Raven Blaise received the nickname Sunshine because of her need for it. If she goes too long without feeling the warmth of the sun, she begins to feelRaven Blaise received the nickname Sunshine because of her need for it. If she goes too long without feeling the warmth of the sun, she begins to feel weak. Sunshine's mother hasn't used her real name since divorcing her father, Onyx Blaise, who was one of the great magic beings who'd helped save the world during the Voodoo Wars with the Others, who now freely roam.
For the most part, Sunshine is satisfied with her life. She works in her family's bakery, she's got a steady beau, all the books she cares to read, and Monday Movie night at her mom's house to look forward to every week. But... there are memories deep inside that haunt. She can remember summers down by the lake, with her grandmother, her father's mother, teaching her things. Strange things. Magic things. Things her own mother won't even talk about.
One night, Sunshine does something she knows is foolish. She follows her memories out to the lake house of her childhood. After sundown. She is captured by vampires, not surprisingly. What is surprising, however, is that instead of being killed, they shackle her in a room with another prisoner. Even more surprising is that the other prisoner is also a vampire. She's supposed to be his temptation. Instead of killing her, however, he helps her reach inside and use the rays of the rising sun to free herself.
I'd never read anything by Robin McKinley before picking up Sunshine though I knew plenty of readers, whose opinions I trust implicitly, that love her. After reading this book, I can see why. Here, McKinley has woven an alternate reality with such detail that it was impossible not to get sucked in. The vampires are no ensouled, brooding Angels. Instead, they are hardened hunters who prey on humans.
Sunshine struggles with whether or not to free the vampire who helped her free herself, and after she does release Con, the guilt she feels is overwhelming. Especially once she realizes that in saving him, she has created a sort of bond between the two. Their relationship is tumultuous at best. He's no Jean-Claude of the Anita Blake series. Nor is he an Edward Cullen. He is like the other vampires of this world – grey skinned, ugly, hard for Sunshine to look at.
With so many books about the paranomral flooding the market these days, it's hard not to draw comparisons. I've read a great number of these and I promise you that McKinley's Sunshine stands on its own, well worth reading.
After finishing this Young Adult novel, I have no problems seeing how Robin McKinley once won the Newberry Award. She took a world and infused such reality into it that I could see the scenes, smell the bakery, feel Con’s paper-thin skin. It made me wonder what the difference between a Young Adult novel and a just-plain Novel is. The lack of soft-core porn scenes? The missing four letter words? I’m not sure exactly what makes this "Young Adult." Sunshine is an independent woman, a strong heroine. But whatever it is, I have to admit that I am now a Robin McKinley fan. I hope one day she writes more about Sunshine, but I've got a whole slew of her books to keep me reading until then.
A list of her books, as well as an excerpt of the first chapter of Sunshine can be found at www.robinmckinley.com.
In Fear Nothing , Koontz introduces Christopher Snow, a 28 year old man who had been born with the bizarre genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum (XP)In Fear Nothing , Koontz introduces Christopher Snow, a 28 year old man who had been born with the bizarre genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). Victims of XP are extremely sensitive to cancers of the skin and eyes, and even momentary exposure to light is cumulative, so eventually could prove fatal. Because of this Chris continually avoids the light of day, and leads the vampire’s life in the dark of night. He lives in a small and seemingly peaceful California town. Yet events he witnesses on the night of his father's death force him to look behind the façade of Moonlight Bay in a desperate attempt to discover the truth beneath the city's darkness.
The novel begins at a fast pace. After Chris stumbles upon a group of men intent on switching his father's corpse with that of a murdered hitchhiker, he sets out on a mission to discover the conspiracy in his hometown. Chris attempts to untangle this mystery in the dark of night. He is aided by his closest friends, Bobby the surfer (whose surfer lingo did get somewhat annoying), Sasha the beautiful disc jockey and Orson, the unusually intelligent canine (I want a genetically engineered dog - oops, that comes close to a spoiler!). Along the way, the group becomes involved in a shadowy government cover-up, an animal psychic friends network, and a deadly game of hide-and-seek.
