Beast by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview #BlogTour (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Beast #DeadFamous #SixStories

Beast Final jacket

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged cult, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, and the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire…

So excited to be on the blog tour today for Beast by Matt Wesolowski, the fourth book in his Six Stories series. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

So hopefully my mini reviews of the first three books in the Six Stories series yesterday will have whetted your appetite for this one. (If you missed that post, you can find it here.) Having read the first three, I was champing at the bit to get to this one, knowing how much I had enjoyed them and then, reading that blurb! It sounds fantastic, right? Who wouldn’t want to dive right in?

The central theme of this book is extremely current and relevant in the present day, as it deals with the quest for internet fame and the lengths people will go to to get it. It really struck me how much of an issue this is while I was reading the book because, at the same time, I was enjoying the half term holiday in Wales with my five daughters/step-daughters aged between 12 and 16. They are all, to different degrees, obsessed with the app Tik-Tok, how many followers they have, how many followers you need to start earning money from your videos, learning the dances, and talking about people who are ‘Tik-Tok famous,’ and live in something called the ‘Hype House’ without their parents. It is all double Dutch to me but it is actually quite terrifying that this is something that young people strive to achieve these days, such superficiality of ambition. The author has captured this moment in the zeitgeist perfectly and written a story that ramps up this mild unease that I was feeling listening to them to the power of a thousand. It is a morality tale for our times.

The setting for the book in a grim, forgotten town on the bleak North Eastern coast during the worst winter storms in living memory. A more barren and hopeless place you could not imagine, and it is the perfect foil to the story because, what else is there for the young people of this town to aspire to outside of the bright thrall of the internet and the shiny, fake worlds that social media tantalises them with? The reality of their immediate surroundings are a decaying town that no one cares about and where there are no jobs. There is no hope for them but escape, either by moving away or by moving into the virtual world. Like the previous books, Matt manages to bring the location to vivid life, I could picture it perfectly, and imbue it with menace and darkness on every page. The darkness punches out of the page and squeezes a fist around the reader’s heart, and never eases its grip for a minute until the final page. I was almost breathless throughout my reading of the book, inhaled it in practically a single sitting and my heart was pounding the whole time. He really is a master storyteller, holding the reader in the palm of his hand as he plays deftly with every emotion in his arsenal, whilst making you think at the same time.

The plot was labyrinthine, with the pendulum of suspicion swinging wildly from suspect to suspect as every chapter unfolds. The format of presenting this as a podcast and interviewing six people with different roles in the story continues to work brilliantly. I was particularly impressed this time as Matt manages to tell the story without having access to any of the four main protagonists, the victims and the three convicted killers. All the people we hear from are on the outskirts. Or are they? Once again, things are not always what they seem and the reader’s perspective changes with the turn of every page, as the light shines on the prism from different sides and casts a new shadow with every twist. Again, there is the hint of the supernatural with the legend of the Ergarth Vampire and the allegation of cult activities factoring into the murder. But, as always, things are never what they seem and this story takes probably the most dramatic of turns so far.

This is my favourite of Matt’s books so far and, given how much I loved the others, that is a high bar to cross. This is a writer who is going from strength to strength, you can see the confidence in the format and his writing increasing with every novel. Aside from the masterful writing, the ominous atmosphere that seeped from the pages and into my bones, the fascinating character studies and clever and absorbing plot, this book brings to light a very real and very scary trend amongst the younger generation obsessed with online fame and the dangers that this can bring. It really made me stop and take notice of what he was saying, more so than any of the previous books, but in an entertaining way. This is no schlocky, superficial thriller, this is a book that has something to say that is worth listening to.

How long do I have to wait for the next one?

Beast is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Beast is taking a month-long tour with Random Things Tours so do make sure you check out some of the other reviews written by my fabulous fellow bloggers:

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About the Author

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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 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 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Connect with Matt:

Website: Beyond The North Waves

Facebook: Matt Wesolowski

Twitter: @ConcreteKraken

Instagram: @mattjwesolowski

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Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson #BookReview #BlogTour (@davewatsonbooks) @WildWolfPublish @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TalesOfWhatTheF*ck

Tales of the What the Fck

I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Well, I stepped well outside my comfort zone with this book, but that is always one of the pleasures of book blogging, reading things you would not normally pick up. This is definitely a book that would not usually find its way in to my reading schedule, and I’m still not 100% sure what I just read, but it certainly shook me out of any reading complacency I may have found myself in!

This book is extremely hard to categorise, such a random mix of flash fiction, poetry and short stories across a very diverse bunch of genres, with not much to link them except the perverse mind that wrote them all. And I think that the mind which came up with all of these may be something we don’t want to dwell on too much, because a lot of the stories are very dark and twisted!

Any one of a squeamish disposition should steer well clear, along with anyone offended by swearing. However, readers of a more robust and curious nature may wish to dip a toe in and explore this unique compendium of dark tales. If you do, you will encounter the unexpected at every turn, come face to face with criminals, psychopaths, aliens and much, much more around every corner, and wonder how you ended up where you find yourself.

The big draw for this book is that parts of it are very funny, if your sense of humour takes a turn towards the black side, and there are a lot of wry observations on the vagaries of modern life and relationships. This book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly different, and the author is obviously talented, lending a hand to a lot of different styles. One for those times when you fancy stretching the boundaries of your experience and opening your mind a little.

Tales of What The F*ck is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for the reactions of other bloggers to this book.

Tales of the WTF Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

Connect with Dave:

Facebook: Dave Watson Books

Twitter: @davewatsonbooks

The Hive by Jane Holland #BookReview #BlogTour (@janeholland1) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #TheHive

The Hive

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening up the blog tour today for The Hive by Jane Holland. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you check out the giveaway detailed below the review.

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Scarred by fire from infancy, with a persistent stammer, Charlotte has always been in the shadow of her glamorous theatrical parents. So it’s a shock when her mother commits suicide.

Left to care for her sick father in the dark maze of her childhood home, Charlotte begins to unravel. First, there’s the mysterious arrival of a box of dead bees. Then buzzing noises in the attic. People are watching her. Listening to her.

Everyone thinks she’s losing her mind. But an old photo suggests another, more sinister possibility …

This is the first thriller I have read by Jane Holland but it definitely won’t be the last because this one was a gripping, chilling menace of a book that I simply could not put down.

Right from the opening pages, this book has a dark, oppressive feel that creeps insidiously off the page to wind itself around the mind of the reader and pull them in to the dark world that Charlotte inhabits. She arrives home from a trip to Moscow to find a scene of devastation at the home she shares with her aloof mother and a father who is increasingly lost in a world of his own, unable to help her. Scarred by an accident when young, living in isolation with her parents in an old rambling house, taking walks in the fascinating but morbid confines of Highgate Cemetery, her only light and support comes from her Russian boyfriend, Alex. But Charlotte can’t quite bring herself to believe than even the handsome Alexei is truly there for her, as he seems to have a dark past of his own.

The author does a fantastic job of making Charlotte a sympathetic character to carry us through this story. I really felt her isolation and desperation throughout the book, her insecurity and self-doubt, and her growing fear as events throughout the story get more and more strange and terrifying. The plot is very devious and twisted and I felt myself with an unexpected sense of desperation to find out what was going and and how it was going to end. I read the book almost in one sitting and felt unfeasibly annoyed when I had to put it down to carry out the mundane but necessary tasks of the day.

This is a book which walks an interesting tightrope between thriller and horror, and not something I would particularly pick up myself as a normal read. However, I was totally gripped from beginning to end, and found this a very rewarding reading experience which I would be very happy to repeat in the near future.

