The Dark Game – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review


The Dark Game

Jonathan Janz

What can I say, the five star reviews just keep coming where Jonathan Janz is concerned.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Ten writers are selected for a summer-long writing retreat with the most celebrated and reclusive author in the world. Their host is the legendary Roderick Wells. Handsome, enigmatic, and fiendishly talented, Wells promises to teach his pupils about writing, about magic, about the untapped potential that each of them possesses. Most of all, he plans to teach them about the darkness in their hearts. The writers think they are signing up for a chance at riches and literary prestige. But they are really entering the twisted imagination of a deranged genius, a lethal contest pitting them against one another in a struggle for their sanity and their lives. They have entered into Roderick Wells’s most brilliant and horrible creation.”

I am ever developing a deep love for the style of Janz’s writing. I adore his characters, they are as always, full of depth and horrific delights. His stories are inventive and unique, and he has a wonderful penchant for all things gory.

The Dark Game did not disappoint.

Ten writers of varying ability are taken to the secluded home estate of Roderick Wells, the worlds most famous author. They are promised a great lesson in writing, with the winner taking home not only a healthy pot, but they will also receive the book deal of a lifetime. Of course, things are not always as they seem. What they have fallen prey to is a twisted game, a brutal fight for survival. And in true horror fashion, there are some particularly gruesome ends.

Janz does an impeccable job of creating so many full characters in this novel. They all have their darkness; each character has their own sin to bare. Each character is well thought out and written so flawlessly that you can almost touch them. The back story of the individuals, the sins, they are woven in throughout the novel, intertwining in a perfect harmony with the events occurring at Roderick’s estate.

One of my favorite parts:

“Well’s entered with his wife. Lucy stared at the man, stunned at the change in his appearance. She supposed it was a matter of simple grooming: he’d shaven and the hair around his ears had been trimmed. Yet there was something more at work, something subtler yet more profound. His eyes shone with a vitality that hadn’t been there the first night. The deep grooves in his forehead were less pronounced.”


This is a very intense and immersive read. Thank you so much to Flame Tree Press, and to Jonathan Janz for a copy to read.

Highly recommended – this one you won’t want to put down.



A Plague of Pages – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

A Plague of Pages

John F. Leonard

I Love the writing, both the style and content, from John F. Leonard, I would even go as far as to say he is my favorite author now. I find his work fresh and inspiring; it’s always full of surprises. A Plague of Pages is no different; it’s a wonderfully creepy read.

“Ah, the perils of writing …it can bring out the worst in you.
Anthony’s world has fallen apart. The good times have gone, the things he treasures have been torn away. Life in tatters, he needs to press the reset button and begin again. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
He’s going to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
Trouble is, some dreams turn into nightmares.”

Anthony Eames, a down on his luck writer with a bucket load of baggage. His marriage is over, thanks to his best friend having an affair with his wife for the entirety of their nuptials, and then the injustice of having to move into Hanfield Court, a ‘rat-trap’ block of apartments as he refers to it early on.  He ignores all the usual chaos of uprooting your life and moving home, and he leaves the boxes stacked and unpacked. Instead he decides to sit down at his much loved (hated by his ex-wife) Art-Deco table, and he begins to write, exchanging computer for paper, with his dearly departed father’s pen. Unbeknown to him, this is by far no ordinary pen.

This pen contains Scaethian ink.

The stories that Anthony write’s, in a somewhat fugue state, come to life, in an unnatural sense of the word. His prose of tragedy and plague, they occur, just has he has written. He doesn’t know why or how at first. He doesn’t even believe it to be true. It can’t be real, can it?

He tests it, his theory of the pen making the written word come to life, by writing a little short story involving his overly nosey neighbour and her return from the dead. He get’s the surprise of his life when he enters her apartment across the hall.

A Plague of Pages forms part of the Scaethian mythos and the Dead Box archives. It is a fantastic read, a short novella with an abundance of character and action. The plague of flies was an element to it I particularly enjoyed reading – I would love to see this as a stand-alone story (Can I write it John? Please). The premise of these unknown super flies swarming us, I relish this kind of thing being a sucker for a creature feature and all.

I feel of course that I have given enough spoilers away now, so I will keep quiet in that respect. I would hate to totally ruin the story for those yet too read this. I just can’t help myself though when it comes to talking about books, especially those which I adore. A Plague of Pages has earnt a well-deserved FIVE STARS from me.

