Thursday, 23 March 2017

Review: We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea




We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea

My Rating:


We Are Always Watching is different from what I have come to expect from Hunter Shea. Usually, Shea throws me right into the action pretty early on, but not this time. This time the story built slowly, both in tension and in plot. I thought I had a rough idea what to expect after reading the blurb, turns out I was wrong. We Are Always Watching morphed into something completely different and went down a different path than I was anticipating.

We Are Always Watching was a slow burner. At times it felt like nothing of great importance was happening outside of getting to know the characters, their surroundings, and their general day to day lives - with little tidbits thrown in to whet the appetite for what was to come. For the first half of the book, I thought I knew where the story was going as it was still within the box that is the blurb. Then, almost as if someone had flipped a switch, the box was obliterated. All of a sudden all my expectations were thrown out the window and I was re-analysing what I'd already read. I found myself thinking back and reflecting on everything I'd read up to that point, re-looking at all the events, the sounds, and the clues, from a different angle.

I did enjoy this turn of events, but I have to say that I was also a little disappointed that it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. I'm purposely being very vague here because it would be extremely easy to ruin this book for those who have yet to read it. Once you get to this point in the book things really take off. Before you know it the slow burn is in your rear window and the story hurtles towards the conclusion at breakneck speed.

The character growth was portrayed well and the changing dynamics and tension felt believable, but I have to say, it was the visual aspect that shone for me. I could picture the surroundings and the buildings easily and it added a whole new level to the reading experience.

I like when a book surprises me and is something other than what I was expecting it to be. But, We Are Always Watching came to a fork in the road, one turn being one of my favourite horror scenarios, and the other being a lesser liked horror scenario, and it took the lesser turn. Of course, this is in no way a negative thing, it's just my personal preference and I still thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend it.



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We Are Always Watching, Synopsis 

  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2017

They’ve watched over the house for generations…

The move from New York to the decrepit Pennsylvania farmhouse is as bad as West Ridley thought it would be. His father’s crippling vertigo only seems to get worse, and even with his mother working herself to the bone, they’re out of money and options.

Grandpa Abraham is a drunk bastard and the living embodiment of the long neglected farmhouse. He claims the place is haunted. Ghosts roam the hall at night and their muffled cries fill the silence of warm, summer nights.

On the ceiling above West’s bed are the words WE SEE YOU. In a house plagued by death and mysterious visitations, West realises something beyond the fiction of his favourite horror books has to be faced.

Dark secrets are buried deep, and there are Guardians who want to keep it that way. No matter where they go or what they do, West and his family know one thing… they are always watching.


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Hunter Shea, Biography


Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of frightful tales such as The Montauk Monster, They Rise, Island of the Forbidden, Tortures of the Damned, The Jersey Devil, and many more, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

You can follow Hunter and join his action packed Dark Hunter Newsletter at www.huntershea.com.



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Praise for Hunter Shea

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness

“Hunter Shea has his own style. It’s simple, yet well-written, stories that flow with ease. Mr. Shea graciously walks you through the adventure and mystery, all the while, tickling the hairs on the nape of your neck and filling the pit of your guts with lead. It’s this “I’m your friend who just might make you wanna sleep with the lights on” relationship the author builds with us that keeps us comfortable, but not too comfortable, and on our toes throughout his work. I find that an extremely admirable ability.” –Glenn Rolfe, Author of Chasing Ghosts and The Haunted Halls




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Media, information and review copy provided as part of the Hook of a Book blog tour by Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book Media & Publicity.

If you’re a book blogger or media site and would like to feature Hunter Shea or review We Are Always Watching, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

Follow the tour with these hashtags:
#WeAreAlwaysWatching
#ISeeYou
#HunterShea
#SinisterGrinPress



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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz




Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz

My Rating:



Exorcist Falls continues the story of the Sweet Sixteen Killer first introduced in Janz's earlier novella Exorcist Road. I first read Exorcist Road back in 2014 and loved it so much that it made my best of 2014 list. Exorcist Road is included within Exorcist Falls and I re-read it so that the story was fresh in my mind and, I have to say, I enjoyed it just as much second time around.

Exorcist Falls was a great read and I enjoyed it, but not to the same extent that I did Exorcist Road. There are more characters in this one and I think perhaps one or two of them missed the mark for me. There were two in particular that I wasn't feeling at all, their characters felt off and seemed to be a little inconsistent throughout. I struggled with Liz in particular, her character felt like a shell and I couldn't see through the cracks to the person inside. She didn't feel solid or fleshed out enough for me to be able to connect to her. The male characters outshone her in every way.

