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

jacksparks

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

Book Promo: Death Wish by Megan Tayte (includes excerpt)

Welcome to another book promo/spotlight on Lipsyy Lost & Found.

I love the sound of this one; the Devon setting and the beautifully dark cover did it for me!

deathwish1

About the book

Title: Death Wish
Series: Ceruleans I
Author: Megan Tayte
Editions: e-book/Kindle, 305 pages
Publication Details: February 7th 2015 by Heaven Afire
Genre(s): YA; Paranormal Romance

Goodreads // Amazon UK // Amazon.com // Website

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

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to the isolated cove of Twycombe, Devon, with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need.

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power.

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death.

To believe the impossible.

Meet the Author

deathwish2Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan writes the kinds of books she loves to read: young-adult paranormal romance fiction. Young adult, because it’s the time of life that most embodies freedom and discovery and first love. Paranormal, because she’s always believed that there are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. And romance, because she’s a misty-eyed dreamer who lives for those ‘life is so breathtakingly beautiful’ moments.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood’s county, Nottingham. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a paleontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

Excerpt

Waves everywhere, swirling, surging, seething – a raging melange of foam and salt and inky water biting at me, pulling at me, thrusting upon me a solitary invitation:

Death.

As I fought to remain on the flimsy polystyrene surfboard that seemed more bucking bronco than wave rider, I thought: That’s how easy it is – you just let go. Just release the grip on this world that in recent months had seemed so much an effort, and sink into the blue, beneath the waves, where chaos and fury turned to quiet and calm. Like she did.

Was drowning as they claim? I wondered. The easiest way to die – peaceful? How would it feel to give up all the dragging myself through the day, all the struggle to evade the aching void inside? A relief?

Another wave rose me up and slammed me down with breathtaking power. Its force stirred me. You could say a lot of things about Scarlett Blake – she’s a loner, she’s a wallflower, she’s a menace in the kitchen – but no way was ‘she’s a quitter’ on the list of character flaws.

‘Screw you!’ I shouted through the spray.

Funny, sounded like someone shouted back. But who else would be out in this tumultuous sea at six a.m. on a summer’s morning? Solitude was the entire point of hauling myself out of bed in the still-dark and picking my way down the cliff path to the beach just in time to see the horizon light up with the first burnt-orange glow of the rising sun. No one to see me make a damn fool of myself on my first surfing attempt.

‘Trying… yourself killed?’

Definitely a voice. Male. Angry.

Scanning the surroundings for the source proved difficult while lying stomach-to-board. On an upward surge I got a glimpse of the Devonshire cliffs that fringed the cove, all dark, jutting rocks topped by bushes of gorse, and then a flash of the beach. On a downward plummet there was nothing but eye-burning, throat-choking seawater.

‘Forward… next wave!’

The voice was closer now. There was an edge to it beyond the anger. Something raw.

My eyes picked out a black form between the waves. Someone on a surfboard, paddling it expertly seaward. I took one hand off the board to push sticky tendrils of hair from my eyes. Rookie mistake.

Turned out holding on one-handed was impossible. The board shot upwards, out of my feeble grip, and then it was just me and Old Man Sea.

Kicking frantically, I tried to keep my head above the surface, but the waves were burying me, one after the other, only a second or two to come up for air before the next one hit. Far away now were thoughts of letting go – I was fighting furiously for life. Never in my seventeen years had I been so desperate. But my legs were tingling with effort, and I knew it was just a matter of time.

When the final wave broke me all I could think was, Sienna. With her name on my lips I inhaled a lungful of water and I sank…

… for all of a second before something grabbed the back of my t-shirt and hauled me upward. Coughing and spluttering, I emerged from the blue and was pulled roughly onto a board, my leg shoved over so that I straddled it. I had the fleeting thought that this board was much sleeker and more substantial looking than the one I’d just lost before my rescuer settled pretty much on top of me and started paddling toward the shore.

With him in command, we crested waves and glided down the other side with apparent ease, though I seemed unable to match the rhythm of our motion and kept taking in great gulps of brine. Over the sound of the waves and the wind and the splash of powerful arms cutting into the water to propel us along, I picked out low, irate grumblings.

‘… idiot tourists… total waste of… all we need… another bloody drama…’

Finally, we reached the shallow waters and he slid off the board and pulled me off to walk to the beach. But my legs didn’t seem willing to respond to basic instructions like ‘walk’ or even ‘stand’ and breathing between wrenching gasps had become a challenge, so he threw an arm around me and half-carried, half-walked me, dragging his board with his spare hand.

Ten steps up the beach he let me down onto the sand.

‘Head down,’ he commanded. ‘Between your legs. Cough it out.’

I did as I was told. Liquid spilled out of me with each retching cough, and the cool air I gulped in burned my throat. I fought the panic, I fought the pain, focusing instead on the shells and stones strewn around. Finally, breathing won out.

‘You okay?’

I was reluctant to look up. For starters, I knew I must look a mess – long hair plastered to my head rat-tail style, face flushed and salt-burned, eyes teary and bloodshot. And then there was the fact that this guy, whoever he was, had just saved my life, and was evidently pretty mad about having had to do so.

‘Hey, you okay?’

I lifted my head slowly. Took in broad thighs clad in black neoprene; hands reaching out, palms raised; a wide, muscular chest; a striking face – rugged, square jaw, full lips, ruddy cheeks, Grecian nose bearing a thin scar across the bridge, thick black lashes framing eyes… oh, his eyes.

I opened my mouth, tried to speak, but I was paralysed by his gaze. All at once I was home in the cottage, tucked up beneath the blue patchwork quilt of my childhood; I was watching my grandmother remove vanilla-scented fairy cakes from her powder-blue Aga; I was running through a meadow of sky-blue forget-me-nots with my sister – free, exhilarated, happy. The memories took my breath away. I felt the familiar burn in my tear ducts.

