Book Review: Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down.

After a perfect start, Daniel and Laura’s travels end abruptly when they are thrown off a night train in the middle of nowhere. To find their way back to civilisation, they must hike along the tracks through a forest…a haunting journey that ends in unimaginable terror.

Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what they saw that night. But as they try to fit back into their old lives, it becomes clear that their nightmare is just beginning…

Follow You Home is a chilling tale of secrets, lies and deadly consequences from the author of #1 bestsellers The Magpies and Because She Loves Me.

My Review:

This book was another one that grabbed me from the outset. The author cleverly ties the past with the present throughout the story to keep you guessing and, of course, to keep you on the edge of your seat. It is one of those stories that, although could seem far-fetched, is so rooted in reality with real and believable characters, that I could honestly believe that something like this could happen. Again, I don’t want to go into too many details here; I don’t want to reveal the plot or ruin the ending. You’ll just have to read it to see what I mean.

From a writer’s perspective, there is clearly an enticing incident that happens in the past, it’s the catalyst that sets the story of the book in motion. It refers to a lot, and you don’t get to know what it is until near the end of the book. This, in my opinion, was a risk. By keeping a the reader guessing you can end up disappointing them, as those with a dark mind (like myself) could be imagining something much worse than what actually happened. As it turned out, the incident was pretty awful, so fortunately met with my twisted expectations.

The front cover is atmospheric, but I’m unsure as to what scene in the book it’s representing, I think a cover that has something more obviously related to the book would serve it better.

Overall I’d give It Follows You Home 4 out of 5 stars. Well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Follow You Home on GoodReads

Killing Cupid by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards

10958968Synopsis

When Alex Parkinson joins a creative writing class, he soon realises that he and his tutor, Siobhan McGowan, are meant to be together. Alex will do anything to be with her. Like buying her designer clothes and lingerie…with her own credit card. Like breaking into her house and reading her diary. Like threatening her ex-boyfriend – and watching his love rival plummet from a rooftop.

But when Alex finally admits defeat and seeks solace elsewhere, Siobhan decides to take revenge. How dare he lose interest in her? He picked the wrong woman to stalk then just back off! As their lives begin to unravel and the past closes in, Alex and Siobhan embark on a collision course that threatens to destroy both themselves and everyone around them…

Optioned by BBC TV for a two-part drama, KILLING CUPID is a dark, twisted psychological thriller that examines what happens when two people who are unlucky in love meet their soulmate – but still manage to get everything wrong. Filled with suspense and dark laughter, and with a unique twist at its conclusion, KILLING CUPID is written in alternating chapters, showing the male and female viewpoints, by renowned author LOUISE VOSS and newcomer MARK EDWARDS.

“I’ve just finished reading this and really enjoyed it: it’s a stalker novel with a twist and an unexpected lightness of touch. You may think the plot will take a predictable course but it doesn’t. The creation of voice and the wit of the observations create immediacy and verve.” LORNA FERGUSSON, Author of The Chase.

My Review:

This book was another recommendation. I run a writers’ group in my home town and when my friend read this book she said, ‘You have to read this!’ Now, I don’t think I have any stalkers in my group (if I do, they’re playing their cards pretty close to their chest) but the concept was still incredibly similar to me as a person; I’m an author, I run a writer’s group, I’m single – although I hasten to add, I’m far too lazy to act out on any violent tendencies! LOL.

I must admit at the time, I didn’t read the Goodreads profile, only the back of the book, so I was quite shocked to see pretty much nearly the whole plot there, I really enjoyed the twists and turns of Killing Cupid, and if I’d have read about it on Goodreads first, I perhaps wouldn’t have liked it so much.

From a writer’s perspective, the expertise that both authors use to tell the characters’ stories is without fault. It’s a real ‘he said, she said’. I’m unsure as to whether I could write a story with another author, but it is something that I’d love to try in the future. I enjoyed both writer”s styles so much that I have started reading their own books too.

The front cover is great. Very evocative yet simple.

