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Stephen King is having a really cool year. The second part of IT was in the theatres (it was bloody awesome … no pun intended … ok, maybe just a little). And the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep (which I reviewed several years ago … feel free to look it up), made it to the movies this month (about bloody time). Needless to say, I saw it and Rebecca Ferguson played a delightful Rose the Hat (gave me the hibby-jibbies). So when I heard that this book was on the horizon, I just couldn’t wait and it was spared very little resting time in the stacks at my branch. But enough with the blah-blah-blah, pleasantries and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blasted review. Yeah?

Tim Jamieson has come to a sudden dead-end in his career, as cop in a Florida town, and has decided to settle for the “greener pastures” of (get this) New York City. An overbooked flight changes his mind and he ends up hitchhiking (with over two thousand dollars for giving up his seat on the plane) towards the North. He soon finds himself in a small, unknown town in the South Carolina. He settles and finds a job as a night knocker: basically a cop that patrols the town and knocks on the doors of businesses and certain individuals in order to make sure all is well. The pay sucks, it is simple and he is unarmed, but life in this town is just as simple and nice. Or so it seems … for the time being.

Luke Ellis is twelve-year old kid. He is your typical twelve year old with a few minor exceptions: he is quite the child prodigy and when he is in a certain mood eating utensils and other things tend to move around on their own. Yes, Luke is telekinetic. And then one night, Luke’s parents are murdered and Luke is kidnapped and brought to a strange place in Maine known as …. (wait for it) … The Institute. The institute is run by a psychotic, Nurse Ratched type named Mrs. Sigsby and is staffed by a bunch of motherless, ex-military types of varying specialties. On entrance to the Institute many of the kids are told a yarn about them serving their country and saving the world …. and then the brutality …er, testing begins. Despite these are pre-pubescent teens, failure to confirm is met with physical abuse and even a form of water torture that makes waterboarding feel like a quaint baptism. Wait, a minute … children being separated from families and treated badly? Sounds familiar. Maybe not, only from the strange and twisted mind of King. Aye, that’s it. Along the way Luke befriends Kalisha Benson (who sounds like the Afro-American girl in last season’s Stranger Things), Nick Wilholm (the rebel), Avery and George Iles. Sort of like a twisted verstion of the Breakfast Club, except that these kids never go home, detention seems permanent and Mr. Vernon does not give out 500 word essays to write when they act up … they either get pummeled or tortured. But all is not lost, since the kids have found a friend in the form of Maureen Alvorson (a woman that re-stocks the vending machine that offers cigarette-type looking candies and alcohol … yes, you read right, among other things). The bad news, in all this, is that the kids don’t know that mom and dad are dead. The really bad news is that Maureen has a sinister ulterior motive that is unknown to these desperately, trusting teens. The kids find out that the Institute is divided into two parts: The Front Half where the new “recruits” are initially deployed for the Guantanamo Experience and then … there is the Back Half where kids simply disappear and are never heard from … ever … and it also features are weird humming sound. When that weird humming sounds changes to a pitch somebody in the world dies … puppies (thankfully) are spared. Somewhere along the line, Luke finds out the fate of his parents despite the Institute’s attempt to isolate him from that information and decides to go Freddy Mercury … and break free. It is during his strange odyssey (which would explain the cover) from the Institute that he crosses paths with Tim Jamieson … and needless to say … the shit hits the fan. And this where I stop for I fear that I will be spilling some unnecessary beans. To say more would be a complete and utter tosser to spoil for everyone … so there.

It. Is. Premium. King. Grabbed from various goings-on in this messed up world King stitches together a frightening quilt of a tale (or is it?) that is bloody disturbing yet intensively-mesmerizing that’ll leave you clinging on to the edge of the covers, as you battle insignificant things like eating, sleeping and bodily functions … all the way the breathtaking conclusion. Though there aren’t any preternatural creatures lurking around, this just might be his most disturbing and frightening yet. Why? Just look around us. Need I say more. And some of us just might utter a silent prayer and hope that this stuff remains bound and condemned to the pages of fiction. Mr. King, you remain America’s scary yet delightful uncle. Jolly good show, my good man.

