The City by Dean Koontz

The City is a 398 page sort of paranormal fiction by Dean Koontz, published by Bantam in July 2014. I received an ARC from Netgalley for review.

The CityThe story centers on a young boy, Jonah Kirk Bledsoe (plus about 7 more musician’s names in between) and his experience with music, adult friends, a deadbeat father, and a spiritual embodiment of the city, known as Miss Pearl. Additional plot focuses on a bank heist, some murders, and some “intrigue.” Jonah, as a young, black piano player, idolizes many famous black musicians of his day (the 1960s). While some of the name drops of musicians and songs were an interesting add, it often didn’t feel like it had an impact on the story.

This book was at times interesting, at times incredibly boring. I liked the character of Jonah and I actually loved one of his adult friends, Mr Yoshioka. He was a fantastically complex character–I would have preferred the book to focus more on him, actually. Jonah appeared both as mature and annoyingly simple–I think in part because the story is told from Jonah’s point of view as an old man. It seemed that Koontz wanted this to lend importance to certain events, but it actually just pulled me out of young Jonah’s story and didn’t allow me to feel immersed in the actual ‘present’ (aka past) events.

Jonah’s mom, a singer perpetually looking for a better job, is like a cookie cutter character. In fact, a lot of the characters were kind of like that. It was actually the minor characters that I cared more for than the main ones. This also led to the book swaying from boring to interesting–small bits of fun parts when the minor characters had their own chapters to large narrative blocks of blah.

Overall, I really did not enjoy this novel. I started in July when I received the ARC, and just finished it on the 20th of September–struggling to read 5-10 pages a day when I could make myself sit down and read it. It took about 100 pages to even grab my attention at all. While some of the characters were interesting, the plot just couldn’t hold my attention. What should have been intensely suspenseful seemed to crawl.

While I have enjoyed many Koontz novels in the past, there are some that just do not stack up (Twilight Eyes). This is also one of those novels. For a better Koontz book, check out the “also wrote” section.

TITLE: The City
AUTHORDean Koontz
PAGES: 398
ALSO WROTE: Odd Thomas, Watchers
SORT OF LIKE: A musician’s biography meets Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman)
FIRST LINE: Prelude | “Malcolm gives me a tape recorder.”

Totally Unrelated: On Writing

I am currently taking a class called Theory and Practice of Writing. Our first assignment, besides reading, was to write a Literacy Autobiography. This is an approach to understand how we learned to write, why we write like we do, and really just learn about our writing. I took a few examples from learning various writing approaches and talked about my how my need for perfectionism in writing really stunted my desire, and therefore ability, to write. While this has almost nothing to do with book reviews, I wanted to share my story with you.

How did you learn to write? Do you remember? I had to ask my mom about it, because I have poor memory of my childhood. Ask your parents, or elementary teachers, because the response could be really interesting. Either let me know in the comments or keep the information to yourself. Anywho, here’s my paper. More

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

The Republic of Thieves, published by Del Ray in October 2013, is the third book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence, written by Scott Lynch. BEWARE, there be spoilers here. If you haven’t read the first two, I would recommend either not reading this review or not caring about spoilers.

The Republic of Thieves (Gentleman Bastard, #3)

The main plot of the novel deals with Locke, who was poisoned at the end of book two, and Jean trying anything and everything to find a cure to the poison. Awesomely, they turn to the dangerous and exciting Bondsmagi to help cure him–in exchange for a political stint attempting to keep their government power. So, while the magic and Bondsmagi are cool, the political aspect is less interesting, except, of course, for their silly and dangerous shenanigans keeping things interesting. More

Will Not Attend by Adam Resnick

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick (an Emmy Award-winning writer for NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman), published by Blue Rider Press in May 2014, is a 272 page humorous memoir of sorts. I received a copy of the book from the Goodreads First Reads program. While a review isn’t mandatory, of course I’m pleased to write one.

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and IsolationThis book is exactly what it says it is: lively stories of detachment and isolation. Resnick takes the reader through “chapters” of short narratives about times in his life where he has been expected to be social, and either outright refused or hilariously failed. I learned more about his father than I expected, though–a strong, silent type that would get outrageously pissed off if you breathed the wrong way or made too much noise. More

Mini Reviews – British Novels Part 2

This is the second part to my reviews from the 20th Century British Novels class I took this semester. Here’s part 1. I read a lot of books for class this semester and really fell behind on reviewing them. Considering it has been a while since I read most of these books, I thought I would just do some mini reviews to round out the semester.

