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oblue

Obsidian Blue

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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No Thank You! I Said Good Day Sir!

Fallout - Sara Paretsky

Okay let's start with the good, we get into the racial history of a town in Kansas. You can see how things were set up different for those who were white and black. If the book had managed to focus on that this would have been stronger. Instead, Paretsky throws in the military, hidden secrets about germ warfare, Russians (how topical), and the initial investigation seems to be lost in trying to tie into too many things in this town's past.

 

"Fallout" takes place entirely with VI in Lawrence, Kansas tracking down a man (August) that Bernie (Boom Boom's goddaughter) knows from her hockey teammate. Bernie asks VI to help find him since there was a break in at a gym he worked at and many people are starting to think he had something to do with it. When VI goes to work and finds out August left town to go with an aging African American actress to her hometown in Kansas to film her life, she follows. From there the book flails into a chaotic mess. 

 

VI is at a crossroads with her relationship with Jake. Yeah things looked great in the last book, but out of nowhere he has gone to Switzerland to play music for a year (I was so confused about this) and gets resentful of VI's job, her life, and her not following him. I hated we just got emails from this character with VI not doing anything to head off what is coming her way relationship wise.


VI's nosy neighbor is missing (thank goodness) and Lotty and Max are barely in this one. Unfortunately we have freaking Bernie showing up in this one again and I swear I loathe this character. I am not the only reviewer that cannot stand her. After this book she better not pop up in one of VI's cases again. 

 

The secondary characters we meet are interesting in this one. I did laugh at people pointing out that wherever VI went dead bodies or women in need were out there. Small towns are pretty hilarious. So kudos for Paretsky for capturing that in this book. I just wish the book had focused more on the town and the history. Throwing in the germ warfare and what happened in this town in the 80s (which is not believable) was a hard pillow to swallow. I just found myself rolling my eyes through most of this book. There was another big plot point (who was a character's father) that I could not with. I maybe slammed my Kindle at that point and turned on Netflix to watch Death in Paradise for a n hour. 

The writing was typical Paretsky, I just had issues with the logic leaps in this one as I said above. The flow was off mightily in this one though. The whole book felt draggy. Reading about VI trying to work out, or walking her dog (why was the dog even with her???) just became monotonous after a while. 

 

Moving the action from Chicago to Lawrence wasn't a problem for me. Just the way the plot unfolded. I like it when the main character is out of familiar surroundings. Makes the books more interesting when you get into a long running series like this.


I read an excerpt of the next book, "Shell Game" and it looks interesting. 

This Book Was Bonkers-Not in a Good Way

Brush Back (V.I. Warshawski) - Sara Paretsky

Besides the clever ending which gets at the title of the book, this one was a chore to get through. At first I thought a case tying things back to VI's family, specifically her cousin Boom Boom would be great. But after a while the whole thing sounded so freaking implausible I just could not. I also hated that we get a Petra stand in (Boom Boom's goddaughter Bernie) and Mr. Contreras was maddening. We also get a return of Bobby and Conrad (bah to him, I am glad that VI finally told him to let shit go) and the whole book felt endless. I think the big problem is that there were too many moving parts that didn't make a very cohesive plot. 

 

In "Brush Back" we have VI being asked by her ex-boyfriend (from high school) to look into his mother's murder case. More than decades has passed since Frank Guzzo's mother Stella went to jail for the murder of his sister Annie. Stella admits to beating Annie and going to bingo (as one does) but claims she was alive when she left. Things seem to be out of VI's hands after Stella refuses her help and acts like an asshole while doing so. When Stella accuses VI's dead cousin Boom Boom of murdering her daughter and her father covering it up, VI starts snooping to figure out who could have killed Annie if not Stella.

 

VI was rightfully riled up in this one. I like to see her mad and her investigation skills have not gotten rusty. She knows immediately her cousin could not have done this and starts pulling out threads about the Guzzo family. You also find out how hard things were for VI after her mother passed away and how some of the neighbors were jerks. I can see why she booked it out of South Chicago. 

 

We get familiar secondary characters in this one: Lotty, Max, Bobby, Conrad, VI's tenant she shares office space with, Mr. Contreas, Jake. We also get some new characters, VI's cousin's god daughter who is obviously a Petra stand-in. I didn't like her much in this book and loathed in the next book. She ends up being a pain in the ass and costs VI in both books cause she doesn't listen and swears she knows all. I hope that Paretsky poofs her in book number 19 (Shell Game).

