks fly every time they're together.

I had a blast reading this, and love this couple. 😊

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

My Killer Vacation, July 2022, ISBN 9780349435282, Piatkus

Wednesday 12 October 2022

I signed up!

Hey! How are ya? 😃

Well, it's that time of the year again... So you know what that means.  I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2022. Yay!!

I've been taking part for years, and this time I picked my project earlier than usual. So early that the 2022 badges aren't even online yet. 😬

Here's the very brief description I posted on the website:

A witchy, magical tale of whimsy and darkness. 🍂☠️🕸️

Yeah, it's all very vague at the moment, but this is an idea that has been percolating in the back of my head for a while. It's yet another story featuring complicated, dysfunctional family relationships and the darkness that threatens to consume them.

Now's the time to think, dream and take notes. I'll be doing NaNoPrep until the beginning of next month... 😊

Are you taking part? 

If you are, and you want to be buddies, this is me: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/yolandas

Have a great day!

Tuesday 11 October 2022

AFTER: The Graphic Novel by Anna Todd


AFTER: The Graphic Novel (Volume One)AFTER: The Graphic Novel by Anna Todd
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I'm not interested in reading the series this graphic novel is based on, but thought this version might be fun to check out.

Well, I was wrong. It's not fun. It's barely tolerable. Worst of all, it's not even romantic. 😕

I enjoy enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract, good-girl-falls-for-the-bad-boy love stories as much as the next person, but not when it romanticizes abusive behaviour from an unstable jerk. And certainly not when it's about a 'good girl' who continually cheats on her boyfriend because she attends a few college parties with people who are so very different to her. 🙄

Anyway, the bad boy she falls for is Hardin. A guy who happens to be a total asshole and thinks his behaviour is justified by the fact he admits he is an asshole, carrying on like a petulant child because of his family situation, and throwing around needy compliments when it suits him. The mind games he plays with Tessa are appalling. And she's foolish for trusting him.

Anyway, I could say a LOT of unfavorable things about this book, like how bland the artwork is, but I won't bother.

Not a fan.



Long Live the Pumpkin Queen: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before ChristmasLong Live the Pumpkin Queen: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by Shea Ernshaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favourite movies, and I read the Disney novelisation last week, so I wanted to check this one out as well.

Sally and Jack are finally married, but with Halloween celebrations around the corner, she has to perform her queenly duties. Except, Sally wants to live her own life with Jack, not have to fulfill a bunch of expectations for Halloween Town. Her need to escape all the unwanted attention and scrutiny leads her into the dark woods with Zero, where they stumble on something hidden...

Wow. I LOVED this! Sally's story is wondrous and magical. A beautiful fairy tale all of her own. Where she gets to discover new worlds, gets to know herself, and saves the love of her life.

Sally has been one of my favourite characters for a long time. So, reading a story told in her POV, as she goes on a nightmarish adventure outside of Halloween Town, is something I thoroughly enjoyed.

One of the things I dislike about continuations (of my most fave movies) is when the characters feel different. Wrong in a way that alienates me instantly, but that didn't happen here because everyone in Halloween Town sounds very familiar. In the best way possible. And more importantly, Sally is still the same rag doll. She still wears her patchwork dress, she still jumps out of windows to escape so she has to constantly resew her limbs, she's still a free spirit, and most of all, she loves Jack. The worst thing, but a vital detail in keeping in character, is that she carries over Dr. Finkelstein's whiny voice constantly berrating her thoughts.

The introduction of the other holiday towns was very well done. In a way that adds and expands Tim Burton's world. The details are vivid and so atmospheric that I felt like I was actually there. And Dream Town, with all its comfy aesthetics and stories, was my fave.

Not to mention the revelation that made me happy, then sad, until I was ecstatic all over again. 😊😫😁

Also, the cover featuring Sally, the Pumpkin Queen is beautiful. 🖤🎃🖤

View all my reviews

Monday 10 October 2022


... was released one year ago.

Can you believe it? Yikes.


My story, set during Halloween, about a small town that loves the season and is hiding a secret family legacy, has been out in the wild for a year.

So, Happy Anniversary to my first published YA horror novel!

Yay. 🎃🎉

Although my little tale, about a group of four friends who get caught up in a creepy situation after waking an old evil in the woods, hasn't gotten much attention since it's release last October, I'm still incredibly proud of Quin's story.

I wrote this novel during NaNoWriMo several years ago, and revised it quite a few times before it was ready to start its Submission Adventure. When Otranto House contracted my strange book about girls and dolls, I was very excited. Not only is it a spooky tale, but it was my first attempt at telling a story via first-person narrative, journal entries, and letters.

