Review of World’s Scariest Places – Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

Suicide Forest (World's Scariest Places #1)Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mainly follows the story of Ethan and Mel, an American couple staying in Japan. When their trip to climb Mount Fuji is cancelled, they are left stranded in the local area with a group of people and nothing to do. So, with nothing better to do they decide to camp out in the Aokigahara, known to locals as “Suicide Forest”.
The story had an interesting and intriguing premise as a base of a story and the author seems to have researched a lot of detail making it very realistic. Although the story started off a little slowly, once it started to build the tension it kept going. It is not a light-hearted thriller! The location of course was amazing, and the author’s descriptions are mesmeric. The novel is easy to read, but is also dramatic and hard-hitting with the story flowing naturally. Suspense, horror, treacherous terrain and odd incidents all add to this dramatic tale.
I did feel there was a lot of backstory to the characters given that wasn’t really necessary such as Ethan’s brother and, his ex, Mel’s ex. However that said there was enough interesting characters in the group to cause suspicion and intrigue, that did have me wondering if it was one of them trying to scare the others and if so who?
This is book one in the series “World’s Scariest Places”. I have also read book 2 – “The Catacombs” with a review to follow shortly. I love the concept of this series that each of the books takes place in a real setting. These books will appeal to fans of Stephen King’s earlier work, Graham Masterton or Richard Layton. They are dark, twisted and gritty storylines with plenty of action (and the odd bit of compassion) to keep the reader going. Looking forward to future reads from this author.

View all my reviews

At the time of writing book three in the series is actually free as an e-book on amazon :-

Review of To Honour the Dead by John Dean

To Honour the DeadTo Honour the Dead by John Dean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel follows Chief Inspector Jack Harris, a detective chief inspector in a remote areas police force. After years of big city police work, he heads back to his home town and local police department for an easier life. However that’s not what the local countryside has intended for him! The novel starts quickly with a murder/suspicious death having already taken place. When a war memorial is the defaced the town’s tensions start to run high. Was it the manic mother of the questionable victim? Or someone with darker intentions. When a further murder happens, and the victim’s VC is stolen, action needs to be taken. It seems Jack Harris has stumbled across a hornets nest of problems, not the quiet country life he had imagined.

The concept of this book was great and I thought it was a great read. A surprising and gripping take on a murder investigation. Dean’s writing style was great and adapted to each situation well, it is quick paced and exciting when going through the investigations but also compelling when dealing with the characters side of the story, particularly touching with the veteran storyline.

The contemporary settings and characters are a really nice touch, Dean captures the differences between country and city living nicely. Harris’s interactions between his team, his dogs and his superiors also help the story grow throughout the novel.
This story had a great pace and with the Veteran theme providing a gentle touch to this crime storyline. Definitely a recommended read.

View all my reviews

Review of The Kings & Queens of Anglo Saxon England by Timothy Venning – Factual Book

The Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon EnglandThe Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon England by Timothy Venning
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After having my attention captured by the recent Vikings tv series I wanted to discover more about the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and those who ran them. I came across this book in a local book store and it seemed to cover a good deal.
My only complaints/improvements are it would have been nice for this book to have an index so that when someone is mentioned you could find them rather than needing to know the dates they ruled first. I would also have liked to have seen some family tree or hierarchical diagrams as sometimes with similar names being involved it became a bit confusing how each person was related.
However, those two little things aside, this book is a really great resource. Very well researched with a lot of information available.

View all my reviews

Review of Charming by Krystal Wade

CharmingCharming by Krystal Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is set around Sixteen-year-old Haley Tremaine (the Cinderella of the tale). She once had it all: went to the best school, had a fantastic family, and a bright future, but all of that changed when an accident tore her family apart. Now, an alcoholic father, a bitter younger sister, and a cold headstone bearing her mother’s name are all she has left. Then she meets the enigmatic Chris Charming, someone who has little in common with her new life. Can she trust him? With a murderer on the loose who seems determined to hurt those around Haley, she may have no choice.
The concept of this book was great and I thought it was a great read. A surprising and gripping take on the modern world of a Cinderella heroine. I like Wade’s writing style, it is quick paced and adapts well to each characters side of the story. This probably leans a little more into YA territory for me than other reviewers have suggested but that didn’t deteriorate from the plot, just the use of teenage woes and slang that are aimed at a slightly younger reader.
The contemporary settings and characters are a really nice touch, Haley works in a candle shop that was once owned by her mother. I thought this was a great little descriptive detail. The abusive father at home was also very well described and really make you care for Haley and what happens to her.
This story had a great concept, I loved the modern twists and a great ending. A good read.

