Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to the tour and to Orion Fiction for the ARC.

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ABOUT THE BOOK: The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me. 
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder. 
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

 

My Review

I loved this. The spooky, gothic, atmospheric feel of the writing made it seem as though I was in the village as an onlooker watching the events unfold. It was very reminiscent of the UK television show, Midsomer Murders…small villages disrupted by a heinous crime but no one wants to help because they like to keep themselves to themselves and fix their own problems.

There are twists and turns, literally at every corner and the characters are brilliantly written. For a debut novel this is superb. I’m looking forward to Sam Hurcom’s future writing.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sam-Hurcom-634x900About the author

Sam Hurcom was born in Dinas Powys, South Wales in 1991. He studied Philosophy at Cardiff University, attaining both an undergraduate and master’s degree. He has since had several short stories published and has written and illustrated a number of children’s books. Sam currently lives in the village he was raised in, close to the woodlands that have always inspired his writing.

A SHADOW ON THE LENS is Sam’s debut novel.

 

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BLOG TOUR: Torment – Mark Tilbury

Huge thanks to Mark Tilbury for my invitation to this tour and to Bloodhound Books for my ARC.

torment coverWho can you really trust?

Beth Cruikshank couldn’t be happier. She is eight weeks pregnant and married to the man of her dreams. But after returning home from a celebratory meal, she finds a wreath from her sister’s grave hanging above the bed and a kitchen knife embedded in her pillow. There are no signs of a forced entry. Nothing is stolen. And no one other than the cleaner has a key to the house.

And then a campaign of terror begins. Beth becomes increasingly paranoid as it becomes clear that someone close to the family is behind these disturbing events.

But who would want Beth dead?

Can Beth find the answer before it’s too late?

Torment is a story of misplaced loyalty, revenge and sacrifice.

My Review

Beth and David Cruickshank are finally expecting their first child after she tragically suffered from three miscarriages. Since finding a burnt dream-catcher, a wreath from her sister’s grave and a knife through her pillow, Beth soon realises that someone is hell-bent on making their life a misery.

Who is doing this, and why? What has Beth possibly done in her past to make someone hate her so much?

How Mark keeps you in suspense is beyond me. This is a true testament of a fantastic writer. Although this wasn’t one of his usual ‘sicko’ novels, which I have learnt to love, there are a couple of gruesome parts in it which kept me hooked; this probably says more about me that it does him!

A brilliant read! Rating: 4/5

Mark Tilbury Author picAbout the author

Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised. After being widowed and raising his two daughters, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had seven novels published by Bloodhound Books, including his most recent release, Torment.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found playing guitar, reading and walking.

Torment Blitz Dates

BLOG TOUR: Arguing with the Dead – Alex Nye

Thank you to Fledgling Press and Love Books for my invitation to the tour.

arguing-with-the-dead-Final Cover

The year is 1839, and Mary Shelley – the woman who wrote Frankenstein – is living alone in a tiny cottage on the banks of the river Thames in Putney. As she sorts through the snowstorm of her husband’s scattered papers she is reminded of their past: the half-ruined villas in Italy, the stormy relationship with Shelley and her stepsister Claire, the loss of her children, the attempted kidnapping of Claire’s daughter Allegra from a prison-like convent in Florence. And finally, her husband’s drowning on the Gulf of Spezia as they stayed in a grim-looking fortress overlooking the sea. What she has never confided in anyone is that she has always been haunted by Shelley’s drowned first wife, Harriet, who would come to visit her in the night as she slept with her two tiny children in a vast abandoned villa while Shelley was away litigating with lawyers. Did Mary pay the ultimate price for loving Shelley? Who will Harriet come for next?

 

My Review

Arguing With The Dead, tells the tale of Mary’s struggles with guilt from being borne to a mother who dies from childbirth complications and highlighting the unadulterated reality of living in 17th century London and further afield in Europe.

It’s a dark tale that is beautifully written. Alex Nye has captured Mary Shelley in a way that I didn’t think we’d see. To most she’s just the author of Frankenstein but she is so much more than that. In a time when women were pressured into being dependent on a man, Nye has given Mary a voice, which would certainly have been frowned upon during this period. It’s bizarre to think that Mary wrote Frankenstein at aged 19, only 19! I can only assume that not in her wildest dreams would she ever think that her writing would be the benchmark for all future horror novelists.

