Sometimes a change of scene is necessary to write the next scene…
When bestselling romance author Chloe Piper’s marriage implodes a week before Christmas, she flees her cheating ex and the village gossips for the solitude of the newly built Sunny Meadow Farm and the company of her hapless dog, Ronnie.
But Chloe is soon pushed out of her comfort zone. Because with a lively development building crew – headed up by charming Alex – and a larger-than-life neighbour determined to make Chloe’s love life her pet project, Chloe finds herself in a whole new world of chaos…
This enthralling romantic comedy of self-discovery and new beginnings is perfect for fans of Kirsty Greenwood, Colleen Coleman and Marian Keyes.
I want to thank Canelo for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
So I read a fab review back in July over at Zooloo’s Book Diary (you can read it here) and I remembered I too had a copy of this but it’s taken me until now to read it due to the worst reading slump I think I’ve ever had. As they say better late than never!
Chloe Piper is the unlikely author of a racy bestseller. She escapes from a cheating husband to settle in a converted farmhouse for what she thinks is some peace to work on her second novel. Unfortunately, writer’s block is getting the better of her.
After a drunken night she signs up to a Singleton club run by her neighbours, Eleanor and Fairfax. The thought of going to the events terrifies her as her low self-esteem and social anxiety cripples her. Will she get out of her comfort zone and find the man she deserves?
Suddenly Single is one of those fun light hearted reads but it also covers the serious topic of mental health, specifically social anxiety.
I really liked Chloe, I just warmed to her immediately. It was a real treat to watch her grow and believe in herself as the story progressed. I also loved her cheeky dog Ronnie, he stole the show occasionally through the story!
I have to say I may not be single, but I’d love to go to the singletons club! They had so many fun events scattered throughout the novel I’d love to try! Of course, Coronavirus would prevent most of them now, but it was nice to live vicariously through the characters for a while.
I wished there was a little more humour, probably a lot of it went over my head, but that’s just my opinion!
If you’re looking for a bit of escapism from the way the world is right now, I’d highly recommend Suddenly Single!
About The Author:
Winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer is a best-selling author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.
A move to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST, the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and Top 150 USA Today best-seller.
A second series featuring DI Natalie Ward quickly followed and to date her novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets, including into Norwegian, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian Slovak, Czech and Polish.
Next year sees the arrival of the much anticipated DI Kate Young series, with AN EYE FOR AN EYE out in February 2021.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.
She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.
This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.
BUTTERFLY ISLAND by C.J. Tudor
RESEARCH by Tim Lebbon
SWANSKIN by Alison Littlewood
THAT’S THE SPIRIT by Sarah Lotz
GAVE by Michael Bailey
WHEREVER YOU LOOK by Ramsey Campbell
SAME TIME NEXT YEAR by Angela Slatter
MINE SEVEN by Elana Gomel
IT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT by Michael Marshall Smith
CREEPING IVY by Laura Purcell
LAST RITES FOR THE FOURTH WORLD by Rick Cross
WE ALL COME HOME by Simon Bestwick
THE IMPORTANCE OF ORAL HYGIENE by Robert Shearman
BOKEH by Thana Niveau
MURDER BOARD by Grady Hendrix
ALICE’S REBELLION by John Langan
THE MIRROR HOUSE by Jonathan Robbins Leon
THE NAUGHTY STEP by Stephen Volk
A HOTEL IN GERMANY by Catriona Ward
BRANCH LINE by Paul Finch
I want to thank Flame Tree Press for my copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After Sundown is a fantastic collection of short stories from established authors and new talent.
Each story was gripping in their own unique way, no story felt the same or was on the same theme. I was really kept on my toes while reading these stories!
There were, of course, a few standouts:
Swanskin by Alison Littlewood. A tale in which swans have their skins stolen and they have to stay in human form, serving their husbands. There was just something so ethereal about this story, and the imagery the author used was so vivid.
Creeping Ivy by Laura Purcell. A historical piece of fiction about a diary unearthed at a dig site and the intriguing story within its pages. This was just a brilliant atmospheric read, I’m definitely putting Laura Purcell’s book on my tbr list.
