Blog Tour · Books · Review

Review: Strange Ink by Gary Kemble (+ An Exclusive Extract!) | Blog Tour

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When washed-up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past. One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

This is said to be horror, in my opinion, it isn’t really horror. I’d call it more of a mystery/thriller with a hint of magic realism.
The plot was interesting and intriguing – it did hold my interest but it wasn’t super gripping. However, I did really want to see how the story played out, there were a few parts where I did find it a bit slow.
Being a mystery kind of story and watching the plot slowly unfold, I think it’s enjoyable at the time of reading but will end up being unmemorable. I think this is the first book in a series? It works well enough as a standalone that I don’t know if I’d read a sequel, I guess it depends if the premise interested me.

Harry: Although I wasn’t super attached to Harry, he was a decent main character. I didn’t love him but he wasn’t boring and I did want to know what was going on with him. He, himself wasn’t overly interesting or a complex character but he wasn’t a bad protagonist.

There was a whole cast of side characters, which I did enjoy their parts and friendships with Harry but again, it was nothing overly great but it was enjoyable at the time.

It’s definitely worth picking up, I overall think it was a good read.

Rating: 3.25 Stars

**Keep reading for an extract!**

The interview turned out to be as superficial as Harry feared. No big surprises. No big scoops. Andrew Cardinal was renowned for his control of information. His background was in army intelligence, after all. All the real stories would be dealt out to the national journalists on the

campaign trail. Vessel talked about his own family but made no attempt to probe Harry about his personal life. There was no doubt that this was all about showing Harry what a great guy he was, how ready he was to help lead the country. But at least Harry had got an interview. It would make a nice page three lead. Front page, if they were desperate.

Harry closed his notebook and smiled.

‘Thanks again for seeing me,’ he said. ‘That just about covers everything for me. Is there anything else you’d like to add?’

He always asked the same closing question. It was one of the few techniques he’d been taught at uni that actually worked in the real world. Harry expected Ron to shake his head, get up, and show Harry out of the office. Instead he paused, shook his head, then took a deep breath.

‘No. But there’s something I’d like to ask you.’

Harry paused, waiting for the punchline. When it didn’t arrive, he shrugged and dropped back into the chair.

‘Oh yeah? What’s that?’

‘Why are you still at the Chronicle?’

Harry opened his mouth. Closed it again.

‘I mean, shit mate. When we first met I was busting my gut on George Street. And now, let’s face it – off the record – I’m about to become Treasurer. And you. You’re still there. You’re polite. You seem bright. Far brighter than some of those dickheads over at the Brisbane Mail. That Terry Redwood wanker, for example. What’s he got that you haven’t got?’

Harry laughed. His face was burning. He remembered being drawn into the story-by-story dogfight with Redwood at uni. He hated himself for it, but Terry really pushed his buttons. At extremely low moments, Harry wondered whether he would have gone ahead with the Cherry Grove story if not for the desperate urge to land a knockout blow on Redwood.

‘I don’t know. You know what happened, right?’ Harry said. When Ron didn’t say anything, he continued. ‘The uni almost got sued. I almost got sued. I had to put my name to an extremely embarrassing apology. And pretty much every door, except this one,’ he threw a hand in the vague direction of his office, ‘closed in my face. Before I even graduated.’

Vessel wiped his mouth. ‘But the story. The story was good. And God knows how an undergrad journalism student got it.’

‘Well, I wish you were there back then to tell the Vice Chancellor that.’

Harry rubbed the back of his neck.

Ron shrugged. ‘Shit happens, Harry. You’ve stewed in purgatory long enough.’

Harry stared down at his closed notebook. This certainly wasn’t what he expected.

‘Harry, why don’t you come on the campaign trail with us?’


‘Why not?’

‘Because the Chronicle is a local paper. We can’t justify devoting basically half our staff to a federal election.’

‘This isn’t coming from me, Harry. This was Andrew’s idea. He wants you on the bus. Local angle, and all that.’

‘Thanks for the offer, Ron. But I can’t.’

Ron shrugged. He finished the sentence he was typing, then stood up and shook Harry’s hand, over the desk.

‘All the best for the campaign, Ron,’ Harry said.


Harry tried to pull away, but Ron held his hand a moment longer. ‘I mean it, Harry. This shit is beneath you.’

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*Thank you to Titan Books for sending me a copy of Strange Ink for review


Blog Tour · Books · Review

Arc Review: Vox By Christina Dalcher



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Silence can be deafening.

Jean McClellan spends her time in almost complete silence, limited to just one hundred words a day. Any more and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins.

Now the new government is in power, everything has changed. But only if you’re a woman.

Almost overnight, bank accounts are frozen, passports are taken away and seventy million women lose their jobs. Even more terrifyingly, young girls are no longer taught to read or write.

