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

Savage Species ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

Savage Species

Savage Species by Jonathan Janz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you like a fast-paced, full on, action filled bloodbath then this is the book for you.

Thank you Flame Tree Press for an ARC of Savage Species by Jonathan Janz to read in exchange for an honest review.

Savage Species, and by god they are savage, is a spin on the Wendigo Myth. A brutal race of creatures have been awoken thanks to the construction efforts in the opening of Peaceful Valley Nature Preserve. It doesn’t take long for the peaceful atmosphere to be lost to the horrific sounds of screams and mutilation.

This is a two-fold story. We have Charly, dealing with her idiot of a husband, her crush, and the terrible kidnapping of her baby by the creatures. We also have Jesse, Emma and Colleen, who have been assigned by their paper to cover the opening. They got more of a story than they bargained for. The separate story arcs come together neatly, culminating in one great finale.

The characters are all written so flawlessly. There is real sense of fear and urgency from all of them. You feel how scared they all are, how trapped and helpless they feel in this nightmare situation. The oppressive feel of the tunnel and the caves is real; you get a distinct feel of the claustrophobic atmosphere, and the tense nature of their predicament.

The balance between the human characters, with their own issues, and the monsters is scaled nicely. It’s that real sense of humanism, the characters become alive, they have real life problems and issues, they are just like the rest of us, not over dramatised or exaggerated. They are real. It is this, and the fast yet steady pace of the story which really knits it all together.

The creatures, two different creatures, are written frighteningly well. You get a real picture of them in your mind’s eye. Their human qualities, and their beast qualities, make them a truly terrifying creature to behold. The brutal descriptiveness of the initial attack by these creatures was, as the title suggests, savage. The fierce nature of the beasts, the primal instincts and the absolute brutality was captured with the sense of realism that I so admire in the author’s writing.

I have to mention my favourite character, Frank Red Elk, he is a piece of work. I love him. A ‘soft-porn’ obsessed Native American who lives on the land. I really appreciated the comedic value this guy added to story. It paired well with the brutality, breaking it up in just the right places. He is one of my favourite characters I have had the pleasure to read I think.

Synopsis: “Jesse thinks he’s caught a break when he, Emma (the girl of his dreams), and her friend are assigned by their newspaper to cover the opening weekend of a sprawling new state park. But the construction of the park has stirred an evil that has lain dormant for nearly a hundred years, and the three young people–as well as every man, woman, and child unlucky enough to be attending the Algonquin Falls grand opening–are about to encounter the most horrific creatures to ever walk the earth. Charly has three young children and a jerk for a husband, a hot shot girls basketball coach with a penchant for seducing his female assistants. When Charly’s baby is kidnapped by one of the creatures, she turns to Sam Bledsoe, the man who constructed her house (and the man on whom she has developed a sizable crush) for help. Sam, Charly, her husband, and the newest hot assistant coach soon find themselves underground and on the trail of Charly’s baby. Jesse’s trio, a group of professors, and Frank Red Elk–a Native American who specializes in women and booze–take refuge in the caves hoping to find a way out of the park. But like Charly and the others, Jesse’s crew will soon learn just how monstrous the creatures are. And how cunning. Together, they will all try to save Charly’s baby, escape with their lives, and take down as many of the monsters as they can. But the creatures are hungry. They delight in human suffering. And they will stop at nothing to prove that they are the dominant species.”



View all my reviews

Junction -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review ***Spoilers***

Junction

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Daniel M. Benson

“When Japanese nature show host Daisuke Matsumori finds himself on an alien world, he hopes to rekindle his passion for his work. Travelling through a newly-discovered wormhole in the Papuan highlands, he joins biologist Anne Houlihan on Junction, a patchwork planet of competing alien ecosystems. When their exploratory party crashes in the alien wilderness, Daisuke and Anne try to lead bickering soldiers and civilians back to civilization alive. As they trek across one unearthly biome after another and members of the party continue to die, however, Daisuke wonders whether human politics might be more deadly than alien biology. One of his companions might be a murderer.”

As much as I love horror, I also love and adore science fiction. One of my first loves was Stargate, right from the film starring James Spader and Kurt Russell, through to the Stargate Universe. The mere mention of Wormholes, this took me back to a good place. I couldn’t wait to get into Junction.

First things first, I would like to thank the author, Daniel M. Benson, and Flame Tree Press for an ARC of Junction to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is fun filled book of weird and bright aliens, on an even weirder and brighter planet. What’s not to love?

