Haunting Halloween Hop: the scary thing

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Today I’m taking part in the Aussie Owned and Read Haunting Halloween Hop. (Yes, it’s 31 October here already, Northern Hemisphere. Nyah nyah!) The basic idea is that you post about something that scares you. I’m kinda sorta double-dipping on this one, because last week I blogged at AOR about the opening scene in Isla’s Inheritance, and the scary seance that inspired it.

(Yes, I used to do seances for fun. I don’t anymore. I’d like to write a book about Emma, the girl who runs the seance for Isla and Dominic, and what mischief might befall her as a result. It’s on my to do list.)

ANYWAY, moving on. There are a couple of answers to the “what scares me” question. I’m actually choosing to write the slightly less scary one, because the more scary one (something happening to my child) is so paralysing that I can’t even. The slightly less scary one is still pretty scary, though, and it’s been a fear I’ve had since my high school social science classes, when they taught us about nuclear weapons and the silent killer that is radiation poisoning.

I hate the idea of the invisible, creeping thing — the nuclear poison, toxic gas or virus on a droplet in the air. Something so tiny that you can’t see it to run away; something that can kill you. Or turn you into a zombie. Years ago, I saw a movie in the cinema (Outbreak, maybe?) that had a scene where someone with a deadly virus didn’t know it yet. They went to the movies and sneezed, and then the camera tracked the little droplet of air over the crowd and infected others.

I nearly hid under my seat.

As I bet you can imagine, the current ebola outbreak has made me very nervous. Even though I know intellectually that ebola is not very contagious — rating below the common cold, measles and HIV for infectivity — there’s not a chance you could get me in a room with someone who had it, even if I was in one of those full-body bubble suit things.

Maybe one day I’ll write a book to exorcise these fears, get them on the page. Probably not, because I want to be able to sleep at night…!

To visit the other blogs in the hop (or to register your own post), click here. Or leave a comment. What’s the thing that scares you?


‘Isla’s Oath’ blurbiness

YOU GUYS! Isla’s Oath, the second book in the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, now has its very own page on Goodreads. Feel free to go and add it to your “to read” shelf. You know, if you want to.

*stares at you*

The copy edits are back with TMP and the book is on track for a January 2015 release. Between now and then I get the super-giddy joy of another cover reveal too. I can’t wait to share this one with you!

Australia is a long way from the Old World and its fae denizens … but not far enough.

Isla is determined to understand her heritage and control her new abilities, but concealing them from those close to her proves difficult. Convincing the local fae she isn’t a threat despite her mixed blood is harder still. When the dazzling Everest arrives with a retinue of servants, Isla gets her first glimpse of why her mother’s people are hated … and feared.

But Isla isn’t the only one with something to hide. Someone she trusts is concealing a dangerous secret. She must seek the truth and stop Everest from killing to get what he wants: Isla’s oath.

Isla_Jack


Top Six Halloween Reads

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is my top books (or movies) to get you in the mood for Halloween. If you say so… *evil grin* My selection is mostly ghost stories, but there are other greeblies thrown in there for good measure. They’re listed in no particular order other than the one I thought of them in. And there are six rather than ten, because that’s how I roll. (Pretend it’s 100th of the beast, rounded down, if that helps get you in the mood to be spookified!)

(Note: While my own book, Isla’s Inheritance, opens with a Halloween party, I have valiantly resisted adding it to my list. I’m not that shameless. Not quite.)

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Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept thServants of the Stormrough Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real … including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey’s running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can’t see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly … and everything to do with Dovey herself.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

BlackbirdsMiriam Black knows when you will die.

She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in BloodCas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Raven Boys“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

The Memory Game by Sharon Sant

The Memory Game‘If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.’

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying.

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her.

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

 

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaCount Dracula sleeps in a lordly tomb in the vaults beneath his desolate castle, scarlet-fresh blood on his mocking, sensuous lips. He has been dead for centuries, and yet he may never die…

Here begins the story of an evil ages old and forever new. It is the story of those who feed a diabolic and insatiable craving into the veins of their victims, into the men and women from whose body they draw their only sustenance. This is Bram Stoker’s chilling classic, a novel of exquisite power and hypnotic fascination.

 

 

 

 

Pleasant dreams and happy reading!


The Harry Potter book tag

This book tag was invented by the very clever Emily over at The Loony Teen Writer. I thought it was a fun idea so I’m joining in!

Luna Lovegood – a book you’ve read that’s really weird.

Luna

The Eyre Affair

 

 

 

 

 

I quite liked The Eyre Affair, but there’s no doubt that it has a very unusual premise — if a criminal is able to modify an original work of art, they will modify all of the copies. This results in literary gangs and police investigators. I suppose you could categorise this as sci-fi, although it’s more alternate world speculative fiction than anything else.

