Tag Archives: Horror

#Beast by at Matt Wesolowski #SixStories @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken #HangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for Beast by Matt Wesolowski. Beast is the fourth book in the #SixStories series and although they can all be read as stand-alones, I would urge you to read them in order, just because it’s such a brilliant series. Read on for my thoughts on the latest book in series……

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Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

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, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire… 

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

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The Six Stories series by Matt Wesolowski is one of my favourite crime series EVER! It’s deliciously dark, extremely imaginative, each book has been beyond riveting. Beast like the other books in the series features modern day themes, combined with darkest folklore, and yet again the author’s vivid imagination propels the reader into a plot that’s marked by an unrelenting bleakness, and yet Beast makes for an all consuming read.

Six Stories is precisely that, Six Stories told from the perspective of six witnesses narrated in the form of pod casts with online investigating journalist Paul King. I’m not going to rehash the plot details, I think the tagline on the book sums Beast up perfectly “A frozen girl, a haunted town, a deadly challenge, six stories, which one is true?”. What follows is a tense, horrifying read that’s darker than the dead of night.  

The author has an unique ability to create the perfect setting, Tankerville Tower in the small town of Ergarth is a character darkly atmospheric, and creeping, it’s a place shrouded in folklore tales of bloodthirsty vampires, a place where evil lies. Even the climate is the perfect backdrop for this book, set during the wake of  ‘The Beast from the East’, with its plummeting temperatures, the biting winds, it gives the sense that Ergarth is inhospitable, a place you wouldn’t want to visit for the fear of what you might encounter.

Beast is very much a modern day tale, and one that highlights, a phenomenon that’s very real, society’s need for validation and attention through social media. The author paints a bleak and disquieting picture of the negative side of social media, it’s disturbing and frighteningly credible. As each pod cast ends, trepidation and dread grows, the darkness of the book pulls you in, holding you in its clutches until the final page.

If there’s one thing I love about this series, it’s the author’s ability to write a book that doesn’t fit one particular genre, Beast is no different it has components of horror, thriller and crime with a modern day twist, it’s impossible to second guess where the plot is leading, which for me made this such a memorising read. Each book Matt Wesolowski writes is imaginative, captivating, and cleverly constructed, this is an author who doesn’t rest on his laurels each book is as good if not better than the last. Matt  Wesolowski has once again written the epitome of a page-turner. Highly, highly recommended. 

Yes you’ve guessed it I’m giving Beast, my second book of 2020 the shiny Book hangover award, 

What criteria does a book need to meet to win this award?

It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orenda Books (6 Feb. 2020) kindle edition (out now)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

 

Other books in the Six Stories series

 

 

**The book review Café top ten books of the year 2019**

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With a new year approaching it’s time to share my final post of the year, my top ten reads of 2019. I must admit I was hoping to read lots more books this year, but unfortunately life got in the way. Compared to some book bloggers my total read is abysmal, am I bothered? The answers believe it or not is ‘no’ I would rather read 103 fabulous books in a year, than hundreds of books that were unmemorable!     

I decided to choose my top ten reads from the books I choose to give my book hangover award to, 16 in total. It was a really hard choice but these are the books that I still think of months after reading them.

What criteria does a book need to meet to win my book hangover award?

It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

So without further ado here are my top reads of 2019 in no particular order…..

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

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If you’re looking for a series with an ingenious plot, a book that’s tense, deliciously dark, a classic mystery with a horror feel then look no further than Changeling by Matt Wesolowski it has all these elements and so much more.

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/01/21/changeling-sixstories-by-matt-wesolowski-bookreview-orendabooks-concretekraken-

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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The Silent Patient is an assured debut from Alex Michaelides, he’s definitely an author to watch out for. Highly recommend if you enjoy a dark, shocking psychological thriller that will leave you speechless (excuse the pun!) 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/02/05/thesilentpatient-by-alex-michaelides-alexmichaelides-orionbooks-2019mustreads-benwillisuk-bookhangoveraward/

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

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Breakers is a searing and heartbreaking portrayal of modern day Britain, the author takes the reader on an emotional journey, one that at times feels uncomfortable, it packs a hell of a punch, you will find yourself questioning your own assumptions, it’s a book whose characters will remain with you long after you reach the last page

Breakers by Doug Johnstone #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #Breakers #BookHangoverAward

The Whisper Man by Alex North

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There is nothing more terrifying than a child being murdered, and the author expertly plays on these fears, creating a dark, creepy, and haunting read. Be prepared for a few sleepless nights, it takes a lot to unnerve me, but this book actually scared me silly in parts! (In the best possible way)

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/06/05/the-whisper-man-by-alex-north-writer_north-michaeljbooks-bookreview-thewhisperman-mustreads-bookhangoveraward/

Black Summer by M W Craven

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I loved how the author brought all the threads together culminating in a jaw dropping, but very satisfying and clever conclusion. Black Summer isn’t as dark or gory as The Puppet Show, but OMG if anything I probably enjoyed this book more, there’s so many questions, intrigue, and mystery, my perfect kind of crime read.

