Box: A Psychological Horror by Matt Shaw

Box: A Psychological Horror by Matt Shaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Box by Matt Shaw was definitely psychologically horrible!

I’d say it was a very simple concept, in that it was a short story, with very little actually going on. But it got right into my head!

I was hooked from the first few paragraphs, just because I’m a sucker for horror and I wanted to find out if it would disgust me, as other books by this author sound pretty hardcore!

Maybe I’m hardened to certain things, as being a horror fan for so long, I’ve read some twisted stuff in my time! A couple of parts made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but overall, I really liked it.

So, if you’ve got half hour or so to kill and fancy a horror that’s written by an author who thinks, erm,‘outside the box’, (ha!) give it a go!

I recommend this to readers who aren’t too squeamish, but it’s just horrid enough to subtly shock.

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The Case that Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England by Simon Read

The Case that Foiled Fabian: Murder and Witchcraft in Rural England by Simon Read

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating read about an unsolved murder case that took place in Lower Quinton, a sleepy little Warwickshire village back in 1945.

Chief Inspector Robert Fabian of Scotland Yard was sent in to solve this grisly crime, as he was considered the best man for the job. But as the title suggests, it completely foiled him, and to this day, it remains unsolved.

Rumours of witchcraft and satanic worship in the picturesque village played a part in this real life murder mystery and the locals remained tight-lipped throughout the investigation. Nobody knew or saw anything. In such a small farming community, somebody somewhere must of seen or heard something, surely.

Fabian spent countless police hours trying to fathom out why Charles Walton was viciously attacked and killed with a pitchfork, his torso left pinned to the field where he was working that February morning. Who would do such a thing to this elderly gentleman?

What I enjoyed most of all about this fascinating book by Simon Read, wasn’t the main crime story itself. The author incorporated a thoroughly interesting insight into the early workings of police procedural and the establishment of the CID into the police force in early 1900’s England.

It’s incredible to think how the police themselves would completely ruin a crime scene, because their knowledge of forensics were somewhat limited. Filling a footprint with cement and examining clothing fibres was about as technical as it got back then! Luckily, Fabian was a breath of fresh air for our police force, and quickly made a name for himself as Scotland Yards most successful Inspector, with a habit of locking up countless criminals for murders, robberies and suchlike throughout his career.

The book covers various other crimes that Fabian was involved in solving, as well as very interesting chapters on Witchcraft and ancient Pagan traditions. In addition, there’s black and white photographs of the village of Lower Quinton, including the church and graveyard, as well as a macabre photo of the ACTUAL murder scene!

I gave this book 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because it was a very different read for me. I’m always reading crime fiction where the murder gets solved, forensics have all the tech and gadgets, and it’s a complete story. This non-fic, however, left me with lots of questions, and the fact that Fabian was foiled by whoever committed this gruesome crime, and actually got away with murder makes a real change.

I also liked the chapter about ‘The Beast’. And by that, I don’t mean Mark Labbett from The Chase! This is the original Beast, the one and only Aleister Crowley, the infamous occultist and ceremonial magician who reeked havoc and mayhem with his crazy, but rather intriguing beliefs!

Overall, this book was enjoyable because it was so educational, and the photos enhanced the experience. I learned a lot about the history of the police, it has reminded me that true crime is a great genre and I must read more of it. (Oh my poor TBR!)

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Within the Heart of Silence by James William Peercy

Within the Heart of Silence by James William Peercy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yesterday morning I was up at silly o’clock! It was going to be a glorious day, and if you live in the UK, you know full well that we have to grab these moments, because our weather can be pretty rubbish!

So, my partner and I were going on a forest trek, and this ebook of poetry by James William Peercy was the perfect introduction to my day.

The author was kind enough to send me a free copy, via Booktasters to read and review. The timing to receive this couldn’t of been better! So, at 5am, coffee in hand and the sun peeping through my window, I started to read what proved to be a truly beautiful book of poems.

