After a tumultuous start to the year: authorly, personally, and healthily, things are turning and I’m slowly unfolding myself from the assumed crash position.
When I pulled Cold As Hell from its previous publisher I was so disheartened. I knew it was the right thing to do, for many reasons, but still all my hopes and excitement about getting my own publication out into the world were set alight and left to burn to cinders. I had resigned myself to have it be tucked away in the bottom drawer in my mental filing cabinet.
And yet, here we are. *insert a SQUEE of excitement*
The work that has gone into creating a richer and more dynamic and delicious tale has been well worth the wait.
I can honestly say I am in love with Cold As Hell. I cannot wait to hold it up with pride and a Cheshire grin. and I really hope others enjoy Adie and her adventure and discovery, scratching past the surface of OpenFields.
To get your own copy, preorders can be found here.
Middle of Autumn and I’m listening to lots more books than sitting and flicking pages, because staying still in this weather is illegal and mostly frowned upon.
The Skeleton Key by Tara Moss – 4 stars (narration 2 stars) – The story and writing were good, interesting, and the build up of some of the tension was beautifully crafted … as long as you didn’t listen to the audio. I struggled to get through the audio and ended up reading the text instead. Tara Moss has really helped Pandora’s character grow and I’m finding her a lot more layered and likable now, though still a little naïve at times until I remember she’s 19 years old. I was also glad that there wasn’t as much detailed description of every characters outfits. While I do find those details interesting I struggle with so much of it as it’s not really something I’m all too interested in myself. There was still enough to see the characters and understand what the clothes were presenting about them, but not too much that I wish for the story to more on and past again. I think I enjoyed this book the most so far out of the series.
Backward to Oregon by Jae – 5 stars – I love books where I can find myself in the pages. And in so many great lesbian fictions books I’ve found elements and situations that I can stop and think … hmmm yeah I understand that … but this book … OOMPH … Since my partner realised gender fluid wasn’t quite accurate and he is transgender, I’ve found very few if any books that I can relate to in this way, I’ve never read a book that encompasses issues so real to my life … until this book. Yes, heaps of differences and historical to boot. But oh my. 1 To the writing itself, there is something magnetic about Jae’s skill with words. Every book of hers I have read I can’t stop thinking about when I am forced to function in my daily life. I am always racing to get back to it, to find out how this is going to work out, knowing it will in some way but, HOW? And it’s not just the story, though oh my, the anxiety I felt. Backward to Oregon is a masterpiece of capturing situational emotions and wrapping it’s words around your chest and then letting up enough for vital breaths where you laugh in relief, until the situation is resolved. It also taps into so many themes and issues and made me stop and think. I love a book that makes me think deeper like Jae’s so often do.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – reread – 5 stars – Just finished my second read of this masterpiece. I am more in love with it than I was after the first read. It’s a true journey of beautiful words and a detailed and wonderfully created universe. I can’t wait to read the second book, but might need a lighter read to recover and breathe. A fantastic epic adventure. There were moments where I gasped for breath realising I was so into the action that I had forgotten to breathe. And other moments where I laughed so hard I thought I was going to start crying. I really love the rhythmic beauty of Tamsyn Muir’s words. It’s a music that speaks to every fibre of my being.
The Power of Mercy by Fiona Zedde – 5 Stars – The power of Mercy is gritty, dark, and intense. It’s superheroine, mystery, and a little horror all thrown in together. Zedde weaves words with magic as the story flows and you are brought into Mai’s world and nightmares. She holds no punches and doesn’t save the reader with closed doors or fade to blacks and it is done so brilliantly and powerfully. Power is such an intense theme of this book and it shows. An intense look into family, secrets, and betrayal. Incredible read. To see me chatting with Fiona Zedde about this book, her writing, and life you can find the video here.
Magic, Murder & Mistletoe by Ellen Jane – 3.5 stars – It was a quick and quirky fun read. I enjoyed the wallpaper and the flowers that reminded me of Alice in wonderland. A few things had me feeling like I was being donked over the head and information rammed down my throat, not allowing me to solve the mystery with and for the characters. While some information was left floating around. I do hope the threads will be tied up in sequels, but they were threads that were hung just a little too loosely for me. Still an enjoyable palate cleanser and short read.
Forever and a Day: A Those Who Wait story by Haley Cass – 5 stars – I had expected a short snippet in to Charlotte and Sutton’s life after Those Who Wait. But this was so much more. And again Haley Cass has tapped into the real pull of emotions in a realistic heart wrenching way. A brilliant sum up of a fantastic book and completely wonderful in its own right.
Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon – 4.5 stars – I cannot believe how much I loved this book. I’ve never really been drawn to shifter books, the concept hasn’t really appealed to me. This was phenomenal. The characterisation’s were exquisite and the dynamics between Aurora and Evie is delicious. The description landscape was so real that I could see the world they travelled, and I couldn’t help but laugh and love Aurora’s mum, despite the obvious issues. I had tears of laughter during a few parts, which were placed perfectly between the tension and action of the book. One specific part of crying laughter was about someone keeping their ears … I couldn’t help but wonder if it were a homage to The Princess Bride. Either way, I fell in love with both characters, and Noon did an incredible job in making every character dynamic and real.
No Strings Attached (The Pink Bean, #1) by Harper Bliss – 4 stars – An enjoyable later in life coming out story. I really liked the characters in this and there were a few moments where the experiences of the nerves and anxiety of coming out hit right on the mark. Curious about the series, and looking forward to seeing whose stories we get to see in greater detail.
A Pinch of Salt (The Towers of the Earth #0.1) by Nita Round – 3.5 stars – It took me a little bit to get into this book, which could have more to do with my minimal but growing exposure to steam punk. It felt as though it took a little time to fully get into the pace and rhythm of the story but once it did it was full steam ahead (intentional, I like my puns). I really enjoyed the gradual drip of information that’s given and the characters and mysteries are quite fascinating. Was it the best written book? No. Was it a worthwhile short read? Yeah. I look forward to reading more of the with, and this author.
The Red Files by Lee Winter – 5 stars – ** little spoiler alert ** Hold on to your hats because this is going to be a long and rant filled one. I’m slowly making my way through Lee Winter’s back catalogue. Slowly only because I don’t want to have no more to look forward to. But each unread book I start I think, will the poor woman survive the pedestal of the books I’ve read so far of hers. And each book I finish with a huge smile on my face and think … this is my favourite Lee Winter book lol … until I reread a previous one or begin the next one. Now after that fangirling moment on to The Red Files itself and yep, there will be spoilers. I’m not the most politically intelligent person and always find myself squishing my lips up in worry that the politics will go over my head and I’ll lose some of the impact of the story. It didn’t happen here. The political side was explained enough without feeling like I was beat over the head. Always a bonus to not feel like a moron when reading. The mystery of the book was fabulous. There were brilliantly placed red herrings that never dragged out long enough to cause frustrations and all lose ends were tied up if not entirely then definitely satisfactorily (I’m looking at you scar face) The use of humour in her books always gets me. Lauren’s internal (and sometimes external) dialogue had me laughing out loud and I loved the Voyager references, especially the Janeway love. cues up Macrocosm. Without a doubt Lee Winter is the ruling royalty of the Ice Queen. Seriously. Her ice Queens are delicious and so frosty and they remain just that, except to the ray of sunshine that help to warm the small part of their hearts just enough to show what love can do and mean without destroying who they are as people. I also love that the entire book is from one characters perspective. I can appreciate why so many lesfic novels have both main character POV’s happening but there is something fun and delightful about truly not knowing for sure what the other character’s internal thoughts are. For me it really punched home the emotions and insecurities or ‘kicked puppy’ fears of Lauren. The sex – I don’t often remember a lot of the sex scenes once I’ve finished a book. I remember if the sex scenes were good of it I was tempted to flipped pages but the specifics all tend to blur together, except for a few exceptions, and the last sex scene in The Red Files fits firmly in the second category. There was something so wonderfully different about it. There was far less interest in the mechanics and where and how and focused all on the feels and for me, that was one of the sexiest sex scenes I’ve ever read. So, overall (if you’ve read this far kudos, that’s impressive) I loved this book. The writing, the character development, and the story all sucked me in completely. Another book beneath your feet on that pedestal (sorry Lee). I highly recommend if you enjoy real characters, great writing, and an intriguing mystery.
Code of Conduct by Cheyenne Blue – 4 stars – I am in love with the settings of Cheyenne’s books. Code of Conduct is not just set in Australia, but in the Australia I know and love. The country girl in me shines when I read her books. This is the first sport romance book I’ve read, and I loved it. Of all the sports, bring on tennis and the Australian Open. The characters were so great. I could relate to Viva on many levels and it was so nice to see and feel the book in a way I never can when it comes to books always set in worlds I know nothing about. I really enjoyed the story and the character developments. A great sports romance read.
