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

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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

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

The Nursery (The Bayou Hauntings Book 3)

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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.

3/5

Lesley-Ann

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.

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Frighteners – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Frighteners

Peter Laws

“The Frighteners follows the quest of Peter Laws, a Baptist minister with a penchant for the macabre, to understand why so many people love things that are spooky, morbid and downright repellent. He meets vampires, hunts werewolves in Hull, talks to a man who has slept on a mortuary slab to help him deal with a diagnosis, and is chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac through a farmhouse full of hanging bodies.

Staring into the darkness of a Transylvanian night, he asks: What is it that makes millions of people seek to be disgusted and freaked out? And, in a world that worships rationality and points an accusing finger at violent video games and gruesome films, can an interest in horror culture actually give us safe ways to confront our mortality? Might it even have power to re-enchant our jaded world?

Grab your crucifixes, pack the silver bullets, and join the Sinister Minister on his romp into our morbid curiosities.”

This was a fun and interesting read, delving into the mind of a horror enthusiast, the Sinister Minister himself, Peter Laws.

I have always been interested in the scary, the dark and twisted, the gothic, and the gruesome. I have always been ridiculed for it too. You know, I’m sure a lot of us have heard the same… “It’s a phase” “she will grow out of it” “why can’t you like nice things?” “You won’t meet anyone looking like that” “what’s wrong with you watching those kinds of films?” …the usual. I must admit I have gone to the ‘dark side’ with my outfits and bit since I started my current day job (legal cashier) and wear pretty dresses and the likes. I got many a surprised look that day from people who know me.

Anyways, moving on from my ramblings, the book, The Frighteners, it’s a fun read. It’s very much a memoir of Peter Laws’ life with the horror genre, mixed with a lot of researched facts relating to the macabre and the morbid.

It’s very well written, well laid out and a hoot to read. He has a great sense of humour I found and he knows how to spin a tale.

The book opens with his recounting of his bucket list birthday trip to Transylvania (what a treat). The excited recanting of the trip and meeting like minding people was a pleasure to read. You can tell straight away that Peter Laws is truly passionate about his love affair with the genre, it radiates so brightly through his writing.

There is a great deal of information within The Frighteners. The author has had many an experience, with death, zombies, werewolves, crypts and the likes. He gives us a wonderful descriptive read of all his encounters, and a very informed insight into the genre of the weird, the wonderful and the macabre.

I really don’t want to delve too much into the content as I feel I would spoil the read for you folks somewhat. I really recommend checking this book out though, it’s a wonderful read and a great glimpse into the mindset of the horror fan.

Seriously… you won’t be sorry. Find it here on Amazon:

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

I Can Taste the Blood – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

I Can Taste the Blood

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Josh Malerman; J. Daniel Stone; Joe Schwartz; Erik T. Johnson; John F. D. Taff

Grey Matter Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Five Unique Voices From Bram Stoker Award-nominated authors Josh Malerman, the newly minted master of modern horror, and John F.D. Taff, the “King of Pain,” to the mind-bending surrealism of Erik T. Johnson, the darkly poetic prose of J. Daniel Stone and the transgressive mania of Joe Schwartz, I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD offers up five novellas from five unique authors whose work consistently expands the boundaries of conventional fiction. Five Disturbing Visions I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD opens the doors to a movie theater of the damned; travels the dusty, sin-drenched desert with an almost Biblical mysterious stranger; recounts the phantasmagoric story of birth, death and rebirth; contracts a hit that’s not at all what it seems; and exposes the disturbing possibilities of what might be killing Smalltown, U.S.A. One Nightmare As diverse as they are, in voice and vision, the work of the five celebrated authors assembled in this stunning volume of terror share one common theme, one hideous and terrifying nightmare that can only be contained within the pages of I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD.”

Another great read from Grey Matter Press. Thank you for allowing me a copy of ‘I Can Taste the Blood’ in exchange for an honest review.

Five stories, one title. This is one awesome book. This is great unique collection of stories from five different authors, all with one title, I Can Taste the Blood. I loved the different take on the title from each author. The tag line ‘Five Unique Voices’ is very fitting.

I don’t want to say too much to be honest as I don’t want to give anything away to anyone that hasn’t yet had the pleasure. This will be a brief review from me, well briefer than usual shall we say.

It’s a brilliant idea, the diversity and range that can come from one phrase. It really is astounding.  The writing is wonderful, each other has their own style, their own flow, they are all so different yet they all blend so well in this collection. I enjoyed all of the stories; they were all perfect in their own way, J. Daniel Stone’s offering was my personal favourite of the collection. Very way out, very full on, and very very excellent.

Seriously, I am not going to spoil it for you, read it. You will love it.

4/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

Devouring Dark – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Devouring Dark

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Alan Baxter

Grey Matter Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“DEVOURING DARK is an urban horror novel about a man plagued since childhood by a malevolent darkness that threatens to consume him. After a lifetime spent wrestling for control over this onslaught, Matt McLeod has learned to wield his mysterious paranormal skill to achieve an odious goal: retribution as a supernatural vigilante.