The plot itself is rather interesting, a take on world politics, and how we, as a global nation would react to such a magnificent find. A stable wormhole in the middle of Papa New Guinea, that’s one hell of a find. I found the authors handling of the different nations great, as well as the diversity of the ‘away team’. We have some pompous military leaders who of course always know what’s right. Anne Houlihan, a character I loved instantly, the biologist who isn’t shy about telling the world what she thinks. Then we have Daisuke, a reality TV star, the Bear Grylls of Japan, who has also been sent along on this mission– well he isn’t quite sure why.

It’s an engaging story; I found it fun to read. It held my attention, and I became very sympathetic with the characters early on.

The planet is amazing, I loved all the ‘domes’, the different life, the different atmosphere as it were, the transition from dome to dome was great to read. The author has come up with some crazy aliens life forms, while also keeping it quite simple (if that’s the right term). I think that simplicity of it made it all the better, and more engaging to read. I didn’t have to be concerned with remembering too much detail involving really elaborate aliens, which can take away from a story.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The Haunting of Henderson Close -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review

The Haunting of Henderson Close

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Catherine Cavendish

“Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.”

I knew I was going to adore this book before I read it, I just had that feeling. I was right. This was my first time reading Catherine Cavendish and not my last. This book hit all the right notes for me. I have so many happy memories of Edinburgh, including Old Town, Royal Mile, and of course, the infamous ghost walks through the old closes of the city.

Hannah has started her new job as a tour guide at one of Edinburgh’s famous closes. Henderson Close. She has left her old life, and moved up to Edinburgh for a fresh start. This is her ideal job, she loves drama and acting, and this is just perfect for her. The idea of these ghost tours is to gently scare the customers, while also giving them a peek into the dark history of Edinburgh’s Old Town. What Hannah didn’t expect of course, was to come face to face with actual ghosts, and an evil that has been following her for her entire life.

Catherine Cavendish does an amazing job within this book of giving you the feeling of being there, in Edinburgh’s Old Town, surrounded by the stench, the claustrophobic closeness of the buildings, the noise and the nervous uncertainty. She takes us on a journey though time, and into the midst of a murder mystery. Just who was Miss Carmichael’s killer?

This is what Hannah, George and Mairead must find out. A once sealed evil has now been released into their world. Their only way to stop it, find the killer, the one who got away, before it’s too late.

Everything about this book spoke to me. The characters are very real, with their distinct personalities shining through the pages, giving them life. The setting, the atmosphere of Edinburgh past and present is tangible. You can almost smell the manure, the human waste. You can hear the whinnying of the horses, the clatter of people. She brings Henderson Close to life.

Having been on a couple of the walking ghost tours while in Edinburgh last year, this was like going on a third. It was exactly like I was there again, gripping onto Andy as we stumbled through the closes, being treated to jump scares from our tour guides and nervously wondering if a ghost was actually there, watching me. I love how real it felt, Hannah and her co workers getting into character. Taking on the roles of people from the past, engaging the customers and taking them on a fun history tour with a few good scares thrown in for good measure.

The mix in the story between the late 1800’s and the present day was perfect. There was no confusion, I never once felt like I was getting lost with the story. The pace and flow are spot on. I particularly enjoyed the time-slips, Hannah and Mairead appearing to slip back into Henderson Close’s past. It was very exciting to read and the ending, my god, the ending was unexpected. I loved it.

If you have read Catherine Cavendish before, then I need say no more, you are of course going to be reading this book. If you have not, like me, then all I can say is that you are missing out greatly. This is a wonderful story, beautifully written, with real characters and a perfect setting. Plenty of scares and creepiness included. This is definitely going in my re-read pile. I loved it.

5/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

My top 5 reading in 2018

My first year as an official book blogger has been a great one. I am forever grateful to those who have supported me and helped me on my journey. It has been amazing, I have read some wonderful horror stories (and a few dodgy ones), and I am very excited for all of the reading to come in 2019, including my initial seven books in seven days self challenge.