The Naughty Step by Stephen Volk. A story about a social worker called to a house after a little boy witnesses his mother’s death. Goodness, this pulled at my heartstrings and was creepy at the same time.
Branch Line by Paul Finch. A cold case interview about a young boy who went missing in the 1970s and the unbelievable tale of the survivor. I love a ghost story, and this one was both realistic and creepy.
I had an issue with the fact I felt some stories could have been longer, particularly CJ Tudor’s Butterfly Island, I would have read an entire book about that story!
I would recommend this collection, not only for horror lovers, but if you enjoy stories that really pull you in and keep you enthralled.
About The Publisher:
FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.
Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of the darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new Skelfs series!
‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’ Mark Billingham
‘Confirms the Skelfs as a classic crime clan. I can’t wait for the next one’ Erin Kelly
‘I LOVE the Skelfs … The only problem with The Big Chill is that you’ll devour it so fast you’ll feel as bereft as one of the Skelfs’ clients … Doug Johnstone has murdered sleep’ Val McDermid
Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.
While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.
But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?
Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.
I want to thank THE Book club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I read the first book in this series, A Dark Matter, at the beginning of the year and is still one of my top reads in 2020 so far, so I was very excited for The Big Chill! I can safely say it lived up to my expectations.
I will say before I get too far into this review, that you should definitely read the first book before reading this one as events from the first have a knock on effect in this one.
This story starts off six months after the first book. The Skelf women are still struggling with what happened at the end of the last book but they’re trying to push through it and carry on as normal, or as normal as their lives are as funeral directing private investigators.
Dorothy is pulled into an investigation after a car chase ends in tragedy in the midst of a funeral she’s conducting. Jenny is still trying to put the pieces of her life together. Hannah seems to be suffering the most, shutting out her girlfriend Indy and becoming obsessed with the suicide of one of her professors.
What I love about this series is the way there’s several different storylines/cases that are woven together expertly, so they’re easy to follow without confusion and not one overshadows the other too much. Honestly, like the first there’s never a dull moment in this book.
The story is also strengthened by the relationships between the three generations of the Skelf family, Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They’re complex and just so compelling, I genuinely love these characters!
The Big Chill is a fantastic piece of fiction that kept me glued to those pages. I can’t wait for more!
About The Author:
Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His tenth novel, Breakers, was published by Orenda Books in May 2019, and was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run, which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.
Doug has been Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands. He has taught creative writing at festivals and conferences and regularly at Moniack Mhor, and he has mentored aspiring writers for New Writing North and Scottish Book Trust.
Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.
Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.
Title: Knock Knock (Lockhart & Green 1) by Chris Merritt
Date Published: 17th March 2020
Genre: Police Procedural
Natasha Mayston wasn’t expecting anyone to knock on her door so late at night. And she has no idea that the face staring back at her is the last one she’ll ever see…
As Detective Dan Lockhart is called to a wealthy London street to investigate Natasha’s death, he’s startled by the similarity to a previous case. Noticing the cable-tie restraints and the tiny scratches on Natasha’s wedding finger, Dan already knows what he will find if he looks in her mouth – the metal ball which choked her to death. He knows Natasha isn’t the killer’s first victim and is certain that he will strike again.
Months earlier, Kim Hardy was found in the same position in a run-down hotel across the city – an identical silver ball in her throat. But Kim’s murderer was caught and sent to prison – did they arrest the wrong man? And what connects the two victims? Fearing that he’s dealing with a psychopathic serial killer, Dan calls in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help him to get into the perpetrator’s mind. Tough and smart, Lexi will stop at nothing to hunt down the man responsible for the deaths.
Then, another body is discovered, just as Lexi finds a clue online leading to the killer. Dan’s team aren’t convinced, but in pushing Lexi away from the investigation, they force her to dig further into the case on her own. Convinced that she’s on to something, she puts herself in unthinkable danger… but can Dan piece together the clues and identify the killer before it’s too late?
Fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Cara Hunter will love this thrilling new series from Chris Merritt. From an explosive start to a heart-stopping finale, you will not want to put this book down!
I want to thank Bookouture for my copy of this book (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read a couple of Chris Merritt’s Zac Boateng series, so I was intrigued to see what these new characters, Detective Dan Lockhart and Dr Lexi Green, were like.
Knock Knock is a tension packed serial killer thriller and a great introduction to these new characters.
Dan is a former soldier suffering from mental health issues after his wife disappeared years earlier. Lexi is a talented psychiatrist who can hold her own in most situations. I sensed a bit of romantic tension between the two but having read Chris Merritt’s previous books he never makes anything easy for his characters!
I really enjoyed the secondary cast of characters from Dan’s team, particularly Max, who’s not only a woman trying to make it in a male dominated profession but she’s also missing two fingers and a thumb on one of her hands.
The serial killer in this novel was one of the most despicable I’ve come across, choking women with a metal ball. Yes, all serial killers are awful but this one’s hatred of women and all their accomplishments really dripped from the pages.
I did get a little frustrated with Dan and his team, I mean they brought Lexi in and then pretty much ignored what she said. I hope in the future novels this changes!
This was a solid start to the series with plenty of room for characters to grow. I’m looking forward to reading the second instalment Who’s Next?
About The Author:
Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.
All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.
My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.
I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.
Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while *thinking* about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.
Title: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara
Date Published: 27th February 2018
Genre: True Crime
WINNER OF THE GOOD READS BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2018
THE NEW YORK TIMES #1 BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2018
The masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer – the serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade – from the late Michelle McNamara.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark offers a unique snapshot of suburban West Coast America in the 1980s, and a chilling account of the wreckage left behind by a criminal mastermind. It is also a portrait of one woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth, three decades later, in spite of the personal cost.
So I’m dipping my toe into true crime, something that has always appealed to me but I’ve never got around to doing. I saw that this book had been made into a documentary so I thought I’d try it.
I got my copy from the library which was from the original publication but I believe they’ve done an updated version to include what happened after it was published.
I’ll Be Gone In The Dark is an unflinching and at times utterly terrifying look at the Golden State Killer.
The Golden State Killer is not one I’ve ever heard of before, probably because a) his crimes happened before I was born in a different country and b) up until recently he never been caught.
Michelle McNamara’s writing really brought this book to life, making you feel like you were actually there which is why I’m going to warn you not to read this at night like I did, it gave me nightmares! She also put a good chunk of herself in there too, laying her obsession bare for you to read.
Unfortunately you can tell, particularly in the last half of the book where Michelle McNamara didn’t get to finish the novel, the writing ends up losing a little bit of the spark that initially drew me in.
After reading this I’m going to watch the TV show and I’m really looking forward to it, it’s just a shame that Michelle McNamara didn’t get to see how much of a success her work has become.
About The Author:
Michelle McNamara was a screenwriter, journalist, and true crime writer. She was the founder of the blog “True Crime Diary,” which covers lesser-known crimes and cold cases. In 2005, she married comedian Patton Oswalt. They had one daughter together, born in 2009. She died in 2016.
Five days in the history of a small rural town, visited and infected by darkness, are recounted by Evil itself. A stunning high-concept thriller from the bestselling author of Good Samaritans and Nothing Important Happened Today.
It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.
Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.
Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.
Because something was coming.
Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.
Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.
Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone.
Evil had a plan.
I want to thank the The Book Club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
So I read Nothing Important Happened Today back in March and I was absolutely blown away by Will Carver’s writing so I was very excited when I got my copy of Hinton Hollow Death Trip.
What I didn’t realise while reading the previous book and this one, it’s actually part of a series but it’s easily read as a standalone.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is, well, a head trip a half! I mean I can’t think of another novel that’s narrated by evil itself.
The story follows Detective Sergeant Pace as he heads back to his hometown of Hinton Hollow, a small village of just over five thousand people. The story is set over just five days and my goodness what a terrifying ride it was!
