Friday, 10 November 2017

The Haunting of Highdown Hall (Psychic Surveys #1) by Shani Struthers

Synopsis:

"Good morning, Psychic Surveys. How can I help?"

The latest in a long line of psychically-gifted females, Ruby Davis can see through the veil that separates this world and the next, helping grounded souls to move towards the light - or 'home' as Ruby calls it. Not just a job for Ruby, it's a crusade and one she wants to bring to the High Street. Psychic Surveys is born. 

Based in Lewes, East Sussex, Ruby and her team of freelance psychics have been kept busy of late. Specialising in domestic cases, their solid reputation is spreading - it's not just the dead that can rest in peace but the living too. All is threatened when Ruby receives a call from the irate new owner of Highdown Hall. Film star Cynthia Hart is still in residence, despite having died in 1958. 

Winter deepens and so does the mystery surrounding Cynthia. She insists the devil is blocking her path to the light long after Psychic Surveys have 'disproved' it. Investigating her apparently unblemished background, Ruby is pulled further and further into Cynthia's world and the darkness that now inhabits it. 

For the first time in her career, Ruby's deepest beliefs are challenged. Does evil truly exist? And if so, is it the most relentless force of all?

My review:

I have already read the newest novel featuring Psychic Surveys with Ruby Davies, Theo, Ness and Corinna. However this is the first book in the series and it introduces the team to the readers. Psychic Surveys is a small business created with customers and spirits in mind. Ruby and her team of psychics work hard to help spirits find their way to the light and cross over to the other side.

As business is picking up and Ruby meets the web designer Cash (who sounds rather dashing), the company receives a call from Highdown Hall. An angry spirit of a high profile 1950s actress Cynthia Hart still resides in the mansion, taking over the first floor rooms and not letting anyone anywhere close, which unsurprisingly doesn’t go down well with the new owner.

The team get tangled up in Cynthia’s very secretive personal live and realise very early on that to help her move on, they will first need to uncover the exact events that eventually led to her untimely death. She is angry and hurt, but above all she seems to be petrified.

I love Ruby and her team and Cash seems to just slot in perfectly too. Ruby has such a beautiful, forgiving outlook on life and all people living and dead. She definitely meets her match at Highdown Hall, but she never leaves an unhappy spirit behind and works hard to help everyone to get where they need to get to.

My rating: 5/5

Available to purchase from:

Friday, 3 November 2017

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

Synopsis:

A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.
But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.
As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

My review:

The Ice Twins was my introduction into the world of author S.K. Tremayne. And what an experience this was. I don’t think my breathing has slowed down yet and I feel like I need to be looking over my shoulder. I might even start hating the dark again.

The novel starts innocently enough with the bereaved Moorcroft family of mum Sarah, dad Angus and their surviving twin Kirstie, preparing to move from London to an isolated little island in the Hebrides. It looks beautiful, will solve their financial trouble and just maybe it will give them the fresh start they all need. They have lost nearly everything since the death of Kirstie’s identical twin sister Lydia, but this move could bring them closer and forget about the past as much as they could.

But past doesn’t stay in one place. You carry it on your shoulder and it jumps out of the shadows when you least expecting it. Both Sarah and Angus are grieving. They are also full of distrust and anger towards each other and the one person suffering the most is Kirstie, which becomes obvious when she tells her mum that she is not Kirstie, she is Lydia and that Kirstie is dead. This sparks a massive snowball effect of bad decisions, more secrets and events that this little family just cannot survive.

I was on the edge of my seat. I had half of the book still to read last night but I had to finish it there and then. I couldn’t go another day without knowing how this would end and what really did happen.

Fabulous book and I am most definitely looking forward to reading more by this author. If you are looking for a psychological thriller that will keep you up at night and that gives nothing away until the last few pages, then this is for you.

My rating: 5/5

Available to purchase from:

Friday, 27 October 2017

Cold Christmas (DCI Antonia Hawkins #4) by Alastair Gunn

Synopsis:

In the small village of Cold Christmas there's a church that faces the wrong way . . . What has it to do with the three dead men found in a London flat? DCI Antonia Hawkins has a killer to catch. Only she can't predict what is waiting for her at the end of the chase.

