Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: Jackals by Stuart R Brogan





Jackals by Stuart R Brogan

My Rating:


I have to say, I'm kind of fed up with a lot of the horror books lately. A large proportion of the horror released of late has been either the same old stories told in a slightly different way or are labelled as "extreme horror" and are full of violence and gore thrown in for nothing more than shock value with no real plot to speak of. But, I'm glad to say that that wasn't the case with Jackals.

How far would you go to protect the ones you love? Who can you trust when the seeds of corruption and violence have wormed their way into every crack?

Jackals was one heck of a wild and gory ride. It's most definitely not a book for the faint of heart. The action kicks off in great gory detail almost immediately and keeps you on the edge of your seat to the very end. The author takes the reader on an action-packed adrenaline ride to the deepest darkest depths of depravity and exposes the sadistic, twisted, and primitive side of human nature.

"They are without doubt some of the most dangerous people out there and the worrying thing is that ninety-nine percent of the population doesn't even know they exist..."

Nobody is what they seem. Take nothing, and no one, for granted. Heroes and villains emerge in the most unlikely of places. There is no safe place for the reader or the characters. The twists and turns keep you on your toes, they mess with your head, you're never quite sure what's around the corner or who's going to turn on you next.

Definitely one I would recommend.



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Jackals, Synopsis


From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.


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Stuart R Brogan, Biography

Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”





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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Thrills of Writing Horror by Stuart R Brogan


A question I find myself asking more and more these days, is when does a thriller novel stray into the realms of horror? Is there a definitive line in which an author has to cross before one genre wholeheartedly turns into another or is it just semantics and personal opinion?

As an author I obviously have my own preconceived ideas of what horror is with regards to my own work, yet whilst having discussions with not only other authors but friends, it has become apparent that we all have our own personal line to cross and that line varies widely. Personally, when I write, I like to keep it as realistic as possible, that’s not to say some may view my work as a little far-fetched, but to me realism is at the very heart of horror. I have said many times before in interviews that I prefer the impact of social conditioning and human emotions as opposed to the supernatural element, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t explore such topics in later works. At present though, I feel a deep seeded need to at least try to keep the horror grounded.

The old saying of “Horses for courses” is apt when we explore our reading habits within the horror genre. Some authors are superb in weaving a vast supernatural yarn that keeps the reader firmly in the books grip, causing us to hide beneath the duvet for fear of antagonising some deity baying for blood. I myself have a very fast paced and kinetic style, I aim to keep the reader turning the page either through sheer fear or the constant adrenaline rush. Some may dislike my style yet others love it, again it depends on the reader. Even as an author there are some other writers that I personally can’t get into, that’s not to say I don’t rate them or their work, but I just can’t get into their style or “voice”. Maybe I am trying to over analyse the whole question, maybe I seek to find an answer that needs not be found or maybe I’m just losing the plot and should just get back to writing!

Within the horror genre there are many sub categories. From the ghostly supernatural tales to the extreme horrors from realms unknown, all of which have their advocates and their objectors. Regardless of the sub-genre there are plenty of authors plying their trade and reaching excellent sales figures, not to mention thrilling fans from around the world. These warriors of the written word appear to be dancing to their own tune and loving every minute, and quite rightly so. The level of effort and dedication it takes to weave such stories is immense.

Horror can come from anywhere; it can be the monster lurking in the closet, or the ardent serial killer next door. As authors, we aim to thrust our protagonists into life or death situations, thus taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride through a vast array of emotions, the need to make the reader gasp with excitement or terror driving us forward to push boundaries and delve ever deeper into what terrifies us.

When I was writing my first novel, Jackals, I can honestly say that I didn’t pigeon hole the style. I knew of course the level of brutality and violence would cause some to label it extreme but to me, it was just the story I “needed” to write. Each scene had to push the story forward. Of course, that’s not to say my future works may not be as gory or violent but rest assured they will always be intense and contain the visceral intensity I am rapidly gaining a name for. Fast forward to the present time and I am happy that people are calling it action / horror because I am a huge fan of both, not just in the written word but on the silver screen. It would seem I am fortunate to have found my place within the horror realm and my sole aim is to improve with each new book I release. Be it horror, or thriller, it will not diminish the rush the reader feels when they delve into the book.

The bottom line is that the lines are becoming ever more blurred when it comes to modern horror. A Thriller can easily give way to horror if pushed a little and vice versa. Some may argue that a thriller is the “threat” of something bad happening yet “horror” is the actual thing taking place and to some degree, I would agree with such a statement but when all is said and done who really cares? As long as the reader is taken on one hell of a ride and they are able to escape the modern world for a few hours then what does it matter what label is placed upon it? My idea of personal horror would be stuck in a room watching boy bands on repeat!