Beware before you going into this book, much like the previous book it’s dark and could prove upsetting as there’s some sensitive subjects like suicide, child deaths and animal creulty covered.
I have to be honest I didn’t find the style of this book a little choppy at times. Plus there were a couple of more minor storylines that I found a little distracting from the main story but of course that’s just my opinion.
Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an original yet shocking read, perfect if you like your thrillers on the darker side.
About The Author:
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.
I found recently I had an absolute ton of these witchy mysteries on my kindle, because I download books and promptly forget what I’ve downloaded, and with Halloween coming up next month I thought I’m in the mood to read some of them.
Title: Witch Is When It All Began (A witch P.I. Mystery 1) by Adele Abbott
Date Published: 24th August 2015
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When the going gets tough…
Private investigator, Jill Gooder, has been hired to find a serial killer because, as usual, the police can’t buy a clue. Jill, the not so proud owner of a crazy, one-eyed cat, probably can’t expect too much help from her PA/Secretary, Mrs V, who spends all day knitting.
And just in case all of that wasn’t bad enough, Jill’s just about to discover she’s a witch.
…break out the custard creams.
So I love a cozy mystery and I love witches too, so what better than a book that combines both?
Jill is single handedly running her adoptive father’s P.I. business, but business is slow so she takes on a client convinced his girlfriend was killed by a serial killer dubbed The Animal. If that wasn’t enough for her, she finds out she’s a witch. It’s all a bit much for her OCD tendencies, especially when she finds there are dark forces after her. Can she solve the case and get to grips with her new powers?
Witch Is When It All Began was a fun light hearted book, with some quirky characters with a dash of magic in there too.
I really enjoyed the magic system in this book. She pictures certain things rather than waving a wand or casting a spell, I don’t think I’ve come across this before so I always love to find a fresh approach.
My favourite characters were Mrs V, Jill’s knitting obsessed secretary, and her troublesome cat Winky, they really added some fun to the story with their rivalry.
My main issue was the two storylines, discovering she’s a witch and her serial killer investigation, didn’t quite gel together. I felt the discovering the witch part was a bit more interesting and overshadowed the investigation.
Will I carry on with this series? I think there’s a lot of potential for this series so I just might.
About The Author:
Adele Abbott’s world is full of mystery, magic and a whole lot of crazy. Come join in the fun.
Title: The Potion Commotion (Happy Blendings Witch 1) by Constance Barker
Date Published: 13th September 2019
Genre: Cozy mystery
Goodsprings Georgia is home to a secret witch’s coven. Sam, earth witch, owns the local smoothie shop. She likes to put a little magic in her brew and she can cure most ailments with her smoothie potions. Her one employee, David aka Tank, has tattoos out the ying yang and a Harley in the parking lot. Regular customer Phineas and his pet rooster Chuckles enjoy lounging in the shop’s courtyard seating. Chuckles gets his own shot glass of magic brew. Lucky bird.
Tessa, fire witch, owns the hottest grill in town. Mara, wind witch, can hear the whispers of the town, which comes in handy when an investigation is needed.
Amelia Windemere was the coven’s water witch until her untimely demise. She wasn’t the most loved person in town….oh heck, she was the most despised. But how does a water witch drown? Are there witch hunters in town or something more evil? And why did the police force hire two new twin detectives just in time for a murder?
Find out in the first installment of the Happy Blending Witch Cozy Mystery Series
Earth witch Sam runs a smoothie shop in the small town of Goodsprings. Tragedy strikes when Amelia Windmere, the water witch from Sam’s coven is found dead. It’s being treated like an accident but Sam knows that a powerful witch like Amelia could never drown without foul play and takes it upon herself to investigate.
The Potion commotion was a quick little read with a cast of quirky characters and an intriguing mystery to solve.
It has the usual hallmarks of a cozy mystery, a small town, a determined amateur sleuth, an unlikeable murder victim and a limited pool of suspects. Of course this has the twist of having a witch as the amateur sleuth with a few supernatural occurrences along the way.
I’m always intrigued by the magic systems that each other puts in place for their witch characters, this time it was elements, earth, wind, water and fire.
