Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

Blog Tour: A House of Ghosts – W. C. Ryan

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-20T135404.289
Release Date:
October 4th 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 419
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Winter 1917. As the First World War enters its most brutal phase, back home in England, everyone is seeking answers to the darkness that has seeped into their lives.
At Blackwater Abbey, on an island off the Devon coast, Lord Highmount has arranged a spiritualist gathering to contact his two sons who were lost in the conflict. But as his guests begin to arrive, it gradually becomes clear that each has something they would rather keep hidden. Then, when a storm descends on the island, the guests will find themselves trapped. Soon one of their number will die.
For Blackwater Abbey is haunted in more ways than one . . .
An unrelentingly gripping mystery packed with twists and turns, A House of Ghosts is the perfect chilling read next winter.

Review

As we get to the last few months of the year I find myself reaching more and more for dark and chilling reads that will have me on the edge of my seat. I had pretty high expectations going into this one, I had heard lots of brilliant buzz and hype around it, and I’m so happy to say it delivered. Chilling, mysterious and featuring a brilliant setting.

The story is set in a remote, isolated house on an island off the Devon coast. I completely fell in love with this setting, it was the perfect place to make attempts to contact the dead, and it definitely helped to heighten the tension as we try to figure out the secrets surrounding the guests. I really liked the characters too, we are given two POVs in this story and I really enjoyed both Donovan and Kate’s perspectives as they tried to uncover the mysteries in Blackwater Abbey.

The story is full of plot twists and plenty of surprise moments to keep you hooked. I really enjoyed Ryan’s writing style, and felt the pacing was just perfect to give you that chill up your spine. I also really enjoyed the Wartime setting of this book, it’s not something I read often and loved that extra layer it brought to the story. If you’re looking for something eerie and dark with a real claustrophobic feel, this should definitely be on your wish list.  A House of Ghosts is perfect Halloween reading, and I can’t wait to try more from this author.
4 stars

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Spookathon TBR!

Spookathon TBR!

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Things have been pretty busy at the moment and I haven’t been posted (or reading) as much as I’d like, but I’m hoping a Halloween themed readathon will be just the thing to get my reading back on track. I’m going to participate in Spookathon, the readathon run by BooksandLala, running 14th-20th of October. My TBR is going to be these beautiful books:

Read a thriller: Final Girls – Riley Sager
Copy of book cover (75)Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
 
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Read something with red on the cover: This Lie Will Kill You – Chelsea Pitcher
Copy of book cover (76)Tell the truth. Or face the consequences.

Clue meets Riverdale in this page-turning thriller that exposes the lies five teens tell about a deadly night one year ago.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

Now, they realize they’ve been lured together by a person bent on revenge, a person who will stop at nothing to uncover what actually happened on that deadly night, one year ago.

Five arrived, but not all can leave. Will the truth set them free?
Or will their lies destroy them all?

Read something with a spooky word in the title: The Witch of Willow Hall – Hester Fox
Copy of book cover (77)Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall. The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

Read something set in a spooky location: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank
Copy of book cover (78)Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917
 
Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

In the classic tradition of The Woman in Black, Anita Frank weaves a spell-binding debut of family tragedy, loss and redemption.

Read something you wouldn’t normally read: Unexplained – Richard Maclean Smith
Copy of book cover (79)Based on the ‘world’s spookiest podcast’ of the same name comes Unexplained: a book of ten real-life mysteries which might be best left unexplained. . .

Demonic possession in 1970’s Germany.

UFOs in Rendlesham forest.

Reincarnation in Middlesbrough.

To this day, these real life mysteries and very many more evade explanation.

Based on one of the most successful paranormal podcasts ever, with over 10 million streams and downloads to date, Unexplained consists of ten chapters focussing on a different paranormal event, from Australia to Germany, the UK to Zimbabwe, using the stories as gateways to a journey beyond the veil of the uncanny, exploring what they reveal of the human experience.

