Cushla

RDO for libraries...book reviewer...lots of book and reading related stuff...animal rights, dog person, LFC and warcraft player

 

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Windigo Fire

Windigo Fire - M.H. Callway I tried, honest I did....

Path of Needles

Path of Needles - Alison Littlewood When an expert on fairy tales is called in to consult on the investigation of bizarre murders, her premonition and insight causes suspicion; she must solve the case--and fast--to prove her innocence.

Alice Hyland is an expert on fairy tales--lecturing on the well-known stories and their lesser-known variants--and the natural choice for Police Constable Cate Corbin to consult when a dead girl is found in the woods dressed up as Snow White. Especially when the girl's grieving mother receives a parcel containing a glass bottle of blood stoppered with the dead girl's toe. Cate's boss, Detective Superintendent Heath, isn't convinced of the connection to folklore until a second girl is found, this time dressed as Red Riding Hood and with claw marks gouged into her flesh, like a wolf had been at her.

As she dives deeper into the case, Alice beings to sense a supernatural pull connecting her to the murders. A series of uncanny events seem to be pointing her in the right direction, but she's not the only one noticing; By the time a third girl is found in the local castle, Heath begins to wonder if their fairy tale expert knows too much, and Alice finds herself no longer an asset, but a suspect. But she can't stop following the clues, and her determination to solve the mystery herself and prove her innocence may lead her somewhere she can't return from...


Easy read with an interesting concept and the variants on well know fairy stories were interesting. But I just didn't get along with this at all.

It is difficult to mix the supernatural with crime/police procedural and this just didn't work for me. I found it hard to believe that two unconnected people living within the same area would have academic knowledge of the same subject.

Also the ending was silly and perplexing, are we meant to believe that the murderer was rewarded with exactly what he wanted...?

Disappointing


We Are All Completely Fine

We Are All Completely Fine - Daryl Gregory Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping.

Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.

Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these likely-insane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within and which are lurking in plain sight.


A super compelling, creepy novella that sucks you in from the first page and grips until you finish it.

The author creates characters that are so vivid that you feel you are there with them in the group and on occasion he uses a collective voice that gives you the feel that the group is an entity itself. I would have liked to learn more of the mythos, the brief glimpses had a definite Lovecraftian component.

The writing is masterful, the pacing tight - I can see this being made into a film or a series. Fabulous word perfect storytelling - enjoy

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette - Hampton Sides In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.

James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."

The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice—a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.

With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.



“We have the right kind of stuff to dare all that man can do,” De Long



Being a major fan of Polar exploration accounts I was eagerly looking forward to reading this book.

I was not disappointed. Gordon Bennett! What a thumping good read.
The author makes great use of authentic source material in this extensively researched account of the forgotten tragedy USS Jeanette's doomed voyage.

A wonderful example of narrative non fiction - a tale that reads like a novel but with the detail of a historical study. The author brings back to life the crew and their courage and persistence to survive but never once losing their humanity. The section on the Lena Delta, its ice barrier and indigenous population was fascinating

One criticism; a book on this subject with so many references needs an index, next edition maybe?





The First Rule of Survival

The First Rule of Survival - Paul Mendelson Synopsis:
"At a farm stall in Cape Town two bodies have been found in the skip behind the premises. Two teenage boys have been shot and then wrapped in Clingfilm before being dumped. It isn’t until closer inspection that it is discovered that these teenagers are two of three boys who were kidnapped in 2007 over consecutive days and never seen again. Despite a big scale investigation that didn’t get the police force (SAPS) anywhere near finding the three boys, everyone involved believed them all dead or trafficked and spirited abroad. Now two of them are found and have only been dead a matter of days.

