Whitelines Paper and App {Review}

Hey Everyone,

A little while ago I came across something on a study Instagram account that had me intrigued. As I looked into it I found there were actually quite a lot of students that use it.

I’m talking about Whitelines Notepaper. Whitelines is designed with special whitelined grid that can be scanned using an app so you can produce a digital photo of the handwritten image.

Below is an example of an original and scanned copy.

I really like how this works. I mean I still have to type up stuff but at least all notes are automatically there for me to reference back too.

The only slight issue is that pastel doesn’t show up well on the scanned copy. Black and dark colours show up really well though.

All in all it’s a really good little tool. The notebooks aren’t too expensive either. The A4 one was £6.50 and A5 was £5.50 both can be found at Amazon and are available with Prime shipping. The app to use in conjunction with the paper is free to download via your app store.

I’d love to know if you use Whitelines and how you find it.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

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Blog Tour: The Eden Paradox by Barry Kirwan {Guest Post}

Today I have a Guest Post for you from the author of The Eden Paradox, Barry Kirwan.

Blurb…

A murder… a new planet mankind desperately needs… a thousand-year old conspiracy… What really awaits us on Eden? In a world beset by political turmoil, environmental collapse, and a predatory new religion, a recently discovered planet, Eden, is our last hope. But two missions have failed to return. Blake Alexander and his crew lead the final attempt to bring back good news. Meanwhile back on Earth, Micah Sanderson evades assassins, and tries to work out who he can trust as he struggles in a race against time to unravel the Eden Paradox.

Extract…

Why I wrote the Eden Paradox

I’ve always loved Science Fiction. When I moved to Paris, I joined a writers group as a way to meet people and make friends. I got caught up in a short story which featured a four-person crew landing on Eden, the first habitable planet we could get to, and managing to upset an indigenous alien species they didn’t even know was there, and promptly getting killed in the process. I took it to a workshop in Paris, run by Michael C Curtis (fiction editor of Atlantic Fiction). Most of the twelve participants hated the story with a vengeance, e.g. this is the worst first line ever written. Michael noted that although they hated the story, they talked about the characters as if they were real people they knew. Keep the characters, he said, and change the story. So that’s what I did.

I read up on Fermi’s paradox – why, if there are logically many habitable planets in the galaxy, haven’t we encountered serious evidence of extra-terrestrial visitors? There are several obvious answers – the galaxy is really vast, so nobody’s found us yet; they found us but we’re not interesting; the galaxy is very old, and civilisations may have come and gone and we might be in a ‘dead patch’; etc. So, to me, there were four questions framing my story:

1. Why haven’t we met alien life yet?
2. When we do, will aliens be friendly or hostile?
3. Will they be smarter than us?
4. Will we survive the experience?

I figured, what if there is civilisation, but it is very far away. What are the chances they are friendly? And if they’re not friendly, could we puny humans do them any damage? Well, yes, I thought, because the laws of physics suggest that nuclear weapons and possibly nanotech invasion would be nasty for most (corporeal) organisms, no matter how far advanced. So, how would they avoid these defences if they wanted to invade? Inside help, I thought, and there I had the makings of a story which has ended up a trilogy in four parts (okay, so it is a tetralogy, or quadrology if you prefer).

As I worked on it, and particularly as I got into the second book, I got more and more interested in alien intelligence, how different and more advanced it could be – not easy to conceptualise, obviously, but worth some effort. Why would it be more advanced? Well, if you think about galactic timescales and travelling distances, and times for any alien society to rise, mature, stagnate and fall, chances are good that there will be species some millions of years ahead of us on the evolutionary scale. So, Star Trek, where humans are pretty much top dog, is a nice idea, but, statistically speaking, unlikely.

