A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.
Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.
Jan has not. In his long search he has travelled the world, tangling with murderers and pick-pockets and accidentally holding a whole Russian town at imaginary gunpoint. Now he thinks if he just waits and does nothing, fate may find it easier to reunite them – if only he can shake off an annoying teenager who won’t go away. But then, perhaps an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find his old flame?
Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a comic Homeric odyssey with shades of Jonas Jonasson’s Hundred-Year-Old Man. A quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the mysteries of fate, it moves and delights in equal measure.
I am delighted to be on the Squadpod tour for this unique little book. Thank you to Tim for my copy of the e book in return for a fair and honest review. The lovely people at Eye and Lightning books are also offering 30% off using the code SQUADPOD.
ManJan is a ‘moustache’ and he is waiting for Jan on a beach in Goa in 2016 , on the beach. He met her many years ago and they had a ‘magical week’ together. Jan hopes that fate may bring them together again. Goa is very different now and he meets Shakey who is a ‘vest’ a young man who is also in Goa looking for something something too !
As Jan recounts his life, from a child to Shakey and how he knew that he wanted more than the life ahead of him in Fishton. How he decided to go on an adventure but it did not go quite to plan when he ended up in what he thought was Norway.
After this he makes his way home to Fishton but then attempts to go to Norway again when he is 18. I don’t want to give to much about this funny and unique book except for it really kept me on my toes, it made me laugh and the little animal stories within the stories were lovely and unexpected. Prisha the wandering cow was one of my favourites.
ManJan’s and Jan’s story is really heart wrenching in places and ManJan does always seem to end up in some real scrapes ! His journey of many years takes him across the world and he never gives up.
I have to be honest I was not sure when I started that I knew what was going on! However, do continue because it is a really joyful story about love, unlikely friendships, unexpected events and fate. I really enjoyed my adventure !
4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
About the author
Tim Ewins had an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance, before turning to writing fiction.
He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and had a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background).
He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.
Author Instagram: @timewins and @quickbooksummaries
From 23rd July to 8th August, you can get 30% off your copy of We Are Animals using the code SQUADPOD when you purchase directly from the publishers https://www.eye-books.com/books/we-are-animals – this offer applies to anywhere, with free p&p for UK only.
February was another great month for books and I read a massive 18 books. This was for Blog Tours and In Conversations. It was an extraordinary list of books and many I rated 4 and 5 stars. I also read some extraordinary debuts.pl
My BOTM was Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy and this was one of the months in conversation for Exeter Library.
January was a great month for books and I read a massive 18 books. This was for Blog Tours and some were for In Conversations due to the lockdown restrictions I have had lots of time to read. It was an extraordinary list of books and many I rated 4 and 5 stars.
My BOTM was Shiver Allie Reynolds it was a really tough choice as there were so many great books but Shiver is a debut and I really loved the characters, the setting and the twists.
This is the full list :
Coming Home to Brightwater Bay – Holly Hepburn
Faking It – Portia MacIntosh
The Burning Girls – C J Tudor
The Shape of Darkness -Laura Purcell
The Island -C L Taylor
The Marlow Murder Club – Robert Thorogood
Shiver – Allie Reynolds
The Last Thing to Burn -Will Dean
The Appeal – Janice Hallett
Summer Job – Lizzy Dent
Poppy Flowers at the Front -Jon Wilkins
What I Did -Kate Bradley
The German Girl- Lily Graham
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House -Cherie Jones
A Dark Room – Sam Blake
I Give it a Year – Helen Whitaker
I also interviewed 4 authors as part of my day job you can view them again below.
Polly Clark- Tiger- Quercus
Sam Carrington – Open House and N V Peacock Little Bones – Avon Books
This will be my third year of blogging and because of obvious Covid related reasons and losing two family members, 2020 will not be forgotten easily.
However, it has been a fantastic year for books and I know that the poor authors have not been able to do events and this was primarily the reason with my work head as Development Senior Supervisor at Exeter Library on we started to do ‘In Conversations’ this year. Starting in April with Clara Barley author of Moss House this was my first online interview and at the end of the year we have done a fantastic 12 events. I have loved doing them and it has definitely developed a new skill for me and enabled me to talk to some fantastic authors from all genres.
You can watch them here and we have a fab line up for 2021 follow @exeterlibrary on Twitter and ExeterLibrary on Facebook :
Anyway lets get going with my top 20 reads of 2020! I would say that this was really brutal having to chose as I have read so many amazing books and I have shared the links to my original reviews if you would like to read more.
1. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth- Matson Taylor –Scribner Books
The total joy of Evie came into my life this summer. This book is such a joy, a great story and the characters, whether you loved or hated them are fantastic. I loved the strong women in the book and having family in Yorkshire, this really resonated with me as I have been brought up with strong women who loved to bake. If you have not read this one you need to and I cannot wait to see what Evie does next.
I did not know what to expect but what I discovered was beyond any expectations that I could have had. The writing is beautiful and you will be transported to the house and become immersed in labyrinthine pages.
You really need to read this book to uncover the secrets about Piranesi and the other occupants of the House. So many times I thought I knew what was happening and so many times when I was wrong. This really is an outstanding read.
3. In the Sweep of the Bay -Cath Barton– Louise WaltersBooks
This book looks deeply at relationships and has many what if’s. It is a really beautifully crafted book and I recommend that you read. I had so many questions at the end I think this would make an excellent book group read.
4.The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley– Bloomsbury
The three main characters are brought together through a set of strange circumstances and I loved the dynamics of this complicated relationship. I do not want to give any spoilers as I knew nothing about the book before I read it and I think this is the best way to enjoy it.
5.The Mist -Ragnar -Ragnar Jonasson– PenguinMichael Joseph
Dark, brutal and compelling I loved this book. It is so clever and the pace is relentless and I can’t remember a time when a book totally immersed me in the atmosphere and story. Exceptional ! This trilogy is going to make a fantastic tv series.
6.The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside – Jessica Ryn– HQStories
This is a joyful read, the author portrays the characters with warmth and tackles
a difficult subject sensitively and with humour at times. I loved Dawn nothing stops her from trying to help, she is desperate to be needed. A fabulous touching debut which shows kindness and friendship go a long way in the world. Beautiful!
I really enjoyed the atmosphere that the author portrays in this book, it is set near Christmas but don’t be fooled that its sparkly book. It is cold, snowy and bleak Yorkshire in winter. I loved the darkness, the danger and unexplained.
This is such a great book, I would have read in one sitting if I had the chance it is so suspenseful and shocking which I love in a thriller. All the characters are really down on their luck and lonely and without giving too much away they are all brought together in a shocking conclusion which will change their lives forever.
A dark and claustrophobic read. I loved this book and I had not read anything by Amanda before but I will be reading her others. I loved her style of writing and how she draws you in and it was a real experience which I will not forget in a while. Fantastic !
10. All the Lonely People- Mike Gayle – Hodder Books
This book is a joy, the writing is empathetic and gentle. I loved the dual storyline and learning about Hubert’s life with Joyce and how he came to be in England. Also the struggles that they have as a mixed race couple in the 1950’s, some of which are really hard to read but very important.
I loved this book so much and I read it really slowly so that I could savour the writing. The characters and the story totally engrossed me and I found the love triangle element intriguing and knew that was never going to end well.
This is one of my favourite reads of the year and I was besotted by it and will be recommending this one far and wide. An amazing book!
12. The Winter Garden -Heidi Swain– Simon and Schuster
This is a truly wonderful read, and it was a joy to step into the world of Freya as she makes a new life with the supportive members of Nightingale Square. Best enjoyed on the sofa with the rain on the windows and nowhere else to go. If you are a fan of Heidi or a newbie you will love being transported into the wintery gorgeousness at its best from the lovely Heidi !
13. A Wedding at the Beach Hut- Veronica Henry– Orion Books
The setting of Tawcombe seemed very familiar to me, being from Mid Devon and I loved the Devon idiosyncrasies. Mick reminded me of my Dad, who calls me and my sisters,’ his maids’ too ! The book has humour and warmth but also sadness and covers some really delicate subjects like adoption and miscarriage in a really sensitive way.
This book could not have come at a better time for me, in lock down when I was unable to visit my own favourite seaside haunts but I was able to be transported there with the assistance of this gorgeous book. Thank you Ronnie for another fabulous read.
I loved this book and I can see why it has been so well reviewed it totally transported me to time and place that I have never experienced previously. It was so visual you can not help but be totally engrossed in this fantastic storytelling. It seamlessly switches between Agnes’s past and present.
I feel very privileged to have been able to be part of the tour of this wonderful book.
15. Love Orange- Natasha Randall – Quercus –River Run
This is a really great book I loved it, the strong characters in the book makes the read all the more involved. This is a fantastic debut novel and I loved chatting to Natasha and the other members of the the buddy read about the book.
