Thursday, 21 September 2017

‘PAPERBACKS FROM HELL’ BY GRADY HENDRIX




I knew if I ventured into Grady Hendrix’s PAPERBACKS FROM HELL (2017, Quirk Books) two things would eventually happen: I would end up loving it to pieces, and then, once the list made up, I would try to get a hold of as many of the schlocky novels discussed in this nonfiction event of the season. I swear, if you’re over 40 and yearn to reconnect with much loved titles from yesteryear or are simply a vintage horror paperback collector you need to get this book ASAP. You’ll definitely thank me later. 

The premise is rather ingenious. The author has gathered tons of scarcely known paperback covers for your eyes to linger on before, during and after the horror boom of the early ‘80s. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific era with images of the novels in question and plot summaries, author profiles and publishers info. Grady Hendrix is indeed an encyclopedia of knowledge as he examines with a fine-tooth comb every little known gems in existence including the ones that were popular at the time but now seem to have been completely forgotten, like Ken Eulo’s THE BROWNSTONES trilogy or the erotic paperbacks of Russ Martin. Every page is a delightful homage to sub-themes (demonic possession, ghostly intrusion, homicidal crabs or vegetation…) that ultimately become a feast to the eyes and mind. 

Moreover, PAPERBACKS FROM HELL is complete with an Afterword by none other than Mr. Knowledge himself, Will Errickson. Those of you who have been following his amazing blog Too Much Horror Fiction will recognized many titles that he’s come to love or shun over the years. Like his dedicated entries he gives you a clear line as to what is really worth your time, because, truth be told, some of those featured titles are far from being compelling. One thing’s for sure, however, all have their devoted fans—not to mention fetching covers, mostly created by unsung artists who are graciously spotlighted by Hendrix. So impressed am I with the overall result of PAPERBACKS FROM HELL that I will move on from owning a digital ARC (thanks to the publishers and NetGalley) to purchasing a paperback copy just so I can truly savor the merits of this wonderful coffee table of a book.

  



Until next post—Martin







Wednesday, 13 September 2017

‘LOVERS AND LIARS’ BY BRENDA JOYCE




I’ve never been keen on historical romance. Call me a party pooper but I find it a total bore. I much rather concentrate on the problems of the rich in the present-day which, by the way, can certainly be written by authors who write in different subgenres. I have no problem with that. LOVERS AND LIARS (1989, Dell) is that kind of a novel. When I picked it up at a used book store back in the day, I had no idea that Brenda Joyce was more known for her historical efforts. Had I had a clue I probably would have skipped it (I tend to collect the entire work of authors), but since I was on the lookout for anything Hollywood-related I sure as heck found myself interested. I immediately started it, connecting as if it was a Jackie Collins novel. In fact, it did look, read and even smell like a Jackie Collins novel and again, I had—and still have—no problem with that as long as the tale is as juicy—and it eventually is.   

LOVERS AND LIARS takes us into the privileged lifestyles of the rich and rotten where a beautiful and independent heroine ends up having the hots for a bad boy turned actor with a past. True to form, the path to hooking up is one bumpy ride, but Joyce's account towards this destination is indeed a glossy, sexually-charged roman à clef that lifts from the first page and delivers. She evidently has fun with her subjects. (SPOILER AHEAD) Their hot and cold attitude for one another satisfyingly builds up to a grand sparks-fly union destined to become happily ever after. The author's world of caviar and champagne may not always be that original but the passion and dedication with which she writes about it make for a fun and exciting time-waster.  

I wonder why Joyce never followed on her Collins-ish attributes. She sure had the stamina for it. I guess she must have preferred to stay in her own turf where she certainly did go on to become one of the most highly-sought historical romance writers of the 21st century. How fun it is, however, to have been shown a different side of this talented lady who could have flourished just as well in contemporary settings if given more than half a chance.

 

You can still catch LOVERS AND LIARS wherever digital books are sold.

