Sunday, November 17, 2019

Random Things Tour - Hearthstone Cottage


I want to send my thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours, Flame Tree Press and Frazer Lee for a chance to read Lee's newest release, Hearthstone Cottage.  Make sure you check out everyone's reviews.

TITLE: Hearthstone Cottage
AUTHOR: Frazer Lee
PUBLISHER: Flame Tree Press
PUBLISHING DATE: October 24, 2019


FROM GOODREADS:  Mike Carter and his girlfriend Helen, along with their friends Alex and Kay, travel to a remote loch side cottage for a post-graduation holiday. But their celebrations are short-lived when they hit and kill a stag on the road. Alex s sister Meggie awaits them in the cottage, adding to the tension when her dog, Oscar, goes missing. Mike becomes haunted by a disturbing presence in the cottage, and is hunted by threatening figures in the highland fog. Reeling from a shock revelation, Mike begins to lose his grip on his sanity. As the dark secrets of the past conspire to destroy the bonds of friendship, Mike must uncover the terrifying truth dwelling within the walls of Hearthstone Cottage.

MY THOUGHTS: So Mike, Helen, Kay and Alex are celebrating their recent university graduation but spending a few weeks at Hearthstone Cottage, a remote residence owned by Alex's family.  When they arrive, they find Alex's sister Meggie already there and since she has no real intention of leaving, she joins in with the group but the strain she adds to the group is evident from the start.  Meggie's dog soon goes missing, Mike learns so new from his girlfriend that sends his life into a spin, and this is just the tip of the iceberg in Lee's newest novel.

Let me start my letting you know what I liked about the novel.  I really enjoyed the location and how eerie the cottage, as well as the nearby town, is right from the start.  I also like the idea of some best friends having a last hurrah before they start adulting. Mike was not really a likable character and I felt he needed to grow up the most of all the main players, but it didn't effect the book because it was enjoyable watching him spiral out of control.  Lee's writing was also very atmospheric.  The countryside is desolate and moody and was an ideal backdrop for his tale.  However be wary for  Hearthstone Cottage is a bit of a slow burn which might turn some people off, but not me.

I enjoyed the plot for the most part until I didn't.  However, I don't really want to dwell on those aspects.  Let's just say something happened.  Yes, Oscar the dog goes missing, and I was prepared for that.  But then something else happened which honestly effected me so strongly that I couldn't continue.  Yet, I really wanted to.  I'm still kind of curious about how the book ends.  And maybe someday I'll continue on.  I don't want my lack of finishing to reflect negatively on Hearthstone Cottage.  I will definitely be picking up Lee's work again.  I think he is a great addition to the horror genre.  Because of these issues, I'm not giving the book a rating.  I think plenty of people will really enjoy this horror novel and hope that despite my rambling, my visitors will be able to tell that on the whole, I had very few problems with the book.  The only thing is the one I did was major.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

ANIMAL CRUELTY TRIGGER:  Multiple dog deaths.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frazer Lee is a novelist, screenwriter and filmmaker. His screenplay credits include the acclaimed horror/thriller feature Panic Button,and multi-award winning short films On Edge, Red Lines, Simone and The Stay. Frazer’s screenwriting and story consultant engagements have included commissions for Movie Mogul, The Asylum, Mediente, eMotion,and Vanquish Alliance Entertainment. 

His film and television directing credits include the multi award-winning shorts On Edge and Red Lines,and the promo campaign for the Discovery Channel series True Horror With Anthony Head. His new short film The Stay had its World Premiere at World Horror Con Atlanta USA 2015. Frazer was named one of the Top 12 UK directors in MySpace.com’s Movie Mash-up contest by a panel including representatives from 20th Century Fox, Vertigo Films and Film Four. 

Frazer’s novel The Lamplighters was a Bram Stoker Award® Finalist for ‘Superior Achievement in a First Novel’. 

Frazer is Head of Creative Writing at Brunel University London and is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers. His guest speaking engagements have included The London Screenwriters Festival and The Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass. Frazer Lee lives with his family in Buckinghamshire, England just across the cemetery from the actual Hammer House of Horror.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

What's Happening (11-16-19)...

So I'm doing things a tad bit differently this year and will be combining all of my regular weekend posts.  This will enable me to add more content on Fridays and it is just starting to make more sense.  I'll still be linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.  Both blogs are awesome so make sure you check them out.  

