Seeing as I usually read a good amount of spooky books all year round I didn’t focus on reading just spooky for October. Turns out I should have. I read a pathetic amount of scary books, less than every other month. I make my own rules, usually through lack of planning and being too busy to realise what is going on in the world outside my lunchbox. In my defense, I did read 10 books and ended the month on an awesome spooky high.
Top Reads of the Month:
Quantum Rule: Terror Underground by Jay Sandlin – 4.5 stars – Best start I’ve read in a novella in a while. I was hooked from the get go. There were breadcrumbs that made you suspect what comes next but never enough for you to be sure. A few HA’s out loud as I got completely surprised a few times. This was an epic addition to the AFTER series. Great fight scenes and an intriguing world dynamics.
Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew – 4.5 stars – Oh my. Ten plus hours of listening to Captain Kathryn Janeway to fall in love with Kate Mulgrew. She narrates as the true actor she i s and oh how it’s a beautiful memoir of her life. Her memories, her perspectives of her life. The rawness she goes into. It’s riveting and heartbreaking. If you listen to the audio, the interview at the end is well worth it, and possibly bumped up my experience with the book at least half a star.
The Best New True Crime Stories: Serial Killers by Mitzi Szereto – 4 stars – Some lesser known serial killers and what we know of them and their crimes. A lot of speculation as many of the crime facts have been lost to the past, but they do a good job of piecing what they do have together and coming to very plausible outcomes.
Carry On by Holley Cornetto – 4 Stars – Delicious and dusty. I loved the characters and the realistic portrayal into human nature, and what we might be willing to do to survive. Absolutely loved and adored the main character, and the books look into the importance or lack there of to names.
A Quiet Death (The Dark Peaks #3) by Cari Hunter – 5 stars – WOW! What an ending to an amazing trilogy. I both love and hate that that’s the end. I want more of Meg and Sanne. One of my favourite things about this instalment to the dark peak series is seeing inside a third persons POV. Gotta love a woman in charge. The writing and story was brilliant, and Cari Hunter is definitely one of my top new found authors. If you like brilliantly written mystery with characters so real you discuss them as you would a mate up the street, check out this series. Incredible.
Freedom to Love by Ronica Black – 3.5 star. There was lots to love about this book. I loved the immediate plunge into the action of the story, it sucked me right in. I also loved that there were no chapters that dragged with the characters umming and ahhing about wanting to be together. They were adults thrown into situations and instead of lying or hedging, they pretty much said what they thought, mostly. I wasn’t a fan of the sex scenes, though I’m sure they are other peoples cup of tea.
Easy Nevada and the Pyramid’s Curse by Georgette Kaplan – 4 Stars – I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. Navada is quirky with history and layers, and even with the self-referential mentions of being like Jane Jones or Lara Croft, it was that sort of fun adrenaline spiked adventure. Mix in some The Mummy feels, with Brendan Fraser being a hot chick and you’ve pretty much nailed how this read felt. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending but I’m still really looking forward to the next book in the series.
Unbreakable by Cari Hunter – 5 stars – OMG, the rollercoaster and speed of this book is epic and fantastic … the writing is natural and hooks you in the entire time. Characters are wonderful and real and flawed and hilarious. I love reading crime, I always have but there is something so much cooler about reading a genre you love that has representation you can relate to
Coming Home by KJ – 5 stars – Ok, so I may have read these books backwards but damn, I regret nothing. This book is so delicious and sweet and funny and Aussie. It’s literally everything I love about KJ’s writing. There are lines I wish I had written and lines that made me spit coffee with laughter … and yep, it’s true, there’s even a line that made this cold hearted bitch burst into tears. 4th book of the year, bugger I’m going to start getting a reputation of having a heart. It’s a truly delicious celebrity romance book with amazing characters and real people.