The Hive is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the stops as detailed on the poster below:

The Hive Full Tour Banner

Giveaway

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of The Hive, click on the Rafflecopter link below (UK entries only):

Rafflecopter

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

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Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and novelist. Her thriller GIRL NUMBER ONE hit #1 in the UK Kindle store in 2015, and again in 2018, catapulting her into a life of crime. She’s published dozens of novels with major publishing houses under various pseudonyms, including: Beth Good, Victoria Lamb, Elizabeth Moss, Hannah Coates, and JJ Holland, and also self-publishes.

Connect with Jane:

Facebook: Jane Holland Author

Twitter: @janeholland1

Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz #BookReview #BlogTour (@JonathanJanz) @flametreepress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WolfLand #horror

Wolf Land Cover

Aside from a quaint amusement park, the small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.

The werewolf. 

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy resort town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent and the depraved. They’ll settle old scores and act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into nightmare. 

Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.    

Delighted to be taking part in my third blog tour of the week for the fabulous Flame Tree Press, and this one is for Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz. My thanks again to Anne Cater for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher for my proof copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Firstly, I must apologise for the lateness in posting this review today, events have overtaken me and I lost control of the timetable. I know we all have days like this so I hope you can forgive me. Now about the book…

Wow, what a read this is. I have never read anything by this author before, not being a huge reader of horror, but I have heard my fellow bloggers praising him as being an exciting voice in the genre and now I can see why. I don’t think I have ever read anything quite like this book before.

It might seem like a fairly straight forward premise, werewolf terrorises small town and turns a few people, but the story is way, way more complex and involved than that. Far from being a very basic horror story, it explores the basest nature of what drives us as human beings, our really, primordial desires and what would happen if we were stripped back to our most powerful instincts. Lots of food for thought.

In addition, Jonathan’s writing is very lyrical and descriptive, almost poetic in places, which is not something I expect particularly from horror, unless I am reading Stephen King who excites me as much with the beauty of his prose as the thrill of his stories, but I think this author may well match up to Mr King in this regard. There were phrases and images that really stood out to me from the writing as beautiful and insightful and something I wanted to savour for the pleasure of his use of language. This may well be me showing a certain literary snobbery towards horror that is underserved, and I apologise if this is an unwitting prejudice I have been harbouring as this book has proven that it is baseless.

That being said I must also point out that this in no way detracts from the fact that this is a full on horror story, without a shadow of a doubt. The author goes all out with the graphic gore, vividly and eloquently described. The violence is visceral and leaps of the page, grabbing you around the throat and shaking you for attention. In fact, the horror is made even more horrifying by the beauty and power of the prose, not less so. This really is not a book for anyone who is squeamish at all, so be warned. Die hard horror fans will absolutely love it.

I found the story compelling and fascinating and I was thoroughly absorbed and hooked by the story to a degree which again surprised me. I thought the juxtaposition of the horror against the innocence of the funfair was inspired; the whole thing just worked really well. Great characters, great plot. This is a dense read though, it took me a while to get through it in a way that really allowed me to savour everything about it, this is no insubstantial horror snack of a book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with a strong stomach, a love of language and someone looking for really great quality horror.

Wolf Land is out now and you can get a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for some alternative views of the book from my wonderful fellow bloggers:

Wolf Land Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. 

His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal. 

His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. 

Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. 

Connect with Jonathan:

Newsletter: Newsletter Sign Up

Facebook: Jonathan Janz

Twitter: @JonathanJanz

Instagram: @jonathan.janz

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Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk #BookReview #BlogTour (@Brain_Kirk) @flametreepress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WillHauntYou

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Today I am delighted to be taking part on the blog tour for Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Flame Tree Press for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Will Haunt You Cover

You don’t read the book. It reads you.

Rumors of a deadly book have been floating around the dark corners of the deep web. A disturbing tale about a mysterious figure who preys on those who read the book and subjects them to a world of personalized terror.