I loved how the story of Macbeth was also woven in to the events. There are heart-breaking and heart stopping moments which left me very emotional and at times shocked.
I think this book will stay with me for a long time and I feel very lucky to be able to review it. Although it is definitely a book that everyone should read as I feel my review will never convey all I want it too.
If you need to escape then this is perfect for transporting you away to this other land of myths and superstitions. A fantastic adult story which highlights some of the worse traits of humans, darkness but with beauty and an underlying feeling of hope. Excellent!
18. The Killings at Kingfisher Hill – Sophie Hannah– Harper Collins
This is such a great story, it is cleverly plotted and leaves clues along by the way, that make you think you know who the killer is but I was completely shocked when the twist in the tale comes at Poirot’s ever famous denouement. I think it is one of the cleverest plots I have read in a long time.
This is a fantastic read, I started and I could not put it down, the characters are believable and very human and the author has a wonderful gift of hooking the reader in and building suspense throughout the story and this story is no exception.
20. Starry Skies over the Chocolate Pot Cafe – Jessica Redland– Boldwood Books
This is a really great book, it surprised me and I loved seeing Tara change into a beautiful butterfly. She really deserved to find some happiness and with the support of the lovely community in Castle Street she begins to find that she can.
This is a sit on the sofa with a hot chocolate sort of book, it has a bit of everything, sadness, hope, friendship, betrayal and overcoming the past. I loved it !
Mercie Hillbrook lives a simple, quiet life working as a gas station attendant. Then her parents are killed. Her home is taken. The people responsible are excused for just doing their job. When an attempt to get justice her way lands her in trouble with the law, Mercie realizes she still has something to lose: her own life.
Then she finds reason to believe her parents were murdered… and she doesn’t care anymore.
Alongside this rollercoaster of a novella, this book includes 4 very dark short stories
Amazon rating: (14 reviews)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Praise for Her Name is Mercie
Roy delivers on the edge of your seat storytelling with rough edges, crooked cops and a tiny light at the end of the tunnel that is never quite extinguished.
— Tom Vater, co–founder of Crime Wave Press.
Her Name Is Mercie is a fast furious ride into an inferno of the highest tension you are likely to encounter this year. Where noir meets thriller, toss a coin. Dive in. And unplug your phones, pcs tablets and keep reading deeper and deeper, until the final pages.
— Richard Godwin, author of Apostle Rising.
Thank you to Lilyan at Blackthorn books for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the e book in return for a fair and honest review.
In the first in this short story collection we met Mercie. Mercie works in a gas station and is contacted by the police as her parents have been killed in a police shooting. After having to identify them at the morgue, she takes drastic action and what happens next is a high octane, fast paced ride.
She has an unlikely companion who she meets during this spree and who rescues her when she most needs it. This is a great read, if you like your reading action packed then this is for you. Bank robbery, car theft, police corruption, kidnap is all in there. It is dark and violent and it has so many twists and turns you will be gripped. It does have very strong language within in which some may find offensive.
There are five stories in this collection, some I preferred to others but I think that is a personal choice. If you like your thrillers dark and fast you will enjoy this collection.
About the Author:
Chris Roy is the author of Shocking Circumstances, Sharp as a Razor, and Her Name Is Mercie. He is a published tattoo artist (Rise Tattoo Magazine, ATC Tattoo Books app) and the illustrator of two children’s books. Raised in South Mississippi, he lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he’s been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Nowadays he lives his life of crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, tattooing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.
Cold Comfort Farm meets Adrian Mole in the funniest debut novel of the year. Yorkshire, the summer of 1962. Sixteen year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she become?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Girl Guides, cows, milk deliveries, lost mothers and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Bronte, Shirley MacLaine and the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds).
Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon to be stepmother, a manipulative and money grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampooand-set drudgery at the local salon.
Luckily, Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her bereaved father, Arthur, from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches, and save their beloved farmhouse from being sold off.
She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly she is meant to be.
Thank you to Anne Cater Random Things Tours for my invitation to the tour and to Scribner for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
The story begins with us being introduced to Evie who decides to take her Dad Arthur’s car for a drive she comes across a very alarming sight and crashes the car and the reader then meets Arthur and his hideous girl-friend Christine and her family.