All books chosen were either Man Booker Prize winners or shortlisters. More

Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett

Exodus 2022 is an eco sci-fi thriller (seriously defying some genres) novel written by Kenneth G. Bennett, published by Booktrope Publishing in May 2014. I received a paper copy of the book through Novel Publicity, thanks to reviewing Bennett’s earlier novel, The Gaia Wars The plot of the novel is summed up pretty well (a spoiler-free teaser, anyway) in the synopsis:

EXODUS2022 cover artJoe Stanton is in agony. Out of his mind over the death of his young daughter. Or so it seems. Unable to contain his grief, Joe loses control in public, screaming his daughter’s name and causing a huge scene at a hotel on San Juan Island in Washington State. Thing is, Joe Stanton doesn’t have a daughter. Never did. And when the authorities arrive they blame the 28-year-old’s outburst on drugs. What they don’t yet know is that others up and down the Pacific coast—from the Bering Sea to the Puget Sound—are suffering identical, always fatal mental breakdowns. With the help of his girlfriend—Joe struggles to unravel the meaning of the hallucination destroying his mind. As the couple begins to perceive its significance—and Joe’s role in a looming global calamity— they must also outwit a billionaire weapons contractor bent on exploiting Joe’s newfound understanding of the cosmos, and outlast the time bomb ticking in Joe’s brain.

I read one review that mentioned this Dean Koontz-esque set up drew them in. If I had any inkling this book would have been Dean Koontz-esque, I probably wouldn’t even have picked it up. Though I loved Koontz in high school, after reading a number of his novels, I realized he writes in a hugely formulaic way, and Exodus 2022 is anything but formulaic or predictable. It was nice to break out of reading YA for this novel and to enjoy the constant surprises and unexpected plot turns. I haven’t read much eco sci-fi, but after this, I think I’ll start seeking it out. Bennett’s science in this book is beautiful, and his exploration of the world and the creatures that inhabit it just wowed me. More

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is a young adult romance novel loosely based on Esther Earl Grace–a young girl suffering from metastasized papillary thyroid cancer. It is a 318 page book published by Dutton Books in January of 2012. I got my ebook copy when it was on sale a while back intending to read it sometime in the future, and my roommate had it on her list as well, so it made our summer reading list

The Fault in Our Stars is fiction based on a nonfictional girl with cancer. Cancer girl meets cancer boy at cancer support group and cancer sparks fly aided by “Cancer Perks.” Cancer boy, aka Augustus Waters, has osteosarcoma and only one leg. Augustus and Esther Hazel Grace Lancaster, 17 and 16 respectively, have a cute little romp being cancer-y and afraid of falling for each other because of it. More

Mini Reviews – British Novels

I read a lot of books for class this semester and really fell behind on reviewing them. Considering it has been a while since I read most of these books, I thought I would just do some mini reviews to round out the semester.

This session is about my 20th Century British Novels Class. All books chosen were either Man Booker Prize winners or shortlisters. We tweeted #BritishNovels during class of fun quotes, ideas, etc. The tweets are probably gone by now, but this was a fun and interesting way to shake the class up (it was a three-hour-long night class). I’ll make this a two-parter, because we read eight books. I’ll just do three in this review (considering the fourth novel we read was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro) and four in the next. More

Found: Religious Advert

photo 1 (1)I actually have no idea what book I found this in. I got the book in my sophomore year in college. So that means in 2012 I found an advert for a 2004 Christian something or other that was to meet at a flagpole.

This image reads,



photo 2 (1)



This side says,

See You at the Pole
Wednesday, September 15, 2004

your school. your flagpole. you.




“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands
and a pure heart. . .”
Psalm 24:3-4

I think it’s pretty amusing that I found a religious advert considering I’m not remotely religious. I’m not too surprised that I found it at Wartburg, however, as it is ELCA affiliated. Another interesting find!

Summer Reading

This summer (starting early May), a few friends and I plan to devour a long list of books. While we all have a few we’re not going to read, a few extras we plan to read, and therefore have an individual list, we will mostly read the same books. We’ll be tweeting about the books (#BookedIt / #bookclub), possibly adding some Youtube videos to the Booktube section, etc.

And of course, I’ll be reviewing a good majority of the books. So I thought I would throw out an invitation to join us. If you would like to join in the reading of the books, they will be updated regularly on my “Currently Contemplating” widgets and posts. I’ve already read some of these, but I’ll either be rereading them or just participating in discussion.

