Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard

The Glass GuardianThe Glass Guardian by Linda Gillard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages -

Publisher - Self published

Source - Bought from Amazon (e book), Print copy from the author

Blurb from Goodreads

Ruth Travers has lost a lover, both parents and her job. Now she thinks she might be losing her mind...

When death strikes again, Ruth finds herself the owner of a dilapidated Victorian house on the Isle of Skye: Tigh na Linne, the summer home she shared as a child with her beloved Aunt Janet, the woman she’d regarded as a mother.

As Ruth prepares to put the old house up for sale, she’s astonished to find she’s not the only occupant. Worse, she suspects she might be falling in love...

With a man who died almost a hundred years ago.

My Review

Ruth Travers cannot escape death and loss in a short period of time. Her job, her partner, both parents are deceased and now her beloved aunt has passed. With her death comes the beautiful but in need of work Tigh na Linne located in the Isle of Skye. Ruth finds herself trying to sort her own life and through that of her aunt whilst back in a place she loved as a child. With a childhood friend who is now a rugged and handsome handy man, childhood memories flooding back and Ruth finds she isn't alone in the big house. Things are being moved around, the temperature drops suddenly and Ruth comes face to face with a ghostly presence that links to her childhood and the house.

So The Glass Guardian isn't your routine ghost story, for a start it is more about relationships, acceptance, love, personal growth and family. It is hard to go into too much detail without spoiling the story and I never do spoiler reviews. Ruth is in a world of hurt, she has lost much and isn't too sure of herself, her life and what she needs to recover. Coming back to the beautiful house that held so much happiness and security for her is bittersweet as it is yet another loss that brings her to it. She finds her world shook up a little more with her old childhood friend(s) and her now relationship with them. Tom is eager to help, pushy and at least one scene with them may make for uncomfortable reading, an element of sex but it is brief.

The book takes a look at family history, grief and how it affects us all differently. The characters are carved out beautifully, one we can love, one we can identify with, one we distrust and question their motives. Ultimately, even with a ghost we have a very human story, looking at love in its many forms, music and recovery. Gillard has a way of sweeping the reader into a world of characters you can easily envision and get quickly invested in their lives. I bought up most of her books after reading House of Silence but as I enjoyed it so much I kept them for a rainy day. After reading this I need to bump them up, I bought this as an ebook and got a beautiful print version from the author. 4/5 for me this time, at time of posting the ebook is only £0.99 on Amazon.

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

State Of Emergency by Mary Hallberg

State of EmergencyState of Emergency by Mary Hallberg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 158

Publisher - Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Source - Author (review request)

Blurb from Goodreads

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas's eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

My Review

New Orleans is the place and Dallas is our main character, opening with her sister and small town sensation Tatum. Tatum is making it big as a singer, the press can't get enough of her and Dallas is pretty fed up. Going from teenage angst to the start of a zombie apocalypse we follow Dallas and her friends as they try to convince people it is happening to travelling to a place of safety.

I went back and forth on this being 3.5 to a 4 star rating, I went for 4 stars as we have the origins of the outbreak which is new for me. We follow the very beginning and slow spread of panic to the realization of what is upon them. The protagonist has a very different kind of weapon, a pizza cutter, just to be clear, I initially thought it was the wee circular one we use however it is the curved blade one, quite different!

It is a small read at only 158 pages and I felt we could have had much much more, I have messaged the author to see if there are any more coming in the series, I do hope so. The characters, there wasn't any I connected with, probably because they are teens although I liked the idea of the uncle and would love to hear his story.

The book covers many issues, teen angst, death, survival, relationships and a few darker themes as well as zombies. I can't give a warning to the darker topic without spoiling but anyone who likes or reads zombies novels has a general feel for what they cover. 4/5 for me this time, thanks to the author for introducing me to her work.

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Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert

The Ghosts Of Sleath (David Ash, #2)The Ghosts Of Sleath by James Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 4 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Harper Collins

Source - Bookshop

Blurb from Goodreads

Psychic investigator David Ash delves into the mysterious events terrorizing the community of Sleath, and as each dark secret is unveiled, evil forces are unleashed, and Ash fears for his own sanity as well as that of the village people.

My Review

This is the second book in a trilogy, I would advise reading the first as you get a better idea of who Ash is and why he behaves as he does. David Ash works for the Psychical Research Institute with Kate McCarrick, unlike many in the field David is a skeptic, despite his own experiences and works to disprove rather than prove hauntings. This book sees him go to Sleath, a small town with an increase in weird episodes and violence among the towns folk. Ash finds himself failing to explain it all away and his own past being addressed.

The theme is darker in this one, extreme violence, abuse, sexual abuse, hauntings, rituals you name it Herbert covers it. It is certainly one of his more spookier books and now I have read the first two I have re bought the third to re read as I didn't love it and think it was my lack of background on the character and themes in this book and the previous.

