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As you read this, your two favourite Notebookish Sisters are zooming across the Australian outback.

They're probably eating. (That's the only thing I can say for certain because I'm scheduling this ahead of time.) Now, now! I know you're missing us terribly. BUT STOP PANICKING! I have my fabulous friend Emily here to chat with you. Emily's also my critique partner, and her blog is one I haunt a little too intensely. You should too, just saying. She's also an amazing writer and...okay, okay...just read the post.



Emily is a seventeen-year-old Aussie who reads, writes and blogs YA. She is also quite fond of cats. Right now she's working on her YA retelling of Alice in Wonderland and wishing it was holidays so she could read more. No books were harmed in the making of this picture of her. Okay, some of them might have fallen. Slightly. Anyway, Emily hopes you enjoyed her post! Find her on her blog, facebook, or twitter.



LET'S TALK ABOUT SKIM READING

Hi everyone! I'm Emily from The Loony Teen Writer

And I figured if I wanted to live up to my name, I'd better use my guest post here to blog about something loony. Cait's directions were very helpful:  

"It could be about anything. ANYTHING. Books. Writing. Vegemite. The Anatomy of a Capsicum." -- Cait's Email of Guest Post Begging

And that's why we love Cait. But instead of writing about a book entitled The Anatomy of a Vegemite Capsicum, which would tick all the boxes (and let's face it, I'd totally read that book), I instead thought about skim reading. "Skim reading" led to a search for a "skim milk gif." And this sums up my thoughts perfectly. 

Why am I talking about skim milk, you ask? 

Because like skim reading, it's a different type of milk. It's a whole different category. It's an entirely different experience. And some people think that skim reading is a lie. And sometimes it's not great, because after a few pages of skimming you realise that you haven't taken in anything that happened. 

"Wait, what was the quest again? Did they have to collect the Three Diamonds of the Vegemite Lord, or the Lost Underwear of the Capsicum Captain?"


This mostly happens to me in books I'm reading for school. I read one book about politics in Indonesia, and after finishing it I was like...okay, what just happened? But at the same time, it's become the only way I CAN read. I've read about 106-ish books this year (still not as many as Cait - how does she do it??) which requires a certain speediness. 

But not all books can be skim read. 

Some books require slow reading rather than voracious reading. I am going to use a quote from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke to demonstrate this: 

“Some books should be tasted,

Some devoured,
But only a few
Should be chewed and digested
Thoroughly” 

And sometimes, those books that SHOULD be chewed and digested thoroughly? Yeah, I power through them and I have no idea what's going on. Not all books can be read in the same way. Not all books can be read in a couple of hours. Like Cait, I am scared of large books. It's got five hundred pages? I'm going to run in the opposite direction. Well, unless people pester me to read it, in which case I become a sheep and listen to them. Baaa. 

I mean, let's face it, our society kind of enjoys fast entertainment. 


Like TV. And since even THAT is too long, we now have Vines. Which frankly scare me, but let's not talk about that. 

And sure, reading isn't the fastest form of entertainment out there, and I think rushing that process often hurts enjoyment levels. 

I'm not going to fall in love with a book if I don't understand what's happening. Some books require patience, especially certain genres (like high fantasy, for example). Not every book is going to be an easy skim read. 

That said, skim reading can be a great way to get through books you don't like as much. And even books that you DO like - then you can use it as an excuse to read said book straight afterwards. 

Do you skim read? 

Do you ever get to a certain point and think, "what has happened? I have no idea what's going on?" I hope it's not just me!!

Also, how awesome was my incorporation of Vegemite and capsicums? 

Because you're (obviously) missing us terribly, we have a very wonderful friend coming to ease your suffering today.

We've known Lydia since forever. (It's been 3 years, but don't question it. That's forever.) She is our first internet friend and...still is. Cait talks to her basically every day (this may be annoying, but hey, that's Cait for you) and they are quite possibly a) best friends, b) cyber twins, or c) both.

And for that, we've made her an honorary Notebook Sister for today. (Isn't her sketch adorable? Mime drew it. It's captures Lydia perfectly.)

Lydia is a blogger, design student, enthusiastic bookworm, and mashed potato devotee. Due to starting fall classes and a new job, she is currently reading nothing . . . which is both highly unusual and depressing. She claims full credit for Cait’s sob-fests over Code Name Verity and The Book Thief, and is also responsible for introducing Cait and Mime to Goodreads. Yes, she is brilliant, and her taste in literature is impeccable. You can find her at Planet Lydia, Twitter, and The Book Chewers.

