Blog Tour: The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

Blog Tour: The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Constable
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

A terrifying novel set in Czechoslovakia in 1935, in which a brilliant young psychiatrist takes his new post at an asylum for the criminally insane that houses only six inmates–the country’s most depraved murderers–while, in Prague, a detective struggles to understand a brutal serial killer who has spread fear through the city, and who may have ties to the asylum 

In 1935, Viktor Kosarek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth.

Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum.
Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

Review

“I will return,” the voice hissed in Viktor’s ear. “I will return and show you the truth and you will be blinded by it. I will show you such horror and fear that you will be burned by its beauty and its clarity.”book cover - 2019-04-19T094103.467

This is my first time reading a book by Craig Russell and I can tell you right away that it definitely won’t be my last. The Devil Aspect follows a young and ambitious psychiatrist named Viktor Kosarek who begins work at an institute for the most criminally insane people of Czechoslovakia. Victor is determined to prove that the six murderers housed here are evidence of the devil aspect. Also occurring in the story is a serial killer loose in Prague, striking fear into the cities residents. As police investigator Lukas Smolak attempts to uncover who’s behind the murders, he discovers there may be a connection to the inmates of the infamous asylum.

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. This story is so tense and gripping, it will definitely have you reading long past bedtime. The story kept me guessing at every turn and I really enjoyed the two different story arcs and the way that they weaved together. I really liked the characters, they were well developed and Viktor and Lukas made for really fascinating protagonists. The story blended murder mystery with supernatural horror incredibly well and the whole way through I was questioning what was real and what wasn’t.

The story in this book is really superb but thing that really made this a five star read for me was the atmosphere. It was so dark and chilling, it made me feel like I was right there in the story. Russell really brings to life this dark and creepy asylum and the freezing foggy streets of Prague. This Gothic horror tale is an addictive roller coaster ride that doesn’t let you off till the very last page. If you’re looking for a new favourite read, I can’t recommend this enough.
5 stars
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Book Review: House of Spines – Michael J. Malone

Book Review: House of Spines – Michael J. Malone

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Release Date:
August 16th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Pages: 276
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Review

book cover - 2019-04-16T062926.078What a wonderful creepy psychological thriller this book is! This book was another one of those sitting in the same spot for hours on end because I just couldn’t seem to put it down. This book is a fantastic Gothic novel that on several occasions definitely had me looking over my shoulder. It was a gripping read from start to finish, and it constantly kept me guessing (and terrified.)

One of the things I loved about this book is the setting. Newton Hall is this vast old mansion, exploring this big empty house that seems to be full to the brim with secrets. I also love that the book is set in Glasgow, as I grew up just outside there and it’s nice to read books set in a familiar place. The book is well paced, and as the story continues on, that tense feeling of unease definitely racks up more and more. The family history is also plotted really carefully and makes the book feel all the more realistic for the preciseness of the history and knowledge of the characters.

It reminded me a lot of the old Gothic novels I studied at University, with Ran as the unreliable narrator. Is it real or is he imagining it? The writing is really superb, and I definitely have plenty of vivid images in my head while I read House of Spines. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I am now very eager to read some of his other works too.

House of Spines really is a fantastic read. It keeps you hooked from the get go, and definitely makes you question what you know is real. The detail in the book is beautiful and I am going to be recommending this book to everyone I know.
5 stars

Blog Tour: Sleep – C. L. Taylor

Blog Tour: Sleep – C. L. Taylor

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-04-09T230402.137.pngRelease Date: April 4th 2019
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Review

book cover - 2019-03-24T181054.124I have only read a couple of books by C. L. Taylor but she is fast becoming my absolute favourite thriller writer. I read The Fear and thought it couldn’t possibly be topped but I was absolutely wrong. Sleep is dark, twisty and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. I ended up reading the last hundred pages in the wee hours of the morning because I just had to know how it was going to end. I am officially blaming this book for causing sleepless nights.

After a tragic accident Anna takes a job at a hotel on the island of Rum – an incredibly remote place in the Scottish highlands. Soon after starting some guests start to arrive and her safe haven becomes a nightmare. All the guests have something going on under the surface but one in particular has come to the hotel with a particular mission in mind: to murder Anna.

C. L. Taylor has this way of writing such fascinating and life like characters. I really felt like Anna was real and she was a really interesting protagonist to follow. Sleep is incredibly fast paced and I honestly had no idea what was going to happen from one moment to the next. Taylor always seems to bring something completely new to the thriller genre.

One of the things I particularly loved most about this book was the setting. I’ve never been to Rum but in this novel it is portrayed as an incredibly remote and barren landscape, giving the entire novel a tense and claustrophobic feel. The story was well executed with plenty of moments I didn’t see coming.

If you love psychological thrillers or you’ve read some of C. L. Taylor’s other books this is definitely not to be missed and I’m definitely already calling this as my favourite thriller of the year.
5 stars
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Blog Tour: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

Blog Tour: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

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Series:
Strange the Dreamer #2
Release Date: April 4th 2019
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 528
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice–save the woman he loves, or everyone else?–while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Timesbestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-02T135442.190Strange the Dreamer was one of my favourite books of 2017, it completely sucked me in and so I went into Muse of Nightmares with the highest of expectations. I’m so happy to report that it was even better than I could have imagined. If you haven’t picked up this beautiful duology yet, now is definitely the time.

Muse of Nightmares picks up after Strange the Dreamer left off, taking us back to the characters we fell in love with in the first book. It was great to see them continue to develop and expand and I loved seeing how much they’d changed since the beginning of Strange the Dreamer. Muse of Nightmares also introduces us to some new characters – two sisters named Kora and Nova. I completely adored their story and was completely captivated in seeing how their story connected with that of Lazlo and Sarai. Laini Taylor writes these complex and multi-layered characters that are just a pleasure to read about – Lazlo Strange will forever be one of my favourite characters of all time.

Previous to this duology I had never read anything by Laini Taylor but I completely fell in love with her writing style in these books. It’s so beautiful and really brings everything to life that you cannot help but sink into this rich and magical world. The world building is excellent and it is put to good use in this book, giving us more back story and history of the gods. Muse of Nightmares delivers a fast and exciting plot and I was on the edge of my seat more than a few times. I think the story ended perfectly it was full of excitement and heartbreak and everything I hoped for. I for one am so excited to see what Laini Taylor is going to bring out next.

5 stars
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Book Review: One Word Kill – Mark Lawrence

Book Review: One Word Kill – Mark Lawrence

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-03-21T213135.133.pngSeries: Impossible Times #1
Release Date: May 1st 2019
Publisher: 47North
Pages: 260
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this via Netgalley
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-01T143051.847Mark Lawrence has once again made me completely fall in love with a wonderful cast of characters and an intensely gripping story. One Word Kill follows Nick – a mathematical genius who learns he’s dying of cancer. Nick and his friends play Dungeons and Dragons to escape this harsh reality but when a strange man begins following Nick and brings him some dire warnings, the gang’s real life becomes crazier than they ever thought possible.

This book is a wild ride. From the very first chapter I could feel myself getting absorbed in this story and I really grew attached to Nick, Mia and the gang. The characters are so well described and I loved watching the different dynamics as they interacted with each other and I really liked seeing how things changed with the introduction of Mia to the group. Lawrence seamlessly weaves science fiction elements with worries about being able to dance at parties and it made for a really fascinating story.

The story is full of plot twists and I definitely didn’t see some of them coming. One Word Kill is multi-layered, dealing not only with Nick’s cancer treatment and the mysterious stranger, but also a dash of romance and the secrets of Mia’s past. I felt like each part of the story blended incredibly well making for a fast paced and incredibly gripping plot.

Mark Lawrence is one of my favourite authors and One Word Kill definitely wasn’t a disappointment. The story flows so well that I found myself sitting down to read a few pages and still sitting a long time later because I just had to find out what was going to happen next. Compared with some of Lawrence’s other books this one is on the shorter side and it has definitely left me itching for more in this series. If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, time travel and a rag tag bunch of kids trying to save the world, One Word Kill should definitely be next on your purchase list.
5 stars

Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehanat Khan

Book Review: The Bloodprint – Ausma Zehanat Khan

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Series:
The Khorasan Archives #1
Release Date: October 19th 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis

Celebrated crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan takes her first foray into fantasy with this stunning new quadrilogy which sees female scholar and warrior Arian risk everything in a totalitarian society to reclaim the legacy of her people.