Jesse Wheeler―former guitarist of the heavy metal group The Rising Dead―was quick to discount the ominous folklore associated with the book. It takes more than some urban legend to frighten him. Hell, reality is scary enough. Seven years ago his greatest responsibility was the nightly guitar solo. Then one night when Jesse was blackout drunk, he accidentally injured his son, leaving him permanently disabled. Dreams of being a rock star died when he destroyed his son’s future. Now he cuts radio jingles and fights to stay clean.

But Jesse is wrong. The legend is real―and tonight he will become the protagonist in an elaborate scheme specifically tailored to prey on his fears and resurrect the ghosts from his past.

Jesse is not the only one in danger, however. By reading the book, you have volunteered to participate in the author’s deadly game, with every page drawing you closer to your own personalized nightmare. The real horror doesn’t begin until you reach the end.

That’s when the evil comes for you.

I don’t read a lot of horror, it’s not really my favourite genre, so I may not be best qualified to advise horror aficionados on how this compares to the best of the best. However, every now and again I do enjoy a bit of scary literature , Stephen King being a particular favourite, so I’ll do my best to review this book based on what I, as an occasional horror reader, thought of it.

The book starts out with a clever premise. If you read the book, you are going to be in all sorts of trouble. Of course, none of us believe that, do we? And human nature being the contrary way it is, we are always going to be more inclined to do something we’ve been told not to do, so read on we do. But a tiny part of us might just we wondering, what if this were real? That’s the genius hook. This is what the protagonist, Jesse, has done, before the start of the book. And then he finds himself in all kinds of said trouble, of course.

This book works on the basis that the person behind the book takes control of us once we have read it and then forces us to take part in a sinister game, culminating in us having to write another version of the book. Every person’s story and experience will be different, so every person’s book will be different and as soon as you start reading, there is no going back. Your version of the story will be different to Jessie’s but, once you have read what happens to him, you will be worried about what awaits you. It is a clever mind trip for sure.

This book is a mix of psychological, supernatural and horror and it really messes with your head. It is really hard to tell what is real and what isn’t, and the author does a great job of putting the reader in Jessie’s shoes (because, you know, now you have started reading, this is coming for you too!) and making you feel the confusion, disorientation and horror that he feels. The writing is very vivid, and very graphic. This author has a very twisted mind, which I am sure is considered an asset in the horror world!

I’ve never taken drugs, but I imagine this book reads like an extremely bad acid trip. It certainly scared me, I had a disturbed night’s sleep when I finished reading it and I’m still not managed to wrap my brain around everything that happened, particularly the ending. The book starts out fairly straight forwardly but gets more and more bizarre and nightmarish as you go through until you won’t know which way is up by the end. I’m sure fans of the Saw films would really enjoy the book, it has a similar vibe.

I’ve read horror books before that have really disturbed me greatly, to the point at which I wish I had not picked them up. Whilst being deeply unsettling, this book did not cross the line for me and I would feel safe recommending it to occasional horror readers such as myself, as well as anyone who really enjoys the genre.

Will Haunt You is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the tour poster below:

Will Haunt You Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Brian Kirk Author Picture

Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award® for Superior Achievement in a First Novel.

His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors, and received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation.

During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.

While he’s worked to make this bio sound as impressive as possible, he’s actually a rather humble guy who believes in hard work and big dreams. Feel free to connect with him through one of the following channels. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.

Connect with Brian:

Website: http://briankirkblog.com

Twitter: @Brian_Kirk

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Tempted by….Being Anne: Help The Witch by Tom Cox @cox_tom @Williams13Anne @unbounders #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #HelpTheWitch

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Inspired by our native landscapes, saturated by the shadows beneath trees and behind doors, listening to the run of water and half-heard voices, Tom Cox s first collection of short stories is a series of evocative and unsettling trips into worlds previously visited by the likes of M. R. James and E. F. Benson.

Railway tunnels, the lanes and hills of the Peak District, family homes, old stones, shreds fluttering on barbed wire, night drawing in, something that might be an animal shifting on the other side of a hedge: Tom has drawn on his life-long love of weird fiction, folklore and nature s unregarded corners to write a collection of stories that will delight fans old and new, and leave them very uneasy about turning the reading lamp off.

