Thursday, 23 November 2017

We are home & November comp

Waves - so we went a wee road trip, you will have followed our progress if you follow the Instagram account, if not click here for a wee nosey.

Despite it being really cold and feeling miserable I did manage to get a few books read so catching up on reviews. We also had a nice walk, sea view is just lovely the pictures don't do it justice and there are a fair few abandoned buildings I kept thinking a few of my fave authors would get a great story out of some of them.

So, to the giveaway. I had put a poll up on Twitter to see if folk would prefer a Harry Potter themed giveaway or just a normal bookish one, Harry P won hands down. I had initially wanted to do something with one item from each house, however it is the 23rd of November and some items have failed to show. So the giveaway is now as follows, one golden snitch chain, the middle flips open to reveal a clock. One pair of slippers, from Primark, size 6-8, these are super soft, I bought a wee pair for myself and love them (featured on my insta) the soles read Harry Potter. And one beanie style hat that had the Gryffindor logo, all as pictured below.

To enter, as always, just use the Rafflecopter below, open worldwide. For each entry you claim please ensure you have completed it. Good luck to all, feel free to share and if you have a blog feel free to drop the link with your comment below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 17 November 2017

Alive by Piers Paul Read

Alive: The True Story of the Andes SurvivorsAlive: The True Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 4 days

Pages - 320

Publisher - Arrow

Source - Amazon

In 1972, a Fairchild plane carrying forty-five passengers, including the Uruguayan rugby team, crashed in the Andes mountains. The thirty-two survivors were hopelessly lost in one of the most remote places on earth.

After eight days of heavy snowfall, the rescue attempt was abandoned. Even if the plane could be found, the likelihood of the forty-five passengers and crew being discovered alive was remote. Yet ten weeks later two emaciated men fell to their knees at the sight of a Chilean peasant tending his cattle in a remote Andean valley. After finally persuading the incredulous authorities that they really were passengers from the missing plane, the two men led a rescue team to the site of the crash, the remaining fourteen survivors and a tale of horrific bravery.

Putting to rest the rumours and criticism the survivors suffered, Alive exposes the inescapable truth and stark courageousness of how they lived to tell their story. Weakened by starvation, extreme cold, and by the awful knowledge that the search had been called off, the survivors had to face the torturous reality of their situation: to live, they must eat the flesh of their dead companions...

My Review

The book opens with a brief acknowledgement from the author to the folk who helped him with his writing and the honest feedback from the survivors after reading it. The book is about the true story of the survivors of the plane that crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. We open with a wee bit of background on the country, the passengers and then follow them on their journey before boarding, during flight and after the crash. The is the true story of what the survivors endured, what happened to everyone on board and how they survived to have their story told.

I had seen the movie years ago but I had never read the book. I think whilst it is safe to say the movie itself is emotional it doesn't pack half the punch of the tale within the book. Friendship, terror, starvation, survival, situations most of us cannot conceive of, these people lived through it. I could have read the book in one sitting but for the fact it was so horrific, knowing these poor souls went through it, actually lived through it and the suffering of those who did not, heartbreaking.This edition of the book has photographs in two sections, none are graphic or show remains, it is photographs of the team before take off and on the plane, afterwards some of the survivors, rescue and the grave on the mountain.

It is not a book for the faint hearted, some decisions you just cannot imagine ever having to make, cannibalism, life and death and through it all, friendship, faith and religion. You just cannot imagine it and I had to keep putting the book down to process my thoughts and feelings and that was just me reading of their experience. I would have liked to have known more about the survivors, the book does look briefly at the immediate after but in contrast to the before and during it was very little. I hope wherever they are they have found peace, this is a book that will stay with me long after the last page was turned, 4/5 for me.

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

Lost SolaceLost Solace by Karl Drinkwater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 273

Publisher - Organic Apocalypse

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Sometimes spaceships disappear with everyone on board – the Lost Ships. But sometimes they come back, strangely altered, derelict, and rumoured to be full of horrors.

Opal is on a mission. She’s been seeking something her whole life. Something she is willing to die for. And she thinks it might be on a Lost Ship.

Opal has stolen Clarissa, an experimental AI-controlled spaceship, from the military. Together they have tracked down a Lost Ship, in a lonely nebula far from colonised space.

