Today’s book review post features a book I very gratefully received from Orion Books in October last year. I took part in a promotional competition by sharing a post on Twitter about the upcoming release and I was chosen to get an early access copy of the book via Netgalley! I have to say before I go further that my review is an honest one.
I did actually start reading this at the end of that month whilst on holiday, but it has taken a while to catch up with all my reviews to get my thoughts to you all. No doubt my Netgalley rating will look a little healthier after I share this with them. I’m not a big Netgalley user, but it does come in handy for blog tours and such.
Some of you may know Stephen Chbosky for another popular book he has written – The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I haven’t read this myself, so this was my first experience of his writing. As the genres of these two books are so different, I don’t think it matters whether you have read this, or any of his other books, or not.
Imagine… Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she’s just as scared as you.
Imagine… Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you.
Imagine… Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened.
Imagine… Something that will change everything… And having to save everyone you love.
When the promotional email I received for the book likened Imaginary Friend to Stephen King’s IT, I had very high expectations of the complexity and creepiness of this thriller novel. Glad to say those expectations were met entirely, but what I didn’t expect was the length of it! Granted, IT is an exceptionally long novel at 1,396 pages. Still, Imaginary Friend weighs in at just over 700 pages. Compared to other horror/thriller novels I’ve picked up, it’s EPIC! There were some sections of narrative that were stickier than others to read. Could it be shorter? Perhaps. That said though, I do think it all adds up to the overall ending, so it’s not wasteful content. It’s relevance just isn’t known at the time.
The content of the book is sinister enough, but what gave me the chills more was the protagonist subject to the horror and paranormal goings-on is a child. It made me question what was going on; could it be nothing more than Christopher’s vivid imagination, or was it real? I can’t say this novel gave me nightmares because I’m not really affected that way when it comes to horror. I know it to be fiction and so it doesn’t bother me that way. Judging from other reviews though, not everyone can say the same!
As can be expected with such an epic, there are a lot of characters that play their part in this story. Whilst Christopher and his immediate family are probably the most developed throughout, there is still plenty of time put into the ‘minor’ or ‘supporting’ characters. The detail that went into establishing each of the characters and their relations with others to build the whole dynamic of the town is astounding. I feel like I know everyone like I’ve lived amongst them myself! I absolutely had my favourites – Ambrose, special shout out to you. I invested heavily with the characters, and knowing the plot is heading towards a cataclysmic event spurs you on to find out what happens!
There may be some readers that don’t like some of the religious undercurrents towards the end of the story. I’m quite happy to put out there that I’m not religious at all, but I didn’t mind its inclusion or influence on the plot at all. I personally think it made it more interesting.
Have you read Imaginary Friend? What did you make of the book?
Today’s book review post features a science-fiction/thriller/horror novel that I gratefully received from the author in exchange for an honest review. The synopsis is really intriguing and very unlike anything I have ever picked up before. These Are Not the Trinity Papers is a real mix of genres, so even my best guess about what to expect from the synopsis was blown out the window… in a good way!
Isaac Beringer knows the thesis he penned during his psychotic fit was utterly absurd and he was right to be laughed out of academia. Yet decades later, he finds himself summoned to the United States by Elias Cohen, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar technological giant who just happens to be his biggest fan. Elias may be beautiful and brilliant, but Isaac knows he must also be extremely batty to consider Isaac’s thesis the greatest scientific work of the 21st century. He soon finds out how deep the rabbit hole goes; a rabbit hole that houses a sprawling neural network of servers designed to emulate human learning, human corpses 3D-printed with flesh and blood, and a monumental amount of effort to resurrect one particular person from the dead. And Elias isn’t even his only fan.
Isaac might have shaken off his insanity, but unfortunately, the world around him has just fallen in love with it.
Isaac Beringer lives a reasonably quiet and comfortable life on his farm with his wife. He doesn’t remember much about his psychotic episode all those years ago but frankly, he is happy to forget about the whole damn thing. Other people have different ideas though. Isaac and his ideas have acquired an intense following and there are several parties interested in a piece of his madness. Yet some are willing to go further than others to get it…
I really enjoyed the futuristic world-building of the novel. The technology is more advanced but the world itself is very familiar and not-too-distant to what we know. In my opinion, there is the right balance of technological advancement; Isaac and Elias’ work fits in with the current climate as a feasible possibility but isn’t so far along that the reader becomes alienated from the setting of the book.
