Mystery

Mini Reviews, Bookish Photos and my TBR pile.

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I’ve been so busy recently with editing my manuscript, gathering promotional ideas, etc, that I have neglected my much-loved book reviewing. So, to remedy this a little I’m doing a few mini reviews:

Starting off with….

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Goodreads Synopsis: 

In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

My review: 4.5 stars. This debut novel surprised me. I started off not being too sure about it and then loved it! Sometimes I’m like that, I can be a bit slow on the uptake! I need a little convincing and then kapow – it hits me full force. Great idea, fantastic characters, particularly the main protagonist Aaron Soto, thought provoking questions about his emerging sexuality, and interesting setting – the Bronx. Have added to my favourites list. Read? Yes, yes, yes.. !!!

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.

Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.

As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.

Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.

My review: 4 stars. I discovered this book via my good blogging friend Annika Perry. She had written a detailed review and it piqued my interest: https://annikaperry.com/2016/07/15/a-boy-made-of-blocks-a-book-review/.

Annika enjoyed this novel but didn’t love it, and I enjoyed it too but it didn’t quite make my favourite list either. Author Keith Stuart used his own experiences with his son to write A Boy Made Of Books, and reveals the complexities of coping with day to day activities with a child on the autistic spectrum. Even going to the park can become a major worry particularly if you meet a dog who might set off your child’s anxieties. In my experience, I found it to be well written throughout but the latter part of the novel was more emotionally engaging. Read? Yes, particularly if you are interested in novels about autism, and family/son relationships.

Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My review: 4 stars. This deserves all the hype. It is an entertaining, sweet read, a must read YA novel… grab a copy! Read? Yes, most definitely Read!!!

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.

My review: 4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this a lot.  I grabbed it off my mum’s bookshelf in Edinburgh… I’m always pinching books… beware! A fascinating tale of how the most unlikely of women could end up having such a wild and crazy affair, (I kid you not!) leading to such dire consequences.  Highly recommended. Read?  Yes, Read!!!

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas hols in snowy Cambridge. Hazel has high hopes of its beautiful spires, cosy libraries and inviting tea-rooms – but there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College.

Two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident – until the Detective Society look a little closer, and realise a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage to find the killer (in time for Christmas Day, of course).

The fabulously festive fifth mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.

My review: 4 stars. A very fun murder mystery set at Christmas in the colleges of Cambridge. Particularly enjoyed reading this as I live in Cambridge and it was nice to recognise some of the familiar settings. Read: Yes, particularly if you like an easy, entertaining, enjoyable read.

Following on from this I am currently reading Lucy Brazier’s Porter Girl so more about soon…

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And after that I have various beauties on my TBR pile including The Words In My Hand by Guinevere Glasfurd, (Costa book awards shortlisted author,) who I met in person at a recent inspiring event held by Cambridge Writers.

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Bye for now,

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Twitter: @marjorie_mallon
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My Kyrosmagica Review of The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A collection of pulse-pounding tales featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan—including the untold story of her first case!

The #1 New York Times bestselling author behind the hit Fox series Bones, Kathy Reichs is renowned for chilling suspense and fascinating forensic detail. The Bone Collection presents her trademark artistry in this collection of thrilling short fiction.

In First Bones, a prequel to Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, she at last reveals the tale of how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist. In this never-before-published story, Tempe recalls the case that lured her from a promising career in academia into the grim but addictive world of criminal investigation. (It all began with a visit from a pair of detectives—and a John Doe recovered from an arson scene in a trailer.) The collection is rounded out with three more stories that take Tempe from the low country of the Florida Everglades, where she makes a grisly discovery in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python, to the heights of Mount Everest, where a frozen corpse is unearthed. No matter where she goes, Tempe’s cases make for the most gripping reading.