The list is made up of some YA, fantasy, sci-fi, etc. I’ll definitely be reading Republic of Thieves early on, because I’m going to CONvergence in MN in July, and Scott Lynch will be there! I also may reread something by Emma Newman, or continue her series, The Split Worlds, in hope that she’ll be there, too.  Here’s the list:

  1. Infinite Jest* by David Foster Wallace
  2. Exodus 2022 by Kenneth G. Bennett
  3. Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick
  4. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
  6. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
  7. Between Two Thorns/Any Other Name by Emma Newman
  8. Nothing But Flowers: Tales of Post-Apocalyptic Love edited by Jodi Cleghorn, with a story by Emma Newman
  9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  10. London Falling by Paul Cornell
  11. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (My goal is to finish the last 200 pages, which I got stuck on a year or two ago)
  12. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  13. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  14. Legend by Maria Lu
  15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman
  16. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  17. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  19. Among Others by Jo Walton
  20. The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  21. Wool by Hugh Howey
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  23. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  25. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  26. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
  27. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  28. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
  29. Light Boxes by Shane Jones
  30. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  31. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  32. The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  33. On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
  34. Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson
  35. Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra
  36. Green Rider by Kristen Britain

*To be read ~ 15-20 pages a day due to massive length and intellectual demands.

We are constantly updating the list, so this is just a temporary one. I will probably add a new post each month updating the order/number of books for the projected month. If you want to read any of these books to join in on the discussion, you are more than welcome!

The Unfortunates by B.S. Johnson

The Unfortunates is a “book-in-a-box” which is 200-300ish pages (I didn’t count) by B.S. Johnson. It was first published in 1969 by Picador. The “book-in-a-box” concept is interesting–Johnson gives two definite chapters to be read, as entitled, First and Last. The other 25 “chapters” or bound sections ranging from 1 to 12 pages in length, are meant to be shuffled and read in a random order.

The plot features Johnson himself writing about his friend Tony, who has passed away from cancer. He writes of his memories of Tony and the times they spent together while he is writing a sports article about a football (soccer) match. He also writes about his ex-girlfriend, “Wendy,” his wife, whose name I can’t recall–and doesn’t seem important, and Tony’s wife, June. More


I’ve avoided talking about it yet, but I can’t help myself now that it’s at least a little relevant. I started working for Chegg recently, which is a college textbook rental and study help site. I’ve been doing some blog posts and whatnot for Chegg for the past couple months. My last post featured my favorite books that I read in school.

Check out the post and feel free to leave a comment there or here. It’s just a list with a little description of what books I’ve read in certain classes, what they were about, and why I loved them. If you’re not up to clicking the link, let me know in the comments here–what books did you read in class that you loved?

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a 335 page literary/historical fiction set in three major places–the Dominican Republic, New York, and New Jersey. It was published by Riverhead Books in 2007. I listened to the audiobook version (my first audiobook!).

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao coverThe story follows three character POVs–Yunior, a player of women (including Oscar’s sister), Lola (Oscar’s sister), and Beli (Oscar and Lola’s mom). It explores each character’s rebelliousness and trials/tribulations relating to love and being an outcast.

Oscar is an overweight nerd who just doesn’t fit in and can’t get laid. The book serves as a way to explore that thought through the people in Oscar’s life. Yunior’s commentary especially lends some analysis and deeper thoughts on Oscar’s loneliness.  More

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the final book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. It is a 526 page dystopian YA novel published in October of 2013. If you don’t care about reading the first two, continue on, otherwise you may want to read with caution as *HERE BE SPOILERS* for books 1 and 2.

Allegiant continues the plot from Divergent and Insurgent, which feature a dystopian Chicago where factions used to exist to coordinate society based on positive traits people had the most affinity for. Unfortunately, the faction system has broken and the factionless are vying for control. Tris and Tobias venture outside the bounds of the city to figure out a better solution than endless warring between factioned and factionless. More

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day is a 245 page historical fiction set in Great Britain. It was published in September 1990 by Vintage. I read this book for my 20th Century British Novel class, and so far it is my favorite of the books we’ve read.

The story takes place almost entirely in the main character’s memory. Stevens, a great butler for decades to Lord Darlington, now faces a change of pace as he goes from managing a staff of 20-30 people for the Darlington House, to managing three staff members for his new “lord,” an American named Farraday. The reminisces occur after Stevens accepts Farraday’s offer to “foot the bill for gas” as Stevens takes what is most likely his first vacation ever, to see some of the beauty of Great Britain. More

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