Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Beneath The Ashes - Jane Isaac

Sent to me by Legend Press in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Paperback, Crime Fiction, 288pp

Buy/Read Now (links): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads

Rating: 4/5

Audience: Readers who enjoy a well written police procedural with some impressive psychological/drama elements.

Summed up in a few words: Developed. Complex. Solid Characters. Dynamic.

First Impressions: Welcome to the final stop on the Beneath the Ashes Blog Tour here at Always Trust In Books. I want to thank you for stopping by and supporting this great book and it's very talented author Jane Isaac. Thank you to Lucy at Legend Press for my copy of this book and for including me on this tour. 

I read this book in two sittings and I thoroughly enjoyed my time reading it. I found that the well written characters, the pacing, the development of the story line and the psychological/drama elements all fitted nicely together to produce an enjoyable and complex second instalment to the DI Will Jackman series.

Author Bio: Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northhamptonshire. Her first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, was published in the US in 2012 and nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBooks Awards 2013'

The Truth Will Out , was selected 'Crime Thriller of the Month' by EThriller.com and 'Noveltunity Book Club Winning Selection'

Follow Jane on Twitter @JaneIsaacAuthor

Book Synopsis: "The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. Non. She was lying in fluid"

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret. Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down a killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?

My Thoughts: I was massively impressed with Beneath the Ashes because it was a perfect blend of solidarity and emotionally unhinged mayhem. In the book we follow DI Jackman and his investigation into a fire at a local farm which has taken a life. After evaluating the scene, Jackman is certain this is a case of murder/arson. The only lead on the farm is Nancy, who has awoken in a pool of blood and has no memory of the night before and her boyfriend Evan (who was minding the farm) is missing. 

Jackman cannot be certain that the body is Evan's and his pursuit in identifying the body only generates more questions and inquiries. Nancy is unwilling to believe her loving, caring and thoughtful boyfriend would be involved in anything illegal and that anyone would want him dead. The journey that follows is one of uncertainty and emotional instability. 

DI Jackman is a talented detective and is unrelenting in his pursuit of clues, pulling all the threads he can to gather together information that will give a clear picture of events. Nancy is panicking, though she and Evan had only been dating for 3 months, he represented a life that she had craved for her entire existence, she wanted to belong and have a family and he was willing to give it to her and now he is potentially gone forever. Her whole life is in the balance of this investigation and its highs and lows have positive or devastating effects on her. 

There are two elements that I really appreciated about this piece. The first is that Jane Isaac has not set out to break new ground, instead she has put together a solid book with some potent and interesting themes. The other element I enjoyed was that each character in the book has their own life, their own dimensions and that though they are dealing with the events surrounding the case, it isn't the only problem each of them face in the duration of the book.

The format and pacing of the story was perfect, and Jane Isaac mixed it up nicely by adding in so many potential suspects and threats that it was difficult to keep track of everyone's involvement. This is the second piece in the DI Jackman series but it read just as well as a stand alone. Compared to the other crime books I have read this year, Beneath the Ashes ranks pretty high due to the quality of the characters and the unpredictably of the plot. 

My only sizeable complaint about this book was that towards the end JI decided to add some additional plot depth and possible connections to the case that I felt clogged up the flow of the story and disrupted the usual coherent and fluid writing. It was only a slight issue but one worth mentioning as it confused me (not hard though!) and it made the ending feel rushed when she could have introduced the connections across a larger portion of the book. There are some strong themes in this book, from addiction, abuse, illness, mental health problems to violence and beyond so though I recommend this book to everyone, please tread carefully as it can be upsetting.

I have given this 4/5 stars because though there were a few discrepancies, Jane Isaac was consistent and enjoyable. The harsher tones, the conflicts the characters face and the emotional journey that Nancy faces are remarkable and I think readers and especially Drama/Crime lovers will appreciate what Jane Isaac has done with this novel.

Thank you so much for reading this review and supporting the Beneath the Ashes blog tour hosted by Legend Press, Jane Isaac and a whole host of amazing and dedicated bloggers. This is the last stop on the tour so events end here, but if you haven't already, then please check out the other stops on the tour here. There is a whole host of events including reviews, interviews, guest posts and extracts to enjoy! 

