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Friday, 31 October 2014

Review: Darker Shadows Lie Below

Darker Shadows Lie Below
Darker Shadows Lie Below by Al Barrera

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of Darker Shadows Lie Below in return for an honest review.

I'm not feeling this one, it's dragging out too much. I'm 50% in and it's not been holding my attention. I keep putting it down and picking it up hoping that it will catch my interest but it's not.

It feels like nothing is happening or it's not happening fast enough. Dr Kent seems to have done nothing but drive back and forth to the hospital, suffer from insomnia/nightmares, moan a lot and talk to a few patients.

It's not that it's a bad story, it may pick up in the second half, it's just not doing it for me. I'm not feeling the atmosphere at all, which it should have tons of considering the building and the kind of story it is. I can't connect to the characters at all, they feel dull and boring. I keep finding myself thinking of the other books I could be reading instead, when I should be enjoying what I'm reading.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: Exorcist Road

Exorcist Road
Exorcist Road by Jonathan Janz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

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.

It's hard to read a story about exorcism without thinking about The Exorcist by William Blattey, it's the one that all others have to compete with and be compared to and I have to admit I found myself doing the same when I started the book. I wasn't comparing it for long though, all thoughts of comparison flew out the window and I was drawn in completely. Exorcist Road may be a story about exorcism but it also has an underlying mystery which gives it something original, as a result not only are you focused on the possession but you're also trying to pick up on clues to try and solve the mystery. Someone is torturing and killing 16 year old girls and it is believed to be the young boy possessed, but is it?

The story is told by the voice of Father Crowder and is done very well. I was both captivated and horrified by his account, his voice draws you in and holds your attention as he recounts his experience of that awful night. The characters are well developed, they each have have their own demons to fight in the face of the true demon, one who thrives on using their personal demons against them.

I read this book in one sitting, just when I thought I knew the answers and where it was going, the twists and turns got me every time. It was gruesome, fascinating, gory and disturbing and it kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I think this may be a new addition to my favourites of 2014 shelf and I really hope there will be more to come for Father Crowder!

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Release Special: The Seance: A Gothic Tale of Horror and Misfortune by Jack Rollins.

I was fortunate to have a chance to read and review an ARC of The Seance and I enjoyed it very much, you can find my review here. The Seance is due out on the 31st of October, it's a perfect Halloween read , so be sure to grab yourself a copy and settle down for a good creepy read.

The Victorian age of credulity saw the rise of Spiritualism, and with it a slew of shysters and fraudsters seeking out the vulnerable with promises of establishing contact with otherworldly forces.

Albert Kench returns to London, where he seeks to discover the true nature of his sister's sudden mental illness. What he discovers takes him beyond the illusions of the tricksters, and into the path of a man with true knowledge of the Dark Arts.

 All Albert has to do is believe...

           Amazon UK                                 Amazon

I really enjoy the writing style of Jack Rollins, the tales he weaves are both original and atmospherically dark and gothic. The way he builds the Victorian age and atmosphere in his stories pulls me effortlessly into another time and place.

I have always been fascinated by spiritualism and the mediums of the Victorian era. There's just something about it that captures my imagination. Reading Seance was like bringing all those old black and white photographs - of darkened rooms with candles, of people sitting round tables holding hands to contact the dead, of spectral ectoplasm and tables tipping - to life.

Table-turning or table-tipping is a type of séance in which participants sit around a table, place their hands on it, and wait for rotations. The table was purportedly made to serve as a means of communicating with the spirits; the alphabet would be slowly called over and the table would tilt at the appropriate letter, thus spelling out words and sentences.

If you're not already tempted to go and grab that copy, let me give you a little sneak peek at the first few pages:
When I arrived at the gates of Oakbridge Asylum, I could not have been more surprised. Through the sculpted iron gates, my eyes discovered what looked like a stately manor, rather than a place for society to hide its idiots, lunatics and madmen. Prior to that time, I’d had little need to visit such a place and so the mind had always conjured up images of shackled living skeletons howling and screaming long into the night.
     This thought may at first seem like nothing to anyone else, but when one attends the asylum to see one’s sister, well, the mind simply races.
     A man in a navy blue uniform, with waistcoat, cap and bow tie opened the gate. He glanced at a small slip of paper in his hand and asked, “Mr Albert Kench, is it?”
     “Yes,” I replied.
     “Follow me,” he said, opening the gate further, so that I could pass.
     “I am John Hayward. Dr Ellis said you were coming today, and I am at your service.”
     “’Obliged. One of the guards, are you, Mr Hayward?” I asked.
     Hayward frowned at me and shook his head. “Guards? No guards here, Mr Kench. I’m an attendant. I work in the gentlemen’s wing, and I am captain of the male attendant’s cricket team, as well as trumpeter with the asylum band.”
     “No guards?” I asked, barely registering the other parts of Hayward’s response. “Why, who keeps the lunatics in?”
     Hayward chuckled and spread his arms out to either side, drawing my attention to the cultivated gardens at either side of the road. “Keep them in? Who would want to leave? The only thing we would need guards for is to keep others out, sir. The patients have been through enough, without the outside world burdening them further.”

