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Monday, 27 March 2023

THE BLACK CABIN by Wayne Fenlon

 

The Black CabinThe Black Cabin by Wayne Fenlon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I started reading this amazing book this afternoon and finished it this evening. Why? Because I couldn't stop reading. This is the kind of story that hooks the reader in right away. The more you read, the more you have to keep going. I only put the book down a few times, and I couldn't wait to get back to it.

This thriller/horror hybrid is told in the alternating POVs of Eric, a delusional man haunted by his tragic past. Evelyn, an overprotective mother obsessed with righting wrongs, at the expense of her daughter. Maddy, the daughter who is a loner and much smarter than anyone gives her credit for. Aiden, a kind and helpful man whose selfless nature gets him involved in harsh situations. And Jonny, a selfish and violent man who helps put everything in motion.

Every single one of these characters is strong and real in their own way. While most of these adults aren't entirely bad people, this story does a fantastic job at highlighting how the line between good and bad blurs as easily as the line between good intentions and downright destructive behaviour.

I also enjoyed how unpredictable it was. And how the pace keeps everything moving so well I was frantically turning the pages, excited to see what would happen next. Also, Wayne's writing style is unique, smooth and addictive.

I LOVE this book and have no doubt that many of the events that take place, as well as the characters, will flow back into my mind for a long time to come.

Friday, 24 March 2023

March Revision Update!


Hey! How are you? Is everyone ready for the weekend? I know I am.

I spent all this week working on the final read-thru of Tuesday.

This is the novel I wrote during NanoWriMo 2022. It's a dark tale about a complicated family who live in a small Australian town that has as many secrets as the residents. It's told in two POVs, one set in the past the other set nowish. I originally planned to revise it last month but a lot of life changes happened and I pushed it back to March. 

Here's how I did this week:
  • Monday: 62/234pgs (85,816w)
  • Tuesday: 121/237pgs (85,795w)
  • Wednesday: 198/234pgs (85,354w)
  • Thursday: 235/235pgs (85,025w)
  • Friday: 235pgs / 85,050w

That means this novel is DONE! ☺️πŸŽ‰

Yeah, this was actually the final read-thru. When I put the story on my Paperwhite and read it away from my laptop. It's amazing how many things I find with a simple change of screen.

Mostly, I ended up cutting quite a bit of excess. Things that over-explained or confused the narrative. I also added fragments throughout that helped move everything along, or strengthened relationships. In some cases, ruined them even further. 😬

Spending three weeks fine-tuning this tale of woe and mystery was a lot of work, but it's always rewarding when I get to the other side. I also formatted the Doc and backed everything up.

Tuesday (without considering trunk stories) happens to be the last revision I have left to tackle. That means I get to play around with new ideas and dream about other stories and characters. And I find that very exciting.

AND READ! I've neglected my reading so much I'm like FIVE books behind on my Goodreads Challenge. 😫

But first, I need a break. So, bring on the weekend.

Have a good one! ☺️

 

Thursday, 16 March 2023

The Revision Continues...

 

Hey! How are you today? 😊

Well, this week I got stuck into the third draft of the novel I'm currently revising and not only did I reach the end tonight, but I also had enough time to take care of the changes/additions list. Yes, there's always a list leftover. It wasn't a long one this time, but I took care of everything.

That means I get tomorrow off. Yay.

Anyway, this is how this week's numbers looked: 
  • Monday: 85/237pgs (87,948w)
  • Tuesday: 146/237pgs (87,573w)
  • Wednesday: 218/237pgs (87,050w)
  • Thursday: 236pgs / 86,158w 

Very excited that the third draft is done! Yay. 😁

As you can see above, I ended up cutting quite a few words. All excess that didn't need to be there, or could be condensed in some way. I also ended up chopping the last four pages of one chapter because it didn't add anything to the story. Actually, I think it confused things.

Sometimes, you just gotta make sure the character doesn't go off on a tangent that doesn't fit.

I'm happy with how it's turned out and added it to my Paperwhite so I can read it one last time. What I love about the last stage/proofread, is how reading the story away from the laptop makes other things stand out. One thing that always catches my attention on the Paperwhite is word repetition.

But that's something to tackle on Monday. I'm going to take three days away from the story. Looking forward to the weekend, but that's still a whole day away.

Have a great day!


Friday, 10 March 2023

It's Revision Time!

 

Hey! How are you today? Great, I hope.

