The Peach Keeper review

peach

Goodreads:  Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

Started this book over last night at work because I had barely gotten through the first chapter when circumstances forced me to stop.  It was no reflection on the book, I promise.

I knew by the end of the third chapter that I was not going to get the book finished at work because I started it too late in the shift.  As always, I promised myself that I would only read it for an hour when I got home but I ended up reading three hours until finished.

The story is an old one – people who have misconceptions about each other based on impressions they got during high school.  It centers around four people in general: The Joker, the Stick Man, the Princess and the Freak which is actually the name of one of the chapters.

There isn’t much I didn’t like about the story.  As usual, Allen weaves a touch of the magical through the book which I always find delightful.  In fact, if it weren’t for the slightly magical tidbits she adds, I don’t know that I would read her.  The stories are good but that little twist gives me an upbeat, warm feeling that there more to this wondrous world we live in.  It enchants me.

In fact, that is my only complaint about this book – there wasn’t enough magic in it compared to her other books.  The characters weren’t overly amazing as far as amazing characters go.  It was hard not to like them and no doubt each reader will be able to identify with one more strongly than the others.

Overall, I liked the book and give it an A.  I often recommend Allen to my friends and family as one of those writers who is perfect for a cold winter night or a day at the beach.  You can sit back and enjoy the story from the first page all the way to the end – like a magical carpet ride.

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Buddha’s Brain review

buddhas brain

Goodreads:

With the new breakthroughs in neuroscience, combined with the insights from thousands of years of contemplative practice, you, too, can shape your own brain for greater happiness, love, and wisdom.

Buddha’s Brain joins the forces of modern science with ancient teachings to show readers how to have greater emotional balance in turbulent times, as well as healthier relationships, more effective actions, and a deeper religious or spiritual practice.

Well-referenced and grounded in science, the book is full of practical tools and skills readers can use in daily life to tap the unused potential of the brain-and rewire it over time for greater peace and well-being.

If you can change your brain, you can change your life

Well, I don’t know where to begin with any of this.  This book has some great pointers and information about attaining a greater balance in your life and how to have healthier relationships.  The problem is, I found it so hard to follow and understand with any degree of usefulness.  While it says it is for the common layperson, I found it to be difficult.

That said, it isn’t a bad book – just not something that I could get into.

The Taking review

The Taking

Goodreads: In one of the most dazzling books of his celebrated career, Dean Koontz delivers a masterwork of page-turning suspense that surpasses even his own inimitable reputation as a chronicler of our worst fears—and best dreams. In The Taking he tells the story of a community cut off from a world under siege, and the terrifying battle for survival waged by a young couple and their neighbors as familiar streets become fog-shrouded death traps. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant in the face of mankind’s darkest hour, here is a small-town slice-of-doomsday thriller that strikes to the core of each of us to ask: What would you do in the midst of The Taking.

On the morning that will mark the end of the world they have known, Molly and Niel Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now they rise to find a luminous silvery downpour drenching their small California mountain town. A strange scent hangs faintly in the air, and the young couple cannot shake the sense of something wrong.

As hours pass and the rain continues to fall, Molly and Niel listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. Before evening, their little town loses television and radio reception. Then telephone and the Internet are gone. With the ceaseless rain now comes an obscuring fog that transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. By nightfall the Sloans have gathered with some of their neighbors to deal with community damage…but also because they feel the need to band together against some unknown threat, some enemy they cannot identify or even imagine. 

In the night, strange noises arise, and at a distance, in the rain and the mist, mysterious lights are seen drifting among the trees. The rain diminishes with the dawn, but a moody gray-purple twilight prevails. Soon Molly, Niel, and their small band of friends will be forced to draw on reserves of strength, courage, and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a terrifying instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency. Epic in scope, searingly intimate and immediate in perspective, The Taking is an adventure story like no other, a relentless roller-coaster read that brings apocalypse to Main Street and showcases the talents of one of our most original and mesmerizing novelists at the pinnacle of his powers

If you go completely by what Goodreads says about the plot of the book – it sounds like it would be the perfect cold winter night read.  It sounds scary, suspenseful and intriguing.  What aliens is Koontz bringing us this time? What will they do to mankind? What is their motive?  Sounds good, right?

WRONG.  This has to be one of the worst Koontz books I have ever read.  It was published in 2007 and, in my opinion, escalated the fall of a previously wonderful author.  Koontz introduced me to the world of horror fiction – King added to it but Koontz was my favorite.  Why he ever strayed from the good stuff, I will never understand though I did hear one person say that when an author tries to cash in on their popularity, they write more books and to do that, the quality has to go down plus they start to run out of ideas.

This book had very poor character development – a plot that couldn’t seem to find it’s way through the maze and ridiculous religious overtones that did nothing for the religious world.  The writing just plainly sucked.

Oh the two main characters were likable enough and I could empathize with their circumstances but by mid book I was so bored that I didn’t give two hoots whether they survived or not.  Really found it hard to finish the book – there were so many plot holes and untidy strings that I even asked myself if maybe the book was one Koontz wrote in high school and decided to see if his fans would notice.

People spending their hard-earned money to buy this book must have buoyed his confidence that his fans would buy anything he bothered putting out so why go for quality?

Very disappointed in the book and quit reading Koontz some time ago.  I was given this book so figured I’d give it a second try but hated it just as much the second time around.  It won’t find a home in my bookcase.  I hated it and give the book a big, fat D-.  Have to say, that is the first “D-” I have ever given a book.

Anna Dressed In Blood review

Goodreads:

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

Everyone has been raving about this book so I figured I would read it.  It is harold as an “awesome” YA ghost story so I went in with high expectations.  How intriguing to be a ghost who was murdered and now haunts her old house – but Anna isn’t any ghost, she is a killer ghost who hates to kill.