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/06/17/black-summer-by-m-w-craven-bookreview-mwcravenuk-littlebrownuk-thecrimevault-washingtonpoe-blacksummer-bookhangoveraward/

In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael J Malone

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Michael Malone is one of those rare author who appears to be able to write in any genre and turn what could be an interesting read, into something extra special, definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come.

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/08/19/in-the-absence-of-miracles-by-michael-j-malone-michaeljmalone-orendabooks-bookreview-mustreads-bookhangoveraward/

Blood song by Johana Gustawsson

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The thing I admire about this author’s novels is the fact she can take a period in history, in this case Spain 1938 and the brutalities of Spain’s dictatorship, and incorporate them with crimes set in 2016, how can someone combine such distant periods into a credible story and intertwine them? and yet Gustawsson accomplishes both producing a story that’s harrowing, disturbing, but such a compelling and intensely heart wrenching read.    

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/08/23/blood-song-by-johana-gustawsson-bookreview-jogustawsson-orendabooks-mustreads/

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

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Dark Elms takes the authors writing to a whole new level of amazing. Dark Elms ticks all the boxes for me it’s dark, gory (I grimaced at more than a couple of the authors descriptive crime scenes) and features a serial killer who will send shivers down your spine, if Hannibal Lecter gave you nightmares, be prepared for a few disturbed nights! 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/11/01/nine-elms-by-robertbryndza-littlebrownuk-bookssphere-nineelms-mustreads-bookhangoveraward/

Dead Memories by Angela Marsons

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As a huge crime thriller reader I can sometimes find a long-running series has lost its lustre, they can feel repetitive and lacking the suspense I look forward too, but “hell” no Angela Marsons makes sure each book has a unique plot, that are packed to the brim with suspense, with characters whom you genuinely care about. 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/02/21/deadmemories-by-angela-marsons-mustreads-writeangie-bookouture-bookhangoveraward/

Non Fiction read of the year 

Four Feet Under by Tamsen Courtenay

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Four Feet Under is a powerful and moving insight into the day-to-day lives of some the unfortunate people who through tragedy, misfortune and bad decisions have found themselves living on the streets of Britain, displaced, dispossessed and destitute.

#FourFeetUnder By Tamsen Courtenay @TamsenC_writer @unbounders #Recommended #TrueStory #Homeless

Highly recommended reads for a book hangover

Turn The Other Way by Stuart James

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For me horror is all about my emotional reaction, that feeling of fear and dread as you turn each page, the constant feeling you should be reading a book from behind a cushion (not practical but you get my drift), a book that makes the heart pound and every little noise makes you jump. This is exactly how Turn The Other Way by Stuart James made me feel, it’s a shocker of a horror thriller novel.  

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/02/18/turn-the-other-way-by-stuart-james-stuartjames73-mustreads-horror-thriller-crime-mustreads/

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

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My Lovely Wife is a deliciously dark tale of relationships and secrets, not original themes by any means, but it’s so different to any other novel I’ve read, it’s wickedly entertaining, full of black humour, and as for the characters their deeply flawed but fascinating never the less.

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/04/30/my-lovely-wife-by-samantha-downing-smariedowning-penguinrandom-mylovelywife-bookhangoveraward-bookreview/

The Passenger by John Marrs

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The Passenger a futuristic novel set in the not to distance future blew me away its original, taut and brilliantly written.  I read this book at every opportunity, irritated by the slightest disturbance, which for me is always a sign of a fantastic read.  

The Passenger by John Marrs @JohnMarrs1 @EdburyPublication #MustReads #SciFi #BookHangoverAward

Night by Jack Jordan

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If there’s one thing I can be sure of it’s that Jack Jordan never fails to amaze me, each book he’s written has been very different in tone, content and plot. But still Night By Night the latest offering from the author took even me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting to have my heart shattered, or to find myself sobbing uncontrollably, at this point I realised I had only read the first four chapters of the novel! Such a brilliant and haunting start to what I consider to be Jack Jordan’s best book yet. 

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/05/15/night-by-night-by-jack-jordan-bookreview-jackjordanbooks-corvusbooks-blogtour-jacksback-nightbynight-bookhangoveraward/

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

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If from the book description you thought this was a run of the mill ‘serial killer thriller’ you couldn’t be more wrong. This book has so much more to offer the crime thriller lover, it’s a book that’s superbly written, an extraordinary and highly original tale, told through the eyes of a brilliantly drawn character, ten-year-old Addie.

