Book Haul – 20 to 26 December 2020

Hey book nerds! I hope you’re well.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was as good as it could be, despite whatever COVID restrictions you’re currently living with. If you don’t celebrate it, happy final weekend of 2020. Christmas with my family is always pretty subdued but this year it was even more low key.

I carried a double dose of cervical headache and occipital neuralgia with me from Christmas Eve, so spent much of the day laying very still in a quiet room. Someone wished me a restful Christmas when I spoke to them on Christmas Eve so I’m holding them partially responsible. 😜

I did manage a very short walk on the beach with my mother late in the afternoon, followed by a Macca’s chocolate sundae (because chocolate makes everything better), so it ended much better than it started.

I almost didn’t get to do a book haul post this week because there was no hauling. Santa didn’t bring me any books, although I did manage to find one on sale late last night. So, it’s slim book acquisition pickings this week.

We had a great light show here last night. A storm came through around dinner time but the lightning lingered in the distance for hours. I was up watching it at 3am and it was gorgeous. The clouds that preceded the storm were amazing!

Song of the Week: For some reason I haven’t been able to get MILCK’s Quiet out of my head all week.

Word of the Week: boondoggle. “An unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project.” (from lexico.com)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: A Promised Land, a read outside of my comfort zone.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The latest novel in the bestselling World’s Scariest Places series takes you to the historic Hotel Chelsea in New York City. Many people consider it a cauldron of creativity due to the numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors who have called it home over the years. But it is perhaps best known for being one of the most haunted places in in the country …

When a magazine reporter is tasked with writing a story about the Hotel Chelsea’s never-ending renovations, he befriends some of the hotel’s eccentric characters. As the days go by, and he experiences increasingly abnormal events in his life, he begins to wonder if there’s more to the Hotel Chelsea, and its residents, than meets the eye.


Book Haul – 13 to 19 December 2020

Hey book nerds!

It probably looks like I’ve barely opened a book this week, having only finished a picture book and gift book. I’ve been slowly working my way through Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and it’s a serious commitment. Between the 700+ pages and the detailed descriptions of all things political, it’s taking me a very long time to get through it. Hopefully I’ll have it finished by Christmas, all going well.

I finally managed to see Vienna Teng perform in concert this week. It was my second online concert and it was magic! I thought I’d never have the opportunity to see her play live and although I missed the atmosphere of sitting in a room with hundreds of other fans, it was so much better than I’d dared to hope it would be.

I’ve been to some concerts where it’s obvious how much finessing has been done to a singer’s voice to make it sound like it does on their CD. This wasn’t the case with Vienna: the stunning voice you hear on the CD is just as beautiful in concert.

I may be the only person in the world that does this but when I’m really looking forward to a concert a really weird thing happens. I think it’s the music touching me in a similar way watching the ocean or seeing a baby animal for the first time does, but while I feel the emotion of all of them, music alone makes me cry.

I’m barely even aware I’m doing it because it’s not an ugly, sobbing cry; it’s more a growing awareness that I have tears streaming down my face. While I’m usually all cried out by the end of the third song in most concerts, I cried for the entire first half of this one, as well as the final three or four songs. Pretty much whenever she played a song that I desperately wanted to see her play live. Yes, I’m a weirdo. I admit it.

I may have been somewhat dehydrated by the end but I had the most marvellous time. While there’s no way all of my favourite Vienna songs could have made it into the lineup (there are simply too many), almost every song she played was one of my favourites.

Meredith Peruzzi, the ASL interpreter you can see in the bottom right corner of my screenshots, did a brilliant job. She also seemed to be having a great time, looking like she was grooving along to the music.

The standout for me was Vienna’s new song. I’ve been hankering for some new Vienna music for years and it was incredible. I can’t do it justice by trying to explain it but I’ll give it a go anyway: she sang a song in two parts then layered the two into a single song. So it was like hearing three versions of the same song and the two parts being sung at once (technology helped here) shouldn’t have worked but it did. I really hope that when her next CD is released it includes all three versions of this song. It’s called We’ve Got You.

Vienna also did a cover of MILCK’s Somebody’s Beloved, which was one of the many songs I cried through.

Song of the Week: Level Up by Vienna Teng. I’d been listening to this song a lot in the week before the concert.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet – or as safe – as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980’s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed – violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumours. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.


An evil force pulses deep within Malpas Abbey, overflowing with maniacal glee …

Overlooking a dark hill, the gloomy Malpas Abbey has been avoided by locals for centuries. Its infamous history is marred with blood and terror. Only the foolish would dare enter such a place, where devilish hauntings have left a string of dead bodies in its wake.