Isaac has lived without the technological frills the world at large is used to; his way of life is very much like our own now. As a character, he is very affable and relatable. Elias is at the other end of the spectrum, with every kind of technology at his fingertips. Elias introduces Isaac to a whole new way of living and lifts him out of his monotonous life. His position lends his character a degree of arrogance initially, but as the book progresses we see more of the man behind the billion-dollar company and more about his personal ambitions and motivations.
Those that like LGBT representations in books will enjoy a particular character relationship in this book. It’s a little unusual given the age difference between the characters as well. But at the same time, it felt completely natural. It isn’t forced in any way. Their situation draws them together and it feels right. You know sometimes how LGBT representation is championed as normal (which it is), but then hyped up so much that it stands out like a sore thumb? Yeah, me too. It’s so contradictory it bugs me. However, if you want to read a narrative where this isn’t the case, I’m pointing you in the right direction. I’ve seen the LGBT relationship in this book described as understated, but I don’t agree with that. I’d say other LGBT relationships are overstated… but that’s just my opinion.
I really enjoyed the blend of genres that came together in this novel. They complement each other really well! I had no idea where this whirlwind of a story was going to end up and I was surprised constantly by what happened next! I really didn’t expect some of the elements of the book, so it definitely has the capability to surprise most readers.
The Mentor is a chilling thriller novel that blends seamlessly into the horror genre. It’s not a book for the fainthearted, that’s for sure! It explores a sinister side of obsession and the consequences of depravity.
Today’s review is part for the ongoing blog tour with Blackthorn Book Tours. It’s my first time working with them, so a huge thank you for organising the tour and for providing me with a copy of The Mentor in exchange for an honest review.
Kyle Broder has achieved his lifelong dream and is an editor at a major publishing house.
When Kyle is contacted by his favorite college professor, William Lansing, Kyle couldn’t be happier. Kyle has his mentor over for dinner to catch up and introduce him to his girlfriend, Jamie, and the three have a great time. When William mentions that he’s been writing a novel, Kyle is overjoyed. He would love to read the opus his mentor has toiled over.
Until the novel turns out to be not only horribly written, but the most depraved story Kyle has read.
After Kyle politely rejects the novel, William becomes obsessed, causing trouble between Kyle and Jamie, threatening Kyle’s career, and even his life. As Kyle delves into more of this psychopath’s work, it begins to resemble a cold case from his college town, when a girl went missing. William’s work is looking increasingly like a true crime confession.
Lee Matthew Goldberg’s The Mentor is a twisty, nail-biting thriller that explores how the love of words can lead to a deadly obsession with the fate of all those connected and hanging in the balance.
If you like dark thriller or mystery novels then The Mentor is a book I would recommend, provided you won’t be put off by gory descriptions. Describing the book as a twisty, nail-biting thriller is every inch the truth. I really liked the concept of the novel within this novel. Kyle recognises the book is reminiscent of a missing person case years ago. The girl who disappeared was Kyle’s girlfriend. As events unravel we can only discover what may be the truth behind the case as Kyle reads the manuscript. Effectively, Lee Matthew Goldberg cleverly interweaves the two plotlines together and in my opinion, was pulled off really well.
The Mentor boasts an eclectic range of characters. From intense personalities like William and Kyle to naive Sierra and hot-head Jaime, there’s a complete range present. Each character is portrayed believably; their character traits and mannerisms fit together perfectly to form whole, distinct identities. Even for the likes of Kyle and William, who I suggest are more alike than they would like to admit, have their own distinct voice.
The plot is so cleverly written especially in unravelling the truth of the crime William’s depraved book centres obsessively on. Knowing that both William and Kyle have obsessive personalities and a hand in the events that took place all those years ago, I started to question the truth. Can we trust our narrator? That’s a question I found myself asking and it added a whole new layer to the reading experience.
The ending is what earns the book it’s rating from me. Some of the build-up takes a little bit of time to set up, but the ending unfolded rapidly and unexpectedly! I couldn’t put the book down and read the last quarter in one sitting!
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.
Happy Friday everyone and welcome to my First Lines Friday post! I love writing these and either sampling the beginnings of books still to be read or re-reading old ones! Today’s featured book is one that is currently on my TBR, or to be read list. Given the science-fiction theme I have been sticking to lately, I figured to share the opening lines of another book from the same genre!
Can you guess what it is?
I love Thursday nights. They have a feel to them that’s outside of time.
It’s our tradition, just the three of us – family night.
My son, Charlie, is sitting at the table, drawing on a sketch pad. He’s almost fifteen. The kid grew two inches over summer, and he’s as tall as I am now.
