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Posted in Life Adventures

Pumpkin 🎃 time

When our son was younger I struggled with everyday things let alone the daunting idea of decorating and cooking all just for one night.

So it’s been years since I’ve fully embraced the Halloween energy. Before I had my son it was a full party; themed and decorated and special food galore. In the beginning it was all hard made decorations and improvisations, because Australia has only recently begun embracing the commercialisation of this holiday.

But I’ve never stopped loving the spooky. And our son, at age 4, has already inherited this love. I mean, the kid’s favourite sea creature is Cthulhu, and he’s already OBSESSED with Xenomorphs and knows the full lifecycle of them *sniffs* so proud.

I’m endeavouring to embark on some Halloween goodness. Even found an old box of decorations (though most of my handmade beauties have vanished over time and breakups). So hopefully at the end of the month I can do an updated post with some pretty pics. Or I’ll ignore this accountability with a shrug and … ooh look shiny other things :-p

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Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

September Bookshelf

Lots of books this month. TWELVE!!!! I got to try some new authors and I’m always down for that. I love exploring how other authors play and manipulate words. I also finished two of my three book challenges – I have hit the Unicorn Badge AND the Dragon Badge for Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge. Will get to those videos over on the Hyperactive Bookworm shortly 😀

Malice (Malice Duology #1) by Heather Walter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – OMGoddess. This book is EVERYTHING. I was downright shaking and speechless when I finished this book. Heather Walter has turned a fairytale I was completely ambivalent to into my favourite fractured fairy tale I’ve read so far.
The writing is absolutely beautiful, the characters are dynamic and interesting, and the world building is *chefs kiss*
Alice is so relatable, and I love her.
And the themes of this book are so intense and explored so well. This idea of you reap what you sow came across so strongly to me, as well as investigating the power of intent versus results.

No Good Reason (The Dark Peak #1) by Cari Hunter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I really enjoyed this book. A crime novel with a detective and a doctor who are BFF’s with benefits. I fell in love with Meg, the doctor Sanne can’t take out in public. I love the hints and insights into these characters, the similarities that make them connect and the differences that make them crave each other. One of the things I really enjoyed about this story, was that Sanne, the detective, isn’t old and wizened. She is new, relatively untried, and is finding her strength and power to listen to her own gut feelings.
The crime/storyline itself was riveting and heart pounding at all the right times. Horrible and ruthless and brutal.
Can’t wait to read the rest of this series.

A Little Bit of Spice by Georgia Beers – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I finally got around to reading a Georgia Beers story. And I get it. Her writing is easy and fun to read. A lesbian fiction romance with the enemies to lovers trope and intensely hot sex scenes. The complications of the story are fun and entertaining, so it was an enjoyable read. But let’s me honest, when the first line is “Are you fucking kidding me?” I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy something about it. I also had lots of fun getting quite the beer education.

Heart of Thorns: Terror in the Sky by Chris Hewitt – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another great installment in the dystopian AFTER series by Eerie River Publishing. Mystery and family drama mixed with the horror of

Sin Chaser: Terror from the Heavens by S. O. Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – What an amazing take on the seven deadly sins, faith, and a post apocalyptic world. As a naturalist I often find stories about ‘religion’ hard to take (despite writing them as well lol) but I could not get enough of this story. It was beautifully written with Green’s turn of phrase being spot on brilliance. They ramp up the tension perfectly and damn what an ending. I can’t wait to read more of their work.

Five Moons Rising by Lise MacTague – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It was a good read though I did find myself getting a little bored in a few places. I enjoyed the writing but got frustrated by the voices of the three main characters not entirely being distinguishable a few times. I was also confused by a few of the story points, as to why they characters did certain things. Overall a good read and some interesting ideas for the world building.

Art of Magic by KJ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Holy hell. I have too many words to say about Art of Magic and all of them are fighting for attention.
I have annotated the crap out of this book, I have scrawled in the margins, spat coffee over pages as I couldn’t hold back the giggles and know 100% Cath is my spirit animal … ok maybe not 100% … but 98 … 95%? Look, all I’m saying is I feel incredibly seen and maybe a little stalked (but not really).
This book is amazing, the writing, the humour, the characters, the world is all beautiful … and then boom … throw in magic realism and I’m all aquiver.
I loved this book and it will become tattered beyond its now desecrated state from rereading. 