I know this is usually a Monday feature but yesterday was impossible so I’m sharing it today instead. Surprise! A change is as good as a rest, they say, and I’m relaxing into the Christmas holidays.

Anyway, today on Tempted by…. I have Help The Witch by Tom Cox and the review which inspired me to buy it was this one written by Anne Williams on her blog, Being Anne. Anne is a hugely respected and inspirational book blogger, who also talks quite openly about things going on in her life in general so you really feel like you get to know her through her blog. I have been lucky enough to meet her in person and she is as lovely as she comes across on the blog. her reviews are always very detailed and honest about what works in a book and what doesn’t, so I completely trust them. No flannel here!

This was the main draw of the review for me, the pulling out of the positives and the negatives; the emphasis on what worked for her and what didn’t; the quirkiness of the stories. I do like a short story collection that you can dip in and out of when you are short on time or don’t have the brain space to embark on a longer literary journey and these sound like something out of the ordinary. I’m very drawn to something a bit different, although I’m not sure I will read them late at night while I am on my own! This book was published by Unbounders and I have found that their unique publishing model have produced some very diverse and interesting books this year, including some of my favourite reads, so I am looking forward to dipping in to this over Christmas.

If, after reading Anne’s review, you would like to get your own copy of this book, you can buy it here. And please do visit Anne’s wonderful blog, Being Anne, and get to know her, I know you’ll love her too.

 

Tempted by….Zooloo’s Book Diary: Cotton Tale by E. C. Fisher @ECFisherAuthor @zooloo2008 #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #CottonTale

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A private jet violently crash-lands on a deserted island. Captain Newton and his stewardess Rebecca are reluctantly forced to band together with the Vanderbach family as a means of survival.

They soon discover the island holds a dark secret the mainland has kept hidden since the 70s. Something monstrous was genetically engineered nearly forty years ago that even nature couldn’t destroy. Now it stalks the group as they venture further into the jungle in search of rescue and escape.

Can the group of misfit survivors manage to work together to find a way off the island? As the tension, suspense, and horror rise, they realize time is not on their side … the ravenous creations are drawing closer, and their appetite is insatiable.

Two firsts on the Tempted by…. feature today, as this is the first time I have featured an e-book purchase and also the first time I have included a novella rather than a full-length novel, so well done for standing out from the crowd, Zoe! Today I have Cotton Tale, a short horror story by E. C. Fisher.

This book was brought to my awareness by this review by the lovely Zoe over on her blog, Zooloos’ Book Diary. When one of your favourite bloggers starts a review with ‘Holy Mother of OMFG!’, it makes me think that this might be a story I want to pick up and take a look at. When I read the blurb, it sounded like it might be a cross between Lost and Stephen King’s Langoliers and Zoe obviously really enjoyed it, so I didn’t think I had much to lose for the cost of a short e-book. I don’t read enough horror, and this should be a quick one so I am looking forward to squeezing it in to a free hour. After reading Zoe’s review, I don’t think I will read it at bedtime when I’m on my own though!

For those of you who have not come across Zoe or her blog before, you must check her out, I promise you will absolutely adore her. She is always so enthusiastic about what she reads, and books in general, and she is an absolute dynamo with her content; there is always something new and fun and interesting to see on her blog. She is completely lovely, and a huge supporter of fellow bloggers and I love her to bits.

Watch out for my own review of this novella – coming as soon as I can find a gap in my blog tour schedule to fit it in. In the meantime, if you would like to grab a copy for yourself, you can download it here. It is free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

Tempted by….I Should Read That: Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand @clairelegrand @HarperCollins @IShouldReadThat #bookbloggers #bloggerlove #readingrecommendations #booklove #SawkillGirls

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Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: The newbie. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: The pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: The queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives; a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight…until now.