 

I have to say though the plot doesn't make a lot of sense. The why behind people trying to set up Boom Boom was dumb as hell. If you met VI even once you have to know that threatening her or her family member's memories would not make her back off. Things don't tie together nicely and I have to say the ending was very frustrating/not believable things at all. VI can't just get people to always come out and rescue her and her doing this I am an independent woman who needs no one shtick. I wish she get a partner again, but looks like we won't see that happening anytime soon. 

 

Critical Mass- Most I Have Liked VI in a While

Critical Mass - Sara Paretsky

After the last book in the VI Warshawski series I was tempted to just leave the series alone. But I am a completionist at heart and finally just buckled and bought this book. This one actually hangs together very well. VI is focused on figuring out how a daughter of one of Lotty's childhood playmates is doing after it looks like she may be in danger. The plot revolves around that, pre and post War World II, and the arms race. There were so many lines in this book that I found myself loving.

 

"Critical Mass" has a 50 year old or 50 plus year old VI off to help a childhood friend of Lotty's daughter. Lotty actually washed her hands of the friend and though she tried to help the daughter, eventually gave up on that too. When VI shows up at a meth house, she finds a man dead (the scene described is stomach turning) and realizes the woman is missing. From there VI finds out the woman's son is also now missing and huge tech giant is scared he has stolen their plans and is out there selling  his secrets to the highest bidder.


VI does what she does best, asks questions, and goes investigating via libraries, the internet, and just using old fashioned intuition to put two and two together. She manages to once again find herself in a gun standoff (seriously that part is getting old) and once again has to deal with being so run down and tired but managing to push through. One wonders though when VI is going to just have to retire. I cannot see her still taking punches and getting shot in her 70s. It's already pushing realms of belief that she is able to walk after some of her run ins.


VI is still in a romance with Jake. I do like him and was surprised to see how well they mesh. 


The secondary characters of Lotty and Max were welcomed. I was so glad to see Petra (VI's cousin) banished to the Peace Corps. I wish Mr. Contreas would go with Petra. I don't see how a guy pushing 90 is even doing running around with VI.

 

The writing was good and of course we get some historical facts mixed in to make this more realistic. I do love that Paretsky has made VI an unapologetic feminist and pushes for more individual rights over the government, cops, and anyone that could oppress them. Even though these are fictional characters, reading about what the fictional Nazis did to people during the Holocaust was awful. 

 

The flow was actually pretty good in this one and I was able to follow the plot easily enough.

 

The setting of Chicago continues to surprise and Paretsky manages to make things fresh. 

 

There were some surprises here and there and the ending was a surprise. We find out a lot of secrets that even the main participants in this one didn't know. 

Not Terribly Cohesive, But Still Interesting Book

The Secrets of Ghosts - Sarah Painter

Well I got on a mini-magical realism kick and finished this book too. I read the first book in this series back in 2015. I gave that one (The Language of Spells) 3 stars, and the sequel to that is a strong three stars too. I think the main issue is that nothing really grabbed me in this one. I thought following both Gwen and Katie didn't really work this time. Gwen is dealing with trying to get pregnant and Katie is hell-bent on figuring out her Harper power. Katie is naive as anything for most of the book and I thought the ending was just so-so.

 

It's been 7 years since the events in the last book. Katie is now 21 years old and trying to still learn from Gwen so she can come into her Harper powers. Katie is a waitress at a private home turned hotel and is hoping that eventually she will be able to be like Gwen (wise woman that everyone seeks out in the village). When Katie finds a dead body her whole world gets turned upside down and she starts to have birds and ghosts talk to her. Gwen is troubled and hopes that there is someway to shut off Katie's powers since talking to ghosts is not a power anyone wants.

 

Katie is naive. She ends up liking a bad boy (with honestly no redeeming qualities) and does joint investigations with him as well as trying to figure out things solo. Even though Katie is warned her powers could be dangerous she doesn't care because she doesn't want to be seen as a kid and wants to be special and not ordinary like her mother. There was a lot going on there that I wish I had felt was resolved. I don't see what the big deal would be if Katie didn't have magical powers. And I have to say her "practicing" with Gwen didn't seem to be much of anything. I recall in book number one it didn't make much sense how the magic in this world works and it still doesn't.


