Saturday, October 24, 2009

Something I Don't Normally Do...

My focus here is usually the reading, writing, reviewing, and promoting of Christian (or if you wish, biblical worldview) fiction. However, now and then I'll read a book from the general market. Some contemporary novelists I enjoy include John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton and James Patterson.

My latest foray into this realm came last week with my discovery of Koontz' Relentless. Some reviewers say Koontz is stuck in a rut--that all of his characters sound the same and his plots are overused. I don't agree. While Relentless wasn't his best, in my opinion, it certainly ranked somewhere near the Odd Thomas novels, which are my favorite of his.

Some things I like about Koontz:

1. His villains are always completely evil. (Perhaps there is an exception I can't remember. Feel free to comment and enlighten me.)
2. His heroes are normal people who somehow cross a bad guys' path, and as a consequence must fight for their lives. In other words, they are not public figures, especially talented, or have anything too remarkable about them.
3. The characters are quirky. He uses characters who are autistic, geniuses, have a specific medical problem, see dead people, have a dog or a kid with a special gift, etc.
4. There is always laughter. The dialogue is dry and witty. Always.
5. There is love. He portrays strong family relationships and shows family fighting for each other at all costs.

He also frequently uses dogs that are extraordinary, and though interesting, isn't really one of my favorite things about his novels.

So, for the something I don't normally do. I will recommend Relentless. It's a little graphic in spots, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. It's engaging, funny, and inspiring. And the good guy wins. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

CSFF Tour this week: Haunt of Jackals, by Eric Wilson

My review:

This novel, second in the Jerusalem’s Undead series, continues the story of Gina Lazarescu, a special lady who is more than what she seems. She must hide from the Collectors—immortal spirits who inhabit the bodies of the dead in order to wreak havoc on humanity—partially by finding and killing the Nistarim, the Concealed Ones, who carry the world’s cares on their shoulders and aid Those Who Resist.

Cal Nichols, one of the original Nistarim and Gina’s father, works to keep not only Gina safe, but also Dov Amit, a young boy on the side of good. One of the orphans in Gina’s care, Pavel, shows signs of being a Concealed One. They must both escape to America in order to stay under the Collectors’ radar. Throughout the book, Gina and Cal fight Collectors and banish the blood-drinkers forever to torment.

Wilson is in his element in his treatment of themes, fleshing out ideas such as: God uses ordinary people, love covers a multitude of sins, evil may be unseen and yet deadly, things happen for a reason, and there is strength in numbers (two are better than one). True to form, Wilson brings many historical elements into play, such as the Dracula legend, Nazi programs, and Russian czars.

From Italy to Romania to Israel to Germany to China to the Pacific Northwest, the scope of this tale just keeps growing. The Collectors are everywhere, but so are Those Who Resist, and the Nazarene blood will prevail.

Usually, the first book in a series is the best--sometimes the second story in a trilogy loses something and wanders a bit without satisfying resolution. Not so with Haunt of Jackals. Everything is in full swing here and the action doesn’t let up. We are let in on more secrets, such as finding out who the mysterious journaler is and more about Cal’s past. All told I found Haunt to be even better than Field of Blood, and I didn’t know how that would be possible. I eagerly anticipate the release of Valley of Bones next year.

Learn more about Eric's writing here:
Eric's Website
Jerusalem's Undead trilogy site

Buy the book here:
Book Link

And finally, here are our other tour participants' links:

Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Amy Browning
Karri Compton
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Dawn King
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

May I recommend...

This is my second Bug Man novel, and I'm wishing I had caught all of Downs' books in order. I've read some dry humor in my day, but Nick's dialogue had me frequently bursting into laughter. The other night I actually got in trouble because I was up late reading and my husband was asleep next to me--"was" being the operative word. I literally had to stop reading because I couldn't silence my chuckles. I blame Nick.

Lest anyone think it's only a funny book, fret not. It's got a great plot, great characters, and a few serious as well as dangerous parts. Definitely suspenseful and definitely a must-read.