horror

All posts tagged horror

The Devil Aspect – Craig Russell

Published March 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

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 

Prague, 1935: Viktor Kosárek, 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.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Clara Diaz and Constable, an imprint of Little Brown Publishers for getting in touch via email and providing me with a complimentary digital copy of The Devil Aspect via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. After reading that incredible synopsis, I couldn’t help but be excited to read this novel, the first of Craig Russell’s work that I’ve come across and now I’ve discovered him, definitely won’t be the last. This fascinating and occasionally unsettling work of fiction is part historical, part crime and mystery, part thriller with a drop of horror thrown into this heady mixture of genres to make it a story that I still find myself thinking about weeks after finishing it.

Craig Russell, author of The Devil Aspect.

You don’t need to know anything extra about this novel save what is in the synopsis above. In fact, if you’ve already skipped the synopsis and headed straight to my thoughts, I might even boldly suggest that you go into this novel knowing as little as possible. This isn’t because the synopsis gives away spoilers but because I read the synopsis a long while before I actually physically started the book and had forgotten much of what the novel encompassed. This meant that the juicy little surprises revealed throughout the narrative came as a welcome shock compared to if I had been overly familiar prior to starting my journey into Russell’s delectable writing. All you really need to know is that it’s the story of a psychiatrist in the 1930’s who begins work at a Prague asylum harbouring incredibly dangerous prisoners who will never be released back into the general public. He is investigating new medicinal and hypnotic methods into unravelling the evil deeds that they have done with the hope that he can make them better people as a result.

Prague, 1935 – the setting for The Devil Aspect.

Image from: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/62768988526418513/?lp=true

That’s The Devil Aspect in a nutshell. However, you can’t really put this book into a nice little box and wrap a bow around it. It’s about so much more than that. It explores the unpredictability of madness, the power of the human brain, the danger of psychopaths, the difference between evil and good and how folklore and superstition can be used against already fragile and vulnerable individuals to take advantage. It’s definitely a thought-provoking read that made me consider how frightening the human mind can be, especially as we don’t know half of what it’s capable of OR how the terrifying way in which our memory can fail/change, sometimes without our conscious knowledge that it has occurred.

I’m not usually too bothered about graphic events in a work of fiction but holy hell, some parts of this really were brutal – Russell definitely doesn’t shy away from detail. I’m sure all I need to mention is Jack The Ripper for you the reader, to understand what I’m alluding to? As an aside, I would have been interested to see the fascist angle in this book to be explored in more depth however I completely understand why the author didn’t do this. He has SO many irons in the fire with what he chooses to write about and perhaps another thread to the story would have been slightly too much to deal with. I was a perfectly willing and happy participant to the surprises and shocks I received throughout The Devil Aspect and will absolutely be seeking out more of the author’s work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Book Tag – Books Beginning With W.I.N.T.E.R.

Published February 8, 2019 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and hope you’re all well! Today I’m celebrating Winter as part of my seasonal book tag. I was actually meant to do this tag in December but had a major blogging slump and had to postpone it for a little while but as we’ve had a little snow recently here in the UK, it finally seemed like the perfect time.

I came up with this idea after seeing one of my favourite book tubers, Lauren from Lauren And The Books do a video at Christmas. She took each letter of the word CHRISTMAS and presented a title from her bookshelves that began with that letter. I’m going to nab that great idea and today I will be taking each letter of the word SUMMER and showing you a book from my TBR that begins with that letter which I hope to get round to very soon.

Check out my books beginning with S.P.R.I.N.G. HERE my books beginning with S.U.M.M.E.R. HERE and my books beginning with A.U.T.U.M.N. HERE

So without further ado, let’s get on with it!

W

What’s it all about?:

Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born.

When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or “Titch,” is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.

He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Titch abandons everything to save him.

What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life, one which will propel him further across the globe.

From the sultry cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again–and asks the question, what is true freedom?

I was sent a copy of this book by my lovely blogging bestie, Janel from Keeper Of Pages when she was sent two copies. That beautiful synopsis really draws me in and I’m also intrigued as it was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year (2018).

I

What’s it all about?:

A supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

This book was also a lovely gift from one of my blogger friends, Stuart from Always Trust In Books who I buddy read with on a regular basis. I’m sorry Stu, I still haven’t got to it yet but hopefully at some point this year! 😦

N

What’s it all about?:

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED? 

