THE IDEA OF YOU (Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing) is a well-written novel that touches a delicate
subject: the incapacity to carry a pregnancy to full term. Fortysomething Lucy yearns
to have a child with her hubby but after several failed attempts—plus the
sudden arrival of her husband’s troubled teen daughter from another marriage—the
very thought of giving life starts to put a strain on her
relationships. When past secrets resurface and threaten to destroy
everything she had worked for it’s up to Lucy to decide what’s really
important: a bundle of joy or happiness without?
This is a surprisingly good find. Had I not received
it as a complementary gift from the publisher I would have never known it
existed. Just go to show you that sometimes life has a way of throwing some
curveballs that in the end are exactly what you need.Sort of like the goings on of this heroine,
come to think of it.
I’ll admit, the subject matter is far from being my
cup of tea. Perhaps it’s due to the simple fact that being childless I never
felt the need to procreate, of better yet, adopt. Though I must say that it did
come to mind recently while reading this book (in exchange from an honest
review for NetGalley); so much so that I’m beginning to wonder if I am not
missing something. But moving on. One thing is certain, however, this is not
the last time I’m going to pick up an Amanda Prowse novel.Her talent for plunging the readers right into
the nitty gritty of her narratively affairs makes for a sophisticated novel
worthy of any heart-wrenching offering. I wouldn’t be surprised if the story has
already been optioned for the Lifetime channel or something like it. Yes, THE IDEA OF YOU is a must-read, whether
you connect with the topic or not. It will leave you yearn for more, which is just
perfect if based on the author’s impressive backlist.
THE IDEA OF YOU is available wherever digital or conventional books
I was in the middle of Penny Vincenzi’s THE BEST OF TIMES (Headline, 2009) when my hubby phoned
to say that he had had a major car accident on the freeway. He had lost control
on the icy road and the vehicle rolled over twice. Fortunately—and miraculously—he
was left with only a sprained shoulder besides having had the fright of his
life. THE BEST OF TIMES deals with
the same topic that unexpectedly hit close to home, the after-effect of a
devastating car crash on a bunch of victims and rescuers. From the inspiring
actress who yearns to forget she even was in the lorry that started it all to
the kind-hearted married doctor who pays dearly for having had his mistress on
sight, not to mention the star-crossed lovers who almost lost the chance or
reuniting after 60 years—those are only some of the fascinating people highlighted
in this doorstopper of a novel.
BEST OF TIMES reaches 880 pages and not once does it feel overwritten. It is
an easy breezy read from cover to cover. The author is an ace at delivering
multi-plotted situations. Her narrative, as well as her characterization, is
fresh and oh so well-handled. I could go on and on praising the novel, just as I
could go on and on talking about the plot and subplots but as always I prefer saying
as little as possible so you can savor it just as I did. One thing I will admit,
however, is that throughout my reading journey many a time I found myself
smiling, cringing, and shedding a tear or two while hoping resolutions would eventually
come for these lovable but flawed people. Many nights I stayed awake just to
get to that finish line of a conclusion. I would have read hundreds of pages
more, even, had it been the case.
Those who religiously follow this blog may remember me
stating that I intended to read Penny Vincenzi’s novels chronologically. I am
of course aware that I skipped many titles to get to this one. The reason might
be the parallel it has with the accident my hubby experienced on that faithful
day. I believe nothing is left for chance. Color me gullible but THE BEST OF TIMES may have been right
there just so I could cope better with the situation. When death is just around
the corner, the perspective of mortality becomes a whole new ballgame. I
believe that what these fictitious people went through gave me the leeway to a
connection far beyond my imagination. Farfetched to some perhaps but to me it’s
clear as daylight. And for that, Miss Vincenzi, I will always be grateful.
You can still get this title wherever digital or conventional books are sold.
