Friday, March 29, 2013

Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz


Odd Thomas #5

          This is my first Odd Thomas book. I liked it, but cannot decide if I liked it well enough to put the first book in the series on my TBR list. I am definitely looking forward to the next one, though.

          This is a horror story, but includes my favorite literary device, time travel. And Odd is funny. He may have a deep familiarity with ghosts and ghouls, but he has a wonderful sense of humor. Or at least a sense of humor that tickles my fancy.

          In this story, Odd and his pregnant friend Annamaria have been invited to stay at a rich man's estate. It quickly becomes clear that this place is unusual. Odd is approached by the shade of a woman riding a huge black horse, though that is not what makes things unusual. She needs him to help her nine year old son. And yet she died decades earlier. But Annamaria concurs that the woman's nine year old son is the one Odd must help.

          But there does not appear to be a child on the estate. Odd starts doing some exploring and discovers some downright terrifying creatures are roaming the place. He also discovers that the staff are not quite what they appear to be. And, the place is filled weird machinery. He is more and more confused, but trusting Annamaria and his Gift, continues to snoop. His efforts finally pay off when he discovers a nine year old boy tucked into a room off the corner of the library mezzanine.

          Odd must rescue the boy from violent pig-apes from a future time as well as from the homicidal estate owner and staff who have figured out how to avoid aging. And once they leave the estate grounds they have no idea how being separated from the environs of the estate will affect young Timothy.

          But, escape they do, and find a new place to settle down to await Odd's next ghostly calling.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters


This book was one of a number that were recommended to me as opposed to coming off the NY Times best seller list. When I chose this one I didn't realize quite what I was getting into. It looked at first glance to be historical fiction, but upon reading the cover blurbs I discovered that it was billed as lesbian erotica. Not something I've ever read before, but the point is to broaden my horizons, so I plunged right in.

            This was very good historical fiction as well as being a sweet love story, once the love story finally got started. The first part of the book, where Nancy Astley discovers her sexual preference and falls in love for the first time with a male impersonator named Kitty, is excellent. The colors and scents are very vivid. Nancy's determination to keep her feelings to herself rather than risk losing her first love is believable. As is her discovery that Kitty feels the same about her. Kitty's later betrayal is heart wrenching.

            The middle section of the book was hard to read. Not because it was badly written. On the contrary, it made the horrible way the rich and powerful in 1890's London treated the less fortunate very clear. Nancy's experiences during that time were just depressing. At the end of that section of the story Nancy has been turned out into the London streets in winter with no coat, no money, not even having been allowed to bring her personal possessions with her.

            In the third part of the book, Nancy turns in desperation to a girl she met only once over a year earlier. After fainting on the doorstep, she is taken in by Florence and her brother. They agree to let her stay on to take care of the house and the foundling they have also taken in. Nancy slowly gets over Kitty and begins to develop feelings for Florence. She finally comes to the realization that life is neither as bad nor as good as she might have believed.

            Eventually, Florence begins to return Nancy's feelings and they start a life together.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst

Marriage To A Billionaire #1

         This was a pretty good book. No real surprises in the story line, but the characters are well written and Probst conveys their emotions effectively. I teared up a bit near the end - always a sign of good writing.

          Alexa and Nick grew up in the same neighborhood. They have known each other forever. Neither of them has an idyllic home life, but they choose to react to the differently as adults. Alexa chooses to forgive and participate in mending her family's rifts. Nick chooses to wall his emotions off and keep the world at a distance.

          Alexa and Nick each find themselves confronting different problems at the same point in time - problems that can be solved by marrying the right person. Alexa needs $150,000 to pay off her parents’ mortgage so they will not lose the family home. She could really use a rich husband right about now. Nick's uncle, primary shareholder in the family architectural firm has just died. He has left his shares to Nick on the condition that Nick marry immediately. Nick needs a wife willing to enter into a marriage contract.

          Nick's sister and Alexa's best friend, Maggie, suggests they help each other out. Nick believes Alexa is marrying him for his money. Alexa believes he is marrying her to gain his inheritance. But neither realizes the sparks that flew between them as teenagers could ignite into love.

          This is another quick, fun read. The epilogue sets up the next book, which I will happily read.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts


Inn BoonsBoro #2

          As you may know, I love Nora Roberts books. Her plot lines may be a bit formulaic, but the people and places are so rich and real that I forget about the formula. I invariably laugh out loud and cry real tears during every one of her books. Writers interested in great scenes and memorable characters should study her writing.

          This is Avery MacTavis and Owen Montgomery's story. They have known each other their whole lives. Owen was Avery's first boyfriend. He proposed to her when she was five. Now he is the organizational genius behind Montgomery Construction and she own the town's pizza parlor. Each of them is successful in their own right, but it's what happens when they come together as a team that is truly special.

          Inn BoonsBoro is nearly complete. The final details are coming together. Avery has run across the street from her restaurant, Vesta, to check it all out. She runs into Owen in one of the rooms and as they are admiring it, she is mysteriously pushed from behind and finds herself in Owen's arms. Owen finds that he has an uncontrollable need to kiss her since she is so conveniently at hand. And, the resulting sparks generated between the two of them take them both by surprise.

          But Lizzy, the ghost of Inn BoonsBoro is not surprised at all.

          The story details how Avery and Owen go from loving each other to being in love. I found it very satisfying, a little thrilling, and was a bit sad when it was over. But not too sad because I know the third book in the trilogy is coming up!


          Read my review of The Last Boyfriend, book one of the BoonsBoro trilogy, and my reviews of other Nora Roberts titles: Skin Deep, Chasing Fire, Unfinished Business, and The Witness. Also, Nora writing as JD Robb: Celebrity In Death and New York to Dallas.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King


     This is one of King's fantasies. His "once upon a time" stories are my favorites. This is a story within a story within a story. The "fairy tale" bookends the story of a group of travelers who get caught in a storm. In the middle of the adventure, a young boy is told the story to keep his mind off the terrifying events going on around him.

     A band of travelers realizes they are about to be overtaken by a storm of epic proportions. They make their way to cover but do not know if it will protect them or not. To keep their minds off the terrifying events about to rain down upon them, they cajole their leader into telling a tale from when he was just starting his travels as a youth

     He recounts the tale of his first outing as a gunslinger. He and a young partner are dispatched to deal with a shape changer who is murdering large groups of people. As they ride into town a report comes of yet another farmstead full of people dead. The gunslingers join local law enforcement in the investigation. They find many people dead. They also find one miraculous survivor - a cook's boy. The child got only a glimpse of the shape changer as he turned back into human form, but he is the closest thing they have to a lead. The gunslinger places the child inside a cell at the local jail for safekeeping. This child has heard the tales of murder and mayhem in the district. He has also heard the screams of his family and friends as they are clawed to pieces. He is thoroughly traumatized.

     While they wait for their suspect pool to arrive so the boy can look at them, the young gunslinger tells him a tale that he heard at his mother's knee: The Wind Through the Keyhole. It is a tale of sorrow and death, bravery and triumph, magic and dragons (is a group of dragons really a bonfire, or did King just make that up?). At the end of the story the boy was much calmer and had a role model for brave behavior.

     The suspects arrive at the jail, and the murderer is revealed

     The fairy tale ends, and the little group of travelers has survived the storm.

     I liked this book. I still prefer King’s The Eyes of the Dragon, but this one runs a close second. Every fantasy reader should check this one out.
     Read my review of Stephen King's 11/22/63.