I can’t help it, but I love having my wits scared out of me … one way or another. Whether it’s things that go bump in the night (excluding my neighbors extra-curricular activities at 1AM in the bloody morning), or being around medical institutions and deserted buildings (don’t ask). Ever since seeing Coma in the 80s with Michael Douglas and Genevieve Bujold (I had a serious crush on Bujold), I was pretty much drawn into the world of Robin Cook. So when this strange, ominous cover showed up in my stacks (feel free to look at it … pretty creepy isn’t it), needless to say, I lost all will power and gave into my urges. So here we are. Enough with the niceties and other such bollocks … and let’s get on with the bleedy review … shall we?
Lynn Pierce is an up and rising medical student completing her residency at the South Carolina’s Mason-Dixon University. She lives with a cat and an adoring boyfriend, Carl Vandermeer (a lawyer). Life seems perfect and all’s sunny in her life … until a knee injury puts Carl under the knife. Sounds simple, routine. Bloody hell, you might say, it is knee surgery for crying out loud. So it seems, but this is a Robin Cook novel where the most simple thing can take a turn for the worst faster than Kanye West’s mood changes. So yes, needless to say, everything goes horribly wrong and Carl is placed into a medical-induced coma. To make things worse, Lynn discovers the truth to a special “trip”, that she and Carl were to take in the near future, in his desk drawer at home: an engagement ring (possibly from Jared’s …hence this was really serious). Considering that her future fiancée was in great health and the fact that a simple knee surgery should not have bollocksed up to such epic proportions, Lynn decides to really investigate further. Joining her in her quest is Michael Pender, her academic, Afro-American “twin”, that is very resourceful and intelligent as he is an occasional wiseass. And yes, the “twin” thing is an inside joke by their peers, since they’ve been exclusive study partners since the beginning of their schooling at Mason-Dixon University. The intrigue is ratcheted up when the doctors decide to move Carl into a building called the Shapiro Institute: a windowless building, shrouded in secrecy and with more security that would make most national security agencies green with envy. As the duo digs further, they encounter an Scandinavian ice queen doctor, a Russian pharmaceutical billionaire, ex-Spetsnaz-turned-mafioso assassins, and a very dark, twisted side to the world of medical science (I truly hope doesn’t exist in this country). Oh bloody hell, you might say at just the mere mention of those little ditties. Yeah. Now you’re probably wondering what could be so dark and twisted? Sorry mates, but I’m not going to a do tosser move and vomit out that bit of detail. But it is enough to give you a couple sleepless nights.
Yes, Cook occasionally spits out a bit of medical jargon that would make most folks eyes glaze over or cause intra-cranial bleeding, but it is dished out in tolerable doses and spread out to accommodate most of us non-medicals out there. Lynn will, sometimes, get on your nerve as she constantly and impulsively dash off into situations where most angels fear to tread, as she drags poor Michael (who seemingly is the one with a level head amongst the two) along with her into her nerve-wracking escapades. Think of the one person, in horror movies, that always feel the need to run into every dark basement or attic … just because. There is no lack of intrigue or suspense in Host which is very reminiscent of Coma … which drives you to that OMG moment as you tumble into that dark and twisted conclusion that, for some, just might result in some sleepless nights. And if per chance you are about to have knee surgery, then be a good luv and … yeah … pass this one by.
Posted in fiction, thriller | Tagged coma, drug trials, genevieve bujold, host, kanye west, medical thriller, michael douglas, pharmaceuticals, robin cook, russian mafia, spetsnaz | Leave a Comment »
One would think that a self-professed Stephen King fan, such as yours truly, would have devoured this book ages ago. Sadly, it took me a while to come to my bloody senses and (finally!!!) read this book. Well, in actuality, it was the prodding of several patrons (who are also King fans … and apparently better at it) and the fact that Hulu decided to make it into a mini-series. And since I don’t have a Hulu subscription … well, you know.
The best part was the moment I picked it up, I realized that it was going to be very hard to put down.