Each poem was accompanied by a stunning photograph taken by the very talented Jacqueline E Smith, which enhanced the visuals when immersed into James’ world.

I will say that this kind of book would be better as a physical copy. The photos could be bigger and the page set ups would look fantastic with the poems set out as one per page. An ebook just doesn’t give this the justice it truly deserves, as one or two poems needed the last few verses or lines continuing onto the next page. This has a bit of an effect on reading flow. But this certainly didn’t ruin it, some books are just better printed on paper. Especially if there are photos or pictures.

So the poetry. It was a pleasure to read! The author has a real passion for nature, as does the photographer. The spiritual element shines through, and it leaves you with real food for thought.

My favourites were:

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose, in Texas USA.

Here’s what caught my attention;

‘The irises of color: green, blue, and brown.
Flow through the scattered rocks of life,
No limits are the bound.’

So beautiful.

And also:

Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, California.

‘Touch the trees, we dare you.
Feel the flowing tide.
Reach down deep for who you are,
You will know inside’.

The photo accompanying this one was breath-taking. I am a lover of trees, woodlands and forests, so it really caught my eye.

And finally:

Big Top Candy Shop, Austin, Texas.

Not nature based as such, but an ode to the memories of an old guitar! It was truly brilliant!

‘The mileage may have added up
But the strings, they’re going strong.
If I look a little worn for wear
It’s just my journey home’.

This brought a real smile to my (early morning) face!

Not only was there inspiration from America, but a fair bit from Scotland too. This just made it even better for me, as I love Scotland and all things Scottish, as my partner is from that neck of the woods!

Overall, the author took me, as a reader, on a spiritual journey, through the woodlands and the delicate streams of nature’s wonders. And the guitar poem was the icing on the cake!

I’d recommend this to all poetry and nature lovers, who appreciate stunning photography, and the serenity and peace of what our world can give us through the medium of poetry.

I’d like to thank the author, James William Peercy, the photographer, Jacqueline E Smith, and Booktasters for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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Psycho Analysis by V R Stone

Psycho Analysis by V.R. Stone

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1 star seems a little harsh, but I just can’t give it 2.

Well, I’ve been all over the show with this one, I started writing this review before I’d even finished the book at around 85%. It started out as ‘liking it a lot’, and then to ‘it’s an average read’, and finally settling on ‘no, just no’. I’ll be honest, it just done my head right in. As my dear Mum would of said, “I was all at sixes and sevens with it!”

I’ve not had this happen ever before. Normally, books I’m feeling average-y about, whether I’ve just started, or I’m half way in, have a tendency to either grow on me, or plummet rapidly into the oblivion of DNF. But this one, I think perhaps indifferent would best describe my feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t a bad book, I’ve read far, far worse. It just seemed to fall flat, considering it had so much going for it. The writing style was well organised and the character combination was somewhat unique. A crazy-assed multi-millionaire female serial killer, a police detective with a serious weed problem complete with baggage galore, and an ironically bonkers psychotherapist who I was looking forward to getting to know. But I just didn’t care for any of it very much at all. Like my internet at times, I just had connectivity problems.

As the story unfolded, we are introduced to a few extended police characters who just felt like a bunch of faceless props. Although essential to the story, they just didn’t feel like they belonged. I was unable to visualise any of them. Luckily, the three main characters made up for this, particularly Sarah, our serial killer. Had it not been for her, I would of probably DNF’d this.

There were a few big reveals, nothing spectacular, just a little bit lack-lustre I’m afraid. It had the potential for some OMG and WTF moments, but alas, there was none. Actually, I lie. There was one WTF, but it was a bad WTF. At 86% there is a small chapter which is just absolutely horrible. Now, I’m no prude, and I’ve read a lot of gory questionable stuff in my time, but this, well, it was sickening. Had I of known this kind of content was in it, I WOULD NOT HAVE READ IT.

I’d like to thank the author, V R Stone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I’m just sorry I didn’t like it very much.

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Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After a week or two of total slumping, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine pulled me right out of it. I read this in less than a day.