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2019/08/06/the-july-girls-by-phoebe-locke-phoebe_locke-wildfirebks-review-thejulygirls-summermustreads/

Violet by SJI Holliday

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Oh, how I loved Violet by SJI Holliday, what an intense, psychological thriller this novel turned out to be. Exquisitely written, Violet makes for an all-consuming read, one that begs to be read in one hugely satisfying sitting.

Violet by SJI Holliday #BookReview @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #Violet #BookHangoverAward

Books I read in 2019

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And that’s it for another year folks. Here’s wishing my followers old and new, fellow book bloggers, authors and publishers a happy new year, and here’s hoping it’s a good one for you all, and happy reading.

Lorraine x

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Author interview with Edgar Swamp #AmberHollow #Horror #Mystery

Today it’s a pleasure to share an interview with Edgar Swamp, the authors book Amber Hollow definitely sounds like my kind of read. It’s described as
new mystery blends horror and fantasy in white-hot thriller centered on cursed Wisconsin village
SAN DIEGO, California. 

Edgar Swamp’s new novel turns the classic detective mystery on its head by mixing elements of horror and fantasy into an epic page-turner. The isolated village, fiery tragedy, and ancient curse of “AmberHollow” will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader guessing. Before I share the interview here’s the book description…

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Detective Jeremy LeFevre and his partner Detective Sadie Conrad find themselves baffled as they step into a homicide case with 595 victims — and no evidence. The scene of the crime, Amber Hollow, is known by neighboring towns to be a reclusivisitic, colloquial community with a history of unverified mysterious occurrences, when a fire rages through the small Wisconsin village, killing everyone but five people.

The partially intact bodies of the few victims
recovered suggest violent deaths prior to being incinerated, but the lack of forensic evidence has the detectives and pathologists stymied. Making matters worse, the five survivors contradict each other with wild stories and accusations. Only one detail connects their testimonies –– that the mayor, Anthony Guntram, is to blame.

With a dead suspect and nothing else to go on, the two detectives must learn the secrets of Amber Hollow before anyone else becomes victim to its curse.

Amazon Uk 🇬🇧

Amazon US 🇺🇸

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“Amber Hollow” is your fourth book but your first foray into mysteries. What drew you to the genre? 

I wanted to create a story enshrouded in mystique, one that would keep readers guessing as I gradually doled out misinformation, capping it off with a wildly unpredictable ending. “Amber Hollow” is centered around two detectives investigating a seemingly impossible case, so for what I wanted, the format appeared to be the best choice. It was intended to be a horror novel, but it reads like a mystery. Hopefully, the combination of genres resulted in a truly special piece of fiction.

How has your writing process evolved since your first book?

With each new novel, I endeavour to be more efficient with my character development and pacing, always keeping the story moving. I try to grow and learn with each book, seeing what worked for readers and (most importantly) what didn’t. Know who your target audience is, and give them what they want. Reading books by great writers helps, so it’s best to keep up with your reading, no matter how much you want to write. And re-writes are essential; that’s a constant for me. A novel is never finished until I’m at least 95 percent certain that it’s done (there is no 100 percent for me, unfortunately, I feel I could always do something better).

Besides cheese curds and football, Wisconsin is known for its serial killers. How did growing up there influence your decision to write a horror novel?

Wisconsin has a climate that is geared for indoor activities if you don’t especially favour the cold, so I have to thank the West DePere Library for introducing me to a plethora of writers who specialise in scaring readers silly. Curling up with a good book in front of a blazing fire was a favourite pastime of mine growing up, when I wasn’t outside shovelling mountains of snow! Also, my father worked in law enforcement, and he always had some really cool stories. For instance, he once had the chance to meet Ed Gein (Painesville, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1953-54, who inspired the movies “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and half a dozen others). Ed was serving multiple life sentences at the Mendota State Psychiatric Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and a guard who knew my father made the offer. My dad took a hard pass on that one; because of his occupation, he saw enough blood and guts on a regular basis owing to hunting accidents and vehicular manslaughter cases, so the last thing he needed was to meet a cannibal who robbed graves and made flesh-suits that he wore while eating stew out of bowls made of human skulls! I also knew several people who were approached by Jeffery Dahmer (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, serial killer circa 1991 who drugged, raped, killed, dismembered, and ate almost 20 men). They all made the smart decision not to take him up on his invitation to go to his place for a drink. Inspiration indeed!

You’ve written detective Sadie Conrad as an African-American woman. Why did you choose this representation for the character?