As the story continues, Chris spends the rest of the night unraveling the increasingly bizarre secret. It quickly becomes clear, however, that nothing here is as it appears. Seemingly upstanding citizens are becoming engulfed by primal desires. Most of the night is spent with Chris and Orson going from one Moonlight Bay citizen to another, talking to each to piece together the puzzle. This made for a slow read at times, though there was enough action in between the interviews to make up for it. I did feel like I was being lead towards an amazing and wild climax, that the book never actually achieved.
In typical James Patterson fashion, Violets are Blue begins in an explosive way. Alex Cross’s partner and girlfriend has just been murdered in a complIn typical James Patterson fashion, Violets are Blue begins in an explosive way. Alex Cross’s partner and girlfriend has just been murdered in a completely defiling way. At the scene of the crime, the Mastermind calls Alex to taunt him. The Mastermind begins calling Alex almost every day, at all hours, threatening, teasing… Mystery One.
Mystery Two is unveiled as two joggers are killed in San Francisco. People are turning up in various cities, hanging upside down, bitten and drained of their blood. These Vampire-style murders, or “Mystery Two” are interweaved throughout Violets are Blue with “Mystery One”. Again, I reiterate: I enjoyed the Vampire angle. I know there are cults out there where people are disillusioned enough to believe they are truly vampires. That’s what made this angle even scarier.
Upon flying to California to investigate these newest killings, Alex meets Jamilla Hughes, and as one might expect, begins to really like her. Because his last few relationships have met with very ugly endings, Alex is a bit hesitant to act on his feelings. I was happy that Patterson didn’t push this issue. He concentrated on the mysteries to be solved, rather than the mysteries of the heart (which can probably never be solved!).
As Mystery Two begins to unravel, Mystery One begins to heat up. The Mastermind’s identity is first suspected, and then confirmed. Then the cat and mouse game that has been going on for quite some time is reversed. Alex begins to hunt this monster who has so plagued him. ...more
At the opening of the novel, Ignatius and his mother escape the clutches of the police by entering a nearby bar, the Night of Joy. Ignatius and his moAt the opening of the novel, Ignatius and his mother escape the clutches of the police by entering a nearby bar, the Night of Joy. Ignatius and his mother meet Darlene the would-be stripper and the bartender in the sudden visit. As he speaks to Darlene, Ignatius' stories are unimportant but he tells them in an elevated fashion. Although the content may be trivial, Ignatius uses words that make the stories sound significant. For example, in his story about vomiting on his trip in a Greyhound Scenicruiser, he says, "that was the only time I had ever been out of New Orleans in my life. I think that perhaps it was the lack of a center of orientation that might have upset me". Ignatius continues to speak in an educated style to the bartender, even though his message is condescending. Ignatius tells him that, "it is your duty to silently serve when we call upon you. If we had wished to include you in our conversation, we would have indicated it by now".
Physically, we are immediately repulsed by the description of Ignatius. He is seen "sending out his flabby pink tongue over his moustache to hunt for crumbs". The images of Ignatius' hair, tongue, and moustache do not paint pretty pictures and he is seen as the "big crazyman." Following their departure from the Night of Joy, Ignatius and his mother have difficulties getting to the car and reach their destination after exerting much effort. In the car accident that is caused by Ignatius' relentless commentary, he fully shows his loss of physical control when he vomits down the side of the car. Toole's use of Grotesque realism places a decided emphasis on Ignatius' body and its flaws.
Because of the accident, Mrs. Reilly forces her well-educated son to go find a job. He succeeds at landing a job at Levy Pants. After only one visit, Ignatius perceives that Levy Pants is in dire need of his help. He believes at this point that, in the larger bad cycle of Fortuna, there are smaller good cycles and that he is in one of those smaller circles. He tries to organize a rally against the Levy Pants management and fails miserably. Once he is fired from Levy Pants, Ignatius believes that "Fortuna has decided upon another downward spin".
He then goes on to take a job as a hot dog vendor in the New Orleans French Quarter. The book continues on and on (and on and on) with all the main characters crossing each other here and there, until they all come together in the end.