Truth be told, I’ve been reading a lot of Janz stuff over the summer, but I didn’t want to make it a Summer of Janz thing (though that would have been a wee bit cool). So I had to spread it out, a bit. The latest that I just read … nay …. Consumed was The Darkest Lullaby. Another dark, twisted delicacy that will most likely give most folks sleepless nights especially if they live next to wooded areas. Be warned.But enough with the blooming pleasantries and let’s get on with the bleedy review. Yeah?
Apparently when it comes to writing horror Janz, in some cases such as Lullaby, dispenses with the foreplay and goes straight in to it. And then eases back into the foreplay, and builds up to the final climax (both metaphorically and literally). Interesting? Never thought about that … oh, wait ignore that part, that’s just a detour … nothing to look at. Or analyze. Lullaby starts off with a young woman giving about to give birth (sometime in the 80s) and it ends with her baby being taken away by a Rasputin-type figure, named Gerald Destrangis, and strange woman into a forest. I know, not much and it doesn’t exactly give you the hibby-jibbies … except this Janz we’re dealing with here and in the first chapter (yes, the FIRST) things went from normal to downright dark and sinister. And just when you are about to brace yourself for the oncoming onslaught … we meet Chris and Ellie (Eleanor) Crane. Married for a few years and hailing from Malibu (and a crappy apartment), they moved to Indiana to settle in a large house with a lot of many acres of land. This house was inherited by Chris from his late aunt Lilith. And though Indiana is quite a change from Malibu, the living situation is quite an upgrade for Ellie, though the house does have some creepy aspects. And just when things couldn’t get any better, Ellie discovers she is pregnant, after trying for quite some time. Seems like the move to Indiana is a good omen of sorts … but, yes, this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Funny thing about Lilith (nothing major or significant): prior to her passing she was part of an unholy cult that dabbled in blasphemous, dark rituals that involved sex, blood and sacrifices (let’s say we’re not talking about chickens on this one). Like I said, nothing major or significant.
And then the strange stuff begins (yes, you read correctly). Ellie starts seeing strange things as she explores the creepy (but big house that could hold a nice nursery room for her child). In one she encounters a strange alpha-male type man that chases her, from a secret room filled with ghastly images, with sinister and/or carnal intentions in his wild eyes … only to have both seemingly vanish. Chris, on the other hand, is exploring the large property, a land filled with woods and clearings and even a lake … until he encounters a strange naked woman walking in the woods … and ends up succumbing to a strange sexual encounter that he can’t quite recall (I hear those are usually the best ones assuming they are consensual … or tolerable at most). Oh, another not-so interesting thing about Lilith: prior to her passing she hated Ellie (with a passion) and had a strong attachment to her nephew, Chris. How strong you ask? The kind of attachments that you read about in Penthouse Forum (or so I’ve heard). And yes, bloody gross. But there it is. Needless to say, Chris starts to slowly change (and not for the best) and seems to constrain himself to two activities: taking walks in the wooded areas and writing a book that he forbids Ellie to look at. Wait a minute, sounds familiar? Sexual encounters with strange women, change in attitude, “writing” a book, living in roomy building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Red rum (minus the spooky twins). But if you think I’ve spilled the beans on this book you sadly mistaken. Not even close. On top of all things, there is a snarky real estate agent that tries to talk Ellie and Chris out of the property but for some strange reason wants to buy it. As the red flags mount, Ellie decides that it is time to leave, unfortunately the forces that be have other ideas and leaving that house is not going to be easy. To make matters worse (yes), Ellie sister shows up out of the blue and … the shit hits the fan. And it splatters red … and maybe a bit brown.
Lives intersect, and dark twisted secrets come to light in the dark … some sinister and terrifyingly deadly. And yes, there are some terrifying twists that accompany this Christmas tale, that WILL keep some awake for a few nights … or at least be wary of strange, naked women that you may encounter in wooded areas (hint: you might think of walking …nay, running in the next direction). Alas, Jonathan Janz has done it again: for some, another anti-sleep cure … and for others, a thirst for more of his terrifying fiction. Will this poor man be able to keep up with literary thirst he has created? Time will tell (and I hope this will goad him into spitting out more books). Caution to readers (because you’re my mates and all): don’t become attached to characters (trust me). .

