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.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Messenger of Fear (Messenger of Fear #1)Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - on and off over 3 days

Pages - 416

Publisher - Electric Monkey

Source - Book shop

Blurn from Goodreads

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . . .

My Review

She wakes up surround by mist, unsure of who she is, drawn to a chapel where a young girl lies in a coffin, dead by her own hand. Here she meets a boy in black, Messenger, who takes her on a horrific journey, watching humans make some horrible choices and giving them a chance to pay for it. The girl Mara, along with the reader, has no idea why she is having to endure and be party to this, as the pages turn the story unfolds as character and reader discover together.

Firstly let me just say whilst I have never read this author it was the pull of the cover and more importantly the page ridges where all in black. The cover jumps out in a blast of colour with Red, black and white, an amputated arm with play or pay across it in scrolls. Covers never used to be a thing but in the past year or two I have been drawn more to good ones, the coloured page ridges get me every time.

It took me a wee bit to get my head around what was happening as you are taken on the journey with Mara. We some some horrible aspects of humanity and the consequences that follows, warning there is harm to an animal in the tale that readers may find distressing. The book is definitely a foundation book setting the stage for the next one and introducing who I imagine to be big players in the following book. Interesting premise for the book, good and bad, actions and consequences of those actions and repentance. Possibly a wee bit preachy some may find but overall interesting and different. I am interested to see where the rest of the series goes, I am sure I will buy them as I come across them, 3/5 for me this time.

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Monday, 30 October 2017

Happy Halloween - Q&A with author Mary Hallberg with giveaway

Happy Halloween you guys, as you may have noticed if you follow my Instagram or the FB page you will know I love Halloween and have wee decs around the house. So I know I did a Q&A with Tracey Sinclair and a wee giveaway, I have another for you. The lovely Mary Hallberg has taken some time out from recovering, get well soon Mary, to answer some questions about her book.

Hello and welcome to So Many Books, So Little Time – thanks for taking the time out to stop by and answer some questions.

What is State of Emergency about, without spoilers obviously.

STATE OF EMERGENCY is about a girl named Dallas who loves zombie movies. One night while she’s backstage at a concert, she witnesses the beginning of a real zombie outbreak and knows she has to get to safety.

Is this your first book and if so what made you go Zombies?

It’s the first book I’ve ever published, but I think it’s the fourth or fifth I’ve actually written. Up until a few years ago, I never found zombies very scary. Then one night I had this nightmare about being trapped in a room with a zombie horde on the other side. So I thought it would be cool to write about a zombie outbreak, but do it a little differently. Most zombie novels and movies today just gloss over the beginning of the outbreak, then drop us into a character’s life twenty years later or something. But I think the beginning is the scariest part, when you’re watching everything around you go from normal and familiar to complete chaos.

What made you choose the location?

I grew up in south Mississippi, so I go to New Orleans a lot. It’s the perfect place to set a horror story because there’s so much supernatural lore attached to the city. And of course the mountains are a great place to hide from zombies because they’re hard to get around in, so I knew the characters would need to go to northern Alabama or Tennessee.

I felt the book could have been so much longer (always wanting more with zombies) what made you go novella?

It was initially a little longer, but I trimmed several major scenes because all the initial readers I had giving me feedback said they didn’t make sense. I have them available as deleted scenes for my newsletter subscribers.

Will there be a follow up book?

Possibly. I’ve got some ideas for where a sequel could go.

Do you have a favourite character and why?

I really like Pierce, just because he’s been through so much and I feel for him, but also because, even with everything he’s going through, he still cares immensely for Talia. He and Dallas clash a little bit at first because she sees him as this dude trying to take her baby sister away from her. But ultimately, they both have the same goal: To protect Talia.

Are you reading anything just now?

I just started FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager. I really like it.

What is next for Mary?

I’ve got a short story coming out next month, maybe a couple more in 2018, and a novella in October 2018. I’ve got tons of stuff in the pipeline but no official release dates yet.

Where can fans find you?

My website is I’ve got a contact page there with all my social media, as well as a newsletter people can sign up for if they want all the latest news on what I’m up to.

Anything else you would like to say?

I’ve got plenty of stuff to release, so if you enjoyed STATE OF EMERGENCY or just like horror in general, be sure to follow me for more. I hope people enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And if all that isn't enough, I am offering up my pre-loved copy of Mary's book (only the book in the photo I am afraid).

As always, enter using Rafflecopter. The more entries you complete the more chances you have, good luck guys.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh

This Beautiful Life: an emotional, uplifting page-turner about love, family and hopeThis Beautiful Life: an emotional, uplifting page-turner about love, family and hope by Katie Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - over 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Hodder & Stoughton

Source - Publisher, review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

The addictive and emotive new novel from Katie Marsh, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

'I lived over half my life before I met you both, and I hope with all my heart to live many years more. You two are the reason why. Always, always the reason why.'

Abi Cooper is living her happy ending. She's in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance. But during Abi's illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi's survival playlist, This Beautiful Life is the moving and uplifting story of what happens as Abi tries to put her family back together - and of why life, and love, are worth fighting for.

My Review

Abi is in remission so everything should be perfect right? Wrong, her son is becoming more distant and moody, her husband John seems to be more focused on work than her and Abi doesn't know what to do. Each month has a song from Abi's playlist and what it means to her giving the book a beautiful unique voice that I haven't encountered in others with this theme.