Greetings, blogglings. I’m Lydia. 

Cait asked me to blog-sit while she was away. As a matter of fact, she gave me full permission to spill all of her dirty secrets. (That may have been sarcasm speaking, but Cait and sarcasm are basically synonymous.) So yeah . . . she gave me permission.

However,  I’d like our friendship to continue (and I’m well aware that she knows some of my secrets). So instead, I’m going to tell you a bit about our friendship and wind up with some thoughts on what makes a good blogging friend and how to find one.

How Lydia Met the Notebook Sisters 



I’ve known Cait and Mime for three years, which is practically forever on the internet.  As such, I feel quite entitled to use this GIF. It perfectly illustrates how I feel every time I scroll through all the comments you leave on their posts. There are so MANY of you. It’s overwhelming. But I’m honestly thrilled by NS’s success . . . it’s well-deserved! Also, I enjoy feeling smug and hipster, because I liked Notebook Sisters before they were cool. 

When I first started blogging, I knew absolutely nothing about the blogosphere and didn’t picture anyone actually reading my blog. 

I was just getting used to my first three or four real followers (i.e. people I didn’t know in real life) when Mime first commented on one of my posts.

 

As such, my reaction was very much “Who are you, and how did you find me?” 

To my credit, I refrained from bopping her on the head with a frying pan or shutting her up in a wardrobe. After all, a comment about The Boxcar Children is not exactly sinister. But I was a bit scared of clicking on unknown blogs, so I didn’t re-pay her visit.

I don’t remember how or when I decided to risk it, but I did eventually visit Notebook Sisters. I discovered that Mime blogged with her sister, and to my relief, the two of them looked harmless. In fact, they seemed a lot like me. So we struck up a friendship. They followed me and I followed them . . . which was a huge deal, since neither of our blogs had reached double digits. We left enthusiastic comments on each other’s posts, and our blogs slowly expanded and evolved.

After we’d known each other for a year or so, I asked if they wanted to correspond via e-mail. They replied with a resounding yes. We had a set-up where they would ask me a couple questions,  and I would reply with answers and questions for them. Our correspondence lasted all l of two months. Then Mime returned to school, and Cait and I discovered how convenient Facebook’s chat feature is.

Frankly, we’re a bit out of control at this point. We exchange insults, flattery, various sarcasms, stupid/brilliant ideas, deep thoughts, and hilarious pins on an almost daily basis. If I’m late for dinner, my family blames it on Cait. If I start grinning at my screen, my brother accuses me of chatting with Cait. We even have an official friendship motto: “We are awesome. And humble.”

How to Find A BBF (Best Blogging Friend) 

Blogging is undoubtedly best with a BBF or two. But how does one find these marvelous creatures? I’m no expert, but these are my thoughts on the matter:

Comment.

This is a no-duh. You have to start a conversation to find a friend. It’s the online version of small talk, but it’s muchmuch less awkward, and therefore superior.

Find someone who shares a few of your interests.

This can be an exasperating task offline, but the internet makes it super easy and fun. After all, most people blog specifically for the purpose of sharing their interests. Read their posts, look at their profiles, and scroll through their Pinterest or Goodreads. If you seem to share a hobby or a favorite book or movie genre. . . BAM. There’s the start of a friendship. But remember, you don’t have to have everything in common. Just a place to start. Which brings me to my  next thought.

Your blogs don’t have to match.

Cait is my Australian twin. It’s creepy how many thoughts, ideas, and experiences we have in common. But our blogs don’t make that apparent at all. She writes hilarious ARC reviews, joins linkups, compares book genres to pizza, and illustrates her posts with GIFs of Iron Man and Dean Winchester. I take my own photographs with a DSLR and write about design, art, and books . . . interspersed with more personal, journal-style posts. Our content and aesthetic are completely different.

Point is, you don’t have to write about the same things to be friends. Cait loves my posts, I love hers, and they lead to great conversations. (Same goes for Mime, even though she’s largely abandoned us for her academic and musical pursuits.) I’ve noticed that bloggers tend to exclusively read blogs that fit in their own niche, and I think it’s a shame. If you’re a book blogger who loves to eat, why shouldn’t you be friends with a food blogger who loves to read?

