#BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz. It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy.

About the Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.”The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin,” reminiscent of ShirleyJackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Since then Jonathan’s work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith,and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species,and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklistand was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School

Library Journal,and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan’s primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children,and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true.

Follow @JonathanJanz and @flametreepress on Twitter, Follow Janz On Instagram, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit jonathanjanz.com

Buy Dust DevilsAbout the book

It is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico and Cody Wilson and Willet Black are bent on revenge after their loved ones are slaughtered by a group of traveling actors, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

Review

Janz has been making a name for himself in the horror genre. It’s fair to say he tries to mix it up and redefine it by combining old favourites and modern ideas. This time it’s a western meets paranormal fantasy extravaganza.

The relationship between Cody and Willet is one of the highlights of the book. The two of them bond over the fact the vampires have taken loved ones from them. Cody becomes almost paternal towards Willet, perhaps the boy represents the future he has lost.

Some of the scenes are quite graphic, especially the violent and sexual ones. Janz can be a bit of a shock jock at times. A bit of a ‘let me lull you with the intricately woven relationships and my writing, then when you least expect it a wet kipper will whack you round the face’ kind of storyteller. The violence or the more graphic details creates a sense of unease and keeps the reader on their toes, which I think is intentional. Janz doesn’t want his readers getting too comfortable.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think readers who know Janz are aware of his style and hey the genre is known for being extreme and bending the boundaries. I think there has to be a nice balance, so it doesn’t appear to be gratuitous. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to the sexual element.

It’s a western and horror combined with paranormal fantasy. Cowboys vs Vampires, which is far more politically correct and results in some interesting scenarios. It’s a blood-drenched read.

What I can say without a doubt is that Janz enjoys evoking a strong emotional response in readers, regardless of whether they are feeling sympathy, disgust or anger.

Buy Dust Devils at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 27 Jun. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Flame Tree.

Read my review of The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz.

#BlogTour Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Ghost Mine by Hunter Shea. It’s horror meets western and and a wee bit of historical fiction.About the Author

Hunter Shea is the author of over20 books, with a specialization in cryptozoological horror that includes The Jersey Devil, The Dover Demon,Loch Ness Revenge and many others. His novel The Montauk Monster, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publishers Weekly. A trip to the International Cryptozoology Museum will find several of his cryptid books among the fascinating displays. Living in a true haunted house inspired his Jessica Backman: Death in the Afterlife series (Forest of Shadows, Sinister Entityand Island of the Forbidden). He was selected to be part of the launch of Samhain Publishing’s new horror line in 2011 alongside legendary author Ramsey Campbell. When he’s not writing thrillers and horror, he also spins tall tales for middle grade readers on Amazon’s highly regarded Rapids reading app.

An avid podcaster, he can be seen and heard on Monster Men, one of the longest running video horror podcasts in the world,and Final Guys, focusing on weekly movie and book reviews. His nostalgic column about the magic of 80s horror, Video Visions, is featured monthly at Cemetery Dance Online.

You can find his short stories in a number of anthologies, including Chopping Block Party, The Body Horror Book and Fearful Fathoms II. Living with his crazy and supportive family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to see the skyline without having to pay New York rent. You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com.

Follow @huntershea1 on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon,

About the book

Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla bound. The only problem those who go seeking their fortune never return. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark ghost mine…as well as a sinister force hungry for fresh souls.

Review

Blackburn is asked by the President himself, Teddy Roosevelt, to investigate the disappearance of his troops, who were sent to a rural isolated town to find out if there is any truth to the rumours of a huge gold deposit in the area. There is no trace of them or of any other of the townspeople. Something strange is going on in the town of Hecla.

It’s getting a bit of a reputation, which is why other local townspeople are unwilling to set foot in the area. The question is whether it is all just folklore, paranoia or is there really something more nefarious going on. Perhaps they should steer clear of the creepy gold mine.

I really enjoyed the way Shea gave the story a cheeky western nuance, and the relationship between Teta and Blackburn is absolutely what makes this more than just a horror read.

The two of them have a camaraderie, they are brothers in arms and they have each others backs no matter what comes their way. The author gives the setting an old school two cowboys and their horses go on an adventures feel to it. Their relationship sets the tone for the rest of the story.

In fact I actually think it will entice more non-horror readers to read the genre. The author draws readers into the read by hooking them with the rambunctious, devil may care attitude of the two main characters. Then once he has lulled readers into a false sense of security the horror starts trickling in.

It’s horror meets western and a wee bit of historical fiction. On a side note, I would love to read more about Teta and Nat in the context of their previous experiences and adventures.

