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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

Posted in Book Club, Book Review, Reading Adventures

May’s Bookshelf

Another month and another delicious intake of words. Did I get all the books from my TBR shelf for May …. EEEK, no! Did I read other books that weren’t on my TBR … of course n… yeah, I absolutely did. A total of 13 books when I was certain I wouldn’t reach the TBR total of 8 … of course only 3 were from my tbr but that’s hardly the point

My outstanding pics of the month are *drum roll please* (really hard because I want to pick half of them but I was like,it myself as always.)

In Solitude’s Shadow by David Green, And playing the role of herself by K.E Lane, and This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

The Killing Ground by Syd Parker – 3.5 stars – A serial killer is on the loose, a detective and an FBI special agent are on the case. A recipe for so much potential. This book started so strong. Raw and gritty and should definitely carry a CW when debating whether to read it. The writing hooked me in, the crime was hideous and damn I wanted the bastard caught. Then we got more about the two main characters and while the characters have strong potential, this is where I felt the book struggled. I could see what the author was trying to get at with the characters but it was told to us and we never really saw the development and changes. The two main characters also blended together a little for me and I often had remind myself who was who. Overall it was an ok book, not one of my favourites but I did enjoy the gritty darkness of the crime (even if it make me roll my eyes a little and I had guessed the end about half way through.)

Conflict of Interest by Jae – 5 stars – Phenomenal. This book was exceptional. I’m curious to know if it began as a fanfic for Law & Order: SVU, and if so how fantastic. It reminded me of how much I love and miss that show (haven’t watched it for a few years now). The characters are so dynamic and real, and the frustrations and fear were like spiders crawling over my skin during those unknown parts during the main trial in the book. And the sensitivity Jae has used in writing this book is beautiful. It touches on so many real life issues and doesn’t gloss over the impact rape and abuse has on people, not just for a week or two, but for the rest of their lives.

The Cobra Queen by Tara Moss – 4.5 stars – A brilliant addition to the Pandora English Series. Everything in this book is just that little bit more pulling than the previous books in the series. Pandora is really growing into herself and the story line was wonderful and epic. I cannot wait until Tara Moss gets book 5 out. I am very eager to know what happens next. And, I confess I was shocked and a little heart squeezed throughout this book.
There was one particular part where Pandora spoke about grief and I went back many times to listen to it. It was powerful and strong, and felt like it hit on exactly who Pandora was.
I did a booktube review of the Pandora English series (books 1 -4). You can have a look here.

Kismet by T.B Markinson – 4.5 Stars – I freaking adored this book. It was such a delicious book. Easily my favourite Markinson book to date. Both characters are such strong individuals and their layers are wonderfully human and are revealed and threaded through the book so seemlessly and with such wonderful writing. I love how Markinson has such real language in her characters thoughts and words, the language and turn of phrases made this book so easily to devour.

Gretel on her own by Elena Holst – 4 stars – I think this is my absolute favourite retelling of Hansel and Gretel I’ve ever read. Taking place 20 years after the breadcrumbs, the witch, and the fire, we meet Gretel once again. Within a very short time, she is alone and we see her as she tries to find a life, a normal life at the edges of the small town who all know her and her past. Until a stranger comes to town and Gretel remembers what a sweet tooth she has. *chefs kiss*. What I loved most about this book I don’t want to go too much into detail with because it will definitely be a spoiler, but I recommend it. It’s a short dark read and a twisted fairytale where I felt I got represented. Lesbians in fairytales. I am all for more of these. My booktube review for Gretel on her own is up now. Take a look here.

And Playing the Role of Herself by K.E. Lane – 5 stars – Firstly, I freaking loved the freedom of the swearing in this book. Both in the dialogue and in the internal thoughts of the main character. And I LOVE that was only get the one perspective. I may have mentioned this a few times (expect it to be mention more and more). The characters are brilliant, even Liz and her southern attitude and multi layered friendship she has with Caid. I love how Lane has touched on the prejudices we have of others even in our own community. Whether it was intentional or not, for me it really made me feel warmed and a little seen as it shows not just how miscommunications can occur but this assumption of sexuality being an immovable state, and how sex defines ones sexuality. At least that was an extra layer I got out of the book. I loved the writing and the story, and Caidence was just a fantastically wonderful character and I’m so glad the book is from her perspective. I enjoyed Robin as well, but this was by far Caidence’s story.

In Solitude’s Shadow by David Green – 5 stars – (I received an ARC copy – here is my honest review) A Droking Great Read. A true epic fantasy. From the first page you are drawn into a world of races and war. With beautiful writing and tangible descriptions, enveloping you into the story and the intense themes all in one:
* A fever lurked behind the man’s eyes; he’d tasted war, addictive as Octarian spice.
* He reminded Zanna of a fish. One with teeth and a nasty disposition.
* The stench of death hung heavy in the room—rusted iron and voided bowels.
* No details, no faces, just a churning mass of bodies animated by blind panic.
I could go on, but let’s not spoil the read.
I couldn’t stop wondering what would happen next, events unfurling and pushing me along while the layered characters were revealed, all hurting and fighting in their own ways.
And oh my, the rush as we get to the finale, and the finale itself … wow.
If you love dark epic fantasy I can’t recommend this book high enough. And I cannot wait for book 2.
As an added bonus, this book is not only OUT TODAY but I got the opportunity to chat with the author. You can watch the interview here.

A Place Beyond the Storm by David Green – 4 stars – A second David Green all in a row. This one I had been hanging out to read. A short apocalyptic read. And it was brilliant. Living in caves, underground we begin our adventure with Panam from the day of her becoming an official adult, at the age of 14. It’s real and believable … so kind of terrifying in that way.

