Book Review:The Nursery by Bill Thompson

“A house that sat empty for fifty years as its dead owner instructed. A locked room with no key. A single father with eight-year-old twin girls. A dusty, dank nursery from long ago that no child ever played in.”

The Nursery is actually third in the Bayou Haunting series. It’s probably best I didn’t know this when I requested it as it would have put me off and I really enjoyed it. If you’ve read any of my other reviews you’ll know I love me a haunted house story. The style the book was written was different but I liked it. It drew me in and I have to admit I found it hard to put down. When widower Jordan Blanchard sees a too good to be true opportunity in a sprawling house that would home both his business and his twin daughters, he can’t help but jump at the chance to buy it. There were some quirky requests left by the previous owner but nothing too concerning, so he thinks. Even when the girls find the key to the nursery that had been missing, he is not too concerned if not intrigued by the mystery. Soon, it becomes clear that they are not alone in the house when a tragedy occurs. There is something in the house that coverts the thing Jordan holds most dear. There is also another danger lurking in the shadows.

I loved the descriptions in the book of the house and the back story of the haunting. I was intrigued by the ghost hunter character, Landry and Callie (who is the main character in the first book).

Jordan could be both a likable and rather annoying character. As a father he was good but he has some monumental temper tantrums. Putting that aside it says something that as soon as I’d finished the book, I downloaded the first book of the series, as I enjoyed it so much.

4/5…Spooktacular mystery…just my cup of tea.

Thank you to NetGalley for this e-arc copy for an honest review.

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Happy New Year!

Belated I know but Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great Yule/Christmas/Winter celebration. I find the holidays quite a stressful time as a neuro-diverse household there are a number of challenges we face but I tend to go into festive meltdown and this year was no different, hence why there have been no reviews or updates for the last few weeks. However, New Year and new meds and I’m crawling out of the murky woods of my poor battered brain, dragging my soul behind me.

So, I’ve not been watching much in the way of movies mainly reading and I’ll get up to date on my book reviews. My son has Fallout 76 and my husband has commandeered the TV and stolen it…it’s become his new hyper focus. It’s easier to curl up and read than to await my turn to watch something.

Every year I do the annoying resolution thing, even saying I won’t do the resolution thing but secretly start doing some resolution type thingy. I haven’t this year….as such…I felt so strung out by Christmas, food, alcohol and general chaos I’ve just made some changes for January and see how long they last for. It’s no good putting pressure on myself. So, I haven’t had an alcoholic drink this year. I only tend to have some wine at the weekends but it still knocks me for six (I shouldn’t really with the medication I am on), throws my routine out and makes my IBS flare up. I have not drank any soda, cola or fizzy pop this week. This is a big one for me. I have always been quite militant about my fizzy treat, it’s diet…it doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s not like it’s meth. However, my reflexology tutor has been filling my head up with diet coke horror stories and I want to prove to myself I can give it up. I have jumped on the Veganuary bandwagon. I used to be vegetarian until it made me ill. Actually, what made me ill was bad nutritional choices. There is so much more choice now, veganism resonates with my beliefs and ethics. I have been making plant based choices for about 5 days now and I’m really enjoying it. I actually see this one lasting long term. I’m feeling all together cleansed with my new healthier life choices. It is helping my mental health (or my new anti-psychotics are)…if you could have seen the state of me a week ago today, the change is dramatic. Oh, I have come off Facebook. That was another time leech of mine. All those negative thoughts and dramas were not helping me. Facebook has been one of the hardest to keep up. This tells me a lot about my habit of social media. However, it also quite freeing. I thought I’d give it a week and now I have I’m going to give it another. I have discovered I’m in no rush. Anyway, I can use Instagram for my self gratification of posting vegan food photos for likes #feellikeihavejoinedacult ­čśë

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Book Review: The Window by Glenn Rolfe (2018)

“What kind of demons await you tonight?

For Richie, life’s constant cheap shots are adding up. When he finds something is watching him, he never dreamed that it would show him everything he ever wanted.

When his son, James, comes to stay for the last month of summer, the changes in his father’s behavior come to the forefront. What is his father doing staring into the window in the middle of the night? Was the fiery spark in the dark real? Or is Jame’s imagination getting the best of him? Summer’s almost over. And life is about to change. Will James be able to save his father? Or is it already too late? The Window holds the answers…and the key.”