Connect outside of your blogs.

Cait and I still interact through our blogs. But our friendship has moved way beyond that, because of e-mail, Facebook, and Pinterest. We’re real friends (see next point), so we talk about a lot of stuff that never reaches the blogs.

If you get along fabulously with another blogger, consider asking if them to be pen-pals! Find a way to have private conversations. Skype, chat, write snail mail, maybe even meet in person. Whatever works. But don’t rush this stage, and make sure you and your blog friend are on the same page. It’s natural (also wise) to be cautious. And if you’re underage, it’s a good idea for both of you to check with your parents before sharing any personal contact information.

Treat your blogging friend like a real friend, because they are real.

We’ve all seen articles about teens and social media vs. “real life” interaction, and there’s definitely a lot to be said on the issue. But using the phrase “real life” seems like a mistake to me. Yes, online interaction is different than face-to-face interaction . . . but it is absolutely real.

So treat your blogging friends like real people (actually, treat everyone on the internet like a real person). Respect their feelings, be polite, respond to them, give them encouragement and compliments. Remember that you can’t see their face or body language, so make sure you’re communicating clearly.


What about you? 

Do you have any BBFs? How did you meet them? What would you add to my post? I’ll be sticking around to reply to comments, so leave me one! (Now is your chance to ask any burning questions you have about Cait and/or Mime. I’ll make up a bunch of whoppers, and Cait can do damage control when she gets back.)

Normally I would post something inspiring instead of just "goodbye".

But what can I say that hasn't been said before in great detail elsewhere?

Travelling-with-small-books tips? (It's pretty much the same as travelling-with-small-children. Don't leave your books in restaurants, airports or let strangers hold them.)
How-To-Know-If-You-Packed-Too-Many-Books? (You probably didn't.)
Is-It-Acceptable-To-Read-At-[insert place here]? (Yes, of course it is. Who the heck decided there were "unacceptable" places to read in? They're deluded and make silly rules and you shouldn't listen.)
What-do-I-do-if-I-lose-my-sister-in-the-airport? (Buy something delicious and eat it. Siblings have serious 6th senses about a) tasty food and b) injustices, a.k.a you eating something good without them. They'll come back.)
What-if-my-book-gets-wrecked-on-the-trip? (Either take a kindle or be brave. Dauntless! What's better? A book that's never ever read and in perfect condition OR a book that is well travelled and saved you from brain crushing boredom on a car trip?)
I-can't-read-in-the-car? (Not a question, but that's okay. Neither can I. AUDIO BOOKS.)
What-if-my-blog-crashes-and-burns-without-me? (Employ babysitters, like you would if you left your dog home. I'm having Emily and Lydia come over.)
Is-it-safe-to-talk-to-[insert employee of shop or relative or acquaintance or hobo here]? (No.)


See? All your questions: answered.

There is literally nothing for me to go into detail about, which is a bit sad, but probably for the best. I know you've heard that advice a multitude of times.

So where am I going?

Mime and I are journeying across Australia from the glorious sanely temperatured coast to THE DESERT for my brother's wedding. We are going from Winter to insta-Summer. We are going from sleeping at night to plane-trips-at-night. In fact, as you read this, I am in an airport (probably eating, because what else do you do in an airport while you wait for a plane?). We probably won't have internet in all this time.

We'll be back in a week. Maybe.

But don't worry because Emily is going to keep you fabulously entertained and Lydia is going to spill all my secrets. I'm scared. I truly am.

Don't get up to too much mischief while I'm gone, okay?


Cait has this deep LOVE for her own bed. It's comfy. It's familiar. It's the most glorious thing she owns (apart from her bookshelf). She will miss it. She is also a very anxious introvert, so peopling all weekend is no doubt going to give her grey hair. Spare a thought for this poor introvert. Currently, like she said, she's in an airport. She's probably using the free WiFi or reading WICKED or deducing Mime's forgotten to pack something (which is 98% sure to be true anyway).

Note: The title of this post should have been "see you later, alligator, in a while crocodile" which I hope you've heard of before. But then reptilian slipped out. I'm not even sorry.
You probably know that I've been wailing about these four novellas. Not happy wailing. Devastated, brain-numbing agony wailing.

But I'm going to review them fairly. I am. I promise. If I start ranting incessantly you can, you know, calm me down with chocolate or slap me even.