A Confederacy of Dunces was written in the third person. Ignatius J. Reilly is given such a voice and body so that the reader immediately hates him. To evoke such a strong emotion in me, I must admit is a feat in and of itself.
I was told that this was a humorous book and that it used “Grotesque Reality” to convey humor. I only found it Grotesque. John Kennedy Toole took his life at 32 after not being able to find a publisher for A Confederacy of Dunces. He was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A college professor once told me that the only reason people read Moby Dick was so they could join the club of those who had gotten through it, and so they could pretend they understood every nuance. This is how I felt about A Confederacy of Dunces. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. (Everyone say “oooooohhhhhhh”.)
You probably should read it, however, and form your own opinion. Many people claim that it is the best and/or funniest novel they have ever read. This reader does not concur. The most humor I got from this novel was when I read on the internet that some years back, a statue of Ignatius J. Reilly was erected in New Orleans, and a vagrant promptly urinated on it. Fitting? I think so. ...more
Ponder if you will for a moment these things... 1) The vast majority of Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series has been more sex than plot (a rePonder if you will for a moment these things... 1) The vast majority of Laurell K. Hamilton's Meredith Gentry series has been more sex than plot (a recent book had a 90+ page sex scene); 2) One of the main characters in the series is nicknamed Darkness; and 3) The latest, seventh, book in the series is Swallowing Darkness... Combining those three facts, what would you think was awaiting you if you picked up this latest novel?
Surprisingly, the first sex scene doesn't even begin until page 150, and though Meredith starts, um, doing what's necessary to bring about the title of the novel, it never actually happens. They get interrupted by Sholto, king of the sluagh offering one of his tentacles to, um, pleasure her (I said the only thing I could think of when a man offers me oral sex. I held my hand out toward him and said "Yes.") and the fact that the other man in the room, Mistral, takes this moment to admit that he was once a death god. The only other sex scene in the entire book (I know! I too was surprised at the restraint Ms. Hamilton showed this time around) did end with half of the title coming true. It just wasn't her Darkness, however. In order to bring them their due power, Merry, um,joins simultaneously with goblin twins Ash and Holly. Ash is doing things the, um, normal way, while his twin is changing the title of the book to Swallowing Holly. I wonder if that was a publishing typo. Hmmm.
Yes, the above paragraph may be a little raunchy for a book review, but if you're reading a review of any of these books, you're not above it and you can't fool me into thinking that you are. With only 25 of the 365 page novel taken up with sex, there is actually a semi-plot to be found here. I was quite surprised since I'd come to read these books mostly as an exercise in self-punishment. Picking up where the last book Lick of Frost left off, Meredith finds herself in the hospital after being raped by her Uncle, King Taranis of the Seelie Court, finally pregnant with twins (each baby has three genetic fathers). Based on an earlier promise, Merry is now within her rights to claim the crown as Queen of the Unseelie Court.
Nothing is ever that easy with the fey, however. Merry and her band of bodyguards/lovers/kings/father of her unborn children make the decision to leave Faerie and move back to L.A., where they believe they'll be safer from the conspiracies against their lives.
Ok, ok... so I didn't say it was a great plot. All I said that there was more plot than sex for once. Unfortunately, even with a plot, I didn't like Meredith too much and since the book is written from her perspective, it kind of ruins everything else. I found myself feeling very sorry for any of her men that weren't her two favorite. Many times those other four feel left out because of her actions and reactions, and yet they'll never be allowed to pursue other women, fey or human. Now tell me how that can be fair or right? To be fair, that line of thought has nothing to do with the book at all. Just a little something that irked me.
The book reads very quickly and if you've read the first six you'll probably already have read this one anyways. The end of this one wraps almost everything up in a neat little package and one of those despicable epilogue chapters telling you where everyone is and what they're doing. This conveniently allows Ms. Hamilton to cease writing this series, or the option of creating new monsters and conflicts in the next misnamed book.