Buy Ghost Mine at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Stoker’s Wilde by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod at historical fiction.About the Author

Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time traveling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels;and practicing photography.

Melissa Prusi was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (often mistaken for Canada), and studied video and film production at Northern Michigan University and the University of Michigan. She’s been a video editor,a semi-professional film reviewer,a three-time champion on the quiz show Jeopardy!,and a Guinness world record holder (1990 edition, for directing the longest live television show).

They met in a college screenwriting class and married three years later. They spent a brief time in Los Angeles, where they both worked for Warner Bros. television. They eventually ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where they love the arts scene but dread the winters. While they both currently make a living as website content managers, they have sold two screenplays, which have been lost to development hell.

They’ve indulged their fascination with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde through trips to Dublin and London to research their lives and visit sites mentioned in Stoker’s Wilde.

They live in St.Louis Park, Minnesota with their two cats. If they’re not writing, you can usually find them at a movie, local theater production, improv show or pub quiz.

Follow @StokersWilde on Twitter

Buy Stoker’s WildeAbout the book

Years before either becomes a literary legend, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde must overcome their disdain for one another to battle the Black Bishop,a madman wielding supernatural forces to bend the British Empire to his will.Review

What a wonderful way to combine two very important writers of the 19th century, and a wee bit of horror and the supernatural. Hopstaken and Prusi, the writing duo behind Stoker’s Wilde, have melded the creativity of both men to create an entertaining read.

The result is a band of merry werewolf and vampire slaying men. It reminded me of old classic horror stories and films. However it still manages to weave the oppressive morality laws and the way society seeks to conform individuals to their own set of standards, into the story. This defined Wilde’s writing and thought processes, which of course should have a place in his letters.

The book is set up with diary form and journal entries placed intermittently throughout, which have been collected and are held by The White Worm Society. Oscar writes to Florence Balcombe, his wife and later also his literary executor. There are also extracts from Stoker’s journal relating his version of the events. It gives the story an air of historical fiction, of someone wading in a piece of written history, and yet at the same time it has the exuberance of an urban fantasy plot.

It works because the writers know their stuff and have done their research. It’s important, when using a real historical figure in a fictional setting, to get the facts right, especially when it comes to being able to portray them realistically.

I came away from this read with a sense of nostalgia, despite the fang-toothed bloodsuckers and the furry moon-stalkers. With a need to pick up and read Wilde and Stoker and embrace their words. It’s horror meets urban fantasy with a nod to historical fiction.

Buy Stoker’s Wilde at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; Paperback pub date 30 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Widening Gyre by C.J. Sutton. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

About the Author

Born in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.

Faced with the choice between moving back in with his parents and continuing school, or paying his rent, he took “a year” off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management role. A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he’d had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.

In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.

In 2013, he attended the 17th Viable Paradise Science Fiction Writing Workshop. The experience of having his story critiqued by other writers, some of them professionals he’d been reading for years, helped him realize he could write professionally, and introduced him to some of his best friends.

He currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs (often with family), and reads.

Follow @MREJohnston @flametreepress on Twitter, Visit MJohnstonBooks.com

Buy The Widening Gyre

About the book

Eight hundred years ago, the Zhen Empire discovered a broken human colony ship drifting in the fringes of their space. The Zhen gave the humans a place to live and folded them into their Empire as a client state. But it hasn’t been easy. Not all Zhen were eager to welcome another species into their Empire, and humans have faced persecution. For hundreds of years, human languages and history were outlawed subjects, as the Zhen tried to mold humans into their image. Earth and the cultures it nourished for millennia are forgotten, little more than legends.

One of the first humans to be allowed to serve in the Zhen military, Tajen Hunt became a war hero at the Battle of Elkari, the only human to be named an official Hero of the Empire. He was given command of a task force, and sent to do the Empire’s bidding in their war with the enigmatic Tabrans. But when he failed in a crucial mission, causing the deaths of millions of people, he resigned in disgrace and faded into life on the fringes as a lone independent pilot.

When Tajen discovers his brother, Daav, has been killed by agents of the Empire, he, his niece, and their newly-hired crew set out to finish his brother’s quest: to find Earth, the legendary homeworld of humanity. What they discover will shatter 800 years of peace in the Empire, and start a war that could be the end of the human race.

Review

In this story the humans are the underdog. The rare species fighting for survival in a world run by aliens who eat raw and live meat. Shout out to the original V at this point, who loved to eat live rats and even hamsters.

