Friday, 30 January 2015

Review: The Ice Twins

The Ice Twins
The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Ice Twins from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I want to make it clear before I start that I'm not trying to rip the book to shreds and I'm not purposely being mean. Yes, this is a very negative review but the book was extremely frustrating to read, and I just want to get that across and give some clear examples so you can understand my frustration.

I had to give up on this one. I just couldn't take it anymore. I have never before felt like throwing my kindle across the room in frustration, but this book had me wanting to do just that.

It's a shame because the premise sounded so interesting and I think without all the problems, I could have really enjoyed it. Instead I found myself getting more and more frustrated with every paragraph. Eventually I just threw my kindle down in disgust. I was at the point of thinking to myself... If I see one more *#!$*#! dash, colon or semi-colon, I swear I'm going to hit something.

I was provided with an ARC to review from the publisher, so I thought hmm maybe it's because I have a review copy. Off I went to Amazon, had a little peek inside the book. Yeah, it's not because I have an ARC, have a peek you can see for yourself. And it gets worse the further into the book you get, they seem to be multiplying like rabbits.

On top of the issues with the dashes, colons and semi-colons, there is way too much telling rather than showing. I want to visualise and picture everything in my mind. The writing also lacks flow, it's over punctuated and choppy. I'm honestly not exaggerating at all, the whole book is written this way. Every paragraph and sentence is structured, punctuated and in the format of the examples given.

A few examples:

Angus Moorcroft parked outside the Selkie Hotel, climbed from his cheap, tinny rental car - hired last night at Inverness Airport - and gazed across the mudflats, and the placid waters, to Torran.

With a hand shielding the sun, Angus squinted at his family's new home. But a second car disturbed his thoughts - squealing to a stop, and parking. An old blue Renault.

His friend Josh Freedland got out, wearing a chunky Arran jumper, and jeans faintly floured with the dust of granite, or slate, or marble.

I gaze at the elegant houses across the street; the parked cars glinting under the streetlights. The twilight is now complete. The sky is clear. I can see all the many plane lights circling London, like little red sparks: rising from a vast and invisible fire.

They'd spent an epic weekend drinking too much, laughing too much, being obnoxious and loud, annoying the locals - and having enormous fun. They'd sculled back from the Selkie in the sweet, violet, Scottish summer gloaming: the twilight that never went totally black. Seals had emerged: perpendicular, and observing them. 'Junkie overboard' was born from on spectacularly intoxicated episode, when Josh, completely mashed on Ecstasy, had tried to embrace one of these seals, then fallen in the cold black water - at maybe 11 p.m.

"Seriously, Gus, at night - after civil twilight - you don't want to cross those mudflats."

"In Skye, no one can hear you scream: half the houses along the shore are empty. Holiday Homes. In winter the tide will come in, cold and lethal: you'd drown."

Angus pressed on: "So, you mentioned, on the phone, the tides. This afternoon?" Josh glanced at the receding sea, then back at Angus. "I emailed you a link earlier: official Mallaig tide tables, with all the details." "Haven't had a chance to check: on the go since breakfast."

Then there are the cases where instead of over-telling, the author just throws in information in a totally random way...

"The cool sunny wind tousled his ginger Jewish hair."

Is ginger Jewish hair different from normal ginger hair? Or is just his hair Jewish and the rest of him something else? Or is he Jewish? What is the author saying here? I am guessing this is their way of letting me know the character is Jewish and if that is the case, why not just tell me he's Jewish?

The dialogue isn't very natural, you can see that from the above samples, but there is also the use of lots of OK, No and Yes, together.

My throat is numbed, "OK," I repeat. "OK I see."

"Thus, for instance, she has worked to become a better reader, to fill that gap. I'm not a child psychologist - but, as I understand it, this might not be unusual." "No. No. Yes."

This happens a lot throughout the book. Then there are things like...

"And it was pretty abrupt. But really, these things happen all the time, she's only seven, your daughter, fairly young for her year."

I know, and the characters know, that they are talking about her daughter. So why the "your daughter" reminder? You don't need to keep giving me reminders throughout the book in this way, it makes the dialogue come across as very unnatural.

I apologise for the length of this review and for it sounding rather ranty. I should perhaps have waited for the frustration to wear off before typing it out but never the less, here it is in all it's glory.

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Review: A Place for Sinners

A Place for Sinners
A Place for Sinners by Aaron Dries

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of A Place for Sinners from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Placing this one in the did not finish pile.

I couldn't get into this one. The dialogue and writing didn't flow for me, it felt totally random and disjointed a lot of the time. I couldn't connect with the characters either, there was nothing about them that made them interesting. I didn't care what happened to them, they came across rather like cardboard cut-outs. The story felt like it was all over the place, jumping from one thing to another and didn't hold my interest at all. The whole time I was reading I found myself thinking about what other books I have to read instead and it didn't hold my interest at all.