Girl A by Abigail Dean – 4 stars – I heard about this book from Rachel Herron’s podcast How Do You Write. She read out the first page before she interviewed the author and I was hooked. Beyond that I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve seen a few negative/DNF type reviews and if you are expected a lineal story and the conventions of the novel, I can see how you would not be impressed. But I fell in love with the gritty internal struggles of Girl A. A few times I was a bit lost as time jumps back and forth and characters are easily confused. But I feel like this was a deliberate insight into how the mind works. We don’t stop and explain who these people are when we catch up with people we haven’t’ seen in years. We don’t think lineal. Our minds pop back and forth, random things setting tangential thoughts in to motion. After reading this book I had the biggest emotional stretched book hang over. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s good or bad. The writing was beautiful and the authors use of descriptions had me swoon. It feels like an intentional jarring of the beauty to the abuse and trauma of the story. Most impressionable theme I got from the book was this raw and gritty look into human nature and our desire to see others pain and, oh such a commentary on media and obsession with real life trauma. It’s such an intense personal insight and above all, for me, it read like a non-fiction and the feels hit with more power than I can remember feeling in similar stories.
It was an intense reading month. A few short reads but mostly quite long adventures.
This has been a huge mindset shift for me. It’s taken a lot of years but once I embraced it, the world opened up.
I didn’t know what it is exactly that has changed, I just know that in the last few months, my fear became the annoying buzz of a mosquito in a dark room instead of the roaring dinosaur it used to be. I found I was taking chances, putting more of my work out there and really embracing the learning of this wonderful writer’s craft.
Turns out, all these blocks I had in place came down to one thing … the misconception of perfectionism.
Fear of not being perfect at something stopped be from trying at all. I didn’t want to attempt something and realise I was BAD at it, worst of all let other people know that I was BAD at new things, any things. But like everything, to get good you have to start by being bad.
This isn’t an easy thing. If you struggle with the fear of criticism for your less than perfect wonderful self, this is a HUGE hill to climb.
I am sure there will be times where it rears its ugly head again. I’d like to think I have overcoming it once and for all, but that’s not usually how these things work. And that too is OK.
At the start of April a friend reached out, a friend who always signs up for NaNoWriMo with me most years and bails within the first week, and told me about escapril. A poetry daily challenge for April. I know as little as six months ago I would have balked at considering this challenge. Putting my writing out there every single day for a whole month … writing a poem every day to a prompt? No thanks. It’s one thing to do NaNoWriMo and input the word count you’ve done that day … but it’s an entirely different thing to put the actual words you’ve written out there.
Turns out, I’ve gotten a lot better at being bad.
And it turns out some of the poems aren’t too shabby. And each day that I manage to do the goal, I feel a little more confident in trying. A little more OK to be bad.
If you’re interested in checking out the prompted poetry of Escapril you can find them on my instagram account neenauthor.
Do you struggle with perfectionism? Have you pushed yourself and found a way to accept being bad at something? I’d love to know
As always, I’ve let a few spoilers slip in, hopefully nothing too traumatic but oh what a month of reading I’ve had. I’ve chipped away at the Sapphic Reading Challenge which has been a hoot. I’ve also had some health issues and the mourning of my dear friend, Aarjaun has been a heavy cloud, especially with some of this months books. But, they have also helped me push through the beauty of life, and the need to live, not just exist.
The top contenders for the month:
Alone by E.J Noyes – 5 stars – Oh My Goddess …. What a way to start a month. I listened to this book, ready by Abby Craden and oh my, that was delicious in and of itself. About 2 hours in I had to reprimand myself and say no, I cannot keep stopping the book, and going back to note another beautiful way E.J. Noyes has with her writing. If I kept doing that the entire thing would be written out and I would never get to the end. It was so beautifully done. The way she uses words is the most delicate and intricate spiders web glistening in the morning sun’s dew. And THEN she goes and throws in this incredible main character who is contradictory and damaged, wonderful and funny. Oh I laughed out loud several times, and chuckled under my breath many more times. There is so much emphasis on time in this book, and I fell in love with the way the main character, Celeste, talks and experiences her own time, her own world, and what it means. The pop culture references balance beautifully against the darkness of the experiment, and Celeste’s own memories and hallucinations. I have more than 30 quotes I keep reading over from this book … but I’m going to end this review with just the one. 😂 Apart from shooting you I’m a regular Mary fucking Poppins.
Third by Q. Kelly – 3 Stars – Overall, I found this book hard to get through. But the premise was intriguing. Pros: Some lovely writing, and the overall story is an interesting idea of time travel, while also exploring human nature. Cons: I felt a little like I was being beat over the head with ‘look how cool and how much I know about history’. At times it read more like a thesis or academic research piece, with half hearted sex scenes thrown in. It might be more interesting to those who know very little about Henry VIII, his reign, and his wives.