I recently read PILLOWFACE and BIGFOOT BEACH by
Kristopher Rufty and enjoyed them so much that when NetGalley offered SOMETHING VIOLENT (DarkFuse) in
exchange for an honest review, I just couldn’t pass it up. It is fair to say
that Rufty has entered the realms of the new breed of horror writers who prefer
the in-your-face tactic over the slow-burning approach. When the result of that
makes for an impossible to put down shocker like any of those first mentioned two
titles, the reader has no choice but to ask for more of the same. SOMETHING VIOLENT is that kind of a
book. The plot may be a tad different but the execution is cut and paste.
Indeed, taking a cue from Bryan Smith’s work mostly, Rufty
delivers a tale that is high-strung on violence but surprisingly very light on
characterization. The duo work of his protagonists—or should we say antagonists
since they are famed serial killers after all—may be despicable for all the
obvious reasons but their union sure is far from that. Like any couple who just
happens to love slaying people, there is a bump in their relationship. It’s up
to a kidnapped therapist to save their fading romance—if he doesn’t get killed
Told in alternative points of view, SOMETHING VIOLENT is overall fun if you
don’t wallow too much in its cold serving. Despite having a fast-paced tag and
a lively narrative the book suffers from a lack of sympathy for its fearsome
twosome. Obviously they are meant not to be taken too seriously but the overall
effect of their sordid ways can become irksome after a while if little else is
going on. Still SOMETHING VIOLENT is
certainly worth checking-out just for the wild ride if offers and of course for
the thrill of finding out if this romantic pair is indeed saved. Just enter
with caution, that’s all.
SOMETHING VIOLENT is available wherever digital books are sold.
Why not focus yet again on an Elizabeth Gage novel,
sweet readers, like her third outing THE
MASTER STROKE (Pocket Books, 1992) which, by the way, has nothing to do with Picasso or the
likes (that would be INTIMATE, her latter work). Indeed, this time it’s the
birth of the computer that dominates this energic tale of passion and revenge which
starts in the mid-50s and ends up around the early ‘60s. Computers, really?! But don’t be fooled. If anyone could make an
unsexy and bland topic riveting it certainly is Elizabeth Gage. The way her
story unfolds—with her rich narrative, well-defined characterization and her
astute chapter hooks—can only put THE
MASTER STROKE in a class of its own.
Of course the novel has its faults. Her provocative
heroine may be an electronics genius but what an idiot she is at romance. In
fact, all of Gage's characters stink at love. And boy does she make them suffer
for it. From incest to rape to murder, THE
MASTER STROKE screams of clichés, yet with her skillful ways Gage succeeds
in making this a powerful experience. Yes, good prevails over evil in the end,
but the path to there is one heck of a ride, I’m telling you.
Or am I just biased because it’s a Gage? The truth of
the matter is I doubt it. I’ve been around this block too much to be clueless
about that simple fact. So does THE
MASTER STROKE make it Gage’s strongest book?Not by a long shot. That would be her debut
classic A GLIMPSE OF STOCKING. But compared to many novels of the same era it
is certainly a strong one. I doubt you’ll be bored by it— again even with a
topic as mundane as this one. It just proves to you that Elizabeth Gage could
make anything fun, even her grocery list.
The first half of Ania Ahlborn’s THE DEVIL CREPT IN (Gallery Books)kicks major ass: the disappearance of a child,
the family and closed ones hovering over the tragedy, the tears, the pain, the
hope—then something big happens, a dramatic turn of event that makes you smile
as a horror reader but also makes you say, WTF!? The kind of unexpected twist that
gives you one more reason to drop everything and persevere in your reading. Did
I hook you already?Good.
I wish I could say that the second half is as strong if
not stronger but alas it is not. What I will say however is that Ania Ahlborn is
one heck of a storyteller. She has a way of luring her readers into submission with
her sense of style but more importantly with her wicked, wicked pen. What
happens to her protagonist—a 1o year-old loner with a speech impediment, a few missing
fingers (don’t ask) but a will of ten men when he decides to find his missing
cousin and best friend—will hook you from the get-go. Her strongest ally is the
way she creates fleshed out characters which drive this whole story. Whether
they turn out to be good or bad they are worth following.