Nobody remembers the young men entering the abandoned London flat a few weeks ago. Nobody cares if they left. Until the unbearable smell of decay.

DCI Antonia Hawkins is called in to view the dead men; three, lying neat in a row. There's no damage to the bodies, no obvious cause of death. Is this a suicide pact? Or is that just how it's meant to look?

If there is a link between the three very different men then Hawkins needs to find it, and fast. Because unless she does, more are going to die. And they might not all be strangers.

My review:

When I got this book I haven’t realised that it’s part of a series. This is the forth book in Detective Inspector Antonia Hawkins series and although it did read fine as a standalone book I would have preferred to read them in order as there were hints throughout the book at previous cases and her personal life, which has now put me off reading the previous book – I feel I already know too much.

Three decaying bodies with no obvious signs of how they died left arranged on the floor of an abandoned flat. DCI Hawkins and her team are stuck on finding a motive, let alone the killer. But as they start to dig deeper into the victims’ history and as they retrace their footsteps, the team uncover a much deeper meaning to the deaths of the young men.

This is a great, fast paced crime novel. I really enjoyed learning about Toni’s live as well as the work she does and how the whole team work together. Her personal life with fiancĂ© Mike seems to be woven well into the story and keeps the novel on a more human, believable level.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5


Available to purchase from:
Amazon UK (published 16 November 2017)
Amazon US (published 01 February 2018)

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem by Jennifer Arnston

Firstly I would like to say a very Happy Birthday to Jennifer and happy publication day. And thank you very much for letting me be part of your author journey.

Jennifer Arntson
Author, dreamer, and sworn enemy of Caillou

Jennifer Arntson has a long history of crafting tales that people find unbelievable, but often true. As an observer of human and social development through the ages, a curiosity of faith, and dedication to the underprivileged of the developing world, Jennifer finds her creative outlet in stories and fables. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children, and a mini-farm of otherwise useless animals where the family eagerly caters to their every need.


Synopsis:

Stripped of their birthright and shunned by the people of Ashlund, Una and her family are forced to live on the fringe of society as Scavengers. When the family experiences a sudden change of circumstance, Una takes new freedoms, free from the Authority, her family and possibly her fate. Pulled between the life she's always known and a world where status and rituals are everything, Una struggles to understand a culture that has rejected her family and celebrates death. Time is running out and she can't stop thinking about what she fears the most: the coming of her womanhood and her subsequent price when she's taken to the Sellers Stage. As the Festival of the Three Moons draws near and she learns who she really is, will Una find the courage to do what it takes to ensure her family's survival, or will she find the faith to follow her heart?

My review:

I love a bit of fantasy and this book fits right into that genre. The synopsis I was sent didn’t give too much away which is how I kind of prefer to receive books. I can then really make up my own mind.

Right from page one you are thrown into the harsh world of Ashlund, where Citizens live by strict rules under the power of the priests and the threat of being excluded from the high society. On the other side of the coin you have the Scavengers (or Reclaimers). They live on what they can grow and find and make themselves. They also live in constant fear of being hunted, tortured and murdered by the Authority, who makes this their sport of choice.

Una is a teenage girl on the brink of womanhood, who has only ever known living as a Scavenger with her parents and two brothers. But things are starting to change. With the upcoming Atchem festival where girls are pretty much sold based on whether they are fertile or not, strange things start happening around her. She has dreams that too real; a horse they reclaim seems to understand every word she says.

And then there is Blue. The Citizen that pays Una the attention a lover pays to his sweetheart. And behind Una’s back a plan is being hatched between Una’s parents and Blue’s grandfather that would change her life forever.

But revelations within her own family threaten everything Una knows and she sets of on a dangerous path decisions that will shape everyone’s future. The bonds within her family are threatened and only her own instinct and understanding can stop a disaster.

I don’t want to give any more away. I loved the book and can’t wait for the next installment. A massive thanks to the author for sending me the book – I was very happy to share my review.