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Review: I Let You Go

I Let You Go
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of I Let You Go from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, on reading the blurb I found it hard to tell which genre I Let You go falls into. Perhaps it's just me but the blurb reads like it's going to be an emotional story with some love/romance. I showed the blurb to my son after I was done, asked him what genre he would guess from the blurb and he said love story so perhaps it's not just me.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with love stories, it's just not my preferred reading material. But what I'm saying is, if I hadn't seen some very positive reviews from friends on my Goodreads feed, I might not have picked this one. Yes there is a bit of romance in it and it's a very moving and emotional story, but there's actually a lot more to it. I Let You Go actually fits into a few genres, it's a light psychological thriller that will touch you on many different emotional levels and there is a mystery running through it with some very good crime fiction involved and the blurb doesn't reflect that. I think perhaps as a result the book may miss a whole section of readers who would enjoy it but not take the chance based on the blurb.

I really enjoyed reading this one, the writing flows very well and it's a pleasure to read. The characters are well written and very likeable, apart from the ones you're not supposed to like, and easy to care about. The crime side of the novel is expertly done and you can tell the author has used her years of experience of working on CID to make this side of the story very true to life.

I'm impressed that this is the authors debut, it's well written, easy to read and has a really clever twist to it that had me shouting "What? No? It can't be!" out loud without even being aware that I had done so. I only realised I had said it out loud when my hubby woke up asking me what was wrong, oops. It felt like a slap in the face and I was rather impressed with the effect it had. I never saw it coming at all and I actually had to stop and figure out how the author had managed to sneak it up on me. Bravo Ms Mackintosh, I see what you did there and you got me.

I'm looking forwards to reading more from this author and I would definitely recommend picking this one up.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: The Labyrinth (Nightfall Gardens, #3)

The Labyrinth (Nightfall Gardens, #3)The Labyrinth by Allen Houston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Labyrinth in return for an honest review.

The Labyrinth is the third book in the Nightfall Gardens trilogy and boy what a trilogy this was! It's been a long time since I have enjoyed a fantasy series as much as I have enjoyed this one. I'm really fussy when it comes to fantasy, this trilogy had everything I would ask for in dark fantasy and I really can't do justice to how much fun and enjoyment that these books brought me.

On picking up book one I didn't realise just how much I would be drawn into the story and how everything else would be put on hold till I was finished the whole set. I read all three books in just over 3 days, I just couldn't put them down. I was fighting with myself the whole time I was reading, I wanted to put it down so it would last longer but I just couldn't stay away. I struggled to take it slow and not to peek further down the page while reading, I wanted the books to last for as long as possible.

The characters were very well done and were well developed and fleshed out, they each had their own part to play and played them well. I was swept up in their story, rooting for the good guys and hoping for the bad guys to get what they deserved. The plot was so much fun, I was captivated and totally immersed in the wonderful world that the author created and built so well. The atmosphere was dark, gothic and very creepy at times and the creatures and scenes the author created and described were so vivid they set my imagination alight. I felt like a child again, lost in an adventure full of all sorts of wonders and nightmares.

My only negative would be the personality of Furrina, it just didn't work for me. The character was fine but her dialogue and personality was too modern for who she was and the circumstances she was in. Not going to take off any stars for that though because that was just a very minor personal annoyance.

I don't think I have ever given 5 stars to every book in a single series, so doing so with Nightfall Gardens is a first for me and all three books are going on my favourites of 2015 shelf. Definitely one I would highly recommend to those who like their fantasy more on the dark side. I would love to see this trilogy as a movie.

Reviews for the previous books in the trilogy: Book One Nightfall Gardens | Book two The Shadow Garden

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Monday, 26 January 2015

The Shadow Garden (Nightfall Gardens 2)

The Shadow Garden (Nightfall Gardens)
The Shadow Garden by Allen Houston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Shadow Garden in return for an honest review.

The Shadow Garden is book two in the Nightfall Trilogy. Usually I find the middle book in a trilogy doesn't quite reach the level of enjoyment that I find in the first and last books, but with this one that was not the case. I moved onto book two as soon as I finished the first one but I was pleased to see that there was plenty little reminders worked into the story, without it being too much, of what happened in book one for those who perhaps had a period of time between reading the books.

The same wonderful dark and gothic atmosphere is present in this book and I was not disappointed at all in where the story led me in this next instalment. The story was as imaginative, dark and full of wonders and horrors as the first one.

I couldn't stop to write a review as I was itching to move straight onto book three!

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review: Nightfall Gardens

Nightfall Gardens
Nightfall Gardens by Allen Houston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Nightfall Gardens in return for an honest review.

Unbeknown to Lily the Blackwood females are cursed, with her grandmother on her death bed, Lily is now the last female in the Blackwood line and her destiny awaits. Kidnapped by her Uncle, she is returned to Nightfall Manor to protect the world from the darkness, a darkness that holds all sorts of mythical beasts, fairy-tale nightmares and far worse. If Lily is unsuccessful the darkness and terror will be unleashed on the world outside the walls of Nightfall Gardens.