I turn away from the onion I’m julienning, ask, “Can I see?”
He holds up the pad, shows me a mountain range that looks like something on another planet.
I say, “Love that. Just for fun?”
“Class project. Due tomorrow.”
“Then get back to it, Mr Last Minute.”
Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.
Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.
It starts with a man in a mask kidnapping him at gunpoint, for reasons Jason can’t begin to fathom—what would anyone want with an ordinary physics professor?—and grows even more terrifying from there, as Jason’s abductor injects him with some unknown drug and watches while he loses consciousness.
When Jason awakes, he’s in a lab, strapped to a gurney—and a man he’s never seen before is cheerily telling him “welcome back!”
Jason soon learns that in this world he’s woken up to, his house is not his house. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born.
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Hi guys and welcome back to another book review post! Today I am sharing my thoughts with you about The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor. I actually read this at the end of July this year, so I had to pull my copy out to refresh myself on some of the details.
I have plenty to say though about this read, so shall we jump into my review?
In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.
In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.
That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.
First and foremost, how does this book only have 3.7 stars on Goodreads?! I demand to know because EVERY SINGLE blogger review I have read has raved about this book. And I get that too, I loved it! I think it’s a fantastic read! That I read this from cover to cover in three days is a testament to that fact. I’m pretty sure I had a good go at enthusiastically ranting about it to my parents too.
C . J. Tudor does a brilliant job of drawing you into the book from the very beginning. The dramatic events in the prologue and an accident at the fair in 1986 occur within the first 20 pages. From there, the story unravels in two timelines; continuing on from the fair in 1986 and the second thirty years on in 2016.
I really enjoy dual-timeline structured narratives. When written well, as The Chalk Man is, they interweave and spur you on to read the next chapter, and the next to see what more you can uncover. It also serves well to keep the narrative fresh. It works as a second perspective, even when you are using the same pool of characters to tell the story. I did not want to put this book down. I was captivated by the story and the unnerving events that haunt Eddie, Fat Gav, Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky from their childhood.
The re-emergence of the chalk men after thirty years is a mystery begging to be solved, especially when the murders begin. It’s a race against time to find the killer. The conclusion of the novel is brilliant and was totally unexpected! I have a bit of a gripe with thriller novels that claim I won’t see the epic plot twist. If you tell me that, I’m going to expect one! Half the fun is trying to follow the clues and make your own mind up without knowing ANYTHING about the ending. If I try to deduce the killer and I‘m wrong, or come up short, then even better! You know you succeeded in your plot twist. The Chalk Man makes no such claim so I had no idea what to expect!
The Chalk Man is definitely up there in my top reads of the year. I’ll be recommending it to anyone in the market for horror/thriller/mystery book recommendations!
If you haven’t read it already, seriously, please do! If you have, tell me what you thought of the book! I would love to hear from you!!
Good morning readers! I hope you are having a thrilling day?
This post is my second book review and blog tour post of the week – today, I am featuring To Snare a Witch by Jay Raven. I read and reviewed a series of short stories also written by Jay Raven, called Game of Crones, earlier this year. Whereas Game of Crones is a collection of short stories, To Snare a Witch is more of a novella. At about 80 pages long, I found it to be a really easy read to get into and finish quickly.
Would you like to find out more?
To Snare A Witch: Book One – Bell, Book and Candle
A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.
What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
I’m not in the habit of reading short stories or novellas, but I have really enjoyed reading those by Jay Raven. To Snare a Witch is a novella as opposed to a short story, giving you ample time to invest in the characters whilst still keeping things short and fresh.
I read this book practically in one sitting at the beginning of the month. The Gothic nature of this tale makes it very appropriate reading for the season, as it is the eve of Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa locally) today. The themes of the dark arts and witchcraft and their history in society are all incorporated into this sinister tale of blackmail. The horror element of the tale stems from the atrocious behaviour some are willing to go to in order to manipulate others to their desires.
This book definitely has adult themes, without going into too much detail. I wasn’t perturbed by it. In fact, I went into this with a very open mind and without really knowing how this tale was going to unravel. I was definitely surprised by some of the developments (in a good way!), which kept me on my toes and wondering what was going to happen next. This was far from a fairy tale or predictable read, which I really enjoyed!
Jay Raven has written and co-authored a number of books and having read Game of Crones and To Snare A Witch, I’ll definitely be reading more of his work in future!
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.
If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at www.jayraven.co.uk
Hello spooky friends! It’s time to share this month’s reading list – and it’s a bumper one! I am going on holiday with my lovely sister a little later this month and I’m crossing my fingers for lovely sunshine and some R&R – reading and relaxation time!
