Beyond the Veil Anthology (Edited by Mark Morris) @flametreepress @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours #BookReview #Horror #FlameTreePress #BlogTour

Title: Beyond the Veil Anthology (Edited by Mark Morris).

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Date Published: 19th October 2021

Genre: Horror/Short Story

Description:

Beyond the Veil is the second volume in an annual, non-themed horror series of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer, and edited by Mark Morris. 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.

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Flame Tree Press for providing me with a copy of Beyond The Veil in exchange for an honest review.

Last year I read and enjoyed the previous short story collection from Flame Tree Press, After Sundown, last year, so I was eager to see what was on offer this year.

Beyond The Veil is a collection of short horror stories with something for every type of horror fan, from classic monster tales to mind bending sci-fi to gruesome body horror. 

I will just put a trigger warning here before I go any further. This novel contains themes of grief, suicide, child abuse, and the death of an animal. 

In all honesty, most of the authors were unknown to me, so it was nice to find some new authors to add to my must read list.

Like most types of collections, I found it a good mix of styles. Of course, there were some stories I enjoyed more than others.

My standouts were:

God Bag. The story that followed a man and his dying mum who was in the last grips of dementia. She carried around a strange little God bag containing prayers that started off innocently enough until he started digging. It was both heartbreaking and creepy at the same time.

For All The Dead. A historical story about a young woman who lived in a small fishing village, where life and death were controlled by the sea. There was almost a fairytale-like quality to this one that I found magical. 

The Girl In The Pool. A thief breaks into a house planning to rob the place, instead finds a young girl dead in the pool. This was a gripping tale of monsters and morality.

A Mystery for Julie Chu. A young woman has a knack for finding strange artifacts, but when she picks up an old radio from a car boot sale, she gets more than she bargained for. I loved the mix of mystery and spookiness of this one.

The care and feeding of household gods. This is a story about a stay at home dad who makes household gods to help him get everything done. This one took me by surprise, starting off innocent enough, then got more and more sinister. I still can’t stop thinking about this one!

I would highly recommend Beyond The Veil if you’re looking for a variety of short, sharp and shocking stories.

About The Editor:

Mark Morris has written and edited almost forty novels, novellas, short story collections and anthologies. His recent work includes the official movie tie-in novelizations of The Great Wall and (co-written with Christopher Golden) The Predator, the Obsidian Heart trilogy (The Wolves of London, The Society of Blood and The Wraiths of War), the anthologies New Fears (winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology) and New Fears 2 and many more.

#TheGreatSilence by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #RandomThingsTours

Title: The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone

Date Published: 19th August 2021

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Thriller

Description:

From the discovery of a human foot in a park, to the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband… the stakes have never been higher for the Skelf family

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying woman have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’

Mark Billingham on The Big Chill

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this book tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of The Great Silence.in exchange for an honest review.

Ah, it’s lovely to be back with the Skelfs again, it’s a bit like visiting old friends. Dysfunctional old friends, mind you, but highly entertaining at the same time. 

This is the third book in the series and I would highly recommend reading the previous books to get a better understanding of the characters and they just happen to be fantastic too!

You know when you read a book and think, where does the author come up with these amazing ideas from? That’s exactly how I felt while reading The Great Silence. 

As usual, there are several investigations going at once during the novel. Dorothy discovers a dismembered foot while out walking her dog Einstein. Jenny is busy looking for her ex-husband, who escaped police custody. Hannah is investigating a case where her colleague thinks he’s getting messages from outer space. This is all while running their funeral directing business and dealing with their usual family dramas along the way.

Like the previous books, the storylines are expertly woven together, grabbing you from the outset and making you want to read to the very last page.

Of course, like the other books in the series, there’s some dark themes, i.e. abuse and suicide, but they’re handled with sensitivity by the author.

I heard this might be the last we see of the Skelfs, which I hope is not the case! If it is, then I will say it was a satisfying ending for the trilogy, but I’m crossing my fingers for more stories featuring Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah.

The Great Silence is a captivating and original read that I honestly couldn’t get enough of.

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. 

Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com

The Transparency of Time by Leonardo Padura @leonardopadura @bitterlemonpub @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Hello lovelies! Today I have an exclusive extract from The Transparency of Time by Leonardo Padura as part of the Random Things blog tour but first a little about the book:

Title: The Transparency of Time by Leonardo Padura

Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press

Date Published: 10th June 2021

Genre: Crime Fiction

Description:

Mario Conde is facing down his sixtieth birthday. What does he have to show for his decades on the planet? A failing body, a slower mind, and a decrepit country, in which both the ideals and failures of the Cuban Revolution are being swept away in favour of a new and newly cosmopolitan worship of money.

Rescue comes in the form of a new case: an old Marxist turned flamboyant practitioner of Santería appears on the scene to engage Conde to track down a stolen statue of the Virgen de Regla—a black Madonna. This sets Conde on a quest that spans twenty-first century Havana as well as the distant past, as he delves as far back as the Crusades in an attempt to uncover the true provenance of the statue.

Through vignettes from the life of a Catalan peasant named Antoni Barral, who appears throughout history in different guises—as a shepherd during the Spanish Civil War, as vassal to a feudal lord—we trace the Madonna to present-day Cuba. With Barral serving as Conde’s alter ego, unstuck in time, and Conde serving as the author’s, we are treated to a panorama of history, and reminded of the impossibility of ever remaining on its sidelines, no matter how obscure we may think our places in the action.

Equal parts The Name of the Rose and The Maltese Falcon, The Transparency of Time cements Leonardo Padura’s position as the preeminent literary crime writer of our time.

Extract:

1. 

SEPTEMBER 4, 2014 

The emphatic first light of dawn in the tropics filtered through the window, projecting dramatically against the wall where the calendar hung, with its perfect grid of twelve squares divided into four rows. The spaces had originally been colored in distinctive tones ranging from spring’s youthful green to winter’s deep gray, a scheme that only a very imaginative designer could associate with something as contrived as the four seasons on a Caribbean island. With the passing months, fly droppings had decorated the board’s motifs with erratic ellipses. Several stains and its ever-fading colors testified to the paper’s constant use and the blinding light that beat down on it every day. A variety of capricious shapes were doodled all over the thing—around the edges, even over some of the numbers, hinting at past reminders that were perhaps later forgotten and never acted upon. Signs of the passage of time and proof of a mind suffering sclerosis. 

The year at the top of the calendar had received special attention and was covered with a variety of cryptic signs. Those numbers specifically tasked with representing the ninth day of October were surrounded by further perplexing sigils, which had been scratched in (more in rage than approval) with a pen just a bit lighter than the original black printer’s ink. And alongside several exclamation points, the digits that—as the doodler only now noticed—resonated with magical, numerological power, the power of perfect recurrence: 9- 9-9. 

Ever since that slow, grim, slippery year had begun, Mario Conde maintained a tormented relationship with the dates at hand. Throughout his life and despite his historically good memory and general obsessiveness, he’d paid little attention to the effect of time’s speed and its implications for his own life and the lives of those around him. Regrettably and all too often, he forgot ages and birthdays, wedding anniversaries, the dates of trivial or major events—from the celebratory to those that evoked grief or commemorated simpler moments—that were or would be important to other people. But the alarming evidence persisted that, among those 365 days squared off by the grid of that cheap calendar, a day lay waiting to pounce that was as yet inconceivable, but threateningly definite and real. The proximity of the day Mario Conde would turn sixty years old caused in him a persistent shock exacerbated by the approach of those notable numbers: 9-9-9. It even sounded indecent (sixty . . . sixty . . . something that lets out air and explodes, sssixttttty . . . ), and this milestone presented itself as the incontestable confirmation of what his physical (creaky knees, waist, and shoulders; a fatty liver; an ever-lazier penis) and spiritual (dreams, projects, diminished or completely abandoned desires) selves had already been feeling for some time: the obscene arrival of old age . . . 