I did wish there may have been another suspect or two as I kind of guessed the murderer quite early on.
If you’re looking for a quick supernatural read and you just happen to love a cozy mystery too, I’d recommend this book.
About The Author:
Constance Barker lives in the Midwest with her husband and two Akitas where she can look out from her screened porch onto a wooded area brimming with activity. Since she was a young girl she read mysteries, often given to her by her grandmother. She loved figuring out who the culprit was and sometimes she was right and other times startled at who the author picked as the assailant. Now she enjoys writing mysteries herself. When she isn’t writing stories, she can be found in her favorite vacation spot, Las Vegas or shopping for bargains.
It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6. Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?
And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.
And nothing will ever be the same again…
Ever since I picked up the Puppet Master a few years back this series has always been a must read for me and the third is no different.
Fingers are being displayed around Cumbria at Christmas, so Poe and Tilly are brought in to investigate. What seems to be a serial killer case takes an stranger turn when they discover a sinister figure, The Curator, is involved. Will they be able to find him before more people die?
The Curator is what I’ve come to expect with this series, a complex mystery, coupled with a few gruesome scenes and nail biting moments.
For me what makes the series a standout is Poe and Tilly. Their relationship is sweet, they’re very loyal to each other and always look out for one another, which makes the perfect contrast to the gruesome/upsetting murder cases they investigate.
Truthfully, it kind of lost my attention a bit in the middle but the tense and emotional ending really made up for it.
The Curator is a good addition to this great series, I’m looking forward to Tilly and Poe’s next adventure!
About The Author:
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.
Title: Diabolica Britannica: A Dark Isles Horror Compendium
Date Published: 13th July 2020
Genre: Horror Anthology
Diabolica Britannica is a collection of 14 dark tales from the dark isles. It features contributions from the following authors: Adam L G Nevill, Tim Lebbon, Keith Anthony Baird, John F Leonard, Morgan K Tanner, Arthur M Harper, Christopher Henderson, Beverley Lee, Sarah E England, Catherine McCarthy, Stephanie Ellis, Janine Pipe, Sarah J Budd and Alyson Faye.
I want to thank Yvonne at Insidious book tours for inviting me on this tour and providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love short stories and I don’t read them often enough, particularly horror, and I saw that Diabolica Britannica was all for a good cause, with all profits going to fund the NHS’ efforts COVID-19 research, so I thought why not.
What I loved was the variety of British horror that was in Diabolica Britannica, from monsters to folklore inspired tales to psychological horror and so much more. Another thing I loved was I now have a whole host of new authors I want to read.
Each story may have only been short but they were creepy, chilling and utterly captivating! Of course there were a few stand outs for me:
Tourist Traps by Christopher Henderson, is a story about a boy who is obsessed with ghost hunting, so much so he takes a ghost tour of London and gets more than he’s bargained for.
The Secret of Westport Fell by Beverley Lee, was an atmospheric historical story about a young woman sent to look after her ailing aunt and ends up taking in a young girl she finds wandering in the cold.
Scripted in Shadows by Morgan K Tanner, is a blood soaked story about a mysterious and murderous book.
The Coven by Sarah E England is about a woman who returns to the town she was born in to find out why her family was forced to flee the country.
I could go on but I’d think I’d be boring you with this review soon!
Diabolica Britannica is packed to the brim with talented authors and a must if you love horror.
About The Authors:
Catherine McCarthy is a spinner of dark tales, often set in the wilder regions of her native Wales, U.K.
She has published two novels and a collection of short stories, and is currently querying a dark fantasy novel,The Wolf and the Favour, which is entwined with ethereal elements and Celtic lore.
Several of her stories have been published in anthologies such as Graveyard Smash, Dead Alive, and Diabolica Britannica, and earlier this year she won the Aberystwyth University Imagining Utopias prize for creative writing.
She lives in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse with her illustrator husband and its ghosts, and when she is not writing she may be found hiking the rugged coast-path or squirrelling among ancient churchyards for story inspiration.
