Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

Book Review: Hold Back the Tide – Melinda Salisbury

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Release Date:
March 5th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 384
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local Waterstones
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past…

Review

Copy of book cover - 2020-04-20T140949.950Hold Back the Tide follows the story of Alva, a young girl living in the remote Scottish highlands with her father. Her mother mysteriously disappeared and Alva knows her father is responsible. Whilst living day in and day out with the person she believes murdered her mother, she dreams of escaping to a new life. When dark forces begin preying on Ormscaula Alva has to do everything she can to help the town survive, and uncover some difficult truths about her family.

Melinda Salisbury is one of my favourite writers, I’ve loved everything she’s written so far so I was extremely eager to read this one and I had really high expectations. From the get go this story hooked me in, I loved the dark and eerie atmosphere and the bleak remote setting Salisbury created. Salisbury created an incredibly vivid world and from the very first chapter I didn’t want to put this down. I absolutely adored The Sin Eater’s Daughter, but this might be my favourite book from her ever.

Alva is a brilliant protagonist, Salisbury manages to fit in tons of character development as she learns the dark truth of Ormscaula, what happened to her mother and fights for the survival of the town. She’s a strong protagonist and one I was absolutely rooting for from the get go. The secondary characters in the story are likewise well developed and fleshed out. There is a little bit of romance but it is very subtle and doesn’t take away from the main story.

Hold Back the Tide is one of those books that you don’t stop thinking about long after you’ve finished reading. It was creepy, genuinely made me uneasy at some moments and has an absolutely unbelievable ending. I can’t recommend this one highly enough and this book will be without a doubt on my favourite books of 2020 list.
5 Stars

Waiting on Wednesday: Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis

Waiting on Wednesday: Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis

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Synopsis

Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone’s expecting you . . .

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her.

But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot.

The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her.

Thoughts

Copy of book cover (21)Harrow Lake is a book I’ve seen going around quite a lot on social media and lots of people have been absolutely loving it. It sounds like a perfect creepy thriller and I am honestly do excited to pick this one up. I love old horror movies and I think this is going to be the perfect book to binge in an afternoon. I haven’t yet had the chance to pick up any of Kat Ellis’ other books but I am definitely intrigued. The synopsis kind of gives me Night Film vibes, with the father who is a horror filmmaker and the creepy locations the films were set. I absolutely adored Night Film so I’m really hoping Harrow Lake has similar vibes. I’ve seen a fair few early reviews that have been five stars so this is giving me hope for the intense creepy thriller I’m craving. If like me you’re dying to read this one, you don’t have too much longer to wait – Harrow Lake is publishing July 9th 2020 from Penguin Books. 

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

Book Recommendations: Halloween Edition!

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I’m back with a new book recommendations post. This time we’re talking spooky reads that are perfect for Halloween. I absolutely love doing a readathon on Halloween, it’s a great time to get comfy on the couch with some candles, a blanket and a cat, so I thought I would recommend some of my favourite spooky books that would be perfect this Halloween.

Copy of book cover (80)1. Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
I finished this just recently and absolutely adored it. Set at Yale University, it features magic, mystery and the dark underworld of the Yale secret societies. I got completely sucked into this story and ended up flying through it. It’s gripping, dark and deals with some really tough themes, but it was a brilliant read and definitely a new favourite of mine.

2. The Monster of Elendhaven – Jennifer GiesbrechtCopy of book cover (81)
This is quite a short little book that I ended up reading in one sitting – perfect for a readathon. The story follows a man hungry for revenge on those who wronged him, and his companion who cannot die. It has a really vivid setting, and excellent world building, especially in such a short book. It’s a gruesome and compelling tale, and one I highly recommend.

3. The Deathless Girls – Kiran Milwood Hagravebook cover - 2019-05-01T094307.932
This one isn’t so much as scary as it is captivating and engrossing. The story is a reimagining of the brides of Dracula and the events that lead them to become immortals. It’s a beautifully told Gothic tale and I was absolutely hooked. It features some stunning writing and a fantastic cast of characters. I also really liked the romance in this story – which is something I don’t say very often!

4. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley JacksonCopy of book cover (83)
I couldn’t resist throwing a classic into the mix. Shirley Jackson is an author I have been a bit hit or miss with. I enjoyed The Missing Girl, didn’t really get We Have Always Lived in the Castle and loved The Haunting of Hill House. This is by far my favourite, it’s dark, creepy and a brilliantly weaved tale.

5. Tunnel of Bones – Victoria SchwabCopy of book cover (84)
This is the second instalment in Victoria Schwab’s middle grade ghost hunter series and if you haven’t read book one I highly recommend both.  The first is set in Edinburgh and the many haunted places within the city. This instalment is set in the creepy Paris catacombs and really brings these places to life, I really loved following Cassidy and her ghost best friend as they tackle ghosts and save the world as we know it.

6. Sanctuary – V. V. JamesCopy of book cover (40)
I still think about this book even though I finished it months ago. A story of murder, revenge and witchcraft, this book will have you on the edge of your seat right till the very last page. In a world where witches live and work alongside humans, the murder of a young high school student leads everyone to start pointing the finger at witches. But who really did it? and was Daniel as innocent as he seemed? Full of twists and turns, this is one of my favourite books of the year.

7. The Furies – Katie Lowebook cover - 2019-03-11T211035.250
This is another book I could not put down and is absolutely perfect for Halloween reading. The story of a group of high school students who believe they have ability to cast spells and enact revenge on those who wronged them. This is a stunning debut with vivid characters and an unforgettable plot.

8. Night Film – Marisha PeshlCopy of book cover (56)
I was a bit late to the Night Film party but my god I’m glad I finally picked this book up. The story follows disgraced detective Scott McGrath as he attempts to understand the suicide of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of a reclusive film maker. As he delves deeper, he learns it might not have been suicide and Cordova might have been messing with something far beyond our understanding. This story felt so real I wanted to google the characters so I could watch the movies.

Copy of book cover (60)9. The Puppet Show – M. W. Craven
Looking for a crime thriller fix this October? The Puppet Show definitely has you covered. The first in a new detective series, this book is full to the brim with shock twists I would never have seen coming and is full of plenty gory moments. It also features a brilliant crime solving duo and I can’t wait to pick up the next instalment in the series.

10.  Dead Voices – Katherine Arden Copy of book cover (82)
This one is a bit of an honourable mention because I’m actually in the middle of reading it now. This is the second instalment in Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces series. This middle grade series is so fun and full of spooky goodness. The first book features plenty of eerie, spine tingling moments and I am loving Dead Voices so far.

So there you have it! Those are my recommendations for spooky reads this Halloween. If you’ve read any great creepy reads recently I’d love to know what they were, and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

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