This is a 4 in 1 review. So grab some popcorn, mug of hot chocolate -- and let's get started.


Thank you Hachette Australia for the review-copies. I'm sorry I didn't like them, I truly am. I like odd and creepy books so I fully expected to enjoy these. I just didn't. Here's why.


Note: I haven't read the original House of Night series. These are just the novellas.


Novella #1: Dragon's Oath

The all-new House of Night Novellas will delve into the backgrounds of some of the Tulsa House of Night's most important - and mysterious - professors. Beginning with Dragon Lankford, DRAGON'S OATH tells the story of the House of Night's formidable fencing instructor and warrior, whose mercy for one beast in the past will come back to haunt him in the future.

First thoughts: What the....
Second thoughts: Will the real vampires please come out? Ones that, you know...suck blood?
Third thoughts: Oh help, I've got to read 3 more of these.

The short of it is: this is a tiny book with zero character development and a heap of telling instead of showing. 

I won't lie. I'm partial to being shown things. Instead, I get told "Here is a character who is mean and jerky and arrogant BUT WAIT! JUST KIDDING. He's a real sweetie." What? No. For starters, I didn't see any evidence of him being mean OR nice. Oh why in the name of sanity is his name DRAGON?! He's a vampire (er, sorry, vampyre), but hey...why not call him "Dragon" and confuse us all further?

Enter the love interest: Anastasia. She's a professor but only 22 and a vampyre and sweet and gentle and ohhhh so NOT besotted with Dragon. I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but it's pretty obvious. Plus, you know, a bit of a random action scene before we fall into each other's arms. 

I was basically frustrated that there was zero character development. I don't know these characters from GI Joe, and I'm supposed to care what happens to them? 


Novella #2: Lenobia's Vow

Before becoming Zoey's favourite professor and the House of Night's powerful horse mistress, Lenobia was just a normal 16-year-old girl - but with enough problems to last a lifetime. In 1788, Lenobia's father places her on a ship bound for New Orleans. An evil bishop, skilled in Dark magic, makes the same journey. His appetite for beautiful young women forces Lenobia to remain hidden, but she secretly visits the ship's stables, where a handsome young man and his horses capture her attention. Can they make it to the New World before the bishop discovers her true identity and a powerful evil breaks loose? And will Lenobia follow her heart, even if it puts lives at risk?

At this point I found out that each novella was going to follow a different story. 

I cried a little. So good news: you don't need to read them in order. Helpful news: It'd probably be better to read the actual series, because apparently this is all backstory. Dangit.

It features Lenobia, who's name unfortunately reminds me of lobotomy which isn't nice. She's the illegitimate child of a French lord, and when her half-sister dies, dear Lenny (my nickname for her, she, sadly, didn't get one in the book) impersonates her half-sister (they look alike, okay?) and sails to the New World. Bummer is, there's a pedophilic priest onboard the ship who plans to rape Lenny. 

But that's okay because: MARTIN. Cute, stable boy, beneath her class...you know the type.


The main problem I have with Martin and Lenobia's romance is...they don't converse in French. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I could understand their chatter. But they're both French. Martin speaks in broken English, with frequent French words. Why...why don't they both speak French to each other?? Why. 


Oh, and then everyone burns. Apparently, the squishy conversations of love between Lenny and Martin amongst the horses wasn't enough? They just started setting everyone on fire towards the end and it was a little disturbing. Plus, being burnt alive is like the worst agony in the world. It's HIGHLY unlikely you'll have the concentration to spout off poetry while you're flesh is singeing, okay? Okay. I'm absolutely grossed out. 

The vampires showed up in about the last...eh, 20 pages? 
It felt like a historical romance not really a supernatural vampire (sorry, vampyre) book.


Novella #3: Neferet's Curse

In the third House of Night novella, the secret history we've all been waiting for is finally revealed...  Neferet, the Tulsa House of Night's darkly seductive High Priestess, wasn't always a powerful vampyre, but she has always been beautiful. Raised in turn-of-the-century Chicago in a motherless home, her beauty makes her the prey of unwanted attention and abuse, leaving her with scars that will never heal – and a Darkness that will eventually need to find its way out. But when she is Marked and gains strength, both physical and magickal, she turns her anger into power and looks for a way to regain what was stolen from her. From victim to High Priestess, beautiful young woman to powerful seductress, Neferet's journey begins...

I am so officially badly scarred now.