View all my reviews

Review of Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Rush of BloodRush of Blood by Mark Billingham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While on vacation a young girl goes missing and later turns up murdered. Three couples who met while on holiday all appear to have nothing to hide and nothing to do with the crime. But as each person is questioned, gaps in their stories appear. Could one of them have committed the unthinkable? If so, which one.
The concept of this book was great and I thought it would be a great read. I like Mark Billingham’s writing style, it is quick paced and adapts well to each characters side of the story. Although I couldn’t decide if it was deliberate choice of the writer or not, but none of the characters in this book were likeable and although I kept reading to the end it was out of determination more than enjoyment. I got to the point where I really didn’t care which of them it was!
I couldn’t help thinking this could have been a much more interesting story. It had a solid foundation and a lot of quirky little details that could have really brought it terrifyingly to life, any one of these people could be your neighbour, co-worker or even friend. However it started to feel dull and repetitive, it took quite a long time for any interesting details to be revealed, in fact throughout most of the middle of the story not a lot really happened.
This story had a great concept and I think it could have been excellent – Linwood Barclay has written similar storylines that have worked out very well. However the characters weren’t great with no-one to really champion or care about.
Bit of a disappointment (from a Mark Billingham fan). All round okay read but could have been great!

View all my reviews

Review of The Library by Carmen De Sousa

The Library: Where Life Checks OutThe Library: Where Life Checks Out by Carmen DeSousa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This mainly follows the story of Mark Waters a homicide detective. When investigating a case he comes across a beautiful young barmaid who is suspect in a murder case. Months later the couple are together, with a baby on the way, a baby that isn’t Mark’s. Alongside Marks troubled social life he is called in to investigate a new murder in a local library. Mark’s new in-laws could be caught up in the case and with difficult decisions ahead Mark’s investigation takes some interesting turns.

The story had an interesting premise and with a touch of paranormal involved I was looking forward to this read and it didn’t disappoint. It is a light-hearted cosy thriller that is easy to read and flows quite naturally. I did feel the characters could be explored/ explained a little more as there was gaps in their personalities with quite a lot of characters for the novel length but I am hoping that is because the author is creating a series and looking to grow the characters.

The authors writing style is quite slow making this story ideal for lazy afternoon reads. Although there are a few action based scenes, it is mostly a book about the investigation and waiting for the clues to drop, with enough twists to keep the reader guessing.

View all my reviews

Review of Secrets of a Whitby Girl by Jessica Blair – 4 Stars

Secrets of a Whitby GirlSecrets of a Whitby Girl by Jessica Blair
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This multi-viewpoint novel mainly follows the stories & diaries of three sisters living in Whitby in the 19th Century. With both Arabella and Harriett seeking the attentions of the Sea King Captain, it is immediately evident someone’s heart will be broken. Charley their brother has no desire to take over their fathers business and instead plans to stow away aboard the Sea King. With the Sea King regularly going on treacherous whaling voyages, each time it sails off the family fear what will happen next.

Having visited Whitby the settings in this book where excellent and true to form and the historical scenes like the actual whaling are really well described and action filled.

The authors writing style is quite slow making this story ideal for lazy afternoon reads. Although as mentioned, there are a few action based scenes, it is mostly a book about waiting for the ship to arrive, meaning it is quite drawn out.

The Bad:
I did find the book quite difficult to get into initially, I think largely due to the pace, but I did want to know what would happen, and the synopsis had intrigued me enough to keep up with it and I am quite glad that I did as once you finish the book it is quite endearing and heart-warming.

The Good:
I loved the ending of this book, although I won’t give it away on here. I also loved the way the stiff father grew throughout the book to appreciate his children. I would certainly be intrigued to read other books by Jessica Blair.

View all my reviews

Review of Under the Ice by Aaron Paul Lazar – 4 Stars

Under the Ice (LeGarde Mystery #9)Under the Ice by Aaron Paul Lazar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Apparently this is number nine in the Gus LeGarde Mystery series. So I would give this author a pat on the back with how well this book is written. Having not read a single previous book in the series I dropped right into this one, picked up the characters, the locations and their lives all without realizing it was the ninth in the series until the very end when prompted to buy another in the series.