    I was stunned, and for a few moments I was in silence. Here we were in an island of tranquillity in the North West of London. I did not know whether it was the fact that the sun was able to permeate the thick atmosphere this far from the city proper, or the sound of the birds singing in the trees to my left and right, but for a moment I felt as though I would never leave Oakbridge.
     “You said ‘gentlemen’ before. That explains the beauty of the grounds,” I said, assuming myself to at last be on the same track as Hayward.
     Hayward stopped, his moustache raising at the sides as he smiled. I had amused him, it seemed. “Mr Kench, we refer to all of the men who live here, low-born or high-born, as gentlemen. And all of the ladies are ladies to us. You are here to see Sally, yes?”
     “I am.”
     “Your sister?” Hayward guessed, still smiling, eyebrows raised in anticipation of my response.
     “Yes, Sally is my sister.”
     “Perhaps, when your visit with poor Sally is over, you will better understand the ethos of our beloved Oakbridge. Perhaps you will understand that when I play the trumpet for the asylum band, there are two trumpeters next to me who are more capable than me, but who are called insane and idiot by the world outside. There is a man who can drum better than any I have heard, who lives here very safely, but who wanted to bring his own life to an end out there in that cruel city.
     “Perhaps you will come to understand how it was that last Sunday the patient cricket team beat the attendants most decisively, and how we will do our damned best, beg your pardon, to beat them this Sunday if the Lord sees fit to withhold the rain.” Hayward continued to walk up the road, and I followed him, quite dumbstruck at how… improper it seemed that high-born and low should be so closely associated in a place that concerned their private health.

 The Seance is available now on Amazon and other stores to pre-order and will be released on the 31st October. Don't miss out on a great Victorian horror!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Review: The Unearthed

The Unearthed
The Unearthed by Evan Ronan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

The premise of this one really intrigued me, I do love a good haunting or supernatural story. This read in a way like an episode of a supernatural investigation series that you would watch on TV. You have the Rosselli family living in the Moriarty house. A house where previously there had been a massacre and only the youngest child of the family survived. Then we have Tim and Eddie McCloskey and their team of local ghost hunters, whom the Rosselli's call in for help.

The characters in this book are very well developed, they each have their own story and background and are all weaved together in a way that makes for a good story. There was one thing that kind of irked me, the author has inserted himself in the story as a local author who has been working on writing a book about the massacre. The group contacts him for some information to help them with their investigation. Moira one of the investigation team, who seems to be the female version of that single male who objectifies women that you find in many books/films etc, which annoyed the hell out of me. I mean cmon, she's supposed to be shy but she's looking at every male she meets like he's her last meal or she's on heat. I didn't see a point to her behaving that way at all, it felt like she was thrown in with this trait because most of the characters were male and this is how it would work if it was the other way around. Anyway, back to what I was saying, Moira sees Evan and thinks to herself if only he were 5 years younger. I'm not sure why the author would do this because it does portray a bit of ego when reading it and I found myself feeling embarrassed for him knowing that others would probably come to the same conclusion.

The story centers around the characters and their reactions more than it does on the actual haunting, it's a look at their lives and how they react, cope and deal with the situations they are placed in. The actual haunting itself and events that take place in the house are not really a big part of the tale and didn't create the creepy atmosphere I was hoping for. However, it was a good story, I enjoyed the characters and The Unearthed was a pretty good paranormal thriller. I would have liked a few more chills and haunting atmosphere to it but I would definitely read more from this author.

I would rate this around 3.5 stars but rounded up to 4 as there is no half stars.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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Review: On the Lips of Children

On the Lips of Children
On the Lips of Children by Mark Matthews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hmm I don't know what I want to say about this one, I've been sat thinking about it for a while trying to decide what it was that about this book that didn't gel with me. I enjoyed it but at the same time I didn't enjoy it.

