Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz #Review


The story immediately reminded me of the film, "The House on Haunted Hill." The 1959 version starring the incomparable Vincent Price, not the 1999 less-than-stellar remake. A group of people are invited to a notorious house by a famous and wealthy host. The last man standing, so to speak, wins the prize. In this case, the people are writers and it's a literary contest which promises riches and accolades to the victor.

Janz has done a great job of presenting a cross section of writers. Some are arrogant, while others suffer from crippling self-doubt. They all have one thing in common though. Each of them has something to atone for from their past. Mistakes were made, often tragic mistakes, and their host has big plans based on those mistakes. I can't say much more without giving away the scary, yet satisfying details.

This one was hard to put down. Being a writer myself, I identified with some of the characters and their struggles. I also have to to thank Janz for including a nod to Jack Ketchum, and an awesome "kick in the ass" quote from him..."Fuck fear," supplemented by a character saying:
"I'm talking about writing without fear. About sitting in front of the keyboard, and saying, To hell with it, I'm going to do this, and it's not gonna be perfect, and that's fine, it doesn't have to be. But I'm not going to sit here like a cowering dog. That's a sure road to failure. Writing without fear doesn't guarantee it'll be good, but it puts you in the game."
Words to write by!

If you have not picked this up yet, what are you waiting for? Janz just keeps getting better and better. Take my word for it.

Read my reviews of Janz's other work:

Wolf Land
Children of the Dark

About The Dark Game
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. The Dark Game. FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

Find out more about Jonathan Janz by visiting his website. Subscribe to his newsletter here.


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Monday, April 29, 2019

The King of Bones and Ashes by J.D. Horn #Review


My thoughts
I won this book in a giveaway...a signed copy! I entered the giveaway because when I read witches and New Orleans, I immediately thought of Anne Rice's Mayfair Witches series and I was intrigued, as everyone knows Rice is one of my favorite authors. The similarities end at witches and New Orleans, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good story. While it had somewhat of a slow start, it eventually picked up momentum and I became engaged with the story. I've heard a few people mention that the story was hard to follow. I didn't find that at all. The individual story lines of each character/group of characters were interesting. Eventually, how they were all tied together was revealed. What a reveal it was! There are some genuinely scary moments as well, and a quite gory part toward the end (just to make anyone faint of heart aware...be prepared). In all, it was an enjoyable paranormal/horror novel.

This is the first book in a trilogy so I'm looking forward to reading the subsequent books. J.D Horn is also the author of the Witching Savannah series. I'm definitely going to check that series out as well.

First book of the Witches of New Orleans trilogy...

From the bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series comes the first book in a fascinating trilogy following the quest of a young witch to uncover her family’s terrifying secret history…

Magic is seeping out of the world, leaving the witches who’ve relied on it for countless centuries increasingly hopeless. While some see an inevitable end of their era, others are courting madness—willing to sacrifice former allies, friends, and family to retain the power they covet. While the other witches watch their reality unravel, young Alice Marin is using magic’s waning days to delve into the mystery of numerous disappearances in the occult circles of New Orleans. Alice disappeared once, too—caged in an asylum by blood relatives. Recently freed, she fears her family may be more involved with the growing crisis than she ever dared imagine.

Yet the more she seeks the truth about her family’s troubled history, the more she realizes her already-fragile psyche may be at risk. Discovering the cause of the vanishings, though, could be the only way to escape her mother’s reach while determining the future of all witches. (Goodreads)


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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Something Wicked This Way Comes final discussion and join us for the watch-along tonight #SomethingWickedFall


I apologize for not posting the last two discussions according to the schedule. I had my sister in town for my birthday weekend two weeks ago and I've been sick on and off since that weekend. Ugh. It has not been the fun October I planned. Anyhoo, I somehow managed to finish the book and I'm here to discuss it as a whole before our watch-along of the movie tonight. More details on that at the end of the post.

Here are my thoughts on the book as a whole:

The idea of self acceptance is very present in the book. The carnival feeds on self-doubt. In the case of Charles Holloway (Will's dad), he feels old. Too old to be a father which in turn causes him to question his ability to be a proper father. It is acknowledged in the book that we are not born with self acceptance. It is something we develop over time. In this book, with self acceptance comes power. Only when Charles realizes this is he able to defeat the carnival which survives by exploiting people who are unhappy with who they are.

I liked how the book touched on common cause. Charles Holloway talks about people who have a common cause are more willing to do things they would not normally do. Our ultimate commonality as human beings is that we are all going to die. If we use that commonality to gain common ground, the world would be a better place. In the case of the carnival, its evil preys on isolation. Toward the end, when Charles is getting ready to do the rifle "trick" and shoot the Dust Witch, he gets the crowd involved. Although we know that Charles ultimately defeats her with his happiness and self acceptance, it can't hurt to have the crowd rallying behind him.

