#BookReview THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING by RACHEL DONOHUE #TheTempleHouseVanishing @ThePigeonHoleHQ

ABOUT THE BOOK

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…In an elite Catholic girls’ boarding-school the pupils live under the repressive, watchful gaze of the nuns. Seeking to break from the cloistered atmosphere two of the students – Louisa and Victoria – quickly become infatuated with their young, bohemian art teacher, and act out passionately as a result. That is, until he and Louisa suddenly disappear.Years later, a journalist uncovers the troubled past of the school and determines to resolve the mystery of the missing pair. The search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and uneasy consequences.


PUBLISHED BY  CORVUS


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon  £12.99

hive.co.uk  £10.55

whsmith  £10.65

MY REVIEW


I read this via the Pigeonhole app.

This was a dark, unsettling slow burn of a read that really explores the complexities of obsessive love and teenage girls. How growing up can be so tangled and traumatic, and how the art of love can cloud the judgement of those involved.

The story centres around a school where a teacher and young student went missing 25 years ago and the scandal has never really died down. So when a journalist gets the chance to investigate the story a little deeper, even she isn’t prepared for what she’s about to find out.

The story is also told from the viewpoints of the girls from the elite Catholic boarding school – Louisa and Victoria – who were involved at the time with the art teacher Mr Lavelle and his influence on them and other girls under his ‘charge’. This was always the unsettling part of the story for me – a teacher taking advantage of his position, knowing full well that the young girls were battling with their own identities and feeling vunerable. The more you read into the story though, the more you understand just how vindictive and manipulative that teenage girls can be!!

With the mystery into the whereabouts of the teacher and student being told slowly, we get to hear how the events affected everyone then and now – how they were seduced by personalities, probably in rebellion to the strict rules imposed on their day to day life at the school. This art teacher gave them the chance to express themselves more – some may have just taken that a little too literally!

I did find the ‘to and fro’ way of story telling a little confusing at times, and that may have affected my ability to connect more with these characters. They came across as quite heartless and that made it difficult to bond with them, but maybe that was their age showing and it was all just a front to save themselves from hurt. They were quick to put up walls to protect themselves when needed and that was how they dealt with the world around them. None of them wanted to appear vunerable as others would have taken advantage of that fact.

The viewpoint of the journalist was an interesting aspect – she had a vague connection with one of the girls and the area so that helped her delve a little deeper than others had gone, and she often seemed shocked by what she found out. Looking back at life at the school between the girls just goes to show how vicious young women can be – girls are evil!!! But they thought they were in love! They were deluded and their powers of rational thought had long gone so the consequences often proved to be more brutal than they should have been.

An interesting study of characters and a brooding read!


★★★

#BookReview THE BROKEN GIRLS by SIMONE ST JAMES #TheBrokenGirls

1950 – At the crumbling Idlewild Hall school for unwanted girls, four room-mates begin to bond over dark secrets and whispered fears – until one of them mysteriously disappears . . .

2014 – Journalist Fiona Sheridan can’t get over the murder of her sister twenty years ago, near the ruins of Idlewild. And when another body is found during renovations of the school, she begins to uncover horrors that were meant to remain hidden – and a voice that won’t be silenced.

For fans of Lisa Jewell and S.K. Tremayne, The Broken Girls is a chilling story of murder, revenge, and secrets that refuse to stay buried . . . 

published by  Wildfire

MY REVIEW

Knew very little about this book when I started it but it was the pick for the online book club I’m part of, and it was an inspired choice as I devoured it!! Full of mystery, murders and creepy goings on at an old school – it had the perfect mix of intrigue for me, alongside great storytelling and a mix of really fascinating characters, especially looking back at the 1950 timeline.

The story starts in 2014 with Fiona, a journalist, who is still haunted by the loss of her sister 20 years earlier. There’s a man in prison for the murder of Debbie, but there are still too many unanswered questions in Fiona’s head and her journalist brain won’t switch off until she feels settled with what went on that night. Her sister was found murdered on the playing fields of Idlewild Hall, an empty and long abandoned girls’ school, so when she hears that it has a new owner who plans to reopen the school she’s intent on finding out who the new owners are and what their plans are.

In the 1950 timeline we get to visit with girls who are at the school. And what a fascinating and creepy school it is! This is a darker version of Mallory Towers! The pupils all seemingly have their issues and have been sent there by their parents who have almost given up on them. So to the girls, they become family to one another. They all have differing pasts and quite traumatic too so you can’t help but feel sorry for these girls as they each reveal their story and their issues with the ghosts of Idlewild Hall. And the main ghost of Idlewild is Mary Hand – messages have been left in textbooks by girls over the years of their encounters with this scary girl and I really loved this aspect of the story – quite chilling! When one of the girls goes missing in 1950 her friends are quite shocked that very little effort is put into finding her and the effect that had on the remaining friends was quite profound.

