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Book Review: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Atmospheric characterisation and narration. *** (3.5)

It’s dark, gritty, and at times, uncomfortable. But that’s what Gillian Flynn creates purposefully and brilliantly through her atmospheric characterisation and narration.

Of course, I wasn’t introduced to Gillian Flynn until I read Gone Girl, which by the way, I loved. It instantly became one of my favourite books. I wanted more from her. This is when I was attracted to Sharp Objects. Her debut novel.

We are introduced to a Camille Preaker, a young journalist trying to make a better life for herself. Her sister Marian died at a young age and Camille has been battling her own demons. Her family is hurting and so is Camille, but she wants to focus on her career. That is until she’s sent back to her hometown to report on the death of a girl in Wind Gap, Missouri, her hometown. Another girl is missing, and this is thought by her boss, Curry, to be a big story told by a local.

This is not a detective mystery where we follow the police. Law enforcement doesn’t exist in this story.

Camille is investigator, reporter and resident. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s disturbing, it’s creepy. This is all achieved, in my opinion, from the characterisation.

The story itself is painfully slow. I actually found myself telling my better half repeatedly, ‘nothing has happened’. The last 85% though is where EVERYTHING happens. It came and went as quick as a box of Krispy Kreme donuts!

To conclude, I enjoyed the way the story was told but I thought the book was way too slow.

*** (3.5 stars)

Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn

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Holiday Reading – 6 Book Reviews!

I spent 2 weeks chilling in the Lanzarote sun – eating, drinking beer and watching the World Cup. Not only did I gain loads of weight, but I also read a fair few books on my dinky little Kindle.

Without further ado, here are my book reviews of those I read:

Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott: ****

Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott

Olivia is known to the police. But what happens in this will keep you guessing right until the end!

You’re thrown into the mix with someone who is known to Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas. Olivia Brookes has called the police due to her husband and children disappearing.

In an interesting turn of events, the case ends, but commences once again two years down the line in much weirder circumstances. Tom Douglas is put on the case to solve another issue around this family.

I don’t want to reveal any outcomes as I think it’ll ruin your reading experience. You can, however, guarantee a very mysterious read which draws you in, boggles your mind and keeps you guessing.

****

Behind Close Doors by B. A. Paris: *****

Behind Closed Doors B A Paris

I read this on holiday along with 7 other books. This was the best read… proving anything can happen behind closed doors!

Anything could be happening behind closed doors right now – at your neighbours’ home, a place of work or even behind a closed door in your own home!

Behind Closed Doors was an exhilarating experience. It’s cliché to say, but I couldn’t put the book down.

Everything seems pleasant for Grace. She has a handsome and wealthy husband, and an adorable sister. Although all seems great from the outside, we know that something isn’t quite right; we have the intel of her mind and narrative.

Grace and her husband Jack speak fondly of each other. Individually, they are two likeable and strong characters that people desire to be like. So, what’s their secret to happiness? It’s much darker than you think.

Check out this book. Following Grace was a dark, twisted and psychological test!

*****

The Break Down by B. A. Paris: ***

The Break Down B A Paris

After Behind Closed Doors I had high hopes…

After Behind Closed Doors I had high hopes. Sadly, The Break Down didn’t live up to that standard.

Cass is on her way home from a night out. It’s stormy, her husband tells her not to go back through the woods. She does though. On route, she drives by a car. Has it broken down? Someone is sitting inside but they don’t respond to Cass pulling over. So, Cass continues and arrives home safely.

Cass hears the news that someone died in the woods the same night she passed through it. Consumed by guilt that she didn’t get out the car, Cass can’t ignore her guilty conscience. Even worse, she can’t tell anyone that she saw the woman before she died.

And ever since, Cass is being harassed… she receives calls and forgets things, just like her mother did!

It’s full of twists and it’s methodically planned. However, it is slightly far fetched and I was underwhelmed by the end.

***

Survivor by K. R. Griffiths: *** (3.3 stars)

Survivor K R Griffiths

A book which took too long to get going… But once it did, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

This horror thriller was a little bit of a weird read for me. The main reason being that, for me, it took way too long to get going. I got to around the half way mark and stopped reading. A couple of days later I picked it up again and loved it.

Although Clive is a dark and twisted killer, I quite liked him – he made me laugh. The author did well to make sure that Clive had both a false and accepted personality combined with his real and dark fantasies (which quickly become a reality). It was great to experience Clive. I began to like Clive most after his clever and witty moves outside the coffee shop!

If I didn’t stop reading this it would be a 4 star, but because I struggled to get into the story from the off, it has to be a 3 star.

