Book Review: Escape From Hotel Necro (The Blood and Gore Collection) by Amy Cross

Title: Escape from Hotel Necro (The Blood and Gore Collection)
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

It’s supposed to be the perfect vacation. When Katie Johnson and her husband Jason arrive at Hotel Necro, they think they’re going to enjoy a few days of peace, pampering and relaxation.

On the first morning, however, Katie wakes up feeling ill, and she has a strange scratch mark on her waist. She quickly realizes that something’s very wrong, and that dark forces are at work beneath the hotel’s facade. Strange nightmares interrupt her sleep, filling her head with hideous images. Meanwhile, the scratches keep appearing.

Soon, Katie discovers that Hotel Necro is far more than just a luxury hotel. As she ventures into the depths of the building, she realizes that something truly horrific is happening in the shadows. Can she and Jason escape before they become the hotel’s latest victims, or does an even more awful secret lurk behind the one of the heavily-secured doors?

Escape From Hotel Necro is a horror novel about a woman who discovers just how far she’ll go to save herself, and about an organisation that exists to save people from their own darkest fantasies.

If you’ve seen Hostel and its sequels, then you’ll be familiar with the concept of Escape From Hotel Necro. Katie Johnson and her husband arrive at the hotel for a romantic weekend, but already on the first day, she wakes up feeling slightly ill and notices a scratch mark on her waist. This only gets worse as the weekend progresses: horrifying images fill her head as more scratches appear on her body.

What is going on at night in Hotel Necro?

Despite the predictability of some of the plot elements, I still enjoyed this read. In fact, thinking back on it, I think this was probably one of the first Amy Cross books I read, and after reading this one, I decided I just had to read some of Amy’s other books. Fair warning though, some of the characters are quite sadistic in this one, and there’s definitely a lot of gore as well, so it fits well in the “Blood and Gore Collection”.

 

 

Book Review: Last Wrong Turn (The Blood and Gore Collection) by Amy Cross

Title: Last Wrong Turn (The Blood and Gore Collection)
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Lost on a remote English country road, Penny and her husband are involved in a violent car crash. When she wakes up, however, Penny finds that she’s been tied to a metal table in a farmhouse. She’s the latest victim of a strange family, but Penny is different to the other victims in one crucial respect.

She’s pregnant.

As she fights not only for her own life but also for the life of her unborn child, Penny comes face-to-face with the mysterious Enda. As the child of the family, Enda struggles to understand why their latest prisoner has to die. Can Penny find a way to escape, or is she destined to suffer a darker fate? And is her unborn child destined to become not only a victim of the farm, but one of its new occupants?

Penny and her husband are involved in a violent car crash along a deserted country road. When she wakes up after the crash, Penny discovers she’s been tied to a metal table in a farmhouse — the latest victim of a deranged family. Penny has to fight to stay alive, not just for herself but also for her unborn child.

This story is brutal. That’s really the best way I can describe it. Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes.  Penny is a strong woman who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her child, and I greatly admired her for that. As far as the story itself goes, well… It’s fast-paced, relentless, but it’s also familiar. It’s a plot we’ve seen before in countless of slasher movies. There are some small differences, but the jest of it is the same: unsuspecting couple gets a car crash and ends up at the mercy of depraved killers at an abandoned farmhouse. There are probably twenty, if not more, horror movies out there with the exact same story, so if you want to stand out, you need to add a surprising twist to it.

Here, unfortunately, I didn’t really find the twist I was looking for. Still, it was an entertaining story and I enjoyed reading it, but it lacks originality.

 

 

Book Review: The Blood House (The Blood and Gore Collection) by Amy Cross

Title: The Blood House (The Blood and Gore Collection)
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

On the run and deeply in debt, Owen Richards moves his family to a remote house in the middle of nowhere. Despite the strange portrait of an old man in the hallway, and the ticking sound coming from behind the walls, Owen promises his wife and daughter that this is their chance to start a new life.