Darkness Falls by KC Luck – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I’m torn about this book. It made me feel a little contradictory. The writing is good, the story has its compelling moments but the end of the world I thought I was reading about was less the focus then the romance. Which others might like more than I did.
I also feel like a few scenes pushed the consent barrier and made me squirm a little, and it seemed a bit uncharacteristic for the protagonist. But again others might not see a problem with it.
I did enjoy the ensemble cast, though I get the sisters relationship didn’t ring altogether true for me. I feel like they would have been more concerned about each other.
But I did adore the friendship that developed between Lexi and Taylor

Derelict by T. M. Brown – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – It took me a little to get into this world but still a good read and investigation into a world where the oceans receded and humans have had to find a way to survive with limited resources and a desperation to live. Some really nice turns of phrase.

Rescued Heart by Georgia Beers – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I liked the start ok … got really frustrated in the middle … quite enjoyed the end. A good romance story. Got very pissed off at the flippancy of the sexual harassment. Good writing.

Cold to the Touch by Cari Hunter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Holy Hannah. I thought the first one was good. This is such an incredible sequel. I love getting to know more about Sanne and Meg, their past, and their complications.
I adore both characters so much but feel akin to Meg. She’s just fabulous.
Cari Hunter has an incredible way of pulling you through the story, the red herrings and the breadcrumbs so perfectly placed.
Can’t wait to read the last book of the series, and then the rest of Cari Hunter’s books.

Fading Echoes by Joel R Hunt – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – A brilliant read. It was intense but mostly easy to follow throughout the entire journey. A small confusion at one point that got cleared up, and another confusion that remained but not vital. Definitely curious about what happens next in this post apocalyptic world.

Be Brave
Be Kind
Be Safe

Neen

Posted in Life Adventures

Some Hard Truths

For the last few weeks (months if I’m going to being entirely honest) I have been struggling. I have started posts and then trashed them. I’m making this one stick.

This week I was forced to face some hard truths.

1 – I am still in mourning from the passing of my dear friend and Mentor, Aarjaun. Since she passed away at the end of January I threw myself into everything, so long as I didn’t have to feel my own emotions, and so long as I didn’t have to stop and think too much. Anything can be justified if given half a chance.
2 – I’m allowed to mourn and still enjoy the wonderful things in my life. I can appreciate all the good things, all the amazing people I have in my life, both old and new. I can also allow myself to be sad, to miss my friend, and to be overwhelmed by the good as much as overwhelmed when things are bad.
3 – I am not the robot I have tried to be. The wall I’ve put up around my feelings now has fissures and it’s time to let it crumble.
4 – I have worth, whether I am writing and contributing or not. I am enough as me, and I am allowed to say no … to myself as well as to others.

These truths were brutal and hard to face, and while I’ve half faced them for a few weeks, it was with the hopes they would run and hide once again. But coping mechanisms only work in the short term it seems.
I have always been an advocate for prioritising mental health, but I have not always been so good at following my own advice. Sound familiar?
I want to be a better role model of this for my son. Not because I think I’m supposed to, but because I want him not to have to fight the stigma in our home. I want to be transparent because I believe transparency about mental health is one of the key ingredients of destigmatizing it.

Now, I’m working on ways to ensure that I’m actively trying to help myself with these things.

1 – Allow myself to feel the absence of Aarjaun. I miss baths, which I have been avoiding because of that very thing. I think I might go have a bath tonight.
2 – Let those wonderful people in my life know that the good things don’t take away the pain, nor does the pain minimise the good things … did you read that? Look at me telling the wonderful people already 🙂
3 – Instead of taking that deep breath and burying the feelings, adding another brick on the wall, I’m going to (try to) say the words, I am hurting.
4 – I recently made a writing schedule. It was forcing me to be too busy. So no, I will not be following that schedule, I will be amending it to allow for more quiet time, more me time.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. If it helps you in anyway, I’m even more excited.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Secret Squirrel Projects Revealed

I am so freaking excited about being able to talk about and promote these incredible projects I’ve been working on. Two amazing groups of authors all working together to create these brilliant anthologies.

Distur13ed Pre-order now: mybook.to/distur13ed

British moors, winter 1955 Hamer House Hospital is dedicated to the care of their patients. But, another story is unfolding in basement Ward D. Locked behind the doors are the twisted minds and souls society wish to forget. The depraved and the perverse.