We unfortunately don't get too spend much time with Gwen. Gwen is dealing with not being able to get pregnant and no spells or potions are helping. She is feeling lost and vulnerable. Her and her now husband Cam barely feel present in this one. Merely there to prop up Gwen.

 

The secondary characters are okay, just needed more developing. I was interested when I heard there were more witch families and how they try not to settle near each other cause things would happen. I wish that Painter had explored that more. 

 

The writing was okay, but the flow was off. I found myself getting bored and wanting the story to hurry up and finish already since it was a lot of Katie investigating, the guy she liked being "charming" and then her being mad that things were not working out how she wanted them.


The ending was interesting, we get to know a bit more about Katie's powers. But everything seemed a little too pat when we found out how much it could be costing Katie to use magic. 

 

I haven't seen a third book in this series appears, so am assuming that this is the final book. 

Garden Spells - - Magical Realism Done Very Well

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

Funny, I love this book, but honestly don't remember the last time I read it. After finishing "Garden Spells" I went and read book two in the Waverley family again so that was a nice and and two punch. Allen does magical realism very well. This book deals with a lot of serious issues, rape, abuse, bullying, and the eccentricities of a small but unusual southern town in North Carolina.

 

"Garden Spells" reunites estranged sisters, Claire and Sydney Waverley. Claire is single and alone making a go of her special catering business in Bascom, North Carolina. She has her whole world turned upside down when she meets a man, Tyler Hughes, who despite her best efforts is interested in her.

 

Sydney has left her abusive partner and taken her daughter Bay back home to Bascom. She has hated Bascom since she left it and never wanted to be one of the strange Waverley's. All she wanted to do was fit in. Still nursing heartbreak over the first boy she ever loved (and lost) Sydney starts to finally embrace being a Waverley.

 

The book focuses not just on Claire and Sydney though. We also have Allen including other characters as well, we follow Claire and Sydney's cousin Evanelle, Sydney's daughter Bay, an old friend (not really friend) of Sydney's, and even Tyler and a potential love interest for Sydney. Allen manages to juggle everyone and keep the plot moving forward. I didn't feel lost about who people were and how they were connected. We also got delicious little comments about which each family is famous for in this book and that was pretty cute. 

 

The writing is magical realism at it's best. Allen makes you feel, smell, and even taste things. If you do things right, you can make the magical elements seem totally natural and Allen does. We hear about the Waverley family home, apple tree, and even how Claire's emotions affect things like having fog in the neighborhood.

 

The flow was very good and the setting of Bascom felt very real.

 

Great first book in the series. 

Reading progress update: I've read 44%.

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

So far a very good book. Estranged sisters Claire and Sydney are doing what they can to be closer after Sydney returns home with her 5 year old daughter Bay. Sydney is on the run from an abusive marriage and returning to her hometown where she was made to feel strange is the only place she can go that she feels safe.


Claire is dealing with the man next door becoming interested in her and she wants him to stay away. She's doing what she can to help him along with that by cooking him food that should turn him away.

 

Sydney is dealing with old ghosts (old friends and a boyfriend). 

 

I love their aunt who apparently has a Waverly gift of giving people things for hidden reasons. 

Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

I had good intentions (cringes). Going to try again when I get home. 

Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen

The first book in Allen's Wavery family series. A very good book that showcases magical realism. Trying very hard to dip my toe back into things on Goodreads and Booklikes. I barely feel present anymore. I have posted some reviews here and there, but haven't had a chance to get back into the groove of things. Hope today gets me there a bit. 

Not Really Chick Lit

Bookends - Jane Green

I finished my re-read of this a few days ago, just didn't have the energy to post a review. I think the main issue I had was that the re-read was a bit of a bust. Probably because this wasn't as chick-lit as I was hoping. There are some serious issues here (discussion of HIV and AIDS) but also there is some mean-girling crap that goes on that just didn't fit the characters who were supposed to be adults in their 30s. The main character of Cath just reads as a doormat throughout this book and I just wanted her to be stronger and push back on people more. The ending was okayish, just not great.

 

"Bookends" has Cath and her best friend Si dealing with being unlucky in love. Living in London they seem to be going through the motions of things. Cath refuses to try her hand at love again after having her heart broken and Si is desperate to meet Mr. Right even though the men he is usually with are terrible.