Keith Anthony Baird is the author of The Jesus Man: A Post-Apocalyptic Tale of Horror (Novel), Nexilexicon (Novel), And a Dark Horse Dreamt of Nightmares (Book of Shorts) and This Will Break Every Bone In Your Heart (Novelette). His works can be found on Amazon and Audible. He is currently working on a dystopian novel titled SIN:THETICA.
Diabolica Britannica is his brainchild and was developed in response to 2020’s global pandemic. A collective of British talent seemed the obvious vehicle to bring further horror to the masses, but ensuring some relief in the process by donating all profits to help fight COVID-19.
When not at his desk writing, you might find him up a mountain, snorkelling on a coral reef with his partner Ann, or having fun with his grandson. Failing that, it’s a good bet he’ll be on Twitter.
Janine Pipe is a Horror lover and writer who was first introduced to the genre as a child reading ‘Salem’s Lot – and she hasn’t looked back since. She is inspired by Stephen King and cites Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Jonathan Janz as her favourite current writers. She likes to shock with her writing, there is usually a lot of gore and plenty of swearing … She is very thankful to her biggest cheerleaders, her husband and daughter and her mentor, Graeme Reynolds. She chews the fat with fellow authors on her blog – Janine’s Ghost Stories and reviews for Scream Magazine and Nightworms.
You can find her work at Tales to Terrify, Ghost Stories the Podcast and The Horror Tree. Several of her short stories have been published, including an all female anthology with Kandisha Press.She is currently writing a splatterpunk novella about a teenage vampire hunter. .
Christopher Henderson was born in Streatham, south London (UK), a few months after the first human beings landed on the Moon. At the same time, only a few miles away on the other side of that city, other human beings were preparing to hunt and stake a supposedly genuine vampire in its lair in Highgate Cemetery. It was the beginning of 1970, the overture to a very weird decade.
Throughout Christopher’s childhood, popular culture was steeped in the eerie, the macabre, and the uncanny. The supernatural, it seemed, was only ever a half-heard whisper away – and it never stopped talking to him.
Half a century later, Christopher continues to haunt south London. In a parallel life, he was for many years involved with the scientific and open-mindedly sceptical study of paranormal and fortean phenomena, and he is the author under a different name of several non-fiction books specializing largely in folklore and ghost stories. In this incarnation, however, he writes horror fiction, and especially supernatural horror fiction, as he attempts to escape the deeper horrors that plague the real world.
He is the author of Artemis One-Zero-Five (a horror/SF novel set in the near future, partly in London and partly on a remote asteroid) and The Horror at Lavender Edge (a supernatural horror novel set in 1970s London). Currently, he is working on a sequel to The Horror at Lavender Edge.
Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her latest work includes the novella, Bottled, published by Silver Shamrock, who will also be publishing her novel, The Five Turns of the Wheel in October. She has recently been published in Flame Tree Press’ A Dying Planet anthology with “Milking Time” and is included in Silver Shamrock’s upcoming Midnight in the Pentagram anthology with “Family Reunion”. Her poetry can be sampled in the Horror Writer Association’s Poetry Showcase Volume 6 and in the upcoming Volume 7. She has collected a number of her published, and some unpublished, short stories in The Reckoning, her dark verse in Dark is my Playground, and flash in The Dark Bites, all available on amazon. She is co-editor of Trembling With Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine. She is an affiliate member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on twitter at @el_stevie.
Alyson lives in West Yorkshire, UK with her husband, teen son and four rescue animals. Her fiction has been published widely in print anthologies – DeadCades, Women in Horror Annual 2, Trembling with Fear 1 &2, Coffin Bell Journal 1, Stories from Stone, Ellipsis, Rejected ed. Erin Crocker)and in many ezines, but most often on the Horror Tree site, in Siren’s Call and The Casketof Fictional Delights.
In May 2019 Night of the Rider, was published by Demain in their Short Sharp Shocks! E book series and later that year Demain published her 1940’s crime novella – Maggie Of My Heart.