The Window is a grubby kind of horror….is that unfair to say? It’s certainly graphic sexually, there are a number of “ewwww gross” moments. I know that makes me sound like a 10 year old but maybe I’m channeling James, one of the characters. So, the premise of The Window is that there are a pair of demons trapped in glass looking for victims…people with weaknesses…to corrupt and inhabit so they can be free. Ritchie isn’t a bad person but he’s at a weak point in his life, heavily drinking and his self esteem is at an all time low. His son has come to visit and soon realises that things aren’t normal as his dad starts to change and drives away his patient but downtrodden girlfriend. It was a fun story…if you like horror fun (!) like me…like a few books I’ve read in 2018 it has an 80’s reminiscent about it (A Stranger Things influence maybe). Summer is ending, group of kids, adults acting strange…a bully…

The ending for me spoiled it. It became somewhat biblical. There was a rushed feeling to it and some very convenient plot points….it is apparently very easy to find obscure demonology online and associated rituals (maybe I don’t look in the right places).

3/5….well written for most parts but starts to become preachy at the end…was I supposed to convert upon finishing?

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Movie Review: Christmas Presence (2018)

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I found A Christmas Presence on the Shudder channel. After 10 minutes in I thought what the hell am I watching?! It was visually OK but the characters/actors were awful from the outset.

Group of friends meet up at a house in the countryside for Christmas. They are cliche and grating. I liked the Welsh woman but the rest I didn’t care if they lived or died. The token gay guy, the main girl who has a tragic past, the new age counsellor something with her downtrodden husband (who I recognise from Coronation Street) and the Welsh ladies partner, an annoying wannabe writer. My problem is the cliche of the friend group, we’ve seen it all before….it’s painting by numbers horror. Maybe it was meant to be humorous but I didn’t get it. Anyway, they are haunted by what scares them most…killed off…convenient ending. I enjoyed the visuals but I felt sometimes the script was attempting to be ironic, sometimes with a need to get some politics in there…trying too hard. Trying too hard to be horror comedy (?) but not reaching it for me. I’ve read other glowing reviews, they must have gotten something out of this movie I didn’t but it definately forgettable for me. The boy wandered off and started making light sabers out of wrapping paper rolls.

4 out of 10. Disappointing.

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Book Review: The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

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I really want to go to Edinburgh. It’s on my bucket list and this book made me want to go more. The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish is a creepy tale based in Edinburgh, which is where that tangent came from.

Hannah gets her dream job as a guide in a historical part of Edinburgh. She’s leaving behind her old life and is looking forward to starting a new one. However, the past comes haunting her and not the one she expected. Soon after she starts her job, she starts to experience unusual occurrences and glimpses through time. Finding a friend in her colleague, Mairead, she has someone to share her experiences with but when she goes missing there is mystery to unravel. Also, the spirits become more violent and one seems to have a vendetta against her.

Part ghost story and part time slip, this is a good (ish) read. There were some quibbles…overuse of the word “raucous” started to annoy me. I thought the links between the characters investigating the haunting’s were tenuous. Also, I felt maybe there was too much story if that makes sense. It could have been more effective with less. The ending was interesting and unexpected. All in all, a good ghost tale 3.5 out of 5. I would read more by this author.

Due to published in early January 2019. Thanks for this copy from Netgalley and Flame Tree Press for an honest review.

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Movie Review: Mom and Dad (2017)

I approached Mom and Dad with some trepidation as I have a love/hate relationship with Nicholas Cage. I hated him on sight but then he did some good stuff like Raising Arizona so I started to warm to him until the Wicker Man remake (don’t get me started) and the awful Pay the Ghost.

The boy said we need to watch it because it’s like Children of the Corn in reverse. To start with the boy has never seen Children of the Corn. Also Mom and Dad is NOTHING like Children of the Corn. BUT I did really enjoy it. Just don’t believe teenage boys trying to sell it to you.

Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair are parents of a boy and a girl. On the surface everything seems perfect but as the movie moves on you can see the relationship tensions between the two, Nicholas Cage’s character having a mid life crisis (just a bit late, he is 54!). Something starts affecting the parents all over, some kind of signal and now they want to kill their offspring….not all children, just their own. This means a fight for survival for the siblings as their parents find inventive ways to try and kill them. This means however that they have something to unify…in a way their murderous intent brings them together.

The boy says that overall it was a pretty good movie he rates it as a 7.3/10. He says the director (Brian Taylor) tried to redo the style in the style of his movie Crank and it didn’t quite work in this one. As a side note: Brian Taylor was involved in Happy and I LOVED Happy, in fact the Santa┬ácharacter from Happy was a teacher in Mom and Dad.

7/10. Good evil parental fun.

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Movie Review: Better Watch Out (2016)

Looking for festive horror I came across this title on Sky Movies, “Better Watch Out”.

Ashley is babysitting Luke while his parents go out for a Christmas party. His mum is Virginia Madsen of Candy Man fame and we identified his father as the bloke who is in everything, Patrick Warburton. Anyway, Josh fancies Ashley and thinks he is in with a chance even though his best friend, Garrett makes it clear he thinks she’s out of Luke’s league. However, Luke’s seduction plan goes awry when strange things start happening and a window is smashed. Someone is in the house and Ashley tries to protect Luke. But all is not what it seems as it turns into a night of terror for Ashley.