As mentioned above the characters and locations are all well written and you are immediately drawn into this busy family and their lives together. The story is mainly about Gus Le Garde and his step-daughter, Shelby. She is the main reason the book has dropped a star from me. Apparently she was in a coma from the age of 6 to 15, then came out and is living a normal teenage life, with the teenage attitude accompanied and even learning to drive. All a little bit far-fetched.

That aside, the storyline is actually really good. Shelby has discovered boys and dating, has the typical teenage angst and more importantly her biological father is getting out of prison and has apparently turned over a new leaf. Plenty to keep Gus on his toes and concerned about her. But with several grandchildren cluttering up the house, a serious flu and his best friend becoming so paralysed with fear he is practically homebound, Gus certainly has his work cut out for him. Can he keep it all together?
Guy is a likeable character who you do root for quickly. He is just nice, an all round good guy who seems to come up against problem after problem.

This novel is somewhere in between the genres of cosy mystery and thriller. Something that can be read quite quickly, easily and manages to keep the reader engaged.

View all my reviews

Review of Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so you might be thinking who the hell am I to be doing a review of Bram Stoker? He’s a classic, you must have a Degree in Literature, several years publishing knowledge and be widely read on all Classical Literature, right?
Well, that’s exactly the thought that made me want to post this review. I’ll start with the confession. I managed to make it to the ripe old age of 27 without having ever read Dracula. The proper novel. I have read a lot of authors in this genre, Anne Rice, Rachel Caine, Stephenie Meyer, Laurell K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris etc etc. Not to mention the countless movies. I would say in some ways I’m addicted to this genre yet I had never read the proper Dracula *hangs head in shame*.

So anyway, to the review. The reason I wanted to review this book is because it is actually amazing. Published in 1897, you would expect this novel to be stuffy and uptight, full of complicated language that is no longer in use, or that you cannot get your head around (*cough – we have all read classics like this, don’t deny it!). This is different, it flows so well, it’s exciting, and despite the many retellings I did wonder at one point which way the story would go.

The story is what we all know and love. The young, dashing, soon to be wed, Jonathan Harker visits Count Dracula to sort out some paperwork.
However he soon works out that the Castle is not all it seems and neither is the enigmatic Dracula. Soon Lucy begins sleepwalking nightly and each day feels more and more retched, can the intelligent Dr Abraham Van Helsing save her? What about poor Mina, Harkers fiancée, who also starts to suffer in a similar manner?

So there you have it, probably the same review others have made regurgitated in a prosaic manner, but hopefully it may inspire just a few individuals who are undecided to read this book and see if they agree.

View all my reviews

Review of Return (Matt Turner – Book 3) by Michael Siemsen

Return (Matt Turner, #3)Return by Michael Siemsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I downloaded this book straight away after reading Matty, the short story which drew me back into the Matt saga. This is a GOOD read. I loved the first of the Matt Turner stories, the second was a little bit disappointing as the story seems disjointed a little in places. However this story really flew for me and I couldn’t help wanting to know what happened next. Siemsens writing is really back on top form.

The story revolves around Matt and his ability to pick an artefact and read its story. This time the plot is neat and tight and with the artefact being treasures of a long lost library what’s not to love? I love that Matt’s story has evolved in this book too, he is finding himself and getting control of his abilities instead of fearing them. I love that some old characters show up in this novel and that Siemsen has given them stronger roles in this novel.

This is a fast paced story getting to the action quickly, it drops loads of amazing little details and clues along the historical storyline that make this book well believable, in a bizarre way. The settings are immense particularly Alexandria. The ending was great, I felt so thrilled for Matt and still want to know what will happen to him next, although I suspect the author was wrapping the plot up there.

This series really is an odd blend, it is definitely not historical fiction and it’s not paranormal or even sci-fi, but an intriguing blend. An action filled trilogy that is an unusual read. These books would appeal to fans of Elly Griffiths, Phil Rickman, Barbara Erskine or Michael Schmicker type novels.

View all my reviews

Review of The Opal (Matt Turner book 2) – here
Review of The Dig (Matt Turner book 1) – here