Death Cuisine – Pre-order now: getbook.at/death_cuisine

Horror anthology and recipe book combined. My story focuses on the perfect neighbour, a massacre, and the blood red fingertip stains of cooking with beetroot.

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Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

August Bookshelf

August was my birthday month and I may have gone a little crazy with book gifts for myself *not even sorry*, and the reading wasn’t too shabby though it started with the worst book I have ever rated. And yet another month had passed when I did not bury my head in the plethora of paperbacks I still have on my TBR. Eek … always hoping for next month.

The growing beauty of my office/Sapphic/Indie bookshelf (several more shelves are scattered and filled elsewhere throughout the house).

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampire’s by Grady Hendrix – ⭐️⭐️ – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to damn well love this book. I didn’t. In fact there were times I almost DNF’d this book. It takes a LOT for me to even consider DNF’ing a book. But, I stuck it out (100% because the narrator was awesome) and it’s not like the book was horrible, just so so frustrating. There is a huge chunk in the middle of the book that I felt was entirely unnecessary and this was the part where I nearly DNF’d. It was also filled with gaslighting the main character by EVERY SINGLE other character. It was then her backing down even though she knew they were doing this. It was the most frustrating thing I’ve read in such a long time and it wasn’t broken up with anything else and it dragged out. Despite this. There were some good things about the book, the writing was ok and the story wasn’t entirely terrible, just so many unnecessary parts for me, and no character was likeable. I do however get pissed off reading things about this book being a fantastic humour horror. There is no humour. If an author tries to highlight the depravity of society they need to make that clear, with exaggerations, with word choices. The author did NONE of this. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t satirical. It was racist, sexist, elitist SHIT. If it weren’t for the narrator I would have DNF’d AND given a single star review.

Ignis by KJ – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – There is so much to love about this book. From the start we are thrown into two worlds, two times. The back and forth is fabulous. When you are in each part you are completely enveloped, almost forgetting about the other time, the other story.
The mysteries are compelling and the writing is delicious.
I adore the main characters and the beautiful balance of dark mystery and these moments that made me smile and sometimes even giggle.
A brilliant read. Highly recommend if you like dark mysteries.

Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Genders by Diane and Jacob Anderson-Minshall – I can’t star this book, I don’t know how to. I have rarely read memoirs, and never one that has hit so close to home. Did I enjoy the reading? Yes and no. Some of it was a little repetitive. Did I find it helpful? Yes and no. I felt seen but also had to remind myself of how different me and my OH are to the authors. Do I recommend this book? Yes and no. I think it’s a great educational read, as long as people realise this is two peoples personal experiences in the transgender world. I definitely saw similar situations and fears, thoughts, and doubts. But also some things that I was shocked, because we have not had the same experience. Were there some chapters I could have lived without reading, some experiences they went through that I could have not known so much about? Sure. But I feel like that’s sort of a memoir staple.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book. And I would love to read about more personal accounts of diversity in our beautiful and colourful rainbow community. I did a video review, going in to a little more detail. You can view it here.

Dead Lez Walking by G. Benson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Omg. I have no idea how G. Benson does it but damn this book gave me all the feels … the mix of dark humour, true fear, devastating sadness, some pretty gruesome scenes, and actual wtf moments. Brilliant book that I chewed through (yep pun totally intended) ridiculously quickly. I adore the authors inclusivity in her books, gender, race, nationality, sexuality. She embraces the true diversity of humans in her stories. And I loved the ensemble cast. Taren freakin cracked me up (her chapter sub headings were freakin snort laughing worthy), and Xin was adorable – even if I may or may not have called the author a monster at one (several) points lol

Under Your Skin by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – This book was delicious. A sequel to the incredible Red Files. If you like seeing an ice queen melt without changing who they are, this is THE ultimate book. I have such a love for small town settings and this book has it in spades, and the humour … laugh out loud coffee spitting moments, with Lauren’s charming upfront nature and Catherine’s acerbic thoughts and tongue:
* It’s only Chaos if you stop and look at it, the rest of the time it’s just fun.
* About the speed of an asthmatic turtle
Also, hotness rating … cold showers required! 😉

Faith and Fire (Sisters of Battle #1) by James Swallow – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Was surprised how much I enjoyed this. The audio was recommended to me. The narrator was amazing. The writing was surprisingly beautiful, and the story was quite fun and brutal. I thought I would get lost not having played World of Warcraft, but I understood the world enough to keep up with what was happening, and it was quite exciting.

