The Daemoniac by Kat Ross #HorrorOctober #BookReview

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a4Title: The Daemoniac
Author: Kat Ross
Series: A Dominion Mystery #1
Format: Digital ARC, 334 pages
Publication Details:  October 12th 2016 by Acorn
Genre(s): YA; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.

But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.

From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?

Review

 

Let’s face it. I was interested in this book from the title and cover. Perfect for Horror October, I thought. And then I read the synopsis and I was completely intrigued! What an amazing idea!? I’m still  a bit jealous that  I didn’t think of it. 

Our protagonist is Harry, who is niece to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and younger sister to Myrtle, a highly regarded private detective. Harry, feeling constantly overshadowed by her ‘brilliant’ sister decides to impersonate her when a client comes asking for help and so Harry, with the help of her best friend John jump into her sister’s shoes.

The case of course, turns out to be a little more than they bargained for and leads Harry and John to all manner of dark, dingy, and down-right bizarre places. 

I don’t really want to give away much more of the plot – and the synopsis says it better than I could anyway – because it’s one of those if I tell you one thing then I’ll have to explain another and so it goes on until I’ve given it all away!

I felt like The Daemoniac was a love letter to the classic detective/mystery genre. The way the protagonists are led through this story bit by bit, clue by clue, was certainly reminiscent of them, but I loved that it was unique too. 

I mean, there’s quite a few teen girl detective books out there (Flavia de Luce, Ruby Redfort, Nancy Drew to name but a few), but this felt different, darker, I guess. 

It wasn’t a perfect book for me though, that’s for sure. Whereas I found it entirely entertaining, I also found myself getting lost quite a bit; often being confused as to why/how they ended up somewhere, and how Harry gets away with imitating her sister for so long. I also felt like I needed to know the characters a bit better in order for me to get more invested in the story. 

The Daemoniac was however, a truly great read despite all of these things. It flowed nicely, and the pace was quick, and there was always something surprising lurking around the corner. 

I thought the way the author used the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes, and the horror of Jack the Ripper together was a great combination, and certainly like nothing I’ve read before. 

 

horroctrating-3

 

 

 

 

The Hummingbird’s Cage by Tamara Dietrich #BookReview

hummingbirdTitle: The Hummingbird’s Cage
Author: Tamara Dietrich
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 342 pages
Publication Details: August 25th 2016 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre(s): General Fiction; Thriller/Mystery; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

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A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams…

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself….

Review

I wasn’t sure how to categorise this novel as it was a little bit of everything. Part thriller, part mystery with a little bit of the fantastical mixed in. This doesn’t always work for me, but I think it worked perfectly in The Hummingbird’s Cage.

It is the troubled story of Joanna and her daughter Laurel who live in constant fear of Police Officer husband and dad, Jim. Jim is your classic abusive husband, and in a very short amount of page-time the reader is emerged in the hell he has  created for Jo; breaking her down until she is a shell of a woman and too terrified to try and get free of him. It’s a story that has been told in many a psychological thriller, but that’s where The Hummingbird’s Cage steers itself in another direction.

Jo does manage to break free of Jim with a little help from one of his ex-girlfriends who knows all too well what Jim is capable of but survived to tell the tale, and Jo finds herself in an unknown town, in an unknown bed with a caring elderly couple looking after her.

However, it’s not long before Jo realises that Morro isn’t your average town. Things just don’t seem to add up. It’s too perfect, too accommodating. But for the first time in as long as she can remember, Jo feels safe and her daughter is happy. Is it too good to be true?

I was hooked into this story straight away. I was expecting the psychological thriller part of the story to continue for a lot longer than it did, but when Jo wakes up in Morro, it was so intriguing I still couldn’t put it down. It was all a bit Twin Peaks, albeit not quite as insane. 

I really enjoyed the themes of this novel, some of which would be spoilers so I’ll refrain from listing all of them, but I’ll just say that it’s a book that throws up many questions. Jo was happy there, but didn’t belong…I was as torn as she was as to what to do! Would you go back  and face your demons if you were happy with your new start? Would you need closure?

A fantastic debut!

unicorn rating 4

Top Ten Tuesday: Who’s winning at the half-way mark?

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

This week the topic is…A freebie! Meaning we can choose any topic we like, or missed…

This couldn’t have come at a better time because I really wanted to do last week’s topic but missed it. I will therefore be doing my Top Ten Reads of 2016 So Far. Hurrah!

Links go to my review. 

All the Unicorns! (5/5)

Best of the Rest! (4/5)

  • Glass Sword (Wow, I’ve only just realised that I didn’t review this!)
  • Into the Dim
  •  The Crow Girl
  •  The Foreshadowing (Review coming soon!)
  • The Merciless
  • You Know me Well
  • Half a King (I read this around Christmas time and never got round to reviewing it. I really enjoyed it though.)

 

Feel free to leave your link and I’ll come see what topic you chose this week 🙂

Lazy Saturday Review: Save Me, Kurt Cobain #BookReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

2016debuts6Title: Save Me, Kurt Cobain
Author: Jenny Manzer
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 272 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2016 by Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Contemporary YA
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from my friend Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads 

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What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father?

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

Review

Save Me, Kurt Cobain was a super quick, entertaining read. I loved that Manzer used her love of Nirvana to shape this quirky story about an angsty teen who runs away from home to find out what happened to her mother who had disappeared years earlier.

did find parts of the story slightly unbelievable, and it drove me mad that Nico never told ‘Cobain’ who she thought he was which made me think that even she didn’t believe it, but the rest of the story was full of intrigue and successfully evoked that sense of confusion or feeling lost that so many teens go through… even when they don’t have an actual mystery to solve. 

I really enjoyed the relationship between Nico and her best friend, and that he was always in her mind – he was her rock without even knowing it. And the dynamic between Nico and Cobain was entertaining too. 

Overall, this was a solid contemporary read with some really great moments, but essentially, I didn’t quite fall in love with it. It is an absolute must read for Nirvana fans though, the author clearly knows her stuff/did her research. 

unicorn rating 3

Save Me, Kurt Cobain is out now!

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet #BookReview #JuneReleases

magruderTitle: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet
Author: H.P Wood
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: June 7th 2016 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre(s): Historical Fiction; Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

 

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May 1904. Coney Island’s newest amusement park, Dreamland, has just opened. Its many spectacles are expected to attract crowds by the thousands, paying back investors many times over.

Kitty Hayward and her mother arrive by steamer from South Africa. When Kitty’s mother takes ill, the hotel doctor sends Kitty to Manhattan to fetch some special medicine. But when she returns, Kitty’s mother has vanished. The desk clerk tells Kitty she is at the wrong hotel. The doctor says he’s never seen her although, she notices, he is unable to look her in the eye.

Alone in a strange country, Kitty meets the denizens of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. A relic of a darker, dirtier era, Magruder’s is home to a forlorn flea circus, a handful of disgruntled Unusuals, and a mad Uzbek scientist. Magruder’s Unusuals take Kitty under their wing and resolve to find out what happened to her mother.

But as a plague spreads, Coney Island is placed under quarantine. The gang at Magruder’s finds that a missing mother is the least of their problems, as the once-glamorous resort town is abandoned to the freaks, anarchists, and madmen.

Review

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet is a nicely written, interesting romp through the early 20th century Coney Island – a place where anything can happen!

Young Brit Kitty Hayward has lost her mother. Sent from their hotel to pick up some medicine when her mum is taken ill, Kitty returns to find that her mother has vanished, and the hotel are pretending they’ve never seen her before. How curious. 

Kitty ends up on Coney Island, with no money or belongings, but is fed and taken in by a family of ‘unusuals’ – the members of a freakshow who all live at Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. 

I loved the setting of this book. I found the descriptions of the fun, freaky, and often fake entertainers who inhabit the resort and how Kitty quickly became a valued addition to their gang really interesting. I thought it was going to be a simple mystery, but as the story develops we realise that it’s more about a plague that is sweeping through the island than it is about a girl trying to find her mother. 