 

Cath and Si have boring, but familiar get togethers with their college friends Josh and Lucy and things seem to be carrying along fine until a woman (Portia) from their college days pops up again.

 

Most of the book is Cath thinking about Portia and how Portia supposedly held them all together until she broke up their friend group. What gets me though is that when we readers finally get a glimpse of Portia, she's not all that Cath (or Green) makes her out to be. There is no there there, and I wanted there to be better development of her.

 

Cath stumbles upon a love interest that wasn't that interesting and Si ends up with a shocking new way of life after a betrayal. The book just ends up taking too many things on and not doing them well.

 

If the above isn't enough, we also have Cath trying to open a bookstore.

 

The writing is typical older Green (when she wrote her chick lit books taking place in London). This just doesn't read or feel like chick lit. The flow is okay, though going back to past and present was a bit much.

 

I guess I was just put out by the whole lesson to be learned about real friends that people who should be old enough should already know at this point.

I Wanted a Romance Book Taking Place in Scotland....This Was Not That Book

The End of Summer - Rosamunde Pilcher

Eh, at least this was short. What a no-nothing story. I have pretty much loved every Pilcher book and to read this one and have it fall so short was a surprise. I think the main issue was that there was no development of any characters and you could call the story from beginning to end. It read like a not very interesting soap opera.

 

"The End of Summer" has Jane Marsh returning to her grandmother's home in Scotland called Elvie. Jane and her father left Scotland almost a decade ago. Jane knows that her grandmother wanted to keep her. And she wanted to stay too to live with her and her first cousin Sinclair. However, she felt a duty to follow her father and take care of him. Now that her father has a potential new love, Jane rushes home to Elvie and Sinclair. She soon feels torn between him and another love interest, her grandmother's lawyer, David.

 

Jane was a non-entity practically in this book. She is determined to stay with her father until he dares to fall for someone else. Then she leaves America with David to go back to her grandmother. And even though any person with eyes can see that Sinclair is not good, she stays blind to him and his ways. She doesn't seem to have a burning need to do anything but get married and have children. I wish she had felt passionate about something. The romance was really missing throughout this book and I am still annoyed I wasted my time on reading this. It read a lot to me like Christie and her whole bright young thing takes on terrible ass man in order to keep him on his ps and qs.

 

Dave and Sinclair were both cut from the same boring cloth. I really didn't care who Jane chose even though there is a whole information dump via a character for you to find out about a character who has kept things hidden (not really, just read between the lines).

Jane's grandmother was not portrayed as strong. I really had a lot of questions about decisions she makes, but we don't really get a chance to dwell on anything since the book is so short.

 

Jane's father is barely in this book and then shows up via letter that I thought was a cheat. There should have been more discussions between the two of them since he kept things from Jane and it also didn't make any sense to me as a reader.

 

The writing in this one doesn't sing to me like in previous Pilcher books. Scotland doesn't come alive and neither does Elvie. We get information dumps galore and nothing flows well because of that.

 

The setting of this book takes place I want to say in the 1970s. I say that because Sinclair makes a comment about the U.S. being full of anti-war protests. It doesn't feel like a book in the 70s because Jane seems to be anti-independent woman and having any thoughts of her own really.

 

The ending was lackluster. We have Jane with her choice at the end of summer (October) with her thoughts going towards the future.

Lowcountry Bookshop

Lowcountry Bookshop - Susan M. Boyer

Oh I am annoyed I bought this. What a lackluster book. I used to really enjoy the "Liz Talbot" mysteries, but geez, the last three have been a bunch of well that happened. I think I was ultimately dissatisfied by the main mystery (how did a man end up in the middle of the road hit by a car) and then we still have the never ending nonsense with Liz and her dreams about the end of Stella Maris. Colleen is not in this one that much (not complaining) but she really doesn't add much to the book. The reveal at what went on I guessed at pretty early since that was the only explanation that made sense. I also felt frustrated because there doesn't seem to be any calling out on the people who are responsible for someone's death.

 

"Lowcountry Bookshop" has Liz and Nate hired by a mysterious client to keep a local mailwoman from being arrested for a hit and run. The mailwoman (Poppy) found a man she knows on her route dead in the middle of the road during a rain storm. Poppy didn't like him, and she claims he beat his wife. Though the police don't have enough evidence to charge Poppy yet, there doesn't seem to be another explanation. Liz and Nate investigate and find out about a hidden Charleston they knew nothing about.

