Wednesday 21 April 2021

Vanished by James Delargy


The Kane family, Lorcan, Naiyana and their young son, are desperate to move their young family far away from the hustle and bustle of modern city life in Perth.

The abandoned town of Kallayee, an abandoned mining town in the Great Victoria Desert, seems like the perfectg etaway: no one has lived there for decades. It will be peaceful. Quiet. Secure.

But life in Kallayee isn’t quite as straightforward as they hope. Lights flicker at night. There are noises in the earth, mysterious shadows and tracks in the dust as if their presence is breathing new life back into the long-dead town.

Lorcan and Naiyana refuse to leave. No one can talk sense into them.

And now, no one can talk to them at all.

They’ve simply vanished.

 So, we have a 'vanished' family, the police officer in charge of finding them and their separate viewpoints lead most of the narrative (although some minor characters have their moments too). The story flicks between then and now to lead the reader along (but not always to where you might be expecting). If this sounds vague that's only because I really don't want to spoilerise things for you. 

 One thing I couldn't shake was how, in the early stages of the story the family heard noises in the 'deserted' town and the young kid 'sees people' it reminded me so much of The Famous Five. As things progress though and we get down to the nitty gritty though the pages start to fly by, the answers you think you have change every ten minutes (ish). 

 A cracking mystery thriller set in the marvellous Australian Outback (I've read a few this year set in Australia and am hoping for more - certainly makes a change from the usual NYC, LA,Vegas, London et al) 


The Nirvana Effect by Brian Pinkerton


No one goes out anymore.

Society is sheltered indoors. The economy is in ruins. People spend their lives addicted to a breakthrough virtual reality technology, desperate for escapism in a troubled world. The Nirvana Effect has taken over.

Aaron and Clarissa are members of a subculture of realists who resist the lure of a fake utopia. They watch in horror as the technology spreads across the country with willing participants who easily forgo their freedoms for false pleasures. When the young couple discovers a plot to enforce compliance for mind control, the battle for free will begins. What started as a playful diversion turns deadly. The future of the human race is at stake.

 Well, this novel is certainly one to make you think. The idea of the majority of the population being hooked to a VR system that leaves them ignoring everything and everyone may seem far fetched but is it really that far from where we are with social media today? The main character, Aaron, isn't your regular hero (a bit on the bland side at times) but having someone who is just trying to do the best he can is kinda refreshing. The whole idea of the government looking at the VR addiction and thinking "hey, yeah, we can use that to our advantage" also felt scarily real. 

I'll be honest and say I have never read any of Pinkerton's books before but if they are half as good as The Nirvana Effect is then I'll be seeking out as many as I can. 

 At a time when so many people have been socially isolating maybe 'Nirvana' isn't too far away. Now there's food for thought


Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blogtour and to Flame Tree Press for providing a review copy. Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

Tuesday 20 April 2021

Bluemantle by Karen Langston



Set in the sun-scorched city of Wydeye, the totalitarian Authority controls its citizens through fear and cultivated dependence. Live music is deemed a threat to order and is forbidden by law. Punishment for participation is severe.

Chase Newell discovers his sister is missing. His search for her leads him to the underground music Scene, with its ageless Troubadours who must risk their lives to perform in order to survive. To do this, they rely on Bluemantle.

As the Authority's control-obsessed leader, Governor Blix, and her evil-incarnate Chief of Command, Wulfwin, step up their efforts to seize the Troubadours and destroy the Scene, the risks escalate.

While the Troubadours are forced to act, will the citizens of Wydeye wake up to Bluemantle's invitation and find choice beyond the caves of their own making?

The setting of Wydeye really worked for me in this. The drudge of life under the control of the Authority versus the wild exuberance of The Scene is vastly different and the feeling of 'impending doom' facing the musicians is well translated onto the page. The villainy of Blix and Wulfwin could have strayed into 'cartoon character pastiche' but thankfully didn't. 

What really surprised me with Bluemantle was that, until I started reading it I didn't realise just how much I needed it. With things as they have been for the past year the music scene here is practically non existent and this book shows, through the Troubadours and The Scene just how much we would miss live music if it wasn't there. 

The storytelling is top-notch and deserves a rockin' soundtrack 

A highly recommended 5/5*

Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the Blogtour and please have a look at the posts by the other reviewers (below). 

When things open back up remember to support live music - you'll miss it when it's gone 😉

Friday 16 April 2021

Resourceful Living by Lisa Dawson


Welcome to my spot on the Blogtour for Resourceful Living, the new book by multi-award winning interior design blogger and writer Lisa Dawson. 

Now, I know this isn't usually my kind of thing but on looking at the ideas I decided to have a look and am glad I did. The general gist of Resourceful Living is how to make your home as lovely as you want to without breaking the bank. With such ideas as repurposing and upcycling, adding the right colour to the right room and even just little things like what to put where Lisa Dawson shows how to get the best out of everything for your home. 