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

I’ve been an avid fan of Cara Hunter since her first two books in this series, Close To Home and In The Dark. No Way Out is the third book in the series and it comes out later this month. I’m so excited to get to it and a big thank you to Penguin Random House for sending it my way!

T

What’s it all about?:

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

This is the second book in the Winternight trilogy and even though the third one is now out, the second one is STILL sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. Sigh! I must try and get to it this year.

E

What’s it all about?:

An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist 

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and their story begins. It will be a love story but also a story about war and a world in crisis, about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Before too long, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to leave their homeland. When the streets are no longer useable and all options are exhausted, this young couple will join the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . .

This is another one of those books that was nominated for the Man Booker prize back in 2017 and has been sitting on my shelves for quite some time! I’ve now heard mixed reviews since it was released and it has made me slightly wary of bumping it up my TBR. 

R

What’s it all about?:

Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

Red Clocks will definitely be getting read this year – hooray! Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader and I have chosen it as one of our (many) buddy reads and so this WILL be happening at some point. I can’t wait. 

Here ends my Books Beginning With W.I.N.T.E.R! What I’d love to know from you guys is if you’ve read any of these books before and what you thought? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you’d like to do your own books of W.I.N.T.E.R. from your TBR, I’d love to see them so please feel free.

Hope you all have a cosy Winter (what’s left of it anyway)!

Love Beth xx

Banned Books 2019 – JANUARY READ – Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

Published January 28, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Stories you’ll never forget—just try—from literature’s favorite transgressive author

Representing work that spans several years, Make Something Up is a compilation of 21 stories and one novella (some previously published, some not) that will disturb and delight. The absurdity of both life and death are on full display; in “Zombies,” the best and brightest of a high school prep school become tragically addicted to the latest drug craze: electric shocks from cardiac defibrillators. In “Knock, Knock,” a son hopes to tell one last off-color joke to a father in his final moments, while in “Tunnel of Love,” a massage therapist runs the curious practice of providing ‘relief’ to dying clients. And in “Expedition,” fans will be thrilled to find to see a side of Tyler Durden never seen before in a precursor story to Fight Club.

Funny, caustic, bizarre, poignant; these stories represent everything readers have come to love and expect from Chuck Palahniuk. They have all the impact of a sharp blow to the solar plexus, with considerable collateral damage to the funny bone.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the first banned book in our series for 2019! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

FEBRUARY: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass– Philip Pullman

MARCH: Uncle Bobby’s Wedding– Sarah S. Brannen

APRIL: We All Fall Down- Robert Cormier

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

First published: 2015

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2016 (source)

Reasons: profanity, sexual explicitness and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As this collection was first published only a few years ago now, my answers for the first two questions in this post are going to be similar as it’s a relatively recent release. I have to be honest and say I had a really hard time reading this book and am now having an even tougher time trying to answer these questions. If you follow our Banned Books series I think you’ll probably realise that I don’t think any book should be challenged or banned however if it were a situation within a school library, perhaps access should be monitored when we think about more controversial books. However, I haven’t read that many banned books in this series so far where I think access should be limited – perhaps apart from the graphic novel Saga in a primary school situation. This is one of those cases where I think (in my personal opinion) that Stories You Can’t Unread isn’t particularly suitable in an educational setting. That is not to say I agree with it being challenged or banned, I think I’ve already made my opinion clear on that but with this collection, I can unfortunately see why parents might have issues with it if their child brought it home from the library.

CHRISSI: In an educational setting, I can totally understand why it’s challenged/banned. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable with teenagers reading this book. I, myself, felt very uncomfortable through several of the stories. I think the author has an incredibly aggressive writing style, that I couldn’t get on with. Would I want it to be banned in general? No. The author clearly has an audience and I imagine so many would enjoy his writing. Me, however? No. It’s certainly not for me. I could barely read some of them because they were incredibly twisted. I like twisted but there’s a line, for me personally, and I think this book crossed that line.

How about now?

BETH: Should Stories You Can’t Unread be challenged/banned? Well, no I believe people should be able to access all works of literature if they want and not be subject to rules or regulations that prevent them having that freedom of choice. Do I agree with the reasons that it was challenged? Well, not agree but it’s one of those rare times that I do understand the potential problems that this collection has raised. I don’t have a particular issue with profanity but I know a lot of people do and this collection doesn’t hold back on that count. The same is true for sexuality which can be incredibly graphic in some of the stories and not necessarily to everyone’s taste as some of the tales are quite twisted regarding sex. I’m not easily offended and the stories in this book didn’t shock me so as to speak but I did find myself reading some of them with a little bit of a grimace nevertheless. Especially the stallion story – say no more!

