Archive for September, 2016

The Hyde Hotel: An Anthology of short stories

September 17, 2016 - 10:42 am No Comments

The Hyde Hotel:  Authors: James Everington, Alison Littlewood, Iain Rowan, Dan Howarth, Amelia Mangan, S P Miskowski, Ray Cluley, Alex Davis, Cate Gardner, Simon Bestwick

Published by Black Shuck Books on 5th January 2016

168 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

28483441An anthology of short stories all set at the Hyde Hotel. A hotel that attracts guests at their worst point in their lives, be it a guest who is fleeing domestic violence to a hitman on another job. Each guest has their own story to tell and they all have different experiences when they stay at the Hyde Hotel.

I enjoyed every story, and each one had something different to offer. If you are a lover of Horror, Paranormal, mystery, suspense then you will find a story to read.

My favourites were Wrath of the Deep, I liked the fact that modern met the past, a dirty cop had to retrieve an ancient relic to escape capture, but some decisions are not easy to make. Tick box mainly due to the unexpected ending and Something like Blood, the way the story is told you can really imagine what is going on in the hotel room. To wrap the book up Checking out finalizes your stay at the hotel.

This a great read and the stories let my imagination go wild. Definitely a 5-star rating on the book, but if I had to rate the hotel on trip adviser, would it be a place that I would like to visit, I don’t think so

 

 

The Mansion’s Twins (At the Crossworlds Book 1) by Rose M Channing

September 14, 2016 - 8:10 pm No Comments

The Mansion’s Twins (At the Crossworlds Book 1) by Rose M Channing

Published on 22nd July 2014

428 pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Ellie and Savannah are twins separated at birth, now 14 they both realise they have special powers. Ellie can levitate items and Savannah can see through walls. Both lived with horrendous families after a chance meeting in the park they realise they are twins and run off together. Ellie had made friends with Amber and her daughter Gabrielle and decides to take Savannah to Amber’s tree to go into hiding, not realising it was a passage to another world. Walking through the passage they enter in a world that had been devastated by a magical storm. Arriving at a mansion they find out that they are the infamous Senka twins and they are there to right the world by finding the centre of  magic. This is where their adventure begins, attending magic lessons, making new friends and learning to work together, but will they save their world.

As soon as the twins arrived at the mansion they were introduced to a lot of new people, at the start I thought I would get confused with a number of new characters but there was no need to worry as the way the author wrote the story, you could remember who’s who due to each character having their own personality. The author made the point that although the twins were identical they both had different characteristics. Ellie although a confident person, had self-doubt with her magic, whilst Savannah was the quiet one who was quick at learning new skills.

The story got better and better as you read it. The journey to find the centre of magic was set just in the mansion. I thought this was a great idea as each stage of the adventure had a different quest and it reminded me of going round a haunted house and not knowing what to expect when you opened a door.    

Not finishing on a cliffhanger this was a good reading and leads nicely into book 2    

Mother by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

September 9, 2016 - 10:16 pm No Comments

 

Mother by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross

Published by Glass Apple Press on 9th April 2016

538 Pages

Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

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Mother is Priscilla Martin, she oversees the residents of Morning Glory Circle a cul-de-sac in Snapdragon like a General rules his army. Claire is her daughter who managed to escape her when she left for college, but now falling on hard times, her and her husband Jason have had to move back in with her. Jason not understanding what his wife had against her mom, promises her that will only stay for a few months and will be in their own place by the time the baby is born. All he knows is that Claire’s older brother Timothy died when she was younger.

 Priscilla was one of the evilest creepiest characters that I have ever read about, and from the moment she was introduced I despised her. Jason is a devoted husband but I felt myself wanting to shout at him to wake up and see what Priscilla was doing to Claire. Claire who after having one of the most difficult childhoods has grown into a strong woman. Throughout the story, you get introduced to the other residents on the sac and like any tight community, there are all sorts living there, from the 2 old dears that top up their pension by running a sex chat line to one male resident who liked to wear ladies underwear. What they all have in common is that they all get told what to do by Priscilla.  Some of their scenes even added a comedy element which did break up some of the tension. Every secondary character had their own back stories which added more depth to the story. With a lot of characters, you would expect it to get confusing but the authors introduce the characters so well, you can instantly remember them when they appear further along in the book.

This book reminded me of a horror film, you know something was going to happen but you don’t know when. This style of writing kept my interest from page 1 and I found I got annoyed when real life happened and I had to put the book down. I spent the whole time reading it with goosebumps on my arms and with some of the scenes my heart was in my mouth as the tension was really building.  The story was smoothly written and you could not tell that 2 authors had collaborated together. If you are looking for an edge of your seat book that will keep you up all night, then buy this book. It was a brilliant read and as a mother, with a boy and a girl I could not imagine being like Priscilla  

The Flame Never Dies (Book 2) by Rachel Vincent

September 8, 2016 - 7:10 pm No Comments

The Flame Never Dies (Book 2)

Author: Rachel Vincent

Publisher: Harlequin Mira Ink (Harper Collins) Release date: 16th Aug 2016 Page count: 343pp

Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

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I never read book one in this series, and have a feeling I missed a real treasure, but in terms of understanding what’s happening, it didn’t matter.

