Book Haul – March 2021

Hey book nerds!

This month I’ve read a whole bunch of children’s books. I don’t know about you but when my life gets super stressful, one of my favourite things to do is get into picture books and other children’s books that don’t have a great deal of serious content. It’s one of my main self care activities; there’s something about the innocence you find inside their pages that makes life feel much more manageable for me when things are overwhelming.

I finally binged the Friday Barnes series, something that’s been on my to do list for a number of years. Although I had a lot of fun with books whose audience is under 10, my Bookish Highlight of the Month was a YA read, The Girls I’ve Been. Millie Bobby Brown has been cast as the lead in the movie and even though I haven’t found a release date for it, I already can’t wait to see it. There’s plenty of action in the book and I loved the main character as well as her friends and sister. The backstories of everyone grabbed me and I found it a compulsive read, one that I definitely want to revisit. There are some content warnings within my review, as well as a link to the author’s site (they provide a more comprehensive list).

Happy reading!

March Reads


Book Mail

The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, featuring four brand-new stories.

The Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the Lulu bob, Cupid’s Bow lips, diamante garters and pearl-handled pistol – is the 1920s’ most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun and compulsively readable stories. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr Butler and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic.


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl! 

When girl detective Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery she uses the reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country, Highcrest Academy.

On arrival, Friday is shocked to discover the respectable school is actually a hotbed of crime. She’s soon investigating everything from disappearing homework to the Yeti running around the school swamp. That’s when she’s not dealing with her own problem – Ian Wainscott, the handsomest boy in school, who inexplicably hates Friday and loves nasty pranks.

Can Friday solve Highcrest Academy’s many strange mysteries, including the biggest mystery of all – what’s the point of high school? 


What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does. She will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honoured title: sacrifice. On the day of her foretold death, however, a powerful mage offers her a new fate.

Csorwe leaves her home, her destiny, and her god to become the wizard’s loyal sword-hand – stealing, spying, and killing to help him reclaim his seat of power in the homeland from which he was exiled.

But Csorwe and the wizard will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.


NetGalley

When your best friend is a unicorn, every day is a stroll down the red carpet. Phoebe Howell’s unicorn BFF, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is happy to provide the celebrity treatment – teaching Phoebe fancy new spells, giving her a ride to school so she doesn’t have to ride the bus, and even negotiating with the tooth fairy on her behalf.

But when Phoebe starts noticing that unicorns have become a trendy fashion statement, she doesn’t feel quite so unique. Fortunately, she’s distracted by adventures including a visit to the unicorn community and a trip to the woods to see her friend Dakota receive an unusual honour at the goblin award ceremony. Unicorn Famous is filled with amusing examples of the extraordinary lengths friends will go to make each other feel special. 


Best-selling author Jerry Pallotta takes a peek at eyes from across the animal kingdom in this hilarious and fact-packed alphabet book.

The eyes have it! Laugh as you learn by staring right into the eyes of familiar animals (is for alligator eye) and not-so-familiar ones (is for zebu eye!). Readers of all ages will be entertained with every page turn. Language learning bonus: each page defines an idiom that includes the word “eye”!


When Batman and Mystery Inc. arrive at the same farm outside of Gotham City, they soon find themselves in for the fright of their lives! Every time an eerie fog rolls in, fearsome farm monsters come out to play. Can the Caped Crusader help Scooby and the gang crack this case of cursed cropland before the creepy creatures carry them away?


There is always hope, even when we cannot seem to seek it within ourselves.

From the best advice you’ll ever get to the joy of crisps, the 101 brilliant contributors to The Book of Hope will help you to find hope whenever you need it most. Award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, MBE, and co-editor Britt Pflüger bring together people from all walks of life – actors, musicians, athletes, psychologists and activists – to share what gives them hope.

These 101 key voices in the field of mental health, from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Dame Kelly Holmes, Frank Turner and Zoe Sugg, to Joe Tracini, Elizabeth Day, Hussain Manawer and Joe Wicks, share not only their experiences with anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks and more, but also what helps them when they are feeling low. This joyful collection is a supportive hand to anyone looking to find light on a dark day and shows that, no matter what you may be going through, you are not alone.


Green-growing secrets and powerful magic await you at Misselthwaite Manor, now reimagined in this bewitching graphic novel adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved tale. From Mariah Marsden, author of the critically acclaimed Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, comes the second installment in this series of retold children’s classics. 

