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review 2018-09-30 17:48
The Scarf ★★★★☆
The Scarf - Robert Bloch

Bloch’s first novel is styled as the written confession and diary excerpts of a serial killer. The misogyny is so vividly portrayed that I could only read so much at a time before needing to go scrub my brain and find something more pleasant to occupy it. The main character’s hatred, though targeted specifically at women, extends to his fellow men, himself, and society in general, and there’s just enough twisted truth in his observations to give him authenticity. It sucks you in with an amusingly cynical worldview, then pushes it several steps too far, so that the reader is along for the ride that becomes increasingly disturbing until you want out, but the doors are locked and you’re stuck there riding along with a madman filling your ears with his raving. It’s a fascinating look at 1940’s pop psychology.

 

In reading about the author and the writing of this book, I was interested to discover that Bloch was actually a protégé of Lovecraft and a member of the Lovecraft circle, and this book does have a bit of a gothic feel to it, although the horror is entirely psychological.

 

Apparently, Bloch re-released this novel in paperback, with some revisions and an all-new epilogue to end it that gives more insight into the main character. The darn book is out of print, but I’m so interested in comparing them that I ordered a copy from a used bookseller.

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Free Read. Now I feel the need to go back and re-listen to Psycho, which I remember being outstanding on audio (read by Paul Michael Garcia), and for which I apparently neglected to write a review.

 

Previous Updates:

9/22/18 – Intro 

 

9/23/18 - 40/247pg

 

9/25/18 - 83/247pg

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review 2018-02-11 14:01
The Queen Bee ★★★★☆
The Queen Bee - Edna L. Lee

The endlessly quotable writing saves this book from being a fairly standard Southern Gothic Romance. The plot and characters are full of tropes. But, oh, so much fun in the way it’s written and the way the characters are drawn! It’s told from the POV of the Ingénue, who at the time of telling the story is older, wiser, wearier, and who looks back at her naïve former self with a lot of sympathy and a little impatience. For me, though, she is still far more sympathetic than I am, as Reader, and indeed much more sympathetic toward the male characters than I have patience with – I think they all deserve a good kick in the pants. And, although this is the point of the book, I simply can’t view the Queen Bee as all-powerful, though she is deliciously wicked. In order to fall in with the narrator’s POV, the reader must be willing to adopt that tired old attitude that men are helpless victims of their libido when women weaponize sex.

 

Still, though, this is a really fun read:

It was then that my aimless, drifting eyes came to Eva. Listening, she stood near a lamp, its glow enfolding and caressing the soft hair, the sweet lifting breasts, the singing line of body. Her hand rested on the back of a nearby chair. And seeing the body not yielding now but tensely held and wary, the tilted head, the raised chin, the lambent eyes which seemed to look at something far off, I was suddenly afraid. In her tense stillness there was the deadly, wary waiting of the reptile, its poisonous fang sheathed but ready to strike, swiftly and with cunning accuracy.  

 

Vintage 1949 hardcover, inherited from my grandmother. And here’s a fun bit of trivia for Texas history buffs: it still has the original price sticker, from E.M. Scarbrough & Sons (colloquially referred to as “Scarboroughs” in the way that native Austinites pronounce their places as they damn well please), stamped “Literary Guild $2.00”. I remember shopping at the Scarbroughs in downtown Austin when I was a kid. All that’s left, alas, is the historic building.

 

Disclaimer: I’ve never seen the 1955 movie. Didn’t even know there *was* a movie adaptation until I looked for a synopsis to get a sense of what the book was about, since my copy is missing the dust jacket. But, oh, I’m definitely going to spend the money to rent it. I can’t wait to see Joan Crawford bring that predatory female to life as only she can.

 

Previous Updates:

2/7/18 page 3

 

2/7/18 Movie trailer

2/8/18 page 9

 

2/9/18 page 35

 

2/10/18 page 140

 

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review 2017-03-18 13:36
Harvest Home ★★★★☆
Harvest Home - Thomas Tryon

Some books have such compelling action that I get completely sucked in, reading to find out what’s next, what’s going to happen on that next page. This is not that kind of book. Instead, it is a slow burning, wonderfully atmospheric story that sucked me into the mysterious events and curious characters, so that I kept reading because I wanted to know more, to mine the hints and subtleties to find out *why* people were doing and saying and events and stories were not matching up. I am not a fast reader, and with baseball games having started, I’m slower than ever, which is why it’s significant that I finished a 400 page hardcover in only four days. And that’s literally all I can think of to say without spoiling the whole plot.

 

This novel is not without its problems. It is certainly dated, but I wouldn’t say that it hasn’t aged well. More that it is an excellent snapshot of the cultural issues and fascinations of early 1970’s mainstream America. Although I have never studied the history of feminism, I am willing to bet that a modern feminist scholar would find a lot to dissect here.

 

One last thought. I first read this book when I was not quite a preteen, because it was all the rage at the time and my parents never noticed when I snuck their adult fiction off the shelf after they were done with it. They never would have let me read the novel equivalent of an R rated movie. So I didn’t have the maturity or the base knowledge to understand a lot of it (no internet in the 70’s and children were much more naïve then), and I’d forgotten most of the plot, so in some ways I was coming to this book unspoiled. And I’m glad of it. This book had been left on my parents’ bookshelves for 40 years, until I found it mixed into a box of my grandmother’s books, when my mother chose to give them to me as keepsakes rather than throwing them out. I was delighted to find it, and now I’m even more delighted after having reread it as an adult.

 

Previous Updates:

Pg 50: http://sheric.booklikes.com/post/1540577/harvest-home-progress-50-401-pg

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review 2015-07-13 15:38
Hollie Adams' Things You've Inherited from Your Mother (2015)
Things You've Inherited From Your Mother - Hollie Adams

Things You've Inherited From Your Mother focusses on Carrie, but the broader use of characterization does as much to build readers' understanding of Carrie as Carrie's own narrative. Ultimately, however, it is Carrie's voice which will linger for readers, as much as for the cringes and winces as for the giggles and snorts.

 

The prose remains buoyant even when the narrator is sinking. And the novel's structure is tightly knit, so that the final words leave readers with an understanding that the simple fact that readers are holding this story in their hands demonstrates that Carrie's means of coping with her grief were effective after all.

 

(This is a spoiler-free space, but I would love to tell you exactly why the ending was so fitting. I do have much more to say, here on BuriedInPrint.)

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review 2015-05-28 14:07
Bound by Blood by Claire Ashgrove
Bound by Blood (Inherited Damnation Book 4) - Claire Ashgrove

I really loved Fintan.  Perhaps it is because of his academia side with his scrolls and knowledge of history, but he was just a really great character. Beth isa great match for him. Both were incredibly well developed with history and emotions that really ran deep. Beth is denying herself and what she really wants to follow a dream that isn't hers. But Fintan is willing to try anything to make her see what's really there and embrace it.

The ties to the Selbovae Celt past were a very nice touch and really helped give me a better understanding of the family history. Beth history is a very important part of the story and it was a bit of a surprise to see just how much it affected her. We have a nasty sibling living with Fintan that really does her best to ruin everything - and actually comes very close! They had me worried for awhile about how it was all going to work out right!

I think this couple may have been my favorite so far, and the setting was just about perfect.

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*

Source: www.bittenbyromance.com/2015/05/bound-by-blood-by-claire-ashford-review.html
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