Evie can not remember her Mother as she died when she was a toddler, but Mrs Scott- Pym an elderly friend in the village is determined that Evie should and gives her a recipe book that had belonged to her mother. She is also fiercely protective of Evie and goes to extreme measures to try and rid of the awful Christine from her life. This takes an unexpected turn and a glamorous visitor comes to the village.
This book is such a joy, a great story and the characters, whether you loved or hated them are fantastic. I loved the strong women in the book and having family in Yorkshire this really resonated with me as I have been brought up with strong women who loved to bake.
The book had a Cinderella feel however, instead of the handsome prince rescuing Evie she is loved and supported by a band of female friends who want the best for her. The 60’s setting was delightful and I would love to see what Evie does next.
This is such a lovely book, it’s funny it made me laugh out loud with the descriptions of Christine’s wardrobe and Evie’s escapades with the glamorous and worldly Caroline were heartening. As with all good stories good overcomes bad and this is a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from this author.
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire but now lives in London. He is a design historian and academic writing tutor and has worked at various universities and museums around the world; he currently teaches at the V&A, Imperial College, and the RCA.
He has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial, and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers.
Nell Galilee, her husband and twelve year old step-daughter Maude rent a holiday cottage by the sea, needing time and space away from home after Maude became involved in some troubling events. Nell grew up in this small, wind-blown town and has mixed feelings about returning, and it isn’t long before she is recognised by a neighbour, seemingly desperate to befriend her. The cottage too has been empty for some time, and from the start Nell feels uncomfortable there. Something isn’t quite right about this place . . .
Maude, furious about being brought here against her will and her father’s attention falling so often elsewhere, soon finds herself beguiled by the house’s strange atmosphere. There are peculiar marks in the roof beams above her bedroom, and in another room, a hiding place, concealing a strange, unnerving object.
As the house gradually reveals its secrets, Nell becomes increasingly uneasy – and Maude spellbound. But these women – and the women that surround them – are harbouring their own secrets too, and soon events will come to a terrible head . . .
A brilliant, unsettling and chilling novel of mothers and daughters, truth and deception and the lengths people will go to, to obtain power over their own lives, The Hiding Place is the second chilling novel from the acclaimed author of The Wayward Girls.
About the author
Amanda Mason was born and brought up in Whitby, North Yorkshire. She studied Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, where she began writing by devising and directing plays. After a few years of earning a very irregular living in lots of odd jobs, including performing in a comedy street magic act, she became a teacher and has worked in the UK, Italy, Spain, and Germany. She now lives in York and has given up teaching for writing. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies. The Wayward Girls, her debut novel, was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers prize.
Thank you to Tracy Fenton for my invitation to the tour and to Zaffre books for my copy of the book via NetGalley.
I have been reading a lot of creepy, ghostly books lately and this one is all of those from the outset!
Nell returns to the seaside town where she grew up with her husband Chris and stepdaughter Maude. They have rented Elder House which is at the top of the cliff and as soon as Nell enters the house she doesn’t like it at all. The smell and the feeling that she has about it.
Nell goes exploring and ends up falling and then meeting her neighbour who recognises her name as a local one. Nell is visiting because of a family party invitation but you know that she is not happy to be here.
It is also apparent that something big has happened to Maude, she is not allowed unsupervised on the internet and Chris keeps asking Nell if she seems ok. Nell is also worried about Chris he seems distracted and she also has her own worries.
I really enjoyed the pace of the book we slowly begin to uncover the life that Nell and Chris have back home and that Nell is very successful in her own right. She meets Carolyn and her daughter Evie who live in a cottage below Elder House and Carolyn remembers Nell from school but Nell doesn’t really remember her. Then they discover something about the house that really ramps up the suspense and tension.
There is something about this story that is unnerving and unexplained and this keeps you reading. I love creepy books set in seaside towns and even in summer with the fog it is so atmospheric and eerie. I remember holidays to Scarborough as a child when the sea mist would be like a blanket across the bay.
This is a great story, unexplained footsteps, banging doors, and missing items all add to the trepidation of this book. Perfect reading for autumn evenings by the fire. 😱👻.
In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.
Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…
In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.
Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…
All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.
Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…
Praise for Louise Douglas
‘A brilliantly written, gripping, clever, compelling story, that I struggled to put down. The vivid descriptions, the evocative plot and the intrigue that Louise created, which had me constantly asking questions, made it a highly enjoyable, absolute treasure of a read.’ Kim Nash on The Scarlet Dress
‘A tender, heart-breaking, page-turning read’ Rachel Hore on The House by the Sea
‘The perfect combination of page-turning thriller and deeply emotional family story. Superb.’ Nicola Cornick on The House by the Sea
‘Kept me guessing until the last few pages and the explosive ending took my breath away.’ C.L. Taylor, author of The Accident on Your Beautiful Lies
‘Beautifully written, chillingly atmospheric and utterly compelling, The Secret by the Lake is Louise Douglas at her brilliant best’ Tammy Cohen, author of The Broken
‘A master of her craft, Louise Douglas ratchets up the tension in this haunting and exquisitely written tale of buried secrets and past tragedy.’ Amanda Jennings, author of Sworn Secret
‘A clammy, atmospheric and suspenseful novel, it builds in tension all the way through to the startling final pages.’ Sunday Express, S Magazine
Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country. Louise’s first book for Boldwood, The House by the Sea was published in March 2020.
Thank you to Rachel at Random Resources tours for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the e book in return for a fair and honest review.
Lewis works for an architect and he is asked to visit All Hallows on Dartmoor for a client. What he does not let on is that he has a history with All Hallows. He was sent there to school by his father and step mother after his mother dies. We know from the outset that it was not a happy place for him and something traumatic happened there.
We go back to 1993 when Lewis is sent to All Hallows and there he meets Isak.
The second timeline of the story is about a young woman who is found with her child in the sea and is also taken to All Hallows but this time it is in 1903 when it is an asylum. The child is called Harriet and Nurse Everdeen is sent to look after her and her mother. No one knows what happened to Harriet and her mother, but she is badly injured.
The two stories run concurrently and it was easy to follow and switch between All Hallows in 1903 and 90 years later.
All Hallows gave me the chills, and poor Lewis he has had such a tough time and going to the awful school is the final straw for him. Brutal and unrelenting the school believes it will break any boy who does not adhere to the rules. Lewis makes a shocking discovery which leads him to investigate who Emma Everdeen was and why she was at All Hallows. Isak and him become engrossed with her story.
This is a really compelling read, it is dark and atmospheric. I could imagine the bleak and gothic setting on Dartmoor which is full of legends of ghosts and folklore. It particularly resonated with me as I have lived with Dartmoor in sight my whole life and my maternal grandmother was born in Scarborough so also have connections to North Yorkshire. It is a story full of mystery and suspense and it’s a great winter read for long dark nights!
How to Bring Him Back’ is a journey into a darkly humorous love triangle. It’s 90s Birmingham and Cait is post-university, aimless and working in a dive bar. She’s caught between Stadd, who’s stable, funny, compatible as a friend, and her compulsive sexual attraction with Rik. Present day Cait picks up her pen, on her yearly writing retreat to Aberystwyth, and addresses an absent Stadd with the lessons she has learnt from her past.
Exploring the dynamics of desire and consent while reflecting upon the damage people can inflict on each other in relationships, Claire is an exciting and bold writer for the modern age.
About the author
Claire HM is a fiction writer, poet and teacher based in (and writing about) her home city of Birmingham. In 2018 she had an essay published in the anthology, I Wrote it Anyway, about her experience of accessing university and the long journey of finding the confidence to write as a woman in her forties from a working-class background. Her work is now published in a growing number of literary publications, including Tears in the Fence, Magma, The Rialto, streetcake, Coven Journal and in Cape Magazine.
Thank you to Isabelle at Kenyon author services for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
This is one of the most of most brutally honest books I have read, it has so much packed into it’s 67 pages it’s quite remarkable.
The book begins in the present with Cait writing a journal of her youth in the 90s. Cait is a troubled young woman and she is in destructive relationship with Rik but is drawn to his friend Stadd. Rik is your typical bad boy who doesn’t treat Cait well and although she knows it she can’t stop being attracted to him.
She makes some really bad choices as we all do as young people and this book is almost like a cathartic experience so that she can accept what happened and lay the ghosts to rest.
I really enjoyed the prose, in some chapters it felt like I was reading a poem. I enjoyed the story of letting go and allowing yourself to heal and be forgiven. This book really packs a punch and does not hold back. An excellent read of real life.
This forest isn’t charted on any map. Every car breaks down at its treeline. Mina’s is no different. Left stranded, she is forced into the dark woodland only to find a woman shouting, urging Mina to run to a concrete bunker. As the door slams behind her, the building is besieged by screams.
Mina finds herself in a room with a wall of glass, and an electric light that activates at nightfall, when the Watchers come above ground. These creatures emerge to observe their captive humans and terrible things happen to anyone who doesn’t reach the bunker in time.
