Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hewhay Hall by Susan Roebuck

Hewhay Hall

by Susan Roebuck




Blurb:

An Unsung Hero’s Destiny – Slater’s house of horrors.

Fire-fighter Jude Elliott loses part of his leg trying to rescue a family held hostage during a terrorist attack. He journey’s to mysterious Hewhay Hall where it is told there are wondrous, magical cures. Little does Jude know that his destination is Slater The Prince of Envy’s lair where a demon resides and courageous souls are tormented.

Can Jude escape Slater’s house of horrors, or will he suffer for all of eternity?

Winner of the EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) 2013 e-Book Award in the Horror Category.

Buy links:



Excerpt

Jude stared down the hill at the glint on the water and then across to the fields baked hard by weeks of sun. He’d followed the directions to the letter, so this was the right place. But where was Hewhay Hall?
A row of swallows balanced on a wire stretching overhead, each facing the same way as Jude, who rested against a five-bar gate. They too seemed to be eyeing the fallen tree trunks that littered the overgrown path down the rocky hillside. They were lucky—they could fly, but Jude had to hobble.
The air moved on the other side of the marshland. He didn’t imagine it. A definite ripple, the kind that alters your vision when a migraine’s about to start. Although the shift was fleeting, he had the idea something was down there after all, very faint and hard to describe. The outline of a building? Or maybe just heat haze. Whatever, he’d come this far—he’d go and investigate.
The latch and hinges on the gate were so rusted, Jude couldn’t open it. Nothing for it, then, but to climb over. He propped his crutches against the wooden bars, placed his hands on the top, and hauled himself up so his right leg got a footing on a lower rung. Now he could sit on the top. He bent down, picked up what was left of his other leg, and maneuvered it over until he straddled the gate. It creaked under his weight. As he swung his right leg over, he teetered, tried to grab the top bar but lost his balance and fell headlong into a bramble patch.
Prickles stabbed him as he lay on his back, his whirling gaze locked on a wiggly jet trail in the cloudless sky. Once the world righted itself, he pushed himself up on his elbows and extracted some of the more painful brambles before rolling onto his right knee. His bum in the air, he hoped no one was looking and that he retained a shred of dignity as he balanced on his right leg and wobbled his way upright. As he tried to stand, his knee locked. He was a second away from landing back on the ground but he grabbed an oak tree trunk for support.
Bloody hell. Wasn’t it about time they gave him a prosthesis? He bent to rub his stump, still raw after all this time. Why wasn’t he healing?
The thought was barely out of his head when the gate clicked and glided open behind him as if the latch and hinges had been well-oiled. He scratched his head and glared down the valley at the space where he thought he’d seen the outline of a house a moment ago. Was someone having a laugh at him here? Watch the ugly cripple struggle over the gate then open it on remote control? I tell you, he silently told the marshes, if I find out who did that, I’m going to nail him to this oak tree by his ears.
Fat chance. Even if the culprit were five years old, he’d still be stronger than Jude—and able to run faster.
A rifle shot resounded, the boom echoing off the hillside. Jude dove into the tall grass, his arms over his head, his chest bruised by the stony ground. When his heartbeat slowed, he lowered his arms and parted the weeds he was lying in to check out his surroundings. Of course it was only a local farmer scaring crows. God dammit, why did every little noise set him off?
Post traumatic stress disorder, the shrink had told him. Having experienced a bomb blast, you’re bound to get flashbacks.


By the way: if you can guess the meaning of the title, you'll get a free copy :-)

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The New Catherine Cavendish Collection


I am so happy to welcome Catherine Cavendish back onto my blog. She is a horror-writer extraordinaire with an enviable back-list of fiction. All available (see below). 

The Bride of Annandale



My novella – Linden Manor – features the ghost of Lady Celia Fitzmichael, about whom a scary nursery rhyme was written. This has haunted my main character – Lesley Carpenter – since childhood. In it, Lady Celia is never mentioned by name. Instead, she is referred to as ‘The Scottish bride.’ And woe betide you if you laid eyes on her ‘blackened face’.
This sparked curiosity in me to go searching for other brides who might also have decided to linger around after their deaths. My path led me to Mannsdale, Mississippi and The Chapel of the Cross. In 1852, this chapel was consecrated, built by a Mrs Johnstone, in memory of her husband who owned the Annandale Plantation. But the haunting is by neither one of this couple. It is their youngest daughter, Helen, who seems reluctant to leave.