 

I won a copy of  The Sunday Times No. 1 Bestseller Kathy Reich’s The Bone Collection via Linda Hill who blogs at: Linda’s Book Bag

So a big thank you for my winning copy! Of course, my opinions are my own and are not influenced in anyway by me receiving a free copy.

My review:

This isn’t my usual kind of read and at first, I was a little bit skeptical whether or not it would appeal to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The excellence of Kathy Reich’s writing and her detailed and knowledgeable observations about forensic anthropology kept me entertained throughout all four of these novellas, based on her successful Temperance Brennan series. This is a special treat for Kathy Reich enthusiasts as all four pieces: Bones In her Pocket, Swamp Bones, Bones on Ice,  and First Bones are presented in a single collection in this novel. Bones both animal, and human do figure a lot in this novel, it’s to be expected! So be prepared for some gruesome moments. If I were, to sum up this novel I’d say: punchy, gripping, wincing, chilling, compelling, detailed, gut turning sleuthing mysteries to be solved, sliced with unexpected twists and turns, and served with a fulsome dollop of humour.

Highly recommended. My rating 4.5 stars.

Have you read Kathy Reich? Do comment and let me know.

Bye for now, happy reading!

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Horns by Joe Hill

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a thunderous hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who was raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned musician and younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, he had security, wealth, and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more—he had Merrin and a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.

But Merrin’s death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. In the court of public opinion in Gideon, New Hampshire, Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters. Everyone, it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone, that is, but the devil inside.

My review:

I began reading Horns after James Fahy Author tagged me on Instagram:  #backofthebook – Horns Joe Hill.

Horns is one of those books that captures your attention right from the  start in a spectacular way. The main protagonist Ig, wakes up after a night of drunken debauchery with more than a mighty hangover. He finds a set of horns attached to his head, and these act like antennae giving him the ability to coerce people to tell him their darkest, most deeply hidden secrets. Time and time again the result is unequivocally shocking, making the reader reel at the depths to which people will have a hidden dark side. It makes us question just how much we really know our dear neighbours, friends, and family, who we love so much. Undoubtedly, we are all flawed human beings even the ones amongst us who we look up to  are  wretched sinners.

Horns is in part a love story, a tragic one, as Ig’s girlfriend, Merrin has been raped and murdered, and Ig is the prime suspect. Through the antennae effect, we get to learn the true reaction of his family, friends and the community to his possible culpability.

Horns isn’t easy reading and at times I definitely flinched. But it’s one of those books that draws you in and keeps you reading even though you want to look away. The villain is well crafted and engagingly horrible.  If you have a phobia of snakes I don’t recommend you read this novel! It will give you nightmares!

The faster pacing of the earlier chapters gives way to a slower mid section that explores Ig’s relationship with his long-term girlfriend Merrin, who by all accounts is his soul mate, the love of his life. Given her importance to the narrative, this weightier middle section is understandable but does slow down the pace of the novel somewhat.

There is a reveal with regard to Merrin which ties some of the loose threads together in a very interesting way. But I am still a bit unsure about the ending…. perhaps this is a novel that would benefit from a second reading. I did feel that the ‘happier’ ending didn’t quite fit with the rest of the book, but I wonder if it was added as a device to make it less grim and more marketable – particularly with regard to a potential film contract – the film was released in 2014.

I’d definitely read more from Joe Hill, and it’s not just because he’s Stephen King’s son! This is ‘my first,’ Joe Hill novel. With this introduction, I can see that he weaves a wonderfully enthralling tale that explores the darker side of humanity, which continues to fascinate me.

Would I recommend Horns? Yes, most definitely but only if you like novels that explore the darker, murkier side of life.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Bye for now,

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

My review:

Soulless by Gail Carriger is the first in the five book Parasol Protectorate steampunk series.  It’s quite a mixture: a  steampunk, Victorian, paranormal romance, fantasy, vampire, werewolf, mystery! In which Miss Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural who has ‘no soul,’ sets off a chain of events by killing a vampire with her much loved parasol. Highly recommended – really enjoyed this. It had me laughing out loud a lot, generally sniggering in various rooms in our house, and even in public places…  I had to stifle my hysterical laughter whilst drinking a cup of tea in Starbucks!