Two stars just because there was actually a plot. It's akin to giving points on a test for the child remembering to put his or her name on the top....more
I've come to pick up any book by Lois Lowry and expect great things between its covers. But when I ran across The Willoughbys in the children's sectioI've come to pick up any book by Lois Lowry and expect great things between its covers. But when I ran across The Willoughbys in the children's section of my library, proclaiming on its cover to be A Novel Nefariously Written and Ignominiously Illustrated by Lowry, I knew it wouldn't be as profound as her previous books I'd read, but I had a feeling it would still be something special.
With so many nods to orphan stories that have gone before it that Lowry must feel a bit like a bobblehead, The Willoughbys is about a family of four children with parents so reprehensible that they wish they were orphans, and even go so far as to conspire to send their parents on a dangerous vacation so they can become orphans. Little do Tim, twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B and Jane know, but while they are being inspired by Anne Shirley, Pollyanna, Ragged Dick and other literary orphans, their parents have taken to quite a darker story and are planning a Hansel and Gretel ending of their own.
Early in the book the children stumble across a real baby orphan, and after their mother emphatically forbids the child to stay with them, even going so far as to cut its curls away so it didn't look so adorably needy, the children leave the child with their curmudgeonly and almost hermit-like neighbor Commander Melanoff. Melanoff's story is equally sad-but-strange. Though the candy mogul quite hated his anal and annoying wife, he doted on his young son and both had disappeared almost a decade prior and he'd since given up hope. So much so that he had even stopped opening letters that came from Switzerland where the search had continued.
Meanwhile in Switzerland... and so the intermingled characters continue on with their lives until the inevitable intersection of such lives.
Though much different than previous books I've read by Lowry, I did enjoy The Willoughbys quite a bit. It felt like a mixture of much beloved books, borrowing heavily from A Series of Unfortunate Events and yet taking on its very own life and personality as the characters emerged and grew. Written in such a way that late elementary students could easily grasp the language, The WIlloughbys is much smarter than it first appears to be. As proclaimed on the cover, the nefarious and ignominious writer and illustrator has woven words throughout the story that may obfuscate the uneducated, but will surreptitiously enhance the reader's vocabulary, especially in conjunction with the highly entertaining glossary included at the end.
I will leave you with a glowing recommendation for The Willoughbys from both myself and my nine-year-old daughter, as well as a couple of the aforementioned glossary entries.
Affable means good-natured and friendly. There are whole groups of people who are known for being affable. Cheerleaders, for example. Or Mormon missionaries.
Irascible means having outbursts of bad temper. I myself had a very irascible third-grade teacher ("Me too!" inserts DramaGirl) and it made for a miserable year.
Meticulous means extremely precise and careful. Surgeons have to be meticulous. Some people think great cooks are meticulous, but they are wrong. Great cooks read a recipe, maybe, but then they ignore the instructions and add extra garlic if they feel like it. Surgeons can't do that.
Nefarious means utterly, completely wicked. The character in The Wizard of Oz could have been called the Nefarious Witch of the West but authors like to use the same beginning consonant, often. Perhaps L. Frank Baum crossed out nefarious after wicked came to his mind. Thank goodness, because Nefarious would be a terrible name for a musical....more
Just as the main character and narrator, Landon, tells you in the beginning, "This is my story, I promise to leave nothing out. First you will smile,Just as the main character and narrator, Landon, tells you in the beginning, "This is my story, I promise to leave nothing out. First you will smile, and then you will cry - don't say you haven't been warned."
In the Prologue, Landon Carter says, "When I was seventeen, my life changed forever." As Landon walks through the streets of his hometown he begins to think back to his senior year in high school where his story begins.
Sparks tells you his story with language that is so visual you feel you can reach out and touch the people or the places. Landon is your typical high school senior from the 50’s. He’s basically a good kid. He is popular and does care about what his peers think of him, which causes him some problems during this story. Then, there is Jamie Sullivan, the Bible reading, dowdy dressed, unbelievably optimistic, daughter of old Reverend Hegbert Sullivan. She has no friends even though she is known as the friendliest person in Beaufort and the most helpful to those in need. We are immediately touched by the beauty of her soul.
Somehow, some way, Landon and Jamie become friends. This year, Jamie is playing the lead in the annual Beaufort Christmas pageant, which her father wrote in order to preserve religion and decency, while concurrently teaching a moral lesson to the people.