The Lost Ship is falling into the gravity well of a neutron star, and will soon be truly lost … forever. Legends say the ships harbour death, but there’s no time for indecision.

Opal gears up to board it. She’s just one woman, entering an alien and lethal environment. But perhaps with the aid of Clarissa’s intelligence – and an armoured spacesuit – Opal may stand a chance.

Can she face her demons and survive?

My Review

Opal is a woman on a mission, she has stolen a ship and took off looking for one of the Lost Ships, many have gone missing and rumours of horror on those that come back altered, Opal is driven to find one specific ship. With an experimental artifical intelligence (AI) built in, that she calls Clarissa, Opal puts her very life at risk both from the military and what lies waiting in the Lost Ship.

Oooh think Event Horizon with a bit of "Mother" from the Alien movies and that was the overall feel when I first started this book. The AI is a brilliant character add as just one human in space would take a lot of work to make engaging. The story breaks down into a fair few parts, the journey to find the Lost Ship, the understanding and development of the AI as the story unfolds. The bad guys who are chasing her, what lies within the ship awaiting and everything that transpires after.

The action on the ship is creepy and you are left with questions, well I was and sought out the author to find out if there will be another visit to this story. Thankfully there will be as I hate being left with unanswered questions and we are going to get another two books woohoo!

Opal is a fantastic character, complex, a history we learn a bit more about as we read on, she is heroic, loyal, strong and long long overdue in fiction. I loved the AI too and the relationship that formed between the two, the balsy choices and bravery through frightening encounters and life and death situations.

Whilst the build up was slow in the very beginning it created a tense, claustrophic and eerie atmosphere, perfect for space and kept me flying through page after page. Where was it going, could I trust X,Y,Z or rather could Opal, her choices, was that right, what would happen! I love when a book keeps you on your toes and I think sci-fi is such a tough genre as fans can be hyper critical. I thought this was a great opening to new characters and definitely a foundation book, the origins are done now I can't wait for the meat of it all, the where, why, what are they, what is next! 4/5 for me this time, I have read this author before but not this particular genre from them, I very much look forward to the next installment and will be rooting on my fav character(s).

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Written in Blood by Layton Green

Written in BloodWritten in Blood by Layton Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 4 days

Publisher - Seventh Street Books

Pages - 320

Source - Review copy, author

Blurb from Goodreads

Detective Joe "Preach" Everson, a prison chaplain turned police officer, is coming home. After a decade tracking down killers in Atlanta, and with a reputation as one of the finest homicide detectives in the city, his career derailed when he suffered a mental breakdown during the investigation of a serial killer who was targeting children.

No sooner does Preach arrive at home in Creekville, North Carolina--a bohemian community near Chapel Hill--than a local bookstore owner is brutally killed, the first murder in a decade. The only officer with homicide experience, Preach is assigned to the case and makes a shocking discovery: the bookstore owner has been murdered in exactly the same manner as the pawnbroker in Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

With the help of Ariana Hale, a law student and bibliophile who knew the victim, Preach investigates the local writer's community. As their questions increase, a second body is found, this time eerily resembling the crime scene in a famous Edgar Allan Poe novella. Preach and Ariana realize that their adversary is an intelligent, literate killer with a mind as devious as it is disturbed--and one or both of them may be his next target.

My Review

Preach is back in his hometown, with quite an impressive past behind him he is now a cop and a crime needs solved. Preach has to deal with his past, leaving his people and problems, being a priest and now returned a police officer. The killer is smart ^ the crime scene mirrors that of a famous book, what is the message and why did they kill that particular person? With the help of Ariana who works in the bookstore, the bookstore where the murder happened, together they have to piece it together.

This is a very mixed bag to be honest, I loved the authors turns of phrase, I find because I read so much I see and hear a lot of the same terms. I loved the crime scenes that brought about other famous works and authors, in fact I went off and bought one after reading some of the stuff mentioned in the book. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, for your information, only 49p on Amazon kindle at time of posting. The crimes are clever as are the references and there is subtle humour throughout the book. There are also kickbacks to Preach's past, his breakdown and the case that caused it, the strained family history and the conflicting feelings he has whilst working the case.