The more that Fiona delves into the past of the school, and the link to her sisters’ murder, the more darkness is revealed and there’s also the intrigue behind the new owners and their links to the school. There are so many layers in this story that I always found something new to wonder over and try to figure out the significance and the sense of mystery and darkness kept me on tenterhooks throughout! Loved it!! Highly recommended!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour In Your Silence by Grace Lowrie @AccentPress @GraceLowrie1 #BookReview

Hugely delighted to be kicking things off for the IN YOUR SILENCE blog tour today! My thanks to the author and publisher for the copy of the book and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘A compelling, suspenseful, and hauntingly atmospheric read’ – Lynne Shelby, author of There She Goes 

‘A beautiful garden, flawed leads and twisted obsession combine in this erotic romance’ – Laura Wilkinson, author of Skin Deep 


Still reeling from a sudden and very one-sided break-up, Liam throws himself into his work and gets commissioned to restore the neglected grounds of a mansion, Wildham Hall, for its owner Gregory Sinclair.

It is there that Liam meets Melody, who is mute.

Liam has always suppressed the darkest side of himself, but as his clandestine liaison with Melody develops, she tests him and his deepest desires are dragged to the surface.

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Publisher Website

hive.co.uk

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With a background in art, prop-making and garden design, Grace has always been creative – but she is a romantic at heart and writing was, and is, her first love. An avid reader of fiction she prefers coffee and a sinister undercurrent over tea and chick lit, and has a soft spot for grumpy ginger tomcats.
When not making prop costumes or hanging out with her favourite nephews, she continues to write women’s fiction and romance novels from her Hertfordshire home.

 CONNECT WITH AUTHOR


Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

MY REVIEW

Another sizzler from Grace which brilliantly captures the passion of a relationship alongside an intriguing storyline that left me shocked at the twists and turns by the end!

The story centres around Liam and Melody.  He’s a gardener who has just split with a long time girlfriend, and is drawn to an advert for  a gardener needed at Wildham Hall.

Wildham Hall is home to Gregory and Melody – he wants the grounds restored which is music to Liam’s ears as he loves looking into the history of the house and gardens and wants to bring it all back to life, despite the huge undertaking ahead of him.

Melody is the mystery character of the book! She is a proofreader and spends most of her hours in the house, with Gregory being very overprotective towards her and seemingly keeping her ‘safe’ at home for her own protection.  She’s always used to being different as she’s mute  – something that puzzles Liam when he starts spotting her watching him from windows or hanging around in the garden.  They both seem intrigued by one another! He because she is totally different from anyone he has ever met before, and she because Liam is patient with her, he doesn’t ask too many questions and she feels she can trust him.

The  more time they spend together, the more their passion grows and it’s soon clear they have a much deeper connection to one another – not that everybody approves!!

I loved the mystery in this story!  So many question you find yourself asking throughout, and then I found myself totally shocked when finding out the answers!! Melody seems to be a quiet soul, often cruelly treated by the housekeeper, but Liam seems to bring out another side to her and she soon craves more of the outside world rather than the lonely existence she’d had up until now.

Their relationship is often hot and steamy, but there’s a real tenderness there too but there’s more to this story than their romance, and I loved the tension as secrets from the past finally get revealed!  Prepare to be shocked!!

★★★★

#BookReview #Audiobook Childish Spirits by Rob Keeley

ABOUT THE BOOK

When Ellie and her family move into Inchwood Manor, Ellie quickly discovers strange things are happening. Who is the mysterious boy at the window? What secrets lie within the abandoned nursery? Who is the woman who haunts Ellie’s dreams – and why has she returned to the Manor, after more than a century? Ellie finds herself entangled in a Victorian mystery of ghosts and tunnels and secret documents – and discovers that life all those years ago isn’t so different from the world she knows today…Rob Keeley’s first novel for children brings out all the ingredients of the classic ghost story within a recognisable modern world setting. 

Readers of his short story collections for children will find in Childish Spirits the elements which made his past books such a success – strong and contemporary characters, inventive twists on traditional themes, and a winning combination of action, suspense and humour.

published by Troubador Publishing

PURCHASE LINK – audio version

Amazon UK

THE AUTHOR

Author Website

Twitter – @RobKeeleyAuthor

MY REVIEW

Having come to this series late – I started with book 3 The Sword of the Spirit – I’ve been thrilled to be able to listen to the audio version of Book 1 to see where it all began and I loved how brilliant it was to hear it all brought to life, and loved the drama, mystery and humour throughout!