In the lands of Candour, the Talisman threaten the authority of the Council with their growing indoctrination of the masses based on their rigid, oppressive interpretation of the Claim; a text orally transmitted from generation to generation, which they have appropriated in order to gain power. Tasked by the Council to fight this is Arian, aided by companion Sinnia and young boy Wafa, who must find the Bloodprint, legendary manuscript the Claim is based on, in order to stop the Talisman and re-establish the truth.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-10T231702.583The Bloodprint is the first in a new series by crime author Ausma Zehanat Khan. I confess I’ve always wanted to read The Unquiet Dead and haven’t quiet gotten around to buying a copy (that has since been rectified). Going into The Bloodprint I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but from the get go I was absolutely hooked, and I loved this book from beginning to end.

This book is steeped in blood and action – there is plenty of fast-paced plot to keep the fantasy fan happy, but The Bloodprint is so much more than that. With women living in a male dominated world – they are treated like slaves and not allowed to speak unless permitted by their husbands – is in many ways relevant to today’s media.

One of things I did love most about this book was the immense detail that Ausma put in. The book is very finely crafted, with the history and mythology really bringing the book to life. I’d love to spend an hour picking Ausma’s brain to find out where all these fascinating ideas came from. Her research must have taken a really long time to complete, and it really adds to this excellent story. The Claim is similarly a really fascinating aspect of this book. A magic that celebrates the written word is not something that I’ve come across before, and I really loved this unique concept.

Characters can make or break a book, and The Bloodprint is no exception. Our two main characters Arian and Sinnia are fabulous. Warrior women fighting to break slave trains and save the land from Talisman rule, their sense of companionship and friendship is a wonderful aspect of this book. I also similarly loved Wafa, the young child that Arian and Sinnia rescue. There is also a romantic element of the book (which I won’t say too much about so as not to ruin anything) but it is not in your face, and adds to the story without taking over.

There;s also plenty of mystery, and the reader is left with more than a few questions (I needed book two yesterday). There’s also a few shock twists a long the way, and not everything is as it seems. It really strikes home that in a world fraught with danger, who can you really trust? Each person is often out to further their own gains. I must also say that the cover design is gorgeous, my proof copy is beautiful but I cannot wait to go and buy a finished one for my favourites shelf. This is a truly superb read, and definitely sits in the top of my favourite books ever.
5 stars

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

Book Review: The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

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Release Date:
March 6th 2018
Publisher: Raven Books
Pages: 305
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at my local Waterstones.
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect–much like the silent companions themselves.

Review

Untitled design (17)This book has instantly become one of my favourite books ever. Dark, unsettling and beautifully descriptive, it will keep you up late on these cold winter nights. Elsie is grieving for the unexpected death of her new husband when she moves into his old country estate, but not everyone welcomes her arrival. The Bridge is full of secrets and servants who do not like her, not to mention something more sinister that hides behind locked doors.

This book genuinely gave me the fear. I love ghost stories and horror novels, but I find it pretty rare to be actually frightened by them. Throughout The Silent Companions I felt that pervading sense of unease, The story is wonderfully written and keeps you gripped right from the start – I couldn’t put it down even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what happened next.

I loved the characters too. They were so well written – complex characters who all held their own motivations – and often weren’t quite what they seemed on the surface. The story is told in several different narratives – Elsie in a hospital as she recovers from the traumatic events at The Bridge, Elsie as she relives her experiences with the silent companions as well as a diary from Anne Bainbridge, an old ancestor who lived at the estate 200 years before. I loved the different narratives as the were so multi-layered and each had their own exciting story line that I wanted to hear more from. When you have multiple points of view you tend to prefer one over the other, but I was completely engrossed in both Elsie and Anne’s story.

This book is atmospheric, chilling and will definitely send a shiver up your spine. What more could you want from a Gothic ghost story? If you love books by the likes of Shirley Jackson then The Silent Companions will make for perfect reading.
5 stars