Ten-year-old Mary Lennox arrives at a secluded estate on the Yorkshire moors with a scowl and a chip on her shoulder. First, there’s Martha Sowerby: the too-cheery maid with bothersome questions who seems out of place in the dreary manor. Then there’s the elusive Uncle Craven, Mary’s only remaining family – whom she’s not permitted to see. And finally, there are the mysteries that seem to haunt the run-down place: rumors of a lost garden with a tragic past, and a midnight wail that echoes across the moors at night. 

As Mary begins to explore this new world alongside her ragtag companions – a cocky robin redbreast, a sour-faced gardener, and a boy who can talk to animals – she learns that even the loneliest of hearts can grow roots in rocky soil.

Given new life as a graphic novel in illustrator Hanna Luechtefeld’s whimsical style, The Secret Garden is more enchanting and relevant than ever before. 


The circus has seen better days, but for Bastjan it’s home. He will do anything he can to save it, even if it means participating in a death-defying new act. But when that fails to draw in the crowds, the ringmaster makes a deal with a mysterious man by the name of Dr Bauer.

In exchange for his help, Bauer wants a box that belonged to Bastjan’s mother and came from her birthplace – the faraway island of Melita. Bastjan is desperate to keep his only memento of his mother out of Bauer’s hands. And as he uncovers more about the strange objects contained within, he realises it’s not only the circus that’s in terrible danger…


‘I got this whole-body feeling … it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt … inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein. While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


A poignant, funny, personal exploration of authenticity in work and life by a woman doctor.

In 2017, Dr. Suzanne Koven published an essay describing the challenges faced by women doctors, including her own personal struggle with “imposter syndrome” – a long-held, secret belief that she was not smart enough or good enough to be a “real” doctor. Accessed nearly 300,000 times by readers around the world, Koven’s “Letter to a Young Female Physician” has evolved into a work that reflects on her career in medicine, in which women still encounter sexism, pay inequity, and harassment.

Koven tells engaging stories about her pregnancy during a grueling residency in the AIDS era; the illnesses of her son and parents during which her roles as a doctor, mother, and daughter converged; and the twilight of her career during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Letter to a Young Female Physician offers an indelible eyewitness account from a doctor, mother, wife, daughter, teacher, and writer that will encourage readers to embrace their own imperfect selves.


The final book in the acclaimed Darkwood trilogy – a modern fairy tale series to bewitch grown-up fans of Terry Pratchett and younger readers alike.

The tyrannous Huntsmen have declared everyone in one village to be outlaws, since they insist on supporting the magical beings of neighbouring Darkwood. Why won’t they accept that magic is an abomination?

Far from being abominable, the residents of Darkwood are actually very nice when you get to know them, even Snow the White Knight, who can get a bit tetchy when people remind her she’s a Princess.

In order to stop the Huntsmen from wiping out all magical beings, Snow and her friends have to venture into the Badlands of Ashtrie, and seek the support of the Glass Witch – but she has plans of her own, and let’s just say they’re not good ones.


When dreams start bleeding into reality, a social worker is forced to face the mistakes of his past.

A serial killer has found a way to make his land of graveyards a sinister playground to be bent at his sadistic will.

The secrets behind August’s eyes will bring two worlds together, and end in a cataclysm of pain and ruin.


Sasha has one speed – fast. She loves to do lots of things, all at once, as fast as possible. Mr. Sloth has one speed – slow. He loves to do things one at a time, at a nice, easy pace. Can Mr. Sloth’s mindful ways teach Sasha to slow down and enjoy life?

Best-selling author Katy Hudson gently weaves a mindfulness theme into this unlikely friendship tale between an energetic girl and a sloth, encouraging children to stop, breathe, and be present in every moment. 


There is no better place in the world than a library. Especially a library that kids create! A million stories high? Sure. Bathtubs? Absolutely. A full-service sundae bar? Of course. Everything is possible in this library – just like in books! 


Halloween is time to pick pumpkins and carve them into pumpkin heads – jack-o’-lanterns of every shape and size!

Award-winning author and artist Wendell Minor uses simple language and striking autumn settings to celebrate pumpkin heads in this reissue of a Halloween classic.


Prepare for a different kind of bedtime book – a zany, imaginative adventure to send your little froggies off to dreamland. Not since David Weisner’s Tuesday have frogs had so much fun!