 

Liz is still dealing with the fallout from her dreams about the end of Stella Maris and Nate dying. She dreams of two children who cannot possibly be hers and left a widow. Trying to work through that while also investigating a hit and run accident is a lot of her to do. Liz and Nate still make excellent partners and I love how they work together.

 

I have to say though when we get Colleen's terrible explanation behind Liz and her dream I don't get why Liz didn't go off on her. It made very little sense and I have to say that Colleen and her whole guardian angel of Stella Maris thing is wearing very thin with me. At first this was pretty cool, but it got a bit samey. I think Boyer did a smart thing with do to Colleen and her sticking her nose in with Liz and Nate has her sidelined from interfering with their investigations. However, doing that has made her not necessary to the story.

 

Liz is also dealing with her sister about to leave to get married and that also didn't ring very true. I wish we had a wedding to look forward to or something. Liz's whole family felt a bit flat in this one. I feel sad saying this, but even Liz and her crazy family were not enough to get me to enjoy this one. It just didn't ring true and felt very fake (the ghosts, pig, etc. was too much).

 

The secondary characters: Poppy, and some women with ties to a bookstore didn't really work. I liked the idea behind what the women were doing, but have to say that they actions were problematic.

 

The writing was typical Boyer. I hope you like hearing about delicious food, restaurants, clothing, and homes/rooms. The flow was okay, though I think that the book just didn't come together very well.

 

And as I said above, I didn't like the resolution since it left a stink on a good man and I didn't believe at all the why behind everything. I felt like we needed one more scene, or maybe more with the police to discuss what happened next. Instead that was left twisting in the wind.

Just Skip This

One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz

This book is a freaking door stopper. I read this the first time on a very long flight and since my other books were packed in my luggage I plugged on through this. I think maybe I went hard shrug about it all and said well that's just three stars. Reading it now years later I have no idea how I muddled through this the first time. This book is peak sanctimony Koontz. There's a damn dog and then even more dogs. Koontz does that weird thing he did for a while where he had people with disabilities either physical or mental into super special people which felt wrong in a way. I don't know if you can call it pandering or what, it just felt off and not sincere. There are like four plots in this one (if you can call them that) and a question again about religion versus science, but with no real horror elements.

 

"One Door Away from Heaven" is about Michelina (Micky) Bellsong a woman with a mysterious past who does what she can to save a young girl she meets. Seriously though, why do most of Koontz's characters have a mysterious past? It takes a while to figure out what happened to Micky, but one can hazard a guess. There is not much there there with Micky. Sorry, not sorry. The other characters read as paper thin too. Micky meets a young girl named Leilani who tells her her life story and at least something comes across to Micky, that the young girl is going to be killed by her stepfather. Micky has a drinking problem, but is still beautiful (I think that is said repeatedly). When she realizes that Leilani is really in danger, she does what she can by following her to keep her safe.

 

Leilani is a 9 year old precocious child who talks like Einstein. She has a physical disability, but shines (according to another character). I can't even with that since it started to make me think of "The Shining" and Stephen King. I think I have said this before, Koontz cannot write children. He writes them as little Buddhas and it's old. I give King some grief when he writes something that is not 100 percent amazing (still feeling salty about 11/22/63) but the man can and always has been able to write kids.

 

We also have a PI named Noah who is out to help Micky with her tracking down Leilani.

 

There is a mysterious boy named Curtis who I hope you like reading him talking about a playful presence a lot. He sucks and I cannot with him. The reveal about Curtis wasn't much of a reveal since I was going for he is really an android for most of the book.

 

The bad guy seems like he should be going around screeching about cooties most of the time. Preston Maddoc is a scientist (EVIL) who is very popular in the scientific world pushing out his belief in bioethics. He believes in aliens (which don't even get me started) and that those who are not perfect should be murdered. Too bad he is Leilani's stepfather. I think Koontz could have gone at this more subtle. If Koontz wanted to have a real discussion about bioethics as it relates to the poor and people who are not white, have at it. But he turned this into all bioethics is evil/wrong.

 

There are other characters in this one that I cannot even get into right now. One was Micky's aunt Geneva that also made me roll my eyes. For most of the book everyone doesn't meet up and then Koontz throws them all together in a way that doesn't even make any sense.