In all of my novels I try and represent a healthy balance of racially diverse people because I want to appeal to a wider audience, even in this case in which it isn’t truly authentic. I made a conscious decision to make Sadie’s character African-American because when I grew up in Green Bay in the ’70s-’90s it wasn’t a very racially diverse area, so it really shows that she’s an exceptionally skilled detective to break through the barrier of being a woman and being African-American. In other words, she’d truly have to know her stuff to work for a mostly male police station (there were very few female police officers who worked for the Brown County Sheriff’s Department during that time) in a predominantly white community. I felt that specific environment would make her stronger as both a detective and a woman, to prove she could tackle the job just as well as any man, of any race. And when crunch time comes, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. The novel embraces themes of female empowerment, and I thought, “Who would best represent a strong female than one who is cast in this situation?” 

Why do you think people seek out media that scares them?

In a controlled environment, having the crap scared out of you is fun! Psychologically, horror stories can take you through a fiendishly nightmarish landscape, so by proxy, your own problems seem insignificant in comparison. And fear is a very motivating feeling, so it’s best to embrace it by confronting your demons. By delving into this darkness, one inevitably becomes stronger in the process. 

How do modern-day political and social climates affect your writing?

All of my ideas are inspired by the modern-day social and political climates in which I am writing them; I simply can’t help it. I consider myself a humanitarian, and even though I put my characters through torturous situations in which the majority of them are killed, I’d like to think of these novels as social experiments, possibly character studies by which to live (or die) by. Who doesn’t enjoy reading/watching the bloated, sleazy politician falling into a bed of hypodermic syringes before being eaten alive by mutants? In fiction, we get to shape how we want to see the world, maybe try and make it a better place by giving the average person the satisfaction they most likely won’t get in real life. And by writing about these themes, at least they are being talked about. We shouldn’t cringe from the reality in which we are thrust; we should try to think of ways in which we can change the world for the better.

You dropped out of college to pursue your passion for music. How did that decision ultimately affect your life and your writing career?

One of the worst decisions I ever made was dropping out of college; my headspace at the time was that of a young man deluded by his musical obsession with absolutely no foresight of the future. If I could go back in time, I’d go back to 1990 and stay in school to at least earn a bachelor’s degree in English versus having nothing. I had some fun, saw a lot of this fine country, and made acquaintances with many charming ladies, but ultimately, I gave myself nothing to fall back on when the bottom dropped out and I couldn’t sleep in/on cars, floors, warehouses, abandoned lumber yards, or seedy motels anymore. Actually, though, the decision may have been a good thing for my creative writing. I’d been writing my whole life (first thing I ever wrote was a play in second grade where I cast myself as Santa and the girl I liked as Mrs. Clause) but I never took it very seriously, so failing at being a professional musician really inspired me to try and succeed as a professional writer, a goal I have yet to achieve. For this reason, music is always rooted in my writing; I can’t get it out of there. There are song lyrics in the beginning of “Amber Hollow,” and if you Google the bands you won’t find them, because they don’t exist. They are my songs. You know how hard it is to get an artist to allow you the rights to use their songs?!? It was easier to write my own!

What are you working on now?

Being a self-published writer brings about the task of trying to get your work in front of as many people as possible within the constraints of a shoestring budget and the limitations that come without being traditionally published (i.e. larger media snubs because you aren’t “legit”). With that said, I am presently working on getting “Amber Hollow” in as many hands as possible while I revisit my earlier works and decide which one I’ll choose to rewrite, re-edit, and re-publish. I self-published a novel in 2012 called “The Gyre Mission,” about an island of garbage on which I stranded a group of disposable rejects who had to battle mutant animals and humans in a quest for survival. To this day, readers of my books cite this as their favorite novel of mine, but they complain that it was too long and that most of the characters weren’t very likeable. So, to answer the question: I’m going to rewrite “The Gyre Mission,” shorten it up (it was a monstrosity at 280,000 words…think telephone book!), make some of the characters more likeable, and possibly allow someone to live in the end. A total-loss death count seems to bum people out…I don’t know why!

About the author

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EDGAR SWAMP​ is the author of the “Gyre Mission,” “Glitch in the Machine,” and “Blackout.” His short stories have appeared in Alienskin, Macabre Cadaver, and Urban Reinventors. When he isn’t holed up in his office playing online poker, he likes to dig up the recently deceased and make furniture out of their skin. He lives and works in San Diego, California. For more information, visit his website at www.edgarswamp.com​.
My thanks to the author for this interview.