Unfortunately, despite or because of that, the plot
takes a step back to become somewhat predictable. Indeed, what starts out as
original suddenly feels less so as we persevere. I’ll even go as far and say
that most of the plot twists can be guessed ahead of time. Which is a shame
since everything else is so perfect, especially the creation of her antagonist
which is rather original, especially for the way he got there (I don’t want to
say too much). Still, THE DEVIL CREPT IN
is worth the read if only for the great narrative and characterization. As
a bonus, you’ll probably feel like you’ve just entered The Twilight Zone. I
know I did.
to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange
for an honest review.
Picking up a Rebecca Chance novel is always a treat
for me. Rain or shine she always delivers. So it comes as no surprise that her
2010 BAD GIRLS (Simon & Schuster UK) is just what the
doctor ordered. Set mostly in a rehab to
the stars, the novel introduces three main sufferers who, different as night
and day, all have one thing in common: they are the addictive kind. Whether
it’s to pills, to blow or even to sex they all need help. Or so it seems.
Because, you see, one of them is admitted under false pretenses. The reason? Simple:
to catch a celebrated star under compromising positions (wink wink). Not as
easy a task as it seems, however, especially when the heart interferes.
Be forewarned: once you pick up this book you won’t be
able to let it go. It is that
addictive. Rebecca Chance delivers a one-sitting read worthy of any Jackie
Collins offering. Yes, I keep referring outstanding novels to the work of the
late author. How can I not when the bar’s aimed that high? BAD GIRLS reaches that plateau quite easily. The author keeps the
ball rolling with effective plot and characterization, and a sense of style that
can only be envious. Color me enchanted but I predict even better and bigger
things from her, whether it’s under her own name or the one she uses to pen
those fabulous reads. The world is her oyster.
OK, OK, I’ll calm down. But promise me this: you’ll
check out BAD GIRLS ASAP. If you
ever wondered how to write a glam-fiction novel that has wit and heart and
possesses a smooth narrative that still packs a punch then look no further. This
is the one to get, folks. I promise, it’ll be just as fun studying it as witnessing
just how bad this fictitious other half lives.
BAD GIRLS is still available wherever digital or conventional books are sold.
I could sum up this blog entry with one phrase: grab this book now, and move on to the
next topic but that would be unethical of me. Besides, I’m sure the publishers
and NetGalley expected more than just four little words when they agreed to let
me read this gem in exchange for an honest opinion. So without further ado: Victoria
Fox’s latest THESILENT FOUNTAIN (HQ) is all
about secrets, secrets from the past mainly. We have Lucy who is running away
from a London affair. Without giving away too much let’s just say that her
reasons for doing so are more than valid. Then we have Vivien, the Hollywood actress
who shies away from the spotlight for a chance at love, but with all the mystery
surrounding her dashing beau, is it really worth it?
Trust me on this, the less I say about the plot the
more you’ll savour this novel. Fair warning though: the author’s usual glam
fiction approach is a bit toned down, replaced mostly by a gothic-like approach that reminds those captivating but quickly made mass-market paperbacks from the
late ‘60s and ‘70s. You know the kind, those that usually highlight on their
covers a beautiful heroine on the run from an intimidating castle. Except that in
this one everything is top notch, from the rich narrative switching from first
to third person to the end of chapter hooks that make it impossible to put the
novel down, not to mention the well-thought-of setting that goes back and forth
But first and foremost THE SILENT FOUNTAIN is a love story. A different kind of a love
story, perhaps (again I don’t want to say too much but be ready to reach for
some tissues), but one that still packs a wallop. If Miss Fox’s main aim is to
give more sense of realness to her characters and plot by going full gloom,
well, I’m happy to say that the mission has indeed been accomplished. So much so that it may even elevates her already
celebrated career to a whole new level: that of a dark fiction writer.
When I saw that the latest novel from Ella Harper
(formerly Sasha Wagstaff) was available in exchange for a review on NetGalley my
spirit just soared. Here was the chance for me to finally do this author
justice. Not that I have ever done her wrong. I mean how could I when all she
had ever shown is a knack for grabbing readers by the balls with her sheer
talent. She certainly does it again with ONE
LAST WISH (Canelo Books), the story of a cancer-stricken ten year old who yearns
to solidify her parents’ love for one another before she passes on.