The last few weeks have been a bit strange. Draining and sad. Asides from losing Loki and getting used to hubby's new working hours, we got our next Pfizer booster on Friday. So we were feeling pretty crappy last weekend. That Covid shot sure makes you feel like shit, but it's worth it. And the effects wore off by Monday. Phew.

Well, it's been a while but this week I got stuck into a bit of revision. That's right, after finishing my outstanding Revision Projects last year, I promised myself that I would stay on top of my drafts from now on. There's no point in piling them up for years. It's much better to stay on top of things.

So, this is me getting stuck into the first draft of last year's NaNoWriMo story. I still like to put distance between myself and the first draft, one or two months is good, but I don't want to put them aside like I used to. It gets out of hand too easily.

So, here's  my progress:

  • Monday: 83/235pgs (87,603w)
  • Tuesday: 154/235pgs (87,601w)
  • Wednesday: 235/235pgs (87,568w)
  • Thursday: 235pgs / 87,845w

The second draft is now done! Yay. ☺️

I'm very happy with how this story turned out. This draft involved cutting away excess, and adding necessary details I missed during that first-draft writing frenzy. It wasn't too messy, so I'm looking forward to tackling the next two drafts.

The plan is to have this novel finalised by the end of March. I really like these characters and the story gets quite dark and goes places I didn't think it would. The relationships in this story are as messed up as the horror side of things. I also feel like there's definitely a true-crime influence in this one, which solidifies the narrative.

It feels good to have started the process. I'll put it aside until Monday, but I'm sure I'll be adding notes to tackle during the third draft. LOL.

I enjoyed the revision, but I missed my writing buddy. Loki used to sit next to my desk whenever I was working, and I really felt his absence. πŸ˜”

Have a nice weekend!


Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Saying Goodbye to Loki



LOKI
2007 - 2023

I've been meaning to write this post for almost a week now, but couldn't bring myself to do it because it was too sad and very painful.

Last Monday we lost our beloved cat, Loki. πŸ˜₯πŸ’”

Calling Loki a cat doesn't seem right. He was my writing buddy, our companion, a little comedian, our familiar, and a sassy boy with a huge attitude. He was the king of the castle. He knew what he wanted and because he was so cute, adorable and loud, he always got his way.

He turned 16 last month, but shortly after that he started changing. Loki was always an active kitty who loved to run around and jumped onto most surfaces. Even after he became a senior cat, he had a lot of energy. But he lost that spark recently, and when he started withdrawing, we got worried because he loved following us around. Especially me.

After he stopped eating, that was when we knew there was a serious problem. Eating was his favourite thing to do, so ignoring his food was not normal.

This was all very strange because he had blood tests in late December that confirmed nothing was out of the ordinary. 

Either way, we made an appointment with his usual vet. Who cancelled an hour before we were meant to go because their main vet was on holidays and the one covering wasn't sure she was up for the challenge. 🀬

It was frustrating, and we scrambled to get him an appointment at another nearby vet hospital. Fast forward to last Monday, and we got the bad news. There were too many problems. Age had finally caught up with him and there was nothing left to do but to put him out of his pain.

It was hard to let him go because even though we suspected things were dire, when the reality hit it was unbearable. But there was no other way. He was wasting away before our eyes. We were not going to let him suffer for the sake of keeping him around.

I'm glad I held him until the very end. Saying Goodbye to our sweet boy was horrible and there were many tears. There still are. Not having him in the apartment has created a strange void. We miss the everyday routines we had with him, and it's strange—and feels so wrong—to not have him around.

Even writing feels weird without him. He always sat nearby while I was on my laptop and reminded me when it was time for a break. I'm a little lost without his presence.

The apartment sure is empty without him. But we have to get used to this. I hate it and wish he was still here, but the wooden box of ashes is all that remains of our precious kitty. 

I'm glad we've got so many happy memories of him. As well as hundreds of photos taken during his long and happy life. We loved our little guy.

I miss you every single day, Loki. And will never forget you. xxx


Monday, 6 March 2023

Cover Reveal!

 

In case you missed it, the awesome cover for my upcoming DarkLit Press horror novella was revealed at Uncomfortably Dark over the weekend.


CHECK IT OUT!


Isn't this work of art wickedly dark? 

This beautiful cover was made by Truborn Design and Kristina totally nailed the eerie atmosphere of my story.