The Caphenon by Fletcher DeLancey – 5 stars – I’m in Sci-fi bliss. For me this book was a beautiful mash up of Voyager meets Stargate, with a delicious mix of humour, sexy as characters (who isn’t a sucker for a strong red head), and a storyline that made sleep invalid as a pastime. The authors attention to details was everything. From the use of colours, and oh my the architecture was delightful. The beauty in the descriptions so vivid and real, I wanted to reach out and touch the structures, both natural and industrial. My heart broke with the snippets of everyday life interspersed with the main characters and their storylines. But every character, they were real and tangible. Even ones that didn’t speak, the ones gone after a page. And all the characters with the major roles, personalities are shown in the most subtle but impactful ways. There are so many brilliant sections I was in book hangover for days afterwards. I felt exhausted in the most delightful and beautifully spent way. I read this as an ebook … the paperback is now on it’s way to my hands so I can read it again and again, pour over the words and move on to the rest of the series. I can’t wait. 👽 How could aliens she had never met view her as if she had wronged them? They were ready to mete out justice for an offense she hadn’t committed (Ooomph, right to the feels of being the minority and the prevalence of hate crimes in this world)
With Bone and Ash (Anthology) – 4.5 stars – Holy hell … this book has blown me away. I’ve had to take a few days to write this up as I’m still a little book hungover from the amazing worlds and oh my, I was hooked at elemental magic. Here’s a brief run down of my first impression of each of the 7 stories. I’ve tried desperately not to spoil it because honestly, if you like dark fantasy … you have got to read this. – The spring in the desert by Wynne F. winters – such a brilliant fast paced story. A snap shot in a post apocalyptic world of magic and destruction. I was hooked by the characters and was desperate to know more about them. – Master and apprentice by David green – Ripped out my beating heart and took a bite. Such a powerful look into heartbreak in familial relationships. Shows how that fine line between love and hate cuts far deeper then a known enemy. – The monster of Carroch by Rose Strickman – reminiscent of a retelling of an old story we’ve heard as children of the big bad stealing us from our beds. But such a beautifully written version with its own twists and lores. – Fire and wisdom by Joel R. Hunt – Shut up and take my money. Such a powerful world and even more powerful story. His descriptions are phenomenal and his characters tangible, even the ones with the briefest of page time. – The child of fire by Michael d Nadeau – I love this world and the mythos of the children and the elements. I felt a little rushed in the conclusion, and almost as though the battle could have been harder (I’m a bit of a bully with characters) but I’m really hoping there is more to read from this author set in this incredible world. – What we were made by Crystal Lynn Hilbert – though the begin was a little disorienting being dropped in amidst thoughts with little context my first impressions were of a twisted hansel and Gretel with a taste of words reminiscent of Brian Lumley; spine chillingly beautiful. – The hounds of everspire by T.M Brown – oomph, and what a way to end an incredible collection. I want more of this world that feels almost like a commentary of power in institutions – one of my own personal kryptonites.
Reaping the Benefits by E.J Noyes – 5 stars – While I know the author has said she didn’t write this book as a paranormal romance, I totally see it as one. Or perhaps I’m not really that big a fan of them because this is literally the best paranormal I’ve read. It was delightful. The characters were wonderfully layered, and I mean who doesn’t love death’s minions?! The story was great, and there were moments of such pure beauty in the words and the theme I felt as times almost breathless. 💚 Sometimes I want to remind them that bodies are nothing more than containers to hold all the wonderful stuff that makes up humans. 💚 But thinking someone was cute and had a great personality didn’t mean you couldn’t be frustrated at their inability to deal with something that was a normal oart of life. The humour as well has me chuckling to myself. 📇 Morgan’s gaze snapped back down to her desk, yes very busy and important in my office doing ordinary everyday data storage things that a human would do.
London Calling by Clare Lydon – 4 stars – Book 1 of Clare Lydon’s London series. Whenever I pick up a Clare Lydon book I know I’m going to get a contemporary light read. And London Calling is no exception. I loved the comparisons and contrasts the main character experiences as she travels from Sydney Australia to start her life anew, back home in London. Jess loves the concrete jungle and the use of description is wonderful. A great exploration of failing and catching yourself again. Of moving on and embracing new steps forward, pivoting on her projectory of life and enjoying it. And, oh who can forget the joys and funs of family dynamics. 🚎 We exchanged the lesbian look-it’s a bit like when bus drivers acknowledge each other, albeit with fewer buses. (LOL) 🤣 Thank you Jesus, even though I believe you to be a mythical character *coffee was spat* 📞 I shrugged, always effective in a phone call. 💚 Goddam my romance tourette’s.
Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur – 5 stars – The start made me laugh so hard, and then the humour and then some just kept on going. Laughing and heartbreak waltz around hand in hand. Elle is a great example of those that struggle to stand up and be who she is, and embrace what makes her happy. A beautiful conversation with her mother near the end of the book nearly had me in tears. I loved the characters and the dynamics and juxtapositions of their personalities shown wonderfully through things like the apartments and their clothes. I also smiled at all of the zodiac lists. They made me smile and often laugh out loud as the author uses these as fantastic conversational points with the characters throughout. Some of my favourite quotes: 🤣 God pretty people made her stupid 💚 Elle was technicolored chaos 😂 Brandon was getting fucking socks for Christmas. Boring, black, argyle ones.
This London Love by Clare Lydon – 4 Stars – Book 2 of the London series. It ticks all the boxes I look for when wanting a funny Lesfic romance, with at least one of the characters carrying quirks and humour that makes me smile while I flick the pages. Humour is always wonderfully rife in Lydon’s books and I truly love it. If you are looking for love and humour, this series so far is giving both on silver platters. And trust Lydon to take a funeral and turn it into a chance for love. I found it interesting her characters prejudice against lesbian florists .. I might have called out several times (scaring the dog) that she needed to watch ‘Imagine me & you* … because the characters are real and while you read them they can definitely hear your interactions. 🥪 Sometimes food didn’t need to be fancy, it just needed to be exactly what you wanted.
Let me know if you had a favourite read of the month.
I had a recent reminder that March is Endometriosis awareness month. So here is a blog I wrote back in 2019.
It’s hard to describe with any kind of accuracy.
I want to say it’s like a stone, strapped on to your back. That every month I feel as though I am Atlas struggling to hold up the Earth, but instead of it being strapped on my shoulders, it is inside me pushing against my blood and bones trying to force it’s way back to its intended/original size. But even that is not entirely accurate. Below is what some months feel like (Almost all months now):
Even that can’t truly explain the pain that often seizes my body. What no image or gif can ever explain or convey is the fear of breathing. With every single breath, this world of pain throbs and beats itself against me. So I take shallow breaths. I try not to move, HA! explain that to a toddler (now energized 4 year old). It presses against my back in alternating sporadic rhythms of sharp and ache, making my body jerk and shudder. I force myself to live as though the pain isn’t there. And at times I can fool onlookers. I can even start to fool myself with enough distraction … some minutes. But then there I am, curled up on the nearest surface, be it bed, couch, floor, anything will do. My fists clench around and twist any material, stuffed animal, my sons sicky rag, all to try and wade through the latest burst of agony.
This is just a glimpse of my life with Endometriosis.
Since the age of eleven when I ‘became a woman’ – what a stupid fucking expression that is – I have suffered this debilitating pain. I was not allowed to wallow in it. Three sisters before me managed to tough it out, there was no getting out of school or work. So, I drugged myself up every single month, feeling less like myself, feeling like an alien inside my own body, and lying when asked if the pain killers helped.
When I had my son, I had that beautiful blossom of hope, that I would be cured of this diabolic demon, and the first few months I was lulled into a false sense of promise. It was bliss and I thought … ‘oh yes, thank you Gaia.’. Turns out she doesn’t have all that much to do with it and those months of bliss weren’t just a tease but a cruel trick, to show me what my body should have been able to do. Since then teh pain grows worse each month (yep, still getting worse) and I am loaded up on drugs, feel detached from everything and hug wheat bags as though they hold the miracle of life itself.
To anyone who suffers from endometriosis – I believe you, and I’m sorry you are suffering through this. To anyone who hears someone say they suffer from endometriosis – believe them when they say it hurts. Help them when they have tears in their eyes and are trying desperately to continue as though it doesn’t (if you don’t know how to help, ask them what they need, because what works for one may not work for another. Don’t tell them they ‘need’ or ‘should’ do anything you know has worked for someone else. They may have already tried with different degrees of success and failure.
It’s a horrible invisible pain to go through and the lack of definitive knowledge and not being believed can be just as debilitating as the pain itself.
I recently read an article/blog about Impostor Syndrome relating directly to being queer, and OOMPH how it hit right in the feels. You can find the article here.