Ellie is the star of this series, and we find her moving to Inchwood Manor, along with her mum and older brother, as a new chapter of their life begins and her mum starts a new job helping prepare the old house to be opened to the public. Ellie is quite excited by the mve, the same can’t be said for her brother Charlie!

It doesn’t take Ellie long to notice a young boy watching her, and she’s braver than I would be when she starts exploring the Manor late at night when she starts hearing noises, and comes face to face with a prank pulling young boy called Edward! What follows then is her learning about the history of the house and finding out about the family who lived there, and why Edward seems to be trapped and so scared of his governess who still haunts the rooms too.

Ellie has this boundless enthusiasm that is infectious! She’s willing to throw herself into solving the mysteries of the Manor as well as helping Edward and it’s also a great way to learn about the differences between growing up now, and how Edward grew up in the Victorian years. There are some scary moments alongside quite emotional times when Edward is remembering his family and this was all brilliantly portrayed in the audio version too! It’s a great mix for readers (and listeners!) of all ages!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing how this fabulous series started – I love the mix of history to be learnt and mysteries to be solved, and my thanks go to the author and publisher for letting me have a copy of the audiobook in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★★

#BookReview The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell #bookblogger #TheDevilAspect

About the book

A terrifying novel set in Czechoslovakia in 1935, in which a brilliant young psychiatrist takes his new post at an asylum for the criminally insane that houses only six inmates–the country’s most depraved murderers–while, in Prague, a detective struggles to understand a brutal serial killer who has spread fear through the city, and who may have ties to the asylum 

In 1935, Viktor Kosrek, a psychiatrist newly trained by Carl Jung, arrives at the infamous Hrad Orlu Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The state-of-the-art facility is located in a medieval mountaintop castle outside of Prague, though the site is infamous for concealing dark secrets going back many generations. The asylum houses the country’s six most treacherous killers–known to the staff as The Woodcutter, The Clown, The Glass Collector, The Vegetarian, The Sciomancer, and The Demon–and Viktor hopes to use a new medical technique to prove that these patients share a common archetype of evil, a phenomenon known as The Devil Aspect. As he begins to learn the stunning secrets of these patients, five men and one woman, Viktor must face the disturbing possibility that these six may share another dark truth. 


Meanwhile, in Prague, fear grips the city as a phantom serial killer emerges in the dark alleys. Police investigator Lukas Smolak, desperate to locate the culprit (dubbed Leather Apron in the newspapers), realizes that the killer is imitating the most notorious serial killer from a century earlier–London’s Jack the Ripper. Smolak turns to the doctors at Hrad Orlu for their expertise with the psychotic criminal mind, though he worries that Leather Apron might have some connection to the six inmates in the asylum. 


Steeped in the folklore of Eastern Europe, and set in the shadow of Nazi darkness erupting just beyond the Czech border, this stylishly written, tightly coiled, richly imagined novel is propulsively entertaining, and impossible to put down.

Published by  Constable

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk

WHSmith

waterstones

MY REVIEW

Madness and Murder – what a belter of a combination!! And this book has it in bucket loads and kept me terrified and looking over my shoulder at every opportunity!

I loved the setting in a creepy old castle which is now home to the criminally insane – The Devil’s Six – and Dr Viktor Kosarek is a young psychiatrist is brought in to use new techniques to try and uncover just what made these people commit such horrific crimes. i loved how we got to hear the backstory of each of the Six while the Dr interviews them and the author pulls no punches in describing some of the gruesome crimes they committed! This is not a book to be read before bedtime!!

Meanwhile, there is a murderer on the loose, known as ‘Leather Apron’ who butchers his victims, and Kaptain Lukas is in charge of trying to get to the bottom of who this vile creature is and if there is any link to those inside the Asylum. There are links also to murders committed in London by Jack the ripper with the brutality used so this is another connection that needs to be looked into and the story allows for different avenues to be explored both from the police point, the psychiatrist view and that of the criminals themselves.

As Dr Viktor delves further into the past of the Six, he hears how each of them are convinced it wasn’t them committing their crimes but the devil himself. I really enjoyed his time spent with these six characters – they all could have had their own books written about them with the lives they’d led, and the lives they’d taken, but it was so interesting to see them up alongside one another so that Dr Viktor could see what links he could find between them all.

There is a great mix of a very strong plot line with this book alongside those of flawed characters throughout who had suffered in their pasts, and setting it in a dark period of history allowed there to be many twists that lead the reader up the garden path, so to speak, and I found it to be one of those books that you lose yourself in and one of those stories that stay with you for some time after you finish reading the last page! Beware the devil!!!