MAN, WHAT A WEEK!  And it pretty much boils down to phone issues.  We keep a landline for two reasons...we've had the same number for over 25 years and everyone we want to know it knows it and secondly, my Gpa can hear better when I use a landline vs. a cell phone.  It was out on the 7th for some reason.  Submitted a ticket. They were coming Tuesday and we to call me when they were en route (they gave me an 8 hour window) so I could meet them there.  I'm not wasting my vacation to sit around and wait for them!  So Tuesday I get home to a note saying, it was fixed.  Nope, it wasn't.  So I called again.  Nope, they didn't follow directions but I had to wait 2 more days for another appointment - and another 8 hour window.  The icing on the cake was when I was filing a complaint and a woman told me they didn't make it out Tuesday because there were busy.  Ummmm, that was a lie.  That ticked me off.  And every time I was on hold for a supervisor, I got "accidentally" disconnected.  It's finally fixed but I'm surprised my head didn't pop off I was so angry.

Everything else is fine but PUPPY ALERT.  I think Mr. Barb has finally decided he's ready to add to the family.  I've left it up to him since T's death was so hard on both of us, but EXTREMELY hard on him.  So we've been looking.  It will happen in time but don't be surprised if you see a new addition to Booker T's Farm in the next few months.

We watched "47 Feet Down Uncaged" this week and it wasn't bad.  I like shark movies and this one had blind cave sharks and dumb teenagers.  It was entertaining at least. I also have  A LOT of reading to get done before the month is out.  At least next week starts my vacation!

I added a few books this week too.  I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I hope I feel the same way after reading Untamed Shores.  Bottle Toss sounds like a cool YA horror and I couldn't resist The Last Human.



So how was your week?  Anything new and exciting? 

ADDITION:  I almost forgot.  Cass almost caught a cat. The neighbor have a cat named Noel they let run around outside.  They say she won't stay inside but it's debatable if they are just irresponsible.  Their Jack Russell has escaped into our backyard twice in the past week and then can't find his way out.  Anyway, I let Cass out and Noel was hiding under the picnic table.  Cass saw her and she took off. I was yelling for him to stop but they made two laps around the yard and Noel faceplanted into the side of a back building trying to jump on the roof.  I didn't want her to get hurt (and she was ok) but she also still has her claws and I don't want Cass to lose an eye!  The neighbor says "Don't worry - she's not afraid of dogs."  Doesn't mean Cass is used to cats!  Neighbors!!!!

Friday, November 15, 2019

What an Odd but Unique Read - The Remaking Review

TITLE: The Remaking
AUTHOR: Clay McLeod Chapman
PUBLISHER: Quirk Books
PUBLISHING DATE: October 8, 2019


FROM GOODREADS:  Inspired by a true story, this supernatural thriller for fans of horror and true crime follows a tale as it evolves every twenty years—with terrifying results. 

Ella Louise has lived in the woods surrounding Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, for nearly a decade. Publicly, she and her daughter Jessica are shunned by their upper-crust family and the Pilot’s Creek residents. Privately, desperate townspeople visit her apothecary for a cure to what ails them—until Ella Louise is blamed for the death of a prominent customer. Accused of witchcraft, both mother and daughter are burned at the stake in the middle of the night. Ella Louise’s burial site is never found, but the little girl has the most famous grave in the South: a steel-reinforced coffin surrounded by a fence of interconnected white crosses. 

Their story will take the shape of an urban legend as it’s told around a campfire by a man forever marked by his boyhood encounters with Jessica. Decades later, a boy at that campfire will cast Amber Pendleton as Jessica in a ’70s horror movie inspired by the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek. Amber’s experiences on that set and its meta-remake in the ’90s will ripple through pop culture, ruining her life and career after she becomes the target of a witch hunt. Amber’s best chance to break the cycle of horror comes when a true-crime investigator tracks her down to interview her for his popular podcast. But will this final act of storytelling redeem her—or will it bring the story full circle, ready to be told once again? And again. And again…

MY THOUGHTS: So first things first, can someone clear up my confusion...was this really inspired by a true story and if so, please clue me in?  Or is that just adding to the mystique of the book?  Okay, moving on.  But I really hope someone has an answer.

I kind of went into The Remaking blindly and it actually worked better for me.  I knew people had been raving about it and it's horror, so of course I wanted to read it.  And boy am I glad that I did.  One of the best things about this novel is the formatting.  In fact, I could say that is what initially pulled me in.  The book is told in four parts.  The first is the old urban legend tale.  The second is a 70's movie adaptation of the urban legend.  The third is a 90's remake and then the last is a true crime podcast.  I found it all very unique and Chapman did a wonderful job of tying them all together. 