Here's the synopsis:

Kae Roscoe's daughter went missing in the woods sixteen months ago but when she returns, she's not the same person. She hardly speaks, doesn't eat, responds with extreme violence, and things get worse when she's released from the hospital. There's definitely something very different about Molly, and her reappearance is making strange things happen to everyone around her.


Did you read the amazing blurbs listed at Uncomfortably Dark from a bunch of awesome authors? I was very lucky to get such wonderful blurbs from authors I admire.




I'm SO excited and can't wait until this book is out in the wild!

Friday, 3 March 2023

THE GROWTH by Adam Hulse

 

The GrowthThe Growth by Adam Hulse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, that was a fast-paced blast of a story! It's packed full of action. I couldn't put it down until I reached The End. 😳

While clearing out a fatberg from the sewers, the cleaning team discover something monstrous lurking beneath the city. Dubbed The Growth by the media, it doesn't take long for this blob to take over the entire country. And for humanity to collapse...

Yikes! Like I said above, I enjoyed the hell out of this story. I enjoyed the introduction of different characters that eventually lead into the very serious problem plaguing the UK, before settling into the POV of three outstanding characters.

Emma is a fighter searching for the woman she loves. Tax is a tough man who finds himself alone and without purpose. Kevin is convinced he's a coward, but is determined to try and make a scientific difference against this monster. I liked these three so much!

One thing that never fails to be true is that during an apocalyptic event, the monster/s isn't going to be the only threat. And I liked how well this is portrayed in this novella. The violent, perverted, and religious freaks are littered throughout the landscape and pose a terrifying threat.

I think this is an excellent apocalyptic story that introduces the reader to an alternate, and totally awful, version of our world. Yet, the most horrifying thing is how easy it would be for us to find ourselves in a similar situation. I mean, we're constantly polluting our waterways and sewers.

Also, the ending left me wondering about several things... Can't wait to read the second one! πŸ’€

ALONE WITH MYSELF by Kev Harrison

 

Alone With MyselfAlone With Myself by Kev Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story captivated me from the first line. And I couldn't put it down until I reached the end.

Graham is a lighthouse keeper who's just lost his wife and scattered her ashes into the sea. When a storm hits the next night, he rescues the sole survivor and finds himself in a very strange situation...

I loved the atmosphere throughout the entirety of this short story. And the location is so vivid I felt like I was there, at the lighthouse. It's not long, but the emotional impact is huge. Witnessing what Graham goes through after the loss of his beloved wife, as his memories slip away, is both sad and beautiful. This is a mournful, heartbreaking tale that leaves a lasting imprint of grief behind so strong you can taste the ocean air.

Fantastic!

Thursday, 2 March 2023

DEAD EYES by E.V. Knight

 

Dead EyesDead Eyes by Ev Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another E.V. Knight story that didn't disappoint!

Lisa Thompson is obsessed with the murders that happened twenty years ago in the house across the street. Actually, she's writing an article that she hopes helps secure a college scholarship. When a new girl and her mother move in, Lisa knows this is her chance to investigate. But things aren't always as they seem, and there are eyes everywhere...

Wow. This novella packs quite a punch, and totally hooked me in from beginning to end. Seriously, I read it in one sitting.

The 80s are captured so perfectly, this story could've been written in the 80s!

The slasher vibes are awesome. The family mystery intriguing. The characters are all fleshed out and feel/sound real. The teenage situations are perfect echoes of countless 80s movies. And the shocking ending really ties everything together, in the creepiest way possible.

Yeah, I enjoyed the hell out of this novella!

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

THIS IS WHERE WE TALK THINGS OUT by Caitlin Marceau

 

This is Where We Talk Things OutThis is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to check this out for a while now, so I picked it up last night and read it in one sitting.

Since Miller's father died, she's kept her distance from her controlling mother. She has a nice life and is about to marry her girlfriend. But when her mother, Sylvie, starts stalking her online, she agrees to go away for a weekend to mend their relationship. And unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished...

Wow. This story is heavy. Not only in the deep psychological stakes that keep mounting with every chapter, but also because the sheer horror of the situation Miller finds herself in is one that some of us have unfortunately experienced to some extent. 😳

There's a lot about this very-well written novella that gets under your skin. Sylvie is a master class in gaslighting and made my blood boil. What she puts her daughter through is infuriating. Grrrr. As for Miller, I felt so bad for her. All she wanted to do was give her mother one last chance, and instead ends up starring in her own horror show!

I really enjoyed this creepy little tale of familial horrors, and the ending is fucking chilling. SO DAMN CREEPY.

