The Lingering – SJI Holiday
Last Christmas I read the much acclaimed The Deaths of December and what a festive feast it was. Now Susi Holiday is back with The Lingering which is a dark and twisty spine chilling ghost story that is also the perfect thriller.
SJI Holiday has managed to write a creepy story that really seeps into your pores of your skin and haunts you long after you have finished the perfect book for the dark autumn/winter evenings.
The centre of attention is Rosalind House a home that was once a psychiatric home that is now a commune. Jack and Ali arrive as they seek to find themselves. Many of the people now at the commune are escaping the day to day rat race of city life. The area has been known in the past for stories and myths of witches. Even Rosalind House itself has a pretty scary history.
Soon after Jack and Ali arrive things really start to happen and the reader is sucked into the scary history of the home. Pretty soon history is starting to repeat itself and something or someone is hell bent of some form of pretty scary vengeance. Now everyone at the commune is getting freaked out.
Was it Jack and Ali’s arrival that sparked the latest creepy goings on. They both have something in their personal lives that seems to brings things to the boil. There are really two stories here, Jack and Ali and then the darkness of the world we don’t want to see. Bit by bit the pair are coming undone and with it the secrets that they have been keeping to themselves. The characters that come together in The Lingering will keep you page turning all the way through page after page. There is among them a ghost hunter and she is single minded and is sure there is something that is haunting Rosalind House but she is in for something much more than she expects and what a character SJI Holiday has created. A cracking spine-tingling story that is just perfect for this time of year. Dare you turn the lights off when you put the book down. Highly Recommended.
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (Orenda Books) for the review copy of The Lingering by SJI Holiday
The Lingering by SJI Holiday was published by Orenda Books and was published on 15th November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Ten Poems about Robins
The poetry pamphlets by Candlestick Press are always received well by readers of my blog and so I am delighted to share two new poetry pamphlets released for Christmas.
The first is Ten Poems about Robins. Christmas would not be Christmas without our colourful Robins, they are just so synonymous with the festive period.
As the introduction to this wonderful collection of poetry by the Scottish poet Hamish Whyte says, “The Robin is Britain’s favourite bird”. So it is an absolute joy to read these ten poems. Robins are a gardener’s best friend yet they also know food will be close by. Even as the short cold days of winter encroach the Robin can be heard singing in the small hours. Many of my followers on Twitter know of my Robin in the garden very early in the morning that greets me with a song as a put some food out.
In this collection the poems are:
- The Red Robin – John Clare
- Robin’s Round – UA Fanthorpe
- Real Life Christmas Card – Norman MacCaig
- After Christmas – Peter Walton
- The Key-Note – Christina Rossetti
- To the Robin – Fleur Adcock
- ‘I Watch the Robin’ – Hamish Whyte
- ‘You’ll Know Her- by Her Foot – Emily Dickinson
- Robin Redbreast – Stanley Kunitz
- Gardener’s Friend – John Freeman
The poems can be enjoyed anytime of the year but this would make just the perfect Christmas card as it comes with a beautiful bookmark and also a poetry post card of a Robin.
Christmas Lights: Ten Poems for Dark Winter Nights
As I write this many towns here in the South West are about to switch on their Christmas lights which heralds for many the start of the festive period. A time of cathering with family and friends, shopping, eating roast chestnuts while looking at festive window displays in the shops.
But it also means the start of Winter, those short days and long dark cold nights. Brightened by the twinkling Christmas lights. Candlestick Press have just released Christmas Lights: Ten Poems for Dark Winter Nights. A wondrous collection of poetry that brings light to the darkness of winter. Yet there is light whether from Christmas lights or to the Parisian heartland and the glittering of a frozen lake were people skate or the magical Northern Lights in the dead of winter.
- Christmas Lights – Stephen Keeler
- Unity Brass Band – Kim Moore
- A Winter’s Tale of the Present in a Matchbox – Zaffar Kunial
- Christmas Eve Fire at Barrington Cement Works – John Clegg
- Museum of Angels – Amali Rodrigo
- Sugar Nana – Hannah Lowe
- Hush – Tony Curtis
- Northern Lights – Nancy Campbell
- Skater on the Lake – Niall Campbell
- Les Lumières de Paris – Katherine Gallagher
A collection that will brighten your dark winter’s nights as you prepare for the Christmas season. As with The Ten Poems about Robins, this will make an ideal Christmas card as it comes with a bookmark and a poetry postcard.
Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.
They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds. With Christmas not too far away this is an ideal time to think of sending cards to loved ones and friends. The pamphlets of stories and poetry make the ideal gift to send. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Here
Thanks you to Candlestick Press for the review copy of Ten Poems about Robins and Christmas Lights: Ten Poems about Dark Winter Nights. Published by Candlestick Press and both are available via Candlestick Press.
