Posted in Book Reviews

Ghostly Cephalopods, Ghastly Castrations, and Graffiti Cocks

I’m a tad behind with my thoughtful and intelligent book reviews. By a tad behind, I mean I’ve read 72 books this year and reviewed about three of them. I’m nothing if not an epic procrastinator.

By the way, have you added my book on Goodreads and preordered it from the book retailer of your choice, including B&N/Nook or Amazon? If not, why not? Is it because you don’t want to and you will spend your money on whatever you damn well please? Well, that’s fair enough. Don’t let yourself be bullied.

First up in this month’s deeply analytical reviews is:

The Haunting of Toby JuggDennis Wheatley3/5 it’s a fucking octopus on dry land, what are you scared of?

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Don’t ask me what that book cover is about.  I have exactly zero answers and I’m more scared than you because I’m halfway through the book and I have no idea who the lady with the freaky breasts is.

What I’m not scared of, however, is what Toby is is being “haunted” by – the shadow of an octopus outside his bedroom window that sometimes appears at night.

It’s an octopus. You don’t live in the ocean. It is outside a locked window. Calm down, Tobes.

Except it isn’t an octopus. It has six legs with no tentacles, it has hair or fur, and IT WANDERS ABOUT ON FUCKING DRY LAND, TOBY. IT’S NOT A FUCKING OCTOPUS, IS IT, TOBY?

I can see you judging me and feeling sorry for little Toby, huddled in his bed terrified by a Thing and wishing for Mummy and Daddy. Well, no. Toby is TWENTY-YEARS-OLD and just came out of the army.

As I think you’ll have gathered, Toby is not the brightest spark at the welding bench. I’m listening to the audiobook, and I endured four hours of Toby prattling on about the terrifying octopus (NOT A FUCKING OCTOPUS, TOBY) and why on *earth* would insignificant ol’ Toby be targeted by a demonic creature before he casually mentions:

  • he went to a prep school where the students were taught to literally trample on holy relics and mock God;
  • oh yeah and the school was run by a cult;
  • and oh yeah his uncle and stepmother (on whom he has a creepy crush) are members of the cult and hold seances; and
  • oh yeah a few years ago he accidentally broke open a tomb and released some evil presence.

Toby doesn’t think these facts are at all significant to the demonic presence haunting his window. In fact, he hasn’t even worked out that his uncle and stepmother are in the cult.

After an alarmingly long time he stumbles upon the idea that maybe somebody has set the demon octopus (NOT AN OCTOPUS, TOBY) on him in order to drive him insane. At five hours into the audiobook, why would he suddenly get this idea?

Because, oh yeah, he just happens to be one month away from accessing his trust fund upon which he will be one of the richest men in England and the power of all those millions will transfer from his creepy guardians to him. He wonders fretfully if this small fact could possible be anything to do with the events starting just before he gains his majority?

Maybe, Toby, yeah, you great big fuckwit with the intellect of a cabbage.

Also, from Googling the book cover I now see that The Thing is going to turn out to be a massive spider.

With six legs.

For fuck’s sake.

Infected – Scott Sigler 5/5 I love a good castration

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There aren’t enough books featuring castration these days, are there? Luckily, Infected fills some of the void. It gets extra points because it’s a self-castration performed with chicken scissors.

Infected is a sci-fi novel about a strange infection spreading through the US. It begins with small blue threads in the host’s skin – a clever nod to a controversial condition called Morgellons disease which growing numbers of people claim to suffer from but which doctors and scientists can’t actually confirm – and ends with the host embarking on a murderous rampage of his or her closest friends and family. And any strangers who get in the way.

I won’t give you any spoilers but it’s aliens.

With my author hat on, Infected has problems. The characters are pretty flat, the dialogue is often embarrassing, and the whole book is a cheese-fest. It was originally self-published, after a fashion – it was released in serial form as a podcast – and suffered from the lack of a good editor. But despite all that and if you can overlook the writing, it’s just darn FUN.

We follow Perry, a big ginger geek who is unfortunately one of the first hosts and, even more unfortunately, has a pathological hatred of doctors and serious daddy issues. In another thread we follow CIA agent Dew, who is a walking cliché, and Margaret, an infectious disease specialist working with Dew to find the cause of the infection and stop it before it embarrasses the president.

The science is good. The gore is spectacular. There are ALIENS. What more could you want?

Pompeii – Mary Beard3/5 because that’s the ratio of cocks:non-cocks in graffiti at Pompeii

Pompeii

So, wow, Romans liked cock, hey?

The unfortunate citizens fleeing the volcano were covered in cock-shaped good-luck charms (clearly very effective ones). Bored teenagers covered the town in cock graffiti. According to some archaeologists there was one brothel for every 70 men in the town.

I suppose it just shows that nothing changes. Men have always been, and always will be, obsessed with their trouser furniture.

Unfortunately, I read this entire book and there’s not much more I can tell you about Pompeii. The text could have done with a few more knob jokes to make it less dry (yes, I know, I should become an editor instead of dispensing quality advice like this for free).

I remember that the currency equivalent of pennies was called asses (spelling approximate – I listened to the audiobook, but it’s PRONOUNCED asses, dammit).

I remember that the wealthy woman whose corpse was found in the gladiators’ barracks, having been buried in ash for thousands of years, probably wasn’t having an affair with one of the buff young warriors as most people think. If so, she was part of a vast orgy of dozens of people who, more likely, sheltered in the barracks to escape the falling ash. I choose to believe the orgy story.

Why do I get the feeling I need to be a more sophisticated reader?

Author:

Romance author

3 thoughts on “Ghostly Cephalopods, Ghastly Castrations, and Graffiti Cocks

  1. FWIW, I recommend “Day of Fire” is you want a more suspense-driven, less cock-centric take on Pompeii. Full disclosure: I’m acquainted with several of the authors. That said it really is nail-bitingly good, even though you know how the story ends.

    Liked by 1 person

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