The Eden Saga isn’t just about aliens and space ships; far from it. It’s about humanity, and what could happen if we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a far superior civilisation – would we cope? Could we adapt fast enough? To me these are important questions, because the answers reveal things about ourselves, and because one day, as we see further into the galaxy, we’ll find something, or more likely something will find us. Then it won’t be fiction anymore. I believe we should think ahead…

So, the answers to the four questions, according to the series, are:

1. We already have, a long time ago, and they’re due back
2. Mainly hostile or at best utilitarian; altruism is not that common an alien value
3. Mostly, some by a long way
4. Well, for this one, you have to read the series…

In the first book, the Eden Paradox, we find out that aliens visited us a thousand years ago, and are coming back, and that they left one or two behind to mind the store. The fate of humanity rests in the hands of two men, Micah on Earth, and Blake on Eden, the nearest habitable world, but they only have a short time to figure it all out before the aliens arrive.

People have said The Eden Paradox is not like normal science fiction, that it is more like a thriller set in the near future. Personally, I hope it remains fiction for a very long time, and that we can hide under the galactic radar for another few centuries before advanced aliens come a-knocking.

Book links…

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13054426-the-eden-paradox?ac=1&from_search=true
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0982369840/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Author links:

Website: http://www.barrykirwan.com
Blog: blog.barrykirwan.com
Twitter: @Eden_paradox
Facebook: https://facebook.com/EdenParadox

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

It’s A Family Thing. The Spooky Tale by Sue Wickstead {Review}

A Spooky Tale by Sue Wickstead

Hey Everyone,

Today Alexis and I have a book review for you. Unfortunely due to Ill health, Christmas and other general life stuff this has been a little delayed getting out.

Originally we received the book back in October when we first read it.

This was different to Sue’s other books which we have read (Jay-Jay The Playbus) but it was still just as entertaining. You can see my other review here

Alexis really enjoyed this book and all the different elements and it is still one if her favourites now.

This book tells the story of a group of children who go on a walk with their teacher. Their walk becomes a great adventure and without spoiling it for others, it is fun.

If you have any young children I would highly recommend this book. It’s got a great story and illustrations.

You can find more of Sue’s work here on her Website.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

First Line Friday: Flash Fiction

Today I am posting a little piece I wrote for The Fiction Cafe: Writer’s Group, First Line Friday.

The goal was to write a piece using the first line prompt and to keep it under 750 words.

My piece came to 486 Words.

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To save his own life, he would have to kill his humanity. He had managed to survive 1 year, 3 months, 2 weeks and 3 days in the new world without killing one of them, without killing anything other than game to eat.
Times were changing, now faced with the reality that he would have to kill one of them to get out of his makeshift camp.

The virus came quickly, it seemed to take hold and wipe out populations of towns within a few days. Not many people were left now. He had always watched programmes like The Walking Dead, 24 Hours, Zombieland with a morbid curiosity. Assuming that things like that would never happen but planning his survival routine. When it came down to it, of course, his imaginary plans meant very little, he had no idea how to really survive when fiction became reality.

He survived by sheer luck, catching what he could to eat, looting shops and keeping to himself. He came across the odd person or group but avoided staying with them long-term. Survivability was better when alone. Fewer people, less attraction and less weight of others to carry.

He had found a shed to camp out in a few nights ago, surprisingly in decent shape and well protected. A few minor adaptations and it was a good place to rest for a while. However, overnight a few wandering pools of rotten flesh had come past and were now banging against the only exit. He hadn’t killed one before, naively holding out for a cure he couldn’t bring himself to kill something that was once and could possibly again be human. He knew if he wanted to get out of there he would have to kill them though, he knew they would attract more. He was trying to figure out what had caused them to stay and not go past, perhaps his scent or the ashes of the old fire. Perhaps these things were more capable of intelligent thought than he first thought.

He knew there was no danger of them breaking in so he just laid there with his stuff all ready to go, the sun peered into a small hole in the ceiling and it caught his eye. He got to his feet and carefully climbed onto the old workbench. He pushed the ceiling with both hands and it gave a little, with enough force he could create a hole to climb through. It didn’t take long considering most of the wood had started to rot but there was a hole small enough to get out of.

He pushed through his backpack and bat and heaved himself up. Carefully making his way to the edge if the roof to get down without distracting the half-human creatures. He dangled down and dropped to his feet, carefully he backed away. Once he thought he was safe he ran.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-louise x

Book Tour: Joshua N’Gon by Anthony Hewitt

prince

Today I have an excerpt for you from the novel Joshua N’Gon Last Prince of Alkebulahn by Anthony Hewitt as part of the blog tour hosted by Neverland Book Tours.