My rating: 5/5

Available to purchase from: free e-book on publication day 21/10/2017

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Eleventh Floor (This Haunted World #2) by Shani Struthers

Synopsis:

A snowstorm, a highway, a lonely hotel…

Devastated by the deaths of her parents and disillusioned with life, Caroline Daynes is in America trying to connect with their memory. Travelling to her mother’s hometown of Williamsfield in Pennsylvania, she is caught in a snowstorm and forced to stop at The Egress hotel – somewhere she’d planned to visit as her parents honeymooned there.

From the moment she sets foot inside the lobby and meets the surly receptionist, she realises this is a hotel like no other. Charming and unique, it seems lost in time with a whole cast of compelling characters sheltering behind closed doors.

As the storm deepens, so does the mystery of The Egress. Who are these people she’s stranded with and what secrets do they hide? In a situation that’s becoming increasingly nightmarish, is it possible to find solace?

My review:

This is another cracker from the fabulous Shani Struthers. I love a good ghost story and Shani has got this brilliant talent in creating a believable world that you get lost in so easily.

The story follows Caroline, travelling through the states following the foot path of her parents. She gets caught in a snow storms and ends up having to stay at the old-fashioned hotel that she heard so much about from her mother. The Egress hotel has its charms but Caroline senses something strange within it walls.

Caroline meets various characters at the hotel and they each seem to have secrets and troubles of their own. There is also something sinister residing within the hotel’s corridors and following some terrible nightmares Caroline start fearing the strangeness of the place and how it is changing her, however the hotel has also given her the charming David for a company and she tries to focus on that as the happy part of her stay.

But this story is not just about fear and ghosts, it’s about a person’s journey, it’s about love and hate and history that can change someone’s path. I think this is so far my favourite book by Shani (well maybe on the same level as The Venetian). I suspected what was going on about half way through the book, but it still got a couple of tears out of me when it was done.

As I said this is a fabulous book for those long autumnal evenings, with the wind howling behind the windows and in the chimneys.

Thank you to the Shani and TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5


Available to purchase from:

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Break by Marian Keyes

Synopsis:

Amy's husband Hugh isn't really leaving her.

At least, that's what he promises. He is just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .

It's been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she'd have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part - the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part - is staying in love.

My review:

Fabulous book and Marian Keyes is back to her best. I still enjoyed her previous novel but I feel that The Break is the Marian Keyes we all know and love. Her humour is there, her brilliant insight into people’s relationships is there and well, the book has it all.

I loved Amy and Hugh. Well….I hated Hugh for a while, but with Marian’s magical descriptions of the turmoil of emotions people go through in a lifetime of one relationship, I had to grow to love Hugh too.

Hugh and Amy were far from perfect, but they had it all. Until they didn’t. This book shows perfectly how easy is to jump on the bandwagon and throw blame at the obvious person, the one that has left everyone else behind. But life is never that easy and both Hugh and Amy are brilliant examples of how self-growth is important for people to be able to invest their true self in the relationships they have with all people around them.

I loved the book. It brought me to tears quite a few times as I think most people will be able to identify themselves with some parts of the story. Is shows quite clearly that things are never what they seem and that we have to put to correct effort and work into our lives to feel fulfilled.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5


Available to purchase from:
Amazon US (24 October 2017)

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Treatment by C.L.Taylor

Synopsis:

Cecelia Ahern’s Flawed meets Never Let Me Go in the pulse-pounding YA thriller from the Top Ten Sunday Times bestselling author of The Escape.

“You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”

All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She's not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she's almost relieved.

Everything changes when she's followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets. Before it’s too late.

My review:

A fab, fast-paced young adult fiction book full of good characters and twist and turns. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope there is a second instalment.

Drew and Mason are pretty much normal teenagers, one rebelling against the world, the other one keeping head down and out of the way. When Mason is sent away to the Reform Academy, everything changes. And when Drew gets the mysterious message in the hands of Dr Cobey, things get plain dangerous.

Drew decides to be brave and see for herself what sort of treatment this revolutionary school delivers and gets herself enrolled through basically making herself seems like a bad egg. She soon realises there is much more to that place then strict regime and therapy.

Great story that never really stops with Drew as the main character, which you can’t help but like and spur on throughout the book.

