While You Sleep – Stephanie Merritt

A pacy, chilling psychological thriller, set to reinvent the genre.

It begins, they say, with a woman screaming…

On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.

For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: night-time intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched.

The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand, and all-too-real – but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?

This was such a powerful story and one that was so different from the norm

While You Sleep was my first introduction to Stephanie Merritt and I had not read any of her work under her pseudonym S J Parris.  I was not disappointed and would be very interested in seeing what Merritt writes next.

With so many psychological thrillers on the market and those similar in style and theme, it is becoming harder the stand out from the rest. Merritt manages to do just that by combining a haunting ghost story with emotional charge and a heavy dash of erotica, which work well to create a very atmospheric tale, steeped in history, folklore and believable plotline.

The story is not all it seems with darker things at play

A ghost story and tale of old soaked into the skin of the people from the desolate island leaving the reader questioning characters motives, whereabouts and intentions as we read through the pages.

The characters are strong and very well-developed, many with secrets, those running from hardship and the ones who are the backbone of the story itself.

A bold tale from a very imaginative writer, a gripping story and a pacy chilling read

Prepare to feel spooked and open your mind to what lies beyond the first sentence.

Remember it begins, they say, with a woman screaming…


Night Film – Marisha Pessl

Brilliant, haunting, breathtakingly suspenseful, Night Film is a superb literary thriller by the New York Times bestselling author of the blockbuster debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

On a damp October night, the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. By all appearances her death is a suicide – but investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. Though much has been written about the dark and unsettling films of Ashley’s father, Stanislas Cordova, very little is known about the man himself. As McGrath pieces together the mystery of Ashley’s death, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the dark underbelly of New York City and the twisted world of Stanislas Cordova, and he begins to wonder – is he the next victim?

In this novel, the dazzlingly inventive writer Marisha Pessl offers a breathtaking mystery that will hold you in suspense until the last page is turned

~want something different? – this one is a MUST read~

Night Film by Marisha Pessl had been sat on my TBR pile for I would say at least 12 months before I decided to read it, I had heard really good things about it, the interaction aspect of the book, a special app and a community in awe of such talented prose. This was the first time I had been introduced to Pessl’s work.

I was not disappointed, Night Film opened up a whole new set of senses for me which were completely dominated by Ashley Cordova, who haunted page after page of this colossal read. Like Scott McGrath the main character in the novel, I couldn’t get enough of Ashley.

Ashley was the focus of this gripping intense tale, for she was the key to all conclusion, but how? and why? what was so enigmatic about her in the first place? Why did she draw people in? was she magical?, did she possess dark powers? or was she just an everyday girl riding on the mystery that surrounded her secretive father Stanislas Cordova. The questions kept coming loud and clear and in discovering one answer only unlocked a series of new questions.

I accompanied McGrath on every step of his journey sticking with him through the turbulent times, those so dark he had to question his own sanity

NIght Film is really a truly different read, like none other I have read before or can use as a comparison. A novel that took root and grew within me as the hours ticked by. For a short period of my life when the nights were closing in and the weather was descending into the hills all I could think about was the treacherous journey McGrath had stumbled upon with the vice grip of not allowing him to leave.

Reading the Night Film was lie watching a cinematic film on-screen The granular detail outstanding, the suspense heart stopping and the fear it instilled was incredible

I read Night Film on kindle, this didn’t differ any from reading in physical form, it worked just as well and although, at times, I wasn’t always able to get the interactive app working (on my phone alongside reading the novel) it did not hinder me in any way, almost adding a bonus to reading with the novel but not at all imperative to be used whilst reading.

This is the story of three key characters, finding yourself and understanding your boundaries. A very unique read and worth investing the time into. I gave this 5 stars and can proudly say it was my best read for 2017. I can’t wait for the release of the new novel, Neverworld Wake, and have promptly added Pessl’s debut, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, to my reading pile.

This novel is a work of art. no mistaking, no questioning. A work of art.

The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open!

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical.

~Do you remember when you believed in magic?~

I have no idea how to begin my review, I have thought about this all day, how do you capture all the beauty caught between the pages of The Toymakers within a few paragraphs? How can I write about the wonderment, enchantment and Magic without revealing any spoilers? Easily, I will tell you how the book made me feel. I read The Toymakers purely after reading another blogger’s review, there was no talk of the story which made me want to read it all the more. I wanted to be enlightened.

As discussed in my latest #Bookchat post I mentioned my love of magic themed books, those that spin a fairytale around my consciousness and drag me deep into the world created by the pen of talented minds and, after reading a few in my 38 years, sadly there are very few that hit the mark. The Toymakers, however, will reside in memory palace for the rest of my days.