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I’m not easily offended. Yet, there’s something about this book that didn’t sit right for me. There’s too way much content that could offend others and the writing style just made me feel uneasy. I know the author makes you want to feel that way and he was highly successful with this book. I don’t think any book should be banned because I believe every person should be able to read what they want. However, challenged in education? Yes.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I think the thing is with Chuck Palahniuk is that he likes being shocking and deliberately controversial. You have to take the stories you read in here with a pinch of salt, open your mind as wide as it could possibly go and prepare to be a little bit grossed out by what you’re about to read. If that’s not your thing and you are sensitive or easily offended, this collection definitely isn’t for you. I like to think of myself as quite open-minded and I only had a very strong reaction to a couple of the stories in this book but my problem was that there only seemed to be a few pieces that I genuinely felt interested in. The rest of the stories just didn’t seem as well constructed and none of them (even the intriguing ones) ended satisfactorily which was just frustrating for me as a reader. I’ve still to read some of the author’s novels but as a short story writer, I just don’t think he’s for me.

CHRISSI: I didn’t like it at all. I don’t often come out and say that. I usually look for positives, however, for me, I felt too uncomfortable and I didn’t enjoy the author’s tone.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!- I couldn’t get into the author’s writing style and certainly won’t be reading more from him.

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COMING UP IN FEBRUARY ON BANNED BOOKS: Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #14 – Stephen King Shelf 1

Published January 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  7 8 9 10 11 12 and 13.

Anyway – on with the tag, it’s time for the third shelf of my second bookshelf and we’re looking at the middle part of the image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Oh dear. If you’re looking at the image and can’t guess why it’s organised the way it is, I’m not helping you here!! Only joking, there are rare few authors on my shelves that get an entire two shelves worth of space to themselves but Stephen King is one of those giants. He was the first author I fell in love with and although I don’t give every single one of his books five stars, I always know I’m going to get a corking story when I open a book of his.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

Ooh, I could tell you so many! I’m going to go with the very first King I read and that was IT when I was about fourteen years old. I’m not ashamed to admit it scared the crap out of me! I have a fond memory of being back at my parents in Germany from boarding school in Scotland and I used to accompany my mum to work so I wouldn’t be alone in the house. I was perfectly happy just sitting in their tea room and reading my book until my mum had a break or she’d finish and we’d head home together. Well, I was sat in the tea room listening to every bump and peculiar noise because I was TERRIFIED. And this was during the day too! From then on, I was a die hard fan and when my copy of IT got damaged, I simply had to buy a replacement copy with the exact same cover as the one I had when I was fourteen years old. A new version just would not do!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

This question really isn’t fair. Stephen King is my God so why would I do that to myself? Oh, alright, if I have to choose? The one at the far right which he wrote with Peter Straub – The Talisman. It’s not my favourite of his collaborations but is better than the second book in the duology, Black House which disappeared from my shelves a little while ago because I had to be honest how much I disliked it. 😦

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

ALL OF THEM. Okay seriously, apart from IT it would be Lisey’s Story because I have a signed hardback copy of that on the second SK shelf that I won’t read because it’s that precious to me!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Hmmm. It would either be Salem’s Lot or Needful Things, both of which are my original copies and are looking very battered and sorry for themselves. The latter book is such an under-rated SK book in my opinion, if you haven’t read it and like King, please do, it’s fabulous.

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Newest addition would be The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams which is one of King’s latest short story collections. I haven’t read it yet (I know, shock horror!) but waited ever so patiently for it to come out in paperback. Even though I think I prefer a hardback, I’m really trying not to buy them at the moment as I have a severe space issue on my shelves and they’re just so damn heavy and annoying when you move house!

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I’m definitely most excited to re-read Rose Madder. I’ve only read it once and that was about fifteen years ago but I remember being absolutely gripped throughout.

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I think I mentioned in my last Shelfie by Shelfie that this bookshelf probably has the most “objects” on it so I’ll tell you about a couple of my favourites. The first are two of my candles. The Yankee Candle, Crackling Wood Fire was a present for Christmas last year and the Mint Mandarin Bitters was a present to myself from TK Maxx as I wanted an Autumnal/Winter Candle and thought this one looked and smelled perfect. It’s probably going to be the next candle I burn after I finish my current Gingerbread one from Flamingo Candles as I don’t think I can wait until next year. I’m a bit strange in that I like to burn particular candles in particular seasons so in my next Shelfie by Shelfie you’ll see my Spring range!! 😀

The second object(s) are two very precious items to me. The first is a glass elephant from Malta where I went to with my fellow blogger and beloved sister Chrissi Reads on a reading holiday. We’ve been there twice now and both times we’ve had the most amazing, relaxing holiday. I think this elephant is from our first visit and we both bought each other one so we’d always have a reminder of our time there. The second object is a bracelet from my Gran. I don’t really wear much jewellery but this is absolutely gorgeous and very “me!”

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Perhaps that I love Stephen King? Yep….I think that’s all!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D and 1E

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE  #2 HERE. and #3 HERE

Jennifer @ Tar Heel Reader Shelfie #1, 2, 3, 4  5, 6, and 7

Paula @ Book Jotter Shelfie #1 and 2.

Gretchen @ Thoughts Become Words Shelfie HERE.

Kathy @ Pages Below The Vaulted Sky Shelfie by Shelfie #1 HERE.

Jenn, Eden and Caitlynn @ Thrice Read Share A Shelfie HERE.

Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog Shelfie by Shelfie 1 and 2.

CJ @ Random Melon Reads Shelfie by Shelfie HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie, Stuart, Jennifer, Paula, Gretchen, Kathy, Jenn, Eden, Caitlynn, Nicki and CJ for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag or you’re one of the people above and I’ve missed out one of your shelfies please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #15 Stephen King Shelf 2.

Blog Tour – Changeling (Six Stories #3) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing the free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ve become a huge fan of Matt Wesolowski’s work after thoroughly enjoying both novels in the Six Stories series – Six Stories and the prequel, Hydra and was so delighted to get my spot on this blog tour that I might have given a very loud “whoop!” Now, I’ve sat down three times and tried to compose my thoughts about this novel for you all and each time I’ve failed miserably. Does anyone else really struggle with talking about stand-out books like I do? I feel like there’s only so many adjectives I can use that adequately describe how fantastic this series is and with Changeling, I’m seriously running out of words. How does it stand out for me? The answer is, in every way possible. The structure, the writing style, the individuality, the imaginative (yet realistic) story-telling, the horror, the tension and the intense emotions that accompany this story that left me utterly enraptured.

Matt Wesolowski, author of Changeling, the third book in the Six Stories series.

One of the beautiful parts of this series, which follows the format of a true crime podcast hosted by Scott King, is that each novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I always love to start from the beginning of a series but if you pick up Changeling on a whim, you’re not going to be spoiled for anything which occurs in the previous two books. This particular episode of the podcast Six Stories focuses on the unsolved disappearance of a child, Alfie Marsden in the 1980’s and some peculiar goings-on in the forest where he was last seen. Once again, the author manages to combine elements of true crime, mystery, fantasy and horror so effortlessly and fluidly that it will have you questioning everyone and everything concerned and as Scott King interviews six different individuals connected with the Marsden case, slowly but surely, parts of the puzzle start to slot into place with unexpected and scandalous consequences.

Changeling is set near the English-Welsh border shown in purple on this particular map.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England%E2%80%93Wales_border

Matt Wesolowski is such a gifted story-teller and wordsmith that it’s always a genuine pleasure to sit down with one of his novels and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want this Six Stories series to ever end. I may have mentioned in a previous review that I was initially wary when I heard this series was structured as if you were reading a podcast transcript and I really wasn’t sure if it would work but believe me, it works like a dream. The author manages to capture the drama and the authenticity of real people living normal lives with an other-worldly, more fantastical element. It sits so neatly and comfortably that if you were a previous paranormal sceptic, you’d start looking over your shoulder and listening a bit more to those bumps in the night. There were occasions in Changeling where some of the scenes or even suggestive moments made me quite glad I was reading this book a) in the daytime b) around other people. I’ll certainly never listen to tapping again the same way….that’s for sure!

With this latest offering in the Six Stories series, I feel Matt has “tapped” (sorry, couldn’t resist!) into a far more deeper, emotional component of his style which I fully welcomed and embraced. I appreciated the more vulnerable, heart-breaking aspects of the narrative and although it made for incredibly difficult reading at times, it’s all completely worth it by the end, I assure you. I genuinely believe that the brilliance of this series just cannot be rivalled and even potential copy-cats would have a tough job emulating all the aspects that the author manages to bring together to make this such a unique, thought-provoking and unforgettable reading experience. Will there be more? I really do hope so but even if there isn’t, Matt Wesolowski still has an immovable fan in me for whatever he decides to do next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror
story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a
winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

or on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Changeling will be published on 24th January 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Changeling on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40885780-changeling

Link to Changeling on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Changeling-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1912374579/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547922413&sr=8-2&keywords=changeling

The Three (The Three #1) – Sarah Lotz

Published January 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?

The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.

Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…

What did I think?:

I’m finally starting to get on top of my backlog of reviews after I took a much needed break from blogging over the month of December whilst in the middle of an enormous blogging slump. I’m feeling that old motivation to shout about books again and what better book to shout about than one I had the pleasure to read with blogging bestie, Janel from Keeper Of Pages? The Three was our November buddy read and one we both ended up feeling puzzled about because of its relatively low Goodreads ratings. I first came across Sarah Lotz in her stupendous novel The White Road but had The Three on my shelves gathering dust for quite some time. Thank goodness for my buddy Janel who also had the same problem and we resolved to read it together and decide for ourselves how we both felt.

Janel and I have quite similar tastes in books which of course, makes our reading experiences all the more special and every conversation I have with her is always exciting, thought-provoking (and as with all good friends) really makes me cackle with laughter. However, we ended up finishing The Three kind of dumb-founded and at times, lost for words as to why this novel hasn’t received higher ratings from readers. This was such an immersive read that both fascinated and frightened me from the very first page and whilst perhaps reading it whilst on a plane to Budapest wasn’t the best idea (!!) it certainly made for a more visceral and nail-biting adventure that will be hard to forget.

Sarah Lotz, author of The Three.

Janel and I have recently finished The Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel and I’m not sure if we chose this latest read sub-consciously but on our first conversation for The Three, I could hardly wait to blurt out how similar I found the structure of the novel. Of course, the writing style of Lotz and Neuvel are very different, she tends to edge more towards horror/dystopian and he is much more science fiction but I’m referring to the way both novels are set out. They both feature short, snappy chapters that are told in the form of interviews, newspaper/book excerpts, diary entries etc and not only do I adore this way of telling the story but I find it brings a whole new and unique flavour to the narrative overall. We initially hear from a woman writing a book about the strange events regarding the multiple, mysterious plane crashes but, more specifically, this turns into a story about the strange sole survivors of the mentioned crashes. They all happen to be children and chillingly, all three appear to be a bit “odd” after the event. Is it the trauma of the crash? Or is something a lot more sinister going on here?

Do I recommend reading The Three whilst on a flight? Depends how vivid your imagination is!

I have to admit, it took me a little while to get to grips with the vast array of characters we are presented with in The Three and for a while, I wondered if it was for this reason that some readers had an issue with it. After a period of settling in however, I realised this is absolutely part of the beauty of this novel – you never know whom you’re going to hear from next, what they’re going to say and how this will impact on the narrative. Lotz is a whizz at creating a silent build-up of tension and those quieter moments of the story are clear evidence of her brilliance. I got genuine chills down my spine from reading the initial few pages and at points, had to close the book and take a couple of deep breaths before I could continue reading.

As I’ve already mentioned, there’s such a grand variety and diversity of characters to enjoy in this novel and they’re all individual and beautifully readable in their own ways. No, they may not all be likeable but is this really necessary in a story? For me, I don’t have to like a character to be invested in their story and to be honest, I find the thought processes of characters I don’t particularly gel with MORE interesting than the cookie-cutter, run of the mill “nice” person. In The Three, we’re got some wonderful personalities including a religious fanatic Len, that makes his own prophesies about the plane crashes, the child survivors and what that means for the future of the world. Then we’ve got Paul Craddock, the uncle of one of the survivors whose journey from the beginning just prior to the plane crash versus where he ends up I found to be particularly intriguing.

Best of all, The Three is set in a range of different places from the USA and the UK to Japan and South Africa and as we move across these different continents, you get a real sense of how each individual country is coping with how the world has changed in the aftermath of these disasters. I’m not hundred percent certain but the political state of the world at the moment in addition with some of the topics covered in this novel may have affected how certain readers felt about it. Perhaps things are a little too sensitive and close to the bone if they might actually be happening (or threaten to be happening) right now? Happily, I feel I can divorce myself from that sort of thing and just enjoy the novel for what it is – a damn good, intensely gripping yarn that I found more insightful and more horrifying purely because the events that take place could really happen in the world at this moment in time. What’s more scary than that?