It has been a pleasure and I hope to be on another Legend Press Blog Tour soon. I also wish Jane Isaac the best of luck with her third instalment of the DI Jackman series The Lies Within due out in the UK on 2.05.17.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Author Interview - Clare Morrall

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
CLARE MORRALL
WHEN THE FLOODS CAME
SCEPTRE BOOKS

Author Bio:  Clare Morrall’s first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. She has since published: Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Man Who Disappeared, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing. Born in Exeter, she now lives in Birmingham where she works as a music teacher, and has two grown-up children.


Hello everyone and welcome to another Always Trust In Books author interview! Today we have Clare Morrall who has recently released her latest book When The Floods Came. It is an amazing piece about family and the human instinct for survival, I have reviewed it on ATIB which you can see here. 

It has been a great opportunity to conduct a Q&A with Clare Morrall so a huge thank you for answering my questions! And thank you to Sceptre Books for both giving me the opportunity to be involved on the blog tour for When The Floods Came and sending me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Thats enough talk from me, lets get to those questions! If you enjoyed the Q&A then please share and comment on this post to tell me what you thought!

I loved When the Floods Came, I thought it was perfect balance of hopeful and fearsome! Could you give us some details of your inspiration behind the book?
For some time, I’ve had an image in my mind of people cycling on a motorway, and it’s taken me a while to work out how to make it happen. The idea pleases me enormously: a long, straight road with no cars or lorries getting in the way.  I like roads.  As one of my characters says, they are the blood vessels of the old world.
 I also wanted to set a novel very firmly in Birmingham, to give a sense of the city with its art and architecture, its heritage.  And I’ve long had a desire to set a novel in the future.  I wanted it to be a world that is still recognisable, still rooted in the past – the novel is partly about nostalgia - and also relatively benign.  I’m not very interested in violence or gangs on motorbikes or zombies.

I see you have such a diverse and wide selection of books out, what goes through your mind when you sit down to write a book?
 I usually start with a small idea – a setting or something unusual that has caught my attention – and when I start, I don’t really know where I’m going.  I take a little time to create one or two characters, to find names for them, then I plunge in.  I like that sense of uncertainty, the feeling that I’m heading out on an adventure and don’t know where I’m going to end up.  Themes gradually present themselves, and I keep them in mind, so that they mould the novel into a recognizable shape.  I’m interested in people, unusual situations, odd behaviours.  I would feel I had failed if all my novels were the same.

Could you gives us some insights into your career as a writer?
I’ve always been far more interested in fiction than real life.  When I was a child, most significant events passed me by - I was too busy reading to notice.  I’ve been writing for most of my life, seriously for the last forty years, but my first novel wasn’t published until 2003.  I wrote four completed novels before then - they’re unpublished - but my first published novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, so it was all worth it!  When the Floods Came is my seventh published novel, and I still have plenty more ideas stored up for the future.  So I’ll keep going for a while yet. 

What sort of environment do you like when you’re writing?
I prefer to be surrounded by space and silence, although I think I would continue to write wherever I was if my options were limited. For many years, I used to go to a friend’s house – she gave me the codes for the electronic gates and the burglar alarm - and wrote in a room at the top of the house.  Because I was short of time, I had to be very disciplined and start as soon as I arrived.  So now that I’m on my own at home and able to write there, I’m still reasonably organised.  I’ve experimented with expensive chairs, special desks etc, but I’m much more comfortable on the sofa with my laptop. 

Would you share a surprising fact about yourself?
I have a soft spot for the old Star Trek series – Captain Kirk, Mr Spock etc.  Not always subtle, often sentimental, but ...  I like stories, I like the ambition and things are often more attractive in the glow of nostalgia.  Sorry if that’s not surprising enough. 

Is it easier writing now or at the beginning of your career as a writer?
Now that my children have grown up, I have more time, and after the Booker success,  I can afford to not work so many hours.  I’m a music teacher.  I suspect I think more clearly now that I’m older, and I can see more quickly where I am heading.  I can recognise  problems more quickly, and worry less about  the way forward.  Computers are an enormous improvement on typewriters.  Corrections are so much easier to manage, but the downside is that I spend  longer rewriting, editing, tinkering. 

