Dacula Patch Book Club: Horror, Romance and Regrets in This Week’s Selections

What have you been reading this week?

Thanks to all of you who shared your book recommendations in . I haven’t been back to the library yet, but I have my ready to go.

During my last trip to the Hamilton Mill library, I checked out several new books hoping to have better luck than I did on the previous visit. Overall, I would say this week’s selections are an improvement, but given how bad the previous set was that isn’t saying much.

Anyway, here are my mini-reviews of what I read this week. Please let me know what you have been reading this past week -- good and bad -- by posting a comment below or sharing your thoughts in a blog.

“House of Reckoning” by John Saul - Verdict: Ambivalent. On the one hand, the book was interesting enough to keep my attention. On the other hand, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking and really felt like any number of books I have read previously. It isn’t particular spooky either, which was disappointing given the ghostly “horror” sticker GCPL cleverly places on the spines of the creepier books. The main character of the book is a young girl named Sarah who ends up in a foster home after her mother dies and her father drinks himself into a funk that ultimately lands him in prison after accidentally killing another man and nearly killing Sarah. Sarah’s foster family, needless to say, is no Brady Bunch and Sarah finds a kindred spirit in Nick, a boy that most of the town believes is insane. There are no real scares in the book and, in the end, I almost felt like I was watching an old Vincent Price movie -- old school horror I guess you would say. If you’re really bored, it’ll do. Otherwise, there are better, scarier books out there.

“Some Like It Scot” by Donna Kauffman – Verdict: Pleasantly diverting. I passed by this book several times on various trips to the library before I finally gave in and checked it out. The plot is, even for a romance novel, ridiculous. A handsome, charming, rich Scotsman has to find a bride from another clan by a certain date in order to fulfill the terms of a 400-year-old marriage pact through which he is currently allowed to be the “laird” of a Scottish island. My Alabama-born eyes kept wanting to read that as “lard,” which is of course very different from what a laird actually is. Anyway, our handsome Scotsman heads to the U.S. of A. to track down a descendant of the appropriate clan and convince her to marry him. Naturally, it all works out and ends happily ever after as romance novels are wont to do. What made this novel refreshing was how honest the two main characters were with each other. You get so used to all the beating around the bush that typically transpires in these type novels, that it is actually surprising when both parties admit their attraction almost immediately. It was a fun read despite the somewhat weird parts involving visions of their past life together (parts which I suspect were some kind of homage to “The Outlander,” but am not sure since I’ve yet to read that book). By the way, if you are familiar with the song “The Scotsman,” I promise you’ll be humming it as you read this book. I’m pretty sure this Scotsman would be a blue-ribbon prize winner -- at least he would be the way I have him painted in my mind.

“Odd Apocalypse” by Dean Koontz – Verdict: Regrettable. As in, I regret reading it. Remember how I mentioned that I was an Odd Thomas fan? Well, that is all in the past now. Koontz has ruined that character for me. On page one, a ghost rider on a giant, black, ghost stallion confronts Odd. Eight pages in, Odd is being chased by a weird flock of bat-like flying monsters. And then it gets weird. I should have put the book down and walked away, but I wanted it to be good. I wanted Koontz to redeem himself. I wanted to be entertained. What I got instead was a headache. The book, in a nutshell, is about a psychotic, murderous pervert who enlists the help of Nikola Tesla (Yes, THE Nikola Tesla) to create a time traveling machine that also reverses the effects of aging and does a bunch of other weird stuff I cannot explain. Alfred Hitchcock, as a ghost, also makes an appearance for no explicable reason. The end result -- Koontz has now been blacklisted. That’s right. I have an author blacklist and he is now on it.

Now it is your turn. What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments.

You might also be interested in reading:

Nikki August 22, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I've gone classic mystery this summer and am currently working my way through Agatha Christie's Poirot novels. While they are very easy to read, it reminds me of what classic murder mysteries used to be. They really do stand the test of time. There are several that I am actually reading for the first time and I'm always pleasantly surprised when I don't figure out the ending. Christie set the bar high for modern day murder mystery authors. I have yet to be as surprised/shocked at an ending by a contemporary author as I am by Christie.
Kristi Reed (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 06:32 PM
That's true - those books really do stand the test of time. It has been ages since I read one, but you have made me want to check one out next time I am at the library.
Mitch August 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I blacklisted Mr. Koontz a few years ago. I used to love his books 15-20 years ago when I was in High School/College. He really hasn't done anything good for over 10 years now. I do remember liking the first Odd Thomas and maybe the second but I haven’t read any after that, and going by your review of this latest one it sounds awful. My favorites used to be Lightning and I think Strangers.
Kristi Reed (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Mitch - You are so right. I feel the same way about Grisham and Clancy. They were good early on, but not now. My favorite Koontz books are Lightning and the first Odd Thomas. And yes, this one was awful. Odd barely seemed like the same character. It was quite a disappointment.
Mitch August 22, 2012 at 08:44 PM
Yes, Grisham is a great example of this degrading as well. Great book after great book and then...off a cliff they go. I thought maybe it was just me changing interests over time, but I think some of these great authors tend to get tired of what they do so they try something slightly different and new and it's bad and then they can't get back to being good again. Kind of like so many music bands who have a great first album or two and then they are terrible.
Rosemary Cantrell August 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
This week I finished reading The Innocent by David Baldacci. I really like it. It is a story of an assassin who works for US government. He is sent on an assignment that doesn't feel right (killing a local woman who is a government employee) and backs out at the last minute. A sniper kills her anyway and the race is on - who ordered the hit, why is he being chased, who is responsible for turning several US government people, how do his past assignments play in here? And of course, the big one is why has he suddenly attached himself to a very street smart young teenage girl whose parents have also been murdered. I found it really good, if you like thrillers like this. There were lots of threads that all came together in the end, but not in a totally predictable way (well, some of it I predicted, but there were still a couple of surprises.).
Kristi Reed (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 03:04 PM
That sounds interesting Rosemary! Nice mini-review! I've read a few Baldacci novels and enjoyed them. I'll have to give that one a try.


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