Anyway, you should definitely check out this screwed-up tale full of guilt trips and emotional manipulation.

Friday, 24 February 2023

THE GOONIES by James Kahn

 

GooniesGoonies by James Kahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Goonies is one of my favourite movies. A movie I've watched countless of times and has chased me from childhood all the way into adulthood. We even watched it with our daughter when she was a kid. Actually, we watched it again last Christmas. 😁

I didn't know there was a novelisation of the movie until a few years ago, but couldn't find the paperback anywhere. Well, a few weeks ago I decided to check the Kindle store and there it was! Instant buy, of course. Especially since I read and enjoyed the hell out of The Gremlins novel.

80s novelisations are WILD!

Okay, back to this book. LOL.

Most of the story is the same as the movie, but there are some variations that stand out. A scene early on in a convenience store where Troy the Jerk, Andy and Stef are first introduced. Brand's claustrophobia. Mikey's secret crush on Andy, and his sense of wonder in everything he sees/does. Plus, leeches, creepy mist, a giant squid, and a bunch of other variations. That I liked, btw.

Also, the whole book is narrated in Mikey's first-person POV, so we get to know him very well. He's also the one who fills in the blanks after other characters tell him what happened. Chunk's story, for example.

I'm actually really glad I read this because it was a LOT of fun. It was a great novelisation of the movie. There were a few typos throughout, which I suspect happened when they formatted from paperback to Kindle. And a strangely-placed series of pages in the middle with pictures that didn't translate well on my Paperwhite. Probably for the same reason.

But these are pesky things that don't get in the way. This is a great novel! And I REALLY enjoyed the laidback narrative style. It fit Mikey, the story, and the adventure. Not to mention the unexpected cheekiness that is so 80s! πŸ˜…

Goonies never say die.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

LOVE, PAMELA by Pamela Anderson

 

Love, Pamela: Her new memoir, taking control of her own narrative for the first timeLove, Pamela: Her new memoir, taking control of her own narrative for the first time by Pamela Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I'm not sure why I was interested in reading this memoir. I mean, I am from a generation that remembers the huge phenomenon that was Baywatch, and because of that, I was aware of Pamela Anderson. It was hard not to know who she was because for a while there, she was everywhere.

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Pamela Anderson and Kelly Slater. Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock. It seemed like she was known for the men in her life as much as she was for her work. Which might be why I'm not what you'd consider an actual fan.

Then, she faded away but resurfaced after that movie was released. The fact she wanted to tell her story, her way, is what drew me to this book. And I think it started out pretty strong. I enjoyed the way she blended poetry into the narrative, the introduction to her family's origins, and her honesty. But unfortunately, as the book moved along, I started to lose interest.

I think my problem is that sometimes, especially during the last half of the book, she seemed to speed through and skim past a lot. Everything moved too fast, and in the end, lacked emotional engagement. I just couldn't connect entirely.

The best thing about this memoir is that Pamela never hides behind her decisions and choices. Especially since she made so many questionable choices along the way. I mean, Tommy Lee? 😧

Anyway, maybe I wasn't the right audience. I don't know.

Friday, 17 February 2023

SAGA #61 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

 

Saga #61Saga #61 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been waiting for the return of Saga, and this issue didn't disappoint. OMFG! There was a bit of everything, and I can't wait to see where this particular storyline goes. Especially after that ENDING!! 😳

Thursday, 16 February 2023

WASPS IN THE ICE CREAM by Tim McGregor

Summer 1987: Mark Prewitt’s only priority is to avoid his dad’s new wife and waste time with his friends, but idle nights are the devil’s playground. When his friends decide to pull a cruel prank on the reclusive and strange Farrow sisters, Mark regrets caving in to peer pressure.

Wanting to make amends, Mark is drawn into the mysterious world of the Farrow girls, finding a kindred spirit in the middle sister, George. She is unlike anyone he’s ever known; a practicing witch who uses folk magic to protect her family. They bond over books, loneliness, and homemade spells. She even invites Mark to join a sΓ©ance to contact her dead sister, who died under mysterious circumstances.

Keeping their relationship secret, Mark learns that living a double life in a town this small is impossible. When the secret is exposed, and his friends plot to punish the witch sisters for stealing one of their own, Mark is forced to choose between these two worlds.



I've had my eye on this book for a while, so I want to thank Erin Al-Mehairi and Raw Dog Screaming Press for sending me a copy.