What attracted you to Sceptre as a publisher?
 Firstly, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse for my second book, Natural Flights of the Human Mind.  I had several other offers, but theirs was the most generous.  As it turned out, it was a good move.  Carole Welch, who manages Sceptre, is a wonderful editor, very clever, who shares my tastes in literature.  She takes time and effort to ensure my books are the best they can be, and I completely trust her.  Her advice is always good.  I landed on my feet when I arrived at Sceptre. 

Have you read a book this year you would recommend to the readers of this Q&A?
I’ve recently enjoyed All the Light We Cannot See by Antony Doerr, which we read in my book group.  I was slightly reluctant to start it – a book about a blind girl and a young German soldier in the Second World War sounds as if it is going to be an indulgence in sentimentality – but I was very pleasantly surprised.  It’s a beautifully written exploration of blindness, science, the difficulties of living under occupation, set in St Malo.  I strong recommend it.

What is next for you in the world of writing?
I’ve just come to the end of my next novel  and now I’m rewriting and checking details.  It’s about two brothers who live in adjacent railway carriages but don’t speak to each other.  Once I’ve sent it off, I’ll start on the next one.  I’m already giving it some thought.

A huge thank you to Clare Morrall again for answering my questions and please check out the other events of the blog tour for When The Floods Came happening this week!




Sunday, November 27, 2016

Runemarks - Joanne M. Harris

Sent to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review


Released: 24/11/16

Book Info: Hardback, Fantasy/Mythology, 512pp (UK re-release)

Buy/Read Now (links):
Goodreads
Amazon UK

Rating: 4.5/5

Audience
Readers interested in Norse mythology and adventure stories that take place in huge worlds. (YA/Adult)

Summed up in a few words
Mythical. Power. Betrayal. War.

First Impressions
I requested this book as soon as I saw it, I have read The Gospel of Loki which I absolutely loved (I am a mythology addict) so I had to read Runemarks too. This is a re-release of the original book which was published in 2007 but this version has an epic, artistic and mythology based landscape on the cover which is absolutely stunning (it is also hardback which is a bonus). I am a huge fan of Joanne Harris so thank you to Stevie at Gollancz for providing me a copy of the book to devour almost immediately. 

Author Bio
Joanne M. Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was sixteen. is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about fifteen miles from the place she was born. (Gollancz Bio)

Book Synopsis
TRUST NO ONE, WHOEVER THEY MAY APPEAR TO BE.

In a world where magic and mystery are outlawed, Maddy has always been an outsider. With the strange marking on her hand and her unusual abilities, she's mistrusted and feared by 'normal' folk.

But Maddy's life is abut to change. From learning about the ways of the old gods, to travelling into World Below and meeting the infamous trickster, Loki, Maddy must embark on a journey the likes of which she has never imagined.

As the powers of Chaos and Order prepare for a war to end all wars, it is Maddy who unknowingly holds the key to the Worlds' survival.

My Thoughts
I was going to share a gorgeous piece of artwork that is in the book but I didn't want to infringe any copy rights... it is amazing though, it is an image of the YGGDRASIL (the world tree) with all the nine worlds surrounding it and it perfectly sets the tone for the whole book. Gollancz have taken this book and added a whole additional dimension to the book through the artwork and I am incredibly impressed.

I am a big Joanne M. Harris fan and I am making my way through her work just as fast as I can. I loved The Gospel Of Loki with a flaming passion, I adore any book that is rooted in mythology and this book was no exception. Though I felt where The Gospel Of Loki was more mythology than novel, Runemarks is the opposite. Runemarks is a novel set in a detailed, magical and turbulent world. Norse mythology, symbolism and characters are stitched into every fibre of the book and it is a cracking read. It is targeted at a YA/Adult audience, there is some foul language, graphic imagery and other adultish themes included but nothing overly disturbing as such. 