Was he really an Old Man? In order to confirm it, as he stood before the blurry landscape of the calendar that hung from a pair of nails on his bedroom wall, Conde responded to this question with new ones: Wasn’t his grandfather Rufino an Old Man when, at the age of sixty, he took Conde around the city and surrounding areas to cockfighting rings and taught him the ins and outs of noble combat? Didn’t they start calling Hemingway “Old Man” a few years before his suicide at sixty-one? What about Trotsky? Wasn’t he, at sixty, known as the Old Man when Ramón Mercader split his head in two with a Stalinist and proletarian blow from an ice ax? For starters, Conde knew his limits and understood (owing to well-founded or spurious reasons) that he was a far cry from being his pragmatic grandfather, or Hemingway, or Trotsky, or any other famous old codger. As such, he felt that he had reason enough to avoid so much as aspiring to the category of Old Man, capital letters and all, even as he careened toward that painful number, round and decadent . . . No, he was, at best, going to become an old fart. The term was more apt in his case—in the category of possible decrepitude as classified with academic zeal by serious geriatric science and the empirical wisdom of an everyman’s street-smart philosophy.

About The Author:

Leonardo Padura was born in 1955 in Havana and lives in Cuba. He has just released THE MAN WHO LOVED DOGS, his masterpiece about the assassination of Trotsky. Padura has published a number of short-story collections and literary essays but international fame came with the Havana Quartet, all featuring Inspector Mario Conde.

Like many others of his generation, Padura had faced the question of leaving Cuba, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s, when living conditions deteriorated sharply as Russian aid evaporated. He chose to stay. And to write beautiful ironic novels in which Soviet-style socialism is condemned by implication through scenes of Havana life where even the police are savagely policed.

The crime novels feed on the noises and smells of Havana, on the ability of its inhabitants to keep joking, to make love and music, to drink rum, and to survive through petty crime such as running clandestine bars and restaurants.

#WeGoOnForever by Sarah Govett @sarahgovett @MarotteBooks @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours #Extract

Today I have an exclusive extract of We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. First a little about the book:

Title: We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett

Publisher: Marotte Books

Date Published: 6th May 2021

Genre: YA Dystopian

Description:

A timely and heart-wrenching love story set in a dark dystopian world with echoes of Never Let Me Go and adult as well as teen appeal.

Arthur is dying. He must transition within the next four weeks or face permanent memory loss.

Alba is studying, preparing to impress the Mentors in an all-important interview. If she’s picked as the next Apprentice she will be reunited with her best friend and

cross the Wilderness for the first time.

They meet and everything comes together.

And everything falls apart.

‘I love reading Sarah Govett’ Dame Emma Thompson

‘This is a hugely original dystopian novel with a thrilling plot and memorable characters you really root for.

Thought-provoking and at times terrifying, this book had me gripped from the start.’ Sarah J Harris (author of Richard and Judy Book Club pick The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder)

‘One of the most intriguing and exciting dystopian thrillers I have read in a long time! This book grabs you from page one and holds on until the last word. A fascinating world filled with beautifully written characters.’ Ben Oliver, author of The Loop

‘Addictive and compelling – I absolutely love this book.‘ Louisa Reid, author of Wrecked and Gloves Off

Praise for Sarah’s previous dystopian trilogy – The Territory: Winner of the Gateshead Teen Book Award 2017 and the Trinity Schools Book Award 2018

‘The 1984 of our time’ Guardian Children’s Books ‘Thrilling and Thoughtful’ The Times

The Territory has been optioned for TV by New Pictures (producers of BBC’s The Missing and Netflix’s The Innocents and Catherine the Great). The pilot is currently being written by Freddy Syborn (Ms Marvel, Disney +).

You can buy your copy here:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Go-Forever-Sarah-Govett/dp/1916152686/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=we+go+on+forever&qid=1620295281&s=books&sr=1-1

Direct from publisher: (You can get it signed with free delivery! UK ONLY): https://marottebooks.bigcartel.com/product/we-go-on-forever

Extract:

ARTHUR

The sky is a rich Matisse-blue and I tilt up my chin to catch the midday sun. I’ve always found September sun to be the most precious – summer’s imminent departure adding an immeasurable sweetness. It’s a day for picnics. For lounging in short sleeves. Not for doctors’ surgeries. Not for results.