Soon, however, Owen and his family discover that they’re caught in a horrific trap. Seventy-five years ago, a family of three disappeared while living in the same house. Deadly dangers lurk in every room, and the ticking sound is just the first hint of a monstrous fate that has befallen everyone who has ever dared to step through the front door.

Can the Richards family escape from their supposed dream home, or are they destined to join their predecessors in a gruesome end?

The Blood House is a horror novel about a twisted genius with a vision, and about a family who only want to survive. This is the 2022 edition of the original 2016 book.

Owen Richards is desperate to start a new life with his wife and daughter. On the run from his past, he counts his blessings as he finds a remote house in the middle of nowhere–a perfect hideaway for a man on the run. But what Owen doesn’t realize, is that the house he moved his family into, is far more dangerous than the past threatening to catch up with him.

The last family living here disappeared under mysterious circumstances, an ominous ticking sound acts like a herald of doom, and Owen has no idea that time is running out…

I really liked this book, particularly because I found the concept so intriguing and original. I won’t give any spoilers, but let’s just say this was a twist that I could appreciate.

There’s definitely some gore, though (as the series title suggests) so this isn’t for the faint of heart. I also felt that the book was rushed in some places, but overall, I really enjoyed this story and I thought it was innovative and original.

Book Review: The Haunting of Hurst House (Mercy Willow Book 1)

Title: The Haunting of Hurst House (Mercy Willow Book 1)
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror, Paranormal
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon

When she moves to a small coastal Cornish village, Mercy Willow hopes to start a new life. She has a brand new job as an estate agent, and she’s determined to put the past where it belongs and get on with building a new future. But will that be easy in a village that has more than its fair share of ghosts?

Determined to sell the un-sellable Hurst House, Mercy gets straight to work. Hurst House was once the scene of a terrible tragedy, and many of the locals believe that the place is best left untouched and undisturbed. Mercy, however, thinks it just needs a lick of paint and a few other improvements, and that then she’ll be able to find a buyer in no time.

Soon, Mercy discovers that parts of Hurst House’s past are still lingering. Strange noises hint at an unseen presence, and an old family secret is about to come bursting back to life with terrifying consequences. Meanwhile, Mercy herself has a dark past that she’d rather keep hidden. After all, her name isn’t really Mercy Willow at all, and she’s running from something that has already almost killed her once.

The Haunting of Hurst House is the first book in the Mercy Willow series, about an estate agent in deepest Cornwall who develops the unusual ability to communicate with ghosts.

The Haunting of Hurst House is the first book in the Mercy Willow series, a series about real estate agent Mercy Willow. Running away from her past, Mercy is desperate to build a new life for herself working as a real estate agent in a small village. Unfortunately, her new career isn’t off to a great start, so Mercy vows to herself that she will do the unthinkable.

She will sell the house no one can sell. Hurst House. Scene of a terrible tragedy, a house that has lain abandoned for years. If she can sell this house, then she can sell any house.

But Hurst House isn’t an ordinary house. Strange noises haunt its corridors, during the renovation, items move from one room to another over night… Then again, Mercy Willow is no ordinary real estate agent, either, so if anyone can pull this off, it’s her.

I liked parts of this book, but other parts were just too far-fetched. The twist about the family who had lived in Hurst House just seemed too impossible for me, not believable at all. Apart from that, I liked the story overall and Mercy is an intriguing protagonist because there’s obvbiously parts about her that the reader doesn’t know yet. I will definitely pick up the next book in the series.

Book Review: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls by Katie Mettner

Title: A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls
Author: Katie Mettner
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Christmas
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Actress Carrie Murray’s films are a Christmas lover’s delight. Filled with twinkling lights, festive carols, and happy endings, they’re the perfect escape from reality. For her and the audience. Then Tinseltown calls.

Braxton Timothy is Hollywood’s biggest action star. Handsome and talented but decidedly on the naughty list, no one can fathom his sudden desire to produce a feel-good Christmas movie—least of all, his no-name co-star.