A combination of blog tours and a few reads of my own choice to check off the list make for a busy month. In order to keep up with this list, I am looking at having to read an average of 59 pages a day. Combine this with taking part in Blogtober, and you’ll see that I don’t like to make my life easy!
It’s a good job I like a challenge right? Are you ready to check out the books on this month’s TBR?
Hallowed Ground: The Mystery of the African Fairy Circles – Paul Twivy
This magical story is inspired by the most haunting and least explored country in the world – Namibia – with its foggy Skeleton Coast, buried goldmines, shocking secrets and awe-inspiring sand dunes.
Spread across the face of its deserts are hundreds of miles of ‘fairy circles’ : vast enough to be seen from space. They grow and die with the same lifespan as humans, yet no-one has been able to explain why or how they appear.
Then one day, three teenagers and their families arrive from different parts of the globe. Helped by bushmen, the buried possessions of a Victorian explorer, and a golden leopard, they solve the mystery of the African Circles. What will be discovered beneath the hallowed ground? And how will it change the future of the planet above it?
My blog tour post isn’t until the end of the month, but I am prioritising reading these books first.
The synopsis is both unusual and intriguing for this book; it’s what drew my attention to it. The blog tour has been extended too, so it has grabbed a lot of bloggers attention. The book also has some sci-fi elements to it, so I can’t wait to see how this ties into the book!
To Snare a Witch: Book 1 – Bell, Book and Candle – Jay Raven
A chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge.
No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.
But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty, intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe. What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust at any cost and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.
And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…
I am reading this novella for a blog tour as well, one day after Hallowed Ground. The end of the month is packed with reviews – four in four days!
At 85 pages, this one is comparatively short so I can probably read it in one sitting. I really enjoyed reading Game of Crones, also by Jay Raven earlier this year. The writing style of Game of Crones suited me really well and I devoured it quickly. I trust I will be able to read To Snare a Witch in good time too.
If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?
When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House.
Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves.
Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?
I have the pleasure of reviewing this mystical, arcane novel on none other than Halloween (or Hop Tu Naa here). It feels very appropriate to be reading books with spooky and sinister goings-on this month. How could I refuse this blog tour spot?
RAVAGED BY WAR …AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she’s too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran’s feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda’s father. When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes.
If I want a rest after Blogtober then I have to go a few days longer before I can get it! After Whorl Bran Reborn is my last blog tour read of the month, with a tour date of 1st November. I recently read the first book in the series, The Beltane Choice. I enjoyed reading about a completely new period in British history. This book picks up after the events of the first book and I cannot wait to see how the story progresses.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
I first took an interest in Greek Mythology earlier this year, reading Mythos by Stephen Fry. There are a lot of good reviews of Circe, and it won a Goodreads Choice award last year. I bought a physical copy of the book earlier this year and I am taking this on holiday with me. Given the choice, I like a mix of e-books and physical ones – it’s not so large that it’ll compromise my luggage space.
Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
I bought my copy of Daughter of Smoke and Bone at the same time as Circe. Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn’t describe myself as a champion of YA literature; I don’t read all that much of it, but I adored these! Based on my love of those, it was a no-brainer decision to try her other books. This also isn’t too large, so it’s coming away with me!
We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.
Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.
At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.
Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.
Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.
I won a Netgalley download of Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. Given the nature of the book, it’s appropriate to wrap up with this book for Hop Tu Naa. Doesn’t it sound really creepy?! It reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary with the whole small town and sinister forest vibe. I loved that book. I wonder how it will compare.
So, seven books… I think that’s got to be one of the longest reading lists I have set for myself. Have you read any of these books? What spooky reads are you reading this autumn?
Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for Simon Says by Jo Wesley! I have absolutely loved this book and I’ve been eager to share my thoughts with you all! Well, today is the day my friends!
Her life may not be perfect but she’s happy. Until she makes a terrible decision – and learns the hard way that home is not a place of refuge.
Not while Simon lurks in every shadow.
He groomed her as a teen: terrorised her into fleeing, leaving her baby behind. Now the man who destroyed her childhood has become the perfect father to her teenage daughter. And her return threatens his future.
A desperate man is a dangerous one.
Simon says she must leave or suffer the consequences. She refuses.
Now it’s his move. Because it’s not enough to face your demons.
As soon as I finished reading this book I rated it the second-best I have read this year. Out of just over 50 books, that’s no mean feat. My regular readers will know just how much of a fan I am of Margaret Atwood and I have been raving about getting and reading The Testaments. It is probably THE THING I have been looking forward to the most this year. I picked up my copy of The Testaments on the 10th September, fully expecting to set all other books aside to devour it. But I couldn’t. I had to know how the story and events of Simon Says panned out. I consciously CHOSE to keep reading this magnificent psychological thriller. Let me tell you why.
You know in your gut what happened to this poor girl from the very beginning… why she was forced away from her home and her family to start again. Cindy, aka Karis is very much down on her luck. After surviving a close shave with death, she takes her children to the only other place she knows – her old family home. Back where it all happened, Cindy is forced to face her demons, the neighbours, and Simon.
The narrative is split in two; half the chapters narrate the story of Cindy as a fourteen year old girl and the other half in present day. Each timeline unfolds in a way that spurs you on to read the next chapter to find out what happens next. It is horrifying to watch Simon manipulate Cindy by buying her trust, pushing the boundaries further and further until he does the unthinkable. It’s awful and disgusting to know what happened to her… but you can’t help reading more. Thankfully, we are spared some details of the event, but we know exactly how it made Cindy feel once she realised what had happened later on.
What is more harrowing is that this happens to people, anyone, but especially children. When families don’t believe (or don’t want to believe) the truth then the victim suffers all the more. This book takes you on a real rollercoaster ride of emotions – upset, anger, pity and a lust for vengeance and justice on Cindy’s behalf.
I was captivated from start to finish. You would hope that very few people could ever have been in Cindy’s position and lived through the abuse and torment she has. That said, she is completely relatable as a woman. The trauma she has experienced in her life hasn’t affected her so much that it serves to alienate her. If anything, it has empowered her. Over ten years have passed since the fateful event, but becoming a mother has brought out a strength in her that she didn’t have back then – the desire to protect her own children from the man that ruined her life.
I cannot stress enough just how fantastic this book is! It’s on my list of books to re-read and I’ll definitely read more books by Jo Wesley. I hate that the subject matter of the book is even a thing, but it is handled so well. I love the book!
SIMON SAYS isn’t my first thriller. Several unpublished novels went before it, but there was something about this story that made me come back to it time-and-time again. Although it was written in 2015, recently a few author friends encouraged me to publish it as they remembered reading it years before.
I used to work in an office where the wider team comprised people working with drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and general community safety. I wrote SIMON SAYS during this period and my team provided information and advice. Also, the Red Watch team at the local fire station read my first chapter during their tea break and advised on a couple of points to make it more accurate (I thought it would be one person, not the whole team reading it!).
Currently, I am completing a novel in another genre but I really enjoy writing thrillers, so I am planning my next one.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.
The thing I enjoy the most about blogging and reading blogs is book recommendations. Whether giving them myself or getting them by reading reviews online, it’s fun. I’m always looking to increase my reading repertoire. I hadn’t ventured into reading horror books until I started my blog and up until that point, I have missed out on enjoying a wide range of authors!
Today I am taking the opportunity to give YOU some book recommendations, but if you have any for me based on my list, then I would love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!
I’m going to keep this list short and snappy so you can scan through if you want. Where I have reviewed a book on the list, I’ll provide a link to my review in the title. That way you can choose whether you wish to read it or not. I mean OBVIOUSLY, you do… but hey, I want all the views I can get haha!
I would only recommend this for fans of fantasy who aren’t intimidated by larger books and complex plot lines. Isn’t that a given? I think the largest books I read are typically part of the fantasy genre. There are a couple of notable exceptions though. It’s worth the time though – this is by far my favourite series of all time and I will recommend this book again and again until I am blue in the face.
This was the first horror I read of Stephen King’s. It wasn’t the first of his books I read – that accolade goes to The Green Mile. This was the first in the horror genre though. Since then I have gone on to read IT and listen to The Stand and add many other books to the list.
The Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett
What is great about the Discworld series is that it doesn’t matter how many of these you read. You could read them all if you want to, (a feat I am slowly creeping towards), or you could just pick up one to enjoy. The stories are all largely independent of each other and so you’re not committed to a mass reading expedition trying these. They have characters, places and comical themes in common, but they stand alone too. I have read too many of these books to link here, and some before my blogging days. Please search on my blog if you’re interested.
As with A Game of Thrones, this is another epic read worth the investment. I have only read the first book so far, but the fact that I am willing to recommend the series based on that should say it all…
If this book doesn’t make you ball your eyes out … ahem, upset, then you are not human. I was introduced to the film many years ago but due to the nature of the topics concerned, I hadn’t really watched it in full. The book is even more profound than the film and it is one I will re-visit again and again.