Nightfall Gardens is the first book in the Nightfall trilogy and is a wonderful, dark and imaginative tale. The author creates such an amazing spooky and gothic atmosphere full of all sorts of mythical and fairy-tale creatures. The pacing of the story starts a little slow but it picks up quickly a few chapters in and is written in such a way that it just sets your imagination on fire.

The Manor and the Blackwood family are like their own unique version of the Addams Family. Throw into the mix some magic, creatures from myth and fairy-tale, lots of dark and creepy goings on and you have a very dark and addictive read. The only slightly negative I can come up with, is that it finishes on a cliffhanger, but all three parts of the trilogy are now available so that's just a very minor negative.

I would love to see this as a movie. It's been a while since I enjoyed a dark fantasy as much as I have this one. An easy 5 stars for Nightfall Gardens.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Review: Seeker

Seeker (Seeker, #1)Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Seeker from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Unfortunately this book just isn't for me and I am having to give up on it. The world building is flat and extremely lacking. On first reading it feels very medieval but then it jumps to things that show it's a lot more advanced and modern, only to jump back again and so forth, it's very confusing as a result. Where are we? When are we? Why is here so basic and medieval, when other places are more advanced and modern?

It's not clear what an actual seeker is and it feels like the author has missed backstory and scenes that the story really needs to explain this. When Quin takes her oath she goes through the portal, approaches a house and is obviously scared. Next scene she's covered in blood and gore and totally horrified about what she's just been through. What has she been through? There's nothing there, we've not been told, the author just totally skips the whole scene. We're expected to fill in the gaps ourselves but the author hasn't given us enough information or backstory to be able to do so.

I feel there's no point in reading on when I can't understand or connect with what I've already read. I'm totally lost right now and reading more will just get me more lost and much more confused and frustrated with the story. It's taken me almost a week to get to 40%, that alone says enough. I put the book down and nothing compels me to want to pick it back up.

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Review: Mind Games

Mind GamesMind Games by Teri Terry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Mind Games from the publisher in return for an honest review.

In a world where almost everyone lives, learns and plays in virtual worlds, Luna is one of the few who refuses the implant that makes this possible. Luna is a Refuser, she learns the old fashioned way and she lives in the real world, but she has a secret. Can she protect that secret and herself from PareCo, the creators of the implants and the virtual worlds.

I really enjoyed this one, the writing style flowed very well and it was a pleasure to read. The world building made everything easy to picture in my minds eye, it really made the book stand out and feel real.

I can see technology easily heading this way, it's not outside the realms of believability that this could actually become reality in the future. The plot was really intriguing and unique and although there is a frightening reality to the consequences of something like this happening, I couldn't help but think how much fun being able to access virtual worlds in this way would be.

The different take on hackers was refreshing and I really was not expecting that twist at the end. I'm not going to give away any of the plot, but the shocking reality of those who hold the power and how far they will go to maintain that power is scary believable.

The only thing I can say I'm not a fan of is the cover, it wouldn't catch my attention and draw me to pick up the book to find out more.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Review: The Deep

The DeepThe Deep by Nick Cutter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Deep from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Gets, a disease that is slowly spreading and causing people to forget, little things at first, then bigger things, until eventually they forget how to live. 8 miles under the sea a team of scientists research a substance they think may cure the disease before it wipes out humanity. But everything has gone quiet. The surface has lost communication with the team below. The last message received was for Luke Nelson from his brother Clayton, one of the scientists... "We need you. Lucas. Come home."

First off, I must warn you that if you can't read about animals being hurt or suffering, then this one is not for you.

The Deep is a dark, creepy and claustrophobic read. I used to be terrified of the dark right up until I was a teenager and I hadn't thought about that fear in a long time, till I read this book. The descriptions of the underwater scenes really gave me the creeps and I could feel the darkness sneaking up on me as I was reading. The fear and tension was oozing out the pages, it really grabs your attention and despite the fact that it has you feeling claustrophobic and totally creeped out, you just can't help yourself from reading on.

The pacing is perfect, it starts off a little slow and lulls you into a false sense of security before literally throwing you into the deep end with no warning or inkling of what's ahead. The author expertly places you right into the midst of one of the most terrifying and helpless situations you can ever imagine and captures the mental anguish and decline of the mind in such a situation perfectly. The sounds, the dark, the tension, the atmosphere, the creatures, the list goes on and on. One thing you can be certain of is that he's going to grab you by the seat of your pants and hone right in on one of your deepest phobias and have you reaching for the lamp switch.

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Movie Review: Jessabelle

Returning to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return -- and has no intention of letting her escape.

Jessabelle turned out to be a total flop. The plot wasn't very original at all.