Why go to bed when you can play the accordion, dance underwater ballet, and hold burping contests with strange alien lifeforms? For every kid who ever came up with an outlandish excuse for why it can’t be bedtime yet, these froggies’ antics will delight and entertain. Acclaimed illustrator Adam Gustavson’s raucous authorial debut shows parents there’s more than one way to do bedtime.


Stranger Things meets The X-Files in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

Something sinister lurks beneath the sleepy tourist town of Turner Falls nestled in the hills of central Oregon. A growing spate of mysterious disappearances and frenzied outbursts threaten the town’s idyllic reputation until an inexplicable epidemic of violence spills out over the unsuspecting city.

When the teenage children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and hyper-aggressive, the strange signal they can hear starts to spread from person to person, sending anyone who hears it into a murderous rage. Lucy and her outcast friends must fight to survive the night and get the hell out of town, before the loop gets them too.


Book Haul – February 2021

Hey book nerds!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful month. There’s been a lot of rainy days in my neck of the woods so there have been plenty of excuses to stay inside and read. February gifted me three bookish highlights.

Mort the Meek and the Ravens’ Revenge, the first book in a series, will be released in March. Mort is Brutalia’s new Royal Executioner. This is a problem because Mort is a pacifist. The bigger problem is that the first person Mort is supposed to execute is his best friend.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror is the latest in a growing list of translated books that I’ve loved. A group of teenagers who no longer attend school go through their mirrors, wind up in a castle that looks like it belongs in a fairytale and meet the Wolf Queen.

The Haunting of Aveline Jones is also the first book in a series. I got all grabby when I saw its gorgeous cover at the library. There’s creepy childlike scarecrows, a secondhand bookstore and a mystery to be solved.

February Reads


Book Mail

It’s two years later …

Friday steps out of prison, a shell of her former self. She’s still wearing the same brown cardigan, but she swears she’s never solving mysteries again! Who is Friday kidding? She can’t suppress her brilliant deductive mind and is soon drawn back into the intrigues of Highcrest Academy.

Then Uncle Bernie rings, pleading with Friday to fly to Italy and help him protect the Uffizi Gallery from a team of art thieves – and she can’t say ‘no’ to family. Even if it means travelling to the city where Ian, her nemesis/ex-boyfriend is living.

Will Friday be able to protect Italy’s finest artworks? Will Melanie stay awake long enough to help her? And will Ian still be as gorgeous as a Greek god and twice as annoying? 


The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more,

will know a third companion, as the days grow dim. 

The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?


Take a journey through the oceans of the world in this beautiful book, made entirely from hand-pressed plants.

Artist Helen Ahpornsiri transforms silky seaweeds, feathery algae and bright coastal blooms into playful penguins, scuttling crabs and schools of silvery sharks. Turn the page to explore each corner of the oceans, from hidden rock pools to the darkest depths. Marvel as plants transform into marvellous creatures, and discover the magic and beauty that lies beneath the waves..


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But … Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.


In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorised the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital. 

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.


Some people like to shoot. Some people like to kill. 

Three victims, three bullets, three cities.

The first of these simultaneous serial killings occurs in San Francisco, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer’s jurisdiction and reporter Cindy Thomas’s beat. The shooters are precise, as is their target selection. Each one of the men and women down excels at an illegal and deadly activity that is dominating public debate. As the casualty list expands, the fear and fascination with this shooting gallery galvanises the county.

Are the shooter villains or heroes? And who will be next?


Brian Greene takes readers on a breathtaking journey from the big bang to the end of time and invites us to ponder meaning in the face of this unimaginable expanse. He shows us how, from its original orderly state the universe has been moving inexorably toward chaos, and, still, remarkable structures have continually formed: the planets, stars, and galaxies that provide islands in a sea of disorder; biochemical mechanisms, including mutation and selection, animate life; neurons, information, and thought developed into complex consciousness which in turn gave rise to cultures and their timeless myths and creativity.

And he describes, as well, how, in the deep reaches of the future, the nature of the universe will threaten the existence of matter itself. Through a series of nested stories Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. Taken together, it is a completely new perspective on our place in the universe and on what it means to be human.


Every family has it secrets. Even the most ordinary tucks things away, out of sight. Things you don’t want to talk about. Sometimes dangerous things. 

Charlie is ten years old. He lives with his mum in an ordinary house, in an ordinary town. He goes to school, he does his homework and watches his mum work harder and harder to keep their little world afloat. An everyday life, outwardly no different to any other. But in every family there are secrets. 