Until next post—Martin




Friday, 8 September 2017

‘THE POOL HOUSE’ BY TASMINA PERRY


 
Finally I can shout it out from the rooftop. BUY THIS BOOK NOW. I have been withholding my enthusiasm for nearly two months, whispering to anyone who would listen to read this gem ASAP.  Since I always try to respect my engagement with NetGalley and the publishers who graciously handed me a copy to review, I eagerly waited on pub day to finally spill the beans on this knockout of a novel. So here we go.  
 
Of all the current authors topping the bestselling charts I would say Tasmina Perry is one of the best. Her novels always manage to grip me no matter what, and THE POOL HOUSE (Headline) is certainly no different. The plot, well, to keep it as minimum as possible just so you can find out for your very self, involves a dead woman, a curious female protagonist, a beach house in The Hamptons and secrets from the past that will make you turn the pages as quick as the undeniable sense you get of inhabiting a world out of anyone’s reach. Because let’s face it, Tasmina Perry’s world is mostly all glitz and glamour and only the privileged ones get to experience it. Not that anyone actually would want to after reading this novel. 
 
Opulence aside, THE POOL HOUSE is a well-crafted fast moving whodunit filled with enough twists and turns, interesting characters and shocking revelations for one to eagerly yearn for another Tasmina Perry novel in the near future. And that’s always a good sign, especially coming from been there seen that readers like yours truly here.  


 

Until next post—Martin
 
Hachette Australia Cover

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

‘NIGHT GAMES’ BY CHARLES RIGDON


It always thrills me when I happen to discover a hard to find paperback novel for nickels and dimes. I think I bought this one for less than a buck a few years back. I was barely aware that it was a rare find but I sure liked the book premise: the swinging sixties and the rise and fall (mostly fall) of a privileged but doomed heroine. I’m sure NIGHT GAMES (1969, Award Books) wouldn’t have existed had it not been for the mega-success of Jacqueline Susann’s VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. More power to both titles I say, for I could spend the rest of my life reading this trash, and I say this with all the love in my heart. Call me masochist but there’s nothing better than a sizzling tale of an unhappy wealthy bunch to cure any gloomy day.  
Take the heroine of NIGHT GAMES, for example. She could easily have been little moi, if little moi was still 40 years old and a former screen goddess looking for love in all the wrong places. Since I’ve been happily hooked for 22 years, two of which being married, all I can say instead is, boy, does it bring me back. Clubs, booze, dope, fucked up rich—or not that rich—friends; those were the days of my so-called life and they are all showcased again in this 156 page effort which gravitates around lost as a lamb Dana as she shakes her curvy bonbon in New-York and in the French Riviera in the hopes of finding happiness. A futile attempt of course since everybody knows that happiness comes from within (and a lot of therapy, trust me). If author Charles Rigdon is aware of that he sure as heck disregards it in NIGHT GAMES, for when it comes to the goings-on of his heroine the girl is a complete mess, which can sure make a fascinating read in the process but oh what a sad and pathetic ride this is.  
And that’s where the book might irk a little, its tendency to stray away from rose-colored situations. Indeed, NIGHT GAMES is far from being lightweight. The characters involved are all desperate people holding on to their desperate lives. Glammed-up and in control they very well may be but each and every one of them is hanging on by a thread. And that’s what makes this novel such a page-turner, to see them all tumble one way or the other. But most importantly despite its sexually-charged context NIGHT GAMES is mainly a character study of one lost soul who may never find her rainbow after all, and I’m the first to admit that that sucks, for everyone deserves a piece of the happy pie, even characters in a novel such as this one. 
If you ever cross this title I urge you to give it a chance. If you can find it at a decent price, that is. Last time I checked, it was going at its cheapest for $30. Charles Rigdon wrote a few other scandalous novels (which I still have yet to get into) before disappearing from the public eye in the mid-‘80s. I have no idea of his whereabouts, but if he’s still around I sure would like to shake his hand for having delivered one heck of a read with NIGHT GAMES.
Until next post—Martin