The Pseudopod thatRocks the Cradle by Time Mendees – 4 Stars – Perfect way to end the spooky month. This short story collection from Tim Mendees is twisted and titillating, terrifying and tentacle filled, so naturally I loved it, and highly recommend it. There was something disturbing to take away from each story but my stand out favourites were definitely: * Afterimage – feel the burn – such an intense story and idea. Blinked many times after finishing it. * Mr mannequin – anyone for a tattoo – the creepy crime that made me shiver. * The Face in the Fabric – looking at clothes never seemed so terrifying. So if you like twisted gritty stories about disturbed minds (or insanely normal minds twisted to insanity) and worshippers of the old gods this is the collection for you.
This month I completed ALL of my reading challenges for the month. Which is awesome. I made some sapphic reading challenge videos over on the Hyperactive Bookworm channel. Drop by and take a look, leave a comment, or if you like what you hear/see you can always subscribe.
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 inthe 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.
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.
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.
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.
A huge post here. January has been a big reading month. Which is a great start for the reading challenges I’ve given myself this year. Fair warning, there are some spoilers in some of the reviews, so *SOME SMALL SPOILERS BELOW*
The Queen’s Blade by Natasja Rose – An assassin, a poisoner, a Queen, her inner circle of hand maidens, demi-gods, and a constant presence of those wanting the Queen off of her throne. What more can one ask for? Oh, also a great many Women loving Women characters which always makes this little reader very happy. I finished The Queen’s Blade with a desire for more. Rose’s mastery of setting up the oomph impact of the ending was brilliant and the vulnerability she explores not just in her main characters, Sayfiya and Alexandra, but in many minor characters is beautifully human. I would love to see stories of the minor characters lives. A good read, with some beautiful prose. My favourite part of this book is how Rose sets up power and rips it away with heartbreaking strength. I also enjoyed the unexpected humour that rose it’s head a few times throughout. ‘If she has nothing else, she has the audacity.’ There were a few large chunks of telling that made me beg for just a little more showing, or at least broken up between action a bit more. At times there were A LOT of characters and I struggled to keep up with who everyone was but this tends to be a struggle for this reader when it comes to fantasy. The Queen’s Blade is a short easy read that taps into the emotions of those who love but are often limited. ‘Her voice was calm, in the way of the still air that came before a hurricane.’ (Note: I did a video chat with Natasja Rose on the facebook Les Fiction Book Club page, and will be up soon on my YouTube channel.)
The Funeral Birds by Paula R.C. Readman – I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this read. The murder! Mystery! Mayhem! gave me a very different idea of what this would be. But after the first few pages the humour and tone of the book became obvious. The relationship with the main character and his wife is great. The dialogue is realistic and the dynamics quite cute. The description is spotted throughout the book and seems to reflect the main characters personality, which is a huge tick for me as the book is written in first person. I loved the humour and there was a bit of a Pratchett feel, whether it was an intentional hat tilt or not, I really enjoyed that element. I kept waiting for a bigger reveal, a twist, or a bigger complication to the story line but there just really wasn’t one. I knew how it would end beforehand, the red herrings not entirely convincing for me. It’s a quick easy read, that is enjoyable and fun. While there was no big twist, the pace was perfect.
Hotel Queens by Lee Winter – An ice Queen and a Fire Queen with Lee Winter’s brilliant style and in-need-of-a-cold-shower sex scenes, Hotel Queens more than delivered. The humour and sarcasm, the layers to characters, the effects of caustic family, the emotive language that makes you gasp or laugh or cringe (sometimes all within seconds of each other) are just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended) on the brilliance of Hotel Queens. Secondary characters Quinn and Millie are truly fantastic, sometimes a little too perfect at being the main characters right hands? Or perhaps I’m just dying to see more of them as the main characters, and find the nitty gritty behind their awesomeness. As in true Lee Winter fashion I found myself laughing out loud, both in humour and a little facepalming at times. Some of my favourite lines (it was hard to cut it down from the thirty I highlighted during reading). * Kai wasn’t called The Closer because she sold zippers. * Milly didn’t say a word. But the “we’re screwed” was loud and clear. * Finally Quinn cleared her throat and said. “I’ll leave you two to your eye-sex. I’m going to find Milly.” (Note: This was the second book for the Les Fiction Book Club January. I got to chat with Lee Winter and ask questions about this book and her writing. She’s a fantastic author well worth look up)
Whispers in the Dark by K. B. Elijah – A brilliant short read that had my internal (and sometimes external) dialogue ranting and trying to keep up.
