The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue #BookReview

 

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What’s it about?

Dead Woman’s Ditch. The site of a grisly two-hundred-year-old murder – and a recent hit and run. When a young woman’s body is found at the macabre landmark in Somerset’s Quantock Hills, DI Mike Lockyer and Sergeant Jane Bennett are called in to investigate.

They find a community gripped by fear and superstition. The locals won’t venture out at night, believing there’s a man stalking the hills; a phantom cloaked in folklore and legend, keeping the sinister legacy of Dead Woman’s Ditch alive.

Confronted by a hostile CID team and a murder victim with close ties to their own squad, Lockyer and Bennett will have to accept what they can’t see before they can find what’s really there . . .

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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Dead Woman’s Ditch, Great Bear, Will’s Neck, Frog Combe.. this is Shervage Woods, the incredible atmospheric setting of this story. Imagine driving home through the winding hills, passing cattle grids, the weather cold with rain hammering down and snow falling all around. A small village where the land still lends itself to ghost tales and plenty of legends, the one with John Walford not even nearly forgotten.

Dead Woman’s Ditch is the place where a woman, Jane, was killed in 1798 by her husband John Walford. A decade old murder finds root in a present case when there’s a woman found dead at the same place and the local population goes on and on about a link between the deaths. Other than the place there’s nothing that binds them, Walford is long dead, and yet. DI Lockyer doesn’t believe in legends and superstitions but the deeper he digs, the more stories he hears and he has to wonder if there really is a connection.

DI Mike Lockyer and DS Jane Bennett are assigned to the case in Somerset because there’s a London connection. In reality though he has to take control of the investigation without the present DI Bill Townsend knowing so. It seems people higher up aren’t very convinced about his competence and Lockyer has to agree, 3 days in and the investigation still stands nowhere. Townsend is convinced the girl was killed in a hit and run at best, but Lockyer conducts the investigation like it should, leaving no stone unturned and he discovers way way more than he bargained for. At the same time there’s also the voice of Steph, a young girl who has the feeling she’s being followed and is scared of driving home at night. Nobody takes her fears seriously though so she’s left to buckle up and just get on with it. I had the strongest sense of foreboding and if I could have spurred the team on myself I seriously would have.

I had no idea how this story was going to play out for such a long time, I kept wrecking my brain who could be behind all of this. I thought I paid attention to detail and figured it all out by myself while they were still fumbling about. I was dead wrong. I can’t say anything anymore than that I fell from surprise into surprise into surprise. No typo, it’s exactly what I mean. The middle part of the novel was maybe a little bit of nothing really big happening at all but it all came rushing down in one spectacular cascade. The ending of this case was great! Now I know why I loved the first novel so much again too, such a great reveal.

This novel can be read as a standalone but I read novel 1 and now number 4 and I advise you to do the same so that you can place the personal lives of Lockyer and Bennett better.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, PanMacmillan, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book folding tutorial: a simple heart / home

Tutorial

So I saw some examples of book folding (from someone selling some books) a while ago and I love the idea so much that I wanted to try it myself. I have clicked on numerous sites and read hours and hours about patterns and inversed letters and all and I’m just going to share a little bit of the basics today.

I found there are two different ways to conduct book folding. The first one is simply with a chart that tells you where you have to measure with a ruler. I’m going to do it this way later on and is method 1.

The second method is actually putting a picture with lines under your page and fold to the tip and bottom of each line. See where I put the pencil marks on the book, you have to fold there.

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We’re not there yet though, I also found you can fold in two different ways as well. You can eather fold your page in a 45 degree angle (which I will be doing with the heart because it was shown like this in the instructable I followed), or you can create a notch (with a knife or some sharp object that creates an indent) at a similar distance on the top and bottom pages and fold towards that point. I think this will create an even neater and more even look.

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Now let’s start !

What you will need:

  • An old book – preferably a hard back because it stands better on its own. Most designs ask for books with 400-500 pages but this beginner’s design only has 40 folded pages so a thin book is fine in this case
  • a ruler
  • a pencil
  • measurements (or a patterned design)

I agree, it’s not easy to ‘sacrifice’ a book but I had a very old copy of a novel (the Cal one) that was a mandatory read in school almost 20 years ago. I think it’s okay to let go now :-). The pages are all yellow as well so nobody would want to read it anyway.

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Turn the book so the left side is facing up:

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And then you make pencil markings, where you’ll have to fold. Now page 1 is not the first page of your book. You’ll have to calculate (or guess) where you’ll have to start so that it evens out on both sides a little. In this case it’s not hard because you know it’s 40 pages so count the middle of the book and 20 pages back.

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You can see here where I put the first marking (in centimeters as this is the metric system here) from the top and the second one (also from the top!). After marking you can fold both in as much of a straight line as possible, or you try the other method where you can fold towards the point where you made an indentation.