This is a small post to celebrate that WALL OF DOLLS is still available. And I reckon that's a fantastic achievement. 😊

So, if you're interested in checking it out, here's the info:

For generations, the women of the Lucas family have lived in the small town of Whenall, Massachusetts, at Raven House. They make dolls that they call wardens to protect the townsfolk, a long tradition that some might think holds no power, but a tradition that Whenall enjoys all the same.

Quin is proud of her heritage, her cousin Beth, however, isn't interested in her position as the future family matriarch. The girls spend their time with their two closest friends, Henri and Al, with Beth always taking the lead, flirting with the boys and leading them into mischief.

One Halloween night, Al finds a Ouija board in the attic of Raven House, and Beth eagerly encourages them all to play with it, but Quin knows that these boards are not a game. Something was unleashed that Halloween night, and a year later, the girls will face the consequences. Can Quin stop them from being devoured by the evil force that spoke to them that night? The force that haunts the woods surrounding Whenall? With Henri by her side, she is sure as hell going to try...

Also, you can grab a copy from:

Thanks for reading and sharing my excitement!


Sunday 9 October 2022

THE NIGHT CYCLIST by Stephen Graham Jones


The Night CyclistThe Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's another Tor.com novelette I decided to read today.

A middle-aged chef, who recently broke up with his longterm girlfriend, goes on a nightly bicycle ride home from work. But one night, he encounters a stranger...

I read this in one sitting because the tense atmosphere sizzles off the screen and kept me intrigued all the way through. I found the way the main character describes his job, as well as his enthusiasm and experience in bikes/riding, really interesting too. Not to mention the Night Cyclist.

Yeah, this dark character really captured my imagination. Although I think the description and interaction was enough of an explanation and totally sucked me in, I still want to know more about him.

BTW, you can read the story for free too: https://www.tor.com/2016/09/21/the-ni... 🚵

View all my reviews

ROCKET'S RED by Mary Robinette Kowal


Rocket's Red (Lady Astronaut Universe, #4.4)Rocket's Red by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found another story set in the Lady Astronaut Universe!

Aaron and his mother are about to put together a fireworks display to celebrate the anniversary of Arrival Day on Mars, but when something goes wrong, he fears this might not work after all...

Well, this is such a charming shortie. I just love the way this author manages to sneak in how old age can creep up on strong people who have experienced the great heights of success when they were younger. The fact she manages to pull this off in a very interesting SF setting always adds to the experience.

Really enjoyed this!

You can read it yourself here: https://maryrobinettekowal.com/journa...

Saturday 8 October 2022

FOR WANT OF A NAIL by Mary Robinette Kowal


For Want of a NailFor Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I managed to squeeze this short story into my morning routine, and I'm glad I did.

Rava is a wrangler for the AI on her family's generational ship. Cordelia stores all memories and records, but dropping her causes some technical difficulties that lead to other things...

I really enjoyed this. The story might be short and seemingly focuses on the singular problem of trying to fix an AI after accidentally dropping her, but it soon leads to a whole lot of trouble. Actually, the further Rava and her annoying brother delve into the problem, the more they discover. Like an uncle who wasn't completely honest in following the laws, and an AI who finds herself in the same situation as the human she tried to help.

The parallels between Uncle Georgo's hidden condition and Cordelia's disconnect are perfectly portrayed. And the title of the story (from a proverb I had to look up) matches what happens perfectly.

Another great story from this author, which you can read for free on her website: https://maryrobinettekowal.com/journa...

Friday 7 October 2022

THE LADY ASTRONAUT OF MARS by Mary Robinette Kowal


The Lady Astronaut of MarsThe Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can't remember how I stumbled on this novelette, but I was very excited when I did because it sounded intringuing.

Elma York is an aging astronaut who actually led the expedition that made life on Mars possible. She never forgot about the stars and has longed to return for years, but no one wants an old astronaut for any mission. Now, when her husband, Nathaniel, is ill and time is running out, an unexpected offer comes her way...

Well, this story is amazing. Wow.

It's hard to describe how deeply Elma's narrative pulled me in. The writing style is lovely and immersive, so vivid I got swept away in the memories of her exciting past, and the surroundings.

I'm not going to lie, I'm a sucker for Mars and the way this setting is portrayed was definitely captivating. This might be set in the future, but everything about this story is drenched with vintage vibes. Also, there's a very humane sadness surrounding this successful, loving couple that was heartbreaking. 😥

I read this in one sitting because I didn't want to stop until I reached the end. Loved it!

And you can read it too: https://www.tor.com/2013/09/11/the-la...

