The Pencil Sharpener by D.S. Lucas

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Synopsis: Change is hard for Mitzi Miller, a spunky, elderly widow who misses her house and the way things used to be. After her husband dies, she regretfully sells the fixer-upper she owned for half-a-century. Mitzi is still homesick nearly five years later.
On her seventy-sixth birthday, she grants her own wish to return “home” with a bizarre request for an old pencil sharpener she left behind. There she embarks on a nostalgic journey led by her memories and the new owner’s bouncy dog.
Can this visit bring Mitzi the closure she needs to help her move on?

My review: A whimsical short story of a woman reclaiming her independence and life after the death of her husband.  Returning ‘home’ to ask for the return of a pencil sharpener left behind when she moved she ends up volunteering as a baby sitter, dog sitter and finally embarking on her new life after breaking away from her son and his overbearing new wife.

The book packs a lot in within it’s few short pages including many memories of the good times the family shared in the old house. It’s very saccharine but ultimately a pleasant short read

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Marked (The Soulseer Chronicles #1) by Sue Tingey

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Synopsis: With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.
But Kayla is not all that she appears.
And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.
Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.

My review: Sometimes I really love having started reviewing books. Especially when you get an email from a publisher saying would you like a paperback trilogy gift in return for some reviews? Yes please!

Lucky is of a rare breed of people that can see ghosts and spends her days writing books that debunk the fake psychics. Shes accompanied by her ghostly best friend Katya. Seeing ghosts everywhere means that Lucky has no other friends except Katya so lives a quiet existence working from home. Until she is asked to remove some ghosts at her old school and comes face to face with demon Henri le Dent who insists that Katya ‘comes home’.

Turns out Katya is not a ghost but demon royalty and of we go on an adventure to the Underlands on a journey of discovery complete with all new demon bodyguards and a dragon. Lots of twists and turns in this book. And for the most part it’s really good. I do think that when the truth of Lucky’s true parentage is revealed she takes it so much better than I probably would. In fact she doesn’t seem to question it much at all.

I think it’s classed as a paranormal romance but there’s hardly any romance… well apart from accidentally becoming engaged (‘marked’) by both a Guardian and a Death Bringer which is apparently unheard of. The ending of the book though promises much more movement on the romance front whether Lucky will have to choose between her handsome daemons or just share her life with them both.

It’s a fun book, it’s very descriptive. I love the rich detail of the demons with their exotic skin colours (maroon, aubergine, duck egg blue..), tails, horns and even wings. The author gives us such a rich book with her characters. For the most part they’re well developed, as much as they can be when nearly everyone is hiding a secret and we learn about Lucky as she does. I quite like that approach.

Overall it’s a fun flirty beach read and I’m looking forward to reading the next two.

Thanks to Hannah & Olivia at Quercus books and JoFletcher books for the hard copies

 

Rites of Azathoth by Frank Cavallo

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Synopsis: F.B.I. criminal profiler Diana Mancuso doesn’t do field work anymore. Not since a tragic mistake that cost innocent lives. But when notorious serial killer Luther Vayne escapes from prison and resumes his campaign of brutal murders, the Bureau convinces her to take one last case.
To catch him, she must understand him. She must delve into the arcana that fuels his madness, risking her life and her sanity to follow his twisted path.
The trail plunges her into a shadowy world of occult rituals and unspeakable horrors, leading to a secret cabal operating at the highest levels—and a plot to summon the darkest of all powers, to bring forth an evil that does not belong in our world—to enact the Rites of Azathoth

My review: When you download an e-book to kindle fire by the nature of the size it can hugely increase the number of pages of a book. This one is 450ish pages but on my indle comes out at just over 10,000. That’s 10000 swipes of a page. The last few I’ve read that long have been torturous to the point I’ve put off reading this book rather than face mind-numbing trek through a ‘large’ book.

That was a mistake as I loved this book and had the whole thing read in two days in and around putting in full days at work. We have a renegade FBI profiler, an archaeologist who specialises in ancient languages, a 70 year old blind serial killer, demon Gods from before civilisation began and a  possible apocalypse – it’s just my kind of crazy. What’s not to love about it???

