Tuesday, 23 May 2017

‘ACCORDING TO A SOURCE’ BY ABBY STERN


 
Life in the rag business sure is stressful for Ella when her new boss threatens to make cuts if she does not bring home the gossip. That, plus the break-up of her boyfriend, not to mention her mother’s cancer diagnosis, makes burning the candle at both ends impossible, or is it? Of course what goes on in ACCORDING TO A SOURCE (St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books) is more than what’s already been mentioned but contrary to many reviewers who divulge most of the plot, I’ll let you savour it at your own pace.    

What I will reveal, however, is how good a time I had with ACCORDING TO A SOURCE. I’ll admit, I’m always a little bit wary when it comes to first time novelists but I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. The main heroine is a lovable little go-getter who yearns to make it big amidst all of her personal problems. How she does so pushes her in all sorts of sticky situations that ultimately get resolved but not without putting a smile on your face. Moreover, her relationship with her sibling rivalry of a sister and their cancer-stricken mom adds more depth to what is first considered a light character.   

Former gossip columnist Stern handles herself quite nicely in mixing high-jinks with tender moments. Plus, she serves up the romance aplenty between the heroine and the hottie agent who seems too good to be true. Told in the first person, with a roman-à-clef attitude (her whole blind item gimmick of nicknaming real celebrities is always a thrill to guess) ACCORDING TO A SOURCE is fun, well-written, and should please gossipmongers everywhere.

 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

 
 

Until next post—Martin
 


 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

‘PERSONAL EFFECTS’ BY REX REED


 
Confession time: I used to have a crush on film critic Rex Reed.  There I said it. It was around the time he was hanging out with superstar Jacqueline Susann, and you know how I feel about her.  I was still very young then but I remember seeing pics of them and I couldn’t help finding him attractive. This was around the early ‘70s, I believe. You could say he was one of the very first people outside my periphery that spoke to me as a future gay man. And growing up I kept up-to-date with his busy career, from his gig on MYRA BECKENRIDGE (another Sleaze Factor contender) to his stint as a movie reviewer on TV, finally to his quick dab in commercial fiction.  

Since he’s always been a devoted fan of glitzy page-turners (just check out his ton of blurbs left on covers) it was only natural that he would end up penning one of his own. PERSONAL EFFECTS (1987, Charter) is its name and it is the riveting tale of four fans who befriend a legendary movie star with a past. When one of them is involved in her cold-blooded murder, it’s up to a Hollywood columnist and narrator to this story to solve the case. Throughout many torrid flashbacks and bitchy goings-on, Reed delivers an eye-popping tale of old Hollywood that could rival any one of Susann’s books. There's never a dull moment. From love to jealously to, of course, murder, the author's uncanny flair for creating addictive escapism shines through and through.  

Ok I admit, perhaps I’m a little bit too soft on this title. It has been a while since I even glanced at that cover. But what I remember most about PERSONAL EFFECTS is how much fun I had with it. The author’s colorful characters plus his clever way of building up an explosive climax sure made and probably still makes PERSONAL EFFECTS a one sitting read. Another Rex Reed novel is way past due, in my opinion.
 
 
This title has yet to go digital.  Check out any used book store for a copy.
 

  

Until next post—Martin


1986 Arbor House Hardcover

 

 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

THE FACTS OF LIFE (1979-1988)


 
 

How can I go on without discussing one of the guiltiest pleasures to ever have graced our TV screen: THE FACTS OF LIFE. I grew up watching this show, having discovered it one autumn day in 1979. I had been following DIFFEREN’T STROKES on NBC and read somewhere that there was going to be a spinoff focusing on Kimberley’s private school pals and it would star Mrs. Garrett’s Charlotte Rae. I was already a fan of the late Dana Plato and was fervently hoping that she was going to be part of the show too. She wasn’t, but it was OK, for I bonded quite easily with the new girls, starting with Lisa Whelchel’s Blair Warner.
 

That first episode where she confronts Cindy about her possible lesbian tendencies showed a Blair Warner that could be bitchy as well as beautiful. A sort of pre-DYNASTY Alexis, if you will and I liked that. Oh I may not have been out of the closet, but I already new how to spot them, believe me. But before Blair could get too mean, in came Mrs. Garrett with all that warning and good advice.  And thank Heaven for that, for it made Blair all the more likeable.  
 

One that never needed too much of a sermon was Felice Schachter’s Nancy.  How perfect was she, and so pretty, the perfect girl next door type. And I liked that. So much so that I decided to write her a fan letter which she acknowledged by sending me an autograph pic that I still own today. Yes, color me groupie but I don’t care. Then I graduated from Nancy to Mindy Cohn’s Natalie.  Not too much on that first season, mind you. She was a bit lost with all those girls. But the minute she became center stage in season two when the producers cut most of the cast and brought in Jo, she became my favorite. She was funny, smart, sensitive and approachable. She clearly represented the one I could hang out with had she been a real person. And yes, I did write to the actress—twice, and both times she responded. And like Schachter’s, I still have her pics with me, thank-you-very-much.
 