Colonel Vaughn DeVries was the leading officer on that particular investigation and it is a failure that still cuts deep seven years later and the realisation that these boys were alive and still local reopens his wound of failure. With a new deputy in the form of Warrant Officer Don February, DeVries is determined to find their killer and find the third remaining victim in this tragic tale. But with internal politics from on high hindering his every step and a cold trail from seven years before, DeVries feels the case taking a personal toll on him as he searches for the truth which is a lot closer to home than he could ever have imagined."


Excellent first novel that is chilling as it is thought provoking. I was interested in reading a crime novel set in a country I know little about and what a great experience it was. Pacy, stylish and filled with twists and turns that had this reader holding their breath.

At first glance Vaughan De Vries is a cookie cutter crime novel detective; Broken marriage - check
Alcohol problem - check
Maverick - check

However he is so well written I liked him immediately and was rooting for him in his quest for justice.

But for me the South African landscape was the main character - you could feel the heat and dust coming off the page.

Outstanding

The Blood Dimmed Tide

The Blood Dimmed Tide - Anthony Quinn London at the dawn of 1918 and Ireland's most famous literary figure, WB Yeats, is immersed in supernatural investigations at his Bloomsbury rooms. Haunted by the restless spirit of an Irish girl whose body is mysteriously washed ashore in a coffin, Yeats undertakes a perilous journey back to Ireland with his apprentice ghost-catcher Charles Adams to piece together the killer's identity. Surrounded by spies, occultists and die-hard female rebels, the two are led on a gripping journey along Ireland's wild Atlantic coast.

Written well but somehow I could not connected with this novel.

The descriptions of Sligo and the west coast of Ireland, along with those of the decaying estates of the English gentry are superb and impart a great sense of time and place. However I found the switch of narration between the first and third person confusing. The story, for me, lacked a main focus - was it a ghost story, a thriller or a romance? Too many themes for this poor reader.

I did however love this quote at the beginning of the book

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Spring Tide

Spring Tide - Cilla Borjlind;Rolf Borjlind Spring Tide is a gripping, cinematic crime thriller from Cilla and Rolf Börjlind, the scriptwriters behind Arne Dahl and the Swedish Wallander TV series.

The spring tides are the highest of the year in Nordkoster; the beach will be covered in particularly deep water tonight. Three men on the beach are digging a hole, covertly watched by a young boy. His intrigue turns to horror as he makes out a fourth figure - the woman for whom the hole is intended. Buried up to her neck in the sand, the high tide is rapidly approaching. Still screaming in terror, the victim takes her last breath as water fills her nose and mouth - in her stomach, she feels her baby kick. And her waters break.

Twenty-four years later, the abhorrent crime remains unsolved; gruesome violence however is still prevalent after all those years. A gang has been beating up and killing homeless people in parks - worse still, they are filming their attacks and broadcasting them on the internet. The police have their work cut out trying to keep abreast of the crime wave. Olivia Ronning hopes to follow in her father's footsteps and join their ranks in the next few months after she completes her training; she has only one last hurdle to overcome over the summer break, a challenge from her professor to pick a cold case and solve it. Should be simple, she thinks. Little does she know the world she is getting involved in, the danger she faces and the ugly truths she risks uncovering.


A welcome addition to the crowded stage of Nordic Noir.

You can tell the authors have a TV/film background from the tight plotting, myriad characters and short cinematic set pieces in this gripping novel.

Filled with interesting characters; young police trainee Olivia Rönning is a brilliant creation; believable and likeable.

A thrilling story full of twists and turns (pay off was jaw-dropping) but with social issues at its heart I was sorry to finish it but thank goodness the second book, Third Voice, is about to published...yay!

My Soul To Take

My Soul To Take - Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Bernard Scudder, Anna Yates The bestselling Icelandic crime writer returns with the second in a series featuring lawyer Thora Gudmundsdóttir. Sigurdardóttir's crime debut, Last Rituals, marked her break from a prizewinning career as a children's novelist but was also notable for its welcome dose of humour. She does the same here. Gudmundsdóttir is relaxing at a farmhouse health resort when a grisly murder occurs and she discovers that stories about the farmhouse being haunted may link to terrible events decades before. Once again, she must balance her investigation and her private life - a grumpy ex-husband and teenage son, a needy daughter and a new German boyfriend. This is both frightening and funny - a terrific trick if you can pull it off.

