Blog Tour Extract~Halcyon by Rio Youers

Hi guys,

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Halcyon by Rio Youers and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all in just a little bit!

About the author:

Rio Youers
Rio Youers is the British Fantasy Award–nominated author of Old Man Scratch and Point Hollow. His short fiction has been published in many notable anthologies, and his novel, Westlake Soul, was nominated for Canada’s prestigious Sunburst Award. He has been favorably reviewed in such venues as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and The National Post. His latest novel, The Forgotten Girl, was released by Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press in June 2017.
Rio lives in southwestern Ontario with his wife, Emily, and their children, Lily and Charlie.

About the book:

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Halcyon is the answer for anyone who wants to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems.

A self-sustaining community on a breathtakingly beautiful island, Halcyon is run for people who want to live without fear, crime or greed. Its leader has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing, and believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.

On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. Yet he soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer. As the founder captivates his young family, Martin sets out to discover the truth of the island, however terrible it might be, where something so perfect hides unimaginable darkness beneath…

Halcyon by Rio Youers

Extract:

Laura muttered, “He does Dylan better than Dylan,” and Martin snapped out of his show. That was when he noticed the clicking. It wasn’t the rhythmic clicking he associated with Shirley’s texting. This was constant. A purr. He looked up, expecting to see her zoned out. And she was, but not in the usual way. Her head was angled awkwardly and her eyelids uttered. Her thumbs blurred on the screen.

“Shirley?”

She was having some kind of seizure. Martin drew his leg off the arm and sprang from his chair. He got Laura’s attention by waving a hand in front of her eyes, then crossed the room to where Shirley reclined in the other armchair.

 

He cradled the back of her head in one hand and gently tilted her jaw to keep her airway open. She garbled something. The veins across her throat bulged.

“What’s happening to her?” Laura asked, crouching beside the armchair. She tried removing the cell phone from Shirley’s hands but Shirley held tight, her thumbs still working.

“Seizure, I think,” Martin said. “Maybe she was looking at flashing images.”

“Should I call nine-one-one?”

Martin looked from Shirley to Laura, then down at the cell phone’s screen as Laura tried to free it from their daughter’s clasp. He glimpsed what she’d typed: a string of random letters, symbols, and emojis, but with several full words interspersed in all the nonsense. Martin barely logged them before Laura pried the phone away. He definitely saw SCARED and CHIPPEWA and perhaps BOTTLECAP, or maybe it was BOTTLETOP.

“Martin?” Laura snapped. She threw the cell phone on the floor and clutched Shirley’s hands. “Nine-one-one?”

“Wait,” he said. He eased Shirley onto her side and peeled damp strands of hair from her brow. “It’s okay, baby. Mom and Dad are here.” Her eyes flashed open and closed. Her mouth moved silently. Martin pressed the cool back of his hand to her cheek and she whimpered. A moment later, she screwed her face up and started to cry. It was like a pressure release. The tightness left her body at once. Her trembling first lessened, then stopped altogether.

“Mom . . . ?”

“Okay, sweetie,” Laura said. “It’s okay.”

 

Martin wiped her tears away. She blinked, took deep breaths, and looked into her empty hands for her phone. Her expression switched from confusion to fear.

“Edith,” she said.

“What about Edith?” Martin asked.

Shirley shook her head and groaned. More tears spilled from her eyes. “She’s screaming inside,” she said.

 

Check out the tour:

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Obscura by Joe Hart

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About the author:

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Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota, where he still resides today. He’s been writing horror and thriller fiction since he was nine years old. He is the author of eleven novels and numerous short stories, including the books The River Is Dark, Lineage, and The Last Girl. When he’s not writing, Joe enjoys reading, working out, watching movies with his family, and spending time outdoors.

About the book:

She’s felt it before…the fear of losing control. And it’s happening again.

In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.

Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.

Out May 8th from Thomas & Mercer, click the link below to get your copy:

Obscura by Joe Hart

My thoughts:

After seeing a glowing recommendation for Obscura from Brandon (The Behrg), I bumped Obscura to the top of my TBR and I am so glad that I did. I was hooked immediately, and read it at every available opportunity, including staying up reading late into the night to finish it!!!

Dr. Gillian Ryan is researching a new and terrifying strain of Dementia called Losian’s Disease, and it can affect anyone of any age. Having already lost her husband to Losian’s, when her young daughter begins showing the terrible symptoms, she becomes increasingly desperate to find a cure.