I adore the writing of Whispers in the Dark. The dialogue is smooth and natural and the description is often beautiful even in it’s horrific subject matter. * No spark meant no extinguishment. No hope meant no disappointment. * defanging the vicious bite of time. * It was curious that the complete absence of light invented its own vision.
Speaking Out: A 21st Century Handbook for Women and girls by Tara Moss – My first ever Audio Book and I’m hooked. Tara Moss eloquently discusses cultural and systemic silencing of women and how that is not only in our past but continues to happen today. She gives some incredible and practical advise at how to combat the pressure females still received to shhhh and remain silent. She has used her own voice in calm and intelligent ways, with facts and research to back up her words. With her own experience mixed in with others (who have given her permission to disclose) she helps connect to readers and help them understand, they are not alone. Tara Moss does this without sugar coating the backlash we all might face should we choose to speak out.
Stone Cold Bastards by Jake Bible – I have such a love for Gargoyles. I have been obsessed with them since I was a child so my own experience in reading Stone Cold Bastards might be slightly biased. That being said, this is an incredibly well written story, the world building is phenomenal and the characters are brilliant. It has such a large cast of characters, and yet Jake Bible manages to make them all wonderfully unique enough that I never found myself asking who was who. The description of this apocalyptic second world is breath taking at times. The humour and sarcasm he uses is totally my jam, from the nasty demons to the gargoyle fairies with the sailor mouths.
A Woman Lost by T.B. Markinson – Oh my hell. The urge to smack Lizzie is so strong in this novel, while also giving her a cuddle and hair tussle at the same time. She seems so oblivious to just about everything around her, and yet I am eager to read more of her misadventures in the future. T.B. Markinson is really good at writing characters that make me shake my head at their actions, and yet I love them for their lack of perfection and crazy troubles they usually put themselves in to. I think it captures perfectly, human beings nature to self-sabotage. The writing is wonderful and by the end I really did like Lizzie, no longer in spite of her self centered views but with an understanding of this being the beginning of her growing up. From her bizarre and dysfunctional friendship with Ethan, to her inability to see anything but perfection as worth it, to her family, oh her family … * Ethan giggled as he stirred his coffee. “Talking to you about your family always makes me feel better about my own messed-up family.” * How was that possible? How could two people do something together and have two completely different experiences? * Maddie’s face paled and my stomach flipped. Enter The Scotch-Lady. * I had a hairline fracture. Not even a real break—a wimpy hairline fracture. Just like my wimpy illness.
A Heart this Big by Cheyenne Blue – I laughed so much during this book. A lot of my chuckles came from Nina’s internal dialogue and humour, as she runs Banksia farm. And then, wow we get Leigh Willoughby … the powerhouse lawyer. I am a complete sucker for a good slow burn, and this was brilliant. The interactions are sweet and often amusing … there is a lot of chicken shit involved, and the reasons they can’t be together right away make sense. While there were times it was frustrating, there was always a small glimmer of hope and light at the end of the tunnel which avoided the doom and gloom so many slow burns revel in too long for my liking. I also loved the way everyday things were beautiful and interesting in the way they were written. I wrote an entire blog about my love for this book. The story line was great, and the writing spot on. But what sold me was the landscape and the love of Australia that seeps through every page and wedges itself firmly in my heart. I can’t wait to read more of Cheyenne Blue’s books.
The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins – OH WOW! There is so much about this book I want to go on a raving spree about. I found myself smiling in a whirl of nostalgia while giggling at the late nineties and all that entails. I also found the pressure sit on my chest and make it hard to breath as the characters own trials were so relatable. I remember battling my own sexuality and place in the world at the same time as the characters (slightly different age). The writing is brilliant and the characters are entirely delightful. Molly’s enthusiasm is adorable. She’s a bouncy, energetic, and passionate person who finds common ground with the ice queen herself. Oh, how I crushed on so many lecturers at uni who were so similar to the powerful Carmen. The biggest shock was realising just how long ago 1997 was … surely I’m not really THAT old?!. Brilliant debut novel from Quinn Ivins. I can’t wait to see more of her work.