Years ago an odd little girl and her even odder mother (aka witch) were burned by a lynch mob in a small Southern town.  Thus the curse begins and horrible things befall the culprits and the town itself.  Fast forward to the 70's and an up-and-coming director wants to make a movie about the witch girl and casts Amber Pendleton to play young Jessica.  I won't tell you how that all plays out - read the book.  Years later Amber is cast once again in the remake and things only get better...and by better, I mean worse.

I feel like I'm rambling but I'm trying really hard not to spoil anything.  I will just say The Remaking is one of those books you just need to pick up.  If it interests you in even the slightest amount, then do it!  It captures some of the well-known horror tropes and pulls the reader into a world of urban legends, pop culture and fandoms.  I loved everything about this book and I hope you do too!

RATING: 5 PAWS

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Random Things Tours - The Influence



Once again I'm proud to be part of the blog tour for another great title from Flame Tree Press.  Read on to learn more about Ramsey Campbell's The Influence.  

TITLE: The Influence
AUTHOR: Ramsey Campbell
PUBLISHER: Flame Tree Press
PUBLISHING DATE: October 24, 2019

FROM GOODREADS:  Queenie is the ageing matriarch of the Faraday family, and even death can’t break her hold over her eleven-year-old granddaughter Rowan. She’s buried with a locket that contains a lock of Rowan’s hair, and soon afterwards Rowan is befriended by a mysterious uncannily intelligent girl of her own age. Only her aunt Hermione suspects how sinister this is, but will retrieving the locket save her niece? By the time anyone sees what effect the ghostly influence on Rowan is having, it may be too late for her. if the child who takes her place in the family isn’t Rowan, Rowan may be somewhere else not quite like our world…

MY THOUGHTS: By now most people who stop by here know I love horror so I was thrilled to get a chance to read The Influence.  Flame Tree Press has had such great titles since their debut that I knew the odds were good that I would enjoy this book.  And enjoy I did!

First I have to say that Campbell is excellent at creating an atmospheric read.  I truly love a Gothic setting and a slow-burn and this book delivered.  As mentioned above, Queenie, once the head of the Faraday family has passed and with all her supernatural powers, she has managed to maintain a grip on the youngest member of the family, eleven year old Rowan.  About the same time, Rowan becomes friends with a very mysterious girl who just may or may not be real.  Can anyone figure out what is going on before it's too late?

I really enjoyed Rowan as well as her family even if at times I questioned their awareness of what goes on around them.  And basically, Queenie is pretty evil and about as scary at they come.  This book does contain perspectives as well as a timeline that sometimes jumps back and forth but they work well together to add to the tension-building of Ramsey's tale.  In addition, I would be amiss not to mention that I found in this novel, the creepy old house and the English setting increase the creepiness factor and actually combine to form a character of their own.

If you like atmospheric horror and enjoy tales of possession (yes, I realize how weird that sounds) then pick up The Influence.  You might just discover a new favorite.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Also - be sure the catch the Neflix adaptation. I really enjoyed it as well and think it's one of their better original movies.

RATING: 4 PAWS



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  
Ramsey Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1946and still lives on Merseyside. The Oxford Companion to English Literature describes him as “Britain’s most respected living horror writer”. He has been given more awards than any other writer in the field, including the Grand Master Award of the World Horror Convention, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, the Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild and the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. 



AWARDS: The Influence, British Fantasy Award, Best Novel,1989 and Premios Gigamesh,1994(for Spanish translation, Ultratumba) 

Grand Master Award, World Horror Convention, Atlanta, Georgia, 1999 

Lifetime Achievement Award of the Horror Writers Association, 1999 

Living Legend Award of the International Horror Guild, 2007 

Life Achievement Award, World Fantasy Awards, 2015

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday (236)


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

So the public has spoken - Cass is now a full-time contributor to Can't Wait Wednesday.  That means each week you'll see two books here. Of course Cass is already lobbying for an increase in salary (at least he works for treats - and bandanas).



FROM GOODREADS: The first in a delightful new cozy series by Hannah Dennison, featuring two sisters who inherit an old hotel in the remote Scilly Islands and find it full of intrigue, danger, and romance.

When Evie Mead’s husband, Robert, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, a mysterious note is found among his possessions. It indicates that Evie may own the rights to an old hotel on Tregarrick Rock, one of the Islands of Scilly.