Even in sci-fi there is room for sub-species to be discriminated against, treated as less than the superior race, and yet still used to stock up numbers in a war (aka bullet fodder). Tajen Hunt is a decorated war hero, the sole human carrier of the title Hero of the Empire. The fact he achieved this title by inadvertently causing the mass deaths of his own race, makes him a traitor to his own and deserving of an odd respect from the Zhen.

Tajen has to confront his feelings of guilt about his military career when a tragic event forces him to interact with his past and his immediate family. Easier said than done. He struggles to connect with his niece, in fact he struggles to connect emotionally to anyone.

He accidentally creates a team of determined truth seekers, who are willing to follow the scavenger hunt for information hidden by his brother. Not all of them believe the conspiracy theory and that the search will lead them to a planet surrounded my myths and tales of non-existence.

It’s a sci-fi space adventure with a ship full of rebels willing to defy a whole alien race to discover the truth about planet earth. What is so important the Zhen will go to any length to keep it secret, including killing those who are willing to dig deep to discover said secret.

I enjoyed the read. It’s futuristic, dystopian sci-fi meets action packed space opera. I look forward to reading where this series goes.

Buy The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Flame Tree Press; pub date 14 Mar. 2019. Buy at !ndigo, Flame Tree Press, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Powell’s, Waterstones or Book Depository.

#BlogTour Kosmos by Adrian Laing

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Kosmos by Adrian Laing. Laing mixes folklore, magic and the modern legal system to create a quirky courtroom story with an underlying moral core.

About the Author

Adrian Laing was born in Harlow, Essex in 1958 and was educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow and Exeter University where he studied law, graduating in 1978. Adrian was called to the bar (Inner Temple) in 1979, aged 21. Following a sabbatical in Paris studying with Michel Foucault at the College de France, Adrian undertook a pupillage in chambers and was made a Tenant (2 Pump Court, Inner Temple) practicing at the criminal bar defending and prosecuting in jury trials for seven years.

Leaving the criminal bar in 1987 to pursue more commercial interests, Adrian worked as the Assistant Head of Licensing at the ITC during the Channel 3 franchise process and then as a full-time consultant to the Chief Executive of Thames Television (Richard Dunn), following which Adrian was appointed the Senior Broadcasting Lawyer for the Leeds-based firm of solicitors, Hammond Suddards working in the city of London.

In 1994 Adrian was selected to become the first in-house lawyer at the Murdoch-owned publishing house, HarperCollins, where he held the position of Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary till 2001 working with some of the leading authors and agents of the day.

Adrian qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and set up his own legal practice (Laing & Co) for over 10 years acting for a wide range of prestigious business clients and authors. Adrian presented or chaired a leading seminar for The London Book Fair 2003 to 2012.

Adrian Laing is the co-author with his wife (Deborah Fosbrook) of three leading law titles published by Bloomsbury Professional, the author of R.D. Laing: A Life a widely acclaimed biography of his late father, the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, and a novel, Rehab Blues.

Adrian has appeared on radio and television many times most notably the BBC documentary ‘Just Another Sinner’ and Saturday Live with James Runchie.

Adrian now lives in Eastbourne, East Sussex. Buy Kosmos

About the book

Rookie barrister George Winsome, young and arrogant, defends an old boy who thinks he’s Merlin on a manslaughter charge. The riotous trial turns Merlin into a celebrity; money, greed and ambition take hold of George and his partner Heather until the secret of Merlin’s past is revealed as the spirit of Saint Yves intervenes to ensure George and Heather follow their true paths.

‘Kosmos’ is a modern-day jury trial, a feel-good love story and a spiritual journey involving Saint Yves, Nemesis and Merlin.

Review

George Winsome is assigned to represent an old homeless man accused of assault, a man who believes himself to be a great man of power and magic. Merlin thinks the meeting between himself and George is preordained, a way for him to keep the universe on track. Clearly everyone else thinks Merlin is a sandwich short of a picnic and George too big for his boots, which makes them the perfect peculiar couple.

Just based on this scenario it is quite easy to see how the innocent can fall prey to the criminal and/or legal system, and to get lost within misconceptions and misinformation. Aside from that Laing also shines a light on the archaic British legal system, and although everyone is amused by its eccentricities I wonder if they aren’t detrimental to the people having to go through said system.

For me the most intriguing aspect of this concept was whether or not we (people) need to believe in the improbable to sustain some semblance of hope in a world filled with uncertainty, fear and violence. To believe in a fictional or mythical character to achieve some sort of comfort in difficult times.