The writing is, as always from John, engaging, clever and original. The characterisation has both depth and clarity, and the pacing of the story is very well planned and thought out. It’s a clever story with an excellent delivery. Anthony Eames is an intense character, a good guy turned bad by a life throwing him the proverbial lemons, not to mention the corruptive influence of the pen. His fate is sealed when he ingests the pens ink in a plot to escape justice. I don’t believe he was ever malicious enough to enjoy what he was doing, or indeed that he ever really had sinister intentions with regards to the pen. I feel like the character was in a bad place mentally and dealing with some tough personal issues, mixed with that, the allure of demonic energy was too much to for Antony to resist. I feel the overwhelming power of the pen had completely took over Anthony’s sense of self by the end.

I have previously read, to my pleasure, Bad Pennies and Doggem from John. F Leonard. Both part of the Dead Box archives and Scaethian mythos. I have a few more of these lined up to read too – thank you Kindle Unlimited for providing me with so much reading material. Since I am wholly enjoying this series of books, I am confident that I will love what’s to come. Roll on John’s next entry too, I look forward to reading it.



Breathe. Breathe. – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Breathe. Breathe.


Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

First of all, many thanks to the author, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, for a copy of this wonderful collection to read in exchange for review. I always relish the chance to read some poetry, I don’t get the chance as often as I’d like to. I wholeheartedly am grateful for receiving this to read. It was inspiring, truly. I have just ordered myself a hard copy too, this is one which deserves a place on my shelf of re-reads.

I found myself captivated with this book from the start. It’s a beautifully dark and inspired look inside our pain, our sadness and our fear.  The book itself is broken down into three sections.

Act One: Breathe Through Fear

Dark and disturbing monsters, what lurks in the shadows and what is beyond the veil? Act One is sublime in the telling of these tales of fear and human horrors. Earl Grey Tea is one that will linger in my subconscious with its tragedy.

Act Two: Breathe Through Pain

Love, revenge, pain and jealousy – Act Two has it all. These are real, poems not about lurking monsters or the supernatural, but about the realities of our being.

Short Stories

The third section in the book contains a collection of exquisitely written short stories centring on topics including abuse and revenge.

The final story in the collection, giving inspiration to the bright cover art, is ‘Dandelion Yellow’, that is one that will stick with me. It is a heartbreaking tale of child abuse and the way a child’s mind works to protect itself. It started out so innocent, a child colouring with crayons, and her favourite colour is the Dandelion Yellow. What follows delves far from that childlike naivety and springs the true tragic horror at the end.  It is captivating in its sadness.

Breathe. Breathe is a tragic and thought provoking look within the human soul and a horrific exploration of our worst elements. It is a beautifully put together piece combining the dark nature of the poetry with some rather traumatic short stories. The bright and sunny cover is an emotional trigger of the final tale. I don’t think I will ever be able to view a dandelion in the same light again.



The Nursery (The Bayou Hauntings Book 3) -⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Nursery (The Bayou Hauntings Book 3)


Bill Thompson

“A house that sat empty for fifty years as its dead owner instructed. A locked room with no key. A single father with eight-year-old twin girls. A nursery from long, long ago that no child ever played in.There are eerie things going on at The Arbors in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Architect Jordan Blanchard is joined by his friend Callie Pilantro (“Callie – The Bayou Hauntings 1”) and Landry Drake (“Forgotten Men – The Bayou Hauntings 2”) to learn the secrets of a domineering matriarch whose two husbands died in bizarre ways. They explore the house as someone watches from a hidden place high above. The Nursery, the third book in the series, will keep you up late at night wondering what’s behind the next door, what lies beyond the mirror and who hides and waits at The Arbors.”

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The initial grabbing point for me was the cover, I found it to be quite intense and thought provoking, and I’m always interested to read and good haunting story.

The first half of the book read really well. The story was developing nicely and the plot seemed to be going somewhere. I didn’t find myself at a disadvantage from not having read the first two stories in the Bayou Haunting series either – always a plus. What knocked it down to a three star review? The latter half of the story lost its way somewhat. It felt like it could have been wrapped up far quicker than it was. I found myself getting bored and wanting to skip to the end. I hate that in a book. I feel like I need to give a book my full attention, and I always feel dreadfully guilty when I am not enjoying the story.