The Roommate Arrangement by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Third book of the year to make me cry!
I was so frustrated with one of the characters at the start, Jae perfectly captured the frustrations of Ray having to deal with her new roommate. But just as she grew on Ray, Stephanie grew on me as well. A hilarious female the odd-couple book, with ALL the feels. Brilliant writing, fantastic dynamic characters, and a story that flows (and kept this reader up until 1am).

Full English by Rachel Spangler – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another small town sapphic read .. need I say more? Well, actually yes. I LOVED the dynamics of the characters in this book. Spangler turns the traditional characterisations on their heads and I am all for it! Brilliant themes of breaking the binary and contradictory assumptions of society. I love that the village girl isn’t sweet and virginal and the famous millionaire isn’t suave and sophisticated. The descriptions of the beautiful scenery of the town and the sea were so engulfing, it was a holiday during a time when holidays seem like a distant memory and a not promised future.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 – A perfect classic gothic horror of the time. But, reading it from a modern day perspective, I struggled to love it, though I did like it and enjoy it. I listened to it on audio and the narration lacked several times as the voices for the two female protagonists had the same tones and quirks and it was difficult to follow along as times. I did enjoy the writing, it was often beautiful but the story had me confused at times.

Hush Little Baby by RH Herron – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – *Trigger Warnings for infertility and child abduction. *
Literally could not stop listening to this book. My first book by this author and now I have to read more. The writing is absolutely beautiful, from descriptions of humanity to the earth, to the complicated duality of human nature, to the way the author reaches in and stabs sharpened nails into your heart before ripping it out of your chest.
Not a book I could have read during my long fertility journey, or pregnancy, or even when my child was in their first year of life. But such an incredible story. 

So ten books for August is a pretty good effort. 😀

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

July’s Bookshelf

For the first year ever I thought I’d embark on the insanity of doing not just November’s NaNoWriMo but also Camp NaNo … with that being said, I was very surprised to get as many books read as I did … I also managed to do a few Beta Reads. And no, in case you are wondering … I have not slept this month ;-p

Take note of just how many sequels I read this month … who knew I was such a series addict. Also seriously ridiculous how amazingly brilliant the books for this month were. No bad ones to be seen, not even any luke warm humming or harring ones. So total win month here.

Six Days to Hell by E.L Giles – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Oomph with a one two punch. A virus has caused a world pandemic (feels a little close to home doesn’t it). An anxiety ridden quick read. Follow Garcia on his post apocalyptic countdown with an ache for redemption and a question to the power of the past. A few times the lulls had me drifting a little but they didn’t last long until we head on the run again. I had to know how it ended, as I continued the countdown despite that spider tingle of anxiety. The beautiful language is stark against the horror of a world laid bare. A great dark read.

Dead Man Walking (Nick Holleran #1) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – For a second, Hell holds its breath. Dead Man Walking: A Nick Holleran book is a wicked little love child between Sin City and Constantine. The atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950’s PI’s of the past hits from the very start. The world building and side characters that David Green has created makes me already cross my fingers, hoping there is more of the same to come. Humour is mixed with horror and it is tantalisingly weaved throughout the story. When I finished Dead man Walking I felt as though I had been given a small window, or perhaps a fireplace view, of a moment in this world, a moment in Holleran’s life. And oh boy, what a moment it is.

Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2) by Tamsyn Muir – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – What. The. Actual. F$&@. I loved this book. That much I know. I need recovery time to write up this review, and perhaps another read through. Most important to note … ‘it’s complicated, is all I’m saying.’ Just a few points: I never knew I could love 2nd person, but oh my how I love this and the 2nd person narrator. I love the snarky dialogue, internal and external. And my mind has completely blown, to the point of now rereading Gideon from an entirely new perspective. SO MUCH AWESOMENESS. I took some time and ended up doing an entire reading Vlog of this book … you can find the vid here.

Without a Front: The Producer’s Challenge (Chronicles of Alsea #2) by Fletcher DeLancey – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I started this book with excitement and heartbreak. I was grieving and couldn’t understand that while I loved the writing and even the story why I was not getting as pulled in … and then it all came together. I was feeling too much exactly how the main character Aldira Tal was feeling. It was writing with such realism in grief and mourning that it was breaking my heart to feel her going through it, and I have never loved Fletcher DeLancey’s writing more. This book took me everywhere, the full spectrum where I felt heavy limbed and lost to laughing out loud, to a damn near a panic attack. The writing is beautiful and the story is so perfectly paced and balanced. What I am so wonderfully surprised and amazed at is how much I want to know more about all of the characters. I love the dynamic and deliciously complicated main characters. But so are the minor ones. I want to know more about all of them, even the ones I would cheer Micah on f he were to go a round or two with them to teach a lesson. What a fantastic second addiction to the Chronicles of Alsea series. I’m so glad I have more to read.