Thank you to the author and NetGalley for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 4/5


Available to purchase from:

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Shining by Stephen King

Synopsis:

Jack Torrance's new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote...and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

My review:

I’ve had Stephen King’s books on my shelves for years. First I picked up Salem’s Lot and loved it, even though it scared me so I couldn’t sleep for three nights. Misery was next and again loved the book, although I had to stop reading couple of times for all the gory details King is so good at. Rosie Madder was a slight disappointment for me - a little too strange an ending, but still a brilliant book to read.

And now - The Shining. For me it’s gone straight to the top. It’s a brilliant book. It has a fascinating back story for all the characters, their relationships and all the things and mistakes that lead them to such a fabulous finale in the book.

The characters developed throughout the story with some surprising outcomes and not the way I felt they were going. The suspense is typical for King’s work, his very suggestive, psychological way of getting you to the edge of your seat and holding your breath.

This is horror, but intelligent horror. It helps you create your own picture in your head and guess at what’s going to happen and then it takes that idea and twists it around.

I am happy to say that I have not watched the movie before I read the book. Once I finished the book I excitedly put the film on wondering how the special effects needed for the story would have been done in 1980. And I was disappointed and bored. None of the back story filtered into the script and details that really helped characters in the book develop into who there really were, were changed (for example Jack’s meeting with the Hotel Manager Ullman – in the book they clearly can’t stand each other, whereas in the film they are best pals). I felt that the movie was purely based on the scare factor of good old fashioned suspense music and dark things waiting around the corner. Also both Danny and Wendy were made to look quite dumb, which is the opposite of how they are portrayed in the book.

So my advice is that even if you have already seen the film, please read the book. You might have loved the film already, but I can guarantee that the book will blow your mind.


My rating: 5/5

Friday, 28 July 2017

Shattered Minds by Laura Lam

Synopsis:

She can uncover the truth, if she defeats her demons

Ex-neuroscientist Carina struggles with a drug problem, her conscience, and urges to kill. She satisfies her cravings in dreams, fuelled by the addictive drug ‘Zeal’. Now she’s heading for self-destruction – until she has a vision of a dead girl.

Sudice Inc. damaged Carina when she worked on their sinister brain-mapping project, causing her violent compulsions. And this girl was a similar experiment. When Carina realizes the vision was planted by her old colleague Mark, desperate for help to expose the company, she knows he’s probably dead. Her only hope is to unmask her nemesis – or she’s next.

To unlock the secrets Mark hid in her mind, she’ll need a group of specialist hackers. Dax is one of them, a doctor who can help Carina fight her addictions. If she holds on to her humanity, they might even have a future together. But first she must destroy her adversary – before it changes us and our society, forever. 

My review:

This is my first dip into the world of Pacifica, brain implants, brainloading etc. and what an introduction this is.

Shattered Minds continues in the world of Pacifica where I believe Laura’s novel False Hearts is based, but this is a standalone novel and I had no trouble getting accustomed to this science fiction world or technology that really is quite realistic when we think of the progress we are making in this field.

Fabulous novel that is fast paced with great characters and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end. I couldn’t ask for more.

Three characters I loved the most:
  • Carina – messed up, with lots of issues and made to face her past, present and future by going after the company that has altered her mind and therefore set her on a dangerous path of self-destruction.
  • Roz – the ruthless neuro-scientist responsible for unethical human trials she uses to reach her goal of altering people’s minds and she is also Carina’s arch-enemy.
  • Dax – member of the Trust, a group of hackers fighting for justice and the ultimate fall of Sudice, the company behind the Roz’s trials.

I very much enjoyed the relationships between Carina and Roz, especially as Carina starts accessing her supressed memories and we read the flashbacks into hers and Roz’s past. Dax is the first person in Carina’s life that manages to get close to her and helps her wake up from the nightmare of Zeal addiction she has let herself to enter through a belief that she is an evil, murderous individual.

I’ve said this about most of the books I have read lately, but this is another cracker and I loved it. Different genre for me to try and realise I really enjoy. This book has introduced me to Laura Lam and I will be seeking out her other novels.