I noticed in the description that this has been optioned for TV, which it thoroughly deserves. I just the hope the authors have control over what happens to their story, so it stays as faithful to the book as possible.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. Whether you are a writer or not, you should read this book.

 

Women in Horror Month 2017

To celebrate this year’s Women in Horror Month, I’m going to sharing some thoughts on my favourite women horror authors, so without further faff…

the-vampire-chronicles-book-coverAnne Rice

I read Interview with a Vampire when I was 17 years old. It made me fall in love with vampires. Before that, I’d worn a cross to protect myself from them (I’m not religious in any way, I’d just watched the film adaptation of Salem’s Lot and thought it was better safe than sorry!). Needless to say that after I r
ead the tale of Louis and Lestat, I took that necklace off.

It is a beautifully written book that seamlessly delves into the characters and makes someone, that could be considered as a monster, into a breathtakingly sorrowful and exciting creature of the night – a bizarre mix. I can not recommend Anne Rice’s books highly enough to those readers out there that haven’t discovered them yet.

 

Shirley Jackson6219656

Gothic horror author of highly disturbing short stories and novels, Shirley Jackson was a pioneer of the genre. Her short story The Lottery
(based on the lottery you wouldn’t want to win!) paved the way for all sorts of books, from Battle Royale to The Hunger Games.

She brought us horror that brandished social commentaries like a razor-sharp weapon, and human monsters that are more real than we would ever want to admit. Always engrossing, stunning prose that drags you into the story and doesn’t let you go, even after you’ve finished reading it. Anyone who doesn’t believe that the horror genre belongs in literary fiction needs to read her work.

51xrqewd0sl-_ac_ul320_sr212320_Nancy A Collins

Back in the 90s my older brother and I played White Wolf’s role play game, Vampire The Masquerade. I so wanted to be part of the Toreador clan; to be a beautiful vampire who only writes emotionally prose dedicated to her many victims…

It was this game brought me to Nancy A Collin’s book Sunglasses After Dark. Sonja Blue is a fantastic (had to stop myself from typing ‘fangtastic!) character that is true to her nature; something that made her feel more real and made the book far more interesting than the other vampire books that you get now. I can’t recommend this author’s work enough and, even better, she also writes amazing comics, Jason vs. Leatherface – how can you beat two slasher killers going head to head – with Michael Myers waiting in the wings to tackle the winner? Just an idea :)

Susan Hill51h6sqpzb8l-_sx309_bo1204203200_

A writer of genuinely terrifying ghost stories and true gothic fiction, this talented lady is most famous for writing, The Woman in Black and has also branched out into crime fiction. I started reading her work for an essay on isolation for my Creative Writing Degree and got hooked. The anthology, The Travelling Bag and Other Stories includes some rather disturbing shorts and is the perfect read for a stormy night when the rain beats your window like an impatient visitor, and the wind’s screams slice across the growing darkness. As England seems to be getting a lot of those kind of nights, I’d highly recommend buying this book! Susan Hill is a must for anyone with stones big enough to read a ghost story late at night.

I hoped you enjoyed this short dedication to my favourite Women in Horror. Perhaps I’ve been remiss in not putting myself in this list? I’ve had over 30 short horror stories included in anthologies with monsters ranging from: vampires, mad men, witches, unicorns (yes, you read that right) Jack the Ripper, dark faeries and much more. If you’d like to read my horror stories, pop along to my Amazon author page and take a look at the macabre selection on offer.

 

 

 

 

Believing in the supernatural

file0001298559974As an author, I do a lot of research, but as a very curious person, I do much more. The supernatural has always intrigued me, so it’s not surprising that it creeps into my books – whether I want it to or not! My latest book, Lost in Wonderland includes a character called Shilo who has a very staunch belief in monsters. He’s convinced himself they are very real, so much so that he’s spent most of his life in a mental hospital, whiling away the days being fearful of a monster that he’s convinced took his mother and talking things through with a very understanding imaginary friend.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m a Shilo, but I deliberately created him to represent a significant part of my personality – the believer.

 
I grew up on stories of ghosts and monsters, and I was reading about these creatures long before the internet gave us unlimited access to every witness, urban legend, blurry photo and conspiracy article. I adored the thought that these things existed in our world – as long as the existed outside my line of sight that is! I always found it fascinating that every culture has a legend to do with a vampire, a sea creature, a Bigfoot and even demons. Most dating back to when these countries had no communication with one another and probably didn’t even know of each other’s existence. And it seems everyone I’ve spoken to has ghost stories of some sort that they can tell. I live a ten-minute drive from the famous British castle where Charles Dickens saw the ghost that inspired the Phantom in his book, Bleak House.file0001322029483

 
I don’t know about you, but I have a very open mind about the supernatural; though, not so open that my brain drops out! My analytical side flares up with everything I read – that cold breeze that made you shiver could well be just poor quality window fittings and that lake monster you took a holiday selfie with might well be just an oozing pile of trash floating out to sea. I think we have to wonder, in this day and age with the technology we have at our everyday disposal, why we’re not brimming with irrefutable evidence of the supernatural. Maybe, like me, most of the human race like the idea of it, just don’t want to know for sure that it exists – I mean how would it affect the world if a pack of werewolves were discovered hiding out in a US national park? Worse, that it had been covered up?

 
I’d love to hear your stories of supernatural events and experiences, so please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog, I’d love to read them.

Book Review: The Woman Next Door by Cass Green

30383918Synopsis

A No.1 e-book bestseller, perfect for fans of Her by Harriet Lane and In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.
Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder.

Everybody needs good neighbours…

Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.

Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help. But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa…

My Review

This book is written exceptionally well. It had a vivid amount of lovely turns of phrase and the two characters who tell the story were brilliant. Hester, in particular, is a great character, and I’m pretty sure we all know at least Hester in our lives.

My only criticism is that the plot was a little cliched in parts (I can’t say much else, or I’ll ruin the story). I’d have liked to have seen something even more sinister – although I’m a pretty dark person, so maybe this plot was actually just enough for a normal person! There are twists in the book, but I did guess them quite early on, so I didn’t get that ‘Good grief’ gasping moment.

The front cover is a little misleading; again I can’t say much more for fear of ruining the story. The strapline text is quite vague, and the woman on the front looks like she’s under water when it would have been much more apt to have a ‘curtain twitcher’ on the cover.

Overall it’s a well-written book that keeps you reading; I was just disappointed that the story wasn’t as twisted as it could have been. 3 out of 5 stars.

Check it out on GoodReads here…

Book Review: The Venus Trap by Louise Voss

23199734Synopsis:

Jo Atkins’ sixteenth year was disastrous: she lost her dad, was assaulted by a stranger, and then had her heart broken. For the last twenty-five years, she’s believed that nothing could ever be as bad again.

She was wrong.

Now, still smarting from her recent divorce, pretty, self-effacing Jo finally gathers the courage to enter the dating scene. She meets Claudio, whom she vaguely remembers from her youth, but after a few dates decides he’s creepy and politely tells him ‘thanks but no thanks’.

But Claudio has no intention of letting her go.

Instead of never seeing him again, Jo wakes up sick and terrified, handcuffed to her own bed. She is given a week to prove her love for Claudio—or he will kill her.

Claudio, it turns out, is a man with nothing left to lose.

The Venus Trap tackles the emotional impact of divorce, the perils of modern dating and the age-old powers of lust and obsession.

Review:

I was recommended Louise Voss’ work by my best friend, Julie and also my friend and fellow author, Jane Issac, so with two such glowing reviews, I had to read Louise’s work. I was so glad I did. She’s a fantastic writer with a quirky sense of humour, which is something I always appreciate in books, regardless of their genre.

The story has a lot of flashbacks in, which I would typically find frustrating, but the concept worked very well here. From a writer’s perspective, The Venus Trap could be used as a class textbook to teach using flashbacks and how to plot for dramatic impact. The pace is steady, and although I did guess the ending, it wasn’t until about halfway through the book – which isn’t unusual for me, my mind is pretty dark and twisty, so I usually figure out the twist in the tale quite early on.