A voice calls my name, and I turn away from the open window, back to the reception. For a second I catch my reflection in the gilded mirror that hangs above the desk and I scrutinise my face as a stranger might. Symmetrical, unlined. I haven’t noticed it age in the last two years. The stranger would most likely guess it to be some years younger than the nineteen it is now.

Dr Peters’ secretary ushers me through to his office. I decline her offer of refreshments.

The MRI results are displayed on a screen in the centre of the room, awaiting my arrival. Twelve cross-sections through my brain. A four by three grid. There – second from the top in the middle – a white circle lurks in the right hemisphere. A UFO sighting in an otherwise foggy skyline. I shut the door behind me and Dr Peters plasters on the special sort of smile he reserves for patients holding Level One insurance policies. I sit and the smile widens even further in recognition of my status. 

As heir to the M.A.D.E. conglomerate, I get to see a lot of teeth.

Dr Peters embarks upon small talk, a tapestry of medical and societal aspects interwoven. How am I feeling? How is my father? Are the headaches worsening? Did I manage much sailing over the summer? Did I try this great new seafood place? He’ll give me the name of the owner – another patient of his; it’s hellish to get a table otherwise. And the balance problems?

‘How long?’ I ask, cutting him short. I need the facts. I’m meeting Tommy for tennis at two and I don’t want to be late for the second time running. I might not be at the top of my game but I can still manage to hit a ball.

‘Four to six weeks,’ Dr Peters replies, his smile taking on a frozen quality. I think of icebergs and the Norwegian Fjords.

A month. 

I sit and try to absorb the information. 

Dr Peters picks up a long, thin stick and starts pointing at the screen, punctuating each comment with a sharp staccato rap. The ingratiating smile is gone and he seems more natural, calmer; happier hiding behind a medical lexicon of obfuscation.

‘The results of the biopsy show the tumour to be malignant. The MRI cross-sections here RAP! and here RAP!, show it to be present in the cerebellum, hence the balance control issues. The size indicates a grade 3 tumour, meaning growth is rapid and recurrence after surgery a distinct probability. I would currently place you at 90 on the Karnofsky Performance Status Scale as you are only experiencing minor symptoms, but this is likely to deteriorate rapidly in the next four to six weeks. In my opinion, you should be looking to transition in the next fortnight to ensure no further damage to brain tissue and to prevent potential permanent memory loss and cognitive impairment.’

Two weeks. Damn. I’m supposed to be meeting Parachute to discuss final details on the 25th. I’d still be adjusting then.

There’s a sound of rapid tapping. An object being repeatedly struck at a frequency that makes my nerves tingle. Where’s it coming from? My eyes scan the floor and alight on my right foot. It’s knocking against the metal leg of the chair. I stare at it, detached. An observer.

‘Mr Easton, is everything all right?’ The smile is gone and Dr Peters is looking at me, brow furrowed in concern. He isn’t used to this sort of behaviour. Tommy says he only really takes on Level One patients now. Dealing with lower insurance levels, not to mention the DMWs (Dead Men Walking, as Tommy calls them), and their tiresome anxieties can really interfere with one’s golf.

I don’t answer him immediately. I’m locked inside my head.

‘Mr Easton…?’

His voice has a slight tremor. I’m such a fool. He’s on alert now. He’ll report back to Father for sure. 

‘It’s fine, thanks. I’m fine. I’ll contact the Transition Centre straight away.’

I stand and head towards the door. I’m getting a headache. One of the bad ones. I don’t know why this is affecting me so much. This body has only hosted me for two years, the previous one lasted seven and I felt nothing. Maybe it was a mistake to choose one that was too similar to my Original. Same age: seventeen at time of transition. Same build: broad but not overdeveloped; ‘a swimmer’s body’, the breakdown had said. Same colouring: tanned skin, light brown hair that regains its blonde in summer. Same eyes even – green with flecks of yellow. Too many sames. It’s harder when it fails. I’ll choose something different next time. Get less attached.

I think I’ll cancel Tommy after all. I’m not really in the mood for tennis.

ALBA

I’m sitting next to Curly, willing the Morning Meeting to end. Eventually the screen recedes and the Supervisor twists up the corners of her mouth in a poor imitation of a smile.