The movie started off OK, the tension building slowly along with the atmosphere but it very quickly went downhill. The ghost that began as ominous shadows and creepy occurrences quickly turned into your run of the mill cheap stereotypical ghost. You know the kind -creepy female wearing a dirty white gown, with long scruffy hair hanging over her face and shoulders, sunken eyes- that jumps out of the shadows screaming for that cheap instant scare effect. Apart from the few cheap scares, the movie really had no scare factor at all.

The whole movie was full of clichés and you will pretty much see everything coming. Of course because the movie is set in Louisiana that must mean that all the black people there practice voodoo, don't even get me started on how insulting that is! The actress playing the lead fails massively in expressing the fear during the more tense parts of the movie and I couldn't take her seriously at all. I kept wanting to tell her to close her mouth, she looked more like she was trying to catch flies than act like she was terrified of what was going on.

Even though there was a twist to the ending, it was a predictable twist. I knew what the end result was going to be, just not how it would be executed and the way it was executed was a huge let down in itself.

Not one that I would recommend at all. I recently read Stillwater by Maynard Sims, it has a similar but far more superior and creepy plot and and would have made for a much better movie than this rubbish.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Review: Witch Island

Witch IslandWitch Island by David Bernstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Witch Island from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Witch Island reads like a typical slasher movie. A bunch of teenage friends having just graduated decide to spend the night camping on Witch Island, where over one hundred years earlier a witch had been burned at the stake. The spirit of the witch is trapped on the island and many residents are scared to set foot there, braving the island despite all the warnings, the group of teenagers have no idea what lies ahead as the night progresses. How many of them will survive the night?

This was a bit of a middle of the road read for me. It wasn't an awful read, but it centred around the teenagers too much for me and I found that part really predictable. The dialogue between the teenage characters was kind of annoying, the use of words like "babe" so often was off-putting. Add to that all the constant stereotypical teenage sex talk and behaviour, and you have pretty much the same story as most teenage slashers out there.

The plot was pretty typical for this kind of story and I knew more or less what was coming as the story progressed. I actually found the parts that covered the backstory of the witch the most enjoyable and would have liked to have seen more of that in the book. I would have also liked to have read and learned more about the characters who were sent to trap the witch. The history of the island and previous inhabitants of the area is what stood out the most for me, it made reading the rest tolerable.

Witch Island wasn't an awful read, I enjoyed it for the most part but the majority of the story has all been done before and is nothing new or unique.

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Review: Bootleg Cove

Bootleg CoveBootleg Cove by Devin Govaere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Bootleg Cove from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Willie Douglas is looking for a new start and moves with her son to Bootleg Cove. Not long after moving into the old remote building Willie finds herself welcoming some homeless teenagers into her home. Just as she feels herself feeling happy and content for the first time in a long time, things take a turn and she realises everything is not as it seems.

This was a great wee read but I must admit it took a little getting used to the main characters name. I kept having to remind myself that she was female because I'm so used to the name Willie being generally a male name.

The story revolves around an old building that sits in Bootleg Cove and the environment and scenes within the story were written in a way that I could picture it all so easily, it almost felt like I was there. The story had a few nice twists, some that I had kind of saw coming, some that I didn't and one in particular that hit me like a ton of bricks.

Bootleg Cove was a quick read for me, I really enjoyed the plot and the pace was perfect. Although it's listed as horror, it's not high on the horror factor scale, it's more light horror mixed with some paranormal.

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Review: Thief of Souls

Thief of SoulsThief of Souls by J.G. Faherty
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Thief of Souls from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Thief of Souls didn't live up to my expectations, I was really looking forwards to this one after reading the blurb. The blurb promises a demon inhabited idol, scary goings on at night, nightmares and a demon terrorising and playing games with Perry.

I was expecting a creepy atmospheric and scary read, it didn't happen. What I got instead was a book where most of the story was spent accompanying Perry breaking into houses and visiting the pawn shop, rather than the scares and atmosphere I was hoping for. Nothing really happened that had Perry considering it was something more sinister till the very end. Right up until the very last moment he didn't even realise there was a demon and even then, those final scenes were a bit of a let down. Spaghetti sauce, really?

I feel like this one had potential but it just didn't get there.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Review: Short Bus Hero

Short Bus Hero
Short Bus Hero by Shannon Giglio

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Short Bus Hero from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I only grabbed this one because Shelby and Kelly rated it so highly, I don't think I would have picked this one up otherwise, the wrestling thing would have put me off.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get into the book. I actually put it down, read another book and then went back to it. I wasn't feeling it to start with and it was the wrestling stuff that was putting me off. I'm glad that I did pick it back up though, once I got a bit further into the story, it really picked up for me.

I enjoyed the way the story was narrated in the voice of Ally's guardian angel, he's not your cliché angel stereotype either, he has a sense of humour and curses like a sailor. The characters were well developed and their story really pulls you into the book. Their ups and downs will make you laugh, smile and tug on those heart strings.