I enjoyed the book. I always like how Bradbury is able to spin a disconcerting tale while subtly adding in social commentary. That the beginning sparks of this story began with his fear of a carousel when he was four years old is proof that stories are very much a part of life, whether we realize it or not.

What are your final thoughts on the book?

Join us for a watch along of the movie tonight at 9:00 pm CDT/10:00 pm EDT. We will be discussing while we watch on the Facebook event page here.

I was unable to find the movie available on any of the streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime), but I did find a free version on YouTube (although the quality is not the best). It's how I'll be watching. You can find it here.

Hope you can join us!

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Something Wicked This Way Comes - Week One Discussion #SomethingWickedFall


We started our read-along this past week, reading section was...

Week One (week of Oct. 1st): Prologue - Ch. 17 (pp 1 - 72)

How did it go? What did you think?

Some observations...

At the first, there's the lightning rod salesman. He is a great minor character for foreshadowing. His warning of the coming storm actually seems to have many meanings. The literal storm that may be coming. The storm that comes as a boy hits puberty and all the changes that come with it, and finally, perhaps the hugely disruptive storm that comes in the shape of the carnival rolling into town, which does so in a very strange and uncommon way.

Already, my creep factor is on alert!

I also noticed a theme (trend?) of which some of the older adults seemed to cling to. Will's father, Charles, is described as old. When he looks at the boys, a longing is sensed...for youth and all that goes along with it. He enjoys discussing books with them because then they are on common ground, but that's where it stops. Charles yearns for the youth which has long passed him by.

The two shopkeepers who stand transfixed outside their stores, one listening, the other smelling the smells of carnival food (candy). One has a tear trickle down his face. More longing for the days of youth, when visiting the carnival was probably the most exciting thing all year.

The lighting rod salesman, gazing longingly at the woman in the ice block inside the abandoned hardware store..."The Most Beautiful Woman in the World." Is she a siren encased there in the ice? Does she remind him of youthful days when beautiful girls were perhaps all around him?

Miss Foley going into the mirror menagerie, getting lost, and seeing her younger self lost in the mirrors.

So, a theme...the longing for youth, but what is it that draws Jim? Jim already has youth so what does he long for?

We shall see as we continue to read.

What are your thoughts on my observations? Any observations of your own? Share in the comments below.

Next reading section: Week Two (week of Oct. 8th): Ch. 18 - 29 (pp 73 - 145)
Discussion post next Sunday.

Happy Reading!

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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Something Wicked This Way Comes - October Read-Along/Watch-Along #SomethingWickedFall


In October, during the Something Wicked This Fall Comes event AND the FrightFall Readathon at Seasons of Reading, our read along will be the Ray Bradbury classic (for which this event gets its name), Something Wicked This Way Comes. We will also have a watch-along of the movie at the end of the month.

Discussions will be held on this blog. I will put a new post up each week on Sunday (with final discussion post up on Saturday, Oct. 27 before our watch along of the movie) and we will read along according to the schedule below.

Read-Along Schedule

  • Week One (week of Oct. 1st): Prologue - Ch. 17 (pp 1 - 72)
  • Week Two (week of Oct. 8th): Ch. 18 - 29 (pp 73 - 145)
  • Week Three (week of Oct. 15: Ch 30 - 42 (pp 146 - 218)
  • Week Four (week of Oct. 22): Ch 43 - Afterword (pp 219 - 293/end)


Our watch along of the film version (I saw it many, many years ago...it's a good one) will be on Saturday, October 27 at 9:00 pm CDT/10:00 pm EDT. I will host the watch-along via Twitter (hashtag #SomethingWickedFall) and Seasons of Reading (I'll create an event in the Seasons of Reading group on Facebook). Looks like you can watch it for free on YouTube here. The quality is not the greatest though. It's relatively cheap to buy, or you may be able to get it from your library. I couldn't find it on any streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. I didn't check Hulu. There's a chance it could be added in October because of Halloween. We'll see. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment or contact me from the link in the menu.

I hope you will join us!


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Saturday, September 15, 2018

#Hereditary Watch-Along - Saturday, September 22 #SomethingWickedFall


It's official! We will have our Hereditary watch-along on Saturday, September 22 at 9:00 pm CT/10:00 pm ET.

I will be hosting via the Seasons of Reading Facebook group (I will create an event so we can easily interact) and Twitter (we will use hashtags #Hereditary #SomethingWickedFall).

This post will be shared in the Facebook group (link above), and on Twitter, so comment on this post, or respond to one of the social media posts if you're in.

Can't wait! I actually saw this at the theater, but looking forward to watching again. It's that good.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Gothic Stories Master Post #SomethingWickedFall


This is the master post for Gothic books or short stories read during Something Wicked This Fall Comes. I will be updating this post with my thoughts on stories I've read during the event.

Please share what you've read/your thoughts on what you've read in the comments. I think this will make for some hearty conversation!

Note: I've included a tab in the blog menu so you can find this page easily. 

UPDATE: I've extended Gothic stories through the end of October since I didn't get to finish reading any of them yet. 


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