‘Now, some good news,’ she says, trying to sound light and enthusiastic. It doesn’t suit her. ‘Another one of you has been chosen as an Apprentice. Tomorrow they will travel to the Research City to help their Mentor with the crucial work of cleansing the Wilderness. Praise the Creator.’

‘Praise the Creator,’ we all mumble back, but no one’s putting any effort into it. We’re all too busy scanning the room, seven hundred heartbeats stopped in anticipation. 

Who is it? Who’s been chosen?

‘Will F3526 please approach the stage.’

It takes a second to register who she’s talking about. The Creator assigns us our numbers. To deviate from them is heresy even though nearly everyone apart from the Supervisor and the Guardians does it.

My heart stops as Curly shoots me a quick look of astonishment and then stands up and starts to edge forward through a sea of applause. Curly. Curly. ‘No, no, NO!’ I inwardly scream. I know I should be happy for her, rejoicing too, but all I can think is, Please don’t take my friend. Not yet. I’m going to miss her too much. I know I’m being selfish and I should ask the Creator for forgiveness, but still; it’s Curly. And she’s been my best friend, my only proper friend, since, well, since forever. 

I don’t know why it comes as such a surprise. I always knew she’d be one of the first of our year to be chosen. She’s off-the-scale clever, mastering Further Maths and Physics while the rest of us were still groping around with Newton and his apple. And she’s beautiful. Stunning, even. She has this flawless, dark-brown skin and black curls that just sort of tumble around her face. And when she moves, she kind of glides. All the boys just stare at her. The Guardians too. Ever since she turned fourteen.

The younger ones clap with barely contained excitement. Eligibility for selection starts at sixteen, so to be chosen at seventeen is an incredible honour and it gives them hope that it could be them soon. It’s different with the older ones. The ones in their late twenties. If they aren’t chosen by thirty they’ll be transferred to a different Home. Their applause is mechanical and jealousy palpably radiates off them. If you could see them on a different plane, their eyes would be leaping out at you, shining the brightest green. Me, I just taste bile rising at the back of my throat.  

Eventually Curly reaches the foot of the stage and then climbs the steps to stand at the Supervisor’s side. 

‘Congratulations F3526, you’ve been selected as the next Apprentice. You are to report to the office tomorrow morning at seven. I hope the rest of you take inspiration from her deportment, intelligence and dedication.’ 

The Supervisor doesn’t hug Curly, or even smile at her in any way. She just watches her face – no doubt for evidence of the required level of gratitude. 

‘Thank you. Praise the Creator,’ Curly replies, her voice measured and lyrical as she gives the obligatory response. But she isn’t OK. I know she isn’t. Even before she trips on the last step as she descends from the stage.

About The Author:

Sarah Govett graduated with a First in Law from Oxford University. After qualifying as a solicitor, she set up her own tutoring agency, which specialises in working with teenagers. She began writing after the birth of her first daughter. Sarah is an in-demand speaker at schools and has the support of a network of school librarians, independent bookshops and numerous Waterstones stores.

#BlogTour #BookReview Deity by Matt Wesolowski @OrendaBooks @concretekraken @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

Title: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 18th February 2021

Genre: Thriller

Description:

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rakes over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge. Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Why was he never officially charged? Are reports of a haunting really true?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive, spine-chilling thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we are willing to turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

So this is my second outing into the world of podcaster Scott King even though this is the fifth book in the series, (The previous novel I read was the first Six Stories which I read last year and loved.), but I thought, it’s lockdown, I’m living on the edge so I’ll just jump into Deity. For me it did work well as a standalone, even though it had a character from one of the previous books in it.

I have such a book hangover and it’s all Matt Wesolowski’s fault! I genuinely have not stopped thinking about Deity for days and how I am going to do justice in my review! 

If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s told through six podcast interviews, this time it’s interspersed with the last interview that Zach Crystal ever did. We’re taken through Zach Crystal’s rise to fame, then infamy and hear from detractors and obsessed superfans trying to actually find out who the real Zach Crystal was and what really happened to him.