I also liked how it covered the topic of Downs Syndrome without being negative, harsh, disrespectful or cliche. It portrays the struggles and worries of families who find themselves in the position of having a child with Downs Syndrome but at the same time it shows the joy, love and hope that can be found.

The Short Bus Hero is a touching story of strength and determination, heartbreak, compassion and forgiveness, with a very unique plot. They say money can't buy you happiness, you've just got to make sure that the money is in the right hands!

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Review: Suckers: A Horror Novel

Suckers: A Horror Novel
Suckers: A Horror Novel by Z. Rider

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Suckers in return for an honest review.

Dan and Ray decide to get some fresh air after their gig and instead of catching their ride back to the hotel they decide to walk. Unbeknown to the two, the short cut they take down an ally will result in an event that will not only change their lives forever, but will put their lives and those of everyone they know in danger.

Suckers was a really different take on vampires, zombies and a alien parasite that could wipe out the entire human race. It sounds like a mash up of different things when put like that I know, but it all works perfectly and comes together in what is a very good story.

The plot wasn't anything I could ever have expected or guessed it would be, it was unique and gave a fresh perspective to several different topics. Topics that if I am honest I feel have been totally overdone/rehashed by most and are cringingly cliché, but there is none of that happening in this story.

The relationship between the two main characters Dan and Ray really stood out in this book, their characters are well fleshed out and I enjoyed the interaction and different aspects of the two characters. The other characters were also done well, I enjoyed them all as a whole and the friendships, with all their ups and downs, were portrayed excellently.

I did find the start a little slow and it took me a bit to get into the story, but before long I was totally hooked and turning those pages eager to see what happened next. I found myself sat on my own in the dark in the wee small hours, book still clutched in my hands as everyone slept, refusing to sleep till I had finished and finish I did, in one night!

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Review: The Three Sisters: A Whispers Story

The Three Sisters: A Whispers Story
The Three Sisters: A Whispers Story by Lisa Unger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Three Sisters from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I'm not sure how I feel about this one, part one was 5 star worthy for me and I really enjoyed it but part two although it was good, it wasn't as good as part one. As for part three, while I enjoyed reading more about Eloise and her grand daughter, it just wasn't what I was hoping it was going to be.

I feel like I am left with more questions than anything else and also that there was a huge missed opportunity when it comes to developing the story of the family history and the three sisters further. It was like the story just skimmed the surface and didn't really get down to all the grisly details of the whys and hows surrounding them like it should have and concentrated more on the drowned girl instead.

That being said, I did enjoy this series of novellas, I find the authors writing style really nice to read and the characters she creates are easy to feel for and connect to. I just didn't feel this final part in the same way that I did the first two instalments.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Movie Review - The Atticus Institute

Click for trailer.
During the late 1970s, hundreds of cases of psi-related phenomena – E.S.P., clairvoyance, psychokinesis, etc. – were studied at The Atticus Institute, a small psychology lab founded by Dr. Henry West.

After publishing numerous journal articles highlighting the promising results of their work, Dr. West and his fellow researchers were introduced to an unusual middle-age woman named Judith Winstead, whose supernatural abilities tested far beyond any subject they had ever before witnessed. However, it soon became clear that Judith’s abilities were different in ways they could never have anticipated.

Upon learning of Judith, officials from the U.S. Department of Defense were dispatched to The Atticus Institute to observe her, wherein they determined, after strict scientific study, that her physical body was under the control of an unknown malevolent force, thus granting her enormous and nearly unlimited power. This was, and to this day remains, the only government-confirmed case of possession.

        " I don't care who you are,  how many weapons you have.
         All those things that went on... you don't get to play games with the Devil.
         And if you do, you damn sure don't get to make the rules.
         That type of evil... just thinking about it, talking about it.
         Even you people making this movie... and the people watching it... 

         you're inviting bad things into your life.."

This wasn't a bad movie, nothing really new or overly unique about it but there was plenty of creepiness and tension. There was a nice balance between what was shown and what wasn't shown, leaving you to kinda fill in the gaps with your imagination.

It's not your average possession movie, it's done in the style of a documentary, which was a nice change from the hugely overdone found footage. Rya Kihlstedt plays her part, that of the possessed Judith Winstead, very well. The character is all sorts of creepy. Poor Judith as if being possessed by evil isn't bad enough, she ends up at the mercy of the evil of mankind to boot.

The ending was kinda predictable but was good all the same and was worth the watch. Not one I would go out of my way to watch again, but there were times I found myself creeped out and cringing.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Review: Better Left Buried

Better Left Buried
Better Left Buried by Belinda Frisch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Better Left Buried in return for an honest review.

A spirit board, a murder, and a cold case that refuses to stay hidden...

Better Left Buried was a quick and easy read. The pacing was just right and it held my attention throughout but I wouldn't class it as horror, it's more of a mystery/thriller. I was hoping for more of a supernatural/haunting aspect to the plot and was disappointed when it headed in another direction.