Still grieving, Evie is inclined to leave the matter to the accountant to sort out. Her sister Margot, however, flown in from her glamorous career in LA, has other plans. Envisioning a luxurious weekend getaway, she goes right ahead and buys two tickets—one way—to Tregarrick.

Once at the hotel—used in its heyday to house detective novelists, and more fixer-upper than spa resort, after all—Evie and Margot attempt to get to the bottom of things. But the foul-tempered hotel owner claims he's never met the late Robert, even after Evie finds framed photos of them—alongside Robert's first wife—in his office. The rest of the island inhabitants, ranging from an ex-con receptionist to a vicar who communicates with cats, aren't any easier to read.

But when a murder occurs at the hotel, and then another soon follows, frustration turns to desperation. There’s no getting off the island at high tide. And Evie and Margot, the only current visitors to Tregarrick, are suspects one and two. It falls to them to unravel secrets spanning generations—and several of their own—if they want to make it back alive.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT: I love the idea of a mystery on an island and the threat of high tide meaning no one can leave.  Also, I kind of fell in love with the cover but don't tell Cass because there's a cat on the cover!

CASSIUS'S PICK:


FROM GOODREADS: Second in a new series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan, The Secrets of Bones is a riveting mystery following Jazz Ramsey as she trains a cadaver dog.
Assembly Day at St. Catherine's dawns bright and cloudless as professional woman gather from all around Ohio to talk to the schoolgirls about their careers in medicine, at NASA, and as yoga instructors. Administrative assistant Jazz Ramsey is involved herself, giving the girls a taste of her lifelong passion: cadaver dog training. Her adorable new puppy Wally hasn't been certified yet, so she borrows the fully-trained Gus from a friend and hides a few bones in the unused fourth floor of the school for him to find.
The girls are impressed when Gus easily finds the first bone, but for the second Gus seems to have lost the scent, and heads confidently to a part of the floor where Jazz is sure no bones are hidden—at least not any that she's put there. But Gus is a professional, and sure enough, behind a door that shouldn't have been opened in decades, is a human skeleton.
Jazz recognizes the skeleton as Bernadette Quinn, an ex-teacher at the school who'd never returned after one Christmas break, though letters and postcards from her had seemed to indicate there was no cause for worry. But now it seems Bernadette never left the school at all, and her hiding place makes it clear: this was murder.
Bernadette's strident personality means there are a plethora of suspects inside the school and out of it, and as Jazz gets closer to the truth she can't help but wonder if someone might be dogging her footsteps . . .

WHY CASS CAN'T WAIT:  Mom loved the first book in this series and was thrilled when she saw the second one announced.  In the first one Jazz was dogsitting but now she has her own pup again and how cute is the name Wally???  
And Mom thinks she's slick, trying to sneak a cat past me!

WHAT BOOK CAN'T YOU WAIT FOR THIS WEEK????


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

TTT - Favorite Bookmarks

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week's topic is favorite bookmarks.  I love collecting bookmarks so I think I can handle this one.  Sorry the pictures aren't better though.  Its gets dark so early here now that when I get home from work, I don't have a lot of light to work with.



I ordered these from Strange the Dreamer some time ago.  I have The Purge, Cousin It, Daryl from The Walking Dead and Cujo.


Of course I have to have dogs right.  These are holographic ones which I'm blaming for the bad photo.  The first two are boxers, the second is a raining cats and dogs one and the third is just a collection of dogs.


I've had these pups in tennis shoes forever.  They remain some of my faves.


And finally we have a zombie on, a tiger and cub, and Frankenweenie.

So I have a lot more but this is all I could throw together on short notice.  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Always Running Behind! (Challenge Announcement)

Because Reading is better than real life

So I'm a tad late posting this but I technically have been participating already.  I just figured it was time I got my post up and shared.  Anyway, this is hosted by Berls and Michelle @ Because Reading and the goal is to know some series reads off our TBR.  So here are the rules: 

  1. Pick 1 series. Yes, just 1. Announce which series you’ve picked on your sign up post.
  2. Read EVERY book in the series. You don’t have to read novellas or short stories, just the core books.
  3. Read them all between 12am (your time) November 1st and 11:59pm (your time) November 30th. They MUST be marked (on Goodreads) as started and finished in the month of June to count.
  4. Enjoy bragging to everyone about how you’re all caught up on whatever series you read (AKA – have fun)!

And here is what I'm going to be (or maybe have already started) reading:


So stayed tuned for some reviews of this wonderful series!