My thanks to the Author and Publisher for the book in return for a fair and honest review.

★★★★

#BlogTour The Duke and the Imposter by Michael Stolle #BookReview @Bookollective

Delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for THE DUKE AND THE IMPOSTER by MICHAEL STOLLE – and my thanks to the author, publisher and Bookollective for putting it all together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s a beautiful day in the seventeenth century. Pierre, Marquis de Beauvoir, Duke of Hertford and his small family arrive for a picnic on the banks of the River Loire in the grounds of his castle of Montrésor. It is a garden Eden – beautiful and peaceful. But fate strikes and, taken by surprise, the lunch party is ambushed.

Pierre is found later by his faithful valet, barely clinging to life, but his wife and only son have vanished without a trace. Beyond consolation, Pierre is convinced that his family has been annihilated. Luckily his friends François and Armand rush to the castle from Paris to his aid – and to investigate.

The quest leads to the coast of France and then on to the shores of England, a country torn apart by old loyalties to the Stuart king and the rise of the new Puritan gentry.

As the friends come closer and closer to the viper’s nest they must find out the truth, and track down the mastermind behind the ambush, who is prepared to stop at nothing until he has taken Pierre’s place and styled himself the next Duke of Hertford. A man not known to take prisoners. Soon Pierre and his friends are not only fighting against an enemy who’s ruthless and vile, they’re racing against time, the biggest enemy of all. 

Published by Amazon

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

MY REVIEW

This is the 5th book in this series, but my 1st so don’t worry about not having read any of the others! It’s really easy to get in to and is a great mix of history and mystery, so plenty to keep you engaged and entertained from page one to the last!

Set in 17th Century England and France, you follow the story of Pierre who is in pain and struggling to remember what happened to his family while they were out having a picnic. With no sign of his wife and child he fears the worst, but calls in his friends Francois and Armand to help try and figure out what happened and how to find out if his family are alright.

As Francois and Armand start to question those around, they soon uncover sinister goings on and then have a race against time to track Marie and her son down before it is too late.

I enjoyed the duo of Francois and Armand as they would often bicker and were very funny together but they had great detective skills between them! They used their contacts in London well and it was quite good fun trying to work out who they should trust. I also like the way the story was switched too from Marie’s point of view as it showed her being so brave for her son despite not knowing what was really going on.  It soon becomes clear why they wanted the young son so badly and why they went to the lengths they did to grab him and a lot is uncovered in clandestine meetings back in London that really get to the bottom of the plot against the family.  

Set in the time of Cromwell and King Charles I, England was in turmoil so there’s always plenty going on and lots to explore in how people were behaving at that time,  and I just enjoyed the quick pace of the story, the engaging characters and a fascinating period of history!

✶✶✶✶

#BookReview Things In Jars by Jess Kidd

About the book

London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist.

As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen.

Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.

Published by Canongate Books

Publication Date – 4th April 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Goldsboro Books  – signed first edition £14.99

hive.co.uk  £10.99

waterstones  £14.99

MY REVIEW

Move over Sherlock, Bridie Devine is the new super sleuth in town and I adore her! Jess Kidd has created another dark and wonderful tale set in Victorian times that explores the disturbing disappearance of a young girl, who has been kept hidden away because she’s ‘different’ – she feeds on snails, has an unusual appearance and is also said to possess powers.  The family she is stolen from are never too forthcoming with details about her, so it’s left to Bridie to uncover the dark story behind young Christabel, and that leads Bridie to look back on her own childhood too.

She isn’t alone on her quest as she is joined by the rather wonderful   Ruby, a ghost-boxer who appears in Bridie’s life at a seemingly random time! Is there more to his story than meets the eye?! He adds many lighter moments throughout with his comments and observations but also shows sensitivities which are very touching.

As she confronts many repulsive characters on the search for Christabel, the look back on her own earlier life is also a fascinating glimpse into why she feels so connected to this poor girl and why she is determined to try and save her.  

And while there is much love for Bridie and her quest, the evilness of many characters throughout is another success of this book! The levels of depravity that some of them sink to is eye-wateringly shocking and I just found myself wishing for karma to deal with them as soon as possible – in a very unpleasant way!!

I was utterly riveted by this story! And switching the story from the now timeline to Bridie’s past added more as she also had a very unconventional upbringing which explained her outlook on life – and death – now!  The more she uncovers about various characters, the more you left to be staggered by the goings on and I found that I had my heart in my mouth with the dramatic ending.

  I would love to say more about this book but am sure I would include a spoiler or three, so I’m just going to have to say if you love your stories dark, dramatic, mysterious, macabre, weird, wonderful, tense and thrilling then look no further!!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