It's the summer of 1987. Mark Prewitt is trying to enjoy the long, hot and very boring days with his two buddies while working two jobs. But when one of the weird and mysterious Farrow sisters catches his eye, he finds himself falling into their strange and violent world. Something no one is happy about...

Well, this turned out to be an awesome and intriguing book! Not just because it captures the nostalgia of the 1980s so well, but because the tale of newfound love and deteriorating friendships is universal.

The story is told by Mark. A teenager who lost his mother and is now trying to get used to the fact his father remarried. A much younger woman. He's also caught in the middle of a dangerous friendship he should have left years ago, and another that's too flimsy to matter. But there's also the personal need to become the same person he is inside and out. He sure has an inner battle with himself, and usually ends up saying the wrong thing. Or the opposite of what he wants to say. And that always leads him to trouble.

Sometimes, it's hard to like him but his narrative is always interesting. And addictive. He has a knack for taking the reader on a rocky, but interesting ride through a town with too many prejudices.

There's a LOT to like about this book. The characters all felt real in their own different ways. Starting with his hot-head of a father, his very patient stepmother, and everyone else in between. The kindness and cruelty metre sure takes a beating with these characters. But I especially liked how Mark's interest in George Farrow develops. The way his curiosity starts slowly but quickly escalates into romantic territory, leading to an explosive conclusion and a twist I didn't see coming.

Wasps in the Ice Cream is a fantastic story that hooked me in from start to finish, and truly felt like it belonged in the 80s. All the sharp edges of that turbulent time are portrayed in a raw and gritty way that kept me glued to every page. There's an uncomfortable truth about the people who live in this town, one that kept the tension simmering beneath until everything boils over.

Also, that ending was perfect.

I loved this, and highly recommend it!




Friday, 3 February 2023

I have some awesome news!


Hey! How are you today? I hope you're all having a great day.

If you were anywhere near Twitter yesterday, you might have already heard the awesome news:

DarkLit Press announced that my horror novella, SUFFER THE DARKNESS, will be released/published later this year. Yay! ☺️πŸŽ‰

This is also my first time on Publishers Marketplace.

I'm super excited about this acceptance because DarkLit Press is such an excellent publisher with a fantastic catalogue of horror books. To be a part of this team is very exciting. I can't wait to share more details.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, 19 January 2023

ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD by Hayley Campbell

 

All the Living and the DeadAll the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book listed on Kindle Daily Deals and was instantly intrigued. I mean, I write horror stories, watch true crime documentaries and read a lot of thrillers, so of course I'm curious about the business of death and the people who do these jobs.

Actually, I wrote a novel featuring a funeral home (that needs revising) last year, so... yeah. I had to read this.

Before I say anything else, let me just mention how heavy this book is. Not only because it's packed with useful facts and figures, but emotionally. It's so emotionally taxing, I took my time reading it. But it was well worth my time.

Hayley Campbell isn't shy about her interest in death. She's fascinated by it, mostly because she wants the answers no one can provide. No matter what religion tells you, we have no idea what comes after and this is a question that haunts humans most of their lives. But more than that, she's on a quest to find out about the people who perform all the essential background duties. All the very important medical, clinical, physical tasks most don't want to think about. Who are these people who deal with death on a daily basis? How do they deal with it? Why did they sign up for these jobs? Are they kind and caring? Morbid and creepy?

Well, this book certainly puts a spotlight on a lot of very interesting and intriguing people. Hayley conducts detailed interviews and all of the professionals she speaks to explain a lot about what they do and why they do it.

These are the people she interviews or the places she goes: a funeral director, the Mayo Clinic, an artist who makes death masks, international emergency services, crime scene cleaner, executioner, embalmers, anatomical pathology technologist (APT), bereavement midwife, grave diggers, crematorium, cryonics, and a police officer.

She even mentioned Rotten.com. OMG. My husband and I (before we were even married) saw quite a few distressing images on this site. 😳

I also liked the way she rounded everything out with the pandemic.

This is a great book, but isn't for everyone because there are plenty of in-depth descriptions, disturbing topics, and imagery that sticks.

Sunday, 15 January 2023

BAD DOLLS by Rachel Harrison

 

Bad DollsBad Dolls by Rachel Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to checking out this short story collection and read it over the weekend.

So, here are my thoughts...

REPLY HAZY, TRY AGAIN:

Jordan is friends with Maggie and she lives with Kenny. When a Magic 8 Ball enters her life, everything changes...