I absolutely love the sort of supernatural aspect that is brought into the story, to run alongside the mystery that adds that extra layer of intrigue and creepiness. The paranormal element in this book took the form of a creature that legend says roams the woods around Zach Crystal’s property and is supposedly a portent of disaster.

Deity really kept me guessing until the end. There were a few subtle clues along the way but it was so cleverly written that I completely missed them.

A little warning, this story deals with themes of abuse and violence which some people may find a little upsetting.

Deity is a dark and devastating yet utterly addictive and I cannot recommend highly enough!

About The Author:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies, such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. Changeling, the third book in the series, was published in 2019 and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His fourth book, Beast, won the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Independent Voice Book of the Year award in 2020.

#BookReview Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst @RandomTTours @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours

Title: Smoke Screen by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst 

Translated by: Megan Turney

Date Published: 18th February 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

Oslo, New Year’s Eve. The annual firework celebration is rocked by an explosion and the city is put on terrorist alert.

Police officer Alexander Blix and blogger Emma Ramm are on the scene, and when a severely injured survivor is pulled from the icy harbour, she is identified as the mother of two-year-old Patricia Semplass, who was kidnapped on her way home from kindergarten ten years earlier … and never found.

Blix and Ramm join forces to investigate the unsolved case, as public interest heightens, the terror threat is raised, and it becomes clear that Patricia’s disappearance is not all that it seems…

The second in the hard-boiled and furiously compelling Blix & Ramm series, created by Thomas Enger and Jørn Lier Horst, two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir.

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

So I read the first in the Blix/Ramm series last year, Death Deserved, which was one of my top reads of 2020, so I was very excited to get my hands on a copy of Smoke Screen!

The story starts off with a bang, literally. Journalist Emma Ramm is on the scene at a bombing during the annual New Year’s eve festival. One of the victims is identified as Ruth-Kristine Smeplass, whose daughter Patricia disappeared as a baby years earlier. It’s up to Blix and Emma to find out if she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time or is there more to Ruth-Kristine’s daughter’s disappearance than they thought.

Smoke Screen is a brilliant mix of thriller and police procedural, with the short and concise chapters it’s easy to devour in a few sittings.

For me, the characters really make this novel. Everyone from our main characters Blix and Emma to the suspects are well thought out and believable. I also enjoy the contrast of the experienced police officer Blix with the young and tenacious Emma. They seem an unlikely pairing and at times butt heads, but it’s great to read.  

The beginning of the book really grabbed me, but I felt there was a bit of a lull after the first few chapters, but the tense and nail biting end made up for it.

Smoke Screen is an entertaining and engaging read with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. I’m eagerly awaiting book three!

About The Authors:

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved was Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller. They are currently working on the third book in the Blix & Ramm series.

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe by Catherine Cavendish @Cat_Cavendish @FlameTreePress @RandomTTours #BookReview #RandomThingsTours

Title: In Darkness, Shadows Breathe by Catherine Cavendish

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Date Published: 19th January 2021

Genre: Horror

Description:

You’re next… Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer. In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define. Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen? The answer lies deep in the darkness… 

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. 

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Flame Tree Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read and enjoyed The Haunting of Henderson Close by this author way back in 2019, so I thought I’d see what her new book had to offer.

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is a psychological horror that follows the stories of Carol, a troubled young woman who had spent her life in care, and Nessa, a retired lecturer who’s suffering from cancer. They both seemed to be plagued by similar hauntings and visions from another time involving a woman by the name of Lydia Warren Carmody, a mysterious woman from the past.

There were plenty of spooky goings on throughout the novel, as I’ve come to expect from Catherine Cavendish’s writing. There was an interesting theme to the novel of time being nonlinear, so in theory you could be in several time periods all at once!

I found the little flashbacks to the days of the workhouse and asylum fascinating and more than a little disturbing. It was appalling how the women were treated, half the time as nothing more than things to be experimented on. 

The characters are really well drawn, flawed yet relatable. Nessa’s story really got to my heart, reminding me of my mother’s own battle with cancer.

For me the two halves of the didn’t quite mesh as well as I would have liked, it felt for the most part two separate stories. I also would have liked to have found out a little more about the evil entity known as the one and the many, but of course that’s just my opinion.