I have written a few blogs in my past life (a.k.a. pre this blog and my website) about the struggles I have had at feeling like I belong in the LGBTQIA+ community. But reading this article I thought hey, why not go a little into the human side of this writer (me, just to clarify) and maybe it might help some of you wonderful readers.
I came out pretty early, considering I was from a small country town and dragged up Mormon. But my mum is just the best. She came into my room when I was sixteen while I was singing along to Melissa Etheridge’s ‘Mama I’m strange’ and she took the hint. Once she told me her love was unconditional and though she might struggle at times, that love is love *paraphrasing, but you get the point* it was as though the world had been opened. My mum had accepted me, so how could anyone else hurt me if they were to reject who I was?
Hmmm … well the world changes and shifts … and mine certainly did.
My partner of several years (whom I married before gay marriage was legal – we should do the legal thing one of these days) realized he was not female, despite the limits of his birth. I have been reviled as either ‘not a real lesbian’ and ‘transphobic’ for either not having left my partner and/or not changing my sexuality because of my partner’s transition.
For a long time, I pulled away from the community as a whole. Every attack or snide comment would make me shrivel more and more inside myself. I even stopped writing characters I love and adore. I ignored the characters that kept knocking and begging to have their stories told. One of the main reasons I started writing was to give those characters a voice, to create the stories I could never find when I was growing up. All for fear of rejection, for fear of crumpling against the rage people have toward those that don’t fit into the categories as they define them.
And then I began to find incredible people, incredible authors and wonderful friends both in the writing community and LGBTQIA community. It’s revived my strength to be brave and to get that tougher skin. That doesn’t mean that I don’t worry, or have the dreaded Queer Impostor Syndrome raise it’s head and sneer at me. But I solidify myself in knowing, not everyone is so rigid in their definitions.
I remember, only a year or two ago listening to the very first episode of Lesbians Who Write and bursting into tears. In an overwhelmingly good way. Clare Lydon and T.B. Markinson both talked about how ANYONE can write lesbian fiction. No matter how one defines themselves. I braved up and wrote in, and several episodes later they discussed my email and again, the tears. Because their support was vocal and absolute. So, whenever I start to worry, I re-listen to that episode. Since then I have also had wonderful support (knowingly and unknowingly) from people in the community who stand up for my rights to define myself by MY sexuality, not the gender of my partner or a definition that I do not ascribe to.
So, if you are reading this and feeling like you aren’t ‘Queer Enough’ or enough in any terms that define yourself I’m here to tell you, you are! If you feel you need that clarification, that permission from an outsider that you are enough to be allowed to define who you are anyway you choose … you have permission.
There are so many women I admire. So many that have offered me strength and shown me ways to navigate this world. The list grows each and every year as I meet incredible women. I wish I could list them all, but really it’s an endless list. Of friends, family, and strangers.
Here are just a few of the many women I’d love to give a shout out to, they have been vital and influential in my life:
My sister – Sue. She is my best friend, my first reader, my strength, and my role model. Without my sister I would not in any way be the person I am now, and I can honestly say I am proud of who I am, and who I continue to grow and learn to be.
Pamela Jeffs – An incredible friend whom I met after fangirling over her work and then having her show up to out local writing group … I feel so privileged and honoured to call her a friend and mentor. Check out her incredible talent here.
Sarah Vogler – I met Sarah before the world went crazy. We were both volunteers at Oz Comicon and I met this incredible person, who turned out to be an even more incredible author … and a great friend. Her Middle grade series Poseidon’s Academy is one of the best series I’ve read. It’s so fun and exciting. I can’t wait for the fifth book. Check out all about Sarah here.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Aiki Flinthart. The world lost an incredible human being in her passing in January. But, she continues to inspire and motivate. Her light continues to shine, and her kindness and talent will never be forgotten.
Thank you to all the wonderful friends I have found in the women I am so lucky to be surrounded by. Thank you to all of those who have reached out, who have laughed, who have listened, who have led the way in order to help me become strong, to become someone I can be proud of.
A short month but so many great reads, ranging from Lesfic sci-fi and romance, urban fantasy, short reads, and even a wonderful middle grade book thrown in there. As always, there are minor spoilers throughout … mostly in the form of quotes.