I did find it became rather predictable and I had worked out what was going on pretty early in the book. I can't say that I really cared about the characters much either, although I did enjoy their interactions and relationships with each other and how they developed/changed throughout the book.

The blurb makes it sound like a horror but it's not one I would recommend for horror fans.

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Review: The Kingdom Lights

The Kingdom Lights
The Kingdom Lights by Steven V.S.

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Kingdom Lights in return for an honest review.

On starting this book I felt like I was lost with the characters almost right away, I couldn't place who was who, who was related to who etc. I felt like I had a bundle of names thrown at me and was just expected to know who they were. I wasn't able to see them as individuals, I wanted to be shown not told, give me a picture of them in my mind so I will have a mental image to their names. I found the world building lacking in the same way.

The plot reminds me very much of many other fantasy novels I have read, don't get me wrong it was an OK read but nothing new or different. I found it rather predictable and too Harry Potteresque. The story didn't grab me, there was nothing that really made me keep reading as I felt like I knew the story already.

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Review: The Sham

The Sham
The Sham by Ellen Allen

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of The Sham in return for an honest review.

The blurb and concept of The Sham sounded really interesting but unfortunately this book just wasn't for me. I found it very confusing, random and disjointed in many places. I found myself having to re-read parts to try and follow what was happening or to understand what was being said, it lacked flow. The dialogue was also off, there were times where things said were just so random and didn't feel tied into the occasion. The character of Emily felt unreal, she acted much younger than the age she was supposed to be, yet used words that most girls of the age she was supposed to be, wouldn't even know.

I hate to give up on a book, especially when I have been provided with a review copy, but the execution of this one just wasn't working for me. I'm not feeling this one at all. DNF at 48%, first DNF of 2015.

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Girl on the Train from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Rachel gets the same train everyday and everyday she travels the same route, she sees the same houses, with the same occupants and to pass the time she creates stories of what their lives must be like. Until one day something is different, something has changed and she's no longer just the girl on the train. Rachel gets caught up in the lives of these people she's created whole stories for in her head and the impact it has on her and the people she has just watched up until now, is drastic.

I enjoyed how the story was told from the three different perspectives of the female characters: Rachel, Meghan and Anna. The characters are not particularly likeable and I found myself at times feeling frustrated with how much they wallowed, complained and just generally felt sorry for themselves, but at the same time I just couldn't look away.

The mystery aspect of the plot is done very well and the suspicion moves around all the different characters. The suspense and character portrayal was executed well and it keeps you guessing and trying to work out and look for clues to what is going on underneath the surface. Although I did work out who was to blame before it was revealed, the twists and turns kept changing direction, so I could never really be sure just exactly where the plot was going to lead and at who's feet the blame would finally land until it was revealed.

The Girl on the Train is a dark tale that shows how deep an individuals personal struggles can go and what effect they have on their daily lives and those around them. While it's not a 5 star read for me, it really grabbed my attention and I flew through the pages and finished it in one night.

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Review: The Life Intended

The Life Intended
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Life Intended from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The Life Intended is a story of love, loss and learning to cope with grief and moving on. This book took me on a roller-coaster ride of so many different emotions. It's hard hitting, raw and totally captivating. I cried, I laughed, I smiled and I cried some more. Not many books manage to have me tearing up, never mind bawling my eyes out and reaching for the tissues like this one managed to do.

The characters were so real and down to earth and I felt for and connected to them very easily. I believe in life that everything happens for a reason, that although sometimes bad things happen, we learn and grow from them and there's always something more to come. The story in this book, although it's heart breaking, reflects that belief and shows that even though loss can be a struggle, there's always light at the end of the tunnel and it's not always where you expect to find it.

The Life Intended is more a womans book than a mans, the story is expressed exclusively from a female point of view, with emotions and experiences that perhaps only another female could relate to. Should you decide to pick this one up, and I recommend that you do, be sure to have some tissues handy. It doesn't just tug on those heartstrings, it plays a whole symphony with them!

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Review: Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest
Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Suicide Forest from the author through a giveaway on Goodreads. The author was giving away 10 copies to members who had the book on their to-read shelf, I was fortunate to be one of the lucky ten.

Suicide Forest caught my attention initially because it's set in Aokigahara forest in Japan, better known to most as Suicide Forest. The blurb really intrigued me and on reading further it mentioned that the spirits of those many suicides were still roaming and haunting deep in the ancient woods. Sold!

"Shadows emerged from their daytime sanctuaries, perverting the trees more than they already were, turning them into looming monsters out of a sadistic fairytale. Grays became charcoals and charcoals, blacks. Then night was upon us like a thief, swiftly and silently."