***

She Did It by Mel Sherratt: ***

She DId It Mel Sherratt

In the world of business, can you trust anyone?

In the world of business, can you trust anyone? You don’t truly know anyone, even those who you think you have a friendship with.

She Did It offers the view of the two main characters, Esther and Tamara. Tamara hires Esther, little does Tamara know who she has hired.

They both have secrets and there’s no telling what is going to happen between these two very different people.

My criticism being that the plot is quite basic and that it doesn’t hit the highest of heights. From psychological thrillers I expect deeper meaning and especially a personal connection with the main characters.

All in all, a book which made me want to finish but didn’t grip me.

***

The Torment Of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus: *****

The Torment of Rachel Ames Jeff Gunhus

This was tormenting for me let alone Rachel Ames!

A novella which hooks you and ensures sure you read it until the end. It’s dark, it’s creepy and it has a cunning end. I swear there were some parts of this book where I was a bit creeped out and it wasn’t meant to do so. It truly is harrowing.

I was reading this with no idea what was going on. I couldn’t decide on whether this was going to be a horror kind of ending or a dark fantasy ending. It’s a clever story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rachel isn’t the typical kind of protagonist you might follow in a book, but that’s simply another element to this book which makes it what it is. There is a lot of underlying genres and themes in this book, which you can piece together after the end.

This was tormenting for me let alone Rachel Ames!

*****

 

The last book I started whilst away was Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – I will be publishing my review of this one soon!

Have you written or read a book that you thought was amazing? Recommend it to me!

Book Review: “Secrets and Lies” by Lynda Renham

New home, new village, old secrets… and a haunting spirit?

Flora and Adam McIntosh move to the country. It’s a setting they’re not used to, but they absolutely love it, or at least Adam does. Flora isn’t so keen. She’s torn. She can admire the home’s charming quaintness, but she can’t shake off the feeling of a presence in the home.

The proud villagers are welcoming, but they’re also suffocating. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Everyone’s doors are open, literally, even if you don’t want them to be.

I did enjoy this book. The premise was great. Wherever Flora was, she wasn’t safe. Nowhere was safe for her. This added a lot of mystery and fear of what was going to happen next. The mix of overfamiliar villagers, secrets, Flora’s inquisitiveness, and a haunting spirit made this story addictive.

There were however a few things about the narrative I didn’t enjoy. Reflection and thoughts. Flora has many of them during the story. They were mostly following the line of questioning of: Is it this? Is it that? Could this happen? Or could this? Maybe this person did this. Maybe that person did that. It was a little much. Let the reader think about these questions, not Flora. Or not Flora as regularly as she does throughout the book.

There was also a twist which I DID NOT see coming. But as I reflect (not as much as Flora) on it, I feel the author cheated a little bit here and there to make this twist impossible to guess, which kind of ruins the fun. A character can’t react a certain way to something and then later in the book it’s revealed that same character already knew about it. Unless I’m misunderstanding the scenes, I would say that’s cheat storytelling. I can’t say too much more without giving away this twist (it’s not the big twist). Hopefully those of you who have read it know what I mean.

Overall, a fair 3 star rating. 4 star for the premise itself, brought down by my little doubts. 

Secrets and Lies by Lynda Renham

Review: “Lost Child: A Gripping Psychological Thriller” by D. S. Butler

You’re safe at a local summer fete. Right?

Having a child snatched from you is unthinkable, especially when that child was under your supervision. It not only affects you, but the entire family. Trauma, guilt, sadness and emptiness rock the Farrows, until there’s a glimmer of hope dangled in front of Beth.

This was a good, easy read. It kept me guessing and I enjoyed the mind games Butler played!

3 stars

Lost Child by D. S. Butler

‘Masterful Storytelling. Eery Silence. Emotional. Terrifying.’ A Quiet Place – Film Review

A Quiet Place. An amazing spectacle. Masterful storytelling, eerily quiet – on screen and in the theatre – emotional, raw, terrifying. 

As an Odeon Limitless member, I’m always at a local Odeon. For the amount of films I’ve already seen in 2018, this was the first one which urged me to write this film review. It’s that good!

Let’s get down to my review of A Quiet Place.

Plot

Set in 2020, Earth’s human population has been catastrophically wiped. We’re introduced to the Abbott family. Husband Lee, wife Evelyn, sons Marcus and Beau, and daughter Regan.

The opening scene is the family scavenging for supplies in a store. Bare feet and using sign language. They’re sneaking around for medication and other supplies.

I don’t want to get too deep into the plot (you’ll see why in my review). Minimal awareness of the story will allow you to enjoy this film even more!

