Review: Goosebumps Series by R. L. Stine

Goosebumps is a series of children’s horror fiction novellas created and authored by R.L. Stine. Sixty-two books were published under the Goosebumps umbrella title from 1992 to 1997, the first being Welcome to Dead House, and the last being Monster Blood IV

With many turning to the spooky, scary or creepy at this time of year, Goosebumps seems to be a go to for many. Both young and old love these stories. My favourite is and always will be #7 Night of the Living Dummy. Lindy names the ventriloquist’s dummy she finds Slappy. Slappy is kind of ugly, but he’s a lot of fun. Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil Things.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t love a story where a doll comes to life and creates havoc?


Okay, maybe not always.

Other tales depict ghosts, werewolves, scarecrows, phantoms, monsters and even gnomes. Stine has a gift for telling stories that both the young and old enjoy. Pushing the Creep-O-meter just enough to be enjoyed by some as young as 8 and 9.


If this Halloween you are after a fun, spooky read, pick up any of the 62 titles under the Goosebumps name and you will be sure to enjoy.


As a whole I give the series five stars. If you have read a Goosebumps book you know why, if you have yet to pick up one of his titles, now is your chance, go out and grab whichever cover catches your eye, curl up on the couch and delve into the creepy mind of R. L. Stine.

Rebecca is an avid reader and passionate writer. Her novel Enchanting the Fey will be published later this year, and you can find her tweeting here.


Don’t be afraid to write fear

With the spooky month upon us I thought I might share with you my thoughts on how to write fear effectively.

I should start by pointing out that I hate being scared. My son’s enjoy trying to frighten the life out of me every chance they get and often tag me in jump-scare videos on Facebook to try to get a rise. So it surprised me that I would enjoy writing scary scenes so much.

We put our characters (or in many cases they put themselves) in situations that would frighten either themselves or the others around them, so how do we effectively portray fear?

Firstly you will need to understand your characters completely. You need to really know what terrifies them. Then you need to understand that as we don’t all share the same fears it can be difficult to adequately portray fear to your readers.

We don’t want to tell our readers that the MC is scared, ie: Violet was terrified of the big bad beast. NO NO NO! We need to understand that the MC is terrified by addressing all the senses.

Sight: The MC might  stare at the object of their fear, or might turn away, avoiding eye contact completely.

Sound: The sound of heavy breathing, the characters pulse drumming in their ears, cries of pain, are all examples of how sound can be used to help portray fear.

Touch: Are they sweating, is their skin prickled? They could be shaking uncontrollably frozen in place.

Smell: Smells are something that bring forth memories so easily. Use smell to your advantage whenever you can. If something is rotting have the stench waft over the MC, if blood covers the floor have its sweet odor hang in the air. The air could be thick with the foul stench of rotting flesh.

Taste: Taste is not as easy, but you can still use it whenever possible. The metallic taste of blood clung to their mouth no matter how much water they drank, or your MC could force down the bile that rose into their mouth at the sight of so much blood,it left it’s fiery tang at the back of their throat.

So if using the MC we mentioned earlier we could rewrite the line to more effectively portray fear;

Violet stared wide eyed at the creature emerging from the shadows. It’s paws slapped against the wet ground with each slow step it took towards her. The light from the moon shimmered across its bristled fur and for a second she thought it could just be a dog, but then it tossed back its head and opened its jaws.Violet threw her hands over her ears as it let out a shrill howl. The beasts foul breath engulfed her and she moved her hands to cover her mouth barley in time to hold back the bile that now burned at the back of her throat.

I have used an extreme example here, but even in the more realistic scenarios, addressing the senses will give your readers a better chance of understanding your characters fear rather than skimming over it when being told simply that the character was afraid.


Our Fav Fictional Father Figures


The whole parental influence in fiction—particularly the lack of—is one that is spoken about a lot, especially when it comes to YA books. I think we can all agree father figures play an important role in fiction so we have put together our four favourites (which really shouldn’t have been as hard as it was).


Mr Bennet: Pride and Prejudice


This is a father that is unashamedly flawed. He shows his love for his family more than a man of that era should. Indulges his wife’s, and on many occasions daughter’s, every whim, and he didn’t have the foresight to provide for a household of woman in a time where that was the man’s responsibility.