His eyebrows pulled together and he placed a hand on my trembling knee.

‘Are. You. Okay?’ he said with exaggerated care, as if he were speaking to an elderly lady having a turn at a bus stop.

I blinked, cleared my throat and managed a husky, ‘Yes. Th-thank you.’

Concern melted into exasperation.

‘What’s the deal,’ he demanded, ‘out there on your own, clearly no idea what you’re doing, children’s play surfboard… you got a death wish or something?’

I cringed. I’d known the board was short, but I’d thought it was me-sized – at five foot three, what use was some enormous board?

‘I’m sorry.’

‘You would’ve been sorry if I hadn’t seen you.’

‘I just wanted to get a feel for it. I didn’t realise it was so rough out there.’

‘Rough? That’s not rough. Not even optimum surfing weather. Piece of cake for someone who actually knows how to surf…’ He paused when he saw a tear escape my eye and roll traitorously down my cheek. Furrowed his brow, combed his fingers roughly through dark hair that was drying fast in the breeze.

‘Listen, I didn’t mean to…’

I brushed the tear away furiously. Enough with the vulnerability.

‘Right, well, thank you…’

‘Luke. My name’s Luke.’ The stress lines in his face smoothed out and his lips curved. Like this, smiling and relaxed, his scrutiny was a touch less unsettling. ‘And you are…?’

‘Thank you, Luke, for your, um, help, but I’m sure you’ve better things to do, so I’ll just be…’

Before he could protest, I launched myself to my feet. He instinctively rose with me, and my water-fogged mind registered belatedly that my rescuer was a giant of a guy – my head was at the level of his chest. As I looked up to take in his stature I staggered slightly and he reached out to right me, but I stepped backwards. I didn’t need his kindness.

He looked awkward, unsure of himself, as he towered over me. ‘Hey, will you be okay?’

‘Yes, yes, I’m fine. I’ll just head home.’

‘You live close?’

I pointed vaguely west. ‘Yes, not far.’

‘Up there?’ He looked puzzled, and then interest sparked in his eyes. ‘You mean the Blake place?’

Busted. Of course being vague was pointless. My grandparents’ ramshackle cottage on the western cliff was the only building up there. I made a noncommittal mnnnhnnn noise, but Luke was not to be deterred.

‘But that place has been empty since…’

He was looking at me now with such scrutiny that I took a further step back. I saw the cogs turning in his mind as he took in the classic green Blake eyes and then compared her – short, spiky red hair, eternally crimson lips, tall and impossibly slender – with me – petite and curvy, hair more blond than auburn reaching to the base of my spine and a pallor worthy of a vampire. His eyes widened.

‘Scarlett? Scarlett Blake!’

There was shock in his tone, and then sympathy.

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Ever Near by Melissa MacVicar

ever
Title: Ever Near
Author: Melissa MacVicar
Series: Secret Affinity #1
Edition: Paperback, 200 pages
Published: September 2013 by Red Adept Publishing, LLC
Genre(s): YA; Supernatural; Romance
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the publisher/author in exchange for an HONEST review.

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Love is ever near. But trouble is never far.

Nantucket Island is haunted, but only sixteen-year-old Jade Irving knows it. Ignoring the disturbing spirits isn’t an option, because one dwells in the enormous historic home she shares with her newly blended family. Jade is finding it more and more difficult to explain away Lacey’s ghostly, anguished tantrums, especially with Charlie, her gorgeous, almost step-brother, living right across the hall.

When a power-hungry ghost hunter tracks down Jade and blackmails her, Jade’s secret teeters on the edge of exposure, and her entire future hangs in the balance. If anyone finds out Jade can talk to ghosts, her life will be forever changed.

Can she save herself, free Lacey, and hang on to her tenuous connection with Charlie? Or will everything she ever wanted slip through her fingers?

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book as I’ve always found ghost stories a bit hit or miss. Done well and they can be chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, but done badly and they can be completely clichéd and cheesy.

Thankfully, Ever Near fell into the former category, and hit the mark for me.

Protagonist Jade is your regular 16 year-old girl who is having to adjust to separation from her father and her mum’s forthcoming second marriage, resulting in Jade and her mum moving into old mansion Fair Ever, with her soon-to-be step-father and brother.

Considering everything she’s had to adjust to, Jade gets on with her new family just fine – a little too well where her hot step-brother is concerned – but it’s the house that’s the problem. For years, Jade has tried to hide the fact that she sees ghosts, but at Fair Ever there is one very pissed off ghost that’s making it impossible for Jade to keep her secret.

There were a lot of things I liked about Ever Near. I thought MacVicar really nailed the tone throughout the book and Jade felt like a very ‘real’ character making her instantly likeable. I also thought it was written well and the short, sharp chapters really pulled me in and hooked me into the story.

Step-brother Charlie was just the right amount of swoon and I liked the dynamic between the two characters, but I wished they didn’t get together so quickly. One minute Jade was dead against the idea, because ‘it’s wrong’ and the next they were sucking face, but let’s put it down to teenage hormones, yeah?

Initially, I was a bit dubious of Jade’s paranoia about her secret getting out and wondered why she didn’t at least confide in her best friend, but the more this was explored the more I realised that it summed up adolescence pretty well; that need for self-assurance, acceptance and the fear that people might see you as different.

Overall I really enjoyed Ever Near. It is a super-quick, entertaining read with a nice balance of action from the violent ghosts, romance between Jade and Charlie, and coming-of-age issues that everyone can relate to.

unicorn rating 4

Ever Near is available now in paperback and e-book, as is book #2, Ever Lost