Who woulda thought I'd ever give a Dean Koontz book 5 stars? Not me. I've read Koontz off and on for years and, with a couple of exceptions, not been...moreWho woulda thought I'd ever give a Dean Koontz book 5 stars? Not me. I've read Koontz off and on for years and, with a couple of exceptions, not been terribly impressed; his writing often seems so self-consciously clever, so smug, so twee, that I get increasingly annoyed by it, start skimming heavily, and ultimately can barely finish, each time vowing "Never again!" Lately, however, I've been on a (disappointing) supernatural fiction kick, and, since Odd Thomas had mysteriously appeared on my Kindle a while ago (I think I bought it for my husband--we share an account) I decided to break my vow, because it couldn't be any worse than some of the drivel I'd perused lately, could it? (looking at you, F.G. Cottam and Sarah Rayne).
So. Odd Thomas. What a guy, huh? What an incredible guy. I can't remember the last time I met such a finely drawn character. Without one word of physical description Koontz manages to bring to blazing beautiful life this weird, suffering human being and make me love him. I'll be honest, I got a little choked up there at the end. The race against time to stop a horrific event was captivating, to be sure, but being in Odd's mind as he fumbled and stumbled along was pure poetry. He is the reluctant hero, the Joe Average who just wants to flip burgers and marry his girlfriend and occasionally help a dead person or two. Yet he doesn't flinch from stepping up to the plate when he is called upon to do so. He doubts himself, he rails against fate, but he does it. I think his awesome humanness was what impressed me so much--he's no Rambo. He's Everyman, with a twist.
I am almost afraid to read any more of the Odd Thomas books, but I will. Oh yes. I will. Mr. Koontz, I may owe you an apology.(less)
This was a real clunker, sadly. I think I have finished with Sarah Rayne now. For one thing the premise--an evil chess set--just seemed silly, and for...moreThis was a real clunker, sadly. I think I have finished with Sarah Rayne now. For one thing the premise--an evil chess set--just seemed silly, and for another, one of the main characters, Benedict, gets diagnosed with disassociative personality disorder (aka multiple personality disorder), based on pretty much zero evidence. Huh? First of all, that's extremely rare and difficult to diagnose, and secondly--where's the treatment plan? The doctor is all, "here, take these pills and we'll follow up in a few weeks" and Benedict is all, "oh thank goodness I am merely severely mentally ill instead of actually being in communication with dead people, la la la!" Lame.
The novel switched back and forth between the 1890s and the present day but the two very different eras are virtually indistinguishable, given the poor character development and oddly modern speech and writing styles presented in the 19th century scenarios. Overall this book was just not very interesting or entertaining; it reads like Ms Rayne had a deadline so she just threw together some odds and ends and mailed it off.(less)
This is the third book by Sarah Rayne that I have read, and I am not quite sure why. Her plot line relies heavily on the modern-day characters stumbli...moreThis is the third book by Sarah Rayne that I have read, and I am not quite sure why. Her plot line relies heavily on the modern-day characters stumbling across old letters and diaries stashed away in antique clocks, book bindings, sealed-off rooms, etcetera, which is interesting but far-fetched ("I shan't destroy these incriminating papers, I shall hide them where they may never be found"--um, OK...), the romance angle feels forced, and there's a cutesy little girl for that extra added spark of adorable whimsy and mispronounced words, not to mention a curmudgeonly, mischievous cat. All very darling and sweet (and convenient!) but not so ghostly and creepy, KWIM? In two of the novels I've read thus far--A Dark Dividing and The Silence--there's even the classic damsel-in-distress who must be rescued, and who is, within hours, no harm done. These are not Big Brain books, they are quite relaxing because you know nothing bad is really going to happen, so they are perfect for those read-a-bit-before-falling-asleep moments. I have one more on my Kindle--I bought four, in a weird frenzy after having read and really, really liked John Harwood's The Ghost Writer, because my Kindle told me I would like them. And I do, I do like them. See the three stars? I just don't really, really like them, and would be surprised at myself if I bought any more.(less)
What might have been a 5 star novel was reduced to 4 by the ending, which seemed rushed and abrupt. Up until then I was completely mesmerized by this...moreWhat might have been a 5 star novel was reduced to 4 by the ending, which seemed rushed and abrupt. Up until then I was completely mesmerized by this story-within-a-story, creepy tale. Hardwood captures the Gothic tone perfectly without excessive wordiness (looking at you, Henry James and Wilkie Collins) so that the delicious shivery momentum is never lost, and the interludes containing the ghost stories of Viola Hatherley, rather than being distracting, add to the overall sensation of menace and foreboding. Reading this novel has been a lovely Housework Avoidance Strategy and I wish I had another Harwood offering to dive right into, instead of the dust kitties and kitchen grime that await me IRL. Sadly I have now read them all. (less)
A ruined investigative reporter with an apparently endless supply of money and time teams up with a ditzy restaurant hostess/would-be actress and a br...moreA ruined investigative reporter with an apparently endless supply of money and time teams up with a ditzy restaurant hostess/would-be actress and a brooding James Deanesque drug dealer to solve the mystery of a girl's suicide and, more importantly, to lay to rest the reporter's obsession with her father, a reclusive cult film director. They stumble along from convenient clue to convenient clue, magically convince assorted folks associated with the director to loosen lips previously tightly sealed, wind up on the director's abandoned (?) estate where weird things once happened and now continue to happen, eventually discover the truth about the director's fate and the daughter's suicide, and end up in a cozy diner on a winter's night saying "That was fun, let's keep in touch". There are elements of Devil worship, voodoo, mind-bending psychic abilities, ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night and I don't know what-all else, yet the solution to the mystery turns out to be pretty mundane--a grieving father, a saintly, suffering daughter, a determination to protect privacy at any cost.