This book did not disappoint.  I have to say I loved it as much as I loved “The Shadowing: Hunted” – Anna is such a beautiful sounding girl who sincerely does not want to kill those who enters her house but is under a curse so has no choice.

Cas is a ghost banisher in that he “kills” ghosts who are a threat to people.  It has been his job for as long as he can remember, as it was his father’s and his grandfather’s before him.   His mother supports his need to banish the ghosts, picking up and traveling wherever Cas needs to go.

Cas and Anna seemed doomed to fight each other forever but find that they have too much in common to hurt the other.  I loved the story buildup and their relationship which we all know is an impossible one but isn’t that often times the case?

Wonderful writing, superb character development and awesome detail make this book a wonderful read.  I highly recommend it!  I give Anna Dressed In Blood an A+

Deadly Night review

Goodreads:

Aidan Flynn, a private investigator and eldest of the Flynn brothers, scoffs at the rumors the New Orleans plantation his family has inherited is haunted. After he finds a human bone on the grounds, Aidan is joined by the tarot card reader Kendall Montgomery to uncover the truth.

Started this book last night and finished it today after my errands.  I have to admit, it was hard to put down.

Aidan and his brothers return to the post-Katrina New Orleans as it struggles to rebuild and find its way back to prosperity.  The plantation they inherit is old but it is in good shape and takes little to bring it back to its former glory.  If it weren’t for the ghosts, the house would be perfect.

I liked Aidan and Kendall – their little mix of dislike and yet mutual attraction.  They work to overcome their differences – his disbelief over her abilities and his anguish over the loss of his first wife.  The descriptions of the house and time period were interesting – making me wish, yet again, that I could find an old Victorian to fix up.

Graham’s writing reminds me a lot of Barbara Michaels which translates as the book is never scary because the ghosts are friendly.  They have a mission and are there to see it through.  While the killer was quite easy to figure out very early on, the book was still interesting as it hinted about the black magic, voodoo and other religions of the deep South.

There were things I didn’t like about the book – things that Graham talks about early on that should be of massive importance that she seems to forget about until the end wrap up.  I found it rather irritating and made the story a bit choppy.  I also hate that she does not put in markers of any kind when she shifts from one person’s activities to another – it is so annoying.  One sentence you will be reading about Aidan and the very next sentence is something Kendall was involved in.  I do not like that way of writing.  Add an extra space or something to give the reader a chance to make the transition between characters.  I shouldn’t have to read a sentence twice trying to figure out who it was talking about.

Other than those two things, I found the story to be well written and enjoyable.  I give the book a B and do expect to finish the Flynn Brother’s series.

The Dead Path review

Goodreads says:

A haunting vision in the woods sets off a series of tragic events, leaving Nicholas Close lost amid visions of ghosts trapped in their harrowing, final moments. These uniquely ter­rifying apparitions lead him on a thrilling and suspenseful ride to confront a wicked soul, and will leave an indelible mark on lovers of high-quality suspense and horror alike.
Nicholas Close has always had an uncanny intuition, but after the death of his wife he becomes haunted, literally, by ghosts doomed to repeat their final violent moments in a chilling and endless loop. Torn by guilt and fearing for his sanity, Nicholas returns to his childhood home and is soon entangled in a dis­turbing series of disappearances and  murders—both as a sus­pect and as the next victim of the malignant evil lurking in the heart of the woods.
Stephen M. Irwin is the kind of debut author that readers love to discover—and rave about to all their friends. His electric use of language, stunning imagery, and suspenseful pacing are all on full display here. The Dead Path is a tour de force of wild imagination, taut suspense, and the creepiness, scariest setting since the sewers in Stephen King’s It.

I would love to give credit to whomever recommended this book to me but I honestly can’t remember who it was.  I hate when that happens – feel free to remind me because I am grateful you did.

The book started off a bit slow to me – it seemed as if it took quite a while for Nicholas to get to his hometown and the woods where it all begins and ends.  A recent widower, Nicholas is both depressed and disinterested in life until the first child goes missing in the same way his best friend had decades before.  As Nicholas tries to unravel the mysteries around the woods, he finds himself drawn into a sinister web as old as time itself.

Irwin pulls you in so subtly that it isn’t until around the 50th page you realize you can’t put the book down without knowing what happens next.  Black magic, voodoo, witchery…Nicholas encounters it all.  The use of spiders in the story gave me the willies.  I am rather phobic about spiders so this story will, no doubt, be incorporated in bad dreams over the next few days.  Irwin’s writing style has the scenes jumping off the pages.  Both disturbing and sinister, the book will keep you squirming in your seat – you might even gag a time or two before the end.  I found myself swishing at invisible spiders crawling up my leg more than once – such vile little creatures.

I’ve read in other reviews that this is Aussie Stephen Irwin’s debut novel and that it was in the running for the best horror book of the year.  I’d like to know what book won for it is hard to imagine a spooky story more worthy.  My only disappointment in the book was the ending – it did not go the way I had thought it would yet the ending did make a certain amount of sense.  I’m not one who has to have happy endings and I’m not saying this wasn’t one – but it wasn’t the one I expected.  Usually I can guess a book’s ending pretty accurately but this one had a little twist I didn’t see coming.

If you love spooky stories – ones where you swear you can feel spiders crawling down your spine – this is the book for you.  I give the book an A!

Thriller Thursday

Hard to believe we are halfway through 2012 already!  I swear the winter months drag but every other season flies by.  Just amazing to me that we are already talking about autumn events like football and how to prepare for another great season – it is only two months away!

I am reading two books at the moment – I can’t say I’m overly impressed with either however, I haven’t been reading on either that long to make a judgement on whether I will or won’t like them.  The books are:

     

I have high hopes for both.  🙂