I found myself captivated by this tale about one woman's quest to have someone else—or in this case, something else—make the hard decisions for her. Deep down inside, she knows what she wants but has lived most of her life going with the flow. Until she met Maggie.

This was quirky and fun, a bit on the magical side.

BACHELORETTE:

When Natalie agrees to reluctantly attend her childhood friend's bachelorette party, she doesn't realise how much sacrifice the weekend event requires...

I really enjoyed this wicked little tale about a group of women who plan to spend a weekend together to celebrate their friend's upcoming wedding. Natalie's discomfort and paranoia really give this story a sense of impending doom that manifests as a weird ritual. Loved the ending, too.

GOBLIN:

Meg and Dani decide to download an app called Goblin so they can lose weight before a wedding they plan to attend...

Yikes! This was quite horrific and sad. Deals with some heavy and serious issues—eating disorders and body dysmorphia. But the personification of the app's ability to keep you on your weight-loss journey was really interesting. And that ending! πŸ‘€

BAD DOLLS:

When Mackenzie's younger sister dies, she moves back to the town she tried so hard to escape. And finds herself being haunted by a porcelain doll...

It's no secret that I love creepy doll stories, and this was eerie. It hit all the right notes. Mackenzie was paranoid enough and grieving enough to make the doll incident seem like something she was imagining due to the trauma and the alcohol. Or her disappointing life. Maybe even the collective darkness her family is suffering at their loss.

Either way, it was fantastic!


This is a very well-written collection, full of interesting and damaged characters suffering through their own separate issues as they struggle to deal with real life situations edging on the supernatural.

Friday, 13 January 2023

THE COLOUR OF EVIL: Sarah Jane Huntington

 

The Colour of EvilThe Colour of Evil by Sarah Jane Huntington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, this was yet another fantastic book by this very awesome author.

After living with an abusive parent for years, Isabelle suffered a brain injury that makes her forgetful and scatters her thoughts. She can also see auras. All she wants to do is read, spend time with her cat, and enjoy a nice cup of tea. But when several murders happen in the village, it doesn't take long for people to suspect her...

Wow! I enjoyed this story SO MUCH! It's well-written, wonderful, and sad.

Isabelle is a lovely, misunderstood character with good intentions and no way of expressing them. She can't talk, so people usually shun and dismiss her. Something happened in Isabelle's past that tainted her in the eyes of the community, and she can't trust her own memory because it fades in and out. She only wants to live a peaceful life, and wants to connect with others, even though all they throw her way is cruelty and accusations.

I hated the way people treated Isabelle because their actions and words were all too real. We really do live in a society that judges and mistreats anyone who doesn't fit the cookie-cutter illusion of normal. And that truly sucks.

People can be really horrible, and Sarah Jane Huntington has a knack for writing about people labelled as different in a way that breaks your heart. 😭

I also thought the murder-mystery was terrific, and wrapped up in a very satisfying way.

This is a really fantastic novella and I absolutely LOVED it!

Oh, and one last thing. Love how easily so many well-known fictional detectives were included in the narrative.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

THE TOLL HOUSE by Carly Reagon

 

A house with history. That's how the estate agent described the old toll house on the edge of the town. For Kelda it's the perfect rural home for her young son Dylan after a difficult few years.

But when Kelda finds a death mask concealed behind one of the walls, everything changes. Inexplicable things happen in the house, Kelda cannot shake the feeling of being watched and Dylan is plagued by nightmares, convinced he can see figures in his room. As Dylan's behaviour becomes increasingly challenging, Kelda seeks answers in the house's mysterious past. But she's running out of time. 

Because something has awoken.

And now it won't rest . . .


I love ghost stories and the synopsis for this one sounded very interesting.

Kelda and her son, Dylan, have moved into a new house. It's also a new town, a new job, and a new school. The pressure of all these changes makes things hard for both of them, but what's even worse is when strange things start to happen in the toll house...

Well, this turned out to be quite the haunting tale. In the real sense of the word because the dead definitely leave an impression, but also because of the complicated lives of the living.

Getting caught up in this tale was easy and happened quickly. I lost myself in Kelda's intense life instantly. She's a single working mother who bought an old house that needs a lot of repairs/updating. It also comes with a history she knows nothing about. Her boss is demanding. Her son befriends the local troublemaker. Her friend Nick comes with a few extra emotional attachments. The new guy she starts dating is a little awkward and is definitely hiding something. And that's before her estranged sister is introduced. 