This was my first experience of reading a Steampunk novel, and I have to say it did make me want to read more in this genre.

I enjoyed the characterisation, even the subsidiary characters were well fleshed out and entertaining, but I particularly enjoyed the hilarious love scenes between the strident, confident, Alexia, and Lord Maccon, Earl of Woosley, a Scottish alpha werewolf and head of the B.U.R, (The Bureau of Unnatural Registration.) Lord Akeldama, the fashionable vampire with his male harem, was a positive treat. Equally, I loved Mrs. Loontwill, Alexia’s mother,  her two idiotic stepsisters, Evylin and Felicity, and Floote her long suffering butler.

More than anything this novel is full of FUN, and FROLICS. If you want a light-hearted read that will make you laugh and keep you laughing this is the one. If you want a serious read then I suggest you avoid this like the plague!

My rating: 4 stars

Authors Website: http://www.gailcarriger.com

Have you read Soulless? Do let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Bye for now, Happy Reading!!!

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Stephen King’s Revival

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties — addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate — Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe. 

My review: 

Revival is without doubt a very good read –  it’s bound to be – but somehow it falls a tiny bit short of a great read which is a bit of a disappointment for a Stephen King novel. Of course there is wonderful writing a plenty, particularly with regard to first love, loss, heartbreak, and death, but the slow middle section makes the narrative drag a little. The conclusion’s on the right track but ends up being so bizarre, (even though I could see what King was trying to say,) that I couldn’t quite take it on board at first reading. The ending benefits from a second reading if you can stomach it!  I’ve read through various reviews debating the final conclusion – what lies beyond death – a lot of readers found the ending pretty disturbing. In my opinion it kind of is, (nobody wants this outcome to be the truth,) and isn’t, because it’s verging on being too fantastical, talk about tripping! I expect that’s the point…. the final trip… electricity style!

Overall, I’d say do read Revival but be aware that it might or might not reach your exultantly high moon struck King expectations. If you have an addictive personality this book is for you! Reactions vary.  Nevertheless, Revival is certainly an entertaining read, portraying the main protagonist’s journey from childhood,  and youth to middle age, in a heady eclectic mix of music, (Jamie’s years playing guitar in a band,) family life, religion, love, sex, and loss, and Jamie’s downfall into drugs.  As well as addictive drugs we are introduced to pastor Charlie Daniel’s obsession  with electricity, his moving away from the church (after his young family die, in horrible circumstances – this is the pivotal point that shapes the story,)  resulting in his experimentation into the darker side of electricity, (with side effects that would make prescription drugs look pretty lame,) until he commits the ultimate terrible act against nature, and God.

I particularly enjoyed the dark humour reflections on getting older… just check these quotes and you’ll see what I mean:

“The three true ages of man are youth, middle age, and how the fuck did I get old so soon?”

“On the way home I remembered a bit of old folklore about how to boil a frog. You put it in cold water, then start turning up the heat. If you do it gradually, the frog is too stupid to jump out. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I decided it was an excellent metaphor for growing old.”

“When I was a teenager, I looked at over-fifties with pity and unease: they walked too slow, they talked too slow, they watched TV instead of going out to movies and concerts, their idea of a great party was hotpot with the neighbors and tucked into bed after the eleven o’clock news. But—like most other fifty-, sixty-, and seventysomethings who are in relative good health—I didn’t mind it so much when my turn came. Because the brain doesn’t age, although its ideas about the world may harden and there’s a greater tendency to run off at the mouth about how things were in the good old days.”

See what I mean, King really does understand how the body ages but the brain stays forever young. Cruel or what?

