#HorrorOctober: The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, 360 pages
Publication Details: October 16th 2013 by Severed Press
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain.

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown.

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of…THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.

Review

This is not your average zombie pulp! The Ghoul Archipelago is a breath of fresh air to people like me who are pretty sick of zombies.

Martigan is the captain of a freighter sailing through the South Pacific in a post-apocalyptic world caused by zombies, where the mainland is all but taken over. Martigan and his crew are fighting a losing battle between ghouls, pirates and a whole host of bizarre characters vying to take control of the islands.

There’s Sonntag the ex-prison priest, a businessman who has developed a sex-dream machine, a presidential politician, and the captain, all at the forefront of this bloody, bizarre, battle which I mostly enjoyed but came away feeling a bit ‘huhhhhhh?’

I felt like there were too many characters and too many story-lines going on at once – it was pretty confusing at first, but once I got into the POV changes it got easier. I also felt like the pacing was off in places, making it seem a lot longer than its 360 pages.

But that being said, I can’t fault Kozeniewski’s vision. It has some great moments of pure horror and thrilling action, making it one hell of a ride, even if I had no idea where I was being taken.

Kozeniewski has a way of sucking you in; his writing is effortless and intriguing, mixing gory grossness with his trademark wit. He put me on the ship and it was sink or swim! I think I just about found my sea legs by the end of it….

unicorn rating 3

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2015 ‘Horror Tag’ Book Reviews (so far) #HorrorOctober

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You know guys, Horror is not just for October, so I thought I would post all the reviews I’ve written so far this year that I included in the ‘Horror’ tag. I kind of thought I’d need to do it in at least two parts but on further inspection I realised just how few horror books I actually read this year (excluding my Horror October picks). Shame on me!

Anyway, as we slide head first into the final few days of October, here are the horror books I’ve reviewed so far this year.

Get Ready to Shudder: Frozen Charlotte

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Author: Alex Bell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: January 5th 2015 by Stripes Publishing
Genre(s): Horror; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

We’re waiting for you to come and play….Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

Review

This book actually gave me nightmares (well, it gave me one – it was pretty awesome).

For starters, creepy-ass miniture porcelain dolls with their hands outstretched like they died reaching for you. Dolls that are everywhere, even in the walls. Dolls that whisper. Dolls with needles… But more about them later…I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the purpose of context, I’m a huge horror fan, especially as far as films are concerned, and I’m constantly disappointed that I never find any of them scary any more. I must be desensitised or something. To a certain extent, it’s the same for books, but I do find it easier to get creeped out by a good horror book than a film…and oh my, this book creeped me the hell out, so major props for that!

And it wasn’t just the creep-factor that was good about this book, I literally could not put it down. I was sneakily reading it at work and stayed up wayyy past my bed time to finish it off!

Frozen Charlotte is centred around Sophie and the events which follow her best friend Jay’s sudden death (it’s right at the beginning so hardly a spoiler). Jay downloaded a Ouiji Board app on his phone and he and Sophie play around with it, mocking it, like you do. But when Sophie calls on the only person she knows who has passed away – her cousin Rebecca – things go a bit weird to say the least.

To cut a long (not that long to be fair) story short, the app tells Jay he will die that very night…and of course, he actually does. Cue devastated Sophie trying to make sense of it all through the grief. And what better place to go than to an old converted schoolhouse on the blustering and foggy Isle of Skye.

It is her Uncle James’ home, and the whole family are clearly still suffering the loss of Rebecca. Everything about the place is wrong. From a parrot called Dark Tom who literally screams bloody murder all night long and young Lilias who has a phobia of bones (even her own), who once tried to cut out her collar bone, to Cameron, the musical protégé who got burned during the death of his sister and has never been the same again, and Piper who is trying to hold the whole thing together but is strangely obsessed with the Frozen Charlotte dolls.

I really wish I’d read this book for Horror October instead of Doll Bones. This was exactly the thing I was looking for. It was so good, and so creepy, at one point I had to put it down because I was shuddering so much internally. I couldn’t keep away for long though, I HAD to find out what the hell was going on!