On the evening of the Christmas pageant, Landon's and Jamie's lives are linked together. In the weeks and months that follow, Landon discovers the truths about the nature of beauty, the joy of giving, the pain of loss, and most of all, the power of love.
Written in the first person, from Landon’s point of view, this story is so beautiful and touching, this novel is told to us through the eyes of a sensitive, poetic man, looking back on his life and sharing the events that molded him into the man he finally became. It shows beauty, friendship, the things that really matter, and (of course) love.
Although the story sounds like a simple teenage love story, it is far from that. This is a tale that goes beyond age or gender. It’s a very quick read. Well worth the few hours it takes.
The story begins with a man and his 7 year old daughter running from persons yet unknown. Through flashbacks, we learn who is chasing them and why.
WhThe story begins with a man and his 7 year old daughter running from persons yet unknown. Through flashbacks, we learn who is chasing them and why.
When Andy McGee (the above-mentioned man) was in college, he joined in an experiment to make a quick two hundred dollars. This experiment was run by the government and injected into 12 students a “light hallucinatory” substance labeled Lot Six. During the experiment, Andy meets another student, Vicki Tomlinson who later becomes Vicki McGee. Of the twelve original subjects, only three live much past ten years after the original experiment. One we never learn much about; Andy we know has an ability to “push” people… or mental domination… though not without serious pain and trauma to himself; and Vicki possesses a very small ability to do things such as shutting a door from across a room. When Andy and Vicki have a baby daughter, the government is very interested to see if the Lot Six experiment has any effect on her. And here we have the star of the novel, the title character, the Firestarter. Charlene “Charlie” McGee, the daughter of Vicki and Andy, shows unusual powers from infancy.
Though she appears to have a limited ability to do things that both her mother and father can do, the government is more interested in her ability to start fires effortlessly with just a thought. When Charlie was an infant, right about the time the government branch responsible for Lot Six (“The Shop”) began tapping their house, Andy and Vicki had to begin instilling a fear of her “gift” in her. One day when Charlie was seven, and spending the night at a friend’s house, the Shop got scared that she was gone and moved in to take her themselves. They killed Vicki, and kidnapped Charlie. Using his Lot Six enhances abilities, Andy was able to retrieve Charlie and seriously hurt the men who abducted her.
After a very explosive (pun definitely intended) showdown between the Shop agents and Charlie, Andy and Charlie go into hiding, though they are never long out of the watch of the Shop. Eventually, the Shop, with the aid of an eccentric and cold Indian named Rainbird, moves in on them and abducts them both, separating them from each other. While Andy seems to have pushed himself too far, and shows no signs of retaining any of his mental domination abilities, Charlie is a far different story.
The ending is a wonderful climax of all the events that bring the reader that far, much like I find most of King’s endings.
Even in Stephen King’s earliest work (Firestarter being only his sixth novel), the writing style that has made me a self proclaimed Stephen King fanatic is evident. He writes a colorful and descriptive version of his story, often interjecting the thoughts of his characters. Sometimes his descriptions of place and character are much too vivid, more so than any movie can portray and my husband will ask my why I’m groaning and reading with my eyes half closed (the equivalent to watching a movie from behind the slits in my fingers).
Yes. I recommend Firestarter. For anyone who has been turned off by King’s later works, this is him at his best. It is a wonderful story with believable characters. It makes the reader stop and wonder if the government is really this powerful and corrupt.
This audio version is only the title story of Koontz's collection of short stories.
In Strange Highways our protagonist, Joey Shannon, lives in Las VegThis audio version is only the title story of Koontz's collection of short stories.
In Strange Highways our protagonist, Joey Shannon, lives in Las Vegas. When he runs out of money to buy liquor, he gets a job as a blackjack dealer until he has enough money to supply his addiction for awhile. Doesn’t particularly sound like someone you’re going to love by the end of the story, does he? But you will… or at least I did. In between drunken stupors, Joey laments over the shambles his life has become. He is haunted by a blonde ghost, but doesn’t know why he sees her. He is haunted by what-ifs. He once looked to be an aspiring writer. He is haunted by the success of his older brother, P.J., who did become the famous writer.