Helen Johnstone was just sixteen years old when she met the man she would fall in love with. His name was Henry Grey Vick and he was something of a catch. Good-looking, well connected, his ancestors put the ‘Vick’ in ‘Vicksburg’. Christmas, 1855 saw their first meeting, and it was love at first sight. The young couple quickly decided they couldn’t live without each other and planned to marry.
Mrs Johnstone urged caution. She was in the process of fulfilling her late husband’s ambitions by building a grand house - Annandale. Concerned that Helen was simply too young to make such a momentous decision as marriage, she insisted the young couple wait a few years. Their love remained steadfast and, in 1859, Mrs Johnston finally gave her consent to the wedding, which would take place at the Chapel of the Cross on May 21st of that year.

Sadly, tragedy was to follow. A week before the wedding, Henry made a quick trip to New Orleans to collect his suit and a few items which would grace his new home. He decided to visit a local hostelry for a drink and ran into a former friend of his called James Stith. Sadly, the two had parted on the worst possible terms a year earlier and Henry saw no reason to rekindle their acquaintance with any kind of acknowledgement. Stith, though, had harboured a grudge all this time and it was about to boil over. He smashed his glass down on the bar and announced, loudly enough for all to hear, that he would not drink in the same establishment as Henry Grey Vick who was, he said, ‘no gentleman.’ In the South, especially at that time, there were few worse insults.
Tempers were lost, a brawl ensued, punches were thrown. In the heat of the moment, Henry challenged Stith to a duel. Honour demanded that Stith should accept the challenge. When he had calmed down, Henry remembered a vow he had made to Helen never to participate in such an ‘affair of honour’. He withdrew his challenge and apologised to Stith. Too late. Stith would not accept the retraction and held him to it.

The duel was held near Mobile, Alabama on May 17th 1859, with all due ceremony accorded to such events. The police were just in the process of moving in to stop it, when Henry fired and deliberately missed his opponent. Stith was not so magnanimous. He shot to kill – and succeeded. A single shot to the forehead and Helen’s beloved fiancé was dead.
In the confusion that followed, Stith and his seconds escaped. Stith would later join Confederate forces and be killed at Vicksburg – perhaps there is some irony in that at last.
Henry’s friends took his body back to Vicksburg, then went onto Annandale to break the terrible news to Helen. She was devastated and became hysterical. The Chapel was already decorated for their wedding. She had been so blissfully happy. Now her life was shattered.

She would not be parted from Henry and insisted his body be brought back to Annandale and buried in the Johnstone family plot in the Chapel, where he remains to this day. Helen insisted that she wished to be laid to rest next to him, when her time came.
Helen remained in her deep, dark pit of grief for many months, spending her day sitting by Henry’s grave, talking to him. Her mother became increasingly fearful for her sanity. She took her daughter to Scotland to visit her late husband’s relatives. After a year had gone by, Helen seemed sufficiently recovered to return to her home.
She eventually married a minister – George Harris – having told him that, while she would make him a good wife, she could never hope to love him as she had Henry. The couple moved away to northern Mississippi and had three children.
Helen lived on until 1916, and is not buried next to Henry. She lies instead next to her husband, but it seems this really wasn’t her wish. Over the years, there have been many reports of a beautiful young woman, dressed in nineteenth century mourning, weeping at Henry’s grave. When concerned people have approached her, she has simply vanished before their eyes.


Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:
Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it. 

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish Bride herself. A sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley - terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last. 



Linden Manor has just been reissued by Crossroad Press and is available from:
And other online retailers

Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
And are currently available from:
and other online retailers

Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with her here:


Sunday, January 01, 2017

An Epic Fantasy on a Grand Scale



I was asked by The Books and the Bear  marketing company if I would like to host one of their clients: J.W. Webb, and provide an honest review of his epic fantasy The Shattered Crown



