Contrition by Deborah Sheldon – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Contrition

Deborah Sheldon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive.

John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.

Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.”

‘Contrition’, by Deborah Sheldon, is one of those books that once started on, you just cannot put down.  

I found it intriguing from the beginning; I was desperate to know what the secrets were. Just what was Meredith? What had John done? The author does a fantastic job of keeping the reader guessing, and withholding just enough to keep us turning those pages, without us losing interest or faith in the book. The pace is very fast, there is always something happening or about to happen and we are never quite sure what. I knew the payoff would be worth it, and quite frankly, the ending is brilliant.

The back-story, the history of John and Meredith, goes from normal to ‘what in the hell’ at great intervals. We get tossed just the right amount of detail and the right times.

I secondary story of John dealing with alcoholism was treated with dignity and respect. I feel that the author has either had personal dealings with the disease or she had really done her research. Coming from a family with alcohol problems past and current, I felt a kinship to John; I was really rooting for him throughout. He had a lot to deal with, past and present. The toll that Meredith was taking on him, his day to day life, and his mental well-being; he truly is a strong character. This is something that really came across well in the narrative.

I am annoyed at myself for taking so long to read ‘Contrition’. It has been a long standing title in my to-read list, and for the impact it had on me, I really wish I had gotten to it sooner. It is one of those books that will stick with you for a long time afterwards.

I cannot recommend this enough, Deborah Sheldon is a great author, and she knows how to write deep and real characters. She can tell a tale and she can scare the crap out of you. This is a terrifying story of the human condition.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

Violet Eyes – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Violet Eyes

John Everson

This is the book to read if you want to be completely freaked out and lose some sleep. It is horrifying.

I don’t particularly care for spiders anyways, along with wood chippers they are my biggest fear, but the levels ‘Violet Eyes’ took my phobia too was way above and beyond.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads: “

Their bites are more than deadly…
The small town near the Everglades was supposed to offer Rachel and her son a fresh start. Instead it offered the start of a nightmare, when an unknown breed of flies migrated through the area, leaving painful bites in their wake. The media warned people to stay inside until the swarm passed. But the flies didn’t leave. And then the radios and TVs went silent. That’s when the spiders came. Spiders that could spin a deadly web large enough to engulf an entire house overnight. Spiders that left stripped bones behind as they multiplied. Spiders that, like the flies, sought hungrily for tender flesh…through Violet Eyes.”

Rachel and her son Eric have moved out to the Everglades for a fresh start. Rachel is moving on from Eric’s father, Anders, and trying to re-build her life, and a life for her son out in the small town of Passanattee. Rachel endures the usual difficulties involved with juggling work and parenthood. She then meets Terry, a man who she could happily bring into her sons life without worry.

It’s what has followed her neighbor Billy, a student whom she meets living across the street from her, home from his terrifying trip to Sheila Key. A swarm of deadly flies, and the spiders that will literally eat you alive.

This is truly terrifying read, I was incredibly itchy during and after with all the descriptive imagery of the murderous spiders and the swarms of flies. I really am not a fan of our eight-legged friends (sorry spiders, it’s me not you). The author has done a wonderful job, I feel, of making this story into two things. One being a great creature feature. It has it all, scary flies and spiders swarming, web covered houses, people being eaten alive, and even spiders popping out of eyeballs – as well as other places (let’s just say if I was male, I would be wincing). The second, it’s a story of family, of new beginnings, of love and of walking away from a bad situation. It really is a wonderful read.

“The best things in life were usually killed by ignorance, ambivalence, age, wisdom and sometimes, outright malevolence. Whatever the reasons, the things you loved most always seemed to die long before you were ready to let them go.”

Chapter 32 ‘Violet Eyes’ by John Everson

If you are subscriber to Kindle Unlimited then you download and read a copy here for free:

Violet Eyes is a book worth your time. It’s terrifying, creepy, nightmare educing, all the things the horror fan could wish for.

4/5

Lesley-Ann

February at Housewife of Horror – A Weird and Wonderful Month

February was an odd month for me. Reading wise it’s been quite quiet, one thing and another creeping up and taking me away my from reading time.