14 year old Maddy is confused and frustrated at her family, fellow villagers and the gods for shunting her and leaving her an outcast in her own home. A revolution is slowly sweeping the land, Order is taking over and as Maddy has Chaos flowing through her veins it won't be long until she is sentenced to death. A stranger called One-Eye appears in the village when Maddy is 7 and appears once a year after that, sharing the knowledge of her abilities and the worlds beyond the one she currently occupies. 

Eventually when the time is right, One-Eye sends Maddy on a mission to get in contact with the trickster god Loki and retrieve a relic call The Whisperer which will predict the future and tell her what path to take. His one piece of advice is trust no-one, but with Loki in her head and a dozen pissed off gods in her way, she needs all the help she can get. Maddy is a great character who is wise for her age due to living with her head on a swivel and a family who doesn't accept her. She wants to belong and that longing is finally addressed when she comes into contact with the all powerful gods and she is forced to become a god herself to survive Hel, Dream and beyond.

Runemarks is such an epic journey through all the of the Nine Worlds, with endless amazing mythological content and references. The book is quite a chunk at 512 pages but it is barely noticeable as I flew through the story and found myself laughing, amazed, indulged and at times horrified. I have to admit that it did not meet my expectations entirely, but that is because I had unfairly massive expectations after reading The Gospels of Loki which acted as sort of a prequel to this book. Had I read this first then I think it would have surpassed my expectations but in the end I thoroughly enjoyed it but it wasn't as drenched in mythology than I would have wanted. (But I always want more so who's problem is it really?)

The premise is superb, the characters are developed, recognisable and complex, or just a bit crazy and/or powerful. Usual Norse suspects like Thor, Loki, Odin, Heimdall and Hel are present as well as so many more. The fluency and depth of the book fascinates me and when Maddy leaves the safety of her villages and ventures into the other worlds, the book just gets better and better. I loved the fact that the ending didn't really conclude the story, it just generated so many more questions. I appreciate the fact the Harris has such a command of the information/knowledge of the Norse mythology that she has gathered over the years and I could listen to her talk about it all day, every day. 

Overall I really loved the book, it is memorable, masterful and most importantly it is enjoyable. Spending time with the gods in mythology is one of my favourite things to do when I read so maybe I am a bit biased but if you subtract the Norse part of the book, you are still left with a solid story about a girl running into the Chaos to find somewhere to belong.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Boy Made of Blocks - Keith Stuart

Sent to me by Sphere Books UK in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Hardback, Drama/Adventure/Video Game, 392pp

Buy/Read Now (links):
Goodreads
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Rating: 4/5

Audience 
Readers looking for a life affirming story with plenty of drama and adventure.

Summed up in a few words
Parenthood. Challenging. Love. Overcoming.

First Impressions
Thank you to Clara at Little Brown for my copy of A Boy Made of Blocks. This was a tough but enjoyable book. There is so much tragedy and heartache in this book but the tides soon turn to a generous helping of love, fun, feel-good and adventure when Alex decides he wants to fight for his family. This is an incredibly up to date book, leaning heavily on the famous video game 'Minecraft' which manages to give creative release and normality for 8-year-old Sam who struggles daily with the effects of autism. Very enjoyable, made me cry a lot but I ended up thoroughly heart warmed.

Author Bio 
In 2012 one of Keith Stuart's two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keith and both boys started playing video games together - especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and Official PlayStation then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. 

The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks: a story about a dad who wants to communicate with his autistic son; a dad who has forgotten how to play. It is a story about letting go, about being a kid - which is how Keith learned about everything important in his life, starting with his son. (Official Bio)

Book Synopsis 
Meet thirty-something dad, Alex. He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, bit doesn't understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.

Meet eight-year-old Sam. Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.

But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other... Can this fragmented family put itself back together, one piece at a time?

My Thoughts
Alex has been kicked out the house with the request from his wife Jody to sort himself out. Since Sam was born it has been an up hill struggle for both of them, from not knowing why their son wasn't coping with life to then eventual diagnosis of Autism. Both Alex and Jody are exhausted, keeping up a brittle facade for those around them, but while Jody keeps fighting on, Alex is lost. A trial separation leaves Alex living with his best mate Dan and his easy going bachelor lifestyle.