Synopsis

You ride into peril, Corin an Fol!
Those are the words of the witch at the ford. Corin an Fol, mercenary, brawler, womaniser and drinker, ignores them and thus finds himself caught in a tangled web of sorcery, intrigue and dark prophesy.
'Highly recommended to Game of Thrones (fans.)' The Shattered Crown is the second novel in a sweeping new fantasy series called legends of Ansu featuring bespoke drawings by Tolkien artist, Roger Garland.
When the High King is murdered and his broken crown goes missing, Queen Ariane suspects the wily hand of Caswallon the sorcerer. She forms a secret council and rides out to find the Oracle of her Goddess, to see if her worries are proved right. But Caswallon is onto her and the noose tightens fast around the young queen.
'The Shattered Crown has a good positive message, secrets, danger, action, intrigue, and fantastical characters and amazing energy!'
Corin an Fol returns to his village seeking solace in drink. Instead he finds an old contact waiting for him who persuades him to join Queen Ariane in her fight against Caswallon. And so, like the queen, Corin an Fol is snared by the sorcerer. But he has a big sword and a bad attitude, but is that enough to survive the hordes Caswallon sends against them?
Emotionally engaging with lots of action, The Shattered Crown is set thousand years after the epic Gol. Dare you journey with Corin an Fol? The road is dark with many twists and pitfalls!

My Review

I’m not sure if I should have read the first book, Gol Legend of Ansu, but I soon got into The Shattered Crown and enjoyed reading about Corin – a feisty, swearing, sarcastic, ready-for-a-fight character with a heart of gold (and probably with the added feature of having to save the world). He is a very rounded character the reader can easily relate to.

The Shattered Crown (for me) is a character-driven novel, populated by unforgettable people: Ariane, a queen who can swear and fight along with any man, Caswollon the antagonist (although there were plenty of those in the book, all with serious attitude problems), Gribble the goblin who taught me some curses and far more.

This book was hard to put down with action upon action in mythical scenery on a grand scale. The author has produced an epic where nothing is as it seems and has set it down in an easy-to-read way. He has created a world that is somewhere between Game of Thrones and Tolkien and will be enjoyed by those fans. This is a pure fantasy epic that leaves you wanting more and I recommend it.

4.5 STARS

Author Website/Blog Link
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Amazon Page:

Friday, December 02, 2016

You Like Poldark? You'll Love This. The Thief's Daughter by Victoria Cornwall

I love most of the books coming from the Choc-Lit Publisher and this one is really no exception. I adored it. Five stars!

Description:


Hide from the thief-taker, for if he finds you, he will take you away …
Eighteenth-century Cornwall is crippled by debt and poverty, while the gibbet casts a shadow of fear over the land. Yet, when night falls, free traders swarm onto the beaches and smuggling prospers.
Terrified by a thief-taker’s warning as a child, Jenna has resolved to be good. When her brother, Silas, asks for her help to pay his creditors, Jenna feels unable to refuse and finds herself entering the dangerous world of the smuggling trade.
Jack Penhale hunts down the smuggling gangs in revenge for his father’s death. Drawn to Jenna at a hiring fayre, they discover their lives are entangled. But as Jenna struggles to decide where her allegiances lie, the worlds of justice and crime collide, leading to danger and heartache for all concerned …

My review:

This is a powerful book in which the author, Victoria Cornwall, takes her readers smack bang into 18th century Cornwall. She places you firmly on the beach with the thundering waves during a  smuggling and wrecking operation. This is a book that you live as you read.
Jenna is a memorable character--feisty, daring and loyal. She's seen her husband hanged for poaching and enough of the "dark side" to know that she will never be a part of it. Yet if your family are thieves then you can never escape it. When her brother needs help, she enters the smuggling world for him.
She meets lovely Jack Penhale whose aim in life is to rid the Cornish coast of these illegal traffickings, and so she is stuck in between falling for him and loyalty to her brother.
These characters will remain with me for a long time. Their struggles with a life that includes cruel punishments, workers' fayres (where women stand on a podium and are sold to the highest bidder) are in such strong contrast to the wonderful but wild landscape of Cornwall. I don't usually read historical novels but I thoroughly recommend this book for those who enjoy an excellent, nail-biting read.

The Thief's Daughter is released on 3rd January 2017 - see the Publisher's page: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/the-thiefs-daughter/

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dianne Noble Shows you the Real India

Dianne's first book about India
Anyone who knows anything about me (and of course you all do) will know that I adore literature about India. Give me a book like "A Suitable Boy", "Heat and Dust", "City of Joy" and you'll know I'm in my private Heaven.

I felt the same with author Dianne Noble's first book Outcast and now her second book A Hundred Hands.

You can find my reviews on Amazon or here. Ms Noble's strength lies in her wonderful ability at conveying a sense of place to the reader. With each of her books I was transported to the slums of Kolkata and lived alongside the poverty stricken. Yet with each book the author transmits hope for the future. She writes as if she loves the places and this filters down to the reader.