Talk about a way to grab your reader; this YA genre novel starts with young narrator, Nina Kane, public enemy number one, training with Maddock in the derelict remains of a high school gym. She is in Ashland, reminiscing about a demonic uprising a century before. Nina is an exorcist. In a world of demons and things that go bump in the night, Nina has grown up under the thumb of the Unified Church in New Temperance. It came as shock to her world to realise society was in fact being governed by demons raising humans as cattle fodder; a demonic farmer’s market. The group of young rebels, of which she is a part, branded militia, had been surviving for five months, if you could call it that, outside the Church’s walled-in cities, in the badlands. When the group is cast out by the Church, claiming they are possessed, they take the label, Anathema, and make it their own.

Each day is a struggle to survive for the motley crew in the demon post-apocalypse environment. But amidst the ongoing narrative from Nina’s point-of-view, are the subplots of her pregnant sister Melanie and the group’s struggle to ensure she is fed well as they forage and raid for supplies, and the romance between Nina and Finn (who doesn’t actually have a body of his own and has stolen a body, that is weaker, to inhabit). And Nina loves him warts and all.

On a routine raid, Nina is shocked to see the demons enrobed in Church police garb are armed, not with guns, but with stun guns; they are there to capture, not to kill. So, what are their motives?

There’s some really interesting world building here; infant mortality rates have soared resulting in licensed pregnancies, teenagers come into their exorcist skills at age 17, the elderly are sacrificed at the birth of a new baby to provide that baby with a soul. And souls are held by the Church.

There’s plenty of action, blood and violence in the book, which came as a welcome surprise for a YA novel, pitching it at a cinematic ’15’ rather than a ’12’. However, the gore is offset by humour, with Devi remaining sarcastic and Finn, possessing the ex guard, enjoyably witty.

There are some cracking surprises and twists in store, particularly when you hit chapter five. That one’s a doozy.

Conflict is added in the form of the religious differences between the group of nomads, or ‘The Lord’s Army’ which the Anathema meet, and in Nina’s desperation to find a soul for the impending birth of Melamie’s child, and the secrets various members of the rebels refuse to share; Nina and Maddock in particular. Add into the mix, the hidden truth about the Unified Church and what they’re really up to, and you have multiple gripping story strands. Exposition is also handled really well, especially the scene in the van with Nina and Meshara. The narrative is delightfully dark, and Vincent doesn’t shy away from details such as violent death and childbirth.

This book is gripping from start to finish; visceral, emotional and punchy with a climactic ending. I can’t wait for book three.

Mad Max meets Supernatural

5/5

 

THE HAUNTING by Alex Bell.

September 5, 2016 - 5:58 pm No Comments
THE HAUNTING by Alex Bell.
Red Eye, London, UK. £6.99 paperback.
340 pages. ISBN: 978-1-84715-458-3
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan.
9781847154583
 There is always some discussion as to when a book for teenage readers becomes a Young Adult book. In some cases this can be defined by the content. YA books tend to have a far more conscious relationship element which can turn sexual, especially as the protagonists tend to be older – above the age of consent. This age group also allows any horrific elements to be just a little bit nastier. What should not happen, is any simplification of language or plot over that of a book aimed at adult readership. Probably the most important thing for both teenage and YA books is that the protagonist should lose the adults. The characters need to be able to make their own decisions and mistakes without being nagged by parents.
In most respects, The Haunting qualifies as a YA novel. The main character, Emma, is seventeen and has just passed her driving test. She is also a wheelchair user and has an assistant dog, Bailey. When she receives news that her Gran is seriously ill and wants to see her, she goes, despite the fact that her mother doesn’t want her to. Her Gran used to run a small hotel in a Cornish seaside town. The Waterwitch was said to have been other than the historical built from the timbers of a ship of that name. It was also the place where Emma had her accident that put her in the wheelchair.  Gran tells Emma that the Waterwitch is haunted and that she is selling it. Once an idea like that has been put into someone’s mind, it tend to colour their experiences, so when Emma thinks she sees lights in the empty building she wants to believe it is squatters. Sensibly, she doesn’t go investigating but takes a room in the hotel opposite, where a childhood friend, Jem, is working. Jem and his sister, Shell, were with Emma when she had her accident, but no-one had told Jem how serious it had been.
Jem, it transpires, is living in the Waterwitch with his sister after their father’s drinking became violent. This might account for some of Emma’s ghostly sightings but when she goes to stay there as well, the situation gets decidedly spookier. They resolve to find out the exact history of the original ship in order to get to the bottom of the weird happenings.
The plot has a number of elements other than the historical haunting. Emma has to face the events that led to her accident. There is folk lore involved in the form of a witch bottle, and Shell herself sees things that others can’t, usually in the form of birds.
While it is good to have a disabled character as the focus, much more could be done to show the problems that she experienced, such as the process of getting in and out of her adapted car. I didn’t know of it had a hoist and the wheelchair was lifted and locked into the driving position, or whether she had to get out of it and manoeuvre the chair into the rear of the vehicle. Neither was I sure if this was a motorised or a physically propelled machine. The relationship between Emma and Jem could be stronger, developing the historical friendship to another level
Telling the story from the first person viewpoints of three different characters works well, as it allows for the immediacy of different perspectives. And although this is a well told, fast paced book, I felt that the writing style would appeal more to a younger audience. YA books should be able to lift the prose to a higher level. Having said that, it is enjoyable, though that is probably not the right word for a horror novel.