Music outlives us all…. see this quote and you’ll know what I mean…

“Music matters,” he told me once. “Pop fiction goes away, TV shows go away, and I defy you to tell me what you saw at the movies two years ago. But music lasts, even pop music. Especially pop music. Sneer at ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ if you want to, but people will still be listening to that silly piece of shit fifty”

My rating:

A difficult one to rate, on first reading – 4 stars. Might benefit from a second reading – the more I think about this one the more it intrigues me!

Have you read Revival? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of Stephen King?

Bye for now,

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Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Distance

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I didn’t know if I would find a photo for Hugh’s Weekly Photo prompt- distance – but it’s strange how sometimes distant things can literally be on your doorstep. Yesterday a flower peeped out from above me as I walked home from work. I saw a tempting triangle of sky – a promise of a mysterious place beyond it to explore. This little piece of sky is my distance shot, it leads to the river pathway that exists in my novel The Curse of Time, which is currently with beta readers awaiting critique. So distance can sometimes refer to something within your grasp which still seems far away like my  intention to publish. Both that piece of sky and my goals are a step away but if I try really hard, and believe in myself I will get there!

In Hugh’s words: For this week’s photo challenge take or choose a photo that shows an object that is in the distance. Maybe it’s a building or a wonderful view that contains an interesting object or scene that, although it is in the distance, shows up really well in the photo? Maybe you can spot where you are headed to from a plane or train and you’ve managed to capture it?

Want to join the fun? Here’s what you need to do.

1. Take or choose a photo that you’ve taken which defines Distance.
2. Create a new post on your blog entitled “Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 26 – ‘Distance’
3. Add the photo(s) you have taken to the post and tell us a little about what you are showing.
4. Create a pingback to this post or leave a link to your post in the comments section so other participants can view the post.

Not sure how to create a pingback? Click here for a step by step guide on how to create one.

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Do pop over to Hugh’s blog to join in the challenge: Hugh’s Photography Challenge: Distance

Hope you like my distance shot. Have a lovely week…

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My fun (totally not serious but nevertheless 90% true,) author bio on Wattpad – Link below.

Marjorie Mallon was born in Lion City: Singapore. She grew up in a mountainous court in Hong Kong. Her crazy parents dragged her  spotty soul away from her exotic childhood and her much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. There she mastered Scottish country dancing, haggis bashing, bagpipe playing and a whole new Och Aye lingo. 
As a teenager she travelled to many far flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. On one such occasion a  barracuda swam by. It stopped to view her  bikini clad body, longing to take a big bite. With dogs' fangs replacing barracudas' teeth, she returned to her mother's birthplace: Kuching, Cat City. There, Blackie, a black-hearted dog sniffed her frightened butt, whimpered and ran away! Shortly after this extraordinary event an angry female Orang-Utan chased her unfit ass out of the Malaysian jungle believing that she was a threat to her babies! She still monkeys about, would love to own a cat, or a replacement Topsy but refuses to entertain  murderous dogs, or over-protective monkeys.
It's rumoured that she lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters. 
After such an upbringing her author's mind has taken total leave of its senses. When she's not writing, she eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out she practises Tai Chi and Yoga on the crest of a wave. If the mood takes her she goes snorkelling with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes. 

She is a child of the light and the dark. Her motto is simply this: Do what you love,  stay true to your heart's desires, remain young at heart, and  inspire others to do so, even if it appears that the odds are stacked like black hearted shadows against you...

My Links: 

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My Kyrosmagica Review of Ravens Gathering

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but their unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences. And no one can explain why the ravens are gathering.

Ravens Gathering twists and turns as the truth is gradually exposed in a gripping thriller with a supernatural edge to it.

My review:

This is a very ambitious first novel, and on the whole Graeme Cumming does a fantastic job, creating a novel which is both highly imaginative, and unusual in many respects. The dialogue is believable, as is the detail in the various innocuous, homely settings: the pub, the farms, and this close knit English village.