It’s a cracking pace, a mix of view points from all the key players and a plot that’s just completely bonkers. It mixes murder mystery, police procedure and the esoteric so well with plenty of WTF moments. It’s just so much fun to read and I haven’t really felt that in a book for a long time. Absolutely loved it

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A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England by Monica Hall

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Synopsis: Could you successfully be a Georgian? Find yourself immersed in the pivotal world of Georgian England, exciting times to live in as everything was booming; the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the nascent Empire; inhabited by Mary Shelley, the Romantic Poets and their contemporaries. However, rather than just wondering about the famous or infamous, you will find everything you need to know in order to survive undetected among the ordinary people. What to wear, how to behave yourself in public, earn a living, and find somewhere to live. Very importantly, you will be given advice on how to stay on the right side of the law, and how to avoid getting seriously ill. Monica Hall creatively awakens this bygone era, filling the pages with all aspects of daily life within the period, calling upon diaries, illustrations, letters, poetry, prose, 18th century laws and archives. This detailed account intimately explores the ever changing lives of those who lived through Britain’s imperial prowess, the birth of modern capitalism, the reverence of the industrial revolution and the upheaval of great political reform and class division. A Visitor’s Guide to Georgian England will appeal to Romantic poetry lovers, social history fans, fiction and drama lovers, students and anyone with an interest in this revolutionary era

My review: This is not a bad little book. It’s quite interesting to read about the different parallels between the Georgians and today’s society such as their lampooning people via cartoon and our love of memes and twitter posts. We also share with our ancestors a love of eating out which quite surprised me.

This is a fun, sometimes funny account of what life was like back in the Georgian era. It’s not a stuffy history book but it is informative. It takes in fashion & make up, enlightenment, entertainment, cleanliness and gambling to name a few things and how, as a time traveller we could hope to fit in.

Sometimes it gets a bit lost with the time travelling/modern day angle but overall it’s a good starting place for anyone wanting to learn a bit of history

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The Unquiet Dead (Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak #1) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

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Synopsis: Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

My review: This is an interesting and eye opening debut. Really thought provoking. At the time of the Bosnian crisis I wrapped up in my own misery and while I know there was an atrocity I remember it mostly as headline news rather than the full details. So as well as a gripping murder mystery I found the book to be so educational. Like WW2 these are war crimes that should never be forgotten and even in fiction it’s possible to work towards bringing knowledge. So for that thank you.

The storyline itself – a man falls to his death and as there are links to Canadian minorities (Muslim survivors of the above atrocities) Khattak is brought in to dig deeper into the dead mans life when they discover he may not be the mild mannered arts lover his neighbours believed. There are such an array of characters in here. Everyone is unique and there’s enough to want to see how they develop in future books especially with each other.. The back stories give us a break for the norm with Khattak as the link to minority groups in Canada and his terrible taste in women! And his
partner Rachel Getty still living in an abusive parental household ad yet to really start to live. I found it easy to enjoy these characters despite the bleak storyline and I hope to read more.

For me personally two additional new experiences; a Muslim detective (although again despite the storyline the religion is there but doesn’t define him. And also Canada.

It started a bit slow but soon picked up pace and I managed to read it quite quickly. It’s gripping and one of the rare occasions where you really know the victim got what they deserve and do we really care whodunit?? (now there’s another thing to think about!)
So gripping, complex and thought provoking. An excellent debut

Wolf Slayer (Arctic Brotherhood #4) by Jane Godman

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Synopsis: Kyle Madden is the cop in charge of the elite task force hunting a murderer known as the Cage Killer. He is also a werewolf and a member of the Arctic Brotherhood. When his team find one of the Cage Killer’s victims alive, Madden faces some tough choices. It emerges that the crazed killer is targeting werewolves. Will Madden be able to uphold his vow to keep the human and werewolf parts of his life separate?
Maria Delgardo knows she is lucky to be alive after escaping the clutches of a serial killer. Even so, her injuries are horrific and the murderer has made it clear he intends to finish the job. She only feels safe with Madden, the handsome cop who rescued her from captivity. Maria’s whole world is turned upside down when he tells her the reason why she was chosen by the Cage Killer.

My review: The latest in the Arctic Brotherhood series and another cracking paranormal romance. While the last one covered the history& myths of these werewolves revolving around the Brotherhoods resident historian, this book is a murder mystery as cop Madden races to catch a serial killer.

I love how the stories match the job description and tie in with that individual rather than simply rehash the same story with different people as so often happens with romance of any kind. It gives these books a unique edge that make them stand out against the many paranormal stories out there.

As with the others it’s well written, great rounded characters and fast paced plot. We’re still no closer to chasing the bad guy but that’s fine as we have a few more of these books to go 🙂 and I liked how the (possibly) next one was set up giving me something to look forward. One of the great things about picking books from Netgalley is being able to discover new authors to read you may not have been introduced to before and this is one I’m really glad I found. 