Ash is so unlucky and the fact he is so focused on disproving hauntings I think says a lot about what happens to his character and all that befalls him. He is complex and this book gives us a bit more of his history helping to understand why he is the way he is. The chapters are short, the atmosphere is eerie and pulls you in pretty much from the get go. A perfect October read although as with some of the themes readers should be cautious incase of upset. If you aren't easily triggered and like a dark, supernatural read with complex characters and a ghost or two you will love this book, 4/5 for me this time.

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

Deviant The shocking true story of Ed Gein by Harold Schechter

Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original "Psycho" by Harold Schechter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 2 days

Pages - 242

Publisher - Gallery Books

Blurb fro Goodreads

From Harold Schechter, “America's principle chronicler of its greatest psychopathic killers” (The Boston Book Review), comes the definitive account of Ed Gein, whose ghoulish crimes stunned an unsuspecting nation.

The year is 1957. Photographs would show him across the country: a slight, Midwestern man with a twisted little smile, a man who had lived for ten years in his own world of murder and depravity.

Here is the grisly true story of Ed Gein, the killer whose fiendish fantasies inspired Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho”—the mild-mannered farmhand bound to his domineering mother, driven into a series of gruesome and bizarre acts beyond all imagining. In chilling detail, Deviant explores the incredible career of one of the most twisted madmen in the annals of American crime—and how he turned a small Wisconsin farmhouse into his own private playground of ghoulishness and blood.

My Review

Ed Gein was a quiet man who helped out about town and sometimes maybe got his good will taken advantage of. So when woman went missing in his small town no one would have thought to look at him, evidence came to light and Ed was questioned, leading the police to find horrors in his house that shook the world!

True crime can be stranger than fiction, the case of Ed Gein went on to inspire fiction such as the killer in Silence of the Lambs and the character from Psycho, Norman Bates. The story of Ed Gein is not for the faint hearted and really uncomfortable to read, worse so because you know it is fact. They discuss another killer and highlight some necrophilia, sexual deviancy and the things they found in Gein's house. It is the thought that one human being can commit such atrocities to another and integrate with society as if nothing had happened.

This is a book that will haunt the reader, how it is written so you can visualize the horrors that the police found, graphic details leaving no room for doubt. This is one of the darkest true crime books I have read, I think because the acts were so heinous, the missed opportunities and contact people had with him. Then of course all that transpired after he was caught, the book also examines his upbringing and relationships with his family. His mother was a "unique" woman, religious and had a hard line on the way her boys should be attributing to Ed's isolation and ability to form relationships. It is one of the crime stories that shook America and years later it continues to shock anyone who reads it. The writing flows and it is a hard book to put down, even though you really really want to, 4/5 for me. Absolutely not for the faint hearted guys, read this one with caution.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Beneath The Skin by Caroline England - Blog Tour

Please check out the other stops on the tour.

Today is my stop on the blog tour for debut novel "Beneath The Skin" by Caroline England. The PR post from Avon books was bloody fabulous. They sent rose petals, a wee compact mirror with a smudge of lipstick and a birth certificate extract.

As you can see Princess Trixie loved having a nosey and pose.

Here is my review for Beneath The Skin!

Beneath the SkinBeneath the Skin by Caroline England
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 362

Publisher - Avon

Blurb from Goodreads

No-one remembers your past. But you do.
‘Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’

It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets.

Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.

Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth. Antonia is safe. Isn’t she?

The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?

My Review

This was a very different read from what I was expecting, especially with the blurb and PR material I was expecting a psychological thriller type read. In fact it is about secrets, mental health, friendships, lies, family and the facade we put on compared to the reality of our (the individuals in the story) lives.

The book centers around the lives of our main characters, mostly split into four couples who are "friends" of different degrees. Dysfunctional relationships, friendships, work colleagues and acquaintances. Family life is a huge center of the story, especially with the hinting of Antonia and her past, she self harms and doesn't like to think about the past. She worries about her mother, who is in a care home, letting something slip. The book centers around Antonia's relationships, her coping mechanisms and her bizarre friendship with Sophie not to mention morals and how we can never truly outrun our past.

It peels the societal scab and exposes some of the most selfish and nasty side of people, how we interact with people in our inner circles, keeping secrets that bind friendship whilst never exposing some of their own personal demons. This is Antonia's story, with her husband David, her oldest friend Sophie and their inner social circle. A dark tale with raw humanity, it is a slow burner to start with as we get introduced to all the characters, building up in tension and at the last quarter pulling the rug from under your feet. I genuinely get put off books that give a different blurb to the actual story and as a slow burner it took me a bit to settle into. However by half way through I was invested in the characters and really wanted to see where it was going. The latter chapters really brought it together and shocked me as I hadn't anticipated where it was going. I went back and forth on my rating for this one, 3.5 changed to 4 stars as I thought it dealt with so many issues and themes and overall really liked it. I will keep an eye out for this authors future offerings and as always my thanks to the publisher for introducing me to a new author!