Ravens Gathering does a shape shift through several different genres, embracing fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, police procedural, thriller, and horror.

The main character Martin Gates returns to this community, his home after a long time abroad. Martin’s reappearance is not welcomed with open arms by his family, in fact they appear to view his reappearance as something to avoid rather than embrace. To begin with Martin is a difficult character to engage with. His character is somewhat obtuse, but there are reasons for this, which become apparent as we read the book and realise why he is the way he is. We do get a sense of his outrage about being so unloved and uncared for by his family, and yet to begin with we have no idea why this the case. We can only speculate, but there’s no way that our speculations will be correct.

Equally, Tanya, and Ian aren’t particularly appealing either, and neither are Martin’s family. The further we get into the book it seems more and more likely that everyone in Ravens Gathering are flawed in some unique and individual way. The key words that initially come to mind are: selfish, shady, desperate for sexual diversions, or damaged in some way. 

The story unfolds slowly with a considerable amount of detail, making events more real. Shocking and disturbing revelations in the latter part of the novel don’t come as a complete surprise given the underlying sense of a community where something is terribly amiss. Nevertheless I had no idea of what was coming, and the shock factor of what did surprised, and appalled me in equal measure. This is a novel where you can’t help but go WTF!!!!!

The characters for the most part are not particularly lovable which initially distances the reader from them but that’s not meant as a criticism, in fact under the circumstances having read the story one realises why this is the case.

The bad guy is about as horrible, wicked, and debauched a villain as you can get.

This is a very complicated story that remains in your psyche for some time afterwards. It winds its way stretching the believability of the fantastical elements to the max, edging the story to its conclusion.

My recommendation: Definitely an author to watch out for, a well written, confident debut. Read if you like mysterious thrillers with a fantastical, but deeply shocking element.

Do connect with Graeme via his link below:

Graeme Cumming’s website

Have you read Ravens Gathering? Do comment below.

 

Bye for now,

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Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

 

My Kyrosmagica Review of Dark Room by Tom Becker

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Darla and her feckless dad, Hopper, move to Saffron Hills, Darla hopes it’ll be a new start for the both of them. But she stands no chance of fitting in with the image-obsessed in-crowd at her new school. Then one of her classmates is brutally killed when taking a photo of herself. A murder Darla herself predicted in a bloody vision. When more teens die in a similar fashion it appears that a serial killer is on the loose – the ‘Selfie Slayer’. Darla alone is convinced that the murderer might not be flesh and blood.

I’ve been participating in the #redeyereadalong on Goodreads, and this is the last book in the series,  read during the week 26th October 2015 – 31st October 2015.

I joined in the readalong with mixed feelings as I am a bit of a novice horror reader – I tend to be a trifle  scared of reading frightening stories – but astonishingly I have found it really fun and totally enthralling throughout. I whipped through those pages reading five books in super quick, heartbeat time! There have been moments when certain passages I’ve read have turned my stomach, or left me hugging my duvet for comfort but it has been such a positive experience overall. So thank you so much to Chelley who blogs at Tales of Yesterday and Heather from Heather Reviews for including me in this readalong.

My overall favourites are without a doubt, Frozen Charlotte from week 1 and this final book Dark Room from Week 5! So the best were first and last as far as I was concerned!

My review:

Dark Room certainly started off  dark and sinister and that’s a fact. The Prologue tells the tale of Walter West, a rich young chap, but don’t be fooled this, he is no sweet boy next door! If you are friends with Walter West and you’re young and pretty, don’t pop over to visit, well not unless you want to be viciously murdered.

In Chapter 1 we are introduced to the main protagonist a sixteen year old girl called Darla whose life has been hard, with a capital H, she certainly hasn’t had a fairy-tale existence. Her dad hopper is a drunken, hopeless fellow who runs from one unhappy experience to another. Her mother Sidney killed herself. Darla runs away from yet another bout of trouble with her dad Hopper to Saffron Hills. She finds that Saffron Hills has its fair share of  beautiful people, is obsessed with looking good, and is home to the Miss Saffron beauty pageant. Not exactly a place to make Darla feel at home as she is a fairly plain looking girl.

