Saturday, August 24, 2013

Deeply Odd was deeply enjoyable

Deeply Odd (Odd Thomas, #6)Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Deeply Odd was deeply enjoyable.

It's been a while since I read an Odd Thomas book. I skipped "Odd Apocalypse" because, frankly, I wasn't in the mood for an apocalyptic read. So when I saw this one at my local library, I decided it was time for a return to the world of a uniquely sweet young man who "sees the spirits of the lingering dead."

Honestly--unlike some of the reviews I've read on here--I think "Deeply Odd" is one of my favorites in the series.

Although there was the requisite evil and the horrific tragedy Odd needs to avert, it was also infused with a spirit of hope and goodness.

The book leaves the enigmatic Annamaria in the background. (She's the pregnant young woman that he befriended a couple of books ago. Enigmatic almost to the point of being annoying, I might add.)

It also introduces a wonderful new character that I hope sticks around...the elderly, but feisty and sparkling, Edie Fischer. Edie is also enigmatic and mysterious, but also down-to-earth and very likable.

For example, after the story's suspenseful and nerve-wracking climax, this exchange:

Edie: "How do you feel, Oddie?"
Odd: "Starved. I need a big pile of breakfast."
Edie: "First you need a shower, dear, so the rest of us will have the stomach to take breakfast at the same table with you."

A new ghost is also introduced (in the past, Odd has helped ghosts like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra pass over to the other side), and there's a new, awesome twist with this one. Plus, he seems to be even more helpful to Odd than some of the spirits in past books.

One of the criticisms I've read has been that Odd didn't ever seem to be in very much danger. Umm, did you read the same book I did? I would think being relentlessly pursued by a bloodthirsty demon would qualify as "dangerous."

I actually appreciated that the story seemed to be a tad less chaotic than some of the "Odd" books. For me, the main attraction of an Odd Thomas book is Odd himself. His thoughts, his ponderings, his humor, his unique outlook on the world. All that I got in spades.

Another criticism was that "not enough questions were answered." The better to keep us buying the next books, maybe?

As for the element of hope? Previous Odd Thomas books have held the gloomy undertone that the world as we know it is being overtaken my evil. "Deeply Odd" revealed that the good is out there too, and working just as hard.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Lauren Willig's "The Ashford Affair"

The Ashford AffairThe Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two books came out at about the same time, both set in Africa in the 20s. I couldn't finish one of them--Deanna Raybourn's A Spear of Summer Grass--but I really enjoyed the other, Lauren Willig's The Ashford Affair.

I'm normally a big Deanna Raybourn fan. I love her Lady Julia series. Lady Julia is an eminently likable character, and her husband Brisbane is one of the most attractive male characters ever--brooding, mysterious, very cool.

But I had to quit reading A Spear of Summer Grass simply because I didn't like the characters. I had no sympathy or connection whatever with Delilah, and her male love interest just bored me. Definitely no Brisbane.

On the other hand, The Ashford Affair captured me immediately. I liked the main character, Clementine, very much. As for the characters from the past (the 1920's), I wasn't crazy about any of them, but I was vitally interested in their story.

Addie is one of the most multi-dimensional characters I've encountered in fiction. Kind of like real life--few people are totally good or bad. Addie had her likable, admirable qualities, but definitely her questionable ones as well.

Bea was much like Delilah in Raybourn's book, but unlike Delilah, she had to face the consequences of her selfish, devil-my-care attitude.

Altogether, an entertaining and absorbing tale.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My review of "The Historian," by Elizabeth Kostova

The HistorianThe Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read so many rave reviews of this book, I went into it with great anticipation...despite the fact that vampires are not usually my thing.

Ultimately, despite good writing and a basically interesting storyline, I found myself disappointed.

The daughter in the book doesn't feel fully fleshed out at all. Did it ever even mention her name?

I did like the narrator, her father, very much, and Helen was a terrific character.

There were times that I read eagerly and couldn't wait to see what would happen next. Other times, I felt like I was plodding through a dull textbook that barely held my interest.

Then when we finally get to meet the object of everyone's interest, fear, research, etc, it feels like an anticlimax...and not even as frightening as you might think.

I think the book would have greatly benefitted by shrinking it down to about half its size.

I don't regret reading it, but it didn't live up to my expectations. And unlike a lot of other readers, I actually preferred her sophomore book, "The Swan Thieves" to this one.

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