If you are an author then just write! Forget about labels and genres and write what speaks to you. If you are a fan, then explore what’s out there, don’t limit yourself to just a handful of authors, be brave and take a punt on that unknown who has just released their first novel. Share with your friends and spread the word because we authors couldn’t do what we do without you, the reader. There are so many excellent story tellers out there that you are literary spoilt for choice.

Thriller or horror? As long as it captures our imagination and forces us to sleep with one eye open then it matters not. Forget the label and get reading unless of course you are too scared.

Until next time…


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 Stuart R Brogan, Biography


Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”





Monday, 24 April 2017

Review: The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story




The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story


My Rating:


I would like to thank Square Peg for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book.
"This is the story of what happened to Farida after she was captured: the beatings, the rapes, the markets where ISIS sold women like cattle, and Farida's realisation that the more resistant she became, the harder it was for her captors to continue their atrocities against her. So she struggled, she bit, she kicked, she accused her captors of going against their religion, until, one day, the door to her room was left unlocked. She took her chance and, with five younger girls in her charge, fled into the Syrian desert..."

I honestly don't know what to say about this book, or even where to start with reviewing it. It feels wrong to try and break it down and comment on writing style, star rating, etc.

This book really brings home how easily your life can change. One day you're enjoying the long hot summer days and the next you and your family are fleeing for your lives. Farada could be your daughter, your sister, your niece, she deserves to be safe, to live without fear just like everyone else. The suffering she endured was atrocious, yet she never gave up. Her story is a remarkable story of hope, faith, courage, and strength. It's not an easy read, but it is important that experiences like Farada's are told. It is important that the world is made aware of the atrocities that are occurring in order to better understand the horrors that refugees are running from.

The Girl Who Beat ISIS is a book that everyone should read.



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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Review: The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown





The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown

My Rating:


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

The Witch Finder's Sister is a fictional tale based on the life of Matthew Hopkins - a witch hunter believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 300 women between the years 1644 and 1646. The story is told through the eyes of his sister Alice who experiences his obsession first hand and recounts the tale to the reader.

Initially, when I first started reading the book I thought I was going to love it. The writing style appealed to me, it felt like Alice was talking directly to me and I was excited to read more. But, unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. It concentrated too much on Alice's emotions, inner thoughts, and memories. She was a bystander lost within her own past and present, looking in rather than looking out at the horror of what was actually taking place. There were so many missed opportunities to escalate the storyline and to ramp up the tension, but they were missed because of the way the storyline advanced in regards to Alice's character.

As a reader, I only got little peeks into the true horrors of what Matthew was doing. Right before the witch hunts approached their worst, just when things were starting to get interesting and were really about to kick off, the author decided to lock Alice in the attic, which of course resulted in the reader being locked in that attic alongside Alice.

What happened in that dark attic? Not much at all - meanwhile, Matthew and his witch trials are causing chaos. The trials are approaching their worst, hundreds of women are being killed, months of mayhem and murder are taking place, and the reader is sat in the dark with Alice. There was so much going on outside that attic that the reader was excluded from, all the chaos and horrors that would have made this a book to remember, and instead we're given a just few pages of Alice in the dark. What a let down that was.

The book is categorised by the publisher as being adult general fiction, mystery, and thriller, but to be honest there wasn't much mystery or thrills to be found. The pacing was very slow, there wasn't enough action, and characters were hard to connect with. The ending, in particular, had me rolling my eyes.

Not one I would recommend. The blurb and the cover quotes promised much and delivered little.



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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Review: Becoming by Glenn Rolfe





Becoming by Glenn Rolfe

My Rating:


Becoming took me back to the horror books of my teens, to the creature features with cheesy covers that my love of horror was built on, and created a feeling of nostalgia that added to my enjoyment of the story.

Whilst I enjoyed the plot it was the characters that made this one. Although it's a pretty short read the characters were well fleshed out and the dynamics between the different characters made them feel real. There was an overall dark atmosphere but I would have liked the horror to have been turned up a touch. Don't get me wrong, there were enough scares and crazy goings on to appeal to most horror lovers, but personally, I would have liked more.

All in all, it was a quick and fun read and it easily held my attention throughout, however, I would have liked to have known more about the lake, what resides there, and the history behind it.



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Synopsis

Something ancient has wormed its way up from the earth....
A change has come today.


After Michele Cote's best friend disappears, no one believes her story of about the thing responsible for his abduction. Forced to figure out the mystery for herself, Michele encounters terror she has never known, and witnesses the impossible.

When other members of the community begin to change or vanish, Sheriff Shane Davis must look beyond reason to stop the evil seeping into this small town. With help from an unlikely source, Sheriff Davis will come face-to-face with the truth.

