Plas Mawr ~ #Historic House in Conwy #Elizabethan #Photography #Ghosts

I hadn’t gone out with the intention of taking photographs, so didn’t have my camera. This was too good an opportunity to miss though, so out came the phone.

Plas Mawr was thought to be the finest town house of the Elizabethan period in Britain. 

The owner, Robert Wynn, was a prosperous merchant who loved grandeur. His house, built between 1576 and 1585, said to have cost around £800, reflects his status and wealth. 

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Book Tour ~ The After House by Michael Phillip Cash #GuestPost #Giveaway @michaelpcash @ebookreviewgal

Welcome to the book tour for The After House. Today we have a guest post from the author, Michael Phillip Cash, and the chance to win a copy of the book.

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Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young ~ #YA #AudiobookReview ‘Stay Tonight, Stay Forever’

  • 24465518Audiobook Review
  • Author: Suzanne Young
  • Performed by Julia Whelan
  • Published: Simon & Schuster Audio, released on Audible November 2015
  • Category: Young Adult, Supernatural
  • three-half-stars

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are devastated over the sudden and premature death of their mother. Their father is also finding it hard to cope and is taking them to stay with their grandmother. The three of them are distanced from each other, dealing with grief, or not, in their own way. Tired and emotional, their father decides on a one night stop over at the Hotel Ruby. Continue reading

The Cursed, The Hexed & The Betrayed (Krewe of Hunters)

AudiobookReview

This is the most recent trilogy (books 12,13,14) in the Krewe of Hunters series, a unique unit of the FBI who investigate crimes associated with the paranormal. The finer points and origin of the Krewe and it’s members are integrated into the stories smoothly, so they could be read as stand alone books even though there are considerably more than these three in the series.

  • TheCursedAuthor: Heather Graham
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
  • Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • three-half-stars

Hannah O’Brien inherited her great uncle’s haunted Victorian mansion in Key West, which she now runs as a B&B. She has a special ability which allows her to see and speak to the dead, and so she is able to communicate with the two friendly ghosts who haunt her property. When a man is murdered near her house, his spirit appears asking Hannah for help to bring his killers to justice.

Peace and serenity surrounded him. He really did love the Keys. There was something magical that happened once you left the mainland behind. The air was so soft and nice, the lounge so comfortable, that he began to drift off.

Then Shelley screamed. It was a scream of pure and absolute terror.

His eyes flew open as he bolted up and saw…a strange man standing over Shelley. The stranger was gripping his throat with his right hand and making choking noises. Stuart was too startled, too terrified to be sure, but it looked as though something was oozing through the man’s fingers. Blood?

Dallas Sampson, an FBI agent and a member of the Krewe, has abilities himself and is assigned to the case. He knew the murdered man and wants desperately to find his killer. He has the help of other Krewe members, including Hannah’s cousin, Kelsey O’Brien, who we met in an earlier story. Their investigations lead them to a dangerous smuggling ring, Los Lobos, and it’s deadly leader, The Wolf.

The setting in the Keys is fabulous, the legends and the historical details woven into the story brilliantly as always, although a lot of it had been in previous books and seemed to be a mixture of stories gone before. The lost treasure aspect and the ghost tours and somehow I wasn’t really convinced by Hannah and Dallas’ relationship. Having said that the writing was a good as ever and the location descriptions are clear and distinct. The ghosts’ stories are effective and I like how their characters are developed. 

  • TheHexedAuthor: Heather Graham
    Performed by Luke Daniels
    Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
    Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • four-half-stars

Set in Salem, Massachusetts, to where Devin Lyle has returned after working as a journalist in Boston. Her beloved Great Aunt Mina has passed away and left her cottage in the woods to Devin, who is now a children’s author writing witchy stories in honour of her aunt, known as the ‘witch in the woods’.

Every once in a while Devin Lyle couldn’t help herself. People did such outrageous things sometimes that she just had to step in….

“Burn witch! Burn!” a young man said. Despite his words, he was actually reverently placing a flower on the bench dedicated to one of the victims of the witch trials.

“How horrible. I can’t even imagine burning to death,” and older woman said.

“Excuse me,” Devin said. “None of the condemned in Salem were burned. Nineteen were hanged, and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death.”

Craig ‘Rocky’ Rockwell has been transferred to the Krewe specifically to investigate what seem to be ritualistic murders in Salem, which mimic chillingly the murder of a childhood friend thirteen years previously. His and his friends’ lives were changed forever and now, as more bodies are discovered, it seems the Krewe have a serial killer running loose. Rocky can’t discount anyone as suspects, not even his old friends.