Continuing my series spotlighting fabulous fellow book bloggers who have enticed me to buy books on the back of their reviews, today we have Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand, as featured in this blog post by Justine on her wonderful blog, I Should Read That.

I really enjoy reading Justine’s reviews as she tends to read very different books to the ones I normally choose, so her blog opens up some different options to me and I am very keen to widen my reading horizons based on the recommendations of other bloggers whose opinions I trust. Justine is refreshingly honest in her reviews but always constructive and I respect her opinions.

When I read the review for this book, the first thing that drew me to it was the very striking cover art which I just love (we all know what a sucker I am for an attractive cover!). I was then intrigued by the description of the book as a mixture of Young Adult and horror. I don’t read a huge amount of either, so I thought this was a book that would be something different to break up my usual genre choices, and Justine’s description of the writing led me to believe it was a book I would enjoy. Although there were some negatives in the review, these actually made me want to read the book even more, to see if I could spot which aspects Justine is referring to her in her review and whether I agree with her.

I am looking forward to getting around to the book soon. If you would like to get your own copy of Sawkill Girls, you can find it here.

Make sure you check out Justine’s wonderful blog here. I love her tag line – ‘Books, cats, nonsense.’ Pretty much all you need for contentment!

Bucket List Entry #2: The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, USA @StanleyHotelCO @VisitTheUSA @StephenKing #StanleyHotel #VisitTheUSA #bucketlist #travel #wanderlust #StephenKing #TheShining

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My second bucket list entry may again seem like an odd choice, but I think I have been inspired by the approach of Halloween and the fact I am currently reading a book set in another creepy hotel. Bucket List Entry #2 is The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The hotel, with 142 rooms, opened in 1909 and has been popular ever since as it stands only five miles from the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park and has beautiful views over Lake Estes and the Rocky Mountains. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

That all sounds very lovely, Julie, I hear you say, but what is so special about this hotel to make it worth flying thousands of miles to see? Well, I am sure most you will already know – it is because this hotel was the inspiration for The Overlook Hotel in one of the most famous books by one of my favourite authors, The Shining by Stephen King.

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Any Stephen King fans are probably already familiar with the story behind the inspiration for The Shining. In the autumn of 1974, Stephen and his wife, Tabby spent one night at The Stanley Hotel. The hotel was just about to close down for the winter and, on check-in, King and his wife found they were the only guests and had this huge hotel to themselves. They wandered the long, echoing empty corridors and ate dinner alone in the vast dining room, where all the other tables had the chairs put up on them. Their dinner was accompanied by recorded orchestral music. That night, King had a dream in which his three-year-old son was running through the corridors of the hotel screaming. He was being chased by a fire hose. The dream woke him with a jerk, in a sweat, and he sat in a chair looking out at the Rockies and smoking. “By the time the cigarette was done,” King says, “I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind.”

The Shining was published in 1977 and was a huge success, being made into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1980. Room 217, the room occupied by King that night, features heavily in the book and is now the most requested room at the hotel.

So, The Stanley Hotel has become a place of pilgrimage for Stephen King fans, as well as standing in a US State that I have yet to visit and is high on my bucket list. Then, earlier this year something else happened at The Stanley which made me want to visit even more. To see what that was, check out the video below:

Imagine being in a place where you have wildlife that close to the doorstep! The opportunity to possibly see wildlife so up close and personal adds even more to the lure of the area. I’m not sure I can sell ghosts and black bears to my other half as appealing holiday attractions so this one may need a little more work, but I’ll get there one day!

Is there any destination that has inspired a novel that you would like to visit? I’d love to hear your literary destination bucket lists.

For more details about The Stanley Hotel, please check out the hotel website.

Purgatory Hotel by Anne-Marie Ormsby #BookReview (@AMOrmsby) @crookedcatbooks #HalloweenReading #booklove #PurgatoryHotel

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“Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods, and nobody knows but her and her killer.

Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel on the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be stranded among murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer, she must hide from the shadowy stranger stalking her through the corridors of the hotel, and find out how to repent for her sins.

But first she must re-live her life.

Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets, and lies that led to her violent death.

Dakota must face her own demons, and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on.

But when she finds out what she did wrong, will she be truly sorry?”

Having been offered the chance to review this book, I decided it would be a good one to read around this time of year when we are all looking for something spooky or scary to get our pulses racing as the nights draw in and, having read it, I can confirm it will definitely do that, but it also offers so much more than simple scares.

This is an intelligent book, which explores a lot of fairly existential questions in a really innovative storyline and I was very drawn in to the story and the questions raised, to the extent that I am still thinking about some of them today. The story is quite disturbing, as you would expect from the cover image and the blurb, and it does not pull back from giving you uncomfortable and graphic detail, but it is not sensationalist for the sake of it. There is a point to everything in the story, and a very provocative and inciting point which I really enjoyed about the book.

The setting is a hotel in the Afterlife where people who have done bad things in their life on Earth are stranded, trying to work out what they did wrong and how to atone for their crimes so they can get to Heaven, so this place is full of the worst people who lived on Earth and many of them are really not interested in atoning at all. Dakota is stranded amongst these terrifying people, unaware of what has happened to her and desperate to find out what happened so she can get out. But sometimes the truth hurts.

The author manages to build a very disturbing and sinister world in this hotel that will work its way under your skin and into your subconscious and give you the creeps. I was reminded strongly of the Hotel Cortez in Season 5 of American Horror Story. But more than that, the process that Dakota has to go through after death was ever more chilling and raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I read this under the covers.

One minor issue I had was that the book possibly started to drag in places three-quarters of the way in when I would have liked more drama and less of the reading, and I think the author could have gone even further with some of the interactions with the other patrons of the hotel, to really bring the horror of this place to life. I also felt that the storyline regarding Danny was slightly too much of a coincidence and could have been omitted without affecting the book at all. However, this did not really detract from the overall power of the book for me and I was gripped from start to finish.

The author was very skilled in her use of imagery and language to bring this original world to frightful life and the characters were really well-developed and authentic, despite being deeply flawed. I really believed in them, even though they were in a largely fantastical environment. The story development is skilful and the overall book works really well. I can highly recommend it. It would particularly appeal to fans of Stephen King, I think; someone who is looking for a horror story with a little bit more to it.

Purgatory Hotel is out now. To get it in time for Halloween, order it here.

About the Author

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On a warm day in July 1978, a mother was admitted to hospital, awaiting the arrival of her new baby. She was reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie and the midwives thought it a gruesome choice for an expectant mother. A story of a long forgotten murder and repressed memories. As it turned out her new baby, Anne-Marie would grow up and find herself drawn to all things macabre, and would one day herself turn out a story of murder and memories lost.

Anne Marie grew up on the Essex coast with her parents and six siblings in a house that was full of books and movies and set the scene for her lifelong love of both.

She began writing short stories when she was still at primary school after reading the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury. He was and still is her favourite author and the reason she decided at age 9 that she too would be a writer someday.

In her teens she continued to write short stories and branched out into poetry, publishing a few in her late teens. In her early twenties she began committing herself to writing a novel and wrote one by the age of 20 that she then put away, fearing it was too weird for publication.

She wrote Purgatory Hotel over several years, but again kept it aside after several rejections from publishers. Luckily for her, she found a home for her twisted tale with Crooked Cat Books.

Her favourite authors include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Denis Lehane and Douglas Coupland. She also takes great inspiration from music and movies, her favourite artists being Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Interpol, David Lynch and David Fincher.

Anne-Marie moved to London in 2008 where she lives to this day, amidst books and DVDs, with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Anne-Marie:

Website: https://www.annemarieormsby.com

Facebook: Anne-Marie Ormsby

Twitter: @amormsby

Instagram: @pirateburlesque

Goodreads: Anne-Marie Ormsby