You can't destroy what you don't understand. For the small town of Avalon, Maine, the future is about change...for better or worse.
 


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Praise for BECOMING


"A vital part of this generation." -Brian Keene, author of THE COMPLEX and THE RISING 
“Old-fashioned creature feature…BECOMING is raw horror.” – The Haunted Reading Room 

“Classic horror. Original and entertaining.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of THE PENDLE CURSE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE 

“BECOMING shows that Rolfe is indeed, becoming a force to be reckoned with. Back in the day when John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, were getting started in their horror writing careers, this was the type of story they would write and I would want to read.” – Horror Novel Reviews 

“BECOMING is a creepy horror tale with depth. Rolfe proves he's a master of capturing the essence of small towns--how communities come together, for good or ill. Claustrophobic!” - J.H. Moncrieff, author of CITY OF GHOSTS and MONSTER IN OUR WAKE 
 


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BECOMING is the latest release from Glenn Rolfe.



Get your copy of BECOMING here: http://mybook.to/GetBecoming

Visit Glenn at www.glennrolfe.com

Follow him on Twitter @grolfehorrror

Find him on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Follower. (That last one is Glenn’s idea of a joke).

 


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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Review: The Devil's Paintbox by Robin Jarvis




The Devil's Paintbox (The Witching Legacy #2) by Robin Jarvis 

My Rating:


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

The Devil's Paintbox is the second book in The Witching Legacy trilogy by Robin Jarvis. I previously read the first book The Power of the Dark back in March 2016, you can find my review for that here. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I have to say, I enjoyed the second book much more than the first.

It's been a year since I read the first book and I was surprised by how easily I slipped back into Lil and Verne's world. The writing was wonderfully vivid. The plot was engaging, fast-paced and action packed from beginning to end. It sets the imagination on fire and I could easily see everything clearly in my mind's eye as I read.

The Devil's Paintbox is full of colour, adventure, magic, and imagination, but at the same time it's dark, ominous, and creates a feeling of foreboding. This is the kind of book I would have loved to have read as a child, under the covers with a torch. I could almost feel the excitement and anticipation that young me would have felt, along with the need to turn the pages whilst being apprehensive about what's to come.

Definitely one I would recommend. I didn't want to put the book down, it was a lot of fun and I read it in one sitting. My niece and the kids in my reading group are going to love it.



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Monday, 3 April 2017

Review: The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan



The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

My Rating:


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


"It was as if on the edge of manhood he too remembered everything we had shared, that he was the man who was still, in his heart, my little boy, late for school.
And then he was gone."

The Childbury Ladies' Choir is told in diary entry format, jumping back and forth between the diary entries of the different characters. This format took a bit of getting used to, it didn't lend itself well to getting to know the characters as individuals. The characters were initially just names at the top of a diary post, there was nothing there that allowed me to create a mental image of them as a person. I had to differentiate each by their voice and it took reading a good few entries from each individual character before I managed to match those voices to something a little more substantial than just a name.

Once I was able to separate the characters I was then somewhat able to slowly build a mental image of each from the bits of information scattered across all the different diary entries. However, the pieces were a bit too scattered and I couldn't build as clear a picture of each as I would have liked, and as a result, the characters never felt real. I was outside looking in, reading their stories from a distance rather than experiencing them. They were almost strangers, strangers that I knew by little more than their name, and because of this I never found myself becoming immersed in the storyline or characters enough that I reached that point of forgetting I was reading a story.

Despite the above, I did still enjoy the book and I did learn a few things. It was fascinating to get a peek into village life during the war, but I found it easy to put down. I also found myself thinking of other books or TV programs that I have watched that are set during the war, taking what I had read in this book and placing more memorable characters from other stories into their situation, or comparing them, which made me realise just how distant I felt from the characters in the book.

Like I said, I did enjoy it while reading, it was an OK read but not a great read. I'm hesitant to recommend it because if like me, you like to have a clear picture in your mind and want to immerse yourself in the story rather than watch from a distance, then this isn't the book for you.




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Friday, 31 March 2017

Aprils 2017 Canine TBR Challenge, and winner is...


I'm a bit behind with my posting of the 2017 Canine TBR challenge reviews. I just reviewed The Neverending Story which Thorin picked back in January. OK, perhaps I'm more than just a bit behind, lol.

I have still to put up my February one:  Kindred by Octavia Butler (chosen by Enya) and my March one: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (chosen by Mae) but I still have 5 other reviews to post before I can get them so they will hopefully be coming soon.

So, April is almost upon us and it's time for the TBR jar to come out of hiding again - it was in hiding because Thorin likes to choose from the jar a bit too much for my liking and he was forever trying to get to the jar, he thinks it's a great game, lol. Anyway, April brings back around Thorin's turn so I decided to get him to select one for me tonight. As I was fetching the jar for him to choose I was thinking to myself I hope he chooses a smallish book but wouldn't you know it he's only gone and chosen the largest book on my shelves atm and it's a re-read. He has chosen....