Why, yes, it is another Jonathan Janz book and I can’t seem to get enough of his horror writing. And no, I’m not being paid one quid to promote his stuff (gasp!!!), and I actually like his stuff. And apparently he’s listening to my thoughts and writing tons of books every year. Maybe I should keep that part about him “listening to my thoughts” to myself. Too crazy? Oh well, enough with the bollocks and on with the review. Yeah?

Roderick Wells is the most celebrated yet reclusive writer in the world. So when ten “lucky” writers are offered an exclusive invitation to his summer-long writing retreat, their dreams are aglow with riches and literary fame. They, however, are instructed not to tell ANYONE about this invitation since that would be an automatic disqualification. Maybe it’s just me but that qualifies as red flag behaviour. I’ve seen enough horror movies that start with that premise … they never end good. Or maybe I need to get out more. Maybe. The winner of this contest gets three million dollars and a recommendation to the publisher, of their dreams, to publish their books. Upon arriving the participants are made to wear blindfolds and are taken into a strange forest that has a Gothic-type mansion in the middle of nowhere. Yes, more screaming red flags that even Stevie Wonder can see on a dark, moonless night. Among the writers is Lucy, an actual published Young Adult (YA) writer that had great but short-lived success with one book and has yet to write another for over a decade. There is also the unpublished Rich and rising star Elaine. And there are few sociopaths within, Anna and Bryan. During their first meeting with an old Roderick Wells and his alluring youthful wife, Amanda, Rich receives a scary premonition about Roderick. And the shit hits the fan. With no access to the Internet but a great sprawling library available, the writers have to create stories and everyday are selected to read their stories to everyone else (I once took a class like that … one the best English classes I ever took in college). The genre was selected by Wells and it turns out to be (wait for it) … horror. Yes. Writers that are found lacking are treated to acidic criticism by Wells who make Simon Cowell seem like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. And they are eventually “eliminated” or as Wells would put it … “sent home”. Sort of like saying that the ailing Fluffy was being sent off to that “wonderful” farm to roam freely with all the other animals. Even more disturbing is that the eliminated writers tend to leave without their possessions, which Wells’ manservant, Wilson, claims that he’ll take care of it. Sure thing, mate. The strange thing is that as writers become “eliminated” Wells seem to get younger and strange things start to appear in and around his mansion. Maybe it is just the atmosphere. Yeah, and I’m the Queen of England. Strangely enough, what started out as a seemingly random gathering of writers turns out to be anything but. They are all bound by pasts filled with misdeeds and skeletons (some literally) in the closet. And no … I’m not going to spell out those misdeeds that ranged from bloody sleazy to viciously disturbing. Yes, I’d be a tosser if I robbed you of all the fun. So there.
Roderick Wells is Hannibal Lector (without the cannibalism … I think) meets Julie Andrews (minus the cheery demeanour) with a hint of Dracula (minus the fangs … I think). A good portion of the book was dedicated to revisiting the sordid, dark pasts of these writers, which adds beautifully to story and will easily evoke emotions for these characters. Basically those you’d love to see live or die (gruesomely). But be careful and choose wisely (or play it safe and don’t choose at all), because this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Don’t become attached to characters. You’ve been warned. Enjoy the read.