Taking ideas once thought of as supernatural or paranormal and questioning whether radical ideas in science might provide a new but equally extraordinary explanation, Unexplained is The Examined Life meets The X Files.

So those are the books I’m hoping to tackle for Spookathon! If you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you thought, and if you’re participating, definitely let me know what you’re planning to read!

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

Blog Tour: Angel Mage – Garth Nix

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-10-07T205208.620
Release Date:
October 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 560
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

More than a century has passed since Liliath crept into the empty sarcophagus of Saint Marguerite, fleeing the Fall of Ystara. But she emerges from her magical sleep still beautiful, looking no more than nineteen, and once again renews her single-minded quest to be united with her lover, Palleniel, the archangel of Ystara.

A seemingly impossible quest, but Liliath is one of the greatest practitioners of angelic magic to have ever lived, summoning angels and forcing them to do her bidding.

Liliath knew that most of the inhabitants of Ystara died from the Ash Blood plague or were transformed into beastlings, and she herself led the survivors who fled into neighboring Sarance. Now she learns that angels shun the Ystaran’s descendants. If they are touched by angelic magic, their blood will turn to ash. They are known as Refusers, and can only live the most lowly lives.

But Liliath cares nothing for the descendants of her people, save how they can serve her. It is four young Sarancians who hold her interest: Simeon, a studious doctor-in-training; Henri, a dedicated fortune hunter; Agnez, an adventurous musketeer cadet; and Dorotea, an icon-maker and scholar of angelic magic. They are the key to her quest.

The four feel a strange kinship from the moment they meet, but do not know why, or suspect their importance. All become pawns in Liliath’s grand scheme to fulfill her destiny and be united with the love of her life. No matter the cost to everyone else. . .

Review

Copy of book cover (63)To say that Angel Mage was one of my most anticipated books of the year is probably an understatement. Garth Nix has been one of my favourite authors since I was a child, and I absolutely credit him with being the reason I love fantasy books so much. So many of his books – Shade’s Children, Sabriel, A Confusion of Princes –  are some of my all time favourites so going into Angel Mage I had the highest of expectations. The story captivated me from the very first page, and I am already considering when I can make time to reread this stunning book.

Like all of Garth Nix’s books, the world building is excellently plotted, allowing you to completely fall into this story of angels and magic.  The magic system felt really unique, I don’t think I’ve ever come across it before and it was a breath of fresh air. The story is quite a slow burn, it’s a big tome and it really gives you the chance to get to know the world and the brilliantly fleshed out characters. Nix has stated that this is a standalone at this stage, but I would honestly love to read more from this world and the characters.

Angel Mage has plenty of action scenes to keep you hooked in and gorgeous writing that I honestly just could not get enough of. Each sentence seems to leap off the page with vivid descriptions of characters and their setting. It features a brilliant cast of characters, each who brings a really interesting perspective to the table. I really liked Simeon and Henri the most, but honestly I thought all the characters were brilliant.

If you love epic fantasy stories with Three Musketeers vibes, you definitely need to pick up Angel Mage now. I for one am now going to start rereading Garth Nix’s back catalogue while I wait for his next book!
5 stars
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Blog Tour: The Black Hawks – David Wragg

Blog Tour: The Black Hawks – David Wragg

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Synopsis

Copy of book cover (74)Dark, thrilling, and hilarious, The Black Hawks is an epic adventure perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch.

Life as a knight is not what Vedren Chel imagined. Bound by oath to a dead-end job in the service of a lazy step-uncle, Chel no longer dreams of glory – he dreams of going home.

When invaders throw the kingdom into turmoil, Chel finds opportunity in the chaos: if he escorts a stranded prince to safety, Chel will be released from his oath.

All he has to do is drag the brat from one side of the country to the other, through war and wilderness, chased all the way by ruthless assassins.