This is a book of such a tale that you feel you have lived a thousand years by the final sentence.

Emotionally drained was an understatement for I sat in public spaces with tear filled eyes and a constant large lump obstructing my throat as I tried to keep myself contained reminding myself I was only reading a story after all, this wasn’t my reality and didn’t affect me. Not that my reasoning with myself did any good you must understand I was far too involved with the characters and invested too much time for them not to be flickering on the edge of my thoughts when I was going about my daily (real) life.

The Toymakers was a deeply layered novel, stitched together by time and the complexity of characters, a tale of other worlds, harrowing times, hardship and despair but foremost strong unconditional love, rich deep detail and emotive writing to hold your attention, cover you in goosebumps and a really thought provoking read. This was a story of a journey a new world adventure.

I often found myself speed reading, I was impatient for the next step of the journey

I want you to read this book because you want to feel the magic, experience the elation and join the journey yourself.

I don’t want to tell you about the characters, I want you to discover them yourself

If you are chasing a heart warming story you will find it here, not without the darker times, which adds so much depth the the tale. If you want an investment into complex characters, expressive language, and remnisient writing pushing the boundaries of your imagination then this should be the next book on your pile. (just ensure you have a handy pack of tissues with you at all times)

You have to want to believe, to enjoy The Toymakers, it is a beautiful nostalgic read that rekindles childhood pastimes and play.

This story shares the solidarity behind joining forces and making the best of what you have and even when you feel wrung out and don’t want to read another word I beg of you to continue because the story is not final until the very last full stop.

I resurfaced into my reality emotionally drained yet satisfied, I had been on such a journey and had the pleasure of Robert Dinsdales company, I salute such a talented author and anticipate more of his work.

The imagination of Robert Dinsdale is outstanding and should be celebrated. Enjoy your journey into the Emporium.

The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

~ The Comb ~ The Bone ~ The Feather ~

If you want something a little kooky, off the wall and thought-provoking then The Hazel Wood is the one for you. The modern world of today and the gritty edgy world of Hinterland merge together to form a matter of fact fairytale with a plucky yet stubborn heroine and her super fan of a sidekick.

Alice is a fantastic character that lives by her own rules, follows her own path and creates her own destiny. Her mother is her only true constant in her life, one filled with travel, restlessness and bad karma. The bond between mother and daughter is the strength throughout the entire story.

The Hazel Wood was a coming of age novel from a completely new perspective

Alice was searching for herself, discovering the very meaning of her existence and at the same time trying to trust her eccentric companion Finch when she is not too sure if she would rather go it alone. The companions make a good team, and as readers, we witness the relationship flourish and the friendship grow.

Finch was a strong character for me, although evidently this was the story of Alice I found Finch played a large part in her journey, he was her grounding and support she needed when she had no idea she needed it. His personality was warm and easy-going with an interest in Alice that was heartwarming. His superfan persona was an asset to the friendship and his knowledge valuable, yet there were those moments when he appeared to be in awe of Alice, HInterland and the magic behind it all which led me to question his motives.

I enjoyed the darker edge given to the tales written by Althea, just as fairy tales were originally made to be

Relishing in the way the stories flickered in the shadows and capturing the atmospheric suspense  as we watched Alice on her journey of discovery trying to rewrite herself as she knew it rescuing her missing mother in the mix, and just maybe meeting the ‘dead’ grandmother.

If you are a fan of A R Kahler you will really enjoy this one. Not as fanciful as I anticipated it to be but a great read nonetheless.


The House – Simon Lelic

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

Instantly I was hooked into the story of Jack and Syd. I loved the way as a couple they narrated their way through the story, so individually told allowing the reader to witness their personalities and character traits defining each of their stories and displaying just how different from each other they were.

This tale is told in stages, flitting back and forth between people, situations, the present and the past, slowly building the full story piece by piece, drip feeding to the reader creating intrigue and suspense.

First we are introduced to Jack, the character who was bold of heart, a great character with the sole aim to be needed, the fixer and the pleaser. Jack was emotional yet genuine. A sturdy and solid character and the Protector, for the woman he adored, his woman.

Sydney’s character is portrayed as more frantic and chaotic with quite a volatile personality, as we soon learn. Jack is her anchor on normality, a new life and a whole fresh start.

I read in disbelief as Sydney shared slight glimpses of her history, writing and relaying the trauma behind the younger years of her life.

These passages  were uncomfortable to read with me struggling to fathom why a parent could or would even contemplate being so cruel.

The fear that followed Sydney around was harrowing and relentless with Lelic’s astute writing emotionally binding the reader to Sydney’s journey, the relationship now formed between reader and character it was hard to not feel her fear. This very same relationship manifested between Sydney and Elsie, the young teenager so akin to Sydney who so isolated wanted the protection took it into her own hands to begin a tragic set of events that would affect them all.