Having a sick child has taken a toll on Rosie and Nate.
Their once-perfect marriage is now filled with bitterness, resentment, jealousy—all
but unexpressed—but most importantly sorrow, sorrow over eventually losing
their daughter to an incurable brain tumor. But Emmie has not said her last
word. Her situation may be a ticking time bomb but with the help of her nerdy
but devoted therapist, her cool family and friends, she will do her best to
bring her parents back together. And in doing so, get rid of some personal
issues regarding her terminal illness.
I admit that the main theme of ONE LAST WISH is far from being considered light, but the way
Harper goes at it makes it all feel like a breeze while never omitting the
seriousness of the topic. This important lesson of never losing oneself no
matter how cruel the world gets will make any reader of emotional novels reach
out for a tissue. Yes, even I, a cold-hearted S.O.B., got my heartstrings
pulled. In between funny bits, heartfelt moments and cringe-worthy situations
(like the one involving one of the spouses going for a kiss by a third party)
lies a novel that may own some predictable plot twists but has definitely managed
to be quite endearing in its overall delivery. I can’t wait for the author’s
FUNGOID (DarkFuse) is one of those rare books that may reach
mass appeal if you can overlook its crowded cast of characters. Everything else
is just peachy—from the non-stop action sequences to the slew of gruesome
moments, not to mention the in-your-face approach. Set in this apocalyptic world
where a mushroom trip isn’t what it used to be, this tale of survival of the
fittest during a fungi invasion is far from being mundane.
shines best when the focus is on the action sequences. Clearly the author has
that magic touch whenever trouble appears. When the spotlight is on his people,
however, that’s where the novel stumbles quite a bit. Not that they are not well-drawn.
Most of them make a good impression. The trouble is that there are just too
many for a 177 page novel, and confusion can set in after a while. For this
type of a story you need much more room to make everyone pop just right.
However, I will admit that a couple of days later
after finishing up the novel I did find myself reminiscing over some decisions
made by those same jam-packed people I’m bitching about. So I guess in
hindsight the novel worked its magic anyways. I still believe the author should
have taken a longer time to set it all up, though. Maybe he will one day when he
decides to release a longer version. In the meantime enjoy this FUNGOID—flawed and all.
to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange
for an honest review.
Gwen Davis’ SILK LADY (1986, Warner Books) isn’t your typical trashy
read. A trail of smarts follows this sexually-charged tale. It isn’t obvious at
first, but when it gets a hold of you, you either welcome it with open arms or
recoil from it like the plague. I chose the latter—at first. No way was I
getting into this. I like my trash much simpler. You know, a bit silly but with
a heart of gold. Then, forcing myself to read along, I realized that this glittering
high-society offering may be just what the doctor ordered after all. Here was something
that could be quite an experience if I let myself ride the wave. It ended up
being exactly that, and here’s why.
Jay is one unlucky lady. Used, abused (physically and emotionally), she heads
off into the right circles where money is key and sex is the price (yes, I made
that up all by myself). She hooks up with various successful men, one of whom
having close ties with the White House. When a big scandal is just around the
corner, many key players end up on the chopping block (the demise kind),
including this silk lady whose life story is entirely told in flashbacks. Prolific
Gwen Davis is indeed one smart cookie. Her insightful roman-à-clef (think Vicky
Dale, murdered mistress of department store owner Alfred Bloomingdale) takes
you into all kind of places where colorful characters are as strong as the
narrative. She is best at mixing trash with literature. SILK LADY is much more than fluff; it is a satirical piece that
dissects life, death and the S&M in all of us. Yes, the novel reeks of sex,
but underneath the scent lies a heck of a unique point of view. If you're ready
to venture out into different fictional areas, this is the novel to pick.