I was so impressed by her books that I asked if I could interview Dianne on here. And here she is.


Dianne's second book about India

 

Sue:   Dianne, welcome. I’m so happy that you agreed to be “grilled” – sorry – interviewed on my blog.  I have read both your books, Outcast and A Hundred Hands. Both are about the slums of India.  Can you tell us something about them from the point of view of the author? Did you have to do much research to write them?

Dianne: The slums are gut-wrenching, literally. There is filth underfoot and even in the air. At the end of each day I stood under the shower and the water ran black.

Most of the research was from personal experience. I would never presume to write about a country unless I had actually been there – great excuse to continue my travels.
However, I needed to consult maps of Kolkata because those available in India are all different to each other! And I needed to confirm train times from Howrah Station to Puri and Bhubaneshwar, for which I used The Man in Seat 61, a great resource which gives all the information but also tempts you down other tracks!
  
Sue: Why do you love India, do you think? (And I believe you do because it comes through in your writing).

Dianne: The first time I visited India I was ten years old, flying back to England with my parents and brothers after a long tour in Singapore. Our RAF Hermes plane took almost three days, stopping in several countries to re-fuel, and de-ice the wings. We’d travelled out in a troopship – a whole month and school lessons every day – but the Suez Canal had been closed so here we were in Calcutta, as it was then known. I remember the heat, the highly spiced kofta they gave us for breakfast with a fried egg, which none of us could eat, the hole in the floor toilet we had to squat over while flies buzzed around us, the strange smells and sounds. How could I have known I’d begun a lifelong love affair with India?
I believe it’s the heat, the smells and colours, the sheer exoticness (I know, it’s not a word!) that I love about the country. That and the indomitability of people who have absolutely nothing but believe that if they bear their misfortune with fortitude life will be so much better in the next incarnation.

Sue: Yes, I like the word "exoticness" - are you sure it doesn't exist? I also agree that the thought that life will be so much better in the next incarnation gives the people such hope.
Definitely one of your writing strengths is that you have a wonderful power of observation. How do you cultivate that? Do you wander about with a note-book noting down ideas?

Dianne: Ten years ago I volunteered to spend three months teaching English to street children in Kolkata. It proved to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Broken, crumbling buildings sit amid lakes of raw sewage; filthy children encrusted with sores are homeless; families live on a patch of pavement so narrow they take it in turns to lie down. They give birth – and die – there.
I almost bottled out, felt my resolve dying daily amid the horrors and hardship, but I started writing a journal and it saved me. Every night, no matter how dirty and exhausted I felt, I recorded one child’s progress with the alphabet, another’s disappearance, how many times I’d been hugged. It was a form of de-briefing but also cathartic. It got me through and these diaries formed the basis for A Hundred Hands and Outcast.
Wherever I travel I take a notebook. I take photos too, yes, but in Third World countries it wouldn’t be right to try to photograph people who are at the bottom of the luck ladder so that’s when I jot down everything I see, smell, hear, taste.














Sue: Wow - your resilience under hardship is fantastic. 
Your next book, I believe, will be set in Morocco.  Can you tell us something about that?

Dianne: Book #3, actually, is set in Egypt and features a forced marriage and people living in poverty in The City of the Dead, a massive necropolis in Cairo. Its title is Oppression and it’s currently with Tirgearr who I hope will publish it early in 2017. The oppression is not only felt by the young Moslem girl who is sent to marry an old man, but for Beth, the protagonist of the story, who lives in fear of her husband.

Book #4, my work in progress, tells the story of sisters whose relationship with their mother is fractured. When she asks them to come to Fez, Morocco to help celebrate her 60th. Birthday, they are horrified to discover she has become second wife to a Moroccan, and appalled he’s involved with child labour.

Sue: I know I'll love them and look forward to reading them.  I think your novels should be published by one of the “Big Five” (or Six, I can never remember). Would you ever consider finding an agent?

Dianne: Thank you Sue, that’s a very kind thing to say! I failed miserably in my original search for an agent or publisher. There were 32 rejections before Tirgearr offered me a contract and I am eternally grateful to them for their faith in me.
However – never say never!

Well done, Tigearr Publishing for spotting real talent then. Good luck, Dianne with your future books (I want first read please!) and thank you for answering my questions.

You can find Dianne here: Amazon
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