It is a busy wee book and I felt it could have been so much longer and gave more scope and depth to Preach, his past and the decisions that followed rather than small reflections. I guess it is a testament to the authors writing that he has left the reader absolutely wanting more. I hope he does a throwback book and takes us back to Preach, the case that near broke him and his journey through Priesthood until going into being a man of the law. I think that would work really well and probably give more scope for enjoyment with this book. I found I just had a fair few questions I would have liked answered in relation to Preach's past and what made him who he is now.

The pace is good although I felt the end came far too quickly, I absolutely wanted more. This was my first time reading this author although I see he has written quite a lot prior to this, I will be seeking out more of his work. 3.5 stars for me for this one, thanks to the author for introducing me to his work, it will not be our last dance. Written in Blood is out to buy now in ebook and treebook format.

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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Blog tour - The Good Samaritan by John Marrs

Today is my turn on the blog tour for John Marrs new book, The Good Samaritan, you can read my review HERE. Also featuring today on the tour is the lovely Emma R from Screen Wipe, TV, MOVIE and BOOK review blog, stop by for a visit here! You can see the rest of the blog tour below, be sure to have a nosey as everyone will be sharing different content/reviews/features.

John very kindly took time out of his vacation to answer some questions for us, much appreciated and I hope the rest of the holiday was fabulous.

Wow, the character Laura, just wow. How hard or easy did you find writing her?

She was so complex, one minute I hated her and the next I felt sympathetic towards her. I loved writing her bitchy comments and having listened to the audiobook recently and seeing how well they worked, I wish I’d made her a little funnier. But her dark side gave me sleepless nights. And making her an unreliable narrator enabled me to wrong foot the reader more than once. She is the most complex character I’ve written since Simon in When You Disappeared.

The book is very dark, for many reasons, did you find this more difficult than your previous books?

Yes. It took it out for me for a few reasons. It was the first book I wrote under contract and to a deadline, and writing in first person is always tougher than third person. I felt there was a lot of pressure on me but most of that came from myself. Then there’s the subject matter. Getting into the head of someone so alien to me, like Laura, was hard. And then trying to imagine how I’d feel if I lost a loved one to suicide was difficult. But I wanted both perspectives - to understand what drives people to do it and how those who are left behind try and deal with the aftermath. It is awful for all concerned and my heart goes out to anyone in that situation.

How much research did you have to undertake for the book? Did you enjoy it?

I interviewed my friend’s partner quite extensively about his volunteer work for a helpline charity and the dos and donts when speaking to someone. I also researched depression and having had friends that have suffered badly from it, they gave me an insight into their thinking. I also looked at websites dedicated to informing people how to end their lives. I found that the most shocking, it had never dawned on me that such places existed. So no, I didn’t enjoy the research process.

Now the book is complete, does any of it or the characters stay with you?

No, once I’m done with a book, it’s over for me. I tend to start thinking about the next one. I have to be careful not to take any character’s characteristics over to my next story though. I don’t want to keep repeating myself in each book.

I found the book kept me on my toes with so much unexpected turns, how hard is it to keep a story fresh and surprising?

It just happens when I’m writing. I’ll have a basic plot and storyline in mind but once I get started it can veer all over the place. When I read a book, I want to be kept on my toes. And I like to try and do that with the books I write. It’s a fine line though between keeping things a surprise and not making them sound unbelievable.

Some authors say they start with an ending and work from there, some know the whole story, how do you write?

I generally go in all directions with a story. I never write methodically. I do chapters here, there and everywhere, back to front and front to back. Then I’ll tie it all together. The thought of writing 110,000 words in order horrifies me.

For anyone who doesn’t know who she is lol, tell us about the woman behind your character “the masculine looking” Tracy Fenton

Ha! Tracy is a well-known reviewer and founder of THE book club on Facebook which has more than 7000 avid reader members. She messaged me on Goodreads after my first book came out and was key in introducing me to a whole new audience. Since then, we have become friends and she has popped up in my books as a lawyer and a talent show host. She’s like Where’s Wally? in my books now.

Do you think there will be another book revisiting any of the characters from this book?