Yes, I know. I didn’t post anything on September, and the Evil Parrot will gladly admit to cocking up big time. Was pretty busy at work (yes, the library gets pretty hectic) and then I went to Vegas. Aye, gun ranges galore and jamming with rock bands at the Fremont Experience (Element 67 and Alter Ego crushed it). Everything else falls under the “whatever happens at Vegas” grouping (spoiler alert: not much, since I’m very chill). So I shall make up for my September misdeeds and offer you not one, nor two … but THREE reviews and since it is October, they are all Jonathan Janz stuff. Yes, it is like a book review grindhouse (and yes, I may have aged myself, since most folks may not know about grindhouse movie theater days … where you paid to see TWO movies instead of one and they consisted of violence, gore, and the occasional sexploitation). Great son and dad moments (and I mean that). But enough about Vegas, grindhouse movies and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blooming review. Yeah?
I am being spoiled by Mr. Janz. Within a two year period, my book review blog has become littered with his stuff. And I’m about to do some more littering. So much (awesome) horror writing. And after every book, I’m like Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire: I want more. And it seems as if Mr. Janz is more than happy to oblige. If we ever cross paths, Mr. Janz, there is a pint with your name on it my good man.
The cover and the title , Wolf Land, spares little in alerting the reader what this book is about: werewolves. But be warned there is, a disclaimer in the beginning of the book (yes, I kid you not), promises that this is not those romanticized tales of werewolves … dear heavens, no. Feel free to put thoughts of Kate Beckinsale running around in body hugging latex out to pasture … then again … Alas, it gets quite dark, and viciously disturbing. Even some horror book taboos may have been crossed (if there is such a thing). Aye, there is more than just fictional victims being ripped to shreds here. The story begins with a bunch of former high school mates meeting up in a wooded area (it always a wooded area … what gives Janz) for some kind of party. The usual bollocks: kegs, beer, barbecues and hopes of shameful, drunken bouts of the old in-out, in-out. Sometime during this gathering, a stranger crashes and intrudes on the party goers. After taunting them, he changes into a werewolf and attacks them, and it is quite a vicious scene. Some die and a few survive. Among the survivors are an odd assortment of characters: Glenn Kershaw (a jock type with a cool Vette); Joyce (a librarian … YES !!! … that has a crush on Glenn); Duane “Short Pump” Mckidd (an occasional butt of jokes); Weezer (a typical wimpy, loser type); Savannah (a single mother with an adorable kid named Jake); and Melody Bridwell (who is secretly being used as a weekly rape toy by her father and four brothers … yes, you are reading right and the dark stuff hasn’t even been touched as yet). Now unlike that usual bollocks about the full moon, these werewolves can simply turn due to triggers that could be atmospheric, emotional or possibly certain foods (I’m not spelling it out and ruining the story for folks). There is even an interesting twist to this tale where some of the turned survivors not only change physically but psychologically. Some turned out to be latent psychotics and used their new-found abilities in terrifying and very, very disturbing ways. Sides of good and evil are drawn, and like most Janz books the bets are off on just about everyone. Try not to get attached to ANY of the characters. Though some wankers do
get their due, there is enough piles of bodies that would leave most folks shaking their heads at the end of the book … and wondering about the next book. And think people were shocked over the Red Wedding in Game Of Thrones. And yes, I did go there GoT folks.

Believe it or not, I’m not all about testosterone-induced action and violence, or horror gorefests decorated with crimson splatters and hung innards. Oh no. Aside from the rare blue moon (and I do mean RARE) occasion that may include some touchy-feely or naughty reading (and I’m not talking 50 Shades … there is sooo much better erotica out there … or so I have been told), I do like to indulge my funny bone. Alas, I am one of those easily amused types (Geico and Subaru dog-tested commercials make me completely lose it … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). So when I came across the synopsis of Kill The Farm Boy, I couldn’t help myself … and needless to say, was not disappointed. Well enough with all the bloody pleasantries, and let’s get on it. Yeah?

Once upon a time, in a land far away, some princess got her finger pricked on a rose and she and entire castle fell into an enchanted sleep. Except for a half-bunny bard, that couldn’t hold tune to save her life, named Argabella. Meanwhile, in a farm (not so far away from the castle), a farm boy named Worstley (his brother Bestly was killed by a lord for being too handsome) is informed by a (seemingly meth-addicted, badly dressed , hygienical atrocity) pixie named Staph that he is the Chosen One. So like most “chosen ones” Worstley sets out, armed with a jar of pickled herring, to free the princess from her enchanted sleep. He is accompanied by a trash-talking billy goat (and scene stealer) named Gustave that has a taste for old boots (especially if its marinated in foot sweat of olde). Along the way they encounter a huntress/assassin named Poltro that has a fear of chickens and is a bumbling buffoon. There is a seven foot, ebony, female warrior named Fia who wears a chain-mail bikini and fears her own sword (that may be a wee bit vampiric in nature). Along with Argabella, there is the Dark Lord named Toby whose magical skills seems to be limited to causing half-done bakery products to rain down on you, though to both relief and dismay of the group this “skill” has saved the group from starving during their travels. Toby has also been known to make up for the lack “sorcery” skills by (gasp) outsourcing his magic to mail-ordered potions and whats-not. So as they set out on journey with an ever-evolving quest (yes, I’m afraid waking princesses from enchanted comas aren’t so simple since there will be unnecessary greasing of palms and strange favours) they encounter strange worlds: enterprising trolls with shopping bazaars that are meant to take more than money from unwary travelers; persnickety gigantic, rock monsters with refined culinary abilities that would school Gordon Ramsey; strange towns like the elven Morningwood with its strange inhabitants and naughty double entendres abound.