Landfill by Tim Dee
I do have to say Little Toller are producing some incredible books. I was delighted to receive a review copy of Tim Dee’s latest natural history books Landfill. The first thing that strikes you is the jacket cover is just amazing and this is down to Greg Poole.
Landfill is a beautifully written and produced book that takes a look at one species of bird that has now made the towns its home. Tim Dee has spent long hours studying Gulls and especially one species of Gull and that is the Herring Gull. Now many people consider Herring Gulls to be a pest. How many have been harassed when walking through a town centre especially when carrying food. I have faced similar, but these Gulls have adapted to the throw away nature of modern times.
The author has been visiting many landfill sites were the Gulls now spend most of their lives feeding off our food waste that we humans have thrown away and the Gulls have adapted to make their lives here and can find free food. So who is to blame for the populations of Gulls that many people consider as pests. The answer is a very simple one. We all are. Food waste that is discarded has to go somewhere and that is landfill.
Tim Dee has researched the Gull populations and has spent time with fellow birdwatchers and fellow researchers in studying Gulls and their behaviour all over the country. Like Tim Dee I have spent many winters studying seabirds and especially Gulls. Travelling from the South West to as far as all corners of Scotland and the Isle of Lewis looking and watching the behaviour of Gulls and occasionally finding those much sort after rarer species of Gull.
But our town dwelling Gulls are moving in and now have free food around the clock whether that is from a landfill site or throwaway fast food in the town centres of emptying rubbish bags outside of shops. I once watched one Gull tear open a rubbish bag and rip out its contents looking for a free meal.
From following fishing boats to following we humans the Gulls have adapted to city life and they are here to stay. The real problem is us the people and how we run our own lives and throwaway culture of especially food. May be it is us who need to change.
I remember watching Hitchcock’s The Birds and for a while it scared me and I avoided Gulls but overtime I learned to love them. Landfill is wonderfully researched and makes for great reading. I loved Tim’s writing style and Landfill now sits proudly among some of my most favourite natural history books. Highly Recommended.
#Landfill @TimDee4 @LittleToller
Thank you to Littler Toller Books for the review copy of Landfill by Tim Dee.
Landfill by Tim Dee was published by Little Toller and was published on 10th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett
How I loved Rush Oh! and so it was with great excitement that a copy of Shirley Barrett’s latest novel The Bus on Thursday arrived. I was not disappointed. This is basically a black comedy. Eleanor Melett’s life has been turned upside down for more than just one reason and so she has decided to head off to an Australian town but not ordinary town. This one is out of the way. But this town has its own secrets.
Eleanor has had to deal with the break-up of her relationship and then to discover she has cancer but she deals with this with disdain. She has a breast removed and now is thinking she needs to get away and while she is recovering she applies for a teaching post in the remote Australian town of Talbingo. A bit of a town that is a bit strange. The previous teacher (Miss Barker) disappeared one night and no-one knows what exactly happened to her. Now Eleanor has moved into Miss Barker’s house.
Eleanor does have a bit of a character issue and that can be taken out of context at times and can cause her a few problems but this is how she is dealing with her post op cancer treatment. The town is a bit creepy and has an obsession. For our Eleanor she does tend to bring things onto herself. Not sure why she chose teaching as she comes across as being a bit off in class. Not sure sleeping with the brother of one of her students is a good idea. Then there is the local priest who seems to think that the wine for communion is purely his to enjoy and his views on cancer don’t win him many votes.
I loved Eleanor but did find I wanted to take to one side and give her a good talking to. There are a number of interesting characters that lend to the storyline really well. Miss Barker although not present is a leading character and everyone in the town loved her. But what did happen to Miss Barker? And why are there so many locks in her house were Eleanor now resides?
This at times is a real laugh out loud read with some dark humour thrown in. A book that at times also asked a few questions of the reader and the ending might do the same. Still I really enjoyed The Bus on Thursday and was really worth the wait.
Thank you to Fleet for the review copy of The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett
The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett was published by Fleet and was published on 18th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal – Horatio Clare
I am becoming quite a fan of Horatio Clare’s writing this is my second book in a matter of a few weeks. Released on 1st November is The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal (Elliott & Thompson) is a book written in the form of a diary that starts in October and works its way through from autumn through the winter months.
I am someone who loves the outdoors and all things nature, the dark winter months trapped in an office has often left me feeling tired and exhausted and then come the weekend I cherish every moment of the hours of daylight.
Here in Horatio Clare’s excellent diary, he talks openly of how he to suffers as we move from kicking our way through the autumn leaves and then as the days grow shorter and then into November one of the darkest months of the year. I really found Horatio’s open and honest account to be very reassuring. Many of us suffer in silence especially in the workplace.