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This pattern is the easiest there is but Words are harder because some most letters like an R have interruptions and every time a letter crosses more sections on the same line it’ll need another fold on another page, so the page count for your folds increases fast this way.

If you have an inversed heart or other design it is done with little cuts in the paper’s edge and folding it back. I really like the way that looks as well. More for my to do list.

So you want to see the result? Here it is. Not too bad for a first try I think.

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So when I finished this I wanted to do another one 😉 and this is how I did Home using the second method :

And the result:

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So my experience so far:

  • The heart one was quite fun and easy to do! No frustrations here !
  • I guess you have to have a lot of patience if you do big designs but you can mark where you ended and restart another day easily
  • One of the most difficult things is figuring out where you have to start in a novel with folding the pages. You’ll have to count out how much pages you need before you start and with a graphic design it’s not so easy. And then you have to figure out on what page to start the folding. It must be horror if you’ve been folding for hours and you run out of pages ;-).
  • It’s not so easy to find (free) patterns. I found a lot about making your own designs with Photoshop and even in Word and tried some of it out but still didn’t manage to get an actual good design out of it.
  • You can find quite a few patterns on Etsy but again, they are mostly for thick books (450-500 pages) and they have to have a certain height as well.
  • There are plenty of youtube videos but the best tutorial, info and free templates (also the home one) I found on the site of Scrappy Sticky Icky Mess
  • I also found a template for Read and Love on the above site but I’m still troubled with counting out how many pages I need. I think a lot of pages and I don’t have a book now so it’ll have to wait until I find an old novel nobody wants anymore 🙂

 

So what did you think? You like the results of book folding? Tempted to try it out yourself? Let me know!

Zodiac by Sam Wilson #BookReview

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What’s it about?

In a society divided along Zodiac lines, status is cast at birth – and binding for life.

When seemingly random murders plague the city, is it a rebellion against the system or the work of a twisted serial killer? Zodiac is an imaginative and gripping thriller from debut author Sam Wilson.

Even for the most experienced detectives, every once in a while a murder can shake them to the core. Like when the Chief of Police is killed in his own home.

For Detective Jerome Burton, catching the killer will change his life forever.

Because this murder is only the first piece of a vast and twisted puzzle made of secrets, lies and tragedy.

The signs are everywhere. But is the truth written in the stars or hiding in the shadows?

amazon uk amazon com

Review

star three and a half

I really wanted to read this novel when I saw the stunning cover with that caption line. Those who know me won’t be surprised though if I tell that I really never read dystopian books. The first and last one I read was years ago and didn’t really appeal to me in the end. So it might be even more suprising if I say that I actually enjoyed Zodiac.

A lot of it of course is the merit of this really interesting concept of a society based on different signs and the idea that you can’t treat people of different signs the same way because people of different signs behave differently. Sounds plausible right ;-)? Right, until of course there’s a whole hierarchy based upon this principle and some signs are regarded more highly than others. This novel focuses mainly on 2, 3 signs: being a Capricorn or a Taurus brings you a good status, but the lowest sign of all is Aries. They are prone to violence, they live in bad neighbourhoods, they are the most unemployed and the biggest population in prison are Aries too. But then of course they get caught most because – according to some – they are sought out, a stop and search for them is the new norm. One of them who raises his voice against the oppression of his sign is Solomon Mahout, leader of Aries Rising. On the other side there’s also the RAM Squad, a special unit set up to control the Aries population.

I read it all with a lot of interest and really didn’t think I could get lost in this world as much as I did. There is an overview about each sign before the novel kicks-off. I was apprehensive about what I would find further on in the novel because the mention of a sci-fi and fantasy culture didn’t seem like it was talking about me as a Virgo. In the novel itself I did find one reference to my own sign that sounds more like it though ;-):

Virgos […] were smart and interesting and independent, but they were often so socially blunt that talking to them was like boxing.

Anyway, onto the story itself. The first murder victim they find was working at the police force in one of the highest ranks. Detective Jerome Burton is assigned to the investigation and gets help from astrologer Lindi Childs. She’s going to see if the murderer’s profile fits based on his birth charts. Riiiight. Queue my sigh ;-). Thankfully the weight of this approach wasn’t hanging over the novel at all :-). Burton has his own personal struggles too, about his sign and about the sign his unborn child will be born into. Children will be born sooner to get the right sign but that might have consequences for its health too of course. Of course there’s also fraud with birth certificates and there’s even a school, The True Signs Academy, for children who have to learn the necessary code of behaviour to fit into their sign then. There was obviously put a lot of thought in all of this and it’s strange but I was completely loving this!