Question: Why do these books have so few actual vampires in them?

It's like a period drama...but with horrible parts written in a platonic way. It's written in first-person by Emily, supposedly her "diary" although it's not particularly written in that style. THERE IS NO EMOTION. It's like being told things. 



Dear Diary, my mother is dead and now my father is thinking I'm my mother and kinda lusting after me and I want to marry this boy but, you know, my father is controlling my life down to the clothes that I wear and yeah. Sucks to be me.

I couldn't connect with anyone. It was full of telling NOT showing. Everything that happened was completely predictable. And...and ugh. A father lusting after his daughter?


I get that that's a dark and scary topic that is a reality (even in those days of the early 1900s) and it's fair enough to write about. I just...I just don't want to read about it? 



Novella #4: Kalona's Fall

From the Sun and from the Moon, two winged brothers are born: golden Erebus, playmate and friend, and mysterious Kalona, Warrior and lover, companions of the Goddess Nyx. 
From the first, Nyx loves them both deeply, but differently. With Erebus, she can talk and laugh and dance, and take joy in the games he plays among the humans of the Earth. With Kalona, the fire in her body burns bright, and she can rest in the solace of his strength and protection. But for Kalona, Nyx's nights are not enough. Every second he is not with her he is filled with doubt and longing, and every time he fails to please her, he cannot forgive himself. Ruled by anger and jealousy of his brother, and consumed by his love for his Goddess, Kalona seeks the power to prove his worth, and to claim once and for all that Nyx eternally belongs to him. 
And at the edges of the Earth, a Darkness is stirring, waiting for its chance, for the doorway in through a heart that it knows will welcome it...

You know what's bugged me the most? Spelling vampires like vampyres.

Hmm. Weird. I just really don't like that.

This novella is written like a mythology tale. Like if you had to read a text-book like Greek myth for school or something? It's written like that. At least the last 3 focused on characters, but this mostly focuses on Mother Nature and goddesses falling from the sky like mammoths.

Oh. Kalona is a guy. I didn't see that coming.

I found it the hardest to get into because it wasn't about following a specific plot. It felt like a backstory outline. 



This happened, and then this mythy being was created, then Mother Nature got cranky and they gave her a snack to appease her blood sugar levels and then someone got sacrificed to a goddess on accident and everyone cried. The end

But some of the covers are nice and eery though! Yay! Good covers. HUGE positive there. 



So, be clear, Cait, why didn't you like them?


Firstly, I think the reason they have no world-building or character development is because they're backstory novellas for the main series. Which I have absolutely zero intentions of reading after this crash course in Vampyre world. But I still don't really see why that makes it okay to have such unemotional, detached, and monologuing books.

Secondly, they're not really about paranormal vampires. They're written like period dramas. They're about romances between unlikely people who fall in love because, "Omg, you're really pretty! Can we marry?" No. No no no.

Thirdly, misspelling "vampyre" is one thing. But if you spell magic like "magick" you're actually referring to occult magic. Which, while the books had goddess and mythology...they weren't doing demon worship. So I feel the misspellings were a bit un-researched.

Fourthly (I promise this is the last), to become a vampire all they needed was a moon slapped on their forehead. Then they were a fledgling vampy. No blood required. I believe we've missed the definition of vampire.

When I finished novella #4 all I could think was...


But I definitely want to say: just because I didn't like them doesn't mean you wouldn't!

They have quite high ratings on Goodreads and I'm sure fans of the main series would be interested in the backstory. But as stories-by-themselves they lack. Seriously, though, check them out and then talk to me about them.


your turn, blogglings: firstly, how often do you read novellas? have you EVER read novellas? i've read novellas for 3 series now. and how do you feel when you go into a book expecting one thing (in my case: vampires) but instead get a totally different storyline (in my case: period dramas)??


Cait is packing. She doesn't like packing. WHAT IF SHE FORGETS SOMETHING IMPORTANT? As you know, she's incredibly nervous about travelling inland to go to a wedding (her brother's for those of you who are curious). Crowds. She's anxious about crowds. But she was talking to her nephew (3yrs) about going on a "holiday" and he informed her that he doesn't want to bring the family. Just him and me. Isn't he the sweetest?!

No use covering it up anymore. I have found there are dark and sinister side-effects after reading an Incredible Book. 

Have you heard of a "book hangover"?


Now you have.

Book hangovers are unfortunate things that often occur after you read a really extremely incredibly unbelievably good book.

