Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dark Mountain

Written by Richard Laymon
©1987 by Leisure Books
ISBN: 0-8439-6138-4
321 pp.

From the book cover: “For two families, it was supposed to be a relaxing camping trip in the California mountains. They thought it would be fun to get away from everything for a while. But they’re not alone. The woods are also home to two terrifying residents who don’t take kindly to strangers – an old hag with unholy powers, and her hulking son, a half-wild brute with uncontrollable, violent urges. The campers still need to get away – but now their lives depend on it!”

I’ve never been much of a camper. A long time ago we had a pickup topper and went to Mt. Rushmore and a few other places but we never tent-camped. To me a tent always seemed so vulnerable and after reading this book, you’ll NEVER find me in a tent.

Buddies Scott O’Toole and Arnold ‘Flash’ Gordon decide to take their families on a backpacking trip. The group includes Scott’s girlfriend, his teenage daughter and his younger son and Flash’s wife, teenage son and younger twin daughters. They’ve all camped before but not together and not in this area. They plan on making a week of it, hiking up the mountain trails by day and camping by different lakes at night. They spend their evenings telling spooky stories around the campfire. Big mistake, right there! LOL Before they know it, they’re living a worse story than any they could have made up.

I didn’t enjoy this Laymon book quite as much as After Midnight (reviewed here) even though it started out great. It was good as far as the spook factor but I thought he was a little short filling out the story. He didn’t give hardly any background on the old woman and her son like where they came from or what they were doing in the mountains. He gave some background on Scott and his girlfriend and the Gordons but I feel he could have told a little more to flesh out the story.

Friday, November 25, 2011

After Midnight

Written by Richard Laymon
© 1997 by Leisure Book
ISBN: 0-8439-5180-X
438 pp.

From the book cover – “Alice has quite a story to tell you. That’s not her real name, of course. She couldn’t give her real name, not after all the things she reveals about herself in this book. All of her … adventures. And all that killing. She wouldn’t want the police to find her, now would she?
It started out so nice. Alice was house-sitting for her friend, enjoying having the whole place to herself, with the sunken bathtub and big-screen television. But everything went wrong that first night, when she looked out the window and saw a strange man jumping naked into the swimming pool. Alice just knew he would be coming to get her, like all those other men before. But she would never be a victim again. Not after she remembered the old Civil War saber hanging in the living room …”

Oh … my… God! This book is one of those that genuinely gives you the creeps and makes you get up and pull your curtains and check your locks. Have you ever gotten up to lock the door and been SURE someone was just on the other side? That’s the feeling I got from reading the first chapter. No spooks, no aliens, no four-legged creatures … just real people who can sometimes be real monsters.

I have to say this author has quite the imagination, even more so than King or Koontz. Alice is her own worst enemy making herself scared which causes the death of the first person. Then she tries to cover that death up and one thing leads to another and another. The methods of death in the book are very graphic and made me squirm at times but I loved the book. I have another Laymon book to read next, Dark Mountain. I hope it’s just as good.

I borrowed the books from my sister who shares my taste in books. Thanks Anne.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Her Shoes

Written by Jennifer Weiner
© 2002, Published by Pocket Books
ISBN: 0-4165-0334-X
521 pp. followed by questions with the author

From the book cover – “Rose is a thirty-year-old attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She’s going to start exercising next week, and she dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses and tell her she’s beautiful. Maggie is twenty-eight and drop-dead gorgeous. Although her stardom hasn’t progressed past her hip’s appearance in a music video, she dreams of fame and fortune. These two sisters claim to have nothing in common but DNA, a childhood tragedy, and a shoe size, but when they’re forced into cohabitation, they may just learn that they’re more alike than they thought.”

I love Jennifer Weiner’s books. She doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is and In Her Shoes is no exception. Rose and Maggie lost their mother at a young age and Rose has always tried to look out for her sister. That’s hard to do when Maggie has such a different lifestyle. She’s dyslexic and to make up for poor performance in school, she uses her looks to get what she wants. When she does have money, she spends it on partying, makeup and clothes. She can’t hold a job or keep an apartment, has a bad habit of snooping whenever she can and doesn’t hesitate to ‘borrow’ money or clothes without asking. She ends up on Rose’s doorstep at a very inopportune time. On the other hand, Rose is somewhat of a stick-in-the-mud. She packs a few extra pounds, dresses very conservatively, and only splurges on great shoes and romance novels. The last thing she wants is her unreliable sister intruding in her life again just as she’s finally found a boyfriend.

