Review: The Possession by Michael Rutger

The Possession by Michael Rutger
I can’t remember the last time a book gave me chills the way this one did. I will admit to never really having read Stephen King so I can’t say if it’s as perfect for his fans as the cover claims but for me – who used to devour James Herbert and Dean Koontz books, was a huge fan of shows like X-Files, the Twilight Zone, Poltergeist the Legacy and pretty much any and every horror film – this was right up my street. It’s a lot of fun but so, so creepy and atmospheric. I loved it.



A group of explorers arrive in the remote town of Birchlake, Northern California, to investigate the appearance of mysterious stone walls.


A teenage girl has disappeared without a trace.


Soon it becomes clear that the two events may be connected in the most terrifying way. Because sometimes the walls we build end up closing us in . .


I didn’t realize when I started reading this that it was the second in a series but honestly it didn’t matter one bit. Yes there are a few references to the first book (which are mild spoilers if like me you plan to go back and read it later) but I didn’t really feel like I’d missed much. Hell, I was around 150 pages in before I even discovered it was the second in a series (and that was only when I was looking it up on Goodreads).

The blurb is a little lacking in detail but the series is about a team who investigate myths, urban legends and unexplained phenomena, filming it for a YouTube show. When the team’s leader and presenter, Nolan, discovers his ex wife Kristy is in a small town in Northern California investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl he convinces his team that now’s the perfect time to visit that town to look into the mystery surrounding miles of walls in the area. No one knows who built these walls but they’re incredibly old, are scattered throughout the area and often run for miles with no discernible purpose.

This is really an excuse to keep an eye on his ex (and maybe rekindle something) but as both Kristy and Nolan and his team start to experience some very strange things it seems both mysteries may be connected and there may be something very wrong in this town.

It’s a classic creepy horror story with everything that entails – think Blair Witch (dark woods, mist, deserted streets, strange noises in the middle of the night, objects turning up in places they weren’t left and a strange figure only certain people seems to see). Basically there were moments when it scared me witless and yes I did have to put it down to go check the doors were locked (more than once).

What makes it a great fun read though is how the author mixes these genuinely chilling moments with a lot of humor. One second I’d be wanting to hide under the covers and the next I’d be chuckling at a one liner. I loved the relationships between Nolan and his team (Ken, Molly and Pierre). Ken and Nolan in particular are clearly close friends with a long history and there is some great banter between them to break the tension when it all starts to get a bit much.

The story itself fascinated me too. Initially I was probably in a pretty similar place to Nolan’s team when he said walls, I mean how excited can you really get about some walls? But, the more that’s revealed about them the more intriguing it gets and it turns out these walls are a real thing (I googled). I was probably less interested in the missing teenager side of the story (sorry missing teenager) but when the things happening get increasingly strange and spooky it was definitely hard to put the book down.

I do think the first half of the book was the strongest as the mystery around what’s going on in the town, whether supernatural forces are at work or there’s a more rational and scientific explanation, keep you glued to the pages. For me the unknown is almost always scarier than known so once the reveal was made it lost a lot of the tension and on occasion wandered into the slightly bizarre and confusing. As for the ending, I think it worked but was maybe a little too easy or maybe I mean too resolved.

Regardless of this though I loved the author’s writing style and the tone of the whole book. The characters are likeable and the humor just worked for me. Was it a little slow in places? Maybe, but the other parts had enough tension and atmosphere to more than make up for it.

Overall a great read and one I’d recommend if you love a creepy horror story and don’t mind a wander into the weird. I’m off now to read the first book in the series as I think Rutger could become a favourite author.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won a copy of this book in a Readers First Giveaway. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare
by Beth O’Leary

I absolutely adored this book, so much so that the second I finished it I wanted to flip right back to the start and read it again. I laughed (a lot) and I cried (a little) but mostly this book just made me so happy.


Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix.

Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations?
Can true love blossom even if you never see one another?
Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There are very few books that make my re read pile but I think this is one that I’ll be dipping in and out of on a regular basis as the whole thing just made me so happy. As soon as I finished it (with a huge big smile on my face) I immediately wanted to go back to the start and experience it all over again.

It truly is a wonderful premise and one I will confess I didn’t fully appreciate when reading the blurb. I mean would you be willing to share a bed with a complete stranger (albeit at different times), I really don’t think I would, and it’s a mark of just how desperate to get out of her current situation Tiffy is that this seems like her best option.

I was kind of expecting this to be a light and fluffy rom com and while it is funny and sweet (and yes romantic), there’s a definite edge to it and it deals with some serious issues. Tiffy is trying to escape a seriously toxic relationship and Leon works in a hospice and is renting out his bed to raise the money he desperately needs to help his family. Romance is actually the last thing either of them wants and I really liked the way the relationship develops slowly, initially as a supportive friendship, giving them a chance to deal with everything else going on in their lives.

It’s actually a fair way into the book before Tiffy and Leon ever meet and or even speak to each other over the phone and I loved the fact that most of their communication was via the post-it notes they leave for each other. The whole getting to know one another through letters is one of my absolutely favourite romance tropes and the author does it so well. The notes were perfect and genuinely the highlight of the story for me, although I was desperate for them to finally meet, and a memorable meeting it is.

I absolutely loved both Tiffy and Leon and the relationship that grows between them was a joy to watch. Tiffy is probably about as far from me as it’s possible to get personality wise (she’s the arty, creative, outgoing and quirky type) but she’s such a generous and positive person that I found myself completely invested in her story. Leon is a little more reserved and introverted so much more difficult to get to know but beneath his hard shell there is truly a heart of gold and he really broke my heart at times.