When her funding is cut, Dr. Ryan is given a unique opportunity to travel to a space station, where the crew appear to be exhibiting symptoms of Losian’s. What follows is a nail-biting and extremely tense story. More than once, I found my heart racing a little because Joe Hart has injected this story with dread and menace, and this is amplified when in the complete isolation of space.

Obscura is a very clever novel. It takes the reader on a journey, along with Dr. Ryan, as she tries to find a cure for her daughter she left back on Earth. It is tense, dark, and very suspenseful, and I read a lot of it fearful of turning the page for fear of what would happen!

What I loved most about Obscura is the misdirection that Joe Hart has created. I wasn’t expecting the story to go the way it did, and towards the end I was frantically turning the pages to see what was going to happen.

A terrifying read, but with innately human issues at its core, I loved Obscura. It is thrilling, claustrophobic and really engaging. Not a book I will forget in a hurry!

Highly recommended!

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks

Hi everyone,

Today I’m thrilled to finally (I read this in early December! 🙂 ) be able to share my review for Hydra by Matt Wesolowski with you all as part of the blog tour!

About the author:

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Matt Wesolowski is 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 Feature, 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 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..

About the book:

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Before Scarfell Claw, there was Hydra… One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north-west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the ‘Macleod Massacre’. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

Click the link below to order your copy:

Hydra (Six Stories) by Matt Wesolowski

My thoughts:

I had been waiting patiently for Hydra for what seems like an eternity. It was probably only months, but it felt like forever. Having read Six Stories at the end of 2016 (See! That sounds like AGES ago considering its now 2018!!!), its safe to say I was eager to see where Matt Wesolowski was going to take us after the thrill-ride of Six Stories.

I knew Hydra was going to be dark, but I didn’t realise how unsettling and creepy it would actually be until I settled in to read it. Black-eyed children (not a spoiler, its in the blurb!) haunted me for days after I finished. Children are honestly one of the scariest tools to use in writing for me. And these ones were up there with the worst. I shuddered more times than I could count while reading.

Some background. Arla Macleod massacred her family in 2014. She is being held in a medium security mental health facility, and will speak to nobody except Scott King. As a consequence of this, King finds himself becoming entangled in a very complex and disturbing investigation. As well as Arla, five more people are interviewed for the podcast series, and each interview seems to put a different spin on what King thinks he knew about the massacre.

I don’t want to go into the plot to be honest. I honestly think Matt Wesolowski is one of the finest young writers out there at the moment though. Capturing the horror of the events in Arla’s past, combined with the exquisitely tense interviews, Hydra is just an absolutely brilliant book. It is compelling, genuinely chilling, tense and so utterly relevant to the world as we know it today. It addresses mental health issues, online trolling and the complexities and subtleties of the human condition so perfectly.

I loved it, really loved it. It completely freaked me out. There was so much to keep up with, and just when I thought I had it Matt threw in something else, and those creepy children. I am not able for the power of suggestion!!!

Matt Wesolowski is such a genuine talent and his creativity knows no bounds with Hydra. It is truly a captivating book. Scary at times, but so immensely readable. I can’t heap enough praise on his ability to create menacing narratives that push their way beneath your skin.

Highly, highly recommended.

Previous posts:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

*Blog Tour* Q&A and Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

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Brain Damage by J. A. St. Thomas @jas0603

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About the book:

I open my eyes and I’m close enough to kiss a dead girl.

Three years ago, sixteen year old Desmond Linc almost died in the car accident that killed his brother. Now he’s all but forgotten the damage, a dead space in his brain physicians swore would never awaken.

But it has.

Terrified he’s losing his mind, Des comes face to face with the tortured ghosts of his hometown. The black hole in his head is a doorway to the afterlife and the dead come telling secrets and lies and wielding accusations like scythes.

They tell the truth about one thing though, a killer has come to Northwood

Buy the book:

Brain Damage by J. A. St. Thomas

My thoughts:

I hadn’t heard of Brain Damage until fellow book raver Liz B over at Liz Loves Books reviewed it, and subsequently sang its praises. Naturally, my ears pricked up because Liz and I share quite similar tastes most of the time, so I was intrigued enough to hop over to Netgalley to request a copy to read.

I am SO GLAD, because Brain Damage is one of those hidden gem kinda books. You know the sort, it just slips out under the radar, but if you don’t read it you are missing out! Well that definitely applies to Brain Damage. A genre mash-up, and one that works brilliantly in and outside of the usual parameters expected.