Just as the building is about to be permanently closed, things take an unexpected turn. An American television crew shows up, hoping to investigate the source of the structure’s paranormal activity. Led by producer Matt McKay and paranormal expert Ted Gould, the hapless bunch enter the confines of the hellish residence only to discover that they are in way over their heads.

As the group tries to make sense of the strange occurrences, they soon realise that the cellar might be the key to unlocking the mystery. Inside lies a stone altar that emanates with the evil strength of the Devil himself, feeding upon the crew members’ worst nightmares. 

With the ominous cloud hanging over them, they realise that there’s much more at stake than a disruption in filming. The only hope for survival rests on Ted, Matt and his crew’s ability to find their way out of the darkness, before the house devours them, capturing all the gory details on camera …


NetGalley

A speedy squirrel and a sleepy sloth try to get the job done in this funny, heartwarming tale of two lovable, but unlikely, friends.

Though Sloth and Squirrel are good friends, they have different ways of doing things – and different speeds of doing them. So, when Squirrel gets them jobs as pickle packers to earn money for a new bike, things don’t go according to plan. It seems that the contrasting skill sets of a fast-as-lightening squirrel and a slow-as-molasses sloth can make for a mess of an outcome, and before long, the friends are shown the pickle factory’s door, along with the 677 1/2 jars of pickles they packed incorrectly! Now the pair are bicycle-less, with only pickles to show for themselves. Or so they think – until the resourceful pair come up with an ingenious plan!

This delightful story from Cathy Ballou Mealey is a celebration of friendships of all kinds and a testament to ingenuity and hard work. Packed with funny details that aren’t in the text, Kelly Collier’s engaging illustrations are full of personality and silly, emotionally expressive humour. Together they create a hilarious picture book that’s perfect for a fun and lively read-aloud. At the same time, the positive themes in the book highlight a growth mindset and character education lessons on teamwork, perseverance and initiative.

Book Haul – 6 to 12 December 2020

Hey book nerds! How was your week?

Rather than the usual book haul, this week was more ‘I bought a book’. Just the one.

I attended my first concert in 6 years this week. You definitely miss out on the atmosphere when you listen to a concert online but there are also some pluses. The people who annoy you by talking through your favourite song or blocking your view by constantly shifting in their seat or standing in front of you when everyone else is sitting? They’re annoying people in their house, not yours. Also, you’ll probably get the best concert photos you’ll ever take and you don’t even have to sneak your camera past security.

My next concert is Vienna Teng. With the time difference I’m pretty sure it starts about 6am tomorrow for me. Since that’s prime sleeping time I think I’ll have to watch the replay instead and pretend I’m watching it live.

Song of the Week: Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin

Word of the Week: decorum, “behaviour that people consider to be correct, polite, and respectable” (from Collins Dictionary).

Bookish Highlight of the Week: Kristy’s Great Idea. Kristy Thomas was the one who introduced me to this week’s word and it was one of the first words I looked up in the dictionary as I was reading, something I do all of the time now. I’ve been planning a BSC binge for years. Given how many books there actually are, it’s likely to be more of a marathon but I’ve started.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Sinister forces gather in Duck Falls. Soon, this small American town will become a battleground for the future of humanity.

Six months after the “Ghostland Disaster,” Duck Falls has become a reluctant tourist trap, and a new home to the activist group Ghosts Are People Too. When the Return to Ghostland televised event ends in yet another tragedy, ghosts once again fall under scrutiny … along with the effectiveness of the Recurrence Field.

Away at college, survivor Lilian Roth has discovered she’s able to communicate with spirits. She and her best friend, Ben Laramie, use the skills they’ve acquired to free ghosts from their hauntings.

But Rex Garrote, the mastermind behind the Ghostland Disaster, is raising an army of ghosts to slaughter every living person on Earth. Left with no choice but to fight, Ben and Lilian must recruit their own army of freed ghosts, and prepare them for war.

Will it be enough to save the world?


Book Haul – 29 November to 5 December 2020

Hey book nerds! I hope you’ve had a fantastic week!

My TBR pile has been spending the better part of this week silently judging me. I live with cervical headaches and occipital neuralgia as a result of a car accident ten years ago. This week they both showed up together and they were doozies. So rather than finishing all of the books I wanted to, most of my time was spent keeping my head as still as possible and not thinking because it hurt too much. Hopefully next week I’ll have more reading days.

