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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    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.


    Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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