The Devil Walks in Blood (Nick Holleran #2) by David Green – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Stars – Nick Holleran is a smart arsed shmuck and I can’t wait to read more of his adventures.This second instalment has us go deeper into Nick’s life, his acceptance or lack thereof about hell and the realisation he’s still a shmuck who hasn’t quite got it all worked out like he thought. A darker and gritty adventure, with Nick thrown into a shit storm after shit storm. I loved that minor characters from the first book came back to play as well as some intriguing new additions. The overarching story Nick is travelling has my hairs standing to attention and my curiosity well and truly peaked. A great series. I can’t wait for the next instalment

True Nature (Shape-Shifter, #2) by Jae – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – I have never been a huge shifter fan. The idea of finding an animal attractive rankles. I read the first of this series last year and was stunned by how much I enjoyed it. The attraction between the shifter and the human never crossed that line of the animal form itself being part of the attraction. Jae is a mistress of the slow burn and this also makes a difference. So I finally got around to reading True Nature and I love it. Again there was no disturbing animal attraction, the slow burn and human emotions were powerful and real. And the story was brilliant. As frustrating as some of her characters are, I loved it because they were frustrating. They were real and dynamic, prejudiced and stubborn, flawed and trying. This is another great example of a powerful read and magnifying glass in to human relationship, and familial dynamics. The writing is easy and beautiful and I spent two night staying up well past sanity to get this read in two days because I kept wanting to know what happens and couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. What better endorsement can I give really?

Changing the Script by Lee Winter – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Another brilliant piece of art from Lee Winter. The balance of tension and amusement throughout Changing Script is as masterfully crafted as a katana.
An American film director trying to save the worst movie in the world goes up against a Patriotic New Zealand local who she nearly kills on meeting. I mean what could possibly go wrong.
Highlights:
– New Zealand realism in the use of words, familial relationships, culture, and humour
– The sexiest and most realistic flirting scene I have read in a long time
– Characters who are layered without having to have their personality traits jammed over and over at the reader
– Appearances of characters from Breaking Character
– Laugh out loud moments that made me the entertainment of fellow commuters.
This book is so great.
I did suss out the mystery about half way through but because the writing and the way things developed in the story, I still wasn’t 100% convinced I was right until I read the end, and it was well worth the read.

Metaphoria by K.B Elijah – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ When a book starts with “Should I begin with the tale of the cannibalistic peacocks, perhaps?” You know you are in for a ride … but oh man this was a whirly derby ride of hilarity and snarky dialogue and I loved every second of it. The two main characters are fun and unique, easily recognisable from their dialogue, and *french kiss* the chemistry was enjoyable and wonderfully built. Twice I was reminded that this story was mostly dialogue, but I didn’t have time to linger long as I was pulled back into the story. The theme of who is hero and who is villain is delightful, but my oh my did the fourth wall get bashed in with a wrecking ball. It was damn near Brechtian – delicious. My recommendation is to grab a drink and set aside an hour or two because this delicious pocket size read is a one sitting perfect example of escapism and enjoyment.

What a brilliant month of reads. I’m really partial not only to the sequels but to the shorter readers it seems 🙂

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Everyone Should Write – Yes, I’m Talking To You

It’s a strange concept, or at least it seemed like one to me when I first heard it talked about with some of the amazing authors in the sapphic writers community. But most authors (and I argue all good authors) are readers. They will read more books than they will ever manage to write. If every reader wrote, there would still be more books wanted, more books being read than being written.

But this can sometimes be hard to imagine as the plethora of books and TBR piles and new releases can seem overwhelming at times. And I suppose it also depends on what you write. It’s taken me a long time and I’m still settling into my happiest writers niche. Just to clarify, Sapphic Speculative Fiction is totally my writing jam, but even that has many genres and sub genres beneath this umbrella.