The story is told from alternating pov’s and it’s very obvious whose chapter you’re reading as they each have very distinctive styles. Like their notes to each other Tiffy’s chapters are much more flowing and emotional while Leon’s are a lot more succinct and almost diary like. I will confess I found Tiffy’s chapters easier to read but I liked getting to know the characters this way.

As well as Tiffy and Leon there are quite a few secondary characters too and the author does a brilliant job of creating some very well rounded and unique ones. Every single one jumps off the page and feels completely real.

This was a really emotional read and I have to confess to both laughing out loud and also maybe shedding the odd tear but it truly is an uplifting read and one that I would recommend to everyone.

I used my Readers First points to claim a free copy of this book. This in no way influenced my review.

Review: From The Shadows by G.R. Halliday


THE BLURBFrom the Shadows

A stunning, atmospheric police procedural set against the grit of Inverness and the raw beauty of the Scottish Highlands, this is the first book in the DI Monica Kennedy series.

Sixteen-year-old Robert arrives home late. Without a word to his dad, he goes up to his bedroom. Robert is never seen alive again.

A body is soon found on the coast of the Scottish Highlands. Detective Inspector Monica Kennedy stands by the victim in this starkly beautiful and remote landscape. Instinct tells her the case won’t begin and end with this one death.

Meanwhile, Inverness-based social worker Michael Bach is worried about one of his clients whose last correspondence was a single ambiguous text message; Nichol Morgan has been missing for seven days.

As Monica is faced with catching a murderer who has been meticulously watching and waiting, Michael keeps searching for Nichol, desperate to find him before the killer claims another victim.

From the Shadows introduces DI Monica Kennedy, an unforgettable new series lead, perfect for fans of Ann Cleeves’ Vera, Susie Steiner and Peter May.


From the Shadows is a promising start to a new crime series set in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a dark and atmospheric story that is truly gripping at times and while I didn’t love it quite as much as I hoped I would this is definitely a series I want to read more of.

The story is told primarily from two points of view, DI Monica Kennedy and social worker Michael Bach, and is part police procedural, part mystery/thriller with Kennedy leading a murder investigation and Bach trying to track down one of his clients who has disappeared. It’s an intriguing story, a little chilling and gruesome at times but one that goes in a very unexpected direction and kept me guessing throughout.

Both Monica and Michael make for interesting characters and are for the most part likeable however I’m not sure I ever got to know them well enough to feel truly invested in them. Both clearly have issues and shadows hanging over them from the past but while there are some hints as to what these may be I still feel like there’s a lot to learn about them. I suspect the author is holding things back for subsequent books in the series but I feel like there could have been a bit more development of the characters and more depth given to them. I also found the constant references to Monica’s height (she’s very tall) and her insecurities about it became irritating after a while. It’s great to have a detective who’s different from the norm but it seemed a little overdone.

Similarly, I felt like the secondary characters such as DC Fisher and DC Crawford were also under developed. They seem a bit stereotyped and lacking in depth at times and it was the characters who appeared very briefly who made the biggest impression. It also felt to me like the relationships between characters were all a little too serious and formal. It would have been nice to see some humour (even if it was dark) or an emotion other than anger or guilt to provide a contrast to what is a very disturbing and tense narrative.

The highlight of the story for me was by far the Highland setting and the very dark and chilling atmosphere the author creates. It’s here that his writing really shines and he very skillfully conveys the wildness and remoteness of the rural communities while also taking us into the seedier parts of the city of Inverness, giving a real sense of place. I loved the way he showed the different sides of the area, the beauty and peacefulness and also the isolation and danger. It actually made me want to head up north for a visit despite the plot.

Overall, while not perfect From the Shadows does show some real skill from the author and I think there’s a lot of potential for the characters to grow and develop. As the first book in a series I think it shows promise and I will certainly be looking out for more books by the author.

I received an advance copy of this book via a Readers First giveaway

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ARC Review: 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant



The Blurb

Two random strangers. Thirty-six questions to make them fall in love.

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for taking part in the psychology study (in Paul’s case it is the $40, in Hildy’s the reasons are significantly more complex). The study poses the simple question: Can love be engineered between two random strangers?

Hildy and Paul must ask each other 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back again. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?

My Review

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

As soon as Hildy and Paul started asking each other the 36 questions as part of a psychology study I was 100% hooked. The style of the book is probably not for everyone given that probably 70-80% is pure dialogue (or instant messaging) but it really just worked for me.

Good dialogue is probably what I enjoy most in a book so I don’t mind if there are no descriptions, no musings on innermost thoughts or even much in the way of action. I get so much more out of a couple of people having a chat and in this book it’s done absolutely brilliantly.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much, the banter between the two of them was just so funny but very believable. There are a few darker moments but even they are almost instantly flipped to light.

Hildy and Paul are perhaps a little cliched but honestly, in what romance are there not cliches and I feel like the fact they turned out to be different to what they initially appeared was kind of the point.

There were only really a couple of things that niggled me about this book. Firstly, their ages. I didn’t realize this was YA and spent forever trying to figure out how old they were (it turns out Hildy is 18). There were bits that just seemed a bit silly for those ages, Hildy complaining she’s never going to find love for example (she’s 18). Personally I think it may have worked better if they were a little older (college rather than school).

I also wasn’t so keen on the chapters which were in regular prose. I kind of found myself skimming through them to get to the next question and honestly Hildy needs some new friends as Xiu and Max were horrible.

Overall though this was a brilliant read and one I’d definitely recommend. Sweet, hilariously funny and completely addictive. Loved it. And, if you’re curious about what I mean by weird format, here’s a couple of sneaky peeks (yes, there are drawings too).

I won a copy of this book in a Readers First Giveaway. This has in no way influenced my review.

Where to Find It

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You is available from the 19th October