Monday, June 28, 2010

"Odd Thomas" by Dean Koontz

Odd Thomas is a short-order cook who can see the dead. Two people know about this sight, Wyatt the police chief, and Stormy, his girlfriend. His day is not going well. First he has to deal with Penny and her murderer, then he sees a man he nicknames “Fungus Man” in the diner eating a huge meal. To top it off, bodachs (dark, evil wraiths) come in and hang around this man. Odd knows this means there will be death and mayhem, but how much and where? Through covert investigation, Odd finds that it is going to be something big, something horrible, and it will happen on the 15th. Is there anything he can do to stop it? What will happen to his town and the people in it? Who is trying to set Odd up?
Once again, Dean Koontz writes a novel that keeps the attention of his reader. I had to keep reading to find out what happened, to find out who would survive, and who was the bad guy. This book is worth reading if you like suspense and stories of the macabre. With other books in the series, I look forward to spending time with Odd again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Curse of the Spider King" by Wayne Batson and Christopher Hopper

From the land of Allyra to planet Earth, "Curse of the Spider King" weaves the story of Elves, Dreadnaughts, Gwar, Drefids,  the Spider King, and seven seemingly normal earth-bound kids.  Hundreds of years have passed since the Spider King and his helpers drove the Elves underground. While the Elves think all of the lords, including their babies, are dead, a plot is hatched to send the seven baby lords to earth. Why would the Spider King's minions do that? What did they fear if not the King himself? Now that these seven are turning thirteen, they meet strange new people, some wanting to share information and history with them, many wishing to kill them. As their worlds are turned upside down, many questions arise. Who are the good guys? What are their hidden powers? Who will make it to Allyra? Are any other Elves still alive? These questions and more are answered within the pages of the book.

This story pulled me in from the beginning, making it difficult for me to put it down. I love a good fantasy novel, and this YA fantasy fits the bill. It not only introduced me to believable earthly characters, but to carefully crafted people and creatures from another world as well. Interwoven in the story was the history of the last battle which helps this reader understand what has happened, and what is being hoped for. I recommend this book to young adults, as well as others like me who love a good fantasy novel. I can't wait to start on Book 2 - "Venom and Song" - which is sitting here waiting for me. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"The Scent of Rain and Lightning" by Nancy Pickard

When Jody Linder was three, her father was killed and her mother disappeared. Now 26, Jody moves back into their home working to make it hers. An unexpected visit from her three uncles sets Jody's world into a chaotic spin focusing on that fateful night when she lost her parents. Billy Crosby, the man in jail for the murder, has been released and is coming home. As Jody relives memories from her childhood, Nancy Pickard shows us Jody's fears and growth, loneliness and anger. Along with her family, we also meet Valentine Crosby and her son Collin. What will happen when Billy gets back to town? Did he commit the murder and dispose of Jody's mother? What relationship is there between Jody and Collin? The book builds to a surprising climax and an ending not easily forgotten.

I absolutely loved this book! I read it on my Nook, while sharing it with my husband, and found it a quick, suspenseful, exciting read.  The characters and setting are so real that the book comes alive as you read. This is a book I will definitely read again, and I recommend it to individual readers as well as groups. It is a story you will want to discuss with others.

"The Lace Reader" by Brunonia Barry

How is reality defined? Is it the same for everyone? "The Lace Reader" is an intriguing tale filled of twists and turns that will keep you guessing what is real. Towner (Sophya) returns to town because Eva is missing, and this move dredges up the memories of her past. As she confronts the issues in her life, Towner discovers many truths about herself, her family, and abuse. The setting is Salem, MA.  where witches walk among the regular citizens, as do the "Calvinists" (a cultish group of extremist religious fanatics). Each has a part to play in Towner's reality, but which part? What really happened to Lyndley (Lyndsey)? Emma? the women on the island? and why has Towner been seeing a psychiatrist for so long? Love and forgiveness, truth and fiction, hurt and healing are all woven into the fabric of this story.