Review

This film is being billed as a horror movie, but I think it deserves more credit. It’s not just another typical modern horror. There’s too many of those kind of movies where you can expect a killer or haunting spirit, jumpy moments, people running into danger or falling over. THIS is not one of those horrors. A better description would be that A Quiet Place is a thriller with horror themes.

Key elements of the film

There are so many elements in the first few seconds of the film which foreshadow the narrative. Equally, the film’s title kind of gives away the biggest theme of the film. Quietness.

The opening scene where the Abbotts are scavenging has stuck with me most. Mainly due to the masterful storytelling on show. It allows you to make many observations about the world we’ve been introduced to. There’s an empty food store that has been cleared out of everything, except all of the crisp packets. Such a simple yet powerful touch of storytelling!

Sound is the horror element of this film. Everyone is scared of making any sound, even us watching the film. During the film, I actually diffused a cough. Fed up with people scratching in their bucket of popcorn? Well, no chance of that in this film. You would feel so awkward digging into noisy popcorn.

I’ve been trying to think of a new horror idea of my own for some time. Sound being the fear in this film is brilliant. It’s completely unique. Although there are many films where people try to be quiet in segments when they’re hiding from someone, A Quiet Place uses sound as a fear to the extreme (in a good way). How we associate silence in day-to-day life is completely transformed in A Quiet Place.

The tension created in the film is unbelievable. My fingernails were non-existent by the end of it and my palms were so clammy. There’s not much more to say on the tension, other than YOU WILL FEEL NERVOUS DURING THIS FILM.

Another nice touch is that we’re following a traditional, loving family in a completely untraditional world. But this is what makes this movie so raw and emotional. There’s a clear, underlying love between each of the characters, but every family has their problems. There’s such a strong scene which made me shed a tear. It was such an authentic moment in the film which wasn’t overdone and executed well!

Star Rating: 4.7/5

Although minor, there were a couple of parts where I was a bit confused or I thought were not entirely explained all that well.

One is a scene where Lee lights a fire. We see other fires being lit miles away around him. But what was the point in this? At the time I didn’t really think anything of it. Now thinking back, I’m a bit like, ‘why did they show that?’ Maybe I’m oblivious and it was important to show that there are other people living in this world? I’m not sure, but there’s a scene with an old man that shows there are other people around, so was there really any need for the fire scene?

Anyway, I loved this film. The tension it created, the new fear of sound, the connection and disconnection between the family, the amazing storytelling. Tie it all together and you have a fantastic film!

If you haven’t seen this film, go and see it. You will not regret it!

Claret Press – Fundraising & Spreading Awareness for Motor Neurone Disease

I received an email recently from a small indie publishing house known as Claret Press, informing me they had just launched a short story competition. I thought it had a lovely incentive and story behind it, so I thought I would spread the word for them.

What you need to know

If you’re a writer and you want to take part, this is a little bit of background about their reason for the fundraise and how you can take part:

“We here at Claret Press are organising a fundraiser for the MNDA. We are a small indie publishing house and we have just launched a short story competition. One of our writers, Sarah Gray, suffers from motor neurone disease and the idea for this competition was sparked by her short story collection Half Life. The short stories will deal with all aspects of motor neurone disease: for people living with MND, carers, family members, heath and social care professionals, Association staff and volunteers and anyone else affected by MND. Winning stories will be published in a collection, and net proceeds will go the support people living with MND.”

Sarah Gray’s short story collection Half Life deals with aspects of physical and mental illness in innovative and original ways. The Judges will be looking for similarly engaging and novel stories of no more than 5,000 words inspired by these issues. Stories can be written from any perspective and in any format. This can include murder mystery, thriller, romance, post-modern, horror, etc.

I’ll certainly be giving this a go for a great cause, I encourage all you other writers to do so too!

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Find out more by heading over to their website!

My Dark Fantasy eBook Alive has a new book cover, and it’s FREE on Amazon!

My dark fantasy eBook, Alive, has a brand new book cover. It’s also free to download from January 12th to the 15th!

Alive’s synopsis:

For nearly a year now I have been living a lie. My husband and two daughters believe that I am dead. No one can know our secret.

New cover for dark fantasy eBook, Alive

I’m really excited to officially reveal the new front cover of my eBook dark fantasy short story, Alive.

Feast your eyes on the new book cover!

Dark fantasy short story Alive T. J. Blake

It’s a massive improvement on the last cover for Alive and truly echoes the darkness, fear and suspense of the story.

This amazing cover wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the talent of Jordan Baker from The Bakery Creative. Thank you for helping me and well done for doing a fine job!

Dark fantasy short story

Although it may seem biased of me to say, but I love Alive. It may only be a short story, but it’s one I really enjoyed writing and re-reading. I read it recently and it had me on edge.

Here’s what other readers are saying about Alive:

Read the whole book continuously… ‘Alive’ is a dark fantasy. I must say I enjoyed the book very much as I’m addicted to dark fantasy stories. I love his writing style and I’m a happy reader.– Amazon.com

Read this short story whilst I was on holiday in Cyprus and loved it! The afternoon passed by so quickly as I couldn’t put it down, a great little page turner. A creepy story line with a great twist, would highly recommend.– Goodreads

Download Alive for free from Amazon on Kindle from 12th-15th of Jan!

Alive will be free to download on Amazon for the weekend – starting tomorrow the 12th of January, and lasting until Monday the 15th.

Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so why not leave a review too!

New Year’s Eve – What’s to come in 2018? The next Endurance & a new Alive eBook cover

Endurance front cover

It’s New Year’s Eve. Do you want to know what I’m doing right now? I’m writing. Finally!

I’m not afraid to admit, I am quite disappointed in myself, mostly because I didn’t nearly spend enough time writing for the year of 2017. I’ve been writing more than ever, but not in terms of writing creatively for my books.

Having changed jobs and started a writing business, my time has been taken up by these two things. I guess that just happens, life gets in the way. Even so, it’s still disappointing!

Something I have found though from my 3 hour writing spree is that I haven’t lost the passion or enjoyment whilst working on the final book of The Endurance Series.

I’ve been working on Endurance 3 since I finished my last book, Deception, back in 2016. And here we are in 2017, on the brink of 2018, still a lot of work to do before the last instalment is released – it’s worth the wait though!

Endurance is coming to an end… or is it?

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 15.13.01

The plot and story of the final chapter in the series, Endurance: Recovery, is all planned out. All that is left to do is to write it.

Only 12,500 words into the book so far, and a lot has happened already!

If you enjoyed the fast pace, action and gore in the first two books, then you’re going to love this one too!

I won’t go into too much detail about the characters in this one because there’s potential for spoilers. So we’ll just say this – if you’re hungry for more kick-ass fighting, blood and infected maniacs, keep an eye out for the release of Endurance: Recovery.

It’s the last instalment of The Endurance Series, or is it? You’ll have to wait to find out!

Endurance: Recovery, coming 2018!

New eBook cover for dark fantasy short story, Alive

Back in 2016 I released a short eBook dark fantasy short story called Alive. This is the synopsis:

For nearly a year now I have been living a lie. My husband and two daughters believe that I am dead. No one can know our secret.

2018 will see a new front cover for the dark and chilling short story!

The planning of more stories

I’ve got a catalogue of book ideas to choose from, but I am always looking for new ideas to entertain you all.

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you all have a great night tonight seeing in 2018.

I’ll see you on the other side!

Halloween eBook Promotion on Amazon (29th Oct – 1st Nov)

Hello everyone,

With spooky times ahead, I thought it was only fitting to throw my five books into a special Halloween Book Promotion exclusive to Amazon.

The Creepy Book Promo – Free Books & Reduced Price

As part of my book promotion, four of my books will be available to download from Amazon for free! No need to spend a single penny on these books – you can download them to your Kindle for absolutely free. That also means that you don’t have to wait for pay day to read my books!

Free books

My books which are free right now on Amazon include:

The Endurance Series

Endurance – getBook.at/B00E8Q9QCU

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Endurance: Apocalypse – getBook.at/B00Q57MIOI

endurance-apocalypse-book-cover

The Author – getBook.at/B00HYN2QAI

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Alive (short story) – viewBook.at/AliveTJBlake

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Deception is Reduced for Halloween!

My last book in the promotion is my latest novel, Deception: A Love of Lies. This 5 star novel will be available for a heavily reduced price of just 99p/cents.

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Why are you still here?! Go and download each of my books!

Once you’ve read them, leave an honest review for them on Amazon!

Enjoy!

My Latest Microfiction 12 Word Story – ‘Missing’

What can you do with 12 words? Write a story! Check out my 12 word story, ‘Missing’.

I really enjoy microfiction and flash fiction stories. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with just a minimal amount of words?

In just a few words, you can paint a picture inside someone’s mind, you can convey meaning or several meanings, and you can tell a story.

My latest miniature story ‘Missing’ is a 12 word story that I wrote and tweeted for the website and online community 121 Words.

Now, take a look at the story below and see what you think it is about. It may or may not be what you believe; and that’s the beauty of it.

A 12 word story – ‘Missing’

'Missing' - a 12 word story (121 Words)

What is it about? Comment below!