The Last Kingdom (series) – Bernard Cornwell
This is a recommendation for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction. Again, it’s tricky to link the reviews. I love the characters and the narrative is so well written… these books are easy to get lost in. I have read the first three books of the series so far in addition to having watched the first two seasons of the TV adaptation. Muppet here has only JUST realised that Season 3 was released in November last year, but only on Netflix. I’ll have to buy the DVD for it. Next month…
Raven’s Mark series – Ed McDonald
Another fantasy series I know, but wow! I love Ryhalt and his sassiness; I relate to his sarcastic outlook, I really do. Ryhalt is almost a bit of an anti-hero – the kind of guy that does what he does to save his own skin MOST of the time. There is a glimmer of humanity in there somewhere though. We need to see more of these characters in books. Let’s face it, not many people are as altruistic as book heroes are!
This book makes it to the list for the comedy factor. It has a blend of fantasy in there too, but my favourite part by far is how it handled the, erm… saucy bits. As a general rule, I don’t like books that go into that much detail in THAT regard. I find it cringe-worthy. So was this one in its own way, but that somehow made it funnier? I couldn’t have “read” this in the traditional way. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a fabulous job. It made the story.
Strange the Dreamer (series) – Laini Taylor
I recommend this duology for anyone who enjoys magic, YA style. I’m not a huge reader of YA on the whole, but I really enjoyed these. Sometimes I can find the characters immature, but the storyline behind them “finding themselves” after their world is turned upside down both makes sense and drives the plot nicely. There’s a little bit of a romance which is kind of cute. Again, I’m not really a HUGE fan generally but it isn’t overplayed.
I want to recommend this historical fiction book to anyone who loves this genre because I did NOT see the plot twist in this one coming. Not only is the character engaging, but we are able to sympathise with her predicament. The level of detail is fantastic and I was blown away by the ending!
I’ve tried to vary up my recommendations based on different genres, although Fantasy does prevail a little here! Have you read any of these books?
The first time I read Frankenstein, I absolutely hated it.
Reading the book was part of the school curriculum for my class, and my fourteen-year-old-self did not appreciate it at all.
In hindsight, I attribute that to the particular teacher I had. Teachers, you do a fabulous, grueling and hard-working job. Most of you are very good at what you do and I wouldn’t be the same person if not for your influence. This one though… she has to be the most unpleasant teacher I have ever had.
Anyway, no need for more of that negativity here. It is a regular occurrence though; all the books I read for school, I didn’t like…. almost. I think the only exceptions are Stone Cold by Robert Swindells (there’s a story for THAT teacher too) and Of Mice and Men – eventually. I didn’t take to it straightaway, but came to love it by the time we had finished studying it.
Books should be read and appreciated without being analysed to death, okay? If ANYONE thinks that’s fun, they need their head read.
Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.
I was inspired to pick this book up again after watching an event held during the Manx Litfest. A re-telling of Frankenstein was performed by Ben Haggarty and Sianed Jones – and an excellent performance it was! So much so, I picked up the book as soon as I got home.
Regardless of how much you read into the story – it is an enjoyable one. That everyone knows of Frankenstein’s monster and the basic story speaks volumes about the success of this book. I enjoyed reading it this time around, unlike my first experience with this book. If you haven’t read the book before, then I really must insist you do! If there is a bucket list of books, this ought to be on it!
Some of the ideas brought to the table are philosophically sophisticated, which is astounding considering Mary Shelley was so young when she wrote this book! I can’t say I walked away from the book debating the nature of life and science, but hey, you can if you want to. I guess this is what makes the book a favourite for school curriculum’s… if not students!
I’ll admit attending the re-telling made the book more approachable. Ban Haggarty narrated the story in a way that everyone can understand. The book itself, due to its age and (the style of literature at the time), is grammatically more complex than modern text. I did struggle with this a little at times, particularly once I had been reading for a while. Frequent breaks helped me get over this though, so it isn’t a huge stumbling block.
I definitely appreciate the book now I am older and reading it for my own enjoyment. Studying books is just soul crushing… okay? Why do we force kids to do it?! Whether I enjoyed studying the **** out of this book or not, there is plenty of food for thought.
What book blogger wouldn’t proclaim themselves an avid reader?
If found without a book in hand, send for medical aid!
My name is Rebecca; welcome to my humble little blog.