Review: The Ocean At The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Elise Hurst


Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781472260239

RRP $45.00



From New York Times bestselling writer Neil Gaiman, comes a novel of memory, magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.

A special Christmas edition of the bestseller.


It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive. There is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duck pond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.


 My View:

Such effortless, amazing storytelling!


I was delighted with every aspect of this book, from the exquisite effortless crafting of this perfect narrative to the wonderful production qualities; the hardback covers, the thick deluxe paper, to the slightly eerie, gothic like evocative drawings…this book has it all.  This is magical realism at is finest.


This is the perfect gift for the book lover/book collector in your life (or… yourself) J

Review: Slayer – Kiersten White



Kiersten White

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471178993



Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.



My View:

Confession time, I am a die hard fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I am nearly sixty 🙂 I Loved the TV series, I have the entire DVD collection, I have watched it many, many times…I watch it with my adult daughters, I  have watched it alone…I guess you get the point, I am a big fan.

Reading Slayer by Kiersten White was like sitting in front of the TV again and watching the next exciting episode of Buffy. White has nailed the tone, the sarcasm and all things relating to Slayers and Watchers and the new characters fit perfectly into the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This narrative is pitch perfect.  Sadly the book ended way too soon.

Buffy opps Nina, I miss you already!



The Dark Artifices Trilogy: The Shadow Hunters Series – Cassandra Clare

Casandra Clare has written the internationally best selling fantasy series;  The Dark Artifices Trilogy. The series comprises of Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows and the final in the series Queen of Air and Darkness, which was released this week.

Don’t you just love the cover art? I do. But there is something I love even more than the covers; two of the audio books are being narrated by one of my favourite actors, James Marsters ( Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Check out James reading an excerpt on the video below.





Art Inspired by: Chapter 19 – The Witch Who Courted Death – Maria Lewis

A great Halloween read – and an artist’s inspiration 🙂 

The Witch Who Courted Death

Maria Lewis

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780349421292

RRP $ 29.99



For some, death is a way of life . . .

Considering her status as the world’s most powerful medium, Corvossier ‘Casper’ von Klitzing and her twin brother Barastin had a pretty normal life. Her unrivalled ability to speak with and control the dead had made her a living, made her notorious … and made her a target.

After a horrific incident in her home city of Berlin, Casper’s life is forever changed. The sole survivor, she is consumed with vengeance towards an enemy she doesn’t understand. The only other person ever to escape the legendary Oct was a witch – so Casper is soon on her trail.

But this witch does not want to be found.

Diving headfirst into the supernaturally secretive world of spells, charms and covens, it’s not long before Casper is crossing much more than just the line between the living and the dead . . .

This time reinventing witches and ghosts with a much-needed feminist twist, The Witch Who Courted Death is a brand new title from the bestselling author of Who’s Afraid?


My View:

Another book I am sure that will soon make it on to the small screen – a great ghoulish love story! And great inspiration for this artist.


Description:  Chapter 19 ” Arachnia V the Medium  ” Acrylic on canvas. Orginal art work by (C) carol seeley 


Chapter 19 "Arachnia V The Medium  




Review: Restoration – Angela Slatter

Allow me to introduce to you a fantastic, Australian, new to me author, (and I ask WHY haven’t I heard about this author before now???)

angela slatter

Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), and Restoration (2018) as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

Angela is represented by Meg Davis of the Ki Agency in London:

She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, an Australian Shadows Award and six Aurealis Awards.

Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, French and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories (“Finnegan’s Field”).

Vigil has been nominated for the Dublin Literary Award in 2018.

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth. She has been awarded career development funding by Arts Queensland, the Copyright Agency and, in 2017/18, an Australia Council for the Arts grant. (

She is the author of the novellas, Of Sorrow and Such ( and Ripper (in Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear).

And all of the above is why, when I was offered the opportunity to read the new release Restoration (part 3 of the Verity Fassbinder series) I leapt at the chance. Angela Slatter is possibly the most awarded writer I have ever had the pleasure to review.




Verity Fassbinder #3

Angela Slatter

Hachette Australia

Jo Fletcher Books

ISBN: 9781784294380

The Verity Fassbinder series is what may be compartmentalised as urban fantasy or paranormal fiction; looking closely, this called also be  called an engaging, quirky, Australian narrative about love, family, reconciliation, retribution and tolerance – yes there is a lot happening in this novel. Did I love reading this book, this series? Yes I did.