Charlie’s dad went missing three years ago. No one knows where he has gone. The police couldn’t find him. His mum won’t talk about him. 

His dad had told him troubling things about his family’s past, stuff that did not make sense, that was incredible and frightening. 

And now there are strange things happening in the town where he lives. Children are going missing. Taken from houses and parks, from the woods and playing fields. 

Charlie knows the disappearances are linked to his dad and the stories he used to tell him. 

Charlie can see things that other people can’t. 

Strange things that come from dark places. Strange things with an insatiable hunger. 

The Nasties are coming. 

And only Charlie can stop them.


In the darkness of forever, in the cold places beyond the veil, something evil is stirring. 

Charlie Picker, last of the Watchers, is trying to find out what is happening to his friend Pete ‘Bash’ Bashir. Locked in the secure wing of a hospital, in a coma for over a year, the police are waiting for him to wake so they can charge him with the murder of the children who went missing in Therwick. 

Charlie knows what really killed those children. It wasn’t Bash. It wasn’t anything from this earth. It was the Nasties, a species older than time, born outside of our normal universe. Terrible creatures that had made their home here and grew fat on the blood of innocents. Charlie knows the Watchers are meant to kill these creatures, to protect the earth from the horrors that squirm and multiply in the gaps between the universes. 

And he knows that one day the Nasties will return for him. 

As he prepares for that fight, he makes a dangerous mistake. The veil that protects the earth is damaged. Something else finds a way through. 

Charlie finds himself in a desperate race to close the rip, caught between the Nasties and the other foul creatures that roam the darkness of the multiverse. With the help of his friends he must unite the Watchers and prevent the annihilation of the human race. 

Quite a lot to ask of a twelve year old. 


NetGalley

In this second book in the humorous, mystery-solving graphic novel series that’s perfect for fans of Bad Guys, Sherlock Bones and his ragtag team hunt down a swamp monster!

Sherlock Bones’s home, the Natural History Museum, has added an exciting new exhibit, Reef to Shore, that includes a mangrove forest and shallow coral reef habitat, with touch tanks in between. When Sherlock overhears a that a swamp monster has been sighted, he gathers his team to investigate. At first Sherlock Bones suspects Nivlac, a quirky octopus with a talent for camouflage – and tank pranks.

But then, loud bellowing leads Bones and team to the mangroves, where they find a horrifying long-haired green beast! Can they escape the creature – or is it too late for our beloved frogmouth bird skeleton and his ragtag mystery-solving team?


The first in a wickedly funny new series about an aspiring pacifist in a brutal kingdom!

On Brutalia violence is a way of life. Ravenous ravens circle overhead, monstrous grot bears cause chaos and the streets are bulging with brawls. But Mort isn’t like the other islanders – he’s determined to live peacefully. His struggle is made even tougher when the cruel queen appoints Mort as Royal Executioner. No one has challenged the royals and lived to tell the tale. Can Mort keep his head and outwit the queen? 


Book Haul – January 2021

Hey book nerds!

Welcome to It’s Not 2020 Anymore, formerly known as January. I hope you are safe and well.

I’m changing things up a bit this year. Last year I did Book Haul posts weekly but these will now be coming out at the end of each month.

I moved this month so there hasn’t been as much time for reading and moving costs have meant there hasn’t been as much money for books. Hopefully things will begin to settle down soon so I’ll be able to binge read again.

I started a Baby-Sitters Club binge last month (I’ve been planning on reading the entire series for years now) and am hoping to keep chipping away at the bazillion books in the series throughout the year.

Bookish Highlight: Theodora Hendrix and the Monstrous League of Monsters. I borrowed this from the library because I loved the cover. It was an unexpected gem. The main character is a lot of fun, there’s a haunted mansion, monsters and a mystery. And it’s the first in a series so I’ll get to hang out with my favourite characters and explore the mansion again.

End of December Reads:

January Reads


Book Mail

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines – a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem …


‘Welcome, one and all, to the Robofight Games!’

Last week Ethan was just a teenage kid, lying in hospital with a brain tumour. That was last week.

Now, Ethan has the super-human power to hack any computer system with his mind, and he and Dr Penny are on the run from a corrupt government, and on the hunt for Gemini, the android healer-turned-deadly assassin.

The Robofight Games might be the perfect cover for their mission. Or they might find themselves in even more trouble …

Robot vs robot.
Human vs human.
Country vs country.
Who will cheat, and who will WIN?