Winter’s Vindication (An Anthology edited by Abigail Linhardt) – Overall this anthology was good to read, not the best I’ve read but a long way from the worst. Here is my breakdown of the 9 stories: The Silent Tower by Abigail Linhardt – 3.5 Stars – A good story, with some lovely writing. The pace was great, the tension built beautifully. There were a few points where I was confused about who was speaking, but for me I felt like the end didn’t quite tie everything up as well as I would have liked. Still an enjoyable story to read. For I Hear you Calling by C. Murray Hultman – 3 Stars – This story was my least favourite in the collection. The writing was quite beautiful at times, but I felt as though the story itself was more a chapter instead of a short story that stood on it’s own. I got frustrated very quickly with the main character ‘talking to her son’. For Humanity by Christine Watts– 4.5 stars – A great piece, beautiful in story, pace, language use, and character. I was swept up in Lynne’s plight and could not devour it fast enough. The Snow Warrior by Erin Fanning – 4.5 Stars – Such a brilliant spine chilling story. I had goosebumps over my flesh, and absolutely adored the authors way of describing the snowman. Iced by Thaddeus Rutkowski– 3.5 stars – There was nothing wrong with the writing as such, but it read more like a series of journal entries. It felt like nothing ended up happening and while it reminded me a little of 19th literature, I didn’t expect to find a piece like this in this anthology. The Warden’s Game by John M. Floyd – 5 Stars – Brilliant. Everything about this was great. The writing, the characters, the story. Everything pulled me toward the end, which was wonderfully satisfying. The Saviors by David Green – 5 Stars – Another truly brilliant piece of writing. Right from the very first paragraph I wanted to know what was going on. Everything is done with skilled purpose and the pace is entirely spot on. A brilliant futuristic piece with gasps of shock to add to the fun. The descriptions are so perfect for the barren landscape. Freezings Greetings by Derek Power – 5 Stars – This is the most fun and quirky piece. I laughed out loud many times reading this story. I enjoyed the descriptions and Filthy Henry is a fantastic character. I’d love to see more of his adventures in this world that the author has created so brilliantly. Fractured Thinking by Louise Pierce – 3.5 stars – An interesting piece of writing. I wanted to know more though, as though this were merely a preview or trailer to the real story itself. A few questions unanswered and at times unsure who was actually speaking.
Mount Terror by E.L Giles – A brilliant short read to end out the month. Set in the mid 1930’s, Henry Chapelton embarks on a mission to rescue Captain Ernst Land after hearing the man’s last distressed communication. This story is beautifully written and the pace gets your heart racing right along side Henry’s. Several descriptions made me shiver alongside the characters and reading this was, to use Giles’ word from this book, an ‘orgy of madness.’ * It’s strange that sometimes only the most awful and gruesome things have the power to ignite out motivation and push us to work our hardest.
11 books done – 5 that can go toward Jae’s Sapphic reading challenge .. not too shabby 🙂
I’ve only just discovered the beauty of audio books. I take my time in getting acquainted with change. Usually denouncing the change stubbornly until I finally experience it and become they biggest spokes person.
Yesterday I spent a good chunk of my day listening to my latest audiobook, A Heart This Big by Cheyenne Blue. I’m still only three quarters of the way through, so I can’t really give a full review as yet, but oh how this book has effected me already. It’s one of the first books I’ve read that has made me feel nostalgic in the most beautiful way to the landscape of my childhood.
I’ve read emotional books before, where they tear your heart out. But this book is a new level of emotion for me. It’s so beautiful and refreshing to read about Australia and fall back in love with my homeland. There’s no lying about the dusty landscape or the chicken shit, but the way Cheyenne has captured all the things I love about this beautiful country has me smiling and breathing deeper.