As for the characters, Landry I found horrendously annoying – As I haven’t read his book, I can’t comment as to whether this is just ‘him’… But he was a pain in my side the brief times he appeared. The father of the twins, Jordan, I really couldn’t force myself to like him either. He just came across very contradictory. One minute nothing matters but his children, and the next, he is totally absorbed in work forgetting about them.

The setting, Louisiana, I found perfect. The descriptions of the area, that southern charm and atmosphere were there in the forefront. For me, sadly, that was the saving grace, it was well written and thought out. It seemed to be a combination of poor characters and a lazy plot that let it down for me.



Brain Damaged -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Brain Damaged

Image result for brain damaged david Owain HUghes

David Owain Hughes

Hellbound Books

“Another superlative collection from the critically acclaimed David Owain Hughes; a selection of 20 mind-bending, soul-tearing tales of terror designed to make even the hardiest of souls weak at the knees! Firstly, Hughes brought us the delicious madness that is White Walls and Straitjackets, followed by the unhinged Choice Cuts, before unleashing a whole host of batshit crazy with Psychological Breakdown. Each of these collections displays stories of cracked minds, disturbed individuals and the scariest monster of all”

I quite enjoyed most of the stories within this collection. As always with short story collections, some you love and some you hate. Here, I loved most of them. Brain Damaged is as it says it is. It contains some very graphic, gory, pushing the limits (but never too far) gruesome horror tales.  

To pick my favourite three, well, it’s hard I must say. I will go with the following though, as these really stood out.

Scarab: This is a tale of crime and ancient gods. Jason is a man who has always lived within the grey. He has been in trouble with the law numerous times and served his time for armed robbery, costing him his family. He is a desperate man, and desperate men will do anything. Just one more job, one more job will set Jason and his crew up for life. Jason plans to kidnap his children and flee the country with the proceeds of this last job. He targets what appears to be a simple family jeweller, with lax security in place. They hold within their vaults priceless ancient artefacts, which cannot be removed from the vault under any circumstances. Jason doesn’t believe this; he has his sights set on an ancient Egyptian Scarab. Ignoring all the warnings, he kills the jewellery shop owner and takes it. The second he sets foot outside the shop, the world begins to end. The dead rise and begin their slaughter of the innocent.

As a fan of mythology as well as horror, ‘Scarab’ really stood out for me. I love all these stories mummies rising form the tombs, ancient curses, all that kind of thing. I find it so fascinating, as well as very believable. I for one would never tamper with an ancient artefact, because really, who knows? We have all seen those movies!

Brief Encounter: The first tale from the book. Brief Encounter is the story of a man trying his best to get to his kids on Halloween. After the end of a toxic relationship with his ex, Millie, he now lives a separate life from her and his children, Lilly and Mark. He is doing his best to get to them on Halloween; he has costumes for them, and is, as any father would be, excited to spend some time with them. He is unfortunately stuck in excessively heavy traffic, and is unsure what is happening after he witnesses some form of explosion behind from his rear view. He isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 He meets a woman, in the next car over, first thinking that she is in costume, then the gruesome reality hits, she is dead, and so is he. The explosion was his death on the highway, and he is now in hell.

I really enjoyed this story. It felt like a great metaphor for the ‘hell’ that is the daily rat race of life. A man, working a job he resents, separated from his family, just trying to get by anyway he can.

Mink:  I loved this one. Tanya is a nasty piece of work, a woman who married her mob boss husband purely for his money, and then she had him killed by her lover, her husband’s right hand man.

One of her favourite possessions, well used to be, was a mink coat. Her husband had gifted it too her, and she loved wearing it. She loved wearing it that is, until she started to believe it was possessed by her dead husband.

This was a great read, a gold digging horror show of a woman getting her just deserts. Her scorned husband still managing to enact his bloody revenge from beyond the grave.

This is a great read, short stories are perfect too if you don’t have too much time to read. It’s bloody, gory, scary and fun.

Find it here on Amazon, currently free on Kindle Unlimited.


Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Sorrows – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Sorrows

Image result for the sorrors jonathan janz

Jonathan Janz
Flame Tree Press
November 2018

“Ben Shadeland and Eddie Blaze are the hottest young music composers in Hollywood. Fresh off an Oscar nomination, they’ve just been chosen to score a big-budget horror movie by Lee Stanley, the most demanding director in film. But Ben, the creative half of the duo, hasn’t written a note since his wife divorced him and got custody of their three-year-old son.
Chris Blackwood is the gambling-addicted heir to the Blackwood fortune, which includes the Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California. The island and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925, but Chris needs money, and to get it he allows Ben, Eddie, Claire Harden (an aspiring composer), and Eva Rosales (Lee Stanley’s gorgeous assistant) to stay a month in Castle Blackwood.
Eddie is certain an eerie, isolated setting is just what Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film. But what they find is more horrific than any movie.”

Jonathan Janz himself said that the book explores the exploitation of innocence, and the evils surrounding this. This is exactly what I got from this book. The Sorrows is a somewhat harrowing and frightful journey exploring this exploitation from many viewpoints. We have several separate tales, all intertwining and weaving in and out of each other, culminating in a fantastic last quarter of the book.

I love a good haunted house tale, the old creepy buildings with hidden doors and basements you wouldn’t dare enter. The big castle in the middle of nowhere, surrounding by nothing but forest and a spooky cemetery. It’s perfect. To me, this book was perfect (bar the “” that appeared to be unfinished, and a few sentences that seemed to be missing – we can overlook this though as this is an ARC courtesy of FlameTree Press).

The characters were a*holes in some respects, apart from Ben and Claire (who made it yay), but to me, this made it all the more exciting. I love the bad guy, the horrid, annoying, full of himself/herself character. You can love to hate on them throughout the book, a part of you knowing and looking forward to them getting their comeuppance at the end; and Boy did Lee Stanley get his in the end. I was actually quite shocked by that. I totally loved it though and it was thoroughly deserved.

All the characters’ storylines played out roles in either the salvation or the exploitation of an innocent. Lee Stanley, a big name horror director and total moron. He has no conscience about using women, young women, who want to break into the industry, happily disposing of them when he sees fit. Richard Blackwood, exploiting a child (or so he thinks) to make himself a success in music. Eddie Blaze, a Hollywood composer with a dark secret. And Ryan, a pilot with a nasty side, using Ben’s ex wife just to get to her teenage daughter.

I loved, and really enjoyed reading how all the different elements came together. This is one of those books too, where it works to have intermittent chapters where we are reading about past events at Castle Blackwood through a journal. Sometimes I feel flitting between past and present, as well as several character arcs can be confusing. But here, it worked very well. I was dragged into the story from early on, becoming emotionally attached to the characters and couldn’t wait to see where this went. I wasn’t disappointed.

I highly recommend this book, I didn’t realise it was actually a re-release of Jonathan Janz’s first novel. So for a debut, this is great.

An overwhelming 5/5
Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Playing Card Killer – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***MAJOR SPOILERS***

Many thanks to Flame Tree Press for a copy of The Playing Card Killer by Russell James to read in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“During withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications, Brian is plagued by dreams of women strangled and then left with a playing card tucked in the corpse. But then a nightmare’s victim shows up on the news, dead. Brian fears he may be the unwitting killer. Detective Weissbard thinks the same thing, and starts to build a case to get Brian behind bars. But there’s more to these slayings. Brian finds that his family tree has yielded an unknown brother, Tyler, with a penchant for murder. Tyler is willing to frame Brian for the crimes, unless Brian wants to join Team Playing Card Killer.”

Brian Sheridan’s life gets turned upside down when he decides to stop taking his anti-anxiety and ADHD medication. He enters withdrawal with a bang. The nausea, vivid dreams, and mood swings all take there toll on him, topping it off with his girlfriend walking out. Daniela gave him a choice, well an ultimatum, if he quit his meds, he would lose her too. Brian leads a solitary life, he spends most of time either at his evening job, or at home. Daniela commenting that even dragging him out to see a movie is a chore. His life has always been plagued by anxiety, his fear being brought to the forefront, manifesting as ‘Mr Jitters’.

Not long after Brian stops taking his medication he begins to have these very vivid dreams, well nightmares would be more appropriate. He is witnessing a series of murders, seeing them through the killers eyes. Within his dreams it feels like he is the one committing these murders. Brian is questioning his sanity at first, wondering if he is blacking out and indeed committing these heinous crimes. It takes him a while to realise that he is seeing through the eyes of the killer. He decides to go to the police after seeing familiar details from his dreams on the news. Of course, with his intimate knowledge of the crimes, and the unfortunate timing of his medication withdrawal, Detective Weissbard is convinced that Brian is in-fact the media dubbed ‘Playing Card Killer’. The Twist, it’s his unknown-to-him twin brother Tyler that is the killer.