I highly recommend it! 👩‍🚀🚀🌌

View all my reviews

THE LOST BOYS Volume 1 by Tim Seeley


The Lost Boys (2016-2017) Vol. 1The Lost Boys (2016-2017) Vol. 1 by Tim Seeley
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I'm going to start by saying that The Lost Boys is one of my most favourite movies ever, which might explain my reaction to this comic book.

Where do I start? Well, I'll begin with what caught my eye. That the sax player was a vampire hunter. That sounded like a great premise to me. But then, in the first issue, Grandpa gets killed. Okay, I didn't like that (at all) but it still seemed promising.

I put it aside for a while and read the rest this morning. 🙄

The deeper I got into this volume, the less I liked it. The original Emerson family vibes were as wrong as the MIA Frog brothers appeal and humour. None of these characters seemed like the same people. And don't even get me started on the Star thing! Or the new vampire conspiracy that's introduced. What about the Believer's heavy-handed religious crap?! Also, WTF was David doing anywhere near this? If that wasn't bad enough, we then end up in a retirement home situation that was seriously meh.

No, that's not the word. RIDICULOUS is the word. This story arc is ridiculous and so very disappointing. I didn't like it.

This is on me. I was curious, but should've known better. The Lost Boys is perfection that can never be replicated and it definitely doesn't need sequels, prequels, retellings or side stories.

Thursday 6 October 2022



The Hellbound HeartThe Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read this novella when I was a teenager, but with the new movie coming out in a few days, I wanted to revisit this tale of greed and gore.

Julia is married to Rory, but is still hung up on the one encounter she had with his brother years ago. Kirsty is Rory's friend, but is secretly in love with him. And Frank, he's a depraved human being who opens a portal to hell...

This might be my second time, with decades in between, but I once again enjoyed the hell (pardon the pun) out of this story.

I love Clive Barker's writing style. It's unique, doesn't hide behind niceties, and always treads the thin line between pleasure and pain. And The Hellbound Heart is the perfect example of how well he tells such sexually-charged tales.

At the core of this story are the very flawed humans who live such unhappy lives and refuse to do anything about it. Rory only loves his wife because he's obsessed with her beauty. Kirsty stays friends with Rory only because she's in love with him. Julia is so bored she can't stop fantasising about a single sexual encounter with a jerk. And Frank, well, his only ambition in life is pleasure. His own, of course.

And this is before the murders start. 😳

They're not very nice or honest people, so it's not surprising that the Cenobites enter their lives. And speaking of the Cenobites, it's funny how they're really not the focus of this tale at all. In fact, they only make very brief appearances. Yet, pop culture has lifted them to such heights.

We love monsters, don't we? Mostly because it's safer to focus on them than the fact that humans are the real monsters.

View all my reviews

DEMON IN THE WOOD: A Shadow and Bone Graphic Novel by Leigh Bardugo & Dani Pendergast


The Darkling's origin story comes alive in this exquisitely illustrated prequel to Shadow and Bone.

Before he led Ravka's Second Army, before he created the Fold, and long before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy burdened by an extraordinary power. Eryk and his mother, Lena, have spent their lives on the run. But they will never find a safe haven. They are not only Grisha - they are the deadliest and rarest of their kind. Feared by those who wish to destroy them and hunted by those who would exploit their gifts, they must hide their true abilities wherever they go. But sometimes deadly secrets have a way of revealing themselves . . . 

I really enjoyed the Grisha Trilogy, so of course I was interested in reading the Darkling's origin story.

Being Grisha means that Eryk and his mother Lena are constantly on the run. They need to hide from those who fear and want to kill them. But Eryk's power is different even amongst the Grisha, so they have to be extra careful...

This story might be short, but packs quite a punch. It's so strange to see the Darkling as such a timid young man who listens to everything his mother tells him, even though he dreams of living in one place where his kind can be safe. It was also bizarre to watch others trying to take advantage of him.

I mean, I know what he's capable of and everything he does afterwards. So yeah, it was nice to see he wasn't always an arrogant tyrant.

This is a graphic novel, and I need to mention how beautiful it is. Every illustration adds so much to the words, enhancing Eryk's tale while giving a visual peek into this dark and dangerous world. Not to mention, his power.

Demon in the Wood is another brilliant addition to the Grishaverse. It not only provides insight into a young man who simply wants a home, but is also chilling when you remember what comes next.

It's a keeper!