I was absolutely transfixed on dear, sweet Eleanors life. This is a beautiful and poignant story with elements of humour and light hearted story telling. It smoothly evolved into an extremely powerful and emotional journey, which filled me with sadness and most importantly, hope.

There is hope for everyone. Even for oddbods like Eleanor. She is a wonderful woman, ok, a tad strange too, but hey, I dig strange!

I won this physical copy in a GR giveaway, and it was absolutely brilliant. Thank you Harper Fiction and Gail Honeyman πŸ‘πŸ’–

I will never forget this book. Truly heart warming and thought provoking.

5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Doll House by John Hunt

Doll House by John Hunt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

‘….and I would of gotten away with it too, had it not been for that dog and you pesky kids!’

Ha! This came to mind on finishing Doll House. It felt very ‘Scooby-Doo’ as it headed to the conclusion. An 18+ version may I add, because it was sick and very gory in places. Scabby blood clot anyone? And a side order of ear maybe.

So, 2 stars? It didn’t deserve 1 star, as there were a fair few bits I really enjoyed and I think 1 star is too harsh for this.

The first quarter of the book wasn’t written very well. It seemed that the author struggled to get the momentum going, using very basic language and descriptions.

As the story became established, and the action got going, John Hunt found his feet. He’s rather good at creating a dark, tense scenario. I had feelings of foreboding and high tension at regular intervals, which is my reason for finishing this.

I thought I knew who the serial killer was, and prepared myself for the ultimate anticlimatic end ever, when, I was proved wrong! And for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, it still felt a tad disappointing, but it pleased me that I was wrong. Had I of been right, it would have received just the 1 star.

I found this book difficult to review, as I always feel bad about not really liking an ARC. I am always thankful for the opportunity, however, reviews are personal and honest, and this is all I can find to say about this one. This book was initially heading for my DNF shelf, but I’m glad I persevered as there were snippets of good horror writing amongst all that naff!!

I’d like to thank Black Rose Writing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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The Girl Before by J P Delaney

The Girl Before: The addictive global bestseller by J.P. Delaney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You’re sent an ARC of The Girl Before by J P Delaney. On finishing, did you feel that it was a unique story experience, with exceptional twists and turns, making it an absolute must-read in this genre?

a) Yes [ ]
b) No [ ]
c) Maybe [x]

I don’t know about this book. Part of me liked it very much, a big part. But I’ve got some niggles with it, and in writing this review, it might help me understand my feels a bit.

Liked

The state-of-the-art home where our two protagonists lived. It was a breathtakingly impressive place, which had all the gizmos and gadgets cleverly hidden away to create a perfect minimalistic living space. I’d have to break some rules to live there though. Books and cushions.

Characters with unlikable traits. Yeah, I do like that. I enjoy their flawed and twisted personas and trying to fathom them out.

The subtle hint of kink. Yep, these were not vanilla folk. The author brought just enough to give it some sizzle, without too much detail. Some things are best left to the readers imagination.

Learning about Japanese cuisine. There’s far more to it than sushi and friggin hot wasabi. (See also ‘Disliked’)

How the two MC’s POV’s and stories merged as the story progressed.

Disliked

The first 30-40%. I just couldn’t get to grips with it! Those two girls, both with simple names, Jane and Emma. I couldn’t for the life of me distinguish between them initially. I resorted to having a scrap of paper by my side whilst reading, with ‘Jane, – present, Emma, – past’ scribbled on it so I knew whose voice I was hearing. It’s mad, it could of been just me, but I really had issues with those names. Both four letters, both very British, both rather samey. I dunno. *shrugs*

It had a half-way-through-major-eyeball-rolling-moment. It was predictable and typical.

Learning about Japanese cuisine. Urghhhh! Is that shit for real? No way. Nope. Stay away from my mouth.

So, my conclusion is, that, yes, it was a unique story experience, with twists that kept me engrossed until the end, but it wasn’t sensational.

Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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