Alternating between scenes reminiscent of everyone’s favorite made-for-TV movies and unexpected, off-screen chemistry, Gingerbread Falls has surprises in store this holiday season. The question is, will there be enough Christmas magic to convince two imperfect people that they’re perfect for each other?

I’ve been feeling festive all week, and I think part of that can be attributed to A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. This book instantly put me in the Christmas-spirit, and I’ve already replaced my Halloween decorations; my house now boasts two Christmas trees and cozy lights, and I’ve already blasted holiday music for three days in a row. That’s rare for me, because I usually only start feeling the holiday spirit around December.

But A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls is the kind of heartwarming romance that puts you right in the mood for holiday cheers. The main characters, Carrie and Braxton, are two people who desperately need love, except they don’t really know that they need it. They’ve both gone through hardships in the past that shaped them into the people they are today, and for the reader, it’s obvious from the start that if these two can embrace the chemistry that lingers between them and take a chance on each other, that they might find what they have been looking for all along, without knowing it themselves.

The one thing I sometimes dislike about these types of books is that they can be quite predictable, but that wasn’t the case for A Christmas at Gingerbread Falls. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns.

If you’re looking for a book that’ll put you in the mood for the holidays, look no further.

Book Review: The Haunting of Edward House

Title: The Haunting of Edward House
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Edward House and his sister Meg ran screaming from their family home. They claimed that a ghost had attacked their parents, that some kind of evil spirit had been trying to possess Edward and take control of his body. Their father lay dead on the floor, and their mother had lost her mind. Now Edward and Meg only had each other.

Today, Edward is a married man with a daughter of his own. When he and his family move into a new home, they have no idea that a dark force from the past is once again beginning to stir. Edward is certain that the events of his childhood are over, but his sister’s not so sure.

And when Edward’s daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and Meg a quarter of a century earlier, history looks set to repeat itself.

The Haunting of Edward House is a ghost story about a man who refuses to face his past, a woman can’t let go of one moment of horror, and a deadly evil that will stop at nothing to get what it wants.

The Haunting of Edward House is the story of Edward House, a rather bland married man with a daughter of his own. He and his family move into a new home, and strangely enough, his daughter Molly starts seeing the same ghost that tormented Edward and his sister Meg back when they were children–although back then they lived in a completely different house!

As usual, Amy Cross manages to put an interesting, unexpected spin on your typical run-down-the-mill ghost story, making her books stand out from others in the genre. This is not one of my favorites by Amy Cross, but it’s still a decent story. What annoyed me the most was how long it took for Edward and his wife to finally admit they were being haunted. They did wrong by Meg by not believing her sooner. It also didn’t make much sense, given what had happened in Edward’s past, that he was so reluctant to believe.

Fans of ghost stories will find an interesting story here about trauma, family ties and also a lesson that not everything is always what it seems at first glance.

Book Review: How to Make A Ghost by Amy Cross

Title: How to Make A Ghost
Author: Amy Cross
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Amazon

Twenty-five years ago, Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished. No-one in the family is willing to talk about what happened, and Eve has come to accept that she might never learn the truth.

When a huge storm erupts, however, Eve is forced to return to her childhood home. Her father lives alone, and the house is in danger of collapsing as it’s battered by wind and rain. Eve hasn’t talked to her father since she ran away from home many years earlier, and she soon finds that the old man’s mind is deteriorating. Meanwhile, something seems to be in the house with him, lurking in the shadows and tormenting what’s left of his sanity.

Eve soon begins to discover the truth about what happened to Rebecca. A strange, ghostly figure appears in the house, and a voice cries out for revenge. The more Eve learns, the more she comes to understand that something terrible has been happening to her family for many years. She’s always held her father responsible, but is there something even worse that Eve doesn’t know? And is the ghost of her dead sister really lurking in the shadows of the house?

How To Make a Ghost is a horror story about a haunted house, a dark family secret, and a horrific experiment that has been years in the making.