Also related to the car accident and newly relevant this week is my love of concerts. I used to attend concerts all the time and even followed Tori Amos’ tour around Australia one time. The last concert I managed to attend was in Sydney over five years ago. I remember laying in the grass near the train station opposite the Opera House bawling my eyes out because I was in too much pain to move and I’d been looking forward to the concert so much. I did eventually make it but I had to take so many painkillers to be able to sit upright that the entire concert is a blur.

So, on to why this is relevant now. I never thought I’d be able to attend another concert but thanks to 2020 (I found one good thing about this year for me) there are now online concerts. I got an email this morning telling me about Vienna Teng’s upcoming concert and I can’t wait! While I was signing up for that one I also found out there’s a Patty Griffin one. So I’ll be able to attend two concerts, both for women I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see live, in the next week! If you’re interested in attending either concert with me, you can buy tickets here.

The beach has been amazing this week. I got to watching a storm out at sea and another day I investigated one of the tracks I’ve never been on before. I assumed that once you had made it through the sand dunes you would come to a car park but it was so much more interesting than that. It was like being in another world, one that led to a swamp. I was so impressed!

There were even a few places along the trail where people have left accommodations for faeries. My photos of those didn’t turn out that well so I will make sure to take a better camera with me next time I visit.

Word of the Week: Pyrrhic victory, “a victory or goal achieved at too great a cost” (from Dictionary.com). Okay, so this week’s word is actually two but I learned this phrase this week and it applies to a decision I need to make in the very near future. I really liked this article that explains where this term comes from.

Bookish Highlight of the Week: My signed bookplate for Alix Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches arrived in the mail! I was one of only 100 people worldwide that managed to snag one. On par with my excitement about actually receiving one was the realisation that Alix personally addressed the envelope it came in. There’s something slightly surreal and entirely wonderful about gettIng mail from one of your favourite authors.

Recent Reads:


Book Mail

Wolf Girl and her trusty dogs are back for another hackle-raising adventure.

On the run from sinister forces, Gwen rushes head-long into danger. With giant snakes, komodo dragons and a whole new wolf pack to contend with, Wolf Girl will need all her cunning … and all her friends.


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously rereading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise boring and safe childhoods.

But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.


Book Haul – 22 to 28 November 2020

I’m going to be hanging out with the air conditioner this weekend. It’s currently 38 degrees and the forecast for tomorrow is 43! That’s 109.4 for those you of you who think in Fahrenheit. So, rather than face the melting tar and burning beach sand, I’m planning on reading until about Monday when it gets back to my kind of weather.

I finally met the new magpie baby on Wednesday. I’ve got better photos of the baby by itself but this is the whole family. We’ve known Mama for years and she’s one of my favourite birds. She has attitude but is also a sweetheart. She lets us know she’s in by jumping on the kitchen windowsill; if we don’t acknowledge her in what she deems an appropriate amount of time, she’ll either tap on the window with her beak or start squawking at us. She loves being hand fed and makes a purring noise when she’s happy. Buddy is her new partner. Papa relocated with their two babies from last season.

From top to bottom: Bub, Buddy, Mama

Word of the Week: Tsundoku, which definitely doesn’t relate to me at all. 😜

Bookish Highlight of the Week: Black Friday sales! The one I want to highlight is the Undertow Publications eBook sale. Every eBook is currently $1 (USD) and the bonus is that you get cheap books and you get to help feed people!

The sale is still active at the time I’m publishing this post but I don’t know how much longer you have to take advantage of it. If you click on the image below it will take you to Undertow Publications.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E. 

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat … but I knew I had to carry on. 

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots. 

We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.

In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.


Super fans. Groupies. Stalkers.

These people will give anything for the idols they worship, be they rock stars, actors or authors. Or even serial killers.

Lori is just such a fanatic. Her obsession is with Edmund Cox, a man of sadistic cruelty who butchered more than twenty women. She’s gone so far as to forge a relationship with him, visiting him in prison and sending him letters on a regular basis. She will do anything to get close to him, so when he gives her a task, she eagerly accepts it.

She has no idea of the horror that awaits her.

Edmund tells her she must go to his cabin in the woods of Killen and retrieve a key to deliver to a mysterious figure known only as The River Man.

In her quest, she brings along her handicapped sister, and they journey through the deep, dark valley, beginning their trip upriver. The trip quickly becomes a surreal nightmare, one that digs up Lori’s personal demons, the ones she feels bonds her to Edmund. The river runs with flesh, the cabin is a vault of horrors, and ghostly blues music echoes through the mountains. Soon they will learn that The River Man is not quite fact or folklore, and definitely not human – at least, not anymore. And the key is just the beginning of what is required of Lori to prove she’s worthy of a madman’s love.