Blurb…

Joshua N’Gon is a Fourteen year old foster child from Africa. He has grown up in a loving home in north London and for all intents and purposes he was an ordinary teenager. The reality though could not be further from the truth. Joshua is a mystery wrapped up in an enigma and he is beginning to understand he has a destiny that is far beyond what he could ever have imagined.

On his tenth birthday he receives a mysterious package from his birth parents. He is given articles of technology that even his young mind realized were so far beyond what he knew and understood that they were almost magical. Joshua straps on a tribal hierloom of obvious alien origin – a miraculous multi-tool he calls his RCT– Real Cool Tool that bonds with his arm and is irremovable. And so begin his physical changes too, the headaches, the flashes of genius, the visions and the amnesia.

With his friends Brick and Mina they slowly help him to unravel the mystery of who he is. In the meantime dark corporate forces are gathering in the horizon as Joshua’s talents and his interest in finding his family has piqued the curiosity of powerful people. Soon as his life and the life of those he loves are threatened he must come to grips with his gifts and the miraculous alien technology that founded his people.

Excerpt…

17 Asimov Street, Wharnton Estate

Kenneth pushed the white checker on the board with a self-confident flick of his index finger and looked up at Joshua with his game face on, his spinning checker settling on a white square. Joshua nodded and moved his black checker diagonally. A cunning smile unraveled on Kenneth’s lips. He jumped three of Joshua’s players, destroying any chance of his brother saving face in this impromptu draught game.

Kenneth leaned back in his chair and shook his head.

“For someone as smart as you bruv, your rubbish at Checkers.”

Joshua shrugged.

“Dad was good at it. He said he used to play it in Jamaica a lot as a kid.”

“You’re not Dad, champ. Take my word for it.” Kenneth grinned.

“I can’t be good at everything, bro. What are you going to be good at if I keep winning?” Joshua quipped.

Kenneth glared at him and shook his head

Joshua chuckled.

“Chillax bro, I didn’t make you win. You did that fair and square.”

Kenneth eyed him appraisingly, gauging his truthfulness then brightened.

“One more game?”

“Nah, got some school work to do.”

Kenneth leaned back in his chair. It creaked.

“You’re on holiday, and they still have you on a leash. They not teaching you how to survive in the big bad world are they. They want you to be a follower. School is a waste of time, man.”

“Don’t let Mum, hear you saying that,” Josh said. “She believes we never should stop learning.”

Kenneth’s laugh sounded like a sarcastic bark.

“Mom wants you to go through this school ting. Me, on the other hand, had plans for my life from day one.” Kenneth became more animated; it was obviously a passionate issue with him. “Dad wanted me to get a trade too, and I think they knew before I even knew college wasn’t my route. They left that for you.”

Joshua sighed.

“Why do you always make it seem like Mum is against you and for me.”

“It’s true though,” Kenneth said. “Ever since you came on the scene, the baby gets it all.”

“That’s not fair, man. Mom and Dad treat us both the same.” Joshua protested.

Kenneth sat up a bit straighter.

“You know what I can’t help thinking sometimes? What it would be like to be an only child, living in a house with no secrets. Would Dad be still here and not in prison?”

Joshua’s eyes blazed.

He stood up from his chair and loomed over his big brother, his nose flaring, his lips pulled back as he forced the words through his lips.

“You keep talking like that, and we may need to have words outside.”

Kenneth knew more than anyone that Joshua would do anything in his power to have Fredrick home and to believe otherwise was like spitting in his face.

“Is that a good idea bruv? I’m nineteen.” Kenneth said evenly.

“It won’t matter.” Josh’s voice deepened.

Both boy’s eyes met and locked.

Kenneth felt his brothers anger and felt his cheeks warm at the memory of being beaten by Josh when he was seventeen.

He may have pushed him too far.

“It stings, doesn’t it?” Kenneth asked, looking away from him. “The truth I mean.”

Joshua points to his brother’s head with an accusing finger.