The excitement of Christmas comes to Horatio Clare and his family, with memories of childhood and now with his own family. But silently he suffers knowing that there is a tax bill and other debts to be paid and how he is going to find the money to pay all this. It is during the winter months he becomes more or less withdrawn to save money. At times there is a little tension in the household.
Seasonal depression is not something anyone should suffer in silence with (all except me apparently). Nature too shuts down but there is joy to be found in nature during the darkest months. The joy of chilly frosty morning walks at the weekend. There is so much we can enjoy about winter but we have to appreciate its beauty. The Light in the Dark is a moving and poetic look at this time of year and one book I rejoice in. This is a torch to guide us through the dark winter days until Spring’s first rays of light warm us. I am delighted to highly recommend The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal.
Thank you to Elliott & Thompson for the review copy of The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare. Also my thanks to Anne Cater for arranging the Blog Tour via Random Things Tours.
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare was published by Elliott & Thompson and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal – Blog Tour
The Glorious Dead – Tim Atkinson
All wars leave an unspeakable human cost, but the deaths of The Great War are on a dreadful scale. When the war ended what happened next? Many of the casualties of the battlefields of WWI were left were they fell or in temporary graves.
Tim Atkinson has just written a book called The Glorious Dead (Unbound) and tells the story in a novel format of some soldiers who stayed behind when the guns fell silent. Their story is about the gravediggers. An overlooked story of World War One.
It is 1918 and World War One is finally over. The battlefields are scarred and are a muddy grave to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and these battlefields hold the remains of thousands of soldiers who fell.
This story follows Lance-Corporal Jack Patterson and his men from the platoon who stayed behind to work in the appalling conditions to find bodies of soldiers and give them a final resting place. But that is not all that Jack stayed behind for. Jack has eyes for Katia who works in one of the bar. But Jack is not going to have everything his own way. What is there in Jack’s past that yet may come back to haunt him.
This is a story that never really gets told, the men who cleared the battlefields after the war ended. A deeply emotive story and one being told as we prepare to commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice which brought an end to a war that many believed would end all wars.
Back in the mid-1980’s I visited the WWI cemetery’s and it is one of the most emotive places to visit. Yet 100 years later there are still many who lie were they fell and have no marked grave.
Thank you to Anne Cater for the review copy of The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson and for arranging the Blog Tour through Random Things Tours.
The Glorious Dead by Tim Atkinson was published by Unbound and was published on 1st November 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Glorious Dead Blog Tour
Trap – Lilja Sigurdardóttir
If you read Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, then you must head off to your local bookshop and get yourself a copy of Trap (Orenda Books) which is the second in the Reykjavik Noir Series. This I raced through in one day it was that gripping. One book I knew when I started there was no way I was going to put this book down.
Sonya is trying to make a new start and escape the world of drugs and is happy in Florida, the sunshine state. What could possibly go wrong. Her life is Thomas her son but when he is taken, Sonya’s life falls back into the chaos and hell of the past and this will include heading back to Iceland a country she thought she had seen the last of.
Back in Iceland is her shocking husband Adam who is behind her son’s kidnap. He is desperate to get Sonya and bring them back to Iceland. Now Sonya is back and back into the world she tried to escape from a world of drugs and drug lords. Sonya wants her son back but things are about to get raw and nasty. Firstly, there is her ex in Adam but then there are a few seedier and creepy characters that threaten Sonya’s life and that of her son.
In the strong storyline there is financial misconduct that involves Sonya’s lover Agla, but there is real tension between them both now. Agla owes big money to a group of men who want their money back and they will do what it takes to make sure they get it back.
We also meet more of the characters from the first book including Bragi who is the customs officer who is not far off retirement, for Bragi he is ticking off the days and caring for is very sick wife. Sonya will always be able to count on Bragi for help in her quest despite everything that Bragi has to cope with in his life.
Sigurdardóttir has written a very strong second book in Trap. This is a real page turner strong on characters and is dark and leaves you with punch in the gut feel as the storyline gets darker and chilling and has left me hoping there is to be a book three. Highly Recommended.
#Trap @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks
Thank you to Karen Sullivan (orenda Books) for the review copy of Snap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir and also to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for arranging the Blog Tour.
Snap by Lilja Sigurdardóttir was published by Orenda Books and was published on 18th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Follow the Snap – Blog Tour
Lies Between Us
I have known Ronnie Turner for quite a while on Twitter, a fellow book blogger, so when Ronnie announced that she had written a book and it was going to be published via HQ Digital I was absolutely delighted. This was one of those really great positive news stories. One us (book bloggers) was going to be in print. So to be asked if I would review for Ronnie, this was probable more nervous for me than Ronnie herself. What would happen if I did not get on with the plot? Well I am delighted to say that Lies Between Us is a real cracker of a psychological thriller.