The staggeringly brilliant and astonishing debut collection by powerful stylist Sunny Moraine. A heady stew of dark fantasy, dystopia, terror, and transcendence. “Sex, oddity, horror, transfiguration: Sunny Moraine’s stories cut straight through to the heart of even the most complicated concepts, turning words inside out with truly offensive skill, wringing them for every last scrap of beautiful terror. They will make readers want to write and writers want to stop writing, on the grounds that any idea they might have has demonstrably been done before, and far better.” – Gemma Files, Author of Experimental Film


Acclaimed author Kathe Koja brings her expert eye and editorial sense to the second volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. Contributing authors include Julio Cortazar, Jean Muno, Karen Joy Fowler, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nick Mamatas, Carmen Maria Machado, Nathan Ballingrud, and more.

No longer the purview of esoteric readers, weird fiction is enjoying wide popularity. Chiefly derived from early 20th-century pulp fiction, its remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and a healthy helping of the outre. At its best, weird fiction is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the Laws of Nature. It is not confined to one genre, but is the most diverse and welcoming of all genres.


Dark Miracles. Black Comedies. In an astonishing debut collection of short stories, Eric Schaller invites you to unlock the gates of horn, to ascend the bridge of sighs, and to meet him in the middle of the air. There you’ll encounter Edgar Allan Poe cavorting with Marilyn Monroe; intimate insects and blood red roses; apes and automata; and urban witches, parasites, and zombies. Explore the secret nightlife of the Oscar Wildes. Join the Sparrow Mumbler onstage. March in the menagerie of madness and mayhem. Just don’t look down because all that’s holding you aloft is … air.


Edited by Simon Strantzas, “Aickman’s Heirs” is an anthology of strange, weird tales by modern visionaries of weird fiction, in the milieu of Robert Aickman, the master of strange and ambiguous stories. Editor and author Strantzas, an important figure in Weird fiction, has been hailed as the heir to Aickman’s oeuvre, and is ideally suited to edit this exciting volume. Featuring all-original stories from Brian Evenson, Lisa Tuttle, John Langan, Helen Marshall, Michael Cisco, and others.


Showcasing the finest weird fiction from 2015, Volume 3 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction is our biggest and most ambitious volume to date. 
Acclaimed editors Simon Strantzas and Michael Kelly bring their keen editorial sensibilities to the third volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. The best weird stories of 2015 features work from Robert Aickman, Matthew M. Bartlett, Sadie Bruce, Nadia Bulkin, Ramsey Campbell, Brian Conn, Brian Evenson, L.S. Johnson, Rebecca Kuder, Tim Lebbon, Reggie Oliver, Lynda E. Rucker, Robert Shearman, Christopher Slatsky, D.P. Watt, Michael Wehunt, Marian Womack and Genevieve Valentine.

No longer the purview of esoteric readers, weird fiction is enjoying wide popularity. Chiefly derived from early 20th-century pulp fiction, its remit includes ghost stories, the strange and macabre, the supernatural, fantasy, myth, philosophical ontology, ambiguity, and a healthy helping of the outre. At its best, weird fiction is an intersecting of themes and ideas that explore and subvert the Laws of Nature. It is not confined to one genre, but is the most diverse and welcoming of all genres. 


The stunning new collection of weird fiction from visionary writer D.P. Watt. The foolish wisdom of forlorn puppets. A diabolical chorus in many voices. Shadowy shapes emerging from the strange blueness. Dreamers of other truths. The delicate craft of filial love. You – and some other you. Creatures in the hedgerows. Cold rime creeping across darkened windows. The numinous night pool. A hive of pain. These and other nightmares await.

DP Watt has real talent. It touches on and reflects the world we know, but as in a glass darkly.” – Reggie Oliver


A brilliant new short story collection from award-winning writer and editor Conrad Williams, featuring two brand new short stories and previously uncollected work. A devastating and profoundly moving collection that explores the tangled skein and woven bones of the human condition that surrounds us. Intricate, intimate, and shocking. A masterpiece.


The enthralling new short story collection from acclaimed writer Mike O’Driscoll, featuring the powerful and moving original novellas ‘The Dream Operator,’ and ‘Beasts of Season.’ Unflinching, uncompromising, and unforgettable. Featuring a heady mix of horror, crime, noir, fantasy, and the supernatural, O’Driscoll draws you in and doesn’t let go.


Showcasing the finest weird fiction published 2016, Volume 4 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction is our biggest and most ambitious volume to date.