Dolores Umbridge – a book with a really nice cover that you disliked.

Dolores

Red Riding Hood

 

 

 

 

 

Red Riding Hood was a three-star read for me (I didn’t like the main love interest) until the final chapter. In order to maintain the suspense, the publisher DECLINED TO PRINT THE LAST CHAPTER in the book. I think it was because the book came out before the movie, so they didn’t want to spoil it. Instead, where the last chapter should’ve been was a URL and an invitation to finish reading the story online.

I threw the book out in disgust.

Fred and George Weasley – a book that made you laugh.

Fred and George

Hitchhikers

 

 

 

 

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is the first hysterically funny book I remember reading as a teenager, and the whole series will always stay with me for that reason. (I read the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett later and always thought of them as “Hitchhikers with a fantasy setting”, because they both have that wonderful sense of the absurd.

Hermione Granger – a book that makes you feel smart for having read it.

Hermione

TheKingMustDie

 

 

 

 

 

The King Must Die is the story of Theseus, prince of Athens, and the fall of Crete. It reads like historical, literary fiction, which made me feel like it was making my brain bigger — a feeling I usually object to in a book. ;) I loved the beautiful descriptions and the way that it was up to the reader to interpret whether the voice of Poseidon that Theseus hears is truly some sort of divinity, or perhaps his own madness or conscience.

Sybill Trelawney – a book you haven’t read yet (or hasn’t been released) that you just KNOW you’re going to love.

Sybill Trelawney

EndsingerJayKristoff

 

 

 

 

 

Endsinger is the third and final book in The Lotus War trilogy by Aussie writer Jay Kristoff. I’m super-excited about this one, you guys — although I’m bracing myself to be punched in the feels. Still, it will be worth it!

Severus Snape – a book that has mixed reviews, that you either really enjoyed or really disliked.

Snape

SwitchedAmandaHocking

 

 

 

 

 

I really wanted to like Switched but I came down on the “nope” side of the mixed reviews. Wendy, the main character, is incredibly self-centred and rather dense — the later, I suspect, was a  device to stop her from asking all the obvious questions so the author could string out the plot revelations. The supernaturals (trolls) had such potential but turned out to be vegan cookoos with bad hair. This book was definitely Not For Me (TM).

Harry Potter – a book from your childhood

Harry Potter

StoneCage

 

 

 

 

 

The Stone Cage is a book I read when I was about 11, and then again at 17 and in my 20s. I loved it each time. The story tackles the Rupunzel myth, as told from the perspective of the witch’s familiar, a cat. It took a lot of effort to track down but I finally got my own copy. I luff it. :3

What books would you nominate in these categories?


Meet the Character: Jack

Today, I’m taking part in a Meet the Character blog hop to introduce you all to one of the characters in Isla’s Inheritance: Jack the Unsworn. (You may be wondering why I’m not introducing Isla. The answer is that I already looked at her back in April, last time this blog hop came my way! The questions have changed slightly since then, which is interesting. :) )

Thanks to Stacey Nash for tagging me in on the fun. Here’s Stacey’s Meet the Character post and — although if you follow my blog you’ll have read my interview with her on 18 October — following is a bit about her.

Stacey Nash

Stacey Nash writes adventure-filled stories for Young Adults in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. She loves to read and write books that have a lot of adventure, a good dose of danger, a smattering of romance, and KISSING! Hailing from the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, she loves nothing more than immersing herself in the beauty and culture of the local area.

HarperCollins | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Inspired by Stacey, I’ve decided to recast these questions so I’m interviewing Jack rather than just talking about him.

So here’s my meet the character from Isla’s Inheritance. Please introduce yourself.

I am Jack. Jack the Unsworn, if you wish to be formal. But for the most part I prefer Jack.

Where do you live? When is it?

I live in the Australian city of Canberra, and it is spring. Is that what you mean when you ask me when it is? How come you do not know? I do not mean to be rude, but have you hit your head?

What should we know about you? 

I am a member of the duinesidhe people. (It is pronounced din-a-shee, if you were wondering.) That is the name for all of the fae races, the people who live under the hills. Specifically, I am a type of duinesidhe called a hob.

You have not heard of us? We look rather like humans in that we are bipedal, but we have long ears — which does pose a problem when we wish to go out into the human world. I wear a lot of hats and bandanas.

What is your goal? 

I wish to keep my family, my people safe. There is another race of duinesidhe who are more powerful than the rest of us, and they like to keep us as servants or slaves.

I will not be a slave again. Or let the ones I love be enslaved.

What is screwing up your life (what is the ‘main conflict’, in writerly speak)? 