The Blood Countess by Tara Moss – 4 stars – A well written book, with some great description and intrigue. I love Moss’s attention and detail to clothing and colours. I would imagine it is one of her own personal interests, as this is one of several books I’ve read of hers that has such detail, love, and care for clothing. It seeps into the words and it’s beautiful. My only real issues for the book are the continuity issue which I kept waiting to be resolved but which wasn’t, and at times the main characters lack of intelligence and continued denial about her gifts. I loved all the references to ancient mythology. I also found I laughed out loud with some of Pandora’s internal monologue. 🗿 This woman was Medusa, and could turn me to stone if I met her eyes
Finding Forever (Your Way #3) by Jamey Moody – 3.5 Stars – The third book in the series, but definitely able to be read and enjoyed on it’s own. Nice, easy to read writing with lots of fun activities and adventures with the two main characters. I am not the biggest of sappy readers, and this was one romantic sappy book. It works perfectly for what it is and Moody has done a great job of bringing the feels. The beginning was a little difficult to figure out who was who as it’s such a full cast. But I really enjoyed the minor characters, and knowing they are the main characters of the first two books, this would probably not be an issue if read in order of the series. The sex scenes … I didn’t feel as though all of them were actually necessary to be put in with such detail. A few could have been a fade to black/close the door as they didn’t progress characterization or story, except to show the characters in high honeymoon relationship stage.
Summer Brook Spring by Lynne Lumsden Green – 5 stars – what a purely delightful book about an 11 year old who has to move from England to Rural Australia. I adored the way the authentic view of Australia and it’s landscape and hardships wrapped around me like a familiar blanket. Not only is the landscape beautiful, the writing is rich in description and emotion. The view point of Freya was so spot on and memories from my own child hood flooded back from her perspective and way of seeing the world around her. 👩 Emma Lloyd was a gold and brown girl; she had tanned skin and long hair bleached by the sun. 🐄 A few dozen caramel-coloured cows, with a sprinkling of black-and-white cows among them. 🍳She felt like she was dipping her toast soldiers into liquid sunshine I can’t wait to read more of these books and am eager to see what other hobby farm adventures the Freya and Emma get up to.
Those Who Wait by Haley Cass – 5 Stars – I get it, I now understand why so many people have talked about and recommended this book. It is fabulous. It took me a few days to write this because I had to try and get my thoughts together so it wasn’t simply a rush of words. I’ve at least tried to explain a little of why this is so far THE BOOK of 2021 for me. The story – It is truly captivating. Each step as things progress I felt my heart catch in my throat, and while you think you know what will happen, you just aren’t 100% sure. And for a romance, that’s a feat in and of itself. The characters – I adore both of the main characters. And what’s better is that the minor characters also made their way in to my affections. The Sex – Cold showers and strong fans are a definite must while reading this book. I have read (and written) quite a few (read – a LOT) of sex scenes .. but these ones (yes plural) were phenomenal. Each had a purpose and pushed the overall narrative forward. The writing – Rich emotive words and internal dialogue. For all the romances I have read, this is the FIRST that has ever brought me to tears. I can feel the emotions of books, but I rarely find myself in tears. I was sobbing at one point in this book and was so utterly stunned. But the power and passion, it was tangible.
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker – 5 stars – Such a master of the twisted horror. This story is brilliant. If you’ve ever seen or heard of Even though it’s quite old now it still managed to get my heart racing. It was such a brilliant experience getting to listen to it read by Clive himself. The amount of times I stopped it to capture his way of describing the scene or the emotions left me with a huge list of quotable lines. But here are just a few of my top favourites. 🩸Wore it’s frayed nerve on it’s bleeding sleeves ⚰️ If nothing was worth living for it followed didn’t it, that there was nothing worth dying for either. 📞 The line was watery as though the deluge outside has seeped down the phone.
The Monarch of the Glen by Neil Gaiman – 5 stars – A fun beautifully written short adventure. It’s two years after American Gods and Shadow finds himself hired as a body guard, but not is it all as it seems, which surprises no one, least of all Shadow. Brilliant use of words and myths, from the talented Mr Neil Gaiman. 🤍 He told himself sometimes, he did not care if he ever went back, and sometimes he almost came close to believing himself.
Wherever You Go by Monique Mulligan – 5 stars. First a confession. I did 3 false starts of this book before I finally gave in and began it properly. It wasn’t the writing, most definitely not. It was the heartbreak you could feel from the very first chapter. Once I finally gave into the heartbreak properly, I couldn’t put it down. The writing is truly masterful. I have notes scrawled in margins and favourite lines highlighted. And the way she uses the power of her words to layer emotions in each page is incredible. The characters, from Mat and Amy, Nick and Devi, Frank, June, Irene, Bonnie, and Ashlee. You can see them, hear them and wish you we’re friends with them. Even Una and Sharon. Ok maybe not friends with them, but oh we’ve all known them. All these characters have the same things in common. They are layered and beautiful, complicated and human. Reading this book also made my mouth water and a desire to learn to cook. But let’s be honest, I’m definitely more like Frank. But this book is definitely one hell of a foodies dream. A wonderful journey into grief and trauma, paced perfectly with love and laughter.