What’s on your Bookshelf? with #BookBlogger Will at hghorror @homegrownhorror

This week on What’s On Your BookShelf? I’m thrilled to have Will taking part, Will is a huge horror fan, and I thought seeing as it’s Halloween tomorrow 👻🧟‍♂️🧛‍♂️☠️ he was the perfect choice for a spooky post. Will is a relatively new book blogger, but I would  recommend you check out his blog at https://hghorror.wordpress.com/. Now over to Will

Hi Will How many bookcases do you have?

I have three bookshelves in my current home, and three more in storage.

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Approximately how many books are on your book case?

Roughly 100 books currently.

What genre does your bookcase mainly comprise of?

My books are almost entirely horror.

Which book on your bookcase are you desperate to read?

As a reviewer, I have a decent backlog that I’m very excited to get to, but I would have to say Sean McDonough’s new novel The Class Reunion is what I’m looking forward to most right now.

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Which book has been sat on your bookcase the longest and you haven’t yet got around to reading?

I have yet to read any of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I’m reading through all of his other works in preparation, because a lot of them connect back in some way to the Dark Tower series. I want to be aware of all those easter eggs when I finally make my journey to the Tower.

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Which books are you desperate to add to your bookcase over the next few months?

On the small horror side of things, I can’t wait to get my hands on a paperback copy of David Simpson’s newest Zombie Road release, Zombie Road 7. It’s currently only out digitally. As for fine and limited edition releases, I’m so excited to receive the debut book from Letterpress Publications; Stephen King’s Revival.

If you could only keep one book from your bookcase, which one would you choose? And why?

That’s an insanely difficult choice. I think maybe my signed limited edition of Joyland, by Stephen King. It’s probably my favorite of his books. I have my copy in a custom made slipcase from the company 19th Edition.

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Last question if you could have one author come to your house to borrow a book who would it be and why?

Looking at my bookshelves, you might think my answer would be Stephen King. But I’m sure he gets tired of meeting his “number one fans.” I’d have to go with Brian James Freeman. He’s the general manager at Cemetery Dance Publications, as well as the founder of his own press, Letterpress Publications. Not to mention, he’s a pretty good author. I’m sure he’d enjoy seeing all of my Cemetery Dance books, as well as my King collection. I’d love to talk with him about his Letterpress Publications venture.

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About Will

Hello, my name is Will and I’m the founder and lead (only) reviewer at Home Grown Horror Reviews. I am a passionate fan of all things horror, and an avid supporter of our community of authors. I have discovered many wonderful talents that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about had I not been actively looking. My goal is to write and publish reviews that will help spread the word about those authors and works who deserve a little recognition.

My book collection is almost entirely horror. My focus is Stephen King and Cemetery Dance Publications. I have several signed King books, and many special or limited edition King books and other Cemetery Dance books. The thing that makes my shelves unique however is my collection of personally inscribed books. I’m active in several horror groups on Facebook, including a few for horror writers. I love finding new (to me, or new to writing) authors and getting their books signed and personalized to me. This has led to a small but very loved collection of books that mean a lot to me.

Links

https://hghorror.wordpress.com/ My review blog

https://www.instagram.com/willybusmc/ My Instagram for pictures of my signed books

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/101198995-will-blosser?order=d&sort=review&view=reviews My goodreads reviews

https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amzn1.account.AEJ44UQCCXIIYCVEOJCSWH77OVYA? My amazon reviews

My thanks to Will for answering my questions, and for the use of his photos.

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Haverscroft by S.A. Harris #GuestPost #Haverscroft @salharris1 @saltpublishing @EmmaDowson1

Today I’m delighted  to be on the blog tour for Haverscroft  by S.A.Harris. Haverscroft  has been described as a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night. Today I’m sharing a guest post from the author herself, but first the book description……

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Kate Keeling leaves all she knows and moves to Haverscroft House in an attempt to salvage her marriage. Little does she realise, Haverscroft’s dark secrets will drive her to question her sanity, her husband and fatally engulf her family unless she can stop the past repeating itself. Can Kate keep her children safe and escape Haverscroft in time, even if it will end her marriage?

Haverscroft is a gripping and chilling dark tale, a modern ghost story that will keep you turning its pages late into the night.

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Salt (15 May 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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Do You Have A Choice What You Write?

In the run-up to my debut novel, Haverscroft, being published I was asked to write some articles about the road to publication. What influenced me to write dark tales and Gothic fiction. Why this genre, over say, romance? I dredged various things from my memory which had been significant one way or another over the years and wrote a couple of pieces. A friend commented she would not have such a wealth of strange experiences to pull upon and that got me thinking. Do we have a choice what we write or is it inherent like eye colour?