Since we came to Australia, our lives have actually been pleasant. Very little conflict, which is how I like it. While building our homes under the hills is more challenging that it might have been in the Old World, the ones who like to enslave us do not come here.

But recently I met this girl, this unique girl, who is half human and half one of us. She is not, how did you say it, ‘screwing up my life’ … but she is definitely complicating it.

Isla_Jack

When can we expect the book to be published? It was published on 9 October.

You can find Isla’s Inheritance at: Turquoise Morning Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Next week’s author is fabulous teen author Emily Mead. Make sure you check out her post!

Emily Mead is a teen writer and reader, apparently 17 but either 3 or ageless, depending if she’s wearing odd socks or not (usually she is). She likes using brackets, talking, acting, freaking out about awesome books and watching Harry Potter more than she should. Props to her sister for indulging these habits.


A Halloween-y book excerpt

Cassandra Page:

In the spirit of Halloween, and ghost stories, today at Aussie Owned and Read I shared the inspiration for the seance scene at the start of “Isla’s Inheritance”.

Originally posted on Aussie Writers:

Once upon a time, when I was in my late teens, my party trick was seances. I know that sounds kind of weird, but it’s true. We used to improvise an ouija board, use a (clean) scotch glass as the focus, and then have at it. And for some reason, whenever I was touching the glass, it would glide around the board like an ice skater on a rink — even if I wasn’t really paying much attention.

Halloween HopI’m pretty sure my friends thought I was pushing the glass around, although they never accused me of it. And although I wasn’t doing anything deliberately, I sometimes wondered if there was something subconscious going on, because I often “heard” the word reply in my mind as the glass started spelling it out.

During one particularly freaky incident, one of the guys taking part had brought along what he claimed was a…

View original 728 more words


Review: ‘Cassandra’ by Kerry Greenwood

Cassandra

On Mount Olympus, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, yawned. Even perfection can become tedious. “My lord,” she called to Apollo, “Sun God and brother. Let us play a game with mortals — my power against yours.”

And so Cassandra, the golden-haired princess cursed with the gift of prophecy, and Diomenes, the Achean with the healing hands, become puppets of the gods. Their passions are thwarted, their loves betrayed, their gifts rendered useless for the sake of a wager between the immortals. Doomed, magnificent Troy is the stage, Cassandra and Diomenes the leading players in this compelling story of the city’s fall. Both have found love before, and lost it. Will they find each other in the light of the burning city?

And, if they do, can their love survive the machinations of malicious gods and men?

I originally bought this book — because of the name, obviously — about 15 years ago. Because I’ve been on an Ancient Greek kick lately, I decided to re-read it.

Both Cassandra and Diomenes are healers who’ve had close encounters with gods early on in their lives. Cassandra and her twin, Eleni, are given the gift of prophecy as small children, while Diomenes becomes a healer after his life is saved by Glaucus, healing priest of Asclepius. During his illness, Thanatos, god of death, blesses him.

Maybe these blessings are what made the two the target of Aphrodite and Apollo’s wager. The gist of the bet is that Aphrodite believes she can get the two together, while Apollo is determined to keep them apart. Posiedon and Athena weigh in, wanting to see Troy destroyed in the process (although Posiedon later changes his mind). The whole thing gets very messy, as you can imagine.

We don’t see much of the gods in the book, just in the occasional page of dialogue at the end of a chapter. Mostly, what we see is the poor mortals, struggling with the twists and turns their lives take. Both Cassandra and Diomenes find love elsewhere and lose it, but to me the greater tragedy was the fall of Troy itself. Compared to the culture of the Acheans (Greeks), Troy as Greenwood writes it was a beacon of progress and good behaviour, where women were given equal rights and the gods were offered sacrifices of herbs or precious goods rather than blood. Greenwood takes some liberties with the original myth, so the ending isn’t quite as horrific as it could have been — there is at least a little bit of hope there.

One thing I’d forgotten between readings is just how much sex there is in this book, both hetero and homosexual. For the most part that’s fine with me, although fair warning: if you want a “clean” read this isn’t it. ;) Also, during some of the war scenes the inevitable rape and treatment of captured women as slaves is quite confronting. A lot of it happens “off camera” but still, Greenwood doesn’t pull any punches.

The other thing that’s quite chilling about this retelling of Troy is Greenwood’s portrayal of Achilles: he is an insane psychopath, far and away the worst of the Greeks. It particularly struck me given I just read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller not long ago, which is a much kinder portrayal. It’s interesting to see such different takes on the same character.

Cassandra is the second book in a trilogy, but stands alone; I’ve never read the other two. If you like gritty, “realistic” historical fantasy, this may be the book for you.

Four-and-a-half stars


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