I stuck with the show all the way through, even when it jumped shark in season seven as Edna’s Edible became this awful bric-a-brac gift shop. But by then, I didn’t care. They were part of my TV family. When the series ended after nine years, I was scarcely surprised. The show had run its course. But I got to admit that I kind of miss it today. Comedy on TV isn’t what it used to be. Except for MODERN FAMILY, I find them all pedestrians and unfunny. Sort of like THE FACTS OF LIFE TV movie back in 2001 (now, that one was nasty). I hope the girls still appreciate the fan base, for they will all go to their graves with the “former FACTS OF LIFE star” tag attached to their names, which considering isn’t bad at all.

 

 

 

Until next post—Martin

 


 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

‘THE ROME AFFAIR’ BY KAREN SWAN


 
If I could quit my day job and spend the rest of my life reading and reviewing I would die a very happy man. So many titles are coming my way that I always wonder how I’m ever going to keep up but I always do—somehow finding the time and energy. This week’s author is no stranger to Sleaze Factor, having been discussed in past entries. Her work has always managed to put a smile on my face as her latest does. THE ROME AFFAIR (PGC Books/Macmillan) is what it’s called and I’m going to review it for you guys, the publishers and NetGalley.   
 
After being released from her job as a tour guide in Rome, former trained barrister and now blogger extraordinaire Francesca Hackett accepts to collaborate on the memoirs of her next door neighbor who happens to be a famed socialite. What starts out as an easy gig soon turns out to be more than she’s bargained for as she uncovers secrets from a past that could easily alternate the present. That’s about all I can say of this scintillating gem. As a rule I just prefer not to give away too much. 

To say that I had fun with this one would be an understatement. The truth of the matter is I had a blast. I devoured the whole thing in about two days. Ms. Swann delivers a riveting tale of secrets and sins in which her well-defined characters go at it with sheer efficiency, and her use of a split-narrative makes for an even bigger treat. I was highly rooting for the main heroine to find her way as I was as much involved with the socialite/princess’ past life, which BTW, is far from being mundane. In fact, I was so intrigued by it that nothing else came to matter. If you’re already a Karen Swan’s devotee you’ll definitely be caught up in the swirl of this character’s charade. If you’re still a newbie then grabbing this fine piece of commercial fiction will make you turn the pages just as fast.

 

THE ROME AFFAIR is now available in Canadian stores. The digital or print edition will be available everywhere else on June 13th.

 
 

Until next post—Martin

 

Monday, 24 April 2017

‘THE IDEA OF YOU’ BY AMANDA PROWSE


 
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 are sold.

 
 

Until next post—Martin
 
 

 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

‘THE BEST OF TIMES’ BY PENNY VINCENZI




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. 

Indeed, THE 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.
 

 

Until next post—Martin

US edition
 

 

Sunday, 9 April 2017

‘SOMETHING VIOLENT’ BY KRISTOPHER RUFTY


 
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 first. 

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.

  

Until next post—Martin

 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

‘THE MASTER STROKE’ BY ELIZABETH GAGE


 

Why not focus yet again on an Elizabeth Gage novel, sweet readers, like her third outing THE MASTER STROKE (Pocket, 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. 

 

Until next post—Martin
UK edition

 

 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

‘THE DEVIL CREPT IN’ BY ANIA AHLBORN

 


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.


 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.




 

Until next post—Martin

 

 

 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

‘BAD GIRLS’ BY REBECCA CHANCE


 
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.
 
 

Until next post—Martin
 
 

 

 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

‘THE SILENT FOUNTAIN’ BY VICTORIA FOX





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 THE SILENT 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 in time. 

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. 
 
 
 
Until next post—Martin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

‘ONE LAST WISH’ BY ELLA HARPER


 
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 parent's 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 next offering.

  
 

Until next post—Martin

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 13 March 2017

‘FUNGOID’ BY WILLIAM MEIKLE






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.  
 

Indeed, FUNGOID 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.



Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  

Until next post—Martin 

 
 

 

Friday, 24 February 2017

‘SILK LADY’ BY GWEN DAVIS

 

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.   
 
Protagonist Miranda 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.

  

Until next post—Martin

Digital Edition
 

 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

‘DARKENED’ BY BRYAN SMITH


 
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 each other.  

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 must say. 

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. 

 

Until next post—Martin

 

 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

‘REVENGE’ BY NIGEL MAY


 

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 still crackles 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 win-win situation.
 

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
 
 
 
Until next post—Martin