Jake Epping is an English teacher that lives in Maine. During the day he teaches regular school and on some evenings teaches GED classes. One of Jake’s little pleasure is stopping by Al’s Diner for a burger and shakes that are sold at ridiculously low prices and the meat is rumoured to be derived from stray cats. Hold your horses, even King would not be that sick (um … I think). Then one day, out of the blue, Jake Epping is approached by Al Templeton and is told the most bizarre tale: there is a portal that leads into 1960s and it is located in the diner’s pantry. I know. Considering the tales and rumours surrounding Al’s “cheap” burgers, it would be enough to start a red flag parade in one’s mind. Except for one thing: Al had aged, progressively, within a very short period of time and was dying from cancer. Giving into curiosity, Jake takes the plunge (literally) down the rabbit hole and finds the portal that leads back into the 1960s … where burger meat was less than a quid per pound. But as intriguing as it is to go back in time, the portal comes with its own set of rules. For one, you can spend many years in the 60s which may only turn out to be a few hours in the present. Secondly, any alterations you make in history can be reset if you re-enter the portal (e.g. let’s say you go into the past to and shoot Jim Jones, you’ll emerge to find that Jonestown never happened and my birthplace doesn’t have a historic black eye that is related to Kool Aid – but then you forgot to buy those Apple penny stocks by the truckloads and so you go back in – and voila, my country of birth gets to contribute to the saying “drinking the Kool Aid” … sure, you’re filthy rich while the only way I can stop people from confusing my birthplace with an African country is to mention “Jonestown” … I have seriously detoured … parenthetically speaking). Well you get the point. So as Al faces his last days on earth, he wonders what life would have been like, in America, if JFK wasn’t assassinated. Jake, at the same time, is haunted by a GED essay that was written by Harry Dunning (a janitor) that spoke of the time his father murdered his family with a sledgehammer and almost killed him (Harry). So Al convinces Jake to go back in to the portal to try and twart the death of JFK. It is apparent that Al has spent a lot of years in the portal as he gives Jake “notes on Oswald and sporting events and their outcomes (that he can bet on to make some serious money). Soon Jake is on a strange odyssey that takes him from Maine to Florida and eventually to Texas, as he encounters murderous bookies, vicious rednecks, doctor-endorsed Lucky Strikes cigarette commercials, artery clogging diner food, a wife-beating loser named Oswald, and a gorgeous Sadie Dunhill who becomes his love interest and indulges in copious amounts of the good old in-out in-out.
Over 1,000 plus pages, King spins a really intriguing yarn that sinks it claws into you and reels you in and it is time travel like you’ve never read it before. No fancy gizmos, or some old dude chomping on cigars screaming at some computer named Izzy (yeah, I just threw in a Quantum Leap reference), or girls in latex outfits speaking in British accents. Just a strange portal lurking in some bloke’s diner pantry. There is intrigue and suspense as Jake starts getting to close to Oswald and into other situations that should have really stayed clear off. And then there is Sadie, with her own secrets, sort of like Julia Roberts in Sleeping With the Enemy, except this husband isn’t beguiling (or possibly handsome) as Patrick Bergin and he’s got some serious issues (something about sleeping in bed with a broom … yeahhh). Now you’re probably wondering if he succeeded in saving JFK’s life and what was the world like. Yeah. I try not to be a bloody tosser and ruin stuff for folks, so I’m afraid that much you’ll have to read that much on your own … but, oh the trip you WILL have on the way there. Once again, premium King that doesn’t disappoint and being the sicko that he is, he has actually enclosed a ton of 1960s-type diner recipes at the end of the book in all of their artery-clogging glory. Demon. I will try a few. Maybe a couple times.
Posted in fiction, science fiction | Tagged 11/22/63, book review, hulu, jfk, jim jones, jonestown, julia roberts, mini-series, patrick bergin, quantum leap, stephen king | 1 Comment »
I across this book in my stacks and was immediately drawn to it. Did it whisper to me as so many other books seem to do, you might ask? Yes, and I don’t think I’ll ever need electro-shock therapy. I just might need to get out more. Possibly, date. Maybe.
Set in 1880 St. Louis, we are introduced to Jacob Tracy: a seminary school drop-out, and a veteran of the Civil War that has recovered from his war wounds and vicious morphine dependency. Ah yes, Mr. Tracy has the uncanny ability to see … and speak to ghosts. Along with his partner, a former slave named John “Boz” Bosley, they encounter the strange and enigmatic Sabine Fairweather who hires them for a job: to find a certain rosewood jewelry box that belongs to her. But in the Weird West there is no such thing as straight forward mission and some things are more than they seem. Soon Jacob and Boz are plunged in a world of ghosts, demons, werewolves and vampires as they do jobs for the enigmatic Fairweather. Aside from being their employer, Ms. Fairweather seems to have knowledge and abilities of a supernatural nature. It is what keeps Jacob drawn to Ms. Fairweather, since it seems that she might hold the clues to his true abilities. In every battle that Boz and Jacob encounter, there is one name that often surfaces: Josef Mereck.
Mereck runs a circus that employs people of various supernatural capabilities and even though, on the surface they are probably used to entertain, in the big scheme of things they are being used as supernatural weapons in the most terrifying ways.
Messinger in her debut novel has a good handle of the Weird West, from the lingo to the characters. It the Wild, Wild West in the most terrifying of ways and every page turned sucks you in as Tracy and Boz’s battles grow more intense and frightening towards the final meeting of Mereck.
Posted in horror, steampunk, supernatural | Tagged book review, civil war, curse of jacob tracy, ghosts, steampunk, vampires, weird west, werewolves | Leave a Comment »
I’ve always looked at reading young adult books in public the same way I would walking into a Hello Kitty shop filled with middle-school teenage girls: with some apprehension and the feeling that I am violating some law. But since I am put in charge of the reading advisory for young adult at my station, I have no choice but to swallow all my apprehensions and unnerved feelings … and simply read some young adult books. Work, work, work. And so when The Diviners whispered to me sweet-nothings from the corner of a YA shelf, I knew I had found my book. It also occurred to me that when books started whispering sweet-nothings to me, that there is a critical need for me to go out more. And so we begin.
Set in the 1920, Bray introduces us to a delightful protagonist named Evie O’Neill. Yes, the good old 1920s: Prohibition, Clara Bowe, the jitterbug, speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, two-cent newspapers, and back-alley abortions. It starts with Evie, gathered with her friends at her home, in sleepy Ohio, playing with a Ouija board (and after countless horror films with this premise, it is needless to say that this a bad start) and ends up contacting an ominous entity named Naughty John. Yes, this all happens in the first chapter, but it is so delightfully sinister that it is all you need to suck you in. And it gets better.
What makes Evie O’Neill quite appealing is her charm, her intelligence, her brashness, her boldness and her bluntness. And on top of that, she’s got a mouth that writes more checks than her mind and body can cash. It is that mouth of her that gets her shipped off to New York to spend some time with her Uncle Will. Uncle Will runs the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (also famously known as the Museum of the Creepy Crawlies). Think Louis Vendredi from Friday the Thirteenth minus the part about making deals with the Devil and other such bollocks. Aside from the items displayed in the museum, the only thing that is more hair-raising in Evie’s encounters is the cross-section strange personalities she meets in New York City (not much has changed): Jericho (Uncle Will’s tall, handsome, and mysterious assistant), Memphis (a Harlem numbers runner, who has the ability to heal with his hands), Isaiah (the younger brother of Memphis, that goes into trances), Theta Knight (a Ziegfeld girl with a secret pass), and Sam Lloyd (a smooth-talking pickpocket with the uncanny ability to render himself invisible). And the list goes on, but I can’t have all the fun now, can I? Aye, that would make me a bloody tosser and less enjoyable read for you.
There are gruesome ritualistic murders that start occur in New York City as Naughty John materializes into the world … and Evie’s mind. Needless to say, Evie is a bit special. And as a dark mysterious force threatens the world with a frightening apocalypse on the night of a comet’s passing, these collection of characters race against time, and a white supremacy cult (from upstate New York) to defeat Naughty John and his plans. Spine-tingling terror and roller-coaster suspense, keeps you riveted and eager to turn every page, as you defy the need to eat, sleep, and take care of pesky bodily functions. And there are hints that the world (and Ms. Bray) is not quite done with Ms. Evie O’ Neill. Needless to say, I can’t wait. And YA has come a long from Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and the Twilght Saga (yes, I’m afraid I did go there).
Posted in horror, young adult | Tagged clara bowe, diviners, horror, libba bray, prohibition, twilight saga, young adult | 1 Comment »
It is February, the month of romance. The coldest and shortest month of the year. The most dreaded month (by many singles) in the year. A chance for many corporations to make a killing as they pedal romance in the form of card and chocolates and jewelry to the chagrin of long-suffering single folks out there. But nothing says “in your face corporate romance” like being single, and chowing down chocolate nougats as you watch The Crow with Brandon Lee (or so I’ve been told) on Valentine’s Day. Dear, oh dear. It seems that I’ve detoured a wee bit … and I haven’t even started the blooming review as yet. Very well, on with it. Shall we?
So as we welcome Cupid and his bleedy misguided arrows, the Evil Parrot decided to do the unthinkable. Yes, it was something I claimed I would never ever, ever attempt … to read erotica. Gasp. Yes, the Evil Parrot decided to take one for the team, well for some decent reasons: a way to finally use the erotica category on my blog; it was written by Anne Rice, need I say more; and had to satisfy my curiosity as to why it appeals so much to the ladies (naughty, naughty, naughty … very naughty …tsk, tsk). I guess next I’ll be singing It’s Raining Men at our next after-work karaoke meet. Like bloody hell on that one.
Back in the early 80s, a time when there was no Web, Twitter, Facebook, Kardashians, and music that were eclectic though very listenable and delightful, Anne Rice (under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure) had written a trilogy based on the Sleeping Beauty … with a slight BDSM twist. Let’s just say it made 50 Shades seemed like Sunday school required reading (though I would worry about such a “Sunday” school). Needless to say, I’ve read bits and pieces of this trilogy, and at the time I had yet the courage to completely read much less borrow such a book from the library. What can I say, I was a teen during the 80s, might have been a bit randy … and faced the possibility of embarrassing myself by standing/walking and looking like Robert Plant as he did “Piece of my love” back in the days, after daring to read those books from cover to cover. And yes, my wonderful memory has a tendency to loop things, many times at inappropriate moments. Not much has changed. Too much information? Aye, I think so too, probably destroyed more potential dates.
Beauty’s Kingdom continues from where the trilogy left off. Enter the kingdom of Bellavalten. A kingdom that thrives on what is called pleasure servitude. And yes, feel free to read as much as possible into that phrase, and you’ll probably be right. Imagine a world where carriages are drawn “ponies”: naked, toned human males or females bound with reins, bits and yes, saddles. Gardens filled with “slaves” willfully submitting to all desires. Where punishment is pleasure, and sometimes pleasure can be its own punishment. When the current queen, Queen Eleanor, is lost at sea, there is worry about what will happen with the kingdom of Bellavalten and its …ahem …way of life. Queen Beauty is sought, along with her king, Laurent, and brought to Bellavalten. Upon hearing about the arrival of Beauty to Bellavalten, many lords and ladies arrive from other lands to willingly enter into the wonderful world of pleasure servitude and most of the book is devoted to this titillating, tantalizing process that is written ever so sensually yet yielding the potential of literary weapons-grade Viagra. Along the way there is mention of the mysterious Prince Lexius, whom upon appearance near the end of the book basically turned the erotic world upside down (and might force a few blokes to question their sexuality … be warned, chaps). Anne Rice’s writing of all things sensual and erotic is very natural and doesn’t seem forced. Like many of writings about preternatural beings there is a subtle sensuality and an erotic undercurrent that does not go unnoticed. Her descriptions of feasts, and celebrations, are so vibrant that you long to be in this strange world taking part of the festivities, spankings and all (um .. or so some might think). In her writing of Beauty, the leash (pun possibly intended) is off where there is no subtlety and undercurrents and like all her books, aside from the whips, paddles, slap, tickles, and what’s not, the characters pull you in and for some reason you keep reading. Despite the fact you get weird stares by folks that read over your shoulder on the public transit. Or your sexuality questioned at some points. And the occasional winks from certain scary women. Note to self: if I must read erotica … again …(which may be never … again) … go e-reader.
Posted in erotica | Tagged anne rice, bdsm, beauty's kingdom, bellavalten, erotica, kardashians, valentine's day | Leave a Comment »
As we plow headlong into 2016, I couldn’t help noticing the latest King book (finally!!!) sitting in my stacks and eventually … in my hands. Unlike many of his novels, this was an actual collection of stories: some scary, some downright disturbing, and a few that were pretty much WTF. Throughout the book, King would offer a “behind the scene” moment at the beginning of each story which was rather interesting. For some it was an eye opener, whilst others were basically fill in the blanks. The one common ground with all those behind the scene moments was that it gave the reader some insight to his genius/madness and I suspect it was but a mere peek through the curtains.
Best of all, Bazaar seemed geared toward engaging more than a few emotions, rather than the usual ones solicited by fear and suspense. The stories are a strange myriad: a stalled car, on a highway, that is a Venus fly trap for unwary humans; a sand dune on a small island that, mysteriously spells out the names of those that will soon die; an indecent proposal to a struggling couple of the twisted variety (and no, it is not quite like that Robert Redford/Demi Moore slap and tickle bit); a pink Kindle that predicts the future; a rich burn victim who realizes that pain is something that might be literally (lurking) in his head and elsewhere in his body; a news writer whose fake obituaries create real deaths and even more dire tragedies; the strange world of two families who have the strangest July Fourth fireworks competition. And there are more. Confused? Befuddled? Scared shitless? Tickled pink (are you kidding … uh, no)? Yes, all these emotions and thought processes will be addressed in reading Bazaar. In some parts, it might bollocks up your view of the world, scare you senseless, appreciate baseball (aye, you’re reading correctly), or even question how much acid did King drop back in the days. Premium King, as usual, with a story for (dare I say) everyone to curl up to on a warm El Niño winter night.
Posted in horror | Tagged bazaar of bad dreams, book reviews, demi moore, horror, robert redford, stephen king | Leave a Comment »
I know, I know. It is that time of the year where we all get touchy and as the eggnog flows, most people want to curl up to something warm and fuzzy. The last thing you want to read about is about Swedish psychopaths. Alas, I missed that memo. Sorry chaps.
About a year ago (or so), I had reviewed Söderberg’s debut, The Andalucian Friend, and we were introduced to Sophie Brinkmann, the nurse, and her son, Albert. In Friend, one of Sophie’s patient was a drug kingpin named Hector Guzman who, seemingly, took a liking to her. Unfortunately, the moment Sophie started falling for his charms, that was the moment her world exploded as her path collided with a delightful (and frightening) array of characters that pretty much blurred the lines between good and evil. Actually, they practically erased the bloody line. Seemingly vicious gangsters that actually had somewhat of a moral compass and law enforcement officials that were morally void sociopaths that would render most demons speechless. All those roads (littered with corpses and drenched in blood) seem to lead to Sophie. Needless to say, not in a pleasant way. In the end of Friend, we find Hector Guzman in a coma and Sophie being offered a choice she can’t possibly refuse: take control of Hector’s affairs or face the possibility of being dirtnapped. Hmm, decisions … decisions.
Other Son opens, six months later, and we find Sophie managing the slowly crumbling Hector Guzman empire whilst being guided throught the proverbial shark-infested waters of the drug trade by Hector’s loyal and lethally efficient right-hand, Aron Geisller. Living her life constantly peering over her shoulder and bogged down by Aron’s security protocols, Sophie finds herself being pushed further and further to the edge of the abyss. To add to her troubles, Ralph Hanke (Hector’s rival) has become quite bold and vicious in his attacks as he sanctions the kidnapping of a Lothar Tiedmann, Hector’s illegitimate son. Sophie soon finds herself being tested by various cutthroat factions and being pushed into making decisions that raises Aron’s eyebrows … and that is not a good thing. Now I know what you’re thinking … it can’t get any crazier than this. And I have to say to you that you really don’t know Scandanavian crime novels. Enter Tommy Jansson (corrupt cop extraordinare), Antonia Miller (an actual decent cop with really good wits), Ove Negerson (a half-black, half-Swedish psychopath), and Miles Ingmarsson (a surveillance expert that seems to spends most of his time in strip clubs), Koen (a heroin addicted hitman) and the loveable bear of a Russian mafioso, Mikhail, returns. Aye, to say that the shit is about to hit the fan is, laughably, the biggest uderstatment of the century. There are more twists and turns than disorganized origami and intrigue is so thick that you can almost gag on it. The body count climbs (caution: try not to get attached to characters) and the blood spatters like something in Dexter’s wet dream. The race to the jaw-dropping (yet abrupt) conclusion will keep you riveted, fired up and jonesing for the next sequel by Söderberg.
Posted in crime | Tagged alexander soderberg, book review, cartels, crime, dexter, drugs, fiction, russian mafioso, sophie brinkmann | Leave a Comment »