This was a very descriptive and well written book. The descriptions and atmosphere of the forest made it very easy to visualise the creepiness and how dangerous the forest was on it's own, even before the author got to the more sinister side of the plot. The characters are well developed and each have their own individuality to bring to the story, making it all the more enjoyable. I have read and watched many different stories and programmes about Aokigahara forest and it's clear that the author has done his research well before writing the book.

The pace to start with was a little slow but still enjoyable. The tension builds slowly and then really picks up, grabs your attention and has you quickly turning the pages. The ending was a pleasant surprise, I wasn't expecting that at all. I'm not going to give spoilers, so you're going to have to read for yourself if you want to know what the twist in the end was!

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Review: The Skintaker

The Skintaker
The Skintaker by Frazer Lee

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of The Skintaker from the author in return for an honest review.

The Skintaker felt a little slow to begin with but that time was used to introduce and to get to know Rosie and her family and to give some detailed background to the characters.

I enjoyed reading this one, the time period of the plot was well written and the character dialogue and interaction worked well. The twists and turns of the story kept it interesting and held my attention, the descriptions of the scenes and environment made them easy to picture in my minds eye.

I enjoyed how Rosie's character developed and grew in the story, she's really put through the ringer and I liked how her confidence and determination grew as the story progressed. From the way the story ends I would like to believe there is going to be more to this story, I want to know what happens to the characters next. Don't get me wrong, the book is wrapped up nicely but there is an opening there for more should the author decide to do so.

3.5 Stars

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Thursday, 1 January 2015

Highlights of 2014

The Highlights, The Favourites and The Flops of 2014

 Another year, another reading challenge and another Hogmanay hangover, lovely!

So, it's now the first of January. My Mum always used to say to me.. Enjoy the years while you can, they go by a lot faster the older you get. I never believed her but what do you know, Mothers are always right.

Before I go any further I want to say, Happy Hogmanay folks and many oh them. An' lang may yer lum reek!

Everyone else is in bed still sleeping off their overindulgence of alcohol, lightweights that they are. It's been so busy over the Christmas and Hogmanay season here but I finally have to time to sum up my year of books, my favourites and the flops.

I think I slightly underestimated how many books I would read in 2014 and set my reading challenge to 60 and finished on 165. When I first started cataloguing my books I was lazy and didn't put dates in for a lot of them and just rated them instead. So although my challenge says I read 165, I think it is more around the 200 mark. I guess one of my Hogmanay resolutions should be to be add read dates for every book!

Just for the hell of it I'm gonna throw in some stats.

The majority of the books I read were published in 2014 (some not till 2015)

  • Books read - 165
  • Pages read - 35,850
  • Books marked as DNF - 7
  • Longest book read - No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill 628 pages

  • 5 star reads - 45
  • 4 star reads - 65
  • 3 star reads - 29
  • 2 star reads - 15
  • 1 star reads - 8

86 of the books I read were provided for review from NetGalley.
The rest are a mixture of books provided free for review through my blog/Amazon or direct from authors, and of course purchased books.

Top Ten Favourites


1 - The Martian by Andy Weir (click for review)

There was a lot of hype surrounding this book, all my friends loved it and I was somewhat apprehensive about reading this one.  I decided to take the chance and requested a copy from the publisher for review. I figured if I didn't like then at least my son would love it as he's really into astronomy and astrophysics. I actually really enjoyed it, it shot right to the top of my list for best read of 2014. The main character Mark Watney is the best male MC that I have come across in all my years of reading.

2 - Devil's Day by Kyle M. Scott (click for review)

I got to know the author of Devil's Day after reading his collection of shorts Consumed: Volume 1 and have since become very good friends with him. I had the pleasure of beta reading this one and I knew right away it was going to be one of my top reads. It took me back to when I first started reading horror and what it was about the genre that I fell in love with.  At the point of reading Devil's Day I had become slightly disheartened with the horror genre, the books I had been reading were good but they didn't give me the rush that I used to get when I first came to the genre. Devil's Day changed all that.

3 - No Such Thing as Werewolves by Chris Fox (click for review)

No Such Thing as Werewolves is the first full novel published by Chris Fox and what a novel. I was expecting to get a run of the mill werewolf story here but what I got was an extremely clever novel with a very unique and impressive plot, delivered at a gripping pace that had me hooked from start to finish. It's a very mixed genre with everything from horror, to thriller, to sci fi, to mystery, really it's got it all and it's a very impressive and clever debut.

4 - Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz (click for review)

Exorcist Road covers one of my favourite topics in horror, demons and possession. Although it's an exorcism story it's also a mystery, someone is torturing and killing 16 year old girls and the young boy that's possessed in the story is being blamed .  I was hooked on this one right from the first few pages. I didn't want it to finish, I kept putting it down to try and put off the inevitable but I was picking it right back up again, I just couldn't help myself.

5 - What Hides Within by Jason Parent (click for review)

I loved this book right from the first few pages, I don't know that I would place it as horror alone but it certainly ticked all the boxes for me in so much as I couldn't put the book down. I loved the humour in the story, the sarcasm and sharp one liners had me laughing out loud. You can tell by the cover that it has something to do with spiders and I hate spiders but I have to admit I even liked the character of the spider in this one.