Acclaimed editors Helen Marshall and Michael Kelly bring their editorial acumen to the fourth volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. The best weird stories of 2016 features work from Dale Bailey, Gary Budden, Octavia Cade, Indrapramit Das, Malcolm Devlin, Jeffrey Ford, Camilla Grudova, Daisy Johnson, Katie Knoll, Usman T. Malik, Sam J. Miller, Irenosen Okojie, Aki Schilz, Johanna Sinisalo, and Sarah Tolmie.


The debut short story collection from acclaimed U.K. writer Priya Sharma, “All the Fabulous Beasts,” collects 16 stunning and monstrous tales of love, rebirth, nature, and sexuality. A heady mix of myth and ontology, horror and the modern macabre.


Showcasing the finest weird fiction published in 2017, Volume 5 of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction is the final, triumphant volume in the acclaimed series. Editors Robert Shearman and Michael Kelly bring their knowledge and skill to this fifth and final volume of the Year’s Best Weird Fiction. 


Nothing is Everything is the masterful new collection from acclaimed Canadian author Simon Strantzas. With elegant craftsmanship Strantzas delicately weaves a disquieting narrative through eerie and unexpected landscapes, charting an uncanny course through territories both bleak and buoyant, while further cementing his reputation as one of the finest practitioners of strange tales.


This House of Wounds is the devastating debut short story collection from British Fantasy Award-winning author Georgina Bruce. Haunting and visceral tales for the lost and the lonely. An emotional and riveting debut, with 4 brand new stories.


British Fantasy Award-winning author, and Shirley Jackson Award finalist, Laura Mauro delivers a remarkable debut collection of startling short fiction. Dark tales of beauty, strangeness, and transformation told in prose as precise and sparing as a surgeon’s knife. A major talent! Featuring “Looking for Laika,” winner of the British Fantasy Award.


Distilled through the occluded lens of weird fiction, Michael Kelly’s third collection of strange tales is a timely and cogent examination of grief, love, identity, abandonment, homelessness, and illness. All cut through with a curious, quiet menace and uncanny melancholy.


“Shadows & Tall Trees is a smart, soulful, illuminating investigation of the many forms and tactics available to those writers involved in one of our moment’s most interesting and necessary projects, that of opening up horror literature to every sort of formal interrogation. It is a beautiful and courageous series.” – Peter Straub

“Shadows & Tall Trees epitomises the idea of and is the most consistent venue for weird, usually dark fiction. Well worth your time.” – Ellen Datlow


Welcome to Richard Gavin’s “grotesquerie,” where fear and faith converge in eerie and nightmarish tales of transcendent horror from a truly visionary writer. The highly anticipated new collection of macabre delights, that explores dark realms of the fevered, fecund mind, and visits strange landscapes and vistas. These are grim and grotesque tales of terror – modern Mysterium Tremendums – that open new doors of perception and reality.


Welcome to the new pulp! Weird Horror magazine is a new venue for fiction, articles, reviews, and commentary. We expect to publish twice-yearly. Long live the new pulp!

FICTION: Shikhar Dixit; Steve Duffy; Inna Effress; John Langan; Suzan Palumbo; Ian Rogers; Naben Ruthnum; and Steve Toase.

NON-FICTION: Tom Goldstein; Orrin Grey; Lysette Stevenson; and Simon Strantzas.

COVER ART: Sam Heimer

INTERIOR ART: David Bowman; and Nathaniel Winter-Hebert

DESIGN: Vince Haig; and Nathaniel Winter-Hebert


Book Haul – 15 to 21 November 2020

It was my Mum’s birthday this week and the book I preordered for her, which was released six days before her birthday, hasn’t been posted yet. Thanks, 2020! I told her it looks as though she’ll be getting it for Christmas instead, but this is me we’re talking about. I’m likely to give it to her straight out of the letterbox, whatever date it arrives.

I ended up having a non-fiction week, covering some heavy topics. After tackling domestic abuse and sexual assault, I made it to the Holocaust. So it’s fairly likely you’ll be seeing some children’s book reviews from me next week.

There have been so many gorgeous beach days this week so I went for as many walks as possible. Strangely enough, on three beach walks in the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen Santa. While they’re probably work Christmas parties I’m seeing, with Santa and a bunch of adults hanging out near the sand dunes, I’m not ruling out any possibilities. If you’d like to give me your wish list, I’ll be sure to pass it along. 😜

Our ravens brought their baby to meet me for the first time and it was so cute! I’ve seen our magpies’ baby in a tree across the road but it hasn’t made it into our yard yet. Our noisy miner babies are all feeding themselves now, although they still squark to be fed whenever an adult is nearby. I haven’t seen any kookaburra, currawong or butcher bird babies this season but they may just be fashionably late.