The book largely centers around Abi and her son Seb, Seb has all the issues you would imagine as a teenager has and then some. We look at Abi adjusting to lift as a survivor and picking up the pieces, trying to get back to "normal" and then dealing with everything else that follows. Sometimes when you think things can't get any worse or life can't possibly throw anything else at you, it does. This Beautiful Life is a story of love, survival, relationships, everyday life, marital struggles, friendship, secrets, music and personal growth. It is an emotive read and I think certain parts will reach out to readers differently, striking chords and triggering tears galore. The beauty of this book is that whilst not every single issue/problem/event may be one we have experienced or dealt with, they are very relatable, I felt.

The chapters are relatively short making it easy to dip in and out as life dictates, I could have read it in one sitting if work hadn't gotten in the way. Marsh brings characters to life you immerse and become vested in. Some of the music choices were new to me, others lovely to hear again and with Abi's wee story to each gave it another light. This isn't my first dance with this author, it won't be my last, 4/5 for me this time, thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a review copy.

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Sunday, 29 October 2017

Zom-B Baby by Darren Shan

Zom-B Baby (Zom-B, #5)Zom-B Baby by Darren Shan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - Over 2 days

Pages - 224

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Source - The Works

Blurb from Goodreads

How do you know if you're working for a lunatic?
Where do you go when you've run out of people to trust?
Have you ever heard an undead baby scream?
B Smith is out of her comfort zone . . .

My Review

This is book five in a series, you could get away with starting here as you get a very very brief recap of what has happened in the previous books. I would say grab the previous so you get a better grasp of the characters but you can start with this one.

B Smith is still the main character, still a zombie, still able to think and in a "team" with other thinking zombies. They are preparing for the inevitable fight against the others. B isn't sure she wants to stay with them & Doctor Oystein, it doesn't sit well with her he says God talks to him. The alternatives, go it alone or go find The Clown who is evil & encourages acts of savage depravity. This was the same theme really of the last book however this one looks more at B's relationship within the small group. We come back to a character from the previous book and get some closure for that character whilst opening up a whole new path. B has been dreaming about monster babies since before the apocalypse kicked off, could she now be closer to getting answers?

Not too much in the way of action happens, I felt. It was more about the characters interactions and thought processes. This will no doubt please some of the fans of this series as you get character depth and development. I would have liked more closure on some of the past stuff to be honest however there are another eight books in the series so I am sure I will get answers as they go on. I don't have any more of these on my tbr and I would read them as I come across them but won't be rushing out to buy them all. A good read but not my favourite of the series so far, 3/5 for me this time.

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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ash by James Herbert

Ash (David Ash, #3)Ash by James Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 10 days

Pages - 693

Publisher - MacMillan

Source - Bought online

Blurb from Goodreads

David Ash – detective of the paranormal – is sent to the mysterious Comraich Castle, secluded deep in the Scottish countryside, to investigate a strange, high-profile case: a man has been found crucified – in a room that was locked. The reports suggest that the cliff-top castle is being haunted . . .

Who – or what – is the reclusive hooded figure that Ash has seen from the window walking across the courtyard in the dead of night?
What are the strange, animal-like sounds that come from the surrounding woods?
And why are the castle’s inhabitants so reluctant to talk about what they have seen?

. . . what Ash eventually discovers is truly shocking.

My Review

This is a re read for me, I first read this in 2012 not realising it was a trilogy and I think it absolutely affected my enjoyment, despite both times getting a 3* rating. I would absolutely advise reading the first two books as it gives you better insight into Ash's character, the theme for the actual book and alerts you to it being all about the supernatural.

Ash is put forward to go to Comraich Castle to investigate a horrific crime and unexplained goings on, David has been very much a skeptic despite his job being an investigator of the supernatural. If you read the previous books you will appreciate why David has since had a change of heart and sets to investigate. However the Castle has a grim past, it is occupied by some of the most loathsome humans of our time and evil is drawn there. Restrictions are put upon Ash as they must protect their "elite" clients who "live" there. Names from the past history appear as characters and links and secrets of folk we mere everyday Joes think have passed appear in Comraich.

It is a weird tale with some dark and horrifying scenes that may turn the stomach of some readers, rape, cannibalism, incest, horror, death, ghosts and that is just touching on some of it. Supernatural goings on, claustrophobic scenes all with the hallmark of Herbert, if you are familiar with his past work you will be fine with this. Some of it is fantastical needing to suspend belief, as is with a lot of Herbert's writing. Despite being almost 700 pages I felt it could have been longer, the ending felt unfinished and for me, somewhat unsatisfactory although I know many love it just as it is. Always the signs an author has done their job when leaving the reader wanting more, for me though I need lots of closure and answers hence it just being 3/5.

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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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Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann

The CleanerThe Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre

Blurb from Goodreads

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner. It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith's secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances—parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies. And nothing will ever be the same again.

My Review

We open at a children's home in Germany, 1985, a child is placed in the middle of the night - no questions asked. Flip to present day, Judith Kepler is a crime scene specialist - cleaning up scenes to return them to livable areas. When she comes across one crime scene it opens up links to her own past, things Judith may not wish to revisit. As Judith digs she crosses the path of members of Stasi and ends up on a path of death and destruction.

I thought this book was primarily going to be about a crime scene tech, learning about techniques and to be fair there is a bit of that. However it is a bit of a thriller, crime, mystery combo. Lots of action, twists and turns and Judith is one ballsy feisty character which is nice to see and pretty loyal. Focused, driven and can certainly handle herself, she isn't afraid of confrontation and will see something through to the bitter end.

The book has almost two tones, the first being a build up and getting a feel for who Judith is as a person and the second is action, shooting, being hunted or hunting. It works fine and whilst this is my first dance with this author I would read her again, 3/5 for me this time.

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