Alone by Cyn Balog: Spotlight Tour, Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to my spot on the Alone blog tour

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About the Book

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Publication date:  November 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA, Horror

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

Sometimes I dream I am drowning.

Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.

And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.

I’m in my bed at the top of Bug House. The murky daylight casts dull prisms from my snow globes onto the attic floor. My mom started collecting those pretty winter scenes for me when I was a baby. I gaze at them, lined neatly on the shelf in front of my window. My first order of business every day is hoping they’ll give me a trace of the joy they did when I was a kid.

But either they don’t work that way anymore, or I don’t.

Who am I kidding? It’s definitely me.

I’m insane. Batshit. Nuttier than a fruitcake. Of course, that’s not an official diagnosis. The official word from Dr. Batton, whose swank Copley Square office I visited only once when I was ten, was that I was bright and intelligent and a wonderful young person. He said it’s normal for kids to have imaginary playmates.

But it gets a little sketchy when that young person grows up, and her imaginary friend decides to move in and make himself comfortable.

Not that anyone knows about that. No, these days, I’m good about keeping up appearances.

My second order of business each day is hoping that he won’t leak into my head. That maybe I can go back to being a normal sixteen–year–old girl.

But he always comes.

He’s a part of me, after all. And he’s been coming more and more, invading my thoughts. Of course I’m here, stupid.

Sawyer. His voice in my mind is so loud that it drowns out the moaning and creaking of the walls around me.

Seda, honey?” my mother calls cheerily. She shifts her weight on the bottom step, making the house creak more. “Up and at ’em, buckaroo!”

I force my brother’s taunts away and call down the spiral staircase, “I am up.” My short temper is because of him, but it ends up directed at her.

She doesn’t notice though. My mother has only one mood now: ecstatically happy. She says it’s the air up here, which always has her taking big, deep, monster breaths as if she’s trying to inhale the entire world into her lungs. But maybe it’s because this is her element; after all, she made a profession out of her love for all things horror. Or maybe she really is better off without my dad, as she always claims she is.

I hear her whistling “My Darlin’ Clementine” as her slippered feet happily scuffle off toward the kitchen. I put on the first clothing I find in my drawer—-sweatpants and my mom’s old Boston College sweatshirt—-then scrape my hair into a ponytail on the top of my head as I look around the room. Mannequin body parts and other macabre props are stored up here. It’s been my bedroom for only a month. I slept in the nursery with the A and Z twins when we first got here because they were afraid of ghosts and our creepy old house. But maybe they—-like Mom—-are getting used to this place?

The thought makes me shudder. I like my attic room because of the privacy. Plus, it’s the only room that isn’t ice cold, since all the heat rises up to me. But I don’t like much else about this old prison of a mansion.

One of the props, Silly Sally, is sitting in the rocker by the door as I leave. She’d be perfect for the ladies’ department at Macy’s if it weren’t for the gaping chest wound in her frilly pink blouse. “I hate you,” I tell her, batting at the other mannequin body parts descending from the rafters like some odd canopy. She smiles as if the feeling is mutual. I give her a kick on the way out.

Despite the morbid stories about this place, I don’t ever worry about ghosts. After all, I have Sawyer, and he is worse.

As I climb down the stairs, listening to the kids chattering in the nursery, I notice the money, accompanied by a slip of paper, on the banister’s square newel post. The car keys sit atop the pile. Before I can ask, Mom calls, “I need you to go to the store for us. OK, Seda, my little kumquat?”

I blink, startled, and it’s not because of the stupid nickname. I don’t have a license, just a learner’s permit. My mom had me driving all over the place when we first came here, but that was back then. Back when this was a simple two–week jaunt to get an old house she’d inherited ready for sale. There wasn’t another car in sight, so she figured, why not? She’s all about giving us kids experiences, about making sure we aren’t slaves to our iPhones, like so many of my friends back home. My mother’s always marching to her own drummer, general consensus be damned, usually to my horror. But back then, I had that thrilling, invincible, first–days–of–summer–vacation feeling that made anything seemed possible. Too bad that was short lived.

We’ve been nestled at Bug House like hermits for months. Well, that’s not totally true. Mom has made weekly trips down the mountain, alone, to get the mail and a gallon of milk and make phone calls to civilization. We were supposed to go back to Boston before school started, but that time came and went, and there’s no way we’re getting off this mountain before the first snow.

Snow.

I peer out the window. The first dainty flakes are falling from the sky.

Snow. Oh God. Snow.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I’m a huge fan of YA Horror , as regular readers will already know, and I wish there was more of it. So when a new one comes along it makes me happy. And Alone wasn’t a disappointment.