When one such hit goes bad, McLeod finds himself ensnared in a multi-tentacled criminal enterprise caught between a corrupt cop and a brutal mobster. His only promise of salvation may be a bewitching woman who shares his dark talent but has murderous designs of her own.”

To start, I would like to thank Grey Matter Press for a copy of Devouring Dark to read in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a wonderful mix of horror, the supernatural and some crime drama. Three things I enjoy.

Matt McLeod, he is a great character. He has this crazy ability to literally devour people with darkness, as the title says. The book gets into the action straight away with Matt devouring a paedophile in an alleyway. Unfortunately, in this wondrous age of digital devices, he is caught on camera by a criminal, who decides his abilities should be put to good use for a criminal organisation as an assassin. Of course Matt isn’t exactly sold on this idea.

Amy Cavendish has similar powers to Matt. They both thought they were alone with their abilities. When their paths finally cross they end up in the fight of their lives, finding out just the true extend of their powers.

The characters of both Amy and Matt are solid. They are wonderfully written; they come across so well throughout the book. This is the second work I have read of Alan Baxter, I love his work. He writes brilliant multi-layered characters that you can develop a real relationship with. He has a real talent and I am looking forward to reading more from him.

Devouring Dark is a brilliant noir supernatural horror mash which will have you hooked from the start and all the way through. I loved it.

4/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

Kosmos – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Kosmos

Adrian Laing

39398293

Flame Tree Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:

“Early one fine autumnal morning in 2001, an old man is found asleep on Hampstead Heath. Abruptly awoken by two dog patrollers, a struggle ensues resulting in the oddly-dressed character being arrested facing a minor assault charge. Rookie barrister, George Winsome, is tasked with defending the old boy who believes himself to be the mythical character, Merlin. When the victim of the assault unexpectedly dies the resulting manslaughter case turns into a jury trial catching the public’s imagination. George decides to defend Merlin on the basis that there are well-established historical grounds for the old boy’s self-adopted identity believing the jury will decide whether he is ‘Merlin’ or not, does not matter; it’s a question of the old boy being accepted an honest and peaceful character. That’s the plan. But as the riotous trial plays out, events conspire to challenge everyone’s cynicism. What if the defendant really is Merlin? The trial progresses through one unexpected twist to another and those present in the courtroom and the wider public begin to embrace the extra-ordinary possibility that Merlin has indeed returned to this world. Even the crusty trial judge is forced to reconsider his ingrained beliefs and confront his own domestic demons especially when his wayward, new age son decides sneakily to ‘enlighten’ his father with some vintage LSD. The media take an unexpected interest in this engaging and challenging character and turn the trial into a cause. In the hazy and wild events which follow the trial, George’s girlfriend, Heather, discovers she is pregnant and on the same day she is cynically fired from her promising publishing job leaving Heather bitter and vengeful. Heather sees as her route to revenge the acquisition of a quickly-acquired fortune through Merlin’s celebrity status, and decides to take advantage of the interest in Merlin by the Prince of Wales. But who is playing whom? As Merlin’s past unfolds George and Heather become embroiled in Merlin’s other-worldly friends, spirits and gods. At the time of the birth of their son, Merlin’s past is unraveled, and his true identity revealed, dramatically. Both Heather and George, in their separate ways, come to understand that their collective material-based obsessions were merely illusionary and that the real source of their happiness and love has far deeper, spiritual foundations. ‘Kosmos’ is a contemporary novel of two halves; the first part culminating in Merlin being tried and freed; the second half in the outrageous events and revelation that follow, Kosmos draws on the author’s experiences as a trial lawyer, his interest in complex psychologies and the rich and complex history of the mythical figure of Merlin. Kosmos is a wild, feelgood novel, a right-of-passage tale of love, redemption, revenge and hubris”

First of all I’d like to thank Flame Tree Press for a copy of ‘Kosmos’ to read in exchange for an honest review.

With the extensive synopsis, that’s the biggest I’ve seen (I can hear the “that’s what she said” already by the way) I don’t need to say too much really, if anything about the general plot. I think we’ve got it pretty much covered.

I hate to say it, but I wasn’t too fond of this one. It’s a great story, well written, and MERLIN of course. But I just could not get into it at all. It is though as lovely tale of morals, good deeds and being happy with ourselves rather than material possessions. That I really liked, I always enjoy stories like that as I do think we (as humans) get a bit to pre occupied with ‘things’, over what really matters. I’m guilty as charged at times with that.

The book splits between a courtroom drama where we have our newbie lawyer defending a man who believes he is the one and only Merlin. It play’s out in an interesting way, although again, it’s given away really in the synopsis. I feel I would have preferred not to know. Though I guess it’s like Columbo in a way. You know who the killer is and who the victim is, but you watch to find out how Columbo pieces it all together,

The second part is focused on the lives of Merlin, George the lawyer and his family. It’s rather sweet, and it all comes together in a heart warming way.

It’s a really fun read, with good characters, but a little slow in parts.

3/5

Lesley-Ann

Housewife of Horror

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