There are a bunch of mysteries to solve in this book so at times it came across more like a murder mystery than a horror story. Though there are elements of horror in Dark Room, the visions that Darla experiences are certainly horrible,  and this sense of terror is amplified by Darla having no control over these frightening and disturbing visions. As the story unfolds she starts to try to take control of these visions, but more about that later…

Darla meets with her artistic neighbour Annie, who befriends Darla and Hopper. Annie is a fascinating character too with a hidden aspect to her personality that is revealed later in the novel.

When more beautiful kids are killed Darla’s personality changes, she becomes this courageous kid investigating, trying to stop another murder from being committed. That’s when I really started to love Darla, undoubtedly she is the best character in the book, the one that you can’t help but root for.

Photography is used in a creative way as a device in this book, to reveal the next murder, but is also used to suggest the nastiness of the beautiful crowd. In one particular scene TJ takes a selfie with Darla to ridicule her and other plain girls like her.  Natalie, Gabrielle, Ryan, TJ, Carmen are beautiful on the outside, but inside they are mean, unlikable, thoughtless bullies. That is not a criticism of the book, the beautiful kids are meant to be portrayed this way, a message is intended to come across. Beauty is more than outward appearance it is what you hold in your heart. The cruel message finally gets through to one of the beautiful kids, who eventually turns over a new leaf.

Darla’s friend Sasha is an interesting but flawed character. She is pretty but in a non-conformist, punk style of way. She is also quite unlikable, and comes across as pretty uncaring, and glib, until one of the kids who she is secretly fond of in the beautiful clique gets murdered. Frank  appears to be Sasha’s errand boy, but even Frank has a side of him that is kept a mystery.

So a very intriguing story, full of mysteries, secrets, it kept me wondering, guessing… I guessed the murderer then I changed my mind, then I guessed again… Lots of excitement.

The ending was good but perhaps a bit far fetched so instead of a 5 star read I’ve reduced it by half a star!

Would I recommend reading this?

Absolutely, if you can stomach it!  The murders are visually gruesome, made me flinch in parts but nevertheless I found Dark Room very absorbing. So go out and get a copy… Just don’t do any selfies for a while…

Warning: Not For Younger Readers.

My rating:

4.5 stars

Links:

http://talesofyesterday.co.uk/2015/09/tales-post-red-eye-read-along-october-2015/

http://talesofyesterday.co.uk/2015/09/tales-qa-with-tom-becker/

http://www.welcometodarkside.co.uk/index.tao?PageId=Biography

Bye for now.

Do comment I’d love to hear your opinions. Have you read Dark Room or any of the other books in the #redeye series?

file

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

My Kyrosmagica Review of Sleepless by Lou Morgan

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My blog theme this month is spooky, scary, creepy stuff and nonsense in the lead up to Halloween, so with this in mind I joined the #redeyereadalong on Goodreads. I’ve already acquainted you with Frozen Charlotte, and now from 5th October 2015 – 11th October 2015,  I’ve read the second book in the #redeyereadalong, Sleepless by Lou Morgan, finishing a couple of days early!!!!

I finished this in super quick time, it was such a faced paced, exciting, adrenalin filled read.  Highly entertaining.

Here’s the Goodreads Synopsis:

Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.

What did I like about Sleepless?

Well first point I’d like to make is the excellent premise. A bunch of kids from a high achieving school, Clerkenwell, are about to sit their final exams and the pressure is well and truly on to get those perfect results, so they are tempted to take a little innocuous looking pill to make sure they get top marks.  The drug looks harmless but smells foul, that’s the first clue to the outcome. Clever use of this premise by Lou Morgan, she illustrates in vivid detail the nasty side of internet supplied drugs, in crazy, manic, horror fashion, and highlights the temptations that teenagers face in a modern world that is becoming more and more pressurised.