The success of Alone for me was all about the creepy old hotel that had been used as murder mystery venue. It provided such a perfect setting, with lots of red herrings. There were also lots of twists and turns, and I definitely didn’t see a few of them coming.

I wasn’t completely won over by Seda, the protagonist (and less so by her mother!) but it didn’t bother me as much as it has done in the past. I was still invested in the story, and although I never quite trusted her as a character, I still wanted Seda to come out of it alive!

Alone also struck me as a story that would make a great teen horror film. I don’t often think that when reading because I enjoy the medium of novels so much (obviously), but I couldn’t help but picture it as a horror movie on this occasion.

Overall, Alone is a fast-paced, compelling read which I couldn’t put down. There were some great twists and unique elements, and now all I want to do is go on a murder mystery weekend. Maybe not one quite so realistic though…

 

Meet the Author

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Cyn Balog is the author of a number of young adult novels. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at http://www.cynbalog.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

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This Week in Books 15.11.17 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now: Heir of Locksley ~ N.B Dixon

I’m still reading this LGBT Robin Hood retelling, but I’m almost done. I’m enjoying it a lot, I’ve just been in more of a TV mood lately.

Then: Alone ~ Cyn Balog

The last book I finished was really great. My review (which is part of the blog tour) will be up tomorrow.

Next: ???

I’m still not sure, but probably something Christmassy as I’m getting into the spirit already.

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments or leave your link.

Apart from this weekly post and any outstanding reviews, I’m taking the rest of the month off. Happy reading, Everyone!

 

This Week in Books 08.11.17 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week…

Now: Heir of Locksley ~ N.B Dixon

I was sent this by the publisher and I’m very pleased so far, loving it! Gay Robin Hood – Yes!

Robin of Locksley is a rebel, more comfortable roaming Sherwood Forest with his longbow and courting the village girls than learning how to run a manor.

An innocent flirtation with a peasant girl soon lands Robin in trouble, and worse, he finds himself inexplicably attracted to Will Scathelock, his best friend since childhood. Robin must decide whether to follow the rules of society or his own conscience.

Meanwhile, his neighbour, Guy of Gisborne, is anxious to get his hands on the Locksley estate and he will do anything to make it happen—even murder.

Then: Alone ~ Cyn Balog

This book was great! I’ll be part of the blog tour early next week so will post my review then.

Next: ???

I honestly don’t know, but probably something Christmassy as I’m getting into the spirit already.

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments or leave your link.

Apart from this post and any outstanding reviews, I’m taking the rest of the month off. Happy reading, Everyone!

Having a wee resty!

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Hey guys, after the madness that was Horror October, I’m taking a little break until the end of November(ish).

I’m hoping to use that time to refresh, read anything I feel like, and although I’m not officially taking part in NaNo this year, I’m also hoping to do a bit of writing. Wish me luck.

I’m still going to post This Week in Books on Wednesdays and have one blog tour to honor, but other than that I will catch up with you all in December!

Be good  😉

Lipsy x

Flash Fiction Battle: And the winner is… #HO17 #HappyHalloween

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Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

The results are in!

I would just like to say thank you to everyone who voted and to Stephen, Sean, Justin and Gabino, the amazing writers who took part for nothing other than bragging rights! You are all winners. In a sense. But not really…

So without further ado,

In 4th place, with his story Holding On was Sean Seebach

In 3rd place, with his story In That Sleep of Death was Stephen Kozeniewski

Coming in 2nd was Gabino Iglesias with Puppets

And in 1st place….

….that leaves Justin Bienvenue with The Master of Cemeteries!

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It was so close! There was only one vote between the winner and the runner up!

Huge congratulations to Justin, who I now crown the King of Horror. Well, Horror October at least!

If you enjoyed these stories, please go check out the authors and buy their books! Sadly, that is it for another Horror October!
Don’t forget, horror isn’t just for October…

 

 

 

30 Days of Horror: #29 & #30 #30daysofhorror

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

Wow, I made it. I had a few set backs and had to double-up on posts a few times (like today), but I made it! I have spotlighted 30 books, for 30 days of horror.

My first pick for today (day 29) is a book that isn’t out until February. I hope it’s as good as it sounds.

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Available in hardback & digital, 384 pages

Published February 20th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends

 

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

 

Goodreads // Not My Review

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Will you be adding this one to your TBR too?

My second, and final choice for day 30 is one of my favourite books (that I own). And I can’t think of a better way to end this challenge. It is of course, The King of Gothic Horror himself, Edgar Allan Poe! I really need to review this book, I’ve only just realised that I didn’t! Good excuse to pick it up again if you ask me.