Afraid and trapped among strangers, Mina is desperate for answers. Who are the Watchers and why are these creatures keeping them imprisoned, keen to watch their every move?
About the author
A.M. Shine is a writer and advocate of the Gothic horror tradition. Born in Galway in the west of Ireland, there he received his Masters Degree in History before sharpening his quill and pursuing all things literary and macabre. His stories have won the Word Hut and Bookers Corner prize. He has published two collections, Coldwood: The Haunted Man and Other Tales and 13 and is a member of the Irish Writers Centre.
Thank you to Lauren at Head of Zeus for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
The story begins with John and Ciara, a couple who head out for walk in the woods and the car breaks down, their phone is flat what happens next is chilling and sets up Mina’s story.
Mina is an artist and she gets asked to deliver a parrot for a friend of hers. Mina’s car breaks down and she is sat in the dark when she hears a horrific scream she stays in the car and the next day so sets off to find help. However, this help is not what she had expected. She is dragged inside a building and there she meets Madeleine, Daniel and Ciara. They tell her she has to stay there or The Watchers will get her. She is not convinced so goes to look and hears that terrifying scream again.
This is a really creepy read and it is an incredible debut novel. Horror at it’s best in my opinion is something that you know is there but you can’t see. Growing up near Dartmoor I listened to stories of cars breaking down on the moor only to be confronted with the hairy hand and this brought back all those chills !
I was gripped with the story and the building in the woods had really dark Hansel and Gretel vibes for me.
I loved it one of the best horror books I have read in a long while.
A sister searches for her missing brother as a new power rises amid the splendour and thesqualor of a once great city in this thrilling hydropunk debut from J.S. Emery.
Lower Rhumbsford is a city far removed from its glory days. On the banks of the great river Rhumb, its founding fathers channelled the river’s mighty flow into a subterranean labyrinth of pipes, valves and sluices, a feat of hydraulic prowess that would come to power an empire. But a thousand years have passed since then, and something is wrong. The pipes are leaking, the valves stuck, the sluices silted. The erstwhile mighty Rhumb is sluggish and about to freeze over for the first time in memory.
In a once fashionable quarter of the once great city, in the once grand ancestral home of a family once wealthy and well-known, live the last descendants of the city’s most distinguished engineer, siblings Samuel and Briony Locke.
Having abandoned his programme in hydraulic engineering, Samuel Locke tends to his vast lock collection, while his sister Briony distracts herself from the prospect of marriage to a rich old man with her alchemical experiments. One night Sam leaves the house carrying five of his most precious locks and doesn’t come back…
As she searches for her brother, Briony will be drawn into a web of ancestral secrets and imperial intrigues as a ruthless new power arises. If brother and sister are to be reunited, they will need the help of a tight-lipped house spirit, a convict gang, a club of antiques enthusiasts, a tribe of troglodytes, the Ladies Whist Club, the deep state, a traveling theatrical troupe and a lovesick mouse.
Epic, rollicking and in love with language, Jacob and Sara Emery’s sprawling debut novel of humble kitchen magics and awe-inspiring civil engineering is a rare and delicious commodity – the world’s first hydropunk novel.
About the authors
J. S. Emery is a brother-sister writing team, born in North Idaho into a homeschooling family of seven children, each of whom received an air rifle and a copy of The Odyssey by way of a fifth birthday present. This background prepared them wonderfully for writing fantasy novels but very poorly for formal education. After dropping out of secondary school, they worked jobs including ballet dancer, emergency room janitor, and map librarian in various parts of Europe and North America. They now live in the United States, where they are godparents (and, increasingly, dungeon masters) to one another’s children.
Thank you to Paige at Head of Zeus for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of this beast of a book in return for a fair and honest review.
I very rarely read fantasy, and I was really intrigued by the blurb of this book, brother and sister Samuel and Briony are the descendants of the Locke family. I am about half way through this book and it is so complex and engrossing.The beginnings of each chapter gives the reader a brief overview of what will happen, the writing is dense and full of descriptions.
It is not a book that I could read quickly it is a book to savour and immerse yourself in. The dark and grand Manse where the family live is atmospheric and quirky as are the Lockes.
‘The Lockes were not morning people. It was an unspoken rule of the family that cups of chocolate and sticky buns were consumed in one’s bedroom. Actual conversation was not attempted until well after eleven.’