Yikes! Kelda's life is messy and actually takes a few unexpected twists, turns and plenty of revelations.

Yeah, there's a lot of life stuff for her to work through and I gladly followed along as she struggled to balance everything out. But when the house starts acting strange and bizarre things start to happen, that's when the creeping dread crawled onto the page and kept me guessing.

The story is mainly in Kelda's POV, but there's also the POV of Joseph. He's the toll house keeper and lives there with his wife, in the 1860s. But his life is plagued with tragedy, and as the two timelines come together, the story falls into place when several shocking events from the past are unearthed.

The Toll House is as much a ghost story about the strength of the human spirit, as it is about the very real and familiar story of unconventional relationships. Kelda's perseverance in spite of her many struggles really grabbed me, and kept me glued to the story all the way to the very disturbing end.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this awesome book.


The Toll House, February 2023, ISBN 9781408726440, Sphere

Saturday, 7 January 2023

The First Week


I don't know if it's because I'm tapping into some sort of New Year Energy, but I wanted to post a little something to mark the end of the first week of 2023. 😊

(I'm really hoping this is the year when the world moves away from the ridiculous.🀞)

Anyway, Monday was a public holiday so we enjoyed the last day of hubby's break. On Tuesday, he went back to work and I got stuck into several small writing projects.

Firstly, I completed the third draft of a short story I wrote late last year but got pushed aside because of NaNoWriMo and revision. Then, I tweaked the beginning of one of the novellas (formerly a novel) I revised last year. And even re-read an old 5k short story I wanted to tighten.

I ended that day with a bunch of file/photo/pics updates, and setup a new tracking words/pages spreadsheet.

The next day, I completed the final read of my (pushed-aside) shortie and finalised it. Ended up being just below 4k words. Initially, I was going to file it away in my Completed Folder, but found a submission call that totally fits this weird, little tale. So, fingers crossed.

That day, I also finished reading a book.

On Thursday, I spent most of the morning updating my submission calls list. I subbed several stories and queries, and got a rejection for one only hours later. Rs always suck, but as I mentioned on Twitter... I'm trying not to self-reject.

It's hard when the market is swamped and every submission call gets hundreds of subs to fill a small amount of places, but I want to at least try. Last year I did a lot of: Yeah, I'm gonna sub to this, this, and this, only to let time slip away before I could send anything because a voice deep inside kept telling me not to bother. Well, that voice is wrong. I want to send my stories to places. It might be a longshot, but I want to try.

Besides, now that I've cleared my Revision Plan, I want to see if I can get some of those stories out there. See if anyone's interested.

Asides from all of this writing stuff, I also FINALLY sorted out my Moleskine Planner. It was something I'd been meaning to do for several weeks. 😬

It's funny how much I managed to achieve during a week when every single morning, as soon as I woke up, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. Yeah, that's strange for me in the middle of summer, but I had a break hangover. Plus, this shitty rainy weather isn't helping. *yawn*

Well, I think that's enough from me.

Have a good one!


Friday, 6 January 2023

My New Planner


If you've ever read my blog at the beginning of the year, then you know that a New Year also means a New Planner.

Last year I went with this Peanuts design:

 And this year I picked this one... 

The Frida Kahlo Moleskine planner selection is bright and beautiful.

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

Today, I spent most of the morning filling this lovely planner with important dates, my goals, stickers, washi tape, and updates. I also closed off the 2022 Peanuts planner and filed it away.

I'm usually more organised than this, but there aren't enough hours in the day! Anyway, it's done now and ready for use. 😁

Do you have a planner? 


Thursday, 5 January 2023

JUICE LIKE WOUNDS by Sean McGuire

 

Juice Like Wounds (Wayward Children, #4.5)Juice Like Wounds by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished reading In an Absent Dream last night, so of course I had to read this today.

Juice Like Wounds is such an awesome title, and tells the story of what happened when Moon, Lundy and Mockery go up against the wasp queen. Knowing the sad outcome didn't ruin this tale, and didn't lessen the blow. But it did deepen the friendship and consequences between Moon and Lundy. Highlighted why their strong friendship was doomed from the beginning.

I really enjoyed this!

If you're interested, you can read it HERE.

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

IN AN ABSENT DREAM by Seanan McGuire

 

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children, #4)In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wanted to start the year by returning to a series that I really enjoy but have fallen behind on. I've read and loved the first three Wayward Children installments, so I was looking forward to reading this one.