I couldn’t live with someone like Maggie without wanting to throttle her daily. I was surprised Rose put up with her as long as she did. When something happens that blows their relationship apart, you have to wonder if they’ll ever speak again. Throw in a ‘wicked’ stepmother, a long-lost grandmother and her retirement community buddies, an unlikely suitor, and a few dogs and you have a great story.

I bought this book at a flea market. Jennifer Weiner is also the author of Good in Bed and Little Earthquakes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What the Night Knows

Written by Dean Koontz

©2010 Published by Bantam Books
ISBN: 978-0-553-80772-1
442 pp.

From the book jacket: “In the late summer of a long-ago year, a killer arrived in a small city. His name was Alton Turner Blackwood, and in the space of a few months, he brutally murdered four families. His savage spree ended only when he himself was killed by the last survivor of the last family, a fourteen-year-old boy.

Half a continent away and two decades later, someone is murdering families again, re-creating in detail Blackwood’s crimes. Homicide detective John Calvino is certain that his own family – his wife and three children – will be targets in the fourth crime, just as his parents and sisters were victims on that distant night when he was fourteen and killed their slayer.

As a detective, John is a man of reason who deals in cold facts. But an extraordinary experience convinces him that sometimes death is not a one-way journey, that sometimes the dead return.

Here is a ghost story like no other you have read. In the Calvinos, Dean Koontz brings to life a family that might be your own, in a war for their survival against an adversary more malevolent than any he has yet created, with their own home the battleground. Of all his acclaimed novels, none exceeds What the Night Knows in power, in chilling suspense, and in sheer mesmerizing storytelling."

This book is pure Koontz – fantastic suspense, horror and lots of gore thrown in to keep you looking over your shoulder. If you don’t like detailed descriptions of torture and murder, this is NOT the book for you. I happen to think it adds a lot to the fright-factor.

Alton Turner Blackwood was a deformed and abused boy who grew up to be the abuser. Only by killing did he feel powerful. John Calvino put a stop to his murderous rampage 20 years ago but now a copycat killing has taken place. Is John right to think his family is in danger, and why? Has Blackwood returned from the dead? The answer is yes AND no – you'll have to read the book to understand what that means.

I purchased this book at the Albia flea market.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dark Road Home

Written by Karen Harper
©1996 Signet
Published by the Penguin Group
442 pp.

From the book cover: “Attorney Brooke Benton comes to the Maplecreek Amish community to escape the stalker who terrorized her after her last murder case. She feels safe running a friend’s quilt shop, but the homespun Amish frown on her worldly ways. Daniel Brand, returning to his Amish people after years in the outside world, knows he should have a good Amish wife, but it is the wildly attractive and accomplished Brooke who catches his eye.

When a mysterious hit-and-run driver kills four Amish teenagers, Brooke fears the isolated Amish community may also be in jeopardy, and she plunges into an investigation. When Dan joins her chase to pin down the killers, the trail takes them to Las Vegas, where they find more than they bargained for: Brooke and Dan find love – and its power to break through all barriers. This compelling novel of romantic passions, clashing values, and riveting suspense brims with verve and authenticity.”

This book has such a sad beginning – four young Amish people on their way home at night in a buggy, are victims of a hit-and-run driver. Three are killed outright and the fourth dies at the hospital. The Amish believe it’s the will of God but Brooke is determined to find who did it. She’s in Maplecreek hiding from a stalker and doesn’t want any publicity that may give away her location but she feels very strongly about the loss of the young Amish people. Daniel Brand had returned to Maplecreek just that day and along with Brooke, is the one who hears and finds the accident. One of the victims is his niece and the daughter of one of Brooke’s Amish friends.

I found this book to be very interesting and I learned a lot about the Amish community. We have much smaller groups that live in areas of southern Iowa but they pretty much keep to themselves. It would be quite an experience to live and work with them. The author did a good job intertwining the romance of Brooke and Daniel, her quest for the killers, and the everyday lives of the Amish. I enjoyed reading about their ways and the bits about the quilt store was interesting, too.

I bought this book at a flea market. Most of my books are then recycled by donating them to a local resale shop that serves the community food bank.