I found Macons inner dialogue got a bit too much for me, it felt like it went on forever at times. I wasn't a fan of all the marathon stuff to be honest and I found myself skipping bits.

The story was graphic, twisted and definitely original. There was a dark, claustrophobic atmosphere that really brought out the intensity of the story. I preferred when it was concentrated on the cave scenes and the cannibalism. I feel I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the marathon stuff was watered down some, all that inner dialogue just dragged for me.

One thing that did bother me throughout was how Lyric was portrayed, she's 6 years old and she's in a stroller, which is fair enough as they were running and of course she couldn't keep up. However what 6 year old can't get out a stroller on their own when they have to? My kids could get out of a stroller in seconds at half Lyric's age. Her persona felt all over the place, her parents treated her like she was a lot younger, yet her inner dialogue seemed that of an older child. It wasn't consistent or believable at all.

The ending felt rushed and incomplete. I mean cmon what happened? We have two families and we don't know what happens to either of them in the end. It was like the last chapter was missing. Sort it out Mark, you can't leave us not knowing!

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Review: Gypsy Hunted

Gypsy Hunted
Gypsy Hunted by Andrea Drew

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Gypsy Hunted via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book but unfortunately I had to give up and add it to my DNF pile.

There is no flow to the writing and it's in bad need of proof reading and editing by someone who knows what they are doing. The grammar and punctuation, or lack of in places, make the sentences choppy in parts and too long in others. It was very frustrating as many sentences didn't make sense at all and it's virtually impossible to follow the storyline. There was also a lot of repetitive use of words too close together in one sentence, and starting multiple consecutive sentences with the same word.

The lack of punctuation created lots of the 'Let's eat Grandma!' effect. I had to reread sentences so many times just to try and understand what was being said or who was doing what.

A few examples of some of the problems mentioned above...

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

2. Most likely here the doctors and nurse would be of goodwill, although not always.

3. I glanced at the redhead curling my fingers to scrape my hair back.

4. 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.

5. Long, straw-colored hair fell across her face, her wrists were tied, and through her mouth, gagged with duct tape, she was struggling to make some semblance of noise.

6. “Hey, Gyp, saw you get a business card. Geez doesn’t take you long, girl. Hope you wore matching undies tonight.” Rita swigged down half a glass of wine in one gulp. Her narrow face was mocking me. She rolled her eyes as she set her wine glass on the shelf, and then pushed her hands out to warm them at the open fire. “Piss off, Rita, jealousy makes you ugly.” I lowered my chin to look at her, my feet apart in a fighting stance. Then, letting it go, I turned to Chloe, who was struggling not to show her delight."

I hate to give up on a book but unfortunately, with all the problems I had with this one, I had to admit defeat. I don't understand the 5 star reviews this book has, after reading the book I can't justify their ratings, they really aren't doing the author any favours by not being honest about the problems in the book.

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Review: Fog Warning

Fog Warning
Fog Warning by Edward Lorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of Fog Warning from the author in return for an honest review. I really enjoy Edwards books and I dropped everything else I was reading at the time in order to get to this one asap.

There is just something about the way Edward Lorn writes, it's very easy to read, to relate to and to enjoy. There's no effort to reading his work, the pages just grab you and you fly through them, you can just sit back and lose yourself in the story and enjoy it. The only words I can find to describe reading one of his books is... It's like sitting down with a friend, it's familiar, comfortable and good company no matter how scary or horrifying the plot of the book is.

Fog Warning has plenty of gory cringe worthy moments, creepy hair on the back of your neck moments and plenty sarcasm and wit that will have you chuckling. The dialogue was great, it feels natural, almost like you're overhearing a conversation. The story itself creates a creepy atmosphere and just when you think you know what's going on it throws in an unexpected twist, ones that I certainly didn't see coming. Edward does a great job of playing your emotions when it comes to the main character, at times you think he's an idiot and deserves all he gets, then he has you feeling for him and wanting him to succeed.

I have so many highlights in this book, I couldn't help but highlight many sentences and descriptions as they were impressively written and expressed. There was one short description of an event that happened that I read and reread, I was literally in awe with the way it was written. It made me catch my breath and I could feel the tension creep up on me. Even reading it now, it still has the same effect.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one, it's an easy 5 stars from me and it has earned a place on my favourite shelf.

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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