The only tiny grumble I had with it, was that I couldn’t decide how old the characters were. It seemed inconsistent a lot of the time. Sometimes they seemed older than they should be, and then I’d get thrown by talk of first kisses and such, and visa versa. In the same way I couldn’t decide if Frozen Charlotte was aimed at the YA market or just had young characters. But you know what, who cares! It was great!

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 26/01/2015

The Girl With all the Gifts

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Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: June 19th 2014 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase

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 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. The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Review

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Girl with all the Gifts has everything. It’s a great mixture of classic horror, modern dystopia and fast-paced thriller.

I was worried that I’d ruined my experience of it having already read reviews and knowing what the ‘twist’ was, but I don’t think it hindered it at all. Plus, said twist is revealed pretty early on, so it’s not such a huge spoiler.

I was completely engrossed in Melanie’s story, and thought she was a great protagonist. In the beginning I felt sorry for her, being locked up, and the way her and the other children were treated. I think M.R Carey did a great job of bringing Melanie to life as a regular (albeit genius) child, and gradually revealing to the reader, and to Melanie herself that she is in fact a monster – a zombie to be exact.

The use of the school-room setting, Melanie’s genius-like intelligence and her love of stories enables the reader to see her as child first, and a zombie second, making it almost impossible not to root for her the whole way through.

I thought the relationship between her and teacher was kind of creepy at first, as I’m sure was supposed to be point, but they ended up being a great duo.

There were a few moments when I found myself losing interest, but I was quickly pulled back into this action-packed, rollercoaster of a ride. It’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read, and felt fresh and thought-provoking.

Having just started working in a prison, I read this book on another level too. The Girl With all the Gifts raised a lot of questions about imprisonment and human rights. I felt like it proposed many questions about incarceration, rehabilitation, having the mental strength to fight against your inner nature, and being able to embrace your future and let go of the past.

It was a really surprising read, one that I think would make a great book club selection.

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 11/05/2015

Twisted Dark, Volume 1

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Author: Neil Gibson
Series: Twisted Dark #1
Edition: Digital, 196 pages
Publication Details: April 24th 2012 by T Publications
Genre(s): Graphic Novel; Horror
Disclosure? I downloaded a copy for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads // Purchase

The first volume in Neil Gibson’s acclaimed series of twisted tales contains 12 individual and unique stories which are all related. The stories vary from 10 year old girls to Colombian drug lords and everything in between. It is left to the reader to find the connections between the stories – some connections are immediately clear whilst other connection only become clear in later volumes. This series is designed for re-reading. The author describes the genre as psychological thriller, but the books contains horror, dark (at times demented) stories incorporating every human emotion, illegal activity, and brutal reality. Using various illustrators allows each story and character to develop their own form. Twisted Dark has been embraced by the comic book world receiving critical acclaim and a cult following. If you haven’t read one yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Review


Oh what can I say about this one!?

I was really intrigued by the idea of this as I’m a horror fan and enjoy some pretty twisted shiz on occassion. LOL. But I just wasn’t feeling it unfortunately.

Twisted Dark contains short stories which all have a dark, twisted reveal at the end, and link together in some way. I thought this was a great idea, and liked the look of the artwork, but it didn’t quite pull it off for me.

I think my main problem with it was that it was trying too hard to be shocking, but it just wasn’t. I think maybe I’m just not the target audience. I can imagine that had I read this when I was 15 and all ‘I hate the world, and everyone in it’ then I would have probably loved it. But, without being in that frame of mind, this just seemed a little…lame.

It also didn’t help that the digital version I had wasn’t great quality and the illustrations were a bit blurry, and the text was quite hard to read sometimes. I tried to look past this, and maybe I would have liked it a little better if the artwork was more appealing, but I still doubt I would have loved it.

I’m glad I gave it a go though, and would recommend it to a younger audience who have more patience than me and will reread it to find all the hidden connections – something I just couldn’t be bothered to do I’m afraid.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 23/05/2015

The Curse of Crow Hollow

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Author: Billy Coffey
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 414 pages
Publication Details: August 4th 2015 by Thomas Nelson
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse.

Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

Review

I finished this book last week and I’m still not quite sure what I think about it. What I am sure about though, is that Billy Coffey is a talented writer.

Crow Hollow is a small southern town with a secretive, tumultuous past. When a group of teenagers celebrate a birthday in the mountain’s mines, they disturb the equilibrium between the town and the resident weirdo, old Alvaretta Graves.

The younger generation in Crow Hollow grew up swapping fanciful stories about Alvaretta ‘the witch’, but most of them think it’s just small-town superstition… little do they know that their parents know a lot more about the mysterious Alvaretta than they could ever imagine.

I can’t even go into what I liked and disliked about this book without first saying just how much Coffey’s style reminded me of Stephen King. It was uncanny, and actually really distracting because that’s all I could think about the whole way through!

The Curse of Crow Hollow is narrated by a local who is introducing an out-of-towner to Crow Hollow and the events that recently occurred – it was very Needful Things, but worked well.

I loved how a very simple plot of ‘teens partying goes wrong’ becomes something much more complex. There’s superstition, politics, secrets and confessions, and Coffey brings it all together with some great scary moments and well executed spooky atmosphere throughout.

I also really liked the mystery surrounding the parents and what they ‘did’ to Alvaretta in the past. It was interesting to see their reactions when you find out that their children are basically being punished (in some pretty horrible ways) for something they did – it reminded me of A Nightmare on Elm Street a little bit.

The other King-esque trait was the abundance of characters, but unfortunately this is what let it down for me. I didn’t feel the vast amount of characters were developed enough, and I never really cared about any of them individually, which considering what happens to them, is pretty bad, and my interest really waned because of that.

Despite not loving the characterisation (or the whole Christianity thang going on), I really enjoyed Coffey’s style. It made for a really intriguing, atmospheric read, and I’d certainly like to see more from him.

unicorn rating 3

Originally posted 10/08/2015

Beneath the Lake

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Author: Christopher Ransom
Series: N/A
Edition: Kindle, 449 pages
Publication Details: September 10th 2015 by Sphere
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Thirty Years Ago: On a camping trip by a remote lake, the Mercer family enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime – until a violent tragedy forced them to make a decision that would haunt them for ever.

This Summer: When the younger Mercers learn their father is dying, the family reunites at the lake, seeking a second chance to put their lives back together. But something is waiting . . .
Four Days of Hell: Also arriving at the lake are estranged son Raymond Mercer and an alluring stranger, Megan, both ignorant of the family’s secrets. Within hours, they are all trapped in a relentless nightmare and fighting for their lives. Some places are better left. Some secrets are better forgotten. Some people are better dead.

Review

Oh, I wanted to like this so much…but it was a bit of a let down. I really liked Ransom’s debut The Birthing House, but I’ve tried a few of his other books and they haven’t had the same impact on me…(that was one creep-ass read). Unfortunately, Beneath the Lake was a similar story for me.

It started off so well! The opening was full of unexplained, extremely bizarre happenings which urged me to read on. Then we are catapulted 30 years ahead without knowing what actually happened that day at the lake- but knowing it was something terrible- and now the estranged Mercer family are planning a reunion there.

It all sounds good right? Well, it was for a while, but intrigue turned to boredom somewhere in the middle and I found it a struggle to get to the end. It just fizzled out for me I’m afraid.

I thought this had an interesting plot, but it peaked too soon, giving way to bad pacing. It did succeed in keeping me guessing for a while, and I did detect a constant uneasiness, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 15/09/2015

This Week in Books 28.10.15 #HorrorOctober

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone, and welcome to the last Horror October edition of TWIB, this year!

Here’s what I got up to…

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Now: An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman // Behind Closed Doors ~ Elizabeth Haynes

I’m really enjoying An English Ghost Story. It’s not at all what I expected, but loving it so far. I haven’t got as far as I’d have liked on the Haynes book, but I’m sure it’s going to be good as well.

