House of Skin – Jonathan Janz

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I’m quite annoyed at myself that I couldn’t get into ‘House of Skin’ as much as I would have like. I have become quite the fan of Janz’s work lately, but sadly this isn’t one of my favorites.

I like the premise: Nephew inherits estranged dead uncles creepy estate. Town tarnishes nephew with the same brush as his not so nice uncle. Murder and ghostly goings-on ensue.

It has a really good start to with the despicable Ted Brand getting his comeuppance after the cheating philanderer messes with the wrong women.

I think, well for me, I believe this it where it went wrong. I was loving the Ted Brand/Julia arc, but I was a lot more interested in that than in the Paul Carver arc, who of course is our main character. I couldn’t really attach myself to the character of Paul the way I like in a book. For me to really, and I mean REALLY enjoy a story, I need to be 100% behind the characters. Without this I have a habit of losing interest rather quickly.

This is by no means a shot at the story or the author himself. I firmly believe Janz is a wonderful story teller, and this story is not completely terrible. It just wasn’t for me is all.

I am looking forward to my next Janz read, ‘Nightmare Girl’.

Ghost Mine – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Many thanks first of all to Flame Tree Press for the copy of Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea. This is part of the Flame Tree Press May releases.

Ghost Mine is a cowboy/gold rush/Djinn mash up which does work really well for the most part.

Teddy Roosevelt wants the gold from the mining town of Hecla, the problem… well Hecla seems to swallow men whole. He decides his man from the Rough Rider days, Nat, now an NYC cop is the man for the job and sends him in to see what exactly is going on there. Taking is long time friend and fellow adopted Rough Rider, Teta, with him they head out to the unknown.

My favourite thing about this book is Teta, he is a fantastic character. You can feel his sassy energy bouncing of the page and his little digs and quips really worked for me. I hate to say that Nat on the other hand, felt a little, robotic (if thats the right term). For me this let the book down a bit. It’s a great story, and the Wild West setting is wonderful – I love a good western. Sadly the majority of the characters just took the shine off. Selma too, I found her quite irksome for the most part.

The story itself is rather good, opening in Hecla with the naughty kid Billy killing rats in the mines. It seems that something down there did not want to be disturbed and it definitely made itself known. I enjoyed the subtlety of the opening chapter, setting the story up whilst being very tight-lipped about the while ‘what’s down there’.

Ghost Mine is definitely worth a read. As always it’s a very subjective matter. Yes, I couldn’t quite get there with it, but all the same it’s a well set up plot, and Teta who I’ve already gushed over is great!!

Released May 30th 2019 from Flame Tree Press

Ghost Mine (Fiction Without Frontiers) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1787582078/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_gWs2CbE6KQ2GQ

The Nightmare Girl – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Janz is a descriptive master. He conveys a scene in total HD ultra having you almost believe you are living it. This was most defiantly the case at the gas station.

Joe, a family man with a young daughter, witnesses a young mother abusing her toddler in the back of their truck. He intervenes to help the child and sets a disturbing chain of events in motion.

Joe and his family are soon stalked and terrorized by the family of Angie, the young mother who took her own life after she lost custody of her son. They are members of a cult and will go to any lengths to get their revenge on Joe and to bring back their daughter.

The premise of this story is filled with promise. The wonderfully dark and sinister cover conveys this too. A family man, just wanting to do the right thing . What is that they say about the road to hell… ?

A thrilling read from the outset. The characterization is on point as always from Janz and the story telling, deliciously creepy with many layers of nasty.

Flame Tree Press just keep putting out great books (mostly). Janz is as always, a wonderful author.

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

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

The Sorrows – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Sorrows

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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)

Kosmos – ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Kosmos

Adrian Laing

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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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