In Darkness, Shadows Breathe is an atmospheric read packed with tension and chilling moments.

About The Author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Cat is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels and novellas. She lives with her long-suffering husband and black cat in a 260 year old haunted apartment in North Wales.

#Extract Rise of One by Dixon Reuel @DixonReuel @RandomTTours #RiseofOne #BloodBrute #RandomThingsTours

Hello lovelies, today I have a fantastic extract from the debut novel Rise of One by Dixon Reuel as part of the Random Things tour organised by Anne Cater. But first a little about the book:

Title: Rise of One by Dixon Reuel

Publisher: Thunderloft Press

Date Published: 15th December 2020

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Paranormal

Description:

When a zombie apocalypse ravages the world, the vampire Rise rescues human survivors to feed his coven. But apocalypse survivors are not the type to be merely food. Nor could they ever befriend the coven’s lone human, the beautiful and pampered Cypriot.

When Warwolves, an ancient order of vampire hunters, infiltrate the rescued survivors, Rise resolves to purge all threats to his vampire race. The world, although decimated, seems ripe for rule. Rise could set history on a new path, with the rise of one individual.

You can buy your copy here:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rise-One-1-Blood-Brute/dp/1838023321

Extract:

Chapter 1 

A Fresh Pulse 

The outbreak began in springtime rumours.
Then, the airways and cables of the world charted the outbreak and panic, as the disease overwhelmed every population. Bombs and walls of fire tried to contain it. Chemical purges charred cities indiscriminately. In all, Rise counted barely five months from the beginning of the outbreak until everything was stilled, from late spring to mid-autumn. A lone SOS in Morse code was the last they heard from the human race, before Rise and his coven packed away their broadcast equipment, their radio, computers, and TV, putting it all into the depths of the root cellar. He waited a further full month, October. Then, and only then, did Rise leave the house. 

An earlier shower of hail had studded the courtyard’s cobblestones. Crimson leaves brightened the hedges that Rise had planted long ago to shade the kitchen windows. Once, Rise heard birdsong and the hum of the countryside the moment he stepped from the kitchen into the yard. But today, like so many days that came before, no sound. 

The rest of his coven were still on the roof, just finished with the dawn incantation. While the disease had overwhelmed all beyond Owl Court, every dawn, Rise and the two other vampires, Ogrim and Salter, spoke an incantation to conceal their little farmstead from the world. Even smoke from the nearest village of Dunsinann, or the hazy curtain on the horizon from Larnde City, never reached inside their walls. The coven always used the oldest names for such places; Ogrim joked that if they were to rename cities and towns as often as humans did, the coven would never get anything done. 

Rise wanted to slip away into the world and hoped to return with good news, to return with someone still human. The coven needed a fresh pulse. If he could achieve this, Rise reasoned as he stood on the back doorstep, the residents of Owl Court would surely forgive him for leaving. Hiding indoors, they saw footage of how the human dead now rose and walked. Rise had trawled the internet, when they still had it, watching feeds from around the world of corpses alive, of terrifying creatures that knew only brute and base destruction. 

“Where’re you going?” Ogrim spoke from the kitchen’s shade, so as not to let the weak sun touch his old body. 

“To find survivors,” Rise answered, as plainly as possible. 

About The Author:

Irish award-winning writer, Dixon Reuel is the author of her debut Post-Apocalyptic Paranormal novel, Rise of One.

Dixon lives and writes out of her home base in Dublin, and holds a First in History & Early Irish Studies and another First in Creative Writing. She is a lifelong nerd and devoted hobbyist of cosplay, video games, and other surely worthwhile pursuits.

Dixon cannot stand monkeys or phone calls, and to receive a phone call from King Kong would definitely be her greatest fear.

FREE BLOOD BRUTE PREQUEL: http://bit.ly/OnTheEdgeOfSalt

Twitter @DixonReuel

I Am Dust by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BookReview #IAmDust #DoYouBelieveInGhosts

Title: I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Date Published: 16th April 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

I Am Dust BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read Call Me Star girl by Louise Beech last year and I enjoyed it so I jumped at the chance to read this, especially when I found out there was a ghost involved, I love me a ghost story! 