Joey is called to his boyhood home to attend his father’s funeral, as well as the reading of his father’s will. This is the first time he has been home since he left the small mining town just out of High School. He is the only Shannon in attendance, as his mother had died some years back and P.J. cannot be found, as he often takes off for months at a time on writing expeditions. After the funeral, Joey meets with the attorney with the express interest in hearing the reading of the will and hightailing it out of there. Much to his surprise, his father leaves the bulk of his estate, totaling a quarter of a million dollars to Joey. He turns it down, claiming that it has been P.J. who has been the better son, P.J. who deserved the money. P.J. has been contributing to his father’s bank account ever since he became rich and famous. It finally dawns on him that he wants nothing to do with any money that came from P.J. though he doesn’t really know why.
Joey climbs into his rental car and begins to drive out of town. Here is where the strangeness comes in. A storm begins (isn’t there always a storm?) and Joey is reminded of the last time he was ever home, and when he left. He was driving on the same road he finds himself driving on now, though he swears that road had been torn up some years before. He sees a girl by the side of the road, next to her stalled car. Though he has mixed feelings about picking her up, he feels drawn towards helping her and so he does. In an amazing storytelling maneuver, Koontz suddenly winds the clocks back to when Joey really did leave for the last time. The girl he picked up is a high school girl. He, himself, is a college student.
Together, the two embark on a strange and terrifying adventure. (That sounds like a tag line for the book, but it isn’t, I promise!) Some benevolent force keeps moving time around, giving Joey another chance to make his past right, to erase those what-ifs. Add into that intriguing mix murder, mayhem and a completely insane older brother, and you’ve got one heck of a story!
Strange Highways was written in the third person, focusing mostly on Joey Shannon’s thoughts and actions. The author never strays into the minds of the other characters, which is sometimes frustrating, but also scary not to know what the Big Baddie is thinking or doing. There is a lot of reference to Religion in this novel. The girl Joey picks up experiences Stigmata which only Joey can see every time they make a wrong choice. (Stigmata is the phenomenon of blood appearing on the hands where Jesus had nail holes). There is a Benevolent force at work helping the two of them, some may say God. The criminal in this is a Satanic worshipper.
Wonderful story. I got so into it at times that I wasn’t being a very good driver (no woman driver cracks please). It was scary and well written. BUT… a word to the wise. Read it. Do not listen to the James Spader read version. He was so monotonous and hard to listen to. It took me awhile to get into the story in spite of his horrendous narration.
The novel opens introducing us to the heroine, Ashley Patterson. Although she cannot prove it, she feels and believes that she is being stalked by someone with murderous intentions. She comes home from work (in Silicon Valley) one day to find that all the lights in her apartment have been turned on. Another day she sees that her lingerie drawer has been ransacked.
In the next two chapters, we are introduced to Toni Prescott and Alette Peters who work at the same company with Ashley. Toni is six years younger than Ashley, born in England, she is a bit of a wild child with serious maternal issues. She is a wonderful singer, but her inner thoughts keep flashing back to her mother telling her she was no good and would never amount to anything. Toni likes to dress provocatively and go club hopping on the weekends. She despises Ashley because Ashley is everything she herself isn't. Alette is eight years younger than Ashley. Born in Rome, she is a soft spoken, sweet artist who also has maternal issues. Though people around her keep telling her that she is an extraordinarily talented painter, she keeps hearing her mother tell her the contrary.
Though she currently has a very close relationship with her father, Ashley is haunted by the memory of her father forcing her to leave her High School sweetheart, Jim. She had planned to run away and be married to Jim, but he never showed up at the train station. When Ashley attends her ten year reunion, she learns that Jim was viciously murdered and castrated the morning they were supposed to meet. She is stunned and immediately suspects her father. When a man at work who has been bothering her meets the same fate after she complains to her father about him, Ashley is convinced that her father is behind these murders.