Snappy, sharp dialogue with contemporary pop culture references ensure this above all else this is a fun read. Larger than life characters, escapades, a few deaths, Verity Fassbinder’s life is busy. Add to the mix a new boyfriend, an ex she still works for and uncle with a third eye in the back of his head all living in downtown Brisneyland, Queensland, Australia and you have a cast and locations that will keep you entertained for hours!   (*Authors Note – The city is not the city. Though I do live in Brisneyland and have used as the backdrop…I must confess that I have played fast and loose with some of the details. I’m sorry West End and I am really sorry Gold Coast.  I’m a writer. It’s fiction…while the reader will recognise certain landmarks and suburbs, Verity’s city is not quite the city you know. It just looks a bit like it, seen through a glass darkly. Enjoy the journey) *Authors Note – page 7 Vigil


Reading this series reminds me that I have not read much in this genre since the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I did enjoy that series, for the most part, but Verity Fassbinder series is so much more. The snappy dialogue dripping with sarcasm, the locations,  the intrigue and above all – the honest and grounded character that is Verity Fassbinder make this a fabulous must read. I am sure you will enjoy it too.


Angela Slatter can be reached  here:

Doesn’t Time Fly?

Here it is December 2016 already.  I cant believe it – this year has flown by, life has been busy; a grandson was born and he is now 8 months old.  Recipes have been tried and tested and many books have been read and reviewed – around the one hundred seventy mark thus far.

I am enjoying sharing the joy of reading with my grandson (with  appropriate titles) – it is never too early to encourage a love of reading.

Recently I invited a couple of ardent readers to share some of their favoruite reads on my site – to broaden the type of book reviews available here.  I hope you find some new favourite books and authors.  Thank you Bec and Brenda.


The reading year has not yet wound up – there is a blog tour ahead; the launch of Rachel Amphlett’s new police procedural series, Scared to Death. There is a   Q & A with debut Perth writer Anthea Hodgson, a Christmas menu to compile and share and a series of “best of 2016 reads” for you to comment on and…more reviews.



Seasons greetings to you.

Christmas pavlova



Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Maria Lewis

Who's Afraid

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Maria Lewis

Maria Lewis got her start covering police rounds in a newsroom as a teenager and has been working as a professional journalist for the past 10 years. Making the switch from writing about murders to movie stars was not a difficult decision. A former reporter at The Daily Telegraph, she also wrote about all things film and entertainment related as the Showbusiness Reporter for The Daily Mail. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Empire magazine, Huffington Post, The Sunday Mail, Junkee and BuzzFeed, to name but a few.

She appears on 2SER 107.3 FM’s weekly Drive segment Gaggle Of Geeks every Wednesday, talking the latest comic book and pop culture news and every Tuesday Breakfast for TV Talk. As a proud member of the Graffiti With Punctuation crew – a collective of Australia’s leading film bloggers — she makes up half of the Pod Save Our Screen podcast.

Based in Sydney, she lives in a house with too many movie posters and just the right amount of humans. Maria can often be found spending much money on comics, watching horror movies at stupid hours, inhaling books on modern feminist theory (aka anything Caitlin Moran touches) and holding on to the one belief she has had since she was five: that unicorns exist. She is most likely Mark Wahlberg’s future wife. Most likely…

Who’s Afraid? is her debut novel and is set to be released in Australia in January, 2016 through Hachette Australia and worldwide in July, 2016 from Piatkus/Little Brown Books. The sequel – Who’s Afraid Too? – is also scheduled to hit bookshelves shortly thereafter. (


Please make Maria welcome to my blog.

Maria Lewis

Let’s talk writing. Do you belong to a writers support group and if so how does this group support your writing efforts?…

I don’t officially, but I’m loosely associated with the Sydney Shadows which is a group for horror writers that has a few members I share an agent with and another called Hoff’s Babes, which was set up by the women I wrote a surfing anthology with for HarperCollins. Unofficially, I’ve had the benefit of growing up in a newsroom so the first people I met covering police rounds in the scanner room were teens like me and are still my best friends a decade later. They’re a mish-mash of political journalists, social affairs writers, entertainment writers, policy writers, the whole thing, so they’re always my first audience and my first sounding board. They have a trained eye so they’re looking for mistakes, which is handy, but because they’re all from such different areas of expertise it’s a good way to determine if I have something special. Can I make them all like it, usually for different reasons? Then that’s something to push forward with.


Who do you see as your prime audience?…

Essentially anyone who doesn’t physically recoil from the phrase “feminist werewolf tale”. Obviously Who’s Afraid? fits comfortably within the urban fantasy genre and will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, but I like to think that it has the potential to latch on to non-genre readers. It’s like a remix of all of my favourite bits of pop culture – from music and TV to horror and crime thrillers – so hopefully it’s perhaps a lil’ more accessible to people who might otherwise turn their nose up murder, mayhem and monsters.


Let’s talk books and influences. Who are your favourite authors?