I’m very much having a hard time writing a review for I Am Dust. I really wish I was a little bit more articulate to express how emotionally captivating this book was.

I wonder if I can just say ‘wow you need to read this book, it’s fan-bloody-tastic!’

Okay fine, I’ll try to write a proper review.

I Am Dust contains two timelines, expertly woven together, the first from 2005 and the second from 2019. In one we follow a teenage Chloe, along with her friends Jess and Ryan who decide to play with a Ouija board. The second is fourteen years later and Chloe is working in the Dean Wilson theatre, when she finds out that they are going to revive the musical Dust after twenty years and the death of the lead actress Morgan Miller. An old face from Chloe’s past pops up, bringing back memories that she’d long forgotten…

I Am Dust is a fantastic spooky tale set to the backdrop of teen angst, unrequited love and magic.

What I loved about Louise Beech’s other book is her ability to create realistic yet troubled characters and really get you to care about them. Chloe was no different. I really felt for her and rooted for her throughout the story.

The atmosphere in the book was amazing, I think it helped that it was set in a theatre, adding to a bit of magic and mysticism to the whole thing. I love the theatre and don’t go often enough (I know I can’t go right now because of the whole global pandemic but you get what I mean). 

After the ending I’m still a little sad now and I think I may have the beginnings of a book hangover.

I Am Dust is an atmospheric and intriguing novel that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions that you just don’t want to get off of.

About The Author:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was aLouise Beech Author pic Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

#BlogTour #BookReview Slash by Hunter Shea @huntershea1 @flametreepress @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Title: Slash by Hunter Shea

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Date Published:10th October 2019

Genre: Horror 

Description:

Watch out, world, the Wraith is coming for you. As always, Shea brings the thrills with this urban exploration mystery chiller! Megan Hart, New York Times bestseller author

Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains. What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims. The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.

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.

Slash BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and Flame Tree Press for providing me with a copy of Slash in exchange for an honest review.

This is my first Hunter Shea novel and I can safely say it won’t be my last!

Five years ago Ashley King survived the infamous Hayden Resort Massacre, commited by an unknown murderer nicknamed The Wraith but as her memory starts to return, she’s unable to cope and commits suicide. This starts a series of events leading Todd and his friends back to the resort. Something evil is waiting for them, ready to claim more victims. Who will survive?  

Goodness me did Slash scare the living daylights out of me!  Don’t read this at night, if you’re a bit of a scaredy cat like me, it will have you jumping at the slightest of noises.

You’re probably wondering why I read a book that scared me half to death but I just love a good slasher film, so when I read the blurb for this book I found that it was a nod to the old slasher films, I thought I need to read that!

It turned out to be so much more than I thought. Of course there was a good dose of murder, mayhem and gore but I found myself really caring about the characters, hoping they’d survive.

The ending was good but there were certain aspects of it that I was a little disappointed with specifically the killer reveal but of course that’s just my opinion.

Slash was a gruesome but gripping novel that will have you on the edge of your seat.

About The Author:

Hunter Shea is the author of over 25 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological Hunter Sheahorror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon, Loch Ness Revenge and many others. As part of the new horror line at Flame Tree Press, his novel Creature has gained critical acclaim. His novel, The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays. Living in a true haunted house inspired his Jessica Backman: Death in the Afterlife series (Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden). In 2011, he was selected to be a part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. When he’s not writing thrillers and horror, he also spins tall tales for middle grade readers on Amazon’s highly regarded Rapids reading app.

An avid podcaster, he can be seen and heard on Monster Men, one of the longest running video horror podcasts in the world, and Final Guys, focusing on weekly movie and book reviews. His nostalgic column about the magic of 80s horror, Video Visions, is featured monthly at Cemetery Dance Online. You can find his short stories in a number of anthologies, including Chopping Block Party, The Body Horror Book and Fearful Fathoms II.

A lifetime New Yorker, Hunter is supported by his loving wife and two beautiful daughters. When he’s not studying up on cryptozoology, he’s an avid explorer of the unknown, having spent a night alone on the Queen Mary, searching for the Warren’s famous White Lady of the Union Cemetery and other mysterious places.

You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.