With killers on your trail, you need killers watching your back. You need the Black Hawk Company – mercenaries, fighters without equal, a squabbling, scrapping pack of rogues.

Prepare to join the Black Hawks.

Q&A

 1. For those that haven’t checked out The Black Hawks yet, how would you sum it up?

Hi! The Black Hawks is a work of (extremely) low fantasy, about a young man who falls in with a feeble prince and a dysfunctional mercenary company, and tries to save the kingdom in his own inept but well-intentioned fashion. It has intrigue, shocks, ambushes, wolves, weather and a whole lot of furious swearing.

2. What was your inspiration for book?

The story is both a misty-eyed love-letter and a contrarian take on the kind of fantasy I grew up reading. It’s firmly quest fantasy with a journey (both geographical and emotional) at its heart, but also a reaction to all the things I found wearing or just a bit naff about Classic Fantasy Works – the main character has no particular skills or knowledge, he’s just a young fellow with some ideals, and most of the characters in the world are just trying to get by.

3. What drew you to writing fantasy books?

I adore genre fiction, and my early life was steeped in all things fantastic and science-fictional. I grew up on SFF books, pen & paper RPGS, board games and video games (I dread to think how many hours I’ve sunk into computer RPGs over the last decade alone), and I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. Second-world fantasy in particular is fascinating as a way to explore themes and ideas – the other side of the coin from SF in that regard – but sometimes you just want to put characters in ridiculous situations and enjoy what happens next.

4. What was the writing process like for the book? Did you map everything out or just let it flow?

I wrote the first draft in 2015, when I was young and full of hope, based on an idea that had been kicking around for at least 5 years before that (I wrote some other stuff in-between as practice). I mapped out what I thought would be a quick-ish outline, spent several months reading research (13th Century Georgia and northern Turkey, for reference) and drawing up maps and family trees, then went for it. It took about 9 months, and stuck *more-or-less* to the outline. Then after a quick hiatus to have another child, I started planning the sequel.

5. What have you found hardest about writing The Black Hawks?

The opening. One problem with having an idea in your head for a long time is that it becomes part of your narrative bedrock, never to be questioned, and the rest of your work builds up from there. This can make it a real challenge when you realise that the weakest ideas are the earliest ones, and they could do with tweaking or replacing, because you’ve built a ridiculous narrative house of cards on top of it and the slightest change will bring the entire plot crashing down. I hope I’ve learned something from the process!

6. What are you working on next?

Black Hawks 2 is now with my editor, and I’m currently working on a standalone follow-up in the same world, set a while after the events of the second book. It’s set in the wild, untamed plains to the far north, and is a sort of fantasy western: think True Grit meets Terminator 2, with a bit of Fury Road thrown in, but with swords.

7. Finally can you recommend a good book you’ve read recently?

A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Somatar. It’s both a ghost story and an adventure, with spectacular, lyrical prose and an abiding respect for the power of the written word at its core, and about the closest thing to a literary hallucination I’ve experienced.

Massive thank you to David for answering my questions – The Black Hawks is publishing today from HarperVoyager.
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Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-29T221550.008Series: S.T.A.G.S #1
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 303
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

Review

Copy of book cover (73)This was such a fun and enjoyable read. I read it over the course of two days, and the mystery kept me wanting more the whole way through. S.T.A.G.S is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and takes a common theme – being an outsider – and turns it into a whole new ballgame.

I really loved the characters in this book. Greer’s Dad is a nature film maker, so the two watch a lot of movies, and I really liked the way she continually referenced films in order to explain her point. I also really liked Nel and Shafeen, Greer’s only real companions. I also found it really interesting the way the Medievals are like carbon copies of each other, M.A. Bennett did a fantastic job of bringing out everyone’s high school nightmare with this group.

The setting for S.T.A.G.S is a really beautiful one, and one that definitely came alive in the story. It certainly is huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ village, with lots of mountains and lakes. The setting in the heart of the Lake District really is a fantastic backdrop for this story.