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout so is also lovely just to look at, before you choose to take on a project. And the projects are presented in such a way that they seem 'do-able' (even to someone as clueless about these things as me!) 

So, a beautifully presented, easy to follow book that will show you how to get the best out of your rooms and turn a house into a home. The investment in purchasing this book will save you lots

5/5* Highly Recommended 

Thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour. Please take time to have a look at the other bloggers who are taking part if you get the chance 

Monday 12 April 2021

The Whispers by Heidi Perks


A missing wife. Four friends. Who is telling the truth?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband, a son she adores, a perfect life… surely she wouldn’t abandon them. And if not, then something terrible must have happened.

It’s not long before the rumours start at the school gates where this group of friends all met. What exactly happened on that mum’s night out?

Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And as the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks…

 Grace and Anna were friends from age 5 to the time Grace left for Australia age 17. Now, years later Grace is back and hopes to pick up their friendship where they left off but Anna has her perfect family now and a new set of friends. All things come to a head when, after a night out Anna disappears. As the search for her goes on so the twists begin. What is the secret from Grace and Anna's childhood? Who are Anna's new friends? Who is telling the truth? 

 Told from several conflicting points of view this, Perks' 4th novel kept me guessing and changing my mind as to just what was what for most of my read (and yeah, it's a cliché but it kept me reading nights later than I intended).

 The way the tension was built up was very well done and I felt real dislike for several of the 'Schoolgate Mummy's' (but in a good way, if that makes sense - it helps to have characters you love to hate, the ones only too happy to say what others only think) 

 The only downside was that it took a while to 'get going', a bit of a slow burn at first. 

Recommended 3.8/5*

Many thanks to Rachel Kennedy at Penguin Random House for inviting me onto this Blogtour and please have a look at the reviews by the other lovely bloggers involved (below) 



Wednesday 7 April 2021

7 Days in Hell by Iseult Murphy



 Nestled between counties Limerick and Cork in Southern Ireland, something evil lurks in the place of High Death.When Vicky’s boss offers her a free vacation in a self-catering cottage over Halloween break, she jumps at the chance to spend quality time with her twin sister, Irene, and Irene’s miniature schnauzer, Ronnie.The village of Basard may boast Ireland’s longest running Halloween celebration, and one of the country’s best preserved standing stone circles, but Vicky finds the place rather dead. What’s more, she can’t sleep for the nightly roars of a distant crowd.Will the twins survive this Halloween vacation to wake the dead, when their 7 days in paradise turns into 7 Days in Hell


 As someone who had many childhood holidays in a remote cottage (Yorkshire Dale's not Ireland and certainly not as horror strewn as this tale) this novel really agreed with my tastes. Going off to somewhere where everyone knows everyone else and you are the outsider isn't always easy, as twins Vicky and Irene soon found out. When something feels too good to be true etc etc is proven to be true when the twins get a chance of a free holiday. 

 The people of the village of Busard are suitably sinister in their ways and things soon go from scares to out and out gore. The Irishness (is that even a word? It is now 😉) of the characters felt true, not like a comedy pastiche which I really appreciated as it gave it a sense of reality. 

 There are moments that will make people uncomfortable but they didn't spoil things for me. 7 days in Hell is the first Iseult Murphy book I have read but it certainly isn't the last



Whisper Down The Lane by Clay Mcleod Chapman


 OK, I'll be straight up from the start, although I grew up in the 80s I have no recollection of the 'Satanic Panic' but I'm guessing that could be because it was an American thing and I was in the UK. Anyhow, I looked into it online and, being honest, it was more than a little crazy. Anyhoo, onto the book itself.

 The main premise of this story is 'what happens when you tell a white lie and things spiral out of control'. There are two strings to the story, one featuring Sean, a five year old in the 80s and then 30 years later we meet Sean again, now called Richard.

 Sean is the boy who told the white lie after a letter from school states that his favourite teacher is under investigation. The 'white lie', as I said before, spirals way out of control but who is actually at fault? Is it Sean, is it his mother or is it the media. I kind of understood the reasoning behind it from the family point of view but certainly can't agree with it.

 And so we move on 30 years and Sean, now going by the name Richard, is settling down to married life and a job as a school art teacher. He's doing his best to forget his past. All is going well until events conspire to show someone knows what happened and who Richard really is . . . and it's time for payback.

 Being honest I found Sean quite annoying and didn't particularly engage with his strand but Richard was a totally the opposite. This was really suspenseful and kept me guessing as to who was behind it all. I changed my mind several times.

  The author did a good job of keeping the two different eras feeling different, which helped a lot with the flow and it intrigued me enough to look into the Satanic Panic (although not for too long - those were crazy times)

 On the downside I didn't feel comfortable with the animal cruelty. This was not a huge part of the story but this is a thing that always puts me about when reading. I see how it was relative to the story and fits with the horror themes but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

 A good read but should come with a trigger warning