Historical fiction is not what I usually read but this has given me the taste for more because I absolutely loved it.

Rating: 4/5

anyeAbout the author

Alex Nye was born in Leicester, England. She writes for both adults and children. Her children‘s novel Chill won a Scottish Children’s Book Award in 2007. Her historical novel For My Sins, based on the life of Mary Queen of Scots was published in 2017.

 

Arguing DEad

BLOG TOUR: The Holiday – T.M. Logan

Thank you to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to the tour and to Zaffre for my ARC.

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SEVEN DAYS, THREE FAMILIES, ONE KILLER

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends, their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Provence.

But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends.

One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.

Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

My Review

Will Kate find out the truth of her suspicions? If so, to whose cost?

I have to admit that I got annoyed with Kate as to why she didn’t just ask her husband Sean outright what was going on instead of listening to his excuses and then to have her ponder on it for hours or days on end. Just when you think you’re about to learn something new about all the goings-on, someone or something gets in the way. It was extremely frustrating!

I did however, love the way each chapter was from a different person’s perspective, a style which I absolutely adore. Like an actor is able to make you loathe or love them when playing a role, Logan is able to make you feel the same way about his characters. This shows a true writer’s skill.

A superbly fantastic read that keeps you in suspense literally right until the last pages.  I’m sure many reviews will say this is a great summer holiday read, which it is, but this will also be equally great tucked up in bed with a hot chocolate and the rain beating on the window in the middle of a dreary November.

A brilliant read! Rating: 4/5

tmloganAbout the author

TM Logan was born in Berkshire to an English father and a German mother. He studied at Queen Mary and Cardiff universities before becoming a national newspaper journalist. He currently works in communications, in the field of higher education, and lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

His debut thriller LIES was a blockbuster bestseller, one of the top ebooks of 2017, and sold over 300,000 copies. His second novel 29 Seconds was longlisted for the Specsaver National Book Award.

You can follow TM Logan on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor

 

The Holiday Tour Poster

Recursion – Blake Crouch

recursionTime travel is real.

Barry Sutton, a police officer, tries to coax a suicidal woman off a building’s edge.

Helena Smith, a neuroscientist, wants to help those (including her mother) whose memories are lost due to Alzheimer’s disease.

Marcus Slade, a very wealthy inventor, puts Helena’s dream into practice by creating a chair where memories can be recreated and relived.

Barry, Helena and Marcus come together and discover that even though the chair’s invention is well-meant, it can have catastrophic consequences.

I had great expectations for this as I was blown away by Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter but I didn’t think this was as good. I was reading a certain scene then, without warning, all of a sudden it jumps into another scenario with a change of town, country, weather etc. It felt very disjointed. Don’t get me wrong, this was brilliantly written but to be honest it got confusing with all the flitting back and forth.

This wasn’t really for me, but if you love sci-fi and time-travel novels this comes highly recommended.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ebook.

Rating: 3.5/5

BLOG TOUR: The Sunday Girl – Pip Drysdale

I am hugely excited to review for my first ever Blog Tour and massive thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my invitation.

The Sunday Girl Cover“The Girl on the Train meets Before I Go to Sleep in this chilling tale of love gone horribly wrong …”

 “Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.”

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.

Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’

So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step – one that will change her life forever.

Things start to spiral out of her control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

My Review

What’s the saying? ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, well Taylor Bishop certainly has fury in abundance.

The Sunday Girl sees Taylor plot revenge against her abusive ex, Angus, for posting a sex video online. She does so after heeding advice from a serendipitous copy of Sun Tzu’s, ‘The Art of War’.

Whilst reading this I realised that the majority of the books I read are written in the third person; this was written in the first person which helped me to see things from Taylor’s perspective. At times I thought, go on girl! At other times I cringed at her intentions and thought there’s no way she’ll get away with that!

Taylor and Angus’ relationship is unpredictable, especially on his side which is what kept me hooked. This thriller was right up my street. It kept me reading way past my bedtime and at one point even made me late for work!

For a debut novel this is absolutely fantastic. I look forward to reading more from this author. Pip Drysdale is definitely one to watch!

Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for my ARC copy.

About the authorthumbnail_Author Image, c Frank Faller High-res

Pip Drysdale is a writer, actor and musician who grew up in Africa and Australia. At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theatre, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Pip moved to London where she dated some interesting men and played shows across Europe. The Sunday Girl is her first novel and she is working on a second. She currently lives in Australia.