Devin is guided to a body in the woods by a ghostly figure and she is drawn into the investigation and also to Rocky. She is taken aback when she realises she can see and speak to the dead. 

The fascinating information, and vivid history, about Wicca, Salem and the witch trials is threaded in throughout. The descriptions brought the place alive for me and, as it’s somewhere I really want to visit, the draw was there from the start. I like the well defined characters in this story, especially Devin’s Aunt Mina, and the way the relationship between Rocky and Devin develops, but not overwhelming the story, and the focal point is always the murders and mystery.

  • TheBetrayedAuthor: Heather Graham
    Performed by Luke Daniels
    Published: Brilliance Audio, released by Audible 2014
    Category: Crime, Suspense, Paranormal, Romance
  • four-stars

Aiden Mahoney, an FBI agent and new member of the Krewe, is sent to Sleepy Hollow because a prominent politician, Richard Highsmith who is an old friend of Aiden’s, has gone missing. Aiden heard Richard’s voice in a dream and it doesn’t bode well. Aiden isn’t comfortable with, and struggles to acknowledge, his gift. He views the Krewe as investigators of the paranormal, or weird stuff, and is unsure about becoming a part of the team. But they could see in him what he didn’t want to see in himself.

“They got me, my old friend. They got me.”

Aiden Mahoney woke with a start. His room was dark; instinct made him reach for the Glock at his bedside and then remain dead still. Listening.

He’d heard the words as clearly as if they’d been spoken directly in front of him. And when he’d first opened his eyes, he could have sworn that there’d been a form – the form of a man. A man beseeching him – for help. Tall, nicely dressed in suit, leaning towards him.

But he’d blinked. And now….There was no one.

Mo Deauville, who also has the ability to see and speak with the dead, and her dog, Rollo the Irish Wolfhound (I love Rollo), search for missing people and it’s she who finds Richard, or more precisely, his head which has been stuck on the fabled statue of the Headless Horseman. The legend of which is well-known in the area and it’s coming up to Halloween which adds to the atmosphere, as the Sleepy Hollow legend appears to be coming true.

I didn’t know anything about Sleepy Hollow or Washington Irving, or even the fact that he wrote ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, and found it all very interesting. So, as well as Irving’s ghost haunting his mansion, there are the costumed haunted tours in spooky graveyards and mausoleums, more headless bodies and the growing attraction between Aiden and Mo. The suspense and intrigue were all there and I couldn’t guess who ‘done it.’ 

Ms Graham uses a formula for paranormal/romance/mystery stories that more often than not works extremely well and I especially like the lore, legend and history of each locale. And as ever, Luke Daniels’ performance is impressive and dramatic, each character is voiced with individuality.

 The Krewe of Hunters Series may be found at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Finding The Way back

  • FindingtheWayBackAuthor: Jill Bisker
  • Published: June 2014 by Melange Books
  • Category: Paranormal, Contemporary
  • four-stars

Finding the Way Back is the story of Laney, a recently divorced woman who agrees to help her mother fix up her dead grandfather’s house. From the first night when she hears ghostly music to later physical attacks that seem targeted only at her, she soon discovers that a spirit in the house may have plans of its own. For her own well-being, she needs to find answers as the danger escalates and she learns to trust herself and others. With the help of her cousin Connie, an attractive ghosthunter named Emmett, and several other eccentric characters, Laney uncovers the dark secret of the house and a new path for her future.

Laney MacKenzie is ‘finding her way back’ from years  spent with her cheating and controlling, now ex, husband, Simon. Her self-worth is almost non existent after being subjected to Simon’s undermining attitude and cavalier treatment. Laney’s mother has given her the option, with a little push, of refurbishing her late grandfather’s house, affording her a place to live and something to restore her confidence and self-respect. Her cousin and erstwhile best friend, Connie, moves in to lend a hand and she and Laney rekindle their old and close friendship.

The house is crammed full of boxes and the accumulations of a lifetime and Laney feels daunted by the task, especially so when strange and unexplainable incidents begin to occur. As she and Connie start to gradually uncover the secrets of the house and their family, Laney gets much more than she could ever imagine. As the ghostly occurrences escalate and become extremely threatening, Connie has an idea. 

I stopped, petrified, a sudden memory coming back to me. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but suddenly it seemed like yesterday. Connie and I had been in the basement poking around the junk while our parents argued with our grandfather upstairs. I had been teasing Connie and hiding behind things when I felt a hand come down on my shoulder. Thinking I’d been caught terrorising my cousin by an adult, I’d jumped up and turned round. Only there was no-one there. I never told anyone because I knew they would never believe me.

I like the inclusion of the ghost hunters, they add an extra layer of interest to the story although I would have liked to learn more about Emmet’s backstory.