I love a good crime thriller with it’s twists and turns, the constant plot development and a good underdog character. The Playing Card Killer did not disappoint. Brian Sheridan is a character I could really relate too, he has suffered with mental health issues all his life, he is in a job he isn’t too fond of but it suits his needs and he likes to keep himself to himself. I’m ticking all three of those boxes.

This is a really good read, it is engaging from the start and never loses pace. The characters of both Brian and Weissbard are intriguing, they aren’t too flashy, they are just real people, regular guys, getting through life there own way. Tyler, the murderous twin, is a great character. He is a complete sociopath and he is written really well. The creepy twin vibe was alive and kicking all through this book, Brian and Tyler are polar opposites of each other, yet identical, it’s creepy.

I had a feeling I would enjoy this book just from the cover, and I did.


January at Housewife of Horror

January has been a real turning point for me with regards to my writing.

I have had a short flash fiction story accepted for publication – I can’t say anything else at the moment – and I have submitted another two for review. I have made good progress with my WIP ‘Quicksand’, developing the plot, the characters and even making a rough cover. It’s far from perfect, but it’s great to see something, makes it seem more real if anything.

I’m very pleased and proud to say that I also have a brief article about my time as a book reviewer coming in February for Women in Horror Month with The Horror Tree.

I have made good reading progress too. The New Year saw me take on my #7books7days challenge where I read a different book every day during the first week. That was really fun. I read some great books, and got quite up to date with my reading list.

I am currently reading ‘The Playing Card Killer’ from Flame Tree Press, which will take me into the beginning of February and then I plan to read one book a week during the month.

I have decided to set myself a lower challenge for reading, as it will take the pressure off me and also give it will give me plenty of time for writing. It’s a balance, finding the time for reading, writing, working full time and making sure I don’t neglect my adorable soon to be husband. I think I’m getting on top of it though. I’m feeling good about my progress and where I’m at currently.

I hope to have plenty of more writing news next month and plenty of reviews to come too. I have a couple of book reviews outstanding with GingerNuts of Horror and expect to have these live soon.

Overall it’s been a great month. Bring on February and lots of horror!!

Ten Tips to Break Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a common theme within the writing community. We all have out own ways of getting past it, I tend to move on with something else like reading or watching a film. Here are ten of the most common ways to rid ourselves of this dreaded affliction:

  • Go for a walk or a jog to clear your head. Fresh air and the great outdoors is the perfect way to clear your mind and release any built up tension.
  • Take a break, read, watch a movie, do whatever else you like to do in your spare time. If it takes your mind off what you are stuck on, it’s a good thing. Sometimes you just need to have a break.
  • Try some freewriting – stream of consciousness writing is a great way to get into the flow. Just write what comes into your head. Even things as daft as ” I don’t know what to write so I am writing this” and keep it going. Chances are you will write yourself out of the block.
  • Delete those social media apps – not necessarily a cause of writer’s block, but the distractions imposed on us by Facebook, Twitter and the likes can really stunt your flow. A background distraction can displace your focus and cause you to lose track of your thought process.
  • Clean – Yes, have a tidy up around the house. What’s that saying. ‘Tidy House, Tidy Mind’. It works a treat. Do the dishes, clean the bathroom, do all the housework jobs and then you can return to your work with a fresh and tidy brain.
  • Write something else. Got a flash fiction idea you want to try? Try it. If you get your flow going on another piece of work, when you come back to the previous one you will have likely solved your issue, whether you realize it or not.
  • Change your writing environment – I recently checked into a hotel for a night, my hubby was on a work trip so while he was doing that, I stayed in the room and got cracking. I made so much progress by just being away from my usual distractions.
  • Get an early night, it helps. Your brain is still ticking over even when you are asleep, hence ‘sleep on it’. When you awaken chances are you will know what you need to do.
  • Google some writing prompts. The internet is a magical place filled with with many wonders. If you are stuck, type it into Google and see what pops up. You never know…
  • Think of the end and work your way back. If you know how you want a particular scene to finish, work backwards. Let the cues find you.

I hope these tips help you if are stuck. Let me know your thoughts. What do you do to overcome a bout of writer’s block?

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