The More You Read . . .


“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

~ Dr. Seuss –  “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”


Book Review: Dragon Tears by Dean Koontz

Dragon Tears

Image via Wikipedia

I never fail to be amazed at the mind-bending twists and turns that each of Dean Koontz‘s books brings. Just when I thought his writing couldn’t get any weirder or stranger, along comes Dragon Tears. The title comes from an interesting Chinese quote mentioned several times in the book: “Sometimes life can be as bitter as dragon tears. But whether dragon tears are bitter or sweet depends entirely on how each man perceives the taste.”

Bryan Drackman is going to rule the world. He is perfect and all-powerful – literally. Able to manipulate time and matter, the twenty-year-old is the ultimate man. His only flaws are that he never really grew up and he has a passion for junk food. Unfortunately, police detectives and partners, Harry Lyon and Connie Gulliver, cross his path and anger him, setting in motion a deadly game that they cannot win. 

Becoming different shape-shifting creatures, Bryan torments the homeless because no one will miss them when he destroys them and they are unlikely to report him either. Who would believe them anyway?

Sammy Shamroe sees the “ratman.” Janet Marco and her five-year-old son, Danny, see a threatening Laguna Beach cop. Woofer the stray dog sees “the bad man.” Connie and Harry see a disgusting giant vagrant. Only Jennifer, the blind, crazy woman in the nursing home, knows the truth.

Eventually all the tormented gather and plan Bryan’s demise. Woofer becomes an unlikely hero.

Lots of action and unbelievable suspense mark this novel. It’s a great read.

Book Review: Breathless by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Breathless: A Novel"

Cover of Breathless: A Novel

Yes, I know I tend to go on and on about Dean Koontz, but the man’s a genius. After attempting to read two of Peter Straub‘s books and positively dragging through them I gave up.

Luckily I came across Breathless. There is mystery here but not really horror. There is more wonder and excitement. This book took me all of about four hours to read. Yet another book I couldn’t put down.

Strange things are happening. Grady Adams and his dog, Merlin, have two unusual intruders and they are not evil. Dr. Cammy Rivers, the local veterinarian, witnesses bizarre, trance-like behavior in some rescue dogs and in animals on a nearby farm. Henry Rouvroy returns to visit his twin and his wife after many years’ separation and goes berserk.

Cammy and Grady name the creatures “Puzzle” and “Riddle.” They have solid white fur and black hands and feet. Their hands are like primate hands, they are extremely intelligent and curious. They like to be cuddled and are interested in how things work. The dog loves them.

The beautiful beings inspire Cammy to contact two colleagues for advice who, in turn, are compelled to notify the authorities. The Department of Homeland Security brings all reinforcements to inspect these creatures.

What I really like about this story is the element of fantasy that, maybe, could even be real. Who knows?

Book Review: Hideaway by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Hideaway"

Cover of Hideaway

I loved the quote at the very end of Hideaway by Dean Koontz – “After that, everything got weird.” Actually, though, I think this quote belongs at the beginning of the book because it is definitely weird. A combination of medical science, murder, psychics, Satanism and more make this Koontz book a thrilling read.

Lindsey and Hatch Harrison are slowly putting their lives back together after the death of their five-year-old son several years ago from cancer. Lindsey is a successful artist and Hatch operates an antique gallery. Then, a car accident changes things dramatically for the couple. Hatch is dead for eighty minutes before he is “reanimated” by Dr. Jonas Nyebern, a specialist in the field. 

Hatch recovers amazingly quickly and the only side effect he has are vividly strange dreams where he seems to occupy the body of another man. The other man is Vassago, a prince of Hell, who is an accomplished murderer. His latest victims include everyone that angers Hatch and Lindsey. Vassago also sees Hatch’s life through his eyes. Neither man understands what is going on. Lindsey and Hatch try to solve the mystery. Vassago seeks Lindsey and Hatch and their newly adopted daughter, Regina, to kill them all and bring them to his “hideaway,” the abandoned fun house in a defunct amusement park.

A brilliant twist of writing connects Vassago and Dr. Nyebern in an ironic way, adding to the drama. This book is a roller coaster ride of the wildest kind. Buckle up and hang on!

Book Review: Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Winter Moon"

Cover of Winter Moon

As you can tell from my book reviews, I have become a huge Dean Koontz fan. When I discovered Winter Moon for a quarter at my favorite used bookstore, I was thrilled both to be getting another Koontz book I hadn’t read AND it only was twenty-five cents. It turns out I was fortunate on both counts.

The frenetic pace of this book kept me occupied – dare I say obsessed – until I finished it. I am always enthralled when reading Koontz’s books but I truly could not put this book down. All my favorite elements are present here – mystery, murder, gore, humor, fantasy, sci-fi and drama. I will probably have to reread it soon since I skimmed some parts to get to the action more quickly.