Those weird encounters were many and varied but the one that regularly causes outcries of horror happened when we were on a family holiday a few years ago. It had been a long journey from East Anglia to a cottage near Pitlochry, Scotland. We arrived and loved the house; a light and airy Victorian villa with a patio and manicured garden leading to a bubbling stream and fields. The weather for July was still cool so we put on the heating and settled down for the evening. And that’s when things started to get interesting.

I’d just told our youngest to go to bed for the second time when he announced there was a bat on the wall beside the fireplace in the sitting room. An original delaying tactic if ever I’d heard one. A chorus followed from the rest of the family; A bat? What do you mean, a bat? On closer inspection, it turned out our son was telling the truth.

The little critter was tiny, not much larger than a fifty pence piece and could only crawl rather than fly, thank goodness. Deliberation followed. What should be done with it and where had it come from? I fetched my laptop and began to search the internet for answers. As I sat on the sofa, out of the corner of my eye, something was moving. A small dark shape was travelling from the cushion at my back onto my shoulder and at some speed. My daughter’s exclamation gave the game away before I could shift my position. Another baby bat had arrived.

We started searching the room. Bats were crawling down the curtains, emerging from behind cushions and from beneath the sofa. My husband fled upstairs to bed – moths, spiders, creepy crawlies are not his thing and neither are baby bats it turns out.

The internet provided a number to call which even at 11:30pm on a Saturday evening was answered. Advice was given; put the bats in boxes, lids on with holes punched in the top. Judy from the Bat Conservation Society would call by and collect our small visitors in the morning and, by the way, did we know bats are protected? We should probably move out.

We followed her instructions, found Tupperware, tinfoil and caught as many as we could. I closed the sitting room door and locked up as the children headed upstairs. 

I stood on the threshold of our bedroom with the light from the landing at my back. My husband lay on the mattress, the duvet on the floor. I thought in the dim light he was asleep, at least, he was snoring, anyway. Around him on the bed were small dark shapes. Surely not, I thought. I switched on the light. My husband complained about the glare. There are bats on the bed, I said. No six-foot man has ever moved so quickly.

Early the next morning, Judy explained there was a maternity roost in the chimney. The warmth of the central heating or the heat radiating from our bodies draws out the baby rodents. She took away all the bats we had collected leaving us with the advice more were very likely to crawl out from the nest. How were we going to find alternate accommodation at peak season and at such short notice? We started packing our bags.

So back to that question, are writers born or do we choose our genre? Perhaps if I tried, I could come up with a historical drama or a cosy crime novel. Haverscroft crosses genres. Part ghost story and part intimate examination of a marriage on the rocks in the way of a psychological thriller. By day, I am a solicitor specialising in divorce and relationship breakdown, so again, I guess exposure to such events over decades influenced my writing. But I do not think genre is like eye colour. Experiences over a lifetime become ingrained in us but nothing is inherent. We all draw on experience as well as our imaginations in our writing but ultimately it is our choice what we write.

And after we packed our bags and left the bats behind? We searched for most of a day but eventually found somewhere else to stay. We had salvaged our holiday. As we pulled up to the new cottage it seemed a little strange, but then, that is another story.

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S.A.Harris is an award-winning author and family law solicitor born in Suffolk and now living and working in Norwich, Norfolk.

She won the Retreat West Crime Writer Competition in 2017. She was shortlisted for The Fresher Prize First 500 Words of a Novel Competition in 2018 and published in their anthology, Monsters, in November 2018.

Her debut novel, Haverscroft, will be published on the 15th May 2019.

She is a member of the Society of Authors. You can contact her via her publisher: chris@saltpublishing.com or on Twitter @salharris1 or author website: https://www.saharrisauthor.com

PRAISE FOR HAVERCROFT

An atmospherically creepy ghost story that keeps you guessing till the end! Sally Harris is one to watch.’ –Angela Clarke

REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK

‘The writing is taut and fluid. Both the atmosphere of the old house and the wider family dynamics are evoked with skill. Whatever one thinks of a place harbouring the spirit of past deeds this story could throw shade over certainties. Recommended, but exercise caution if reading after dark.’ –Jackie Law, Never Imitate

My thanks to the author and Emma at Salt publishing for the guest post.

Follow the blog tour…..

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The book review café Book Of The month **February 2019**

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Whohoo It’s the 1st March, hopefully spring is just around the corner, I’m really not a winter person, bring on the lighter nights and lots of sunny days 😎.  Now we’ve got the weather out the way it’s time to choose my book of the month for February 2019, my god this was a hard one I could have chosen at least FOUR books this month but then I remembered the promise  I made last month on my blog, see below ⬇️

As only one who follows my blog will know I’m rubbish at narrowing it down to one book and more often than not I’ve chosen two or in some months three! I have had a srtrict word with myself, and this year I’m going to try and keep to just the one book of the month as the title suggests, let’s see how that goes 😂

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So after a couple of sleepless nights, and much toing and froing I came to my final decision, are you ready? I read some fabulous books in Febuary, but there is one book that really stood out. It’s a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page. It’s also one that rekindled my 🖤 Of horror. So without further ado here is my ONE book of the month…….