But the tricky part starts, see, when you want to start a new book. Say goodbye to the finished one. Put it back on the shelf. Exit your kindle. Whatever needs be done...you're ready for a brand new bookish adventure. 

I find (unfortunately) that after reading a good book it's highly possible I'll dislike my next read.

That doesn't seem fair! Or right! What did the next book on my TBR ever do?!

I read books according to release date if they're ARCs and expiry-date if they're library books. Most of my books have a small ticking bomb on them. What? I'm a writer. Drama is part of the job description. So I don't specifically pick books according to what I feel like reading. I just grab what's next.

So let's look at my habits, shall we?


 From Dangerous Girls to The Seventh Miss Hatfield

I was already dubious about The Seventh Miss Hatfield because a) I didn't request it so who knows what it holds, and b) I'm not into period time-travel books. Ever. And let's not underestimate the mind blowing "WHAT JUST HAPPENED" feeling a poor reader gets after encountering Dangerous Girls. Honestly. I had to stop and just remember how to breathe for a while.

Miss Hatfield was a woeful transition.


From The Book Thief to Rebel Belle

I was 98% sure I'd love The Book Thief ... but I underestimated myself. That book is amazing people! IT IS GENIUS. I was all feels and snivelling tears and admiring the writing style and telling Lydia (again) that she recommends me horrible horrible books that I love so much. Thanks for nothing, my friend.

I went straight on to read Rebel Belle because it was my Goodreads groups' next book club read. I'd never done a book club, so...excited! It was...not what I thought. No fried chicken. A bit of unrealistic ninja activity instead. I was slightly skeptical. 



From Crown of Midnight to Sweetly

GIVE ALL THE STARS TO CROWN OF MIDNIGHT! Give more stars! And stickers! And tears! And, ugh, smack it hard because it absolutely messed with my feels and broke my heart into itty bitty pieces and please...leave me alone to die

I felt altogether way too meh about Sweetly. Barely anything even happened. I didn't hate the villain. And I forgot to like the love-interest.


From A Monster Calls to A Midsummer's Nightmare

I discovered a burning passion for Patrick Ness books after I read More Than This. But I didn't think A Monster Calls would be that...that SAD. Do not underestimate the middle-grade tag. This absolutely stole my heart. A tree stole my heart. A MONSTER tree, no less. It was good, okay?!
And then...what absolutely fluff did I read with A Midsummer's Nightmare?! I was expecting great things from Kody Keplinger because this was my second read of hers and The Duff really impressed me. But this?! This was awkward and had zero plot and was fairly "been-there-read-that". I felt altogether too let down afterwards.

These are sad statistics!

I don't mean to, I honestly don't. I try to always go into a book with, a) and open mind, and b) medium-expectations. Super high expectations are dangerous and mildly exhausting. So I'm not really sure I can fix this.

Although there are exceptions.


Sometimes I wonder if there's a tendency to rate books lower after an amazing book. But then sometimes I wonder if I just don't always pick amazing books?! That is possible. I'm awesome, of course, but I don't always pick the gold books.

Obviously I know wish for your opinion on this matter.

Do you notice yourself rating books lower after a particularly awesome book? Do you get book hangovers so hard you feel all the other books are dry and meh worthy?? Or do you just think it's luck of whatever-comes-next-off-my-TBR??

Confess all. I will guard your secrets carefully.

Mwha haha ha.

Cait read a lot of good books last week. In fact, she even dished out two 5-star stickers and flailed (annoyingly? NEVER) on twitter about Messenger of Fear and why everyone should read it and why she needs book #2 right now. Despite the fact she DOES give 5-stars out, her average rating is only 3.6-stars. Obviously she sucks at picking books sometimes. (And yes, Psych is awesome. Wanna split a pineapple?)

Instead of being incredibly unorganised (like I was last month) I am joining the Beautiful People link up. If you haven't had a chance yet, feel free to join me in interrogating characters for your own amusement. The linkup is open all month.

I had this small issue of: who do I pick?

Honestly, that is the hardest part of this. I currently have about 14 manuscripts (6 of which are a series) most of which are unedited, all of which I'm madly passionate about. I really want to talk about my Peter Pan retelling OR my sci-fi catastrophe which I basically ended mid-sentence because of reasons OR my latest zombie mess which I finished drafting in 8 days.