 

The writing didn't work. I think because for some reason Koontz wrote some characters in past tense and others in present tense. It was hard work to even get through this because that drove me up the freaking wall. This one also reminded me a bit about "Intensity" which had another woman who put herself in harm's way to save a young girl.

 

The flow was awful and every time someone spoke it took like ten pages to make it end. Suffice it to say that the book is just about apparently people spreading the word and there are aliens. That's all I got.

 

And the book ends with people talking about a riddle and here is the answer which was too much even for me.

 

"If your heart is closed, then you will find behind that door nothing to light your way. But if your heart is open, you will find behind that door people who, like you, are searching, and you will find the right door together with them. None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another's salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light."

 

"For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those who dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those who would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy, and endless fear.

 

And here, in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence abiding in all things, Curtis is able to prove to Leilani what she has thus far only dared to hope is true: that although her mother never loved her, there is One who always has."

My eyes finally stopped rolling. That whole thing went on forever. I don't think that Koontz gets how preachy his books come across and how off-putting it is to read some of his works. I think this was Koontz's way of flipping off his critics cause he manages to tie dogs into being connected to God even more in this one that just made me shake my head.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Strange Highways - Dean Koontz

I do re-read this one mostly in the month of October. Koontz really sings in this short story collection. Maybe he should think about publishing more short stories since even some of his shorts he has written lately have been better than the full length novels that have followed.

 

All in all the books showcase the good with Koontz. He can spin a sentence and also scare you at the same time. You get some religious musings here and there, but honestly everything in most of the stories works. I kept wishing after I first read this, that Koontz would think about spinning off some of the characters that we meet here. Too bad he never did.

 

"Strange Highways" (5 stars). The anchor of the collection this one was really good. We follow a man named Joey who is in essence a failure. He tried to be an author and is pretty much dead broke. He returns to his hometown in Pennsylvania to attend his father's funeral. His brother is successful and Joey doesn't know why, but he can't stand to be around him. When a second chance has Joey back in the past to fix a mistake that can lead him down a different path. This one had a lot going on with it, but it all works. Most time travel stories make me go hmmm, but Koontz plays with it in a good way and the reveal about what happened to Joey in the past and who was behind it was actually scary. I think Koontz also smartly incorporated the town. We find out this is a dying former mill town (there are lots in PA) and due to that many people had left it when he was a teen, when Joey goes back as an adult you feel like time stopped there. I loved this story from beginning to end.

 

"The Black Pumpkin" (4.5 stars). An almost perfect Halloween tale. A young boy named Tommy is in a terrible family. His mother and father are pretty awful and his brother is a potential serial killer. When Tommy and his brother get to pick out a pumpkin, his brother picks the black one that has Tommy scared to death. He can sense something evil about it. In the end though there is a definite surprise about the pumpkin. The ending was okay, but just didn't gel with the scares that came before it.

 

"Miss Attilla the Hun" (3 stars). Among my least favorite in this series. Probably because we get another uber perfect woman for Koontz to fawn over. Mrs. Laura Caswell is a teacher who one day realizes that something funky is going on at her school. A classic alien story which in the end didn't really work for me, probably because it didn't seem quite finished.

 

"Down in the Darkness" (3.5 stars). We follow a good man (Jess) who is excited about moving his family into their new home. When Jess finds a mysterious door that he doesn't recall being there during the house tour, he realizes that the door is hiding something potentially evil. When we (readers) find out what the door is for and how it comes into play with Jess's background as a former POW it was intriguing. In the end though I thought the ending (pun intended) wasn't that great. I think because it ends up leaving things a a moral question when we see what happens with Jess and the door and I don't think that Koontz needed it to be that deep.

 

"Ollie’s Hands" (4.5 stars). A sad story but very good. We find out about a man named Ollie and what his hands can do. I had nothing but pity for the character named Ollie when we come to the end of his story.

 

"Snatcher" (5 stars). This is really a fun and scary story. A man that is a purse snatcher and just all around terrible person has the tables turned on him.

 

"Trapped" (3 stars). I honestly feel like I read this story before somewhere. A woman and her son are on the run from some scary rats. Not a bad story, but like I said, I think that I read this or a similar idea of it somewhere before. Drove me up the wall because I can't figure out where.

 

"Bruno" (5 stars). I laughed and always laugh reading this one. No spoilers, I just think you will enjoy a story about a time traveling bear (seriously) and a private eye named Jake. Jake is asked to help Bruno out with catching a time traveling criminal (as one is these days apparently). this is one of the stories I wish we had seen a follow up about since it was so interesting.

 

"We three" (3.5 stars). Not bad, just fairly short. Murderous triplets maybe ushered in something that will be the end of them.

 

"Hardshell" (5 stars). So good. Another one I would have loved to see a spin off or larger novel about. We have a LAPD detective chasing a killer. We find out though that neither man are what they appear to be.

 

"Kittens" (5 stars). The main reason why I gave this one five stars is that for once Koontz didn't back away from a scary/terrible ending. Reminded me a bit of King with the ending and what we realize must have happened as readers. Shudder.

 

"The Night of the Storm" (3 stars). My second least favorite story in this collection. I can't even go into how boring I found this, but it was boring.

 

"Twilight of the Dawn" (3 stars). A very preachy Koontz book that also had no horror elements in it so it doesn't really fit with the rest of the book. That said, it works because Koontz manages to draw you in with his writing. The story is about an atheist who ends up being pretty much an asshole to his young son and his own wife when the question of religion comes up. We know why he is that way (he had very religious parents) and doesn't want his son growing up thinking there is a God. When he loses his wife though his son starts to question his father's lack of faith and grows even stronger in his belief of a God. When his son eventually gets diagnosed with a fatal cancer, the question of faith becomes even more of divide between them. I went back and forth on this rating a lot. I eventually ended up with a three since I thought the father character was an ass.

 

"Chase" (5 stars). This and "Strange Highways" were the longest stories in the collection and this one really packs a punch. It's a good way to end the collection. Benjamin Chase has a complicated history. Returned from Vietnam and having to drink to forget his memories he is welcomed at a dinner for a Guest of Hero thing. I was a bit nonplussed at first since I thought most of the US was terrible to returning vets. Chase is given a new car and while driving ends up saving a young girl who was about to be raped and murdered. This puts Chase neck in neck with a killer who is determined to end Chase.

Deus Ex BS

Relentless - Dean Koontz

I am still shocked Koontz wrote this terrible book where he takes potshots at his literary critics in book form. And we get a special dog, kid, and a super wife. I feel like there should be a Koontz bingo card and you can start marking off all of the things that he always does in his books and at the end you get a beer. Or maybe three beers.

 

"Relentless" was one of the worst Koontz books I have ever read. I hoped my re-read would have some saving grace to it, but nope. Still among the worst. I didn't care at all about the characters, but the whole thing with the mysterious and evil critic (whose name was Shearman Waxx) made zero sense and had me ready to fight. The plot made no sense and then we go sliding into a whatever the hell that was ending.

 

"Relentess" is about successful author Cubby Greenwich. Cubby apparently writes books that can stop wars and shit like that. Oh wait, that was the plot to "Lady in the Water". Either way, Cubby's book has attracted the attention of a critic that everyone fears named Shearman Waxx. Well Waxx ends up uttering a word and then Cubby and his whole damn family is on the run. Maybe I could have made allowances for this stupid book if the rest of the characters had been fleshed out, but nothing doing. Besides Cubby, we have Cubby's wife Penny who is also a successful children's author. And they have a precocious son named Milo who would make Einstein apparently look stupid. It was just too much in this book to even deal with at once.

 

Koontz does that thing where the main characters past is hidden from readers for reasons until revealed. We have Penny being a super woman with a family with a damn stronghold and of course her ability to shoot any type of freaking weapon. Milo and his dog...I can't even right now. Koontz pulls a deus ex machina out of his ass in this one with the kid and the dog and I freaking booed after having more wine and trying not to scream about still having no kitchen or basement.

 

Waxx is hilariously terrible as a character. I cannot even get into the why behind this character and why he is after Cubby.

 

The dialogue is typical new Koontz a la no one speaks like actual human beings but fortune cookies that are somehow sentient.

 

The flow was awful and as other reviewers have noted there are some Easter eggs in this one if you have read Koontz's backlist before. The story that Cubby writes that angers Waxx so much is an alternate title to a prior Koontz book. He (Cubby) talks shit about critics and I think that was much of Koontz shouting down his critics to his newest works.