*drumroll*...

.....


             

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende







 As part of the TBR Canine Jar Challenge, The Neverending Story was chosen by Thorin. He's in the lead so far.



The Never Ending Story is one of my favourite books from childhood, I read and re-read this book many times and also watched the movie over and over until the tape was basically unplayable. It's been a long time since I last read it and as my hubby bought me a new copy for Christmas I thought, why not? There's no time like the present. My childhood copy is now owned by my daughter along with my original copy of The Hobbit. No chance of me ever seeing those again.

I went into this book with lots of fond memories and I was a bit apprehensive that reading it now would possibly spoil those memories, but I am glad to say that didn't happen. I enjoyed it just as much as I did as a child. I had forgotten how vivid and imaginative the world of Fantastica was. Even now I still felt the same wonder I had as a child at the possibility of being able to physically travel through the world within a book. I have to say, it felt a bit neverending once I moved into the second part of the book. The grown up me found the second half a bit of a slog and somewhat of a flop, just like the second movie.

Reading it for the first time as an adult, I picked up on many things that I had missed as a child. The hidden meanings and messages that had gone over the head of the younger me were there for the older me to dissect and ponder on. I remember as a child always getting frustrated when I was completely immersed in the story and then bam, up pops those dreaded words “But that is another story and shall be told another time.” I remember being desperate to know what became of those stories, I didn't want to move on until I had journeyed to the end of one story. The Adult me sees the cleverness behind the words, all stories are at their heart a neverending story, each could branch off into another, and another, and so on. There's a world of endless possibilities out there, stories waiting to be told.




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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Review: People of the Sun by Jason Parent


People of the Sun by Jason Parent

My Rating:


People of the Sun has everything I love to find in a book. It's a mix of horror, sci-fi, thriller, and dark fantasy, and it ticked all the boxes for me - I'm especially fussy when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy too, so they are not boxes that are easily ticked! It really has something for every reader within its pages. Seriously, is there anything this guy can't put his pen to?

I was totally captivated by the characters, completely immersed in their world, their experiences and their emotions. The world around me ceased to exist while I had the book in my hands. I enjoyed watching the characters grow and change throughout the story. Seeing them become more human and relatable, both for the better and for the worse.

People of the Sun explores what it is to be human, it delves into the good, and the bad, and the effect they have on those around us. It's a sad poignant tale, but at the same time it's tension filled and has plenty of action. I was sad to see the story come to an end. I tried to draw it out. I didn't want to say goodbye. I wanted to savour it and stay with the characters longer, but I failed miserably and ended up reading it in one sitting. I really hope there is more to this story in the future especially after that ending, it killed me.

Highly recommended!



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People of the Sun, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 327 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press (March 15, 2017)
  • Publication Date: March 15, 2017

    All life comes from the sun. Sometimes, death comes with it.

    Filled with hope and driven by fear, four would-be heroes are driven from their home planet in a desperate bid to save their civilisation from extinction. But survival takes on a whole new meaning when a malfunction sends their ship plummeting toward Earth.

    Surviving the crash is only the first obstacle on their path to salvation. The marooned aliens soon discover that Earth’s beautiful exterior masks an ugly foundation, a place inhabited by a warrior race that’s on a path toward self-destruction.

    Brimming with action and intrigue, People of the Sun is sure to entice fans of dark fantasy and sci-fi thrillers such as Watchmen and I Am Number Four. 


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    Jason Parent, Biography

    In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. Formerly from the Southeastern Massachusetts region, he recently moved to Rhode Island to be near his work. 
    In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.


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     Praise for People of the Sun

    "Jason Parent has penned a thought-provoking, gripping sci-fi thriller. This isn't your grandma's alien invasion. My own world stopped the moment I stepped into People of the Sun. Lovers of science fiction, horror and even super heroes will revel in this roller-coaster of a tale. A true must-read!" -Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching and The Jersey Devil

    With his own indelible blend of tension and dark humour, Jason Parent’s latest page-turner reminds me of what you’d get if you crossed Isaac Asimov with Kurt Vonnegut. In addition to being fast-paced and wildly entertaining, Parent’s novel also offers the occasional flash of insight into the human (and not-so-human) condition, and displays Parent’s talent for turning a given genre on its head.” -Michael Meyerhofer, author of The Dragonkin Trilogy


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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 Jason Parent or review People of the Sun, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. 

    Follow along the tour with these hashtags: 
     #PeopleoftheSun #SciFi #DarkFantasy #aliens
    #SinisterGrinPress




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