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Monday, 9 October 2017

Q&A with author Tracey Sinclair

Happy October you guys, I LOVE Halloween and for the month of October I generally read all things spooky, scary, horror and or supernatural. So, it is perfect to have an author whose first book has pretty much all of that.

What is Dark Dates about, no spoilers obvs.

Dark Dates is set in a world where vampires live secretly but relatively peacefully alongside humans (most of the time, anyway!). The heroine Cassandra discovered this in her teens and, as she got to know that world more, decided to set up a dating agency matching humans and vampires for consensual feeding. But not everyone in the paranormal world approves of this d├ętente between humans and vampires and her business attracts a lot of trouble.

what made you go for a story with vampires and other beings rather than just vamps?

The books originally started as a short story I wrote for a vampire-loving friend, but the idea was so fun I ran with it. I was also working in Smithfield, London at the time – an area rich with history – and thought it would be interesting to imagine what it was like to have lived through that period and now be in modern London. I’ve written in other genres, too – my book Bridesmaid Blues is a straightforward romcom set in my home town of Newcastle – but it was fun to work in this, as I’ve always been a fan.

How many books do you think we will see in the series?

I have no idea! I don’t have an arc mapped out, so I tend to just go along with what comes to me. Cassandra is a unique lady, will the reader (and Cassandra) learn more about her Sense as the books go on? Yes – her Sense is very nebulous and ill-defined in the first book because she only uses it for limited things, but she gets better at it as the books go on. Never to the point of it being a superpower or anything – I want her to remain recognisably human and vulnerable – but out of necessity she learns to use it more, so we get more insight into how it works.

Who is your favourite character and why?

I love all the central characters – Cass, Cain, Laclos, Medea and Katie – in different ways, and for different reasons. Laclos is the most fun to write , though, because he can be as outrageous as he wants to be.

If you could put a famous vampire into your story, who would you pick and why?

That is a fantastic question! I can imagine Laclos would have a lot of fun teasing serious, moody vamps like Angel or Lestat. Angel and Cain would probably get along…

What are you reading just now?

Right now, I’m reading a doorstep sized biography of the painter Edward Burne-Jones by Fiona MacCarthy called The Last Pre-Raphaelite, which is fascinating, alongside a much lighter read, The Diary of a Bookseller, by Shaun Bythell. I used to work in a bookshop – several bookshops, actually – so this is bringing back memories.

What is next for Tracey?

I have a few projects on the go right now, including the next Dark Dates book, so keep your eyes open!

Where can fans find you?

My website, Twitter and Facebook links below: I always love connecting with readers! @thriftygal

Anything else I missed you want to answer?

No – thank you for having me!

Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now. All three novels in the Dark Dates series are on offer for 99p on Kindle throughout October.

Thanks so much to Tracey for taking time out to chat to us and if that isn't treat enough, I am giving away my pre loved copy of Dark Dates. You can find my review HERE. As always, use the Rafflecopter below to enter, the more entries you complete the more times your name goes into the hat.

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Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Optician's Wife by Betsy Reavley

The Optician's WifeThe Optician's Wife by Betsy Reavley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 225

Publisher - Bloodhound Books

Blurb from Goodreads

Can you ever really know someone?

When Deborah, an unpopular seventeen-year-old, meets the charming and handsome Larry, he sweeps her off her feet. The trouble is Larry has a secret.

Then a series of grisly murders cast a shadow over everything.

As Deborah’s world starts to fall apart she begins to suspect the man she loves of a terrible betrayal. And to keep their marriage alive, sacrifices must be made.

A compelling, psychological thriller that unpicks what goes on behind closed doors and reminds us that sometimes the worst crimes can take place closer to home than you think.

The Optician's Wife is a powerful psychological thriller by the best-selling author of Carrion, The Quiet Ones and Beneath The Watery Moon. If you are a fan of authors like Angela Marsons, Kathryn Croft, Helen Durrant, Barbara Vine or Rachel Abbott you will be gripped by this brilliant and bracing psychological thriller.

My Review

Hello and welcome to one of the weirdest relationships you have come across. Deborah is a plain, quiet, an outcast at seventeen when she meets Larry. Larry is beautiful, charismatic, confident and really sees Deborah. As they start dating and things look up for Deborah, a killer strikes within their community. Is it a coincidence Larry and a killer show up? Is Deborah safe and how far would you go for your partner?

This is a great wee read, we get small passages from the killer , insights into the killers mind and happenings but leading the reader no further forward to the identity. As well as a murderer we get to look at the relationship dynamics. Deborah becomes Dee, who she is completely changes for her handsome new boyfriend. A transformation that readers will find uncomfortable in places, controlling, manipulative we see Larry taking over and shaping who he wants Dee to be and how it impacts on her as a person.

Quick to get started, really short chapters which I do love in a book, sex, murder, violence and quite graphic in parts. A book that draws the reader in and when you think you have a handle on what is going on turns about, keeping you on your toes. This is my first read by this author, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time, if you have read Reavley you really need to get acquainted!

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