Yeah, this just didn't work for me. It started failing pretty early on, when McGrath inexplicably agrees to let the actress and the drug dealer (I forget their names) help him; his precocious little daughter and bitchy ex-wife were just annoying, and it really went off the rails with the hallucinatory, bizarre events at The Peak. I felt like the author wanted to make this a supernatural mystery but couldn't quite bring herself to commit to that genre, so she threw a bunch of tantalizing tidbits into the Cuisinart and then just poured it all down the drain and served canned tomato soup with low-sodium saltines instead. (less)
I feel like Thomas Cook had a big jar of fortune cookies on his desk and every time a character mused, "I remember Julian once said...." he pulled one...moreI feel like Thomas Cook had a big jar of fortune cookies on his desk and every time a character mused, "I remember Julian once said...." he pulled one out and wrote down whatever pithy saying lurked inside on the little strip of paper. Julian was a fountain of profound thoughts, it seems. Never once said anything mundane like "I think I'm a little drunk" or "We're out of toilet paper", like us regular folk. No, everything that fell out of Julian's mouth was pure philosophical gold.
I am sad. Sad because I loved (most of) Thomas C. Cook's earlier novels and was hoping this would be more of the same, but it just felt flat and dull to me. Even the "twist" at the end was uninteresting. I think it was all the bloody politics that undid me--yawn. And Julian. What a tedious, brooding bore. Even his apartment in Paris was predictably depressing and existential. Because I could not care for Julian, I could not relate to the bland narrator's obsession with him or buy into all the high-intrigue jetting all over the globe to discover whatever it was that destroyed him.
I am wishing for better luck with the other Cook novel I purchased at the same time, Sandrine's Case.(less)
I was expecting more of a ghost story, for some reason, and what I got was a feel-good, rollicking adventure with a zany cast of characters, including...moreI was expecting more of a ghost story, for some reason, and what I got was a feel-good, rollicking adventure with a zany cast of characters, including circus freaks and a by-golly Evil Mad Scientist--yowzah! What the heck, I'm at the beach. Sun, sand, surf, and an entertaining, unintellectual novel--vacation at its finest. (less)
My sister, a Best Seller List aficionado , talked me into downloading this novel so that we could read it together while on a family vacation. I was r...moreMy sister, a Best Seller List aficionado , talked me into downloading this novel so that we could read it together while on a family vacation. I was reluctant because I had previously read Sharp Objects and disliked it rather intensely, but I was quite pleasantly surprised by Gone Girl. It sucked me right in and kept me conflicted and guessing about the two main characters til the very end. Nothing was as it seemed--I like that in a novel! Granted, the plot line was a little contrived and far-fetched, but it was also fascinatingly twisted--so over-the-top that it actually worked for me. Oddly, my sis was much less impressed, which just goes to show one really can't judge a book by its cover.(less)
Not sure what is happening with Ms. Read these days. I do know she recently went through a divorce and the agony of conflicting emotions one experienc...moreNot sure what is happening with Ms. Read these days. I do know she recently went through a divorce and the agony of conflicting emotions one experiences during that process (been there myself) is painfully clear in this novel. In fact, Valley of Ashes is less a mystery and more a raw outpouring of Maddie Dare's personal hell as she struggles to hold it together. The bloom is definitely off the rose as far as her hitherto wonderful husband Dean is concerned. He was a perfect sh*t right out of the gate, in fact, a surprise to me since he and Maddie had a loving and mutually supportive relationship in the earlier novels. I was a little dismayed at how the previously strong and sassy Maddie seemed to wither under the onslaught of her troubles, not the least of which appeared to be the difficulty of being essentially a single mom to twin girls. I kind of got the feeling at the end that Maddie as a literary character has twinkled out of existence, a shame since she's brilliantly drawn and I for one would like to see her back in the saddle again, large and in charge and taking no prisoners (pick your cliche.) Ms. Read is a sharp, witty author but this felt like the classic beginner's mistake, an autobiography thinly disguised as a novel.(less)
I love this series! Buttered Chicken is the best so far in that it inspired me to do a little research into the Partition of India, about which I knew...moreI love this series! Buttered Chicken is the best so far in that it inspired me to do a little research into the Partition of India, about which I knew nothing. The account of Mummy-ji's experiences during that time was quite affecting, as was Vish Puri's travels into the "enemy country" of Pakistan. History lessons, humor, and delectable-sounding recipes at the end--who could ask for more? (less)
I whiled away the morning/early afternoon reading snatches of this silly book while simultaneously cleaning my house. Both activities were equally wea...moreI whiled away the morning/early afternoon reading snatches of this silly book while simultaneously cleaning my house. Both activities were equally wearying but at least my house is clean so it wasn't a complete waste of time. (less)