I wasn’t expecting it to be such a dark, and often depressing story, and while I initially enjoyed that surprise I felt like the middle of the book could have been more exciting – something was lacking for me. 

The star of the show was definitely the characterisation. Each character was unique (as you’d expect from Freakshow performers), and they interacted beautifully with each other. I especially fell in love with Rosalind -who today you would describe as Gender-Fluid, but back then he was seen as an abomination –  and his relationship with lovely Enzo, the ‘half-burned man’. 

It’s quite clear that the author had done her research, and I found the portrayal of side-shows, circuses and freak-shows of the time realistic and intriguing. I also enjoyed that the book makes you look at prejudice and discrimination and made me eternally thankful for how much society has changed since the 1900s.

Overall, I feel like Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet was definitely worth a read, even if it left me a little deflated. 

unicorn rating 3

The Ceruleans Print Party #Giveaway

Today I’m celebrating with Megan Tayte, whose fantasy/paranormal romance series The Ceruleans is available for the first time in print this June. 

Ceruleans poster

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IN SEARCH OF THE MEANING OF DEATH, SHE’LL FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books, one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint? 

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To celebrate Megan has arranged a giveaway in which you can win a copy of all five books in the series. 

Enter Rafflecopter Giveaway

Megan Tayte

Find out more about Megan and her books using the links below:

Amazon UK // Amazon USA 

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp #BookReview #Horror

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Title: The Last Days of Jack Sparks
Author: Jason Arnopp
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 336 pages
Publication Details: July 28th 2016 by Orbit (first published March 3rd)
Genre(s): Horror; Supernatural
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.
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Review

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is a book of many things. It’s part horror, part mystery, part thriller, and it’s hilarious in a deliciously, dark manner. 

Jack Sparks is a famous (or perhaps more infamous than anything) journalist. His ego is as huge as his reputation and he’s the perfect anti-hero.

Jack has a lot of crazed followers but even more haters. When he announces on Twitter that his new book will be ‘Jack Sparks on the Supernatural’, the reaction goes viral. His fellow atheists and believers in science are outraged…because what does a devout atheist have to say about something so ridiculous? And the believers out there are outraged because who is he to investigate something he can’t even let himself believe. 

Of course, being an egotistical glory-hunter and fame-seeker, this only spurs Jack on. His first big mistake is attending an exorcism in the middle of which he breaks into laughter. Then a mysterious video appears on his own YouTube channel which he has no idea how it got there. The video is hella eerie and appears to show a genuine, very pissed off ghost. This time Jack can’t ignore it, but investigating it will be his ultimate downfall.

I absolutely loved this book. Jack reminded me a lot of Mystery Man from Colin Bateman’s novels of the same name. He is a lovable rogue. He is completely hopeless but you can’t help but root for him. It made me laugh how he rationalised everything he saw. No matter how bad the ghost/poltergeist/possession -whatever you want to call it- got, he always had an answer. But deep down, Jack Sparks knows differently. 

I’m loathed to give more of the plot away as I don’t want to ruin it, but believe me when I say that Jack Sparks… is about a lot more than an atheist exposing supernatural phenomenon.

For the most part, I found this book riveting. It made me LOL in one breath and recoil from creepiness in the next. I also adored the relationship between Jack and his room-mate Bex, and finally realising how unreliable Jack is as a narrator. 

Most of all, I think the way this story was written is genius. The majority of it is made up of Jack’s manuscript which he was typing as he went, up to moments before he died. It even includes notes to his editor which are also hilarious. He’s such a dick! 😉

The rest, which is where we can compare ‘truths’ is made up of Jack’s brother’s commentary, email exchanges and Jack’s confession at the end. This style had the potential to go so wrong, and I’ve hated the use of emails and texts in books before, but here I thought it extremely clever.

I originally rated this as 4/5, but in writing this review I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it. So have ALL THE UNICORNS, JACK SPARKS. 

unicorn rating