August 28, 2016

Cold Fire by Dean Koontz

Title:  Cold Fire
Author:  Dean Koontz
Pages:  421
Genre:  Psychological Thriller
Publisher:  Berkley, 1991
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis:  Reporter Holly Thorne is intrigued by Jim Ironheart, who has saved 12 lives in the past three months. Holly wants to know what kind of power drives him, why terrifying visions of a churning windmill haunt his dreams, and just what he means when he whispers in his sleep that an enemy who will kill everyone is coming.

Review:  Well, this was one odd story.  I can't really say too much about what is going on with Jim Ironheart without giving a major plot twist away.

This book had me on the edge of my seat, trying to figure out what was going on.  And then, I found out....along with the main characters....and was a little let down.  The ending wasn't half as scary or half as good as the rest of the book.

Mr. Koontz writes great, scary stories.  He just seems to have trouble with the endings sometimes.  They either tie up to neatly or else don't tie up at all.  This one was one of the former.  I would have given it a better score if the ending wasn't also completely unbelievable.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 22, 2016

Spiritwalk by Charles de Lint

Title:  Spiritwalk
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  398
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  TOR, 1992
Series:  Moonheart, Book 2

Synopsis:  Tamson House, in modern, urban Ottawa, is a rambling, eccentric curiosity of a house -- and a place of hidden Power.  Built at a point were the leylines meet, upon land that was once a sacred site, it is the gateway to a spirit-world where Celtic and Native American magicks mingle and leak into our own.

In the overgrown garden of Tamson House, a Coyote Man waits, green children walk, and music rises to greet the moon.  From the garden, a vast and primal wood is just one spirit-step away...and in that wood is something that threatens the very existence of Tamson House, and all who dwell within.

Review:  There are four short stories and one novella in this book.  They are all based on the same house and most of the same characters as Moonheart but they are additional stories, which all take place after the events in Moonheart.

I have a really hard time with short stories and novellas for the most part.  I do love Charles de Lint, but this book took me just over a full week to read.  That's really a long time for me to be on one book.  I've got to find some books that move a little more quickly if I'm going to meet my goals for this year.  I love the ideas and the fantasy in this book, but I didn't love it anywhere near as much as I did Moonheart.

Rating:  6.5 / 10

August 12, 2016

Moonheart by Charles de Lint

Title:  Moonheart
Author:  Charles de Lint
Pages:  447
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Tom Doherty, 1984
Series:  Moonheart, Book 1

Synopsis:  When Sara and Jamie discovered the seemingly ordinary artifacts, they sensed the pull of a dim and distant place. A world of mists and forests, of ancient magics, mythical beings, ageless bards...and restless evil.

Now, with their friends and enemies alike--Blue, the biker; Keiran, the folk musician; the Inspector from the RCMP; and the mysterious Tom Hengyr--Sara and Jamie are drawn into this enchanted land through the portals of Tamson House, that sprawling downtown edifice that straddles two worlds.

Sweeping from ancient Wales to the streets of Ottawa today, Moonheart will entrance you with its tale of this world and the other one at the very edge of sight...and the unforgettable people caught up in the affairs of both. A tale of music, and motorcycles, and fey folk beyond the shadows of the moon. A tale of true magic; the tale of Moonheart.

Review:  This is book is fabulous.  It's easily in my top five all-time favorite fantasy novels list.  Set in Ottawa, Canada and the Otherworld, there are quin'on'a (fairies) and little mysteries and Indians and an ageless, horrible evil.  There are ties to Myrrdin (Merlin) through his apprentice, Taliesin the Bard.

This story takes place in the present, with the Tamson House and its secrets and the RCMP and its inspectors.  It also takes place in the distant past, where Taliesin meets Sara on a beach.  History and the future are changed by their meeting and hope blossoms -- perhaps this time, the evil can be vanquished.

It was a glorious ride and I so want to visit the Otherworld and hear the drummers.  I want the Summer Country to be real.  And I want to meet Pukwudji, the little mystery with the heart of a lion.  All of the characters, even the 'make believe' ones, were drawn with such precision and such emotion that I believed.  And that's good because I really, more than anything, want to believe in this tale.

The best news is -- there's a sequel -- and I'll be starting it tomorrow.

Rating:  10 / 10

August 5, 2016

And Then You Die by Iris Johansen

Title:  And Then You Die
Author:  Iris Johansen
Pages:  322
Genre:  Romance / Thriller
Publisher:  Bantam, 1988
Series:  Stand Alone

Synopsis: She expected sunshine and balmy breezes. What she saw was everyone's worst nightmare.

Bess Grady has heard the unmistakable sound before. She knows what it means. But not even the eerie lament of the howling dogs can prepare her for what has taken place in the small village. The seasoned photojournalist had been sent there on an easy assignment, and now she has stumbled upon something she was never meant to see. Amid chaos and fear, she joins forces with an intimidating stranger, a man whose alliances are unclear but whose methods have a way of leaving bodies in his wake. For what she has witnessed is only the first stage in a plan of terror that may kill us all. And she has no choice but to stop it--or die trying....

Review:  This was an extremely fast-paced and exciting thriller.  Bess and Kaldak must stop a mad-man from releasing his horror on the United States.  There was also quite a bit of romance, some of it pretty sizzling, which I didn't enjoy as much as the other parts, but then I never have cared much for reading romance.

I picked up this book and read it compulsively.  I finished it in less than 24 hours.  It really was quite wonderful.

Rating:  8 / 10

August 4, 2016

Bloodhype by Alan Dean Foster

Title:  Bloodhype
Author:  Alan Dean Foster
Pages:  246
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Del Rey, 1988
Series:  Humanx Commonwealth, Book 22

Synopsis:  It caused instant addiction, followed by an excruciating slow death, and there was no known antidote. It was a killer. Supposedly the drug had been totally eradicated from the humanx galaxy years before. At least that's what everyone thought. But somehow, mysteriously, that dreadful substance was back in circulation on Repler and threatening to wreak havoc throughout the known galaxy. Someone somewhere was secretly manufacturing Bloodhype, but nobody seemed to know where or who!

Review:  Yes, this story is about a merchant who is selling the immediately addictive drug, Bloodhype.  It's also about an unknown and incredibly strong alien force that lives only to kill.

The usual hero, Flinx, plays a role, but it's a fairly minor one.  The main characters are a great deal of fun.  There are Mal Hammurabi, a merchant freighter captain; Kitten Kai-sung, a special agent; and Porsubah, Kitten's partner who also happens to be a large, intelligent racoon-type of creature.

There were plenty of laughs and plenty of thrills.  I knew the good guys would come out alright, since the series isn't done yet, but it didn't take away from the story at all.  The reptilian Aann are present too and, while they are usually not on the side of good, they are always enjoyable to read about.

I love this series best for one reason.  Each story follows the next chronologically, but I can stop and start as I see fit.  It's almost impossible to lose my place or forget what happened last.

Rating:  7 / 10
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