The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

TVS.jpg

About the book:

Fourteen years ago, teenager Ellery Hathaway was victim number seventeen in the grisly murder spree of serial killer Francis Michael Coben. She was the only one who lived.
Now Coben is safely behind bars, and Ellery has a new identity in a sleepy town where bike theft makes the newspapers. But each July for the last three years, locals have been disappearing. Then Ellery receives strange messages hinting that the culprit knows exactly what happened to her all those years ago. When she tries to raise the alarm, no one will listen, and terrified she may be next, Ellery must turn to the one person who might believe her story…

The Vanishing Season by Joanna Schaffhausen

My thoughts:

I read the majority of The Vanishing Season in one day because once I got pulled in to the story I had to keep going to see what was going to happen!

Ellie Hathaway is living under a new identity after surviving a killer when he was younger. Said killer is now behind bars, but Ellie has been getting strange messages, and now people are disappearing from the town she lives in. Nobody will believe her when she tries to tell them, so she takes matters into her own hands and calls in the FBI.

What follows is quite a tense read, packed with plenty of shady characters and a really interesting story. I was thoroughly engaged with this one and I was eager to see if my suspicions were correct or not. The Vanishing Season is definitely a fast-paced and clever crime thriller.

Recommended for sure!

Seven Bridges: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) by LJ Ross

LJR.jpg

About the book:
It’s been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down – this time, for good.

But Ryan’s plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences.

Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan’s team are faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won’t stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it…

Seven Bridges: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 8) by LJ Ross

About the author:

LJ

LJ Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon Kindle UK best sellers chart.

Since then, she has released a further six full-length novels in the DCI Ryan Series, all of which have been top three bestsellers. Cragside, Dark Skies and Seven Bridges (due for release 25 May 2018) were all #1 in the UK on pre-orders alone.

The novels are available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats on the Amazon store, as well as in selected independent bookshops. Holy Island is also available in German translation.

Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years before taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.

Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.

If you would like to connect with LJ Ross, she would be very happy to hear from you:

https://www.facebook.com/LJRossAuthor

http://www.ljrossauthor.com
http://www.lovesuspense.com
lj_ross@outlook.com

My thoughts:

Having read and loved all the previous books in this series, I was thrilled to be able to read Seven Bridges. To be honest, I had been dying to read it as soon as I finished Dark Skies because LJ Ross left us all wanting to know what was going to happen.

In Seven Bridges, we are back with DCI Ryan, Anna and the team as they try to move on with their lives followiNg events in the previous books. Seven Bridges opens with a rather shocking storyline, which I’m not going to go into detail about because of spoilers, but I will say I was NOT expecting it and had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

As well as this, DCI Ryan and his team receive a message from someone threatening to blow up the Tyne Bridge. As they begin a race against time to try and solve the clues, the story moves at breakneck speed. This pacing means that the reader will find it almost impossible to stop reading!

I absolutely raced through Seven Bridges, reading the whole thing in one day. I genuinely couldn’t put it down. LJ Ross has an excellent knack for writing characters that you care about, becoming completely invested in their lives, and Seven Bridges is no different. I read with trepidation at times for fear of what I might read.

This series is so brilliantly-written. It has an engaging cast of characters and never feels stale. With each new book, LJ Ross injects even more life into the team, and the stories are always captivating. It is not a stretch to say this is one of my favourite series out there at the moment, and they get better with every installment.

Seven Bridges is a clever thriller, packed with a cast of characters that welcome you like old friends and an utterly gripping plot. I defy you not to love it! (And probably develop a crush on DCI Ryan, if you haven’t already!) 🙂

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

Holy Island by LJ Ross

Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

Heavenfield by LJ Ross

Angel by LJ Ross

High Force by LJ Ross

Cragside by LJ Ross

Dark Skies by LJ Ross

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:

IMG_1026-2 copy

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:

HYDRA BF COVER.jpg

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

Follow the blog tour:

Hydra blog poster 2018 FINAL.jpg

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

Brain Damage.jpg

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!

 

 

Dreams of A Broken Man by Roger Bray~Ellen’s Review

RB.jpg

About the book:

On a cold, misty night in Eugene, Oregon Hazel Reed disappears from outside her ex-husband’s home. Hazel is stunningly beautiful, intelligent and unfaithful. So when she vanishes without a trace a jealous ex-husband is the natural suspect. Alex says she came to reconcile but, the DA thinks otherwise and Alex is convicted and imprisoned for Hazel’s murder. His sister, Alice, refuses to believe that he is a capable of such an act.
Three years pass and the last appeal fails. Alex is in jail and Alice is desperate and alone; until a chance meeting gives her hope.
As her new friend, Steve, helps her peel away the hidden truths and fragile lies holding the prosecution case together they realise that they are revealing a deeper and more sinister mystery.
Without them knowing, finding out what happened to Hazel has become a race against time.

Click the link below to get your copy:

Dreams of a Broken Man by Roger Bray

About the author (info from author’s website):

rb2.jpg

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Personal fun facts:

I am married with three grown children and one grand daughter. I live with the love of my life, my wife of thirty years and her overly cute cat who, maybe unknowingly but I doubt it, saved my life by, for the one and only time, jumping on my lap and purring his head off when I was at my lowest and the depression almost got me.

I do enjoy hearing from my readers so please, drop me an email.