I love it. Highly recommended

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Dead over Heels by Theresa Braun

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Synopsis: Veronica’s first date with Sebastian not only stirs up a powerful attraction, but also a series of supernatural events that will tear them apart.
After countless hours of dead end online dating, Veronica meets up with Sebastian at a reportedly haunted restaurant, since he knows she has a fascination with the paranormal. While enjoying their meals and each other’s company, they share a shocking supernatural experience. Their romantic connection is overshadowed by the ghosts of their own pasts that threaten to destroy their budding relationship. Veronica decides she must return to the restaurant to face her past and dig up more answers. Unfortunately, she realizes she must go back, this time with a reluctant Sebastian. In the end, they join forces against the evil that stands between them, but will they make it out alive?

My review: This is a great short story. Veronica meets Sebastian after chatting on a dating site. They choose a supposedly haunted restaurant as their first date and lo and behold they see ghosts as they enjoy their meal. A couple lovingly sharing date night long after they’ve left this earth. Quite sweet you think but when V&S go back there for Christmas Eve the ghosts aren’t so friendly

History is repeating itself, trapped in a loop that reveals a shared past they weren’t aware they had.

It’s very well written, beautifully described and works well as a short story. Recommended

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Out now

Dead and Delicious (Eternally Yours Book 5) by Tara West

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Synopsis: Two zombies and one skeleton on a road trip to Vegas to kill a witch, stop an apocalypse, and rescue their friends from the belly of a shadow dragon.
Nothing weird about that.
Five things I learned while being a fallen angel zombie:
1. Duct tape works better than embalming.
2. Alopecia is not my favorite hairstyle.
3. Fried demons smell like bacon.
4. This brain breath is affecting my love life.
5. Nothing ruins a honeymoon like an apocalypse.

My review: This book is icky but in a great way! I absolutely loved it. I’ve joined late in the game as I haven’t read the first two books but I didn’t feel I had to. There’s enough description to just pick up and book 3 and go along for the ride. And it is a ride. 

Ash and Aedan are turned into zombies as a mad witch tries to start an apocalypse. They need to track her down and kill her in order to save the world. Not so easy when the body parts start falling off…

The ick came from all the explosive diarrhea, belching, and gorging on dead things that happen when you’re a zombie with a wheat intolerance but it’s fun ick. I’ve read so much worse. This just made me cringe, laugh and carry on reading for more. It’s just good fun. Loved it, highly recommended.

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Little One by Timothy G. Huguenin

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Synopsis: Kelsea Stone can’t remember her childhood, and frankly, she doesn’t really care. She’s doing fine on her own in L.A. without any family to tie her down. But when she finds out her estranged birth parents have died and left her their house in Canaan Valley, West Virginia, she discovers more than just an inheritance waiting for her in the mountains. An angry presence lingers there, and it won’t rest until it has had its revenge

My review: This is a good little ghost story. At first I thought I was going to end up with some YA romance (despite picking up a horror title) but it ends up being quite the opposite. Kelsea arrives at her family home in the middle of nowhere just as the worst snow storm ever is about to hit. Turns out she can’t remember her childhood as she’s spent a life I care and has blocked out all past after believing her (now deceased) parents gave her away.

The ghost in question is out for vengeance and at first (little spoiler) we think she’s ready to haunt Kelsea but again it quickly comes apparent the ghost has someone else in mine. What’s discovered quite early on is that the ghost in question is a 6 year old little girl  but one with a fair bit of ghostly power. She can rip books, turn locks and much more. Kelsea is probably the only one in this book who is exactly as she seems.

It’s a short book which loses a bit of the story, I think maybe some of the sidebar stories of the supplementary characters could have been given more time. But it’s a quick read, a good page turner and I’ll probably track down more of the authors works because of it.

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Final Girls by Riley Sager

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Synopsis: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

My review: This book had more twists and turns than a Formula 1 motor race!! It grips you right from the beginning and doesn’t let up. Quincey, sole survivor of a cabin in the woods massacre (seriously I am never going glamping – in books and films everyone always dies….) and seems to have her life on track – her own business, home and  a loving boyfriend. But with the death of another survivor Lisa and 3rd in this set of girls (Sam) turning up on her door step it soon becomes obvious that Quincey’s life is a façade, hiding behind Xanax and red wine to get her through life. Sam isn’t all she seems (to say why would be a spoiler) and pushes Quincey further and further into releasing pent up anger in a  desperate bid to get her to remember the night of the murders. And when she does there’s the last twist in the tale.

There’s a mix of current day events and flashbacks to the murderous night in question as Quin struggles to cope with her spiralling life and the pressure to remember just what happened. It’s very taut and tight thriller. No wasted words. It just flows so well in some parts a little unsettling with how far Sam is willing to push Quin and open up her memory. And a little bit shocking of how far the previously baking queen ends up going.

Overall I couldn’t put it down. It’s a great thriller and highly recommended

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Out 13th July 2017