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Turn The Other Way by Stuart James

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I read so many books that promise that “big twist” and I’m sorry to say but many of them fail to deliver, but not Stuart James, there’s twist upon twist, each one darker and more twisted than the last. It takes a lot to shock or surprise me but OMFG Turn The Other Way surpassed anything I was expecting. You know the saying “revenge is sweet”? This book is more a case of “revenge is dark, disturbing, and extremely painful”. Would I recommend this book? “It’s a hell yes” especially to those who love a horror thriller. See my full review here……..Turn The Other Way by Stuart James @StuartJames73 #MustReads #Horror #Thriller #Crime #MustRead

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After more thought and deliberation there was no way I could much choose one book

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So here is my joint winner for the book of the month

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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The author sure knows how to weave a tangled web, and then keep the reader in his clutches with a well- plotted story. It’s one that pulls you in from the shocking opening chapter and keeps you captivated all the way to it’s explosive conclusion. I literally read this book in a day, the tension mounted as each chapter ended making this an impossible book to put down. Mark my words this book is going to be a HUGE hit.

You can read my full review here…….

#TheSilentPatient by Alex Michaelides (@AlexMichaelides @OrionBooks) #2019MustReads @BenWillisUK #BookHangoverAward

Highly recommended

Full reviews can be found in the links below……..

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #MustReads

The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan @Phoebe_A_Morgan @HQstories #MustReads

#DeadMemories by Angela Marsons #MustReads @WriteAngie @Bookouture #BookHangoverAward

You Belong To Me by Mark Tilbury **BlogBlitz** #BookReview @#MTilburyAuthor @Bloodhoundbook

The Nowhere Child by Christian White #BookReview @CWhiteAuthor @MinotaurBooks

Books I’m hoping to read in March

 

 

 

The Haunting Of Henderson Close Catherine Cavendish #Extact #BlogTour @Cat_Cavendish #RandomThingsTours @annecater @FlameTreePress

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in The Haunting Of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish blog tour. Like many book bloggers I’m snowed under with books waiting to be reviewed, so I haven’t been able to read the book but I must admit after reading the extract from the book (see below) I’m really intrigued and now desperate to read the whole book.

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PROLOGUE

November 1st, 1891

The tall woman lifted her skirt as she crossed the filthy, narrow street. Her nose wrinkled at the stench of human waste, rotting fruit and vegetables and all manner of foul remains that sloshed their way down the gutters of the open sewer that was Henderson Close, deep in the squalid heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Henderson Close. The very mention of the name sent shivers down the spines of most of the woman’s acquaintances. They couldn’t understand why she did this. Helping those too feckless, in their eyes, to help themselves.

A second-floor window rattled open. “Gardyloo!” Along with everyone else in the vicinity, the woman scurried for safety, just in time before a torrent of stinking night waste splashed onto the street. The stench hit her with a renewed force that made her eyes water and her stomach heave. Breathing through her mouth, the woman hurried on. The sooner she reached her destination, the sooner she could complete her mission and return to the safety of her cosy, lavender-scented flat in the more prosperous New Town.

As she quickened her step, she passed poorly dressed humanity of all ages. Children in little more than worn-out rags, on such a cold day as this too. She pitied them their filthy bare feet, pockmarked with chilblains, and scabs that wouldn’t heal for want of a decent diet. She averted her eyes from the young girls, barely in their teens, who cradled their swollen bellies. The woman knew what went on. Some of these girls knew the fathers of their unborn babies all too well. They were closely related to them. Others wouldn’t be able to pick the right one out of a police line-up.

She passed old women with no teeth and sparse grey hair. Yet most of them were probably barely past forty. Her age in fact. With her gloved hand, she adjusted the wire-rimmed spectacles a little higher on her nose, and arrived at number seventeen.A now-familiar clutch of apprehension tugged at her and she glanced around. No, everyone on the street was going about their normal business today.

She stared up at the dilapidated tenement, nine stories high, as she had done many times before. With land at such a premium in Edinburgh’s teeming Old Town, they built upward, as high as the foundations would stand, and through lack of proper maintenance these old buildings sometimes collapsed, killing and maiming hundreds of inhabitants. Number seventeen was no better nor worse than any of its neighbours. Doors, and any remaining windows that weren’t boarded up, had once been painted in a long-forgotten colour, now chipped and flaking off, revealing the rotten wood beneath. It used to be that the richer you were, the higher up you lived. Those at the top of the building could see the sky and were furthest away from the stinking street below. But, for the past century or more, the well-to-do had moved away to the elegant streets of the Georgian New Town. No noxious odours for them.