Katherine Lundy is a young girl who would rather spend time lost in the pages of her favourite books than being around people. She thinks adventures in stories are safe and exciting, but when she walks through a doorway located in a tree, she finds herself lost in the adventure of a lifetime...

You know, these books might introduce a new cast of characters each time, but they all have the same feeling of danger and excitement, tinged with a nice edge of darkness. Nothing is ever as it seems and in this particular book, the stakes are pretty high.

It's amazing how easily Lundy lost control of a situation she was so sure she understood. She played by the rules, but it wasn't enough to deal with the Goblin Market.

I really enjoyed this because it had a bit of everything. The writing is quirky, fantastical, peppered with themes of friendship and family. Not to mention that the ending is heartbreaking. πŸ˜₯

Also, so much of this non-fairy tale seemed purposely disjointed because Lundy's story couldn't be told any other way.

Love this series!


View all my reviews

Tracking Words & Pages

 

Hey! How are you today? It's time to post another New Year tradition on my blog. I've been posting a screenshot of my previous year's Word Count Tracking Sheets for a while. So, why stop now? 😁

So, here are my 2022 stats:


Total words written: 160,534.
Total pages revised 3,843.

Although 2022 turned out to be an extension of the previous two years, as far as WTFuckery? was concerned, I managed to complete several writing goals. And the most exciting thing was finishing up my leftover Revision Projects. As well as completing another NaNoWriMo.

That explains almost 4k worth of revision pages and the bulk of the yearly word count! πŸ˜…

If you're wondering where I got this very handy spreadsheet, it's something Sidney Bristol used to annually share on her blog. Although this side of her blog hasn't been updated for a long while, you can still get your hands on the basic spreadsheet HERE. All you have to do is update the year yourself.

Either way, I wanted to give her the credit she deserves because I LOVE using this spreadsheet and have been doing so for years. It's so helpful and helps keep track of my daily, monthly and yearly productivity.

This post only covers my actual word and page count stats. If you're interested in a more detailed list, the other day I posted a breakdown of my 2022 Goals.

Yesterday, I setup my spreadsheet for 2023 and have already added new words and revision pages.

Anyway, here's to another productive year!

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Some Kind of Goals

Welcome to my 2023 Goals post. 😁

I'm not a big fan of resolutions because they don't usually stick, but goals are a different story. I love putting together a goals list at the beginning of the year, and post them here.

These are the things I'd like to achieve/continue to do this year:
  • Go for two daily walks
  • Get back into yoga and schedule more workouts 
  • Write between 100-200k words
  • Read 100 books
  • Revise/finalise my NaNoWriMo 2022 first draft
  • Write a novel or two
  • Write a novella or two
  • Keep writing short stories & subbing
  • Try not to self-reject & submit stories no matter how much of a longshot it is
  • Take part in NaNoWriMo
  • Continue playing Animal Crossing and get into some other cosy, cute puzzle games.

Well, there it is!

This is my list for 2023.

Are you making a list this year?
 

Monday, 2 January 2023

Reading 2023

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A new year means a new Goodreads Reading Challenge:


So, this is when I say: I want to read 100 books this year. 😁

I also usually give myself mini-challenges, but this year I'm not going to do that. 

During 2023 I want to read any novel, short story, novella or novelette that catches my attention. I want to read hardbacks, paperbacks, and eBooks. Listen to audio books and get back into comic books. Adding some biographies/memoirs sounds like a great idea as well. I don't care if they're review books or books that I've had on my bookshelf for years.

Whatever, whenever.

I just want to have fun reading. And if a book doesn't work for me, I'll put it aside because there aren't enough hours in the day. 

Well, that's it!

You can keep up with my progress on My Reading Page or at Goodreads.

How many books do YOU plan to read this year? 

Here's to another year full of awesome reading!



Sunday, 1 January 2023

Happy New Year!

 


I hope you all have a great and fun day. πŸ˜ŠπŸŽ‰

It's a shame that 2022 turned out to be yet another pandemic year with no clear end in sight. Actually, it's kinda worse now because people DGAF about Covid anymore and the virus keeps spreading and mutating. It's a frustrating shame, and I really hope this attitude changes.

Anyway. Enough with the negative stuff.

I want to send out positive thoughts into the universe and welcome 2023 with happy/good vibes in mind.

Have an awesome, productive and healthy year!


 
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