It is Monty-Python meets Princess Bride meets Airplane meets Nation Lampoon Vacation and even though the summer is close to an end there is still time to grab this hilarious read by the delightful Dawson/Hearne team. And end summer (officially in September) with some laughter … preferably poolside or on a beach. Yes, I sniggered and giggled like a little girl as I read this … on the transit systems … much to the dismay of my fellow commuters. I apologize if that unnerved the lot of you (though in NYC, that behavior is usually reserved for the mentally unbalanced or those imbibing strange chemical concoctions that might be illegal/controlled). The really good news is that this part of a series (YES !!!!!) called The Tales of Pell. And, heaven knows, we could certainly use a bit of levity right about now in consideration of the bollocks coming through the airwaves. Dawson and Hearne you have captured my heart and I can’t wait for the rest of the Tales of Pell. Rock on, Gustave !!!

Running title: Gray Day – My Undercover Mission To Expose America’s First Cyber Spy

This title appeared in one of our earlier monthly non-fiction book lists that we use to determine which books we should buy for our library branches. There is a good possibility that I may have selected this book but somehow forgot about its existence … until I came across it in the stacks. And then the memory floodgates opened and I remembered salivating like a Pavlovian dog on the synopsis. I need to get out more. And since I was “jonesing” for a book to read and simply grabbed this for my literary “fix”. But enough with the drug allegories and other such bollocks and on with the bloomin review. Yeah?

I do remember when this story broke back in the early 2000s, it was quite the shitstorm. Robert Hanssen, was one of the biggest moles, in American history, who sold secrets to the Russians and compromised much of America’s tactical strategies against our enemies. On the bad side of things (yes, you are reading right) he compromised the lives of many agents and Russian defectors. Needless to say, America was tremoring for months after this broke through and for that period I was curious about this.

Eric O’Neill was an FBI “ghost”, agents capable of efficiently hunting and capturing spies and intelligence traitors. He was also newly married to Julianna, a former citizen of (then) East Germany. Something that he did not disclose to his superiors and got him sidelined for about year. Apparently, having romantic dalliances with women from former Communist countries whilst working for the US government was frowned upon … compromised security and all that good stuff. Then one day, he was suddenly enlisted on a spy hunting mission. The target, one of their own: Robert Hanssen. Robert Hanssen, at the time, was selected (also off the sidelines) to start (get this) the FBI’s first cybercrime unit. In other words this was more than the fox guarding the henhouse; he was bloody building the henhouse, too. The mission, should he choose to accept it (and thankfully did) was to work as subordinate of Hanssen and observe him. Oh right, Hanssen is also a master spy that is very elusive (for more than a decade) and this might be the Bureau’s last chance to nail his sorry ass (no pressure). And there begins the intense cat and mouse game. The problem is that as you progress throughout the book you start to question who is the real cat or mouse and yes … this perspective will change a few times during your reading. Now if you are expecting to read a boring book about some bloke observing a traitorous tosser, you are in for a shocker. Despite the knowledge of how this story ended, Gray still retains that icy grip of a thrilling, suspense-riddled spy novel (Jason Bourne be damned) that makes every page hard to resist turning and sometimes waging a battle with insignificant things like eating, sleeping or using the bathroom. There are some jaw-dropping revelations that appear in this book and it does not favour the FBI about the numerous times the Bureau may have dropped the ball that could have easily ended Hanssen’s long spree. Much earlier. Thankfully the Bureau have learned and has evolved. And as O’Neill struggles with the task on one hand and his law studies on the other, his homefront begins to take a beating. Odd hours at work, mostly due to a “broken server”, being distant in conversation and strange phone calls are putting a strain on his new marriage. He is unable to discuss his work with a woman he is terminally in love with and this begins the slow unravelling on both sides. Robert Hanssen comes off as an arrogant, covertly-cocky, know-it-all that will solicit very little or no sympathy from most readers.
Gray Day is, subtly, a tribute to the folks that work at the FBI and what they do. Yes, apparently it is more than interviewing serial killers that have a penchant for Chianti and fava beans.Most of all it gives a snapshot of the toll and the cost that many of the agents have to pay for the sake of protecting this beautiful country despite some of the bollocks, concerning their abilities, that have been floating around on the airwaves during a certain investigation that involves a certain far east country (there I said it). Jolly good show, Mr. O’Neill, and thanks for your service.