I don’t have any plans to write a sequel. There are characters from all of my books that can dip in and out of future stories as guest appearances. But I’ve put so much effort into a book that once the last draft is over, that is generally it for me.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a story about two British detective is on the hunt for a killer in London. While it is not necessarily crime procedural, there are prime procedural elements to it. It’s the first time I’ve attempted a story like this. It won’t be out until next autumn.

11. Where do you prefer chatting with your fans?

Twitter @johnmarrs1
Instagram @johnmarrsauthor
Website John Marrs

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Hellbound by David McCaffrey

HellboundHellbound by David McCaffrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 300

Publisher - Britains Next Bestseller

Source - Amazon (ebook) & Print copy from the author

Blurb from Goodreads

His crimes - unforgivable. His death - inevitable. His suffering - just beginning.

Obadiah Stark aka The Tally Man, is executed at ADX Absolom, his death sentence watched by the world's media, victim relatives and one investigative reporter, Joe O Connell. Penning an account of Stark's personal history and subsequent crimes in the hope of determining what elements make the sociopathic mind tick, Joe discovers clues and inconsistencies which cause him to investigate Stark's execution.

While this is happening in the real world, Obadiah Stark awakens to an afterlife where he has a wife and daughter bound to his childhood hometown. Following his natural predatory instinct, Obadiah proceeds to torment the town, committing multiple murders before being gunned down by the police. He awakens to find that everything has reset, with no one recalling his murderous spree a reality which offers no escape. As the scenes repeat, he is forced to submit to emotions he has never experienced before... and with it, a poisonous dose of morality.

My Review

Obadiah Stark is a killing machine, no morals, no care for any human and no remorse even when he is about to die, by the hand of the state. Joe O'Connell has been wrapped up in his job, a journalist covering Obadiah's murder and destruction, now Obadiah is dead he can focus on his book. However not all as it seems, after a tip off Joe starts digging into Stark's life and death taking him down a path there is no way back from. For Stark, he expects to finally find peace, only to awaken back in his hometown with loved ones around him making him question his sanity and existence.

The story is really split threefold, that of Stark just before and following the execution, Joe just before the execution and what happens after and the profiling of Stark and his crimes dottered throughout the book. I have to say Stark was the most riveting, whilst reading the profiling was also gripping it had a very different feel and pace to that of Stark and it made for a bit of distraction. Absolutely interesting in its own offering and insights, adding a different voice to the story. Whereas Joe brought a humane feel to the book as with the reader, he tries to understand Stark's impact on the families, those left behind in his path of destruction and who the killer actually was.

Obadiah, post execution was the real gripper for me. You, like him, have no actual idea of what has happened and we get to see the killing machine unleashed without boundaries. As with everything there are no actions without consequences and watching the penny drop for Obadiah and how he reacts was something I haven't read in fiction so far. An interesting and fresh premise from McCaffrey and made for a great page turner to see what was in store next for the characters. I think I need to re read In Extremis now before heading onto the newest offering "Nameless", 4/5 for me this time.

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Gothic night at Waterstones

So on a pretty cold October night we headed down to Waterstones for a wee gothic night. Three authors, one I had heard of, who hasn't heard of the fabulous Michael J Malone :D Anthony O'Neill and Charles McGarry.

Not my best photograph but some of these I had taken with my mobile. The books all had a wee reading from each author.

Anthony O'Neill read from Dr Jekyll and Mr Seek.

Charles McGarry read from his book "The Ghost of Helen Addison".

And Michael J Malone reading from his book "House of Spines".

All of our authors were interviewed by the lovely Sharon B from Chapter In My Life, if you aren't familiar with her blog please check it out.

There were drinks provided free of charge, wine, water and soft drinks, we partook in a wee orange juice, I was working the next evening and never have a tipple of any kind if on the next day.

For the event I wore my Christopher Lee Dracula T shirt I picked up when I was at Liverpool horrorcon & my wee chain I got from one of the stalls, do you recognise which movie she is from?

When I was leaving these fabulous bookmarks caught my eye, I didn't buy them that night but went back for them a few days later. Stainless steel British Writers, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and William Shakespeare. You know I love a bookmark so couldn't resist.

Well from I first started reviewing

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