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

Demon in the Wood: A Shadow and Bone Graphic Novel, September 2022, ISBN 9781510111141, Orion Children's Books



Disney Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before ChristmasDisney Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas by Sally Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's a movie we watch annually. Sometimes during Halloween, sometimes during Christmas, and other times, during both seasons. 🎃🎄

I adore everything about it. The way the dark and gritty look of Halloween Town and it's strange residents contrasts the brightness and cheer of Christmas Town. The variety and unique look of each character. The story that links them all together. It's always fascinating to watch Jack Skellington's wonder and interest in a place so different from his.

Not only did I enjoy the story all over again (I always do), but the artwork is lovely. There's concept art and story sketches featuring a bunch of talented artists, and even some of the puppets used in the movie.

I love Jack and Sally so much. Jack for his sense of adventure, and Sally because she's so kindhearted.

This is definitely a terrific addition to my collection. 🖤

Wednesday 5 October 2022

HIDDEN PICTURES by Jason Rekulak


Mallory is delighted to have a new job looking after gorgeous four-year-old, Teddy. She's been sober for a year and a half and she's sure her new nannying role in the affluent suburbs will help keep her on the straight and narrow.

That is until Teddy starts to draw disturbing pictures of his imaginary friend, Anya. It is quite clear to Mallory and to Teddy's parents, even in his crude childlike style, that the woman Teddy is drawing in his pictures is dead.

Teddy's crayons are confiscated, and his paper locked away. But the drawings somehow keep coming, telling a frightening story of a woman murdered... and they're getting more sophisticated. But if Teddy isn't drawing the pictures anymore, who is? And what are they trying to tell Mallory about her new home?

It's October, so I'm in the mood for creepy, dark stories, and this one caught my eye.

Mallory is a recovering addict with a great sponsor who recommends her for a summer babysitting gig. When she gets the job, she's excited about moving to the suburbs because she likes the little boy, Teddy. She's staying in a small cottage in the Maxwell's backyard and gets a chance to go for a run every day. However, when she finds out about a crime that happened in the cottage decades ago and Teddy starts drawing disturbing pictures, she realises something weird is going on...

This is such an excellent book. I was hooked!

As soon as I started following Mallory's problematic life, I found it hard to put the book down because I wanted to find out exactly what was going on at the Maxwell house. As well as what happened in her past, because she was hiding quite a bit.

Mallory's voice, the writing style, and those awesome illustrations, captured my attention all the way through. She's a flawed characters with plenty of secrets and finds it too easy to slip into lies. Yet, she's also a great character because even though it's sometimes easy to doubt her and get frustrated by her decisions, she's still very likeable and I wanted everything to turn out okay for her.

Adrian and Teddy are just as likeable. While Anya is creepy as hell.

Hidden Pictures is an intriguing thriller with horror elements and a very interesting supernatural slant. It's also got several shocking twists and turns that kept me glued to the page.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

Hidden Pictures, June 2022, ISBN 9780751583717, Sphere

Tuesday 4 October 2022

A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S. T. Gibson

 This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. . .

A deliciously dark retelling of Dracula, A Dowry of Blood is a sensual story of obsession, desire and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love. 

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things.

Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband's dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

This is actually my second time reading this lovely book, and I enjoyed it just as much. 😍

Left for dead on the battlefield, Constanta captures the attention of a mysterious man who saves her life by turning her into something else. And so begins her life as one of the three brides of the cunning Dracula. A vampire tyrant who hides cruelty behind love, and strips freedom away from everyone who crosses his path...

I love how lyrical and beautiful this story is. An addictive tale that kept me glued to every page.

Told from the POV of Constanta, as she confesses, via a series of intimate letters, to the vampire who gave her a second chance at life and shaped her world, I was captivated by the vivid imagery and strong emotional impact of her words.

This story captured my imagination and swept me off my feet. Everything that unravels within the pages of this wonderful book is seductive, dark, filled with lavish excess, and features many historical settings. It also features unquenchable lust and a shared love capable of hurting those involved as much as it pleasures.

Every character in this family is fascinating in their own way. Magdalena is sweet and vibrant, an independent woman whose fire slowly dims. Alexi is a shining beautiful young man with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, who finds himself stifled. And Constanta is a gentle soul full of love and belief, even after her transformation. I was drawn to these amazing characters, and felt plenty of sympathy because of everything they go through.

The narrative doesn't shy away from bloody violence, abuse, and dares to tread into some very dark places. It's also sexy, passionate, romantic and so lovely.

This edition has an epilogue called An Encore of Roses, which reunites Constanta, Magdalena and Alexi. The story is told in the needy POV of Alexi. It was nice to catch up with the trio.

A Dowry of Blood is everything a vampire story should be.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

A Dowry of Blood, October 2022, ISBN 9780356519296, Orbit
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