Much of what I myself write I have set in QLD, Australia. Because I love this country. Since I began writing I’ve had the discouragements and the downright statements that setting my writing anywhere in Australia will have me fail. I gave in a few time and took out specific town names, and obvious descriptors, and I have to say I’ve not liked the stories nearly as much. So after awhile I flipped the bird to the nay sayers and have continued to set my worlds obviously in this country. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worried at my bottom lip when I’ve sent a manuscript off with the tell tale names and places. But I’ve fallen in love with many overseas places through the words of others, I would love to one day make a reader want to see this country, or to fall in love with their own country.
A Heart This Big also sent me skittering to the kitchen. There is something so inherent in my childhood about cooking. My mum isn’t a big cooker, but my grandma was – possibly the only positive thing I could say about the woman. I danced around the kitchen with my son while I cooked and cleaned, baked, and chopped apples. The apples were to dry, but the smell sent me back to days where I would be at the farm and wander into the house to smell my Gran’s apple pies baking.
I feel like I’ve always appreciated this country, but perhaps the struggles of my childhood have made me forget how much I loved Australia even back then, and the country girl in me is still alive and well.
Thank you Cheyenne for reminding me that this country is beautiful, and always has been.
In a previous post I mention the awesome WLW author Jae and the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 she is running. It’s the most amazing challenge, and the work Jae has done for this is incredible. It shows her generosity not only to her own readers, but for other authors as well.
I recently received an email from Jae advising that my first novella ‘Cold as Hell’ was added to her upcoming recommended reads for the butch/butch category of the Sapphic Reading Challenge. It suits a few other categories as well, but so touched and humbled that she has added it, seeing as it’s not yet released until April.
It’s going to be a crazy wild ride for both reading and writing this year, but I’m looking forward to each book I get to experience, both sapphic and non-sapphic, as well as my own books stepping out into the big wide world.
I’m not sure anyone really expected life to suddenly become perfect but I’m almost certain no one thought 2020 was a shocking calm before the storm. And perhaps it is neither extreme but this first week of 2021 has certainly thrown a spanned in the works.
I don’t want to go into the world at large thing, because we all know the dumpster fire has followed us into the New Year. Locally, we are in a sudden 3 day lockdown, which sounds minimal but I’m not delusional enough to think that after three days life will be great again. Nor will I be shocked if the lockdown is extended, again and again.
On a personal note, things have been a bit rough as well.
Three of the most influential and important women in my life are in dire situations with their health (mum if you are reading this, you are NOT allowed to get sick) one has even been given the devastating prognosis of approximately 6 weeks.
Last night when I learned this I sobbed into my partners shoulder and felt a crushing pain in my chest. I cried myself to sleep and have woken sadden but aware that if I were to let this stop me grabbing everyday and doing what I can with it, she would not only kick my arse but damn what a disrespect that would be. The sadness remains but along with that, I have the memories and light of her being in my life.
So what has 2021 offered so far to help light the rough days ahead. I have finally got this blog up and running properly and have my website good to go. I am working on finally getting my newsletter happening, and I’m so excited about it. I have a short story I am itching to give away to all subscribers and have the most beautiful cover made by the incredibly talented Pamela Jeffs. Her writing is mind blowing and her cover designs (a hobby she says) are truly stunning.
Reading: I’ve embarked on a very optimistic goodreads reading challenge for 2021 of 100 books. Last year I managed 61 in the end and thought that incredible, but what’s a challenge if you aren’t pushing yourself beyond what you already know you can do. In these 100 books I’m also working on the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 created by the incredibly awesome and talented Jae.
I’m aiming for the dragon level 1 badge (1 book from each 50 categories) AND the bonus unicorn badge (10 of the 12 category). If you want to up your reading challenge and embark on some sapphic reading, and perhaps find new authors and categories then go take a look. There are many levels of badges, for all levels of readers.
I finished my first book The Queen’s Blade by Natasha Rose and am almost half way through Hotel Queens by Lee Winter. Both books are featured on the Les Fiction Book Club Facebook group this month. There will be author interviews, Q&A’s, and discussion at the end of the month. I’m also hoping to get some quick video reviews done as well.
