Date: January 11, 2017

Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season: Winner!

1. Nightime Reading Center (1)

2. Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books (2)

3. hahn’s (3)

4. BrokenTune (4)

5. Portable Magic (5)
And the winner is!

Portable Magic! Congratulations!


Thanks to everyone who participated and did not black out this task list as well!

Romance Book Bingo: Update! 5 Squares Completed!

 

Reckless by Amanda Quick (Free Space)

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy Romance)

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (Young Adult)

Rendezvous by Amanda Quick (Historical Romance)

Scandal by Amanda Quick (Regency Romance)

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

Ashley Bell by Dean KoontzAshley Bell by Dean Koontz
Series: Ashley Bell
Published by Bantam on December 8, 2015
Genres: Horror, Thriller
Pages: 770
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
one-star

The girl who said no to death.

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, “We’ll see.”

Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.

But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?

Bibi’s obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.

Oh man. This is going to be a doozy. I am still mad and I finished this up last night. I mean I woke up at one point last night and maybe screeched yelled at the final reveal to this book. I have loved older Koontz books, but his most recent stuff besides the Odd Thomas books hasn’t really resonated with me. The only book I recall that I even “liked” was “The City” and even that got on my nerves at times.

I think this book highlights many of the ways that his recent works have not worked for me anymore. There’s a dog in this one (a golden retriever…of course), there’s an exceptional woman that appears to know everything about everything. She has a man that loves her and of course he is an expert at weaponry (he’s a Navy SEAL) though usually in this latest works the woman is also great at weaponry. Koontz gets too lyrical at times instead of just telling the story. He took the unreliable narrator story and cranked it to 100. There is also not much horror in this one really. I miss old school Koontz who actually had horror novels like “Watchers,” “Phantoms,” and “The Bad Place.” This was a not that great thriller/mystery with a let down of an ending.

There are multiple POVs in this one, so just prepare yourself. The main character we follow through most of Ashley Bell though is Bibi Blair. Bibi is an up and coming writer who lives in California. She is happy in her life, engaged to her fiancee Paxton who is off in Afghanistan on a black out mission (I hope you like reading about that by the way) she is waiting until he comes home and they can go off and start their life together. However, Bibi wakes up one day and feels awful. Her hands and legs go numb and she has a nasty taste in her mouth. Willing herself not to panic, she calls her mother who takes her to the hospital and there is eventually delivered life changing news. Apparently Bibi has a cancer so insidious that it will kill her within a year and there’s no cure. Bib refuses to allow herself to believe in her doctor’s words and says she will beat the cancer. And miraculously she does, however, her recovery leads her down a dark path to some people who have drawn her into a deadly game of trying to protect a young teenage girl named Ashley Bell.

Without getting too spoilery about things, Koontz draws things out way too long. Once part of the plot was revealed to me I was so irritated I didn’t know what to do. Koontz also doesn’t go back and explain some things that would have been better served after the fact I thought. We get facts about people in the story after the fact that Koontz doesn’t set up initially. There was a lot of back and forth about how Paxton doesn’t really deserve Bibi (because she is the best thing that has ever walked the Earth) but they all hope he can try to be good enough for her. That Bibi apparently could be a huge best selling author, but chooses not to be, cause reasons. I don’t know. Don’t look at me for explanation of this stuff.

Most of the characters were not very well thought out at all I thought. The book splits up the action between Bibi and her fiancee Paxton. I have never in my life cared so little about a character in my life. He was dull (hey I read romance books, at least talk about his hot body/abs or something) and reading about his missions, how much he cared about his friends, etc. got old real quick. I thought Koontz was channeling Lee Child for a bit there with a Reacher type character and just started skimming when he showed up in the story.

Bibi’s parents were barely in this story which was just odd. I wanted more information about them. We start off with there POVs, and then they fade out of the story, only to appear again. Also they are both surfers so be happy reading as they talk “surfer” and people keep saying things like “she’s walking the board.”

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There was so much hippie type speech/dialogue that I wanted to find a puppy and yell in it’s face to tell it that it’s not cute to get all of the frustration out of my system.

There’s another character named Pogo (and no I refuse to get into him much) and he was dismissed earlier in the book, but the reveal about how close he was to Bibi and her family didn’t work based on what came before.

We find out about another character named Captain and I said bah to the whole story-line (which drove the plot) from beginning to end. Nothing made sense at all. I had a hard time imagining a scenario where he would be able to do what he did.

The bad people (I am just going to collectively call them that) didn’t really work at all. They were way too Scooby-Doo villain for me.

Some of the writing was just awful. A couple of times i just cringed at the try hard.

“Between two of the joists, backlit by a bare dust-coated bulb in a white ceramic socket, a fat spider danced from string to string, plucking from its silken harp a music beyond human hearing.”

“The vintage dinette chairs featured chrome-plated steel legs and seats upholstered in black vinyl. Very 1950s. She liked the ’50s. The world hadn’t gone crazy yet.”

“But there’s no room at all for free spirits in modern academia, with its speech codes and humorless moralizing. So she makes two lives for herself, or three for all we know, or four, and in the end there’s no satisfaction in being multiple Solange St. Croixs instead of one.”