Tightly plotted storyline linking the present day with past events and a touch of the supernatural. I like Thóra with her dry sense of humour and pragmatic approach and her conversations with 'tag along' boyfriend Matthew are great fun.

Maybe a tad too long but an enjoyable book to loose yourself in on a dark winter evening.

A most haunted house

A most haunted house - G L Davies urgh......

A Lovely Way to Burn

A Lovely Way to Burn - Louise Welsh It doesn't look like murder in a city full of death.

A pandemic called 'The Sweats' is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie's search for Simon's killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death.



I found this disappointing, the pandemic riddled London was done very well but the mystery of the dead boyfriend was puzzling to me.

Stevie admits that the relationship wasn't that serious so why why why would you put yourself at risk running about a lawless city trying to solve a crime.

Call me heartless but you wouldn't see me for dust....

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916

Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 - Michael Capuzzo "Combining rich historical detail and a harrowing, pulse-pounding narrative, Close to Shore brilliantly re-creates the summer of 1916, when a rogue Great White shark attacked swimmers along the New Jersey shore, triggering mass hysteria and launching the most extensive shark hunt in history.
During the summer before the United States entered World War I, when ocean swimming was just becoming popular and luxurious Jersey Shore resorts were thriving as a chic playground for an opulent yet still innocent era's new leisure class, Americans were abruptly introduced to the terror of sharks. In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake-and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland-the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history.

For Americans celebrating an astoundingly prosperous epoch much like our own, fuelled by the wizardry of revolutionary inventions, the arrival of this violent predator symbolized the limits of mankind's power against nature.

Interweaving a vivid portrait of the era and meticulously drawn characters with chilling accounts of the shark's five attacks and the frenzied hunt that ensued, Michael Capuzzo has created a non fiction historical thriller with the texture of Ragtime and the tension of Jaws. From the unnerving inevitability of the first attack on the esteemed son of a prosperous Philadelphia physician to the spine-tingling moment when a farm boy swimming in Matawan Creek feels the sandpaper-like skin of the passing shark, Close to Shore is an undeniably gripping saga.

Heightening the drama are stories of the resulting panic in the citizenry, press and politicians, and of colourful personalities such as Herman Oelrichs, a flamboyant millionaire who made a bet that a shark was no match for a man (and set out to prove it); Museum of Natural History ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols, faced with the challenge of stopping a mythic sea creature about which little was known; and, most memorable, the rogue Great White itself moving through a world that couldn't conceive of either its destructive power or its moral right to destroy.

Scrupulously researched and superbly written, Close to Shore brings to life a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history. Masterfully written and suffused with fascinating period detail and insights into the science and behaviour of sharks, Close to Shore recounts a breathtaking, pivotal moment in American history with startling immediacy.

Details the first documented cases in American history of sharks attacking swimmers, which occured along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey in 1916."

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/

A Book of Horrors

A Book of Horrors - Stephen Jones Introduction:- Whatever Happened to Horror? Stephen Jones
The Little Green God of Agony - Stephen King
Charcloth, Firesteel and Flint - Caitlin R. Kiernan
Ghosts with Teeth - Peter Crowther
The Coffin-Maker's Daughter - Angela Slatter
Roots and All - Brian Hodge
Tell Me I'll See You Again - Dennis Etchison
The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer - John Ajvide Lindqvist
Getting it Wrong - Ramset Campbell
Alice Through the Plastic Sheet - Robert Shearman
The Man in the Ditch - Lisa Tuttle
A Child's Problem - Reggie Oliver
Sad, Dark Thing - Michael Marshall Smith
Near Zennor - Elizabeth Hand
Last Words - Richard Christian Matheson