It also steers readers in the direction of accepting an element of peace in a role in life you might not have imagined yourself in, and yet might accidentally fall into. The few that understand that small acts of kindness will exact change, even if only for a few people, which is often more important than a ruthless high-ranking job with plenty of material gains.

Laing mixes folklore, magic and the modern legal system to create a quirky courtroom story with an underlying moral core.

Buy Kosmos at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Buy Kosmos at Amazon com

Publisher: Flame Tree Press, Follow @flametreepress

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#BlogTour The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour for The Sorows by Jonathan Janz. Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.About the Author

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories.

His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Brian Keene; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, and the School Library Journal.

His novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children. You can sign up for his newsletter Shadow World, and you can follow him on:

Follow @JonathanJanz @flametreepress on Twitter, On Instagram

Visit jonathanjanz.com

Buy The Sorrows

About the book

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. Something is waiting for them in the castle. A malevolent being has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.

Review

You get a fair idea of what to expect within the first chapter or so. Okay that’s a lie, Janz loves to spring the unexpected on his readers and his poor characters.

I like the idea of the odd codependent relationship between Ben and Eddie. The whole deal with the devil to achieve ultimate success and wealth. The way Eddie is willing to go to such extreme measures to get Ben motivated or rather to get his creative juices flowing, well it borders on negligence. What he perceives to be amusing others would consider to be reckless and dangerous. Not exactly what I would call a great friend.

I’m not sure the group really understands the stress and pain Chris is going through. Life as he knows it is in tatters, and having to deal with a vindictive ex-wife who is alienating their young son from him, is destroying him physically and mentally. It makes Chris a liability and someone who is willing to take a big risk, Not exactly unusual for a gambler, which is how and why he ends up letting the risk craving group enter Castle Blackwood.

If you have read anything by Janz then you will probably be aware that he has a talent for the darkest depths of hell and horror. The Sorrows represents the beginning of his journey, and also shows much he has honed his craft since then.

Low level male chauvinism and misogyny is alive and well in the men, and the women are objectified. Well, except for evil ex-wife perhaps. The sexual escapades seem more like gratuitous fillers and the horror is on the other end of the extreme.

Saying all that, the talent doesn’t go unnoticed and is clearly evident in this first novel. What I really liked, especially at the beginning of the book, was the way Ben and Eddie reacted to each other and the events. It was almost as if Janz wrote each part without either character knowing what the other was going to do, and that surprise comes through bold as brass.

Janz has a penchant for the unpredictable and the macabre. A perfect combination for a connoisseur and writer of horror.

Buy The Sorrows by Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press, (New edition – 30 Nov. 2018)

#BlogTour Think Yourself Lucky by Ramsey Campbell

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Think Yourself  Lucky by Ramsey Campbell. An unsettling piece of horror fiction, which comes perilously close to truths we all try to keep hidden.

About the Author

Ramsey Campbell is a British writer considered by a number of critics to be one of the great masters of horror fiction. T. E. D. Klein has written that “Campbell reigns supreme in the field today,” while S. T. Joshi has said that “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

Follow @ramseycampbell1 @flametreepress, Visit ramseycampbell.com

Buy Think Yourself Lucky

About the book

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…

Review

If you imagine the world wide web as a humongous one-way mirror with every internet user on one side, and on the other side, behind the dark impenetrable screen sit the unspoken desires, words and subconscious impulses. What we do on the translucent side can be seen by everyone, and yet it’s the moments in the darkness, the minutes of anonymity the other side of the mirror craves.

Campbell speaks to this dangerous element of the web, and of the hidden dangers that lurk there, and the parts of our personalities we keep hidden from others.

In general people are regarded or described in relation to their worst attributes in this story and women tend to, more often than not, be described as see you next Tuesdays or as portraying an annoying amount of see you next Tuesdayness.

The story has this feel of dirt you can’t seem to rid yourself of. Like a layer of invisible darkness over the entire story. This is really apparent towards the last scenes at the end, where you can almost feel the presence looming over you.

The fact the main character David is most definitely not a writer is repeated ad nauseam. In reaction perhaps to the blog some mysterious person is posting, which seems to have some weird connection to David. For me it is also a cheeky nod by Campbell to his many critics. A bit of a Marmite man, he waves the words ‘I am not a writer’ in front of everyone, whilst writing a story. That’s irony for you.

An unsettling piece of horror fiction, which comes perilously close to truths we all try to keep hidden. I found it a wee bit all over the place and perhaps not on par with other work by Campbell.

Buy Think Yourself Lucky at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Publisher: Flame Tree Press; New edition  (1 Nov. 2018)

(About the publisher: Flame Tree Press is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.)