Hunter’s Way by Gerri Hill – 3.5 Stars – I enjoyed this crime mystery. It had some pretty gritty scenes and some awesome twists and turns. The characters were awesome, but I do have my own personal issue with ice Queen characters who soften to everyone, and in essence feel like they have changed who they are so utterly. I also felt the extreme changes from minor characters to be a little too drastic and unrealistic at times, when the book itself has such real life grittiness to it. My biggest issue was the way the rape was dealt with. It was good to see the character break down a little but her recovery and ability to move on and function sexually and healthily seemed a little too fast and unrealistic. I still enjoyed the book, it definitely has some intense triggering scenes, and I am interested to see more of these characters in the series.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman – 5 Stars – A re-read … except this time I listened to Neil Gaiman himself read it. It was such a wonderful and different experience. Plus it made it easier to see the book and not the movie. I quite like the movie … but they are such different feels and adventures. And the book remains a delicious treat I discovered many years ago now. I love Neil Gaiman’s voice and reading. I did a video review and exploration about my feelings toward the audio.

Next of kin by Jae – 5 stars – just when I thought conflict on interest could not get better, Jae epically proves me wrong with book 2 of the Portland Police Bureau series. Not only do we follow Aiden and Dawn as their lives continue after the dramatic events of book 1, but we get Cadence and Del’s adventures, as well as small sections of a sidequel through memories and flashbacks. It’s another delicious slice into the lives of these incredibly real and dynamic characters.

Change of pace by Jae – 4 stars – a short novella set a little time after Next of Kin. A fun tale about Cadence’s mum as she inadvertently helps some lesbians move house. It was a fun quick read, but I always prefer Jae’s longer stories, as they really let me feast on the dynamics of human nature.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – 5 stars. I am in love with this book. I need to get a paper book copy. The amount of highlighted sections I have is phenomenal and I literally had to stop myself highlighting just as many again. This book is my kind of poetry. And you if you are a reader wanting to understand the depth of every line you may get frustrated and feel stupid, I was tempted to at times, until I understood that this book is poetry in prose. The lines I didn’t understand were beautiful and so I took them for what they were. I never once felt like I was lost or confused about the story that is being told around the poetry.
It’s told in a dual alternating 3rd and 1st person perspective. Blue and Red are on opposite sides of the time war and at the start they almost taunt each other, seeing the other as a true adversary worth their own skills. They exchange letters through the most beautiful and unique of ways. And they eventually fall in love. And oh what a love story it is. With wonderful parallels to a Romeo and Juliet story, I love this version with all of my being. There are so many delicious lines and ways these authors let you know where and how in time the characters are without stamping a date at the start of each new chapter. Some of my favourite lines:
* But we’re all deviant in our different ways.
* Adventure works in any strand – it calls to those who care more for living than for their lives.
* Red wrote too much too fast. Her pen had a heart inside, and the nib was a wound in a vein. She stained the page with herself.
* I want to meet you in every place I have loved.
* Blue closes her eyes as she licks colour from her lips obliterates its name even as she coast her tongue with it, listens to the deep velvety green of Garden’s voice.

Keep reading my friends. And tell me, what were your favourite reads this month?

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

The Final Countdown

Just a few days (4) to go until my debut Novella is unleashed in the world. I’m so excited, there is much coffee and jiggling happening. There are also lots of ways you can follow along with new and exciting adventures happening for Cold As Hell:

☀️ Newsletter: – Sign up in the next two days to get a special treat ;-P

☀️ Instagram: – Daily Fun Facts countdown is happening now 😀 (here’s a sneaky from yesterday)

From Instagram Neenauthor

☀️ YouTube: Hyperactive Bookwork – Videos about Cold As Hell, and even a reading 😀 eek!

☀️ Linktree: – for all other ways of keeping track of my adventures

If you want to ensure it lands on your digital reading device as soon as it drops … you can preorder my book baby here.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen x

Posted in Life Adventures

The Squirm in your Guts

Today I was given another reminder of the importance of following your gut, your instincts, whatever it is that makes you balk or cringe back from something. That thing that you can’t pinpoint a justifiable finger to but you know, you simply know you are not comfortable.

As I’ve gotten older (dubiously wiser) I have found myself over and over again trusting that squirm in my guts.

Throughout my life I’ve been told to ignore my feelings; stop being hysterical, you are paranoid, you can’t even way why … and the list goes on, until I started to believe that these things were all just in my head and everyone else was right.

I think we are not nearly so different, so evolve away from our instincts if only we allow ourselves to listen to them. I’m not saying that following these instincts will have you avoid all the bad you might encounter in this world, but having followed mine more and more over the years, I have seen bad situations avoided.

I am so glad I have consciously followed my instincts this year, even when it might have been considered socially uncomfortable or harder to go against the stream.

I am so grateful for the trust I’ve given myself.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen xo

Posted in Publications, Writing Adventures

Pinch Me

It’s happening. It’s really happening.

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.

Be safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Writing Adventures

A Land Called Fantasy

I’m a bit excited ya’ll. I finally put on my brave face and joined some group promotions for my writing. It’s a huge thing for someone who has such fear and anxiety over rejection.

But, I applied to some promotions and I have my first one running right now. It’s awesome.

If you are interested in checking out some free LGBT fantasy stories then you are in luck 🙂

Just click here or the banner below. My short story Make A Wish is amoungst these fantastical adventures.

Free Books to dive in to.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen

Posted in Australia, Book Club, Book Review, Interview, Reading Adventures

April Bookshelf

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.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen