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

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

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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

William Ryan Blogtour 19 Sept (1)

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 Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

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Release Date:
September 5th 2019
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

Review

Copy of book cover (55)This is the dark and creepy tale of Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers who is sent to Dinas Powys in Wales after the body of a young woman is discovered in the woods. Her body is found bound, mutilated and burnt, so the police turn to Bexley to solve the case. As Thomas begins to uncover the case, he finds the locals reluctant to help and a growing sense of unease in the village – could there be more to this brutal murder than Thomas first thought?

This is quite a short book, but it absolutely packs a punch. It’s really dark and eerie, a murder mystery with just that hint of the supernatural. If I hadn’t read this already I would definitely have read this on Halloween because it’s that perfect spooky story. I loved the setting of this story. This sleepy little village where everyone knows each other. As Bexley tries to uncover the secrets behind the murder I loved the way the tension climbed as that feeling of unease grew and grew.

Thomas was a really interesting character and I found the Victorian forensic photography so interesting. It was something I didn’t know much about so I really liked seeing him carry out his work. The author has a gorgeous writing style and some of the scenes (particularly the one in the basement!) really sent a shiver up my spine.

There are plenty of twists in this that I didn’t see coming, and a fair few scary moments. It’s a quick read because it’s so easy to fall into the story and I am really looking forward to reading more from this author. A Shadow on the Lens is a fantastic debut, a chilling read that fans of Gothic horror will absolutely adore!
4 stars

Blog Tour – Sanctuary – V. V. James

Blog Tour – Sanctuary – V. V. James

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Release Date:
August 8th 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

Review

Copy of book cover (40)This book gripped me from the very first chapter and refused to let me go. I couldn’t put it down, racing through the chapters quicker and quicker to find out what was going to happen at the end. This is the perfect tense and thrilling story, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Set in a small American town, the story opens on the death of a young quarter back named Daniel. His death is ruled an accident but rumours start to fly that his ex girlfriend Harper could have been involved – especially when she tells everyone Daniel isn’t as innocent as he makes out to be.

I loved everything about this book. The small little town that is gripped by paranoia and mistrust really leapt off the page. It really added to the tension and was the perfect setting for this dark and twisty tale.

The story is told in a number of alternating POVs and I really enjoyed getting to see the story from different view points. Each of the voices felt quite distinct and realistic, and I enjoyed seeing the characters attempt to figure what was going on, and who to trust.  Sanctuary also does come with quite a few trigger warnings, including sexual assault and violence so definitely make sure to take a look if needed.

Sanctuary is a dark and thrilling story, one that fans of James’ previous work will just adore. Her beautiful writing will suck you and and definitely keep you reading long after you’ve meant to go to bed. I ended up reading late into the night because I was just so desperate to see how it was going to end. If you love clever twists, a well executed plot and an engrossing mix of magic and mystery, Sanctuary should absolutely be your next read.
5 stars
Sanctuary-Blog-Tour-Banner

Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

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Release Date:
13th June 2019
Publisher: Red Door Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

It is possible that since this book’s publication you will have heard that I have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’. Obviously I hope that will not be the case, but I believe it is worth taking the risk in order to get this story out there.

Why would one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offer a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of Hollywood’s biggest star?

Only once he is living and working among the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake.

The ghostwriter must face the dark underbelly of the tech industry. He must face corruption and manipulation, come to blows with people who will do anything to remain at the top of their game and uncover the dark truth behind what it really means to be an influencer . . .

What Lies Around Us takes the reader into a world of myth-makers and power-brokers and reveals who is really running the world. Who is telling the stories and controlling the way we all think with a mixture of old media, social media and fake media?

Review

Copy of book cover (1)I read and loved The Secret of the Italian Gardner by Andrew Crofts a while ago, so when I was contacted about What Lies Around Us I jumped at the chance to read it. If it’s possible this book was even more gripping and addictive and I could not put it down.

Andrew is a British ghostwriter and is contacted out of the blue by Roger, a Silicon Valley tech giant about ghost writing a new book. The book isn’t about him, but about a leading actress of blockbuster films and reality television. So why is Roger so interested in getting this book published? He’s willing to pay a million dollars for Andrew to write it, but he’s very specific about what he wants. As Andrew gets to know his subject a devastating set of events occur and Andrew begins to wonder is it mere coincidence that he was writing the book – or has somebody planned this?

This might be a small book but it really packed a punch! There were so many mysteries going on and I just had no idea how it was going to end. When I turned the last few pages I was so surprised. The plot is brilliantly executed and definitely kept me guessing.

The characters are really fascinating and Andrew really gives you the opportunity to get to know them – Roger the seemingly nice business man with ruthless ambition, Jo-Jo the beautiful actress with her perfect husband and family. As the story goes deeper the curtain is peeled back to see there’s so much more going on underneath.

I loved the gorgeous setting of the story – it really came to life in this book. I also really liked the writing style and found myself wanting to read more and more just to find out how it was going to end. I ended up reading the book in two sittings because I just couldn’t get enough. The story focuses on a whole range of themes but is most notably about power and ambition, and just what you’ll do to get it. The story also broaches the subject of social media and the influence it has on the world – I found this aspect really interesting and overall thought it was a thoroughly engaging read.

If you’re looking for an exciting, fast read, What Lies Around Us is a must read. It’s an engaging, thought provoking thriller and I’m so looking forward to reading more books from Andrew Crofts.
4 stars

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

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Release Date:
January 10th 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in Sainsbury’s
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-17T113630.477I really enjoyed Karen M McManus’s debut novel – One of Us Is Lying, so I was excited to give her new book a shot. The story follows twins Ezra and Ellery who are sent to live with their grandmother whilst their mother is in rehab. The small little town is famous for the murder/disappearance of two Homecoming Queens – one of which is the twin’s aunt. Whilst getting acquainted with the town strange things start happening and the mysterious killer claims to have returned – but will Ellery be able to uncover the truth about her aunt’s disappearance?

Two Can Keep A Secret is the sort of book you take on a plane ride or pick up on a quiet afternoon to while away a few hours. You start off reading a few pages and it immediately sucks you in – hours later you’re still sitting there, desperate to know how it’s going to end. That was definitely my experience of reading this book. It’s a twisty, turny read and definitely lots of fun.

I really liked the setting in this story, the creepy little town filled with secrets really gave me Riverdale kind of vibes and I loved that the twins take jobs in an odd, creepy theme park. The characters are interesting ones too although at times I did feel like they could be more fleshed out. The story gives us alternating points of view between Ellery and Malcolm, a local boy who ends up involved in the mystery. Both characters give interesting perspectives and I liked seeing things from different points of view, particularly as the intensity heightening and the mystery was revealed.

The story is a multi-layered one and there are quite a lot of themes and ideas within the novel, covering topics like family, friendship, understanding yourself and lots more in between. It’s an engaging story that’s executed well. I enjoyed the overall story and definitely felt surprised at some of the shock twists. One or two of the twists were a little predictable but even though I knew what was coming, I still enjoyed the way it was revealed and tied into the rest of the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced and engaging read, Two Can Keep a Secret should definitely be on your list. If you’ve read One of Us Is Lying, I’d absolutely recommend picking this up because this will definitely be a new favourite in the YA-thriller world.
4 stars

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

Book Review: Before I Let Go – Marieke Nijkamp

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Release Date:
January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 358
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Review

Where do I start with this strange, beautiful book? I have yet to read Nijkamp’s This is Where It Ends (I have now ordered it and that will soon change), but this book had a really interesting premise and sounded like a good read. After reading just a few pages I was completely sucked in, and I can safely say Before I Let Go is already a contender for my top reads of the year. (I know it’s only January, but it was so so good).

book cover (97)The book is set in this eerie, dark little town called Lost Creek in Alaska. Our main protagonist Corey grew up there but has since moved away, returned after the death of her best friend Kyra. But Lost has change in the months she’s been away, and Corey is no longer part of the community, she’s an outsider which the townspeople don’t take too kindly too. I loved this setting, it was so vividly described and such a claustrophobic and unsettling place. There were more than a few times when I felt a shiver from this cold dark landscape.

I don’t want to say too much about what happens in the story because I would hate to spoil it for anyone, but it touches on so many fascinating subjects – friendship, loyalty, belonging and mental health. It’s a fascinating book, with so many twists and turns that I absolutely didn’t see coming.

I loved Before I Let Go from start to finish – I loved the short chapters that kept my mind racing (and itching to know what was going to happen next). Nijkamp did a fantastic job building up the tension and the suspense, and some of those climax scenes I couldn’t have put the book down if the world around me was ending. The story is set over six days, but so much happens in that time. Corey was such an interesting protagonist, dealing with the grief of losing her friend, of being shunned from the community. I loved her determination, to stand up for what she thought her friend would have wanted, and to find out what really happened.

This spooky eerie thriller will have you on the edge of your seat, The beautiful vivid writing will linger in your mind longer after you’ve finished reading, and if you love a book that will keep you guessing Before I Let Go is just what you need.
5 stars