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Available in Hardcove,  208 pages

Published November 15th 2014 by Rockport Publishers

Rockport Books revisit the classics in a new series lushly illustrated by some of today’s most endearing and sought-after artists. These aren’t your typical classics–our artists reinterpret these stories and create a stunning presentation unlike any you’ve ever seen. Book enthusiasts and artisans will want to collect the entire series.

Renowned artist David Plunkert takes readers on a dark journey into the gothic stories of Edgar Allan Poe, through his luscious imagery. These stories take on a whole new meaning when accompanied by Plunkert’s mystical, and sometimes spooky interpretations.

With this edition of the Classics Reimagined series, you’ll think classics boring, nevermore!

 Goodreads // Not My Review

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Well that’s a wrap on my 30 days of horror. I hope you’ve discovered some new books, and perhaps been reminded of some creepy classics.

Flash Fiction Battle: Last chance to vote! #HO17 #ffb17

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Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

You have just two hours left to have your say and vote for your favourite frightening flash fiction story! Who is your King of Horror?


Voting closes at 7pm, London time.

Horror October: I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist #BookReview #HO17

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Title: I Am Behind You
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Series: Platserna #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by riverrun
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Review

 

I’ve had a hit and miss (but mostly miss), relationship with Lindqvist so far to be honest, but I loved the sound of this book. And I’m pleased to report that this has been my favourite of his so far!

I Am Behind You, is hands down one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, and thus a perfect read for a dark October evening.

It’s about a myriad of different families who wake up in their holiday caravans to find that the caravan park is gone. They’ve been moved, or have they? There is nothing around, and when they drive, they don’t get anywhere. The ground is strange and smells like blood.

Not only that, but there are these white human-like creatures stalking around. Before long, the families realise that they all see these creatures as different things; a tiger, a salesman, John Wayne characters… what does it all mean?

And then it starts to rain acid.

Out of all of the Lindqvist books I’ve read, I Am Behind You was definitely the most readable. I don’t know whether the translation was just better this time, but the pages flew by. I was totally submerged in this strange, creepy place and had to keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

But here lies the problem. We don’t get to the bottom of it, of anything really. Which was really frustrating. There’s only so many crazy things that can happen without even an iota of an explanation before you stop caring. But read on I did!

Apparently this is the first in a series, so maybe it will be addressed in the next book, but I wish he would have given us something more concrete as to what the hell was going on, you know!?

The star of the show were the characters for me. Each of the families bring something different, and alarming to the story. A few of them are loveable, but mainly they’re all troubled in some way, especially Molly, the token creepy child who was once left in a tunnel and has never been the same since.

I hate to liken every horror writer to Stephen King, but parts of this really did remind me of him and his great characterisation. If you liked Under the Dome, I think you’d enjoy this too.

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Don’t forget to vote in the Flash Fiction Battle!

Voting ends at 19:00 tonight.

30 Days of Horror: #27 & #28 #30daysofhorror #HO17

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Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

So yes, I failed to keep up with this once again, but that means you get two picks for the price of one today and tomorrow.

My first pick for day 27 is a non-fiction book that I’ve only recently come across. It’s like everything I love about trashy horror in one book!

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Available in paperback & digital, 256 pages

Published September 19th 2017 by Quirk Books

 

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare.

Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate!

Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles.

You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

 

Goodreads // Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Read this? What did you think?

My second choice for today is a book that I really enjoyed. It was much better than the film, but it was still worth a watch.

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Available in all formats incl. audio, 460 pages

Published June 19th 2014 by Orbit

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman.

 Goodreads // My Review

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Don’t forget to vote in the flash fiction battle!

You can catch up on all four stories here.

 

Horror October: Week #4 Wrap-up! #HO17

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The end is nigh, horror fans! And I can’t lie, I’m slightly relieved. It’s been a blast, but busy, oh so busy!

Anyway, in case you missed anything last week, here is a handy summary of all the goings-on.

Horror October Week 4

30 Days of Horror:

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Day #22 & #23: Relics & Angel of Vengeance

Day #24: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Day #25: The Hollow Girl

Day #26: Doctor Sleep

Top Ten Tuesday: Weird horror book titles

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This Week in Books 25.10.17

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Flash Fiction Battle

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Entry #3: In That Sleep of Death by Stephen Kozeniewski

Entry #4: Puppets by Gabino Iglesias

Vote for Your Winner Now!

Guest Post: Paperback Lost by PG Bloodhouse

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Lazy Saturday Review: Under My Skin by Juno Dawson

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Still to Come:

I crown the winner of the Flash Fiction Battle!

Don’t forget to vote for your favourite!