I decided, since I just finished it this month, it'd be fair to throw my zombie book, Them Hungry Bones, at you, okay?

Meet my quiet, penitent car thief: Crow de Vries.

His real name is "Otis" but everyone calls him "Crow" because he is scruffy and gangly like a scarecrow. (Be in awe of my originality.) He narrates half of Them Hungry Bones, while his 11-year-old niece, Peta, takes the other half.

1) What does your character regret the most in their life?

Well, there was this time Crow earned extra cash stealing cars...and kind of went to prison. For a long time.

He's a nice kid! I promise, he is. Unassuming. Quiet. Puppy-dog eyes. He's the kid you'd hand a baby to in a catastrophe because he looks so nice. He's passionate about cars (what a freak, I only drive an automatic myself) but altogether too easily lead. He's 18-years-old when the story begins, and fresh out of prison. He didn't like prison, by the way.

2) What is your character's happiest memory? Most sorrowful memory?

Happiest: Weekends at his brother's house, with plenty of opportunity to tease Peta and lots of delicious Dutch food (his parents were immigrants to Australia). One word for you, peoples: olibollen. I researched. You can see how delicious it looks here.

Sorrowful: It kind of sucked when his parent said not to come home after he got out of prison.

3) What majorly gets on your character's nerves?

You know what? It takes a lot to tick off Crow. He's so laid back, he will listen to a 5-year-old chatter about the Wiggles for 9-hours-straight (which he does, in the book, actually...poor guy). But he will find you and maybe kill you if you hurt people he cares about. Which is: his niece Peta, and the 5-year-old they randomly rescued, Queenie.

4) Do they act differently when they're around people as opposed to being alone? If so, how?

In front of people: Calm, laid back, in control, never-ever panicked.
Alone: Look, if the world goes up in zombie-coloured-flames and he gets his car blown up beneath him? YES, he would like to cry.

5) What are their beliefs and superstitions? (Examples: their religion or lack of one, conspiracy theories, throwing salt, fear of black cats.)

There are 3 things I don't write about: religion, sports, and coconuts. Ugh I hate coconuts.

6) What are their catchphrases, or things they say frequently?

His 11-year-old niece, Peta, has some panicking issues and in order to get her to calm down he always says, "Focus, Pete." It doesn't work, in case you were curious, but he tries.

7) Would they be more prone to facing fears or running from them?

Running. Actually, throw that: driving. He would get in a very fast car and drive as far away from his fears as possible. I like writing tough characters like that.

8) Do they have a good self image?

Nope. Crow kind of loathes himself, which makes sense really, since he's facing massive rejection from his family. This is actually a big thing for him throughout the book...he never believes he's doing the best to protect Peta through the apocalypse. 

To be fair, he nearly let her get eaten by a zombie and then drove into a town which promptly blew up beneath them AND THEN gave her a knife. It was for self-defence, but who gives a kid a knife as big as her arm, Crow?!

9) Do they turn to people when they're upset, or do they isolate themselves?

He's used to rejection so he definitely isolates himself. The dude could be lying in a ditch with his head split open and he still wouldn't bother you about, maybe, dragging him out by his hair follicles. 

10) If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry?

What do you think?! CRY. The kid is a car wreck (har, har) waiting to be bit by a zombie. I'd definitely cry and perhaps share an olibollen with him. 

Sorry thought not that much, Crow, for writing you like this.



feel free to leave me a link to your Beautiful People post (I didn't manage to get around to everyone's this month, dangit). also: i hope you understand the fandom references with my gifs. and, pfft, i know this is a character interview...but answer me this for you: what's one weird thing that never fails to annoy you? also, if you want, you can tell me how well you think you'd get on with Crow.


Cait always leaves her character interviews to the veeeery last second because a) she's nervous about showing you what she's been working on, and b) she can never decide WHAT to talk about. She's been swamped with writing this month. She drafted THEM HUNGRY BONES in 8 days (55,000-words of it) and then dove straight into round #2 of THE UNAMED BOOK with her agent. Um, can she have a break? Small holiday? Perhaps piece of brownie cheesecake?

I've got good news and bad news.

Bad news is...I'm going away. For a week. With no internet. To a wedding...which is also bad news because I don't like weddings or crowds or strange food. BUT! Good news is I have two of my most favourite human beans (Emily and Lydia) coming to amuse you while I'm gone. HUZZAH!

The trip will be full of midnight flights to the middle of Australia to visit hordes of people I haven't seen in over 5 years. This introvert is freaking out. So I'm arming myself with audio books and paperbacks.

I know it'll be hard for you to continue your lives without me, but be strong. I will return. I leave on Wednesday!

I'm linking up with Tynga's Reviews for the meme Stacking The Shelves! And also Caffeinated Book Reviewer for Sunday Post! Basically: you recount books you've won/bought/collected this week.
The Sunday Post

I borrowed The Outcasts from the library. It's the first in John Flanagan's Brotherband series which...I never got into. Rangers Apprentice? Yes. Brotherband? Not yet. SO! We'll fix this. There's about 12 hours of it.

Thanks HarperCollins for Anatomy of a Misfit! Nothing like a highly unique contemporary about teens who don't fit in.

Thanks Simon & Schuster for Belzhar! Is it just me or does this bring up Sunday School memories of Daniel in the Lions Den and his other name of Belshazzar? It does for me. I'm having trouble since there's no lions mentioned in the blurb.

I won The Diviners from Allen & Unwin! It's...it's huge, peoples. IT'S ABSOLUTELY HUGE.

And HA to library bans. I'm going away and I needed some intriguing reads. I borrowed Skulduggery Pleasant (I know, I was supposed to read that when I was, like, 12, but I'm not finished my childhood) and City of Glass (look! I'm reading book #3 in the series! so proud of me) and Daughter of Smoke and Bone (because I was told to read it or else) and The Girl With All The Gifts. Which I keep thinking of as gifs and getting excited. I obviously going to ignore the T and go with gif and have such a fun review.


A lot of these books are HUGE though...and that's mildly concerning me. Big books scare me.
monday - Another edition of #HonestYA! I remodel covers.
tuesday - Mime reviews Of Neptune (Syrena Legacy #3) and it was...a belly flop of an ending.
wednesday - Sometimes people tell Cait what to read. Usually she ignores them...buuut, there are exceptions.
friday - Time for some Notebook Sisters Approved! We talk about coincidences, She Is Not Invisible, and blind superheroes.
saturday - Cait is kind of obsessed with The Book Thief. She even gives you an organised list of WHY she likes it so much.




[click covers to go to Goodreads]

Four: That was fabulous. Everyone one was so young! And innocent! And...alive. [5-stars]
Good Omens: Hilarious and perfect, it was like reading Supernatural. I particularly loved how mean Crowley was to his house plants. [4-stars]
Neferet's Curse & Kalona's Fall: This is the LAST of the House of Night novellas and ohhh, small mercies. I am so totally done with them forever. Extreme headdesk coming your way. [1-star]
Cooper Bartholomew is Dead: Which is a real shame because he was a nice guy. It was very NA instead of YA (the YA-tag is a lie) so...I wasn't into it. [3-stars]


Apparently this week got progressively worse for reading as it went on... This is how I felt about my reading choices this week:

Awesome posts by awesome bloggers! I want to spotlight my friends marvellous genius, so go! go! Read them all!

Engie @ Musings from Neville's Navel reviewed The Giver movie. She said it wasn't awful, but it wasn't awesome either.
Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer gave us a tour of her awesome bookshelf!
Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer confesses to being a harsh reviewer sometimes.
Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm has an awesome discussion about series endings. Does it make or break the books for you?
Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight asks about our reviewing process.


I don't usually have room to post all reviews on the blog...so I want to know what YOU want me to post about. Plus: deciding what to read is hard. You do the dirty work. That's what you're here for.

What should I read next?








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I recently joined Instagram and therefore I get to take photos of my books and their daily adventures. (I'm raising a whole bookshelf full of 'em.) Sometimes other things sneak in. Like art. I did an art thing.


We're celebrating hitting 500-follows on Bloglovin'!

Because it's a follower-appreciation-giveaway it's only open to...followers. You get to pick ONE of these 4 ebooks:

- Open INTERNATIONALLY, so long as you're acquainted with Amazon
- Winner will receive an Amazon ebook.
- You get to pick ONE of the 4 ebooks above
- I love all these books. Just so you know. 
- You must be my minion. Totally fair. Only then will you get cake.

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talk to me, peoples! are you going to miss me? the correct answer to that is: yes oh yes how will i survive without you? did you read anything spectacular this week? oh! question: big or little books? do the big ones scare you or is it just me?