Ellen’s Review:

This book is quite different to anything I have read this year, the story concentrates on the friends and relatives of Alex who has been imprisoned for the murder of his ex wife Hazel and their quest to clear his name. Alice (Alex’s sister) is convinced of her brother’s innocence and after three years and a further appeal fails she enrols the help of a private investigator Steve to try and ascertain what actually happened that night. Hazel’s body was never found and there are a lot of inconsistencies in the investigation.

 

I liked the developing relationship between Alice and Steve and their persistence in clearing Alex’s name. An interesting story which really captured my imagination. It is difficult to say much more about this book without giving anything away, I’ll simply say that nothing is ever as it seems! Dreams of a Broken Man truly is a tale of hidden truths and fragile lies.

4/5

 

2018 Watchlist: If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch 


About the book:

HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER? Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen. But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go. 

My thoughts:

I know I said I’m taking a break, and I am. But I couldn’t wait to get my thoughts out on If I Die Before I Wake. 

IIDBIW is billed as a psychological mystery, and it is, but it is so much more too. 

When we meet Alex, he’s lying in a hospital bed, with all those around him believing he’s in a coma. Yet he can still hear, and feel, and think for himself. He just can’t move. He is trapped in his own body. 

We see everything from Alex’s perspective, and along with him, we learn that his climbing accident may have been something more sinister. As his visitors come and go, we all learn a little bit more about them all and how they fit into Alex’s life before the fall.

If I Die Before I Wake is a very clever novel. I loved the fact that the main character was male, as it’s not the usual thing in the psychological thriller genre lately. The narrative is brilliantly told, and with each new piece of information gleaned, the tension rises.

I found myself unable to put the book down. So much so that I read almost all of it in one day. Today, in fact. The characterisation is excellent. We learn a little about everyone. Family members, friends, their various experiences. All of this lends itself really well to how I felt about Alex. I was rooting for him from the very beginning. Willing him to move, to talk, to do anything.

I loved how the author built tension throughout the book. More than once I had to remind myself to relax. I was getting so caught up in the story that my body was rigid! It also makes the reader feel a range of emotions for all of those involved too. 

Compulsive, engaging and thoroughly gripping, If I Die Before I Wake is most certainly a book to watch out for in 2018. I can’t wait to see where this author goes next!

Highly recommended!

Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson ~ Translated by Quentin Bates


*Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy*

About the book:

Product Description

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

Published in ebook on September 15th by Orenda Books, you can get your copy by clicking the link below:

Whiteout (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson

About the author:


Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

About the translator:

IMG_0973

Quentin Bates escaped English suburbia as a teenager, jumping at the chance of a gap year working in Iceland. For a variety of reasons, the gap year stretched to become a gap decade, during which time he went native in the north of Iceland, acquiring a new language, a new profession as a seaman and a family before decamping en masse for England. He worked as a truck driver, teacher, netmaker and trawlerman at various times before falling into journalism largely by accident. He has been the technical editor of a nautical magazine for many years, all the while keeping a close eye on his second home in Iceland, before taking a sidestep into writing fiction. He is the author of a series of crime novels set in present-day Iceland (Frozen Out, Cold Steal, Chilled to the Bone, Winterlude, and Cold Comfort), which have been published in the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Finland and Poland. He has translated a great deal of news and technical material into English from Icelandic, as well as one novel (Gudlaugur Arason’s Bowline).

My thoughts:

I have been waiting (im)patiently for Whiteout ever since I finished reading Rupture. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how much of a big fan I am of this series. So you can imagine my absolute glee in getting to read Whiteout before publication 😊

In Whiteout, we are back with Ari Thór and Tómas, both of whom are tasked with investigating the circumstances in which a young woman ends up at the bottom of the cliffs at Kálfshamarvík. Only a couple of days before Christmas, the men must work quickly and effectively to try to find out what has happened and how the woman ended up dead.

Whiteout is a really well-written mystery. With a large cast of characters, it really makes the reader work hard to try to figure things out alongside Ari Thór. I love Ragnar Jónasson’s writing style. There is something almost poetic in the way he describes the Icelandic location. The stunning visual imagery is second to none in terms of creating a clear location in the reader’s mind.

The author has assembled a really interesting cast of characters for this one. There are many of them, all with their own secrets that they are holding close to their chest. I found myself suspecting everyone at one time or another, such is the unreliable nature of the narrative Jónasson has created in Whiteout.

There is a haunting element to Whiteout as well. The cliffs, the lighthouse and the old abandoned house almost seem to become characters as well due to how well the author describes them. This creates a sense of foreboding as the reader gets drawn more into the story. It is quietly chilling and there seems to be a sinister element in the background when they are investigating in and around Kálfshamarvík.

I don’t want to say any more because the joy of reading these books is often found in unravelling the mystery alongside Ari Thór. Whiteout is another superb instalment in the Dark Iceland series. It has left me wanting more, and has also made some questions arise. So Ragnar, if you’re reading this, you and I need to have a bit of a chat 😂

I cannot recommend this series, and this book highly enough. Always atmospheric, often chilling and with plenty to keep the reader turning the pages, Whiteout is definitely a book to add to your TBR. The whole series is though, to be honest. If you haven’t read them, then you really should get on it!

I could keep rattling on about how much I enjoyed Whiteout. And the whole series in general. But I would be here all day, and still not do justice to my fave Icelander and his awesome books.

So yeah, Whiteout is all kinds of brilliant. Great characters, a gripping plot and a hauntingly atmospheric location. Another book added to my all time favourites list.

Highly recommended.

All the stars, always.

#AriThór

 

Previous reviews:

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

Nightblind by Ragnar Jónasson 

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson 

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson