Thursday, September 17, 2020

Pick Up A Pulp [77]: CONAN by Robert E. Howard

This collection of short stories is the perfect place to start for readers new to Conan. Not only does the book provide bite sized morals of the violent sword and sorcery the long running fantastical protagonist is renowned for, but it also introduces all the key elements outside of the core themes prominent in the larger forms of fiction; monsters, magicians, thievery, the undead, friendship, deceit, and battles a-plenty. 

I must admit that I've not read many Conan stories so my praise for this short story collection can be taken with a grain of salt. That said, this book just worked for me; be it Conan taking on a job as a thief and winding up battling a serpent or taking down a giant slug which had destroyed a  castle and its surroundings, to rescuing a damsel in distress near naked and bloodied on a battlefield, each story was rich in Hyborian lore and cleverly intertwined into the broader continuity. 

Another thing that appealed to me in these stories was the references to other adventures/places/characters, notably the Sword of Skelos which coincidentally, is the only Conan novel I've read. 

I couldn't draw myself away from these stories until I'd finished the book, enjoying each of them equally. It's rare that I rate a collection so highly but CONAN was surprisingly consistent throughout. Highly recommend. 

Book of the Month [August 2020]

I read some very good books and some very bad books last month with little in between. It was one of those strange periods of reading where I either loved or hated (perhaps that's a too harsh a word - disliked) whatever I picked up. On a positive note, I didn't record a DNF. 

The standouts were all very different from one another, which, as an eclectic reader I appreciated; THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN by A.J. Hackwith (fantasy/horror) , THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix (horror), and, my choice for this months' book of the month, STALKERS by Eileen Ormsby (true crime). 

STALKERS is a real winner for true crime junkies. Readers of this blog and my reviews on Goodreads, will know that I rated Eileen Ormsby's THE DARKEST WEB very highly so won't be all that surprised by the praise I heaped onto this one:
Dark, disturbing, and near unbelievable - Stalkers by Eileen Ormsby reads like crime fiction at its finest - only it's not. Comprising four stories of seriously creepy stalkers complete with information about each stalkers sub category for added context and insight into the mind of the maddened, author Eileen Ormsby provides a peak behind the curtain of normalcy to showcase a world so twisted it's difficult to comprehend. 
Yeah, it's a good one that's for sure.

Despite my up and down reading month, there was plenty to get excited about. Fingers crossed September's between good and bad reads isn't as big as this months.

Thursday, September 3, 2020


I don't know what it is about this book but there's just something about 90's suburban housewives kicking vampire ass while balancing family, friends and book club - and doing it all in style, that works on so many levels.

The thing that really stands out for me, is the ease of horror into the everyday life of the characters. The proverbial blood-spatter on the white picket fence doesn't feel out of place, in fact, it's like its always been there; an evil skulking behind the garbage bins at night patiently waiting for its prey, salivating for something succulent to sink its achingly hungry teeth into - and sink its teeth it does!

The plot feeds off the paranoia of one housewife in particular, Patricia, thanks largely to her genre of choice when it comes to book club; true crime. When children start to act strange, or even go missing, her knowledge of predators, gleamed from the pages of true crime books sparks her inner detective. From there it's goodbye dirty dishes and daily chores and hello conspiracy theories and monster hunting. 

While there are plenty of gory moments, The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires isn't all about that Dracula blood-drinking night life. I found it to be a character centric tale which emphasis the nature of neighbourly love, friendship, family, and the deep rooted behavioural to protect ones patch (while, you know, taking out vampires). 

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires is a perfect blend of well written mass market paperback horror (yes, there are some from the 80's and 90's which are actually worth reading (though I do love those highly collectable covers)) and a more realistic take on the themes prevalent in Desperate Housewives. I can't recommend this book enough! 
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