The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

25300888The Beast of Barcroft went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting, in fact, on reflection, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but whatever it was this surpassed it in many way.

We start the story finding out about the neighbour from hell, Madeleine Roux.  Well, that’s probably a bit of an extreme description but it’s certainly the way her neighbours feel about her.  Madeleine likes to feed the birds and critters.  Unfortunately, as you may know, if you place food outside it doesn’t just attract the soft and fluffy animals that you want – it attracts everything, including vermin, and Barcroft is swiftly becoming overrun. Pull up a pipe in your garden and it will likely be followed out by a slick wave of rats.

Ben McKelvie and his girlfriend have just bought a house in the area.  Little did they suspect that their neighbour would cause them such problems.  Anyway, a long story short, Ben becomes involved in the neighbourly battle to try and stop Madeleine encouraging yet more vermin onto the surrounding properties.  He also suffers a family loss and, having become a bit embittered and grumpy about life in general his girlfriend finally decides enough is enough and leaves.  She at least leaves him with the dog.  Well, about the dog – the problem with all sorts of critters being attracted to the area is that bigger predators follow in their wake and Ben’s dog becomes the victim of a most unlikely predator.

Now, the neighbours are up in arms, the local authority can do very little, the local police seem disinterested at most and Ben, in desperation, enlists the help of a curator from the National Zoo.

I’m not going to go into the plot at all, other than the above.

What we have here is a sneaky story that leads you off down one route, in a very nicely written and plotted way, only to find yourself taking a different fork in the road completely.  I found this fast paced and really quite intriguing not to mention down right creepy as the momentum builds.

The setting is the suburbs. Beyond the immaculate gardens is a strip of woodland with a river running through it – the Four Mile Run Trail.  It all sounds really quite lovely and if it wasn’t for whatever is lurking in the shadows in the woods it probably would be.  Something has come to Bancroft, something evil, something not easily banished, it knows your fears and is stalking in the shadows.

The characters.  Ben, is a little difficult to like at first.  He’s quite abrasive and angry but he does eventually endear himself to you.  Lindsay is quite a likeable character.  Hard working and dedicated to the things she enjoys.  As soon as she finds out about the predator in the neighbourhood she pretty much throws herself into the search putting herself at great risk.  Then we have Richard Severance, a cryptozoologist and his buddy Dr Alex Standing Cloud, who is an expert on Native American studies.  These two are a pair of show stealing characters – I really liked them – they didn’t have a major role but when they put in an appearance you certainly knew about it.

Overall I really enjoyed this.  I found it incredibly creepy although seasoned horror readers would probably find me a little lily livered and take this in their stride, and, it gave me a serious case of the heebee geebies.  I thought the writing was smooth and the author builds the tension really well.  And, let’s not forget the creepy house – it practically exudes menace.

I certainly hope more books are planned!

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Sea, Sun, Sand and something good to read…

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Every Tuesday over at the  The Broke and Bookish we all get to look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  The topic this week is:

Beach Reads Week — top ten great beach reads

To be honest I don’t really pick books that I think are suitable for the beach, I just read what I like to read all year round.  In terms of books that I’ve read though that I think would be suitable I’ve gone for a mix of complicated and light and easy.  After all when you’re chilled out and not stressing about all your usual activities it’s easier to concentrate isn’t it.

  1. Romance factor: The Outlander (Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon. Alternate history/time travel.
  2. Fun factor: The Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell – really good, fun and easy to read.
  3. Whimsical/Fairytale feel: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marllier – which I absolutely love!
  4. Longer vacation book: Patrick Rothfuss the Name of the Wind – because this is a bit of a huge book but well worth it!
  5. Book to concentrate on: The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston – this is a great book, alternate Roman.
  6. Thought provoking: Just City by Jo Walton.
  7. Love story: The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons.
  8. Alternate stories: Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye – this is a story with parallels (although not a retelling) of Jane Eye and it’s brilliant.  Definitely make a great holiday read and one you won’t be able to put down.
  9. Something scary: The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart – critters in the dark and creepy woods.
  10. The series that keeps on giving: (so you can continue with yet more after you come off holiday) Grimdark reading by Mark Lawrence: The Broken Empire and The Red Queen’s War).  Great series, highly recommended.

 

Dull November brings the blast, Then the leaves are falling fast…

Posted On 30 November 2015

Filed under Book Reviews

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Well, November certainly did bring the blast – I’m surprised the trees are still standing, never mind the leaves falling!

So far this year I’ve read 108 books – I’m thinking I might just get that to 120 by the end of the year but we’ll see (my list so far here).  Such a lot of good books this year, I’m looking forward to and dreading in equal measure making my top 10!  Anyway, my monthly round up – what I’ve read/plan to read, any events, etc:

Books read:

  1. Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck-Wrigley
  2. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers(readalong)
  3. Kushiel’s Avatar (readalong)
  4. The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
  5. The Beast of Barcroft Bill Schweigart
  6. The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M H Boroson
  7. The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livingston
  8. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  9. The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan- review to follow
  10. The Grudging by Michelle Hauck – review to follow
  11. The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman – review to follow

Backlist:

None – my bad

Unfinished series completed:

None – also bad

Books Bought:

  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – really looking forward to this one.
  2. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire (hoping to start this series in January as part of a readalong organised by Over the Effing Rainbow so if you’re looking for a new series to pick up and fancy jumping on board there will be a notification soon).
  3. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.