"In his introduction to A Book of Horrors, editor Stephen Jones rails against the ’horror-lite’ nature of today’s genre fiction, decrying the likes of ‘paranormal romance’, ‘urban fantasy’, and ‘steampunk’, possibly with a lit torch in hand. “The time has come to reclaim horror,” he declares, presumably from high atop a mountain of skulls. “If you enjoy the stories within these pages, you can say that you were there when the fight began.” If Jones’s valiant attempt at inspiration has properly stirred your shit up, you may enjoy a few of these honorable mentions:

The Little Green God of Agony, by Stephen King

Although this brand new piece by King was originally published in A Book of Horrors, editor Ellen Datlow included it in Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 4, which received a U.S. release back in May. Green God is vintage King, a gothic healer/exorcism story that commands your full attention for 30 pages before ending so abruptly, it seems like half a story. Oh, those Stephen King endings.

Ghosts with Teeth, by Peter Crowther

Crowther has a way of taking everyday life and tweaking it every so slightly, until you feel like you might be going a little bit crazy. It’s a novella that lies somewhere between the hallucinatory delirium of In the Mouth of Madness and Dead & Buried.

The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

An old fashioned ghost story, expertly penned by the author of Let Me In. After a widower bribes his young son to take piano lessons––well, the title says it all, really. Like much of Lindqvist’s work, the less spoiled, the better. Just read it.

Alice Through the Plastic Sheet, by Robert Shearman

It’s hard to complain about irritating neighbors when you’ve never laid eyes on them, an idea that Robert Shearman explores to surreal, nightmarish effect in this nominee for both the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award. A strangely disturbing story considering its lack of violence or gore.

Sad, Dark Thing, by Michael Marshall Smith

Another excellent, haunting short story by the author of The Straw Men. Aimlessly driving down country roads, a troubled man stumbles across an unusual tourist attraction––a plywood cabin, covered in moss, that houses a “sad, dark thing”. And for only a $1, you can take a peek. Although I loved more than a few of these stories, this one emerged as the clear favorite.

There’s something refreshing about an unthemed anthology like A Book of Horrors. With every page turn, you never know what you’re going to get. With angry ghosts, fire succubae, psychic premonitions, even tree monsters, this anthology is pleasantly all over the place. What’s most notable is the overall strength of the stories Jones has selected––at least half of the tales rank anywhere from great to excellent. Don’t miss this one."


http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3192055/book-review-a-book-of-horrors-yet-another-excellent-anthology-from-mammoth-editor-stephen-jones/

Excellent collection with my favourite being the unsettling Victorian Gothic A Child's Problem by Reggie Oliver

Those Across the River

Those Across the River - Christopher Buehlman Haunted by memories of the Great War, failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family’s old estate—the Savoyard Plantation—and the horrors that occurred there. At first their new life seems to be everything they wanted. But under the façade of summer socials and small-town charm, there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.

It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of the Savoyard Plantation still stand. Where a long-smouldering debt of blood has never been forgotten.


American Southern Gothic at its best, as one reviewer said, if Tennessee Williams wrote literary horror....

A slow burning tale that will stay with you for days by a phenomenal writer.

Impact

Impact - Adam Baker The world is overrun by an unimaginable horror. The few surviving humans are scattered in tiny outposts across the world, hoping for reprieve - or death. Waiting on the runway of the abandoned Las Vegas airport sits the B-52 bomber Liberty Bell, revving up for its last, desperate mission. On board - six crew members and one 10-kiloton nuclear payload. The target is a secret compound in the middle of the world's most inhospitable desert.
 All the crew have to do is drop the bomb and head to safety.
 But when the Liberty Bell crashes, the surviving crew are stranded in the most remote corner of Death Valley. They're alone in an alien environment, their only shelter the wreckage of their giant aircraft, with no hope of rescue. And death is creeping towards them from the place they sought to destroy - and may already reside beneath their feet in the burning desert sands.


