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: Gone by Lisa Gardner

I know I’ve been on quite a Koontz kick (I like the sound of that) for awhile so I’m taking a (brief) breather. Gasp!

I’ve read some books by Lisa Gardner before and have forgotten how much I enjoyed them. I picked up Lisa Gardner’s Gone for a whopping $.90 at my favorite used bookstore in Knoxville, TN – McKays. It took me all of one day to read the suspenseful thriller.

Rainie Connor is missing. Her white Camry is abandoned on the side of the road, in the pouring rain with the engine running, the windshield wipers swishing and the driver’s door wide open. Her purse is on the seat. As if that’s not bad enough, her husband is ex-FBI profiler and current private consultant to law enforcement Pierce Quincy. And, they’ve been separated for about a week.

To make matters even worse, someone else is missing – seven-year-old Dougie Jones, a foster child gone wrong and expert fire-starter. Ransom is demanded of Pierce and officials are scrambling against the clock.

The action switches back and forth between what’s going on with Pierce and then what is going on with Rainie and Dougie. It’s easy to follow and builds more suspense. The book is an exciting read.

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 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.

Cell by Stephen King – a Book Review

Cell (novel)

Image via Wikipedia

Wouldn’t you know it?  Clayton Riddell has finally published a book and the world has quite literally come to an end.  A pulse is sent through all the cell phones and anyone using one goes crazy.  The “phone crazies” begin killing themselves and others in a variety of vile and creative ways, as only Stephen King can describe.  Clay begins the long walk from Boston to Kent Pond, Maine in hopes that his young son and even his ex-wife are alive and normal.  He collects some other “normies” along the way.  The phone crazies start evolving into creatures that aren’t quite as crazy and Clay and his new friends do their best to destroy as many of them as possible, including their leader in the red hoodie.  The final showdown occurs in Kashwak, Maine and it’s an explosive one.

King’s writing appeals to all the senses, as in this passage:

Above the Common Boylston Street narrowed and became so choked with cars – both those wrecked and those plain abandoned – that they no longer had to worry about kamikaze limos or rogue Duck Boats.  Which was a relief.  From all around them the city banged and crashed like New Year’s Eve in hell.  There was plenty of noise close by, as well – car alarms and burglar alarms, mostly – but the street itself was for the moment eerily deserted.

I’ve read Cell (2006) at least four times.  It’s truly one of my favorite books by Stephen King.  It reminds me of The Stand, in its armageddon-like feel.  The satirical look at cell phone usage really makes you think.

Book Review – The Blood Test

Psychologist Alex Delaware is called in to counsel the family of young Woody Swopes, who has just been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  His dysfunctional parents are rejecting the treatment options. Suddenly the family disappears, including little Woody and his nubile older sister, Nona. 

Alex, and his best friend policeman Milo Sturgis, try to locate the Swopes family so Woody can begin medical care.  The book is set in southern California, with Alex and Milo traveling from LA to the Mexican border in their search.

Along the way, Alex encounters many odd characters. Dr. Raul Melendez-Lynch, an atypical cancer specialist in charge of Woody’s care, is a volatile and unpredictable man.  Lawyer turned cult leader, Noble Matthias, still demonstrates his shrewdness under the mask of peace.  Doug Carmichael, a trim surfer and male prostitute is something of an enigma, and Sheriff Houten of the tiny town where the cult has its base sends out “weird” signals, too.

Alex also has a number of unusual adventures.  What may be out of the ordinary for many people, though, is all in a day’s work for Alex Delaware.  He is beaten by a crazy man who disapproves of Alex’s diagnosis, is given the special gift of a dead rat on his doorstep, there are numerous death threats, the murders of several key characters, Molotov cocktails that threaten Alex’s home and others, strange mutant plants, greed, drugs and incest.

Jonathan Kellerman is a master at action-packed, suspenseful novels and The Blood Test is no exception.  He utilizes humor, cunning plot twists and creativity to lead readers on an emotional journey and its surprising conclusion. 

As with all of Kellerman’s books, I loved this one.  I was surprised but pleased to find this novel published in 1986 that I had never read before.  If you love mysteries as I do, I encourage you to read The Blood Test.  You won’t be disappointed.