FINAL Sunday Girl BT Poster

 

The Passengers – John Marrs

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Set in the not-so-distant future, eight people get in their cars unknowingly that the next 2.5 hours may be their last.

Among the eight are: a pregnant woman, a British actress, an abused wife, a war hero, a husband and wife (in separate cars), an illegal immigrant and a suicidal man. Collectively they are known as The Passengers. They are all in autonomous cars which are hacked by an unknown aggressor. The Hacker provides the public with newfound information on each person and with help from worldwide social media, the global community must decide out of the eight, which Passenger survives.

This is fast-paced book and very thought-provoking in that these driverless cars are already in development and that this tale could in fact happen.

I’m a huge fan of John Marrs and I don’t think this was a patch on The One or The Good Samaritan but it’s way up there!

Rating: 7/10

As Long As We Both Shall Live – JoAnn Chaney

cover161317-mediumThank you to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for this ARC.

Matt has been married twice. Matt has also been a widower, twice.

Is he a very unlucky husband or a calculated killer?

When I read the blurb on this it looked right up my street. Set across two timelines, it details Matt’s time with both of his wives Janice who tragically died in a house fire, then 20 years later, Marie who met her fate after falling from a cliff.

I felt this had a lot of peaks and troughs but when I got to about 60%, BAM! It got brilliant.

If like me, there is anyone who is struggling with this, I urge you to persevere, you will not be disappointed!

Rating: 8/10

Bird Box – Josh Malerman

birdbox~~~ Contains spoilers ~~~

Written across two timelines, Malorie and her two children have survived several years of torment by something they must not see. Wearing blindfolds when venturing outside for fear of seeing the ‘thing’; this is their story and that of the people they meet along the way.

This is a brilliant and original concept. Initially it was creepy and when reading it in the dark I was hearing all sorts of noises in the house. This is what I want from a great horror story! But it let me down. Immensely.

I love a good gory thriller/horror story and at the start I thought it was great. There were quite a few people killing themselves and others after seeing the ‘thing’. But then it stops. From about half-way through I would have happily given it to my 11 year old son to read. I kept on it as I was hoping that the gore would re-emerge and apart from a scene after a woman gives birth, the horror simply isn’t there. It’s a vaguely memorable story. I finished it less than 12 hours ago and I don’t remember a lot of it.

It’s a fantastic premise. But it seemed as if the author just wanted the book finished, it felt rushed. It also posed a lot more questions than answers: what happened to the bodies from the house? Why was Tom’s voice on the recording? When did he do that? When they got to the refuge, why was it ok for some people not to wear their blindfolds? Why did Malorie call the children ‘girl’ and ‘boy’? I understood why she did this but why did they never question why she called them this when they did have names? And the one question of which I’m sure everyone wants the answer; exactly what is the ‘thing’ that everyone was terrified of?

If there is a sequel to this, I will not be reading it.

There’s film tie-in to the book and I’ve heard that it is a lot different to the film (aren’t they always!) so I may watch it, I may not. But if this too leaves a lot of unanswered questions, I don’t think I’ll bother.

Rating: 5/10

You Belong to Me – Mark Tilbury

youbelongtomeThis is a tale of four school friends; Danny (son to a chain-smoking mother), Rob (a self-harmer), Kieran (a born-again Christian) and Josh (an alcoholic motor mouth), all hell-bent on revenge for a secret they were forced to keep when they were teenagers. Nine years later, a similar event has reopened old wounds and they will do anything to make things right.

Written across two time lines, it’s an extremely dark tale. Grisly, sad and at times, uncomfortable.

It’s a very believable story, which quite frankly, is frightening.

Mark’s writing style makes it a very easy read and keeps you wanting more.

Even though I loved this book the characters are really annoying in their own unique way.
Danny. He is a bit of a sap. His mother exasperated him but he never confronted her about anything that was bothering him.
Rob. A wannabe thug living in his brother Pete’s shadow.
Josh. He never knows when to keep his mouth shut, even if he knows it will get him into trouble.
Kieran. A former drug addict and gambler turned devout Christian. He knows that praying doesn’t always go to plan.
Calum. Danny’s brother. He is instantly hateable.

The way Mark writes makes you want to either punch them in the face or give them a bloody good shake and say “what’s the matter with you?!”

Like a film director who manages to make you love or hate certain characters, Mark Tilbury does this with his writing. Fantastic.