Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review: THE TESTAMENTS by Margaret Atwood

While the book and series have provided readers/viewers with a lot of information about the fictitious closed-off society of Gilead, there is still so much to explore/exploit in this well crafted and scary dystopian setting brought to life in The Handmaids Tale.  

The shock and awe moments which made the first book so memorable aren't as prevalent here, but the characters and their dangerous plights are plentiful, more than make up for the macabre nature of its predecessor.

Aunt Lydia and two reliable narrators (well, they seem reliable) from within and outside the walls of Gilead recount the horrors, truths, lies, and perception of aunts, handmaids, pearl girls, wedlock, slavery, and all things Gilead as seen through the eyes of experience and the viewing of propaganda. The three form the testament's trinity; scholars of history analysed through symposiums conducted decades into the future. 

I enjoyed the deeper look behind Gilead's wall of hushed secretary where the heinous is no happenstance and totalitarian reins supreme. 4/5 stars.  

The audiobook is narrated by a cast which includes Ann Dowd, the actress who plays the formidable Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale TV series. All of narrators do a fantastic job at capturing the suspense and heightening the fear and overwhelming sense of urgency attached to the book, making it feel more cinematic and dramatic (if that's actually possible).   

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Pick Up A Pulp [57]: THE BLACK LACE HANGOVER by Carter Brown

Readers of this blog and of my reviews on Goodreads know I enjoy the overtly cheesy pulps of yesterday, with Carter Brown, the extra cheesy cheese on top of the heap. The Black Lace Hangover (published 1966 by Horwitz) features my favorite character created by the Aussie pulp hack, in Danny Boyd, the debonair private eye with 'the' profile. 

In this installment (each book in the series can be read independently of one another), Boyd finds himself nursing a killer hangover, only it's not just his head which feels like murder! Enter Lucia, a luscious trespasser who brings more curves to Danny's life than her extravagant body displays thanks to a murdered 'uncle' and a complex crime caper involving the mob, kidnapping, killing, and double crosses aplenty. 

These kind of books are hit or miss and in the early stages, The Black Lace Hangover seemed like it was tracking in the direction of the latter, however, I was pleasantly surprised when this seemingly shallow plot deep dived into darker depths. Boyd's investigation/part in the scheme of things evolved into something much more complex than promised by synopsis which not only kept true to the whodunit theme but also kept me second guessing who the villains were. As an added bonus (semi-spoiler alert), Boyd's' secretary, a fiery and highly competent redhead, Fran, makes an appearance in Velda*-like fashion to aide Boyd in solving the case.

Overall, The Black Lace Hangover is a pretty good pulp, loaded with all the requisite stereotypical elements and aided by an ever evolving plot which makes this one of the more 'meaty' Danny Boyd books.  

I rate this a solid 4/5 stars. 

*Velda is Mike Hammers' secretary in the long running hardboiled P.I series by Mickey Spillane and more recently, Max Allan Collins.     

Monday, December 2, 2019

Pick of the Month [November 2019]

My stack of physical reads in November

November was a great month for horror (though to be honest, pretty much every month this year has been a good month for horror for me) with Dust Devils by my favorite new-to-me horror author of 2019, Jonathan Janz (not pictured above as it was a library book which I had to return before I could take a picture of my November stack) and The Institute (not strictly a horror but near-enough) by Stephen King jointly taking out my pick of the month for November.

Of the 12 books I read or listened to, 0 were ebooks which continues the recent trend of devoting my reading time between the pages of physical books. There's been no real rhyme nor reason behind this. I just naturally gravitate towards physical books. This year in particular, I've been reading much more paperback horror and pulp than years gone by which is a likely contributing factor to the e-ink snub of recent months. 

Year to date I'm sitting at 146/150 books read for my 2019 Goodreads Challenge so baring any major events during December, it looks like another year of achieving my reading goals (number-wise that is, my Mount TBR Challenge is just terrible...). I'll write more on those challenges in a later blog post. 

Other reading highlights for November include the 80's horror, Lyrica by Thomas F. Monteloene, and the crime novella set in the Cormac Reilly universe (however Cormac doesn't feature all that much in this one), The Sisters by Dervla McTiernan which was offered recently as a free Audible Audio book to subscribers of the monthly service. 

Until next month, happy reading!
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