At the same time there’s a guy (capricorn) Daniel who stumbled upon a secret his father kept from him and is following his own investigation with the help of some Aries kid he ran into. Until suddenly someone Burton interviews leads them to the same place. The thing that confused me a little were these two plotlines and it took me quite a while to realise that they don’t start out at the same time.. the plotline with Daniel starts much earlier than the other one but that wasn’t made clear, it’s actually years ago in the past and it’s only towards the ending that they are both coming together gloriously in the present.

The last part of the novel held threats, danger and quite a bit of battle and action. Unfortunately, I still didn’t grasp all that well what the murders were about in the end and I found that the motive for the murders wasn’t explained thoroughly enough. Personally, I found the world-building and everything in it a little more interesting than some people’s fantastical ideas but then it might be just me, so don’t let that put you off.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Broken Branches by Jonathan Lee #BookReview

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‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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Wow! I was a little bit afraid of a plotline centered around a curse – it sounded a little bit too fantastical already for me and I hadn’t even started it – but I can tell you that I didn’t need worrying. Yes of course there’s this talk of a curse, something that is passed on from generation to generation, from father to son, and even when it wasn’t clear from the beginning what this curse really entails, it was obvious that the tree in this novel is tied to it. The tree is important in the past and present, it is described often and detailed and fed the creepy feeling that goes along with a curse, yet it didn’t dominate the story too much, it was verging but never over the top in his creation of a kind of surreal atmosphere.

I’m just going with a brief outline here: the main characters are Ian and Rachel. She’s acting strange, distant, they don’t talk anymore, she sleeps alone.. you get the drift. He’s researching his family history, a tedious job. He hopes to find answers there and get their marriage back on the rails, if he ever gets through the stacks and stacks of paper in his study. Weird things are happening, it’s all very mysterious and I didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. Even though there were a lot of confusing events and no real answers, I didn’t even understand what he was trying to do compiling a family tree, it never annoyed me and I was and became invested in Ian’s life, even more so after he shared so many about his youth.

I really liked the character of Louisa, his grandmother, the most. She’s like a little ray of light in his past and it seems she was the only one friendly to him in his childhood and as a young adult. She’s straightforward, honest, righteous, kind. The contrast between her and his own parents was so big I felt it in my bones, the unfairness of it all.

I had no shortage of (in hindsight quite rediculous) theories about what was going on but had to give the story its time to unfold by its own accord.

I was pretty astonished when I realised right at the very end of the novel what the author just told me. He took this idea, something that is a delicate thing, but not all that uncommon, and created a perfect plotline around it. This is a memorable story. It was poignant, honest, and it had me under its spell.

I received a free copy of this novel from publisher Hideaway Fall in exchange for my honest opinion.

Brothers and Sisters by Adele O’Neill #BlogTour #Guestpost

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About the book

Nothing remains buried forever… What would you do to protect the ones you love?

A gripping, highly emotive story of love, survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty. Perfect for the fans of Kathryn Hughes and Dorothy Koomson.

When human remains are found on Fitzpatrick Estate, Detective Kelly is drawn deep into the complex web of Fitzpatrick family secrets as Timothy and his sister Rose, now in their sixties, are catapulted into the centre of the investigation.

When the pathology report identifies the remains as that of their uncle, Patrick Fitzpatrick, missing from Fitzpatrick Estate since 1970, they scramble to protect their past.

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

Buy links

Amazon | iBooks | Google Play

About Adele O’Neill

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Having lived and worked in the UK and Dublin since college, Adele now lives in her hometown of Arklow, Co. Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland, with her husband and two teenage daughters. She writes overlooking the Irish Sea and is an active member of the Wexford Literary Festival committee.

Follow Adele

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Guestpost

When your Characters have a mind of their own

When I first began to write Brothers and Sisters and the dark tale of sibling loyalty and the lengths we would go to, to protect the ones we love, I had a plan. A well-researched plan that brought me from the depths of Kilkenny checking the acidity of the soil to the corporate offices of London and Dublin, and plenty of other places in between. My characters were imagined and created with detail and purpose, the perfect narrators of a story that spanned five decades. My plot was riddled with impossible choices that resulted in devastating outcomes. All the makings of an un-put-down-able story, what can be the problem with that, I hear you say?

My characters decided how the story was going to end, that’s the problem. The devastating outcome that I spoke about and the perfectly planned and meticulously plotted ending that I had imagined wasn’t happening all because my characters had a say.

Liken it if you will to the development of your child. The parent being the author and the character being the child.  You plan and fantasise about how wonderful they will be, you anticipate their arrival with excited musings of their future. You nurture and nourish them, investing your time and energy giving them every chance to become fully formed contributing individuals and then one day, everything you have hoped for them, everything you have wished for them happens, they become independent, will-full thinkers, the architects of their own destiny. My characters grew and developed a mind of their own, they had a plan for how this story was to unfold and who was I to tell them otherwise.

