Sunday, September 24, 2017

A year ago...

OK, time to revive this hibernating blog! First let me explain the reason behind my long lapse in posting. Starting in January last year, I began reading the Game of Thrones (GoT) book series because I became so enthralled with the show. Also, I started focusing more on my paper-flower business Closet Full of Crafts, as well as working more hours in my day/evening job as an academic advisor. Just in the past month, my city (Houston) has been dealing with Hurricane Harvey's aftermath in which I lost 2 vehicles to flood water, not to mention a paycheck because of my workplace being closed. My home was surrounded by flooding yet remained unscathed, thank the stars. Others were not so lucky. I've since been able to replace both vehicles, and life is getting back to normal.

I didn't post any reviews of the GoT books because, considering the immense popularity of both the books and the show, I didn't want to spill any secrets or be tempted to get carried away in the comparison (something quite easy to do!).

I'm just now wrapping up the last available book in the series, A Dance With Dragons. The books helped remedy my withdrawals while waiting for each season to premier. But now, I fear the burning yearning will be prolonged seeing as how the series won't be back until 2019 AND Martin is still not done with the next book Winds of Winter, which he hinted might not be out until 2018 or later. (Double ouch!)

All I'll say is that the show and the books are both outstanding and provided me a double thrill because each has a unique story line. Over the last year, I've only managed to read a couple other books outside of GoT, including The Count of Monte Cristo and a non-fiction book titled The End of Diabetes by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (which I might review soon) into my narrow reading schedule.

Anyway, as for GoT, I'm in love. I'll spit you a short list of my likes and dislikes regarding just the books, and I'll try to avoid spoilers.

Likes:

  • The story line remains a multi-faceted network of shocks and twists. You almost never know where Tyrion will end up or with whom.
  • Daenerys is still alive. 
  • Jon Snow is still alive.
  • No part of it is ever boring. Just when you think you feel a yawn coming on, boom! 
  • The dialogue is very believable. This is important to me because dialogue is not easy to write and get right. 
  • Even with just words, Martin makes me feel like I'm watching a show with his vivid and clever wordplay. 
  • Martin is a master at naming characters and places. Casterly Rock, The Vale, Winterfell, Dragonstone, and on and on. As a writer, I can tell you, it's not easy to come up with names that aren't overdone or simply annoying. Eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Dislikes:

  • WAY too many characters mentioned to keep up with. My head spins with the amount of names I encounter, many of which are just temporary scene fodder, but it makes it confusing at times. 
  • I don't enjoy the part about Arya joining and training to be part of the Faceless cult. I find it tedious both to watch and read about, even though the outcome is quite awesome. 
*Bonus list

Loves (books and show):

  • Dragons! I love, love, love dragons.
  • The Night King. I have a kind of sick crush on him. He is a total badass who terrifies and fascinates me. 
  • The way Tormund flirts with Brienne of Tarth! LOVE that. I'm not a romantic, but this one is just too adorbs. I hope neither or them die. =/
  • The new Arya. *wink*
  • The fact that Sansa finally grows a pair (a bigger pair, anyway) and does the right thing.
  • Watching Daenerys grow into her role as a queen. She is amazing. 
  • Tyrion. His snark is magnificent and one thing I can always rely on.
  • Romance isn't a prime focus. 
  • Jon Snow. What isn't there to love. 

I'd love to hear what you love/hate/dislike/like about the books and/or series.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

This is a book review of the novel Brother Odd by Dean Koontz, the third book in the Odd Thomas series.

Synopsis from Amazon: Loop me in, odd one. The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favorite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature. 
 
As he steadfastly journeys toward his mysterious destiny, Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself.

Firstly, I'll start by saying there will be SPOILERS in this review, so you've been warned. I actually read this book in January, but I'm just getting around to writing the review. So far, I have really enjoyed this series. Koontz has a way with storytelling like no other. It didn't take long for him to become one of my favorite authors. 

This book picks up after the tragic events of Forever Odd in which his beloved Stormy is murdered by gunmen who reined terror on a mall in a mass shooting. Odd managed to stop them, but in the process he lost the most important person in his life. The ending of that novel shook me. If you only ever read one of these books, I'd suggest that one. In this book, Odd decided to spend some time in a monastery near the mountains to clear his mind and avoid the heroic reputation and attention he'd earned after the mall incident. His interactions with nuns and monks is humorous and touching. I love how he never loses his self-directed mockery and sarcastic yet respectful way of addressing those he doesn't trust, namely one guest at the abbey named Romanovich. Their interactions are witty and bold. Odd finally met his match with the lip service. 