Thank you to the author and TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Website: www.lauralam.co.uk

Available to purchase from:

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey

Synopsis and author’s note:

From the author of the critically acclaimed The Mermaids Singing comes a haunting, luminous novel set on an enchanted island off the west coast of Ireland where magic, faith, and superstition pervade the inhabitants’ lives and tangled relationships—perfect for fans of Eowyn Ivey, Sarah Waters, and Angela Carter.

May 1959. From one side of St. Brigid’s Island, the mountains of Connemara can be glimpsed on the distant mainland; from the other, the Atlantic stretches as far as the eye can see. This remote settlement, without electricity or even a harbor, has scarcely altered since its namesake saint set up a convent of stone huts centuries ago. Those who live there, including sisters Rose and Emer, are hardy and resourceful, dependent on the sea and each other for survival. Despite the island’s natural beauty, it is a place that people move away from, not to—until an outspoken American, also named Brigid, arrives to claim her late uncle’s cottage.

Brigid has come for more than an inheritance. She’s seeking a secret holy well that’s rumoured to grant miracles. Emer, as scarred and wary as Rose is friendly and beautiful, has good reason to believe in inexplicable powers. Despite her own strange abilities—or perhaps because of them—Emer fears that she won’t be able to save her young son, Niall, from a growing threat. Yet Brigid has a gift too, even more remarkable than Emer’s. As months pass and Brigid carves out a place on the island and in the sisters’ lives, a complicated web of betrayal, fear, and desire culminates in one shocking night that will change the island, and its inhabitants, forever.

Steeped in Irish history and lore, The Stolen Child is a mesmerizing descent into old world beliefs, and a captivating exploration of desire, myth, motherhood, and love in all its forms

My review:

There a handful of books that leave scars on your soul and re surface once in a while so you never forget them. This is most definitely one of them.

Let’s start with the cover on this one. Amazing – I fell in love with the cover and didn’t really care about the blurb. But after reading that as well I was sold on this book. It was intriguing and didn’t really give that much away.

And oh my, I was in for a treat.

I can only describe this novel as beautiful. Set on a Irish island of St Brigid’s, the story follow one of the island women called Emer, twin to the more beautiful and popular Rose, and a newcomer Brigid, whose arrival will change the island in ways people could not imagine.

I don’t like to give the story away, so I would just say that I loved how the relationship between Emer and Brigid developed. Emer was so quietly desperate for her own friend and Brigid so desperate for the one thing she always wanted and never got. Their loneliness and despair brings them together and rip apart everything they believed in.

The island life was so stunningly portrayed I could just imagine the scenery when the women were walking the hills or having a picnic. The idea of fairies and changelings, superstition and healing magic is so well incorporated into the whole story and makes it that much more special.

Thank you to the author and TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Website: www.lisacareybooks.com

Available to purchase from:

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Child of Clay (Those Who Are Awake #1) by Fiona Skye

Synopsis and author’s note:

Abandoned at birth on the steps of a Catholic orphanage, Jerrilyn Seton spent most of her childhood learning about the saints and angels, serving Jesus, and suffering the sisters' tough discipline, until they, too, abandoned her. Despite this, she still relies on her faith to help her with her work as a ghost hunter. But not once has she ever received an answer to her prayers.

Until now.

Now Jerrilyn hears whispers in the dark, a strange voice that hints at hidden knowledge about her origins and the fate of the world. How are they connected? What will she sacrifice to become one of Those Who Are Awake?

My review:

Oh my goodness, where do I start. I loved it. And I need more.

This is the perfect book for lovers of supernatural, with gripping scenes, angels, demons and ghost and a couple of ghost/demon hunters with just the right amount of attraction to keep them going but not overtake the story.

Both main characters are very likable and most readers will be able to associate with them. Jerrilyn is a strong individual, roaming the United States, helping lost souls to cross over. What she doesn’t realise until she meets Travis, is that there is much more to her gift that she ever expected.

Travis opens a whole new world for Jerri, world that frightens her (well demons are scary), but at the same time invites her to finally find out more about her own roots and what really is the reason that she was put on this earth.

Fabulous book – I cannot praise it enough and I hope that the second installment isn’t going to take too long.

Thank you to the author and TBConFB for access to this book in return for this honest review.

My rating: 5/5

Author’s Website: www.fiona-skye.com

Available to purchase from: