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
 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

‘MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE’ BY SOPHIE KINSELLA


 
Full disclosure: 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). 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.
 

 

Until next post—Martin

 
UK Hardcover

 

 

 

Monday, 6 February 2017

‘CINDY ON FIRE’ BY BURT HIRSCHFELD


 
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. 

  

Until next post—Martin

 
UK PB edition