No doubt about it
SILK LADY is a must-read. However, I
have yet to venture deeper into Gwen Davis’ world and I sometimes wonder why. Perhaps
tackling this type of a novel requires too much concentration on my part, which
I’m unready to provide on a regular basis. I read for pleasure and if her
backlist is anything like SILK LADY witty
dialogue and socially-based commentaries await me. But if I ever do try another
one of her titles you’ll be the first to know.
Ever since I discovered
the work of Bryan Smith with DEPRAVED in 2009 I always find myself on the
lookout for his next title. I may have fallen behind on his impressive backlist
but I’m always eager to start a new novel of his. This week’s DARKENED (aka DEADWORLD) is that novel.
A rather short one (249 pages on my Kindle), it tells the tale of remaining
survivors amidst a post-apocalyptic world where the sky suddenly fills with
flying creatures, and holes in the fabric of reality bring forth creepy
devilish things with sharp teeth. There’s also a malevolent force around called
The Dark One that slips into people’s minds and abuses them or makes them abuse
As expected, sex
and violence reign in DARKENED but this
one is a little lighter on its atrocities to make room for some character development;
which isn’t to say that the author has changed his ways. He still goes
splatter-punk but adds a little more depth to his people. Moreover, the story
is related in a way that the identity of the narrator (of a journal told in the
third person) is left unknown until the very last page. Rather ingenious, I
The second half
of DARKENED where it involves The
Dark One and his mind-reading prowess is rather interesting but I got to say
that its quieter edge threw me off a little. I was expecting more gruesome crazy
moments before heading off to the climactic battle of good versus evil. Still, DARKENED is an impressive effort. It
even gives a foretaste of what would
become SLOWLY WE ROT, Bryan’s strongest novel to date which has a similar setting.
If you’re into this man’s work I can assure you’ll find it quite enjoyable
despite some unexpected turn of events midway through.
Full disclosure: I
know Nigel May—well, sort of. We’ve been cyber friends way before the man ever became
a best-selling author. But—and there’s a big but here—that scarcely omits the
fact that he’s one kick-ass writer. Of all the current authors on the market focusing
on escapist fiction I’d say he’s probably the closest thing to a Jackie Collins-type
of a read. His latest REVENGE (Bookouture) is no
different. Set mostly in the haute-cuisine society of St Tropez the novel goes
back and forth in time to highlight the many scruples of its lead characters.
From the renowned
hunky chef with a secret agenda behind the opening of his latest exclusive
restaurant, to the rival ex-girl group stars who are still at each other’s
throats despite fame and misfortune, not to mention the noted if highly severe
food critic who has more than a chip on his shoulder… All have something to hide
and will do anything to keep it that way. Add a dose of an in-the-closet lesbian
publisher who has a crush on one of her celebrated client, and a bad boy who
likes nothing better than sharing girlfriends with his chef sibling then you get
a pretty good idea what’s in store.
Even after five well-received
novels May has not lost his touch. His narrative stillcrackles with dedication, and his plot twists are as fun if not better
than before (like that shocking ending, for instance—totally unexpected). Moreover,
the man is such a finely-tuned craftsman that many characters from his previous
novels pop in to spice things up (that is, if you are attentive enough). This
is addictive reading with a capital A. You’ll either come out of REVENGE satiated or completely flushed
for having had such a wonderful time despite yourself. Either way it is a
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance
to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
it’s been a long while since I picked up a Sophie Kinsella novel, the last one
being her classic CONFESSION OF A SHOPAHOLIC in 2010. In fact, it’s the only
title of hers that I have read so far. BUT I had a ball with it, so much so
that I fail to comprehend the reason why I didn’t pursue with the series. Too
many books too little time, I guess. I still have them all lined up on my shelf
as I still plan to go through with them come hell or high water, and I mean
that. I did jump ahead, however, to review her newest MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE (Dial Press/Random House). You have to understand that when I saw that
title on NetGalley I simply couldn’t resist. The publisher graciously granted
my request and, without further ado, here’s my two cents.
MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE is in the same league as CONFESSION
OF A SHOPAHOLIC, and that certainly is a good thing. The author had drawn
another wacky but sensitive character that always manages somehow to get caught
in uncompromising positions. Her name is Katie, country girl Katie, but for her
London stay she prefers to be called Cat. Cat works in advertisement and comes
up with wonderful ideas, some that she’d like to share with her ambitious but
mean-spirited boss (sort of like Miriam Shor’s character in TV’s YOUNGER). But
being stuck making boring surveys all day definitely fails to help the
situation—until she decides to assert herself and squeeze herself into a
meeting. What comes next is a roller coaster ride for self-entitlement as our
heroine jumps from one job to another, one that clearly reminds her that home
is where the ambition is.
I could talk and
talk about the plot, like the all lies she tells online to show that she has
this fab life, or the attraction she has for this sexy fellow who turns out to
be her boss’ partner, but that would spoil the fun of reading this gem. MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE is funny,
well-written, touching and overall very endearing. Perhaps not so original per
se but at the hands of Kinsella anything is possible.She has definitely not lost her touch. I will
definitely pick up another one of her novels, and this time the gap between
titles will be that much shorter. I swear on my so perfect life—not.
I’ve been meaning
to focus on Burt Hirschfeld’s work for quite some time. But since life
sometimes takes you on a different path, one you least expect (don’t ask),
well, here we are, it’s 2017 and still no Hirschfeld blog entry. That is, until
now. The novel I chose to discuss is his 1972 CINDY ON FIRE. It’s an unofficial sequel to his mega-hit FIRE
ISLAND focusing primarily on a secondary character from the original novel.
Those hoping to rekindle with the rest of the well-drawn bunch will just have
to look elsewhere since they are scarcely mentioned in this one.
Like the first
book, CINDY ON FIRE is a lengthy
offering: a 500 plus page romp of sordid lives of the flower power era, or
should we say "life" since Cindy, the promiscuous teen from FIRE
ISLAND, who is now all grown up and still promiscuous, is the sole sufferer
this time around. And suffer she does. Used and abused in every way, not to
mention on every continent, Hirschfeld spares no expenses in degrading her in
all sorts of uncompromising situations only found in sleazy novels. And make no
mistake this is sleaze with a capital S. But great sleaze, the kind that
beckons despite your good judgement. Just as in his previous novels, the author
has more than a knack for grabbing his readers beyond the explicit sex scenes.
His strong narrative, plus his fun attempts at pseudo-analyzing his protagonist
always makes for a breezy read.
The one thing
missing, however, is the sometimes heartfelt moment needed to make Cindy a more
fleshed out character. Nevertheless, CINDY
ON FIRE is still one heck of a time waster and should be appreciated for
exactly what it is. So go on, grab a copy and follow this young woman's journey
of hardship and self-discovery. You'll definitely come back for more. That,
this reviewer promises you.
The first few pages
from Allan Laverone’s new novel COVENANT
(DarkFuse) are certainly a grabber. The whole scenario about an escapee
from a chamber of torture who desperately wants to make it out alive—in total
darkness, I might add—before the bad guy catches up with her makes for an edge-of-your-seat
moment. It definitely sets the tone for what’s to come. I wish I could say that
what follows, of a young couple purchasing their dream house that eventually
has a bad rep, is as high-speed but that would be an unfair statement. Although
the author tries really hard to keep it all flowing pretty nicely.
I think the main
problem with COVENANT is that the author
seems unable to settle on a theme. Is it a haunted house tale? Is it a criminal
investigation story? Is it a serial killer piece? The plot goes in every
direction while never reaching its intend purpose of scaring the bejesus out of
us or at least keeping us glued to the pages. By contrast, Lavernone’s narrative
is quite solid and the pace well-handled enough; and those gruesome moments,
cringe-worthy of course but also restraint in spots when the author prefers to
leave them to one’s imagination. His characterization may be a tad limited for
my taste but the central heroine is a lovable one, the kind you enjoy rooting for.