 

The ending when it comes will not be a relief. It was just terrible and beyond stupid. I am still mad about it.

Bad Heartburn

Your Heart Belongs to Me - Dean Koontz

Apologies on all of the Dean Koontz reviews today. I am just reading books as I find them in my messy under construction house. This has led me to re-read some Koontz books (really just skim since I have read them before). I forgot how much I disliked "Your Heart Belongs to Me" until my re-read of it. A main character who I didn't care for and a BS ending just made me roll my eyes. Koontz for once didn't have a HEA ending, but the whole book felt seriously out of sync.

 

A rich man named Ryan Perry has the whole world in his pocket. He has a woman he loves (Samantha) and can do anything he wants. Then he gets sick and gets diagnosed with something that is damaging his heart. If he doesn't get a heart transplant, he is going to die. Then Ryan starts to investigate how something could have caused him to get sick and then starts running scared from an unseen enemy. When Ryan meets with a doctor who promises he can get him on the top of a heart transplant list and damn the cost, the book goes sideways from there.

 

Ryan sucks. I really didn't like him and when we figure out as readers what happens and how Ryan was "saved" I really despised the guy. I can't recall Koontz ever writing a main character this way before. Ryan and Samantha are finished after his heart transplant and you are left wondering what the hell happened. When the book skips a year later we find out what Ryan has been up to and how he wants to reach out to Samantha again. When someone starts stalking Ryan and telling him that his heart belongs to her I maybe laughed a few times. The woman and the fear that Ryan has is not scary at all. I just felt bored and hoped that the woman ended up killing Ryan so something interesting would happen.

 

Samantha is perfection in literary form. Does Koontz know how to write women any other way these days? She is also a writer so when she and Ryan ends things, he spends a lot of time dissecting her work in order to read about the subtext behind her words. I hope you like the word subtext. I think it appeared like a billion times (sarcasm).

 

There are secondary characters I can't even recall or care about too much since in the end they don't matter. We have a red herring character who was just freaking odd and terrible. A mysterious nurse whose name I am blanking on.

 

I think the biggest issue I have with this book is that I don't think Koontz knows what it wanted it to be. We have Ryan who goes from being happy and in love with Samantha to then thinking she is all femme fatale. It doesn't ring true based on what Koontz shows us and we have to wade through a ridiculous amount of red herrings to figure out what is going on. The book was overly descriptive about things I did not give a damn about. At one point I wondered did I wander into a James Patterson novel (I stopped reading that guy years ago because I don't care to read about the thread count of people's fucking bedsheets) and felt really annoyed.

 

The dialogue was painful as hell to wade through. No one talks like this and stop it!

The flow was awful too. We just skipped a ton of stuff that I think was necessary to even get a gleam of figuring out what could possibly be happening.

 

As I said the ending was terrible. Koontz should have just went dark with things and been done with it. Also there are dogs and I maybe screamed a bit about that.

Not My Favorite Christie

The Sittaford Mystery - Agatha Christie

It's weird for me to dislike Christie books, but this one did nothing for me. It was a struggle to finish. I think the main issue was that I just found the why behind who murdered an eccentric and misogynistic man (Captain Trevelyan) to be boring due to one of the main character we follow through most of the book.

 

Captain Trevelyan is found murdered after a weird seance tells the group who is holding it that he is dead. Trevelyan's long time friend and neighbor Major Burnaby goes to his home during a heavy snow and finds Trevelyan dead. Trevelyan's will leaves things to his sister and to his niece and two nephews. Questions quickly emerge about was it one of Trevelyan's family members that finally did him in for their inheritance. 

 

I was more interested when we had Inspector Narricot investigating things. He reminded me a lot of Poirot in his thinking, but the way he acted with people reminded me of Superintendent Battle. When Christie switched over to the fiancee of a man suspected of the murder (Emily) I just didn't care anymore.

 

Christie tried to throw some romance via Emily and two men during the course of the book, but in the end Emily chooses the one who I considered to be a waste. This is a common theme in Christie books though. She always has the bright young thing seemingly throwing her life away on some man that is not perfect since she will bring him up to scratch.

 

I also didn't like how we get the perspective of the person who murdered Trevelyan but with a cheat (you don't know that you are not getting the full picture until the end). Usually it seems so obvious when Christie reveals the who and the why since she props up clues along the way. This book felt very muddled to me.