Thank you so much to Janel @ Keeper Of Pages for another excellent buddy read. We’re very much looking forward to completing this duology with Day Four by Sarah Lotz as our January read. Check out Janel’s fantastic review of The Three HERE.

Also look out for our December buddy read review of Only Human (The Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel coming soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Previous buddy reads with Janel @ Keeper Of Pages 

The Fireman by Joe Hill – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

The Girls by Emma Cline – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel – check out my review HERE and hers HERE.

 

Blog Tour – Doll House by Ashley Lister

Published September 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Following the death of his best friend, author Ben Haversham is crippled by a terminal case of writer’s block. The isolation of his agent’s remote cottage, nestled in an out-of-the-way village, seems like the ideal location for him to rekindle his creativity.

Except, Sandalwood village, with its curious museum the ‘Doll House’, is not as idyllic as it first appears.

There is a history to Sandalwood. There are nefarious plots and dark secrets held by the sinister souls who reside in Sandalwood. And there are dark and dangerous characters determined to keep those secrets.

Even if his own ghosts hadn’t followed him to Sandalwood, Ben discovers that he would still have been haunted by the many malevolent spirits that reside in the village beneath the shadow of the Doll House.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Caffeine Nights Publishing for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. I’m a huge fan of all things horror (raised as a child on Point Horror then graduating to James Herbert, Dean Koontz and Stephen King) but I’ve read surprisingly little of it in recent years. I’m not sure why, I seem to have difficulties finding anything that stands out in the genre, or wins both the popularity contest and legions of fans which usually attracts my attention on social media. Well, I’m so glad that this was brought to my attention because as soon as I read that synopsis, I knew it was time to dip my toes into the genre again and find out whether I still had the strength of stomach to deal with it.

Do you need a strong stomach for Doll House? Absolutely. It’s incredibly graphic in points both in horrific descriptions of violence and in one case, sexually graphic so if you’re prone to a bit of queasiness, just warning you now. However, I was delighted that my stomach seemed to be as steady as I remembered and I found this a fascinating, disturbing and incredibly memorable novel in the way that parts of it will be demonstrably difficult to forget.

Ashley Lister, author of Doll House.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into the synopsis as the blurb above does a brilliant job of that all by itself. All I will say is that it involves a cottage where an author is working on his next novel, some terrifying goings-on with dolls, clowns, the supernatural and some very shady, untrustworthy and terrifying characters that may have ulterior motives and not necessarily our main character, Ben Haversham’s best interests at heart. The sense of isolation and unpleasant nature of the narrative is only heightened by the fact that Ben finds himself completely trapped, unable to advance beyond a certain point or indeed, exit the village at all. Additionally, how is it that Ben’s novel appears to be writing itself whilst he is sleeping and has no recollection of writing at all? Even more shockingly, what is the real purpose behind Ben’s habitation in the cottage? Is it to write his next book or is there something much more forbidding going on in Sandalwood?

Wow. This was a ride I really wasn’t expecting. Having had no prior experience with the author’s work I’m always curious about what to expect, particularly in the horror genre. I like to think of myself as being quite difficult to scare although I must confess, as I get older I do feel slightly more vulnerable to any “bumps in the night,” within a narrative! There were moments in this novel that I was genuinely petrified and was glad to have been reading it in the daylight hours and not alone in bed, particularly when our main character is so isolated and cut off from “normal” society himself. It’s a fairly short novel at 229 pages in the paperback edition and although it’s easy to consume in one or two sittings, at the same time it feels the perfect length for what the author was attempting to achieve. It’s definitely a novel that has made me more keen to branch out in the horror genre and see what I can find and of course, to read another book by Ashley Lister.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Ashley Lister is a prolific author, having written more than fifty full length titles and over a hundred short stories. Aside from regularly blogging about writing erotica, Ashley also lectures in creative writing and hosts open mic poetry events in Blackpool, Lancashire. Doll House is Ashley Lister’s second horror novel from Caffeine Nights, following on the success of the much acclaimed Raven and Skull.

Website : http://www.ashleylister.co.uk/

Twitter: @ashleylister

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Caffeine Nights for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Doll House will be published by Caffeine Nights on 28th June 2018 and is available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Doll House on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41542428-doll-house

Link to Doll House on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Doll-House-Ashley-Lister/dp/1910720933/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536864327&sr=8-1&keywords=doll+house+ashley+lister