Only a few know Odd's secret, that he can see the lingering dead. During his stay, he befriends a ghost dog who leads him in his quests of psychic magnetism. His connection to these lingering spirits and the dark ones he calls bodachs help him solve murders at the abbey. Suspicion fell upon the wrong individuals when among them was one brilliant mind using his monastery salvation and solitude to create mechanical monsters with his extensive knowledge of science and engineering. He was trying to play God. These creations attack innocents who learn of them and aim to destroy the abbey's children, one of which is the creator's autistic son about whom he doesn't seem to care.

What I enjoyed most this time was how Koontz managed to brew the perfect recipe of sci-fi, thriller, and horror into one scrumptious read. I enjoyed every page of this novel. 

Just today, I finished reading the next one in the series. So stay tuned for a review of Odd Hours


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: Forever Odd by Dean Koontz


Synopsis from Amazon: I see dead people. But then, by God, I do something about it. Odd Thomas never asked for his special ability. He’s just an ordinary guy trying to live a quiet life in the small desert town of Pico Mundo. Yet he feels an obligation to do right by his otherworldly confidants, and that’s why he’s won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death. But when a childhood friend disappears, Odd discovers something worse than a dead body and embarks on a heart-stopping battle of will and wits with an enemy of exceptional cunning. In the hours to come there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope. 
 
You’re invited on an unforgettable journey through a world of terror and transcendence to wonders beyond imagining. And you can have no better guide than Odd Thomas



Yet again, I find myself hooked to a series. This time, I'm thinking, "Why didn't I discover this one sooner?" I've been missing out all these years. 

Forever Odd is book 2 in the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. This one started off a bit slow, in my opinion, but (and that's a big but), it picked up momentum quickly. 

SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

So his friend was kidnapped and the friend's stepfather murdered. His leads were not bodachs this time around. This book was more focused on his psychic magnetism. As much as I like hearing about the creepy bodachs, I didn't get a large dose in this novel. Koontz made up for it tenfold, though. 

Odd's senses and the kidnapper's demands led him to believe that he must follow all the leads alone. Hence, a lack of involvement from Chief Porter until the very end. Odd chases the bad guys (and gal) solo with no weapons. So, no bodach, no Chief Porter. Again, just when I thought it was going to be a weak tale, it definitely was not. 

Basically, a sadistic woman had charmed his friend Danny via a phone sex hotline, and Danny told her Odd's life story because she mentioned she was into the whole ghost and spirit thing. Naturally, he saw an opportunity to impress her and win some points, so he took it, not thinking she'd morph it into a murderous cat-and-mouse chase at a deserted hotel in the middle of nowhere with him tied to a chair that was linked to a bomb and Odd's imminent death as part of her evil plan. 

This was where things started to get very interesting, as in, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Datura, the villain, and her 2 thug companions used Danny to lure Odd to the hotel in hopes he could make her dreams of seeing ghosts come true. That's all this crazy lady wanted. That's all this whole thing was about, her fascination with spooks and the fact that Odd was the closest thing to them she had heard of thus far, thanks to Danny. She needed Odd as a medium. She wanted to connect with the other side, to see their dead faces, experience the horror as nothing more than a thrill. 

Likes
- One thing that amazed me about this story was that Koontz was able to create an entire novel just based on their activities inside this old motel. 
- His description of the floors and stairwells and dark corners and lifts had me thinking he has some intricate knowledge of architecture. When a writer can create such a feeling, you know he's a master of his trade. 
- I also enjoy Koontz's writing because he provides such imaginative descriptions, it makes me feel like I'm watching a movie, not reading a book in my hands. 
- His vocabulary is mountainous. I always learn new words when reading his books. He's good at ending chapters with a twist to make you want to continue reading. 
- He provides the unpredictable turns that make the story remarkable. When I read Koontz, I always pause at certain scenes, close my eyes, and try to predict what will happen next or how the protagonist with get himself out of a seemingly impossible situation. I am almost always wrong, which is exactly what I want, the element of surprise. 

The only dislike I had was the fact that I didn't have book 3 waiting. I went to the book store the next day, and they didn't have it. *sad face* So I ordered it on Amazon, and it should be in my mailbox by Wednesday next week, two-day shipping thwarted by it being the Christmas holidays, but no worries. It'll be worth the way. And I'll tell you all about it when the time comes. In the meantime, I'm indulging in some sci-fi.

Happy reading!