Can we please stop with the 1950s being the best of times in America? I am so freaking over it. You can like the clothes, the writing, the American dream and all of that, and you still must acknowledge it was terrible for a good portion of us out there who were not white.

The flow was bad in this one. I think each chapter was about 5-6 pages long. And after a certain point, we follow Bibi on her adventures, and Paxton on his. It was too much to focus on while reading. And since things were being revealed more in Paxton’s story, I found myself irritated going back to Bibi’s and realizing that she was behind so to speak what was being revealed to readers and other characters in this story.

The ending was a hot joke. I seriously thought the bad guy and the thing that went bump in the night was just a bad joke come to life. I don’t think I ever read a Koontz book that thunked the landing so hard since Saint Odd.

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There are other books in this series, apparently two novellas. But I am going to pass on them and go about my day.  I just don’t want to revisit these characters anytime soon. I did read the reviews though, and the novellas were better received than this novel based on what I can tell. I have said for years that Koontz’s short stories are pretty great, look at “Strange Highways” if you want to see some of them. I also loved the novella for “The City” it gave me hope old school Koontz was back.

one-star

P.S. I Like You by Kaise West

P.S. I Like You by Kaise WestP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Published by Point on July 26th 2016
Genres: YA
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed: ebook
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Signed, sealed, delivered . . .

While zoning out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her.

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters— sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out . . .

Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it

So all in all I really liked this book. It was cute, and was a great little homage to You’ve Got Mail, which was a great homage to The Shop Around the Corner. I read this for Romance Bingo 2017 and this fits my Young Adult square.

Told in the first person, we have Lily, a teenage girl who has a chaotic (but loving) home life, and only has one best friend. Lily plays guitar and tries her hand at writing lyrics, but mostly she keeps to herself while clashing with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend who treated her badly.  After writing song lyrics on her Chemistry desk, she comes back the next day to see that someone has written the next line on the desk, and from there she starts exchanging notes with an unknown boy at her school who she finds gets her, and she really gets.

I liked Lily cause God knows I grew up in a family where I could not get five minutes of myself alone. She’s a loner, but has her best friend who she loves and who is always there to cheerlead her on.  Lily is a hipster I would say, but an unaware one based on what everyone else says to her. She loves music, indie rock mostly it appears. And she has a guitar and is trying her hand at writing lyrics. When a song writing contest opens up to Lily, she finds herself blocked for a bit until she and her mysterious  pen pal start trading back notes to each other. Based on the things he tells her, Lily finds herself writing about the things he makes her feel, but also about his loneliness.

What I thought was smart was that West allows us as readers to see the back and forth between Lily and her mysterious pen pal. You can see why she’s falling for this guy (whoever he is) and you see how vulnerable both of them are being while revealing things about themselves. I did laugh at bit here and there though, cause I cannot imagine a teen boy (even if he was anonymous) discussing some of the personal stuff that Lily and him discussed.

I do have to say that some of the secondary characters could have been built up a bit. Lily’s best friend (I ashamed I forget her name) was not really there except to be her wise friend and be totally understanding at all times. It pretty much comes out repeatedly that Lily’s friend broke up with her ex because he and Lily could not get along. Then there is a complete re-write to the whole thing and just made me roll my eyes.

The mean girl was so one dimensional and “evil” it just made me shake my head. Has high school gotten worse? I can’t imagine people like this at all. We had some bullies at school when I was growing up, but thank God the teachers/principal didn’t put up with it and made sure those people were suspended and dealt with. Heck two boys I went to school with were flat out expelled for what they were doing to people in class.

The pen pal didn’t take long for me to figure out at all. You watch “You’ve Got Mail” and you can pretty much figure out who it is. What I did like is watching Lily having to cope with finding out who the guy is that she fell in love with via notes.

Image result for you've got mail gif

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All the feels. I love Tom Hanks. That is all.

I liked the writing. Lily’s family scenes were freaking hilarious at times. The pacing moved okay too, though the end felt rushed as anything. There is a big incident at school and then it felt like it got resolved ten seconds later.

The ending didn’t stick the landing though. I would have liked to see what happened with Lily and the song writing contest she entered. Having an epilogue that said six months later would have worked wonders.

three-half-stars

Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season: Winner to be Announced Soon!

Sorry all that it has taken us this long to put this post together. But due to slowness issues and just general issues with uploading pictures/gifs/etc. we couldn’t put this post together until now.

Thanks all who participated in this here at Booklikes! I had a lot of fun with this one, and definitely needed something to distract me the past couple of weeks. I am sorry we didn’t have a chance to discuss as much as I would have liked. But hopefully with those participating in Romance Book Bingo 2017, we can get the discussions up and running again.

1. Nightime Reading Center (1)

2. Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books (2)

3. hahn’s (3)

4. BrokenTune (4)

5. Portable Magic (5)

These are the only people who I saw in our discussion group that blacked out the twelve tasks. If I am missing your completed card, please post to the discussion thread or the comments below.
We will announce the winner at 3 p.m. EST.

Blue

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