I don’t want to give the story away but it was entertaining horror that reminded me of a twisted home alone/80’s style horror comedy. Go into it expecting tongue in cheek cheesy horror.

The boys input is that it was a good twist but the main villain needed work.

We both agreed on 7/10. Good twist but don’t expect too much. It was a laugh.

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Book Review: The Memory by Lucy Dawson

The Memory by Lucy Dawson tells a story of how the past damages the present, secrets and lies, all with a touch of the supernatural. I was caught up in this thriller and finished it within days.

Eve and her daughter, Isobel live in Fox Cottage with it crumbling around them. She is desperate to leave and start a new life but Isobel and the past are holding her back. An incident from Isobel’s childhood has traumatized her and she is still stuck as very much a little girl in a beautiful adults body with the voice of a child. Eve, herself has things she has done that she is not proud of but her first priority is her damaged daughter. Eve thinks she knows her daughter but even Isobel has secrets.

Claire, Tim and Rosie buy Fox Cottage with the idea of renovating it. However, the past comes calling for them as well as secrets and lies become exposed. Claire is thrown into a situation she’s not prepared for as she is the only one (except her child) that does not have the shared trauma of that day when they were 7 years old.

I was NOT expecting the ending. Great psychological thriller with a subtle supernatural twist. 4/5.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this eArc copy for an honest review.

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Book Review: Hark the Herald Angels Scream (Edited: Christopher Golden)

I thought Hark the Herald Angels Scream was an apt review considering the fast approaching festive season. Edited by Christopher Golden, this collection of horrific festive tales (18 in fact) makes a welcome detour from the usual traditional Victorian ghost stories of Christmas. There are are classic stories, modern day fables and just plain old gory horror. I’m a little sad it’s ended.

I think my favourite was Sarah Pinborough’s “The Hangman’s Bride”, the story of a young chimney sweep trapped in a house where something skitters and crawls in the dark of the night.

“Christmas in Barcelona” by Scott Smith nearly finished me off. It was so good but I was also horrified. A couple with a new baby travel to Barcelona for Christmas but everything seems to be going wrong, until on a trek to a supermarket, the husband meets an old lady with the most magical of toys.

I enjoyed “Not Just for Christmas” by Sarah Lotz. Very topical and a great morality tale. This is the story of a very special puppy and a dad whose first interest is himself.

I found “Good Deeds” by Jeff Strand very amusing. If you have a dark sense of humor like me and my husband. A man does a good deed and is so caught up on what a good person he is, writes a song that has an unusual effect.

“Farrow Street” by Elizabeth Hand didn’t work for me. It took too long to get going and then ended when it started to get interesting.

Hiking Through by Micheal Koryta was a story of a ghostly witch and campfire tales. I enjoyed this one very much,

On the whole, I would rate this collection of horrific wintery tales, a 4/5.

This was a eArc copy provided by NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an honest review. Many Thanks!

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Book Review: The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz (2011)

Blood, gore and sex pretty much sum this brutal horror tale, The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.

Ben and Eddie are composers and currently are working on a score for a new horror movie except Ben has writers block. Eddie rents Castle Blackwood based on an island called The Sorrows for a month, hoping the spooky atmosphere and the folklore that surrounds the area will inspire Ben to write. They bring Eve, the sexy glamorous assistant/girlfriend of the movie producer, Lee Stanley who is paying them to produce the music for his film. Also, Claire, a wannabe composer, who they met at a party (!), who is less glamorous and often portrayed in an unflattering way. As soon as they get there they start having unsettling dreams. An ancient monster roams the island and shades of tragedy. Eve finds her erotic dreams becoming too real. Eddie is haunted by past sins. Ben is haunted by fears for his son and Claire’s self hatred manifests in reality. Flashbacks in the form of a diary tell the story of how the monster was created and origin story.

The problem is, it wasn’t for me. Sexual violence makes me uncomfortable and it contains this a great deal. Sexual references involving animals also makes me uncomfortable. I found I disliked the characters mostly. Ben was OK but he became superman, running around with broken ribs etc. Claire was OK but I has issues with her following a group of strangers to an island for a month, she was a groupie really. Everybody seems to be trying to get into each others pants. I wasn’t a fan of the flashback diary entry chapters and yet again the characters were in my opinion unlikable. Certain parts of the story just didn’t make sense, like how come the property is in good repair and waiting for them when it has been uninhabited for so long. Certain characters very conveniently turn up. I struggled to get through this book. I think the writing is fine, it is well written and it flowed well. I could imagine it as a movie, certainly a video nasty. I don’t want to criticise the authors ability but the stories content and some of the style didn’t work for me.

3/5….Nasty, gore and sex if you like that sort of thing.

Thank you to Flame Tree Press and NetGalley for eArc copy for an honest review.

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