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The Women’s Murder Club returns for another thrilling crime investigation. Will their skills be enough to take down a brutal madman?

A brutal madman sprays bullets into a crowd of children leaving a San Francisco church. Miraculously – or was it intentionally? – only one person dies. Then an elderly black woman is hung. Police homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer senses a connection and together with medical examiner Claire, assistant D. A. Jill, and Chronicle reporter Cindy, finds a link that sends a chill through the entire nation. This killer’s motives are unspeakable.


In this debut issue of Weird Whispers we bring you a loose theme of origins. Paul Jessup gives us the first installment in his regular “Surveying the Weird” column, choosing to kick off with a focus on the weird side of winter in “Snow Weirds the World.”


Filled with a colourful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom.

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in. 

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers – literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds – and maybe even save her life. 


Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells – like true love – can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realises she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.


Jude is the owner of a rather special antiques shop in Cambridge. She finds all of the joy in her life matching people with the special something that they are missing, a talisman that will help bring them just what their heart most desires. Although Jude’s life is certainly not overflowing with the love she would wish for … when she ‘inherits’ a niece that she never knew existed, doubling her meagre family overnight, life is set to get a lot less empty and a lot more interesting.

Viola is on a quest for perfection and the top job of Head Chef at one of Cambridge’s most prestigious restaurants to the exclusion of all else. When her path continues to cross that of widower and food historian Mathieu, she starts to see that there’s a lot to life beyond the kitchen that she’s been missing out on.


In a forgotten nook of Cambridge a little shop stands where thousands of sheets of beautiful paper and hundreds of exquisite pens wait for the next person who, with Clara Cohen’s help, will express the love, despair and desire they feel to correspondents alive, estranged or dead. Clara knows better than most the power a letter can have to turn a person’s life around, so when she discovers a cache of wartime love letters, she follows them on the start of on a profound journey of her own.


Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends – all professors, all witches – when they gather for meetings on the college rooftops. Although lately she senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up.

Mathematics professor Kat is struggling with unrequited love, but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using such magic, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on the love of Kat’s life, she sets off a chain of events that turns each of the witches’ worlds upside down …


In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago.

As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home – wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks – she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.


Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil – the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realised existed … until now.


Worshippers stream out of an Midwestern synagogue after sabbath services, unaware that only a hundred yards away, an expert marksman and  avowed racist, antisemite and member of the Ku Klux Klan, patiently awaits, his hunting rifle at the ready. 

 The October 8, 1977 shooting was a forerunner to the tragedies and divisiveness that plague us today. John Douglas, the FBI’s pioneering, first full-time criminal profiler, hunted the shooter – a white supremacist named Joseph Paul Franklin, whose Nazi-inspired beliefs propelled a three-year reign of terror across the United States, targeting African Americans, Jews, and interracial couples. In addition, Franklin bombed the home of Jewish leader Morris Amitay, shot and paralyzed Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and seriously wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. The fugitive supported his murderous spree robbing banks in five states, from Georgia to Ohio.

 Douglas and his writing partner Mark Olshaker return to this disturbing case that reached the highest levels of the Bureau, which was fearful Franklin would become a presidential assassin x and haunted him for years to come as the threat of copycat domestic terrorist killers increasingly became a reality. Detailing the dogged pursuit of Franklin that employed profiling, psychology and meticulous detective work, Douglas and Olshaker relate how the case was a make-or-break test for the still-experimental behavioural science unit and revealed a new type of, determined, mission-driven serial killer whose only motivation was hate.

A riveting, cautionary tale rooted in history that continues to echo today, The Killer’s Shadow is a terrifying and essential exploration of the criminal personality  in the vile grip of extremism and what happens when rage-filled speech evolves into deadly action and hatred of the “other” is allowed full reign.


This compassionate and insightful guide will demystify mental health issues and help anyone concerned about themselves or loved ones.

Leading psychiatrist Dr Mark Cross, from the acclaimed ABC TV series ‘Changing Minds’, feels strongly that everyone should have easy access to information they can trust about common mental health problems, whether for themselves or to help family or friends. The result is this empowering guide which aims to cut through the myths and taboos about mental health and offer clear, practical help. It covers a wide range of common issues, from bipolar, anxiety, personality and eating disorders, to depression, post-traumatic stress and schizophrenia, and includes how to get help, what treatments are available and how to live successfully with a mental illness. Most importantly, it shows how carers and families can help a loved one through what can be a very challenging time. Since almost half of all Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime, this book is for everyone.