Then:

Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn ~ Harris Gray // The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

Both of these had their ups and downs, but I still enjoyed them. My Vampire Vic 2 review is here, and The Ghoul Archipelago one will be up shortly.

Next: ???

My Horror October reads pushed some ARCs back so I’ll be returning to them. The Winter Place is first up!

That’s it for this week, what did you get up to?

If you still do a similar WWW post (or just want to join in, leave your link/answers in the comments, OR why not tweet using #TWIB, and I’ll come and visit.

First Look: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz #HorrorOctober

I can not wait for this book. It sounds twisted and sinister…something that needs to be done more in the YA market if you ask me.

And not only that, but I did a bit of fangirling when I realised that in the past the authors wrote episodes of ROSWELL together. YES, THAT ROSWELL (I will never be ashamed of my love for that show)! Ahhh this has to be good right? RIGHT?

Roll on January!

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Sanctuary Bay

Authors: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Editions: Hardback, Kindle/e-book, 320 pages
Publication Details: Expected January 19th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre(s): YA; Thriller; Mystery; Horror

Goodreads // Netgalley // Amazon PRE-ORDER

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this twisted YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.​

About the Authors

Laura J. Burns has written more than thirty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets. (Those two things have more in common than you’d think.)

With Melinda Metz, she has also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE.

You can pre-order your copy now!

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If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Haunted House Books #HorrorOctober

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is a Halloween themed freebie — our choice. I’ve chosen the theme of haunted houses!

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Read any of these? What would have made your list?

#HorrorOctober 2015: Week 3 Round-Up

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Wow, we’re in the final week of Horror October already! Where ever does the time go?

Anyway, here’s everything you may have missed from week three!

Horror October Week 3: 16th – 22nd (Click on the images to view the post)

Horror Films That Still Scare Me #2

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Review: Seize the Night

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Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister

Murder on the Orient Express

This Week in Books

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Review: Vampire Vic

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Great Posts from the around Blogosphere

If you’d like a link adding to next week’s round-up, email it to me on lipsyylostnfound-AT-gmail-DOT-COM-

Review: Vampire Vic 2, Morbius Reborn #HorrorOctober

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Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn by Harris Gray

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, 257 pages
Publication Details: September 15th 2015 by Harris Gray
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Vampires walk among us. Appraising our houses, policing our neighborhoods, crossing our borders. We understand there will be biting and an occasional conversion. These are small sacrifices for the sexy thrill. We do worry about vampires popping up in positions of power. They are evolved, difficult to slay, not as sexy. A backlash grows; but are we far too late?

Victor Thetherson is nearly cured. The treatment buries the charisma and confidence that only vampirism seems able to resurrect, and snuffs his rekindled love affair with ex-wife Barbara. Victor can’t trust himself as a vampire and doesn’t want to live with himself otherwise.

Eugene Foreman dispenses wisdom on his Sage Slayer site, offs vamps when convenient, and romances Victor and Barbara’s daughter, Amberly. His sensei, the Civil War Soldier, begs Eugene to slay Victor before he realizes his deadly inheritance.

Victor versus Eugene, round two in an ancient war. With Morbius Reborn, our time at the top of the food chain is coming to an end.

Review

Before we begin, if you missed my review of the first book in this series, you can check it out here. But if you’re too lazy to do that, I’ll just tell you briefly that I really enjoyed the witty, light-hearted nature of it in comparison to most Vamp Lit out there.

Morbius Reborn starts off pretty much where the first book left us. Victor has finally become a respectable vampire. One that bites people, gets the ladies at ‘Hello’, and has not only survived his company’s merger, but has excelled during it.

He is a new man compared to the pathetic, middle-aged mess he was at the start of the first book. However, Vic is starting to get a little bit too good at the whole vampire thing and he can’t stop biting people.

This leads to Vic having treatment for his vampirism, which not only threatens to turn him back into the weak, wobbly, mess he once was, but at the same time Eugene the Vampire Hunter is being pressurised to slay Vic, and it makes no difference at all to Eugene if Vic is trying to get better or not…

I wish I could say that I loved this book as much as the first, but I can’t. I found it really hard to get into this one.