Word of the Week: Komorebi, “the Japanese expression for the sunlight as it filters through the trees, is made up of the kanji characters for tree (木), shine through (漏れ), and sun (日).” (quote and image from Culture Trip)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: For the third week in a row, Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do was my bookish highlight. I finally finished it and can say with confidence that it’s the best book about domestic abuse I’ve ever read. I also found out this week that there’s going to be a related three part SBS documentary airing in Australia in 2021. Although I know for sure it’s going to be brutal watching, with heartbreaking stories and likely some ugly crying from me, I am really looking forward to it. Anyway, I promise to find a new bookish highlight next week but you should really read Jess’ book.

Recent Reads:


Book Mail

Despite its humble origins, there is no more challenging or physically dangerous teen sport in the world than cheerleading. Cheerleaders are seriously injured and even killed at a higher rate than other high school sports. Their stunts are performed in skimpy uniforms without the benefit of proper safety equipment … and yet they love them, glittery eyeshadow, spirit bows, and all.

And then there are the Fighting Pumpkins, who take that injury rate as a challenge. Students of Johnson’s Crossing High School, they answer to a higher calling than the pyramid and the basket toss, pursuing the pep rally that is rising up against mysteries and monsters, kicking gods with the pointed toes of professional athletes chasing a collegiate career.

Meet Jude, half-vampire squad leader; Laurie, who can compel anyone to do as she asks; Heather, occasionally recreationally dead; Marti, strong enough to provide a foundation for any stunt; Colleen, who knows the rule book so well she may as well have written it; and Steph, who may or may not be the goddess of the harvest. The rest of the squad is ready to support them, and braced for the chaos of the big game, which may have a big body count. Prepare to jump high, yell loud, and look pretty with the Fighting Pumpkins, those glorious girls in the orange and green, whose high kicks could still be enough to save the world.

And if they’re not, it isn’t going to be for lack of trying.

Dying with Her Cheer Pants On includes three stories appearing for the first time anywhere: “Tryouts,” “Trial by Fire,” and “Compete Me.”


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

I didn’t buy any Kindle books this week. How is that even possible?! Oh, wait. Does it count if you had to buy the Kindle version of your book mail so you don’t accidentally hurt your signed, limited edition copy? Because if it does, I may have bought one Kindle book this week.

NetGalley

A Turtle’s Guide to Introversion is a delightful illustrated gift book that celebrates the wonderful qualities of introverts through the everyday adventures of a turtle.

Being an introvert comes with numerous advantages and the occasional woe, and no animal knows that better than the humble turtle hiding in its shell. This book celebrates introverts and their many wonderful, often-underrated qualities. 

Perfect for introverts and extroverts who are secretly introverts. And for those who likes turtles.


Book Haul – 8 to 14 November 2020

I hope you had a better reading week than I did. I only finished one book, just like last week. I’ve still been reading each day but my ability to concentrate has diminished greatly recently. Here’s hoping next week will be more productive.

Word of the Week: panacea, “a remedy for all disease or ills; cure-all”. (from Collins Dictionary)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: For the second week, my bookish highlight has been Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do. I’ve almost finished it and I’ve learned so much. I want everyone to read this one.

Recent Read:


Book Mail

An original young adult novel of the Alien universe.

Olivia and her twin sister Viola have been dragged around the universe for as long as they can remember. Their parents, both xenobiologists, are always in high demand for their research into obscure alien biology.

Just settled on a new colony world, they discover an alien threat unlike anything they’ve ever seen. And suddenly the sisters’ world is ripped apart.

On the run from terrifying aliens, Olivia’s knowledge of xenobiology and determination to protect her sister are her only weapons as the colony collapses into chaos. But then a shocking family secret bursts open – one that’s as horrifying to Olivia as the aliens surrounding them.

The creatures infiltrate the rich wildlife on this virgin colony world – and quickly start adapting. Olivia’s going to have to adapt, too, if she’s going to survive …


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

A recurrent, unidentifiable noise in her apartment. A memo to her boss that’s replaced by obscene insults. Amanda – a successful architect in a happy marriage – finds her life going off kilter by degrees. She starts smoking again, and one night for no reason, without even the knowledge that she’s doing it, she burns her husband with a cigarette. At night she dreams of a beautiful woman with pointed teeth on the shore of a blood-red sea.

The new voice in Amanda’s head, the one that tells her to steal things and talk to strange men in bars, is strange and frightening, and Amanda struggles to wrest back control of her life. Is she possessed by a demon, or is she simply insane? 