This is a very enjoyable, humorous and well crafted story of re-learning the values of trust and love and letting go of the past. There are likeable, realistic and some eccentric characters, several scary scenes and a satisfactory conclusion, despite me not quite understanding why the two ghosts would elect to stay in the house rather than move on together.

About the author

JillBiskerJill Bisker lives in Stillwater, MN with her husband and a calico cat named Senora. She believes in empowering women to be strong enough to protect themselves, while still soft enough to be loving and compassionate. Her work includes paranormal mystery and traditional high fantasy, as well as contemporary and humorous fantasy and an everyday living blog. Her novella Within Reach is her first publication with Melange. Once a dedicated stay at home Mom, Jill now writes full-time. 

Visit her at www.jillbisker.com 

and http://unaccompaniedjaunt.blogspot.com/ 

Our Beautiful Child

  • Our Beautiful Child Cover ArtAuthor: Annalisa Crawford
  • Published: June 2014 by Battered Suitcase Press 
  • Category: Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction
  • four-half-stars

“The Boathouse collects misfits. Strange solitary creatures that yearn for contact with the outside world, but not too much. They sit, glass in hand, either staring at the table in front of them, or at some distant point on the horizon.” 
… so says the narrator of Our Beautiful Child. And he’s been around long enough to know. 

People end up in this town almost by accident. Ella is running away from her nightmares, Sally is running away from the memories of previous boyfriends and Rona is running away from university. Each of them seek sanctuary in the 18th century pub, The Boathouse; but in fact, that’s where their troubles begin. 

Ella finds love, a moment too late; Rona discovers a beautiful ability which needs refining before she gets hurt; and Sally meets the captivating Murray, who threatens to ruin everything. 

Three women. Three stories. One pub.

I was given a copy in return for an honest review.

A collection of three fairly short character driven stories, supernatural and eerie, that centre around three women, a particular place and a pub named The Boathouse.

Ella: ‘It was a dream that woke me. The dream. The one I’ve had so often. Only this time there was an ending…oh, definitely there was an ending.’

Can dreams foretell the future and if so, is it possible to change the course of events.

Sally: ‘Murder. I shudder, feeling nauseous. That word…murder. It’s so menacing, so malicious. It’s so final.’

Sally is running from her dark past but how far will she go to keep it hidden.

Rona: ‘As the sun sets, Rona sways between the tables, lighting candles. Shadows hover on the walls, looming over the room – a slight menace, a slight disquiet prevails. In the furthest corner, away from the bar and the entrance, a candle refuses to be lit.’

Rona has a gift, a gift she will have to master.. or pay the ultimate price.

These women are inextricably linked, all running away from events in their lives and ending up in the same place. Each story is detailed wonderfully and evocatively written, painting vivid pictures, chilling and macabre and all with unexpected endings. These are not feel good tales but compelling nonetheless. What brings each woman to this place and why? Is the Boathouse the catalyst? Each tale is unique yet part of the whole and all are woven together very cleverly in the final story.

Our Beautiful Child may be purchased through Amazon UK and Amazon US

About the author

ce41d-headshotI live in Cornwall UK, with a good supply of beaches and moorland right on my doorstep to keep me
inspired. I live with my husband, two sons, a dog and a cat.

Despite my location, I neither surf nor sail, and have never had any inclination to try. I much prefer walking along a deserted beach and listening to the waves crashing over rocks. For this reason, I really love the beach in the winter!

Annalisa can be found through the following links:

WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookPinterest

Silent Partner

  • SP_cover_frontAuthor: Stan Schatt
  • Published by Pen-L Publishing
  • Release date: September 1st 2014
  • Category: Murder/Mystery/Paranormal
  • four-stars

Detective “Frankie” Ryan tracks a sadistic killer while the press attacks her as a feminist vigilante who takes the law into her own hands. The only one who can help her is a tabloid reporter who can’t decide if he’s a psychic who sees ghosts or just someone going insane. As they search for the killer in a sunny seacoast city’s seamy S&M underside, they begin to question everything they know about sexual identity. How can they find the killer before he strikes again when he defies description?

I received an ARC from the author in return for an honest review

Josh Harrell is a very interesting character and he drew me into the story, more so than Detective Ryan, if I’m honest. Psychic ability runs in his family but only manifests when the person reaches the age of 30. I have an open mind when it comes to the supernatural, paranormal and/or psychic phenomena, things beyond comprehension or explanation and this aspect in a story is appealing to me. And very intriguing when applied to a police investigation. The implication criminals can be caught in this manner is an ambivalent issue to many people as is the suggestion there is something beyond the life we know.