But there’s no denying he’d move the world for his family, and his subtle humour that sparks throughout the book is a welcome relief to Mrs Bennet’s melodrama.


Arthur Weasley: Harry Potter

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This is a father who is overshadowed by a formidable wife, and could easily be perceived as weak. From the start of the series, he’s a man who comes across as naïve and at times, immature, due to his love of muggle artifacts that he clearly knows nothing about.

But this love and passion is part of his strength. He is a character who is the ultimate morale compass. There’s never any doubt that he’d put himself between the greater good and the death eaters and this quality is one that is mirrored in each of the Weasley children (except Percy. But we don’t talk about Percy).


Haymitch Abernathy: The Hunger Games


Written as a man who is in many ways the opposite of Arthur Weasley. He’s a drunk recluse who often encourages the worst aspects of Katniss’s personality. He’s also real in his struggles and portrays the type of man who has fallen to his lowest point, and is forced to reinvent himself. He pushes Katniss out of her comfort zone and forces her to make the hard choices she would have otherwise shied away from.

He proves over again throughout the series that he’s in Katniss’s corner, and even when he makes the wrong call in her eyes, it’s come from a paternal place. Collins has portrayed a believable friction and power struggle between Haymitch and Katniss that teens are able to relate to.
Albus Dumbledore: Harry Potter


Dumbledore, right from the beginning of the series, is portrayed as the ultimate father figure. He’s set up as the person Harry can rely upon the most. As the series progresses though, we’re provided with more depth and complexity to the choices he’s faced with and the decisions he makes.

Dumbledore, while caring greatly for Harry, is focused on the Greater Good, and how to amend for his past transgressions. The responsibility he feels for the creation of Lord Voldemort leads him to willingly gamble Harry’s life. He makes the most common mistake a parent can make in not trusting Harry to make the right decision for himself, and relies on deception and half truths to lead Harry to the result he desires.



Review: Vampire Shift by Tim O’Rourke

When 20-year-old police recruit Kiera Hudson is posted to the remote town of The Ragged Cove, her life is changed forever. Investigating a series of horrific murders, grave desecrations, and missing persons, Kiera uses her unique ability of seeing, and soon realizes her own life is in danger. When Kiera falls for police officer Luke Bishop, not only are her mind and heart opened to a terrifyingly new world, she comes to suspect that Luke might be involved in the killings. In a race against time to unearth the truth, Kiera must discover the identity of who – or what – is behind the gruesome deaths on her Vampire Shift.

I love the cover of this book. I love that in this book, vampires are what they should be, blood sucking monsters. I love the scenes in which O’Rourke forgets that he is writing and manages to deliver a gripping sequence that the reader becomes lost in. Those are the things that I love, now to the things I did not.

1: I think that in most cases a man writing a woman lead is carried out in a believable way, in this case it was not.

“It ain’t right,” she said, pouring me a mug of coffee.

“What isn’t?” I asked.

“A pretty girl like you being a cop ‘an all.”

“How’s that?” I asked, kind of flattered by her remark.

WTF – Now this comes after the MC is also looking all bruised and cut up so for one, how would she be looking ‘pretty’ right now, but most importantly why the hell should she be flattered by that remark? It continues this way throughout the book, in one instance stating that if a woman had been in the car recently she would have cleaned the smudge on the passenger mirror so that she could check her makeup.

2: The MC sees things others do not, not a superpower but rather a keen observer, great, we get it, but that does not mean we need you to describe everything she sees and does in finite detail. 1/5 of this book could have been cut simply by removing over explanations of her surroundings.

3: Her mothers disappearance is mentioned 40% in and is the reason behind her joining the force, this should have been mentioned earlier.

4: Why on earth would a police force keep sending officers to a station where the officers keep disappearing? Seriously….WHY? If the reason for her being there isn’t believable how can you expect us to believe the rest of what we are reading?

5: This book desperately needed a BETA reader, someone to point out when things do not make sense, when questions are raised but not answered, when the words you are writing read like a laundry list.

I did not hate the book, I skimmed over the over explanations, and forced my way through the offensive depiction of the female lead and at the end I can say I finished a not great but not terrible book about vampires. This one I would love to see rereleased after a thorough rewrite and a professional edit.


Rebecca is a writer, mother, crafter and cake maker. With three children and a full time job, many of the characters bouncing around in her head will just have to wait to have their stories told. You can find her tweeting here.