Anyway, enough of me, my top 5 have to be, in no particular order:

Bad Pennies by John F. Leonard

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The first thing that really grabbed my attention with this book was Chris Carlisle. A guy, just trying to make it through life, struggling the same way we all do. Mundane job, living payday to payday, debating with himself over the now regular winter ‘heating or eating’ dilemma. This is a great story, a supernatural horror story encompassing not only the horrors of the supernatural world, but also the horrors of our own everyday existence. I felt his internal struggle, his guilt, and his overwhelming need. He needed the money, he knew he was wrong, but it was going to help him more than the dead guy wasn’t it? Or so he thought. I really loved the undertones about our general money worries, and the depths we can be driven to in desperation. For me personally, it felt like John F. Leonard was getting right into the nitty gritty of our materialistic society. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed.  Our ‘need’ as it were, for the things we don’t really need, take over our senses and cause us to do things completely out of character, ruining our lives and those of our loved ones. Those of us who are desperate enough can be completely blinded by obsession and greed. To me, this was a story examining just how far one is willing to go, and how much is one prepared to turn a blind eye to, just to get on in this mundane existence we have created for ourselves. 

A particular quote I loved “I might have no time for Fleecebook and Twitter-Tattle, Snapshat or Instawhatever, but it loves them like naughty sons. The more noise the better as long it keeps a few real truths quiet.”

I felt this partly summed it up, our materialistic obsession. We love sharing so much with friends via social media. We lose ourselves in the moment, rather than enjoying what is in front of us right now, we sacrifice it for a few likes and retweets. We are missing so much. I am as guilty as the rest for this. There is a pressure here too, the ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, the need to acquire things just to show we have them. We don’t like the idea of people knowing we are struggling, we don’t always ask for help when we should. It’s like this ‘shame’ has been bred into us. There is no shame in needing help. To me anyways, it felt like this was one of the points of the books. Speak to people, ask for help if you need it. Don’t leave it so the ‘help’ seeks you out. Evil is attracted to the most vulnerable among us.

My favourite character has to be Ronald Hodge. My god that guy is a creep. I felt like I needed a shower each time he was in a chapter. He is one horrendously bad man, in every possible way. I absolutely loved the development of his story. The way it just kept getting worse and worse (in a very good way), he is awful. Reading about Steph in his house gave me chills. It was so bad yet so good. I really don’t want to say too much on Ronald as I don’t want to totally ruin it for people. This is must read, for this character if nothing else.

Bad Pennies is brilliantly thought out and written, it flows so easily from one chapter to the next. The switch up in characters is obvious without being confusing. The fluidity of the story and realness of all the characters made this a truly horrifying pleasure to read.

I am very much excited to delve deeper into The Scaeth Mythos, it’s fascinating. The other realm, the manipulations of our reality and the descriptions of the, do I call them familiars? I’m not sure. King Ratty was a definite favourite. When he became spider-rat, oh god, I was itching all over. I hate spiders! I really can’t wait to read the next instalment.

The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

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***REVIEW PENDING VIA GNOH***

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

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Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should.  If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.

I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?

Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.

That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.

I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed.  It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.

The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner

The Mouth of the Dark

As a horror fan, and all round crazy fan-girl, it is always the stranger the better that I love. I love randomness, oddities, crazy, the unusual and the downright illogical. I relish the weird and the wonderful with a fiery passion, embracing it and all its wondrous madness. This book, this wonderful book, The Mouth of the Dark, is all of these things and more.

There is nothing I can say that could do this book or its author justice. Tim Waggoner, you are a literary genius. This is an extraordinary tale, a frightening, exciting, and thrilling ride from start to finish. The Mouth of the Dark has opened up a whole new world of wonder for me, I feel inspired by it, and I feel that it has cracked open a creative door within me that I don’t think can ever be closed.

We meet Jayce Lewis, a regular guy, a desperate father who is searching for his daughter, Emory. He knows something is wrong, he is deeply worried. He and Emory are not the closest anymore, not since the divorce, something he regrets deeply, but they keep in touch. She has gone missing from her home, in the Cannery. No one seems to believe him, that she is in danger, missing, abducted maybe; even her mother thinks everything is fine, and that she is just loved up and holed up with her current boyfriend and will get in touch eventually. Jayce knows, he can feel it, something isn’t right and he isn’t leaving until he finds her, he will do anything to find her, his little girl.

The Cannery has a questionable reputation; it is not the safest of places to live by any means. It wasn’t what he would have wanted for his Emory, but she is an adult now, she has to make her own way in the world, and he respects that. A lot of strange things happen within the Cannery, it’s a place for the unknown, the darkness, and the shadows. A different kind of life thrives here. While asking around about Emory, he meets Nicola, a curious woman who saves his life after he is attacked by some of the Cannery’s strangeness. She offers to help him find his daughter, it’s just a matter of can they trust each other, and can Jayce accept what he is about to find out. His whole life is about to change in ways he could never have imagined possible.  