The first body is a mystery. She’s young. She’s beautiful. And her corpse, laid out in the office of Boston medical examiner Kat Novak, betrays no secrets – except for a notebook clutched in one stiff hand, seven numbers scrawled inside. 

The next body is a warning. When a second victim is discovered, Kat begins to fear that a serial killer is stalking the city streets: a shadowy madman without mercy or apparent motive. The police are skeptical. The mayor won’t listen. And Kat’s chief suspect is one of the city’s most prominent citizens. 

The final body … might be hers. With the death toll rising, Kat races to expose a deadly conspiracy and the brutal killer at its heart – a killer who will stalk her from the dangerous streets of the inner city to the corridors of power. Because he’s closer than she ever dreamt. And every move she makes could be her very last.


Book Haul – 1 to 7 November 2020

Despite the best of intentions, I only read one book this week. I, like so many others, have experienced election anxiety for the first time in my life. I’m usually someone who avoids any talk of politics and limits the amount of news I’m exposed to because it only serves to bring me down. This week? I’ve found myself refreshing my newsfeed every other minute to see if anyone had finally called it. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be living in America right now.

I managed to drag myself away from my newsfeed long enough to go to the beach the day after we had a downpour. The foam in the waves was the weirdest colour; almost like iced coffee. I spent about half an hour simply watching the waves come in, absolutely fascinated by its consistency. It reminded me a bit of the slime in Ghostbusters II. As it made its way across the sand it was folding over on itself, looking almost alive.

Sorry about the quality of the photos. I only had my nine year old phone with me. Its battery does as it pleases so I was lucky it didn’t decide to shut down on me after the first photo.

I kinda like the photo below though because it shows the difference in colour between the dry sand, wet sand and the foam. You can’t really tell in the photo but the sparkly bits in the foam were little bubbles of shimmering rainbows.

Word of the Week: halcyon. “The word halcyon comes from a story in Greek mythology about the halcyon bird, which had the power to calm the rough ocean waves every December so she could nest. Like those calm waters, halcyon has come to mean a sense of peace or tranquility. People often use the phrase halcyon days to refer idyllically to a calmer, more peaceful time in their past.” (from vocabulary.com)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: I’ve started reading Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do and it’s a real eye opener.

Recent Read:


Book Mail

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters – James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna – join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?


At the office of Safe Steps, Victoria’s dedicated 24/7 family violence response call centre, phone counsellors receive a call every three minutes. Many women are repeat callers: on average, they will go back to an abusive partner eight times before leaving for good.

‘You must get so frustrated when you think a woman’s ready to leave and then she decides to go back,’ I say.

‘No,’ replies one phone counsellor, pointedly. ‘I’m frustrated that even though he promised to stop, he chose to abuse her again.’

Women are abused or killed by their partners at astonishing rates: in Australia, almost 17 per cent of women over the age of fifteen – one in six – have been abused by an intimate partner.

In this confronting and deeply researched account, journalist Jess Hill uncovers the ways in which abusers exert control in the darkest – and most intimate – ways imaginable. She asks: What do we know about perpetrators? Why is it so hard to leave? What does successful intervention look like?

What emerges is not only a searing investigation of the violence so many women experience, but a dissection of how that violence can be enabled and reinforced by the judicial system we trust to protect us.

Combining exhaustive research with riveting storytelling, See What You Made Me Do dismantles the flawed logic of victim-blaming and challenges everything you thought you knew about domestic and family violence.


Welcome to the Ballador Country House Hotel. Nestled in the highlands of Scotland, it is unlike any other lodging. Guests can expect wonderful scenery, gourmet food, and horrifying nightmares – guaranteed. Daring travellers pay thousands to stay within the Ballador’s infamous rooms because of the vivid and frightening dreams the accommodations inspire.

Before Josephine Teversham committed suicide, she made a reservation at the hotel for her husband, Australian magnate Victor Teversham. Once he arrives at the hotel, Victor finds himself the target of malevolent forces, revealing the nightmares – and their purpose – to be more strange, personal, and deadly than anyone could have guessed. 


In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. 

If they are awakened, and the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. 

The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. 

Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?


Book Haul – 25 to 31 October 2020

Halloween has been a subdued celebration this year. Although Halloween isn’t as big a deal in Australia as it is in America (I had to explain what trick-or-treating was to some neighbours when I was a kid) we have participated every year. Until now.

My heart broke a little when I had to tell a sweet young girl and her father that we weren’t participating this year. You just keep finding new ways to suck, COVID! To be fair, the father and daughter were entirely fine with it and I made sure to tell them to come back next year but I’m feeling a bit like I suck right now.