“What’s wrong up here bruv. Always talking but saying nothing.”

“I’ve got eyes little step brother. I’m not stupid; you were different even as a baby and even then, I wasn’t important enough to be told everything.”

“Yeah, I know my story, so what?” Joshua said. “You were young, what did you expect them to say.”

“I couldn’t put my finger on it as a kid but growing up I saw it. And the funny thing is Mom and Dad still kept me in the dark.”

“How do you explain something you don’t understand yourself?” Joshua asked.

“They whisper about your gifts, your family, your friends,” Kenneth said.

“Not secrets,” Joshua corrected. “Mysteries.”

“You saying I know everything I need to know about you?” Kenneth asked.

Joshua nodded.

“Do I know everything about you, Kenneth? Tell me that. We all have secrets.”

“Maybe I felt, I wasn’t the focus of attention again. I had been replaced by this strange kid who could walk and speak at ten months.”

Joshua shook his head.

“You don’t get it, do you. When you were stressing about me, I wanted to be you.”

“Me?” Kenneth asked shocked.

“Yeah. How many times do you have to explain who you are to your friends?” Joshua’s voice raised a pitch. “How many times?”

Joshua’s smile was sardonic.

“Your name is Taylor; Dad’s name is Taylor and so is Mom. What am I? N’Gon.”

Kenneth nodded.

Joshua kept going.

“I have to be constantly fronting about my birth parents. Now it’s out there, that I’m a foster kid, I have to deal with all the crap that comes with it.”

Kenneth was quite for a while then said.

“I didn’t look at it like that.” He said somberly.

“Why should you.” Joshua said, “It didn’t affect you bruv. I had to deal with the bullying and rumors.”

“What rumors?” Kenneth asked.

“You know.” Joshua snapped. “The same ones you heard and maybe even helped spread.”

“Me!” Kenneth spat.

“You want to get real, brov. Let’s get real.” Joshua snapped

“You think I’d do that?” Kenneth asked.

“I dunno would you? Feeling like a G with the bangers on the estate could be easier than sticking up for your brother.”

“I didn’t spread any rumors. I just heard the stories. What could I do?” Kenneth asked.

“What did you do? Did you back my corner? Nah, you started believing that I had something to do with Dad betting banged up.”

“It wasn’t like that. I just didn’t know what to believe, what to think.”

“I’ll tell you. Mum’s got threatened, Dad took justice in his own hands, things got out of hand, and some of the gang got hurt.”

“You were seen.” Kenneth insisted.

“By How High Hughie, really?” Joshua asked. “You taking the word of a bre whose always drunk over mine. Family sticks together, man. Mum and Dad taught us that.”

Kenneth nodded, solemnly.

“Ok, ok the things they were saying were bonkers, and I should have stood up against them.”

“I would for you,” Joshua said

Josh stood up, turned away and headed out of the kitchen.

“Hey, Josh!” Kenneth called after him.

Joshua stopped and looked back.

“The next time you call me out, I’m going to take you up on the offer. Then we will see who can take who.”

Both boys grinned.

“Yeah, we’ll see, fam, we will see,” Joshua said.

Joshua NGon Last Prince of Alkebulahn by Anthony Hewitt

Links…

Book website: www.thelastprince.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36222715-joshua-n-gon?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0956266010/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

Creative Planner Magazine Are Looking For Writer’s, Artists and Shops.

Hey!

As you may know I am part of the lovely team over at The Creative Planner Magazine.

So far our first copy has had 1139 downloads and that number is still growing.

However, we are looking for your help.

Are you a Planner addict who would like to to write an article for us?

Are you someone who likes to doodle, draw and create beautiful things for your planner?

Do you like to do DIY for your planner such as making shaker dashboards or felt paperclips?

Are you a shop that sells stationery items such as stickers and washi etc? And would like to provide us with a code for our readers?

If you answer yes to any of these and would like to write an article for our Spring issue then please pop a comment below or visit us TCP Facebook or TCP Instagram or feel free to join our contributors group on Facebook.

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

Planner Queen’s January Sub-Box {Review}

Hey Everyone,

I was recently asked by the lovely Corrina over at Planner Queens if I would like to review one of their planner subscription boxes.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a box full of stationery mysteries through the post so I happily accepted the offer.