6 - Full Moon Over Cedar Hill by Edward Lorn (click for review)

Full Moon Over Cedar Hill is a short story set in Cedar Hill Rehabilitation Centre. Good stories covering the topic of this short are hard to come by and hats off to the author for pulling this one off. At just 15 pages it's rather short but there is so much packed into those pages. It's impressive just how much is in this short story and you wouldn't think such a short read could make such an impression as this one does. I'm usually not a fan of shorts but I loved this one, it kind of felt like a whole novel condensed into 15 pages of  hard hitting supernatural horror.

7 - Omerion by Angel Gelique (click for review)

Samuel Rylandt in life was a serial rapist, in death he finds himself in a hell unlike you've ever read before. This was one hell of a read, literally. It was twisted, creepy, dark, gory and an intense story of revenge. I have never enjoyed reading about someone getting their just deserts as much as I did while reading this.

8 - Don't Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz (click for review)

Don't Look Back is the perfect example of why I love Gregg Hurwitz books, fraught with tension, fear, peril and suspense this story had me on tenterhooks page after page.  Many times during reading this book I realised I was tense and holding my breath, the tension was palpable.  It felt at times like I was in the middle of a really intense, action filled thriller/adventure movie.

9 - Graveyard Scavenger Hunt by Brian Barnett (click for review)

Pete has to stay with his grandparents for a few days, adjacent to their house is a graveyard that his grandfather has warned him not to enter. Of course kids being kids, Pete didn't listen. Upon entering the graveyard he comes face to face with Benny “Bones” Barton who challenges him to a scavenger hunt in return for his freedom. I had a lot of fun with this one. Graveyard Scavenger Hunt is a children's horror novel and what a wee gem it turned out to be. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading this one, I just wish my children were still young enough to have shared this with them and experienced it through their eyes.

10 - Hacker (The Outlaw Chronicles #3)  by Ted Dekker (click for review)

This is one of those books that sets your mind spinning, has you stopping to evaluate what you thought you knew, what you thought you believed, has you thinking about life and death and what happens to who we are after our physical body is no more and it's all wrapped up in a fast paced story that centres around a teenage hacker. I was mind blown on finishing this book. It gave me all sorts of questions and things for my mind to ponder on after I had finished reading. I almost wanted to pick it up right away and read it all over again to try and digest what I had just read better.

Non Fiction


I prefer to read fiction so I didn't read a lot of non fiction in 2014 but there was one book that I connected with on such a personal level that I have got to make an exception and have a top 11 favourites list rather than 10.

I have linked to the review in the title but I'm just going to go ahead and copy the review into here as this book had such a profound effect on me that I want to share my thoughts. The link though will also link you to the book on Goodreads with other reviews and links to buy it etc.

On Dragonfly Wings by Daniela Norris (click for review)

Reading this book reminded me very much of my own journey and experiences. I lost my mum to cancer many years ago and before she died she was looking for something, something not just to comfort her but to help her fight the cancer. Reading On Dragonfly Wings almost echoes the experiences we had together when we started down the new path of what was to eventually become a huge part of our lives.

My mum lost her battle with cancer but because of all the similar experiences we had to those in this book, she touched many more lives and shone so much brighter as a result. Together we went on shaman journeys, learned to use dowsing rods and crystals, we both studied Reiki and became Reiki Masters, learned magnified healing, met our spirit guides and many more different things. We met lots of wonderful people who touched our lives in a way that I will remember forever.

This book has brought back so many memories that I hadn't thought about for a long time, it's made me both smile and shed a tear. Thank you Daniela for sharing your journey, I will be reading this book many times over in the future as it will help in a way to keep those memories closer for me.

So that's my top books of 2014. Now for the biggest flop of the year. The award for the biggest flop of 2014 goes to...

Gypsy Hunted by Andrea Drew (click for review)

Although this is the biggest flop of 2014, I have to admit that it's got to be the worst book I have read ever. The premise sounded good but the book itself was unreadable. The author doesn't know how to structure a sentence properly. It was all over the place.  

For example:

 "Her dark hair was just the same as it had always been, her hair part poking through amongst the mess her mouth set in a grimace, accepting all that was barely tolerable."

"I spoke through flattened lips, past my neck in which a vein was pulsing and engorged."

I had to reread certain parts so many times to try and understand what was happening, what was being said and who was doing what, that I gave up in disgust.  Add to that a lot of the 'Let's eat Grandma!' effect.

So there you have it, my year in books. I hope you all have a year full of wonderful books ahead of you and I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know all you book buddies here and on Goodreads. You have introduced me to so many great new authors that I wouldn't have found without you and I've had lots of fun talking books and getting to know you all. Here's to another year filled with lots more of the same!