Father Crowder is by far the most memorable character in the book, his character was well written and fleshed out. I saw into the furthest corners of his mind and I got to experience his inner thoughts and struggles. In fact, all but one of the male characters were well fleshed out, consistent, and felt like real people which is why I think I was so disappointed that Liz didn't. In a cast of mostly all male characters, she was the one that I should have been able to connect to the easiest, both as a mother and as a female.

Possession is one of my favourite topics in horror and Exorcist Falls didn't disappoint. There were many scenes that had me turning the pages desperate to know what happens next, but at the same time not wanting to because it was so visual and horrifying. The cringe factor was real with this one. You know when you're watching a horror movie and it reaches that point where you're cringing and covering your eyes, but at the same time still desperate to see what's happening? I found myself doing that during one particular scene while reading, only to remember I was reading and how ridiculous it was to cover my eyes cause now I couldn't see the words. I just couldn't help myself.

I had a lot of fun with this book and it's one I would definitely recommend. I just hope there is more to this story, especially after that ending... I need more!



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Exorcist Falls (includes Exorcist Road), Synopsis

  • Print Length: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: March 15, 2017

Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.

When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.

But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.

Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.


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 Jonathan Janz, Biography

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

Since then Jonathan's work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Ronald Kelly, and Bryan Smith; additionally, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal have sung his praises. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, “Jonathan Janz's Shadow Side.”

His most recent novel, Children of the Dark, received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the “Top Ten Horror Books of the Year” (September 2015-August 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German.

Jonathan's primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realises that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, on Instagram (jonathan.janz) or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.


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Praise for Jonathan Janz


"A perfect choice for those missing old-school Stephen King." --The Library Journal on Children of the Dark

"A horror storyteller on the rise." --Booklist

"One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favourites." --Brian Keene

“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.” –Tim Waggoner, multi-published author

"Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror--Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows--will find much to relish." - Publishers Weekly on Savage Species


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Media, information and review copy provided as part of the Hook of a Book blog tour by Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book Media & Publicity.

Follow the tour with these hashtags: 
#ExorcistFalls #ExorcistRoad #SweetSixteenKiller
#JonathanJanz #SinisterGrinPress



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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Review: The Good People by Hannah Kent


The Good People by Hannah Kent

My Rating:


I would like to thank Picador for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

The Good People is an engaging, emotional, and at times an uncomfortable read. It's beautifully written and pulls the reader into a world that oozes atmosphere and superstition. I really enjoyed it. I felt like I was there, that I knew these people and was a part of their world. A world that was so easily pictured, right down to the smallest of leaves on the trees, the ripples on the water, and the smells in the air. I could see everything clearly as I read. The characters felt real to me. I felt their pain, I lived, hoped, dreamed, and struggled alongside them.

I particularly loved the lore and superstition surrounding the faeries. The belief that illness, bad crop yields, and animals not producing were because of the faeries being angered, and the way daily rituals were carried out to protect harvests, households, families, and to keep food on the table, totally captivated me. I have fond memories of my grandparents doing similar things for the "wee folk". I remember as a child making small trinkets and gifts to leave around the farm for the wee folk, pouring fresh milk from the goats into a bowl on the doorstep, and also leaving out honey and oatcakes. I did the same with my own children when they were growing up, they used to leave gifts for the faeries under the tree in the garden.

Definitely, one I would recommend. I will be reading more from this author in the near future.



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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Review: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer





The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer


My Rating:


I would like to thank Faber & Faber for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

The Doll Funeral is a DNF for me. I tried to stick with it, but even at 45% I'm still not getting into it. I'm reading for reading sake and I find myself hesitant to pick it up. When I do pick it up I realise that I have forgotten much of what I've previously read.

I had a feeling right from the start that this wasn't going to be the book for me. The opening scene, where the parents reveal to the MC that she's adopted, immediately put me off. It was absurd. It was insensitive and rushed, there was no feeling, no loving conversation, no understanding. They just throw it at her over the kitchen table, before she's even completely in the room, before she's even sat down, totally out of the blue and using the most ridiculous and unnatural dialogue. I was tempted to put the book down right there and then.

The writing style felt choppy and confusing at times, and too flowery at others. The dialogue wasn't natural, there was no flow to the conversation and it was unbelievable. The characters didn't come across as realistic. The younger characters within the storyline read much younger than they were. The main character is 13 but her voice was that of a much younger child.

I hate to leave a review for a book without finding something positive within its pages, but I'm really struggling to think of any as I have forgotten most of what I have read. Thank goodness I kept notes but I only kept notes of the problems I had with the book. It's a shame, the premise really intrigued me but the way it was executed just wasn't for me.

Not one I would recommend.


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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Review: Beyond The Pale by Emily Urquhart





Beyond The Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes by Emily Urquhart


My Rating:


I would like to thank Jacaranda Books for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.