One of the best things about the first book was how realistic it was. Sure Vic is a vampire, but it’s set in a very real world of an average work/life cycle. Morbius Reborn however felt like a bit of a leap away – it had somehow lost that realness (starting with the whole Extreme Revamp thing)!

I was really pleased to see Eugene get more of a part in this one though, and I thought it was a genius idea to have him date Vic’s daughter.

All in all, I still enjoyed this book but not as much as the first. It had its moments, but I found it a bit muddled and very slow to start. I’ll definitely still give the next one a bash though, I believe it’s going to be a trilogy.

unicorn rating 3

Thanks to Harris Gray and Sami at Roger Charlie for the opportunity to review these books!

Review: Vampire Vic by Harris Gray #HorrorOctober

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Vampire Vic by Harris Gray

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, Audio
Publication Details: March 4th 2013 by Harrisgray, 344 pages
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Would you give up donuts…for blood?

Fat, balding accountant Victor Thetherson hoped becoming a vampire would turn his life around. But Victor can’t stomach confrontation and gets queasy at the sight of blood. Instead he gets it from the blood bank, diluted in bloody Bloody Marys. The result: a vampire who doesn’t bite, and a man who gets no respect.

Victor’s slacking staff mockingly calls him Vampire Vic. Victor’s boss amuses his wife by intimidating Victor on video. His ex makes him stay out late while she entertains boyfriends in the house she insists they continue to share. One night it finally boils over, and Victor bites someone. And then another…and very soon, he’s no longer visiting the blood bank.

Muscle replaces fat, and his comb-forward widow’s peak takes root. Victor basks in newfound attention and respect, at the office and at home. But real vampires get hunted, and as the transformation reaches the tipping point, Victor must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the power of the vampire.

Review

Victor Thetherson is the worst vampire there ever was. He hasn’t embraced his new existence and spends his days being walked all over by pretty much everyone he knows, just like he did when he was a human.

He still lives with his ex-wife who hates him, his employees are either too stupid, or simply unwilling to do any of the work he requires, and he can’t stomach the thought of drinking someone’s blood.

But even a vampire can only take so much, and eventually Victor snaps – well, bites – actually, and not only does Vic’s first success as a functioning vampire earn him some much needed respect but he also starts to notice other very welcome changes, and a couple not so welcome like his very own vampire hunter…

From reading the synopsis, Vampire Vic was everything I expected and more!

I thought it had a witty, refreshing premise in a world of regurgitated clone-like vampire stories, and it completely delivered on that front. It was so nice to read a different take on a vampire story.

Harris & Gray’s world is a modern one (although it totally screamed 80s to me?) in which vampires exist and are known, but not all that common. Nobody really knows how vampirism is passed on, or even if it means immortality or not.

One of the main things I liked about this world was how realistic it was, bordering on mundane in fact, which is where much of the humour came from.

I really loved Vic as a character too, he was surprisingly complex. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be friends with him, but I liked that he was that guy at work who everyone sees as a bit pathetic. You know, the work-a-holic type who you can never imagine having a life and then BAM! he grows some balls (and fangs) and you can’t help but cheer the guy on.

YOU GO VV!

The only bad thing about Vampire Vic was that I did get bored in some parts. Mainly the parts about office life, which I know I said made it realistic, and they did, but I felt it got a bit too bogged down in reports, phone calls and mergers in parts.

However, I finished this book with a huge smile on my face, and a need to get a #TEAMVV T-shirt made. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but at least there’s book 2 to be getting on with instead.

P.S I was also totally rooting for Eugene the Vampire Hunter – he was hilarious. And luckily for Vic, pretty incompetent.

unicorn rating 4

Vampire Vic is out now, as is Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn which will be reviewed here soon. Watch this space!

This Week in Books 21.10.2015

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!I can’t believe how quickly this month is going, I really need to get a move on with my Horror October reads and features!

But alas, here’s what I’ve been up to this past week…

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Now: Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn ~ Harris Gray // Edgar Allan Poe: Stories & Poems

Thankfully I enjoyed the first Vampire Vic book, because I agreed to read and review both. Not much to report so far on the second book though.