One the whole the characters are well crafted, but I would say that my two favourites are Izzy, and Grey. When these two team up later in the book, the story really starts to buzz with energy.  The beginning of the book builds up the story line slowly introducing the reader to this close knit group of friends. It gives you a view of the different personalities of the characters, not all of which came across as that appealing! Tigs, the instigator tempting the others to take the pills seems pretty brattish, and not particularly likeable. But often it is the characters that seem friendly and approachable that turn out to be not so nice. Lou Morgan explores this concept well by bringing  the worst aspects of the different personalities to the forefront in vivid detail after they have foolishly gulped down these study drugs. Result: Chaos, Fear, Dread, Mania, Sleep Deprivation, Hallucinations.

The book’s title Sleepless is a bit of a hint to one of the possible aspects of the drug. But it does not tell the reader the full story, even though sleeping is crucially important to the story line, believe me when I say there is so much more to come. What price will these youngsters have to pay to get those results?  The reality is shocking beyond the mere word Sleepless. Can you imagine what it would be like to suffer the most dreadful spate of insomnia, then add horrendous hallucinations, murderous intent and then you might be halfway there! I’ve suffered from difficulties sleeping from time to time so this really struck a chord with me, as I know just how wretched this can be. Then add into the horror scenario mix this foul smelling and foul behaving drug. Result: Shocking story.

The story tackles friendships well, and looks below the surface of relationships to question how much do friends know about each other?  Even in sibling relationships in which closeness is paramount, (the twin brother and sister, Mia and Dom,) startling truths are revealed. Just how well do we really know those we love? Again, I felt Sleepless handled this topic so well. The effects of the drug are far reaching, turning friends against each other. So faced with that kind of scenario who do you dare to trust?

The ending is great, but I had to read it twice to really understand what the author was trying to say!! Perhaps it was a bit ambiguous on first reading. So read the ending and the build up to the conclusion more than once to savour its startling implications!!

Warning: Sleepless is shocking in parts, one particular scene really turned my stomach, so this is not for younger readers, or those who don’t like reading anything too gruesome.

My rating:

4 stars.

Highly recommended to readers of YA, Horror, Mystery, Contemporary. Go out and read this now!!

Have you read Sleepless? Or any other good creepy books recently? Do comment and let me know.

Bye for now,

file

 

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

 

 

 

#Redeyereadalong Sleepless by Lou Morgan

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My blog theme this month is spooky, scary, creepy stuff and nonsense in the lead up to Halloween, so with this in mind I joined the #redeyereadalong on Goodreads. I’ve already acquainted you with Frozen Charlotte, and now from 5th October 2015 – 11th October 2015,  I’m reading the second book in the #redeyereadalong, Sleepless by Lou Morgan.

I’ve started it and believe me it is compelling reading…. 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Young, rich and good-looking, Izzy and her friends lead seemingly perfect lives. But exams are looming and at a school like Clerkenwell, failure is not an option. Luckily, Tigs has a solution. A small pill that will make revision a breeze and help them get the results they need. Desperate to succeed, the group begin taking the study drug. It doesn’t take long before they realize there are far worse things than failing a few exams.
Here are links to the two bloggers organising the Goodreads readalong:

Chelle at Tales of Yesterday:

http://talesofyesterday.co.uk/2015/09/tales-post-red-eye-read-along-october-2015/

http://talesofyesterday.co.uk/2015/10/spotlight-red-eye-read-along-sleepless-by-lou-morgan/

and Heather who also blogs about you guessed it, books….. :

https://heatherreviews.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/redeyereadalong-qa-with-lou-morgan/

https://heatherreviews.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/redeyereadalong-qa-with-alex-bell/

What are you reading, have you read any scary stories of late?

Bye for now,

file

Marje @Kyrosmagica xx

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