On a business trip to Canada, Toni meets her Internet boyfriend for the first time. He presents her with a beautiful emerald ring and is then murdered and castrated. Alette’s artist boyfriend back home in California is also killed in this same fashion. Upon returning home, Ashley finds on her bathroom mirror the message You will die. The deputy assigned to protect her is found the next morning in the alley, dead and castrated. When the emerald ring given to Toni is found in Ashley's jewelry box and her fingerprints and DNA at each murder scene, she is arrested.
At this point, we are a little less than half way through the book. If you haven't guessed from the review (I had already guessed from the novel), Ashley suffers from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder). Toni and Alette are both alters which had been created by a traumatic experience (when Ashley was six and eight years old).
From this point backward, the novel had been gripping and enticing. I couldn't put it down. After this, I was thoroughly disappointed. Ashley's father persuades a criminal lawyer turned corporate lawyer, David Singer to return a favor and represent Ashley. The second half of the novel deals with the trial, the fighting psychiatrists: (Multiple Personality Disorder is a real disorder, Multiple Personality Disorder isn't a real disorder), and Ashley's treatment and introduction to her two alters in a state asylum. The most interesting part of this section was learning the horrific event that caused her fragile psyche to shatter as it did.
This novel was written in the third person, with insight into the minds of Ashley, Toni and Alette. The focus on MPD was interesting, but slow paced. It was frightening how someone can commit brutal murders, be released to an asylum for treatment and then released upon being deemed "cured".
I could tell that I was reading a Sidney Sheldon novel, but I missed the adventure, the world travels, the intrigue and thrilling plot twists to which I've become accustomed.
In Fear Nothing, Koontz introduced us to Christopher Snow, a 28 year old man who had been born with the bizarre and rare genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum (XP). Victims of XP are extremely sensitive to cancers of the skin and eyes, and even momentary exposure to light is cumulative, so eventually could prove fatal. Because of this Chris continually avoids the light of day, and leads the vampire’s life in the dark of night. The sequel, Seize the Night, takes place just about one month after Fear Nothing left off.
In the opening chapter, Chris and his genetically enhanced canine friend, Orson, (again, I reiterate – I want a dog like Orson!!!) meet with a friend of Chris’s whose son had just been kidnapped. A strange pencil drawing of a crow is the only shred of evidence left behind. Chris promises the mother, Lily Wing, to do what he can to bring her son back. With his small and once peaceful town of Moonlight Bay becoming more and more strange, Chris is afraid to go to the police, not knowing if they are in on the kidnapping. Following Orson’s sense of smell, the trail leads them to the supposed-to-be-abandoned-but-not Fort Wyvern, birthplace of the many strange happenings, including the retrovirus created by Chris’s mother which is causing people to become something other than human. Also housed here is a project known only to Chris as the Mystery Train.
Going down into the three subterranean floors, where Orson can’t follow, Chris meets and tangles with the kidnapper, though he doesn’t see the child. Upon returning to the ground floor, he finds that his friend and brother, Orson, has also been abducted. Searching for Orson, half out of his mind with grief and ominous thoughts, Chris calls on the help of his best friend, the surfing god, Bobby Halloway. While waiting for Bobby in the housing section of Fort Wyvern, Chris encounters a troop of genetically enhanced, evil Rhesus monkeys. (See my end note about this part of the book).
The next night, after apprising Sasha Goodall of the situation, and enlisting the help of an ex football player (now animal communicator), Roosevelt Frost, a genetically enhanced cat named Mungo Jerry, and a Harley riding, waltz dancing, fully tattooed Doogie Sassman, the newly formed group set out to find the abducted, now known to be four children and one canine. Of course the quest begins and ends at Fort Wyvern. Inside the fort, the group is faced directly with the abductor, who is also head of the project Mystery Train. Before they can stop it, the Mystery Train “leaves the station”. Destination: Time travel. Not forwards or backwards, however, but sideways. The group is faced with a building that keeps changing realities and times. Flying gargoyles, red skies, living black trees…
I am having a hard time fleshing out a plot line since this definitely isn’t an action filled novel. You won’t find James Patterson’s Alex Cross chasing murderers. And just because it takes place in a fictional Maine town, it isn’t Stephen King’s Castle Rock with ageless monsters living in the sewers. Instead, I found real people living real lives with real problems. Because I got to spend so much time with the characters instead of the plot I found myself relating to each one of them more than I do in other books I read. Their plights are somewhat reminiscent of my own. Their struggles are… well, normal.