As the years since Sam's birth went by, Alex became a shadow of himself, making excuses and living in fear of the next episode, tantrum or breakdown. Though being thrown out of that hostile and heartbreaking lifestyle doesn't give Alex the release that he was looking for and though he won't admit it at first, he wants to fight for that life, with everything he has. 

Sam begins to play Minecraft as a treat and he ends up being fixated, working his way through each game, methodically and learning a whole new world and its language. Though sceptical at first, Alex sees this as an opportunity to bond with his son and that process takes their relationship to places that Alex never thought his son was capable of. It is a truly inspiring tale that brought many a tear to my eye and dealt with some tragic and important subjects on the way. 

Autism is such a difficult and wide subject but Keith Stuart, being the father of an autistic son, treats the subject with all the respect it deserves but also shares with us an eye-opening account of what these parents have to deal with everyday. It blew my mind, being the father of a 3 year old myself, I have a grasp on the main process of raising a child, but Keith/Alex have a whole different set of rules to abide by. There is plenty of shock, awe and drama to begin with but eventually through determination, Alex comes to realise that he needs them both and will do what it takes to be a better father and husband.

That shift in perspective leads us the inspiring, heart-warming and life affirming side of this book. It leaves you with the feeling that all those problems you put at the back of your mind are not going to sort themselves out, it is only you who can get it done and move on.

This is a character driven story. We read from the first person perspective of Alex and witness his journey through the turmoil that is the separation from his family. From the loneliness, rejection and difficulty accepting his faults. To the panic of losing Sam forever and at last the choice to change himself forever, forget the past and get to know himself but more importantly Sam. 

Sam is the other side to this book, he is calculated, reactive and systematic, but those only work in his own subjective mindset and the way the world reacts to him doesn't make sense to to Sam. I can relate to a certain degree the emotions that Alex is dealing with when he is around Sam (though only on a minor level). This a book that is not really targeted at anyone, it is just a story that Keith Stuart needed to tell, to open people's eyes to the struggles of autistic children and the parents who work day in and day out to give them the life they deserve. 

The tone of the book changes as the plot develops, from a colder, struggle filled and moody atmosphere to one of determination, inspiration and love. There is an underlying theme of loss, which affects all the choices that Alex makes, due to the blame he feels for the loss. It is the most upsetting element of this book and I found it difficult to begin with but as you will soon learn that with Keith Stuart, he is all about turning the negative into a positive.

I have given this book 4/5 stars as it is an amazing read but I felt the pacing was a bit choppy to begin with and some of the interactions over the course of the book were slightly frustrating and unnecessary. That is only my opinion and your reading experience may differ. This is a book for those who want to open their eyes to the struggles of peers, other people in your community or other people in general. 

Parents and people who appreciate children, I definitely recommend this book to. It is a great piece that shows the importance of respecting your children and your other half and taking on problems as a family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sinner Man - Lawrence Block


Sent to me by Titan Books UK in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Hardback, Crime/Noir, 239pp

Buy/Read Now (links):
Goodreads
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Rating: 4.5/5

Audience: Readers looking for a fast paced Noir thriller with mature content and an impressive plot.

Summed up in a few words: Aggressive. Release. Identity. Freedom.

First Impressions: I picked this book up to read a few pages to get a feel for the writing and... I didn't stop reading till the end. The actual book is only 187 pages long so it is a relatively easy read and the content is so bold and addictive that time just flew by and I was at the end before I knew it. Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a review copy of the book, I now have another author to binge on.

Author Bio: Lawrence Block has been writing acclaimed mystery and suspense fiction for half a century. His most recent novels include The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons, featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr, Hit Me, featuring Keller, A Drop of the Hard Stuff, featuring Matthew Scudder, and The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes. He has been named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master (the organisation's highest honor), and has won multiple Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as countless international prizes. He lives in New York City. (Official Bio)

Book Synopsis: To escape punishment for a murder he didn't mean to commit, insurance man Don Barshter has to take on a new identity: Nathaniel Crowley, ferocious up-and-comer in the New York mob. But can he find safety in the skin of another man...a worse man...a sinner man...? (Official Synopsis)

My Thoughts: Sinner Man was written in the 60's and the author lost track of the book over the years and it was only recently that the book actually resurfaced and he was able to re-release it. I am so glad that it did come back as I had such a great experience reading Sinner Man. As I said before, I wasn't planning to read this yet but I read the first and second page and I was immediately hooked. I enjoyed the writing style, the language, the swift and potent plot development and especially the main character.