I plan to make myself feel better by introducing Mum to Halloween 4 tonight.

In happier news, my blog is now 6 months old! It’s been a weird year (to say the least) but starting this blog, after years of thinking about it, has been one of the highlights of 2020 for me. I love being able to share my bookish thoughts with you.

The rain that was promised this week actually showed up and it was amazing! One of my favourite things is a rain/coffee/book combo. I didn’t get as much reading done as I’d hoped (curse you, paperwork!) but it was still a good week.

I saw the duck family again and the ducklings looked like they’d grown, even though I only saw them for the first time about a week ago. I also managed to get a couple of walks on the beach in between the rain.

Word of the Week: quixotic. “Extremely idealistic; unrealistic and impractical.” (from lexico.com)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: It’s my mother’s birthday in a couple of weeks and one of our traditions is book buying. While I get her age appropriate books as well, I always try to find a picture book she’d like. She now owns pretty much all of the Grug and Clifford books. This year a new book in a series she loves is getting released just before her birthday – The Grinny Granny Donkey. Bonus points for the donkey. She loves donkeys, ducks and sloths. I’m crossing my fingers that my preorder arrives in time. If not, I’ll have one of her Christmas presents sorted!

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

A smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower – for good or ill – is a properly executed spreadsheet.

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?
As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called “hero” leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realises she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponise it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.


Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her – and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her … or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together.

When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca – before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends – and their cameras – following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side. 


Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighbourhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she – and her book club – are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others …


NetGalley

Five strangers guard our secrets.

Only four can be trusted …

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads. 

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect …


How will you help your friend if she doesn’t want to be saved?

In a tranquil neighbourhood of Tokyo, seven teenagers wake to find the mirrors in their bedrooms are shining.

At a single touch, they are pulled from their lonely lives into a wondrous castle filled with watchful portraits, winding stairways and twinkling chandeliers. Hidden within the walls is a key which will grant one wish, and a set of clues with which to find it. But there’s a catch: they must leave the premises by five o’clock or suffer a fatal end.

And so they begin to unlock each other’s stories: how a boy is showered with more gadgets than love; how another suffers a painful and unexplained rejection, and how a girl lives in fear of her predatory stepfather.

As time passes, the devastating truth emerges: only those brave enough to share their stories will be saved.

At the heart of this tender, playful tale is a powerful message about the importance of reaching out. Above all, it shows how with one kind act you can change your life for the better, and more importantly, you can change the lives of others.


Book Haul – 18 to 24 October 2020

I had some gorgeous walks on the beach this week. Just in time, too, because it started raining today and, if we’re to believe the weather forecast, it’s not likely to stop for about a week. This could be the perfect week for some binge reading!

On the way home from the beach one day, Mum and I dropped by the lake and saw a family of ducks. The five ducklings were almost half the size of their parents and they were so cute! My mother absolutely adores ducks so we watched them for at least 20 minutes. Not that I was complaining.

We stayed as still as possible and the parents must have decided we weren’t a threat; the entire family ended up feeding within 6 feet of where we were standing.

I’m not sure how this started but Mum and I only ever call ducks making noise, quacking or any other noise, ‘ducking’. These ducks were ducking so much and Mum wasn’t the only one in love with this little family.

Word of the Week: Catharsis. “Catharsis is a Greek word meaning “cleansing.”  In literature, it is used for the cleansing of emotions of the characters. It can also be any other radical change that leads to emotional rejuvenation of a person.” (from Literary Devices)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn was an unexpected delight. I read a library copy and then immediately bought my own copy. It was such a sad but sweet story.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honour … and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame. 

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honour. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her. 

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is – a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life – and heart – are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything … including herself.


Lonely orphan Wonder Quinn lives in the attic of Direleafe Hall with only a gloomy crow for company. Every year she hopes to make a true friend and every year her heart breaks when she doesn’t.

But when a spirited new student, Mabel Clattersham, befriends her in class, Wonder’s dreams seem to be coming true. As the girls grow closer, Wonder discovers her friend has a list of strange wishes: Throw a pie, leap into the sky, break someone’s heart …

What is Mabel’s big secret? Can Wonder protect her heart from being broken all over again?

The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn is an enchanting tale celebrating friendship, bravery and the importance of staying true to yourself.


The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed. 


NetGalley

It’s OK Not to Be OK acknowledges and explores common mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders and anxiety. Get the low down on these issues, why they happen and discover ways of looking after mental health in our fast-moving world.

This book will help children and young people develop the resilience to cope with whatever life throws at them and grow into well-rounded, healthy adults.