The woman shook her head. Back to the purpose of her journey. The family she had come to see – the McDonalds –lived a wretched existence on the ground floor, barely able to afford the single room the mother, father and the youngest five bairns all shared. And the mother had another on the way. It had been like this all the years the woman had known them. Babies came. Babies died. More babies arrived. Mrs. McDonald must be in her late thirties or even older. Still they came. Her older ones were off her hands now. Her oldest.…

Well, with any luck, at least what she had brought them would ensure food in the family’s bellies for the rest of the week. That’s why she came in the morning, when she knew the man wouldn’t be there or, if he was, he’d be sleeping off the last of the previous night’s ale. Not that Mr. McDonald was such a bad sort. At least, so far as she knew, he didn’t beat his wife or the children and, when he was sober, he would do anyone a kindness, but she couldn’t take a chance on the money getting into his hands. Too much temptation.

So lost in her own thoughts was she that she was unaware of the three youths who had formed a semi-circle behind her. As she raised her hand to knock on the worm-eaten door, they grabbed her. A fourth assailant – older, in his twenties – seized her. Shards of pain shot through her shoulders. She cried out as the four of them manhandled her round the corner into an alleyway. The older one spat at her, threw her to the ground and kicked her. “Give us the money, woman!”

She tried in vain to curl into a foetal position as the four boys threw kicks and punches. Fists slammed into her face, knocking off her glasses. Blood poured from her nose. A sickening snapping noise and screaming pain tore through her jaw. She closed her eyes and prayed for them to stop. Pain burst through her chest as her ribs cracked. She pleaded for merciful death to release her. A man’s roar. The oldest thug stamped on her hand, breaking her fingers. He tore the purse from her broken arm and made off. Hobnail boots thundered as men pursued them.

Through the red mist of her agony, the woman recognised a familiar voice. Mr. McDonald was home, sober and here to help her. She felt him kneel beside her. He cradled her head. Shetried to open her eyes but they were already swollen shut. Or the effort was simply too much. She tasted blood, felt it drip down her cheeks, mingling with the tears that cascaded down her face, and the muddy, stinking wetness of the ground beneath her face.Mr. McDonald stroked her forehead. “Oh Miss Carmichael,what have they done to ye?”

Other voices joined his. Mrs. McDonald tried to wipe the blood off with the ragged hem of her rough wool skirt. “Lord preserve us. Who would do such a thing? Miss Carmichael too. All she ever does is out of the goodness of her heart.” The voices floated to the dying woman on echoing waves through the pathways of her mind, becoming fainter and fainter. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald leaned closer as Miss Carmichael struggled to speak. It was no more than a whisper, barely possible with her fractured jaw. “I am so sorry. They took it. Every penny.” A final tear tracked its way down Miss Carmichael’s face as the darkness enveloped her for the last time.

* *

In the shadows, a well-dressed young man moved, unnoticed by the crowd gathered over the dead woman. A smile creased his lips as he walked away.

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (10 Jan. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1787581020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1787581029

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

Book description

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released. Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

http://www.flametreepublishing.com/

About the author

 

(From www.catherinecavendish.com)

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Hello, my name’s Catherine Cavendish and I write horror fiction – frequently with ghostly, supernatural, Gothic and haunted house themes.

Out now – from Flame Tree Press – THE HAUNTING OF HENDERSON CLOSE. Ghostly horror set in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Available now from Kensington-Lyrical – the NEMESIS OF THE GODS trilogy: mWRATH OF THE ANCIENTS, WAKING THE ANCIENTS and DAMNED BY THE ANCIENTS – set in Egypt and Vienna and featuring the sinister Dr. Emeryk Quintillus whose obsession has stayed with him past the grave.

My novellas COLD REVENGE, MISS ABIGAIL’S ROOM, THE DEMONS OF CAMBIAN STREET, THE DEVIL INSIDE HER and THE SECOND WIFE have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.

My novels THE DEVIL’S SERENADE and SAVING GRACE DEVINE have also been released in new editions by Crossroad Press, as have my novel of the Lancashire Witches – THE PENDLE CURSE – and my novellas, LINDEN MANOR and DARK AVENGING ANGEL.

I live with a long-suffering husband and a delightful black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Who am I to argue?

When not slaving over a hot computer, I enjoy wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

Twitter : @Cat_Cavendish

Follow the blog tour…….

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