Over the past year, Amy Cross has become one of my favorite authors. She manages to combine a straightforward, no-nonsense, fast-paced writing style with original, imaginative stories that keep readers on the edge of their seat.

How to Make A Ghost is no different. Seemingly starting off as yet another ghost story, the plot soon takes a turn followed by an ever-more-complicated series of twists that make for an unpredictable, innovative story.

Eve Marsh’s little sister Rebecca vanished more than two decades ago. No one in the family is willing to discuss the incident, and it has estranged Eve from her father, whom she blames for what happened to Rebecca. When a storm erupts and her sister begs her to go check up on her father, Eve reluctantly heads to her childhood home. Upon her arrival, she notices immediately that her father’s mind seems to be deteriorating… But perhaps even more worrying, something seems to be inside the house, trying to destroy whatever is left of her father’s sanity.

Is it the ghost of Rebecca? Or is something else at play?

What I enjoyed the most about this book, without giving too much away concerning the plot, is that the true horror doesn’t come from the ghosts, but from another source entirely. And that is far more horrifying and nightmare-inducing than any ghost could ever be.

Book Review: Refraction by Terry Geo

Title: Refraction
Author: Terry Geo
Genre: Science-Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Most stories start at the beginning; this one begins at the end. At least for Maria. Her sudden death sends shockwaves through her family and pushes her grieving mother to the very brink of insanity. After exhausting every avenue conventional medicine has to offer, Maria’s father, Henry, brings together the world’s greatest minds in the hope of carving out a new path. Months pass, and as Henry watches his beloved Elena slowly drift away, he begins to lose faith. It is only then that a solution presents itself. A discovery so momentous, it saves Elena and reveals the most important scientific and technological breakthrough in modern history.

Silicate is founded; a privately funded facility which delves deeper into the human mind, able to discover answers to questions we are yet to ask. Securing Silicate’s secrets becomes of utmost importance; even after treating hundreds of patients, the public are still unaware of the wonders and terrifying reality Silicate has unearthed . . .

The world you know is only half the story.

Refraction was not at all what I expected. In ways, it went beyond what I had expected, diving into unconventional, unexpected territory, while at the same time dealing with issues that are known to all of us. A family, dealing with the loss of a loved one, for example, is something all of us unfortunately have to deal with at some point in their lives (however, in this story, it’s the worst sorrow of all, that of parents losing a child). Trying to find a way to reach out to those we love, even after death, is something all of us have probably longed for at some point or another as well, and this book deals with exactly that, with grief, with trying to move on, with trying to save the people we love. And it’s by going on this quest, venturing into this unknown territory of the human mind, that miraculous wonders and terrifying truths are uncovered.

The book is quite long (it was 700+ pages in the PDF I read), but it reads lightning-fast, and once you start reading, it’s hard to put down. For a debut novel, it’s especially surprising that the author manages to craft such an original, well-researched story, while keeping up the fast pace and still being able to introduce the reader to myriad characters that each bring their own uniqueness to the table.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the book had quite a few twists in the storyline that I didn’t see coming, and this doesn’t happen very often!
I’m definitely interested to read more works by this author in the future.
 
 
 

Book Review: Edge of Death (Book #2 Admiralty Archives)

Title: Edge of Death: Book Two of the Admiralty Archives
Author: Joni Parker
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

In this second installment of The Admiralty Archives, the warrior Lady Alexin, the Keeper of the Keys for the Elf realm of Eledon, finds herself exiled to the harsh world of near-future London. Rendered little more than a political pawn by the Elfin Council of Elders to avoid a war with the Rock Elves, she has little choice but to struggle to find her way in this strange new land. Taken under the protection of kindly mentors, Vice Admiral Malcolm Teller of the British Royal Navy and his wife, Alex brings all her skills to the fore as she uncovers a series of deadly plots.