Jack McGarvey, a Los Angeles policeman, is shot down while on a call. After months of hard recuperation, he and his wife, Heather and their son, Toby, learn that they have inherited a multi-million dollar estate in Montana from Jack’s deceased partner’s dad. Ready for a change from the gang-ridden and dangerous city, the family packs up, pays their large medical bills and other mounting debts and moves out to the country.

The farm is beautiful. The Victorian home, caretaker’s house and barn are breathtaking. Eight-year-old Toby gets the golden retriever he always wanted but could never have in the city. Everyone is healthy again. However (of course), things are not as perfect as they seem. Strange feelings of dread, hypnotizing sights and sounds from the TVs and computer are confusing and frightening and the decayed smell from parts of the house are disturbing. Then, when Heather discovers a journal hidden in the freezer noting even stranger events documented by Eduardo Fernandez before he died of a massive heart attack, things get really interesting.

An evil alien force seeks to control the family, both mentally and physically. It seems impervious to destruction but they use all the resources they have in the attempt. It’s a wild ride.

Book Series Review: Frankenstein by Dean Koontz

Cover of "Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Fra...

Cover via Amazon

I’ve never reviewed a whole series before. But, I’ve never read a series like Frankenstein before, either. I am one of those people who has to read a series in order and I really like to have the next book ready after I finish one. This proved to be a challenge with this series. I had bought Book One: prodigal son on a whim at my favorite used bookstore without really thinking about it. When I was halfway through, I realized I needed the second book, city of night. I scoped out the shelves at the library and of course, the book was not there. However, I did pick up the third and fourth ones, dead and alive and lost souls. I called a nearby bookstore and they had the book. After work, I got it! Well, kept reading and reading and realized there was a fifth book, the dead town, that I hadn’t been aware of. So, again, checked with the library and no dice. Again, went to the bookstore and got the book. Whew!

The books actually were planned as a cable TV series so the first two books have a co-writer. As things were approaching a stalemate in that venue, Dean Koontz felt the story wasn’t progressing as well as he wanted it to and that he discovered that he “didn’t work well with others” (his words), so he dropped the TV stuff and went for a book series. There are several references in the series to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so that’s now on my “to read” list that gets longer by the day.

In this version of Frankenstein, Michael Maddison and Carson O’Connor, detectives with the New Orleans Police Department, are called upon to investigate a series of unique murders, where victims are missing specific body parts. Through their investigation, they are joined by Deucalion, a 200-year-old conglomerate of a man created by none other than Frankenstein. Deucalion, Michael and Carson suspect that Victor Helios Frankenstein Leben Immaculate (subsequent last names in each book) has resumed the creation of a super-race with modern technology.

Victor’s fifth identical lab-created wife, Erika 5 (the first four didn’t work out and were destroyed), and her cohort, Jocko, the tumor creature extruded from another of Victor’s malfunctioning New Race beings, team up with the crew to eliminate Victor and his demonic creations in a righteously cruel and fascinating manner.

Although from very disgusting and disturbing origins, Jocko is quite a likeable character and provides great comic relief to gruesome details of the story. My favorite tidbit about Jocko is the fact that he is petrified of Johnny Depp.

Carson and Michael get married, have a baby and run their own private detective agency in San Francisco. Erika 5 and Jocko live a “normal” life as a family in Rainbow Falls, Montana. When Victor is vanquished, life goes on for all. Happy ending, right? Wrong, of course. The gang is reunited two years later in Rainbow Falls, where a new breed of creature is taking over the town. A “new and improved” Victor is to blame. He must be stopped for good and his goons along with him.

I do not know where Dean Koontz’s imagination will take him next. These books are a wonderful mixture of horror, thriller, mystery, science fiction, fantasy and humor that must be experienced to be believed. The ending of the series is a little too “pat” for me but all loose ends are tied up nicely. I just loved these books and was sad the series ended. For me, Frankenstein is one of my favorite book series ever.

This book is hilarious!

I’m almost finished with A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I had read a review of it and thought it looked pretty amusing, as well as being about the New Orleans French Quarter that I love. I’ll post more when I’m finished but this book is so nutty and inane. I tried to describe one scene to my husband and laughed so hard trying to tell him that I couldn’t catch my breath and cried.

Review: A Porcupine Named Fluffy

Published in 1986 and wonderfully illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester is a delightful picture book that will entrance readers and listeners alike.  Fluffy the porcupine is distressed that his appearance doesn’t live up to his name and he tries to become what he is not – fluffy.  He meets a new friend, a rhinoceros named Hippo, with the same problem.  In the end, they are able to laugh at themselves and accept themselves for who they are.

With a great object lesson for children (and many adults!), this is a book that will be read over and over.  The illustrations that accompany the text are adorable.  Read it!  You’ll be glad you did.