I received the box and had to open it immediately. This is what I got;

Memo Page Flags

Cloud Sticky Notes

Planner Designed Washi Tape

Two Journaling Cards

Die-Cuts

Tab Journaling Stickers

Sticker Sheet from Jems Journal

Daisy Pin Badge

All these items are really cute. I love the little Daisy Pin badge. This is a lovely little box that isn’t going to break the bank. It is well presented and has bits that every stationery lover will like.

You can get a box from here, they are priced at £12.99 (£13.99 if on pre-order) and shipping is free.

Corrina has been kind enough to offer a code for 10% off as well Royal18.

Thanks for reading

Emma-Louise x

Queen Mabel and Doris PR Package {Unboxing}

Hey Everyone. Hope you are all well.

Today I’m back with a review of my latest PR package from Queen Mabel and Doris.

This time I received two inserts. Both had plain black covers. One was is weekly diary style insert and the other is financial tracker.

Queen Mabel and Doris

I am yet to do a pen test on them but the paper is nice and thick and really smooth. I am looking forward to trying them out. I have decorated ready for next week.

Queen Mabel and Doris and Elliebeth

The stickers used for this were from Ellie Beth Design UK.

If you fancy popping along and making a little purchase you can use my discount code for 15% off.

Queen Mabel and Doris PR Code

Thanks for reading.

Emma-Louise x

Guest Post: Megg Geri {10 Steps to Revising Your First Draft}

I am extremely honoured to be hosting this guest post from Megg. I have been a fan of hers for some time now and follow not just her blog but her advice and book club.

Megg Geri is the author of Write A Novel In 30 Days and also owns Megg & Co Editorial Boutique.

Today Megg is sharing her tips on what to do when you’ve finished the first draft of your novel.

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Wow! You’ve finished your first draft. How amazing? How scary? How much hard work did that take? You’re freaking fantastic, let me tell you that! There are so many people who never even get to this step, who never manage to finish the first draft. Yes, you can give yourself a high-five for this one. As awesome as you are your first draft sucks (I’m allowed to say this because my first drafts all suck too). 

What now? How do you get this first draft not to suck? I’m not talking grammar corrections and typos here, I’m talking about your actual story. How can you get this story to be one that people will actually want to read? You do revisions.  These 10 steps to revising your first draft are the steps that I follow too. They take time, patience, and a tough skin. But you’ve gotten this far, so you owe it to yourself to take it one step further.