Given all the press I’ve been doing lately you would think I’d have a better answer than just wanting to scream “ALL OF THEM!” at the top of my lungs, but here we are. Classically my faves include Mary Shelley, Roald Dahl, J.K Rowling, Stephen King, Michael Connelly, Gail Simone, Thomas Harris, Brian K Vaughan, Roxane Gay,Greg Rucka, Caitlin Moran etc. but in terms of authors who I’ll just pick up blindly without reading the blurb on the back of the book – that’s how consistently great these people are – it’s the likes of Charlaine Harris, Richelle Mead, Anne Bishop, Tom Taylor, Darynda Jones, Hillary Jordan, Kate Beaton, Maria V. Snyder, Patricia Briggs, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Noelle Stevenson (to wax lyrical about a few).


How would you describe Who’s Afraid? What genre do you think it fits?

The sound bite I keep going for is “gender-bent Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde with werewolves and swearing”, because that keeps everything pretty concise and in a nutshell. Mind you, someone did call it “Underworld meets Animal Kingdom” which I’m very fond of, far as descriptions go.


Is Who’s Afraid likely to go Manga or animated?

HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE HOLY SHIT?!?! No one has asked me that yet and although I don’t know about Manga, I could definitely see it as an animated series in a similar vein to the Blade and Spawn shows which both handled graphic and explicit content beautifully in that medium. The great thing about animated shows too is your not limited in terms of set pieces or special effects you have to master, so there’s almost unlimited potential there (just look at Korra!). Realistically though, I think the medium where we’re most likely to see Who’s Afraid? outside of bookshelves is on the screen, whether that be silver or small, as Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lexi Alexander (Green Street Hooligans, Supergirl, Arrow, Punisher: War Zone) has been very vocal on Twitter about wanting to make it her next project, which is like a fever dream come true to be honest. I honestly couldn’t think of anyone better to take on Who’s Afraid? than her.




Let’s talk tattoos. Tattoos these days are works of art- the colours are amazing, the tattooists are talented artists. Which is your favourite tattoo? …

Had to make a call here and assume you meant my tattoos, because there are a lot of characters in the novel with tattoos too but that’s a whole other thing. I have about 15 tattoos all up, most of which are part of a pop culture sleeve but there’s another half a dozen that are scattered around my body. Tattoos are honestly a gateway drug because once you find a fit with an artist or style that you like, it’s really hard to stop – especially for me, because I designed the first tattoo I wanted when I was 13 then waited until I hit 18 to get it done. As for my personal favourite… that is such a tough one, as it changes depending on my mood and also my tattoos are each pretty different, from plain black quotes (Jak Skallywag) to cute cartoon works (Mel Meline). Yes, okay, a favourite … it’s probably my Gambit feature piece. He’s my favourite X-Men and one of my favourite comic book characters ever and it’s just such a gorgeous, detailed and colourful work that’s a complete original. My pal Gooney Toons designed and inked it over the course of a marathon seven-hour session and every day I’m blown away with what he has created. It’s a real honour to have it on my body forever. Plus, it scored me lunch with Channing Tatum who saw the tattoo and happens to be playing the character in an upcoming movie this year, so it has wacky memories attached.


Let’s talk characters. Who influenced your portrayal of your gutsy female protagonist Tommi Grayson…

It was a combination of her a) being inspired by the fictional feminist heroines I grew up with in pop culture (Lt Ripley, Buffy, Clarice Starling and Ardelia Mapp, Daria, She-Hulk, Xena, Scully, Matilda, Huntress) and b) being a direct reaction to everything I wasn’t seeing (biracial, complicated heroines who didn’t necessarily have all of their shit together). It felt like the heroines I was reading in genre fiction were getting younger and younger, leading revolutions and reading William Blake poetry. At 15, I could barely find my genitals let alone inspire the masses. Tommi Grayson was the kind of heroine that I felt was realistic in her humanity: she’s imperfect, she’s impulsive, she’s irrational. Yes, you’re cheering for her but at the same time you’re likely to cringe at her course of action. That, I think, is what makes her interesting and whole on the page and I think it’s what people seem to be responding too as well.

Do you use a storyboard/listen to inspiring music etc. when you write?…

Both, actually. As I mentioned I grew up honing my writing skills in a newsroom which is one of the most hectic and noisy environments known to humanity. Naturally now when it comes to writing novels, I can’t function in the quiet: I need music and I also like the action of a bustling café or crowded park. I put together a playlist on Spotify ( ) that has a lot of the music mentioned specifically in the book or songs/bands that relate to specific characters, but it’s also a lot of the music I was listening to when putting the first book together. As for storyboards, I’m a very visual person so often times when I would hit a wall with the physical writing of Who’s Afraid? I’d turn to drawing as it was a great way for me to stay involved in the universe without having to type a damn thing. Tricky action scenes I like to storyboard, but a lot of my characters started out as sketches first and the descriptions of them you read in the novel are based off my (shoddy) drawings.