This book features online dating, which I must admit I attempt once in a while myself, and this book captures the sheer annoying oddness of that world. I’ve certainly had some simply soul-eroding encounters in the past!

Claudio wasn’t your usual villain, but his quiet craziness kind of made him even scarier. After all, someone coming at you with a butcher knife kind of have all their cards on the table. Someone you can’t get a read on, that’s the one you need to watch out for!

The front cover is good. It represents the story and has a flash of eye-catching colour.

Overall, I’d give The Venus Trap 4 out of 5 stars. Worth picking up – especially if your New Year’s resolution is to try online dating.

Find it on GoodReads here…

 

My Top 5 favourite TV series based on books.

One of my ambitions as an author is to have my work on screen; I mean who wouldn’t? So, as my work hasn’t been picked up by a lovely TV producer (yet) here’s my top 5 TV shows based on books.


10964Outlander:
I just binged watched this time travel romance series based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. Gritty and sometimes gruesome, this gem of a series sweeps the viewer into an amazing story filled with hunky highlanders, sadistic soldiers and with just a hint of witches and magic. My only gripe is that the heroine, Claire is not as strong as 301082she could be and makes a lot of fundamental mistakes that kind of annoyed me.

True Blood: Although not on your screens anymore, this vampire extravaganza is
definitely worth a watch. They took just enough liberties from the novels to make it interesting for readers and had some truly gorgeous vampires and rugged werewolves in there. Ended with a fizzle rather than a bang (just like the book series!) but hey, sometimes that happens.

13496Game of Thrones: I’m certainly not alone with this one! You really can’t ask for much more in one series: frosted zombies, dragons that are just as cute huge as they were when they were hatchlings, killer knights, mythical magic, and warring factions where there is both good and bad on every side. I’m so looking forward to the next season coming back in April, although we are now getting to the stage where the TV series will be overtaking the books, it will be interesting to see what will h30071appen here.

The Walking Dead: Based on some amazing graphic novels, the Walking Dead has me hooked on their undead and post-apocalyptic anarchy. There was a bit of a lull in the middle (around season 3), and if I’m honest, it almost lost me – but now I’m counting the days till the new season resumes in February. They have some great characters and don’t seem afraid to kill them off either! Edge of your seat stuff!

656War & Peace: Featured on the BBC here in the UK, I have a great feeling about this Tolstoy classic. Sweeping drama drenched with lavish settings, costumes and an amazing cast. It has the potential to take the viewer by the hand and lead them through a turbulent time in history and introduce a whole new generation to this masterpiece of literature.

 
Happy watching, and remember to let me know if you are watching any gems yourself. Nicx

Book Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

30215662

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

“The Final Girls need you. . . . The Final Girls are tough, everything survivors should be. But the new threat is clever, ominous, even closer than you suspect. You are about to gasp. You might drop the book. You may have to look over your shoulder. But you must keep reading. This is the best book of 2017.” —Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Find Her

 

Review:

Great book. Can’t recommend it enough!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, it sneaked in as the best book I read in 2016.

A twisty story that keeps you guessing and I just loved the subject matter of the ‘Final Girl’. I have long been a fan of the splatterpunk genre and the slasher films, and this concept fascinates me. Are there real life Final Girls out there? Yes, just Google it.

As an author myself, I appreciated the pace of the story and the subplots that all tied together; a real plotting feat by the author that I’d advise any writer to read and learn from, no matter what your genre.

The front cover is very eye-catching, love the pink flashes. Although I have discovered since that, there are two front covers out there, which I really can’t understand. I write, but I also work in marketing, so I truly think that branding is everything. One of my books has two different covers I feel that it can confuse people. Even when it comes to different countries, I still think you should pick one cover and stick to it – just my opinion.

I think this is going to be a big hit, if it isn’t, then there really is no literary justice in the world.

5 out 5 stars – you have to read this book when it comes out in June 2017!

In the meantime, check it out on Goodreads…

Happy New Year!


file7841341533535Happy New Year!