I hated the fact that two of my reads became DNFs. I struggle to get into ‘Will Haunt You’ and ‘Black Wings’. Both I was quite excited for. I will come back to them at a later date as potentially I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for them. I hated Sons of Anarchy when I first watched the first few episodes – came back to it a few months later, and it’s now one of my favorite shows.

I got around to reading ‘Blood in the Woods’ from J. P. Willie. I have had that one a while, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful book, kind of a ‘Stand by Me’/ Horror mash up. It’s well worth your time.

My favorite read of February, of course it was Jonathan Janz with ‘The Dark Game’ – see review excerpt below.

Book of the Month – The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz  –https://horrorhousewife.net/2019/02/22/the-dark-game-%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F%E2%AD%90%EF%B8%8F-book-review/

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The Dark Game did not disappoint.

“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.

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.


Find it here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Game-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/178758187X

The end of February I have to say was the most exciting for me. My short story ‘Fresh Air’ was published in Sirens Call issue 43. I am so excited and so proud. To see something that I created in black and white, published along with many many other wonderful stories by so many talented writers. I am truly honored and overwhelmed.

Thank you so much to the amazing people over at Sirens Call and to those who have stuck by me and supported me. You guys rock!

Check out my story here – http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/

Sirens Call issue 43 is free to download along with all the back issues.

Enjoy, and thank you again.

Bring on March.

Lesley-Ann Campbell

Sirens Call – Issue 43

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

Hello,

I wanted to share some exciting news with you all.

I was published in Sirens Call issue 43

My Short piece of flash fiction, Fresh Air, was accepted for publication by the amazing people at Sirens Call. It’s live now and free to download. See link above and below.

I am page 196 – I shall be shouting this from the rooftops until people tell me to shut up. This is so exciting for me, my first (and hopefully not my last) piece of published fiction.

Thank you everyone for sticking with me, you have no idea what you all mean to me.

Check out my story and many other pieces of fantastic work from some amazing ladies of horror here – http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

Lesley-Ann Campbell

Blood in the Woods – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

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J. P. Willie

Blood in the Woods

First of all, many thanks to the author for reaching out and offering me a copy of ‘Blood in the Woods’ in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Rural Louisiana country life is peaceful, idyllic, and sanguine. One bucolic town leads to another in an endless series of southern country life. Yet beneath the tranquil surface lies another story. A story of the south which hasn’t been told only hinted at. 

As 26 -year -old Jody stands on the cracked, aged driveway of his childhood home, a black mass settles itself on his chest. A sense of fear is manifesting around the edges of his psyche as unmentioned memories flood back to the last time he stood on this spot years ago. There is an empty space where the trailer once stood. The place he called home; thought of as his refuge together with his mother and younger brother, but all was ripped apart along with the innocence of childhood. 

Growing up in the late eighties and early nineties in the small town of Hammond, Louisiana, with his best friend Jack, was full of wonderful memories. Their lives on Rhine Road are typical for boys their age. Time is spent playing in the woods, shooting pellet guns, blowing up mailboxes, fighting at school and the beginnings of interests in girls. Their lives are what you would expect from children with no responsibilities or worries beyond the next pop-quiz or getting to second base. 

As they grow older together and experience the joys and pains of life, love, family and friendship, they discover a meddlesomeness borne of lazy summer days, boredom and childhood rebellion. Through idle curiosity, they stumble upon something horrific in the woods one evening and their lives quickly take a turn. 

They soon become hunted by an unspeakable evil and the hunting ground was home.”

A Louisiana coming of age novel with a twist of horror.

This was a very engaging read from the start. The author has done a wonderful job of laying the foundations of a beautiful and harrowing tale of childhood friends Jody and Jack. We are taken though the story of their lives, living carefree in the town of Hammond, getting up to all the usual mischief, followed by the terrifying story of what lurks in the woods.

This is a chilling read. I was emotionally invested from the get-go. This novel has it all, emotion, laughs, tears, chills and scares. It is one hell of a ride.

A great debut from J. P. Willie, An author I hope to see more from.

4/5

Lesley-Ann

The Dark Game – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

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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.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

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.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

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

Breathe. Breathe.

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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.

5/5

Lesley-Ann

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