Writing: I finished my first full draft rewrite of Gargoyles, a dystopian novella I’m hoping to submit to a publisher by the end of February. I’ve almost finished my last read through of The Void for the Publishers deadline of the end of the month. I have also, with the help of my lovely partner, set up a writing space in our office. It’s so pretty and exciting.
So I hope you are all staying safe, and I’d love to hear if you’re doing any reading challenges this year, or any other challenges you are embarking on in 2021.
I only managed 4 books this month, but I think that’s a pretty fair effort considering the craziness this month has been, even with the CoVid19 limitations. I’m embarking on doing more in-depth reviews … which has turned out to have a few spoilers … but I think I’ve marked the spoilers before I dive in and leave you unprepared.
Mirrorverse by Pamela Jeffs – Pamela Jeffs is a master of words and emotions. She has an incredible skill at pulling you directly into another world with just a few beautifully structured and emotive sentences. Mirrorverse is a brilliant example of the extreme talent and skill Jeffs has to offer with her writing.
Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon – What can I say, I’m a complete sucker for Clare Lydon’s wit, humour, and fabulous writing. There were some true laugh out loud moments, and a few lines that made me go pwhhaaaa at the emotional punch. It’s definitely a brilliant read to help you get into the shiny, sparkly Christmas feel … even if (or perhaps especially if) you are sweating in Australia and wishing to run through the Christmas tree farm in your shorts and singlet. Get in the festive season mood with another great romance from Clare Lydon.
The Setup by T.B Markinson – The setup is a delicious story from T.B Markinson. T.B Markinson has created characters that are complicated and real, even the ones you never meet. It was a bit of a shock to get into the story so quickly, being used to reading Markinson’s longer reads, but once I got over that it was all good. I just adore the main character, Rory, to bits. The story is told from Rory’s point of view, an American moved to London for a two year work contract.
Her thoughts are adorable and her energy and buzz is infectious. Banter, as always, is top notch and the sex scenes are steamy and natural. It was again a shock when the book ended, because I wanted so much more. I’d love to read more of this world and get to meet some of the off the page characters. Some favourite laugh out loud lines: Couple my blunder with her one-word answer, and I had the urge to stand up and say, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to make a first impression. Can you point out where I went wrong? Let’s learn from this together.” They tried to understand, but it was like explaining space travel to Jane Austen. Or so I imagined. My expression hopefully conveyed my second language was lunatic.
Under a Falling Star by Jae – So pretend there are big huge flashing signs screaming spoilers … because I’ve tried to minimise the spoilers but can’t do it. So here goes. The good: oh my, this list is long. But I’ll put down my top points. From the brilliant ice Queen to the cursing cockatoo, the characters of Under a Falling Star were deep and complicated. The smoothness of writing and the story both make the entire book so easy to read. I’m also in love with Jae’s ability to create tension without the often overly frustrating and dramatic let’s break up because we don’t have one simple (although emotionally difficult) conversation that would clear up all miscommunications. The conversations especially at the start show perfectly that twisted inside where your tongue fights every word, but it flows to a natural rhythm of the story, without any questions of why didn’t they just … A special note to Jae’s use of humour, it wasn’t on every page but I found myself cackle a few times particularly from the cockatoo: On her way to the door, she blew Toby a kiss. “Wish me luck.” “Fuck you,” the cockatoo warbled. And the ice Queen herself as she began to thaw: The thought made her roll her eyes at herself. Oh, come on. What’s up with all this sappiness? The bad: So this is only my personal preference, but damn I wanted to see Austen’s character flaw. She was a little perfect for me, and yet I still somehow adored her, I just feel like showing a weakness would have been nice. The magnificent: my favourite part of this book, without a doubt is the realistic changes and fundamental lack of changes in characters. Dee, the Ice Queen is still damn terrifying to those who have to deal with her wrath, even if she has learned to say please. Her hideous family still remain stuck in their ways and rejections, and don’t simply change overnight because their daughter stood up to their shitty abuse. Bonus question (if you can explain this adequately you get a cookie): How else do you pronounce Austen if not like the famous author?