For herself, her daughter, and for every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice. This is only the beginning…

The plot of this is definitely heavily influenced by The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, it has a very similar world, women have been stripped of their freedom and their rights.
The first half of the book is pretty slow, not much happening but there is world-building, helping set the scene of Jean’s current situation. It is an interesting concept, it really makes you think about what it’d be like to have your voice stripped from you.
I feel as though the story could’ve benefitted from being cut down a bit, though it is just  320ish pages, it felt longer and dragged in places. There was a lot of medical detail, which doesn’t add in anything unless you understand it, which I’m assuming a lot of people won’t.
There were a few plot twists, which I didn’t predict – which was really great and surprising and definitely added more enjoyment, as well as picking up the plot.

The last 100 or so pages was definitely the best part, the pace picked up and it got a lot faster to read. I did worry since it’s quite similar to The Handmaid’s Tale that it would end similarly but I’m glad it didn’t. Although the ending was quick, everything was resolved fairly quickly, maybe a bit rushed.


Jean: She’s an okay protagonist, I did feel for her and her struggles. I did sympathise with her, I can’t imagine living in a place like that and watching your children being brainwashed into believing the ludicrous views of this society.
I definitely do not agree with the adultery – her husband was awful and there was no way of her splitting up with him, given the current situation but I still can’t get behind it, it was happening before the counters were forced upon women.

Side characters: Patrick, Jean’s husband – so boring, so annoying, hated him!
Steven, Jean’s eldest son – Such a little shit.

Jackie, Jean’s old college friend – She was a crazy feminist, loved her!

Rating: 3.5 Stars!
*Thank you so much to HQ for sending me an ARC of Vox and to be apart of Vox Blogger Day!*

Vox is available in the UK on August 23rd
Preorder your copy now! Amazon UK | Book Depository


Blog Tour · Books

Blog Tour: No Turning Back by Sam Blake Extract

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The lovely people at Bonnier Zaffre invited me to be part of the blog tour for The Cathy Connolly trilogy by Sam Blake to celebrate the release of the third book!
Due to the books not arriving in time for this post, this will just feature an extract from the third book No Turning Back! I will have reviews up for each book when I read them, so keep an eye out for those!

‘Sit down will you, you’re making me nervous standing up.’
Arching her eyebrows, she pulled the guest chair out from in front of his desk like a belligerent teenager. And like a belligerent teenager, she sat and immediately leaned back until it tipped precariously on its back legs. O’Rourke looked at her witheringly.
‘If that chair falls over, Cat Connolly, and you injure your wrist trying to break your fall, you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do to McIntyre. When’s that fight?’
‘Middle of April.’ Cathy abruptly set the chair straight.
He was right. The Boss, Niall McIntyre, her friend and coach, would kill her if she injured herself. As a result of the explosion she’d been off the kick-boxing competition circuit for a year. Now she was fit again and they were putting everything they had into getting her ready for the next National Championships. She was going to win back her title and she was going to wipe the floor with her rival, Jordan Paige.
‘That’s better. Now let’s look at the promotion list properly, shall we?’
O’Rourke flipped open his laptop and pulled up the members’ portal on the Garda website, running his eye down the list to ‘Forensic Profiler’. It was a new position, listed last after other roles and ranks: Sergeant Sub-Aqua, Warrant Officer, Dog Handler, Community Liaison. It was the first time An Garda Síochána had created the position, mainly through lobbying from Cathy and her report on their last case. Uncovering a trans-European criminal empire had been an added bonus to finding her best friend alive, despite getting shot at twice during the process.

And everyone reckoned that the job was made for Cat Connolly. Very few applicants had her specific training in forensic psychology, her experience. She’d got a first in every single assessment she’d handed in for her Masters. The final piece, due in May, would give her the formal certificate in Forensic Psychology, but her tutors were confident it was a foregone conclusion, had written her a glowing recommendation. She’d ploughed through ahead of most of her classmates, knowing her time wouldn’t be her own when she was back in the unit and fully operational.
‘So who got it? Who’s the wonder boy?’ Cathy didn’t even try to keep the sarcasm out of her voice, pulled her necklace from the neck of her black sweater, running the Tiffany dog tag along its silver bead chain as she waited for him to answer. She couldn’t look at him.
O’Rourke stared at the name on the list for a long moment. Running his hand over his chin, smoothly shaven today, he took his time replying.
‘Well?’ Cathy stared at him suspiciously. At times like this his broken nose and military buzz cut made him look seriously shifty, but he couldn’t hide anything from her; after all these years she could read him too well. ‘What are you not telling me? One of the lads said he was from Donegal. Why have I never heard of him if he’s gone and got my fecking job? Has he trained with the Met or something?’
‘You’ve done that.’
‘I know, but … What?’ She could tell from O’Rourke’s face that something was wrong.
‘He’s a sergeant. He was stationed on the border.’
‘So he’s got a rank on me.’ She looked at him; she could almost feel her mouth turning down at the corners. Glum, that was the word.
O’Rourke glanced at her. ‘He’s in his thirties.’
‘So he’s got a Master’s or a PhD, has he?’
O’Rourke shrugged. ‘Maybe.’ He hesitated, ‘He’s the Taoiseach’s nephew.’

Make sure you check out the posts from the others involved in this blog tour!


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