Having this ability completely changes Josh’s life and the way people see and respond to him. And like generations before him couldn’t decide if it was a gift or a curse. He’s afraid he’ll never be taken seriously as a reporter again, but he deals with his new-found capabilities well.

As his hand held the folder, Josh felt the same surge of emotions he had felt when he had held Detective Ryan’s business card. This time he saw images that were as horrific as anything he had seen from the Taliban. He gasped as he watched the murder unfold.

Detective Frankie Ryan is also dealing with personal and work related problems. She’s walking a thin line and knows if she doesn’t solve the murders she will incur the blame. It seems she has a penchant for getting herself into tight corners and for the second time finds herself on suspension.

This story also tackles another intricate, complex and sensitive subject, gender identity, which takes the protagonists into the seedy and disreputable underworld of S&M clubs in LA. It’s a sad thought that there are people out there who are so uncomfortable and unhappy with their gender they have to resort to drastic measures to find contentment and peace of mind.

The two criminal investigations running through the book, the double homicide and missing coeds who are coincidentally all psychology majors, are woven together effectively and connected by various threads and characters.

I wasn’t overly keen on the use of ‘the reporter’ and ‘the detective’ instead of the relevant names, it’s a small point but it kind of diminished the connection to the characters slightly. Other than that I enjoyed the book and I like the attention grabbing cover and the title also, which is very appropriate.

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StanSchattBWStan Schatt has written thirty books on a wide variety of topics including a chapter book for children, a YA novel, biographies of Michael Connelly and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and books on technology and career changing. His love for teaching is reflected in outstanding teaching awards he received from the University of Southern California and DeVry Institute of Technology.

He is a futurist, technologist, novelist, and a person curious about many things. His writing takes advantage of his wide-ranging work, from autopsy assistant to police department administrator, salesman, literature professor and telecommunications professor, technology analyst, and research director. He has always loved technology and politics almost as much as writing. Stan is also volunteer job acquisition facilitator for the unemployed in San Diego. He writes mysteries in Carlsbad, California, where he lives with his wife, Jane.

Find Stan at www.stanschatt.com (website and blog) and on Twitter at @stanschatt.

Hellfire ~ the audiobook

  • 51l71+uiGAL._SL175_Author: John Saul
  • Performed by Luke Daniels
  • Released: March 2014 by Brilliance Audio
  • Category: Horror/Paranormal
  • four-half-stars

Publisher’s Summary

The day that the iron doors of the old mill in Westover, Massachusetts, closed forever is a day that still haunts the sleepy town’s residents. On that fateful day 100 years ago, 11 people died in a fearsome fire, and since then, no one has dared to revisit the mill or the dark secrets locked inside it.

Now, a member of the once-powerful Sturgess family has aspirations to reopen the mill. Little does Philip Sturgess know that by unlocking the padlock he is also unlocking horrible secrets from the past. There are forces at work that will do their best to see the mill doors stay tightly closed. But as Philip presses forward with his plans, the townspeople will be forced to face the terrible vengeance that waits in the darkest corners of the abandoned mill.

My Review

The old mill has a horrific past, with the exploitation of child labour and the unimaginably shocking and cruel action of one man a century ago. There are unexplained incidents involving the mill, which escalate when plans to develop the building begin in earnest, and turn into something very dark and menacing as the terrible secrets kept locked away for so long are set free. This will be vengeance on a huge scale.

Carolyn Rogers married Philip Sturgess, the owner of the mill, after her divorce and she and her daughter, Beth, are now living at the Sturgess mansion with Philip’s daughter, Tracy, and his mother. Neither of them welcome Carolyn and Beth and make their lives miserable. I like the twist of Carolyn’s ex and current husband being good friends. The characters are easy to like, or not, as the case may be. Beth is lonely and struggling to fit in to her new life and because of this she believes she has made friends with Amy, the ghost of a child about her own age. Tracy is the stuff of nightmares and takes every opportunity to make cruel fun of Beth.

It’s a powerful story, very atmospheric, with emotions running high and wild, accentuated immeasurably by Luke Daniels’ performance.

The way the lives of the characters all seem to be entwined with the mill and what happened all those years ago is quite creepy. As the story unfolds it begs the question whether actions taken in the past could influence the lives of subsequent generations.

This is my first foray into John Saul’s work, but not my last, as his writing drew me in and the supernatural aspect was woven into the story really well. The ending was totally unexpected and horrifying and given the epilogue I’m surprised there hasn’t been a follow-up.  Maybe Mr Saul likes to leave the reader dangling, I’ll have to wait and see.

Buy the book from Amazon US and Amazon UK