The House very quickly became the backdrop for something far more sinister at play.

The setting was the stage for the performance, the beginning, the interval and the final scene. All the characters were simple props in the story entering  on cue all leading to the finale. Once the curtain closed, and only then, did we as the reader question exactly what had happened and most importantly why.

This was the first introduction to Simon Lelic. I really enjoyed the fast paced novel and would certainly enjoy reading more of his work. This earns a 4 Stars from me and I would recommend to others.

The Mistake I Made – Paula Daly

We all think we know who we are.

What we’re capable of.

Roz is a single mother, a physiotherapist, a sister, a friend. She’s also desperate.

Her business has gone under, she’s crippled by debt and she’s just had to explain to her son why someone’s taken all their furniture away.

But now a stranger has made her an offer. For one night with her, he’ll pay enough to bring her back from the edge.

Let me ask you this – would you make the same mistake as Roz Toovey?

The Mistake I Made was my introduction into the world of Paula Daly, after reading the first couple of pages I knew I was in for a winning read, the style being so easy reading and flowing.

Roz Toovey is the main character of the story, yes, she was the one who made the mistake and she narrates the novel to the reader. I enjoyed the way she presented herself, realistically, normal and believable. Roz was an everyday person trying and desperately failing to make ends meet.

When you really hit rock bottom do you honestly know what you would agree to? desperation and destitution can distract from the reality of what is perceived to be right and wrong and Roz was right in the thick of things. Scott came along as an opportunity for a way out, a release if you will with an ‘easy’ solution that would make life easier for Roz and her Son. Roz would have done whatever it took for the happiness of her Son. Her life was extremely hard and with a disgruntled and worried young child about the become harder being given an opportunity for an escape route was a silver lining.

Scott Elias, wealthy, powerful, and very married is another strong character in the story but not necessarily a nice one. He was not really my cup of tea and portrayed as the ‘man who always gets what he wants’ character, selfish, spoilt, spiteful and peevish. He plays his part very well, until things do not go as he wants them too, this is when we see his ‘other’ side.  His character is written very well and again believable.

As I was nearing the end of the story it hit me with full force what was happening and why

That moment of ‘oh god can it really be’ and ‘it really was’ which although my instinct was correct this didn’t ruin the story just added another layer of tension and disgust.

I found myself reading faster and faster over the last two chapters willing the characters to behave how I wanted, wishing the story to take a sideways shift I didn’t want to read the inevitable, I didn’t want that end result and luckily I wasn’t disappointed.

I closed the book with a cheesy smile across my face

I gave The Mistake I Made 5 stars because it caught my attention, was written in a very realistic way with wholesome characters and an unpredictable ending.

I would recommend the work of Paula Daly and would most certainly read another of her novels

For an easy read and an absorbing, switch your head off style of book I suggest you give this one a try.



The Snowman – Jo Nesbo

Internationally acclaimed crime writer Jo Nesbø’s antihero police investigator, Harry Hole, is back: in a bone-chilling thriller that will take Hole to the brink of insanity.

Oslo in November. The first snow of the season has fallen. A boy named Jonas wakes in the night to find his mother gone. Out his window, in the cold moonlight, he sees the snowman that inexplicably appeared in the yard earlier in the day. Around its neck is his mother’s pink scarf.

Hole suspects a link between a menacing letter he’s received and the disappearance of Jonas’s mother—and of perhaps a dozen other women, all of whom went missing on the day of a first snowfall. As his investigation deepens, something else emerges: he is becoming a pawn in an increasingly terrifying game whose rules are devised—and constantly revised—by the killer.

Fiercely suspenseful, its characters brilliantly realized, its atmosphere permeated with evil, The Snowman is the electrifying work of one of the best crime writers of our time.

This was the very first time I had been introduced to Nesbø, where I had been the last so many years to have missed these I don’t know –  oh my god  this book!

Reading Nesbo gave me the bug for revisiting the nostalgia of reading book after book by all those well-known authors, in the days when kindles didn’t exist and every weekend I would consume one story after another. I have been on the hunt for more works by Nesbø ever since!

The detail and depth of this book the links that tie everything bringing the connections together are fantastic. Clearly articulated and  thoroughly developed.

I loved the characters, a strong performance by all, with Harry Hole at centre stage, he, for me, stole the show. Not the most moral of characters, with a history and a dark past yet this added to his appeal, perfectly written for the starring role.
With so many revelations, twists and turns Snowman kept me hooked, riveted and perched right on the edge of my seat.
A large, meaty novel which I would highly recommend, a superb starting book to be introduced to such fine work.