What it all comes
down is this: CONVENANT is far from
being a bad book. It may have failed to wow me as a horror novel but it
definitely has its moments. Just make sure to leave your preconceive notions at
the door if you do end up picking it up.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance
to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Of all the many
books that come my way, I got to admit that horror holds a special place in my heart. I’ve
been delving into many genres in the last couple of decades, convincing myself
and others that there’s more to life than scary reads. There is, no doubt about
it. But the truth of the matter is, there’s nothing better than the feel of
holding and getting into a paperback novel with a gruesome image on its front. There
I said it. I’m a horror geek. Whether it is print or digital, I am and will forever
be devoted to this genre (and others, don’t worry); which brings me to this
week’s review, THE NIGHTLY DISEASE
by Max Booth III, courtesy of DarkFuse.
This is my first
time reading this guy and I got to say that I was pleasantly surprise. THE NIGHTLY DISEASE is a first-person
account of an overweight undereducated fellow whose quiet time of reading,
writing, drinking or pleasuring himself on the roof of the hotel where he works
as a night auditor is suddenly disturbed by the arrival of a bulimic girl. Add the
constant demands of ungrateful guests, the discovered body of a co-worker, the
sudden appearance of a face-eating owl and you get a pretty good idea what’s really
If you had the
chance to experience and enjoy the Dell/Abyss horror line of the early to mid-‘90s
you’ll find common grounds with THE
NIGHTLY DISEASE. Not a horror piece per se—verging more on crime drama/dark
comedy/bizarro fiction—this novel works aplenty, thanks to a skillful writer
and an against the grain approach. The presence of the mean-spirited owls may
remind the fine-feathered antagonist in Charles Grant’s THE NESTLING (homage?)
but clearly this is one psychedelic ride worth taking, especially if you’re not
stuck too deep in the meat-and-potatoes of horror reading.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance
to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
I wish I could
say that Harold Robbins had a glorious career. But the truth of the matter is,
by the late ‘70s, the author had become a shadow of himself. Partying took a
toll on his writing and his work suffered. So it came as no surprise that by the
time GOODBYE JANETTE (1981) was
released my appreciation of him had started to dwindle. However I got to admit
that this novel was some sort of a turnabout for him. Gone are those
male-dominated central characters filling his pages. Just like in 1976 THE
LONELY LADY (Robbins at his sleazy best) the focus this time is on a heroine;
well, four of them since it’s a multi-generational piece. The setting: the
haute couture world—not very macho for a Robbins book. His unfavorable view of
women, however, is still an ongoing thing.
Indeed, every female
in this book is the scapegoat of his wicked pen.Including the title character who, still a
pre-teen, gets used and abused and loves it (!). The culprit is a closeted homosexual
(of course he is) who has the biggest peen (of course he does) and has
misogynistic tendencies (gasp, double gasp—not). The apparels chosen for her
(and his other conquests) could easily rival those of Christian Grey but not his
technique. He’s more the sadistic kind. Just like its author, it seems, who clearly
gets off making his readership his bitch.
that is technically omitted from GOODBYE
JANETTE is the author’s first-person POV, which is more than fine with me
since I’ve never been too keen on this trademark of his. The novel is cut into
four parts, spawning over many years and continents. When the story diverges
from smut and focuses solely on the business side of fashion GOODBYE JANETTE is a fine read. You can
even tell that Robbins has some knowledge on the subject. But these feel-good moments
are pretty scarce. Of course, everyone is one-dimensional, and though you feel
as if you should at least connect with some character, however big or small,
you don’t. Instead you just go with the flow of bad writing and silly situations
while shaking your head in dismay.
GOODBYE JANETTE was Robbins’ last hit before being stricken with a
heart attack and confined to a wheelchair. He did manage to write other novels
until he passed away in 1997.Junius
Podrog took over posthumously in the early 2000s. Though his books are
supposedly well-tailored I doubt I will get to them. My reading choices have
evolved somewhat since then. But if in doing so he has succeeded in putting
Robbins name back in lights, more power to him I say. Robbins certainly
deserves at least that.