I’m finding there are more out there then I originally thought and this has been so exciting as a reader, and truly terrifying as a writer. It’s worried at the back of my brain. But while reading one of my favourtie sapphic sci-fi authors this morning, I had an epiphany of happiness for the writer in me.

I belong to many different reader groups. There are often multiple recommendation requests a day. I cannot think of a single request that asks for something opposite to what the reader has enjoyed. More often than not the requests going along something like this:

I just finished [insert title and author here] and loved it. I’m looking for more of the same.

Let me just repeat that here: LOOKING FOR MORE OF THE SAME.

That’s right. We readers may not always want the same genre or trope for every single book we read, but often WE DO go back and forth between what we love most. Myself, I will mix up what I read, but then I often go back and revisit the same genres and tropes. They are my favourites for a reason.

Ok, so you’re probably thinking, yes that’s all well and good but how could my writing ever compare to [insert your favourite book in your writing genre]. Here’s a revolutionary concept. It doesn’t have to compare. What you love about a book, another reader might find annoying and the worst part. You will always be your harshest critic with your own writing. That’s why it’s such a great and vital idea to have beta readers, editors, and a plethora of others whose opinion you value and who aren’t afraid to tell you both their loved and not so loved parts.

And no-one, not even yourself, can write the exact same story twice. So, don’t let that snide little negative nelly voice in your head stop you from loving your own stories.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Australia, Book Review, Reading Adventures

June’s Bookshelf

Midyear and though life is busier and things get crazy from here on – because they have been so calm until now *rolls eyes* – I read 10 books this month.
Reading remains my precious and sacred lifesaver.

My favourites for the month:

The Brutal Truth by Lee Winter – 5 stars. An Aussie in New York, an Ice Queen in Sydney, dying magazines, a bet, and beautiful designer clothes. A great read. I also love learning about worlds I have never and foresee myself never being intimate in, but with this book you feel like you get a real insight. My goal was to make sure I read this before it’s sidequel, The Awkward Truth comes out .. done and done. I also foresee a few more reads between then and now. Lee Winter gives us another wonderful exploration in to human nature, passion, the magazine industry, and ooh I love the theme of ‘bad’ things becoming the best things in your life. And of course, I am head over heels in love with Elena Bartell. There are Ice Queens and then there are Lee Winter’s Ice Queens.

Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton – 4.5 stars – Poppy Jenkins was an outstanding and in depth look into everyday lives and how scratching beneath the surface can reveal a rainbow of colours you previously couldn’t fathom. Did I get frustrated while reading this book? yep in all those parts where I was supposed to, I might also have wanted to shake Poppy a few times, but I loved how Clare Ashton showed all sides of the coins for the characters. I adore Rosaline, and I truly love Emma. I also used this book for my first ever Reading Vlog and it was such a fantastic book to do this with. Check out the Vlog here

Spiffing by Tim Mendees – 4 Stars – Spiffing was a fantastic read. While it builds slowly, engulfing you in the every day debauchery of the ensemble cast it soon speeds up and the horror is palatable through the use of humour and curiosity as you want to know what will happen next. I found myself a little confused at the beginning with the multitude of characters but this confusion cleared up as I continued to read. The description, particularly of the more horrific and terrifying moments of Spiffing, is fantastic and tangible. Mendees does himself proud with a fabulous horror short read, highly recommended for a dark and stormy night, just make sure you keep the lights on.

The Miracle Girl by T.B Markinson – 4 Stars. A brilliant start with a miracle girl going back to her home town twenty years after a heartbreaking leave. I got a little lost wondering where it was all go for maybe a chapter or two, and then the book became addictive, with a desire to throttle a few characters. I really like JJ as a character. I am really looking forward to reading the 2nd book in this series.

Sentinel by Drew Starling – 4 stars – A young family move to Bensalem, a small town with the beauty of nature surrounding them, what could possibly go wrong. Sentinel is a slow build up as we learn about the townspeople of this small sleepy town, which is not nearly as sleepy as first impressions give. Once the story speeds up, it drags you along, heart kicking and screaming. An ensemble cast, there were definitely some characters I felt a deeper connection to then others, but I cannot wait to see what they have in store for them in the next installment.

