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.


One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide. 
Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? 

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.”

This was a very strong contender for Book of the Year for me. I devoured this read adoring it all the way.

The whole storyline, setting, scene, plot and characters screamed Breakfast Club

which I just loved and found really easy to relate to. The book was a switch your head off and enjoy read, like watching an easygoing film.

I personally found this a fantastic read and brilliant story and all go from the outset. I have recommended this several times this year and would be interested in reading more from McManus.

Fires – Tom Ward

There’s a fire on the horizon.

For Guy, a fireman, it means the death of his wife and daughter. For 19-year-old Nathan and Alexa it means a chance to fight back against austerity and abandonment.

While the teenagers turn to arson, Guy searches for meaning behind his family’s deaths, battling corruption and a lost underclass, intent on fiery revolution.

For all three, their actions will lead them to the precipice of disaster.

The latest novel by Tom Ward is very different from his previous two. Fires, which is due to be published and available from November 2nd is a dark, gritty and tragic read. Absolutely absorbing, heart wrenching and heroic in a twisted kind of way, from beginning the first sentence I was transported to the dank streets of smoke, grit, rain and fear, deposited within the worlds of both Guy and Nathan as they both pursued their own personal journeys to find the right to correct the wrong and peace in a harsh dying setting that has lost all hope and left to abandonment.

The story begins with Guy, in happier times, we catch a glimpse of his family life, his world outside of the long hours and roaring heat of the fires he manages each day, his agony and hardship he feels at leaving his daughter to yet again attend another lengthy night shift. Three pages in and the story hits the reader with full force as tragedy strikes and Guy finds his whole world turned upside down. Fires tells the story of a devoted father and loving husband on a mission to discover the truth no matter of what the cost.

We are introduced to Nathan very early on. Young adolescent teenager, tired of the same old, tied to a suffocating routine and dead-end living. Looking for that spark of excitement he ventures down the path of no return turning his hand to arson and the addictive glow of burning embers. Nathan wasn’t what I expected him to be, he was a lost soul looking for some affection and an escape from the mundane, regardless of the result.

Ward weaves both stories together, the reader witnessing the challenges of both characters as each run aligned close together, how they cross paths and disperse only to become entangled again. Both characters are as important as each other, both determined, strong and seeking a new outcome, answers to questions and a chance to do the right thing, even if it isn’t the conventional way forward.

My interest in Fires was captured by the journeys of Guy and Nathan, with every other character playing their part as best they could

A captivating read with a satisfying and conclusive ending

Allow Ward to draw you in, feel the flames against your skin but be careful you don’t get too close

Read about these amazing characters and their journeys for finding the right solution. I am delighted to publish the very first review!


Watching Edie – Camila Way

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

I love the works of Camilla Way, I become entranced by the easy way she writes yet her words managing to encapsulate me pulling me into her prose with the emotion that hangs from each word

Watching Edie was just like that, the whole story weaving its way around the reader, gently leading you along the garden path pulling you in the direction of the winding edges and shaded trees, filling in the back story, writing in the way you believe the story should unfold. If only life was ever that simple, the shocker of this story is very much that, A shocker!

The characters are very well thought out, quite different to each other and none without a million layers, reading the story from separate timelines really fuses the story together bringing to life these main characters and filling in the gaps. It is one of those stories that doesn’t really go the way you anticipate but leaves you in awe of the revelations and shocking outcome.

Way is a wonderful author, one of those I know will never disappoint, I really do love her work.