Sam disappears and Briony decides to search for him, Briony is a great character, she is not going to be the lady that people want her to be. There are a lot of characters woven into this story which does take some concentration to join them all up but definitely worth persevering with. I am really looking to finding out what happens to rest of the book and I am sure I will continue to be entertained and enthralled.
Today on the blog I am spotlighting this fantastic sounding book . The Haunting Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights. Out on 21st October, a collection of stories by some fantastic authors and one I can not wait to read !
Imogen Hermes Gower author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is at the festival and I love her writing this is sure to be fantastic!
The Haunting – Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights.
Eight bestselling authors. A dazzling new collection of original haunted tales. This is your indispensable companion to the long, dark nights this October.
‘You won’t find a more thrilling winter read this year, or a better line up of writers who have mastered the gothic and ghostly.’ SARA COLLINS, Costa Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Featuring new and original tales from:
Bridget Collins Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding | Imogen Hermes Gowar Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock | Kiran Millwood Hargrave Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mercies | Andrew Michael Hurley Sunday Times bestselling author of The Loney | Jess Kidd International award-winning author of Things in Jars | Elizabeth Macneal Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory | Natasha Pulley Sunday Times bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street | Laura Purcell Award-winning author of The Silent Companions
Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a ghost story.
Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.
Taking you from the frosty Fens to the wild Yorkshire moors, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to the cold, dark nights.
So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of winters past . .
FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.
TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .
As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.
After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:
If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.
Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.
So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.
But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . .
About the author
Emily Bell grew up in Dublin and moved to London after university. She has had various jobs including tour guide, bookseller and pub singer, and now writes full time. She lives in north London with her husband and daughter.
Thank you to Kallie at Michael Joseph for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
It is no news to anyone who knows me that I love a Christmas book so I was delighted to be invited to the tour, poor Norah her mother has decided to go on a retreat for Christmas leaving her with nowhere to go.
This opportunity makes her think about Andrew a guy she met in Italy years before in 2009 and they had a pact that if they were at a loose end on Christmas Eve 2019 they would meet in Dublin. She knows that this is ridiculous and that nothing will come of it but what does she have to lose !
She persuades her friend Joe to go with her as he is also on his own for Christmas just in case it all goes wrong. The book takes us on her journey and uncovers plenty of hidden truths along the way.
I loved this book as soon as I started it, it was warm and inviting , it was Christmassy, it has snow and romance everything you could ask for in a festive read.
Allie, Stacie, Diana, Emily and Gail have been by each other’s sides for as long as they can remember. The Fierce Five. Best friends forever. But growing up has meant growing apart. And little white lies have grown into devastating secrets.
When Gail invites the increasingly estranged friends to reunite at her Scottish cabin, it could be the opportunity to mend old wounds and heal the cracks in their friendship. But when a freak snowstorm rocks the cabin and one of the girls is found dead on the ice, their weekend away becomes a race against time – and each other – to get off the mountain alive.
And in the end, whose story can you trust, when everything was founded on lies to begin with?
A rip-roaring psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming – perfect for fans of Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party and Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood…
Carys Jones is a thriller writer based in Shropshire where she lives with her husband, daughter and dog.
When she’s not writing she can often be found indulging two of her greatest passions – either walking round the local woodland or catching up on all things Disney related.
Thank you to Orion Dash for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the e-book in return for a fair and honest review.
Five friends in a Scottish cabin they had been close but they have drifted apart over the years one of the friends Gail owns the cabin and wants them all to reunite. Is this a good idea or are there reasons for the distance. Even on the train ride up you can feel the tension and Diana and Emily chose not to travel up with them. There is a rivalry and you wonder why they are all coming together at all. When they arrive a snowstorm hits what else could go wrong ?
I loved the suspense in this book from the start you can tell the friendships are toxic and from the title gives us a clue. However I am not revealing anymore about the plot except to say expect the unexpected and you will not be disappointed. The setting is bleak and I love a book where people are stranded some of my favourites, The Hunting Party, Sleep and Then There Were None all have this desperate and locked room situation which is a perfect read for cold winter nights.
An annual backpacking trip has deadly consequences in a chilling new novel from the bestselling author of The Lost Night and The Herd.
Emily is having the time of her life–she’s in the mountains of Chile with her best friend, Kristen, on their annual reunion trip, and the women are feeling closer than ever. But on the last night of their trip, Emily enters their hotel suite to find blood and broken glass on the floor. Kristen says the cute backpacker she’d been flirting with attacked her, and she had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Even more shocking: The scene is horrifyingly similar to last year’s trip, when another backpacker wound up dead. Emily can’t believe it’s happened again–can lightning really strike twice?
Back home in Wisconsin, Emily struggles to bury her trauma, diving head-first into a new relationship and throwing herself into work. But when Kristen shows up for a surprise visit, Emily is forced to to confront their violent past. The more Kristen tries to keep Emily close, the more Emily questions her friend’s motives. As Emily feels the walls closing in on their coverups, she must reckon with the truth about her closest friend. Can she outrun the secrets she shares with Kristen, or will they destroy her relationship, her freedom–even her life?
About the author
Hi! I’m Andi, a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. My debut thriller, THE LOST NIGHT, received starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist and was optioned for TV by Mila Kunis and Cartel Entertainment. My second novel, THE HERD, was named a best book of 2020 by Real Simple, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, and CrimeReads. My third thriller, WE WERE NEVER HERE, is coming in July 2021 from Ballantine.
I’m also a journalist whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Marie Claire, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, USA Today, Elle, and many other outlets, and I’ve held editorial positions at Glamour, Psychology Today, and Self, among other titles.
Thank you to Kallie at Michael Joseph for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
From the outset of this gripping book you know that there is something not quite right.
Emily is still recovering from the trauma that happened in Cambodia on their last trip when it happens again. This time not to her but to Kristen with unfortunately the same consequences. Kirsten had previously said that she wanted to go travelling with Emily for six months but Emily has just started a relationship with Aaron and just wants to head home after this trip.
Because of what Kristen did for Emily on their last holiday she feels she must do the same. It’s fast paced and gruesome at times but clever, I enjoyed reading about the two women and their relationship after they return home. Their friendship is not all that it appears and it becomes clear that there are many secrets that the pair have.
After they return home Emily just wants to get on with her life and put the bad things behind her but Kristen has other ideas. She seems to have forgotten what happened to them but Emily can not.
This is a really exciting and compelling story and it has lots of surprises in store for the reader.
Thank you to Rachel at Rachels Random Resources for my invitation to the tour and for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.
About the book
When her dreams of young love were cruelly shattered, Nerissa Morgan found it hard to move on. Now, at forty-three, everyone around her is enjoying life while she’s just going through the motions. With her boss retiring and rumours of a new doctor coming in to take over the practice she manages, change is coming, whether she’s ready for it or not. Following the death of his beloved wife, Tom Nelson buried himself in work at his busy inner-London GP practice. When his teenage children find themselves in trouble at school, he realises he’s completely lost touch with them. Desperate to reconnect before it’s too late, he whisks his family away to the pretty seaside village of Mermaids Point determined to make a fresh start. But all is not as idyllic as it seems. With his predecessor reluctant to let go of the reins and the children as distant as ever, the last thing Tom needs is an undeniable attraction to the woman he unexpectedly finds himself sharing a roof with… Warm, escapist, feel-good and altogether brilliant story-telling from bestselling author Sarah Bennett. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley and Milly Johnson.
About the author
Author Bio – Sarah Bennett is the bestselling author of several romantic fiction trilogies including those set in Butterfly Cove and Lavender Bay. Born and raised in a military family she is happily married to her own Officer and when not reading or writing enjoys sailing the high seas.
Nerissa has lived in Mermaids Point her whole life and as a young woman her dreams were shattered when her fiancé died. She works as a housekeeper for the local GP and is quite settled with her life, her family all live close by and she is popular and well liked by the community. When Doc says that he is going to retire she feels like everything has been pulled from beneath her, her home, Toby the dog she loves and she is bereft again.
Tom is a busy GP in London and is still mourning the loss of his wife and trying to manage looking after his two children Emily and Max . When they get into some bother at school and Tom decides they need a break and that he needs to look at his life as their father and how he supports them.
Tom tells Emily and Max that he is considering taking over the GP surgery and they ask Nerissa if she will stay but then something happens that escalates these changes and Nerissa has to have some heart to hearts with the Doc to find out where her future lies and she is not happy when she thinks she may have been set up.
Both Nerissa and Tom have suffered loss before so will they be able to overcome their fears and find happiness again. I loved Nerissa and I really wanted her to find happiness after such a long time, it was a joy to return to Mermaids Point and revisit some of the characters I had met before.
Warm, cosy and wonderful Sarah’s books are just perfect to hunker down with on a rainy autumn day.