Ever since read The Siren and the Spector and Savage Species, Jonathan Janz’s horror writing has become as a warehouse-sized blood bank with me, as a vampire, trapped inside of it. Another way of saying it’s like being a kid in candy store … oh who am I kidding … I’ve got brilliant folks that take the time and come read my humble little blog. Dreadfully sorry. I truly hope that Hollywood would put some of his work on screen because, seriously speaking, the horror scene in Hollywood SUCKS. Badly. Case and point: millennial themed Truth or Dare and Wish Upon. And the list goes on … and I won’t rant on this bollocks … for now. So when The Nightmare Girl by (my newly minted favourite) horror writer landed on the stacks, I basically went feral and pounced on it. Interesting note: this my third Janz book within a six month period. But who cares? And enough with the pleasantries and other such bollocks, and on with the bloody review. Yes?

Joe Crawford is a contractor that repairs homes. He has a beautiful wife, Michelle, and a daughter named Lily. Delightful little family. One day as Joe was filling up at a gas station, Joe observed what can be easily pass for child abuse as a young feral –looking mother scolds her child viciously. Though others simply watch on (or resorting to tosser acts such as recording on their smartphones) Joe decides to take action and intervene. He soon finds himself assaulted by not only the child’s feral-looking mother but also the child’s grandmother (who is quite a bit of work herself). The authorities arrive arresting the mother (Angie) and grandmother (Sharon). Leaving the child, Stevie Waltz, with the Crawfords for a few days until foster reassignment. Several days after her release from jail, Angel Waltz pours some gasoline on her body and lights herself afire … but not before stalking the Crawfords and menacing them. When Joe sneaks into the cemetery to observe the funeral of Angie Waltz, he finds it not only odd but unnerving since it is not like your typical funeral: strange rituals and utterances in a Latin-like language. Unknown to the Crawfords is that they have stumbled onto an ancient fire cult that is very vicious with strange dark rituals, and are not exactly the type to invite you over from tea and crumpets. Soon strange things start to happen to the Crawfords as Sharon Waltz (the grandmother) threatens retribution on the entire family for not revealing where her grandson, her only ties to Angie, foster home location. Police Chief Daniel Copeland is tall Afro-American, wisecracking, no-nonsense police chief and is thrown in to this strange conflict that is brewing between the Crawfords and this cultish clan. He’s also an avid Nicholas Sparks reader.
Just when things couldn’t seem to get any better, an old house that next to the Crawfords that went unsold for many months was finally bought by a charming older, high-society type (and somewhat sexually adventurous), couple called the Markers: Mitch and Bridget Marker. What’s even more intriguing is that they seem interested in hiring Joe Crawford for a lucrative remodeling of the large mansion type house. And though Joe is appreciative of the work, there is in the back of his mind that there are too many coincidences, especially when Bridget seemingly has the hots for him … with ulterior motives. To add to this, his assistant, Kevin Gentry, has started to behave a wee bit odd. And as the world seems to close in on the Crawfords, they find an ally in Daniel Copeland which they will need as things quickly take a frightening and sinister turn as some twists, in the story, would reveal that some people aren’t whom (or what) they appear to be.

Nightmare is one of those atmospheric horror pieces that keeps teasing you into believing that scary stuff is waiting on the next page but it doesn’t yet it builds in the anxiety at each turn of the page. Legs will be crossed, bladder and bowel systems stifled because when the shit hits the fan it will be brutal and vicious and prisoners will not be taken. And it will happen as casually as a stroll in the park. You won’t see it coming. And as always, I caution folks as they venture into a Jonathan Janz terrorscape: try not to get too attached to characters.You will thank me for that bit of advice. Mr. Janz, you are spoiling me.