Murder is on everyone’s mind as an underground White Supremacist organization takes aim at Admiral Teller while two wizards, resurrected from death, must kill Alex in order to survive. To make matters worse, the Rock Elves dispatch a hundred assassins from Eledon with their sole mission to bring Lady Alexin to the very… Edge of Death.

I read and reviewed some of Joni Parker’s other books before: The Blue Witch, Gossamer and Noble Magic, all part of the Chronicles of Eledon series. In the Admiralty Archives series, I already read and reviewed the first book, Curse of the Sea, so you can say I’m definitely a fan of this author and the magical worlds she creates, with most of my ratings being either 4 or 4,5 stars. I mean, fantasy, elves, wizards, what’s not to like?

Needless to say I had some pretty high expectations when starting the second book in the Admiralty Archives,  Edge of Death, but the sequel certainly didn’t dissapoint. The reader is once again following Lady Alexin, who by now has really become one of my favorite characters in fantasy books throughout. What I really enjoy about this series is how well it mixes fantasy and reality, and how well-crafted the fantasy world is, reminding me of the worlds created by Raymond E. Feist and Robin Hobb, and that I could spend hour hiding away in during my childhood and early teens. It’s a rare gift to be able to create a world that is so different yet so relatable that people can imagine themselves there, and to be able to come up with characters who despite being relatable, can still surprise the reader – especially after so many books.

In this book, Alexin is forced into exile to the London of the near future, a terrible, sullen place. Not only does she have to get used to this new, strange world, but she also becomes a target in a complicated assassination plot, and she’ll need all her skills, wit and some good old-fashioned luck to survive.

I don’t want to give out too many spoilers for readers new to the series, but this book had me on the edge of my seat again. Memorable characters, a vast, extraordinary setting, excellent writing and a mercilessly fast pace, this is one book no fan of the genre should miss out on.

 

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review and Giveaway Taking Wing

Title: Taking Wing

Author: Clemency Crow
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Rating: 4,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

12-year-old Freya enjoys karate and is the only one in her class who’s trusted with a part-time job. But everything changes when she meets a boy with yellow eyes. She learns about the guardians, and how an age-old fight has stopped them from fulfilling their purpose. Freya finds new friends in the crow tribe but not everything in the castle is blissful. A destructive shadow lies within her and all she needs to do to summon it is close her eyes. But as the guardian’s war rages on, Freya realises that, although the shadow’s power can be useful, it can’t create peace. Freya and her friends must solve the crime that began the war, but can they bring the guardians together before they destroy each other?

Taking Wing is an intriguing middle grade adventure featuring 12-year-old Freya, a girl who is so much more than she seems at first glance.

The book actually begins with a chapter set in 617 AD, where the reader witnesses the funeral of Edweth, and a man named Raedwald who vows to avenge her death, which he believes was due to her being murdered by someone from the Crow tribe. The book then jumps to the present day, where the reader is introduced to Freya. Despite being only twelve, Freya holds a part-time job in a shop after school. The reader is thrown into the action right away, as Freya feels someone is following her while she’s walking to her aunt’s house–the follower turns out to be a boy with yellow eyes and a long, hooked nose, almost like a bird’s nose.

The boy, Enna, turns out to be much more than he seems at first glance but it’s when his friends turn up that the action really picks up, and they take Freya to the home of the Crow tribe. As she meets the others of the Crow tribe, Freya makes new friends but soon realizes that not everything is at she thought it was, and that the war between the tribes can only be solved with Freya’s help. But can Freya accomplish this task, especially when she discovers that there’s something hidden deep within herself, a shadow, that has tremendous power?

I actually really liked Winnie. She seemed like such a genuine person, and her personality worked rather well. Most of the characters in the book feel like genuine people, with fitting personality traits, and with some little quirks and things that set them apart from others. The author did a really good job portraying all these different characters throughout.

The plot was excellent too, with some unexpected twists and turns that I hadn’t seen coming. There was never a dull moment, and the pacing moved along nicely. The book is clearly aimed at middle graders, but even an older audience will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, as I suspect there will be a sequel.

 

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway