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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Review: Island of the Forbidden

Island of the Forbidden
Island of the Forbidden by Hunter Shea

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

An isolated island with an awful past. A creepy house that's falling to bits on the outside is in perfect condition on the inside despite laying empty for 20 years. The grounds overrun by trees, greenery and the ghosts of over 100 children, and a new family has just moved in. Sounds like a recipe for disaster right?

Island of the Forbidden has it all, ghosts, an evil presence, psychics, creepy dead children, old haunted house, good guys, bad guys, the list goes on. I would have been out of there faster than cake at a weight watchers meeting!

The atmosphere and tension in this book was perfect, I was gripped right from the start and couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The pacing is just right, the tension building slowly as the atmosphere gets darker and creepier before going off the scales as everything comes to a head. Island of the Forbidden is very much a plot driven story, the characters having just enough depth and background for the plot to take the lead. Usually I prefer characters to be a bit more fleshed out but in this case it worked perfectly just as it is. The descriptions made the island, house, and grounds easy to picture in my minds eye and added so much more to the creepiness, especially when picturing the house and all the children.

This was such a good read, I couldn't put it down. I got to get my hands on more books by this author!

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Friday, 28 November 2014

Review: The Pendle Curse

The Pendle Curse
The Pendle Curse by Catherine Cavendish

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Finally a proper witch story! I have been in the mood lately to read about witches and the few that I was recommended weren't really what I was looking for. I jumped at the chance to review this one as soon as I saw witches mentioned in the blurb and I wasn't disappointed.

I recently reviewed another of Catherine's books Saving Grace Devine and really enjoyed it, so I was even more keen to start this as a result. The Pendle Curse is written much in the same way as Saving Grave Devine in that the tale weaves between two time periods that come together wonderfully in the end. The attention to detail when describing the scenes and building and connecting the tales between past and present is very well done. The characters are well developed, the relationships and tension between them are expressed in such a way that you can feel the emotions and tensions building as the story progresses. The story moves at a nice pace and held my attention from start to finish.

The only thing missing from this (thank goodness) was the cliché "Hubble bubble toil and trouble!" It had it all, witches, cauldrons, spells, familiars, curses and more. I really enjoyed this one and ended up reading it in one sitting. I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Review: Echoes

Echoes by Michael Bray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great book in the Whispers trilogy, roll on book three!!

Echoes picks up seven years after book one and a hotel has been built on the area of Hope House. A paranormal team are going in to investigate and the previous tenants of the house have returned for the event, although not really having wanted to. Will everyone be safe and things go as planned?

There are a few storylines running together in this one, each with it's own characters and it works really well. The individual storylines really build the tension up on several different fronts and brings them all together for a great finale. One that will have you itching to get your hands on book three to see what happens next.

There isn't as much mystery in this one as in the first one but the tension really picks up in Echoes as previous characters make an appearance and are determined to have their revenge and to try claim what they didn't get in book one. You are swept along with the story, watching the characters take steps that you just know are going to have dire consequences later on.

I'm eager to get my hands on the last instalment to see what's coming next!

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Review: The Rose Man

The Rose Man
The Rose Man by Terry M. West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Well that was kinda creepy. I'll never look at roses the same ever again.

Such a thoughtful and simple gesture buying a rose for the one you love and what awful consequences that simple gesture results in in this tale. The Rose Man is a very creative and imaginative story with twists that I couldn't even have begun to see coming. If I had any flowers in my house while reading this they would certainly be hidden out of sight as soon as I was done! Just the thought of them sat there gives me the shivers!

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Review: Seed

Seed by Lisa Heathfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

I couldn't put this book down, I picked Seed up earlier this afternoon and before I knew it it was dark outside and the rest of the day had gone without me realising.

What would you do if you discovered everything you'd learned or been taught was a lie?

Pearl has just become a woman and is looking forwards to one day becoming the companion of Papa S like many young girls have done before her. It's all she's ever wanted but the arrival of three new members to the community begins to awaken doubts within her and she finds herself questioning everything she's been brought up to believe in.

Pearl lives a happy, content and perfect life, she has everything she could ever need. A roof over her head, a family who loves her and food on the table. Food that is grown lovingly by the hands of the community she has grown up in, the only one she's ever known. The community of Seed.
Seed is run by Papa S, they all look up to him, they live their daily lives following his beliefs and thanking Mother Nature everyday for all she provides. Secure and happy in the knowledge that as long as they stick to the beliefs and live their lives by the rules their leader has put in place, that life will go on as Mother Nature has planned, together, perfect and happy, safe from the outside world. But things aren't always what they seem to be.

Seed is a coming of age story with a difference, it's both beautiful and horrifying and will open your eyes to the stark truth that goes on in places all over the world. We all want to have that ideal life, to be surrounded by people we love and to feel safe and content with everything we have but sometimes things are too good to be true. The story is beautifully written and the characters give us a peek into a world that many of us will have heard of and found ourselves wondering, what were they thinking? How couldn't they not see what was going on? Why didn't they leave or question things? To us looking in, these questions seem so simple, the signs so blaringly obvious but on reading this book you find yourself understanding why they didn't leave, why they weren't seeing what was really going on and why they didn't question things. The power that someone can have over a group of people is scary to witness, how easily someone can manipulate and control, how far they will go to make sure they maintain that control.

I really wasn't expecting this book to touch me in the way it has, It just grabs you, and doesn't let go. The character development was fantastic and I felt for them, I just wanted to grab them and save them, show them that the outside world isn't such a bad place.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review: Dark Prayer

Dark Prayer
Dark Prayer by Natasha Mostert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Dark Prayer from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Once again Natasha Mostert writes another great book around the concept of memory. I was keen to dive into this one as I was fascinated with the use of memory in Season of the Witch and I was eager to see where else she could go with it in this book.

Jennilee's mother is murdered and she's the only one to have seen the person who murdered her but she has no memory of who the murderer was. Her mother was part of a group made up of 4 people who were studying the mystery of the human memory, how we remember and how those memories change over time. Is it possible to make those memories more vivid at the time? Is it possible to restore forgotten memories? Can we remove unwanted memories from those who have experienced trauma and want to forget?

Daniel Barone who was part of the group, takes Jennilee in and becomes her guardian after the death of her mother. Many years later she disappears and on finding her, her guardian soon discovers that she has no memory of who she once was, she's suffering from what is known as a fugue state and has a whole new identity. He reaches out to her and she refuses to come home, so Daniel in an attempt to get her back contacts another member of the group who sends his son Jack Simonetti to help. All is not as it seems however, and there is a darker side to the story. One which you're going to have to read to find out!

I really enjoyed this one, it wasn't as heavy a read as it sounds from what I have written above. It's a very well paced mystery and I learned quite a few things while reading. I was actually quite shocked to learn what they used to do in medieval times to young children. During a time when few could write, they would use these children in the most awful way in order to make them remember certain occasions more vividly so that the memory would be remembered exactly as it happened, unchanged even in the childs old age.

The story has a lot of detail and it's obvious a lot of research went into this one. It was well executed and it left me with many things to think about after having finished. My 16 year old son and I actually ended up having a rather interesting conversation, there was one part of the book that I read out loud to him - "If there were memories to sell, what would you buy? I would buy memories of love. If there were memories to buy, what would you sell? I would sell memories of love." - and we ended up talking away for almost 2 hours about the possibilities of this and what we each would choose and why.

Oh and I just can't finish this review without my favourite quote from the book - Books. They tumbled from the bleeding sky like wounded birds. The spines snapping open and the pages fanning white. Black letters slipping off the slanted pages and falling, falling to the ground where they... Shatter.” It's not very often I quote from a book in my review but I just loved that one!

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Friday, 21 November 2014

Review: Journals of Horror: Found Fiction

Journals of Horror: Found Fiction
Journals of Horror: Found Fiction by Terry M. West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review copy provided by Terry M. West in return for an honest review.

I used to spend many a sleepless night on Reddit reading the horror case files and found footage horror stories. Journals of Horror is much the same but in book format, so I was looking forwards to this one. There are so many stories in this collection that if I were to say a little about each like I usually do with anthologies, my review would be too long. Instead I've given them each a rating and will say a little about my favourite and my least favourite in the collection.

"If you have an arse you're as good as buggered already" Hole By Joseph Ramshaw is by far my favourite and it's so aptly named! I kinda cottoned on roughly where this story was going, enough to know there was a huge cringe factor ahead of me. It was so wrong in so many ways but I just had to keep reading.

My least favourite was Vermilion A Traveller's Account By Stuart Keane. I don't like zombie stories. I'm sick of them, they are everywhere and most are rehashed and done to death in my opinion, so I wasn't far into the story before I knew it wasn't one for me. I also didn't like the homophobic tone used by the MC or his use of the word "fags" or the way the guy with a stutter was classed as a retard. That kind of stuff honestly sets off my moral compass and I don't want to read it.

1. Bagged, Tagged & Buried by Terry M. West - (4 stars)

2. Turn Me On, Dead Man By Robin Dover - (2.5 stars)

3. Truant By D.S. Ullery - (5 stars)

4. The Book of Flesh and Blood By Jeff O’Brien - (4 stars)

5. Beyond Castle Frankenstein By Paula Cappa - (1 stars)

6. Dying Scrawl by DJ Tyrer - (1 stars)

7. Girl in the Woods By Evan Purcell - (3 stars)

8. Going Home By Michael McGlade - (2 stars)

9. Hamburger Lady By Darryl Dawson - (3 stars)

10. Hole By Joseph Ramshaw - (5 stars)

11. Human Resources By Todd Keisling - (1 stars)

12. In the Woods, We Wait By Matt Hayward - (3 stars)

13. “Killing Jessica” By Glenn Rolfe - (5 stars)

14. Letter to Grandma By Crystal Leflar - (3 stars)

15. Look Up By Michael Seese - (3 stars)

16. Lucca By John Ledger - (2 stars)

17. Night Terrors: Journal By Michael Thomas-Knight - (5 stars)

18. Finders Keepers By Paul D. Marks - (3 stars)

19. The Anniversary By Sonja Thomas - (3 stars)

20. The Breath Within The Darkness By Essel Pratt - (3 stars)

21. The Devil’s Irony By Lori R. Lopez - (2 stars)

22. The Note By P. D. Cacek - (3 stars)

23. The Seahorse Speaks By Erik Gustafson - (4 stars)

24. Vermilion A Traveler’s Account By Stuart Keane - (1 stars)

25. Whispers on the Wind By Robert McGough - (4 stars)

26. There's something in my house By Wesley Thomas - (2.5 stars)

27. Tweets of Terror By Robert Holt - (1 stars)

28. Self-Consumed By Terry M. West & Regina West - (4 stars)

29. Note-To-Self By Christopher Alan Broadstone - (3 stars)

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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