I'm not a big reader of non-fiction, but this one caught my attention and I had to pick it up. I found the authors voice engaging, she held my attention and interest and kept me reading. The love for her daughter really shines through, and her struggle to come to terms with her daughter's albinism and the resulting work that she now does is both inspiring, and important.

It's shocking to read how people with albinism are treated throughout the world. I was certainly unaware that these things were going on before reading this book, but since finishing the book I have seen a BBC documentary and only just tonight read about related events in the news. It's good to see that it's being talked about and awareness is spreading. It's important that people are educated and made aware of what's happening and for the victims' stories be told in order to prevent it from happening in future.




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Monday, 20 February 2017

Review: Conceiving by Thomas S Flowers


Conceiving (Subdue Book 3) by Thomas S. Flowers

My Rating:


Conceiving is the latest book, and the best so far, in the Subdue series by Thomas S Flowers. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't perfect, it needs editing to fix a few repetition issues, spelling errors and wrong words, but I enjoyed it much more than the previous two books.

A lot of my enjoyment was due to Luna's character, she felt real and relatable. I was actually interested in her and her story. I got to experience and enjoy her storyline without being sidetracked by too many characters. The whole reading experience flowed better, it wasn't as busy so there was less distraction, fewer side characters jumping in between me and the main storyline.

The pacing was better, the characters were better, and the storytelling was smoother. I got to know the characters better this time round. I experienced their stories rather than them being told to me like in the previous books.

There was a lot of my favourite horror elements in Conceiving. It had a touch of Rosemary's Baby and Frankenstein and as an added bonus there was a werewolf and some voodoo going on. I love me some voodoo in horror!



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Synopsis
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Dark things are dwelling in Jotham, Texas. Malicious forces are seen emerging from the sinister house on Oak Lee Road… 
With little memory of the events that took the lives of his friends, Bobby Weeks tries to move on with his life and finds a job at a warehouse on Galveston Island. The evil in Jotham won’t leave him behind, though. Strangers from the cursed town find him, offering information about what happened to his friends. It all leads back to Baelo University…back to Jotham.

Luna Blanche has always been gifted, but now she must use those gifts to save Bobby…

Luna goes to the Mississippi Delta to take care of her dying grandmother. She misses Bobby, and when she attempts to see Bobby through her mind, all she finds is a deadly future. Fearing his life is in danger, she leaves the Delta and searches for him in Jotham.

Neville and Boris Petry want nothing more than the picturesque American Dream…

After Boris accepts a new job teaching at Baelo University, the Petrys move to Jotham to finally live out their dream. Following a drunken faculty party, Neville discovers she is pregnant. She should be ecstatic, but dreadful dreams lead her to feel as if something is wrong with the baby, her husband…and the school.

Four destinies bound on a collision course, a plot conceived in the shadows of Jotham…and an evil biding its time…waiting for them all.


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Thomas Flowers, Biography


Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter.

He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Books, Dwelling, Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC.

In 2008, he was honourably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History.

He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can learn more about Thomas and all his strange writings by joining his mailing list at http://goo.gl/2CozdE. 


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Praise for Thomas S Flowers III

Thomas S Flowers is a fantastic writer. There is no other way of putting it. He writes a single book but has so many different writing styles within that single book that all come together beautifully to present you with a story that totally engrosses you.” – Confessions of a Reviewer

Thomas S. Flowers has allowed this story to brew slowly, allowing the mystery and horror of the house on Oak Lee Road to reveal itself bit by bit. The author is a master of taking an everyday, normal object and twisting it into a horrific monstrosity—Greg at 2 Book Lovers Reviews

A page-turning, emotional book with shades of Stephen King's IT and the best parts of Peter Straub's KOKO. Thomas Flowers has written an extremely personal book of friendship, loss, and trauma that deserves praise not just for its sharp characterization but also its brutal honesty.” – Duncan Ralston, author of Salvage, on Dwelling


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I received a free copy of Conceiving (Subdue Book 3) as part of the publicity tour run by the lovely Erin over at Oh, for the Hook of a Book.

 

If you’re a media site, blogger, or radio/podcast host, and you’d like to feature Thomas S Flowers or review Conceiving please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.



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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Review: Emerging by Thomas S Flowers






Emerging (Subdue Book 2) by Thomas S. Flowers


My Rating:


Many of the things I pointed out in my review for book one also apply to book two. Like book one, due to my own personal taste, I kind of zoned out a little during the military flashbacks etc. The music and movie references are still prevalent and the characters still at times overshadow the story progression, but there are more horror elements to this one and the story progresses quite a bit more. The ending resolves better than the previous book while still leaving enough there for the story to continue, and there's no huge cliffhanger like before thank goodness!

Emerging does, however, read more like an extension of book one rather than a book in its own right. I still believe book one and two would benefit from being tidied up and merged into one.



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