Review Books:

  1. Drake by Peter McLean
  2. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
  3. Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
  4. Northwoods by Bill Schweigart
  5. Changers, Book One: Drew by Allison Glock-Cooper, T Cooper
  6. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
  7. The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman
  8. Shutter Man by Richard Montanari
  9. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
  10. Sidekick Returns by Auralee Wallace
  11. Beyond Redemption by Michael R Fletcher
  12. Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier

Cover Spotlight:  (I love both of these, they have a lovely wintery feel)

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Which of these covers do you like best?  My favourite is the first:

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Events:

Backlist Backburn is an end of month event organised by Lisa at Tenacious Reader. If you’ve caught up on any of your backlist then call over and link up.   I find this a good incentive to dust off some of my books!  I’ve done a bit abysmally this last month but I’m hoping to read some of my backlist books in December.

Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and Bookish (every Tuesday).

Tough Travel by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn .  Last Thursday was the last Tough Travel – it’s a shame to see this end as it was such good fun not to mention a great way to highlight lots of books every week!, but lots of thanks to Nathan for running this for so long and making it such an excellent weekly event to take part in.

Completed the readalong for Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey. Thanks to all the participants for making this so excelent.  A readalong of the next in series is anticipated for January if anybody wants to jump onto that – notification to follow.

Took part in Sci Fi Month 2015 which started at the beginning and concluded at the end of November.  As part of this event I took part in a readalong of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and read The Machinery by Gerrard Cowan (review to follow)

Signed up for two further sci fi events.  Details here.

I’m hoping to read two (maybe three) of my SPFBO (link here) books in December as I’ve kept review copies for December fairly low.  Currently read 4 out of 10 so I’m a little behind at this point and would really like to get the figures up to 7.

 

 

What next?

So, Autumn is upon us.  It matters little that we’re not ready or that the Summer wasn’t long enough because the nights are drawing in and so with that in mind this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Top Ten Books for Fall/Autumn 2015.  Stop over at the Broke and Bookish for more on this topic.

I find that I read quite a lot of dark and creepy books throughout the year to be honest – I just like that type of novel!  But, I do like to step it up a little as Halloween approaches.

  1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I haven’t read the Grisha series although i do have the books (one day when I invent a time turner for real) I love the look and sound of this book – can’t wait
  2. The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz – I simply loved the Flex so can’t wait for this one.
  3. The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart – dont’ know what to expect with this one but the title and premise is very intriguing.
  4. The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffiths – excellent Vampire series with two very strong main protagonists.
  5. Red Delicious by Kathleen Tierney – nasty, urban vampires and all sorts of other creatures.
  6. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black – I love Holly Black and I’ve been waiting to read this one.
  7. Horns by Joe Hill – still not read Joe Hill but bought this book with Autumn in mind so hopefully….
  8. Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel – this is a lesser known book by this author but I loved the sound of this – it sounds very dark.
  9. Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry – had this one waiting for a while now – this seems like a good opportunity and having just read Deadlands by this author I’m quite keen to read more of his books.
  10. …………………..I’m leaving this blank so that everyone can recommend something to blow my socks off.  I want something dark and creepy, I fancy something with either ghosts or witches (or both!)

That is all for me this week. What do you have on your autumn list – do you change your style to reflect the time of year??

August brings the sheaves of corn…

Posted On 2 September 2015

Filed under Book Reviews
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My monthly round up – what I’ve read/plan to read, any events, etc:

Books read:

  1. Skin by Ilka Tampke
  2. Blade of the Broken by Jake Scholl (review to follow)
  3. Dawnbreaker by Jay Posey
  4. The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden
  5. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
  6. Twelve Kings by Bradley P Beaulieu
  7. Updraft by Fran Wilde
  8. Duchess of the Shallows by Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto (review to follow)
  9. Thief of Hope by Cindy Young Turner (review to follow)
  10. Iduna by Maya Michaels (review to follow)
  11. Forging Divinity by Andrew Rowe (review to follow)
  12. The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey (review to follow)

(Oh dear – behind with reviews!! Need to catch up)

Backlist:

None

Unfinished series completed:

Dawnbreaker by Jay Posey

Books Bought:

  1. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Review Books:

  1. The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart
  2. An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
  3. Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish
  4. The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz
  5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  6. The Traitor by Seth Dickinson
  7. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Cover Spotlight:  (I love both of these)

US or UK cover:?? (US for me with this one – not fond of the UK cover tbh)

Events:

Backlist Backburn is an end of month event organised by Lisa at Tenacious Reader. If you’ve caught up on any of your backlist then call over and link up.   I find this a good incentive to dust off some of my books!  This month I read the Erin Lindsey book but didn’t review it in time so will include it for September’s backburn.

Top Ten Tuesday at The Broke and Bookish (every Tuesday).   I actually missed this week’s topic.

Tough Travel by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn 

Finished round one of the SPFBO – my entry for round 2 – The Weight of a Crown by Tavish Kaeden

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