Also, I didn’t get round to finishing the Poe book so I’m ploughing ahead with that atm.

Then:

Vampire Vic ~ Harris Gray
I really liked this witty, light-hearted vampire book. My review will be up once I’ve finished the second book in the series so you’ll get a double VV whammy!

Next: ???

My next read for Horror October will be The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski, followed by Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes.

That’s it for this week, what did you get up to?

If you still do a similar WWW post (or just want to join in, leave your link/answers in the comments, OR why not tweet using #TWIB, and I’ll come and visit.

Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister #HorrorOctober

I discovered Cleo’s blog, Cleopatra Loves Books relatively early on in my blogging life, and have been an avid reader ever since. I really enjoy crime fiction, especially a good, gritty, psychological thriller, but I still find myself only reading them sporadically.

Cleo however, has a seemingly insatiable appetite for all that involves death and murder, something we have joked about before in comments and such. As Horror October approached I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about Cleo, her blog, and where her love of crime fiction came from.

Huge thanks to Cleo for agreeing and sending over this great guest post. If you don’t follow her, head over there ASAP (she also covers more than just crime fic btw).

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My Love of Murder and Mayhem

by Cleo Bannister, Cleopatra Loves Books

I came to murder fairly late in life, although on reflection the seeds were sown earlier, but up until relatively recently you were more likely to find chick-lit or historical women’s fiction decking the shelves of my bookcase. These days they are dominated by black spines adorned with words such as death, murder or the darkly mysterious single word title!

My earliest introduction to murder stories came in the form of true-crime, more specifically the very trashy looking True Crime magazines with which I scared myself half to death before passing them onto my younger brother (something my more responsible adult self would say is probably not to be recommended).

Buying these magazines was a feat in itself, we lived in a rural town where everyone knew my mother, who certainly wouldn’t have approved, and they were kept on the top shelf. I’m not exactly tall now, and in those days top-shelves weren’t meant to be reached by under-sized teenagers so it was only on trips to the nearby city, Gloucester, that I was occasionally brave enough to get someone taller to pass me a copy.

Our local library didn’t stock YA fiction, it hadn’t been invented back in the 80s, and so once I’d finished the children’s section it was straight round the corner to adult fiction where I continued to read the classics fairly indiscriminately interspersed with the occasional bonk-buster as was required reading for every girl my age! Now either my library didn’t stock much in the way of crime fiction or I simply never really came across it, remember these were pre-internet days, you read what was available and unless you had a title and an author it really was pot-luck when pulling books out of the shelves.

Murder on the Orient ExpressI do remember one holiday home we stayed in, I want to say it was Wales but maybe that is my adult self, superimposing the stereotypical rainy weather on an entirely innocent region, which contained a huge stack of readers digest magazines and a good stock of Agatha Christie books which I devoured with relish and then I returned home and they became the one highlight in a very wet, windy and quite frankly miserable holiday.

In no time at all I left home, joined a library in every place that I called home still without any real structure to my reading, except for an overwhelming need to have a constant supply of books and it was only when I moved to Jersey that I became reacquainted with Agatha Christie with Poirot being played by the marvellous David Suchet which was required Sunday evening viewing for an entire winter, as well as settling down more than happily to watch Inspector Wexford do his stuff in a gentler contrast to Poirot’s more flamboyant manner. I sought out Ruth Rendell’s books featuring the detective and fortunately not only was Jersey library better stocked, it was better structured, books were shelved traditionally but some shelves were designated genres, paperbacks or recently published books, although I found my best bet of getting the choicest picks was to peruse the trolley which had the recently returned books on it. There I picked up a book by Barbara Vine, A Fatal Inversion, and having worked out this was Ruth Rendell whose Inspector Wexford books had filled my need for police procedurals, who used the pen name Barbara Vine when she wrote about crime from a psychological view-point.