10 Steps to revising your first draft

  1. Wait it out!
    The worst thing you can do is jump straight back into your novel. It’s all still too fresh. You need to give yourself time to forget and time to allow yourself to become distanced from all the hard work you have already put into your novel. I always suggest putting your first draft aside for a month. What? A whole freaking month? Yes, one whole month. Take that time to work on a new story outline or start writing another novel. Try a different form of writing like poetry, and short stories. And, give yourself time to read more (reading is always a good idea).
  2. Reread 
    Now, after a month of sweating it out, you pick up that novel and you start your reread. Try not to throw it out the window, burn it, or tear it into shreds. Pretend for a second that this is not your first draft, but rather your best friend’s first draft. Read it with open eyes and optimism for the story. Your first draft is going to suck and it’s allowed to suck! After you’ve done this, reread it again and this time make as many notes as possible. Note down any changes, plot holes, parts of the story that irritate you, pacing problems. inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and major mistakes that you need to look at fixing. Always remember that your first draft is you telling the story to yourself, this is a rough version.
  3. Identify Plot holes
    Now that you have identified your plot holes take the time to fix them. Don’t rush through this step. Some of these fixes will be quick and easy and others will be terribly tedious and feel somewhat like torture to fix.By not skipping this step you’ll find the process rewarding as you will see your story come together to form an even better second draft than you ever imagined
  4. Pacing
    Focus on consistent pacing as well as appropriately varied pacing throughout your novel. Do parts read too slow? Do other parts feel rushed? Allow yourself the time to fix any pacing problems you may have found by this point of your revisions. 
  5. Kill your Darlings
    This is always a tough task to manage. You’ve worked so hard on creating this first draft and you’ve worked so hard on your story elements (that you already love to bits) but if it doesn’t have a purpose in your story, if it doesn’t move the plot forward, or reveal something about your story you need to cut it!Harsh? Yes! You need to be if you want your novel to be the best it can be. Some Darlings, may be able to be reworked into the story, but most must be cut.
  6. Make small changes
    Those irritations you found in your second reread, the character’s name that was hard to pronoun or didn’t flow off the tongue, the shocking yellow car that was super unbelievable, the constant over explaining, now’s the time to make these small changes. Change a character’s name if it doesn’t fit. Make sure all your quotation marks are consistent (single or double, baby).
  7. Sketch out character arcs
    I always have a good idea of my character arcs before I start writing, but they change as I write and I don’t always go back to my notes and relook the arcs. This step can be skipped if you’ve written on a story structure but it’s always a good idea to revisit this step and double check your own work.
  8. Create character sketches
    This is another thing that I try to do before I even start writing my novels. My characters develop so much through my writing process that I always have to rework, add, and take away parts of their character sketches. After writing my first draft I also know my characters so much better and find it so much easier to complete my character sketches.As part of my book, Write A Novel In 30 Days, I offer a free character sketch which I use myself too. I also like to add photo’s of my characters, diary entries, bag contents and things that will personalise my character even more. 
  9. Work on your character’s goals and motivations
    Wow, by now you have made a lot of changes to your novel. Do all of your character’s original goals and motivations still remain true? Have your changes affected them? Give your characters new goals and motivations if needed and give yourself and your character the time to accept these new changes. 
  10. The hook
    Yay! You’re almost there. Now re-read your first few pages. Is your hook clear? Is there too much information or too little information for your readers? Sometimes, as the writer we already know the backstory and so everything makes sense to us but they might not make any sense to the reader who knows none of the backstory. Think about this when you’re looking for that hook. This can be a quick and simple step, or this step can take a lot of time, and this will differ from novel, to novel too. Go pick up your favourite books and read their hooks for some inspiration. See how other authors hook the reader. A hook should be on the first page, preferably in the first chapter, and if you can have the hook in your first sentence then that’s even better. 

I know this is a lot to take in and it’s a lot of work too (you may want to skip some of the steps or rush through them) but you’ve put in all this hard work already that you owe it to yourself to really focus on each step individually until you’re happy with the results. 

The way that I manage to keep my focus on one step at a time is to use different coloured highlighters during step two of the process (during my second reread when I’m making my notes). I choose a different coloured highlighter for each major focus needed (small changes, darlings, characters, pacing, and plot holes), this way I can focus purely on that colour when I need to. I also tick off parts that have been revised as the process can get really confusing and it’s easy to forget where you are in this revision process.

Most of all, be kind to yourself and to your writing. You might absolutely hate your writing and your story when you reread it but through an effective revision process, you can sculpt it into something better. Allow yourself the opportunity to do this. Don’t give up on your story.

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You can find Megg on Instagram and Twitter under the handle @megggeri and on Facebook TheMeggGeri and her blog Megg.Co.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post for us Megg.

Emma-Louise x

Book Tour: Disturbing Works by Jon Richter {Review}


Today I have a review for you of the Jon Richter book Disturbing Works.

Blurb…

The first volume of my Disturbing Works is a collection of twelve twisted tales perfect for people who like their stories dark, despicable, and deeply unsettling.  Containing fantasy, sci-fi, dark humour and a lot of deliciously nasty horror, it should have something for every reader that has a sinister side and nerves of steel…

Review..

Disturbing Works is made up of small short stories and I have to say I really enjoyed them. 

I loved the darkness to each one and how it differed from the next. All 12 were completely unique and could quite easily stand up against a full length novel. 

Richter’s words flow naturally and he has an amazing ability to create tension and suspense along with a side of dread. 

I would absolutely recommend this to any thriller or horror lover and would give this book 5 stars. 

This chilling volume is available now for your Kindle or eReader at www.amazon.co.uk.

Thanks for reading. 

Emma-Louise x