Who can you visualise playing the lead roles in the book? …

Oh ho ho, am I ready for this question! I’m a nerd who keeps a list in my phone that I add to and update all the time with people who I think would be perfect for the roles. Beginning with…

Tommi Grayson: Keisha Castle-Hughes (For me, there’s truly no one else. For the other characters I like to have a few other options but Keisha is where it’s at: she has the emotional depth and fierce quality like no other actress.)

Lorcan MacCarthy: Jakob Oftebro, Alex Russell, Amadeus Serafini

James ‘Poc’ Hughes: Marcus Richardson, Alfred Enoch, Jason Mitchell, Donald Glover

Joss Jabour: Munro Chambers, , Kyle Gallner, John Karna, Caleb Landry

Mari Bronberg: Sonia Suhl, Laurence Leboeuf, Karla Souza

Simon Tianne: Stan Walker, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer

James Ihi: Tia-Taharoa Maipi, James Rolleston


I hear there is a second book to be released shortly – Who’s Afraid Too? Can we have sneak peek??

I love your enthusiasm! Yes, Who’s Afraid Too? is ready to go and I have the first four books in the series done and dusted. Here’s a tidbit from book two:


“I trudged up the six flights of stairs and thought greedily about the big, soft bed I had waiting for me. Closing the apartment door with my back, I glanced at the creeping light coming through the windows as the sun began to rise. I stiffened, suddenly sensing the presence of someone else. There were two someones, as it turned out. Two women were standing less than a metre in front of me. They ran their eyes quickly over my appearance. They were identical twins. From their harsh and pointed facial features to the shaved heads and trim physiques, I wouldn’t have been surprised if every single cell was a perfect match. They were almost wearing matching outfits; black boots, black jeans, black t-shirts, and denim jackets. At least they had different styles of denim jackets. I noticed bulges emerging from strange places under their clothing. Weapons.

Immediately I sunk into a fight stance and backed up towards the kitchen. They looked surprised by this and glanced at each other before mirroring my own movements. Without looking behind me I reached back and drew two butcher’s knives from the holder on the counter. Everything about them looked dangerous and if I was going to have any chance of escaping this I needed to act quickly.

“Listen,” one of them started.

I didn’t wait to hear the rest of what she said because I had hurled a knife at her. My aim was true, but she darted out of its path with cat-like reflexes. I tried to dash for the door. Her sister beat me to it and landed a front kick directly in my chest. I went flying backwards and landed on the bench, smashing the plates we had left there from dinner. The wind was knocked completely out of me. I spun my legs around and made contact with the other twin as she tried to come closer. I flipped off the bench and grabbed a hanging saucepan in the process. Great. I was going to fight these two very skilled strangers with a saucepan and a knife. I was fucked.”



Maria can be contacted here:


Twitter @MovieMazz



F/Book MariaLewisWriter





Post Script: Who’s Afraid? – Maria Lewis

Who's Afraid?

Who’s Afraid?

Maria Lewis

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780349411149



Incredibly exciting new voice in paranormal fiction.

This is the story of Tommi, a young Scottish woman living an ordinary life, who stumbles violently into her birthright as the world’s most powerful werewolf. The sudden appearance of a dark, mysterious (and very attractive) guardian further confuses her as her powers begin to develop and she begins to understand that her life can never be the same again. The reader will be swept up in Tommi’s journey as she’s thrown into the middle of a centuries-old battle and a world peopled with expert warriors and vicious enemies – this is the start of a series – and a world – you will fall in love with.


My View:

For those who like their drama with a huge dollop of supernatural, full moon transformations, blood thirsty revenge scenes mingled with romance, this very adult paranormal is for you!


Maria Lewis has created a very confident, independent and as of the last full moon, very were wolf, female super hero called Tommi; blue haired, tattooed, artistic, creative, intelligent…I can see this protagonist winning lots of fans (and her “Guardian” – will inspire more than a few crushes I do think!) An exciting narrative with well-developed characters, this book yells out video game or 2D animation to me.


Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

completed challenge


Congrats! You have read 200 books of a goal of 200!

Now that wasn’t so hard was it? It is the reviewing 200 books that is the hard work.


Do You Like Big Books?

Big Books 13/11/015

We are back from our holiday and this is part of the treat that was awaiting our return –  what a humongous pile of books – and look at the size of them?   These are not books to snack on – these are meals in themselves. Do you see anything here you fancy? Where to start….