Don Barshter kills his wife by accident, he knocks her down and she falls dead. Instead of panicking, calling the police and facing the consequences of his actions, he decides to go on-the-run and re-invent himself in Buffalo, New York. Don has to shed all of his previous personality including his appearance, speech, body language, behaviour and lifestyle, and in doing so become Nathaniel Crowley. Nat isn't a square like Don was, he likes to live large, spending money, getting involved with the mob and having sex with whom ever he wants. The evolution of Don is fast paced but meticulous, he wants to live his life but the only way he can see himself surviving is by becoming Nat.

I don't read enough Noir and this book told me that over and over. I had not heard of Lawrence Block before I read this but now I am a huge fan! Now I do not agree with what Don did to his wife and his choice not to face up to the music, but it is fascinating to observe this transformation and witness Nat's journey into the mob scene. The writing style was rapid, concise and brimming with character. In the back of my mind, I was trying to work out how a man could pull of this sort of stunt, but Block has an answer for everything and is so convincing in his writing that I ended up just enjoying the ride

I don't really have anything negative to say about Sinner Man. It is definitely not for everyone, there are mature themes like violence, murder and abuse, but it caters to readers of crime/noir and being nearly 60 years old means it most definitely helped define the noir we read today. Nathaniel Crowley is the heart and soul of this book and Block got his development spot on. I was amazed and bewildered by his choice just to drop who he was and become someone new and I was also mesmerised by his unwavering commitment to this completely new person occupying the same body as Don. 

I have given this book 4.5 stars because I had such a great reading experience with this book, I sat and read it in one go and I was left wanting more. I took a 0.5 off as Sinner Man is not for everyone due to the harsher tones, but I do believe the people who seek out this genre of book will have a great time with it. If you have read the book or are going to then please let me know what you thought in the comments.

Thank you as always for reading my review on Always Trust In Books. I am constantly looking for new books and content to share with you so please follow me here on Blogger for plenty more content in the coming months. I am also on Twitter and Facebook so I hope to see you there too!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Horror Stories - E. Nesbitt

Sent to me by Penguin in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Paperback, Horror, 194pp

Buy/Read Now (links): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads

Rating: 3.5/5

Audience: Readers who are interested in enjoying aged horror stories that focuses more on the human side of the horror experience. Though there is plenty paranormal/supernatural/gore content to go around too!

Summed up in a few words: Influencial. Artistic. Human. Disturbing.

First Impressions: I fell in love with this book just by looking at the cover art. The content inside is just as intriguing and special, with 14 individual horror/ghost stories that show an array of disturbing human experiences. I felt that E. Nesbit focused more on the human mind element of horror, more than violence and supernatural (though there are elements of both involved). E. Nesbit is an acclaimed children's writer, but while she wrote classics like The Railway Children, she wrote adult short stories too (see Author Bio) and I was very impressed with her work. Thank you to Sara at Penguin Books for my review copy.

Author Bio: E. Nesbit was born in Surrey in 1858. A world-famous children's author, her works include The Railway Children and Five Children and It. She also wrote several short stories for adults. With her husband, Hubert Bland, she was one of the founding members of the socialist Fabian Society; their household became a centre of the socialist and literary circles of the times. She died in 1924.

Book Synopsis: Before she became a world-famous author E. Nesbit wrote for adults. She penned a great many ghost and horror stories, of which the very best are gathered here. These tales of terror feature sinister activities on All Hallow's Eve, church hauntings and apparitions from beyond the grave. But they also beautifully portray scenes of idyllic domesticity and love, which dark and horrific elements gradually and even brutally undermine.


My Thoughts: Horror Stories is one of five different books in the Penguin Worlds series published by Penguin Books. These books look spectacular and I have been giving the opportunity to share the artwork here with you during my review so that is why there are several other cover images to the left of this text.

After Naomi Alderman's (Author of The Power) brief introduction to E. Nesbit's work within these pages we get straight into over a dozen of her best pieces of horror fiction. I really enjoyed both EN's approach to the stories and the massive variety of content give to the reader. Due to my modern, over de-sensitised mind, these stories didn't really scare me (though a few were actually close) but these stories are over a century old. I could definitely see the style and influences that Nesbit installed in the genre that are still present in horror fiction today.

EN choose to use a human approach to her stories instead of an overly supernatural/paranormal. A lot of the horror in these stories are created within the people's minds, due to subtle influences or situational cues. As per usual with short stories, there were some I absolutely adored and some that I didn't care for much. I felt that EN was at her best when she was writing stories about the human mind and condition. I felt the ghost stories were fairly basic, with interesting points but overall relatively standard. That said, EN was among the first writers of the 20th Century to continue the horror genre so she a pioneer of modern horror, which adds an extra dimension to these tales.

My favourite was a story about a scientist who is aiming to create the first wave of super-humans. He has created a drug that will enhance all of the 5 senses a thousand-fold, giving people abilities and enhanced capabilities. Of course being a scientist, he must test the drug on himself first. The drug works magnificently, giving him outstanding sensual abilities, but unfortunately due to his body overloading with sensory information, he is left paralysed. The horror element to this piece comes into play when he is found in his lab and presumed dead, so he is buried, still alive, with all of his senses still at 1000x magnification. 

The writing style here is surprisingly modern, even being over 100 years old, Nesbit is definitely an observational author, telling her stories from the outside and letting things develop naturally over the course of the characters story. EN has created some potent and terrifying stories here that would sit well with any horror/ghost story lover. There is such a vast array of different elements of horror included that there is definitely something to scare everyone! From the fear of being buried alive, losing a loved one, black magic, death, mysticism, pain, lost opportunities, ghosts and religion.

Overall, I have given this book 3.5 stars due to the fact that though the stories were impressive, there was a low hit/miss ratio for me and I found myself only really engrossed in a few pieces. That is my personal opinion and won't reflect on your own reading experience. EN has outstanding talent and is well respected across all age groups and any of her work would be a welcome addition to your bookcase.

Thank you for checking out my review of Horror Stories, if you have decided to give it ago then you can buy or add it to your Goodreads list at the top of the page. Please follow Always Trust In Books here on blogger or on Twitter/Facebook for plenty of reviews, interviews, features and giveaways! Lastly I want to share the links to the other 4 pieces in this series:
We Who Are About To... - Joanna Russ
True Names - Vernor Vinge
War for the Oaks - Emma Bull
The World In Winter - John Christopher

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cover Reveal! Deceived - Henna Rathore P.

COVER REVEAL!
DECEIVED BY HEENA RATHORE P.
CITRUS PUBLISHERS

RELEASED: FEB 2017

Welcome to the first ever cover reveal on Always Trust In Books. I am glad to be starting off this new part of my blog with an amazing cover created for Heena Rathore P.’s Deceived. This cover amazes me as it is such a vivid piece that makes the reader consider the many reasons for/outcomes of the scenario depicted. I hope you enjoy the reveal and please head over to Citrus Publishers to get your copy of Deceived.


Synopsis:    How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl who’s trying to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist who is chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughters her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

A psychological thriller that weaves its way through the sadistic past of a traumatized child to the snare of dark mysteries of a beloved father.

Please add to your Goodreads list here.

About the Author: Heena Rathore P. is a 25-year-old full-time novelist, part-time Social Media Strategist, Novel Critic, Book Reviewer and a YouTube Podcaster.

She draws her inspiration from the works of legendary Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon.

She is an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader and a GSD-lover. In her free time, she loves watching apocalyptic, thriller and slasher movies and series.

She lives in Pune with her beloved husband in a house full of books, music, and love.

She loves creating fictional worlds, but more than that she loves living in them.


Thank you for visiting Always Trust In Books to enjoy the epic new cover for Deceived. Please tell me what you thought in the comments and follow me here on Blogger for more reviews, Q&As, features and giveaways.