Currently she has stories appearing in the Strange Girls anthology (ed. Azzurra Nox), two charity anthologies, Burning Love from Things in the Well, and Amongst Friends (Gypsum Sound Tales); another Gypsum anthology, Colp: Black and Grey and by Emerald Bay Books, Horror for Hire: First Shift.
Her work has been read on BBC Radio, local radio, on several podcasts (e.g. Ladies of Horror), posted on YouTube and placed in competitions.
She performs at open mics, teaches, edits for an indie publisher and hangs out with her dog on the moors – in all weathers.
A full list of her publications can be found via her author page on amazon:-
John F Leonard
John messes around with words for a living. He was born in England and grew up in the industrial Midlands. That was where he learned to love scrawny cats, the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.
His official education mostly involved English, Art and History. Everything else came later. The employment record is somewhat difficult to summarise. Chequered is probably a good word for it. Shop worker and office boy, sculptor and odd-job man, fraud investigator and thief. It’s all the same, when you boil it down. Pay your way and try to have a good day.
He enjoys apocalyptic stuff, horror, comedy and football (not necessarily together). A family man, John now lives a few miles from the old Victorian house in which he was born. Scribbling scary stories seems to keep him vaguely sane (accurate at time of writing). Current projects include more tales from the Dead Boxes Archive, another everyday cosmic horror novel from the Scaeth Mythos, and new books set in the post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.
Beverley Lee is the bestselling author of the Gabriel Davenport vampire suspense series (The Making of Gabriel Davenport, A Shining in the Shadows and The Purity of Crimson) and the gothic horror, The Ruin of Delicate Things. In thrall to the written word from an early age, especially the darker side of fiction, she believes that the very best story is the one you have to tell. Supporting fellow authors is also her passion and she is actively involved in social media and writers’ groups.
You can visit her online at www.beverleylee.com (where you’ll find a free dark and twisted short story download) or on Instagram (@theconstantvoice) and Twitter (@constantvoice).
Morgan K Tanner
Morgan K Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The idyllic surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum, and hide the bodies. The busy sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the antiquated torture equipment.
When not writing or inflicting pain and suffering on his numerous victims, he indulges himself in all things horror and metal.
He is the author of An Army of Skin, The Mind’s Plague and Other Bites of Brutality, The Unbeliever & The Intruder; a Short Sharp Shocks! Book, and The Snuggle Zombies; his attempt at a horror book for kids.
You can praise or indeed abuse him by visiting www.morganktanner.com or find him on Twitter @morgantanner666 and Instagram @morganktanner
S.J.Budd is a dark fiction author from Cornwall. Her work has appeared in The NoSleep Podcast, Aphotic Realm, Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome and many others.
When not writing she is mostly reading, tending to her huge collection of cactus plants and going for long walks in the country-side..She spends far too much time on twitter @sjbuddj. You can find out more about her stories at www.sjbudd.co.uk
Title: Grubane (Lost Tales of Solace 2) by Karl Drinkwater
Date Published: 13th June 2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/ Novella
Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.
His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.
But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.
Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?
I want to thank Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this tour and the author for providing me with a copy of Grubane in exchange for an honest review.
This is actually the second novella in the Lost Tales of Solace series but each story is written as a standalone so you don’t need to have read the other book in the series to read this one. Each of the novellas also tie into the author’s Lost Solace series there’s plenty to read for sci-fi lovers out there.
I read and enjoyed the first book in the series Helene, a couple of months ago so I was eager to see what Karl Drinkwater had in store for me this time.
Grubane is a major in the UFS (they basically run most of the colonies in space and pretty much want to take over everything). He’s been sent on a mission that quickly turns ugly and we see the fearsome major in action.
What I love about these books is the unique perspective the author uses to tell the story, this time it was mostly from the AI Aurikaa 12’s POV. As the story goes on, you can see it becoming more self aware, trying to interpret the world around it, particularly Grubane himself.
For me, this book lacked a little of the humour of the first book Helene but that was a minor thing overall.
Grubane is a slick sci-fi story and a perfect way to escape reality for a while.
About The Author:
Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.
He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.