Happy Like Murderers - Fred and Rose WestIn 1994 Fred West, an odd-job man in Gloucester had his garden dug up and the bones of his daughter who had been missing for eight years were located, I was in hospital giving birth to my son when the news came through that more bodies had been found, twelve in total. When Fred’s wife Rose was arrested, and later found guilty, I wanted to understand how such a large number of murders could take place under the noses of the residents in Cromwell Street, a road that I had walked along the end of many times while living in Gloucester.

I also wanted to understand why? Particularly in the case of Rose; what sort of woman kills for pleasure? In short this case reawakened my interest in true crime, although I now accept that the answers to the why part of my question will probably never be clear since Rose has refused to say anything at all in the intervening years.

Jersey library had a fairly good stock of the books that spring up after a particularly sensational crime so for a while my days were filled with caring for my young children while my nights were spent looking into some of the most depraved minds to grace the earth. It will relieve all those close to me that I wasn’t particularly interested in the methods used, I was interested in the make-up of these men and women.

The Scolds BridleAt about the same time I came across Minette Waters who wrote in a new style, one which combined my interest in the psychological but felt far more modern than Barbara Vine, whose novels were often, but not always, set in a bygone era. Minette Waters used transcripts and newspaper articles as part of her stories, which were without exception incredibly powerful. In The Scold’s Bridle, Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in her bath, flowers in her hair and wearing just us to a medieval torture implement, the scold’s bridle – absolute genius, no crazed serial killer needed just a deeply disturbing (and it still disturbs me now twenty years later) image.

In many ways my crime fiction reading continued with those books picked up for TV serialisation so I came across the marvellous Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Frost and of course the wonderful Morse and true to form proceeded to read the entire series of each – people the books are so much better than the TV series! There is far more to these books than cosy Sunday night viewing, the depth in the Dalziel and Pascoe books whilst brilliantly portrayed on screen, is lost when reduced to a two hour show.

As the years rolled by although I picked up any new books by these now much loved authors, plus a few more favourites found along the way, most notably Gillian White who wrote brilliant psychological thrillers with P.D. James, Peter James and Gill McGown for the more classic police procedurals, my reading was more concentrated on the books of the moment, I loved Bridget Jones, Dorothy Koomson, Lisa Jewell and Jodi Picoult. At the same time I love history and have a particular weakness for dual time-line stories so Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Lucinda Riley also have book that still grace my shelves today.

In 2010, with far more time on my hands, I decided to start reviewing the books I was reading on Amazon, and was lucky enough to be invited onto their Amazon Vine program which offered me free books in return for a review. I was in heaven and here was an opportunity to read books not only before publication but to check out those that I probably wouldn’t pick up in a bookstore.

The books I chose became increasingly dominated by murder and mayhem so that in 2015 out of the 111 books read and reviewed so far 67 are shelved under crime fiction or psychological thriller with a high percentage of non-fiction category also being books about murderous intent. My love of history, and particularly women’s history hasn’t dimmed, but now I enjoy books about Victorian Murderesses, women committed to lunatic asylums and suffragettes instead of love stories.

In 2013 Cleopatra Loves Books was launched primarily so that I had control of the books I’d reviewed and since then, the list of books I’ve found and been recommended that fit into this preferred genre has grown totally out of control. I thank you fellow bloggers for some absolute cracking reviews that has widened my reading to include such a variety of murderers from the domestic to the sadistic serial killer, I simply can’t get enough!

As you can probably tell, I have read loads of books about murder and mayhem so far so I’ll just leave you with a few suggestions from my bookshelves but if you want more detailed advice you can always contact me on my blog – I don’t even bite!

Police Procedural Series
Police Procedural

Roy Grace Series – Peter James
Lewis Trilogy – Peter May
Dalziel and Pascoe – Reginald Hill

Psychological Thriller
Psychological
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
Copycat – Gillian White

Historical Crime Fiction
Historical Crime

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young
Out of the Silence – Wendy James
Caversham Lock – Peter Conway

Non-Fiction
Non Fiction
A Very British Murder – Lucy Worsley
The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath – Jane Robbins
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale

Thanks again to Cleo! I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a murder mystery or two this Autumn, it certainly has for me! 🙂