The Shadow, a world of dark wonder where the impossible is real, everything you could imagine, and the things you would rather not, it’s all real, and it’s here. A world existing alongside our own, just out of sight for most people, ‘normal’ people. Jayce soon discovers he has ‘the eye’, he can see the things most can’t, he is a part of the shadow, he just didn’t remember he was.

The Mouth of the Dark is a truly fascinating read, it has everything. We have lunatic killers, sex toys with a life of their own, dog eaters, clones, gladiator style fighting, melting heads and even a pinch of romance. It has something for everyone, and it is all wrapped up in a perfect twisted bow.

Haunted: Horror of Haverford West by G. L. Davies

Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest

This terrified me, I couldn’t put it down. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is an interview with a married couple, Dai and Anne (names changed so as to not be identified), recounting the dreadful days spent in their marital home. They are haunted by a malevolent paranormal being, tormented and almost driven apart by the entity. This book is the prequel – which happens to be featured at the end of this one – to G. L. Davies’ ‘A Most Haunted House’.

I really liked the style, the transcript, it really pulled me in, and I was immediately engrossed, desperate to find out what happened next. I was hooked from the get-go. It was really interesting, as well as frightening, the idea that this could be going on in the house next door and you wouldn’t know it. You might put banging and clattering down to just noisy neighbours with no consideration, or maybe they are having a clean out… you would never think that they were being haunted, not in a million years. Or maybe we don’t want to think that? Is it better that we live our day to day lives in the blissful ignorance that there is nothing else out there, nothing lurking in the closet or under the bed? Are we happier this way?

I honestly can’t say I’m 100% sure this is based on truth or whether this is a story in a ‘true life’ format. I am most definitely open minded, and I’m more to leaning that this is based on real events. If so, oh my god, I can’t begin to imagine how horrendous and terrifying this must have been.

I’m glad the original book was included, I hadn’t read this previously and it was interesting to see the similarities between both accounts, from different people in different eras. I also found the possible explanations for paranormal occurrences an interesting and insightful read.

For someone like me, a believer, this is a great read. It’s had me on Google, looking up the area and the paranormal goings on. It seems Pembrokeshire is a paranormal hotspot.

I’m quite interested in this I must say.

The story of the Hooded Monk of Union Hill in Haverfordwest is something that has grabbed my attention, the ghost hunter in me has decided to take a trip down later in the year, see some sights, and maybe spot a ghost or two. Of course we are already concerned this will end up the next big ‘found-footage’ film, my fiancé joking the sequel will involve his mother and uncle heading out looking for us.


Thank you guys for sticking with me this year, and I am looking forward to a very exciting horror filled 2019!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, Lesley-Ann, The Housewife of Horror xxx

Coming in 2019 – 7 books in 7 days

I have set myself a little 2019 New Years challenge – to read 7 books in 7 days. I want to make the most of my week off work (I’m off for the first 2 weeks of Jan), and it’s a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. 

I have chosen 7 books from my reading list (see below), and I have to say, I’m very excited to do this. It will be great to be able to just sit down and read. Normally things such as work get in the way, only having time in the mornings and on lunch breaks, so this will be a welcome change. 

Jan 1st – Savage Species (Jonathan Janz)

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Jan 2nd – Junction (Daniel M. Benson)

Jan 3rd – The Haunting of Henderson Close (Catherine Cavendish)

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Jan 4th – The Frighteners (Peter Laws)

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Jan 5th – Sugar Skulls (M. R. Tapia)

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Jan 6th – I Can Taste the Blood (John F. D. Taff)

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Jan 7th – Kosmos (Adrian Lang)

Think Yourself Lucky -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review ***spoilers***

Think Yourself Lucky

Ramsey Campbell

“David Botham just wants a quiet ordinary life―his job at the travel agency, his relationship with his girlfriend Stephanie. The online blog that uses a title he once thought up has nothing to do with him. He has no idea who is writing it or where they get their information about a series of violent deaths in Liverpool. If they’re murders, how can the killer go unseen even by security cameras? Perhaps David won’t know until they come too close to him―until he can’t ignore the figure from his past that is catching up with him…”

We all have many personas. We have our work persona, our home persona; we may act differently with different friends and relatives. We also have, in our current technological society, our online personas. From behind a keyboard, we can be who we want to be. We can say things we maybe normally wouldn’t say in public. This isn’t necessarily that we are ‘keyboard warriors’, it may be that we are shy, and quiet, and that we feel more comfortable behind the anonymity of a computer screen.  As humans, we are very adept at adapting our outward personality to our current situation and needs.