The Enchanted Woods by Enid Blyton – This book will ALWAYS be a 5 for me, for no other reason but for nostalgic purposes. I have such a love for the Magic Faraway Tree series. They were so important and influential to me when I was growing up. Now, listening to it read aloud by Kate Winslet, it’s so adorable and wonderful. She does a marvelous job, though I do cringe every time I hear Frannie – if you understand this, welcome to my age group ;-P

The Thing about Tilly by G Benson – 5 stars – Oh I just adore so much about this book. From the pace that made Tilly’s wanderlust thud inside my own chest, to the diversity and wonderful realness of the characters, to the truly beautiful way Benson describes everything that happens in and around the characters and the story.

Dani by Angelique Jordonna – 3 stars – A great premise, good story, promising writing.
What I liked:
A disturbing story with interesting characters. It reminded me of a lesbian cross between Silence of the Lambs and Dexter, with the authors unique flare shining through.
What missed the mark for me:
The 1st Person present POV was a little difficult to get into and slipped into immediate past a few times. I would have liked to see some more of the scenes as they played out, instead of being told about them after the fact.
Overall a good read. Jordonna definitely has promise and I’m looking forward to seeing more from her.

Irregular heartbeat by Chris Zett – 4.5 Stars – I adored this book. There is nothing quite like the melting of an Ice Queen to make me smile. I really enjoyed the depths and dynamics of the two main characters. Some heartbreaking moments mixed up with some laugh out loud parts. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a bit at the intense coincidences of characters meeting. The writing was delicious and I’m always a fan of pop culture references in contemporary fiction. I really enjoyed this book and will definitely look at reading more of Chris Zett’s work.

The Creeping Void by Tim Mendees – 5 Stars – A short read with everything you could ever want from a post apocalyptic short read. Characters that are brilliantly flawed and trying to find a way to survive. Mendees influences and supplication to the elder gods. Brilliantly timed humour that helps to balance the heart pumping horror and deliciously decrepit descriptions. I can’t give this anything less than a five. Brilliant work.

Hope you all have had a successful first half of the year … I’m on my way to 100 books, and the dragon and unicorn badges for Jae’s Sapphic Reading Challenge.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Publications, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Stumbling Live

I had a small paperback launch for my debut Novella, Cold As Hell. It was cold and windy outside but inside it was wonderful and warm, both the temperature and the support and love I received.

I read out the prologue of Cold As Hell (Stumbling Live over a few points) and made one person actually gasp out loud near the end of the prologue. I felt like fist pumping the air and taking a bow, my work was done. 😀

It really was a lovely afternoon/early evening. I was also blown away by the generosity of the local cafe who hosted the event for me. If you are local to Brisbane/Ipswich or visit anytime, go down and share the love at Forty west Cafe, Ripley. They are a family run business and they are so supportive of the community.

I didn’t end up getting the event filmed, but there were some photos taken. Except for most of the people who came, I’m not good at the practical things AND being in the spot light … it’s one or the other people. In that regard I also need to get the bookmarks I lovingly made (with the help of partner, sister, mother, and nephew) for the event and then subsequently forgot to give out to those wonderful people who came and bought a copy of my book baby.

On that note, I have several bookmarks left over and will be giving them away to first in first served who get a signed paperback copy directly from me. Of course you can buy a digital version here.
But, if you are interested in a signed copy, contact me for a quote 🙂

But without further ado, here are a few of the pickies:

I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have gotten my words out in to the world … now on to my next Novella … bring on the sky pirates and dragons ;-P

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Life Adventures, Writing Adventures

Why I Write

I haven’t blogged a lot lately, and mostly because I haven’t felt like I have enough ‘content’. My thoughts have begun with a lot of ‘What am I teaching you wonderful readers? I need to do more learning the craft so I can help.’ and it spiral from there. It’s been a stressful thought pattern.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and fellow author and I just about burst into tears, As we spoke the conversation came around to story telling and how sometimes we forget that’s why we are doing this in the first place. Not to have all the technicalities right, not to know how to market, not to network. Yes, these things are important, but they are often overshadowing my thoughts and peaking my anxiety.

Then last night I had an interview with a publisher (Eerie River Publishing – go check them out) to highlight me as one of their authors for PRIDE month, and some of the questions were an oomph to the chest.

Ok, world. Yes, I get it. Time to remind myself of the roots and reasons.

I have at times forgotten why I write in the first place, so I’ve decided to make a list of the top reasons I write:

To tell stories
To escape – for me and my readers
To represent and minimise isolation
To create the stories I couldn’t find growing up

While learning about writing will always be important to me, I’m not sure any of that knowledge will mean anything if I forget the reasons for why I write in the first place.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x