We meet Des, a teen who survived an accident that killed his older brother, Donovan. He is living in the shadow of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and following a party and another knock to his head, he starts to see dead people. It sounds crazy, and he thinks he’s crazy. Not least because TBI can cause hallucinations as one of its after-effects.

This paves the way for the story to become almost like a ghost story, but other things are going on in the plot that also weave in the murder/ mystery element. And the author does this beautifully. I found the writing to be so engaging, and I became a little attached to Des to be honest. I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know why Des was seeing these horrific things, and what their purpose was in his life!

Brain Damage was a really compelling novel. There are a number of YA themes running through this one too. Friendships, cliques, sexuality, relationships, things we all go through in one for or another, and the author tackled them really well.

The visions/ hallucinations are frightening in their description. Creepy and vivid they made me shudder more than once. But its in these moments that we see the strength in Des’s character. The determination to find out whats going on, not just to him, but to those he is seeing. And to take care of those around him.

I raced through Brain Damage in a handful of sittings. I became invested in Des’s character, and I found myself staring at the end of the book wishing it wasn’t over. I want more. I would love to catch up with Des in the aftermath of the events in Brain Damage, even though the ending was nicely done, I think he has more to do!

Clever, emotional, creepy, yet tender at some points, I really enjoyed this one! Thanks to Liz for bringing it to my attention.

Highly recommended!

 

 

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross~ Ellen’s Review

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About the book:

The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace

Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own – and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings.

When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder – and he becomes a likely suspect. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him.

Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem – and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace.

Out on September 25th, click HERE to order your copy!

About the author:

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Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series. In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was a bestseller. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

Ellen’s Review:

If you’re looking for a modern gothic tale you can’t go wrong with this book; a spooky murder mystery set in a quaint American town called Shadow Springs. Jason Crandall (recently widowed) and his children Amber and Brent move into a Victorian house in the town and are soon introduced to its various inhabitants: sweet Dottie Blanchard and her astrologically named cats (all 12 signs!), Travis Delgado with the reputation as the local bully and Tabitha Cooper their blind neighbour who is rumoured to be a witch to name but a few. Then there is Savannah Sturgess, the provocative girlfriend of Jason’s realtor Flynn Garvey. She’s sexy and she knows it!! Savannah has a certain reputation in Shadow Springs and Jason is firmly in her sights as her next conquest.

Things take a paranormal turn when Savannah goes missing and Jason starts experiencing terrifying visions as to what has happened to her. Thanks to these horrific hallucinations Jason is able to help the police with their investigations and the missing persons case soon turns into a hunt for Savannah’s murderer. It transpires that a lot of the town’s occupants had issues with her and solving the case will prove tricky, especially when the sheriff is guarding his own secrets.

I enjoyed this book and really felt for Jason who is suddenly thrust into ghostly happenings as well as trying to hold his family together after the loss of his wife. I would definitely read more from this author.

 

The Damaged by Simon Law

*My thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy*

About the book:

The storm of ’87 had been the greatest, most ferocious storm to have hit Britain in centuries. The suffering that ensued was plentiful, but none more so than that of little Matthew Mason, whose parents were brutally murdered in the midst of the storm by a homeless man desperate to find shelter.

After 25 years of torment, Matthew is released from a mental institute under the watchful eye and care of Tammy Atkins, a care worker with a secret history of alcohol abuse and self-harm.

As Matthew struggles to adapt to his new found liberty, he finds himself continuously plagued by the demons of his past. Haunted by strange and ghastly images and urges, Matthew sets himself upon a path of vengeance; determined to seek out his parents’ killer and put his demons to rest once and for all.

My thoughts: 

I had no idea what to expect when I started The Damaged as I hadn’t looked at the synopsis before I started reading so I essentially went in blind!

The Damaged is part thriller, part horror I think, whether intended or not. Some parts of this book are downright creepy! The main characters, Matthew and Tammy are interesting in their own way! Matthew for more obvious reasons.

I found myself feeling uncomfortable on more than one occasion while reading, and in a way that’s a good thing because it means the book is affecting in some ways. It deals with mental illness, trauma, and inevitably, murder. None of these are easy topics to deal with.

The book flowed reasonably well, with quite an interesting storyline. I think that the reason I didn’t warm to it was that the horror element just didn’t suit me. It’s not usually a genre I tend to read, and when I’m not expecting it I get thrown out of my comfort zone.

I’m sure for horror readers The Damaged is probably quite tame, but for me, it was enough to make me unsettled. However, it was still a good read. One that I would recommend if you like your thrillers on the dark side!

Happy reading!