My dad, my writing and his poetry

My father influenced my love of literature. He would read to my sister and me a lot when


My Dad, me (left) and my sister.

we were growing up. I remember the three of us snuggled together as Dad would read out loud fables and the like. He fostered our love of books, and continued the tradition with my children as well.

About seven years ago, my dad asked me if I was writing a vampire story when he found out I was attempting to write a novel, and was genuinely surprised when I said no. I didn’t share my secret writing with my parents until I was working on my novel. I’d written poetry and short stories before that. I don’t know why I didn’t tell them. And it’s something I shared with my dad.

Dad was a poet. But he did like to share them. He would write the poem out, as though to get it out of his head, and then throw it away. Until my mum convinced him to let her keep some. He write a children’s rhyming book about a bunyip and did the illustrations in an exercise book. I adore that story.

My dad and I were very different personality wise, but our love of the written word is a bond we will always share, even now he’s gone. While Dad wouldn’t want the fuss, I’m going to share some of his poems that he wrote about me and my sister. They are simple poems, but they mean so much to me. I hope they make you smile too.

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Sharon is a Young Adult and New Adult author from sunny Queensland, who has a thing for unicorns and cats. She plays far too much Pokemon Go, and gets up early in the morning to take down gyms when she could use that time for writing. She loves chatting to people on Twitter so come and say hi!

Top Five Bookish Gifts for Blokes

Although Father’s Day is over for another year, at least in Australia, there are always other gift-giving occasions on the horizon. So here are some ideas for gifts for the bookish man in your life — be that your father, husband, brother or son.

Or, you know, these gifts could be for yourself, whether or not you’re a bloke. Because self-love is important and the notion of gendered gifts is a bit last-century anyway.😉


I’ve blogged about awesome bookends before, but that was a couple of years ago, and even if you’ve bought all of them by now surely you need more, right? Check out this little beauty by Fred & Friends. It’s called “The End”, which is pretty much perfect. Run, little bookend guy, run!


Available from Fred & Friends

Bookwear for work

Or maybe the person you’re buying for doesn’t need bookends because they’ve filled up all their bookshelves with (quite rightly) books. How about a bookish accessory, something to wear in the office? This tie from Alynn would definitely impress the boss. At least, it would impress me if I were the boss!

Ex Libris tie

Available from Alynn

Bookwear for play

Maybe the man in your life hates ties, or works with heavy machinery where a tie would be a workplace health and safety risk. If that’s the case, how about this adorable “Storytellers” T-shirt by vector artist Maxim Cyr, available from Threadless? Look at all the little books? There’s a Harry Potter, and a Charlotte’s Web, and aaaaah!


Available from Threadless

Bookish accessories

Or maybe he has (or you have!) enough T-shirts — though I say shenanigans to that — but has an iDevice or some other brand of tablet or phone that currently has a really boooooring case. You can totally fix that! This particular example, by Customize Me on Etsy, is for an iPad Mini, but the store also has options for other brands of phone etc.

Available from Etsy

Available from Etsy


Because what a bookworm needs is more books, am I right? That being said, I know it’s hard to buy books for bookworms, because you can never be sure that they won’t already own what you’re buying. In that case, why not get a book voucher. It might sound boring, but to a bookworm, a voucher for a bricks and mortar bookstore is the equivalent of a bag of money for a child in a lolly shop. Seriously. They will love you for it!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shopping. For the man in my life. Yes, that’s right.

*shifty eyes*


Cassandra Page is a speculative fiction author who is currently single. So she’ll have to keep all these bookish purchases for herself. What a pity!

Cassandra Page

What ya reading, Dad?

This month a few of us are talking about Dads as it’s Father’s Day here in Australia. I love giving book pressies and this special occasion is no different.

That’s why I wanted to share five reasons to celebrate dads who read:

1. They’re likely to be good people (note this comes from my deep rooted bias that readers = awesome)

2. A book is a much better gift than a pair of socks (though I’m partial to bookish socks…)

3. Dads who read mean you never have that sick feeling of no idea of what to get them

4. Dads who read encourage kids who read = more readers

5. Reader dads have something to talk about with their kids. And they read different to mums and friends and help make us into better people… I mean readers.




beck nicholas_ bec sampson

I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.