Leon Weissmann is an introverted loner with no control over his life. His only joy is the menagerie of insects, spiders, and scorpions he tends to in his garage.

When he acquires an illegally poached rainforest spider, he unknowingly contracts a rare strain of fungus that enables him to control people, to make them do anything he wants.

As his power grows, Leon begins to abuse it until there are bodies in his wake and a coterie of brainwashed disciples under his influence. But soon Leon suspects that the thing growing inside his head may be the one with the power … It wants to come out. To reproduce. It wants to control everyone.


A collection of three powerfully disturbing novellas by multiple award-winning author, Stephen Graham Jones. 

There are lines that probably shouldn’t be crossed, doors that should stay shut, thoughts that shouldn’t be considered. In these three novellas by Stephen Graham Jones, the dead talk, ancient evil opens its eyes, and that guy across the parking lot, he’s watching you, and has been for a while now. 

Lock the door, tell yourself it’s nothing, turn the radio up. It won’t matter. You’re already three miles past where you meant to stop. 


For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world … and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.


Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro follows the young protagonists Hunter Glenn and Elly Ann through an adventure ripe with adversity, paranormal monsters, secret societies, and most haunting of all, a life without their parents. Both siblings suffer emotional struggle from the sudden loss of their parents, as well as their physical journey into a new and strange “home”; an ancient and creepy mansion known only as the Belmonte Estate. The children slowly unravel the secrets of their parents’ true identities, the origin of the strange mansion and their inheritance into an ancient secret society of monster hunters.


NetGalley

From the New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women’s rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened – by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they’ve been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line – conveniently labeled “crazy” so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose …

Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom – and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth’s refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.


Grey’s Anatomy meets One L in this psychiatrist’s charming and poignant memoir about his residency at Harvard.

Adam Stern was a student at a state medical school before being selected to train as a psychiatry resident at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. His new and initially intimidating classmates were high achievers from the Ivy League and other elite universities around the nation. Faculty raved about the group as though the residency program had won the lottery, nicknaming them “The Golden Class,” but would Stern ever prove that he belonged?

In his memoir, Stern pulls back the curtain on the intense and emotionally challenging lessons he and his fellow doctors learned while studying the human condition, and ultimately, the value of connection. The narrative focuses on these residents, their growth as doctors, and the life choices they make as they try to survive their grueling four-year residency. Rich with drama, insight, and emotion, Stern shares engrossing stories of life on the psychiatric wards, as well as the group’s experiences as they grapple with impostor syndrome and learn about love and loss. Most importantly, as they study how to help distressed patients in search of a better life, they discover the meaning of failure and the preciousness of success. Stern’s growth as a doctor, and as a man, have readers rooting for him and his patients, and ultimately find their own hearts fuller for having taken this journey with him.


Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonising days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply … impossible. But it’s the story Aidan is sticking to.

His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away.

When the kids in school hear Aidan’s story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan’s side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?


A fizzingly funny, heartfelt middle-grade novel about a resourceful girl, her impractical mother and a kidnapping mystery.

Calla’s mum has never been normal. She’s been known to go out in a lab coat and slippers and often forgets to perform basic tasks because she’s been thinking about ducks. When a job offer arrives to study her beloved birds in the Amazon rainforest, Calla knows her mum has to go. Nervously, she agrees to go to boarding school.

She quickly learns that trouble is afoot in this odd convent school. A mean new headmistress is imposing horrible rules and making everyone eat Brussels sprout cake, and the students are itching to revolt. As Calla makes new friends and gets drawn into their rebellious plot, she keeps waiting for her mum to call. She will, won’t she?

Exuberantly funny and brimming with heart, How to Be Brave is a riotous celebration of the power of resourceful girls, stories and the right biscuit at the right time.


Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city filled with magic.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?


Determined to be the world’s greatest detective, Zaiba is always on the lookout for a crime to solve!

When a new family moves to the village, Zaiba is intrigued to hear about the strange happenings in their home. Things go missing, objects are smashed and unfriendly messages are painted on the walls. There have always been rumours that the house is haunted, but is a ghost really causing all this trouble? Zaiba and her team are convinced that the culprit is very much alive – and won’t stop until they get what they want …

The third book in a fun, fresh and exciting new detective series, for readers not quite ready for Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine, High Rise Mystery and Nancy Drew.


Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.

Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?

Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most. 


Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. 

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. 

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. 

A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.


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.