This novel takes place in the fictional Maine town of Empire Falls. It was once sustained by a textile mill and a shirt factory, both owned and operated by the Whiting family. The prologue introduces us to C.B. Whiting, who, like all the other Whiting men, married a woman they feared and ended up hating. Mrs. Whiting, who sells the factory and mill, but remains the wealthiest woman in Central Maine, is still around, running things in her town long after her husband commits suicide.
In the main story, set in 2000, we meet our main character, Miles Roby. Miles is the guy we all know and love. The one who is too nice to ever say no, the one everyone walks all over. He’s in his early forties. The only time he’s ever made it out of Empire Falls is during the three and a half years he attended a small Catholic college in Massachusetts, coming back early to nurse his dying mother. While home, he struck a deal with Mrs. Whiting. In return for managing the town’s only restaurant, she would will it to him upon her death.
Miles is nearing the end of his twenty year marriage to Janine Roby, who has recently lost 50 pounds, and thanks to her extra-marital affair, has discovered orgasms. Janine, in a mid-life crisis, has traded in Miles, a nice, boring and reliable man for a sixty year old Walt Comeau, who is the complete opposite of Miles. At first these differences excite her, and eventually annoy her. He is loud, obnoxious, paints “The Silver Fox” on his van, and is thoroughly hated by both Janine’s mother, Bea and her and Miles’s daughter, Tick (Christina).
Tick is a sophomore in high school. On top of all the problems and troubles that go with being that age, she is also having to deal with her parent’s divorce and breaking up with the most popular boy in school, and therefore casting herself into social oblivion. Being at odds with her mother and her soon to be stepfather, Tick spends most of her time at the Empire Grill with her father and her father’s brother, David Roby. Also working at the Grill is Charlene, with whom Miles has been in love since he was sixteen years old. Charlene is renowned for having the “choicest Melons” in all of Empire Falls (quite the accomplishment, I’m sure!). Finishing out that love triangle, is Mrs. Whiting’s crippled daughter, Cindy Whiting, who has been in love with Miles since she was sixteen.
Using these and many other characters, that by the end of the novel, I felt that I knew as well as I know my own neighbors, Richard Russo weaves an intricate web of dry humor, ups and downs, pitfalls and triumphs.
As boring and/or anti-climactic as the above attempt at a plot may sound, I truly enjoyed Empire Falls and am looking forward to reading Nobody’s Fool. There were many times I found myself laughing out loud or nodding in commiseration with the characters. I recommend this novel for the reader out there looking for a relaxing, slow-paced but enjoyable read. It is a novel with real life characters... some that you love and some that you love to hate. ...more
I found Horse Heaven to be entirely too disjointed, jumping from unconnected event to unconnected character every few pages. Smiley did give all her animals very human qualities, making them as integral to the story as the actual human characters. At one point, we even ride around in Eileen the scrappy terrier’s mind, hearing her thoughts.
The novel jumps from character to character. Some of these characters are connected in obscure ways, some never meet at all. The main idea circulating through this novel, from page one on seems to be whether the characters “know themselves” and whether or not they ever get to know themselves. In the opening sequence, Epic Steam is noted for being a horse who ”knows who he is” whereas Froney’s Sis, due to being orphaned at such a young age doesn’t quite know who she is. Rosalind finds herself after her affair with Dick. Al loses himself when he finds out about the affair, but then finds himself in re finding his wife of twenty some years. Buddy finds himself when he finds Jesus but then finds his real self when he misplaces Jesus and takes back up his crooked ways.
The novel doesn’t really end. I felt there were loose ends that should have been addressed. I wanted to know what happened to certain characters. I was taught that in fiction, if the author presents the reader with a loaded gun, that gun will be shot before the end of the story. I feel that Jane Smiley left me with a loaded gun, safety still on. ...more