I should have known this book would be filled with twists because Towner tells us not to believe her, "I lie all the time," at the beginning of the book. There were many times when I found myself wondering what was going on because the story would change; but I guess that was like looking at the lace, seeing the vision blur, then seeing the clarity of form. I enjoyed the quotes from Eva's "Lace Reader's Guide" at the beginning of each section as they gave some insight into what was coming. I began thinking this book would be about interesting women with a special talent for seeing things in lace, and instead found a book about the effect abuse has on families. While it is interesting, it also bogged down for me at times making me lose touch with the story. While I liked this book, I enjoyed Ms. Barry's second book, "The Map of True Places," much more!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Give-away

Hi Everyone! I just discovered that I have a brand new copy of "The Heart Mender" to give away. It is a wonderful book about forgiveness and second chances, and if you would like to be put in for the drawing, please respond to this post. I will take all the entries and pull one at random on June 30th.  Good luck!

Donna  =)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The Writing Circle" by Corinne Demas

The Leopardi Circle is comprised of Bernard, Virginia, Gillian, Adam and Chris, but they are down one member. Nancy is invited to join the group and quickly finds she hasn't been properly prepared for their discussions. As they meet, different members come prepared to read their work. These snippets of writing invite the reader to understand the person behind the pen. How will each take the literary criticism sent their way? Issues of fidelity, trust, and confidence fill the book, as Ms. Demas tells us of her character's lives and loves. The reader will meet other family members and see how they truly interact with others away from the circle.  What happens when they find that someone can't be trusted? How does the book's beginning tie into its ending?
I was privileged to receive a copy of this book through Barnes and Noble's First Look program. This is the first e-book we have discussed, and I had fun reading it on my Nook. The beginning drew me as the characters and story took shape, with the story building to a climax that surprised and saddened me. I recommend this book to individuals and groups alike. There is much to discuss here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Storm Warning" by Billy Graham

Today headlines scream to us about various destructive actions of nature (earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc.), the banging for angry drums between countries, worry over the stock market and monetary systems around the world, and so many other negative things that impact our lives that it is hard to find something positive in our day. "Storm Warning" helps explain what is going on in relation to what the Bible has to say. Rev. Graham points out that first, man needs to accept salvation through Christ to provide security for the future, then he can understand what is happening. Rev. Graham took the time to update his original book to be reflective of today's concerns, and then also explains about the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse."
I enjoyed reading this book. It is heavy, intense, and thought provoking, but also full of explanation. I was drawn into Rev. Graham's descriptions of his crusades in Germany, etc. It was fascinating to read about those open doors and the many people who accepted Christ as their Savior. While I have studied and heard many messages about the four horsemen, I also found myself drawn into his descriptions of the end times. This book is for anyone who wants to understand more about the dilemmas occurring around them and the Biblical solutions available to all. It would be great for book discussion groups.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larssen

This novel begins with the Wennerstrom scandal and works its way into the Vangar family secrets. Throughout the maze of crime and passion, two characters work to uncover the truth. Lisbeth Salander and Mikail Blomkvist, unlikely companions, find themselves drawn into not only one missing person's case, but also into industrial espionage. While both cases are separate, Salander and Blomkvist work together on the solutions.  There are many twists and turns to the climax of each case. What they find can tear them apart or bring them together. It might even be the death of them.

I had a very hard time getting into this novel, probably because there were so many people to try to keep track of. But, I was determined to keep trying because of the recommendations I had been given. It finally caught my attention about a third of the way in and by the half way point, I couldn't put it down! While I did figure out parts, there were twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I will eventually read the other two books in the series, which means, I guess I am hooked too.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The Map of True Places" by Brunonia Barry

"It is not down in any map; true places never are."
                                   --Herman Melville

"The Map of True Places" is a wonderfully woven tale of love, loss, and finding where you belong. Zee is a psychologist working to help people understand and change unhealthy behaviors. She is also dealing with a mother who committed suicide, a gay father with Parkinson's Disease which is adding Alzheimer's to its repertoire, an engagement that doesn't seem to fit, and learning to be a caregiver. With all of this and more going on,  Zee works to find her "true place."  Why does she feel guilty about Lily, and who is following her?

I really enjoyed this book! Brunonia Barry did a lot of research and produced a believable story that held my attention all the way through. There is a decidedly nautical theme with each section introduced by interesting navigation information, and has a setting that moves around the Boston/Salem area of MA. There were times I was cheering for the characters, and moments when I was sad or worried. Individuals and groups alike will enjoy the story and the interesting facts and tidbits woven throughout. You really should take the time to come meet Zee, Mattei, Finch, Melville, Jessina, and Hawke. They, and others, have a story to tell.