Then there is the inside voice. This is the persona that only we, as the individual, are aware of. That internal monologue, it’s the constant chatter within our mind. We all have this. It’s that voice you don’t want let loose in polite society, the one that is screaming at your annoying co worker, the one that is telling the person talking too loud on their mobile phone to shut up.

Think Yourself Lucky is a story with many layers.

David Botham is just an ordinary guy. He has a job in a travel agency, a girlfriend who he adores. He has a good life. He attends a writing group, only after some heavy persuasion from one of the members. He doesn’t see himself as a writer, but he is swayed into giving away a title, if he were to write – ‘Better Out Than In’. A title which I have to say, describes this story perfectly.

A series of accidents occur, all of which appear to be described in detail on a blog which is using David’s title. These are people that David has been, or is connected to. He is terrified, he can’t focus, he can’t think straight. He doesn’t know if he is going mad, if he is the one hurting people, or if someone is following him, using him as a scapegoat for these so-called accidents.

This is a really great novel, a re-release thanks to Flame Tree Press. It’s an inventive insight into the mind of the average person. The deepest thoughts, the feelings we want to keep to ourselves, and our hidden temperaments. It shows the damage of keeping our feelings locked away, the pain it can cause us. And it shows us the power of release. When we admit what we truly think and think. How much better off we can be if we are just honest with ourselves and others.

This is a great read from Ramsey Campbell. I wasn’t too sure on this one at first. The style, the switch between David and the blog was a little hard for me to follow initially. But once I got into it, I really got into it, reading most of it in one afternoon as I really became invested.

The plot develops really nicely, the pacing is great, and the payoff at the end is worth it. The characters are very ‘real’.  Average people, a good mix of personalities with the right balance of temperaments. David and his girlfriend Stephanie are two people you can really get behind. You want them both to be okay.

You can buy it here on Amazon (UK site):

4/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

Night Shift -⭐️⭐️⭐️Book Review ***spoilers***

Night Shift

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Robin Triggs

“Anders Nordvelt, last-minute replacement as head of security, has no time to integrate himself into the crew before an act of sabotage threatens the project. He must untangle a complex web of relationships from his position as prime suspect.

Then a body is found in the ice. Systems fail as the long night falls. Now Anders must do more than find a murderer: he must find a way to survive.

Will anyone endure the night shift, or will ice and frozen corpses be all that remains?”

Thank you to Flame Tree Press for this copy of Night Shift by author Robin Triggs to read in exchange for an honest review.

This a nice little read, a thriller set in a remote mining base situated in Antarctica. Anders Nordvelt finds himself as the new head of security for a mining project. This should be a routine job, there are only a handful of workers on the base, and there have never been any problems, until now. He unfortunately finds himself instantly hurled into what first seems like a sabotage plot, and then a body is found. Murder? Being the new guy on the block, no one trusts him,and of course they all suspect him. Are they right? Can Anders be trusted? Will the crew survive the night shift?

I enjoyed this novel, I did find it a little slow in parts, and to be honest, to me it didn’t feel like a lot really happened. It felt like a slow-moving slow burn thriller, keeping the reader guessing on the culprit of the sabotage and the murder right until the end. An Agatha Christie-esque suspense mystery. As much as I enjoyed it, and I was very excited by the cover (I love a dramatic cover), I did struggle with it. The slow pace, and the not very likable characters make it a difficult read in places. There was no one who I was really rooting for to be ok, not even the main protagonist Anders Nordvelt. As far as the ending, it felt very matter-of-fact, it seemed to lack the drama that should have been associated with it.

I would recommend giving it a read, Night Shift like I say is a great little mystery thriller, perfect for those winter nights in the comfort of your own home. The frosty Antarctic atmosphere really adds to the winter scene.

3/5

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)

The House by the Cemetery – Book Review ****SPOILERS****

 The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery

John Everson

Flame Tree Press

4*

***SPOILERS***

 

“Some things should remain buried”

 

Synopsis: “Rumour has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumours won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumours down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumours is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfil. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.”

 

Thank you to Flame Tree Press for sending me an advance copy of The House by the Cemetery to review.

Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should.  If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.

I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?

Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.

That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.

I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed.  It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.

The House by the Cemetery, released 18th October 2018, is available for pre-order from Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Cemetery-Fiction-Without-Frontiers/dp/1787580016/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537108789&sr=1-1&keywords=the+house+by+the+cemetery

 

4/5 – We all love a good haunted house story don’t we?

Lesley-Ann (Housewife of Horror)