S.T.A.G.S is certainly a twisty and turn-y thriller. As Greer and her friends attempt to figure out what on earth is going on, there are several things you’ll totally see coming, but also more than a few that you’ll be completely a taken back by (I know I was). I love a story that can keep me guessing, and this exciting YA mystery, definitely ticks that box. S.T.A.G.S would also make one hell of a movie/television series, so I’m definitely going to be keeping my fingers crossed for that. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining mystery, S.T.A.G.S is a must read for sure.
4 stars

Blog Tour: A Little Hatred – Joe Abercrombie

Blog Tour: A Little Hatred – Joe Abercrombie

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Series:
The Age of Madness #1
Release Date: September 17th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 471
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent a copy of this book for review.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…

Review

Copy of book cover (72)Joe Abercrombie is one of my all time favourite authors so I was incredibly excited when I heard that A Little Hatred was going to take us back into the world of The First Law. It’s always a bit nerve wracking when a favourite author brings out a new book. My expectations for this book were really high and I’m so happy to say it delivered in every possible way. Dark, bloody and full of bleak humour, this is a terrific start to a new series.

A Little Hatred is the first in an all new series so if you haven’t read Abercrombie’s other books you can totally pick this up and enjoy it as a fun and fast paced fantasy tale, however to really get the full effect of this you should definitely check out his other books in this world. We follow all new characters, some of whom are related to characters from previous books. The story is set many years after the events of Red Country, and the industrial revolution has taken place, bringing with it a new age of machines, trade and politics.

The story is complex and multi-layered, featuring several different POVS. Joe Abercrombie has a talent for writing really well fleshed out and vivid characters, and that is definitely true in A Little Hatred. Although there are quite a lot of character perspectives (seven in total), each is incredibly distinctive and brings something new and fresh to the story. I enjoyed them all, but Rikke and Savine were my favourites.

A Little Hatred brings plenty of bloody, gory moments and is full to the brim with revenge, betrayal and political intrigue. It’s a phenomenal start to a new series and I for one am already itching for the next instalment.

5 stars
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Blog Tour: The Tenth Girl – Sara Faring

Blog Tour: The Tenth Girl – Sara Faring

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-23T134852.016
Release Date:
September 24th
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 464
Find it On: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent an E-ARC of this via Netgalley from FFBC
Rating: 3.75/5 stars

Synopsis

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Review

Copy of book cover (71)This is the kind of book that will have completely divide opinions – some are going to absolutely adore it, and others will struggle. I found it a really intense, twisty read with so many shock surprises that I didn’t see coming.

The story follows a young girl called Mavi as she escapes the strictness of her home life to be a teacher at an elite Argentinean boarding school. When she arrives at the school she attempts to cope with the strange goings on, with people going missing, students and teachers acting in strange ways and rumours of the mysterious others. Mavi has to find the secrets hiding in the school and stay alive in the process.

I must admit that the blurb and the gorgeous creepy cover really lured me into this book. It has a fantastic gothic setting that I completely fell in love with as well as some brilliantly complex characters. Mavi was an excellent protagonist and I really liked her.

The best thing about this book is definitely the atmosphere. I’m a big fan of horror novels and this definitely has some really spine tingling moments, and I felt really uneasy reading some of the more intense scenes. It’s a brilliant piece of writing that will absolutely have readers on the edge of their seats. I really enjoyed Sara Faring’s writing style and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.

The story is quite quick paced, with plenty happened to keep you coming back for more. I did feel like some of the twists were in there just to shock you, and didn’t add all that much to the story line. I did really enjoy the Argentinian myths element of the story. It was creepy and fascinating and something that I had never read about before.

If you’re looking for an intense and addictive read that is absolutely perfect for Halloween/Autumn, you should definitely pick this one up. A dark and chilling Gothic thriller, with beautiful writing and an excellent setting.
4 stars