Normally, the writing process for me is planned, organised and researched. Before I place a finger on the keyboard, I like to know who I’m working with. What my character’s motivations are, what they like and don’t like and where their limits lie just so I can push them a little past it. I like to know where the characters are coming from and where they’re going to end up so when Rose and her brother Tim had other ideas for the devastating outcome and who was going to be on the receiving end of it, I was as surprised as I hope all the readers of Brothers and Sisters will be. I shouldn’t complain though, it was their loyalty to each other, the loyalty and bond that I imagined for them that put us on this detour.

If I had one piece of advice to other writers it is this; listen to what your characters have to say, you may be as surprised as you want your reader to be!

Follow Aria

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Take a look at the other tour stops too! Tomorrow: Love Books Group

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Goodreads Monday (July 2017)

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I saw this meme on Books, Vertigo and Tea and I thought this one seemed fun to join and feature on my blog from time to time as well! The original post of Goodreads Monday was posted by Lauren’s Page Turners. Thank you Lauren for this great idea. This really is a great way to help me take another look at all the books added to the wishlist so long ago and at the same time I can share some interesting titles.

There’s only one rule: Simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to link back to Lauren’s Page turners and add your own links!

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Added on 02 March 2016 : Dead Silent by Mark Roberts

This novel has a 3.86 star rating on Goodreads (of which 68 five stars and 70 four stars). I completely forgot all about this novel but after reading the blurb again.. I’m still intrigued and I really like books with symbolism so it’s still a keeper :-).

 

Dead Silent

HIS LIFE WAS DEVOTED TO ART.
HIS DEATH WAS A MASTERPIECE.

Leonard Lawson was a respected professor of medieval art. He lived a quiet life in a suburb of Liverpool with his grown-up daughter. As far as anyone knew, he had no enemies.

Louise Lawson watched her father die. Before she blacked out, she saw his body mutilated and deformed, twisted into a hellish parody of the artworks he loved.

Investigating a killer bringing medieval horror to Merseyside, DCI Eve Clay must overcome her own demons to unpick the dark symbolism of the crime scene. A fifty-year silence has been broken – with a message written in blood…

So what do you think, would you read it or not? I might be mistaken but it’s got a bit of a Dan Brown vibe for me. 

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen #BookReview

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What’s it about?

She knows there’s a killer on the loose.
But no-one believes her.
Will she be next?

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

amazon uk amazon com

Review

star three and a half

Hannah is staying in a private pschychatric clinic and it seems it wasn’t entirely out of her own volition. The reason for her stay is carefully dodged but I’m great at making lists of possibilities in my head and cross-referencing them with details I find so I thought I had her backstory figured out quite soon. I was pleasantly surprised my nose was pointed in the right direction and that I didn’t have to wait for the reveal of her reasons to stay until the end of the novel, which was what I kind of expected. It was a pretty little bomb dropped at the exact moment that you’ve got that feeling that you really just have to know now ‘what exactly is going on’ and I can only say that it’s very much in line with what I was expecting from Ms. Cohen. If you’ve read other books by this author, you know that there’s no limit to what she can write and in my books she’s known for her great plot twists and plotlines that are running very deep and are intricately crafted. A great start of this novel because Hannah suddenly becomes a very unreliable narrator, there’s no denying that you’ll have her backstory in your mind all the way through now. I’m still impressed with how cleverly she made Hannah to be doubted now at all times. A woman who did ‘that’ is surely not to be trusted?

Hannah’s convinced two of the patients there – one of them happened to be one of her best friends – didn’t kill themself.

“I’m frightened. I’m frightened that I’m right and I’ll be next. I’m even more frightened that I’m wrong, in which case I’m as crazy as they all think I am.”

Then her mother finds a picture of a woman on her daughter’s nightstand with the eyes pierced out. Who is she and why so much hatred? She starts investigating on her own and soon enough you can’t stop but wonder if the threat is actually coming from in- or outside the clinic.

People are lying and not everybody is who he or she claims they are and it’s up to Hannah and her mother to dig around and make people talk. Lots of deceit and lies to go round but are any of these people responsible for killing someone? I knew the who early on and the author didn’t really disguise it all that much, it’s not like it all really came out of the blue, so what really intrigued me the most was finding out why? What was the motive? And is Hannah in real danger?

As I was racing towards the end, I got really on edge how this was going to go down… I felt fearful but also relished that sense of danger lurking in the shadows. Ms. Cohen held out a long time and made me wait for it, keeping me on tenterhooks for the grand finale!

Maybe this isn’t my favorite novel by her, I still think When She Was Bad or Dying for Christmas proved to be just that little more exciting and sinister but it was still a good read with a couple of nice twists!

I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.