The Lily and the Crown by Roslyn Sinclair – 5 stars – I am unashamedly in love with both of the main characters in this story. For such extremely different reasons, but love all the same. Of course, I could only dream about being as powerful and confident, and shiver down the spine as Assistant, though I saw many familiar traits in the effervescent, socially awkward, blurter of thoughts, and moral Ariana. There is everything brilliant and beautiful in this story. It’s so much fun getting to read all the genres I grew up devouring, but now with main characters I can relate to and fall in love with. Sinclair’s descriptions and world building is fantastic, while I definitely got all the feels most often in magnificently worded internal thoughts of Ariana. 😜 More often than not it led to very enjoyable shenanigans (I’m giggling again) 🦹♀️ She should wonder if Mir wasn’t a creature out of ancient lore, a powerful spirit that descended onto mortals and whisked them away to another world. (How magical is this wording, and the emotions and images it creates). I highly recommend giving this book a go, and if you feel brave enough try Angela Dawe’s narration … but be advised, do not operate heavy machinery while listening … specifically to some truly delectable sex scenes.
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashely Poston – 4 stars – I don’t tend to read a lot of YA fiction. Especially contemporary. The few YA fiction that I adore have been Speculative Fiction. In saying that, there were so many references to cult classics and the world of gaming, tv shows, movies, and the like that I often forgot it was set in a contemporary world. My biggest issue with the book is that it was a little frustrating. The author included a Lesbian romance parrallel to a heterosexual one, which was awesome. However, I felt like I really wanted the bravery of the character to also be reflected in the book. I would have loved to have two lesbian romances, or for the perspectives to be solely on the two lesbian characters. Instead it felt more focused on the heterosexual character and her romantic (mis)adventures, while not pushing or embrace enough bravery to have solely a lesbian geek story. Overall I did enjoy this book. Poston has the quirkiest, cutest way of writing, mixed with some of the sweetest and soppiest heart thoughts. 🐈 I am a ball of anxious wet cats 🔪 I unlatch the door and peek through the peephole, but someone has their finger blocking it. Because that isn’t murdery at all. I’m going to die. 🦠 He says the last bit slowly, oily, and a tremble races down my spine. 🧠 Brain, you have failed me for the last time. 👄 There’s adventure tucked into the corner of her mouth. 🕳 She is curious, and I am Alice falling into the rabbit hole. 🔑 Oh sweet baby Daleks 🗡 I am not a princess waiting to be saved, I will do my own saving. 💋 She kisses me and the world is too small and my skin is too tight and the universe is impossible. (ok I’ll stop now but know, there are about three times this list again highlighted from this deliciously quotable book) Princess was a fun trip doing my own geek and nerdy days. There are so many scenes in this book that I found myself nodding and smiling at, remembering the feel and energy of con days before the state of the world took them away. It’s definitely made me yearn for when we can go back to sci-fi and pop culture conventions.
The Spider Goddess by Tara Moss – 4.5 stars – I really enjoyed this read, even more than the first of the series. I feel like Pandora English is really coming into herself. I know it’s called the spider goddess but eeeewww yep shivered with the sensation of hairy legs crawling up my spine several times through out the book. So kudos to Tara Moss for getting that spot on. The book answers some of the things left hanging in the first book, and reminds you of some of the overall questions that are being set up to be answered in later books in the series (I hope). The writing is brilliant, beautiful words of description and humour, and the story was easy and fast paced. You didn’t have time to stop and wonder why Pandora didn’t just do x, y, or z. And her confidence and internal snark is definitely becoming more entertaining, the character in general more likable. I love all the pop references mixed in with ancient mythology, and who wouldn’t love a relative like Pandora’s Great Aunt Cecilia. 🕺Danced awkwardly about the workshop, like Mick Jagger on bad acid. 📖 Just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it isn’t real. 🧛♀️ There was nothing quite like the ennui of a depressed young vampire 👩🎓 The philosophers and thinkers of this age have thrown out spiritiualism with religion. They believe in chaos, chance, happenstance. You would do well to unlearn those ideas. 🕷 I could feel the paralysis of her spider kiss.
The Reckoning by Stephanie Scissom – 5 stars – A short read that throws you in from the start.
A mystery ghost story reminiscent of those stories you pretended didn’t raise goosebumps on the back of your neck. Well worth the read.
Was a surprisingly long list for such a short and busy month. But I really enjoyed the reads.