Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: Tunnel of Bones – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #2 (See my review of book one here!)
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Review

tunnelI absolutely fell in love with Cassidy and her ghost best friend when I read City of Ghosts last year. A spooky tale set in Edinburgh, I was so eager for more. Tunnel of Bones was definitely high on my most anticipated releases list, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting.

We’re back following Cassidy as she goes with her parents to film a new episode of The Inspecters, and this time they’re in Paris. They visit all the iconic places, heading up the Eiffel Tower and descending into the eerie Catacombs. As she explores Cassidy awakens a spirit much stronger than those she’s faced before. Hellbent on all kinds of mischief and mayhem, Cass and Jacob have to find a way to send him back before he ends up haunting Paris forever.

This story is so fun, it’s a wonderful spooky read and it’s absolutely perfect to cuddle up with on a dark autumn night. It has plenty of spine tingling moments, and I loved seeing the dark and eerie spin that Schwab puts on those infamous landmarks. The setting is fascinating and really comes alive in the story (I honestly can’t wait to see where Cass and the gang jet off to next!)

Tunnel of Bones also features a bit more character development, we learn more about best friend Jacob, and Cassidy starts exploring her powers as a ghost hunter. I enjoyed seeing plenty of familiar faces from book one as well as the introduction of some new characters, I particularly liked little Adele.

If you’re a fan of Victoria Schwab or you’re read the first book in the series, you’re going to absolutely love this one. If you haven’t had a chance to pick the first instalment up yet, these will make perfect Halloween binge reads.
5 stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Here There Are Monsters – Amelinda Berube

Waiting on Wednesday: Here There Are Monsters – Amelinda Berube

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Synopsis

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Thoughts

Copy of book coverThis waiting on Wednesday I thought I would talk about Here There Are Monsters, which really caught my eye recently and I’m so excited to pick it up! The cover really caught my eye and when I saw the comparison to The Blair Witch project I was pretty much sold. It sounds like a really fascinating story about sisterhood and I love a good horror novel. I haven’t read anything by this author but she also has another book called The Death Beneath the Ice that also sounds really intriguing, so I might pick that up to get a feel for her writing. I’ve seen some kind of mixed reviews for Here There Are Monsters already, some saying they were kind of disappointed with it but I’m excited to give the book a go and find out for myself if it’s worth the wait. Here There Are Monsters is publishing August 1st 2019 from Sourcebooks Fire.

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: Dracula: Rise of the Beast – David Thomas Moore

Book Review: Dracula: Rise of the Beast – David Thomas Moore

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Release Date:
March 13th 2018
Publisher: Abaddon Books
Pages: 304
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

An anthology of stories exploring the secret history of the world’s most iconic monster

That the cruel, ambitious monster of Bram Stoker’s most famous novel was once Vlad III Dracula, Voivode of Wallachia – the Impaler, to his enemies – is known. A warleader in a warlike time: brilliant, charismatic, pious, ferociously devoted to his country. But what came of him? What drove him to become a creature of darkness – an Un-Dead – and what use did he make of this power, through the centuries before his downfall?

Decades after the monster’s death, Jonathan and Mina Harker’s son Quincey pieces together the story: dusty old manuscripts, court reports from the Holy Roman Empire at its height, oral traditions among the Szgany Roma people who once served the monster.

Review

Dracula by Bram Stoker is one of my all time favourite books and I love reading different versions of the stories around Vlad the Impaler. This book is an anthology of stories about the famous Vlad Dracula, written by five different science fiction/fantasy writers. I enjoyed this so much as each story was from a different time period, giving a different perspective and a different side to the infamous vampire.

book cover (52)Surrounding the stories are a series of emails between Dani, the person trying to piece together the story and Quincey Harker, son of Jonathan and Mina from the original story. I thought this was an excellent touch and really brought the five stories together. While there’s only five stories in the book, I read through them pretty slowly, taking my time to really enjoy the different ideas.

I’m not going to go into each story but many of them are told as though from letters and extracts from diaries. I really enjoyed this way of telling the stories, making it seem like Quincey and Dani have uncovered secrets from history. The stories differ in topic and theme, dealing with war, families, friendships and even a bit of romance. The stories were all well written and paced excellently, making this a really fantastic read.

I enjoyed each of the stories in their own right, but there were two in particular that really stuck out for me. First Nobelesse Oblige, which was the story of Dracula’s encounters with the infamous Countess Erzsébet Bathory. I thought she was a fascinating character, strong and determined to fight against Dracula. I also really enjoyed Children of the Night which is written as a long letter recounting the events that leads to Dracula falling in love with a mysterious young woman who is not all that she seems.

If you’re a fan of Dracula this is a must read. If you love anthologies and short stories with a bit of twist, you’ll absolutely love this.
4 stars

Recommended Reads: Halloween!

Recommended Reads: Halloween!

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Today I thought I would try something different and give a list of recommendations for the perfect books to read at Halloween. I’m going to try and do these more often, so I might do seasonal ones and holiday ones too.

Untitled design (17)1. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell
This is without a doubt one of the scariest books I have ever read. The story follows Elsie, a young widow who has moved into her later husband’s stately manor home in the country. Without only her husband’s cousin for company she explore the house and finds a painted wooden figure – a silent companion. She feels the eyes of the painting constantly following her and with the help of an ancestral journal she finds out that the companion is a lot more than it seems. This book was dark, Gothic and terrifying, it’s definitely the perfect choice for Halloween reading.
Also Try: The Corset – Laura Purcell: Laura’s newest creepy Victorian tale. 

Untitled design (5)2. The Wicked Deep – Shea Earnshaw
This story follows the cursed town of Sparrow, in which 200 years ago three sisters were drowned because the town believed they were witches. Now each year the sisters return to possess bodies of the local teenage girls, using them to lure boys into the water and drown them. This story has so much atmosphere and a really vivid setting. It’s creepy and has lots of twists and turn. I raced through it and it’s a really well told tale.
Also Try: The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert: A dark tale about a young girl who enters a land of fairy tales created by her reclusive grandmother.

Untitled design (16)3. Small Spaces – Katherine Arden
This is a middle grade novel that is spooky, unsettling and a fun adventure tale. Ollie is going home from school when she finds a young woman trying to destroy a book in the river. Rescuing the book, she takes it home and begins to read the tale of a family and the horrors that have happened to them. The next day she goes on a school trip to a local farm where she learns that the story might not be entirely fictional… This story is so enjoyable and spine-tingling. It’s an excellent adventure story and perfect for Halloween.
Also Try: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden: This is an adult fantasy, but incredibly atmospheric and set in a frozen Russian landscape, making it perfect to dive into on a chilly Halloween night!

Untitled design (18)4. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White
This year marks 200 years since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. If you’ve read the book or are looking for something a bit more accessible to start off, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is the perfect choice. Told from the point of view of one of the few female characters in the story, the book is fast paced, dark and disturbing. It’s a truly excellent retelling and a brilliant Halloween book.
Also Try: And I Darken – Kiersten White: This is the author’s series of Vlad the Imapaler (Dracula) retellings, but reimagined as a woman.

Untitled design (13)5. City of Ghosts – V. E. Schwab
V. E. Schwab’s first middle grade book is the perfect addition to your Halloween reading. The story follows Cassidy, a young girl who can see ghosts. When her parents are asked to create a TV series about ghosts they travel to Edinburgh to begin filming. Here Cassidy meets all kinds of ghosts and not all of them are friendly. This story has such a stunning setting in Edinburgh and is all kinds of dark and creepy.
Also Try: Vicious – V. E. Schwab: A dark and gritty story of two best friends turned enemies who try to make themselves superhuman and the death and destruction that follows.

Untitled design (14)6. We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Shirley Jackson
No creepy book list would be complete without a mention of a Shirley Jackson book. Merricat and her sister Constance live with their Uncle Julian in a grand estate home. Several years ago four of the Blackwood family were poisoned with arsenic and died. While acquitted for the murders, the family are still the talk of the villagers. When a distant relative comes to visit, the future becomes fraught with danger. What will happen to the sisters, and will the truth of the murders come out? Shirley Jackson has a way of making stories so dark and intense and this is a perfect unsettling tale.
Also Try: The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson: This story follows four people who come to stay at Hill House looking for spooky phenomenon and the horror that awaits them inside. It is not also a super scary Netflix series too!

Untitled design (19)7. Dark Matter – Michelle Paver
This story is so spine tingling and eerie! I’ve read it a few times and it’s still as creepy as it was the first time I read it. The story is told in a series of journal entries from a young man who is part of an expedition to the icy baren wilderness of the Arctic. As things start to go wrong and his companions are forced to leave, our narrator Jack is left along in this freezing land, but is he really alone, or something watching him? I couldn’t put this down and it’s definitely one my favourite books of all time.
Also Try: Thin Air – Michelle Paver: A story in the similar vein about an expedition up a mountain in which things start to go wrong. It’s not as good as Dark Matter but it’s still an excellent creepy tale.

Untitled design (15)8. Wytches – Scott Snyder
This is the first volume in a series of graphic novels by Scott Snyder. This story is haunting with some really stunning artwork. I read it for the first time earlier this year and really wish I’d kept it for closer to October. This story follows witches (obviously) but not the kind that you think you know. Hiding in the woods, these witches are ancient, and they’re hungry.
Also Try: The Woods – James Tynion: The story of a school with 500+ students and staff that mysteriously disappear. Where could they have gone? And what’s waiting for them when they get there?

Untitled design (20)9. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt
This book isn’t so much scary as it is atmospheric and disturbing. A fictionalised account of Lizzie Borden, a young woman accused of murdering her mother and father with an axe. The story is told in a very visceral way and it is a really impressive debut novel. “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”
Also Try: The Witch Finder’s Sister – Beth Underdown: A historical fictional novel about a young man who accused women of witchcraft. 

Untitled design (21)10. The Willows – Algernon Blackwood
During my English degree we did a class on the fantastic and elements of a story that make you feel unsettled even if there’s nothing these. Tasked to find a book and write an essay on this, I found and read The Willows. This book really frightened me, partly because you never really see or find out what’s going on. In the vein of H.P. Lovecraft the story follows two friends camping by the Danube river when they are forced to pause their trip. During their stay something in the environment starts stalking their every move and the two companions aren’t sure they will make it out alive. This short tale is one of my absolute favourites and if you like haunting creepy books that you can absolutely fly though, definitely try this.
Also Try: Anything by H. P. Lovecraft: His stories are dark, eerie and definitely unsettling.

So that’s my top list of Halloween recommendations. If you’ve read any of these let me know what you thought and if you have any good recommendations for me then definitely comment below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Love to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Love to Meet

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Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is all about authors I would love to meet. I love going to signings and events so there are loads of authors I would love to meet and chat about their wonderful books!

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1. Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder is one of my favourite authors. I love her Poison Study series and I would love the chance to get my copies signed. She did an event in Edinburgh a few years ago and I didn’t manage to get to it, so I keep my fingers crossed that she might do one again in the future.

2. Cate Tiernan675614

I absolutely adored Cate Tiernan’s books growing up. Her Sweep series was my favourite and I would love to get the chance to meet her. She hasn’t released any books recently (that I know of) so I’m sure I’ll ever get the chance.
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3. Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes masterpieces and I would love to go to an event and get my copies signed because they are some of my favourite books of all time.

4. Amanda Foody30238163
Amanda Foody is a recent author to add to my list. I loved Ace of Shades so much and I would love to get my copy signed and tell her how much I loved it.

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5. Stephanie Garber

I have a signed edition of Legandary already but I’d love to meet Stephanie Garber and get my copies of Caraval signed because it’s such a beautifully written story.

6. J. K. Rowling72193
Like so many people I grew up with Harry Potter and would love to get my battered and loved copies signed because Harry Potter was one of the reasons I loved reading so much.

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7. Neil Gaiman
I’m a massive Neil Gaiman fan and I’m steadily trying to read all the books in his catalogue. I’d love to go to an event and hear him talk about the inspiration and writing process for his books.

8. Laura Purcell39098246 (1)
Laura Purcell’s books have genuinely scared the living daylights out of me. I loved The Silent Companions and I’m reading The Corset and loving it. Hopefully I can get my copies signed soon!

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9. Heather Fawcett
Even the Darkest Stars was one of my favourite books of 2017. I’m so excited to read the sequel and I would love to meet the creator of this gorgeous series.

10. Katherine Arden38204046 (1)
I rant about how much I love Katherine Arden’s books all the time so it’s probably no surprise that I would love to meet her because The Winternight Trilogy will forever be one of my most loved series.

So that’s my top ten authors I would love to meet. Have you met any of these authors? And which authors are on your list?

Book Review: City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

Book Review: City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

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Series:
Cassidy Blake #1
Release Date: 28th August 2018
Pages: 285
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this from my local Waterstones.

Synopsis

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

Review

This is my first time reading a book by Victoria Schwab, but it certainly won’t be the last. Dark, sinister and a whole lot of fun, this is everything you could want in a paranormal middle grade book.

book cover (21)Middle grade normally isn’t the kind of book that I read but this sounded like such a fascinating read that I couldn’t resist. After racing through it in a single sitting I am now desperate for more of Cassidy and her best friend Jacob.

Everything about this book was well done. The characters were wonderful and well developed, the pacing quick but not to the point where there was no chance to get to know the world and the magical elements.

One of my most favourite things about this book was the creepy/ horror myth element to it. Our main villain is definitely that kind of scary creature you hear about as a child to ward you away from going somewhere you’re not supposed to. Schwab handles it in a really skilled way and I definitely felt unsettled at times. City of Ghosts is an absolutely perfect read for the autumn and is a wonderful Halloween ghost story.

The other thing that drew me to City of Ghosts is the setting. I live in Scotland and went to University in Edinburgh so it’s always amazing to see somewhere you know described in a book. I loved the dark and spooky way that Edinburgh was portrayed, and it definitely made me fall in love with the book and the city even more.

If you love dark and spooky tales this is definitely a book to pick up. It’s fun, engrossing and an excellent introduction to the writing of Victoria Schwab.
5 stars