So, 2017 is here and let’s hope it’s going to be a good one. Although, it’s not all out of your hands. If you feel like you could have had a better 2016, achieved more, done more, been more, then, instead of feeling annoyed at yourself, turn that feeling around to making 2017 better.
I know, it’s easier said than done, right? Even I have felt like I’ve worked hard to achieve very little in 2016. It can be soul destroying and make you wonder why you bother at all, but you just need to remember that your life can turn around in just one event, one meeting or even one decision. You just need to keep trying till you get to that key moment.
As a writer, I know this more than anyone. It took me years to get published, and even now I still don’t feel like I’ve reached that goal to be a professional author yet. But I haven’t stopped trying, and I won’t. I’ll also continue to help other writers who want that same goal as me, guide them on their journeys (something I’ve done for over 6 years now) and give them the support that I wished I had had.

2723aea9e715263cbfa96f520a4168ff
So, the question that never really get answered in all those self-help books: How? How do you keep going even if you’re tired, depressed, feeling unappreciated or feeling like life is ignoring even your most basic needs? Unfortunately, I think that the answer is different for everyone. For me, I just need to push on regardless, do the whole British ‘stiff upper lip’ trick and hope that all my work will, someday, pay off. The one piece of advice that I can give you, right now, is just to get something done, to take that first step on whatever journey you need to take to get you to the destination if where you want to be. Write a ‘to do’ list and then start ticking those bad boys off. And just remember, a year from now, you’ll wish you had started that journey today.

Happy 2017 everyone – Remember to stop by here on my blog when you can and let me know how the year is treating you and how your journey is going. Nicx

3 things I love about Christmas, and 3 things I hate

imgp8413-2

1) I love the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. It’s a great excuse to get people together and have a good catch-up. We all live very hectic lives, and this time of year we can take time out and have a festive cuppa and a good old chat.

 
2) Presents. I’ll say it again, presents! I know it’s a bit capitalist/ commercial, but I’m not above saying that I love gifts and also the chance to buy beautiful things for the important people in my life. I’m a bit of a shopaholic, and I take every gift as a challenge to buy something that I think that person will love, something that shows them that I listen to them and know them.

 
3) The promise of a new year. Christmas heralds a new year and a chance to feel like anything is possible. It wasn’t that long ago that such a time started my writing journey, got me published and saw me start a writers’ group that has helped others along the way too.

1) But I do hate Turkey, There, I said it. It’s dry and has a strong taste to it, but this time of year I’m made to eat it. I can usually choke it down if I smother it in oodles of cranberry sauce, but still, I wish a new meat would emerge as a traditional Christmas meal. Although a few years back my mum branched out for Christmas and bought a bird within a bird, within a bird which turned out to be a culinary sin against nature, so maybe I should be grateful for the white meat devil I know!

2) I can’t stand Christmas decorations. I know, bar-humbug! But they smell funny; they make rooms seem claustrophobic and manic (if not done correctly, and mostly they are not) Competing with neighbours as to who can have the most flashing lights dripping off your house that waste electricity and distract drivers is just crazy. Then add in the cost and time for putting all those tinsel-encrusted decorations up and taking them down… it’s exhausting. Now, I’m not against everything; I love a bit of bunting just as much as the next girl, but a little moderation can go a long way.

3) Christmas cards. I really hate being told what to do, and for years my family forced me to write Christmas cards. What a waste of time, paper, money and thought. I’d much rather see that person and buy theeventing_and_dog_fall_photos_118m a drink and have a proper chat than give them a card of one of four designs I bought in last year’s sale with a scrawled signature in. Yes, as an author I’m still buzzed when I get to sign a book, but having to write fifty cards at once is just wrist numbingly wrong. I always appreciate when someone gives me a card, and I respect other people’s belief in them, but instead of just a hurried pre-bought Christmas message, why not use them to invite that person round for some mulled wine or, if they are too far away, set up a Skype call.

And for no real reason, other than it’s Christmas, here’s a cute dog dressed as Santa!

Merry Christmas to all my readers, and to all a good blog. May your turkey be moist and everyone you love be near enough to hug. Nicx