Three different characters, three different timelines. The main characters are Miller, who is a chilling character, controlling even at a young age. Miller has some serious issues and Ronnie Turner really plays a blinder with Miller. Maisie Green is a nurse in ICU. She really cares for her patients and those loved ones who are worried at their bedside. But despite her wonderful happy life with Ben, Maisie hides a secret even from her beloved Ben. This she carries with enormous guilt. Then finally there is John who is a writer. A life lived and worked hard for. John could not ask for anymore a wife he adores. Until one-day John’s daughter Bonnie goes missing. Both John and his wife Jules are shaken to the core at the thought their daughter has been kidnapped. Then things get worse for them both as it becomes clear the person behind knows both John and Jules. Is their daughter still alive? Can the Police find her before it’s too late?
Each of the three stories are connected, and it is a really compelling psychological thriller that is addictive, it can be uncomfortable when the story is talking about Bonnie. But what is the connection between all three. What is Maisie hiding and her latest patient she is taking a real interest in the wife of the patient.
The reader may make up their own mind as the story progresses, but be warned some thrillers do not go the way you think, same old secrets and lies? This one will test you and make you think. For a debut novel this is incredibly plotted and character driven. Congratulations Ronnie and a fantastic debut.
Thank you to HQ Digital for the review copy of Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner.
Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner is published in paperback on 13th December 2018 and the eBook is available now and published by HQ Digital.
Lies Between Us – Blog Tour.
Something of his Art – Horatio Clare
This short book (96 pages) is based on the BBC Radio Three programmes when writer Horatio Clare retraced the 250 mile walk by the young and then unknown Johann Sebastian Bach. Something of his Art (Little Toller) recounts the authors walk in J.S. Bach’s footsteps.
The walk in 1705 from Arnstadt to Lübeck took place during the winter at a time when Bach was earning a living as a teacher and organist. Still yet to be discovered as a composer. A defining moment in the young life of Bach.
The walk by Horatio Clare is not just a walk covering the same route as J.S. Bach it is a walk that talks of the landscapes and the wildlife of the journey today and what it would have been in Bach’s day as he walked the German countryside.
For someone like me who has loved classical music since my childhood, this was a real insight to the composer’s early days and Clare tells of Bach’s drinking and also the fights. The evocative writing by Horatio Clare really makes you walk each step with him just as the author must have thought Bach was walking with him as well. The sheer quality of the writing is a shining example to the research for both this book and also the BBC Radio Three programmes.
Just a words on the cover design, it is in itself a real work of art and Little Toller need to be congratulated. I cannot rate Something of his Art high enough. This is sheer quality. I have a feeling I will be returning this fabulous book again in the near future.
Thank you to Little Toller Books for the review copy of Something of his Art by Horatio Clare.
Something of his Art by Horatio Clare was published by Little Toller Books and was published on 11th October 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch by Tom Cox
To me autumn means many things days get shorter, the colour of the trees looking for natures rich harvest cosy days and evenings curled up with a book of short stories and if that book is one of old folk tales and creepy stories that just make the hair on the back of your neck stand up all the better. Well if this has got your attention then you are going to love Help the Witch (unbound) by Tom Cox.
Tom’s previous book 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the 2018 Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize. Help the Witch is a book I just loved. This is just the perfect autumn book to curl up with. There are ten stories some of which I went back to read twice. I always feel a book of short stories should start with a story to grab the reader and in this case the opening story just nailed it. It is the story of the title of the book. Help the Witch. I just loved the setting and of isolation. A journey and in the snow and the snow gets heavier as you travel and then you arrive. I have always found travelling country lanes in the dark really creepy did I really see something or was that just a shape of a tree, a shadow. You have the feeling something is watching you. You get the drift.
Then there are a further nine stories to read. I was just totally immersed in each story. These are stories that that could have been written many years ago but Tom Cox gathered his inspiration from E.F. Benson and M.R. James. Some tell of natural landscapes and old broken sheds and rusty barbed wire with shred of old wool still clinging on despite best efforts of winter winds. Each story is unique but just perfect for this time of year. You know you are being taken on a journey but you are not sure how or where. Then there is the last story. I will just leave this hanging there.
I have come to really enjoy reading books by Tom Cox because you know you are reading a book by a very talented writer. Tom has covered many genres but this is his first foray into short stories and I am hoping there are more to come. Readers will flock to this attracted by the incredible cover designed by Joe McLaren and there are illustrations in the book by the authors mum. How wonderful is that.
Help the Witch is just superb and another by the superb publisher Unbound and I am delighted to Highly Recommend.
Thank you to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy Help the Witch by Tom Cox
Help the Witch by Tom Cox is published by Unbound and is released on 18th October 2018 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Help the Witch – The Blog Tour