Lock and load bitches!

Adam Baker's Outpost series is one of my guilty pleasures....fast paced, compulsive and enormous fun!

The Supernatural Enhancements

The Supernatural Enhancements - Edgar Cantero A mesmerizing novel...what begins as a gothic ghost story soon evolves into a wickedly twisted treasure hunt in The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero's wholly original, modern-day adventure.

When twentysomething A., the European relative of the Wells family, inherits a beautiful, yet eerie, estate set deep in the woods of Point Bless, Virginia, it comes as a surprise to everyone—including A. himself. After all, he never knew he had a "second cousin, twice removed" in America, much less that his eccentric relative had recently committed suicide by jumping out of the third floor bedroom window—at the same age and in the same way as his father had before him . . .

Together with A.’s companion, Niamh, a mute teenage punk girl from Ireland, they arrive in Virginia and quickly come to feel as if they have inherited much more than just a rambling home and an opulent lifestyle. Axton House is haunted... they know it...but the presence of a ghost is just the first of a series of disturbing secrets they slowly uncover. What led to the suicides? What became of the Axton House butler who fled shortly after his master died? What lurks in the garden maze – and what does the basement vault keep? Even more troubling, what of the rumors in town about a mysterious yearly gathering at Axton House on the night of the winter solstice?

Told vividly through a series of journal entries, cryptic ciphers, recovered security footage, and letters to a distant Aunt Liza, Edgar Cantero has written an absorbing, kinetic and highly original supernatural adventure with classic horror elements that introduces readers to a deviously sly and powerful new voice.


This turned out to be really cute in the end – it took me 60 or more pages to hook me in but I am glad I persevered.

"Eerie, puckish, and full of surprises…Cantero pays homage to Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft and The Shining, but he’s no less enamored of The X-Files, fax machines, and punk girls with dreads. The result is a propulsive, beguiling novel that is as easy to get swept up in as it is hard to describe."


Puckish – that is the exact word to describe this cheeky, clever, sly story. Stick with it and you won't be disappointed

The Lemon Grove

The Lemon Grove - Helen Walsh "Jenn and Greg have been married for fourteen years, and, as the book opens, they are enjoying the last week of their annual summer holiday in Deia, a village in Majorca off the coast of southern Spain. Their days are languorous, the time passing by in a haze of rioja-soaked lunches, hours at the beach, and lazy afternoon sex in their beautiful villa. It is the perfect summer idyll . . . until Greg's teenage daughter (Jenn's stepdaughter), Emma, arrives with her new boyfriend, Nathan, in tow."

I have always been a fan of Helen Walsh's bold writing, her raw and brutally honest novels about the darker side of life are unforgettable.

The Lemon Grove is more mainstream than her earlier works and should bring Walsh a wider readership.

The setting is exquisite and the reader is transported to Deia, with startling imagery and gorgeous evocative writing - it feels dreamlike, an illusion almost.

The author excels at exploring the emotions of emptiness and disillusionment that leads the main character to embark on such a self destructive path of a double betrayal.

The situation in Villa Ana sizzles with sexual tension and given the perspective the reader is a voyeur watching, uncomfortably, through their fingers.

"He is wearing a pair of plain blue swimming shorts, otherwise he is naked before her. He is muscular but graceful with it, balletic. He is shockingly pretty. She is aware of the seeming impropriety of registering these details – he is seventeen – and yet she cannot tear her eyes away."

and that ending....
"Usually I have an idea of how I want my readers to feel at the end of a novel before I start. I wanted this to feel a bit like a bruise."

Currently reading

The Toy Taker by Luke Delaney
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
The Killing Lessons by Saul Black
Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas by Matt Lewis Thorne
The Martian by Andy Weir
Strangers by David Moody
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
The Twelve by Justin Cronin